AAR: TDI Active Killer/Shooter Response Training

Jackson

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In light of all the recent press on school shootings and active shooters, I wanted to post a little AAR on a TDI course I took earlier this year. I also attended a one-day class with Fortress Defense Consultants on this topic, but I did not take notes nearly so well due to wet and rainy conditions. I will try to post an AAR of that training as well. Also, I don't have pictures like esrice. I'm not that good. :-) I have tried to include links to various instructor's individual web pages, a map of the facility location, and links to the TDI web page, and to the TDI course description for this training.


School: Tactical Defense Institute
Course: Active Killer/Shooter Training
Date: August 31, 2012 – September 2, 2012
Duration: 3 days
Location: Tactical Defense Institute 2174 Bethany Ridge, West Union, OH 45693
Instructors: John Benner, David Bowie, Greg Ellifritz, and other TDI Staff.
Summary
TDI hosts this course in a three-day format for open enrollment at their West Union facility. TDI also offers this course in a five-day format through the National Association of School Resource Officers to police departments around the country.

The course covers:
· The history and nature of various active shooter incidents
· Skill-based range drills related to movement, accuracy, and speed
· An explanation and practical application of the method TDI recommends for finding and engaging the shooter and how to act immediately afterwards
· An overview of terrorism and bomb awareness information
· A four hour introduction to combat trauma medical care
· Live fire shoot house drills
· Force-on-Force scenarios

Conclusion
Overall, I found the course to be very worthwhile. Significant amounts of research were put in to the lecture portions of the course. The course brings awareness level information on a wide variety of topics which are critical in responding to an active shooter. Many live, scenario-based sessions were used to practice the methods taught. The methods taught were traceable back to the lecture material and the reasoning for each technique was clear. There were a few details of range drills or scenarios which I didn’t like, but that is true of any class. Overall, I would recommend the TDI Active Shooter class to anyone seeking another perspective on training for this type

Details
Day One: Morning Session
The first day began in the classroom with a lecture titled “Who is the Active Shooter”. This lecture was given by John Benner, owner of TDI. John first discussed the history of active shooters both in the US and abroad dating back to 1764. Based on the study of various incidents and statistics, TDI has categorized active shooter incidents in to 4 categories: Level 1 is a single person with minimal planning; Level 2 is an individual or partners with some pre-planning; Levels 3A and 3B are categories of terrorist threats stratified by level of planning and number of participants (for 3B think Beslan). After defining the broad categories, John went over a number of statistics and examples from various incidents in an effort to identify methods and help us determine what tactics might be appropriate in response to active shooters. Some statistics I found interesting: 80% use a long gun, 90% will commit suicide on site, 7-8 people are shot every minute (on average), and almost 66% are solved by non-LEO intervention.

After introducing us to the nature of various active shooters, John went on to discuss some of the options for response. The lecture focused on mental preparation, being prepared to see and bypass victims, and an understanding that time is the most important factor. Whether you choose to hide, to run, or to seek and engage, decisiveness and aggressive action were emphasized. Should you choose to engage, TDI has some very interesting and valid thoughts on method of movement through structures for active shooters vs a slow building search, and for what to do during and immediately after engaging the shooter. These methods were discussed in the lecture and later practiced in shoot house and FoF scenarios.

Day One: Afternoon Session
After lunch the class congregated on the range for a few drills. The first drill performed was a 30 yard accuracy test on paper, cold. From 30 yards, we advanced in 5 yard increments down to 10 yards. This was to demonstrate each individual’s effective range without warm-up or practice. It appeared to be very eye-opening for some participants. After the accuracy exercise we did some moving and shooting drills on steel targets. TDI showed us their methods for moving through obstacles, working corners, and other considerations when shooting and moving through crowds.

Day Two: Morning Session
We were back in the classroom for two lectures before lunch. The first lecture was “Terrorism Awareness and Prevention”. This session outlined the difference between terrorist attacks and some of the other types of school shooters. A list of groups known to attack schools was provided and some of their methods discussed. Some suggestions for prevention and response were explained. They can be boiled down to paying attention to surroundings; keep abreast of local, national and world news; and develop and practice emergency plans. If you want the details, you’ll have to take the class.

