Ep. 01: What's Old is New, Two Hillbillies from ChilliwackIn this, our very first episode of The Silvercore Podcast, Travis Bader sits down with Nicholas Bolton and Paul Ballard, two retired police firearms instructors and we talk about becoming a firearms instructor and tips on reducing stress when shooting. What the difference between police and civilian firearms training, how men and women differ when learning to shoot and much more.
Travis Bader: [00:04:48] LESA.
Paul Ballard: [00:04:49] Law Enforcement Shooting Association and we started a formalized classes and put those on, in addition to the monthly matches that we were running.
Nick Bolton: [00:04:57] LESA is still going strong at that mountain club.
Paul Ballard: [00:05:00] Oh, correct, yeah and it’s still around. And in those days, LESA was, you know, 15 to 18 people showing up for a monthly match and by the time three or four years had progressed, we were showing regularly 75 people at a monthly match.
Travis Bader: [00:05:16] Wow.
Paul Ballard: [00:05:16] And, when we hosted the nationals, The Canadian Police Combat Association nationals, we had one of the biggest turnouts historically for years then. Also gave away a lot of guns in those cities.
Nick Bolton: [00:05:29] What I would add to that is there has always been an informal group of trainers in the civilian area, people who specialize in a particular sport. For example, the IPSC Black Badge trainers. Most clubs have a guy who is competent and will and can train.
[00:05:52] You’ve got to get your start somewhere. When I started, which is a long time ago, it was usually a parent.
Travis Bader: [00:05:59] Right.
Nick Bolton: [00:06:00] And the first person to take me to a shooting club was my dad, and he showed me the basics. And of course, other members of the club, the Risley Rifle Club, helped out, kept you on the straight and narrow.
[00:06:15] I was only, what, probably 14 at the time, but now an awful lot of people are coming into shooting with no introductions.
Paul Ballard: [00:06:25] Thats true, yeah.
Nick Bolton: [00:06:27] And this is where a civilian instructor, a group of instructors is going to become extremely important.
Paul Ballard: [00:06:35] Yeah, that’s true. You know, when I think back, what was the first formal firearms instruction I had, besides my dad saying, be careful, don’t point it at anything.
Travis Bader: [00:06:43] Right.
Paul Ballard: [00:06:43] I went to a summer camp, Timberline ranch out in Maple Ridge and at Timberline Ranch they had a 22 program, eight years old, a shooting at cans hanging from strings. And at the end of the, the two week camp, they gave out marksmanship badges and I was kinda hooked at that point.
[00:07:01] I spent, you know, informal time with my cousins back in Manitoba, you know, every day spent with a 22 rifle, single shot Cooey in my hand.
Travis Bader: [00:07:11] Good fun.
Paul Ballard: [00:07:12] My cousin down in California, bless him, he, he was much older than I was, but he was in the ROTC at the time. He was very helpful in given, you know, instruction on how to shoot better. And then once I got into the army cadets, I was probably the first formalized [00:07:30] training that I had and first formalized competition through the BCRA and the DCRA small board.
Travis Bader: [00:07:36] And what age was that?
Paul Ballard: [00:07:37] I started with the cadets when I was 13 and I shot all the way through that till I was 17 with BCRA DCRA and then later I rejoined the, the BCRA and DCRA, which was the best $15 you could spend every year. They’d show up, all the ammunition was provided. I guess it was, the closest thing would be the civilian marksmanship program, the United States to that.
Travis Bader: [00:07:59] Right. And I think we’ve got something in Canada, actually. What did.
Paul Ballard: [00:08:03] Oh, the, yeah, the BCRA, which is sort of the provincial offshoot to the dominion of Canada Rifle Association still exists. They sponsor the sniper shoots and a lot of the service conditions matches and it’s, it’s evolved a lot. I mean, in, I would say devolved because you’re not getting the free ammunition or the included ammunition.
[00:08:23] I remember civilians who were members would show up, they would be provided with the English high powers to shoot the service conditions match, pistol match with.
Travis Bader: [00:08:33] Love it.
Nick Bolton: [00:08:35] Those Cadet groups, those youth groups did and do a very valuable service because there’s nothing better than teaching people safety when they’re young, teaching them competency when they’re young. I don’t know if the Scouts still have a shooting program, they used to, but certainly the cadet groups do. And for example, Chilliwack Fish and Game runs a camp for the youth. Was it 12 to [00:09:00] 14, which is young, but they’re taught firearm safety as part of the days they spend to that camp. These are things that we’ve got to keep going.
Paul Ballard: [00:09:08] That’s true. And I mean, the army cadets, when I started with them, we were firing SMGs and there was initially the Lee Enfield rifle 303.
Nick Bolton: [00:09:19] God bless.
Paul Ballard: [00:09:19] But eventually, in our cadet Corps, we, I think we had 35 FNC 1, A1 762 rifles and that would, there used to be a range by the, Eagle Ridge Hospital where it, where it is now at the top of Nunes Creek Road, the Port Moody Fish and Game Club and that’s where we used to go and shoot these FN rifles. And that was how the really to start for me. Today, I don’t think that cadets are allowed to shoot anything other than air rifles.
[00:09:50] I’m, I’m, and any, any stuff that’s done, you know, outside of that is probably done with a local gun club as opposed to the sanction of the, of the Royal Canadian Army Cadets or Air Cadets or Sea Cadets.
Travis Bader: [00:10:02] I think they’re still doing a little bit of 22, they’ve some hand shoots. I think they’ve got some full bore competitions cause they do send them over to Bisley still.
Paul Ballard: [00:10:09] Yeah. Okay.
Nick Bolton: [00:10:10] And there is a big biathlon I think in this program here in BC. A number of the cadet forces have done some training at our club, in the past, and it’s quite a big competition.
Paul Ballard: [00:10:24] But, but I think we’re right here is in the past, and we’re talking 45 years or so ago, it was easy for a kid in particular to get involved in something where they would get some form of safe, competent instruction in the use of firearms.
[00:10:40] Again, we look, all of us had fathers that had firearms that got us into shooting. But today we see more and more people coming, particularly in the Canadian Firearm Safety Course, people just say, Hey, I always was interested in this.
