Saturday, November 30, 2013

Training . . . Are you a “Soft Target”?


Soft: easy to press, bend, cut, etc. : not hard or firm

Target: a place, thing, or person at which an attack is aimed

When you hear law enforcement and the military types talk about “soft targets” they are typically talking about civilian targets that are seldom/lightly defended and thus are attractive to terrorists. Think shopping malls, movie theaters, churches, schools . . . any place where the casualty count can be substantial for the news media. And . . . this is an accurate description for these targets of opportunity. Any individual or dedicated group wishing to “make a statement” would surly migrate towards a “soft target” as opposed to a “hard target” like a police station or military base. It’s simply a matter of “economics” – a terrorist will get a much higher body count, for much less effort and stand a better chance at survival if he intends to survive that attack.

Short of becoming a hermit, avoiding shopping centers, movie theaters, church or pulling your kids out of school . . . there is little you can do to avoid many of these “soft target” environments. However, for you personally – for your physical being . . . there is much you can to that will help insure YOU are not a “soft target”. Let’s spend some time on that.

“The best way to win a gunfight is to never get into one.” This is a phrase that has entered the personal defense world and seems to have many authors . . . with perhaps “common sense” being the most identifiable one. There are many ways to increase your chances of this.

Don’t go to “stupid places”. Virtually all regions of the country – and all major cities – have areas that should eliminated from your travel plans. Crass? Perhaps – yet it true IMNSHO. Don’t go there – find an alternative store, church, social group . . . and it will reduce your opportunity to become a target.

Become “aware” of your surroundings. Follow Jeff Cooper’s “color code”. Follow the NRA’s “levels of awareness”. Loose the hoodie so you can see what’s going on around you. Ditch the ear buds so you can hear the sounds around you. Make use of reflections in windows to “check your six”. Scan – LOOK AROUND YOU – not just straight ahead, not at the ground but at what is going on around you. Check for “exits” – where would you go should a threat develop? People watch – prey are not observant . . . become observant. ACT if a threat develops – don’t “wish it away”, don’t “hope” it won’t happen. There IS NO HOPE – if a threat is developing . . . and you don’t act . . . you will be attacked – period.

Be able to run away. Sounds a bit cowardly – right? Yet, in the real world only the foolish (or the dead) flat out plant feet to fight if the opportunity exists to leave the scene quickly and avoid a fight. If you’re out of shape – it’s time to get back in shape. It will do you good physically while improving your chances to escape a fight. By watching your diet (no – not under the care of a food Nazi, just use common sense), getting at least 20 minutes of exercise a day where your heart rate is elevated to an “exercise zone” and thrown in some strength training as well to build/repair muscle – you will be amazed how you begin to drop the extra pounds, have more energy and just plain feel better. Make it a “life style change” . . . NOT a diet. Quicker feet can avoid a fight . . . make yours quicker.

Take a “wingman”. Fighter pilots will not enter a dogfight without a wingman to help protect them from the enemy’s wingman. If at all possible, don’t travel to crowded areas – or secluded ones (remote parking lots/ramps for example) alone. There are times – perhaps most times – when this isn’t possible, but it’s much easier to not become a target, to become prey when there are two or more traveling together.

Learn to fight. In my childhood, this was just part of “schooling” the bully. You either fought or you were bullied throughout your school career. Today there are more “civilized” ways of handling the bully . . . that virtually insures perpetual victimhood and cements the bullying behavior in the playground bully. Power is taken from the “victim” and given to the “bully”. Not sure I can even explain how much this pisses me off. The bottom line though is we now have one or two generations around that have never been in so much as a school yard scrap. And, barring military training, law enforcement training, or a desire to learn a martial art – fighting is simply “not done” . . . until you meet some attacker on the street, parking lot or parking ramp. And then it’s too late. Learn to fight – not to break boards or do martial arts moves . . . but to just plain fight/brawl/kick/bite type of fighting. You are worth the investment in time . . . and you certainly are worth fighting for.

Learn how to use alternative weapons. An “alternative weapon” could be a knife, flashlight, kubaton, stick, hatchet, tire iron . . . the list is virtually endless. The point being that if you never consider alternative weapons, if you never “use them” in a training session . . . they will simply not occur to you in the event you’re attacked. And, if you’re not in the habit of carrying an easily accessible knife, kubaton or flashlight . . . then those alternatives and not available at all.

