I'll admit to occasionally being surprised, but when I saw a headline over at Forgotten Weapons about a Savage revolver, I scratched my head just a little. I couldn't recall any revolver made by Savage; autoloaders yes, and of course rifles, but a revolver?
Turns out that the Savage Model 101 isn't really a revolver at all; it just looks like one. The ‘cylinder’ is fixed to the barrel, and the entire assembly pivots out from the frame to access the single chamber for loading and unloading. In this regard it’s very similar to the Colt Camp Perry Model, with the exception of the ‘cylinder’ - on the Colt, they removed the unused material and made the ‘cylinder’ the same width as the frame. (They did, however, flute the thing so that, from a distance and directly from the side, it could be a little difficult to tell the difference.)
Have a look at the video Ian made of his time with the Model 101. I'm not sure just why, but I want one!
This is a little different than what I usually do on Fridays, but I think it’s important. As you may have heard, credit card processor Square recently announced that it would no longer do business with people who were in the firearms business. Whatever their reason, they’ve made it very clear that they don’t have much respect for us or our industry.
Be very clear: Square is certainly within their rights to decide who they want to do business with. I support that right. At the same time, we as their customers have a right to educate the marketplace about that company’s competitors, those businesses who might have more respect for the Second Amendment and the people who exercise the rights it protects.
To that end, feel free to share this article far and wide. Tell your friends, families, and anyone you see using a Square reader: if Square doesn’t want our business, there are alternatives!
Not a Square deal! by Grant Cunningham
Square, the iPhone-friendly charge card acceptance service, stunned the firearms industry recently when they decided they would no longer accept accounts from companies that sold weapons - or, presumably, had anything to do with weaponry.
Many small companies in the firearms and training businesses had come to rely on Square to be able to accept credit cards from their customers. Having the company decide that they no longer wanted perfectly good and legal business was a blow to many, and now lots of enterprises are scrambling for a replacement.
Why did Square decide to abandon these customers? The company is being rather coy, but one industry outlet pointed out that Square is preparing to go public, and may have wanted to ‘clean up’ their customer roster beforehand.
I don’t know about you, but being lumped into a group that needs to be purged doesn’t sit all that well with me!
What Square is Square, along with some similar competitors, is what’s known as an ‘aggregator’. That is, they supply a front end for access to their own merchant accounts, access which they sell to people who want to accept cards. The transactions go through Square’s accounts and then to a credit card processor, for which Square charges their handling fee. Think of it as a straw purchase for credit card transactions, and you’ll get the concept.
The result is a system that’s easy to set up, because the merchant doesn’t need to qualify for an account of his/her own or go through the rigorous underwriting process of traditional processors. The merchant doesn’t have any exposure, but that also means that he/she is at the mercy of the company offering the service - in this case, Square. They can (and did) change their terms at will, leaving their customers out in the cold.
The solution? Get a real merchant account from a credit card processor - the folks who supply the service which Square resells. Not only will it be cheaper, you’ll be insulated from the whims of a service provider who may purge your account for any reason, including their own changing political positions.
The credit card processor I talked with Ian Miller, the Vice President of Merchant Banking at Merchant Services Ltd. (‘MSL’). MSL is the company behind the PistolPay system, the competitor to PayPal who will accept payment for things the eBay-owned PayPal won’t. MSL is an actual card processor - the company that runs the transactions companies like Square give to them. They do the actual work!
As Ian explained, today there is a wide variety of mobile payment solutions available. He said that MSL had nearly a dozen from which to choose, many of which are actually cheaper than Square for the average merchant.
While set-up is a little more involved than what Square required, it’s not that difficult and the benefit is an account that can’t be canceled (outside of things like using it to commit fraud, of course.)
That’s because an actual credit card processor doesn’t make political decisions about what the transaction is for; their concern is that the transaction is honest and legal. The result is an account that won’t be abandoned by changing political positions.
In fact, the credit card processor is probably the most agnostic entity between your customer and you. Banks have occasionally decided to drop customers whose business they dislike, but the card processor isn’t tied to your - or any - bank. Their agreement with companies like VISA, MasterCard and Discover is that they will process any transaction that falls within the card issuer’s guidelines.
The aggregator, in contrast, has no such obligation. They’re a merchant themselves, and they can decide which customers they do and don’t want. When they decide that guns and anything to do with guns are unacceptable, there’s no recourse other than to cancel your account before they do it for you.
Simple hardware One of the big draws with Square is the tiny little card reader that simply plugs into your smartphone. As Ian explained, those turn out to be less than ideal, especially if you’re using it often. The readers plug into the headphone jacks, and there are many reports of the plug portion breaking off in the phone!
While MSL can supply those kinds of simple readers, they can also supply more robust systems that will take the kind of abuse someone who processes a lot of transactions can dish out. Some of them can also be used in environments, like at a range, where they might get knocked around. For the merchant who travels to his clients, a ruggedized model might keep from having to send the phone to the shop to fix a broken-off reader plug!
Another hardware issue with those cheap readers is the larger percentage of unread swipes. If for some reason the reader can’t get information from the card’s magnetic strip, the merchant has to key the card in manually. Those manually keyed transactions cost more to process, and so the merchant is charged accordingly.
The small readers, like those used by Square and their competitors, have a higher ‘no read’ percentage than the better card readers that are available. That translates in to a higher number of cards you need to key in manually, which means higher fees and less money in your pocket. In this case, you definitely get what you pay for!
If you’ve been to an Apple store, you’ve no doubt marveled at the card readers attached to the back of each employee’s iPhone. Ian tells me they can supply similar devices too; they’re not cheap, but if you run a lot of transactions and need an all-in-one solution that’s very rugged, they can fix you right up.
The readers companies like Square use may be cheap, but if your business depends on the ability to swipe cards a better reader may be a wiser choice.
Future proof One of the real benefits of having an actual merchant account, especially the way MSL handles it, is that the same account you use to take orders on your website can be used to take orders on your smartphone! Having the accounts integrated makes accounting and reconciliation easier, and allows you to grow with your customers.
The biggest benefit of acquiring your own merchant account, however, may be the level of service you receive. Reporting services are more robust, you can get more timely information, and when you need to integrate your new storefront your representative at the card processor can help you get that done in a timely fashion.
Companies like Square make things easy, but in exchange for making life easy you give up a lot of features, services, and even security. As we’ve seen, if your aggregator decides they no longer want “your kind”, that’s it! Getting a real merchant account, particularly from a devoted Second Amendment processor like Merchant Services Ltd, is the smart way to replace Square.
In my book "The Shooter's Guide To Handguns" is a short chapter on famous (and some not-so-famous) handguns and their designers. Once you get beyond Colt and Browning, most people’s knowledge ends, and that’s a shame; there’s more to life than just those two!
