The Bullpup Rifle Experiment, Part 2: what did I learn about bullpup rifles?

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If you’ve read Part 1 of The Bullpup Rifle Experiment, you’ll know that I started out this little project with a relatively simple goal: to find out what the bullpup rifle was all about. I wanted to learn what they were good for, what they weren’t, and perhaps even a little bit of why they seem to inflame passions on both sides: those who love them and those who love to hate them. Along the way I hoped to perhaps ...

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What’s the difference between tasks and skills in defensive shooting training? Does it matter?

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When training defensive shooting techniques, it’s common — too common, in fact — to focus on the skill used rather than the task to be performed. Now some people will say that those are the same thing, but they’re not. In fact, they’re very different.

I recently read an article on the importance of and the procedures for practicing reloading a handgun. The article started from a bad premise (reloading during a fight is a vital skill when the best information ...

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More questions you should ask your defensive shooting instructor – and why.

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I recently received a note asking about questions to pose to potential instructors, questions that would tell a prospective student whether a shooting instructor (and their material) was worth consideration. That process is called “vetting” an instructor: assessing his or her background and suitability. It’s incredibly important for prospective students to do, yet there’s no easy way to do it.

Because of that, most people fall back on the instructor’s resumé: what shooting courses he’s attended, what military or law enforcement ...

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Is the old lever action half-cock safety really all that safe?

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We’ve all been taught about the half-cock notch on lever action rifles. How safe is it, really?

When I was growing up lever action rifles (with the exception of the Savage 99) had no safeties. It was assumed, and taught, that the safe way to carry a lever action with a round in the chamber was to lower the hammer to the half-cock notch. When needed, the hammer was thumbed back as the gun was brought to the shoulder.

Fast forward to ...

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What can a foiled terrorist attack teach us about defensive planning?

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By now you’ve no doubt heard about the tragic incident in Garland, Texas. For those who missed it, on Sunday a “Draw Mohammed” Cartoon show was held in that town; contestants vied for the best cartoon in celebration of free speech. There were speakers who are active in the free speech movement, including a Dutch citizen who has earned a spot on an al Qaeda hit list.

Two men — one of whom since identified by the FBI as having ...

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Just what is a “critical skill”?

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I really should stop reading stuff people link to on FaceBook. I really should. It’s like chocolate chip cookies; you know they’re bad for you, but you eat them anyway!

The latest was a linked article which talked about practicing your reloading skills. In it, the other repeatedly referred to reloading the gun as a “critical skill”. That phrase really annoyed me, because his definition of the term and mine were obviously radically different. In fact, I suspect he (like almost ...

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“Because that’s the way I was taught” is never a good answer.

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A few years ago I was teaching a class in which there was a student who’d been to several different shooting schools — including one which, in my opinion, teaches some distinctly odd material. This student was doing a particular maneuver in just such an odd manner and I asked him why.

“Because that’s the way I was taught.”

I resharpened my question and asked what the purpose of the maneuver was, why it was done that way, what specific goal was ...

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Don’t let what you CAN’T do get in the way of what you CAN do. That goes for your children, too.

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A story out of a middle school in Alabama has made the rounds recently. The principal of that school suggested that parents send their kids to school with canned food, which they could hurl at an attacker in self defense.

Predictably, the gun community (particularly certain segments of it) responded with scorn and derision: “Idiotic”. “Stupid.” “Naive.” And, of course, the perennial favorite in the bumper-sticker philosophy department: “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is ...

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The case for buying two identical concealed carry guns. You can thank me later.

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It’s quite popular in the world of concealed carry (CCW) and defensive shooting to say that “all guns break”. As I’ve said before, that’s true — but some guns break more commonly, more predictably, than others.

However, even the best and most reliable gun, like the most reliable automobile, becomes less so as the round count (or the mileage) accumulates. That’s just a fact of life; all mechanical devices experience wear over time, it’s just that some of them handle that ...

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The first shot isn’t necessarily the most important, but you’d better train as if it is!

