Prep Work.

I picked up an assignment, many years ago, to take pictures of Magic Johnson right after he gave a speech at a luxury Phoenix resort. I knew his time would be limited, so I arrived early, scouted a good location, and my assistant and I set up four high-powered strobe lights to properly expose him and wonderful Arizona sunset that would happen just as the shot was scheduled to happen.

But what DID happen was that the resort’s circuits weren’t up to the task of handling my strobes and their outdoor lighting at the same time, so my first test shoot blew a breaker and everything went dark.

I had to take a picture of Magic Johnson, and I had to take it NOW, no matter if my primary light source just went into the crapper.

Fortunately for me, I knew that resort pretty well and I knew the outside breezeways looked pretty good and went east-west so there was still light in them even as the sun was going down. I grabbed my assistant, my tripod and a flex fill, and away we all went for an impromptu available light shoot as the light slowly faded in the west.

And the chromes turned out pretty good. Good enough that I picked up two more assignments from the agency who assigned me.

Now think about it… if I hadn’t been familiar with the environment around me and I didn’t have that reflector and/or assistant with me and was inexperienced at slow shutter speed photography, I’d be completely out of luck and would have p!ssed off a basketball legend and not gotten paid by my client for the job.

Familiarity with your surroundings… having a backup plan and backup gear… recognizing what the issue is and working around it on the spot… why does that all seem so familiar? ūüėČ

Oh, and if you get a chance to take photos of Mr. Johnson, do so. He was, BY FAR, the most approachable and laid-back celebrity I’ve ever photographed. It’s not an act with him.

Las Vegas Will Viva Once Again.

Yes, I’ve heard about the horror in Vegas.

No, I will not comment on it. Not for at least another 24 hours.

I will say that the people shot were fish in a $@!%ing barrel, and that the LVPD had a breaching team on-site in under 10 minutes.

That’s a helluva response time. Well done.

And as usual in situations like this, people banded together to save lives. Hotels used shuttle vans to send people to the hospital. People stood up when it mattered most, and once again, they realized that they, and not the cops or the paramedics, were the first responders.

I love you Americans. I really, really, do.

We’ll get through this. But right now, pray for healing and comfort.

And watch your six.

The Top Ten Guns Preferred By Professional Gun Users.

The title of this post at Petapixel irked me somewhat: The Top Ten Films Preferred By Professional Photographers.

Umm, ok, so what? Why does it matter if Morty The Wedding Photographer (hey, he makes his living at it, so technically, he IS a professional photographer) likes to shoot 100 ISO color neg film? Does that affect my preference for Fuji Provia over Ektachrome? And just because Pete Turner could make Kodachrome sit up and dance, should I have used it when I was a “professional photographer” instead of relying on the speed and flexibility of E-6 process films?

Of course not.

Bottom line is, find out what works best for you and how you take photos, and make it your own. However, don’t be afraid to adapt to a new system if the situation demands it.

And yes, this post was a metaphor for defensive firearms.

P.S. Tri-X RULES. Maybe the greatest film in the history of everything. You ain’t a sports photog until you’ve rushed back to the darkroom 15 minutes before deadline, ran your TX400 pushed two stops in 110¬į Rodinal for two minutes and then printed the suckers wet and slapped them on your editor’s desk with two minutes of deadline to spare. You kids and your chimping these days.

Product Review: Holosun HS503C 2 MOA Circle Red Dot Sight

red dot with circle reticuleAdvantages: Always on, great reticle, long battery life
Disadvantages: Finicky battery compartment
Rating: 5 out of 5

I was shooting a 3 Gun match a few years ago, and I discovered, much to my chagrin, that I had forgotten to turn on my red dot sight before I placed it in the staging barrel, meaning I had to take a few extra seconds to turn it on before I proceeded to shoot the stage. This was embarrassing at a match, but potentially lethal if I needed to defend myself with my rifle.

So I decided to try out some options. First up was a Sigtac CP1 3x scope which did the job, but the reticle was far too confusing for serious work. I then swapped that out on my SU16 for the Leupold 1.5-4x scope I originally got for 3 Gun, and it’s working out just fine.

But that left out my .300 Blackout pistol., and for that, I reached out to Brownells for a Holosun HS503C 2 MOA Circle Red Dot Sight. I was particularly interested in this sight because of it’s auto-brightness, solar cell recharging capability and ridiculously long battery life.

