Thursday, August 17, 2017

It's More Than Noise

It’s was a bang-bang kind of week-end.  Saturday was our women’s intro to handguns.  We focus on safety foremost, then shooting, safe storage, transportation among other things.  Is there anyone who never picked up a gun and wondered if they could defend themselves with it?  I doubt it, so we covered it.  It’s not a CCW course, but self-defense is at the core. 

I’ve always believed that the biggest stumbling block to self-defense is not the mechanics, but lack of surety that you are justified.  We spend time discussing the factors that justify lethal force; tactics involved, anticipating problems and solutions.

What tactics?  How about the Ohio Castle Law, for example?  It’s a hot button issue for me and I advise people:
  • To determine if lethal force is appropriate,
  • To identify the suspected intruder enough to know they don’t belong there,
  • When possible, retreat to a position of strength in your house.


To help them find positions of strength we shoot up their house.  We use real, factory rounds.  It’s one of my favorite demos.  TV teaches us a person can duck behind an interior plaster wall and be safe from multiple gun shots.  

Home shooting with plaster walls
The spacing between the walls is reduced but really, air has stopping power?  The thickness of the walls is correct.

We come in with two sections of a stud wall covered with sheet rock and punch holes in it using the rounds they are shooting , Glasser Safety Slugs and several hollow points.    We propose that the space between the walls has no contribution to stopping power and it’s only the wall board that means anything.

Front of wall with bullet holes
The unlabeled hole on the bottom was a .38 spl Hydra-shok.  The Glasser is the middle and it's punching a small hole in the second wall.


Everything goes through the wall board.  The only thing that might not make it through the second wall if it was more distant was the Glasser Safety Slug.  By the time it leaves the back of the first wall, I’ve seen evidence it’s breaking apart, but it’s not consistent.

After this demo we talk about considering where your missed rounds will go.

shooting indoors
You are in the third room looking at the wall separating you from the second room or three rooms away from the gunshot.  The middle round, a Hyda-Shok might be bigger, but it and all the other rounds are still dangerious!


By the end of the day, the women leave with a better understanding of shooting.  The women tell me they had fun shooting paper plates on a sheet of cardboard.  I tell ‘em I have fun doing that too!

The following day was a pistol match at my favorite range, Greenport Tactical Association.  We still have a minor flooding problem on one ranger, but the match director was able to work around the swampy parts.

I was lucky.  I got assigned to the squad that wanted to have safe fun.  Almost every stage had to be partially re-pasted and re-started because of gun jams, improperly inserted magazines and the occasional brain fart.   It was fun.

The other squad shot all three ranges and was finished by 11:30 in time for lunch and cake, celebrating 15 years of matches at GTA.  They were nice enough to stick around and tear down their last stage which really helped.

Head shots, Baby!
Some bloggers criticize matches as poor training.  I admit I have a foot in that camp.  I would rather have barricades that require me to shoot from any two different positions with a reload in between than 15 head shot targets.  But I’m willing to accept that the trigger control you have to demonstrate to put a round in 15 five-inch paper plates at varying distances and heights is an important skill.  My strongest objection is to those of us who think a match with paper targets represents reality.  Remember, cardboard doesn’t scatter at the first gunshot and paper targets don’t shoot back.

What else can I say!



Still, the match was great fun and we had cake!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Running Target

The nice thing about rifle night, at least from the activity director (big title for the guy who sets it up), is you do things you’re interested in.  Sometimes it doesn’t have to involve rifles.

At our last rifle night we started by timing in with our pistols at about 5 yards.  Of the six participants, only a few could draw an unconcealed weapon and hit the target center of mass with one round under 2 seconds.  We cycled through the drill a few times and most of us got it under 2 seconds.