Become a “gunfighter”. Learn the skills necessary to truly defend yourself, your family and your friends with your carry weapon. PERIOD. A 4-hour carry class teaches you squat! Even extended course work with can only introduce concepts – they can teach you a new method of carry or improve your draw . . . but they DO NOT train you. Training occurs when you take these new skills that you were introduced to you to the range and you work with them, you practice them – you make them your own.

A word of caution here . . . KISS . . . Keep It Simple Stupid. MASTER the draw, MASTER everything from “metal on meat” to aimed shots at distance. MASTER putting multiple hits on your threat without “prairie-dogging” between each shot. MASTER your clothing in ALL seasons – range time at 10 below is as important as 100F. MASTER your clothing and equipment so it works well for your choice of weapons. Rather than focusing on “tacti-cool” . . . focus on simple and deadly.

Take your personal defense serious . . . EVERY FRICKIN’ DAY! I see a lot of students get all psyched for a specific class . . . perhaps a “run and gun” class, carbine class, a “shoot house” class . . . and all of this can provide good teaching for you. But, if your focus is preparing for the class . . . rather than putting on your defensive weapon to go to the mall . . . all the time on the tacti-cool range will have served no purpose if you are bleeding out on the mall floor with your defensive weapon safely tucked away in your gun vault at home. You last item of clothing that should go on your body each and every day is your carry weapon. And the first piece of clothing removed every night before you get ready to pack it in for the day, and placed at the ready, should be your carry weapon.

YOU are your best defense against become a “soft target”. It takes time. It takes effort. It costs money.

It could save your life . . .

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Commentary - Happy Thanksgiving . . . lest we forget our roots . . .


Thanksgiving Proclamation

Issued by President George Washington, at the request of Congress, on October 3, 1789

By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and—Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favor, able interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other trangressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Go. Washington


So much to be thankful for in my life . . . a wife that I love with all my heart, great kids with spouses that truly love each other and granddaughters that make me smile every time I think of them. Good friends and a great country to hold us all. More than any man can ask for. Happy Thanksgiving folks - make it a great day!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Review - Massad Ayoob’s Mag-20 . . .


As individuals who carry a firearm for personal defense we are faced with a wide range of challenges. The stigma of being one of those “gun nuts”. The process and responsibility of learning the firearm and the skills to defend ourselves, our families and those around us. The life-long demands placed on us to maintain our skillset as well as to broaden it and improve our abilities. It’s expensive. It’s time consuming. It’s necessary.

An individual who takes this responsibility seriously will spend untold thousands on firearms, equipment, training and ammunition to insure they are “prepared” should the unthinkable happen – that a day arrives that they will need to draw their weapon and kill an attacker that is about to harm them, their family or a friend. We all pray that day never happens. We all work diligently on the gun fighting skills that may save our lives in the brief seconds it takes to begin and end such a fight. There is another piece to the puzzle.

What we all too often forget is that wining the gunfight is just the very beginning of a life-altering event . . . the taking of a life . . . and the defense of our actions in a court of law. Both can deprive us of our life. Losing a gunfight can terminate our life in an instant. Losing in court can as well . . . just not as quickly. Or, it can impoverish us and our families for the remainder of our lives. While it is certainly important to learn the physical skills necessary to engage an existential threat and end it . . . it is every much as important to spend some time learning how to defend ourselves in today’s legal system.

Enter Massad Ayoob and the MAG-20 “Armed Citizens’ Rules of Engagement”.

From the MAG-20 course description:

A two-day, 20-hour immersion course in rules of engagement for armed law-abiding private citizens, emphasizing legal issues, tactical issues, and aftermath management. Topics will include interacting with suspects, witnesses, responding police officers…threat recognition and mind-set…management of social and psychological aftermath after having had to use lethal force in defense of self or others…and preparing beforehand for legal repercussions and minimizing exposure to them. Situations in the home, at the place of business, or “on the street” will all be covered.

