There is a Story afoot . . .



A story has attacked me . . . not sure where it's from, but I have been posting chapters as they come out of my fingers. Yes, I am still posting on firearms training and my new topic of basic prepping - all links are to the right of the blog, newest posts first on the lists. Feel free to ignore the story posts - they usually start with a chapter number. But, feel free to read the story as well and comment on it - I like how it's turning out so far! Links to the various chapters are at the right under . . .

The Story

Bill

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Commentary – “Stop the Violence” . . . “March for our Lives” . . . What?????


A young fellow by the name of David Hogg has grabbed center stage after the vile act of evil that left 14 students and 3 teachers dead in Florida in February of this year.  His primary target is the NRA . . . an organization who has never had an NRA member as the primary shooter in a mass shooting (other than to stop it), never had a member involved in a school shooting, whose 125,000 instructors annually train 1 MILLION Americans in the safe use of their firearms. 

Perhaps a few words from the “Student Warrior Unleashed”.  A word of caution, this video is NOT safe to play at work or in school, it is NOT “child safe”.  The language is profane in the extreme.  This . . . this is the spokesman for this new movement to Stop the Violence and March for our lives.

David Hogg . . . voice of the movement


His parents must be so proud.  His school must be so proud.  Honestly, I think the young fellow has simply lost his cookies and could use some professional help.  It might be residual PTSD, or even showmanship.  Who knows.  A certain lack of education – or understanding of his education in history shows as well.  Sorry David, you do not live in a Democracy.  Perhaps a bit more time on the books and less in front of the camera would help.

So where are these young folks headed?  Let’s talk a bit about the initial premise of the walkout – #StopTheViolence.  What, exactly, does that mean?  Should we stop killing each other as a society?  Who can argue against that?  There are probably tens of thousands of laws on the books – one going all the way back to 1,300 BC that says something like “Thou Shalt Not Kill!”  I am in full agreement, as is virtually everyone else, with the exception of that person who is intent on killing . . . and evil seldom listens to any voice but its own.

Perhaps we should attempt to put our student’s mind at ease and clarify that individuals shouldn’t kill students while in school and, perhaps we should emphasize that by making schools “Gun Free Zones”.  Of course, I’m being facetious because the majority of school zones are already “Gun Free Zones” as was the school in Florida.  The result?  The only person with a gun, on school property in this type of shooting is that person who is intent on killing . . . and evil seldom listens to any voice but its own.

Perhaps we can simply lay blame for the killings at someone’s doorstep – say the NRA?  Honestly, here I need to raise my voice in objection because, as the saying goes, “I Am The NRA”.  In fact I am a NRA Trainer for Pistols, Rifles, Shotguns, Personal Protection in the Home, Personal Protection Outside of the Home, Range Safety Officers and as a NRA Training Counselor I can also train new NRA Instructors.  I know for a fact that safe handling of a firearms is my primary concern.  The defense of the student, their family and those in their charge is my next primary mission.  To say that good training and the teaching of safe gun handling is the cause of an evil use of a firearm is vile in and of itself.

Who could have affected the outcome of the Florida School shooting?  Honestly, there were many people.  Let’s start with the Health and Human Services department that were well aware that the shooter was mentally unstable and violent.  They, in conjunction with the BCSO were involved with over 18 individual visits to the shooter’s home.  They could have intervened – and in fact had made the decision to intervene to have him committed against his will.  They did nothing.

The FBI could have done something.  On at least two separate occasions they were notified that the shooter had made direct threats against the school.  They did nothing.

Perhaps a law that allows law enforcement to take guns from mentally ill people that appear to be a danger to themselves and others?  Florida already has such a law on the books, yet the shooter was never reported by either HHS or the BCSO.  In fact, nationwide the reporting of violent felons and mentally ill patients  to the FBI NICS is dismal.  If the person is NOT IN THE SYSTEM, they cannot be identified.

How about comprehensive background checks?  Closing the “gun show loophole”?  The only problem?  You can’t buy a gun without a background check.  Go to a gunstore to buy a gun – they will run a background check.  Go to a gun show and buy a gun – they will run a background check.  Order a gun online from a dealer – they will ship it to your local gun dealer (NOT YOU) and – they will run a background check.  Are there some exceptions – yes.  Sell a gun to a friend within state lines – the individual state will regulate whether you need to do that through a gun dealer or whether you can simply complete the sale yourself.  But . . . and this is a big butt . . . for background checks to be effective, the states must turn in the data.  Those with severe mental health issues must have their data entered.  No data, no chance of stopping the shooter.  In the Florida case, if the shooter had been committed, if that information had been entered, if those charged with protecting their community had done their job – those 17 would be alive today.  Period.

