The 2014 Polite Society Tactical Conference was held on February 21-13, 2014, at the Rangemaster facility in Memphis, TN. The three-day conference consisted of numerous presentations by an amazing collection of knowledgeable instructors. Three different options were available at any given time to attendees, and a myriad of topics were covered. While I did attend a few presentations on other topics, I tried to attend those that dealt with what is known about what happens in violent encounters; especially what those who won the encounters did and how they prepared, and these are the presentations I will discuss in this piece.
Before I get to that, I would like to thank the folks Rangemaster for organizing and hosting this conference. The chance to partake of that much collective knowledge was a wonderful learning opportunity. There were times when it was difficult to choose which class to attend as the concurrent options were all equally appealing. I took 24 pages worth of notes, and many of the takeaways from the sessions will be incorporated into our training program.
William Aprill’s presentation concerning how violent criminal actors (VCAs) select victims forms the cornerstone for this area of discussion. It basically comes down to the VCA making a “go or no go” decision based on indicators by the person they have targeted. This is really no different than a lion surveying a herd of lion food and picking which member of the herd will be dinner that night.
Shane Gosa, a fellow Georgia peace officer, presented “The Mental Trigger” based on Jeff Cooper’s Principles of Personal Defense as well as other pertinent information. Shane also addressed items such as mental awareness and winning the violent encounter rather than merely surviving it.
Tom Givens’ presentation on “Defining the Threat” was outstandingly well done. Mr. Givens approached the question from the perspective of a citizen and not that of those in the military or uniformed patrol officers, and his breakdown if the information is the best I have ever seen. His presentation (as was Chuck Haggard’s) on active shooters was nicely done, and quite frankly, I don’t understand how anyone could receive that information and then go about without the means to defend themselves. As for active shooters, or active murderers as they should be called, every examination of the topic that have seen shows that the more rapidly force is brought to bear on the murderer the lower the body count.
Jim Higginbotham’s “Fire for Effect” presentation focused on accuracy in a critical event. I found his illustrations of how many of the qualifying and competition targets actually reward high point values to areas that are not likely to instantly incapacitate a violent attacker to be quite revealing. In my words, a fellow can kill you a whole lot if you give him 15 seconds to do it.
John Hearne did an outstanding job of debunking many of the myths and outright falsehoods that permeate firearms training. I’m not much of a “science guy”, but his explanation of how the brain works was done in an easy to understand manner, and he makes a strong case for training to the point of “overlearning” (fancy scientific term) and building the proper mental maps and skill level as predictors for success in a violent encounter.
At this point, I would like the readers to take note that there is some commonality when both peace officers and private citizens are faced with a violent encounter, and overcoming the “initiative deficit” is imperative. The difference here is that peace officers often initiate contact with the VCA whereas the private citizen is targeted; however, it is the response to that violence that must come swiftly and decisively, and the preparation shouldn’t begin at the point a person realizes there is a need for such.