Sunday, September 21, 2014

"Clean-Up in Aisle 27, Please!"

It’s a Shakespearian world.

We’re surrounded by villains, heroes with tragic flaws, mischievous players, innocent, but naive people and uncontrollable Fates.

Take John Crawford III for example.  He’s the innocent, naive person.  Our villain, who later admits he lied about what he saw is Ronald Ritchie.  He called the police with a lie. 

The lie?  That he saw a black man walking up and down the aisles of Wal-Mart with a loaded AR threatening people. One paper even claims Ritchie reported he saw Crawford load it.  

The reality was Crawford picked up a MK-177 BB/Pellet rifle off the WalMart rack while shopping.

What motivated this lie?  Maybe Ritchie doesn’t like black people.  Maybe he doesn’t like police.  Maybe he just a stupid asshole with funny (not Ha-Ha funny) ideas.  Later he backed off the lie and makes funny mouth sounds like: well, it was a rifle and I was afraid…..

We’ll cast WalMart as the Fates, moving people to final, unforeseen conflicts that only the Fates could change. 

Too far-fetched? 

Not at all.  Who sells a toy that is an identical look-alike to a firearm without packaging?  In hindsight this tragedy in three acts could have been prevented if the MK-177 BB/Pellet rifle had been in a box or blister package.

The police are the tragic heroes and not Crawford.  Crawford is the victim and victims are tragic in themselves.

What else could the police be?  They are given faulty information, respond to a situation that most of us would have opted out of.  They arrive and find exactly what they were told they would find, a man with a rifle in a store filled with people.  Fearing for their and the lives of bystanders, they engage the man and shots are fired.

According to Aristotle, a tragic hero ought to be a man whose misfortune comes to him, not through vice or depravity, but by some error of judgment.  

Boy, that sure fits the two cops perfectly.  They do what they believe is the right, heroic thing only to be vilified, punished and possibly have their lives ruined.  Even if that doesn’t come to pass, who is to say next time they wouldn’t pause a second, or two and it will be their last time?  Sounds pretty freaking tragic to me.

For a little black comedy we have the 36-year old woman who is frightened to death by the gunfire and dies from a heart-attack.  Yeah, they took her out in a body bag.

The dead man isn’t at fault, even though the city will attempt to put the blame on him.  I guess you could say, if he hadn’t been purchasing the BB gun or if he had it in a shopping cart the outcome might be different. 

The cops will be blamed.  People who never held a gun, never responded to a “man with a gun” call will point fingers and hold them responsible because they should have done something.  Again, that something is never clearly explained.  

Our villain will continue to exclaim that he was positive the man had a gun and did threaten other shoppers regardless of what the in-store video tape shows.

Is there a tactical aspect to this?

No.  Maybe.

Be aware the world is filled with people like Ronald Ritchie.  They may overreact out of ignorance, out of stupidity, or perhaps they just like making trouble.  There was once an Irish prayer that asked God to twist the left ankle of our enemies, so they and we would know them by their limp.  Clearly this hasn’t happened, so we don’t know who’s who.

Video cameras are everywhere and Wal-Mart’s cameras are playing a big part in this case.  Privacy is becoming a thing of the past and one day, like the current generation of Russian drivers, we’ll all wear video cameras to support our claims.
So, see what others miss, keep your wits sharp and don’t do stupid things.  Keep your self-defense weapon concealed.  We’re surrounded by Shakespearian villains.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Buckle up and Let's Ride!

You’ve heard about it, maybe you’ve laughed about it but if you’re serious about carrying concealed you’ve already thought about it.  What do you do with your weapon when you use the commode?

“Teacher hurt when gun accidentally hits toilet.”  Akron Beacon Journal  12 Sept 14  (see update here.)

