Saturday, September 29, 2012

Commentary . . . . . . Share


As a gun owner and an individual who chooses to carry for personal protection you have a lot of responsibilities.

You are responsible:

  • To be trained
  • For your own personal protection
  • For the protection of your family and friends in your charge
  • For demanding that your shooting buddies be safe, responsible and knowledgeable
  • For . . . . .

There are many other items that we can all add if we put our minds to it. However, I want to focus on something I believe every shooter should do . . . . share . . . .

Last month I was approached by our local scout troop to talk about firearm safety. This quickly morphed into a month-long series covering everything you ever wanted to know about firearm safety, range safety, rifles and first aid on the shooting range. It was a pretty cool month really with the scouts in the troop doing a good job of paying attention during my weekly ½ hour presentation. Their reward? An afternoon on the range shooting rifles. Today actually.

So, from 1-4PM today the scouts, a couple leaders and three RSOs from the Ikes headed to the range for some basic marksmanship, a little steel shooting and some 50 yard target shooting. What a great afternoon. Let’s go to the photos, shall we??

IMAG0525 (Small) IMAG0526 (Small)IMAG0527 (Small) IMAG0529 (Small) IMAG0530 (Small)     IMAG0532 (Small) IMAG0528 (Small)IMAG0533 (Small) IMAG0534 (Small)IMAG0535 (Small) IMAG0538 (Small)IMAG0536 (Small) IMAG0541 (Small) IMAG0543 (Small)IMAG0537 (Small)IMAG0539 (Small)       IMAG0544 (Small)IMAG0542 (Small)IMAG0545 (Small)IMAG0540 (Small) IMAG0547 (Small)IMAG0546 (Small) IMAG0548 (Small)IMAG0549 (Small) IMAG0550 (Small)IMAG0551 (Small) IMAG0552 (Small)IMAG0553 (Small) IMAG0554 (Small)

My point in all this? What good is it if you keep your passion for shooting and personal defense to yourself? Introduce your kids, family and friends to the sporting side of the house. Bring your friends into the personal defensive shooting world. Grow the sport, help teach them to defend themselves, their families and their friends.

Share . . . .

Monday, September 24, 2012

Review – Why Yes – That IS a NRA T/C hat . . . .


After being notified by Andy Lander way back in February that one of the few remaining seats in the September 21-23 had been set aside for me . . . I waited . . . . and waited . . . . and waited . . . for this past weekend. What a busy, intense, fun and satisfying weekend. Thought you folks might be interested is how it went.

The NRA Training Counselor course is that program within the NRA that trains the NRA Instructors that train NRA Instructors. There is a through pre-course evaluation including a review of your training record, your certifications, the number of students you have trained, an evaluation a personal resume you prepare, and the contents of three letters of recommendation that must be prepared according to the NRA’s specifications.


The course was team taught by Andy Lander and Sean Thornton. Their stamina, focus, knowledge and teaching ability was exceptional. The days were long (8:30 AM to 6PM or so) for Friday and Saturday with final individual interviews beginning at about 3PM on Sunday. The days were long enough and intense enough that merely leaving the training room and making it back to the motel was an accomplishment.

Our training took place at the Cabela’s in Kansas City, KS. We had folks from as far west as Colorado Springs, north to near Oshkosh, WI and as far east as WV and just north of NYC. There were a total of 16 experienced NRA trainers who had been teaching for anywhere from 30 years to 2-3 years. Virtually all disciplines were represented including all black powder certifications as well as all re-loading. It was quite a wealth of knowledge gathered is this single training room – fairly intimidating actually.

Training followed the format of the Instructor courses – first we covered the training process for teaching the BIT – Basic Instructor Training – to learn how to teach new instructors how to teach. We began with the first exercise out of the box with each candidate making a short presentation in front of the group and then having our work immediately evaluated by everyone else in the room. This format was followed for the next three days – receive an assignment, prepare, present, be evaluated. If you have a fear of public speaking it’s a real way to hammer that puppy into the ground! The entire first day focused on BIT – every “in and out” you can possible think of. What was really interesting was to see the improvement in performance from the first group in an exercise to the last group. The changes were amazing. Yet, when comparing the very first presentations to the last of the day – it was even more significant. We ended the first day totally shot – all of us ready for the motel and an early night.

Day two saw us move from teaching how to teach to teaching a specific discipline. We went through virtually every discipline from basic pistol to reloading. While I would have though we would focus on course content we focused on the process of teaching each discipline. Honestly, that makes sense. Each of these instructors was well versed in their disciplines so, in retrospect, it makes sense to actually work on the mechanics of actually teaching a discipline rather the discipline itself. Day two started out “slow” with a candidate designated a T/C for each section – they would then make assignments to “prospective instructors”, and then evaluate their performance. Then, their performance was evaluated by the entire room as well as Andy and Sean.

Repeat . . . only faster. Then – repeat . . . . only faster. Then – repeat . . . . only faster. Not sure I can describe it any more than that. It was a blazingly fast day – focused, intense and stressful – and a tremendous amount of fun. Again, the day ended in exhaustion.

Day three was centered how to evaluate instructor candidates, how to handle “problem candidates” and how to make those “hard decisions” when an instructor candidate simply isn’t going to make it. A morning and early afternoon filled with that quickly gave way to final individual interviews.

Each of us sat “one on two” with Andy and Sean to go over our performance, share our experience and to receive either a “go” or a “no-go”. Everyone left with their T/C Hats, ready to train those NRA grads who have decided that they too want to train new NRA shooters.

I’d just like to give a public thank-you to Andy and Sean for their time, energy and all-around great job. I think we were the 6th course Andy has done this year – an exhausting schedule no matter how you look at it. Thanks guys, I appreciate it.