How about getting violent students out of the school?  The Obama Administration let it be known that if too many students of a certain color were removed from schools, their funding could be lost.  It should come as no surprise that in the Florida school the rate of students being reported for violence and removed suddenly dropped. 

Guns are always options of last resort.  And that includes use of deadly force by police officers and School Resource Officers.  But, should that day arrive – wouldn’t it be nice if the SRO acted to engage the shooter rather than exiting the building, establishing a perimeter and then holding other responding officers outside the building for 27 minutes? 

Bottom line, all the people the students expected to protect them, failed them.  The school administration, the SRO, the BCSO, HHS and the FBI failed to act on solid information.  Students and teachers died.  And the solution is to look to these same people to protect them going forward?  Really??

There is another culprit of course.  And the final target of this new movement – GUNS.  Yes, those black, evil chunks of polymer and steel that somehow magically come alive and seek out people to kill.  If only we could eliminate guns – ASSAULT WEAPONS specifically – all would be well.  Of course, you have not been able to purchase a true “Assault Weapon” – meaning a fully automatic firearm, since 1934.  But let’s just ignore that and stick with just taking them because then we will be safe and the killing will stop.  Mother Jones recently released a comprehensive account of all mass shootings from 1982 to 2018.  There have been 98 of them.  There have been 819 deaths.  The use of either an AR (ArmaLite Rifle) or AK (Kalashnikov Rifle) occurred only 15 times.  Let me say that one more time – ARs or AKs were only used is 15 of the 98 mass shootings since 1982 or only 15% of the time.  So, the obvious solution is to ban ARs and AKs.

Let’s broaden our view and look at the FBI data for 2016.  There were 15,070 murders in the US.  Of those 374 were committed by rifles – all types included.  This amounts to 2%.  So, the obvious solution is to ban ARs and AKs.  Twice as many deaths were committed with hands and feet, should we start chopping them off?  Five times as many deaths were caused by knives, shall we ban all knives?  (Don’t laugh, this is happening in the UK).

While the anti-civil rights crowd dance on the graves of those 17 who lost their lives in the Florida school shooting, make no mistake – their “final solution” is to deny me and all law-abiding citizens of our 2nd Amendment Right to keep and bear arms.   The blood of the children and teachers simply acting as grease for their wheels. 

Perhaps a brief look at history to see how that’s worked out when severe gun control legislation was enacted (year given that the law was passed). 

Germany, 1938,  All non-citizens were prohibited from owning and possessing firearms.  Jews were not citizens.

Soviet Union, 1929.  Stalin is estimated to have killed 20 million of his own citizens

Communist China, 1935 and 1957, estimates are that Mao killed between 40 and 80 million of his own citizens.

Cambodia, 1956,  Pol Pot killed 2 million of his own citizens

This, this right here is the purpose of the 2nd Amendment.  It gives the citizens of the state the ability to defend themselves against a state out of control.  Do we have examples of our state killing its own citizens because of guns? 

Wounded Knee, December 29, 1890.  The government killed between 150 and 300 Lakota people, most were women and children when they wouldn’t turn over their guns.

Waco, Texas  February – April 1993, Branch Davidians,  After a siege the building complex was raided by the ATF because of suspect weapons stock piling.  81 people were burned to death.

As recently as 2014 there was an armed standoff between the BLM and the Bundy family in a dispute over grazing rights that had been granted for over 20 years.  The standoff eventually resulted in the killing of a rancher, Robert Finicum and a resulting $5 Million-dollar wrongful death suit.  All charges against the family were dropped this year.

So where does this leave us?  I believe it leaves us with a number of uncomfortable truths.

Violence will never “stop”.  It is a part of human nature.  Wishing it to be gone does not banish it or violence would have disappeared long ago.

Evil exists.  And I mean real, honest to God, gut wrenching evil.  Try this link and realize this is in your country, not some 3rd world backwater.

The person you see in the mirror every morning is your “first responder”.  If you are living every day knowing that all you need to do is call 911 and you are saved – please, wake up before it’s too late.  Get some first aid training, take some defensive fighting classes, become responsible for yourself rather than trusting your safety to someone else.  I noticed that many states are enacting rules saying you can not buy a gun – any gun -  until age 21.  Think of the young woman with a stalker and a piece of paper that she expects to protect her from violence.  What could possibly go wrong.

Harden schools.  The NRA released their NRA School Shield Program early in 2013 after Sandyhook.  Make sure your school follows the tenants contained in it.  Make sure they have an armed SRO on duty every day.  Allow those teachers that follow state and local laws to acquire their individual carry permit to carry on school property if they so choose.  The more trained folks in a school that are armed, the higher the possibility to stop a school shooter.

