Meet The Fta Member Series: Kevin Combs
MEET THE FTA MEMBER: KEVIN COMBS
Tell us who you are, where you grew up, where you live, and where you teach.
My name is Kevin Combs. I was born in Louisville, KY and have lived in Kentucky and Arkansas. I teach Introduction to Firearms and Firearms Safety though Tactical FX, a business owned by my wife, to a diverse group of participants in Kentucky. I teach several medical classes with tactical components in several states through a separate non-profit. I am working to establish a non-profit U.S. military history museum in Kentucky and we teach a program about the technological development of US military infantry firearms from 1750 to present. As a Fire Chaplain, I am working to increase knowledge within Kentucky about suicide prevention.
Did you grow up in a home in which adults had firearms?
Yes. I have been involved in shooting sports for 54 years. At age seven, my father, a veteran of WWII and the Korea and Vietnam eras, told me it was time to learn to shoot. There were firearms in my home and in my relative’s homes which were used for hunting and sports shooting, and viewed with respect as tools. During college I spent some time with the EKU Trap and Skeet Team.
Were you ever in the military, law enforcement, or any other profession in which possession of a firearm was necessary?
Yes. I am retired from both the U.S. military and law enforcement. I am retired from the US Army (Reserve) (Rank 0-5 LTC) in the branch of Civil Affairs (with a PSYOP sub-specialty) with previous branch experience in Armor/ Cavalry. I am a veteran of the SFOR Campaign in Bosnia and have completed several military schools between 1981 and 2003. I worked for 30 years in law enforcement (Kentucky State Police, Jefferson County Police (KY), US Border Patrol, US Marshals Service, Federal Protective Service (founding member of DHS) with additional details, and I retired from DHS in 2012. During those years I trained and gained significant SWAT/SRT experience while serving with tactical teams at the state and federal levels and additionally have approximately 22 years of Tactical EMS provider experience.
When did you decide to become a firearms trainer, and how did you go about it?
I was first a firearms instructor for the US Army Reserve and filled increasing levels of responsibility. As an Assistant Division Range Officer, I helped train other trainers to transition a division from the M-1911A1 to the M-9 pistol. I also taught classes on a number of tactics, techniques and procedures. In my law enforcement career I volunteered to help on any range or with training any time I could. I became an assistant range officer with the USMS and then attended several training and instructor programs including the FBI Firearms Instructors Course. While at FPS I attended additional instructor training. I co-developed training for special capabilities in law enforcement.
Please set out three firearms and/or tactics instructor certifications that you possess that are most relevant to what you teach today and why.
As a state licensed and nationally registered paramedic and an NAEMT TCCC/ TECC instructor, I teach Rescue Task Force (RTF). With a non-profit training team, I have trained over 2500 local, state, federal and military responders. This two day course covers the threat overview and history, assessment and emergency care of adult, pediatric and special needs patients, rapid triage, rescue movement techniques and equipment, Mass Casualty Incident operations, communications, accountability, planning for active hostile events (AHE), fire as a weapon, actions on contact with a hostile threat, and 4 hours of multiple evolutions of simulated RTF operations which involve, highly accurately moulaged role players, special effects (auditory, visual, olfactory overload inoculation) in changing scenarios with course AAR’s throughout the exercise process. There is a firearms safety component in the course.
The second course I co-teach is Tactical EMS (TEMS) Provider. This 44 hour course includes, but is not limited to, Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC- Care Under Fire, Tactical Field Care and Tactical Evacuation Care), introduction to SWAT and close quarter battle, firearms familiarization and safety, AHE response, medical threat assessment and planning, air operations (landing zone, pick up zone), shock-trauma intervention, pharmacology, sensory deprived patient assessment, medicine across the barricade, remote assessment methodology, emergency dental care, K-9 emergency care, less lethal devices and safety, and rural and urban operations.
Having previously completed numerous military and law enforcement training and instructor courses as noted above, I believed there was a different need in the civilian world as a record number of civilians in our nation have become first time firearms owners. I felt there were many different sources of information and not all were created equally. I developed an Introduction to Firearms and Firearms Safety program that I tailored to provide a solid foundation for new firearms owners and shooters.
The curriculum focuses on basic safety and basic civilian shooting skills. I cover health related to firearms training and use, weapons vs firearms, mindset, etiquette, safe handling, how to dress for the range, safety equipment, safe firearm transport and storage, and restricting unauthorized access. I demonstrate types of firearms, and cover nomenclature, pros and cons, disassembly and re-assembly, maintenance and cleaning, and loading and unloading. I address equipment considerations, carry techniques, draw strokes, trigger manipulation, managing recoil, follow through, accuracy vs precision, penetration vs over penetration, steady hold factors, basic firing positions, multiple shots, introduction to malfunctions, ammunition, ballistics, and cover vs concealment. I introduce the participants to the medical concepts of Rhodopsin (visual purple), CNS dysfunction, exsanguination and accident/suicide prevention.
Please name one instructor that you might describe as being a mentor to you.
My longest standing mentor must remain unnamed because of his background and profession. He served the U.S. special operations community for decades before retirement. I first met him when I was a State Trooper and he has remained a source of guidance, training information and close friendship for many years. He taught me so much about myself, teaching, and getting the most out of those who we are honored to lead in the best and worst of times.
What class do you teach that you think benefits students the most?
This is a simple question which is difficult to answer. Currently I know our TEMS and RTF class graduates have reported documented life saves of critically injured patients and told me that the training made a lifesaving difference in multiple situations they faced. The Introduction classes are helping participants learn needed skills as many new first time firearms owners are searching for training and information. I believe that providing them with a strong foundation in the basics will help them continue to learn and grow in the shooting sports and self-defense training, and help them more accurately gauge the effectiveness of their future training.
What is the most important thing that you have learned as an instructor that perhaps new instructors would benefit from knowing?
I believe that true professionals are lifelong learners. The more I learn about one subject, the more I realize how little I really know about everything. As teachers, I believe that we need to be passionate about what we teach and we need to know and truly understand the subject matter in more depth than we are teaching. Try to learn something new every day. No one knows it all, there are very few absolutes and we can always make learning a reciprocal process. I often learn something from participants. Don’t be hesitant to change and modify what you teach because there is often new information available. But before you teach new concepts or ideas, ensure that they are solid and factually based and technically and tactically sound.