1 June 02

Lessons from NTI 2002:

We had a good collection of gunmen at this year’s event. At the “DTI Dance” stage, 93% of rounds launched struck bad-guy targets. Many lessons were learned. Here are the most important:

DECISIVENESS. Decisiveness is probably the most important of all tactical skills. If you’re going to exit, do it quickly and don’t come back. Get distance and get out of sight. If you’re going to disengage, do it aggressively, then exit quickly even if you have to push past or push through people. If you’re going to engage, do it quickly and with exorbitant violence. Don’t hesitate. Don’t start to do one thing, then stop and start to do something else. A confused countenance always fixes you in one position and generates a focused response by predators.

ALERTNESS. The more warning you have, the more time you have to put a plan together. You must make it a habit of looking all around constantly. I find the “Step-and-Scan” technique to be particularly valuable in this regard.

SMOOTH AGGRESSIVENESS: If you have a plan, it must be executed seamlessly, with great force and speed, and without delay. Don’t vacillate and don’t falter.

HAVE A PLAN: Accept the fact that it won’t be perfect, but, without one, you will dither and hesitate. When you become overwhelmed, take a breath, reform you plan, and continue.

YOU NEED YOUR HANDS TO FIGHT: In an emergency, if you have something in your hands that is not important and is not helping you right now, it needs to be immediately jettisoned, so that your hands are free to do the important work at hand.

MOVEMENT: Whether you’re engaging or exiting, aggressive movement will invariably unbalance your opponent(s). We see it again and again. Unless you’re in a strong, covered position, you must be moving constantly.

KEEP MAXIMUM STRENGTH ON YOUR GUN: A strong, tight Weaver stance is always best. People who hyper-extend their pistols, particularly when they are shooting one-handed, betray their position, get disarmed, or get shot in the arm. Don’t stick your pistol where angels fear to tread! The Isosceles stance is NOT suitable for serious shooting.

MAKE USE OF COVER AT EVERY OPPORTUNITY, BUT DON’T CROWD IT: Moving to cover needs to be an automatic response, but many shooters crowded it and were thus unable to use it effectively. The “Rollout” technique will always maximize your advantage.

DON’T POINT YOUR GUN AT YOURSELF: It’s difficult to imagine how shooting yourself in the middle of a tactical situation would be helpful to you! And yet, we saw many ostensibly experienced gunmen point their pistol at their weak-side hand more or less contiguously as they moved through tactical exercises. Muzzle consciousness is something that every aspiring gunman should learn on the first day of his training, but the lesson is lost on many when things get exciting.



9 June 02

I received this note with regard to shooting stance from a friend:

“I am not terribly dogmatic about stance (my own or others), but I have to ask: How do you explain the success at NTI of people such as John Holschen, who shoot with an Isosceles stance? (Obviously, of course, John has the experience, training and common sense not to stick his pistol where his eyes haven’t gone yet.)”

My reply:

“Thanks for your note. John Holschen is a wonderful tactician, as you noted, and I suspect he would always score highly no matter what stance he used. However, in training, even at the NTI, reality can be duplicated only to a degree. For example, for all the NTI’s reality, no one is trying to disarm you as you go through the various scenarios.

I like the Weaver Stance because it is strong against disarm attempts and keeps the weapon close to the shooter’s body. By contrast, the Isosceles Stance is not as strong against disarm attempts and is ponderous when one is trying to pivot at close ranges. Both are surely useable, but I favor the former and teach it to my students.

I realize many competitive shooters use the Isosceles Stance, because it is inherently more accurate than any stance which positions the weapon closer to the face. Again however, in IPSC and IDPA competition, no one tries to forcibly disarm shooters. It they did, shooters might not hyper-extend their guns quite so casually.”



21 June 02

Here is a summary of the team drill performed by a friend and me at the NTI. This is always the last NTI drill. It is conducted with Simmunitions, and not all participated. He makes excellent points:

“Early Saturday morning, John Farnam and I arrived at the West Shore Sportsman Club to participate in the two-man, team tactics drill. This is a real-time test of thinking and fighting skills.

The L-Shaped house:

The scenario begins with John sitting in the front room and I around the corner in the middle bedroom. We were not in visual contact. All at once, there was a loud commotion followed by frantic shouts from John, then gunfire! As I leaped to the doorway, I saw one suspect enter the shower area adjacent to my position, while another was running towards John with a gun drawn. Fearing for John’s safety, I fired twice at the moving target, hitting her both times. She went down. John simultaneously shot and killed another bludgeon-wielding thug.

