Friday, June 28, 2013

Farnam on the Opening of the Zimmerman Trial

John Farnam is one of several firearm trainers I have had the good fortune to train under.  He routinely publishes his observations on the firearms community as well those acts and things that impact us.  Either he or I are growing more insightful as I find his comments interesting and on target.

He is, as are many of us, watching the Zimmerman trial through the distorting lens of the new media.  I found his initial observations different enough from my own to ask him if I could republish them here.  John was nice enough to green light my request.

I’ll let John speak in his own words:

Anti-Gun Prosecutors:

I do not currently have an opinion on the Zimmerman Case, now being  prosecuted in FL, but it is curious that, in his opening arguments, the prosecutor brutally vilified the practice of citizens going armed, even though the  practice is perfectly legal.

 He made a big deal about the fact that, at the time and place of the incident in question, Zimmerman was carrying two flashlights and a pistol that was "fully loaded."  Both of these activities were, as noted, perfectly legal,and most will agree, perfectly reasonable for someone with a security function performing his duties at night.

What is most disturbing is that this anti-gun prosecutor seems to be making the case that the only proper role for a citizen is that of victim.  Being a "good little victim" is apparently the only correct aspiration for any citizen.

I suspect that any species of personal precaution, no matter how reasonable or sensible, would be cynically reviled by this prosecutor, and many others.  He even censures the practice of carrying a flashlight at night!

  All of us need to be prepared for this kind of vile, unjust criticism when anything we do garners the attention of the media, or the criminal justice system.  To many of them, our lives and personal safety
mean nothing!

Comments anyone?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Watch Your Mouth!

What’s the most important thing an instructor can tell a student about self-defense?

  •          Finger off trigger until you decide to shoot.
  •          Lethal force is always a last resort.
  •          Having a tool on you is better than having the latest super tool at home.

So forth…..

The list is quite lengthy and it’s hard to Letterman a Top Ten list from all the good one liners.  But I’m sure watching your language would be somewhere near the bottom of the reject pile.  But between 9-1-1 tapes and the ubiquitous cell phone videos, your words as well as your actions can come back to bite you. 

For example:

George Zimmerman is on trial for shooting Trayvon Martin in Florida.  Was it self-defense or vigilantism gone bad?  No matter, it’s a circus and it deserves study.

The prosecutor started his case painting a verbal picture.  It’s a good move.  All good lawyers know court is theater and bad reviews can land you on death row.   

He faces the jury and says “…F*****g punks...”  He’s repeating what Zimmerman told the non-emergency police dispatcher.  “These a@@holes always get away.”  The prosecutor doesn’t claim Zimmerman used these same words to Martin prior to the shooting.

There will be someone on that jury and yours too (if it comes to that) who thinks the word a@@hole is the language of the uneducated, the uncouth and an indicator of a guilty mind and damned soul.  That’s a lot of bad reviews for your lawyer to overcome.  And even if he does explain it away, the impression remains.

Don’t use language you would not use to Mother Superior in church. 

Hit your finger with a hammer?  Cut yourself picking up broken glass?  Slip and ruin a project you’ve invested a lot of time?  

Okay fine.  Call it a nasty name because it’s an inanimate object and not a person.

Why use that language anyway?  It doesn’t do what you want it to.  The police won’t think you’re hip, cool and one of them. The criminal won’t be impressed with your street smarts and are too cool to be messed with.  Nor will they be shocked into compliance. 

Call ‘em ‘Sir!’ if there’s time to call them anything.

“Sir! Drop the weapon!”

“Sir! Don’t move!”

“Sir! It won’t work!”

Change ‘guy’ for ‘a@@hole.’  The second statement sounds better that way.  Go ahead say it out loud.  “Those guys always get away.”  When you’re asked later in calmer times who ‘those guys’ are, you can respond politely with ‘members of criminal gangs.’

Even Mother Superior would approve.

Update:  Zimmerman v. Martin

An earwitness, who didn’t see anything until later, reports she heard “No!”  No information on who said it, but since the prosecutor introduced this witness I think we can believe it isn’t helping Zimmerman’s case.  I bet Zimmerman wishes she heard “Sir! Stop right there!’

