Claude’s comments on Ballistic Radio this month hit me really hard. The firearms training industry is in a Catch-22 right now: People flock to trainers who flaunt their high-level military creds because such people have trust icons galore, and at the same time, having a firearms background that is pretty much all M4, all the time is bloody useless for we armed citizens.
I honestly don’t know how people live their everyday lives without having a flashlight and a blade within arm’s reach at all times. How they open up packaging or navigate a darkened parking lot or perform any one of a hundred daily tasks where a portable source of light and a sharp pointy object might come in handy. Yes, there is the current insanity of “weapons free zones” to deal with, but my experience has shown that if you can make a reasonable case that your pointy object is a tool you need to perform your daily tasks, (this is one of my favorites for such purposes), you can have a blade near you at all times.
After poking around and trying out a bunch of knives, I have three which I carry on a regular basis:
Top:A Columbia River Knive and Tool Pazoda 2. I love this little knife for low-profile carry because only the clip shows when I carry it. This is REALLY important in such cases because the last thing you want is someone to fixate on a knife if you’ve also carrying something more… robust on you. Another reason why I like it is because it takes up hardly any room in my pocket, and that matters a lot when you’re trying to squeeze the armed lifestyle into business casual.
Middle:A Boker AK74. I’m blessed to live in a state that allows we plebeians to carry auto-opening knives, so this is what I carry. I also have a Kershaw with the Emerson quick opener on it for the times when I journey outside of the state, but I really like the assured opening of a spring-loaded blade versus relying on a draw to open my knife. Another thing I like this one in particular is once again, only the clip shows when I carry it in my pocket. It’s not as big of a deal with this knife as it is with the Pazoda, because this knife is part of my more-casual everyday carry and my cover garment usually covers my pockets as well as my gun, but it’s still possible to see the clip peek out as I move about through life, and the less noticeable my knife is, the better I like it.
Bottom:An SOG Mini-Instinct. As mentioned before, one of my big takeaways from ECQC was the utility of a fixed blade worn someplace on the centerline for when things get up close and personal, so that’s why this blade rides on my belt just to the left of the belt buckle. This one is for emergency use only: The Boker is the one that I use if there’s cheesecake to be had, and I save this knife for that other reason…
Other than that, I use this little Boker for those times when I really, really don’t want someone to know I have a knife, and that’s about it. They’re maybe not the most expensive knives out there, but they are certainly up to the tasks I need them to perform.
One of the big takeaways from ECQC for me was the utility of verbal agility. There were several evos when the defender was literally stopped in his tracks by what the attacker said, and one memorable time when a verbal confrontation wound up in a textbook Mountain Goat drill, both of them literally butting heads, jockeying for position.
This is not what I would call an optimum resolution of the situation.
So now I’m looking for classes or courses for we armed citizens in how to defuse a hostile situation with what we say, rather than what we carry on our belt. I’ve got the gun solution pretty well covered, and I’m working on the fist solution, now it’s time to work on the lips solution.
This scene in “From Russia, With Love” has always been one of my favourite movie fight sequences. Not a lot flashy technique and technical skills; just two well-trained and athletic men fighting inside a confined space, both trying earnestly and sincerely to beat the other guy to death with whatever is at hand.
I’ve always loved that scene because it felt REAL (and it was… there was only one shot that used stunt doubles: The rest was Sean Connery and Robert Shaw going at it themselves). The editing on it was also sheer genius: Lots of lingering shots of two guys struggling, then a quick cut as positions reversed, then more long shots as they fought for position, then a jump cut or two and WHOA, it’s over and one person is left on his feet and alive.
Which is pretty much what ECQC was like. Taking part in the grappling and disarms and watching the 1-on-1 and 2-on-1 evos (my lower back informed the rest of me on Saturday afternoon that I would not be taking part in the really rough stuff) imprinted on me just how things can go from okay to really, really bad in literally the blink of an eye.
Even though I didn’t get the full experience and engage in the competitive hugging elements, it was still a tremendously valuable class for a number of reasons.
It’s the natural compliment to most firearms training programs, which tend to emphasize accurate fire at around 7-10 yards. The experience of Tom Givens’ students and the video evidence provided to us by Active Self Protection (among others) tells us that if we civilians need to use lethal force, it will be probably be across the length of a car or a similar distance. Note that word: Probably. This is the class to take for when that “probably” doesn’t happen and you have to deal with someone who’s within bad breath distance and very much wants to end your life. A gun class is a good idea and everyone should take them, but what happens inside an ECQC class is probably the ultimate refutation of the idea that a gun as a household talisman against evil. If you’re thinking that owning and carrying a gun is the answer to your self-defense needs, ECQC will disabuse of that notion in some rather unpleasant ways…
We like to think if we have a lethal force encounter, it’ll be with a mugger in a parking lot who’s going to jump out from behind a car wearing a ski mask and say “GIMMEALLYOURMONEYNOW!”. The harsh reality is, though, that you and I have an excellent chance of having to shoot someone we already know. We tend to let friends and relatives into our personal space more than we let in strangers, so if you need to use lethal force against a friend or relative, chances are, it’s going to be at 7 inches distance, not 7 yards, and that’s where ECQC happens.