Finally, one of our founders had a simple warning for us:

Benjamin Franklin once said: "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." 

I believe it is a thought we should all take to heart.





Some reference links:

March for our lives – “Fingers” and signs


Mass Shootings 1982 – 2018  (819 killed)


Article on local students during the walkout


Kellogg-Briand Pact was an agreement to outlaw war signed on August 27, 1928














Benjamin Franklin once said: "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." 
















Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Just the Basics - Your AR “Patrol Rifle”


This is an “opinion” piece.  And, we all know what is said about opinions . . . everyone has one.  I want to offer mine on things you might want to consider for the rifle you choose to defend your home and family.  I use the phrase “Patrol Rifle” as a way of moving your mindset to a more serious place.  This isn’t a rifle you plink with.  It’s not to be taken to the range to “check zero” . . . and nothing else (though if I ask a shooter at our range what they are working on with their AR, THAT is the response I get 90% of the time).  It’s not for target shooting, precision shooting or just blasting away.  It has a very specific purpose . . . to defend the lives of the most important people in your life from those who intend to do them harm.  That is the purpose of a “Patrol Rifle”.

Last week I went to our local police department and spent half a day stripping, cleaning (if needed) and inspecting their 9 patrol rifles.  These are the weapons their officers carry in their squad cars.  I did this in my role as their armorer and to fulfill the state requirement that these firearms be inspected by an armor once a year.  It was an interesting experience.  It was easy to see which officers worked with their weapons regularly, which were diligent about maintenance and those who placed their patrol rifles at the bottom of their “to do” list.

That said, virtually all of them provided good examples of what I consider constitutes a “Patrol Rifle” and that is what I want to chat about in this post.  What is its purpose, how is it typically used and what gear would you find attached to the weapon.

The Patrol Rifle is a “close in” weapon, typically the engagement distance is not significantly farther that those encountered with your handgun.  It may be across the room distance, down the hall distance, length of the house distance . . . but I suspect not much farther than that.  The “zero” I recommend is a 50/200 yard zero.  Zero your patrol rifle at 50 yards and it will also be zeroed at 200 yards while shooting about 1 inch high at 100 yards and 2 inches low at 10 yards.  The 50/200 zero will cover virtually all the ground necessary for a typical home defense need.  I might add that this also covers the typical range for a law enforcement officer’s engagement as well.  The actual need for a civilian homeowner to engage a lethal threat out to 200 yards is, for all practical purposes, nil.  That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t spend some time at that distance . . . but you will be much better served spending your time at 50 yards or less and the majority of your time at 10 yards or less. 

The rifle should be equipped with the basics . . . 16” barrel, front and rear iron sights, a holographic optic, adjustable stock, flashlight and easily adjustable sling.  That’s it . . . the end . . . nothing more.  Here is an image of my “patrol rifle” that I carry in my Jeep. 

I started with a DPMS 556 Oracle.  I know DPMS takes its share of complaints, but this particular rifle has been through many multi-day, 1,000+ round count courses – all without a weapon related failure.  Fat fingers failure – yes.  Head up butt failure – yes.  But no weapon related failures. 

It has also been through a 2-day basic armorer course where it was completely, COMPLETELY disassembled and reassembled – followed by a 2-day range course.  Again, no problems.  Bottom line, this is my “carry gun” and I trust it to protect my family.  This was my foundation. 

Feeding the patrol rifle are Magpul P-mags.  In it’s carry case I have three loaded magazines, downloaded by 2 rounds.  I have found these magazines to be incredibly reliable though I do take the precaution of keeping my carry magazines separate from my range magazines.

For basic iron sights I like the Magpul MBUS front and rear popup sights.  I have no problems using them through the EOTech holographic sight should its batteries crap out.  I’ve been very happy with this pair of sights.  They have remained rock solid, provide a solid sight picture and can be kept “stored” in the down position and be released with a simple touch of a button.  I have zeroed this particular pair a couple years ago and it has held zero just fine.

My EOTech optic has been around for more than a few years . . . yet it remains rock solid and I’m happy with it.  As with all similar optics it allows rapid target acquisition and rapid first-round hits.  Honestly, I like this particular optic since it uses AA batteries and I always have a fresh set available.  I realize the new kids on the block claim 4000+ hours out of their batteries, and that many shooters simply dim the dot and never turn it off . . . I simply don’t take that approach.  To each their own.

