1 June 00
Confirmation from another friend in the Philippines, this one serving with an American bureau advising local police:
“They do prefer twenty-round magazines for the reasons mentioned. Most of the M16s here were manufactured over twenty-five years ago, so there can be considerable play in the magazine well after seating/reseating magazines so many times.
Victory is impossible without fire discipline. Americans during the Korean War decisively demonstrated that surgically accurate, disciplined, semi-auto fire is more than adequate to stop charging hordes of attackers, especially with an ass-kicking rifle like the M1 Garand! Whoever came up with the “mad minute” concept in the Vietnam War was certainly a friend of Olin and other ammunition contractors, but no friend of the rest of us. The Vietnamese Ranger battalion that I served with in 1967-1968 never practiced it.
For Scout/Rangers here, ammunition resupply is not nearly as reliable or consistent as was the case in Vietnam. Ammo conservation is thus mandatory, particularly during extended operations. On the other side, local Muslim insurgents get most of their ammo from the black market, run by local military personnel!”
2 June 00
From Tucson, AZ:
“Front page story, today’s newspaper. Sunday night about 9:30 in Tucson a 31-year-old jogger was attacked by two males attempting to rob him. One of the attackers pulled a knife. Jogger produced a 9mm pistol and drills him with a single shot, through-and-through the left chest. Robbery suspect goes down. Second suspect surrenders without further incident. Jogger holds both at gunpoint until police show up.
Police interview result: Jogger has valid CCW. Jogger says: ‘…..I thought my life was in danger…’ and not much more. He is not charged. Police said he apparently acted appropriately from start to finish.
News media interview result: Jogger says: ‘…..I’m surviving….’ and ‘….I wish it had never happened…’ and not much more except to insist that his name not be disclosed which, to date, it has not been.
Suspect number one, 32-year-old Ramon Soto, remains in fair condition at Tucson Medical Center. Suspect number two, 24-year-old Eduardo Reyna, remains in police custody, charged with armed robbery and aggravated assault. Bond set at $5,000.00, pending arraignment.”
Lesson: The two Chinese characters which, when placed together, is translated “luck” are the one representing “preparation” and the one representing “opportunity.” This jogger was ready to confront the scum of the world, even though he had no desire to do so. Thanks to his alertness and preparation he is alive and well and went home to his family that night. Of course, in our shallow and self-centered age, the media will describe him as “lucky” and his attackers as “victims of gun violence.”
3 June 00
From a student:
“Over Memorial Day weekend, two friends and I decided to drive from Denver to Las Vegas for some gambling and a Bruce Springsteen concert. I was hesitant to even bring the Glock 23 which I used during the Course, as I was traveling with two quintessential grass-eaters, who would have been uncomfortable with even the presence of a gun.
Weighing the risk and benefits, I ultimately decided to pack up my pistol in its pistol rug (in transport mode) and toss it into my suitcase. I never mentioned it to anyone. It was on our way back to Denver that I was shocked back into the actualization that we, as gunmen, don’t get to choose the moment when we’re challenged by unwholesome circumstances.
We were traveling east through the vacuous Utah desert when it became obvious that we were about to run out of gas. I had been asleep in the back of the car when we passed the last gas station. As a precaution, I retrieved my pistol from my bag, loaded it, performed a chamber check, then stuck it into my waist band and covered it up with my shirt, waiting for the inevitable moment when the engine stopped. A spare magazine went into my pocket.
The moment came exactly fifty-one miles away from the nearest gas station. We pulled over to the side of the freeway as the engine died. A hasty cell phone call brought us the news that AAA was at least an hour away. We sat there and waited, but not for long!
A rumpled Jeep Wrangler stopped, I thought to render assistance. However, the driver parked twenty yards in front of our car. Three dirty, unkempt men instantly exited and started walking toward us, saying nothing.
I assumed my interview stance, started moving laterally, and, when they got within ear shot, I called out to them, ‘May I help you gents?” No response. I then thanked them for stopping but indicated that we were okay and didn’t need any help. Still no response. Abruptly, they looked at each other and returned to their Jeep, all without saying a word. They left, and we never saw them again. Shortly thereafter, AAA arrived with some gasoline, and we were on our way once more.
