Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Breaking Support

One of my favorite gun writers has an internet article about pelvic shots.  He does a nice job discussing handgun stopping power and the importance of shot placement.  He has a great point, illustrated by Bat Masterson (the real one, not Gene Barry), that an opponent collapsed on the floor is not the same as out of the fight.

Drawing of the pelvic bones.  The ball and socket of the femur/pelvis are shone.  Your round must be sufficiently "manly" to beak the pelvis so the leg can no longer support body weight
Here’s the inside story on pelvic shots.

One:  The pelvis is a large, massive bone designed to support our weight.  It takes a significant cartridge, both in size, weight and velocity to do sufficient damage to crack the pelvis.  I don’t think a .380 could do it.  I suspect you might need either a magnum load in .38 or better to have a reasonable chance of success.  Failure is very much an option in this undertaking.

Two:  Purposeful pelvis punctures should be reserved for VCA with contact weapons only:  things like baseball bats, knives, and hockey sticks.  The remote control weapons like pistols, rifles and crossbows can still be fired even if the assailant is on the ground.

This is where the pelvis is located.  Lower than you thought?  This takes clear thinking and purposeful aiming, something usually in short supply during an  armed conflict.

Three:  This is more a gut intuition.  A gang (or is it mob?) of VCA with contact weapons have a second level of danger, the disparity of force created by their number.  I don’t believe I would attempt pelvic shots to pin them in place as the levels of success are low.

Remember, immobilization is not the same as incapacitation.  Like so many things, pelvic shots have a place in your tool box, but it is a specialty tool at best.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Match Soapbox

No matter if they are indoor or outside, most tactically orientated pistol competitions are speed and accuracy driven.  Is there more?

Should the shooter have shot the left paper plate from left barricade and then moved to right barricade or just keep pieing around the right corner? 

Both speed and accuracy are components of self-defense, but not the only ones.  The use of tactics is a big one.  Basic gun skills are one.  Using cover and concealment is another.

When was the last time you saw a competitor engage a target with his last round, come back behind cover to reload and then re-engage from a different point of cover?  I suspect the answer is never.  Doing so slows you down and results in a poor score.  But this is a basic tactic.  I’ve watched shooters clear three rooms in 30 seconds with good hits on targets they were unknown to them.  Does that happen in life?
First, let’s dismiss the military model.  I’ve talked to Marine and Army personnel.  They enter the building at zero dark thirty, flowing into the building with many armed men.  Their raid is no warrant, no announcement and they shoot anyone who even looks dangerous.  After all it is war.

This model doesn’t work for the armed civilian who needs to get to the room where spouse and/or children are waiting.  Nor does it work for the police who need a warrant and justifiable use of lethal force.  We see what happens when Grandma gets spooked and makes a sudden motion during a raid.

I had a chance to role play the bad guy at TDI several years ago.  I had previously seen the shoot house and they didn’t care if I skipped to the end before my turn.  The team was a professional police team that did house clearance for a living.  It took time for them to work through the house.  Probable 10 minutes, but to me waiting to ambush them, it was hours.  So I have to discount 30 second clearance runs.

All matches are games.  Game isn’t a bad word.  It’s a necessary and useful teaching tool.  It’s only when the game is seen as reality do we have a problem.

I’m interested in games as a way to practice skill sets.  Can we make matches better?
How about setting up the CoF with no walk through?  The first time you see it is your turn.  Maybe even after the walk through, ‘no shoot indicators’ could be moved for each shooter?  The safety officer could short the shooter’s magazine.  You couldn’t know on which target you would run out of ammo.  The safety officer could introduce one dummy round forcing a clearance drill for everyone.

No match can be fair to everyone.  Short people get an advantage behind low concealment barriers as compared to the 6 footers in the crowd.  They take it on the chin with tall windows.  So let’s not focus on “fair matches” but on accuracy, tactics and basic skill sets while having fun.

