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“Safety is something that happens between your ears, not something you hold in your hands.” 
Lt. Col. Jeff Cooper, founder Gunsite Academy

Working in conjunction with Defenders USA

to About

JNL Training LLC is a husband and wife team based in Whitehall, Montana. Both are USCCA certified instructors. In 2022, Lora was selected to be a Defenders USA instructor, which is an honor in the training industry, as the company's founder, Adam Winch, is one of the premier trainers in the country.

See Lora's bio & formal training at Defenders USA website.

JNL Training is just the business name behind the people, Justin and Lora Thorson. 


Lora truly enjoys connecting with students and helping them grow in confidence and skill. She believes building solid shooting and mental foundations, especially in the beginning shooter, are integral in starting her students on the right path in their training. 

Justin is an excellent, patient instructor as well as a proficient shooter. He is always looking to help others and is excellent at filling in the gaps when Lora misses something!


Both Justin and Lora believe that the most powerful weapon you have is your mind and using it to keep yourself safe is of utmost importance. To learn more, sign up below to join the Defenders Weekly zoom conversations. Every Wednesday at 7pm MDT.


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Every Wednesday at 7pm MDT


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Defenders LIVE is a weekly livestream created to help you grow as a defender. What does that mean? We will be touching on the usual self defense topics, but we will also be talking about wellness in all forms to help you grow personally in your everyday life. I believe that being a defender is about a lot more than only learning skills on the range. Join me every Wednesday at 7pm MDT.

TO SEE PAST REPLAYS and CLIPS, join the Defenders LIVE with Lora Thorson Facebook group!

A message to my viewers:

When I started this Defenders LIVE journey July 27, 2022, I jumped into the deep end of the pool. I didn't really know what to expect, but I definitely didn't anticipate the flood of support of my peers, viewers and friends.


I have been asked how a person can contribute to these livestreams. Below are a couple of options for those who feel they want to help me continue my journey to help others. Thank you for your kind words & encouragement! It is so very appreciated.


First I just want to say that the day was mind-blowing and your part in it for me was key.  Thanks for having my physical and psychological back all day, for the amazing support, reminders about safety with the triggers, the eye to eye connection, the encouragement and acknowledgment.  It would not have been the same, at all, without you. 


For a one-day immersive workshop on a topic that one might describe as skills-based, which it was of course, the experience has had an unexpected psycho/spiritual impact.  My “identity” has expanded and it took a few days to get used that. And I’m not sure that the larger “who I am" has yet been fully integrated. So interesting! Challenging in some ways and also, to use a cliche perhaps, empowering.

— Sally

Oct 2022


Thank you so much for a wonderful experience today! This women's course was amazing-perfectly and expertly structured for women only. Thank you Lora for your leadership, and for sharing your knowledge, tremendous experience and hands on instruction. The world is a safer place because of you.

God bless!

— Nancy

Feb 2022

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Upcoming Class Schedule

If you don't see the class you are looking for please contact us below and we will work to accommodate you. 


Private Instruction

Private one-on-one instruction is available. This instruction is personalized based on your goals and your skill level. Private instruction is also available for small groups.

Article written for the February 2022 issue of The Lewis & Clark Journal.

Responsibly Safe
by Lora Thorson

As the rate of violent crime in Montana continues to surpass the national rate, many of us who live here are surprised and wondering what we can do to keep ourselves safe. According to an article in the Daily Montanan from November 2021, Montana’s crime rate has surpassed the national rate since 2018. In 2020, Montana’s rate was 470 compared to the national average of 398 per 100,000 people, according to the FBI’s crime data explorer.

I was recently having a conversation with a student about this topic and she asked me what my number one recommended weapon is for personal safety. Since I am a USCCA certified firearms instructor, I think she was surprised to hear my answer.

I told her that the number one weapon that can help keep her safe is what’s between her ears. Let me explain. It’s more than the old cliché that knowledge is power. I don’t even agree with that statement. Knowledge by itself is not power. Applied knowledge, however, can be very powerful.

And while having the skill and proper training is critical once you have no other choice but to defend yourself, learning how to avoid those situations altogether will protect much more than your physical safety. You will be protecting yourself financially because you will have avoided going to court to defend yourself legally and and you won’t have to explain why you did what you did to a jury. In addition, you will be protecting yourself emotionally and psychologically as you will have avoided the potential trauma associated with a violent attack altogether.

