Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas!!!

Well, before the traditional Christmas festivities get under way I want to take a moment to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from Susie and me. Thanks for touching base on this page - for sharing your lives, your joys and sorrows. He saw fit to sent His Son as an act of love and compassion . . . may we all carry that forward into the new year.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Commentary - I've had home thoughts about the Jihadist threats to the US . . .

And now for something different . . .

Typically I put my thoughts down on paper.  While that has served me well . . . when I chewed on the San Bernadino attack, the Paris attacks and the mass migration of Muslims into Europe . . . it seemed that words might serve me better.  See what you think . . .

Pew completed a comprehensive poll this month that provided much of the information for this post.  You can read the poll here.

Let me know what you think of the video approach . . .


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Training - Defensive Shotgun Rounds


What round for your defensive shotgun? This is another of those infinitely deep rabbit holes that has spawned hundreds of articles and videos to demonstrate that “this” is the right round to use. Frankly, it’s way too deep for me so I’m just going to sniff around the edges.

I believe there are three primary defensive rounds you can choose with many sub-categories under the three. There is standard “bird shot, there is buckshot and there is a slug. There are, of course, considerations that must be taken into account regardless of the round you choose.

Typical defensive purpose

The shotgun is typically seen as a home defense gun. That said, the need to reach out and touch someone will seldom be beyond 50 yards. It is much more likely that you would use your shotgun within the confines of your home. What surrounds your home is also of consequence. Close neighbors have little interest in a 1 oz. slug whipping through their home. Look at your home, look at your surroundings and make sure you take all of those factors into consideration.

Over Penetration

Simply put, whatever the projectile that comes out of the end of your shotgun be a 1.25 oz. of #5 lead shot, or 9 pellets of 00 buckshot or a 1 oz. slug – it is going to continue to go through things until its energy is consumed and the round stops. That is why it is critically important that you have a home defense plan, that everyone knows it, that you are clear as to your fields of fire and that you choose your ammunition appropriately.

Rounds on the threat

So how tight are the patterns of your defensive round? This quick post is BY NO MEANS MEANT to be definitive on this question, simply a glimpse of general patterning. The idea though is, as it is with a defensive handgun, to confine the round to the threat. So ideally, with the birdshot and buckshot you would like to be close enough so that the pellets stay within the confines of the threat. And, with the slug, you want to make sure you are accurate enough that you can quickly and easily hit the threat from 50 yards or less. The reality is that in a home defensive situation your likely shooting distance will be 30 feet or less – about half the length of a typical home.

So, armed with my newly updated 870 I took advantage of the warm temps to pay a quick trip to the range to test the birdshot and buckshot on the patterning board at our range and then the slug at both 50 and 25 yards. Pro tip . . . if your range’s patterning board is simply a sheet of 3/8” steel, and you put a standard LE SEB target on that steel . . . when you hit it with either birdshot our buckshot the target will simply explode. I will probably approach this particular topic again later, but for today, let’s make use of what I have in my hand – two shattered targets that still have things to share with us.

30 ft.  Winchester Super X heavy Field Load – 1.25 oz. #5 shot

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Obviously the center of the target was pretty well destroyed but I want you to take notice of the outer edge of the pattern. My POA was high center mass and I want you to notice that there were few if any pellets that hit outside the target outline. This is what you are looking for when you engage a threat with a shotgun round – the projectiles are contained within the threat and not continuing on past them.

We can certainly argue whether such a hit to a determined foe would be enough to convince them to stop their attack – but from 30 ft. and closer you can be reasonably assured that if you aim center mass the threat will take the brunt of the punishment from your birdshot round.

Winchester 9 pellet 00 Buckshot

Buckshot (Large)

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Again the result with a blown out target but in taping things back together notice that, as you would expect, the pattern was much tighter with virtually all pellets confined to high center mass. The buckshot did a better job of keeping the pellets on the threat. The other side of this is that you have fewer pellets, larger, heavier and you begin to run a higher risk of a pellet or more fully penetrating the threat. Again, no real hard and fast rules here, just something to keep in mind as you work through possible scenarios using your defensive shotgun.

Winchester Super X 1 oz. rifled slug hollow point

The slug round allows you to reach threats at a much greater distance than you could with bird shot or buckshot. Out to 50-100 yards it is, for all intense and purposes a rifle. That said, for you to take a shot at a threat at 100 yards, you may well have a hard time articulating why they were a threat you could not simply avoid. Reduce that distance to 50 yards or 25 yards and they become much more of an imminent threat to your well-being.

Rifled Slug (Large)

Slug Ballistics (Large)

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On my upgraded 870 I now have the new Trijicon front sight and simply align that down the barrel of the gun to form my sight picture – there is no rear sight per say. At 50 yards I hit 2 for 3 and then moved to solid hits once I moved forward to 25 yards. The biggest concern when moving to slugs is over penetration of the threat. That’s a pretty good size chunk of lead and depending on where you hit the threat and what they’re wearing – you could easily pass through the threat and into (or through) an adjoining wall. Again, be aware of your field of fire – you want to confine your damage to the threat . . . not family.

So how well can you “run the gun”?  Qualification shoots are one measure.  Here is a link to the ILEA Shotgun Qualification Drills.  It’s a “standard”, something you can shoot against and time to see how your skills with your defensive shotgun are developing.  Download it, take it to the range next time and shoot the drills, it will give you some idea of where you are in your skill set.

