Training Desert.

Kathy Jackson uses a swimming lesson metaphor for firearms training, and it’s a good one because both firearms training and swimming lessons help you stay safer when you’re out at the range or in the water, and let’s face it, they’re both really good ideas as well.

But what if we told our new swimmers that the only places they could practice their freshly-taught skills wasn’t in the community swimming pool or school pool, but only in the bathtub in their own home or in large open bodies of water?

Sounds silly, right? There is no way that swimming would be popular if the only place to do it would be in lakes or oceans, and somehow paddling in a tub just isn’t the same as doing laps in a pool.

But that’s what happens in 99% of  firearms training classes. The students go the range, get their training on a pistol bay or outdoor range, and then are maybe given some brief instructions about dry fire and that’s it. No advice on how to hone your skills in an indoor, “bowling alley” range, which are far more common and accessible than pistol bays. Most indoor ranges don’t allow movement and drawing from a holster so it’s hard to make a direct correlation between defensive pistol skills and what you can practice on a range, but some practice is better that nothing. Claude Werner, the Tactical Professor, has an e-book of drills that will increase defensive pistol skills but yet can still can be practiced on the indoor range, and to the best of my knowledge, he’s the first one to realize that not everyone hangs out on a pistol bay every weekend.

And that’s a shame.

Getting people to practice, and practice in the context of a fun day at the range (whether that range is indoor or outdoor) should be goal of every trainer, because happy and engaged customers are repeat customers.


The Gun Rights Policy Conference Is Over For This Year

What would a Gun Responsibility Conference look like?

All rights come with responsibilities. All of them. Abuse a right, use it irresponsibly, and society will diminish that role of that right in society. Libel and slander laws exist because people abuse the right of free speech. Trespassing laws exist because people abuse the right of free assembly, and felony assault is just one way that people abuse the right to keep and bear arms.

But it goes beyond that. People have the right of free assembly and free speech, so they stand on street corners and yell at crowds that they’re going to hell.

Legal? Yes. Effective? Probably not, and people that do so tend to be left out the conversation when the rest of society is talking about matters of faith.

It’s important that we understand that rights which happen in a vacuum aren’t really rights that affect society. You want to change the world? Good. Start with your small corner and take a friend who’s never shot a gun before out to the gun range for a day of shooting. That will probably do more to change people’s minds than a thousand open carry events.

To be clear, there were plenty of people at the Gun Rights Policy Conference who made the case for responsible actions promoting gun rights. A speaker from Kansas, the Hon. Phillip B. Journey in particular made it a point that the fight for the right of self-defense is a long game, not a short one, and that we win when we take people shooting.

Shooting is fun. Sanctimonious self-righteousness is not, and the arc of history tends towards fun.

A Glittering Cavalcade Of Gun Rights Celebrities.

And me.

I’ll be getting up at Zero-Dark-Thirty tomorrow in order to drive up to Tampa for the Second Amendment Foundation’s Gun Rights Policy Conference. Scheduled to appear are people like Florida Governor Rick Scott, gun lawyer extraordinaire Alan Gura, Linda Walker from the NRAand John Lott, who literally wrote the book on this sort of thing.

The conference will be live-streamed on Saturday and Sunday, look for a post with the stream up on tomorrow.

I’ll be the one not wearing pants.

Product Review: Sunjack 14w Charger +1400maH battery

Sunjack 8w + 1400mah battery charger

I was recent sent a Sunjack 14w solar charger with an 8000maH battery for review*. I was looking forward to getting this kit and doing this review because I believe that the modern smartphone is an essential part of starting safe, and a smartphone (and some way to charge it) is an essential part of your “bug out” gear, and I’m pleased to report the charger and battery did not disappoint.

The Sunjack 14w Charger +1400maH battery is a great option for creating power to keep your smartphone up and running without connecting it to the power grid. About the same size as an iPad and weighing about as much as a large paperback book, it differs from cheaper solar chargers in that it charges a battery which then charges your phone.

