Minimalist Training.

Minimalist Training.

My current job is a casual dress environment, so for the first time since I started carrying on a regular basis, I’m NOT pocket-carrying a .380 four days out of seven, I’m carrying something more substantial pretty much all the time.

Do I feel more safe now that I have more firepower with me? No, not really. I know what each of the guns I carry on a regular basis is and is not capable of, and I adjust my worldview accordingly. We preach that it’s not the tools, it’s the training and mindset, then we tell people that if they don’t carry at least a Glock 19, they’re not taking things seriously.

But.

I think some of that reaction is actually “If you show up to my training class with anything less than a Glock 19, you’re not taking things seriously,” and there’s an element of truth to that. Taking classes with a tiny 9mm or less sucks: I accept the fact that I am not going to win the coin or find myself $5 richer. All humility aside, though, I shoot my Shield well enough to take it to a good class, and as a result, I get training that is 100% relative to what I carry.

However, for the average schmoe, unless it’s one of Claude’s or Chuck’s classes on pocket guns or something similar, showing up to train with a snubbie is an invitation to a lot of frustration.

So what needs to change? The standards for what a “responsible” gun owner should carry, or the training that teaches them to be responsible?

Taking A Shot Vs. Making A Shot.

Taking A Shot Vs. Making A Shot.

John was nice enough to link to this post last week, and re-reading it got me thinking.

Anyone with a camera can do well if the shot pops up in front of him or her. Heck, even a baboon can do it.

Literally.

The trick is making a shot when the shot isn’t there. That’s what a photographer does. It’s unbelievably boring to shoot cans of creamed corn on a white background (ask me how I know this), but you have to work and work at it until you get the results you need.

Almost anyone can use a gun well in the scenarios you see in basic pistol classes, where a big bad guy in a balaclava jumps out from behind a car and yells “GIMME ALL YOUR MONEY!”

Where training and experience show up is when the attack comes from surprise or from some who doesn’t look like a threat.

Get trained. Improve your mindset. Shoot well. Save a life. Maybe your own.

 

* The featured image in this post is “The Critic” by WeeGee the Famous. If you’re a shooter (of photos) you really need to check out his stuff.

Lessons From Maryland

Lessons From Maryland

The horrific massacre at the Capital Gazette newspaper is not following the established narrative for such events. First off, because the shooter was Hispanic and used a shotgun and Maryland has ridiculously tight gun laws, it’s going to be hard for progressives to blame “assault weapons” and the NRA for this one. Also, CNN, in a shocking display of sanity, is not publicizing the shooter’s name.

Good. These maroons do this for the publicity, and the less of that they get, the less chance that someone else will do similar.

The cops had a sixty second response time, which is blazingly fast, but five people still died. My response time to active shooter? About 1.7 seconds, from concealment (-ish) and my response time to a traumatic injury? A minute, tops. The shooter had multiple restraining orders against him, but I’ve yet to figure out how a piece of paper is a more effective defense against a maniac than 124gr hollow points. The fact that he was this crazy and still bought a shotgun is an issue we need to look at, but only if we gun owners get something in return. The days of us giving up a thing that is dear to us in return for nothing at all are over.

Finally, a Reuters editor tried to claim that the shooter was wearing a “Make America Great” shirt and was pro-Trump, and rather than other papers picking up that narrative and running with it like they did with the shooting of Gabby Giffords, that editor apologized and might be facing disciplinary measures at work.

Might a little sanity be creeping into our media? I certainly hope so. It’d be nice to have the adults back in charge once more.

You Never Were Safe To Begin With.

You Never Were Safe To Begin With.

I can sort of understand the concept of safety as a feeling. While it’s true that safety is a reality that has nothing to do with how you feel, the fact is, it’s up to us to become aware of that reality.  Either you are safe, or you are not, your emotions have nothing to do with it. Granted, there are degrees of safety. My famly is pretty secure from a home invasion or a hurricane, but if a meteor hits the Gulf of Mexico, we’ll be turned into instant flotsam and/or jetsam.

Strangely, that possibility does not keep me up at night. Go figure.

Tom Gresham posted this on Twitter awhile ago, and while the sentiment is good, the execution is often weak.

“Every possible self defense scenario” is a little… vague. I probably won’t have to defend against shuriken-throwing ninjas any time soon, but dealing with a road rage incident that spirals out of control too quickly to escalate it?

Maybe.

