The Cornered Cat
“But *I* am really advanced–!”

Yesterday’s blog post apparently struck a few nerves among the unsafe-but-macho crowd. Here are some of the responses people posted on the Cornered Cat Facebook page.

“…once you get to certain levels, it’s unavoidable and not a big issue anymore.


I actually think, under certain circumstances, it’s OK to dry fire at each other. When I got my training, we were doing this constantly.


Train as you fight. 1

For all these guys, the bedrock principles of gun safety are — negotiable. They’re for other people, people who aren’t as well-trained or smart or advanced in their gun handling skills. Certainly the rules can’t be for experienced, serious shooters… could they?

Well, yes.

Here’s a death that happened as a direct result of that kind of thinking. Tara Drummond, age 23, died on Sept. 13, 2006, at the North Central Georgia Law Enforcement Academy in Austell. She was killed by Sergeant Al Jackson, a man who had been a certified law enforcement firearms trainer for more than a decade at the time he killed Drummond. According to the Cobb County Sheriff’s official investigation synopsis [pdf link], Sergeant Al Jackson had “extensive training in the use and instruction of firearms.” Perhaps he felt that he was advanced enough that basic rules no longer applied to him.

In any case, during the class he taught, Sergeant Jackson pointed a functional but supposed-to-be unloaded gun directly at Tara Drummond’s chest. Then he pulled the trigger. And she died, 23 years old, bleeding out on the floor of the classroom surrounded by friends and fellow students.

“During the course of follow up interviews at the academy, several students expressed concern for Sergeant Jackson’s conduct prior to the shooting. Sergeant Jackson instructed the students to point their weapons at each other while doing drills facing another student. The students stated they were pointing their weapons at the wall to avoid direct aim at their classmates. Sergeant Jackson stated that the students needed to experience pointing their weapon at another person. Students were verbally and physically moved into this face to face position by Sergeant Jackson.”

The report concludes: “Sergeant Al Jackson … was properly trained in firearms safety and instruction. He deviated from the basic fundamentals of firearms safety which resulted in this tragedy.”

That’s probably no comfort to the dead woman’s family.

I don’t care who you are or what you think you’re doing when you pick up the gun. Never point a functional firearm — loaded or not, checked or not, inside a classroom or not — at someone you aren’t willing to kill.


  1. For the “train as you fight” guy: We fight with loaded guns, not unloaded ones. The concepts here may be a little too advanced for bumper-sticker slogans, but if you’re not willing to do the drill with a fully loaded gun, you should not be doing it with a functional but allegedly-unloaded one either.

2 Responses to “But *I* am really advanced–!”

  1. wkeller says:

    I think the danger some trainers step into is wanting to offer “the next level up” over their competitors. And knowingly “flaunting” the big-4 is one way they do it.

    Where they run off the rails (other than the obvious issues) is that other than pointing a weapon at someone – it does absolutely NOTHING to “get a person over” pointing their actual weapons at someone. Nothing.

    For those instructors that really want to take the step of introducing their students to the real dangers involved in a gunfight, they should consider offering force-on-force training rather than putting drills in place that may well get their student killed.

    With proper safety gear to protect the face and throat and a 3-4 round limit, there is a lot of value in actually learning the movement counts, being hit – even with airsoft – hurts like hell and shooting a moving target isn’t nearly as easy as folks believe.

    Coursework that teaches while keeping students safe has value . . . but coursework that may put you in a ZipLoc is just plain stupid. Nice writeup Kathy.

  2. Jennifer says:

    Well said! Yes, I just saw something about this the other day. I would walk out of a class that trained this way. Never, never, never point a functional firearm at something you don’t want catching a bullet.

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