A weapon mounted light on a carbine is simply a must.  It DOES NOT replace the need for a handheld flashlight in your pocket but trying to identify a threat at distance while holding your patrol rifle and a handheld flashlight is just not practical.  I like the Streamlight TR-1.  It’s reliable, my generation light has 300 lumens and it is at my fingertip if I need it.  

Finally, there is the sling . . . and yes you need one.  Should you need to transition from your patrol rifle to your handgun, you don’t want to be in a position to have to juggle both or have to drop your rifle.  The trick is to find a comfortable sling that you can easily adjust.  The Bravo Company Viking Tactics wide padded is SIMPLY THE BEST!  It’s comfortable when worn all day and very easily adjustable.  A simple tug of the strap or release cord make rapid adjustment easy.

More stuff???  Well, there’s lots and lots of additional pieces of gear you can add.  Laser sights, IR Illuminators, bipods to name just a very few . . . I would suggest you do your best to pass on the temptation.  Keep it simple, keep it clean and spend the range time you need to be able to use your Patrol Rifle to defend yourself, your family or those in your charge.

Links


DPMS ORACLE 556


Magpul Pmags


Magpul MBUS Sights


Bravo Company Viking Tactics Sling


Streamlight TR1 Weapon Mounted Light


EOTech 512 Holographic Sight













Friday, December 29, 2017

Just the Basics – Standards


Periodically the training community likes to climb down the rabbit hole of “Standards”.  This usually degenerates into just plain raw speed of shooting some of the more popular drills . . . “Bill Drill”, “Dot Torture”, the new “Super Drill”, the “El Presidente” to name just a few.  And honestly, for those preaching these drills and posting blazing speed and great accuracy . . . these are solid drills that challenge folks that send thousands of rounds down range and spend hundreds of hours per year on the range.  It’s a challenge they need and one they gladly accept.  However, I fear that the new and inexperienced shooter rolling through various and sundry YouTube videos may see these and think that that’s the “Standard” for him.  It’s not.  So, where to begin, where to begin.

Let’s take a quick look at gun ownership.  A recent Pew Research Study concluded that of surveyed adults only 30% of them own firearms.  Of those, only 70% own a handgun.  Honestly, for most of us in the defensive firearm community, that is “our” group of people, the 70% of gun owners that actually own a handgun.  That said, “our” group gets smaller still.

The number of “adults” 18 and over is approximately 250 Million.  I am going to estimate that the over 21 crowd will come in at around 225 Million.  This would imply that 67.5 Million gun owners in the US and that of those 47.25 Million are hand gun owners.  THIS is “our” primary population base, these 47.25 Million handgun owners.

In October of 2017 the Washington Post drilled down into this group.  They found that of the 47.25 (my estimate) gun owners their survey found that 9 Million of them carried a defensive handgun once a month while 3 Million carried every day. 

3 Million carried every day.  These folks, the roughly 6.3% of the handgun owners in the US, carry every day.  It is these folks that I would like to have meet a “Foundational Standard”.  As for the remaining 44.25 million handgun owners . . . that choose not to carry daily . . . honestly, that’s THEIR choice.  As defensive firearms instructors we can encourage, nudge, push them to carry, but unless they mentally come to a conclusion that “TODAY” could be “their day” . . . we will have little to no effect on these folks.  We can share stories, news articles, the “good guy with a gun” stories . . . but the final decision to actually carry is on their shoulders.  So be it!

However, what about these 3 Million people that carry a defensive firearm on a daily basis.  Let’s talk about “standards”.

I believe there are five primary areas that need to be included in evaluating a defensive shooter.  And this builds the foundation of my “standard”.  They are basic handgun nomenclature and knowledge, an understanding of supporting equipment (holsters, belts, footwear, and flashlights), a minimal understanding of what describes a “good shoot” and the foundational elements of defensive shooting and the shooter’s mindset.

There always other ways to combine these areas of concerns, for example Gunsite use what they call the “Combat Triad” consisting of Marksmanship, Gun Handling and Combat Mindset.

Regardless of how you combine things, these are items which can be quantified, evaluated and tested.  Let’s drill down a bit more.

Basic Handgun Nomenclature and Knowledge

It’s difficult to communicate effectively if we don’t speak the same “language”.  Words like Single Action Revolver, Double Action Revolver, Single Action Semi-Automatic Pistol, Double Action/Single Action Semi-Automatic Pistol, Double Action Only Semi-Automatic Pistol, magazine, cartridge, ball ammunition, defensive ammunition . . . it’s a long list and a generally well understood list in the defensive shooting community.  But, for the new or inexperienced defensive shooter it may well sound like Greek.  There is tremendous value in taking the time to, at the VERY least, make sure they understand the individual firearm they are going to use as their defensive carry handgun.