[00:10:55] I’m showing up, but I don’t know where I’m going to go because no one in my family, maybe some of my friends, who have already taken the safety training and had bought a firearm, you know, we’re going to go out and try shooting, but where do you actually go?
[00:11:06] Where do you go to get competent, safe training? And, and that’s what we really need to move ahead. There’s a lot of charlatans that are out there, you know, people that are doing it, not necessarily so much for the love of the sport or of the enjoyment of teaching people, but more for the money is the motivator.
Travis Bader: [00:11:26] We’ve seen that. Yes.
Paul Ballard: [00:11:27] And I think, you know, you’ve said it many times, give a quality product, the money a follow.
Travis Bader: [00:11:32] You got it.
Paul Ballard: [00:11:33] You know, it is a way to pay for your, I call it my habit, my addiction.
Nick Bolton: [00:11:39] Whiskey.
Travis Bader: [00:11:41] That too.
Paul Ballard: [00:11:42] No, no, no, no. It’s, I’m using it to pay for my, my hunting addiction, my firearms addiction. You know, it’s, it’s extra money. It’s additional money that I make, but, I certainly don’t do it just for that.
Nick Bolton: [00:11:55] When you started talking though about fathers teaching or things like that, and it’s brought to mind a kind of a strange thing that Travis mentioned right at the beginning, how I was, one of the instructors his Armoured Car course. Well, Travis’s dad taught me at the BC Police Academy. So what comes around seems to go around.
Travis Bader: [00:12:15] It does.
Paul Ballard: [00:12:17] Yeah no there’s always that, you know, so many degrees of separation on everything, you know, it just keeps coming back, so.
Travis Bader: [00:12:23] Yeah. Small world. So Nick, you’ve done a fair bit of teaching in the States.
Nick Bolton: [00:12:27] Yes.
Travis Bader: [00:12:28] What are your observations being an instructor in the States versus being an instructor in Canada?
Nick Bolton: [00:12:34] I think. The biggest difference I have seen is when you teach in the States, nearly all your teaching revolves around self defence. Concealed weapons courses, carrying a concealed weapon, being able to use a handgun, or rifle or shotgun to protect yourself. And when you teach up here, that is not the case, with the exception of, of course, the law enforcement.
Travis Bader: [00:13:03] Right.
Nick Bolton: [00:13:03] And similar armed professionals. What you’re teaching up here is firearm safety, of course, but also competition shooting, how to shoot a gun accurately, how to shoot in a gun accurately and quickly. This type of thing. You’re not dealing with the complexities of, self-defence.
Travis Bader: [00:13:25] Now I know at Silvercore, we’ve always been very careful about what we teach and how we market what we teach, and we want to ensure that everything that we provide is applicable. It’s going to bring value to the client, and it’s going to be something that can be used in a sporting situation.
[00:13:43] But we also do training for, people who will be using the firearm for defence of their life. What are your thoughts on that sort of training in Canada to the civilian market? Cause I know there’s, there’s definitely an appetite for the US style training in Canada.
Nick Bolton: [00:14:01] I think there’s a certain, excitement level in people’s minds when they start to talk about, self defence. What they don’t realize is the terrible responsibilities that go along with it and ask any policeman who shot anybody, what he went through. And I would say at least 99.5% of police shootings, are justifiable and valid, yet they still go through this thing.
[00:14:30] People who want to carry a gun for self defence never think on that side of it. The other thing that, and this is not my thoughts, but it’s something once somebody once said to me, is all these people want to carry a gun to protect themselves. How many of them own a fire extinguisher in the home?
Travis Bader: [00:14:48] Yeah, good point.
Nick Bolton: [00:14:48] How many carry a first aid kit in the car? But let’s take that out of it. There could come a time when you do have to defend yourself and it’s valid to learn to you do it legally, to do it within the bounds of public perception that the public sees it as being the correct thing to do.
Travis Bader: [00:15:08] That’s a, you know, I think it’s a big thing that you’re touching on there.
Nick Bolton: [00:15:12] And of course the whole thing that goes around the legality.
Travis Bader: [00:15:16] Right.
Nick Bolton: [00:15:17] Now, that all goes way beyond standing on the range and pressing the trigger.
Paul Ballard: [00:15:23] I don’t know if I can chime in. I mean, one of the things that, you know, you continue to get asked about this stuff, you know, or the, the suggestions that are made, just the mere presence of a, of a firearm is going to change how people are going to behave around you and everything else.
[00:15:38] And, and I don’t think enough thought or depth of thought is actually given to, to what’s at hand. I mean, if you want to carry a gun, the first thing you have to learn how to do is how to keep that gun in your possession.
Travis Bader: [00:15:50] Right.
Paul Ballard: [00:15:51] People, are you, are you willing to spend the time on the gym mats to learn how to, you know defend yourself physically before you would ever have to defend yourself, with lethal force. You know, you have to be able to use hands on techniques to keep that gun in your possession.
[00:16:05] And I, and again, you know, we don’t have anything in place in, in our country that allows, you know, to, to present a firearm, to prevent somebody from coming into, take your property away. You know, that, you know, depending on the state that you go in the, you know, the Castle Doctrines that exist.
Travis Bader: [00:16:23] Sure.
Paul Ballard: [00:16:24] We, we, we see a lot of people think, Oh, that’s a good idea, but it’s not really a good idea. You know, when your house catches on fire, going back to Nick’s fire extinguisher analogy there, do you fight the fire yourself or do you call 911 and ask the professionals to come put that fire out. Do you have a plan in place to get your family out safely and move on from there, so.
Travis Bader: [00:16:44] And that seems to be a bigger, a bigger conversation definitely, that people seem to get jazzed about the concept of watch TV. They say, this is what I’d like to be like this without actually putting in the, the necessary effort. There’s, there’s so much surrounding that decision that isn’t firearms related.
Paul Ballard: [00:17:04] Yeah. And so what we’re doing here in Canada, I think is the right thing. We offer the ability to improve their skills with that firearm. It’s like going to a golf pro, you know, would you go and buy a set of golf clubs and just head out to the links and you know, whack the ball around and go, man, this is not going so well for me.
