Tactical, Schmactical

I was looking at a video on the website of the range I run courses at. In the video there’s someone saying about how great the facility is (it is a very good training facility, much more than a simple firing range) and showing video of some of the training he was doing there. Everybody is kitted full-up and running carbines and handguns with lights on them from drop-leg holsters, whole ‘tactical’ ball of wax. As far as I know, this was a course for those without military or LE jobs who, I would bet, don’t walk out of their house with a slung carbine and load-bearing equipment set up with four to six magazines for that carbine on them. (Actually, I’m willing to bet that very few law enforcement officers day-to-day work clothes involve chest rigs or thigh holsters and slung rifles as a normal thing.)

I don’t run courses that require you to kit yourself out. I design my courses of instruction to what–to the best of my current knowledge–most of us will have on our persons or be able to get into our hands when we won’t have much if any time to get something out and ready to face an attack with.

I’m not going to think of you with disdain if you show up for my rifle class without at least a chest rig or a warbelt on. Unless that’s what you normally wear, that is. Otherwise, I design instruction to fit those situations–the majority of most of our time, in other words–that we won’t have that on or where we can put it on in a few seconds.

I’m not going to care if you come to a pistol class without a weapon-mounted light or a low-riding holster for your pistol, either–again, unless that’s what you normally wear day-to-day. I’d rather you come with what you normally wear and carry so I can help you learn to fight better with that.

I don’t want to make anybody more “tactical”. I just want to make it easier for them to be the ones still standing after the fight is over.

At least in my area that’s beginning to look like an somewhat odd-ball attitude among instructors. But it’s mine and I’m going to keep it.

Straight On, Straight In

I’ve been focusing on this lately: Gun out of holster, goes level in target direction, moves to extension in a straight line. That line doesn’t have to be a level one, it just needs to be straight. I don’t personally pull the gun to a strict pectoral/number two position before extension usually. I level and extend from where it comes out of the holster.

I stress that level gun a lot. You want to be able to take a shot at any point from the holster to extension. You may have to if the attacker is close or closing. You won’t always start shooting from that position but you want to be able to if you need to.

So…level gun in-line with the target and extended level to final shot/shooting position.

A lot of you do that. What I’m asking you is do you practice to do that from anything other than a forward direction?

When you draw, you don’t want to sweep someone around you who’s not a target. If you have to draw without being able to turn to face the attacker you’re drawing to, you need to be able to level the gun in a different direction at the same time you move it in a vertical plane to get it on-line to the shot.

If you haven’t practiced that, you may not do it. If you haven’t practiced that, you may end up leveling to the front and then having to turn the gun horizontally to the direction of the attack. Depending on where you’re at and what and who is around you or very close to you, that could be a problem you don’t need and don’t have to have.

So while you’re practicing the drawstroke–dry-practice or live fire, doesn’t matter–take some time, set yourself up facing some direction away from the target (when I’m doing it in detail I do an eight-direction series) and look at what it takes to get the gun level and onto target that way.

Don’t always do this square-on…you may not have a chance to get that way before you have to shoot.

Be ready for it.

I Wonder Now About the Weaver

The stance, that is.

It used to be taught a lot. Not sure how much it’s still done formally nowadays.

What I’ve seen some of and what I’ve been told is that even those who trained a lot with the Weaver stance abandoned it in a New York Minute once they started getting actually shot at.

That said, I’m pretty sure there are shooters that were trained with the Weaver that did not abandon it even under threat against their lives.

I think on it now and wonder something about it, to wit–

The Weaver was developed by a man named Jack Weaver who used it to win competitions. The competitions were being run by Jeff Cooper in large part as a way for him to research about the best way to run a pistol in a fight. (That’s one of the criticisms offered about the Weaver, that it was derived from competition and not from actual fight experience.) The competitions were man-to-man draw-and-shoot, fastest hit wins. Until Jack Weaver, the competitors were point shooting, often from the hip. Jack brought it up to eye-line and got on the sights and was beating everybody else. So the Weaver became The Thing To Do for quite a while.