I called out to John to let him know that I was all right, and told him that there was one more intruder hiding in the shower area. I commanded the suspect to come out. There was no response. Here, the communication between John and I became confused. John asked if I was lying down, and I misunderstood the question, and said ‘Yes’. Unfortunately for John, what John saw was the third intruder who was lying down, and John mistook him for me. The suspect shot John in the lower leg as John tried to move forward make contact. Obviously, this misinformation was corrected the moment that John got shot. John ducked back behind cover, and we both then commanded the intruder to come out.

At this time, I heard noise and ran to the window in the bedroom, just in time to see another intruder, armed with a gun in his hand, come rushing the window, I stepped back away from the window and fired twice, hitting him both times, terminating the exercise. Unfortunately, in the exchange he also hit me in the non-dominant wrist. Painful, but I was alive.


This scenario was intended to simulate an aggressive home invasion. We were not familiar with the house. Both John and I should have toured the home together beforehand, so that we would have known where each other was.

We both spoke to each other, but there was still a communication breakdown, which resulted in John getting shot. Clear communication is extremely important.

Immediate and violent reaction against an aggressive and violent, criminal assault saved our lives. Indecisive dithering would not have helped.

Ranges were close, and we were both able to hit moving targets. Practice with rotating, steel targets turned out to be very helpful.

ATSA Village

John and I were then sent to an indoor shopping mall. Upon entering, mall security stopped us and said that this was a ‘gun-free’ area, and that we had to check our guns, then step through a metal detector to assure compliance.

Our mission was to retrieve John’s dry cleaning. While at the dry cleaners, John got a message from the dry cleaner that there was an emergency at home, and that he was to call home immediately. The pay phone was around the corner next to a parked car.

John had me hold the dry cleaning, so that he could call his wife. I examined the area and shined my flashlight into the parked car, noticing an individual sitting in there in the dark. The man then stepped out from behind the car and asked for change. I told him that I had none, and alerted John.

As we were attempting to break contact, he drew a gun and demanded money. I shouted to John, ‘He’s got a gun!’ Unarmed, both John and I immediately moved laterally in opposite directions. This sudden and decisive movement confused the suspect. He waived his gun back and forth between John and me, not knowing what to do. I announced that I was calling the police and grabbed for the phone. He turned towards me, but John distracted him again, and I successfully dialed 911.

The suspect continued to swing his gun back and forth. Then he decided to come for me. As he ran around the corner toward the phone booth, I took off for the exit, meeting (and passing) John. The suspect then broke it off and ran away.


Always have a gun.

Immediate action saved the day. John and my immediate stepping off the line of fire confused the attacker and allowed us to seek cover. Separated as we were, he could not decide whom to go after.

You need your hands to fight. Jettison nonessential items when a fight appears imminent.”



21 June 02

On current shooting fads, from an LEO trainer in the Midwest:

“It amazes me the number of guys who unhesitatingly leap onto every bandwagon that comes along, not because it’s superior, but because they so desperately want to be relevant.

Two years ago, a group of our guys became all fired up with the ‘Israeli shooting technique.’ This is the one where your first move is to draw and then chamber a round, because your pistol is carried unloaded. I don’t know about you, but I customarily carry my pistol loaded, so I was never able to see the point. However, if you put ‘Israeli’ or ‘Tactical’ in the title, kiddies will predictably flock to your door.

Last year I went to a regional seminar. One-handed, unaimed shooting was all the rage then. This shooting technique rears its ugly head every few years, until its most ardent promoters demonstrate authoritatively that even they can’t hit anything.

This year, several of our guys went to a seminar on the ‘Central Axis Relock’ pistol technique. It is basically a Weaver, contorted and turned sideways. In addition to being strained, one actually blocks his vision to one side, because his arm gets in the way. It is just another dreary reinvention of the wheel. However, these guys were ALL fired up. Mostly I think, because it is their chance to be trendy, ‘cutting edge,’ and all that. When they get old (like us), they will, like us, have lived long enough to have seen this twaddle periodically recycled, under a new and trendy term, every few years.

I had to ask them, ‘Does any of this stuff work significantly better than what we do now?'”



22 June 02

One of our students successfully disarms a gun-wielding “resident” at a school for wayward boys:

“Hours ago, I disarmed one of our residents. As you know, our school specializes in boys with ‘behavioral problems.’ (Loosely translated: ‘They’re no good’)

This afternoon, I observed a pack of students screaming as they ran toward the front on the campus. I rushed out of my office and saw a single student brandishing a shiny, black pistol as he verbally threatened other students. At our school, students are searched randomly every morning, but the entire process is haphazard, and the people doing the searching are unenthusiastic and anything but thorough.

