Monday, 25 February 2013

Interview with Earl Green, Phase Line Green Tactical

While I was travelling in Ontario, Whiskey Delta Gulf introduced me to a long time friend, Earl Green, from Phase Line Green Tactical. I had heard of Earl Green from other tactical operators prior to meeting with him. This was a great opportunity to pick his brain and to share on the blog.

 Echo Tango 308: In the USA, there is a plethora of tactical training schools. Some of the key factors that affect the success or failure of these schools is the experience level of their instructors, instructor's ability to actually teach, coach and mentor and the relevance of their curriculum.  Could you please share your own tactical experience, instructor background and how do you maintain your relevance in the changing times?

Earl Green of PLGT: I initially developed Phase Line Green Tactical because I wanted to make a living doing what I enjoy.  I learned quickly that I may not get rich doing that in Canada! What I've learned is that the more courses I give, the more I enjoy meeting and interacting with our clients.

My company is not just about firearms training, it is about the application of reasoned responses to unreasonable situations. We offer firearms training to civilians, military and police but there is more to us  than just firearms training we offer use of force and crisis resolution training as well as training and services relating to threat assessment investigations to avoid workplace and school violence. 


I think that there are multiple facets to remaining relevant:

First, you have to have a genuine thirst for knowledge about your subject matter. Since I was a young boy, I've had an interest in guns, hunting, the military, the police, special operations and competitive shooting. I also had a family that took me shooting, hunting and that bought me books and magazines about guns. I still avidly read about guns, tactics, history, training and what other instructors are doing and why.

Second, I think it is important to have solid practical experience. I've been fortunate to have been involved in careers that nurtured this. When I was a young cop, I became involved in the testing and selection of new field equipment such as expandable batons, cargo pants, dark shirts and the nylon belts that we see on our police every day. From that, I applied for and was successful in being selected for a top tier police tactical unit. The training, expert advice and operational experience that I received there has served me well in learning and having knowledge of tactics, equipment, firearms and critical thinking. I was also fortunate to have some great mentors when I was a detective, a trainer and executive protection specialist. I've instructed numerous police officers, nuclear protection personnel and military folks in the employment of various firearms and I have extensive experience as a police use of force and firearms trainer. I've also been a tactical trainer in both the police and nuclear protection realms. I’ve even been fortunate enough to be chosen as an adjunct instructor for a top US firearms academy. I’ve also been a top competitor in both IPSC and IDPA  and that has served me will in mastering my shooting skills and shooting under pressure.

Third, a good instructor requires a sound knowledge of adult education and techniques of instruction and he or she has to be personable. You need to be able to write, explain and demo the skills that you require of your clients. If you can’t perform on demand to the level that you require of your clients or trainees, you have no business delivering on that topic. You also need to be patient and friendly. Some students are shy, some are know-it-alls, some know more than the instructor and some are actually scared. You don’t want to turn off a potential client by presenting a bad example or by being stand-offish. 

Last, I remain relevant through interactions with other instructors and industry pros. I’ve been on courses at the Ontario Police College, the OPP Academy, the H&K Academy, the Sig Sauer Academy and with Larry Vickers. Taking courses helps me to sharpen my own edge and to keep on top of new instructional techniques that I can use with my clients. I also correspond with top US and Canadian instructors and bounce ideas off some. Most big name schools are teaching the same stuff with minor variations of technique and different drills.  I even stay in touch with many of my police colleagues who are trainers or who trained me so that I can bounce ideas off of them and so that I remember and honour the good folks who helped me to develop. 

VSM Pistol Course
Instructed by Earl Green 
Phase Line Green Tactical

Echo Tango 308: The firearms training industry in Canada has been primarily based around the CFC's required non-restricted and restricted training courses for a federal PAL or Possession Acquisition Licence.  There are few tactical training companies in Canada. Can you share with us Phase Line Green Tactical's aim and scope of training?

Earl Green,  PLGT: I’ve found that the CFC course is similar to a course that would be designed strictly for obtaining your driver’s licence. Sure, they give you training on how to pass the test using various firearms, safety and manipulation but it doesn’t go far enough if you want to learn how to shoot well and how to shoot safely. 

Safety is always our primary focus. Then we strive to enhance our clients’ abilities to safely, quickly and intelligently employ firearms and use of force options in both real-life and competitive environments. 

I am not the only instructor that I can call upon and utilize. I have access to some very skilled police, military and civilian folks who can teach the safe and lawful employment of almost any firearm or defensive weapons system that you can think of. We can even offer some very high speed self-defence/use of force courses however; we limit those to credentialed clients.  

Echo Tango 308: As shooters progress, they are always looking to increase the challenge of the courses that they take. Do you have advanced level courses? Do you have specialty courses? What about adverse lighting conditions?

