Sentinel Events (Podcast – Season 2, Ballistic Radio Episode 79 – September 14th, 2014)

“There’s these (uncommon events) that occur, that most people do not prepare themselves for, either through training or equipment selection. …While… they are uncommon, if you find yourself in the middle of that situation and you’ve not properly prepared for it, the consequences can be dire.” – John Johnston


 Sentinel Event- A statistical outlier amongst critical incidents where pre-need decision making (Beyond just being armed), i.e. Training received and/or equipment selected, has a clear impact on the positive/negative outcome of the event.

John and The Minion sit down to discuss the concept of Sentinel Events, and their importance.


The Rise of the Sentinel (Event)

I have a bead, tattoos, and a carbine, that means you should listen to what I have to say right?

I have a beard, tattoos, and a carbine. That means you should listen to what I have to say right?

As Claude Werner has noted many times, in the majority of self-defense situations that go to guns, the training that person has received and the equipment that person has selected to use has almost zero bearing on the outcome of the event. The mere fact that the individual has chosen to arm themselves is what makes the difference between success and failure… until it doesn’t. It’s the “until it doesn’t” where training and equipment selection come into play, and it is how we discuss those instances that becomes crucially important, especially when educating people that are new to the realm of self-defense.

So, let’s discuss these instances where training and/or equipment has truly made the difference between success or disaster. There’s just one problem, how do you talk about something that there is no word for? We’ve got these things that are occurring, sometimes with great frequency, that for our purposes, literally shape the course of history yet we have no way to categorize them, or group them together. To paraphrase Morgan Atwood of BFE Labs, names have power, and having a term to categorize the events that shape our community can only help make the lessons we learn from them more accessible to the people who need those lessons most.

I’m going to steal a term from the medical community, Sentinel Event, and apply it to our community. As defined by me, it looks something like this.

 Sentinel Event – A statistical outlier amongst critical incidents where prior decision making (Beyond just being armed), i.e. Training received and/or equipment selected, has a clear impact on the positive/negative outcome of the event.

These are the events that rock us to the core, that teach us the most valuable lessons often times due to the total failure that occurs during them. They are discussed as if they are one time events, YET, they occur with alarming frequency. Let’s look at some examples in the LE world. We have The Newhall Massacre, The Miami FBI Gunfight, Columbine, North Hollywood, and many more. These are thought of as single events, and in many ways they are, but from a teachable moment standpoint they are the SAME KIND of event, an incident thought of as so unlikely by the participants before it occurred that there had been zero pre-need decision making associated with them. 

The civilian community is even worse in this regard. A quick search of google will reveal instance after instance of improper equipment selection having disastrous outcomes. Every single time someone is shot that didn’t need it simply because the shooter did not have a flashlight, or the training to positively identify a target before engaging it. Equipment selection and training both are the critical area of breakdown yet they keep occurring over and over again. Even outside of the narrow focus of having a light and identifying a target, there are various examples, often times with disastrous outcomes, of civilians experiencing Sentinel Events. They are viewed as uncommon by almost everyone, yet they keep happening over and over again. George Zimmerman leaving the safety of his truck, Jerome Ersland murdering a robber immediately after he had used perfectly legal and justified force, Theodore Wafer in Detroit, all due to massive breakdowns in training.

For better or worse the culture of self-defense is fixated firmly on the gun as the solution, when in reality it is only a tool WE utilize. There are many fine trainers who will educate people as to why viewing the gun as a magic talisman used to ward off evil is probably not a good idea, but HOW do we get people to recognize there are questions they should be asking in the first place? It is my opinion that the only way to do so is by raising awareness as to how often these “farfetched, ramboesque, timmy-fantasy, tactical band camp” issues occur. Imagine if every time one of these events occur we call it a Sentinel Event, to the point where it is just a forgone part of the self-defense/firearms community. What we then do is INSTILL in people from day one of their introduction into our culture that there are things to think about beyond just having a gun, simply by making the term part of the conversation.

“It’s easy to be up ahead, and say that “those who want to, who ‘get it’, will join us”, but its not always the case; Some people will simply sit down and wait, or stagnate, for lack of a trail guide. Not everyone who is serious about self protection is a pioneering spirit, or free-thinker; They just don’t want to die. And until someone shows them the way, they will exist in whatever box they’ve been put into, or put themselves into, and never know. Increasing someones awareness is sometimes all it takes.” – Morgan Atwood of BFE Labs

So, if you hear me throwing around the term Sentinel Event, at least now you’ll know what I’m talking about and more importantly WHY I’m talking about it. We have the ability to shape a new generation of shooters and self-defense minded people, let’s teach them to think WITH a gun in their hand instead of letting them assume all they need, is the gun in their hand.

The Facebook Is Strong With This One (Podcast – Season 2, Ballistic Radio Episode 78 – September 7th, 2014)

“If I had to get people carrying one thing extra, and it was not going to be a flashlight or a non-lethal, (it would be a) fixed blade centerline knife.” – John Johnston


Power to the people! Well, the Facebook users, anyways. Some last minute circumstances, in combination with the phone lines being down, allowed us to devote this show entirely to answering questions submitted by our Facebook fans. We get the chance to talk about all sorts of things, such as; weapon mounted lights, defense against canines, concealed carry for seniors, carrying and storage of a long gun in a vehicle, and a plethora of other topics. Are we able to successfully slap a show together last minute? Listen and find out.

