Flash Site Pictures

Flash Site Pictures

Five quick tips on reducing the anxiety of shooting your first match.

Don’t launch into a soliquoy with a sketchy person who’s headed your way: Keep your tape loops short.

Just what makes a holster “Retention Level 1” vs. “Retention Level II”?

Successfully completing this drill with my Shield was what convinced me that yes, I could defend my life with that little subcompact 9mm. Not only that, but I got my first hit at 50 yards within 3 seconds, from concealment. If you can do that with your carry gun of choice, there really ain’t a whole lot more you need to worry about. After that, you’re just gilding the lily.

How not to teach a concealed carry class. Kinda reminds me of my “Top Ten Signs You’ve Chosen A Bad CCW Instructor” article.

The Working Gear Bag.

The Working Gear Bag.

I’m going out on location for stories more often these days, and there’s also the fact that I usually attend SHOT and/or NRA each year. As such, in order to keep all my krep in one place while doing such things, I built up a small little bag that will hold all my “Hi, I’m a gunwriter” stuff, but not weigh me down too much.

And just so you know, this sort of bag has been an obsession of mine for decades now. When I was a (photo) shooter, I worked up a nice little Domke-based kit that could hold an FM2 w/drive, a 105 f2.5, a 20 and a 35 f2, along with a 285, cords and a brick of film. There honestly was very little I couldn’t shoot with that rig, and it went with me everywhere*.

So I built this kit to be lightweight and easy to carry, but still have all the tools I need to write and shoot a story on just about any topic. Also, because I’m a paranoid right-wing gun nut, I tossed in a few little trinkets needed to get by should things get dicey. This all fits into the cheap-o sling bag I bought earlier this year, and it’s light and small enough to carry around for extended lengths of time without getting in the way.

Clockwise From Upper Left

Prep/ Daily Use Gear
Bandanna, lighter, some simple pain killers, rain poncho, a few first aid items, a mylar poncho, Imodium, painkillers, Tums… the kind of things that make you say “Oh, I wish I had (X) right now!” I’ve carried that sort of stuff with me when I was a photo assistant, and it comes in useful all the time.

Backup Battery for Phone
This is one is a bit bigger than most, and I like having that extra power on-hand. I use my phone for both consuming media (videos, Spotify, etc.) and creating media (photos, writing) so having enough juice to keep it going all day makes sense to me.

Camera
Here’s the deal: I know sweet bugger all about today’s cameras. I got out of the photo business right as digital came onto the scene**, so as such, I know my ancient D70 and that’s about it. Fortunately, for me, Tam‘s kept up with what’s going down in digital cameras, and on her recommendation, I picked up a gently used Nikon P7000 on Amazon for a song.

And that little thing is a joy to use. It’s the perfect blend of my old beloved FG and my old and even more beloved Olympus XA, with a few new digital tricks thrown in. It can do 90% of what my D70 can do and costs under $200. How cool is that?

Strobe
Repeat after me: Built-in flashes SUCK. I’m still working on getting it to fire correctly via remote TTL, but pound for pound, that little Meike strobe is amazing. It has full manual down to 1/128, tilt and swivel, a built-in slave and it also comes with that little diffuser. It ain’t gonna light up a room, but it’s just dandy for fill flash or portraits. Oh, and did I mention it’s got a USB plug on it so you can recharge Ni-CADs without opening it up? So. Cool. I’ve also tossed a small soft box (not pictured) in the back pocket of the bag to help smooth out the light a bit when needed, with some pretty good results, as we shall see…

Keyboard
Love that little iWerks folding keyboard. I’ve used it for almost four years now, and to be honest, I prefer using it for serious writing than I do my laptop or desktop computers. Yes, the feel on it is a bit weird and some of the keys aren’t where they’re supposed to be, but when I use it in conjunction with my iPhone or iPad, I’m forced to concentrate on just writing, which makes me much more productive.

Tourniquet
SWAT-T. I’m trying to standardize on those because a) they work and b) they’re a little more compact than a CAT.

Phone Gear / Cords
SD Card connector for my phone, various cords and plugs, spare batteries, etc.

