If You’re Not Growing, You’re Shrinking.

If You’re Not Growing, You’re Shrinking.

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works;

Epistle of St. James, Chapter 2, Verses 14-22, NIV

Attention, Gun Culture 2.0. If we want to survive and thrive, we need to grow, and that means taking new gun owners to the range. Nothing else is going to work. Not rallies, not donating to the NRA, none of that means ANYTHING if we are not adding people to our cause.

Gun Culture 1.0 is dying because they didn’t spend the time to create entry points beyond “Take your kids hunting,” and the concealed carry / competition community is going to die out as well if we are not constantly bringing new people out to the range.

In a few months, we’ve gone from counting votes in the Senate trying to get CCW reciprocity passed nationwide to fighting for our Second Amendment lives. We’re losing the culture war, and if we think that relying on the same pro-gun messengers and messaging of the past is suddenly somehow going to turn things around for us, we are delusional, and deserve to lose.

Go to a rally. Make yourself feel good about your Second Amendment rights. Then go out share that good news with others.

Otherwise your good feelings don’t mean a damned thing.

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says they believe in the 2nd Amendment but does not take someone to the range? Can that belief save their guns? If a brother or sister wants to defend their family, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, stay safe,” without helping them learn to shoot, what good is that? So also belief in the 2nd Amendment by itself, if it does not include others, is dead.

But someone will say, “You have the 2nd Amendment and I go shoot.” Show me your faith in the right to keep and bear arms apart from going to the range, and I will show you my faith by taking someone shooting. You believe that there is a right to self-defense; you do well. Even the Shannon Watts believes that — and shudders! Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith in the right to keep and bear arms apart by itself is useless? Didn’t Jeff Cooper start up Gunsite to train more people as well create The Modern Technique Of The Pistol? You see that faith in the 2nd Amendment was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; *


* I may be spending a few weeks in Purgatory for that last bit, but it’s ok, I like Colorado!

The Safety Fallacy

The Safety Fallacy

I’ll be honest: When John and Melody talked about how there is really no such thing as “safe” firearms training, I had some issues with what they were talking about. Not safe? What do you mean? Of course firearms training is safe! If it wasn’t safe, I wouldn’t do it!

However, as I was writing this post, I realized that the list of activities I enjoy which start with a five minute medical briefing are firearms training classes, and that’s about it. This got me thinking that yeah, maybe there is no such thing as “safe” firearms training.

And no, that doesn’t give us license to go full Pulkasis and send people downrange while we’re shooting.

An example:

In a skydive, even in a tandem jump, if I don’t do some essential things correctly like stance and exit position, I’m potentially in a world of hurt and may even die. Jumping out of a plane is inherently an unsafe action, (duh), so whether or not I get hurt while doing so up to me, my gear, my training, my instructor’s guidelines and the decisions I have made. For me, though, the risk is worth the reward (Memo to self: Go jump again, and soon.).

Shooting a gun at something is also inherently an unsafe action: A large, potentially life-threatening hole is going to appear in SOMETHING when you pull the trigger on a loaded gun. Where and when that hole appears is (literally) in your hands. Therefore, shooting a gun is not safe, it is the actions of the the shooter that determine whether it’s a positive experience or not. I can mitigate the risks, but I cannot eliminate them completely.

Is firearms training safe? No.

But it doesn’t mean it needs to be dangerous, either.

Buying Into A LIfestyle

Buying Into A LIfestyle

I drive by one of the local Harley Davidson dealerships every day on the way to work, and the big LED sign out front of their shop usually has variants of three types of messages:

  • Learn To Ride
  • Big Sale
  • Concert / Event / Etc. Coming Soon

We’ll deal with the concert/events part of this at a later date, but note that only one of those advertisements has anything to do with actually SELLING Harley Davidson motorcycles. The “Learn To Ride” special is the most interesting to me, because if you buy a motorcycle, you buy a thing. If you learn how to USE your motorcycle, you’re buying into a lifestyle.

Think that this is something that gun ranges could learn from? I do.

Also, note how they describe their training class: It’s not “Open Road Riding Level One,” it’s “Learn To Ride.” They don’t try and confuse the consumer who’s trying something new and unknown with a bunch of buzzwords and cool-sounding details, all they say is “Learn To Ride.”

People are buying handguns because they’re scared, and we augment that nervousness with class names like “Tactical Handgun Operator Level I”.

Does a single mother with an abusive boyfriend REALLY want to take that class?

What would happen if every range in the country divided up their handgun classes into simple, related course names like “Learn to Shoot,” “Learn To Shoot Better” and “Learn To Shoot Really Well”?

Keep it simple, stupid.

Update: On Facebook, my friend and fellow Zero Hero Alf makes a terrific point: The really successful companies sell more than just product. 7/11 for instance, sells us stuff, but HOW they sell it provides us with more time do other things in our lives.

