CCW Lifestyle Reviews

Some reviews and commentary about our CCW Lifestyle courses:

Feb 10th, 2015:
This past Saturday I attended Precision Response Training’s CCW Lifestyle Class directed by Thomas Howard and assisted by his nimble assistant Ardena (Ardie).  To sum it up ….OUTSTANDING course.  I think it important to share a little personal background for the reason I took this class.  I’ve had a permit since 2007 (#5 in fact).  I’ve taken numerous national and local firearms classes for the past 20 years.  I, myself am a NSP CHP instructor, compete in IDPA, other matches, blah blah blah … ad nauseum (but I don’t have a Tactical Beard )  ….  my point, I feel STRONGLY that those who own and carry firearms can NEVER have enough training.  I will go so far as to say one is a SIMPLETON if they think they are “ready for action” once they’ve obtained their CHP or carry their gun like a “talisman”.   This is one nagging concept I leave each of my CHP classes with … are my “graduates” going to better themselves or simply feel “secure” in their permit.   So on to the report ….

The class began with a HIGH priority on SAFETY.  This included a pat down each time we left and re-entered the training area.  I’m down with that ….

The course included both didactic (that means lecture for those of you in Rio Linda)to hands-on scenario training.  There was discussion on what I would sum up as principles of CCW including dress, equipment, and most importantly mind-set.  Furthermore, the topics covered included when “Lethal Force” is justified.  FACTS and LOGIC were paramount ….and there was plenty of opportunity for questions and discussion … all of which was really good.  The four us (nice class size as he maxes out to 6) moved into the training rooms where we spent time drawing our HG from CONCEALED on the timer.  This included facing a target and getting on said target within the par time.  This time was lowered to 1 1/2 secs ultimately…. wow was this enlightening.  We spent time mimicking what has been called the “Tueller Drill” (though this is a misnomer you get the idea).  One of us would stand at one end of 15 foot long room and WALK slowly towards our partner who would then draw his weapon from CONCEALED and “shoot” us (with safety barrel or SIRT gun of course).  That slow walk was then changed to a casual pace.  Folks, 15 feet gets to be a pretty short distance and that is no stress involved.

In the afternoon, we moved onto scenario based training.  Now I’ve taken courses involving such and been “through the shoot house”.  However, if one considers it, most of those are based on LEO encounters, stories, or what THEY may face.  These class scenarios centered on what the average CHP citizen will most likely encounter.  In short, VERY thought provoking and I did a LOT of pondering on my drive home.  What was most instructive was Thomas’ discussion on options I’d never really considered or read about.  The STRESS factor was really an important component as it really made you consider “how prepared am I”.

To that end and summing it up (and yes I am sure I am leaving a number of things out), this class is MUST take.  The fee of $95 is a DEAL.  Thomas is one of the highest caliber instructors that I’ve ever had teach me.  This includes even from my real job 12 years post college education/residency etc.  He presents things in an easy to grasp concept and leaves you challenged to learn more on the topic and reflect on such as well.  Again LOGIC based.  I am looking forward to the second course on this topic.  Folks, we are privileged to have this high caliber training in our own backyards.

–bullitt, NFOA Forums post

Jan 30, 2012:

I attended the Precision Response Training Concealed Carry Lifestyles course (CCW-101) Jan. 21st.

I myself have very limited experience with concealed carry. I only just recently applied for CCW permit, and have not yet received it. I have quite a bit of previous experience with guns in the form of practice, classes, and competitions, but not with concealed carry. I have taken a couple other defensive tactic/close quarter tactic classes that covered drawing from concealment and such. However, this is the first class I took wearing the gun with real potential carry rigs.

Precision Response Training’s Concealed Carry Lifestyle class covered a wide variety of topics. However, it is important to mention what it isn’t– it is not a rehash of what you learned in the state course, it is not a shooting skill builder class, and it isn’t a close quarter tactics class– though some elements of these things were included in places. Really what this class was about every day carry, the things to expect from it, and some good habits do develop around it.

As someone who has never carried a gun concealed, I did not know what I didn’t know.  And it is what you didn’t expect that gets you in trouble. Throughout the course, the instructors asked the students to contemplate the places that they go, the people that they’re with, and the choices the make day to day. Then, as a group we discussed solutions to common problems relating to carry– like how to decide if you can carry into your favorite restaurant (legally), or what to do about children in your family that like to climb on you.

From classroom discussion we moved into some drills that were mainly focused on getting the gun out (like I said, this isn’t a CQT class), and getting the gun out under pressure or with distraction. First we worked on a basic draw from concealment to a first “shot”. (It was indoor, dry fire.) The instructor set a par time starting at several seconds and working down into the 1.5 second range. Since class sizes were small, there was always an instructor to watch you. They offered different draw possibilities and ways to make an individual draw faster.