This would imply that they understand the individual components and how they work together.  Exactly what type of handgun it is and how dos it functions.  How to field strip it and clean it.  How all additional items like safeties, de-cockers and “California Ready” modifications work (ex.  You can’t fire the firearm unless a magazine is fully seated).  How to execute a reload of the firearm.  And, how to clear the typical ammunition malfunctions as well as firearm malfunctions.

In other words, your student should be able to pick up their defensive handgun and fully describe it to you, tell you how it works, show you how to field strip it, demonstrate how to load it and clear it and describe the types of malfunctions – both ammunition and firearm – they may encounter and how to clear them.

I view this as a minimum standard.

Understanding of Supporting Equipment

While the papers frequently have articles of folks who have thrown a handgun in the bottom of their purse or simple stuffed one in their pockets (without the benefit of a holster or trigger guard) that subsequently shoot someone else or shoot themselves in the butt, these antics should be HUGE RED FLAG AREAS as we are presenting information to our students.  Time spent describing and demonstrating/showing good holster choices, good belt choices, a good magazine carrier choices is time very well spent.  It is all too easy for us to focus simply on the defensive handgun and then simply take a pass on the equipment that will allow this new shooter to safely carry their defensive handgun securely and consistently.

I view this as a minimum standard.

Minimum Understanding of a “Good Shoot”

I am not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV or Netflix.  But there are foundational elements that should be discussed in general.  Those would be Ability, Opportunity, Jeopardy and Preclusion.  Why did the individual that you shot have the Ability and Opportunity to attack you in such a way that you felt you were in Immediate Jeopardy of loss of life or grave bodily injury to the Preclusion of any other choice other than the use of your defensive handgun.  If, as an instructor, these words are foreign to you . . . it’s time for some additional training.  I would suggest Massad Ayoob’s MAG-20 course.  My point here being that a new defensive shooter is exposed to a bunch of crap out there . . . from former VP Joe Biden’s thoughts about firing a shotgun in the air or through a door to scare an attacker to dragging an intruder that was shot from the lawn into their home to “make” it a “good shoot”.  Understanding these basics– AOJP - needs to be a part of the “standard” a defensive shooter is measured against.

I view this as a minimum standard.

Foundational Elements of Defensive Shooting

There is a whole host of foundational material here.  Accessing their defensive handgun, Stance, Grip, Sight Alignment, Sight Picture, Trigger Press, Reacting to a threat, Moving off the line of fire.  Here an instructor must evaluate each individual student by observation.  Each element is important.  The melding of all these elements is an evolution.  During a set of coursework these things can be introduced but for real integration into the shooter’s life, it takes time, range time, dry fire time and rounds down range.  This too is something to be stressed during training.  Their learning does not end when the coursework is over.  That is the BEGINNING, not the end.  I see far too many permit holders that, once their coursework is over and they have their permit, they seldom touch their handgun.  It’s as though the “magic” of gun ownership will protect them.   For me personally, I stress that the absolute MINIMUM round count per year should be 1,000 rounds.  And I view that as a maintenance level, not a level that will promote growth.  Add to that taking some type of coursework each and every year and new shooter can grow into an effective defensive shooter.

I view this as a minimum standard.

Shooter Mindset

Mindset is, to me, one of the most difficult things to change with a new defensive shooting student.  I view my success rate by the number of students that actually change their life style to incorporate the daily carry of their defensive handgun.  If they don’t carry – that option to defend their lives, the lives of their family or those in their charge is greatly diminished.  While many come to class after the latest news program about a mass shooting, home break-in, local murder . . . once the coursework and range time is over and they are back in their daily flow, it is all too easy to fall back into the “that can’t happen here” or “that surely won’t happen to me” mindset.  Buying a gun, buying a sturdy holster and belt, changing clothing to provide for better concealment, taking time each month to visit the range to maintain basic proficiency, finding coursework to take the next year . . . THAT becomes hard.  Leaving the gun in the safe become easy.

One of the best lectures that married Col Cooper’s color code and his ideas on mindset was played for us as part of the Gunsite carbine course I took this past summer.  Here is the link, it’s well worth the half hour to watch it.


I view this as a minimum standard.

So, where does all of this leave us?  If you are an instructor . . . or a student . . . is there a “drill” that will do a reasonable job of wringing out the skill set of a defensive shooter?  Will it evaluate their equipment, their ability to “run their gun”, their ability to move, their marksmanship?  Will it evaluate this over a range of distances that the defensive shooter would typically encounter during his use of his handgun?  Personally I believe there is one that does a very reasonable job . . . that would be the OLD FBI course of fire.  It has been adopted by the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy and it is used to evaluate the vast majority of officers in the state of Iowa.  Let’s take a look at it.

