Dry run

Between the move to a new house and the fact that Mrs. ExKevin is in the last throes of finishing her Master’s degree, free time to do gun stuff beyond writing about gun stuff has been in short supply this last month.

But I managed to get in 15 minutes worth tonight, and it felt GOOD.

Of Course It’s A Training Issue…

… because unless you’re Rob Leatham and you popped out of your Mom’s womb with a 1911 in one hand and a Dillon 650 in the other*, everything about learning how to shoot a gun involves training of some sort**.

Is learning to use a DA/SA trigger harder than learning to use a striker trigger? Yes. Is it roadblock the size of Mt. Logan standing in the path of learning to shoot well? No. It is just as big an issue (or excuse) as the person pulling the trigger makes it to be. You can get good on a DA/SA trigger with under 100 rounds of practice ammo if you don’t let it play with your head. The minute you say, “Oh, I can’t shoot that gun because it has an eight pound first pull”, you’re exactly right, you can’t. I’ve never considered it to be a big deal, and guess what, it’s not.

For the record, I prefer DA/SA guns***, but I recommend striker-fired guns to first timers because they’re quicker to learn than a DA/SA gun. Note that word, however… QUICKER. Not better, quicker. I’ve watched great shooters who usually shot tuned striker guns (and good 1911’s) struggle to shoot accurately with the 8 pound trigger on the original LC9 because they got used to just one kind of a trigger. They were good at one type of pistol, and the minute something new was put into their hands, their ability to hit the target dropped dramatically and they had to re-learn what they had learned.

Think that’s a training issue? I sure do.

There are some training issues you can and should avoid completely, such as choosing an unsafe holster. However, there is also no such thing as a free lunch. Yes, the initial learning curve with a striker gun is flatter, but eventually the need to run different kinds of guns appears, and just like car parts, you can pay for it now, or pay for it later, but that training issue isn’t going away.


 

* Ouch, that musta hurt…
** Not true, I know Rob trains and trains and trains. He can also run just about any gun phenomenally well, regardless of what trigger is on it. 
*** My carry guns are a DAO Kel-Tec P3AT, a striker-fired M&P Shield and a DA/SA CZ P07. I am nothing if not a bundle of contradictions.

Monkey Dance

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There’s an interesting discussion about moving and shooting going on over at Pistol Forum. Should you scamper sideways and shoot while running almost flat out a la Gabe Suarez, sidestep a few feet a la Givens, or stay in place and make sure all your hits count?

Honestly, I don’t know.

I do know this: Hand a bunch of young kids some water pistols. Tell them that if they get wet, they have to sit out the game for five minutes, then watch what happens. I guarantee you they will be running around willy-nilly for the rest of the game, not worrying too much about putting fluid on-target but rather making not getting soaked their #1 priority.

What this means for innocent bystanders and no-shoots when those water streams turn to lead pellets is another matter, but the point is that our initial, inbred impulse is not to stand like a statue when attacked, but to get out of dodge quickly.

We understand, at a root-DNA level, that movement is life. We know that if we’re not moving, we’re Leopard Chow. We lack the lion’s powerful jaws and the claws of the wolf, but what we have, though, thanks to our two legs and high center of gravity, is the ability to move laterally faster than any other mammal on Earth. We’re still learning how to combine that quick left-right movement with something more formidable than an antelope femur, but we’ll get there.

Failure Is Always An Option

I hate dry-fire practice with my strong hand only and weak hand only*, because it shows just how much I suck at such things. But I do it. Not as often as I should, but I do it nevertheless. I’m ok with sucking at something for a while if I know I can get better at it with effort and practice. It’s the sucking at something and not improving that I hate (and I do that far too much for my liking).

Which is why I can’t figure out why you wouldn’t want to do a night shoot. There’s a very good chance you’ll need to defend yourself at night, so why not get good at it now, when the stakes are just 17th place in a match, not your life? Better a bruised ego now than deep penetrating trauma later.

*Go ahead. Tell me there’s no such thing as “weak hand”, just “support hand”. I dare you.

