Determining how and what we train.

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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 ...

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I spent my weekend teaching, and what I learned from doing so.

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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.

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 ...

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Reactions to a recent article: coming to terms with not being armed all the time.

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Most of the interaction we have here happen in the comments, but 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 ...

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Protecting yourself after an injury.

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In most areas of the country, it’s generally held that you may use lethal force to protect yourself if you are in immediate and otherwise unavoidable danger of death or grave bodily injury. One of the factors which can contribute to that perceived danger is known as “disparity of force”; that is, a marked difference in the ability of the parties involved to inflict injury.

If your attacker is much larger than you, or if he’s much stronger, or if he ...

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Defensive training in context: even dinosaurs like the FBI evolve!

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A story in USA Today a few weeks ago is potentially good news for defensive shooting training in the private sector: the Federal Bureau of Investigation recently overhauled their own training protocols. (Please go read the article – it’s surprisingly good.)

The FBI went back through 17 years of data and analyzed the kinds of gunfights their agents faced. They concluded their training, which historically emphasized long distance marksmanship, wasn’t applicable to the threats their agents were actually ...

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Practical responses to school attacks.

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Since the horrific school murders last week it’s become clear that our collective responses to these attacks is insufficient. The reports I’ve read indicated that it took police 20 minutes from the initial call to arrive; that’s a lot of time for a madman to be loose in a victim-rich environment – no matter what he’s armed with.

While the national debate rages about gun bans and mental health records, there are some logical, plausible, no-nonsense things that we can do ...

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When will the silly defensive shooting techniques stop?

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After my article on not falling for a technique simply because someone of authority promotes it, a reader sent me an alert about an article in the Shooting Times Personal Defense 2012 magazine. The article is titled “Fight With A .380” by one J. Guthrie. (Had I written this article, I’d probably be embarrassed to use my full name too. You’ll see why.)

Mr. Guthrie bases much of his article on conversations with Ed ...

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My new PDN article: sight-seeing!

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I’ve got another new article up at the Personal Defense Network, and those of you who are pushing 40 (or pulling 50) will be particularly interested. It’s called “I Can’t See My Sights!”

It’s the distillation of all the things I’ve learned over the past few years about how to adapt to vision changes, particularly those related to the march of time. If you have contrast or color blindness issues, or if you wear bifocals, this article will ...

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Defensive handgun choices.

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Well, it appears my editor over at Personal Defense Network finally did some actual work! Rob Pincus wrote a great article about choosing a defensive handgun, and why you should look for certain characteristics.

I’m gratified to see the defensive shooting world coming to some of these same realizations. While there are some folks out there who are still stuck with outdated beliefs, like the .45ACP being the “ultimate” defensive cartridge despite the lack of corroborating objective data, ...

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Over-react much? Comical training responses to the Aurora theater attack.

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Over at the Schneier On Security blog, Bruce Schneier talks about the concept of risk in relation to the Aurora movie theater attack. I found his analysis interesting, inasmuch as gunnies everywhere are talking about how they’d respond to such an event — and how they’re changing their preparations, “just in case.”

Some of the blogs, Facebook posts, and some forum discussions I’ve seen in the wake of the Aurora shooting are almost comical. There are people who suggest ...

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Evidence in the Trayvon Martin case – and how it affects you.

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The Armed Citizen’s Legal Defense Network (of which you should be a member) has published an interesting look at the Martin/Zimmerman case in their June newsletter. The Florida courts, as their law requires, released all of the evidence related to the case a couple of weeks ago. In his article, Marty Hayes looks at a portion of that released evidence and makes some observations which might be useful to those who carry a firearm ...

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An opportunity for a discussion: the short-barreled 1911 pistol sucks.

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Over the weekend Rob Pincus – never one to shy away from a firestorm (I was going to say another kind of storm, but this is a family-friendly blog) – posted a video on YouTube. In it, he details the failure of yet another compact 1911-pattern pistol and expresses his disdain for the breed in general.

The online response was immediate and predictable. Many people agreed with Rob, but a very vocal portion of the shooting ...

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The Martin/Zimmerman case.

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I’ve gotten a few emails and Facebook messages asking what I think of the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman shooting. My answer is simple: I don’t know the facts of the case.

The important thing to remember is that no one does. All we have is piecemeal information released by sources of varying veracity and – here’s the important part – reported by the media, filtered through whatever biases they have at the time.

It’s amazing to me that so many in the “gun ...

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I still think a .410 revolver is silly.

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I think I’ve made my feelings clear regarding the concept (if not the execution) of the Taurus Judge/S&W Governor revolvers. As self defense guns, which is how they’re marketed, they make no sense for a wide variety of valid reasons. What’s amazing to me is that people will say “that’s all true, but I think they still have a place for snakes and carjackers.”

I’ve talked about the former already. A large portion of my family lives and ...

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Picking a gun the wrong way: choosing a caliber by silly rules-of-thumb.

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We have a lot of trite phrases in the defensive training world, and one of them sets my teeth on edge: when someone asks how they should choose a gun for personal protection, the usual answer is to “pick the biggest caliber you can shoot well.”

It’s nonsensical, and I’m tired of hearing it.

The problem is how to define “well”. Are we talking in terms of accuracy? If so, I contend that anyone can shoot any handgun caliber “well” – at ...

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Critical thinking when reading: how to interpret a review of a “system”.

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Someone sent me this link to a story on Tactical-Life.com about the Center Axis Relock (C.A.R.) system of Paul Castle. At the outset it’s important to note that I don’t think much of this “system”, largely because it asks the shooter to do a number of things that aren’t congruent with how the body reacts to a threat stimulus. It may or may not have some use to military or police tactical teams when in a proactive ...

