Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Merry Christmas!

Is there a tactical message in either the religious or the commercial message of Christmas?  Perhaps.

The shepherds, we are told, were watching their flock…  Sounds like being in condition yellow to me.  The wise men went home another way to avoid Herod, a clear example of not going where you’re not wanted and OODA loop in action.  I’m sure you can draw more conclusions on your own.  I’d be interested in seeing them.

I’m interested in the commercial side.

In the northern hemisphere Christmas occurs in winter.  Long nights, people rushing about with deadlines on their minds (You try telling children their Christmas is postponed 2 days ‘cause Santa’s pooped!) from both at home and work.
Do you have any idea of how long it takes to find and then replace a burnt out bulb?
Relatives arrive, sometimes with friends in tow, meals needs to be special, perfect and plentiful, and the dog just stole the Christmas ham! 

Wait! We forgot the turkey!

It is hard to ignore the impact of rampant commercialism and not feel guilty because you can’t achieve the levels of luxury described as normal by our manufacturers and retailers.

What could I say?
Despite the unseasonably warm December weather I’m experiencing, winter means snow and ice, complicated driving, parking, walking and visibility 

Snow, it's properties make life possible and impossible all at the same time.
issues not to mention the bulky, sensory restrictive cold weather wardrobe.  And we will not even talk about total darkness by 5:30 pm and how 7 pm feels like 11 pm.

Packages arrive and sit on porches, under apartment mailboxes waiting for rightful owners while attracting thieves and other highwaymen.  The possibilities, unfortunately, for crime abound. 

The same applies to New Year’s celebrations, much more of an adult holiday.  We try to put aside the problems of the previous year and establish a good start, hoping the year takes a hint from the first day.

Neither day is intrinsically unique, but the celebrations we associate with them are.  The symbolic nature of these days makes them targets for disruption.  Do not forget we are at war.  Just because we haven’t declared war doesn’t mean were not.  

The tactical side?

Keep your wits about you.  Stay in condition yellow, watchful awareness.  Accept there will be imperfections, but they will not spoil the day unless you let them.  Watch for what doesn’t belong, looks out of place or isn’t typical.  Reduce your alcohol consumption, stay armed and prepared.  Keep your cell phone charged and your everyday kit on you.  Make a tourniquet, small flashlight, a reload and edged tool part of that kit.  Know where you are, the closest street junction or highway marker.  Know where the exits are in the store, mall, restaurant and theater.  Remind family and guests that sometimes everyone must take their cue from you without question. 

Expect some to balk, not everyone sees the world as you do.  If they are not immediate family, leave ‘em.  Your obligation is to yourself (so you can be there to protect them), spouse, children, and parents.  Cool Uncle Ted, who can’t imagine that the shouting at one end of the mall and security moving in that direction could have anything to do with him, is on his own.

This isn’t meant to ruin your holiday, or to have you on your roof with a sniper rifle or patrolling your neighborhood in alpine camo.  I’m just suggesting the normal rules you live by, the normal precautions, the normal concerns you have need to remain in place over the holidays.  Crime doesn’t take a holiday.

You may find that staying in condition yellow actually enriches your holiday.  See if you can’t notice those special moments that happen between people.

Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy New Year to you all.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Should You...?

Should You….

There are articles that make me want to slap my face, cartoon style, and think “Why didn’t I write that?”  Following the vicious Paris and San Bernandino attack Matthew wrote the following article.  Let me recommend it to you.

Should you….
December 6 2015
By Matthew at http://straightforwardinacrookedworld.blogspot.com/

In his book "Never Give In!" Winston S. Churchill, the grandson to, well...Churchill related a story in the preface. Here he describes that his mother was just twenty years old and about six months pregnant with him in the early summer of 1940. The British had fallen back from Dunkirk, retreating across the English Channel, France was falling to German occupation and Hitler was preparing for Operation "Sealion", which was his codeword for the invasion of England.

One evening, before the air raid sirens would begin, sending the family to the basement they sat at dinner and Churchill's daughter related how he was brooding at the dinner table. Buried in thought. At some point he ended his silence and said:

"If the Hun comes, I am counting on each one of you to take one with you before you go!", "But Papa" his daughter exclaimed, "I don't have a gun and, even if I did, I would not know how to use it." "But, my dear," Churchill said, his voice increasing in power and fist held high, "You can go to the kitchen and grab a carving knife!"

This was Churchill at the core.

In the aftermath of the ISIS attack on San Bernandino there is much being said about a lot of things from the politicos...and most everyone else. Like everyone else I have my feelings on each bit of it.

