Meet The Fta Member Series: Lee Weems
Tell us who you are, where you grew up, where you live, and where you teach.
I grew up in a very extended family in “Middle Georgia” on land that has been in my family for five generations. I currently reside in the Athens, Georgia area.
I teach primarily in the Northeast Georgia area with occasional forays into metro-Atlanta, and I travel for classes as well.
Did you grow up in a home in which adults had firearms?
Yes, very much so. I fired my first shot at the age of six under my father’s supervision. As stated above, I grew up in a very extended family, and going shooting with cousins or a great-uncle was commonplace. Furthermore, we had livestock to protect from predatory animals, but we also had several outbreaks of rabies, and having ready access to a firearm was a necessity. On more than one instance my grandmother dispensed a firearm to one of us to dispatch a critter.
When I was fourteen, my father had a serious medical condition requiring an extended hospital stay. It was left to me to tend to everything at home. We had three mares due to foal, and somebody had to be there. One of my elder cousins came by the first few days to check on things. Not long thereafter, he matter-of-factly presented me with an old Glenfield .30-30 with nothing more than a, “I’ll tell your father that you’re ready for this.” This was the beginning of my deep abiding love of the lever-gun.
Were you ever in the military, law enforcement, or any other profession in which possession of a firearm was necessary?
I have been a peace officer since 1999. I’ve been a patrolman, detective, supervisor, three terms as Chief Deputy, and I currently serve as an agency training director.
When did you decide to become a firearms trainer, and how did you go about it?
When I attended the police academy, I was struck by the answer to every question being: “Stop jerking the trigger.”, and I knew that there had to be something better than what I experienced. I made it known around the agency that being a firearms instructor was a goal. I was allowed to attend the firearms instructor course at the state training center in 2003. Since then, I have attended numerous other institutional instructor programs (FBI, FLETC, etc) as well as private sector schools such as Rangemaster. Around 2016, I actually started to feel like I know what I am doing.
I firmly believe that instructors need a depth of knowledge that includes a true historical perspective as well as an internship under an experienced instructor(s). A certificate from a single weekend-long class does not qualify one to be an instructor. It’s just a step in the journey to being becoming qualified.
Please set out three firearms and/or tactics instructor certifications that you possess that are most relevant to what you teach today and why.
If I were the king of firearms training, every firearms instructor (and investigator, prosecutor, reporter, and anyone with an internet connection) would be a graduate of the Force Science Institute certification course. While the class is typically limited to law enforcement personnel, they have begun opening some seats to private-sector instructors. The class cuts through the unending supply of nonsense relating to the use of force and teaches a scientific approach to analyzing a use of force incident. This knowledge is invaluable to teaching the proper use of force.
The Use of Force Instructor course through the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center is an amazing two-week immersion into force on force scenarios and legal training. Unfortunately, it’s not available to everyone. Hands down, the best force-on-force scenario class I have seen in the private sector is offered by Karl Rehn of KR Training. He offers both student and instructor level force on force classes. John Murphy of FPF Training is now a full-time trainer, and he has coursework that delves into decision making, and I strongly recommend John. Brian Hill‘s Force Readiness class deserves mention here as well. Instructors need to be honest as to whether they are teaching shooting or personal protection, and if it is the latter, they need to understand the problem involves more than a tight group and certainly more than shot-to-shot speed.
Rangemaster‘s Instructor Development program (all three classes) is “the bar” in the open enrollment world of teaching people to go about their lives actually being prepared to defend themselves and others. The Master Instructor class has a fascinating presentation on the evolution of firearms training (see my statement above about depth of knowledge).
Please name one (and only one) instructor that you might describe as being a mentor to you.
Tom Givens is the clear answer here although several others have been highly influential. Tom has graciously allowed me to follow him around from range to range in a protracted internship, and he has patiently, most of the time, suffered my numerous questions. Sometimes his answers come in the form of a homework assignment or a book arriving in the mail. Each time that I assist with a class I pick up a nugget.
What class do you teach that you think benefits students the most?
In the last year, I have developed a class called “Trigger Management”, and it is the class that I wished I had taken the very first time I picked up a handgun as it would have made everything else so much easier. The beauty of the material is that it is beneficial for both new and experienced shooters.
What is the most important thing that you have learned as an instructor that perhaps new instructors would benefit from knowing?
I will respond to this by asking a question: Are you a parrot, or do you truly understand and have ownership of the subject matter? Part of truly understanding the subject matter is avoiding tribalism. Locking in on one guru at the exclusion of all other sources is shortchanging yourself and your students.
Please provide us with your contact information, including email and website address.
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org