Our ability to eat brats, go to a race, gather with friends, go to our own church, speak our mind – has come at a tremendous price. Those with most of their life in front of them took up arms to protect and defend an idea, a thought that God has given us the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. To that end, they gave their most precious gift – their life. From Crispus Attucks, Samuel Gray, James Caldwell, Samuel Maverick, and Patrick Carr who were the first to give their all of a nation in birth to 2nd Lt. Travis A. Morgado who gave his last full measure on May 23rd – it is because of their gift to us that we can enjoy these freedoms. Perhaps this photo says it all:
(Please read her story at the link tied to the photo.)
Today is a day we remember that sacrifice, that we measure ourselves as to our worthiness of that gift. Take a moment to remember them, pray for their peaceful rest and thank the next vet you see for his service.
“So, mmmmmmm . . . . . , ahhhhhhhh . . . . – would ya like to go ridin’??”
I’m looking into the eyes of the most beautiful girl in the world. It’s our first summer together – 1966, we will be juniors in high school in the fall. My first true love – and honestly, I was so busy just enjoying her presence, I didn’t really hear what she said. “What was that?”
“Would ya like to go riding?”
“Horses?” (a quick one I was!!)
“Well sure – what else would we ride?” Said in all sweetness rather that viewing me as a dumbass. “Sure, when do you want to go?”
“Pick me up first thing in the morning; we’ll go to the stables.” Really, me on a horse? And where the heck were there any stables?? “Will do, no problem, I’m looking forward to it!” Really, what the heck did I just say, I’m looking forward to climbing on some beast of death to go riding???? Bill (already starting to talk to myself, not a good sign), what the hell are you doin’???
That evening my mom asks me what I was doing the next day. “I’m going riding tomorrow morning.” A smirkey smile and an eye-roll follows . . . “Going with Susie??” “Yep!” I say, sounding full of confidence! “Ah, well have a good time honey!” – followed by another smirk and eye-roll.
I pick up Susie the next morning and we are off – out into the country around our small town. Finally we arrive at a long driveway surrounded by a wooded area and fallow fields. At the end there is a long, low building that was the stable. Susie chatted with the owner, we rented two horses – she tacked them up and we were off. I’d be more detailed here, but the adrenalin was beginning to surge and my situational awareness was diminishing quickly. Next thing I know I’m on top of a monstrous steed (well, not really – adrenalin and all was working overtime) and we are walking towards the fields. With time, it actually wasn’t too bad, I was getting comfortable and beginning to get used to this walking stuff.
“Let’s canter a bit” says the love of my life. “What the heck is a canter?” I holler towards her disappearing form. Ah, “running”, why didn’t she just say so??
“Run horse” – I say in a deeply adult voice! “Run!” Nothing . . .
“Giddy Up Horse!!” – again in a commanding voice. Nothing . . .
Suddenly I notice the horse is getting a bit agitated, turning in a circle, stomping his feet, snorting . . .
As I look down my left leg I notice a swarm of large bees (about as wide as my thumb), suspended in the air with their butts and a stinger extended, trying to make contact with my mount. I’m thinking about my next step, how to eliminate these bothersome critters when they suddenly make contact.
Giddy-the-hell-up!!!!! He does an instant 180, ears back, neck extended – and I feel his rear legs dig into the sandy soil of the field . . . . we are off!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
It was obvious that our destination was his “safe house” – his stall in the stable, and we were about to achieve warp speed in the process of getting there! Unsurprisingly – I have no real memory of the trip. Bee sting – leap forward – screeching halt inside the stall. Beginning to end, my perceived time was something under 1 second. Reality was a bit different I suppose, but holy crap was he in a hurry.
10 to 15 minutes later Susie comes trotting into the stable. “Where’d ya go?? Didn’t you like the ride?” She’s obviously worried that I had a lousy time, looking just a bit misty-eyed. I assured her all was good and related the tale of the bees, warping horse and waking up in the stall. She giggled a bit, smiled and said “Next time will be better – I promise!”
That was 45 years ago this summer. Vietnam, three college degrees between us, multiple house moves, two children, two rounds of cancer (one for her and one for me), the life and death of our very own Thumper – her riding companion of 32 years, retirement from the military, starting a business, three lovely grandkids – and the thousands of life events that happens to a couple who spend 45 years together (40 of them married to each other) as well as thousands of hours both on horseback and just sitting, observing her indulge in her passion. Throughout it all, there has been a constant passion for Susie – dressage.