The second lecture was “Incident Response to Terrorist Bombings: Awareness Level Course” presented by Greg Ellifritz. I found this part of the class to be one of the most interesting. Greg went through various explosives and what they might look like. He described components, basic workings, and a general doctrine of what to do if you suspect, or are sure, there is an explosive present. He also discussed some interesting statistics and “critical distances” for various types of explosives. Basically, that is how far away you have to run to avoid getting your arse blown off. The basic advice is pretty similar to the Eddie Eagle program. Stop, don’t touch, tell an adult. Or, Stop, Run like the dickens, Call a bomb squad,

Day Two: Afternoon Session
I didn’t take notes on this part, but I believe the afternoon session was on the range again. We kicked off with a “warm up” type range session. Of all aspects of the class, this was my least favorite. I could have done without the warm-up session at all. It almost seemed like they just wanted to squeeze in some shooting. That isn’t to say the shooting drills in this portion weren’t worthwhile. But they were less focused on active-shooter-specific tasks and skills and more just shooting.

After the warm-up period, we broke in to groups and went to different shoot houses. Two types of shoot house drills were run. The first was with inert pistols and the second was a live run on simulated paper targets. These sessions were well done. They were the first opportunity to bring the full set of recommendations from the lecture together. We worked the shoot house with an instructor in-tow. It was interesting to see the difference in suggested tactics and techniques when compared to the Partner Tactics course which I had also taken at TDI. They recommend some different strategies when dealing with an active shooter vs conducting a slow building search or clearing rooms.

Day Two: Evening Session
After the range session we broke for dinner then returned to the classroom for a great medical lecture by Greg Ellifritz. This four-hour lecture covered the injuries most likely found in an active shooter or terrorist bombing situation. Greg had an excellent set of slides depicting photos of various wounds and provided a verbal description and/or demonstration of how each might be addressed in a field-expedient manner. Airway, breathing, and evacuation considerations were also discussed. A number of different bandages and medical devices were demonstrated or passed around for familiarity. This was another excellent part of the course. Obviously you cannot learn to be a doctor, nurse, or EMT in a four hour training session. However, it certainly illustrated the need for further medical training and gave students a basic knowledge of what to do for critical wounds in the field.

Day 3:
The final training day was conducted entirely on the range, in shoot houses, and in the Force on Force house. I am a little fuzzy on the details because I neglected to take notes on day three. I will do the best I can. I believe at some point on day three we ran the accuracy test from day one. I cannot remember if it was morning or afternoon, so I’ll mention it here. Everyone’s performance was markedly improved after a couple days of shooting. Always remember, you are not likely to be as good cold or after a long break from shooting as you are right after a two or three day class.

Morning Session:
We started the morning working on some methods to move through crowds of people while protecting your weapon and not getting stifled by the crowd. TDI demonstrated a couple of methods which we practiced in groups. After practicing the techniques, we performed an interesting range drill which required moving through hanging sand bags to simulate a crowd, finding the correct target, drawing, and engaging the target. If I recall correctly, this was a timed drill.

For the next few drills we proceeded to the shoot houses and force on force houses. Each student was given an opportunity to move through the shoot house with live people moving and fleeing the shooter, find the shooter, and engage with an inert gun. This was a good drill because it allowed us to bring together all of the techniques taught to this point. Each student had the opportunity to play the active shooter, a victim/bystander, and the responding CCW holder/police officer. There were some specifics regarding the role players’ movement and actions which I felt was less-than-realistic. However, some of it was necessary to simulate a crowd using only a few people, or to compress the time and allow everyone an opportunity at the drill. We went through variations of this drill at a couple different locations, with different instructors and slightly different focuses.

Afternoon Session:
For the afternoon session we broke in to groups and rotated between a few stations.
Station one was an accuracy clinic with instructor David Bowie. David set everyone up on the line at close range and had us shoot the best group we could manage. It was close enough that it should have been a one-hole group for a proficient shooter. We moved progressively backwards until students started to show accuracy problems. After each string/distance, David would inspect each target and make observations from watching each student shoot, or from the results on paper. Each student was used as an example to demonstrate issues to the class. Not in a mean way, of course. Just as a learning tool. I found this portion of the class to be very worthwhile. I think everyone else on the line did as well. I have not taken the TDI entry-level pistol class. However, if this is their method for teaching accuracy, I would recommend it.
Station two was a series of outdoor Force on Force scenarios in a simulated parking lot. I will not give any details of the scenarios, but they were well run and well thought out. FoF sessions were conducted with marking rounds or with AirSoft pistols. Again, students had an opportunity to play the victim, the shooter, and the responder. There were shoot scenarios, no-shoot scenarios, and scenarios that could have gone either way.
Station three was a series of indoor scenarios conducted in TDI’s two-level FoF house. Students used AirSoft pistols for the scenarios. These scenarios were also well put-together. A couple scenarios even involved un-armed response to the active shooter. There was no hard physical contact, grappling, or retention/disarm work. However, even the un-armed response scenarios were done in real time, at speed. The focus of the scenario was timing and how to approach un-noticed utilizing weapons of opportunity.
 