Contrary to what you may think, if you have read me here for any matter of time, I am at my core a sincere man of peace. I believe in the right of the individual to live their life as they see fit and to believe as they choose as long as they bring no harm to another. It's my belief that violence is an answer best saved as an absolute last resort. If for no other reason, violence has the inherent issue of affecting the lives of people not directly involved.

Yet, as much as I believe in living peaceable I do not by contrast believe that anyone should live under willful naivety.

We, the world, are in a war with the Huns, just as Europe was with Germany. Only our enemy is far more opaque. There is no uniform, no central power, no "one man" as it was with Hitler. And while we live in a post 1945 world where we know that outcome, once upon a time, such was not the case.

Much like the politicos are weighing in, so are many in the defense community. And they do so with understandable reasons, my inbox is well flooded at this point with so many questions from enough people that it would be time consuming to respond to them all.

So here is my advice.

Should you meet with a person bent on a campaign of terror, intending to murder their fellow men and women, to leave behind a swath of widows, widowers and orphans, to grieve families and nations alike. Do the reasonable thing.

Kill them.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Bottom Lines (part 2)

You decided you need some options.  Terrorist assaults will happen and most like occur at large activities filled with innocent people.  It’s not likely anyone will attack Camp Perry during the middle of the National Pistol Matches, at least more than once.

You have decided that if you must dance with the devil, you’re going to lead!

Do you have a self-rescue first aid kit?  How about a gun and a reload?  Do you know how to use other weapons, either pistol, shotgun or rifle if you are able to retrieve one?  I’m not suggesting you wrestle one away from an active shooter, but dead security officer, dropped jammed weapon, your buddy’s back-up weapon, could find their way into your hands.

Got a flashlight?  What about an edged tool, ID and licenses (driver and CCW), cash, credit card, cell phone?  You do pre-plan a meeting place if separated from family and friends?  Would pepper spray do any good?  Do you know where you are and have a mental map of the surroundings?  Do your children understand that sometime they must listen and obey without argument?  Does the oldest know they have to take care of the youngest while following instructions from you or your spouse?

Do you keep your cell phone charged? 

Are you wearing shoes you that will help or hinder you to climb over broken glass or concrete?  Do your clothes make you stand out?  If you lost your prescription glasses how well can you see? 
Got a pad of paper and pen so you can write down details of the assailants?  How many?  Men, women or both?  Where did they come from, where did they leave from?  Did you notice them when they came in?  What were they carrying?  Did they talk to anyone?  What was the color of their car? Did you get a license plate number?  Who was driving?  What direction did they go?  Did you notice anything else?  Did you notice anyone act differently or oddly just before the attack?  Those notes could make the difference in capturing the entire group.

Remember the ODA that took a school room of Amish girls hostage and started murdering them in 2006?  Two of the slightly older girls pleaded with him to be killed first to buy time for the younger girls to be rescued.  Where do 13 and 11 year olds find that bravery? 

Aristotle thought we became brave by doing brave deeds. 

Start with little things.  Don’t give your word just out of peer pressure.  Do the hard things. Go shovel snow when everyone else is inside hiding from the cold.  Tell someone politely it’s a bad idea when it is a bad idea.  Make plans to protect your family if something happens to you.  Take that overnight back pack trip by yourself.  Take a firearms course and expect that you will not be the best.  Accept and then incorporate the corrections from the training.  Volunteer to take charge of some activity and make it happen the way you want it to and if it doesn’t learn from your mistakes.

Decide in advance if you can shoot a person.  Then decide if you can shoot them in the back or from an unseen position.  Decide if you are shot, injured or trapped you’ll focus on stopping them right here, right now.  Remind yourself why you made these decisions.  Speak out loud the reasons you’re not giving up.  They may be your children, spouse, parents, family or friends.  Maybe it’s just the principle of it all.  Say it out loud every day before you need it.

Do things that make you uncomfortable.  Make a speech to your club or activity.  Do a reading at church if it’s allowed.  Ask to make a presentation at work.  Collect signatures at a mall to support legislation on behalf of organizations you believe in.   Stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves.

Get yourself square with God.  Does your theology permit killing?  Does it permit self-sacrifice in defense of others?  Does your religion honor those who sacrificed themselves for others? 
Decide if you can do it.  Somewhere I read Ian Fleming was considered for action behind German lines as a Special Operation Executive (SOE).  He did well in training as did the others, but one final test was needed.  Each student had to kill a stranger in cold blood. 

It seems the British had a man who had the ability to throw himself out of the line of fire for one gun shot.  Fleming was given a revolver and a story justifying the man’s death.  What Fleming didn’t know until later, the man would throw himself out of the way behind a heavy wooden desk while a person Fleming absolutely trusted would rush out from behind a screen and stop the second shot.