So there ya go. If you have a calling teach new NRA shooting instructors – go for it, it’s quite a ride!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Training – BLAMM! BLAMM! BLAMM! . . . . SCAN . . . . pppppaaaaauuuuuussssseeeeeeee . . . . reholster


My last post was to encourage you to slow down during your range trip, particularly on the front end – the planning end. And, on the range as you were gearing up – review your plan, work it, do the drills full speed, review the drill’s results . . . . This lets you keep your “head in the game” and really allows you to wring the most out of your range plan.

There is one other particular moment I really want you to pay attention to as well. It comes between “SCAN” . . . . and “reholster”. If you watch my recent videos on Focal Point Shooting, you will see this moment – this “pppppaaaaauuuuuussssseeeee” just prior to reholstering.

This “pause” is an extension of the follow-through. It is a moment in time, after your shot, after you have completed a scan to insure you are safe, when you can take a mental snapshot of how your shots “felt” and how the position of your body “feels”; how’s your grip, how’s your extension, what’s your stance feel like – how everything looks and feels. A mental instant in time for assessment.

Why do this? Simple really – if it feels like crap I suspect your results will mirror your feelings. Is your position contorted, your extension way out of whack, are your feet at funny angles, is your grip loose . . . . .? Notice. Make mental notes on what corrections you need to make. Put those in your range notebook as something to work on.

On the other hand, maybe your drill felt like glass. Your target engagement was right where you wanted it. Feet, extension, grip – couldn’t be better. The drill “felt” great. Notice how this feels, make mental notes, ad them to your range notebook to remind yourself that many of your range trips truly go very well.

Don’t rush to reholster, don’t hurry to reload and repeat. Savor, experience, feel . . . . let your body learn what success “feels” like so it can work towards your range goals that much quicker.

Range time isn’t all about speed . . . . sometimes it’s about the . . . . .

Pppppppaaaaaauuuuuuuusssssssseeeeeeeeeee . . . . . . .

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Training – Slow Down . . . . Take Your Time . . . .


I have periods of time in my life when time simply screams by. Honestly, it is considerably slower now-a-days, kids are out of the house, my business is on my laptop, Susie and I have more time together than ever before so I do my best to throttle the hectic side of my personality and promote the more peaceful side. OOOOOOmmmmmmm . . . . oooooommmmmmm . . . . yeah, right.

While life spins by quickly, all of us take time out for range work. Time specifically set aside to hone/refine/polish skills that we all hope we never need, never use to protect ourselves, or family or our friends. Why rush?

Have you watched new shooters during their first range trips – seen their excitement – looked into their eyes with dilated pupils – and know that they really needed to slow down first before they can ever do anything productive on the range? Honestly, there are many times I feel a lot of the excitement prior to a range trip that I felt years and years ago.  So let’s talk about this a bit.

This is a great time for a new shooter to learn to “calm their mind”. This has come up in other discussions when I posted about calming you mind in times of danger, when you need to keep your head in the game. It develops a habit of slowing things down and being proactive in that process instead of reactive to the events of the moment.

Prepare your plan for the range the night before – “practice with purpose”. Load your bag, make sure you have the right weapons and ammunition for your trip, the targets you are going to use, eyes and ears – all the usual gear you take. This will help with a smooth start to your range trip.

I know many ranges book lane times, but prepping prior to your trip will help make the start of your time in your lane begin more smoothly. Don’t hurry though the prep – gear up (eyes, ears, cap), holster, mag pouches or perhaps your standard carry configuration. Load your mags and then do a good weapons check. Look for damage, problems, cracks, anything that feels “off”.

Take a couple of deep breaths, review the first set of drills you are getting set to do, clear your mind, focus on the drill . . . . . and then do it, full speed. When you’ve finished – evaluate you’re your performance, make some notes, use your camera phone and, again, slow yourself down. Prepare for your second round of drills using the same techniques we just went through. You have all the time you need to prepare and all the time you need to evaluate . . . . but run your drills at full speed. Honestly, that is the way of the world, of actual conflict – you have all the time in the world to prepare and train – followed by an actual firefight or encounter with a threat – and then you can complete your AAR, decompress, evaluate.

Make sure you work your plan – stay focused – “keep your head in the game”. You can make adjustments on round count, drills – whatever – on your next trip, but work your plan as closely as you can – make your adjustments on your next trip.

There is no real way to train to “calm your mind” – you will react the way you react. But, if you make full use of your range time, your drills, your draws, your movements – not rush through your range trip just making holes – you will be able to take full advantage of your range trip.

And, if you follow the same procedure when you gear up each morning – check your magazines, your holster, you weapon – should you be called upon to defend yourself, your family or your friends – you’ll be ready.

Slow down – don’t rush – keep your head in the game – pay attention . . . . you have all the time in the world right now . . . . . . use it.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A Training I shall go . . . . one more time . . .


To be honest, I’m pushing the training envelope just a bit this year . . . .  Mrs. Bill gave me one of “those” looks that she has honed oh so well over the past 46 years of our relationship.  Heavy sigh . . .  Yet, she followed it with a smile and reminded me to make sure I had my “shooter pants” along – she’s such a little shit!

Anyway, mid morning tomorrow I am off to Kansas City, KS for a three day NRA Training Counselor workshop.  The purpose is to train the trainers that train the trainers . . . . does that make sense??

Things to bring – 2ea 3” 3-ring binders, black pens, highlighters and three personal reference letters in sealed envelopes.  Sounds like all classroom, no range time – not sure really, they said nothing about bringing a firearm but I’ll have my carry weapon with me so I can always pick up some ammo.  The course will be handled at the Cabela’s on the west side of town near the racetrack.

The course is pricy at $500 for the 3-days.  Of course that doesn’t include room,food,travel . . . . yep, the old training checkbook is gonna take a hit on this one.

