Training Resume

Mike Swisher, owner and lead instructor at Paladin Combatives, became fascinated with the martial arts at an early age, and in an unusual manner.  At the age of twelve, he enrolled in a hunter safety course: the type of course you take in order to receive your hunting  license.  For Mike, however, it spawned a passion for learning and training in all things Martial.

In addition to learning to shoot and lifting weights, Mike began studying Kyokushin Karate.  His training continued in the US Army Infantry (7th ID Light); corrections with the Indiana State Prison; law enforcement with the Benton Township, MI Police Department; and the Paladin Press Street Survival Seminars. Other training worth mentioning was from a regional police academy in South Bend, Indiana.  This training included programs open to law enforcement in the general vicinity.  Training topics included homicide investigation, building search and clear, and side handle baton certification.  Most of the training was job specific, but still very worthwhile.

As it often does, life got in the way and though the spark of self-defense training went dormant for a time, it never went out. Two separate incidents brought that ember back to a roaring fire. Although it doesn’t require explanation to anyone reading this, the first was September 11, 2001. The second incident was more personal and unknown to many. While on vacation in Nashville, TN, Mike and his wife were approached from behind by a less than savory individual. Fortunately, Mike’s wife saw the man and warned him. Mike spun around and came face-to-face with the individual and managed to use enough command presence to force him to back down. A hotel clerk had seen the incident on CCTV and called the police who arrived a short time later.   The police officer stated that there had been several robberies in the area by someone that met this man’s description.

Thus began the renewal of training in the way of the warrior. Slowly at first with boxing then the MI CPL (CCW) License. Soon it became a torrent of training.

NRA First Steps

Part of the state mandated training to receive your CPL in Michigan.

NRA Personal Protection Inside the Home

More State mandated training for your CPL.

NRA Refuse to Be a Victim

Good idea. Sort of like a really watered down version of our Managing Confrontations class. A good instructor can make it a decent class.

NRA Range Safety Officer

Always willing to learn new stuff about safety. Everything learned in this class were things we already had in place. That’s okay as it was good confirmation of our safety practices.

Suarez International Close Range Gunfighting x2

Suarez International’s flagship course. This was the first class that I came across the concept of shooting AND moving. It was the beginning of my movement away from the Modern Technique of the pistol.

SI Fighting Rifle Skills x2

This is Suarez Internationals entry level rifle class. It builds a very good foundation. As with many of the other classes listed here I took it twice because if you are going to teach the material you have to know it well.

SI Force on Force (Interactive Gunfighting) x2

Force on Force training is all the rage currently and with good reason. Properly structured FOF training is invaluable for preparing one for the realities of a gunfight.

SI AR/M4 Gunfighting

The AR was not what Suarez was known for at the time, but when I took this class it was from Craig Flaherty a dormant Marine and veteran Police officer who runs a M4 frequently with an entry team. Craig really got me back up to speed on the platform.

SI Advanced Kalashnikov Gunfighting x2

AK was Suarez’s bread and butter at the time. I got to take this class from Gabe Suarez and from Randy Harris. Much was learned about the AK specifically and Rifle Gunfighting in General.

SI Advanced Rifle Gunfighting x2

All platforms welcomed. Lots of movement in this class. Moving while shooting, moving while reloading, moving to cover. Intro to team tactics, which means moving with others. Good stuff.

SI Combat Pistol Instructor School

This was a class more about teaching than it was shooting. It was after taking this class that I was invited to become an instructor at Suarez International.

SI Shotgun Gunfighting

The shotgun has really lost its place as the go to long gun to the rifle for most people. There are still a lot of them out there so it makes sense to know how to run one well. No, it isn’t as simple as point it in the general direction of your threat and shoot.

SI Point Shooting Progressions

Though this class is called Point Shooting, it is just as much about movement.

SI Red Dot Pistol School

A fun class to showcase the capabilities of a slide mounted red dot sight on a handgun.

SI CQB Instructor School

This class was about fighting in structures. Houses, Office buildings, stores, all of the places where bad things can happen to good people when you are not out in the open.

SI Advanced Close Range Gunfighting

Taught by Randy Harris. Always something to learn from him. Lots of movement while shooting to various angles and a whole bunch more.

SI Trauma Medicine for the CCW Operator

A trauma medicine class that also involves Force on Force and live fire.

SI Low Light Gunfighting

Much of the information from CRG, but in the dark. Is it different from doing it during the day? Yes and for more reasons than you might think. Everyone who carries a gun should carry a flashlight, and not just to see what you are shooting at.

