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?

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

More Lessons From The Damned

Ray Tensing is in a lot of trouble.  July 19, 2015 while working for the University of Cincinnati police he stopped Sam DuBose.  What should have been an ordinary traffic stop went bad.  Very Bad.  Tensing shot and killed DuBose while he attempted to drive away.

Those seem to be the facts.  There are some questions about exactly what happened, what Tensing thought and what Tensing feared would happen.  They are in trial now to determine the outcome.

Tensing’s body cam has been examined and an expert claims it doesn’t support Tensing’s claim.  Tensing claims his hand was caught in the car as DuBose drove away and he would have been dragged.  Such a dragging could result in serious injury and perhaps death.
 
Powerful stuff.

What’s the lead paragraph in the Akron Beacon Journal and others about this revelation?  Not that the cop cam doesn’t support his claim, but that Tensing was wearing a black shirt with a Confederate flag and the words “Great Smokey Mountains” printed on it.  Kind of paints him as a racist, doesn’t it?

I couldn’t believe that any police force would allow a uniformed officer to discard the uniform top and just wear a tee-shirt while on duty.  A little more digging revealed the department requires a black tee-shirt be worn under the uniform top during the summer.

The shirt was also described by others as the kind you might buy at a souvenir shop.  Also not mentioned in the ABJ article was the shirt also had the numbers 1 9 3 4, the year the Great Smokey Mountains became a national park on it.

Oh!  Doesn’t sound so racist anymore does it?

I’m not here to rag on the ABJ, or on Tensing’s actions.  I want to talk about perceptions.  The jury saw that shirt.  DuBose’s death happened more than a year ago and now it’s at trial.  The prosecutor had a year to work on the case, make connections, try out different fact interpretation and find experts who agreed with his theory. 

That shirt doesn’t help Tensing.  The tragedy of one man killing another isn’t enough.  The news media paints him as a racist, that sells papers.  It is also what the DuBose family wants.  Their father/son/husband/brother/buddy was killed because he’s black, so they claim.  Bigger rewards that way.  (Yeah, I’m that cynical.) 

I’ve said this before; don’t stack the deck against yourself.  Personal ornamentation meant to shock or point out the hypocrisy of society, the clothing statement that you’re a rebel and loose cannon can and will be used against you by the media and the justice system.  Don’t make your defense harder than it has to be.  Beside, do you want your neighbors, co-workers, fellow church members, relatives thinking you were looking for trouble?

My firearms have descriptive names - the second model 66 revolver I bought, not the widow maker.  It’s a Glock 17 with a light, not Zombie Slayer.  I don’t have skulls on my guns, little tombstones, or crossed out stick figures.

Save the statement tee-shirts for the backyard cookout and if you do wear a gun shirt that make sure it says something like “Quality since 1911” or “Proud Sponsors of Make-A-Wish” and not “Mess with me and Die with the Rest.”
 
I had a Springfield Arms shirt that listed all the matches Team Springfield shot in.  That was enough of a statement for me.

PS:

Tensing’s trial is in the hands of the jury, that collective organism with a IQ over 1000, more than 500 years life experience and 12 separate BS detectors, some of which are always working.  I wonder what the outcome will be?

New Flash!
A deadlocked jury results in a formal mistrial for Ray.  But he's not off the block yet.  Prosecutor Deters plans to refile and take Ray back to trial.  Deters wants to move the trial to a new location, I'm assume somewhere he thinks he can get a better outcome.  

Also remember, not guilty is not the same as innocent.

More Lessons From The Damned

Ray Tensing is in a lot of trouble.  July 19, 2015 while working for the University of Cincinnati police he stopped Sam DuBose.  What should have been an ordinary traffic stop went bad.  Very Bad.  Tensing shot and killed DuBose while he attempted to drive away.

Those seem to be the facts.  There are some questions about exactly what happened, what Tensing thought and what Tensing feared would happen.  They are in trial now to determine the outcome.

Tensing’s body cam has been examined and an expert claims it doesn’t support Tensing’s claim.  Tensing claims his hand was caught in the car as DuBose drove away and he would have been dragged.  Such a dragging could result in serious injury and perhaps death.
 
Powerful stuff.