The days are scheduled to begin at 9 and end at 5 – looks like full days.  So, provided I’m not completely trashed out at the end of each day I will offer some updates, maybe a photo or two and take you all along on this adventure with me.

A training I shall go . . . .

Monday, September 17, 2012

Training–Tale of the tape . . . .


The last number of posts I’ve really been working the detail of my range targets.  The idea here is to encourage you to monitor your performance – in detail – and the see what needs work.  Again, the camera in your phone is a great tool for documenting your range trip.

Today I left work a bit after 5PM.  Mrs. B has a church meeting tonight so supper will be a bit delayed . . . .  what to do, what to do.

So, off to the range for what turned out to be about 1.5 hours of training time.  Weather was sunny, temps in the low 60s and the entire pistol range was EMPTY!!!  What more could you as for!!!

I always start with a round with the .22/45 – kinda gets the juices flowing.  The target shows the results by looking at the squares, circles and triangles.   Circles from 15ft, triangles from 21ft and squares from 50ft (really, that much difference between 2 magazines???)

Anyway, that done I went through my standard drills with my Glock 17.  I reserved the 15ft line for the Close Hip only, the rest of the rounds of fire were from 21ft, 50ft and some from 75ft.  However the 50ft and 75ft were all 2-handed, full extension aimed fire.

The remain were from the 21ft and covered 2-Handed, Full Extension, 3/4 Hip and 1/2 Hip.  In total, 140 rounds were fired in all the drills.  If you have any interest, each drill is labeled and the results noted around the outside of the target shown here:


Again, as you spend time at the range, take time to document your efforts, it’s a great way to show progress and find your weak spots.

However, in this case, I want to take a broader view of the target and look at “the tale of the tape”.  I tape in between each round - right after I note the round number and my score.  My goal is 80% across the board.  Tonight – not so hot for some drills – heavy sigh.  Yet, the tape tells a fairly good story.

Considering you see 120 of the 140 rounds taped up, there is a good distribution center mass.  There is reasonable distribution along the spinal column.  There is not a band of tape below center mass indicating that there was not major issue with flinching.  Misses outside the silhouette are mostly in-line with the center mass hits rather than low/left, a continual problem I have.

Finally, a quick count shows  26 rounds off the silhouette which shakes out to 81% combat effective hits  for the trip.  Nice if it were higher, but gives me something to work on next time.

Bottom-line, use your targets, use some tape, track your results and at the end of the range trip, take some time to evaluate the “tale of the tape” – it can tell you a lot.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Training – Basic Pistol Course


One of the purposes of this blog is to provide the folks I teach with a ready resource of what topics that I believe are important for new shooters to know. Actually, over the past 9 months I have pretty well posted my Basic Pistol Course on the blog. Given that I have a new course starting in about three weeks, I thought I’d make it easy for my new shooters to get a head start by putting all the posts that cover the Basic Pistol Course in a single post. If these new folks take the time to read through the course material, they will have a real head start before the course begins.

Of course, anyone’s welcome to share the Basic Pistol Course – if you’re an instructor, a new shooter or just want a quick review of the basics – please, enjoy.

Lesson One – Safety and The Range

Weapons and their safe handling can be intimidating to the new shooter. Add to that confusion on selecting a shooting range and what exactly you should even take to a range – the initial “start-up” can easily feel overwhelming.

I’ve broken down this startup process in a number of different posts that should make the transition from being a “new shooter” to a “shooter” just a bit easier.

Lesson Two – Do I Even Need Training, and Just Who Should I Go Too??
Honestly, it does surprise me when a person decides to get a concealed carry permit, buys a weapon and then simply sees no reason for additional training. I’ve had some thoughts about that.
Lesson Three – What Makes It Go BLAMMMM!!!
It’s a rather complex process that makes a weapon go BLAMMMM when you hold it in your hand and press the trigger rearward. Let’s spend a bit of time going over the basics.
Lesson Four – What The Heck Kind Of Handgun Is This???
Revolver, Semi-Automatic, Single Action, Double Action, Safe Action . . . . . What????? Let’s see if we can clear this up a bit.
Lesson Five – Grip, Sights, Sight Alignment, Sight Picture
How the heck do I hold my weapon and hit what I want?? Is it that complicated? How can I get a small group when someone is trying to shoot me?? It can all be overwhelming when a new shooter picks up their weapon for the first time and tries to hit a paper target. I have some thoughts on all of that.
Lesson Six – Holsters, Draws, What Guns Should I Have In My Gun Bag, How Do I Press The Trigger
You need something to carry your weapon in, you need to know how to draw it quickly. I do have recommendations on a basic suite of weapons that will help you with your training. Let chat a bit.
Lesson Seven – A Productive Range Trip and Some Advanced Techniques
When you pack up to go to the range, why are you going? Do you have a plan to get the most out of your range time? How can you trim some time off what it takes to get the first combat effective hit on your threat?
And there you have it. A complete Basic Pistol Class. It’s a place to start and grow from. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Training – Focal Point Shooting Range Trip


A while back I did a couple posts about trimming time off your D.A.F. – Draw – Aim – Fire response.  It’s the time it takes to go from your decision to draw until the first combat effect hit on the target.  The discussions were based on a book entitled “Shooting to Live”  by W.E. Fairbairn and E.A. Sykes and drew lessons from the 600 or so gun fights they had been in and had survived.  I called the post “Seconds Count” and incorporated a number of images of the different positions they found particularly useful:

  • 2-Handed, Full Extension
  • ¾ Hip
  • ½ Hip
  • Close Hip

I followed this post with one about “A Range Day” – to encourage you to think before you go to the range and to go to the range with a course of action laid out in your mind’s eye. Why are you going? What are you going to work on? What are your goals? What weapons are you going to use?

