Not many people in this business will tell you the truth. This guy does.

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Over the weekend Rory Miller (if you don’t know who he is, check out his author page on Amazon) put an interesting post on his blog. You should go read it before continuing here.

Back already? Did you read all of the article? (Promise?)

Miller makes a number of good points in his article, but there are two that I think are incredibly important in terms of defensive shooting training. First, that no one has had ...

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Why are we so resistant to learning from our mistakes?

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Last week I became aware of a YouTube video of a fellow shooting himself in the leg after making ready during a match. He starts the video off by proclaiming that it wasn’t his fault – it was his gun which malfunctioned and was in the hands of the maker’s service department for analysis of the “failure”.

I knew, ten seconds into the video, that it wasn’t the gun. I knew, just due to the fellow’s demeanor, that he’d had his ...

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How’s your situational awareness right now? It may not matter.

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I have a quick homework assignment for you. Watch the first minute-and-a-half or so of this video (you can watch the rest later, but now we have work to do!)

You see what your knowledge tells you you’re seeing. You apply whatever base comprehension you have to explain or make sense of whatever it is you’re observing. That’s what the truth is, really; an explanation or a point of view that fits what you observe. Whether ...

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If it’s not relevant, why are you doing it?

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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 ...

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The toolbox metaphor, continued.

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Occasionally I’ll run into an instructor who is actually teaching appropriate, plausible skills – but who insists on calling them “another tool for your toolbox”. 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 ...

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Tools for the toolbox: my least-favorite phrase!

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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 ...

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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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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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How do you budget for training?

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Omari Broussard recently wrote an interesting article for the Personal Defense Network about budgeting for your self defense needs. Too many people only think in terms of the cost of a gun, but you really need to think about the whole package: the gun, magazines, ammunition, holster, and – perhaps most importantly – the training to use it all safely and appropriately.

It’s a good read. Please share it with your friends!

-=[ Grant ]=-

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Competition and training: a very different perspective from Ken Murray.

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One of the truly original thinkers in the defensive training world is Ken Murray. He’s the author of “Training At The Speed Of Life” and an acknowledged expert on reality-based training, and in this PDN video he talks about the disconnects, as he sees them, between the competition arena and defensive shooting.

Food for thought.

-=[ Grant ]=-

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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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Task fixation in critical incidents.

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One of the concepts that we talk about in most of my classes is that of task fixation: the diversion of attention to a particular sub-activity during an attack. We discuss this specifically relating to looking at the gun while reloading.

The concept is clearly illustrated in this video of a very dynamic simulation during a Craig Douglas ECQC class (one of the few on my “short list” of classes to attend.) Note that the gun fails to fire and suddenly ...

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Don’t fall for it! Gun safety, authority figures, and you.

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(Note: I am omitting names in this article, not because the information is secret but because I want to focus on a concept. The incidents I talk about are public knowledge and can be found with about 15 seconds of Googling; if you really want the nitty-gritty details, feel free to do the searching – but please don’t bring that information in to any comments here, as I want the discussion to center on the ideas not the players. Thank ...

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Misogynists – ya gotta love ‘em. Or not, because their notions about women and guns are way off.

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Several months ago I read a discussion about teaching women to shoot. In it was this gem (written, obviously, by a male of the species) about what a “woman’s class” should entail: “I would put a greater emphasis on field stripping, taking the gun down and putting it back together. Our society doesn’t encourage women to mess with machines, demystifying the gun as a machine instills confidence.” This comes from the same mindset that says a really important part of ...

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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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Style over substance: training to impress.

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I recently learned of a blogger and wanna-be instructor, a member of the disturbingly superficial “I’m cute and have a gun – read my blog!” trend, who wanted to have her picture taken with a well-known trainer who was visiting the area. Note that she didn’t want to take the excellent class that he was teaching, she just wanted a picture to post on her blog to make people think that she had a connection with a Famous Gun Instructor!

At ...

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Revolver malfunctions, Part Three – user induced problems.

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There are really only two “malfunctions” that can be attributed to shooter technique, and they’re both easily avoided.

The first is a failure to properly reset the trigger. This is especially common with autoloader shooters who pick up a Ruger revolver: used to resetting the trigger until they hear or feel a “click”, they do the same on their revolver and…the trigger locks up! The trigger won’t compress until it’s allowed to travel all the way forward, to its rest position, ...

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Safety rules. Again. Until everyone gets them.

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From a new-to-me blogger comes the story that a woman in South Carolina was ‘accidentally’ shot by an off-duty sheriff’s deputy during a class to get her concealed weapons permit. The deputy was the instructor.

What’s interesting to me are the blogger’s comments: Jeff Cooper’s rules, he says, “are not flexible”. Oh, really? I’ll refer you back to my original article on the detestable Rule #1 for clarification. I think they’re tremendously flexible, ...

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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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Finishing an experiment with pocket carry. Maybe.

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Early last year I embarked on something of an experiment: carrying my gun not on my belt, as I’ve done for more years than I can remember, but in my front pocket. Exclusively.

I’ve carried in a pocket holster from time to time, usually when wearing a suit, so I’m not at all unfamiliar with the concept. I’ve never done so as my default method, and I wanted to see what it was like. What kinds of problems would I encounter?

My ...

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Numbers don’t say things. Words do. Use them.

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A man is sent to prison. At night, after the lights have been turned out, his cellmate yells “number eight!” The whole cell block breaks out laughing. After things quiet down, someone else calls out “number eleven!” Again, everyone laughs.

The new guy asks his older cellmate what’s going on. “Well,” says the other prisoner, “we’ve all been in here for so long that we all know the same jokes. So to save time, we just yell out the number instead ...

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Keeping ourselves honest – with ourselves. It’s necessary for teaching excellence.

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Kelly Muir at the Instructor Revolution blog put up an interesting post the other day. She was at a shooting class* and saw someone she knew, a martial arts instructor of some renown. She was impressed with the fact that this fellow enrolled in a class where he was a real student, amongst students (and probably an instructor) who didn’t know who he was or what he did.

The reason she was impressed goes well beyond the “always ...

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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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Defensive training. iPhone. What’s the connection? A list.

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Yesterday Apple announced a new iPhone, and with it an advanced software to add voice control to that phone. (“Siri”? Who names these things?)

Almost immediately the blogs and tech sites were abuzz with inevitable comparisons to the competition, complete with tables breaking down the products feature by feature.

I found it amusing that they all had one line that said ‘voice control’, with a simple “YES” or checkmark on each product. Some of the more adventurous would take pains to point ...

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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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King of the road: what do you do about an instructor with an attitude?

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Over a year ago I read a review of a training course on one of the gun forums. It’s been long enough that I don’t remember what the course was, or who the instructor may have been, so I don’t think I have any dog in the fight. Besides, it’s not the particulars that matter in this story; it’s the student’s attitude that I find most intriguing.

The person in question had taken a weekend course at some gun school and ...

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