As Americans we tend to believe that all of the great gun inventors were American, but that's simply not true. From the earliest firearms history to today, there are great - and important - designers who were born and did their business well away from the United States. Some of them even worked for "the other side".
While my knowledge base is a little larger than most, I still don't claim to be an authority on gun designers. I may know a few more of them than the average person, but there are many even I've never heard of. Take, for instance, Arkady Shipunov. He was the chief designer at Russia's Tula arsenal for decades, and apparently produced a very wide range of firearm designs. My interest in him is because of a rather intriguing polymer pistol called the GSh-18.
I've written before of the need to match the training you get and the equipment you use to the life you actually lead, not the life you fantasize about leading.
What does this mean? It means that if you're training with a full-sized tricked-out autoloader on the weekends, but the majority of your waking hours are spent with a 5-shot revolver in a pocket holster, your training isn't going to be congruent with your expected use. Training done under such false pretenses is of significantly lesser value than if you’re honest with yourself up front.
It’s a better use of your limited time, money and energy to train with the tools that you are most likely to be using, rather than picking training gear because it looks cool or because it's what your instructor/guru uses or because it gives you an edge in the all-too-common class shoot-off.
Similarly, if your training event focuses on things like running through a shoot house taking out 'tangos' in various 'hostage rescue' scenarios, you're not training realistically either. You wasted training resources that could better have been used to simulate the kinds of attacks that are likely to happen to you at work, at the gas station, or in your home.
Even if you've covered all those plausible scenarios, it’s still not a good use of your resources to train in ways that aren’t similar to your life. If you take a class in advanced hostage rescue team tactics, that class will use up resources that could have been used doing things like taking a course in how to deal with massive trauma (a skill far more likely to be needed even than drawing your gun) or in de-escalation techniques or even in defensive driving. Those are skills which are far more likely to be needed for events which are far more likely to happen to you (by at least an order of magnitude) than being faced with a jihadi-infested three-story building.
"All trigger time is good" is a fallacy. Poorly planned or selected trigger time keeps you from focusing on more plausible, and thus more important, skills.
Sherman House, a dental surgeon with whom I have a passing acquaintance, has made a similar pilgrimage from tactical silliness to reality. He recently penned an essay for the I.C.E. Training Journal where he discusses his evolution and what his training looks like today versus what it used to look like.
Great reading and very much recommended. -=[ Grant ]=-
The reaction from the gun-grabbers was hardly surprising: they’re moving to make 3D printed guns illegal. Of course we all understand how meaningless such a law would be, but they have to do something, by golly!
It is not an anomaly; building a gun using primitive machine tools is often the norm in places where armed resistance is a necessity, arms are scarce, and there is no factory to supply the need.
The Šokac can be made in a garage using not much more than a medium-sized lathe and milling machine; any reasonably skilled gunsmith could construct one with the normal tools of the trade, as could many automobile mechanics or one of the tens of thousands of metalworking hobbyists who have a machine shop in their home. A high school metal shop could turn them out en masse.
The only real difference between the Šokac and the Defense Distributed “Liberator” pistol is the skill level needed to build one. When you compare the cost of the minimal hardware necessary to make a steel gun and a plastic one, the numbers are very similar - it’s the skills necessary to do so which differentiate the two. The Liberator can be made by anyone with a decent computer and the funds to acquire a 3d printer. (Wait until the machinists and the 3D printer owners get together…)
In other words, this story isn’t really news. People have been surreptitiously building firearms since the dawn of the gun, and that hasn’t changed. It’s just gotten to the point where one doesn’t get grime under their fingernails doing so.
It also underscores the futility of trying to outlaw firearms altogether, which is the overt goal of many anti-Second Amendment zealots. People will find a way to make them, right under the noses of the people who say they can’t.
In case you missed it, the biggest news event to come out of the NRA Annual Meeting and convention this last weekend came from an unlikely source: a seminar on home defense concepts by Rob Pincus. (Those who know Rob may say it isn’t all that surprising he'd make headlines, but with the election of a new and indiscriminately vocal NRA president intent on reliving the 1990s it was surprising the press would focus on Pincus instead. Probably just as well that they did.)
It all started when the Think Progress blog, which has a decidedly anti-Second Amendment position, snuck a stowaway into Rob's seminar and videoed a couple of minutes which they put on YouTube. The video is part of his discussion on keeping a spare gun - should you have one - in a quick-access safe in your kid's room. The idea is that, in the case of a home invasion, it's very likely that you'll head to protect your kids first - and wouldn't it be a good idea to have a defensive tool there in case you hadn't yet made it to your safe room and retrieved its armament?
Here's the clip they posted:
Of course the key here is that the gun is kept in a safe, the same as it would be in your own bedroom. As Rob took care to explain, the safe in the kid's room is no more dangerous than the safe in your room. If the kids know there's a safe anywhere (and any conscientious parent will admit that you can't hide anything from kids - they will find it), they'll play with it. The fact that it's in their parent's bedroom makes it no less immune to their tampering than if it were on the coffee table in the living room. Kids, as I'm told, will be kids.
That's why the gun is in a quality, tamper-proof safe that's securely bolted down. The gun is no more dangerous than it would be in a safe anywhere else in the house, but it is accessible in an area where it is plausible that it would be needed. Logical, no?
The story was quickly picked up by any number of knee-jerk blogs and websites, including the Huffington Post (whose editorial board is a staunch supporter of the Bill Of Rights, except the parts they find icky - like the Second.) The response amongst the prohibitionists was immediate, predictable and nearly unvarying: "Gun Expert Urges People To Keep Guns In Children's Bedrooms!"
Once there, the story-that-really-isn’t-a-story made its way into some a few of the more mainstream media outlets with similar results. It got even bigger play across the Atlantic, where both the Guardian and the Daily Mail expressed their dismay over the perceived craziness in the Colonies. (If Piers Morgan hasn't hopped on this story yet, he soon will.)
The story may get a bigger boost today: Rush Limbaugh's website featured the story this morning, and as I write this his live show hasn't yet started but I expect him to talk about it. (I don't often listen to Limbaugh, as I personally can't stand demagogues on any side of any issue, but I might make an exception today.)
What do you think: does keeping a gun in a safe in the kid's room make sense to you? (Feel free to post links to any mainstream news site which features this story!) -=[ Grant ]=-
It's no secret that I'm enamored with the Saturn V rocket. For my generation (read: old fogies) the Saturn V defined the United States; it was big, bad, and cemented our belief in our technical superiority over the Evil Empire (read: Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.) To this day it is the tallest, heaviest, and most powerful rocket ever to be deployed and holds the record for launching the heaviest payload into space. It's also the most reliable, because in its 13 launches it never lost a crew member or payload.
