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Gunfighter Moment – Mike Pannone

On training and Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers


The culmination of proper training is predictable performance. On the 22nd of October Canadian Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers shot and killed a cowardly gunman who shot an unarmed ceremonial Corporal Nathan Cirillo as he stood his post and then moved to the Parliament building with the obvious desire to kill even more unarmed victims. Instead he was encountered and engaged by Sergeant-at-Arms Vickers and died on the scene. Officer Vickers had never been in a shooting incident. He had been a Mountie and served in various capacities of Canadian law enforcement for 29 years. What does this all mean? It means a man that spent a career training and preparing himself for “that fateful day” had over those years conditioned himself to act immediately and without hesitation to uphold his oath and truth be told the honor of his profession and himself. People often make comments about combat experience or shootouts for LE and though it is the final test it does not mean those who have not experienced it cannot perform just as well. The men of the 101st that parachuted into Normandy were almost entirely without combat experience, the men that were selected for the Son Tay prison raid in 1970 were not required as a right of selection to the force to have combat experience. Some did not although there were literally 500 initially screened in a time when most in SF had multiple combat tours in RVN. American military performed extremely well in Afghanistan and later Iraq with little or no combat experience at the outset of each operation.

Training predicts performance and it has for centuries. It is no different today. Your training is what will bring success in the gravest of circumstances so train hard, train smart, and train with those that can give you the best advantage of their experience. Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers trained for 29 years for “that fateful day”…and he never knew if or when it would come. Come it did and he passed the test. The will to prepare is what bears the tools to win. Train hard, train smart and be ready. One never knows the time and place they’ll be tested.

-Mike Pannone


Mike Pannone retired from the Army’s premier assault force (1st SFOD-D) after an explosive breaching injury. A year after his retirement America was attacked on 9/11 and he returned to help serve his country as the head marksmanship instructor at the Federal Air Marshals training course and then moved to help stand up the FAMS Seattle field office. In 2003 he left the FAMS to serve as a PSD detail member and then a detail leader for the State Department during 2003 and 2004 in Baghdad and Tikrit.

In 2005 he served as a ground combat advisor of the Joint Counter IED Task Force and participated on combat operations with various units in Al Anbar province. Upon returning he gave IED awareness briefings to departing units and helped stand up a pre-Iraq surge rifle course with the Asymmetric Warfare Group as a lead instructor. With that experience as well as a career of special operations service in Marine Reconnaissance, Army Special Forces and JSOC to draw from he moved to the private sector teaching planning, leadership, marksmanship and tactics as well as authoring and co-authoring several books such as The M4 Handbook, AK Handbook and Tactical Pistol shooting. Mike also consults for several major rifle and accessory manufacturers to help them field the best possible equipment to the warfighter, law enforcement officer and upstanding civilian end user. He is considered a subject matter expert on the AR based Stoner platform in all its derivatives.


Gunfighter Moment is a weekly feature brought to you by Alias Training & Security Services. Each week Alias brings us a different Trainer and in turn they offer some words of wisdom.

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19 Responses to “Gunfighter Moment – Mike Pannone

  1. cj says:

    very well said. thank you.

  2. Drayl says:

    Good write Mike…Be ready or be a victim?!

  3. Rogue Male says:

    Good piece. If I may point out for accuracy, “Mountie” is the preferred spelling. “Horseman” or “Queen’s Cowboy” also work:)

    • Noner says:

      My apologies to my Canadian brothers. I actually spelled it correctly the first time and changed it…should have done a cross reference with Mr Google.

  4. JDT says:

    Another excellent commentary by Mr. Pannone… “Training predicts performance.”

  5. Patrick says:

    spot on

  6. MIlMakAZ says:

    Very well said! Thank you.

  7. Kaos-1 says:

    That ceremonial corporal was armed , he just didn’t have any ammo in his rifle, Just like the guards at buckingham palace and our tomb of the unknown soldier.

    • Rogue Male says:

      The Queen’s Guard is considered operational duty; they normally don’t carry live rounds, but apparently do so if there is an elevated attack threat.

      • Common Sense says:


        Having spoken with pers who used to be on that guard, during the height of “the troubles” with NI, they were in fact issued live rounds.

        • Rogue Male says:

          As well, public duties battalions are housed at Wellington Barracks, 300 yards from Buck House, which presumably facilitates all manner of QRF goodness. While in London on business in 1988, I personally observed two guardsmen in patrol order with rifles carried tactically patrolling in the middle of the day the Wellington Barracks iron perimeter fence along Birdcage Walk.

  8. Ed Hickey says:

    Our country & there’s need to change these liberal views. The poor corporal was ceremonialiosily executed.

  9. Common Sense says:

    I like the write up, it’s 100% correct. However one thing was not mentioned, which is that Vickers had to retrieve his pistol from a desk. One of the very, very, very few people in Canada that is not active LE and can carry, and he left it in a drawer.

    It’s not just the training, it’s the preparation to have your equipment ready every day.

    • Rogue Male says:

      One person with a CCW could have dropped that fucker at the War Memorial and saved a life, or as he made his way to the Centre Block. But instead, the bad guy with the gun wasn’t stopped until he encountered one of the specially-anointed good guys permitted to have a gun. Introducing CCW would more effectively suppress terrorist attacks in Canada than another umpteen layers of moronic and carefully non-Muslim-disquieting security theatre.

      • Patrick says:

        Concealed carry is technically “legal” in Canada but is rarely if ever issued to people who don’t need it. And it usually comes with restrictions. An armoured car worker for example, needs to be wearing his uniform in order to carry.

        For any John or Jane to get one, they would need to present a CFO with reasons to believe their life is in imminent danger and police protection would be inadequate to stop whatever threat.

        That being said, it’ll never happen here. I don’t disagree that firearms laws here need to be relaxed, but Harper doesn’t seem to want to budge and when he’s out, I doubt the next unlucky soul in charge is going to change it either.

  10. Ed Hickey says:

    Totally killed ceremoniously!

  11. Dev says:

    “You do not rise to the occasion, you fall back on to your level of training”

  12. Ex Coelis says:

    Someday, I hope to meet Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers and ask to shake his hand – the very same hand that killed a cowardly SOB that murdered a kind, gentle and unarmed man. While shaking his Mister Vickers hand, I am going to congratulate and thank him for his lifetime of service and a job-well-done on ‘that fateful day’. Thank you SSD, Mike Pannone and Sergeant-at-Arms Vickers. God bless you, one and all