Read that first few words slowly . . . 2-days . . . 20 hours. We actually ran just a bit over that . . . and simply worked through lunch – eating and note taking as the class rolled on. This course started out full speed from the opening sentence and ended just as strongly the following evening.

Mas and Me 1 (Medium)

Day One focused on building the foundation of the “Rules of Engagement” for an armed citizen. How will police, investigators, courts, prosecutors, your defense attorney evaluate your armed encounter. Words matter and it is a good introduction to the words used to describe everything from “reasonable and prudent person” to thoughts on how juries are selected. How do you catalogue your “training” – both formal course-work as well as independent reading and continuing education? How does the law evaluate your actions? What is deadly or lethal force? What could you be charged with? How do the words “Ability”, “Opportunity”, “Jeopardy” come into play?

In the event of a lethal encounter – can you articulate why you did what you did? Why did you carry THAT gun? Use THAT ammunition? Why didn’t you retreat?

All this comes in just the first hour or so of 20 solid hours of lecture. From someone who is arguably the nation’s foremost expert witness. And you begin to realize . . . to begin to understand . . . threats to your life – your freedoms – go well beyond the guy with the gun that lay dead in your living room.

This course was unique to many I’ve taken in that there is very little written material that is distributed. Instead – over the course of 20 hours I took nearly 70 pages of very detailed notes. Prior to the course I wondered just how well this would work simply because so many instructors push books, push videos . . . notes? . . . Really?? The final result was surprising – the process of listening, writing and reviewing my notes did a solid job of transferring very complicated information. And the exercises that will be completed over the next few weeks will help solidify it even more.

Beginning in the early 80s, Mas began teaching armed citizens a set of “Rules of Engagement” to provide the citizen a skill set to defend themselves in our legal system – as well as “on the street”. Over the past 30+ years, he’s become one of the nation’s foremost expert witnesses – evaluating evidence, crime scenes, events . . . all with an eye towards informing the citizen on how to best conduct themselves to stay out of trouble . . . and lending his expert skills should the unthinkable happen.

One of the benefits of graduating from any of his MAG courses is the use of his expert witness services free of charge . . . yep, that’s right – cost free to graduates. That insurance alone is worth the admission price . . .

And – given today’s atmosphere regarding armed citizens, learning the skills you need to defend yourself in the aftermath at the crime scene, in the interrogation room, in court . . . in addition to those you have learned on the shooting range . . . just makes so much sense to me.

Bottom line – the MAG-20 course is simply a MUST for any armed citizen. Should you find yourself in the situation where you had to take a life to save yours, or that of a family member or friend – you need specific skills to help defend your actions in the legal system. I cannot think of a better starting point than Massad Ayoob’s MAG-20 “Armed Citizens’ Rules of Engagement”.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Training - 50 Rounds


There was a discussion on an instructors FB group a while back responding to a question from a fellow instructor. The question went something like this . . .

“If you had a student that could only afford 50 rounds per month – what drills would have them do.”

I responded that I was fond of Dot Torture – but in reality that’s a very limited drill to evaluate one level of marksmanship. So let’s take a deeper look at this very valid question in today’s world of limited / and expensive ammunition.

What is the “minimum skillset” a defensive shooter should have? (disclaimer – this is MY opinion – other instructors may well have different ideas)

Knowledge of your defensive weapon: You should completely understand the firearm you have chosen to use to protect yourself, your family and friends. How it functions, its component parts, how to clean it, how to disassemble/reassemble it, its accuracy, what kind of ammunition it likes and doesn’t like.

Knowledge of ammunition: Don’t just take the sales person’s word for it – or your friend’s word for it – understand different types of defensive ammunition, range ammunition, factory ammunition, hand loaded ammunition and then select the right ammo for your weapon, the range and for your defense.

Every Day Carry gear: What holster will you use? Where will you carry your spare ammunition? How about a gun belt? Flashlight? Knife? Your carry weapon is just part of the mix of equipment that you should simply carry every day. Choose good equipment that fits your weapon and your lifestyle. And – adapt your lifestyle where necessary.

Learn the “basics”: I view the “basics” as weapon manipulation, the draw, sight alignment, sight picture, 2 handed engagements, dominant hand only engagements, support hand only engagements, focal point shooting, speed reloads, tactical reloads, clearing malfunctions, movement and mindset. Spent the time and energy to master each of these areas. And, you can use a dry fire range to work on these skills without sending a single round down range.

