6 Nov 00
A friend with a large PD in the Midwest just related this incident, which happened last week:
“We had a group of new officers on the pistol range, and they were into their second day of training with their issue SIG P228s. At the time, we were asking them to draw the pistol and reholster it using only their strong hand, explaining that both hands are often not simultaneously available.
An officer still wanted to use her left hand to decock, and I explained to her that she was going to have to learn to do it all one handed, not involving her left hand at all. She indicated that she could not concurrently reach the decocking lever with her right thumb and maintain her master grip.
I was standing to the rear of her left shoulder as I explained to her that she may have to tilt the pistol to the left in order to reach the decocking lever with her right thumb. I had not even completed my sentence when she abruptly pointed her pistol (hammer cocked) to the left, which caused her muzzle to point directly at my head!
I lurched to the right as I pushed the gun back so that it again pointed downrange. No harm was done, but it was the worst scare I’ve had in quite a while! Both the student and I were badly shaken up.”
>The act of manual decocking often causes the pistol to abruptly point to the left, particularly when it is in the hands of an inexperienced student who does not yet have an adequate grasp of the concept of muzzle consciousness. People with small hands are particularly likely to succumb to this dangerous error. The same unsafe habit is also seen during reloading. The problem must be explained and demonstrated to all students as they learn how to decock and reload their weapons. Control of the direction of the muzzle can be maintained, but it takes technique and practice.
>When coaching students using manually decocking pistols, it is always best to stand to the right rear of the student.
>This phenomenon is endemic to manually decocking pistols. It is eliminated in self-decocking pistols (DAO).
9 Nov 00
This is from one of my instructors in the Midwest:
“We had a reserve officer accidentally shoot himself yesterday. He was in his own home getting ready for work at our department. He was holstering his SIG P220 into his Level III security holster when it unintentionally discharged. At present we don’t know if the pistol was decocked or not, and we don’t know if he had his finger on the trigger or not. Since there was only one witness, we may never know.
The bullet (Cor-Bon 230gr 45ACP) performed as advertised! It struck him in the right foot, breaking bones left and right and making a nauseating mess of his foot and ankle. It then exited and struck the floor. He will be off work a minimum of eight weeks and will likely lose his job.
This same officer was slated to attend a DTI Course earlier this year, but backed out at the last minute, because he said it was “too expensive.” I wonder what he thinks it would have been worth now?”
Lesson: There are not enough details available yet for me to draw specific conclusions, but I can say that we see officers all the time at our courses who are inordinately clouded as to the correct operation of both their sidearm and their holster. This is doubtless one we didn’t get to in time.
9 Nov 00
“Two Altamonte Springs, FLpolice officers were suspended recently after a photograph surfaced showing one of the two exposing his genitals during a music festival to which he had been assigned.
The two officers had been stationed near the stage as part of the security detail. Fans handed them cameras with which they were asked to take close-up photos of the performers from their unique perspective. A female fan got her camera back, with the ‘extra’ photo.
The officer who took the photo (of the other officer’s genitals) defended his action by claiming that he had been led to believe that there was no film in the camera!”
> There is no such thing as, “off the record!” “All guns are always loaded” applies to cameras too!
>Life is tough. But, if you’re stupid, it’s really tough!
9 Nov 00
Hog Hunt 2000!
I just spent a day hunting hogs at a private game preserve in southern Ohio with several friends. We do it every year at this time.
We hunt in heavy woods and steep, rocky terrain. The hogs are mostly razorback/Russian mix and average 250 pounds. They move fast, and target windows are typically short, no more than a second or two. Most shots are thirty to seventy-five meters. The males have impressive tusks!
This year I used a Win M70 bolt gun in 7mm STW. It has a Leupold 3-10X scope. My partner used a Ruger 44Mg lever gun with iron sights. Both are perfectly suitable, but hogs are a good deal tougher than deer and antelope. No matter what they are hit with, they rarely collapse in a heap. Like cape buffalo, they like to run after being hit.
After hiking all day with few sightings, I finally spotted a hog at seventy-five meters distance, emerging from behind a tree. I hastily got into position and put the crosshairs in the middle of the body mass that was exposed. It was moving constantly in and out of cover, and I couldn’t tell if I was shooting at the front half or the back half. I calculated that this may be my best (and only) opportunity, so I pressed off my shot.
