Thursday, November 29, 2012

Just the Basics - The Sling


When you start a discussion about rifle slings, you are sure to hit more than a few “hot buttons” in the shooting community. However, past the specific manufacturer, the specific connector system, the specific material – there are basics about a sling that every new shooter should be aware of. And that is what I would like to spend some time in.

First – let’s divide slings into two general categories – combat slings and precision shooting slings. In each of these two environments there is “overlap” of purpose. But the primary purpose of a sling in combat differs significantly from the primary purpose of a sling for precision shooting. First, we will take a walk through combat slings.

Combat Slings

Purpose: There are three primary purposes for a sling in combat – weapon retention, weapon transition and load distribution.

Weapon Retention: In the heat of battle, losing your primary battle weapon is not a good thing. This may happen by simply dropping it while traversing a stream or a steep mountain trail, or it may happen during a close encounter with an enemy that may well try to seize your weapon. A sling will help to secure your weapon to your body in insure it is not “lost”. Retention can also apply to physically securing it closer to your body in the event you need your hands to climb, or you need to pick up a fallen buddy or for any other reason where you need free hands and you don’t want your battle rifle banging around your body.

Weapon Transition: In the heat of battle you hear a deafening “click” . . . . and you need to transition to a secondary weapon – sidearm, knife, fists. By simply letting go of your battle weapon your hands are free to transition to the secondary weapon system. And, when the moment passes, and you have time to repair the weapon malfunction – you will know exactly where your weapon is.

Load Distribution: During an extended patrol, everything begins to weigh more – including your battle weapon. A sling helps distribute part of the weight over a wider amount of your body rather than simply two hands/arms that are tasked with carrying it.

There are two primary variations of the combat sling – a 2-point sling and a single point sling. While there are multiple variations on these two themes, each has primary characteristics.

Two-Point Sling: The sling attaches to two separate sling-points on your weapon. One is usually near the rear of the stock and the second somewhere on the fore-grip. My personal preference is the Vickers padded 2-point sling. It allows for easy adjustment whether I want to snug my weapon to my body during movement or if I want to extend and engage with my weapon. The biggest advantage to a 2-point sling is that when both hands are needed, the weapon can be drawn close to your body so that as your move your hands are free yet your weapon doesn't bounce off your thighs and knees.

Single-Point Sling: A single point sling attached to a single point on your weapon. This is typically to a ring located near the top of the mag well or forward of the stock. It typically has a “shock cord” feel so that while you can keep your weapon close to your body, it easily stretches during engagement without the need for additional adjustments. The biggest fault I find with a single point sling is the amount of movement of the weapon when it is released to hang free on your body. If you do this during movement, you are guaranteed some pretty good sized bruises by the end of the day.

Another big area discussion is “How the heck do I wear this darn thing???” Honestly, to me it’s as clear as day. You want easy access to your secondary weapon system. This is typically a handgun worn on your dominant hand side – therefore, I want that arm to have the most movement possible.  I wear either of these slings by putting my head and SUPPORT arm through the hole. This insures that there are no obstructions on my dominant side between me and my secondary weapon system.

Precision Shooting Sling

Probably the most famous precision shooting sling is the M107. There are a number of crossover characteristics between the M107 and combat 2-point slings. Both are 2-point slings. Both will keep your weapon close to your body during movement. While both are adjustable, the M107 does take a significant amount work compared to many modern 2-point slings.

Where the M107 excels is in providing a significantly improved and more stable shooting platform. While typically limited to either the kneeling or sitting shooting position, the M107 allows an additional point of contact to help secure and stabilize your shooting platform. This is formed through the use of a “Lower Keeper” and the “Long Strap” to form a loop that fits around your support arm bicep. The length of these two elements is adjusted such that, when your support arm bicep rests on your knee, your weapon is drawn into your knee helping to secure it. Through this additional point of contact with your body and the use of your knee as a resting place for the lower part of your bicep – your shooting platform becomes much more stable – allowing for more accurate, long range shots.

There was an excellent article on the M107 written for the Shooters Carnival in October of 2003. Follow the link to read this excellent article.

Slings are a vital part of your battlefield rifle/carbine. Find one that you like and fits you well. Then work with it, use it, train with it.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Training – Support Hand Dexterity Drills


How’s that for a fancy title?? Brings to mind the wizardry of speed drills, speed reloads, tactical reloads – mags flyin’, dump pouches bein’ filled – the smell of burnt gun powder in the air . . . . . . MMMmmmmmm, not so much.

I’m working on an “overdue” home project – the reinsulating of the ceiling in our 2-stall garage. It sits below our bedrooms and, after 30 years, we yanked out all the old stuff, and installed new stuff . . . . except . . . . for the portion under our bedroom. With temps periodically slipping into the single digits at night, I was “encouraged” by my lovely and loving wife to get off my butt and keep her feet warm!!!

So, the other evening, as I am working my way through 4ft sections of 9” batting, stuffing it between the floor joists and stapling the edges of the paper barriers together – I am “artfully balanced” on a short stepladder, half bent backwards, with a hand powered staple gun driving ½ inch staples through the paper overlaps into said floor joists. This was made more challenging because I was attempting to do all the work with my “dominant” hand, rather than using both “dominant” and “support” hands, depending on which could get into position easier. It occurred to me the lengths we will go to, to use our “dominant” hand when it may well be physically easier to us our “support” hand.

There’s been lot’s of hub-bub about moving from words like “strong hand” and “weak hand” to “dominant hand” and “support hand” over the past few years. A bit of a “to –maaaaa – toe” / “ta – may – toe” issue to me, yet there is a grain of truth in it.

I am a strongly right hand dominant person, and as can be evidenced by my efforts recounted above, I will quickly contort my body just so I can use my right hand. Honestly, that’s a silly choice – and one I would suggest your work at.

Getting back to gun fighting (what, you didn’t know that’s what we’re talking about??), consistent and dependable weapons manipulation, magazine reloads, speed-loader reloads are all dependent of your ability to use your “support” hand. This is a skill that can be practiced on a daily basis, not just on the range swapping mags in and out.

Some examples:

Open your locks with your support hand. Find your keys, put the key into the lock and open the door – all with your support hand.

Standing at the range (cooking that is) getting supper ready? Switch hands and do all the mixing, stirring, flipping with your support hand.

Making a cell/phone call? Reach for your phone, open, dial, answer, send a text – all with your support hand.

Doing maintenance around the home? Switch hands and use your support side – even if it takes much longer.

Cleaning your weapons? Again, switch hands and use your support hand to do the work.

Loading magazines? Switch hands.

Use a computer? Use your support hand as your “mouse” hand.

What’s the point of this?? In a gunfight, your survival depends on your body doing what you ask it to. Nothing is more devastating than hearing a “click” and muffing the reload. Or feeling a shooting pain in your dominant shoulder and realizing you are worthless with your support side hand. Any “Support Hand Dexterity Drills” you can do – be they unlocking a door or sending a text or off hand shooting – will help teach your body a skill set that may one day save your life.

Training doesn’t just happen at the range . . . .

It can happen anywhere you use your hands . . . .

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Review – EOTech 517 Holographic Weapons Sight


“Bill – aren’t you the one that keeps harping on “keeping it simple”, and relying on iron sights only and stay away from the techie stuff on your weapons and . . . . . . . . What the heck are you doing with a “Holographic Weapons Sight on your AR??? Trying out for a role in a Star Trek Movie????“

Yep, that’s me, guilty on all charges (except the movie role that is . . .). While I shun “gadget central” weapons systems, one addition that makes sense to me are holographic sights. My choice has been the EOTech 517 and I have been more than pleased with it. I have used it for years on my Panther Arms .308 AR as well as my Colt M4 .22LR trainer – failure free the entire time. So let’s spend some time reviewing the purpose of an aiming system, what my expectations of such a system are, exactly what a “holographic weapons sight” is and then a detailed review of the EOTech 517.

A few thoughts first on the spot you would be in if you were to actually use your AR/AK for personal defense. Your life and those of your family or friends are in immediate and mortal danger. You feel the need to have to engage a threat out to 200m but the most likely engagement will be 50m to 100m. This is not a “concealment” weapon but an offensive weapon that you are using for the purpose of defense. If you have “tacked up” and “locked and loaded” – you are in deep shit, you are in a combat zone (even if it is your back yard, back 40 or the hallway of your home).

