After-Action Report: Extreme Close Quarters Concepts With Craig Douglas

After-Action Report: Extreme Close Quarters Concepts with Craig Douglas

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.

  1. 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…
  2. 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.
  3. “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…
  4. 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.
    Whoops.
    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.

ECQC was everything I hoped it would be. I’ve been looking for something that would integrate the gun solution to a violent attacker with the empty-hand solution to violence, and that’s exactly what it was. If an old and slow white guy like me can take this class and get a lot out of it, so will you.

Don’t Try To Understand ‘Em…

Don’t Try To Understand ‘Em…

… just rope ’em, tie ’em and brand ’em
Soon we’ll be living high and wide.

My heart’s calculatin’
My true love will be waitin’
Be waitin’ at the end of my ride

Move ’em on, head ’em up
Head ’em up, move ’em on
Move ’em on, head ’em up
Rawhide

A quick roundup of some articles I wrote that aren’t SHOT-related.

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.

And As It Turns Out, I Have Done Just That.

And As It Turns Out, I Have Done Just That.

Me, five years ago:

According to the commenters (some of which are combat medics), I needed to start with a pressure and a tourniquet rather than the QuikClot.

Which exposes a big gaping hole (no pun intended…) in my training: Aside from CPR and some basic first aid, I’ve had no training in dealing with the effects of a negligent discharge.

Today, I’ve had a day-long course in first-aid trauma med, and I carry either an improvised tourniquet or a full-on SOF-T everywhere I go.

Cool.

Which Is Better: An Indoor Gun Range Or An Outdoor Gun Range

Which Is Better: An Indoor Gun Range Or An Outdoor Gun Range

Owning a gun is great thing, but owning a gun and shooting it on a regular basis is even better. Having a gun in your house isn’t going to make you safe anyomre than having a car on your driveway is going to get you to the corner grocery store: You have to learn how to use it safely and efficiently so it to do the job it’s supposed to do.

So what does it actually cost a new gun owner to shoot on a regular (monthly) basis? In 2013, back when I lived in Phoenix, I visited some of the local indoor and outdoor ranges to find out what a monthly practice session might cost a new shooter. My assumption is that you’ll go to the range and spend an hour shooting 50 rounds of FMJ ammo from a 9mm pistol at three different man-sized targets, which based on my experience, is about what most casual shooters do on a typical day at the range.

Ranges: Rio Salado Sportsman’s Club (outdoors), Ted’s Shooting Range (indoors), Caswell’s Shooting Range (indoors), Phoenix Rod and Gun Club (outdoors), Scottsdale Gun Club (indoors) and Shooters World (indoors).
Lane Rental: One person for one hour
Ammo: 50 rounds of 9mm FMJ. For ranges without ammo sales (PRGC, Rio), I used the price of a box of 9mm at my local WalMart.
Gun Rental: A 9mm pistol for one hour. For ranges without gun rentals, I used the cost of a typical quality 9mm pistol ($540) spread out over 12 months.
Membership: One year’s individual membership. Range memberships at Ted’s is for 14 months, not a year, so I reduced that amount for comparison purposes.

Just VisitingLane RentalAmmoGun RentalMonthly CostYearly Cost 
Rio Salado$5.00$13.00$45.00*$18.00$756.00
Caswells$15.00$21.00$7.00$43.00$516.00
Ted's Shooting Range$14.00$18.00$9.00$41.00$492.00
Shooters World$15.00$15.00$10.00$40.00$480.00
Scottsdale Gun Club$15.00$14.00$14.00$43.00$516.00
Phoenix Rod and Gun Club$14.00$13.00$45.00*$27.00$864.00
With MembershipLane RentalAmmoGun RentalMonthly CostYearly CostMembership
Rio Salado$0.00$13.00$45.00*$65.92$791.00$95.00
Caswells$0.00$18.90$0.00$48.07$576.80$350.00
Ted's Shooting Range$0.00$18.00$4.50$44.17$530.00$260.00
Shooters World$0.00$14.25$5.00$40.08$481.00$250.00
Scottsdale Gun Club$0.00$13.00$0.00$44.67$536.00$380.00
Phoenix Rod and Gun Club$0.00$13.00$45.00*$71.75$861.00$165.00

* $45 / month reflects the cost of owning your own pistol, spread out over 12 months

So for just a couple hundred dollars more per year or so, memberships at Rio Salado or Phoenix Rod and Gun look like a real bargain, right? After all, that price includes a new gun, and they have long-distance rifle ranges as well.

