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.

The Fundamentals Never Go Out Of Style

Had a fun little night-time training session with Jeff and Robyn from Step By Step Training last week. I learned a lot about my gear (memo to self: Get night sights for the Shield, STAT!), and talked with them about a bit about what drives their passions.

Me? I’m a gamer, with trainer tendencies. I’m concerned about my personal protection, but I’ve decided my path to mastery (or at least not-suckery) goes through learning to shoot for shoot’s sake.

An explanation.

Going back and looking at that match video from earlier this month, nothing there, by itself, is “tactically unsound”. Most (if not all) of what we can “tactical training” has to do with NOT shooting a gun. Getting a smooth draw, quick reload and fast, accurate hits is something at applies to training range and pistol match alike.

So why some people think that “competition will get you killed on the streets” is something I’ll never know.

A Backup Plan for your Backup Plan, Pt. 2

One thing that Charlie Hebdo, Mumbai, and even the Boston bombing attacks have in common is that they all took place at or near a place of business. Unless you’re out in the woods 100 miles away from civilization, you’re near a business, and the boonies aren’t where urban terrorists are going to attack. That means there’s a 1/3 chance (or greater) that if (God Forbid) you suffer the effects of an urban terrorist attack, it’ll be at, near or on your way to your place of work. Somebody else isn’t going help you or protect your place of business if disaster strikes, you are.

Let’s start this off by acknowledging the reality that terrorists will control when and where they will strike (that’s why they’re called “terrorists” and not “corpses”). We may notice the backpack with the pressure cooker bomb in it, or we may spot the buttstock of the AK under the jacket and take appropriate measures, but in general, we are not “in the know” about the latest intelligence of their movements. When or if it happens, it will be a complete and utter surprise to us.

Hence the use of the word “terror” to describe their actions.

Since chances are we won’t stop the threat before it happens, we have two possible responses: Active Reaction, or stopping the threat before more damage is done, and Reactive Reaction, or mitigating the effects of the terrorist’s actions.

Active Reaction

This is 90% of what you’ll go through in an active shooter drill. Situational awareness. Long-range pistol work. Trunk guns. A lot of stuff has been written about this topic elsewhere, and I have nothing new to add to the conversation besides carry your frickin’ guns, people, so let’s move on.

Reactive Reaction

This, however, is a topic on which I’m not seeing people talk about, at least when it comes to an active shooter/terrorism situation. There is plenty of information out there on how to react to a natural disaster and mitigate the effects of such things on your life, but strangely, there’s almost nothing out there about dealing with the after-effects of a mass casualty event. Maybe it’s because we’re comfortable with the idea that we can’t control the weather, but uncomfortable with the idea we can’t control another person’s actions.

By carrying a gun on our person, we’ve decided we’re going to be our own first responder. However, there is more than just one kind of first responder.

What would have saved more lives on the scene at the Boston bombing: A Glock, or Quikclot?  Getting back to the topic of staying safe at work, if your work freaks out about guns, leave them behind. Make sure, though, you have a well-stocked first aid kit at your desk, along with water, a flashlight and a multitool. No one will freak out about having those things at your desk, if anything, it’ll help you do your job better. I can’t tell you the amount of times that a flashlight has helped me chase down a stray cable under my desk, and the same multitool that has that pointy-stabby blade on it is just dandy for tightening monitor cables. Being known as the unofficial handyman is not a bad thing when it comes time for the boss to evaluate your performance.

Optics Planet Messenger Bag

I’ve carried a mid-sized man purse messenger bag with me into work for a few months now, and it has the stuff in it I need to deal with the effects of a gunshot wound or other severe injury, plus enough other stuff to stay semi-comfortable on my own for 24 hours, no matter what. The whole kit is listed out over at the Smart Suburban Survival Kit blog, but some highlights include the aforementioned multitool, a CAT tourniquet, a fixed blade knife (ok, that might not be a good thing for some offices) and a good flashlight with spare batteries.

Most important, though, is something you probably already have if you’re reading this, and that is mindset. To quote Tam’s Zen preparedness koan,

“Upon hearing the story of the bandit in the village, the student went to the Master:

‘Master, it saddens me that this evildoer is preying on the helpless. I have listened to and practiced all that you have taught me to prepare myself; I truly believe in my heart that I can defeat this bandit.

Everywhere I go on my daily rounds, I keep an eye out for him, walking upright, staying alert and looking around, studying the people around me, and yet the monster never shows himself, never chooses me, but preys on the defenseless instead. Why, Master?’

The Master only smiled.

And the student was enlightened.”

Stay safe. Have fun.

A Backup Plan for your Backup Plan, Pt 1.

boston-marathon-explosion-612x300

London, Mumbai, Ft. Hood, Boston, Ottawa, Paris. With so many rotten apples, it’s the orchard that’s the problem.

The Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris have once again (briefly) shone a light on the fact that western civilization is undergoing a determined, fanatical assault on our very existence. I’m sure that we’ll soon forget about such things once Kim Kardashian shows off her butt again or some sports teams wins a championship of some kind, but until that happens, let’s take advantage of things and inform the public that yes, they really ARE trying to kill us.

And prepare.

As I’ve said before, if you’ve made the decision to arm yourself against lethal force, you realize you are no longer “somebody else”. Here’s what I mean:

I grew up in Canada, and I never thought of violent crime as something that could affect my family. We lived in good neighbourhoods, we didn’t do stupid things with stupid people, and besides, there would ALWAYS be a Mountie nearby when we needed one, right?