Where gunfights with handguns have a fondness for fitting within the “Rule of Three” (3 rounds, 3 seconds, 3 meters), engagements with your carbine will typically happen with a bit more deliberateness. In this environment, information becomes key to your survival – where are they, how many, are they armed, what kind of weapon . . . . The three best friends you have for information gathering are your ears, eyes and your nose. And, of all the different kinds of sighting systems available for your AR/AK, a holographic sight will allow you to “see” your situation easiest while allowing quick and sure sight alignment on your threat.

Just how does it do this? Will, it projects a laser-generated image on a glass screen – a “holographic reticle” that “hangs” out in front of your weapon about a foot. The image looks like this:


At 100 yards, the center dot is approximately 1 MOA or 1” in diameter. The outer ring is 65 MOA or 65” in diameter – the height of a person 5’5” tall. Put the dot on the threat, press the trigger – they will have a very bad day. Since it is a projected image, it makes no difference which eye you see the dot with, nor does it matter the angle you view the holographic window at. If you can see the dot and place it on the threat, you have an accurate sight alignment. This characteristic allows very rapid threat acquisition while keeping both eyes open – a much better situation that allows you to scan with both eyes.

I chose the EOTech because it is built – as my Uncle Ted used to say – like a brick shit house!!! While researching it I read a number of first-person reviews where a troop when over a wall or off a roof and fell directly on his weapon and his EOTech, shattering the glass – and it still maintained proper sight alignment. A pretty rugged piece of gear. The other thing in its favor – it uses AA batteries, a huge plus IMNSHO. So let’s take a closer look at this holographic sight.

EOTech 517 Composite 1

The Protective Hood protects the holographic projection system. The Removable Batter Cap actually holds the batteries and is released by lifting the Battery Cap Latch. The Rail Lock Knob locks it firmly to your picatinny rail system. The Brightness Down Off / 4 hrs. button reduces the brightness of the holographic image and sets the sight to power down 4-hours later. The Brightness Up Off / 8 hrs. button increases the brightness of the holographic image and sets the sight to power down 8-hours later. Depressing BOTH buttons manually turns the system off. The Elevation Adj. moves your point of aim up or down and the Windage Adj. moves your point of aim left or right.

I have mounted my EOTech 517 just forward of my fold-up rear sight.

The advantage of this is two-fold. In the event the EOTech 517 simply dies, I can still use my iron sights by simply looking through the holographic window to acquire my sight picture. And, to confirm the alignment of my EOTech 517, when I flip up the front and rear sight, turn on the 517 and acquire a good sight picture with the iron sights, the red dot in the center of the 517 reticle rests right on top of the front post. Nice!

The EOTech come packaged in a heavy duty nylon box with a foam insert custom cut for the 517 and with holes for spare batteries.


A very tough package for a very tough weapons sight system.

Are there cheap, $80 holographic sights out there? Sure . . . . but, do you want to bet your life on them?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Just the Basics – “Zeroing” an AR-15


“What ya doin??” I ask a shooter with a brand new AR-15 fresh out of the box.

“Sighting in my AR!! Ain’t she a bute??”

She is certainly memorable; quad rail, bipod, flip-up iron sights, mounted scope, mounted flashlight with integrated laser . . . . yep, she’s a bute.

“How’s it goin’?”

“Not worth a damn . . . . been crakin’ on this optic for the past hour and getting nowhere fast!”

“Well, hang in there, she’ll come around.” And I quickly walk away to the 50 yard range.

It’s not going to go well because he doesn’t really understand what he’s there for. So let’s chat a bit about your next trip to the range to zero your AR-15.

New shooters have a fondness for believing that they are aligning their sights with the center of the barrel so they hit the center of a distant target. MMMMmmmmm – not so much. Set aside your AR for a bit and let’s start at the beginning – your ammunition. Just what the heck are you shootin’?? And, just where do you plan to shoot it?? And what is the purpose for your AR-15??

I teach the use of a carbine as a defensive weapon. This will typically be in a CQC situation with most engagements at 50m or less, the remote possibility of a 100m engagement and very, very little chance of a weapon being employed in a defensive situation with the threat being more than 100m away.

Next, what round are you going to be using? The standard NATO 5.56 round has a muzzle velocity of 3020 fps and has a bullet weight of 62gr. As soon as the bullet leaves the barrel gravity begins acting on it (let’s leave wind out of the formula here, that’s a discussion for another time). And, your bullet will begin to drop. The charts for an American Eagle AE223N (a civilian approximation of a standard NATO 5.56 round) are as follows:


The bullet trajectory chart looks like this:


Just what do these charts mean? First, the bullet bleeds velocity quickly. Within the first 100m the bullet has lost around 300fps. However, over 200 yards the round is fairly “flat” with the round being approximately 3 inches below the zero point at 200 yards.

Let’s compare these characteristics with the AE223 round that I bought in a 1,000 round “brick” this past week. The AE223 is a slightly faster round with a 55gr bullet and its characteristics look like this:


While the speed drops here as well, the initial muzzle velocity is 3250 and nearly 2900fps at 100m. The trajectory is a bit “flatter” when compared to the AE223N;


The bullet drops only 2.5 inches over 200m from the 100m zero.

Fine, fine – charts, math, yadda, yadda – just what are we zeroing here anyway??

OK, we are using our weapon at a distance that will typically be 100m or less. For me, I was using a AE223 round. I wanted it to be “zeroed” at 100m. This will give me a weapon that will hit within 3in of “center” between 0-200m. More than effective for any threat I may encounter.

You will note from the trajectory chart that when the bullet leaves the muzzle it begins to climb. For a weapon zeroed for 100m, it is at that distance that your bullet will “kiss” the center of your target. Once past the 100m point, the bullet begins to drop and is about 2.5in below center at 200m.

When you are “zeroing” your weapon, you are setting your sights (iron in my case) such that you are compensating for the flight of the bullet so that, at your chosen distance, there is “zero” drop and you hit the center of your target. Note that if you would decide to “zero” at 200m, or 300m your sight would need to be adjusted accordingly.

The same goes for your bullet as well – heavier bullets, faster drop, lower velocity – all of which affect your impact point.

So, we have chosen our optimal fighting distance – 100m. We have chosen our ammunition – AE223. And we have chosen our sighting system – iron sights with a post front sight and a small diameter rear “peep” sight. Let’s get started.

Next, select a Zero Target for the range you want to zero at. You can find them on the website at this link. Note that they acknowledge the different types of rounds. These targets will get you very close with some final tweaking being needed for your specific ammunition once you are essentially “on target”. Note that these are 25m targets – and will save you a lot of walking time back and forth down range. Especially if you are zeroing for longer distances – 200m or 300m.

Set the base plate for the front post level with the “bottom” of the notch on your front sight. This is done by depressing the locking post on your front sight and turning the base plate indicated by the location of your round hit. You will either need to move it up or down.


For the rear sight, the starting point is the center of the hole in the “peep” sight being aligned with the center of the rear sight. This may be facilitated by gradients being etched on the sight or by simply counting the number of “clicks” it takes for the “peep” hole to traverse the rear sight. Then, divide the number of “clicks” by two and then set the “peep” sight to the center of the rear sight.


You are now ready for your first 3-round group. Find the center of the group and adjust accordingly based on the location of the hits and the instructions on your Zero Target. Here is my alignment target and my groups:


My first 3-round group was well above the target. 3-clicks CCW brought it down to #2, 6-clicks CCW brought it down to #3 and another 3-clocks CCW brought it down to #4. I had 1 flyer in #3 group and 1 flyer in #4 group which I simply ignored. Notice that there was no adjustments needed for “windage” (left/right adjustment).

My “Zeroing” for 100m is complete.

I did use a “bench rest” shooting position for this adjustment. On our range, I used a portable table set at the 75ft line for this alignment. Here is what the shooting position looked like:


So, how did the puppy shoot after this? Well the boy and I did some “cognition” drills – your shooting buddy calls out target and round count and initiates your round by a command like “SHOOT” or “FIGHT” and you engage the targets in the order specified. Here is my first drill with my new “zeroed” AR-15:


Bill Target 50ft - 1

NOTE TO SELF   –   when you set your “zero” for Point Of Aim – don’t use 6 o’clock when you engage your target. Heavy sigh . . . . head in the game, head in the game . . . .