Which brings us to this weekend. We are staying with her brother and sister-in-law for a week. Since my “office” is essentially on my notebook, work simply came along for the ride. For Susie, she came to see Jane and her school-master dressage horses. Jane is an international dressage judge and trainer. Susie comes here about 3 times a year for a week to continue her passion of learning dressage. Truth-be-told, she’s pretty darn good, but school-masters are hard to find and Jane has a couple that Susie simply loves. Which leads to this morning.
“Wanna go riddin’?” she says with a smile. Jane got an emergency call to fill in for a judge in Kentucky for the day – pre Olympic trials and she needed to replace a sick judge.
“Nah, not really – but I’d love to come along and keep you company.”
And so we went. I love this woman with my entire soul – and enjoy nothing more than watching her enjoy her passion! It’s about stables, arenas and Dressage!!
A post or two back we chatted about what happens when time runs out – that moment when you draw your weapon to stop the threat that is before you. Now what??? Well, the obvious answer is “SHOOT THE BASTARD! NOW!!!!”
At that instant your body undergoes a massive adrenaline dump – your eyesight drops to about 35 degrees per eye – 70 degrees total. Your fine motor skills are gone and you are left with only your gross motor skills (making constant practice manipulating your weapon a must). Your heart rate sky rockets, your breathing becomes rapid. All this occurs while an existential threat intending to send you home in a box is bearing down on you.
A number of studies have been conducted regarding the mechanics of gunfights. Perhaps one of the most unique and comprehensive is “Shooting to Live” by Fairbairn and Sykes. Their first-hand experience with approximately 600 gunfights is not only a gripping read but very informative. Discussions cover distances, types of weapons, body armor, movement – to name just a few topics. If you have not read this book – stop now (I’ll wait), go to Amazon and place it on order – you will not be sorry. In today’s vernacular, perhaps the most common title assigned to describe their shooting technique would be “Combat Effective Shooting”.
Keeping in mind most gun fights obey a rule of 3 – 3 rounds, 3 seconds, 3 meters, your ability to shoot a threat bears no resemblance to standing on a firing line, carefully taking your stance, your grip, acquiring a good sight picture and engaging the threat. A gun fight is fast, brutal and deadly. In general, the shooter to get the first hit wins. Time spent working on combat effective hits will serve you well.
When looking at an active threat, you should work on three primary skills:
MOVE – a stationary target is a dead target. I hear the words “get off the x” used frequently but basically you want to make yourself into a moving target, not a stationary one.
DRAW – work on your draw stroke daily. Dry fire, draw slowly until it’s perfect – then accelerate it until you fail, back off a bit and repeat – daily.
POINT AND SHOOT – work on the “metal on meat” sight picture, put the rear of your weapon in the center of the chest and pull the trigger as fast as you can.
The hits you achieve in this three-step process would fit into the category of “combat effective shooting”, you’re not going to have nice, tight 3-inch groups, all your rounds will not be going through the same hole – yet you have the opportunity to significantly damage your immediate threat.
So where should you “aim”? There are three primary areas and one that spans the three.
First, center chest. A round of Critical Defense ammunition from Hornady through a threat’s heart will be a bad day for any attacker. Multiple rounds, in the area of the heart and lungs, will go a long way to take your attacker’s mind off you.
Next, the pelvic area. Break the pelvis, their mobility is severely limited and it’s an area where the majority of your blood supply is generated. You can dump a lot of blood in a short time through multiple pelvic hits.
Third, their head also provides the opportunity for a quick kill, yet it is no guarantee and trying to hit a 4 inch target during an adrenaline dump can require more luck than you have at that given instant.
Finally, the ultimate “off switch”, their spine. Sever their spine above the pelvis, their legs stop – sever their spine above their heart – their primary systems stop, sever their spine at the throat – they drop like a rock.
I teach a new shooter to focus on the torso, from the neck to the crotch. I have them experience dumping multiple rounds in that region, from a number of different positions while using various point shooting tools – focus on the target, use your entire weapon to aim - not just the front sight, engage early and often. My goal is 3-5 rounds in this area in less than 3 seconds. Most threats will be down at the end of this process – not all of them, but most of them. For those still presenting a danger, repeat above as needed.
