It’s Not The Choreography, It’s The Stumbles.

We learn situational awareness by establishing a baseline for the environment and noticing what’s out of place. A mini van or an SUV with handicap plates idling by the front of the pharmacy is not out of place. A beat-up pickup truck or a tricked-out street racing car idling by the entrance to the pharmacy would be out of place, however, and if that happened to be at a pharmacy I was about to walk into, you are DARN RIGHT I’m not going in.

In that same way, we shoot matches because we get used to dealing with what’s out of place and unusual when we are dealing with stressful situations with a gun in our hands.

The very best thing that can happen on the stage is we do everything exactly the way we planned. As Steve Anderson is fond of saying, practical pistol is speed biased and negatively charged. This means that unless we pay attention to things, we tend to go too fast on a stage and not get our hits, and we tend to notice our screwups more than we notice what we did right.

Emptying a gun in a few seconds is not hard. Emptying a gun in a few seconds and getting your rounds on target? That’s hard. Also, noticing the screwups that happen on a stage lets us become accustomed to correcting for them as they happen and come out on top of things.

Isn’t that also what training is about?

The value of competition is when things don’t go well on the stage and we are forced to make things up on the spot, and that carries over 100% into firearms training. For example, we were doing a drill in a Combat Focus Shooting class where the instructor would call out a number from one to six, and then we’d put rounds into the corresponding number on our targets.

Except the time the instructor called out “seven”, and then things changed. Almost all the class reacted to the vocal command, but they didn’t process the data in the command until their gun was pointed at the target. The other students did not shoot competitions so they were not used to the unexpected happening on the firing line and reacted on instinct.

Me? I heard “seven”, saw that there was a “one” and a “six” on my target, added the two together, pressed out my gun and put rounds into both of them while the rest of the class stood there dumbfounded with their dicks guns out. The unexpected did not faze me, as I’d had to deal with missteps and altered plans with pretty much every stage I had shot.

We have spent thousands of years developing sports like javelin, judo, jousting, and other sports that don’t begin with a “J” to prepare our bodies for combat. Using sport as a way to prepare for war has worked for centuries, so why do we think that pistol competition are no help when it comes to pistol combatives?

Taking Terrorism Seriously.

I’ve been looking forward to this for awhile, and I’m glad to see it making it to the air. This is a “Must Watch” for anyone who (legally) carries a gun and is worried about the very real increased threat of home-grown “lone wolf” terrorism.

Michael Bane has said that his experience on the “After Armageddon” show on BBC/History is what shaped the special, and if it’s anything like that (which was very well-made), this will be one for the ages.

The Mass Casualty event will show on Outdoor Channel on September 28th at 8:30, with an encore presentation on November 1st. Better still, the longer, more in-depth “Director’s Cut” will be up on My Outdoor TV in the next few weeks or so.

Pocket Protection.

There’s some really interesting ideas in this post from 2007 by noted terrorism expert John Robb.

“Cities have long maintained centralized police forces, but gangs can often overwhelm them. Many governments are responding with militarized police: China is building a million-man paramilitary force, for example; and even in the United States, the use of SWAT teams has increased from 3,000 deployments a year in the 1980s to 50,000 a year in 2006. But militarized police may too easily become an army of occupation, and, if corrupt, as they are in Brazil, they may become enemies of the state along with the gangs.

A better solution involves local security forces, either locally recruited or bought on the marketplace (such as Blackwater), which can be powerful bulwarks against small-group terrorism. Such forces may become a vital component in our defense against bioterrorism, too, since they can enforce local containment—and since large centralized services, like the ones we have today, might actually accelerate the propagation of bioweapons. Still, if improperly established, local forces can also become rogue criminal entities, like the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia and the militias in Rio de Janeiro. Governments need to regulate them carefully.”

I agree. A decentralized threat like terrorism or other non-government violent actor demands a decentralized response. Not only does it cost less and allows for more freedom, we know it actually works. The modern smartphone is nothing if not a decentralized and networked communication device, and we have other options for staying safe in an unsafe world that don’t require an often painfully slow response from state-approved “first” responders.

More thoughts on this over at

Just Another Good Guy With A Gun.

Eight people were injured last night in a stabbing attack at a mall in St. Cloud, Minnesota. The stabber was moved to a permanently horizontal resting position by a quick-thinking and appropriately-armed off-duty cop.

St. Cloud Police Chief William Blair Anderson said the suspect, whom he did not identify, was shot and killed by an off-duty police officer from another jurisdiction.

Oh, did I mention the stabber was asking his victims if they were Muslim or not before he attacked them?

Amish. I blame the Amish for this.

More importantly, this attack was stopped by someone at the right time and right place with the right skills and training to save lives. My more progressive friends will say “Ah ha, but’s he’s a cop!”, to which I say “So? I’m trained better than most cops. I spend weekends at matches that teach me how to make the shot in difficult situations. Cops should HOPE to be as well-trained as I am.”

The average beat cop never has to draw his weapon, which is a good thing indeed, but they also have to deal with dumb stuff like domestic violence calls and stupid people. I am more than willing to let them handle that stuff, as long as I can keep doing my job, which is keep my family and friends safe.


Analyzing Your Performance With Video

I had a chance to play around with the Max Michel Shot Coach app this weekend with Jeff Street of Step By Step Gun Training.

I likely. Here’s a demo video made by the Shot Coach app people to show you what it’s like.

For $5, it’s hard to go wrong, especially if you’re in the business of helping others shoot better. While it’s designed for competitive shooting, it works really well with just about any firearms-related activity. The more you know about how to get shots on-target quickly and accurately, the more this app will be of use to you. As for myself, thanks to this app, I found out that while I was lifting my support hand up nice and high when grabbing and clearing my cover garment, I was letting it drop down to waist-level before extending out my pistol, leading to slower first shots.


Check it out for yourself, you may be surprised with how it helps you.

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.

To The Gentleman In The White Pickup Truck Driving Eastbound On Immokalee Road Wednesday Night,

Dear Sir,

You’ve festooned the rear window of your truck with stickers that extol your favorite firearms and have augmented those with even more stickers advertising the NRA’s “Stand and Fight” campaign and all this is topped off with another sticker with an exhortation that reads “Don’t Tread On Me”.

I’m glad you enjoy guns and are willing to tell other people about your involvement with the Second Amendment.

However, you would be a better ambassador for firearms in general and the NRA in specific if you weren’t driving like an absolute maniac on a crowded rush-hour street. Dodging in and out of traffic and tailgating everyone who wasn’t going fast enough for your liking might be your way of letting the world know you’re “take charge” kinda guy and not a sheeple, but to me, it says you have no idea how to behave safely while in charge of a potentially dangerous instrument like a motor vehicle. Your reckless actions behind the wheel makes everyone around you (including me) very nervous, and in particular, it makes me wonder if you act as recklessly when you have one of your beloved firearms in your hands.

People read your stickers, and they watch what you do. One thing that was drilled into my head as I was preparing to be a missionary in Latin America is that I would be a missionary 24/7, not just when I was in missionary HQ.  People would look at my actions as a model of how Christians are to behave, and use how I behaved (or misbehaved) as a ruler for what being a Christian was all about. I learned the sometimes painful lesson that consistency and sincerity are better advocates for a cause than stickers and loud noises.

This is a lesson that you need to learn, Mr. Pickup Driver. Your stickers show your passions, but your behavior behind the wheel shows us your inability to control them.

Sincerely, and with great affection,


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.