“When a man with a pistol meets a man with a rifle, the man with a pistol is a dead man!”

Ramon Rojó

Or, you know, not.

A robber armed with an AK-47 assault weapon stormed a Texas Waffle House, only to be shot by a pistol-packing customer, police say.The suspect, whose identity police are still trying to confirm, was in critical condition Monday after last week’s gun battle in a Dallas suburb…

…One customer, who was legally carrying a concealed handgun, followed the robber into the parking lot because he was afraid for the safety of his wife, who was on her way to the Waffle House. The customer called out to the robber, who turned and pointed the rifle at him, police said. The customer then shot the robber several times.

It’s been a tough few weeks for the civilian defender. The increased threat of active shooters armed with rifles has meant that we’ve had to seriously re-assess our skills and apply ourselves to the daunting task of making 25 yard headshots on-demand, and the massacre in Nice is a warning to us all. It’s good to see that in at least one case, a good guy with a pistol beat a bad guy with a rifle. Having the skill to stop the bad guy is good. Having the skills and the confidence in your ability to use them on-demand is better.

How Good Are You Now? How Good Do You Want To Be?

And, most importantly, how do you know?

I love this article over at Lucky Gunner on competing with your everyday carry gear.

I’m sure you’ve seen it at your local indoor range: the person in the stall next to you blasting away at a full-sized silhouette. Rounds are all over the target in no discernible group, and at some fairly modest distances. What makes this even more frustrating is I see the same people, week after week, duplicating the exact same session. These individuals, like many, go to the range with no clear training goals and no metric of improvement. Competition will change that by giving you some very definitive goals to work toward.

I tried it a few days ago, and I found out how bad I am and how far I need to go. I’m ok with that, because I’m ok with failing when it doesn’t matter so I don’t fail when it does.

What disturbs me, though, is how many trainers don’t include measurable standards as part of their training process. How do they know if their students are qualified for their more advanced classes if they can’t judge their progress? Is having the check clear for a Tactical Shooting 101 class all the requirements for entrance into the Tactical Shooting 202 class? If so, what is the purpose of that first class: To improve the student’s skills, or to provide more opportunities for the student to spend more time (and money) with the trainer?

All Things Be Ready If Our Minds Be So.

As Alcoholics Anonymous says, the first step is acknowledging you have a problem, and that’s true of personal safety as well. Like some of my colleagues, I became aware at an early age that there were predators in the jungle, so I never really lived in what some call “Condition White” for any great length of time. Some may see that as living in fear, I call it living in reality, because we’re only fearful of the unknown.

With that overly-long introduction out of the way, here’s three good articles on staying aware of what’s going on around you and what you should do about it. Stuff like this isn’t as sexy as dressing up like The Punishera six second El Presidenté or a $3000 1911, but its more important.

Grant Cunningham on finding out what the real threats are in your life:

Consider the threat of a job loss or severe economic downturn; what would happen if there were a drought in your part of the country? How about an accident that closes the only road into your town for a couple of weeks? A monthlong power outage? These are all things that have happened somewhere in this country just in the last year! How about having your gas main, electrical service, or water cut off during a major storm? (My wife and I had to deal with a widespread week-long power outage, in the middle of winter, twice in our lifetimes — once when we were living in one of the most affluent cities in our state!) Finally, a big risk might be unresolved health issues that are under your control.

How to listen to what someone’s body language is telling you:

  • Don’t make the usual mistakes: Take context, clusters, baseline, and biases into consideration.

  • First impressions are often accurate: With a number of traits you can trust your gut. But know which ones.

  • Trust mimicry and emotional expression: But they have to be sustained and consistent.

  • Awful people have tells: Pay attention to notice them. And look for narcissists in flashy clothing.

Dr. Sherman House on becoming a “civilian defender”.

… here is what I feel should constitute the undergraduate education of the civilian defender:

  1. Criminology/Street Smarts/Physical Preparedness

  2. Defensive Driving

  3. Emergency Medical

  4. Legal Preparation, Aftermath and Rules of Engagement

  5. Less Lethal skills

  6. Handgun Carry Course

  7. Handgun Skills and Tactics Course

  8. Defensive Tactics

Note: Dressing up like Batman is NOT listed there.

