Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Snow Flake Shooting

Damn, it was cold!

I have a ritual for attending matches at Camp Perry.  It starts with a trip to Woodville Surplus in Oregon, Ohio.  Woodville has true Army/Navy surplus as well as new merchandise. 

Woodville Surplus

I bought a new Carhartt coat and hood there several winters ago for winter chores and outdoor work on those blustery cold NE Ohio days.  That was a good decision.   I’ll need it at Perry at the match.  I’m still interested in the unused Polish gas masks, but frankly I’m not sure why I need one.  I suspect Woodville has new owners as the new firearm section has expanded, as has the quality knives and overall quality of the place.  They carry Boy and Girl Scout stuff as well as family camping gear.

I always time my arrival around lunch so I can stop next door at the Big Apple Deli.  Their hot chili is fiery spicy and the sandwiches generous.  It’s a nice place with helpful people and good food. 

Camp Perry has a long history.  Founded in 1906, it was a plot of swampy of land off Lake Erie.  French drains were dug and dug which turned the area into primo property.  I believe it was used for POWs in both WWI and II, but the source of all internet knowledge (Wikipedia) claims only WWII.

Main offices at Camp Perry

The POWs were German but mostly Italians.  The Italians were given parole to leave the camp and provide much needed help to the local farmers and fishermen, returning at night.  I know how weird that sounds.  Following the end of the war, many of the Italians did not want to return to Italy, finding much greener pastures locally and became members of the community.

Across the street from the first.  The railroad car under shelter is a gift from France following WWI.  Every state received one.  The mess hall used to sit here, Breakfast was at least 1500 calories.  Despite walls 1.5 feet thick a tornado touched during one match and cracked the wall.  

Camp Perry, with its huge rifle and pistol ranges which uses Lake Erie as an impact zone, became the home of the National Rifle and Pistol Matches.  I’ve shot pistol matches that were halted because a summer pleasure boat entered the impact zone.  Going into town is always a kick seeing billboards off the highway saying “Welcome Shooters.”

Currently, Perry is a National Guard base, serving as a tune-up stop (I’m told,) for both National Guard and regular military police heading out to the various hot spots around the world.  It’s home to a variety of units such the 213th Ordnance Company, Ohio Naval Militia and Red Horse Civil Engineering.

I’m going because the Friends of Camp Perry run both pistol and rifle pop-up fun matches when they can get access to the ranges.  For rifle you shoot off an elevated platform at half size humanoid plastic targets.  Computer controlled, different numbers of targets pop up at ranges of 50 to 300 meters on either the left or right side of your lane of fire.  You can have up to three targets appear at a time.

The box indicates the target at 300 meters

Look, while I enjoy shooting as an activity, it is an article of faith for me that an armed population is a deterrent to a totalitarian government.  Let’s set the time machine for the Nixon presidential era.  Watergate has exploded.  Nixon becomes an embattled and bitter president.  Future President Ford will later pardon him for any crimes he claimed he did not commit.  Civil disturbance is at a high point in living American memory. 

Many people wondered if Nixon was going to place the Supreme Court in protective custody, dismiss Congress for their own protection and declare nationwide martial law.  During that time I became a believer in the Second Amendment and an NRA supporter.  I still believe it was only the knowledge of an armed and resistant population that prevented this.

There is no place I can shoot that has pop-up targets out to 300 meters (325yard).  I can’t test equipment and myself like this anywhere else.  So yes, I will attend the Perry Pop-up matches whenever possible.

I shoot an ordinary AR with a 16 inch carrel with a 1 in 9 twist and a 1.5 to 4 X scope mounted on A-2 upper.  I zeroed the gun at 100 yards for my reloads.  I reload a 69gr boat tail only to save money.  It’s nothing special and you don’t need a $2500 rifle and scope to hit a minute of man at 300 meters. 

Registration Tent.  It was too cold and too windy to uncover the windows!
So Saturday found me standing in 23 F weather with winds whipping out of south west. Reading the always present windage flags, I estimated wind speeds at least 20 mph.   Red Horse set up a nice heavy duty tent shelter, but neglected to turn the electrical on in the area and the tent was dark as a grave.  And just about as cold.  Here the three women volunteers, working by battery lantern light, signed us up and I headed to my firing point.

