The following article was published by Nine Lives Associates Member Kent Moyer and The World Protection Group, INC.
CASE STUDY: KIM KARDASHIAN
The story reads like something out of a James Bond film. Armenian princess of American television fame gets robbed by a band of notorious jewel thieves in an exclusive Parisian hotel while on holiday attending international fashion galas. The only thing different about this version of the story, this real life story, is that the princess-in-question had absolutely no protection at her royal service. Where were the armed men standing by? Where were the trusted bodyguards hired to protect and serve, prepared specifically for a harrowing situation such as this? How could this have happened? How could her trusted men have let it happen?
Unless of course, it was an inside job.
In today’s crossover landscape of multimedia entertainment platforms, the lines between staged filming, actual life, and social media “presence” have become blurred. The allure of ‘fame by association’ has introduced a dangerous element: the transition of bodyguard to “buddy guard,” severely impacting the level of protection being offered to celebrity clients. The Paris robbery of Kim Kardashian is one of the prime cases being examined in order to upgrade safety precautions in the executive protection industry.
When the Commonwealth of Virginia recognized the need to elevate the requirements for individuals providing protective services to others in VA, they not only modeled the training standards and professional title from Executive Protection Institute’s Providing Executive Protection Program to create the 32E Personal Protection Specialist Registration, they also modeled the advanced firearms 09E standards from EPI’s Protectors Pistol Course.
VA and EPI require Personal Protection Specialists who work in all environments to be able to place well aimed shots with precision. The qualifying course of fire for the advanced firearms course needed to become an armed PPS, in addition to passing the 07E basic qualifying course, requires a 92% passing grade with hits on 8” body shots, and 4” head shots. When a protector is armed and encounters a deadly threat and must engage the target it is critical that they do so with precision and not just shots to center mass.
One reason is the higher probability of an adversary wearing body armor these days. When two rounds to the body does not stop the perpetrator, that is an indicator that they may have on body armor and a head shot is required. When you take the size of the average head it comes down to about a 4” diameter target while center mass is represented by an 8” diameter target. One of our advanced qualifying courses of fire is what is called a failure to stop, or commonly known as a “body armor drill” requiring two rounds center mass (inside an 8” circle), followed by one head shot (inside a 4” circle), at various distances.
In the early years as EPI was conducting the 09E advanced qualifying course it was not uncommon for students to not meet the 92% qualification (which is only 2 misses out of 25 rounds) and a need to reshoot the qualification a second or third time. Some students still wouldn’t pass the range qualification, making it necessary for the student to come back at a later date after improving their shooting skills and shoot the qualification course again. About 5 years ago, we employed a new precision shooting technique originally developed by “Insight Firearms Training”, and we began to see incredible results. It is now rare that students do not pass the advanced qualifying course of fire on the first attempt!
The methodology starts with an in-depth understanding of how our eyes focus on the sights, and eye dominance. The traditional method of checking eye dominance does not adequately test your eyes, as there is the phenomenon of parallel dominance (right hand, right eye, left hand left eye) and cross dominance (right hand left eye, and vice versa). We now conduct 7 separate eye tests to confirm eye dominance. The next part of the methodology is understanding trigger control and trigger compression, and the importance of “giving up control”, allowing the firearm to release the shot. Think about this, you as the shooter do not decide when the round is released (we don’t say goes off or fires), the firearm determines when the round will be released. All the shooter is required to do is hold the firearm sights steady on target, focus intently on the front sight, and “gently compress the trigger until the round is released”. “You know it’s going to happen, you don’t know when it’s going to happen, so you have to just let it happen”.
With this methodology explained, we have all shooters work on shooting “one-hole” groups using 1” dots as the target. We begin with slow methodical shots working to place every round into the same hole starting 3 yards from the target. To make things interesting (and to prove a point), the instructors will sometimes work the students trigger. Typically, when this happens, the round will most often be dead center in the 1” dot. This indicates good sight alignment (equal height and equal light) and the precision then comes down to trigger control and allowing the firearm to release the round on target.
Once a student gets “dialed in” as we call it, we begin to pick up speed. It is not uncommon for novice shooters to be able to draw from the holster and place a shot on target in under 1 second and the students generally can make one-hole groups (or very tight groups) at distances out to 15 and 25 yards. We have had many students come into the program and tell us that even though they have been shooting for many years, that there is no way that they can shoot one-hole groups. After 15-30 minutes on the range, they are blowing 1” dots off the target and making one-hole groups on a consistent basis. Some students take a day or two but after getting dialed in, students are disappointed with a “flyer” that is ½” off target.