Res Ipsa Loquitur.

aka “The Thing Itself”.

I may be wrong (and I probably am), but I think that Melody Lauer’s “Contextual Handgun: The Armed Parent/Guardian” course represents the future of post-CCW firearms training. Up until now, it’s been up to the people who take post-CCW training to apply the lessons they learn in-class to their lives.

It’s like taking a lesson in downhill skiing that’s all about edge control and balance, but nothing about how to actually go down a hill really fast. There have been attempts by trainers to contextualize what they’re teaching, but most of it has been focused around the idea of civilian training to a terrorist response. Look, I get that active shooters are a bigger problem now than they were ten years ago, (and I’m planning accordingly), but despite what’s happened in San Bernadino and Orlando, I’ve not been around an active shooter situation recently.
But have I had to guide my family thru a dark parking lot in a shady area of town late at night? Oh yeah.

I’m really hoping this becomes “a thing”, because I think things like this will be an important part of Gun Culture 3.0. It’s not a enough to own a gun for protection, you have to be able to use it well, on-demand in the context of your everyday life, and that’s what her class teaches.

If you buy a gun and don’t practice and train with it, you don’t have a defensive tool, you have a magical talisman which you hope will one day grant you the power to defend your life when called upon.

Me? My family left the idea of physical representations of protective supernatural power soon after Luther did some redecorating on the door of a cathedral in Wittenberg, but your mileage may vary.

As will your results.

Drill, Baby Drill.

We’re used to the idea of drills and practice for street crime, like shooting from retention or the Tueller Drill. We’ve had 20+ years of concealed carry history in the U.S. that up until now has been focused pretty much 100% on street crime. Street crime will always be with us, but now we also need to acknowledge the reality of maybe having to deal with an active shooter as well.

Michael Bane’s comments about making the tough shot needed to stop an active shooter has got some people thinking.

Dont just be armed, be proficient in the gun you carry! I have been flayed alive for saying you should be able to make a 25-yard head shot and a 50-yard torso shot with your carry gun. I stand by that statement, and, in fact, double down on it. If you can’t make those shots with the gun you presently carry, change guns! Get the training.

Rich Grassi (no slouch with a sidearm) tries it with three different carry guns, with mixed results.

Lessons? Well, it’s not the size of the gun, it’s the familiarity with equipment. You’d best get that pistol zeroed – smart to do it for the load you’ll carry. Know how you need to see the sights to make that hit. The Ruger American Pistol is regulated to hit to the white dot on the front sight – at least this one is – and that’s a handy bit of information to have. Making a hit in a 4×4 box at 25 yards should be no chore for a gun like that. Likewise, going 2/3 in the “x” on the option with one more on the silhouette should be easy. It’s a failure of a firm enough grip – though I could use condensation on lenses as an excuse, it’s not a good one. Consider lighting in a movie theater, for example.

T.Rex Arms (insert joke about “specializing in small arms” here) did a similar drill, and I’m not sure about what what they’re showing here is a useful drill or not. The location of the bad guy is known, all that’s happening here is a turn-and-fire drill using a rifle shot as the start signal rather than a buzzer.

What’s needed (and it will happen, because we’re smart and, unlike our President, we see the need for such things), is something like the Tueller Drill* or the El Prez**, but adapted for the reality of a guy with a rifle in a semi-crowded, low-light, indoor setting. We need to simulate*** identifying the shooter and engaging him/her with your carry gun quickly and precisely. We call it the Tueller Drill because it’s based on real-world testing, so with that in mind, I’m thinking something along these lines as a test of our ability as armed civilians to react to an active shooter. I’m not a training expert and have no ego invested in this idea, I’m just flailing away like everybody else right now, trying to make sense of the incomprehensible.

Determine Baseline: Start facing downrange with rifle at low ready, eyes closed. Six targets 25 yards are set up downrange, each with a different color Post-It™ note on it. At start signal, RO calls out a color. Shooter engages that color with one round. Repeat 5 times for average par time. Ideally, the person doing the drill should not be a practiced competitor or expert shot, but rather, just an average gun owner. Sgt. Tueller didn’t do his tests with the BYU track team, and we’re not doing this with Seal Team Six.

