WON Landing Page OCT 2022

Keeping Our Kids Safe with FASTER CO

I’ve been a homeschooling mom for more than 20 years and my children are always with me. I also run a homeschool program where we meet in community at least once or twice a week. The safety of our kids is a huge issue for me and the parents on my campus. We not only want to implement an emergency protocol, but we also want to have parents who are equipped and skilled at an even higher standard than your average concealed permit holder in order to keep our kids safe. While some sit around making noise and wringing their hands about “gun violence” and stricter controls, people like Laura Carno actually do something to make a difference in protecting our children.

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Julie and Laura
Julie and Laura

Five years ago, I was introduced to Laura, who, according to the website, founded “FASTER Colorado in 2017, and has been traveling the state to promote and run the program. When tragedy strikes in a school shooting, Laura has become a go-to for state and national media to bring a calm, reasoned approach to school safety, and how armed security teams can keep children safe.” Laura is involved on many levels in bringing awareness and education to schools and staff all over the state and beyond. Laura doesn’t just run the program; she attends all the days of every training and it is evident that she takes tremendous care to make sure that those who attend leave with quality instructions and meet high standards. 

Pic of kneeling shooting

So, what is FASTER? FASTER stands for Faculty/Administrator Safety Training & Emergency Response. The original program, called FASTER Saves Lives, started in Ohio and they did their first out-of-state training in Colorado in 2017. Laura pushed to get it established in Colorado, and, under the banner of Denver-based free market think tank, Independence Institute, they have had the program up and running since 2017. This year, FASTER Colorado has established its own 501(c)(3) and by the end of 2023, it will have run at least 200 school staff through Level 1 alone. There are four levels, each building on the skillset of the others. They have descriptions of each of the courses on their website, as well as class schedules. 

Range pic

Back in 2019, I took Level 1 training with 23 other school staff from various schools in a three-day course. Many of them represented schools that were in more rural areas where emergency response would be critically slow. None of them were forced to carry a gun; in fact, many of them were not only volunteers, but also were designated by the school leadership due to their skills and their mindsets. 

Outstanding Instructors
Outstanding Instructors

The website explains that “Armed school employees are not intended as a replacement for Law Enforcement and EMTs. Instead, they can save lives by being there —at the point of attack. Armed school security teams are the real first responders. They can save lives until Law Enforcement and other emergency responders arrive.” Armed staff are especially crucial when the response time is an average of 45 minutes or more for some of these schools. 

Armed staff

I did not really know what to expect during this training and I was blown away by how well organized it was and by the caliber of the instructors. With Quinn Cunningham as lead instructor as well as a top-notch cadre of others, I learned and refined skills in an intense, yet complementary, mix of class and range times. Class time involved discussions and presentations on mindsets, not only of the active killer, but also of the defender. We talked about strategies for the classroom and worked on open-hand skills. 

Level 1 Crew
Level 1 Crew

Level 1 is really an excellent foundation where we drilled the fundamentals from the holster, worked on improving marksmanship, and then moved into some aspects of close combat, working through tactical situations, and then spent time using their virtual training and simulator to run through more realistic scenarios. I love that we also worked on some tactical combat casualty care practice (applying tourniquets, creating a solid trauma kit) as well as some other field medicine exercises. Even at the first level, the training was well-rounded and covered a diverse set of skills.

Behind Cover

The training culminates in running the Colorado POST (Peace Officers Standards and Training) and scoring 100%. No misses. Misses result in some form of physical activity that induces discomfort and pain to remind us that every single shot must be accounted for. The stakes are high, so the standards and training are serious and robust. We all worked hard not to be the ones to set the group for discipline! 


The following year, I took Level 2. Level 2 is a two-day class and builds on the skill set of the prior level. We went over the fundamentals to make sure our proficiency hadn’t diminished and we were still able to shoot the POST qualification at 100%. On day two, more focus is on moving and shooting, shooting from different positions including sitting in chairs, and even some teamwork. The force-on-force session in close quarters really gets the heart beating and the training takes on a whole new level of intensity. We work to understand cover and concealment, different shooting positions, and long-distance shots.

Scenarios and strategies FASTER CO
Scenarios and strategies

This summer, I got my Level 3 certification and it took me very much out of my comfort zone. First, you must prove your skills by passing the CO POST qualification with no misses in the morning session. My Walther PDP-F series in 4-inch with the Holosun Optic really performed well. Then we start really doing more moving and shooting from various positions, and a LOT of moving targets. It was super challenging, and I have to admit it really stretched me to be among such proficient shooters. I don’t want to give the training away but they set up a scenario that mimicked an actual event, so it was very sobering and I admit that I was moved to tears when I contemplated the terror and the tragedy of that day. We did this particular training in remembrance of a courageous student who gave his life to save other students.

As Laura said, a student shouldn’t be the one to have to engage with an armed killer. It should be a ready adult protector. That day, I ended up with more resolve to train to be more proficient and quicker.  

School Scenario FASTER CO
School Scenario

The next day we spent most of the time in CQB (Close Quarters Battle) that simulated being inside a school with airsoft guns. It was probably some of the most realistic training that I’ve done so far since we had someone who played a threat while shooting and pointing a weapon at us. We spent the day “doing scenarios in a school environment with a focus on close quarter tactics, priority of work, room clearing strategies, decision making and responsibilities, and mindset.” I was really challenged and I did not perform as well as I had intended or hoped. I saw where I needed to improve, so that means I need to train more. Although I passed the certification, I want to take Level 3 again to feel more confident and to make sure that I develop a more instinctual response to engaging a threat. You never know what you’re going to do until it’s time and there is always room for improvement. 


I’m determined to finish all four levels of the FASTER CO training. Please don’t let this summary intimidate you. It is meant to show that this is a high-level training for high stakes situations and this training will not disappoint. To take Level 1 successfully, they highly recommend newer shooters to get comfortable with the handgun fundamentals and working from a holster. Pistol instructors around the state like me are preparing some of these students by offering FASTER Essentials. I’m currently taking a cohort through Essentials to prepare them for a future Level 1 training, focusing on the most difficult aspects of the POST qualification such as malfunctions and reloads but mainly for focused range time. 

Always Learning

Throughout the courses, I spoke with quite a few attendees and the same sentiment is carried throughout the weekend; in a world gone mad, we are grateful that this type of training exists where we can do something and not sit idly and helplessly by. The courage, determination, and readiness of these teachers, caretakers, principles, and even secretaries, to protect, and possibly die, for these kids is truly sobering and inspiring. I was so proud of those who pushed themselves outside their comfort zone and rose to the challenge of taking the time to do the hard thing. Please consider supporting this amazing non-profit organization and other faithful sponsors like Bullets Both Ways because it might be your child’s teacher or coach who defends your loved ones. If you’re a teacher and this resonates with you, contact FASTER Colorado for details on how to get armed staff on your campus and get them trained and ready for the worst day of their life. 

CQB Instructors FASTER CO
CQB Instructors

Read more about FASTER Colorado here.

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  • About Julie Park

    Julie Park was born in South Korea, raised in Canada, and is now living in her beloved Rockies in beautiful Colorado Springs with her husband and 5 kids. An attempted break-in transformed this stay-at-home, unassuming woman into a pistol-packin’ mama serious about the safety of herself and her loved ones. She is a certified NRA pistol instructor and Chief Range Safety Officer, and has been teaching and training women (and men!) just like her for the past several years. She has been a chapter and state leader in women’s shooting organizations and an instructor at her local range. She loves discovering new guns and products for women and sharing her passion with others. If she’s not shooting and training, she is homeschooling her kids, enjoying travels and connecting with her favorite books and people.