Really, What is Paul-E-Palooza?

At first I had no idea what Paul-E-Palooza was…

I had never met Paul Gomez.  I signed up and attended anyway.  How could I pass it up?  It was right in my back yard and the list of trainers that would be teaching courses was legitimate.  So, I made sure that I was at Paul-e-Palooza I.

I’m glad I was.  In many ways it has changed what I do and how I do it.



I’m not alone…

Have you ever found yourself in that kind of a situation?  You didn’t really know anything about an upcoming event, but what you did know was that you didn’t want to be missing it?  That was my situation with Paul-E-Palooza.

As is typical with my style I went for it, and since I was the hometown guy I reached out to event organizer William Aprill to see if there was anything I could do to help out.  I got way more than I bargained for on that one.  I’ll tell you all about that on Thursday, but first let’s talk about Paul-e-Palooza.


Paul-E-Palooza is a top notch training event!

Paul Gomez was a defensive firearms instructor.  He passed away in 2012, much too soon, leaving behind three children.

In tribute to Paul, those that knew him started to plan an event in his memory.  It sounds like the idea started out as a simple camping trip.  Maybe some shooting and then telling stories about Paul around the campfire.

The idea quickly grew into what his friends thought Paul would want:  A Training Event.

Paul-E-Palooza was born with a ridiculous time line.  Mid-August was Paul’s birthday.  What better time could there be…

The people that were involved were numerous and well known:

There were probably additional folks involved in instructing the event, and I have no intention of shorting anyone credit where credit is due, however, this is the list of folks that I remember being involved.

The list is long and qualified.

Anyone attending PEP had the ability to attend classes from multiple qualified instructors in multiple disciplines and this made Paul-e-Palooza a unique event.

Where else can you train unarmed combatives, edged weapons, medical, avoidance, live fire handgun, shotgun, rifle, criminal psych, gunsmithing, tactics, theory, instructor level concepts and more?

The first year was pretty amazing.  8 – 2 hour blocks over the course of 2 days packed with whatever information you wanted to learn.

There have been 2 Paul-e-Paloozas since the first and the instructor cadre has seen a few changes, but the core staff is still the same qualified and generous folks.  You see, the instructors foot their own bill to come to PEP and they don’t get paid a dime for their efforts.  They do however get a t-shirt thanks to TAD who is a strong supporter of Paul-E-Palooza.

These guys (and gals) don’t show up for the t-shirt (even though they are really nice shirts!)

The training that I have had the opportunity to participate in at Paul-E-Palooza has impacted what I teach and how I teach it.  My Critical Defensive Handgun Course would not be in it’s current form if it wasn’t for my experiences at Paul-E-Palooza.


Paul-E-Palooza is a social event!

This is part of the reason that people come.  PEP is a social event.  It is a place where these industry leading instructors and dedicated students get together as friends.  

Whether you see people coming together in the hotel lobby, one of the two classroom areas, on the range or in the sand pit where the combatives are run, everyone is greeting their peers.  There are handshakes for those that are meeting for the first time and plenty of hugs for those that have met before.  It is like a reunion.

A reunion of hard charging instructors and eager students, and those lines are blurred.  This year I taught a block on back-up guns which was attended by Chuck Haggard who was also teaching on the live fire range.  Everyone is there to learn and to network and to celebrate the legacy of Paul Gomez.

Saturday night seems to be the most social of times.  Beer and booze loosen the spirits and the wallets and a lively time is had at the auction and well into the night.

Yet there are still smiles on Sunday morning.


Most importantly, Paul-E-Palooza is a fundraising event.

When Paul passed away, his children were left in a challenging situation.  Their dad was gone and so was a portion of the income they were counting on.

There were braces, tuition to school, and college to pay for.  Paul-E-Palooza is a vehicle to make some of that happen.

As I mentioned each instructor pays their own way to get to Paul-E-Palooza.  The students’ tuition to register for PEP goes to the foundation as does the proceeds from the T-shirt sales, and the auction.  Yes, there is an auction.  Guns, knives, courses, holsters, books, accessories.  All up for auction.  All for the kids.

The auction is awesome to watch and the numbers at the end are impressive.  Again, everything is donated and everything helps to fund the life that Paul would have wanted his children to have.

Last week I wrote about changes to SSA, the content on the blog etc.  One of the big changes I’m making is implementing this book into my life.  The idea is to create a morning routine that helps to amplify your entire day.  If you want to jump start your day, take a look at the Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod.


Paul-3-Palooza: Every tool is a weapon.

Just last weekend was Paul-3-Palooza, the third PEP.  It was a great time to see friends from years past, learn and to teach.  That email that I sent William Aprill back in 2012 got me in way deeper than I ever thought it could and I had the opportunity to spearhead the logistics of PEP on the ground at Garrettsville’s Southington Hunt Club for the second year.  This year there was actually enough food for Saturday night’s dinner so I’ve got that going for me, which is nice…

I don’t know what the status of Paul-E-Palooza 4 is.  I would love to have it back in Garettsville again next year and I would be happy to help out any way I’m asked.

Regardless of where PEP4 will be held, I have the weekend blocked off and will be there.  Even though I never knew Paul, his legacy has had an impact on me.  The impact is good and I will work for it to continue.


Here is what you should do next:

PEP turned into a training event because Paul Gomez loved to teach and he loved to train.  Set aside a day and schedule some training.  Right now.  Block out a day in the next month and get into a class.

Consider training with one of the instructors in the list of those that support Paul-E-Palooza.  That might not be entirely feasible for you.  OK, I get it.  Find some training locally and improve your skills!

Comment below and share what training class you are signed up for!


Thanks for taking the time to consider what I have to say!


-= Paul Carlson =-



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2 replies
  1. Evan
    Evan says:


    Thanks for doing all that you do. This was my first year and it will not be my last. Great training opportunities and great networking opportunities for a fantastic cause.


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