Ever since I started training people in the fighting arts for a living, I have kept very meticulous records. Not only is it important for potential future legal action, it’s a great marker for tracking progress and improvement.
Each year at this time, I do a review of what I did in the previous 12 months and how I want the next year to look. It’s a very useful exercise that I would encourage everyone to do. No one will make continued, structured improvement unless he has a plan of action. Here’s what I did last year and how I need to improve upon it in the future…
I found 2015 exceptionally challenging due to some mysterious medical conditions. I’m starting to get things figured out, but am still having significant difficulties. It’s tough to achieve your goals when you feel absolutely miserable and are so fatigued that you sleep 12 hours a day. Between lack of motivation, being sick, and spending hour after hour seeking out and visiting medical specialists, I just didn’t have the spare time that I needed to finish my book, read, write, and train as much as I did in 2014. I’m hoping next year will be better.
Personal Firearms Training
Last year I shot 5,914 rounds in training. I spread those rounds over 38 different shooting sessions. That is almost exactly the same amount that I shot last year. It’s less than previous years, but that is to be expected. When my police department got rid of my training position and moved me to the street, I lost a lot of practice opportunities that I would usually get while demonstrating drills for students.
It’s interesting to note that only 698 of those 5914 rounds came from police “training” provided by my department. That includes shots fired from rifle, shotgun, duty handgun, and all my off duty/backup handguns. I know a lot of you cops reading this would kill to have a department that provided more than 600 rounds a year for training. Many departments only provide enough ammo for the 25-round annual state qualification test. 698 rounds may seem like a lot, but it is roughly 1/4 of the amount that officers fired when I was the full time training officer. When budgets are cut, training suffers the most. I can see a steady decline in my fellow officers’ shooting skills after training was cut. I barely made improvements after shooting 5,000 additional personally-purchased rounds.
Officers who don’t supplement their department provided training with their own efforts will not be adequately prepared for a lethal force confrontation. Shooting one to four times a year just isn’t enough to sustain a high level of competency. All you police officers out there need to be doing some more shooting…even if the ammo has to come out of your own pocket.
I came close to meeting my goal of at least 500 rounds per month. My skill levels with the pistol have remained high and are continually improving. I’ve been starting every training session by doing the “Humbler” drill. My accuracy and trigger control have benefited.
In 2016, I’ll be keeping my live fire shooting to around 500 bullets a month. I have to admit that I absolutely hate dryfiring and there hasn’t been anything that can motivate me to do it regularly. More efficient live fire practice is my personal plan for improving shooting performance.
Professional Training and Education
In 2015, I took 137 hours of professional training from other instructors. I met my goal of getting at least two weeks (80 hours) of training in the books. I took the following classes:
- Rangemaster Tactical Conference. See my write up HERE
- William Aprill’s “5 Ws of Risk”, Open Source Disarms, and Psychological Hostage Survival classes
- Hangun Combatives’ “Optimal Snubby Survival Skills” class
- Lone Star Medics Field and Tactical Medicine Conference. See my write up HERE
- Paul-E-Palooza Memorial Training Conference
- Spirit Quest Sanctuary’s classes on Amazonian Plant Medicine
- IPICD- “Recognizing Agonal Breathing” Course
- And 31 hours of in-service training provided by my agency on a variety of topics
I know many of you think that 80 hours a year isn’t enough training for a professional. It really depends. Earlier in my training career, I averaged more than 300 hours a year of professional instruction. As I progress, I see less and less benefit obtained for each hour of training conducted. After completing nearly 5,000 hours of professional training in my career, I’ve already seen most of the good stuff out there! Taking a week-long class to get just one new technique isn’t a productive use of my time. I’m going to maintain my 80-hour training commitment in 2016 and focus my efforts on attending classes that are outside my skill set and will help me grow as an instructor.
I will continue to share what I learn in my training classes with all of my readers on this site. Even if you can’t attend some of the cool classes I go to, you can still get some quality knowledge by reading regularly.
I believe self study is even more important than taking classes. I learn A LOT from reading books. It seems to be a losing battle getting Americans to read more, but I don’t think there’s a better way to get smarter about any chosen topic. In 2015 I read 116 books. All but 15 of them were non-fiction. I usually read about 150 books a year, so I didn’t do very well in 2015. I plan on getting that number back in the 150 range this year.
If you want to read more, get rid of your television! I got rid of TV in my house almost three years ago. It was a great move, giving me much more free time to read, write, and live.
In 2015, I taught a total of 15 classes on my own, three partnered with William Aprill and two more as a co-instructor at TDI. I had 365 students in my own classes and an additional 41 in the classes I co-taught at TDI. That’s a (planned) decrease in both number of classes and number of students taught. I taught 10 fewer classes in 2015 as compared to 2014. I’m happy with that level of activity. Teaching 30 weekends a year combined with writing all the articles for this site, working on a book, and having a full time cop job is more work that I really want to do!