As I was bolting in the next round, the hog disappeared. Moments later, it reappeared from behind the other side of the same tree, displaying very little discomfort! Confused, I again put the crosshairs on the center of the exposed mass and pressed off a shot. This time, I could see a puff of dust where the round hit him, exactly where I had aimed. I could also see him stumble and, again, disappear.
Hoping he did not have enough residual energy to run away, I cautiously closed the distance while frantically trying to stuff more rounds into the magazine, which only holds three.
When I arrived at the scene, I discovered that I had actually shot two hogs, a male and a female! They had been together behind the tree. I thought both shots were on the same hog, but I had been mistaken. I had shot the female first as, what turned out to be her back half, was exposed. I shot the front half of the male a few seconds later.
The 7mm STW round performed spectacularly, downing both hogs with a single hit. I was shooting 150gr WW Power Point, which I’ll probably stick with when I go deer hunting in Texas next month.
Both hogs were hit in profile. The male was hit on the shoulder. The female slightly to the rear of the shoulder. The round striking the female went through and through, although the exit wound was fist sized. The round striking the male was recovered just under the skin on the opposite side of entry, having penetrated fourteen inches of tissue and bone. It was perfectly mushroomed. The Power Point is an impressive bullet.
It was a wonderful hunt, and we’re all looking forwards to doing it again. The mounted head of the tusker will be gracing my office wall sometime next year!
In any event, I only planned to shoot one hog. My inexperience and failure to believe what I was seeing caused me to unintentionally shoot two.
Lesson: When using a rifle for hunting or for fighting, there is nothing more important than one’s confidence in the rifle itself and in his own ability with it. You must know your limitations and your capabilities and have unshakable confidence in your knowledge of both. My unintentional shooting of the second hog was a direct result of my allowing myself to believe that I could have missed a shot, where the evidence clearly indicated that the shot was a solid hit. The evidence here was the fact that the crosshairs were on target when the shot broke. I needed to steadfastly believe what I clearly saw instead of entertaining the thought that I may not have seen what I thought I saw.
If you are not confident, you will be confused, and confusion leads to hesitation. My temporary lapse in confidence led me to shoot two hogs when I thought I was shooting one. Lesson learned!
14 Nov 00
Cover and movement. This from a friend who is a training officer in a large PD. This department had just completed exhaustive Simunitions/Force-on-Force drills.
“When a threat presents itself suddenly, such as when a suspect unexpectedly produces a weapon from concealment, turning and running to cover usually produces poor results, particularly when an officer is in the open. The officer is customarily shot as he runs and is unable to effectively return fire, even when he finally gets his sidearm drawn.
A far more effective strategy, but one that requires a great deal of training and personal courage, is aggressive, lateral movement combined with a simultaneous draw of the sidearm. The officer lurches laterally, getting off the line of force, as his sidearm is being drawn. As soon as the pistol is at eye level, the officer stops suddenly and immediately fires a number of rounds in rapid succession from a stationary position. He then immediately moves laterally again and repeats the maneuver.
This aggressive, lateral movement, combined with an aggressive burst of fire from a stationary position is the one tactic that the guys playing the role of felons found most difficult to deal with. They indicated that they would stalk the officer and make a plan to shoot him, usually waiting until he was in the open and far from cover.
When they produced their weapon, the officer suddenly moved laterally, and their first shot invariably went where the officer had been an instant before. By the time they pointed their weapon at the officer in his new position, they were so savagely pummeled with Simunitions that they could not fire accurately or, in many cases, at all.
We now teach our guys that, when they are in the open, aggressive movement, combined with aggressive, accurate gunfire, is their best ally”
15 Nov 00
I am now teaching students, when shooting at a standing human, to put the first round into the navel, than move upward into the thoracic triangle with subsequent shots. We’re doing this, because placing one’s front sight immediately on the upper chest of an attacker makes it very difficult to track the target when he subsequently ducks and/or sidesteps.
When the front sight goes immediately to the zone just below the neck, and the felon suddenly ducks, the shooter is left with a blank sight picture! He must then drop his sights and search for the target. When the front sight goes no further up than the navel before the first shot is fired, no matter how the felon moves, he can’t get away from follow-up shots.
I’ve been teaching it this way for some time now, but the technique was critically substantiated when we had students engage the famous Bob Berry “Ducking Target” during a training program in Pennsylvania several weeks ago. Students who automatically put their front sights too high invariably lost the target.
Several friends who teach the same thing call it the “Zipper Technique.” Fair enough!
