Marty eJournal column pix

by Marty Hayes, J.D.

Once again, I start a monthly column while sitting in an airport waiting to return home from the excellent Rangemaster Tactical Conference. It is held yearly in late winter/early spring, and each year I look forward to escaping the rain and cold of the Pacific Northwest to dry out a little and see how the rest of the world lives, while re-connecting with old friends and making new ones. In 2008, I introduced the Network to the gun world at the Rangemaster Conference. Since then, I try to return each year to update the growing number of members who attend the Tactical Conference. This year’s conference was unique, with four Network advisory board members attending and instructing at the event, along with me.


Massad Ayoob and I taught a course on how the firearms instructor can serve the legal community as an expert witness, John Farnam taught a section on gun accidents and how to prevent them, Manny Kapelsohn (seen to the right shooting the strong hand only portion of the match) taught a use of force class and Tom Givens taught a couple of classes, along with hosting the event.

This year’s conference was particularly interesting to me. I got to attend a bunch of training classes that piqued my curiosity. I took a class with Karl Rehn, owner of KR Training, in the Austin, TX area. Karl is an old friend and an excellent instructor. People who live within a day’s drive of Austin really should take a class from Karl. His website is

New to the Tactical Conference was famed police trainer Kevin Davis, author of the 2015 book, Citizens’ Guide to Armed Defense, published by Gun Digest Books and the 2012 publication Use of Force Investigations: A Manual for Law Enforcement. (See our earlier interview with Davis at He gave a very well thought out presentation on training to win gunfights, in which, as a trainer myself, I am always interested.

Marty2targetsI was able to shoot John Hearne’s class on basic defensive handgunning. Now, I probably took the spot of someone who needed the training more, but I took away some tips and it gave me a good warm-up for the skills match, which I shot directly afterwards. I didn’t embarrass myself in the match, coming in fourteenth place out of over 200 shooters. When I was a younger man, I would routinely be in the top five or so, but that was about 15 years ago. Funny thing is that I think I shoot just as good, but I certainly move slower, especially when going kneeling on concrete. Next year, I will bring kneepads, but, having said that, the competition is getting stronger. I need to up my game.

Perhaps of greatest interest was a four-hour block of instruction I took from Spencer Keepers, inventor of the “Keeper” Inside the Waistband Appendix Carry holster. I have been a critic of the practice of pointing your gun at or near your private parts–not to mention your femoral artery–when holstering. I came away from Keepers’ session with a better understanding of the practice. I cannot say I am ready to convert, but I did learn how to holster without muzzling myself (as demonstrated by Keepers in the photo below). I think there are still some concerns to address and solve with IWB appendix carry before I embrace the concept, though.


Rounding out my personal training at the Tactical Conference were seminars with Andrew Branca from the Law of Self Defense and our own Advisory Board member, Manny Kapelsohn.

This year, the conference moved from Tulsa to Little Rock, AR where it was hosted at the Direct Action Resource Center, a well laid out and excellent facility for this type of event. The Tactical Conference will return there next year, and I believe I will make the trip once again.

Closing Thoughts

Before I write the next installment of this monthly column, we will have attended the NRA annual meeting, this year to be held in Atlanta, GA on April 28-30. Once again, the Network will have a booth, and we will no doubt sign up many new members. But as important as that is, it is equally important that we get a chance to meet and talk with our existing members. It is always fun and rewarding to get to discuss the Network with those who have trusted us to assist them if necessary after a self-defense incident. Members, we hope to see many of you in Atlanta, but if you are not able to be there, thank you for putting your trust in us. If you do make it to the meeting, please make sure to drop by our booth.

As I do expert witness work around the country in self-defense cases, I am forever amazed at the level of people’s incompetence when it comes to understanding self defense, and equally amazed at the poor decisions people make while armed.

I recently finished up such a case, and unfortunately my message regarding the truth of the incident the gentleman faced was lost in the details of the case. (I will not go into specifics, due to a confidentiality agreement). By comparison, it is refreshing to see the competence and good judgment our Network members exhibit when they find it necessary to use force in self defense. While good decisions and competence don’t guarantee that members will not be prosecuted, we do see an easier pathway to a legitimate defense, which may include getting the charges dropped or an acquittal if it goes to trial. This is due in great part to our educational package and the commitment our members make in being well-trained.

To read more of this month's journal, please click here.