2 Feb 10

“In banking, when you’re right one-hundred percent of the time, you’ll make money.
Right ninety-nine percent of the time, you’ll break even.
Right ninety-eight percent of the time, you’ll lose money.
Right ninety-seven percent of the time, you’ll go to jail!”

Banker’s Axiom

In our Art, as in banking, boldness and caution are maintained in delicate balance. Our enemies are always mis-focus and mis-direction.

After viewing glittering new equipment at this year’s SHOT Show, and patiently listening, and re-listening, to all the new, and re-hashed, theories of lethal confrontation, I am, once again, invariably drawn to the conclusion that, while our Art must, and will, advance, key principles continue to stand at our foundation, keeping us from going astray.

Fancy, slick gun-trickery, designed to impress rather than inspire, is, I suppose, unavoidable at trade-shows. But, such grandstanders remind me of shallow, flamboyant snake-oil salesmen. While always garnering a gullible audience, their slight-of-hand and chicanery, masquerading as “enlightenment,” represent little more than glib amusement.

In war, “victory” and “defeat” and not nearly so clear-cut to players, as to historians. In real-time, war a muddy, bloody business, and those of us who were (and those who currently are) directly involved are just glad to have lived through it (those of us who did, that is)!

Wyatt Earp, in his later years, observed:

“I would shun, as I would poison, flashy trick-shooting… in all my life as a frontier peace officer, I never knew a proficient gunfighter who had anything but contempt for the gun-fanner, or the man who literally shot from the hip.”

Wyatt was one of an extremely small group who, in his day, actually lived long enough to see his “later years!”

Indeed, the ever-omnipotent repertoire of confrontational and fighting skills we have the honor, in our day, to faithfully pass on to the next generation has little glamour, nor spectator-appeal, associated with it. Never will. Who long to be interviewed by sexy TV correspondents are best advised to seek another profession!

Like accomplished poker players, we are “Masters of Incomplete Information.” We are at peace, even within chaos, boldly, incisively streaming in fluid motion. With ascendent confidence, both in our purpose and potency, we dare audaciously!

Ever gracious and unpretentious, in victory and defeat, we do honor to our Art, and our Progenitors.

Like competent bankers, who never forget they are responsible for other people’s money, we never forget the burden our mighty Ancestors have placed upon our shoulders!

“So let the wild circle of argument rage
On what wins, as war comes and goes.
Many new theories briefly hold center-stage
But the man with the rifle… knows!”



3 Feb 10

Decisive action, with a plan, saves the day. This from a friend:

“Early Sunday morning, my wife experienced a severe allergic attack. Her tongue had suddenly swollen to the point where she was having difficulty breathing. She has had similar reactions before, but never this severe.

I grabbed an EpiPen (epinephrin injector) in an attempt to give her an injection. It failed mechanically. The needle never deployed. I discarded it and grabbed a second EpiPen. This copy functioned normally.

The nearest hospital ER is less than a mile away, so we drove there immediately. Upon arriving, I noticed the ER was nearly empty. Yet, the receptionist there told us to sit and wait! I explained to her that my wife’s tongue was swollen, and that she was at risk of suffocating. The obviously bored receptionist couldn’t have cared less! She just rolled her eyes, sighed, and explained that we would have to sit down and wait.

When I asked how long, she, with a simultaneous yawn and sneer, indicated she had no idea and couldn’t provide any more information.

Without another word, we dashed back to the car and departed immediately, driving several miles to a second hospital. That ER was infinitely superior! They immediately recognized the problem and had her with a resident within minutes. She spent the night at the hospital and was discharged the next day, none the worse for ware!”

Comment: Emergencies don’t make appointments, and no one is excluded! When a “can-of-worms” unexpectedly lands in your lap, you’re on center-stage, Bud, ready or not!

Let us reiterate:

(1) Be prepared! We can’t specifically prepare for all conceivable emergencies, but we can make reasonable preparations for the most likely. That is why the prudent among us have guns, blades, fire extinguishers, flashlights, trauma kits, et al!

(2) Have a plan, but don’t fall in love with your plan. Be flexible, as parts of your plan will inevitably fail.

(3) Expect equipment misfunction. Have sufficient redundancy on hand so you can work around equipment issues. No matter how elaborate or well-maintained, all machines have the irritating habit of breaking at inconvenient times!

(4) Don’t relax too soon. Don’t relax at all! Keep your head up, and in the game.

(5) Find a way to win! Keep thinking ahead. Have alternatives always in mind.

Operators can’t be oblivious to dangers inherent to this piteously indifferent planet. Lives (maybe yours!) depend upon your preparedness and ability to act quickly, decisively, and correctly.