If a defensive shotgun in part of your home defense – take some time on the range to wring out your choice for a defensive round. There are any number of articles that have been written about this exact topic – do your research. Then, once you have made a choice, work your defensive shotgun into your range work. Having a shotgun in the corner of the room does little to protect you if you can’t “run the gun”!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Review - Remington 870 Upgrade


It seems that this is the year to “upgrade” my defensive weapons. I’ve detailed my upgrade to my AR-10, my backup AR-15, the new sights on my carry Glock 17 courtesy of Rob Pincus’ group . . . the only thing left really was my Remington 870 Express.

When I purchased it some work had been done. It came with a magazine extension to hold two additional rounds and a Speedfeed stock with pistol grip. Some time back I added a chunk of picatinny rail and a StreamLight TLR-1 flashlight. So when I began this upgrade project, this is what my 870 looked like.

Remington 870 (Large)

One thing I noticed while working with the PD and their fall qualification shoot was that I was simply not set up to “run the gun” in any smooth fashion at all. Reloads on the move, mixing slugs and buckshot, loading and shooting multiple rounds in a very short period of time . . . I simply was not getting it done. In looking at the differences there were two primary differences. A front sight that was clearly visible in low – VERY low light. And virtually all their patrol shotguns had 6 round sidesaddles mounted on the side opposite the ejection port. Finally, it seems that an adjustable stock al-la an AR-15 seemed to help the officers fit the weapon to their individual mount preference easier than a fixed stock. This became my “shopping list”.

Front sight

I settled on a XS Express Front Night Sight. It is manufactured by Trijicon and provides a large, clear front sight image whether in bright sunlight or extremely low light.

Repplacement Front Sight (Large)

Mounting is a bit different. On the shotgun the front sight is a bead attached to a front mount welded to be barrel. To mount the XS Express sight there is a 6mm hole in its base and the base is shaped to conform to the shape of the front mount. You then clean the surface of the mount and bead, mix a batch of JB Weld, fill the whole in the XS Express Front Sight and then spread a layer over the rest of the mount.

JB Weld (Large)

It is smart to dry fit everything – in my case it all fit fine – to make sure of a proper fit and alignment. Once the JB Weld is applied you have 20-ish minutes to make sure everything is properly mounted and aligned. It takes a full 24 hours for a full cure.

I must say I’m pleased with the final result which can be seen below.

New Frontsight (Large)

Side Saddle Shell Carrier

Next came the side saddle shell carrier. I decided on the Mesa Tactical Sureshell Saddle Mount. It will hold a total of 6 rounds and also adds a section of picatinny rail to the top of the 870.

Shell Carrier (Large)

Shell Carrier Parts (Large)

Mounting is very simple and quick. Pop out the pins holding in the trigger assembly, set the mount over the top of the 870, line up the holes and use the mounting screws to mount the entire assembly to the 870. 15 minutes work and I was ready to go.

870 Udate 2 (Large)

Adjustable Stock

The last upgrade was an adjustable stock. I chose the Magpul Remington Buttstock Combo.

New Stock (Large)

Removing of the old Speedfeed pistol grip stock was quick and simple. Two screws removed the butt pad and a single screw held the stock on to the rear of the frame. The installation of the new Magpul stock was just as simple with a single hex screw mounting the stock to the rear of the frame. The stock itself simply slid over the center shaft of the stock and the upgrade was complete.

870 Udate Completed (Large)

I will add a Vickers tactical sling down the road and things will be complete.

So, why the upgrade. Couple reasons. A defensive shotgun is a bit of a grab and go weapon. With the extension and the weapon in “patrol ready” condition (magazine full, chamber empty) you have a total capacity of 6 rounds. With the sidesaddle an additional 6 are also available – 12 rounds in your hand should the need arise. The mix you use – slug, buckshot or bird shot is entirely up to you.

Given that I’ve got a couple days of 50*F weather in the offing, I’ll take a couple hours tomorrow afternoon and see how things go on the range.

I simply do not recommend upgrades for the sake of upgrading a firearm. But, if you look at the purpose it is supposed to fulfill, and you find it lacking – make whatever changes you need to make to allow it to be the best defensive firearm you can afford.

And then as with all your firearms – get solid training and then hit the range. The weapon, the upgrades and frankly the ammunition are worthless if you can’t “run the gun”.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Training – Winchester DP I Qualification Course


After the last couple days of news . . . it was time for a bit of range work. If San Bernardino taught us all one thing – it’s that having a defensive weapon on our body that we can run and shoot accurately is our best bet at arriving home at the end of the day standing rather than in a Ziploc.

As I posted earlier I’ve been spending some time with the local PD giving them a hand with some new officers as well as running their trainers through their qualification shoots. They essentially use the OLD FBI qualification course – the one that starts at 25 yards rather than at arm’s distance. The idea is that each officer shoots against a well-defined standard that can be monitored and tracked.

For the majority of us – civilian shooters – shooting qualification courses also has real value. They allow us all to evaluate - “where we are”? If you’re one of those folks I referenced in my last post that has their permit, has a gun . . . but spends no time doing individual training on the range, things may not end well for you should the SHTF. Just sayin’.

There are any number of “qualification” courses of fire out there – your local LEO course, the FBI course (new and old), NRA Instructor qualification courses of fire and, part of the subject of this post – the Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program to name just a few.

