Wednesday, April 30, 2014

AAR – NRA AM 2014 . . . the “Personalities”!!


The 2014 NRA AM was as much about personalities as it was about seminars or new and innovative equipment for the industry. The size and scope of the offerings on the show floor was stunning and exhausting to just walk through. 9 acres . . . let me say that one more time . . . 9 acres of vendors. From Colt’s $60,000 Gatling gun reproduction to the latest in flashlights from Surefire – it was pretty damn impressive!

But what I really enjoyed most was meeting some of the personalities that I read and comment on in the gunny blog world. Quite honestly, they were – without exception – the most welcoming bunch I’d ever met and virtually all conversations had the touch and feel of long-time family friends.

I arrived Thursday evening and shortly after check-in I caught up with OldNFO. I’ve had the pleasure of hosting him in one of my courses and enjoy his comments on my offerings to the world. And, being two “seasoned” (though I just a touch more so) vets – we seem to click pretty well. He checked in and pretty well crashed, still attempting to readjust his body clock from 3 weeks in Australia.

A bit later Keads showed up in a very red Ford Mustang. He got checked in and then said we were to meet up with Murphy’s Law of Lagniappe's Lair and Aaron of The Shekel - Coins, Law and Commentary. We headed off to the Black Swan for a meal of a very good burgers, fries and – for me – a very tasty Scottish Stout. Aaron is a diver and has had a number of posts on winter dives below the ice. I rank this right up there with jumping out of perfectly good airplanes and shared some of my thoughts on the matter. Murphy’s Law is the doggie daddy of Murphy and Bell – two German shepherds who have provided both my wife and I with a number of good laughs as their exploits are recounted on his blog. It was a very nice evening of good friends and conversations.

Friday morning saw OldNFO and I down in the lobby for breakfast. As I’m chatting away a good sized fellow approaches OldNFO from behind, motions to me to be quiet and then gives OldNFO a double “wet-willie” - quite an introduction to Bubblehead Les. He’s a good sized critter and an ex-submariner. Today’s boat must truly be built larger than in years past!

Soon after Midwest Chick and Mr. B of In the MIDDLE of the RIGHT joined us. We worked through breakfast waiting for Keads to show. He never did though he finally put in an appearance at the convention center shortly after we arrived. Seems his drive (about 9 hours) did quite a job on his back and he spent a good part of the night trying to soak out the pain.

I discovered that Midwest Chick is a baking and chocolate craftswoman. The way she shared her thoughts on tastes, textures and recipes (she’d worked on some for years???) let me know I was in the presence of a true master – and a very fun person to chat with.

Mr. B has had a very broad range of jobs and skill sets from precision metal bending for military contractors to managing a motel. Again, turf rich for good conversation.

By this time – to be honest – I was feeling like crap. I’d caught some kind of bug that would stay with me all through the convention, through the trip home and as I type this I am just beginning to make real headway on shaking the damn thing. So I played the “I’m sick” card and begged a ride to the convention center with OldNFO.

Once there we went to pick up our press credentials (since I’m a big time blogger and all). The NRA really had their stuff together – packets were readily available, press pass pouches already made up and we were rolling in no time at all. The press area provides a place to sit, connect to post (sorry, felt crappy enough I posted nothing) and just to “take a load off”. I introduced myself to a very familiar face – Jay of MArooned. He, of course, didn’t know me from Adam but it was fun to see the “stash” in real life!

OldNFO and I then headed to the floor to look around. His blog has much better coverage of the floor than I could offer so I will simply tell you to head his way and go through his reports. The one thing you quickly come to realize is that OldNFO KNOWS EVERY SINGLE PERSON ON THE FACE OF THE EARTH!!! It was fun just to step back a bit and watch the show. And, he introduced me to virtually everyone we met. It was a fine time!

We swung by the Galco booth where Kathy Jackson of Cornered Cat was signing books. Kathy put in several good words for me with her publisher that I’m sure played no small part in their picking up my book. I’m hoping to see it on shelves this summer. She was energetic, funny and just an all-around nice lady. We had another chunk of time to chat about her career and family a bit later as well.

Another corner and another booth – there was Tam of View From The Porch. She has two reputations – one of being quite reserved around a bunch of people – I’d agree. And, one of being one of the most knowledgeable people around regarding firearms. From reading her blog for the past couple of years – there’s no doubt that’s true as well.

