Sunday, March 2, 2014

DVD Review – Counter Ambush by Rob Pincus


I’m an engineer by training . . . Computer Systems to be exact with a dose of Industrial Electronics and HF Communications thrown in for good measure. It affects the way I teach defensive pistol skills and how I learn them as well. It is also the “foundation” of my blog where I focus on the “new and inexperienced” shooter.

For me, personally, I want to know the “why’s” of things. An engineering mindset and skillset begins with the “basics” – math, physics, chemistry, technical writing skills, core specific “geekery”. This is then molded into a specific specialty. For me there have been two – HF communications with a dedicated focus on the design of receiver frontends and on HF drive amplifiers that feed the transmitter’s finals. (Yep, I am that much of a geek!) From a computer side I’ve worked on everything from chip design to network design to my company’s current focus of employee and time management software for nursing homes and hospitals. Been doing this stuff since 1975 and built my first computer in 1978.

What engineering teaches you is that the basics, the foundation matters. If you fail to grasp the basics of math, physics, chemistry, technical writing skills – your ability to be successful is severely limited.

So what the heck does this mini-slice of bio have to do with defensive shooting or my ability to protect myself, my family or my friends? It’s difficult to fully embrace the “art”, the skill set necessary to become a lethal defensive shooter if you don’t fully understand the “basics”, the foundation of the skill set and the reasons for different techniques and physiological responses. Yep, you can skip over them, you can go to the range and bang holes all day, you can take a classes here and there . . . but unless you dig a bit deeper and search for the bed rock . . . much of what you learn comes from the idea of “well – that instructor said so and I believe him!” Honestly, you can do better than that.

Rob Pincus seems to have made it his life’s work to really drive down to the “foundation”. I’ve had any number of folks respond with something like “yeah . . . don’t really watch his stuff, isn’t he the guy that waves his hands all around before he shoots?” Because the method is different, they are unwilling to dig deeper to look for the “why’s and wherefores”. Rob however, takes the exact opposite approach and willingly explains ALL his reasons, approaches, his successes and those things he has let go of and why he changed. He pretty much hangs it all out there for folks to either accept or reject, it’s up to them. Honestly, I like that.

In that spirit, I ordered his Counter Ambush 5-DVD set to learn “Counter Ambush” – whatever the heck that meant. I’m taking his CFS course in June and as is my habit, I like to review course work and reviews of instructors before I take their courses if it is at all possible. Over about a month I watched, listened, and researched his thoughts myself. The DVD set was absolutely nothing like I envisioned it would be . . . nothing.

I’m thinking I’m going to learn various responses to being attacked in a vehicle, walking down a street, having bad guys burst into my home . . . you know . . . how do I “counter” an “ambush”. MMmmmm . . . not so much.

The course is all about building your FOUNDATION. For the engineer side of me it was like taking a basic math, physics or chemistry course. It took the approach of “how can you become a better defensive shooter if you don’t think of what might happen, know how your brain and body work, understand the basics of everything from weapon selection to the physics of your stance and grip or have any idea of how to put together a training plan that works for you? Without a solid foundation of knowledge, you’re just making holes on paper. Honestly, this course hit ALL my geek buttons.

Disk One – “The Most Likely Event”

Training resources (time, money mostly) are limited for all of us. And, while it may well be fun to take a 5-day carbine course in how to fend off the Zombie Apocalypse – the likeliness of such an event is nil . . . so why spend money there.

The likeliness of taking long range defensive shots – let’s say 100 yards with a pistol – is also very low.

Spending a great deal of time, effort and money even at the 50 yard range is questionable. Yet, when we move to within 25 yards . . . 50 feet . . . 30 feet . . . 21 feet . . . 15 feet . . . 10 feet or less . . . we move closer and closer to “likely” and hence closer and closer to those skills that will help us most in an ambush.

Rob spends about 40 minutes (actually, each DVD is around 40-45 minutes long) walking you through his thinking on this, the decisions he’s made to mold his training to accommodate this and why he thinks it’s important that you seriously evaluate your training and make sure you are spending the majority of your training resources preparing for what is “likely” and not “possible”.

Disk Two – Neuroscience of Dynamic Critical Incidents

I get a bit of a kick on the heat the term “Dynamic Critical Incident” takes. The “doubters” like to snicker a bit at the term yet for the engineer in me – words MEAN THINGS. And a clear definition does a lot to get everyone on the same page – which is exactly what the phrase DCI does. It’s used LIBERALY throughout all of Rob’s course work so if you watch his videos, read his books or take his course work – get used to it.