What is the value add for a gun store in our lives? What do they offer us besides selling us guns?

Promote School Safety And Win A Rifle. What’s Not To Love?

Promote School Safety and Win A Rifle. What’s Not To Love?

After Parkdale, there has been a lot of proposals floated around about how to stop school shootings. Some of them good, some of them flat-out unconstitutional and wrong.

One thing that might actually work, though, is if teachers were empowered to deal with the effects of a mass shooter right away, rather than wait for the police to secure the scene and THEN wait for the EMTs to roll up.

Which is why this initiative to train the teachers of Collier County Schools in trauma care and first aid and equip them with the gear they need to accomplish this goal is so cool. For just $5, you get a raffle ticket for over $2300 in cool stuff, and your money goes to help provide gear that will save lives.

The Tipping Point

The Tipping Point

In response to the horror in Parkland, Florida is looking to allow public school teachers to carry a defensive firearm inside the classroom.

Good.

What’s not so good are the training requirements. I understand that a lot of this is political cover so that a bill of some form can be passed in the legislature, and that the trust icon of law enforcement training is a powerful talisman of faith, but 132 hours of training, just so you can carry a gun inside school grounds like you can outside of school grounds?

From SB 7026: Public Safety.

(5) TRAINING AND INSTRUCTION.—All training must be conducted by Criminal Justice Standards Training Commission (CJSTC)-certified instructors.
(a) Required instruction must include 132 total hours of comprehensive firearm safety and proficiency training in the following topics:
1. Firearms: 80-hour block of instruction. The firearms instruction must be based on the CJSTC Law Enforcement Academy training model and must be enhanced to include 10 percent to 20 percent more rounds fired by each program participant beyond the minimum average of approximately 1,000 training rounds associated with academy training. Program participants mustachieve an 85 percent pass rate on the firearms training.
2. Firearms precision pistol: 16-hour block of instruction.
3. Firearms discretionary shooting: 4-hour block of instruction using state-of-the-art simulator exercises.
4. Active shooter or assailant: 8-hour block of instruction.
5. Defensive tactics: 4-hour block of instruction.
6. Legal or high liability: 20-hour block of instruction.
(b) Program participants may complete an optional, 16-hour precision pistol course as additional training.
(c) Ongoing and annual proficiency retraining must be conducted by the sheriff, as specified in the agreement.

Also, they’re bypassing the civilian training market and making it a money-maker for the Sheriff’s department. Not the most optimal of outcomes, but if it gets rid of the silliness of “gun free zones”, I’m ok with this. Florida led the wave of “Shall Issue” CCW permits back in the early 90’s, and if this creates a demand for a dispersed response to all kinds of dispersed threats, not just active shooters, this is a good thing indeed.

Flash Site Pictures, Friday Edition

Flash Site Pictures, Friday Edition

A round up of stuff on the web, some written by me, some not.

A Shot Vs. The Shot

A Shot vs. The Shot

So I’m signed up for a two-dayhog hunting school with Florida Firearms Training. I’m shopping for waterproof/snakeproof boots (not that I’m overly worried about snakes, but those boots are taller, and I *am* worried about tramping through foot-deep mud) and a big Yeti-esque cooler in another tab as I type this, and then I’m going to look around for rain gear and the best lightweight waterproof tactical pants to wear on my hunt.

Me, the very embodiment of Gun Culture 2.0, getting into hunting, the very essence of Gun Culture 1.0. Next up is a plague of locusts and a plague of frogs.

I’m actually rather excited about this, as it’s pretty much what I’ve been looking for in a hunting on-ramp: It’s local, it’s just two days long and it should (SHOULD) teach me how to hunt hogs versus taking us out with a guide to go blast Porky’s feral cousin without learning WHY we are doing what we’re doing.

Gun-wise, I’m probably going to go with my .300BLK pistol. My suppressor should be in my hands by then, and I’m looking forward to putting that gun and can into action together. I may go with the Holosun 1x red dot, or maybe swap that out for my 1.5-4x Leupold that’s not in use right now.

All this has got me thinking.

I shot about 600 or so rounds at John and Melody’s class last year. I shot 300 or so rounds at ECQC earlier this month. When I go to a USPSA or an IDPA match, I put 100 to 150 rounds downrange.

Now here’s the kicker: Out of all those shots, which one was the MOST important shot I fired? Which one of them made the difference between the quick and the dead? The first one, the one that was shot with no warmup and no prep and no practice. That’s what I can do, on-demand.

Which is just what happens on a hunt, because the shot you’re about to take is always THE most important shot of moment, if not the whole trip.

Think that has a self-defence application?

I do.

Flash Site Pictures, Tuesday Edition.

Flash Site Pictures, Tuesday Edition.

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.

When You Find Your Student Is Your Master

When You Find Your Student Is Your Master

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.

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.