Situational Awareness: The best way to win a gunfight? Don’t get into one. Learn the skill of observation – what’s going on around you? Are there threats developing? Where are the exits? What is your exit?

First Aid: Know how to use a “Boo-Boo” kit and a “Blow Out Kit”. Scrapes, scratches, cuts are common place on the range. Know how to take care of yourself or anyone else that may have a minor injury. And, should you be unfortunate enough to be drawn into a gunfight – the possibility of being wounded is always there. A “BOK” (and the knowledge of how to use it properly) is your insurance policy against a life threatening wound.

Physical Fitness: Americans have a fondness to be “a bit” overweight. Much of this is simply from being sedentary (I know – I’m working through this even as I type). The reality though is that you will not have time to “get fit” if a threat comes bursting through the door as you read this. It’s time – to get off your butt, to drop some weight, to improve your strength and flexibility and to become a warrior capable of defending your family or moving them out of harm’s way. Again – this costs you NO rounds down range, just 30 minutes a day.

This – to me – is the basic skill set every shooter, every person who carries for personal defense, should master and practice. Honestly – little of it demands range time. But – it requires work. Real work. Ongoing practice, ongoing learning. I think a lot of new defensive shooters do a quickie course, throw a gun in their pocket/purse and believe they are “ready”. They’re not – on any level. That can be a damn painful lesson to learn.

What about the shooting side? Here too there is a lot that can be done without actually firing a round down range. You can work on your stance, grip, draw, aimed fire, “metal on meat”, reloading, clearing malfunctions, and first-round-hits (through the use of a LaserLyte round or SIRT pistol) – all without sending a live round down range.

You can integrate a “startle response”, movement “off the X”, turning towards a threat, movement away from a threat – again, all without sending a single round down range.

Still – only live fire will provide the experience of managing recoil, managing your reloads and actually seeing where your rounds impact your target. The “drills” you can use will depend on your range’s rules but for the purpose of this discussion let’s assume you have full use of the range with no restrictions (other than unsafe handling of your weapon). What will help you develop your skills as a defensive shooter?

The parameters of your range time:

  • 50 rounds of ammunition
  • Range visit once a month

If you are serious about developing your defensive shooting skills, you will quickly realize these trips are for “fine polish” only. Your real work will be done on your dry fire range in your home/garage as described above. Your live-fire range work will provide the finishing touches – the polish.

Limit your round count per magazine to three or less. More time spent manipulating your weapon is better. Include quality dummy ammunition for “ball and dummy” drills to enhance your malfunction clearing drills.

Begin with “metal on meat” drills – draw, punch out, put the rear of the slide on the meat of the threat and press the trigger. More draws are better . . . if you are limited to 50 rounds only, I would suggest 1 or 2 round engagements only during live fire and multiple round engagements with a SIRT pistol or 1 round engagements with a LaserLyte round.

Take a large step sideways as your draw – plant and engage. Work on getting “off the x”.

Do this for 3 Mags – for a total of 10 rounds.

Use 10 rounds for a draw and dominant hand only engagements. Again, load 3 mags with 2 to 3 rounds to force mag changes. Clear any malfunctions along the way.

Use 10 rounds to start from the low ready for support hand only engagements. Stick with loading 3 mags with 2-3 rounds to force mag changes. Clear any malfunctions along the way.

Staple a small index card to your target. From 21 feet, do 10 draws, two hands, full extension, single round engagement of aimed fire. Take the amount necessary to put all 10 rounds inside the index card. Use the 3 mag, 2-3 rounds per mag process to force mag changes.

Load 2 mags with a combined max of 5 rounds. Draw and do a single round engagement, 2 hands, full extension – head shots only until both mags are empty.

Finally, staple up a large paper plate then move out to 50 feet. Again, load 2 mags with a combined max of 5 rounds. Draw, 2 hands, full extension and do a single round engagement on the plate. Take all the time you need to get solid hits.

Between the aggressive use of dry fire exercises, the use of LaserLyte rounds or SIRT pistols and a dry-fire indoor range in your home or garage – you can get a lot of good work done.