Charger and battery outdoors

When the SunJack charger first arrived, the battery was half-charged, so I drained completely by recharging my iPhone with it and then plugged it into the charger and left it outdoors for 8 hours. I should note that I live in Florida and it’s the middle of hurricane season, but despite the partly cloudy skies, eight hours was enough to fully charge the battery. The fully-charged battery took two hours to recharge my iPhone 6+ from 10% charge to fully charged. The battery can also be charged up via a wall socket and a (not included) wall charger, and I found it that to be a faster way of recharging it than sticking it out in the sun (albeit one that only works if you have a working wall socket nearby).

chargingIf you’re like me (and I know I am), you rely on a smartphone for so much more than making phone calls. I’ve loaded up mine with useful things like an emergency radio scanner, a ballistics app and an e-book reader, so my phone is pretty much always by my side. I found the SunJack 8w+1400maH battery/charger to work just as expected, and it’s now a “must have” accessory for me if I leave the urban wilderness for something even more untamed. If there’s one thing I’d change about it, I’d ask them to toss in an iPhone Lightning-compatible cable with it along with the micro-USB cable it comes with, because, well, because iPhone, that’s why.

You can pick up the SunJack battery and charger at Amazon or on their website:

* Dear FTC, NSA, FDA and TVA: I’m putting in this sentence here because you want me to, but seriously, I say that this was sent to me “for review” right in the first paragraph. Do I have to rub your nose in it, like a puppy that needs to be potty-trained?

Practice Makes Prefect.

Thinking a bit more about last week’s post, I’ve had a fair amount of firearms training so far (250 or so hours at the moment, with more to come), but I haven’t had homework after a class. I’ve never been handed a structured practice regimen after a class was finished and been told “Ok, here’s some things you can do you improve your skills after I leave town.”

Homework works for college students, so why won’t it work for gun students?

We go to gun school to learn good habits / get rid of bad ones, and yet when gun school is done, there is nothing handed out that would make practice a habit for us.

“Ah-ha!,” you say, “That’s because if you go to gun school, practice should be a habit for you!”

“Should” is not “is”. I don’t practice as much as I should, and I hardly think I’m alone in this. Anything to help get my lazy butt up off the couch and dry-firing or going to the range (especially things that work on an indoor range) will increase the value of returning to gun school after the class is over.

And yes, I get that homework is not fun (as someone who has a thirteen year old who has to be browbeaten to do homework every night, believe me, I understand this,), but achieving and excelling at set goals?

That’s fun, and also rewarding.

Thanks For Playing, We Have Some Lovely Parting Gifts For You.

I’ve taken a few classes from a few firearms instructors who flew in, taught a two-day class, then flew out of town. This is pretty much the standard for the itenerant teacher these days, and it’s a good way to get a good grounding in the instructor’s style and make it your own.

Or is it?

There is a LOT of information stuffed into a two-day class, and I’ve found, at least for myself, that if I take away two or three items that I can apply to my shooting style, the class, for me, was a success. This implies, however, that I can apply those items to how I shoot, because let’s face it, there is not many opportunities for people go out and practice tactical shooting. Access to outdoor pistol bays and backyard ranges is limited for most people, and so learning how to draw, move and shoot from a tactical firearms instructor means little if the students in the class have limited opportunities to practice what they’ve been taught?

So what’s the solution? Well the obvious one is to build more outdoor ranges, but that’s getting harder and harder to do. Another solution might be for the instructor to come prepared with lessons and practice drills that can maintain the student’s skills, but ones that can be shot in an indoor range that doesn’t allow for movement or drawing from a holster. Claude Werner’s got a bunch of them in his book, maybe you can steal a few and turn them over to your students.

Getting the students to practice lessons that can augment what they’ve learned in class has two advantages for the instructor: It improves the quality of the students that they’re teaching, and it builds brand loyalty: Customers who practice a teacher’s methods tend to want to take more classes from that instructor.

Do you want to teach a class one time, or create students for life?

The choice is yours.