Fleming opened the door and found he couldn’t do it.  It was one thing to kill in combat, but cold blooded killing was beyond Fleming.  His literary creation, James Bond, passed the test that Fleming failed.

Decide if you can do it to save yourself and others. If not, change your plans


I’m sorry I can’t tell you if you carry a Glock 9mm with the newest hot ammo, an Always Brite tactical light powered by atomic batteries, a 12-inch fixed blade knife, a level three chest plate under your tee-shirt and Ninja gloves for repelling down high strength, super-Kevlar thread stored in your shoe heel that everything will be alright.

It would be easier if I could and if it was true.  Most of us aren’t in a position we can join the military or police and work our way into an elite unit with all the skill sets and training you might need.  It isn’t always the blue wire that needs to be cut, no matter who tells you it is.

If you get the opportunity to disrupt, retard, report, worry and even foil some ODA, I’d consider it a job well done.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Bottom Lines

Following the Nov 13 2015 Paris attack, claimed by Islamic terrorists, there has been a predictable rush of Facebook and Internet commandos expressing the desire to get the perpetrators in their gunsights.  It’s quite understandable, as I also would very much like to get these assholes and their entire ilk in front of my front site.

What if....when it happens here... What's your plan?

This outpouring of support and camaraderie is both commendable and futile at the same time.  There is little most of us can actually do. 
America is not isolated and immune from these attacks.  9-11, the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, the bombing of the Boston Marathon should demonstrate that both foreign and homegrown extremists can prey on us.  

Let’s not forget the spree shooters, self-proclaimed revolutionaries and Other Dickless Assholes (ODA) who can’t resist shooting helpless, unarmed victims.

It will happen again.  Are you ready? You’re going to dance with the devil, but are you going to lead or follow?

It starts with a plan.

Here’s a jumping off point for discussion.  Your plan may be to run towards the sound of gunfire or away from it.  I don’t know what is right for you.  The solution for a single man or woman could be quite different for anyone married or with children or elderly parents.  But if you want to help, here are some of the components that should be in your plan.
  • First aid
  • Skill with weapons/tools
  • Equipment/Plan
  • Willingness

I’m going to touch each one, some more than others.

First Aid
Every first aid course I’ve taken in the last 4 years has emphasized the importance of using a tourniquet to control bleeding and the need to keep an air way open.  A self-rescue aid kit containing a tourniquet, quick clot, latex gloves and two yards of duck tape can potentially stabilize life threatening injuries until the professionals arrive.  It may even save your life.  Do you carry a kit?  Can you use it?

Skill with weapons
A thousand words might not be enough for this topic. Don’t expect to stop six armed terrorists who have the element of surprise.  But if you are cornered and need to protect yourself and your loved ones can you?  If you can disrupt their plans, if you can make them wonder how many others like yourself are out there, that’s a step in the right direction. 

Can you hit your target under pressure?  What distances are you accurate at?  Can you reload, clear jams, use cover and concealment, formulate plan B through Z on the move?  Are you prepared to deal with the police?  Do you have a knife and flashlight?  Can you fight with fist, knees and elbows?  Are you physically fit enough to carry your child or injured spouse to safety, run a hundred yards, climb 60, 70 or 100 steps?  Can you kneel, crawl or jump?

I’m not suggesting you need to train like a commando, but do you know your physical limits and make an effort to stretch them a little? 

To Be Continued.

Monday, November 16, 2015


“Do you have a 38 automatic?” He asked

That was an interesting question.  Saying .38 to me and registers as .38 SPL and these fit in revolvers, not full automatic weapons.  While I’m sure there are .38 SPL semi-automatics in existence, but I didn’t think that’s what he had in mind 

difference between .380 and .38 spl
The little one is .380 ACP while the big one is .38 SPL.  I know you know that, but the clerk didn't.

“No, I do have a .380 semi-auto.  Are you talking about .38 Super?” I asked.

“I don’t know.”

Let’s unwrap this onion quickly.  I’ve already wasted too much of my life on this subject.

I always thought it was an NRA myth.  You know, you go to Mega-Mart and the clerk behind the gun counter has just transferred in from shoes and training consists of being told, “Lock up the counter when you step away.”

You ask for 38s and he sells you .380 ACP.  Of course, you have no clue as to what your gun shoots but surely this highly trained sales professional wouldn’t steer you wrong!

Of course this mistake doesn’t get discovered until you attempt to load the gun and that’s pretty much what happened.  He went over to his sister’s so they could shoot in the backyard and discovered his box of .380 ACP doesn’t work in a .38 SPL revolver.

Back to the conversation still in progress.
“Oh, you want .38 Special not .380 ACP.”  I said

“Yeah.  I think so.”  He replied.

