Yesterday we lost one of the brightest, most important lights in modern self-defense training.  Dr. William Aprill was a criminal psychologist whose understanding of the mindset and behavior patterns of violent criminal actors was unsurpassed.  He also taught a keen understanding of victimology, the study of victims of violent crime.

He taught people how to see danger coming, how to avoid it if they could, and how to prevail against it if they couldn’t avoid it.  He was highly skilled with a handgun, and his knowledge of general physical combatives is one reason William was a part of the ShivWorks Collective of trainers, with Craig “Southnarc” Douglas, Cecil Burch, Paul Sharp, and others.

Dr. Aprill was also a man of boundless generosity. If any of us trainers ran across someone who was suffering over how they had handled a crisis, William was always willing to counsel them…at no charge.  He was the prime mover behind Paul-E-Palooza, a regular training event whose entry fee proceeds went to the children of its namesake, Paul Gomez, another of the great modern trainers who died all too young.

I met William Aprill decades ago, when he took his first of many classes with my then-school, Lethal Force Institute, and he was a guest lecturer at my current one, Massad Ayoob Group. He contributed an important chapter to my most recent book, “Armed Defense: What the Experts Want You to Know.” One of the finest instructors I’ve ever seen in any discipline, William was the proverbial fountain of knowledge who leavened psychological terminology with common sense and was as much at home lecturing to ordinary folks as he was to other doctors.  He knew the importance of gentle humor to temper the darkness of his subject matter.

I know I wasn’t the only one who urged him to write a book. I hope his survivors have enough of his teaching materials to assemble one. In the meantime, he leaves us with multiple interviews and recordings of his lectures. One, from our mutual friend Dr. Z-Man, can be found here:

or watch Video Here.

There are more on YouTube under “Dr. William Aprill.” At this writing William’s website and blog are still up, at .

William was only 52.  It is not a cliché to say, “We are diminished.”


  1. I was so very sorry to hear of William’s passing. Many who have a keen intellect and high level of competency, especially those who work in the social sciences and psychology, are a bit stand-offish and hard to approach, but William was neither. He was one of the nicest guys to talk with, had a great sense of humor, and was always willing to help you in whatever way he could. “We are diminished” is very appropriate. RIP, William!

  2. I was in LFI II or III with him and he was an amazing guy. He was the guy you both wanted as a kubotan training partner because he was so good and an excellent teacher and didn’t want because it was gonna hurt! We will all miss him greatly.

  3. He is gone too soon. I’m so glad I got to learn from him last December at the MAG reunion. He will be sorely missed by us all

  4. RIP Brother, So few in this field have the ability to articulate the conflicts between Law Enforcement and Mental health in such a clear and knowledgeable way. I can honestly say I learned more from William in a couple of hours than I did in three years working alongside mental health professionals in the policing environment. William was unique and irreplaceable he will be missed.

  5. Was very saddened to hear about this. He was a font of unique knowledge. Man knows not his time. If you have something you need to do, do it now, for we don’t know what tomorrow brings.

  6. I first met Dr. Aprill when we were classmates at the Rogers Shooting School. I met him again at the MAG 10th Reunion in December at Live Oak where he put on two fabulous presentations. His ability to share his knowledge and wisdom will be missed. It is needed now more than ever.

  7. I am so glad I met and got to know him a little in Live Oak back in the early days. I remember his insatiable desire to learn new things and learn them well, the gentle way he spoke and his wicked sense of humor.
    Gone to soon and I agree Mas, I hope someone writes a book about this wonderful man’s life and all the help he gave to those in need and the knowledge he contributed. He was a humble man that will be missed by many.
    Rest in Peace Doc.

  8. Mas, thank you for a beautifully written remembrance of William. It did a terrific job of capturing the many facets of this unique man. While I still am in mourning for my brother, reading things like this does give a bit of relief, if only momentarily, from the grief.

    Thank you. And also many, many thanks to YOU for being the person to be the catalyst for William to become a public instructor. If not for you, he would not have reached so many people and helped almost as many.