One of the values that I personally place on shooting a qualification course – and keeping a record of the shoot – is that should I ever be involved in the shooting, it is one more piece of evidence that I take my skillset seriously, that I work at it and that I periodically demonstrate it. Shoot a course of fire, save the target, take an image of it, tuck it away in your training records and then pray you never have a use for it.

Anyway, I headed to the range with two purposes in mind – get some engagements in while wearing more cool weather gear, and to shoot the Defensive Pistol I Pro Marksman course of fire. You shoot 4 courses of fire, 5 rounds per course at a D-1 target (or equivalent) with all rounds within the “8” ring. See page 6 of the linked PDF manual. It was a nice afternoon, mid-40s and sunny. So, I got by with just a fleece.  Make sure you do your range work wearing the same gear you wear daily – coat, gloves, hat.

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So I put up my favorite LE SEB target, stapled my D-1 “equivalent” target at high center mass, took my place at 21 feet, attached my timer to my pocket and got down to work.

Below is the target that I shot. The “tape” is in the upper left, 50 rounds with times/splits for each 3-round engagement. I also shot at precise areas of the target – those are preceded by the number of the shape or the “H” in the case of the head shots. (Notice I took care of the threat’s ear in fine fashion!)

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So what to look for . . .

  • Shot placement
  • Time to first round engagement
  • Split time
  • How much time does it take to make a precise shot . . . and how precise was it exactly

My draws were somewhere slightly under 2.3 seconds from concealment with the best being 2 seconds flat and the worst was 2.33 seconds. For the precise shots, I typically added 1 second.

So what does this mean? I’ve maintained since my last trip, I seem to run right around 2.3 seconds. Precise shots need work. No idea what the heck happened with the head shot – but round 2/3 cleanly took off the threat’s ear. Round 1 should have put them down hard. Shapes 1 and 4 also had misses - - - take the time to GET THE HITS!!

So there you are – 50 rounds, with purpose and another bit of evidence should my life ever go sideways in a really big way that – yes, I work at my craft, I document the work and I can prove it.

On to the Winchester/NRA program.

The Defensive Pistol I begins on page 6 of the linked manual above. All levels must be earned in order. I shot the Pro-Marksman course of fire. 4 targets, 5 rounds per target with a 15 second time limit. 20 rounds total shot from the ready position.

I posted 4 targets and timed the string of fire for each target to insure I didn’t exceed the 15 second time limit. Here are the targets.

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As you can see the final string times were 6.88, 7.15, 6.23 and 5.71. I passed across the board but note the very last target – 5 rounds, 4 seconds with a 1” spread, not a bad way to end the day. All rounds were within the 10 ring and all were within the 4” x 6” rectangle that is my primary area of interest in the “high center mass” area of the threat.

From a book keeping pov, I’ll send the info off to Winchester and see what happens. From a performance POV, I met my expectations. I’ll continue to work on dropping time while maintaining accuracy. Remember, this is a perishable skill – if you hit the range once a year – your ability to take out a mortal threat may well not be there should the need arise.

Folks . . . there’s a new “Wolf Pack” in our country. They’re hungry, they’re determined, they’re focused and they’re hungry.

Hit the range, do the work . . . and carry every day, everywhere you legally can . . .

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Training – What you have in your hand . . . is what you want . . . Otherwise you’d have something else . . .


Long ago . . . far away . . . in another life I was a “Personal Growth Facilitator”. Think of it as a Drill Instructor for your head. My wife and I found this coursework out of need. We were emotionally recovering from her cancer and after a number of years we weren’t doing a very good job of it. A friend invited us to come to a “Guest Night”. Simply, things learned in about a years’ worth of course work literally saved us.

It was scary stuff to those on the “outside”. It was the time of “est”, and “T” and other types of guru lead courses – our friends were concerned for us. But they also saw things were working better for us as well.

Those who have met me or know me have little problem seeing the “asshole” side of my nature. Let’s call it DIRECT!!! And that personality trait is one of the primary ingredients needed to be a “Personal Growth Facilitator”. The company we went to recruited me to assist in coursework so for around 3 years or so I would stand in front of a room full of folks in the exact same spot I/we had been a few years earlier and I would assist them in primarily becoming brutally honest with themselves on where they were in their life, how they were acting and gave them a hand in picking a way out of their current minefield.

One woman sat in the back row with about 30+ other folks and bitched, whined, fidgeted . . . until I asked her a simple question . . . “How long have you been a bitch?”

Yep, the coursework was like that . . . So be forewarned . . . I intend this post to be “DIRECT”.

I write this the day following the San Bernardino terrorist attack. 14 dead, 21 wounded. Terrorists dead, house full of bombs, ammunition, info linking them to international terrorists . . . Jihad visits America. Perhaps the first of a Paris like attack on our home soil – there will be more. Neighbors noticed 6 Middle Eastern males visiting the house, taking delivery of large boxes but said nothing because RACISIM! Think “clock boy” $15 MILLION law suit – no wonder they shut up. Short story to this episode – what was once safely kept overseas is now part of our daily life. You need to move to “acceptance” fast, today, now, this instant . . . and make some adjustments in your life.

What you have in your hand . . . is what you want! Otherwise you’d have something else!

But . . . but . . . I have a carry permit . . . I carry once in awhile . . . I probably could have stopped them . . .

You’re dead!!!

