Don’t be Intimidated by the Tacti-tards (The basics are still the same)

I came across this video over the weekend and I thought it was pretty interesting. The tuber in the video, The Yankee Marshall, makes a compelling argument about how one shouldn’t be intimidated by the tactical subculture within the gun community that currently dominates the narrative on how one ought to train with firearms.

YM’s starts by saying that defending oneself with a gun is not all that hard, that anyone can do it.  He cites the fact that stories of defensive gun use involving all sorts of minimally trained individuals happen daily, e.g. young children defending themselves from home invaders, little old ladies defending themselves from would-be robbers, female college students defending themselves from serial rapists, etc.

YM doesn’t diminish the need to train as much as one can, but, at the same time, he attacks the notion that only military operatives or tactical gurus — bearded guys in tight shirts with arm tatts — are the only ones capable of defending themselves.  Moreover, that this rare breed of black-bearded brutes has a monopoly on the proper ways to train with firearms.

The basics of firearms safety and training have been around decades, so if a certain technique or philosophy has been effective for your father and your grandfather, chances are it’s still relative today, YM says (I’m paraphrasing a bit).  In short, you don’t need Tier-1 training or the latest tactical training trend to become a competent gun owner capable of defending yourself when faced with a mortal threat.

From my experience, the ex-military types and tactical devotees I’ve conversed with have all been fairly open-minded and amenable to new ideas about or different approaches to self-defense and firearms training.  I don’t know of many who would argue that when it comes to getting the job done, there is only one way to skin a cat.

That said, I’m sure that there are some mall ninjas out there who are rigid and close-minded about the “right” way to train.  But I know for a fact that you can find a know-it-all in almost any subculture of the firearms community.  Yes, there are know-it-alls in the tactical crowd, but they also exist in the competition crowd and the hunting crowd, etc. Now, maybe they appear to be more prevalent in the tactical crowd because that is the hot thing right now, but — at least for me — I think the lesson is to just stay away from anyone who claims that they have all the answers to every question on firearms training or that their way of doing something is the only way of doing something.

In any event, what are your thoughts on YM’s argument?  What are your thoughts about the tactical subculture within the firearms community?

About the author: S.H. Blannelberry is the News Editor of GunsAmerica.

{ 20 comments… add one }
  • VGS March 14, 2016, 10:16 am

    I’m a NRA pistol instructor. I’m also an attorney and spent a number of years both prosecuting and defending gun cases. For those contemplating tactical training I would urge you to strongly consider the following:
    1. Your chances of getting into a gun fight are about the same as being struck by lightning while crossing the street.
    2. If you get into a gun fight it will be in a face to face scenario at a distance of 0-30 feet.
    3. If the distance between you and the assailant is greater think escape because the jury, judge and prosecutor in the aftermath of your gunfight will certainly be thinking that way notwithstanding stand your ground laws. If you can’t rationally explain your actions for not escaping think jail time because you may very well get a lot of it.
    4. Next time you think about packing or keeping a souped-up firearm with lots of pretty efficient customized goodies, think again. The difference between defending yourself with your daddy’s hand-me-down .38 and your custom AR15 chock full of lasers, lights, optics is the difference between…….well I think you get the picture.
    5. Now let’s talk about tactics for a second. It’s a term used in the history of warfare from time immemorial that means having a plan with which to kill your enemy without getting killed. All great military leaders use tactics to win. Another words kill the enemy before the enemy kills you. Now do some serious soul searching and ask yourself if in the aftermath of a gunfight you want that kind of language batted about you in a court of law with a jury listening. Will that make you sound like you were a hair from being gunned down and had no choice but to defend yourself? More than likely your tactical training in the hands of a reasonably seasoned prosecutor will make you look like a well-oiled killing machine. Again think long jail time or at the very least huge monetary damages that will follow you for the rest of your life.
    6. Some will say that at the end of the day the only thing that matters after a gunfight is being alive and that any training that gives them that edge is worth getting. I say maybe so. But every law abiding gun owner owes it to themselves to understand the implications of their actions and make their choices based on real information and not just the hype that’s batted around out there. There are many reasonable defensive shooting trainers out there who can teach you how to stay alive without turning you into a special forces operative.

    So be reasonable, stay safe and enjoy shooting.

  • Sgt. A March 13, 2016, 2:54 pm

    The speaker said he didn’t want his video to be about training, but then gives instruction on trigger control while shooting one handed with a revolver.