The Saturn V was the rocket that took us to the moon, and there was nothing like the giant fireball of the Rocketdyne F-1 engines in its first stage to ignite our nationalistic pride on liftoff. Those godless Soviets may have been first, but by golly we were the BEST!
In the 2 minutes and 41 seconds those engines burned they took the Saturn V to an altitude of 42 miles and a speed of over 6,000mph. At that point the first stage was jettisoned and the five Rocketdyne engines would tumble into the sea, to be forgotten by the American people.
Occasionally I'll run into an instructor who is teaching appropriate, plausible skills but who insists on using the "another tool for your toolbox" metaphor. Why would he or she intentionally handicap the material in that way?
Sometimes it's because what's being taught lacks internal consistency. The skills and concepts don't relate to each other well, or perhaps the plausible skill contradicts another less plausible one. This happens when the instructor has no overall philosophy for the course as a whole, and has simply gathered what seems 'cool' from disparate sources and stuffed them all into a toolbox of a course.
Very often the toolbox metaphor is used to mask the fact that the instructor is not capable of explaining the technique in terms that the students can grasp and apply. This inability to articulate why a skill is valuable or useful can be simply due to a lack of teaching skill, but often it's a cover for an incomplete understanding of what’s being taught.
If the instructor doesn't understand the material at its core, both in terms of how to perform the skill but also the reason for learning/practicing/evaluating that skill, it's easy to fall back on telling the students that it's another tool for their toolbox. The students, having heard that saying from other instructors or seen it used in books or articles, are goaded into accepting the lack of explanation.
This is also the case when the instructor isn't capable of answering the questions that the students are capable of generating. While this is often due to a lack of deep understanding, it can also be a defense against those rare students who are wedded to a particular point of view and will not accept logic and reason when the material contradicts what they've trained previously. I speak from experience: it can be tempting to fall back on the toolbox metaphor when faced with such a vocally intransigent student, but I believe professionalism demands that I resist the urge. (It also demands that I resist the urge to hit them upside the head with a two-by-four, which I’ve so far been able to do. I will admit to being sorely tempted, however!)
It’s admittedly difficult to explain to any student that a technique or concept has a very narrow range of application, but that it still falls within that plausible range of expectation. When I teach a full (two day) Combat Focus Shooting course, for instance, at the end of the second day there is a drill that teaches a specific technique to address a specific kind of threat that isn’t adequately handled by any other method. I certainly could tell the students “it’s another tool for the toolbox”, but that wouldn’t give them the understanding they need to put the technique into context.
Instead, I take the time and expend the effort to explain the very narrow but plausible circumstances under which the technique is justified, the logical reasons why it’s the most intuitive response to that type of a threat, and why they shouldn’t waste an inordinate amount of their limited training resources practicing the technique extensively.
From the standpoint of instructional integrity I think it’s important to not allow oneself to slip into the habit of using a trite explanation like “another tool for the toolbox.” It’s far better to explain the reason for the material, its expected use, and the frequency with which it needs to be practiced to maintain a certain level of proficiency. If the instructor can do that, there is no need for the toolbox nonsense; if he or she can’t, it should give the students pause.
Whether to cover up for a lack of plausibility or to disguise an issue with the ability to teach the material, the "tools for the toolbox" metaphor is at best a smokescreen. If you're taking a class from someone who uses it in place of rational and complete explanation, it's a sign that you need to be asking questions and getting clarification before accepting the material as being valid.
In many of the classes I teach one phrase (or a variation) comes up with disturbing frequency: "another tool for the toolbox." Not because I say it, but because sooner or later a student will say it.
Then comes The Lecture.
As many of my students will attest, I hate that term. When it's uttered in class I take the time out to explain why I hate it, why it's nonsensical, but most importantly why it's dangerous from the standpoint of learning defensive shooting skills.
The toolbox metaphor seems useful; you buy tools (learn skills), and then when you need the tool to do a job you can go to your toolbox, pull out the tool, and use it for the task at hand. In reality it's more like you have an overflowing toolbox full of low-quality implements, none of which you've actually used because you've not run across the need for them yet - and then you suddenly have a woodworking problem only to realize hat all of your tools are for a machinist!
The toolbox analogy is usually used to justify, as opposed to explain, a technique or concept. If a technique has a plausible use there is no need to justify it; the use itself will be sufficient justification. It's only when the technique doesn't have a plausible use that it becomes necessary to explain why it's being taught by using the self-referential toolbox analogy: "we're learning this technique to put in our toolbox because we have a toolbox to fill."
In any given class there are things which I could teach which don't really have much (if any) application to defensive shooting, particularly defensive shooting as applied to the sudden criminal attack (ambush.) They're neat, they look cool and will impress your friends, but they have no application to defending yourself against the attack you didn't know was coming. I could concoct some ridiculous hypothetical instance in which that technique might be useful, but the less relevant the technique the more outlandish the scenarios become.
Why, you might ask, would I be teaching such a thing if it really doesn't have any application to the life my students lead? That's when the toolbox comes out: you don't need to worry that it doesn't seem useful, it's just another tool for your toolbox in case you need it! The students are mollified and I can continue filling the time with things other than what the students really need to know.
The toolbox metaphor, however coyly phrased or authoritatively uttered, is a red flag that what you're learning really doesn't have a plausible (let alone probable) use, which means you're probably spending time learning stuff other than what is likely to keep you safe. The toolbox is a waste of your limited training resources, resources that might be better spent learning things that will actually save your life.
Sometimes, though, the instructor will use the toolbox to cover something that actually is useful and plausible. If something is obviously useful, why use the metaphor? I'll cover that next time.
Several years back I told the story of my Father and his history with the famous B-29 Superfortress bomber. He loved that airplane, and never missed a chance to read or watch anything and anything about Boeing's first modern strategic bomber.
As it happens he and I went aboard the only flyable B-29 in existence, the Commemorative Air Force's 'Fifi', when it visited Oregon many years ago. Of the nearly 4,000 built, only Fifi can still take to the sky. There are 21 others in various museums around the globe, but she's the only one who can still stretch her wings.
Hope is not lost, however, because in February a new non-profit group took ownership of the craft and the restoration has now resumed.
Apparently most of the difficult work has already been done, but that doesn't mean getting the thing into flying condition is going to be cheap or easy! The group is looking for donations and volunteers, and they have a website where you can do both - or simply learn more about the plane and their dream of flying her once again.
