Front Sight Resorts Interviews Student John Dockery
June 29th, 2006
Interviewed by Jim McMahon
John Dockery is a successful jewelry store owner from the San Francisco Bay area of California, who just recently was put to the ultimate test with his Front Sight training.
In this interview, John provides us with his detailed, step-by-step actions and thought processes that he went through, while confronting at gunpoint a suspected robber in his jewelry store.
John, by the way, is a Front Sight Gold First Family Member. He was kind enough to allow me to interview him recently at his store.
FSR: What event or reason prompted you to search out firearms training?
John: The fact that I’m in a high-risk business, being in the jewelry business. That was my primary concern. Having been targeted a couple times by gangs of Columbians that operate essentially in California, robbing high-profile jewelry stores and jewelry salesmen. In almost 30 years I have not actually been robbed, it has never happened. But I knew it was inevitable.
What they do is stake you out, follow you around, follow you home. It’s easier and less threatening for them to find out where you live, follow you into your home, hold your children and wife hostage while they tell you to go to your store, take a pillow case and clean it all out. And bring the stuff back to them. If you call the police, of course, there are consequences. Then they drive off.
So, with that in mind, I thought that we could perhaps deter a threat. Also, we have firearms, and I wanted to be sure that we are proficient with them.
The jeweler across the street has had his shop for 5 years, and has been robbed seven times, at gunpoint. I’m across the street, I’ve been cased, but never robbed.
The Columbians typically have a leader that they bring in, illegals, and they are usually teenagers that operate in groups of four or five. They used to hit only jewelry stores, then they started hitting jewelry manufacturers reps who travel to the stores. They stake out high-profile stores, and watch these salesman taking their goods in, and then follow these guys around.
The rep that was just in here got nailed by Columbians a year ago, last Easter weekend, for $600,000 in gem stones, emeralds, rubies, that sort of thing. They followed him for weeks, that’s what they typically do. Very proficient at it, and very difficult to track down. They are always regularly changing through their personnel, in an out over the border, it’s like a revolving door thing.
Another salesman, recently in here, he’s a big bouncer-looking guy. He was hit over in the Palo Alto area about two years ago, they laid him on the ground with a 45 and took his Rolex and his jewelry. They pulled up right on the main street in downtown Palo Alto. He got out of his car, looked around, went to get his stuff out of his trunk, and he no sooner popped the trunk and he’s got a gun to the back of his head. They laid him on the ground, he tried to resist a little bit, so they smacked him in the head. Another car pulled right up, they threw his jewelry in the car, jumped in, and they were gone in a heartbeat.
The Columbians are very good at disposing of the goods. What they do is rip the suitcase apart, they usually have pre-addressed mailers, boxes, and they immediately start pulling the jewelry out of everything and shoving it into these boxes. They have a pre-designed route, and they dump the boxes off in post office mail boxes, so that should they be caught, they don’t have anything. It doesn’t even take them 5 or 10 minutes. The goods go somewhere else where they can deal with it at their leisure.
It’s organized, and the police aren’t able to get there in time to prevent anything. I always had a gun on the store premises. I wasn’t comfortable with my ability with a handgun, though. It prompted me to get trained, as our inventory became more valuable and we became more a high profile. It was just a matter of time. Every other jeweler in this area had been hit, and for some reason we had escaped.
FSR: Did you have any previous firearms training experience prior to attending Front Sight?
John: No. But, all my life I have owned firearms, since I was a kid growing up in the Midwest. Started out with 22’s and 12 gauges when I was ten or eleven years old. We lived on the outskirts of town, went pheasant hunting and rabbit hunting a lot.
FSR: How did you find out about Front Sight?
John: Through a friend of mine who’s a jewelry manufacturer’s rep and a Front Sight First Family Member, I carry his watch line in my store. He had been talking with me about it for a long time, and finally I said OK, he gave me a certificate to go and do it, which I did. This was four years ago in 1999.
FSR: What made you choose Front Sight over all the other choices in the firearms training industry?
John: Basically, my friend’s recommendation. I was aware of some other places, but they were too far, and it was much easier for me going to Las Vegas.
FSR: What course did you first attend?
John: Four-Day Defensive Handgun.
FSR: What was your impression of your first course?
John: I realized, along with all the students that were there, including police department personnel, that I had no idea this training would be so good.
Lot of times, I think, it’s people’s perception that it’s a bunch of gun crazy people that go to a gun training place, and they come out not only still crazy, but deadly now.
Of course, this was the farthest thing from the truth at Front Sight. The training was awesome!
FSR: How did the initial training impact your life?