Not so fast.

First off, they’re outdoor ranges. Not bad, now that temperatures in the Phoenix area are leveling off, but that sucks when it’s 115 degrees outside or, for colder climes, if it’s winter and the snow is waist-deep on the ground.

Secondly, the public ranges at both outdoor ranges have a minimum distance that you can set up targets, about 8 yards or so. Not a big issue for some, but if you’re trying to train a new shooter, it can get discouraging for them to shoot and shoot and shoot and not see decent groups on the target.

Thirdly, you can pull down at a set up targets at an outdoors public range only during cold range times, and those happen on a schedule, and not when you need them.

Finally, most outdoor ranges have pistol bays, where you’ll be the only one shooting and you can set up and take down targets however you like. These are where the real improvement happens, as shooters can set up advanced drills that involve drawing from a holster, moving with your gun in-hand and multiple targets at multiple distances.

So which should you chose?

That depends on your needs. I use both on a regular basis. I’ve been a member at Rio for over 5 years. I like their public range, and I like the people. But I’ve come to appreciate the comfort of indoor shooting and the convenience of reserving a lane in advance in an indoor range.

It comes down to what kind of a shooter you are. A public outdoor range membership is great for people who know what they want in a firearm and don’t need (or want) to try out new guns. However, indoor rental ranges are the perfect for  people getting into the shooting sports: For less than $50 a month, you can try out many different firearms and find the one(s) that suit you best and lets you grow into firearms ownership at your pace.

Either way, there are no bad choices: The worst day at the range is still better than the best day in the office.

Lighten Up, Francis.

Lighten Up, Francis.

I have a friend who’s AntiFa, and his response when I suggested that maybe violence wasn’t the answer for his group was “Well, when I’m being threatened with violence, what choice to I have?” *

In other words, he hit me, so I have no choice but to hit him back.

Bull crap. That is a child’s response to violence: “Of course I hit him, he hit me first! I HAD to hit him!” **

“No choice?” We are humans, not animals. We learned to override our baser instincts around the same time one of us figured out that a burning branch wasn’t something to be afraid of, but rather, it was good for warmth and illumination and starting barbecues.

No, we do not always have control over the actions of others, but we always, ALWAYS have control over our reactions. Any cop could probably tell you about the times they’ve had some poor fool sitting on a curb in cuffs, watching a friend bleed out in front of them say something like, “Man, I didn’t want to do it, but he just wouldn’t back down.” At that point, one life is over, and one life is ruined. Who hit whom first is a bit of a moot point. I’m not willing to let this beautiful country with its beautiful freedoms go away just because a bunch of children started arguing over who threw the first punch.

* I’m old enough to remember when Martin Luther King Jr. was reviled by the right and loved by the left. My, how things have changed.
** I haven’t heard that said in our house since my youngest son turned ten, which speaks volumes about the emotional age of Antifa and other groups.

The Rule To Every Exception.

The Rule to Every Exception.

Yes, in general, car guns are a bad idea.

But four days out of seven, I carry an LCP2 with no reload in my vicinity, so it’s nice knowing that there’s something nearby with a little more oomph to it. Is there a chance that my car could be broken into? Sure, I’ve had my car broken into, and I’ve learned from my mistakes. I had my truck broken into once because someone mistook my Bible in its leather cover for a purse, broke a window and ran off with that and a $40 leather jacket. I’ve lost camera gear due to truck break-ins, and every time it happened, I made the stupid mistake of leaving my gear out in plain view.

