Thursday, August 30, 2012

Training – Seconds Count . . . . seconds count . . . .


One of the scenarios I use in my Defensive Pistol Course is “the Wal-Mart Parking Lot”. I don’t mean to pick on Wal-Mart – nor do I mean to imply that their security is worse than anyone else or that they are dangerous places. What I do mean to imply is that such places are rich with prey for a predator intent on an easy victim.

Such parking lots provide a broad range of opportunities to stalk a victim, to conceal their approach and to provide a moment when a predator can attack quickly and easily . . . .

Seconds count . . . . .

Tenths of Seconds count . . . .

During an attack like this, distance equal time. The more the distance between you and the predator, the greater the chance you go home that evening. The closer the distance, the closer you are to a Ziploc. Really, it’s that simple. In an earlier post I linked to, what appears to be, the source for the “21 feet – 2-seconds” rule of thumb. If the predator is within 21 feet, you have two seconds to respond to defend yourself. Can you Draw-Aim-Fire in that amount of time? What can you do, as the “prey” to either shave time from your D.A.F. response? Set’s chat about that a bit.

Obviously, you very first choice would be to not find yourself under such an attack. Beef up your “scan and assess” process, pay attention, park close to the doors, park in well light areas, go when the store is busy and during the day if possible. Listen to your gut . . . . if something feels off, IT IS!! Return to the store, walk towards other people, put your hand on your weapon . . . . MOVE, DO SOMETHING, GET OFF THE DIME, THE “X”, YOUR ASS. Choice, movement, action will force a predator to react, adjust, reacquire and decide whether to continue the stalk and attack or to take a pass for today.

All that said, and despite your best efforts – you may well find yourself in the “Red Zone with no choice but to fight. Now we are within the 2-second window. How do you gain time (now measured in tenths of seconds) to execute your D.A.F. response?

Movement: ACT FIRST!!! CHOOSE, MOVE, GET OFF THE “X”. Your best directions are at a 45 degree angle away from the predator, NOT straight back. Why? To shoot you while you are moving straight back simply meant they need to lower their weapon a tad while you retreat – no big deal.

If you back-peddle away you are moving while being completely blind (even though your kids are sure you have eyes in the back of your head). You can easily trip, loose your balance and end up on your ass – prey for the feast.

Moving at an angle forces the predator to continually change their sight picture. It allows you to use some peripheral vision to see where you are going. And it is much easier to be sure footed while moving at an angle than running backwards.


Draw: I did a whole post on “The Draw” awhile back. The biggest thing you can do to shave tenths off here is to dry fire, dry fire, dry fire . . . . Train as you would fight – if it’s winter, your practice should be in your typical winter gear. Shed the gloves, grasp and clear, draw and rotate . . . . .

And let’s just stop there a bit. . . . .

You have practiced your draw – dressed appropriately – and worked out all the kinks. Shedding gloves, solid grasp and clear, smooth draw, good holster, good holster placement (or other method of carry – purse, carry pocket in your coat). This training, this muscle memory has the opportunity to buy you a couple more tenths of seconds.

Now what . . . . is that it??

Let’s look at aiming for a bit.

Traditional Aiming – Sight Alignment, Sight Picture: Here too, I have offered my thoughts on Sight Alignment and Sight picture in a post. It’s not rocket science – and it hasn’t really changed in the two centuries that accurate firearms have been available. It has ALL been said. I am confident that you have spent hours on the range working on two items as well. We all have. They are tremendously valuable. They can save your life.

And . . . .

Within the “Red Zone” . . . .

They can cause you to lose it as well.

Some cautions: I’m going to explore “Focal Point Shooting”. “Point Shooting” is probably as old as the very first firearms. My first real exposure to modern Point Shooting was when I took the Suarez International Point Shooting Progression course this past April. It did a great deal to marry together many techniques I have been taught over the years. You can read my review of the course HERE.

There are real limits to this type of shooting - while less that optimal for those predators moving in on you when they are beyond 21 feet, within that distance – this skill set is a life saver. And that is how I teach it and how I would encourage you to practice it. My standard distance is 15 feet. It is for close quarter combat – not long distance, aimed fire.

15 feet . . . . seconds ticking away . . . . down to 1.5 seconds to respond . . . . now what???

In the late 30s there was an unlikely duo working the streets of Shanghai, China - W.E. Fairbairn and E.A. Sykes. During their time together they engaged in the neighborhood of 600 gunfights at various distances – from up-close and personal to engagements of longer distances. They trained local police forces, made recommendations of weapons as well as shooting ranges and the types of targets that should be used. As WWII grew they went their separate ways but each undertook the training of various special operations groups for the allied forces in the use of the handgun as an effective defensive and offensive weapon. Their thoughts were captured in a book they penned entitled “Shooting to Live”. It’s a short, concise and very clear text on close quarter combat with a handgun. Buy it – read it – you will find it well worth your time.

For the purposes of this post, with a predator within the 15 foot range . . . there are three methods of engagement that are well worth talking about, practicing on the range and incorporating in your toolkit of close quarter combat: “Close Hip”, “Half Hip” and “Three Quarter Hip”.

Close Hip:

While it’s not a perfect photo of the position, this is the “Close Hip” position:


The one fault with this image is that obviously the weapon is NOT parallel with the ground. That said, it is a good illustration of “Close Hip”. Your garment has been cleared, your weapon drawn, your elbow locked and driven DOWN – rotating your weapon to a position parallel to the ground. Your forearm is tucked firmly into your side. Your weapon is snugged into your body. This position offer many benefits in a CQC situation. The first is speed. With your Focal Point on the center mass of the predator, your body indexed on the predator – at the 15 foot distance you can engage your predator fully confident that you will be able to get a combat effective hit that will either stop the threat, change their mind or, at the very least, buy you enough time to press off additional rounds and their approach continues.

This is also a position that provides good retention of your weapon against a predator that may see an advantage is taking your weapon to use it against you.

“Half Hip:

If you have the luxury of time (threat still within 15 feet) you may begin extending your weapon towards the threat to increase accuracy and to move towards a two-handed shooting grip.


