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.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Random reflections

I recently spent a few fun hours re-checking my zero with a newish load for my AR.  I also took the time to set up my chronograph.  While I wish I had the ability to shoot targets at 50, 100, 150 and 200 yards, it isn’t very feasible.  The next best option is ballistic software.  If I have all the important parameters, the software can calculate my impact displacement at different distances.  Since the majority of times I’m interested in hitting a 12x12 inch plate no farther than 200 yards the important parameters are, bullet weight, muzzle velocity (hence the chronograph), Ballistic Coefficient (manufacturer’s website) and distanced zeroed as well as scope height over the center of the bore.  These are all pretty easy to get.

I didn’t really expect anything to change much.  I altered my windage slightly and was good to go.  The really important things I got out of checking my zero was time practicing the perfect trigger pull and confirmation nothing was loose on my rifle.  I know and believe that if I do my part, the rifle would live up to its side of the partnership.  You can’t buy confidence like that.

There’s a good reason to shoot matches on sunny, sweat-dropping, hot, windless days.  It has to do with discipline.   No, no, not Madame Fifi’s discipline, but the ability to stay focused on the task at hand.

There is a cycle of discipline with matches.  In a good club level match, all the shooters take turns, shooting, scoring, patching, running the stage and acting as safety officer for each other.  Some portions of the stage are very important, like shooting the weapon.  Some are extremely critical like assuring nobody is downrange at the beginning of the stage.  Others are less important and of no critical nature like patching the target.
Mastering the ability to change your focus and concentration will benefit you in many ways.  Changing focus quickly as conditions change is a useful skill.  Knowing you have these abilities is a large percentage of accomplishing this.

There is still a lot of excitement over the mass shooting at the Orlando nightclub, Pulse.  Unless you live on your very own cloud nine world, you know that a Dickless Wonder shot up a gay nightclub, killing 49 and wounding 53.  The police arrive on the scene and attempt to negotiate with Dickless who, now that he has an audience, pledges allegiance to ISIS and talks about putting hostages into bomb vests.  It’s hard to criticize the police under those circumstances, but I will anyway.  They appear to have fallen into the trap of believing Dickless Wonder wanted to survive the event.  That’s the old hostage model. 

In the old model, the guy with the gun wants something, maybe to shoot his ex-wife, or maybe he wants a good ham sandwich and media attention.  But above all he wants to live through it and get away or at least become the darling of the media.  This wasn’t always true, but the old model worked well enough most of the time.

The new model appears to be way different.  Dickless wants to kill enough people to get a seat on the national media stage and set a new record.  He wants people to say “Not since Dickless, has anyone achieved higher level of mayhem and violence.”  He’s not especially interested in surviving, as long as he can continue to kill at his leisure.

What this means for us is that we can’t depend on the police to rescue us.  It’s up to us to know where are the exits, both the official and unofficial (like the kitchen’s back door).  In Ohio, I can carry into an establishment serving alcohol if I don’t drink.  That’s a small price to pay.  It doesn’t take advanced legal training to know if someone is killing random, unarmed individuals, the law allows you to stop him anyway you can.  Your humanity demands it.

One of my favorite websites kind of suggested that having a low capacity, hard to shoot, small caliber handgun is pretty useless in these circumstances.

as well as the video tape of the execution of Paris police officer Ahmed Merabet following the Charlie Hebdo shooting and the security tape from a bar during the November 2015 attack in Paris have lead me to a different conclusion.

What’s the worst that could happen if you emptied your 5 shot airweight revolver at any of these criminals?

Imagine you leaned out your window and fire two rounds at one of Officer Merabet killers and three at the other before they executed him.  I think they would have thought “Damn, someone is trying to kill me, we better beat feet!”

The guy with the AK in the bar and grill during the Nov 15 Paris terrorist attack, what do you think would have happened if the guy hiding behind the bar dumped three rounds at him and maybe even skipped one off of him?  The terrorist may have opened up on the empty bar, but he might have also thought “Damn they’re shooting back.  Nobody said they would shoot back.  Do I still get 72 virgins if I'm wounded and my leader shoots me instead of patching and packing me out?”

Dickless in Orlando wasn’t a very good shot.  One survivor reported on NPR he was shot twice in the leg, played dead and was later shot two more time in the arm and hand by Dickless who was aiming for his victim’s head.  I have to think if some popped off with a little .22 caliber semi auto with five rounds in it and managed to scare Dickless, Orlando would have turned out with fewer deaths.

