Are we living in a golden age of firearms training?

In a word, yes, yes we are.

Firearms instruction and training really has evolved. The days are long past when someone handed you a gun and told you to go out back and teach yourself to shoot. Today we have a gun to fit each person, each purpose, and each budget. We are entering the golden age of firearms instruction that is equally wide and deep.

Instructors today know their material in depth. They take continuing education courses and most instructors have sampled a number of different training schools before they instruct. This pays real dividends for the student. First, today’s instructors have standards of professional practice to safely run a range. Second, today’s instructors have a well stocked bag of tricks. This is invaluable when the first training method doesn’t connect with the student. What works for you might not work for me. Instructors need several approaches to teach the same skill.

Lots and lots of great insights in that article, so please read the whole thing. And I especially love this little bit at the end.

Take a new shooter to the range.. and take a class with them.

Yep. And also, take them to a match as well. H/T Phil Wong of Gator Farm Tactical.

Lessons from Chattanooga

We may poo-poo the idea of “Monday Morning Quarterbacking” tragedies like the jihad in Tennessee, but I’d rather learn from these incidents than pretend they don’t exist or hope and pray they don’t happen to me or my loved ones.

Number One:
The shooter in this latest incident was a Kuwaiti who didn’t exactly come from an impoverished background.

Terrorist house

Lesson to be learned here: Just because you live in a “nice” neighborhood doesn’t mean you’re safe from jihad. Naples, where I live, is nothing if not wall-to-wall “nice” neighborhoods, and we’re DARN close to Cuba as well. If you think you’re safe because you’re not in the military, you’re dead wrong. Jihadis have shot up schools, shopping malls, churches, airports and hotels; they’re going to have issues shooting up your favorite Mexican restaurant.

Number Two:
Carry as much firepower as you can, all the time. I’m carrying my CZ P07 off-work as of 5pm on Thursday, rather than the Shield I’ve been carrying. 9 rounds of ammo is good. 16 rounds is better, and another 16 in a spare mag on my belt, (with an AR in the trunk), is even more better. If you can’t carry at work, have a flashlight, a first aid kit and an escape plan.

Number Three: 
Carry more than a gun. I’ve got my tactical man-purse with me pretty much all the time now, and it has the things I need to deal with a day’s worth of what life might throw at me. If that’s too much for you, carry the four things you should have besides your gun and some means of mitigating the effects of a gunshot wound to yourself or others, and know how to use your gear.

To be honest, I’d much prefer to not worry about such things. It’s sad that we must consider terrorism on our home soil as a very real thing, but the consequences of not considering it are even sadder.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again

There are two possible responses to a dispersed threat such as “lone wolf” terrorism: Increasing security and reducing civil rights to the point where it is indistinguishable from tyranny, or a dispersed response that empowers individuals to not be victims.

Thoughts and prayers for the people of Chattanooga and all the Marines out there.

If only there were some compact and effective way for trained personnel to deter such attacks. Maybe something like this would stop the next tragedy before it happens.

Until our armed forces are allowed to be, you know, ARMED, they are targets, not soldiers.


One Hour To Save A Life

Grant Cunningham (and others) brought to light this absolutely fascinating tale of an impromptu training session at a shooting range.

We keep talking. I find out she’s a single mom with two kids. Her house has been broken into three times in the last two months. The last burglary attempt occurred while she was in the house with her kids. She has never shot a gun, but she recognized that she had a duty to protect her family. She went to a gun show and bought a Jimenez Arms JA-9… She tells me that she has a bad feeling that the robbers are coming back tonight to get the X-Mas presents she bought for her kids. She doesn’t know anything about guns and doesn’t know anyone who can teach her. She’s signed up for a CCW class, but no one teaches classes on the week of Christmas and she can’t find an opening until January, and she thinks the robbers are coming TONIGHT… The problem was that the range was closing in an hour and she could only afford one box of bullets. How’s that for a dilemma for you instructors out there?

One hour, one cheap gun and one box of rounds. This isn’t some high-speed, low drag training course with 1000 rounds that last five days, this is one hour to save a person’s life with a gun of questionable quality. Kudos to Greg for giving this scared single mother the training she needed, when she needed it.

A class by itself

I had an interesting chat with a gentleman on the range awhile ago. He was shooting a .38 with snakeshot loads because (in his mind) “You can’t miss!”. I tried to bring up such things as bullet weight, penetration, muzzle velocity, yada yada yada, but in his mind, the plethora of holes in his paper target trumped such things.

Ok then.

Concealed carry permits are BOOMING. Why, then, are so few people taking the logical next step and getting the training that will drastically improve their odds in surviving a gunfight?

Part of it, as I said before, lies with how trainers talk about their classes. We humans don’t want to actually LIVE through the zombie apocalypse, we just like watching it on TV. Taking firearms training is a responsible thing to do if you own a gun, but making the responsible thing seem fun is a steep hill to climb: Ask anyone who’s had to make an 11 year old eat their broccoli.