I had prepared myself for a real emergency, even though I had not realized it until it actually happened.”
Lesson: Victimizers are not fighters. My friend made them nervous enough to break off their attempted contact and look for easier victims.
Much of what we teach has nothing to do with shooting, but it is just as important.
3 June 00
I just finished the 2000 NTI at Harrisburg, PA. Details will follow, but I want to report on a serious shooting injury which occurred on the range here yesterday. You may hear about this, and I want to get the facts straight now.
One of the live-fire, tactical challenges involved a 360-degree range. The script required the participant to enter a school yard, ultimately enter the school building itself, and then search until he found his toddler relative. The toddler was then to be extracted and removed from the school.
As he entered the exercise, each participant learned that the Trenchcoat Mafia had taken over, and that shooting was ongoing within the building and on the school grounds.
The entry point was a narrow “doorway” (constructed of earthen berms) obscured by a shower curtain covering the entrance. Each participant was escorted by a range officer to the shower curtain. When ready, the range officer would position himself directly behind the participant, and both would enter.
It was the range officer who was shot by a participant.
As he entered, each participant was greeted by four, armed (three-dimensional, rubber mannequins with four-inch diameter, rubber “hit cores”) criminals, who had to be shot until they were all down. When I went through, I expended sixteen rounds (9mm 124gr Cor-Bon) at this juncture alone, and I still (with slide locked to the rear) had to kick the last guy in order to persuade him to fall!
With these four bad guys dispensed with, the participant then moved to and entered the school building and proceeded with the rest of the exercise. The participant was entirely on his own. No range officer was there, just the participant. The participant could shoot in any direction and engineer the problem any way he wanted. Doors opened at random, exposing threats. After the toddler was located and ultimately rescued, and the participant was out of the building, the exercise was called to a halt, and the participant was required to holster before exiting the active area.
At the beginning, the range officer exited the problem (backward) as soon as both he and the participant were through the curtain. When the initial four targets were engaged, the range officer was long gone.
I was not on the range when the incident happened, so I didn’t witness it personally, but here are the facts:
The participant involved is a competent, seasoned gunman who has attended the last several NTIs. He is no novice and is well respected by all of us. Likewise for the range officer.
The range officer was shot at close range. The bullet (40S&W 155gr truncated cone hardball from a Glock 35) entered at a downward angle, entering just below the belt line on the right side, passing through and through, and exiting the right buttocks. The bullet subsequently struck the ground and was never recovered.
The injured range officer was treated by several physicians who where there participating themselves and immediately evacuated to a local hospital. His femur was damaged, and a plate had to be inserted to complete his treatment. However, an outright recovery is expected with no permanent disability.
The participant indicated that he started engaging the initial four targets, then caught movement out of the corner of his eye. He spun around, and discharged his weapon in the direction of the range officer who was still behind him. He recognized right away what had happened and immediately stopped firing.
I can testify from personal experience that the NTI mannequins are extremely lifelike and shooting them is about as close to shooting real people as I ever want to come.
The incident is still being studied, and changes in protocol and future exercise design may follow as a result.
However, the NTI is an exciting event, and it is open only to seasoned, professional gunmen. In past years, a number have been invited, discovered to be inadequate, and never invited again. The men and women here are all exceedingly competent. When high-speed gunmen participate in sophisticated tactical challenges like this, there is always significant risk, no matter how careful and “safe” we all try to be.
That is the lesson, and we all agreed that we must go on with this and continue to advance the art, despite this, the first NTI shooting injury.
5 June 00
More news from South Africa:
“You may have heard of all the drama related to our transport services between the black-owned minibus/taxi organizations and the black-owned bus services. The taxi people are forcing the busses out of the townships by trapping the bus, shooting the drivers to death, and subsequently burning the bus. Passengers and bystanders are commonly hit with stray bullets as the most commonly used weapon is a Soviet AK-47 on full auto.”