We wandered, we chatted, we shook hands . . . and by 3-4PM we’d both had enough for the day – off we went back to the motel. OldNFO had gotten an invitation to a barbeque for the evening and he brought Keads and myself along. It was at the home of a fellow named Jack. He had two grills going, a mixture of burgers, ribs, pork shoulder, steak . . . holy crap it was a meat lover’s dream. He was a true artist wielding spices, temperature probes, checking, turning . . . pretty darn impressive to watch and even better to taste!

Here was a whole new group of folks to meet. Daddy Bear and Daughter arrived and for a high school sophomore – she is a very well-spoken and “clear” young woman. She’s become a rifle shooter via JROTC and seemed quite pleased when her dad complained of her out shooting him on a regular basis.

Oleg arrived and while I didn’t introduce myself directly (by this time I was the old guy in the blue chair who looked like he felt like crap and had a voice that sounded like a road grader) it was fun just to watch him bounce from one blogger friend to another. He’s has become one of the preeminent photographers in the shooting world.

I also got to meet Erin Pallette of Lurking Rythmically complete with a bright blue My Little Pony T-shirt. Somehow our conversation turned towards shooting stances on the range and all of a sudden the instructor side popped out was I was working of foot position, a combat crouch, punching out, face behind the sights . . . it was a nice and Erin was very open and accepting of my suggestions.

Back in the chair I notice a fellow passing by with a Caiman crocodile leather holster and realize this must be Dennis from Dragon Leatherworks. The holster was featured in an NCIS special 2-part series set in New Orleans. Later, with a plate full of food, he took the chair next to me and I got to hear how he got started in making holsters and belts, his work with the NCIS series and what his future plans are. Very nice guy, very interesting conversation – I’m looking forward to seeing more of his work on NCIS.

That was about a wrap for the evening, we needed to be up at the butt crack of dawn the next day for Ambulance Driver and TOTW Shooter Self Care class.

Kelly Grayson is a full time EMT with years of teaching this type of course across the nation. In fact, if you or your shooting club and their RSOs need a Shooter Care class, go to his website and make arrangements to take one. Franciscan St. Francis Health hospital provided the teaching space, Brownell’s chipped in with food and drinks and Bound Tree Medical provided all components for the BOK at cost. Kelly provided his time and life time of experience at no cost. It may well be the most valuable 4-hours of time any of us ever spent should the need arise.

Class over, we rushed back to the invitation-only event for NRA trainers and Training Counselors for their “update”. As in all things, changes come – and so to with the NRA training programs. While a little short on detail, they are addressing the issue of some bad-actor instructors who are going “off the reservation’ when it comes to teaching the course work. There is a sense of what’s coming but little detail. I’ll keep you all posted.

And, with the end of that portion of the session I left with a 7-hour drive before me. A few reflections . . .

As I wrote this and looked at the “handles” of all the bloggers it was a bit like my early days in CB radio. I knew people by “handles” but not names. As is the case here . . .

All conversations were between “old friends” . . . open, honest, as deep as you wanted to go and just fun.

Protesters . . . what protesters . . .

Show floor . . . overwhelming . . .

Can’t wait for next year!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Still feeling like death warmed over . . .


My trip to the NRA AM began with me getting sick, continued with me getting sicker and ended with me back home and curled up in my recliner around 9PM on Saturday night.  I stayed there until about 5AM today . . . I need a few more days before I put my AAR for the NRA AM together.  No where did I put those Tylenol and Sudafed???

Friday, April 25, 2014

NRA Convention 2014

Popin' the NRA Convention with Old NFO, Keads and a host of other bloggers.   This should be fun!!!

I'll update when I'm back at the room.

Posted via Blogaway

Monday, April 21, 2014

Review - Red Cross First Aid - CPR - AED Training


As shooters, our natural inclination when we think of a first aid emergency on a range is to think GUN SHOT!!! The reality is that gun ranges are very safe. That said – “life” does happen. Everything from a twisted ankle during a movement on the range to heat exhaustion on a hot range day to a heart attack that can strike unexpectedly are much more likely to happen than an extra hole suddenly appearing in a shooter.

So, while the current fad to carry around a Blow Out Kit is certainly a good habit to get into – they will do little to help with a sprained ankle, a person down and sweating profusely after a tough set of drills or the older gent clutching his chest in pain after the last drill. The reality is that both on the range – and in our real life – we could easily be presented with an unexpected medical emergency that has nothing to do with a gunshot wound.