4 Feb 10

Hospital ER Arrival:

With regard to the last Quip, nearly all MDs, EMTs, nurses, and medical bureaucrats seem to agree that, when going to the ER, you are far better off arriving in an ambulance than you will be walking in, or arriving in a private car.

When arriving via ambulance, escorted by uniformed EMTs, you will likely be ushered past receptionists and other disinterested gate-keepers, going directly to a treatment room and into the presence of an MD or someone else who has at least some capacity for actually helping you.

Hospital ERs, by law, cannot outright “reject” anyone. So, most ERs have become little more than walk-in clinics, crowded, indeed overcrowded, with “users, boozers, and losers.” Few of these “walk-ins” even remotely qualify as an “emergency,” but they have the effect of clogging the system to the point where real emergencies can’t get through.

Thus, arriving via ambulance offers you the best chance of breaking through the congestion and getting the emergency treatment you need quickly.



5 Feb 10

Excellent response to a common question from students who watch too much television, “Why can’t I just shoot him in the leg?”

… from a colleague:

“Deliberately launching high-velocity missiles, from a firearm, in someone’s direction, necessarily represents a voluntary employment of ‘deadly-force.’ Your sincerely articulated ‘intended outcome,’ for the most part, ceases to be relevant once you press the trigger!

I’m not sure why so many apparently fail to grasp the foregoing, when they simultaneously claim to understand perfectly why they are shooting someone in the first place! When defending yourself with gunfire, it is always because you perceive an imminent, deadly threat to yourself (and/or other innocent parties), and other, lesser options are precluded, ie: unlikely to be efficacious, unavailable, or are not practicable.

Any time you shoot someone, you are employing ‘deadly-force,’ because no one can accurately predict the ultimate damage a bullet (any kind of bullet, striking anywhere on the body) will do. You may attempt a shot to an extremity, and you may even be successful, but your bullet may still perforate an artery, and, as a direct result, the person may bleed to death in short order, even when that outcome was not your ‘intention.’ And, when death does not result immediately, permanent disablement/impairment/disfigurement surely will. No one ever ‘recovers completely’ from a gunshot wound!

Deadly force is deadly force. Know and understand that you cannot shoot anyone in a ‘non-deadly’ manner!

In defensive shooting, our goal is, of course, to end the criminal’s violent behavior as quickly as possible. To that end, we shoot with sufficient precision and volume to accomplish the goal. After that goal is accomplished, additional shooting is unnecessary, and thus unjustified.

The incontrovertible, inescapable maxim is: Shot placement that is most likely to stop violent, criminal behavior quickly is also most likely to beget fatal wounds. For better or worse, the two outcomes are inseparably linked! Accordingly, purposely attempting to inflict ostensibly non-fatal wounds may well actually prolong the fight, exacerbating risk-exposure to you, other innocent parties, even the VCA himself.

In addition, attempting to hit arms or legs of an aggressively animated attacker represents a far greater challenge, even for competent marksman, than does aiming for the chest and trunk. Thus, attempting to ‘shoot him in the leg’ is unlikely to be successful to begin with!

You must, at long last, confront the unavoidable fact that employing gunfire in self-defense, no matter your intent, is likely to result in forceful death, or permanent, crippling injury, to the VCA in question. Who cannot accept, nor deal with, that stark reality should have naught to do with guns!

Trying, in the face of the foregoing, to convince yourself that ‘shooting him in the leg’ is an appropriate force-response to a lethal, personal attack is delusional in the extreme! It is identical to the self-deceptive concept that a nation can print its way to prosperity, or that death, pain, and suffering, in general, can all be legislated out of existence.

Only cretins and children believe that!

‘Shooting with charity’ is thus an absurd contradiction! Who believe it are destined for short and unhappy lives!”

Comment: Years ago, the false concept of deliberately wounding an attacker with gunfire was actually taught in some circles. No one, with any credibility, teaches it today!



7 Feb 10

Changing Requirements:

American police pistol-qualification courses used to include stages of fire with targets as far distant as fifty meters. When I was first sworn-in, back in 1970, I remember it well! Subsequently, most such long-distance stages were gradually withdrawn, and now the majority of qualifications require reasonable accuracy at ranges no greater than ten meters.

However, with new challenges on the horizon, we are now obligated to reverse the trend and go back in the other direction!

Recent terrorist incidents in Beslan and Mumbai have compelled us all to soberly re-consider several important points:

(1) Mumbai/Beslan-style attacks are far easier for terrorists to organize and export than are more grandiose assaults involving nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. But, they still generate relatively high body-counts among the innocent, embarrassingly reveal the impotence of western governments, and yield wide-spread publicity, along with paralyzing fear.