I’d like to see a CoF in which you choose a route A or B.  Going to A means you’ll never see some of B’s targets.  At some point you would choose D, E or F.  Again you would only see some of the targets and not others.  No shooter would ever see all the targets.
I’m not sure how you would score that.  Path AC might have 5 head shots and 4 targets at 30 yards.  Path BE might see only 5 center of mass targets at 10 yards.

Any game will show you a thin, realistic slice of life and distort the rest.  The key seems in knowing which is the thin slice and what’s the fat, distorted slice.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017


Modern technology can be wonderful. 

Just the other day I was riding in the shotgun seat of a friend’s new BMW SUV and got to see it work up close.  It has all the new technology including smart cruise control.  Apparently, you set the interval between yourself and the car in front and the car will adjust your cruising speed to maintain that distance.  This works best if you’re the only driver on the road.  On most highways a space bigger than 1.5 car lengths is an open invitation for frustrated, Nascar driver rejects to prove they can draft six inches behind any car at any speed.

We were on curve in South Carolina, when a non-descript car slipped in between us and the car in front.  When that car braked suddenly, the BMW having quicker reflexes than the driver jammed on the brakes and prevented a crash.

I was impressed and finally had a chance to ask my question: “If the driver wanted to, can you override the auto controls and run someone over?”

There was a little silly laugh from the driver and his wife who was in the back seat, until my wife remarked, “No, he’s serious.”  Then it got uncomfortable.

It appears there isn’t an override or a quick one button deactivate.  Too bad.

It’s not too hard to imagine some criminal jumping in front of the car with a remote control weapon (AKA: gun) as the first step to a robbery or kidnapping.  I can easy image the possibility of you seeing a stranger dragging your child, wife, niece, nephew into a strange car and deciding you need to crash in to the vehicle to prevent a getaway.

Too bad if your car stops you.

The point of the story is if you are justified in shooting someone, you’re justified in running them over.
We should talk more about this, as I’m not discussing backing over them several times.  Let’s revisit this again.

My friend driving was uncomfortable with my question.  He doesn’t realize that I believe him to be the target of a swoop and squat.

The car on the left was following too close and the right car suddenly braked.  When you break the trunk goes up and the front end goes down.
Swoop and squat is a simple concept with many variable scenarios.  The basic plan requires two cars and the target.  The lead car tries to create a distance between themselves and the victim just a big enough space for the second car to pull into it.  The second car, often in the other lane for timing purposes, pulls into the space and the two cars simultaneously brake.  This causes the victim’s car to crash into the second, possible the pushing the second car into the first. 

The first car gives legal fiction to the second car should there be a witness not part of the scam.  “I braked suddenly, Officer, when the car in front to me braked.”  Since the first car isn’t hit and leaves the scene, all that’s left is you following at an unsafe distance and not having your car under control.  Since you hit him, guess who gets the ticket and is cited as at fault.  Meanwhile, second driver starts moaning about his neck….

From there it’s whiplash, lawsuits, police, insurance claims, perhaps a little fear and intimidation and an offer to settle out of court for a healthy chunk of change.  A middle age driver of a BWM might fit the desired victim profile.

Why do I think that?  From the front passenger seat on the curve I could see both sets of tail lights come on at the same time.  No lag time between the front and second car’s break lights.  It was like they had a signal or rehearsed it.  When nothing happened, both cars sped away from us at a high rate of speed.

I guess that’s the second lesson I want to talk about.  We each have the potential to be a victim of opportunity anywhere, New York City or the low country of South Carolina.  Take steps to reduce your apparent victim profile!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Sniping Competition

I just finished watching “10th Annual International Sniper Competition” from LaRue Tactical.  I had the disc for a while and with the blowing winter snow outside, I was looking for an inside shooting activity.  Watching the DVD qualified.

shooting distance

This competition was, according to the disc, the first time they opened competition up to police and LEO snipers.  If you think you are a good long distance rifle shot, perhaps someone who is sniper good, watch the video.  You may be surprised.