Firing line

Neither the sun or better conditions showed up, but I didn’t care.  I slipped on my Gore-Tex rain pants for more warmth, slipped a chemical hand warmer in each shooting glove and found my point, Lane 3. 
Perfect fashion for the Snow Flake Pop-up Match.  Other than my hands I was warm.
Lane three had problems.  One target was frozen in the up position.  Two on the right were frozen in the down position.  I wasn’t the only one.  At least 4 other lanes had targets that decided to sit the match out.

I made lemonade from this sour experience.  I worked on long distance shots.  Bullseye shooters will dial wind drift correction in.  I’m not comfortable with that.  At the 300 meter target I held off the targets left shoulder level to the top of his head.  The theoretical calculated drop for my load is 19 inches at this distance.  The targets are about 36 inches tall, so 19 inch drop is a center of mass hit.  They all went down before my neighbor’s targets so I knew I was getting hits.  As I moved in, I held closer to the target’s center of mass.  They went down too!

There were a few surprises.  One of my frozen 50 meter targets on the right stood up, took a round and decided to say down for all the other shooters as well.  I took a shot just for giggles at my frozen target and it went down!  It never came back.  My gun choked on one round, but I got it clear and recovered the round to determine what went wrong.

Between my relays I hid in my car with my new buddy, the heater.  I selected unpadded shooting gloves because I want to feel the trigger better.  Why doesn’t anyone make gloves padded on the tops, sides and palms leaving the finger print side with tactile input?

I didn’t wait for my scores, but zipped myself out of my rain pants and headed for Tony Packo’s in Toledo.  If you’re a MASH fan you remember Klinger talking about Tony Packo’s hot dogs.  It’s pretty famous for that.  It’s also famous for walls of autographed hot dog buns.

Tony Packo's.  Under the blue green wall sconce you can see a few of the many, many signed hot dog buns. 

It seems Burt Reynolds was appearing in a Toledo stage production and was taken to Packo’s.  When asked for his autograph, Burt grabbed a hot dog bun, signed it and the rest is history.  Later all the signed buns were replaced with ceramic replicas which are sign just as easy but never go stale. 

So is there tactical content here?

Maybe.  The weather was a bitch, but I know my rifle works.  Despite the new battery, the cold sapped the battery strength and could not illuminate the chevron in my scope.  I need to consider warmer shooting gloves.  I preloaded my magazines anticipating the difficulties of fumbling ammo in the cold.  I also realize I don’t need a special rifle out to 300 meters, more than the total length of 2. 7 football fields.  I need to replace my bipod with a better quality one.

I also learned something about myself, which is the real goal of all these activities.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Brain Food

I recently read a posting from 2015 about a fictional mom, a real she-wolf, taking her kids to an equally fictional street festival.  It’s a didactic article to make you think.  I was going to steal it and republish it with a link back to the original source, but decided against that.  It’s written about a woman, but that doesn’t really matter.  It’s written for your frontal lobes.

Let me unpack it for you.

Mom, of course, has a CCW and carries.  What sensible person would not?  The article also explains she dresses to blend in with the expected crowd while dressing her children in bright green shirts to make them easy to find in a crowd.  She carries a nondescript fanny pack with OC spray, impact tool and, of course, a blade.  She photographs the sole pattern of their shoes before leaving home to give to the police, if needed.

Okay, let’s stop here.  Taking cell phone pictures of the tread pattern of your kids shoes isn’t going to help the police find them if they are taken or wander off.  There are few police forces with trackers who could essentially follow tracks through a street festival.  Taking a picture of what they were wearing when you left home is probably more useful. 

I like the idea of dressing your kids in bright colors, but why not add a bright cap or scarf to your outfit so they can find you as quickly as well?  After all it’s a festival and you wouldn’t look too out of place with a lime green ball cap. 

Do you need OC spray, an impact tool and a sharpened edge?  I want to say no, but my training forces me to admit that replacing the impact tool with the right flashlight makes that trio very powerful.  But not dumped in a fanny pack.  I know women’s pants have crappy, shallow pockets, but there are pants what will work for you.  You don’t need a 5-inch blade.  A smaller more easy to carry 3 inch blade, like Spyderco’s Delica or Benchmade’s Mini-Griptilian, is extremely useful.  You can clip either to the inside of your waistband in perfect comfort.