Yep, got my permit, got that baby in the car should I need it . . .

You’re dead!!!

Yep, got my permit, to a basic pistol course, going to look at a holster and some more coursework this summer . . .

You’re dead!!!

Man, watched the coolest video the other day, got that new DVD course, gonna get a new holster for Christmas . . .

You’re dead!!!

Or going back to a conversation with a friend a few summers ago . . . “I got a new gun right after I got my permit, don’t think I fired more than half a box through it.”

You’re dead!!!

Yep, I took some really cool coursework this past summer, been to the range a couple of times, think I might just start carrying . . .

You’re dead!!!

Tell you what . . . every time I go to one of “those” places I strap on my gun!!!

You’re dead!!!

I really take this stuff serious! I’ve taken a couple courses, do my best to get to the range a couple times a year . . .

You’re dead!!!

I don’t carry my gun around too much anymore it’s to . . . hard to work . . . big . . . heavy . . . I don’t really know how to run it . . . I live in a pretty safe area . . .

You’re dead!!!

Get the idea?? So, if you’d met these two terrorist shooters, what would you have been up against?

Each carried a version of a .223/5.56 semiautomatic carbine.

Each carried a sidearm.

Each apparently had plate carries for spare magazines – I can’t find firm reports if they had plates inserted or not.

They placed remote controlled explosives in the building but failed to detonate them.

They fired . . . I WANT YOU TO HEAR THIS CLEARLY . . . 73 rounds (provided current round counts were accurate). One more time . . . 73 rounds.

They killed 14 . . .

They wounded 21 . . .

Total causality count in the building . . . 35 . . .

That body count comes from training, focus, dedication, clear intent . . .

That is your opponent. Forget the drive by shooter, the snatch and grab, the quickstop robbery, the restaurant holdup . . .

And focus of the shooter that is focused, dedicated, clear and skilled . . . THAT is your new threat as of today.

So let’s go back to the top . . .

What you have in your hand . . . is what you want! Otherwise you’d have something else!

If you aren’t as good as these two shooters . . . if you don’t carry . . . if you can’t hit what you need too . . . if you let every excuse in the world come between you and good coursework and frequent/consistent/focused training . . .

You’re dead!!

Nope, life shouldn’t be like this. Nope it isn’t fair. Yep, that’s what cops are for (their response time was apparently sub-5 minute for first on scene). But the nasty little secret is that when the shit hits the fan . . .


The first minute, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 10 minutes . . . or in the case of my home . . . the first 45 minutes . . . is on YOU!

So you can lie to yourself all you want, you can tell yourself all the stories you want, you can pretend all you want . . . But “What you have in your hand . . . is what you want! Otherwise you’d have something else!”

If you can’t run your gun . . . if you can’t get your hits . . . if you don’t know cover from concealment . . . if you don’t carry . . . if, if, if . . . THAT is, indeed what you want – because THAT is what you have in your “hand”. You DON’T want to carry, you DON’T want to shoot better, you DON’T want to learn how to use your environment, you DON’T want to defend your life, you DON’T want to defend the life of your child or spouse or friend . . . so stop lying to yourself and stop feeling all warm and comfy with your permit and your gun home in the safe. Because . . .

You’re dead!!

Honest to goodness folks, get off your asses, smell the coffee, do the work, spend the money, invest the time, train your butts off . . . cause this situation is simply not going to bet better.

Help is not coming . . . it’s all on you . . . please, be ready . . .

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Review - AAR–M.A.P.S.I. FDP 11-21-2015


I suspect I’m not a lot different than most instructors who see a fair amount of folks looking to get their concealed carry permit – or whatever moniker is applied in the person’s state of resident. I will get them exactly and precisely one time in a class. While I may wish that they take a second or third class to get them where they “should” be . . . time, money, desire will typically limit an individual to a single class that “fills the square” for the state the person lives in.

State requirements are vary wildly – from full Constitutional Carry to a 2-day, 16 hour class. Then add in everything from an annual recertification requirement and substantial license fee to just signing a form and sending a couple bucks . . . and the landscape of the firearms trainer is a mottled one at best.

There is certainly a core of students that take annual training, spend significant range time each month and put their heart and soul into their craft. My experience is that many of these folks are instructors in their own right . . . or card carrying members of the “gunnie” community. Compared to the bulk of the population . . . they are a miniscule bunch at best – microscopic at worst.

I also suspect that most instructors are intent on making sure the student walking out their door are prepared as best they can be to apply for their first carry permit – even though they have taken just a single solitary course. Real instructors, those dedicated to doing the best with the resources of time, space and money are committed to giving their students the best information and skills possible as represented by the course taught.

Years ago it became apparent that many of the courses out there were either the “tacti-cool” course on one end of the spectrum . . . or a basic shooting sports course on the other. This simply was not meeting the needs of the folks walking through my door. While the “square was filled” as far as the state was concerned – the need of the student was not being met. So, I put together e.IA.f.t.’s Defensive Handgun 1 course.

It was well received, reviewed by local friends that were both fellow instructors as well as LEO instructors. Tweaks were made, changes implemented, range work refined . . . all to a good end I think.