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cedartop

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Jackson, this really has nothing to do with TDI, but you mention some parts you didn't find valuable. Do you think this the class or you? What I mean is, I have been finding that most classes don't really impress me too much anymore. This is not because I know it all (far from it), but that I have been to so many classes that it is down to looking for nuggets each time I take one instead of being overwhelmed or even moderately whelmed. Does this make sense? If so, does it sound familiar?
btw, Nice review.
 

Jackson

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Jackson, this really has nothing to do with TDI, but you mention some parts you didn't find valuable. Do you think this the class or you? What I mean is, I have been finding that most classes don't really impress me too much anymore. This is not because I know it all (far from it), but that I have been to so many classes that it is down to looking for nuggets each time I take one instead of being overwhelmed or even moderately whelmed. Does this make sense? If so, does it sound familiar?
btw, Nice review.

I would say it was a little bit of both. To give a little bit of background as to my mindset during the class, this was the last three days of a nine day training vacation. The previous six days had been spent with Louis Awerbuck (three days on the range doing pistol/carbine work and three days in FoF scenarios). Louis is known for having a very analytical and detailed approach to instruction and I found that to be true. So I had already had a significant amount of range training immediately prior to going. (That is in addition to the few hundred hours of firearm training I'd had to that point just in general.) So there was definitely some amount of fatigue and repitition to it. My training partner and I had commented to one another during the TDI class that taking that large a block of training in a row may hinder our ability to keep an open mind toward the end, due to fatigue and from learning things one right after another without time to take them home and digest.

On the other hand, I did find value in some of the shooting drills and not others. For example, the accuracy block at the end was very informative and I could see a direct line back to the training doctrine presented throughout the class as well as the opening accuracy test. The premise was that "what you shot when you came in to the class is what you would have in the fight" and the final accuracy session provided specific tools to work on that at home. The other range drills where I was somewhat disappointed did not have the same feel. They felt almost like they wanted to stick some shooting in to make it more of a shooting class. They weren't bad drills, but they were not tied to the FoF, shoot house scenarios, or other training information in as close a way. They were also not so specifically focused and did not provide any specific feedback or instruction to take home and work on. They were a little looser in format. I hope all that makes sense. When compared to some of their other drills, or to the previous six days with Louis Awerbuck, they did not seem as valuable.

Back to your point, I definitely notice the more training I take, the harder it is to find really new information or new perspectives. I like the way you put it as "looking for nuggets" vs being overwhelmed with new information. I think I've described it like that in the past too. I think that is definitely true. I definitely don't know everything either and I am always looking for new information. In practice, though, most classes present fairly similar information. In order to work around that we (my training partner and I) have started looking for more specialized courses such as this active shooter course, or the partner tactics course, etc and also focusing on courses with FoF components. And all of that definitely colors my view of the training classes I go to. It is very likely that someone who didn't have my training/shooting background would have found the drills to be much more worthwhile.
 

indychad

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Good AAR. I have many hours on the range at TDI and have nothing but the highest marks for John and the gang. I am signed up for this class in June and am looking forward to it even more so now after this.
 

Jackson

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Good AAR. I have many hours on the range at TDI and have nothing but the highest marks for John and the gang. I am signed up for this class in June and am looking forward to it even more so now after this.

Which TDI courses have you taken and what did you think of them? Did you take good notes and could you post a review of each? I would like to hear about their other courses.