What am I saying?  When someone is killing people around you, don’t wait for your turn.  Take the initiative and fight back!

Monday, May 30, 2016


“All right class, who knows what this is?”  Ms. Fishburn said while holding up a single sock. 

Not holster
Class?  Who knows what this is and when it was washed last?

“It’s a foot holster, Ms. Fishburn.”  Susy said.

“Okay… anyone else?  Jimmy?” 

“It’s what misers keep money in.  I know because momma said my dad has some money socked away that nobody knows about.” 

Ms. Fishburn decided she wasn’t going to explore that.  Then she saw Billy trying to flag her down.  With a certain amount of hesitation she said, “Yes Billy?”

“My grandfather says he used to put a condom in that to make an emergency water carrier when he was in the army.”  That was the reason for Fishburn’s hesitation.

“But what else is it?  Anyone?”

“It’s for feet, Ms. Fishburn,”  said Jilly Ann.  “It’s a sock, they usually come in pairs and you put a foot in each.  Not a gun like that moron in Augusta, Kansas.”

“That pretty observant, Jilly.  Where do you put gun when you’re carrying it?”

“In a holster!”  Jimmy butted in before Jilly Ann could answer.  “Everyone knows that!”  The rest of the class made agreement noises.

Ms. Fishburn looked around the class room and nodded in satisfaction.  “You kids are going to do all right.”  Then to herself, “Now if we can just do something about the morons who get all their training from TV….”

Just to be clear, some dickless wonder, jammed a Kel-Tec .380 semi-auto in his sock and went to the high school graduation in Augusta, Kansas.  At some point he decided to readjust the gun and managed to pull the trigger.  He takes a little skin off his foot, but the ricochet manages to find an innocent bystander and injures her.  Fortunately for her, she isn’t injured too bad and is released from the hospital.

The gun went off because DW manages to pull the trigger.  A carry gun should never be just dumped in a pocket, purse or sock.  Why?  Because these things happen.  Stuff, your stuff to be accurate, manages to find triggers or lodges in the barrel and this happens.

Carry guns belong in holsters, or safely secured off your person.

In review:
This is a foot in a sock.

Can I make it any clearer?

This is a gun in a holster made for that specific gun.  It’s secured on the ankle and covered by the sock.  It is not a gun in a sock.
The sock is pulled down a little so you can see the holster.

Now I know you saw Clint Eastwood in the first Dirty Harry movie.  And I know many of you figure you have the man gene that Dirty Harry had and all your training and ideas come from that movie.  You even know his trade mark phrase.

Now Harry Callahan doesn’t jam a gun in his sock.  No, he tapes a switchblade to his ankle and covers it with his sock.
That’s the movies and not real life.  Use a holster.  

Don’t be a genitalia diminished wonder. 

Saturday, May 7, 2016


Tactics involves the study of conflicts and outcomes.  From these outcomes new doctrines arise in the effort to avoid the original outcome.  While we may never be faced with ten thousand sword-bearing warriors charging up a narrow valley at us, the doctrine of controlling pinch points remains valid.

Here a case brought to us from

Last Sunday (April 24 2016) in Pennsylvania, 46 year old Mark Storms shot and killed a 27 year old man over a dispute about a seat. Earlier this week, Storms was charged with voluntary manslaughter.
Summary from the above link:
Witnesses remember Braxton arriving at church irritated and cursing at an usher in the back of the church, court documents show. Church staff members tried to quiet Braxton, but he refused before heading to a pew that was reserved for two other church members, according to prosecutors.

A church member sitting behind Braxton tapped him on the shoulder to let him know the seats were reserved. Another couple put down two Bibles to save their spots before walking away. Braxton retorted the tap and starting yelling “Don’t f—— touch me!” an affidavit reads.

An assistant pastor and ushers came over to try and calm Braxton, but he continued to yell, records show.

In interviews with police, witnesses watched Storms walk over to Braxton, show him a badge and motion to a handgun under his shirt. The badge, police said, was for his concealed carry permit. Braxton exchanged words with Storms before punching him in the jaw. Storms then pulled out his gun and fired two shots, according to witnesses.
One person said Braxton lunged at Storms before the shooting. Another recalled hearing Braxton ask Storms “What are you going to do, shoot me?” before punching him, court documents show.
Storms, in an interview with police, said he opened fire on Braxton because he felt his “person was in great danger” and that he was worried other people in the church, including the elderly and children, were going to be hurt. Storms told police he showed off the concealed carry badge with hopes of defusing the situation.  He said, according to court documents, he had done that in the past and that man “walked away.