Notice in this position that my support arm is up in a defensive position, my weapon has been extended toward the threat, parallel to the ground. It is still in a position to press off additional rounds, I can begin to see it in my peripheral vision so indexing becomes more accurate and I can make additional combat effective hits in an attempt to terminate the attack.

“Three Quarter Hip”:

Fairbairen-Sykes determined that the Three Quarter Hip was the most common position of engagement for the majority of their gunfights.


Again, my support arm is up in a defensive position, though my weapon is not nearly fully extended, it is quite easy to use the top of the slide to index on the threat making combat effective hits a much easier task. A caution though – as you move from Close Hip, to Half Hip to Three Quarter Hip – retention becomes more and more of an issue. PAY ATTENTION!! Your weapon should be pried from your dead, still warm hands – not handed over as a gift.

One other thing to note – as you drive towards the Focal Point you are holding on the predator’s center mass – you will notice that the barrel of your weapon rises as your arm extends. By simply staying focusing on the predator’s center mass and pressing off rounds as you extend you will stitch a line of damage up the predator’s body. Suarez (and Roger Phelps, the instructor, in particular) calls this the “Zipper” – it’s a good name.

By incorporating these three shooting positions into your tool kit you provide yourself the ability to get the first hit in this age old dual between predator and prey. With a day’s instruction on the range, virtually all the folks were able to make solid, combat effective hits in the two second range. They trimmed many tenths of seconds off their engagement time when they set aside the standard two-handed, sight alignment, sight picture shot and worked on the Fairbairn-Sykes positions.

I would encourage you to work with this method, try it out, consider the Suarez Point Shooting Progression course to refine it – Roger Phelps does a great job!

Seconds Count . . . . .

Tenths of Seconds Count . . . .

It’s your job to be ready . . . .

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A warm welcome to Tammy–“Mom with a Gun”


A warm welcome to Tammy – host of “Mom with a Gun”.  She’s a mom, paralegal, writer, novelist and mediator.  Sounds like she covers plenty of ground.  Take some time to visit her site – you won’t be disappointed!


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A Welcome to Lynn


A welcome to a new follower – Lynn, who “ladies” the blog:

Female and Armed

She’s retired military, a NRA Instructor and offers great advice to new shooters with a woman’s POV.

Welcome, and thanks for stopping by!


Training – Lessons Learned


Training environments are interesting places. They help a shooter evaluate the differences between the “mental image” of how things are going to work and the real world . . . . what truly happens when a threat appears in the “Red Zone” and your life hangs in the balance.

The “mental image” has you executing the perfect draw – clothing is easily moved, weapon grasped, a clean exit from the holster, quick rotation – extension – sight picture – BANG, BANG, BANG . . . . . threat down – you, your family, your friends are safe.

This personal protection stuff is just too easy. Especially when viewed from your favorite recliner, reading “Guns and Ammo” while watching a few YouTube videos on your tablet. Yep – too damn easy . . . . .

Where things start to go sideways with this little “mental image” melodrama is when flesh grabs grip, muscle draws weapon, eyes see a sight picture and mind presses trigger.

There are lessons to be learned . . . .

I begin all my range work with dry fire. Each and every drill a shooter will perform on the range, we work through during our dry fire exercises. I do this for a number of reasons. The vast majority of my students are new shooters. That didn’t really hold true for this last round of classes since our Defensive Pistol courses are meant for a more experienced shooter – still most have never taken a course with hundreds of draws and hundreds of rounds being expended over the course and none had ever taken a course where the range was “hot” for the duration of the range work. In that respect they are inexperienced and dry fire does a lot to settle nerves and provide confidence that when they step to the firing line, they can perform and learn.

This is also a great time for a total breakdown of how things work – because you can fix them before you begin live fire. And, we did have a few things go more than a little sideways . . . . What a “shock”! J

First day, first dry fire drill was simply to work on stance and “the draw”. On the command “FIGHT” one of the shooters draws their weapon, extends, acquires a sight picture and notices . . . . the holster for the smallish .380 they are carrying is still attached to her weapon. There is no access to the trigger; no way to make it go BANG and that in the real world real physical harm would come surely and quickly even though she was carrying her weapon. The holster was a kydex sleeve that came with her weapon and had a simple hooked bracket that clipped to their belt – though obviously not too well. Holsters were changed, an IWB with a more proactive clip replaced the OWB kydex and all was well with the world for the rest of the course work.

A second shooter began with an IWB holster centered in their back with a full sized Glock. Honestly, the concealment worked fine for him – not sure I have EVER been as skinny as he is (insert heavy sigh here). And, while the drills in polo shirt only worked just fine, when he added a jacket everything became much more difficult. Just the mechanics of clearing the weapon of shirt and jacket – holding the garments up – and then drawing and engaging became much more time consuming that he expected.

When this same shooter went to live fire, it became slow enough and frustrating enough and difficult enough that he went to a strong-side, OWB holster for the rest of the course with the thought that he would need to re-think his carry holster.

He also carries a .38 Cal hammerless J-Frame revolver in a pocket holster from time to time. He did a number of drills with this combination only to discover that while his revolver conceals nicely – his ability to draw and engage quickly suffered. And reloads (without speed loaders) could take enough time to easily prove fatal if his first engagement with a threat was unsuccessful.

There were nice surprises as well. One shooter noted at the end of the class that the target shared by him and another shooter had well over 90 of their hits within the silhouette and between the neck and pelvic region. “I didn’t aim once today!” he said – the surprise clearly evident in his voice.

Another shooter was pretty much “all business”. His head was in the game the whole two days, his draw and engagement was reasonably good to begin with yet clearly “smoothed out” over the two days and by the last day – as he moved-drew-engaged his threat with at least three rounds easily under three seconds – he had “that” smile that every instructor wants to see. Very cool!

And for me, it was fun to have my son as one of the students. He’s been shooting competitively for the past 2 years – moving from the bottom 20% to the top 10% in local IDPA matches during that time. He has all the things I remember from 40 years ago – fast muscles, good eyes, flexible body . . . . just a bit jealous here. And, he has a fun sense of humor as he reminded me he cleared the 5 plates during the past weeks steel shoot in 3.31 seconds . . . . clean. Where the heck did he learn how to rub it in like that?!?!?!? He’s grown into a “good man”, one I would trust my life to in a gun fight and one that can still walk up, give me a hug and say “how’s it goin’ pops??”

