After 15 years, I have officially decided to change the name of the Combat Focus™ Shooting Program to “Intuitive Defensive Shooting™”. This was not something that was done lightly, as many people have come to trust the “CFS Program”…. And many people have been advocates for it, often in the face of significant skepticism, for many years. I do not walk away from those efforts to build the “CFS Brand” easily… nor do I belittle the value of the tens of thousands of stickers, coins, t-shirts, logo impressions, links, mentions and even the few tattoos that are already out there in the world promoting the old program name all around the world. The legacy of Combat Focus™ Shooting will always be present in the IDS Program and a core part of I.C.E. Training Company and my own professional life. I believe strongly that everyone on the #cfsteam understand this evolution and is on board.
Sidelining a successful brand name and beginning to build a new one with the same product isn’t something that you see companies do very often… much less well established companies recognized as leaders in an industry. So, why is it worth doing? I have often written and spoken about my realization that what I thought would be a good name for this new approach to teaching defensive shooting skills in 2003 had brought at least as many challenges as it did successes over the years. In fact, as early as 2010, I was saying publicly that, if I could do it all again, I would’ve most likely chosen something like “Dynamic Focus” or “Defensive Focus” as the program title. In fact, for many years I.C.E. Training Company has used those names for a variety of projects. Perhaps most notably, “Dynamic Focus” was used as the program title very successfully at the Gander Mountain Academy locations for years. The “Defensive Focus” title was used extensively in both the private and public sector at locations and with law enforcement agencies that were sensitive to the word “combat” being too aggressive. About 5 years ago, all Active CFS Instructors were authorized to experiment with course titles and advertising, so long as they stuck to the curriculum and used the phrase “Powered by CFS” prominently (along with the use of a logo created for that purpose). Those experiments proved without a doubt that there was a significant portion of most of our Instructors’ Target Market that responded more positively to “Defensive” shooting courses than they did “Combat” Shooting courses. Over the years, I had many students tell me that they had hesitated to sign up for a class before doing more research because of the word “combat” in the title.
“Still Evolving” was the motto of the 10th Anniversary of CFS in 2013.
The CFS Methodology, which is now “IDS Methodology”, works incredibly well with those new to defensive shooting. Of course, it can work very well for those with extensive experience in defensive firearms training, if they are open to evolving from older, more mechanical, training models. The Intuitive Program that we’ve developed over twenty years of training, teaching, researching, experimenting, discovering, testing, evaluating and proving this approach is most distinguished from other methods by the way in which we get new students started in developing their skills. The next most important distinction is that we focus on developing skills for application, not focusing on Range Performance, as most traditional approaches do. Both of those aspects of the course rely on the concept of “Intuitive”, which we define as: Working well with what the body does naturally. That definition can be expanded to “working well in the context of intended use” and “working well with the physics of our equipment” as well. While cutting the word “focus” from the title of our official classes for the first time definitely requires more effort in regard to a re-branding campaign and community education in regard to what is going on, it is very much worth it to accentuate the true reason we are different, and I believe better, than other schools: our program, our methods, the gear we recommend and the techniques we teach are more Intuitive than any other curriculum that I am aware of. I have spent much more time over the past 15 years studying the human body, the brain, actually defensive gun years, decision making and adult learning than I have on things like Trigger Press or Sight Alignment. The fundamentals of marksmanship haven’t changed much in over a century… even the way they are usually taught hasn’t evolved much in regard to target shooting over the last several decades. Marksmanship is, naturally, an important component of the Intuitive Defensive Shooting Program, as it always has been with CFS, but it is not the end of the discussion nor the focus of the courses in regard to range performance. This program focuses on developing reasonable levels of skill for the most likely events one could face in as efficient a way as we can and then expanding the circumstances under which our students can expect to be able to apply those skills when they need them most. To be able to apply them Intuitively, without cognitive focus on the mechanical skill performance. That is the heart of our program and that is why the new name is what it is.
I consider defensive shooting instruction to be an incredibly serious and important undertaking, It is literally life & death material. I consider program and curriculum development to be most important role, follow closely by Instructor Development. After that, the actual educating of and advocating for our students is how I actually spend most of my time. At some point, I have to also be a business owner and part of owning a business is growing that business to be as successful as possible. I truly believe that switching officially to “Intuitive Defensive Shooting” is the best way to achieve that goal and achieve the best results in regard to the aforementioned primary responsibilities.
We began posting our live fire pistol and rifle courses earlier this year as “IDS” instead of “CFS” and it’s too soon to tell if there has been any difference at all in regard to registrations. We still have a backlog of venues requesting to host courses and haven’t had any previous hosts express any concern about the name change. It has been discussed for about a year with our instructor leadership and the Active CFS Instructors were made aware of this impending change over 6 months ago.
There will be a new website, new logo and a variety of subtle changes that almost no one will notice. The program and the courses aren’t changing in any way because of the name change. There will be two new books published this year, covering the basic and more advanced material from the program, respectively. The first is being released in April, the second this summer. They will essentially replace my book Combat Focus Shooting: Evolution 2010, which has been in need of an update for a few years anyway, to incorporate the natural evolution of this very organic approach to teaching defensive shooting. Both of these first books are being published in collaboration with the United States Concealed Carry Association (USCCA) as part of the formal launch of two new live fire courses and two new levels of Instructor Development under their umbrella based entirely on I.C.E. Training Company doctrine. You can probably expect a third book in this series within a year as well. Those three volumes will present the information in the old 2010 book and more in a much better and more thorough way. I am confident that anyone who has the 2006 or 2010 books (or my 2012 book Counter Ambush Training) will greatly appreciate the refresh and expansion of the content.
In 2002 and the early pieces of Valhalla Training Center advertising, CFS was a “Technique”, not even a Program yet! Integrated Extreme Close Quarters training and Reality Based Simulations were expected to be the centerpieces of what we did there. What we found was that high level reality based training dictated a focus on evolving fundamental shooting skill development so that skills could be applied during those simulations and scenarios!
For those of you with CFS T-shirts, Stickers, Coins or other swag: Cherish It! This isn’t the first time that I have had to let a well-established and influential brand go. Over a decade ago, The Valhalla Training Center was shut down. VTC was the formal birthplace and proving ground of CFS… but, I did not own it. Due to circumstances beyond my control, the VTC Era ended after only five very successful and productive years. As I write this, I am just back from IWA Show in Germany, the largest firearms trade show in Europe. While I was there, one of the students in my first class in Europe (2006) met me for lunch. He was also the first European to be certified as a CFS Instructor and he has influenced the training of thousands of police officers in his home country. He was wearing a belt with the Valhalla Training Center logo etched onto it. It was a Liger Belt that we sold for a few years in our shop. It was great to see and I am proud of the work I did under that brand. I look forward to seeing someone with a CFS Shirt, Patch, Coin or other memorabilia a decade from now and having those some great memories and pride.