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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Attitude Change, 2010 Edition: what have I changed my mind about?

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I’ve been actively interested in the topic of self defense training since the early 90s. Over the last decade, particularly in the last five years, a lot of my original opinions regarding self defense have changed. This isn’t because I’m wishy-washy and unable to hold on to an opinion (just ask my wife!) Rather, such change is brought about by being exposed to new information, or because new research alters original assumptions.

As this year winds down, I thought it might ...

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Probabilities and perspective: what about protection from wild animals?

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I hope everyone had a great Christmas weekend!

Despite the holiday (or perhaps because of it), I got a lot of email this weekend. One of them asked a question that comes up every so often, and my answer to it has changed over the years.

The question is usually something akin to “I’d like a gun for protection against dangerous animals (bear, cougar) while out hiking. What do you suggest?”

In the past I’d have answered with a run-down of the best ...

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What I did on my days off: I taught a class with Rob Pincus. A good time was had by all!

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I spent the weekend up at FIrearms Academy of Seattle teaching a Combat Focus Shooting class with the guy who wrote the book on it, Rob Pincus. We had one bright, sunny day (got the sunburn to prove it!) and one exceptionally wet, cold, dark day. That’s life in the Pacific Northwest!

We had a diverse group of just under 20 students, some of whom were “advanced practitioners” and some who were significantly less experienced. ...

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Not showing good JUDGEment: ‘less lethal’ .410 ammunition is a silly idea.

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The Firearm Blog alerts us to a company called Lightfield Less Lethal that is now selling rubber buckshot rounds for the Taurus Judge. (I’m sure someone will point out that a Judge loaded with .410 birdshot is already “less lethal” and thus has no need for this product. Can’t say that I disagree all that much, either.)

I’m concerned that the Judge is already selling to people who profess to “not wanting to kill someone”, but have a ...

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Book Report: Combat Focus Shooting – Evolution 2010.

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Rob Pincus’ original book on Combat Focus Shooting was published in 2006, and in a very few pages – 120, give or take – managed to present a very different (and in some ways very new) way of looking at defensive handgun training.

Instead of forcing contrived techniques onto a fight, techniques that might not be appropriate or even effective, CFS offered a radically different perspective: pay attention to how the body reacts to a ...

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What I did during Spring Break: a short Combat Focus Shooting Instructor Development course review.

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I just returned from a visit to Virginia Beach, where I attended the Combat Focus Shooting Instructor Development (CFSID) course. It was 4 days and just shy of 60 hours learning the ins and outs of Combat Focus Shooting so that we could accurately and efficiently communicate the program to students. It was easily the most intensive course I’ve attended in the shooting world.

We spent the first of those day on the range…no, that’s not quite right; for ...

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Another sacred cow bites the dust: Rob Pincus on shooting stances.

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I’ve often described the “shooting stance” as being like a scaffold – a device one uses to supply support and stability so that skills can be built efficiently. Past that point, the stance as usually taught has limited utility. This is largely because the circumstances under which you shoot (definitely for defensive shooting, and often in hunting as well) dictate where your feet are when you recognize the need to shoot. This has been met with not inconsiderable consternation from some ...

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An exciting new personal security resource: announcing the Personal Defense Network!

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This week is dominated by SHOT Show news, and in the midst of all the shiny new goodies it’s hard to remember that self defense isn’t just about hardware. Guns and ammo are easy to write about, so that’s what most people concentrate on. As a result, you find lots of sites that deal with hardware, but precious few with the software so necessary for survival.

That situation is about to change: the Personal Defense Network has gone ...

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Massad Ayoob’s new gig: the Massad Ayoob Group (MAG).

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I got an email from Massad Ayoob recently, in which he told me about his new venture: the Massad Ayoob Group (MAG). He’s got a great website where you can read the official announcement.

While the curriculum will be new, the principles he teaches aren’t. No one knows more about the legal and ethical side of deadly force, and his updated classes will build on that expertise. I asked Mas about how the new curriculum will translate to ...