The Red Cross has – for generations – acted as a reliable source of training for their communities. As they do today. I think that at times their training is looked down on as something just for “beginners”. That is true . . . and very far from the truth at the same time. Over the weekend of April 19th I took their training at a nearby Red Cross office. Other students included a fellow who spends his summers working on hiking trails, a yoga instructor, construction worker, auto body worker, massage therapists and a couple others that escape me. I was the only firearms trainer.

The course was the Red Cross First Aid / CPR and AED training. The CPR and AED was the first block, the First Aid the second. For most attending- including myself, it was a refresher with most having taken the training at an earlier date. That said, the course is anything but lite weight.


The above image is linked to the actual training manual. These are provided free online or you can purchase a hard copy for around $9. I carry mine on my phone and tablet for easy reference and referral.

The course began with the CPR/AED (Automatic External Defibrillator).

CPR – unless you have actually performed CPR on a human or had the experience of using one of the training stand-ins, little will prepare you for how much physical energy and commitment it takes to begin and continue CPR. Movie scenes showing one fellow pumping the chest of a dying friend is typically so distorted – they actually do more harm than good leading many folks to believe it’s such a simple process – why the heck take a training course.

Just the process of interlacing your hands, placing them on their chest line and using your entire body to compress the chest a minimum of 2 inches simply can not be explained – it must be physically experienced. And the training mannequins do a great job of showing the amount of effort it takes.

Once the first 30 reps are done, you move to two rescue breaths. Opening the airway, clearing the mouth, watching for signs of breathing – again, it’s more complicated than is shown in the movies.

Finally, when you put it all together and string it out for their short 2-minute training sessions, you begin to get an idea that should you be called on to do this on a friend or family member – it’s going to be much harder work than you expected. And THAT is the value of this portion of the training – to prepare you for just such an event.

The AED – has become a common tool used to help correct an unexpected change in a person’s heart rhythm that is typically during and after a heart attack. There are two most common types of abnormal heart beats are arrhythmias - an irregular or abnormal heartbeat and tachycardia - a rapid, usually regular rhythm. Either of these drastically reduces the efficiency and ability of the heart to pump blood throughout the person’s body.

And AED is a device that automatically performs a number of functions. First – it INSTRUCTS the user on what to do – walking them through step by step. Pads attached to the patients upper right chest and lower left chest begin to assess the person’s heart rhythm and to decide whether a shock is even required. If it is, the AED again warns the person using the machine to stay clear and tells them when to push the button to administer the shock. The process is repeated as necessary with CPR and rescue breaths continuing until help arrives or the rescuer simply physically becomes unable to continue to render aid.

These two skills – CPR and the use of an AED saves an estimated 92,000 people a year according to the American Heart Association. They are certainly worth your time to learn and practice.

The second block was the First Aid block.

Just approaching a person that is injured takes thought. They will probably be injured or in distress. They may well be in pain and scared. Your approach, the words you say need to calm them and help them focus so you can begin to give them “first aid”. And that is where the course begins – how to check the area and the injured person.

From there on – different issues are examined:

Breathing Emergencies – both for adults and child, conscious and unconscious and choking.

Sudden Illness – including an array of specific sudden illnesses as well as poisoning.

Environmental Emergencies – these include heat and cold related emergencies, bites and stings, poisonous plants and lightening.

Soft Tissue Injuries – this includes various types of wounds, burns, controlling bleeding and an assortment of other special situations.

Injuries to Muscles, Bones and Joints – this part covers different types if injuries as well as treatments including anatomic splints, soft splints, rigid splints and slings.

Special Situations and Circumstances – covers everything from child birth to dealing with people who speak a different language.

Asthma – is common enough and can be severe enough to have its own section.

Finally, the use of Auto Injectors provides training to use these devices should the person in need be unable to do so.

Time spent? About 5 hours. Certainly more than worth your time for an introduction to basic first aid.

So, call your local Red Cross – schedule a class and learn the skills that may well save your spouse, child, parent or friend. It’s time well spent!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Training – It’s the Grip you will fight with . . .


I recently picked up a copy of “Adaptive Handgun” by Travis Haley. Mr. Haley is a “veteran Force Reconnaissance Marine with 15 years of dedicated real world experience” (click the link for a more complete bio). A couple years back I was introduced to his work via a video series he did with Chris Costa when they were running the training group for Magpul. Travis has since moved on and started a “broader” training approach with his new firm – Haley Strategic Partners. He is, IMNSHO, a trainer worth paying attention to.

