We now return you to your regularly scheduled program.

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You may have noticed that I’ve been posting more here as of late. 

There’s a reason for that. The wheel is turning, the tides are shifting, the clichés are… clenching. Whatever you want to call it, the fact of the matter is, I’m able to write more on my own now, so I is. 

More on this later. Have a happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Visual Clues

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Thinking a bit more about training scars…

How many times do we start a drill / competition stage with an auditory start signal? No matter if it’s at a match or on the training range, it’s either a buzzer or the command of “UP!!” that gets us to draw a gun and start shooting.

But we are sight hunters, and we usually need to back up any auditory signals with a visual confirmation. 

So when was the last time you started a stage or drill based off something you saw, not something you heard? 

Something to think about.

Talismans, Curves, Phases and Gates

taurus_curve_20Thinking more about the Taurus Curve, and why it might be a game-changer…

First off, let’s look at what actually happens in a lethal force encounter. Dr. Gary Kleck of Florida State University broke down what happens when firearms are used to defend a life.

  • Fifty-four percent of the defensive gun uses involved somebody verbally referring to the gun
  • Forty-seven percent involved the gun being pointed at the criminal
  • Fourteen percent involved the gun being fired at somebody with intent to stop the threat
  • The offender was wounded or killed in only 8 percent of incidents studied

So shots were fired in only 14% of all the instances that a gun was used in self defense. We scoff at the idea of a gun as a “protection talisman”, but 86% of the time, they are exactly that. At each step along the way, there is a gate that is passed though and closes behind you, and a new phase begins. You can’t go back to a previous phase, because if yelling “Get out of the house, I have a gun” didn’t work, it’s time to move onto something else, and quickly. 

Now there are more than a few people who will read that and say “What? I’d never yell out a warning! It’s not tactically sound! It’ll get you killed!” and there is a grain of truth to what they say. If you’re getting shot at, yelling at people to leave is a very bad idea indeed, but in general, due to the escalating danger to myself and others (and escalating lawyer’s fees…), if I can solve the problem without lethal force, I’m going try to do so.

Let’s pause a moment to think about what sort of things would improve the chances of someone NOT having to put rounds downrange in defense of their life. A flashlight comes to mind, as does a laser, and the Taurus Curve has them both. Huh. It’s almost is if they designed it that way… 

I agree with Tam: A light on your gun is NOT a general-purpose flashlight. However, having gone through a couple of low-light training sessions, a light on the gun is FAR more useful than a light in your hand when you’re thinking about sending rounds downrange.

Just don’t use it to look for your car keys, m’kay? 

It’s that other 14% of the time where the talisman needs to be more than just a comforting presence, they need to be an instrument of lethal force, and it looks like the Curve will work adequately in those situations. Now, would I rather have, say, a full-size M&P loaded to the brim, topped with a red dot with me rather than this gun? Sure, but right now, I have my P3AT with me, not my P07, because compromises. 

The fact is, it looks like the Taurus Curve is a great gun for all the phases of a lethal force encounter up to the application of lethal force, and it’s a pretty good gun for that last part as well. It’s not a gun I would carry, but that doesn’t mean it’s a) a bad gun or b) a gun that other people will carry and use to save their lives. 

The status quo has been shook up a bit. Let’s see what else falls out of the tree.

Grading On A Curve.

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I’m going to hold my fire on the new Taurus Curve until I get my hands on one at SHOT and/or get one out on the range. 

At least Taurus is trying something different. When Glock (finally) comes out with their single stack 9mm at SHOT, everyone will scream “OMG, Best…Gun… EVER!!!” and then praise the gun’s innovative style and looks. Maybe The Curve is a flaming hive of suck and villainy, maybe it’s not, but at least it’s not a cookie-cutter look alike of something Kel-Tec brought out in 2004

Update: 
Left this as a comment over at Triangle Tactical and thought I’d share it here as well.

I look at this gun as the spiritual cousin of all those goofy cars that Pontiac came out with before they left us. Sure, they came out with the single ugliest car ever made (the Aztek) but also came out with Solstice and the insanely great GTO.
Or maybe a better example would the Mac Cube, or the stupid hockey puck mouse the original iMac shipped with. They never caught on, but they were signposts that pointed towards a design language that changed how EVERYTHING is designed.