Staying safe is not just self defense, though. I’ve seen many, many car accidents and a fair amount of car fires, that’s why I carry a go-bag with me in my car and a fire extinguisher in my trunk. I’ve lost track of how many situations I’ve been in where a bright, powerful light was more handy than the sidearm on my hip. I lock my door right after me as I enter my house. I have a tourniquet on me when I leave my house. When I get out of my car in a parking lot, I look around before walking to my destination. My cell phone is rarely below 50% charge, and there’s usually at least a half a tank of gas in my car at all times. These are simple things that each have their own plan and are not gun-centric. What they do, though, is get everyone thinking about what to when things go bad, and that’s the pathway that leads to an armed, responsible citizenry.

A Deeper Shade Of Grey.

A Deeper Shade Of Grey.

I spotted a guy in church this week carrying a black sling bag covered in MOLLE straps, (probably something like Mapedition or similar). The guy carrying it stood out not only because he was carrying a bag, (here are other guys in the crowd doing that) but by the fact that he was 6′ 1″. 210-220 pounds, ridiculously fit and had a short, military-style haircut.

In other words, he looked like a cop or something similar. He was DEFINITELY not fitting in with the rest of the crowd.

There are people who can get away with carrying a military sling bag and not look like they were setting up to invade Fallujah: He wasn’t one of them.

Now I have no doubt that the Maxpedition bag was useful and handy and probably had enough gear in it to stop a small army in its tracks. However, if his intent was to look like just another worshipper in church, he failed. Maybe a little less Tier One and a little more Pier One might be in order when walking around in civvies.

Flash Site Pictures – Monday Edition

Flash Site Pictures – Monday Edition

Went on a family trip up to Orlando for my birthday over the weekend, so here’s some content I queued up for you all. Some of it written by me, so not.

An evidence-based approach to knife defence. I’m not the most-qualified guy to comment on this, but I found it interesting.

First Look: Savage B22 FLH. Really liked this little rifle. It’s a keeper.

A quick flow chart to help you stop bleeding.

Some really good advice on pocket pistols. When in doubt, go with a Failure To Stop Drill.

Five Skill Drills For The Indoor Range, because not everybody has access to a pistol bay.

Comparing an A Class vs C Class run on the same stage. I’m sucky and I know it.

Slick On The Draw.

Slick On The Draw.

John Corriea of Active Self Protection recently mentioned a couple of things that have been rattling around in my head for awhile*. First off is the ubiquity of reloading your gun when it comes to pistol drills and qualifications. Thanks to security camera footage and after-action reports, we know that the number of times an armed citizen has had to reload during a gunfight is pretty darn close to zero, and yet reloading on the clock is an element of oh so many drills and qualifications.

Maybe it’s time for that to change.

Secondly is the value of the sneaky draw. After watching 10,000 gunfights on video, John has seen a number of them that started when the armed civilian (who is usually in charge of if and when the violence will begin in an encounter with a bad guy) drew his gun surreptitiously from the concealment and used the advantage to surprise to come out ahead.

We spend oh so many hours on the range practicing our draw from concealment, shaving off bits of seconds so we can go from a 1.7 second draw to a 1.5 second draw.

But you know what’s faster than that? Having the gun in your hand when you need it, not in your holster. To the best of my knowledge (and correct me in the comments if I’m wrong), there is no one out there teaching how to do a sneaky draw from a holster as part of their pistol curriculum.

And maybe there should be.

 

* Heaven knows there’s a lot of room up there for them to rattle around in…

Whose Lifestyle Is It Anyways?

Whose Lifestyle Is It Anyways?

Claude’s comments on Ballistic Radio this month hit me really hard. The firearms training industry is in a Catch-22 right now: People flock to trainers who flaunt their high-level military creds because such people have trust icons galore, and at the same time, having a firearms background that is pretty much all M4, all the time is bloody useless for we armed citizens.

This is one of the areas where a background in executive protection can come in handy. While how they protect people may vary from how we armed citizens protect our loved ones, the people who stand around with radio headsets know how to remain discreet while heavily armed, and they have a long history of problem-solving with command tone, soft hands and if necessary, a pistol.

Which sounds pretty much identical to what we normies need to know. We need to think more like Frank Horrigan, and less like Gunny Highway.

Words Are Weapons

Words Are Weapons

sharpen the knives
makes you wonder how the other half dies

One of the big takeaways from ECQC for me was the utility of verbal agility. There were several evos when the defender was literally stopped in his tracks by what the attacker said, and one memorable time when a verbal confrontation wound up in a textbook Mountain Goat drill, both of them literally butting heads, jockeying for position.

This is not what I would call an optimum resolution of the situation.

So now I’m looking for classes or courses for we armed citizens in how to defuse a hostile situation with what we say, rather than what we carry on our belt. I’ve got the gun solution pretty well covered, and I’m working on the fist solution, now it’s time to work on the lips solution.

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.