At a remote private shooting range, 19 students lined up in prone position side by side to aim their rifles at targets 50 yards away, requiring a focus on both marksmanship and safety. Their instructor pressed hard on both principles.
Defensive Reality, a Nine Mile Falls-based personal defense training facility, offered the recent in-depth firearms course with visiting instructor Chris Costa, who owns a tactical and training company in Wyoming. Defensive Reality brings Costa to Spokane about once a year to teach, offering his expertise from work with the U.S. Coast Guard, private sector, and U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s risk management division.
The intensive three-day course led by Costa taught the fundamentals of marksmanship, including self-defense under stressful situations. The class covered rifle skills and a subsequent handgun session. Arriving from Spokane, Portland, Texas, and Seattle, the shooting-sports hobbyists included physicians, attorneys, a security worker, an acupuncturist, and a designer of sports footwear.
Costa’s instruction is just one example of Defensive Reality’s various courses, ranging from introductory firearms training to physical self-defense without use of weapons, says majority owner Katy Brown.
“I want people to be safe whatever they’re doing in life, using whatever form or method they’re comfortable with, even if it’s just psychological training,” Brown says. “I want them to be comfortable protecting themselves.”
The company’s firearms training courses span from beginner-focused subjects to covering situational and decision-making topics, Brown adds. Students might progress through Defensive Reality’s training phases, or with prior training documentation, attend more advanced skill-level courses. Although Costa’s three-day course ran for $695, most of Defensive Reality’s classes typically range in cost from $45 to $125, she says.
“We do offer a 15 percent discount for all first responders, EMTs, firefighters, law enforcement, all military and their spouses,” Brown says.
Brown previously worked developing self-defense classes for a gun shop in 2015, before launching Defensive Reality as an independent business early this year. The company has a training facility at 5919 Highway 291 in Nine Mile Falls, as well as a private shooting range near Long Lake, about a 15-minute drive northeast of its offices.
Brown teaches some of Defensive Reality’s classes, along with other instructors who include minority partners Alicia Ogle and Dan Ritchie.
“We came up with training for the whole person—the psychological, the emotional, and the physical,” Brown says.
One example involves the psychological safety training. “No. 1 is avoidance if possible — the way you can get out of a situation. We stress real-life situations. Also, there’s training for if you survive an attack, preparing ahead of time for what you will experience.”
The majority of training is at its training facility and firearms range. Some instruction is solely at the office with use of a training simulator program called Laser Shot. It provides many different scenarios shown on video so a student can learn about decisions of “when and if” to fire a weapon, Brown adds.
Overall, the company’s approach is to offer personal safety training to people regardless of their experience levels, according to Brown. It also includes an expertise focus on women’s safety. One women-only class requires no physical interaction or weapons, but offers students strategies to avoid or escape dangerous situations, Brown says.
A different class has students learn about physical self-defense by making their bodies work for them if grabbed by an attacker, she says. Defensive Reality doesn’t require participants to acquire martial arts skills, but instructors do teach about some moves that might be effective.
“It’s less about striking and doing harm; it’s all about getting away and making distance,” Brown says. “It’s a conglomeration of some martial arts techniques, but none of them are specific martial arts. We put it into a practical way for personal safety and defense. Our women’s self-defense class takes different strategies and trains you how you to use your body to get out of grabs, holds, and dangerous situations.”
Another topic covers close-quarter situations and knife techniques.
“Most violent interactions occur within 6 feet,” she says. “It’s important for people to know how to defend themselves in that space and how to get away, with a weapon, if they chose, or without weapons. Many people carry a knife, but they’re not trained how to use them effectively. Fifty percent of firearms owners in America never receive any formal training on how to use the firearm.”
Each training session also is designed to change the paradigm of the word victim, because predators look for a target, according to Brown.
“With training, everyone can become a harder target,” she says.
As a wife and mom, Brown says she has a passion to equip others to protect themselves better in order to make it home safely each day. She is trained in psychological techniques, physical unarmed techniques, and firearms.
In January 2015, she attended a Las Vegas conference with her husband where she met the founder of A Girl & A Gun Women’s Shooting League. The national club promotes events supervised by female certified firearm instructors to provide tips and techniques geared to women. Its mission includes educating women on safe and accurate shooting, empowerment, supportive friendships among sporting enthusiasts, self-reliance, and breaking down barriers for women and girls to participate in shooting sports.
Brown’s encounter with the club founder inspired her to complete its required certification to become A Girl & A Gun’s female instructor and form a Nine Mile Falls chapter. She also wanted to do more as an instructor, including specialized instruction for women, but the gun shop didn’t have the space for added training, so Brown started Defensive Reality.
“I’ve always had a passion for helping empower women,” Brown says. “My best friend joined me in the business. We had a lot of women participants wanting to take classes.”
However, Defensive Reality’s variety of classes often draw both male and female students, though a few courses are geared specifically to women. This month, the business is offering a $45 women’s beginning pistol class from 6 to 9 p.m. on June 22. Another event called Girls’ Night Out Range Evening is scheduled for 6-9 p.m. June 23 at a cost of $15. Participants can bring a pistol or use one provided by Defensive Reality for $10.
Brown says an example of a class that draws both men and women is one taught by Derek Cleveland, who has a Coeur d’Alene training facility. He is another regular Defensive Reality guest instructor who specializes in close-quarter combat situations and teaches martial arts moves geared to self-defense for civilians.
All of Defensive Reality’s instructors focus on training people in everyday situations to stay safe, Brown adds. Dan Ritchie, as a business partner and instructor, brings a military background. He was a reserve sheriff’s deputy for about 10 years and also headed up a National Guard marksmanship program.
“We all have the same passion for wanting to empower people and making them safe,” Brown says.
“There are no acceptable casualties,” she adds. “We want to stop bad things from happening before they happen to us, or to our families and friends.”
Subscribe today to our free E-Newsletters!SUBSCRIBE