There was a very short phrase during the Adaptive Handgun video that really stuck with me. For all the emphasis placed on “the basics” – from stance, to grip, to sight alignment, to sight picture, to “metal on meat” point-of-aim . . . there is a starting point for your use of your sidearm in your defense; your very first – and ONLY – Grip on your weapon at the beginning of your draw.

“It’s the grip you will fight with!” It’s such an obvious statement – but something that, frankly, never stood alone in my mind’s eye as to its true importance. I teach the importance of a “firm” grip but I had not emphasized the importance of it separately.

I have also noticed that periodically I “reset” my hands when I am focused on the marksmanship portions of my range work. If my grip doesn’t feel just right, I just reseat everything prior to the next shot. (the camera I’ve mounted to the right side of my “ears” is a brutal coach . . . you all should consider one). THIS IS A VERY BAD HABIT. So I want to spend a bit of time on “GRIP” – that instant in time after you have moved your concealment garment, driven to the weapon’s grip and established your “grip”. This grip, acquired at this instant and in whatever particular situation you are in – is “the grip you will fight with”. For me, it typically looks like this . . .


What elements go into making this grip quick, consistent and firm? There are three primary elements – equipment, placement and practice.


The primary elements of equipment that come into play are a “sturdy” belt and a well-fitting holster that retains your weapon, keeps it in a consistent position and makes it easy to reholster one handed. In this particular photo I am wearing a 5.11 belt and using my daily carry holster – a leather IWB holster from Blackhawk. Both are “sturdy” as well as performing the important task of holding my pants up. They fill my requirements for equipment perfectly.


Your carry weapon needs to placed on your body where it can be quickly drawn and employed. The two most common positions for this to happen are “dominant side carry” and “IWB appendix carry”. The image presented is my “dominant side carry” position – my right side at 4 o’clock. In IWB Appendix carry, your holster and weapon are positioned slightly to the left or right of your belt buckle. Most agree your ability to draw slightly quicker is enhanced by this position. While I have little fear of shooting “the boys” by carrying in this position, let’s just say my “body type” does little to make this comfortable. For others, it may be a carry position worth experimenting with to see if it works for you.

Regardless of your final decision on placement, it needs to be consistent . . . ALWAYS . . . every day. Your hours/days/weeks of range work will be worthless if you go for your gun in the heat of the moment and . . . it’s not there because you decided that day to carry it somewhere else that particular day. Find a comfortable spot – and leave it the hell alone!


As with anything you want to do well – “practice makes perfect”. Acquiring your grip prior to actually drawing takes practice. Take some time during your dry fire practice to focus on “GRIP” – that part of the draw stroke when you drive your hand to your gun. It’s after clearing your garments and before actually drawing your weapon from its holster. How you place your hand, how you physically grip your weapon . . . will be the “grip you fight with” when the time comes. Spend some time on this . . . and the rest of the draw stroke to first round engagement will go much better.

While actual numbers are endlessly debated . . . in general . . . gunfights obey the “rule of three”. 3 rounds, 3 meters, 3 seconds. You will not have time for “adjustments” like you do on a square range. You will not be able to say “excuse me, just a sec . . . my grip isn’t quite right!” What you grabbed, how you grabbed, what it looked like when you drew your weapon from its holster . . . is what you will have to live with . . . or die by.

It is worth your time . . . worth your effort – to spend some time on that one single element of your draw stroke. Because the grip you first take is, indeed, the grip you will fight with.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Review – PPOTH Course – Advanced – 4-12,13-2014


“Everyone’s gotta start somewhere . . .” goes some such saying or other. When an individual decides that they want to begin carrying a firearm on a daily basis for personal defense . . . they need to start “somewhere”.

IMNSHO – the NRA coursework is such place. For the totally new shooter – the Basic Pistol course provides a solid foundation for understanding everything from the bits and pieces of virtually every type of handgun action on the market today . . . to firing those first shots safely and accurately.

Their Personal Protection Inside the Home (PPITH) is a great introduction to the concept of using a handgun for personal defense. The focus on “inside the home” temporarily sets aside all the issues of carrying, drawing and using a handgun for personal defense in all settings and confines it to inside your home. The work is focused on mindset, the ramifications (both mental and legal) of the use of a handgun to defend yourself and then a solid introduction to defensive shooting.

The NRA’s Personal Protection Outside the Home course is the introduction to concealed carry, drawing from a holster and concealment, use of a firearm outside your home for personal defense and a more rigorous introduction to this skill set on the range. Add to this an additional 5-hour shooting block on the range and you have a 14-hour, 2 day course that provides a solid foundation for those new to defensive carry to move forward in their training.

