Tactical Training Specialties

Welcome Back!

todd burke tactical training specialties strategos international chief firearms instructor manager firearms training divisionAs I prepare for our 33rd annual Tactical EMS School in Minnesota I am concerned by the ignorance and arrogance of many.  America is still here but she is aching for us to stand up for her.  No more silent majority.  Stop attacking our police.  Quit with the colloquialisms like “new normal”.  Overpaid athletes and Hollywood figures do not deserve our attention.  Don’t abdicate your responsibility as a citizen, a parent, a mentor, and especially as an American!  If you are planning on NOT voting, you had better pull your head out and think again.  This is not about candidates, it is about the continued life of our Constitutional Republic!  As Rush sang in Freewill“If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice!”  In this issue, I will address flying on commercial airlines with a firearm in your checked baggage.  Also, please enjoy a couple of guest articles, one from Coach Mike Martin in Nebraska, and another from a student and peer, Scott Smithson, who leads a church security and life safety ministry in western Missouri.  To address demand and your requests, I have scheduled more training courses than usual in the 4th quarter and into the 2021 new year.  January and February classes will once again be offered indoors. Requests for private lessons and consulting are very much in demand and my coaching team and I are addressing that.  Make plans now to train with us soon.  Select from the following opportunities:

Click here for CCW1, October 3rd or December 5th

Click here for CCW2, November 21st

Click here for CCW3, October 24th

Click here for Rifle Camp, November 6 and 7

Click here for Tactical Shotgun, November 28th

Click here for AR101, December 12th

Click here for Practical Pistol Skills, January 16, 2021

Click here for Crisis Casualty Care, February 6, 2021

NEXT ISSUE: I plan to address CCW insurance and personal liability protection plans.  My opinion regarding this has significantly changed!  Based upon what I have seen in the past year, this is something I now advocate and a tool I really believe we need in our toolboxes.

On November 3rd – Vote as if your life depends upon it…because it does!

In This Issue:

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Did You Know…

There are people who want, need, and crave a relationship with Jesus.  We can help someone, even change their life, attitude, and outlook, just by saying a prayer and giving thanks.  We can do at a meal, before a class or meeting, or any time it suits us.  I NEVER watched a Presidential primary before in my life, but this go ’round I watched 20 minutes of the DNC (that is all I could take), then I watched almost ALL of the RNC which was a completely different matter.  During the RNC I was enthralled by the number of prayers, invocations to God, and direct quotes and references to His Glory and Kingdom.  People from all political parties and backgrounds are looking for the “right” direction to take because we see the current evil in political parties is overtly contrary to our Constitution, common sense, and what we should know from history.

I’ve said for years, “You can’t pray stupid.”  What I mean is that if it comes from your heart, what comes out of your mouth is secondary.  Don’t be intimidated to pray openly and out loud if you think you are not as articulate or gifted with words as someone else who does it often.  Brothers and sisters, it’s just like training with firearms.  You have to practice and DO it if you want to become better at it!  Step up and pray with and in front of others whether it is a group or just one other person.  You can lift others up and… “make their day!”

Firearms and Commercial Airlines

by Todd Burke

Maybe you remember the jingle, “We’re American Airlines, doing what we do best…unless you own a firearm and are simply trying to travel on a lawful and peaceable journey.”  You haven’t heard the second part?  Well let me tell you a story that is true, as it unfolded for me.  This is one of those “I know a thing or two because I have seen a thing or two” circumstances.

I have not been a fan of AA for years.  I have had previous unpleasant experiences with them that were not related to traveling with a firearm.  I have avoided them, and it has been many years since I flew with them, but in June I flew AA to Texas for training.  I share this experience not primarily as a complaint toward AA, but to help you understand what you need to prepare for if you plan to travel with a firearm in checked luggage.  But my customer satisfaction and travel safety tip for today is to avoid American Airlines!

There are two sets of rules.  The first is put forth by the Transportation Security Administration or TSA.  Since I last looked this up, the TSA changed their verbiage and defers to the specific airline.  https://www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/whatcanibring/firearms is an exhaustive, multiple page list titled “What Can I Bring.”  For years, regarding small arms ammunition, this was the guiding statement that still appears on the website:

“Small arms ammunitions must be securely packed in fiber, wood or metal boxes or other packaging specifically designed to carry small amounts of ammunition.”  Note that a pistol magazine is a packaging device that is specifically designed to carry a small amount of ammunition.  Also note this statement by the TSA with an exclamation point (!) and a caution indicator in red: “The final decision rests with the TSA officer on whether an item is allowed through the checkpoint.”