(2) More such well-organized attacks, involving squad-sized (or even larger) amalgamations of rifle-armed terrorists, on schools, shopping areas, hotels, and other densely-populated locations in the USA and other Western Countries, after their demonstrated success at Mumbai and Beslan, are probably inevitable! We’ve seen them on a small scale already.

(3) First-responders, legally-armed citizens and uniformed patrol officers, are likely to be armed only with pistols, at least in the short-term.

So, the question is: How much capability is it reasonable to expect from pistol-armed officers? Can my pistol-armed, patrol officers be depended upon to neutralize rifle-armed terrorists at ranges between twenty and fifty meters?

My colleague and professional shooter, Ron Avery, points out the any pistol with a sight-radius significantly less than four inches (10.2cm), in the hands of all but extremely talented shooters, will be limited in effectiveness to twenty meters. Conversely, nearly everyone can be trained to hit human-sized targets at fifty meters, when they are supplied with a pistol with a sight-radius of four inches or more.

Admittedly, in order to make these difficult shots with our pistols, we will have to persuade the target to hold still for several seconds, but it can still be done, and our officers, and non-police students, need to know it can be done, and be confident that they can do it!

“Oh, how I wish I had a rifle,” will be a plaintive and hollow cry when the attack begins! We are all going to have to respond without delay, and it will be on a “come-as-you-are” basis. We know we’ll all have pistols! We are a good deal less sure of what other weapons we will have immediately at hand. Our pistols may indeed be the only weapons we get to use, and we must have supreme confidence in them, and ourselves!

With the currently-exploding market in “concealed-carry” pistols, manufacturers are focused on producing small guns. Many such pistols, though otherwise perfectly functional, have short slides and, thus, short sight-radiuses. While suitable as back-up pistols, these short guns, with their limited range, need to be re-evaluated with the foregoing in mind.

As a main, carry pistol, a four-inch (or longer) sight radius is now a critical feature, if we are going to have the range capability that is likely to be acutely necessary for first-responders. Our sincere affection for small pistols must thus be tempered with the necessity of honestly confronting these new challenges.

As an ancillary comment, every police beat-car needs to be equipped, as soon as possible, with a high-capacity military rifle (and a bandoleer of spare magazines) in the cab-portion of the vehicle, so that it is instantly available to patrol officers. Rifles locked in precinct stations, or even in trunks of patrol vehicles, have scant chance of ever being involved in a gunfight.

Look what happened to FBI Special Agents in FL in 1986 and to the LAPD in North Hollywood in 1997. In both cases, heavy weapons, locked securely in trunks of vehicles, remained there, safe and sound, for the duration!



8 Feb 10

Follow-up comments on genuine shooting skill, from friends at the NTI:

“During the first decade of the NTI, we rarely saw participants with marginal shooting skills. We all, including you and me, considered ourselves Professional Gunmen, and, as a point of honor, we would shun excessive dramatics, and all else that distracted us from the honest and humble pursuit of the Art.

That all began to change during the second decade, and ‘excessive dramatics’ (mostly engendered by too much television-watching) is presently epidemic!

We now regularly see aspiring participants engaging surprise targets, at a range three meters, with at least half dozen rounds from their high-capacity pistols, of what can only be described as ‘panic-fire.’ Bullets that actually strike the Critical Zone (cardiac area) rarely account for more than ten-percent of rounds expended. Many embarrassingly notice the target still calmly standing after such ‘engagements,’ having failed to hit the critical zone even once. Only a few competent marksmen are able to consistently hit similar targets at a range of fifty meters, even fifteen meters!

At the dawn of your and my LE careers, we learned to routinely make accurate hits at fifty meters, using double-action revolvers in trigger-cocking mode. It can be done! Today, all of us dare not forget founding principles of disciplined, controlled, accurate fire. It is fundamental!

Sights on handguns, indeed all guns, are, in fact, effective, and it really does matter where your bullets land, and it really is important that you learn to hit your intended target consistently, at all reasonable ranges. More to the point, when you don’t hit what you wanted to hit, you will, by definition, hit something you didn’t want to hit!

Continue to be bold, my friend and colleague, in your assertion of that these critical skills are primary to our Craft.”

Comment: When training as an Infantry Officer in the 1960s, I was told that new and wonderful technology had reduced the roll of Infantry to little more than mop-up duties. “All you’ll ever have to do is step over bodies,” I was told, more than once!