  • Mr Robert Anton Novak March 12, 2016, 7:26 am

    Here’s my idea of tactical training, for what its worth. Once or twice a week, usually around 3am when I get up. I take my CZ-82, and go around my home, envisioning different attacks coming from different areas of my house. Using the cover that’s there, the layout of my home, that I know by heart, because lets face it. YOU LIVE THERE. The invaders don’t, so you have that advantage. Anyway. I go through these drills, dry firing as I go. I also do it with my eyes closed or blindfolded, just to create a memory of my homes layout that’s ingrained, and not dependent on sight.
    Then, when I’m at my public range, and no ones around, I set up various targets at different stations, at different ranges, and different sizes. I sometimes run between these stages to get the adrenaline and blood pumping, sometimes I go prone, sometimes I kneel etc.. That’s my idea of tactical training.
    As for a public active shooter scenario, like in a mall, or some such area, well that’s a different story. First I think, do I want to get involved? Do I have a chance to neutralize this threat, without the possibility of collateral damage to another human? I have already decided that I will NEVER chase down an active shooter. I will take cover, draw my weapon, and wait for him to come to me. On the streets in a one on one confrontation, like if I’m at a 7/11 same thing, can I draw and shoot without hitting someone else? Do I have a shot, is he looking at me or the store clerk?
    Now you have the case of someone attacking you personally. This is the hardest scenario to train for. Does he have a gun, or a knife? Is what your carrying worth getting shot for? Can you access your weapon, while say reaching for your wallet and get the drop on this guy? Lots of things can go wrong here, so I have decided on my mind set of, “lets see how things play out, if they guys on crack, or meth, he’s going down, if he’s just desperate for a few dollars, that’s different. So many different ways to train, and any way is better than no way. So there you have it, Bob Novak’s tactical training 101.

  • JHR March 12, 2016, 12:03 am

    I’m not sure this guy does make a valid point, and yes you can read about grandma shooting or scaring off would be criminals with her single shot .22 every month in NRA’s American Rifleman. At the same time there is no substitute for training by a qualified, “qualified being the key word” instructor if you are not familiar with firearms and even if you are there are always advanced classes. Doesn’t mean you have to plunk down a thousand dollars, fly to an undisclosed state and go through 2000 rounds in four days. I suppose that’s great if you have the money but if you don’t there are numerous NRA qualified instructors across the nation.
    But even a well trained person can make mistakes. Bear with me since I’m getting ready to delve into hand to hand self defense. Once upon a time deep in the hills of South Korea during tank gunnery practice a certain fellow who had a black belt in Tae Kwon Do took a disliking to me, for some reason or the other, alcohol may have been involved. He called me out for a fight. I was intimidated because I had seen him practice and he was good. The fight was over in 3 seconds, he leaned forward, I suppose to do a round about kick and I slapped both of my hands over his ears, pulled his head down, and his face meet my right knee as it was rising. His anger and loss of control made his training fly out the window. I’m a firm believer in training. Firearms are tools and easy to use but as with any tool, table saw, chain saw, wood splitter, even a simple axe can maim, or kill you without guidance in their use.
    irearms are tools

  • TPSnodgrass March 11, 2016, 7:36 pm

    I’ve always struggled with the “tacti-cool-commandoes” and their mantra, especially THEY are the ones trying to “SELL” the shooting community “something”. While we all can learn to do better, of course, I do try and prefer to avoid all “trouble” scrupulously and ethically. This means my opportunity to HAVE to engage a suspect(yeah, I spent a whole lot of years in law enforcement-NOT behind a desk), or to “take action to intervene” is dramatically reduced. I choose NOT to intervene, period, unless it’s ME or MINE directly being attacked. Too significant a civil liability, and too great a risk at getting shot by responding officers/deputies, etc. I don’t “do” “what if” scenarios at all, they are utter crap and imaginative horse excrement designed by the “commandoes” to market/sell THEIR brand of “tacti-coolness”. I wasn’t tactical when I was in the military, no need to be that or to play at it either. I prefer to be GREY, invisible to the thug demographic, that lowers MY opportunity profile significantly, and my ego and self-esteem is still secure and not based on my steroid consumption or anything else.
    It’s just how I choose to role in life. We all have to work out our own salvation in life, and what we choose to “do” in a real firefight, (think an old phone booth, because that IS how close the majority of them actually are), if you don’t KNOW what a phone booth is, do an internet search. I’ll shut up now.

  • Tom Horn March 11, 2016, 6:50 pm

    Tactics: 1. an action or strategy carefully planned to achieve a specific end. 2. the science and art of disposing and maneuvering forces in combat.

    Just think of tactical training as a study/practice of the way to best way to survive an armed conflict. Take it as far as you feel necessary.

    Back to the mall ninjas scenario of the video. I believe I would rather have one or two well trained LEO’s with me in a situation facing a bad guys with firearms, than six or eight untrained folks. Would they even understand the concept of an “L” shaped ambush? Big Foot Wallace tells in his memoirs, of an untrained posse that surrounded some horse thieves, then proceeded to shoot each other across the way.