It was a good two days for everyone . . . .

I’m taking a lot of words to say: “Take a course!” One that will push your limits, challenge your abilities, expose your weaknesses . . . .

There are lessons to be learned . . . .

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Training–Defensive Pistol I & II


Congrats to June, Randy, Bob, Mike and Rick for completing our first Defensive Pistol II course.  I conducted both DP I and DP II back to back with DP I on Saturday and DP II today.  It was a great two days.  DP I is really a basic Concealed Carry course.  It covers everything from mindset to a draw from a holster with speed and tactical reloads.  All our range drills are first conducted with dry-fire exercises to make sure everyone is familiar with the drills, what is expected of them and to work out and fine tune their grip, draw and reloads.

The afternoon is range work going through all the topics and drills covered during dry fire.  It is a very, very busy day.

DP II begins with a first aid refresher, covering the ABCs, primary arteries of the body, use of pressure points and direct pressure to to slow bleeding.  We then move to the components of a my Blow Out Kit (BOK), their individual uses and then move to each person applying an Israeli combat dressing and the SOFTT-W Tourniquet.  While not a “shooting component”, I have come to believe that the possession of a BOK and knowledge of it use is simply a must.

We then moved, once again, to dry fire exercises.  DP II is about surviving the first 3 seconds of a gunfight.  Knowing that 80% of the gunfights obey the “Rule of 3” – 3-rounds, 3-meters, 3-seconds, it’s imperative that a shooter draws, moves and makes the first hit if they hope to return to their family on two feet rather than a Ziploc.

Over the course of the day, using dry fire and live fire, we taught them the value of the different ways a shooter can “aim” their weapon;  down the top of the slide, along the side of the slide, metal on meat and just plain “point focused” shooting.  By the end of the day virtually all of the shooters could get multiple combat effective hits from 15 feet, well under three seconds from the draw while moving away from the threat.  Not bad . . . . not bad it all.  It was really nice to see their genuine surprise at their new-found skill.

So congrats folks, job well done.  Here are a few photos of our days on the range.

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Thanks for coming folks, it was a great weekend.  Please, leave an After Action Report (AAR) if you have time, I appreciate it.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Just the Basics – The Care and Feeding of Knives


Everything likes to feel loved – your spouse, your kids, your dog, your cat . . . . heck, even your knifes like a little lovin’ now and then. So what kind of lovin’ do they want?? Let’s chat about that a bit.

A knife wants three basic types of care; they want to be clean, they want to be sharp and they want to be used.

A Knife Wants to be Clean

I use my knives hard. The Juice CS4 has ridden in my pocket for years, it performs some task daily and has been dropped, muddied, submerged . . . . and suffered a whole host of other abuses. Yet, upon return to “home base” it has always received a good cleaning and a drop or two of oil on all hinged parts. Since it is a stainless steel knife, cleaning can be as simple as a quick brushing with an old tooth brush to a full cycle in the dishwasher. Yet, when it’s over, it has a shiny face that just goes to show it’s ready for another day in my pocket.

My SkyLine is a different knife – carried as a secondary weapon – and has simpler cleaning needs since it’s simply a single blade covered by G10. It too has been through rain and mud. It too reacts well to a gentle brushing with an old tooth brush and has endured a touch of “CampSuds” as well from time to time. And, receives a drop of oil on its hinge to insure it continues to open quickly and easily with a solid flick of the wrist.

My old war horse – the Air Force Survival Knife – probably gets the most attention. The steel in its blade will rust if exposed to the elements long enough. Honestly, that never happens with me, but some former owners had not been kind. But, with the gentle application of steel wool and a couple good soakings of a thin oil coating, it has come back like the warrior it was meant to be. My wife, with her lifetime affair with horses and riding, has taught me the fine art of leather care. Her saddle soaps and oils made short work of restoring the leather grip and the sheath that is the warrior’s home. From rigid and filthy to supple and well oiled, the transformation has been gratifying. As we speak, it lays in its place next to my seat in the Jeep – ready for whatever mission comes its way.

Take some time, clean your knives, check for flaws and damage that needs attention, add a drop of oil here and there, clean and oil their leather sheathes. They rest easy today, but tomorrow – should the need arise for their use – a dirty, damaged and stubborn knife may be the very last thing you want to experience.

A Knife Likes to be Sharp

I can remember my very first knife – a blue cub scout knife – and the only thing that mattered to me was how “sharp” it was. But, before we discuss putting a proper edge on a knife, lets take a few minutes and talk about edges and uses and which edge goes on which knife.

First, what do I mean when I say the word “edge”? Simply, it is the edge of the blade that your sharpen.


It is the edge of the blade that is laid against the sharpening surface – in this case an oil stone. The angle between the blade and the stone determines the “sharpness” of the blade’s edge. This angle falls roughly into three categories for a knife blade: 20-degrees, 25-degrees and 30-degrees. A 20-degree edge would be considered appropriate for a knife used to slice meat – it will slide quickly and easily through the tissue. In fact, this is the edge that I keep on the Kershaw SkyLine. A 25-degree edge is a great general purpose edge for a knife that is used for a broad range of tasks. And, this is the edge I keep on the Juice CS4 blade. Finally, the 30-degree edge is great for a very durable edge on a heavy use knife. I use this edge on my Air Force Survival Knife blade.

So, not only is it important to select the right knife for job, it’s also important to have the right edge on that knife. The right edge, on the proper knife equates to a “sharp” knife.

So, how do we put those edges on the different blades? I have two methods that I use. The first is a single oil stone shown in the photo above. A few drops of oil are placed on – and spread across – the surface. I then swipe the knife blade – held at the desired angle – three times by pulling the knife towards me and then three times by pushing the blade away from me, sharpening the opposite side of the blade. I’d tell you why I do it three times on each side, but I don’t know – I do lots of things in “threes”, and this is one of them.

