Article submitted by Mark Hatfield
Terrorist/Active Shooter Intervention Class
aka Terrorist Interdiction/Active Shooter
Having the opportunity to attend several classes this season, I included this one partly as it was unlikely I might be able to do so again. This one is given by Suarez International, and taught by their instructor Randy Harris. It is not offered on a regular basis or even every year, so I thought it worth driving a bit to attend.
Mister Harris has a substantial background and appears to be the quietly powerful type who simply gets things done without unneeded complications. His teaching style was minimalist and effective. The student body was a small group. At fifty-nine I was not the oldest, however most seemed to be in their thirties and forties, often light-hearted but serious. The participants included both ‘civilians’ and governmental and private industry employees whose work gave them an increased interest on this topic.
The course was held on a private ranch in those wooded beautiful rolling hills in the tippy-top of northern Georgia. Being that the closest hotel was a ways away, I made allowances to ensure I arrived on time and listening to the radio while driving from the hotel that morning realized time zones had changed. I arrived a good bit earlier than expected so took a nice nap in the car. Glad there were some old blankets in the backseat as the temperature was somewhat brisk. Thought I did better the next day but then learned I had been two hours early the day before so I still got another nap.
As the morning progressed I added my raincoat to my light jacket and still was uncomfortable. I had expected seventy degree weather and had prepared for possible rain. With the oncoming ‘Superstorm Sandy’ we got forty to fifty degree temperatures and wind. I had brought ‘sunscreen’ lotion. Not having prepared for this weather was rather unpleasant, though not horribly so.
The range was, well, a range, as in active pasture. Each day a bull or calf had to be shooed out of the shooting area and we did have to watch where we put our feet. Such was never a problem, just added to keep our moods light as we found it amusing.
Of course we shot, but this was not simply a shooting class nor even a technique class even though we did some work with alternative weapons and disarms as well as empty handed means of problem resolution. Methods were simple, direct, powerful.
Fight Vs. Run Vs. Hide were all options and not exclusive of each other. A situation may require any combination of approaches. This includes the concept that in a hostage taking situation, sometimes it may be better to not attempt to resist until the aggressors have let their guard down.
The lecture and presentation portions of the class were most appreciated. Understanding motivations of culturally/religious based attacks compared to that of the ‘Active Shooter’. Understanding how it is that so many of the ‘Bad Guys’ believe firmly that they are the ‘Good Guys’ and we the ‘Bad Guys’ is important, including what they believe is justification for their actions. How widespread and growing this threat is, is not to be underestimated. The guest speaker, Trey Hudson, former military and government consultant, is definitely worth hearing.
Some things done here you will never see in a ‘shooting’ class, such as methods of, and practicing forcing your way through a crowd while holding a loaded gun.
The class did include familiarization of guns likely to be encountered or used by attackers, and the shooting of some guns which are often unlikely to be seen by many shooters except in these types of high stress situations. However, of possibly greatest value were the eight or more scenarios wherein we ‘played’ roles while using specialized replicas of real guns but which use plastic pellets. These allow the users to ‘shoot’ each other, wearing protective face masks and protective gear designed for this purpose.
Some of these were hostage taking scenarios, others, simply murder to support a terrorist cause, or even the enraged person who goes ‘off of the deep end’. The speed at which these situations can develop provides quite a complication, choices of action in response are often limited by a variety of factors unique to each specific situation.
After a situation started, the ‘victims’ had to observe, orient, decide, and act, improvising to fit the need. The results were usually not what would have been seen in the movies. In non-fiction, there are often no good answers.
At the end of each event, each participant related how it had happened for them, what they did or did not do, and perceptions. All of us would have loved to have done more of this. There were many lessons learned.
The class was not ‘rushed’ or cut short, but all students and instructor agreed we would have loved to expand the course to three or four days, to do more of each thing which we did. I’d go back again.