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Gunfighter Moment – Larry Vickers

I’m gonna make this one short and sweet; when researching combat marksmanship trainers do your research – the industry is jam packed with scam artists. I see training scars and bad habits every class that originated from some ‘wannabe but never was’ instructors who are teaching stuff that is not only stupid but dangerous.

Do your research and if in doubt default to that resume. Nuff said – be safe and keep shooting.

LAV out

-Larry Vickers
Vickers Tactical Inc.
Host of TacTV


Larry Vickers of Vickers Tactical is a retired US Army 1st SFOD-Delta combat veteran with years of experience in the firearms industry as a combat marksmanship instructor and industry consultant. In recent years he has hosted tactical firearms related TV shows on the Sportsman Channel with the latest being TacTV of which Bravo Company is a presenting sponsor. Larry Vickers special operations background is one of the most unique in the industry today; he has been directly or indirectly involved in the some of the most significant special operations missions of the last quarter century. During Operation Just Cause he participated in Operation Acid Gambit – the rescue of Kurt Muse from Modelo Prison in Panama City, Panama. As a tactics and marksmanship instructor on active duty he helped train special operations personnel that later captured Saddam Hussein and eliminated his sons Uday and Qusay Hussein. In addition he was directly involved in the design and development of the HK416 for Tier One SOF use which was used by Naval Special Warfare personnel to kill Osama Bin Laden. Larry Vickers has developed various small arms accessories with the most notable being his signature sling manufactured by Blue Force Gear and Glock accessories made by Tangodown. In addition he has maintained strong relationships with premium companies within the tactical firearms industry such as BCM, Aimpoint, Black Hills Ammunition, Wilson Combat and Schmidt & Bender.

Larry Vickers travels the country conducting combat marksmanship classes for law abiding civilians, law enforcement and military and has partnered with Alias Training to coordinate classes to best meet the needs of the students attending the class.

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 us some words of wisdom.

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40 Responses to “Gunfighter Moment – Larry Vickers

  1. Disco says:

    Cogent point.
    I’m, like, a million percent sure that Mr. Vickers would consider asking anyone to step on a loaded gun.

    • Disco says:

      Would NEVER consider asking a student to step om a loaded gun rather.
      Sorry for the typo

    • Miclo18d says:

      I won’t put words in the man’s mouth but he would probably tell you to take GOOD care of your weapon, and in turn the weapon will take care of you.

      As to the incident, the owner speaks in the realms of blacks and whites. Unfortunately for him there are greys of all kinds in reality. That he hasn’t learned that, makes one question his cognitive abilities.

      LV has a resumé based in that grey-world reality as do many others. What these people teach is based on what works and what doesn’t based not on one incident or a class they took, but in being at the cutting edge of the spear and the receiving end of the 2-way live fire range, usually at the cost of good friends, which they studied and researched to counter.

      When you are getting taught by someone who watched a LV video or went to one of his courses and then claims to teach SOF units without the right resumé, run, do not walk to the nearest exit. The fact that this guys instructors tell you if you don’t put your range princess gun in the mud we won’t teach you, should be your first clue. Get your refund and go to a LV course. In my 20 years in the Army, 16 of which were in SOF units, I never purposefully stuck my weapons in grime that I could avoid.

      Most of what I see out there is people inventing techniques to solve problems that don’t exist or to fill range time to extend ammo consumption, to justify charging more.

  2. Bill says:

    What’s a “wanna be but never was?” Someone with no background in adult or technical education, learning styles, learner problem identification and remediation or program and assessment design? This concept that some things can only be learned on a two-way range is analogous to saying that you can’t teach fire-fighting unless your house burned down. If a cardiac surgeon has a heart attack, does that make him a better surgeon? Maybe more empathetic, but does it actually increase his or her skill set?

    Maybe it’s a .mil thing – in LE skill is judged on the basis of how many gunfights a cop prevented from happening by the skillful application of tactics that negated the attacker’s means, motive and opportunity. That may involve gunfire, but may not.

    It’s hard not to get your guns dirty when you’re crawling thru a culvert or storm/utility sewer on an approach. Of course that doesn’t apply to the vast majority of people taking paid courses.