We shot number of cognition drills checking for consistent groups, whether the sights remained firmly attached to the rails and just general weapon operation. I was more than pleased with the results.

So there you go. “Zeroing” your AR-15 platform isn’t rocket science. Still, you have to be aware of what you are doing, why you are doing it and have a known, consistent process to get a solid final result.  Give this a try the next time you go to the range to “Zero” your AR-15.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Personal - Endings


I’m watching Steve across his desk.  He’s obviously not had much sleep – he’s tense, on edge.  I’m there to work on his wireless internet link to my AP downtown.  Honestly, we’re only acquaintances, not close friends.  But I can’t help but ask . . . .

“You doin’ OK?”

Sadness, weariness, fear stare back at me.  “No, not really . . . . my wife was just diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma.  We’re going to the doctor tomorrow to find out our options.”

I have years of experience with this particular cancer – at the time my wife was a 20 year survivor.  We have poked our noses into Hell – and walked out.  So I share our story with Steve, no guarantees (we saw plenty of folks die), yet we are a success story – and a glimmer of hope for Steve.

And so began a slightly closer friendship.  We’re a small town so we would see each other frequently and our conversations usually revolved around how his wife was doing.  Chemo.  Nausea. Weakness.  Healing.  Strength. Hope.  Success!  She’s been cancer free for a decade now – ten years of renewed life with Steve . . . .

Until today . . . A note on Loel’s Facebook page . . . . “We’ve lost a local business leader today, he’ll be missed.”  A quick check of our local on-line paper gave his name – Steve, 62.  The questions are slowly being answered;  indigestion – hospital trip – didn’t make it – probably heart attack.


We all face endings – you, me, friends, family – they come to us all.

I’ll miss Steve, his ease, our bond through his wife’s illness, his contributions to our community . . . . he actually made a difference in the life of our community.


Safe travels Steve . . . .

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thank You!!!!


Who ever the 20,001 person was to view one of my pages, – thank you!  That was my personal goal for my first year, reached just a bit early.

I’m glad some folks find value here, I hope your are learning something and I appreciate your comments – that is the drug that keeps a blogger bloggin’.

Again, thank you!


Commentary – Personal Defense as we lose our Moral Compass . . .


"We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion . . . Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." John Adams

Moral: a: of or relating to principles of right and wrong in behavior, expressing or teaching a conception of right behavior, conforming to a standard of right behavior, sanctioned by or operative on one's conscience or ethical judgment, capable of right and wrong action

Compass: a device for determining directions

As I have said in past posts, I seem to be rapidly approaching “old fart” status. And, like “old farts” do, I can often wax poetic of days gone by . . . . “Why back in my day . . . .” the story begins. My kids cringe just a bit (if they are lucky enough to be around when the story begins), Mrs. B closes her eyes, slightly dips her head and shakes it just a bit (she has HEARD THEM ALL BEFORE I will be told later). Many of my stories tend to be about my youth, before I left home for the military, foreign lands, and the lifetime full of experiences that have resulted in the fellow that is tapping away on the keyboard.

But throughout this journey I have noticed a disquieting trend – at least in my humble opinion – the gradual loss of our moral compass as a society, a tendency towards the belief that we are accountable to no one or no higher power other than the men in black robes on the benches of our nation’s courts. A wish to be a completely secular society with right and wrong being written on the pages of local, state and federal statutes rather than on our hearts and souls. How did we get here?? To a point in time where violence walks our lands, dependence on a little plastic card with the letters HHS emblazoned across it that sucks us dry and where we place our hand on a bible to swear we will tell the truth – yet professing the truth in the book in our public schools is a criminal act.

Honestly, there are thousands of reasons for our current state of affairs, and while tempted to “wax poetic” on my thoughts on the subject, there is little value in it. You will have to trust me that the world of my youth – the 50s through July 1968 – was safer, much more rooted in a faith in something / someone much larger that would hold us accountable for the actions of our life. Since then – again IMNSHO – we have gone severely off the rails. A topic that could be, and has been, written on and written on, and written on . . . . But, to get to the point of it all . . . . what does our current state of affairs regarding the direction of our moral compass as a nation have to do with our own personal defense and how we approach that subject. What does it all mean? Let’s chat about that for a bit.

Pure, raw physical violence comes easily: Already, the day following the day we all celebrate the many blessings we are thankful for, there are stories of shoppers beating other shoppers, threatening them with violence over toys, phones, clothes, videos, music . . . . violence comes easily. If you are confronted with a situation where a predator is intent on harming you – there is every reason to believe that it can quickly escalate to a profoundly violent encounter. Be vigilant, live with Cooper’s color code or the NRA’s Levels of Awareness.

Violence and physical attack are now a national sport: The knockout game spans our country. From college athletes to street thugs, it is a way to earn “cred” with you “peeps”. Killing has become an entry requirement, a line item on the resume of someone wishing to join many of the gangs that riddle our country. Do not believe these things simply happen “to someone else”, they can easily happen to you, regardless of where you live. Rural communities like mine to major metropolitan areas where people have been stripped of their right to personal defense are all subject to this “sport”.

An expectation to be taken care of: I find this single item the most disheartening and threatening change in my lifetime. It is the expectation that someone else will “handle it”. Someone else will put money on my “card”, food on my table, give me a place to live, give me a phone – TV – internet – transportation. Someone else will watch and feed my children. In less than 125 years we have gone from a nation where pioneers that failed died – to a nation where people can choose to do nothing but sit in front a TV can have thousands of dollars a year magically appear on a plastic card in their pocket. From a personal defense POV – these people will NOT BE HAPPY when this magic stops . . . . and it will stop. Either from simple lack of funds or hyper inflation . . . . “that which can not be sustained, will not be”. Be ready for this. Do not let the shock of the violence that will surely follow this event paralyze you. Sadly I think I will live to see this. But the generation that is my granddaughters will – again IMNSHO – be the one tasked with confronting this event. Train your children well. Begin today.

It’s not my “fault”: Responsibility for failure always resides elsewhere. In fact, failure is not allowed today. Schools are dumbed down, sports are being converted to “no one loses” events for our children, employers are the ones responsible for poor pay rather than the poorly educated employee. (and please, if you have a Masters in Puppetry – you frickin’ DESERVE the debt and you DESERVE to be jobless). Lack of responsibility feeds the anger of failure and the anger at the lack of response from an already overstressed government to “make my life better”. Defensively, if you are “successful” you will be targeted. While you certainly have a right to “stand out” in a crowd – if you wear $1,000 suits, drive $60,000 cars and frequent high crime areas – you are “pokin’ the bear” and violence will find you. Warriors, while fully prepared to fight, attempt to blend in and avoid areas where violence comes easily.

“They have it, You want it, I’ll take it from them AND give it to you!! : This was the mantra of President Obama’s campaign during the 2012 election. He will be expected to follow through on that. I fully believe that at this point in time in our history – November 2012 – he, and Congress, will deliver on that campaign promise. “The Rich” will be gutted and the result is predictable. Less investment, few start-ups, still fewer jobs, higher unemployment, more on the welfare rolls, more dependence on the little plastic card, more anger and the lack of stuff, more demands to take still more from “The Rich” – which will lead to less investment, fewer start-ups, still fewer jobs . . . . See where this is going? Defensively – someone will need to be “to blame”, and that someone will be YOU. If you are an independent, successful, self-sufficient individual, you are being made into the enemy. Get ready for when the “have not’s” come knocking on your door – and they will come. You have all the time in the world to prepare today. Do not hesitate.

Without our moral compass, without the sure knowledge of right and wrong – the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the belief that all men are created equal and are gifted, by their Creator, the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness simply ends.

I always hate it when someone points out problems but offers no solutions. So - some thoughts on that as well.

Be a moral person: Go to church, develop a faith is a Creator that is bigger than you and will hold you accountable at the end of your life.  I truly believe this with all my heart – I will stand in judgment and be expected to account for my life.  I pray my belief in a merciful God and a redeeming Jesus is well placed – I am not getting “there” on my own.

