Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Gun School After Action Report

On April 18, I had the pleasure of attending Signal 88 Security's Intermediate Close Quarters Gunfighting class.

There was so much covered in the class that I hardly know where to begin.

Some highlights:
  • Two-handed and one-handed gun manipulations and malfunction drills.
  • Integrated combatives, using empty-hand techniques to create distance from an attacker and allow the defender to bring his/her gun into play.
  • "See what you need to see in order to do what you need to do." -- Threat identification and assessment being more important than having your sights dominating your field of view.
  • A gunfight is far more about the FIGHT rather than the GUN, and how poorly punching bullseye holes in paper prepares you to fight for your life.
  • The difference between AIMED and SIGHTED fire: all of our shots were aimed, but very, very few were sighted.
  • The Israeli approach to using cover: "When you're afraid, you hug cover, so don't be afraid to hug cover."
  • Avoiding tactical errors that get people killed.
  • Weapon retention, and how to shoot while aggressively defending your weapon.
  • Moving off the X, shooting on the move, how tactics need to differ against a knife compared to a gun.
  • The full three-dimensional 360 degree after-action drill, and the importance of always moving in the direction of the known.
It was eye-opening to see what fell apart and what didn't under increasing pressure. I need WAY more one-hand-only and weak -hand-only practice under non-square-range conditions. Much of that will have to be Airsoft due to the constraints of shooting range rules, but I don't seem to notice recoil or the weight of the gun anyway as the intensity of the drill increases. Anything that builds so-called muscle memory and provides stress inoculation has value.

To my amazement, this is the first training class I've been in that didn't draw blood. Every time I do any serious training, I end up hitting the first-aid kit at least once. Maybe things are looking up.

Signal 88's chief instructors are highly qualified. The class I was in was taught by Devin Crinklaw. Devin is a well-established tactical instructor with a vast amount of tactical training and experience ranging from defensive tactics to explosive breaching and hostage rescue operations.

He is an Instructor Trainer for P.P.C.T., and holds or has received numerous instructor and operator certifications including: Nebraska State Law Enforcement Firearms Instructor, NRA Law Enforcement Firearms Instructor, CQB Instructor, Rapid Deployment Instructor, Patrol Rifle Instructor, Concealed Handgun Instructor, S.P.E.A.R. Instructor, Dynamic Simulation Instructor Trainer, Bill Scott Raceway (High Performance Tactical Driving) and Emergency Vehicle Operations instructor, and holds numerous other credentials specific to combat tactics and training. He has executive protection experience domestically and abroad and is a Certified Personal Protection Specialist. He holds Black Belts in two different martial arts, currently works as a police officer and SWAT Team Member, and is a Primary Defensive Tactics Instructor Trainer for the Omaha Police Department.

I've also previously taken a Signal 88 handgun class taught by Trevor Thrasher: Trevor has wide ranging tactical and special operations experience as both an operator and instructor. This includes service as Army Green Beret, Police Officer, SWAT Team Member, Body Guard, and Private Military Contractor with operational experience in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Trevor has received certifications as an Israeli Counter-Terrorism Tactical Instructor, Law Enforcement Firearms Instructor, Israeli Tactical Shooting Instructor, Concealed Carry Handgun Instructor, S.P.E.A.R. Instructor, Police Krav Maga Instructor, FAST Defense (Fear, Adrenaline, Stress, Training) Instructor, P.P.C.T. (Pressure Point Control Tactics) Instructor, U.S. Army Special Forces Military Hand to Hand Combat Instructor, Police Take Down and Ground Control Instructor, and holds various other instructor and tactical operations certifications with a heavy emphasis on CQB and Combatives, He was the Primary Defensive Tactics Instructor at the Omaha Police Academy, and the primary tactical instructor/adviser for a group of foreign special forces conducting on-going counter terrorism operations, He currently works as a part-time police officer in the Douglas County area, serves as a Special Forces Weapons Sergeant with the 5th Battalion, 19th Special Forces Group (Colorado National Guard), and performs contract security services for various organizations both locally and overseas. He is the Director of Special Operations for Signal 88 Security.

Everyone who takes training seriously wants to go to the big name schools, Thunder Ranch, Gunsite, Front Sight, Blackwater, Lethal Force Institute. But top quality training can also be available locally, and you can afford more training if you don't have to pay for travel and lodging. And there's no such thing as too much training.

Don't overlook the valuable resources in your own back yard.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Command Presence, Command Voice

Via Robb Allen, we have an excellent essay on the Brillianter.com blog about the use of verbal commands in self defense.

At the beginning of the Force Continuum are Command Presence and Command Voice. For the private citizen, Command Presence is staying in Condition Yellow, moving positively and confidently, and wearing clothing that favors stability and maneuverability. If I wander down the street listening to my iPod with my head down and shoulders slumped, wearing high heels or flip-flops, dangling a purse off my elbow by a flimsy strap, I'm setting myself up to be an attractive target. Not so if I stride confidently, my head up paying attention to my surroundings, my Maxpedition pack worn cross-body, and wearing clothes and shoes in which I can run and fight. Even when I had to wear skirts to work, I left my black business pumps in my office and walked to and from my car in running shoes.

