The Polite Society
The Polite Society is an American organization that holds shooting events designed to test defensive skills with a handgun. This organization was formed primarily by Tom Givens of Memphis, Tennessee and Jim Higgenbotham of Kentucky, both of whom have military and law enforcement experience, and both actively train civilian, military, and police departments in various places around the United States.
After exploring various formats for about a year, the Polite Society was formed as a not-for-profit corporation and officially opened its doors for membership on February 21, 2003.
All equipment used by competitors must be appropriate for everyday concealed carry. Any equipment that does not meet this requirement cannot be used in a Polite Society match.
Stages in any Polite Society event must represent real scenarios that are actually likely to happen in real life or must test skills relevant to real life encounters.
Targets used are generally one of two types: Humanoid reactive, or humanoid cardboard/paper targets with scoring zones. When using cardboard targets, the requirement is usually a minimum number of points on the target for it to be considered neutralized, and not something arbitrary such as "two hits per target". Scoring zones on these targets will place a major emphasis on accuracy, requiring the contestants to actually hit what would be considered a "vital zone" on a human.
Polite Society events do not focus on sport shooting or competition, but instead on the triad of marksmanship, gun handling, and tactical skills. Participants do not win trophies, but come to improve themselves and others, and to gain knowledge and information.
Scores are involved in many of the shooting programs, and they are scored under a wide variety of systems, but the thrust is to gauge skill, not to compete. Participants compete against themselves or against a standard of excellence.
Most major matches include separate training classes or seminars in addition to the shooting event. In particular, the yearly national tactical match, originally held at Rangemaster in Memphis, TN, then for a couple of years at the Memphis Police Department Shooting range, and now currently at the United States Shooting Academy in Tulsa, Oklahoma, hosts multiple trainers from around the country, and any shooter that attends the shooting event may attend any of the additional training and seminars of his or her choice for no extra charge. This allows students to participate in training that would normally cost much more than the nominal event fee (approximately $100 to $200). Because it involves more than just shooting, the event is usually billed as a "training event" rather than a "shooting match". Some people who attend the events don't shoot but only participate in the classes and seminars.
The Polite Society does not strive to replace or compete with other shooting sports. It intends to provide a training venue for individuals who feel that many competitive shooters focus too little on real-life skills needed by everyday permit holders and police officers.
The Polite Society supports other sports and suggest participation in them for gaining skill at marksmanship. Most of the trainers and board members hold active memberships and compete in other shooting sports, and many have served on the board of directors of other sports. The Polite Society believes mechanical skill is only one facet of self-defense, and that good tactics should not be discouraged by the scoring system, and poor tactics should be penalized.
The Polite Society has already attracted many quality trainers and is in the process of developing an advisory board of the best-known weapon craft trainers and experts extant. Already that list includes (alphabetically) Tom Givens, Marty Hayes, Jim Higginbotham, Keith Pridgen, Karl Rehn, Andy Stanford, Gabe Suarez.
Utah (Greater Salt Lake) holds a Polite Society Event the first Saturday of every month. The general public new to the concept of armed self-defense and concealed carry has become the focus of the group. Many founding members have attended shooting schools such as Front Sight Firearms Training Institute in Nevada and Gunsite Training Center in Arizona. In spring 2007, UPS hosted Gabe Suarez for a week long close range gunfighting and force on force training session. Utah Polite Society is a resource for new CCW holders as well as experienced handgun shooters.
- Beyond This Horizon (1942)