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American Defense Enterprises: Epic Facepalm In 3 Parts

So this weekend, Tam was kind enough to point us to a yootoob showing off the stunning martial feats of a bunch of disorganized clownshoes calling themselves American Defense Enterprises. The amount of fail and buffoonery in this single video could be blogfodder for weeks, but I’ll try and keep it short. Hopefully this will help y’all avoid dangerous shooting schools in the future.

This video is in a 3 minute nutshell, every caveat and buyer beware you could want to avoid when shopping for professional firearms instruction. ADE aces my trainer bullshit detection checklist:

- Ratings and comments disabled on YouTube videos, no public forum, or dissenting opinions rapidly squashed on a forum by a gang of uncritical nuthuggers.
- Emphasis on who they have supposedly trained, not whom they have trained under. Legitimate trainers are all constantly learning from each other, as our art is an open, collaborative process, not a secret handed down from the mountain by a guru.
- Excessive guru worship, not invented here syndrome.
- Emphasis on guru qualifications, but handwaving the details. So Bill Beasley was supposedly in the special forces in some manner. When? Where? Who served with him? You won’t find out from ADE!
- Poor or nonexistent range safety.
- Non sequitors or ad hominiems defending poor or nonexistent range safety
- Students running team drills with people they have never met before.
- Emphasis on flashy drills and tactics while disregarding the fundamentals of shooting.

But let’s get to that video, shall we?

[Important update! While the original has disappeared down the memory hole, the internets is forever and a new and improved version lives on here!]

1. Drills Are Not Scenarios, And Scenarios Are Not Drills

The first thing that really puzzled the crap out of me (apart from the 30 year old doctrinal stances, more sweeping than a curling match and many other safety violations) was this curious exercise at 1:05.

Stop, drop and ... what?

As you can see, two shooters are standing facing the target, then all at once, the front shooter drops to the ground, both shooters draw their pistols, and they both shoot the target. Disregarding the obvious safety rule fails here (but I’ll come back to it later), I cannot for the life of me figure out what this drill is supposed to teach. If it’s designed to hone a particular skillset, say, shooting a target after getting knocked to the ground, why is the rear shooter there endangering the life of the forward shooter? If it’s to rehearse a tactic, under what conditions would it be a good idea to drop to the deck in front of a close threat?

This kind of doctrinal sloppiness shows up in poorly run schools with insufficiently thought out curriculum, or cribbed from better schools without a fundamental understanding of the material. There is a big difference between shooting drills and shooting a scenario. We repeatedly shoot drills (which are by nature usually unrealistic in context) in order to develop shooting skills. We don’t expect to have to transition to our sidearm 30 times in a row, but the Meltdown drill is still extremely useful for hammering the rifle to pistol transition into shape.

We then put our thinking skills to the test in a scenario, where we attempt to solve a problem with the shooting skills we’ve learned. Scenarios are sometimes roleplayed by other instructors, or have some element of theater to them. We might also rehearse a common tactic that we expect to use in the future. But the point to a scenario is not to repeatedly run through the test until we get it right, but to run through a test to get it wrong, to harshly show what we need to work on.

Approaching firearms training like a grocery list (“Okay, we’ve done page 1, get ready for the falling buddy drill!”) diminishes the utility of both drills and scenarios by reducing them into rote checklisting. When confronted by a lethal threat, you shouldn’t be running through a menu of options that may apply to the situation but reacting to the unfolding, dynamic situation by applying your learned skills. There are no cookie cutter fights, and “training” like you can pigeonhole your opponents and their actions is setting yourself up for failure.

It’s fun to ace a test. However, we don’t go to school to have fun, but rather to learn something. And we learn more by failing than by getting an attaboy and a cool martial arts title.

2. Safety Is Always, Always, Always Important.

The first redoubt bottom feeding “training” outfits retreat to when confronted with their dangerous range practices is to belittle safe shooting rules as being unrealistic “square range” silliness or to mock the critic as cowardly and paranoid. “There aren’t any range rules on the street, kid!” “We run big boys rules here!”

This is a crock of shit, and I will show you why.

Here we have an event from a few years ago. For reasons of either poor training or inadequate attention to detail, a police officer disregards Rule 3 and negligently cranks off a round into the street right in front of a proned out suspect.