Let me stop trying to be cute.  You never know who is listening, or filming.  Don’t do or say things that you’ll regret later.  How do you prevent that?  Remember P6: 

Pre-planning plus practice prevents poor performance.  

Friday, June 21, 2013

Tactical Shopping

What would a tactical blog be without product placement?

Mostly it would look like this one.  But I have stumbled across a two things I thought were very cool.  I don’t sell these, so you’re on your own if you want to buy them.

I came across patches celebrating the 2nd Amendment at EMDOM USA (  You get three patches for 13.50. Each patch has Velcro on the back so

2A to celibrate the Second Amendment -The constitution's teeth
The Second Amendment was never about just hunting!  Practice what you preach.

you can stick ‘em to your gear and remove them later.  I couldn’t resist.  I’m a firm believer the 2nd Amendment guarantees our freedoms and puts teeth in the Constitution.  Of course words are only good when backed up by action.

I shoot at a cold range.  I prefer that for several reasons**, the least of which is the disparity of skills our members have.  We have started running a designated rifle/carbine night once a month.  To ensure it remains a cold range we have adopted a requirement that all long guns not under positive control (your hand must be physically on the gun) must have a chamber flag or ECI.

You’ve seen the ones from the NRA, ( and they work fine.  Of course you can make one from a zip tie or piece of weed wacker whip.

Warrior Tech has what they call Safe Cycle.  It fits in your AR chamber no matter .223 rem or 5.56 mm and engages the bold extractor.

Safe Cycle and the AR
The Safe Cycle is placed in your chamber and the bolt is slowly lowered on to it.

Once Safe Cycle is in place you can insert a loaded magazine.  The rifle is still disabled and its condition can be visually confirmed.  

The red handle is a fast visual check the Safe Cycle is in place
I could now slap my 28 rd AR mag in place and be a second from being loaded.

Getting up and running can be as simple as cycling the bolt with the charging handle which ejects the Safety Cycle and loads the rifle.  A second way simply involves grabbing the red arm on the Safe cycle and pulling straight back.  That also cycles the gun and puts a live round in the chamber.

The way my AR is set up I have to cycle with the charging handle.   

Dot scope locking nut and Safe Cycle get in each others way
Good morning class.  Today's word is 'pinch point'.  Can anyone give me an example? 

The locking knob on my dot gets in the way if I just grab the red arm and pull back.

The system works as advertised, but I found that for matches and activities where you’re on the line every 20 minutes the NRA’s ECI works better.  They are bigger, easier to find if you drop it and cheaper to replace if/when you lose it.  After about an hour of Safe Cycle in and Safe Cycle out, I dropped it in the black hole I call a gun bag and got out my yellow ECI.

Where would it work?  In retrospect I’m not sure.  If you carried an AR in condition 3 (loaded magazine in place but empty chamber), and were required to have a chamber flag in place to demonstrate your compliance, Safe Cycle could be your answer.  Pull the charging handle like you were loading from a closed bolt and you my friend, are up and running.

**Just incase you’re wondering, I’ve trained on hot ranges and I never had a problem, but I did see an instructor almost draw on a student.  The student was trying to take his loaded gun out to show the class and instructor something.  Everyone started yelling “Drop the weapon!” while we

Everyone moves away from a gun being drawn
You don't see any stupid fish next to that shark, do you?!?

scattered like tropical fish around a shark!  The student finally realized what was happening and left the gun in his holster.  Talk about pucker factor!!

Sunday, June 16, 2013


So you think all this governmental over watch will protect you? 

Good luck with that.

Emily Harris loves unicorns.  So much that she presented her toy passport with a picture of a stuffed unicorn to customs at Turkey’s Antalya Airport.  Emily was traveling with her parents, so I hope the agent merely had a sense of humor, but he stamped it and passed Emily through security.

 No!  I could not bring myself to post a picture of a unicorn, not even a tactical unicorn.

Her parents worry it demonstrates how easy it is to smuggle a child out of Turkey.  I see it differently.  I see how easy it is to get access to the world’s airports through Turkish security.  You want access to Kennedy in NY or Dulles in DC?  Don’t worry about TSA. Get on a plane in Turkey, make your connecting flights and you’ll find yourself standing in a secure area in any airport you want.