We'll shoot these with both pistol and rifle to time in.
We use paper plates as replaceable centers,


We backed up another 5 yards for a total of 10 yards, slung our ARs and repeated the drill.  While we fired three rounds, I was only interested in the time to first round.  To my surprise, despite holding the weapon in the low ready it took most people almost the same time to bring the rifle up and fire as drawing the sidearm and fireing. 

I had them back-up as I thought it would be too easy at 5 yards, just point and pull. 

I made a few observations on timing in:
Several people, drew their pistol and then repositioned their bodies or moved their feet.  This always took extra time.  Learn to shoot with your feet where they are.

Some had trouble with their operating controls.  That includes safeties and sights.  One shooter using a dot sight on his pistol showed improved time simply by switching to iron sights.  He is still in the learning curve of finding the reflex sight’s dot.  A dot sight could be the answer to several age related problems.  There are several ways to shoot a dot sight, including using the entire sight as a giant ghost ring.

Many of us shoot several guns.  Why?  Because we can, but we don’t get the benefit of shooting the same gun over and over again.  Speaking for myself, I suspect we’re having trouble with our sights.  This can be cause by several factors.  We may not be able to see them sharply.  We aren’t bringing up the gun with the front sight visible in the rear, or we’re trying to get the front sight level, even and perfectly symmetrical in the rear sight.  A perfect sight picture will never happen outside of a ransom rest.

Dry firing and practice drawing will help that with all of these.

One of the best local shooters has natural talent.  He really shoots better than any of the other local shooters.  He doesn’t practice, he’s that good.  Watching him you realize he makes no unnecessary motion.  His draw doesn’t look that fast, but his time is.  Again, it’s because he doesn’t waste time with unnecessary motion.  I suspect he has a well developed sense of proprioception, but in any case reducing unnecessary motion will improve your time.


I expected rifle time to be faster since the gun was already out and in your hands, so I was a little surprised it took about the same time.  I suspect since the rifle was heavier than a pistol, with different balance and requires two hands so it took longer to mount the rifle and crack off a round.  The rifle bridges hands, shoulder, eye and target so it may actually be more complicated than shooting a handgun.  Here too, practice would improve performance.

We also ran a reverse Tueller drill.  What’s a Tueller Drill?  The short answer is it demonstrates how fast a person can close on you while you are drawing your sidearm.  You can read more at:

This time we placed the ‘armed’ humanoid target at 21 feet and attacked them with a target on a mover.  It’s a simple system, you pull a rope as fast as you can, the shooter tries to get at least one round off before they are run over by the oncoming target.  By placing the puller behind the shooter, the movement is surprise.

An easy to make mover, the wheels are the most expensive part

The rules were simple.  When the mover starts, you react.  Even with piece of paper on a wood frame, many shooters found it intimidating.  Most of us instinctively moved sideways from the moving target.

We discovered most of us were point shooting as the target was on top of us by the time we fired.   Weapon retention was called for, not sight picture.

Even practicing it several times didn’t drastically change the outcome. 

Because of the layout of the tracks of the mover, all the shooters moved to their left so any misses and shoot throughs hit the ground to the shooters right.  Not only do you need to look at what’s the backstop behind the shooter, but to the left and right. 

We repeated the experiment with the rifles. We moved the shooters back to about 36 feet and discovered the same thing.  It takes longer for a person with a rifle to raise the rifle from the low ready and discharge one round.  Assuming that at least one of the 8 or 9 people shooting was a competent rifleman, this is astonishing.

The drill indicates you can run over 10 yards ( a football first down!) and stab a rifle man before he can get his rifle up and discharge one round.  That’s true for 7 yards with a pistol in a holster.  This implies you need more reactive gap with a rifle than a pistol!


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Match Thoughts

The 1911 .45 ACP is been described as the premiere gun fighting tool to which all others are compared and king of the feed ramp jam.  That is why I don’t carry a 1911 .45ACP.  

But they are fun to shoot.  There are few legal pleasure greater than hammering steel plates with a 1911 .45.

