Saturday, February 22, 2014

Survival - Winter Driving . . . NO!, I mean REAL FRICKIN’ WINTER DRIVING!!


Lynn: Hello??

ME: Hey Lynn – I’m going to punch out today, we have heavy sleet here, you seem to be having quite the blizzard there . . . I’m just not going to try and make it today. I’ll leave early in the morning – crews should have things settled down by then.

Lynn: Sounds like a good idea. I’m staying at the hospital tonight – don’t think I can make it home and it will give me a bit more time to get ready for Monday’s conversion.

ME: Sounds like a plan, see you mid-day tomorrow . . .

And so began my reminder lesson is “REAL FRICKIN’WINTER DRIVING!!” My customer is one of the thousands of hospitals nation-wide that must convert all XP machines to Windows 7 Professional (or higher) by April 8th. There’s been a bit of give on that but many of my hospital/nursing home customers are at panic’s door and they will have the conversion done come hell or high water. Lynn’s facility is one of 6 in a small chain I am working my way through, updating my real life’s work – a computerized employee and time management system that we designed specifically for the healthcare industry.

For me – my drop dead day is Friday, February 21st to have my updates done . . . there are no reprieves, no alternate dates, no options . . . and they are in the middle of a kick-ass blizzard that is simply pounding them into the ground. So, I’m off the hook for Thursday, the 20th . . . but committed to Friday the 21st, no matter what . . . alrighty then.

My past lesson on “REAL FRICKIN’WINTER DRIVING!!” is a few years in the past . . . December 1969, just before Christmas. I’ve not been home since my enlistment in June. I’m in Biloxi Mississippi in an electronics school and discover we will all be given 2-weeks leave during the holiday. I am outta there!! But, I’m also an E1 earning about $50 per month (yep, I said MONTH!!) so I needed a cheap way to get home. Enter a fellow squad member named Hale whose parents had purchased him a brand new Mustang before he reported for duty at the tech school . . . and he lived in Cleveland, Ohio! Just a hop, skip and jump in a puddle jumper from Cleveland to Detroit with a ticket price I could afford. My mom and Susie hopped in mom’s car and headed to Detroit to meet my plane and Hale and I headed to Cleveland. To this day I am amazed that he could maintain an average speed of 100 mph-ish and not have landed us in some cozy southern county jail. Yet, we made it to Cleveland with plenty of time to catch my flight to Detroit . . . and one of their largest ever ice storms.

The drive home was horrendous, virtually a continuous state on near panic while driving ½ on the road and half off for traction. A 2-hour drive turned into us being satisfied with arriving home safely mid-morning the next day. And while many of the fine details of the trip have been lost to more important memories . . . there are “tidbits” that remain.

The “universe” obviously thought that 44-years-ish was more than enough time and that perhaps a reminder of “REAL FRICKIN’WINTER DRIVING!!” was in order.

I’ve been driving in winter weather since the winter of 1966-1967. The winter of ’67 was “special” just take a look at some of the reports from this google search (the winter of 1967 Michigan). It was the beginning of learning that you either respected winter, what that season could do to the roads and the realization that I was nothing special when it comes to winter driving or a destroyed car might be the least of the possible results. They are among the lessons I have learned since that first winter experience . . . and I take them seriously. I thought perhaps a bit of time would be well spent on “REAL FRICKIN’WINTER DRIVING!!” even though the season is hopefully coming to an end. At the very least, since I did not get home again until after noon today, the 22nd, the memories and lessons are again fresh in my mind!

DON’T GO!! Seems Obvious, doesn’t it. Do not let the circumstances of the day, the emotions of the moment or the desires of your heart allow you to do something so stupid as to venture into what could be, quite literally, a life-threatening situation.

I made the right choice Thursday – and packed it in secure in the knowledge that road crews can move heaven and earth over night to open up a federal highway – in this case I-35. That said, I allowed the needs of the customer to override my good judgment the next day. An early scan of road conditions showed flashing red lines virtually everywhere I was headed along with a couple “the frickin’ road is closed, dumbass” markers thrown in for good measure.

It was at this point that I allowed my “abundance of experience” in driving in truly crappy winter weather to add to the mix of voices telling me I HAD TO GO and that I was skilled enough to make the trip. 7:30AM I climbed into the Jeep, firmly locked in 4WD and headed out on my 145-mile trip to Britt, Iowa.