I suddenly find myself wondering, though:

Did Jack Weaver use the Weaver when he was reacting to a threat on the job? He was a Sheriffs Deputy, and would have faced threats that develop suddenly in close proximity just like law enforcement officers of all kinds do today. When a contact went wrong on the job without or on short notice, did Deputy Weaver get himself into the stance and position that Competitor Weaver did? Or did he do what I’ve seen and still seen other LE do in videos and hear about them doing other ways–get the gun up to the eye-line, maybe get on the sights and maybe not, and get rounds on target, sometimes one-handed and not in any ‘official’ stance or posture at all? What did he do when he didn’t have a chance to set up for the possible need to shoot someone?

I find myself wondering about that.

Pistol vs. Rifle, Round Three

I’m reading people on forums saying they wouldn’t have much of a chance of fighting two rifle-armed terrorists with “just” a handgun. Getting tired of that meme of “rifle beats pistol, period”. So let me try beating on it one more time:

In a building or as someone approaches the building, a rifle only has two advantages: Power and additional points of contact. Other than that, it’s not some mystical magical totem that renders pistols inoperable for a hundred yards, neither does it inject fog into the operator’s mind and/or cloud their sight. And once you get inside the building the pistol gains one advantage in it being easier to maneuver with in small spaces. Unless you have decided that their rifle trumps all, you have a better chance than any of the cartoonists and editors targeted at the Charlie Hebdo office in Paris did. You, after all, have a gun.

Besides that: If you’re going to get shot and die anyway like some here seem to be thinking they will in the back of their minds, are you going to have anything to lose by setting up and taking some shots? Wouldn’t you rather die fighting back? Or is hiding under the desk a better way for everybody else to know you went out? What picture do you want entered into evidence (assuming you die, which is–sorry to disappoint some of you–not a certainty)? You in a fetal position on the floor with gunshot wounds in your back and your blood soaking your clothes? Or you lying by at least a magazine’s worth of shell casings, your pistol near your hand where it slipped out as you lost strength, with those holes in your front soaking your clothing with blood?

Which one do you want?

I’m Not A Gun-Guy

Don’t want to disappoint anybody, but there it is.

I’ve been described as a ‘gun guy’, a ‘gun enthusiast’, and a ‘gun nut’ from time to time or at least lumped into those categories.

Problem is, those labels are incorrect.

Yes, I engage in the study of the use of arms. Yes, I instruct others in this subject. Yes, I maintain interest in current technology and manufacture of firearms. Sometimes, I see one or another weapon and I think it’s neat and that I’d like to have one. Or I find some feature or modification of a weapon to be interesting.

I don’t like or dislike any particular firearm or class of firearms for their own sake, though. I don’t get any given gun just so I’ll have it. And I’m not particularly loyal to any particular firearm or class of firearms just for what they are.

Guns to me are what I use as part of my study of the use of arms. Guns to me are what I might have to use some time to preserve my life of the life of another person. Guns to me are things that are of use to me for certain and specific reasons. If they don’t serve some purpose, they usually are sold off sooner rather than later. Guns to me are rather mundane on that level.

No, I’m not a ‘gun guy’. I’m just a guy that uses guns to do his work with.

It’s as simple as that.

They Already Know

In the opening of a book the author states that he’s going to be vague about certain details of tactics because he doesn’t want any bad guy that reads it to learn something they can use against good guys.

Despite the great respect I have for this author and everybody else who has done what he did and who does what he does, I think he’s being a bit naive if he really believes that.

Because bad guys are not all stupid.

Bad guys go into and through the military and get training.

Bad guys pay for classes and get training. (Most instructors and schools attempt to filter them out ahead of time, but no filter is 100% effective.)

Bad guys rent and buy videos and watch them.

Bad guys read books and learn from them.

Some bad guys are trained by our own good guys as part of military aide and foreign training programs.

Bad guys also learn from their own experience and from other bad guys’ experiences.