High expectations: Expect success from yourself and your kids. Don’t’ beat yourself up when you fall short, we all do – but correct, adjust, learn and succeed.

Learn to protect yourself, your family, your friends: HELP IS NOT COMING!!! YOU ARE ALL THERE IS TO DEFEND YOURSELF!!! THE PERSON IN THE MIRROR IS YOUR ONLY ANSWER!!! I believe this with all my heart.

Learn: Everything – math, science, philosophy, communications, survival skills, shooting skills, combat skills, medical skills. Learn today’s technology . . . . as well as that of your great grandparents.  Know the difference between ignorance and stupidity.  We are all ignorant about something – learn it.  If you’re stupid, well you are simply screwed.

Be generous: Be generous with your love, your heart, your soul, your time, your talents, your money. They are not now – nor have they ever been – in limited supply. The tighter they are held, the more meager they become. The more they are given the more abundant they are.

You will not change the world this way. You will change you – and your family. You will steel yourself and them for the coming storm. You will give them a fighting chance.

And, at the bottom of the pile, that is all we really, truly deserve . . . . a chance.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Personal – Happy Thanksgiving!!!


Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  In Iowa my friends have all completed their harvests for the year.  Some OK, many very poor – yet they are all thankful for what this year has brought.  Farmers teach many great lessons to those of us not plying that craft – and being truly thankful (regardless of the size of a year’s harvest) one of them.

Our family continues to be blessed -

  • A new granddaughter this Spring
  • Good health all around
  • The ability to work on a daily basis
  • An abundance of loving friends
  • A strong faith community that freely shares God’s love
  • And much, much more

Personally, through more grumbling than I probably should do, I have been blessed with a customer base that remains loyal and more “friend” than client.  I’ve made many new friends through this little space on the Internet that feel like family after a few short months.  I continue to enjoy the love of a wife that has seen fit to share my life for over 46 years – a deeply humble thought and something I am grateful for each and every day.  And I am blessed with children who understand the love of a good mate and how to return that love and with grandchildren who truly understand how to exhaust old Grandpa and share their love with him.

And finally, I am grateful for all those on duty worldwide so we may enjoy a peaceful and secure day today – and every day.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Finally, for my daughter – “Thank you God for carrots!!”    Smile 

Enjoy your day folks, make it a good one!


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Just the Basics - Remington 870 Tactical Shotgun


A shotgun is an excellent close-quarter defensive weapon. It provides solid fire power, it’s less dependent on an accurate sight picture and it can present a frightening threat to an attacker.

It can handle a wide array of munitions – from a highly accurate rifled slug typically weighing 1 ounce to bird shot. Options can also include Buckshot and a full range of shotgun BB sizes as well. While it is tempting to go with a slug or Buckshot for defensive ammunition in your home, lighter weight shot between 5 and 7 provide good deterrence but much less risk of penetration of your home’s walls. This can do a great deal to protect family members who may be taking up cover or concealment in other rooms.

When the word “Tactical” is wedded to the name, the implication is that the weapon is primarily designed as either a defensive or offensive weapon to be used against a human threat. Typically they are outfitted with pistol grips, augmented alignment system, perhaps a collapsible stock, picatinny rail systems to mount lights, lasers or additional fore-grips. The Remington 870 Tactical Shotgun shown is my personal tactical shotgun and is a very basic model.

The basic components of the shotgun are as follows:


The Butt Plate rests against the shooters shoulder. It may be replaced by a Recoil Pad to lessen the effect of the shotguns recoil on the shooter’s body.

The Stock provides three major weld points to the shooter’s body; The Comb is welded to the shooter’s cheek, the Butt Plate to the shooter’s shoulder and the Pistol Grip is firmly grasped by the shooter’s dominant hand.

The Trigger releases the firing pin and fires the round contained in the shotgun’s chamber. The Trigger Guard protects the Trigger from accidental discharges due bumping against brush, clothing or other items in the area. The Safety prevents the Trigger from being pressed to the rear unless it has been released by the shooter. (NOTE: Safeties are mechanical devices and can fail!!!)

The Action Bar Release, when depressed, allows the Fore-End to move to the rear. This is typically activated to allow the Fore-End to be repeatedly operated to unload the shotgun.

The Loading Port provides the ability to load shotgun shells into the Tubular Magazine.

The Sling Point provides a connection point for a Sling.

The Muzzle is the region in the immediate area at the front of the Barrel.

The Barrel provides form and shape to the pattern off the shot as it leaves the Barrel. It may also be rifled to provide spin a slug increasing both its accuracy and range.

The Front Bead acts as the front sight of a shotgun. The shooter’s eye acts as the rear sight when their cheek is firmly welded to the comb and the shooter is looking down the Barrel to the Front Bead. Tactical Shotguns may also use traditional Front Sights and Flip-Up Rear Sights or even a Red-Dot sight.

The Barrel Guide Ring provides proper spacing between the Barrel and the Tubular Magazine and holds both rigid allowing easy use of the pump action of the Fore-End to both eject spent hulls or to load a new shotgun shell into the chamber.

The Ejection Port provides an opening that allows the spent hull to be ejected, making room for a new shell.

The Remington Model 870 is a Pump Action shotgun. The Fore-End is “pumped” to the rear – this opens the Ejection Port, removes a shell from the Tubular Magazine and places it is the breech (the region exposed when the Ejection Port is opened). Pumping the Fore-End forward closes the Ejection Port, forces the shell into the chamber at the rear of the Barrel and cocks the firing pin in preparation for firing. The pump shotgun must be “pumped” between each round that is fired until the Tubular Magazine is empty.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Just the Basics – The Springfield Armory M6 Scout Survival Rifle / Shotgun


When you talk about a true “Survival Rifle” you enter an entirely different realm. These are weapons of last resort – never really meant to be used but, when they are required, they must be 100% reliable. This implies a number of characteristics that set them apart from a “standard” TSHTF weapon.

  • Minimal moving parts
  • Extreme durability
  • Simple operation
  • Exceptionally Reliable

One of the icons of this class of weapon is the Springfield Armory M6 Scout Survival Rifle.


The M6 was a standard component of survival kits for Air Force aircrews beginning in the 1950s through the early 1970s. It is a beast. Weighing in at nearly 5 pounds, it is 34 inches long when assembled. The upper barrel is either chambered for a .22LR or a .22 Hornet round. The lower barrel is chambered for a .410 shotgun shell.

The hammer is manually cocked, the barrel is manually selected and an oversized trigger accommodates easy firing – even with a gloved hand.

An ammo magazine built into the stock, and secured by a locking cover, holds an emergency supply of .410 shells and .22 cartridges.

If you are looking for a last-ditch survival weapon, the M6 should be at the top of your list!

The Rifle Barrel is the component that allows the bullet to exit the carbine after it is fired and adds a spin to the bullet to increase its accuracy. The Shotgun Barrel channels and patterns the shot expelled from the .410 shotgun shells.

The Muzzle is the region immediately at the end of the Barrel where the bullet exits.

The Front Sight, used in conjunction with the Rear Sight is used to acquire an accurate sight picture prior to engaging a threat or taking game.

The Trigger is the component that releases the firing pin.

The Trigger Guard is provided to protect the shooter from an unintended discharge due to clothing, brush or other item the Trigger may bump against.

The Hammer is manually cocked, preparing the weapon to fire. The Barrel Selector is used to select which barrel will be fired when the Trigger is pressed.

The Ejector removes the spent cartridges when the Breach Lock is lifted and the weapon is broken open. The Pivot Pin is used to assemble the Stock Group and Barrel Group into a full sized weapon. These may be disassembled for easy storage in your survival kit.

This is a highly accurate weapon allowing the shooting of small game to 50 yards and beyond. As a defensive weapon, while better than nothing, its slow rate of fire would make it a less than optimal weapon. However, it would make sense to include a couple .410 slug rounds as part of the Ammo Magazine’s cache of ammunition.

