Thursday, August 24, 2017


It’s hard for me to watch police camera videos of car chases and shootings.  You want to root for the police, but still the understanding that someone ends up dead, even if it is at his own instigation, is disturbing.

It was first brought to my attention at  It’s mostly about the car chase, but even here, the armed citizen can scrape up a little knowledge.  Get out of the way.  Get off the street if possible as soon as possible or at least pull over and stay there until the parade is over.

The excitement of the chase, the adrenaline dump will cause even the most trained driver to drive reckless.  At about 9:50 our car takes a shortcut on the wrong side of the road around a monument so he can get in front of 4 other police cars.  Do you think there’s potential for tragedy here?  You see the flashing lights, get off the road!  You don’t want to be a bumper in this game of dodge ‘em.

At 10:52 something goes out the window.  What it is isn’t made clear, but I suspect drugs.

At about 11:06 the fleeing car attempts to cross an intersection against the light.  A black SUV neatly clips the fleeing car and spins it out of control.  It has been a called an almost perfect PIT maneuver.

The car rolls to a stop and at 11:18 we see our first police officer, out in the open, essentially naked to incoming rounds.  I hope he was wearing his vest.  As the armed citizen involved in a road rage or spree shooting, we don’t have to take a person into custody.  We can and should stay behind cover and concealment.

The suspect starts to leave the car, the officer fires at least two rounds and realizes he and Gypse Rose Lee have something in common and retreats.  The next second the suspect, a big man, leaves the car and the gun in his right hand is apparent, but he’s holding something in his left hand too.  It looks like he’s fired a gun before.  He’s got the gun in line with his eye, so I suspect he has a flash sight picture.  The time is 11.25.

It looks like the gun is recoiling in his hand.  He doesn’t care about the backstop, whoever that might be.  It appears the police don’t either.  Take this as a reminder on several levels.

  •                 Incoming rounds have right of way. Use cover when possible
  •                 Rounds from the police don’t care who you are either.  Get behind cover.
  •                 Big fat people can be dangerous and quick on their feet
  •                 Criminals use quality, reliable handguns just as we do
  •                 While it may be difficult for a criminal to practice, they can and some do.
  •                 Don’t assume that seeing one gun means only one gun.

Our suspect has maybe a minute to live.  It’s hard to think about that.   In under a minute a life will expire.  What must that do to the police officers and witnesses?  Somebody cared for, maybe loved that big guy and now he’s gone.  There’s another message for the armed citizen.  Don’t let the finger on the trigger become a self-fulfilling prophesy.  We are never required to shoot.

He goes down around 11:27, almost at the same time a puff of smoke appears rising from the street behind him.  It doesn’t matter who fired that shot, him or a police officer.  It’s going down range looking for a resting place.

After that time your guess is a good as mine.  You still see puffs of smoke on the payment suggesting the police are still shooting. He’s still moving and what’s in his left hand is still unclear to us.  Occasionally the body jerks, was that another round or a death spasm? 

I’m willing to give the police the benefit of doubt.  I wasn’t there and we have only one video to look at.  My dialog might be significantly different from another point of view. 

The armed citizen faced with a lethal force encounter must be aware of the backstop, options available to them, and the constantly changing escalation and descalation.  Remember that down is not the same as out.  Immobile is not the same as helpless. 

If this had been a road rage confrontation starting at 11:06 and the shooter just popped out of his car and started shooting at you, the driver behind him, would you have shot him after he was down?  The answer depends on the totality of the situation.

I like watching these police videos, until I realize they are not actors.  They’re men and women who have to live and die with their actions and results.  Spend a little time thinking about what you, the armed citizen, would have done in that conflict.  Then say a prayer it never happens. 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

It's More Than Noise

It’s was a bang-bang kind of week-end.  Saturday was our women’s intro to handguns.  We focus on safety foremost, then shooting, safe storage, transportation among other things.  Is there anyone who never picked up a gun and wondered if they could defend themselves with it?  I doubt it, so we covered it.  It’s not a CCW course, but self-defense is at the core. 

I’ve always believed that the biggest stumbling block to self-defense is not the mechanics, but lack of surety that you are justified.  We spend time discussing the factors that justify lethal force; tactics involved, anticipating problems and solutions.

What tactics?  How about the Ohio Castle Law, for example?  It’s a hot button issue for me and I advise people:
  • To determine if lethal force is appropriate,
  • To identify the suspected intruder enough to know they don’t belong there,
  • When possible, retreat to a position of strength in your house.

To help them find positions of strength we shoot up their house.  We use real, factory rounds.  It’s one of my favorite demos.  TV teaches us a person can duck behind an interior plaster wall and be safe from multiple gun shots.  

Home shooting with plaster walls
The spacing between the walls is reduced but really, air has stopping power?  The thickness of the walls is correct.

We come in with two sections of a stud wall covered with sheet rock and punch holes in it using the rounds they are shooting , Glasser Safety Slugs and several hollow points.    We propose that the space between the walls has no contribution to stopping power and it’s only the wall board that means anything.

Front of wall with bullet holes
The unlabeled hole on the bottom was a .38 spl Hydra-shok.  The Glasser is the middle and it's punching a small hole in the second wall.

Everything goes through the wall board.  The only thing that might not make it through the second wall if it was more distant was the Glasser Safety Slug.  By the time it leaves the back of the first wall, I’ve seen evidence it’s breaking apart, but it’s not consistent.

