I’ve recently been working with John Murphy, the godfather of FPF Training in Northern Virginia. I had the honor and privilege to collab with him on revamping some of his presentation materials, which made me an even bigger fan than I already was. While other trainers often float off into various iterations of shooting for the sake of shooting (buhcaws shoot’nz fuyun!), John is a feet-on-the-ground, practical dude who has built his entire curriculum around shooting with a purpose. He’s famous for his jarring but effective use of security camera footage, YouTube postings, and other videos of real-world fights to yank this whole personal defense thing out of the metaphysical clouds and body slam it face first into the concrete. I like.
Last month, John was kind enough to invite me out to the Old Dominion State to taste test two of his most popular concealed carry classes: Foundational Skills and Street Encounter Skills. If I had to sum it up, I guess I’d say if someone could take only two classes before entering the CCW world, these two would likely best fit the bill. John manages to cram into 16 hours more practical training than most could cover in 16 days. Each of these courses checks the bureaucratic box for basic safety competence required by most states for permit eligibility; but they also go well beyond the hardware stuff and delve deep into the software stuff, which I would argue is far more important and more broadly applicable to daily life in the jungle. There was very little of the standard “fire a vacuous three rounds in five seconds for no apparent reason” bullsh*t. Instead, the commands were more like, “so, a homeless guy approaches you and says…,” and then the students just had to deal with it. Every drill was packaged within a real world context that called for active strategizing rather than blind execution of isolated commands.
One of my favorite things about John is his perfect balance of humility and confidence. His delightfully potty-mouthed, no-nonsense demeanor just drips with self-assuredness that (a) he knows what he’s talking about and (b) he’s giving students what they actually need to know as private citizens (i.e., no flaming helicopters or zip lines). And yet, he starts his classes with a whole schpiel about trust. He wants his students to trust him and doesn’t take for granted that they automatically will. He’s willing to work for that trust. As a late-blooming convert in the gun world, I really appreciated that. Far too many instructors nowadays presume the pupillary masses ought to simply shut up, sit down, and absorb the generous genius, just because they say so. John has a more populist take on defensive training. He is a students’ teacher.
John sent out a hefty pre-reading and pre-video-viewing list to all enrolled students prior to the class. He then incorporated that content into his instruction both in the classroom and on the range. That convinced me that he is thoughtful and well-prepared and doesn’t fly by the seat of his pants or revert to habituated or outdated teaching rituals. He covered the obvious bases like sight alignment and muzzle discipline; but he also covered things that all CCW holders inevitably face but instructors rarely address— everything from cultural/environmental factors of proactive decision-making to public restroom strategies for the concealed carrier. The class was not just about shooting but about lifestyle. And after a stern first warning, he verbally disemboweled one student who had a nervous tick about unholstering off the line. It was harsh but well-warranted, especially after the very diplomatic initial warning. And it convinced me that John was every bit the safety nazi that all good RSOs must be.
In other words, that all-important trust that he was hoping to earn from his students, he certainly got it from this one.
I’ve probably given away too much already, so I’ll stop. Rather than spill all the beans here, I’ll suggest that you pony up the relatively minuscule amount of cash that John (under)charges and feast first-hand on the knowledge-fest that is FPF Training. Highly recommended. And if you’re as lucky as I was, you might land in a class with two spunky redheaded lots of chicktastic awesomeness. Murphys and Lauers and Keels, oh my!
Oh! I almost forgot one of my personal highlights. During a short bit on precision shooting, John had a little competition of sorts. Make two out of three hits, and you get to proceed to the next round where the targets move farther away. By the time we had pushed back to the 65-yard line or somewhere thereabouts (John, correct me if I’m wrong on the distance), only three people were left standing: Melody Lauer, a military dude whose name escapes me, and … [drum roll please] … Yours Truly! Can I get an attagirl? 🙂 Aaaaaaand then Melody proceeded to wipe the floor with me in my very first exposure to a mythical, monstrous beast called the “Dueling Tree.” Y’all coulda warned me at least, LOL.
Thanks again for the invitation, John. I look forward to seeing you at the Tactical Conference and training with you a lot more in the future!