Just as natural predators scope out the herd to pick out the vulnerable, so do criminals. Neither a mountain lion nor a mugger wants to have to expend too much energy or incur too much risk when taking down prey. But let's say the shark wants to approach nearer and bump the bait.

That's where Command Voice comes in. Being a small woman, I set the boundaries right away. Because I watch shadows and reflections when walking down the street and stay in the middle of the sidewalk where someone approaching me has to cross open distance first, so far I haven't been blindsided (knock wood). For business-suit types, I move inconspicuously out of arm's reach as they ask for directions. My response is polite leaning toward terse. I sound like I'm in a hurry, which I usually am.

The panhandlers and similar folk get warned right away. "That's close enough. Sorry, I can't help you." I take the "interview stance" and move to my 3 or 9 if they persist. "Back off, I can't help you." I don't back away, since then I'm moving into unknown territory and may fall. My hands are up and empty which looks nonthreatening but puts me in a good position to fend or take action if the person keeps coming. So far nobody has, but I'm always ready.

Then there are other situations that demand immediate control. My property is fenced with padlocked gates posted against trespassing, and it is not for sale. Despite that, I am currently dealing with the fourth round of people who want to buy my property and won't take no for an answer. None of these would-be buyers actually want my circa-1881 house and woods, they just want the land so they can bulldoze everything and build a McMansion. The extremely poor choices these various people have made over the years have been duly documented with the county sheriff, the county attorney, the state patrol, the state fire marshal, and my lawyer. So you can understand why I have a very, very low tolerance for strangers trying to go where they don't belong.

I came home early one day to find a pickup truck parked in my driveway and a man trying to get through the fence within clear sight of a "No Trespassing" sign. I pulled up on the side of the road and got out of my car, keeping the engine block between myself and Mr. Stupid. I didn't waste time on niceties:


He stopped, all right. Hands out and empty, he babbled something about how he'd made a BIG mistake and wouldn't come back if I'd just let him leave. Fine with me.

Then as he peeled out up the gravel road, I called the sheriff with his plate number, description, description of his vehicle, and direction of departure. Too harsh a response? Maybe, but with documented threats on file, I will cut somebody trying to circumvent locked gates to get onto my posted property no slack whatsoever.

Did I present my weapon? Of course not. Would I have done so if the man attacked me with sufficient physical violence to put me in fear of serious injury or death? Absolutely, in an instant. My hand was next to my still concealed and holstered gun, out of his visual range. Fortunately, he left instead of advancing.

No matter how much of what kind of training I have, I'm still a small, not so young any more female with bad knees and other physical shortcomings that put me at a huge disadvantage if I close with a bigger, stronger opponent. I want to keep him at a distance and stop the threat from there, not encourage him to get within grabbing or striking range. His reach and strength are greater than mine.

But through Command Presence and Command Voice, I was able to take control of the encounter -- and hopefully make it clear that any such future attempts would not be tolerated.

The bad guy is the one who chooses to initiate the encounter. Had he not tried to get onto my locked and clearly posted property, there would have been no encounter at all.

The bad guy is the one who chooses how far up the Force Continuum the encounter goes. He could have escalated, but he wisely chose to leave.

I am more than happy the incident stopped where it did, but had it not I was committed to stopping it no matter what. Sorry, but when people are threatening to destroy my home, "just give them what they want" does not apply.

And welcome to the blogroll, Brillianter.com.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Happy Patriots' Day

On this day in 1775, the Battles of Lexington and Concord began the Revolutionary War.

Concord Hymn
Ralph Waldo Emerson

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.

The foe long since in silence slept;
Alike the conqueror silent sleeps;
And Time the ruined bridge has swept
Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.

On this green bank, by this soft stream,
We set to-day a votive stone;
That memory may their deed redeem,
When, like our sires, our sons are gone.

Spirit, that made those heroes dare,
To die, and leave their children free,
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and thee.

Let us never forget the significance of attempted disarmament of the people by government in our country's history.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

You Are The Weapon

An 80-year-old store owner stops an armed robbery by taking away the robber's gun.

It looks like the criminal may have escaped with a whole whopping nineteen dollars. Beats having him get away with an entire day's receipts. That's probably what it will cost him at the laundromat to wash out his skivvies after the way he ran off screaming "Don't shoot me!"

Oh, I'm sorry. What was I thinking? What Mr. Westbrook should have done was just give the robber what he wanted.

Sarcasm off.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Count The Mistakes

In training, I've been instructed to analyze news segments about citizens victimized by criminals. Even though all the details obviously won't be told, there are lessons to be learned from the mistakes these victims made that contributed to their victimization.

Recently, this story appeared on the local news.

A man is robbed in his own driveway. What can we learn from his unfortunate experience?

Mistake # 1: The man noticed a suspicious car tailing him and ignored it. Don't ignore warning signs. We (still) have instincts for a reason.