  • Tector March 11, 2016, 5:34 pm

    Those who would restrict the natural right of self-defense make many specious arguments against it, arguments that do not bear up on inspection. One is that “a gun in the home is more likely to be used to kill someone in the home than an intruder”; just plain wrong. I would agree, therefore, that having a gun trumps not having one, when it comes to self-defense. And lack of training should not prevent a law-abiding citizen from acquiring the means of self-defense (a right that is subject to permits and regulations is no longer a right). But I think that most reasonable gun owners (contrary to the belief of the anti-gun zealots) understand that training further improves the odds in their favor, and the more training, the better. And training that can be documented can be of help in the courtroom aftermath of a shooting. By all means, expose your mind to all the various disciplines and techniques available; avoid anyone who professes to have “the one true way”. Get as much training and practice as your schedule and your wallet allow. Take responsibility for your own protection (no one else has as much skin in that fight as you do), and don’t let anyone intimidate you into believing you’re not doing enough (they don’t understand your life circumstances like you do).

  • John Hopkins March 11, 2016, 10:33 am

    I agree with him. But, in defense of the tactical crowd, it seems like most of the more vocal members are instructors trying to get more classes filled. Agree with them or not, you don’t sell a product by telling people they can probably do without it.

  • grifhunter March 11, 2016, 10:28 am

    Dead on.
    Whenever I hear justifications for differing rights to carry for law enforcement versus civilians, its always centered on how the police are specially trained, innately capable individuals worthy of handling a gun to the point of self defense. The untrained masses, well, best just stay at home.

    Yet, annually, thousands of untrained shooters of varying ages and abilities, experienced with guns and complete noobs, successfully defend themselves with firearms. Sure, more training is better than less. But please, for the good of the gun community and future of firearms self defense, please don’t elevate the act of pulling a firearm to astrophysics.

    • mike March 18, 2016, 10:12 pm

      I MUST BE ONE OF THOSE UNTRAINED IDIOTS,I started my lack of training 50 years ago in April when I got my first 22 at age 7 “still have it,can still shoot pecans out with open sights,acorns to those of you who know what that is” I got a shotgun the next year,still have it..Hand to hand,tons of training in that”was made;to those of you who know what that is before 17;so I have been handling my empty hands for at least 45 years.You come on my place,LET ALONE MY HOUSE,trying to find trouble,your journey has ended! In case you can not tell,I am southern and proud of it! I will protect those I care for and my property”SPECIFICALLY my guns” with my dying breath,probably after several of you,at a third of a mile,MANY of you!I have NEVER had a misfire,wish I could say I never hurt anyone while in a state of rage in a fight!I believe EVERY CHILD “I don’t discriminate” should own,be taught PROPER RESPECT,RESTRAINT,AND HANDLING OF GUNS ! Some hand to hand training,really respect for others,and THEIR PROPERTY!

  • Snowy Rivers March 11, 2016, 10:07 am


    A highly overused and I might say “Abused” terms used today in the gun culture.
    My firearms training spans many dacdes, and as well as an instructor of firearms use and handling I have been in the manufacturing arena as well.

    Good training goes beyond safety and then heads NORTH real fast into the murky zone of surviving the legal battle that can and will surely follow any defense shooting.

    All this blah blah blah about tactical everything has not once stressed GOOD TACTICS to stay out of jail.

    The gun fight lasts a few seconds, someone lives, someone dies, and from there (if you are the lucky one) the real battle begins.
    If a jury sees you as a gung ho type with “Tactical everything” they likely not going to see you as a person who was just well prepared, but rather someone that was itching for a scrap and possibly made it happen.

    The demur soul who carries a plain jane utilitarian weapon and uses it wisely is likely more “Tactically sound” in todays society.

    The streets of your town are not a high stakes video game with your performance saving the day.

    Be reasonable, know your weapon, know the law and be safe.

    Just sayin

  • Tom Horn March 11, 2016, 10:01 am

    Tactics is not about using your gun. It’s about using your brains. I think you can defend yourself without tactical training. I think you can defend yourself better with tactical training. Example: My Grandpa, and Dad never taught me to check my six (target at 6 o’clock, look behind you in both directions) after you have neutralized the perceived threat in front of you. That I learned in a tactical class. Checking your six, is a good tactical drill to practice, so it becomes muscle memory. You can easily forget to check for other threats when you are having the tunnel vision of a stressful event. Lot more to be learned, just one example.

    I would at least read some good tactical books by Gabriel Suarez, or Massad Ayoob, etc.

  • igotguns March 11, 2016, 8:55 am

    I say Live and let live, unless they are trying to hurt or kill you… then its shoot to kill!

