And As It Turns Out, I Have Done Just That.

And As It Turns Out, I Have Done Just That.

Me, five years ago:

According to the commenters (some of which are combat medics), I needed to start with a pressure and a tourniquet rather than the QuikClot.

Which exposes a big gaping hole (no pun intended…) in my training: Aside from CPR and some basic first aid, I’ve had no training in dealing with the effects of a negligent discharge.

Today, I’ve had a day-long course in first-aid trauma med, and I carry either an improvised tourniquet or a full-on SOF-T everywhere I go.

Cool.

Which Is Better: An Indoor Gun Range Or An Outdoor Gun Range

Which Is Better: An Indoor Gun Range Or An Outdoor Gun Range

Owning a gun is great thing, but owning a gun and shooting it on a regular basis is even better. Having a gun in your house isn’t going to make you safe anyomre than having a car on your driveway is going to get you to the corner grocery store: You have to learn how to use it safely and efficiently so it to do the job it’s supposed to do.

So what does it actually cost a new gun owner to shoot on a regular (monthly) basis? In 2013, back when I lived in Phoenix, I visited some of the local indoor and outdoor ranges to find out what a monthly practice session might cost a new shooter. My assumption is that you’ll go to the range and spend an hour shooting 50 rounds of FMJ ammo from a 9mm pistol at three different man-sized targets, which based on my experience, is about what most casual shooters do on a typical day at the range.

Ranges: Rio Salado Sportsman’s Club (outdoors), Ted’s Shooting Range (indoors), Caswell’s Shooting Range (indoors), Phoenix Rod and Gun Club (outdoors), Scottsdale Gun Club (indoors) and Shooters World (indoors).
Lane Rental: One person for one hour
Ammo: 50 rounds of 9mm FMJ. For ranges without ammo sales (PRGC, Rio), I used the price of a box of 9mm at my local WalMart.
Gun Rental: A 9mm pistol for one hour. For ranges without gun rentals, I used the cost of a typical quality 9mm pistol ($540) spread out over 12 months.
Membership: One year’s individual membership. Range memberships at Ted’s is for 14 months, not a year, so I reduced that amount for comparison purposes.

Just VisitingLane RentalAmmoGun RentalMonthly CostYearly Cost 
Rio Salado$5.00$13.00$45.00*$18.00$756.00
Caswells$15.00$21.00$7.00$43.00$516.00
Ted's Shooting Range$14.00$18.00$9.00$41.00$492.00
Shooters World$15.00$15.00$10.00$40.00$480.00
Scottsdale Gun Club$15.00$14.00$14.00$43.00$516.00
Phoenix Rod and Gun Club$14.00$13.00$45.00*$27.00$864.00
With MembershipLane RentalAmmoGun RentalMonthly CostYearly CostMembership
Rio Salado$0.00$13.00$45.00*$65.92$791.00$95.00
Caswells$0.00$18.90$0.00$48.07$576.80$350.00
Ted's Shooting Range$0.00$18.00$4.50$44.17$530.00$260.00
Shooters World$0.00$14.25$5.00$40.08$481.00$250.00
Scottsdale Gun Club$0.00$13.00$0.00$44.67$536.00$380.00
Phoenix Rod and Gun Club$0.00$13.00$45.00*$71.75$861.00$165.00

* $45 / month reflects the cost of owning your own pistol, spread out over 12 months

So for just a couple hundred dollars more per year or so, memberships at Rio Salado or Phoenix Rod and Gun look like a real bargain, right? After all, that price includes a new gun, and they have long-distance rifle ranges as well.

Not so fast.

First off, they’re outdoor ranges. Not bad, now that temperatures in the Phoenix area are leveling off, but that sucks when it’s 115 degrees outside or, for colder climes, if it’s winter and the snow is waist-deep on the ground.

Secondly, the public ranges at both outdoor ranges have a minimum distance that you can set up targets, about 8 yards or so. Not a big issue for some, but if you’re trying to train a new shooter, it can get discouraging for them to shoot and shoot and shoot and not see decent groups on the target.

Thirdly, you can pull down at a set up targets at an outdoors public range only during cold range times, and those happen on a schedule, and not when you need them.

Finally, most outdoor ranges have pistol bays, where you’ll be the only one shooting and you can set up and take down targets however you like. These are where the real improvement happens, as shooters can set up advanced drills that involve drawing from a holster, moving with your gun in-hand and multiple targets at multiple distances.

So which should you chose?

That depends on your needs. I use both on a regular basis. I’ve been a member at Rio for over 5 years. I like their public range, and I like the people. But I’ve come to appreciate the comfort of indoor shooting and the convenience of reserving a lane in advance in an indoor range.

It comes down to what kind of a shooter you are. A public outdoor range membership is great for people who know what they want in a firearm and don’t need (or want) to try out new guns. However, indoor rental ranges are the perfect for  people getting into the shooting sports: For less than $50 a month, you can try out many different firearms and find the one(s) that suit you best and lets you grow into firearms ownership at your pace.