Pocket Trauma Kit
This one is my own creation, but it’ll be swapped out for a PHLSter Pocket Emergency Wallet as soon as it shows up on my doorstep.

Multitool
Warming up to that little Gerber Suspension. The price is certainly right, it feels good in the hands, and it’s got all the stuff I need with very few things I don’t.

Nitecore T10 Flashlight
A disappointment. The Internet told me it was one of the best budget flashlights out there. The Internet was wrong: Go with this ThruNite instead. It’s about the same price, and it has basic features like a tail switch that the NiteCore doesn’t have, along with other features like variable power.

To give you an idea of what all this stuff is capable of, I took that photo of a Walther PPQ SC with  the camera and strobe I just talked about, edited it with Photoshop Express on my phone, and now I’m finishing up this post using the iWerks keyboard.

I think I’m set.

Other stuff I have in the bag are pens, pencils, business cards, a little book, some earphones… all the little stuff you need when you’re away from a hotel room for an extended length of time.

And no, a gun is not part of this get up. I’m not that big of a fan of off-body carry anyways, so if I have a gun, I have it on me, not in a bag. I do, however, have a spare knife in the front pocket of this bag, because knives are always handy. The purpose of this bag isn’t to keep me going in a grid-down situation, the purpose is to keep me churning out content in the middle of a gun-related convention.

 

* Check out The Strobist for the modern-day equivalent of that type of shooting.
** I mean, I’ve never used Lightroom. Ever. I was born Photoshop, and I’m a-gonna die Photoshop.

The White Stripes.

The White Stripes.

There are reasons why martial arts dojos hand out stripes to the white belts: They help build confidence and encourage people to come back for more training beyond the basics.

Which got me thinking. What are the post-CCW stripes out there? What incentives do you give your students to do more besides a printed-out Microsoft Word Template that says you completed the bare minimum of training needed to carry a gun around in your state?

Standards matter. You and I may know what a clean Dot Torture says about your ability to shoot, but to a person on the street, it doesn’t seem that hard, and more importantly, it’s not a badge of recognition that is immediately identifiable as a significant accomplishment. The various state-level concealed carry tests scattered throughout Claude’s book are a great start, and it’s got me wondering if there are more tests out there that are recognizable outside the gun community more than a clean 5×5 is, but are less demanding than an FBI qual. Think if it as the qual you shoot before shooting the FBI qual.

The various military and police qualifiers come to mind. The Marine Corps test ain’t that hard, but it’s one of the very few that has something that even approaches testing the skills that armed citizens learn in their classes.

So what tests are out there that a guy on the street can immediately identify as being legit, but are able to be shot fairly well by a new shooter?

Off To Gun School.

Off To Gun School.

Kind of excited about this one. I’ve been wanting to get into the long-range game for years now, but I just couldn’t connect the dots. I have the gun for it (a Savage Storm in .308) and I just upgraded the optics on it to a Primary Arms ARC-2 4-14×44 First Focal Plane scope, and 300 rounds of Federal Gold Medal Match is waiting for me in an ammo can as I type this.

long range shooting

There are a bunch of reasons why I’m looking forward to this class. First off, it fills a big gap in my gun knowledge. Secondly, I’ve been wanting to shoot Precision Rifle for YEARS, and this class is a big step towards getting the confidence and skills to do so. Thirdly, it looks like a lot of fun, and fourthly, I’m gettin PAID to take the class, thanks to an article I’m doing for Shooting Sports USA.

Should be fun.

 

Flash Site Pictures

Flash Site Pictures

I did the writeup on the new Springfield Armory XD-S MOD2 for Shooting Illustrated. I honestly don’t get all the hate for the XD platform, but then again, I only shot 300 rounds through it. However, I think it’s great choice for people who will never go to Gunsite or Rogers.

I overheard someone talking about their experience at the same knife defense class I went to, and the response they got was “You carry a gun: Why do you need to learn how to use a knife?” Well, this is why you need to learn how to defend yourself from 1 inch on out to 100 yards and beyond.