A Utah 6th grade teacher with a permit and legally carrying her gun, is reported to have accidently shot the porcelain throne when using the toilet before class started.  One can imagine the incident and the resulting explosion of porcelain.  The report indicates she was cut by fragments but did not shoot herself as it was first reported.  Nobody is speculating if this happened before or after she used the toilet.  In either case I’m sure it wasn’t pretty.  But I would have liked to have been a fly on the wall for that explanation.

This is a problem, where does the gun reside when you’re on the can?  I’ve heard of undercover officers taking their sidearm out and placing it on the tank top or behind the pipe to the rear of the seat.   The story becomes more interesting when they exit the establishment and then discover the gun didn’t walk out with them.  Inevitably the gun is gone by the time they get back to that stall.

Do I need to explain that the gun should not be visible on the floor next to your feet to anyone who walks into the bathroom?

This is one situation where the alternative carry methods shines.  If it’s on your ankle or in a shoulder rig it simply stays there when you perform basic body functions.  When I use a fanny pack, I simply slip the pack on bandolier-style. 

No matter what you do with it, you want to make sure it isn’t simply laying on the floor where it could slip out of the holster and skid out of your stall and beyond your control.  I can’t think of too many worse situations than having your pants around your ankles, grabbing for the paper with one hand and the gun with the other as it skitters into the occupied stall next to you.

If you carry, you should practice this basic procedure at home a few times.

And now for something completely different......

I tell people court is theatre.  They laugh at me.  Maybe it is a shopworn analogy, but it is true.

Here’s a picture of suspect Deshanon Haywood. 

Before picture
I suspect this was a booking photo. He’s on trial for the murder of two men and two women in April of last year.  You might find nastier photos of him that he posted on the different social media websites.

Here’s another of him at jury selection. 

at court, shaven, cut and showered

Men clean up nice, it’s one of God’s gifts to us.  Give us a haircut, nice suit, clean shirt and tie and we look good.  I also note he’s wearing glasses.  I can’t tell if there’s any magnification to the lens, they could be just plain glass.  He’s holding a pen in an awkward grip as if he’s not use to writing, but he is left-handed.   I’m sure he’s been told to look like he’s taking notes and look at the jurors when they speak.  I can’t help but wonder if you’d find tick-tack-toe games on his note page.

Yes, I’m that cynical.  But remember, some terrible day you may find yourself in his place defending your righteous self-defense shooting.  Being right isn’t always enough.  If you and your lawyer can’t orchestrate your appearance and behavior correctly, you could get a bad review from the critics in the jury box.

Yes, I’m that cynical.

I’m getting ready for the GTA Sniper match. Sept 28.  There are still openings for two person teams.  Contact Adam at "closed".   for more information.

You can find GTA’s website at

Monday, September 8, 2014

Vehicle Combative part 2

Let me suggest a couple ideas.  

 Keep a sufficient distance between you and the stopped vehicle in front. If your car is mobile, drive away.  If you can‘t avoid, evade.  Abandon the car and make your way to safety.  Failing that, counter with great enthusiasm. 

Car we will shoot as part of vehicle combative class
Dave demos in the car, a Chevy Lumina , also known as a hole above ground

It almost seems weird logic, but if the situation warrants shooting someone, don’t you think it warrants running them over?  Don’t forget your vehicle has a reverse gear too! 
Most people know there is very little in the way of true bullet-proof cover in a car or pick-up.  Light weight metal and super strong plastic are the current solutions to better gas mileage.

 What’s bullet resistant today?  Engine block, steel tire rims and good luck.  We fired a few rounds into a Chevy Lumina door below the decorative strip.  We shot everything from .45 ACP to 9mm ball to .380 golden saber, making a good attempt to shoot straight through the car.  Sometimes we hit the manikin in the front seat, sometimes we hit a piece of re-enforcing metal or door speaker and the rounds went everywhere.  Most of the rounds made into the passenger compartment.

The glass windows?

Side windows crumble into chips of safety glass with the first round.  Makes no difference if you’re inside or out.  One round and the side window is gone.