19 Nov 00
Consistently taking personal responsibility for one’s own safety through alertness saves the day for this young trooper. This from a friend with the State Patrol:
“Last week, two people, the driver and a passenger, ran on foot from their vehicle at our Port of Entry as officers approached their car. The POE is next to our office on the interstate. The incident took place at night, and, after a short search, neither person was found. The search was ultimately called off.
A few hours later, one of our officers closed up our POE office for the night at the end of his shift. He had been there alone. He has made it a habit to first turn off the lights inside and then wait a minute before going outside. Once outside, he always looks right/left before walking out of the door. This night, his precautions paid off!
The passenger of the suspect vehicle, still drunk and staggering, was waiting to the side of the office exit. We don’t know his intent, but our officer spotted him immediately. Being aware of the vehicle incident and suspecting this person was involved, our officer confronted him at once, shouted a verbal command, called for help, and immediately took control. Startled, the suspect offered no resistance. When other officers arrived, he was taken into custody. A short time later, his friend the driver, was discovered nearby and was also taken into custody.
It was a minor incident, of course. It surely didn’t make the headlines. But, it would have if our officer, through lack of alertness, had been taken by surprise, attacked, and killed. Correct personal safety attitude and procedures saved a headline. It may have saved a life, or two!”
21 Nov 00
Shooting incident in Los Angeles. This from a friend with the LAPD:
“A US Marshal and one of our patrol officers were shot yesterday. Both survived. The suspect was a federal fugitive, armed with a Soviet AK-47.
At 11:00am hours yesterday (Monday), two ununiformed US Marshals (armed only with pistols) knocked on apartment door in an expensive and exclusive neighborhood. They were there to arrest a federal probation violator from Tennessee.
They had not done their homework. They had no idea what crime the suspect had committed and knew nothing of his background. They apparently thought this was a milk run. In fact, the suspect had an extensive, violent history and was a suspect in a recent drive-by shooting in the City of Hawthorne, all of which we could have told them had they only asked.
Unknown to the Marshals, the suspect had a CCTV system in the apartment hallway and had monitored their entire approach. The Marshals had just begun to knock on the door, when several AK-47 rounds were fired from inside, through the door. One Marshall (who had been standing in front of the door) was hit in his right bicep. Astounded, both Marshals quickly retreated to another apartment and asked to use the phone so that they could call 911. Yes, called 911 from a local telephone, because they had no radio, no backup, and had not advised our station of their presence or intent!
As our units arrived, a number of shots were fired at us from the suspect’s fifth floor balcony. This is an enormous apartment building, and it was difficult for us to locate the source of the fire. One of our senior officers was running about in a frantic effort the coordinate our deployment when he took a through-and-through wound to his right calf. He went down in the open and was unable to crawl to safety. Without hesitation, several officers immediately drove their vehicles between our downed officer and the gunfire, rescued, and then extracted him.
It was forty more minutes before our guys got to the wounded Marshal on the fifth floor and got him out. Of course, numerous residents had to be evacuated also.
There were subsequent negotiations, but the suspect indicated he would not be taken alive. SWAT finally used explosives to blow off the apartment door. Numerous gas projectiles and flash bangs were expended with no response. At 11:00pm SWAT made entry and found the suspect dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
Our wounded officer was treated and released. The Marshal’s wound was likewise not life threatening. He will recover.
This is yet another case of an outside agency coming into Los Angeles, getting in over their heads, and then pleading with us to bail them out. Yes, we’re sending the bill to Janet Reno!”
>”Even the timid become brave when they are cornered. Even the brave become timid when they are confused.” Confusion of purpose, lack of preparation, lack of coordination, lack of communication, and, dare I say, personal vanity and arrogance, led to this preventable calamity.
>True heroes are not confused and thus never hesitate when they are needed. The officers who rescued their downed comrade deserve a medal. All who responded without hesitation deserve a medal!
21 Nov 00
More on the LA shooting:
After the North Hollywood shooting, LAPD acquired a number of military-surplus M-16s (altered to fire semi-auto only). The plan was and is to build up a cadre of rifle-qualified officers, who would routinely carry rifles with them. Simultaneously, a cadre of officers was and is being trained to use slug-shooting shotguns. The department switched from Ithaca shotguns to Remington 870s some years ago, and the old Ithaca pump guns are being designated “slug only.” Anyway, that is the theory of it. In practice, it appears actual needs were grossly underestimated!
