Running Late - Gunsite Stories, Marshmallow
It is 9:08 am on a beautiful October morning in the Arizona high desert, and I'm already late for my first interview. I meet Verlin, the gentleman who set up this interview, in the parking lot and apologize for my tardiness. This is an important meeting and I am anxious to get started.
After a brief discussion he escorts me into the building and directly to the office of the HR Manager. I introduce myself. As I reach across the desk to shake his hand I hear an adult male scream violently from the hallway behind me. This scream is immediately followed by a loud thud.
I turn to see a small man lying on the ground with a much larger man mounted on top of him, punching him in the face. The big man is still yelling. As he draws back his hand for another punch I observe a large kitchen knife clenched ‘Psycho style’ in his fist.
“Stop!” I yell without thinking.
I turn fully toward the two men and my hand falls to the Glock pistol on my hip. Before I can react further the knife plunges into the smaller man, and then retracts for another strike.
“Drop the knife!” I scream with no apparent effect.
My pistol clears the holster without conscious thought.
“Drop the knife!” I plead again, to no avail.
The knife blade slashes like an executioner’s axe toward the chest of the overpowered man on the floor.
The red dot of my Pistol Mounted Optic appears on the head of the big man. I press the trigger. Immediately he drops like a puppet whose strings have been cut.
“Are you alright?” I ask the little man on the ground. He's unresponsive.
“Oh my God!!” The HR Manager shrieks as he emerges from the office behind me. "What did you do?” He asks accusingly.
“Call 911. Get an ambulance on the way.” I respond.
I have barely begun to wrap my head around what is happening when, like a zombie from the crypt, the big man begins to re-animate. He crawls away from me toward the far end of the hallway.
“Stop, don't move!” I command him at gunpoint.
My commands do not persuade him, and he quickly disappears around the corner. I know this is a bad situation. I am in an unknown building, with an unknown threat, and the man on the floor is quickly bleeding out.
“I'm getting out of here.” The HR Manager announces as he tries to run past me. I grab him by the shoulder.
“Is there anyone else in the building?” I ask.
I don't really want to pursue the big man any farther than I have to, but I'm worried his stabbing spree may continue if I don't.
“No, there's no one else.” The manager informs me hysterically, then makes for the exit.
I do my best to clear what I can see of the surrounding rooms and hallways, and then set up in a defensive position behind the dying man. At least I can provide cover should the bulletproof Goliath return to finish his butchery.
By now the police are on their way. Hopefully with EMS in tow.
“Marshmallow.” Verlin says.
That is the safe word we established at the beginning of the scenario, and it signals the end of my force on force evaluation for Gunsite's 350 Intermediate Pistol Class.
“You went into cop mode.” Gunsite Instructor Verlin Rector teases mildly. “And that's OK. You ARE a cop.”
We discuss the pros and cons of staying in the fight versus leaving. If it's not your fight then do you really need to be in it?
Gunsite Instructor Jay Tuttle’s Rule 2 caveat springs to mind: Do not let your muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy, or pay for. Is my life savings worth getting involved in a situation where I do not necessarily know who is right and who is wrong?
In the end I believe my actions were righteous, but I did deeply consider when and where I will get involved in a deadly force encounter should one arise in the future. Particularly when off duty.
“Did you see your sights?” One of the role players asks me.
“I did.” I reply.
“You are only the second person today who has.” He informs me.
They also remind me that we were not supposed to shoot the role players in the head. I sincerely apologize, as that part of the briefing completely slipped my mind during the chaos of the scenario.
Conclusion - Gunsite Stories, Marshmallow
Realistic, heart pounding training like this is not something you can experience very many places. Especially if you are not an active duty Law Enforcement Officer. There has even been talk of banning the importation of force on force equipment for private citizen use in the near future. Plan accordingly.
This type of modern, science based use of force training is just one of the reasons that Gunsite Academy is still the premiere firearms training school in the country. The top notch facility, experienced staff, and incredible legacy are additional reasons not to pass up an opportunity to train at this oasis in the high desert. And so I ask, to paraphrase Gunsite CEO Ken Campbell, when are you going to Gunsite?
Note: If you have not taken 350 yet, and you have been spoiled by this article, please be sure to let them know that you are aware of the scenario so they can provide you with a similarly intense alternative.