John: The hours of classroom instruction and lectures on the use of deadly force, makes you realize that this is not something to be taken lightly, whatsoever. You’ll never forget taking someone’s life. It will live with you forever. It is a serious consequence of having to deal with a threat, but you are able to sort this all out because you have already sorted it out. It’s already been sorted out. You’ve gone through that process.
I tell a lot of my friends that I talk to about Front Sight that I feel as confident as somebody who had just attained a Black Belt in karate. Not that someone who is a Black Belt in karate goes out and looks for trouble because he’s good at it. In most instances he would back away from anything, even if it was a threat, but knowing if there was no alternative he is pretty lethal. You use firearms as a last resort. I feel comfortable enough to take care of whatever I need to do at any point in time. This is the way I felt after my first course. Absolutely.
That lecture, as much as I didn’t think it was going to be very interesting, turned out to be the part that makes all of that training worthwhile. Knowing that you are comfortable and confident. Knowing what the consequences are, and it eliminates that gun craziness, or that cowboy mentality.
FSR: What aspect of the training have you found most valuable?
John: The personalized training, the thoroughness of it, just how smoothly it worked with large groups of people, the number of instructors on the line, how professional it was. It was a combination of these, and the lectures. One without the other just does not work.
FSR: Have you used any of the training to protect yourself, family or friends in a real life situation?
John: I had an incident that happened just in last February, on a Sunday afternoon, while I was in the store. The lady that works with me just happened to be looking out the window, when she noticed a car pull up in the parking lot with four men in it. She was looking at them out the window. She then saw one of these men get out of the car, with a ski mask on, with a bag in his hand, and what looked like a gun. And he was running towards our front door. So, she started screaming and yelling for me to come up quick, I was working in the back.
I have a Glock 40 that I keep hidden, but easily accessible to me, which I picked up on my way towards the front of the store. I pulled it out of the holster, and pulled it to the ready position. When the guy came around through the door with the ski mask on, his left hand was visible to me, and what I noticed right away was that it was a fake gun. It was a fake!
He came in, and I told him to stop where he was and leveled the gun at him. He started blubbering about the fact that this was a joke, that they were filming a video. The kid froze, and I told him to drop his gun. He said it was a toy gun. I told him I could see that, and reiterated to him to “Drop it!”
My heart was pounding and racing like crazy, I had this huge adrenalin thing going. The whole time I was talking to this kid, the whole time I was standing there with the gun leveled at him, I was thinking, “Thank god for Front Sight’s training!” I just kept saying to myself, “No matter what this guy does or attempts to do, I have the time, the confidence, and the ability to drop him in a heartbeat. And I’m willing to wait until he makes an outrageous move, such as pulling a gun, and actually shoot it. And then I would drop him. And I feel comfortable enough, due to that training, that I can put that bullet wherever it needs to go.”
That was the one thing that was going on in the back of my mind, in my head as I was thinking, and still talking to this guy, ”Thank god for the confidence and what I’m able to do when I need to do something here.”
The whole thing went in slow motion, and my mind was thinking, my lips were moving, and my heart pounding. I felt comfortable, not that there’s a way to feel “comfortable” in that situation. I just felt this extreme confidence that he could even take a shot, and knowing he’s not going to be good enough to know where it’s going to go. But that I would know where my bullet would go, and I would be able to drop him in his tracks if needed.
So, he’s standing there arguing with me and I told him I could see it was a toy gun, but it does not mean he didn’t have another real gun. I told him to drop his duffel bag. He had a duffel bag with him, which he did drop. And I told him to remove his ski mask, which he refused to do.
I told him that I wasn’t playing around here, that he was within a heartbeat of dying where he stood unless he took off his ski mask, and talk about what we’re doing here. He kept on saying they were filming a video, a video production thing for school. I told him “Sounds like a good story to me but you can’t walk into a Wells Fargo Bank with a ski mask on, and a lump in your pocket, without getting arrested by the FBI, so I don’t care what you are up to you are in jeopardy of your life. So take off the ski mask.”
My feeling was that I didn’t know that he did not have a gun. Criminals come up with all kinds of crazy ideas on how to rob places, and this just could have been one of those. Come in with a fake gun. See that there’s no threat to them, reach into their duffle bag, and pull out the Real McCoy. And that’s exactly what I thought was a good possibility that he was going to do. “Forget about his bullshit story.”, I thought.
Finally, I told him…”You need to take the ski mask off now! And let’s talk about who you are, and what’s you are really doing here.”
He finally pulled it off, and it was obviously a young 16-year-old kid. A high school kid. But he didn’t seem afraid. He didn’t want to give me his name. He didn’t want to tell me who he was, or anything of that nature. He wasn’t too shaken up about it. He was quite shaken up later as the police officers told me, though.