And so far, 3 months into it, I am very impressed with this sight. The sight illumination is always pretty much spot-on, although it does have some issues when I’m in a darker spot and pointing out to a much brighter sport. The reticle itself is clear and sharp, with a 2 MOA center that’s surrounded by a 65 MOA circle. I found that the circle fit neatly inside the torso of a standard USPSA target at 40 yards, making ¬†rapid shots on close targets a breeze, and the 2 MOA dot was a nice, round circle, which, because of my astigmatism, doesn’t happen all that often for me.

I can’t speak to the ruggedness of the sight, as I’ve really not torture-tested it in anyway, but I did run into a spot of trouble when it came time to slide in a battery for the first time (and by “spot of trouble” I mean “I actually had to read the directions to see how things were supposed to work”). The battery itself, after three months of being left constantly on, is still going strong, where by this time, the battery in my Bushnell TRS-25 would have been a useless lump of metal.

I likey.

Bottom line is, if you’re looking for a 1x red dot for defensive or competition purposes, I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a better combination of features and pricing than this little sucker, and it’ll be my first-choice for such things from here on out.

FCC Notice: Brownells gave me this to review, not Holosun. Did I write a glowing review of it because of their generosity? Heck no, I wrote good things about it because it’s a good optic!

Know When To Say When.

Say when.

John Correia of Active Self Protection brought up an interesting idea in the midst of a recent interview on the Safety Solutions Academy podcast: For the armed citizen, it’s usually going to be us who initiates the fight, not the bad guy.

“In a law enforcement setting, the cop initiates contact with the bad guy. The fight starts when the bad guy decides to start fighting, and the fight ends with either the bad guy in cuffs or the cop is dead. In a CCW gunfight, it’s almost the exact opposite. The gunfight in the middle is almost the same, but as a CCW holder, it’s your actions, in a territorial violence situation, that initiates the fight, and the fight ends when you break contact with the bad guy.”

It took me awhile to figure it out, but I can see his point. The bad guy is going to want something from us that, unless we run into an asocial predator who wants nothing more from us than our death, is NOT going to be our life and limbs. They are using the threat of violence to get our money or car or something else from us, and they don’t expect us to fight back. As such, while the bad guy initiates the threat, the fact of the matter is, it is US that initiates the violence.

Is that empowering? You better believe it is.

You are no longer the victim in this scenario: YOU get to decide how the scenario will play out, and by being patient and then willing and able to counter the threat of physical violence with an overwhelming amount of actual violence if needed, we take away his (or her) power in one swell foop.

Waiting your turn for violence fits in well with a de-escalation strategery which should be (and is) our preferred method of dealing with “monkey dance” violence, but it also adds in another fear-reducing element: WE are the ones who are in charge of how violent an encounter will get. The crook is NOT expecting violence:¬†He’s expecting that the threat alone will be sufficient to produce the desired reward, and the minute that doesn’t happen, WE have the upper hand.

That’s hellaciously empowering.

Disarming Smile

The Colonel

Michael Bane posted this great quote from Jeff Cooper on Facebook:

“You will probably finish a fight with what you have in your pistol, but carry at least one spare magazine with you at all times. Reload after the fight, because it is just unseemly to walk around with a half empty gun”

Which is part of the reason why I carry a reload, even when I carry a higher-capacity gun like my P07. Do I expect to get into a running gun battle that will require a dozen round or more? No. I don’t expect to get into ANY sort of gun battle at all. However, it’s nice to know that I can reset back to “normal” when the shooting is over.

EDC Pistol Training has more thoughts on this subject, and they’re quite good. Go check them out.

Changing Things Up A Bit.

CZ P07

I don’t have a “carry rotation” of defensive pistols. I carry an LCPII if I need to be discrete, and either an S&W Shield or a CZ P07 for other purposes. I made the decision last year to go with the Shield as my primary gun, and it’s worked really well for me. The Shield is skinny and light (two BIG advantages in a concealed carry pistol) and I know that I can get first-shot hits with it out to 50 yards in under 3 seconds because Jeff Street has watched me do it.

But the Shield has one big drawback: It can hold 8 rounds max in the magazine, or 10 rounds if I want to make my gun print a little more. I’m not expecting to get into a gun fight where I’m going to need an extendo clip, but then again, I’m not expecting to get into a gunfight AT ALL.


I’m not a fan of how things are headed as of late, and being on my own for a few days has increased my awareness of how badly things can go wrong if and when they go wrong. Yes, the statistics clearly prove that 8+1 plus another 8 on the belt will get me through any bad things that might be headed my way, however,¬†having double the boollits in the gun and double the boollits on my belt provides a level of comfort that is very, very real, so it’s back to the P07, at least for a while.

