by Frank Winn, Guns & Gear Editor - Wednesday, July 26, 2017
For those on the fence about whether or not to head to Milwaukee for the NRA Carry Guard Expo later this month, a look at the program’s training component should have you making travel arrangements.
This feature appears in the August ’17 issue of NRA America’s 1st Freedom, one of the official journals of the National Rifle Association.
With the NRA Carry Guard Expo set to kick off in Milwaukee Aug. 25-27, the new nature of the event has some wondering what it’s all about. In a nutshell, the expo brings together the biggest names in self-defense, along with manufacturers of related products, under one roof, and is on track to be the largest such gathering ever.
If you care about protecting yourself and your family in a dangerous world, you should be there, too.
While the self-defense insurance component is an important aspect of NRA Carry Guard, to fully understand the scope of the expo, one must have an idea of what the training component truly entails. For a deeper look into that matter, we recently talked to National Director George Severence and Training Director Eric Frohardt.
“We want to provide citizens with the skills necessary to responsibly carry a concealed weapon for self-defense, defense of family and defense of innocent third parties in a new and arguably more dangerous environment,” said Severence, a retired U.S. Navy SEAL and Special Ops team leader. “NRA Carry Guard acknowledges that the conflict space continues to evolve. Our training needs to evolve, too. Situational awareness, avoidance and de-escalation are skills that will be emphasized in our courses. When there is no other option than a firearm to stop a threat, we want our students to know their levels of competency and proficiency as well as their limitations.”
Frohardt is another former Navy SEAL who, during some comparative down time while injured (do SEALs ever see any real down time?), was able to hone his ability to shoot and to instruct.
“When there is no other option than a firearm to stop a threat, we want our students to know their levels of competency and proficiency as well as their limitations.” – NRA Carry Guard National Director George Severence“I got certified as a Navy Instructor, as well as getting a formal credential as a Master Training Specialist,” Frohardt told America’s 1st Freedom. “That discipline—no surprise—has a lot to do with writing and building curriculum. It was helpful at the time, but I didn’t really expect it to apply much down the road. I’m happy to have been wrong about that! It is helping a lot in my NRA Carry Guard role.”
Prior to his NRA Carry Guard days, Frohardt and a business partner opened a range, BluCore Shooting Center, where Frohardt began working on developing training curriculum.
“I had a chance to take some of the hard-core, Navy SEAL curriculum and not ‘dumb it down’ exactly, but make it fit civilian needs,” he said. “We built that curriculum out, and I taught most of the classes for a while. Then I trained all the instructors in those ‘high speed’ techniques. I also made a particular point of continuously updating that curriculum—the lesson plans, the techniques—and then keeping our instructors on the cutting edge so that I no longer had to teach every class.”
Fast forward to the present, when Frohardt has stepped down from the day-to-day work at BluCore, but stepped into a similar role at NRA Carry Guard. Even with both men’s experience, developing a 21st-century curriculum is a tall order to fill—but not beyond the scope of accomplished individuals like Severence and Frohardt.
“We are very fortunate to have serious students of the gun involved in vetting our content,” Severence said. “We did not want to plan in a bubble. Our goal was to provide the gold standard in CCW training, and we therefore welcomed the evaluations and critiques of industry leaders with law enforcement and military backgrounds, as well as citizens with varying life experiences.”
Of course, as anyone who has studied self-defense at all knows, armed self-defense isn’t always about shooting or shooting instruction.
“Legal considerations are extremely important. Castle Doctrine and ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws have ramifications that may seem easy to understand on the surface but can get exceedingly complex under the stress of a lethal force engagement,” Severence said. “Shooting needs to be a last resort. Just because one can exercise lethal force does not necessarily mean one should. In the aftermath of an encounter, you will be held accountable to the law, which is not necessarily the same thing as justice. Legal is about procedure. Justice is about substance. This is where judgment comes into play.”
As is likely expected, the Level 1 course is far from just a basic firearms primer, although such a beginners’ course—like NRA Basic Pistol—would be handy to have before jumping into this curriculum. Of course, just the term “Level 1” indicates there are more courses in the future. Which is critical, since all learning is a lifelong endeavor.