    • Roy A Woodall says:

      Having your house burn down to be a firefighter is not the correct analogy, besides firefighter training does involve exposure to real fire to become certified. Also just because your certified does not mean you have experience. Any firearms instructor who is teaching gunfighting without ever having been in a gunfight is teaching theory. It’s like the difference between college and the real world. The truth hurts but it has no agenda.

      • SLG says:

        I’m not disagreeing with this, but I would like to point out that most guys with experience in gunfighting are also teaching from a mostly theoretical standpoint. Entering a room and getting into a close range fight with a few buddies of yours to help out (just one example) is not quite like a lonely car stop gone bad. Looking for a fight, and reacting to an ambush are very very different, regardless of which side of the house you are on. Top instructors don’t just teach based on their experience, but based on a collective history of success.

        • Roy A Woodall says:

          While the situations of combat may be different to our minds the body experiences extreme stress before, during, and after killing regardless of the zip code.

    • Fleur de lis tactical says:

      LE skill is judged by things that were prevented from happening? How do you prove something didn’t happen? I know many cops who are shitty marksmen but apply the correct tactics. so by that logic they should instruct?

      • Roy A Woodall says:

        I think that LE skill is the ability to do the job when it is hard. Anyone can put on a uniform and write a few tickets and help a couple of old ladies. It takes a special kind of person to so the job when bad people are trying to stop you. Doing the job now also requires the ability to manage your employer relationship, family, and the media image. One mistake and it’s over.

    • Miclo18d says:

      I think the analogy you are looking for is: a firefight that never went to a fire, teaching about how to put out fires or a cardiac surgeon that trained to work in heart surgery but never actually worked on a live heart surgery, was teaching how to perform heart surgery.

      No one says LEOs are bad instructors. But ones with lots of experience in their fields are better than those with little experience, whether they have been shot at or not.

      An instructor that learned to stay away from walls because he watched Blackhawk Down is different from an instructor that learned to stay away from walls because his friend took one because he was too close to the wall on a live mission and later they built several different kinds of walls, shot at them and studied them with high speed cameras to see what the bullets were doing, then taught everyone the danger of what bullets REALLY do when they ricochet down walls, not just in theory. That’s the point.

      • Bill says:

        It’s ironic that you used the bouncing bullet analogy, because I had an instructor demonstrate that concept to me by deliberately ricocheting a round off the range floor, getting a hit on a target he had laid downrange as if lying on it’s side, during my Basic Academy. In 1984.

        Not many cops get into gunfights. But legally, under Graham v. Connor and Tenn. v. Garner, I, and many others, couldn’t count the number of times when we could have shot suspects, but didn’t and found other means of resolving the problem. Does muzzling up a perp, and not having to press the trigger, reduce my ability to teach? It’s rhetorical, given the differences between LE and Mil roles and functions. Or does that count as a gunfight, albeit a relatively quiet one except for all the verbal commands.

        My main point is that far more goes into training a psychomotor skill like gunfighting than having been in a gunfight. My major complaint, and I think it aligns essentially with Mr. Vicker’s point, is that anyone who ever was a soldier OR a cop, or both, can claim to be an instructor. But being an instructor involves knowing how to teach, the ability to inspire learning, transfer information, develop critical thinking in a student and essentially facilitate the student to master the material themselves, not just intensive, or not intensive, exposure to the subject matter. I’m certain that every reader here has had good instructors, bad instructors, and great instructors, and that some of the most experienced, in whatever context is chosen, people would never, ever, make good or great instructors.

        My personal yardstick is the presence of a lesson plan. I’ve taught the same trainings a number of times, but wouldn’t think of doing one off the cuff without a “checklist” to ensure consistency and quality. When someone steps up and starts a class without a program, or won’t describe training goals and outcomes, I’m out of there.

        Interesting comments, thanks.

        • Joe says:

          Is this the famous Bill from Wisconsin?

        • Miclo18d says:

          We are not in disagreement then. Just not communicating well. I agree with your comments and I think we see eye to eye. I pray that cops only want to shoot a suspect (citizen) as a last resort.

          I had the freedom to shoot at people that were not US citizens. It was very different. I think I would have a hard time as an LEO.

