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A weekend of firearms instruction by John Hearne cannot be missed

Hearne has done an amazing amount of research into the brain and how it works under stress

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John Hearne takes teaching – but not himself – quite seriously.

Photo/Warren Wilson

“Myelination.” That’s a physical change that happens in your brain when you learn a skill and also the kind of thing John Hearne knows a lot about. He first taught me the term in mid-2015. I was taking Rangemaster Training Services’ excellent Advanced Firearms Instructor class at a range on rural Blackberry Road near McLoud, Oklahoma, which is only a two-hour drive from me. The information he provided me back then was quite novel.

I was always a B.F. Skinner fan in college (most behavior is learned and not biologically based). Hearne has done an amazing amount of research into the brain and how it works under stress. He opened a door for me to an entirely new realm of information that I didn’t even know existed. Because of what he taught me, I have become a much better instructor. I have learned a ton on the topic of phobic students and the differences in the way men and women learn, especially concerning firearms skills. If you’re unfamiliar with John Hearne, view his curriculum vitae here. Among many other things, he’s a federal law enforcement officer, firearms instructor and high-level researcher.

It was great to be learning from John again at the same location, now known as Meadhall Range; one of the fastest-growing training venues in the central states. Hearne was teaching three days of instruction on Friday, Saturday and Sunday respectively:

  • Short Range Carbine
  • Who Wins, Who Loses, and Why: Understanding Human Performance When Death is on the Line
  • Cognitive Pistol with Tactical Anatomy

I couldn’t miss the opportunity to learn from John Hearne right here in my own backyard.

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One of the three blocks of instruction Hearne taught was short range carbine.

Photo/Warren Wilson

Short Range Carbine

My original plan for the weekend was to attend this class, relax in the motorhome for the rest of the weekend and possibly annoy some fish at nearby Wes Watkins Lake. I had encouraged a few members of my family and a young protégé of mine to attend the lecture on Saturday. I’d taken a few blocks from John on the topic of performance and figured I was well-educated on the topic. We would travel back on Sunday while other students enjoyed John’s pistol class.

My plans changed after the first day. The carbine class was so well-constructed and executed, I had to stay for the rest of the weekend.

Too many carbine classes focus on unrealistically long engagements when we know those are the exception rather than the rule. Hearne focused this class on firearms manipulations and accuracy at realistic law enforcement engagement distances all the way down to near contact distance.

We learned and practiced techniques for safely moving around innocent people while getting into a position to stop a threat. We did all of that without firing a single shot that morning.

There were two students there who’d never taken a carbine class. They both commented that doing so much dry work really boosted their confidence and got them to a higher level of competence than they felt possible in a single-day class.

After a quick lunch, we put those skills together with live-fire practice. This was truly a unique and incredibly relevant class.

John Hearne class

Hearne did extensive research on human anatomy and its reaction to pistol rounds including spending time with a highly-experienced emergency room physician.

Photo/Warren Wilson

Who Wins, Who Loses and Why Lecture

John Hearne is the only person I know who still has a library card. He has and probably will continue to research every piece of information on the topic of human performance in life-threatening situations for as long as he’s drawing breath.

Learning how to defend oneself in live-fire classes and “hands” classes is imperative and I encourage everyone to attend as many as they can. Those skills are substantially less meaningful without the information provided by Hearne in this lecture.

After John hands out a three-ring binder containing about 100 pages of PowerPoint color slides printed on a very specific weight of paper he spent a lot of time choosing (the curse of the tortured genius, I’m afraid), introductions are made. The class begins with the contextual definitions of some of the terms that will be used in class. Note the word “novel” I used in the first paragraph. I wasn’t talking about a piece of literature. I meant something new and unusual. John makes certain students aren’t distracted from the meat of the class by such trivial things as terminology. His research is rock solid; dispelling many of the myths and addressing the folly of some principles that are widely accepted in law enforcement. Do not be too attached to your Sacred Cow when taking this class.

Cognitive Pistol with Tactical Anatomy

You’ve probably heard the term “shot placement.” What exactly does that mean? It is imperative officers know that the generous qualification scoring rings we use in law enforcement are not a terribly realistic representation of an effective hit zone. Thanks to researchers like John Hearne we’ve been able to ascertain the most effective location on the human body that are most likely to cause rapid incapacitation. Hearne went so far as to purchase expensive 3-D humanoid targets complete with a simulated spine.

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Hearne never disappoints with handouts.

Photo/Warren Wilson

Full Disclosure

John Hearne is doing something with this unique combination of classes that no one else is - inside or outside of law enforcement. These classes can be taken together or one at a time. Hearne has done all of the heavy lifting for law enforcement trainers so we can pass this critical information on to our cops. Please take advantage of this opportunity. He is taking this program on the road in the coming months and I highly recommend you seek him out at his upcoming classes at his website here or to request a class at your department, contact him here.

Warren Wilson is a captain, training commander and rangemaster with the Enid Police Department in Oklahoma. He is a former SWAT team leader, current firearms instructor and writer. He has been a full-time law enforcement officer since 1996.