A couple years ago I made friends with a fellow instructor who had been developing what was essentially a “what comes after HG1?” course. And a friendship was begun. Over the past 2 years we worked together and in  January of this year (2105) a group was formed – Midwest Association of Professional Shooting Instructors. Regional instructors were invited to join, they were asked to review our coursework, more refinement, more review, vetting the coursework with other organizations and with each other, teaching the coursework to each other and, finally, in late summer this year our Foundations of Defensive Pistol, Basic Defensive Shooting Skills and Essential Defensive Pistol were finalized. You can read our history and course description at our website located here.

Which brings me to this past weekend . . . and the four folks who had come to town to take the M.A.P.S.I. Foundations of Defensive Pistol. They could have picked a better weekend . . . me as well for that matter. Friday night our first blizzard of the year rolled through with the morning seeing 8 inches of the white stuff across the landscape. Still, when the doors opened at 8AM all four were there, two women and two men.

I always begin course development with this question . . . When they are all done, when the end of the course has been reached, what do I want them to know? For the FDP course, in a nutshell, here is what I wanted them to know . . .

  • Intro to Revolvers
  • Intro to Semi-Automatic Pistols
  • Holsters, belts, off-body carry
  • Intro to ammunition and defensive ammunition
  • Range Safety, care and cleaning of handguns
  • Defensive Shooting Fundamentals
  • Use of force, use of deadly force, AOJP, disparity of force
  • Live Fire range drills
  • Introduction of cover and concealment
  • Final examination and course review

It is as full a day as it looks like in that paragraph. The course intros began with a SA revolver and ended with a DA/SA Semi-automatic pistol. Continued with the purpose and selection of a proper firearm for the student, how to select a gun belt, holster or off body option. Students were introduced to how ammunition works and then how to select a defensive round for their carry weapon.

Finally, it was time to head for the range. 8 inches of snow made it interesting. The range work was done from the 5 yard line. We began with single round engagements and worked up through accelerated pairs. Included were malfunction clearing and magazine changes. The temperature was in the low 20s when we began and finished up at about 12 when we ended. Yet everyone stayed focused, got their hits and successfully completed the 30 round qualification course.

By the time we hit 4:30PM the final exam was done, certificates were passed out and the final group photo was taken . . . a fine time was had by all and there were for folks fully trained and ready for their Iowa Carry Permit.

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Congrats to Naoko, Ashlyn, Ricky and Jay! I look forward to having you in one of our future courses.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Commentary –Sheep and Wolves . . .


There is always the risk in responding to events such as last night’s Paris attack that the emotion of the moment will cloud judgments that need to be made in the clear headed “light of day”. There is virtually no end to the number of 24/7 news reporters that simply run off at the mouth simply to fill air time. You’ll all notice that there are relatively few “Commentary” posts on my blog – they have a tendency to fall outside the lines of the goal of training the “new and inexperienced shooter”.

However – civilized society is again presented the example – by yet another grizzly attack – that true evil exists, regardless of the lengths we go to simply ignore it. If we take the time to explore this evil act, we will find that there are lessons buried within that affects of the fabric of a civilized world.

I’m having breakfast this morning with a woman I’ve known for over 50 years. She slides a bit towards the compassionate side but by no means fits into anything close to a “liberal” category. She’s scanning her regional newspaper . . . and I’m doing my morning read on the net trying to see what has occurred overnight. The global news brings little comfort . . . My friend’s thoughts are closer to home . . . (paraphrasing here)

“It’s just to “big” for me. There’s nothing I can do. I try to stay current on events, make good decisions, I vote, I vote for candidates that I believe will keep us safe. But something like this, there’s just nothing I can do!”

She’s absolutely right . . . there is absolutely nothing she can do about the attacks in Paris, ISIS, Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Iranian nukes, Chinese incursions, Russian expansionism, MS-13 or the thugs run amuck in our urban areas. In fact . . . there’s virtually nothing we – as individuals – can do about any of this. She is also right when she sees her primary responsibility as a citizen is to keep current on the events of the world, pay attention to the candidates during elections (especially local elections) and then vote her conscience. THAT is our primary responsibility as a citizen – as well as being vocal and outspoken with our local, state and federal elections so there is no question at all where we stand on “the issues”.

Still . . . with the understanding that the vast majority of armed citizens are in exactly the same boat . . . if you are like me there is a “need” to do something.


Don’t become one . . .

France disarmed their citizens in April of 1939, WWII began the following September. Today they require hunting and sporting licenses that require continual renewal and psychological evaluation. To me, that would imply that multiple generations are now simply used to the government “protecting” them. There is no need for self-defense – the government will take care of it. We can easily see those trends in our country today. Many in power, particularly those on the left, would willingly surrender their ability at self-protection to the “professionals”. As a citizen this is one of those spots where we must all simply plant our feet and make sure we elect representatives that understand that citizens have a fundamental right to defend their lives with the means necessary to resist an attacker – be they the local thug or ISIS member intent on a large body count.

You . . . the person you see in the mirror each and every day . . . are the one that has primary responsibility for your safety. That includes our ability to defend against a determined attacker. You certainly have the option to abandon this responsibility to a “higher power” . . . but at the end of the day the last line of defense lies with you. My suggestion? Arm yourself, take good coursework, train frequently and carry your defensive weapon each and every day. It is within the realm of possibility that if a single individual would have been armed in the restaurant where 18 were killed – the outcome may have been different. A guarantee? No, but a possibility, a chance, and opportunity to change the outcome – most certainly.