Front and rear windows are different.  If the rear window is tempered, it’s safety glass and one round shatters it into a mosaic of clear and frosted cracks.  The second round on any remaining glass opens up the entire back window. 

Front windows and laminated rear windows are different.
Because of the curvature the outer surface can deflect rounds downward.  From the inside the round can be deflected upward.  If you’re at a steep angle to the curved beveled glass surface a round can skip off the glass and go on its own adventure.  Confusing, isn’t it.

Press the muzzle into the glass, shoot hole in it, then shoot through the hole at the bad guys.  Simple!  This student take turn shooting through windshield.  Note previous holes.

 So what did we do?  We practiced drawing from the front seat and shooting a target through the windshield.  The key is to launch all your rounds through the hole your first, sacrificial bullet makes in the windshield.  Then we practiced getting the seat belt unbuckled, the imaginary door open and moving with a drawn weapon to the rear of the vehicle.  This was practiced as both the driver and passenger.
Passenger side bailout
The students are hot, guns out and they are moving uprange.  This takes care and awareness of where everyone is and where your muzzle is.  Note right and left students are still in the chairs and are now down range. 

Want a hint?  Make sure you know how the seat belt release works and how the door unlocks and opens on every car you get into.  Our imaginary vehicles worked fine until we got to the Lumina and repeated the drills.  It’s sad to see some trying to get out of the car to fight for their life but not able to figure out the door lock.

Here's a short video, but I had to reduce the resolution with a so-called free program.  They stick a water mark over most of it, but I think you can get the drift of it.

Note two things in the video.  He puts his arms out on the trunk, exposing a lot of himself to incoming fire.  She bobs up and down after every shot losing sight of the target. Also not a good thing.  But in truth, I tend to want to do that myself. 

We worked these drills from both the drivers and passengers side as well as the back seat.

Practice drawing from passenger side  The car is facing forward, you can tell from the headlights.  The second shooter is driving a right hand drive car..

Next move

Gun out, clearing door panels and sear belts.  One handed shooting may be the requirement depending on your flexibility and the available time.

For me the best way to get out of the hole above the ground they call a Lumina is to undo my seat belt, open the door and fall out.

Dave taught us how to take cover behind a tire on the car and shoot under the car, which was surprisingly easy.  Finally we squared off against a radio controlled mobile target and practiced moving around the car, using the car for concealment and engaging the target.

shooting under car
Using the steel rim and tire as cover and shooting under the car.   Watch your muzzle and don't shoot in to the steel rim like the right shooter looks like they are about to .

Shooter came close to wounding their tire.  Beware of the off-set between the muzzle and the front sight!  

I certainly plan to look at my two cars differently and put a little practice into them.  But I have to wonder what the dealership will make of it when I try these thing ‘dry’ in the show in the show room!

Was the course worth it?

We're not done yet, the car still has side windows!

Yes.  Shooting through glass from the inside of the vehicle was unique.  I was half convinced I would be back splashed by flying glass.  It didn’t happen.  I never understood before the need to shoot through the hole you made in the front window.  I do now.  I always thought shooting under a car was just for drama, but I see it differently now.  And I see the need for a high capacity handgun.

The last is still a bone of contention.  If I knew I’d need a high capacity gun, I wouldn’t go there.  Still, since we don’t know when trouble will find us it seems prudent to have more than the seven rounds my Kahr P-9 carries.  Even a second reload may not be the answer.  The mirror to that is my lifestyle doesn’t bring me into contact with conditions that might require large volumes of rounds down range.
Something to think about, isn’t it.

I would have liked to spending more time bailing out of the car, retreating to the rear and engaging targets. I think a drill starting outside the car and moving to it for cover and concealment would have been valuable.  We didn’t cover retreating to the front of the car.  I could leave the door open on my way to the back, might make good sense, but I’ve got to close it if I’m moving forward.

Still, given the range and limitations on a two day course I learned a lot.  It’s just a damn shame I only practice with a finger gun.  Pew-pew!

Last bitch:  They misspelled my name on the certificate.