A question from a student in the class I taught last weekend brought up an interesting dichotomy in the defensive shooting world: what we prepare for often doesn't match what we actually face. Many people prepare for social violence, but actually face asocial violence. The difference between the two affects how and what we train.
Social violence is that which occurs between people engaged in a ritualized struggle for status or prestige; it can also be applied to groups vying for territory. Social violence occurs between two people who see each other as people, as antagonists, and there is often an aspect of mutuality to the encounter. The term 'fight' is most appropriate when referring to social violence, and the victim usually has some forewarning of the attack in the form of the posturing which precedes it. He (or she) may not recognize those cues, but they exist. Social violence is very often illustrative of escalation.
This is in stark contrast to asocial, or criminal, violence in which the victim is seen as a resource by the perpetrator. The resource is to be exploited with as little danger to the exploiter as possible, and that usually means both surprise and overwhelming force (or threat of force.) The term 'attack' is more appropriate when referring to criminal violence, and it usually shocks the victim by being both surprising and rapid.
A rather large, and in my mind unwarranted, amount of time in defensive shooting classes is spent training to deal with social violence gone bad. Why unwarranted? If the defensive shooting data that Tom Givens has collected is any indication, the overwhelming majority of lethal force incidents are in response to criminal violence and not social violence. His victims were usually doing normal, everyday things when they were surprised by a violent attacker. They weren't engaging in the one-upsmanship dances that typify social violence; they were attacked and needed to respond immediately. Their encounters lasted mere seconds.
(It could be argued that Tom's data set, gathered from his students who were engaged in shooting incidents, is heavily biased toward those who have either learned to avoid social violence or are socioeconomically predisposed to conduct which does not place them in the kinds of situations where social violence is common. After all, people with hot tempers and/or a psychological need to dominate others are usually not the responsible types who tend to sign up for shooting classes.)
In defensive shooting training, focusing on social violence as a precursor to the use of lethal force leads to training which doesn't reflect the reality of how attacks happen. The escalating nature of social violence lends itself to formulaic responses: verbal challenges, maneuvering for position, getting into the perfect (and preferred and usually non-intuitive) stance, getting a solid focus on the front sight, and shooting rapidly by "catching the link" to reset the trigger perfectly between shots and reduce split times.
The problem is that the techniques for the social violence scenario don't match the circumstances under which criminal violence occurs. If you don't know the attack is coming beforehand (because you've not spent the last minute or two sparring with someone who is trying to save face) you won't get the opportunity to use your well-practiced verbal de-escalation techniques; there won't be time to look around and get in just the right location to take advantage of cover; the sudden attack will activate your body alarm reaction and you'll automatically square yourself to the threat, which negates any sort of special stance; the loss of accommodation in the eyes and the resulting lock of focus at infinity makes it unlikely that you'll be able to focus on your front sight; and the reduction in blood flow to your hands, resulting in lowered tactile sensation, dexterity and strength means you're probably not going to be able to feel the little 'click' which tells you the trigger has reset.
So, the known and documented physiological reactions (which can't be trained away) to the kind of attack which most commonly results in the use of lethal force doesn't match the stuff that's learned in preparation for the least common kinds of incidents. In my mind, that's not a good use of scarce training resources! It's better to train in techniques which acknowledge the nature of the attack and our hardwired responses to them; they are more likely to result in an efficient response.
As it happens, the things that you learn to respond to criminal violence will work just as well if you need to shoot as a result of social violence, but the reverse is not true. This is because a learned response will always work when the body's alarm reaction hasn't been activated, otherwise you wouldn't have been able to learn it in the first place. They may not work under the body's natural alarm reactions, however, unless they match the way in which the body responds - because those natural reactions can't be trained away.
Does this mean that understanding social violence and how to deal with it is useless? No, not at all. In fact, Wim Demeere's blog recently had an article on how to deal with social violence that I think is worth your time to read. (It's aimed at men and their particular kind of interactions.) Everyone should know how to handle these kinds of incidents to prevent them from escalating to the point that lethal force is both warranted and needed.
It's when we add in the tool (a gun) and body functions that aren't normally encountered (because we've been surprised by a criminal attack) that we need to thoughtfully modify how and what we train.
I'm tired. I always am after teaching a class, but it's a good tired. Knowing that my students emerged from two days of training with relevant, evidence-based defensive shooting skills is a wonderful feeling.
The class in question was a Combat Focus Shooting course held at Firearms Academy of Seattle. Though the current ammo shortages reduced the size of the class - two people dropped out only because they couldn't scrape up even 1/4 of the ammo they needed - we had a good group of very enthusiastic students.
One of the interesting things that came out of this class was a confirmation of the need to consider the student when we teach sighted fire, and by that I mean how we use our sights when we need to use them. In this class I had two students who, like me, wear bifocals. For quite some time I've said that using a traditional front sight focus is neither practical nor even possible for someone who needs supplementary close-up vision correction. In fact I even wrote an article for the Personal Defense Network on this very topic, titled "I Can't See My SIghts!"
Both of the students had problems using their sights when they needed to simply because they couldn't focus closely enough to get the front sight sharp. I coached them on the points in the article: focus on the target, allow the sights to blur, and then align and superimpose the sights on the target. Look THROUGH the sights, not AT them. Suddenly they were hitting even small targets at plausible distances, which neither had been able to do before then. We even had time to try a few shots at small targets from barely plausible distances, and both of them were easily able to land their rounds on target.
In our debrief one of them mentioned that his deteriorating eyesight had actually caused him to consider selling all of his handguns and using a shotgun for home defense. He decided to take this class because he'd heard of my target-focus emphasis and wanted to get some experience and coaching in this approach. By the end of the course his shooting, his balance of speed and precision, was very close to that of the younger and sharper-eyed students. He told me that he was astonished at how quickly his shooting turned around and was delighted that he not only wouldn't need to sell his pistols, but that he now felt much more comfortable carrying one for self defense.
The other bifocal wearer had been to other schools - very well known schools, in fact - that had taught an inflexible front sight focus technique for all defensive shooting. Using a target focus was new to him, but he rapidly grew to appreciate the fact that it allowed him to deliver whatever level of precision he needed, as fast as he could, at whatever plausible distance he found himself - which he'd not been able to do for some time. His debrief comments could easily be summarized by an old quote from Robin Williams: "Reality - what a concept!"
I've found that these reactions are pretty typical for people who have formerly trained with instructors who don't understand how the human visual systems work nor understand the need to modify techniques if the student's particular issues require it. (I've never had student tell me that he was considering selling his handguns because of this, however.) It was a pleasure to be able to give these two people the information they needed and help them learn the defensive shooting techniques that might someday keep them alive.