Our she-wolf constantly scans for potential trouble, making a mental note of anyone who appears to be paying too much attention to her or her kids.  On exiting she checks to make sure anyone she noted isn’t following her.  Great idea.  Why not take a cell phone picture of them too?  Don’t worry about being seen, let them worry about what you’re doing with their image.  I’d hang on to the images for a week or two, just in case.

This is just living in condition yellow, or watchful interest.  It’s not hard to live this way.  Just be alert to your surroundings.  You’ll be surprised with what you see.

My wife used to teach school and during fire drills the fire marshal or principal would snag a kid and pull them into a class room to wait out the drill.  Each teacher needed to do a head count and identify any missing children.  Losing a child during a drill was considered very bad ju-ju.  She taught her kids to say no to anyone who tried to take them out of the drill.  Why not teach your kids the same thing?  Anyone who wants to show then something inside something, or was sent to get them should be told no.  A very loud no at that.

If she thinks she’s being followed (remember those looks around and effort to notice anyone paying too much attention), she makes an immediate turn in an unexpected direction.  I think that’s fine providing it doesn’t lead you to a more isolated spot.  Stay with the crowd.  Predatory animals always select the ones at the edge of the pack. 

With this in mind, don’t be the last to leave.  Sure your favorite group is preforming after dark in the town circle, but do you really have to stay until the roadies are taking the amps down?  Take your kids and leave while it’s still light, especially if the parking is in a unlighted area.  You can always hear your group on the internet.

Of course maybe the best way to to go with a small trustworthy group of adults and children.  Just saying....

You think this doesn’t apply to you.  It may not.  Maybe you don’t have kids.  Maybe you’re a 10 degree black belt and your kids spar with you going full out.  Maybe you’re surrounded by a nine man protective service.  But I bet it does.

Now for something not quite completely different. 

The holidays are coming up.  Thanksgiving, Christmas, Rosh Hashanah, Michaelmas, New Years, Boxing Day, do I need to elaborate more?!?   It’s time of jangled nerves, too much to do and too little time.  We short change ourselves and find ourselves taking children to crazy stores and forgetting basic precautions.   Don’t do it. 

Stay alert, have a plan, a second plan, as well as the skill set and tools to work the plan.

Suggest reading:  Gift of Fear
                             Principles of Personal Defense

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Low Light Pistol

I recently finished Rich Hart’s Low Light Pistol fighting class.  Any misrepresentation is due to my faulty understanding, but let’s dive in anyway.

I simply have to say it was a blast, very high in the CDI factor.  That’s "Chicks Dig It" factor.

Actually, I have have no idea if women actually dig it.  What I wanted was skilled training about handgun low light shooting and exposure to the current ideas and concepts.  And that’s what I got.

When I first did low light training the Mag-Lite was the hot ticket flashlight.  Light Emitting Diodes (LED) were toys and the idea of using them as a light was still science fiction.  Still, there is a lot to recommend a 16-inch metal pipe that’s just a flashlight.  If you carry a Mag-Lite, let me recommend Peter’s Defensive Tactics Flashlight.

low light pistol

We started class with discussions and practice drills in the setting sun.  

But back to Rich’s class.

All modern instructors give a safety/first-aid talk at the beginning of each class.  This includes identification of any paramedics in the class or advanced first-aiders, location of trauma kits and discussion of what has to be done.  Rich did a very nice job with this.

I strongly recommend this; we have all heard horror stories of dispatchers not understanding your emergency, calls going to the wrong dispatchers, ranges not having a plan in place. 

If you shoot, spend half a day in a first aid class forshooters and carry a personal trauma kit.  If you are prepared to take a human life, then you should be prepared to help safe a human life, possibly your own.

The class then settled into discussion of tools and what we want to accomplish.  Rich utilizes a Socratic method of teaching in which questions are asked to stimulate critical thinking.