As in all courses, they are held during a specific period of time. This course was held over a Saturday and Sunday. Saturday was scheduled to dry, sunny and hot – low 80s. Sunday was scheduled to be very wet – 1 to 2 inches of rain and temps in the upper 40s or low 50s. Both predictions held true. In lite of this forecast, I moved the lessons around to enable us to get our range work done – both the intro block and the 5-hour advanced block – as well as our guest speaker that taught Lesson III – the legal component - on Saturday with the remaining lessons and final testing completed on Sunday. It was a good choice but by 5:15 PM on Sunday, the group was pretty well drained.

There are three specific shooting “Lessons” – Lesson 5 – Presenting from Concealment, Lesson 6 – Presentation, Position and Movement and finally Lesson 7 – Special Shooting Techniques. Lessons 5 and 6 are contained within the “Basic” PPOTH course with Lesson 7 being the additional 5-hour block to fulfill the Advanced portion of PPOTH. Honestly, I don’t teach the Basic only. There is simply too much value in the Advanced portion that I just teach the Advanced version of PPOTH.

General introductions were done – in this case Mike, Bobbie and Lori are return students from the March PPITH Instructor course. Bobbie and Lori brought their husbands this time and Mike, Bobbie and Lori will finish the 3-course instructor block by coming back next month to take the PPOTH Instructor course as well.

The morning block was spent using dry fire exercises to work on presentation from the holster, loading their firearm, speed reloads and tactical reloads. We also worked on stance, grip and did our best to break some lifelong habits that had developed involving inserting magazines, racking slides, driving to the threat . . . it burned a good chunk of our early morning.

Lesson III was then taught by a friend that has been both a defense attorney and a prosecuting attorney in our state. This portion can only be taught by someone authorized by the state to teach the specific components taught in this lesson. For Iowa, that must be an attorney or a law enforcement officer trained to teach these specific components. Chris did a great job, got peppered by a host of questions and we all left clearer on the defensive use of a firearm within the state of Iowa. Then it was out to the range in hopes that we could finish lessons 5,6,and 7 before the rain hit. We were looking at 6.5 hours of real work!

Lesson 5 and 6 consists of 9 specific exercises to help the instructor evaluate the shooter and then begin to build their foundation to complete the course. Depending on the class I will usually add a few more drills to hone their position, trigger press, method of sighting as well as to cover malfunctions. Add to this moving to cover, strong hand only shooting, and the introduction of Point shooting – both two handed and single handed – it makes for a very rigorous and busy introduction.

After lunch we began Lesson 7. By this time we were sitting in the 80s and the range was definitely warming up. As an instructor this is something you MUST be aware of – and how that heat is affecting the shooters. Water and breaks are a must. Frankly, it being the first 80-degree day of the year one shooter did, indeed, overheat. So, I slowed the pace a bit, made sure she and all were drinking and we all got back at it. Bottom line – as shooters or an instructor – keep your head in the game!

Lesson 7 is 12 additional exercises including everything from shooting at contact distances to facing away from a threat and turning to face and engage the threat. I also added in some cognition drills from time to time to keep everyone thinking. And sprinkled in cautions, reminders and complements as needed. By the end of Exercise 21 – it had been a long range day. The round count had just topped 300 rounds and the gang was hot, tired, sweaty and ready to find a place to relax for a bit.


And isn’t that just the time when a threat would appear to hand you a very bad day. On this occasion, while not being a threat – I did present one more set of drills – marksmanship on the LEB target with distances from 5 m to 25 meters. The drills went like this:

  • 3-rounds, 5m on #5
  • 3-rounds, 7m on #3
  • 3-rounds, 10m on #1
  • 3-rounds, 10m on #4
  • 3-rounds, 10m on #6
  • 3-rounds, 10m Triangle
  • 6-rounds, 50 ft., center mass
  • 6-rounds, 25m, lower square


All can find reasons to be pleased with their final target . . . and all can find areas to improve, as it should be with any course work. These courses are meant to teach foundational elements. Training past that occurs when each shooter returns home, goes to their own range and works on the fundamentals taught in the PPOTH Advanced course.

Sunday found us finishing the lessons that covered psychological responses to a shooting, the physiological response of your body to such a high stress event, modes of carry, types of holsters, levels of awareness – all those lessons bypassed on Saturday so that we could remain dry and warm on Sunday. It turned out to be a good choice because it was raining as the crew arrived on Sunday and it remained raining well into the night.