What is missing from these two posts is the “action”. How does a shooter get from “here” to “there” while on the range. Still photos give hints – but to really get a flavor of working these four positions, I felt that video was needed.

I find a lot of value in folks who share their thoughts and ideas about different shooting grips, positions, styles and the like. Yet, without really “seeing” them in action, I am always left with questions after I read the articles. So, determined not to leave anyone “hanging”, I did a video trip to the range to go through these four drills from 21 feet, then I repeated the “Close Hip” from 15 feet, followed by the 2-Handed Full Extension from 50 feet and finished off with 2-Handed, Full Extension Aimed Fire from 75 feet.

Goals for the Day

  • Multiple single handed draws from concealment for each position.
  • A magazine change mid-drill from each position.
  • Combat Effective Hits – 80% hit rate.
  • Work through any weapon malfunctions as I go.
  • Focus on smooth – not fast. (slow is smooth, smooth is fast)
  • Not make a fool of myself – I’m a vain as the next guy!

What follows are both the video of each drill and an image of the target after the course of fire.  I taped the target between each drill as well.  My only error is that I forgot to take an image of the 2-handed, Full Extension drill at 50ft.  Heavy sigh.

As I stated in my goals above, this was not about speed, but about smooth.  Consistently repeating a drill so that it is smooth and sure will, over time, naturally increase its effective speed.  Watching the video and timing them, it seems most are right at 2-seconds or perhaps just a shade less.  Of course there’s also a few “oh shit” draws as well – but then what fun is it if you don’t see warts and all.

You should leave each and every range trip having learned something new and having discovered areas that need a bit (or perhaps a lot) of polish.  If you’re not finding your “faults”, you’re not growing as a shooter.  These are NOT problem areas, but areas that simply need more work.  I’m sure you will spot plenty of them for me in these videos as well.

A few comments about “at speed” draws on a shooting range.  Honestly, most ranges will not even allow a draw from a holster on a range.  I understand the liability issues.  I understand the fear of being being litigated out of existence.  And yet, picking up a grounded weapon from a bench, loading and making ready, and then shooting a nice, tight group from a static position will NOT develop the muscle memory you need to save your life.

Obviously, diligent dry-fire on a “range” in your home will help.  The use of a LaserLyte cartridge will help, airsoft will help.  Yet, you need real range time.  My only suggestion is to find a range, a piece of property or construct your own safe range where you can practice these skills.  I am a firm believer that you need to experience live fire to gain full benefit of this type of range work.

All that said, lets get down to it – here are the drills, the videos and images of the results (aren’t camera phones great!).  Let me know what you think.

2-Handed, Full Extension, 20 Rounds, 21 Feet

Position: 2-Handed grip, arms fully extended, your weapon abut 2-inches below your eye-level. Your focus is on the threat and the point you wish to hit the threat. Both eyes are open. This provides you the ability to clearly see the threat, their hands and the area around them. The video of this position looks like this:

Focal Point Shooting–Full Extension

2-H Full Ext 20 Rnd

Result – 18/20 hits – 90%

¾ Hip, 20 Rounds, 21 Feet

Position: 1-Handed grip, dominant hand not quite fully extended, your weapon centered on the threat. Your focus is on the threat and the point you wish to hit the threat. Both eyes are open. This provides you the ability to clearly see the threat, their hands and the area around them. The video of this position looks like this:

Focal Point Shooting–3/4 Hip

1-H 3-4 Hip 20 Rnd

Result – 17/20, 85%

½ Hip, 20 Rounds, 21 Feet

Position: 1-Handed grip, dominant hand extended about ½ way to full extension, your weapon centered on the threat. Your focus is on the threat and the point you wish to hit the threat. Both eyes are open. This provides you the ability to clearly see the threat, their hands and the area around them. The video of this position looks like this:

Focal Point Shooting–1/2 Hip

1-H 1-2 Hip 20 Rnd

Result – 16/20, 80%

Close Hip, 20 Rounds, 21 Feet

Position: 1-Handed grip, dominant arm elbow is welded to your hip, your weapon centered on the threat. Your focus is on the threat and the point you wish to hit the threat. Both eyes are open. This provides you the ability to clearly see the threat, their hands and the area around them. The video of this position looks like this:

Focal Point Shooting–Close Hip 21ft

1-H Close Hip 21ft 20 Rnd

Results – 14/20 70%

Close Hip, 20 Rounds, 15 Feet

Position: 1-Handed grip, dominant arm elbow is welded to your hip, your weapon centered on the threat. Your focus is on the threat and the point you wish to hit the threat. Both eyes are open.  This position is NOT for long range shooting.  It is, however, well suited for the “up close and personal” encounter.  I repeated the drill at 15 feet to see the difference 6-feet can make. The video of this position looks like this:

Focal Point Shooting–Close Hip 15ft

1-H Close Hip 15ft 20 Rnd

Result – 18/20, 90%

2-Handed, Full Extension, 20 Rounds, 50 Feet

Position: 2-Handed grip, arms fully extended, your weapon abut 2-inches below your eye-level. Your focus is on the threat and the point you wish to hit the threat. Both eyes are open. This provides you the ability to clearly see the threat, their hands and the area around them. The video of this position looks like this:

Focal Point Shooting–2h Full Extension 50ft

Sorry, I forgot to take this image. However, the score seen on the image below indicates I shot 15/20 or 75%

2-Handed, Full Extension, 20 Rounds, 75 Feet

Position: 2-Handed grip, arms fully extended, both eyes are open.  However, at this distance you can easily take advantage of the time you have – even with a “committed” threat to get a solid sight picture.  It also provides you some time to attempt to dissuade the attacker from his intentions.  The video of this position looks like this:

Focal Point Shooting–75ft–Aimed Fire

2-H Full Ext 75ft 20 Rnd

Results: 18/20, 90%

So there you have it – a complete range plan, video of its execution and the result of each drill.  If you are willing to put detailed work in your range sessions, your growth as a shooter will change significantly.  Time is precious, ammunition is expensive – it is about you getting the most “bang for your buck” (sorry, that was too easy) out of each and every range trip.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Just A Little Braggin’ - 4.62 Baby!!!


