Training to Fight with a Gun at Tactical Response

by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

May 7th, 2012





Click pictures for a larger version.



James Yeager, CEO of Tactical Response.



Dave Biggers lectures in the classroom.



Gary Cooper lectures on tactical anatomy.



On the range, safety is stressed at all times.

Training is the one area in which most gun owners are sorely lacking. This is just human nature, and is not limited to firearms skills. In most any sport, there are those who are serious enough to put in the time, effort, and money required for good training, but there are many more who will not do so. A golfer seems to always think that buying that better set of clubs will knock a few strokes off his score. A basketball player wants those cool shoes that will let him jump higher. Yet neither of these fellows will put in the time and effort get the training to develop the skills of a top-notch player, instead trying to buy their way into the winner’s circle. Lacking the necessary skills in a silly game will cost you the game, but lacking the skills to defend yourself and your loved ones carries a much greater penalty.

Many folks these days are choosing to go heeled, carrying a firearm as they go about their daily lives. This is a good thing, but if they lack the necessary skills to use that weapon when needed, it is money, and blood, wasted. The first rule of a gunfight is to have a gun. The gun needs to be within reach when needed. This means having a gun that can ALWAYS be with you. If you drive a truck for a living, you can probably keep a short shotgun beside the seat. If you are cursed with having to wear a business suit, you can, with the proper holster, carry an effective fighting handgun well-hidden from view. If you are a swimsuit model, you will likely have to choose something smaller than a full-sized Glock, but whatever you carry, you must know how to use it, or you have wasted your money on a weapon that will never leave its holster when you need it the most.

If you are a law enforcement officer, you have an advantage over most of us. You were, hopefully, given at least a minimum amount of training before being issued a badge and a cruiser. If you think you might be in a dangerous situation, you can have your weapon in hand. However, for most of us, we will lose our carry license and our freedom if we pull a gun without an imminent threat of danger, so we must keep the weapon hidden until needed.

We carry a gun to resolve the gravest of social conflicts. We carry a gun to protect ourselves and those whom we are obligated to protect. Bear in mind that the police are not obligated to protect you. The police in our nation do a good job, but in most cases, they arrive after the crime has either been committed or thwarted. If you are the target of a violent attack for which you are not prepared, if you are lucky, the police will take a report from you. If you are not so lucky, they will draw a chalk line around your lifeless corpse. You are obligated to take care of you.

If the above is distasteful to you, that is good. No sane person wants to have to take a human life, but in reality, that is why we carry a concealed weapon. If we can use that weapon to prevent a violent attack, that is perfectly fine. Report the crime, and let the police chase down the attacker. However, we load the magazine with the best ammunition that we can buy for a reason.

Be sure that if you are the victim of an attack, your response must be swift and violent, if you are to have a chance of survival. Your attacker has had plenty of time to plan the attack, to choose the time, to choose the place, and to select the victim. He will do everything possible to catch you off your guard. Your response will only be a reaction to his action. He has every advantage, and sometimes even has the advantage of numbers.

Most who carry a firearm for defense have so little training that it is pretty much useless. Even if you had to “show proficiency” to get your carry license, you probably only had to make a few holes in the target, standing squarely on a well-lighted range shooting at a target from seven to twenty-one yards. If some goober-smoocher is standing twenty yards away holding a knife and waiting for us to make a move, most of us could handle the situation. However, that is not how it works in the real world. Your attacker has likely done this before, and the stupidest ones are eliminated early in their careers. It is much more likely that you will be grabbed from behind and a knife be thrust into your torso. How would you handle that situation? What if you are knocked onto the ground? What if your attacker is beating the life out of you with a ball bat? Shooting at a paper target at twenty yards on a brightly-lit indoor range will not prepare you for a real world fight. If you are going to carry in the real world, you must prepare to fight in the real world.

There are several good training facilities around our nation and world, but there are many others which greatly fall short. The facility featured here is one of only a few that I would recommend. It is Tactical Response in Camden, Tennessee. James Yeager and his associates give real-world training, both at the home location and at remote locations around the world. On the day that we visited Tactical Response to shoot this video, Dave Biggers was training students in his “Red Zone” class. Biggers does adjunct training classes, and his Red Zone class stressed up close and personal fighting with a handgun. His associate, Gary Cooper, taught the students the anatomy of a gunfight, stressing the importance of knowing the angle of the bullet’s path to the vital organs, and the real location of those organs. Biggers’ Red Zone class also placed a lot of emphasis upon the real-world environment in which one might be forced to shoot. Dave’s range is three-dimensional, with “shoot” and “no-shoot” targets interspaced on the range. This stresses the importance of knowing what is both in front of and behind the target, as once the bullet leaves the gun, you can’t call it back. The bullet does not discriminate between a crazed killer and a baby in a stroller. You own every bullet that leaves the muzzle of your gun, and are gravely responsible for where it lands.

I am not a trainer. Different trainers teach different methods. No one method is “the best”, with others being useless. However, it is as ridiculous to think that owning a gun gives you the ability to use it as it is to think that owning a scalpel makes you a surgeon. The gun and the scalpel are merely tools. The training that is received on the use of those tools are what makes them useful. The video that we shot at Tactical Response shows only a glimpse of the level of training offered. Biggers’ Red Zone class was a full day, with most of it spent on the range. Tactical Response offers classes in the use of handgun, rifle, and shotgun, with classes running from one to five days.

Choosing the right weapon, the right ammo, and the right holster are good steps on the way to being prepared for the most unpleasant of social conflicts. However, without good, effective, expert training, you are severely lacking in the skills necessary to defend your life.

Check out Tactical Response online for a schedule of classes offered at

Contact David Biggers by email at

Jeff Quinn

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Range time includes plenty of one-on-one instruction.