The second set of rules are whatever the individual airline says.  Each airline is different, and there is no consistency in the application of rules or the treatment of customers between airports – EVEN BY THE SAME AIRLINE!

My recent experience began on June 9th, 2020 when flying out of Lambert Field in St. Louis.  I posted a photo online stating that I had not seen an airport look so desolate since after September 11, 2001. lambert field st. Louis vacantI arrived almost 2 hours early for my flight.  This is a good practice, particularly at larger airports, just in case there is an issue with your luggage or travel plans.  (On a previous trip to Texas in January 2020 I had 45 minutes of my time wasted by a supervisor of an airline who did not know what the rules were, nor how to check a firearm – different story.)  I checked in and declared that I had an unloaded firearm.  The agent was polite, gave me the orange “firearm declaration” card to sign, and then taped it to the outside of my hard pistol case which I then locked and put back inside my duffel.  For years, the orange declaration card was put inside the gun case and then closed and locked.  I do not know why AA tapes them to the outside.

The agent then told me to move off to the side and wait for 30 minutes.  If no one contacted me in that 30 minutes, I could then go to my gate.  St. Louis is the only place I have traveled through that has done this.  I had no problems, boarded my flight, off to Houston.  When I arrived in Houston, I waited for my bag and it never came off the carousel.  When it stopped turning and the luggage was gone, I went looking for an agent.  Across the carousel, I spotted two women and I could see one had credentials hanging around her neck.  The one who spoke to me first was robed in black from head to toe, was wearing a hijab, a face mask, and a full-face shield. I had to ask her three times to speak up because I could not understand what she was saying through all the layers and her English was terrible.  I did see her credentials hanging from a lanyard around her neck, partially obscured by her garments.  I told her I wanted to report a missing bag.  She asked for my ID and I complied.  She then led me 20-25 yards away from where we were to a corner where 4 or 5 bags were up against a wall and unattended by anyone.  There was my bag, pistol and other equipment inside, marked with a red ribbon, completely unattended and positioned for anyone to take it!  I took control of my bag and headed for the car rental counter as she spoke with her coworker.  About 15 seconds later I hear her shouting something unintelligible and chasing after me.  Turns out she wanted to see my baggage claim check.  Nice.

Three days later I get up before dawn to make a 2-hour drive back to Houston and return the rental car and repeat the check-in process.  This time it is quite different.  Agent “Keisha” checks me in and I declare my pistol.  She asks if it is unloaded and I tell her it is.  She then tells me that I can’t have ammunition in the magazines, and I politely told her the exact verbiage from the TSA website.  She repeats that I cannot have loaded magazines.  I said if that is the case, then how did I get to Houston from St. Louis three days previously with this very same ammunition?  I was checked through in STL.  She repeated that I cannot have loaded magazines.  I told her that if she would show me where in the regulations it declares this I would be happy to comply.  After 2 or 3 minutes of searching the website, she turns the monitor around and shows me AA’s policy (not the TSA) that magazines cannot be loaded.  American’s policy states:

“Ammunition must be in the original packaging from the manufacturer or in packaging specifically designed to carry small amounts of ammunition (made of fiber, wood or metal), with a maximum of 11 pounds (5 kgs) per container or customer. Ammunition is not accepted loose or in magazines or clips.”

flying with checked firearm todd burke tactical training specialties carrying a concealable firearm training

I know a thing or two because I have seen a thing or two.  Here are a few of my souvenirs.

So as I stand there with a handful of ammunition from my just-unloaded mags, I ask if I can have a ziplock bag, paper sack, small trash bag…anything I can put the ammunition in.  Keisha says she has nothing “back there.”  I ask her what I am supposed to do with the live rounds because we can’t put them in the trash?  She says that I will need to find a police officer and surrender them to him.  I look around and there are no officers in sight, so I put them all into my pocket to finish check in.  She puts my bag aside.  Keisha was never rude, but it was apparent she did not give a damn about helping me with what was obviously “my problem.”

