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.

A Man In Full

I like the Sheriff’s thinking here. My goal for the past few years hasn’t been to become Todd Jarrett in my middle ages but to be competent with whatever gun is placed in front of me, and more than competent with my defensive firearms. It’s an on-going process and progress has been much slower than I wanted, but there has been progress. I’m fairly confident in my ability to defend my life and my loved one’s lives with my defensive pistol, to the point where I’m now concentrating on the more “gamer” elements of pistolcraft. Next up is taming the long-range game because that will help with 3Gun as well. I’ll never be as good as some (if not most) because I started too late and let the other cares of this world interfere with my goals, but I’m competent and confident.

Here’s hoping I never have to find out how competent I really am.

Current Every Day Carry, Part Two

Shield carry

Last week, prior to the massacre in Orlando, I changed up my non-office concealed carry gear. I went from carrying a full-size 9mm handgun back to carrying a sub-compact 9mm S&W Shield, and added in a small trauma/1st aid kit to my belt, under my shirt. I weighed the benefits of having double the ammo on me with the P07 versus having a tourniquet and some Quikclot on me, and came down in favor of medical supplies. I have good friends who are really smart who suggest at least 30 rounds are the minimum ammo load to carry these days, but the 8+1 (plus another eight) in the Shield should be enough to get me to my home or to my car, where more things are there for my use (including more first aid gear). Also, I’m just as confident with my ability to make the shot with the Shield as I am with the bigger P07. I’ve shot the Shield in competition and I’ve trained with it as well. I know it works, and I know what I can do with it.

I decided to carry a trauma kit on me because “near me” is not “with me”. I’ve had first aid kits near me for quite some time now, but I decided to carry one on me because the 3-5 minutes it would take to retrieve a tourniquet from my car is also about as long as it would take for me or a loved out to bleed out from a gunshot wound.

That’d suck.

To see how everything carried and how heavy it seemed, I carried all that gear on a walk in the hot Florida sun up and down the beach Saturday afternoon. Believe it or not, everything there concealed under an untucked white t-shirt, and I didn’t notice the weight all. More importantly, no one else noticed it, either. Mission accomplished.

Clockwise from lower left:

Current Every Day Carry, Part One

Sccy's the limit

I’ve not been happy with my P3AT for quite some time now. The gun has a pretty nasty trigger bite, and even the upgrade to a Galloway trigger hasn’t helped things, it is just not a fun gun to shoot.

That’s a big problem because a gun you don’t shoot is a gun you don’t practice with, and that means your ability to use the durn thing is in question (even bigger problem). However, a solution has presented itself in the form of my second generation Sccy CPX-2. I carried a Sccy in an office environment for a couple of years, and it hides well in a pocket holster. However, after having three of the darn things break on me during practice sessions, sanity took hold and I started carrying something else.

I got this gun after Sccy swapped out my cranky, unreliable first generation gun for their newer version. Wth a more ergonomic grip than the first version, the new Sccy is comfortable to shoot and is definitely more accurate than the P3AT it will be replacing. As an added bonus, given the recent massacre in Orlando, the added firepower and accuracy of the Sccy over the P3AT might come in handy if things go south. I carry this gun at least four days a week, so having a firepower upgrade for the gun I carry the most is a good thing.

Clockwise From Upper Left:

  • Sccy CPX-2, the version without a safety.
  • Two mags, one with a pinkie extension, one without.
  • CRKT Pazoda – I love this knife because it doesn’t stick up out of my pocket but is still fairly quick to get into action with just the support hand.
  • iPhone 6+, Magpul case.
  • Pocket Holster. To be honest, I forget who makes this holster, and I’m too lazy to chase it down right now. I think it might be a Galco.
  • Ridge Wallet – A birthday present from my wife. It’s trim, (2/3rds the size of my old wallet) and blocks RFID quite nicely.
  • 21 Rounds of Federal 124 gr HST.
  • Keychain – Leatherman PS, Photon Micro II.

All of this disappears quite nicely into the pockets of my work khakis, yet still gives me the four things I recommend besides a CCW gun.

Mission accomplished.

The Biggest Atrocity Would Be If We Learned Nothing From The Horror.

A few helpful links to help prevent another attack like the one in Orlando this weekend:

  • Like him or lump him, Gabe Suarez was ahead of the game on this sort of attack. Read and learn.
  • There’s a natural progression for the serious civilian who carries a gun that goes from realizing the need to carry a gun, then carrying a gun, then having the realization that if people shoot at you and your loved ones, you might get hit and and die so you want to be prepared to deal with that reality. Greg Ellifritz has a coupleof great links on emergency medical gear for people who don’t wear a badge and gun, go check them out.
  • The killer and his wife may have scouted Downtown Disney before the attack. This brings things home for me a bit: I was in Orlando last month on a family vacation While we didn’t go to Disney World this time, it’s on our list of things we want to visit soon. The theme park we did go to on that vacation had a bag search and wanded us with metal detectors, but despite that, I walked into the park with my Boker knife in my pocket. Takeaway from this: You are never as safe as the security guards say you are.
  • Oh, and I wrote stuff at Ricochet about this as well.

Cheaper Than Derp.

Sumdood posts a good question in a gun forum on Facebook:

I have a question for the group. I carry a .45 that uses a single stack 8+1, my question is should I carry extra mags? And how many?

Of course you should carry a spare mag. Guns malfunction, and a good portion of the malfunctions with a modern semi-automatic pistol involve problems with the magazine. You should carry a spare mag and a flashlight and a knife and a phone (and maybe a lighter and some from of medkit) because stuff happens, and Murphy rules the universe.

