You Know What Happens When You Make An Assumption?

You make an ass out of “u” and… mption.

Ok, that didn’t work.

I shot a lightweight, casual indoor match at Naples Gun Range on Tuesday, and I was unpleasantly surprised by how much I sucked. I shot it with my carry Shield, and I was slow, slow, slow. I made up for it, though, with a lack of accuracy.

While I am in no ways satisfied with how I did there. However, it points out that, despite my confidence with this gun, I need a LOT more practice with my Shield, and I also need to take it to a gunsmith because it is not locking back on the last shot.

Look, if Michael Bane can trip himself up with some assumptions about his carry gear, so can I. Fortunately for me, all I need to do is head to the range more often, not subject myself to physical therapy multiple times each week.

I’ll take it. Yes, it sucks knowing I have such a long way to go, but it’s better to find out I suck now than find out when I’m on a two-way range and the stakes are much higher than a match win.

Also, this was first time I shot a match indoors, and I recommend everyone who’s serious about this sort of thing try it at least once. The physicality of shooting indoors, where you feel the muzzle blast as well as hear it, brings a new level of awareness to what’s going on. The odds are very, very slim you’ll be on a pistol bay when the balloon goes up, and if you are, brother, are you at the wrong shooting range!

The Grey Man.

The PilgrimIf there’s one thing that’s guided my gear choices these past few years, it’s “Don’t stick out”. I didn’t adapt my clothes to suit my gun, I adapted my training and gear to fit in with what’s around me. Yes, I open-carried in Arizona, but that was after I saw other people doing the same in my neighborhood, and I certainly didn’t do it to “cut down on crime” or make a political point. In fact, when I went to a “Tea Party Rally For The Second Amendment” at the Arizona state capitol, I had a t-shirt covering my sidearm, and a lot (if not most) of the other attendees were not so discreet, and to be honest, most of them looked more than a little silly, walking around like they where about to hop the next Herky Bird to Kandahar, or something.

This is why I’m trying (TRYING!) to carry what I need to adapt to the new reality of increased active shooter threats ON my person, rather than in a bag or in a vest. I like being “just another face in the crowd” because the herd immunity that concealed carry provides against criminals only works if the rams with the horns look just like any other sheep*.


* This is yet another instance where the sheepdog! metaphor breaks down. A sheepdog does not look, act, or smell like a sheep. The wolves know this, and plan accordingly.

Res Ipsa Loquitur.

aka “The Thing Itself”.

I may be wrong (and I probably am), but I think that Melody Lauer’s “Contextual Handgun: The Armed Parent/Guardian” course represents the future of post-CCW firearms training. Up until now, it’s been up to the people who take post-CCW training to apply the lessons they learn in-class to their lives.

It’s like taking a lesson in downhill skiing that’s all about edge control and balance, but nothing about how to actually go down a hill really fast. There have been attempts by trainers to contextualize what they’re teaching, but most of it has been focused around the idea of civilian training to a terrorist response. Look, I get that active shooters are a bigger problem now than they were ten years ago, (and I’m planning accordingly), but despite what’s happened in San Bernadino and Orlando, I’ve not been around an active shooter situation recently.
But have I had to guide my family thru a dark parking lot in a shady area of town late at night? Oh yeah.

I’m really hoping this becomes “a thing”, because I think things like this will be an important part of Gun Culture 3.0. It’s not a enough to own a gun for protection, you have to be able to use it well, on-demand in the context of your everyday life, and that’s what her class teaches.

If you buy a gun and don’t practice and train with it, you don’t have a defensive tool, you have a magical talisman which you hope will one day grant you the power to defend your life when called upon.

Me? My family left the idea of physical representations of protective supernatural power soon after Luther did some redecorating on the door of a cathedral in Wittenberg, but your mileage may vary.

As will your results.

Drill, Baby Drill.

We’re used to the idea of drills and practice for street crime, like shooting from retention or the Tueller Drill. We’ve had 20+ years of concealed carry history in the U.S. that up until now has been focused pretty much 100% on street crime. Street crime will always be with us, but now we also need to acknowledge the reality of maybe having to deal with an active shooter as well.

Michael Bane’s comments about making the tough shot needed to stop an active shooter has got some people thinking.

Dont just be armed, be proficient in the gun you carry! I have been flayed alive for saying you should be able to make a 25-yard head shot and a 50-yard torso shot with your carry gun. I stand by that statement, and, in fact, double down on it. If you can’t make those shots with the gun you presently carry, change guns! Get the training.

Rich Grassi (no slouch with a sidearm) tries it with three different carry guns, with mixed results.

Lessons? Well, it’s not the size of the gun, it’s the familiarity with equipment. You’d best get that pistol zeroed – smart to do it for the load you’ll carry. Know how you need to see the sights to make that hit. The Ruger American Pistol is regulated to hit to the white dot on the front sight – at least this one is – and that’s a handy bit of information to have. Making a hit in a 4×4 box at 25 yards should be no chore for a gun like that. Likewise, going 2/3 in the “x” on the option with one more on the silhouette should be easy. It’s a failure of a firm enough grip – though I could use condensation on lenses as an excuse, it’s not a good one. Consider lighting in a movie theater, for example.

