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Gunfighter Moment – John “Chappy” Chapman

Building Judgment

Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment. The question for most of us is how do we make the bad decisions we need to make to get the experience we need to develop good judgment, given that “experience” in our line of work generally involves life threatening violence and is fairly rare here in the US. We can learn from the experience of others, but none of what we see, hear or read is “our” experience. While this does serve an intellectual purpose, it does not create the kind of visceral imprinting necessary to serve as a reliable wellspring of judgment under stress.

So, we are left with a quandary of sorts: in order to be the most capable gunfighter you can be for your mission (be that family protection, police work, etc) you need to experience circumstances requiring rapid judgments, while also being able to make mistakes and learn from them and not be killed.

By now, most of you know where I’m going. Application level training focused on judgment is an absolute necessity, in my opinion, if you desire to grow into a truly capable fighter. Standing up and shooting fast and accurately is only about 10% of gunfighting. While the skills learned, honed and maintained on the square range are of vital, foundational importance, they are merely the price of admission to learn the things that really count… judgment, mindset, and fortitude.

Procedural level CQB, Vehicle Tactics and ECQC courses involving force on force, taught by experienced teachers, is a good start down the path of developing judgment. This is nothing new; every modern military gunfighter was in dozens if not hundreds of simulated gunfights before they ever fired a shot in anger. This does not mean you stop training the fundamentals on the square range, it means you are able to better focus that training on areas you identify as deficient.

After seeking this kind of training, you may find your priorities shifting. What the plate carrier you are wearing looks like or the brand of your pants will seem far less important than working hard to maximize your brain’s processing speed and dialing in your precise shot placement. The lessons learned after receiving a belly full of UTM are not soon forgotten, and serve as the “bad judgment” experiences which will form the core of your good judgment, if you can turn off you ego long enough to internalize them.

Stout Hearts

Born and raised in the tony suburbs of Sacramento, California, John Chapman (Chappy) joined the Navy at 18. After an enlistment served on the USS Memphis, Chappy returned home to Northern California and embarked on a law enforcement career while attending college.

After 16 years of service spanning 4 agencies, with service in Patrol, SWAT, Investigations, Training and Administration, Chappy left full time Police service and began training police officers full time in 2008.

A police firearms and tactics instructor since 1994, Chappy founded LMS Defense as a part time private venture in 2006; and with the help of an amazing team built LMS into a full time venture by 2008. After serving in Iraq as security specialist, Chappy returned to LMS full time and spent the next 5 years servicing domestic and international police and government training requirements, and consulting SWAT teams in Procedural Issues and Equipment Acquisition.

In 2009, Chappy also became a part time adjunct instructor for EAG Tactical, working for his mentor and friend, Pat Rogers. It was through Pat’s mentorship and guidance that Chappy developed his skills as a teacher to the level of becoming a BCM Gunfighter.

In addition to his position as CEO of Raven Concealment Systems, Chappy is best known as a SWAT and Night Vision Instructor and continues to teach at Forge Tactical.

He also maintains his police commission, and serves as an Auxiliary Police Officer with the Alliance, Ohio Police Department, where he serves as a SRT Team Leader.

Gunfighter Moment is a weekly feature brought to you by Bravo Company USA. Bravo Company is home of the Gunfighters, and each week they bring us a different trainer to offer some words of wisdom.

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14 Responses to “Gunfighter Moment – John “Chappy” Chapman”

  1. PTMcCain says:

    It was an eye opening experience to move from shooting on a static, square range to having to shoot and move and think and communicate and look around and shoot and move and think and communicate and get to cover and/or concealment. It scrambled my brain and still does, which is the only way, I think, anyone can actually grow and learn.

    There’s probably a reason the professional practice what they do hundreds of thousands of times, every time, all the time.

    Practice makes perfect.

    The mother of learning is repetition.

  2. jose gordon says:

    Wise words from one of the leading influencers in the industry…i’d only add that experience (good or bad) builds confidence. In my very humble opinion, as I’m only a sample of one, experience breeds a level of boldness which contributes to the sub-conscience and establishes the bedrock of confidence. When you have a requisite amount of experience (here’s the leap) you establish a confidence level which creates the foundation of mindset. In other words, your fear of circumstances is overwhelmed by your intrepidity and resoluteness to accomplish the task – this is where experience tells you, I can do this…

  3. Trajan says:

    Anyone who cares about self defense and has not taken ECQC is kidding themselves.

    • txJM says:

      That’s silly. You can’t name a single time that a defensive pistol use in public was effected by someone who had taken a class for such.

      • Jason says:

        So then I guess not attending training of this type (ECQC, FOF, etc.) and preparing for scenarios that have a high probability of happening is better? Interesting theory.

      • RC says:

        You would very very wrong about that statement.

        • Jason says:

          I was being sarcastic, hard to emphasize in a typed response. Completely
          agree with Chappy’s post.

          • Jester says:

            I assumed RC was responding to txJM. Generally a response to a person is offset by the lines you see on the left, not directly in line with it, like his answer was with yours.

      • Trajan says:

        Try it out instead of your next weekend pretending to be in the army (carbine classes).

  4. JKifer says:

    Thank you for the excellent gunfighter moment Mr. Chapman. I am in complete agreement but have had a hard time articulating it in words while explaining this very concept. I hope you don’t mind, but I’m printing this off in order to overcome this deficiency.