Young Infantrymen at the beginning of WWII, and even WWI, were told the same comfortable lie. And, all of us subsequently discovered, the hard way, that it is indeed a lie! For now, and the foreseeable future, heroic Infantryman will be required to shoot and kill the enemy, employing precise fire from their rifles and pistols, at ALL ranges at which he can be effectively engaged.

Today, critical, practical marksmanship skills, with rifles and pistols, are suddenly being “remembered.”

We never “forgot!”

Teaching “fundamental marksmanship,” I am told, is “coming back”

We never “left!”

And, as long as I am able, never will!



9 Feb 10

These comments from the owner/operator of an indoor range:

“An acquaintance came to our Range yesterday evening. He wanted to ask me some questions about his carry-pistol and then take it to the range and run several dozen rounds through it. He explained that he had been carrying it concealed, ‘… off and on,’ for several months, ever since a gruesome homicide made our local news early last fall. I’ve encouraged him to get involved in some professional training, but he has put it off.

Once in a stall, he faced down-range, drew his pistol (SA XD/M, 9mm), and then pulled back and released the slide, chambering a round. I stopped him and asked if he had been carrying this pistol, in this condition, on his way to the Range.

He said, ‘… Of course!’

I responded, ‘… and you didn’t have a round chambered?’

‘Well, I don’t carry with a round in the chamber, because I want to be… safe’ … ad nauseam

I then went through the usual lecture, the one about ‘Who promised you your support-side hand will be available to you at the start of your next gunfight?’

Like so many, he readily acknowledged the unassailable logic of my argument, but he was ‘… still not sure’

I then advised him to remove his holster. I took the pistol from him, unloaded it, replaced it in the box it came in, and strongly advised him to leave it there until he ‘finds the time’ to attend professional instruction!

I can only wonder how many other frightened, confused, wilfully-ignorant people there are, running around like this person, concerned about their personal safety, yet unwilling to do much more than take timid, abortive half-steps.”

Comment: I’m sure their number is legion, and growing with every edition of the Evening News!

What follows is opinion:

You’re either in the Navy, or you’re not!

When a person indicates that he chooses to not carry a gun, because he is sick, or he just enjoyed a cocktail, or he is on medication, or he has made the personal choice not to go armed, for reasons that apparently suffice for him, you’ll hear not a peep of argument from my corner. Far be it from me to dispense unsolicited advice!

However, when an otherwise normal, rational, and able-bodied person knowingly holsters a modern, autoloading pistol whose chamber is empty, and then expects to share a car, or dinner-table, with me, he will have to find someone else with whom to socialize. I want nothing to do with him!

I consider that person unstable and worse than useless. He is intentionally living in fantasy-land, and being in his presence is therefore contrary to my best interests. This world has never been sympathetic with the delusional, nor with those who hang-out with them!

I can’t count on his skills, nor obviously, his judgment.



14 Feb 10

Are we finally turning the page?

Recently, I’ve been forwarded a number of scholarly articles from prestigious military journals, strongly critical of the current 5.56mm cartridge for which our military rifles are chambered. Of course, they are all gratuitously wordy, take forever to finally get to the point, and are filled with interminable (but colorful) charts and graphs. Anything less, and I’m sure they would never have been allowed to rear their heads!

The interesting point is that they all, at long last, unite in concluding the 5.56X45 cartridge, in every configuration attempted, unequivocally lacks adequate (1) range, and (2) penetration for the requirements of a main-battle, infantry rifle, beyond doubt. Of course, this has all been common knowledge for forty years!

But, until now, this well-known fact has been mentioned only in nervous, paranoid whispers, at least among those concerned with their next promotion. No frank nor open discussion has even been permitted (except among those of us outside the System), despite innumerable, indisputably accurate reports from the field of the cartridge’s endemic inadequacy.

This is, of course, ever the way big institutions operate, and always will. Yet, it is encouraging to see this forty-year-old procurement mistake finally out in the open. Most of the people, including former Secretary of Defense Robert MacNamara, who foisted this fraud upon our Military are now long-since dead, so we are now down to the last few self-righteous egos that need defending.

The 6.8mm may yet see the light of day, in our lifetimes!



17 Feb 10

This expression of concern from a college professor and student:

“I know you’ve done a Quip or two in the past about the role metropolitan and campus police play in citizen/student protection, but I wish you’d cover the topic again, particularly in light of the current contestation regarding concealed carry at my campus, CSU (Colorado State University).”

Very well. Here is the deal:

Police are charged with a “general duty” to investigate suspicions circumstances and identify, apprehend, and charge criminals, once a crime has been committed. We also have a “general duty” to answer calls in a timely manner and patrol the community in a good-faith effort to deter crime. Of course, all this must be done within the constraints of our resources.