Did I mention training??? To me, the word “training” means that you must do REAL RANGE WORK frequently. Work with your concealment gear, refine your presentation from concealment – for all types of weather, part of this simply requires live rounds downrange. If you want a round count, my suggestion is 1,000 – 1,500 rounds per year. At today’s price for my carry weapon, a Glock 17, that comes out to about $250 - $375 per year in ammunition costs. What can I say – real work costs real money, there are no shortcuts.

Get trauma training TODAY!!!! Build your blow out kit, carry one in your range bag, one in your car and throw a tourniquet and Israeli Bandage in your pocket/purse/murse as part of your EDC. In fact this morning I ordered yet another Sofft-W tourniquet and 4” Israeli Bandage to build into a pocket carry kit. Will I need it down the road? I hope not. But if I’m in a mall prior to Christmas and TSHTF, I sure the hell don’t want to be thinking how nice it would be if I had the kit from my car or range bag. If you have never taken any type of first aid training – please, please . . . take a course as part of your annual training cycle.

Don’t hide your head in the sand . . . become aware and study global events and trends. The attack on Paris was an eventuality . . . not a possibility but something bound to happen. We will see attacks in London, Berlin, Rome, NYC . . . and a host of other newsworthy locations. Those politicians that are “shocked” or “outraged” or “surprised” are either liars and just unhappy things occurred on their watch . . . or they are fools. As for our country’s safety from such an attack – remember the open border to our south and the realization that the first of the Syrian refugees began arriving in New Orleans today. It also seems that one of the Paris suicide bombers was also a Syrian refugee as well. Why are we even taking the risk with these folks? And this does not even begin to take into account our very own thugs, drug dealers and gang members. Keep your head in the game, know your community, know your region, look at the world’s stage . . .

Finally . . . to do nothing is to surrender the wellbeing of yourself, your family and those around you to the fates. The fates may well decide that today is the day you are fully tested . . . wouldn’t it be nice to have a fully loaded weapon on your side with a spare mag just to even things up a bit?


Wolves are simply part of nature . . . and ISIS is simply part of human nature. A dark side, an evil side . . . put still part of human nature. They will always exist, they will never be fully “defeated”.

One of my favorite movies is Oh God! (both of them). In one scene “god” is trying to explain good and evil. The argument is that you can’t experience one without the other. Light/dark, good/evil . . . we need both to experience life. What we do with that defines the outcome.

Should the good man/woman surrender and submit to evil . . . it grows, expands and threatens all in its way. If we stand against it, fight it . . . it is diminished and “good” grows, expands and threatens the existence of evil. To do nothing against those who fed the spirits of the Paris attackers is to allow evil to grow and expand. They must be confronted – directly, with true military actions. But we must never kid ourselves that the evil they represent can ever be eradicated – it can simply be reduced in influence.

If we focus on Islam, you can see a wolf that is rapidly growing in strength and is an existential threat to all who do not submit. And yes, I spread this belief across the entire faith, not just the “radicalized” portions. If I begin to see articles, speeches, sermons by clerics against the evils of these “radical elements” I might soften my view. But such things are seldom if ever seen. Islam must be confronted and resisted on all fronts. Everywhere. Everyday. Without fail. Avoidance is surrender; it’s a simple as that.

Local wolves are prevalent as well. Ferguson, Baltimore, Chicago, LA, NYC, New Orleans, Memphis . . . to name just a few are fertile breeding grounds for wolves. And those communities are littered with bodies of sheep. We ignore them at our peril. Problems of broken families, broken schools, lost jobs, little opportunity . . . these are things we can do something about. Elect officials that are pro-jobs, that expect and promote strong families, that demand excellence – real excellence – in education. This is a real battle that we need to fight every single day. Wolves need conflict to grow – reduce the conflict, increase prosperity . . . and wolves are diminished.

Where are we?

Paris is but a stone is a sidewalk. It is NOT a tragedy . . . IT IS NOT A TRAGEDY . . . it was an act of pure evil. While today’s multi-media makes it an overwhelming event it is but one event is the chain of humanity. A day, a week, a month, a year from now we will visit this kind of event again.

For today, let’s bury our dead, tend to the wounded . . .

And then it will be time to visit the wolf’s den . . .

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Training - How Close is to Close?


On or about November 9th Sherry McLain was approached in a Wal-Mart parking lot by a man asking for a light. He got to within 10 feet when she pulled her gun and threatened to kill the fellow. He made a quick exit stage right . . . went back into the store and dialed 911. Ms. McLain was arrested and charged with reckless endangerment. She felt “in fear for my life” . . . the police saw no obvious threat. I’m sure it will be hashed out in the courts and I suspect not to the favor of Ms. McLain.

Please, take a moment to listen to the entire news spot and read the article, it will “set the table” for my thoughts on this topic.

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They also have a Facebook page and this incident took center stage for a day or two with a broad range of comments by many well-known firearms instructors. Again, I would like you take a few moments to take a pass through the comments, they give an interesting look into the landscape of how professional firearms trainers view the event . . . and this also helps “set the table” for this post. The link is as follows:

Life doesn’t happen in a vacuum . . . and Shirley McLain doesn’t live in one either. Just a couple more searches . . .

The first is a search for “parking lot assault Murfreesboro tenn”, the link is here . . .

The following attack caught my eye in the search . . .

What if we tighten up the search to just Walmart parking lots (there are 3 in Murfreesboro) . . . it looks something like this . . .

Including a story about finding dead bodies in a Walmart parking lot . . .