This is a change up from many of my instructors who taught rules.  Teaching rules isn’t bad, but to reach a higher level of understanding and utility, critical thinking is a must.

Here’s an example:  I have always subscribed to the concept of light off when moving.  I have been taught this at several schools and have taught it to my students.  Let’s pull it apart.

In an urban environment, most of your conflicts will have some ambient illumination.  Both you and Violent Criminal Actor have some degree of visibility and turning your light off doesn’t make you invisible.  So what do we want from a light?

Generally what we want from a light is to determine if shooting that person is righteous or not.

shooting in the dark

We geared up and everyone wore a chem-light stick for safety.  Some of the sticks looked like we should have been at a rave but it was all good.  Note the forehead task light , it was very useful for filling mag and finding dropped equipment.

Think about that.  In the bar parking lot, at Walmart, or the street in front of your house there is likely sufficient illumination to determine if a person is present, but perhaps not enough to determine if there is a weapon in their hands.  That’s the advantage of light.

By questioning what we want from a light and what we want to gain from turning it off allows a new paradigm to surface:  Leave the weapon/hand-held light on.

With this idea I reexamined my previous training.  I realize it was geared to no light situations in dark warehouses, dark houses, hallways and basements at night as well as rural environments in no light conditions.  Different conditions from what I am exposed to in an urban and semi-rural environment.

So, now I’m thinking about moving with my light on.

The black tactical light is the Surefire Combat 6Z light.  It was the hot, hot ticket when I started training.  The shape and rubber rings lends itself to the cigar technique.  It's plastic brother doesn't have the ring, so it works better for the Harries techniques.  Equipment also drives tractics. 

While concepts drive technique, it is also true that mission drives gear.  Few of us need SEAL tactics, despite the fun of learning them.  We’re not likely to have to silently kill a sentry to rescue our child or spouse.  Nor does the legally armed civilian need to close and handcuff a VCA.  Our task is different.

We should select the tools that assist us in accomplishing our task.  For most of us, that task will be to stop any further harm and stabilize the situation until the professionals arrive.

FBI light technique

Lined up using the old FBI mag-lite technique.  It's a lot easier when you're not using a heavy steel body Mag-lite.  The lighter tactical lights works well for this.  As much as I liked it, I did notice a tendency to spend time aiming the light and not the pistol.  Will training eliminate this?  I don't know.

So we need to pick the right tools and tactics. 

We spent a lot of time talking about tactical lights both weapon-mounted and handheld.  These topics included what you want to do, what to consider, how bright and ramifications of both.  Take the course to get the fine points, but let me go on the record, you want a lot of light and a simple on/off.  As with machine guns, simple is better.

My 4Sevens light, now out of business. It has too many functions, but I selected on/off at high power and a second strobe/non-strobe function determined in advance at the bezel.  I added the lanyard.  If I was to investigate a noise at 0-dark thirty, I would set up the lanyard on my left wrist first, then investigate.  Being able to "drop" the light to free the fingers is invaluable.  The protective rim around the button makes this light hard to click on/off rapidly.

After a few drills it quickly became apparent that weapon lights have limited functionality.  Why?

Do you really want find your kid playing hide and seek in a closet by pointing a gun at them?  What about doing a 360 scan after a shooting by pointing your gun at everyone and everything behind you?  Sounds like really bad ju-ju to me.  Solution?  Hand-held lights.

Rich pointed out that it is very likely in low/no light situations we’ll have a light in one hand when we discover we need a gun in the other.

We practiced several non-support hand light techniques.  One was the FBI mag-lite technique, which I had dismissed years ago as hopelessly outdated but now utilize.  Many of the students employed variations of the Harries technique as well as the cigar or syringe technique.  Several liked the controversial check or temple weld technique.

Harries technique, thanks to the internet photo collection.  There  is a tendency to have the hands separate in recoil.

The cheek weld, if you are not familiar with it, is the Harries technique held against the jaw or temple.   I’m still not sure about that one.

Low light shooting

Again, stolen from the internet--- The cigar technique.  I always find this results in a lot of things happening near the trigger.  Again could be just my hands and technique.

Part of the message I got from Rich’s class was to evaluate each technique as a loss/gain in context of the current situation.  Makes sense.  Maybe it’s your warehouse during a blackout you have to search.  Maybe it’s a parking lot outside of a store after dark.