These weapons have a long, proud history and are well worth adding to any survival kit.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Commentary – When Big Systems Fail


The date is July 11, 2011, around 05:10. I am at the very edge of consciousness, just prior to my internal body clock’s “GET THE HELL UP” alarm. Susie is still fully zonked from her mid-shift at the hospital, only been asleep for about 4 hours and the cat is curled at the corner of the bed. All is well with our early-morning world.

A whisper of a wind begins . . . . and becomes a rage!! In mere seconds the sound of snapping limbs and tree trunks shatters our morning. For only the 2nd or 3rd time we take refuge in our basement. This is prime tornado country, Iowa posts over 100 every year. In 30 years we’ve never been hit full on – ever. Close – yes. I actually drove under one once in one of their rain squalls – yet never a hit.

This is not a tornado. The wind is constant – not gusts. It is also increasing. We can see rain being blown through the caulked seams around our front windows – those facing directly into the wind. And still the wind gets stronger. 10 minutes, the wind builds . . . 15 minutes the wind builds . . . 20 minutes the wind seems to have peaked . . . . .

Suddenly . . . . complete silence . . . .

Later the decision is a straight line wind front. In our location we had about 10 minutes of 100 mph wind, 5 minutes of 120 mph wind and finally 5 minutes of 140 mph wind and then silence.

We gingerly climbed upstairs fully expecting to see roof or windows or doors missing – they were not. I quick peek outside showed most of our trees were missing or heavily damaged. Power was out – not a good sign for a 100+ forecast for the day, yet we were safe and secure. We headed back to bed.

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About 5 minutes later there’s a knock at the front door – our neighbors Dan and Brie (still in boxers and jammies) with a terribly concerned look on his face. “Are you two ok?” – the firefighter / EMT in his voice coming through loud and clear. We assured him we were – then we ask in return how they had faired. They were devastated – roof gone, large machine shed (50x80) a shambles in our woodlot. Still, no injuries.

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We are completely “tree locked” a couple hundred trees from the woodlot we all live in now block the roads. In our small community 3 miles away 70% of all trees now cover homes, yards and roads. Power is out for 10s of miles around. Grain bins that will store the 100,000s of bushels of corn and beans of the coming harvest are simply twisted metal. All major roads entering our small community are blocked by down power lines, farm equipment and destroyed buildings that are scattered around – travel is simply locked down.

It is at this point that you realize fully and completely – “Big Systems” Fail.

In this context “Big Systems” mean State and Federal Systems. They simply cannot marshal forces quickly enough to respond in any meaningful manner. For us, within an hour those of us in our woodlot who had chainsaws (read EVERYONE here) and a neighbor farmer with tractors half the size of my home simply attacked the problems. Roads were cleared (yes, county roads), driveways, trees were lifted from houses, our neighbors belongings were loaded into trailers loaned by friends and moved when possible . . . . and while the “Big Systems” were struggling to get up to speed – the “Little Systems” of friends and neighbors set about the job of real recovery . . . .

It took just over a week for power to be restored.  Dan and Brie moved into their new home 13 months later.  The replacement of our roof was completed 5 months after the storm.  Final recover of our community?  It will take generation to grow the thousands of beautiful Maple trees that lined our streets.  Recover is a work in progress – even after 18 months.

Fast Forward to yesterday - a breakfast after Mass and I’m sitting next to Ross, a onetime/shortime boyfriend of my daughter’s many years ago. She fixed him up with his now-wife, Crystal. They are surrounded by 3 pretty darn active kids. He works for the local power/gas company and had just returned from 2-weeks on Long Island – helping his “neighbors”. That’s just how Iowan’s think – you’re in trouble?? We’re on the way!!

I ask him how his trip was. “I’m glad I live in Iowa!!!” comes the response. And I listen to stories of mismanagement, dangerous short cuts, residents throwing debris and rotten food at utility workers as they do their best to help these folks out. He speaks in wonderment of piles of rubble that needs to be moved and people sitting around, staring at it, waiting for “the government” to come and fix it.

He looks me in the eye – a mix of sadness, disbelief, anger shows through – and says “Bill, it isn’t coming!”

“Big Systems” Fail – it is their nature. They are not designed to respond or manage the micro-issues; clean your driveway, pull the limbs off your home, scoop out the water, fix the windows . . . . that is best handled by the folks in the midst of the debris. That’s what shovels, rakes, wheelbarrows, chainsaws, axes, handsaws – just good old basic tools – are for. And, human muscle, human sweat, human effort, human work.

Yet, while the failure of “Big Systems” is easily seen and “explained” , it is seldom “fixed” . . . .  but it’s the stories of the failure of “Little Systems” – the people/community/groups of friends that is most disheartening to me.

From a personal defense POV, I teach the folks that come to my classes HELP IS NOT COMING!!!! YOU ARE THE ANSWER, YOU ARE YOUR ONLY DEFENDER!!! And so it is in the aftermath of Sandy. When a person looks in the mirror – they see the only person who is going to help them.

If we have truly lost the individual desire to be responsible for ourselves, to help ourselves, to dig our way out of disasters like Sandy . . . . if we have truly become a society of “the government will help me” and then we throw rotten food and trash at the folks that show up to lend a hand . . . . we are a lost nation.

“Big Systems” Fail – each and every day is minor and spectacular (Sandy, Katrina) ways.

You are a “Little System” – you can guard against total and complete societal  failure  –  you are our last defense . . . .


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Range Trip – 11/18/2012


I’m going to initiate a new “category” today – Range Trips. This will hold summaries of my range trips in a more appropriate location than just lumping it into training.

While I enjoy a “just to blast away” range trip as much as the next guy, I seem to migrate to the focused trip more often than not. I may work on my marksmanship, draw from an open-carry holster, draw from concealment, draw from concealment under winter clothing or draw from concealment with movement. I might use a single weapon or take a couple. So as part of the header I’ll do a quick inventory of what I am taking, what I am going to work on, post the final “tale of the tape” target, post a summary of the trip and some thoughts about what I learned. All of this is in hope that there is some nugget contained in this post to help you with your training.

Inventory: Today I shot one of my Ruger 22/45s (black, open sights only) and my carry Springfield 1911 .45 with night sights. In the Ruger I shot CCI tactical .22 ammunition and in the 1911 I shot Blazer FMJ rounds.

Clothing: It was in the very low 50s today so my cover garment was simply a long, long-sleeve pull-over shirt. My weapons were warn and drawn from the 4 o’clock position

Goals: Clean draws, time to first shot as close to 2 seconds as I can get them. An 80% hit rate (hit meaning within or touching the outlined of the silhouette on a “Law Enforcement Target” SEB Special Weapons Team target) or within or touching the border of the circle, triangle and square outlines.

Distances: Distances would include 15,21,30,50,75 and 150 foot distances. All shots were free standing.

Engagements: The marksmanship engagements would be from low ready and be contained on the circle, square and triangle outlines.

One engagement from the 50’ line would be engaged using 2-Hand, Full Extension, Focal Point Shooting. The remaining engagement from that distance and beyond would use 2-Hand, Full Extension, Aimed Fire. All remaining engagements beyond 50ft would use 2-Hand, Full Extension, Aimed Fire. All engagements between 15ft and 30ft, other than the marksmanship drills, would use 2-Hand, Full Extension, Focal Point Shooting.

Results for the day: In order of fire, the results for the day were as follows.

#5 Triangle 15ft 2H, FE, Aimed 9/10 Rounds 90%

#6 Triangle 21ft 2H, FE, Aimed 9/10 Rounds 90%

#1 Circle 30ft 2H, FE, Aimed 10/10 Rounds 100%

#2 Circle 30ft 2H, FE, Aimed 10/10 Rounds 100%

#3 Square 50ft 2H, FE, Aimed 10/10 Rounds 100%

#4 Square 50ft 2H, FE, Aimed 9/10 Rounds 90%

Moving on to draw and engagement from concealment. All .22 engagements were with two magazines and a total of 20 rounds. The two engagements with the .45 were with 4 magazines and 28 rounds for the first engagement and 27 rounds for the second engagement (loading issues with the second magazine lead to one round being discarded). The results were as follows:

#1 .22 21ft 2H, FE, FPS 20/20 Rounds 100%

#2 .45 21ft 2H, FE, FPS 22/28 Rounds 79%

#3 .45 21ft 2H, FE, FPS 25/27 Rounds 93%

#4 .22 50ft 2H, FE, FPS 12/20 Rounds 60%

#5 .22 50ft 2H, FE, Aimed 19/20 Rounds 95%

#6 .22 75ft 2H, FE, Aimed 18/20 Rounds 90%

#7 .22 75ft 2H, FE, Aimed 19/20 Rounds 95%

#8 .22 150ft 2H, FE, Aimed 12/20 Rounds 60%

Some conclusions:

The training with the .22/.45 is just as valuable as training with my carry 1911. There is little difference between the hit percentages. However, I did notice that my time-to-first-shot was about ½ second longer with the 1911 than with the .22/.45. My only thought is simply the difference in mass between the two weapons causing the 1911 to be a bit slower to bring up on target. I’ll keep an eye on this to see who it goes.