6 June 00
I’ve just returned from NTI 2000, conducted at the West shore Sportsmen’s Club near Harrisburg, PA last week. As in years past, there were several “static,” live-fire drills, several dynamic, live-fire drills (this year including a 360 degree shoot-house which you entered and negotiated by yourself), and several dynamic, Simunition drills (involving role players) in ASTA Village. On Saturday, there was also an optional “partners” drill in ASTA Village (using Simunitions). This later drill was an opportunity to confront dangerous situations with a partner, who may or may not be armed. In addition to the event itself, there were numerous seminars, lectures, and panel discussions by Andy Stanford, Greg Hamilton, John Holschein, Don Redl, Chris Dwiggins, and others including me.
The NTI is open only to trained and experienced gunmen. Even then, several are “dis-invited” every year, because they are obviously in over their heads. UNSAFE GUN HANDLING, WHINING, AND SLOPPY MANNERS ARE ALSO INSTANT DISQUALIFIES.
To get the most out of the NTI, you need to HANG YOUR EGO ON THE DOOR AS YOU GO IN, lapse into student mode, and be prepared to have your mistakes and shortcomings pointed out. PEOPLE WHO ARE COMPETITION ORIENTED WILL GET LITTLE OUT OF THE EXERCISE. When running each challenge, you need to stop worrying about what you think some observer wants to see you doing and what “score” you might receive, and start worrying about how you’re going to use all your skills to successfully negotiate the drill, with the understanding that there will probably always be a way it could have been done better
It was, as always, a wonderful learning experience for me and an opportunity to go through rigorous tactical exercises that I didn’t set up.
Here are the lessons which were most meaningful for me:
>It is burdensome but we must compel ourselves to LOOK ALL AROUND ALL THE TIME. Again the year, I failed to see several targets which appeared behind me. The problem is most acute when one is focused on a source of danger, and he is closely following unfolding reality. Even then, he must snap his head around quickly, so that concealed threats are seen quickly and dealt with expeditiously.
A good tactic is to “herd” threats and danger areas ahead of you as you move, so that you keep your back continuously exposed only to areas which are relatively safe. You can then narrow the focus of your attention as much as possible. A good tactic it is, but it is often not possible, and, when you have potential threat areas all around you (which is the usual situation), the only thing you can do is keep moving rapidly and keep looking all around, discriminating and acting as quickly and appropriately as you can.
MANY OF US LOOK, BUT DON’T SEE. This is because we often don’t know what to look for or what form threats usually take. Experience is the best teacher here. Everything we see or otherwise detect is “filtered” in the brain. Competent tacticians must therefore “tune their filters,” so that threats, even hidden ones, are quickly detected and evaluated. You thus must not just look “at” the window. You must look THROUGH the window to see what is on the other side and not fall into the trap of looking upon the window itself as some kind of barrier. You don’t just look “at” the car. You look INTO the car, so you can detect threats on the inside. It’s an acquired sill, but one which we all must continually refine.
>When confronting people the looks of whom you don’t like, make eye contact (so they know you see them), and KEEP MOVING. It’s when you stop to talk with them or stop for any other reason that they will pin you in position and initiate their attack. SO LONG AS YOU ARE MOVING, YOU ARE SETTING THE PACE AND CONTROLLING THE AGENDA. They are forced to respond to you. So long as you expose them to a new reality faster than they can adjust, a successful attack is extremely unlikely. They never catch up.
WHEN ATTACKING PAIRS, MUGGERS WILL ALWAYS TRY TO SEPARATE YOU. So long as you are in a position to support each other, again a successful attack is unlikely.
We were all amazed and troubled at how easy it is to kidnap children, even when a parent is nearby. One practitioner went through ASTA village with his eight-year-old son. The boy was successfully kidnaped so fast, the father (only a few feet away) was unable to respond effectively.
In at least one case, separated partners ended up shooting each other!
>In the live-fire exercises, shots impacting in the “thoracic triangle” receive the highest score. This is as it should be, but I find that when I have my front sight high on the chest of the bad guy, I precipitously lose the whole thing when he ducks. I thus prefer to hold my front sight on the navel area. That way, I’m confident that he won’t be able to get away from me, no matter how he moves. The consequence is that some of my shots are low, as I tend to start shooting in the navel and then move into the upper chest with subsequent shots. It’s a conscious decision on my part. I’m trying to persuade Skip to incorporate into the live-fire problems targets that “duck.” Practitioners who consistently place their front sights high on the chest may then see the downside of doing it that way.
