27-Oct-15 – 16:44 by ToddG

We have all heard the saying: “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” While attending classes that focus on handgun skills are both helpful and enjoyable, it sometimes leads to people thinking every problem can be solved with a hammer (pistol).

gregTwo well known instructors, Greg Ellifritz of Active Response Training (Ohio police officer with 20 years of experience) and Dr. William Aprill (Doctor of Psychology with extensive experience in criminal & juvenile psychology) have banded together to offer a class called Unthinkable that could easily be thought of as “everything but the nail.” The class is two days of facing things that — fantasy aside — you won’t be able to solve with a pistol and a bad attitude.

The class focusses on all sorts of things we know could happen but often ignore because they don’t involve our favorite hobby. For example, Greg gives an extensive lecture on understanding and identifying improvised explosives and bombers. William offers ample experience regarding VCAs (Violent Criminal Actors) such as offenders with antisocial personality disorder, sociopathy, and psychopathy — including ways to identify and distinguish among the three, and understanding the differences and dangers of each.

aprill2Other covered issues were the psychology of being a hostage or kidnap victim; Greg’s extensive lessons on escaping from bonds ranging from duct tape to handcuffs (some of which were much easier than most of the students expected); disarming a criminal who has you at gunpoint; self-aid in the event of a gunshot wound or similar serious injury; and William’s excellent “5 W’s of Risk.

Both instructors also recommended extensive libraries of worthwhile books and websites for further study.

While it’s fun to pretend that your response to five AK-wielding men invading your home by surprise is to gun them down heroically, it’s worthwhile to understand what they’re thinking, how your own brain is likely to react, and what you can & should do, including how to break out of the industrial zip-ties they use to bind your wrists and ankles. One of the most interesting parts of the class (for me) was William’s extensive discussion of pre-determined “GO” signals — conditions under which you will immediately and ruthlessly respond a threat. Many people have vague ideas about when or why they would react, like “someone tries to hurt my kid.” But are you really going to draw your gun and start shooting because an older kid at the park punches your daughter in the arm? Really? If the answer is “no” it may be time to think about more specific lines in the sand. You don’t want to be making those decisions in the middle of a catastrophic event.

As serious as the class topics were, the students had fun. The class is very interactive, and students cheered each other on to succeed against new challenges.

The typical student came to Unthinkable with a similar attitude: “I’ve taken a class on how to shoot someone who is trying to rape me; I’ve taken a class on how to stab someone who is trying to rape me; now I’m taking a class on how to remain sane and escape if someone kidnaps me and probably intends to rape me.” It’s far from the typical class popular among shooters. But it’s about facing the reality of things that might happen that most shooters don’t want to think about.

Unthinkable was hosted by John Murphy of FPF Training and help at Elite Shooting Sports in Manassas, Virginia.

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG

  1. 6 Responses to “Unthinkable”

  2. An interesting thing about this class is that it seems to vary a little bit topic wise depending on who William is teaching it with. When I took it it was William and Paul Sharp. That was a very good class, I look forward to taking it again with a different combo such as the one you describe and learn even more.

    By Mike on Oct 27, 2015

  3. When you carry a firearm for self defense or duty, you have three basic responses when confronted with a potential threat: (1) employ your firearm (you may or may not discharge it), (2) go hands on, or (3) retreat. These are fairly black and white responses to a situation. Unfortunately, we live in a world that likes to paint itself in shades of gray. Law enforcement and military security forces have many more options available to them, but most lawfully armed citizens do not. It is important to think about these potentially gray area situations and how you will react. Will you potentially make a bad situation worse by your actions? It is easy to say on paper what you will do if you are facing a bad guy with a gun who is shooting innocent people if you are lawfully armed. It is difficult if you are facing a potential bad guy who is somewhere between flipping you the bird and employing a lethal weapon. It’s worth taking a little while to think about, as these situations are much more likely to occur than having to make the decision between shooting someone as evil as Satan or not.

    By Steve on Oct 27, 2015

  4. Todd,

    Was this strictly a presentation/classroom type class or were there hands on stuff that just didn’t include shooting? It’s been on my list for awhile I’m hoping to get to it in 2016.

    By Aub on Oct 28, 2015

  5. That’s great to hear. I’m going to the Establishing a Dominance Paradigm workshop Dr. Aprill is doing with Tom Givens and Craig Douglas in January and am really looking forward to it.

    By VegasChris on Oct 28, 2015

  6. Aub — We worked on getting out of tape, flex cuffs, and hand cuffs. Another segment had us applying tourniquets. There was also 2-man practice of weapons disarms and weapon retention. I’d say it was about 70% lecture and 30% practice.

    By ToddG on Oct 30, 2015

  7. Ditto! Great class. It could’ve gone another day, as far as I was concerned.
    Ellifritz is excellent and practical–love his informative, relevant blog, too. Aprill is in a unique class of teachers, with a significant background and excellent communications skills. As has been said, espec. by Todd who attended, this class is highly effective and directly applicable to everyone carrying–or not carrying. The threat is real to everyone, irrespective of CCW status. Because you don’t carry–or don’t CCW, but are ready at home–there is no excuse to not know the threat and their ways and means; it apples. They do vary the class somewhat, I’m told, which only makes it more interesting each time you go. And I’ll go again! You should, too.

    By MikeN on Oct 31, 2015

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