Once you move to the range – use it for “polish”. Plan your range trip (the details above are simply a single suggestion – change things up for each trip) to use your time and ammunition to its fullest.

Finally – keep learning/studying/growing. There are a growing number of video courses, on-line courses and books that cover a broad range of skills every defensive shooter should learn. Spend the time to learn this information.

Work EVERY DAY on some aspect of your defensive skills.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Training – Coaching Another Instructor . . .


I got a call from a fellow who was having problems shooting an acceptable qualification target. He wasn’t a student of mine – simply heard about me in one way, shape or form and asked if I could help him.

I suppose this post will apply primarily to instructors – but if you’re a “student” you’re welcome to listen over my shoulder.

Any time you have an experienced shooter (this fellow was) – that’s having problems shooting a qual target it typically is because their focus is on the final “score” and not the fundamentals. The parameters were not onerous – 10 engagements, from low ready, each with an accelerated pair, each engagement under 2 seconds, with a scan and assess between each engagement. Nothing tricky here.

We set a time to meet at the range and on the appointed day “Sam” showed up. Older gentlemen, fairly easy going but obviously a tad nervous. While he’s extracting gear I chat with his wife a bit and when he’s ready we head to the range.

As instructors, our range demeanor needs to straddle between “firm handed” and supportive. Sometimes it seems instructors seem to want to relive old days on a military range or they want to imitate the “tacticool” instructors. My suggestion – be firm but don’t forget who you are. At this point I wanted to run the specific range rules past him, remind him of the basics, and then spend some time with a SIRT pistol watching his basics – stance, grip, how he acquired the target and his trigger press. The SIRT is such a great tool for this part of range work.

“Sam” is in his early 70s and has a bit of a tremor. Not enough to ultimately make a difference in his shooting because it simply left his hands as he punched out – but it was obvious it played a part in his overall concern.

We repeated the qualification drill a couple of times with the SIRT before finally moving to his carry gun, a Glock 26.

His first target clearly showed his nervousness. Yes, instructors need to punch the target cold as part of a demo to students. But – in this case – HE was the student so there was no need to bust his chops because he shot a 60% the first time out of the box. I made suggestions on the placement of his finger on the trigger (I teach the end 1/3 of the pad should rest on the trigger), threw in a few thoughts on his stance and had another go at it. Much better with an 80% - minimum qualifying. Since this is a typical qual target for a course I do teach – and I expect instructors to shoot a 100% - I kept after him for a box of ammo. He finally just settled – and you will see this with your students as well. There will be a point in the day on the range where it “clicks” – their body firms up, their hits settle in and they get down to business.

About that time he clipped a finger with the slide. Not really sure how it happened, but the very end of a finger had a distinct tear on it. It simply wouldn’t stop bleeding. If you see this, and they can’t control it – ask a simple question: “Are you on blood thinners?” A broad number of Americans – especially those 70 and over – take a daily aspirin at the very least. Such was “Sam’s” case. So I went to the Jeep, retrieved my boo-boo kit, cleaned the tear and bandaged it. At least it kept his gun clean.

So, back at it. His last target of the day was awesome, all rounds within a 6” circle.


We all need a bit of a hand now and then – even current instructors. Focus on the result – and the steps needed to get there – not on the “why the heck does an instructor need this kind of work?”

It’s always basics – stance, grip, sight alignment, sight picture, trigger finger position, trigger press – NOT the gun, the weather, the range instructor. Focus on the basics.

Nerves affect us all – even experienced instructors. As the T/O for the day, it’s your responsibility to create an atmosphere that allows folks to get their head in the game.

And, if you find a portion of your skill set sliding off the rails, sometimes the coaching and advice of another shooter is all you need to get the kinks worked out.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Personal – Marking Time . . . Caps . . .


Everyone marks time in their own way – small events, “middlin’” events and life changers. They get recorded and set aside in our memories, many times accompanied by photos, letters, recordings as well as friends, family and loved ones. Time is a part of all our journeys sometimes passing quickly and many times simply evaporating before our eyes.

One of my “markers” is a cap – baseball – one each. I remember my dad as always wearing one. Mom would tell the story of the guys he worked with in “the shop” as chiding him that he must surely be bald. He’d whip off his cap and just smile – his head hosted a very full head of greying black hair.