During this time, we also got to try out a lot of different gun/holster combinations that the instructors or other students had on hand.

Next we did what was essentially a Tueller drill. The attacker starts with a walk, and moves up in speed with each repetition. The last drill was drawing with distraction/under pressure. Distractions included conversation with other students, loud music, yelling, and multiple potential attackers.

Last, we did full scenario training. Scenarios were run in this way. The student participating in the scenario was given a scenario to read in a separate room while the instructors set up the scenario. The student would know things like, “you’re coming out of a convenience store at night”. So, essentially, they walk into the situation as blind as you would in real life. Instructors served as actors in the scenario and the students who weren’t participating watched. Everyone discussed at the end.

Now, there were a lot of things that I found helpful about this class, but there were two things that I thought were particularly valuable.

First, it was EXTREMELY helpful to be able to try out a wide variety of holsters and guns. I can’t tell you how important it is to wear something to class that you would actually wear. Chances are, there is some way to conceal in it.  I found a couple gun/holster combinations that will conceal under a fitted shirt. (And since I am a relatively small female, that isn’t always an easy thing.) I also learned that there are  few holsters that I like in theory that just don’t work well on my body, and I am glad I found that out before buying them. The value of that alone was probably work the $85 class fee. I probably saved more than that in holsters/guns that wouldn’t have worked out.

The next thing that was really helpful was the scenario training. You can never do too much good scenario training. The situations chosen were realistic , helpful, common, and did not ALWAYS require the gun to resolve. I think that is important, because often in classes such as this drawing your gun is always the answer… and it real life it isn’t. Without scenario training it is hard to know what you will do under stress. In addition, there is a lot of good evidence out there that the more scenario training you do, the more level-headed you will be in real life situations

Overall, I really enjoyed this class. I would DEFINITELY recommend it to people who are new to carry, but I would also recommend it to anyone who wants to improve their ability to carry effectively every day and handle a wide variety of situations. I can’t wait to take the CCW 201 class.

— zebra, NFOA Forum Post

Aug 12, 2014:

My significant other and I had been waiting to sign up for this course for over a year. I was very excited to be able to sign us up for class and present this class as a bday present. I went in to this course with no expectations other than to get great information. Most of my past training included range time. This course required the use of a barrel blocker with no range time. This was not a basic skills class, however, the information presented applied to those who were thinking about getting their CCW to those who carry regularly.  What I personally took away from this class: I need to practice my draw, it only takes a few seconds for the bad guy to attack and I only have a few seconds to decide what I am going to do, the power of tunnel vision during the scenarios. It was a great learning experience to witness first hand what the mind/body does during stress. Even though the scenarios were not real, the body takes over and the perception is completely different than reality. This leads me to the best part of the class-the scenarios. Thomas did an excellent job debriefing after each scenario with the participants and other students. Each scenario offered something different and an opportunity to personally think what one would have done in that situation. I think most have a false sense of security when we get our CCW and think that since we have a gun and can work the gun, we would be able to handle any situation. This could not be farther from the truth!

The only negative I can think of is that there isn’t a CCW 201 class scheduled. I am looking forward to taking more classes from Thomas. I highly recommend this class to everyone who carry as well as for those who are looking to obtain their CCW.

–RN4Guns, NFOA Forum Post

Aug 18, 2014:

Typically I can prepare an AAR for a training course about 24-72 hours after the experience.  However, in this particular case with the “CCW 101-The CCW Lifestyle” course by Thomas Howard at Precision Response Training (PRT), I literally needed all of this time since two Saturdays ago to recoup…not physically, but mentally and emotionally…so that I could appropriately reflect and prepare the AAR.

Opening remark:

Anyone who is considering obtaining a CCW permit AND anyone who already has a CCW permit should seriously consider participating in this particular all-day course with this particular instructor.  The experience IS a game-changer!


To quote the course’s objective — “To give the necessary knowledge to integrate efficient, effective, daily concealed carry into their lives”.   There were 11 course goals that accompanied and supported this objective, all of which were an appropriate mix and balance of information on various topics presented in a logical sequence along with participant hands-on experiences in various dry-fire venues.

