by Gila Hayes

As September fades into its final few days, workloads at the Network seem extra heavy. One reason September was particularly busy was all the activities that took key staff members out of the office.

A few weeks ago, Jennie Van Tuyl, who handles membership renewal work and ships out new membership packages, had the opportunity to go to Tulsa, OK to shoot the International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA) World Championships. Naturally, we all pitched in to pick up the slack so she could enjoy that extraordinary opportunity. Her enthusiasm for firearms education and the shooting sports is contagious, and we’ve all gotten a little boost out of hearing about her experiences there.

As I write this column, our Network President Marty Hayes and Vice President Vincent Shuck are at Gunsite Academy in Paulden, AZ for five days of pistol training, fellowship with other serious armed citizens, and to soak up a few days of heat and sun. I personally have such fond memories of attending Gunsite about twenty years ago, that when they began talking about going to Gunsite this fall, all I could say was, “You guys go!”

Marty has made our biggest announcement of 2015 in this month’s President’s Message. Bail assistance is a big addition to Network member benefits, and one with which we have struggled for quite some time. Influencing every Network leadership decision is the concern, “What course of action will provide the most critically-needed support for the largest number of Network members over the years and decades to come?” We must serve the immediate needs of members who’ve just come through a critical self-defense incident, while increasing resources to continue to provide higher levels of support for members in the future. That requires continued membership growth. Growth depends on positioning the Network as the top choice for well-trained armed citizens who are deep thinkers who can see beyond advertising hype.

Thoughts About Member Education

I was a little surprised this month when a member who has been part of the Network since early 2009 contacted me to ask for replacement of one of the DVDs in our member education lecture series. He commented that he had only now made time to view the lectures. I was happy to mail a replacement for the missing disk, and found myself pondering the continuing challenge of educating members.

The Network’s member education lectures on DVD are optimized for admissibility in court as evidence of the member’s prior knowledge before using force in self defense. Unfortunately, DVDs are not always easy for members to use. We were reminded of that in mid-2014 when a new member abruptly withdrew his membership upon receiving all the DVDs, complaining that he was unable to set aside the time to watch eight hours of lectures. In what amounted to an exit interview, he said that he could have coped with that volume of material had it been in book form.

Thus, in November of that year, we negotiated a volume purchase of Massad Ayoob’s comprehensive new book, Deadly Force: Understanding Your Right to Self Defense, that covers many of our key member education topics and more. Despite the greater expense of providing a book to all Network members old and new, we jumped at the chance to increase education accessibility through that format.

That is just one example of how we continue to fine-tune access to member education. Here’s another: Over the past summer, we’ve added seven of our member education lectures in streaming video to our website at While we remain convinced that the member still must maintain his or her physical copies of the lecture DVDs for court admissibility, the streaming video considerably expands accessibility for members who do not customarily use an old-school DVD player and television. Now member education can “go on the road” with members who can fit in some education or review during a road trip, whether traveling for business or pleasure.

These upgrades–whether the huge increase of the bail assistance program, or the small detail of the streaming video lectures–are exciting and continuing evidence of the Network’s expanding membership benefits. We couldn’t do it without you, our members. Please tell your friends and fellow armed citizens about the Network so we can continue to grow.

Click here to return to October 2015 Journal to read more.