I step to the end of the counter and ask a uniformed TSA officer if he can help me.  This officer has heard the entire exchange between me and Keisha.  I show him my badge and ID and ask if he can help me.  I said, “I’m nobody special, but this is a first for me…and I travel all the time.”  He steps right up to me and says, “We’re going to make this happen.  I will be right back.”  He literally runs down the terminal and is gone for about 2 minutes.  He runs back and says, “My supervisor says we’re good.”  He holds out a small box that used to hold tea bags and a bunch of paper towels.  We dump the rounds in the box and he wraps the thing with duct tape.  We step over to put the box in my bag, and it is gone.  Someone sent it down the conveyor line.  My TSA peer calls an AA representative over and they get on the radio to recall my bag.  He tells me that I can go to my gate and he will personally put the rounds in my bag.  But the baggage handler says emphatically, “NO, HE HAS TO DO THAT!” (pointing at me).  So I go to baggage claim, wait another 10 minutes for the buzzer to sound, the lights to flash, the belt to turn and spit out one lone piece of luggage.  I take my bag back up to the ticketing area and the TSA rep is watching for me.  I open the bag, he drops the box of ammo in, and it goes through the process again.  I looked him in the eye and shook his said with a meaningful, “Thank You.”  He smiled and replied saying, “Hey, that’s my job.”  I said, “No…it’s not!”

When I returned to St. Louis, my red-flagged bag had been pulled off before being loaded onto the carousel and was attended by a gentleman who allowed me to claim it after showing him my claim check.

Lessons Learned:

  • There is little, if any, consistency between commercial air carriers regarding the appropriate checking and handling of consumer firearms in transit. Procedures vary and are different at every airport.  Many employees, even supervisors, don’t know what they are doing or what the rule and regulations are.
  • If a representative from any carrier does not know the law, the rules and regulations, or they disagree with your interpretation or opinion, they can simply default to “because I said so.” And if you ask to speak to a supervisor, who do you think they are likely to support? (Note: while this does not apply to the incident I described here, this has been my experience traveling with firearms on commercial carriers for over 30 years.)
  • Some air carriers, American Airlines in this case, are more concerned with their process or checklist than the actual security of your firearms and personal possessions. Remember, my luggage containing a firearm sat unattended and out in the open marked with a big red flag in Houston!
  • Since the incident in June, I have traveled with United and Delta. The check-in process and signing the orange declaration card is the same, but neither of these carriers visibly flag your baggage with red “steal me” signs.  This flagging process was new to me until my experience with AA in June.  Note: many years ago some airlines flagged luggage with red tags that said “FIREARM,” but I thought this practice was a thing of the past.  If you have concerns about this happening to you, call the carrier you will be traveling with in advance and ask if they do this.  Get the representative’s name.
  • Review the airline’s policy before leaving home. The AA silliness can be managed by purchasing an inexpensive box such as the MTM Ammo Guard.  This will allow you to transport ammunition but keep your mags empty.  United, Delta, and Southwest allow loaded magazines in the same case as the pistol provided the pistol is empty.
  • Southwest Airlines also states the following specific to loaded magazines: “Magazines or clips containing ammunition must be securely packaged (placed in another small box or in a secure cutout in the carrying case, in order to protect the primer of the ammunition).”

So what is the answer?  Don’t hesitate to travel with your firearm in checked luggage.  This is a polite way of saying that what we are doing is legal and proper, so don’t let the bastards wear you down!  Here are some suggestions from my experiences:

  1. Review the TSA and the specific airline carrier’s rules and regulations 30 days in advance of your flight.
  2. Print a copy of specific regulations and put them under the foam liner in your gun guard box.  It’s for friendly reference and discussion.  Remember, you are not going to win any argument with Keisha or her peeps.
  3. Arrive at least an 1-2 hours before when you would get there if you were not checking a firearm.  If you have an issue to discuss or reconcile, you may need this extra time not to miss your flight.  If you are in a hurry at the airport you are already behind the curve.  Relax and “enjoy” a $5 cup of coffee or a $15 airport sandwich.
  4. If you don’t understand why the agent is doing something – ask!  Most mean well and are friendly, but some of them really don’t know what in the world they are doing.
  5. I prefer a combination padlock to one with a key.
  6. If you travel frequently, the TSA “known traveler” or TSA Precheck program is worth the $85 fee which is good for 5 years.  You don’t have to wait in long airport security screening lines or take off your shoes or belt.  (You need to apply more than 30 days in advance of your travel.  This is the government.  At the administration office on West Broadway in Columbia, be prepared to encounter employees who barely speak English, are shrouded from head to toe, don’t know what they are doing, and don’t care about customer service.  They are a private contractor for a government service – double whammy!)
  7. Check your bag as soon as you claim it to make sure your firearm is still there.  Often the TSA will get into your bags and look around; they are supposed to leave a preprinted white card saying they were in your stuff for “routine” reasons.

