BECOMING THE CIVILIAN DEFENDER…THE APPLIED SCIENCES!

In hopes of bringing MORE multidisciplinary curriculum to the world, I have partnered with my friends Dr. William Aprill and Legendary Lawman Marshal Chuck Haggard of Agile Training and Consulting, to come to Middle Tennessee to teach their combination of multi-disciplinary curriculum.  If you are a fan of the CIVILIAN DEFENDER concept, this instructional module will give you a HUGE leg up on:

  1.  Criminology/Street Smarts
  2. Less Lethal Skills
  3. Handgun Skills and Tactics
  4. Defensive Tactics

There really aren’t many courses out there like this.  Wait…scratch that.  There aren’t any other courses out there like this!  This package and configuration of material is rare, and this is an excellent opportunity to obtain and earn information that would otherwise take a considerably larger block of time to become exposed to!  Course information follows…

Thank You,

Dr. House

Chuck Haggard of Agile Consulting and William Aprill of Aprill Risk Consulting are pleased to announce a new course of instruction:

Date:

November 19-20, 2016
(with an added value, “Less Lethal Skills Course,” and, “Open Source Retention and Disarming,” from 4-8PM on November 18th)

Class Location:

NASHVILLE AND WAVERLY, TN

Unthinkable: Concepts and Techniques for the Gravest Extreme

Summary:

Unthinkable is, in brief, a tour of the dark side of criminal violence. In two very full days, attendees will undertake a fast-paced and interactive overview of how dangerous aggressors think as they decide whom to victimize, and we’ll review target demeanor and behavior for cues that we appear easily victimized. Hands-on training will introduce robust, effective techniques for disarming an assailant armed with a pistol and cover an in-depth survey of the best processes and methods to establish a powerful and adaptive defensive mindset.  Utilization of hardware, including less lethal weapons (OC/“pepper spray,”) and everyday carry pistols will also be covered.

Blurbs and quotes:

“I wish everyone important to me would take this class.”

-”Unthinkable” attendee, 2015

William Aprill is one of the most important thinkers in the defensive shooting world today. His insight into what makes criminal attackers “tick”, as well as his understanding of the psychological aspects of training and response, are valuable to everyone who has a firearm for personal defense.

-Grant Cunningham
“If I could go back in time I would trade every moment I’ve ever spent in a carbine

course to listen to William Aprill’s lectures in the Unthinkable class because THAT information was the kind of stuff I needed.

-“Unthinkable” attendee, 2015

The gun is certainly a wonderful and very powerful tool, but it’s not wise to pin your survival strategies entirely upon the possession of that tool. “Unthinkable” arms you with information. Critical crucial knowledge that may not be needed every day, but if the “Unthinkable” actually happens to you it gives you enough exposure to know there is almost always something you can do to improve your situation. The exposure opens your mind…

GunNuts.net
Full Course Description for NOVEMBER 19-20 Block

How do violent criminals think of us, and how do they target us?

How are human monsters made, and born?

What do we do when faced with drawn gun?

All these questions bring to mind threats that any reasonable person would avoid at any cost. So why would anyone pay to spend a day immersed in exploration of those threats and more? Simply put, there is no way to develop an effective and adaptive defensive mindset without spending time in some fairly dark places.

This course will explore the essential domains and skill sets, guiding students to the next step in developing their ability to protect themselves and those they love.

For participants in this course, a systematic approach to enhancing personal safety will be undertaken in an engaging and fast-paced format over a very full day of training.

Since defensive awareness is rooted in realization of risk, and since defensive preparation adds the commitment to mitigation of threats, unifying those elements in defensive decision-making will be the emphasis of this course.

It is the goal of the instructor to drag awareness of risk from the back of the mind to its very forefront, ensuring that an actual life-threatening scenario will not be the first time participants have honestly faced what will be necessary.

Participants in this course will be presented with some challenging truths about the world as it is and asked to make serious, personal changes in how they prepare for that world.

Classroom components will include intensive, interactive lecture including:

Fatal Choices: Understanding VCAs and How They Identify Victims

In this fast-moving and interactive lecture participants will be led through contemporary theories and current, curated data on the process by which violent criminal actors select their targets for violent aggression. Particular attention will be paid to the internal mechanisms in play within the criminal psychology, the universe of signifiers around “good guy” behavior, demeanor, and attributes which may actually make selection for attack more likely, as well as considerations for responsible armed citizens to mitigate this risk. Previous iterations of this material have been presented to LE agencies and private citizen groups across the US as well as international LE educational events.

The 5 W’s of Risk: Constructing an Effective Pre-Need Defense Paradigm

Many instructors present material on surviving physical attack and some others address the aftermath of that defensive violence. However the preparation for being attacked, what Craig Douglas of ShivWorks has referred to as the pre-kinetic phase, is given limited, if any, attention by the vast majority of trainers and even fewer students. This presentation will review common mental and philosophical errors made by practitioners as they plan for what they hope will never happen: a determined attack by a violent criminal  intent on killing you and those you love. Attendees will be exposed to a practical method for undertaking the pre-need decision-making necessary to a sound self-defense and survival mindset, providing increased awareness and a clear path to maximize their capacity for self-protection.

