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Where Our Families Train [WOFT]: The 2024 HKPRO Experience

I was incredibly fortunate to be invited to attend the 2024 HKPRO Experience event at Where Our Families Train (WOFT) this year. WOFT is a world-class education center for real-life scenarios, safety, and instruction. Some of the WOFT-taught courses include Scenario Safety, Anti-Carjacking, and Situational Combatives. The HKPRO event is unique as it includes an MP5 course, a Combative Pistol course with VP9SKs, and a Red Dot course with full-size VP9s and Holosun optics.

The HKPRO Experience at WOFT

For these large events, they break down the students into small groups, and each day, the groups attend two different stations. What’s great about WOFT is they get to know the people attending as best as they can so the instructors can cater to whatever level an individual is at. The firearms courses were comfortable and easy for me, but the situational and combatives were the opposite. After three days, I had a list of things to work on.

Low-Light Scenario Safety

Out of all the courses to start the weekend with, Low Light Scenario Safety was by far the most stressful and intimidating one. And that’s exactly what I got to do first. The situation involved walking to your rental car, getting inside, and locking the doors without harm. Each student was given a flashlight to navigate and intimidate any threats, and if you carried a gun every day, you were armed with a simulation pistol. 

Now, I’ve been carrying a gun since I was legally able to and training with firearms my whole life, but I’ve never had to use one for personal defense. My mentality with carrying a gun is the hope of never having to use it and only as a last resort after a blade or pepper spray. The good people at WOFT knew my background with firearms and, as they should, put me in an uncomfortable situation where I felt the need to use my gun.

Stress-Inducing Scenarios

After that scenario ended, I had a minor panic attack. Unless you go through this training, it’s hard to understand the pressure and stress it puts on your body. Even though I knew it was all fake, the weight of knowing I might one day have to use my gun for self-protection was heavy. None of us will ever know how we may or may not react, but it’s good to practice some response vs. doing nothing. 

What I took away from low-light training was that I need to do a much better job of learning the ins and outs of rental cars when I’m traveling. Almost every person in our group struggled with locking the van door and ended up a victim of the scenario. If you pressed the lock button once, the doors would lock. If you pressed it two times in a row, they would unlock. I rent Toyota’s a lot because it’s what I drive at home, but if I don’t pay attention to the basics in other rental vehicles, it could be costly.

Anti-Carjacking

Anti Car-Jacking training at WOFT.

This block of instruction was my favorite of the weekend because it was extremely practical for my day-to-day life. I spend a good portion of my time driving my truck or rentals and learned a few new things that I found valuable. The first was how to unbuckle your seatbelt under stress rather than fishing for the button and not getting loose. The trick is to form a U with both thumbs underneath the seatbelt strap and follow the strap all the way down to the buckle, depressing the button with both hands. Like drawing a gun from concealment, unbuckling a seatbelt under stress can be one of the most challenging things because it’s not something most people practice.

Once unbuckled, I learned how to use the car door to my advantage as a bracing point for my feet. If someone stronger and bigger than me tried to pull me out of the vehicle, they would have a hard time doing so with me leaning backward toward the center console and pushing against the door frame.

I am good about where I have my mirrors set on my vehicle. I typically never have to turn and look beside or behind me to move lanes in traffic because I’m always aware of cars merging over, in front of, or behind me. And I also look around when I come to a stop and assess other vehicles or motorists. However, I took away two lessons from the guys running this scenario. 

Vehicle Distance & Distractions

The first was how bad it is to be close to a vehicle in front of you because you leave yourself with no escape route. I could be better about this aspect of driving, and since being at WOFT, I have been working on giving myself enough room to turn left or right without hitting the vehicle in front of me. We also went over how important it is to use whatever means necessary to escape from a threat by jumping a curb, driving through grass, and over other obstacles rather than thinking you must stay on the road. 

The second lesson I learned is how distracting cell phones can be in a matter of life and death. I’m not talking about texting and driving, although that is an issue in and of itself. I am talking about how looking down at cell phones can distract us from things happening at a stoplight, in a parking lot, or even leaving or pulling up to our homes. We all know how scenarios happen in seconds, and we spend a far greater amount of time scrolling on social media, reading emails, or texting back. I have been more cognizant of what’s happening around me before checking my cell phone, and when I’m in a transitional space, I’m constantly checking my three mirrors for threats.

Situational Combatives – Stick & Knife

Stick and knife combatives training at WOFT.

I have always wanted to find a place that is local to me and offers some form of martial arts mixed with stick and knife training. Unfortunately, no dice so far. I was so excited about this training opportunity at WOFT to learn how to defend myself with my hands or body or a non-lethal item to give me time to reach my gun. Most encounters with threats are close up, and with no background in martial arts, a gun might not do me any good if I can’t deploy it or defend myself long enough to reach it.

When I say WOFT has everything, I mean it. The room for this block of training had punching bags, dummies, sticks, trainer knives, fake blue guns, and even a small room with axe throwing, you know, for more stress relief. The group that I was with was all in sync at being at a beginner’s basic level, which is what the instructors catered to. I am looking forward to coming back next time and leveling up the training with this block of instruction so I can be better at what I suck at.

Full-Autos and Shoot Houses

Okay, I know all of you are waiting to hear about the firearms. Heckler & Koch makes some of the most coveted firearms in the world, one of which is the MP5 in full-auto. Unless you have a hefty sum stashed away and can find a transferable gun, you’re lucky to get to demo one when you have the opportunity. And boy, did we! I had a blast shooting the MP5, doing mag dumps in full-auto, and then getting to shoot at some 20 or 30 pieces of steel at random. The MP5 is easily the most controllable submachine gun in the world because of the roller-delayed blowback.

I can’t say thank you enough to HK for letting us have three whole hours with these guns and Sovereign Ammo for sponsoring. We also got trigger time on the HK53. The HK53 fires 5.56 NATO and is similar in size and looks to the MP5. WOFT built a fun shoot house for each student to run through in the red dot course, which was also used later with the machine guns. I got to rip through the shoot house at the end of the weekend using the HK53.

My friend and the man behind the HKPRO forum is Jeff Follo.

Was the HKPRO Experience at WOFT Worth It?

The author trained out of her comfort zone at the HKPRO Experience at WOFT.

I take at least one class a year and train outside my comfort zone. During my time at WOFT, I can definitely say that I was outside my comfort zone. The HKPRO 2025 event is already on my schedule, and it’s highly worth signing up for. You get incredible training from high-level instructors, shoot full-auto MP5s, ammo is included, and are fed amazing food at the range. And remember, this is a place to bring your family members to undergo this training together. You never know when you might need it.

Learn more at woft.com (photos by Kristen Anderson).

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