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…

Lollapop-pop-pop-looza

Lollapop-pop-pop-looza

Speaking of events and culture, It’s been almost 27 years since the first Lollapalooza concert in Chandler, Arizona*. I went with a bunch of my friends who were also into alternative rock, and it was life-changing.

This is before Nirvana made it big: Nirvana’s “Nevermind” wouldn’t be released in September of that year, and “grunge” was something you scraped off a dirty dishpan. Big hair metal bands ruled the rock world, and the music I listened to, The Smiths, The Pixies and New Order was sequestered to a late-night two-hour show on MTV. Alternative music was still, well, alternative, and just wasn’t being played on FM radio where everyone could hear it.

It was, however, being played on a small low-power AM station, KUKQ. KUKQ was everything to me and my friends, because prior to this, I was the weirdo for listening to cutting-edge rock rather than banging my head to Ratt or listening to old Led Zep or Pink Floyd cuts. With today’s a la carte media, where even the most obscure track is out there on YouTube somewhere, It’s hard for people of this day and age to understand what it was like to have a rallying point for people of like interests to come together and share a common experience.

Lollapalooza was all that, and it was all that on steroids. Me and literally thousands of other people who shared a common passion were all in one place, enjoying our music and all that went along with it. Lollapalooza wasn’t just a concert: There were tattoo and piercing parlors (neither of which were mainstream at the time) and side stages and a host of other events that were meant to compliment the music and reinforce the culture of alternative music.

Which brings me to guns. Pick up everything I just said, and drop on top of Gun Culture 2.0. The closest thing we have to the Lollapalooza experience is the NRA Annual Meeting, but if you listen to something other than country music, you’re kinda (T)SOL when it comes to culture at that event, and it’s the same with the USCCA’s Concealed Carry meeting as well.

It’s not just about guns, it’s about music and sport and life and… everything. Jerome Griffin mentioned to me recently that DropZone Gunner, an event that mashes up 3 Gun with obstacle racing, was designed with Lollapalooza in mind, and I think he’s on to something there. Gun ownership is being pushed to the side of American culture, and anything we can do to push it back to the middle is a very good thing indeed.

 

* 27 years is also the same amount of time from Lollapalooza to Beatlemania. Egad, I’m old.

Upcoming Training: Florida Firearms Training Hog Hunting School.

Upcoming Training: Florida Firearms Training Hog Hunting School.

As I said before, I’m going on my first-ever hunt this weekend, a two-day hog hunt with Florida Firearms Training, and I’m really looking forward to it, as it sounds like something I’ve been searching for, namely, an on-ramp into hunting for fat, middle-aged white guys.

Plus (if I’m lucky) I’ll be ridding central Florida of an invasive species and harvesting some free-range, organically-grown, antibiotic-free bacon for my family to enjoy.

Win-win-win!

Flash Site Pictures, Tuesday Edition.

Flash Site Pictures, Tuesday Edition.

Stuff I found on the web that interesting to me. Some of it may be interesting to you as well.

Maybe.

“Anytime you see a startle reflex, it’s typically because the signal going into your brain exceeded the capacity to absorb it.”
John Hearne was on Ballistic Radio, and it’s worth your time to listen to him.

Seven Things You Need To Know About Your First Time At The Range.

Civilian tourniquet use associated with six-fold reduction in mortality.

Speaking of tourniquets, I’ve started carrying an SOF-T-W tourniquet in a Blue Force Gear Ten Speed high ride rifle magazine pouch on my support side hip, and boy howdy, does it work well. It’s as easy for me to carry as a tourniquet now as it is a spare magazine.

What to look for in a good gun belt. I was really surprised how much information is out there about holsters, but how little there is about gun belts.

Conservatives (and gun owners too) made a big mistake when they abandoned the web in favor of social media. I agree, but then again, I  have a dog in this fight, namely, I run a gun blog…

Colion Noir talks with Joe Rogan about what gun ownership is really about (two hours long, but it’s worth it).

It’s a rough life being a gun writer. Really, really rough.

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.