Bottom line; stop worrying about small groups on little round targets at 21 feet. Death will greet you at a much more intimate distance. Prepare for that moment by ensuring you can get solid Combat Effective Hits quickly and consistently. As I said earlier, you have all the time you need to prepare . . . now. Make use of it.
I’m around nine or ten and Uncle Ted is standing behind me, shirtless, smokin’, hands on his hips waiting for me to “pull the damn trigger” on the .22 Colt Woodsman I was shooting for the first time. We were at his cabin “up north” in Michigan and I was getting my first shooting lessons. (just goes to show, we are taught bad habits early in life) For a ten year old, the Colt Woodsman is a sizable piece of iron to be holding for the first time. I was being taught “old school” stance – bladed 45 degrees to the target (a 7-Up can), support hand in my rear pocket, arm full extended, good sight picture and finally “pull the damn trigger Bill!” I still remember how the Colt wavered and shook – I could not hold a damn sight picture to save my soul. Finally, responding to Uncle Ted’s frustrations, as well as my own, I “pulled the trigger” – and was astounded that the can shot off the stump, a clean little hole in its middle.
Well, Uncle Ted slapped me on the shoulder, laughed and gave me a “nice shootin’”. I was pretty darn proud of myself as well, happy with my performance – with my initial impression of proper stance and “trigger pull” imprinted on my ten year old mind.
Well past my formative years, my initial pistol shooting intro by “Tiny” the Taiwanese MP – nothing changed – bladed stance, support hand in rear pocket, arm extended, fairly solid sight picture (I was considerably stronger by then) and my “trigger pull”. Let’s just say, accuracy was not one of my strong points. Things began to change in the pistol shooting world – Cooper began to talk about trigger “squeeze” – others talked about trigger “press”. Stances changed with the introduction of the Weaver and Isosceles – increasing stability and accuracy. And – I began to move as well, finding my new position – my new “shooting home” so to speak. It has settled into what I call a “modified weaver” – feet shoulder width apart, strong side foot toe even with the rear of the support side foot, two-handed grip, arms extended, both eyes open, solid sight picture . . . . . and NO TRIGGER PULL . . . . but a trigger press.
What’s the best way to explain “trigger press”? Well, demonstration usually has a tendency to be more descriptive than words so let me show you how I teach trigger “press” to new shooters. I use a simple ball point pen, cradle it in my strong side hand, I use the very end 1/3 of my trigger finger to gently press the “trigger”. The video might make it a little clearer as well.
The tendency of many new shooters is to incorporate the trigger finger as one of the parts of the strong side hand that grips your weapon – IT IS NOT!! The ONLY PURPOSE of the trigger finger is to PRESS THE TRIGGER! Period. So, spend some time with this “training device” and see if it improves your accuracy.
Stand Your Ground has received a great deal of attention since the Martin/Zimmerman incident in Florida. Pay particular attention at about the 8 minute mark and see if you believe Zimmerman responded within the boundaries of “Stand Your Ground”.
He also discusses an incident regarding an Iowa citizen towards the end of the lecture. Yet, our Democrat controlled Senate refused to advance Iowa’s own SYG law.
As I have discussed in earlier posts, drawing your weapon and employing deadly force is a grave responsibility. Yet, when your very life, when the lives of family or friends or other citizens are about to be taken – a citizen who carries lawfully has the right to defend and protect themselves and others. They should not face personal and financial ruin because a violent criminal chose the wrong victim.
Take the time to watch this, it is well worth your time!
There is a single instant for an individual when time runs out . . . . that moment when the situation changes things forever. In the realm of the individual that has chosen to carry a weapon for personal protection, it happens during the draw stroke – the time it takes for the hand to grip and draw their defensive weapon. They must transition from a mom, dad, neighbor, friend – into a warrior that is entering mortal combat. Someone will live and someone will probably die once the transition is complete and combat is engaged. Until that instant . . . . you have all the time in the world.
So, what would you do – with all the time in the world?
Obvious things, of course: tell those around you that you love and care about them. Work less, enjoy life more. More work on the old bucket list – less behind the grindstone. While these may be reflected on as your light begin to dim and your life’s spirit drains, perhaps a bit more time in preparation was in order.
