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Firearms trainer interview – Tom Givens

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We interviewed Tom Givens at SHOT Show 2014 about firearms training. He is the owner and operator of the Rangemaster training center in Memphis, Tenn. Since Memphis is sometimes referred to as ‘Mogadishu on the Mississippi,’ demand for firearms training there is high. Tom has had 60 of his private citizen students prevail in shootouts with criminal attackers, perhaps the highest number in the industry. Rangemaster is the venue for the annual Rangemaster Tactical Conference and Polite Society Match. Tom is also a prolific author and has produced or been the talent for several firearms training DVDs.

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

1) What is the value of training?

  • Confidence building. Structured and informed practice leads to skill. Skill leads to confidence. Confidence leads to the ability to perform without panic when confronted by a criminal predator.
  • Competency. Good training helps build the student’s competency in a variety of appropriate tasks to a level that shooters are unlikely to reach on their own.
  • Liability mitigation. Besides having to win the fight, it is important to survive the aftermath of stopping a criminal predation. Good training helps prepare students for the legal battle that begins after the confrontation ends.

2) Why did you become a trainer?
One of the biggest reasons was to counter all the erroneous information that I ran into. For instance, how many times have we heard the saying about dragging someone into the house if you are forced to shoot them? I also have a passion for passing on relevant and important information to good people.

3) What is the emphasis of your class?
Core competencies are my primary emphasis. There is a small repertoire of skills that I teach students to be able to perform consistently, on demand. The second thing I focus heavily on is building mindset, in particular avoidance and awareness.

4) Who is your market?
The single largest demographic in my classes are white collar professionals, with Information Technology professionals being the single largest subset. They realize it is a perilous world and take the responsibility of making sure they can protect themselves and their families. Out of approximately 2500 students that I teach annually, only about seven percent are blue collar workers.

5) What do YOU do to train/practice?
I take at least one or two classes every year from other trainers to stay current and to help refine my teaching techniques and philosophy. When I practice, I focus on specific goals for the session and usually shoot around 200 to 250 rounds. I’m also a big believer in dryfire and do it on a regular basis. When I demonstrate the drills in my classes, it’s also great practice in performing consistently under pressure.

6) How would you describe your training philosophy?
Keep it simple and straight to the point. Use techniques and tactics that are time and field proven.

7) Why should people take training?

  • Carrying a gun is an enormous responsibility. People need to be sure that they are up to the task; it’s not always as easy as most think it is.
  • Training is also a counter to the enormously bad influence of television and movies. Most people who buy guns today have literally gotten their training from the entertainment media and it’s all bad. Real training helps overcome those influences and build good habits.

We appreciate Tom taking the time to talk with us about this important topic. Those interested in receiving the monthly Rangemaster Newsletter can sign up here.

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