So never underestimate the level of ignorance in areas not germane to the fields of expertise.  This guy is a gardener par-excellence, but when I hear him discuss gun rights and self defense I leave the room before my head explodes.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Basics 5: Cup Stacking

I never heard of cup stacking until recently.  Or if I did I’m sure it was a late night talk show stunt to fill air time.  I never thought there would be a tactical lesson from stacking cups into pyramids, but there is.  Give me 4.5 minutes and I’ll show tell you what it is.

Okay.  I find it incredible.  The plastic cups seem to flow out of his hands like magic.  I’m amazed.

Austin wasn’t born that fast.  When he started it took over 2 minutes to do what he now does in 5 seconds.  To achieve that speed he practiced 3 or more hours every day for several years.  Now he doesn’t think about it, he just lets his body/mind do it.  The narrator explains how neural pathways have grown to allow this speed and skill.

Here the tactical side.

All skills are learned.

We have four levels of achievement.

  • Unconscious incompetence     We don’t know what we can’t do.
  • Conscious incompetence         We are aware of our limitations
  • Conscious competence         We know how to do something if we pay close attention to doing                                                                                                       it.
  • Unconscious competence     We don’t have to think about it, just recognize it and let the body                                                                                                         respond.

Back to stacking cups.  Austin is demonstrating unconscious competence.

So, reloading, clearing jams, drawing, moving from target to target and so many other skills can be expressed at unconscious competent levels.  This lets you focus on things like tactics, target assessment and the variables of self-defense.

How do you reach that level of performance?  You can’t buy it in a bottle or purchase it over the internet but it is available.  It’s practice. 

Sure, better equipment can make it easier.  An instructor can speed the process, but ultimately it’s time spent in repetition.

You don’t need to spend hours everyday.  How about ten repetitions?

Ten good draws from the holster.  Don’t worry about speed, work on smoothness and consistency.  Bored?  Okay, alternate days with 10 slide lock reloads.  Build on each by adding a perfect dry fire click with each draw.  Change your reload to include some variation of reload with retention.

That’s all it takes, 10 nightly repetitions until the skill is automatic. 

My friend’s daughter had an appointment in New York City, but had lost her bearings in the city.  So she jump into a cab and asked:
“Do you know how to get to Carnegie Hall?”
“Of course, miss,” he said while starting the meter.  “Practice.”

See, it’s so well known the jokes are even corny.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Hittin’ Steel

shot up pistol steel
Pistol grade steel damaged by .30 cal rifle

We all make mistakes.

It’s relatively easy to mistake pistol grade steel for rifle grade.  Thickness of the plate isn’t the sole determiner.  It’s a matter of thickness and hardness as well as strength of the steel, bullet configuration and bullet energy.

Bounce back is a serious problem.  I’ve seen a double ricochet (off the steel target into the rock backstop) strike an observer standing behind the firing line.  She was lucky the bullet fragment found her arm and didn’t crack her skull.

Up close drills using steel require armor.  At a minimum face, head and neck protection is required unless frangible bullets are used.  With frangible ammo, the bullet should shatter into a fine powder and low weight fragments with very little energy to cause damage.  That’s damage to both the steel and the shooter.

back of shot up steel plate
Back of damaged steel plate
Somebody managed to shoot up four steel pistol plates at my favorite range.  This is both a financial loss and a serious safety problem that needs to be corrected.  The four plates are $300 of targets turned into scrap steel worth 59 cents a pound.  There is also a shooter who at best is ignorant or at worst unconcerned, and is willing to place himself and others in danger.

Fortunately nobody was hurt and none of the club members were involved.  The miscreant was someone from another organization using the range.  Corrective action has been taken to educate the shooter and make him a safer shooter.  The range is taking a few additional steps to insure this problem doesn’t happen again.

Let me give you some simple guidelines for shooting steel.  In the absence of special frangible rounds, all steel found on a pistol range should be considered pistol-only grade.  Normal rounds like FMJ, lead, softpoint or JHP are fine but no armor penetrators, no Max Max loads.  You should stay at least 10 yards away and wear safety glasses.  All spectators should also be wearing safety glasses.

Steel found on a rifle range, in the absence of other notifications, can be considered rifle grade at distances of 100 yards or more for most rounds up to.30 cal.  If you’re shooting some hot little wildcat or a massive moose annihilator load or armor piercing .50 BMG (you know who you are) you need to get permission or bring your own steel.

Pistol teel damaged by .30 cal rifle

Shooting sports, regardless of their nature, are dangerous and potentially fatal activities.  It is only our strict adherence to safety rules that enable us to enjoy these activities.  Make sure you know the range rules and follow them.   