I think I have more questions than answers, which is the path to true knowledge.

Thanks, Rich!

Here’s two more photos on weapon mounted lights.:

dirty weapon light
After discharging your weapon, crap builds up on your weapon light front lens.  This not only absorbs light, but generates heat, that can distort the plastic lense.  I use a thin layer of oil/grease to make it easier to clean.

front lense

The thin layer or grease will help you scrub the lense clean, but there is always some damage when the gunk fuses with the plastic and even the act of cleaning causes some scratching.  

Thyrm makes a temporary peal-off protective lense.  I'm sure you can find other solutions.  And no, the thin layer of grease doesn't cause a noticeable drop or light spill.

Stay safe.............

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Doesn't Matter

I just finished reading “Why They Kill” by Richard Rhodes.

Well, it isn’t really by Richard Rhodes.  He wrote it, but he’s acting as an abridger for Dr. Lonnie Athens.

Rhodes, because of his traumatic childhood, is interested in what makes a boy bad.  In the course of his investigation he “discovered” Lonnie Athens.  Dr. Athens did extensive work interviewing criminals behind bars and has evolved a theory called The Process of Violentization.

Sounds interesting, doesn’t it.  

I didn’t think it was.  The book is really more of a detailed abridged digest of Athen’s theories and supporting evidence, rather than fun reading.  If you work in the field of preventing children from growing into monsters, you should be aware of this book. 

Dr. Athens doesn’t believe in the bad child.  One can almost hear him in the role of Lennie Bruce’s Father Flatski.

“Come on out Dutch.  There’s no such thing as a bad boy.  Killing twelve people doesn’t make a boy bad…..”

Dr. Athens believes they are formed into killers by the influences of their childhood.  He very well may have a point.

I, on the other hand, believe some people are just evil, but that not what I need to discuss.

The important part of the book, to me, is that violence is always a choice made in advance of the act.  It’s not a dead end street trap that forces itself on the actor.  We read of some incomprehensible act and we cannot understand why. 

We make excuses for the actor, ask if they were high or wonder if they’re mentally unhinged.  These rationales let us think that we can understand what happened.  And with this understanding we are somehow shielded from or at the least, capable of avoiding this violence.  We believe, we assume, we can avoid being a pothole on the next actor’s dead-end path. 

But the violence wasn’t random, the victim was.  The actor decided in advance, made a conscious decision they were going to rob, rape, kill, beat-to-death someone.  The decision is made, then they act.

Do not lull yourself into a false sense of safety by saying it would make no sense to be shot/robbed/kidnapped/raped…  Or you can avoid being trapped by actor who suddenly discovers that violence is the only option.

Just because you don’t know the reason, never doubt there is a reason and that a decision has been made. 

Do not waste time and energy wondering about a reason or motivation, but move right into defending yourself against a perceived threat.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Gun Games

Are matches important?

Jim Cirillo in his NY stakeout squad days shot every match he could.  Should you?

I’ve taken a position on this several times and rereading those and several other blogs is driving me to restate my position.    Ego aside, I think you should make this your position.  But I do have a few assumptions:

One (A):  You are serious about preparing yourself for one of the worst days of your life.  With the exception of the unexpected death of a spouse or child, few things can be worse than shooting someone in self-defense.

One (B):  Helplessly watching your child or spouse die at the hands of another because you are unprepared, untrained and un-equipped to prevent it is even worse.

Two:  If you are convinced that gun games are solely that and you have no further interest other than racking up wins, this blog post doesn’t pertain to you.  God bless and keep you safe. 

Matches are a great way to experience some of the physical and mental stress of an armed encounter.  They can put something in the subconscious that will remind you that you have dealt with a similar situation to your current situation and have prevailed.

Do you remember your first gun jam at a match?  Did you learn from it?  Did you fight through it and get the gun functioning?  Image this happening in the back end of God’s forgotten half acre with someone who wants you dead and your children in their van?  But now you know how to clear the jam.

Did you use your best tactics at the match?  Do you use cover for reloads and then come back out in a different location to reengage the sheets of cardboard? 

