The Power Of Glock Compels You.

I pretty much agree with everything Rich Grassi is talking about here, with one notable exception.

The pocket gun becomes the cross to Dracula. When evil is near the owner imagines pulling it out and showing it to the ‘vampire’. Maybe the villain will flee and then again maybe they won’t.

It’s not just pocket-sized handguns, larger and more costly guns can become gris-gris. If you are carrying a gun that is half-loaded, is loaded with the cheapest ammo you could find and hasn’t been fired or cleaned in over six months that’s not a genuine defensive tool, it’s a good luck charm. If you drop a compact pistol naked into your pocket but have no plan for less-than-lethal force, don’t carry a flashlight or a pocket knife and have no spare ammunition for said gun, it’s a talisman not a fighting tool.

I carry a pocket gun not because I prefer it over something larger, I carry a pocket gun because for four days out of seven, it’s that, or nothing at all.

Something about a .22 on you right now versus a .45 in your truck, or something… Same idea.

Other than that, yeah, I agree with it all, because it’s stuff that I’ve been writing about for a long, long time. People want to FEEL safe, whether they’re actually safe or not, and having a gun around, even it’s not in handy reach, does give a feeling like you’ve done something about your safety, effective or not.

It’s the personal security equivalent of therapeutic moralistic deism that’s become our state religion these past few years. I want to feel good about my chances of getting into the afterlife, without all the baggage (and challenges) that comes with making a moral stand and having to confront our fallibilities, which might make us uncomfortable if we try such things.

Me? I’m more into Bonhoeffer than I am Joel Osteen, because a cause that requires no commitment to change on your part isn’t that much of a cause.

Darkness Falls.

Something I said in the comments of this post got me a-pondering: Why do firearms trainers who have a SpecOps background place such a high emphasis on night training, and is that sort of thing really valuable to those of us who don’t wear a uniform and a gun.

Let’s think about things for a second. If you have to kick in doors for a living, it makes sense to kick in doors at night, when the element of surprise and the grogginess of sleep are on your side. Night ops are a great time for offensive operations, especially if you have night vision gear and the bad guys don’t.

But let’s back up for a second… why would I, a middle-aged marketing guru, have to go onto the offense at night? Yes, there is the 3 am crackhead burglar scenario and the dark Wal-Mart parking lot attack, but if we look at the concealed carry engagement stats from students of Tom Givens, you’ll see that NONE of them used a flashlight in their encounters.

Why? Why are night operations such a priority for the military, yet next to useless for we civilians?

For the armed citizenry, unless you’re up at 3am patrolling the streets like the SHEEPDOG! you think you are, defending your life at night, in inky blackness, is probably not that urgent, for three reasons:

  1. If you have time to get a flashlight out, you have time to get your gun out. If you need your gun, don’t get out your flashlight, and vice versa.
  2. Crooks associate high-output flashlights with security guards and cops, and they tend to shy away from said people. Therefore, if you’re using a modern, tactical flashlight, you are SCREAMING to the bad guys that you are predator, not prey. As armed citizens, our job isn’t to hunt others, our job is not to be eaten by the predator.
  3. If you can’t see well enough to recognize your target, either add light to the target (which might make it run away, as per option 1 above), or don’t shoot at it. Fortunately for we civvies, most of the places we inhabit do have at least some modicum of illumination, and that’s usually enough to get a good idea of what’s in front of our muzzle.

So is learning how to use a flashlight and weapon-mounted light useful for those of us who don’t wear a uniform and a gun? Sure. However, in reality, it’s about as useful as a learning how to run an AR-15 as a defensive weapon.

Take that as you will.

Ruger LCPII 2000 Round Challenge: Rounds 585 – 735

I had another opportunity to put some of Lucky Gunner’s ammo (all PMC Bronze FMJ’s) through the LCP last week, and nothing much happened except I made a lot of noise and put a bunch of holes into a piece of paper, which is just what you want from a defensive handgun.

Testing the LCPII

Like the last time, these were shot as fast as I could get an reasonable sight picture and as fast as I could pull the trigger, and like the last time, they were all shot from contact distance on out to 10 yards. I got a little sloppy in some of the failure to stop drills, (and there’s one shot from 10 yards that I *might* be able to claim was an attempt at a pelvic shot, but I won’t, because I flat-out jerked the trigger on that one), but other than that, yeah, it’ll do what I want it to.

This is not gun for doing headshots on Leprechaun Liberation Army terrorists at 50 yards… this is meant for social encounters from handshake distance out to across-a-parking-lot space distances, and for those applications, it works really, really well.

