The Brainpower Behind The Firepower

The brainpower behind the firepower

When John Lott, the author of “More Guns, Less Crime” teams up with Gary Mauser, you know the results are going to be good

“To repeat, during these seven years, there were only 62 cases — nine a year — where it was even conceivable that registration made a difference. But apparently, the registry was not important even in those cases. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Chiefs of Police have not yet provided a single example in which tracing was of more than peripheral importance in solving a case.” 

Good riddance to bad rubbish.

Activism From The Grounds Up

Activism from the grounds up

I’d call Starbucks Appreciation Day a resounding success. 

Fans

Can we now please put to rest the silly idea that gunblogs can only tear something down, not build something up? 

Update: I think Linoge nails it: The point of the buycott wasn’t to force Starbucks to post “Guns welcome here” signs in all their stores, the point was to reward them for not giving in to the fear-mongering of the hoplophobes of the world.

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Front Sight Four Day Defensive Handgun Course Review, Day Four

Front Sight Four Day Defensive Handgun Course Review, Day Four

Day One is here

Day Two is here

Day Three is here

Day Four

Picking up from where I dozed off yesterday, after lunch on Wednesday  it was more drills:  Controlled pairs into center-mass from 3, 5, 7, 10 and 15 yards, and headshots / failure to stop drills from 5 and 7 yards, all repeated at least three times. The capper of this was their “ragged hole” drill: Five shots from the holster at five yards into a 1 inch square. Didn’t quite make it there myself, but I did pretty well.

And before I forget, here’s a pic from yesterday. This is the “Monsters Inc.” range, for practicing tactical movement.

Front Sight Doors

More on that, and their “tactical” teaching in general in Friday’s wrap-up.

Today started off with more drills: Controlled pairs into center-mass from 3, 5, 7, 10 and 15 yards, and headshots / failure to stop drills from 5 and 7 yards.

And then it was time for the head-to-head matchup. The course of fire was pretty easy: Headshot at a hostage-taker target at 10 yards, then one shot each at two torso-size plates at 15 yards.

Head to head

I did ok on this: I got into the third round, but my first shot on the next round went into the “hostage” target” and that meant it was over for me.

After lunch, it was more drills, and then the final test. I never did know the time we had for each shot, but it wasn’t short. C-Class shooter that I am, with my dead-stock CZ P07 and a Supertuck, I was able to ace the shooting part of the test, dropping only two shots out of 25 out of center mass / center-head.

The malfunction drills are where I blew it, though. Not THAT big of a surprise considering this was the part of the class where I had the least experience. I’m sure if I shot a 1911, I’d have more practice with them.

I kid. I jest. Mostly. 🙂

And that was that. I ended up at the “Graduate” level, one of 17 of our class of 32 who did so, which was apparently quite good, We had one person hit “Distinguished Graduate”, and I was kinda bummed it wasn’t me (durn my competitive nature!).

And the sunset on the last day wasn’t bad either. Here’s the view from “Sniper’s Point”.

Snipers Point

Final thoughts, and an answer to the big question (Was it worth it?) tomorrow.

Front Sight Four Day Defensive Handgun Course Review, Day One

Front Sight Four Day Defensive Handgun Course Review, Day One

Preamble: Even though I am an NRA Instructor and CCW permit holder, Front Sight requires a signed character witness from a friend who’s known you for five or more years to be FAXED into them. Yes, faxed. Did I go to sleep and wake up in 1992 or something? So I did that, and called them about a month ago, wanting to know if they got it.

“We don’t do that anymore”, said the rather brusque customer “service” rep on the phone. “Just log on the website with your member number and you’ll see everything there.”

I semi-patiently explained to him that I was not a member, this was my first class, and I wanted to know the status of my application. He seemed taken aback that a mere applicant would be wasting his time in this way, and told me to fax it in again.

Apparently, scanners and email attachments freak out some people.