I continue this process until I am satisfied with the finish of the edge. Obviously it is imperative that you hold the edge angle constant or you can easily undo your work. It takes practice. Find an old butcher’s knife and put in some time to learn this process, I find it very fulfilling. The nice part of this method is that the stone can easily be stowed in a pouch or pocket on your pack so you can have a sharp knife virtually anywhere you go.

A much more sophisticated system is shown in my Lansky Sharpening Kit. It comes with a clamp/guide assembly, three different sharpening stones - each with a different grit, stone oil and a bit of steel wool to remove any rust that may be present. This kit will also provide an additional level of edge, a 17-degree edge. This would be used to sharpen razors, Xacto blades and other similar exceptionally sharp tools. This level is typically not used on a knife because the edge requires constant attention to keep it sharp.


The spine of the knife is mounted in the holding bracket/guide and the stones are stroke across the blade using the appropriate guide hole.


This provides a precise angle on the blade. Each guide hole represents a different edge angle with 30-degrees being the top hole and 17-degrees being the bottom hole. While a somewhat tedious process, the edge that this kit turns out is simply brilliant. If you have been struggling with just an oil stone or one of the store-bought quickie tools, do yourself a favor and buy one of these kits, you’ll be surprised how much it improves your knife’s edge. They have a great video on the whole sharpening process using their tool kit, it’s well worth your time to take a look at it.

A Knife Likes to be Used

Once you have a clean and well sharpened knife – use it. Put them in your pocket, clip them to a pocket edge, put them in by pack or kit. There’s something relaxing about sitting around a campfire sharpening a blade or whittling on a piece of wood. There’s additional comfort to be had by having a secondary weapon that is quickly and easily available that will never “run out”. And, when you need to build a shelter, gather kindling or clear a path – an old war horse is a welcome sight.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Just the Basics – My Knives


The quest for defensive weapons has been ongoing since the very earliest tool makers developed fire-hardened sticks. Through wood, stone, flint, iron, bronze to today’s composite steel, the quest for the perfect knife has not slowed in the least! And for a knife geek, the wide array of forms, blade composites and grips probably looks a bit like heaven! Honestly, I do not fit into this category – I am, by no means, a knife geek. Yet, I do carry three basic knives that have proved their worth many times over. Two are part of my E.D.C. – the other rides in a depression to the left side of my Jeep’s drivers seat. I believe they are important to have, important to carry and each performs a specific task in my life.

The first is much more than just a knife – it’s my daily tool kit. A considerable part of my life is spent working on computer gear. My tool kit has changed substantially over the years – from the brief case and computer disks of the 80s to today – a Leatherman Juice CS4 and a memory stick. The Juice CS4 has virtually all the tools I need to either repair a computer on-site or determine that I need to remove the box and either repair it back at the office or recommend replacement of it.

But, to our topic at hand, it has a sturdy blade with a broad spine and a well-shaped blade that holds an edge through the worst abuse. It’s made of stainless steel with a blade length of 2.6 inches. Care is simple with periodic cleaning of the tool and sharpening of the blade, it has found a home in my pocket pouch for the past 5+ years.

The pouch is from a much larger Gerber multi-tool that now lives in the center counsel of my Jeep. You also notice a small Bic lighter and a striker fire tool in this photo. All of these items fine snugly in the pouch. I have a personal rule of always having three ways of starting a fire on your person each and every day. The Bic lighter and striker fire tool are two of these options (the third is a small Frenzel lens that lives in my wallet.

I find this tool an irreplaceable item that goes into my front right pocket each and every day.


My second E.D.C. knife is the Kershaw Skyline Model 1760. It rides clipped to my right rear pocket each and every day. The blade is made of Sandvik 14C28N steel with a bead-blasted finish. The blade length is 3 1/8 inches in length with an overall knife length of 7 3/8 inches when the blade is fully opened. The handle is made of G10 with an overall knife weight of 2.3 oz. Its blade can hold a brilliantly sharp edge needing sharpening infrequently throughout a year’s use. A simple, sharp flick of the wrist quickly opens the blade for immediate use.

The Skyline fulfills the role of a secondary defensive tool. However, the ease of access finds me using if for everything from cutting an apple to opening letters and shipping boxes. It’s ability to be a useful addition to my E.D.C. and to hold a fine edge has been proven over the last two years in my pocket.


Finally, everyone needs an “old war horse” in their knife collection. Mine is a surplus Air Force survival knife with a leather sheath. This is an incredibly tough knife with a broad, serrated spine, thick steel tang wrapped in leather and a large pummel that easily acts as a hammer. Honestly, when you see a knife like this, think mini-hatchet or machete. And, that’s how I use it while hiking and camping. It is a simple tool to cut small diameter dead branches or small saplings. While it rides next to my driver’s seat in my Jeep, it always finds its way into my pack or gear bag when I head off on a trail.


So there you go – nothing fancy, just good, solid tools that I use every day. Whether to take a computer apart, to act as a defensive weapon or as a tool to cut small branches for your camp fire; you need a good knife in your pocket. Find one that fits your needs, learn how to use it properly and how to care for it. It is probably one of the most useful items you can take off your dresser and slip into your pocket . . .

Just before you holster your weapon . . .

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Survival – Your Blow-Out Kit (BOK)


There are many “levels” of First Aid Kits (IMNSHO anyway) - there’s the basic level of First Aid Kit, the “BOO-BOO” kit” and the “Blow-Out” kit.

Everyone – regardless whether they are a shooter, a parent or just a nice guy/gal driving down the road – should have a well-stocked kit – “The First Aid” kit - that they carry with them every day. I put mine in my day bag. I update the supplies every year in May – just prior to our annual camping trip to a little island in Lake Michigan. We’ll talk about it someday – just what you should have in it – but not today, that’s not the purpose of this post. 

Everyone – especially shooters – should have a BOO-BOO Kit – stocked with alcohol wipes, assorted sizes of cloth band aids, antiseptic cream, medical tape – to name just a few items. We’ll talk about it someday as well – just what you should have in it – but not today, that’s not the purpose of this post.

Everyone should take some type of first aid course.  The Red Cross offer a number of courses – from basic first aid up to a multi-day wilderness first aid course.  Take one.  Shooters – there are a number of companies that offer a catastrophic first aid course tailored to the types of injuries you are likely to see in a shooting incident – take one.

