S&W: Ken, we know you have been around firearms a long time, bring us back to young Ken, tell us about the first time you were introduced to firearms? Is this something you grew up around?
KS: No, actually, I did not. I didn't experience, I had never seen a gun before I was 18 years old. And it was crazy because the very first gun we shot was a 7 Mag. It's like this, you know, huge bolt action gun; 7 Mag is a really big bullet and it's super loud. And it was like baptism by fire. It was really awesome, scary but awesome.
S&W: You started your law enforcement career in private security, how did you get into that?
KS: I felt like I had a calling for law enforcement, but I knew that the process to become a law enforcement officer was long. I didn't want to go through this crazy long hiring process, do it for a few months, then realize oh man I don't really like this; because the only other callings I felt was for firefighting or to race cars, so you know I wanted to make sure. So instead of just jumping straight into law enforcement I said let me jump into private security first, get my feet wet, and see if I like it before I make this huge commitment. So that's what I did, and it was it was eye-opening. It was a lot of responsibility all at one time, you know. My introduction to firearms was completely different where it wasn't so much of a recreational thing or a fun thing; it was a job. You know, how I look at it is completely different.
S&W: So you started your career in private security and spent the vast majority of your career in law enforcement. Can you tell us what it was like transitioning out of that and into the education space?
KS: Well, it kind of goes back to what I was saying, when you spend a lot of time as an armed professional, your outlook, the way you see things becomes a little bit skewed. It was a part of my job to go and train all the time, that was a normal thing. It's very important to me that the curriculum that we offer actually will benefit a normal person and everyday life. Making sure that the curriculum aligns with what we're more likely to deal with on a day-to-day basis. Other than that, everything else was pretty easy of an adjustment.
S&W: You’ve trained and been certified and teach many different disciplines of self-defense. What course or discipline is your favorite to teach?
KS: My favorite course to teach is probably a Dynamic Pistol I. It's the class you would take after your basic classes. We have a couple of basic classes that you'll take and then we have Dynamic Pistol I. It’s a transition course, where it's transitioning you from the basics and now, we're starting to learn more of how the body works under stress. What we do is we dive into that a little bit more and help the student, understand what exactly is happening during fight or flight or when the autonomic nervous system has kicked in and all these different reactions are happening inside of the body. I think it's extremely important that we understand what the body's going to do in those situations so that we can make sure that we're implementing the right curriculum and training so that we can work with what the body is going to do and not go against it. So it's that class that I think is really what helps set the foundation for you truly build some serious skill set.
S&W: As an instructor you must have some essential tips you share with every student. Is there one thing you say when teaching that’s applicable to all shooters?
KS: Don’t be afraid to fail. And the reason why I say that is because I'm a firm believer that we learn way more from failures than we do our success. Now we are talking about shooting, so let me be very clear about it, as long as we're safe. So now that we've got that out the way, I don't mind the failure, in fact I would invite it. A lot of people that may hear this, they remember, especially the seasoned shooters, when they were a brand-new shooter, they were learning the basics, and they can recall how quickly that learning curve was. You go from not being able to do anything, to being able to shoot with relative consistency fairly quickly. But after that, most shooters experience a plateau and they don't understand, how to get off of that plateau. What I tell them is, hey, listen, you're at a level where you're going to have to start failing a lot. I mean, you're going to have to push yourself a little bit. There's this saying that Magpul came out with many, many moons ago and said that amateurs train till they get it right. Professionals train till they get it wrong. That is something that has been true in my life for a very, very long time. What I would say to everyone is, don't be afraid to fail. Make sure you're safe, but just think about it. If you weren't having that failure, you're not going to get any better.
S&W: What are some drills you practice to keep yourself sharp?
KS: Understand that the only the only difference between somebody who's an amateur shooter and someone who's a professional shooter, is a professional has honed the fundamentals. The shooters fundamentals that you might have seen or heard about; we're talking about those. The more time we spend on those fundamentals, the better. Scotty Banks, a good friend and mentor of mine said, be brilliant at the basics. So that's what I do. I spend time on the basics, and I'll be honest with you, it has helped me time and time again. And it not just helped me. It is the reason why I am the shooter I am today, just dry fire in general. Just working the basics, the general basic draw stroke from the holster. Inside the waistband and outside, I put myself on the shot timer, you know, in front of the target on the wall, you know, that's what I do to keep myself good to go.
S&W: With as many firearms as you have shot and own, if you could only own one, what would it be?
KS: It would be the new Shield Plus.
KS: Yeah, you know, it does everything that I need it to do and it does it well. The gun that I use the most is my Performance Center® M&P® 9 M2.0™ 5” because I teach with it, I train with it, you know, it’s the one I use the most. But it's obviously pretty big. So, if I could only pick one, I definitely want something that's concealable and disappears, the Shield Plus definitely does that. Now, because of the availability of 14 rounds, I don't feel inadequate when I'm leaving the house. Yeah, the new Shield Plus is where it's at, with a [red] dot!
S&W: What are you working on these days?
KS: Right now, we're perfecting our Red Dot Pistol class. It's a newer class that we've introduced; the world of red dots on pistols is still an area that we're actively exploring. So we're working on that, and one of the biggest focuses right now is dry fire. We're actually developing a dry fire academy. So once a month, we're going to meet up with other like-minded individuals who want to dry fire and learn the proper way to dry fire so they can make sure that what they're doing at home is right. We're thinking about making it like a six-month thing where once a month for six months you meet up with the same group of folks; and we can all learn together, share drills together. I'm really looking forward to the fellowship, you know, and having fun with one another and meeting new people.
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