Gun control legislation pending in multiple states means Second Amendment supporters must remain diligent in the fight to retain the integrity of the right to bear arms clause. Force Options Tactical Training Service founder Fred Mastison recently sat down with Off The Grid News to discuss the need for gun training and self-defense courses. Mastison is a professional firearms, defensive tactics, and personal protection instructor. He is recognized internationally as one of the best firearms and defensive tactics instructors in the world.
The Force Options president and founder is also a certifying instructor for law enforcement firearms instructors in Missouri in handgun, patrol rifle, shotgun, and sub machine gun. He is nationally NRA certified instructor in multiple disciplines. He is a Master Instructor in light automatic weapons and is regularly in demand for automatic weapons courses. Fred Mastison  currently holds at least 20 advanced gun training, weapons, and self-defense certifications.
OTG: At Force Options , all instructors are masters of their fields. You personally have worked with some of the best defensive tactical instructors around the globe. In a perfect world, there would be no need for the common citizens to garner the skills offered by your company—but we do not live in a utopian society. Force Options is a natural fit for body guards for company CEOS, celebrities, and dignitaries. Why should the average Joe (and Jane) take advantage of what Force Options has to offer?
Fred: The biggest reason the average person should train with us is the same reason SWAT teams and executive protection agents do. We present real world training customized to the specific client’s needs. With our extensive background and decades of experience, we bring a lifetime of real world knowledge to each class—classes professionally presented where students are respected and treated with dignity. We have no need to present ourselves in a boot camp or screaming fashion. As we always say, this is training for the adults in the room.
OTG: You trained in CQB/QD style combatives for more than 30 years. How does this extensive background in self-defense  skills influence the services offered at Force Options?
Fred: My combatives background greatly influences all of the training we offer. Because I have an extensive background in how the body works in a fight, I can translate that to our shooting and edged weapons classes. While some schools focus on individual portions of the kinesiology of a gun fight, we explore the entire spectrum. We obviously do quite a bit of movement and demand attention to your fight space. A more ethereal component that translates over is the philosophy. Modern firearms training should be seen as a “budo,” or martial way. I encourage the development of a complete warrior mind when training with weapons.
OTG: Force Options defensive tactics training courses have been certified by multiple law enforcement agencies. You hold nearly 20 POST certifications from around the United States. Are your self-defense and weapons training sessions just for those with a law enforcement background, or do they cater to those who are not quite sure how to hold a .22 rifle as well?
Fred: I am proud to say that Force Options has one of the most diverse course offerings in the world. From our introduction to handgun and basic personal protection classes, to our advanced belt-fed machine gun training, we honestly do offer it all. We provide classes for the first time shooter all the way to advanced and master level training. From soccer moms and dads to hardened SWAT snipers, we teach everyone.
OTG: Have you seen an increase in gun training  and self-defense courses requests since the gun control debate once again heated up in America?
Fred: We have seen a slight uptick in people seeking training since the gun control debate re-emerged here in the United States. Not to the extent that most people would think, however. Unfortunately, a majority of gun owners never seek out any professional training.
OTG: The concerns for professional body guards and the common citizen are likely quite different. What do you view as the primary reasons why folks call Force Options to request more information about training?
Fred: I believe that while their specific needs are different, they come to us for the same reason. We provide what they need. Additionally, we provide it in a way that makes it appealing to take part in. One of our strengths is the fact that if they do seek out training with us, in most cases we have additional training that they can take part in, making us a bit of a “one stop shop.”
OTG: What do you see as the biggest threats facing America today?
Fred: I believe there are three major threats facing American today. First is an uninterested general public. A general unwillingness to engage in topics that affect their future creates a band of people that do little more than quote platitudes. They simply do not want to spend the energy to understand the details of anything that does not bite them in the leg.
The second threat is the reckless governmental spending that we are seeing. This is at pretty much every level of government from cities to the federal government. The mixture of an uninformed public and austerity measures that will eventually have to be put in place create an atmosphere similar to Greece.
The last and possibly greatest threat is from militant Islam. The chasm that exists between our cultures cannot be bridged with speeches and apologies. I obviously do not see any major offensive carried out against the US on our own soil. What I do see is decades of terrorism and cultural creep. This has already evidenced itself in Europe and they are suffering for their lack of vision and insistence on political correctness. It is a real problem not only for the West, but for moderate Muslins around the world.
OTG: A man-made or natural disaster could prompt civil unrest on a massive scale in a matter of mere days. The death toll from a downed power grid, for example, has the potential to wipe out 80 percent of the population in the United States. In addition to weapons training, what other preparedness aspects tips would you offer to your fellow Americans?
Fred: As a long-time resident of the Midwest, I always encourage people to prepare for the worst. That includes a great deal more than just stocking up on water and canned ravioli. I encourage people to know how to live off of the land in austere conditions. They should learn how to hunt and fish as well as be able to provide shelter. Learn how to purify water and how to exist with little or no governmental assistance. A major skill overlooked is first aid and wilderness medicine. Essentially, you may need to be your own doctor and physician to your family. This goes well beyond just putting band aids on and is a must for those serious about being prepared for the worst. This is useful even if you are pounded with terrible weather. Even more useful, if the unthinkable happens, and you and your family are on their own for months at a time.