This is of course an inexcusable violation of the rules, and I’m glad that everyone walked away. But what’s interesting to me is that for a few seconds the officer is completely and utterly bewildered and has no earthly idea what just happened. She finally recovers and holsters her pistol, but for a few heartbeats, she might as well have been tasered or flashbanged. If the suspect had not been equally surprised, he had plenty of time to jump up and disarm her. That single moment of carelessness nearly turned a routine arrest into a tragedy, and not directly because of the bullet she unexpectedly launched, but due to her reaction to it..

If you’re in a hostile confrontation and unintentionally fire a round, or even worse, fire a round while disregarding your muzzle direction and drill a family member, friend, or uninvolved innocent, do you think you’ll be able to recover from the shock and confusion before your opponents act on your hesitation?

Cool flag, bro.

The Four Rules aren’t just for practice or the range. They’re even more important in a self defense situation because the stakes are so much higher. Your safe gun handling means the difference between life and death, not just for the people downrange of you, but for yourself as well. Legitimate trainers understand this and will begin instruction by emphasizing safety and enforce safe habits throughout the class. Frauds won’t let a little matter like range safety get in the way of puffing up into Billy Badass.

3. Quadruple Decker Stack of Failburger.

Receiving instruction in superficially cool but ultimately irrelevant skill sets is one of the biggest clues that you’ve crossed the border into mall ninja territory from the land of sensible. There are many reasons for instructors to run their students through drills such as stack and entry, Australian peels, bounding and other fancy team drills, none of them good. Some schools, insecure in the quality of their instruction, ratchet up the coolness arms race in search of prominence. Or the forbidden fruit turns into irresistible marketing (“We teach you the ninja skills others won’t!”).

Look at this shit.  LOOK AT IT.

Now, I’m not going to blanket condemn the teaching of civilians whatever skills they want. A person may reasonably expect to fight in a building, and the techniques of pie slicing, and light and space management used in house clearing might come in handy. Why shouldn’t someone want to engage in training with friends or family he expects to be around a lot? But these are specialized concerns and when you find yourself being pitched these goods in the marketing for a fundamental level shooting class, alarm bells should go off.

When instructors use team tactics to increase the cool level of a class, you can be quite sure that you will be instructed wrong and probably dangerously, because the point of the exercise for the instructors is the cool, not the team tactics. You’re being sold the sizzle when you’re seeking the steak. Ask yourself, self, why am I rehearsing this with people I’ve never seen before and will likely never see again?

Postlude: The Big Problem.

I believe my readership is more firearms savvy than the average dude who ends up filling out a 4473. I say this not to brag, but to point out that while you and I and pretty much everyone who’s commented at Tam’s aren’t likely to be fooled by ADE’s antics, the videos are slickly produced and look cool to the uninitiated and clearly have entrapped more than a few suckers.

The firearms instruction business has gone from one school in the Arizona desert to hundreds of independent instructors all over the country. This is both wonderful and terrible, since while you no longer have to travel across the country to seek training, you now risk choosing the wrong school and not only learning the wrong things in the wrong way, but potentially putting your life in danger!

So how are we to separate the legitimate teachers from the hucksters? And more importantly, how is the newbie supposed to even know that he has to beware of fraud? While you and I can immediately recognize ADE as being dangerous incompetents, to someone new to the whole gun thing, ADE and Gabe Suarez and Front Sight look pretty much the same as legitimate schools.

An industry certification process would probably help, but I think that like every other consumer good or service, ultimately those who know have to speak loud and long and spread the word about what is good and what is bad. As we see dangerous, fraudulent, stupid asshats like ADE and others pop up, we need to call them out on it. The fight against idiocy is one of constant vigilance, not a single decisive battle.

Bonus! General WTFery:

Mmmm yeah, honey, work that business. Come to pdb. I’ll clear your malfunction.

BLUE STEEL!

Put that thing away. I said PUT THAT THING AWAY. Why are you holding it there? PUT IT AWAY. (He didn’t put it away).

Fix your grip. I said FIX YOUR GRIP. FIX YOUR GRIP GODDAMNIT. (She didn’t fix her grip).

Yes, everybody is shooting here. I mean, at this point, why not?

What, are those ninja knives? Are you kidding me? Weren’t you just holding a gun? Wait, but… Jesus, forget it, just fuck off.

{ 46 } Comments

  1. TomcatTCH | August 15, 2011 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    I love the knife bit. It’s the icing on the “WTF” cake.

  2. Don Gwinn | August 15, 2011 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    We aren’t going to take classes from these people, but we’ll still be expected to answer for them when one of their students stumbles on a piece of gravel and gets shot full of holes. Holy shit.

