East Texas self-defense organization sees increased need for training in community

Published: Jan. 14, 2022 at 5:30 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 14, 2022 at 9:25 PM CST
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - In the last week, some East Texas churches received threatening phone calls which forced them to take action. Houses of worship, schools, and businesses have all become more involved in self-defense training and security for their facilities.

“Here very recently we experienced some phone calls that were going on throughout the area. So, yes, ma’am, there have been some situations,” said Bobby Herrington, the director of operations and safety at Marvin United Methodist Church. Security goes beyond just security cameras for them.

“We’ve implemented a safety team here at the church. We’re just trying to keep up with what’s going on in the world. As far as getting training up here for the staff, we’ve done a few of the active shooter drills, some safety drills, and stop the bleed drills,” Herrington said.

Ray Barron is the director of operations and training for Freedom Defense Training. They started the training 10 years ago when they saw a need in the community. In the last five years, he said they are seeing an increase in clients, both beginners and those who are more advanced.

“The last couple of years, there’s been a shift in the trend on what people want to learn. It’s not just about firearms anymore,” Barron said. “It’s really about more total emergency preparedness. How do I do the full spectrum of emergency preparedness for myself or my family or my organization? Cause there’s more to it than just a gun.”

The classes have expanded to more than just firearm safety. They have survival classes, women’s only classes, and school and home safety. Their training offers participants scenario-based instances to best prepare them.

“What if I don’t have a firearm? How do I handle myself if a human puts their hands on me or comes at me with some kind of weapon?” Barron said. “Our goal is to train them to actually be the weapon and not just depend on a tool.”

Some of the common threats they train for include active killers, kidnapping and protection of minors, and domestic violence. Last year Barron’s team came to Marvin UMC to train staff members and do a threat assessment.

“There were certain areas of the church that he told me were vulnerable for things. So we had to step up our protection game to meet those needs,” Herrington said. “That’s our job here, protect the flock. It’s a big responsibility and it’s sad, but it’s something we have to do nowadays.”

To learn more about the defense training they offer you can visit Freedom Defense Training’s website.

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