          Training marksmanship is certainly different than training tactics. Marksmanship is universal, whereas tactics should be tailored to mission, however, certain aspects to tactics are universal as in METTC, what bullets actually do, what our bodies actually do, the fact that cars don stop bullets, etc.

    • Nik says:

      How about Corey and Erica and his DD214 debacle. And all the clowns.that came out in his defense after lying about his experience. LAV seems to be saying trust but verify.

    • Bill you really had to work hard to entirely miss LAV’s point and distort the meaning of what was saying, which was crystal clear.

      Good grief.

  3. Ranger Rick says:

    The old adage: “You get what you pay for” is certainly applicable to combat marksmanship training, Why waste money and time?

    • But trying telling the Interwebz expurts who love to pontificate on how training with people who have actually been in combat is relatively worthless.

  4. Jason K. says:

    And when the LE officer doesn’t prevent the gunfight and S*&t hits the fan, I as an LE officer, personally would like to learn skills from people with actual gunfight combat experience. Our profession is flooded with questionable instructors who teach all kinds of crap whether it is tactics, shooting or scenarios based on a “theory” not actual experience. As an example the recent PERF guidelines, and although put out by administrators, is going to get more cops hurt than help. And most, not all of those administrators, have little to marginal “street” experience (or as military would say “operational” experience), which leads horrible, unrealistic training. It is wishful thinking, but I wish my profession would “vet” personnel with real life experience more than than the ones who have all kinds of degrees and certifications in “adult learning.” Just my two cents…

  5. Fleur de lis tactical says:

    Here’s a way to help vet a LE trainer…..are they doing it after they retire from a 20 year career or are they doing it with a few years or part time experience then go on to start their own training company? If it’s the latter start asking questions.

    • Roy A Woodall says:

      Problem is most of the guys with tons of combat or a long careers would rather grow a beard and live by themselves. LOL

      • Disco says:


        After some years, you don’t care about anything or anybody.
        They can sign up and learm to shoot like I had to or go to hell for all I care

  6. Jamie Barkwell says:

    While I took a LAV course and it’s one of if not the best course I have taken to date. I do disagree that a instructor needs a mil/LEO to be a good teacher. I want to learn to shoot from the bests shooters in the world. Rob Leatham taught/worked with delta.

    I will learn tactics from gun fighters. I will not take a swimmers course from a SEAL if I can take a course from a olympic gold medal swimmer.

    I will pick the best in the fields I need to learn from and put it all together.

    I will agree that the world is full of ” twat” ( tactical wear all times) types that sell useless tactical flash ( like zero) that take simple tasks and and flash to sell.

    • Matt says:

      I disagree with your analogy. If you want to swim to earn medals, then train with an olympiad. If you want to learn to swim to survive, then look elsewhere. Same with gunfighting vs. competition. The skills and different approaches can compliment each other, but Rob Leatham probably doesn’t have the same sense of urgency or combat prioritization that a “real deal” instructor would have.

      Few cops are gunfighters, as the job simply lacks that need or opportunity in 95% of careers. But cops still need to be able to shoot, move, communicate, and think to survive. It’s tough to find the balance and we do seek training from the best, the practiced, the theorist, and the been there’s. Training has to be diverse and you can;t consume every drop of anyone’s koolaid.

      Nonetheless, it is foolish to think an average 20 year cop can’t teach firearms use, safety, and marksmanship. But it is equally foolish to think they can teach about gunfighting and surviving gunfights if they have no actual frame of reference based in real world experience. One gunfight is a sample of one, however. The “real deal” trainers typically have dozens or hundreds. If you don’t think that matters, then you aren’t really thinking. A guy who survives a tier 1 team career is not just espousing theory.

      • Jamie Barkwell says:

        Rob Leatham taught delta. How to run a gun. Many top shooters teach SOF groups. They are the best in the world

        • Matt says:

          He may have taught them useful principles, new ideas, or basic transferable mechanics of a shooting skillset. I am fairly certain he did not teach them how to gunfight. Lots of folks have taught Delta. They robbed (and continue to rob) any tool box they can find if it offers even a small part of the answer. But unless Mr. Leatham has taught and continues to teach every member of the unit, he simply contributed. His info was taken, used, analyzed, modified, codified, and re-hashed as applicable. And then 15 years of constant combat were used to figure out what worked.