Part one: Here

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Spaulding Vehicle Combative, part 1

I just finished Dave Spaulding’s Vehicle Combatives class.  You can find out more about Dave here

Dave Spaulding demos form
Dave Spaulding

He claims it’s a watered-down civilian version of a course he developed for undercover narcotic officers.  This doesn’t upset me.  I don’t have the same needs and requirements of LEOs.  What I wanted was training on a shooting solution.  This course provided the information and practice.

All car hijackings, kidnappings, assassinations and terrorism start with violence.  This course doesn’t teach you how to recognize the developing patterns or tactical set-ups.  It’s a two-day course and you’re on the range for most of it.  But there is an intellectual side to this.  Adults learn better when we see the reason for what we need to do.  Here’s some of the ideas Dave worked with.

Dave had some interesting ideas about life at the criminal/citizen interface.  He points out that as “good guys” we have a set of rules/behaviors not recognized by criminals.  We need to reflect these differences in our training.  The example he gave was our concern about stray rounds from “pray and spray” shooting.  The criminal doesn’t care who gets shot.  He is going to dump rounds downrange and hope to get a hit or two out of it.  This impacts, pun intended, the concept of stepping sidesways every 3-4 rounds and moving off-line while reloading.  The criminal isn’t taking aimed shots, he’s just dumping rounds at you.  So my conclusion is when faced with a single opponent maybe it’s better to focus on hitting your target and not trying to upset his aiming by moving around.  My other conclusion is high capacity magazines are a great invention.  They are a need , not a want.

The two mostly likely scenarios civilians experience are an attack for the vehicle (carjacking) and attack around the vehicle (robbery).  Willy Sutton was once asked, “Why do you rob banks?”  His answer: “Because that’s where the money is.” The same answer applies to “Why are both crimes concentrated on the urban environment?  There are 256 million vehicles (cars, trucks, motorcycles, etc ) registered and most of them will be in the population centers.

We were told the first American carjacking occurred in Detroit in the 1980’s and the problem continues to grow.  As much as I hate to admit it, that makes sense.  Why try to steal a car and have to hotwire it, or defeat alarms and deterrents, when you can steal one with the engine running.

Dave’s numbers suggest:
Half the carjacking attempts are successful
                      84% do not result in injury
                      Handguns are used 79% of the time (no surprise here!)
                      Long guns are used 10%
                      The rest is a mixed bag of disparity of force.

student practice draw from confined seat
The students practice drawing from a confined seat, like a car seat.  the far left guy is doing it right.  He's leaning forward to make space.  The woman in front on the right is leaning to the side, where there may not be any space.

Think about the places you find yourself with the car stopped and motor running or keys in ignition: traffic control signs, parking lots, attempting to make a turn, waiting for the car in front of you to do something, gas stations.  I’m sure you can think of others.  Massad Ayoob likes to say, “Know where the attack will occur and have a proven defense in place.”  

Change your habits in these locations.  The proven defense isn’t always a physical altercation; it could be being alert, not dawdling getting in or out, and taking the keys out the car at gas stations.  It could also be driving over someone. 

Fighting starts in the mind.  We all know this.  Everything else are just tools.  It starts with a previously made decision based on rational thought about when and where to fight back.  After the decision is made and the tripline tripped, Jeff Cooper’s Principles of Self Defense should be your operational mode.

Just remember what John Wayne told Ron Howard in his last movie, “The Shootist.”  I’ll paraphrase, but you can find it online.

“..I learned early on that some men will pause, or take a breath (before shooting) and I won’t.”

Awareness and willingness are the two major factors needed to prevail in combat.  As the CIA teaches: Avoid…Evade…Failing that, counter with great enthusiasm!

That’s quite a bit to think about and we still haven’t fired a round.

old guy with tablet
It was like I was in that TV commercial with everyone fighting because someone was always blocking the view with their oversize camera.   It's a good thing a armed society is a polite society, cause I was just a P.O.ed