But, today, I want review what I believe should be in your “Holy shit George just got shot and he’s bleeding out!!!!” kit, why it’s there, where to carry it and what your priorities should be.

A Blow-Out Kit (BOK) is designed to handle a catastrophic event – typically a gunshot to an area of the body containing large arteries or chest wounds that would allow lungs to flood with blood or that produce “sucking” wounds allowing air and blood to mix in the victims lungs and allows them to collapse.

We have all learned the ABCs of first aid – Airway, Breathing, Circulation. If the victim isn’t breathing, clear their Airway, insure that they are Breathing. Check to see if they have a pulse insuring Circulation. If B and C are absent, perform CPR until help arrives. (Yes, I know, new guidelines, yadda, yadda, yadda – I would perform CPR, NOT just compress their chest.)

While doing this, watch for symptoms of shock as well – when the body shuts down to protect its vital components.

However, with a catastrophic gunshot wound, a new priority appears – Bleeding. And, it becomes your primary concern – stop the victim’s bleeding before blood loss becomes so great the ABCs no longer play a part in the survival of the victim – they “bleed out” and die instead.

There are three primary arteries to be concerned with; Carotid, Brachial and Femoral. In general, the larger they are, the quicker the victim can bleed out. The Brachial and Femoral wounds can be mitigated through the use of direct pressure or a tourniquet. The Carotid becomes more difficult since it is the primary blood source for the victim’s brain. Should any of these be severely damaged, death can come in mere moments.


So what components should you have in your Blow-Out Kit (BOK) to help George before the EMTs arrive? I’ve just updated my kit, let me show you what’s in it and why.

Obviously, your very first response should be to call 911, give them your name, address and what the problem is. If another shooter is available, have them call while you respond to the victim.

(NOTE: All images are linked to a Amazon source)

Non-Latex Gloves

A good pair of gloves in important for a couple of reasons; it protects you from blood-borne pathogens (AIDS, Hepatitis are two that comes to mind), it protects the victim from infection from you as well, and gloves make a much better seal if needed than a bare hand. My choice comes in a nice little ten-pack from Rescue Essentials.





A tourniquet is a rapid fix to a big problem. Its purpose is to compress the artery, about 3 inches above the wound, to staunch the flow of blood. I have the SOFTT-W Tourniquet in my kit made by Tac Med Solutions. It has two advantages, it does not need to be slipped over a limb but can have one end detached while you get it in place, then it’s easily tightened. Secondly, the windless is aluminum rather than plastic. That helps avoid a broken tourniquet just when you need it most.




QuikClot Z-Fold Combat Gauze

For large wounds that refuse to stop bleeding, a QuikClot gauze can save the day. In the VAST MAJORITY of cases, direct pressure and a good combat dressing will stop the bleeding. For those cases where it does not, and the EMTs are not coming, QuikClot gauze is a tool that can save you. I recommend Z-Folded because it lessens the possibility that the whole roll will simply drop out of your hand and go rolling across the ground.

Early forms of QuikClot had issues with excessive heat generation that could actually damage tissue. The new generation of product has reduced this risk, yet most EMTs that I know are forbidden from having this type of product in their kits. Me, if I have a real problem and assistance is a long way away – I will use this, save myself or my friend, and deal with the results after help arrives.

I have QuikClot Combat Gauze LE (Z-Folded) sold by Rescue Essentials.




Medical Scissors

A good pair of Medical Scissors is a must. They are used primarily for removing or opening clothing to get to the wound as well as for trimming off gauze. They should be large enough to handle easily with a gloved hand and to cut and remove heavy material like jeans, tactical pants or shirts.  I carry Prestige Medical Fluoride Scissors made by Prestige Medical.




A Tactical Dressing


Once the bleeding is controlled, you will want to keep the wound clean and to keep a constant pressure on it. One of the best ways to do this is with a tactical dressing and one of the best on the market is the Israeli Dressing. I carry the Tactical Trauma Dressing (Israeli Bandage, 4 Inch) by OEM .




An Ace Bandage

There can be many instances when additional pressure or the ability to secure a limb in needed. One of the easiest ways to do this is to use an Ace Bandage. I got mine through Amazon directly from ACE.




A pair of Chest Seals


Your lungs are the equipment your body uses to oxygenate your blood to get oxygen to your body’s cells. In the event of a chest wound, your lung can begin to deflate, reducing your ability to breath. Prior to putting a dressing over the wound, it helps to seal the wound to prevent the escape of air and the collapse of y our lung. A simple plastic sheet can help when held in place by a dressing. However, it can move quite easily. The use of a chest seal is much more reliable. They come in a 2-pack to cover both the entry and exit wounds. I carry the HALO Chest Seal sold by Progressive Medical.




How should I carry this stuff??

I carry my components in a small pouch that’s no longer made. There are a ton of them out there and I have no real recommendation other than it should easily hold all the components in as small a package as possible.

Obviously, if you don’t carry our BOK, it’s of little use. If you have your gun on you, your kit should be reachable. This will require some playing with the packaging, but in the event you have your femoral artery shot away, the fact that your BOK is in your first aid kit in the trunk of your car will be of little comfort.

Finally, there are a number of fine companies that offer training in attending to catastrophic wound trauma. If you are willing to spend hundreds of dollars on training courses for using your weapons, spend a couple hundred bucks take a combat trauma course – it could easily save your life!

When I post about having your weapon along on a daily basis, I usually say something like . . . .


I’ll add this phrase to it . . .


Every single day . . . .

Personal–The Love of My Life


40 years ago today the woman I had dated for over 6 years became my wife.  We had finished high school together, she had waited through a year of military training and through my two years over seas (did not see each other for those two years, snail mail only), agreed to marry me the night I came home from Vietnam, and confirmed she truly wanted to be my wife through a year long engagement.  Ya can’t say she wasn’t warned!!