I’m also wearing sandals less-frequently, and wearing shoes that I can run in more often (which can be a real hardship here in sunny Florida). I’m also figuring out ways I can carry my cheap and dirty trauma kit with me all the time, not just when I’m wearing a pair of jeans.

Is it silly to do such things? Yes, right up to the point when it’s not.

Offer You Really Shouldn’t Refuse.

Mike Seeklander has put a bunch of books out for sale directly from him, rather than Amazon, and he’s doing with affiliate marketing so I (and others) will get a piece of the action.

This makes me very, very happy. I fund the blog and most of my training with affiliate links, some to products that I use, some to products I don’t use.

I use Seeklander’s books. They work. You should read them. You’ll get better at shooting if you do.

And if you click on this link or the ad in sidebar, I make a few bucks as well.


Living In A Post-Irmageddon World

Six years ago, I wrote about how watching the .gov screw up the response to Katrina made me realize that they were not going to be there for me if something bad happened to my family.

And they weren’t.

Who WAS there were people like my neighbor Chad, who ran outside at the height of the storm to clean a blocked drain that was threatening to flood our street.

There was Mike’s Weather Page, which provided hurricane models that were far more accurate that what the NOAA was feeding us.

There was the science teacher in my Sunday School class who worked with the NOAA for years, and told us WAY ahead of time that Irma was something to be concerned about. There were faith-based organizations who were FAR more able and nimble than the .gov was.

There were the meteorologists at the various local TV stations who were present when Wilma went through here and knew how to talk to us hurricane rookies.

Race Bannon Mike Pence showed up in our town and walked around and Ben Nelson¬†shook some hands and Air Force One came and went, but they didn’t have to hunt for gas to fuel their cars and they don’t have to worry if the grocery store will have fresh milk tomorrow. FEMA has promised help, but it will be a while until it arrives, but in the meantime, churches ARE helping, and they’re helping right now.

It wasn’t Antifa¬†who drove down my street at 12AM making sure everything was alright when all the lights were out, and it wasn’t the Republican National Committee either. It was the men and women of the Collier County Sheriff’s Office, but I wasn’t counting on them to be there if someone decided to kick in my door during a gap in coverage.

I was, however, counting on the Mossberg 500* in my safe room and the 9mm Shield on my hip.

If and when the .gov does help in the recovery of Hurricane Irma, that’s nice, but to quote Band Of Brothers,¬†¬†“How do I feel about being rescued by Patton? Well I’d feel pretty peachy, except for one thing, we didn’t ******* need to be rescued by Patton.”

We didn’t need to be rescued by the .gov. We rescued ourselves.

* Yes, I know, I wrote on how I was ditching the scattergun in the safe room in favor of an AR in .300BLK. I’m not going to make the switch, though, until my can gets out of ATF jail.

You Don’t Need Something Like That. Until You Do.

Tam talks about how much fun it is to go to a tactical carbine course.

I know people who take butt-tons of carbine classes because, face it, running and gunning with an AR or AK, especially on targets in the 7-to-50 yard range, is fun as hell.

Which is not to say that there wasn’t a ton of value in what I spent last week doing, because any time you get a chance to have to think on your feet while armed and move safely around other armed people and make decisions with a gun in your hand is time well-spent. Working tactics in the house is a different animal altogether from doing marksmanship stuff on the square range.

That got me thinking.

I’ve bagged on such courses in the past, and I still think that they should not be a priority for the average citizen who owns guns. If you have never taken a post-CCW pistol class and have no idea how to set a tourniquet, a carbine class shouldn’t be your first choice.

But let’s stop and think for a second. My neighbor across the street from me is a recently retired 82nd Airborne veteran, and another neighbor the next street over is a former LA County Sheriff.

A carbine class, especially a low-light carbine class that would teach me how to act in conjunction with my neighbors who once got paid to shoot people in the face for a living, suddenly seemed to be a very good idea as I was sitting on my front porch during the darkness of a post-Irma curfew on Monday night, as did some sort of body armor and chest rig. I have a IIIA soft plate, so it might not be a bad idea to get another and also something to hold them close to my body.

Nobody needs such things. Until they do. And given that Category 3 hurricanes are not an uncommon event here in SW Florida, it might behove me to learn how to use an AR-15 more better, and use learn how to use it in conjunction with my friends who know how to use them as well.