Roleplaying in CCW classes

I taught a CCW class last night at Cabelas.  It was a good class, but I had a really hard time.  I’ve got a cut on the roof of my mouth, which I don’t really know how it got there, unless I was eating tortilla chips with a little too much enthusiasm, and it is all swollen, so it hurts to talk.  So then I got to go talk for 5 hours straight.  Thank goodness for Oragel.  The downside is, of course, uncontrollable salivation as soon as you use the stuff.  Oh well. 


I love teaching CCW.  I do it a little different than many of the other Utah instructors.  The packet we get from the state, which lists what we have to talk about it really kind of dumb.  We’re required to talk about a lot of silly, extraneous things, but the actual part about the legalities of shooting people is just a tiny little portion.  There is more in the packet about how to clean your gun, than there is about when it is justifiable to shoot somebody.


I get through 95% of the packet in the first half of the class.  I then spend the next 2 ½ hours going over the legal and tactical aspects of shooting somebody.  The one thing that I do, that I’ve not seen any other local instructor do, is a role playing session. 


Basically, I send one student out of the room, wearing a rubber gun.  Then I set up a scenario inside the room, brief the student in the hall, and then when they walk in, they have to act like it is real life.  They talk like they really would.  Draw the gun when they really would.  Shoot when they really would.  Sometimes they should just walk away.  Then we discuss, as a class, the legality and the tactical soundness of their decisions. 


It sounds kind of silly, and people are laughing at first, but then as it goes on, the reality starts to sink in, and then the learning starts.  Usually at the point when I tell the student something along the lines of “and if this was real life, you would be dead” or “and now is when you would go to prison”.  And that’s when the real fun begins.


The reason I do this, is because everybody learns differently.  I can stand in front of a class, and jabber on for hours about what to do, but some folks don’t learn by listening, they have to see it occur.  It helps them to change their frame of reference, and also to break out of any mental roadblocks they’ve set for themselves.


See, when I say mental roadblocks, one of the weaknesses we have as gun carrying types, is that we imagine “our gunfight”.  We tend to have this preconceived idea set in our heads about what “our gunfight” is going to be.  It unfolds a different way for everyone, and sadly, for some folks, it resembles a Die Hard movie.  So when somebody brings up a point that doesn’t fit in your predetermined scenario, you tend to discard that point.


For example, some people tend to think that they’re going to have plenty of time to access their gun when the bad stuff happens.  So it is okay to carry chamber empty, or it is okay to carry in some absurdly slow to draw from holster, because in “their gunfight” they’ve imagined that they’re going to have plenty of time.  Sometimes these people even believe that they’ll be able to shoot the badguy in the leg, or some other nonsense.


So I do one scenario (don’t want to give away too many details, because I like surprises), where it unfolds extremely rapidly, and turns into a Tueller drill against a crazy, knife wielding assailant.  For those of you who don’t know, a Tueller drill is to demonstrate how far away somebody can be with a contact weapon, and still have the Opportunity to cause you serious bodily harm. 


Basically, you interrupt something very bad going down, you’ve got about 2 seconds to process this while an extremely large man screams at you, then charges you with a knife from about 21 feet away.  I play the badguy in this one, and I gut about 90% of the students like a fish, before they’re able to get a shot off. 


Somebody with a contact weapon can cover A LOT of ground way faster than you would think.


The folks that have predetermined that they’re going to have plenty of time are usually pretty shook up.  One fellow that was determined, all through class, that he was going to carry chamber empty “for safety” actually managed to draw the gun from his holster and fling it up into the air.   That was a good learning opportunity.


I have a certain list of scenarios that I use every class.  Each one is different, but each is designed to drive home a few certain points.  Some of them, the point is to be very careful what you chose to get involved in.  One scenario is based on a true story, and involves the student seeing a person being beaten up by two thugs (one of whom immediately demonstrates that he is armed with a handgun). 


In this one, if the student keeps on walking, survival rate is 100%.  Fully half the class keeps on walking.  The other half of the class chooses to intervene.  90% of those that intervene end up getting shot.  This is usually pretty eye opening for a lot of would be heroes. 


I’m not trying to dissuade somebody from wanting to help others in need.  Frankly, it would be rather presumptuous of me to assume that anything I tell you in a couple of hours is going to change your moral fiber.  All of my students are at least 21 years old, and they’re responsible adults.  They are who they are. 


But at least I can convey the seriousness of what they’re contemplating, and if they are the heroic type, hopefully I can get them to make the tactical decisions necessary to maximize their chances of surviving.  


I love role playing, but it does have its weaknesses as a teaching tool.  A few of the scenarios have the potential to go wrong.  Sometimes a student does something so totally unexpected that the actors don’t know how to respond.  Sometimes I need to enlist other students as actors, and some of them are better actors than others.  On that note, I’ve got a lot of practice playing a rapist, murderer, mugger, psychopath, or brutish thug, so I’m very convincing.  Plus I’m huge and frankly look a lot like a young Tony Soprano, so if anybody is casting… you know, I’m just throwing that out there.