1911 Only
I recently shot a Single Stack Classic at a local range.  Considering the difficulties, it was a great match.  The difficulties?  Recent renovations and a very wet spring and summer have left one range too swampy to use.  But that’s another topic.

.45 ACP match
Everything you could ask for, steel,  hostages and shoot targets


Most of the targets were relatively close, just over 10 yards in distance.  These are distances most of us non-law enforcement and non-combat citizens will find our conflicts limited to.  Still, it’s not a bad idea to assure yourself you can hit at longer distances.  While I don’t expect to slug it out with a rifleman at 100 yards, 20 yards isn’t unreasonable.  Next time you’re at the range see what kind of group you can shoot at 20 yards with your carry gun.


.45 acp match
Weak hand only

The match had a variety of CoF which were at times complex.  For those of us who routinely double tap every target we see as we pie a corner, the instructions could trip you up.  One string required that each target of four targets get one shot before returning to the first target to shoot it a second time.  This was the reef I kept sailing into.

Despite my poor performance, I like it because forcing your mind to step outside your habits is good for the armed citizen.


.45 ACP match
Shoot three targets off each star and knock over the tombstone poper

 Double taps vs boarding house rules (Everyone gets one before seconds)
I once watched Ken Hackathorn demo the timed difference between shooting a double tap on two side-by-side targets or shooting each one once and then a second time.  Both strings resulted in two rounds in the center of mass and the time difference was in the hundreds of a second.  Not enough to affect your survival.

But Ken knew there were only two targets.  What if there were four? Would the time difference become significant?  Would the elapsed time required to giving two rounds to each of three assailants, as compared to one round each, make a difference to a fourth assailant?  One of the question you want to ponder is "Does an armed and wounded assailant become easier to deal with or not?"

What if you didn’t know how many, but suspect more than one assailant?  What if you dropped your reload going out the door and all you had was what’s in your fist? 

I’m suggesting, especially to myself, don’t let ridged concepts involving tactical shooting prevent you from seeing opportunities and potential.


The things you see

Just wrong
Do what you want dude, but that's just wrong.
I’m a little dogmatic on some things.  Extra magazines should be carried weak side, base plate up and bullet tips forward.  Experience has taught me that a second (or third) magazine carried on the strong side has advantages, like when your weak side is jammed against cover and those magazines are blocked.  Still, I ran into a shooter who carried them facing backwards bullet tips down.  You can do whatever you want, but that’s just plain wrong.

Holsters
Kydex holsters
My newest holster   Anyone who doesn't have several holsters for each gun just doesn't get out enough!
I just got new holsters from Ricky’s Holsters.   I got one for my Springfield Champion 1911 in gray Kryptek Kydex as well as a double mag carrier.  They are very cool and Ricky does amazing work.  There is a high level of attention to detail and a deep interest to make sure you get what you want.  I wanted blue rivets and that’s what I got.  I purchased one in black earlier for my Glock with a gun light.  It’s larger than most of his holsters, but it really fits my need.

Translucent holster for Springfield 1911
Translucent!  It really shows off the gun!


My wife is an early adopter (well, maybe not) but she had a holster and double mag carrier made for her Springfield 1911 from transparent kydex. 

Translucent magazine carriers

They are stunning!  It sure answers the question “What’s in your holster?”

Visit Ricky at:

https://www.facebook.com/Rickysholsters/

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Life Preserver

Officer Jeronimo Yanez shot and killed Philando Castile following a traffic stop (http://www.kare11.com/news/yanez-trial-week-2/445870511).  A jury recently found him not guilty.  You’ve probably seen the video taken by Castile’s girlfriend seconds after Castile was shot by Yanez. 

Following the trial which found Officer Yanez not guilty of manslaughter, the St. Anthony’s police released the voice and cam recorded video of the shooting.  In retrospect, the girlfriend’s and police department video make for a unique inside view of the razor edge of stress created in any shooting. I'm sure you can find it on You Tube or at "Breach Bang Clear" http://www.breachbangclear.com/philando-castile-verdict-not-a-victory-for-law-enforcement/ .


