Amateurs, Dilletantes and Professionals

“Amateurs discuss tactics, dilettantes discuss strategy, professionals discuss logistics”.

– Anon

Thinking more about this throwaway line from my photography post last week

… gaffer’s tape, foam core and a-clamps, because let’s face it, when you get right down to it, those are more important than the camera.

… got me thinking. I assisted for a good number of photographers in my youth, both local and national, and while all of them shot with the same brands of cameras you could find in a decently good pro shop, the difference in their photos was in what else they brought to the shoot besides their camera.

For instance, for a typical on-location corporate or editorial shoot, we’d pack up the van with a big case of lights (3’x2’x4′), 2-3 strobe power packs, a stand bag as big as a big golf bag, a tripod, a grip case the size of a medium suitcase stuffed with cords, clamps and whatnot, a cooler for film (kids, ask your parents), and another case for the cameras.

Out of the seven or eight cases on the shoot, only one held the items to actually take the shot, the rest of the equipment was about getting the environment prepared to take the shot.

Even fashion shooters, who usually eschew artificial lighting, bring along an assortment of reflectors, scrims and umbrellas designed to produce the soft, open light they need for a shot. A pro knows it’s not about the camera in your hands, it’s about controlling the light and the composition. The actual tripping of the shutter is just the last step.

So what does this have to do with guns?

Think about how many wannabes out there are CONVINCED that all they for better pictures is a new camera or a new lens, when really, all they need to do is see the light and know how to turn it into something useful.

How many wannabees out there are CONVINCED that all they need to make GM is a new magwell and more grip tape and new sights and a new holster, when all they need to do is recognize how they shoot a stage and what they need to change in themselves?

How many wannabes out there are CONVINCED that all they need to secure their family’s safety is the latest Blastomatic3000 heater, when really, all they need to do is pay attention to their surroundings, don’t do dumb things with dumb people and carry their gun in a safe, secure holster on a good gun belt?

It’s not your gear that’s the limitation, it’s what you do with it and what you see that is holding you back.

As Dave Barry Might Say…

Florida Man“.

A Land O’ Lakes man faces a manslaughter charge after he allegedly tried to shoot a bucket from a man’s head — but missed, killing him.

According to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office, the whole thing started Sunday evening outside the Rock Harley Saloon in Land O’ Lakes. They say Billy Lee McDaniel was undergoing an initiation into the Southern Sons Motorcycle Club — an act that apparently involved holding a plastic bucket above his head while club members threw cups and bottles into it.

That’s when, deputies say, Jeffrey Camarda tried to shoot the bucket from McDaniel’s head, but missed and hit him in the head instead.

Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.

I should have read this four years ago, but I couldn’t.

Because, sadly, the tactical training community doesn’t think like this.

When I was just beginning this blog (and my journey towards the firearms industry, I noticed that there was a gap between what I was being taught and what I needed. In all my tactical classes, in all my competitions, in everything I could find about personal defense (unarmed or not), it was about me dealing with a threat, or me dealing with the after effects of dealing with a threat, or me doing something else.

It was all about me. The fact is, however, as a married man with a family, it’s not about me, it’s about my family. I have a blowout kit nearby not only for myself, but also because I want my family to survive the use of deadly force if (God forbid) I need to use it. I’m not doing this just because I want to live (I do), I’m doing this because this I want me AND my loved ones to live.

And I know I’m not alone in this. You’d think that tactical instructors would realize that their ideal target market (middle-aged professionals) are concerned about protecting all they hold dear and stress training that covers not just the person in the classroom, but the people they know as well.

And you’d be wrong. Finally, though, that’s starting to change.

Defensive training and practice typically involve one person alone against single or multiple assailants. But most of our lives, we are with other people. The difference between training/practicing alone and working with others leaves a significant hole in our capabilities until we practice to fill that void.

Critically look at how having a partner would alter your response to a defensive incident. “Partner” can mean any number of different people: spouse or significant other, a small child, or an elderly parent. Each type of partner can impose different considerations on your tactics, techniques and procedures.

Read the whole thing because it is, quite frankly, the first thing I’ve found that lays out the steps a family needs to stay safe, beyond just recommending both parents get a gun and train as a team. Arming my wife is just not an option for me right now, but now I have a path I can follow to help my family stay safe. It may have taken four years to get here, but at least I’ve arrived.

Competition Will Get You Killed On The Streets Of Iraq, Part Deux

First it was the Army, now it’s the Marines.*

The most dramatic recommendations from the fiscal 2015 Marksmanship Symposium at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, in October call for studying the overhaul of the Corps’ service rifles.

But those comprise only a small fraction of the overall approved and proposed changes that affect everything from ammunition to ranges and basic tables of fire used for annual rifle qualifications.