I watched something amazing last night: the running gunfight with the Marathon bombing suspects in Watertown, MA. The interesting thing is that I didn't watch it on CNN; I followed it on Twitter.
I'll leave it to you to look up the details; what I want to talk about this morning is how breaking news information was being shared in this age of New Media.
I got wind of something happening outside of Boston at about 10:45 (Pacific time) last night. Just before heading to bed I decided to check in on Twitter and saw a cryptic reference to a gun battle with grenades in the Boston area. I typed in the hashtag #Watertown (the burg where it was happening) and was greeted with an incredible stream of on-the-ground observations; some were from residents of the areas, others were from people listening to the police radio traffic, and others were curious folk who simply went out and started gathering information.
As this information (including still and video images) hit Twitter a picture of what was happening on the other side of the country began to grow. People reported what they saw, heard, and even smelled; one user wrote about the bullets that had lodged in his living room from the shootout on his street. Another user quickly put together a curated list of people who were on scene and reporting, so that you could follow everything they posted even if they hadn't used the #Watertown tag. Several more sprang up as the scope of the incident expanded, bringing new Twitter users into the coverage.
Yes, a lot of the information was incorrect but an extraordinary thing happened: almost as fast as erroneous information was posted, others jumped in to correct the falsities. One user heard over the police radio that a local hospital had declared "Code Black", checked the 'net, and found that was hospital-speak for a bomb threat. That was out for perhaps a minute, total, before a bunch of other users jumped in and pointed out that we didn't really know that for sure, since hospital codes were not standardized, and that everyone should calm down until they got confirmation.
Wild speculations were countered by more measured responses, and in the few instances where users tried to interject a political message (usually something about the failure of gun control), other users shouted them down. The information, the stream, was more important than political positions. An ad-hoc editorial ethos, along with a commitment to accuracy, was being crafted in the same real time as the information was coming in. I can't begin to communicate how fascinating this was to watch; it was like an inanimate object coming to life in front of my eyes. That was perhaps more exciting than the event itself.
While all of this was happening, CNN had yet to report that the incident had even occurred. Real time information was being disseminated to a worldwide audience while traditional media was still talking about the weather in Dubuque.
At the same time the supposed benefit of traditional news outlets - depth and accuracy - became more and more suspect. Having watched more than my share of breaking news on CNN, the most recent being the Marathon bombings, I'm intimately familiar with how the on-air talent behaves. On the networks a thing like the hospital code, for instance, would likely be reported erroneously for quite some time before someone finally figured out that they didn't really know what that meant (if they ever did.) Talking heads, the news readers, would fill valuable air time with idle and often wrong speculation; the folks on Twitter, having only 140 characters, focused on being succinct and factual, if incomplete. They admonished each other to report only facts and to check those facts as best they could before tweeting, which is more than CNN did on Tuesday.
Even more surprisingly, as the various traditional news outlets started their catch-up reporting their errors and speculations were quickly corrected by the Twitter users on the scene!
This is important to understand: the same errors, omissions, speculations, and poor reporting plague both the Twitter feeds and CNN (as well as Fox/ABC/NBC/etc.) The major difference is that people have direct access to Twitter, and can correct that which is incorrect. With the networks and the newspapers, if they ever do own up to their mistakes it might be days later. In this case, real time reporting resulted in real time error correction because the information stream wasn’t being manipulated by a centralized source.
This idea of the people who consume the information being the same ones who report and validate that information is a sea change. Like Craigslist, where the readers are in charge of what they read and can flag off those ads they don't deem appropriate in their community, Twitter reporting eliminates the biases of gatekeepers; the users are their own gatekeepers, and their biases can be immediately countered by others. The result may be a fuller, if sometimes less clear, picture of what's happening in our world.
Critics will point to another self-curated information source, Wikipedia, as an example of why crowdsourcing information can't be trusted (while conveniently ignoring the errors which have always plagued printed and "vetted" encyclopedias.) Yes, this kind of information flow is by nature confused, confusing and incomplete, but all information sources are! At least with this one, people aren't under the illusion that it's completely authoritative and objective. The result is a skepticism which has too long been missing in our consumption of the news.
Did Twitter, as some are claiming, displace traditional media last night? I won't go that far, but I do believe crowd-sourced journalism made a huge breakthrough. It can be messy and very difficult to follow, but its self-correcting nature and its incredible immediacy are attributes that the news networks can't match. Perhaps this will cause the networks to reevaluate how they handle the news, and maybe they'll put new emphasis on being deeper and more factual than they've been of late.
(Yeah, that last sentence sounded naively silly to me, too.)
I'm still mentally processing the information coming out of Boston about the attack at the Marathon. There's so much to say, and so much that could happen as a result of this horrendous act, that I can't possibly do it all justice. So, if you'll forgive me this rather informal bullet-point treatment of the subject:
- Once again, the news reports during and in the 24 hours after the attack were wildly inaccurate. The problem is that raw intelligence is by nature messy, and it takes someone incredibly skilled and patient to sift through it and come to rational conclusions. The news readers on radio and television are most assurredly not the people to be doing that, yet they always try to be. REASON magazine has a great article about lessons learned from the attack, and it's well worth your time to read.
- Expect attempts to link this to gun ownership. It's already been suggested - though with no evidence that I can find - that the bombs consisted of gunpowder. If that's the case, expect swift action in Congress to limit access to powder and primers. I've already seen calls to do something about the "growing threat of IEDs", and it's a sure thing that our "leaders" will jump on that with gusto.
- You can bet that any large event will now have omnipresent and quite likely overbearing security. The general public will demand action, and as one idiot in a news interview said: "They can give me a cavity search right now and I'd be perfectly happy". People will be very quick to give up their liberties for a little perceived security. Expect a push to increase funding for DHS, and an increase in TSA presence outside of airports - places like train terminals and even highways.
- You will hear calls for national programs to install British-style camera networks in major (and probably minor) cities, as well as justification and funding for more drones to "keep us safe".
- The conspiracy theories and urban legends started seconds after the blast. Don't get caught up; check information out yourself before passing it on. If in doubt, just hit the delete key.
- Greg Ellifritz had a pretty good article on his blog about dealing with bomb attacks. His thoughts about multiple devices are historically accurate; during the Lebanese "civil" war, the involved forces came up with the idea of launching a mortar shell into a populated area, then wait a minute or so for the first responders to show up. (Lebanon had a pretty well developed cadre of first aid people at that time.) They'd then launch another shell into the same place to take out the responders. This has since been applied by bombers all over the world. Greg's advice is sound: if you happen to be in an area when a bomb goes off, leave as fast as you can. Sounds callous, I know, but you need to decide for yourself if it's better than becoming another casualty.
