I came across Dave Spaulding and his Handgun Combatives courses late in his career—much to my regret. My first class with Dave was eye-opening. Dave is one of those unique individuals who can perceive the obvious. I do not say this lightly, the only other individual that I have encountered in my professional life that had this skill was GEN Maxwell Thurman, an Army four star general. At the time, I was one of two officers that the Intelligence Director permitted to brief GEN Thurman because he was a difficult individual to brief. This permitted me an interesting perspective because I was facing the audience full of other generals and colonels. GEN Thurman would make a comment or observation that in immediate retrospect was obvious; however, no one had considered it until that moment.
Dave has that ability and that is why I enjoy his classes. His unique perspective and ability to distill shooting tasks down to their essence is a pleasure to observe and has improved my own teaching ability.
In the picture on the right with Dave and me is Gunsite instructor Randy Watt. You might ask why a Gunsite instructor would be taking a pistol class? All good instructors/teachers continue their professional development and take classes from other instructors. I rarely learn something new about shooting per se; however, in every class I take I walk away with a new instruction technique or new insight I had not previously considered.
The legacy class I attended was Dave’s last formal class and his company Handgun Combatives has ceased operations after eleven successful years so an after action report on the class is pointless. Of course, that does not mean that Dave will not teach in the future. If you get the chance to attend one of Dave’s classes at some point, I suggest that you do so.
In that vein, if there is a particular teacher or class you would like to attend you might seriously consider attending sooner rather than later. Many of the well-known trainers are nearing the end of their careers and you may not have the chance if you postpone. I was fortunate to receive a slot for Dave’s legacy class off the waiting list—otherwise I would not have had the opportunity to enjoy his teaching one last time.
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