>We must all be careful not to succumb to the temptation to “think only within the box.” In one live-fire exercise each practitioner had to give the RO ten 45LC rounds prior to the stage beginning. So, each of us knew there would be a Colt or Ruger SAA in there somewhere that we would have to use. Sure enough, that was the case, but, in my mind at least, the image of that SAA was so strong that I didn’t see an ax handle which was also there and which I could have used. I didn’t see it, because it didn’t fit the image of what I was looking for.
In another, similar case, I had to serve as a juror in ASTA Village and was compelled to leave my revolver with the bailiff who locked it in a lock box as I walked into the courthouse. When I reclaimed my revolver, I, of course, swung the cylinder out to confirm that it was still loaded. It was, but I failed to see that two of the cartridges had dented primers. I “SAW” WHAT I THOUGHT I WANTED TO SEE, NOT WHAT WAS ACTUALLY THERE.
>In one Simunition drill, a criminal rushed up to me and stuck a revolver in my face, holding it with two hands, demanding money. I decided a disarm was the best option and executed it immediately. I used the two-handed disarm technique, and it worked perfectly! My astonished attacker tried to fire, but it was too late. The shot missed widely, and I had the gun. In a case like the, I’m not sure what besides a disarm would work.
>In the past, all the live-fire, building stages required an RO to be with each practitioner all the time, in order to prevent him from getting disoriented and firing a shot backward or in another unsafe direction. With all those stages, I consciously go only at seventy-five percent, because I’m always concerned about the safety of the RO. I’m not comfortable going any faster. This time, in the 360 degree problem, the practitioner was on his own, with no RO present.
For the first time, I was going at one-hundred percent. I was spinning around and shooting behind me with no hesitation and moving through the building very rapidly. YOU WERE NOT ABLE TO CONTROL THE PACE OF THE EXERCISE. It unfolded before you, rapidly. Doors opened. Threats were exposed. Targets moved. You had to react. It was exhilarating, but exhausting. I found myself hyperventilating, and my legs were shaking when the problem ended. I shot this stage twice, because there were so many learning points in it. Going through exercises at this level of stress is extremely beneficial.
I found myself on the verge of panic several times, and I discovered that THE BEST ANTIDOTE FOR PANIC IS FOCUS. Focused rage is a powerful ally.
I really hope more stages can be set up like that in the future, but it is no place for amateurs! The mannequin targets are all dressed and VERY real looking!
>In the live-fire buildings, MUCH OF MY SHOOTING WAS ONE-HANDED. My left hand was continually tied up opening doors, getting obstacles out of the way, and holding rescued children. Maybe we need to spend more time on one-handed shooting!
>In the low-light portion of the ASTA Village exercises, I discovered that, IF YOU FLASH YOUR FLASHLIGHT IN A PERSON’S EYES FOR A MOMENT, THEN TURN IT OFF, MOVE, THEN FLASH HIM AGAIN, AFTER A FEW REPETITIONS HE BECOMES DISORIENTED. This trick was used by several practitioners to bewilder and confuse potential muggers in the darkened parking garage.
I might think of more things, but the foregoing is what sticks in my mind the most. We all owe Skip, Jim, and the entire NTI crew a debt of gratitude for putting the event on.
Statistics show that most people who commit murders with guns, when they actually committing the murder, are handling a gun for the first time in their lives! So, most opponents one might encounter in the real world are not nearly as formidable as the ones found at the NTI. Thus, if you are satisfied with your performance there, you’re probably in good shape.
The NTI is something I recommend for all my instructors. I’m looking forward to next year!
6 June 00
Several wanted to know what I shot the NTI with this year:
I used a Glock-19 and a Kahr 40. In the Glock I used Cor-Bon 124 gr HP, and in the Kahr I used Cor-Bon 150gr HP. The Glock was in a Ky-Tec (Dave Elderton) Braveheart (inside the waistband) holster. The Kahr was in a Ky-Tec pocket holster. All functioned perfectly!
6 June 00
From further inquiries:
My guns were concealed under a brown, Concealed Carry Clothiers sleeveless, summer-weight vest from Walt Brewer. I keep a notebook in the right-hand pocket to lend stiffness to the side of the garment as I draw. I wore it on and off the range. It worked great.