So, while my judgment was certainly clouded by the needs of the moment, I AM NOT STUPID . . . (OK, stop chuckling!)

DRESS FOR WINTER! This seems obvious but remember the vast majority of times we climb into a car we are simply sitting in a conveyance that gets us from one place to another – usually in non-life-threatening conditions. It is very easy to dress the way you dress to take a quick trip into town or to the office rather than to dress for survival. People have died making this mistake . . .

The environment I was driving in was the very low teens, 20-30 mph winds and wind-chills pushing the -20*F range. That falls within one of my “Rules of 3” . . . In severe cold you have 3-hours to find suitable shelter before you die.

So, dress for the threat . . . dress as though if you ran off the road and was going to be stuck there for 10 minutes to 24 hours, you could remain comfortable. I wore my winter gear already outlined in my “Dressing for Cold Weather” post. My only two caveats – I wore my leather hiking boots and left the outer wear pants in the rear of the Jeep with my other survival gear. With this clothing, I had no concern of staying warm even if I needed to survive for an extended period of time.

One mistake many folks make is that they simply do not wear their coat. “Too bulky!” “Too hot!” I get it, really I do. But, if you slide off the road and roll down a hill you could easily be upside down with broken windows and trapped, unable to move. If you’ve stripped down to a light shirt/blouse for driving comfort . . . they will take you out in a ZipLoc when they find you the next day. Wear your damn coat and dial back on the heat a bit.

Carry your survival gear! Again obvious, but again often simply overlooked. I carry a full Boogie-Bag and a “Car Survival Kit” as well. Enough food for 3-days and enough gear to be comfortable if I’m in the middle of no-where in snow up to my butt with no real hope of rescue for a couple of days.

One quick side note on survival gear – just having it does not guarantee that it will save you. This is especially true if you’ve bought a kit, thrown it in your car and NEVER USED IT! Survival training should be part of your skill set just as a solid draw from concealment is. And it takes just as much effort to learn to survive in adverse conditions as it does to do that solid draw.

A final thought – throw a couple Cliff bars in your jacket pocket. Off the road . . . hidden by snow . . . upside down . . . trapped in your seat . . . a little comfort food easily accessible in your coat pocket can do a lot to take the edge of panic as you plan your self-rescue . . . or simply wait to be rescued.

You are NOT MAGICAL!! If you are driving down the road and count the cars/trucks/semis in the ditch or median by 10s . . . you may well join them. Just because you have a kick-ass 4WD vehicle, new snow tires and “years of experience” there is no guarantee that some goober won’t nudge you off the rise of the overpass just ahead. If you accept that you may well end up off the road and upside down, you can begin to mitigate your risks. If you refuse to accept that – your chances of arrival safely drop drastically.

Distance is your friend! The more distance between you and the vehicles in front of, behind of and next to you – the more time you have to react should the SHTF!. This can simply not be emphasized enough. While the temptation may be there to just “zip around” the slow moving fool just ahead of you – they may well be slow moving for a good reason. If you pull out to pass and see dozens of vehicles moving “slowly” ahead of you . . . well, this is the universe’s way of telling you not to be a dumbass!

I’m sure I’ll probably take crap for this piece of advice, but . . .

TAKE YOUR HANDS OFF THE STEERING WHEEL!! Yep, you read that right. IMNSHO the traditional 2-handed, 10 o’clock/2 o’clock steering wheel hold is an invitation to disaster. Let me explain . . .

While zooming down the road on my way to Britt at the mind numbing speed of 20mph with my right tires ridding the center of the “rumble strip” for traction and my left tires pretty much coasting down glass I was struck by heavy wind gusts (40-50 mph) from my left a number of times. The result? I am now traveling in a straight line . . . but cocked 30 degrees to the left . . . not ideal. AND, with two hands on the wheel there is almost an instinctive demand to turn the wheel to the right as quickly as you can to get back on track . . . the initiation of an oscillation with increasing negative feedback as you try to make one correction after another in rapid succession . . . typically not ending well . . .

However, with my standard driving position . . . left hand only, elbow on the window sill, steering wheel grasped with my left hand only – thumb and a couple fingers (my right hand resting on my right thigh) it in nearly impossible to react in a way that throws me into the “fight for control” but rather it allows a couple inch movement one way or another to settle things out. I the last 70 miles I got sideswiped by the wind a half-dozen times or so – any one of which could have sent me into a spin if I had reacted in a “typical” 2-handed manner.