You brain has had its “wiring” worked on for a millions of years. Each millennia has had its own threats from avoiding a Saber Tooth to dodging a bullet. It observes, evaluates and responds to threats based on this evolution. Disk Two helps to understand the foundations of your response . . . the difference between your instinctive reactions and your intuitive responses. And, it helps to see ways both can be made to work in your favor. Again, Rob digs deep here bringing knowledge and understanding from a broad range of experts and shows how it can be deal with and how these responses can be harnessed to make you a better defensive shooter.

Disk Three – Physiology of the Body’s Natural Reactions

Again, your physical being is the result of millennia of evolution. When faced with a mortal threat it IS GOING TO REACT . . . and you need to have some understanding of what those reactions will be, why they occur and how you can either mitigate them or use them to your advantage. Foundation, foundation, foundation . . .

Disk Four – The Physics of Defensive Shooting

I love physics, one of my favorite areas of study. When applied to defensive shooting, it revolves around gun handling, basic shooting and movement. Selecting the proper handgun involves physics – as does recoil management, sight alignment, sight picture, ease of weapon manipulation, your grip, your stance, your body’s position during shooting. While many folks recoil from the word “physics” – the fact is that our lives are ruled by laws of physics . . . and defensive shooting and the use of a defensive firearm is no different. Learning the physics makes us all better defensive shooters.

Disk Five – Developing a Training Doctrine

My phrase, when I teach this, is “Practice With Purpose”. Why the hell are you going to the range? Are you just making holes in paper . . . or do you have a plan.

Rob walks through this in great detail. There are specific skills you need to simply incorporate into your neural-network. There are physical changes that happen in your brain to allow parts of this to happen yet without a consistent plan that is actually WORKED, it won’t happen. It’s not hard, it’s not difficult . . . it simply must be followed and done.

So . . . was this course anything like I expected it would be? Nope – not even close. It was much better. It filled in a lot of holes I had been working on myself and, honestly saved me quite a bit of my most valuable training resource – time. And . . . it didn’t because the engineer side of me asked a lot of questions that I am currently working my way through with my own study and research.

The price for “Counter Ambush” 5-DVD set is $69.95 on their I.C.E. website. Click on the link, order the DVDs . . . I’ll wait . . .

My only concern is that folks watch training DVDs and then take that as a REPLACEMENT for range time. If you are one of those folks . . . please . . . unless you incorporate new techniques into your training regimen, you are learning nothing. Unless it is actually making you a better, more efficient, more lethal defensive shooter . . . you are just playing the odds and hoping you never run into a “Dynamic Critical Incident”. That kind of thinking will put you in a ZipLoc . . .

Watch the course, see how it fits into how you react, how you train, how you select a carry weapon, what your range work looks like . . . and then use it to get better, more efficient, and more lethal.

While this course does not have the dynamic interaction of a live course . . . it is very good and well worth your money and time.


  1. Received the dvd set as a gift and as soon as I get through the current book I'm reading I'll read the Counter Ambush book and then take in the dvd's.
    Your information has motivated me to hurry up and finish the book I'm currently reading!

  2. Received the dvd set as a gift and as soon as I get through the current book I'm reading I'll read the Counter Ambush book and then take in the dvd's.
    Your information has motivated me to hurry up and finish the book I'm currently reading!

  3. As you say, nothing replaces actual time ON the range. And planning and staying WITH the training plan is critically important. To me, and we've talked about this, the 'critical' response is fight or flight and one truly never knows what they will do until they are IN that situation.

  4. ELI - I think you will enjoy them . . . :)

    Jim - Yep, DVDs are nice sources of info but to work out the kinks and to integrate the info range time is the only way. Agreed also on the fight or flight being the only true test . . . let's nope none of us ever get to that point . . .

  5. Would you consider the counter ambush home study course a worthy investment or is most of the value in the DVDs?

  6. Would you consider the counter ambush home study course a worthy investment or is most of the value in the DVDs?

  7. Keith - honestly, I don't know. I have not taken it and have not really researched the course itself. Right now I'm "husbanding" resources for CFS, Ammo and a couple other courses I'm looking at. I would suspect a good Google search for a review of the course would probably turn up a number of reviews. Thanks much for stopping by.