“You left him behind... again.”

The reminder came from Firearms Academy of Seattle instructor Erik Knise and the man in question was Paul Lathrop, host of the Polite Society Podcast and my partner during team drills in the Active Shooter Interdiction Course I was in. The class was fast proving to be both valuable and, at times, a tough reminder to get myself together a bit more neatly.

If you’ve ever wondered whether a specialized class such as FAS’ Active Shooter Interdiction is worth your time and money, let me give you the easy answer: YES.

But here are a few things you should review beforehand:

Things to Consider

Before signing up for any specialty class, it's important to look into the 5 R's: resume, references, relevance, readiness, and relatability. Basically, the academy and instructor need to be qualified to teach the skillset you're looking to gain. Quality training may take you out of your comfort zone but your instructor's teaching style should still fit with your learning style as well.

When choosing a class specific to training to defend yourself against an active shooter, it's important to take time to verify their curriculum includes more than just the usual square range point-and-shoot work. The Active Shooter Interdiction class at the Firearms Academy of Seattle includes training on moving targets, shooting out to fifty yards on steel plates, and shoot-and-move drills. It also involves scenario training using airsoft guns and believe me, there is nothing quite like walking into a shoot house not sure what’s about to happen, only knowing someone is going to try to shoot you - and that you need to think and react with lightning speed.

Working longer-distance handgun skills at Firearms Academy of Seattle.

Any class claiming to lay the groundwork for self-defense against an active killer needs to be up to the task and not be bogged down in foundational shooting work you should already have under your gun belt.

Ask Former Students

With information available at our fingertips 24/7, it's important to check out what people had to say after completing any firearms training course. Most companies and trainers have their own Facebook pages but with Google My Business and sites like AR-15.com, you can easily search out feedback on previous courses from those who've gone through it.

Polite Society Podcast host Paul Lathrop working Sul position during Active Shooter Interdiction at Firearms Academy of Seattle.

Remember Paul Lathrop, the guy I inadvertently abandoned during a shoot-and-move team drill at FAS? Fortunately, he doesn’t hold a grudge. He did have a few things to say about the FAS Active Shooter Interdiction class and why he feels it is important, if not vital, to attend such a class.

“I think it is a mindset issue - why you need to take this class rather than a standard defensive handgun course. I feel standard defensive handgun tends to be focused on ‘stand and deliver.’ [In those classes] you don’t move and there’s no one firing back at you like we had during [Active Shooter Interdiction] force-on-force. Comparing this course to a standard defense course is like comparing high school science to a physics doctorate. Mindset matters.”

Indeed, it does.

What You Get

If you choose a quality class, you'll get a lot out of it. I’ve taken more than one active shooter interdiction-style course and always get something meaningful out of them. The FAS course gave me more information about my own ability to react quickly during scenario training – something that turned out to be positive – and let me know where my weaknesses were. A big one for me was moving targets. Being required to take, and successfully make, multiple shots at a target controlled by another person was definitely an eye-opening exercise.

Lathrop and I wait our turns for scenario training using airsoft guns at Firearms Academy of Seattle.

Paul Lathrop said what he got out of the FAS class was that he now “know[s] exactly how far out [he] can be and still make a threat-stopping shot." He went on to say “I also know exactly how far away I can be and reliably get a head shot. I know my limits.”

Knowing your limits gives you the gift of learning to work within those limits and, even better, the gift of knowing what to work on to improve your skills.

Quality Gear

This course also inadvertently reminded me of the value of good equipment. I had so many equipment failures with the test guns and gear I brought, I ended up finishing my training with a gun and holster borrowed from Mas Ayoob, who happened to be in the same class. In my case, those failures brought out the problems with test products. For you, it could point out a weakness in your EDC that could easily be a matter of life or death if not corrected.

Training should remind everyone of the importance of choosing a good quality holster and gun belt. Your equipment absolutely matters. Ask me about the holsters I have broken during range training and force-on-force work. If it doesn't work when you want it to work, it definitely won't work when you need it to work.

Your Mindset

This is an area neglected by far too many. If you take only one thing away with you, let it be this: do not neglect your mental state in relation to self-defense training. Going into any situation unprepared; lacking in training and without a plan made in advance, is a recipe for failure. You must not only have the hands-on firearms training necessary to defend your life, but you also need to be mentally aware and prepared for the realities of self-defense.

Firearms Academy of Seattle founder Marty Hayes demonstrating technique in a lecture using a blue gun.

Many studies have shown the enormous value of mindset when fighting for your life.

Bottom Line

Yes, you should find and take a good class to train you to fight back against an active killer. I’ve met and trained with a man who lived through an active killer situation in 2018 and let me assure you, he found himself wishing he’d had training he lacked. Did he prevail? He did. While his story is not mine to tell, I can tell you this: You. Must. Train. If you think the bad guys don’t train you’re dead wrong and horribly ill-informed. Your training must not only match but exceed theirs, by a mile. So get on it. Once your foundation skills are in place find a good class – or take the FAS Active Shooter Interdiction course – and train.

Train like your life depends on it. One day, it just might.

About the Author:

Kat Ainsworth covers everything from self-defense to hunting and beyond. As an outdoor writer, Field Editor for Bonnier’s Range 365, and freelancer for a wide array of industry publications, her articles are popular with both firearms enthusiasts and the gun curious alike. She has been carrying concealed for fifteen years, hunting for over twenty, and has yet to come across a firearm she didn’t want to test.

Kat will also add 'author' to her resume when her book, Handgun Hunting, drops with Skyhorse Publishing this fall.

When she isn’t enjoying the nomadic side of her gun-centric lifestyle, she can be found doing yoga, drinking coffee, walking her dog Puck, or spending time with her daughter in their Holliday, TX home.