Be safe, travel aware, and happy hunting!

It Was On the Internet: It Must (NOT) Be True!

by Dale Roberts

Regan trust but verifyAs the Coaches make parting comments at the end of Todd’s class, I always remind the students to be aware of what they read about firearms law on the Internet. President Ron Reagan said it best when he quoted the Russian proverb: Доверяй, но проверяй; Trust, but verify.)  The proverb was adopted as a signature phrase by Reagan, who used it frequently when discussing U.S. relations with the Soviet Union.

You might use that as your mantra anytime you read ‘the law’ on the internet.  Actually, I’m not even sure about ‘trusting’ anything on the internet but if you do search the ‘net for answers you must verify.

The problem of ‘bad law on the internet’ hit home as I was doing some research for Representative Chuck Basye.  Chuck is a huge supporter of the Second Amendment (as well as the other 9 amendments in our Bill of Rights!)  He is also a major supporter of law enforcement in the Missouri Legislature and is helping us during the Special Session on Crime Control.  While drafting something for him I had to search ‘guns in schools – Missouri.’

I was shocked, okay not really shocked, I was upset to see this inaccurate information: Even with a concealed carry permit, you’re not (emphasis added) allowed to carry a firearm into any higher education institution, or elementary or secondary school facility without the consent of the governing body of the school.”  More Information HereThat is not correct.

Then, on a different page from the same company they say: “Under Missouri law, it’s not legal to carry a gun onto a school campus.” But in the next paragraph, they go on to say: “If you’re a concealed carry permit holder in Missouri, you should still avoid carrying a gun in unauthorized places.  However, if you do so by accident, it’s not a crime.”  More Information Here.

So, is it illegal for a permit holder to carry in a school or not?  A violation of that law is a federal offense and you lose your gun rights for life.  Do you trust their advice?  Well, do you?

That’s just one source and I’m not picking on them. They just came up first when I was looking for an ATF regulation. If I had the time and room, I could show many more examples of ‘bad law on the internet.’

Where can you go for reliable and accurate answers on the law?  You can e-mail me at Palladiumjurisprudence@gmail.com or Todd at todd@tactical-specialties.com or check Missouri Attorney General’s page here.  (Editor’s note: Be VERY careful about hearsay or when someone says, “I heard…” when you are dealing with firearms issues!  There is little, if any, room for error in the gun world, even when you are operating in good faith.)

If you have read my columns then you know I always ‘cite my source’ or show where you, yourself, can find the information I relied on to come to my conclusion(s).  I won’t assert something if I can’t prove it. I have always believed the reader has the right to check my work.

Because “Trust but verify” requires a pre-existing amount of trust most internet sources don’t deserve, instead we should say “I’m From Missouri: Show Me” instead.

In 1899, Willard Vandiver, Congressman from southeast Missouri, declared “I’m from Missouri, and you have got to show me.”  More Information Here.  The expression was supposed to carry with it the suggestion that the Missouri Congressman did not propose to have anything ‘put over’ on him.  More Information Here.  Neither should you!

PS:  Instead of traditional footnotes at the bottom of the article, Todd has used the magic of hyperlinks and “More Information Here.”  Stay safe and be educated!  Dale.

The Power of Team Unity: Never Compromise!

By Mike Martin

I was recently talking with some colleagues and one had referenced a line from one of my favorite all time movies, “300”. (the other is “Gladiator”).  It got me thinking of many of the scenes in “300” and the many results of positive leadership displayed throughout the movie.    The Spartans were known as elite warriors who at age 7 began intense military training.  They were incredibly trained and even more so, incredibly unified.  So much so that they were feared by every foe that encountered them; actually before they encountered them.

The Spartan warriors were committed to a common way of life:  1. They were warriors.  2. They defended Sparta and its citizens 3. They loved their fellow warriors 4. They embraced and unwaveringly lived the code of ethics of being a Spartan warrior.  But how did this come to be?  The training to “be” a warrior – that is to know ‘how’ to fight came from training they received at an early age.  But how did they learn the value of being unified, the value of fighting with and for their brother and how to willingly sacrifice for the good of their army and all it stood for; even if it meant sacrificing their life?

These behaviors, these ethics and convictions were modeled to them by a tremendous leader named, King Leonidas.  This movie is packed full of inspiring quotes from King Leonidas and example after example of the power and effectiveness of Servant Leadership.  A King. A man with all human authority, ruler of a kingdom, chose to serve all Sparta stood for, chose to serve his people, serve his warriors and do all this while standing firm in his convictions, values and ethics.