Google bans firearms sales apps. Kinda surprised they allowed them in the first place.

Everyone who’s new to concealed carry thinks that everyone around them can see that they’re carrying a gun. And everyone is wrong about that.

This isn’t going to end well.

As I’m going to a class on long-range shooting next week, I’ve been reading a lot about ramping up your long-range game, including this article on how to determine wind direction and this one on at-home precision rifle drills.

 

Taking A Shot Vs. Making A Shot.

Taking A Shot Vs. Making A Shot.

John was nice enough to link to this post last week, and re-reading it got me thinking.

Anyone with a camera can do well if the shot pops up in front of him or her. Heck, even a baboon can do it.

Literally.

The trick is making a shot when the shot isn’t there. That’s what a photographer does. It’s unbelievably boring to shoot cans of creamed corn on a white background (ask me how I know this), but you have to work and work at it until you get the results you need.

Almost anyone can use a gun well in the scenarios you see in basic pistol classes, where a big bad guy in a balaclava jumps out from behind a car and yells “GIMME ALL YOUR MONEY!”

Where training and experience show up is when the attack comes from surprise or from some who doesn’t look like a threat.

Get trained. Improve your mindset. Shoot well. Save a life. Maybe your own.

 

* The featured image in this post is “The Critic” by WeeGee the Famous. If you’re a shooter (of photos) you really need to check out his stuff.

Remember, You Wanted This.

Remember, You Wanted This.

Allow me a brief moment of politics here.

Remember this scene in “Jack Reacher“?

Tom Cruise is beating up the bar thugs: He has one of them (literally) by the short and curlys, and he looks at the last two thugs who are considering joining the fight and says “Really?” Those goons saw what just happened, are seeing their friend writhe around in agony, and WERE EVEN TOLD BEFORE THE FIGHT HAPPENED that this was going to occur, yet they still want to press the attack.

Right now, Red State Americans and Blue State Americans both seem hell-bent on starting Civil War 2.0, and there’s no one on either side asking themselves “Do we really want to do such things?”

Which pretty much guarantees it’s going to happen.

God help us all.

Speed. Rocks.

Speed. Rocks.

The Sharp Dressed Shooter is a great resource for those of us who want to protect ourselves whilst wearing something other than jeans and a t-shirt. He’s got a great video on Instagram showing the right way to draw from a tuckable holster. and by my count, it takes him about 2.5 seconds from the decision to draw to when the gun is up on target. This is quite fast for such a holster, and it’s obviously a product of hard work, practice, and a dedication to his craft.

But.

The movement required to lift and clear your cover garment, get a good firing grip on the gun and then get it into play all scream out “HEY EVERYONE, I’M DRAWING MY GUN NOW!!!!!,” which is just fine for times when drawing a gun is really, really needed.

But.

We know from listening to John Corriea’s narrated videos that a smooth, stealthy draw is needed almost as often as smooth fast draw is needed. Hence the problem with relying solely on a tuckable holster for (really) discrete carry: They’re a very good way to carry more than a pocket gun, but they are not a good way to get your gun out discretely if you need to.

Which is why I pocket-carry a .380 if I need to be a little more subtle than normal. My pre-draw routine with a pocket rocket is me casually putting my hand into my pants pocket, which looks exactly like me… casually putting my hand into my pocket. This is different than a tuckable holster or an ankle holster or any of the other options for really discreet carry: The pre-draw routine for all of those looks like someone trying to get a gun out from hiding, which is exactly what they are.

If you carry something bigger in a tucked-in tuckable holster, that’s great, you’re ahead of almost everyone else out there. Just consider adding something to your mix that allows you to get your gear into play without looking like you’re getting your gear into play.

The Sword Of The Lord.

The Sword Of The Lord.

I found about about this organization a few years ago, and I’ve been remiss about talking about them and spreading the good word about what they do.

Tactica Ministries trains police officers in Costa Rica in the latest police strategies and techniques, and also strengthens them with spiritual, moral and ethical guidance.

If you’re a trainer or a law enforcement officer who’d like to put your training to some good use, drop them a line, they’d love to hear from you.