So, how do we learn to use our knowledge and apply it? We learn simple strategies and apply them to everyday life, not just once in a while or when the thought arises. Make it a lifestyle to be personally responsible for your own safety as much as you can. Doing these things will help keep you out of trouble and avoid the situation in the first place. Can’t avoid the situation? Well then you may have to rely on your applied knowledge in self defense, whatever form that takes, but that’s for another conversation.

Let’s focus on some simple, common sense strategies that can help you stay safe and avoid having to defend yourself in the first place. That would be our best case scenario, wouldn’t you agree? First, let’s talk about situational awareness. Situational awareness is simply being aware of what’s going on around us. It’s important because it can allow you opportunity to increase your distance from the potential attacker and/or allow yourself more time to think and respond appropriately. In other words, you won’t be as likely to be caught off guard. How many people do you notice walking around with their nose in their cell phones and attention focused within a 3 foot area of themselves? Do you think they might be an easier target than a person with their head up, aware of what’s going on around them?

This seems like common sense to some, but as one of my friends says, “Common sense is not a flower that grows in everyone’s garden,” and I agree. You would be surprised what percentage of people have zero awareness of what’s going on around them at any given time. Just take a look around and observe next time you are in an airport, grocery store or gas station. Now, most importantly, assess yourself and notice the times you are not aware. You may be herding kids, loading groceries into your car, pumping gas or going for a walk. Are you paying attention to what is around you? If you are, you have a much better chance of survival because you may have a chance to act before it’s too late.

One more note about situational awareness: this does not mean that we need to walk around in ninja mode with our head on swivel. We just need to be aware enough to see a potential threat coming and be able to take action, whether that action is to avoid, escape or defend. One of the best depictions of situational awareness is a chart made by Colonel Jeff Cooper. It’s called the Color Codes of Awareness.

The first condition in the Color Codes of Awareness is Condition White. This is where you are completely relaxed and completely unaware. You should avoid this condition, especially when in public. Next is Condition Yellow. This is the condition you should be in anytime you are in public. In this condition, you are still somewhat relaxed but aware. Condition Orange is the next color code. In Orange, you have identified a potential threat and you have decided if the threat is verified as such, you will take action, meaning to avoid, escape or defend. Condition Red is the last color code of awareness. In Condition Red, you have verified the threat and you are taking immediate action to avoid, escape or defend.

Next, let’s talk about one of the most important biological survival mechanisms we have, our intuition. Have you ever had a bad feeling about someone or a situation? Maybe you can’t quite wrap your mind around why you felt that way. This is a survival mechanism hard-wired into your body. My advice is that when you have a gut feeling, listen to it! I can’t count the number of cases I’ve read where when looking back, the victim had a bad feeling about the situation but did not listen to his or her intuition and tried to brush it away. You can guess what happened next.

When I talk to students about this, a majority can think of a time when they have felt this way. However as a society, we have been conditioned to be so nice and not offend anyone, that unfortunately many of us justify it away, putting ourselves in potential danger. My best advice is to always listen to your gut and put your safety above possibly offending anyone just because you think you should be nice. However, that is not a free pass to be a jerk, either.

Lastly and possibly the easiest action you can take to keep yourself safe is to stay away from situations where there is a higher chance for something to happen. In addition, if you find yourself in a verbal encounter, do not escalate it. Try to get out of that situation quickly and safely. A way to keep yourself from being vulnerable might be as simple as not taking shortcuts through dark alleys on the way back to your car. Stay with the crowd and don’t separate from the group. Human predators can be compared to 4-legged ones because many of their tactics are the same. They look for weak, unaware and most importantly, easy prey. Do not be easy prey. Be a hard target. If they see easy prey such as someone unaware, by themselves, or with no one to witness their actions, they are more likely to seize that opportunity.

The bottom line is you should never feel bad about doing what is safe for you. It is better to feel dumb later than to be a victim today. With that said, there is no need to be paranoid either, but the more training you have, the more confident you will be in identifying potential threats and handling the situation. Again, as I said before, you have to use what’s between your ears. It’s there for a reason. ◊

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JNL Training

Whitehall, MT



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