The 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of the month our Ikes club shoot steel.  It’s a program I really pushed this year, convinced them to buy $3,500 worth of Action Target steel plate (8” and 8” x 10”  AR 550) and “give it a shot” – pardon my pun.  My first year as President, I suppose I was a bit pushy – color me shocked.

The long and the short of it is that we’ve paid off over 1/2 of the investment, have a group of about 18 shooters that show every time and we are slowly growing.  Not bad, I’ll take it.

We do not follow strict rules here – the plates are 8” not 12”, the shooter shoots a string at a stage, not 5 in a row - we only have space to set up two stages each time though - we do our best to not repeat them.  The whole point is to have fun, introduce a new sport, involve families - one of the fastest shooters is a HS Freshman this year and there’s a young lady that’s comin’ on strong – a 5th grader!  And to offer a little friendly competition to the club.

While most shooters will run the stages about 10 times, I have had a heck of a time getting more than 4 or 5 rounds in.  Since it’s “my baby” I feel compelled to do the hand shaking, welcome new shooters, keep an eye on things and time stages in between.  Honestly, it’s more important that the members and shooters have a good time than it is getting in trigger time.

But, I do get a few rounds in.  I have had a hell of a time dropping time though.  Minimum distance is 30 feet – max is about 65 or so.  A shooter can use any caliber handgun – I usually shoot a 9mm but last night I had one of my trusty Ruger 22/45s. 

And . . . . I had a simply beautiful, smooth and clean run. (4 whites and a red stop plate to a stage)  It just “felt” nice.

Result . . . . 4.62!  Best time of the year!!  Pretty happy with it.

Of course we have some much better shooters, one fellow has a 2.31 for the year so far – pretty fun to watch.

Still – I was pumped so when I got home I sent a text to “The Boy” – “4.62 Baby!!”

His reply??  “So, ur only a second behind”

Heavy sigh – little shit!!  Smile

Other than just a little braggin’ – just a friendly reminder to go play – find some type of competition – jump in – create it if need be – fun, friends, shooters, trigger time – what more could you ask for in an evening!!!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Review – 5.11 Taclite Pro Pants


When I started my training company, I was looking for a “uniform”, something that looked professional but was comfortable and durable. A trip to a small local company resulted in custom polo shirts and baseball caps. And, for pants, I turned to 5.11 and their Taclite Pro Pants. I have two pair of khaki and a black pair – I wear the khaki far more. Regardless what I am doing, I believe it is important to present a professional appearance. Going range or classroom to conduct a class dressed in an old pair of jeans or an old set of BDUs simply does not cut it IMNSHO, of course.

Mrs. B: “Are tttthhhhhhoooosssseeeeee your sssshhhhhooooooootttting pants??” This is said with a cute little smirk that tilts up a corner of her mouth – eyebrows slightly raised and just a tinge of sarcasm in her voice.

Unfortunately for her she was just returning from a ride (she rides dressage).

Me: Why yes sweetie, they are! Say, are ttttthhhhhhoooooossssseeeeee your riding pants? And is that a riding helmet? Are those a pair of riding gloves?? Oh, and are those riding boots?? And say – under that T-Shirt of the stable - is that a riding . . . .

Mrs. B: “Stop right there buster!!!”

I love it when I “win one”.

Shooting pants – hummmm, let’s chat about that for a bit.

I was looking for a number of specific things in the pants:

  • Comfortable
  • Durable
  • Resistant to dirt
  • Enough pockets

In other words – “shooting pants”. (don’t you dare tell Mrs. B.)

So let’s go through my list of what I was looking for and how the Taclite Pro Pants meets my expectations.

Comfortable: The “short” classes are all day affairs usually beginning for me around 5AM and ending around 7PM. That turns into a 8AM to 5:30PM day for the folks that come to the classes. Do a back-to-back Defensive Pistol class, that’s a lot of time in the “uniform” combined with a lot of standing, sitting, kneeling, moving both in the classroom and on the range  – the pants had to be comfortable. And, they are – tremendously so. The material, while not “soft” like a pure cotton, is fairly light weight, wrinkle free and Teflon coated. It is very comfortable to wear. The waistband has some stretch to it so it gives a bit while you’re moving around. And, the crotch is roomie and comfortable, even at the end of a very long day.

Durable: The material is heavy enough that even after two years of wear and washing is see little, if any, real wear on the pants. They are rip-stop as well though I have not experience any punctures of the fabric at all.

Resistant to dirt: I love Teflon coated pants! They simply do not get “dirty”. Obviously I wash them after a course but given the amount of movement and the up and down to the ground, virtually no dirt clings to them at all. Again, two years – no “dirty spots” can be found on these pants.

Enough pockets: I had my introduction to “cargo pants” during my tour in Vietnam. The gear I could carry in those pockets was amazing – a camera, tools, extra mags, field dressings – pretty darn handy. These pants make those look like pikers! Huge, roomy hip pockets, deep cargo pockets on either side, a “magazine pocket” on the left side that seems to like to hold my glasses, large – deep side pockets, a knife pocket – amazing. And, since I still carry around a fair amount of gear for client services, plenty of room to spare!