    Seriously though, Just do what you do and don’t worry about how others train. If you’re confident in how you train or shoot then you’re still ahead of the game.
    That said, I think training AND avoidance goes a long way in keeping lead out of a good guys body as well as helping you put lead into a bad guys first!
    Knowing what to look for and how to spot and avoid a potentially dangerous situation or person is possibly your best defense.

  • Mike Mayberry March 11, 2016, 8:44 am

    I also would add that we should not be intimidated into shooting a different gun for training. I recent shot a competition with my micro-9mm, my favorite carry gun. I decided I was not competing with the others, but with myself and wanted to see how I would do under stress in a urban combat situation. At the end of the three hours, knowing I had been outshot in speed by everyone with a high capacity full size handgun, I was pleased with my little Sig and its performance. No jams, multiple mag changes and shot the center out of targets multiple times. Also learned that extra mags are high value commodities. All this is meant to agree with the original author in his view that the range junkies mentally impose views on us more practical shooters, even in gun choices. I am certain that some of those guys at the competition would probably “choke” with their little carry guns, having never shot them under duress.

  • Steve March 11, 2016, 8:43 am

    Finally! Someone has said what I’ve been saying for a long time. I’m 76 years old, been shooting since I was 12. Served in the military. Shoot at least three days a week, can hit my targets standing up or laying down, with a handgun or carbine. But I’m no commando, can’t jump over tall buildings, or run and gun at breakneck speeds. But realistically I’m never going to have to do that. I’m a little slower getting my gun out, degenerating arthritis doesn’t help, but once it’s out I can hit anything I’m shooting at. Instead of paying $500 for a course buy more ammo and get to the range.

  • Mike Thomas March 11, 2016, 8:39 am

    At my age and state of health (multiple spine injuries) I feel less sure of my ability to defend myself (and more importantly, my retired school teacher wife) than I used to. Having been a shooter for 40 years I thought I was well versed in defensive arms. I studied legal ramifications of defending ones life using deadly force and tried the various techniques offered by Ayoob, Steiner, Cooper, etc.. In order to obtain my CCW I took the required class for my state which did NOT require live fire but our instructor, a retired SWAT officer and Police Trainer offered a free live fire time frame for us. Best couple of hours of my life spent learning something ever. Refined my grip and reloads and got us moving while shooting. And a very nice guy to boot with no ego to feed in any way. I agree with YM (whose videos I enjoy as he does not take himself too seriously as the above article noted). Those of us who do not care to become Rambo don’t need to but we can still train for the worst. We just have more fun at it…

  • John March 11, 2016, 8:19 am

    This is a great video, thanks for linking to it. This guy is dialed-in and I hope his message gets spread widely.

  • lee wilson March 11, 2016, 7:28 am

    Well that was refreshing ! I have shot my whole life, but was concerned that I was missing out on tactical training every month. I am going to feel better about shooting for fun, clearing jams, trying different shooting positions, Etc. I think a lot can be said for muscle memory and the reps it takes to achieve it. Well gotta go. Wall Mart just got a shipment of ammo !

  • Randy Scott March 11, 2016, 7:19 am

    I agree with the author on one’s ability to defend effectively. I do believe that skills need to be developed, but not to the point of Tier-1. Threat Identification, Front sight, and trigger control have saved lives. My basics are hunter safety, as this is a base line for safe handling of firearms. After all no one leaves the keys in their car, idling on the street with the belief that it will still be their for a pizza run.
    The tactics that I stress are the less lethal the weapon, the greater the demand for strong and effective tactics. I like to stress moving (evasion) after initial contact and barriers. Anyone that has hunted knows that harvesting game in most instances is not instantaneous, self defense is the same.

  • Will Drider March 8, 2016, 10:29 am

    I agree with him in the context of the way he framed and limits the issue. Basically it when you realize the wolf is at the door and your ability to use your firearm and ammo in it, period. I think most people, even under stress, can “engage” a threat. Engage does not mandate success but neither does advanced training as it only increases your odds when so many variables are in play. Hopefully fear and instinct has driven our defender to use cover as that has not been “taught” yet. Can our good guy/gal clear a malfunction or reload quickly under stress with fading fine motor skills? Its not just the advanced skills that are taught it is the IMPORTANCE of those skill that must be imbedded! When things go bump in the night you grab your gun, do you grab a extra mag too? Do you hunker down in place or walk into the unknown? With a flashlight centered from your body in the other hand? I often see OC folks with extra mags. I spot check my CC friends and most don’t have a extra mag the first time I ask. I am aware of the statistics being X number of shots at XX feet. Even if you toss out the terrorist issue, the headlines are full of attacks with mutiple bad guys with varying levels of weapons. I just don’t want good guys to be counted in the OTHER. Statistic. IMHO, I think someone with the basics can prevail in most situations and is due in part to even less training by the bad guy.

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