T.Rex Arms (insert joke about “specializing in small arms” here) did a similar drill, and I’m not sure about what what they’re showing here is a useful drill or not. The location of the bad guy is known, all that’s happening here is a turn-and-fire drill using a rifle shot as the start signal rather than a buzzer.

What’s needed (and it will happen, because we’re smart and, unlike our President, we see the need for such things), is something like the Tueller Drill* or the El Prez**, but adapted for the reality of a guy with a rifle in a semi-crowded, low-light, indoor setting. We need to simulate*** identifying the shooter and engaging him/her with your carry gun quickly and precisely. We call it the Tueller Drill because it’s based on real-world testing, so with that in mind, I’m thinking something along these lines as a test of our ability as armed civilians to react to an active shooter. I’m not a training expert and have no ego invested in this idea, I’m just flailing away like everybody else right now, trying to make sense of the incomprehensible.

Determine Baseline: Start facing downrange with rifle at low ready, eyes closed. Six targets 25 yards are set up downrange, each with a different color Post-It™ note on it. At start signal, RO calls out a color. Shooter engages that color with one round. Repeat 5 times for average par time. Ideally, the person doing the drill should not be a practiced competitor or expert shot, but rather, just an average gun owner. Sgt. Tueller didn’t do his tests with the BYU track team, and we’re not doing this with Seal Team Six.

This test is not meant to gauge how fast the bad guy can shoot people, but rather, how fast he/she recognizes that there is someone out there shooting back at him/her. The amount of time it takes for someone to pick out a gun at 25 yards is your window of opportunity to put your hits on-target and stop the threat. After that, you’re going to be behind the firepower curve and it’s probably going to go bad for you (or me). Assume you can draw, keep your gun out of view and move to a position of cover/concealment where you can shoot back: Can you engage a target with an upper torso hit in the time frame from that scenario? Can you do a head shot in that amount of time?

Me? I don’t know, but I’m going to try, and soon.


* Yes, I know, he never meant it as a drill.
** We may poo-poo it now, but fact is, the El Prez is/was the beginning of creating shooting drills based on real-world situations. Dismiss it at your own peril.
*** Simulate, not replicate. Drills are not scenarios, scenarios are not drills.

Upgrades Available.

Looking over my carry gear, I can see three areas that I need to address fairly quickly.

  • Ammo. I have room in my pockets for another magazine for the Shield, so I’m tossing one in there. There’s no reason why I can’t carry another mag with me, because slide lock sucks.
  • Accuracy. I’m leaning very strongly towards adding a laser for the Shield. A laser will help a lot with getting hits on-target, and that’s never a bad thing. Yes, I know, red dots are the current hotness, however…
    • Lasers work better than red dots from broken positions where a good sight picture is an iffy proposition at best.
    • Lasers work great indoors and in dark locations. With my concert-going days over, I’m more concerned about attacks in a church, and a laser will work just fine in that situation.
    • Thirdly, the skinnier slide on the Shield means no red dot can mount on it. I’m willing to trade out a red dot for a skinnier gun that I’ll carry more often.
  • Other things. I’m starting to carry a handkerchief around with me, because having something on me to to wipe sweat away/ clean dirty faces / stuff into a gaping wound is darn handy.

It’s not that I’m arming up to take on the Leprechaun Liberation Army single-handedly, it’s that everyday stuff happens every day in my life, and having a flashlight when it’s dark or a knife or something else comes in darn handy at times. I play the odds, and I have stuff for the things that probably will happen, but I also cover my bets on the violent long shots, because the stakes for those games are mighty high indeed.

Because I’m bad. I’m nation-wide.

One of the disappointments from my time at Lotus Gunworks was not being able to work on a chain-wide marketing strategy as was originally planned*. They have three stores, two with ranges and were, I believed, in a great position to expand beyond that into a nation-wide brand of high-end gun stores and, more importantly, gun ranges.

For a variety of reasons, that didn’t happen, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t going to happen. Pincus is coast-to-coast, and GunSite has FINALLY left Paulden, but there has yet to be anyone who has created a nation-wide shooting range experience. Gander Mountain is trying with the Gander Academy, and although guntry clubs are popping up all over the country, no one is trying to unify the experience and set expectations for service and features for high-end shooting ranges.

Yet.

Someone is going to figure out that people with lots of money buy memberships in exclusive clubs like high-end shooting ranges and that money=mobility. People who move around a lot want to know that the service they get in the summer home in Ypsilanti will be there in winter home in Wiinter Haven. This (and increased purchasing power) is why chain restaurants tend to do better than local restaurants, because they tend to provide the same experience no matter the location. To borrow from another nationwide business chain, the best surprise is no surprise.

When it comes to the gun range experience, for shooters, every new range is potentially a new surprise. Someone’s going to take their gun range brand across the country, it’ll be interesting to see who it will be.

Yep, another musical reference in the title.


* That was the LEAST of my disappointments with that place, but we’ll table the rest of that discussion for later.