Earl Green, PLGT: We offer advanced level courses for pistol and carbine platforms but I’ve been taking a look at this and many of the advanced courses contain drills and skills that are similar to our basic level courses so we may just switch to a one or two day format. We stress consistency of platform i.e. utilizing similar manipulations for pistol, carbine, rifle and shotgun and I’m finding that even our high-speed-low-drag clients are loving that format. We always start off with the basics and we always progress at a crawl, walk, run pace but sometimes, we have a group that can run sooner than others.   

So, I've started to bring more a highly developed lesson plan that I can rapidly modify and a field message pad containing various drills. Early on in the day, I determine the collective skill level of participants and I can tweak the lesson plan to give them more in-depth knowledge of their platform and more challenging drills.  

I can also design specialty course based upon the needs of a particular group or organization. For example, when I was a police officer I worked on use of force courses designed for violent crimes investigators. I also developed courses for those in undercover roles who needed to employ or carry firearms in high risk criminal environments. I also worked on witness and executive protection training courses and I also worked on packages designed around immediate rapid deployment or response to the active killer. I have been lucky to amass a vast degree of knowledge about the use of firearms and use of force in many different situations.

Earl and I talking about handgun selection and their accessories.

Echo Tango 308: Nowadays there are lots of options in tactical firearms available to the modern shooter. What are your preferences in tactical firearms and why? Especially for a novice just starting out, what should they be looking for in a tactical firearm?

Earl Green, PLGT:I believe in buy once and buy right. Also, buy what you can afford and trust. For example, I believe in good quality pistols. Glock, the S&W M&P series, Sig, H&K, CZ, just to name a few, are good pistols and have varying price ranges. Each of these choices also offers good quality. 

Where I see issues tends to be with new shooter’s who lack insight about caliber  A .45 is a great gun can do but .45 ammo can be expensive and harder to get than 9mm. .40 S&W is also good but can be snappy for some folks.  Again, best bet is to research and buy what fits your hand and your budget!

Also, buy at least five pistol mags. It gives you versatility should you choose to start shooting competitively too!

 For a tactical carbine, I am partial to the AR series due to the varied configurations and accessories that are available but we can deliver training on any platform. In the AR arena, it again pays to buy quality and buy it once. You might save 200 to 400 bucks but will you be firing that out in short order on replacement parts or waiting for your factory warranty replacement parts to show rather than shooting?

There are some great and affordable options in Canada now such as Daniel Defense,  BCM, Knights Armament, LMT, PWS, Colt, Stag, RRA, even Norinco! They vary in price but are all good offerings. I always suggest that new shooters stick with mid-range offerings since they are extremely reliable out of the box and pretty much always run. Interestingly, I did a course a couple of years ago that had every type of weather imaginable during one day from rain to sun to cold and snow, out of all of the different guns present, only an older Colt 9mm and a Norinco made it through the day without failing!

For a new shooter, it is imperative to do some research on M4Carbine or a similar forum of knowledgeable folks to see what issues have arisen and what works.

It is also a good idea to buy proven back-up sights, magazines and a good sling. If you’re new to tactical firearms, you don’t need an optic right away. It’s always best to learn how to run the carbine with irons then move up to an optic once you have seen what others are using and examine what works for them or you and what will best suit your needs.  

Choice of platform can also be based on intended use. For example, some non-restricted carbines are great choices for coyote, deer and big horn rifles.  

And again, especially in this current era, caliber is a huge consideration. Why buy a 6.8 or 300 Blackout if you can’t find any or can’t afford any if you do find some? .223 or 5.56 - Is it going to become scarce? Perhaps! 7.62 x 39? Corrosive or non-corrosive? Again, research what you can afford and obtain. Oh, and if you are going to take a course don’t wait until the last minute to buy ammo because you could be out of luck! I stockpile by the year and then feel I never have enough…. And sometimes…. I don’t! 

Getting some pointers on gear set up
and placement of critical kit.

Echo Tango 308: Since the free world has been at war for the past decade, there is a variety of tactical gear available on the market. What should the new shooter be looking for when they purchased their first rig? Should they purchase a rig? What are your preferences and why do you set it up that way?

Earl Green, PLGT: Funny thing is, we actually get more questions about kit than we do about guns. The new shooter should consider what they will be using their rig for. For example, I encourage shooters who want to enhance their competitive skills to buy and use their competition gear on our courses. 

If you aren't going into situations where you require plates and armor then you don’t need it on a course. If you want to wear armor that’s OK too but if you are just to starting off, unless you have a lot of money, don’t buy it until you’re sure of your needs/wants. 

If you’re a new shooter but in the police or military, I encourage and often request that you wear the gear that you would operationally wear. 

Gear is more than just belts and plate carriers. For example, good hearing protection is a must and I always suggest double plugging and using amplified hearing protection so that it is easier to hear the instructor and start signals. Eye protection is a must and it must be shatter resistant, there are many offerings that are affordable and stylish.  

