The following is from Skip Gochenour, the guy behind the National Tactical Invitational.


Study is a zealous assiduous application of the mind to the acquisition of knowledge and skill. It is accomplished by training, reading, research, practice, detailed examination and analysis, and considered reflection. It is a personal journey that benefits from some amount of group work.

The advantage of a study group is the available talent, knowledge and skills spectrum. Each member can and should contribute. A tactical and survival studies group should be formed around a study director. The director should have a good founding in tactical training. He should have life experience that permits regular practice of environmental awareness, situational analysis and confrontational analysis. He should also be able to spot the special talents that others bring to the group. Police are not the only people who learn awareness and survival skills. The soft drink delivery route driver who works in very bad section has learned to recognize subtle clues that warn of impending danger. The director should be able to spot that special knowledge in the group and develop it. Both the group and the director must keep in mind that he functions as a director of studies – not a dictator and certainly not as a guru.


Each session of the study group should examine a limited defined subject. It should teach a specific lesson. The structure of the lesson is a three step process.


The specific skill to be studied in a session must be well defined. A live fire s tage should be constructed to allow the tactician to demonstrate that he can perform that skill upon specific and immediate direction. This step establishes that the tactician knows the skill at a level of directed conscious competence.


The second step in the process examines the tactician’s skills repertoire of undirected conscious competence. Develop a scenario that encourages the tactician to apply the defined skill by recognizing its need in an environment and its prompt application. The scenario is live fire, and should use reactive target systems.


The third component of the session involves tightly scripted role playing. No person who steps into this part of the study hall can have a weapon or weapon component on his person. The role players must be disciplined and tightly scripted. This secti on is not a game – and can not be used as a “gotcha”. The tactician must be given a real opportunity to apply the skill that is being studied. The goal of this step is to allow the tactician to develop unconscious competence at the skill. A tactician can demonstrate that he is able to recognize the need of the skill and implement it in a dynamic interactive environment.


Video tape tacticians as they proceed through the stages. An important part of the study session is an immediate group review of the individual performances. Individual and collective reflection and analysis will help imbed the studied skill in each of the group members.


A study group lesson might involve immediate and explosive seeking available cover. Detailed study of incidents and conversations with violent criminals reveals that (1) anything can stop a handgun round and (2) your reaction to a threat must be immediate and explosive.

Set up the skill drill with IPSC targets. Have the tactician start at hand shake distance from the target. Place items of available cover in the environment. Indicate a threat. Have the tactician seek cover and engage the target. Keep the time very tight – three seconds. The purpose of the tight times is to replicate real world times, and reinforce the concept of explosiveness. Score the targets as neutralized using Rick Millers Paladin System.

Next, set up a scenario. Use 3-D reactive targets. (Delta / Redl or contact A.T.S.A.) If you have nothing else, try pepper poppers covered with Killer Ken by Simulaids. Set the target array so that as the tactician locates them he must immediately find and use cover.

Finally, set up a similar scenario using role players who have been scripted on the lesson goal. Detail search a study hall and all people in it. Remove all weapons, ammo, or their components. Anyone who steps out of the secured area is researched. Use Red Gun training weapons or paint ball guns. Allow a scripted dynamic interaction between the role players and the tactician. Record the tacticians reaction to the presented threat.


Talk with other study groups. The Internet allows easy communication of information and lesson strategy. A.T.S.A. will list your group on our Web site so that others can find you.

Study hard, then test yourself. Come to the N.T.I.