General Knowledge

General knowledge

“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 

Robb’s post about what guns he wants and my post about the beginning armory got me a-thinkin’. What tasks should a garden-variety gun nut firearms enthusiast be capable of accomplishing? I’m not talking about winning Top Shot, I’m talking about being a well-rounded shooter. What should you know, what should you know how to do?

My suggestions: 

A firearms enthusiast should be able to… 

Know the basic operation and use of:
A muzzle-loading black powder rifle
A single action revolver
A double action revolver
A magazine-fed single/double action semiautomatic pistol
A magazine-fed striker-fired semiautomatic pistol
A magazine-fed semiautomatic rifle
A bolt-action rifle
A tube-fed lever-action rifle or shotgun
A tube-fed pump-action shotgun or rifle
A tube-fed semiautomatic shotgun
An over/under or side by side shotgun 

Be capable of:
– Field-stripping and cleaning any firearm they own
– Know the basic operation for any firearm they own
– Diagnose common issues with ammunition or operation that might prevent any gun they own from working properly and be able to deal with them correctly

Know how to (but not always accomplish):
– Draw a pistol smoothly and quickly from a holster (maybe from concealment, maybe not) 
– Hit center-mass of a man-sized target at least 7 yards away
– Hit a clay pigeon in-flight 
– Hit a man-sized target with a modern rifle 300 yards away 

Know (and ALWAYS accomplish successfully)
The Four Rules of Gun Safety 

What tasks or skills did I leave out? What should I remove?

Self Defense Insurance Comparison

Self Defense Insurance Comparison

Update: I have a newer, more comprehensive comparison over here. And hey, if you’re new to the site, feel free to stick around and/or give me a Like on Facebook.

There’s now three self-defense insurance plans out there for CCW carriers (and others) who want to win the court battle that comes after the gun battle. We spend hours on the range and thousands of dollars on guns, ammo, gear and training to prepare to defend our lives, but don’t spend a nickel on preparing to defend ourselves in court. Once my current bout of funemployment is over, I will be taking advantage of one of these offers, and it’s something I’d recommend for every civilian who carries a firearm.

Armed Citizen Legal Defense Fund

The purpose of the Network’s Legal Defense Fund is to provide legal defense support to Network members, when these lawfully armed citizens face prosecution or civil lawsuit after exercising their right to self defense. The Network does not offer an insurance program or a prepaid legal fee service, but rather a number of benefits are made available to members. If a member is involved in a self defense incident, a fee deposit is paid to the member’s attorney by the Network to get the legal defense immediately underway, with representation during questioning, and arranging for an independent investigation of the incident. If the incident results in felony charges the fee deposit is $10,000; if the member faces misdemeanor charges, a $5,000 fee deposit is sent to his or her attorney.

Network members, by virtue of their membership, are entitled to case review by one of the Network experts and have access to contact information for Network-affiliated attorneys and expert witnesses. For this service, there is no charge beyond the Network membership fee. Beyond that, distribution of monetary grants to help with legal fees is at the discretion of the Network’s Advisory Board, comprised of Massad Ayoob, John Farnam, Jim Fleming, Tom Givens, Dennis Tueller and Network officers, Marty Hayes and Vincent Shuck, as ex officio members.

NRA Self-Defense Insurance

Update: NRA Self-Defense Insurance is now provided through NRA Carry Guard.

Our Self-Defense Insurance protects National Rifle Association members who need extra protection not found in most homeowners’ policies.

The coverage is a rider to the Excess Personal Liability coverage, and provides civil defense and liability and criminal defense reimbursement if you are involved in an act of self-defense.

What’s Covered:

• Provides coverage up to the limit selected for criminal and civil defense costs.
• Cost of civil suit defense is provided in addition to the limit of liability for bodily injury and property damage.
• Criminal Defense Reimbursement is provided for alleged criminal actions involving self-defense when you are acquitted of such criminal charges or the charges are dropped.

