Flash Site Pictures, Friday Edition

Flash Site Pictures, Friday Edition

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

The Generalist

The Generalist

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.

-Robert A. Heinlein


There are three things driving my interest in firearms training. The first, and most important by far, is that it’s useful knowledge for someone like me who carries a gun on a regular basis. If I ever have to defend a life, it’s probably a good thing that I know how to do as effectively as possible.

Secondly, I want to learn from the root sources, or as close to them as I can. This is a habit ingrained in me from years of Bible school. Want the best translation of the Bible? Go to the Greek, (Aramaic if we’re talking OT) and go back as far as you can. That’s why I took a Massad Ayoob class, why I went to ECQC, and it’s driving which courses I’m attending at TacCon: I want to go back and learn from the people who started things off as much as possible.

Thirdly, I don’t want to specialize (hence the Heinlein quote). I want to be able to do just about any shooting activity with some measure of skill. A long-range rifle class is in the cards for me this year, and next year, I think I’ll pick up an over/under scatter gun and get some schooling in the shotgun sports. Yes, I know, one gun won’t cover all of them out there. My plan is to concentrate on Sporting Clays, and go from there. I know nothing about the shotgun sports, and it’s high time I fill that gap.

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.

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.

Upcoming Training: Rangemaster Tactical Conference

Upcoming Training: Rangemaster Tactical Conference

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.

First Comes Motivation. Then Comes Action.

First Comes Motivation. Then Comes Action.

Claude Werner lists out some of the reasons why people don’t get firearms training.

  • Time
  • Expense
  • Accessibility
  • Scheduling
  • 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.

 

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.

Don’t Try To Understand ‘Em…

Don’t Try To Understand ‘Em…

… 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
Rawhide

A quick roundup of some articles I wrote that aren’t SHOT-related.

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.

Match Report, Louland Practical Pistol, January 11

Match Report, Louland Practical Pistol, January 11

As part of commitment to shoot more matches this year, I was able to squeeze in the Thursday night practical match at Louland Gun Club last week.

It’s a very lightweight match, usually all-steel courses of fire that have designated shooting boxes and less than 30 rounds apiece. One bay, though, is set up as a more typical USPSA stage, and that’s what we’ll look at here.

Stage Briefing
Targets A and B must be engaged from shooting area 1, else wise it’s shoot ’em as you see ’em. Target C back there is a right bastard of a shot that can only be engaged from the gap in the shooting area at the top left.

All in all, a fun little stage with a mix of hoser shots and a tight, tough shots with no-shoots.

How’d I do? Not bad.

Some things I like here:

  • I’m up and running as I do the reload. Not much hesitation at all, and I am up and on-target as quick as I can.
  • I shot the two targets at the end of the shooting area on the move, and then the last two as quickly as the ones before them. In fact, on the waveforms in the audio portion of the video, the spaces between all four shots are pretty much the same.
  • Most competitors shot the first two targets on the left side in the main shooting area from one spot, then moved up a few feet to take the partials behind the barrel. I figured out that I could split the difference and engage all four from one spot, saving me a few seconds on the stage.

Some things I don’t like here:

  • All that time shooting three shots at that first target, and I went Alpha-Mike. I figure I must have jerked the first shot (Ah, the joys of a DA/SA gun…), hit the second shot and then got a little anxious on the last one and tossed it off into the bar somewhere.
  • Everything looks good, but everything looks… slow. If I could speed everything up by a third, I’d be happy.

All in all, a good run for me. Had I not thrown that Mike, I’d have been the top non-Open shooter. As it is, I wound up third amongst iron sight shooters.