You have all the time – right now – to do your absolute best to prepare yourself for a deadly encounter, to give yourself the very best chance to go home on your feet rather than in a box. I thought that perhaps a “preparatory inventory” might be helpful. If I was going to evaluate all the things that would be helpful to pay attention to – what would those items be? Let’s start on the “inside” and work our way “out”.
Mental Attitude: This can have many descriptions: “Warrior Mindset”, “Combat Mindset”, “Tactical Mindset” – basically it means that you have decided you are willing to do anything it takes to insure that you, your family or your friends will survive a deadly encounter. This is the most basic requirement for survival – you have to decide that you want to. Obviously the true test comes at the moment you chose to begin your draw stroke – yet training can do a great deal to get you past that point. “Target Practice” will not get you there; making holes on the range will not get you there. It takes more – much more; we’ll address that in a bit. But, without the proper mental attitude nothing else matters from here on – if you are unwilling to defend yourself, your family or your friends – you will not survive a deadly encounter.
Clothing: This is such a simple and easily overlooked part of preparation. It’s so easy to compromise your ability to carry your EDC gear because of how you want to look. Less clothing means less gear. Flip-flops, loose sandals, spike heels – all these mean less mobility and less stability. “Sturdy shoes”, “casual” rather than “skimpy” clothing, a “practical purse” rather than a “clutch purse” all provide you a better starting point to defend yourself. While a tube top and micro shorts may be sexy – while a muscle T-Shirt and Cargo Shorts may be comfortable and attractive – they may leave you weaponless.
Pay attention to your wardrobe. Could you run flat-out for a block? Could you transition from concrete to rock to grass and not loose traction? Can you conceal your weapon, a couple spare magazines along with a knife, flashlight and cell phone? Will you meet death today? Probably not, but if you do - go dressed to put up a fight and not to go along willingly.
Your Body: Your most basic weapon. So how are you doing staying in shape? Could your run for 15 minutes to escape an attacker? What does it take to get you winded? How does your body react when stressed? How strong are you? Could you climb a tree, ladder, house or fence? Could you absorb an array of body blows? How would you defend yourself? What I’m getting at is – take care of your primary defensive weapon – your body. Learn some basic hand-to-hand, work on your strength and cardio abilities. Honestly, I’m the last one to talk here. 21 years in the military, 62 years of life, a round of cancer has definitely degraded my physical abilities. Not an excuse, simply a reality. So, I adjust my training to make the best use of the strength, endurance and mobility that I do have.
Your Weapon: Let’s focus on your handgun first. Do you carry each and every day? Are you fully locked and loaded when you leave your bedroom? Do you remain that way until you disarm to go to bed? Does it fit you? Can you conceal it easily and draw it quickly? Can you use it? (and I mean more than simply punching holes on an IDPA target at 21 feet) Can you quickly clear malfunctions? Can you use it if one arm is shot to pieces? Can you quickly field strip your weapon, clean it and reassemble it without referring to youtube or the manual? Is it loaded with the most deadly ammunition you can find? Do you carry at least two spare magazines or speed loaders? When you face a deadly encounter – are you willing to place “metal on meat” and kill whatever is in front of you?
EDC: What do you carry each and every day? Is it useful? Will it help to protect and defend you? I’ve posted on this earlier so I won’t rehash it here. Develop yours, make carrying all of the items a habit.
Situational Awareness: Have you learned and do you practice methods to become aware of your surroundings? Whether you adopt Jeff Cooper’s “Color Codes” or the NRA’s levels of awareness, are you observing your surroundings, evaluating people and environments, determining what threats you may be facing? An unaware person is a much easier to attack than an individual that is alert and observant.
Are you still learning? Have you settled into a comfortable training regimen that revolves around range visits and target practice? Are you satisfied with a range visit a couple of times a year, sending a box or two downrange, punching holes in paper? Or do you push yourself, find new instructors, different shooting techniques and do everything you can to ensure you get the first hit, the best hit and that you put your attacker down quickly. Training should push you, stress you, introduce an environment that would be similar to a real-life encounter. It should include movement and engagement while moving – if you stand still you die, as simple as that.
Do you read on the topic of self-defense, weapons technology, training techniques, shooting techniques, military encounters, LEO shoot-outs? Are you spending at least some time every day adding to your skill set that will ultimately keep you alive?