One last search, about a favorite game played by the “yoots” of today – the “knock out game”. Is that played much in the quiet little burg of Murfreesboro?

So let’s flesh out the table setting a bit.

Shirley McLain is 67 years old. As I begin to stare at that age myself I must admit that were I to go up against a good sized critter in their teens or 20s, I may well end up on the short end of a physical assault. During her on-air interview I made a number of judgments about her – she is fairly slight, obviously frightened (though that certainly in exacerbated by the past few days) and I did not get that she was merely “saying the words” – I was in fear of my life – I believe she truly believed she was under threat. I also got the impression that she lives alone. If true that could certainly add to her discomfort.

She lives in Murfreesboro area. Just take a moment to recall the violent assaults, the victims of the knockout game and the bodies actually found in a Wal-Mart parking lot. ALL of this plays into the formula that Ms. McLain sees herself living in. Whether she knows details of all or some of the incidents – I suspect she knows of some of them. It is certainly easy to imagine herself as being in danger by simply driving to a Wal-Mart parking lot. Extreme? Maybe – but to a career criminal I suspect a Wal-Mart parking lot looks more like an ATM than we care to admit.

We live in a 24-hour news cycle that thrives on the “if it bleeds it leads” mentality. Again, this plays into a belief that I see in many of the folks that take my defensive handgun classes – things are becoming “frayed around the edges”.

Does race play a part? Sadly, yes. If you watch today’s news the “face” of violent crime in urban area, that face is all too often black. For Ms. McLain to be afraid of an approaching black man is perfectly understandable to me. In an ideal world this would not be . . . we do not live in an ideal world.

I also want to spend a bit of time on the “victim’s” side of the fence as well. Seems he bought a pack of cigarettes – there is video and witnesses to support that. However, once in the parking lot his singular choice was to look out into the parking lot (reportedly busy by news accounts) and single out an unaccompanied, elderly white woman. Is that what comes to mind when you’re looking for someone with a light for your cigarette? Really?? Heck, I’d head for the redneck in the pickup! Not the little old lady.

A second question – why not just go back in the store and pick up a dollar lighter? They’re at virtually every checkout line I’ve ever seen. A couple minutes and you can light every cig in your pack.

I’m also curious just who this guy is. Seems he’s unwilling to be interviewed. Heck if it were me I’d love to go on TV and complain about the crazy old woman who shoved a gun in my face . . . yet he refuses to do so. Why?

With these “place settings” laid out upon the table . . . the courts will obviously have the final say. I suspect it won’t end well for Ms. McLain.

There are, though, a few more things to consider and lessons to be learned here. Here they are in no particular order.

“He never got within 10 feet” I call BS on this particular argument. Were he a dedicated attacker – and didn’t have a gun in his face, we may well be reading about the poor old woman beaten and robbed in the Walmart parking lot. If you have a determined attacker within 10 feet – and you’re not up and on target – it will not end well for you.

“Pepper Spray – that’s the answer” Heard this too. I give this a “maybe”. If the attacker is committed (and in this case this woman was SELECTED for approach) I suspect that pepper spray in the hands of a 67 year old woman be little in the way of a deterrent.

“Should have evaluated the pre-attack signs” Again – I give this a “maybe”. There is not enough information here to make a determination when Ms. McLain first saw her perceived threat. If he approached across a parking lot and she had eyes on him for a significant distance – that is one thing. If he just popped up on her – he’s probably very lucky (and she as well) that he left the scene with the same number of holes he arrived at.

There are obvious things that she either forgot – probably out of fear – that we all need to remember.

Being aware of people around us as we approach our cars in parking lots. As I said earlier – in many areas these are simply ATMs for the bad guys – keep your head in the game.

DO NOT BE AFRAID TO USE YOUR VOICE! While there were many witnesses that heard Ms. McLain threaten to kill the man in question – no one that I have heard describe the event heard her say anything about him staying away from her – that she wanted him to leave and had no interest in helping him. If your course work and training does not include a loud vocal challenge – I would encourage you to work that in as part of the shooting drills.

She is obviously going to have to defend her actions in court. There are four primary areas she is going to have to be able to articulate clearly – Ability, Opportunity, Jeopardy and Preclusion. I’m not going to cover that here but if you go to THIS POST I covered it in detail. The best time to prepare for this type of defense is to take good coursework NOW, TODAY . . . no really, I mean right now and learn the things you need to be absolutely clear on should a defensive encounter occur. Massad Ayoob’s MAG-20 course is the one I point every one of my students towards should the opportunity arise. Just yanking a gun, sticking it in their face and threatening to kill them may seem like a good idea at the time – there is a whole lot more to it than that.

Finally, when the perceived threat ran away – that’s it, it’s over. Check your surroundings, holster your weapon and notify the police. DO NOT THREATEN TO KILL THEM WHILE THEY ARE RUNNING AWAY!!! Oh . . . and one other thing . . . DO NOT POINT A LOADED GUN AND EVERYONE ELSE BETWEEN YOU AND THE PERCEIVED THREAT AS THEY ARE RUNNING AWAY!!!!! Just sayin’.

So I disagree with the “quick answers” – never got within 10 feet, pepper spray, clearly no threat . . . there’s always more to it. Will that help Ms. McClain? Who knows but I would suspect not. Listening to the police, to the folks interviewed on TV – I think she’s going to get the “crazy old lady with a gun” treatment.

