Tennessee pistol fighting class helps people fight for their lives

CAMDEN, Tenn. — For the last 20 years, people from all over the world have traveled to a small town in West Tennessee to learn how to fight for their lives.

The company’s motto is “We teach good people to kill bad people.”

Their clientele is changing. In these troubled times, more people are looking for a way to defend themselves that goes beyond target practice.

Tactical Response started in 1996 and took a key role in training defense contractors, military, police and others in the use of high end firearms and tactical maneuvers.

It was founded by James Yeager. Today his daughters run the company.

Kayla Lewis says , “We are teaching you how to fight with a gun instead of shoot.”

That’s something that seems to resonate with a lot of people these days. Lewis says “95% " of their customers are “everyday people.”

“These are your average everyday parents, school teachers, accountants.”

FOX13′s Valerie Calhoun talked to Rhonda Ezell, from Chicago, who said she’s had gun training before. She says this is “a little step higher than your normal class.”

Lewis says the increase in active shooter situations is one reason more people want this kind of training-to protect themselves and their loved ones.

“It’s hitting home for a lot more people because they are becoming much more common.”

Haley Hansen came from Wisconsin to take this “Fighting Pistol” class in Camden, Tennessee. She says, “there’s been shootings in Milwaukee at a salon” and she’s taking the class to feel more empowered and safe in her workplace.

This class is intense. It’s more than target practice. Much more. Instructor Tim Morris says it teaches you more about “the mindset than anything else.”

The key word in the name of the class is “fight.” As in: fight back.

Rhonda says, “When the bad guy shows up he’s not going to tell you ‘I’m only going to do this’ or ‘don’t worry we’re not going to do that.’ This is a fighting pistol class which teaches you how to fight with your firearm.”

We were impressed with what we saw at the end of the second full day of the two-day class. Instructors yell last minute warnings ending with the word, “Fight.” There are situations where you’re told to respond if a loved one is being held hostage. They get one shot. Most succeed. They are trained to move around as if in a real active shooter situation.

Morris says “54 students have been in an actual life or death situation involving a gun since I’ve had this class. Our record is 53-1. The one guy that lost was not more than 5 miles from here and he didn’t take a gun to a gun fight.”

This summer an armed bystander shot and killed an active shooter at a mall in Greenwood, Indiana. The police chief called him a hero saying “many more people would have died” if Eli Dicken had not taken action. Neither Dicken nor the chief would talk to us for this story.

FOX13 spoke with Collierville Police Chief Dale Lane one year after a man shot 13 people and killed a shopper at the Kroger on New Byhalia Road.

Chief Lane says “there’s been a version of run, hide, fight that’s been taught by law enforcement officers. In our situation in Collierville, there’s no question it saved lives that day. People were running, hiding which gave us time to get there and intervene.”

But sometimes police can’t get there in time. That’s why Chief Lane says you need to have a plan.

“In an active shooter situation, these incidents are driven by people who want to create fear and they’re looking for the highest number of victims they can so compliance does not make you safer. It actually makes you much more vulnerable so we hate to say that but if we are not there and we can’t intervene.,..you must fight for your life. "

He also says “carrying a firearm is not always the answer. If you’re not trained and not mentally prepared to use it, it’s the worst idea ever.”

Haley Hansen, headed back to her salon in Wisconsin. She says she feels more empowered after this training, “Yep, I can do this.”

Chief Lane said there are several places here in the Mid-South that provide similar training. The experts say the key is to get training and practice so you are comfortable handling a weapon and know how to use it, just in case.