Practical instruction will include:

Real world EDC, making small handguns work

Most trainers will advise that CCW folks carry a full or mid size service pistol, for many this isn’t possible everyday.  This class will focus on the small handguns that many if not most people choose or are forced to carry by various issues such as body size, comfort, real need to carry in a NPE (non-permissive environment).

This class formed out of a need for skills training for people who carried snub revolvers.  A need for different TTPs (tactics, techniques and procedures) for people who carry pocket size semi-auto pistols was identifed and addressed in training as well.

This course segment will cover issues with weapon handling, draw, carry, malfunctions, ammunition selection and other issues that make small pistols and revolvers different than service sized semi-auto pistols/revolvers.

Included in this block will be “Tactical Anatomy” to maximize the effectiveness of defensive handgun bullets, and ammunition selection, with a short demo shoot in ballistics gel.

COURSE DESCRIPTION FOR NOVEMBER 18TH BLOCK

Pepper spray and other “less lethals” for the CCW person

“If all you have is a hammer then every problem gets treated like a nail,” is a very real issue in the CCW world.  This class will cover less than deadly force choices for non LEOs (this will apply to off duty LEOs though!), with emphasis on OC/pepper spray as a force option.  This class will include deployment practice with inert spray.

Open-Source Retention/Disarming

A hands-on block of instruction in the art and science of maintaining positive control of your own defensive handgun and of taking one away from an assailant when necessary.

No prior experience or training in defensive tactics is required, no special physical gifts are necessary and the material is presented in a from-the-ground-up approach to allow conceptual understanding and physical grasp of an intuitive, robust skill-set in a relatively short time. Please bring an inert training version of your carry pistol, if possible (red gun, blue gun, SIRT, etc.) so that carry gear may be used if applicable.

INSTRUCTOR BIOGRAPHIES

0418WilliamAprillWILLIAM APRILL

William Aprill is a licensed mental health professional with over 19 years experience across the continuum of clinical care. He presently maintains a private practice and consultancy specializing in post-traumatic interventions and other disciplines.

William is a former deputy sheriff (Orleans Parish, LA, Criminal Sheriff’s Office) and Special Deputy US Marshal (Eastern District of Louisiana). He is a decorated competitive shooter and has taught civilian, law enforcement, and military personnel in various fighting skills since 1990. He maintains an active schedule both as student and teacher, having been instructor rated by several top-tier trainers and studying under many of the most influential members of the combative arts community.

Through his company Aprill Risk Consulting, William has been invited to present his material on violent criminals and their decision-making, defensive incident aftermath, mindset development, defensive preparedness, and other material to civilian, law enforcement, and military audiences across the country, including at:

International Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors (IALEFI)Annual Conference

Georgia Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors (GALEFI) Annual Conference

Louisiana Homicide Investigator’s Association

Illinois Homicide Investigator’s Association

Rangemaster Tactical Conference

The 1-Inch to 100 Yards Warrior Conference
Tactical Response Alumni Weekend

Lethal Force Institute

Defense Training International

Orleans Parish (LA) District Attorney’s Office
New Orleans Police Department, Crisis Transportation Service
Jefferson Parish (LA) Juvenile and Adult Courts
Orleans Parish (LA) Drug Court

Louisiana Association of Drug Court Professionals
He is a co-founder and Training Director of Paul-E-Palooza, the memorial conference and fundraiser for the family of the late trainer Paul Gomez, and has presented across the country in collaboration with Craig Douglas/Shivworks, Lethal Force Institute, Rangemaster, Active Response Training, Sharp Defense, Point-Driven Training, Tactical Response, Safety Solutions Academy, Modern Defensive Training Systems, Immediate Action Combatives, Defense Training International, Armed Dynamics, and others.

William has been a regular guest in firearms/training industry media, including popular appearances on

Ballistic Radio
Practically Tactical
Downrange Radio, with Michael Bane,
American Warrior, with Michael Seeklander

The Safety Solutions Academy Podcast

Armed Dynamics podcast
Armed Squirrels Project
GunBlogVarietyCast

“DrZ” YouTube channel, with Dr. Dave Zehrung

“Crash & Burn”, with Allstar Tactical
ReWild Yourself podcast

Personal Defense Talk

He has been referenced in publications including RECOIL magazine, The Tactical Wire and The Journal of the Armed Citizen’s Legal Defense Network, and is the subject of two Personal Defense Network DVDs of his original training material on defensive decision-making and mindset development.

227883_4694165477297_1219234165_nCHUCK HAGGARD

Chuck has been active in private defensive training throughout his long career in urban law enforcement. After nearly thirty years of steady upward progression through the ranks of the Topeka Police Department, he ventured out on his own to pursue private training on a more regular basis. Chuck maintains his POST certification and stays active in the law enforcement community, but he now devotes even more time to training other police officers, military personnel, security forces, and private citizens on the art and science of personal defense. Below is an abbreviated list of some of Chuck’s credentials.