King Leonidas honored the code: “Protect Sparta”.  He served everyone that a hierarchy system would say “was below him”.  He displayed courage and knew not the meaning of fear.  He led (not ruled) with integrity and conviction to these things.  He led with a resolve that no matter what force came against him to try to force him to change, he would not surrender these convictions and values.  He would serve and lead in the most honoring way knowing he was unifying a country, unifying and society, unifying a team of warriors and knew by doing so, Sparta would be a shining light on a hill and the mere mention of its army would strike fear in the soldiers of every other kingdom in the land!

King Leonidas unified an entire country, each person knowing her/his role and willingly doing it to the best of their ability for the country and for each other.  He released in young men a warriors heart that knew no fear.  They were committed to their cause and to each other and willingly fought and sacrificed for Sparta and for each other.  There were no egos, no jealousy, no sense of entitlement – it was not modeled by the King and it was not allowed.  It went against their code of ethics.

The Spartan Army knew that no single man (or woman) wins the battle.  But instead, victory requires a unified team of warriors, willing to fight, willing to sacrifice and willing to give everything they have for the good of the cause and the good of their brothers in battle.  These were their values.  The values were too important to them and to the existence of Sparta and the effectiveness of the army, to ever compromise on them or waiver in their stance or conviction about them.  King Leonidas modeled this consistently and with integrity.  Because of this and because of how King Leonidas served as their leader, everyone made that same level of commitment and conviction to those convictions, values, and ethics.

This is how great teams are made.  This is how you lead a team to achieve more than anyone thought possible. This is how the mere thought of having to play opposite you in a sport or a company discovering they are competing with you for a sale strikes fear in them.  The leader knows what his/her values are (others) and they lead by serving them and lead never wavering on these values.  Value for someone releases value in them and then allows them to value others.  This was the case with the Spartan army, led by Leonidas.  He valued everyone he served as King.  He considered no one as beneath him.  He reinforced a culture where everyone honored each other and all were on a level field.  He never took the easy way out and he worked hard to serve those he led.

Out of this leadership, the Spartan warriors willingly ran into every battle, to be the first to put themselves in harm’s way to defend Sparta, defend their fellow warriors and defend their convictions, values, and ethics.  Fear, was not known by them.  The risk of death did not deter them. There was no compromise in them or their leader.  Many tried to get King Leonidas to change how he led for they knew if they were successful in doing so they would be successful in defeating the Spartans and overtaking Sparta.

One of these rulers that tried was King Xerxes. Leonidas and Xerxes were very different leaders but leaders nonetheless:

  • Xerxes had slaves that carried a platform covered in gold that he rode upon.  He walked on their backs as he descended from it.  Leonidas walked with his men and he slept on the dirt with them at night.
  • Xerxes had men fight for him.  Leonidas fought with and for his warriors.
  • Xerxes was decorated in gold from head to toe.  Leonidas wore what his warriors wore and carried a spear and shield as they did.

Xerxes was obsessed with the need to defeat King Leonidas and the Spartan warriors.  He approached with over 300,000 men.  King Leonidas and the Spartans stood ready – 300 of them!  King Leonidas, about to enter into a battle that most would say in which they had no chance, leads with his convictions, values and ethics and proclaims, “Battle Stations Captain”!  His warriors rally into position and before the battle starts he declares, “This is where we fight.  This is where they die”.

I met MJ while training in Montana. Men do not have a monopoly on the warrior ethos!

King Leonidas and the Spartan Army went on to overwhelmingly defeat wave after wave of Xerxes army that came against them.  Eventually, Xerxes called off the attack and requested to meet with King Leonidas.  Xerxes compliments Leonidas for the success the Spartans had against his army.  Xerxes says, “I would gladly kill half of my own men for victory”.  King Leonidas replies, “And I would die for any of mine”.  King Leonidas adds, “You have many slaves Xerxes, but few warriors”.

Xerxes extends his offer to King Leonidas, “…you will carry my battle standards into the heart of Europa.  Your Athenian rivals will kneel at your feet…if you will but kneel at mine”.  King Leonidas replies, “You are generous, yes you are…..such an offer only a mad man would refuse….but there will be no kneeling for me”.  With this, King Leonidas returns to his men and later they find themselves surrounded by Xerxes few remaining soldiers and an enormous number of archers on high ground above them.  One final opportunity for King Leonidas to bow to Xerxes was made.  King Leonidas winked at his warriors and with no honoring intent to Xerxes, King Leonidas knelt.  But he did so, so he could call forth a warrior to kill Xerxes messenger and then he and his warriors fought to their end.