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Book Review: “Personal Defense for Women” by Gila Hayes.

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Personal Defense for Women: Practical Advice for Self Protection by Gila Hayes

It is only now that society is beginning to recognize what those of us who’ve been married for decades know all too well: men and women are different. ‘Equal’, as it happens, does not mean ‘the same’, and we are slowly coming to realize this. (Back to the future!)

Because we’re different, it’s difficult – if not impossible – for a man to ...

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A few thoughts about the revolver in self defense.

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Regular readers know that, despite my (occasionally) bombastic promotion of the wheelgun, I’m the first to admit that it is not the perfect tool for all jobs. The revolver’s suitability for self defense depends on the nature of the threat one expects to encounter.

The revolver’s greatest weakness is its limited capacity, while its greatest virtue is its resistance to externally induced failures.

It is something of a trend among today’s fashionable criminals to attack in multiples, i.e. more than one assailant. ...

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I CAN’T HEAR YOU: the myth of auditory exclusion and hearing damage.

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A comment on last Wednesday’s article correctly reminded us that there seems to be some confusion about the phenomenon known as auditory exclusion.

Under times of high stress, such as a violent criminal attack, the body makes profound physiological adjustments to limit distracting data and focus on the threat. One of these is to radically attenuate (or even completely silence) aural inputs – in other words, it shuts your hearing down. This is called auditory exclusion.

It’s important to understand that auditory ...

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Incorrect conclusions: muzzle flash and blindness don’t really correlate.

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This morning I got a very nice email from a concerned gentleman in a southern state. His NRA instructor gave him numerous pieces of incorrect information about his new GP100, one of which I’ve heard many times before: “Don’t carry Magnums, because the muzzle flash will blind you in a self-defense shooting!”

With all due respect, bull twaddle.

The .357 Magnum is notorious for muzzle flash, based largely on some well-known pictures from the 1980s. These days, even the Magnum uses flash-suppressed ...

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A violent reaction: despite what some might say, violence is a valid and necessary tool.

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I kept tabs on the concealed carry reciprocity bill that failed to clear the Senate this week, and the debates brought to mind comments I heard years ago regarding concealed carry proponents: “intelligent people have no need for violence.” “We need to reduce the violence in this world, not increase it.”

This reveals a fundamental ignorance regarding the place of violence in a civilized society. Violence, which is usually defined as an exertion of physical force against a living being, is ...

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Packing your training trunk: what’s the value of prior experience in an instructor?

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There is a concept that, in order to properly teach the use of a firearm for self-defense, one must have been in a shootout. The term most often used to describe that state is “seeing the elephant.” (I’m not sure how the phrase got corrupted to mean shooting at someone, but I am sure that I find it quite annoying.)

The assertion, of course, is that only those who have drawn blood with their weapon are in a position to talk ...

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Use-of-Force Myths: how many of these do you believe?

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The archives over at Force Science News continue to fascinate. Issue #68 deals with several myths about the use of deadly force, myths that a large percentage of the population (regardless of their level of firearms knowledge) believe. The whole article is interesting, but it’s the first myth – that of the Demonstrative Bullet – that is most immediately useful.

The article discusses the myth from the standpoint of those who judge an incident after ...

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Can you make good lethal force decisions – and would your peers agree?

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The March issue of Force Science News contained a very interesting article about how police and private citizens differ in their views of “justified” shootings.

While some may see the article as having application to law enforcement only, they would be wrong – it is well worth reading because it deals with differences in perception of a critical incident, differences which are not necessarily “cops vs. civilians” but more like “trained vs. untrained.”

Private citizens are both more critical ...

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Yes, I’m repeating myself: women are people, too. How about the people in the gun industry treat them like they are?

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I’ve written about this before, but it’s getting worse. All across this country are people standing behind gun counters who need to be taught that women are people, too.

I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve run into a woman who was sold (as opposed to deciding to buy) a revolver for self defense. Now it should be pretty clear to even the densest web denizen that this ...