Let me add a little background before I jump into it.  It’s legal in Pennsylvania to carry a firearm in a church with a CCW license.  A concealed carry badge is not part of the law or a requirement.   Mark Storms does not have a law enforcement connection, such as deputy, game warden or dog catcher.  Nor does he have any official capacity with the church.

First…I don’t even write radio commercials for lawyers….  I am a student of the gun and teach CCW as well as firearms self-defense.

I associate civilians carrying and flashing badges, shields and buzzers with child molesters.  So do many police.  So it’s stupid to have one.  Period.  I don’t even like the SASS stars cowboy shooters like to wear….

Having a CCW license doesn’t give you police-like responsibilities or authority.  When Storms approached, flashed his badge and brandished his weapon he escalated what was at the time a minor conflict.  This conflict could have been handled much better if anyone had pulled out their cell phone and called the trained professionals, the police.

While Braxton threw the first punch, it hardly fits the parameter of deadly force.  Braxton’s punching Storms was a direct result of the escalation caused by Storms.  The fight seems to have stopped and Storms still had the option to back away.  Instead, he produced the weapon he had previously brandished and shot Braxton.

Part of Storms justification was that he was “worried other people in the church, including the elderly and children, were going to be hurt.”  The article does not mention Braxton having any other weapon other than his body.  Additional follow up indicated that he was unarmed.  One should never confuse unarmed with not dangerous.  I assume other adult men were present and so it doesn’t seem likely that Braxton could have hurt anyone before being restrained or at that point engaged by Storms.  Storms’ story sounds like bullshit to me.

He later confided to the police that he had done this before and had gotten away with it.  This paints Storms as a bully and a wanna-be police officer, interested in the power, but not the responsibility.  Neither of which will engender him to the police.  Nor should it to the civilian (AKA jury pool) population.

This is another story of having only one tool to solve problems.  Not having verbal skills, Storms attempted to bully Braton with a phony badge and concealed weapon.  Not having a less lethal option (OC spray, open/closed hand skills), Storms fell back on the only skill he had, trigger pulls.

Voluntary manslaughter sounds fair….Storms is the perfect poster child for stupid.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Random BS

A discussion with an LEO about the job came around to militias.  One only has to look at the upper Michigan peninsula and Idaho to realize there are a lot of serious people meeting, training and stockpiling.   I understand some of what motivates them. 

People are concerned about the well being of America.  Some feel the government isn’t leading and isn’t protecting the interests of the ordinary citizen.  So, into that vacuum you have people and organizations advocating a spectrum of self reliance and preparation.  Even some of the fun shoots I attend are structured to give the self-reliant shooter a chance to try different rifle positions, practice different tactics, or polish skills.  There are a lot of good people just want to do something to help.

One not uncommon topic in the blog-o-sphere is your role during a violent terrorist attack.  It’s an open sore I can’t resist picking at.

In this vein I ran across the term ‘citizen defender’.  You may be one of many wondering “what-the-fuck-is-going-on” or less friendly “I-better-get-my-head-down” during an attack.  Now what should you do?    I don’t think anyone has all the answers.  Not me, not Massad Ayoob, not the guy or gal running a training class at your range.  The best I can suggest is practice often, give some thought to how you want to react in the attacks we read about, and have the equipment you need on hand.

I overheard the open-carry crowd talking among themselves.  It was interesting.  Open carry might be the poster child for “Things that are legal, but shouldn’t be done.”  With the advent of CCW in Ohio, I see no reason to invoke a law designed to allow hunters to walk down the road to the next field.

What struck me as interesting is they remind me of high school boys keeping score of who got to what base with which girl.  Is there any significance to open carrying in a Wal-Mart?  What about the 23rd First National Bank of Butkiss?  How does that strike a blow for freedom and justice?  It’s not like you just depth charged a Sinaloa Cartel submarine filled with drugs.

One of the better responses to negating open carry is the question “In the split second you open carry into a building, how does the police or other CCWers know you are not a terrorist who need to be DRT?”  I don’t have an answer.  More poster children for STUPID.

My last soapbox is personal first aid kits.   Read Samuel Hayes at

I’m big on personal blow-out kits.  The product from Dark Angel Medical looks interesting, but you can make your own.  Quik-clot, combat tourniquets, compression bandages and disposable gloves are available and can be assembled into zip lock bags and with home vacuum sealers you can custom fit the package.  There are some great 4 hour courses that will teach you the basics of stopping bleeding and keeping an airway open.