Monday, October 26, 2015

Training Reflections

Don’t miss the opportunity to use a competition as a training session. 
There are opportunities to try techniques and, more importantly, evaluate equipment and skill sets at every match.  One good match to consider is the IDPA Classifier.

I don’t think IDPA is a substitute for actual training or a reflection of an actual confrontation.  If you think it is, just remember the targets neither move nor shoot back.
It is a game that lets you compare your constant evolution of skills and equipment against your past performance.  It also allows you to examine other solutions to the common problems associated with CCW.

These problems can include:      Type of pistol and caliber
                                                                Carry options
                                                                Effects of climate and clothing on carry options
                                                                Moving, cover and concealment
                                                                Operation of the handgun.

Don’t see this as an all inclusive list.  It’s just a jumping off point.  Look at these images from a late fall IDPA classifier.  If you were present, could you answer these questions for yourself?
Note:  these shooters aren’t doing anything “wrong.”  Any photo is a snapshot of a 1/100 of a second from a much longer time interval and is out of context.  The images are just used a starting point to think about training and techniques.

Example 1

IDPA tactics

Short fleece concealment vest:  Does the gun print on him?  Would standing there his best option?  Why isn’t his gun on in direct line of vision to the target?

Example 2
IDPA Tactics

After reloading behind, cover the shooter engages targets on her weak side.  Would changing pistol to weak hand with support benefit her?  What would that do to her accuracy?  Would it have been better to come out low, from a kneeling position?

Example 3

The shooter is drawing a revolver from right kidney position.  Would that gun print during normal activities?  Can you sit in a car seat for long with an expectation of comfort? Is a long tail shirt the best concealment option?

Example 4

Shooter is wearing a heavy canvas shell and gloves.  This is a good example of trying out how you would be dressed during inclement weather.  How would you solve the bad weather problem?  Perhaps a 5-shot revolver in an outer coat pocket would be a better option?

Example 5

The shooter is using cover and isn’t crowding it.  Are there any advantages to crowding cover and using the edge as support?  Do you see a problem with that?

Example 6 
shooting on the move

This shooter is advancing and his knees are bent to give him a lower center of gravity. Is the step too big?  Did he lift his foot too much, or is the uneven nature of the field best handled this way?

Our shooter is moving and shooting.  Can you think of when you would advance into returning fire?  Would your best strategy be to double tap on each target or boarding house rules?  That is, everyone gets one before seconds are handed out.

This shooter has a solution for engaging targets at two distances under different conditions.  I think his solution makes sense.  From behind big cover, he thumb cocks the revolver and snipes each shot in.  He reloads behind cover and advances, as required by IDPA.  From the kneeling position behind a barrel he’s significantly closer to the targets so he shoots double action.  Can you think of conditions when this tactic wouldn’t work?  Does the duel operation mode of a revolver out weight a 7th or 8th round of a semi-auto for the armed civilian?

Just some of the thoughts I had while watching the other shooters at the match.  

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Anthony’s Words

I don’t have combat experience, but I’m not afraid to adapt the wisdom gained by those who have seen the elephant.  Here’s some advice from Anthony Winegar.   My observation, drawn from my life’s experience, will be in italics.   Study these.  You’ll find ideas in them.

On the Shoulders of Giants
Anthony Winegar
The words are mine, but the ideas were forged in blood by very special men and women. While most of the influences in my professional career are still alive, I have chosen some photos of those that are not. I try to live as humbly as possible, because no matter how good I get, it is only because I sit on the shoulders of giants who paved the way for me (thanks JD).

Here are some lessons I've learned over the years; I encourage you to develop your own and share them with your comrades.

1. There are three aspects to any violent encounter: chance, circumstance, and the will to fight. The first two are at least partly out of your control and always will be, but the will to win us up to us. To win, we have to fight back and break our enemy's will. Sometimes the “fuck anybody who isn’t us” attitude isn’t all bad.
Many interactions, but not all, have these components. Learn to recognize the difference and when to, literally, switch it on.

2. Just because we can do something doesn't mean we should. Never confuse enthusiasm with skill. And remember that speed kills, so recognize when it is in your favor and when you are going too fast.
The CCW permit and a holstered weapon doesn’t mean you can walk down a dark alley at night.

3. If you do not possess the skills, tools, or momentum to win the fight, you MUST break contact immediately or wait for a lull in the fight to try and regain momentum. Fight if you have to or are reasonably sure you can win it with the tools that you have at that moment. But be honest with yourself, be capable of applying tactics that fit, and do it quickly and early.