[00:17:21] Or would you rather take the time to get with a, a competent professional that has instructional skills and can sharpen your gain so it’s not a waste of money. And I, and I find that is where we need to sell people more in Canada. That’s, that’s the difference here. You know, you’re, you’re not learning this as a, a part of your second amendment rights, you know, to, to, to keep, or bear arms. You’re doing this because it’s a sport.
Travis Bader: [00:17:45] Right.
Paul Ballard: [00:17:45] You know, and, and that’s what we’re, we’re leaning towards is firearms instruction in Canada.
Travis Bader: [00:17:51] If we go back a little bit, I’m sure there’s been a lot of things we’ve all learned over the years doing this, but if you were to give a piece of advice to anybody aspiring to be a firearms instructor, what advice would you give them?
Paul Ballard: [00:18:04] You’ve got to like people first. That’s the big thing. And, and one of the things, you know, in law enforcement, if you want to become a firearms instructor, then it, it’s one thing. You develop competency, meet the standards required by the agency. Move forward from that.
[00:18:19] If you want to get into the civilian world, you need to learn people and, and, and people that are, are not taking your training because you’re being compelled to, like, they would be in the military or in law enforcement. It’s a different thing. You have to offer them a product and I, and I say product that, that they feel they’re getting value for.
[00:18:40] You have to cater to the individual’s needs. You have to prove prepared to understand that you have to be extremely perceptive to be in this. When you look at a group of six or seven people in a group of shooters, and you realize that one’s got huge hands, one’s got small hands, something as simple as that, and you have to have a lot of arrows in your quiver to pull out those different arrows to address the different requirements that those people have.
[00:19:04] And that, that really measures you. Mentorship with another instructor. Big, big, big difference in, in how you will evolve as an instructor in your own rate and not just one. You see a lot of people that will take the opportunity to mentor and they want to become that, that mentor. And I say, n, never, become your own person.
[00:19:25] Take something that, that one person has to offer, find another mentor, take some of their best stuff, and then become your own instructor from it. And, and, and that’s an approach that I’ve tried to do, you know, through my career as an instructor and I take a little bit of everybody’s stuff, make it my own.
Travis Bader: [00:19:41] I agree with that. How about, how about you Nick?
Nick Bolton: [00:19:43] Well, to some degree I would echo what Paul is saying that too often people, well, they become one trick ponies. They learn one way of doing things, they do quite well at it. Maybe even extremely well at it, and they never expand beyond that. And if you’re teaching, particularly when you’re teaching civilians, then as a whole wealth of information that is different that you’ve got to look at.
[00:20:14] Each one will come with a different gun. Whereas if you’re on a police range, everybody has the same gun. So you got to know how the different ones operate. Vast differences in ages, sizes, and physical condition are very important because just because you can do it doesn’t mean they can, and just because they can’t do it doesn’t mean you’ve got to give up.
Travis Bader: [00:20:37] Right.
Nick Bolton: [00:20:37] You’re being paid. You’ve got to get there and you’ve got to find something that works for them. Jen Savilla, an old friend of mine, that was one of his big things. And he taught everything from a guy who one leg to, how old was she feared about an 82 year old lady that needed a pistol. And you’ve got to seek out what pistol should she have?
[00:20:58] How the hell is she going to carry it? How is she going to use it? She’s 82 years old, for goodness sake.
Travis Bader: [00:21:04] Right?
Paul Ballard: [00:21:05] And that is, you know, you really bring up an important point, like, typically. Instructors in Canada do come from law enforcement it’s, it’s, it’s a fact. And so there you are, when you teachin to, you know, people that are, are in uniform, they’re typically all of the, of a same physical condition, they’re able to take a day and do it all.
[00:21:26] But I find with these civilian classes, you start looking at them and they don’t have the wherewithal to be around the report, the recoil. You know, the, the continual covering of their ears. I mean, even wearin ear protection all day long, which I just completely take for granted, can no longer be taken for granted.
[00:21:46] You have to watch the people that you’re training, they’re in a completely unfamiliar environment. Particularly the ones that are starting out.
Travis Bader: [00:21:54] A lot of handholding.
Nick Bolton: [00:21:55] A lot of handholding, a lot of, you know, and you have to be prepared. You well.
Travis Bader: [00:21:59] And egos, a lot of placating the egos, and.
Paul Ballard: [00:22:02] Of course you have to feed your own ego, most importantly, right? If you’re not egotistical, you can’t be a, you know, much of an instructor I don’t think. But you have to know, you know, what’s the right amount of your ego to give off, but really, handholding. Without making it look like handholding.
Travis Bader: [00:22:21] Right.
Paul Ballard: [00:22:21] You don’t want to be condescending in any way, because you know, people are not paying you, to be Don Rickles. Right? You don’t need to insult them or hurt their feelings or anything else.
Nick Bolton: [00:22:32] You all have that follow enforcement.
Paul Ballard: [00:22:33] Yeah, that’s right. You get that audio. And then, and then of course, that’s where sometimes law enforcement or the military carries that over.
Travis Bader: [00:22:40] Right.
Paul Ballard: [00:22:42] I don’t care what people say to me anymore, but, I’m not gonna do that to a paying customer.
Travis Bader: [00:22:47] No. Or you’re not going to have too many more paying customers if you do that.
Nick Bolton: [00:22:50] And let’s forget paying for the moment. The guy at the range who is competent, who is looking at your new members and teachin, he’s probably not getting paid. So my goodness, he’s got to have a love, both for teaching and the sport. He’s, he’s the guy to go to in in many respects to get your first lessons.
Paul Ballard: [00:23:13] Yes.
Travis Bader: [00:23:13] That’s a good point.
Paul Ballard: [00:23:14] And that’s true. I mean, many, many clubs that are out there are offering new members courses of some form, many of the different shooting disciplines. And that will be, you know, someone that may not necessarily have the formal training, but they like people, they’re competent, you know, in, in their skillset for whatever discipline that they’re doing.
[00:23:33] The generalities of it though, or the, well let’s, you know, let’s not say generalities. The, the vast experience that some people have really makes them a cut above as far as the instructional world goes. It was funny when you were talking about earlier, and you were saying one trick ponies, and that is sort of the dogmas. I hate things having to be dogmatic. You know, if you say, this is the only way you can do it, the only way
Travis Bader: [00:23:59] Oh I agree.
Paul Ballard: [00:24:00] Theres a couple of things that, but by far and away, you have to be adaptable.
