Defence By The Numbers Part II

Ok, so we know what type of violent enocunters are most likely to happen around us. What about the “Black Swan” moments, or expecting the unexpected? 

Aye, there’s the rub. 

Three examples.

One: Many years ago (too many, if I’m honest…) a group of friends from my church’s college group were camping out on the Mogollon Rim, about to fall asleep, when another campsite erupted wild drunken hoots, hollers and gunfire, with what I assumed at the time were shotgun blasts into the air. 

There were twelve of us, seven college-age men and 5 girls (in a seperate tent. This was a church outing, after all…), and the best defensive weapon we had was a hatchet. If those drunks decided they wanted to “party” with the girls, there wasn’t a whole lot we could do about it. 

Two: My wife grew up on an acreage in the forests of northeastern Arizona, surround by her Dad’s extended family. One night, the black sheep of said family decided to invite Arizona’s most notorious motorcycle gang up to his property for the night. Her Dad spent the entire evening on their front porch with his shotgun in his lap, watching over his family as gang members loudly partied less than a 200 yards away from his house. The gang left in the morning and didn’t come back, but it made for a tense, sleepless night for her family. 

Three: Right after my wife and I were married, a cousin of hers took what I considered to be an unhealthy amount of interest in her whereabouts and well-being. Said cousin was 6’5″, 220lbs with a prior conviction for manslaughter for killing an undercover cop during a drug bust. He has since done the world a favour and killed himself, but it did make for a few tense months in our lives as I wasn’t sure how to handle someone like that if he came to our home with evil on his mind. 

What do all three of those examples have in common? 

1. There was a threat of imminent lethal force. 
2. The nature of the threat is outside the daily routine. 
3. Non-lethal force would not be an effective deterrent. 

We don’t carry because we expect trouble, we carry because trouble happens when we least expect it. If a shootout can start up outside of a quiet suburban shopping mall, it can start anywhere. 

The Source Code

This is why I’ve chosen to defend my life and my family. Things like this

Mesa Police say a 1-year-old boy died after getting shot in the head Monday morning in a possible home invasion.

The shooting happened at an apartment complex near Main Street and Horne around 7 a.m., according to Mesa Police.

Mesa Fire official Forrest Smith said crews transported the child in extremely critical condition to a nearby trauma center where he later died.

Mesa police Sgt. Ed Wessing said two unknown suspects are on the loose and may be responsible for the shooting.

Wessing said five children, between the ages of 1 and 8, were at the home at the time and were being watched by their grandmother.

The grandmother was doing laundry and had the door open when the suspects showed up, Wessing said.

Some type of confrontation took place and the boy was then shot, he said.

I know those apartments: A college classmate of mine used to live in them, and while they’re  not the best neighborhood in the Phoenix area, they’re not the worst. My thoughts and prayers are with this child’s family, and my hope is for swift and sure judgement on his murderers.

I have two wonderful sons in elementary school and an amazing wife. We live in a nice, quiet suburb and avoid getting into dumb places at dumb times where dumb things might happen. 

But I can’t really avoid driving down Main Street in Mesa altogether. Or ignore the west side of Phoenix for the rest of my life. Or live inside my house all day long and never go out for the best tacos in the east valley ever again. 

So what can I do? Carry the means to protect myself from armed OR unarmed assailants. Learn how to use them, then learn some more. Enjoy my life, but keep my eyes open. Stay safe. Have fun. 

Front Sight

Well, I drank the koolaid. I bought a mid-week four day defensive handgun training certificate from Frontsight last week for $69. I figure between using frequent flyer miles to pay for the hotel and gas, meals and ammo, the whole thing will cost about $300, which is about the price of a two-day NRA Personal Protection class. 

Can’t hurt, I guess. At the least, I’ll get a week in Vegas out of it. Let’s see if Front Sight’s training is better than their web design or internet marketing acumen. 

I figure they have nowhere to go but up. 

That was easy

Went to the local Staples last night to pick up some Cat 5 (What, doesn’t EVERYONE shop for networking cables in the late evening?) and noticed a shiny new “No Firearms Allowed” decal on the front door.

Well, that’s it for me and Staples. Fry’s Electronics doesn’t allow firearms, either, so it’s time to get nice and friendly with the people at Office Depot.

Get out of Dodge

Gabe Suarez sure has a chest-thumping, meat-eating manly-man way of taking on an aggressive mob

“If you have a pistol, please make sure it is a modern high capacity weapon with a couple of spare magazines in your belt. The Suarez International company gun, a Glock 17 with three magazines, yields a sum total of 52 rounds. Figure three rounds per man, and you can reduce an angry mob of panga swinging killers into a fleeing group of bloodied bad guys. Draw it and yell, “Get The F*** Back!” If they do, run away. If they do not, shoot the first man in the face. The rest will take care of itself.” 