My time-to-first-shot hovered in the 1.9 second range for the .22/.45 and around 2.5 to 3 second range for the 1911. You will notice that once I reached 50ft with the use of Focal Point Shooting, my accuracy dropped radically. You have MORE time at that distance, use it. Switching to aimed fire for the remaining 50ft and 75ft engagements brought my accuracy back up quickly.

My accuracy again suffered at the 150ft range. I only had time for a single engagement at this distance – that are the final holes in the “Tale of the tape” target seen below. My natural adjustment would have been to elevate my aim point to move my low hits up. Still, these are things a shooter has to remember, not correct. Heavy sigh – stuff to remember, stuff to remember . . . .

And that will be one final purpose of these range reports – a reminder of things to do differently on my next trip.

“The Tale of the Tape”

range trip 11-18-12

I realize most are not as anal as I am about their range trips. And a trip to just make holes is nice once in a while. However, for your “business trip” to the range – plan it, execute the plan, document it and then review it.

It’s one of the best ways I know to accelerate your learning!

Training - Fastest through “The Loop” Wins


There was a puzzle contained in the tally of air-combat stats during the Korean War that a young Air Force pilot by the name of John Boyd was curious about. Even though the MIG-15 and the F-86 were very similar (though the MIG-15 could turn faster, the F-86 flew faster), the F-86 won 90% of the dogfights. Why?? As he dug into the airframes he noticed one striking difference – the MIG had manual flight controls but the F-86 had hydraulic assisted flight controls. Over the course of the dogfight, the MIG pilot became fatigued much quicker because of his physical input into controlling his aircraft. A fatigued pilot is a dead pilot. The F-86 pilot could simply perform more maneuvers in the same amount of time because the hydraulics greatly reduced the fatigue factor. The MIG pilot was forced to react to the F-86 rather than controlling the engagement allowing F-86 pilots to win 90% of their engagements.

The “mechanics” of the F-86 allowed the pilot to take advantages of a design flaw of the MIG by applying a warriors mindset much more quickly. A warrior – even in the heat of battle – will remain conscious of what is occurring around them. They will continually “dial” this into their “situation” – location, round-count, location of fire, deployment of his comrades, weapons being employed. A warrior will then choose method of battle to fit this new or changed or changing situation. This may be conscious or simply a reaction based on years of combat and training. Finally – a warrior acts, decisively, furiously, with all appropriate force. After his attack (or counter attack) . . . . he will repeat this process again – he will see what’s happening around him, he will what he had to respond, he will pick an appropriate response and he will do it. And he will do this again, and again, and again until he wins the engagement or is carried from the battlefield.

He will Observe his surroundings and the battle. He will Orient these results with his current situation. He will Decide on his next move. And, he will Act.

John Boyd took the spirit of the warrior, the observations of a fighter pilot and the stubbornness of a man possessed of a passion to be the absolute best at his craft and created a battlefield philosophy that has come to be known by its acronym – the O.D.D.A. Loop.

Fine, fine – how the heck does a “warrior’s” response in combat apply to little old me walking down the street with a couple prospective bad guys tagging along a half block behind me?? Let’s spend a bit of time on each element first, that add them to your survival skills.

Observe: Fighter pilots in particular – though virtually any pilot – develop a “swivel neck” very early in their careers. If you don’t see a threat – you die. Simple really. In the early days of dogfight-craft, pilots had open cockpits and silk scarves around their neck to stave off massive chafing from turning their head constantly to scan for threats. Heck even in my days in Vietnam I knew pilots hat had a fondness for something soft around their neck to reduce their wear and tear. The other thing that has stuck around – the “open” cockpit. Obviously today’s pilots aren’t exposed to the force of a Mach-two wind, yet the canopy on virtually all top-end fighters are “bubble” canopies. They provide a maximum viewing area to insure the pilot has the best chance to catch an on-coming threat.

You need to develop a “swivel neck” as well. Put the phone down (get an ear piece instead), keep your eyes up, scan the area around you. Look who is around the cars in the parking lot, or standing in the doorway, or coming toward you down the sidewalk, or sitting in a car on your street . . . . I’m not asking you to be a paranoid freak (well . . . maybe a “little” paranoid), but I am asking you to be observant of your surroundings. Pay attention.

Orient: Orientation is a little simpler for a fighter pilot. A scan of the boards will tell him where he is, what his weapons load is, how much fuel he has and the location of a suspect aircraft or a missile threat or a good guy that needs help. . . . Because if his/her current mission, the focus is much narrower than it is for you walking down the street.

Through your observations you notice what you think is a developing threat. It is time to “orient” yourself. Where are your “exits”, are their friendly areas nearby that you could move towards? Do you have a companion along that you need to share your concerns with? Where are your weapons – knife, flashlight, pepper spray, gun, spare ammunition? What are you wearing – can you run easily or will you need to shuck your shoes if need be? Do you have your kids along? Have you gamed such a situation with them so they know how to react? Will they obey your commands?

Such thoughts are why I use the phrase “you have all the time in the world now” to plan or hit the range or prepare is some other way for this exact instant. Use it.

Decide: For a pilot on a combat mission, the decision to engage and kill an enemy aircraft or enemy tanks or enemy missile platforms or enemy troops can be much easier than you deciding to engage the two suspected bad guys tagging along a half of block behind.

The pilot who overthinks his decision is a dead pilot. If you get stuck in the Observe/Orient cycle and fail to move on you, too could well end up in a Ziploc.

Decide on a specific course of action at that specific instant. Decide to move into a building, between a pair of cars, towards a group of people – make a decision.

Act: MOVE!!!!!!! Act out your decision!

And then . . . . immediately enter “the Loop” again. Perhaps you determine there is nothing to worry about – the threat you saw was simply two buds bar hoppin’. Or perhaps your fears are confirmed and their steps continue to follow yours.

If that is the case, you can move much more quickly to the “Decide” step because much has already been confirmed by their reaction to your first action. This is “getting inside the loop” – you are forcing them to react to you rather than being at their mercy. Act first – make them respond to you – stay focused – remain “aware” of your surroundings.

And, if need be – engage them directly. If you cannot escape to safety, lying to yourself that surely this is not happening will insure you have a very bad day. Engagement is always the option of last resort for you are not a combat pilot on a mission deep in enemy territory. Yet, you HAVE become a warrior. You are well conditioned, you are skilled in the use of your defensive weapons (everything from a tactical pen to a flashlight or the weapon on your hip or in your purse). If your very life – or the life of your spouse or child or friend – in is in mortal danger you are “weapons free”. Act with violence, with overwhelming force, with deadly accuracy.

The fastest through “the loop” wins . . . .

. . . it’s that simple . . . .

It’s better to be quick than to be dead.

Training matters – work on your skills each and every day, without fail.

Oh, if I haven’t said it enough . . . .


Friday, November 16, 2012

Just the Basics – Movement Part 2


In an earlier post, I covered the basics of movement. I promised a range video to demonstrate the items discussed – and that is what is contained in this video – actual shooting with movement.

A couple cautions and editorial comments:

First, all cameras were remotely operated. NEVER place yourself in front of a weapon just so you can “get a better shot” because . . . . well . . . . you may actually GET SHOT!!

Practice these movements on your dry fire range first. Use of a LazerLyte round can give you great feedback on your shot placement. Or, use an airsoft pistol – it is one of the three weapons I believe every shooter should have in their bag.