Travis Bader: [00:24:04] Oh.
Paul Ballard: [00:24:05] You know when that person does come in and they’ve only got three fingers on one hand, how are you going to tell them this is the only way you can do it. Well they can physically do that and you get to say, well, because you showed up with three fingers, we’re not going to let you do it. You can’t do that.
Travis Bader: [00:24:17] And that’s a common thing I’ve seen in a new instructors. They’ll find something, it works really well for them, or they’ve been told by somebody else, this is the way they do it, and then they will espouse that as gospel. This is, this is the only way to do it. We actually.
Nick Bolton: [00:24:31] Thats the bad side of ego, they must be best. They must stand out in front of the crowd and appear to be gods that walk upon the earth.
Paul Ballard: [00:24:41] Yeah.
Nick Bolton: [00:24:41] And if you change the scenario slightly, they aren’t therefore they won’t change that scenario.
Travis Bader: [00:24:47] Right.
Paul Ballard: [00:24:47] And, and as an instructor, I’ve watched so many instructors that tell everybody what to do but never do it themselves. And you know, a good friend of ours, an old timer who always said, well, you’re not going to demonstrate in front of everybody. And so I said of course I am.
Travis Bader: [00:25:02] Oh, definitely.
Paul Ballard: [00:25:02] You know, they have to be able to model, you know, you can’t use. Solely words and pictures and you know, and, and dry fire to try and communicate what you want somebody to do. They need to see you do that. Now, do you have to be, you know, a 110% in the skill level? No, but you certainly need to do it competently. And as an instructor, the trick is always do it a little slower.
[00:25:27] A little slower. It’s not a competition and you need to do it slow enough so that they can see all the nuances of what you’ve just demonstrated.
Travis Bader: [00:25:35] Very important.
Nick Bolton: [00:25:36] It is. And going back to the self defence world, as one of the instructors that I’m, I spent a lot of time with, and he talks about modelling all the time, and one of his things is he does a lot of interviewing of people who have survived gunfights. Probably because you cant interview those that don’t, but.
Paul Ballard: [00:25:57] Oh, I shouldn’t laugh when you’re saying that. Yeah, that’s true.
Nick Bolton: [00:26:00] He says that the number of people he has spoken to who everything was going wrong for them, and then they got this mental picture of an instructor or the instructor, or, and they see, and it just comes to them, they go ahead and they’re there to be interviewed.
Travis Bader: [00:26:19] And that, that’s something that, I know Paul, you’ve mentored me. Nick, you’ve mentored me. Nick, you would drill that in right from the beginning. You’d say you have to be able to demonstrate, you have to show them and whether your on your 100% A-game.
[00:26:35] Or maybe ya pull a shot. I, that’s important for the student to see that we’re all human, what they can aspire to, but I guess there’s another side to that coin. There is another fellow, really nice fellow, he was a a instructor with GV taps. I don’t, I’m not sure if they still actually call GV taps.
Nick Bolton: [00:26:52] No, they’re not. But never-mind. We all know what you mean.
Travis Bader: [00:26:54] Sure, sure.
Paul Ballard: [00:26:55] Transit authority.
Travis Bader: [00:26:56] Transit authority, the transit police, and the. He was quite a proficient, competitive shooter and I explained to me, he says, you know what, I do? I get all the, the officers come in and it didn’t help that the officers were fair bit older than he was. And I’ll show them at how well I can shoot a course of fire.
[00:27:12] They can all stand there and they watch me shoot 100% course of fire, and they could see how easy this is. I think that’s the other extreme of demoing. And, at the time, I don’t think he quite saw what that was creating for the course or from the students’ perception, a certain level of demoing so that the student knows that you’re proficient.
Paul Ballard: [00:27:30] Yeah. It’s balanced. Right.
Travis Bader: [00:27:31] Right.
Paul Ballard: [00:27:32] Yeah, I agree. And you know, there could be nothing worse than watching somebody go through a 50 round course of fire by himself in front of the group. It’s, it’s taking everything in those, as we know from any kind of instruction in small chunks, feed them a small chunk, but you demonstrate that small chunk.
Travis Bader: [00:27:51] EDIP
Paul Ballard: [00:27:52] Yeah.
Travis Bader: [00:27:52] Explain, demonstrate, imitate, practice.
Paul Ballard: [00:27:54] Correct. And then just keep moving along from that. It was interesting. I’ve just an cause it’s now sticking in my head. When people come forward and they say, well, this is the only way to do things, you gotta do it this way. I always said in and around this, you know, defensive pistol craft and, and I always like to call it defensive pistol craft .
[00:28:13] Can you do it in the dark? Can you do it in the run? Can you do it with both hands? Can you do it, you know, under extreme stress. And every time somebody shows me something. I always apply that. I says, do it with one hand.
Travis Bader: [00:28:24] Sure.
Paul Ballard: [00:28:25] You know. Do it with your other hand. Do with your non-dominant hand. You know? And, and that’s really, a good test of validity for, for a lot of that, you know, high speed, low drag stuff that you see, you know, is the, the fundamental or the foundation of this guy’s technique.
[00:28:40] You know, come and see the John Adams method. You know, we’re going to learn the John Adams method and you go, Hmm, well, he’s got a couple of good points here,
Travis Bader: [00:28:48] but if I do everything the way he does, it’s not going to work for me. Well, that whole one way doctrine just does not speak to my sensibilities.
Paul Ballard: [00:28:55] I agree.
Nick Bolton: [00:28:56] The doctrine, the technique is your starting point. So if for example, there’s a, a technique, the Ayoob technique of shooting with a, with a flashlight.
Travis Bader: [00:29:08] Right.
Nick Bolton: [00:29:09] And that is your starting point. You may have to modify it. You may have to change it radically for a shooter that is different.
Travis Bader: [00:29:18] Right.
Nick Bolton: [00:29:19] And you cannot just stick with that one technique, that one rigid doctrine. Now the other thing of course that happens is somebody goes to a course and sees a doctrine and he comes back to teach it, and he’s got no frigging idea how it was done. And if you compare the two, there is no comparison.
Travis Bader: [00:29:39] Right, right.