US Concealed Carry Association Legal Defense Foundation

The Self-Defense SHIELD consists of an insurance policy owned by the USCCA that designates the members as beneficiaries. No individual ungerwriting is required. As a Silver PLUS, Gold PLUS or Platinum PLUS member you automatically receve these insurance benfits. The USCCA owns and pays for the policy while you get the benefits.

Criminal Defense Grant
This layer of the Self-Defense SHIELD can help you pay for your criminal defense lawyer if you’re charged with a crime.

Court-Related Expenses
Our final layer of the USCCA Self-Defense SHIELD allows active members to apply for an additional grant for any other court-related expenses.

Policy Comparison

Criminal Court Costs Civil Court Costs Expert Witneseses Addt’l Grants Cost /Year
USCCA Silver $25,000.00 $50,000.00 Y $25,000.00 $127.00
USCCA Gold $50,000.00 $100,000.00 Y $50,000.00 $197.00
USCCA Platinum $75,000.00 $300,000.00 Y $75,000.00 $297.00
NRA Self-Defense Insurance One * $50,000.00 * $100,000.00 * N N $165.00
NRA Self-Defense Insurance Two * $50,000.00 * $250,000.00 * N N $254.00
Armed Citizen Legal Defense Fund $5000/$10,000 Y ** Y Y *** $85.00

* Total coverage is split between civil and criminal cases, with a $50,000.00 sub-limit on criminal court cases

** From the comments: “In your comparison grid you incorrectly state that the Network extends no assistance forcivil court costs. That is not correct. While The Network is not an insurance scheme, and thus does not have coverage limits, our commitment to our members who have had to defend themselves against criminal attack is to assist in their legal defense — be that a criminal trial or civil litigation — to the extent that our advisory board deems appropriate.”
The post has been updated to reflect this new information

Also from the comments: “The NRA-endorsed insurance programs require that you be an NRA membership. Average price is about $25 per year. The ACLDN membership requires no other membership costs. The USCCA Self-Defense SHIELD memberships at the Plus levels also include membership in the USCCA at the listed level which costs $37, $67, or $97 for Silver, Gold, and Platinum respectively.

In addition, the spreadsheet only marks the NRA coverages as having the criminal limit being included in the civil limits. The SHIELD program does the same thing. The listed limits are per occurrence, including all coverage – civil and criminal. The criminal limits are the portion of the total which may be used for criminal defense.”

The table also misstates the USCCA coverage for expert witnesses. The summary of benefits states the coverage includes “reasonable and necessary costs and expenses incurred in connection with the investigation and/or defense of any criminal charge or criminal proceeding caused by the use of a firearm”. After checking with the insurance company, Tim Schmidt confirms that this is the correct interpretation. The USCCA Self-Defense SHIELD program does indeed include coverage for expert witness testimony, private investigators, laboratories, and any other related expenses that would be needed to prepare and present the necessary defense.”

*** Grant amounts are unspecified

All descriptions of the policies were taken verbatim from each organization’s website.


Ninth Report

Ninth Report

I did it.

No, not classify as C Class yet (that will have to wait for next month), but rather, I finally shot a perfect Dot Torture Drill.

Dot Torture Drill: 50/50


If a shot touches the line on an USPSA or IDPA target, it counts, and that’s what I’m going with here unless someone tells me differently. And look at the difference a year of semi-regular practice makes!

First take

Now that I’m shot it clean, it’s time to shoot it clean again. And then again. And then move the target out to 5 yards, lather, rinse, repeat. And the hits just keep a-comin’…

El Presidenté 

Gun: CZ 75 1st Run 2nd Run 3rd Run
Target One 2A 2C 3A C A 2C D
Target Two A 3C A 3C A 3C
Target Three 3A D 3A D 3A C

Time 8.04 7.30 10.54
A’s 6 8 5
C’s 5 3 6
D’s 1 1 1
Points 46 50 44
Score 5.72 6.85 4.17
Draw 1.81 1.72 2.01
Reload 2.43 2.15 2.89
Avg. Split 0.38 0.34 0.48

Yep, my all-time best score, fastest draw and fastest average split on the El Presidenté.