“My entire division has only one officer on day watch who is rifle qualified. In any event, no rifle rounds or slugs were fired by our guys, not because they should not have been, but because no one in a position to make a rifle shot had a rifle!
On a number of occasions, I have said openly to watch commanders to my captain, that we don’t have nearly enough rifle-qualified officers in our division. We have a total of six, spread out over three shifts. The reply has consistently been that ‘we can do with what we have, and rifle-qualified officers from outside divisions can respond to any situation.’ When the cry went out last night, it become painfully obvious that we needed a whole bunch of rifles there, along with their qualified operators, real fast! My friends who arrived at the scene, only to be immediately pinned down, said it with more vastly more colorful language!”
27 Nov 00
The Battle for New Orleans, January 1815
Spontaneous, popular revolutions have always made European aristocrats nervous. The nearly simultaneous French and American Revolutions in the 18th Century are good examples, much as would be the Bolshevik Revolution in the 20th Century. British philosopher, John Locke, had coined the term, “life, liberty, and property.” Thomas Jefferson, wanted to quote him, but fearing the reference to “property” would be interpreted as legitimizing European-style, genetic aristocracy, changed the phrase to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” In French, it translated to “fraternity, liberty, equality.” French revolutionaries were inspired by the American Revolution, and the two clashes took place in rapid succession.
At the dawn of the 19th Century, after their humiliating defeat at Fallen Timers at the hands of General Anthony Wayne, the British immediately had their hands full with their new war with France, but the French people, taking their example from the Americans, overthrew their king and his aristocracy in 1789. Worried about the trend spreading, the British then made war on the French again, in an effort to restore the king!
No such luck, but the French revolution did get out of hand, and suddenly American and French ships were trading shots on the high seas. In fact, for two years (1799-1801), the Americans and British were, in effect, allies against the French. Then, in an event that would be repeated in Nazi Germany a century and a half later, Napoleon Bonaparte unexpectedly usurped power in France as the French Revolution burnt itself out. Among Napoleon’s first official acts was the sale of the ill-defined “Louisiana Territory” to the Untied States. Included was the key port city of New Orleans.
Fighting quickly broke out anew between Napoleon and the British in 1803. Sea battles in particular became ruthless, with the British foolishly refusing to acknowledge American citizenship as they forcibly “recruited” sailors. Mostly as a matter of national pride, the Americans declared war on the British and simultaneously plotted an invasion of Canada.
The American invasion of Canada backfired. With two months British and Canadian troops ejected the American expeditionary force and invaded American territory, seizing both Detroit and Ft Dearborn (Chicago). As it turned out, Canadians didn’t want to be “liberated.” Napoleon surrendered to the British in 1814, but the Americans still refused to call off the war! Angered, seaborne British troops brushed aside American defenders, entered Washington DC, and burned many government buildings (including the White House) before leaving. President Madison steadfastly refused to negotiate, and, after an astounding mauling at the hands of American soldiers in Baltimore, British troops got back on their ships and withdrew.
Smarting, the British then eyed the isolated City of New Orleans. It had only been in American hands for a few years, and, if they seized it, Madison would be forced to negotiate. For this job, Arthur Wellesley, the famous Duke of Wellington, selected his brother in law, Edward Pakenham.
Pakenham knew this battle would not only bring the impudent Americans in line, but, because of its temporal proximity with his brother in law’s defeat of Napoleon, it historical importance would be vastly disproportionate to its actual military significance. He and his stunning triumph would be remembered for generations. He was only thirty-six years old, and the pressure to produce an unambiguous victory was crushing!
His opponent was hawk-jawed Andrew Jackson. Jackson was a frontier politician from Tennessee, not a general. His military experience was confined to fighting Indians. His troops were as green as he was. Wellington’s favorite tactic had been to tempt, even goad, the enemy into attacking, then mow down their attack formations with musket fire delivered in volleys by well-disciplined cords of infantry. Pakenham was confident that Jackson would likewise be easily deceived, outmaneuvered, and defeated. The thought that the same tactic could be used against him never crossed Pakenham’s mind!
Unhappily, southern Louisiana in winter was not anything like a typical European battlefield. The terrain was swampy, and each day was invariably damp, cold, and foggy. Pakenham and his subordinates had great difficulty moving, unloading supplies, and reconnoitering. The offensive quickly bogged down. Weeks passed without decisive engagement. To add to their problems, American cannoneers and riflemen were astoundingly accurate. Every lit campfire and every troop movement immediately attracted deadly accurate American rifle and cannon fire.
