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.

Domke Kong.

One more thing about the Tactical Man Purse… ten+ years of carrying around a camera bag on my shoulder enlightened me to just how handy a purse / messenger bag / gadget bag really is. I spent years bouncing around between brands of camera bags*, and finally settled on the classic Domke F-2, because I could cram in two bodies with motors (an FM-2 and, shockingly, an FG (smaller and lighter than an FE-2 or F3, perfect as a backup)), a strobe (Vivitar 285, of course), five lenses (20 f2.8, 35 f2, 85 f2, 105 f2.5 and a 180 f2.8**), accessories and a brick of film into something I could (and did) carry around all day long.

And no, I never wore a shooter’s vest. The only guys I knew who wore one were poseurs and wannabes who would argue, at length, the best color negative film for their new Canon AE-1, while me, with my beat-up 20 year old Nikons, was shooting my weight in Fujichrome each month.

If you want to worry about how your gear looks, fine. We’re in a phase now when the driving forces of the gun industry are moving beyond the “hobbyist” market (aka gun nut) and into the larger American consumer market, so OF COURSE how guns look (and how you look with your gun) are going to become more and more important.

But for the working pro, how something looks will always take second place to how it works.


* The first time we went shopping together, my wife was amazed at my patience as she went from purse to purse, trying to find the right one for her, but once I told her that I had owned a dozen different camera bags, she got it.

** In the days when ISO100 was about as fast as you can go with color, having that extra one or two stops in a prime focus lens was EVERYTHING. You kids and your chimping these days. And there’s also something about the restrictions that a prime focus lens places on you that makes you think more about composition and framing than just twisting a zoom dial does. You have to work to get the shot, rather than just stand there and zoom.

One Shield, Two Shield.

I ordered a new Shield for me a couple of weeks before I got that bad news about my job, and it showed up the same day I got laid off.

Timing is everything.

I bought the new gun for two reasons: I’m pretty much all-in on using the Shield as my primary carry gun now, and the model I own has the manual safety on it. I’ve not flicked that sucker on (intentionally) the entire time I’ve owned it, but that doesn’t mean it can’t turn itself on, which might seriously affect my first-shot speed.

The plan is to (eventually) outfit the new gun with Trijcon HD XR Sights and either move my Streamlight TLR-6 over to the new gun, or buy a new holster for it (I’m leaning heavily towards a Comp-Tac CTAC right now) and keep the other one as backup / dry fire.

 

It’s Happened Again In London.

Don't hide. Fight.

In “1984”, Orwell talks about how the ultimate goal of Newspeak is to change the language and the culture so that the very idea of rebelling against the state is removed from people’s minds altogether. Britain (and indeed, all of Europe) has spent the last 50 years removing the idea that the people themselves can and should be in charge of their own security: The state is there to take care of you. Soldiers and police stand ready to do violence for you, you don’t need to worry about defending your life, that’s what government is for.

But what if that doesn’t work? What happens when we face a threat like this, which is designed to inflict as much violence on an unaware, unarmed and cowering populace so quickly and so brutally, the horror is accomplished before the call does out to central dispatch? It took eight minutes for UNARMED policemen to show up at the vehicle ramming / stabbing death of Fusilier Lee Rigby, and the armed cops who took out the attackers showed up fifteen minutes after the attack.

Fun fact: The human body usually bleeds out from a cut to a major artery in around 3 minutes, and it’s a matter of policy for paramedics not to treat the victims at the scene until it’s first been secured by the cops (Medics don’t like to get shot at. Go figure.).

My friend Erin Palette of Operation Blazing Sword said it better than just about anyone I know: Concealed carry is a herd immunity against crime. Want fewer victims of horrific terror attacks? Stop encouraging a culture of victimhood.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: There are two possible responses to the distributed threat of Islamic-backed terrorism: Clamping down hard on civil rights so you might catch the bad guys in the same net you throw over the general public, or a distributed, empowered response that can react faster than any agent of the state can.

London chose the first option, and it has not worked well. Whether or not they have the courage and trust in their citizenry to try the second option remains to be seen.  Chris Hernandez talks about the history and effectiveness of such attacks, Greg Ellifritz has some great info on what you and I can do right now to lessen our chances of being a victim in these situations, and my meager contributions are over at Ricochet.com.

