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UndiSCovered: Franklin Defense

Constantly challenge yourself and your training.

You don’t have to listen to podcasts or read FITSNews to know the world can be a dangerous place. Thankfully, we have law enforcement and the military offering different levels of protection to us as citizens. Beyond that, though, what steps can we take to make ourselves safer?

Obviously we can install home security systems – even monitor them from our smart phones – but is there a more empowering way to feel a sense of security for ourselves and our loved ones?

How liberating would it be to know you were prepared to act if your life were threatened? Imagine the confidence you’d gain if you knew you could protect yourself and your loved ones from an imminent threat. Well, those are among the skills you’ll acquire at Franklin Defense – and you’ll have fun learning them, too.

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(Via: Franklin Defense)

Shortly after I started at FITSNews, founding editor Will Folks encouraged me to check out Franklin Defense – a new business opening across the street from his favorite coffee shop. Initially, I wanted to join my co-workers for a tour of this company – but the more I thought about the services it provides, the more excited I became and the more I wanted to find out about it for myself.

Robert Salters, the company’s vice president of marketing, was the first person I met upon arriving. Robert gave me the low-down about the company’s new Irmo, S.C. facility and its many training areas. 

Next, I met Logan Norris – the son of the company’s owners – who filled me in on his family’s impressive military history.  I still had questions, though, so Logan directed me to his father, Darren Norris.

“If you really want to understand what we do here at Franklin Defense, you should come back and I’ll put you through training,” he told me.

Gulp.

My first thought was that I would need my coworkers to join me because I wouldn’t have any idea what I was doing, but I nervously agreed – and set a time to meet Darren two weeks later.

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TRAINING DAY…

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(Via: Franklin Defense)

When the day finally came, I was still nervous – but also still excited to see what this opportunity could teach me about this business, the people who founded it and about myself.

Darren met me at the door and following a short, mandatory safety briefing, I accompanied him into the virtual simulation room.  Here, he equipped me with a ‘gun,’ demonstrated proper handling of the weapon and ran me through several virtual scenarios. 

I started by aiming at targets so I could focus on my grip and on my hand positioning – as well as my coordination and posture.  Next, Darren ran me through some virtual active shooter situations (that seemed very real) where I was shooting at virtual people

To say my blood pressure went up is an understatement …  

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CONTINUING THE TOUR …

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(Via: Franklin Defense)

After this virtual shooting exercise, I was given a tour of facility’s two-story gym – which includes weights and a designated cardio area. I foresee this area getting a lot of use – especially as an outlet for pent-up frustration from missing targets (or as a way of relieving the stress induced by one of those active shooter scenarios).

Next, we trekked to the second floor where I found a table covered with weapons and tactical gear.  Spread across the table was a wide array of Simunition weapons, Simunition ammo and very real and heavy-duty tactical gear.  I chose two weapons – a FN SCAR airsoft and a Glock 17T Simunition pistol with 9mm FX ammo. 

It was during this demonstration that I began to comprehend just how well Darren knows this stuff … all of it … like the back of his hand.  This particular business venture might be new, but his knowledge of all things security-related and his ability to instruct trainees is not.

I knew immediately I was being trained by a pro … 

(Click to view)

(Via: Franklin Defense)

After arming myself, we headed downstairs to the non-lethal shoot house.  Darren gave me a skill refresher and then gave me my orders – to ‘clear’ the rooms one-by-one.  For accuracy’s sake, you should not picture me having beginner’s luck.  After each sweep the dummies were relocated to new, unknown positions for yet another round of ‘clearing’ the rooms.  

With each new exercise, I began to gain additional confidence – but as I entered the room one last time, seeing someone just inside the door surprised me.  I’m very efficient – so I coordinated an explosive f-word, a backwards leap and simultaneous firing of my weapon.  As soon I opened my eyes, I saw that I had shot the dummy in the back. And, as Darren pointed out, the dummy was unarmed.  A double-whammy folks.  I shot an unarmed dummy in the back. 

Oh, and it was a kill shot. Triple whammy? 

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(Via: Franklin Defense)

Darren used this as a teaching opportunity – something to really consider at the end of my training session.  This type of training is not only critical for agents, officers and military personnel, but also for anyone owning or planning to handle any firearm.