Nick Bolton: [00:29:39] So he’s teaching entirely the wrong thing. And then, my favourite is you get the doctrine of recency. The last course you went on, that guy is a God, we are all going to change. Well, maybe not. You’ve got to, you know, it was great, you had a great course, he was very personable. It doesn’t mean it’s the best. It doesn’t mean everything has to change now because you’ve seen.
Paul Ballard: [00:30:03] Thats it, the doctrine of recency. That’s so true. What I have found is everything, you know, comes around. All of a sudden you listen to somebody and they’re saying, Oh yeah, we’re doing it this way. And go, Oh, hello, that’s been around for an awful long time.
[00:30:19] And you look into the, even some of the old established, like I’m talking true gunfighters, not the, you know, but the, the, the Wyatt Earp’s of the world and Wyatt Earp you know, said a lot of things and made a lot of sense. I watch all this talk about being how fast you can possibly be, but the bottom line is, as soon as you start ignoring your sites, you don’t make hits.
Travis Bader: [00:30:41] And what was Wyatt Earp’s quote there?
Paul Ballard: [00:30:43] Take your time quickly.
Travis Bader: [00:30:44] Speed is.
Nick Bolton: [00:30:46] Speed’s fine. Accuracy is final.
Travis Bader: [00:30:47] Speed’s fine. Accuracy is final.
Paul Ballard: [00:30:49] Take your time quickly. That was my other one but.
Nick Bolton: [00:30:51] There was a famous FBI gunfighterJelly Bryce. Who the stuff he did was magnificent and was witnessed.
Paul Ballard: [00:30:58] Yeah.
Nick Bolton: [00:30:58] And it was great, but he couldn’t teach anybody to do it.
Paul Ballard: [00:31:03] He could just do it.
Nick Bolton: [00:31:04] He could do it because he had certain physical attributes and he was marvellous. But if he took you and me, we probably could not do it.
Paul Ballard: [00:31:12] Jeff Cooper was a fantastic person for looking at others, doing something, identifying, breaking down what he saw that person doing, and then writing it down or encouraging others to teach. Now his, you know, his, his persona was almost too much for most people to learn from him directly, but his writing and the way he could mentor other people who were quality instructors.
[00:31:39] And again, all back to what Jeff Cooper could watch somebody do, the old Mozambique, you know those those things. You know the.
Nick Bolton: [00:31:48] El Presidente.
Paul Ballard: [00:31:49] El Presidente, that was Jeff Cooper. And when you say everything’s new, this the stuff from the early sixties right? They, you know, the Southwest pistol league and, and what they were doing, that was the true inception of modern pistol craft that went on there and those and, and so much to do with Cooper’s ability to articulate what was going on based on the skill sets of those people he surrounded them himself with.
Travis Bader: [00:32:14] And you know that that whole circular, what’s old is new again. I’ve seen that a lot reading the old books and just see the period of time that I’ve been involved in this and. I can, I can edit the gaps out, that’s.
Paul Ballard: [00:32:26] I almost broke your headset. All’s I was thinking was the camera.
Travis Bader: [00:32:32] Oh, not the camera again. So you know what, why don’t you tell them what happened to the camera?
Paul Ballard: [00:32:38] No I couldn’t tell you bout, I that, I have nightmares about that. I have stress dreams. I’m not afraid of anything except you so.
Travis Bader: [00:32:44] We’ll talk about that camera on another podcast.
Nick Bolton: [00:32:47] But theres a very good point. When you bring up stress dreams. Stress. People who can shoot and who have reached a level of competency do not understand the level of [00:33:00] stress that a new shooter goes through. At Marty Hayes, who I considered one of the best.
Paul Ballard: [00:33:06] Baird instructors.
Nick Bolton: [00:33:07] Firearms Academy of Seattle, I learned so much from that guy. He had all sorts of little techniques that he passed onto me for reducing stress. If you looked at the, a standard police line, you’d have some poor sapp who was having problems with an instructor hovering an inch from their ear. Helping them.
[00:33:29] I don’t think you do because you’ve taken something that that person finds stressful and you just doubled, tripled, quadrupled the stress level by standing right there. The instructors, they’re the person who can make him fail and you’ve got to remove that stress. If you can remove the stress that you bring to the range, you’ve gone a long way to helping that student achieve a level of competency.
Paul Ballard: [00:33:57] That’s right. And, and you are as an instructor, the biggest stressor that somebody has.
Travis Bader: [00:34:03] Especially if they’re jobs riding on this, if there’s a qualification at the end that they’re a.
Nick Bolton: [00:34:09] Never-mind lookin like a total pratt in front of all your mates.
Travis Bader: [00:34:12] Right, yeah.
Paul Ballard: [00:34:13] Yeah. And it, you know, we keep going back to the law enforcement thing. I mean, we were talking about instruction in Canada and, and you know, how it approaches the civilian, but it, the lessons I learned from watching law enforcement instructors and how they could alienate people gave me a, a lot, lot to work with and really helped me with, you know, helping other people.
[00:34:35] Really, I just thought, Oh man, if somebody was treating me like that, I, you know, that’s no help. That’s, that’s nothing there and then one of the first things I notice when I take training, and you, very important, if you’re going to be a trainer, you better be a good student. So that every opportunity for you to have to take somebody else’s course, you need to do it.
[00:34:58] And even if you go in and go, man, I knew everything that was on there. That’s not true, because there’s going to be something you’re going to learn. But when I go to take training from somebody and all’s I hear is rules, rules, rules, rules, rules, rules, and that you must stand here. You must do this, must do that.
[00:35:14] And that is one of the surefire tests that the person who’s going to teach me doesn’t know anything, you know, cause they’re going to stick with, you know, this dogma, we have to do it this way. You know that they, they don’t have that, I don’t know, depth and breadth to get out there. We saw that a lot in law enforcement.
Nick Bolton: [00:35:34] You did. I used to say law enforcement training was very incestuous. Because A teaches B who teaches C who teaches D, nobody theres no.
Paul Ballard: [00:35:44] And D never went back to see what was going on 10 years before A right.
Nick Bolton: [00:35:49] Or even if A knew what the hell he was talking about.
Paul Ballard: [00:35:51] Right. Yeah. And it just cause A was in that appointed position. And going back to what we kind of opened with here was to formalize the firearms training and make sure that the people that were coming in there were qualified to do it.