Friday night we went to dinner with our best friends to the restaurant where our son works.  We enjoyed our 30 years of memories with them, our son’s good cooking and each other.  What a great evening.  In an adjoining room, there were a bunch of young women having a bachelorette party – lots of laughs, balloons, racy underwear as gifts that had to be held up and displayed for all to see . . . .  I was tempted to take my wife’s hand, knock on their door and say:  “See, this is what your next 40 years will look like – you have so many wonderful things to look forward to!!  Enjoy!!!”

My wife gave me one of “those” looks, told me to keep my butt in my seat . . . .   Smile

I’ve been well trained by the woman I love so much!  And, why spoil if for the young bride?  She has so many wonderful surprises just ahead . . . .

So sweetie – Happy Anniversary!!!  I Love Ya!!

August 19th, 1972

Head Table 1

June 2012

101_0779 (Small)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Just the Basics – The Draw


There is certainly no drought of “hot topics” to pick on in the “Just the Basics”. And, “The Draw” certainly gets its fair share of attention. So let’s talk a bit about “The Draw” – beginning with the Stance.

I teach what I call a modified-Weaver stance;

  • Feet shoulder width apart.
  • Front toe of your Dominant side even with the heel of your Support side.
  • Knees slightly bent.
  • Firm, two-handed grip – arms fully extended – body slightly forward in an aggressive position

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There’s nothing tricky here, just a nice, stable platform to allow you to engage your threat accurately. This exact stance easily adapts to a rifle or shotgun as well. It allows you to find a single “home” for your stance that works well with multiple weapons platforms.

This position is also, for most defensive pistol situations, pure crap. Now, why do I say that? Honestly, if you have enough time to put these elements in place for a nice, consistent, well-rehearsed stance – you should either have already left the scene, should have long since engaged the threat – or you are already dead and simply waiting for the bag man.

I have long preached the “Rule of Threes” with gunfights:

  • Three Rounds
  • Three Seconds
  • Three Meters

Your time is just so compressed. A gunfight isn’t going to be pretty, your stance won’t be perfect – yet to save yourself, you need to be the first to get off the first of three rounds, make a couple of critical hits and be ready should follow-up shots be required.

“So, that means I should abandon any type of stance altogether – right??”

No, not at all. I teach this stance and I’ll continue to teach it. It’s a good starting point. It provides a very stable platform, can be used with other weapons and it allows the student to begin to learn the fundamentals of grip, sight alignment, sight picture and trigger press and controlling the weapon in their hand. I simply want a new shooter to be aware that this is an optimal shooting position – not a typical one in an actual fire fight.

There are just a ton of “by the numbers” draws out there in the shooting universe. From 4 steps to 7 steps or more. I have a different take on it – a task oriented approach. These “tasks” must be accomplished between the time your mind tells you to “DRAW” and the time you press off that first round. In general, you must:

  • Clear the crap away from the holster
  • Grip your weapon
  • Withdraw it from its holster
  • Point it at the threat and press the trigger

How you accomplish these things are of little importance. That you point and press quickly and accurately – well, that’s the difference between a human sized Ziploc and hugging your kids at the end of the day. For our purposes here, I am just going to go through the draw from concealment as we talk about these different tasks in more detail. If you are in a state with Open Carry, and you are – indeed – carrying openly, cover garments will have no part in the equation at all; just skip over the “clear the crap away from the holster” process.

Clear the Crap Away From the Holster.

Again - reality vs. ideal.

Most shooting schools and competitive pistol sports grant you the luxury of “sweeping your garment back” or “sliding your palm and fingers along your body to push your garment back” or some such thing. Fine for most cases, especially in competition or on the range – yet what if it’s January, -20F, you have a leather coat over a sweater over your holster and gun. Then what? It just got more complicated than “sweeping the garment” away.

My preferred alternative is “Grasp and Clear”. You grasp the single garment or pile of garments under their hem(s) with the fingers on your dominant hand and yank them up, well clear of your weapon. Leave your thumb out and above the outer garment.


Once you have lifted ALL garments well above the grip of your weapon, you lock them in place by jamming your thumb into your side.


Grip Your Weapon

You then fully extend your fingers. Firmly push the “V” of your hand (the area between your thumb and index finger) down onto your grip. Your thumb will slide down along your body and go under your grip. Your fingers will go over your grip and wrap around the front strap of the grip. YOUR TRIGGER FINGER IS NEVER PART OF YOUR GRIP – EVER. At this point you have a firm grip, your trigger finger is well away from the trigger, and all layers of clothing is trapped between your forearm and your body.


Draw it from the holster

You then draw your weapon straight up until it fully clears your holster. Please note the trigger finger is not just outside the trigger guard – it is on the side of the slide. This digit, this little piece of bone and flesh, is what makes your weapon go BLAMMMM!!! Keep the damn thing away from the trigger.


Once the weapon is clear of the holster you begin to rotate it.


Point it at the threat and press the trigger

Once rotated – you are ready to engage. “What??? What was that??”

(A side note here:  For those weapons with slide safeties – say a 1911, THIS is when the safety comes off. NOT during the draw, NOT after it clears the holster, NOT as it begins to rotate but ONLY AFTER IT IS POINTED AT THE THREAT!!!)

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Yep, you heard me – you are ready to engage. Notice a couple of things in this image. First, my support hand it up, covering my support side, my face, my head. I have a real problem with teaching shooters to make a fist and place it in the middle of their chest. What the hell for??? Is the guy going to punch me there?? Will it stop a bullet?? I know the argument that you want to make sure it is well out of the way so you don’t shoot yourself. Yet, is this truly the muscle memory you want when an attacker comes at you and you need to fend them off while drawing?? I don’t believe so. Get your support arm up, out of the way of the draw and into a position to defend your head and face.

Focus on the threat and their center mass. That is your target, that is where you want to hit first – and you want to do that quickly. When your weapon is horizontal, and you are focused on their center mass – shoot them!!! The numbers say your attacker will be close. The numbers say the first to hit wins the fight. YOU DO NOT NEED TO BE FULLY EXTENDED IN A TWO HANDED GRIP TO SHOOT THE BASTARD!

