30 September 2008

Bulletproofing the Mind

On Saturday, I spent the day "Bullet Proofing" my mind . . . specifically, I attended a day-long seminar put on by Lt. Col. David Grossman, a psychologist, author and military instructor who teaches how to prepare to deal with high stress situations both in combat and in self defense.

Ellen Wickham, an occasional contributor to The Ready Line, and I rode over together for the Columbus seminar. We were among a packed house of more than 250 men and women. Grossman was joined by Bruce Siddle, an expert on combat human factors -- the biometrics and physiology of developing warriors for the military and law enforcement. The two talked extensively of CCW holders being the logical backup to first responders if and when another terrorist strike is exacted upon the United States. Their two training organizations have been merged into one, Warrior Science, and they continue to consult with federal law enforcement agencies and the U.S. military.

As many say, an armed homeowner is the first line of defense because the police cannot protect everyone. Grossman and Siddle state further that CCW holders will be the last line of defense in a civil emergency and that the law enforcement community will be glad license holders are there to help.

For most of eight hours (the Cherokee broke down on the way there and we walkd in an hour late) we were treated to discussions of defensive mindset, and real life examples of terrorist attacks upon civilian targets in other nations. Attacks that homeland security planners fear may be headed to our shores sooner than later. Much of what Mr. Grossman talked about I was already familiar with. Situational awareness and defensive mindset were two of the big topics, both of which I have taught in CCW classes and in Refuse To Be A Victim crime avoidance seminars. But they filled in the blanks on some areas that I generally understood, but did not have detail for.

Grossman gave detailed information about the siege against a Russian school several years ago, in which hundreds of young people were murdered by terrorists. His biggest warning was that every industrialized nation on Earth -- except one -- would call out their military to combat a terrorist incident at a school. The United States, however, would call out local law enforcement. He also talked about the many soft targets that exist in the U.S., and how the Al Quaida organization has vowed to hit the United States again, this time with multi-pronged attack. Much was said of simple things we can do to make American schools more secure, and to detect those who would attempt to probe for and identify our weak links and softest targets.

He also noted that some parents say their kids get anxious with all the lockdown drills going on. There is very good reason for the drills, which you will read and see below. Grossman has the following comment on that issue, ""Preparation doesn't create anxiety, denial creates anxiety." He added that Osama bin Laden sent forth a startling warning following the takeover of the school: "What I have visited on Beslan, Russia, I will visit on America one hundred fold."

I have taken the liberty of including a CNN report below on the brutal attacks on the Russian school children to help illustrate what Grossman described. (WARNING: GRAPHIC footage and commentary). This incident, he says, is what American Homeland Security officials are working desperately to prevent from happening at a U.S. school.

If a parent ever has thoughts about why U.S. schools now regularly conduct lockdown drills, they need to see this vid. If they still question lockdown drills, you can count them as part of the 98 percent of the population in this nation that walks around in perpetual denial.

Both Grossman and Siddle added that U.S. security experts content the next attack on U.S. soil is not an "if," but "when" and that American schools are a likely target. In Beslan, at least 330 people were killed, including 172 small children. (WARNING: GRAPHIC footage and commentary).

Grossman is the author of a number of books including, "Stop Teaching Our Kids To Kill," an examination of TV, movie and video game violence, and how it impacts juveniles; "On Combat," an examination of what it takes to perform, cope and survive in the toxicity of deadly combat as a soldier in a foreign land, and a police officer in the mean streets of urban America; and "On Killing," the an examination of the psychological cost of learning to kill in war and society. In fact, "On Killing" was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and is required reading for U.S. Marines and FBI trainees. Grossman lectures the military on combat psychology, has been a West Point instructor, and is a consultant to a number of federal law enforcement agencies.

Away from the school attack issue, Grossman also discussed that while deaths from violent crimes has remained static, the rate of violent assaults and attacks in nations around the globe is way up. All the more reason law abiding citizens should be armed for their protection, IMHO.

Siddle, author of "Sharpening the Warrior's Edge," talked extensively about predators, "sheep," " sheepdogs," etc. Predators I had always considered to be those who commit crime. Sheep those people who are in denial about crime and violence in our society, and yet do everything they can to keep the law-abiding populace from being armed for their own safety. They also complain about lockdown drills. And sheepdogs, that small minority of us in the U.S. who look out for others. Those who understand that firearms are a highly effective deterrent to crime and would not hesitate to help a person in distress. Siddle and Grossman both noted that there is a bit of predator even in sheepdogs. There has to be, they said, to have the instinct to think like a thug and prevent or stop violent attacks by using violence.

Both Siddle and Grossman noted that everyone who shoots competitively or uses a firearm for CCW purposes should train, train, train. As we say in the CCW classes I have helped teach -- perfect practice makes perfect.

Siddle also discussed at length his study of combat human factors, survival stress and how it impacts the performance of law enforcement officers, military personnel and combat aviators. His pivotal research into the influence of the Sympathetic Nervous System on perceptual processing, cognitive processing, motor performance and memory, is actually quite fascinating. I understand the factors to which he refers, but had not heard the scientific terms for what happens to the body in stressfire situations.

All and all, it was very interesting.

The very receptive crowd was hanging on their every word, particularly Mr. Grossman. At times too receptive. I wondered whether everyone in the room was realizing the impact and import of what Mr. Grossman was saying, instead of getting all revved up, locked and loaded. I wanted people to listen and think, not just agree with every word Messrs. Grossman and Siddle uttered. There was, and is, much to consider.

I also ran into several old friends, made some new ones, and was acquainted with people I have only known online. John Lydic, down from Richwood, Ohio, and a member of Richwood Gun and Game Club was there. John was one of my instructors when I took my first NRA personal protection course years and years (and years) ago. Ellen and I went through NRA instructor training together eight or nine years ago, and John was one of our NRA training counselors. A great guy, I had not seen him in about a year and it was super to catch up.

There were a number of Buckeye Firearms Association folks present, as BFA sponsored the seminar as a fundraiser. One individual I had not seen in a few years was Pete Brucken, a BFA leader from the Dayton area. As always, it was great to see Jim Irvine, BFA chairman, who heads a super organization.

Two bloggers I read regularly, Breda and her husband, Mike (buddy, you need to write more!), came down from the Cleveland area. Both are avid 2A supporters and it was nice they came down for this event. Breda and I have exchanged emails on and off and linked to each others' posts in the past. It was nice to finally meet them in person.

And finally, a big thanks for Steve Loos and Linda Walker of BFA. They know why.

Ellen and I didn't attend this next event, but right after the seminar and only about a mile away as the crow flies, was a huge gathering of Second Amendment and hunting/fishing supporters. The U.S. Sportmans Alliance was holding its annual Ohio Rally, and nearly 1,500 people were in attendance. GOP presidential nominee Sen. John McCain was to be the keynote speaker but he stayed in Washington to work on the bank bailout bill and spoke to the crowd via satellite.

I can only imagine that if you attended both events Saturday, you walked away absolutely pumped up.


The Duck said...

It was my 3rd Bulletproof mind seminar, the 1st time with Bruce.
They do have a way to wake you up, & tell you things you will never hear on CBS, NBC etc.
I've used Dave's information in a lot of classes.

Brent Greer said...

Oh for sure it wakes you up! I will be using some of the new info in classes also. Thanks for stopping by and writing!

Brent Greer said...

Oh for sure it wakes you up! I will be using some of the new info in classes also. Thanks for stopping by and writing!