What’s the lead paragraph in the Akron Beacon Journal and others about this revelation?  Not that the cop cam doesn’t support his claim, but that Tensing was wearing a black shirt with a Confederate flag and the words “Great Smokey Mountains” printed on it.  Kind of paints him as a racist, doesn’t it?

I couldn’t believe that any police force would allow a uniformed officer to discard the uniform top and just wear a tee-shirt while on duty.  A little more digging revealed the department requires a black tee-shirt be worn under the uniform top during the summer.

The shirt was also described by others as the kind you might buy at a souvenir shop.  Also not mentioned in the ABJ article was the shirt also had the numbers 1 9 3 4, the year the Great Smokey Mountains became a national park on it.

Oh!  Doesn’t sound so racist anymore does it?

I’m not here to rag on the ABJ, or on Tensing’s actions.  I want to talk about perceptions.  The jury saw that shirt.  DuBose’s death happened more than a year ago and now it’s at trial.  The prosecutor had a year to work on the case, make connections, try out different fact interpretation and find experts who agreed with his theory. 

That shirt doesn’t help Tensing.  The tragedy of one man killing another isn’t enough.  The news media paints him as a racist, that sells papers.  It is also what the DuBose family wants.  Their father/son/husband/brother/buddy was killed because he’s black, so they claim.  Bigger rewards that way.  (Yeah, I’m that cynical.) 

I’ve said this before; don’t stack the deck against yourself.  Personal ornamentation meant to shock or point out the hypocrisy of society, the clothing statement that you’re a rebel and loose cannon can and will be used against you by the media and the justice system.  Don’t make your defense harder than it has to be.  Beside, do you want your neighbors, co-workers, fellow church members, relatives thinking you were looking for trouble?

My firearms have descriptive names - the second model 66 revolver I bought, not the widow maker.  It’s a Glock 17 with a light, not Zombie Slayer.  I don’t have skulls on my guns, little tombstones, or crossed out stick figures.

Save the statement tee-shirts for the backyard cookout and if you do wear a gun shirt that make sure it says something like “Quality since 1911” or “Proud Sponsors of Make-A-Wish” and not “Mess with me and Die with the Rest.”
 
I had a Springfield Arms shirt that listed all the matches Team Springfield shot in.  That was enough of a statement for me.

PS:

Tensing’s trial is in the hands of the jury, that collective organism with a IQ over 1000, more than 500 years life experience and 12 separate BS detectors, some of which are always working.  I wonder what the outcome will be?

New Flash!
A deadlocked jury results in a formal mistrial for Ray.  But he's not off the block yet.  Prosecutor Deters plans to refile and take Ray back to trial.  Deters wants to move the trial to a new location, I'm assume somewhere he thinks he can get a better outcome.  

Also remember, not guilty is not the same as innocent.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Sniper Match

GTA’s sniper/spotter team match was a success.  17 teams of men and women worked through a variety of stages including a boat and shoot house.  A central tenet of my belief system is training and lessons can be found at the heart of all activities if you look for them.  As Yogi Berra said, “You can observe a lot by just watching...” or words to that effect.

What did I learn?

boat sniper stage
Row, row. row your boat, life is but a dream.....

Most snipers used .308 rounds.  A few fired the classic 30-06 round.  One other round was represented, a .243 Winchester.  Let’s unpack this a little. 

Don't confuse the reflection with the real targets...

The .243 is considered an entry level deer hunting round.  A 100 gr bullet typically has a speed of 2960 feet per second.  The Los Angeles SWAT teams used this round in their early years.  I suspect if it will stop a fully grown white tail deer, it will work on a man.  In some countries, civilian ownership of rounds used by the military like .308 is forbidden and the .243 Winchester finds a role as a replacement for the .308.

rifle hogan's alley
Any bright alley for the spotter in all of us!

The .308 was invented in 1952 as a replacement for the .30-06.  It’s not quite the same with the 7.62x51 round but the difference is so minor that SAAMT classifies it as a safe substitute.  One of the reasons the military dropped the .30-06 for the .308 was size and weight.  A 125 gr bullet typically has a velocity of 3100 feet per second.  Following WWII, the need for a more mobile and self-sufficient soldier was apparent.  This hasn’t changed for the soldier, police or deer hunter.  The smaller shell meant more ammo for the same weight.

shooting positions
Sniper take aim...