As death was imminent, King Leonidas fell to his hands and knees.  One of his fatally wounded warriors, with everything left in him, gets close enough to take King Leonidas’ hand and express to him, “My King.  It is an honor to die at your side”.  King Leonidas replies to him, “It is an honor to have lived at yours”.  He then rises again and is killed by archers whose arrows darkened the sky.

King Leonidas would not compromise Spartan convictions, values, and ethics.  He didn’t let down those he had trained, those he modeled behavior for, those he praised and valued.  He would not compromise in the midst of a difficult time, even if it meant his death.  Even in death, King Leonidas and his warriors were victorious.  They lived, led, fought and died with honor and integrity and all the things that made them a unified team.  Let us learn from this great king and leader and may we be inspired to have the courage to live and lead with the same conviction and commitment as he did for those we lead.

National Christian Protector’s Conference – Rescheduled

March 25-27, 2021 in Kansas City, Missouri

The second annual National Christian Protectors Conference is dedicated to equipping and inspiring protectors to live a courageous faith.  This conference will be packed with many tactical training sessions, world-class keynote speakers and nightly worship.  Sessions include Church Security, Compliance and Control, Low Light Firearms Applications, Child Protection, Ministry to First Responders, Lockdown Procedures, Crisis Casualty Care, Pastoral Protection, Tactics and Firearms Handling, and more!  For more information and to register for only $99.

Click here for website.  Lower rates are available for “early birdies” and groups of 4 or more!  I look forward to seeing you there!

The Foundation of Armed Church Security Must Be Love

by Scott Smithson

I was preparing for our team range training and what I would say. I was planning on explaining how the foundation of armed safety teams needs to be training and accountability. I felt God tell me “No, it is love.”  I argued and said that love is for the regular part of the safety ministry not for the part where we carry weapons. Again, I hear a voice in my head say “No, it is love.”  I ask how and the scriptures start flooding my mind. Genesis 1:27, 1 John 4:7-8, 1 Corinthians 16:14, 1 Corinthians 13:1-7.  We are made in God’s image. God is love; therefore, we should be full of love.  We should do everything in love. Without love (God) we are nothing.

Romans 12:20, Matthew 5:43-48. Even though the whole purpose of armed security is to protect our church against those wishing to harm its members, we still must love.   We never know, maybe the small word of kindness or act of service to someone with evil intentions will be the catalyst God uses to perform a miraculous transformation of their heart not unlike the transformation Paul had.

I finally understood why love had to be the foundation, but I was not sure how training and accountability fit in. God revealed they are a product of love.  If those who we are charged with protecting have a foundation of love, they will, out of that love, want to have a system in place that gives us the tools we need to be safer, to be more effective, and hold us accountable for our actions or inactions. If we have our foundation in love, then we will, out of that love, want to train so we are safer and more effective. We will embrace being held accountable for our actions or inactions. God, out of his love for us, holds us accountable for our sins. Without accountability and love, there is no repentance or changing bad behaviors.

Jack Wilson receives the Medal of Courage from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on 1/13/20 after his life-saving actions at the West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, Texas on 12/29/19. Note the bulge under Jack’s sport jacket!

1 John 4:18, 1 John 4:12. We can train, but that only takes us so far.  When confronted with evil, as humans we will freeze, flee, or fight. The navy seals have a saying that goes something like “You will not rise to the occasion; you will fall to your level of training.”   I believe that wholeheartedly when you take fear out of the equation. We are more likely to freeze or flee than fight unless we overcome fear. The only way to conquer fear is with love.  God’s love is made perfect in us and perfect love casts out fear. Love must be the foundation we stand on even when we must fight. Training makes us safer. Training gives us confidence. Training gives us something to fall back upon in stressful situations. Training makes us more effective. Training gives us humility.  But training does not remove fear.

From this day on, we need to make sure we build upon a foundation of love. Out of the love for our church family we need to accept the responsibility of being armed with the necessary tools of the trade. Out of love for us, our church family needs to accept the responsibility of putting in place a system that supports us in training with these tools and holds us accountable for our actions or inactions.  Out of love for our church family, we need to train to be safer and more effective if called to act. Out of love, we need to show each person who comes to our church kindness through word and deed. We must allow God to make his love perfect in us so we will not fear. Each of these is so important because at any time we may be tested. If all of these things are in place, we can step up and boldly act with confidence and fight fiercely and intelligently without fear…all because of love!