8 June 00
This from a friend with the New Jersey State Police. We all know the NJSP has been looking for a replacement for their aging H&K P7-M8s. Here is the latest:
“We were told the our P7s would be replaced with Glocks. Our P7s are over sixteen years old, and we’re now having a twenty percent breakdown on the range every time we fire. That is, twenty percent of the guns go down and have to go the armorer to get patched up every time we shoot. The situation is horrible! The troopers have no faith that their guns are going to work. They’re all just old and worn out.
In fact, we had a trooper killed in 1996. A contributing factor was the fact that his P7 went down in the middle of the fight with a broken spring. That is when the replacement program went into “high gear,” or so we were told.
Four years later, and nothing has happened. Our idiot governor appointed an attaboy goofy (retired FBI) to “study the matter.” Goofy is afraid we “might be sued” if he makes a decision. Our safety is apparently not important.
The result: Our idiot governor and spineless colonel just spent nearly a half million dollars of gun replacement money to buy a bus and sent it as far west as Kansas City in an effort to recruit minorities (two DWI CONVICTIONS doesn’t make you ineligible, as long as you’re the right flavor!). Our safety continues to be a non-issue.
Now they just announced that they were buying NEW P7s from H&K at an exorbitant price, but only as an “interim/emergency measure” while they continue to “study the problem.”
If they have such utter contempt for us and our safety, I wonder how the safety of citizens ranks on their list on concerns!
No one will stand up for us. Moral couldn’t be lower.”
13 June 00
This from a friend in Baltimore. A “good” shooting:
“On 31 May 00 an eighteen-year-old robbery suspect was shot to death by a Baltimore City PD officer. This is the seventh shooting by the Baltimore PD this year, the third fatality.
Our officer confronted the suspect (who fit the description of the robbery suspect being sought) after a foot chase. The suspect turned toward the officer and had something in his hand. The officer commanded him to “drop the weapon.” There was no compliance.
Our officer then fired several shots (exact number not yet determined, but it was more than two) from his service handgun (Glock 17, loaded w/WW 147gr SXT).
The suspect was struck in the head and upper chest. He collapsed immediately and was pronounced dead at the scene. The object in the suspect’s hand was, in fact, a gun (9mm, brand not reported). It was found a short distance from his body. It was discovered to be unloaded.
Our officer was unhurt.”
Lesson: When you have to shoot to keep from getting hurt, shoot carefully and adequately to end the fight quickly. In this case, the officer had been running and was probably out of breath. In spite of all that, he did his duty with precision and determination. Good show!
16 June 00
This is from a recent student:
>Watching the front sight and completely ignoring the rear is wrong. I think some of my shots were high, because my front sight was way above the rear. It is easy to become too comfortable and not pay attention to the basics.
>When engaging a target, one must fight hard to remember that there is more of the world around you, which could contain additional threats, than just what is in front of your gun. YOU HAVE TO FINISH THE JOB AND DRAG YOURSELF BACK TO THE REST OF THE WORLD QUICKLY, EVEN IF IT HURTS. Tunnel vision is not a good thing.
>When pushed physically to an extreme, your mind, if focused and determined, can operate successfully, even when your body begins to fail. I found running out of air, but continuing to shoot and hit was proof or this.
>The ability to consistently shoot accurately is far more important than caliber selection.
Excellent observations! These important skills must be exercised regularly, lest we become irrelevant.
17 June 00
This is from a friend in a large PD in the Midwest. The subject is Tasers:
“We had an exciting incident here last week. A suicidal man in his forties pulled into our police department parking lot in his van and announced he was going to kill himself. He was holding a utility knife to his own throat. He was alone in the van.
In response, we boxed in and subsequently immobilized his vehicle using our vehicles and Stop Sticks. One of our officers then began talking with him through the opened door on the driver’s side of his van. Another officer covertly positioned himself with a Taser M26 on the opposite side of the van. The only shot he had was a poor one, through the open passenger-door window.
Some time passed without success, so we decided to introduce the suspect to twenty-six watts of electricity. Our officer fired the Taser through the open window. The probes struck the subject on the right side and hip. He suddenly dropped the knife and went into convulsions. We then approached the vehicle and assisted the suspect to the ground. He was, of course, immediately searched and restrained.