•28+ years with the Topeka Police Department, including posts as a Field Training Officer, Field Training Supervisor, Rangemaster/Armorer, Response Team (SWAT) squad leader and team leader, and Watch Commander (rising to the rank of Lieutenant)

•Kansas Army National Guard (1985-1998)

•National Law Enforcement Training Center (NLETC), National Trainer

•Strategos International, Adjunct Instructor

•Survival Operations System, Inc., Instructor/Board of Directors

•Hardwire Tactical, Adjunct Instructor

•Countless training courses and train-the-trainer courses from various reputable sources, including:

•Rangemaster Firearms Training Services

•Defensive Shooting Academy of Tulsa

•HK International Law Enforcement Training Conference

•HSS International

•National Law Enforcement Training Center

•Israeli Shooting International

•Lethal Force Institute

•Strategos International

•Sure-Fire Institute

•Active Countermeasures Systems

•American Society of Law Enforcement Trainers

•Casco System (expandable baton)

•Glock Academy

•Safariland Training Group

•International Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors

•National Rifle Association (several civilian and law enforcement instructor certifications)

•PPCT Training Systems

•Taser International

Chuck is certified as a civilian and law enforcement trainer on various weapon systems, including pistol, shotgun, rifle, carbine, oleoresin capsicum (O.C.), baton, and Taser. He is also skilled and experienced at teaching weapon retention, disarming, and other empty-hand techniques. He enjoys teaching and is proud to be able to contribute to this nation’s widespread community of responsible, law-abiding advocates of self-defense.

The range address for the November 19 and 20 session is:

Humphreys County Sheriff’s Office Training Center 2123 Scepter Rd
Waverly, TN 37185
931-296-2301

The address for the November 18th Less Lethal Skills Class is:

MMRS LAW

114 30th Avenue South

Nashville TN 37212
LODGING NEAR THE RANGE IN WAVERLY:

Hotel Information for HCSO Training Events

(Listed in order of quality)

Holiday Inn Express (18 miles from classroom)
HURRICANE MILLS (WAVERLY)
15368 HWY 13 SOUTH HURRICANE MILLS, TENNESSEE 37078 UNITED STATES

Hotel Front Desk: 931-296-2999
Hotel Fax: 931-296-2999

Best Western of Hurricane Mills (18 miles from classroom)

15542 Highway 13 S, Hurricane Mills, Tennessee 37078-2040 Phone: 931/296-4251 | Fax: 931/296-9104

Deerfield Inn (4 miles from classroom)

1331 Broadway Ave
New Johnsonville, TN 37134-2139 (931) 535-3889

Imperial Lodge (6 miles from classroom)

504 West Main Street Waverly, TN 37185-1407 (931) 296-2521

 

COST:  $400 FOR TWO FULL DAYS OF TRAINING ($50 ADDITIONAL FOR THE LESS LETHAL/OC SKILLS COURSE ON FRIDAY EVENING, OR $100 FOR THE FRIDAY OC/DISARM CLASS IF YOU ARE ONLY ATTENDING FRIDAY EVENING!)

TO REGISTER:  CONTACT DR. WILLIAM APRILL william@aprillriskconsulting.com

If you haven’t got problems I feel bad for you Son, I’ve got 99 problems and a gun ain’t one…

This is probably going to ruffle some feathers…but I’ve received emails asking questions or looking for further explanation on some things that I’ve talked about, and I want to address those.  The email below sums up a good number of questions/emails I have received.  If you’ve read my blog for awhile, you’ll notice that I very rarely stick to just one central topic in my articles.  This is partially due to my quickly shifting attention focus, but also because I like to draw parallels between things that may, at first glance, seem relatively unrelated.  So here we go…

READER MAIL

Dear Dr. House,

I like your articles.  However, I am a follower of Dave Ramsey, and I just refuse, nor do I have the money to spend, on a bunch of high tech gadgetry and gear to support my concealed carry lifestyle.  I have a revolver, a pancake holster, a few speed loaders, and a very modest supply of carry ammo.  I feel like the industry doesn’t support guys like me, and that everything I read makes me feel like I will probably get, “killed in da streets.”  Any advice?

Thank You,

Chad

DEAR CHAD,

Thank you for the note.  I too, am a follower of Dave Ramsey!  And, I’m still working on my second baby step (the debt snowball…dental school cost me nearly half a mil!).  So I get it.    I don’t spend much money on equipment these days.  That’s why you don’t see me doing too many gear reviews here.  Occasionally I will purchase a new holster, or some other widget, but I almost always support that purchase through the sale of other holsters/gear that I no longer use.  Of course, if all you have is one holster, I wouldn’t worry too much about it.  If it works for you, there is certainly no reason to change up your game, equipment-wise.  There are certainly far worse ways to be armed than with a revolver.  If you are on a tight budget, I’d work on finding open source ways to increase your MENTAL AWARENESS AND PREPAREDNESS, like I describe HERE.  I know that the industry tends to make the folks that don’t have the latest and greatest guns and gear feel marginalized, and inadequate, but that’s how companies sell products.  It’s not just the firearms industry…it’s just marketing that works on humans.  So, bottom line, worry about something else, keep your head on a swivel, maintain your physical health and fitness, identify, know and understand the criminal threats in your area of operations, be a skillful driver, learn some emergency medical skills to include CPR, the Heimlich and AED use, and get in a good dry-practice program with your revolver.  Carry a tube of pepper spray on your keychain and a med kit in your vehicle, and get on with your life!

morpheus

AN ALTERNATIVE LOOK AT STOPPING POWER…

In the above link, my friend and Supercop Greg Ellifritz talks about the details of his own handgun stopping power study.  In that study, Greg concluded that the .22 (yes…THAT lowly .22) actually produced an impressive record of effectiveness in a number of incidents.  Think about a few things, relative to that, for just a second:

  1. How many police departments or military units do you know that widely issue or use .22LR’s for general issue to their troops?  I’m not talking about fish or game officers that may use a .22 for special applications…I’m talking about .22’s in the duty holster of the patrolmen on the street, or the soldier in the field.  I haven’t been able to find any evidence of them being used.  Thus, the body of evidence relative to .22 shootings come from the civilian world.  That means it is either good guys versus badguys, badguys versus good guys, or badguys versus badguys.  In any of the three scenarios, police/military units are not dispatching said .22 rounds at anything…it’s a person other than the police/military.
  2. As Claude Werner has said in the past, a shooting involving a civilian crime victim has less at stake (for the bad guy) than a shooting involving the police.  Shoot it out with the police?  At best you’re going to jail, and at worst you will die.  With a civilian shooting (botched robbery or carjacking, for example) that bad guy can still escape and maybe live to fight/rob another day.  That means that the weapon you use to defend yourself doesn’t have to be a tremendous manstopper, it just needs to have to ability to change the direction of the bad guy’s intent, and Greg’s research (and Claude’s) shows that a .22 can make that happen.
  3. The Ruger LCP, the Beretta Jetfire, or the Ruger LCR .22 Magnum you have on your person is better than the Glock 17 you have back in your safe at home, when life goes sideways.  Now, this will probably peeve a bunch of my friends in the training community off, and I fully expect that Tom Givens will kick me in the pants next time he sees me.  However, statistics relative to civilian gunfights show, that in a life threatening, lethal force situation, nearly any gun will do, if you will do!  Regardless of caliber.  Tom Givens maintains a database of 6o PLUS civilian shootings involving his students, and within that database, not all of those shootings occurred with handguns chambered in the minimum 9mm/.38 Special that most (including Tom) instructors recommend for self defense.  However, Tom’s students that were armed, WITH ANY GUN, emerged victorious from their respective scenarios.  Unfortunately, Claude Werner, THE TACTICAL PROFESSOR will soon retire from livefire training.  This is really unfortunate, because Claude was one of the few trainers (the only other guy I know of is Erik Utrecht from MDFI) with a curriculum specifically aimed towards the civilian user of the infamous, “Mouse Gun.”  For some folks, who may be restricted by budget, limited dexterity, hand strength, or concealment issues, “less than recommended,” caliber weapons can still be a viable option!
  4. One of the few variables you can control in a fight is what you bring with you to that fight.  For me, I personally bring a full size pistol (S&W M&P 9mm/Glock 19 or 34) or at the very least a J frame (if I’m at the beach) with me wherever I go, every-darn-day.  However, I am also blessed with a profession that pays well, and my services are in high-demand, so the financial end of it isn’t a concern for me.  I also work for myself and have no employment regulations to abide by.  I’m also healthy and I have no issue wielding a full size, full caliber pistol.  However, if I didn’t have the capacity to carry a service sized 9mm, I wouldn’t feel horribly undergunned for civilian self defense and home defense with a S&W M&P .22 Compact, or Ruger/Walther analog of said pistol, and a Ruger 10/22 at home for defense of my home.  Ammunition choice is important with .22’s, not so much for terminal ballistics (you can only put so much lipstick on a pig) but moreso for ignition reliability, and Claude recommends that rimfire users load match-grade .22’s for self-defense purposes.  The big issue with .22’s for self defense, is that many of the pistols are of poor manufacturing quality, and don’t tend to run well.  If you must rely on a small caliber pistol for self-defense, use a quality brand.
  5. The only variables you can control relative to the projectiles you launch at your opposition are the projectile’s weight, it’s diameter, and the type of projectile (e.g. full metal jacket, hollow point, soft point, etc.).  THAT’S IT.  Everything else is left to chance, since bullets do weird things when they hit people.  Now, that saying gets thrown around quite frequently, but those bullets still can’t defy the laws of thermodynamics, physics or science, in general.  They will still behave relative to the physical constraints of our universe.  Some people get their logic twisted and think that there is either a direct correlation between scientific fact, and anecdotal experience…in general the only correlation is that rarely do scientific fact and anecdotal experience collide!  To expound, we all know people that will demonstrate to you, that they carry a Detonics Combat Master, 24 hours a day, INCLUDING the shower, loaded with .45 ACP hardball, since, “They all fall to hardball.”  Well, .45 ACP hardball does have a record of performance worldwide, in many incursions, battles and fights, over the past century, but it also has had a fair number of failures.  And, scientifically, in laboratory testing in ballistic gelatin, hardball is a consistent over penetrator (meaning it will penetrate PAST the 12-18″ that are considered ideal for human deterrence).  We all ALSO know the guy that will tell you, “I carry a .22 for self defense because the mafia uses it for assassinations, and the bullets just do nasty things when they get inside of you.  Like you can hit someone in the arm and the bullet will end up ricocheting all of the way into their brain!  I know, my Uncle was a cop in St. Louis!”  Again, projectiles can do weird things, but one thing that they cannot do is outstrip the constraints of science and grow new properties, like hyper penetration (in a lightweight/low weight projectile).  It just doesn’t work like that.  And, we have the laboratory, gelatin results for .22’s, and they are typically underwhelming in terms of penetration, often failing to meet the ideal penetration depth, of 12″ in tissue analog testing (ballistic gelatin).  Unfortunately, these same people are often immune to logical proof, so debate with them is pointless.  Thus, the seemingly perpetual motion machine of the great, “caliber debate,” that has occurred since people began launching projectiles of any kind at one another.  I am a believer and practitioner of scientific skepticism, and I’ve spoken with people that claim they were abducted by aliens, and had various experiments performed on them.  When you ask these people for proof, aside from their subjective, first person account, they have no proof.  When you tell them that science as a whole doesn’t have definitive proof that ANY extraterrestrial life exists, they usually get angry and tell you that you simply refuse to believe, or that you work for the government.  Sound familiar?  This same type of, “cognitive dissonance,” (which is a psychological term to describe the feeling that a person suffers from when they attempt to simultaneously grasp two contradictory ideas) occurs in gunshops and discussion forums, daily.  Too many of these folks walk around blissfully unaware of the wrong data that they spew from their mouths.  And that’s a shame.  Seeing aliens in the sky, Bigfoot in the woods, or bullets do magical things is a cultural phenomena…not a scientific one.  Science doesn’t exist without physical evidence.
  6. Effective shot placement is similar to real estate…it’s all about LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION!  What the modern scientific literature shows, is that a projectile delivered to the central nervous system, or the great blood vessels in the upper chest, OR the heart itself, usually are the most effective on a living, determined attacker, REGARDLESS of species.  We tend to over-generalize this, and say things like, “aim for the center of mass, or the head.”  I would slightly amend that and say, “From the front or rear of the attacker, or from the side of the attacker, aim for the central midline structures!”  The entire, “center of mass,” concept goes out the window when someone turns sideways.  We’ve all seen people whose center of mass might be two inches above their 52″ belt line.  And turning sideways doesn’t mean that someone is running away from you, or turning away from you.  They could simply be bladed away from you, beyond what we normally consider, unlike an aggressive paper target would be on the range.  Even non-lethal hits, when delivered to the midline of a living beast, have the capability of producing a psychological stop.  Plenty of people get shot in the gut or the groin, and while they may not die immediately, they will often lose interest in their present plans.  Of course, we should always strive to deliver hits to the areas of the body that we KNOW are most effective, however, that isn’t always possible.