Now, do I want to carry something bigger with me all the time, something that holds more ammo and has more a thump? Yes. Can I carry something like that with me all the time? No, I can’t. My life is set up so that four days out of the week, I have to carry in a pocket holster.

It’s nice to know, though, that what’s in the holster will be up to the task.

Rounds Fired : 100
100 Rounds PMC Bronze

2000 Round Challenge Results
Total Rounds Fired: 735.
One possible failure to eject on round 116, two failures to eject, rounds 400 and 489.

The Most People-Friendly Gun Store You’ll Ever See. 

I made a trip out to the other coast earlier this month (sorry, Miguel, my schedule was pretty tight, or else I would have dropped you a note), and one of the priorities for me was a visit to Nexus Shooting Center. Visiting them has been on my radar for a while now, and I finally made time to check them out.

Outside, it looks, like, well, a stand-alone gun store. Not a lot different from a lot of other gun ranges, maybe a little more dramatic than most. Inside, however… inside.

Let’s just be honest: It’s the best gun shop I’ve ever seen.

Every gun store seems to look like every other gun store, because they all take their cues from each other. Nexus doesn’t follow what’s good for a gun shop, the look outside the firearms retail industry to create experience that’s more like the Apple Store than any other gun shop I’ve seen.

Let’s just concentrate on one small area, the way merchandise is displayed in the store. Aside from the signage, is there REALLY a difference between the gun counter at a Bass Pro and the gun counter at your friendly local gun store? Both of them have glass display cases showing off the pistols, and behind them, slat wall displays showing off the long guns.

Why? Did Moses come down from Mt. Horeb with “Thou Shalt Erect Slat Walls In Thy Gun Store”? Is that in some weird translation of the Pentateuch that I’ve never heard of? Who said a gun store has to look that way, and why has no one ever questioned if there’s a better way?

Enter Nexus. Rather than hang guns on the wall and lock them away in cases, Nexus displays almost everything using backlit panels that are actually LED televisions, making paper signage a thing of the past. Also, if you’ve ever worked in a gun store, you know that tracking which gun is on display is a constant struggle and a potential mind field for ATF compliance. With the backlit TV’s, the serial number of each gun is display right along side the price, keeping things nice and neat inside your bound book.

The (female) head honcho at Caswell’s range in Arizona once told me that to a woman, the experience of walking into a gun store is like walking into a strip club: It’s an overwhelmingly masculine environment that’s unwelcoming and vaguely threatening.

And in response to this obvious fact, gun store owners PROUDLY display the mounted trophies of their last hunt and calendars of half-naked women holding guns.

And then they wonder why women (one of the fastest-growing segments of the market) don’t seem to frequent their stores.

While the environment inside of Nexus is definitely “no-nonsense tactical”, it’s not threatening, because they temper the tactical with a bright, open layout and with a concierge station that welcomes people as they walk into the door.

And then there’s the range. There are twenty 25 yard lanes for their pistol and rifle customers, but the heart of the range are the twenty Nexus Lanes, an electronic targeting system that takes going to a gun range to a whole new level. The lanes are wider than the typical gun range phone booth: Two people can stand side by side with ease, leading to a more comfortable and relaxed shooting experience and also making instruction easier.

Rather than list all the cool things you can do with an electronic target system (like shoot targets that are 25 yards away within the confines of a 7 yard bay), I’d like to highlight two little touches in that photo which show the planning and effort that the owners of Nexus put into the customer experience.

That’s an Uplula universal magazine loader, and there’s one permanently attached to every lane inside Nexus. Now, why would a gun range spend an extra $30 per lane on a speedloader?

Think about it. If you fill your magazines with ammo faster, you shoot ammo faster. You shoot ammo faster, you either a) turn over your lane quicker (more profit), or you buy more ammo from the range master (ditto). I’d be willing to bet those speedloaders paid for themselves the very first day they installed them, and every day since then brings better and better ROI for Nexus.

Smart.

Secondly, this is a photo of the floor under each shooting lane. Rather than have a solid concrete floor under your feet, at Nexus, there’s a slat floor that allows spent casings to fall into a pit under your feet, where there’s collected up at the end of each day. No more skating on a sea of spent brass, and much less worries about safety incidents from customers losing their footing on a shell casing.

I could gone on and on about the other little touches inside the Nexus range and store, like their plans to reduce analysis paralysis (the bane of gun store owners everywhere) and the layout of their classrooms (home theater, not middle school), but the fact is, Nexus is what a gun store should look if your market is today’s city-dwelling gun owner. If you’re in S. Florida, (or are planning to be soon), you need to put a trip to Nexus on your to-do list.

