Essential Skills

A really great run down of what a well-prepared, well-protected civilian would need in training, mindset and equipment, over at Revolver Science. I like this list because rather than concentrating on “The Seventeen Ways YOU Can Stop Terrorism With Your AR-15 (And #12 Will Blow His Mind!)!!!”, it lays out, pretty clearly, what our threats are and what can be done to stop them. I really like that “defensive driving” is on the list. Want to avoid a road rage incident? Try not to be a jerk on behind the wheel, and never escalate the situation when someone cuts you off.

Gee, maybe those same principles of heightened awareness, conspicuous politeness and de-escalation might also work when he have a firearm on our waist and well as when we’re behind wheel.

Now that my family’s moved, “Getting into shape in order to help me live longer and with less creaking joints” needs to be on my version of this list.

A Shelter In The Time Of Storm.

You would think that if there was a particular type of crime that was up 1000% percent since 2005, it’d get some airplay on the news programs, right?

Well, in the case of attacks inside and out of the sanctuary, that’s not the case.

Lately we’ve seen a large increase in church security teams coming for firearms and tactics training. (I use the word “church” for any house of worship.) This is a good thing. According to one study violence at religious centers has increased over one thousand percent between the years 2005 to 2010.

Let’s face it: A church should (SHOULD!) be a place where people who are wounded emotionally and spiritually find solace and support to overcome their inner demons. This means that people who engage in questionable, if not outfight illegal and stupid things show up on our doorstep, and that means dealing with people who they associate with. I’ve seen it for myself: I was waiting in the narthex before service one Sunday when a rousing knock-down fight started between a woman and her divorced spouse. Both of them attended the church prior to their divorce, and neither was willing to find a new spiritual home now that they were no longer a couple. Fortunately, cooler (and stronger) heads prevailed, and the fight was quickly broken up and taken to a quieter place for the authorities to handle, but that was my wake-up call that bad things can happen inside a house of God.

Now that we have to deal with the threat of Islamic terrorism on our shores, what are the odds of ISIS doing over here what they’ve committed to doing in Iraq, namely, ridding the world of any and all competing faiths? How soon until we see a terrorist attack on a sanctuary or a synagogue?

It’s coming, and if you church isn’t willing to have a plan for man-made or natural disasters, make one for yourself.

The Metric Is The Medium

I queued this post up last week about objective gun reviews, and then James over at The Firearm Blog comes up with an attempt to quantify the problem.

So, how do you do that? How do you find which gun is the most efficient? Well, I isolated two ways.
One is, it’s very easy, rounds per ounce.
You just take the weight of the gun and divide that into the capacity of the gun.
So for example, if you have a 20 ounce gun and it holds 10 rounds then that’s.5, one half.
You get.5 rounds per ounce.
Now as far as figuring out size, that was a little but trickier.
So what did I do? With size, again, we divide into capacity but the number we divide in is the height of the gun times the width of the gun in inches.

Using his system, he determines that the most efficient carry gun out there is… a Kel-Tec P11.

Look, I have nothing against Kel-Tecs. I own two, and I think they make decent guns for the money. But I think we’re looking at single-point analysis here. There is more to a carry gun than just it’s measurements, there’s also how well it fulfills it’s intended purpose, namely, stopping a threat to save your life, and that’s where metrics like accurate first shots and rapid follow up shots matter. Adding those metrics into the mix is a problem, because as I said, Bob Vogel IS going to faster on the draw than me and have quicker followup shots than I will.

So how do overcome the variable of different skill levels? By measuring the quality of our reviewer and adding that into the mix. Fortunately for us, that already exists, at least when it comes to handguns. Both the USPSA and the IDPA have a classification system that allows us to judge how competent a person is with a handgun in a situation that sorta mimics real-life, so we can factor that data into our decision as well. High-C/Low-B me is going to be faster and better than a beginner, and Todd Jarrett is going to wipe the floor with me.

We can also overcome the variable of different skill levels by having just one reviewer perform all the tasks. There’s a reason why The Stig does the Power Laps on Top Gear: He’s a great driver, and he can get the most performance possible out of a car, allowing for a reasonable comparison to be made between the performance of different cars.

I like that James is trying to add an element of math into the reviewing of guns, and I’d like to see more of it. Maybe one day we’ll go from seeing gun reviews as poetry to gun reviews as an measurable, repeatable event. I’m looking forward to that day.

A Useful Concealed Carry Trauma Kit.

I have been struggling mightily to come up with a way to carry a trauma kit (or a reasonable facsimile thereof) on a day in, day out basis. I have my one in my car, one if I’m not in my car, and one at work., which all very well and good, but the fact remains that all those kits are NEAR me, not WITH me. That distance can make a difference in how quickly and effectively I can render aid to someone when their life is on the line, especially if that someone is me. What I needed was a concealed carry trauma kit that had enough gear to be useful but was small enough to fit in with my other carry gear.

We use the phrase “When seconds count, the police are just minutes away” quite a lot in the concealed carry community, but somehow, we don’t stop and think that paramedics are also minutes away (and usually arrive after the police do). We wouldn’t consider ourselves ready for a gunfight if our gun was in the car, why then would we consider ourselves to be ready to deal with the effects of a gunfight if our trauma kit is in the car?

I’ve tried to carry a Cleer EDC Kit, and while it’s terrific, it still is just a little too big to conceal under an untucked t-shirt, and the Patrol Officer’s “Pocket Trauma Kit” is not made for civilian pockets.