I think it’s a bad shooting.  I firmly believe the girlfriend’s videoing and on-line posting kept her alive.  I can’t help wonder if Yanez had wondered if it would be better if nobody survived in the front seat.  But these are just my opinions, a third party internet quarterback.

I can’t help suspect it would have gone better if Castile had handled the stop better. 

I’m not blaming the victim.  The Minnesota’s CCW training may have let him down.  The text I saw of their dialog has Castile attempting to explain he has a license and is carrying concealed.  He starts his explanation too late in the interview and seems to be attempting to follow previously given instructions when he is shot.

I want to tell, recommend, suggest, command you to follow this dialog and behavior as close and as soon as possible in any traffic stop.  It can make a difference between getting shot and getting a ticket.

When stopped, roll down the driver’s window an inch.  Leave your seatbelt on.  If it is night, turn the interior lights on.  In any case, grab the top of the steering wheel with both hands.  This is your life preserver so never let go until you are instructed by the police officer.

Your passengers should be instructed to sit quietly with their hands folded in their laps and resist the urge to:
Scratch,
Inject themselves into the conversation,
Make any movement.
They should respond to questions with the simplest and shortest answer possible.  Be polite, it is free and goes a long way.

The police officer will approach and most will stop behind the car’s pillar or behind you, the driver.  Just look straight out the front window.

As some point the officer will either inform you why you were stopped or ask you do you know why you were stopped.  Answer him with the truth and then add:

“Officer, I have a permit to legally carry a firearm and I am doing so.  How do you want to handle it?”

I strongly urge you to say almost the same thing if you have a license but are not carrying, because your license plate is linked with that information.  The officer will be wondering about your gun status and why you’re not informing him of it.  Say:

“Officer, I have a permit to legally carry a firearm, but I am not doing so.”

Honestly, you will run into wiseass cops who will jerk you around at some point.  Just put up with it with your hands on the steering wheel until he tells you to do something.  Follow his instructions.

I carry on my right side, so my wallet goes into my left rear pocket. Follow that pattern.  The wallet goes on the opposite side as the gun.  Don’t dig for wallet, insurance card, or vehicle registration while you’re waiting for the officer to approach you.  It makes them nervous and increased tension can kill.

When I take the wallet out, I do so slowly, holding it with my finger tips and take it slowly to the steering wheel so it and my hands are highly visible.  Using the wheel for support, I open the wallet, remove what the officer has asked for and place the wallet on the top of the dash.  Hand him the card through the inch opening in your window.

We could go through all the important features, why I leave my seatbelt on, why I don’t make eye contact, why I use the words I do.  It’s pretty simple.  Just remember the first rule of police work:
“The officer gets to go home at the end of his or her shift.”

Anything you can do to assure the person standing on the other side of the window that this rule will remain unflexed and in pristine condition will simplify your encounter with the gatekeeper to the legal system.


Remember, you’re being recorded and you don’t want to be the star of the next don’t-do-it video.   Think about it.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Did You Shoot 'em Too Hard?

What is excessive force?

In combat I suspect it’s waste.  Does it matter if you kill an enemy with three rounds of 5.56X45 or drop a 1000 pound bomb on him?  Dead is dead.  One is a little more (okay, a lot more extreme) than the other.

In self-defense it’s a little different.  Police are authorized to use required force to apprehend someone, but even that has limits.  In Cleveland Dec 2012, following a car chase, the police poured 137 rounds into the stopped car.  "This was now a stop-and-shoot – no longer a chase-and-shoot," County prosecutor McGinty said…. "The law does not allow for a stop-and-shoot."

While the police at the scene felt all that shooting was necessary, the courts seemed to be saying it was excessive and therefor illegal. 