This test is not meant to gauge how fast the bad guy can shoot people, but rather, how fast he/she recognizes that there is someone out there shooting back at him/her. The amount of time it takes for someone to pick out a gun at 25 yards is your window of opportunity to put your hits on-target and stop the threat. After that, you’re going to be behind the firepower curve and it’s probably going to go bad for you (or me). Assume you can draw, keep your gun out of view and move to a position of cover/concealment where you can shoot back: Can you engage a target with an upper torso hit in the time frame from that scenario? Can you do a head shot in that amount of time?

Me? I don’t know, but I’m going to try, and soon.

* Yes, I know, he never meant it as a drill.
** We may poo-poo it now, but fact is, the El Prez is/was the beginning of creating shooting drills based on real-world situations. Dismiss it at your own peril.
*** Simulate, not replicate. Drills are not scenarios, scenarios are not drills.

Because I’m bad. I’m nation-wide.

One of the disappointments from my time at Lotus Gunworks was not being able to work on a chain-wide marketing strategy as was originally planned*. They have three stores, two with ranges and were, I believed, in a great position to expand beyond that into a nation-wide brand of high-end gun stores and, more importantly, gun ranges.

For a variety of reasons, that didn’t happen, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t going to happen. Pincus is coast-to-coast, and GunSite has FINALLY left Paulden, but there has yet to be anyone who has created a nation-wide shooting range experience. Gander Mountain is trying with the Gander Academy, and although guntry clubs are popping up all over the country, no one is trying to unify the experience and set expectations for service and features for high-end shooting ranges.


Someone is going to figure out that people with lots of money buy memberships in exclusive clubs like high-end shooting ranges and that money=mobility. People who move around a lot want to know that the service they get in the summer home in Ypsilanti will be there in winter home in Wiinter Haven. This (and increased purchasing power) is why chain restaurants tend to do better than local restaurants, because they tend to provide the same experience no matter the location. To borrow from another nationwide business chain, the best surprise is no surprise.

When it comes to the gun range experience, for shooters, every new range is potentially a new surprise. Someone’s going to take their gun range brand across the country, it’ll be interesting to see who it will be.

Yep, another musical reference in the title.

* That was the LEAST of my disappointments with that place, but we’ll table the rest of that discussion for later.

The Soda Can Plan.

31cN0I7SsaLSpeaking of processes, let’s walk through the process of qualifying for a concealed carry permit in a classroom environment.

  1. You go to the classroom. Because most (if not all) concealed carry classes are led by people who learned to teach the NRA way and are located in areas where a negligent discharge would be a very, very bad thing, there is no ammo alllowed the classroom. Your gun will remain in its case, usually at the front of the room, until it’s time from the optional dry fire practice to work on grip.
  2. You learn about laws and stuff, and have some guidance on when you can and cannot legally shoot someone.
  3. If your instructor includes it in his/her curriculum, you go up to a table at the front of the room and, under your instructor’s watchful eye, you get a few seconds of instruction on grip, stance, breathing and trigger press (because NRA, that’s why). Maybe it’s with your unloaded gun, maybe it’s with the instructor’s blue gun.
  4. If needed for your permit, you go to the range, where you shoot X number of rounds to attain Y score (or not) at Z distance which proves you can shoot a gun. Yay you.

Question: At any time during this process did you actually try to carry a firearm on your person? There was a brief glimpse of what it’s like to hold a gun and shoot a gun, but was there anything about what it’s like to carry a gun?

Isn’t that the whole point of this exercise?

There are obvious safety reasons why instructors don’t want guns on hips of absolute newbies in the classroom, loaded or not, and I think those rules should stay in place because they work quite well. However, they also cut people off from the ultimate goal of a CCW class, which is not qualifying someone for a permit, but rather, getting them to carry a defensive sidearm. After all, what good is a permit* to do something if you don’t actually do it?

Just as an instructor uses blue guns to simulate holding a real gun in your hands, why not use a simulator to mimic carrying a gun around with you all the time?

At this point, trainers are going to scream “That’s insane, I can’t afford a dozen blue guns and holsters!,” and they’re right, it’s stupid to buy that amount of gear for this task. However, what we are simulating is the weight and awkwardness of carrying a gun, not the gun itself. Blue guns simulate how a gun feels in the hand, what’s needed, however, is something super-cheap and safe that simulates the weight of gun on your hip.