          • Jamie Barkwell says:

            any skill you can learn from any source is a good thing. Like I first said. It’s the user or users that put it together. I would not rule out taken a course form a world ranked 3gun or comp shooter. ( Daniel Horner ,JM etc etc) combat experience does not teach you to run a gun. Period

      • lcpl1066 says:

        There seems to be pernicious “too cool for school” mentality in the firearms and tactical community causes certain people to be dismissive of training with special operations veterans. People are afraid of looking like they try too hard, and nothing says trying hard like training with a guy with sof on his resume.
        Some individuals would prefer a trainer closer to their own lane. That way they can continue to look down on people for being tacticool or having too much stuff on their weapon. Maybe instead of being posers they are trying to recognize the lessons learned from our nation’s longest war fought with the best trained all volunteer force?
        The GWOT is every bit as dynamic as the world of domestic LE. The incentive to avoid violence unless necessary has been a staple of COIN ROE. The 2nd and 3rd order effects of a gunfight that is perceived as unjustified are frequently more calamitous than they are CONUS. Yet I continue to encounter people (veterans included) who view sof personnel as murderous ‘roided out knuckle draggers. Maybe it allows them to stay in their comfort zone. I would prefer to be a small fish in a big pond.

  7. RayForest says:

    I thi
    nk the point with trainers of this caliber is not that they have been in X number of gunfights but have experience in both training and application. They have almost all been entrusted with training billets within organizations that are successful. They have produced generations of shooters that have gone on to be successful with the training they recieved.

    • Matt says:

      Exactly. And it wasn’t learned in a community college in an adult education class on theory of learning. Its crazy to think knowing a theory trumps proven performance in the same application.

      • Bill says:

        Training or teaching others is a learned skill. As Mr. Vickers pointed out, some trainers suck. Being the best trigger puller in the world doesn’t mean dick if that person doesn’t have the skill or knowledge to teach others.

        I’ll never be as good on the gun as I want to be, but my trainees leave the program with more skill than they came in with, so I’m not sure that my ability to shoot correlates with my ability to teach. I enjoy taking a mediocre or challenged shooter and using the theories I know about the psychology, neurology and physiology of learning and fighting to enable them to improve their skills; as a matter of fact I enjoy that far more than working with the average or even exceptional trainees. They don’t need the help as much, and I can make a better, safer cop out of someone who would have flopped at best, or worse, graduated and hit the road with a substandard skill set.

  8. Lisa N says:

    I grew up in Israel so maybe this is an odd question but why do people keep referring to the author as “Larry Snicker” on other gun related forums?

    • The old snickers in the pool trick says:

      Well, LAV is a real joker and when he’s on the road, he likes to take a snickers bar and drop it in the pool at his hotel when it’s full of vacationing families. Generally, hilarity ensues.

      • Gunners Delight says:

        Nope, that’s not it all. The word on the street is that LAV has a huge dick. The ladies say that it is like one of those big 1 pound Snickers bars you can buy at Christmas.

      • Joseph Smith says:

        Negative ghostrider. Larry Vickers is known as Snickers because he laughs at the idiots who call him names from atop his mansion on the outskirts of Fayettenam. Laughs all the way to the bank.

        • Disco says:

          Yeah….it’s mostly fatasses on AR15.COM posting angrily from their Grooming and Haberdashery forums

  9. CWG says:

    Bunch of BS. I was freebasing out of an AK flash-hider with Sonny P and Buck Yeag the other day and we were talking about all of these “Delta” Guys who are totally rigging the training market. My bro Cory even went out of business because of their oversaturation of the marketplace. We all agree that civilian shooters have no time or interest in “perfection of practical basics” or “combat fitness” (lookin at you Patmac). Civilians should want excitement, and danger. You can’t get that in the suburbs, and no one in flatbrim hatland is impressed with a video of someone running twenty yards and then shooting a four inch group at 100 yards. They want to see death blossoms, and 75 man stacks live fire clearing rooms. This industry has enough “Delta farce” in it. Make room for some silly stuff. Its only guns. What could go wrong?