7 Jun 1999, (Mon) 6:14pm
This year’s NTI was great, and, once more, I had a chance to see good friends and participate in a number of excellent tactical drills. Much learning, rethinking, and refining took place (on my part)! Skip, Bob, Jim, and the entire crew, as always, worked tirelessly to create a seamless series of tactical challenges, both live fire and w/Simunitions.
Greg Hamilton presented an excellent and captivating lecture on confrontational dynamics. I took a great number of notes. John Holschein’s close-range confrontations lecture and demonstration was also very well received, as was Skip Gochenour’s lecture on mental conditioning and an entire redefinition of “self defense.” It caused me to rethink the entire issue and the way we present it! He has replaced the old “Ability, Opportunity, Jeopardy, Preclusion” curriculum with “Avoid, Disengage, Escape, Evade.” It makes a lot of sense, because those four elements are always what the criminal justice system looks for if you are claiming that your actions constituted legitimate self defense.
The Event was smaller this year than in past years. It was good for me, because I was able to run most of the exercises twice, but I would like to see a bigger event. There are many gunmen and instructors who need to attend.
A team event was added this year in the ASTA Village (Simumitions drill). I had a chance to go through an additional two exercises, with a partner. I hope this continues, as two people acting as a team presents a number of new challenges.
Here are the lessons that I both learned and reconfirmed in the live-fire portion of the Program:
> TOO MUCH SHOOTING FROM ONE SPOT. I tend to shoot at a target until it goes away or goes down. After several shots, you must discipline yourself to move off the line of force and then resume shooting if necessary, even it the target appears unaffected. A new “line of force” will redevelop very quickly if you stay in one spot too long.
>HITS TOO LOW. I tend to put my front sight on the middle of the body (standing person), about sternum level, and then start shooting. Subsequent shots usually rise into the chest area. I find that if I start in the upper chest, my subsequent shots often drift too high. It is a good strategy and one I recommend, but many of my shots were low of the “upper chest triangle” which is the scored area.
>MISSED DOORWAYS, WINDOWS, AND MIRRORS. When a tactical problem starts, I tend to be very aggressive and single purposed. I get to the bottom line very quickly. That, it seems, is my lot in life! However, when doors and windows are the same color as the walls in which they reside, I tend to not see them at all! After the problem is over, they’re obvious as hell, of course. I need to discipline myself to pause at intervals and really look a the problem and detect what I may have missed the first time I looked. Mirrors, particularly those positioned high on a wall or on the ceiling, also escaped my notice.
>WHEN SHOOTING A STOCKLESS LONGARM, I TEND TO SHOOT LEFT. I don’t recommend stockless shotguns, as I consider them pretty worthless in most circumstances. When forced to use one (a break-open twenty-gauge, with the stock cut off), I fired from face level, but all my hits were in the left chest of the targets. I noticed shooting to the left was a common event with many of the participants.
Once again, the unfamiliar weapon confused and befuddled a great many participants. To make matters, in their confused and befuddled state, they tended to abandon cover and lose their objectivity.
>EXPOSED LEFT LEG AND FOOT WHEN SHOOTING FROM THE LEFT SIDE OF COVER. When rolling out to the left side of cover, I tend to expose my left leg without being away of it. Such exposure is not necessary if you do it right.
>NOISE DISCIPLINE. I, and many other participants, tended to shuffle feet and drag shoulders on walls. In the tactical exercise, you are breathing so hard that you scarcely notice, but the observers notice! Once again, doing it right is just as easy as doing it wrong. You just have to be aware.
>PISTOL EXTENDED AWAY FROM THE BODY IN ONLY ONE HAND. Extending the gun in only one hand is something we warn all our students against, but it is very easy to do when your weak-side hand is occupied in another critical duty, like holding an injured child. Several times, I found by pistol out and away from my body (Applegate style) as I was carrying the injured child. A superior tactic is to keep it in and close to the body, but we must all practice doing it the correct way.
>SINGING LIKE A CANARY WHEN TALKING WITH THE POLICE IN THE WAKE OF A SHOOTING. In the Village, I witnessed participant after participant talking up a storm after a shooting in which they were involved. The police could hardly get a word in edgewise! We all know that we need to politely decline to make statements or answer questions as we ask for our lawyer. But, we are all so anxious to talk, we forget our training. More practice!
There were many other lessons, but the foregoing were the ones which stuck in my mind and on which I am resolved to work.
Thanks again to Skip and the Crew for a great NTI. I’m looking forward to next year.