If you subscribe to the citizen defender concept then you must also accept your role as the citizen responder as well.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Car Gun

Do you need a car gun? 

I think my first exposure to the idea of a car gun was the spy-film satire “The President’s Analyst.”  James Coburn plays the role of the president’s wig picker, who becomes the target of several organizations wanting to know the president’s secrets.  Go see the movie for yourself.

Coburn finds temporary refuge with a middle class family who keep a gun in the shower as well as the car.

Do you need a gun, either pistol or long gun, permanently installed in your vehicle?  There are some advantages.  A back up weapon makes sense.  It can be given to a responsible individual during a crisis.  A long gun like an AR or AK drastically increases your fire power, range and potential stopping power.   Mounted with a light and 1.5 to 4x scope, a long gun gives you quite a leg up in many dire circumstances.  Twenty rounds of 7.6x39mm in the rifle can be quite an equalizer for the man or woman on their own.

The downside is you got to be able to get to your gun.  The civilian might find it difficult to extricate themselves, recover the gun, pistol or long, and get back into the fight fast enough to help stabilize the problem until the professionals arrive.  Trying to reenter and reengage could get you shot.  There is no good guy halo visible to the police or other armed citizen.

Police and security agents have a similar problem.  If they know the encounter they are about to engage requires additional firepower, they should take the time to access it.  But suddenly taking fire from a paranoid drug dealer who suddenly opens up with a high power, high capacity weapon may not give them the time to retrieve a better weapon.  Still, there are some strategies like vertical gun mounts.  These racks, like any other tool of the trade, require constant training and skill maintenance.    As an outsider looking into the profession, I would find it comforting to know if I bail out of my car after taking rounds, I automatically took my rifle.

Both police and civilians have similar problems of theft.  Police are always suspected of having additional firearms in the trunk.  They even promote the awareness.

Depending on how much your lips flap and how you’ve secured a gun in your car, this information will become known as well.  Even the knowledge that you are a shooter will target your vehicle to anyone who fantasizes about stealing a gun from your parked car.

A gun secured in a locked box in the vehicle or a long gun mounted in the vehicle becomes an attractive target to anyone who spots it.  You can increase the level of containment to a point where the gun is locked in a half inch thick steel cocoon welded to the car frame and requiring both a special key and a 27 digit alpha-numeric code to be entered to unlock the weapon, but that kind of defeats the purpose of ready access.

If you should have an accident, or suffer the misfortune of a vehicle fire would this be a problem to the bystanders and rescue crews?

While ammunition in a magazine or storage box doesn’t pose a hazard, the round in the chamber can cook off in a fire and endanger anyone up range of the muzzle.  A recent article by another blogger suggests that the powder in modern cartridges does not cook off at temperatures under 500F.  So high summer temperatures are not a problem, maybe.  While I believe the stability of the round is valid, the question asked was at what temperature does the powder auto ignite, not how does the propellant degrade over time at elevated temperatures?  Like rotating tires, I’d switch out and use up ammo at the beginning, middle and end of the hot weather season.

So the car gun answer depends on your circumstances.

I’d recommend that police carry a backup long gun, one for each officer, carried in condition three (loaded magazine in place, empty chamber, decocked).  The gun comes out at the end of the shift and is placed into storage at the end of each shift.  Yeah, I know it means more equipment and training as well as constant supervision.  Negligent discharges will occur and facilities must be in place to deal with this.  (Not that I’d be asked for a recommendation.)

What about the armed or should I say unarmed citizen?  The safest place to carry is on your person where you have control over the weapon.  No boxes need to be opened, unlocked, rear seat accessed or trunks opened.  Most of us aren’t going to find ourselves in a drug cartel shootout or jumped by escaped and well armed prisoners who need our car and have terminal plans for us.  But if you decide to squirrel away a gun, hand or long, I suggest you make it semi-permanent and take steps to protect it. 

But having said all this, I have a friend whose brother once owned a boat in southern Florida.  The brother claimed narco-criminals would pirate a boat off the coast, dump your bodies and drive the soon-to-be-abandoned boat on shore with a drug delivery.  The response by boat owners was to store an illegally converted a full auto AK and high capacity magazines on board.  This may just be a great beer story or insight to the war on drugs.