Police Militarization and You (Podcast – Season 2, Ballistic Radio Episode 77 – August 31st, 2014)

“…Freedom and liberty are different. Liberty is freedom restrained by the rights of others. And that restraint has to exist with armed force. There’s no other way to create that restraint. And if (people are) not willing to have the police do what’s necessary, within reason and our Bill of Rights, to restrain that freedom so that your liberty can exist intact, who exactly do you expect to do it?” – John Chapman


For this episode John Chapman of LMS Defense joins us to discuss the perceived militarization of the police. John talks about why the public perception has shifted towards “militarization”, and how it’s actually more or a specialization to catch up with new threats. John and Chappy talk about police training and how public misinformation fed by Hollywood and the Media has a negative effect on the public’s attitude towards police.  And, not to be confused with a popular kids attraction nearby in our hometown, entertrainment is brought up and the impact it has had in recent years on the shooting community.

Threat Management For The Armed Citizen (Podcast – Season 2, Ballistic Radio Episode 76 – August 24th, 2014)

“…I think it’s presumptuous of me to tell people what their options and their circumstances and their responses should be because I don’t know what their situation is… What I do like to do is to pose the questions that people should be asking themselves (when) deriving their own answers to those questions…” – Claude Werner


Once again the “Tactical Professor”, Claude Werner joins us. The topic of threat management for the armed citizen is discussed in detail, with special attention being paid to pre-need decision making and planning, as well as how to tailor our training to recognize and handle ambiguity more robustly. The concept of decision cascades, either from good or bad decision making, is discussed. The value of training, as a way to overcome the poor decision cascade, is highlighted, as is the thought that training as if shots will definitely need to be fired can set us up for tragedy once ambiguity/stress is introduced into a situation.

Drop the Ego (Podcast – Season 2, Ballistic Radio Episode 75 – August 17th, 2014)

“I would say in the shooting/training industry, the biggest thing is drop the ego. When people (say) I’m doing this because I’m from here or this guy told me to do it. That doesn’t necessarily mean that that’s the best way to do things.” – Kyle Defoor


We’re pleased to have former Navy seal, Kyle Defoor join us for this episode of Ballistic Radio. Kyle talks about combat accuracy and gives his opinion on what it actually means. John and Kyle discuss the media’s portrayal of getting shot and how we react to it vs. what may actually happen in reality.  As well,  they delve into unimportance/importance of gear selection and making sure you do your own research. Kyle also stresses the importance of being able to drop your ego in order to enhance your training.

Home Defense, or Why Steve Fisher Thinks the Internet Is Stupid (Podcast – Season 2, Ballistic Radio Episode 74 – August 10th, 2014)

“What they really need to understand is; what tools they have available to them, what the best tools are for that application, the ballistics of those tools, …structural layout, how to reinforce the home, to add layers such as alarms, dogs, lights, all those things that are always talked about… any kind (of layer) that you can get that gives you notice is a benefit.” – Steve Fisher

Steve Fisher joins us once again for this episode of Ballistic Radio as we explore the topic of firearms selection for home defense. Steve discusses things to consider when choosing between one of the main home defense weapons (handgun, shotgun, or long rifle), such as bullet penetration though walls and weapon manipulation when moving about your home. He emphasizes the importance of  getting to your loved ones in the event of a home invasion as a top priority, yet making sure you remain in the space that you control. Additionally, John and Steve talk about the importance of  doing your own research rather then relying on the uneducated opinions of others. 

Reactionary Violence (Podcast – Season 2, Ballistic Radio Episode 73 – August 3rd, 2014)

“Whether we like it or not you have to figure out a way to motivate yourself to get home to your loved ones. …After I get them through the training, after I get them to understand the violence, after I get them to understand how fast things fall apart, how fast this cascade begins, we get them to understand it’s ok to go (be violent). Its actually ok to punch somebody or pepper spray them as an opening volley.” – Paul Sharp


For this episode we talk with Paul Sharp from Sharp Defense about reactionary violence. We address several things that the private citizen should understand about any potential violent encounter, including the differences between violent criminal actors and civilians. Additionally the problem of getting good people to react violently enough, quickly enough, without over reacting, is examined in depth. Finally we end with the discussion on how do trainers effectively motivate good people to successfully defend themselves during a violent encounter.

Dynamic Duo, Avenger Initiative (Podcast – Season 2, Ballistic Radio Episode 72 – July 27th, 2014)

“If you trained people to be rapid, pressure adaptive thinkers by teaching them the process of an OODA loop, you can resist the temptation to get stuck in a schema or in a paradigm that doesn’t fit the circumstance. If your schema is impermeable to new data, you’re stuck.”  -William Aprill

This episode has two guests! Dr. Sherman House and THE William Aprill join us as we go into a bit more detail about the upcoming Paul-E-Palooza training conference. Dr. House and THE William discuss the TPI paradigm, violent criminal actors and their victim selection process, as well as how to better approach training. In addition we talk about some current events, our recent trip to Triple Aught Design in San Francisco, and provide a brief update on the test guns.

Paul’s Tale (Podcast – Season 2, Ballistic Radio Episode 71 – July 20th, 2014)

“At that moment, though, it was too late. …He got off a burst of rounds, and I saw a yellow muzzle flash from his AK47 and just, boom. I was hit and saw nothing but darkness. I came to with my eyes and realized I’d been hit and saw my M16 laying 5 feet in front of me.” – Paul Gardner


In this installment of Ballistic Radio we interview former Marine, Paul Gardner. Paul recounts the events of the 2003 ambush near Baghdad, that left him paralyzed from the waist down. Paul discusses mistakes made and what he learned from the incident. Additionally Paul talks about the positive impact of training, and how he’s trying to ensure that what happened to him doesn’t happen to anyone else.