Civilians are required to use equal and proportional force to stop a deadly threat.  It’s the equal part of that equation that gives us the willies.  “What if I’m just a little too short or a little too much?” you ask as if deadly force is like sugar that can be weighed out in advance.  The extremes seem very clear. 

If someone pokes you in the chest with an index finger, shooting him is excessive.  Splashing gasoline on an attacker with a club and setting them on fire will also seem excessive.  And while you may be legally right to shoot someone with ten rounds of .22 LR, I suspect the civil case will suggest that you did not need to use all 10 rounds and that was excessive and you should compensate the survivors.

Now, is this just an internet armchair lawyer blowing steam?  Well, I’ve got a case that’s a little off point, but I think it contains an element of excessiveness.

The case?  State v. Garrison.
Jessie Garrison went to see his sister at her apartment.  Mr. Sharp, the sister’s ex-boyfriend shows up drunk and starts arguing with the sister.  Garrison intervenes and at some point Sharp goes for the gun in his belt.  Sharp is drunk and Garrison is able to remove the gun from the waistband.  At this point Sharp picks up a steak knife and advances, with the knife raised high, on Garrison.  Garrison retreats but finally with the gun he removed from Sharp, shoots him in the left ankle.  Garrison then fires once more and kills Sharp.

The court rejects his self-defense argument on the grounds that Garrison’s act of shooting Sharp was unreasonable.  The trial court felt less drastic alternatives were available to avoid harm.  Especially after shooting Sharp in the ankle. (“Murder and the Reasonable Man” by Cynthia Lee)

Ms. Lee is using this case to help her illustrate her ideas, but I see it a little different.  We don’t know all the specifics and that’s where the devil lives.  But, I believe if Garrison had shot Sharp twice in the chest his self-defense plea would have been better received.  Shooting Sharp in the foot and then in the chest seemed excessive to the judge.

Ms. Lee goes onto to say  “The type and degree of force used by the defendant to ward off the threat may or may not be reasonable depending on the gravity of the threatened harm and whether less deadly alternatives are available…”

It’s worth noting that Ms. Lee is writing an academic publication and may not have given us the entire fact picture.

Still it’s worth observing that the armed citizen needs to use the minimum force required to solve their threat of deadly harm when possible.  This may include changing to hollow points (reduces the number of rounds fired), use normal police calibers (unless you’ve got a good reason like I was hunting bear and it’s all I had when I was attacked), marksmanship (two self-defense rounds are better than seven) and disengage when the threat has stopped.  It might also involve locking ourselves in a bedroom with our sister and calling the police.

We tend to think justified self-defense shootings are like checking off a punch list.  It isn’t.  Courts can be tricky, juries fickle and outcomes uncertain.  It behooves us to understand the devil’s home.


Book Review:  Murder and the Reasonable Man by Cynthia Lee
This book challenged me to think about assumptions and prejudices I have.  You may share some.  Do you believe a black teenager is more dangerous than a white teen?  Does it seem righteous when a man catches his wife in bed with another and kills her on the spot?  Try that last sentence with the genders reversed; the wife catches her husband in bed…

How does gay panic affect your claim to self-defense and does it work for one racial group better than another?  Do police get away with murder?  What can you do to minimize your odds of not being shot by the police?

It’s all there, you just need to read between the lines.  Ms. Lee gives you an academic view of the legal system you will not see on “Law and Order” or from the newspaper.  Our justice system is imperfect and if you intend to protect yourself and your loved ones, you need some understanding of it.

Ms. Lee, according to her bio was an associate of Cooper, White & Cooper in San Francisco, California, where she was a member of the firm's criminal defense practice group.  How many truly innocent people did she work with?  This is not a put down.  It’s been suggested most criminal lawyers seldom deal with innocent people.  You may have to prompt or suggest ideas to your defense counsel to get the best outcome.  The more you know the better prepared you will be for it.


