After personally earning Kelly McCann’s confidence and successfully marketing his Defensive Shooting series and Jim Grover’s Combatives Series, I had the great honor of working with Kelly to produce all of his Paladin™-produced instructional videos. During this process, Kelly approached me with the idea of doing a video series on his streamlined combat handgun curriculum. Unlike his original shooting series, which was intended primarily for high-speed shooters, he wanted to focus on the simplified curriculum that he developed for many of his law-enforcement clients—in essence, a shooting program for the “common man.”

As we discussed the topic further, he mentioned that an ideal time to do it would be during an Individual Protective Measures Course (IPMC) that he was planning to do for a small group of civilian students. I suggested that we document the entire course, rather than just the shooting. Kelly was concerned that some of the other material covered in the course—like unarmed combatives, collapsible baton tactics, and use of less-lethal devices—would duplicate the information in the other videos we had already shot. We finally decided on a format that would focus only on the new information. Whenever the flow of the course would lead to instruction in a topic that had been covered in another video, we would simply point to that title as a reference. Ultimately, this turned out to be an outstanding format that gives the viewer the best of all worlds—and the ability to pick and choose the disciplines that interest you most.

The shooting of the IPMC course was conducted over five days of rigorous training, sometimes involving 14-16-hour days of camerawork. All of the students participating in the course—except one—graciously agreed to appear on camera and allowed us to document their progress through the training. In this way, we showed their mistakes, their learning process, and their ultimate mastery of the material as they progressed through the instruction.

The one student who refused to support the project actually attended free of charge to document the course for Black Belt magazine. Although he did a good job on the article that resulted, his abilities as a photographer left a lot to be desired. The photos that actually appeared with the article were all mine, shot between and in addition to the video camerawork that I did.

Like all Paladin™ videos during my tenure, I did all the primary, close-up camerawork, as well as all the lighting and audio set-up. Per Kelly’s preferences, the style of camerawork mirrored that of the Jim Grover’s Combatives Series videos, which were shot by one of his students—a former Marine who did extreme camerawork for ESPN. This physically intensive style of shooting is exclusively hand-held and stays right on top of the action as it happens. As such, the IPMC course became a non-stop, run-and-gun video shoot that required intensive focus, but remains one of the most satisfying video productions of my career.

Volume 1 of the Inside the Crucible series focuses primarily on the fundamentals of handgun shooting and gunhandling. It includes both dry-fire drills and live-fire exercises and is an excellent primer to the critical skills of defensive/combative handgun use. In it we included all the students’ common mistakes and the corrective training necessary to overcome them. Unlike a traditional instructional video that only presents the ideal, this approach addresses all the things that beginners typically do wrong, helps you identify them when they happen to you, and then provides corrective drills to train proper technique.

Michael D. Janich