Target:          FBI “Q”

Ammunition:            50 Rounds

Qualifying Score:   80%  (2 Points Per Hit)  90% for Instructors


Stage 1

Starting Point:         25 Yard Line

Time Allotted:          45 Seconds

Start with a fully loaded weapon.  On command the shooter draws and fires 3 rounds prone barricade position, 3 rounds strong side kneeling barricade position and 3 rounds strong side standing barricade position.  Upon completion, the shooter will conduct a tactical reload and holster a fully loaded weapon. 


Stage 2

Starting Point:         25 Yard Line

Time Allotted:          2 Rounds Standing (2-Strings)

                                  3 Rounds Kneeling (1st – 15 seconds on Movement String / 2nd 8                                              Seconds on Stationary String)

On command the shooter moves to the 15 yard line, draws and fires 2 rounds standing and 3 rounds kneeling in 15 seconds.  The shooter will scan and holster in between strings.  The shooter will start from the standing position and on the second command the shooter will fire 2 rounds standing and 3 rounds kneeling in 8 seconds.  Scan and holster upon completion.


Stage 3

Starting Point:         15 Yard Line

Time Allotted:          15 seconds

On command the shooter moves to the 7 yard line and fires 12 rounds in 15 seconds, to include a mandatory combat reload.  The shooter then arranges to have 5 rounds in the weapon and all remaining rounds in the magazine in their magazine pouch.


Stage 4

Starting Point:         7 Yard Line

Time Allotted:          15 Seconds

On command, the shooter moves to the 5 yard line, draws and fires 5 rounds strong hand only, combat reload, transfers the weapon to the support hand and fires 5 rounds support hand only.  Upon completion, holster weapon with strong hand.


Stage 5

Starting Point:         Arm’s Length from Target

Time Allotted:          3 Rounds in 3 Seconds (3-Strings)

On command the shooter takes a half step rearward and fires 3 rounds strong hand only from the Close Quarter Retention Position (with support hand in a defensive position) in 3 se3conds and then scans and holsters.  On command the shooter will then reposition at arm’s length.  Repeat two more times.  Then holster an empty weapon.

So let’s see if this “drill” evaluates things I want to look at in a defensive shooter.  Reliability of their firearm – Yep, at least for 50 consecutive rounds.  Clearing malfunctions – yep, they need to be cleared as the shooter moves through the drill.  Other equipment – yep, crappy holsters and belts show up pretty quick as does poorly positioned equipment.  Foot wear can also be evaluated.  General gun handling – yep, you get a reasonably good idea of the shooters ability to draw from concealment quickly and safely as well as establishing their grip as well as shooting single handed and doing both combat reloads and a tactical reload.  Ability to move safely – yep.  Moving between the different firing lines allows the instructor to evaluate their general ability to do so safely.  Marksmanship over a range of distances – yep.  The shooter engages the threat from 25, 15, 7 yards and arm’s length.  With this course of fire and a standard FBI Q target a hit within the outline of the silhouette.  Minimum qualification is 80% and shooters are typically given 3 opportunities to qualify.  For instructors the minimum score is 90% again with 3 opportunities to qualify. 

If you are looking for a solid “drill” that evaluates a shooter over a broad portion of their overall shooting skill set, I believe this particular course of fire does a very good job.  And, if you are looking for a “standard” to judge yourself against, this is a very balanced place to start.

“Standards” . . . do they matter?  It depends.  While being able to score a 50 on the Dot Torture drill certainly does a good job of evaluating a shooters fine motor skills and their ability to focus and be diligent about doing all the shooting portions of a skill set well, it leaves large portions of a defensive skill set untested.  The same argument could be made for many of the other drill favorites. 

But, if you are truly interested in testing an entire skill set as well as equipment, take a look at this particular drill.  I think it does a solid job.




Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Review - AAR Defensive Firearms Coach Certification Course


UPATE 8/20/2017:

"I am writing to confirm your new certification as a Defensive Firearms Coach."  

-------------------------------------------

We’ve had this discussion multiple times.  In fact, it takes one form or another every time I take coursework of some type.  As instructors, it is imperative that we take coursework each and every year.  Multiple times a year if at all possible.  It is a time to learn new things and see how other instructors conduct their training.  It allows us to polish skills under the watchful eye of another training team. 

 That said, as instructors – not just shooters – instructors, it is incumbent upon us to also focus on developing our skills as an instructor by taking “Instructor Development” or “Methods of Instruction” coursework as well.