I’ve settled on Smith & Wesson (and Glocks) for my family’s pistol needs. Your choice may vary, and thats OK!

FINAL THOUGHTS…

I know that there exists a certain degree of equipment snobbery in the self defense industry.  Those with less than state of the art equipment CAN feel underprepared, but it is usually hollow thinking, if that person has the requisite skills required to defend themselves.  I think you’ll find little overlap between the guns and gear recommendations of those that train with firearms frequently, and those that are casual shooters.  The training fraternity tends to shoot their guns, thousands, if not tens or hundreds of thousands of rounds a year.  Thus, they tend to pick guns that work well in that high round count role.  Can other guns serve for self-defense?  SURE!  Will those other guns last, if you were to subject them to a heavy practice regimen?  They MIGHT.  This is exactly why many students and instructors don’t recommend, “bargain,” brand pistols for serious purposes.  You’d be better off to buy a used model of a known brand pistol or revolver.  Same goes for long guns.  COULD I rely on a Rossi Puma .357 lever gun for home defense?  YES.  But would I be able to practice with that carbine the way I want to, to gain the confidence necessary to have to shoot that weapon with great skill, against possibly multiple attackers, in close proximity to my loved ones?  Possibly, but I don’t consider that gun to be tremendously rugged, and why push my luck if a 10/22, AR-15 or AKM will work effectively AND allow rigorous practice?

It all boils down to the user…If they have the mindset, tactics and skills in order, then the equipment is really a small, minor piece of the puzzle.  Unfortunately, much of this, “equipment envy,” gets carried over from the competition, military, and law enforcement worlds.  In the competition world, practitioners of high skill levels CAN experience a benefit in their performance, with careful equipment selection.  In fact, some types of gear are required to make that person even competitive at all.  And in military and law enforcement operations, where the good guys are actively HUNTING down badguys, of course you want to have the absolute best, most state of the art gear to do that.  But in civilian self-defense, the gear isn’t the limiting reagent in that reaction.  It will always boil down to the superior mental awareness/mental preparedness, tactics, and skills.  And unlike the military and the LEO, the civilian has the ability (and some states even require the DUTY) to avoid confrontation and escape from the clutches of human violence, whenever possible.  Thus, if you ARE the CIVILIAN DEFENDER, it is to your benefit to be the best at sneaking your way OUT of any situation you may find yourself in.  I don’t know about you, but I worry far more about my stealth, sneaking abilities, and not being selected as a victim, than I do about anything having to do with the fully functioning gun and ammunition in my holster and magazine carriers.

If I could only have one gun, it would be a J frame. I can hide it in any clothing, and it works.  Depending on my clothing, I can carry it in an appendix holster, in my pocket (when I wear a tuxedo or chinos) or on my ankle as a backup to my primary carry piece.

 

 

 

 

IT’S CLOBBERIN’ TIME!!!

IMG_3274

Chances are, if you’re reading this, you are a gun guy or gal.  And, as such, gun people tend to want a, “gun solution,” to darn near every problem.  And while an ankle holster is an EXCELLENT way to quickly access a handgun while driving, a snub nose with 5 shots in it is hardly a match, physically, to the 4000 pounds of moving metal and plastic that is my Toyota Tacoma!  My argument is, you’re already behind the wheel of a far more efficient weapon than ANYTHING you can wear on your body or carry on a sling.  So, don’t trip over the hundred dollar bills trying to pick up pennies…use your vehicle to its full operational capacity!