Learn from this, and stay safe out there.

Alter Call.

Most evangelists suck at evangelizing. If you go to a “revival”, you’ll see that if anyone is walking forward for redemption, it’s probably who has already been in the church for years and years.

That’s great (and needed) but it’s not really increasing the numbers of people inside the church, it’s just lowering the amount of people who leave.

Now let’s apply that to gun culture. Who are the evangelists? Who are the ones bringing new people into the fold, and who are the ones who are preaching revival? Many people preach “revival” but in reality, they’re just delivering the same message to the same people in the same pews, and then when one or two of them walk down the aisle to be saved, they call it a new movement in gun ownership.

The best analogy I can come up with is the “Jesus People” movement of the early 70’s, when the hippies realized that hey, there might be something to that preacher-man stuff they heard as kids, and they tried to go back to church, but the church, seeing the long hair and… questionable grooming habits of the hippies (not to mention that heathen rock n roll they listened to) rejected them.

Now, four decades later, the church is on the outside of American culture, looking in.

Now let’s look at gun culture.

Today, we have millions and millions of people who want to “feel safe” and bought a gun, but they’ve not integrated that gun into their everyday life. That’s something that needs to change, or else gun rights will go away if those people don’t understand that it’s THEIR right to protect themselves that’s under attack, not someone else’s right to go into the woods and blast Bambi, or something (and the reverse is true as well).

Tens of millions of casual gun owners is nice. A million people who are dedicated to proficiency with their weapon of choice and are passionate about keep the right to keep and bear arms alive is even better.

Building The Perfect Murse.

I realized that I promised you all an update on how my tactical hipster bag is working out for me.

It’s working out quite well. I carry it pretty much everywhere because it’s small, light weight and it’s either on my shoulder or in the front seat of my car. It doesn’t look threatening, sorta it looks like the messenger bag it actually is.

I’ve stuffed it quite full: There’s a few little odds and ends that I need to add in, but I’ve pretty much locked in what I need in a bag that carries that stuff that I can’t carry on my person.

Tactical man purse

The bag looks great, but I do have two issues with it. I wish it had a pocket in the back to stuff the things like papers, etc. that I accumulate from time to time, and the front pocket was just not capable of holding onto any pen that I clipped onto it (more on that later).

Here’s what I carry in the front pocket:

Front pocket stuff

The holster is there because the fabric of the front pocket of this bag is just a little too skinny for pens to clip onto. In addition to all the pens and earphones and whatnot inside the front pocket, I have a Thrunite 2xAAA flashlight and a Kershaw Shuffle clipped in that pouch, right where I need them. If anything, I’d like to swap out the folding Kershaw knife with a fixed-blade knife, because a fixed blade knife gives me options that a folder just can’t offer.

Here’s the stuff that’s inside the bag.

Stuff inside the bag

Starting at upper left, that’s my iPad Air with a ZaggKeys keyboard cover, (which I’m using right now to compose this post), a mesh bag that I bought at my friendly Big Blue Discount Store which contains my phone and computer stuff, another mesh bag that contains my “prepping” gear, or the stuff that would make life easier if I have to go without the comforts of civilization for more than a few hours, a zip-closure bag full of medical gear, and my Altoids survival tin.

Phone Gear

I’m a big believer in the utility of the modern smartphone as a “survival” tool. Yes, they are not that useful if a cell network is unavailable, but if you can’t dial out, you can still use a smartphone to read books, take pictures or play Solitaire while you wait for help to arrive. As such, I have a micro-USB cord, an Apple Lightning cord, a cell phone battery that I got for free from my bank, a USB flash drive, a wall socket for a USB cable, a spare set of glasses and an empty grocery bag for trash or whatever. Yes, the spare set of glasses and trash bag have little to do with my phone, but this was as good a place as any to stash them.