What about that new red dot reflex sight on your pistol?  Can you find the dot after recoil while lining up on a second or maybe sixth sheet of cardboard?  Would you like having that figured out before you’re dealing with three armed intruders in your house? 

How does that laser, gun light, echo locater work in a smoky environment?  Shooting a match with it will tell.  A friend of mine used his new laser at a rifle match only to find out it didn’t work on a cold day.  Good to know in advance.

So here’s a little fun match.  Let’s look at its problems and potentials.

Fun Match
Quick and easy, you can set it up on a range in half hour

If you start on the left side of the barricade and pie all five cardboards from 1 to 5 from the left side, when you finished on 5, S2 would have been the next logical target, but you are exposed to S1.  Fast but, not very tactical.

Let’s try the other side.

Start on the right side of the barricade and pied all five cardboards from the right side.  Start with 5 and you end with 1, S1 would have been the next logical target, but you are exposed to S2.  Also fast but, not very tactical.

Fun match
Shooter is going to pie all the way around from the left side and then has trouble deciding which of the tee-shirts to shoot first.

One of several better tactical solutions, start on right side of the barricade.  The outer most cardboard 5 is engaged first and then work inward to 4.  Move behind the barricade to left side and pie around that corner starting with cardboard 1.  You end ready to engage S1 with your last remaining round before reload.

Everyone should paste to speed thing up

Use cover and continue to pie the corner to add one round to S1 and then two rounds in S2.  I think it’s tactically sound, but slower.

There are three things I’m attempting to address with this blog. 
One, matches are fun and can be shot to win (shortest time) with tactics that are potentially fatal. 

Two, you can use your best tactical solutions, but don’t expect to win.  The corollary is when you review your tactics and those of the other shooters expect to find other usable solutions.   At a pick-up match at the range, you may be able to reshoot it with different tactics.

Three, you are engaging non-moving, non-dangerous sheets of cardboard.  Expect people to move to new locations as soon as the first shot is fired as well as shoot back!

We shot the above stage as a fun pick-up match.  Everyone did fine on the sheets of cardboard, but the tee-shirts caused people to falter as they realized they were exposed to a “live” shooter while engaging the other shirt. 

This dilemma isn’t strictly academic.  Can you image a similar problem in your home?  Forced to engage one person at the entrance to a room, you then pie the corner to find criminal 2 only to realize criminal 3 is coming in from a side angle? 

Yes, you should have moved out of that neighborhood years ago, but maybe its Mom’s home and she is determined to stay no matter what. So,what’s your solution? 

Matches give you a chance to test equipment, skill levels and solutions.  One blog I read explained how he used a three gun match to stress test a reloading technique.  That’s a great idea, as long as you don’t think that jumping out into the open to engage three targets with a shotgun is also a great idea.

Don’t confuse cardboard with real life.

Thursday, August 23, 2018


On the competition range shooting a building clearing stage will get your heart started.  There’s a lot of information on room clearance and building searches.  The entire spectrum of knowledge and experience is available.  The question important to you is what’s real or phoney?  What’s an informed opinion and what’s some troll with too much time on his hands?

Here are a few examples.  I’m not saying any of them are good or bad.

Room and building clearance can be an interesting and exciting academic activity as long as nobody is shooting at you.  It is one aspect of what I refer to as the ”thinking person’s shooting sport.”

In a real situation it’s a good way of getting shot or killed and requires training and experience.  Utilizing a team and body armor would not be out of place

Let’s define two terms.

The first is ensconced.  It means in place, secure, snuggled in.  The second is its opposite.  The best I can find is mobile, exposed, constantly on the move.

Building searches could be defined as a mobile person looking for the ensconced person.  Let’s flip the paradigm on its head.  You’re the ensconced good guy defending yourself in the building against deadly invaders.  Isn’t that plot to “Home Alone”?

The advantage is yours.  You’re going to nullify the next person through the door.  You might have a fallback position for the next encounter or maybe you have a buddy to act in your behalf making a trap even more lethal.