 

I guess I need to start coming up with better clickbait titles.  I’ll probably get a bunch of, “Fantastic Four,” and CM Punk fans, and that’s totally cool.  But, not at all related to what I am going to write about here.  If I call this, “Offensive Driving for Rookies,” most people won’t read it.  Because most American males think that they can drive like Mario Andretti, shoot like John Wick and really, that’s just not factual.  If you read my article on BECOMING THE CIVILIAN DEFENDER, you will recall that I talked about the need to have enhanced driving skills.  These are driving skills that go beyond the basics of what one would learn in a high school driver’s education course.  No doubt, those basic skills are important, and should be mastered, but for the truly prepared individual, it helps to learn and master a bit beyond the basics.  Now, I’m not recommending that everyone learn how to drive like Steve McQueen, but it helps to know a few distinct skills and tactics that can help you get out of a hairy situation.

I came up with this list after years of working in the armored truck industry, and as a fireman and emergency medical technician.  In the armored truck industry, the main requirement for ultra-defensive driving was to prevent ambushes and move around city and highway traffic safely.  We used to call them, “Highwaymen,” and now we call them, “carjackers,” or simply, “robbers.”  But, as long as people have been putting valuables into armored boxes and moving them from place to place, there have been badguys who are determined to get their filthy hands on those valuables.  So you need to have some driving game to escape those situations.  Remember, AND THIS IS IMPORTANT, the mission of the armored truck industry is to deliver the goods, and go home safely, after your shift ends…you know, JUST LIKE ANY OTHER CIVILIAN.  Armored trucks have no duty to engage in a firefight with a bad guy, nor render mutual aid to law enforcement OR anyone else.  Hollywood loves armored trucks, and 99% of what you’ve seen or heard about the armored truck industry is lore, and nothing more.

In the public safety industry, whether you are driving a police cruiser, an ambulance, or a fire engine, your need for defensive driving is underlined by the fact that despite the flashing lights all over your vehicle, and the 150 decibel siren you have screaming out from under your grille, most drivers are completely oblivious to their surroundings, and what is going on outside the cab of their respective conveyance.  Whether they are tied up in a verbal domestic with another occupant, or be-bopping to their tunes, or talking on their phone or even worse, TEXTING on their phone, they simply do not see you.  So, half of the peril in being a first responder is GETTING there, in one piece, so that none of your coworkers have to be in the, “rescue the rescuers,” role.

With all of that said, here are a few points and skills that I think, are important to consider for the truly prepared CIVILIAN DEFENDER.  These are the tips I would give my rookies, in the ambulance and in the armored truck, to help them ensure success.  After all, they are driving around with me in that truck, too.  I’ll also teach my Son these tricks, in the next few years as he learns to drive.

  • KNOW, instinctively, the location of all four (or six) wheels of your vehicle, as easily as you know where your hands are in the dark.  Webster’s Dictionary defines, “proprioception,” as:  ” the reception of stimuli produced within the organism.”  By this, I mean you should know, without thinking, where the four corners of your vehicle are, when you are behind the wheel, and by knowing this, also know where your wheels are.  If you do, you can look at a space and judge whether or not you can fit there.  I know my truck is 74 inches wide…two inches narrower than I am tall.  I can look at a space and determine if I can fit there, and if I can fit, so can my truck!  Go to any parking lot and look around.  How many of those folks have done a crap job of parking their cars?  Crooked in the space, too far to either side, extended into another space.  Those folks either knowingly parked like a jerk, or they simply don’t know what they are doing.  I’d wager to say that most of them simply don’t know.  Another good example of this is when people attempt to back into a spot, or make a three point backing maneuver to get into/out of some space.  We’ve all seen that person turn a simple two point maneuver into a seven, eight, or NINE point turn.  We laugh because it’s funny, but we also laugh because it is true!  If that person had any inkling of the actual dimensions of their vehicle, they’d know that they in fact had FEET around them, and weren’t in danger of hitting any obstacle.  They simply didn’t know what they didn’t know.
IMG_3354

This is an intersection I pass through several times a week.  It is filled with unique hazards, depending on the day.  You can’t see it, but there is a driveway from a restaurant on the left, that half-drunk drivers will tear out of, at the last minute, in an attempt to get across the left hand turn/straight lane to make a right.  You have to watch for them.  You also have to watch for the various homeless folks, vagrants, and others that tend to loiter and sometimes aggressively panhandle.  And of course you have to watch for inattentive drivers.  Whenever I approach any intersection, I look for escape routes.  I’ll think to myself, “If I need to get out of here, can I thread the needle between that Chevy Colorado pickup and that brick retaining wall?  YOU BET I CAN!”  I’ll have to pop the curb, but that’s not a problem.  I don’t have 4WD because I like spending more on gas, and because it looks cool!  Having a higher than a car ground clearance makes jockeying curbs, easy.  If needed I could also shoot to the left (permitted that there are no oncoming cars) and drive into that parking lot, too.  Anything that puts yards of distance between me and the bad guys, will work.  I can get a new truck, later today, if needed.  I can’t replace my body, and I can’t replace my child or spouse/significant other.