Then one night, a group of friends and myself went camping. Late at night, after we’d all retired, a group of yokels made camp near us, lit up a huge bonfire and started shooting shotguns off into the air. That night, I realized that if they meant to do us harm, a cop would NOT be there to protect us and the only thing we had to defend ourselves was a hatchet.

Somebody else’s problem became MY problem, and quickly. That’s when I realized that believing bad things only happened to other people was NOT going to keep me safe, I was going to have to be my own first responder.

And sonuvagun if the FBI and Department of Homeland Security don’t agree with me on that one.

In a joint bulletin issued to local, state and federal law enforcement, the Department of Homeland Security and FBI said that while they are “unaware of any specific, credible threats against the Homeland” and find most threats to the U.S. homeland by supporters of ISIS “not credible,” they cannot rule out attacks in the United States from sympathizers radicalized by the group’s online propaganda.

“[B]ecause of the individualized nature of the radicalization process – it is difficult to predict triggers that will contribute to [homegrown violent extremists] attempting acts of violence,” the bulletin states. Moreover, such lone offenders “present law enforcement with limited opportunities to detect and disrupt plots, which frequently involve simple plotting against targets of opportunity,” according to the bulletin.

Translation: Look, we cops can’t be everywhere at once: You’re on your own.

Well, at least it’s nice of them to admit it. So what does being somebody else’s “somebody else” mean in a world where terrorists commit mass murder in even our largest cities? We need options. A gun on our person gives us more options for self-defense than not having one. Having a flashlight gives us more options when the lights are out than not having one. What other stuff is out there which gives us even more options when things go south?

More on that tomorrow.

It’s Tam’s internet, we just play in it.

As seen on the Book Of Face:

A thread I have never ever seen on a firearms forum:

“Hi, everybody! Well, with the news stories that have been on lately, my boyfriend has decided that he wants to start CCWing. He’s been resistant to the idea before, so I didn’t try to force him, but now that he wants to carry, I realize I have no idea what would be a good gun for a man. You married ladies, what kind of gun is popular with the fellas in your life?”

Because that would sound %$@#ing retarded.

That’s all for me, folks, I can’t top that today.

Cover drill

Miami ViceI’m doing something many men never, ever do, and that’s re-thinking my wardrobe. For a lot of guys, “wardrobe” consists of jeans and t-shirts with logos on them, and that’s ok, they’re guys.

I, however, have had a conscious “style” for the last 20 years, and it was black. Black t-shirts or long-sleeve shirts (NEVER a polo shirt or short-sleeve dress shirt), no logos, no brands and either jeans or khakis, and it served goofy artistic me very well, as I what I wore became part of how people thought of me.

It’s called “branding”, people, and it’s not just for corporations.

But it’s time for a change. I’m going to be changing gradually this year to something more tropical and lighter weight, and part of what I need to consider in my new wardrobe is concealed carry.

For daily wear, I’m gravitating towards guayabera shirts in white or off-white and khakis. I’ve liked them for a while now (ever since I lived in Costa Rica) and apparently they’re pretty darn good for concealed carry as well, so that takes care of my off-work sartorial needs.

For work, that’s easy. I have a uniform (first time I’ve had that since I worked fast food). It’s a nice black Columbia Sportswear shirt which needs to be tucked in, and for a bunch of reasons (the least of which is to help acclimatize people to such things), I want to open carry inside the store. I’m looking to pickup a nice OWB holster for the P07 for shop use, but that presents a problem: What do I do when I walk outside the store? Florida doesn’t have open carry (yet), so for the first time in my life, I need a cover garment that isn’t an untucked shirt.

I’ve narrowed it down to three options, and I’d appreciate your input.

  1. A lightweight IDPA “Shoot me first!” vest. There’s a ton of fishing going on here, but almost none of it involves the stuff you need a vest for. I’d stick out like a sore thumb in a vest, but on the other hand, I work in a gun store, and looking all tac’d out would not be a bad thing.
  2. A lightweight dress shirt, like something in chambray or linen. I *love* chambray shirts, I used to wear them all the time layered over a t-shirt. A shirt like this would conceal the gun and not look too out of place, and it’d also be my least-expensive option. Downside: Stray winds exposing the gun. Florida’s “brandishing” laws seem pretty good, but still, why take a chance?
  3. A lightweight suit jacket. Properly made, a summer weight jacket is very easy to wear in the all but the hottest of climates, and as Naples has MONEY, it’d make me look a bit spiffier outside of work. Downside? Being nicknamed “Crockett”.

Your thoughts? Is there something I overlooked?

Games without frontiers

Or, if looks could kill, they probably will.

Matt over at Jerking The Trigger had a good post on how we set our training priorities and how that affects the gaps in said training:

Why do so many shooters emphasize shooting courses and turn up their noses at combatives and first aid training? I suspect most people are more likely to need to know how to use a pressure bandage or throw a punch than to need to draw their handgun in anger over the course of their lives.

Yep. Backup irons become important if you train on a square range in the daytime. Take a night-shooting class, though, and those iron sights mean NOTHING compared to a good weapon light.

Also, think about how competition affects our gear and our training: Maybe one of the reasons why there is very little integrated combatives/firearms training for us civvies is because we haven’t found a way to make a game of it yet. The Greeks figured out 3000 or so years ago that if you make a game of war, you get better at war, and USPSA and IDPA are capitalizing today on what was learned on the slopes of Mt. Olympus long ago.

We’ve yet to apply those same ideas to combatives / firearms training for civilians, and when we do, then the idea that just having a gun won’t be enough will REALLY take off.