© 2005 Chuck Klein

P. I. MAGAZINE (Fall 1997)
If you're a licensed professional and you carry a gun, documented training with this tool of survival (both literally and civilly) is the prudent thing to do. Now, finally, a quality tactical defense academy in the MIDWEST! Most of the high level gun schools such as Gunsite, Thunder Ranch or The Smith & Wesson Academy are all located on the coastal portions of the USA. Now those in the midwest section of the continent, who are serious about self-defense, have a closer location to train.
For courses available, click here.


Tactical Defense Institute (TDI) is located about an hour-and-a-half east of Cincinnati in the Appalachian region of southern Ohio. The TDI firing ranges are in a valley (400 foot elevation) surrounded by 1100 foot densely wooded hills - perfect to contain errant shots. The neat and clean 186 acre operation includes rifle ranges out to 400 yards; multiple, multi station and stationary handgun target groups; live fire house; Code Eagle house; Walking/Jungle range with moving, pop-up, and camouflaged targets. For classroom instructions a modern building with florescent lighting, forced air heat/cool system and a locker room. There is nothing fancy or pretentious about any part of the operation, just sturdy, built-to-last quality.

On the day P.I. Magazine visited TDI, Chief instructor John Benner was conducting the second day of a two-day, Level 5 Handgun course. Benner is a veteran of Vietnam and a retired Lieutenant of the Fairfax, Ohio police department. In addition, he spent 22 years with the Hamilton County (Ohio) SWAT team - 20 of those years as its commander! Currently, he serves as administrative coordinator of the Drug Abuse Reduction Task force. John is certified to instruct by the Ohio Peace Officer Training Council, and is a guest instructor for OPOTA in addition to being coauthor of the nationally used Close Quarter Personal Control (CQPC) program.

Promptly at 9 a.m., two of the eight instructors on duty this day began running the 20 students through a series of warm-up exercises. The participants ranged in age from the 20's to the 50's and about half and half, civilian to police. The morning practices and instructions, all on the range, consume a few hundred rounds per student (total rounds for the two-day course will be about 1200). The warm-ups include timed draw-and-fire, timed and untimed multi-target engagement, move-and-shoot and barricade maneuvers. The shooting exercises are all the same as will be utilized in the afternoon scenario shoots. There is no scoring - just individual and group critiquing by the instructor. No one leaves the firing line with any doubts or questions.

Although there are light moments, these are not fun & games drills. The instructors never waiver from the seriousness of the subject: teaching that it's your life that's on the line! Though some graduates engage in competitive shooting contests, and the courses taught do hone those skills, the focus here is on real life preservation techniques.

The methods taught at Tactical Defense Institute are state-of-the-art techniques, some of which have been improved upon by Chief Benner and other members of the organization. Staff instructors include police officers, SWAT members and others with training specialties.

After a lunch break the adrenaline really begins to flow. The participants are broken down into groups of four and rotated from one range to another. Here the lessons learned are put to use, some against the instructors themselves.  To read more about the live fire houses, click here
Tactical Defense Institute applicants, open to men, women, police and civilians alike, are required to sign a liability waiver. Also, each student must sign a statement that they: "are not a fugitive from justice...under indictment... convicted of any felony or offense involving illegal possession, use or trafficking in any drug of abuse...not drug dependant...chronic alcoholic... or under adjudication of mental incompetence." TDI makes no bones about the fact that they don't want any "undesirables" running around with loaded guns and learning the esoteric and trade practices of self defense. Their application form notes that the student supplied information is confidential EXCEPT for background checks.

Benner, to the right of the screen, instructs a student in one of the newer state-of-the-art techniques taught at TDI. Here the barricade shooter stays a few feet back of the barricade. This method pioneered by TDI exposes less body area than the old barricade contact method.

Phone: 937-544-7228
FAX: 937-544-2887


Private investigators and others who carry a personal weapon for self defense should complete some professional course in tactical use of their firearm. Successful fulfillment of TDI's courses not only prepares one for self preservation, but establishes a basis for civil liability should the student later become involved in a firefight. . . and besides it's fun!



