Most of the people who attend firearms training after the class to get a permit go to classes focused on improving technical skills. How to shoot the gun faster and straighter. How to fight better with the gun. After all, the odds are that the people attending those classes are shooters and enjoy shooting. The benefit of the class is not just the skill development, but spending the day doing something that they enjoy to start with.
That isn’t all that there is to know, though. While I am all about skill development, understanding the programming and how to program our skills for success is also very important. Answering questions like, how much skill does it really take to make a difference in realized performance? How to best maintain skill so that it is accessible when under incredibly high-stress levels? Those questions get answered in Who Wins, Who Loses, and Why. It is really the answer to most, if not all, of the why questions regarding defensive shooting skills.
Who is John Hearne?
Who Wins, Who Loses, and Why is taught by John Hearne. If you are familiar with Rangemaster, Tac Con, or Tom Givens, you have probably at least heard of John Hearne. That is because John has been a staff instructor for Rangemaster for a couple of decades. John Hearne is kind of an enigma. You look at the guy and think he has maybe been doing the professional gun totter gig for 10-15 years. Maybe 20. Not quite. He has been professionally carrying a gun since revolvers were still cool, starting his career in federal law enforcement in the early ’90s. John is now working on establishing his own coursework and brand. He teaches a couple of core shooting classes focused on shooting skills encased in cognitive processing and also gives this presentation.
What is Who Wins, Who Loses, and Why?
I wouldn’t classify Who Wins, Who Loses, and Why as a strictly firearms-related class. Instead, I would consider this a presentation on understanding ourselves and our capabilities in the context of the stress of personal defense. What does the most current research say about inter-human conflict, and how can we best position ourselves for being successful when we find ourselves under the pressure of life-threatening violence.
John breaks it all down into five segments. It starts with the evolutionary development of people and why that matters. This was maybe the least engaging part of the presentation. Don’t worry, though. It got better.
Section two started to get into the real meat of the presentation, understanding emotional control, how it works, and the overarching goal of training. Summed up, there are two basic parts to the mind: the emotional and rational sides. Our goal is to stay on the rational side of things. Training and practice should be designed in such a way that it builds confidence and trust in the rational mind.
Section three gets a little spicy. If you have been around the firearms training community long enough, you have probably heard about things like Hicks Law, startle response, optimal heart rate zones, and the list goes on. John takes on some of the common catchphrases in the industry and challenges their assertions by citing more recent conflicting research.
Section four is kind of a catchall of other important performance factors. Things like what I have always heard are termed as “trigger checking,” vision issues, and shooting standards. It is a shorter section but hits on some areas that require additional understanding.
Section five is the wrap-up, and while not a very long section, it is a critical piece to the puzzle. How do we optimize our training for performance under fire? John identifies what the key priorities of training should be and some guidance on how to get there.
The presentation runs for about 8 hours. It will go a little longer if there are questions and good discussion mixed in. The iteration I attended started at 9:00 am, and we wrapped up at about 6:00 pm. We didn’t really break for lunch. Attendees ate whatever they had brought with them while John sipped on a Diet Dr. Pepper and powered on. Breaks are about every hour, but at least in the case of the presentation I attended, they stayed pretty short. It is an action-packed 8-9 hours.
Is it worth it?
While the idea of being in a classroom all day might seem daunting for us adults who have moved past our formal education years, I felt engaged the entire time. Perhaps the subject matter was incredibly interesting to me, the presenter is pretty good, or I am just that much of a nerd. Maybe a mix of all three. Even if someone isn’t a fan of the medium, the information is worth the struggle. The information in this presentation is not readily available anywhere else. Certainly, access to the guy that did all the research to build the presentation isn’t available anywhere else. It is worth the effort.