  9. Re friend David H. above and acting now: a caliber being somewhat overlooked for peace officer snipers is the .25 ACP. Hollow-points in this round would be ideal for shooting relatively short-range shots at the posteriors of existential threats, a la Jeff Cooper’s ideas. Ow!, eh? Watch ’em hop then! Back in the day, .25 ACP was fairly popular among trappers because ignition tended to be more reliable than .22 rim-fire. A very serious issue if a dangerous predator like a cougar or a wolverine was only trapped by a toe, or so. Accurate shell adapters for various rifle calibers, from Marble Arms for example, were in common use. .25 ACP would be well suited for use with suppressors today. Sniping even at vicious criminals should only be done if absolutely necessary, of course, and certainly only by qualified experts. Please do not try this at home. Thank you.

      • Thank you again for clarifications,sir. A similar perspective on the dubious Joe Biden idea of “shooting just to wound” might be “when in doubt, don’t shoot at all.” Interesting that in the constitutional carry state of Arizona, even making a loud noise in a populated area of Maricopa County is basically illegal, let alone firing a warning or wounding shot from anything without over-riding legal cause. Not to say that just cause doesn’t often occur among a population of millions of homo sapiens.

    • Strategic Steve,

      If you want to influence the behavior of rioters wouldn’t rubber buckshot or rubber slugs be the way to go? This has the advantage of not needing a specialized weapon, as any shotgun could do it.

      I wish the police would arrest the mayors for taking the side of law breakers against business owners. Then the police could put a stop to the violence and hold elections to replace the traitorous mayors. Of course I know I am dreaming. Police have to follow the law. They can’t do what is right, because what is right is illegal.

      I used to think it would take an atomic bomb to destroy a city. Now I see it only takes a Democrat mayor.

      Here is the scientific formula;

      Democrat mayors + time = Detroit

  10. Friend Roger, shotguns make noise, and rubber pellets and slugs still seem a little too risky for PC riot control. Some kind of fairly quiet 24-hour-duration-sticky-web thrower might be better. Call it “sticking it to the rioters.”

    • @ Strategic Steve – “shotguns make noise”

      Maybe making noise (perhaps at ultrasonic frequencies) is the solution. Various military and police agencies have been doing research into creating sonic weapons. Some of these devices are being designed for the purpose of non-lethal crowd control and crowd dispersal. See this article on Wikipedia:

      • Friend TN_MAN, imagine a sound-weapon arms race, or a street duel using sound beyond boom-box scale. Time to move to the moon?

      • If the technology can be developed, then someone will do so. Better for it to be the USA rather than the Chinese.

        Fortunately, most shooters own some type of good ear protection (ear plugs, ear muffs, etc.). One downside of this technology is that I am sure that Billionaire George Soros will be happy to buy ear protection for Antifa and BLM.

        Time to invest in ear protection / sound deadening stocks? Might be a growth area in the future! 🙂

      • Strategic Steve,

        In the past, I’ve done some thinking about using sonic weapons, which I call “musical warfare.” Many years ago teenagers used to hang out in a public place in my town, waiting for their junkies. Adults wanted them to move along. I suggested playing opera or classical music in the area, but no one tried that.

        If Hillary had won the 2016 election the perfect song to blast in her direction would be “American Woman” by the Guess Who, a Canadian band.

        Trump should play “No More Mr. Nice Guy” by Alice Cooper and “Magic Man” by Heart at his rallies.

        If I was to mix it up with Antifa using baseball bats, not guns, I would want “Hair of the Dog” by Nazareth, “Street Fighting Man” by The Rolling Stones, and “Saturday Night’s Alright” by Elton John playing in the background.

        Have you ever seen a news conference or similar gathering where a speaker gets drowned out by a heckling crowd? If I was the speaker I would have a separate microphone connected to a loud amplifier with the mic turned off. When I needed to be heard above the noise I would turn on that mic and blast everyone with my words like I was the Wizard of Oz.

        All of these mega sound systems would have to be protected by guards to keep the opposition from pulling the plug or finding a circuit breaker.

        Musical warfare would be so much fun!

  11. I was privileged to have taken his unthinkable class and sat through his lectures at the Palooza and Rangemaster. Very sad to learn of his passing. Had a great sense of humor too.

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