“We think there’s a lot of reason to expect NRA Carry Guard instruction will become the best training of its type anywhere.” – NRA Carry Guard Training Director Eric Frohardt“If people choose to ‘off-ramp’ after Level 1, they will understand the limits of their skills as well as their obligations before the law,” Severence said. “Their evaluations will come from a precise scoring system, too; a student will know if they passed with a 97.5 percent, or if they squeaked by with a 75.”
Those who do well and want to continue the learning process, however, can move on from there if they wish.
“A ‘pass’ at Level 1 will prepare a student to move on to a future Level 2,” Severence said. “Here, the manipulations will get more demanding, as will the scenarios—longer shots, as well as what to do when opposing long guns and other asymmetrical factors. We’ll be trying to expand the range of decision-making tools people have, and also how to make that correct call in compressed timeframes. Again, the goal is to give students the tools to more effectively meet the demands of that evolving conflict space.
“Any other levels will follow suit. Students will continue to build all their skills while being tested on their time/distance courses of fire and suspect control, and through more complex scenario-based training.”
And as Severence is quick to point out, the curriculum will continue to be tweaked to meet the needs of those intent on learning to protect themselves and their families.
“This is training that will continue to evolve,” he said. “Just as adapting to the enemy on the battlefield was and continues to be an important component of successful military operations, we do not want to stagnate. We’ll continue to study and evolve our programs to incorporate case studies and best practices.”
In the end, both Severence and Frohardt believe there are few other training opportunities available like NRA Carry Guard.
“The last component for my NRA Carry Guard work comes from my job as CEO of a relatively large fitness organization called ‘Strong First,’” Frohardt said. “There’s been a surprisingly large amount of carryover between what I do with NRA Carry Guard and what I have been doing at Strong First. A lot of the things that NRA Carry Guard, and eventually NRA Training, are going to benefit from will have had their beginning in guiding the work of top-notch trainers in well-designed curricula.
“Add that to my SEAL time and the NRA Carry Guard team we’re building, and we think there’s a lot of reason to expect NRA Carry Guard instruction will become the best training of its type anywhere.”
NRA Carry Guard Expo Tickets Available Now
Admission tickets are available for the inaugural NRA Carry Guard Expo, kicking off Aug. 25-27 in Milwaukee. It will provide three days of education and interaction for concealed-carry holders and personal-defense-minded citizens. Tickets, offered at a reduced price for NRA members, enable access to the exhibit hall and free educational content spanning multiple topics relating to self-defense and concealed carry.
One of the events offered by the expo will be “Making Your Own Individual First-Aid Kit (IFAK),” taught by former Green Beret medic Travis “Doc T.” He will explain the many reasons why an IFAK is a vital piece of everyday carry gear, and what equipment you should include in your IFAK. Doc T has extensive experience treating trauma, wounds and injuries suffered in combat and on the streets, and has used that experience to help design products to aid first responders and armed citizens. This seminar is sure to be useful for anyone serious about personal protection.
The expo will also feature a seminar titled “Current and Emerging Threats: How it Affects You,” taught by personal-protection expert Steve Tarani. Tarani has worked with U.S. defense, law enforcement and intelligence communities for more than 25 years and formerly served as the protective programs educator for the Central Intelligence Agency. He continues to train as a federal contractor and also serves as an adviser to the International Association of Chiefs of Police, in addition to his continued work as an active protective services agent. Tarani has also covered a number of personal-defense topics and tactics for Shooting Illustrated, including his latest piece on the use of the OODA Loop for self-defense. These seminars and more are available for no extra charge.
Additional fee-based seminars, including a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu class taught by MMA legend and hall of famer Royce Gracie, and other educational training opportunities taught by some of the best minds in the personal-defense industry will also be offered. Be sure to check the NRA Carry Guard Expo website frequently for updates.
Admission for non-NRA members is $20. NRA members can purchase tickets at a discounted rate of $10. NRA Life members and NRA Carry Guard members receive free admission. Admission tickets guarantee entry for all three days of the show.
Check out the expo website at www.NRACarryGuardExpo.com for more in-depth information and to purchase tickets.
Nowhere else can you receive the best training, see the latest and greatest gear and have the opportunity to rub shoulders with thousands of like-minded citizens, all under one roof. We’ll see you there.
Frank Winn has been studying arms and their relationship to tyranny, meaningful liberty and personal security all his adult life. He has been a firearms safety/shooting instructor for more than 20 years, and earned state, regional and national titles in several competitive disciplines.
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