Update 2: 
Miguel weighs in

If this thing goes ‘bang” every time and has no major issues, I expect Taurus to sell this thing like there is no tomorrow.  We might be seeing The Judge part 2. The Fudd among us will still cringe at the thought of being seen holding and shooting one of these babies, but it was not that long ago (OK it has been) that the idea of shooting an European gun made of plastic and not based on the designs of John Moses Browning was enough to send you to solitary confinement at your local range.

Again, I go back to the iMac. NOBODY knew what to make of it when it first came out. “What? USB ONLY? NO FLOPPY? INTEGRATED MONITOR? ARE YOU INSANE?” is what the computer reviewers said, but it turns out that people wanted a computer that “just worked”. The iMac was the starting point of something huge, a computer and accessory ecosystem that gave us the iPod, easy and cheap media downloads, every modern smartphone on the planet* and turned Apple into the biggest company in the world.

So what happens when we get a defensive firearm that “just works”? Not sure, and I’m not sure this is it, but something is happening here, and other gun manufacturers should pay attention. 

*Yes, Android fans, search your feelings, you know it to be true. Take a look at what Samsung phones looked like before the iPhone and what they looked like afterwards. Acknowledge the obvious, and get on with your lives…

Couldn’t agree more.

John van Swearigen makes the same point that I’ve been saying for a while: There is no dividing line between “tactical shooting” and “competitive shooting”, there is your ability to make the shot on-time and on-demand, or not. 

As a portion of the shooting community, advanced competitive shooters can generally run any given firearm (more) proficiently than their peers. No, they may not have a tactically sound or particularly defensive mindset, but they can drive their gun like they freaking stole it. Everyone that shoots (especially those that count on their firearm to defend themselves and others) can learn something from that. 

The biggest difference is the way the best competitors practice. They don’t just drill shooting positions or situations. They drill the very basics of firearms manipulation to an excess. Dry-firing. Reloads. Drawing to a sight picture. It is not unreasonable to claim that the best competitive shooters can shoot weak-handed while moving with a higher degree of proficiency than the average patrol officer can shoot two-handed.

The ability to make the shot should be first and foremost in ANY firearms training class, be it tactical or competitive. All that stage planning, all that practice with tactical reloads, all those times getting quickly into (sub)urban prone means SQUAT if you shoot slow and inaccurately, and sonuvagun if the “balance of speed and precision” I learned in Combat Focus Shooting isn’t pretty much the same as what I learned training with Rob Leatham. 

It’s almost as if there’s not real secrets to this, just stuff we need to re-learn from time to time.

Reload, review, respond

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One of the problems with shooting IPDA is that even though they go to some lengths to prevent “gaming” the system and make things more realistic, you know just how many targets you need to engage and where they are the minute you load your weapon to start the stage. 

At least you should, and if you don’t, well, that’s why they invented “Failure To Engage” penalties. 

As such, you know exactly when (or if) you need to reload, and going to slide lock is actually a desirable thing because it’s faster in IDPA to reload an empty gun than it is to top off a partially loaded gun. 

This has a pretty big potential to create some training scars, because even though the odds of we civilians running into a half-dozen attackers is very, very small, we want our training to be up to the task if we need it. 

A comparison: While I was, (and am) not satisfied with the training I received at Front Sight, the shoot-house scenario they ran was interesting and eye-opening. As the amount and location of bad guys were unknown to me, so was my “stage strategy” and possible reload points. I ended up doing pretty well in the scenario (including a 7 yard shot on the hostage taker that went right thru the bad guy’s right eyeball), and I credit my background in competition for not getting the shakes and allowing me to make the shot when needed. 

So what is the point of a tactical reload? Why do people who don’t wear uniforms and/or badges need to do one? More thoughts on that subject over at the Osage County Guns blog.

Video shooting games

motherhunter_games_3Cabela’s has a VERY successful line of console games that stretches back several years and cuts across all the popular platforms.

Coin-op video frames are all but gone, but Big Game Hunter stand up arcade games are still thriving. 

Trijicon teams up with EA for special bonus items in Medal Of Honor: Warfighter.

So how come practical shooting has had one (count it, one!) video game to it’s name

You would think that the run n gun format of practical shooting would be perfectly suited to the run n gun style of first person shooters. 

And you’d be wrong. 

Video games are the perfect gateway drug to practical shooting. Maybe one day, the people who run the sports will wake up to this fact, and get more young shooters involved in the sport.