Mistake # 2: He knew he was being followed and went home anyway. If tailed in a car, do not go home. Instead, head for a busy, well-lit area. Even at midnight, there are lights, activity, and surveillance cameras at Wal-Mart.*

Mistake # 3: Between the contents of his wallet and his going home, the escaped Bad Guys know where he lives. They can return at their leisure to clean out the household valuables. Depending on what was in the wallet and how resourceful they are, they might try a little identity theft on the side. An argument can be made for having a "throw-down wallet" with a few dollars, a couple of those fake credit cards that come in junk mail, and other worthless decoy materials. The robbers probably won't hang around to inspect the contents.

And the biggest mistake of all? Thinking it's okay to bumble through life in Condition White because nothing bad will ever happen in your "upscale neighborhood." As the pickings get slimmer in so-called "bad" areas, more and more criminals will figure out where they need to go to find the good stuff.

Anyone care to speculate whether the wake-up call will lead this man or his neighbors to learn how to be harder targets?

Some might take exception with the lack of gun-related recommendations above. If I'm in my car, I have a whole bunch of options available on the list before I get down to "present your weapon." That's held in reserve if every last effort to Avoid, Disengage, Evade, and Escape fail.

* The same rules apply if you're on foot. Watch your surroundings. If followed, cross the street, go into a business, take some kind of evasive action. Don't get herded into a slaughter pen.

Monday, April 13, 2009

A Great One Passes

Via The Shooting Wire, we learn of the death at age 80 of retired Los Angeles County Deputy Jack Weaver, developer of the Weaver Stance.

It was a radical concept in the days when law enforcement officers typically fired one-handed from the shoulder or hip. It took Jeff Cooper three years of losing to Jack Weaver in pistol competition to convince him of the value of this new at the time concept. Ultimately he incorporated it into his Modern Technique.

I've heard people say the Weaver Stance is dated, and Isosceles is the only way to go. Maybe, but when actually shooting on the move, using cover, and especially when the targets are shooting back, I find it's nowhere near that clear-cut. What seems to get the best results is flowing smoothly between Weaver, Chapman, Isosceles, and Whatever's Working Right Now, as conditions demand.

No matter what two-handed stance we use, I think we all owe Jack Weaver a debt of gratitude.

UPDATE: Read Massad Ayoob's tribute to Jack Weaver here.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Picked Up My Snubby

Well, I really wanted to pick up my new snubby on Buy A Gun Day, but I was so disgusted by the steaming pile last night that was ABC's 20/20: If I Only Had A Gun that I went and got it today.

It already has an appointment with the gunsmith to have the internals polished to smooth out the trigger. In the mean time, I plan to do a lot of dry practice with it to thoroughly familiarize myself with this new and different manual of arms.

Of course I had to start accessorizing right away. We have a Hogue Monogrip, an HKS speed loader, a couple of speed strips, some snap caps, and a pocket holster. Sorry I don't have any pictures yet.

As far as the ABC 20/20 program goes, I can honestly say I have never before seen so much contrived caca in one place. At least the comments on their website are overwhelmingly pro-gun and anti-false-reporting. I am greatly encouraged that so many people are seeing through the smoke-and-mirrors of flagrant media bias.

If you want to see the program, you'll have to find it on your own. I refuse to link to fecal matter. I will, however, happily link to John Longnecker's decisive deconstruction of this waste of air time.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Range Bag Meme*

Q: What's in your range bag?

A: Way too much crap.

Here's the actual inventory:

Target tapers
Snap caps and dummy rounds
IDPA rule book
1" sticky dots
2" sticky targets
Extra batteries for range ears
Magazines, all preloaded on range day to save time
Lens wipes and cloths
Spare Shok-Buffs for the full-size Wilson CQB
Clothespins for paper targets at the indoor range
Heavy-duty pumice hand soap and scrubber
Bushing wrench
Driver handle with bits
P7 tool with scraper and brush
Allen wrench for two-piece guide rods
Kimber take-down paperclips
Hobby clamp for changing Kimber recoil springs
Bootlace for guns that don't capture the recoil spring
Spare extractors, firing pin stops, slide stops, gun springs
Microfiber cloths
Prescription shooting glasses
Electronic range ears
Custom molded earplugs
Magazine cleaning brushes
Patches and pocket cleaning kit
Spray cleaner/lube, needle oiler, grease
Practice hardball and carry ammo

The photo doesn't even include the stuff I found in there that needed to be thrown away.

And it really all fits . . .

In a surprisingly compact package.

If I can't handle it with this, it probably needs a gunsmith.

* Yeah, I think it qualifies as a meme. Thanks, Brigid, Sebastian, Gun Nuts Media, Uncle, JayG, Kevin, et al.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Boston Gun Rights Examiner

Ron Bokleman, the new Boston Gun Rights Examiner, is an avid salt water angler, boater, hunter (turkey, pheasant), firearms enthusiast, political & civil rights activist. He has memberships with the National Rifle Association, the Gun Owners' Action League, the Second Amendment Foundation, the Woburn Sportsmen's Association, and NSA. Ron enjoys writing and will attempt to inspire you to action in these otherwise challenging times.

Welcome to the blogroll, Ron.