So then, who are these lunatics we need to get moving and how do we find them?
This journey for me started soon after my first formal shooting course with some old school gunsite guys with mustache's and funny hats. Those guys where pretty cool, and while we parted ways on a lot of the technical aspects of shooting they taught me some very real and relevant lessons. They instilled in me from the start a strong foundation for safely handling a gun and appreciation for training. It was in those courses that I met a couple guys I really hit it off with. We would hang out, go shooting, grill on the range, and generally have a good time.
At some point we decided that we wanted to do more than shoot. We wanted to do cool stuff. We wanted to know about knives, and fighting with guns. We heard the term "force on force" and it sounded awesome. Long story short we found a guy who advertised that he taught this stuff and we all chipped in brought him out. We had a great time, and decided the next month we would get together and practice this stuff.
The important part here isn't the story of those early days, or the many paths since then to where we are now. The important part is that NOT ONE of those original guys is still training with me today.
People get lives, have children, get married, get jobs in other states, have life show up in all sorts of ways. When we are forming a training group it is less important that we find just the right people, or people we think will stick around. The important part is simply that we find people and get started.
Never stop recruiting. New people are the life blood of any organization.Welcome them, be glad for them, without them we have no future. There was a lot of talk early on about having prerequisites, that we wouldn't invite anyone out that didn't have X hours of formal training or got recommended by someone in the group. It was all with good intention, and it would have killed us.
I have had the distinct advantage of hosting courses. Over the years anyone who seemed like minded in a shooting course got invited out. That brought a lot of us together. But the sources of folks who are involved now is greatly varied. Do good work and those seeking it will find you out. That's the premise I operate on. I show up and do the very best I can to facilitate something of value, and I don't keep it secret.
I don't think there is a magic recipe or anything to finding people. The folks that want to do this sort of work are a rare breed. Getting people just to take a real hard hitting course is one thing, getting them to show up regularly to get beat on is quite another. If your going to do this thing you have to commit to it. Understand there will be days where no one shows up. Understand its going to take time and energy. It can be thankless at times, and greatly rewarding at others. Some people will no show on you, others will surprise you with their drive and commitment. Its a long road. Understand its going to be worth it.
Which also leads us into another tricky part. A group needs an organizer. Notice my word choice. I didn't want to teach originally. I just wanted guys I could train with. But without structure what we had was a bunch of guys get distracted, going off course, not using time effectively. We lost some good people in those days, it just wasn't quality use of time for busy people who really wanted to train and not just fuck around. At some point it got more and more formal, and with more and more structure it needed more and more someone to facilitate that. To keep an agenda and keep us on track. This was awkward for me in the beginning, but as the positive feedback loop began it became more comfortable. People where grateful for the work I put in, and that let me know it was ok to take the lead.
Someone has to step up. You don't need to play instructor, you don't need a mastery of the material. What you do need is strong work ethic and a sense of responsibility. You need to be honest about your limitations and rigorous in your ability to review your work. I have found these traits to be the hardest to cultivate. The rest of it comes only with time and practice.