However, whilst perusing the aisles of my local Big Blue Box Store, I spotted a “Quick Seal” wound care kit that looked tiny enough to carry every day.

And it is.
concealed carry gunshot wound kit

As you can see in the photo, I ditched everything in the store-bought kit except two small containers of Celox, two gauze pads and an antiseptic pad. I teamed those items up with nitrile gloves and a SWAT-T tourniquet, and stuffed everything into a MOLLE-compatible iPhone 6+ case, and it works quite well. I think I’ll add a short strip of peel away duct tape to help keep things in-place if needed, but other than that, I’m happy with how this kit is set up.

concealed carry trauma kit

Concealable trauma kitThat’s my extra mag for my Shield on the right, in its belt pouch for a size comparison. Crunching down everything this small did involve some trade-offs. There’s not a lot of blood-clotting agent and bandages in this kit, and the SWAT-T tourniquet isn’t perhaps the best solution out there, but it beats jetting out arterial blood at 60 beats a minute. Also, because the tourniquet is essentially just a big rubber band, it folds flat. This means that when teamed up with the soft nylon iPhone case, it wraps around my waist when I carry it, rather than remaining stiff and inflexible and noticeable. This is important because when it comes to concealed carry, thinness is the most important attribute a gadget can have. As you can see in the photo, while the kit is not 100% invisible under an untucked t-shirt, it’s unnoticeable from the front or side, what you can see from the rear looks like the cell phone case it really is, and not like a concealed carry trauma kit.

Would I carry this kit if I were headed out to Khandahar tomorrow? No, I’d carry an IFAK, and probably more than one. Will this new kit help save lives more than not having it on me will? Yes, and that’s reason enough for me to carry it every day.

Failure Is Always An Option

I hate dry-fire practice with my strong hand only and weak hand only*, because it shows just how much I suck at such things. But I do it. Not as often as I should, but I do it nevertheless. I’m ok with sucking at something for a while if I know I can get better at it with effort and practice. It’s the sucking at something and not improving that I hate (and I do that far too much for my liking).

Which is why I can’t figure out why you wouldn’t want to do a night shoot. There’s a very good chance you’ll need to defend yourself at night, so why not get good at it now, when the stakes are just 17th place in a match, not your life? Better a bruised ego now than deep penetrating trauma later.

*Go ahead. Tell me there’s no such thing as “weak hand”, just “support hand”. I dare you.

Training Is Evolving

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Miguel talks about a CCW trainer who’s worried that his semi-guaranteed source of income is going away now that a permit are semi-optional in Oklahoma. I can dig it: I bet the automobile looked pretty darn scary to the people who built horse carriages, but you know what? Some of them did quite well for themselves when cars became the norm.

Something interesting happened in Arizona after the state went to permit-free concealed carry: The quantity of firearms training went down, but the quality went up. Before the need to ask permission was revoked, there was a fairly good business in Arizona in teaching people the bare minimum needed to instruct CCW, and then encouraging those instructors to take more classes so they can then teach others how to be a CCW instructor.

There’s a word for this, and that word is “Ponzi”.

When Arizona went permit-free, though, that house of NRA Instructor cards collapsed (much to the chagrin of some at the top of the pyramid), and there was a sorting-out period while NRA Instructors figured out what their business model was, now that people no longer needed their services.

Although I no longer live there, I see more and more quality, post-CCW training show up in Arizona. Where once it was Gunsite or, um, errr, we’re now seeing well-known names like Larry Vickers, Instructor Zero and Grant Cunningham put on classes in Phoenix, along with some guy who’s won literally everything there is to win in practical shooting. The training business is alive and well in Arizona and growing even more.

So to the instructors in Oklahoma, West Virginia and other locales who are looking at the ruination of their Concealed Carry licensing business, I say there is hope. Change your thinking and put effort into your business model, and you’ll succeed, because change doesn’t care about your revenue projections, it just changes.

The Stupidity Triad.

I know trainers who poo-poo the idea of situational awareness, preferring instead to concentrate  on dealing with the after-effects of being ambushed. While I understand the idea (they are, after all, firearms trainers, not zen awareness trainers), but the fact is, you win 100% of the fights you don’t get into.

I’ve some more ideas on John Farnam’s classic dictum on avoiding bad things before they happen over at Ricochet.com.

It’s A Family Affair

“De l’audace, encore de l’audace, toujours de l’audace” – Georges Danton

The paradigm of the personal protection/bodyguard might not be the right one for people like me who want to keep our families safe. Maybe it is all about winning by being on the attack, not on defense.

On this episode of Ballistic Radio, Melody Lauer talks about stopping the threat to our families by… stopping the threat. Not shielding our kids, not putting ourselves in between them and the line of fire and dealing with things, but making stopping the threat the priority, as that’s the safest and quickest solution for everyone involved.

*thoughtful pause*

There’s an element of truth what Melody talks about on which I need to ponder, because it squares nicely with what I’m learning about individual armed self-defense. However, I can’t help but wonder how such ideas square with the methods used by people who are paid to protect people for a living, rather than myself, who does it for free, as part of my job of being a Dad. Is their training wrong, or is it focused more on large attacks by a group on one individual, and not keeping two or three people safe from street crime or an overzealous ex-spouse?

If nothing else, this proves that the science of familial protection is not settled, but rather, it’s just beginning.