My internal, DTI switch suddenly engaged with a nearly audible ‘click.’ I move quickly toward the student in question. He was already into tunnel vision and never saw my approach. With a single motion, I disarmed him from his strong side, using the shearing technique. In startled disbelief, he eyed his now empty hands and then looked over at me. I was nearly as surprised as was he, but the difference was that I had a plan. He didn’t.

As soon as I had his ‘pistol’ in my hands, I realized that it was a plastic squirt gun. Nonetheless, I quickly separated from him as he continued in disbelief mode. Other staff finally arrived, and we quickly got the situation under control.

While being escorted away, I overheard this malefactor saying to one of his friends, ‘Why didn’t you tell me he was there?’ He obviously never knew what hit him.


Continuous condition yellow is critical. When it’s least expected, you’re elected! Disarming a pistol wielding student was the last thing I thought I’d have to do today.

Weigh suspect capability instead of guessing at suspect intent. Who knows what he intends to do? The only important thing to consider is what he is capable of doing.

To be successful, fighting techniques must be simple and free from flashy drama. Bruce Lee once said, ‘In a real fight, I would no more attempt to kick an opponent in the head than I would try to punch him in the foot.’

Have a plan. When you have a plan, you always know what comes next. You’ll never dither or hesitate.”

Good show!



23 June 02

From a friend in Michigan about the importance of the axiom we stress in our classes:


(1) Go to stupid places
(2) Associate with stupid people
(3) Do stupid things

“A local high school science teacher was arrested here following what he described as a ‘harmless prank.’ He and two of his students set off a ‘soda bottle bomb’ in the front yard of another of his students. The ‘bomb’ is made by mixing Drano with aluminum foil. The combination causes a chemical reaction which builds gas inside the bottle, until the pressure causes the bottle to burst. Most high school kids know how to make this ‘bomb,’ and its construction and subsequent use didn’t appear to be misdeeds to the teacher or the students involved.

In any event, neighbors failed to see the humor in the whole thing, and they called the police. During the investigation, detectives interviewed the teacher and the two students. Police read the teacher his rights and, of course, informed him of his right to council. The teacher, according to the report, waived his right to consultation with an attorney and is quoted as saying ‘For what I did, an attorney can’t help me.’ He mistakenly thought no charges would be filed.

He was wrong. The teacher has now been charged with two felonies, ‘Detonating a bomb’ and ‘Possession of bomb-making materials.’ Additional charges are pending.

Felony stupid?”




24 June 02

Shooting incident reported by an acquaintance (not a student) in South Africa:

“Last week, while traveling by car across the country, my girlfriend and I needed a place to overnight. The town where we stopped was in a remote area, and we had to make do with staying in a ‘cheap’ motel.

It was cold in our room, and my partner suggested we go out for a drink or two. The only restaurant/bar in town was seedy and dilapidated, but there was nowhere else to go. When we entered, there were several other customers sitting at tables and two mouthy drunks standing at the bar. In retrospect, we should have turned around and departed without delay, as they looked us over thoroughly as we stood in the doorway. Instead, we went in and sat down at a table. I was armed with a concealed 38Spl revolver.

We ordered drinks and conversed quietly at our table. Suddenly, one of the drunks left the bar and staggered toward us. He began loudly accusing my partner of standing him up on a date. She replied that he had her mixed up with someone else and that she had never seen him before. I chimed in that all we wanted was for him to leave us alone. He would have none of it! He grabbed my partner’s arm and jerked her out of her chair. She screamed. I yelled at him to let her go, but he just became more enraged. I forced his hands off of her and pushed him back. He grabbed a steak knife from an adjacent table and lunged at me.

Drawing my pistol, I shouted at him to stop. He hesitated momentarily, then resumed his forward motion toward me. I fired two shots, hitting him in the right arm and shoulder. With an astonished look on his face, he staggered backwards and fell. The range was less than two meters. Poor shooting on my part. His injuries were not life threatening. My friend and I were shaken but not hurt.

We called the police, and they arrived an hour later. The suspect never lost consciousness. He was still cursing us as they took him away. We spent a few agonizing hours in a cold police station. I will have to go back there for the hearing.”


>Stay out of bars, especially sleazy ones. Bars have more fights per square meter than most other places one can think of being. Armed or not, bars are good places to stay away from.

>When things begin to go in the toilet, get up and leave immediately or don’t go there in the first place. As drunk as he was, this thug would have had great difficulty following the couple out the door and down the street. At some point, he would surely have lost interest and returned to the bar.