In some cases, courts are empowered to issue “restraining orders,” but, as we know, the “restraint” is not physical. The court-order is merely a piece of paper. Who compulsively commit violent crimes are seldom deterred.

So, “citizen protection” is, and must remain, a general term. Police do the best they can, but we are never tasked with a specific duty to provide absolute protection to any particular individual at any particular time nor place, nor are we required to respond to calls within a specific amount of time.

And, we get paid the same, regardless of outcome!

Logical conclusion: You’re on your own!

The only way to garner the “undivided attention” of police is to get arrested!

Colorado citizens, including students attending universities (assuming they are twenty-one or older), can own and even carry (with appropriate permits) guns for their own, personal protection. Guns, ammunition, and accessories are generally available via any number of commercial, retail sources. Competent training is also available through a number of accomplished instructors.

Keep in mind that guns, like alcoholic beverages, are highly regulated, and thus technical violations of confusing and poorly-written ordinances, arbitrary “rules,” as well as randomly-enforced political agendas, will always make it impossible for anyone to know is he is “law-abiding” or not!

My suggestion is that every citizen/student look squarely at his personal security situation, and then make appropriate decisions. However, such decisions should be made based on facts and reality, not some self-deceptive, mythical notion of “police protection.”

Violent death is one thing we don’t get to “do over!”



17 Feb 10

Book Recommendation:

You seldom get credit for doing what’s right, and righteousness is rarely fun, nor glamorous, nor easy, but it burns in your heart that it is the only right way to do something. It shines in your eyes and puts steel in your backbone, in the face of the gravest of circumstances.

When you are one who is set up that way, or know someone who needs an example, Mortal Shield, a novel by my friend and colleague, Thomas A Taylor, published by Southeast Missouri State University, is the book to read.

It is inspiring!



18 Feb 10

The “VSCV” Factor, from a friend and colleague:

“There is a critical difference between being injured as a result of an accident, as opposed to an act of criminal violence.

When I fall off a ladder and break my leg, although in pain, I’m laughing at my clumsiness the next day. Conversely, when I suffer the same injury as the result of some two-bit thug who first pistol-whipped me, and then shot me before departing with my wallet, I will forever curse myself for allowing a scumbag to terrorize me and my family.

The critical difference is the ‘Voluntary Submission to Criminal Violence’ factor.

That is the part that scars victims for life, the realization that they, for whatever reason, willfully allowed themselves to be vulnerable, and that someone would be evil enough to perpetrate such a malignant act.

Victims of violent crime experience genuine terror, and it never ends! They don’t laugh at themselves the next day, nor any day! They forever blame themselves for being weak, naive, self-righteously stupid, and intentionally unprepared. No amount of rationalization eases the pain! They vainly long for the opportunity to ‘do it over,’ but it is forever denied them!

And, past-tense ‘justice,’ at long-last meted-out by the criminal-justice system, is ever of scant consolation!

The exception is the select few of us who regularly go armed and are trained and prepared to use deadly force when necessary. When confronting violent criminals, we may be inconvenienced, even hurt physically, but we are not psychologically ruined.

The next day, we are apprehensive and anxious, but we have a deeply-satisfying sense of personal pride for being able and willing to boldly, and successfully, stand up to depraved felons.

We are more apt to feel like wounded warriors, than raped sheep.”

Comment: I don’t think that represents much of a choice!

They’re not getting me without a fight!



19 Feb 10

1911s in LA!

LAPD’s new Chief, Charlie Beck, has just approved the 1911 pistol for duty-carry by LAPD Officers!

Approved brands are Colt, Kimber, and Springfield Armory.

No word on ammunition yet, nor is there any word on which specific models are on the Approved List.

The Academy has already put together an Orientation Course and is running the first groups of officers through.

No guesses yet with regard to the exact percentage of officers who will exercise this new option, although I suspect it will be a minority, at least in the short-term.

This represents a bold move for any big-city PD!



22 Feb 10

Scenario-Based Training:

We just completed another weekend, Scenario-Based Training Program (Airsoft) at the wonderful Safe-Direction facility in Addison, IL.

There is little point in beginning students attending these, but well-trained Operators benefit immensely from exercising their skills and judgement during a series of complex and demanding challenges, involving their entire repertoire of skills. My experienced cadre of actors are trained to draw-out specific responses, appropriate and inappropriate, from students.

Attendees were all well-trained Gunmen, police and non-police, all of whom carry regularly. Students succeeded brilliantly, and blundered clumsily, learning and relearning with every episode.