A final exam with grading and final discussions . . . and it was over.

I find I was spoiled yet again by a group of shooters who truly came to learn, work and give it 100%. So to Bobbie, Jeff, Lori, Dan and Mike – thanks for coming, thanks for all your hard work . . . and I’m looking forward to seeing you all in May!

Personal - Perspective on “Another Year of Livin’”


“I just want to celebrate another year of livin’” . . .

The lovely and lively “Miss Lou” and Grandpa celebrated “Another Year of Livin’” last night after a fine meal and in the company of family.  She hit the “BIG 2” and Grandpa . . . a few more than that . . .

I want to pause and ponder that just a bit.

Miss Lou is our daughter’s and her hubbie’s number 3 child.  This past year has been a blessing in so many ways but at it’s simplest just watching her grow, enter “the two year old phase” of life and begin to see the young woman that she will become is one of life’s pleasures that – if you don’t slow your life, quiet your mind and truly take time to watch and observe . . . it’s gone in an instant and forever. 

On those days when I wonder about my purpose, my reason for existence – thinking of our kids and grandkids truly puts purpose to the whole scheme of things for me.  I love Miss Lou and all of them with all my heart.  And time in celebration of her birthday – as we will do with each parent, child and grandchild in turn – is time well spent and a solid grounding in the important things in life. 

As for me rolling another year – I keep waiting to feel  “different”, “older”, “grown up”.  I do grumble about body parts that don’t work quite as well as 40-50 years ago.  It was nice to lay on a double Thermarest on our annual campout this past year, shooting drills with words like “kneel”, “squat”, “run” seem to make me reach for “Vitamin I” at the end of the day . . . and still . . . when I reach into my mind and view “me” – I still see the geekie 16 year old out on his first date with his far distant bride to be.

So – I’ve been granted this past year.  I pray I used it wisely.  I am certain there are many times I did not . . . and some that I did.

And, I’ve been granted the very beginning of another . . . the beginning of my 65th.  Body parts in relatively good shape, head still fairly well screwed on, surrounded by a loving family and with an abundance of good friends.  God has truly blessed this soul . . . Sir – thank you!

The point of this rambling is that whatever your current trial, problem, fear . . . take the time to ponder and remember all the good that has been placed in your lap.  It is the love and the good and the joy that breaths life into your soul – enjoy today . . . with all your heart!

And here is the dashing couple – Grandpa and Miss Lou . . . the cakes were GREAT!!!

Grandpa and Mss Lou

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Review - Range Safety Officer AAR 4-5-2014


Perhaps one of the most overlooked position at a shooting range is the Range Safety Officer. This occurs for many reasons – many ranges verge on the “ad hoc” category, say a hillside in a rural area or an old quarry.

Sometimes staff on ranges does double duty – trainer, gopher or range manager so the RSO isn’t a separate and distinct individual.

While common at shooting events and competitions, for the typical range there is seldom a full time RSO available and on duty.

That said, their job and position is critical for both the range and the shooter. The “RSO” is the person who makes sure the range you are shooting on is safe. There are innumerable ways to do real damage to yourself, range neighbors or your shooting buddy. The RSO helps mitigate many issues BEFORE they become a problem and/or danger.

I had the pleasure of training six new RSOs this past weekend. And while the RSO course is one of the “shorter” trainings – and while the class started early enough at 8 AM, before you knew it the clock showed 6 PM when the last grade was copied onto the attendance sheet. While a long day . . . the time went FAST!!! Here is a list of the topics covered on the 5th during the RSO course:

  • Role of the Range Safety officer
  • Purpose of Standard Operating Procedures
  • Basic Inspection Procedures for Ranges
  • Range Rules
  • Inspection Procedures for Indoor Ranges
  • Inspection Procedures for Outdoor Ranges
  • NRA Gun Safety Rules
  • General Range Rules
  • Site-Specific Range Rules
  • Administrative Rules
  • Purpose of a Range Safety Briefing
  • Develop and Conduct a Range Safety Briefing
  • Purpose of having Emergency Procedures
  • Steps to take during an emergency
  • Conduct an Emergency Exercise
  • Define a “stoppage”
  • Define a “malfunction”
  • Demonstrate how to clear stoppages on common types of firearms – including pistols, rifles and shotguns.
  • Demonstrate how to safely take a gun from a shooter.

