On Red Dots On Glocks

Based on my limited experience with the suckers, I’ve found that if it’s properly co-witnessed with the iron sights, a red dot is essentially just a really big, easily viewable fiber optic front sight. The body index skills you already have and the sight alignment skills you already know will work in 95% of the situations you’ll face. Red dots shine (pun intended) when there’s a 30 yard shot or longer to be made, then they really, really help. They’re not a magic wand that allows you to make a shot anywhere, anytime, but they definitely make your pistol perform just a little bit better at a time when you may need it the most.

Some Quick Thoughts On Open Carry

rp_open_carry_bg-349x5001.jpgYou don’t realize how much you miss open carry until you don’t have it. The “brandishing” laws in Florida are actually pretty good, but still, I’d much prefer to not worry at all about showing my gun inadvertently.

I carried openly on occasion in Arizona because A) I could B) it was quasi-normal to do so there. When I went to 2nd Amendment rallies at the state capitol in downtown Phoenix, I carried discretely, because the derp was mighty strong at those events (M4gery with “flare launcher”, anyone?) and such things don’t make OC “normal”. I’m not open carrying to make an in-your-face statement because I am not an in-your-face kind of guy. I’m Canadian, so my default is going to be “nice” (unless someone cross-checks me into the boards, at which point all bets are off and the gloves get dropped).

I digress.

What makes OC “normal” is making it a normal part of your life and acting normally when doing so. The key to this is, of course, defining “normal”, and the fact is, most people don’t have wardrobes that consist of nothing but Kryptec and MOLON LABE t-shirts. If you want to make open carry a usual thing, you can’t be unusual while open-carrying.

It’s no big deal. It’s just your gun.

Running on past promises

The rollout of the Glock 43 has highlighted something interesting in the gun world, the ongoing legend of Glock reliability.

First, a word about brand loyalty (or as some call it, being a fanboy).

I’m an unabashed Apple Fanboy. I don’t just drink the Apple Koolaid, I snort the raw powder (it’s faster that way). In 1988, the user interface of the Mac operating was a wonder to behold: Nothing else existed like that UI at the time, and it was another five years before Windows even approached the same ease of use with Windows 3.1.1. Today, though, to be honest, while the iOS interface is good, I’m really intrigued by the Windows Phone UI more than I am iOS.

In other words, over the last 35+ years, through innovation and experimentation, the other brands in the marketplace have caught up (and maybe even surpassed) the brand leader. Even more recently, Dell Computers absolutely dominated the market by creating a supply chain that allowed them to build premium computers for a discount price. However, once the other manufacturers out there figured out how to build a similar supply chain, Dell’s market advantage withered away, and they became just another computer manufacturer.

In 1988, the reliability of the Glock was a wonder to behold, it truly was earth-shattering/ground-breaking/insert metaphor here. But just like the Mac/Windows race, maybe it’s time to look at things with fresh eyes. Have the other companies out there figured out how to build a gun that is just as reliable as a Glock? I dunno.

Is it still true in 2015 that Glocks are head-and-shoulders reliable above everyone else, or has everybody and their dog caught up with Glock in the past 35+ years? That’s an entire generation of gun owners who have grown up with the Glock: Can truly say that NONE of those people have figured out a way to surpass the Glock on reliablity, or do we want to switch the dogma of the 1911 for the dogma of the Glock?

Now here’s where some might say “Ah-ha, you’re a known CZ fanboy!” and well, yes, I am. I also know the limits of CZ’s. I wouldn’t recommend one as a daily carry gun because they’re heavier and wider than similar guns. I still carry my P07 (it’s on my hip as I type this), but it’s not my “go-to” recommendation for most gun owners. Now, do CZ’s make a great competition gun? Oh yeah. Would I recommend my beloved Macs to someone setting up an enterprise-level retail environment? Oh no. I know the limitations of my manias of choice, and live within them.

Bottom line is, if your gun passes a 2000 round challenge, carry it with confidence. Anything else is just arguing Coke vs. Pepsi.

Here is your future, unarmed America

Let’s count it down, shall we?

Failed attempts at gun control? Check.
Increasing crime rates? Check.
Violent, ruthless street gangs? Check.
Politicization and corruption of law enforcement? Check.

I have seen your future, California, and it looks a lot like Caracas.

Interview With A Professional Kidnapper

Gonzalez began by explaining “the market.” He targeted Venezuela’s middle classes, rather than the rich. Going after the rich invited additional police scrutiny or, worse heavily armed private guards driving armoured vehicles. For the same reasons and because they seldom had Venezuelan bank accounts that could be quickly emptied, it did not make economic sense to kidnap foreigners.