 If you are a NRA instructor this typically comes in the form as BIT – Basic Instructor Training as well as the Instructor Course for which ever of the firearms courses you wish to teach.  I’ve taken BIT as well as the Instructor Course for Basic Pistol, Basic Rifle, Basic Shotgun, PPITH, PPOTH as well as the NRA Training Counselor Development Workshop.  In my private life, I’ve been an adjunct college instructor for an intro computer science course, a corporate trainer over the past 35 years for my own software development company selling our custom software to nursing homes and hospitals and I did a 3 year stint as a personal development facilitator (don’t ask, way to complicated to explain).  I’ve had multiple instructors teach me how to teach from their individual point of view.  And I’ve spent literally thousands of hours in front of students attempting to transfer the knowledge I wanted them to know from my head and material into theirs.  I’m taking a lot of words to say that I didn’t walk into this experience blind.  I’ve taken a couple of courses from Rob as well as from a couple other instructors presenting his coursework.  Rob sets a pretty high bar . . . I wasn’t disappointed.

 As a whole, we as a community of instructors, come with a pretty good helping of ego.  Honestly, I’m no different.  I believe I’m a good instructor.  The coursework demonstrated that I have room to improve.  Where I’m going with this is that when you take coursework – be it a shooting course, tactics course or instructor development course you simply need to check your ego and what you “know” at the door.  I did my best.  Actually, I think I did a pretty good job of it.  One of the first questions we were asked on Saturday morning is “Why are you here?”  It’s a question I always ask in my classes.  My answer . . . I wanted to learn new methods of instruction.  There’s always different things you can do, say, present, demonstrate . . . and I wanted to learn a few new ones.  Our progress on our goal was checked at the end of every day including during the AAR on the last day.  That helped to make sure we were all staying focused on our primary purpose for being there.

The primary trainer was Jamie Onion.  The link provides a starting point for you to take a look at this trainer.  I must confess I’m a research hound on coursework I’m interested in taking.  I look for AARs, reviews of the instructor and I talk to folks I know and trust who have taken the coursework.  Jamie came with the highest of recommendations from these folks.  Add to that being a full time Detective with a police force near Cleveland Ohio, let’s just say I went in expecting a lot.  Again, I wasn’t disappointed.

 His training partner was Mike McElmeel of Eighteenzulu LLC.  He’s a true “been there, done that” kind of guy with a true humility that comes from knowing his stuff and a willingness to share it.  I’ve had the pleasure of taking coursework with our local PD conducted by Mike so I had I pretty good idea what to expect here as well.

 We were a course of 5 . . . me, Todd, John, Julie and Kevin.  All of us are NRA instructors and all had taken coursework from ICE.  Most, maybe all, had taken some of that coursework from Rob Pincus himself.  We had a pretty good idea where we were going.  I don’t believe any of us truly understood what the three-day journey was going to be like.  They were long-ish days.  First ran 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM.  Second – 8:30 AM to 7:30 PM.  The last was short . . . 8:30 AM to about 4 PM.  A total of 27.5 hours.  This included both classroom time and range time.  The range bolstered the concepts taught in the classroom.  Let’s say the three days were “busy”.

 This course is actually instructor development for two sets of coursework.  The first is the “Fundamentals of Home Defense Handguns Course” and the second is the “Fundamentals of Concealed Carry Course”.  Obviously there is considerable overlap when you begin to talk about handgun selection, handgun safety, shooting fundamentals and a host of other topics.  And, there are separate topics covering home defensive tactics, de-escalation techniques, equipment requirements to name but a few.

 The coursework is taught from the point of view that the student is a new and inexperienced shooter.  Everything from the type of handgun best suited for personal defense to defensive ammunition to belts, holsters, positions of carry and much much more was covered and discussed.  Just a reminder . . . when you take instructor development coursework from a company they are presenting THEIR POV.  It is your responsibility to be open, to listen, to learn what they are trying to teach you and to then . . . after you’ve gone home and worked on the range on what they taught . . . decide if you are willing to teach it.  For me, this portion was very easy . . . I believe ICE is one of the companies currently in the forefront of defensive shooting and working hard to be there.  The big thing they offer is that they can clearly articulate the “WHY” of what they do.  I may not always agree – in fact I challenged what was being taught a handful of times, but I know that I will be presented with the WHY from their POV.  Many training companies simply fall back on the “because I said so and I’m the expert here” line of reasoning.  I have little time for those folks.

 One bone I did pick on a couple of times was the “But there’s no training manual!!!!!” bone.  “Yep” Jamie said, “And I doubt there ever will be.”  But, but, but . . . I like training manuals.  It means I don’t have to take that good of notes . . . I can look at it any time . . . I can use it to review for the test . . . I can refresh before I teach a class . . . ya know????