The suspect recovered after several minutes. He commented that he had a severe, burning pain in his kidney but had otherwise returned to ‘normal.’ He was subsequently transported to a local hospital. No permanent injury was reported.
I had previous experience with the old, seven-watt Tasers and, like you, was not impressed. Then, our department hosted a Taser Instructors’ Seminar earlier this year in order to introduce everyone to the new units. To become an instructor, one must endure a one-half second ‘hit.’ The normal delivery time in a real situation is five seconds. After that experience, Lord, I do not want five seconds! I had no control of myself during the shot, and experienced intense pain. That day, I became a believer, and now that we have applied it in the field, I am thoroughly convinced of it’s value.
It offers an effective force option with a twenty-one-foot range, that I don’t think anyone can ‘out desire.’ In the case described above, chemical agent would have been difficult to use effectively, and a bean bag, if used, could only have been fired at an extremity.
As it turns out, the Taser we actually used was a loaner from the company. Ours are on order. The company representative had left one with us saying, ‘Hey, you may be able to use this.'”
18 June 00
This is from a friend who is a contract trainer in a large, East Coast PD. He does a lot of Simunition exercises and role playing with his officers:
“I am absolutely convinced that, when threatened, IF YOU DON’T MOVE IMMEDIATELY, YOU WILL FIND IT DIFFICULT TO FOCUS ON YOUR FRONT SIGHT RATHER THAN ON THE THREAT ITSELF. Tunnel vision comes crashing in, and moving immediately helps to break it up and keep you in the fight.
Effective management of anxiety helps one to transition from Orange to Red smoothly, without becoming overloaded and shooting blindly (panic shooting).”
Sage advice from someone in a position to know.
28 June 00
This from a colleague in the training business:
“Last Saturday at one of our ‘permit classes’ a young lady arrived with a new, Taurus 38Spl revolver (snubby), with a ‘key lock’ behind the hammer. They all come that way now. It’s a new ‘safety’ feature.
As she was shooting, the revolver suddenly locked up and thereafter could not be made to fire. The thing just stopped without the key ever having been used to lock the firearm. Under the recoil of multiple shots, the locking screw apparently decided to operate itself!
She didn’t have the key with her, and we had to loan her another pistol in order for her to finish the course. Not very comforting, to say the least!”
Lesson: If your defensive firearm comes with attachments and gizmos placed there solely for political correctness, get them off the gun immediately, before they cost you your life!
28 June 00
Live-fire House. This is from a colleague who regularly runs live-fire training scenarios in his training building on his range. Some good points:
“Last weekend I ran several shooters through our live-fire house. The scenario placed the student at a house he had never seen before and, due to exigent circumstances, he was obliged to clear the building himself and not wait for police.
The front door opened into an ambush with three armed, bad guys (mannequins) in the first room. In the same room there was a body on the floor with a pistol laying next to it. There was only one other mannequin in the house. It was unarmed and located in a closet in a bedroom.
>Only two students even observed, much less engaged, bad guys through an open window next to the door. All saw the window. Through it, bad guys were plainly visible, but MOST PERCEIVED THE WINDOW AS AN IMPENETRABLE BARRIER and thus failed to actually look THROUGH it or consider shooting through it.
>Not one student saw the pistol laying on the floor. Most never even saw the body on the floor. When the weapons in the hands of the bad guys were first perceived, tunnel vision came crashing in and prevented students from seeing other important parts of the puzzle.
>When engaged, no legitimate target was in excess of nine feet from any student. Yet, I had to patch up many holes throughout the building! Excitement and tunnel vision caused many to forget their front sight. ‘Panic shooting’ was exhibited by more than a few.
>Although the mannequin in the bedroom closet was unarmed, several students blasted it at once when I yelled ‘Hey you!’ Some even sheepishly commented that I ‘pushed them to shoot.’ How unfair of me!”
Lesson: Training not done under some level of stress will probably not be accessible when you are under the stress of an actual incident. Training, if it is going to be of any use at all, must be stressful. Even otherwise competent shooters, who train regularly but under relaxed conditions, typically lapse into “divide overflow” when confronted by real stress.