Slide, Hammer, Holster.

Slide, Hammer, Holster.

One thing I like about Step By Step Gun Training’s Shoot N Scoot events is that they give the average gun owner an opportunity to safely draw a loaded gun from a holster, shoot it, then re-holster. The gun industry assumes that such things are common skills that everybody knows how to do, but the reality is quite different, both inside the industry and with regular gun owners as well. Not everybody does gun games or has access to a pistol bay or backyard range, and very few indoor ranges allow for drawing from a holster. As a result, the only opportunity a student receives to draw and shoot a loaded gun from a holster is at a training class.

This is not a good thing.

A couple of observations from TacCon this year:

  1. There was a shooter in Lee Weems’ class shooting a SIG Sauer 938 from a wildly inappropriate holster, a Nate Squared tuckable hybrid holster carried at the appendix position. We can debate the utility of hybrid holsters at a later date, but the holster this student was using was definitely NOT set up for AIWB and they were struggling. A few minutes on a range with an instructor could have solved a bunch of problems there.
  2. I shot almost all the pistol classes at TacCon with my CZ P07 in a Comp-Tac CTAC carried on my strong-side hip. One thing I learned in MAG40 was to side-step left and push my right hip out towards the holster, giving me a clear path to the holster which didn’t put any body parts in mortal danger as I was re-holstering. And, as best I could tell, I was the only one doing that. AIWB carriers at TacCon were, for the most part, leaning forward and making sure their wedding tackle wasn’t in the way of their muzzle, but I didn’t see any extra-special care with re-holstering done by strong side hip carriers. This is not good.

I can’t help but wonder if practical shooting has an influence on this somehow. Don’t get me wrong, I think competition is fantastic and every serious shooter needs to do it, but the “…and holster” command is done with an empty gun in USPSA and IDPA. This gets people used to holstering quickly and moving on to scoring, and that’s not a good habit to have if you’re doing it on a hot range. 

Bottom line is, the more venues we have to normalize the idea of carrying a gun on your hip, the faster the culture of concealed carry AND practical pistol will grow.

What Would You Say You Do Here?

What Would You Say You Do Here?

Speaking of getting serious about training, Greg Ellifritz has a great article on focusing on the process of learning versus the outcome of getting hits on paper.

It’s common that instructors will occasionally have frustrated students who “aren’t getting it.”  The students may actually even be proceeding at a normal rate, but feel bad because other students are performing better.  Most instructors find it’s hard to help a student in this situation.  The student’s frustration creates a continuing downward spiral that leads to increasingly poor performance.

Here’s what I do to break the cycle with my students.  Get them to focus on the process rather than the product.  What that means is that rather than focusing on the end results (getting hits where you want them on a target), have the student focus on a single process that will eventually lead to a quality outcome.

This works. I’ve seen it work in my shooting, where an instructor has me focus on just one part of my shooting with the goal of getting me to get better hits. Most recently, it was Ernest Langdon showing me how one simple thing (increasing the angle of my support-side wrist) can make a BIG difference in my shooting (and it did).

However, this idea of putting the process first isn’t just limited to what happens on the range, it can affect how you see yourself as an instructor.  I’m thinking of all the amateurs I know who are proud of the fact that they’re NRA instructors and teach concealed carry classes. That’s nice. What improvements do you make in your students? Can you tell me? Do you recognize improvement when you see it? What do you do to make that improvement repeatable? Instruction is about making better shooters, not handing out certificates.

The good instructors I’ve had all have one thing in common: They focus on making better shooters. The bad ones? They focus on their own achievements.  If your pitch to me is “I’m an NRA Senior Master Chief Training Counselor”  or a similar list of credentials, that’s nice and all, but what does that have to do with me learning to shoot better?

However, if your pitch revolves around helping me understand where I need to improve and how you can help me accomplish that task, now I’m interested, because I care more your accomplishments as a teacher than your credentials as an instructor.

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.

Deadly Serious.

Deadly Serious.