Either way, there are no bad choices: The worst day at the range is still better than the best day in the office.

Lighten Up, Francis.

Lighten Up, Francis.

I have a friend who’s AntiFa, and his response when I suggested that maybe violence wasn’t the answer for his group was “Well, when I’m being threatened with violence, what choice to I have?” *

In other words, he hit me, so I have no choice but to hit him back.

Bull crap. That is a child’s response to violence: “Of course I hit him, he hit me first! I HAD to hit him!” **

“No choice?” We are humans, not animals. We learned to override our baser instincts around the same time one of us figured out that a burning branch wasn’t something to be afraid of, but rather, it was good for warmth and illumination and starting barbecues.

No, we do not always have control over the actions of others, but we always, ALWAYS have control over our reactions. Any cop could probably tell you about the times they’ve had some poor fool sitting on a curb in cuffs, watching a friend bleed out in front of them say something like, “Man, I didn’t want to do it, but he just wouldn’t back down.” At that point, one life is over, and one life is ruined. Who hit whom first is a bit of a moot point. I’m not willing to let this beautiful country with its beautiful freedoms go away just because a bunch of children started arguing over who threw the first punch.

* I’m old enough to remember when Martin Luther King Jr. was reviled by the right and loved by the left. My, how things have changed.
** I haven’t heard that said in our house since my youngest son turned ten, which speaks volumes about the emotional age of Antifa and other groups.

The Rule To Every Exception.

The Rule to Every Exception.

Yes, in general, car guns are a bad idea.

But four days out of seven, I carry an LCP2 with no reload in my vicinity, so it’s nice knowing that there’s something nearby with a little more oomph to it. Is there a chance that my car could be broken into? Sure, I’ve had my car broken into, and I’ve learned from my mistakes. I had my truck broken into once because someone mistook my Bible in its leather cover for a purse, broke a window and ran off with that and a $40 leather jacket. I’ve lost camera gear due to truck break-ins, and every time it happened, I made the stupid mistake of leaving my gear out in plain view.

Unless it’s a riot situation where EVERYBODY’S car is getting trashed, crooks don’t break into random cars: They are looking for something, and when they see it, they balance the risk vs. reward and go for it.

No reward? Less risk. MUCH less risk.

Trust Icons.

Trust Icons.

You know those silly images on e-commerce sites which show who provided their SSL or say things like “Protected by McAfee”? To someone like me, who’s been on the web for over two decades, they’re at best a silly gesture and at worst totally useless.

But here’s the dirty little secret about them: They work. They bring in more business. Sites that have those images on their checkout pages have better conversion rates than sites that don’t have them. They’re called “trust icons”, and they work because people make buying decisions with their heart first, then with their head. They feel safe with a site that has them, and they want to do business with that site.

The same is true for firearms training, which is why trainers who talk about their military or law enforcement background can get away without little or no civilian training courses or instruction on how to teach anyone who isn’t being forced to sit in their classroom. They may not have be teaching stuff that’s particularly relevant to our lives as everyday people, but to many, many people out there, knowing that you’re getting your training from a cop or military veteran means you’re getting training from someone who has been there and done that, and you can trust what they say.

No matter if what they’re saying makes any sense or not.

New Year, New Goals

New Year, New Goals

My goals for last year was to be and not do, and boy howdy, did I do, err, be, that. I filled in some huge gaps in my training with a Law Of Self Defense Class, a MAG40, The Armed Parent/Guardian class and a class on how to dispense spicy treats onto the annoying people in your life.

This year, I’ve got SHOT, my first go-round through ECQC with Southnarc, TacCon and then probably a long-range rifle class as well. All of that will happen before May is over. Whew!

I still need to work at getting better at movement, and my overall conditioning in general. This means getting up a half hour earlier to work out. Ugh.

The good news is, I’ll be working out only ever other day. The days in-between, I’ll be working on dry-fire. I finally got serious and bought Ben’s book. Now to put that into practice.

I’m also working on a deal for a two-day hog hunt in central Florida, but more on that when and if it happens.

As for guns, I’m thinking about getting a Smith&Wesson J-Frame. I’ve been writing a lot about pocket guns as of late, and I figure it’s time I get one of the O.G. pocket pistols. I’m getting in a Colt Competition 1911 for an article I’m writing, and if I like it, it’ll go into my collection as well. Also, as a long-range class might be in my future, it’s time to change the bottom metal on my Savage so it can take detachable mags. Also, I’ve had it up to HERE with my little Lee reloading press, so a progressive press is definitely in my future.

So, those are my goals. What are yours?

The Personalized Defense Weapon.

The Personalized Defense Weapon.

John from No Lawyers, Only Guns And Money made a terrific point on social media recently about the new Ruger carbine: It’s an updated version of the M-1 Carbine.

