File under Zanshin, Moment Of.

Zanshin: A zen state when the mind is fully vigilant and aware of its surroundings; when the mind remains still without being attached to anything and is totally present during every moment and action in the here and now. In Budo, Zanshin means being aware of one’s surroundings and enemies, while being prepared to react and being unaffected by pain. It is a state of mind that takes years of training to develop. Through the practice of Zazen and Budo, little by little, this kind of alertness can expand to every action of one’s daily life, and in the end, one realizes that there are no ordinary moments.

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Nova Scotia Nazis. I hate Nova Scotia Nazis.

Chances of this kind of attack being successful in Canada? Pretty good. Chances of it being successful in Dallas, Tampa Bay or Phoenix? Substantially less so.

Nova Scotia RCMP Commanding Officer Brian Brennan says a 19-year-old man and a 23-year-old American woman from Geneva, Ill., had planned to go to a public venue in the Halifax region today “with a goal of opening fire to kill citizens, and then themselves.”

In a refreshing change from similar incidents, it wasn’t Islamic terrorists who were behind this, but plain ol’ Nazis, albeit Canadian Nazis.

The 23-year-old American woman who allegedly plotted to carry out a massacre at a Canadian mall on Valentine’s Day posted harrowing messages online for years before the plan was foiled.
Lindsay Kantha Souvannarath, from Geneva, Illinois, posted about her admiration of Hitler, the Columbine killers and other murderers on her Facebook page, Tumblr site and forums, and even hinted at the deadly plan, writing last Wednesday: ‘Valentine’s Day. It’s going down.’
Two days after the post, she was arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit murder after police received a tip. Randall Shepherd, 20, of Nova Scotia was arrested on the same charges.
A third suspect, James Gamble, 19 killed himself as police moved to arrest him at his home in Nova Scotia, and a fourth – a 17-year-old boy – has been released from custody.

They planned to shoot up a shopping mall in (largely disarmed) Atlantic Canada for a reason, and part of that reason was they could get away with it without be shot.

Carry your frickin’ guns, people, and stay awake when do.

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.

Welcome to Worst-Case Scenario Land, Population… You.

Hundreds of middle-school and high-school teenagers decide to bum-rush a movie theater near Orlando, shots ring out, general chaos ensues.

Orange County deputies are trying to figure out why hundreds of teenagers suddenly rushed into the movie theater at West Oaks Mall in Ocoee Saturday night.
Deputies said as many as 900 kids, described as being in middle or high school, attempted to rush the theater at once.
About 200 teenagers were able to get in before the security gates were closed.
Witnesses said several fights broke out with reports of shots fired.

Best case scenario: Don’t be there when this sort of thing happens, but that would mean not going to the movies ever again, and that ain’t an option for my family. Best advice I can give is know where ALL the exits are and have a flashlight or some other less-lethal compliance tool to get people out of your way.

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.

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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.

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

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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.