Editor’s Note: On August 3, 2020, Scott sent the below e-mail to me and permitted me to attach it after the above article he authored.  It is a fantastic example of how a servant’s heart and a warrior’s mindset can affect positive change.  As the team leader and training coordinator, Scott shook the tree when he returned to his church and made some major command decisions about what about their team needed to change with team members who thought they were doing well but had not tested or validated what they were doing or how they were doing it.  Here is Scott’s e-mail to me:


I wanted to thank you for the job you and the other instructors do. I don’t know if you ever hear of the profound effect that you and your team have on those that you train. I am thankful for the training I got with my weapon but more thankful that that training came from godly men who sincerely care for those they train.

The greatest thing I took from the classes was the lesson in humility. I learned my pride not only stood in my way of learning, it stood in my way of hearing God and acting on his wishes. I have spent most of my life ignoring what God wants and not doing the right thing. I did what I wanted and that usually wasn’t anywhere near what God’s plan for me was.

Thanks to the heart change I have had, I am acting on what God wants and striving to do what is right. While planning for a day on the range with my team last Sunday, I found myself in an argument with God. He revealed some things to me and had me put them to paper and share them with my team and church leadership. I also feel led to share with you. Attached is the letter. I hope it isn’t too hard to read. I am not a writer. 

Scott Smithson

Train With Us!

CCW1: Carrying a Concealable Firearm

October 3 or December 5, 2020, 0730-1600, $100


CCW1-1 at Tactical EMS School Essentials for Tactical Medic Certification Paramedic Emergency Medical by Tactical Specialties and Todd Burke in Columbia MO

This  8-hour program which will qualify you to obtain your permit for carrying a concealed firearm according to Missouri State Statute. This is also an excellent class for those wanting to learn or refresh firearms safety and basic marksmanship skills. Our coaches are credentialed operators and instructors with significant experience and we enjoy helping others learn. Our course is approved by the Missouri Department of Public Safety – Police Officer Standards and Training.

CCW3: Prevailing In Low Light

Saturday, October 24, 2020, 1300-2200, $175


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We offer this course each fall and take advantage of the early darkness.  We will first cover the 8 principles for fighting in low light then move to the range to practice the skill of manipulating a high-intensity flashlight with your pistol already in your hands.  Add to this the use of cover/cornering which we called “tactical geometry” in CCW2 and we are now addressing the environment in which over half of the gunfights occur!  This is the natural progression from our CCW2 course and CCW2 is a prerequisite for CCW3: Prevailing in Low Light.

CCW2: Principles of Personal Defense

Saturday, November 21, 2020, 0800-1600, $175


practical pistol skills at hallsville baptist church on january 20, 2018 all handling and no live fire

This dynamic and skill-oriented class addresses the realities of combat and the skills necessary to effectively fight and defend yourself with a firearm. We use a building-block approach to ensure that participants learn safe, proven, and tactically sound methods of handling and manipulating their firearm, and they are comfortable with how their firearm operates. We ensure that this occurs through repetitive drilling with constant positive and constructive feedback.

Tactical Rifle Camp 2020

Friday & Saturday, November 6 & 7, 0800-1600, $350


This two‐day camp will help you build skills, tactics, and the ability to communicate and problem solve under duress. This is not a beginner’s course. You should be able to safely manage your equipment in a controlled manner while on the firing line with others and you must have a conscientious command of safety skills. This training involves moderate physical activity so participants should be in good cardiovascular health. Drills include walking forward, backward, and laterally with a firearm indexed in the “up” position for short periods of time. Participants with orthopedic issues will not be required to kneel. Operators will benefit from our excellent coach‐to‐student ratio and a wide array of skills, drills and scenarios geared for real‐world.

The Superbelt – Now Sold Internationally!

I have been wearing a Superbelt, made right here in Mid-Missouri, for about 3 years.  I use if for both IWB and OWB carry and I have been very happy with it’s performance and wear.  It has several characteristics that uniquely qualify it as the perfect stabilizing platform for mounting a holstered pistol upon.   A couple of my friends who are U.S. Secret Service agents are currently wearing this belt on protection assignments.  Ellis Benus is the owner/operator of The Superbelt and he has made a short video explaining exactly what the Superbelt is, options you can choose, and why you should have one – it’s a fun watch!  You may also take advantage of a 10% product discount if you enter the coupon code “tacspec” at checkout.  Good stuff!  Watch Superbelt video here!