The .30-06 was a surprise to me.  First invented in 1906 the round is often thought of as a 1000 yard round.  Also known as 7.62x63 the round has gained the reputation for being suitable for any North American game including apex predators like polar bear.  If you’re going for elephant or Cape Town Buffalo, you need a bigger gun.  The .30-06 is reported to be at the upper limit of confortable, recoil manageable round.  The brass case has room to hold more powder, assuming your rifle and shoulder can deal with the increased load, to produce higher performance.

Every sniper I talked to zeroed his or her weapon at 100 yards.  As one deputy sheriff told me,”If I have to shoot farther than 100 yards, it’s a very bad day for everyone.”  Every professional sniper knew their bullet drop at different distances and if time allowed, dialed in the correction into their scope before the stage started.  Only when there is insufficient time do they depend on hold over.
This is very interesting.  At Camp Perry the rifle pop-ups are out to 300 meters and there is no time to dial the correction, so hold over is the order of the day.  I believe that if time allows, dialing in the bullet drop into your scope produces a better, more accurate hit as compared to estimating the hold over.

All the spotters had AR platforms.  Many of the spotters used a bipod as well.  The snipers used bolt guns with limited box magazines and almost without exception used a bipod.  This works well when the paradigm of sniper-equals-fewer-shots is valid.  Previous matches required the sniper to fire 9 rounds in under a minute, making those 3 and 4-round box magazines a disaster.

It should come as no surprise that prone shooting position produces the best results.  Unfortunately, prone is one of the slowest to move in and out off.  Several shooters had trouble shooting from un-orthodox positions, like behind a small cable spool or from inside a culvert.  That’s also not surprising.  Most amateurs don’t have the facilities to practice these positions.


If I had to make recommendations for next year or other matches, I would suggest forming a shooting team at the beginning of the season.  I cannot stress communication drills between sniper and scout, determining actual bullet drop and shooting from unorthodox positions enough.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Sometimes New is Better....

It’s easy to find yourself chasing technology in an effort to have the latest tacti-cool accessory.  This is very apparent with bulls-eye shooters with their constant search for the dot, muzzle brake, oil, barrel, trigger job, or special start up ritual that will shrink their group and add 15 points to their average score.

Nor are IDPA or other action shooting games immune from tungsten guide rods, special sights, dot optics and the rest, all of which are attempting to reduce time and improve score.  Many pistol smiths make a good living selling superior performance.

Step out of the game world and into practical self defense and we’ll find these gismos waiting for us as well.  Some are potentially dangerous.  Trigger jobs that reduce the trigger weight to values not defensible in court, for example.  Some are just misleading like dry oils or dirt repellent lubrication.  Others actually improve your shooting ability and increase your survivability.

Accommodations must be made to age.  I just put Truglo TFX sights on my Glock 17.  The sights glow in the dark thanks to tritium, a slightly radioactive isotope of hydrogen.  The use of plastic light pipes that seem to suck up every extra photon helps me see them at dusk or in dimly lit surroundings.  The increase contrast is just what my old, hard to focus eyes need.

For gun games I wear special glasses, cheaters if you will, that help my eyes focus on my front sight.  Everyone shoots better when they focus on their front sight.  But I can’t really wear them for everyday wear.  Too many things, like traffic control signs, are out of focus.  It is very likely I’ll be wearing my normal prescription glasses when I’m forced to defend myself. 

Therefore, I want sights that will help me line front and rear sights up properly.  Truglo TFX does this for me.  As a chemist I like to test my assumptions, so I shot the Dot Torture target with my normal glasses.  It was noticeably easier to see my sights using the Truglo TFX.  I scored 50 out of 50.  Yes, the sights were a little out of focus, but these were easy to quickly line up.  I recommend them to you.  I have them on my glock .380 too!  They aren’t cheap, but missing or shooting the wrong person in self defense to too expensive not to invest in Truglow TFX sights.

No, it's not a very long slide, it's a function of the closeup camera lens.  Still, rear sights slightly fuzzy and front sight crisp and sharp that's perfection.




The other thing I changed was my Streamlight gun light.

My new Streamlight TLR-1s and my older M-3
This is one time newer is better due to upgraded technology.