Tam talks about the importance of a medical/safety briefing before the start of a firearms class. To be honest, I’m to the point now that if a class doesn’t start with a medical brief, I seriously consider leaving right then and there, because it’s a good test of whether the instructor takes what’s about to happen seriously or not.  If they’re serious, they take safety seriously, and that means a safety AND medical briefing, including dumb stupid stuff that we’ve all heard before like the four rules. This is a great idea, if for no other reason that when someone pops a cap in their ass, the instructor can testify that yes, he/she DID do a safety briefing and YES, keeping finger off trigger why reholstering WAS covered, so as you can see, Your Honor, the plaintiff’s claim that he was not advised that such actions are stupid is clearly full of crap.

I digress.

The best med briefings I’ve witnessed go something like “The medkit is over there. It has these type of tourniquets, a chest seal, and other stuff. The backup med kit is over there. This dood makes the phone call, and if they can’t do it, this dood does. The address and GPS coordinates are written down over there. This dood is the primary care giver, this dood is secondary. This dood (usually somebody with a pickup) is primary transport, this dood is secondary. This dood is to go to the entrance to the range and wave in the ambulance, this dood is to go to the entrance to the bay and do the same. If you’re not one of the people I just mentioned, get out of the way and let things happen. If we need help, we’ll ask for it. Got it? Ok, let’s begin.”

Easy, simple and gives everybody a job to do.

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?

TacCon 2018 AAR

TacCon 2018 AAR

I’m still trying to sort out all that happened… did I *really* get four hours of DA/SA instruction from Ernest Langdon? Did I *really* get the skinny on tactical trauma care from Lone Star Medics? Did I *actually* get to listen to Karl Rehn hold forth on the history of handgun training? Did Lee Weems lay out some drills on staying sharp and reacting to threats while we’re less-than-attentitive? Did I, in fact, get to meet a bunch of cool people from all over the country and train with them and break bread with them?

I must have, because that’s what these pictures say I did.

A few thoughts…

Ernie Langdon‘s Double Action course was *amazing*. Not only did he correct some basic flaws in my grip and stance, he taught me more about how to pull the trigger correctly since I took a class with Rob Leatham.

One of the nice things about Chuck‘s class was that he had us shoot the Georgia Backup Weapons Atlanta PD Secondary Weapons Qualifier, giving me yet another chance to establish my credibility in the courtroom. The stuff he taught adapted the techniques that we know work with a bigger gun and plopped them down onto the pocket rockets, with great success. Really want to take more pocket-gun classes now.

Karl Rehn spoke for two hours on how handgun training has evolved in the past 100 years, and it was interesting to see how much influence Jelly Bryce had on things (and probably not for the better). In Jelly’s defense, the sights on the guns of the 20’s and 30’s were at best marginal (and at worst, non-existent) so yeah, point shooting did make some sense.

Caleb Causey‘s medical class was a hoot. He can make the gruesome topic of dealing with blowed-up people and loose body parts a lot of fun, and it made us really WANT to listen to what he had to say.

I shot a 199 out of a possible 200 on the course of fire for the shooting match, and right now, I will take that walking away. Gabe White won the match, and Chris from Lucky Gunner has some slo-mo video of the winning relay that is just INCREDIBLE to watch. Gabe’s draw and presentation were absolutely flawless, and I hope Chris publishes it someplace where it can be linked to because it shows an absolutely textbook draw from AIWB. Update: Chris’s video is here. Skip to 1:10 if you want to see how to draw from AIWB.

TacCon left me with a LOT to work on, especially grip and trigger techniques from Ernie’s class, and based on what I learned in Caleb’s class. I’m also going thru and updating my trauma kits and replacing the SWAT-T tourniquets that are in there now with SOFT-T tourniquets.

All in all, it was the most intensive training experience I’ve had in my life, and yes, I want to go back.

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 – Thursday Edition

Flash Site Pictures – Thursday Edition

A quick roundup of interesting stuff on the web, some of it written by me, some not.

Just how effective are tourniquets in a mass shooter situation?

Pistol, rifle or shotgun for home defense?

“Confidence is contagious.”

Getting serious about having fun at the range means you’ll have more fun at the range. Duh.

Massad Ayoob on using short-barreled pistols for personal defense at longer distances. Speaking as someone who has passed both Mas’s shooting test and the FBI Pistol Qualification Test (at the Instructor level, no less…) with the 3.1 inch barrel on an S&W Shield, shorter guns can be VERY effective at longer ranges…

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.