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Posts Tagged ‘Guerrilla Approach’

Gunfighter Moment – Aaron Barruga

Saturday, July 21st, 2018

Aaron encourages shooters to keep their foots on the gas pedal with the “T-Drill” speed exercise.

Aaron Barruga is Special Forces veteran with deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Pacific Theater of Operations. He has trained foreign commandos, police officers, and militia fighters. He is the founder at Guerrilla Approach LLC, where he consults law enforcement officers on counter-terrorism and vehicle tactics.

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

Gunfighter Moment – Aaron Barruga

Saturday, July 7th, 2018

Aaron introduces the Carbine Consistency Target and explains why shooters develop either competent or sloppy speed.

Aaron Barruga is Special Forces veteran with deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Pacific Theater of Operations. He has trained foreign commandos, police officers, and militia fighters. He is the founder at Guerrilla Approach LLC, where he consults law enforcement officers on counter-terrorism and vehicle tactics.

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

Gunfighter Moment – Aaron Barruga

Saturday, April 14th, 2018

Respect This

In 1945, my grandfather returned from the war in The Pacific to discover the America he fought for was different than the America that welcomed him home. As a first generation immigrant from the Philippines, he spent the post war years dodging misplaced racism, unemployment, and blanketed disenfranchisement towards minorities.

Although he wasn’t Japanese, the war and Pearl Harbor were still fresh. As a result, any resemblance of asian heritage was enough to solicit racist comments. And even more ignorant, yet comical, were the occasions in which he was slurred at for being Mexican.

Regardless, my grandfather loved America and understood that although he was a citizen, and had fought for America—even earning a combat infantryman’s badge for bravery on a no name island—he would never prove he was an American by simply expecting others to accept him as one. He understood that every day, he would need to demonstrate why he deserved his rights, regardless of already being entitled to them.

And therein lies a reality that is lost on the current generation despite being only decades removed from the Civil Rights movement. Just because you are entitled to certain rights, does not mean that others will allow you to access them.

My grandfather fought every day to defend rights that he had already earned. However, other large groups of immigrants used racism as an excuse to never assimilate. Consequently, these groups didn’t develop the social tools that facilitate access to what they deserved as citizens. And when inequality occurred through employment or everyday interactions, the results were tense arguments and protests that only further divided the immigrants from the majority population. Unfortunately, this meant that these minorities were only seen at their worst, when they were outraged and attempted to combat stereotypes.

Today, the faint sound a of a familiar echo can be heard over discussions of the second amendment. Owning firearms in America is a civil right. And I believe 100% that all law abiding Americans are entitled to firearms possession. Unfortunately, we’ve seen how others would abolish this right through legislation. Similar to the pockets of minorities that only interacted with majority culture during periods of conflict, gun owners are also susceptible to only allowing others to see us when we are highly emotional and attempting to combat false narratives.

And that’s the bigger problem. If we only choose to be vocal about our culture during times of conflict, then we are directing energy at disproving the opposition’s agenda. Rather than demonstrating the values we actually believe in, we are forced to disprove the ones we do not.


For me, shooting has never been about violence. It’s always been about craftsmanship and discipline. A man’s rifle is more than a tool, it’s an outward display of his self-reliance. I learned this when my father first taught me how to shoot at the age of eight. After an early morning hike into the forest, we arrived on a ridge line and began setting out clay pigeons. Unslinging his rifle from his shoulder, he handed it to me and said the two most important words that accompany all gun ownership, “Respect this.”

Without haste, I depleted our ammo supply. I was hooked.

The following week at school I told all of my classmates about my excursion into the wilderness. Not once did I think I was handling a tool that could also be used as a weapon. Instead, I felt so much pride in using my hands to build a skill set. I played sports and was athletic, but shooting and firearms were different.

Later, when I was deployed overseas, I witnessed first hand the uncertainty that is created by lawless regimes in failed states. Caught between the violence of militia groups, terrorists, and government forces, civilians in these countries were living a dystopian reality. For them, gun ownership was not about heritage and craftsmanship. There was no time for that. Gun ownership was that of necessity for family security.

In the US, a citizen’s security is not constantly under threat by criminal actors or non-state terrorists. Still, bad things happen and the police are hardly capable of preventing all crime. Worse, the temporary lawlessness caused by extreme natural disasters or civil unrest can actually rival the violence of war zones. However, the nation as a whole functions. We are not living under constant fear of our personnel security being threatened and society’s infrastructure collapsing.