Years ago I purchased an M-3 tactical gun light for that same Glock.  It was great.  Press down on the momentary switch with my left thumb and darkness would retreat from me.  I’ve used all the flashlight techniques with different degrees of success and a gun light beats them all.

Even with a gun light you need small tactical flashlight.  Use a hand-held light to illuminate areas you don’t want to point a gun at, but need to see.  I would suggest a light with a lanyard you can slip over the wrist.  You just drop the hand held light and grasp your weapon when you need more grip.
But technology has changed.  LEDs (light emitting diodes) have a higher efficiency and produce more light.  They also sip electricity.

Let’s go head to head:
Property
M-3 Illuminator
TLR-1s Illuminator
Output
80 lumens
300 lumens
Run time
???
2.5 hours
Battery
2 – 3 volt CR123
2 – 3 volt CR123
Focusable lamp
a little
No
Light source
Incandescent bulb
LED
Illumination modes
Locked on and momentary contact
Locked on momentary contact and strobe
Housing
Plastic
Aluminum
Weight
3.1 oz
4.1 oz

With the exception of the focusable lamp and weight, the TLR-is wins hands down. 
I recently was out on the range about an hour before sunset and noticed a clump of trees and bushes.  This little cluster of forest created complete and total darkness beneath it.  Several people could have easily hidden in the shadows.  The M-3 wasn’t bright enough 20 yards from the brush to illuminate shadowy undergrowth.  The TRL-1s did a great job!

My next step is to get a carry holster to fit the Glock and TRL-1s mounted.





Monday, August 22, 2016

Internet Training

At the heart of shooting, You'll find trigger control


The above is Dot Torture by Todd Louis Green.

Dot Torture is designed to help develop trigger control.  You can find many variations of trigger control exercises online.  Google Dot Torture and you will find it.

The instructions are simple.  Stand three yards away from the target and follow the instructions printed on the target.  If you’re paying attention you’ll realize there are no time constraints, just shooting requirements.  I modified dots 6 and 7 from 16 rounds to 8.

Internet rumor has it nobody has shot a perfect score at seven yards.

I’m happy with my results, especially dot 8, weak hand.

Training takes many forms.  Some of the better ones don’t look like training, just fun with your friends.  Almost all training takes 500 rounds.  Well, dry firing takes none, but most do.  You don’t need to fire 500 rounds in one session.  That could be actually counterproductive.  What is usually needed is repetition.  Whether it’s a three note riff or brain surgery, it takes repetition, especially for perishable skills.

Sometime you just have to go out and do the boring activities.  It’s an investment in yourself.  The advantages are obvious.  Reaching levels of unconscious competency frees your mind to deal with the unexpected and the unknowable.  In matches, it lets you concentrate on the stage and not on reloading skills or sight alignment.  In self defense, you can concentrate on the event and not get side-tracked by obtaining proper grip for recoil control.

Using a firearm for self defense will look nothing like an IDPA match.  People will move into and out of your field of vision.  You probably will not be standing still nor will your targets.  There will not be a perfect backstop for errant rounds.  You may not know when it actually starts, putting you behind the curve and you may not know when it ends.  The arrival of the police signals the start of a new phase of fighting for your life.

So go out and practice the boring shit once and a while.  Shoot Dot Torture at four yards when three seems easy.  Try taking a step left or right before each firing each dot.  Look up other drills and spend 15 minutes practicing them.

It’s a truism that there will always be someone better at anything you do on any day.  With practice you could find there are only seven million people better than you.  Or would you rather find out there are seven billion people with better skills?

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Trigger Weight and the Courts

This what they use to measure trigger weight

One topic always in vogue is trigger weight.  Every armchair commando, range rat and lying blogger has not only an opinion, but suspects you are a dupe and a drone if you don’t agree with him.  However, every once and awhile, somebody asks an intelligent question: “How light can a trigger be and still avoid the legal problems that are certain to be present in a self-defense shooting?” 

You know my standard warning.  This is not legal advice, just my limited understanding.

First realize that our legal system resembles theater.  Each attorney presents their view of what reality is.  If it is the prosecutor, the view will oppose the defendant.  If the attorney is representing the defendant, the view will support the defendant.  The judge’s job is to ensure both attorneys follow specific rules and but not to ensure the views reflect reality.

The jury finds which reality is most persuasive with their vote of guilty or not.