OTG: You have written multiple training related books and produced several advanced defensive tactics DVDs. Please share an overview of the firearms training and knife defense resources you have created.
Fred: We are in the process of producing new DVDs on these topics. I will pass on the info once we have them in post-production. Within 3 months.
OTG: How does proper clothing factor into surviving during a civil unrest or other dangerous scenario?
Fred: Proper clothing can make or break one’s ability to survive during civil unrest and other dangerous scenarios. While it seems extreme, the baseline I encourage people to follow here in Arizona is this. If your car broke down on the highway outside of Phoenix in July, would the clothes you are wearing be appropriate to protect you until help arrived or you walked out? Every “go-bag” should include clothes that can be used in an emergency. Cargo type pants, sturdy boots, shirts, hat, and all other related gear need to be in there.
OTG: You have offered academic presentations about the influence of illegal immigration on corporate security protocols. Please explain how such activity has influenced corporate polices. Do you consider illegal immigrant a national security factor?
Fred: In my experience, illegal immigration has indeed affected the security protocols at many corporations. This is especially true in industries connected with government and or secure/ classified projects. Many immigrants seeking employment here in the United States do so with falsified or stolen identifications. This makes it difficult to navigate through those here legally and those here using more nefarious means. Companies requiring a “secure” environment have to spend a great deal more time on background investigations and research before they can make a hire now.
Illegal immigration is indeed a national security factor. As a resident of Arizona, the idea that the border is somehow “more secure” is laughable at best. The primary security challenge comes from what are classified as OTM (other than Mexican) immigrants. Border captures have produced illegal immigrants from all over the Middle East as well as sub-Saharan Africa. This group of illegals raises a very real alarm that the ease of moving across the border makes it a prime location for terrorists to enter the US away from watchful eyes.
OTG: For the past two decades, you have worked with a myriad of high profile law enforcement ad military agencies, including the US Army Rangers, the Marine Corps MCAS Miramar PMO detachment, and the US Marshals Service. Without revealing anything you should not, can you share how the focus or training needs for such agencies have evolved as national security and terrorism have become such grave concerns? Members of our armed forces rarely, if ever, are faced with a uniformed enemy anymore, so detecting who is friend and who is foe must be a daunting task.
Fred: The fundamentals of what I teach have not really changed over the past 20-plus years. What has changed is the intensity and seriousness that students bring to the training now. Obviously there have been leaps forward in technology and integration of that tech into training, and applications are a major part of what we do. What used to be a simple pistol class for police officers now includes awareness of booby traps and the danger of approaching a wounded suspect. Nobody in the industry will share much more beyond that, but suffice it to say, things have indeed changed. For our military clients we teach a simple fact—trust no IP (indigenous personnel).
OTG: Determining who is a threat and the level of the threat posed is a decision which must be made in an instant. An Iraq and Afghanistan veteran from Oregon thought he was doing just that recently when faced with an intruder at his back door. Although the state has a Castle Doctrine and Stand Your Ground law, Corey Thompson still faces charges for firing his AR-15. The man, a convicted felon wanted on outstanding assault warrants, was ultimately arrested. The semi-automatic weapon was confiscated after police officers determined that firing a warning shot towards the ground dangerous and not warranted. What advice can you give to American gun owners who find themselves faced with both a home invasion and in the midst of a civil unrest scenario?
Fred: The events in Oregon with Mr. Thompson really highlight a lack of understanding of firearms laws and ultimately, tactics. This has not positioned me as a favorite son in many circles because I believe that Mr. Thompson was wrong to fire his weapon into the ground. Contrary to what Joe Biden may say, warning shots as a general rule are not permissible. The rule I teach is simple: if a weapon needs to be fired in defense of your life, it needs to be done into the bad guy. If the situation has not escalated to the point where deadly force is warranted, you need to save your ammunition. I believe that Mr. Thompson should not be charged, however, and his weapon should be returned immediately. No one was injured and the suspect was apprehended sans bullet holes. While this seems contrary to my belief that his firing a warning shot was wrong, I simply do not believe the punishment he is enduring fits the mistake.
My advice for people serious about defending themselves from home invasion is simple: realistic practice. Many people go to the range and shoot targets at 15 to 20 meters from covered areas while wearing range gear. When the flag goes up, unfortunately you will probably be in your Scooby Doo underwear at 3 am, fighting a crack head who does not care that you have a 5.11 tactical vest. You need to practice close quarters fighting both with a gun and without. Additionally, you need to have a plan. What are you going to do if glass breaks in the middle of the night? Do you have kids you need to get to? What is the best route to get there? Do you have a flashlight beside the bed? A phone? The list of considerations is enormous. This is where professional training can make the difference between life and death. In the end, I tell people to be prepared to fight your fight and expect no back up.