I also presented at three professional training conferences, The RangeMaster Polite Society Conference, The Lone Star Medics Field and Tactical Medicine Conference and Paul-E-Palooza III.
This met my goal of teaching 20 classes and presenting at one major training conference.
This year I plan on maintaining approximately the same number of training classes as last year. I waned to teach somewhere around 20 classes in 2016, but I have 21 classes already booked and am working on finishing up the details for at least four more, so it looks like I’ve already exceeded that goal!
I put up this website in March of 2012. In less than four years’ time it has far exceeded my expectations. I’m averaging about 50,000 unique viewers and 350,000 page views a month. My total annual page views increased by 55% last year to slightly over four million. In speaking with professionals in the field, these seem to be very good numbers for a four-year old website in a small niche like combatives training. I’m happy with them as I built the site entirely myself without any assistance or previous website development knowledge!
I posted 211 different articles containing 190,093 total words. For what it’s worth, the average novel is somewhere around 100,000 words. The articles on my website are the equivalent of two full novels’ worth of writing last year! I wrote most of the articles myself, but I had thirteen articles written by guest writers. My goal for 2015 was to publish at least four articles a week and have more guest writers. Goal accomplished!
For 2016, I plan on publishing at continued rate of at least four articles a week and incorporating a similar amount of guest content. If you can write clearly and have something useful to say, get in contact with me. If I think your article will be of interest to my readers, I’ll publish it here!
Special thanks to all my referrers. Web traffic would not be nearly as high without you spreading the good word. You’ll be interested to note that 25% of my web traffic comes from Facebook. Thanks to all of you who share my articles on your pages!
After Facebook, YouTube and Google, the following referrers generated the most traffic for me. Each were responsible for more than 1000 new unique viewers. Go check out their sites. They have lots of great information!
- Buckeye Firearms
- Lucky Gunner
- Recoil Gun Magazine
- Grant Cunningham
- Get Off the X
- Gun Nuts Media
- Breach Bang Clear
- Defensive Carry
- View From The Porch
- Keepers Concealment
- Prepared Gun Owners
- Survivalist Boards
- Survival Pulse
Magazine and Web Writing
In 2015, I only published one magazine articles for print outlets. It was a piece on “Guns of the Professionals” in Recoil’s Concealment Magazine. I was one of the professionals interviewed. Overall, I think print gun writing is a dying vocation. I won’t be focusing my efforts there in the future. The return on investment just isn’t as high as with my writing on this site.
I had numerous articles reprinted on various websites including Buckeye Firearms’ site and The Daily Caller. My work is syndicated on several sites including Beforeitsnews.com. I think wide syndication of my material gets the word out better than focusing on print writing, so I will be doing more of this in the future.
I had planned on getting my third world travel safety book out as well. That obviously didn’t happen. As I wrote, I kept adding and adding to the content. I added 40,000 words to the manuscript in 2015, but it isn’t quite where I want it yet. I would call it 98% done. I should definitely have it out in 2016.
I have three other books that are in their infancy, but they should be finished in the next couple years.
Although it isn’t directly related to training, I think travel is extremely important. I’ve learned far more about dealing with people (aggressive or otherwise) in my world travels than I ever have at a formal training class. Travel also teaches adaptability, which is a critically useful survival skill.
My general goal is to spend about six weeks a year outside the USA. I came very close this year. I spent five weeks out of the country and one additional week camping in some of the harshest desert climate on the planet in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada. In my travels, I made it to five foreign countries: The Dominican Republic, Mexico, Peru, Brazil, and Uruguay. Of that list, only Uruguay was a new country for me. Overall, I racked up 33,390 miles of recreational air travel.
I started out the year with a short visit to the Dominican Republic.
I then went to Mexico to try to get myself to Cuba. No luck with Cuba, but I had a great time in Cancun.
In July, I spent a couple weeks in the Peruvian Amazon.
And then finished the year with nine days in Brazil and Uruguay.
I’m not sure where this year will take me. I am tentatively looking at going to Antarctica to visit my final continent, as well as spending some time in the Mediterranean or Eastern Europe. I’ve now visited all but one of the Central and South American countries I have wanted to see, so I have to branch out a bit to get some new countries. My overall goal is to see 50 different countries before I turn 50 years old. With 42 now, I’m getting close!
If you don’t currently travel, I would highly recommend taking a trip someplace fun. There’s a huge world out there to see! What good is developing your ninja-like tactical skills if you don’t ever go anywhere to put them to use?
How did you do in 2015? What are your goals in 2016? Think about it for yourself and WRITE IT DOWN! Share your goals in the comments below if it will provide extra motivation. If you would like to see me offer some different classes or suggest a topic for an article, please add your comment below!