- Rob Pincus put out an article about what to do if you're caught in a city which has been attacked. Rob travels more than anyone I know - in the range of 300 days a year - and so he's had to think about this on a regular basis. I'd add that his advice is generally pretty good for natural disasters as well; the effects of an earthquake will snarl things up even more than a terrorist attack, and it's something we on the left coast think about on a regular basis.
- Rob's only omission is how to get information and handle communications during these events; as we saw in Boston, the cell systems were so thoroughly clogged that it was assumed the police had ordered them shut down. That wasn't true (despite the fact that it was reported by at least one news reader), but it illustrates the problems inherent with getting information to or from an affected area. Assume that your cel phone will probably be useless; a smartphone with a VOIP app (such as Skype) will often work if you can find an open wifi connection, such as at a library. As we’ve seen in many hurricanes, hardline internet connections stay up when cell towers are damaged and inoperative. A small radio to receive the local stations can be a godsend in such situations, and a radio scanner to listen to both first responders and the local amateur radio traffic has proven to be very useful during natural disasters.Communication during emergencies is a huge topic, and I encourage you to make acquiring the proper knowledge and technology a priority in your planning.
That’s it for today. Be safe, be vigilant, and be prepared.
I'd actually had something else planned for today's blog, but it was pretty lame compared to this!
Over at Forgotten Weapons, Ian posted this video about how to remove Cosmoline: that sticky, nasty, smelly but highly effective rust prevention grease so commonly used on military arms.
Some people really get addicted to the stuff; me, I hate it. I admit that it does its job remarkably well, however, and even though I generally admire things which work well I still can't work up much enthusiasm for this!
Everyone has their own little tricks and techniques for dealing with Cosmoline, but the hot water bath method is the easiest and quickest way I know to get rid of the petroleum goo. If you've never had the pleasure, here's your introduction!
You've probably heard about the Manchin-Toomey background check bill that is now winding its way through Congress. For the absolutists in the crowd it sounds like a bad idea: all sales at gun shows must go through a background check, and all internet gun sales must do so as well. (Sharp eyed readers will note that a gun bought on the 'net must already have a background check done by the dealer who delivers the gun, but don't say that too loudly!)
For those who aren't keeping score, here are the political wins in this bill:
- Prohibits any use of any background check information to establish a defacto gun registry at the federal, state, or local level; NICS information cannot be misused. We don't have this protection now, with the existing background checks being done every day. WIN.
- Civil and criminal liability protection for you if your gun is stolen and used illegally. This circumvents attempts being made at the state level to establish penalties for the misuse of guns that are taken from you. WIN.
- Prevents disarming veterans who seek treatment for PTSD through the Veterans Administration. WIN.
- More protections for people who are traveling between states and have their guns with them. WIN.
- Elimination of the prohibition against buying a handgun outside of your home state. WIN.
- and that's not all.
Here's the deal: the political winds are such that some sort of background check bill is probably going to get through Congress and onto the President's desk. That's reality. This bill, which is being heralded as a "compromise", is the first such one in which we've actually gotten a net political win (or at least not a net loss.) In every other bill we've faced, we've been in the position of trying to keep the damage to our rights at a minimum and not getting anything in return. With this bill we give up something that's really pretty inconsequential in the big picture, but it’s something we’re likely to lose anyway - at least we’ll gain some good, which is better than what we’ll have if it passes unmodified.
One great thing about this bill is that passage, even if the President didn't sign, would short-circuit the bills currently winding through my state's Legislature. Twice already the Oregon legislature has sidelined gun control proposals while they wait to see what Congress does; if Manchin-Toomey was to pass, I suspect that such legislation would die a quiet death both here and in other states.
A couple of weeks back on the Gun Rights Radio Network I suggested that I might not oppose a gun show background check bill if we could actually get something out of it, like removal of suppressors from the NFA list. We didn't get that, but we got some other stuff that together is pretty good. Naturally we’ll need to examine the actual bill carefully, but I like what I see so far.
The ironic part about this is that if it gets shot down in Congress, or if the President doesn't sign it, we can make political hay by taking the moral high road: "these people voted down a GUN CONTROL bill that we supported!" That would put the political fight squarely back in our corner, which is what we've been trying desperately to do all along.
From our point of view here's no real downside: if it passes and gets signed, it would have anyway and we have a relative win. If it fails or gets vetoed, we really win. Either way we come out on top, or at least not at the bottom, which is deft political maneuvering.
This is how the game is played, folks. We can take the absolutist position of "shall not be infringed" (which I've pointed out is a nonsensical position since we've been infringed upon regularly since 1934) and lose, or take the pragmatic view and play the game for a potential win.
While you can see some of the interactions here in the comments to posts, some folks prefer to send emails expressing their thoughts. Some of them are interesting enough to talk about.
On the recent topic of not carrying all the time (which I should have called "everyone does, but very few will admit to it"), I got quite a few emails thanking me for expressing a non-macho point of view. Glad to do it, though it's not so much anti-macho as it is pro-intellectually-honest-with-myself (and therefore my students and readers.)
Those posts actually precipitated a somewhat heated exchange between two prominent industry members on Facebook, one of whom took the Marie Antoinette approach (so named because he was of the opinion that you didn't need to restrict you life at all to carry. Seems that he travels in Europe extensively, and has contacts there who supply him with guns and certain paperwork to be able to do so quasi-legally. Yeah, sure, like the rest of us can do that!)
The reason this is so important is because of the integrity topic of which I’ve commented from time to time. As an industry we tend to believe (and thus teach) that everyone can do what we do: carry a full-sized autoloader in an OWB holster all day long and don a “concealment” vest for those times we run into the grocery store. This leads us to ignore certain realities, like the fact that a lot of people carry in pockets and bellybands because that’s the only way they can conceal a gun in their workaday world.
My prediction about being ostracized by the more absolutist crowd in this business has apparently come true, as I got an email indicating that some folks on the more "warrior" side of the matter have decided I'm not really one of them. (Apparently they aren't regular readers, as I think I've made it clear that I don't think of myself as a superninjawarrioroperatortacticalguru. I don't even own a thigh holster or a plate carrier!)
On the subject of the formation of the Association of Defensive Shooting Instructors (ADSI), I’m proud to report that it is growing faster than we expected. We're on the cusp of having 200 members already, and the feedback from members has been terrific. The defensive shooting fraternity has needed something like this for a very long time and there are a lot of instructors out there who see that need. I'm proud to have been invited to take part in the launch of this organization, especially considering the big names who are involved. I must say it's a little humbling!
Finally, you still have time to sign up for my courses this spring. I’ve reduced the ammunition requirements for all of my classes, making it easier to train during this time of ammunition shortages. There has never been a better (or more important) time to get in some relevant training, so click on the Training tab in the menu and check my schedule for a class near you!