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It’s been said that the most important shot in a defensive encounter is the first one. I’m not sure I agree with that; I believe the most important shot is the last one, the one which leads you to determine that you no longer have a lethal threat in front of you and that you don’t need to keep shooting.

I’ve taken the attitude that the best thing I can do is to teach my students the most efficient ways to get ...

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What is defensive training really worth? Here’s a very different way of looking at it.

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I got an email the other day from a reader, and the discussion revolved around the cost of self defense training:

“Actually the cost of training may be worthy of a blog article.

I was thinking yesterday that it seems very arbitrary. It’s too high from the perspective of a student out to get training as much as he/she can, to sort out what works personally.

It’s probably too low from the perspective of an instructor trying ...

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Your attacker isn’t an animal. He’s a lot more dangerous than that.

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What’s the opposite of anthropomorphism?

Anthropomorphism, as you know, is the attribution of human characteristics to animals (or inanimate objects.) People who believe that guns cause people to shoot each other, for instance, are engaging in a kind of anthropomorphism: attributing desire and the ability to command to a metal object. It’s a tendency that goes far back into our history, to a time when people believed in the spiritual powers of amulets and special stones.

It’s the opposite of anthropomorphism that ...

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Can you really know what skills you’ll need? Not exactly, but you can do better than guess.

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One of the more interesting comments I get in the defensive training world is that “you don’t know what the attack will look like, so you have to be prepared for anything.” It’s not entirely true and thus is dangerously distracting in its conclusion.

I’ve talked about the fallacy of being prepared for everything before, so rather than repeat myself I’ll just encourage you to ...

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Is the prone position useful in defensive shooting? I don’t think so, and here’s why.

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It happened again just the other day: someone asked me about my Perimeter Defense Rifle class and was surprised when I told him that I didn’t teach the prone position.

He seemed both offended and perplexed (which is an interesting combination of emotional states, I’ll admit.) He simply couldn’t fathom that someone teaching a rifle class wouldn’t teach his students to shoot from the prone position. That is, after all, the most stable rifle shooting position, isn’t it? They teach ...

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Sometimes training is about learning NOT to shoot. That frustrates some people.

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I taught a Threat-Centered Revolver course in Phoenix last weekend. It was a pleasant trip, especially going from cold and rainy Oregon to sunny and warm Arizona! I had a great group of students who came to learn how to shoot a double-action revolver in self defense. We certainly did a lot of that, and they all came away with tremendous shooting skill development.

What some of them didn’t expect, however, was that a certain segment of the ...

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Getting it right the first time is easier than fixing it later!

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The world of firearms training used to be pretty simple: everyone taught pretty much the same thing, from the same sources, and whether it had any relation at all to reality was pretty much irrelevant — that was the way it was done. It was sort of like the military: whether it was right or wrong, you did it the way you were taught. Only when you got into battle, so ...

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Do you have a defensive shotgun? More importantly, have you trained with it lately?

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I’ve made no secret of the fact that the shotgun and I aren’t best buddies. I have shotguns, I use them, I’m pretty good with them in fact, but I do find them hard to warm up to. None of that changes the fact that the shotgun is a good home defense tool, and learning to run it well is a matter of good training!

More importantly, though, is learning some specifics to address the shotgun’s weaknesses. My buddy Andy Loeffler, ...

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Sometimes, defensive shooting is all about NOT shooting!

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One of the realities of life is that not every problem is a shooting problem. Those of us who teach this stuff often forget to emphasize that to our students, or more precisely we downplay it a bit because it’s hard to sell a shooting class where you learn not to shoot!

(I’m not kidding about that last bit, either. Lots of folks go to shooting classes because they’re fun, and once ...

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Do you know how to prepare for self-defense in cold weather? Here’s your chance to learn from an expert!

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EP5_00618

This week saw record-cold temperatures in parts of the U.S., and we still have a couple of months of winter to go (at least!) Ever thought about how this changes your training?

