The Birth of The Suited Shootist

So how did all this get started? Why did I decide that my opinions mattered? Well let’s start at the beginning:

I was born a poor black child…*


There seems to be a bit of a void in the training community. There’s a ton of information out there for people that are at a “white belt” experience level, and there’s a lot of “brown belt” and ” black belt” level content out there.

What I haven’t found much of is the middle ground, the “blue belts” documenting their progression & experiences. The regular guys that don’t carry guns or teach people to shoot as part of their job. The dudes that may know what the FAST test or Bill Drill are, but may be hesitant to share their own performance because it’s not good enough for The ‘Gram.

The other glaringly absent element (for me at least) are the realities of living with a firearm in business professional environments or other social circles where going armed isn’t the norm.

At best this is enough of a shared experience that other folks can benefit from my trial & error. At worst, it’ll be a record of my training progress.

*yes, there will be a smattering of obscure pop culture references throughout my writings.

Y U Do Dis?

In regards to training, everyone has different motivations as to why they do it. For some it’s professional continuing education. For others it’s what they do for fun. Certain people have had a life experience that has spotlighted the need to protect themselves.

I had the good fortune to spend some time chatting with Mickey Schuch of Carry Trainer at the 2019 Rangemaster Tactical Conference back in March, and he asked me what my motivation was for continuing to train…and I didn’t have a good answer for him.

Driving to work the other day, I recalled a conversation that I had with a good friend of mine a few years back. During that chat, he posed the question “If you were to hire someone to provide security for your family, would you pay someone with your current skill-set and abilities?” While I’m more comfortable with my present skill set than I would have been in the past, I certainly don’t feel that my abilities are at a level that would justify charging for services.

I may be the odd man out here. I’m not training to be the hero. I don’t have this scenario in my head about valiantly saving the day from mass killer or a terrorist. I have no interest in Die Hard cosplay. The reason that I train, that I will spend my own time and money away from the family I’ve worked so hard to build, is because of exactly that: I have something to lose. My concern is that I’ll be confronted by somebody that is better than me, and wants something that I’m unwilling to give. So I work to ensure that pool of potential adversaries is as small as possible, to reduce the chances I’ll ever cross paths with one. Because “live and let live” is a great philosophy for life, but it’s a poor defensive strategy.

Who The Hell Is This Guy?

I don’t have a military or law enforcement background. I shot my first gun at summer camp when I was a kid, but didn’t start shooting with any level of frequency until high school.

I bought my first handgun on my 21st birthday, and started carrying almost immediately. Like most folks out there, the only formal instruction I had (or thought I needed) was my state Concealed Handgun Permit class.

A couple years after that, I was exposed to my first formal “tactical” shooting class, and it started to crystallize the need for continuing education.

For a time, I was your typical “gun guy”. You’d regularly find me in 5.11 pants. I thought that you HAD to have a full sized pistol, at least one extra magazine, a tactical folder, and a backup gun in order to be “prepared”; anything short of that and you clearly didn’t take your safety seriously. Well when you’re working at a gun shop in your early twenties, it’s easy to get away with that kind of thing, because your lifestyle and social circles allow it.

Like most folks, I matured and evolved. During that evolution, I also pursued additional training, and came across some other great resources in the form of blogs & podcasts. They started helping me understand what’s really important, and where I should direct my training efforts.

Fast forward a few more years, my hobbies are now fully entrenched in personal protection: I’m taking a couple training classes ever year, I’m at the shooting range regularly, I start getting into BJJ, and I’m improving my physical conditioning to get into “fighting shape”. I’m what you’d consider reasonably competent with a firearm. Not winning any awards, but definitely part of the 1% that Karl Rehn talks about in some of his writings.

Then, I find myself confronted with what felt like a pretty significant challenge: all the content I’d been consuming, all the YouTube videos, all the articles, all the gear that’s being advertised to me through various channels is all geared towards casual street clothes! My world were colliding. My chosen lifestyle was now conflicting with my chosen profession, and something had to give. The chosen profession was what funded all the gunday funday stuff, so that meant I’d have to find a way to work the gun into my daily life, and not live my life around carrying a gun.

My understanding and proficiency of both style and self defense have progressed significantly over the past several years, to the point where I feel I’ve managed to strike the most effective balance between the two. My hope is that this is enough of a shared experience that others can benefit from my trial and error.

