The Well Armed Person.

Spend sometime inside a gun store, and you’ll see people walk in wanting to buy their very first gun. They’re scared because they can see that the world appears to be spinning out of control, and they know that in the end, they themselves will be in charge of keeping themselves and all they hold dear safe from the evil in the world.

But they have no idea where to start. Like so many others, they’re not familiar with the tools or the techniques needed to stay safe in an unsafe world, so they spend literally hours talking with gun store clerks about what’s the best gun for someone like them.

The problem with that is, gun store clerks don’t get paid on the knowledge they provide, they get paid to sell guns and stuff, and spending hours and hours of time educating customers on Glock vs. Ruger or 9mm vs. .40 pumps up the ego of the clerk, but it does little to pump up the sales volume of the store they’re working in.

Enter Carrie Lightfoot, and the enormous success of “The Well Armed Woman”.

The Well Armed Woman has been very, very successful in introducing women to the concepts of defensive shooting in a relaxed, informative environment that tackles gun choice, concealed carry options, and all the other questions that can bamboozle someone who wants to buy their first gun.

But who says that type of firearms education has to be limited to just women? Why not open it up to everyone? A two-hour “Intro to Defensive Firearms” class once a week, starting with a short dog and pony then followed by questions from the audience and maybe a hands-on with a bunch of (unloaded and empty) guns would go a long way to answering all the questions people have about what gun is “best for them”, and get them closer to the point where they’d buy a gun. Toss in a carrot on top, like, oh, a free box of ammo when they buy a gun, and rather than having to do the same spiel over and over and over and over again, you can do it once, for a bunch of people, saving you time AND money.

Role Player.

Thinking more about this post, a big part of the problem, I believe, is that we see ourselves as “firearms instructors”. We teach guns. We teach guns because we like guns. We are hobbyists, and we preach the hobby.

The problem is that’s not what our audience needs in order to be confident with their gun. They don’t need to be confident with a gun inside the gun range, they need to be able to integrate the gun and that confidence into their lifestyle. Knowing that you can drop all your shots into the upper thoracic cavity at ten yards means little if you don’t have your sidearm with you when you need it.

Who teaches you not only a skill, but how to integrate that skill into your life?

A coach does. A coach doesn’t just teach performance, they teach mindset and ethics and confidence.

Everything we want to see in an armed citizenry.

Maybe we need to stop thinking in terms of Albert Einstein, and start thinking in terms of Vince Lombardi.

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.

They Want Us To Have “A Conversation About Guns,” And Yet This is How They Talk.

But just how does one carry on a conversation with someone like this?

The amount of hysterical ranting here just boggles the mind. The people behind “Guns Down America” apparently haven’t got the memo that gun control is a losing issue, and have decided instead to double down on stupid.

Not that I mind such things. To borrow from  Napoleon Bonaparte, when the enemy is making a mistake, let them.

Well Isn’t That Special.

Breach Bang and Clear has more on the “Tactical Operator = Instant Training Legend” phenomenon that’s popped up as of late, and it’s worth your while:

Who would you rather learn from? A guy who’s had his hands in peoples guts every day for 30 years? Or a guy who spent a couple of tours overseas dealing with guys that come fully stocked with all of the med gear you would ever need – on their person?

Quick question: Which sold better, the “Police Quest” series of video games, or “Call of Duty”?

If you’ve ever picked up a game controller in your life, you know the answer to that question. People these days didn’t grow up playing Cowboys and Indians or Cops and Robbers, they grew up blowing up (virtual) terrorists inside a video game.  On the range and in our training, we tend to want to emulate our heroes, and right now, our heroes are Delta Force, not 1-Adam-12. This, combined with the subtle (and not-so-subtle_ amount of “Walter Mitty-ism” to the gun training community*, means the SpecOps is going to the glamour industry for the foreseeable future.

Good, bad, indifferent, it just is.


* I mean, it’s not like it started out as cowboy “Quick Draw” competition, or something. Oh, wait.

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.