The Beatlemania of Guns.

TriStar p120 accuracy

Not bad for 25 yards.

I gotta be honest: When I was asked to review  the TriStar P120, I did so with all the enthusiasm of a Porsche fan who’s been asked to drive around a kit car for a few days.

“C’mon,” I said, “I’m a CZ fan, not a CZ knockoff fan. You’re asking a gourmet chef to review Burger King.”

And then the pistol was shipped out to me, and I shot it, and you know what?

It’s not bad. Pretty darn good, actually.

For a $500 MSRP, you get an accurate (I managed 1.2″ groups at 25 yards with the thing), reliable (it ate 250 rounds of mixed 9mm ammo from Lucky Gunner with no issues at all) pistol that takes CZ magazines, sights and holsters made for the SP-01.

It ain’t pâté de foie gras, but ain’t chopped liver, either, and the 17+1 rounds in P120, with a rail-mounted light or laser in a small, quick-access gun safe would make a HECK of a home defense

Go check out my full review at Shooting Illustrated.

A Quick Follow Up On Self Defense Insurance

I wanted this post to be as neutral as I could, and while I mentioned I was/am a member of the Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network, I didn’t say why I joined up.

The ACLDN was recommended to me by one of the best self-defense lawyers in Arizona, a guy who teaches concealed carry, shoots USPSA and is a crackerjack lawyer as well. I figure he outta know what’s best.

And then there’s the people who are involved in the ACLDN. Other plans talk about their experts, but did you notice that the ACLDN is the only one who names names? Mossad Ayoob. John Farnam. Marty Hayes. Tom Givens. Dennis Tueller.

If the courtroom is a battleground, that there is the legal equivalent of SEAL Team Six.

And yes, while’s it’s true that the money the ACLDN pays out isn’t as much as other plans, if they back you, they back you all the way. They don’t assume you’re in the right because you have a concealed carry permit, they back when they know they have a good chance of winning, which means they’re not wasting money on defending morons.

And finally, they’re the training videos. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again that the training videos alone are worth the price of admission, with Marc Macyoung’s DVD on pre-attack indicators being particularly good. You’d pay gazillions of dollars to train with him or Massad Ayoob or the other instructors on the DVD’s, so popping $135 for that instruction along with self-defense legal coverage seemed to be a pretty good deal to me.

I carry a gun to win the gun fight.
I carry a tourniquet because I want to win a battle against blood loss in myself or a loved one if I win the gun fight.
I pay for a self defense emergency legal assistance plan because I want to win the court fight after both of those are over.

Self Defense Insurance Comparison

With an increasing amount of people legally choosing to carry a self-defense firearm, there has been a number of high-profile court cases recently that have shown us what might happen if a person needs to defend their life with a legally carried gun.

By some accounts, George Zimmerman’s legal bills have totaled more than $2 million for his high-profile defensive shooting court case. While that is an extreme example of the possible financial burden, there is always the risk of arrest, trial and conviction after any defensive gun use.

Self defense insurance (or a similar policy) is one way to avoid financial ruin after you need to use lethal force to save your life or the lives of others. Here are a number of similar-priced insurance and member-based self-defense policies for you to review, make a comparison and chose the plan for your needs and budget. The descriptions for each of these companies were taken pretty much intact from each company’s website so as to give as neutral a view as possible as to what each of them provide for legally armed citizens.

Second Call DefenseSecond Call Defense

Second Call Defense provides training and education plus comprehensive legal and financial resources to help our members deal with the consequences after they have used a gun in self defense. Depending on the membership level, members have access to as much as $250,000 for damages for Civil Suit damage protection, $250,000 for accidental shooting liability, $50,000 Criminal Defense reimbursement and up to $1 million in Civil Suit defense protection.

law_shieldTexas Law Shield

If a member uses a firearm or any legal weapon in Texas under the Texas Law Shield Firearms Legal Defense Program, program attorneys will represent the member in any legal proceeding (criminal or civil), for zero additional attorneys’ fees. This includes all criminal charges arising from a use of a gun or any legal weapon. While our services are quite comprehensive, the following are not covered: expert witness fees, governmental fees of any type, investigator fees, or bail bonds.

