Review of The Mingle 2021

The Mingle 2021

This is a review of The Mingle 2021. What is The Mingle? Shelley Hill explains it best on their website The Complete Combatant. In short The Mingle is an INVITE ONLY VIP event for women in the firearms/self defense industry featuring top-tier instructors and presenters. This was my second year attending this premier firearms training event.

When deciding how to spend my time and training dollars, I use a checklist of things that are important to me:

  1. Quality of Training: Shelley and Brian Hill are great instructors and invite national-level presenters and instructors for this event.
  2. Networking: Opportunity to meet and network with other women in the firearms instruction and 2A community.
  3. Affordability: Cost was under $200 for the ticket, day 1 was free, so I only paid for day 2.
  4. Travel time/cost: Dahlonega, GA is less than 5 hours from my home. A 3-night stay and sharing the cost of a vacation rental house with my friends and fellow instructors made it very reasonable.
  5. Bonus Reason: Part of the proceeds goes to their featured charity Racheal’s Rest (https://rachealsrest.org/).

It’s also very important to me that my personal handgun training efforts enhance the instruction I offer in my women’s firearms training business Gray Lady Self Defense, LLC in the greater Charleston/Summerville, SC area.

Day One of The Mingle

Event organizer, Shelley Hill kicked things off with opening statements, background of the event, event rules and introductions of the instructors, volunteers and safety team. Shelley is one of the nicest and funniest people I’ve had the privilege of meeting. She is a fabulous instructor and public speaker.

Her husband/partner/BFF and instructor-extraordinaire, Brian Hill offered an informative and thought-provoking discussion about the 4+1 Firearms Safety Rules. As he so eloquently stated, it’s not just memorizing the rules. It’s about how each and every rule ensures we receive the best handgun training possible through mindfulness of everything we do on and off the range when handling firearms.

Our Day One Guest Speaker and Instructor was Stephannie Weidner, CEO and Instructor for Active Self Protection (ASP). Stephannie gave an eye-opening presentation titled “Lessons Learned Analyzing Self Defense Encounters of Women”. If you have ever followed Active Self Protection on YouTube and Facebook, then you know about the important work they do. She knows her subject matter very well after watching tens of thousands of videos of violent encounters and self-defense situations with both negative and positive outcomes. If you get the opportunity to attend an ASP class, it will transform the way you think about awareness, how to prevent and win in a self-defense encounter.

The top three things you need to implement in your life:

  1. Value yourself.
  2. Set and adhere to your boundaries (mental and physical).
  3. Know who you are & cultivate the right attitude.

Fun, Food and Range Time

Following Stephannie’s presentation was the Glock Airsoft challenge. It’s always fun to shoot those! Lots of laughs, friendly rivalries and worthy challengers came to the tables. Plus, it works out those pre-range time jitters!

An awesome lunch of BBQ followed by much ‘mingling’, building new friendships, renewing old friendships and networking with other instructors and 2A women-leaders. Meeting people in real life that I respect was a wonderful bonus to the entire experience. Some of these women I only knew from Facebook, TWAW Shooting Chapters and The Shooting Sisterhood, along with various websites and watching them on podcasts.

After lunch, we headed to the range with Brian Hill. Using Mike Seeklander’s “Extend, Prep and Press”, this block focused on three key areas: trigger management, sight management, and recoil control. This block was extremely well-presented and demonstrated. Brain has a gift for simplifying very complex concepts, making learning fun and memorable. You would be surprised to learn how much we see in just a flash and how much time we waste trying to make a ‘perfect’ shot. I will definitely include this knowledge in my own teaching!

Day Two of The Mingle

Shelley shared a very informative presentation about her brainchild, Image Based Decision Drills (IBDD). She discussed valuable insights about how the brain works and how much of what we remember is highly influenced by color. She also covered how we learn and remember things using all of our senses and why the brain embellishes memories.

Decisions are MORE IMPORTANT than technique”.

After Shelley’s presentation, six IBDD stations were set up to test our decision-making abilities in a variety of situations. We were then allowed 5 seconds to view an image card and decide what action(s) to take and which tool(s) to use.

I highly recommend IBDD as part of your regular dry fire and live fire practice. Click here for more information https://www.imagebaseddecisionaldrills.com/

After lunch was the “Abbreviated Evidence Based Pistol” class by ASP instructors Stephannie and Neil Weidner. We started with timed baseline pre-testing. Then a series of dry fire drills to reveal and remove unnecessary movements, refine our draw stroke, speed up sight acquisition, and create faster pathways between brain and body.

The second live fire block was Brian’s “Organize & Efficiency”. This block re-visited the importance of stance & grip, sights, trigger press and follow through. During dry and live fire we practiced:

  • Draw to first shot
  • Timer drills (2.5 seconds and under)
  • Rounds on target from Low Ready
  • Shooting with support hand and primary and visiting the different thumb positions.

EVERYONE who took the three tests at day’s end significantly improved in speed while maintaining or improving an acceptable level of accuracy.

These two days really pushed me to the next level of performance, knowledge and capabilities. I proudly accomplished:

  • Unconcealed draw to first shot on target (DTFS); Pre-test/baseline time: 2 seconds, Post-training time: 1.1 seconds.
  • Scored 100% on playing card drill (5 yards, 5 shots, 5 seconds from unconcealed draw).
  • Scored 96% on Justin Dyal’s “Five Yard Roundup”.

These test results are a testament to the teaching methods, coaching and dry practice techniques received on both days. I am especially excited that all I learned will definitely benefit students of both my Basic Firearms Training For Women and Chunky Monkey: Concealed Carry Fundamentals For Women courses.

My Homework: Support hand-only shooting

The great thing about the shooting community in general, and this group in particular, is that every single person CHEERED for each other’s performance results!

Thank you to everyone who made The Mingle 2021 such a great event!

  • The Complete Combatant, Shelley Hill and Brian Hill; Awesome instructors and all-around-nice people.
  • Active Self Protection, Stephannie and Neil Weidner, Shannon and everyone at ASP who bring us such valuable information through their classes and online content. Fabulous instructors and also all-around-nice people.
  • The volunteers, assistant instructors and range safety officers; Cat-herding is not easy! Thanks for being so patient and kind. We appreciate you all! Elaine, Steve, Gail, Chris, Corkey, Mike, Tamara, Shannon, Angela, Nathan and Howie. (I hope I didn’t miss anyone!)
  • The generous Sponsors and Donors that make this event possible, most are listed here: http://www.thecompletecombatant.com/the-mingle-2021-sponsors.html

Bonus: Spending time with awesome people

This post first appeared on Gray Lady Self Defense.com.

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