WYSIWYS.

Tunnel vision

“What you see is what you’re going to shoot.”

Steve Anderson.

While that quote is meant to apply to sight picture and accuracy at a match, it can also apply to the “tactical” world as well. Is knowing FOR CERTAIN that your sights were on target a good thing in a defensive shooting situation, especially if you (God forbid) have to go to trial?

I’d say so.

So tell me again how competition shooting is going to get you killed on the streets.

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 there there gives us even more options when things go south?

More on that tomorrow.

Product Review: Sig Sauer CP-1 Scope and STL-300 Stoplite.

kel-tac su16c

My “trunk gun”: A Kel-Tec SU16C with a SigTac CP1 scope and an STL300 laser/light.

I shot a 3 gun match last year with my trunk gun, a Kel-Tec SU-16C, to see how well it worked under stressful conditions. The rifle was surprisingly accurate and I was able to work the cross bolt safety with ease, which surprised me, because I shoot that gun left-handed due to my cross-eye dominance. One thing that did pop up, though, was that I forgot to turn on my red-dot sight before I started my first stage.

Whoops.

Now at a match, all that means is I’m a little more embarrassed than I usually am and a few wasted seconds to turn on the dot. However, if this had been a two-way shooting match with rounds incoming, that simple mistake would have serious issues.

SigTac CP1 3x Scope

Advantages: Clear optics, great value, good combo of magnification and field of view
Disadvantages: Confusing reticle
Rating: Four out of five stars

I decided to replace the Vortex Strikefire on top of my gun with an optic that was always on, and I settled on a Sig Sauer CP1 3×32 optic. I chose this optic for a couple of reasons: I wanted an “always on” optic that I could quickly use, and I wanted something that wouldn’t break the bank and leave me heartbroken if it broke on me. Yes, I could get an ACOG and get everything I wanted (and more) but somehow, putting a $900 optic on a $600 gun that I’m not going to use all that often just doesn’t make sense to me. Also, a fixed power 3x magnification scope gives me enough power to help reach out and touch people at 200+ yards and yet doesn’t give me tunnel vision for closer work.

reticleThe CP1 scope mounted quickly on the top of my SU-16, although its eye relief is a little short compared to the red dot I had on there before. If you closely look at the picture above, you’ll note that the scope is right up against the rear backup sight, and I still get a little blackout on it at times. The scope sighted in quickly: I prefer a 50 yard sight-in on my .223 AR’s, and I was able to get this one dialed in quite fast. The scope comes with options to light up the reticle in red or green light, and those controls are easy to activate and manipulate. The reticle, however, is my biggest complaint about this scope: It is much more confusing than a simple scope like this requires, and there is just too much information going on to quickly make a good decision about what line for what use at what range. A simple duplex or cleaner BDC reticle would have been much more useful than the mumbo jumbo inside this scope

Optically, however, the scope is quite nice, easily keeping up with other scopes in its price range. The colors are clear, the details are crisp and there is no noticeable “rainbows” of chromatic aberration in the reticle. It’s not an ACOG or a HAMR, but what it does, it does well.

SigTac STL300 Stoplite

Advantages: Blindingly bright, versatile, easy to set up and use
Disadvantages: Do I really need a strobe mode?
Rating: Five out of five stars

AA_magliteThe SigTac STL300 Stoplite is a natural compliment to the CP1 scope. It’s a powerful LED light, laser sight and vertical foregrip all in one, and attaches easily to any Picatinny-compatible rail. The LED light is very bright, and to test it, I set my camera on a tripod about 40 feet away from a white rollup garage door with the exposure set for 1 second at f5.6, ISO 400. The first pic is the garage door lit up with my old standby, a AA Maglite that I carried with me across two continents. The second shot is lit up with the STL300.

sig_stopliteAs I said, it’s bright.

The light on the STL300 has a “strobe” setting that I think is unnecessary and needlessly complicates things. If the bad guy(s) you are lighting up are not understanding that their lives are about to change for the worse, I don’t see how strobing them is going to reinforce that message.

The controls on the STL300 were set exactly where I wanted them: I found the laser and the flashlight easy to switch on, but due to my cross-eye dominance, I shoot long guns left-handed, and the controls may not be as well-placed for right-handed shooters.

The STL300 may not have the same rugged appearance as its higher-priced cousins from other manufacturers, and I haven’t done a ‘torture test” on it to see how it fares under highly stressful conditions, but you know what? I don’t care. I am NOT a Tier √-1 Operator operating operationally in an operational operating environment: I have a trunk gun in my trunk for the (thankfully) very slim chance that I’ll need something more than my CCW gun to deal with the crap going on around me, so that means the accessories on that gun are probably never going to be put to the test.

But I’m comfortable and secure with what the CP1 and STL300 will do if, God Forbid, I need to call on them. They’re not top-of-the line milspec gear, but I’m not a top-of-the-line milspec guy. Howver, these two SigTac accessories are definitely a step or three up from the bargain brands you see out there on Amazon.com and such.

If you’re looking for a couple of accessories to make your AR more effective in a hairy situation, you’d do a lot worse than these two SigTac accessories. I found both the CP1 scope and the STL300 Stoplite to be a good value for the money.

