by Marty Hayes, J.D.
I hope you all enjoyed the lead article this month. I wrote it from the viewpoint of a guy who dedicated his entire life to training normal American citizens how to use firearms in self defense. Starting in 1988 after a decade in law enforcement, I thought that since I really enjoyed the police training aspect of law enforcement, why not teach full-time? So, I left full-time law enforcement and went to work for an indoor gun range that had just opened up in the Seattle area. I talked them into hiring me to be their rangemaster and firearms instructor.
I had heard of Massad Ayoob and Jeff Cooper (Gunsite) and thought that perhaps I could develop a full-time training business in the Seattle area, since the population was large, and the right to keep and bear arms was guaranteed by our Washington State Constitution. I was single, had all my bills paid off and a few bucks in the bank. I figured it was worth the risk, because if I was successful, my life would be full and rewarding, and I could spend it shooting guns. I also figured I could always go back into law enforcement if I wanted to, and in fact, I did spend a considerable amount of time working as a part-time and as a reserve officer in the years that followed, primarily to keep my hand in the field and stay current.
After two and a half years of increasingly successful work at the indoor gun range, I had a falling out with the owners. I originally went to work for them with the agreement that when I wanted to, I could break away from employment and rent range time. Now, it seemed that my work was bringing in more money than we had anticipated, so in the summer of 1990, I walked away from indentured servitude and started The Firearms Academy of Seattle, Inc.
For the first decade or so, it was very difficult to build another loyal student base, since I did not have the captive audience from the gun range. Being single, I was able to put most of the money back into the academy and learned to eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (they are pretty good grilled). I also had the good fortune to hook up with Massad Ayoob (meaning I started training with the Lethal Force Institute, not the current meaning of “to hook up”). I also sold the house I had purchased a few years earlier and came into some extra money to fund my new business venture. I went to New Hampshire that fall and spent two weeks living out of a very run-down motel to attend the rest of Massad’s program – LFI-2 and LFI-3. I became an instructor for the Lethal Force Institute and have been training with him for the ensuing 30+ years. It was this association which molded my life thereafter.
As I spent time with Massad and learned from him, I learned more and more about his work in the courts as an expert, helping defend innocent people who had been charged with crimes after acts of self defense. This piqued my professional curiosity, and as fate would have it, I got a call in the summer of 1994 from an attorney looking for an expert witness that could explain how an accidental shooting occurred. (Yes, some are accidents.) The case turned out pretty good, and while I never advertised, I did start getting calls for that type of work.
By then, I had also met and married my wife, Gila Hayes. Together, we were much more successful than we could have been separately, and within a couple of years, we had decided to purchase acreage in Lewis County, WA to build a shooting range. So, we took another risk, and another few years of eating grilled peanut and jelly sandwiches.
I also went back into law enforcement full-time for a couple of years, when range construction costs were large and shooting instruction business was small, since I had left my base in Seattle two hours away, and most students didn’t want to drive that far. We persevered and eventually started making a profit, so I could quit working full-time as a cop.
This was 2001, and by 2003, we had paid off most of our debt and were on our way to a quiet and successful lifetime of teaching people and shooting guns when I got a bright idea. Why not go to law school and help out my students by being an attorney, too? I researched and found Concord Law School, applied and was accepted, and the rest is history. Fast forward to 2007 and graduation from law school, and the formation of the Network in 2008.
Of course, during all these years I taught almost every weekend, and built up the academy to a pretty successful regional training business. It was the 30 years of teaching during this time that led me to develop my thoughts regarding defensive handgun training – thoughts that I shared with you in the lead article.
Of course, successful self defense is not just being able to shoot a handgun well, but also to make good decisions, use good tactics and survive the legal aftermath, which we will explore next month.
To read more of this month's journal, please click here.