SI H2H Combatives

An introduction to combatives from the viewpoint of an armed defender.

SI 0-5 ft Gunfighting x2

Force on Force concentrating on the 0-5 foot range. Integrating Hand to hand, Knife, and gun work.

AMOK! Accessing While Under Attack

Tom Sotis from AMOK! is one of the big names in the knife training field. This class was about what it said, getting your knife out and into play under pressure.

AMOK! Edged Weapons Combat 1

Basics of fighting with a knife. Not a class for the faint of heart. Gung-ho only need apply.

ACT Competition 101

A great intro to learning the basics of competing with a handgun.

Denny Reichard Snubnose Revolver

Denny is a master Revolversmith often featured in articles by Masad Ayoob. He is also one heck of a shooter and teacher. Denny is now retired from a long career in Law Enforcement and spends his time at his gun store and Range, Sand Burr Gun Range.

Todd Louis Green Speed Kills and Get Some

Todd is a very good teacher and this was a great class for becoming a better shooter.

Fortress Defense Active Shooter Response

Frank Sharp and his crew put on a good class trying to incorporate many of the elements that might present themselves in an active shooter situation.

Rangemaster Instructor Development and Certification

This class is taught by Tom Givens and his staff at Rangemaster in Memphis, TN. Tom has a great reputation in the gun training community and with good reason. Over 60 of his students have been victorious in gunfights. This class included among other things, giving an oral presentation to other instructors, passing a written test, and passing the current FBI Q-course with a score of 90% or better.

Dave Spaulding Enhanced Combative Pistolcraft Skills

Dave Spaulding was a well known instructor in the law enforcement community. He is now teaching all good guys regardless of profession.

Frank White Training Todays Gunfighter and the Fighting Spirit

Though a seminar style, this class was intensely interesting. Mr. White is a legend with a lot of wisdom to impart.

Pat McNamara Dynamic Vehicle Tactics

Pat McNamara is a former member of the premier Army Special Forces unit Delta. Now retired he is passing on his knowledge and experience to others. With a very intense personality, he makes an interesting instructor.

Josh Haines Managing Confrontations

A class about what happens leading up to the fight. I was so impressed with the material and with Josh’s presentation, that I knew I had to have both in my organization.

2013 Rangemaster Polite Society Tactical Conference

This annual event hosted by Tom Givens of Rangemaster is a must attend for any serious student of the gun (or knife, or H2H). Tom brings together many of the big names in the field as well talented newcomers to teach two hour blocks on many different subjects. Some of the presenters in 2013 included Craig Douglas, Claude Werner, Massad Ayoob, Rob Pincus, and many more.

Suarez International Staff Instructor 2010-2013

An invaluable experience for me. I got to teach and learn from so many good students and work with a lot of great instructors. In four “seasons” of teaching for Suarez I gained a ton of useful insights and new methods for teaching.

Fist-Fire Level One w/ Paul Sharp

This is a style of shooting developed by D.R. Middlebrooks and is called Defensive Speed Shooting on the cover of the Fist-Fire book. It is a type of index shooting, but because of the solid index’s learned in the system it can greatly aid in sighted fire by putting your sights right where you need them when you arrive at full extension.


Paul Sharp is one of D. R.’s top instructors. He did a great job of presenting the system and coaching everyone until they were able to use it pretty well. I would definitely take another class with Paul and will most likely continue my study of the Fist-Fire method.

Rangemaster Advanced Firearms Instructor Development & Certification Course

This class is a follow up to the Rangemaster 3 day Instructor Development Course. Tom Givens is very much a proponent of fast and accurate shooting. Not only do I learn a lot about teaching in his classes, but they always challenge me to become a better shooter.

Topics covered in the class;

• Range Safety, managing risks and emergency trauma aid
• Scoring Methods, including Time Limits, Par Times, Vickers Count, and Comstock Count and their proper use
• Target design and selection
• Advanced skill drills
• Ready Positions and their selection/deployment
• Criminal Psychology

Advance Handgun with Mike Pannone

Pat McNamara had a strong recommendation to train with his old team member. This was good advice. I can honestly say this was one of the best classes I have been to. Mike had a great combination of personality, teaching ability, knowledge, and real world experience. He described Advanced as meaning detailed and advanced explanation. That is what we got. This could have very easily been labeled an Instructor class as we delved deep into many facets of marksmanship, techniques, and tactics. I would highly recommend training with Mike if you get the chance.