Tracked and Targeted

mental_toughness“90% of the sport is mental, and the other half is physical.”

– Yogi Berra

Thinking a little more about this post on the mental game of the shooting sports:

  1. I’m fairly happy that I aimed for middle of the pack in my last major match. Based on my level of training and practice, I thought that a reasonable goal for the match was to place in the middle of the pack in Tac Limited, and doggone it if that wasn’t where I placed.
    What this tells me: I have a reasonable grasp of my ability and what I can do on any given day, which helps me set training and match goals.
  2. I’ve used my scores in the El Presidente drill as a way to track my progress in performing the basic skills of practical/tactical shooting, namely, target recognition, draw, follow-up shot speed, transition speed from target to target and fast reloads. My best score on this drill has plateaued as of late, but what’s interesting is that my bad times are now MUCH better than they were two years.
    What this tells me: I’m still not as fast and accurate as I’d like to be right, but I’m also more consistent and not so prone to bonehead mistakes.

Yes, I stole the title from new favorite political podcast.

Sue me.

Why Carry More Than Just Your Gun?

So you can do more than shoot somebody, that’s why

I’m moving to Alaska from Georgia. Was having dinner with my half brother in Colorado springs, CO. Carrying as usual. Helped an old lady change a flat in the parking lot then as I’m walking to my car I hear someone yelling “help me.” Look down and it’s a younger guy with 2 other people talking to him so I assume he’s drunk and goofing off. Then I hear some slapping noises. Look again and some guy is hitting him with a piece of wire or hose or something about 10 feet long. The guy keeps yelling for help and goes fetal while this guy is nailing him. I’m on top of a hill above them, maybe 10 feet up and 25 feet away. My first instinct was to run down and draw on the guy but I didn’t want to get too close to him so he can hit me with his weapon. Instead, I pulled a flashlight out of my pocket and yelled at him that the police were on their way. As soon as I said that he looked up at me and turned around and ran away. It turned out the 2 guys were arguing over a woman that was with them. End of the story I didn’t draw but used my flashlight to blind a guy instead. I stayed out of range of the guys weapon, but was prepared to draw if he did come towards me up the hill.

Bottom line, having the means to deal with a violent threat but not having to use said means to keep yourself and others safe is a bigger win than if you had to draw a gun and shoot. 

Always carry your gun. And carry other stuff, too. The life you save may not be your own.

License to Chill

One thing that the anti-civil rights crowd gets consistently wrong is the idea that carrying a gun means you (and not the gun) are a hair-trigger, looking for an excuse to draw your weapon and lay waste to all those foolish enough to cross your path. 

Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, I’d suggest they’re projecting their lack of emotional stability onto everyone around them. Every time, EVERY SINGLE TIME that gun control gets loosened and freedom is regained, the streets are predicted to run red with violence, usually with a reference to the OK Corral and/or the Wild West. 

But every time, EVERY SINGLE TIME, that doesn’t happen. Why? Because people realize that with the increased empowerment of becoming your own first responder, there comes an increased responsibility for your actions. 

Your goal, if you carry a gun, is to become a peacemaker without ego

Revisiting Heinlein

“An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life.” – RAH

We all know the first part of that quote by heart, but the last part never seems to get mentioned, and as a result, stuff like this happens

Creating a warm and inviting environment for all of our guests and employees is a top priority for Jack in the Box. The presence of guns inside a restaurant could create an uncomfortable situation for our guests and employees and lead to unintended consequences. While we respect the rights of all of our guests, we would prefer that guests not bring their guns inside our restaurants.

Please. Stop. Helping. All that needs to happen for all our side to lose all the gains we’ve made over the past decade is for more things like this to happen and more and more restaurants restrict the right of citizens to protect themselves on their property.

“Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.” – Napoleon Bonaparte 

“Yep.” – Michael Bloomberg

There is a time and a place to OC a rifle, and that time and place is at a 2nd Amendment rally, NOT in a fast food restaurant in Texas. And let’s stop for a minute to consider the whole idea of open-carrying a rifle and think about what a rifle is compared to a pistol. Based on what I learned in my combat focus carbine class, a rifle is primarily an offensive weapon. If you’re using one to defend your life, you’re in a position where you’ve had time to GET to your rifle and are facing a known threat that cannot be dealt with by your pistol. This is why soldiers carry rifles, not pistols and why cops have them in the trunks of their patrol cars. 

Pause for a second and consider that last point. I see cops at at public events like baseball games all the time, and they’re not carrying M4’s or MP5’s, they’re carrying their normal gear. I’ve been to events where the cops were carrying M4’s, and that extra security made me extra nervous. Imagine how nervous it makes people who see other citizens carrying M4’s without the stamp of societal approval (i.e. a badge) on them? If you MUST open carry a rifle, carry a 10/22, stay off of private property and let the cops know first what you’re doing. You’ll make the exact same point and not tick anyone off. 

Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative ain’t just a song, you know.

There is a reason why the JW’s and Mormons who knock your door are dressed nicely and are exceedingly polite: Those organizations have learned that they get more converts to their side acting that way than if they show up on a street corner dressed  to offend. Think about it: Have you ever seen a street preacher gain a convert with his antics?  Me neither.

Memo to my fellow OC’ers: Stop acting like street preachers, and start acting like missionaries.