  3. Kit | August 15, 2011 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    Your commentary made me laugh and laugh and laugh. :)

  4. DirtCrashr | August 15, 2011 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    ROFLMAO! I’d hate to see what happens in the showers after all that luvey-dovey blasty-happiness and gunny-ecstasy.

  5. Mozambique_Drill | August 15, 2011 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    You pretty much echoed all my thoughts about these guys. The only one you missed was the Magic Tea Cup Ballet at 1:48.

    I think the funniest part about your summary is that all the screenshots have the volume muted. I did the same.

  6. ExurbanKevin | August 15, 2011 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    It seems that two common threads are emerging about this video:

    1. Yes, teaching stacking and breaching to civilians is pretty stupid, but if they want to do it safely, why not?
    2.The issue here is safety: The tactics may be questionable (ok, ARE questionable), but the big issue is safety.

    Seems like what’s needed isn’t a governing body, so much as commonly held Standards and Practices that will help keep students and trainers safe on the range. Opinions vary on what is good training, but good safety isn’t up for negotiation.

  7. BobG | August 15, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    It’s amazing that so much bad gun handling and bullshit could be compressed into such a small clip. It’s more useful as a “what not to do” type of training film.

  8. SPECOPS | August 15, 2011 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    Gecko45, come in Gecko45!

  9. Axess Denyd | August 15, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    to someone new to the whole gun thing, ADE and Gabe Suarez and Front Sight look pretty much the same as legitimate schools.

    Am I reading this wrong, or did you just say Suarez and Front Sight are bad?

  10. Chase | August 15, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    “This video has been removed by the user.”

    Having been totally destroyed on this blog, they pulled it. Now I won’t be able to view the carnival of assclowns, and that makes me a sad panda.

  11. richard | August 15, 2011 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the screenshots as they may be the only record of this nonsense. They took down the vid.

    I suspect that you and other bloggers embarrassed them into removing the original video. Maybe you can further embarrass them into closing this “School” before some dumbass gets hurt.

  12. Tam | August 15, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    Not even the elite Mall of America Food Court Team 6 is this tactical.

  13. ExurbanKevin | August 15, 2011 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    “This video has been removed by the user.”

    And just like that (*poof*) it was gone.

  14. Laughingdog | August 15, 2011 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

    Shame they pulled it so fast. I was going to save it when I got home.

  15. Caleb | August 15, 2011 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

    I am actually really glad pdb got all those screencaps of their foolishness.

  16. pdb | August 15, 2011 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

    Don’t worry guys, it lives on!

  17. Tam | August 15, 2011 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

    Axess Denyd,

    Am I reading this wrong, or did you just say Suarez and Front Sight are bad?

    And Tactical Response! Don’t forget Yeager and his merry band of meat target stands!

  18. 45er | August 15, 2011 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

    Ugh. Total nastiness. For those that didn’t catch it on the first go around, Tam has another link captured in all of its faily goodness. And to the tune of Yakkity Sax! A perfect match.

  19. Don Gwinn | August 15, 2011 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

    I am having a completely humorless day. I did bark out some laughs, especially at the choreography, but no kidding, these people are going to kill some students if they stay in business a few more years.

  20. Ima18b | August 16, 2011 at 1:18 am | Permalink

    Thank you for makeing this blog! The wanna-be jack asses give real trainers a bad name.

  21. pdb | August 16, 2011 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    And Tactical Response! Don’t forget Yeager and his merry band of meat target stands!

    Now, Tam, that was the camera guy. He knew the risks, he knew what he was getting into.

  22. Team Sergeant | August 16, 2011 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    pdb, Good write up, steel on target.

    Funny how ADE has removed all their training videos. Too late we saw them.

    American Defense Enterprise and their “Special Ops” instructors now have our full attention.

    Can anyone find me a bio on one of their “Special Ops” instructors?

    I want to know which instructor has a “Special Ops” background.

    Team Sergeant

  23. Tam | August 16, 2011 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    http://www.m4carbine.net/showpost.php?p=394199&postcount=241

    ;)

  24. chuckdeez | August 16, 2011 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

    Came for the dual knife wielding. Staying for the realness. Bookmarked.

  25. Matt G | August 17, 2011 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    That business at 1:54 looks like they stole it from the tongue-in-cheek Freddie Wong video “Time Crisis”. (At 1:11)

  26. Mitchell | August 17, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    When I watched that video, I felt sick.

    Here I was, wasting my time with Ayoob & de Bethencourt when that is what I should have be looking for!

    I’ve been doing it WRONG!!!

    Oh well. I guess I’ll just have to roll with what I’ve got.

