Thursday, January 17, 2019

Watch and Learn

You should be familiar with suicide by cop.  If you are not, it is a term applied to individuals who wish to kill themselves, but for some reason are unable to actually accomplish it.  They attack an LEO forcing the officer to shoot in self-defense.  This should not be taken to mean these potential suicides can be ignored as dangerous only to themselves.  Suicide is rage turned inward.  It can snap outward at any second.

A variation of this applies to CCW.   While I don’t think anyone can find an example yet, it is not unreasonable that a person might force a confrontation with an armed citizen to commit suicide.
Police body cameras give us some insight to the process.  Check the video. 

Two Minneapolis police officers shot and killed an armed suspect in Minnesota

Here the suicide is armed with a knife, but guns are common.  He taunts the officer to “Do it” while making short steps and false charges.  These are the equivalent to hesitation cuts.  He is hoping to get an immediate and fatal response from the officer.  Part of this ritual is to work up the courage to take the final steps of attacking the officer and forcing his own death.

Questions about why a Taser or a bean bag round wasn’t used is usually brought up by the family.  It’s part of their grieving process leading to accepting the family member’s suicide.  These questions need to be answered prior to pulling your weapon as part of your training and department policy.

For the civilian the questions raised might be, “Why didn’t you run away?” or “Couldn’t you kick the knife out of his hand like Jack Reacher does?”  Again you should have answers to these question before you go out the door.

Review the tape again.  Did the officer try to have the optimal backstop?  One report suggested 11 rounds were fired, but only three struck the suicide.  Where did those other rounds go?  This should be a concern to you.

Turn this around and place yourself in the neighboring houses.  On hearing people yelling to drop the knife, or put your hands up you need to move to the back of your house and not head to the window to catch the action on video.  Nor do you, unless extremely dire circumstances demand it, head out the door in an attempt to assist the officers or armed citizen.  That’s just so much bad ju-ju.

After they stopped the man, the officers handcuffed and then rendered medical assistance but as armed citizen, we do not have that obligation.  Remain at a distance, using both cover and concealment appropriate to the situation.  Our human nature demands we call for medical and police assistance. 

Calling out and asking if anyone else needs medical attention is an excellent idea on several levels.  I’ve discussed this in other blogs.  Let me just ask, who typically calls for the police and medical aid following a shooting?  The good or bad guy?

Lastly let me remind you that neither police officer wanted to shoot this person.  They both knew they were being played, but they had no option but to do the best they could.  They will both suffer emotionally from this and it may affect their careers and home life.  It’s not like TV when a death a week doesn’t faze anyone.  The armed citizen will find himself in a similar spiderhole with no apparent way out.  The good news is there is professional help for our side of the victim equation.  

Spend some time studying this tape.  You see it from both officers’ video cameras and well as hear the dialog.  Watch the gun handling and the officer’s movements relative to the suicide.  

Watch and learn.

 More:   //

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Yule Message

Merry Christmas!

I love those nature programs.  Watching this desert lizard that keeps lifting a different foot to avoid the hot sand set to music is hysterical.  But it’s the predators I find amazing.

Most of the day, predators are sleeping or walking round looking for opportunities.  Some are pack members so they have to spend time maintaining gang status, while others are solo creatures.  It’s their difference and sameness that makes them interesting.

The solo predator often needs to do an interview to establish the hunter/victim order.  Maybe you’ve seen the mountain lion checking out a badger.  They just kind of sniff at each other and then the badger suddenly lunges at the cat, biting its nose, clawing at the cat’s face and quite unexpectantly the mountain lion decides there is an easier lunch somewhere else.

That’s an instinctual decision-making process of weighing food value and availability against hunger and potential damage.  It’s a question of who is actually lunch and who’s the top predator at the moment.

Pack animals will do this too.  The pack will surround a herd and attempt to spook them.  In some cases the predator will discover a “mule kick” to the face from a zebra means the diner bell hasn’t rung yet.  In other cases the herd panics and leaves the old, injured and inexperienced behind.

Often there is an “interview” to size up the relationship between prey and predator.  Sort of an ‘accidental’ bump to see what the response is.  I once saw a cartoon where a lion comes upon some small furry ball of protein eating grass.  Unsure he hesitantly reaches out and touches it.  The little fuzz ball whirls about metamorphosing into some creature composed of spikes, knives, a chain gun, several pistols, claws and spiked chains.  The last panel show the little guy back grazing.