Some changes already have been approved, including revisions to the tables of fire for rifle training and qualification and the launch of three-gun style competitions for Marines throughout the fleet.

Parting thought: If you shoot 3 Gun with a service rifle, does it invalidate the “This is my rifle, this is my gun, one is for fighting, the other for fun” rule?

* Yes, I know, the Marines actually started this kind of program before the Army did, but I wrote about the Army’s program first, Mr. Pedantic Know-It-All.

Competitive Shooting Will Get You Killed On The Streets Of Iraq.

Army Marksmanship Unit

Or, you know, not.

Master Sgt. Scott Satterlee is really good at shooting things. He’s a member of the U.S. Army’s elite 1st Special Forces Group based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state. He’s also a nationally ranked competitive precision rifle shooter—and one of the military’s best marksmen.

Satterlee says he has learned a lot about firearms in the world of competitive shooting. It’s influenced how he shoots—and why he came to recognize flaws in how the military prepares soldiers for war.

He’s the operations sergeant at JBLM’s Special Forces Advanced Urban Combat Course. After years of combat deployments around the world, training soldiers and shooting at civilian weapon ranges around the United States, he thinks it’s time we radically revamp the way we think about firearms training.

Read the whole thing. Suffice to say that a bona-fide Tier One Operator got a wake-up call when he stepped into the box at a practical shooting match.

Hat tip to Phil Wong of Gator Farm Tactical for the story.

File under Zanshin, Moment Of.

Zanshin: A zen state when the mind is fully vigilant and aware of its surroundings; when the mind remains still without being attached to anything and is totally present during every moment and action in the here and now. In Budo, Zanshin means being aware of one’s surroundings and enemies, while being prepared to react and being unaffected by pain. It is a state of mind that takes years of training to develop. Through the practice of Zazen and Budo, little by little, this kind of alertness can expand to every action of one’s daily life, and in the end, one realizes that there are no ordinary moments.

10407302_10205027790669361_8229928877877432729_n

Nova Scotia Nazis. I hate Nova Scotia Nazis.

Chances of this kind of attack being successful in Canada? Pretty good. Chances of it being successful in Dallas, Tampa Bay or Phoenix? Substantially less so.

Nova Scotia RCMP Commanding Officer Brian Brennan says a 19-year-old man and a 23-year-old American woman from Geneva, Ill., had planned to go to a public venue in the Halifax region today “with a goal of opening fire to kill citizens, and then themselves.”

In a refreshing change from similar incidents, it wasn’t Islamic terrorists who were behind this, but plain ol’ Nazis, albeit Canadian Nazis.

The 23-year-old American woman who allegedly plotted to carry out a massacre at a Canadian mall on Valentine’s Day posted harrowing messages online for years before the plan was foiled.
Lindsay Kantha Souvannarath, from Geneva, Illinois, posted about her admiration of Hitler, the Columbine killers and other murderers on her Facebook page, Tumblr site and forums, and even hinted at the deadly plan, writing last Wednesday: ‘Valentine’s Day. It’s going down.’
Two days after the post, she was arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit murder after police received a tip. Randall Shepherd, 20, of Nova Scotia was arrested on the same charges.
A third suspect, James Gamble, 19 killed himself as police moved to arrest him at his home in Nova Scotia, and a fourth – a 17-year-old boy – has been released from custody.

They planned to shoot up a shopping mall in (largely disarmed) Atlantic Canada for a reason, and part of that reason was they could get away with it without be shot.

Carry your frickin’ guns, people, and stay awake when do.

Learning for a lifetime

Thinking more about yesterday’s post, what’s more important: Teaching techniques, or instilling the passion to learn how to stay safe?

It seems to me that tactical trainers get caught up in the superiority of the gun-fu they’re teaching and then forget that what they’re actually doing is *teaching* first, perfecting gun-fu second.

An example:

There’s a small husband and wife firearms training team here in Naples that could teach the big boys a thing or two about customer service and creating repeat business. They both have great training creds (Givens, Farnham, Suarez and others), and work well together. They have a weekly demonstration/lecture class at a local church and then host a “range day” on the weekend where people can practice what they learned earlier. Their clientele is both single men and woman, and more couples than I’m used to seeing in a firearms training class. They also have a lot of older, retired people in their classes, but you know what? That’s the market here in “Heaven’s Waiting Room”.

In other words, they create loyal customers by knowing their market and teaching to their market. They don’t teach advanced-level gun-fu, but they get people used to using their guns and stay aware of their surroundings. I’ve seen how they train people, and I know they’ve made an impact on the lives of the people they’ve taught.

And unsurprisingly, one of them is also a middle-school math teacher.

So it turns out that people who are good at teaching also make good firearms teachers.

Who knew?