When Pakenham began his final move, he was unable to persuade Jackson to attack him. Jackson was sitting tight, behind rows of cotton bales, somewhere out there in the morning fog. After pounding American positions with cannon fire, Pakenham concluded that most of Jackson’s troops had deserted. So, on the early morning of 8 January 1815, after a month of indecisive occupation of American territory, Pakenham decided he had to attack. He would charge Jackson’s lines, stop only long enough deliver a musket volley, then rush forward in a bayonet charge, reaching the line before the Americans could reload.
Into the fog plunged Pakenham’s confident infantry. As they moved forward, tripwire parties of Indians fired flaming arrows into the air, informing Jackson’s men of their range. Then, as British troops were still fully exposed, came withering rifle fire from the cotton bales. British return fire was ineffective as the Americans were well protected. British troops, floundering in the fog, became disoriented as their numbers were decimated. Formations became disheveled. Pakenham himself was shot off his horse and died almost immediately. Most of his officers suffered a similar fate. A few British troops reached American lines, but all were quickly killed. The line held.
British troops soon found themselves trying to retreat but not knowing which direction to go! So, they aimlessly milled about in the fog. Most were ultimately shot. When the fog lifted, a horrible scene greeted both British and Americans alike: over two thousand British troops, all in their red uniforms, lay dead and dying! On the American side, there were only six dead. A truce was called so that the wounded could be treated and the dead carried off. Most of the dead were buried in hasty graves. Officers’ bodies were pickled in barrels for shipment back to, and burial in, England. What few British officers survived quickly came to the conclusion that their only option was to evacuate the area and disembark on ships, which they did without delay.
As it turned out, the Battle of New Orleans, albeit a great moral victory for Americans, had been pointless, as the War had actually ended weeks before on Christmas Eve. Afterward, the British never renounced their right to board American ships and continued to aid Indians who were fighting in the face of American expansion. Added to the failed attempt to annex Canada, most Americans concluded that the War itself had been senseless.
Jackson ended up in Spanish Florida, again fighting Indians. In 1818 he executed (one hanged, one shot) two Englishmen who were advising local Seminoles. As it turns out, these two, unnamed British nationals were the last two casualties of the protracted, Anglo-American series of conflicts which had begun forth-three years earlier at Lexington Common. Jackson was subsequently elected president. British and Americans would never fight each other again.
Lesson: Allowing oneself to be pressured into rash actions is usually a formula for failure. Single-minded people who are unrealistically expectant of continuous, positive outcomes are always candidates for calamity. Pakenham was overwhelmed by romantic prospects and inflexibility in his thinking. The current presidential conflict provides another perfect example. Well rounded people who live a full life and are thus intimately acquainted with both victory and failure make superior commanders.
30 Nov 00
The loudest gun?
I had a conversation today with a colleague who is a well known homicide investigator. He talked about interviews he has had with homicide witnesses:
“In the minds of typical bystanders, the weak “pop” of mouse guns is not particularly frightening. In fact, it engenders perilous curiosity in the minds of many. I’ve talked with numerous witnesses who indicated that they were actually drawn to the sound of what turned out to be gunfire, but what they thought was firecrackers.
Interestingly, when high-powered handguns, shotguns, or rifles are involved, bystanders typically run away and/or dive for cover! In a number of cases I’ve investigated, the first few rounds fired were from mouse guns, and people started to gather around to see what was happening. When a high-powered pistol started returning fire (41Mg in one case, a 357Mg in another), everyone ran away.”
Lesson: At the turn of the 20th Century, the World’s armies resisted incorporating machine guns and rapid-fire, rotary Gatling Guns into their inventory, complaining that the supply system could never keep them in ammunition. Machine guns eventually sold, not on the basis of their destructive potential, but because they made a lot of noise! For centuries, military commanders have looked at ways to make a lot of noise on the battlefield, knowing that it demoralized the enemy. From Zulu warriors beating on their shields and stomping, in unison, on the ground, to entire brass bands marching into battle playing their instruments for all they were worth, noise has been an important military tool.
On an individual level, there may be something to be said for high-pressure, hyper-velocity pistol bullets, such as is made by Cor-Bon. I would never discount the important of accuracy and sound personal tactics, but a defending blast from one’s pistol may command attention from those who are otherwise difficult to impress!