Add to this a physical walkthrough inspection of the outdoor pistol range, rifle range, trap range and archery range – an hours’ worth of work in and of itself, it’s not hard to see how you get from 8 AM to 6 PM in the “blink” of an eye.

The walkthrough inspections lead directly to range safety briefings. I had one team do the trap range and archery range while the other focused on the pistol and rifle ranges. These were then developed and presented to the class.

Malfunctions and stoppages were discussed and many demonstrated with dummy ammunition. Work included demonstrations on all types of actions for rifles, shotguns and handguns. While this was a very experienced group of shooters, everyone had an introduction to at least one new type of firearm or action that they were not familiar with.

A 50 question exam finished up the day with a required score of 90% to pass the course. I always use exams as reviews of the course. We discuss each question and we pay particular attention to questions a student misses.

Bottom line for the day . . . 6 new RSOs are ready to hit the ranges this summer.

It was a great course – congrats to Colby, Dan, Chuck, Ken, Larry and Loel – good job guys!!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Training - Integrity


A bit of a rant . . . apologies in advance . . .

Integrity:       : the quality of being honest and fair

                        : the state of being complete or whole

I live in Iowa, about 90 miles west of the Mississippi from Illinois. They are taking their first steps into the carry world - the last to join the rest of us in an ability to carry a firearm to defend ourselves, our family and any friends in our charge. It’s been a painful process to watch over the years. On the one side you have a state government seemingly intent on keeping their citizens dependent on the local law enforcement community for their safety. And on the other side, citizens that are tired of the assaults, break-ins and murders committed by those that have long since given up living under the rule of law.

While some states have instituted “Constitutional Carry” – you are a citizen able to purchase and possess a firearm, therefore you can carry it, others have enacted requirements that can be both arduous and expensive. Illinois is, to me, one such state. The basic requirement is 16 hours of face to face training. No short cuts, no videos, no on-line . . . face to face contact. Section 75 of the Firearm Concealed Carry Act goes into the details of what is covered, requirements to be a firearms instructor in Illinois and what the passing score in on the range. The act itself is 168 pages long, you’ll find the requirements under Section 75 on page 30.

Which brings us to what prompted this post today. I received an email from a fellow instructor with links to two separate stories about firearms instructors losing their training certifications and their students losing their carry permits because these trainers decided to take shortcuts with the training . . . and the students went along with it. So . . . let’s spend a bit of time on the personal trait of INTEGRITY. Take a few moments to read these two articles first . . .,0,2695924.story,0,1949490.story

Integrity – the quality of being honest and fair. The state of being complete or whole. Pretty clear – to the point. I want to examine this from both sides of the coin – the instructor and the student.

Instructor Integrity

An instructor should be who they say they are – that simple. And, they should be fully familiar with what they are teaching and be able to demonstrate it. I’ll take it a step further – instructors should demonstrate all drills and shoot all qualifications right along with the students. An instructor should have a purpose – a mission. Why is he/she teaching? Is it important to them? Does it matter that the skillset is taught or simply that the checks cash? If the instructor is presenting coursework that they claim meets or exceeds a particular state’s training requirement – they better make damn sure it does. The standard dodge – “gee, I didn’t know I had to teach that”, “or I didn’t know I was required to provide 16 hours of instruction” – simply doesn’t cut it in the training world. And yes, I know . . . other states may require far less from their instructors. Move. Otherwise, it’s the responsibility of every instructor to know the material they’re teaching, know the laws of their state regarding training and to simply do their damn job!

And if they’re unwilling to do that – few of us will be sorry to see them go.

Student Integrity

My kids are long since grown, one with three daughters of her own. Periodically, as they were growing we would be at odds over the performance of a specific task or the timing of an event or the breaking of a rule. Both came to an understanding that the words “I didn’t know” simply carried no weight. It was BS . . . they knew it . . . and they knew I knew it.

And so it is with the “victims” of these instructors. Were they all to be interviewed, and were they all to answer honestly . . . I suspect they ALL knew the 16 hour requirement but simply chose to believe that there was a shorter path, that these instructors knew that path and less time in the classroom is always better – right?

So, I call BS . . . there were no secrets as to the requirements, simply a willingness by both parties – instructor and student – to get by on a wink and a nod for part of the state requirement.

As “students of the gun” ( I am not associated with any groups using that phrase – I simply believe it accurately reflects what we all are in the shooting community) we know there are no shortcuts to being a better shooter, to being an armed citizen, to being trained is a skillset that we can use to defend ourselves, our families and friends in our charge. It requires range time, dry fire, ammunition, seeking our coursework to help us grow, reading broadly, listening, joining in “the discussion” of training and use of firearms. IT. TAKES. REAL. WORK.