From their specs:

  • Lightweight 65% polyester and 35% poly cotton ripstop
  • Magazine/cell phone pocket
  • Two cargo pockets
  • Patented slash rear pockets
  • Treated with HT Teflon® wear resistant finish
  • External knife pocket
  • Rear web strap
  • YKK® zippers
  • Prym® snaps
  • Clip loop


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For my provides plenty of room. I carry IWB on my strong side at about 4 o’clock, two spare magazines in my off-side rear pocket, knife in my strong-side rear pocket, flashlight and tactical pen in my off-side cargo pocket along with my wallet and my Leatherman Juice CS4 in my strong-side cargo pocket. It all fits nicely and it’s comfortable to carry the entire day.

If you are in the market for a great part of “shooting pants” for the range, for work or for casual travel – you would be hard pressed to find a better pair than 5.11 Taclite Pro Pants.

Review – Surefire 6P LED Defender Flashlight


When considering a flashlight for your E.D.C. package, it should fill a number of squares. It should be:

  • Be able to be used as a defensive weapon
  • Built like a tank
  • Reliable
  • Can be gripped firmly

I’ve been a flashlight geek for as many years as I can remember. From “pen lights” of the 60s with small incandescent bulbs and AA batteries to various Mag-Lights.  I’ve been a proponent and user of an E.D.C. flashlight for virtually my entire life. The advent of the “headlamp” was a true game changer when it came to a useful light around a campsite.  Still, walking around with a Petzl headlamp on my forehead pushed the geek image just a bit too much.

An  E.D.C. “kit” for defensive purposes added a different slant to my traditional thoughts for a flashlight. It changed from just providing a light source to providing a light source bright enough to fully illuminate an area and, in a pinch a tool that could act as a secondary defensive weapon. To that end, I wanted it to fulfill a number of criteria:

Be able to be used as a defensive weapon: It needed to have some ability to inflict damage to a threat that is within an arm’s reach. Something that could be painful enough to change an attacker’s mind about their current path.

Built like a tank: I am very hard on equipment. Not abusive, but a tool is to be used, carried during all types of weather and in all types of environments – wet, dry, hot, cold. I wanted something that isn’t going to fall apart in my hands after a year or two of use.

Reliable: You push the button – it lights. EACH AND EVERY FRICKIN’ TIME. PERIOD!!!

BRIGHT: A light that will illuminate a hallway, garage, back yard, driveway, bedroom, living room – a light that would give me the ability to clearly see what was in the area. And, bright enough that when flashed in the eyes of an attacker that they are temporarily blinded. Bright enough that they cannot “blink it away”.

Can be gripped firmly: I’ve used “pen lights” before – small, slender . . . . cute. I didn’t want “cute”. Wanted something that could be grasped, held, wielded – that fit my hand well both with and without gloves.

And, I have found such a flashlight . . . .

Presenting the Surefire 6P LED Defender:


This is an image of my actual flashlight. As you can see, the edges are rubbed “raw” from riding in my support-side pocket. It’s become a good friend over the past year+, one that I intend on having around for many more to come.

From the Manufacturer – here are the specifications:

  • 4.8 ounces
  • 200 Lumens output for 2-hours
  • Virtually indestructible, electronically regulated light emitting diode (LED) has no filament to burn out or break; lasts for thousands of hours
  • Crenellated Strike Bezel® provides enhanced self-defense capability
  • Precision reflector creates smooth beam with no spots or rings
  • Rugged aerospace-grade aluminum body with Type III anodizing
  • Tailcap switch: press for momentary-on, click for constant-on

Compact (pocket sized), high-intensity LED flashlight for tactical, outdoor, self-defense, and general use. Its virtually unbreakable light emitting diode (there's no filament to burn out or break) generates a smooth, brilliant beam —bright enough to temporarily blind an aggressor. And if 200 lumens of blinding light is not enough to make your point with an aggressor, then the 6PX Defender features a crenellated Strike Bezel® as another line of defense. A strong yet lightweight, anodized aluminum body resists crushing, bending, and the elements, and O-ring seals keep dust, dirt, and moisture out. Its compact size, high output, extended runtime, and its Strike Bezel make the 6PX Defender a great choice for personal protection, but it's also perfect for tactical applications, the great outdoors, and ideal as an everyday carry light.

If you’re looking for a light to bet your life on – the Surefire 6P LED Defender is a very, very good place to start.

Commentary - Old thoughts . . . . that ring all too true again today . . .


What follows is a post from 9/12/2001. . . . the beginning . . . .   It shares my frustrations at 9/11 as well as what was done to put us in such a position.  Sadly, actions taken during the Clinton years are, yet again, underway.  Does a simply decade truly wipe the memory clean?? 

I pray we find a way to remember the true meaning of this day – the victims that died and the soldier volunteers who have given so much . . . .

It was only yesterday . . . .

Sept 12, 2001

It is still hard to even begin to understand yesterday. And, as the dust begins to settle, there is talk about what we should do in response to this despicable act. I guess I would like to offer my two cents on that. By way of disclaimer, I should say I also write this while being incredibly angry. Obviously, anger with the people who conducted this attack, but also angry at us, as a nation, for allowing ourselves to become so weak.

For years and years, our government – populated by both Republicans and Democrats – has justified their way to spending less and less and less on those institutions that keep us free. Hardest hit has been the military and intelligence communities. Our soldiers live in poverty. Their housing, in many areas, is substandard. And, while Bush has promised “help is on the way”, their pay remains pathetic.

The intelligence community has seen their resources drained, their ability to gather human intelligence (read spies) severely limited and their resources compromised through Americans willing to sell their souls for 30 pieces of silver.

Our reduced spending (or spending on poorly run projects) has resulted in a military no longer able to fight a dual front war. Of course, this is OK since “no one” would ever think of attacking the US. This has resulted in a military no longer capable of mounting a campaign the size of the Gulf War. And, keep in mind, at that time it required HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of Guard and Reserve troops to pull that off because our military had been reduced to such a point of weakness the US military could not do it on their own without these backup troops. Today, even with these Guard and Reserve troops, we are NOT capable of mounting such a campaign.

