As I consider the short series that I begin today for you, the best readership on the gun-oriented internet, the Latin phrase tabula rasa comes to mind. I recently had the pleasure of talking firearms instruction with Brannon Lebouef of NOLATAC Firearms Training, and our discussion will be the first in a series of articles highlighting different firearms instructors/schools.
The standout idea that I took away from my conversation with Brannon was how important “teachableness” is for those of us who desire development in our firearms defensive skills. That’s why tabula rasa, the idea of beginning with a mental blank slate, has been coming to mind so often. Most new shooters get this; maybe that’s why I like new shooters so much — I identify with them. The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know, and the more I want to discover. So if you’re a new shooter, don’t feel embarrassed by your “blankness;” it’s a good thing. I guarantee that most of the guys you look up to wish they could start over and unlearn some of the bad habits that they’ve developed.
I divide those that feel they’ve been around the shooting block into two catagories: the “tactical gurus” and the “tactically teachable.” Tactical gurus are the guys who have it all figured out or at least aren’t interested in continued development of their system; rather, they prefer to simply practice what they know. The tactically teachable are those who are confident in a skill set but prefer to continue the education process; they believe that all systems can be improved. While there’s plenty to learn from both, I personally prefer to learn from and learn along side of those who lean toward the tactically teachable side of the spectrum. It seems to me that Brannon would likely fall into this latter category. Below, I’ve included some scanable notes/take-aways from our conversation, but I’ve also provided the entire conversation via video for your viewing enjoyment (see embed above). I hope that you enjoy the conversation as much as I did.
- An 11 year veteran of the United States Marine Corps
- Primary Marksmanship Instructor/Trainer
- A member of the USMC Reserve Rifle and Pistol Competition Team
- A member of local law enforcement in Louisiana since 1996
- Police trainer in Afghanistan
- Worked as an instructor with Haley Strategic Partners
- Holds both a B.A. and M.A. in criminal justice from Loyola University
- A remarkable “laundry list” of certifications, completed training, and professional associations
Q & A with Brannon; let’s get practical:
What’s your preferred mode of carry?
Appendix carry inside the waistband is his preference. “I find that appendix carry affords me a lot more ability to defend the gun.”
“I generally carry in the G-Code INCOG.”
Can you talk to us about “stance”?
“There’s no such thing as stance.” (Tongue in cheek) “I prefer the term position, the important thing to remember about “stance” is that it really doesn’t matter from the waist down, it’s from the waistline up. It’s managing your core and having everything that’s actually interacting with the firearm as oriented toward the threat as possible.”
Can you talk sight picture with our readers?
“What’s important to remember… is that sight usage is generally a function of distance as it equates to time.” Take note that Brannon coined the term “missablity” in this interview. You read it here first!
What kind of sights do you recommend?
“I’m not a sight snob but… Glock factory sights are crap.”
“Whatever cool way they… help you aim, at the end of the day what you need is a rear sight notch and a front sight post!”
What do you think about defensive lighting?
“Weapon-mounted lights are great, but they do not replace the need for a handheld light, they simply augment a handheld light.”
Also, understanding how lights work in a given environment is crucial.
Flashlight techniques are very dependent upon situation.
What’s next for NOLATAC?
Re-launching a shooting range and training center in Louisiana, developing industry partnerships, and beginning to offer mobile classes again are all just around the corner.
- Come to class with an open mind.
- Getting your carry permit “is the first step in a long journey.”
- “Training teaches you to practice.”
- Ultimately, you’ll buy a Glock (wink), but shoot different options and gain some experience before you buy.
- Don’t drink the same flavor of Kool-Aid; take classes from as many different instructors as possible.
- Hit refresh, go back and take entry-level classes from time to time.
- Taking classes will help keep you motivated to continue to train and make progress.
- “It was my good friend and personal mentor Mr. Miyagi who said ‘the best way to block punch, no be there.'” Awareness allows you to avoid trouble.
- Don’t forget that shooting is fun!
- Read the The Gift of Fear by Gavin De Becker, but cut out appendix three and throw it away before you read it.
- All handgun shooting is “one-handed.”
- “Carrying a gun is supposed to be comforting not comfortable.”
- Instructors are just “vessels,” the information they’re serving had to come from somewhere.
(Recommended training sequence)
- State-required carry class
- Level one defensive handgun
- A medical trauma course
- A force on force class
- A less lethal, legal, or verbal de-escalation class
- A level two defensive handgun course
Brannon’s instructor short list:
(Who else should you train with?)
- Tom Givens (Range Master)
- Lee Vernon (Combative Weapon Solutions)
- Kerry “Pocket Doc” Davis (Dark Angel Medical)
- Craig “Southnarc” Douglas
- Kyle Lamb
- Travis Haley
- Ron Avery
- Larry Vickers