4. Think of your abilities in terms of money - if you only have ten dollars’ worth of skills and you are spending eight bucks trying to make accurate shots, work your holster, etc., than you only have two dollars left for problem solving. It should be the other way around.
Practice the basic skills, the things you aren’t good and the things that seem ordinary.

5. Have a plan for the major things that can go wrong. You can't plan for everything, but you have to plan for major foreseeable problems.
Isn’t this the same as “Don’t put all your eggs in the same basket” your mother told you about?

6. Recognizing what a situation is early and dealing with it quickly is a recipe for success. Novices wait until they are at the threshold to deal with what's in the room.
The key is observing and realizing what is significant.  This applies to every day activities as well as armed conflict.

7. End fights as swiftly and violently as rules allow under the circumstances. The longer you stay in a protracted fight, the greater chance that an unknown circumstance will inject weird and unknown variables which you have no control over.

8. If you think you have cover, you probably won't have it for long. If you are being targeted… MOVE! Mobility is your friend and a direct manifestation of unpredictability to your adversary.
Cardboard targets don’t move, but mentally reverse roles.  If you were the cardboard targets , what would you do?  How would the meat and blood you react to the counter?

9. If you find yourself being targeted inside your vehicle, get out quickly and move away from the vehicle to the next piece of closest cover. There are only so many places inside a vehicle that a human can be, and only one place for a driver. Those bullets are going to hit you eventually if you stay there, so move and then fight. If you are incapacitated inside the vehicle, fight until you die or get rescued. Those are your only options. If you are riding dirty with two, do a head count once you get to cover. If one didn't make it, we will always go back.
Call it what you will: fatal funnel, hell hole, killing zone, sitting duck.  Get out and follow the advice. 

10. Fight complacency as hard as you fight admin bullshit. We seem to constantly re-learn the same tough lessons as a profession. It does not have to be that way, and learning starts with each of us as individuals.
It’s true in all things, work, leisure activities, relationships, self-improvement, all skills decay.  Training and growth are the ways to retain and improve.

11. You owe it to your family, the public, and yourself to train and retain the information you are presented. Training is fun when done right, but it is also for work. If you cannot retain your training, don't get pissy when your performance evaluation doesn't reflect your high self esteem. If you are a supervisor, don't turn into a pussy when you need to be honest with people about their performance. This profession has plenty of room for articulation and there are plenty of ways to accomplish a goal. But it has no room for excuses.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

So what is it?

13 Oct 2015   Okay, I was wrong.  You'll have to read the article to find out wrong about what.

I ran across this photo and it caught my fancy.

So what do you think it is?

 It’s a gun that appears to shoot a 3 inch metal stake.  Is it an industrial tool for anchoring bolts into concrete?  I guess you could use it for extreme mountain climbing to shoot climbing petons into rock cracks.  But I think I’ve got a different answer.

Let’s look a little closer.  The stakes look like they’re loaded into .223 rem cases.  I first thought the gun had a single barrel but if you look closely you’ll see 4 barrels.  The gun looks like it’s a breach loader.  The chambers and attached barrels unlatching at the rear, pivoting on the frame just forward of the trigger guard.  Pop out the empties and drop in four live ones and you’re ready to go.

The chambers don’t look that strong to me.  I look at the thickness of my AR chamber and these don’t seem so hot.  Of course, it could be a reduced load.  Stakes that long wouldn’t be very stable in flight, so it’s a short working distance weapon.  No 50 yard shoot-the-apple-off–his-head shots with this. 
You could work out the weight of the stake assuming it’s a cylinder the diameter of a .223 about 3.5 inches long and has the density of 1050 steel.  From there you could figure the energy traveling at 200 feet per second.  It would take more than my working knowledge to calculate the pressure build-up contained by the brass cartridge acting as a gaskets and steel chamber. 

I wouldn’t want to be the first to try it.

Maybe it’s a stake driver after all.  A vampire stake driver.  They aren’t wood, but maybe in that story iron works better.  No I don’t think it’s some homemade class 3 vest penetrator.  Too easy to saw a 12 gauge down, or get a .308 up close.  No, at the risk of being wrong, this is a movie prop gun.

That’s my story until you prove me wrong.

My sharp eyed friend, Derrick, knew what it was.  It's Russian, specifically a Russian underwater pistol called the SPP-1.  The gun fires a 4.5 mm diameter steel dart that's 115 mm long.  It reminds me of a "Sea Hunt" escapade starting Lloyd Bridges involving shooting guns under water.  I seem to remember them showing the cavitation caused the bullet over the irregular and short effective distances.  it was very cool.

Thanks Derrick!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Sniper Match

I had a chance to participate in a sniper/spotter match.  It wasn’t what you might consider a classic match.  Nobody had to hide in the weeds and get two undetected shots off.  But still there was a lot to learn.