In 2014, Massad Ayoob wrote a column and an article for American Handgunner, I’m using this for source material and these are my opinions only. (American Handgunner Sept/Oct 2014, you can read it on line.)

The political and social repercussions of a shooting, especially by the police, are manifold.  Such shootings often erase the fragile truce between the police and the criminal subclass.  The police are required to protect members of this sub-class from each other with their powers to arrest.  Often an officer involved in a shooting will be used as a sacrifice by aspiring politicians attempting to restore that fragile truce and promote themselves.

One case was Florida v. Luis Alvarez, in which prosecutor Janet Reno alleged Officer Alvarez, thumb-cocked his .38 spl service revolver creating a “hair trigger” and was responsible by a predictable and negligent accident for the death of Neville Johnson.  While Alvarez was cleared of these charges, the LAPD of the 1970s, in response to both real unintended discharges as well as falsely alleged claims, altered all their service revolvers to double-action-only (DAO).

Seeing the storm Florida v. Luis Alvarez was about to create, the Miami PD altered all their revolvers to double-action-only in the time between the actual shooting and the beginning of the trial.  Clearly Miami PD wanted to get ahead of the legal storm on the horizon.  It cannot be doubted that cocked “hair trigger” issues had a serious impact on two major American police departments.

Transitioning to semi-autos doesn’t solve the problem, either.  Miami PD only transitioned to the much needed Glock after BATF defined the Glock as a DAO semi-auto.  Like NYPD, they insisted on a heaver than factory trigger, an 8 pound trigger.  NY, as many of you know, worked all the way to the NY-2 trigger, topping out at almost 12 pounds of force needed to discharge the weapon.  In other words, at least two national police departments felt legal ramifications required an officer’s gun to be the equivalent of a heavy, DOA revolver.

In the case of Eddy Satibanes v. City of Tomball, TX a great many things went wrong, but it was the installation of a 3.5 pound trigger connector in the privately-owned, but department-approved Glock 21 that caused Judge Holt to send the case to trial.  At that point Chief Rob Hauck, seeing the handwriting on the wall, settled out of court.  It is estimated the city of Tomball spent over a half million on the 3.5 pound Glock connector.  I suspect the Tomball City now required all officers’ firearms to be at or exceed factory specifications.

So does that mean you must only have factory settings in your defensive weapon set?  If only it was that simple.  In NY v. Magliato, the armed citizen was found guilty of manslaughter when his cocked colt revolver with a 4.5 pound trigger went off unintentionally.  The minority opinion of the judges ruling on this case point out that a gun with a trigger that light constitutes depraved indifference to human life.  Pay attention to the fact that 4.5 pounds was the measured trigger pull on the Glock 21 in the Santibanes case.  A 4.5 pound trigger is considered within the normal range of triggers weigh specified by manufacturers and common custom and practice for 1911s.

In the Magliato case, I suspect the judge felt that cocking the weapon, regardless of trigger pull was unnecessary and contributed to his outrage.   Clearly, location of the incident (anti-gun NY) and the gun (single or double action revolver) involved alter the legal outcome.

So yes, there are criminal cases that turn on the weight of the trigger pull.  I can only imagine the problems the armed citizen would face with his or her limited resources. 

Your claim that you kept your finger along the frame until you were forced to shoot will be countered with the claim that you unknowingly, under severe stress and fear for your life, put your finger in the trigger guard.  Your claim you were forced to shoot will be met with disbelief.  The counterclaim will be offered that if the trigger was just a little heavier, you would not have bumped the trigger and caused the gun to fire.  Your claim that you lightened the trigger so you could shoot more accurately and delay pulling the trigger until the last possible moment will be countered that you put a light trigger in so you could shoot faster and fire more rounds to inflict maximum pain before death.

Which of these realities will the jury believe?

Do I have a recommendation?  Hell, yes.

Stay with factory specifications.  Purchase the tactical/combat model and not the target model if you have the option.

FINGER OFF TRIGGER until you must shoot.  Leave the safety on until your finger enters the trigger guard.  ALWAYS IDENTIFY YOUR TARGET.

If you gun has a decocker, use it.

Don’t muck with the springs.  Have a professional gun smith smooth the action, not lighten the trigger.

Look, as a chemist, I know you can do everything right and still have a negative outcome.  Be careful.