With the deliberate manner in which the instructor navigated the participants from didactic instruction to actively participating with various handgun manipulations from concealment individually as well as in pairs with a fellow participant who role-played the perpetrator actively approaching towards the “ccw permit holder” with a knife or other weapon, one could hardly discern that hours were passing by in what seemed like a much shorter period of time.  He maintained group engagement by feeding information to them in the classroom setting, subsequently offering constructive critiques with the dry-fire/dynamic exercises in another classroom, and then returning to the initial classroom for further instruction and discussion on various and pertinent ccw-related topics.  These topics included, but were not limited to, ccw equipment, self-analyzing one’s lifestyle choices relative to ccw, practical aspects of ccw relative to a perpetrator, storage techniques, requirements for the use of lethal force, and aftermath of use of lethal force and subsequent interaction with law enforcement.

The culmination of the day’s training were numerous scenario simulations in which the participants role-played a ccw permit holder who walked into a large room in which a scenario was set-up unbeknownst to him/her other than the environment into which one was entering (e.g., parking lot, restaurant, neighborhood, etc).  These shoot/no-shoot decision experiences were eye-opening for each of the participants, whether they were actively involved in the simulations or whether they were intentionally not involved but allowed to observe and learn from what was transpiring.  Without giving away the scenarios, you WILL come out of this portion of the course with a full comprehension of “how adrenaline and stress can affect your abilities, including how you interact with people”, which is a quote of the 11th goal of the course, for when the SHTF.  I have never imbibed a Red Bull, but the three scenarios, in which I actively participated, immersed me in dynamic experiences that infused me from head to toe (literally) with both adrenaline and stress, and I most definitely came out of them with a much greater appreciation for how one’s body and mind can be affected by those factors than by just reading about them or listening to one tell me about them.  The BIG bonus on top of each of the dynamic scenario experiences was the instructor doing an instant after action analysis and report to the entire group as well as to the individual(s) in the scenarios, which, in and of itself, was worth the reasonable cost of registration.  As much as I felt that I failed at the time when it most counted…and I did fail…I sincerely believe that what I learned from those scenarios and after action analyses may very well save my life one day.  In the words of the instructor to me afterwards, “I’ll bet you won’t do that again!”….my prayer is that he is correct…and that will be because of my personal immersion into the scenario at hand that will lend to a more appropriate outcome should that occur in real life.

Assisting with the dry-fire/dynamic exercises and the scenario simulations was Ardena Mrasek whose training and experience certainly complements the instructor.  In addition, she was extremely helpful with the women in the course who were needing considerations of holster choices from a female’s perspective.

Having enrolled in several courses at PRT, I find that the instructor (Thomas Howard) is incredibly consistent with his ability to skillfully intertwine the big picture approach and the attention to detail, not only of the group but also of each individual participant.  He is very intelligent with an innate communication skill that leaves no one behind in the course.  He just seems to know where each person is at with their comfort/discomfort level, and he works with them encouragingly.  Not only is he diligent in how he approaches the necessary training to achieve the knowledge base and shooting skills to be a “master” of his disciplines of firearms and hand-to-hand combat, but he does not intimidate the participants in his courses.  With a profession as an educator in the public school system, his pedagogical approach in the PRT courses has been reflective of the science and art of teaching by constructively engaging with each participant.  Having enrolled in many a professional and firearms courses in my years, I cannot bestow that compliment on most of those educators.  Our geographical region is truly blessed to have someone of this caliber available to willingly make available his knowledge to those who are willingly humble enough to receive what he has to offer.  But as with all knowledge, it becomes a matter of application of the knowledge, and that is the choice of the student to pursue or not.  It is quite obvious, at least to me as a university professor and health care practitioner, that the instructor has personally taken a life-long learning approach of absorbing and analyzing information, and then applying it through practice, practice, and more practice…and then teaching others who are willing to learn.

Closing remark:

As I opened with this AAR, this course should be on every ccw permit holders’ bucket list of courses to take.  Although I cannot speak for others, I would lay stock in the belief that most ccw permit holders would also find this course (and its sequel in CCW 201 with additional scenario simulations) to be extremely rewarding, and most would also realize that there is much, much, much more to the shoot/no-shoot decision process.  I am waiting with great anticipation for his yet to be announced CCW 201 second-level CCW Lifestyle course.  In the meantime, I have sent in my registration for his upcoming “Defensive Tactics – Firearms 101” course.

P.S. I am grateful to Julie Howard for allowing me to “role-play” with her in one of the scenario simulations  ….however, the actions involved with my role really played with me emotionally and mentally, which shook me up for quite some time afterwards…I don’t think I am made for Hollywood (sorry, folks, but ya had to be there to know WTF I’m talking about).

[Sign up for the course when it is next offered…you won’t be disappointed…it will leave you hungry for more!]

–Aldo, NFOA Forum Post

Dec 9, 2012:

Listen to Clint Smith for any time at all and he’ll eventually admonish you, the student, that “you can be absolutely magnificent in a fight and still get killed.”