This allows gun ownership to exist beyond the sole purpose of personal safety, and is why American gun culture is rich with a heritage that respects craftsmanship, rugged individualism, and family traditions.

Give that a second, because the following is important.

If a tool’s only utility is grounded in fear, it allows for one dimensional stereotypes of its owner. Those opposed to your beliefs will label you, contain you, which will anger you while also leaving you vulnerable to manipulation. Although this is unfair, it happens regardless.

Stereotypes of gun owners and gun culture in America couldn’t be further from the truth. Yet, the only time the nation as a whole interacts with gun owners is following the tragedy of a mass shooting. With emotions already high and fingers being pointed, responsible gun owners are pigeon holed into false identities that they then feel forced to defend.

We’re not backwoods racists incapable of adapting to metropolitan society. We’re not paranoid hermits stockpiling for a last stand. We’re not men attempting to compensate for insecurities about masculinity.

We are, however, doctors and blue collar workers. Feminists and fathers. Hunters and hipsters (yes I’ve met them). Republicans and Democrats. Yet, this is not who the mainstream anti-gun crowd knows us as. Instead, they see us at our worst. When we feel attacked after the tragedy of mass shootings; and when we take the bait and respond to false headlines that only serve the purpose of agitating. Yes, it is necessary to critique flawed statistics about gun violence. But longterm change of perception is not accomplished through memes or shouting bumper sticker slogans. These actions only add gasoline to the dumpster fire.

In the long run, appreciation of our culture won’t be won by only engaging the anti-gun crowd on their terms. It isn’t enough to only make our culture known when we are called to defend it. We must also do it during lulls and periods of normalcy. As a young American, the pride I felt in using my hands to learn a skill was unrivaled. No sport or achievement in school mirrored the satisfaction of focusing my body and mind on a target, and then sending a bullet to score a direct hit.

Throughout the US, everyday Americans feel similar sentiments towards gun ownership. But we cannot make these qualities known in the middle of an argument. Arguing with opposition never changes their mind, it just causes them to further entrench in their beliefs. Therefore we will never experience a significant blow to the anti-gun crowd by only challenging their false narratives. Instead we must demonstrate through our own agendas why we value firearms. The greatest success I experienced with this approach was after I left the military and attended college.

I finished my undergraduate studies at a California university. The political climate annoyed me—trigger warning—but I was there because the campus was parked on the beach. Despite the confused politics of the school, I started a marksmanship club that allowed students and faculty to participate in recreational shooting. At first, the faculty were concerned with sanctioning a gun club on campus. But prohibiting the club contradicted all of their rhetoric about equality and inclusion. Approved by the university, we began hosting monthly range events for students.

We were a hit.

What surprised me most about the club was that there was no single unifying characteristic of its members. There were graduate students and sorority girls. Faculty members and socially underdeveloped Generation Z’ers. Some of the club members owned firearms, but most did not. Regardless, shooting was never about violence. Marksmanship was a sport. Our members easily classified it next to other outdoor activities such as surfing.

The students felt a similar satisfaction that I felt with my father by shooting rifles and pistols for the first time. For me, fulfillment also came in the form of mentoring young adults to do something with their hands other than text or take selfies. The success of the marksmanship club serves as a broader vignette about gun culture in America. When you label a group of people without ever actually engaging with them, you’re likely to develop stereotypes that are not grounded in any kind of reality. The administration at the university was concerned about promoting gun culture because they had been exposed to the wrong narratives about gun ownership. For them, guns were strictly symbols of violence.

On the other hand, the students were characteristic of everyday Americans. They enjoyed the sporting of marksmanship because it allowed them to learn a skill with their hands. Their motivation was not derived from fear. It was not of hollow bravado. As a group, their satisfaction was communal. An appreciation of American heritage, being outdoors, and learning discipline.

A finer moment of responsibility was displayed by a graduating female that explained why she was learning to shoot a pistol. She already secured a job and would live by herself in a new city. She considered buying a pistol for self-defense, but dismissed it as an option due to fear of misuse. The club allowed her an opportunity to learn about firearms. Not solely from the standpoint of self-defense (or fear) but through an appreciation of American heritage and taking personal responsibility for her safety.