Before deciding whether to kidnap someone, gang members followed their movements closely for about a month to understand how and where they lived, worked and played. This was not only to figure out the best time and place to grab them, but also to find out whether their kin were likely to be able to cough up a ransom of 100,000 to 200,000 bolivars (about US$300 to US$600 on the black market, US$16,000 to $32,000 at the official exchange rate).

And before you think, “Well, that’s just Venezuela. What are the chances this could happen close to the U.S.?”…

… have you seen what is (still) going on in Mexico City?

In Mexico, with its history of drug-war violence and corrupt police, kidnapping is an old story. In the past, the crime tended to target the rich. Now it has become more egalitarian. Victims these days are often shopkeepers, taxi drivers, service employees, parking attendants and taco vendors who often work in cash or in Mexico’s “informal” economy. Targets also tend to be young — students, with parents willing to pay ransoms, are commonly targeted.

How long before MS13, La eMe, etc, figure out there’s as much money to be made from kidnapping middle class citizenry as there is from smuggling in people and/or drugs into the U.S.?

The only two things that are holding back this nightmare scenario from happening that I can see are the (mostly) honest police forces in the U.S. and the presence of a well-armed middle class.

When those two things go away, what hope is there for the citizenry?

Being your own first responder by arming yourself is a very good thing indeed, but it’s even better if it is also backed up by the fair and firm rule of law. When the rule of law becomes politicized, the criminals will realize that politics is the way to power.

Update: A little cheerful reading for you on a Tuesday morning – When the Music Stops. I’d like to believe that such a scenario is unlikely (even improbable), but given the reality of today’s political situation, I can’t.

Another one more thing

This is from my friend Robert, who’s smarter than me.

“Saving your spouse or children from the worst day of their lives is nothing to be ashamed of. Why then, do people call the day they need to use their gun defensively as ‘worst day of their lives’. Saving your life or the lives of your spouse or children should not be the worst day you’ve ever had, when compared to the other options. It’s not the ‘worst day of my life’, it’s ‘the best thing I’ve ever done for my family’.”

A-yup.

Ok, so now what?

Wrapping up this dead horse (how’s THAT for a mixed metaphor?), what would a marketing campaign for firearms training that focuses on the positive actually look like?

Well, something like the life insurance industry, to be frank. Which is, after all, what we are actually selling (just without the actuarial tables and polyester sports coats). We are selling something that helps our customers and their loved ones lead longer, happier, more fulfilling lives. As firearms/self-defense trainers, we are not selling people the secrets that Tier √-1 Operators use to kill bad guys overseas, (unless that’s our actual market) we are selling people the idea that they will live a better, longer, more secure, less fearful life if they take our class.

Kathy Jackson gets this: The metaphor she uses is swimming lessons, and it’s a very, very good one. But swimming lessons aren’t sold because people are afraid of water or to help people survive a boat crash, they’re sold because people want to have more fun in the water with their friends.

People tend to want to do fun things, (that’s why Disneyland was invented), and they tend to NOT want to do the “responsible” things like taking cod liver oil or filling out tax forms. Anything we can do to take firearms training out from underneath cod liver oil and into the realm of fun (while still safely teaching them what they need to know/do) will increase the market for firearms and firearms training.

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.

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?

A Lifetime Of Learning

Tam links to an interesting question posed to a group of seasoned professional firearms trainers: If you knew that your one-day class was going to be the only firearms training your students received, what would you teach them, and why?

A long (and frankly boring) discussion of sighted fire versus point shooting promptly broke out, and while I’m not anywhere near the level of competency of most of the people who chimed in, here’s my thoughts on how I would train a random schmo from the street, knowing it was going to be the only class he/she would have, ever.

  1. Mindset / Situational Awareness. Simply put, pay attention to what you’re paying attention to. The punch buggy / slug bug game is a great way to learn to watch your surroundings, and all that’s at stake is a sore arm.
  2. Safety. Not just the four rules, but get them used to touching and safely handling their gun. I’d make sure they knew how to load and unload their gun and get them used to the idea that guns are to used, not just owned.
  3. Draw. Not just a standard four-step draw, but (after much practice) close retention as well, with shooting from retention as part of that drill.
  4. Front sight / trigger press. We know how to point to something from six months on, but pressing a trigger properly is something most people have to learn. Better to put the bug in their ear sooner rather than later.
  5. Realistic target placement. 7 yards, max, with an emphasis on 10 feet right on up to bad breath distance. No 25 yard mini-poppers, ever.
  6. Cover. Cover = time, and getting the idea that getting things in the way of your attacker that reduce his/her chances of getting to you is a good thing because it reinforces item #1 up there.
  7. Moving targets. People tend to not like to get shot, and the tend to run away while returning fire at the people who are shooting at them. Something (maybe a target mounted on top of an R/C truck) that re-creates a person running away from his/her failure to properly select a defenseless victim would be a good graduation exercise.