Carry Guard Surrenders.

In response to clear feedback surrounding the NRA Carry Guard Level I course announcement, we have modified the required firearm platforms as well as our site language to clearly articulate how firearms will be used in the class.

Bottom line: our decision to not include 1911s and revolvers as primary firearms in our initial Level I course was a mistake, and we appreciate the feedback we have received from the firearms community.

Not a good start, guys, not a good start. However, I think I found the reason why they initially banned 1911’s and revolvers: The suggested round count for their two three day class is… 1,500 rounds.

Yep.

Now if you’re shooting an 8 round 1911 or a 6 round wheelgun, that is gonna suck. You’ll be reloading 2-3 times more often than your friends who are shooting Glock 17’s, and you’ll probably be slowing down the class somewhat.

Reloads aside, shooting one thousand five hundred rounds, in a two three day class for beginners? I can *almost* see that for a pure shooting class like the Vogel class I did a couple of years ago, but 1500 rounds for a two three day beginner’s class that teaches, and I’m quoting here…

“Safety and Weapons Awareness; Pistol Ready Positions; Fundamentals (stance, grip, holster draw, sight alignment, trigger press, recoil management, follow through, economy of motion, self-critique); Treating a Malfunction; Live Fire Progression Drills; Combat and Tactical Reloads; Drawing from a Holster; Low Light/No Light Shooting; Combat Reload while holding a Light; Key Components to Carrying a Concealed Weapon; Carry Location Options (i.e. waist, ankle, purse, etc.); Real World Scenario Based Training (Airsoft scenarios)”

You’re teaching all that, and you also want your beginning students to shoot 1500 rounds in two three days?

Good luck with that.

UPDATE: I got the number of days wrong. It’s a three day class, not a two day class. However, 1500 rounds is still an awfully large amount of ammo to send down-range in that amount of time. The chances of you doing that and teaching your students anything beyond what gunfire sounds like is mighty slim. Heck, to teach the “Low Light/No Light Shooting; Combat Reload while holding a Light” and maintain even a basic level of safety is at least a couple of hours of non-shooting time.

The Well Armed Person.

Spend sometime inside a gun store, and you’ll see people walk in wanting to buy their very first gun. They’re scared because they can see that the world appears to be spinning out of control, and they know that in the end, they themselves will be in charge of keeping themselves and all they hold dear safe from the evil in the world.

But they have no idea where to start. Like so many others, they’re not familiar with the tools or the techniques needed to stay safe in an unsafe world, so they spend literally hours talking with gun store clerks about what’s the best gun for someone like them.

The problem with that is, gun store clerks don’t get paid on the knowledge they provide, they get paid to sell guns and stuff, and spending hours and hours of time educating customers on Glock vs. Ruger or 9mm vs. .40 pumps up the ego of the clerk, but it does little to pump up the sales volume of the store they’re working in.

Enter Carrie Lightfoot, and the enormous success of “The Well Armed Woman”.

The Well Armed Woman has been very, very successful in introducing women to the concepts of defensive shooting in a relaxed, informative environment that tackles gun choice, concealed carry options, and all the other questions that can bamboozle someone who wants to buy their first gun.

But who says that type of firearms education has to be limited to just women? Why not open it up to everyone? A two-hour “Intro to Defensive Firearms” class once a week, starting with a short dog and pony then followed by questions from the audience and maybe a hands-on with a bunch of (unloaded and empty) guns would go a long way to answering all the questions people have about what gun is “best for them”, and get them closer to the point where they’d buy a gun. Toss in a carrot on top, like, oh, a free box of ammo when they buy a gun, and rather than having to do the same spiel over and over and over and over again, you can do it once, for a bunch of people, saving you time AND money.

Role Player.

Thinking more about this post, a big part of the problem, I believe, is that we see ourselves as “firearms instructors”. We teach guns. We teach guns because we like guns. We are hobbyists, and we preach the hobby.

The problem is that’s not what our audience needs in order to be confident with their gun. They don’t need to be confident with a gun inside the gun range, they need to be able to integrate the gun and that confidence into their lifestyle. Knowing that you can drop all your shots into the upper thoracic cavity at ten yards means little if you don’t have your sidearm with you when you need it.

Who teaches you not only a skill, but how to integrate that skill into your life?

A coach does. A coach doesn’t just teach performance, they teach mindset and ethics and confidence.

Everything we want to see in an armed citizenry.

Maybe we need to stop thinking in terms of Albert Einstein, and start thinking in terms of Vince Lombardi.

It’s Supposed To Carry Guard, Not “Carry On”.*

Claude Werner (and others… many, many others) have talked about this little nugget inside the course description for the NRA’s new training regimen.