Finally, speed is not the purpose of this video – but presentation of my thoughts on movement and shooting. Should you choose to add these drills to your bag of skills, start slow and deliberate – then work on speed.

And – remember – you have all the time in the world to reholster your weapon. Keep your head in the game for your entire range session – make sure you leave with the same number of holes you arrived with.

About the drills – they revolve around 5 directions of movement; lateral, 2 o’clock, 5 o’clock, 7 o’clock and 10 o’clock. Your purpose for movement is to force your attacker to react to YOU rather than you reacting to HIM. And, it can rapidly create (or maintain) distance from your attacker as he/she attempts to close the distance.

The actual act of shooting your attacker is truly an attempt to “change their mind” about continuing their attack. A couple of “quick hits” will go a long way toward buying your more time to escape, evade or to place more rounds on your threat.

Bottom line – movement is life, playing “range target” insures your family collects on your life insurance.

Movement Part 1 provided a clear explanation of the terms and the basics for movement in each direction. Yet, words – when you are trying to define a specific act or movement – many times falls short. A video can add a great deal of clarity to a subject and that is my desire here. I want you to fully understand what I mean when I say the words “lateral movement” or “oblique movement”. And that is, indeed, the purpose of Movement Part 2 – to physically demonstrate my thoughts on the topic.


Movement While Shooting–Video 1

I’m more than interested in your thoughts – both on the videos as well as the subject matter. How do you integrate movement into your training? Has it been effective for you? Can you place accurate rounds on target? Below is the target I engaged. As I have stated earlier – my goal is 80%. It appears I missed that by a smidge – with a 79%. Always something to work on.

Movement Target

Movement – it’s use is your life insurance policy. Learn it, practice it . . . .

And make the skillset your own!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Just the Basics - Winchester 94 .45 L/C Saddle Gun Carbine


Winchester 94 LC Saddle Gun Carbine

The Barrel is the component that allows the bullet to exit the carbine after it is fired and adds a spin to the bullet to increase its accuracy.

The Muzzle is the region immediately at the end of the Barrel where the bullet exits.

The Front Sight, used in conjunction with the Rear Sight is used to acquire an accurate sight picture prior to engaging a threat.

The Fore Grip provides an area for the shooter to grasp the front portion of the weapon to assist in steadying if for a sturdy shot.

The Tubular Magazine contains the cartridges to be fired and feeds a new cartridge into chamber each the Finger Lever is operated until the magazine is empty.

The Finger Lever is the mechanical component used to eject expended casings from the weapon and push a new round into the chamber.

The Finger Lever Safety requires the shooter to firmly grasp the Finger Level and the stock to enable the trigger.

The Breech is the area of the weapon where an expended cartridge begins its exit from the weapon and a new cartridge is placed before it is rammed into the chamber.

The Breech Bolt acts as the ejection tool to remove a spent casing, the ram to insert a new cartridge into the chamber, it contains the Firing Pin which will fire the cartridge when the Trigger is pressed and it is part of the containment system to contain the energy of the cartridge and help force its gasses down the barrel and out the muzzle.

The Finger Lever is the component that harnesses the work done by the shooters hand and allows them to expel an expended cartridge and ram a new cartridge into the chamber.

The Trigger is the component that releases the firing pin.

The Trigger Guard is provided to protect the shooter from an unintended discharge due to clothing, brush or other item the Trigger may bump against.

This particular weapon has dual safeties – one just rear of the Breech Bolt and one between the Finger Lever and the Stock. The lever must be gripped and the safety released for the weapon to fire.

The Stock attaches to the rear of the Receiver and the Barrel with a Tubular Magazine (for this particular weapon) attaches to the front of the Receiver. The Stock Butt Plate firmly rests against the shooter’s shoulder while the weapon if fired.

The advent of the carbine in the late 1800s provided a person an accurate, longer range weapon, easily carried and handled on horseback that typically used the same cartridge as their sidearm. Is it any wonder it remains a popular firearm nearly 120 years later?

Training - Words, Just Words . . . Range Rules and Commands


Rule: a prescribed guide for conduct or action; an accepted procedure, custom, or habit

Command: to direct authoritatively, to exercise a dominating influence over

I conducted a NRA Basic Pistol course recently and was reviewing some range tape. I look for a number of things – am I being attentive, what am I missing, is my manner helpful, are my commands clear and consistent – there’s a lot to watch for. In this last class, the majority of them were new shooters – a couple had never touched a weapon of any kind. One of their greatest fears is the range time where they are expected to properly and safely pick up a handgun, load it and accurately fire it. They get nervous, a little fearful. During the classroom portion, leading up to range time, we simulate the entire process in the classroom and give each student a chance to dry fire the weapon they will be using. And I cover the Range Rules and Commands . . . . and I warn them 21 years in the military has left a bit of an “edge” in my range voice and demeanor. Actually, it’s mellowed significantly – yet it’s presence is still enough to insure that the students do listen and follow my commands.

Just what are these “Range Rules and Commands”? New shooters that have no range time imagine all sorts of things – from the screaming D.I. to the trigger happy red neck. Let’s take a walk through them.

Each range is different in many respects. If you would like to watch our facilities actual “Range Brief” you can do so here. However, there is a core that is used at the vast majority of shooting ranges throughout the country, that’s where I would like to spend my time.

Safety Rules: These are the basics. While there are variants – the NRA basic safety rules are hard to beat.

ALWAYS keep your firearm pointed in a safe direction.

ALWAYS keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.

ALWAYS keep your firearm unloaded until you are ready to use it.

A fourth is typically added;

ALWAYS make sure what is in front of – and behind of – your target.

Additional rules concerning the condition of your firearms, fields of fire, hours of operation – to mention just a few – will be contained in your range’s range brief. Pay attention, it could save your life.

Range Commands: On a shooting range, on a firing line – commands are just that – commands! They are not suggestions, general thoughts, good ideas – they are words that demand a specific course of action. With a single exception, they are issued by the RSO or the Training Officer (TO) in charge of the range. Let’s talk about the exception first, and then the individual range commands.

CEASE FIRE! CEASE FIRE! CEASE FIRE! The Cease Fire command may be given by anyone on the range – ANYONE! Its purpose is to immediately stop all shooting on the range. There may be a person or child wandering around in front of the firing line (this just happened near our community – the 8-year old child received a .22 cal round to the head – jury is still out if he will live), there may have been a shooting accident, or a profoundly unsafe act by a shooter on the line, or a medical emergency just behind the line (think heart attack or fainting spell). Something of significance has happened and all shooting needs to stop. The command CEASE FIRE! Is said three times, in a loud voice. If you as a shooter hear that command, stop firing IMMEDIATELY, put your weapon of safe, and stand at the low ready (weapon pointed down at a 45 degree angle, safety on, finger off the trigger) until someone tells you what to do.

Step to the Firing Line Going to the firing line is at the invitation of the RSO or the Training Officer (TO). (Yes, I know, many ranges do not have either on duty 24/7 – these commands will apply primarily during course work or competition. Yet, following many of these procedures while you are there – on your own – will make for a safer experience.) When you hear this, you will step to the firing line with an unloaded weapon.

Load and Make Ready Insert your loaded magazine, or close your loaded cylinder, or close the loading gate on your SA Revolver, or operate the bolt on your rifle to put a round in the chamber, or operate the slide on your pump to put a round in the chamber. When you complete this command, your weapon is loaded, your safety is on and it is ready to fire.

Ready on the right? Ready on the left? Ready on the firing line? Or Are the shooters ready? The RSO or the TO are asking you if you are ready to go. If you are NOT (something didn’t load right, something feels off) TELL THEM NO, explain to them the issue and have them assist you in clearing it. Do not begin shooting just because everyone else does – make sure you are truly ready to begin the drill.

Your Course of Fire Is . . . I will usually, at this point, remind students what the course of fire is. New shooters can have a million things going through their mind and it helps to focus and settle them. Listen . . .


Stand-By This command is typically limited to shooting competitions. It is given just prior to the Timer pressing the start button on the shooting timer. You will then hear a delayed “beep!” (typically within 2-4 seconds) that gives you permission to Commence Fire.