But that’s not the answer he gets. Rather, he receives 30+ posts which repeat, in form or another, “You need three spare magazines on you at all times because you never know when you’ll need to shoot 31 terrorists in the face and you’ll need an extra round just to be sure!!!1!!”. (The other 30+ posts denigrate the 1911 and/or .45 as a defensive firearm option. Somethings never change…).

I’ve never shot a terrorist in the face (yet), but I have had to walk through a dark parking lot when a flashlight came in handy. I have shot my carry gun in a match and had it burp on me, and an extra mag came in handy when it did. I have needed a knife to open up packaging and the other useful things that knives do. I have had one of my sons need a bandage at a moment’s notice, so having a small medkit nearby is darn useful.

Life isn’t a video game with three dozen bad guys per level and power-ups and health packs scattered around everywhere. I carry things that will help me deal with what has happened and what’s likely to happen, along with just a teensy little bit of what’s unlikely to happen (but would be really, really bad if it did) as well. If I get into a situation where a pistol and a spare mag is not enough to get me to safety and/or a rifle or a shotgun, well, then it’s time to slap a colander on my face and go full Rockatansky.

The Soda Can Plan.

31cN0I7SsaLSpeaking of processes, let’s walk through the process of qualifying for a concealed carry permit in a classroom environment.

  1. You go to the classroom. Because most (if not all) concealed carry classes are led by people who learned to teach the NRA way and are located in areas where a negligent discharge would be a very, very bad thing, there is no ammo alllowed the classroom. Your gun will remain in its case, usually at the front of the room, until it’s time from the optional dry fire practice to work on grip.
  2. You learn about laws and stuff, and have some guidance on when you can and cannot legally shoot someone.
  3. If your instructor includes it in his/her curriculum, you go up to a table at the front of the room and, under your instructor’s watchful eye, you get a few seconds of instruction on grip, stance, breathing and trigger press (because NRA, that’s why). Maybe it’s with your unloaded gun, maybe it’s with the instructor’s blue gun.
  4. If needed for your permit, you go to the range, where you shoot X number of rounds to attain Y score (or not) at Z distance which proves you can shoot a gun. Yay you.

Question: At any time during this process did you actually try to carry a firearm on your person? There was a brief glimpse of what it’s like to hold a gun and shoot a gun, but was there anything about what it’s like to carry a gun?

Isn’t that the whole point of this exercise?

There are obvious safety reasons why instructors don’t want guns on hips of absolute newbies in the classroom, loaded or not, and I think those rules should stay in place because they work quite well. However, they also cut people off from the ultimate goal of a CCW class, which is not qualifying someone for a permit, but rather, getting them to carry a defensive sidearm. After all, what good is a permit* to do something if you don’t actually do it?

Just as an instructor uses blue guns to simulate holding a real gun in your hands, why not use a simulator to mimic carrying a gun around with you all the time?

At this point, trainers are going to scream “That’s insane, I can’t afford a dozen blue guns and holsters!,” and they’re right, it’s stupid to buy that amount of gear for this task. However, what we are simulating is the weight and awkwardness of carrying a gun, not the gun itself. Blue guns simulate how a gun feels in the hand, what’s needed, however, is something super-cheap and safe that simulates the weight of gun on your hip.

If you want to get people used to carrying a heavy weight on their hip, why not start with… having them carry around a heavy weight on their hip? A Glock 19 with a full load of ammo weighs about 29 ounces. A 16 ounce bottle of soda weighs a little under 18 ounces. Team that bottle of pop**  with one of these, and you have a completely safe way of introducing the added weight and inconvenience of carrying a gun on their hips for about the same price as a couple of boxes of ammo. When your students come into the classroom, hand them a soda (or a bottle of water) and a belt clip. Have them carry around the soda on their hip the entire class. Get them used to having something heavy on their waist for extended periods of time. For 99.9% of your students, this will be their first introduction into the reality of what it feels like to carry a gun all the time.

Why do this? Because people who carry their guns tend to see the need for more training on how to properly use their gun more than people who just get a piece of paper and ignore their guns, that’s why. If you want a revenue stream that goes beyond “turn’n’burn” CCW classes, you need to start thinking about ways to turn your students into lifelong learners who see you as a trusted source of information, not just someone who cashed the check for their CCW class.

* Save the discussion about permitting a human right for another time. We’re talking about the process as it is, not how it should be.
** For our northern and/or Canadian friends.

Process-Driven Instruction Is Not The Answer

Thinking more about this line from last week,

This is the concealed carry equivalent of finding God in a foxhole. Those people aren’t carrying a gun to protect themselves, they’re carrying a gun to calm themselves.

How many firearms trainers see teaching others to carry a defensive sidearm as process-driven versus how many see it as advocating for a lifestyle? Examples of the first are easy to find, they tend use phrases like “Through careful research, I have decided that a Glock 19 in an OWB Kydex holster is my optimal solution for concealed carry” and can argue, at length, about the benefits of 124 grain 9mm bullets versus 147 grain bullets (talk about yer angels dancing on the head of a pin…).

Examples of the second kind of instructor are harder to find. Kathy Jackson is one, so are Melody Lauer and Jeff Street. This type of trainer tends to look at firearms as a means to a destination, rather than the destination itself. They are also distinctly in the minority in the training community. This is a problem for the long-term growth of Gun Culture 2.0 because the people who are buying guns are buying them because of how a gun makes them feel, not necessarily what the gun actually does. Logic is not driving their decisions, passion is. Passion is good, because passion will keep you going long after logic has thrown in the towel, and trying to get new gun owners beyond the passion of wanting to “feel safe” into the world of “being safe” should be our goal, not overloading them with jargon and gear talk.