My observations:

A group of college students were engaged in a river-rafting adventure last summer in CA. One of them suggested the entire group visit a nearby, notorious “nude beach.” Naively expecting to see a herd of glamorous movie-star look-alikes parading around in the buff, their foolish hopes were dashed when what greeted them instead was a pathetic gaggle of unattractive, fifty-ish, overweight, harry-crotched, males wandering about aimlessly, hoping to be noticed. Sadly, they were!

Next day, when they recounted their distasteful experience to an older and wiser member of the group (who had not been with them), he replied,

“Well, you dumb saps, what did you really expect to find there?”

It is called the “Unrealistic-Expectations” Syndrome, and it is just one of several we cataloged last weekend.

Here are the others:

The “I-Feel…” Syndrom: How often we hear, “I just had a feeling… I can’t believe I was so wrong!” The advice we give to all is, “Gauge your protective posture based on suspect capabilities, not suspect intent.” Guessing at someone’s intent is always dangerous. Betting your life on your guess is often fatal!

The “Feet-in-Cement” Syndrom: No one is immune from this, and it must be addressed constantly. When we confront anything unexpected, our tendency is to stop where we are, plant our feet in cement, and then gawk interminably at whatever is currently confusing us. We have to train constantly to keep ourselves in motion and keep our head up. Whatever you’re doing, do it while moving!

The “180-Degree” Syndrome: No one is watching your back! You have to be your own partner, your own back-up. There are 360 degrees to a circle, not just 180! You need to think of yourself as being in the center of a sphere. There is more to it than just the Equator!

The “Stand-in-the-Open” Syndrome: “Cover” is an attitude! Constantly presenting your attacker with a nearly impossible target is the key to a long and happy life! Who have been involved in active military situations rarely break cover. The less experienced naively walk into the open in order to “get a better view,” “let him see my gun,” “so that I can address him more clearly,” and a host of other dubious reasons. For one, I have scant interest in a “fair” fight!

The “Get-Closer-When-They-Don’t-Appear-to-Understand-Me” Syndrome: It is common, when a suspect does not appear to understand our attempts to communicate with him verbally, for us to take a step forward, and then repeat the command. With each non-response, we robotically take a step closer. We should be moving in the other direction!

The “Stay-on-the-Trigger-too-Long” Syndrome: Many otherwise competent students, when they make the decision to shoot, get on the trigger and stop shooting only when they notice they are in slide-lock. This practice routinely generates numerous entry wounds in the back of the suspect! When a violent criminal, menacing though he may have been seconds earlier, clearly no longer represents a threat, the law requires us to stop shooting. Most suspects, when shot via pistols, don’t drop instantly to the ground. In the vast majority of cases, they run away! Continuing to shoot at them, as they run, is likely going to generate a real criminal-justice-system problem for the shooter!

The “I’m-Confused,-so-Let’s-All-Take-a-Break” Syndrome: “Taking a break” only works when we all agree on it. Just because you’re ready for a break doesn’t mean the fight, and all involved, will go along with you! In fights, there are no scheduled “breaks!” Whatever happens, you going to have to fight through it. No worthy opponent will ever give you a chance to catch your breath!

The “What-Am-I-Really-Seeing?” Syndrome: What you’re seeing is a historical snapshot! In most cases, you don’t get to know what lead up to it. In most cases, you don’t know much more than you do know. So many times, what we think we’re seeing is nothing like what it really happening. Don’t jump to conclusions!

The “My-Good-Faith-Efforts-Will-be-Recognized-as-Such” Syndrome: Dream on! Whatever you choose to do, or choose not to do, it won’t be perfect. There was probably a better way. You just didn’t think of it in time. When you choose to become involved in a situation, the law requires you to do so in a “non-negligent” manner, whatever that means!

The “Once-Down,-Down for Good” Syndrome: Dream on some more! When shot, some suspects do fall to the ground. Seconds later, they are often back on their feet and dangerous as ever. When a suspect goes down, it does not automatically mean that you can safely ignore him from that point forward! Remember what every big-game hunter knows, a healthy animal, who can run for its life, is far less dangerous than a wounded one, who cannot!

The “Everyone-Will-be-Impressed-with-My-Gun” Syndrome: Brandishing a pistol often impresses people and causes them to mollify their threatening behavior (at least rational people). Conversely, criminal suspects, particularly when suffering from chemically-induced mental illness, are routinely unimpressed. Definitive verbal challenges often assist them in reevaluating their position!

We are scheduling another such Program in Addison, IL this Spring. Many, it seems, believe they will benefit from this kind of intense challenge!



