Beginning of a Vehicle Encounter.
When going through the process of acquiring a firearms carry permit, don’t forget that two of the requisites for the lifestyle are the proper mindset when going armed in public, and the personal resolution required to use the firearm if necessary and justified.

It’s not enough just to have the firearm with you. You must also be able to recognize a bad situation, evaluate whether action on your part is a proper response, and then be ready and willing to apply that lethal force and deal with the aftermath.


Bill and Cheryl Murphy own and operate Firearms Training Associates out of southern California, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find two more highly qualified individuals to help you sort out the whys and wherefores of concealed carry.

Both are retired law enforcement officers, and Bill is a high-speed/low-drag trainer who is well known in LEO, agency, and military circles worldwide.

Firearms Training Associates is their original and family-owned company. In addition, Bill is the CEO and head instructor of the prestigious SureFire Institute, and in his spare time, he’s an adjunct instructor at Gunsite.

Bill Murphy opens day’s proceedings with a class overview and orientation lecture before everyone moves to the range.
All those credentials and experience are worthless if you can’t convey the information to the student, and in this case both Bill and Cheryl are excellent teachers with good presentation skills and a willingness to interact with students to make sure all aspects of the training are clear.

Bill leads off by pointing out that when all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. This can lead to trouble for an armed citizen if they neglect to exhaust all other methods of resolving a confrontation first.

Very often a stun gun, pepper spray, or even a bright white light is a much better non-lethal alternative, and the best course of action is to “just walk away” from the problem.

If that sounds cowardly to you, and the reason you got the CCW in the first place was so you won’t have to back down from trouble, then you completely misunderstand the situation.

Walking away is a lot different than backing down, and that thought needs to be pre-eminent in the armed citizen’s mind when trouble is encountered.

This is not legal advice, but the essence of the law is that you may act to protect your life or the lives of others when threatened and in jeopardy.

This, of course, means you will probably be OK in court afterward if you respond to a gun, knife, or club threat. There is another instance that may qualify for Disparity of Force, but a lot of gray areas are in it.

In this case, you must have been outnumbered or the extreme size and/or qualifications of your single assailant make it clear you had no hope of defending yourself and/or others in a one-on-one encounter.

When all is said and done, the threat to your continuing liberty, the nightmare of court appearances, and the monetary expenses associated with being involved in a shooting incident make it clear why the best advice is “just walk away.”

Instructor briefs students on scenario they are about to encounter.


How about when it is not possible to just walk away? That’s what the CCW Scenarios course from FTA is all about.

Once the range safety instructions have been covered, the gates are closed, the area secured, and each participant is patted down to make sure no one has any weapons other than the Simunition® modified handguns provided for the course.

Then it’s on! A crew of role-players handles each of several training areas and provides the student with their antagonist, assailant, bystander, or victim for that force-on-force scenario.

Over one very busy day, each student works their way through the following locales with one or more specific scenarios playing out and testing their reasoning skills, gun-handling abilities, and general resolve.

Student and role player square off and trade fire down the hallway in the Residential/Commercial Interior scenario.


This is a shoot house with a long hallway running between rooms on each end and featuring several intersecting doorways into adjoining rooms. Music plays and people mill about in the side rooms. Students are stationed at either end and must act as the scenario unfolds.

An armed man chases a fleeing and wailing victim from a room into the hallway as he fires, curses, and declares he’s going to kill everyone in the building.

You must draw and return fire as you attempt to help the fleeing victim and avoid getting shot yourself. When, where, and how to engage become fluid as the actors change their movements and actions with each go-round of the scenario.

Just about the time you relax a little with the friendly, smiling folks who are “just hanging around,” one or more of them suddenly turns on you and takes advantage of the fact that you have relaxed your guard.

Lessons Learned: Use what cover you have, don’t get sucked into the hallway, and if you must move through constricted space, do it quickly and with caution as you approach and cross the intersecting doorways. Also, trust no one.


In an open lot with only a pole and trash can or a box simulating a mail box set some distance from each other, drills begin with the student being approached by the assailant under some pretense—asking for a cigarette, a light, directions, etc. The student must give verbal commands to maintain separation if possible, then react as the perp draws a gun and assaults them.

Quick-thinking students immediately backed up to the pole/trash can or mail box in order to get it between themselves and the perp, then found convenient cover behind these items as everything continued to go south.

Just when you thought you had it figured out, more people were introduced who may or may not have been associated with the perp, or who might clumsily attempt to help you.

Once again, that guy with the friendly smile and the “Hi, how are ya?” greeting is quick to get the drop on you when you’re not paying attention to him.

Lessons Learned: Keep as much space between yourself and others as possible. Use any items available as obstacles between yourself and others. Don’t trust first impressions of anyone, and react quickly and decisively when presented with a threat.

Perp keeps bystanders under control as he robs the clerk in a Pharmacy/Convenience Store scenario. What would you do?


The student is in the “store” with other “customers” waiting their turn at the counter when the perp draws a gun, demands “all the money” from the cashier, and simultaneously turns and threatens everyone else in the room with his gun.

This scenario required decision-making about whether to get involved, the safety of others in the room if you do, and the perp’s probable course of action as he exits to the parking lot.

Students had to contend with the situation changing from them being alone to having family outside in the car they left running for the AC or heater while they just “ran inside for a minute.”

Those elements obviously affected the decision to pursue the perp as he escaped, and different levels of aggression toward the student and others in the room colored the decision to stay back or to draw and engage the perp.

Lessons Learned: Don’t get in the middle of others in a room. Use aisle displays for concealment. Keep an eye on the open paths to and from entryways into the area, and be ready to use them. Once again, people may not be who they seem to be.

Some students wisely refused to abandon the cover of their open car door.


The student drives up to and stops at a “stalled” car with the hood up and doors open. The student is confronted by a suspicious individual who either motions them up to their car or continues to approach the student’s vehicle in spite of verbal commands to stay back.

Some students allowed themselves to be drawn out and away from their vehicle by the perp’s requests for help, while others stayed with their vehicle.

The perp had easy pickins with those who walked up to him in the open. Those who stayed with their car reacted differently about abandoning the cover of the open door and moving around the vehicle as the perp either walked up to them or drew his gun and charged while firing.

Lessons Learned: Use the entire vehicle, not just the door, for cover. Try to keep the wheel and tire between yourself and the threat. Taking hits in your feet and ankles because the perp fired under the car may not be immediately fatal, but will certainly disrupt your day.

The Firearms Training Associates CCW Scenarios course is a day well spent for the armed citizen. I have carried a handgun daily for my entire adult life, and even after some 45 years, I found lots to take away from this course. I highly recommend it.


(714) 701-9918

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