Not that I was by any means magnificent in Saturday’s “CCW 101” class held by PRT in Plattsmouth, but still I managed to get myself killed in my scenario.

As I exited the door of the simulated mall with my simulated packages carried in my right hand (note: I was bright enough to keep my strong hand empty.  I’ll give myself that much), I was almost immediately accosted by an angry knife wielding man in the simulated parking lot who was intent on killing me with a not so simulated knife and vehemently communicating that intent.  Using my lightning fast reflexes (ahem), I immediately kicked it into reverse, drawing one handed as I did so.  The front sight dropped nicely onto his chest and I touched ol’ Betsy off.

He dropped like a bag of wet cement.  Too easy.  Just too easy.

I scanned the room after verifying he was down.  It was then I noticed I still had the packages in my right hand.  DOH!  Why not toss them in his path?  I certainly didn’t need to have them in my hand.  Oh well.

Knowing that the instructor here is slightly devious and certainly sneaky, I sensed a trap.  It was too easy thus far.  I just KNEW something else was up.  I was on high alert.  The juices were flowing.

So there I was kinda wedged into the corner near the door when someone began to open it.  I immediately turned and pointed at this new player in the scenario, standing less than an arm’s length away.

He identified himself as a cop.  I demanded, rather forcefully, to see a badge.  Having had classes here before, I DID NOT BELIEVE FOR A SECOND that this guy was a cop.  I wanted to see ID!  We went back and forth here a little bit.  Me, insisting on ID and him, insisting he was a cop.

Yeah, right.  I know you.  You’re sneaky.

Not at all comfortable with my physical proximity to this “cop” I tried to open the distance between us.  Unfortunately some folding chairs jumped in my path (I believe they were intentionally left there as a hindrance), I got tangled up in them and looked down.  That’s all it took.

The “cop” used some kind of secret Jackie Chan move and slapped the muzzle of my gun aside and shot me through the door.  (There is some controversy here as he was using a 9mm and there is some doubt that the round would have penetrated the hollow core door.)  But being a good sport, I accepted the fact that I had once again, been shot and killed.

The scenario obviously didn’t go as planned.  Besides the moderately damaged door frame, I was supposed to be much further into the room, which would have allowed the “cop” to enter the room behind me to effect an arrest and otherwise gain control over the situation.  And then we would have seen if I could have responded coherently and communicated the appropriate information without saying “too much” to the responding officer.

There were five students in the class and we all got to run one scenario each.  All were intense and instructive.  It was interesting to witness how each student handled their problem.   Hint: “going to guns” isn’t always the appropriate response.

We spent the majority of the day in class, discussing CCW related issues.  Topics included clothing choices, evaluating your lifestyle and appropriate use of lethal force.  We also got to play with all kinds of different types and styles of holsters and handguns.   Quite a bit of time was devoted to working on the drawstroke, using both hands, strong hand AND weak hand.

For the most part, I ran with an appendix IWB holster of some sort most of the day, which is something I have been considering.  It offers some definite advantages.  It’s fast and weak handed drawing is MUCH easier IMHO vs my standard 8 o’clock IWB rig that I’ve been using for years.  The downside obviously with the appendix position, if you screw up and have an AD while holstering, you’ve REALLY screwed up and probably killed yourself.

This is a great class, like the other PRT classes I’ve attended.   I never fail to learn stuff, good stuff, at these classes, even though I routinely manage to get killed.

–Lorimor, NFOA Forum Post

Dec 9, 2012:

Another GREAT class by PRT. I highly recommend folks who CCW, no matter what your level of experience is. A lot of great info for people considering carrying concealed, and a great refresher for folks who have been through good training.

It is scary how many people take the state mandated training class, and then seek out NO further training. Some state CCW classes are taught well, some are not….. Whether you went through a good ccw class or a bare minimum class… GETTING MORE TRAINING is a absolutely necessary.

This is a great class that I recommend others seek out and learn from.

Lorimor did a good job describing the class above…. I will also add, they had us each work thru a different scenario. You cannot possibly train and practice for every scenario that “might” happen….. That is NOT what this class intends to do (train you for every scenario)… What it DOES do though is put you in a realistic, unknown scenario and you see how well you can handle it, tests your split second decision making, how well your equipment works, and if you have the right equipment.

Looking forward to taking a CCW 201 course and a Fundamentals class with PRT in 2013

—Chris Z, NFOA Forum Post


PRT Note:  Yes, we’ve had to increase our class fees since we first started offering this class.  No, we can’t offer it for $85 any more.  Sorry, folks!