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Firearms trainer interview – Paul Carlson

We interviewed Paul Carlson at SHOT Show 2014 about firearms training. He is the owner of the Safety Solutions Academy in Ohio. Paul is a Certified Combat Focus Shooting Instructor. He is also involved with the development and instruction of I.C.E. Training's Defensive Firearms Coach Instructor Development Course.

We asked Paul seven questions about training and what it means to him.

1) What is the value of training?
Training increases the reliability of the skills that we use by giving us forethought into what it is we might do in a particular situation.

  • Familiarization with the movement and actions we might want to take is developed through training.
  • Training mentally prepares us, it gets our mind ready. It gets us thinking about things we might never have thought of before training. For instance, there could be equipment issues that students have not discovered on their own.
  • It is a problem solving set of skills that helps us become more efficient in our response.

2) Why did you become a trainer?
I am a professional teacher. When I develop a passion for something, it morphs into teaching it. I became passionate about self-defense, so I became an instructor.

3) What is the emphasis of your class?
The first thing I focus on is the critical skills people need; the physical actions they’re going to need to defend themselves. After that, I work on more advanced skills like mindset and legal. It depends on their resources, such as time, money, and ammunition.

4) Who is your market?
My most important market is the person brand new to defensive firearms. Experienced instructors should stay in touch with beginners. There are a lot of things that come before pressing the trigger in a critical incident that are harder to do than press the trigger. Those are the things that I focus on. The new shooter needs to learn the most, so they are the people I focus on hardest.

5) What do YOU do to train/practice?
I try to get small doses, because that’s what I have time to do, of very high quality practice as often as I can. That might be 15 minutes of doing repetitions from the holster before a class. Practice time for me is scarce and precious, so I think getting those small doses of high quality training on a regular basis is very important.

6) How would you describe your training philosophy?
My classes are called Critical Defensive Skills. Boiling down what is critical in self defense and then teaching that to people and building from there is what drives my philosophy. There’s a lot of information being taught in the training industry that does not apply to the average citizen when it comes to self defense. Many classes are oriented more toward “operator” type skills. So I focus on the critical skills that are relevant to concealed carry. Those critical skills could be from a variety of genres beside the physical, such as mindset, legal, etc.

7) Why should people take training?
Training can help you respond more efficiently in self defense when you need to. There’s a difference between shooting a gun and fighting with a gun. Self defense isn’t hunting. Having a gun isn’t what solves the problem. Being able to use that gun in a way that’s going to save your life is what solves the problem. We can’t count on luck.

We appreciate Paul taking the time to talk with us about this important topic. His website is Safety Solutions Academy. You can read his blog here.

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