[00:36:03] And, and one of the things you know that we really tried to do in the 90s there once a, I was with the police Academy and kind of my own entity was to start bringing in, instructors to give us different ways of doing it.
[00:36:17] Now, of course, the doctrine of recency is also equal to the doctor doctrine of distance. The further somebody comes from, the more they must know. And we have suffered a lot here with people saying, Oh, we got to bring in, you know, this guy’s coming in from Knoxville, Tennessee, and he’s going to teach us this.
[00:36:35] Well, why does he have to come from Knoxville? You’ve got a host of individuals here that you don’t have to pay travel expenses to. He had just got to pay them their rate and they’ll come teach you the same thing. Oh no. Didn’t come from Knoxville, didn’t have a clipboard, didn’t travel more than 300 miles.
Nick Bolton: [00:36:50] Definition of an expert, an asshole from out of town with a briefcase.
Paul Ballard: [00:36:53] Oooo, you said asshole.
Travis Bader: [00:36:56] I think that’s okay. I think we can keep that in. How about you? You got him, so I know you’ve probably heard this one before cause I’ve heard it. Those who can do those who can’t teach.
Nick Bolton: [00:37:08] There’s some truth to that. If you take it in its widest possible context, but we’re not talking. Oh, at least Paul and I out here about people who teach. We’re talking about people who are competent instructors, and there’s a difference. All you gotta do to be able to teach is be appointed by somebody important, particularly in the law enforcement world, or the club president if you are in the civilian world.
Travis Bader: [00:37:35] Sure.
Paul Ballard: [00:37:36] Yeah, but that’s true Nick, like in law enforcement, lots of people were teaching only because, yeah. Now I won’t have to work night shift anymore and there’s a good job and straight days and I get car allowance and I get a, you know, the other perks that go along with it. I get some overtime and, and that, those are the ones that, you know, can’t do teach.
[00:37:58] I gotta be honest with you, I think there’s a degree of you’re maybe not as good as you once were, that, that, you know, has been better than it never was. You may not be the best, but you’re the, you’re better at conveying to somebody how to do the, the technique.
Travis Bader: [00:38:15] Sure.
Paul Ballard: [00:38:15] And I still find that a, it doesn’t matter what goes on, I can always go to somebody else to watch what I’m doing to make me better at it. You know? That’s always important, but there’s certain people that are teaching that have no ability to make you better at what you’re doing.
Nick Bolton: [00:38:33] Teach and be a good competent instructor involves more than just guns. You have got to be able to communicate as well.
Travis Bader: [00:38:43] That’s huge, that’s the biggest piece.
Nick Bolton: [00:38:45] But if you can’t shoot. But, that’s what we’re talking about here. Then how the hell can you teach somebody when you couldn’t even teach yourself
Paul Ballard: [00:38:54] Right.
Nick Bolton: [00:38:55] Now, as Paul said, you don’t have to be the best. But you’ve got to be above competent.
Paul Ballard: [00:39:01] I always say 90% on your absolute.
Nick Bolton: [00:39:04] Now Paul was the best, but taking that aside.
Paul Ballard: [00:39:07] Absolutely your worst day, you have to be able to shoot 90% that’s the way I look at it. You know, if you’re telling somebody they’ve got to do this, you know, not 100% I’ve watched lots of instructors say, well, you know, in order to become an instructor in my program, you must shoot 100% you must, no, you can’t because you might have a, you know, a headache. You might be distracted, you know.
Nick Bolton: [00:39:28] Anybody could miss once.
Paul Ballard: [00:39:29] Yeah. Anybody could miss once.
Travis Bader: [00:39:31] Sure, sure.
Paul Ballard: [00:39:31] That’s right. And this 100% stuff doesn’t exist. Great in the field of competitive endeavour. Yes. 100% is what you want to always strive for, but a regular, consistent 90%. I remember at the police Academy, you know, having the provincial responsibility.
[00:39:48] They were saying, okay, there was 240 odd certified firearms instructors out there in the province of BC and everything from the conservation officers service to the sheriffs, to law enforcement to armoured car, you name it, all the, you know, the uniform people that were out there.
[00:40:05] And, so all these people, based on an open ended certificate that they had, could continue to teach firearms to whatever agency, you know, firearms training to whatever agency they were associated with. And I said, this is not right. We need to, you know, you have to set sort of an, an end date on any certification.
Travis Bader: [00:40:25] Sure.
Paul Ballard: [00:40:26] So that there is recertification to come in. So when it was announced that these people had to come in and start getting re-certified, all of a sudden the numbers dropped down to less than a hundred.
Travis Bader: [00:40:36] Right.
Paul Ballard: [00:40:37] And then once the recertification was established at 90% of whatever their provincial agency standard was, and that they could practice and they had to pass a test and everything to come in.
[00:40:46] The numbers dropped even more and more and more, and it was surprising the number of these instructors that couldn’t shoot, we’re not talking 90% but the 75% pass that the students had to, they could, couldn’t do that. So again, that was a real classic example. We tightened things up by doing that.
Nick Bolton: [00:41:05] And that’s the thing that’s missing in the civilian market. Nobody has to show they can teach. Nobody has to show everybody that they can shoot.
Travis Bader: [00:41:15] Yeah. You just to
Nick Bolton: [00:41:15] All’s you have to do is show up.
Travis Bader: [00:41:17] That’s right. Hang a shingle up. Hey, I’m an instructor. Yeah. What qualifications do you have?
Paul Ballard: [00:41:21] Yeah.
Nick Bolton: [00:41:21] There should be something.
Paul Ballard: [00:41:23] You know, you can see like a, the IPSC a IPSC with their, you know, their Black Badge training and you have to get, you have to become certified to become a Black Badge instructor. It’s, you know, it’s there. There’s all kinds of workshops and and other opportunities to train and make yourself better. And, and I would say to anybody, if you’re going to go, you want to see that guys, you know, see his resume, see where he’s been, what has he done? Or she’s been, sorry, I shouldn’t say he.
Nick Bolton: [00:41:50] They.
Paul Ballard: [00:41:51] Where, where have they been? What have they done?
Travis Bader: [00:41:53] Well traditionally firearms have been a male dominated sport.