Also, have you trained other places?
 

the1kidd03

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Thanks for the AAR. I was actually planning on signing up for this very course sometime later this year. Mind me asking what it set you back? Their site doesn't post a price that I remember.
 

indychad

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I did not take good notes as I was there to learn amd practice. Sorry about that. I have taken all the handgun classes, shotgun,tac rifle, knife, CQPC and the Med class. The handgun classes I have taken multiple times, 1-3 maybe 4 + times Advanced carry once and shotgun 3 times, rifle 2 times, knife twice, CQPC 3 times and the Med. class once. NEVER had a bad experience while on range or off. I have not yet trained elsewhere but if the AWB passes I will be forced to. The reason I have not is I know what I am paying for and for me it works. I like the mindset of all the instructors as well as the content of the training. The background of the instructors range from current SWAT, active and retiredLEO, retired military, attorneys (they are good attorneys, not the kind you want to, well.... Take out back). They know how and what to train on and stand behind the technics they teach on the job. In the Med. class, the primary was an active Spec. Op DR. Now he knew his stuff when it came to battlefield wounds. My wife has been to most of the classes with me and they take the time to coach her when she or anyone needs it. Most of the time the ratio is 2-3 students to one instructor. You get personalized instruction. Top notch origination, that's why they get my hard earned money.
 

indychad

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Kidd, if you are, sign up now, they fill up fast. Look at the web site, they posted 2013 schedule around Oct. last yr. and it darn near full.
 

Jackson

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Thanks for the AAR. I was actually planning on signing up for this very course sometime later this year. Mind me asking what it set you back? Their site doesn't post a price that I remember.

Honestly, I don't remember. It was either $525.00 (the same as the rifle class), or it was $600.00. I would say there was 30-35 hours of instruction across the three days.

Edit: My training partner says $550.00. So somewhere in that range.
 
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Jackson

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I did not take good notes as I was there to learn amd practice. Sorry about that. I have taken all the handgun classes, shotgun,tac rifle, knife, CQPC and the Med class. The handgun classes I have taken multiple times, 1-3 maybe 4 + times Advanced carry once and shotgun 3 times, rifle 2 times, knife twice, CQPC 3 times and the Med. class once. NEVER had a bad experience while on range or off. I have not yet trained elsewhere but if the AWB passes I will be forced to. The reason I have not is I know what I am paying for and for me it works. I like the mindset of all the instructors as well as the content of the training. The background of the instructors range from current SWAT, active and retiredLEO, retired military, attorneys (they are good attorneys, not the kind you want to, well.... Take out back). They know how and what to train on and stand behind the technics they teach on the job. In the Med. class, the primary was an active Spec. Op DR. Now he knew his stuff when it came to battlefield wounds. My wife has been to most of the classes with me and they take the time to coach her when she or anyone needs it. Most of the time the ratio is 2-3 students to one instructor. You get personalized instruction. Top notch origination, that's why they get my hard earned money.

I would argue that taking good notes helps you learn. Just the act of sitting down and writing what you learned that day makes you think about it in a different way. It also helps you analyze what you've learned so you can figure out how to explain it on paper. Then when you get home you have notes of the drills you've performed and skills you learned so you are less likely to lose them over time. I would encourage you to try it at your next class.

Have you taken all of the rifle classes or just the first one? When I signed up for the Active Shooter, I really wanted the rifle class. I got in but it was full before my training partner could sign up, so we switched. I would love to hear about your experiences there.

I agree about the attitude of the instructors. They have some of the more laid back instructors out of most of the schools I've gone to. They are a good bunch of folks and easy to get along with. Another thing I like is they have a unique perspective on some things. Their methods are their own, and they have a solid reasoning behind what they teach. I don't always agree with it 100%, but I like having seen that perspective. And they do teach good methods. It is also why I like training at different schools or with different instructors. I get a more diverse set of tools to take home and make my own or save for later.
 

indychad

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The first rifle class I took was when they only had one class, the other times have been to Tac 1. As for the notes, I would agree that writing the material on paper imprints it better in ones memory. My training buddy and i discuss everything from that day and the pros and cons of each tactic and how each works for us. That helps us retain the material. Another great thing that helps to retain the skills and improve them is that I happen to have a range in my back yard. 6 steels, plate rack, hanging paper and a 200 yrd. rifle range. That helps because I can move, lay down, work in the rain, snow or whatever I want. I am looking into other training facilities closer to home so that I can take my father with me and so that I add tools to the toolbox. A lot of good reviews on here of local trainers.
 

Jackson

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Another great thing that helps to retain the skills and improve them is that I happen to have a range in my back yard. 6 steels, plate rack, hanging paper and a 200 yrd. rifle range. That helps because I can move, lay down, work in the rain, snow or whatever I want.

I am envious. It is a long-term goal of mine to be able to buy such a place. You are fortunate to have such a place.
 
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