Self defence training is among one of the many services offered by equipment, procurement, and support solutions specialist AE Tactical. But with an upsurge in safety concerns in TT and reports of violence against women, the company is in the process of repackaging its defence training model to create one especially with women in mind.
“Currently, I can’t elaborate too much on any of those initiatives just yet, but they are to enhance the safety of women with training that is well-founded on principles and techniques that are known to build a level of skill and competence… by teaching critical survival skills such as situational awareness and physical counter-measures,” AE's managing director Luke Hadeed told Business Day. The programme is expected to be implemented in March.
The Trincity-based family-business has been supplying the military, law enforcement, first responders and the defence industry with equipment and services for over three decades, and Hadeed said it has added to its catalogue of products over the years as the need arose. The company sells firearms, duty gear, footwear and uniforms, among other things, and offers firearm and specialist training.
“We've been in this industry for over 35 years and this company was born out of supplying equipment for law enforcement, military and public safety professionals. It’s what we've been doing for a number of years and it has been our mainstay of business.
“As the environment and the conditions in the country evolve we've been adding more to our services and resources.” He said the #metoo movement of 2017, a social movement against sexual abuse and harassment in which people, mainly women, publicise allegations of sex crimes, has resulted in an overwhelming demand for self defence programmes for women and the company was willing to create a model to meet that demand. This new programme will incorporate some of the tactics from similar programmes and some add ons.
He said although his company has a very solid customer base, many of whom have already shown interest in participating, it is not just open to regular customers.
“Women from the community at large can sign up… it’s for everyone to be able to increase their confidence level.”
The training will be firearm or non-firearm related, and he emphasised that only holders of provisional or substantive firearm licenses can participate in the former.
“Those (firearm training classes) will be specifically for people who have been granted firearm licenses, whether it’s their first time or they need re-training. But they must be provisional or substantive license holders.”
In addition a store that is open to the general public, the AE Tactical building houses an indoor shooting range and a classroom.
Already, advertising on social media has begun but a price structure has not yet been set. “Typically, the cost of one of our one-day eight-hour programmes is around $650. But what will happen in March is continuous training because these skills will take a while to develop, so a monthly fee will be attached.
“Our instructors will be conducting a number of different techniques and principles that will be effective at times when participants really need it. We want them to approach these classes and be consistent like they would the gym, dojo or karate class, where the skills are continuously delivered in critical areas.”
The programme will cover from basics such as understanding how to dress appropriately – wearing the right type of footwear or clothing to comfortably run and create distance between victims and their assailants – to more complex self-defence techniques like while driving, taking public transportation, or walking from their office to their car.
“Basic counter measures and situational awareness are very important. And the programme also covers things like making high-powered strikes to assailants.”
Defensive tactics instructor and range safety officer Joshua Lee told Business Day training the mind to accept the gravity of what’s happening in the world is just as important a defence technique as any other.
“We need to see the world the way it is, not the way that we want it to be. It can be very cruel, so we sometimes need to put ourselves in a mindset, not a paranoid one, just understand the crime situation is what it is today, and if we want to be safe we have to train and operate in that model. And that only comes with repetition and training.”
Hadeed has observed an increase in the demand for firearms in recent times.
“These are different times for woman, and for people in general in terms of security,” he said, and he is convinced the uptick in demand is as a result of more applications resulting from safety concerns and because of a “more efficient system put in place” to process firearm applications.
And, he said, despite the constraints brought on by the covid19 pandemic, his company has not hit any major hurdles over the past year. “There have been new challenges and difficulties in conducting our business just like everyone else in the country, but things have been more or less flowing smoothly.”
He said he is pleased to see that some of the enforcement techniques being employed by the police service is leaning toward non-lethal equipment, some of which his company sells. “I appreciate recent implementation of more hand-to-hand control techniques by the police so that enforcement becomes a little bit more seamless and it reduces injury to the public at large.”
He said AE Tactical supplies the state with CED (conductive electrical device), or what is commonly known as tasers.
“Taser (is) not the device, it is a brand-name, and the parent company of that brand name is called Axon.” Hadeed’s company also supplies the state with body cameras.
“We have law-enforcement grip cameras that has a great deal of functions for law enforcement.”
He said although there are things in the “system” he may not always agree with, he and his company are all for supporting the men and women who defend the security and safety of TT.
“There are things that we disagree with from time to time, but generally speaking we at AE Tactical support the men and women of the protective services by providing them with equipment and services that enhance their safety, their comfort and functionality in carrying out their duty.
“We need to, as a country, be united in the fight against crime, united in the fight against this global pandemic and united to be productive as a society.”
How to get a firearms licence
According to the TT Police Service website (ttps.gov.tt) you have to have a firearm user's license (FUL) issued by the commissioner of police to carry and use a firearm in TT. Once you are over the age of 25, you can apply for a FUL. But before you can get one, you must get a provisional license which allows you to train at a shooting range. To get the provisional license, you need to complete and sign an application form, and provide two passport sized photos and a police certificate of good character. The provisional license is valid for two months and after it expires you can then apply for the FUL.
The process of applying for the FUL is the same, with the addition of a certificate of competence from a licensed firearms instructor.
There is no fee for either the provisional license or the FUL.
For more information go to https://ttps.gov.tt/Services/Special-Licenses/Firearm-Users-License