Prepping Gear

This is the stuff that would make it easier for me to live my life if I were caught away from my home or car for more than a few hours. Call it a bug in bag, if you will. Starting from the upper left again, I have a disposable rain poncho (because Florida), a triangular bandage, a spare one gallon zip closure bag, a bandanna, a Gerber Dime multitool (It’s… ok. Good for it’s size, but I think I want something bigger and more useful.), a Gerber Shard that I had lying around, a one-shot pouch of sun screen (thank YOU, Blue Force Gear), a lighter and 6 feet of duct tape. I just ordered a bunch of disposable bug repellent wipes (because Florida) and some larger-sized Wet Ones to add to this pouch, and that should round things out quite well.

First Aid Bag

This is essentially a Patrol Officer’s Rescue Kit that’s been opened and stuffed into a zip-closure bag. I’ve added a vaseline gauze pad to use as a chest seal if needed, a couple of bandaids (because ouchies happen) and a face shield for CPR if needed. I’m missing some hemostatic gauze in this kit, so that’s on it’s way from Amazon.com. I am also not a big fan of using a zip bag to carry all this, so I just bought a cheap nylon first aid pouch to keep all this nice and secure until it’s needed.

Men's Messenger Bag

And that’s about it. One thing that I do need to add in there somewhere, in addition to everything else that I mentioned, is about $100 in emergency spare cash, because that sort of stuff is never not handy. As I said before, though, this bag goes along with me pretty much every time I leave the house, and it’s either on my shoulder or in the front seat of my car as I go about my day, and no one thinks that it’s anything more than a handy little man-purse, because, well, it is.

Current Semi-Formal Carry

As I’m carrying around the LCP][ now instead of a P3AT, I thought a brief update was in order. Clockwise from upper left.

Looking over everything, I could really use a tourniquet of some kind and more options for less-lethal. However, there is just X amount of room in a pair of dress pants, and since the strong-side front pocket is completely dedicated to gun and holster, the weak side pocket has to carry everything else, and it can get a little crowded in there.

And no, carrying in an ankle holster is right out. Can’t stand the way they feel, and I tend to cross my legs when I’m sitting, increasing the odds of something on my ankle getting spotted.

Ruger LCPII 2000 Round Challenge: Rounds 485 – 635

Ruger LCP2 2000 Round Challenge

LCPII FTEMy life’s been pretty hectic these past few weeks, but now that I’m back home (for awhile, at least), I had the time to head out to the range and put more rounds through the LCPII.

Really starting to like this little gun.

The range session did not start well: I had a Failure To Eject on round #4 of the first magazine, but the other 149 rounds ran fine. I concentrated on running the gun in some drills more oriented to self-defense, as I’ve decided to start carrying the LCPII four days out of seven, and this little gun did not disappoint.

One thing I’m finding out about this gun is that it’s surprisingly easy to shoot one-handed. A gun this small doesn’t have a lot of real eastate for your weak hand to hand onto and it’s so light, it’s easy to hold for long period of times in one hand. As a result, going from two-handed to strong hand only is not that big of a jump, and shooting it one-handed doesn’t affect accuracy all that much. Speed, yes (the lil’ sucker does jump around a bit), but accuracy, no.

CLP Defensive Drills

That’s 150 rounds of PMC Bronze FMJ shot as fast as I could settle the sights near the target and as fast as I could pull the trigger. I didn’t have a timer running, but based on other range days with this gun, I’m guessing my splits were around 0.3 to 0.5 seconds. Is that fast enough to become a BUG Gun Master? Oh no. Is it fast accurate enough to make it through a lethal force encounter?

Probably.

All 150 rounds were shot from three to seven yards distance. This is NOT a long-range gun, 7 yards (maybe even 10, on a good day) is about the furthest distance I’d feel comfortable shooting this gun. Most of the 150 rounds were shot with both hands on the gun, though some were shot strong hand / weak hand only (about 50 rounds or so). Some were shot with diagonal or backwards movement, some not. The point of this wasn’t to put a one-hole group on paper, it was to see how the gun and myself work under stressful conditions, and I’m satisfied with the results so far.

But I’m always trying to get better.

One FTE on round #4, (round number 489 since it was cleaned, and the 3rd FTE so far).

Rounds Fired : 150
150 Rounds PMC Bronze

2000 Round Challenge Results
Total Rounds Fired: 635.
One possible failure to eject on round 116, two failures to eject, rounds 400 and 489.