What made the difference between my quasi-sucky last outing and this outing? Two things:

  1. Practicing with a .22 every week. Well, at least until my .22 broke, that is. I knew that target transitions, weak hand only and strong hand only shooting were issues, so I practiced shooting those at Caswell’s during the week.
  2. Dry fire. I’d been neglecting dry-fire practice over the past few months, so I made it a point to get in at least 15 minutes of dry fire each night, and it made a difference.

Now, on to C Class!

Eighth Report

Eighth Report

This is what happens when you spend a lot of time on improving your two-handed grip: Your strong hand and weak hand only grip goes pear-shaped. 

Dot Torture Drill: 41 out of 50.



Sorta. The shots I took two-handed were natural, smooth and (most importantly) on-target. It’s the one-handed stuff I need to work on, that’s ok. The worst practice sessions are the ones where I don’t learn anything, and while I’ve yet to shoot this drill clean, it is helping me shoot better, which, after all, is the point of doing it.

CZ75 1 CZ75 2 CZ75 3
Target One 2A C D 3A D 4A
Target Two 2A C D 2A 2C 3A C
Target Three 3A C 3A D 4A

Time 8.94 8.41 10.54
A’s 7 8 11
C’s 3 2 1
D’s 2 2
Points 46 48 58
Score 5.15 5.71 5.5
Draw 1.98 2.1 2.28
Reload 2.79 2.68 2.79
Avg. Split 0.42 0.37 0.55

And a new high point total on the El Prez!

I don’t care if I bomb every Dot-Torture from now on as long as I keep improving on the El Prez. I use the Dot Torture drill as diagnosis, I use the El Prez as my yardstick.

What did I learn today? I need to keep working on one hand only drills, so that will be the focus of my dry-fire practice over the next few days. Oh, and shooting stuff is still fun, even for the unemployed.

More …

It’s Curtains For Ya! I Tell Ya, It’s Curtains!

It’s curtains for ya! I tell ya, it’s curtains!

Many years ago I watched a Discovery Channel special on the Diplomatic Security Service, and I was particularly fascinated by one segment where they showed what the DSS called a “Box Drill”. 

Livin' in a box The drill was simplicity itself: An agent (with a pistol loaded with simunitions) stood in a designated spot in an indoor range, his vision blocked by an open-bottomed cardboard box that hung down from a pulley in the ceiling.
Oh hai The box was quickly raised, and that was his cue to deal with the threats now in front of him. Sometimes it was a non-lethal threat of an attacker running at him, sometimes it was a shooter, sometimes it was just a bunch of angry protesters yelling and screaming who may or may not turn violent. Was it a threat to the agent’s life? Was it a threat to the VIP he is there to protect? What was the appropriate response? Agents were graded on their response: Blasting a rock-throwing protester with a pistol could flunk you out just as quickly as if you let a shooter take a shot at your principal. 

I thought this was a brilliant way to test reaction to varying threats, and surprisingly, I haven’t seen anyone replicate the drill in the firearms community. We train and we practice stress-fire, we compete and practice discerning shoot from no-shoot targets, but what we don’t train is that “Oh S***!” moment when we have make a snap judgement call as to whether there is a threat to our lives, and if so, what is the best response to that threat? 

Unfortunately, most indoor ranges won’t let you shoot simunitions or airsoft, and rigging up an overhead pulley system for outdoor use is beyond my engineering skills. There is an alternative, though, the tactical stage curtain. 

Overture, curtain, lights The setup is easy: A cheap but opaque window curtain, a sturdy frame, and a stand to hold the durn thing in place. At the signal, the RO pulls back the curtain, and on with the show!

