About five years ago we significantly changed the way that we were teaching our basic pistol classes. We based our decision upon the fact that 100% of our objective in each class was focused upon defending our life

Posted: Friday, October 23, 2020

Miniature/Micro Red Dot Sights, or MRDS, are the way of the future. There really isn’t a good argument against them these days. “They aren’t reliable”, “They are too expensive”, “I’m good enough already”, or the most popular excuse, “I tried one, it made me slower”, it’s all rubbish.

Posted: Tuesday, September 22, 2020

CCW Safe is proud to announce Industry Partnerships with some of the greatest subject matter experts in the firearms world, Jamey Caldwell and JJ Racaza. These gentlemen join Larry Vickers to partner with the Industry’s unquestioned leader in providing legal service plans to concealed carriers through CCW Safe and providing professional liability benefits to trainers through Firearms Trainers Association. With Jamey and JJ, CCW Safe and FTA are able to leverage the knowledge and experience these gentlemen have accumulated in their long careers and pass it along to our members through content collaboration and consultation. We welcome Jamey and JJ! Stay tuned for more!

Posted: Thursday, September 17, 2020

Doctor William Aprill died August 6, 2020. William’s career spanned from being a deputy sheriff and Special Deputy U.S. Marshal to decorated competitive shooter who conducted training for civilians, law enforcement, and military in various defensive fighting skills for three decades to being a practicing licensed mental health professional.

Posted: Monday, August 10, 2020


Posted: Friday, August 9, 2019

Defensive handgun instructors who are not advising their students of the possibility that a defensive shooting may take place inside of the distance of a single arms-length may be doing their students a disservice.

Posted: Friday, August 2, 2019


Think of the following happening during the last class you taught. You are behind the firing-lane after a live-fire action drill and have given the students instructions to re-holster when you hear a sound like that of a phone book being dropped on concrete. A split second later a student backs off the line in a limping fashion and suddenly sits down on the ground. As you are moving in his direction, you hear a curse followed by these awful words: “I shot myself”. As you kneel over him you see a bright red stain spreading over his upper thigh and realize that it must emanate from a major artery. At the minimum a pressure dressing is required, possibly a dependable tourniquet or hemostatic agent. What ...

Posted: Friday, July 26, 2019


FTA co-founder Jeff Gonzales is a decorated former SEAL who participated in combat missions in Central and South American, former instructor at the Naval Special Warfare Center, and a respected firearms trainer. I have known Jeff for many years and hosted his Trident Concepts Team Tactics course in 2003. I was sufficiently impressed to the point that I wrote an article on the course that appeared in the January 2004 issue of “SWAT Magazine”.

I ran into Jeff during the 2019 SHOT Show in Las Vegas and took advantage of the opportunity to pick his brain on a subject that every defensive firearms instructor has probably dealt with: How can a firearms instructor best deal with a struggling ...

Posted: Friday, June 14, 2019

Ken Hackathorn asks the question are firearms trainers delivering what their students want or what they need in this podcast from our friends at Firearms Trainer's Podcast.

Posted: Thursday, May 16, 2019

An automobile traveling 60 MPH will cover a distance of 88 feet in approximately one second. A 2018 Toyota Camry in good condition traveling at this speed might be expected to come to a complete stop within 120 to 130 feet from the time the brakes are fully applied. Should the driver spot an object in the road that requires an immediate application of the brakes, his or her perception and reaction time might take one or more seconds. In that same one second, the vehicle will travel 88 feet. This would suggest that from the moment that the driver perceives an immediate need to bring the car to a full halt and stomps on the brakes, the car will travel 228 to 238 feet.

Posted: Thursday, May 9, 2019

Larry Vickers discusses changes in the gun industry that every instructor should know about in this podcast from our friends at Firearms Trainer's Podcast.

Posted: Thursday, April 25, 2019

Cecil Burch is a Phoenix-based defensive firearms and tactics instructor that I have known and trained under for years. Cecil owns Immediate Action Combatives and hold instructor certifications in Jeet Kune Do and various Pentjak Silat systems. He has trained in boxing, Tae Kwon Do, Shotokan Karate, Kenpo, and is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt under Megaton Dias. Cecil has medaled multiple times at Pan-Am Jiu Jitsu tournaments. As if that is not enough, Burch is a firearms enthusiast and has trained under Jeff Cooper, Louis Awerbuck, Chuck Taylor, Craig Douglas, Kyle Lamb, Tom Givens, and Larry Vickers.

Posted: Thursday, April 18, 2019

Jeff Gonzales, FTA Founding Member and President of Trident Concepts, talks about how instructors can help their students select the best firearm for concealed carry based on their level of experience.

Posted: Thursday, April 11, 2019

The thumbs-down grip, also known as the revolver grip or crush grip, is used by most revolver shooters and some auto-loading pistol shooters. In my opinion, it is not as effective as the thumbs-forward or thumbs-up grip in controlling recoil and muzzle rise for the simple reason that significantly less of the support hand is in contact with the butt, which diminishes the amount of pressure and friction that can be brought to bear. Since more of the handgun butt is exposed, an energy leak is created and the handgun tends to torque towards any such gaps. However, there are circumstances where the thumbs-down grip is warranted, such as when the handgun is too powerful for the shooter, which causes the shooter’s grip to come apart during recoil. This makes re-gripping necessary.