While I have few memories of him, I have carried the tradition forward – virtually never leaving the house without a cap firmly seated. There is work to be done to insure a proper fit. I roll the bill to shield my eyes from the sides as well as overhead. And I crease crown directly behind the face of the cap. You’ll see what I mean from the following photos. Part of school shopping always included a new, navy blue, wool baseball cap – no logos, no insignias – just a plain, navy blue cap. It carried me throughout the school year and through the next summer – until fall again found us in Hubinger’s grocery store and the dry goods area in search of the next year’s cap.

My first official team cap was in honor of the Tigers 1968 World Series win. It is a tradition I carry on until today. It MUST be the blue, deep blue wool cap with a WHITE “D”, nothing else will do. This post came to mind as I reached up on the top shelf of the hall closet to lift it down and have it take its place as my Winter hat – my summer “Hurricane Ridge” cap set aside for the time being. There were others there . . . . here are some of my “markers”. . .


I was fresh out of basic and slogging through radio school while the Tigers fought their way to the top. It would be years before I would set aside military covers, flight caps, ball caps with squadron ID to again have the Tigers cap take its place on my head/shelf/door hook.

Most summers I pick a cap, now a days typically with a soft crown. Yet, each cap MUST have meaning – I’m not the promotional/free/just grab a cap kinda guy. This late summer/early fall a cap from Hurricane Ridge just west of Seattle took its place. In ’92 we took a trip with friends and traveled the Northwest for 2-weeks. One of our first trips was to Hurricane Ridge. It was a crappy day, heavy mist and wind and I decided I’d simply hoist my 3 ½ year old son on my shoulders and walk the trails. I learned many things that day – one was to come off the ridge and go immediately to a camping store for one of the very early models of the Kelty “kids pack”. Fast forward to ’09 and I am again on the ridge – snow well over 10 feet deep, with the same couple we went with in ‘92 . . . sans kids. It was fun and bittersweet. Before I left I picked up a new cap . . . to keep the memories fresh . . .


In 1989 I retired from the Air Force/IA-ANG after serving a total of 21 years. The demands of my business simply did not provide enough time to accept the invitation to command the 132nd CAM Squadron. When I left we were beginning the transition from the A-7 to the F-16. The A-7 was a workhorse that we took to countless bases in the US, Panama and England. We had two ball caps the “official” 132nd cap and the “unofficial” “Well Hung” cap. While the original caps have surrendered to the dustbin of history, the patches remain and have found themselves placed on new “homes” as needed . . .



In ’03 I had a heart to heart with my urologist about Prostate Cancer. I had it . . . but I also had a 70 mile trek planned with the Scouts at Philmont for the end of July. I had delayed to my limit and on my birthday in April the offending gland was removed and I was glued back together - literally. My only demand was that I be able to take the trek 90 days later. I did – and at the end I bought “the hat”. It represents the trek of a lifetime with my son, of a victory over an aggressor and a belief that He does watch and answer prayers. It remains “original” – unwashed and wonderful . . .


Markers . . . we all have them. Some are coins, some are patches, some are shoes and some are caps. They represent our lives – our journey – things we have survived – places we have enjoyed – and people we love.

They deserve places of honor and they deserved to be used, worn and shared.

Find yours.

Dig them out.

Share their story.

And honor your journey . . .

Monday, November 11, 2013

Training – A Range Trip and Rob Pincus’ “FitShot” . . . pushing your range work


Shooting ranges can be interesting places. Frankly, many are nothing but a booth and designated lane for a shooter. And, while good work can be done – the ability to push your limits gets a bit “iffy”.

And, there are many ways to “push your limits”. How fast are you? How accurate are you? How well do you manipulate your weapon? How do you do on multiple targets? Eventually, we all need to find time on a much more “open” range to work on our individual issues.

I am fortunate to be a member of a local organization that has just such a range. And, honestly it’s seldom ever close to what one would call “crowded”. I typically push the above topics on both my SIRT range in my office as well on the live-fire range that I frequent. Still – a shooter can always push a bit more, increase their stress levels a bit more. One way is to hit some of the more advanced shooting schools. I enjoy that – but that doesn’t really help during the majority of my range trips. There is a program being developed by Rob Pincus to do two things – increase the amount of stress you shoot under and to increase your fitness level.