This is a legitimate concern to all predators.  They may be king of this block, but not so much two streets over.

You’re thinking this is a weird Christmas/New Year’s post and you may be correct.  But I’ll get to the point.

These relationships between you and predators remain the same despite the holiday season.  In fact, it may be worse. 

We travel in some of our best clothing with jewelry and other decorations visible presenting a higher target profile.  Who would you rob- some guy in faded Carhartt jacket, worn leather shoes wearing a paint-splattered Timex watch and talking on a flip phone, or the guy with a knee length leather coat with black wing tip shoes, wearing a Breitling wrist watch talking on an i-phone?

During the holidays, actually all the time, practice a little tactical mimicry.  Zebra’s stripes help them blend into the brush and confuse a predator when they bolt for escape.

Don’t wear your best out without giving it some thought.  Excuse yourself and in the safety of the bathroom stall or destination, slip the watch, gold krugerrand ring or necklace out of your pocket and put them on.  The diamond studs can go on now and you can safely check whatever you need to see on your i-phone.  Reverse the order for departure.

Be boring in public.  Ordinary.

True story.
I was in Hyde Park, London years ago carrying two 35mm film cameras.  I stopped to sit a bench to take a break.  Four Bobbies descended on me.  A journalist had a camera stolen at a press event nearby.  I looked out of the ordinary and they wanted to know everything about me.  Despite the fact I had the serial numbers recorded in my passport locked in the hotel safe and offered to take them there and show them the numbers, I was just too interesting to ignore.  Even after it was confirmed that the stolen camera didn’t match any of mine, the police just couldn’t believe I wasn’t up to something.  I guess two cameras and not being in a Japanese tour group was outside their experience.

My mistake was not being invisible.

I don’t have to tell you to be aware of people, things and your surroundings.  When you’re distracted thinking about what you need to do to get Aunt Mime’s approval, did you remember your boss’s mother’s holiday greeting card, and is a half-gallon of scotch enough, you are even more vulnerable.

Keep your basic tools available – knife, gun and flashlight.  Have a plan and a back-up plan discussed with family members and try to ignore all the non-important things screaming for your attention, so you can focus on family and loved friends.

I want all of us to have a great holiday, no matter the celebration: Christmas, Hanukkah, Boxing Day, Yule, the Roman Satunalia or simply New Year’s.  Stay aware, Stay safe and Keep your wits about yourself and we can all look forward to another year together.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Stocking Stuffers

Tactical is an overused word.

Paint it black, write tactical on the label and you can charge at least double for it.  And some mall commando will buy it.

I’m often reminded of the warning given by the State Department, companies and travel agencies to people traveling in foreign and potentially dangerous destinations like Beirut, Rome and New York.  Be boring they say.  Don’t travel in your best and newest clothing.  Wear worn shoes, an older simple watch and older comfortable clothing.  The newest iPhone may be trivial to you at home, but it marks you as a rich target in Romania.

So I see function of tactical as blending in.  I want to approach the idea of items we consider necessary or tactical as things that don’t call attention to you.  To paraphrase Patrick Swayze in “Road House” be unnoticed until it’s time to be noticed.

So here’s a few Christmas stocking stuffers that don’t scream Ninja Tactical Warrior.

Photon Micro-light II
Makes a great zipper pull or hideaway light. 

CRKT Minimalist neck knife
Wear it under your shirt or sweater and it’s invisible.  It’s also pocket friendly in a variety of ways. 

Streamlight Microstream
Powered by a single ubiquitous AAA battery you can wear this clipped several places.  I wear mine clipped to my shirt by my open collar.  The clip lets you turn it into a hat light when you need both hands free.

S&W Delta Force CS Flashlight
This one almost didn’t make the list, because of the name.  But the higher output powered by a CR123 battery and the crenulated bezel won the day.  More light and a way of collecting DNA too!

Spyderco Delica folding knife
Delicas are almost as common as mosquitos in summer.  Nobody notices them.  Get the partially serrated blade.  Serrations cut like nobody’s business even when they are dull. 

DMT Ceramic and Carbide sharpener
I don’t like pull-through sharpeners with fixed angles, but with both course and fine in a 3 inch bar this will get you sharp when you need to be.

Southern Specialties Folding Pocket Set 7P
It’s a small lightweight lock pick kit built on a folding knife frame complete with tension rod.  It comes in black, gray and pink.  It will draw attention to you when you use it, but it’s small and hides in a pocket or a sock top.

