Archive for the ‘Education and Training’ Category

Join us this Sunday, May 30th as we welcome a very special guest, John Benner of Tactical Defense Institute.

President and chief instructor of Tactical Defense Institute, John Benner is a 37-year veteran police Lieutenant and Vietnam Veteran. John recently retired as Coordinator of the Drug Abuse Reduction Task Force.

John spent 25 years with the Hamilton County Police Association Regional SWAT Team. During 20 years as Commander, John received several prestigious awards including Contribution to Law Enforcement, Police Leadership and Officer of the Year.

John is certified to instruct and a guest instructor for the Ohio Peace Officer’s Training Council (OPOTA).  John is a member of and presenter for the International Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors (IALEFI).  John is the co-author of the nationally used CQPC Program.

For more information, check out TDI’s website at

As a firearms instructor I am often asked “Have you ever had to use your weapon?”  The answer is “Yes,” but the story is not what you might expect.  My hope is that no one I teach will ever be faced with a similar situation, but if they are I hope they will have listened to my story and learned from it.  Nothing can train like experience but, unless you want to rely on luck alone, you are going to need to make sure you get the right kind of training.  I learned that myself, the hard way.

In early 1993 my mother had been in a relationship with a man, and it had soured.  He began making threats of violence against her via the telephone.  My mother had been staying with my sister for safety, but my sister worked overnight at the time.  At my mother’s request I’d had my wife drop me off there to stay the night.  The man had an arrest warrant outstanding for making the threats, and we learned that he’d been picked up that evening.  I considered going home, but it was late so I decided to stay.  Unknown to us, the man had posted bond and been released. 

That same night he left the jail on bond and walked to a store and purchased a set of kitchen knives.  Then he headed to my sister’s home.  Sometime after 1:30am I awoke to my mom shouting: “THE BACK DOOR!”  I was out of bed, with a .38 revolver in my hand and entering the kitchen just as the back door burst open, and nearly off the hinges.  The man was crossing the kitchen floor at a run with a knife raised in his right hand.  I raised the revolver and fired just before we collided.  I blocked the knife blow and grabbed his right wrist.  I pulled at the trigger again but the gun wouldn’t fire.  He had grasped the frame on the revolver in such a way as to prevent the cylinder rotating.  Still trying his best to stab me and me unable to fire, I had little choice, I thrust myself head first into him, we hit the table and then the floor.  I began driving my head into his chest and abdomen over and over.  I could feel him weakening, but his grip on the gun and his attempts to make contact with the knife remained sincere.  The police were suddenly upon him, assuring me they had him, and the ordeal was over.  It was only then that I realized that the one shot I managed to get off had missed him. 

By this time in my life I’d had six years of martial arts training and I had completed an Ohio Police Officer’s Training Council recognized firearms course.  But I learned a lesson that night that changed me and the way I looked at personal safety forever.  I’d worked in retail loss prevention as well as other protective services, so I had resorted to using physical force a number of times in my work.  However, I’d never before had another person try to take my life. 

I now look back on that incident as a successful failure.  I failed at a number of things that night.  At point blank range I failed to hit my target, which could have cost me my life.  I allowed the assailant to grab and disable my firearm, which could have cost me my life.  In retrospect, I know there are things I should have done differently and additional actions I could have taken, but as a veteran of numerous deadly force encounters told me: “You survived.  In the end, that’s all that matters.” 

 From that day forward I did the only thing one can do with the past, I learned from it.  I began to train myself in instinctive shooting, where the use of sights at close range are not necessary.   I also began training myself to deliver multiple shots in about the time I used to deliver one, and I now shoot on a very regular basis.  Shooting for me was a pastime then, now it is like breathing.   Mainly, I realized that I was wrong in much of my self defense thinking, and finally began to really listen and follow the hard learned lessons of other, more experienced, experts.   If I faced the exact circumstances today, I don’t believe I would end up on the floor with partial control of a gun, limited control of a knife and using my forehead to stay alive.  Today I take this kind of training and preparedness much more seriously. 

In my business, we’ve had a few close calls and tense moments.  I’ve had my gun out of it’s holster more than once as circumstances unfolded in my stores.  However, that day is still, thankfully, the only day I really felt like someone was there to kill me.  I remember hearing all the so-called experts in the past: “Well, if you’ve never been in that situation, you might freeze up and not even be able to shoot.  Some people just can’t.”  Believe me my friend, when you see a man charging you with a knife, you’ll shoot.  I didn’t hesitate at all, and I still could have died.   Friends, learn from those who have lived through these kinds of encounters. 

There are people who have faced these situations many times, learn from their words and actions and hone your skills.  Remember, a gun is a tool, you are the weapon.  Get trained, develop skills and stay in practice.  There is more to using a gun than pointing and pulling the trigger, if you don’t learn to use your gun it may not do you any good when and if you need it.