Courses I’ve Taken So Far

Courses I’ve Taken (437 hrs. Total):

Citizens Defense Research – Technical Handgun: Tests & Standards (20 hrs) – John Johnston

Shivworks – Edged Weapons Overview (16 hrs) – Craig Douglas

DFW Defensive Training – Saps & Blackjacks (8 hrs) – Guy Schnitzler

Immediate Action Combatives – IABJJ/IAPugilism (20 hrs) – Cecil Burch

Bolke/Burch/Haggard – NPE Counter-Robbery (20 hrs)

Green Ops – Defensive Pistol Combatives (8 hrs) – John Valentine

2022 Rangemaster Tactical Conference (21 hrs total)

          > Revolver Options – Darryl Bolke (2 hrs)

          > Ready Positions vs. Bad Guy Behaviors -Erick Gelhaus (2 hrs)

          > Training for Accuracy Against Animated Threats – John Holschen (4 hrs)

> Active Killer Response – Ed Monk (4 hrs)

          > Experiential Learning Lab – Craig Douglas (3 hrs)

          > Concealment Tune-Up – PHLster (2 hrs)

> Ankle Guns – Chuck Haggard (2 hrs)

> Pocket Snubbies – Darryl Bolke (2 hrs)

Citizens Defense Research – Contextual Handgun: The Armed Parent/Guardian (16 hrs) – John Johnston

Citizens Defense Research – Contextual Cognition: Mental Agility, Preparation & Planning Skills (8 hrs) – Chris Cypert

Green Ops – Combatives for Concealed Carry (8 hrs) – John Valentine

Hardwired Tactical Shooting/Lone Star Medics – Counter-Robbery & TacMed EDC (8 hrs) – Caleb Causey & Darryl Bolke

2021 Rangemaster Tactical Conference (20 hrs total)

          > Who Wins, Who Loses, and Why? – John Hearne (8 hrs)

          > Lessons from Recent Cases – Massad Ayoob (2 hrs)

          > Keep Your Piece (Weapon Retention) – Larry Lindenman & Cecil Burch (2 hrs)

> Secrets of Highly Successful Gunfighters – Darryl Bolke (4 hrs)

          > In-Fight Weapon Access – Larry Lindenman & Cecil Burch (2 hrs)

          > Safe Travel Dangerous Places – Greg Ellifritz (2 hrs)

Green Ops – Advanced Covert Carry Skills (16 hrs) – Mike Green

Lone Star Medics – Tac Med EDC (8 hrs) – Caleb Causey

Hill Country Combatives – In-Fight Weapon Access (6 hrs) – Cliff Byerly

Dark Angel Medical – Direct Action Response Training (16 hs) – Kerry David

Citizens Defense Research – Technical Handgun: Tests & Standards (10 hrs) – John Johnston

2019 Rangemaster Tactical Conference (24 hrs total)

          > Technical Skills for Tactical Success w. Gabe White (4 hrs)

          > Controversial Acquittals w. Massad Ayoob (2 hrs)

          > Empty Hand Skills for Gunfighters w. Greg Ellifritz (2 hrs)

          > Recoil Management w. Paul Sharp (4 hrs)

          > Social Shotgun w. Tom Givens (4 hrs)

          > Saps & Jacks w. Larry Lindenman (2 hrs)

          > Police/Citizen Contacts w. Lee Weems (2 hrs)

          > Practical Folding Knife w. Chris Fry (2 hrs)

          > Medical Response on the Range w. Caleb Causey (2 hrs)

Immediate Action Combatives – IABJJ/IAPugilism (16 hrs) – Cecil Burch

Awareness Defense Training – Handgun Essentials (8 hrs) – Spencer Keepers

Awareness Defense Training – AIWB Skillset (8 hrs) – Spencer Keepers

Unthinkable: Concepts & Techniques for the Gravest Extreme (8 hrs) – William Aprill

Massad Ayoob Group – MAG40 (40 hrs)

Shivworks – ECQC (20 hrs) – Craig Douglas

Vladimir Ignatkov Against the Knife (6 hrs)

Vladimir Ignatkov Intro to Systema (6 hrs)

Modern Combative Systems 7×7 Part Deux (16 hrs) – George Matheis

Tactical First Aid – Persys Medical (8 hrs)

Sonny Puzikas Intro to Systema “Unrestrained in Austin” (16 hrs)

Modern Combative Systems 7×7 (16 hrs) – George Matheis

Tactical Response Fighting Pistol (16 hrs) – James Yeager