For example, I have to remember to account for the offset between the sight and barrel under 25 yards.  I also learned to check hands and waistlines on the realist photo targets during building searches.  They were good lessons and I hope to remember them.

I also learned I carry too much gear.  Here’s my list:
Rifle w/ dot
Ammo in plastic box
Shooting gloves
Range finder
Sand bag
First aid kit
Folding cleaning rod
4-30 rd magazines
2-20 rd magazines
Leatherman tool
Fixed blade knife
Ear protection
1 liter water
Elbow pads
Magazine carrier on belt
Loading tool
Vest with shooting pad.

Some of these are obvious, right?  No sense attending a match without your rifle or ammo.  But what about the other items?

Here’s what I didn’t use:
Shooting gloves
Sand bag
First aid kit
Folding cleaning rod
2-30 rd magazines
1-20 rd magazines
Leatherman tool
Elbow pads.

Next time I do this I’d leave the extra magazines in my vehicle with the sandbag and a third of my ammo, assuming I could get back to the vehicle at lunch or while moving from stage to stage.  After 4 hours and trooping all over the range, every ounce not carried is a blessing!

Everything else is light enough and has too much potential to be left behind.  Cleaning rod? Solves a lot of potential problems, everything from a mud plugged barrel to a jammed case.  First aid kit, do I even need to discuss this?  Elbow pads?  Go prone on gravel and see what you think.  Extra magazines? You’ve never had one fail?

I traveled light.  Some shooters had shooting mats, spotting scopes with stands, chairs and several sand bags as well as two-way radios to communicate between spotter and sniper.  You can see the utility of those things, but in many cases they required a cart to lug all that gear.

Just think about what you need and what you think you might need and see how luggable it is.

Here's some pictures from the match.

The sniper  has to fire one round from each of the cut outs.  The low offset between the scope and barrel favored most bolt guns.

sniper target
This is the target for the barricade shooters, about 120 yards away.

 Greenport tactical sniping match
From the roof each sniper must shoot 5 targets at 200 yards.  The targets are different size and shape.  Miss one and you lose all your points.
Greenport Tactical sniper match
The sniper is using an old style bolt action rifle, but he still racks up a nice score. It's about the shooter and not the equipment

Spotter stage at the sniper match
The spotter gets to shoot here.  From each barricade a different CoF is required.  At these distances scope off set is important!

spotter stage at sniping match
A spotter engages his first target.  It was very difficult to raise the muzzle sufficiently to engage the targets.

Spotter and sniper working at sniper match
One of the few stages where the spotter works with the sniper.  I'm spotting and my sniper is punching holes in a 2 inch diameter target 89 yards away, after I tell him which colored circle to shoot.

Friday, September 11, 2015

September 11 2015

You go by different names, Al Qaeda, ISIS, Islamic State, but you’re all the same.  We know you are out there and we remember you.

We will kill you when ever we get a chance.

Maybe it will be a drone strike, maybe some grunt with a rifle, some spec ops with a suppressed .22.  It might even be someone with a CCW and snubnose in theater.  It will take years to kill you all.

We have a long memory.

Our politicians may make polite noises.  Some of our people will attempt of placate you.  You should ignore them because we’re still out there.

I know.  You’re wondering why you should worry about an old, over-weight, white, middle class American male.

Come and find out.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Making a Target of Yourself

The recent involvement of three Americans and one Brit in subduing an armed terrorist on a French train has prompted certain warnings on the Internet about the availability of Internet information.  Armed with a name, job and perhaps a photo, terrorist could, it is suggested, seek you and your family out for retribution.  The advice is aimed at both military and police, but it doesn’t take much to extrapolate to include EMTs, Civil Service, city employees, Fire Department and teachers.  Just to start the list.  The people who are the gears that make the machinery of society work are also targets.

The advice, of course is to not have an internet profile.  In today’s world this is a difficult goal to achieve.  I worked with one man who confided he had a facebook page only to see pictures that a frat brother post’s of his children.  For many of us working stiffs Linked-In and Monster are employment safety nets.  Even without them the information you are forced to release to websites you subscribe to or purchase from is often sold and ends up as part of a searchable data base you can access for pennies.

Still, what harm?

I Googled a co-worker using only their name and place of employment.  I ignored any website that required I pay for information.  Knowing where they worked told me what state and city.  I had to work through similar names with various middle initials but I soon found a rhythm to it.   I found pointers to street addresses, partial phone numbers, identity of spouse, ages and a picture of themselves that they posted.

Ack!  It was creepy and made me feel dirty, all in 7 minutes.  But to a terrorist it could be a gold mine.