Posted: Thursday, April 4, 2019

FTA co-founder Dave Spaulding has over 35 years of experience in law enforcement and federal security and received the 2010 Law Enforcement Trainer of the Year Award from the International Law Enforcement Training and Educations Association. His work history includes SWAT, narcotics, patrol, training, and investigations. Dave served as an adjunct instructor for the Tactical Defense Institute and Heckler & Koch International Training Division. A prolific writer, Spaulding has written over 1400 articles and two books (DEFENSIVE LIVING and HANDGUN COMBATIVES). Dave is a great guy and most willing to share valuable insights learned over the years with other firearms instructors. I took advantage of this fact to pose two questions to Dave: 1. How should firearm instructors respond to “That Guy” in their class? 2. What is your opinion on certain “Celebrity Instructors” who lack any true real-world experience?

Posted: Tuesday, April 2, 2019

The thumbs-up grip has much to offer to the concealed carrier. The web of the strong hand can be driven even higher if both thumbs are elevated, which I believe assists in recoil management. In addition, more of the support hand contacts the side of the butt, increasing the amount of friction and pressure that can be brought to bear. I found that I no longer inadvertently allow my support hand thumb to contact the slide during the firing cycle, and my shooter-induced malfunctions completely stopped. One other benefit to the thumbs-up grip is there seems to be less chance that the upper part of either thumb will put pressure on the slide stop.

Posted: Thursday, March 21, 2019

Jeff Gonzales, FTA Founding Member and President of Trident Concepts, talks about instructor to student ratio and the three factors that determine said ratio: high risk, medium risk, and low risk content.

Posted: Thursday, March 14, 2019

All three methods of gripping the handgun referenced in Part One of this series have one thing in common. Both the dominant hand and support hand should be placed as high as possible on the handgun butt (also sometimes referred to as the pistol or revolver grip). To do otherwise may leave a noticeable gap between the top of the hand and the top of the butt. This gap will cause the muzzle of the handgun to rise higher than necessary during recoil since a distinct pivot point is created between the axis of the bore and the top of the hands. Remember, the higher that the muzzle rises during recoil the longer the same is not oriented on the target and capable of making accurate hits if the need still exists. In my opinion, the two best grips for controlling recoil in most cases are called the thumbs-forward grip and the thumbs-up grip.

Posted: Thursday, March 7, 2019

I recently attended the Rangemaster Advanced Handgun Instructor course in Carrollton, Texas taught by Tom Givens. I have trained under Tom for nearly 20 years, and in my opinion he is one of the finest defensive handgun instructors in the business. His Handgun Instructor and Advanced Handgun Instructor courses are outstanding, and instructors travel from all over the United States to attend. Never one to waste an opportunity, I asked Tom if he could give me some advice that I could pass on to other instructors.

Posted: Thursday, February 28, 2019

As a long-time defensive firearms instructor, I have lost count of the number of students that have attended our classes, but the number is in the hundreds. Our students have included persons of all sizes ranging in ages from 21 to 84, and included law enforcement, active military, MMA fighters, and great grandparents. I believe that teaching my students that there is only one way to grip a handgun may be doing them a disservice. I will be the first to admit that I have a preferred gripping method, but if a student can’t meet certain shooting standards with that method but they can with another accepted method, then the results speak for themselves. There is room in the FTA for trainers from all backgrounds and experiences.

Posted: Friday, February 22, 2019

You don’t have to wait until your current Professional Liability insurance policy expires to start up with FTA. In order to start with FTA right now, you simply notify your current carrier that you want to cancel your policy. You will be refunded a prorated portion of the premium that you paid. You can then sign up with FTA and receive the membership benefits of liability protection both in civil cases, criminal cases, defense costs, fees, expenses and $1 million in liability protection that does not decreased by other expenses in the case being paid such as attorneys fees, costs and other litigation expenses. There is room in the FTA for trainers from all backgrounds and experiences.

Posted: Tuesday, February 19, 2019

As a firearms trainer, you have an obligation to ensure a safe training environment from all perspectives, but accidents can happen. In this video, Jeff Gonzales talks about how to create a Pre-Mishap Plan so that you can prepare for, and manage, life threatening and non-life threatening mishaps should they occur.

Posted: Thursday, February 7, 2019

FTA is a big table organization. There are many seats at the table. When forming the FTA, the Founders wanted to do what had not been done before. Create an organization for the purposes of professional development, business support, training support, and the creation of an independent source for Professional Liability Coverage for firearms trainers. Historically, firearms training organizations have attempted to practice exclusivity and have been discriminatory against trainers from certain communities. For instance, instructors who did not have law enforcement or military backgrounds may have been treated by those with such backgrounds differently, or even dismissively. There is room in the FTA for trainers from all backgrounds and experiences.

Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2019

It is important for firearms trainers to possess self awareness. If you come from a military background and you are going to train civilians then it is important that you engage in professional development to better understand the various self defense laws and concealed carry laws in the states and communities where you teach classes.

Posted: Thursday, January 17, 2019

Jeff Gonzales, FTA Founding Member and President of Trident Concepts, talks about how new firearms trainers can develop a successful curriculum by making sure it is observable, measureable, and, most importantly, repeatable.

Posted: Thursday, January 3, 2019

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