Wow. Okay. While we’ve not seen what training will emerge from the instructors behind the “Gold Standard” in firearms training, that is not the sort of thing you want to see in a firearms class. A good class is pretty much equipment neutral: Instructors are not there to teach you the most efficient way to use their handgun of choice, they’re there to teach you how to use YOUR handgun and help inform you with the tradeoffs that come from what you’ve decided to carry around with you. By limiting this class to Glocks and Sigs and similar, they are SCREAMING to the world that “No, we don’t know anything beyond what we learned in the military, and that’s all we’re going to teach you.”

Reports that they are mandating Oakleys and shemaghs for all students and are limiting reloads to whatever you wear on a plate carrier rather than on your belt remain unconfirmed at this time.

Good teachers adapt their material to the classroom environment. This is true of my math-teacher wife, and it’s true of firearms instructors as well.


* Explainer for those of you who aren’t into sophisticated, highbrow British humor.

I’m Done With Florida Open Carry.

I am now completely and utterly convinced that if and when Florida does allow for the open carry of firearms, it will be despite the efforts of Florida Open Carry, not because of it. I joined the group thinking they’d be as effective in changing Florida’s  gun laws as Arizona Citizens Defense League has been changing the laws of Arizona.

Boy, was I wrong.

Look, if you think that gay pride parades open carry fishing events and stuff like the photo below will get people to change their minds about the public display of guns, you’re fooling yourself.

Open carry won’t happen until guns are seen as boring, not frightening, and frightening the locals with such things as that  is not the way to change minds.

Work on removing the need for a background check if you have a CCW license. Lower the CCW fees. Get more scholastic shooting teams in the schools. Change the culture, then change the law.

Concealed Carry As A Martial Art.

concealed carry martial arts

Let’s take it from the top.

  1. Civilian firearms training for concealed carry is a martial art*. Probably the first martial art to originate from America.
  2. There are dojos and gyms that teach quick, cheap and easy “Sexual Assault Avoidance” classes that leave their students feeling empowered and slightly better off than when they walked into the gym, but those classes don’t take the time to teach students more than a few ritualized responses to a violent attack.
  3. There are gun schools that do the same thing as Point #2, leaving their students with a feeling of empowerment but with a limited skill set that does not encourage further training.
  4. Lessons are lessons. Dry fire is kata. Drills are sparring. Matches are, well, matches. None of that is an actual fight.
  5. No serious dojo or boxing gym would ever consider tossing someone who just bought their gi and white belt into a sparring match without training them to some extent beforehand, yet we tell new gun owners, over and over and over again, to go to a match to learn how to shoot under stress.

And then we wonder why they’re afraid to go shoot and embarrass themselves in front of others.

Why are they embarrassed to shoot in front of others?

They have a lack of confidence in their own skill with a firearm.

What do we do to increase that confidence?

Keep thinking. I’ll wait.

In order to succeed in a sparring match, the student needs to be trained to the point where they can throw a bunch of punches or block a bunch of strikes without conscious thought.

There are also certain skills in the martial art of the defensive pistol that need to be performed without conscious thought during a match.

They are:

  • A smooth trigger press (still working on that one…)
  • An appropriate sight picture
  • Something resembling a good stance**
  • Drawing the gun from a holster without shooting something
  • Recognizing and engaging multiple targets
  • Reloading without fumbling
  • Safely moving from point to point with a gun in your hand
  • Shooting with the strong hand only and weak hand only
  • Reholstering the gun without shooting anyone

The good news is, that’s actually quite a small list of techniques to master, compared to a lot of martial arts, and you really don’t need to do them all without conscious thought in order to shoot a match***.

The bad news is, how much of that do you learn in a CCW class (Answer: None.) and who is teaching that stuff with the goal of getting people out to a shooting match (Answer: Pretty much no one).

We have not built a dojo around concealed carry (yet), and then we wonder why so few people make the transition from getting their CCW to carrying a defensive firearm.


* Why did karate become popular in Okinawa? Because the local constabulary was doing a sucky job of protecting the citizenry. Same with the monks who dreamed up gungfu. And this differs from you and me wanting to arm ourselves with our defensive sidearms… how?

** Ever notice how all the arguments about what is and is not a good stance go FLYING out the window the minute you run up to a barrier, or have to shoot through a low port? To quote Mike Tyson, everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.

*** Oh, and “tactical carbine” = All those esoteric weapons-based martial arts like Iaido and Kendo. Are they fun? Sure. Are they useful? Well, unless you carry around a boken in your day-to-day life, no, not really.