  • KNOW the performance capabilities of your vehicle…and DO NOT overestimate or underestimate them.  How many times have you seen an obviously off-road capable vehicle (like a Toyota FJ, or a 4Runner) slide off of the side of the road, when it is snowing (or even raining) simply because the driver didn’t know what their vehicle was (or wasn’t) capable of doing?  It happens in inclement weather states, all the time!  Years back, in Western Washington State, my roommate and I made several hundred dollars a day just driving around in the snow, looking for motorists that had drifted off the road in the snow, and needed us to pull them out (using a Jeep and a winch).  “Want to get back on the road?  $20 please!”  Furthermore, how many people think that they can, “dodge,” out into oncoming traffic, in a vehicle that does 0-60mph in MINUTES?  That doesn’t work well either, for anyone involved.  So don’t get out onto the open road until you know how much, “go,” your vehicle has, as well as how well the vehicle stops, and how tight you can turn (in the event you need to make a U turn on a street without breaking traction).
IMG_3301

If the above meme applies to your vehicle’s braking system, your priorities are screwy and you should park that beast until it is safe to drive.  You’d think that these things go without saying, but, unfortunately, they don’t.  If I had a dollar for every time I’ve seen a person layered in guns and tactical gear that must’ve cost tens of thousands of dollars, but they drive the biggest, most unsafe POS this side of Uncle Buck’s ’75 Merc Marquis, I’d have hundreds of dollars!

  • Don’t allow yourself to get, “stuck,” anywhere.  At a stoplight?  Make sure you have enough room to move.  How much is enough?  I like to be able to see the area between the tires of the vehicle in front of me, and the road underneath it.  That gives me enough space to maneuver my pickup truck or my SUV laterally, if I need to get out of that area, quickly.  It also prevents me from getting pinned between the vehicle in front of me, if there is one.  Too many road rage incidents happen these days, and usually one of the involved parties is unwilling to engage.  Hopefully, that person can simply escape the area and get mobile.  The last place you want to be in a violent scenario is trapped inside of an immobile vehicle.  Think of yourself as a shark…if you quit moving, you die!  READ THIS recent account of one of my esteemed colleagues, and an incident he got into with a road rager!
  • You are behind the wheel of an extremely effective battering ram…if an attacking vehicle attempts to block your egress, BLIND THEM WITH SCIENCE!  This thought process applied well to the armored truck, since they contained a tremendous amount of mass (20 tons) in a package just slightly larger (taller) than an extended length SUV.  If you aim the centerline of your vehicle at a car that is attempting to block your path, aim for the axle closest to you.  On impact, that vehicle will rotate about the opposite axle, and be quickly, and forcefully whipped out of your way.  You can do this driving forward, or in reverse, direction doesn’t matter.  If the vehicle is traveling head on, align the center of your vehicle with the outer edge of the attacker.  Of course, in a truck that you have to back with mirrors alone, this is more difficult, but still not impossible.  In a conventional passenger car, truck or SUV, this also works well.  Also, you don’t have to be traveling tremendously fast to get good results with this.  You’d be surprised what one 4000 vehicle traveling at 15mph can do to another vehicle trying to impede its progress…it can blow it right out of the way, with just a little direction and TWO TONS of science!
IMG_3373

As outlined in the point above, you (the good guy) aren’t trying to destroy the bad guys and their car…you’re just trying to get them the heck out of your way.  You do this by the careful application of mass and momentum.

  • LOOK in the direction your vehicle is going.  We get too reliant on mirrors, cameras and technology, and forget that the headrest on the passenger seat is there to give you something to hold onto and bolster yourself against when backing!  I read once that, “MOST motor vehicle collisions are caused by people NOT looking in the direction that their vehicle is traveling!”  Can you believe that?  It sounds inane, but in my experience, I’ve witnessed many vehicular collisions that were realized when the person looked up from whatever they were doing, which wasn’t looking in the direction their vehicle was traveling!  So simple, and yet so common.
  • You’ve never been lost until you’ve been lost at MACH 2.  As a child of a Naval Aviator, mantras like this were common in my youth.  And having learned to drive from said aviator, I quickly learned, by the loud voice coming from the passenger seat, to keep my, “eye on the sky,” ahead of me…several vehicles ahead of me.  If you don’t, you are relying on the guy in front of you to react to whatever threats come along the road.  Broken tires, radar traps, potholes (big hazard in Tennessee…like knock your tire off the bead potholes) drunks, erratic drivers.  All of these things don’t exist in a vacuum, and the easiest way to avoid them is to simply NOT be there when they pass.  See them, identify them, take evasive action, look for the next threat.  Of course, you aren’t traveling at MACH 2, but you get the point.  Even at a modest 60 miles per hour, you are moving along at 88 feet per second!  To even react to something (human reaction time is .25 seconds average from visual stimulus) at 60 miles per hour (like a collision in front of you) you have already traveled 22 feet!  So conserve your mental focus, maintain your following distance, and keep your eyes on the road!
  • The driver DRIVES, the shotgun SHOOTS.  When I was in my law enforcement degree studies, a part of the training was relative to what was called, “Officer Survival.”  One of the tactics germaine to the topic was to not let anyone, “walk up,” on your patrol car, since they could essentially fill your car full of bullets, while you just sat there and took it.  So, to pass that grading portion, you had to be hypervigiliant about NOT getting caught in your vehicle.  And I figured out quickly that the best way to rapidly egress my vehicle on an aggressive walk up was with a pistol already in hand!  Well, fast forward to my first foray into the ghettos of South Seattle, in a fully armored truck (my door doesn’t open, mind you…it’s bolted shut, in fact).  I pull to a stop light, and notice that there are six youths posted up on the corner, and all of them are mean mugging me.  The light is still red.  They start to walk, all at once, directly for my door, and I draw my pistol, instinctively and bring it up to eye level.  The light turned green and I hit the gas, blowing past the six turds, who stood there, in a cloud of black diesel smoke.  I looked in the rear view mirror at my partner who said, “Mr. Sherman…you’ll find that our vehicle is quite resilient against anything a bunch of hoodlums in shorts and undershirts can conceal on their person.  You just worry about driving.”  I felt like a dope, holstered my pistol, and went back to worrying about driving.  The reason that you and your friends yell, “SHOTGUN,” (meaning the guy that rides in the passenger seat, up front) is because in the, “old days,” when an armored truck consisted of a stage coach with an iron and wood, “strong box,” mounted somewhere in it (usually under the butts of the crew) the guy that handled the reins of the horses was called the, “driver.”  The guy with the shotgun was called the, “shotgun messenger,” or just the, “shotgun.”  His job was to shoot any highwaymen, or interlopers that would impede the normal progress of the coach.  Same with the armored truck…same with you and your soccer Mom van…when you are moving, and still capable of moving (meaning your vehicle has not been disabled by physical damage) your best defensive and offensive weapon is your vehicle!  Someone tries to pin you but you smash them out of the way and round a corner?  KEEP DRIVING AND CALL 911!  Let the police get there and stop the bad guys.  Under most circumstances, unless your vehicle becomes irreparably immobile, does the, “driving solution,” go out the window in favor of the, “shooting solution.”