Paul Ballard: [00:41:56] True. And
Travis Bader: [00:41:56] That’s changing though.
Paul Ballard: [00:41:57] We need to stay and we need to recognize that. And, and you know what.
Nick Bolton: [00:42:01] Maybe it shouldn’t be because I tell you, if I’ve got a choice between teaching a bunch of guys and a bunch of women. The women are always the easier, the more receptive.
Paul Ballard: [00:42:14] Yup.
Nick Bolton: [00:42:14] Guys, they’ve got a penis, they think they can shoot. I mean, it’s as simple as that.
Paul Ballard: [00:42:17] Well, I mean, God bless Vicki Farnam and Gila Mae Hayes, both of them and we’ve trained with them, have, have kind of defined what it takes to train women. Women are much more contextual in the way they take training from an instructor.
[00:42:32] So often you find, particularly in, you know, firearms training or whatever a man thinks, you know, back from the time we crawled all the primordial ooze and got opposing thumb and fingers, we’re naturally adept at utilizing weapons, right?
[00:42:49] Firearms. Whereas a woman doesn’t want to necessarily know how to use it. They want to know why we’re using it as well. So if you can incorporate the how with the end result, they’re much more receptive to the instruction. And on top of that, when you finish with a, a group of firearm safety course candidates, Canadian firearm safety course.
[00:43:12] People that have, you know, basically no background in it other than you’re teaching them the basics. You say, Hey, you want to get into this stuff? Here’s an opportunity to train with this individual district. It’s the women that are much more likely to go and do it.
Nick Bolton: [00:43:24] Very true.
Travis Bader: [00:43:25] Yeah I have noticed that. The other thing I’ve noticed, I, if you take a brand new shooter, male. Brand new shooter, female by and large from a strictly accuracy point of view, women will out shoot the guys and I think that might have something to do with the fine motor muscles skills that are developed at much an earlier age.
[00:43:46] Like I look at, like my children for example, in their classmates. When the girls start drawing, they got the nice, cursive writing, loopy letters and the guys, it looks like they stuck a crayon in their mouth and wrote their name out. Those fine, fine motor muscle skills from holding the firearm, trigger press, lining up the sites.
Paul Ballard: [00:44:07] And if you explain to them why you need to do that, why you need to, you know, achieve a compress surprise break on the trigger. If you explain that, if you just don’t say, you know, do it. If you say why they understand and they will, and they will work towards achieving that.
Travis Bader: [00:44:24] Let’s talk about on the range over the last number of years that you guys have been teaching, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be your scenario if you want to remember somebody else’s scenario when maybe something very funny or a good learning experience, let’s say.
Paul Ballard: [00:44:41] I’ll never forget the, again, back to law enforcement. Cause that was where you really saw some, some doozers and this individual from an Island department was, basically in the last throes of a police career and they still hadn’t even finished the basic training. All aspects didn’t matter. Driving legal, firearms in particular. So, the insistence instructor was watching the rest of the line.
[00:45:08] I was standing behind this individual and it was the close quarter, one handed technique out of the holster, rock back fire at the target. The individual clears the holster about, Oh, a good second or two behind the rest of the group, fires the shot, which hits the steel pipe that holds the target frame up only about a foot off the ground.
[00:45:31] And as you hear the clang of the bullet hitting the steel pipe in my peripheral vision, about eight people down the line, I see one of the students go down, shot.
Nick Bolton: [00:45:42] I just told this story the other
Paul Ballard: [00:45:47] Oh did ya? I realize I grabbed this one clearer pistol. She puts the gun away. I go down to the other one, and sure enough, that round came right off of that steel target and, and hit the other one in the abdomen. Took the, took them off their feet.
Nick Bolton: [00:46:02] Abdomen?
Paul Ballard: [00:46:03] Abdomen. Yeah.
Travis Bader: [00:46:06] So what was learning, what would you do differently?
Paul Ballard: [00:46:08] What would I have done differently? Actually, you know, a big part of what we do now is we don’t use those kinds of targets that close. We should never be shooting it’s steel that close that, I use it.
[00:46:19] Another person’s example. I mean, in the civilian steel target world, we know we have, an absolute, you talk about doctrine no closer than 10 meters when you’re shooting at steel targets. I think on a seven in the states or so.
[00:46:32] Yeah seven. Yeah. But, you know, with the, the risk, of ricochet, and you remember the Vancouver Police was using steel knockdown targets hey, pepper poppers, and they were shooting, at pepper poppers that were overused. They were curved and, in a.
Travis Bader: [00:46:51] I think I have a couple upstairs.
Paul Ballard: [00:46:53] Yeah. But what we do is, you know, we know from competitive shooting, you shoot it so many times. One side, pull the pin out, turn it around, and that continual peening of the bullets against the, the target will, will change its shape back and it’ll stay flat. They were firing a curve targets, firing too close, and it ended up with one of the individuals getting, you know, a ricochet and it penetrated their neck.
Travis Bader: [00:47:14] Mhmm.
Paul Ballard: [00:47:15] So, you know, it’s those kinds of things where, what could possibly go wrong? Well, there’s lots of other.
Nick Bolton: [00:47:22] Broaden your damn experience, if they’d been in involved in other things that would not have happened, they would have recognized the danger but they didn’t because incestuous training.
Paul Ballard: [00:47:35] Right. And let’s go back to that. One of the thing, too, competitive shooting. I wouldn’t go to an instructor that wasn’t competitive. That is actually, let me, you know what? I didn’t make this point earlier, which kind of went into my brain swirled around and got out again. But if that person isn’t prepared to compete against others, because that is the best artificial stressor that you can bring on, you know, to, to get into the field of competition, you know. Would you go to a dojo to learn, you know, some kind of martial art from somebody that wasn’t wearing a black belt?
Nick Bolton: [00:48:13] Probably not.
Paul Ballard: [00:48:14] Or, or, or at least, you know.
Travis Bader: [00:48:16] There’s somebody who’s got some competency and show that they can.
Paul Ballard: [00:48:18] That’s right, so now they may be as competent as all get out, but they cannot earn those belts unless they compete. They must actually demonstrate what they can do, and that’s what competition is.