Unload and Show Clear This command can actually be given any time. If the RSO or TO want to “safe” the range, one of the first things they will ask you to do is to unload your weapon. Release the magazine or open the cylinder and eject the cartridges or open the loading gate on your SA revolver and eject the cartridges. For Semi-Automatic pistols, lock the slide back, hold the weapon in your dominant hand, hold your magazine in your support hand and hold them next to each other so the RSO or TO can clearly see an empty chamber and an empty (or partially loaded) magazine. For a DA revolver, have the cylinder open and all cartridges removed. Hold it so the RSO or TO can clearly see the empty cylinder. For a SA revolver, have the loading gate open, the hammer cocked 2-clicks so the cylinder rotates freely and spin it slowly so the RSO or TO can see all chambers are empty.

Thank You!  I may be the only one to use this command. I say it after the “Unload and Show Clear” when I have physically observed that the shooters weapon is, indeed, unloaded and clear. It is my acknowledgement to the shooter that the process is complete.

MUZZLE!! This command is usually said in a loud and curt voice. It means you have swept the muzzle of you weapon across a part of another shooter’s body. I will give a single warning. The next occurrence earns an immediate ejection from the range and the activity of the day.

The Range (course) is COLD A cold range or course means that a weapon may only be loaded at the firing line and at the command of the RSO or TO. You may load magazines or load your cylinder leaving the cylinder or loading gate open but you may not “Load and Make Ready” until you are invited to the firing line and given the command. This may be the policy of the entire range (as it is at our range) or simply for the duration of the course you are taking.

The Range (course) is HOT A hot range or course means that you keep your weapon “topped off”. Load empty magazines when you have the opportunity. This is typical in more advanced “run and gun” course which are typically limited to more advanced shooters. Actually, this is “real life”, when you are carrying your weapon on a daily basis, your are “Range HOT”. Keep your head in the game during these courses, your life and those of your fellow students are dependent on you doing everything perfectly.

These are not “just words” . . . . they are words to be safe by . . . . they are words to live by.

Pay attention . . . .

Keep your head in the game . . . .

Lives depend on it . . . .

Monday, November 12, 2012

Just the Basics – the AR-15 Carbine


An introduction of a basic AR-15 Carbine.

DPMS 223 Carbine Discription

The component group that consists of the Barrel, Handguard and the Bolt Carrier Group is the “Upper Receiver”. The component group that consists of the Stock, the Grip, Trigger Assembly and Magazine Well is the “Lower Receiver”. This is the component that is registered with the AFT as a “Firearm” when your weapon is registered.

The Barrel is the component that allows the bullet to exit the carbine after it is fired and adds a spin to the bullet to increase its accuracy.

The Muzzle is the region immediately at the end of the Barrel where the bullet exits.

The Front Sight, used in conjunction with the Rear Sight is used to acquire an accurate sight picture prior to engaging a threat.

The Bolt Carrier Group consists of the Bolt, the Extractor and the Firing Pin. In a gas powered carbine, a portion of the gas expelled by firing the cartridge is fed back down into a port on the front of the Bolt Carrier Group. The bolt is driven back – ejecting the spent casing and then stripping a new cartridge off the top of the Magazine and driving it into the chamber. This also charges the firing pin for firing when the Trigger is pressed to the rear. In a piston driven carbine a portion of the gas expelled by firing the cartridge is used to drive a piston rearward. This then drives the bolt back – ejecting the spent casing and then stripping a new cartridge off the top of the Magazine and driving it into the chamber. This also charges the firing pin for firing when the Trigger is pressed to the rear.

In the event that the Bolt Carrier Group fails to fully seat forward, the Forward Assist can be slapped with a palm to fully seat the Bolt Carrier Group.

The Charging Handle can be used to manually eject a spent casing or a malfunctioning round. Once released, the Bolt Carrier Group will fly forward normally.

The Ejection Port is the location that spent casings are ejection from on the Upper Receiver. The Ejection Port Cover is provided to protect the chamber from dust and debris when the weapon is not being fired.

The Magazine Release is pressed inward to release the Magazine from the Lower Receiver.

The Bolt Release (sometimes called the “Ping Pong Paddle”) is activated by pressing on the “paddle”. This releases the Bolt Carrier Group and allows it to fly forward stripping a new cartridge from the Magazine and seating it in the chamber.

The Fire Selector switch the weapon between Safe and Fire in civilian models. A Burst or Auto position is added to military and some law enforcement models.

The Magazine contains the cartridges to be fired and feeds a new cartridge into chamber each time the weapon if fired – until the magazine is empty.

The Magazine Release is used to drop an empty magazine from the Magazine Well in order to make room for a replacement magazine that is fully loaded.

The Grip is the portion of the Lower Receiver that is actually “gripped” by the shooter.

The Trigger is the component that is pressed to the rear releasing the Firing Pin contained in the Bolt Carrier Group and firing the cartridge.

The Trigger Guard provides protection against an accidental discharge from rubbing the Trigger against something unexpected.

The AR-15 Carbine is loaded by inserting a loaded Magazine into the Magazine Well and seating it with a firm palm-slap to the bottom of the Magazine. The shooter than manually racks the Charging Handle to the rear and releases it or depresses the paddle on the Bolt Release. This will strip a new cartridge out of the Magazine and load it into the chamber at the rear of the Barrel. From this point forward, each time the weapon is fired, part of the energy is captured to automatically force the Bolt Carrier Group to the rear, eject the spent cartridge out of the Ejection Port and to strip a new cartridge from the Magazine and load it into the chamber at the rear of the Barrel. This process will continue each time the Trigger is pressed until the Magazine is empty.

Unloading can be done by depressing the Magazine Release and capturing the Magazine as it falls from the Magazine Well. To display that the weapon is empty, rack the Charging Handle to the rear ejecting any un-fired cartridge that may still be in the chamber out of the Ejection Port. Push the “handle” of the Bolt Carrier Release down locking the bolt to the rear. This allows the shooter to easily verify the weapon is, indeed, empty.

The Stock on most modern AR-15 Carbines is adjustable to establish a proper fit to the shooter for the mission and environment at hand. Also located on the Stock are multiple Sling Points used to attach a portion of a weapon sling to carry the weapon easily on the shooter’s body. A Sling (in this case a “Two Point” Sling) is used to hang the weapon from the shooter’s body. This allows them free hands to deal with whatever situation is before them.

The Handguard is used to protect the shooters support hand from the massive barrel heat that is generated by firing the weapon as he grasps the weapon. The image shows a Handguard that is also a “Quad Rail” Picatinny Rail mounting system. These rails can be used to mount Forward Grips, Sling Points, Lights, Laser Targeting Systems as well as a host of additional attachments.

What is the difference between a “Carbine” and a “Rifle”? Well, it depends on the time period you are looking at. Carbines began to come into their own towards the end of the Civil War. Traditional battlefield rifles were very unwieldy for mounted troops. Heavy, difficult to load, long – it was not a good mix. The advent of the lever action rifle began during the latter half of the war. Still, these “long guns”, while easier to load – were still difficult to handle. Enter the carbine – shorter, firing the same cartridge as the sidearm that was carried they became the staple of the Mounted Calvary. The most famous were the generations of Winchester Lever Action Carbines. And that is what depicted a carbine of that time period – a light rifle that fired the same cartridge as the sidearm the shooter carried.

World War I saw heavy use of bolt-action battlefield rifles and the introduction of the modern day machine gun – little changed in the carbine arena. Fast forward to World War II and the introduction of Garand’s battlefield rifle. Top loaded, rapid firing, exceptionally accurate - yet it was still heavy, bulky and slower to load than was desired. Enter the modern evolution of the battlefield carbine – the M1 carbine. Shorter barrel, loaded by a bottom-fed magazine and significantly lighter. This was the “pattern” established in the military that is carried forward to today.

Vietnam saw the introduction of the M-16 battlefield rifle. This was compressed into the KAR-16 and finally into today’s version – the M4 Carbine.

So, generally, a carbine fires the same cartridge as a full-sized battlefield rifle but comes with a shorter barrel, it’s lighter, usually has an adjustable stock and it’s equipped with the ability for equipment “add-ons”. A smaller, more compact weapon is much easier to handle in both urban and a wide range of field environments and has become a favorite of military organizations worldwide.