So, if you’re an instructor intent on taking the shortest path – or a path that doesn’t “meet spec” – shame on you. Get your crap together or quit teaching.

And, if you’re a student looking for a quickie permit . . . remember, you get what you pay for. When they put your wife, your child, your friend in a ZipLoc the words “I didn’t have time to train” or “I thought I had all the training I needed” or “I only had to take a 4-hour class to get my permit” is going to be of little consolation to you.

Be an adult! Be a man! Be a woman!

Put on your big kid panties and get to it!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Review - PACT Club Timer III


Timers . . . it’s an interesting topic among shooters as they begin to think about getting “faster”. It’s almost spoken as FACT – strap on a timer, you’ll shoot faster!! Gaaarrrrrroooonnnnnttttteeeeeedddddd!!

MMmmm . . . not so much. In fact, getting “fast” is a topic in and of itself, there are so many bits and pieces to the process that just throwing in a few words about it here would do the topic and you a disservice, I’ll save it to until later.

My biggest concern for a new shooter that is looking to get – or has just gotten – their first timer is that they push so much on simply a quick draw that the basics of good safety, solid grip, RULE NUMBER 2 (Always keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot! i.e. – On Target!!) and trigger discipline are thrown out the window. Instead there is simply a drive to “beat the timer”. Honestly . . . it’s an inanimate object – you can’t beat it. But, you sure the heck can put a round in your thigh trying to.

So – Rule number one of a timer: Draw as fast as you can – SAFELY! With time, with practice, with hundreds/thousands of draws you will naturally get smoother. This will make you a faster shooter.

Rule number two of a timer: A FAST draw and a poorly aimed shot is just that . . . a poorly aimed shot. Speed from the holster has little to do with survivability in a defensive encounter if you cleared the holster and got the shot off in under the “magical” 2 second time . . . if the round was a foot high and to the left of your attacker’s head.

Rule number three of a timer: They should be rock simple to run. I have three different timers. One – and app on my Android. See the reviews for an overview of it. My lovely wife bought me the PACT MKIV XP as a Christmas present and I have used it extensively on the range. That said, it’s bulky and absolutely packed with features I seldom if ever use. Did I mention it’s bulky??? My third is one our Ikes chapter uses for their steel shoots. All of these offer a broad range of adjustments, settings and a double handful of buttons or menu selections to roll through to set it to your specific needs. I am a geek at heart, I have no issue with buttons, settings and multiple menus. But, are all those settings really necessary for what I want for 99% of my timing needs? No.

Rule number four of a timer: It needs to display the information you want to track your performance. For me that’s time to first shot, number of shots, split times between shots and total time for all shots fired. Add the ability to set a PAR time (the amount of time allowed to complete your string of fire) and I’m a happy camper.

These four “Rules” lead me to search for a new range timer as the snow cleared and the temps rose. My choice . . . yet another PACT timer . . . the PACT Club Timer III.

PACT Club Timer III - Top (Medium)

PACT Club Timer III - Front (Medium)

PACT Club Timer III - Back (Medium)

It has MINIMAL settings. I can choose to have the timer sound the moment I press the “GO” button. Or, I can choose the “DELAY” feature that will randomly delay the start tone from 1.5 to 3.5 seconds. (This random delay is hard wired! I spent quite some time trying to figure out how to set the delay time simply because virtually every other timer I’ve used allowed me to do that.) And, you can set the PAR time from 00.01 seconds through 99.99 seconds.

It’s a fairly compact size, about 1-1/2 inches thick, 3-7/8 inches wide and 4-3/4 inches deep.  Not tiny, but not overly large either.  The buttons are big enough to easily allow their use by a gloved hand.

Once you have chosen either “Immediate” or “Delay” and set your PAR time all you need do is hit the “GO” button, wait for the start tone and engage your target. When your PAR time elapses the tone will sound again and your time is over.

A RVW – Review – button allows you to scroll through your shots looking at each shot’s time and the split time to the next shot.

Very simple, very clean, very easy to run. I like it!

The timer is powered by a single 9V battery and will shut itself down after 15 minutes of inactivity.

Cost is between $130 and $150 depending on the vendor.

So, if you are looking to pick up your first timer, or searching for an alternative to your current timer – I urge you to consider the PACT Club Timer III.

I find it a solid performer!