I've mentioned, I believe, that we heat our house with a woodstove. It's not a decoration or a supplement; we have no other source of heat. It's the woodstove or nothing.
Our woodstove is very efficient, and it's no problem to heat our house to the mid-70s at any time of the year. We've grown very accustomed, in fact, to that temperature range since we moved here some years back. After a while, 70 degrees seems downright cold!
Our previous home was a darling historic house in a charming historic neighborhood, a house which would never get over 73 degrees no matter how much natural gas we pumped through its furnace. It was old and drafty, and though we made upgrades over the years it was never going to be what you'd call energy efficient without a lot of extensive (and expensive) work. As a consequence we kept the thermostat at 68 degrees, because the drain our checking account was far more efficient than the furnace!
In our current house, however, keeping warm is simply a matter of effort: go to the woodshed, split some wood, build a fire. I know that if I'm a little chilled all I need do is put wood in the stove, and in a short amount of time I can make myself anywhere from cozy to sweltering. All at a whim, and all without worrying about the finances of the thing.
Why am I telling you this? Because the woodstove provides a direct link between effort and reward. If I want to be warm, I know how much effort I need to input to be warm. I have a woodshed, and I know how much effort I need to input to get that shed full of firewood. Everything has a direct relationship between what I do and what I get because the relationship is in real time.
This is different than how most people lead their lives (and how I used to lead mine.) We go to work, we toil, and then we go home. The trouble is that we generally have no immediate evidence or product of that work; it will be at least a week, maybe several, before our bank account shows a higher number than it used to. That’s it; we don’t have anything other than a number on a computer screen. As a culture we've divorced effort from reward; we've abstracted work.
The numbers in our accounts are real in the sense that we can touch them. We know we have bills, some recurring and some incidental, but there's no connection between what we give (spend) and what we get. There isn't really a feeling of control or mastery over our lives when we've abstracted work to that degree. This is why I've said for decades that I'm really not motivated by money. To me it's not real.
All that's needed to dispel those feelings of disconnection and alienation that come from abstraction is to bring effort and reward closer together. The more solid the intellectual and emotional bond between work and product, the greater the sense of accomplishment. It seems simple, but it works - ask anyone who's ever had a good vegetable garden.
If you're feeling overwhelmed, if you sense a lack of control over your life, I heartily suggest that you get a woodstove. Bring back the connection between your work and your reward. -=[ Grant ]=-
Monday's post precipitated a number of comments; here, on Facebook, and in my email box. Some of them were complimentary, some weren't, while others were in the middle somewhere.
Many, I think, missed the point of the discussion. Allow me to illustrate with a question.
If there is a place where you cannot have your gun (because the law says you can't), do you avoid that place altogether? I'm not talking out of principle - that's another discussion entirely - but simply because you feel you can't protect yourself if not allowed to carry your gun.
If your answer is yes, does that mean that you're never going to Hawaii? Does it mean you'll never travel out of the country? In neither of those cases (with less than a handful of exceptions, none of them common or popular) can you be armed at your destination. Do you forego the pleasure of visiting new places just because you can’t carry your sidearm?
I hope the answer to that question would be "no". It shouldn’t be a matter of whether you'll go, but simply how you're going to protect yourself while there. Remember I said it's not so much about efficacy, it's about efficiency; you can be safe without the gun, but only if you understand that the gun is not the only tool you have - it’s simply the most efficient one for a very small percentage of cases.
The point is that there is more than one way to stay safe and they all start with an assessment of the dangers you face, the risks to you from those dangers, and alternative ways to reduce those risks. That statement would require a whole book to explore, but I hope you get the idea that it starts with thought.
Until now we've considered two rather discrete situations: those where you can have your gun and those where you can't. What about the stuff in the middle - the situations where you could carry a gun, but doing so entails a great deal of effort or risk on your part?
For instance, let's say you're taking a flight to a place where your concealed carry license is recognized through reciprocity. Do you go through the trouble of packing your gun up, going through the security theater, dealing with the poorly trained airline and TSA agents, take the very real risk of having your gun stolen from your luggage (it happens, probably more frequently than your needing it to defend yourself), and then take the risk that the police officer on the other end doesn't understand that his state recognizes your funny-looking carry license? (I haven't even touched on the possibility of being re-routed through a city where your gun is illegal and getting arrested for having it there. It's happened.)
At what point do the problems/risks outweigh the perceived benefits? If you take the absolutist view, you'll put up with any and all problems and risks to have your gun with you even if the chance of needing it is extremely small. That's a valid choice, in the sense that you're well within your rights to make it.
But now factor responsibility into your answer: what if your gun is stolen out of your luggage and ends up on the street, where it's used against another innocent person? Letting a gun out of your hands is always risky, especially in an environment where possessions (including guns) are known to regularly come up missing. Does your desire to be armed outweigh that very real risk?
Now zoom out to a wider view. Let's say that where you're going is a four-hour flight or a sixteen-hour drive. You've decided that you'll drive because you can take your gun with you and be armed the entire way. That's fair, but if your overall goal is to keep yourself safe, have you made the right decision?
The reality is that you are far more likely to be killed on the highway than in the air. By choosing to be armed over every other consideration, and therefore driving, you've actually dramatically increased your net risk of death. The belief in the necessity of being armed to be safe caused you to pick a transport mode that increased your risk well beyond that of the murderous mugger. How is increasing your chances of dying a good safety choice?
There are no easy answers to these questions, and anyone who tells you otherwise is simply not very insightful. For my part, I make such decisions based on a realistic consideration of the need and all of the compensating risks. Most of the time that means I'm armed with a gun, but occasionally it's going to mean that I'm not. I'm comfortable in either case because I understand that the gun is just a tool; I comprehend its place in the panoply of self defense and don't allow it to unduly dictate my decisions.
As Greg Ellifritz said in response to Monday's article: "Preparedness is important, but so is avoiding paranoia." I think he hit the nail on the head.
Every so often I'll get together with other people who are in the business of defensive shooting training. Invariably they are shocked - sometimes to incredulity - when I tell them that no, I'm not carrying a gun right now and no, I don't carry 24/7.
From their reactions you'd think I'd violated some sacred oath, or was insanely irresponsible, for being an instructor and NOT having a heater (and a backup gat) strapped to my person. I'm quite sure that in some circles I'm no longer considered part of the imaginary brotherhood of armed citizens, excommunicated from the religion of omnipresent preparedness.
I'm okay with that.