Are you ready?


Hey, where did THEY come from?


Obviously, if this is a competition stage, the other members of the squad can’t be allowed to tape targets until after they’ve shot the stage, and ideally, they shouldn’t even be in the bay itself until it’s their time to shoot. 

And if you REALLY want to get in to the spirit of things, even talking about what’s behind Curtain Number One should be a procedural/Failure To Do Right. 

The First Rule of Tactical Stage Curtain is: You do not talk about tactical stage curtain.

Outside of competition, the sky’s the limit for this drill. Instead of curtains, a big piece of cardboard or foamcore might work or even a low-tech solution like a blindfold or a welder’s mask.

Either way, the point is to introduce a totally new scenario with no clues as to what or where (or if) a threat might materialize, and help teach shooters the best way to react RIGHT NOW to what’s in front of them.

All illustrations for this post were made with Google Sketchup and the USPSA prop pack.


Gunsite Lite

Gunsite Lite

No, this is NOT a post about what Crimson Trace is doing up in Paulden next weekend, this a post about training and branding and consumer trust. 

Gun Culture 2.0 is about self-defence and unless you’re Chuck Norris (PBUH), that means training. Situational awareness training, “tactical” training, stress-fire, less-lethal options, safe rooms, the whole nine yards. Training is what turns the lump o’ metal on your hip into a weapon that will save your life.

Because the market is large and expanding, there are a lot of people offering “tactical” training out there, some of them very competent and serious, some of them not-so-serious. The problem for consumers is, how do you separate the wheat from the chaff? With everyone and their dog talking about their tacticool skills, how do you make competent, informed decisions about self-defence training that aligns with your perceived needs and available budget? 

I was fortunate enough to have an extremely talented shooter and teacher as my CCW instructor. One of the first things he told us is that only 1 in 3 people who finish a CCW class are serious about it and will make defensive carry a part of their lifestyle. I like to think I’m that one person, although the fact that I’m STILL stuck in D Class Production casts doubt on that point… 

I digress. 

For that 1-in-3 person, what post-CCW training options are there? The NRA offers excellent one and two-day training classes in Personal Protection. I’ve taken both courses, and they do an excellent job of teaching the basics of defensive firearm tactics like safety, situational awareness and methods of concealed carry. The Personal Protection I and Personal Protection II classes are excellent value: For the cost, they’re hard to beat. 


They are beginning courses. They’re not going to teach stance (much), they’re not going to help much with flinching or mashing the trigger or any of the various ways we humans can mess up a shot. Instructor quality can vary: Generations Firearm Training has top-notch people leading their courses and I trust them implicitly, but when it comes to training, there are few recognized leaders out there for the consumer to chose from.

This is where branding comes in. We trust the NRA to provide good training because of their long history, and, for the most part they come through. I have no idea why the NRA doesn’t step up to the plate and aggressively market their NRA-branded protection courses as the logical next-step for CCW holders, but they are missing out here, and others are stepping in to the void left by the NRA’s inaction. 

This market is prime territory for Gunsite and other top-tier schools. They have the brand loyalty. They have the established trust. They have the brand recognition. And most importantly, they know how to teach people how to safely use firearms. 

The least-expensive course at Gunsite is almost a thousand dollars in tuition. Add in three days of hotel, airfare, car rental and ammo, and you’re looking at the same amount of money as a three-day trip to Disneyland. My wife’s a good shot, but I’d have a hard time justifying spending the money for our family vacation on a trip to Gunsite. 