Training Is Evolving

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Miguel talks about a CCW trainer who’s worried that his semi-guaranteed source of income is going away now that a permit are semi-optional in Oklahoma. I can dig it: I bet the automobile looked pretty darn scary to the people who built horse carriages, but you know what? Some of them did quite well for themselves when cars became the norm.

Something interesting happened in Arizona after the state went to permit-free concealed carry: The quantity of firearms training went down, but the quality went up. Before the need to ask permission was revoked, there was a fairly good business in Arizona in teaching people the bare minimum needed to instruct CCW, and then encouraging those instructors to take more classes so they can then teach others how to be a CCW instructor.

There’s a word for this, and that word is “Ponzi”.

When Arizona went permit-free, though, that house of NRA Instructor cards collapsed (much to the chagrin of some at the top of the pyramid), and there was a sorting-out period while NRA Instructors figured out what their business model was, now that people no longer needed their services.

Although I no longer live there, I see more and more quality, post-CCW training show up in Arizona. Where once it was Gunsite or, um, errr, we’re now seeing well-known names like Larry Vickers, Instructor Zero and Grant Cunningham put on classes in Phoenix, along with some guy who’s won literally everything there is to win in practical shooting. The training business is alive and well in Arizona and growing even more.

So to the instructors in Oklahoma, West Virginia and other locales who are looking at the ruination of their Concealed Carry licensing business, I say there is hope. Change your thinking and put effort into your business model, and you’ll succeed, because change doesn’t care about your revenue projections, it just changes.

The Stupidity Triad.

I know trainers who poo-poo the idea of situational awareness, preferring instead to concentrate  on dealing with the after-effects of being ambushed. While I understand the idea (they are, after all, firearms trainers, not zen awareness trainers), but the fact is, you win 100% of the fights you don’t get into.

I’ve some more ideas on John Farnam’s classic dictum on avoiding bad things before they happen over at Ricochet.com.

It’s A Family Affair

“De l’audace, encore de l’audace, toujours de l’audace” – Georges Danton

The paradigm of the personal protection/bodyguard might not be the right one for people like me who want to keep our families safe. Maybe it is all about winning by being on the attack, not on defense.

On this episode of Ballistic Radio, Melody Lauer talks about stopping the threat to our families by… stopping the threat. Not shielding our kids, not putting ourselves in between them and the line of fire and dealing with things, but making stopping the threat the priority, as that’s the safest and quickest solution for everyone involved.

*thoughtful pause*

There’s an element of truth what Melody talks about on which I need to ponder, because it squares nicely with what I’m learning about individual armed self-defense. However, I can’t help but wonder how such ideas square with the methods used by people who are paid to protect people for a living, rather than myself, who does it for free, as part of my job of being a Dad. Is their training wrong, or is it focused more on large attacks by a group on one individual, and not keeping two or three people safe from street crime or an overzealous ex-spouse?

If nothing else, this proves that the science of familial protection is not settled, but rather, it’s just beginning.

The Why Is As Important As The How.

I’m a not a fan of pistols for home defence versus long guns, because for me, a long gun works best as a fixed-location weapon. I have no desire to go from room to room in my house, sweeping it for bad guys, I’d much prefer I sit with my family in my safe room and wait for help to arrive. A pistol works great if you’re moving around, but I don’t plan on doing such things, I want to wait it out. While I have a pistol in my safe room (and a long gun as well), but it’s the long gun that I see as my primary safe room defensive weapon, not the pistol.

Therefore, my needs for a defensive firearm are a little bit different than a cop’s. If I can help it (and that’s a fairly big IF) I’m not going to be searching for trouble inside my house, I’ll leave that sort of thing for the professionals to deal with. Ergo, the WHY of room-to-room combat for me is based on keeping myself and my family safe, not going on the offense and searching for bad guys.

Which puts something like this (which is already a terrific read) in a whole new light. Proving that Tactic X works for an entry team in a shoot house means squat to me: I don’t have a fire team of Pier One operators backing me up, and my job isn’t to arrest anyone, it’s to make sure my family and I don’t come to harm. Shoot house tactics change greatly if your goal isn’t to search and engage but rather rescue and retreat. Search and engage is for the cops, my job is to keep people safe.

Update: Edited for clarity.