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 12 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….
Personal Firearms Training
Last year I shot 6,518 rounds in training. I spread those rounds over 56 different shooting sessions. That is about half the amount that I usually shoot in any given year. 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 demonstration drills for students.
Even though I shot less, I still met my goal of at least 500 rounds per month. I did not meet my goal of at least twice a week dryfiring. Despite the relative lack of practice, I have at least maintained my skill levels. At the end of 2012, I was averaging right around 2.5 seconds for a “Bill Drill” (6 shots from the holster at 20 feet into the target’s A-zone) using my police duty gun (Glock 21) and duty holster. I ran the drill last week three times. All hits with times from 2.47 to 2.61. No drop in skill level, but no increase either.
In 2014, I’ll actually work more dryfire than 2013 while keeping livefire to around 500 bullets a month. With hope, my skills will improve using that regimen.
Professional Training and Education
In 2013, I took 90 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
– OPOTAs “De-Escalating Mental Health Crises” Class
– NorthEastern Tactical’s “Secrets of the Concealed Carry Snub Class. Notes HERE
– LockSport’s Basic Lock Picking Class
– Reid Inc “Interview and Interrogation” School. High points HERE
– And 22 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. 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 2014 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 2013 I read 157 books. 136 of them were non-fiction. I usually read about 150 books a year, so 2013 was just about normal.
If you want to read more, get rid of your television! I got rid of TV in my house almost two years ago. It was a great move, giving me much more free time to read, write, and live.
In 2013, I taught a total of 17 classes on my own and three more as a co-instructor at TDI. I had 345 students in my own classes and an additional 56 in the classes I co-taught at TDI. These numbers don’t include the classes I taught at the police department. That’s a 30% increase in numbers of students taught. I’m happy with that number.
I also presented at one professional training conference (The RangeMaster Polite Society Conference).
This met my goal of teaching 12 classes and presenting at one major training conference.
This year I hope to teach at least 18 classes on my own. I will be presenting material for The Rangemaster Tactical Conference next month. I have 12 classes already booked and am working on finishing up the details for at least three more, so it looks like I’m on my way!
I put up this website in March of 2012. In less than two year’s time it has far exceeded my expectations. I’m averaging about 35,000 unique viewers and 175,000 pageviews a month. In speaking with professionals in the field, these seem to be very good numbers fora two-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!
My unique visitor numbers were up 72% and pageviews were up 74% as compared to 2012 numbers.
I posted 269 different articles containing 175,451 total words. I wrote most of the articles myself, but I had several articles written by guest commenter Henry, an 88-year old shooter from Tennessee. John Motil from TDI also wrote a couple of articles as well. My goal for 2013 was to publish at least four articles a week and have more guest writers. Goal accomplished!
For 2014, I plan on publishing at continued rate of at least four articles a week and incorporating more 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 28% 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!
Magazine and Web Writing
In 2013, I only published three magazine articles for print outlets. I wrote two articles for Delta Media’s Concealed Carry Magazine and one for American Handgunner. I wanted the American Handgunner piece to establish a little more legitimacy in the print world, but overall, I think print gun writing is a dying vocation. I won’t be focusing my efforts there in the future.
In addition to the print work, I had nineteen more 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.
The big news for writing is that in 2014, I plan to finish my first book! I’m about halfway done with it right now and hope to have it finished by July. I’m working on it nearly every day. The book combines my passions for travel and self defense. It is going to be a guide to third world travel safety. I’ll let you all know when it’s out.
I have two other book ideas that are in their infancy, but they should be finished in 2015.
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. In my travels, I made it to four new countries (South Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Dominican Republic) and re-visited two others (Thailand and Ecuador).
I started out the year with five days in the Dominican Republic.
And then finished the year with 8 days in Ecuador and the Galapagos.
This year I plan to spend about a month in Australia and New Zealand. I’ll also hit a couple of Central American destinations that I’ve previously missed. My overall goal is to see 50 different countries before I turn 50 years old. 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 2013? What are your goals in 2014? 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!