All of this from all these sources is exchanged between bad guys on a continuous and ongoing basis.

Because bad guys are not all stupid.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that them knowing what we know already doesn’t make them equal to us. At least, it doesn’t have to. We can still come up with new wrinkles for things already known. We can and do execute the things already known better than others that know them do. Besides that, not every bad guy is completely up to speed even if they happen to be more motivated that the run-of-the-mill criminal is to keep their skills up to date.

You shouldn’t underestimate them, though.

And you shouldn’t think like the writer of that book implies he does that we know something they don’t still.

Could get you killed if you do.

“In cases of defence ’tis best to weigh
The enemy more mighty than he seems:
So the proportions of defence are fill’d…”


When You’re Getting Afraid To Carry


on a forum I participate in:

“I know many will disagree with me, but I am so worried that I have gotten to the point of not carrying. I would rather have my wallet stolen or be dead than go through what some police officers have had to go through in the past few months.”

This my response:

Okay–you’ve surrendered. Are you going to get rid of all your guns? You don’t want them any more, it seems.

Are you a police officer? If you are not, you will not go through what the police officers have. You might go through what George Zimmerman did IF you act like he did and IF you keep talking like he did and like you’re not supposed to after a shooting.

Why tell us that you have surrendered? Are you pleased with that and wish to share your happiness? Or, as I think, are you fighting yourself about that decision and wish us to help you fight back?

I think you would like to drop that white flag you’re waving or else you wouldn’t make this post. So here’s what I recommend:

Review use-of-force laws in your state or municipality. If you think it will help, find an attorney and if necessary pay him for an hour of consultation about such things.

Review your own personal use-of-force rules and regulations. Make yourself as certain as possible about what the lines are in your mind and spirit.

Provide yourself with self-defense insurance. Preferably, the kind that offers some money up front. You may also want to move assets into a trust fund or otherwise shield them from personal legal action. Give yourself some resources to fight a case with.

Read accounts of citizens who employed lethal force and did NOT suffer from masses of protestors or the New Black Panthers putting bounties on them. There are far, far more of them than there are of those reported by the mainstream media. Sign on to newletters such as the ‘Defensive Use of Firearms’ for almost daily examples of such events.

Do study accounts of people such as Zimmerman (frankly, police incidents may be instructive but are not as relevant to non-police as we think they are) to find out what mistakes were made by the defenders and learn what to avoid in your own after-action actions and statements.

Pick up some of Massad Ayoob’s books and go through those.

Part of your fear is based on a lack of knowledge and understanding of all that you can do and of how the process works. Resolve to address that.

Understand the three phases of this kind of fight–the preparation before, the fight itself, and the aftermath. You can do something to increase your chances of walking through all of them. Some people don’t understand that fully.

Finally–rather be dead? Honestly, now? Because however bad it might actually get, you can come back from even something like Zimmerman went through. Even if it gets that bad, you have the chance to recover from that.

You think you can recover from being dead? Are you really going to let your family hang without you? Are you really going to deny them your support and provision? Don’t you care about what they will go through if you let yourself die? Are you that selfish?

I think not. I think you just haven’t thought this through all the way. Now, you have more information. Make use of it. Start now.

And put down the white flag, please. It’s blocking the light you need to see by.

On Target Feedback

I’m not sure about the use of steel targets for handgun training, specifically for counter-offensive handgun training.

Steel presents a magnified version of the same problem you get with paper targets, that being that you get immediate feedback from the shot.

Over and over again I’ve heard and read and seen (in video of shootings) that you don’t see any given shot or shots hitting. You don’t see that you’re hitting or not when you’re shooting someone. At most you see something puff or fly out (the clothing or perhaps dust or dirt). That doesn’t happen all the time, though.

The only feedback you should expect to get shooting an attacker is a change in that attacker’s attitude or behavior. That’s always not going to be instant or immediate like with paper or steel.

Best I can advise to get some idea of how that will really look is to get some shirts and put them over paper targets. That should cut most of the usual hit indicators and give you a better idea of what it will look like to shoot somebody and not some thing.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I gotta go find some cheap t-shirts…

Why Do Instructors So Often Do Video Demonstrations Without Cover?