  27. David | August 19, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    Have you seen their website? http://www.americandefenseenterprises.com/
    He actually says in the opening video “we do dangerous things” and “the objective is more important than your own lives” What is this guy thinking?

  28. Walter Mitty | August 19, 2011 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

    I would not lump Suarez International in with these guys.
    As far as I know Suarez teaches Skill Sets appropriate to the level of the class He (or His Instructors)are teaching.
    His advanced concepts and movement skill sets are
    (as far as I know) taught to more advanced students.
    By attempting to determine through force on force training what actually happens in a man on man confrontation He is advancing the “Art” and moving past the Static Cardboard shooting range mentality.
    His adoption of Sykes-Fairborn /Applegate point shooting skill sets, Modern Technique skill sets and elements of Asian and Western Martial Arts movement concepts is valid in my view. And is an attempt to discover what Myamoto Musashi would call
    “Fundamental Principles”. To that end I think He is on the right track.

  29. Tam | August 20, 2011 at 6:57 am | Permalink

    Walter Mitty,

    He is advancing the “Art” and moving past the Static Cardboard shooting range mentality.

    Maybe if all you Suarez grads didn’t mouth this EXACT SAME PHRASE (or some close variant thereof) you wouldn’t sound like a mindless bunch of cultists.

    (You only get partial credit for using the word “shooting” instead of “square”.)

    Incidentally, you can tell the Yeager nuthuggers from the Suarez minions pretty easily by terminology. For instance “360 degree world” is a phrase from the TR catechism that is almost never uttered by SI acolytes…

  30. Tam | August 20, 2011 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    (…and, dude, seriously: Capitalizing the pronoun “He” every time you refer to Gabe “Dog Killa”* Suarez is just frickin’ creepy. Stop it. He’s not Jesus Christ or Barack Obama, for heaven’s sake.)

    *Ask him for the details of all three of his “officer-involved shootings” sometime.

  31. Walter Mitty | August 20, 2011 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    I am not a cultist. I have tried to do some research on my own. Whatever gunfights I can find on you-tube whether police officer involved or private citizen involved.
    In all instances except one the the “good guy” is moving. There is no stationary, static return fire.
    In the instance where the individual is stationary
    he uses a co-worker to shield his draw then stepped out and fired.
    There is another you-tube video. An an ex-cop security guard closes the distance and tries to stop the “perp”. The perp starts running draws from the appendix position and using the point shoulder method shoots the security guard in the head(all while moving
    dynamically.
    I did not know I was being graded on capitalizations or lack there of.
    I do not care about the details of his officer involved shootings or if at times he is a type
    “A” personality asshole. I care about whether his concepts and training ideas are valid.
    I believe they are.

  32. Tam | August 20, 2011 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

    The fact that you think the only place where there’s any emphasis on moving while firing is at SI tells me that you have been successfully marketed to.

    ProTip: If your trainer actively disparages other trainers and tells you he has the One True Kung Fu, he is trying to SELL you something, not TEACH you something.

    I have been to classes with three different “name” trainers in the last three years: all taught shooting on the move to one extent or another, and all spoke very positively of other schools and actively encouraged me to go spend money elsewhere. I revisited one already and will be revisiting another next month. (And that class will be entirely devoted to SOTM.)

  33. Kevin | August 20, 2011 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

    Actually I’ve had instructors at Gunsite tell me that the training that Front Sight provides (at least at the basic level) isn’t that bad. One of them had attended a class there. It’s the whole real-estate sales atmosphere that makes it kind of ugly to those who haven’t drunk the kool-aid. But if you don’t know how to shoot and someone gets you one of the ever-present coupons for the basic Front Sight class you will learn the basics at a low cost. (Hopefully without getting you credit card charged $50 every month of the next 5 years for the membership you bought…)

    The main limitations I’ve been told about FS by people who went there are:
    a) The whole high-pressure ‘condo timeshare’ like atmosphere.
    b) The structure of the classes means that you gain no value from the practical experiences of your instructors (if they have any).

    The instructors are going to strictly follow the lesson plan. But the lesson plan isn’t bad. You won’t have your classmates shooting at you or crazy stuff like that. It’s just that all they really know is the lesson plan. At top tier schools you have people who have done a lot more than take classes from the school they are teaching at and know how to fix what YOU are doing wrong.