I called 9-1-1, and it took quite a while for that to happen, but pretty soon there were five squad cars in the parking lot surrounding this vehicle.
My employee said later that she felt comfortable, that she knew I had the situation firmly in hand that no harm would come, certainly to us out of this scenario.
One of the police officers came in and said I had every right in the world to shoot him in his tracks, and drop him, from a criminal standpoint. I understood that, just because of this business.
Interesting enough, a couple of the police officers were talking in a subsequent interview on this thing, a couple of sergeants, that they knew that I was trained at Front Sight, and that one of my employees here used to be a pre-Olympic shooter with lots of gun training. The police know that we are well armed and we are good at it. They kind of laughed, saying “That would be the last place a robber would want to stick up.” Then added, “These people at Dockery’s are extremely well trained, and only through his training did this kid not die.”
I think one of the valuable lessons I learned at Front Sight, was the lectures on the use of deadly force, the moral, ethical, criminal and civil aspects of the use of deadly force. It was extremely beneficial. You can use deadly force in certain circumstances and it is justifiable, and there will be no repercussions. But, It becomes very obvious in this society today that you will be sued on the civil aspect for wrongful death for excessive force. You are going to end up in a legal quagmire over this situation, regardless.
It turned out that these kids had their class notes in their schoolbooks, and they were documenting this. They were doing a video from their video production class. What they were trying to do was out-do each other, especially the boys. They were trying to find bizarre ways to get a good grade in class with some crazy video. This whole “reality” phenomenon. Real cops, real hold-up, real life and death. They were very eager to one-up everybody else with the biggest stunt on videotape.
It was extremely dangerous, and could have been deadly. A lot of things could be dangerous, but the stupidity of all this is ludicrous.
As this whole scenario was happening in front of me, I was not only thankful for my training, but looking at the consequences of what I would stand to lose if this went down poorly, and I was willing and confident enough to wait until the last possible second before I ever had to do it. My life, my employee’s life, people walking by the store or on the sidewalk, people out in their cars, all of these things I was looking at, and what the consequences might be if I pulled that trigger. It’s the training at Front Sight that has given me this confidence and discretion.”
FSR: How many courses have you attended at Front Sight to date?
John: Just the one handgun course, because of the time constraints.
FSR: How many other students have you directly or indirectly referred to Front Sight?
John: I talk to anybody and everybody about it. I’ve had four certificates used, and a couple of them have signed on as First Family Members.
I’ve got five people coming to Front Sight this summer, a police officer, and some friends from Michigan and Oklahoma.
FSR: What is the biggest challenge you find in trying to encourage friends to attend a course at Front Sight?
John: Interestingly enough, I do not find much resistance to trying it out.
FSR: When did you become a Front Sight First Family Member?
John: That first weekend I bought it. My first course.
FSR: What level membership did you purchase?
John: A Copper membership. Then I upgraded to Silver. Now, I’m a Gold Member, which means I can take all the courses that I want.
FSR: Why did you choose to become a First Family member?
John: My desire to go back and attend other courses, and just how great the facility was and the plans for its growth. I really wanted to do the rifle training too, from a hunting standpoint. They just have a lot of appealing courses.
FSR: What is the purpose of the Front Sight Organization?
John: I think Naish has pretty well stated his mission and purpose, to protect the Second Amendment and our right to keep and bear arms. And I think we are all learning in these days of terrorist threats, and the reality of all these things, that the police are only there to serve in the police reporting business. There’s not going to be police officers on every corner. They are just not going to be there. And basically, they are there to clean up the details, after it has happened. The idea that you can call 9-1-1 and someone’s going to save your life is ludicrous.
If we love out families, and our wives, and our children, we are not going to let somebody stand there with a gun to hurt or shoot them. How could someone live with themselves after something like that?
FSR: What does Front Sight, and your participation with it, really mean to you and the future of firearms ownership in this country?
John: There is a lot at stake here. Freedom is not free. There is a price to pay. This is one of the last Constitutional issues that continues to hang out there, that most of America still feels that they want to hang onto. The right to protect their property and defend themselves.
FSR: If you were standing at the speaker’s podium in a large stadium, addressing 100,000 people, and you only had one minute to tell them why they should attend a course at Front Sight, what would you say?
John: I would simply say that there are threats out there in this world today. And if you value your own life, and the life of your wife and family, and you desire to protect them from unforeseen circumstances, wouldn’t you feel comfortable knowing that you could change the course of events by being confident and extremely well trained? Comfortable knowing that you can actually effect a change in the scenario if need be?
FSR: What course are you going to attend next?
John: The rifle and shotgun courses. I intend to do a lot of them because its good to have these training skills, and I’ve always enjoyed hunting.
FSR: Thank you John, we’ll see you at Front Sight!