My various training travels over the years have brought me into contact with a number of outstanding and interesting people that have changed my thinking or my outlook on important matters. In some cases it was a brief intersection with someone else on the range that taught me something I wasn’t really expecting to learn. In others, I’ve made friends for life.
If I had to name the person who has had the biggest influence on my thinking and development over the years it would be easy: Todd Green.
Todd is the mind behind Pistol-Training.com, which is likely best known for the downright brutal extended torture tests he performed on a number of pistols. Before striking out on his own as an instructor, Todd worked for Sig and Beretta where he acted as a military/law enforcement rep and often as a trainer for their weapon systems. In that capacity he had incredible levels of access and insight into the training of elite law enforcement and military units on the front lines of the War On Terror that shaped his outlook on training and standards.
Before and during his tenure with Beretta and Sig, Todd sought out training with some of the best instructors in the world. Instructors like Ken Hackathorn, Tom Givens, and Ernest Langdon had a profound influence on Todd’s development. (As I understand it, Ernest Langdon actually recommended Todd for his position at Beretta) Todd was also involved with competitive shooting personally and helped run at least Beretta’s sponsored competitive team. This, too, shaped his philosophy. When you swirl all of that together with his law degree (Todd actually worked for the Washington DC US Attorney’s office Violent Crimes Unit) the end result was a very unique voice in the firearms industry.
When Todd worked at Sig and Beretta as a rep, he was often an advocate for the end users of the products. He told me that on more than one occasion he was chastised for acting more like a rep for an end user than for the company…but that’s just how he did things. Todd identified with the end users of the products betting their life and the lives of others on the function of the guns he was selling them moreso than the guys in the back office doing the accounting. He had high standards for himself and he wasn’t inclined to let others get away with mediocrity, especially when he knew lives were on the line.
Once on his own as an instructor, his experiences in the industry and in training led him to write some pretty interesting pieces. Exemplar would be his superb article, Trust No One.
Todd and I began corresponding on a firearms related web forum just shy of ten years ago. I wrote some things that apparently he thought made sense and he reached out to me and struck up a couple of conversations. That eventually led to taking his signature Aim Fast, Hit Fast program on the recommendation of Jay Cunningham of Protective Shooting Concepts. AFHF made it abundantly clear to me that I needed to completely overhaul everything I thought I knew about shooting a handgun. It was downright demoralizing. I don’t even remember what my score was the first time I shot the FASTest, but it was ugly. Really ugly.
So I forgot everything I thought I knew and started over…and Todd, often known for poking fun, was incredibly supportive and helpful. I mean, he still made fun of me, but he was incredibly helpful too. My skill with a handgun increased by leaps and bounds. I had the distinct privilege of joining with Todd and a relatively small group of other guys nearby who had been to his classes for a number of range days and with each one of them I improved dramatically. I always thought of myself as the worst guy there and I quite often had my butt kicked, but the benefits of surrounding myself with people who were smarter and more skilled than I was paid incredible dividends. Life hack time: Surround yourself with people who are better and smarter than you. It pays off.
The classes with Todd and the range days were so beneficial because Todd is one of the best coaches I’ve ever encountered. He was a skilled instructor who put together a superb program…and I heard no less an authority than Ken Hackathorn praise the value and benefits of Todd’s classes in person, with my own two ears…but of even more value than that was his ability to watch what you were doing and give very specific feedback that made a huge difference in performance.
It is an unfortunate truth that there is a lot of shade and shenanigans in the firearms industry…but Todd always acted with honesty and integrity. Todd was honest and up front with me when a number of others weren’t, and I’m convinced that the reason why he was on such good terms with so many people in the community is precisely because of his character.
I think the best way to show you what kind of man he was is to direct you to this post he made about what we affectionately called his bionic elbow. Todd took a lot of pride in being skilled with a handgun and because of cancer he had to re-learn everything. To go to zero from a place where your peers recognized you for your skill can be tough…but if he struggled with that he never really let on.
After a visit with him shortly after the elbow replacement I told some of the other guys that I thought he looked a tad frail, but seemed to be in good spirits and excited about getting back to it. He emailed me that day:
“Elbow or not, I can still out-shoot you any day of the week!”
To which I replied “Of course. Because I just donated all my practice ammo money to your cancer charity. So when I suck I’m going to blame it entirely on you.”
“How is that any different than your normal excuse?” he asked
“It’s not. That’s the beauty of it!”
Todd was constantly doing things for people behind the scenes. I couldn’t possibly list all the acts of kindness and favors he did for people, all the encouragement and help he gave to others because it’s too massive. I’m as good an example as any…I wouldn’t be writing if it wasn’t for Todd. When Caleb announced a writers contest a couple of years ago Todd told me that I should throw my hat in the ring. I thought he was nuts, but as was often the case he turned out to be right. He was always gently nudging people in the right direction, making connections behind the scenes, and providing input and assistance for others.
On March 15 at around 2 AM, Todd passed away. I was fortunate because I had a chance to spend some time with him in the week before, and I had the chance to say a proper goodbye.
His wife Kimberly was by his side through all of it and was so incredibly gracious…I wish I could really convey to you how wonderful she has been to those of us who cared about him. It took a lot of logistical wrangling and effort to make those final visits happen and those of us fortunate enough to be able to visit with him cannot possibly thank her enough for all she did to accommodate us and to care for our friend. Often when guys hang out together they tend to gripe about the other half. Todd never did. He always insisted that poor Kim got the worse end of the deal in their marriage.
I’m profoundly sad that I’ll never get to share the range with Todd again. That I’ll never get to go to dinner and spend 3 hours talking about training and obsessive firearms details with him again. That I’ll never get another sarcastic email from him again. That I’ll never get to listen to him try and psych me out before running me through the FAST again. That I’ll never completely freak out the waitstaff at a restaurant as we pass around knives and talk about classes and real life experiences with him again.
My skill as a shooter is better because of his instruction and coaching…but my life is better for having had him as a friend. Todd was a friend for life. I just wish so very much that his life could have been longer.
I love you, brother. And I can’t tell you how much I miss you.
If you would like to donate to Todd’s cancer charity, Rampage for the Cure (Archer reference, of course!) click here.