I never thought I was sniper good.  I can hit a 12 inch plate at 200 yards from the prone position, but that isn’t much of anything.  This competition wouldn’t let me stand by the gate.  The video had some interesting ideas.

Both the sniper and scout often had the same rifle optics with the same reticle.  This is taken a step farther and the spotting scope had the same reticle as the rifle optics.  This is to facilitate communication between team members.  Many stages had a provision that if you missed you had 10 seconds to correct and take a second shot.

One of the better teams switched off roles as sniper and scout as needed.  Perhaps one partner is better at calling wind at 700 yards than the other while the other was better at night shooting.  They utilized individual strengths for the team.  I recommend this approach from my own practical experience.  Match each shooter’s skills to the task at hand.

All the competitors zeroed at 100 yards and then confirmed it at 300 and 500 yards.  At least one team took time to discuss PDAs and ballistic software to calculate ballistic coefficients from the data they obtained at different distances.  The bullet drop calculation allowed them to dial in the correction for each stage.  Most of the events were staged with a short time to shoot and an even shorter time to get back to the next shooting position.  Clearly this wasn’t an event where everyone just took their time getting set up and making calculations.

The video also had little commercials about sponsors’ products, chiefly LaRue, Leopold and Nite Hog.  Still, there was information available about reticles, wind calculations, night vision and its screen resolution.

All the winners were military.  LEOs were outshot.  Why?

One shooter explained that you have to have a passion for distance shooting.  You have to make the sacrifice and get out on the range and shoot non-standard distances under different weather conditions.  You have to be willing to keep looking for the new next great thing, then evaluate and use or discard.

I watched the military use thermal spotting scopes with IR lasers to indicate the target to the shooter with their night vision system.  If you don’t have this gear, you can’t compete effectively against teams that do.

And finally, at what distance do most police sniping activities take place?  As one LEO sniper team told me last summer, “…if we have to shoot farther than 100 yards everyone is having a very bad day.”  Reaching out to 500 and 700 yards is not normal activity for the police as compared to the military.

Also competition at that level requires an all in approach and deep pockets.  A LaRue gas gun with 0.7 to 0.5 minute groups currently runs over $2200.  Let’s not even talk about the cost of precision ammunition.

If you get a chance, watch the video or call up one on YouTube.  I think you’ll enjoy seeing what’s possible with practice.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Tactical Safety

Let's think about the tactics of safety. 

(Just in case the link breaks)

Christmas time pushes people to do crazy, frenzied activities as we rush to make it a perfect holiday.  Let’s talk about putting things in place so they are ready when we need them.

I’m not talking about bug-out bags, stashed guns or even determining lines-of-sight in your house.  I’m talking about smoke detectors.

So many of us use a cut Christmas tree to celebrate Christmas.  These trees were cut 3 months ago or longer and are so dry and are so filled with resin that they practically explode into a ball of fire with the touch of a spark.  Even the live ones you cut at the tree farm are very flammable. 

So put in fresh batteries in your smoke detectors for Christmas.  Most of them use a common 9 volt radio battery available at Mega-Mart and corner stores across the nation.  If you don’t have a smoke detector buy a couple.  Put a smoke detector on each floor. 

I suggest you put one on the living room ceiling near the area you normally put a Christmas tree.  This one will give you an extra 10-20 seconds if the tree catches fire.  Those seconds could be the difference between having an awful Christmas and not having one at all.

One of my favorite blogs suggests keeping a headlight on the fire extinguisher.  Not a bad idea, but here are the two main thoughts on using a fire extinguisher.

If you have any doubts the fire is too big for your extinguisher or level of confidence, it is too big.  Like DeNiro said in Ronin,  “If there is any doubt, there is no doubt.”

If you choose to fight the fire, get the fire department moving before you start.  You only get one extinguisher.  If you have to leave to get a second, the blaze is too big.