[00:48:32] So even though the person standing there with a white belt in front of you and is extremely competent, maybe they didn’t prove it. They haven’t proved it. So if you don’t have some kind of standing. And that is one of the things we see in law enforcement now that it, it becomes a participation ribbon. People aren’t.
Travis Bader: [00:48:52] Right.
Paul Ballard: [00:48:53] Aren’t regarded for their skills, you know, it’s just like, if somebody doesn’t, you know. You can’t actually say, well, he’s had 90% shooter or a 100% shooter, got 100% on the course, but nobody wants to bring that up anymore, which is weird, you know?
Travis Bader: [00:49:10] Well, what about you, Nick any, interesting moments over the years on the range that?
Nick Bolton: [00:49:14] Well a couple of things, occurring to me, but I mean, the first thing is Paul talking about this, competing, the stress Ayoob, one of the finest instructors in the States.
Paul Ballard: [00:49:27] Totally.
Nick Bolton: [00:49:28] Calls it stress inoculation. He says, anybody who carries a gun seriously should compete because the stress of competing helps when you get into the stress of the real thing. Plus the confidence you’re given means you’re less likely to shoot in a panic because ya know you have the situation under control. Oh, you don’t want, and then you shoot quickly.
[00:49:51] But to get back to what you originally asked was, the most satisfying thing in instructing is when you’ve got a guy whose target looks like a paper doily and you work with him and suddenly they get it and suddenly the groups start to shrink, the speed increases and they look competent. That is a tremendously satisfying experience.
[00:50:24] Now from interesting things, I remember working a line and I was walking the line and checking, everybody’s okay, going good, you know what you’re doing. Yeah. And I come up to this guy and I said, everything going well? He said, yes, it is. I turned round, walk three steps and he’s gun exploded. A big hunk of gun suddenly shop past my ear.
Travis Bader: [00:50:45] Yeah.
Nick Bolton: [00:50:46] Hello. Maybe not as well as he thought.
Travis Bader: [00:50:50] What happened there?
Nick Bolton: [00:50:51] Yeah, we stopped the line.
Travis Bader: [00:50:53] Did we find out why it exploded?
Nick Bolton: [00:50:54] Oh yeah. I’m sorry, I just did a demonstration of what I think went wrong, which is he couldn’t reload for toughie.
Travis Bader: [00:51:02] Right. Loading his own ammo.
Nick Bolton: [00:51:03] Yeah.
Travis Bader: [00:51:03] Whoops.
Nick Bolton: [00:51:04] Yeah. Probably a double or triple charge or something.
Travis Bader: [00:51:07] Right.
Nick Bolton: [00:51:08] When you’re talking about different perceptions, I was teaching Eastern Europe and we were doing a, a dynamic type of teaching to people who would progressed. And we had these guys and who were in the local law enforcement unit and what they were supposed to do was move into a crime scene, investigate, at which point they would find a reason to arrest the guy, the guy they arrested.
[00:51:40] Would then depending on their actions, do something like pull a gun to see what they would do. So fine. They arrest the guy. Now, this guy that, was acting as the, the criminal was a very highly trained guy from Portugal in their special units and he does this thing where he, the gun gets drawn as he’s running forward and he goes into a forward roll and comes up as it were shooting and these guys on the local police department were just kind of standing there watching them.
[00:52:10] As we used to say in the army, thumb up the bum, mind in neutral. So, so is guys, guys, what’s going on here? You’re supposed to be taking action and he looks at me, he says, we told him not to move, when we tell people not to move. They don’t move.
Travis Bader: [00:52:33] Well, I’m looking at the time here. I know there’s a lot more that I want to talk about, but maybe it will make for another podcast. We’ll see what the, the audience comes back with and if there’s any questions that they might have that, they’d want to pose to any one of us here. We’ve talked a fair bit about firearms instructing.
[00:52:51] Predominantly in Canada. I’ll end it with pistol, rifle, shotgun. What’s your favourite platform to train somebody on Paul?
Paul Ballard: [00:53:02] Oh, I mean, pistol for sure and of course revolver. Let’s not just leave it at a slide guns here. Both Nick and I are, are lovers of the wheel gun, like true lovers of the wheel gun and find that continual fascination.
[00:53:20] But yeah. I gotta be honest, if you were asking the learn how to shoot trap or skeet, I’m not your man. I can do it.
Travis Bader: [00:53:28] Sure.
Paul Ballard: [00:53:29] But I’m certainly not a, that’s not my field of expertise.
Travis Bader: [00:53:32] Yeah, you held your own at the last event we did there.
Paul Ballard: [00:53:34] But let’s go back to when you say all three, and I don’t want to be a horn in on Nick here. But work at one, you’ll get better at the other. Almost naturally. There’s, there’s some carry over between them all. But I think pistol is my favourite to teach.
Nick Bolton: [00:53:49] I can’t disagree with you. Handgun is by far my preference, both using as well as for teaching. I do get a certain amount of enjoyment and satisfaction out of teaching with the social shotgun.
Paul Ballard: [00:54:05] Social shotgun.
Travis Bader: [00:54:06] Right, yes.
Paul Ballard: [00:54:07] I mean, I combat shotgun, I’ve got no problems, you know, I, I feel totally competent with that.
Travis Bader: [00:54:11] Well that’s your background. That’s your experience. That’s what.
Paul Ballard: [00:54:15] And for my own personal, just satisfaction, when I sit at my loading press and I put together my own formulation of ammunition for my rifle, and I go out and I put three holes touching, and then everything works.
[00:54:31] That is just, you know, the precision instrument or rifles for just pure joy, pure joy of shooting. I like that. But for teaching, handguns for sure.
Nick Bolton: [00:54:40] Yeah, definitely.
Travis Bader: [00:54:41] Okay, well, we’ll wrap it up here. Thank you very much for making a trek out, being guests on this podcast here. I definitely hope we’ll have a number of more of these in.
Paul Ballard: [00:54:51] From the hills!
Travis Bader: [00:54:52] In the not too distant.
Paul Ballard: [00:54:53] Two hillbillies from Chilliwack.
Travis Bader: [00:54:56] Way out. Okay. Well, thank you very much. We’ll wrap it up. You know, it just struck me. I’ve got no idea how to wrap up the podcast, so I think maybe we’ll just stop it.
Paul Ballard: [00:55:07] Right here.
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