I don’t know what to say.  I’m certainly not an identity security expert.  I went online and found a lot about identity theft related problems and responses, but nothing about preventing someone from finding you, your spouse or your address.

I suggest you never post a picture of yourself on line or allow your children to do the same.  I would suggest using the same ploy Paxton Quigley recommends in “Armed and Female.”  Get a mail box from Fed-Ex or another company that looks like an address.  Employers want to know where you live?  Credit card companies?  On-line orders?  Give ‘em that address.

Keep your personal life off the internet, especially if your job makes you a target.  You still might need to have a Internet presence, but think very hard about what you say and release.  I’m never going to use the same middle initial and thank God I never used my wife’s name or the name(s) of my children, assuming I have any.

So what am I doing blogging?

Even before this I gave some thought and decided I was a low risk if I was careful.  No names, no good pictures, mislead when possible about my personal specifics.  Plus, nobody is really interested in a dog catcher working for…

Thought you had me there for a minute, didn’t you.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Sniper Match

Greenport Tactical Association will host its yearly Sniper/Spotter Match September 27 2015.  They have room for 24 two person teams.  While it’s not a true sniper match, no 200 yard craw to make a shot or grassy knoll stuff you will shoot at distances from 50 to 200 yards.  The spotter member will shoot shorter distances, but you never can tell what kind of hi-jinks have been thought of.

I’m not participating this year, but I have to admit it sounds like a great time.  I understand there will be some kind of hanging, spring loaded platform to give you the sensation of shooting from a helicopter.  If you want to find out more check the GTA website


Where is GTA?  It’s an outdoor range not far from Canton, Ohio.  Most of you know how hard it is to find places to shoot outdoor.  If you’re within two hour drive you think about putting together a team and sizing yourselves up against others.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Basics 3: Awareness

One of the most basic skills the tactical operator and guy walking down the street needs is awareness.

The first “O” in Boyd’s OODA loop is Observe.  There is a reason nature prefers eyes on the higher parts of the body and not around the ankles.  To survive in any era, the ability to observe danger is critical.

There are many articles on becoming aware of your surroundings and strategies to improve and become a Yoda-like master of awareness.  The easiest one to start with is: put down that phone!

 walking un-aware, head in the electronic clouds
Heads in the electronic clouds

Do you think either of these men are aware of their surroundings?  Either of them could step into a depression in the sidewalk and do a face plant, leaving themselves helpless.  Going Bluetooth doesn’t help either.  You’ve seen the people carrying on a conversation with their invisible Bluetooth friend and be completely out of it.

Driving is even be worse.  During a half second glance at 60mph you’ll travel 14.5 yards.  Is it any better at slow speeds?

In a parking lot, creeping along at 5mph you’ll travel 1.7 yards in a half second glance.   Just far enough to run someone over or crash your car.

Sure, you need to take the message.  It’s from your spouse or kids.  Some messages are important, a doctor’s appointment that opened up, an accident that you need to respond to, a sick child at school.  I could go on and on.

If you’re driving, pull off the road in a safe location, put the flashers on if needed, make sure the doors are locked and check that message.  I keep the engine running and the car in gear with my foot on the brake.  If my environment changes I can start moving by taking my foot off the brake. 

On foot, the same ensconced outlook prevails.   I want to get out of the flow of foot traffic, and I want to get my back to a wall or a solid object.  This limits the access someone trying to approach me has.  Consider stepping into a building and moving to an eddy area of no activity near the doors.

If you’re with someone, ask them to keep and eye out.  They don’t have stand there with a sword in hand like a temple guard, just stand next to you and watch the people move about.  Take a second to look around youself.  Really, no, really look at everyone.  Is anyone still there when you look up next?  Do they have a reason to be there?  Are they a food vendor?  A cop directing traffic?  Someone already there when you arrived?  Every time you finish an operation, (opening the phone, composing the message, closing the phone, storing the phone) look up and around.  Is anyone without a good reason still there?

Just because this is a basic skill, this doesn’t mean it’s simple.

There’s a joke about Holmes and Watson on a camping trip. 

The two drift off to sleep in their tent and Holmes wakes Watson up in the middle of the night.
Holmes:  Watson, do you notice anything?
Watson notices the night sky, the crescent moon in conjunction with Venus.  The Milky Way is especially visible in all its glory and majesty.  He makes smart observations about the mystery of the cosmos and how man’s intellectual pursuits have enabled him to unravel unimaginable mysteries.     

Holmes waits, taking in his friend’s deep thoughts about the relationship of man and cosmic mystery.  Watson pauses and Holmes says to him:
“Watson!  You dunderhead, someone has stolen our tent!

See and obverse.