For me, marksmanship is important because it is one of the few things I can actually do with my hands in the modern business world. I love writing, I love creating, but marksmanship is something tangible. In a trip to San Francisco my friend Mark took me shooting on private land outside of the city. He was formally an engineer in tech and recently transitioned over to the executive side running operations for a decent size firm. He is a part of what is actually a very large number of closet gun owners in Silicon Valley. Mark gets excited about firearms, but as an engineer it is usually out of respect for craftsmanship.

Regardless, Mark loves shooting because it is a physical test of his skill and discipline. Loading magazines on the back of his hybrid SUV he looked at me and said, “A lot of my peers make decent money, but they’re incredibly unhappy. Everyone in tech goes through the typical phases of getting really into endurance racing or hiking, but hobbies are like fads. Shooting is different. When I come out to the range, it is one of the few times I can actually disconnect from my phone and just focus on myself. It’s kind of like yoga that way.”

This appreciation for firearms that Mark and so many Americans have is not demonstrated when we’re screaming to explain why 30-round magazines shouldn’t be outlawed.

Mark has converted several of his hybrid-driving-soylent-diet-hipster-beard executive buddies into gun owners. He did not accomplish this by challenging anti-gun beliefs, but instead by showing the positive aspects of why he appreciates firearms. This truth is at the core of all civil rights movements. If you only promote your values when others attack it, you will never show the real depth of your culture.


When I was younger, if someone attacked gun culture, I felt that they were attacking my family. All of those trips to the ridge line with my father would surge to the forefront of my mind. However, these sentiments were never something I could demonstrate mid-argument. By getting drunk with emotion and charging head-on against the opposition’s narrative, I was only ensuring that they would control the flow of debate. Although it was satisfying to fact check someone in the heat of the moment, it accomplished nothing in the long run.

In college, when the administration was hesitant towards sanctioning the gun club, I did not respond by telling them why they were wrong about guns, or by defaulting to bumper sticker slogans and pro gun memes on social media. Instead, I showed them on my own terms and through my own narrative why I value firearms. This produced the lasting effect of challenging ignorance without giving into toxic behavior, but more importantly, it equipped me with the tools to champion gun ownership outside of the opposition’s control of the narrative.

By recognizing that he needed to demonstrate value in his rights every day, my Grandfather developed social tools that allowed him to navigate racist agendas. Similarly, I try to do the same with the second amendment. Although I am entitled as a citizen to own firearms, it doesn’t guarantee that others will not try to abolish this right. When I see a purposefully inflammatory anti-gun agenda, I do not allow myself to give into anger. Because as with all political movements, if someone can anger you (both from your party or the oppositions), they will control you.

Owning a gun in America is a civil right. And our nation has a rich history of civil rights being upheld by individuals that not only defend their culture, but also champion it.

Aaron Barruga is Special Forces veteran with deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Pacific Theater of Operations. He has trained foreign commandos, police officers, and militia fighters. He is the founder at Guerrilla Approach LLC, where he consults law enforcement officers on counter-terrorism and vehicle tactics.

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

BCM Welcomes Mike Glover and Aaron Barruga to the Gunfighter Program

Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018

January 2, 2018

Hartland, WI – BCM welcomes US Army Special Operations combat veterans Mike Glover and Aaron Barruga to the Company’s Gunfighter Program.

Established in 2014, the Gunfighter Program has been a means for BCM to highlight some of our industries most experienced and skilled teachers in both tactics and the manual of arms. Each instructor in the program is a combat veteran that has provided years of instruction to our community of professionals and responsible citizens alike, after their military service concluded. These men are some of the finest our nation’s military has produced and it has been an honor to know and support them all.

Mike Glover – Fieldcraft LLC

A US Army Special Forces veteran with more than 18 years of military service, Glover has operated at the highest levels of the US Special Operations Forces, serving as a Weapons Specialist, Sniper, Assaulter, Recon Specialist, Joint Terminal Air Controller (JTAC), Team Sergeant, and Operations SGM. Glover’s last position was as an independent contractor for a US government agency, where he provided security services OCONUS in semi and non-permissive environments.

Today, Mike is the owner of FieldCraft Survival LLC, providing consulting services for companies in security, management and leadership, as well providing knowledge and equipment resources related to outdoors survival and lifestyle.

Aaron Barruga – Guerrilla Approach


Enlisting after the 9/11 attack, Aaron enlisted and served as a Green Beret in the US Army’s 1st Special Forces Group. After leading militia fighters in Afghanistan, conducting raids with Iraqi SWAT officers, and training foreign commandos in Asia, Aaron learned an incontestable truth about war: everything comes down to brilliance in the basics.