First Aide? Have you taken a first aide course? Can you do CPR, stop you or your friend from bleeding out? Have you built a “Boo-Boo” kit and a “Blow Out” kit? Do you know how to best use them both? Do you carry them at all times?
As you scan my list, have you noticed some things that prompted an “I should really work on that” response? We all have areas of weakness – that’s not unusual. And, those areas of weakness will do us no harm until that moment comes when you reach for your weapon and draw it to defend yourself.
You have all the time in the world – right now – at this moment in time - to fill in any blanks. Make use of it, embrace it, be thankful for it – and use it wisely.
Because tomorrow, or next week, or next year . . . . it may be your turn to make use of all your skills to save your life, or your children’s lives or the life of your closest friend.
Gun Blogger Borepatch has endorsed Obama. He’s afraid of Romney, feels like the Republicans aren’t listening – time to teach them a lesson. The thing his post implies is that this has not been tried before – sadly Obama makes the 3rd time folks like BorePatch embarked on a mission to teach the Republicans a lesson in my political lifetime.
My first experience was Carter. Gerald ford couldn’t drive a golf ball straight you know, he was from the Washington crowd – frankly, the Republicans in DC just weren’t listening. What better lesson to send that a “nice”, quiet spoken governor from Georgia?? Never mind those little incidents that followed later – Iran’s Islamic revolution, the Arab oil embargo, purchasing gas only on odd or even days, 17% inflation rate, a decimated military, fireside chats in cardigans as we were all asked to turn our thermostats down to a government approved 68 – we taught those damn Republicans a lesson.
My second experience was Clinton – TWICE FOR F*#@KS SAKE!!!!. Nothing to see here either, “booming economy” (thanks to Reagan), little things like the Cole, Kenya, World Trade Center I, Somalia and Blackhawk Down with a military so neutered we had to tow the landing craft off the beaches as we retreated, the crash of March 1999 as Clinton attacked the largest software company in the world in an attempt to break it up, passing on sending Osama off to his 72 virgins, and finally the moral deprivation of a President unable to stop himself from utilizing an intern’s vagina for his own personal humidor. Yep, we sure taught those Damn Republicans a lesson – by subjecting the country to two terms of Clinton.
(WRAPPING MY EXPLODING HEAD WITH AN ENTIRE ROLL OF DUCT TAPE JUST TO GET THROUGH THIS RECAP OF TEACHING THOSE DAMN REPUBLICANS A LESSON)
My current experience in this whole process – the Obama administration. Honest to god – where to start? The destruction of our reputation over seas (if you screw with us the fires of hell will rain down on you to bowing low enough to give every major world leader a quick blow job), the systematic destruction of our military capabilities and the continued reduction of forces in active war zones – endangering every soldier on the ground, the enslavement of our children as their tax burden becomes equal to their income, the utter destruction of the best healthcare system in the world that will lead to a closing of 30% plus of all hospitals and the early retirement of up to 40% of all doctors, the systematic destruction of the oil industry to be replaced by an utterly failed policy of alternative energy sources, the broad attack on America’s core job producers – small business through outrageous tax policy and a draconian IRS collection, an ongoing attack on the “rich” who are paying 70% of the tab (top 10% of wage earners) while 49.7% PAY NO F&#*!&G taxes at all . . . . . . . WE SURE SHOWED THOSE DAMN REPUBLICANS BY VOTING FOR THE ‘CLEAN, ARTICULATE BLACK MAN’ SPOUTING “HOPE AND CHANGE” OUT HIS A$$. I HAVE A GREAT F&$@ING IDEA – LET’S DO IT AGAIN!!!
For those who are all smug and self righteous in their belief that re-electing Obama will teach the Republicans a lesson – I would simply ask you to let go the hate: your hate of America, your hate of those who have succeeded, your hate of those risking all in an attempt to succeed at their personal dream, your disgust of your own children and grandchildren, your hate of your neighbor, your doctor, your banker, your car salesman, your college graduate . . . . . . . that you NOT TURN YOUR BACK ON AMERICA AS IT TEETERS ON THE EDGE OF DECADES AND DECADES AND DECADES OF DECLINE . . . . . and simply vote ABO – Anyone But Obama.