Once that was cleared up, I stayed the weekend after SHOT in Vegas and drove out to Front Sight, arriving at their gate at 6 bloody 30 in the bloody am after an hour and 15 minute drive from my hotel in Vegas.

First up was confirming my reservation (which was easily done, in marked contrast to my previous engagement), and a “Safety Inspection” where my pistol was checked for function and placed in my holster by the RSO: I never touched the durn thing. For someone who’s used to the rigorous safe area rules and “Unload and show clear” environment of practical pistol, the safety procedures at Front Sight, while thorough, are tripping me up. More on that later.

A word on my equipment for the week. As this is a defensive handgun course, I’m shooting it my CZ P07 in (for now) a BladeTech OWB holster and BladeTech mag pouches. I’ll switch to my SuperTuck once the concealed carry part starts on Wednesday.

Then it was into the main classroom for our paperwork and welcome speech. This place is BIG, and it easily held the 200 or so people with me today.

Front Sight Classroom

After an hour or so in here, it was out to the range. There are 5 pistol ranges near the classroom, and pictures of them will come later as the weather today SUCKED. It was cold, windy, and rainy and most of us were chilled to the bone after a few short minutes outside.

Our instructors were pleasant, outgoing and helpful, but you could tell their training experience was mainly with Front Sight and not other schools. Look, I don’t care if you’re a Front Sight Super Dooper Deluxe Member or not: I want to know how long you’ve been training students and what your firearms teaching background is, and as far as I can tell, only 2 of the five instructors had any instructor training outside of Front Sight, and that was with the NRA.

Now, about those safety rules. Any competitive shooter will tell you the commands of USPSA/IDPA:

Make ready! (Load your pistol and get it in to the designated start position)
Standby! (Here we go, folks!)
And, at the end of a course of fire, “If you are finished, unload and show clear. If clear, hammer, holster, range is clear!”

These are not Front Sight’s commands. Instead, they do,

“Make ready for firing!”, which is…
Unholster the pistol
Present to low ready
Press check (with their own rules on how to do that)
Magwell check
Load magazine
Charge pistol
Press check (again)
Mag check (again)

And at the end of a string, do much the same.

I’m certain it’s safe, it’s just tripping me up a bit because I’m expecting totally different commands.

The drills started out simple, with basic grip and stance work. If you come in here knowing modern isosceles or Chapman or some other stance, forget it, as they WILL force you to shoot Weaver. Is that a bad thing? Not really. It may mess up my usual isosceles for a few weeks, but I’m finding the Waver to be beneficial to learn.

The first rounds were sent downrange about 3 hours into the range time, with an emphasis on controlled pairs using the three Front Sight “secrets” of good marksmanship, which are:

Sight Alignment
Sight Picture
Trigger Squeeze

If those are secrets, I’d hate to see what they consider to be common knowledge…

During lunch there was a video playing about the history of Front Sight and Dr. Piazza’s philosophy of armed citizenry. Nothing outrageous, about par for the course for any corporate video.

After lunch there was a lecture on the combat mindset and the situational awareness colour code. You’d think with a topic like that, they’d mention Col. Jeff Cooper, the originator of both those concepts.

Wrong.

And that, so far, has been my major beef with Front Sight. It’s as if firearms training didn’t exist before the berms went up in Pahrump. No mention of Gunsite. No mention of who created the Weaver stance (and why), no mention of any other training facilities at all other than Front Sight. I get the need not to cross the streams and promote other schools, but Front Sight is built on the Colonel’s legacy: Without him, there’d be nothing to teach at Front Sight, nor any reason for Front Sight to exist at all.

Now, as far as the teaching itself goes, so far, it’s been pretty basic, just work on presentation, controlled pairs and “getting off the X”. One thing that has surprised me is the quality of the shooting. With my background in competition and training, I came to Front Sight expecting to be The Smartest Kid In The Class, but so far, I’d say I was in top third or so. There are 3 law enforcement officers, 2 women, and 3 total newbie in my class of 32. Ages are anywheres from the mid to late 20’s on up to senior citizens.