You also need to RELAX! This dials into the death grip on the wheel with two hands. If you are tense, nervous, frightened and have a “firm grip” on the steering wheel . . . it will not go well as you begin to slip a bit sideways. Relax your body and just keep your head in the game!

NEVER TOUCH THE BREAK!!! EVER!!! Keep your damn foot off the brake – that is what the distance is for. If you begin closing on the vehicle in front of you, take your foot off the gas and coast to match speeds, then SLOWLY accelerate if you need to match speed at higher speeds. TO SLAM ON THE BREAKS IS DEATH!!! (well, you might not die, but I guaran-damn-tee ya you’ll hit the ditch!)

It takes what it takes! Time that is. As I said at the beginning, this was a 145 mile trip . . . and it took 7 hours. Yep . . . 7 hours. I saw roughly 150 vehicles in the median or off to the side of the road – everything from the smallest of cars to 18-wheelers. No favorites were shown on Friday. And – as a corollary to “It takes what it takes” . . . know when to call it quits. Before I reached my final destination I pulled into a motel and made reservations for the evening. My day did not start out with that intention – I brought no overnight bag. But, a quick stop after my customer call to a regional “Dime Store” took care of the necessities for the evening and allowed me to stay safe for the evening rather than trying to make it back home Friday evening.

As I headed home this morning after the first 20-30 miles being mildly crappy – the road cleared, dried and normal driving speeds were back.

And I felt confident the “universe” had a bit of a chuckle at the challenge / reminder thrown at me allowing me to refresh an old skillset for “REAL FRICKIN’WINTER DRIVING!!”

Be safe out there folks . . . Spring’s comin’!!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Commentary - We were soldiers once . . . and young . . .


In April of ’69 I held her in my arms as we spent our last night together on the living room couch. There wasn’t any sleep to be found – simply the warmth of holding each other, slow kisses, soft caresses and the knowledge that the next day our life together would be put on pause . . . I remember the warmth, that sleepy smell when two people fade in and out of consciousness.

I was to spend a year in Taiwan, scheduled to come home in the spring of ‘70. A request for a tour in Vietnam delayed that another year to April of ‘71 . . . and still I remembered the warmth of the couch and our last night together.

“We were soldiers once . . . and young” is the story of the 7th Cav’s first engagement in the Ia Drang valley. As I landed in Ahn Khe the valley lay 45 miles WSW, the battle a memory 5 years in the past. Ahn Khe hosted Lt.Col Moore’s 7th Cav unit. Honestly, the “worst” was over by then. America had lost interest in Viet Nam, in the fight, in any idea of winning . . . they simply wanted it over.

Simple missions became riskier, “looser” . . . manpower was being drawn down with little concern for security. Though the final evacuation atop the embassy in Saigon was 4 years in the future by the time I left, our will was gone.

They played the movie tonight on “Dish” . . . it’s amazing the strength the images and sounds still hold . . . over 40 years in the past. And while the battle scenes were powerful it was the opening scenes of husbands, wives, children . . . departures and the final scene of returning home that prompted this post . . .

I can still remember each step across the tarmac at the Bishop regional airport in Flint, Michigan. As the terminal grew closer I could see . . . her. She looked the same – and different. Still, as we wrapped ourselves in each other’s arms, two years and a handful of days disappeared. There is simply no way to convey that moment unless you’ve been there, experienced the separation and the reunion with someone who is simply your life . . .

There would be other separations, other deployments – all much shorter than 735 consecutive days.

If you’ve not seen the movie – you deserve to see the story of LZ x-ray and the men of the 7th Cav. Better yet – read the book because LZ x-ray is only half the story. The journey for half of Moore’s men to LZ Albany was brutal in the extreme. These men deserve to have their story told and remembered.

Today I see Afghanistan at the same point Viet Nam was about the time I left for home. The war is over – we’ve lost the anger of 9/11, we’ve absorbed nearly 7,000 casualties between Iraq and Afghanistan. Hundreds of thousands have held loved ones for a last time before they deployed and, gratefully, the vast majority did again as they were welcomed home. You can see the tide turning – Afghan and Pakistani allies are shifting allegiances to our enemies in anticipation of a change in the power structure. Our military will be left hanging much the same as it was in ’75. We need to remember that lesson . . .