It’s a pet peeve of mine. I watch a video of somebody that shows how fast they are doing some shooting drill. Allmost invariably it’s from an uncovered holster and often from a range-only setup that I either know or would bet is not the same as they wear when they’re off the range carrying concealed.

Why is the speed that you, the demonstrator, can draw and shoot with relevant to me, the viewer, if you’re not doing the drawing and shooting the way I carry?

If you want me to take your class to learn how to defend myself with a concealed pistol, why are you showing me what you can do from an open, uncovered setup, maybe one that is different from what you wear off the range?

Why should I care about how fast you are without cover? Especially when I know some people that are as fast and faster from under the same cover and with the same holster and pistol they carry every day, on the range or not?

Show me something relevant to what I want and need to learn, please, ladies and gentlemen.

I myself do videos and show things from an uncovered position. I do that for specific reasons, mainly when showing something meant for someone starting out or when I want to clearly show the process I am talking about.

If I’m just going to show what I can do or if I’m demonstrating something related to counteroffensive shooting I will run it from cover. That’s relevant to what most people do and to what I teach people how to do. I want to show them how it really works and that includes some hiccups that come up sometimes (I get teaching points from the hiccups anyway, more often than not.)

I don’t see running a timer from an open rig on video as a useful exercise for an instructor most times. Simple as that. Too often it seems more “Look at me! Look at me!” than anything else.

Fact is, I don’t care about looking at you. Why should I? What benefit does looking at you bring to me? I want to see something that will help me. If I see that, I’m more likely to help you by paying you for instruction.

Show it to me the way I do it. Show it to me the way I need to learn it. Show me why I should pay for your course and not somebody else’s.

That’s all I’m asking.

Love That Kills

“I love me my __________.”

I see that sometimes on a forum thread entry. Or:

“I love ___________.”

This sometimes refers to a specific gun but more often I see it applied to a class of guns. Most often, I read it applied to revolvers, with 1911-pattern pistols coming in a usually distant second. (On the forums I read most from. The ratings may be different in other places.)

Let’s focus on revolvers and 1911s as examples. Both pretty kewl (geekish term) kind of guns to me. With modern materials and manufacturing they’re very reliable and functional weapons.

Are they functional enough?

Could be just the one guy coming at you. As of the last Uniform Criminal Report I read (there may be a more current one out now, but I don’t expect it to show much difference), you’re about as likely to get two or more coming at you. Five shots enough? Six shots enough? Eight? Are you carrying reloads? Or are you using one of the Six Bad Excuses listed here:

Massad Ayoob: 6 Bad Excuses To Not Carry Spare Ammo

If it’s a wheelgun especially, do you think you can get more rounds in the gun in time if they’re still coming after you’ve emptied it?

Sure, the odds are you won’t have to. Odds are you won’t get targeted. Why not just leave the gun you love at home then? Save it some holster wear or exposure to sweat and humidity.

Speaking of leaving it–can you handle the idea that police will a) take your gun as evidence following a shooting incident and b) place your gun in an evidence locker where their only concern will be making sure they know when it comes out and who takes it out of there for who-knows-how-long? Yes, you’ll get it back assuming you made a legal shooting. It’ll go into evidence for a while, though. Can you see the gun you love in that locker without feeling anxious?

Okay, you shoot ________ better that anything. Better enough? If you can still hit what you want to and what you need to with something that makes a better fighting gun, does the difference between overlapping holes and holes a quarter to a half inch apart during aimed fire on a range matter when you might well be pulling that trigger as fast as you can and not conscious of any sight picture on the street? As long as you can make the ‘hostage shot’ with the better fighting gun, as long as you can fire accurate bursts with that gun, does it really matter that you can shoot better (however you define it) with something less suitable to the fight?

Capability trumps love. Capability matters more than love. More capability might help you stay alive one day. Love might help you die.

Choose wisely.