Umn, err, “The rest will take care of itself” isn’t exactly a plan, is it? 

I carry a spare magazine for my CCW gun, but not because I expect the zombie hoards to pop up in my local Circle K or because I expect a hockey riot to break out in my local mall. Rather, I carry a spare mag because 90% of all problems with a semi-auto come down to feeding rounds into the chamber, and having another mag to go to in case something burps gives me a little more confidence in what I carry. 

And as for what to do when a mob shows up, I prefer to learn from people who went through the worst of the 1992 L.A. riots

Gunsite Lite

No, this is NOT a post about what Crimson Trace is doing up in Paulden next weekend, this a post about training and branding and consumer trust. 

Gun Culture 2.0 is about self-defence and unless you’re Chuck Norris (PBUH), that means training. Situational awareness training, “tactical” training, stress-fire, less-lethal options, safe rooms, the whole nine yards. Training is what turns the lump o’ metal on your hip into a weapon that will save your life.

Because the market is large and expanding, there are a lot of people offering “tactical” training out there, some of them very competent and serious, some of them not-so-serious. The problem for consumers is, how do you separate the wheat from the chaff? With everyone and their dog talking about their tacticool skills, how do you make competent, informed decisions about self-defence training that aligns with your perceived needs and available budget? 

I was fortunate enough to have an extremely talented shooter and teacher as my CCW instructor. One of the first things he told us is that only 1 in 3 people who finish a CCW class are serious about it and will make defensive carry a part of their lifestyle. I like to think I’m that one person, although the fact that I’m STILL stuck in D Class Production casts doubt on that point… 

I digress. 

For that 1-in-3 person, what post-CCW training options are there? The NRA offers excellent one and two-day training classes in Personal Protection. I’ve taken both courses, and they do an excellent job of teaching the basics of defensive firearm tactics like safety, situational awareness and methods of concealed carry. The Personal Protection I and Personal Protection II classes are excellent value: For the cost, they’re hard to beat. 

But.

They are beginning courses. They’re not going to teach stance (much), they’re not going to help much with flinching or mashing the trigger or any of the various ways we humans can mess up a shot. Instructor quality can vary: Generations Firearm Training has top-notch people leading their courses and I trust them implicitly, but when it comes to training, there are few recognized leaders out there for the consumer to chose from.

This is where branding comes in. We trust the NRA to provide good training because of their long history, and, for the most part they come through. I have no idea why the NRA doesn’t step up to the plate and aggressively market their NRA-branded protection courses as the logical next-step for CCW holders, but they are missing out here, and others are stepping in to the void left by the NRA’s inaction. 

This market is prime territory for Gunsite and other top-tier schools. They have the brand loyalty. They have the established trust. They have the brand recognition. And most importantly, they know how to teach people how to safely use firearms. 

The least-expensive course at Gunsite is almost a thousand dollars in tuition. Add in three days of hotel, airfare, car rental and ammo, and you’re looking at the same amount of money as a three-day trip to Disneyland. My wife’s a good shot, but I’d have a hard time justifying spending the money for our family vacation on a trip to Gunsite. 

Why not let the mountain come to Mohammed instead? Consider this: 

Gunsite On Location
Course length: 2 days (18 hours)
Prerequisites: CCW License, NRA Basic Pistol or equivalent instruction
Instructor to student ratio: Minimum 1 instructor to 6 students
Instructors: Lead Instructor is an instructor qualified to teach at Gunsite, with up to three assistants, each trained at Gunsite in some manner.
Class: Defensive Pistol 090. Basics of drawing from concealment, situational awareness, firearms safety, defensive tactics, taught using methods from America’s premier defensive firearms academy. Marketing tagline: “What your CCW class doesn’t teach.”
Cost: $500 per student. 18 Students max.
Ammo: 300 rounds factory practice ammo
Completion of this course entitles the participant to $100 off any 250 Pistol course at Gunsite.

The downside to this is that it may dilute the Gunsite brand, but that can be mitigated with video recording of the instructors on location to insure standards are met, detailed after-action reports and instant feedback from class participants via the web.

The advantages are it’s a new revenue stream for Gunsite, it’s another avenue to advertise Gunsite to Gun Culture 2.0 and it increases interest in the more advanced classes at Paulden, both for the students and the assistant instructors.

Ok, Gunsite, I’m looking for a job. There’s your business model, now hire me to run it. 

STILL not the Wild West

It’s been over a year since permit-less concealed carry was signed into law, nine months since the law took effect, and there hasn’t been any gunfights at the O.K. Corral since 1881. 