A solid hit or two will buy you time, force the attacker away and allow you to go into a fully extended shooting stance if need be. Continue to engage the threat the whole time you’re extending into a two-handed grip.  More hits – less of a threat, as simple as that.  But, if you wait to engage until you are here – in a full shooting stance – you have lost valuable time and . . . perhaps . . . your life as well. 


Once the threat is down keep your distance. Should they attempt to re-engage with their weapon, shoot them. Period. A threat with a weapon in their hand is a threat to your existence – treat them that way.

Once the threat has been neutralized – do not reholster immediately. If you are safe, near cover, assured that there are no other bad guys around – do a tactical reload. Drop your magazine and insert a fresh one then stow the dropped magazine. This prepares you for the next engagement if necessary.

Call police – or wait for their arrival while keeping your weapon on the threat. Make sure you describe yourself fully to the police prior to their arrival or you could end up on the wrong end of a friendly fire incident. When they arrive, lay your weapon down and put your hands behind your head. FOLLOW ALL DIRECTIONS.

You will be arrested, taken to jail, informed of your rights – and your very first call should be to your attorney. Your only comment?? “I thought I was going to die!”

That’s quite a journey – from holster draw to jail. Yet, it reinforces the seriousness of drawing your weapon. It should never leave your holster unless you truly believe your very existence is at risk. And, if you feel that way, if a threat is coming at you intent on ending your life – be the one to walk away . . . . period!

You can do 95% of the training required to learn this draw as part of your dry fire exercise each and every day. Use this method every time you take your weapon from your holster – whether to remove your weapon at the end of the day or to remove it from its holster to take a latrine break. Every time you draw from your holster, it’s a training experience.

Ideally your draw is simply a command your brain gives. Everything else is muscle memory. It is one of many steps required to save your life, your family’s lives or your friend’s lives should you encounter an existential threat. Learn it – practice it – use it . . . . and then hope that day never – ever comes.

UPDATE:  A quick thank you to OldNFO for his comments on this post and his suggestion to include a few words about those elastic cords that seem to be buried in virtually every jacket or heavy coat made today.  One of their “features” is an adjustment to these cords so the fit can be tightened against the cold and wind.  In general, they look a bit like this.

Cord Adjuster 2

These little guys can do real damage to you.  There have been any number of reports of them becoming lodged inside the trigger guard and wedging themselves in such a way to depress the trigger and fire off a round as the weapon is either being drawn or reholstered.  OldNFO advice – and it is very solid advice – cut all such devices off and completely remove the elastic cord.  This small step could save you from a very bad day!!

Personal – A Heart Filled With Sorrow . . . .


Mrs. B and I are “teachers” in the Catholic RCIA program.  If you want to become Catholic, as an adult, most parishes will have a team to conduct a fairly typical 6-month program to teach you all you ever wanted to know about the Catholic Church and to set your feet on the path to a closer relationship to God.

This past Fall Lori started the program.  Her father sold us our home.  Early 40s, pretty, open, willing, talkative, a mother – you could not ask for a better candidate.  She was accepted as a member of the parish at Easter Vigil this past April.

Phone rings.  Caller ID says it’s Jeanie – the parish secretary.

Me:  Joe’s Bar! (we kid quite a bit)

Jeanie:  Bill, I need a favor.  Can you be an alter server for Thursday.  (alter server = alter boy, been a few years,  Never been a alter boy in the Catholic Church, getting I little old for it I would think)

Me:  Sure, no problem.  I didn’t know there was a service Thursday.

Jeanie:  It’s for the funeral.

Me:  Funeral????

Jeanie:  Yes . . . Lori, she died this past weekend. (while school shopping for shoes for her son.  She had an aneurysm – no warning at all)

Me: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Really?? (I flash on my experiences of her, her son, her excitement for the future . . . . ) Sure, no problem, I’d be happy to.  And sorrow fills my heart

Jeanie:  Thanks so much, could you also help serve communion?

Me:  No problem Jeanie, I’ll be there.

Jeanie:  Thanks Bill

And so I will do my small part to help her family through the hardest day of their lives . . . .

Give your kids a hug today, enjoy your day, love your friends . . . .

We will all take this journey . . . . take full advantage of your days . . . .

FYI - Sparks moviegoer shoots himself in buttocks, apologizes, leaves theater | Reno Gazette-Journal |


Guns DO NOT discharge – period.  I’ve had a loaded weapon on my person and next to my bed for decades – not a single, solitary BLAMMM!!!   Read the story – lesson here?  Even if you “Pocket Cary” you need a good holster to secure the weapon and to secure the package IN YOUR FREAKIN” POCKET.

Sparks moviegoer shoots himself in buttocks, apologizes, leaves theater

Later found at a Reno hospital, police say

11:32 PM, Aug 14, 2012   | 

Written by

David Jacobs,

A 56-year-old man accidentally shot himself in the buttocks inside the Century 14 movie theaters in downtown Sparks on Tuesday night when a gun he had brought into the cinema discharged, police dispatch said.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Personal . . . . The Lt. is home . . .


2nd Lt. G and 1st Lt J shown years ago on a camping trip with our scout troop – a wilderness survival weekend.  J is in the BDU gettin’ ready to chomp on a craw fish.  G is his sidekick . . . . it was yesterday.

Today G is a Mechanical Engineer in the AF working on A10s and F16s.  I attended his commissioning a number off months ago.  He took my Defensive Pistol I class.  Spent months in the wilderness over his scouting years with him.  Damn, time flys.

J – the fellow in the BDU was in town tonight.  I promised I’d buy him a beer when he got home, he’s been about 250 miles SW of Kabul for the past year.  I’ve been worried, love him like a son.  We chatted via facebook while he was deployed.  Reminded him to keep his head in the game.  He did a good  job with his guys – made a difference with the locals??  Who knows.  They came home three short.  What can you say?  I know the hole that leaves, the doubts it leaves . . . .

We all want it better for those that come after . . . sometimes you settle for just getting them back . . . .

Welcome home J, good to see you . . . .


Our country is in very good hands.

Monday, August 13, 2012

FYI - Involuntary Hand Clinches


Accidental Discharges – they’re real, they happen and they can do real damage.  Involuntary Hand Clinches may be one of the culprits.  A great article from Active Response Training with a “hat tip” to Say Uncle.