It’s time to come home, lick our wounds, refit, rebuild our forces . . . and get ready for the next round . . . cause this ain’t over by a long shot.

We were soldiers once . . . and young. And the young soldiers of today’s military deserve their rest.

They deserve to become old farts, to be able to see a movie 40 years from now and to remember when they held her for a last time . . . and then again . . . when they returned . . .

Time to come home folks, time to come home . . .

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Political - Thoughts for a Republican FOUNDATION


I recently became a member of the Platform Committee for my county Republican Committee – something they may well come to regret.

Of course talk at the beginning of an election season revolves around THE PLATFORM.  I offered another vision.

I’d like your take on this approach, any ideas and comments will be welcome.


A Foundation for the Republican Party of Benton County, Iowa

For generations the word “platform” has been used to describe the political position and the beliefs of political parties. This year – 2014 – is no different. With a midterm election and the election season upon us we are once again faced with writing, defining, editing and determining what our “platform” is for this year’s election. I would like to offer an alternate option, a new voice to this tradition.

Rather than a “platform” that changes from state to state, county to county, city to city and election season to election season I believe our party is in need of something more solid, something immovable, something that will provide strength to support and contain us, something that is easily understood, easily explained and something that can be universally agreed upon.


I believe a solid foundation can be constructed from five individual and defining principles for our nation:

1: Our nation is a Constitutional Republic.

We are a nation governed by people elected to public office that are sent to represent us, the citizen. Our Constitution provides limits to their power, explicitly details our fundamental rights and insures that only the enumerated powers contained within the Constitution are executed by the federal government. All other functions of government are left to the state and local governments.

2: We are a Sovereign Nation.

We are a Sovereign Nation with defined borders, governed by a set of laws determined by our representatives, guided by our Constitution and protected by a military strong enough to defend our borders and interests.

3: The Oath of Office of all civil servants - elected and employed – should guide their actions.

As citizens, we expect that our elected officials take their office and its duties and responsibilities to us, our country and our Constitution seriously and act in accordance with their individual Oaths of Office.

4: Fiscal Responsibility is a fundamental function of any local, state or federal entity.

All monies expended by all governments – local, state and federal – come from the labor of the citizens of the country. It is a fundamental expectation that these government entities should act in a financially responsible manner.

5: Personal Responsibility is the primary duty of all citizens.

We are a nation of individuals held together by a common vision. We are not servants of the government; we are not dependent on the largess of society for our survival. Our possibilities are limitless; they not should be limited by our local, state and federal government. We are individuals, we are citizens of our country and we – and we alone – are responsible for our successes and failures.

It is my firm belief that adherence to these five fundamental principles can act as a singular focal point to bring the Republican Party together going into the 2014 Mid-Term election and on into the future. Rather than our message getting lost in a barrage of one “plank” after another – many times resulting in the shredding of our focus – it will be supported by a solid Foundation.

I believe this is what our nation is searching for, and I believe it is the Republican Party that has the best opportunity to bring this to fruition.


William Keller

Member – Platform Committee of Benton County, Iowa

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Just the Basics - The Grind


Topics for posts come at unusual times for me and in sometimes in odd places. It’s late at night and I’m taking a shower so I can get an early start the next day. I’m lucky I can shower at all because the -22*F has frozen the pipes to a good part of our two bathrooms, yet the shower works – my customers that I will visit the following day will be grateful. I’m also chewing on the 5:00AM alarm and the prospect of about a 200 miles drive, in projected snow with wind chills pushing -30*F . . . it’s been a long winter. It’s been “grind-ey”. I’ve about had enough . . .

It’s something to think about when you think about personal survival, maintaining your awareness level, determining how you mix the comfort of a heavy coat, gloves, watch cap and possibly a hood with your need to be aware of your surroundings and how such dress increases your risks . . .

It all comes down to the “grind” of . . . whatever. This year, right now, for me the WINTER is getting a bit grind-ey. For the 5th or 6th time this winter my friend has come with his bobcat and dug us out . . . Twice this winter our water pipes have frozen . . . Our last LP fill was over $900 . . . We have only had a handful of days above freezing since the beginning of December . . . -22*F it COLD . . . grind’ey.

Not really complaining, if it bothered me that much I’d simply move to someplace warmer. But it does affect the way a person lives their life. More clothes can mean warmth . . . but also a reduced ability to maintain awareness. You may find increased comfort in the warmth . . . but have your ability to draw your weapon greatly reduced. When life becomes a bit of a grind, it’s very seductive to let things slip just a bit.