Let’s set the paradigm back on its feet.  What’s our real concern?  That you might have to search a building for one or more ensconced invaders who will unhesitatingly use deadly force to avoid capture.  If they planned in advance or are graduates of one of our universities of higher criminal learning, they will seek a hiding place what gives then the advantage over anyone who comes into range.

The professionals who train civilians tell me “Don’t do it.”  But they admit if it’s your spouse, your child, your parent in the building, you’re probably going in.  To this they add:  “Do it the least stupid way possible, and speed kills.”

If you can’t take a class there are a few options but the first thing to remember is even among professionals there are differences in opinion and their tactics will be shaped from their experience.

For example:
Distinctive hats or ball caps for members going in?  The funny silhouette from the hat marks then as cops to both good and bad guys.  Of course bad guys are going to shot anyone coming in the door.   But it may help cop A to be recognized by cop B.

Rifle muzzles up or down when stacking outside a door?

Rifles or pistols as primary weapon?  Or is it mixed?

How many people stacked outside a door?

How do you exit the room/area you just cleared?

One book I like is:

Excellent graphics to explain the mechanics of entering and sweeping a room or area, but still it’s just a primer.  Once you get the basics down you need expand your understanding and experience.

Here's a building from the outside.  What can you tell from this view?

You must be able to 'read' a building or room and extract all the possible information

 No windows means anyone inside is as blind as you are.

The door position makes it corner fed so the majority of the room is to the left.

The hinges tell you the door opens outward and to your left. 

Taking a few seconds to move around it will confirm that it is a garage and doesn’t have any windows and that the garage door is down.  The absence of an overhead electric line feeding the garage doesn’t eliminate the possiblity of internal lights.  You could also assume it’s one big room or several small rooms.  Not much help, right?  Is there enough room for an attic?  So, is there a car in there?  Is it running?  Are the room lights on or off?  Is it empty of full of obstacles?

Most important: Are there people in the garage who would kill you and if so, how many?

 You’ll never see an illustration that matches what could be in that garage.

Here’s a second one.

You’re in some kind of room.  There a hallway to your left.  A doorway with the door closed in front of you and what looks like a doorway with the door off on the right.

What do you know?  Not a lot.  It looks like a scientific area, maybe a lab or classroom. There are blinds on the one door.  Is someone watching you?  Could you peak in and find out more or will your shadow against the glass and blinds trigger an outpouring of gunfire.  You don’t see any hinges and there’s a push plate on the right of the door.  The door jamb also tells you it opens in.

Are there back doors?  Maybe a false wall and pipe chase that people could use to leave, enter or flank you?  What’s in the door-less room?  There appears to be something big and gray preventing easy access to opening.

The hallway seems to open up behind the room with closed door.  How deep is that room?  Is the hallway a trap?  Will someone step out with their hands up and get you to move forward to one pre-selected spot where a second shooter opens up blindly through the wall board?  Or will several shooters wait till you’re just about at the end of the hallway before they lean around the wall and open up?

Moving through the hallway as fast as possible might be an excellent idea.  But I’ve also played the role of the ensconced shooter waiting for a team, and I’ve got to tell you, time weighs heavy on you.  You want to get this done and get going.  Hiding spaces are cramped and you want to move to a different location.  Maybe you give up your position and move closer to the person searching for you because you want it over.  You’ll make mistakes.  Peak out and get seen or move to a place of less tactical importance.  Frankly, if there’s was a second way out I would have been gone after the first five minutes.

A lot of questions to answer, some of which I didn’t think to ask.  A thinking person’s shooting sport, I told you.

You want to learn room clearance?  Take a course.  Read, study other people’s ideas, draw diagrams, look at your church, office, school and other building and ask where you would hide and how you would clear it.  Then go play hide and seek games with your kid or gun range buddy.

You’ll probably unlearn more stuff then you learn.  That’s the real path to knowledge.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Death in a Parking Lot

Before we go any further let’s make sure we understand two things.

The license to carry a concealed weapon is only that.  It is permission by your state government to legally carry a handgun concealed in public in specific locations.  That feeling that you should do something to improve your community or ride to the rescue because of that permit is wrong and possibly dangerously illegal.

Let me go forward and state your permit does not allow you to enforce even minor parking regulations in the absence of LEO.  I don’t believe you can be “deputized” by an LEO in any but the most extreme circumstances. 

