Tomorrow, I leave for the Rangemaster Tactical Conference, also known as Tac-Con. It’s an annual event with a huge variety of classes all related to personal safety and self-defense. For many of us, it’s an opportunity to get a taste of what’s being offered by a number of top instructors in the field, as well as to refresh our memory and training. This video is from last year, where I was able to review and test some of my hands-on self-defense skills against an opponent who is actively trying to stop me. With the early pandemic, it was difficult for me to work on this area, so it was important to me to check on where I was with it. This year will be my third Tac-Con and as I’m packing up and making last-minute decisions about what classes I’ll attend, I’d like to walk you through how you, too, can decide what kind of knowledge you should pursue as you work to learn how to defend yourself and enrich your life – to survive and thrive, as we say here at OHO.
Below are my own summaries and thoughts about why particular sessions might be helpful and interesting. As you read them, think about what areas of your own self-defense preparations have gaps or could use a little brushing up. The very act of looking at a class description can spark reminders about a subject you’ve neglected for whatever reason. You might be inspired to dig deeper because something sounds interesting or because you didn’t even know that existed as a subject of study at all. Maybe you’ve had questions about a topic, and didn’t know that there were experts and classes were available to guide you to answers. To be clear, these are just a sampling of Tac-Con classes I found interesting; some of them I’ll be taking, some of them I’ll be regretfully missing. All of them can be jumping-off points for you even if you aren’t attending.
Lessons from the Street (Tom Givens of Rangemaster) – An examination of actual self-defense incidents because, as the official class description says, “Why dream up farfetched scenarios when the actual events can be analyzed?” Those of you who follow me on Instagram may have seen some of the news stories I’ve posted with the lessons we can learn from them. It’s an incredibly useful exercise, and one of the ways to be sure you’re doing it right when you try it yourself is to see how others do it. Their knowledge, experience, and expertise might give them a perspective you hadn’t considered, or offer a solution you didn’t know was possible.
Third Party MUC (Larry Lindenman of Point Driven Training) – MUC, Managing Unknown Contacts, is the Craig Douglas/Shivworks paradigm of how to deal with strangers approaching you. I have links in the OHO Self-Defense Resource Center if you aren’t familiar. This class is intended to explore how those strategies change when you have a companion. The very phrase “self-defense” often implies that we are alone when we are attacked, and so we don’t always take into account what happens if we’re in some way responsible for another person. It’s one of the challenges that comes with suddenly becoming the gal in charge, with people who depend on you in tow, and realizing that your self-defense strategies need to take their safety into account too.
EDC Medical Gear (Caleb Causey of Lone Star Medics) – EDC means “everyday carry,” and refers to the kind of equipment and supplies that come with you no matter where you go. Selecting what that should include, and then figuring it how to actually bring it with you to places, can be a challenging problem when you don’t really know where to get started: what risks are you trying to prepare for? What skills do you have to manage them? What gear do you need to support those skills? What are your options for carrying that gear around in a way it can actually be used if needed? Normally, we think about this in terms of tools to stop someone from attacking us, but we think less often about dealing with the aftermath of an attack or managing the outcome of just a plain old accident with no immediate bad guy at all. Even a short seminar can get you started on answering those questions.
Stockpiling Survival Drugs for the Zombie Apocalypse (Greg Ellifritz of Active Response Training) – A guide to medications that can be helpful to have on hand when the health care system becomes inaccessible. The last two years have certainly taught us that we can’t always rely on being able to get to a doctor or hospital, or find what we need in stock at a local pharmacy. Having a basic, practical knowledge of medicine can give you the ability to more successfully weather illnesses and injuries by yourself, or know when you absolutely must seek help. This session is about drugs, but what other medical and healthcare topics might you want to learn more about, if regular care isn’t available? Might you also want to learn about herbal or other natural remedies for certain symptoms?
Riot and Violent Protest Survival (Ed Monk of Last Resort Firearms Training) – These types of events are very different from the more “normal” kinds of stranger attacks most of us think about, because they involve more people and less individually directed violence – though not necessarily less violence overall. If you get caught up in or near one, what are your options for defending yourself and staying safe? It’s a far more likely potential problem than many of us would have thought likely just a few years ago, and a reminder that learning how to stay safe is an ever-evolving process as the kinds of dangers we might face can change over time.
Progressive Folding Knife (Chris Fry of MDTS Training) – I’ve talked before about the pros and cons of using a knife as a self-defense tool, not to mention how much I generally dislike folding knives in that role. However, sometimes they’re still the option of choice or the only option available in a particular context. That makes it important to know how to use them as effectively as possible, or to know all of the reasons why you should avoid them anyway. The same, by the way, holds true for any other self-defense tool or strategy that you might not gravitate towards or that isn’t ideal. It’s not just about protecting yourself, but being a guide to your loved ones.
Minimum Competency for Defensive Pistol (John Daub of KR Training) – Say you’ve decided to carry a gun for self-defense, or have one in your home to protect yourself from intruders. They’re enormously powerful tools and have the potential to allow a smaller, weaker individual to fight back and prevail against a larger, stronger attacker…but they don’t operate themselves and a certain level of skill can put the odds much further in the defender’s favor. Are you aware that you need training and practice beyond just buying the gun? How good is good enough, to know that it is an effective tool in your hands or merely a talisman that might be useless or even dangerous to you in a worst-case scenario?
Which ones will I be taking? You’ll find out if you’re there and say hi to me, or over the coming months as I integrate what I learn into what I share with you at OHO. And of course, if there’s one that you’re especially intrigued by, drop a note and maybe I’ll change my plans and check it out for you!