Will that affect the Brady Campaign and Illegal Mayors Against Guns?

Probably not. 

More …

Planning for Plan B

Pocket Protector

Michael Bane talked about training to your weakness this week on his podcast, and I realized I’ve been neglecting to train with my usual daily carry gun, a Kel-Tec P3AT. 

Oh sure, I’ll go the range with it to try a quick El Prez or the like, but I don’t train with if (or any of pistols, for that matter) in any other situation than standing up. 

But I can’t guarantee I’ll be standing upright if I need to defend my life: I may be sitting, I may be kneeling, I may be face down in the dirt, but I need to know how to get my pistol into action as quickly as possible from all of those positions, and that’s something I’ve never trained. 

For safety’s sake, though, it’s best if I do this in two distinct parts. One is practicing my draw and presentation with an unloaded gun at home. Ideally I should use a blue gun for this, but they don’t make a P3AT blue gun just yet, so instead I’ll use a homemade chamber flag and multiple, multiple chamber checks to make sure the gun’s empty and stays empty throughout my practice. I’ve not had a negligent discharge (yet) and I fully intend never to have one. 

The second part is practicing shooting from sitting, kneeling and prone positions with my P3AT and other carry guns on the range, a fairly easy task to accomplish.

All this practice and training probably won’t make me into a robot mutant cyborg, but it will make me more fast and accurate on the worst day of my life. 

And that’s a good thing.

Flight of fancy

USPSA v. FBI QITI wanted to see how my daily carry rig stood up to a standardized pistol drill, and I chose the Air Marshal standards course, as it seemed to be (and was) a good test of my skills and equipment.

The rig I used was my CZ P07 in a Crossbreed SuperTuck, concealed with an oversized t-shirt. My spare mag was stored in my weak-side front pocket. I don’t have any FBI QIT targets, so I used a USPSA Metric target. I scored A, B and C hits as 5 pts, D hits as 2, and misses as zero.

The drill, and my results

All strings are shot from a distance of seven yards.
Qualification: Time: Cannot exceed total time for each drill. Example: Drill #1 – 1st time 1.70 seconds, 2nd time 1.55 seconds; Total = 3.25 seconds = Go. Must achieve a “GO” on each drill. Accuracy: Target is FBI “QIT” (bottle). Total rounds fired is 30. Point value inside bottle = 5. Point value touching line or outside bottle = 2. Maximum possible score = 150. Mininum qualifying score = 135. All stages must equal “GO” to qualify.

Individual Drill Starting Position Time Allowed Actual Time Score Pass/Fail
One Round (Twice)
3.3 Seconds Total
Concealed from Holster 1.65 seconds 1.92 5 F
1.65 seconds 1.82 5 F
Double Tap (twice)
2.70 Seconds Total
Low Ready 1.35 seconds .98 10 P
1.35 seconds 1.07 10 P
Rhythm; fire 6 rounds at one target; no more than 0.6 second between each shot.
3 Seconds Total
Low Ready 3.0 seconds 2.62 30 P
One Shot, speed reload, one shot (twice).
6.5 Seconds Total
Low Ready 3.25 seconds 2.89 10 P
3.25 seconds 5.35 10 F
One Round each at two targets three yards apart (twice).
3.3 Seconds Total
Low Ready 1.65 seconds 1.35 10 P
1.65 seconds .89 7 P
180° pivot. One round each at three targets (twice). Turn left, then right.
7.0 Seconds Total
Concealed from Holster 3.5 seconds 2.84 15 P
3.5 seconds 2.75 10 P (?)
One Round, slide locks back; drop to one knee; reload; fire one round. (twice).
8.0 Seconds Total
Low Ready 4.0 seconds 5.1 10 F
4.0 seconds 4.7 10 F
Result: (1 miss on one of the pivot drill strings)       142 Fail

A few thoughts…

FAIL.

I love my Crossbreed Supertuck, but it sucks to draw from. I need to start thinking about a pancake or yaqui slide holster for the P07 and use the Crossbreed only as a tuckable IWB holster, or else modify the Supertuck so I can get a quicker draw.

And no, switching to a “shoot me first” vest isn’t something I’m considering, mainly because I never wore them in the past, even when I was a full-time photographer, and in the heat of a 115+ Phoenix summer, adding on additional layers of clothing doesn’t seem that wise. Besides, I’m more of The Dude than I am Walter Sobchak .

I need a better way to store spare mags than my front pocket. I blew one string because I wasted a couple of seconds playing pocket pool with my reload, and failed two others for much the same reason.

All in all, though, I like the drill as it tests both my skill set and the tools I use. When I didn’t hav to draw or reload, I easily beat the required par times. A few tweaks to my holster and accessories, and I should pass the next time I run this drill.