Once a shooter has learned the ability to accurately place a shot on a specific target such as a button or an eye on a head shot, their confidence soars. At our protector’s pistol course, we now have students shoot at steel silhouettes at 50 yards and the shooters have a much greater confidence knowing they can make that shot consistently. We encourage all protectors to work on accurate precision shooting and having the confidence to place a well-aimed shot accurately on target.
Many years ago (ok, it was back in 1996) when I attended the Executive Protection Institute’s Providing Executive Protection Program (7 days, 100+ hours of training). I went into the program somewhat full of myself (ok, a lot full of myself) and I went into the program thinking I knew EVERYTHING about executive protection as I had been doing it for a few years and had attended some prior training (hell, I even had the T-shirts too). I was in for an awakening.
During the first few days, on every break, I was pretty quick to tell everyone around me how smart I was and that I pretty much knew everything they were teaching. And then we went out on a practical exercise and the instructor could see that I was a bit cocky (ok, he probably saw that I was a lot cocky), and right out of the gate, he threw a few wrenches into the mix, and within about 10 minutes, I was stumbling so bad he had to stop the exercise and ask me what the hell I was doing! It was at that moment I realized a couple important things. Number one, if you think you know everything, you can’t learn anything! So, I determined at that moment that I would always be a student of my profession and would always continue to learn.
The second lesson was that I had paid a lot of money to attend the course, so I should get my money’s worth, and learn something, instead of telling myself how much I already knew (ok, I’m a cheap bastard). I came to realize that we “don’t know, what we don’t know”. And the only way to learn what we don’t know is to continually be learning. Overtime, I also realized that one of the best ways to learn, is to teach. I often say to students in front of me in a class is that I am not there to teach, but to learn. As an educator and as an Adult Learning Facilitator, we often say that you teach dogs and kids, but you don’t teach adults; you provide facilitation for them to learn.
Now that I own and operate the Executive Protection Institute, I’m fortunate that I am able to facilitate the learning of subjects that I am quite passionate about: Executive Protection, Protection Driving, Firearms, and numerous other related security topics. I hope that all professionals continue to learn, attend training programs, seminars, and conferences, and to keep learning. I know I’m probably preaching to the choir, but I have recently met a few professionals who told me they do not need to train, because they have already been trained. Hopefully, these folks are in the minority, but I do know that most professionals are quite busy, and time is precious. But don’t forget to train and learn, no matter how old you are or how many years you’ve been doing what you do.
For those of you that attended the Close Protection Conference in Vegas a couple months ago had the opportunity to hear some world-class lectures and panels from some of the best in the business. Topics ranged from EP to disaster response to international cyber invasions. It was fascinating and INCREDIBLY informative. And the best part about it was, that after the speakers and panel members spoke, they hung around to chat and network!
Another topic that was discussed was the importance of networking in EP/Protection/Security. A couple of panel members spoke on it in The Business of EP panel. One panelist mentioned how networking was big for gaining new clients minus the cost of marketing and another how networking WITH his existing clients (read “customer service”) prolonged and secured future business.
Before we get to far, let me say that networking is seldom about what the other person can do for you. That gets overlooked. If one is a solid individual and performer, business and favor may follow but it is not WHY we network.
Here are a few reasons WHY we should network:
We should network to build relationships. But why should we build relationships? To get to know someone and let someone get to know you, if even only in a professional sense, can build credibility. This is where the business can happen. This is where I get a call in Vegas from an East Coast protector I’ve never met face to face (and still haven’t to this day) saying I was referred by a mutual contact that said I’m “the guy” in Vegas and can I help him. Turns out I couldn’t but, because my credibility came before our relationship, I directed him to someone else he never met and there was an instant level of trust. That’s how networking can work.
It can keep us current on the happenings of our chosen industry. EP in particular has many challenges potentially domestically and internationally every hour of every day. The ability to be able to offer intel on an incident or gather it easily from someone you’ve met and built a relationship with can be priceless. But it doesn’t end at international incidents. Anything industry specific or that greatly affects the industry (like maybe a CCW bill) can be shared quickly with and from trusted resources.
And finally, at least for this write up, networking can keep a group of like-minded professionals moving toward a common goal. Events such as the CPC are so valuable. It’s a chance to promote best practices, share lessons learned and offer reasons to continue to professionalize this or any industry.
Networking is not for the faint of heart. It’s not netsit or neteat or netdrink, its Network. Networking takes time. It takes time to build a network and it takes time to maintain it. But the time taken will definitely be worth it.