It’s cold out there! Well, to be honest it’s pretty normal here in Oregon, but the east coast has already seen some seriously cold and snowy weather. Not many people go out training this time of year, and that’s actually ...

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Are you defensively fit? This New Year, resolve to be.

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I know, I’m not big on the whole New Year’s Resolution thing either, but I’ve found that it’s easier to make lifestyle changes stick when there is more than one benefit to the resolution!

Lots of folks start off the New Year with a resolution to get into better shape. For most folks it’s about looking better or fitting into a specific piece of clothing; for others, its an understanding that excess weight can be a health issue unto itself.

One thing ...

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What’s with all the infighting in the defensive shooting world?

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Stick around the defensive shooting world for any length of time and you’ll discover partisanship that makes national politics seem tame. Where do these squabbles come from, and what can you do to avoid them?

Defensive shooting, or more specifically the training of defensive shooting, is a study of context. I’ve said this before in different ways, but it remains true: context matters.

What do I mean by that word? The dictionary ...

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How do you avoid a “friendly fire” shooting in your home?

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Sadly, it happens with some frequency: a family member is shot after being mistaken for an intruder. Can it happen to you or someone you love?

When I was young our family never locked the house doors; in fact, I’m not sure my parents even had a key! We lived outside of a very small town, one in which nothing every really happened, and one in which people left their cars parked with ...

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How much training do you really need?

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Claire Wolfe, the well known libertarian writer, recently penned a piece for SWAT Magazine where she questioned the need for extensive self defense training. She has a point: how much training is enough?

I could be excused, I suppose, were I to tell you that you definitely need self defense training — and the more the better. I say that because I am in the business of educating people to keep themselves ...

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What if your shooting instructor asks you to do something unsafe?

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What exactly is safety on the shooting range — and how can you evaluate it?

There is a story heating up social media this week concerning a certain shooting school in Tulsa, OK that has its students participate in an odd drill: according to the first-hand account, the students unload their guns then point them at the instructor and dry-fire.

The reasoning given, according to the participant, is to acclimate the student to ...

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What is the big deal with mindset?

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Many trainers in the defensive shooting world talk about teaching “mindset” to their students. What is that? Can it even be taught?

Some instructors post lists of what you’ll learn in their courses, and one of the items you’ll often see listed is “mindset”: the mental state of being willing to defend yourself using lethal force. They believe (at least I assume they believe) that they can teach this in a short ...

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Can you draw your gun one-handed? Should you be able to?

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One of the overlooked aspects of getting the gun into play involves things we do that impede the draw process. Here’s why I think you need to pay closer attention to how you draw your handgun.

In my Threat-Centered™ courses I teach a block on one-handed (strong hand) shooting and the plausible reasons it might be necessary, but I’ve never really been as diligent about applying the same logic and analysis ...

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Is defensive education sexist?

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A recent article on another site suggests that female gun carriers are being “told” what they should or shouldn’t do. How valid is that criticism?

A few weeks back I wrote about the problems with off-body carry (as in a purse, satchel, or briefcase.) While I was careful to make the article as gender-neutral as possible (I even used a picture of a man instead of a woman), the reality is that off-body ...

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Illustrating the issue with off-body carry.

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Off-body carry, such as in a purse or handbag, brings with it a peculiar risk. Sometimes all we need to do is look at the news to understand it!

As I’ve mentioned previously, Off-body carry (OBC) is a convenient way to tote a defensive firearm. It doesn’t require any changes to one’s wardrobe, and the gun is ostensibly “always” there.

Except when it’s not.

A news report out of Austin, Texas chronicles a series of violent purse snatchings that have made the ...

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Assault Analysis: The Ramos Family Home Invasion.

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A household is missing a husband and father at the hands of rampaging criminals. Did it need to end this way?

First, please read the news account of how Richard Ramos lost his life. Then come back for the rest of the discussion!

Now that you’ve read the story, let’s look at this a little closer.

Hopefully you’ve picked up on the fatal mistake that Mr. Ramos made: he opened the door to strangers early one summer morning. Even his wife said ...

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