If I believed that only my handgun would keep me safe, to the point that I absolutely insisted on carrying it everywhere and all the time, I'd be turning it into a talisman: a thing invested with the power to protect by its mere presence. If I allowed myself to feel unarmed or unsafe because I didn't have it, that would simply confirm a belief in the talisman.
To be sure, the handgun is the most efficient method of protection when lethal force is warranted; of that there can be no doubt. But being the most efficient is not the same as being the only choice! The handgun is an invaluable piece of rescue equipment, but it's not the only tool I have.
After many years I've come to be at ease with those times when I'm not carrying a gun. When I'm on an airplane, for instance, I can't have one. I also don't worry about it, because I'm capable of using things in my environment and those things I bring with me to protect myself. If I can get to the point that I'm comfortable on a flight with 200 other people, none of whom I know, why would I feel any less safe in the restaurant at my destination?
Enabling that comfort is a realistic assessment of the risks I face. Recently, for instance, I taught a class in another state, one which required that I fly. When the plane touched down I was met by a driver who had been vetted by my hosts; I went from the car directly into the lobby of the hotel, where I checked in and secured my room against entry. The next morning I was greeted in the lobby by my host, who I knew to be armed, and was transported in his vehicle to a range where I was surrounded by good people with guns. We went to dinner with some of them that evening, and then back to the hotel where I barricaded myself for the night. The next morning I was greeted by my driver, who took me to the front door of the airport.
My risk was very low the entire trip. Was I likely to need a gun at any time during that sojourn? No. Was there a plausible lethal threat at any time? Probably not. If there had been, the vast majority of the time I was around other people who had guns. During the times I wasn't, I was mostly prohibited from having one anyhow.
Don't get me wrong: I carry whenever I can, and in my state that means the vast majority of the time. What I'm saying is that I don't allow my life to be defined or controlled by carrying, nor do I allow myself to feel unsafe when I can't. I understand that what I'm giving up by not having the gun is defensive efficiency, not absolute efficacy.
I know too many people who won't go to neat places and do neat things because they can't have their gun with them. (I'm talking about legally prohibited, as opposed to being lawfully unwelcome.) Frankly, I'd rather live my life - to go to the neat places and do the neat things! By carefully assessing my risk and the plausibilities involved, and taking appropriate precautions, I know I can be reasonably safe even without a firearm.
You've no doubt seen a lot of videos where the action has been reversed - run backwards - for effect. What if you made a whole video intended to be viewed backwards, but with actor going backwards while you were filming?
That's what filmmaker Messe Kopp did, and the results are really cool. Check it out!
I'm always looking for good revolver holsters. It seems we get the short end of the stick from everyone! This week, however, there are a couple of new holsters I'd like to bring to your attention, as they both offer something unique.
The first is the DeSantis Ammo Nemesis. It's a synthetic pocket holster for a small revolver (J-frame, possibly a Detective Special.) The outside of the holster has a very grippy rubber covering, which should help keep it in the pocket as opposed to coming out with the gun.
The neat little feature is a small pocket in the 'wing' under the grip. The pocket will hold a SpeedStrip or a TuffStrip for easy access. This isn't the first time I've seen that feature, of course, but it is the first time I've seen it in a decent yet affordable ($25 MSRP) holster.
There have been quite a few of these offered for autoloaders, but they don't work well in that format. An auto is reloaded with the support hand, and having the spare ammo on the other side of the body, in a pocket, means that no matter how you elect to handle the situation you'll be slow and fumble-prone. With a revolver, however, if you reload with your strong hand (as I've advocated here and in my books) the spare ammunition is right where it needs to be - accessible to your strong hand.
The ammo pouch, combined with the tacky material, should be perfect for getting the holster off the gun as it's drawn. I'm going to get one to try for myself!
Instead of the traditional bellyband construction of an elastic pocket sewn into an elastic band, the Crossbreed Modular Bellyband uses an elastic band with a large strip of Velcro. The holster bodies are made of Kydex and have Velcro on the back side; they simply stick onto the band in any position and at any attitude you wish.
Since the holsters are fairly rigid the gun draws easily yet is securely held. The gun can be re-holstered with one hand, something no other bellyband can claim, and the Kydex makes clearing the covering garment on the draw easier, as fabric slides easily over the plastic rather than being grabbed by the elastic cloth of the typical bellyband.
It's a great idea, and I have no doubt that the execution - like that of all Crossbreed products - is perfect. If you need truly deep concealment and don't like the telltale belt loops of most 'tuckable' holsters on the market, or you just like the concealability and versatility of a bellyband design, give the new Crossbreed Modular Bellyband a serious look.
For a year now I've been working with some of the luminaries in the defensive shooting world on an exciting project. The idea was admittedly audacious: start a professional membership organization to bring together people who teach defensive firearms use. The goal would be to give defensive shooting instructors a place to congregate, share, network, increase their teaching skills, and ultimately advance professionalism in what can often be a contentious business.
It started very simply with a document called The Seven Tenets. That document was a non-doctrinal statement about the traits a professional shooting instructor should have, as opposed to what they teach. This was written up in many venues, including this blog, as the Code Of The Professional Shooting Instructor. It was signed by a large number of famous and not-so-famous people, all of whom can legitimately be considered movers and shakers in the field.
At some point someone said "hey, we need an organization that can help both the aspiring and seasoned instructors live up to those high standards.” From that was borne the Association of Defensive Shooting Instructors, and we're officially unveiling it this week!
Rob Pincus, Omari Broussard, Paul Carlson and I have spent huge amounts of our precious free time getting this new organization up and running. (Turns out that starting a professional association from scratch is a lot of work!) We've been honored to be joined by John Farnam, Massad Ayoob, Tom GIvens, Ken Murray, Marty Hayes, Dr. Robert Smith, and Robbie Barrkman, all of whom support our goals and have agreed to serve on our Advisory Council.
They're not just window dressing, either! We've put them to work to get the ADSI on the map and to guide our future programs, which will be geared toward providing continuing education for defensive shooting instructors who want to become the best that they can be.
If you teach defensive shooting skills, or if you want to, you should be a member of the ADSI. If you know someone who is a defensive shooting instructor, please make sure that they know about the Association! If you run into an instructor at your range, or perhaps from whom you're taking or have taken a class, ask them if they've joined the only professional organization representing them and what they do.
A few days ago, the Maersk shipping line posted a cool video of the construction of their newest - and largest - ship. This new vessel, dubbed the "Triple E Line", is in fact the largest ship that currently exists: over 1,300 feet long, 193 feet wide, and nearly 240 feet tall. By way of comparison, the Titanic was only 882 feet long!
The video is a 76-second time lapse of some 50,000 photos that were shot over the space of 3 months, and it's impressive to watch. Enjoy!