After completing his service, Barruga founded Guerrilla Approach LLC, where he is among the vanguard of GWOT veterans that are modernizing contemporary tactical training for US law enforcement and self-reliant citizens.

Gunfighter Program
Meet the rest of the Instructors in the BCM Gunfighter Program here:

SureFire – Field Notes Ep. 8, Vehicle Tactics with Aaron Barruga

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

SureFire Field Notes is a multi-segment informational video series with tips and techniques from subject matter experts of all backgrounds. In this episode, Aaron Barruga of Guerrilla Approach discusses low-light vehicle tactics.

Guerrilla Approach:

Filmed and edited by Eugene Nagata of Kiri Studios.

B-roll from Silent R Productions.

Malfunction Sticks Do Not Work

Thursday, December 24th, 2015

December 20, 2015
Aaron Barruga

The “malfunction stick” is a 1 x 2 piece of wood that instructors use to induce malfunctions in carbine courses. Skulking up and down their firing line, an instructor will place the stick against a shooter’s ejection port to induce a failure to eject.

The problem: it distracts shooters from learning the unhampered sensation of a malfunction, while simultaneously conditioning them to disregard foreign objects in close proximity to their weapon.

Altered Mental And Physical Sensations
It is normal to feel uncomfortable when a foreign object enters your workspace. Suppressing instinctive spatial awareness cues is both dangerous and encourages complacency. This creates a training environment in which a higher premium is placed on the uniqueness of a drill, rather than its intended and unintended effects.

Even if we evaluate the utility of a malfunction stick in a vacuum, in which no attention is given to peripheral behavior, it still fails. Allowing a stick to enter his workspace, a shooter is mentally primed for the following sensation, “I am about to have a failure to eject.”

Pressing the stick against a shooter’s ejection port also creates an added physical sensation. Regardless of the stick’s size, a shooter will unavoidably feel his gun pushed to the left. Under these circumstances, a shooter must suppress both mental and physical cues in his environment before he can experience the subtlety of a malfunction.

Comparative Methods
Bolt lock is another sensation shooters must learn. For novices, bolt lock may be indistinguishable from a bolt that has cycled into battery. A malfunction stick can be repurposed as a “bolt lock” stick, and instructors can press the piece of wood against a shooter’s slide lock. Does this accomplish its stated task, yes, but completely distorts the learning process.

Constructive Stimulus Or Unnecessary Distraction
In Ranger School or Special Forces small unit tactics training, instructors will use a training aid called the artillery simulator. This tool replicates the distinct whine of incoming artillery, and finishes with a non-lethal explosion. Used correctly, instructors employ artillery simulators to induce stress during a graded patrol.

For example, students learning how to doctrinally execute an ambush may spend too much time on the objective. Instructors will use artillery simulators to signal to students that they need to begin movement away from the target to avoid compromise from enemy reinforcements.

By using the simulator the instructor is interrupting the student’s mental and physical state, however, the added stimulus of the artillery simulator actually replicates real world circumstances. Adding stress under this context allows a student to build proper decision-making models because his training environment is still patterned after a real operation.

Improperly used, lazy cadre will throw artillery simulators to frustrate students, but with no specific learning objective. For example, while conducting a 10KM infiltration, an instructor may throw an artillery simulator just to make students move faster, or worse, because he feels it is his prerogative to aggravate students.

In combat, a patrol can receive enemy artillery fire during infiltration. However, the difference between the two examples is that in the former, the added stimulus provided by the artillery simulator is meant to enhance the learning experience. Using the simulator signals to the student, “We have spent too long on the objective.”

In the second example, the added stimulus does more to provoke annoyance. What are normally the qualities of purposeful interruption for the sake of learning is replaced by randomness. Although it causes students to react, it distracts from learning.

Instructor Inexperience
The varied use of artillery simulators either disrupts or contributes to training. Regardless, simulators replicate real world circumstances. Unlike the simulators, the malfunction stick is a deliberate interruption to training that is not patterned after any real world context, and is more representative of an instructor’s lack of experience.

Although it is impossible to avoid the inherent artificiality of any range exercise, it is best to err on the side of simplicity. The purpose of training is to create environments as close as possible to real world conditions. The malfunction stick fails to accomplish this because it requires a shooter to suppress both mental and physical stimuli within his workspace. Consequently, this behavior is contradictory to self-preservation, and may be disastrous for shooters that train to operate in the real world as opposed to just the flat range.