If you want to get people used to carrying a heavy weight on their hip, why not start with… having them carry around a heavy weight on their hip? A Glock 19 with a full load of ammo weighs about 29 ounces. A 16 ounce bottle of soda weighs a little under 18 ounces. Team that bottle of pop**  with one of these, and you have a completely safe way of introducing the added weight and inconvenience of carrying a gun on their hips for about the same price as a couple of boxes of ammo. When your students come into the classroom, hand them a soda (or a bottle of water) and a belt clip. Have them carry around the soda on their hip the entire class. Get them used to having something heavy on their waist for extended periods of time. For 99.9% of your students, this will be their first introduction into the reality of what it feels like to carry a gun all the time.

Why do this? Because people who carry their guns tend to see the need for more training on how to properly use their gun more than people who just get a piece of paper and ignore their guns, that’s why. If you want a revenue stream that goes beyond “turn’n’burn” CCW classes, you need to start thinking about ways to turn your students into lifelong learners who see you as a trusted source of information, not just someone who cashed the check for their CCW class.

* Save the discussion about permitting a human right for another time. We’re talking about the process as it is, not how it should be.
** For our northern and/or Canadian friends.

Process-Driven Instruction Is Not The Answer

Thinking more about this line from last week,

This is the concealed carry equivalent of finding God in a foxhole. Those people aren’t carrying a gun to protect themselves, they’re carrying a gun to calm themselves.

How many firearms trainers see teaching others to carry a defensive sidearm as process-driven versus how many see it as advocating for a lifestyle? Examples of the first are easy to find, they tend use phrases like “Through careful research, I have decided that a Glock 19 in an OWB Kydex holster is my optimal solution for concealed carry” and can argue, at length, about the benefits of 124 grain 9mm bullets versus 147 grain bullets (talk about yer angels dancing on the head of a pin…).

Examples of the second kind of instructor are harder to find. Kathy Jackson is one, so are Melody Lauer and Jeff Street. This type of trainer tends to look at firearms as a means to a destination, rather than the destination itself. They are also distinctly in the minority in the training community. This is a problem for the long-term growth of Gun Culture 2.0 because the people who are buying guns are buying them because of how a gun makes them feel, not necessarily what the gun actually does. Logic is not driving their decisions, passion is. Passion is good, because passion will keep you going long after logic has thrown in the towel, and trying to get new gun owners beyond the passion of wanting to “feel safe” into the world of “being safe” should be our goal, not overloading them with jargon and gear talk.

Exegesis, Hermeneutics, Eschatology and Split Times.

The first three words of the title to this post will probably make no sense to you unless you suffered, as I did, through a few years of Bible school at some point in your life. They are not words you hear very often in church or even Sunday School for that matter, but using them, and using them correctly, means you’ve committed yourself to a study of the Bible that is far and above what regular churchgoers embark on, and definitely far above what CEO Christians know.

They’re a sign that you’re committed to learning more about how to be a Christian for the sake of wanting to be a better Christian (Hang on, there’s gun stuff coming, I swear there is.), and it usually means there’s been a few lifestyle decisions made along the way as well.

Which is pretty much the problem we have right now in gun culture (See? I told you!). The core of Gun Culture 2.0, the writers and trainers leading the movement, use words like “split times” and “AIWB” and “FBI calibrated gelatin tests” that confuse new gun owners who pick up their newly-purchased guns maybe once a month or so. We talk expert talk, then we’re confused when beginners want nothing to do with us. What’s needed is a better way to make the casual gun owner into a gun carrier.

I cannot tell you the number of times people who have a quality defensive pistol and a concealed carry permit tell me “Yeah, I have a permit, but I only carry when I think I’m going to some place I might need it.” This is the concealed carry equivalent of finding God in a foxhole. Those people aren’t carrying a gun to protect themselves, they’re carrying a gun to calm themselves. They’re quite happy believing there will be someone or something near them ready to rescue them when danger might be nearby, and the idea of being their own first responder has never entered their minds.

Good luck with that sort of thinking. You’ll need it.