Friday, November 27, 2009

I am lucky.

Lucky that I was born in an area that has a gun culture. Back when I was young I had no idea, but now I realize that it was an integral part of my upbringing. North Alabama was and is an area of the country that hasn't changed in regards to guns since the Civil War. Firearms are widely accepted and hunting, shooting and fishing are everyday ways of life for most families. If you draw a line from Tuscaloosa to Birmingham and go North on I-65 to the Tennessee border, there aren't many areas in the country that have produced more military snipers. That, combined with my early fascination of two wheels, always being involved in some sport, and mostly being outside all the time have all contributed to the outcome. There are people too numerous to mention from Alabama that influenced me tremendously and continue to do so to this day. I was born with a bit of running speed and some athletic ability, but the early Coaches, Teachers and Mentors in my small town are the ones that made the most of it and showed me my true physical potential.

I entered the Navy before I got out of high school. That was unusual and luck played a part in me getting to BUD/S less than 6 months after graduation. I was shown by Vietnam SEAL Team veterans and men that were legendary Frogmen that the mind is the most important aspect of this life. This simple truth is easy to say but hard to bring into reality for the masses. Standing at the end with 20 or so out of over 150 who were all the studs and athletic specimens of their area brought this point home crystal clear. This would serve me well for years whether running 50 miles, leading a 5.10 climb or walking the mountains of Southwest Asia. Born in Alabama, made in California is what we say.

Shooting a gun took on a different meaning for me during my second year in the Teams when I got a slot at Sniper School. This is where the obsession began. I deployed as a SEAL Sniper all over the world for the next few years, most notably Bosnia Herzegovina. This is where I began to take note on tactics and techniques of both us and the locals. It’s also where I began to see that only in that type of environment can you learn how to win in that type of situation. Seeing the worst of humans teaches you what is possible, what is needed, what sometimes just is.  Luck shined on me again while deployed there as members of my crew recognized our having walked into a minefield before it took a bad turn.

In the late 90’s I met a group of fellow snipers on a military range in the Midwest. They were different though. Uniforms, haircuts, weapons, even the way they carried themselves. Professional would be an understatement in regards to how they performed and how serious they were. I realized after some talk and beers that the place did still exist, and I wanted to go there. Another selection course and a few months later, life began again. I was lucky I met these guys, luckier that they invited me in, and most lucky that I made their selection. This final piece of my military experience is the most influential factor in my life as a professional shooter and teacher of tactics. I later deployed to Afghanistan and happily put into action what I had learned. I luckily lived through an IED that killed one of my own, and since then I've lost 42 more brothers. I am a very small spoke in a big wheel of what is one of the most combat effective units the U.S. military as ever seen. I’m a has been/never was compared to my brothers though, they continue to outdo themselves and the rest of the world every day.

I left the military because I had accomplished what I set out to do and never wanted to do a full 20 years. I took a job with a fellow SEAL who owned a large piece of land and had the financial means to make a tactical utopia happen. This is where the final sharpening of my blade occurred. I am lucky that he allowed me and mine to shoot as much as possible and provided us with the guns, ammo and ranges to do it. I was one of the original “4 horsemen”, the first full time shooting and tactics instructors at the place. Before us, it was all part timers coming and going. I outlasted the others by sheer luck and because I was having a good time. I eventually became in charge of the shooting and tactics piece. I surrounded myself with some of the best people and shooters you can imagine and in the process finally realized what good really is. I also inadvertently invented, with some of the others, so called- “aftermarket training” for the military and government. We figured out a way to do it cheaper than the gov ever could, without using their own people and still make money for ourselves and the company. The way it was will never happen again and I’m lucky I got in on it when I did.

Since leaving there I took a one year stop at another company where I met another good friend for life but decided to take the plunge and form my own business. As of 2014, Defoor Proformance Shooting is entering its 5th year. It’s no longer a “me” organization, it’s a “we”. I’m lucky to have gotten that much work, lucky that units and organizations call on me and mine to provide for them the most crucial skills. I’m lucky that I’m one of the few that gets direct feedback from the people I train, and that’s why DPS courses are constantly evolving and no two are the same. That’s why I stopped worrying about others stealing our stuff or copying us, because by the time they do, we've already moved on to something else. As one of my best friends in our Tribe says- “Be first to execute, be current with tactics”. I’m also lucky that the shooting public still has interest in my company and as long as they do I’ll continue with public courses. There’s nothing left for me to do or prove on the training front, but it’s what I do, so I’m not hanging it up yet.  I've been lucky to train those who've gone to do some of the most incredible things this Nation has seen. Along the way I've been on TV, invented products, hung out with the famous, been around the world more than once and most importantly I have formed a Tribe with brothers just like me- and that’s the luckiest thing of all.