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The Double Tap: friends don’t let friends train that way.

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At SHOT I made a passing comment to Pharmacist Tommy that, in the context of defensive shooting, practicing double taps was a tacit admission that a person wasn’t able to control their gun. He looked at me quizzically, as I’m sure you’re doing right now.

(Let’s get some terminology out of the way. Most people shooting double taps are firing two rounds in quick succession with one sight picture. Adherents to the so-called “Modern” Technique would scream that the term is ...

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A gun safety failure that goes deep into a flawed training methodology.

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From Washington state, our neighbor to the north, comes an interesting news article about a fellow who managed to put a round into a neighbor’s abode while practicing his “quick draw”.

There’s a lot to say about this incident beyond just the safety failures. What struck me, however, wasn’t his gun handling stupidity; is was the erroneous training decisions he made before he ever committed a safety violation. It’s one of those decisions that I want to discuss ...

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Data sets, plausibility, and defensive shooting: what you don’t know can waste your time, energy, and money.

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As I sat eating lunch last week I found myself perusing a gun forum with which I’m not all that familiar. On it I ran across a post from a fairly well known trainer, one that most shooters would not recognize but those familiar with the training world might. I’ve never met the guy, let alone trained with him, but his comments left me distinctly perturbed.

The statement was in reference to some particular techniques that he finds important to teach. ...

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Some (more) thoughts on the defensive lever action.

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Seems a lot of people are interested in the lever action as a home defense weapon. Any choice of defensive armament has pros and cons, so let’s consider the lever action chambered in a pistol cartridge. Some of these are true of all long guns (rifles, shotguns) while some are specific to the one under discussion.

Pro: Good power level, likely to stop a threat with a minimum of shots.
Pro: Not overly powerful like a full sized rifle cartridge, less ...

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Context, perspective and gun testing: how reality affects training and gear choice.

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Something I’ve noticed in the last year or so: as I’ve experimented with the concepts of reality-based training (RBT) in my teaching and practice, my point of view has changed. I’m not really aware of it until I’m around people who haven’t had that exposure, and then the contrast becomes stark.

The realities of how attacks actually occur and our reactions (instinctive and intuitive) affect not only how and what we train, but what we train with. My upcoming article over at ...

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A different take on handgun stopping power: the Greg Ellifritz study.

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An article by Greg Ellifritz, titled “An Alternate Look at Handgun Stopping Power“, caused some waves a few weeks back.

First, the disclaimers: like all such attempts at quantifying shooting incidents, it suffers from a lack of strictly filtered data and results in less adherence to statistical principles and methods than we might like. That doesn’t mean it’s not useful, only that it’s not strictly precise (and can never be.) I acknowledge that this is a problem with all shooting ...

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The dangers of unbridled emulation: training the wrong stuff because it’s cool.

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There is a certain segment of the training community that makes quite a fuss about teaching techniques randomly collected from SWAT teams, Special Forces (ours or someone else’s), or SEAL Team Six. (It’s always Team Six, because they’re apparently the coolest. And the only one which the average Mall Ninja recognizes. Good for marketing, you understand. I feel for the guys on Teams One through Five though, suffering with the knowledge that they’re not nearly as cool.) These classes are ...

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The snakepit of groupthink, or: don’t let other people do your thinking for you.

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Every so often I’ll have a spare moment and just happen to be sitting near the computer. It’s at those times that I visit one of the gun forums (fora?) just to see what’s up with the world. More precisely, what’s up in some very small portion of the world, one which is usually severely skewed.

One such moment happened last weekend while I was waiting for dinner to finish cooking. (Actually, I was waiting for my wife to finish cooking ...

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Appeals to authority work both ways, but always badly.

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This really does have something to do with shooting; bear with me!

Stan Kenton was a standout iconoclast in a field of music that is, by definition, iconoclastic: jazz. Some of his albums were a difficult experience because they demanded so much of the listener. If one is not conversant with at least a little music theory, much of what goes on in a Kenton pieces flies right over the head.

I remember reading, somewhere in the intertubes, a critical review of ...

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Paging Dr. Ayoob: clueless person is dispensing dangerous legal advice!

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We need 100cc of Factual Information, stat!

This splashed onto several blogs last week, and it’s just too good a train wreck to ignore. Do not be mislead: the advice this guy gives is a sure ticket to a jail cell. The ‘term clueless loon’ comes to mind…

For years people like Mas Ayoob and Marty Hayes have been educating people on the realities of the legal side of self defense, ...

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Presented for your consideration, again: there is no such thing as a ‘clean shoot’.

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I’ve been pretty clear over the years about my belief in the myth of the ‘clean shoot’. It’s a phrase that comes up with amazing regularity in various forums and in gunshops all across the country: as long as your shoot is ‘clean’, nothing else matters.

As I’ve pointed out, the people who decide if your self defense act was ‘clean’ sit on a jury. Whether you think it was a ‘good’ shoot, whether I do, whether your instructor does, or ...

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Some thoughts regarding ‘force on force’ training.

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Scenario or Force-on-force (‘FOF’) training (sometimes called Simunition training, after the major maker of the marking ammunition used) has become all the rage in the last couple of years, with some instructors making it a hallmark of their courses. Everyone, it seems, is buying Airsoft pistols and touting their FOF credentials. Supporters of the concept have done a very good sales job, as I routinely am asked if my courses have a force-on-force component.

Such questions remind me so much of ...

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