 Here’s the good news I discovered, my notes turned out awesome.  It forced me to engage the entire day.  It forced me to ask things to be repeated or covered again if I didn’t understand, because I wasn’t going to be able to go home that night and catch up on what I didn’t hear or understand.  It forced me to be a much better student!  It was a fair trade.

 Of course, you know there’s one more kicker out there on the material, right?  The final written exam was closed book . . . with a few fill-in-the-blanks questions . . . and the remainder were short answer to short essay.  All 50 of them.  Frankly, all of us did a bit of a gut check there.  My last college level course that I took was in June of 1980 . . . and other development workshops were open books and open notes.  Crap!!!!!

 We all kept breathing . . . and then simply jumped in with both feet.  Topics came fast and furious for all three days.  While there were some power points let’s just say this was NOT a “slide-rich-environment”!  This forced us to LISTEN, ASK and WRITE . . . not simply watch a slide and copy.  Again, this worked to all of our advantage insuring we focused on what the hell was being said because there was no going back.

 How about “teach backs” . . . remember those???  These too we had in spades.  They were “graded” with phrases like “that was pretty solid” . . . to . . . “that didn’t completely suck” . . . to “Bill, ya kinda just slipped off the track there!”.  As expected we also gave each other feedback as well.  It was all direct, as clear as we could make it and always taken as “feedback”, NOT criticism (something you need to keep in mind when you take coursework).

 Depending on how old you are in my day there used to be “challenge circles” at high school dances.  The idea was that couples formed circles and then a couple would jump in an “challenge” other couples to dance better than they were.  (I DID NOT participate in these being all nerd-o-licious at that age, but it left quite an impression on me.)  Saturday night’s teach backs were exactly that.  Jamie picked a victim . . . sorry, candidate . . . to get things started presenting them with a topic to “teach back”.  At the end that candidate then chose the next . . . and so the circle went.  Pretty interesting, challenging and fun by then.

 Teach backs continued until the last day and was a cornerstone of the classroom work.

As for range work, we went through – depending on how you count things up – 8 primary shooting drills.  From a simple, by the numbers, single shot shooting drill to a multi-threat, multi-round drill.  We were all taught the fundamentals of each drill and then expected to teach it back.  Yeah . . . that was interesting.

 A side note here . . . if the request is put out on who wants to go first . . . and you wait for more than the count of 5 . . . and no one volunteers (especially early in the course) go first!  Suck it up and just do it.  A couple things will happen . . . you’ll probably screw the first one up.  As you are asked to the same one again, you’ll get better.  By the end . . . you’ll to it at least to the “Ya know, that doesn’t completely suck” level.  YOU WILL LEARN A TON DURING THE PROCESS . . . and your classmates will as well.  I did this a number of times.  Honestly, I’ve had my ass chewed by TIs, pissed off customers and . . . after 45 years of marriage . . . my wife.  In each and every case my rear has been nibbled on . . . I’ve learned.  That is NOT to say that Jamie or Mike yelled – never did they raise their voice.  But they did correct, encourage and they clearly articulated what we did wrong and what we needed to do to fix it.  The range work was all good!!

 Each course – Home Defense and Concealed Carry has a specific “end of course scenario” as a final shooting exam.  They were simple.  We all watch our fellow students perform them . . . and each of us, to a person, experienced a fair level of surprise and anxiety as the drill began.  It was a great way to end the range work!

 Jamie had a court date for a case he was working on so he needed to leave a bit early on Monday.  That meant our AAR was with lunch.  It is the time in a set of coursework that both parties are leaning.  We each got to hear Jamie’s thoughts on us and our performance.  We also got one more chance to clarify how well we had reached our goad, in my case . . . did I learn new teaching methods??  Yep, in spades.  And I got to hear feedback from him about me.  One thing I appreciated is that he initially feared I’d be “that guy” . . . and old fart that knows everything!  He was pleased that it turned out I listened and engaged rather than challenged and disputed.  I would offer those reading this that same advice.  Listen.  Engage.  And learn.

 Did I pass??  Heavy sigh, I don’t know.  It takes time to read the hand-written answers – god help them with my hand writing – and to decide if the answer is what they wanted or missed the mark.  In my heart, it felt good.  I’ll post a Pass/Fail on this post once I find out.

 One other benefit to this course . . . you can sit through it as many times as you wish.  I can see myself doing that from time to time.  Just to shake the dust off.

 Final recommendation . . . if you are looking for a set of coursework to present to your client base . . . this particular set of coursework should be on your list.

 Thanks Jamie, Mike . . . for what it’s worth you did a great job!