  34. Walter Mitty | August 21, 2011 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    I never said SI was the only place where there was an emphasis on shooting on the move. I am not aware of any other trainers offering this kind of training.
    You say there are, I am glad to hear it.
    Please tell me who they are. I want to see what they are teaching.
    Since I have never been to any SI classes I do not think I have been “Successfully” marketed to. (unsuccessfully marketed to is more like it). I did sign my Nephew up for a beginners class @$100.00
    and I bought one DVD (Close Range Gunfighting) and one book (by Roger Phillips).
    It is not about personalities with me and I could care less about “name trainers”. I am searching for ,what Myamoto Musashi might say, are the Fundamental Principles and the True Way.

  35. Ben Branam | August 21, 2011 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

    Last commet says it all. Scary place to be. If you find yourself in one of these training classes, GO HOME!

  36. Tam | August 22, 2011 at 6:30 am | Permalink

    So, wait, have you actually attended any classes, or is this all DVDs and books we’re talking about here?

  37. pdb | August 22, 2011 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    Am I reading this wrong, or did you just say Suarez and Front Sight are bad?

    I think if you rephrase this question as “Why would I want to give my money to people convicted of insurance fraud, sleazy real-estate scam artists, LCD instructors who teach down to a rote doctrine instead of up to a standard, or creepy charismatics who have grown an unquestioning following of sycophants, when there are so many high quality trainers as such unencumbered available at the same price?”, the question largely answers itself.

  38. Michael Z Williamson | August 22, 2011 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

    Some guy who claims to be a Nam vet (it’s in his username, which is what all the real hardcore vets do) insist that he’d put these people up against anyone, and heartily approves of the knife technique.

    Anytime, dude.

  39. Caleb | August 24, 2011 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    @Walter Mitty, if you read the Book of Five Rings and ended up at the conclusion that there is “one true way”, then you missed the entire point of both The Book of Earth AND the Book of Void.

  40. Comrade Misfit | September 8, 2011 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    I’d be kind of leery of any school that required me to wear a frakking ninja uniform. Or any kind of getup like that.

  41. Chuck Hardin | October 14, 2011 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

    Beasley likes to tell his students that he has a Special Forces background:

    http://calguns.net/calgunforum/showthread.php?p=6741008#post6741008

    That’s what his school told me:

    http://www.naming-schemes.org/~chardin/bbeasley/email1.html

    That’s what he told me, too:

    http://www.naming-schemes.org/~chardin/bbeasley/email2.html

    Too bad it’s a total lie!

    http://www.naming-schemes.org/~chardin/bbeasley/na-13164.pdf

    Oops!

  42. Reckless | March 11, 2012 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

    Holy shit that is reckless. Faking your background makes it even worse.

    Glad to see more people are wising up about this kinda crap

    http://hammerheadcombatsystems.org/2011/07/06/the-self-defense-training-community-circus/

    http://www.firearmstrainingandtactics.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1390&page=2

  43. johnny b | August 13, 2012 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    has anyone here been to one of his classes? i am just wondering, because like the videos say something, and maybe, once you are there it might be different???

  44. J | January 8, 2013 at 2:18 am | Permalink

    I’ve taken classes with ADE at the indoor range and the shoot house. I’ve stacked with people I didn’t know before meeting that day. I went in first with three behind me. I did it as I was told to and I kept myself in a safe positon as we moved through the house. But I’ve also seen ADE video taping themselves live-fire shooting in a manner I didn’t agree with. But they are the ones in the videos, not students. Unless you train with them, then you don’t really know how much they train together. But I’m not trying to justify their videos.
    In a class, other than one time, there is usually one instructor per two students. Safety rules are always reviewed. Multiple threat scenerios do cause you to go down-range and back up-range toward the firing line and, yes, the students and instructors, but your shown how to do this in a safe manner. Of course you only shoot down-range, but you have to move up range also… I think a lot of people watch the video and make comments but have never taken a class with them and that’s fine, it seems to be the norm. I’d probably take another indoor handgun class. You don’t have to learn house-clearing in order to learn how to be proficient with a handgun.

  45. Travis Brown | March 9, 2013 at 2:49 am | Permalink

    The huge bucket of fail that is ADE is a shining example of all that is wrong with the firearms training industry. It is completely amazing to me that people can so completely fool themselves in to thinking they are actually “good” at something, when they are really a complete trainwreck. It is always good to have friends that are straight up and won’t hesitate to call you on your BS or tell you when you suck, so you can reevaluate and improve. PDB, thanks for your hard work in pointing these guys out for what they really are.

  46. Tam | March 10, 2013 at 11:38 pm | Permalink

    J,

    Shut up. Grown ups are talking, here.

{ 9 } Trackbacks

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