Establishing a Dominance Paradigm

Hello all! Hope everyone is well-rested and your new year has started off with a bang. As for me, as of January 2nd I am now thirty-seven years young and super-excited to go barreling into 2015.

Last weekend I and the pleasure of attending a pilot class with Tom Givens, Craig Douglas (a/k/a “Southnarc”), and William Aprill in Shawnee, Oklahoma. The class was called “Establishing a Dominance Paradigm.” Ok, I admit: technically, I wasn’t a student. I was the one behind the camera in most of these photos and videos. However, I learned a TON of cool sh*t nonetheless.

If you’ve never sat in on a lecture from Dr. Aprill, you are ex-communicated from the cool kids’ club. With his unique background of mental health expertise, law enforcement experience, and defensive firearms prowess, his insight is always a treat. William has a way of getting into the human psyche and shining a big bright spotlight on all the funky stuff going on in there. Over our three days and 30+ hours together, damn near twelve of those hours were spent hearing William explain why we do what we do and why bad guys do what they do. It was jam-packed with “things that make you go, hmmmm” moments. He dove pretty deep into the weeds on a lot of issues that might seem intuitive but become a lot more practically wieldy with a bit of professional explanation and context.

The afternoons were split between range time with Tom and scenario-based training with The Infamous Southnarc (note the capitalization … which is required). Tom started the guys off (yep, sadly, it was all guys) with 25-yard bullseye shots, cold. (There were no warm up drills, but it was also cold literally. Freezing in fact. Still trying to figure out if Tom arranged that deliberately or if it was a coincidental added stressor.) That was humbling for a few of those gents. Later he ran the casino drill, but with progressively shrinking time constraints. Oh, and for the grand finale the fellas had to run the drill backwards — just in case the trusty ol’ thinker had begun to memorize the patterns. Again, humbling for some. He also made everybody run through an entire set of drills wrong-handed — weak side holster and everything.

But what I think many of the students were looking forward to the most was Southnarc’s experiential learning lab. Thanks to the fabulous facilities at the BGC Gunroom, Craig had a ton of flexible real estate to work with, along with huge styrofoam blocks that could be easily rearranged to simulate interesting spatial geometries. Scenarios were set everywhere from an office building to a convenience store to a coffee shop to a train station. And guess who got snagged — very unexpectedly — to be a role-player? Uh, that would be Yours Truly.

First Craig had me play the screaming whiny hopelessly panicked damsel in distress, who is promptly put out of her misery via Craig’s loving sim-round to the eyeball (the only time I wasn’t annoyed by that deafening, voice-muffling, suffocating face plate helmet thing). Students in that scenario had the option to comply, flee, hide, or engage. And they could either try to help poor ol’ me (unknown to them) or basically say “screw that chick” and let it be every (wo)man for himself/herself. That was an experience. Half of the time I did NOT get saved. No offense taken. 🙂 Doubtful I would risk limb and livelihood for a perfect stranger either, frankly.

I also got to play the wife/girlfriend, the super-helpful but slightly annoying and distracting pedestrian, the drunkard, and the customer whose credit card gets declined. Yes, we did have a bit of fun with the stereotype jokes. Sadly I never got to play the bad guy.

I’ve done some scenario training before, but only as a student. This was my first time as a role player. It was fascinating. I think there were 15 or 16 students, and every one negotiated the scenarios a bit differently. And Craig, William, and Tom were there every time to offer valuable feedback, critiques, alternate options, and pearls of parting wisdom for us to let marinate.

Quick side bar. One of the scenarios required students to quickly locate the vice president of a large pharmaceutical company, who was only known to the student by last name. Of the five role-players and possible VPs, two of them were women (me, and Tom’s wife Lynn). With the single, sole, solitary exception of one lonely outlier, all — and I do mean ALL — of the students sailed right past the two women and didn’t even inquire as to whether we might be the elusive VP they were on a mission to find. Even when they did give the women the slightest time of day, they only asked us, “Do you know where I can find so-and-so,” whereas with the male role players they always asked, “Are you so-n-so…” One of them even brushed me off saying “Oh no, I’m looking for somebody higher up.” Really? Seriously? In the 21st century? I must say I was, well, taken aback. At first I thought, hey, maybe it’s because I look too young to be a compay VP. But nope. In the debrief, most of the students quite candidly admitted that since they were told to find the VP, they were actively “looking for a man.” Again, hey, all in good fun, all in the name of erudition, and no offense taken. But just for future reference, here’s my free tip of the day: women can actually be VPs of big companies. Yep, I swear. No joke. Honest to goodness.

Bottom line, FABULOUS pilot class, even despite the occasional hiccups that inevitably come with doing anything for the very first time. I enjoyed it a lot and learned more than I can even articulate. Kudos to the three instructors, Tom, Craig, and William, who are undoubtedly among the best in the business.  I look forward to the class being offered again next year. Maybe then we’ll have at least one female sign up. I wonder if that would have yielded different results on the “Find the VP” scenario.

P.S. — I had the pleasure of meeting one student’s wife one evening after class, and she told me she really wanted to take the class but her husband told her not to. Perhaps dude had a good reason to rain on her parade, but by and large that made red flames and little plumes of smoke come out of my ears and nostrils.