(Clockwise from top) Walther P5, 9mm; Sig Sauer226, 9mm; S&W 940, 9mm; Colt 1911, 45 ACP; Ruger P90, .45 ACP; Glock 17,9mm; H&K USP, .40 S&W; Glock 21, 45 ACP; Colt 1911, .45 ACP; Sig Sauer 226, 9mm; Beretta 92FS, 9mm; Glock 22, .40 S&W; Glock 26, 9mm.

For class schedules, costs and registration contact:


2174 Bethany Ridge
West Union, OH 45693






John Benner, over his long career as a police officer/trainer, has made many contributions to law enforcement and this personally designed and developed a tool of last resort for police officers might be his crowning achievement.

Designed to be worn on the pants belt - under the duty belt and on the non-gun side, it is well concealed, yet readily accessible. If you're ever in a fight for your life and your gun hand is "busy" fending off the attacker or trying to keep him from grabbing your gun, this small knife might be all that stands between your life and the end of his hostilities. Manufactured and marketed by Ka-Bar, with its dual sided scabbard, it might be the best $39.89 you ever spent. Direct from the maker: www.Ka-Bar.com


Courses Available

Level I Handgun: (one day) Introduction to fundamentals of modern defensive shooting techniques including use of deadly force, safety, weapon care and more. Ammunition required: 150 rounds. (firearms available at no charge; certified police officers may skip this level)

Level 2 Handgun: (one day) Learn smoothdraw, reloading, malfunction drills, angle and position shooting and shooting on the move. Ammunition required: 600 rounds. PREREQUISITE: Level I unless waived by staff.

Level 3 Handgun: (one day) Honing handgun skills and introduction to tactical self defense skills including use of cover and concealment; use of space and proper movement within buildings. Ammunition required: 600 rounds.

Level I thru 3 Handgun
: Special three-day course designed for out-of-town students. Intensive training. This class fills fast. Ammunition required: 1500 rounds.

Level 4 Handgun: (two days) Weapon handling proficiency for target acquisition and tactics. Course includes flashlight/low level light shooting, intensive "night" live-fire house and Jungle Lane work. Ammunition required: 1000 rounds.

Level 5 Handgun: (two days) The ultimate in self preservation training. Course teaches scenario training including Code Eagle exercises in the live fire houses - against the instructors. Other attributes cover concealed carry techniques and more. Ammunition required: 1200 rounds.

Other courses available: (Check web site for dates) Tactical Shotgun, Level I & 2, Precision Rifle; Edged Weapons Course, Tactical Rifle/submachine Gun (Civilians using Class III weapons must bring ATF paperwork for validation check) and Close Quarter Personal Control.



Live Fire Houses:

Used for search and secure practices these unique "houses" are open-framed, multi-roomed buildings with plastic sheeting for walls. The use of the plastic sheeting, coupled with doubled hinged doors, facilitates rearrangements of rooms and halls. Since shots might be fired in any direction the "houses" are bunkered with earth mounds on three sides and sand filled partitions in the front. During these exercises an instructor follows each student through the course.

THE BEST OF CHUCK KLEINThe Code Eagle house is named for the ammunition used: Code Eagle. These plastic rounds are propelled by a small pistol primer. The plastic bullets contain a dye that marks where the shot hit. They are very accurate at short ranges, and very painful, too. For protection each participant must wear full face mask and a protective heavy coat. No student weapons are permitted on this range - only instructor-loaded revolvers are allowed.

For this exercise two instructors are concealed inside the maze of plastic sheeted rooms while loud rock music (to add to the stress) is played on a boom box. The instructors are both armed with Code Eagle loaded revolvers while they move about, taunting the student with verbal shouts. A third instructor follows the student for critiquing. In the excitement of the battle many participants fail to disarm the first instructor he or she "kills" - a fatal mistake if, in real life, the "killed" is really only wounded. 

See FIREARMS TESTS by Chuck Klein