About Us


Atlas Defense was founded in 2016 by Marine and Afghan veteran Marc Holley.  Holley was a foreign police advisor as a Military Police officer and Combat Marksmanship Coach (5811 & 0933) in support of Operation Enduring Freedom from 2010 to 2011.  Shortly after, he participated in Southern Accord, a joint police training exercise with the South African National Defense Force in 2012.  

Returning to the civilian world posed it's challenges, and it was during that time that Marc began work in Thomson Reuter's Global Security department.  After supporting crisis management in response to events like the Boston Marathon bombing and civil unrest related to the 2014 World Cup gave a unique insight into corporate risk management and the importance of preventing security risks.

Transitioning home wasn't easy though, and Holley ended up back in Afghanistan in support of the Helmand Security Services contract with Academi.  Private security contracting work gave Holley more practical experience living and working in high threat areas.  It was on that 13 month contract that Marc decided to begin writing the classes for Atlas Defense.

Returning home late 2015, Marc got engaged to his wife, Heidi and launched Atlas Defense on January 1st, 2016.  Atlas Defense is founded on the alchemized and research-backed insight that more could be done to balance our approach to violence; with equal emphasis on both prevention and reaction.

Most use of force statutes expect a reasonable person to respond to a threat with the minimum level of force necessary.  Putting this into practice places most people at odds with the current identity-driven gun culture we have in America today.  Simply identifying as a "good guy with a gun" ignores reasonable force and the competence, judgment, and mental resilience that makes a truly responsible gun owner.

That's exactly why we want to empower every client to feel trly safe on their on terms.  Therefore, we share what's possible on both ends of the prevention  - reaction spectrum.  Especially when addressing organizational resilience, clients more often than not want a culture shift to empower their employees to share the responsibility of safety at a given workplace.  Over the years, we have made customizations to a variety of workplaces ranging from:

  • Charter Schools
  • Data Centers
  • Law Offices
  • Accounting Offices
  • Service Industry
  • Security Teams
  • Boutique Fitness Studios

Most clients bring us in to consult on external and internal security risks, ranging from domestic disputes spilling into the office to external actors gathering information on soft targets like children at recess.  That last example is based on a true case for one of our clients, who hired us after they caught people taking photos of their school and children at recess.  

That's why our Safe Workplace training modules put clients in an immersive, experiential workshop with scripted Threat Actors who play out those warning signs.  In the short video below, we set this stage up to teach our clients (elementary school teachers in this case) how someone may try to manipulate their way in through a back door not normally accessible by the public.  This video was shot after returning to this client every 6 months for 3 workshops in total. 

 Our Threat Actor uses five different social engineering techniques that have been used to get through this delivery door.  With the right training, these teachers were able to work together and deter the "delivery man" from using the back door.

 Threat detection and deterrence are just the beginning of violence prevention though.  Our actors have also taught clients de-escalation, communication, and even coordination with local law enforcement & first responders. 

Being a consistent source of expert information keeps us on the shortlist for safety teams when unexpected situations arise.  Recently, one of our clients had a direct armed threat to their workplace and called Atlas Defense for advice when their local police department refused their request for investigation or increased presence.  Understanding the gravity of the situation, we connected that client with a local security specialist, Fairline Services, who posted an armed guard at the workplace for the duration that the client needed them.

In that case, with a direct security threat, we knew the best way we could put the client's mind at ease was to both lean on their staff training but support it with a more direct way to react due to the credible threat of violence.  We would never give blanket advice to all clients to have armed guards at schools/ workplaces.  That over-reliance on reaction is what's driving fear of crime up despite the fact that violent crime trends have been decreasing.  

That's why a more nuanced approach is needed to empower every client to feel safe on their own terms.  When a client has a direct security threat or are already gun owners, we have resources and training to support that.

Especially with gun owners and security teams, building out training plans that improve competency, accountability, and judgment has helped thousands of people over the years.  Owner Marc Holley first got his experience in firearms training started in the Marine Corps, where he assisted in training over 800 Afghan National Police members (Operation Enduring Freedom 2010-11), 200 South African National Defense Force members (Southern Accord, 2012), and hundreds more fellow US servicemembers.

The wide variety of "clients" Marc worked with in the military taught him some core underlying themes that seemed to create the most ideal learning environment.  Ranging from basic training to teaching foreign police without an interpreter, he learned to simply treat people the way they want to be treated and they're more likely to value and retain the training.

That's why we leverage these qualities to cultivate a relevant and inclusive training environment on and off the range.  Classes like MN Permit to Carry and Firearms Familiarization are typically booked on your schedule, with classroom time being run in your home or office and live fire at the closest reputable gun range.  Learning in the familiar environment of a home or office both makes you the client more comfortable and the class material more relevant.

Beyond the classroom, our clients also are aware that firearms competence is a perishable skill.  That's where our Range Club training comes in, both in a one on one and small group setting.  One on one live fire coaching facilitates similar progress as a bodybuilding trainer, albeit that your progress is made on the range instead of the gym.  Research shows that learning in small groups also aids in retention and application, so our monthly group training has been fulfilling that need more frequently into 2020.

Click here to learn about upcoming live-fire training!













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