“A soft answer turns away wrath, but harsh words stir up anger.” – Proverbs 15:1.
One of things mentioned over and over again in the class is that having good communication skills and some “go to” phrases to help calm things down was as important as having a good trigger press or good ju-jitsu skills. I saw this happen in-class during the two-on-one drills, where one attacker’s initial angry challenge to the defender, (which referenced the defender, oral sex and the attacker’s brother), flummoxed the defender to the point where he was unable to respond intelligently and de-escalate things before things turned into a fight, a fight that the defender ended up losing. That really showed how important is it to know how to remove hostility and anger with your words so someone doesn’t try to remove your spleen with a knife.
Speaking of which…
Boy howdy, is an easily-accessible fixed blade ever useful in a close-quarters struggle. The most common occurrence when a gun came out in a clinch was a disarm and a gun lying on the ground. Other than that, we’d see a gun come out and a couple of shots might hit the opponent, but a few shots would also go into the crowd or who knows where.
Lastly, someone would get their gun out but have it taken away from them and then used on them by their opponent, ending the fight in their opponent’s favor. Every time a blade came out, though, someone was going to get the point, and get it often.
That Dropzone article is my first article for Shooting Sports USA, and they’ll be more articles over there by me in the near future. One thing that happened at SHOT this year is that I really diversified the number of places I’m writing for: Look for stuff on Beretta’s blog, the USCCA and even (gasp) American Hunter sometime this year.
Speaking of roundups (and bad segues), I’m outta here later today, off to take ECQC with Craig Douglas this weekend. This is a class I’m really looking forward to (even though I’ll probably get my @ss kicked in new and exciting ways) because it’s an area of self-defense that a) I know little about and b) have noticed for awhile now that there are a lot of people teaching a gun solution to violence and a lot of people teaching a martial art solution to violence but there are very few people integrating the empty handed skills of martial arts into the gun world.
Well, Craig is one of those people, so I am really looking forward to this class, no matter what it does to my poor, decrepit body.
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.
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.
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.
Advantages: Easy to hold, has rails where you want them, has hand stop Disadvantages: Not free-floating, little crammed on the gas block Rating: Five Stars out of Five
Mission First Tactical sent me one of their new polymer forends for review, and I slapped it onto my CavArms AR, replacing the Magpul forend that was already there.
That rifle has always been a bit of a red-headed stepchild: I won the lower off a table at a match, (which is cool), but I’m not that big a fan of fixed-stock lowers. The original purpose for it was a buyout gun, but I replaced it with my more-compact SU-16, so the rifle spends a lot of time in my safe, or else it’s got a .22LR CMMG adapter in it, and I use it as a plinker.
But that hand guard just makes it SHINE. Really like how it looks now. One thing I like about the hand guard is that the Grimlock MLOK slots are up towards the top of the hand guard, away from where your hands are. This allows the lights, lasers and whatnot you add to the rifle to have a clear field of view towards the front, which is a nice (and effective) added touch.
I also like how there’s a small stop at the front of the hand guard to help those of us who use a forward grip on the AR from running our hands in front of the muzzle, which would be… bad. The hand guard comes only in a 7″ length version (for now) and is not free-floating (which makes it slightly less accurate), and the hand guard covers up the first rail slot on my gas block, but other than that, the Mission First 7″ Polymer Handguard is a nice option for your lightweight AR build.
Raven Concealment Pocket Shield And SOFTT-W Tourniquet
Advantages: A real, effective tourniquet you can carry with you Disadvantages: Still takes up a lot of room Rating: Four Stars out of Five
I’ll have more to say about this setup once I figure how it will work into my casual EDC, but so far, the Raven Concealment Shield does what it’s supposed to do and make the mishmash of gear inside the front pocket into a smooth, contiguous whole.
The SOFTT-W tourniquet, in flat-pack mode, is terrific. It’s even easier to conceal than a SWAT-T, and I’ll be standardizing on SOFTT-W tourniquets in all my various first aid kits.
* Say THAT three times fast…
** FCC Alert: Yes, they sent it to me for review. Are you guys really that clueless?
It’s something I think we need to think about more. The cliché you see in an NRA Personal Protection Class (and elsewhere) is the bad gun (always a bad GUY) jumping out from behind a car with a knife and shouts out “GIMMEALLYOURMONEYRIGHTNOWORI’LLKILL!!”
But lets face it, we’re probably more likely to stumble into something already in progress or be caught on the fringe of something that goes down in front of us than to have the mugger-in-the-car-lot scenario happen to us, or we’ll be involved in a “monkey dance” situation with a stranger (or more likely, a family member or friend) that we just can’t de-escalate fast enough.