This reduction in funding and personnel has resulted in the mass migration of mid level officers from service to country to service to corporation. Our defense, as a nation, depends on Captains and Majors throughout our armed services just as corporations actually run on the efforts of middle management. We are losing these folks in droves!

Our congress spends billions and billions on favored projects that help the people back home while ignoring this hemorrhage and the disgusting state of military life.

I am an unblushing hawk. I suppose that is obvious from the thoughts I have shared in the past as well as what I am saying while on my current soapbox. But, now, after thousands and thousands of deaths, maybe I will be heard at a deeper level.

As a hawk, I have a love of country that extends to my willingness to give my own life in defense of it. I do not mean that to be dramatic, it is a choice I consciously made years and years ago. It means that I believe we exist as the world’s largest democracy and as the world’s most open and free society because we have been willing (in times past anyway) to remain strong and to defend our interests at home and abroad. It means that US soldiers have a code of conduct that far exceeds that of many nations that governs what the exercise of military strength allows. (And, contrary to many talking heads I heard last night, it does not permit the carpet bombing of a country, even after what happened to us yesterday. Little Islamic children have moms and dads too!).

As a hawk, I still stand in awe of today’s soldiers that are willing to give their lives to defend our way of life.

The reason yesterday happened is that we, as a country, have agreed to the systematic and deliberate destruction of our nation’s ability to protect ourselves. Send troops to Afghanistan and hunt the bastard down: we can’t, our troops are stretched to the limit. Go to our spies and find out where “he” is: we can’t, our human intelligence capability has been shredded. Increase inspections of passenger’s bags: Geezz, the wait to get on planes is long enough!! My point is, WE, the NATION are responsible for allowing this to happen.

A final consideration. This is just the beginning. This proves to our enemies that we are weak and vulnerable. That we can be gotten to. It has carried us into a reality that much of the rest of the world has already had to accept. We are simply the news member of the “club” that has endured terrorism on their home soil. Terrorism’s purpose is to simply make you afraid. Let me ask this, will you ever get on a plane, go to the 60th floor of any building or look at the skyline of New York and not have a hair or two stand up on the back of your neck?? This attack was incredibly successful and cheap (at least to date) in human capital – around a dozen dedicated terrorists. There is more to come. We need to accept this and act accordingly.

Now, what should our response be? First, it must begin at home. We must realize that peace and freedom comes at a price. Fund the military (NOT the pork projects, the soldiers). Make the military a viable career for our young people. Take pride in the military so our children see a career of defending our country as viable and wonderful a choice as being a doctor. Insist that our Congress make a commitment that once again our military power will be sufficient enough to give anyone pause before they undertake such an action again. Insist that our Congress rebuild our intelligence community. The fact that such a complex operation could be mounted and carried out without our even having a glimpse that it was coming speaks volumes about our ability to gather information. That must change. And, finally, fund the missile shield. I continue to hear over and over that this method of attack is simply not practical and we need not defend against it. I simply disagree. There is any number of ways a “rogue” country could get a short range missile within launch range given time and money. This attack should make a fairly solid argument that those kinds of enemies do exist and are willing to take the time and spend the money to carry off just such an attack.

I am taking a lot of words to say that this was a lesson of the worst kind. I pray we have learned from it.

No fun today, simply prayers. May all the families who lost loved ones find family and friends to share their burdens today, to love and hold them while they deal with their horrible loss.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Commentary – The fringes of life . . . .


Over time we all reach the fringes of our life . . . . Good days and bad. Days of awareness and days lost in the fog of confused memories, people “known” but not remembered with an intimate knowledge that all that we have known is slipping and fading into that next chapter of our ultimate existence . . . .

I serve a group of folks passing through this stage with the sure knowledge they are not that far ahead of me in the “race”. Once a month or so I take them communion, sit and chat, hold their hands and pray, comfort where I can . . . . Saturday was another such day for me.

Delores is now widowed with kids, grandkids and a very comfortable apartment in our local assisted living community. I provided this same service for years for her and her husband until his kidneys, heart and a weakened body had simply had enough. His loss is still felt by her. She’s the “healthy one” in my group – some problems and macular degeneration take their toll but our conversations are light, filled with shared news of kids, family, friends . . . . It’s a good talk. Communion and shared prayers remind us both of the purpose of my visit – yet final fringes are still distant for her . . . . they are there, yet not pressing . . . .

Roberta lives a few doors down the hallway. My knocks and doorbell rings remain unanswered. Finally I open the door and see her sleeping in her rocker – at least I hope it’s sleep. I talk to her, slowly raising my voice so as to not frighten her. Eyes flutter open, a small smile appears and tremors begin to take control of her body. They are worse than the last time, she looks drawn, tired . . . . Her hearing has also declined again and as I read the gospels for the day I have to speak up, go a bit slower and talk directly at her. “Those were lovely readings” she says, her smile back. Communion followed by the Our Father while holding her hands finish the “official visit” while fetching a glass of juice and the TV remote ends the personal side. Roberta’s fringes are becoming more and more tattered yet there is a gentle acceptance of what is surely coming down her path. . . .

Barb is leaned in her recliner in the TV room. This is her normal spot surrounded by the bustle of the facility and sounds of everything from the Three Stooges to Jeopardy. There is constant stimulation. Our conversations have grown much shorter over the last couple of years. While there is perkiness in her voice, the depth and understanding of the conversation has faded. Communion and prayers make for a short stay, yet both of us seem satisfied. The fringes of her life are diminishing slowly, yet as with all of us, it is a relentless process.

