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Q: “I’m already a good shooter. Why do I need more training?”
A: “Being a good shooter and being an effective gunfighter are not the same thing.”

Marksmanship is simple, not easy. Simple means not complicated. Easy means not difficult.

Properly align your sights, perform a controlled press of the trigger, and you’ll hit the target. Shooting really is that simple. Fighting, however, is a different animal entirely. Fighting encompasses all that happens before, during, and after your gun is drawn, combining many simple tasks into one very difficult ordeal.

When training at Tactical Response in Camden, Tennessee, I was introduced to the “Wyatt Protocol.” The Wyatt Protocol, named for developer Lyle Wyatt, was created in southern California while Wyatt and Andy Stanford were training US Marines at the Martial Marksmanship Institution. The Wyatt Protocol is a checklist for when in an armed or unarmed fight and can be summarized as follows:

1.) Fight (shoot).
2.) Do I need to continue fighting (shooting)?
3.) Do I need to fight (shoot) anyone else?
4.) Prepare to fight (shoot) again.

In the Tactical Response curriculum, the Wyatt Protocol was taught by using the acronym “F.A.S.T.” for Fight – Assess – Scan – Top-off. Fight (shoot) the bad guy. Assess the bad guy and determine if he’s still a threat. Scan surroundings to see if anyone else is a threat. Top-off gun and be prepared to fight again.

Step one is very straightforward and is the simplest step to complete under stress. FIGHT. If you need to shoot a bad guy, shoot him until he’s no longer a threat. That leads us directly to step two. ASSESS the bad guy you’ve just shot. Is he down? If so, is he still armed? If he is still armed, is he still a deadly threat Continue fighting until you’re sure the bad guy is incapacitated.

When the bad guy is no longer an immediate threat, SCAN your surroundings. Attacks occur in pairs or groups most of the time – just because you downed one scumbag doesn’t mean the fight is over.

Also, everywhere we go and everything we do is in a 360-degree world. Scanning your environment is
no different. Therefore, you need to scan your surroundings 360 degrees. When you scan, you’re looking for other good guys, other bad guys, and places to go.

Then, TOP-OFF your gun. Even if you’ve only fired a couple rounds, if you have the opportunity to re-fill your gun’s fuel tank, do it. It’s better to start fighting, or continue to fight, with a fully loaded weapon. If possible, reload when you can, rather than when you must. To be able to top-off, you must have another magazine (or a speed loader for you antiquated, wheel gun toting folks) on your person.

Don’t carry extra ammunition solely out of fear of running dry. Carry a spare mag for keeping your weapon full and to fix malfunctions. If your gun jams and a “tap – rack” doesn’t fix it, then replace the magazine.

Before we can fight with a weapon, we must first know how to access that weapon. Regarding handguns specifically, we must know how to efficiently get them out of a holster and, if you’re carrying your gun properly, how to draw it from concealment. If this task sounds simple, that’s because it is.

However, it’s not always easy. Murphy lives inside your holster and his law is THE LAW. If you want to see what happens when you need your gun but have not trained to draw it properly, look no further than the West Freeway Church of Christ shooting in December of 2019.

When teaching his students, the late James Yeager, owner and self-titled “MFCEO” of Tactical Response, would often say, “It’s not the great shot that wins the fight. It’s all the small mistakes you don’t make.”

Simple tasks – such as drawing your pistol, performing a reload, or clearing a malfunction – often get overlooked when we go to the range because honing those skills isn’t particularly fun or cool.

Furthermore, folks tend to spend most of their time practicing in areas where they’re already proficient because they don’t like to fail. Just know that your ego has no place in your training or practice regiment.

Ego is the kryptonite of progress.

You might find yourself in a situation where you’re the last person to know you’re in a fight.

Profound revelation, huh? Because anyone can be caught off guard or flat-footed, all the seemingly
mundane tasks and fundamental aspects of being a martial gun handler must be trained and practiced
until they are literally ingrained into your psyche. Continue to better yourself. Keep learning, keep training, and keep practicing the things you’re taught in training. Good guys don’t choose when fights happen, but we can sure decide how they end.

Tune in next week, and remember…

Avoid what you can. Defeat what you can’t.


(Ryan Barnette is not a licensed attorney and no information provided in “Slicing the Pie” or any other publication authored by Ryan Barnette should be construed, in any way, as official, legal advice.)