24 Feb 10

Close call!

This experience from a friend and well-known trainer:

“Last week, I conducted a low-light Pistol Program with a local PD SWAT Team.

The Lieutenant in charge of the Patrol Division asked me to teach the section on flashlight-technique to his cadre of Patrol Sergeants. They all showed up during the SWAT Team’s lunch break.

One sergeant, when he attempted his first shot (G22), was rewarded with a ‘click,’ instead of a ‘bang!’ When he ejected the recalcitrant round and chambered a fresh one, he got the same result.

When I subsequently broke-down his pistol, I discovered a fractured firing-pin/striker. Rare, but certainly not unheard-of. The really scary part is that it was subsequently revealed that it had been three months since his last Qualification. That was the last time this particular pistol is known to have functioned normally.

The sergeant in question indicated that his pistol had not been fired, nor received any maintenance, since. Sometime in there, the striker broke. Thank God he never had to fire it in anger during those three months!”

Comment: I have seen this more than once, with all brands of pistols. The way to insure you can always defend yourself with gunfire:

(1) You must shoot regularly, at least once a month, (2) habitually field-strip, clean, examine, and lubricate your pistol(s), and (3) regularly carry a back-up pistol.

In this day and age, the foregoing is the kind of mistake we can’t afford to make!



25 Feb 10

Follow-up on maintenance of carry pistols:

From a friend with a Metro-PD in MI:

“Our lieutenant bought a Colt Cobra (snubby, six-shot revolver) shortly after joining the Force. I’m not sure where he got it, but he carried it as a back-up for the last twenty-five years of his police career. He continued to carry it, now as his only gun, during his retirement years.

In all the years he owned it, it was never checked-over by an armorer, nor was any maintenance ever performed on it, nor did the lieutenant, nor anyone else, ever fire it.

Years later, while in his seventies, he was walking in the woods near his retirement cottage. On a whim, he decided to finally fire his little revolver (for the first time) at a discarded pop can.

It did not fire, not the first time he pulled the trigger, nor the sixth!

A local gunsmith examined it the next day and discovered that the lieutenant’s revolver did not have a firing pin, and apparently had never had one! A subsequent investigation revealed that the gun had been used as a “trainer” and had thus been rendered sterile, decades earlier. Obviously, up until that moment, no one had ever noticed!

This officer had been carrying a non-functional pistol for over thirty years, and never knew it, nor, I’m sure, even suspected it!”

Comment: He was lucky to have gotten away with it! Who are that nonchalant in our time, probably won’t!

Jim Garthwaite, eminent pistolsmith and my good friend, suggests the “Pencil-Check” on all pistols after any kind of maintenance has been performed, and routinely even when maintenance has not been performed.

The pencil-check will confirm that the firing-pin is functioning as designed and will therefore reliably dent primers with enough force to dependably generate normal ignition.

Unload the pistol first. Then, point it upward (assuming that is a safe direction). Drop down the bore a pencil, eraser first, so that the eraser comes to rest over the firing-pin hole on the bolt-face.

Press the trigger. When the firing-pin hits the eraser, the pencil will jump out of the barrel at least far enough to clear the muzzle. That is prima-facie evidence that the firing pin is in-tact and functioning normally.

When the pencil doesn’t move, or only jumps an inch or two, the firing-pin is broken, defective in some other way, or the firing-pin channel is so clogged with grime that the firing-pin cannot move as designed. In any event, the pistol is out of action and should not be carried.

A competent armorer needs to check-over all your serious guns at least once a year. As owners/carriers, our duty is to shoot our guns regularly, and perform user-level maintenance (including the pencil-test) diligently.

Take care of your guns, and they will take care of you!



26 Feb 10

Range Incident, from a Trainer in SA:

“We were at the range earlier today, doing cover drills. I was using my personal set of steel plates as targets, as these are wonderful in terms of instant feedback to the student. Nothing sounds quite like a bullet striking hard metal!

Like all competent steel targets, my particular set is made of hard armor-plate, and I have been using them for a number of years now, without incident

… until today!

Our Range has a 15m ‘stop wall’ in back, which is actually a natural sand-dune that we have incorporated into the range complex. As always, I was directing affairs from behind a line of shooters.

Suddenly, it felt as if an invisible attacker had taken a swing at my face, but hit the visor of my baseball cap instead, causing it to droop forward over my eyes and knocking my safety-glasses askew. Simultaneously, I felt something drop onto my right boot.