Some examples. For those of you who enjoy canoe trips, I suspect some of this will sound familiar. Most of the trips I’ve been on push a week or so. Of course there is all the prep work – planning the route, menu planning, refreshing gear lists and checking it 2-3-4 times to make sure everything functions. Short day trips are planned for new folks. A couple weekend campouts at local parks to firm up gear lists and as a final check for gear. Excitement, expectations are high and everyone has their head in the game!

The first days of the trip are “crisp” – packs “waterproofed”, food barrels balanced, gear secured against rapids and capsizing. Portages are handled easily with gear off-loaded and then re-secured at the end of the portage. Camp goes up easily, consistently – with tents and gear weatherized against the unexpected storm . . . “the livin’ is easy” as the saying goes.

By mid-paddle, things can begin to feel a bit “grind-ey” . . . especially if the weather has presented you with heavy wind, or heavy rain, or maybe both. Or perhaps portages are filled with mosquitoes the size of a B-17. But the allure of the planning/talking stages have given way to the realization that you are 30-50 miles from your takeout point and your only option is to get on with it.

A couple more days and it is easy to give in to frustration and to simply skip steps that you saw as “basic” the first couple days. Packs are not quite as “tight” as they were, perhaps no longer secured into the canoe. Camp becomes a bit sloppier and perhaps you give into temptation to clean cook gear in camp rather than a couple hundred feet down the shoreline (bears love scraps). And while weather may threaten – perhaps you just skip the extra tie-downs for the tent and tarp . . . because you’ve “about had it”.

This is the moment Murphy lives for . . . and where you have allowed the “grind” to become an excuse to become sloppy . . . Given the right circumstances, things could end badly for you or those traveling with you.

The similar mindset can easily creep up on you when it comes to your defensive habits.

Training can become “grind-ey” . . . it’s too cold, not gonna train today. It’s too stinkin’ hot, not gonna train today. Too much on my plate this month, not gonna train this month. Life, weather, time, money – all can be allowed to become excuses that the grind is too great and sacrifices need to be made . . . not gonna train right now. And, as has been said by virtually every trainer I’ve had over the past 40+ years – shooting is a perishable skill . . . because it is. If you allow the grind to keep you from maintaining and improving your skills as a defensive shooter . . . you reduce your ability to respond to that one moment in your life when you need to defend yourself, your family or a friend.

The daily commitment to carry a weapon can become “grind-ey”. Does it print my shirt? How do I carry with this suit/dress/outfit on? I didn’t think it would weigh this much or feel this heavy or be so uncomfortable. I don’t think I really need to carry today . . . And again, Murphy lies in wait.

Carrying daily is truly a commitment. It requires changes in clothing, belts, shoes, your general demeanor. If this is allowed to move you towards NOT carrying . . . your ability to defend yourself, your family or a friend is diminished. Much can be done to make carry easier through your selection of clothing, a good holster and belt . . . but, under it all, it rests on your commitment to do so.

Training can feel “grind-ey”. What?? I need ANOTHER course?? Really??? But I sat through my carry class, I took a basic pistol class, I spent 50 bucks on a couple boxes of ammo for the range . . . what more is there to learn?? Yep, I get it. When you dial in an annual training course – especially the more advanced ones costing in the neighborhood of $1,000+ counting course fees, ammunition, travel and lodging – many times much more, it gets “grind’ey”. And yet, how else do you grow? How else do your learn and push yourself?

I’m taking a lot of words to say that the daily grind of life – daily circumstances, time, money – can easily nudge you into “taking it easy”, to letting things slide just this once.

And that can lead to some very hard lessons in deed . . .

As the military is fond of saying “embrace the suck!”

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Training – Tactics, Combat, Tacti-Cool, Tactical or Practical


“What other kind of training should I take down the road?” I’m having a discussion with a couple of students on a break during a recent class. The smartass answer would go something like . . . “Whatever I teach . . .!” Because I teach a solid set of foundational coursework for a defensive shooter. Yet . . . the answer is a bit more complex that just “Take what I tell ya . . .” kind of answer.