usccaUnited States Concealed Carry Association

The USSCA Self-Defense Shield is a members-only, firearms liability insurance benefit that reduces the legal and financial burden of owning a gun for self-defense. The insurance-backed benefits include Civil Suit Defense & Damages Protection, which provides up to $1 Million if charges are ever brought against a member in civil court. Members are also eligible for a Criminal Defense Reimbursement, which offers members up to $100,000 to help cover the costs of criminal charges or proceedings which result from the use of a weapon in self-defense.

CCW SafeCCW Safe

CCW Safe defends its members against criminal prosecution stemming from a self defense incident and also defends members against civil litigation or administrative actions stemming from a use of force incident. If a member is involved in a use of deadly force self defense incident we provide the best defense attorneys in the U.S., expert witnesses, and investigators specially trained in use of force lawsuits and investigations. No limits or caps and no optional memberships or additional fees.

alcdnArmed Citizens’ Legal Defense Fund

The Armed Citizens’ Network Legal Defense Fund provides legal defense support to Network members after a self-defense incident. This support is supplied in two different ways.
First, the Network will forward up to $10,000 to the member’s attorney at the request of the member after a self-defense incident.
Secondly, if the member is charged with a crime or sued civilly and needs additional money for his or her legal defense, then the member can ask for additional funding.

sdaSelf Defense Alliance

The SDA exists because your homeowner’s coverage does not afford you the protection you need in a self-defense situation.
If a civil suit is brought against a member due to the use of a legally possessed firearm in conjunction with the act of self-defense, then Self Defense Coverage will indemnify the member, for the reasonable costs and expenses incurred, in the defense and settlement of the suit.

I’ve created a handy infographic that lists out what each plan costs, what’s covered, and what is not covered. Where no item is listed on a plan, that item is either not covered or is not clearly defined as being covered. I am indebted to Sabrina Karels of the Highmark blog for her initial work on this comparison, and in addition to her research on CCW Safe, Second Call Defense, Texas Law Shield and the U.S. Concealed Carry Association, I’ve  included similar offerings from the Self Defense Association and the Armed Citizen’s Legal Defense Network. I am not a lawyer, nor did I sleep in a Holiday Inn Express last night. This is not legal advice, do not take it as such or you’re probably screwed. (Click to make bigger).

self defense insurance comparison

This self defense insurance comparison should give you a better idea of what’s out there for the person who’s as concerned at winning the legal battle as they are the court battle. This is an update to a previous post I did on this subject and should not be considered as a definitive list of all your options: Several of the organizations have plans that cost more or less than what’s listed on the infographic, and I urge everyone to do their research and make their own decisions. As for myself,  I am a member of the Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network and an affiliate of the USCCA.

The Default Setting Is Fun.


Thinking a little more about yesterday’s post, one of the biggest issues that Gun Culture 2.0 has is helping people get serious about shooting. Gun Culture 1.0 didn’t have that problem because the shooting is the culmination, not the beginning of a hunt and a poor shot could be overcome with a closer stalk. Getting people to do more with their gun than just go to a range and make noise is a challenge, because blasting away and making noise IS A WHOLE LOT OF FUN. Taking a class and finding out how much you suck?

Not fun.

I’m still not certain how we can bridge that gap between the joy of shooting loudly and the confidence of shooting well. Kathy Jackson uses a swimming lesson metaphor and it’s a good one, the closest one I’ve yet found to helping people understand how training can make a day on the range more fun than an untrained day on the range.

Taking a walk in the woods is fun, so therefore, people go out into the woods and hunt. Riding in a boat across the lake and chatting with your friends is fun, so people go fish. Going to the range and shooting is fun, so people do that as well. Shooting a competition with your friends is fun, and that needs to talked about more often if we want Gun Culture 2.0 to thrive.