Part of it is the classes themselves: For safety’s sake, they require a gun/holster combination that’s not that common for non-gun people, or for that matter, require a holster in the first place. How many guns have sold in the past 10 years that never, ever leave the house? Why, then, do we assume that CCW=Carry? Maybe CCW= “Ok, at some point, I may WANT to carry, but for right now, let’s leave the gun at home”?

That’s not how I think, and that’s not how firearms trainers think, but it’s how our market thinks. The question is, are we selling training to ourselves, or our market? What needs to change to increase our business, ourselves, or our market? Which is the easier to change?

Something to think about.

This is what you want, this is what you get.

Thinking more about this throwaway line from Tuesday…

“… has anyone ever taken a serious firearms self-defense class where someone else was using an LCP? Me neither.”

… why is there such a disconnect between the guns we see in a firearms training class and the guns that people actually carry? There’s a bunch of reasons why, of course. I tried to take a Combat Focus Shooting class with my Shield, but in the end, having to have 4+ mags on my belt compared to two needed for the P07 was a deal-breaker. I’ve taken a bunch of “self-defense” firearms classes, and either a) IWB carry is not as popular as the holster manufacturers would have us believe or b) people cheat and use a holster in-class that they’d never use on a daily basis.

That’s like taking a class at Bob Bondurant on how to drive an SUV, when the car in your garage is a Honda Civic.

Part of the blame lies with us, part with the industry, part with trainers. I’ll have more thoughts on this after the weekend.

And yes, the title is a P.I.L. reference. ;)

Home-focused firearms safety

It might just be the quasi-dead nature of the Naples demographic or the fact that Republicans here tend to be be more mainstream oriented than Tea party sympathizers, but I am seeing a LOT more interest in home defensive firearms and CCW guns than I am in AR-15’s.

Given that there are so many new firearms owners out there that are concerned about home invasion, when was the last time you saw an NRA Personal Protection In The Home or similar class that had people a) bring along their home handgun safe of choice to class and practice opening and drawing from said safe and b) had people draw out a layout of the home and plan a safe room response based on their unique home design?

Maybe a little more time on how to make a safe room and a little less time worrying about HSLD techniques like AIWB would pay off for today’s firearms trainers.

If we want guns to become part of our lifestyle, they need to be part of OUR lifestyle, not the lifestyle of a Delta SEAL Recon operator.

“It’s just a training issue”.

… so there was a dust up earlier this week between a very famous firearms trainer / expert whose credentials are beyond reproach and a bunch of other famous firearms trainers over the topic of carrying a firearms in an inside-the-waistband appendix holster.


Is it more dangerous to carry up front near your appendix? Of course it is.

We know by experience what happens if you have a negligent discharge with a gun carried in an outside the waistband holster: You get a hole in your leg (and possibly your foot) and your video gets posted on YouTube for everyone to mock.

Have a negligent discharge with a gun near your appendix, though, and there’s a lot more things at risk than just your ego. Is that risk real? Yes. Can it be mitigated with training? Yes. Is it worth the effort?

*thoughtful pause*

For me, no. I just don’t think the benefits outweigh the risks. Other people who I respect have looked at that same equation and reached a different conclusion, and that’s fine. We’re dealing with opinion here, and we aren’t going to have mathematical proof that one way is better than another.

If one trainer wants to ban AIWB in classes, cool, don’t train with him. If another trainer insists that everyone should switch to AIWB, cool, don’t train with him (or her) either. The path to personal safety is broad and has many gates. Leave the “straight and narrow” talk for the preacher on Sunday morning.


What Would Elmer Keith Do?

I had an interesting discussion with a range officer at work last week: If Elmer Keith and the training legends of the past were alive today, what would they recommend as far as handguns?

One school of thought is that they’d recommend a lot of the same things they recommended back in the day. .44 Magnum. Wheelguns. Wadcutters. More of the same.

Me? I say different.

Let’s digress into the world of photography and talk about St. Ansel of Adams. The question arose awhile back on what ol’ AA would do in today’s world of digital images and photoshop, and I contend that rather than messing around with 8×10 view cameras and spending hours in the darkroom, he’d be diligently working on turning digital photography into a process-driven art, just like he did with chemically-based photography. The Camera, The Negative and The Print were not about the tools themselves, they were about integrating those three items into a process that could deliver consistent, repeatable results.

Now pause for a moment and look at the landscape of defensive firearms and firearms training right after WWII. The 1911 was not a consistently reliable platform yet and bullet design… well, bullet design sucked. Given those two realities, it’s only natural that yesterday’s trainers gravitated to big-bore revolvers, because that’s what worked at that time.

But those times are not our times. Semi-automatics work well now, and high-speed cameras and computer modeling have revolutionized the way bullets are made. Modern pistols work well, modern ammunition stops the threat, and modern materials means you don’t have to lug around an ingot of lead on your hip when you walk out the door.

Bottom line is, if you’re going to have icons, make an icon out of the process, not the person.