A quick roundup of stuff on the web.
- Smith & Wesson has a new pistol out, the M&P380 Shield EZ. Apart from the word salad of a name, it looks like a really good little gun for people who want a gun to “feel safe” but aren’t going to get much training beyond a CCW class.
Which doesn’t mean that a heavier, flat-shooting .380 is a bad option for a defensive pistol: It’ll do the job. Are the better options? Yes. Are those options worth the effort for 80% of the gun owners out there? Probably not. Really looking forward to seeing how S&W rolls out this gun, because how they marketed the Shield rollout was terrific.
- My first article for the Beretta Blog is up, on what to look for in a firearms trainer.
- And I’ve got an article on setting up a safe room inside your house over at NRA Family.
- David Yamane was on Ballistic Radio, and it’s a great interview. Listen to it here.
- Step By Step Gun Training is bringing John Farnam to Naples for a vehicle defense class. We spend hours and hours inside our cars each week, and carjacking is very real thing. Therefore, it’d be good to know what to do if you’re attacked inside your car because the rules change when the workspace shrinks.
Boy howdy, am I looking forward to this one. Not only because I’ll get to meet a whole lot of people in-person who I know only from the Internet, but also because of the training. Caleb Causey on trauma care! Ernest Langdon on DA/SA guns! Claude Werner on pocket snubbies! Mas Ayoob! Chuck Haggard! John Farnam! Craig Douglas! John Hearne! William Aprill! Greg Ellifritz!
Hang on a minute, all that awesome gave me the vapors. I need to sit down…
So yeah, really, really looking forward to meeting great people and taking some great classes. This is the training highlight of the year for me, bar none.
Claude Werner lists out some of the reasons why people don’t get firearms training.
- Lack of motivation
- Lack of incentive
- Lack of understanding
The thing is, though, people are willing to overcome the obstacles of time, motivation, accessibility, money and scheduling if they think that what they’re getting is worth the effort they put into getting it.
And if you don’t think this is true, ask yourself, when was the last time you drove the extra mile (or ten, or twenty) for really good pizza/Mexican/pasta/beer/whatever, versus stopping to eat at the first place you found?
I thought so.
If an experience, ANY experience, has been proven to be of value, you will do it again. How many people get CCW training? How many people then go beyond that CCW class and get more training in how to use their firearm effectively?
Answer: Not many. Very few.
The CCW Class is the top of the funnel: Enrolling in such a class is a tacit admission that a) threats exist and b) you’re aware of the need to do something about it. However, people who take a concealed carry class are not seeing the value in taking more training.
Why is this happening?
The answer, I think, lies in that word “effectively”. I don’t have the answer for this just yet, but the problem is clear: The value proposition for post-CCW firearms training is not apparent enough to gun owners, and that needs to change.
One of the things about the dojo model of firearms training is that it requires the use of advanced students to train the beginners: The brown belts train the white belts because in doing so, they a) free up the sensei’s time and b) learn how to do stuff in the process of training others. An example:
Something that helps make Step By Step Gun Training’s Shoot and Scoots so successful is that they have experienced shooters who are NRA Certified RSO’s help the new gun owners with things like finger off the trigger while moving and how to do a safe presentation and reholster. The RO’s aren’t there to help shave 0.2 seconds off a draw: Their job is to get the newbies (white belts) up to speed and in doing so, reinforce those skills in themselves, and in the process, learn how learn so they themselves can become better shooters. There’s an initial sorting process that takes place with first-timers so the RO’s don’t train people who are absolutely new to guns: Those people are sent to a lead instructor to get the Four Rules and some basic marksmanship drilled into them before they hit the range.
This process of using advanced students to help guide competent but inexperienced new students helps free up the lead instructor’s time to a) instill a basic level of safety into the really, really new students and b) allow time to work with experienced students on areas like faster trigger speed and better gun manipulation. The dojo model needs a sensei, but it also needs lots and lots of sempai as well.
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.
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.
… 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
A quick roundup of some articles I wrote that aren’t SHOT-related.
- Some tips and techniques if you own just one gun and want to use it better.
- Dropzone Gunner: A Spartan Race / Tough Mudder… but with guns!
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.
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.
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 Visiting||Lane Rental||Ammo||Gun Rental||Monthly Cost||Yearly Cost|
|Ted's Shooting Range||$14.00||$18.00||$9.00||$41.00||$492.00|
|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 Membership||Lane Rental||Ammo||Gun Rental||Monthly Cost||Yearly Cost||Membership|
|Ted's Shooting Range||$0.00||$18.00||$4.50||$44.17||$530.00||$260.00|
|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.
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.