Howard always has a smile. I interrupt a snack of Doritos – he smiles and returns them to a storage compartment under a seat on his walker. We chat about weather; he shows me an ear of corn from his rented property. It’s actually pretty impressive given our lack of moisture this year. His window is filled with recently greened grass, a bird feeder and the traffic of a moderately busy side-street. “How ya doin Howard?” “Not bad for 97 I guess – I’ll make it to 100 easy!” I suspect he will. Communion and prayer continue a life spent on the land and in a church – both the house of God.

Joe is new to the facility – and old customer of my past internet business. He’s unable to receive communion but desperately wants visitors. We chat, he struggles for a thought with the look that says “I know what the hell I want to say – where are the words?!?!?!?” We cover the usual – weather, how well they are taking care of him. His frustrations. Prayers and a firm grip bring some comfort as his life’s fringes are quickly tattering . . . .

Roberta M. is gently crying in the corner in her recliner. Her mouth has been fixed open for months, her response to people a bare minimum. I rub her arm, let her know I’m there, explain my purpose – the tears and crying slowly end – her focus on our shared devotion. Communion is a small speck of Host placed on her tongue. Hands joined in the Lord’s Prayer – she finds her way to the present, joins in the prayer and is peaceful . . . . at least for a spell. I am not sure where she goes afterwards – towards the end of her life’s fringe – caught between here and “there”. . . .

Theresa sits in her chair nearby. She feels angry. She refuses to speak, acknowledging me only with a sideways glance. Yet, communion is accepted and we share the words of the Lord’s Prayer as well. Yet, her burdens do not feel lighter. I pray for her peace . . . .

Finally – Liz. She is not of our parish, yet is a good friend. I sat with her husband the day she was admitted – both of our tears flowing freely. Well over 50 years together, now separated by health, constant confusion and physical weakness – she to move about and him to help her. His voice a mixture of guilt and resignation. Sadness, frustration, anger . . . . It is the future I fear most staring me in the face.

Liz is on the edge of panic – Ken has not appeared for the day. She remembers that he had been sick . . . . now she wonders if he’s coming, if he’s OK. She is on the very razor’s edge of panic . . . . She’s assured that he’s on his way (he had not arrived by the time I left) . . . . I wrap an arm around her – will some of my strength to fill her . . . . The edges of her life are filled with confusion, fear, frustration . . . . I pray for her peace as well.

This is part of the tapestry of all our lives. Some end swiftly and surely while others linger and finally fade . . . . It is our path, our life, our individual tapestry . . . .

And as the years pass . . . . our fringes become frayed . . . .

A gentle reminder to live each and every day. They are – indeed – a precious gift.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Training – Hands, hands . . . . what the heck do I do with my hands????


A few posts back I described Focal Point shooting and how useful it is to reduce the time it takes to engage a threat. Since I was focused on the draw, I honestly didn’t pay much attention to my support arm – an oversight made obvious my friends Keads’ and OldNOFO’s gentle questioning in the comments that went something like: “Why is your support arm so high and far away from your body???”

In fact OldNFO was so curious he actually gave me a call – what a great surprise.

Phone rings: “Keller!!!”

Deep Texas Twang: “Bill??? It’s me, xxxxx, you know OldNFO!” (Have you ever noticed that ALL PILOTS talk like Chuck Yeager??)

And that started be best ½ hour of the day! We have never met, nor had we ever chatted in the past. We covered my thoughts on hand/arm position in short order and then got down to the business of two retired vets getting to know each other. It’s always a good thing to make a new friend – this was no exception! I look forward to our next chat!

So on to the topic at hand – hands, hands . . . . what the heck do I do with my hands??

Perhaps it should be obvious but just to cover the most basic element of support hand/arm position – KEEP YOU DAMN HAND/ARM AWAY FROM THE MUZZLE OF YOUR WEAPON!!!!! Second – these are simply my opinions – other instructors, for other types of training will have their thoughts, ideas and expectations. Listen to them! Over time you will find your own base set of physical mechanics that fit your body, your way of moving, your level of training. The majority of my students are new shooters, unfamiliar with weapons or personal defense, so I have chosen three positions that I encourage them to explore and begin with, to give them a very basic set of defensive positions for their support arm.

These would be: Close Chest, Forearm Vertical and Upper-Arm Extended.

Close Chest: This is the position that the NRA teaches for dominant-arm shooting only. Your support arm’s fist is clenched and placed center chest. This provides the shooter the ability to stiffen their upper body and provide greater support for their extended dominant arm as they shoot. And, it keeps your support hand well away from your weapon’s muzzle.

Forearm Vertical: The shooter takes the forearm of their support arm and places it close to their body in a vertical/horizontal/slanted position to block their attacker. Both the Close Chest and Forearm Vertical position provide the shooter good protection and keeps their arm close to the body so that it stands less of a chance to become something the attacker can grab and use to their advantage.

Upper-Arm Extended: Bend your support arm at a 90 degree angle and hold your support arm horizontal in front of you. This distance, the distance your Upper-Arm Extended provides you maximum “retention” of your support arm. It gives you a great deal of flexibility to block your attacker while not providing them the ability to grab your arm and push/shove you off balance. Once you begin to extend your support arm, you provide your attacker an open invitation to simply reach, grab and pull.

Remember, an attack will likely be within 3 yards, last less than 3 seconds and require you to defend yourself with your support arm while you draw and engage your threat with 3 rounds or less. While there is certainly nothing wrong with working on your fully extended, two handed, solid sight alignment, good sight picture shooting, please - remember - this is an IDEAL situation and one you are not likely to experience.

Gun fights are quick, personal, violent – and at close quarters.

Train that way, learn to defend your “off side” to gain much needed time to draw and engage your attacker . . .

You may well get but a single chance . . . .