It’s called FitShot. A quick Google of “youtube fitshot rob pincus” yields a number of examples of this fitness program for shooters. One thing you will notice about Rob and a number of the shooters doing the drills with him are pretty damn fit. Heavy sigh – I have work to do . . . So, I went to the range this past weekend (11/10/2013) with the intent to actually tape a range trip so those that wonder what the heck I do on a trip looks like. Along with my typical Ruger 22/45 “warm up”, I thought I would roll in some FitShot as well. The huffing and puffing is real . . . no stunt doubles were used! The FitShot workout looked like this:

  • 10 Deep Air Squats with one round between each squat
  • 10 Kettelbell “Pulls” – add a Kettelbell lift, then drop the bell, draw and shoot . . . one round between each lift
  • 10 Kettelbell Russian Swings with one round between each swing
  • 10 ea 90-Yard runs with a round between each “lap”
  • Finish the session out with a magazine of headshots only.
  • Shooting distance 21’
  • Weapon – Springfield .45 ACP 1911

Honestly, there’s nothing special about the video but the last couple minutes are interesting because it is shot during my recovery time. This process pushes a shooter to the point where their heart rate is elevated, breathing is heavier and for me it’s a pretty good indication I have some solid work to do over the winter on my general fitness.

This level of physical stress gives a shooter a glimpse of what their body feels like under stress without having rounds fired at them. It also provides good practice at working on the basics when you’re winded – when you need to adapt to your breathing while it “quiets” and still get rounds on target.

Again, the video is nothing special, simply an example of one way you can stress yourself on the range during your shooting drills.

A couple of cautions. NO FRICKIN’ EXCUSES!!! Safety rules apply regardless your level of stress. Keep your head in the game as you become more tired. Wear good gear – a weapon that bounces out of your holster has no value. Magazines that fall out of your pocket/mag carrier have no value. Crappy shoes that don’t allow you to move have no value.

So . . . let’s go to the tape . . .

First, the Ruger .22/45 “Warm Up” target . . .


And finally, the FitShot target shot throughout the trip . . .


And the range trip video.  Again, nothing special really, though the last few minutes are interesting from a physical recovery point of view.

You need to push yourself folks – regardless of your training level.  Eventually, you need to push yourself physically as well.  I find Rob Pincus’ “FitShot” program an interesting option.

Commentary - At the Eleventh Hour, On The Eleventh Day or the Eleventh Day . . .


Veterans Day has evolved over the years and today represents a day set aside to thank all who serve – and have served - America. They deserve it. Days, weeks, months, years of separation . . . of time spent “in the sandbox”, “in Injun country”, “in the boonies”, “on the beaches”, “in the trenches”. . . . words that are clich├ęs in our language . . . but which are phrases that represent sounds, tastes, smells, emotions to those who have served.

They have survived.

Thank you . . . .

That said, I’d like to return to the beginning of this date for a few moments.

July 28,1914 proved to be day that would show the folly of human treaties. A single domino in the form of an assassination in Serbia lead to a cataclysm that lasted 1,586 days, consumed the treasures of every single developed nation on the face of the earth as well as over 9 million of their sons, daughters and citizens.

Death came in new – never before seen – forms. From bullets spewed at unbelievable rates of fire, from newly developed automatic weapons to bombs dropped from planes. Old, familiar forms of battle on the field – mounted Calvary, large scale troop movements – gave way to primitive tanks, artillery mounted on rail and trench warfare.

And, perhaps the most iconic weapon of the period – gas. Mustard. Chlorine. Phosgene. Aerosols that blistered lung and skin alike.

New phrases that appeared for that period of time – GAS!! OVER THE TOP!! Dog Fight! Go West.

Men . . . American, British, French, German – and virtually every other American and European soldier experienced these moments in a profoundly intimate way. They went “over there” – filled with thoughts of glory on the battlefield. They were met by the giant maw that was “The Great War”, the “War to End All Wars”, World War I.

And, during the honors given to all Veterans that have served . . . these men deserve their moment. They rose above the trench, the machine gun, the gas to right the world’s course.