Why not let the mountain come to Mohammed instead? Consider this: 

Gunsite On Location
Course length: 2 days (18 hours)
Prerequisites: CCW License, NRA Basic Pistol or equivalent instruction
Instructor to student ratio: Minimum 1 instructor to 6 students
Instructors: Lead Instructor is an instructor qualified to teach at Gunsite, with up to three assistants, each trained at Gunsite in some manner.
Class: Defensive Pistol 090. Basics of drawing from concealment, situational awareness, firearms safety, defensive tactics, taught using methods from America’s premier defensive firearms academy. Marketing tagline: “What your CCW class doesn’t teach.”
Cost: $500 per student. 18 Students max.
Ammo: 300 rounds factory practice ammo
Completion of this course entitles the participant to $100 off any 250 Pistol course at Gunsite.

The downside to this is that it may dilute the Gunsite brand, but that can be mitigated with video recording of the instructors on location to insure standards are met, detailed after-action reports and instant feedback from class participants via the web.

The advantages are it’s a new revenue stream for Gunsite, it’s another avenue to advertise Gunsite to Gun Culture 2.0 and it increases interest in the more advanced classes at Paulden, both for the students and the assistant instructors.

Ok, Gunsite, I’m looking for a job. There’s your business model, now hire me to run it. 



USPSA/IDPA targets and stage props are available for free download and free use in Google Sketchup

Testing 1, 2, 3

Now stage designers can see how a stage flows and looks in before one target stand gets hauled out of storage. Sketchup is easy to use and learn (heck, my nieces used it to re-design their bedroom) and has become the de-facto standard in consumer-level 3D CAD programs.

It may take too much time to create a stage in Sketchup versus Stagebuilder or Powerpoint for club matches, but this is *perfect* for Area Championships and big matches, as it allows a stage designer to pre-flight and run a virtual walk-through on a stage as it’s being planned. 


Planning For Plan B

Planning for Plan B

Pocket Protector

Michael Bane talked about training to your weakness this week on his podcast, and I realized I’ve been neglecting to train with my usual daily carry gun, a Kel-Tec P3AT. 

Oh sure, I’ll go the range with it to try a quick El Prez or the like, but I don’t train with if (or any of pistols, for that matter) in any other situation than standing up. 

But I can’t guarantee I’ll be standing upright if I need to defend my life: I may be sitting, I may be kneeling, I may be face down in the dirt, but I need to know how to get my pistol into action as quickly as possible from all of those positions, and that’s something I’ve never trained. 

For safety’s sake, though, it’s best if I do this in two distinct parts. One is practicing my draw and presentation with an unloaded gun at home. Ideally I should use a blue gun for this, but they don’t make a P3AT blue gun just yet, so instead I’ll use a homemade chamber flag and multiple, multiple chamber checks to make sure the gun’s empty and stays empty throughout my practice. I’ve not had a negligent discharge (yet) and I fully intend never to have one. 

The second part is practicing shooting from sitting, kneeling and prone positions with my P3AT and other carry guns on the range, a fairly easy task to accomplish.

All this practice and training probably won’t make me into a robot mutant cyborg, but it will make me more fast and accurate on the worst day of my life. 

And that’s a good thing.

Flight Of Fancy

Flight of fancy

USPSA v. FBI QITI wanted to see how my daily carry rig stood up to a standardized pistol drill, and I chose the Air Marshal standards course, as it seemed to be (and was) a good test of my skills and equipment.

The rig I used was my CZ P07 in a Crossbreed SuperTuck, concealed with an oversized t-shirt. My spare mag was stored in my weak-side front pocket. I don’t have any FBI QIT targets, so I used a USPSA Metric target. I scored A, B and C hits as 5 pts, D hits as 2, and misses as zero.

The drill, and my results

All strings are shot from a distance of seven yards.
Qualification: Time: Cannot exceed total time for each drill. Example: Drill #1 – 1st time 1.70 seconds, 2nd time 1.55 seconds; Total = 3.25 seconds = Go. Must achieve a “GO” on each drill. Accuracy: Target is FBI “QIT” (bottle). Total rounds fired is 30. Point value inside bottle = 5. Point value touching line or outside bottle = 2. Maximum possible score = 150. Mininum qualifying score = 135. All stages must equal “GO” to qualify.