That does not mean that the guy wouldn’t have beaten her to a pulp if he hadn’t looked down the barrel of her revolver either . . .

For us, as armed citizens, it’s another example of why training is important. As instructors it helps point out things we need to make sure each and every student understands when they leave our classrooms.

And, as a society, it is yet another indication that things are, indeed, becoming “frayed around the edges”.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Review - AAR Iowa Precision Riflemen - 1st Club Match


Saturday, November 7th turned out to be a beautiful day. The morning was clear, temps were in the very high 30s but the wind was brisk directly out of the west at a solid 10MPH. All in all, not bad weather for the beginning of November in Iowa.

I got to the Sure Shot range around 9:30 AM and there was already a good sized group of observers and shooters. I signed in, signed the typical waiver and then we waited for the safety brief. John See started right on time with the safety brief. At the end we were split into two flights – one contained shooters 1-12 and the second shooters 13-23. I was shooter 14, in the second flight and started in the prone position.

There were 6 stages to the shoot. Let me take a walk through them.

Range with designated targets (Large) - with distances

Stage 1 – Barrel Barricade

  • 480 yards
  • 4 rounds low barricade (blue barrel on its side)
  • 4 rounds hi barricade (blue barrel on its end)
  • Target was a 16 inch steel plate
  • Time limit – 90 seconds

Stage 2 – Cattle Gate

  • 330 yards
  • 2 rounds from each of the 5 “bars” of the cattle gate.
  • Target was a 16 inch steel plate
  • Time Limit – 3 minutes

Stage 3 – Tires

  • 433 yards
  • 3 rounds from tire of a three-tire pyramid.
  • Target was a 12 inch steel plate
  • Time Limit – 2 minutes 30 seconds

Stage 4 – Speed Drill

  • 330 yards – prone position
  • Target is 4 ea. 12 inch steel plates
  • 2 rounds on each plate
  • Time Limit – 1 minute

Stage 5 – TYL – Test Your Level

  • 762 yards
  • Targets were a 16, 12, 10 and 8 inch steel plate
  • Shooting was from large to small
  • You needed to hit each plate and could not move forward until you hit the plate
  • Scoring was 1, 2, 3, 4 points – nothing lost for a miss and 1 point for every round remaining in the magazine
  • Time limit was 3 minutes

Stage 6 – KD Line – Know your Distance

  • Targets at 330 yards, 433 yards, 762 yards
  • Shooting near to far - 1 round each plate
  • Time Limit – 3 minutes

Every once in a while a shooter needs to jump into something way outside of their comfort level. That is where I was as the brief started. Everyone is whipping out a little notebook jotting down the stage specifics (I had one and soon followed suit), many had placards or cardholders strapped to their support side wrist that they put their scope dope on. There were some beautiful weapons on display with high end optics . . . yep, I had not played on this playground in the past . . . it was going to be “interesting”.

Once the brief was done the two groups moved to their separate areas – one with the three barricades setup and the other the firing line for the prone position. Each had a spotter to call the hits. My first stage was Stage 4 – the speed drill. Four plates, 330 yards, two hits per plate with 8 rounds in your magazine. The first shooter cleared the stage within time and then it was me. Heavy sigh . . . the fact I’d had little time for long range work since my long range class, that I had a new scope and few rounds behind it came to the fore pretty darn quick. Eight rounds . . . zero hits . . . yep . . . zero hits. Heavy sigh. Ah well, I’ll better on stage 7 when my turn rolls around . . . was what I told myself.

Still, there was much to observe and learn. The contents of their pack that followed each shooter, how to use dope cards, watching them dope their scope prior to their first shot, how they settled into position behind their rifles . . . how to position on barrels (whether the barrel is vertical or horizontal), on cattle gates, on tires . . . so much to learn, so little time.

Sadly, just before I’m up for by 2nd stage . . . my phone rings. I’ve not had a customer trouble call on a weekend in FIVE FRICKIN’ YEARS!!!!!!!!! Except for today . . . and a hospital in the middle of Pennsylvania had their computer network die . . . with my software caught in the process. So, after one stage . . . ZERO HITS . . . I’m outta there.

So why even bother with this short AAR? A couple reasons I think.

I wanted to share the type of stages that were set up so those of you considering poking your nose into this sport would have some idea of what to expect.

I wanted to share some of the photos of the match that were posted by the shooters – it gives a pretty good idea of what shooting this match looked like.

Frankly I wanted to share my own discomfort at jumping into the match . . . if you’re not trying things that have a bit of “butt pucker” . . . you’re not pushing yourself and you’re not growing as a shooter.

If you’re not observing, learning, asking questions . . . you’re taking “the long way home”. If you’re looking to grow in a skill set – find folks really good at it and learn first-hand what works for them . . . then see if it works for you. Push, learn, expand your skills . . . oh . . . and have FUN WITH IT!

To balance out a crappy end to my match day the customer’s system came up fairly easily once I got to my office and could punch into their system. By the time I was done they were happy and their employees could once again use my software.

And, I finished up the day helping with day qualifications for rifle, shotgun and carbine as well as pistol night qualifications for our local police department. Not a bad way to end a day.

My advice? Find your weakest skill set, start to work on it and polish it . . . then find a competition in the area that pushes you in that specific area. You will learn many things about yourself, your ability to shoot and you’ll make some new friends while you’re at it.