A few more words on smoke alarms and such.  There are two types, ionization and photoelectric.  Experts suggest installing both.  Then they talk about adding carbon monoxide detectors, and don’t forget the Bluetooth linked detectors …

Remember, perfect is the enemy of accomplished good.  Just get a couple of smoke detectors on your ceilings and keep fresh batteries in them.   Make sure everyone knows to meet a location in the house and what their job is during an alarm.  I think you should practice a drill. 

You spend hours practicing head shots on cardboard, but you think it’s silly to run a drill to make sure you and yours get out safely?  Really?

Here’s a link to the article that sparked this rant.  I hope you enjoy it and take it to heart.

I want you have a Safe and Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Basics 6: Public Bathroom

Let's get gritty. (just for men edition!)

CCW and modern plumbing
So...Which are you going to use?

That’s your third cup of coffee.  Nobody ever owns coffee.  We just borrow it and input equals output.  Time to head to the john.

You’re carrying, that’s why you’re drinking something non-alcoholic.  Let’s assume you carrying strong side and someone has made you.  They want your gun.

Their plan is to be a half a dozen steps behind you into the john and when you step up to the urinal, unzipped and pre-occupied, they are going to rob you.  This is just a variation of one popular mode of making a felony warrant arrest and extraction from a public place.

Let me tell you how I would do it.  I’d start to walk past you and then slam your head in to the wall, hard!  Hard enough to knock you unconscious.  I’d scoop the gun out of your holster and be out the door while you were still falling to the floor.

So what’s your plan?

You’ve got a couple choices.  You could use the urinal on the right.  That’s a sturdy partition on your right that protects and limits access to your gun.
You could use the center one which gives you room to move either left or right during a fight.

The left one, that’s not so hot unless you’re a lefty.

So what’s the answer?

Use a stall. 
Nothing like almost complete privacy, with a door locked behind you to protect yourself.  Take care of emptying your bladder and when you’re ready, you open the door and step out.  Anyone waiting has to react to your timing.

Sure you can dream up other scenarios that invalidate the protection of a closed door.  How about two of them waiting for you outside the door?  Or maybe one will climb over into the locked stall after you. 

Really?  Maybe someone will simply teleport your gun away from you.  

Not very likely you say, and I would agree.  Lingering around in a bathroom always attracts attention.  That’s the last thing he wants.

It’s a basic tactic.  Use a stall.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Basics 5

I’ve seen something I’ve never seen before.

predator and prey  criminal and victim  same thing!!!
Victim and Predator    Image from Jim Burns
A small hawk had found a pigeon separated from its flock and managed to crash it in traffic in front of my car.  The hawk took a second or two to regrasp the pigeon, look around and then drag the injured bird off the road and on to the glass berm, out of sight.

The hawk was lucky on several accounts.  Traffic was slow and I recognized what was happening while they were still a flying tangle of feathers heading to the pavement.  I could stop and wait the 10 seconds it took.

There is a tactical message in all of this.  Let’s ignore the implication the pigeon was unarmed and the hawk armed with sharp talons.

The hawk cruised around until it found an isolated pigeon, a victim of opportunity.  It struck with maximum force to disorientate the victim.  He then took a second to make sure a bigger hawk would not steal his victim, made sure he had control of his victim and then took the victim to a secondary, more private location.  Needless to say the pigeon lost more than his wallet and watch.

What do we get out of this?

Armed or not, it’s safer in a group.  Pay attention to the surroundings.  If that pigeon knew about the circling hawk, it would have taken cover with the rest of the flock.  A criminal attack will be violent and unexpected.  See your attacker approach and start your counter before he arrives.

No, I don’t mean drawing your gun.  That’s dependent on the circumstances and may be appropriate.  But opening your coat to make access to the fighting tools easier, emptying your hands, moving to cover, moving back to the store entrance, getting the family to safety, all start the process.  This sends a clear message to the predator that they have been seen and you are not surprised.

Final observation.  Never let yourself been taken to a secondary site.  There is a reason the criminal wants to take the time and risk exposure and possible capture to move you to a move private location. 

Remember that pigeon.

Any comments?