Unless it’s a riot situation where EVERYBODY’S car is getting trashed, crooks don’t break into random cars: They are looking for something, and when they see it, they balance the risk vs. reward and go for it.

No reward? Less risk. MUCH less risk.

Trust Icons.

Trust Icons.

You know those silly images on e-commerce sites which show who provided their SSL or say things like “Protected by McAfee”? To someone like me, who’s been on the web for over two decades, they’re at best a silly gesture and at worst totally useless.

But here’s the dirty little secret about them: They work. They bring in more business. Sites that have those images on their checkout pages have better conversion rates than sites that don’t have them. They’re called “trust icons”, and they work because people make buying decisions with their heart first, then with their head. They feel safe with a site that has them, and they want to do business with that site.

The same is true for firearms training, which is why trainers who talk about their military or law enforcement background can get away without little or no civilian training courses or instruction on how to teach anyone who isn’t being forced to sit in their classroom. They may not have be teaching stuff that’s particularly relevant to our lives as everyday people, but to many, many people out there, knowing that you’re getting your training from a cop or military veteran means you’re getting training from someone who has been there and done that, and you can trust what they say.

No matter if what they’re saying makes any sense or not.

New Year, New Goals

New Year, New Goals

My goals for last year was to be and not do, and boy howdy, did I do, err, be, that. I filled in some huge gaps in my training with a Law Of Self Defense Class, a MAG40, The Armed Parent/Guardian class and a class on how to dispense spicy treats onto the annoying people in your life.

This year, I’ve got SHOT, my first go-round through ECQC with Southnarc, TacCon and then probably a long-range rifle class as well. All of that will happen before May is over. Whew!

I still need to work at getting better at movement, and my overall conditioning in general. This means getting up a half hour earlier to work out. Ugh.

The good news is, I’ll be working out only ever other day. The days in-between, I’ll be working on dry-fire. I finally got serious and bought Ben’s book. Now to put that into practice.

I’m also working on a deal for a two-day hog hunt in central Florida, but more on that when and if it happens.

As for guns, I’m thinking about getting a Smith&Wesson J-Frame. I’ve been writing a lot about pocket guns as of late, and I figure it’s time I get one of the O.G. pocket pistols. I’m getting in a Colt Competition 1911 for an article I’m writing, and if I like it, it’ll go into my collection as well. Also, as a long-range class might be in my future, it’s time to change the bottom metal on my Savage so it can take detachable mags. Also, I’ve had it up to HERE with my little Lee reloading press, so a progressive press is definitely in my future.

So, those are my goals. What are yours?

The Personalized Defense Weapon.

The Personalized Defense Weapon.

John from No Lawyers, Only Guns And Money made a terrific point on social media recently about the new Ruger carbine: It’s an updated version of the M-1 Carbine.

He’s right on so many levels. Why was the M-1 invented? Because soldiers needed something longer-ranged and more accurate than a pistol but was easier to carry around than a rifle. Now granted, the new Ruger weighs seven pounds which is more than a lot of AR-15’s these days, but it breaks down into two easy-to-stow halves making it easier to stash away in a backpack and whatnot. Also, filled up with 124gr +P’s, it’ll dish out more hate than most (if not all) 9mm pistols, but be a lot easier to control and make a lot less noise than even the tamest of rifles.

There’s a lot of clued-in firearms trainers out there who recommend a 10/22 with a red dot and 30 round mag as a defensive firearm to people who, because of infirmities, can’t handle recoil or who have difficult time operating a handgun, and the 10/22 is a good option for them. It’s easy to use, it has a lot of firepower, and it’s easy to put the red dot on the target and pull the trigger until the target realizes the error of his/her ways or stops twitching.

Either one is an acceptable outcome.

With the new 9mm carbine, all of that is still true, except now, in exchange for a bit more noise and a bit more recoil, you’re sending 9mm rounds downrange instead of 40gr .22’s.

Win-win-win. Well, except for the bad guy. That’s a lose-lose situation for him.