For the student looking to get just enough training required by the state to get their carry permit . . . the reality is they will take little advanced coursework. They’re done . . . and they “know” that if they have their gun, they’ll be safe. They will hit the range a couple times right after the course, maybe shoot a 50-round box or two of ammunition a year and, essentially, trust to luck that they will never actually need that gun in their nightstand, closet, safe, pocket or purse. Baring some life-changing event (like a violent encounter or break-in) these folks are “lost souls” and not in what I would consider the “training pool” of future students.

The other side of the coin is that student that wants to become a trained and skilled shooter. Now, as an instructor, I have something to work with. There are a dozen or so specific skills that they need to be taught and that they need to train on . . . . relentlessly. But, first . . . I want them to understand why these specific skills are important, to place them in context and to help them come to know the difference between “tacti-cool” and “practical”. There are a couple of elements to this explanation. The first is to make sure they understand that they are leaving the “square range”, “competitive shooting”, “really neat shooting class” environment and entering the world of “combat”.


  • a fight or contest between individuals or groups

It’s one thing for a soldier to walk on to a range with their gear, weapons and ammunition and spend days/weeks/months learning the art of warfare and quite another for a civilian to wrap their head around the idea that they may well be involved in a combative encounter to defend themselves, their family or friend. The soldier knows their destination. When I picked up an M-16 for the first time I knew what my final destination was, I’d seen jungles, helicopter assaults, film of clearing Saigon, Hue . . . I knew what combat looked like and I could visualize – on a miniscule level, what kind of experience I might have. My destination added a level of seriousness the words of the training officer could not.

To the average defensive shooter, this is such a foreign concept that a real effort must be made on the part of the instructor to move them into that environment mentally – to help them understand that in a defensive situation, against a violent and determined attacker . . . they are in combat . . . and the outcome will depend on their willingness to fight for their life, the life of their family or their friend.

It is my purpose, my job, my responsibility as an instructor to introduce a new shooter to a range of “tactics” that will show them the necessary skill to survive such a violent encounter. It is their final responsibility to actually learn those skills and incorporate them into their daily life.


  • the science and art of disposing and maneuvering forces in combat
  • the art or skill of employing available means to accomplish an end

The “end” they will wish to accomplish is to WIN and to SURVIVE . . . that simple. And the Tactics are fairly simple as well and common across a broad range of engagements regardless of the environment – whether defending your wife and children in your home or working with a team through a village in Afghanistan. The basic “tactics” and skills are simple really . . .

  • Quick presentation of your weapon to the threat
  • Being able to get combat effective hits on the threat
  • Being able to keep your weapon running – reloads, clearing malfunctions or engaging with a backup gun if necessary
  • The use of cover and concealment . . . and knowing the difference between them
  • Being able to move and still accurately engage the threat
  • To be able to use multiple shooting positions
  • To be able to clearly communicate with your partner

Those, IMHO, are the “basics”.

There is also a big difference, when entering into the learning of these basic skills –between “tacti-cool”, “Tactical” and “Practical”.

Let’s look at “Tacti-Cool” first . . . perhaps this video says it all . . .


Tacti-Cool Demo

Funny . . . exaggerated . . . yet if you look at some of the “training videos” out there on YouTube and from some instructors you begin to see some similarities as well.

Trust me, I’m as much as a gun geek as I am a computer geek, a camera geek and a ham radio geek . . . I get it, truly I do. But . . . for the civilian shooter who is most likely to encounter a violent threat breaking into their home or walking to a car on the street or parking lot . . . their chances of being tacked up like your local SWAT team is simply slim to none. Does that mean you should take a pass on some of the more advanced carbine classes where a vest or battle belt will help you carry more ammunition, a BOK or your water . . . nope, not at all. But, should this be where the majority of your training should be focused?? I would suggest there are better ways to focus your time and resources.

So let’s talk a bit about a “Tactical Course” . . . What would a tactical course look like, what would it have for course content and what would a range session look like? Let’s drill down a bit more on the word “Tactical” . . .


  • of or relating to combat tactics: as
    • of or occurring at the battlefront
    • using or being weapons or forces employed at the battlefront
  • of or relating to tactics: as
    • of or relating to small-scale actions serving a larger purpose
    • made or carried out with only a limited or immediate end in view
  • adroit in planning or maneuvering to accomplish a purpose

A “Tactical Pistol” or a “Tactical Carbine” or a “Tactical Shotgun” course would be a mix of solid basic tactics I listed above, along with integrating some form of “team” movement as well – either with a partner or spouse. There is no guarantee that a violent encounter will only happen to you . . . and not you, your wife/husband or child. With that understanding it is important that any training done with the idea of mutual protection involve all parties. When you lay out your home defense plan – everyone should understand their part. If there are multiple defenders, it is simply a necessity that you take training together to iron out methods of movement, methods of communications, first aid responses . . . so that at the end of the encounter the bad guy/gal is down and you are all still suckin’ air.