Folks We Trust and Do Business With…and You Should Too!

ADVERTISING – THIS IS HOW WE ROLL…Many have asked how much it costs to advertise in The Shooting Times.    The answer is ZERO.  I don’t currently accept paid advertising.  The folks you see in our newsletter are people I know and trust and do business with myself.  They share the good word about me and I do the same for them.  Same kind of barter thing that helped get our country going.  Still works today.  So when you see an ad, a business card, or a referral in The Shooting Times, they didn’t pay for it…they earned it!  Thanks everyone!

Custom Hearing Protection

What Ya Say custom molded hearing protection by Cathy Ergovich preferred by Todd Burke tactical training specialties and Green Valley Rifle and Pistol Club

Columbia’s Indoor Firing Range

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Carhartt, Liberty, YETI, Luminox, Surefire and more!

500 East Broadway, Columbia, MO 573-443-2565

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Columbia’s Indoor Archery Range

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The Invincible Super Belt TheSuperBelt.com Square

Exercise Your First Amendment Right…Let Us Hear from You!

Take a minute to respond to what you have read, learned, agree or disagree with.  Use the “leave a comment” section at the bottom.  The authors, staff, and coaches who offer our training and education services value constructive feedback, and we want to keep this FREE newsletter going in a direction that honors God, our country, and our families.  Many man-hours go into the construction of each edition. We invite you to share your thoughts with us!

Parting Shots

Learn From the Past, Prepare for the Future…and Do It NOW!

by Todd Burke

This concept is great, but is this what you want to advertise in a crowded public place (like the airport where I took this photo)? Particularly if you are not armed nor aware that a guy is behind you taking your photo?

What did we learn from the events that began to unfold around the middle of March 2020?  The whole toilet paper thing still boggles me.  If all you learned was another level of fear, then I probably cannot be of service to you.  And I am not going to lecture you or give you a list of lists or tell you what books to read and to have on your “survival bookshelf.”  No matter who wins the November election, there will be more civil disturbances, accusations of election-stealing, and some local and state officials will refuse to honor their oath and responsibilities to their electorate by enforcing the law.  One of the best things we can do, as I learned in the Boy Scouts, is to be prepared.  I mean this not just from a self-defense perspective, but from a posture of being self-reliant.  The following is by no means comprehensive, just some things to consider:

  • Do you know your neighbors and can you depend upon and trust them.  Have you had a conversation with them about these kinds of things?  Are you prepared to support each other and potentially share resources?
  • Food and nutritional resources to be on your own for 6 months or more.  Also consider what might happen if power is interrupted for a week or more and you could lose all of the supplies in your refrigerator and freezer.  Don’t stockpile Spam and MRE’s if you don’t normally eat Spam and MRE’s!
  • A way to access, filter, and purify water that does not come from the tap.
  • A way to hand-wash clothing, without a washing machine and electricity.
  • Basic sanitation if the toilet is not available.  (Think not just outdoor privy in case the ground is frozen, but also a 5-gallon bucket with a seat and a disposal site.)  A dozen 5-gallon buckets can be useful for lots of other things.
  • Health, sanitation, first-aid, and basic medical supplies.  Now is the time to ask your physician for med scripts you might need but do not currently have.
  • Basic construction and repair materials.  Hand tools and power tools.  How can you secure a broken door or window in the winter if the power is out?
  • Alternative ways to safely heat at least part of your living space.  (In a pinch you can pitch a tent in your living room and just the bodies sleeping in the tent can warm the tent to 50 degrees even if there is no heat in the house.)
  • Fuels and fuel stabilizer for certain necessary power tools.
  • Defensive tools for protection and propper accessories for them.  Get some pepper spray for a less-lethal option other than a firearm.  I like Sabre Red pepper gel because the cross-contamination and blowback are less and the reach is 15 feet with a stream instead of a cone or fog.
  • Batteries, radios, flashlights.
  • 3 different ways to make fire and several fire extinguishers.
  • Morale boosters such as board games, cards, etc.
  • A physical bible and other necessary references NOT on your iPhone or computer.
  • Chocolate and your favorite whiskey!

These are just a few suggestions and I hope they are absolutely unnecessary.  But I do remember in April my daughter looking across the dinner table and saying to me, “Dad, Covid has been going on for over a month and we have not HAD to go to town for anything.”  She was right.  Get the hint?