WPA Wow!!

What a fantastic four days. This was my second Writers’ Police Academy and I still wasn’t able to work in all of the interesting and informative sessions. Thursday night we watched Eli Jackson and her sister demonstrate how to disarm someone if they have a gun pointed at you. After demonstrating the technique, we were encouraged to give it a try. Of course it wasn’t as easy as they made it look, and I have a feeling if that had been a real gun with real bullets in it, I would have been too scared to do anything. Nevertheless, I did disarm the “terrible person” holding the gun on me that night. Yea, for me.


We also saw a demonstration that clearly showed a knife can be more dangerous than a gun. Sure, if you have gun in hand, aimed at the person with the knife, maybe you can get a shot off before they reach you, but if that gun is in a holster (or your purse), it’s going to take you too long to pull it out, aim, and fire. The best demonstration was when members in the audience put on the belt the police wear. (I didn’t do so, but the next day I held one, and those belts are heavy.) Once confronted by the person with a knife, the safety had to be released from the holster (push down and forward), the gun drawn, aimed…and by then Eli Jackson had reached the person with the gun and stabbed her, even when Eli started for her from 21 feet away.

She can't get her gun out of the holster. Note Eli is on the left, coming toward her.

She can’t get her gun out of the holster. Note that blur on the left is Eli coming toward her.

Also, when Lee Lofland held a long-bladed knife (Bowie knife) so the blade was resting against his forearm and the handle was concealed by his closed hand, I couldn’t even tell he had the knife. In a case like that, you could have your throat slashed before you even knew what was going on. Scary!

Lee Lofland emphasizing how the gun may be out, but she's already been stabbed.

Lee Lofland emphasizing how the gun may now be out, but she’s already been stabbed.

By the way, if anyone is interested, Eli Jackson has founded the Authors Combat Academy where authors will learn how fights happen and how to write them. If you’re interested, check out: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/elijackson/authors-combat-academy

I’m going to skip around in my description of things I saw, heard, and participated in while at WPA, and will continue writing about some of the sessions in blogs to come. Today, I want to describe my Meggitt (sometimes called FATS) experience.

This is where I and three others had a chance to pretend we were police officers facing a situation where we might have to shoot in order to stop the threat. This is a closed session. Only those who had signed up for it and paid their money before the quota was reached were allowed to participate. Prior to arriving in North Carolina, I had received the schedule and my time slot. We weren’t supposed to change times, but I arrived a half hour before my time slot and they had one no-show, so I was scooted in early. We each received a weapon. Mine was a Glock. They were actual guns, but they’d been modified. Instead of real cartridges we had a laser-type of ammo. (I’m not quite sure how all that works, but I know at one point they had to “reload” our magazines with what sounded like a burst of air.) We were told to try a test shot to see how the recoil felt. I’ve shot a real (loaded) Glock, and this recoil was minor in comparison.

Once we knew how firing the gun felt, we had to release the magazine, reload, and rack the slide. When the four of us were ready, the scene began. In each scenario the camera was us and we were introduced to a situation where we had to decide if there was a danger, either to ourselves or to others, and if we should shoot, and when we should shoot. In the first case, we were in a building and we had to go down hallways and through doors before we came upon a man being held hostage. When we did shoot, the scene went on until someone hit the target (the man holding a gun on the hostage). Once the threat ended, the video ended. And then the person running the film backed it up to the point where we started shooting and we could actually see where each of our shots landed. I hate to say it, but I didn’t hit the bad guy once. I did put out a window.

In the next two scenarios, I did manage to get a couple shots that would have killed or disabled the persons threatening us, but with the last scene, it was a school library with one boy holding a knife on two other students. We ran that one twice because the gal next to me got trigger happy and shot the knife holder in the butt before he actually was a true danger. The rest of us hadn’t fired our guns, so the film was run again. This time we all waited until the knife-holding-boy truly was a danger. Alas, I shot out the school’s bell system. Thank goodness the other three managed to hit the target.

That’s all for this week. More next week, or if you want better pictures, check out Lee Lofland’s blog. http://www.leelofland.com/wordpress/

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12 Responses to WPA Wow!!

  1. Diane Burton says:

    Very interesting, Maris. I’m looking forward to hearing more.

  2. Maris,

    Clearly a valuable experience for mystery and crime writers.

    • Maris Soule says:

      You’re right, Jacqueline. AfterI went two years ago, I was able to use some of what I learned in both of the books coming out next spring. I’m sure I’ll be able to use some of what I learned this year in future books.

  3. Melissa Keir says:

    What a great conference. I’d love to go just for the learning experience! Thanks for sharing!!

  4. Sorry, I didn’t get to meet you, Maris. It was my first one and I can’t wait for the next one.

    • Maris Soule says:

      And I’m sorry I didn’t get to meet you, Marian. So much to do and so little time. I’m not sure if I’ll make it to the next one, but I certainly haven’t experienced everything I want to do at these. Did you get a chance to do the building search? I didn’t, and everyone who did said it was a great experience.

  5. Terry Odell says:

    Great seeing you, Maris, and I’m loving everyone posting what they experienced, because no way could you even begin to do it all. I was on a police ride along Thursday night, so I missed all the intro sessions. I didn’t do Meggit, either, so thanks for the recap. I’ll be recapping on my own blog as well, starting tomorrow.

    • Maris Soule says:

      I enjoyed seeing you again, Terry. I just finished reading your recap of the ride-along. I would love to do that one of these days. Every so often I have lunch at a diner where the local police eat, and I love listening to them talk to each other. They do seem a little leery when I keep moving my chair closer. 🙂

  6. Lucy Kubash says:

    What a great way to do research! Not only that, but some lessons on how to protect yourself or at least what to expect if you encounter someone with bad intentions. Look forward to hearing more about it.