Still feel safe?

I walked out of the office to turn in a report and when I came back I was told “Give ‘em one of your training fliers.”  The speaker pointed to a man in a maroon shirt.  

“CCW or tactical shotgun?” I asked.

“I know how to shoot a shotgun.”  He clearly thought the idea of training with a shotgun was for simpletons.  

I know a lost cause when I hear the bugle blow, so I just gave him a CCW flier chatted a few seconds and let it go.  After all, didn’t Vice president Joe Biden say something like “...just pickup a shotgun and shoot through the door…”  If you take that advice, try to make sure Joe will serve your prison time for you.  

It’s clear, at least to me, that everyone thinks they know how to use a shotgun.  It’s only after you get them out on the firing line and tell ‘em load three rounds, shoot those targets, move to a new location while loading and shoot three more targets, do they discover it isn’t as simple as Vice President Biden suggests.

God forbid you need to replace a round of bird shot with slug or beanbag under duress.

Yeah, everyone knows how to shoot a shotgun until the clay pigeons start fighting back and then it’s another story.

As Archilochus, the Greek poet warrior said, “We don’t rise to the level of our expectation, we fall to the level of our training...”

Two of my friends just flew in from out west and landed at the Detroit airport.  They jumped on I-75 south to Toledo and ran into a traffic jam in the Toledo area.  Familiar with the highways, they got off and continued on other surface roads.  At a stop sign someone took a shot at them.  They missed but left a streak across the front windshield.

“Don’t fly into Detroit.”  I suggested.

“Don’t fly into Detroit unless your armed,” he countered.

I’m not sure it would have helped.  What would you do?  Just roll the window down and blast away at the bushes?

Still, I understand his feelings.  I came out of martial arts one night and found someone had thrown a rock at my new pickup truck.  I wanted to use my truck for bait and hide in the bushes with my 30-06 for the rock thrower.  I calmed down after a few weeks, but I would never shoot anyone for damaging property.

I guess the moral of this is you never know when trouble will strike.  Have the tools you need to solve problems with you.  Cell phone, awareness of surroundings and address, a flashlight, knife, CCW tool and reload, and a firm grounding in your moral principles make a good start.  These are just a few of the components you might need.

You never know when you might need them.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Info and Ideas

I had a talk with my friend Joyce.  She related how she’s having relatives from Scandinavia visit her in Colorado.  She and her husband want to take them camping and touring the local areas and her relatives are up for that.  But they want to do one thing.  In fact if they could do one thing it sounds like you could lock them in a closet for the rest of their visit and they would be happy.

The one thing?  They want to go shooting.  Because they can’t do that at home.

Scandinavia was occupied by the Nazis during WWII.  They came close to being a Russian colony during the Cold War.  You would think following those experiences every adult would have a battle rifle or pistol greased and a thousand rounds squirreled away.  Getting them to get rid of these insurance policies would be like prying a tick out of your hide after a day in the woods.  But they, by culture and habit, are law abiding citizens and now they’re unarmed.

We are so lucky to be Americans and we need to remember our freedoms come with daily battles against those who would whittle them away.

~ ~ ~

My friend Marty tells me all the pop-up matches at Camp Perry ( ) are cancelled.  Camp Perry is a National Guard base on Lake Erie and the home of the National Bullseye Pistol and Rifle matches.  

For a while it looked like ORPA (Ohio Rifle & Pistol Association) would be able to run at least one pop-up week-end.  Not anymore.  The Camp says the matches aren't "historical or educational" so they were axed.  Port Clinton doesn’t need the shooting dollars during the spring and fall, but come early winter Port Clinton becomes a ghost town.  Losing that match takes a bite out of their local economy.  It isn’t a big bite, but I suspect the local restaurants and hotels would be happy to have a few more guests at that time of year.

~ ~ ~

Yes, I know most of you aren’t police officers, but follow the link to anyway.  The armed citizen has the same problem police officers have at home.  How do we do treat our children to keep them safe around firearms at home? 

Here’s one approach and I think it’s a good one and I know from experience.  I was raised around weapons as was my brother and two sisters.  This system worked fine for us.