CAT Tourniquet
There’s a lot of cheap ones out there, so get a good one as life is on the line when you need one.  They are small and fit in a jacket or pants pocket. 

Timex Analog Wrist watch
It tells time, has a sweep second hand and a window with the date in it.  What else do you really need a watch for?  If I was traveling in New York City, that’s what I would be wearing after I scuffed the band a bit.

Zippo Typhoon Match Kit
I never understood why I needed the ability to make fire in my urban environment.  It’s not that I’ll escape to some abandoned building and need to make a fire for light or warmth.  I’m not sure I’d want to advertise my presence or lose my night vision sitting around a fire fueled by broken furniture.  Still, fire is one of those universals tools we never want to be without.   The country traveler is another story.  Shelter could be a slanted rock wall and fire a way of being found.

Opinel locking knife
It doesn’t get much simpler.  It’s a kitchen utility knife with a metal blade in a wooden handle.  Open the blade and twist the metal collar until the blade is blocked from folding.  It’s almost a foolproof way of turning a folder into a fixed blade.  Get the plastic handle as it doesn’t absorb water and swell like wood.

All Weather Rite in the Rain
These notebooks come in a variety sizes from soft cover 48 page booklets to hard cover 8 by 11 notebooks.  I’d pair that up with a Fisher space pen.  Try the black finished Bullet Pen.  It’s small and easy, perfect for sitting in the rain recording comings and goings or making a grocery list.

Timberline Lightfoot Combat Pen
I never needed to stab someone with a pen, but I’m not you.  It has nice lines and your co-workers won’t think you’re Jason Bourne.

Victorinox Tinker
Everyone needs a Swiss Army knife.  I’d suggest the Tinker with bottle and can opener, two blades and screwdrivers.  TSA will not let you carry it on board, but nobody else will think twice about it.  Replace the toothpick with a firestarter rod from Tortoise and that’s one hell of a tool.

So there’s my list.  These things can give you the edge without calling attention to yourself.  

Friday, November 30, 2018

Christmas Reading

Okay.  You are ready.  Right?

You’ve taken a course or two.  You shoot a match once in a while and make it out to the range at least once every two weeks.  You carry your gun in a quality holster in condition one.  You have a spare magazine and a tactical flash light, just in case.  And of course you have your CCW.

You’re set.  Right?

You know the mechanics of the draw, the reload, how to pie a door way, but how about we put a little extra between the ears?  Self-defense is as much a mental activity as it is a physical activity.  Understanding your environment, both the physical and the legal one will help you survive. 

Here’s a little candy for the frontal lobes. 

Left of Bang   by Patrick Van Horne and Jason A. Riley
This will help you understand the actions and situations around you.  You may not be in a war zone, but recognizing the cultural signals people give off is always a useful tool.

Gift of Fear  Gavin de Becker
We’ve read these stories, maybe even experienced them.  The guy on the elevator doesn’t look right, or you don’t like the increased nervous pacing the panhandler is suddenly doing.  That’s your years of life experience talking to you.  Find out more about this and what to do.

Jeff Cooper was a controversial person.  But his ideas about self-defense are spot on.  By the way, he never once talks about firearms in this publication.  Find out why it’s a bedside reader for many people.

In the Gravest Extreme  Massad Ayoob
This is the gold standard of legal self-defense.  Massad Ayoob is readable, personal and needs to be understood by anyone who anticipates defending oneself or others.

Law of Self Defense  Andrew F. Branca
After your read Ayoob, read this.  It is at times, a little densely packed.  Stick with it.  The law can be your friend, if you understand it.  This will help.

Newhall Shooting – A Tactical Analysis  Mike Wood
People make mistakes and die from them.  Learn from them to avoid similar mistakes and bad habits.

Contemporary Knife Targeting  Christopher Grosz and Mike Janich
It isn’t likely you need to silently kill a sentry, but knowing why a knife attack can be so deadly could be your legal ace-in-the–hole.  We’ll always go places you can take a knife but not a gun.  Just saying……

Any others?

Yes, but you need to do your own voyage of exploration.   Anyone can publish a book.  Anyone can make a video, post a website.  You need to step over the horse apples and author ego and find core truths.  And you do that by starting with nationally and internationally acknowledged experts and read what they have to say.  Does it match your actual experience?  It probably will.  When you understand them you can begin to evaluate the blogs you read, the books you read and the instructors in front of you.

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.............