Trigger Finger Positioning, Hand Clenches, and Accidental Discharges

Written by Greg Ellifritz

I was recently contacted by an experienced handgun instructor to help him reconstruct the events of an accidental shooting. This instructor shot himself while reholstering after doing a demonstration during a basic concealed handgun class.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Just the Basics – Sights . . . . sights . . . . which one is the BEST??


So I’m at the range just checking things over before I head home for the evening. I’m an RSO there and everyone once-in-a-while our shooters are not very good at housekeeping, so I stop by frequently for a “look see”. A fellow is there with his son and one of his son’s friends sighting in his new .308 black gun on the 50 yard range. He’s hitting slightly above the target stand and 2 foot to the left . . . . it’s not going well. (Discussions days later revealed the previous owner knew little about a proper scope mount and after realignment of the scope’s centerline and a bit of Loc-Tight, things came around). Anyway, the boys and I start discussing an upcoming rifle shoot I’m putting together for the chapter in September. We have a 100 yard range only – so we will use the NRA reduced targets. It’s not a sanctioned shoot – just for fun and bragging rights.

“So what kind of scope do you use Bill?” The shooter’s son is pretty darn impressed with the hardware sticking up from the upper of his dad’s latest purchase.

“Actually, I don’t use a scope and the shoot will be iron sights only.”

This is met with an incredulous look by the boy and his dad. “Really?” goes the chorus of replies.

“Yep, really. I typically don’t use scopes.” There’s still a puzzled look on both of their faces. Really?? No scope???

So let’s chat a bit about “sights” – and which ones are “BEST”. (You thought discussions about the best holster could run long . . . . .)

First off – there are NO “BEST” sights – but there are solid approaches to choosing sights for your intended use of the weapon.

I teach my courses from a personal defense POV. I’m not into “tacticool”, I’m not a sniper looking to drop an intruder at 600 yards and I’m not an extreme hunter looking for that 800 yard long-distance kill. I focus on the up-close and personal gunfight – from body-to-body contact out to maybe 50 feet. After that – if you’re hosing the area around a threat past 50 feet – things will not go well for you in court. If I do need to “reach out and touch” someone, 100 yards – in a personal defense environment – is more than enough IMNSHO, of course. So, most encounters will be of the “metal on meat” variety, not precision fire. Most will demand rapid acquisition, not “small group” precision. This brings me back to the primary type of sight that comes on virtually all defensive weapons – pistol, rifle, shotgun – the iron sight.

Given that limitation, there are still countless iron sights pairs available on the market today. So let’s look at a few different kinds, what they offer the shooter and see where they fit in the scheme of things. Since I have a fondness for Glocks, I’ll start there.


These are simple sights that are standard on a Glock. They are fixed sights, meaning that actual adjustments are made with a specific Glock rear-sight adjustment tool and a file for the front post. Which implies that you should let a certified Glock armor do this task if need be.

On the left is a simple 3-dot sight system. There indentations on either side of the rear sight notch that are filled with a white paint – same with the front post. When the dots are straight across – you have proper sight alignment. The white dots are more visible in standard light – but darkness diminishes your ability to acquire a sight picture.

Enter the center choice and a tritium sight. These white dots gather energy from light and then glow in the dark, providing you much greater ability to acquire a sight picture in low light.

Finally, the outlined notch on the rear sight and white dot on the front blade. Put the “ball in the basket” and you are on-target. This is my favorite and is on my Glock carry weapon. However, they are NOT “glow in the dark”.

These are basic sights; they require no extras (batteries, more holster space, special weapon mounts). They will be available and functional each and every time you draw your weapon.

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There are a multitude of alternatives on this particular variation – above are some examples. My son likes the TruGlo option on his IDPA weapon and it has made a real difference for him. The bottom line is that these types of sighting systems are self-contained and require no special mounts or power. If you read my earlier post on “Training To The Point Of Failure”, you realize being in a place where FUBAR (F*#@ed) Up Beyond All Repair) is operating in all its glory is a very bad place indeed. And, when you are dependent on that system for personal defense – the fewer parts to break or run out of energy, the better. Simple Iron Sights are my personal choice and what I strongly encourage my students to get very familiar with and to use on their defensive weapons.

That said – there some alternative options that offer benefits that are certainly worth a look. For my “long gun” I have a Panther Arms AP4 in 7.62.


I have removed the carry handle, installed a pop-up rear sight as well as and EOTECH holographic sight.


This, to me, is the best of both worlds. The EOTECH provides very quick target acquisition (anything with a red dot on it will have a very bad day) with broad situational awareness (you can easily keep both eyes open and the red dot on the primary threat). Yes, it runs on batteries, yes you need to have spares in the stock or your kit. But, the tradeoff is solid to me.

And – if your batteries fail – the rear sight sits at the right height to allow you to see through the EOTEC sight and use the front post normally. This combination meets all my requirements of a solid and flexible sighting system for my long gun within the 100 yard range.

A popular alternative sighting system for handguns is a laser system of some type. The “big dog” in that market is Crimson Trace. They offer a variety of mounting systems including some that simply require a grip change to be ready to go.


There are obvious advantages to this type of system – put the laser dot on the threat, a bad day for them will quickly follow. And, obviously the shooter will always have the primary sights on the weapon for backup. So, as with the EOTECH on AP4, this offers both options. The only thing I have noticed with folks using this type of system is that they quickly become dependent on them and all work with the old iron sights quickly stops. I believe this to be a mistake. And I believe it strongly enough that I suggest folks put off such a sighting system until they are full proficient with good old iron sights.

One other thing to remember, if your grips are changed to include a laser sight or different rear sight and front blade, make sure they will still fit your carry holster. It can be a bit of a surprise if you suddenly you get your weapon back from the armorer and it simply no longer fits your holster.

One final option for your defensive carry pistol is an slide-mounted optic. If you are looking at these my only response is . . . . . really???

So there ya go, a quick spin through a bunch of different sighting systems. You needs may differ, your defensive approach may vary from mine. Spend some time thing about your use, trying different systems and then pick one that you can use to quickly and consistently get on target to stop whatever threat is headed your way.