Read her book, it may make your head spin but it will open your eyes.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Shadow Shooting

Ohio Castle law seems to suggest that you can legally shoot anyone who doesn’t belong in your house.  I say “seems” because one, I’m not a lawyer and two, I think the state is waiting for case law to be generated.  Don’t become the poster child for this.

The law is, as the Ohio CCW manual says, rebuttable or not absolute.  If the prosecutor can prove you lured the person in, or they had a right to be present, or that you weren’t in danger, you may be in for an extended vacation at the graybar hotel.

With this in mind, always identify your target.  A gun light is a useful tool, but so is a hand held light.  Other lighting arrangements can be wired so as to illuminate any intruder while you stay in the inky shadows.

Unidentified Target
Is it your son, daughter's boyfriend sneaking out, confused neighbor or VCA?


The Akron Beacon Journal 12 May 2017:  “A 22-year-old woman is expected to survive after her father mistook her for a burglar and shot her, Akron police said.”

The article continues  “...heard someone breaking into his kitchen ... he yelled … no one responded … could see a shadowy figure … assumed it was an intruder … aimed and fired … hit the daughter.”

The daughter was house sitting somewhere else and returned home unexpectedly.  She was transported to Summa’s Akron City Hospital.  No charges have been filed as of press time.  In any case, family get-togethers and holidays will be strained.

All this could have been prevented if Dad had a light.

Forget what your buddies say, what the talk radio guy mumbled on the air, what the internet told you with the following exception:

Always identify the intruder in your house.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Senseless

Drs. Field and Bolanos were in love.  He was anesthesiologist who built-up a pain management practice and she was a pediatric anesthesiologist in Boston.  Together they bought a 1.9 million dollar condo in the prestigious Macallen Building, a posh luxurious building that features a doorman and security card access to the building and elevator.  Being on the 11th floor they thought they would be safe.  Wouldn’t you?

Well, you would dead wrong.  Just like Drs. Field and Bolanos.

At this point we only know about the crime, not the how or why.  At some point Field sent his buddy a text saying a gunman was in the house.  The police received two calls about this, one from the front desk and the other from his friend.  Would you expect your friend to rush over if they received a text that an armed man was in your house?

When the police arrived at the apartment they found Dickless Wonder (No, I’m not going to tell you his name. This blog doesn’t give criminals publicity.) and the two doctors.  They were bound by the hands and had their throats slit.  DW appears to have smeared the walls with blood and ransacked the place for jewelry.

Some reports indicate he had a realistic airsoft gun and the police shot him.  He survived and was arraigned in a hospital bed.

DW in hospital bed.  That's a pretty good eye-fuck he's giving someone.

There’s a lot of unanswered questions.
  • How did he get in?
  • Why did he select these victims?
  • How/why did Richard Field text his friend and not the police?
  • How did the doorman get involved?

There’s a lot of speculation and if it were an episode of Law and Order we’d find out by the end of the hour that one of them hired the DW and it went bad, somehow. 

But here’s the tactical side:
  • Being wealthy doesn’t make you safe.
  • Never assume that doormen and mechanical/electronic locks and safeguards will keep you safe.
  • Know the police will never arrive on time. 
  • If we assume Field was hiding and unable to speak, why not text 911?  It may not be possible in his area.  From the FCC website:

The FCC encourages emergency call centers to begin accepting texts as text providers develop text-to-911 capability, but it is up to each call center to decide the particular method in which to implement and deploy text-to-911 technology

Is it possible from your location?  Will you remember to include your address?  Will you also remember to turn off the keystroke sound? 
  • Never let anyone in your house, apartment, condo, etc. until you’ve identified them and you understand what they want.
  • Never allow yourself to be tied up, taken to another location, or held hostage. 
  • We are tool bearing mammals.  Have the tool you need to fight with on you.  Never give up.



I’m sure as this case develops more will be revealed, but take it as an object lesion.  Be prepared to defend yourself and your loved ones.