Friday, March 1, 2013

Commentary - But Uncle Joe Said . . . .


Advice: recommendation regarding a decision or course of conduct


It’s tempting to jump on the “let’s bash Joe” bandwagon. The fact that VP Joe Biden is one of the most ignorant, dishonest, uninformed . . . . this could go on for awhile . . . . libelous, shallow . . . . . oh, you get the point . . . . individuals that I have ever watched probably isn’t a surprise to folks that would typically read a gun blog. We have a tendency to “be on the same page” regarding politicians like Joe. So, I want to examine his “expert testimony” from the POV of something we have all done at one time or another . . . . listened to our own “expert” talk about things they truly were NOT expert on.

That said, there is still value in a short detour to point out some of the highlights of Uncle Joe’s statements. I’m not going to look for the video, it’s just not worth it. If you read this post well past March of 2013 searching for “biden, shotgun, protection” should put you in the ball park. To the details as I see them:

Shotgun as a home defensive weapon: I have no argument with this at all. I’ve posted my personal 870 configuration before. However, a 2-barrel carriage gun?? No, I’d pass on that. Regardless of the firearm, for home defense more rounds are better. The past 6-months or so have had a seeming increase in multiple bad-guy home invasion stories. Trying to take on two or more home intruders – who are more than likely armed – with a double barreled shotgun?? I’ll pass.

Brandishing your shotgun outside your home: FOR GOD’S SAKE DON’T DO THIS!!!!! This advice is stupid beyond belief. First, in many states/counties/cities brandishing a weapon of any kind is a misdemeanor at a minimum and could easily slide into a felony in some cases. Cooper’s Rule Number 2 – “Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.” If you have your shotgun outside your home, facing an intruder – you better be able to convince a jury you were in fear for your life. And, should things go south, you better be able to follow through on your threat.

“Just fire a couple shots in the air – that’ll scare them away”: One more time – FOR GOD’S SAKE DON’T DO THIS!!!! The discharge of a weapon is a serious event. Again, typically a crime ranging from misdemeanor to felony. Remember, you own each and every round fired. Hit someone with your “warning shot” – and things will not end well for you.

Finally – regarding Uncle Joe – “Just fire a couple rounds through the door!”: One final time – FOR GOD’S SAKE DON’T DO THIS!!!! Rule 4 – always be sure of your target and what is in front of, and behind it. I’ll just ask a simple question regarding this “advice” . . . . what if it’s your kid?

It’s very clear that VP Biden has had little in the way of fire arms training – especially in the area of safe-handling skills. That he is the one tasked with generating ideas for gun regulation in the aftermath of Sandyhook . . . . clearly shows what kind of trouble we are in as a nation. Please, DO NOT LISTEN TO THIS MAN.

All this said, we all know an “Uncle Joe”. So let’s talk a bit about requesting information from an “expert” that you know . . . . and giving “expert” advice.

As an instructor, many times folks that take my classes view me as an “expert” in ALL THINGS weapons related. I’m not . . . . . not even close. And neither is anyone else for that matter. Does this mean you should never ask me for a hand – nope. But, you have the right to expect that I will be honest with you about what I do – and don’t – know. And . . . you should always take any advice from me – or anyone – with a grain of salt. Everyone offers advice/opinions based on their own personal experience.

When you look at the skill set involved in “weapons handling” it is vast – to say the very least. Knowledge of revolvers, semiautomatic pistols, rifles be they bolt action, lever action, single shot, semiautomatic, full automatic, small caliber, large bore . . . . can easily take a lifetime to learn. Take that into consideration. You, as a new shooter – or a new to the AR platform, or the AK platform or the safe action semiautomatic or the single action revolver or any one of the other available platforms and manufacturers simply do not need to know everything NOW – take your time and learn at your own pace.

Take the time to learn the nomenclature, the details of the type of action you are learning, its history, its advantages and disadvantages . . . . build your knowledge base so when you reach a point where you will benefit from the knowledge and experience of another shooter – you can ask good questions that can lead you down the path of learning, rather than the path of listening to a line of BS. Does that make sense?? You have the ability to learn on your own – you do not need to be told or shown – you can learn. Actual physical demonstration can then be used to enhance and expand your knowledge as opposed to being the sole source of it.

Trust your gut when asking advice. If you head is telling you “this is BS, this is BS, this is BS . . . . then it’s probably BS”. VP Biden’s advice was such obvious BS that even the most inexperience shooter naturally knows better than to just “shoot in the air” or just “shoot through the door”, his buffoonery easily on display.

Try things in moderation. Since I’ve been chatting with friends that cast their own bullets and reload their own ammunition about my beginning efforts in this area – I am getting lots of advice. Lots of advice. Lots of advice . . . . And I like that actually – I am a true data geek. That said, I love researching and gathering data on my own. And then correlating that with what other folks say/do/think. Through that I believe I am getting a good sense of what materials to use when I start casting, which reloading press and dies will work for learning the craft, what primers work best, which powders people like better (assuming you can find any in March 2013) and dozens and dozens of other bits and pieces of this art form that I am learning and will learn over the next couple of years. The next step, to setup the workshop and work with small batches first – something about “baby steps” comes to mind. I am a few weeks from my fist reloading efforts – say 50 rounds or so. Then I will tweak, adjust, ask questions – and do another 50 or so. Until I am satisfied with that caliber, using that bullet and that powder with that charge . . . . And then I’ll start again with another caliber.

This same process will work for you whether you are working of sight alignment, sight picture, grip, stance, clearing malfunctions, speed reloads, tactical reloads, moving to cover . . . . Take your time. Break it into chunks. Read your heart out. Take course work from multiple instructors. Watch professional development DVDs. Join on-line forums. Watch. Listen. Learn. And, ask informed questions from a solid foundation to build and expand your weapons craft.

Again – trust your gut. If something being taught feels profoundly unsafe – ask questions first and then choose whether to incorporate it into your skillset. Everything taught by every instructor should be able to be explained logically and clearly. From entering a room to moving to cover to changing magazines – it should have a clear and concise explanation for why the instructor teaches it that way. If he/she says something like “that’s just how I do it” or “THIS is the right way – trust me” . . . . then I would take that with a very large grain of salt.

Keeping on that point – if an instructor is offended by being challenged, you just have to ask why? If you’re being an ass – well that’s one thing. But, if you have thought about your question, ask it honestly and do your best to ask a specific question – and the instructor still gets pissy for you asking a question, that again would bring into question his/her level of knowledge and expertise. I actually had this happen to me a couple of courses back. The instructor offered – as fact – his opinion on an element of accurate pistol shooting. In my opinion he was – and still is for that matter – wrong. When pressed he finally got to the “I’ve had lots of training, I’ve shot a lot and I’ve been around lots of military types – I know what I’m talking about and you just have to trust me – I’m right”. And, I let it go. Of course, in all honesty, I am doing the same thing as he . . . . so there ya go. J Had I pushed harder – it would have offended him. He made himself clear and I can either accept or reject his opinion. And, so can you – of any instructor you study with.

One final item – responsibility. You are responsible for your skill set. You are responsible for your weapons handling skills. You are responsible for your specific rules of engagement. You are responsible for each and every round or ounce of shot that leaves the barrel of a weapon under your control. Not the “expert, not the “trainer”, not Uncle Joe.

You . . . . and ONLY you . . . . are responsible . . . .

Learn your craft, hone your skills, listen to your gut . . . .

You are much smarter than you think . . . .


  1. Every time you say "Uncle Joe" I can't help but flash to a different communist. Please tell me Biden hasn't started growing a mustache.

    1. Purely accidental reference . . . No, really . . . :)