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Guns are not magic wands, and yours won’t always scare the bad guy off.

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There is a perception amongst a large percentage of the gun-toting public that guns are magic wands: one shot and the bad guy flies backward, landing in an unconscious heap at the bottom of a wall or tree.

Think I’m exaggerating? Spend a few minutes at a gun counter sometime. Random samples would tend to support the supposition that the majority of people carrying guns get their information from Hollywood, not Paulden.

This incident from east ...

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Illustrating the concept of energy dump in defensive ammunition. Or not.

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A reader sent me this link to an old Richard Davis “Second Chance” video. The video has Davis shooting a fellow – who is wearing one of Davis’ vests, of course – with a .308 rifle and himself with a .44 magnum revolver. The reader’s comment was “if this doesn’t show an energy dump, I don’t know what it shows.”

I agree. With the second part of the statement, at least. Going back to our Continue Reading →

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The “Holster of the Week” Club and negative outcomes.

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Last week I promised a story. I heard this from “the horse’s mouth”, and if you knew this particular horse the story would not surprise you…

Anyhow, I happen to know a fellow (I’ll call him “Ted”) who, back in the ’70s, was a Detective in a very large eastern police department. He had just been promoted from patrol, which meant that for the first time in his career he got to dress in plainclothes.

Ted and his more experienced partner were ...

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Self defense, stopping power, and caliber: Part 9

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Stick with what works.

You’ve all heard of the “Gun of the Week” club, right? That’s the term used to describe an “enthusiast”, the guy (gals are too smart to engage in such nonsense) who carries or competes with a different gun every time he goes out. (Closely related is the “Holster of the Week” club. I’ll post an amusing story about that, soon.)

There is also the “Bullet of the Week” club. Some folks read the gun magazines assiduously, loading up ...

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Self defense, stopping power, and caliber: Part 8

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“So, smarty pants – what the best self-defense caliber?”

I receive many emails asking, in essence, what the “best” self-defense caliber might be. (Those emails, in fact, have served as the motivation behind this series.) The correspondents are probably expecting sage advice, the wisdom of years, a sort of Ballistic Oracle. What they get is a non-committal “it depends!”

If you take nothing else from this series, take this: there is no such thing as “best” – there is only “suitability for ...

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Self defense, stopping power, and caliber: Part 7

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There Is No Such Thing as a Magic Bullet

What does that mean, you ask?

One of the last bastions of the snake oil salesman is in the field of ammunition promotion. Claims that would make Professor Harold Hill blush are the norm, and are repeated in gunstores, shooting ranges, and deer camps across the country. They sometimes even make their way into magazines and the internet – though the latter’s instant exchange of information has helped to quell the worst of ...

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Self defense, stopping power, and caliber: Part 6

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“What would I want with a reputation? That’s a good way to get yourself killed!”

– Jason McCullough, as played by James Garner, in “Support Your Local Sheriff” (my favorite movie of all time!)

What about “reputation”? Some cartridges or loadings have reputations for better effectiveness than others. Sometimes that’s valid, but other times it may not be.

Let’s take the mighty .357 Magnum, one of my favorite cartridges. The 125 grain semi-jacketed hollowpoint loads have the reputation of being superbly effective; ...

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Self defense, stopping power, and caliber: Part 5

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More energy can be a good thing – as long as it actually does something useful.

Last time we discussed the concept of the hollowpoint as a way to increase the frontal diameter of the bullet in the target. I also introduced the idea that it takes energy to expand the bullet, energy that is also needed to push the projectile into something that it needs to reach.

There is no such thing as a free lunch. If we want the bullet ...

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Self defense, stopping power, and caliber: Part 4

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The bullet is more important than the caliber.

We know that our bullet needs to do damage to whatever important thing it manages to find. How, exactly, is that going to occur? It just so happens that most animal tissue (including that of the violent felon who has just attacked you) is remarkably elastic, and consequently difficult to damage. Most tissues have a tendency to “close up” around puncture wounds, in the same way that they close up after a hypodermic ...

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