- Physical Conditioning: I've posted plenty of times here that I am overweight, but also that I am older than some (58 years old), and somewhat disabled by pretty severe and chronic back issues. Those of you who met me over the weekend can attest to some of this. The back problem is not going to go away, and neither are the thyroid issues; but even though the pain is very real, and though those problems make it difficult to get myself into some kind of reasonable condition for a man of my age, I have used it as an excuse to quit trying, and I've let myself get far more out of shape than I ever intended. This really came home during the Cover and Concealment clinic. Danny (whom I did not shoot :D ) was very patient and understanding, but I was embarrassed when I couldn't even get all the way down behind the barrel efficiently - partly because my back, partly because my pants were a little too tight around the waist, partly because my belly was in the way, and partly because when you drop my kind of tonnage low to the ground, it is very hard to get it to go back upward again. That made me feel foolish, and it has got to go.
- Tactical Training: Although this dovetails with the physical conditioning piece because you can't get tactical if you're spending too much time in a bowl of ice cream and a bag of chips, I am woefully untrained in this aspect of firearms. I have never served in the military, and so I've never even had the benefit of a generic military infantry school. The closest I've ever come to any of this is a modicum of martial arts training (much of which I'm too fat to carry out anyway). Despite feeling foolish, I really enjoyed the two clinics that were about this kind of stuff - the Cover and Concealment clinic, and the Shooting from Retention clinic - but they both left me with a deep hunger to learn more of this stuff. That places a high priority in my mind on getting my lard-derriere back into some kind of shape, even if I never completely regain my boyish figure. To that end, while I'm working on the weight-loss/physical-conditioning piece, I'm going to be doing research on practical courses a guy my age can take that will add to my skill set. Also to that end, I am going to take competition more seriously. I'm not a terribly competitive guy, and I've avoided entering any of the pistol matches at DPC where I'm a member, or joining any local IDPA group. But after watching my son compete recently in a personal protection match, and watching the instructors in the two above mentioned clinics, I can see the value of those things as a training aid; and so I'm going to start entering some matches.
- Home defense: I have already spent some skull-sweat on this, but I've never had a partner in it until now. My wife took the Cover and Concealment clinic with me, and one of her takeaways is that she has to be involved in this stuff or it isn't going to work. We have agreed to workout a plan (which hopefully will survive contact with the enemy) designed around the fact that we are both shooters - not just me. We are going to include salient facts like the positioning of furniture (concealment) and interior walls backed by reinforcing furniture or exterior walls (cover). In light of this, she has declared that she would also be willing to receive some more advanced instruction in gunplay. Danny Stower, you have a standing offer of room and board overnight in our spare bedroom whenever your work brings you to Grapevine, if you will look at the floor plan of our house and help us to develop our tactical plan from what you see.
- Teamwork: My wife now gets it! Thank you, thank you, thank you! She has always been on board about CHL, but she had never really given any thought to the fact that, in any confrontation involving both of us against someone else, we are a team. She is now much more willing to discuss strategy and tactics. It's not just about her and her gun anymore, it is about us, the guns, the tactics, a plan, etc. That is a HUGE improvement.
- Understanding the Law: I'm still not a lawyer, but I found Charles' "Texas Self-Defense & Deadly Force Seminar" to very much improve my overall understanding of the intent of the law (concepts like Reasonable Belief for instance, and why prosecutors hate that standard). You can't get much better that hearing it from the mouth of the guy who wrote it.
There is more, but these are the salient points. If I had to choose a word it would be "Holistic." The way the forum day was organized was to give attendees a very holistic approach to learning the hows, whys, and techniques of CHL, and its application in deadly force scenarios - all mixed in with a lot of fun to keep it interesting. I can't think of a better way to have done this. I will definitely be there for the next one, and God willing, I'll have shed some of those pounds and gotten some mobility back.