I’ll have more pics and reports tomorrow. Right now, I gotta get some rest, it’s a long drive from Vegas to Pahrump.

Cheap, Quick And Dirty

Cheap, quick and dirty

No, that is NOT the answer to “How does Exurbankevin like his women!”

Pervs.

I digress.

Caleb kicked over a hornet’s nest talking about his dislike of cheap guns. Me, I’m ok with them. Sorta.

  1. Yes, sometimes, a cheap gun is all you can afford. At the first Arizona Bloggershoot a few years ago, the benches to the south of us were occupied with a bunch of locals who were havin’ a grand ol’ time shootin’ things up with a half-dozen Mosins, a few HiPoints, a Mossberg Maverick and a Taurus PT145.
    They were being safe, so who am I to tell them not to have a good time just because their guns were cheap?
  2. Cheap guns are the gateway drug to expensive guns. Someone who shoots a cheap gun regularly will soon have it break on them, and that’ll be the end of cheap guns for them. Should they have bought an expensive gun in the first place? Probably, but maybe if they did, they wouldn’t have the money on ammo to make their cheap gun break: They’d have bought an expensive gun and never shot it. Which leads me to…
  3. Cheap guns allows for more training, and a good training regime can break cheap guns into little bitty pieces (ask Todd G about that). Given a choice between a newcomer buying a $300 Kel-tec, $100 of ammo and a $100 NRA Basic Pistol class versus a guy who buys a $450 Glock and shoots it only once a year, gimme the trained newbie with a cheap gun any day of the week.

There is a place for cheap guns, just like there’s a place for beater cars and cheap cameras.

If nothing else, a cheap gun is a life’s way of telling you that somethings are worth what you pay for them.

Light Bright

Light Bright

Sometimes, you don’t need a laser for accurate shooting at night.

For me, the Streamlight TLR-1 on my SIG SAUER P226R projects a circle of light where my bullet’s point of impact is near 12 o’clock in the beam’s hotspot. I have shot many groups at the range and trust this orientation out to five yards.

The Surefire lights on my H-K MP-5 and Remington 870 were also “minute-of-man” at close range during actual shooting drills.

Where is this important? At CQB distances in room clearing, I am confident that, with the light on, punching out at the target and sending rounds into the beam’s focal point will give me center of mass hits.

I’ve found this to be the case with the Insight light I won at the NRA Convention and my Mossberg 500.

Mossberg 500 with Insight light

This is about the longest shot I’ll need to take in a defensive position inside my house: It’s the view looking down from the top floor to the front door, and the only reason I’ll need to do it is to watch over my kids as they pass behind me from their rooms into the safe room. If anything else happens, we’ll hole up in the there and leave the house-clearing to the cops when they show up.

Mall ninjas, have at it!

What’s interesting is that small circle of light in the middle of the door, or rather, the small circle of shadow caused by the bulb and reflector from the Insight light. It’s a little off off center from the barrel, so I need to hold slightly to the left, but it’s close enough for government work.

And sonuvagun if that shadow isn’t also about the same size as the buckshot shot pattern from the Mossie.

If (God forbid) I need to use the gun to defend my family, I know I can get it onto target quickly, thanks to the way the Insight light projects onto the target.

Neat.

Put It Away And Don’t Play With It.

Put it away and don’t play with it.

Blue Sheep Dog has a link to a great article from the FBI (PDF link) on recognizing armed assailants that is really useful for we armed civilians. An interesting takeaway:

The authors discovered that none of the offenders they interviewed, in 15 years of research, ever used a holster to carry their firearms. This means that a lot of the behavioral traits will be more obvious if you are looking for them. Think about it: if you are not carrying your gun in a holster, and it is moving around as you walk, aren’t you going to constantly be touching it to 1) make sure it doesn’t move too far out of place, and 2) you didn’t drop it?

Let Plaxico Buress serve as a warning to all of us.

Threats Analysis

Threats analysis

I’ve been thinking more about the comment I left in a post last week.