Aaron is a Special Forces veteran. His company (Guerrilla Approach) provides training for law enforcement, the military, and civilians in CA.

Random Training Produces Random Results

Wednesday, September 9th, 2015

September 7, 2015
Aaron Barruga


If you are going to the range without a plan, you are wasting money. If you are not collecting data with a shot timer, you will never advance plateaued skills. Moreover, temporarily plateaued skills can turn into complacent ability. If you are not measuring your growth, then how do you confirm improvement?

In his marksmanship manual “T.A.P.S. Tactical Application of Practical Shooting,” Patrick McNamara writes about “training-itus”:

Train like you fight is one of the most abused axioms in tactical training… It is easy to get stuck in a rut when training on a flat range. We are going through a motion or ritual of sorts. When one performs a ritual, one is training his body and not his mind. One is performing a motion with no cognitive thought process, and he may forget why he is doing it, let alone whether or not it makes sense.

McNamara’s point is accurate in that training labeled as “tactical” can often disrupt the advancement of skills. Often I encounter shooters that pay less attention to the drill they are performing, and focus more on their post-drill tactical rituals. For example, shooters will completely forgo follow-through so that they can “search and assess;” or shooters will immediately begin lateral movement to “get off the X” despite having failed to score threat neutralizing hits.

It is absolutely permissible to perform shooting exercises that isolate certain fundamentals and forgo the performance of tactical rituals. For example, slow-aim-fire bulls eye shooting is great for reinforcing trigger control. Although going slow in a gunfight is not practical, analysis of trigger control provided by this exercise is invaluable in developing our overall comprehension of marksmanship.

If the absence of performing a tactical ritual during a shooting exercise distorts a shooters sense of ability in the real world, chances are that shooter has not been properly trained.

Tips For Success
It is okay to draft up a range plan, and then adjust it mid training session. Sometimes we are too ambitious and need to dial down the intensity; or after analyzing our performance we may identify a more pertinent issue that needs work.

Regardless, you should always gather data on what you are doing. Here are the best ways for adding value to your training regime:

1. Plan your shoot, and shoot your plan. Adjust as necessary.
2. Use a shot timer.
3. Analyze your performance in real time. This doesn’t always have to be recording results on paper, and can just be a mental talk through.
4. Track your results. Too often shooters will develop a solid training plan, use shot timers, analyze their performance, and then fail to record any data. This might seem intuitive, but we often do this because of laziness. Again, you don’t need to write down everything you do, but you should record something from your range plan so that you can start developing performance metrics.

Know Your Limits
Plateaued (or outright complacent) tactical shooters speak against the use of shot timers and the need to compete. They commonly excuse themselves by proclaiming they are “training for the real world” or that “bad guys aren’t impressed with tight shot groups.” Advocates of this complacency mask their inabilities as “combat effective shooting.” They excuse tight CQB-like shot groups, and instead permit excessive flyers so long as a shooter is going for speed.

It is very easy to develop quick hand speed that is sloppy. However, reinforcing this anxious type of shooting, in which accuracy is sacrificed for speed, is dangerous. Because we lose a lot of fine motor skills in a real gunfight, our limitations are exaggerated. What might have been a C-zone flyer can become a round that is sent completely off target.

Although you definitely don’t want to be the slowest participant in a gunfight, consideration should be placed on how we train and why. The consensus against shot timers is nonsense and a methodology that needs to be disenfranchised. Trainers that support this ideology do so because they face an existential threat to their credibility, in that shooting for both speed and accuracy will expose their lack of ability.

Matches are another great metric for measuring the limits of your shooting ability. When I first started shooting matches, I thought some of the stage designs and props were impractical. However, at the end of the day, my performance (good or bad) spoke louder than my boasting of Special Forces credentials. Will you ever encounter a plate rack or a Texas star in the real world? No, but the ability to rapidly engage those targets in a match demonstrates comprehension of marksmanship fundamentals.

Random training produces random results. Maximize your time and money spent training by using the aforementioned techniques. Reviewing our improvement strengthens our confidence, and keeps us from plateauing or staying in extended training ruts.

Aaron is a Special Forces Veteran and teaches classes in Southern California. Check out the trailer for his courses at: Instagram: guerrilla_approach

Guerrilla Approach – Gunfighter Training Courses Trailer

Thursday, September 3rd, 2015

Guerrilla Approach has produced a trailer for their new Gunfighter Training Series.

Tired of the same training? Sign up for a real challenge.