Stand Your Ground laws are not permission to shoot.  They simply eliminate the legal requirement that you need to prove you could not safely retreated.  All the legal requirements for a justified self-defense shooting still govern your actions. 

To flog this horse just a little more, in any self-defense situation the legal system will look at the totality of the situation, what lead up to the shooting, the shooting and your actions afterward. 

Florida shooting
Captured image from Markeis McGlockton shooting

You’ve seen the video from Clearwater, Florida so let’s talk.

Markeis McGlockton (age 28) and his partner Britany Jacobs stop at a convenience store and park in a handicap space.  Markeis and a child leave the car and enter the store.  At some point Michael Drejka (age 47) gets in a confrontation by arguing with Britany about their parking space.

Britany exits the car and engages in the argument.  Markeis exits the store, approaches Britany and Michael.  They appear to be still arguing.  Markeis shoves Michael to the ground.  Markeis remains standing in place, neither advancing nor retreating.

At this point, still seated on the ground, Michael draws his legally carried handgun.

Markeis takes a step back.

Michael fires one shot, hits Markeis who retreats into the store.  Michael remains seated on the ground tracking the retreating Markeis with his handgun.  No additional rounds are fired.  When Markeis enters the store Michael lowers the handgun.  Markeis later dies.

Now dying over a parking space is surely one of the worst ways to end up at St Peter’s gate.  Arguing over the use of a parking space in what appears to be an empty lot is stupid.  By starting this action, Michael failed to remember that in any confrontation he gets involved with there is always a gun present, his and the potential for escalation is greatly increased.  CCW holders should always avoid arguments when possible.  It’s just a fact of life.

Markeis pushes Michael to the ground.  This by itself would be difficult to be consisted an application of lethal force requiring you to defend yourself.  Even a medical condition that made your bones as brittle as glass may not provide you with sufficient justification.  After all, you have survived the initial attack.  Your goal is to prevent a second or continued attack now that you are in a vulnerable seated position with reduced mobility.

Markeis does not step forward with a kick or makes any apparent movement to suggest he was going to further the attack.  It doesn’t not appear he intended to escalate the conflict to lethal levels.

Michael draws his gun and Markeis retreats a step. 

Michael shoots Markeis, who staggers into the store.  Michael stops shooting.

It is interesting to observe that a witness, as soon as he sees the gun makes a hasty retreat.  It’s been observed that crowds vanish like magic as soon as a gun is drawn.  Witnesses, especially ear witness who heard the verbal exchange missing on the video may be hard to find and have faulty memories of the conflict.

The what ifs……..

Frankly, I don’t see how the Stand Your Ground law makes any difference in this case.  Michael was knocked to the ground.  To retreat would have required him to stand up.  The process of standing up is slow and exposes yourself to additional attacks.  Years of playing martial arts has taught me the difficulty of trying to get to your feet when you’re physically attacked.

Markeis was unarmed, or was he?  Ask any LEO, they will emphatically tell you unarmed is not the same as not dangerous.  Society seeks to establish a level field in human interactions.  That’s why heavy weight fighters don’t box featherweights.  The difference in strength, ability and force is called disparity of force.  One of classic examples is the young man verses the old man.  In any conflict it would be reasonable to assume the young man would beat the old man all of the time.  Markeis was armed with disparity of force.  He had no trouble pushing Michael to the ground.

We don’t know what words were exchanged.  Words have a powerful input in this case.  If, and only if, Markeis told Michael seated the ground, “I’m going stomp your ass…,” things would change.  Assuming of course Michael took him at his word, and frankly what else could you do when you’ve been knocked to the ground?  Drawing the handgun seems appropriate.

However, the video doesn’t not support the need to fire.  Markeis does not advance, but actually steps back.  Seconds later Michael fires and you can see Markeis take the impact and grab himself before retreating to inside the store.

I suspect there will be charges, not because Markeis is black or his girlfriend looks good on camera and is demanding justice, but because, in the absence of exculpatory evidence, Michael Drejka wrongly took a human life and should pay of it.

Update:  Michael Drejka has been charged with manslaughter.  This will play out over the next year or so.