I run Blue Force Gear for my belts, plate carrier and chest rig. I run BFG because it is affordable, tough, easily available from a friend’s company and can be used for multiple guns! BFG has elastic mag pouches that can securely hold 5.56, .308 and even VZ mags or even tools and timers. I run a Rack Minus chest rig because it’s lightweight and easy to pack when I travel! For a plate carrier, I wear the BFG LMAC plate carrier because it is one of the lightest I’ve worn and holds up well. 

For holsters, I have different needs and so I run them accordingly. My competition holsters are all Bladetech DOJ’s because they are affordable and easy to get from Bladetech. I run Bladetech or even Eagle Industries mag pouches. For concealment courses for police, I run a Dark Star Gear belt holster and Bladetech mag pouches or I run an old Milt Sparks leather holster that I wore when I was a detective. Lastly, for duty holsters, I run Safariland 6200’s or 6004 because I've worn them as a duty holster. 

I often check EBay for holsters and I have found that there are some good, affordable, private deals on expensive belt holsters. It’s a good starting place for deals. Any firearm forum that has an equipment exchange can also be a good spot for inexpensive gear. Some guys often sell excellent gear. One point though…. Stay away from Airsoft holsters!

VZ Operators Course
Instructed by Earl Green 
Phase Line Green Tactical

Echo Tango 308: I know you run custom closed courses for government agencies. I was wondering if you are ever planning to run any ladies only courses? How would that course differ from an open course? 

Earl Green, PLGT: We have planned a couple of ladies only courses in the past and received limited response but that doesn't mean that we wouldn't do it again! Women are a large part of the firearms culture and many have an interest in learning to shoot in a non-judgmental environment. I've learned the hard way that the boyfriend, even if he is one of the top instructors in the country, is not the guy to teach his girlfriend!   

We are strong supporters of Packing in Pink and we would certainly do a ladies only course. We also have access to a top female competitive shooter as an instructor should ladies on the course prefer to have a female instructor rather than me.

Echo Tango 308: How does 2013 look for PLGT? Are your courses filling up?

Earl Green, PLGT: 2013 is going to be our best year yet! 

We have a ton of courses out west and in Ontario this year and they are filling almost as fast as we can post them! The response has been great! We have courses with government clients that we want to put our best foot forward for! And we have some pokers in the fire with some of our industry partners.

At the end of this year, I will be deciding on the viability of Phase Line Green Tactical as a full time venture. 

With the interest we are receiving from both the civilian and uniform markets, we just may have a full time gig!

A Phase Line Green Tactical patch

Echo Tango 308: How are the proposed Assault Weapons Ban in the USA and recent changes to ATT terms by certain provincial CFO’s affecting PLGT’s plans for 2013?

Earl Green, PLGT: With the panic buying that has gone on due to the AWB, we are aware that it may become difficult to obtain 5.56 and .223 ammunition here in Canada or the price of this caliber may be driven up  to the point that taking a course will present financial difficulties for our clients. Based upon this, we have decided to continue with our course adage of “you are your own ammo control board.” For drills requiring 4 rounds, students may elect to only fire 2 in order to preserve ammunition. We are also allowing .22 caliber carbines and conversion kits on our courses. Not only is .22 readily available, it is fun to shoot and many of us own black rifle platforms to launch .22’s from!

In response to the arbitrary and unnecessary changes to ATT’s that have been instituted by some CFO’s, we have had to make some minor changes to our method of doing business in relation to the information that we collect from our civilian clients. In order to protect the ranges that we utilize, we now have to obtain full addresses and RPAL numbers from our clients who take courses in Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick.  

Our clients can rest assured that any information will be guarded in the strictest of confidence and will not be made available to anyone other than the range that was used or law enforcement where a lawful request for this information is made.

Tetley, a rescued English Bull Terrier adopted by Earl,
 is the symbol and mascot of Phase Line Green Tactical

Echo Tango 308: Why is your dog, Tetley, the symbol and mascot of Phase Line Green Tactical?

Earl Green, PLGT: Tetley is an English Bull Terrier and is the third dog of her breed that I have owned. She was chosen as our symbol and brand for a number of reasons pertaining to both her and her breed. 

Bull terriers are a very intelligent breed that is also very loyal to their friends and family. They are known for their tenacity, strength, toughness and sense of humor  They can also be very protective and will give their life for their pack.

Tetley was a rescued dog who initially had some issues due to abuse but with affection and understanding she quickly overcame this and I admired her resiliency and mental strength. As a symbol, she reminds me daily to overcome any setbacks and push through with a friendly attitude. 
She has a can do, will do attitude that is very admirable.

In many ways she is much like me. And there are some ways that I wish I was more like her.

And… I think she has had direct input on a couple of lesson plans!

* * * *

Phase Line Green Tactical mobile training teams operate throughout Canada but  are based out of Ottawa, Ontario. Contact them by phone: 613-558-7236. Or, by Email. PLGT, also, operates a FaceBook Page; 'Like' them and get regular updates on upcoming courses and special events.

This interview was edited and condensed for blog publication

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