Were there a poodle with massive diarrhea on the national Presidential ballot as the Republican vs the current Marxist that occupies the Whitehouse . . . the poodle could be assured of my enthusiastic support!
So, with all due respect to Borepatch – I disagree.
Long ago, in another life, I was a NBC warfare officer. I’ve spent more time in chemical suits, working on decontamination methods and reviewing different delivery systems and how to defeat them than I care too remember.
Well, there is one system that is particularly deadly – actually it has successfully infected me in the past, and now – it has compromised my defenses yet again. In this particular instance it was a dual delivery system. One was a cute little 6 year old granddaughter by the name of Ms. A, the second a 4 year old bundle of cold virus called Ms. E. Their virus package was particularly effective and I found myself this past afternoon and evening attempting to recover in my recliner.
Beware these highly effective little critters – impossible not to love them, yet they can surly take a toll on grandpa!
Looking forward to a quick recovery, they’ll be here this weekend! :)
Historical memory is short – sometimes painfully so. It would do our culture well to remember our past just a bit better . . . .
The future Mrs. Bill and I had been truly dating for not quite a year. It was our first full summer together. My mind is flooded with memories of the crispness and earnestness and newness of that summer. I was genuinely, stupidly, deeply in love. We both worked, we talked for hours on the phone, held hands continuously, spent as much time together as we could . . . . . .
Other factors were in play as well – society felt frayed and tattered. Kennedy dead only 4 years, Vietnam ramping up, the evening news awash in body counts and images of a jungle warfare. No lottery yet, simply “the draft” with all of us healthy males having little doubt we would see this place soon enough.
The great marches of the South continued – lead by an articulate and spellbinding man by the name of Martin Luther King. In less than a year he would lay dead on the balcony of his motel. When the news wasn’t focused on our new fight against communism in Vietnam, it was filled with white on black, and black on white violence. A race, “kept in its place” in the south was determined to breakout and truly become equal under the law. A fearful south was determined to maintain the status quo. This tension was spreading nation wide. While white/black relations were much less stressed in the north – large cities were anything but quiet in the summer of 67. The frayed and tattered quilt of 67 was about to tear.
Our church had a tradition of going to a Detroit Tigers game each summer. My mom always felt bad I was fatherless. As I’ve said before, she did her best to fill this gap – hunting, some fishing, making sure Uncle Ted took me “north” each summer for real “man” time. The baseball game trip was part of that process – “takin’ in a game” with the church bus. The future Mrs. Bill was on this trip as well. The Tigers were wrapping up a 3-day series with the Yankees, it was a double header. Honestly, I remember little of the game – just the time with Susie. And, during the game, we began to notice smoke rising from different areas around the stadium. Nothing was said, nothing announced, nothing curtailed. The game ended – Tigers split that day – and we headed home – quickly.
There were lots of crowds on the street – they did not appear happy. We saw men on the rooftops of their homes with rifles and shotguns. And as we exited Detroit and the sun went down . . . . Detroit exploded! As did much of America – the “long hot summer” of 67 saw riots in Atlanta, Boston, Cincinnati, Buffalo, Tampa, Birmingham, Chicago, New York, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, New Britain, Rochester, Plainfield, Newark, and the “Twelfth Street Riot” of Detroit. Large cities were filled with disillusioned blacks that reached a point where the felt that violence was their next best solution.
And I read today’s headlines – once again filled with violence – American on American, race on race, poor on wealthy . . . . I see a much broader frayed patchwork quilt of society. People who have been promised everything quickly realizing the promises were lies. I see a society where half pay no taxes, where 10% pay 70% of the tab, where college students now see it as their right to borrow heavily and have society cover their loans, where unions – strong in the 60s, are withering and fighting to live, sacrificing the very companies that provided for them. I see police forces over taxed, stretched thin and “making do” while those with little respect for the law seemingly are gaining ground. I see folks in my classes flirting with fear – enough so that they have purchased a weapon to defend themselves, their families and their friends. And so I wonder . . . .
Is it once again the summer of ’67?? Only this time it’s not black and white . . . . it is “have” and “have not”. It is the 1% and the 99%. It is the rich and the poor. It is those responsible for their own lives vs. those who demand to be taken care of.
I pray for a peaceful passage of this summer and this election season.