Firearms, tactical gear, personal security and protection were all foreign topics to me before my visit to Franklin Defense.  Throughout my in-depth and personalized training session, Darren facilitated an introduction to these topics while encouraging me to “do better” and “be better” as a person.

I no longer consider myself a stranger to this world – and I hope everyone who trains at Franklin Defense leaves feeling as empowered as I did (and as inspired as I was to learn more).

Now that I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and learning from Darren, I want to introduce him and his family to our readers…

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(Via: Whitney Salley/ FITSNews)

WHITNEY SALLEY: Can you start by giving us a brief history of your military and security careers?  And  at what point did you begin teaching this curriculum?

DARREN NORRIS: I joined the Navy right out of high school serving as a machinist mate which is a propulsion engineer. I spent 27 years in law enforcement retiring in Oct 2020. I worked patrol, K9, SWAT, Narcotics and held several leadership positions.  I was certified as an instructor from the SC Criminal Justice Academy in 1995. 

WS: I met your son, Logan, and your wife, Tracey.  I was interested (and impressed) to learn they also have military histories.  Can you fill us in on theirs as well?  

DN: Tracey had her 20th anniversary in the Army last month. Logan has been in the Army National Guard for 8.5 years with a combat deployment to Syria.  Franklin Defense is founded on my father’s legacy. His name was Franklin and he over 41 years in the Army retiring as a CWO4. In addition to that he served ten years as a police officer in Myrtle Beach 1958-1968.

WS: What led you and your family to open Franklin Defense and how would you describe your mission?

DN: Franklin Defense is a company that is focused on providing quality training to the public. There are millions of gun owners in the US. However, only a small percentage of those gun owners seek additional training in the use of their firearm and associated tactics. During a critical incident of any type, a person will default to their level of training. We want to help level them up should their life or that of someone else’s depend on it.

WS: Who are the other core members of your team?  What aspects of the business do each of you handle?

DN: I handle the overall operations and training management. Robert is our marketing and graphic designer that brings everything to life visually and Tracey manages the scheduling. Rick is one of my lead fitness and tactics instructors as well as a VP with MUR Strategic. He brings over 33 years of experience as a Navy SEAL having served in numerous leadership billets.

WS: At one point during my training session you commented “safety first, above all… no matter what you’re doing”.  I could tell this is extremely important to you.  Explain the sterile environment that Franklin Defense maintains and why your guests can feel safe there.

DN: Our customers place their trust in us to not only train them, but to keep them safe while training. We take safety very seriously and conduct risk assessments on everything we do so we can mitigate that risk by implementing proper safety policy. Anyone who presents a safety hazard to other students will be dismissed from training. A sterile environment means we control what comes into the building. Anyone attending training in the shoot house will conduct a self-check, buddy check, and instructor check prior to entering. This is to ensure no one has anything on their person that could harm others. Additionally, each firearm and each round of Simunition FX ammo is inspected for safety.

WS: Franklin Defense offers multiple areas for different types of skill-building.  There is a simulation room housing a virtual shooting simulator –  with over 850 programs.  There is a two story workout area, a non lethal shoot house… tell us a little about each and what they’re used for.

DN: Sure, you can read about all of our offerings here.

WS: I see you are active on social media – Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.  What do you see as the primary benefits?  Does it have drawbacks?  And do you have any social media tips for other small businesses?

DN: Social media platforms have been a valuable way for us to disseminate content on what we are doing at Franklin Defense. Sometimes their community guidelines can pose to be challenging since much of what we do involves firearms.

WS: Anything else our readers need to know? 

DN: We will be offering lots of contests with prizes given. We will partner with Alpha 41 Outfitters to do gear reviews online and give away grand prizes such as a pistol or rifle to the winner. We want people to enjoy their experience training with us while improving their fitness and acquiring lifesaving skills in our training program. You can track us on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

Whitney Salley is the operations manager at the Columbia office of FITSNews. With a background in customer service operations, Whitney provides support to the FITSNews team and is editor of our UndiSCovered series, which focuses on small businesses around South Carolina. You can reach Whitney here.

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BANNER VIA: Franklin Defense

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