He’s right on so many levels. Why was the M-1 invented? Because soldiers needed something longer-ranged and more accurate than a pistol but was easier to carry around than a rifle. Now granted, the new Ruger weighs seven pounds which is more than a lot of AR-15’s these days, but it breaks down into two easy-to-stow halves making it easier to stash away in a backpack and whatnot. Also, filled up with 124gr +P’s, it’ll dish out more hate than most (if not all) 9mm pistols, but be a lot easier to control and make a lot less noise than even the tamest of rifles.

There’s a lot of clued-in firearms trainers out there who recommend a 10/22 with a red dot and 30 round mag as a defensive firearm to people who, because of infirmities, can’t handle recoil or who have difficult time operating a handgun, and the 10/22 is a good option for them. It’s easy to use, it has a lot of firepower, and it’s easy to put the red dot on the target and pull the trigger until the target realizes the error of his/her ways or stops twitching.

Either one is an acceptable outcome.

With the new 9mm carbine, all of that is still true, except now, in exchange for a bit more noise and a bit more recoil, you’re sending 9mm rounds downrange instead of 40gr .22’s.

Win-win-win. Well, except for the bad guy. That’s a lose-lose situation for him.

The Problem Solver.

The Problem Solver.

My training priorities last year were two-fold: I wanted to take at least one course from an icon in the industry (which I did, with my MAG40 class at Safety Solutions Academy) and I wanted to fill in some of my gaps in knowledge. The Law Of Self-Defense class filled in my “here’s when you can bust a cap in someone and here’s when you can’t” knowledge, and the Friday before Christmas, I took a 3 hour class on pepper spray from Florida Firearms Training.

The class was quite good: It started off with the combat mindset and a decent primer on situational awareness, and then moved on to the legalities of pepper spray in the state of Florida. After more talk about use of force and when to unleash spicy treats on those around you, it was off to the range for some practice with inert cans on a charging attacker that’s 15 feet away. We all gleefully hosed down our attacker with our water guns, and that was that. Was it a tough class with many things to remember and a four-page exam afterwards? No. Was it meant to be that sort of class? Also no.

One of the things mentioned in the class is that it’s a good idea to replace your pepper spray cans every 2-3 years, and as the can I’ve been carrying around in my lower-profile setup is at least that old, (if not more) I enlisted some help and went off into the forest to spread some spicy cheer.

First off was discharging my small can before I disposed of it in the trash. I was only able to get a little over 2 seconds of spray on-target, but was able to dump a significant amount of spicy goodness onto a paper plate twelve feet away in that time.

Next up was the testing the inert version of the can I carry with more casual clothing. This time, I wanted to see how long it would take me to deploy the spray from concealment.

And the answer is: Just under three seconds. Almost twice as long as my handgun draw time. This tells me that if I see the potential need to use less-lethal, I’d be better off drawing and hiding in my hand way before the need to spice up someone’s life arises. The good news is, that larger can holds more propellant and spray, so I was able to coat the target with (inert) chemicals for four solid seconds before it gave out.

Lastly, I tried out a Smith&Wesson-branded spray can that was about the same size as the inert can of Sabre I used earlier. Kids, this is why cops and cognoscenti recommend Sabre and Fox sprays over other brands. The Smith&Wesson spray was wimpy and barely made it to the target 10 feet away. It had enough for just under four seconds of spray, but its effective distance was less that I can spit.

All in all, if you carry some spray, get training on it. You’ll learn a lot about what it can and can’t do, and you’ll be able to testify in court that yes, you knew what you were doing when you gave that mugger the full scotch bonnet treatment into his mucous membranes.

What Did I Changed My Mind About Last Year?

What Did I Changed My Mind About Last Year?

  1. The efficacy of pistol-mounted flashlights.
    They have a purpose, which is to identify that yes, that is the correct target you’re pointing your gun at. However, they are slow to activate, don’t have a brightness advantage over today’s flashlights and serve one purpose. Get a good handheld light instead, and learn how to use it.
  2. I don’t need all those spare mags.
    I carry one spare mag these days, and if I my carry gun held more than 8+1, I probably wouldn’t carry that either.
  3. Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes?
    I used to carry two rounds on 9mm shotshells in my second spare mag. Hey, I live literally right next to the Everglades, and carrying some snakeshot seemed like a good idea at the time. I was wrong.
  4. The utility of hybrid holsters.
    Here’s the thing… Any holster that uses the pressure of your body as a retention device is going to fail in situations where your body isn’t pressing up against the holster. Can that happen while you’re laying hands on someone out to do you harm? You betcha.
  5. The utility of tourniquets.
    Over the course of this year, I went from carrying nothing to carrying an improvised tourniquet to carrying a SOF-T in a flatpack (more on that later). I made carrying a tourniquet a priority for me, and I was able to find ways to make it work.