After this demo we talk about considering where your missed rounds will go.

shooting indoors
You are in the third room looking at the wall separating you from the second room or three rooms away from the gunshot.  The middle round, a Hyda-Shok might be bigger, but it and all the other rounds are still dangerious!

By the end of the day, the women leave with a better understanding of shooting.  The women tell me they had fun shooting paper plates on a sheet of cardboard.  I tell ‘em I have fun doing that too!

The following day was a pistol match at my favorite range, Greenport Tactical Association.  We still have a minor flooding problem on one ranger, but the match director was able to work around the swampy parts.

I was lucky.  I got assigned to the squad that wanted to have safe fun.  Almost every stage had to be partially re-pasted and re-started because of gun jams, improperly inserted magazines and the occasional brain fart.   It was fun.

The other squad shot all three ranges and was finished by 11:30 in time for lunch and cake, celebrating 15 years of matches at GTA.  They were nice enough to stick around and tear down their last stage which really helped.

Head shots, Baby!
Some bloggers criticize matches as poor training.  I admit I have a foot in that camp.  I would rather have barricades that require me to shoot from any two different positions with a reload in between than 15 head shot targets.  But I’m willing to accept that the trigger control you have to demonstrate to put a round in 15 five-inch paper plates at varying distances and heights is an important skill.  My strongest objection is to those of us who think a match with paper targets represents reality.  Remember, cardboard doesn’t scatter at the first gunshot and paper targets don’t shoot back.

What else can I say!

Still, the match was great fun and we had cake!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Running Target

The nice thing about rifle night, at least from the activity director (big title for the guy who sets it up), is you do things you’re interested in.  Sometimes it doesn’t have to involve rifles.

At our last rifle night we started by timing in with our pistols at about 5 yards.  Of the six participants, only a few could draw an unconcealed weapon and hit the target center of mass with one round under 2 seconds.  We cycled through the drill a few times and most of us got it under 2 seconds.

We'll shoot these with both pistol and rifle to time in.
We use paper plates as replaceable centers,

We backed up another 5 yards for a total of 10 yards, slung our ARs and repeated the drill.  While we fired three rounds, I was only interested in the time to first round.  To my surprise, despite holding the weapon in the low ready it took most people almost the same time to bring the rifle up and fire as drawing the sidearm and fireing. 

I had them back-up as I thought it would be too easy at 5 yards, just point and pull. 

I made a few observations on timing in:
Several people, drew their pistol and then repositioned their bodies or moved their feet.  This always took extra time.  Learn to shoot with your feet where they are.

Some had trouble with their operating controls.  That includes safeties and sights.  One shooter using a dot sight on his pistol showed improved time simply by switching to iron sights.  He is still in the learning curve of finding the reflex sight’s dot.  A dot sight could be the answer to several age related problems.  There are several ways to shoot a dot sight, including using the entire sight as a giant ghost ring.

Many of us shoot several guns.  Why?  Because we can, but we don’t get the benefit of shooting the same gun over and over again.  Speaking for myself, I suspect we’re having trouble with our sights.  This can be cause by several factors.  We may not be able to see them sharply.  We aren’t bringing up the gun with the front sight visible in the rear, or we’re trying to get the front sight level, even and perfectly symmetrical in the rear sight.  A perfect sight picture will never happen outside of a ransom rest.

Dry firing and practice drawing will help that with all of these.

One of the best local shooters has natural talent.  He really shoots better than any of the other local shooters.  He doesn’t practice, he’s that good.  Watching him you realize he makes no unnecessary motion.  His draw doesn’t look that fast, but his time is.  Again, it’s because he doesn’t waste time with unnecessary motion.  I suspect he has a well developed sense of proprioception, but in any case reducing unnecessary motion will improve your time.

I expected rifle time to be faster since the gun was already out and in your hands, so I was a little surprised it took about the same time.  I suspect since the rifle was heavier than a pistol, with different balance and requires two hands so it took longer to mount the rifle and crack off a round.  The rifle bridges hands, shoulder, eye and target so it may actually be more complicated than shooting a handgun.  Here too, practice would improve performance.

We also ran a reverse Tueller drill.  What’s a Tueller Drill?  The short answer is it demonstrates how fast a person can close on you while you are drawing your sidearm.  You can read more at:

This time we placed the ‘armed’ humanoid target at 21 feet and attacked them with a target on a mover.  It’s a simple system, you pull a rope as fast as you can, the shooter tries to get at least one round off before they are run over by the oncoming target.  By placing the puller behind the shooter, the movement is surprise.

An easy to make mover, the wheels are the most expensive part

The rules were simple.  When the mover starts, you react.  Even with piece of paper on a wood frame, many shooters found it intimidating.  Most of us instinctively moved sideways from the moving target.

We discovered most of us were point shooting as the target was on top of us by the time we fired.   Weapon retention was called for, not sight picture.

Even practicing it several times didn’t drastically change the outcome. 

Because of the layout of the tracks of the mover, all the shooters moved to their left so any misses and shoot throughs hit the ground to the shooters right.  Not only do you need to look at what’s the backstop behind the shooter, but to the left and right. 

We repeated the experiment with the rifles. We moved the shooters back to about 36 feet and discovered the same thing.  It takes longer for a person with a rifle to raise the rifle from the low ready and discharge one round.  Assuming that at least one of the 8 or 9 people shooting was a competent rifleman, this is astonishing.

The drill indicates you can run over 10 yards ( a football first down!) and stab a rifle man before he can get his rifle up and discharge one round.  That’s true for 7 yards with a pistol in a holster.  This implies you need more reactive gap with a rifle than a pistol!