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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This weekend I spent the day at the West Shore Sportmans Association shooting range, in Harrisburg PA, and participated in ATSAs monthly study group.

ATSA (American Tactical Shooters Association) holds a study group on the third Saturday of every month.

Here is their web-site:

The group also sponsors what is called the National Tactical Invitational once every year. People from all over the world come to test at the NTI. I've met people from the Secret Service, FBI, Military, Doctors, Lawyers, Salesmen, Mechanics, Prison Guards, Business owners, Students, LEOs from all over the states and LEO trainers from Australia, Europe and even Bahamas. Some of them are loud and obnoxious, some are quiet and reserved, some are very approachable, some are not. There are a lot of different characters you will meet at the NTI and study groups, and all are good people but the one, glarinly evident, common factor that is found in them all is that they realize that "Their" safety relies on "THEM" and "THEM" alone.

In the study groups they discuss everything from tactics, history, equipment, legal ramifications, alternate weapons, environmental weapons, mindset, training drills, other study groups, other training facilities and what they offer, care and cleaning of defensive tools etc., etc., etc.... If it deals with self-defense and self-preservation it gets talked about in depth.

The day is broken in half with a lecture the first half and then drills to help hone peoples abilities to defend themselves in a crappy situation.

This study group discussed what might have happened during the attacks on the US last week and ways that it could have been prevented or ways that may have helped the passengers regain control of the plane. Knowing hind sight is always 20/20 and not taking away from the heroes in the plane that went down in Somerset PA, which may have been destined for the Whitehouse, the discussion wasn't "They should have done this -or- They shouldn't have done that...", it was more like what could have been done?". What could have been used knowing what information the passengers might have known at the time?"

It was a good and long discussion. What really was a point that hit home was when the fellow, on the plane that wrecked in PA, made a phone call to his wife and told her that, "They might die doing what they are going to do but they have to do it..." He accepted his fate and still fought on, him and a few others on the plane.

A review on John Farnams long gun course was brought up by a few that attended the class. They reviewed what the curriculum was and what they noted about the training, equipment and testing of the class. It was a highly recommend course by the several students that attended it.

I took some photos of the drills we worked on outside and the force-on-force scenario. Unfortunately I didn't get to take photos of the house clearing drill because of safety reasons, of course.

The photos aren't of great quality. I couldn't get Ichiro Nagata to break away from his busy schedule to take the photos and unfortunately this Asian doesn't have top quality photo equipment OR skill to do the photos justice.

These are photos that were taken on Range 3. It was a basic knife drill. At the ROs command you block the dummies arm closest to you and from concealment draw and slash and continue to slash. It was done with both drawing from dominant side and non-dominant side. People who carry two knives had a definite advantage over those who carried one. Those that carried two knives and practice had a far definite advantage over those that just carried two

Notes were taken on anyone who had a knife that couldn't cut through the duct tape and cut into the foam underneath. A couple months ago at one of the study group Jim Garthwaite showed us how to keep a good edge on a knife.

Yes, the world-renowned pistolsmith Jim Garthwaite. He doesn't just know how to build a great pistol, he knows how and when to use them too. He attends the study groups also.

Continued in next post.....

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·

This drill simulated two aggressors with weapons ready to shoot and a loved one running in front of them. You goal is to move off the line of force, draw from concealment, while verbalizing and shoot and not hit the innocent and continue to move and shoot until the RO states, "They're down!".
All shooting drills at ATSA are done moving unless you have found cover and it's tactically sound to stay behind cover instead of finding better ground. So we're moving a lot.

After the drill I approached the loved one and proceeded to smack the hell out of them for not diving down and staying out of the line of fire

Another note: Some of the targets are designed to look extremely life like. They have flesh tones and painted in eyes. They are 3-D and some have been modified to move their arms and move. They have solid center cores to go down if hit with a round or rounds of ammo. Some people who are so used to shooting one-dimensional targets are really taken back by these Target-pro dummies and brings a lot of realism into these drills.

This drill was the basic 6 plate rack but it was done three times. The first time is drawing from concealment and shooting dominant side only while moving constantly. Second time is drawing from concealment and shooting non-dominant side only. Third was draw from concealment and shoot free handed or whichever way you wanted to.

The purpose of the drill was to work on accuracy while moving with either and both hands, just in case one hand is hurt or has it on a loved one trying to push them away from the kill zone.
The other outside drill was the house clearing drill, which I didn't get any photos of due to safety reasons.

You entered a house and the RO followed you into a small closet sized room. He then tells you the bedtime story. The bed time story is the story to get you further into the scenario. It sets you up for what you have gotten yourself into and may give you clues for what you may encounter.

This bed time story is that you enter a doctor's office and need to use the rest room and that's where you start out. The RO places you in the room and tells you to face the wall and will return shortly. The RO returns after a couple seconds and says you may begin. So I start to unzip my pants and he says to, "STOP!" laughingly he says, "you're done!"

As I put my hand on the doorknob I hear BANG! BANG! He's gotta a gun everybody run!

Of course your objective here is to get out of the building alive and unharmed by challenging and if necessary neutralizing the bad guys not hitting innocents and not exposing yourself to the bad guys.

Continued in next post.....

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I have saved the best for last. It is the Force-on-force scenarios. Shooting and moving and drawing from concealment definitely helps in your ability to shoot and survive but Force-on-force truly tests your ability to deal with potential targets that move, talk, get angry, get scared and try to scare you.

In Force-on-force you take a lot more in than just a shooting exercise. You can read body language and interact with others who you haven't designated as a bad guy or not. You have the ability to leave a situation before it gets hairy, most of the time, and you are encouraged to act the way you would act in real life.