The word “tactical” means nothing out of context . . . and absolutely everything within the parameters of the course work you are looking at taking. With this in mind - let’s take a look at a couple additional range videos.

The first is “God will cut you down” . . . the music makes it a bit edgy but what I want you to watch for are the basics I listed above . . . weapon manipulation, rapid threat engagement, keeping their weapons running – malfunction clearing and reloading, transitions between carbine and handgun, movement, use of cover and concealment, multiple and non-traditional shooting positions, communications between shooters . . . all of which are BASIC skills that EVERY shooter needs to do as easily as drawing a breath. And, when demonstrated by skilled shooters . . . you begin to get a taste of a direction, a destination, a glimpse of the things you – as a shooter – should be looking to learn as you grow your skills.


Use of Basic Tactics and tactical skills

The second video – Behind every blade of grass – is more of the same, but the detail is better. Watch the reloads, the transitions, the way/method of movement, the use of cover, various shooting positions, their communications with each other . . .

Use of Basic Tactics and tactical skills

So, where is all of this leading us to? For the vast majority of defensive shooters – it leads us to the “Practical”


  • relating to what is real rather than to what is possible or imagined
  • likely to succeed and reasonable to do or use
  • appropriate or suited for actual use

The “practical” side of my training revolves around the way I am armed the overwhelming amount of time. I have a carbine for home defense . . . it is not slung across my chest. I have an 870 shotgun for home defense . . . not riding in a rack behind my head in the Jeep. What I do have is my Glock 17, two magazines with 15 rounds each, flashlight, defensive knife and that which lives between my ears. Yet, the use of basic tactics are the same . . . and my ability to quickly get combat effective hits, to keep my gun running, to clear malfunctions, to know the difference between concealment and cover, to move, to have an overwhelming desire to WIN THE ENGAGEMENT, to NEVER QUIT . . . are as important as if I were back in the villages of Vietnam or walking the villages of Afghanistan.

So while a course may fall within the loose parameters of “tacti-cool”, please . . . make sure it fills the “Practical” range of skills you need to defend yourself, your family and your friends.

I haven’t put this tag line on a post in awhile . . . but I think it’s appropriate here when you are looking at training to defend yourself, your family or your friends . . .


Saturday, February 1, 2014

Commentary - Resistance, Defiance, Revolt



  • refusal to accept something new or different
  • effort made to stop or to fight against someone or something


  • a refusal to obey something or someone : the act of defying someone or something


  • to fight in a violent way against the rule of a leader or government
  • to act in a way that shows that you do not accept the control or influence of someone or something

I keep looking for a place of “peace” when looking at my country – a sign, a glimpse of something – anything – to nudge me towards a feeling of “it’s going to be OK”.

I can’t find it.


I’m sure like my grandparents, as they saw the plunge into world war – twice, our parents experiencing the “Great Depression” and another world war as well as the first of the “limited” wars, and my generation and the experience that was Vietnam, the boom of the 80, bust of the late 90s and the rise of our first truly Marxist/Socialist president (small p fully intended), we have “been here before”, we’ll make it! I hear their ghosts whisper this reassurance in my ear . . . and I find no comfort in their words.

I see the rise of the Dow, the booming stock market, the growth of our particular retirement accounts – and realize their value is massively inflated and that the true “worth” of Wallstreet is probably half of what the ticker says at the end of the day.

I view an education system intent on – and successfully accomplishing – the dumbing down of multiple generations of American school children, their minds “full of mush” at the end of their K12 experience.

And still I hear the whisper of my mom . . . “Oh hunny, it’ll be OK.” I find I doubt . . .

These were individuals raised in an America where the citizens “made” the country, not the other way around. Their support system consisted of their own bare hands, family, church and neighbors. They worked, built, created and depended first on the person that they saw in the mirror. Our president is fond of saying “you didn’t build this” . . . and in many cases he’s right. These people built it; they earned their wages, paid their taxes and then used the money they paid in taxes to build the world’s best highway system, rail system and communications system. Not the government, but the citizens – with their hands, their blood, their sweat and THEIR money. Not the government.