And, at the Eleventh Hour . . . of the Eleventh Day . . . of the Eleventh month . . . in 1918 their duty was complete . . .

To these men, to their memory . . . Thank You!

“To Absent Comrades”

Monday, November 4, 2013

Commentary - “everyone was diving under the seats . . . I knew I was going to die – I called my wife to say good bye to her and the kids . . .:


The morning started so quietly . . . my “daily read” of Internet news, a stop at church to help count the money from Sunday, a stop at the local “Alco” for a cheap rug for the photography/video area of the office, picked up the mail and decided I should be rewarded by a quick trip through Mickie-Ds for a breakfast sandwich. While in line I’m listening to Fox News on the XM radio and they are interviewing one of the “eye witnesses” to the LAX shooting . . . (as best as I can recall)

. . . “I was heading for my terminal, looking for a place to charge my cell phone. All of a sudden people began running past me looking terrified. Then I heard the gunshots – I’ve never been in a war zone, but I knew what they were. Everyone was hiding under seats so I did too. I knew I was going to die . . . I took out my cell phone to call my wife and tell her and the kids good-bye . . .”

And I became instantly ENRAGED . . . I AM STILL ENRAGED . . .


THIS is where we are in America in 2013 . . . . man with gun, I’m going to die, I’ll wait right here for you to kill me! Thoughts of Darwin come to mind because my first reaction is that this fellow would be no loss to the gene pool . . . . except that this is what the Joan Petersons of the world want for us all . . . . to roll over and die at the hands of an asshole!

This is what is taught when you see all the “anti-bullying” efforts in school. DON’T confront the bully, DON’T stand up to the bully . . . and if you do YOU ARE AS BAD as they are. Carry this forward to this young man’s age and the bully becomes an armed killer . . . the defense . . . lay down and die. Let me address two groups that walk past this blog from time to time. First the “student” . . .

No one – anywhere – ever – has the right to take your life. PERIOD! And, right behind that YOU – NEVER have the right to simply roll over and die. I believe this with all my heart – you HAVE NO RIGHT TO JUST SURRENDER! You have family, you have friends, you have the young/old/middle aged man or woman sitting next to you that NEEDS YOU TO STAND YOUR GROUND. You may still die – but most people in gunfights DO NOT die. You may inspire someone else in a better position to engage the shooter to act where without YOUR actions they may not. Picture your tombstone – here lies “Bill” – he curled up in fear under a chair and was shot to death by an asshole. Is that what you want? Would the obit read a bit better if it said something like - Bill rushed an active shooter distracting him enough so other passengers in the terminal could bring him down. Sadly, he lost his life. Either way, you’re dead. What legacy do you want to leave behind?

If you are a student . . . YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO SURRENDER TO DEATH BY ASSHOLE . . . . EVER!! Just sayin’ . . . .

For the instructors that pass through here . . .

A “Warrior Mindset” is a subject I approach with every class – be it the NRA Basic Pistol class or my Defensive Pistol II class. THEY are responsible for their own safety. Yes, disengagement is best. Yes, de-escalation is best. Yes, the best way to survive a gunfight is to avoid a gunfight. Yet, that was not the case for this young man. The killer was coming – period. They were trapped at the end of a concourse. Had the shooter actually entered the holding area – he may well have been killed huddling under a bench. I believe – with all my heart – that we must teach our students to engage lethal threats with anything at hand . . . anything! An act like that inspires, an act like that provides leadership and an act like that may be the only opportunity provided to enable some – or all – to survive. An unknown man, on the morning of 9/11 over a field in Pennsylvania once said “Let’s Roll”. Today Todd Beamer is admired for the leadership he showed. Are we really justified to hold ourselves to any lower standard? I view it as my personal responsibility to make sure that everyone who leaves any of my classes knows – KNOWS – that their life is worth defending – with anything they can get their hands on – including running the asshole down with their own body. Life is their God given right – and no one has the right to take it away! Period! But – that said – it is THEIR responsibility to defend it!

This short interview displays in very stark terms the changes the anti-gun / anti-violence factions have worked on our nation. In his heart the only option this young man saw was to crawl under a bench and call his wife while he waited to die.