When I recovered, concluded that I was unhurt, and replaced my cap and glasses, I looked down to find a single, in-tact bullet lying on the ground between my feet. Upon inspection, it appears that the bullet hit one of my steel plates right on the edge, scraping off a roll of brass jacketing in the process. The rest of the bullet continued downrange, ultimately hitting the sand. However, it found just the right angle off the sand stop to be deflected straight up, to eventually drop down onto my head!

It left quite a dent in the brim of my cap, and a nasty scar on the lens of my safety-glasses!

Of course, it is always difficult to describe what didn’t happen, but I am persuaded that, had I not been wearing my cap and glasses, as prescribed, I would likely have suffered a sizeable cut and bruise to my forehead, along with significant injury to my eye.

In any event, I was none-the-worse for ware, and we continued training as if nothing had happened. But, I did take a moment to re-remind everyone to keep their safety equipment on, all the time they are on the range!”

Comment: All legitimate trainers require baseball caps, glasses (with side-protection), and hearing protection of everyone, participants and non-participants alike, on the Range. For one, I also encourage long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and substantial shoes/boots. For any number of reasons, skin needs substantive protection, and exposed skin needs to be minimized. I don’t, for example, allow sweat-pants, shower-shoes, Lycra, nor Spandex. Blase beach-wear is not appropriate for the pistol-range!

Unfortunately, our Industry is often our own worst enemy with regard to this issue, as many in it are still fond of producing ads and magazine articles showing glamorous, spandex-clad models shooting away, while not wearing glasses, nor baseball caps. Editors and publishers of all gun magazines need to immediately impose a hard-rule that no photo, demonstrating such blatantly unsafe practices, will ever be accepted for publication, except when specifically used to illustrate a bad example!

I, even today, go to military ranges, even some police ranges, where people are blithely, naively shooting away, often at steel targets as described above, without glasses. I’ve even been on ranges where participants are required to wear body-armor, but not safety-glasses. How stupid can we get?

This is absolutely insane, and should never be allowed!

Nearly all range/training injuries are preventable, with competent procedure and good safety equipment, both required of everyone!

We have enough enemies already!



28 Feb 10

“I’ve known many who fearlessly yearn for a fight, when the enemy is far away. Few continue to so yearn, when the enemy is close!”

US Grant

In my friend and colleague, Phil Messina’s, new and wonderful book, Warrior 101, Phil affirms,

“Fear is the friend to those who embrace it,
the enemy of those who try to conquer it, and
the tormentor of those who try to avoid it”

Once again, Phil helps us all to articulate, to ourselves and to others, core values we are trying so hard to preserve, advance, and teach to the next generation.

His new book is filled with such wise and wonderful guidance.




28 Feb 10

Sobering comments on the worsening Israel/Iran situation, from an analyst and trainer:

“Eitan Haber, editorializing in the Israeli newspaper, Yediot Ahronot, naively argues that there is no need for anyone to be alarmed about Iran’s rabid nuclear ambition. Says he, ‘A large part of the world, certainly the USA, Russia, and Europe lived for nearly forty years under the shadow of the atomic bomb, what scientists, and the media, loved to call ‘The Balance of Terror.”


You can’t have a ‘Balance of Terror,’when only one side is terrified!

‘Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD)’ worked as well as it did, because everyone invited to the party were well and truly motivated with regard to their own, personal welfare. Even the Soviets, albeit notorious for duplicity and deceit, were at least rational!

The current situation in the Mideast is fundamentally different.

Iran’s leaders are all unbalanced, depraved, religious fanatics. They’ve made it abundantly clear that their loyalty is solely to Allah, not to Iran, not to Iran’s people, and certainly not to any kind of ‘future.’ When Iran is bankrupted, starved, or even converted to a wakeless sheet of glass, that is Allah’s will, and thus no concern of theirs. They devote themselves exclusively to executing Allah’s will, regardless of outcome. They are not ‘rational,’ in any conventional sense of the word!

How does one ‘negotiate’ with such people?

For years, they’ve pretended to negotiate, all the while laughing at our naive stupidity under their collective breath, because the Koran explicitly condones lying to, and violating accords with, us infidels. So, there is no reason to believe they will comply with the requirements of any ‘agreement’ for one instant longer than it is convenient for them to do so. Sign all the ‘agreements’ you want. Only one side gives a damn!

… and, we’re back where we started, once more!

Most Israelis understand the foregoing only too well, even though, as in this country, only naive leftists seem to be able to find microphones! And, Israelis know and understand that, unlike in the past, the current US Administration has no love for, nor loyalty to, them, nor do they have any friends in Western Europe.

Israel will act unilaterally. They have no choice!”

Comment: Hang on to your hat!