>Carry OC any time you carry a gun. A face full of OC may have abruptly ended this episode before anyone got hurt. Fox is the best brand.

>When you decide to shoot, hold nothing back. This thug should have been stitched up the body midline with multiple shots. The immediate infliction of multiple, fatal bullet wounds is the only appropriate response to an imminent, deadly threat. To do less is to undervalue your life.



25 June 02

Comment on OC from a friend and student:

“During recent Simmunitions exercises, we were required to carry (simulated) OC. As we worked our way through escalation scenarios, most of us found ourselves with flashlights in our support hand and simultaneously OC in our strong hand. When the heretofore non-lethal antagonist suddenly produced a gun, we were hosed while trying to pocket the OC bottles.

I know we should have just jettisoned the OC bottles as we moved and drew our own guns, but the bottom line is we obviously hadn’t developed either a methodology nor the muscle memory required for successful OC use under all foreseeable circumstances.

If one routinely carries OC, he needs to work its deployment into his regular training regimen.”




25 June 02

I just received this from a friend and student in Zimbabwe. For all those naive liberals who think that Communism is “just another form of government.”

“It is with despondency that I write you today. On Monday morning, under the ‘Compulsory Acquisition Act,’ Zimbabwe’s commercial farmers have been confined to their homesteads and forbidden to continue operating. Anyone who attempts to produce food, in any quantity, will be arrested and imprisoned (a death sentence, as few here survive imprisonment). I am required to abandon, among other things, hundreds of tons of tomatoes. They will rot in the field. It is an obscene and sickening irony that, in a country that has the most fertile and productive farm land in the world, seven million people are now facing starvation and are appealing to American tax payers for food aid.

By the end of the year, two million (otherwise productive) people here will be homeless and jobless. Even those farmers who have attempted to cooperate with the new ‘law’ have been beaten and murdered and have seen their homes and crops burned, their wells poisoned, and their livestock shot and left to rot. From the director of the Farmers’ Union, there is silence. Ditto from the South African Government, and indeed, the rest of the World.

Last week I visited our (former) farm in Marondera. Five hundred people have been transported there by the government and discarded. Our beautiful farm is now being used as a dumping ground for jobless who have been evicted from other farms or rounded up in the cities. They are all camped out in a tiny area that is knee high in trash and human excrement. The smell is overwhelming. A cholera epidemic is sure to follow.

The above scenario has been duplicated a thousand times. We have a humanitarian disaster unfolding here and no one to turn to for help.

Until next week, pray for us my friend.”



26 June 02

Murder in the Midwest:

A friend in the Midwest who does homicide investigations just related this:

“Three local gang members murdered three other local drug dealers all on the same day here last week. All three suspects have been subsequently arrested and charged. It was a drug territorial dispute, but you might find in interesting that all three murders were committed with handguns fired from moving vehicles. All three victims were also in moving vehicles. Ranges were close.

In order to kill three people, these gang members fired a total of 135 rounds! Of that, only five bullets actually struck the intended targets. That is a four-percent hit ratio!

I’m convinced that the hit ratio is so low, because the targets were in constant motion. Of course, the three suspects are hamburgers and hardly expert marksmen, but still; moving targets are difficult! The suspects had to fire all those rounds just to get one or two to finally connect.”

Lesson: When under attack, don’t stop moving. Constant, aggressive, and unpredictable motion makes you an extremely difficult target. Movement should be incorporated into all defensive firearms training.



27 June 02

A friend who works with a large gun retailer in Slat Lake City tells me:

“The 1911 crowd makes up about ten percent of the serious handgun market here. Kimber and Springfield are slugging it out for first place. Springfield is slowly taking the lead from Kimber. Kimber is starting to suffer a breakage problem with small parts, mostly manual safeties and slide-stop pins.

We can sell every G23 we can get. In fact, everything in 40S&W is a good seller. 357SIG is now starting to come on strong also.

Kahr suffers from a name recognition problem, but we still sell a lot of them.

Beretta buyers are mostly first-time patrons who saw them in movies. Few experienced buyers are interested in them.

SIGs are good sellers, particularly in 40S&W. The P220 (45ACP) we can’t sell at all.

Whenever someone mentions S&W, you typically hear several sneers. They are still suffering from the a serious customer backlash that resulted from their ex-president dropping his shorts and bending over for the Clinton Administration. People don’t forget. The S&W P99 shows some life. Sigmas and the rest of the S&W line are all dogs.

In serious ammunition, Speer Gold Dot, because of its popularity with police, is a strong seller. Federal and Cor-Bon are both strong contenders also.”