There are, as I see it, two kinds of violent encounters: Predatorial and Adversarial. 

The “sudden encounter” is a predator attack, be it mugger, rapist or Rottweiler. Those types of encounter require you to be on your game rightthisveryinstant and respond to the attack with enough force to end things.

The Adversarial attack is road rage or the loudmouth in bar itchin’ for a fight or the jealous spouse of a co-worker or the fight between friends that gets out of hand. Those happen on pretty well-defined patterns, and if they get out of hand, they get out of hand in predictable paths that can be countered (or better yet, de-escalated) in predictable ways. 

And as things are now, we spend a LOT of time preparing and training for the Predatorial attack: The mugger, the home invasion, the sexual assault. It’s not that these kinds of attacks aren’t real, it’s that for us law-abiding folk, they are just not that common. 

Predators tend to prey on the weak, and if you’ve taken the steps needed to secure your family at and away from home, you are not easy pickin’s no more. When such an attack happens, there’s little you can do to de-escalate the action, in fact, trying to de-escalate it will probably get you killed dead. Such an attack requires the immediate and swift application of force sufficient to end the threat. Anything less just ain’t enough.

Which leaves adversarial encounters. These differ in that we can and should control the level of force needed to end things. “A soft answer turneth away wrath” ain’t in the Bible because it sounds nice, it’s in there ’cause it works. 

Adversarial encounters can get out of hand quickly if no one choses to de-escalate. Ask any cop who’s had to arrest someone for a barfight or the murder of a friend and he’ll tell you the number one thing they’ll hear from the poor soul who’s now cuffed on the curb is “Why didn’t he just back down?”. 

I turn that around and ask “Why didn’t YOU just back down?”

Is an insult, a bad lane change or a loud remark worth twenty years of your life and the loss of your firearms freedoms? Is it worth not seeing your kids grow up or your friends? Is it worth a black mark on your record that will follow you wherever you go? 

We spend hours on the range and in the dojo preparing for the predator’s attack. How much time do we spend learning the difference between backing down and giving up? 

 

Defence By The Numbers Part II

Defence By The Numbers Part II

Ok, so we know what type of violent enocunters are most likely to happen around us. What about the “Black Swan” moments, or expecting the unexpected? 

Aye, there’s the rub. 

Three examples.

One: Many years ago (too many, if I’m honest…) a group of friends from my church’s college group were camping out on the Mogollon Rim, about to fall asleep, when another campsite erupted wild drunken hoots, hollers and gunfire, with what I assumed at the time were shotgun blasts into the air. 

There were twelve of us, seven college-age men and 5 girls (in a seperate tent. This was a church outing, after all…), and the best defensive weapon we had was a hatchet. If those drunks decided they wanted to “party” with the girls, there wasn’t a whole lot we could do about it. 

Two: My wife grew up on an acreage in the forests of northeastern Arizona, surround by her Dad’s extended family. One night, the black sheep of said family decided to invite Arizona’s most notorious motorcycle gang up to his property for the night. Her Dad spent the entire evening on their front porch with his shotgun in his lap, watching over his family as gang members loudly partied less than a 200 yards away from his house. The gang left in the morning and didn’t come back, but it made for a tense, sleepless night for her family. 

Three: Right after my wife and I were married, a cousin of hers took what I considered to be an unhealthy amount of interest in her whereabouts and well-being. Said cousin was 6’5″, 220lbs with a prior conviction for manslaughter for killing an undercover cop during a drug bust. He has since done the world a favour and killed himself, but it did make for a few tense months in our lives as I wasn’t sure how to handle someone like that if he came to our home with evil on his mind. 

What do all three of those examples have in common? 

1. There was a threat of imminent lethal force. 
2. The nature of the threat is outside the daily routine. 
3. Non-lethal force would not be an effective deterrent. 

We don’t carry because we expect trouble, we carry because trouble happens when we least expect it. If a shootout can start up outside of a quiet suburban shopping mall, it can start anywhere.