One of my goals for 2022 was to take as many training courses as possible. After receiving numerous Facebook ads for a women’s only “defensive carry course” conducted by Florida-based Focused Fire Training, curiosity got the best of me, and I decided to sign up for the course.

Focused Fire Training’s Course Description and Details

Below is the defensive carry course description posted on the company’s website:

Course description on Focused Fire Training’s website

The number of topics thrown into a three-hour course immediately concerned me.

They broke the course up into three parts:

  1. State laws surrounding carrying concealed and CCW reciprocity.
  2. An attempt to convince women to sign up for firearms coverage through Firearms Personal Protection, a company Focused Fire Training partners with.
  3. The basics of shooting and nomenclature.

If a woman is looking to take a course on defensive carry, it’s assumed she owns a firearm and has mastered the fundamentals, like sight picture, sight alignment, grip, and stance. Talking about carrying for self-defense, what constitutes a lawful shooting, and CCW reciprocity is putting the cart before the horse.

Red Flags Before the Defensive Carry Course

Before registering and paying for the class, I emailed Focused Fire Training to obtain the instructor’s name and qualifications. As of this writing, I still have not received an email response.

Venue details from Focused Fire Training’s website

In the event’s venue, the company spelled “Coeur d’Alene” wrong twice, even though the Google map pops up with the correct spelling.

I dug into the company’s Facebook page and noticed a number of “job descriptions” for nationwide instructors. The job descriptions are the same, with the state and city being the only difference. The company only hires active or retired law enforcement personnel as instructors. There do not appear to be any other requirements for certifications and/or trainings.

Instructor job posting on Focused Fire Training’s Facebook page

About Focused Fire Training’s Defensive Carry Instructor

Focused Fire Training subcontracted Mike Marroquin of Threat Assessment Solutions to run the course. He’s a military veteran and a law enforcement officer with almost 18 years of experience. He worked for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, Liberty Lake, WA Police Department, and is currently a Sgt. with the Spirit Lake, ID Police Department.

At the start, Mike asked each of us to state our names, our firearms experience, and why we were there. He started with me. I indicated I was a basic pistol instructor and was curious about the defensive carry course.

Throughout the course, I had to repeatedly correct the instructor for providing blatantly wrong information. There were other women who also jumped in to correct Mike. When those corrections were made, Mike brushed them off nonchalantly and continued with the course slides. In other instances, he acted as though he didn’t hear us and was addressing an individual’s question.

Safety Concerns

When discussing the 4 rules of gun safety, Mike indicated a safe direction is always up and demonstrated with his fingers near his cheekbone. I interjected and stated a safe direction is relative. I used an example of a two-story house and an apartment building and stated a safe direction varies depending on a person’s location. That was something BIG to leave out of the discussion, especially when the majority of the 40 women are novices.

From a safety perspective, it was concerning that the instructor failed to indicate no firearms were allowed in the classroom. One woman had a gun case sitting next to her. She opened up her case to compare her firearm’s safety mechanisms with the guns pictured on the PowerPoint slide. At no point did the instructor tell her to put the gun down, lock the case, or remove the firearm from the classroom. It was almost assumed that everyone in a defensive carry course would know safe gun handling, but novices weren’t taken into account.

Failing to Understand State Laws

It was also evident that Focused Fire Training’s instructor was not up-to-date on Idaho state laws. We have constitutional carry, an Idaho CCW permit, and an Idaho Enhanced CCW permit. With the enhanced permit, Idahoans can carry concealed in Washington State, which is a short 30-minute drive from us.

According to Mike, constitutional carry became law in 2020. That’s factually incorrect. Gov. Brad Little signed constitutional carry into law in 2016, something I also had to correct.

The instructor was also wrong about Washington’s “high-capacity” magazine ban. He indicated Idahoans are “felons” if they brought “high-capacity” magazines into the state. That is also wrong.

Washington State law indicates “no one may manufacture, import, distribute, sell, or offer for sale.” Idahoans are legally allowed to carry these magazines because they’re not importing, distributing, or selling them.

Later in the course, during the fundamentals part, the instructor failed to explain the difference between semi-automatic and fully-automatic firearms. He talked about this as though everyone in the room knew the distinction. Again, this is a concern for those with little to no experience with guns. He made the assumption those in the room knew how guns function.

Talking About Carry Insurance

In the middle of the course, the instructor discussed Firearms Personal Protection’s insurance options. According to Mike, the two companies partner with one another. He indicated he previously had USCCA’s insurance but made the change to FPP after seeing the policy differences.

When he went to name other insurance options, he asked me if there were others besides FPP and USCCA. I indicated U.S. Lawshield and, previously, NRA Carry Guard.

My one positive from this class: The instructor told women to compare FPP’s insurance options to other insurance providers. There was no pressure to purchase FPP’s insurance. Women were encouraged to obtain some kind of self-defense policy.

Discussing Firearms Basics and Nomenclature

By the time Mike got to the firearms basics and nomenclature section of the course, we were 3.5 hours into the 3-hour class. He quickly ran through some of the slides since we were out of time. The instructor briefly showed a slide with images of the Isosceles, Weaver, and Chapman shooting stances but failed to explain the difference between them and the pros/cons of each stance.

Mike started to discuss grip when about 10 of us got up and left because of time constraints. At that point, I wasn’t convinced he could adequately talk about having a proper grip when he indicated he left his blue gun at home. He was rushing through the slides to get through them, wasn’t offering any additional insight, and acted as though the information was something every student knew.

My Opinion on the Defensive Carry Course

I would NOT recommend Focused Fire Training, their course, or their instructors to any of my friends or family. This experience is a prime example of why it’s important to know who your instructor is and what their qualifications are.

I truly believe this company plays up its law enforcement experience to make its instructors appear more qualified than they actually are. There is no reason this course should be labeled “women only.” There was no information created specifically for women. It was generic.

Based on the price point and targeted advertising on Facebook, I believe the company was attempting to take advantage of women with little to no firearms experience.

Focus Fire Training did not respond to Armed American News’ calls or emails requesting comment for this story.