These were people that could raise their own food, slaughter-dress-store their own livestock. They valued their spouses, their children, their families, their parish and their community. They took pride in their work and their country.

They knew things would be OK simply because they would MAKE it OK, with their own hands, their own sweat, their own blood and their own lives if necessary.

We have lost so very much . . .

In my mind there were two watershed events – the passage of the Social Security Act of 1935 and the beginning of the “Great Society” and the “War on Poverty” which began around 1963. Both were political moves meant to indenture citizens to the federal government – and they have been highly successful. Add to that Medicare, Medicare Part D, Medicaid and now the Affordable Care Act . . . as well as a burgeoning governmental work force . . . and suddenly 25% of those adults that are of working age are paying the ticket for both those caught in the trap of governmental assistance and those working for the government. 25% are pulling the entire train . . .

I listen to the excuses of the “99 weekers” . . . the welfare kings and queens . . . the government worker living off the taxes of the 25% . . . and try to imagine my mother saying the words that we would have to wait for our government check to eat. We have lost so much.

And where we are, here I am – looking for some peace . . .

My wife and I are parents and grandparents. Let’s look at the country through the eyes of a parent – for our country is, indeed, our “child”.

At one time or another both of our kids were “Resistant”. They didn’t want to eat their peas, wash their hands, make their bed, take a bath, pick up their room, do their homework, be in the house by 10PM . . . any parent or child was lived this Resistance.

I’ve seen this same type of resistance from our country . . . folks don’t want to look for work, sacrifice a “benefit”, plant a garden, trim their expenses, live within their means . . . after all they’re Americans and they have “rights”.

On the other side, the 25% are becoming resistant to taking risks, continuing innovation, growing companies, hiring new workers, building new plants . . . because . . . why should they?

I see more and more glimmers of “Defiance” . . . the demand that unemployment be extended past 99 weeks, the expectation of a welfare check as long as they “need” it, the expectation that the “haves” do with less because they “need it” more . . . the largess of the government past has become the expectation of the government today . . . and many citizens – nearly half – will not be happy when it ends . . .

The “Defiance” of the 25% simply takes the opposite side of the argument – the private sector contracts, companies move to regions with cheaper labor, while states like California, Illinois and New York place higher and higher tax burdens on companies, their defiance takes place with moving vans and factories built elsewhere.

Perhaps the most visible evidence of the population’s defiance today is Obamacare. 67% didn’t want it to be voted into law. Now, nearly the same percentage see it as an abject failure and the young and healthy that were expected to pick up the tab openly defy payment even under threat of fine and legal action by the government.

There is a palpable tension in our country today. It feels like we are balanced on a knife’s edge and we could easily go either way.

We have the option of the government regaining their senses, cutting the volumes and volumes and volumes of local, state and federal regulations so we can once again become a thriving and growing economy. Of living within their means and not on the backs of our grandchildren.

Or, they can continue down their current path of turning the resources of the government against the people of the nation. The IRS, FBI, NSA, Homeland Security as well as many state, county and local governments are viewing this Resistance to government control as something to be quashed. It comes in the form of seizure of property, attempts at gun control, implementation of one zoning action after another . . . all to insure the 25% have little choice but to submit.

Their choice will determine whether we move to the final phase of the title – Revolt. I am grateful that our children never felt that they were pushed to the point of Revolt. We always worked things out. I find I am not as confident with the state of the relationship between government and populace in America today.

The vast majority of the people distrust the government. President Obama has single handedly ushered in an era where the American people believed it was necessary to purchase over 65 Million guns since he took office. I suspect they were not for target practice. The American people are communicating in a very direct manner with our government. I pray those in the capital are listening . . . but fear they are not . . .

So I sit and wonder . . . is a true Revolt a part of our future? Will those inside the beltway continue to be so deaf, so withdrawn, so superior, so arrogant, so detached . . . from the America that elected them – that the 25% finally reach a point of open rebellion?

Or will those enslaved by our current form of governmental dependence reach a point where they will no longer be happy with what the government “gives” them and they simply act to take what they want?

Or will the America of my youth – confident of its future and its ability to solve any problem find a way to reemerge?

We are balanced on the very knife’s edge . . .

It could go either way.