If I have a married couple in class, I’ll often enlist them for a little good old fashioned domestic violence.  However some of my students are just too nice, and rather than expecting him to beat his wife, you’re expecting them to stop their exceedingly mild argument, and bake you cookies.  On the other hand, I’ve had some married couples, where the husband came off as such an abusive scumbag, that being totally honest, even as the instructor, and knowing what bad thing is going to happen to next, I would have gotten involved. 


I love teaching CCW.


Movie Review: The Slaughter

18 thoughts on “Roleplaying in CCW classes”

  1. I’m going to have to take your class sometime. I think you’re right on to spend a lot of time role playing. When I took a CCW class we spent just a few minutes in a video simulator and I thought it was the most worthwhile part of the class. Very eye opening, as you said. I was amazed how it could get the adrenaline going to be in a pretend shoot out.

  2. When I took your class this summer, I was one of the volunteers. In the scenario you mentioned above about the “In this one, if the student keeps on walking, survival rate is 100%. “, I got away, but barely. I demonstrated to the class that unjudicious use of a cell phone can result in trouble. The scenarios helped quite a bit. I appreciated your class.

    Good job! Keep up the good work.

  3. I’d like to take your class but I’m on the other side of the country in NC. I have a question about your post though.

    “In this one, if the student keeps on walking, survival rate is 100%. Fully half the class keeps on walking. The other half of the class chooses to intervene. 90% of those that intervene end up getting shot. ”

    How do you intervene & not get killed? Take out your pistol & hold it by your side before telling the beaters to stop?

  4. >I’ve got a lot of practice playing a … murderer, mugger, psychopath, or brutish thug,<

    Type-casting? 😛

    Sorry, but I couldn’t resist.

    I’d happily volunteer to help out at some point, if you wanted an extra (and i was out that way)…

  5. dbeacon, yeah, I remember that one. That was a good one.

    Omega, basically the ones that don’t get shot are the ones that commit to seeing their choice through to the end. What happens is that many people jump in, draw their gun, and then the situation rapidly spirals out of their control. Then they’re overwhelmed, and now they’re reacting to the bad guys rather than taking action.

    The ones that survive usually realize in the first couple of seconds after the gun comes out that “maybe this wasn’t a real good idea”, but they’ve commited, so they see it through, and do what is neccesary to survive.

    Sorry, can’t give out too much information because hopefully I’ve got some future students that read my blog. 🙂

    And John Shirley and Strings roleplaying? That would be too cool. The John scenario would be “You’re walking along, when suddenly a Ninja leaps from the shadows!” 😀

  6. “Sorry, can’t give out too much information because hopefully I’ve got some future students that read my blog.”

    — so, for the dozen (or so) people who may take your class and read your blog, you would leave the rest of the internet without an answer? We came hear to read and learn. Teach.

  7. Jon, priorities man. I’ve got to put those folks first, because: A. I’m responsible for them. B. They’re paying me. 🙂

  8. I’m planning on carrying two pistols, ’cause in my gunfight I leap through the air sideways whilst firing them simultaneously.

  9. So, in your Tueller drill scenario, how often does a student forego the gun entirely and take you on HTH?

    …and how often is the student successful?

  10. SecurityGuy, interestingly enough, most folks don’t even think of it, just because we’ve been talking about guns for the previous 5 hours.

    Also, if somebody gives me an indication that they’re a MMA guy (doing one armed pushups during the break, and a tattoo that says BORN TO KILL) then I usually give them a different scenario that doesn’t involve me getting my face smashed in.

    That said, I have been kicked in the leg and punched in the face. (they just reacted, they weren’t trying to beat up the instructor, it was just what they were trained to do) Both times the student still got stabbed.

    The worst was a student that punched the rubber gun out in a strong Iso, and nailed me right in the chest. Cracked me in the ribs good. It started swelling immediatly, and within a few minutes I was bleeding through my shirt. That one was just peachy.

  11. Alley entrance and beating scenario? Nobody thinks “corner for cover” and then saying “HEY! Cut that out!”

    Then again, I’ve read about the Tueller drill since I was 20 something. If it can apply to a knife fight, it can be even more truncated for a charge that ends up in grappling session.

    One movement, and I’m doing at least one of the steps of the Time Warp.

  12. That sounds like a damn good way to run a class, I like it.

    I’ve always been worried about people who have a semi and carry it chamber empty. Aside from the time factor, they just don’t think- or don’t want to think- about what happens if they can only use one arm in a time of trouble.

  13. Took your class. Loved it! The role playing was very eye opening and certainly much more useful than, “A .45 is bigger than a .40.”

    In my class, the couple situation resulted in the woman screaming bloody murder at the top of her lungs. I half expected a real CCW-holder from outside to bust the door down and go all tactical on the whole class.

    And again, thank you for offering your courses free for university folks!

  14. For those of us in the rest of the country , it took me back for a moment with the concept of Utah Instructors actually IN Utah .

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