Individual Drill Starting Position Time Allowed Actual Time Score Pass/Fail
One Round (Twice)
3.3 Seconds Total
Concealed from Holster 1.65 seconds 1.92 5 F
1.65 seconds 1.82 5 F
Double Tap (twice)
2.70 Seconds Total
Low Ready 1.35 seconds .98 10 P
1.35 seconds 1.07 10 P
Rhythm; fire 6 rounds at one target; no more than 0.6 second between each shot.
3 Seconds Total
Low Ready 3.0 seconds 2.62 30 P
One Shot, speed reload, one shot (twice).
6.5 Seconds Total
Low Ready 3.25 seconds 2.89 10 P
3.25 seconds 5.35 10 F
One Round each at two targets three yards apart (twice).
3.3 Seconds Total
Low Ready 1.65 seconds 1.35 10 P
1.65 seconds .89 7 P
180° pivot. One round each at three targets (twice). Turn left, then right.
7.0 Seconds Total
Concealed from Holster 3.5 seconds 2.84 15 P
3.5 seconds 2.75 10 P (?)
One Round, slide locks back; drop to one knee; reload; fire one round. (twice).
8.0 Seconds Total
Low Ready 4.0 seconds 5.1 10 F
4.0 seconds 4.7 10 F
Result: (1 miss on one of the pivot drill strings)       142 Fail

A few thoughts…


I love my Crossbreed Supertuck, but it sucks to draw from. I need to start thinking about a pancake or yaqui slide holster for the P07 and use the Crossbreed only as a tuckable IWB holster, or else modify the Supertuck so I can get a quicker draw.

And no, switching to a “shoot me first” vest isn’t something I’m considering, mainly because I never wore them in the past, even when I was a full-time photographer, and in the heat of a 115+ Phoenix summer, adding on additional layers of clothing doesn’t seem that wise. Besides, I’m more of The Dude than I am Walter Sobchak .

I need a better way to store spare mags than my front pocket. I blew one string because I wasted a couple of seconds playing pocket pool with my reload, and failed two others for much the same reason.

All in all, though, I like the drill as it tests both my skill set and the tools I use. When I didn’t hav to draw or reload, I easily beat the required par times. A few tweaks to my holster and accessories, and I should pass the next time I run this drill.

Seventh Report

Seventh Report

It’s been far too long in between practice sessions. I’ve been shooting matches and keeping to my schedule, just not practicing.

Dot Torture Drill: 46/50

March 2

I was doing SO good on this until I let my brain slip into neutral and my trigger jerk showed up. As to what’s going on in Dot 10 there, I have no idea… 

030211 CZ75 1 CZ75 2 CZ75 3
Target One 2A C M 2A C M 4A
Target Two 2A 2C 4C 2A 2C
Target Three 2A C D 2A C D 3A D

Time 9.43 7.86 9.07
A’s 6 4 9
C’s 4 6 2
D’s 1 1 1
M’s 1 1
Points 33 29 52
Score 3.5 3.69 5.73

One ammo-related misfire

And a new high score on the drill! Let’s compare how much I’ve come along in the past 9 months with just one practice session and one match a month (or so). 

070710 CZ75 1 CZ75 2
Target One A, C, M, M 4A
Target Two A, D, M, M 2A, 1C, 1D
Target Three 2A, 1C, 1M 2A, 2C
Time 9.1 11.43
A’s 4 8
C’s 2 3
D’s 1 1
M’s 5
Points -23 50
Score -2.53 4.37
Draw 2.33 3.08

9.1 seconds with 5 Mikes versus 9.07 with 9 Alphas, and my draw is now in the 1.8-ish range (I forget to write that stuff down this session).

How fast I’m improving could be better, but I don’t have the time and $$$ I need to do more than I already am, and besides, this is FUN. Anymore worrying about it, and it’d seem too much like work.

More …