In Force-on-force you can be armed with a simunitions gun, which is a real gun modified to only shoot simuntion rounds. Which sting like heck and leave a blue mark where you've been hit. If you carry a knife they arm you with a rubber knife and if you carry a cell phone or pepper spray they give those to you too.

When a bad guy dons a FIST suit (fully padded suit of armor) on you may, if required to, strike and kick and punch the bad guy.

This is as real as you can come to a violent confrontation without having to paying someone to mug, beat, rob, rape or kill you. You'd be surprised at how many people, off the street, look at you funny and walk the other way (FAST) when you say, "I'm training. I want you to attack me full force and hurt me....."

Here is a photo of what you have to first go through to enter Force-on-force. You are thoroughly searched from head to toe for any real weapons that maybe used reflexively against any of the role players. Even the role players are searched and so are the ROs. Anyone who enters must go through this process to insure no one brings in a live weapon or anything that can bring a training day to a drastic and fatal end. I suggest and demand anyone doing force-on-force scenarios incorporate this into their pre-scenario routine if they aren't already.

Oh yeah and one more thing.... If you give big Willie any problems in the day, he takes out the latex gloves and brings new meaning to the term, "thorough search."

During the scenario you put on a neck brace and keep your shooting glasses on and put on an industrial face shield to protect your face from the sims round. Unless it's this scenario......

This scenario is a non-weapon scenario. You aren't allowed to arm yourself with a sim gun or knife because it is taking place on a plane.

You are told your designated seat is right in front of a blue FIST suited middle eastern looking fellow who is seated at the back of the plane and to hurry up the plane is about to take off.

As you sit down you notice and hear he is chanting very loud and fast, which made me uncomfortable.

I felt very uncomfortable having this individual sitting directly behind me. So, I moved over to the other seat so that I can see him out of the corner of my eye. As I do this a screaming lunatic comes out of first class holding a knife screaming the plane is his and starts to shove one of the passengers up front.....

Here is a photo of another practitioner going through the scenario.

What would you do?

Ross T.

P.S. Anyone who is interested in attending either the study group or NTI is encouraged to come. If you are even remotely interested in self defense and getting the training you need to survive I would suggest checking it out one of these Saturdays.

Be prepared to be humbled

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Thanks for the in depth post and the pix. It looks like a lot of fun. If I'll look into it if I'm working near Harrisburgh again.

-Electric Armadillo-

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82 Posts
Very good review Ross....please...more....how did you do in the airplane scenario???

Is this class available in any other locations?

thanks again

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Hey Tim

Good to hear from you again. It would be nice to have you join us one of these weekends. Let me know if you do. You got a place to stay.

Of course rent will be a low low price of my pick of one of your 1911s


Well when I moved closer to the wall so I can keep my eye on the blue arab at my back and my view of the passenger up front my feelings were if danger will come it will come from one of these two passengers. Then low and behold! A psycho from first class appears (I hate people who fly first class except if it's me of course

I saw the knife and if I didn't see the knife I would have figured he had a knife because he was screaming, "get to the back or I'm going to cut you!" While all this was happening the blue arab in the back starts doing a female scream that they do in the middle east, super loud, and I glanced his way and noticed he didn't move. So I said in my mind that he is still a question mark. The guy up front is the definite threat, and the first passenger is definitely not one of the bad guys.

As I was getting up I noticed the seat cushions on the seat move and I figured it could be used as a makeshift shield and could buy me some time for a disarm and keep me from being slashed for the time being. As the bad guy approached, I was standing, at this time, I drew the shield up with my left arm to block a stab and tried a disarm but he extended his arm got past the shield and as I tried to grab his wrist to control the weapon arm he yelled, "Stop!". "You're dead". "I just sliced your chest open."

I didn't feel the scenario was over yet and I felt we could have gone on because I remember seeing the knife coming within a fair amount of distance from my chest but if he felt he got me then worst case scenario I was cut and bleeding from the chest. But I know I wouldn't have stopped there. The next time I will inform the role players that if it involves cutting me to please make contact and not have it apart from me so I can react accordingly. If that was the point I could have disarmed him without touching him. But I'm not whining about it. I did learn some things.

The blue arab did take away some of my attention. One he had a towel like hat on which at this day and age will raise suspicion, I'm not saying it's right but it's going to be a normal human gut response after New York. Two, he had on the FIST suit. Which they felt that they had been conditioning us that once we saw the FIST suit it signaled us to attack, preferably with hands, feet, head etc. unarmed stuff. They wanted to show that just because they might look bad deal with the immediate threat but put some distance between "?"s . Not only that but the ATSA guys a crafty SOBs too so they knew they were gonna get a lot of us to focus on the FIST suit guy.

If you make the decision to attack do so without any hesistation.

Clearly we had limited amount of room to manuver and little (evidently) external tools to use as weapons but there was a fire extinguisher in the back that I could have used. I never noticed it coming in.

I sat and watched others go through the scenario and the ones that were most likely the ones to survive were the ones that attacked and took the fight to the bad guy. The ones who froze or retreated all the way to the back got sliced.

I think this happens because the bad guys also have their ideal scenario played out in their mind also. They believe and see their version of the play in thier heads playing out the way they expect it too. Basically....very basically the bad guy would think, I use knife to scare people, I flash it, they comply, I get what I want.

But for you to throw a wrench in their works would require them to change their game plan. If you do it hard and fast enough they may never get a decent enough game plan together and pick up their fumbling peices.

I took note of one fellow who the second the knife man in front came out screaming he jumped up and started wailing on the blue arab. He just started hammering with fists and elbows then he went after the knife guy who had closed the distance and slashed away.

So to answer your question I could have done better. I think there was too much hesitation on my part when I glanced over at the blue arab to decide weither or not he was a bad guy or not. Other than that I was juiced the rest of the day. Talk about hearing your heart beating in your chest super fast!

Ross T.
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