There are other skills and tactics that you can think of, and if so, share them in the comments section.  These are a few that I KNOW work, because I’ve used them myself, or seen them used in my presence, OR I’ve seen the aftermath as a first responder.

IMG_3372

This is a news clipping from a past student of mine, local to where he lives.  In cases like this, OR ANY robbery situation, the bad guy(s) are expecting one thing…COMPLIANCE.  Don’t give it to them!  Even if you DO decide to empty the contents of your wallet, pockets, purse or even armored truck to them, would you like to wager your life against the chances that they might let you go, and not just kill you or injure you within an inch of your life?  I am not.  Every situation is different, but my default reaction in a robbery is to fight back.  I’ve done it, and it’s worked out well for me, thus far.  Hopefully, you’ll never find yourself in that situation, but if you do, remember that robberies are about someone expecting to take something from you by force.  DON’T MEET their expectations…exceed them.

Thanks for reading!

-Dr. House

 

Reader Mail…XS BIG DOTS

 

Dear Dr. House,

 

First, glad you are back. I dont know what you were dealing with but hope its settled and you are able to get back to doing what you enjoy.

Second, I am still anxiously awaiting the sequel to the Is the 19 the new K frame which is the is the 26 the new J frame.

Third and my actual question. As someone who has shot revolvers a lot. What are your thoughts on a front site such as an XS? I have thought of installing one on my 60 just havent gotten around to it. I am sure it will make fast up close but wonder how it will effect my 25 yards shots.

Thank You,

Alex

Dear Alex,

1. Thanks man. I was recovering from heart surgery.

2. It’s in the works. The conclusion might surprise you though.  There are things a J frame CAN do that a Glock 26, can’t.  The same can’t be said for the G19/K frame…

3. I LIKE the XS front, the problem is that the rear notch (on the stock revolver) isn’t regulated to the front. Some folks get lucky and get a good POA/POI intersection, and others end up shooting FEET high at relatively close distances (<15 yards). It really depends on the gun.  It also depends on the shooter, and which, “part,” of the dot you are using (meaning, “dot,” centered in the notch, the center of the, “dot,” or tritium vial bottomed out in the notch, etc).  I know a gent that had Jim Fuller at Rifle Dynamics run a ball-end mill through the sight trough of his revolver, opening it up into a semi-lunar shape, which was regulated properly, and served him well.  That was on an all stainless gun, and I don’t know if that same thing would work on an Airweight frame though, as I imagine all of that extra aluminum is necessary for safety and wear resistance.

I thought that the Smith Nightguard series was great, but, they calibrated the C&S rear to fit the height and shape of the front (XS) sight. Why they can’t make an analog of that in J frame format, is beyond me. Silly, really.  I don’t think it would take a tremendous effort to figure out the dimensions on the Novak type rear sight that comes on the Smith 640 Pro, and offer it in other J frames.  I’m sure it would sell among the training community…which means that Smith might sell 1000 of them.  Maybe a few more.  That’s just the brakes of business.

Thank you for the questions!

EXPANSION

XS Big Dots are kind of like Donald Trump…either you love him or you hate him!  There are very few fence sitters when it comes to the Big Dots.  As far as my views on them, I think that they are just fine for defensive purposes.  When I was a younger man, and my vision hadn’t yet been significantly affected by staring into people’s mouths for several years, I would’ve said that the Big Dots were fine, but that there were other sighting options out there that might be better for some people.  However, now that I am dealing with, “approaching middle age vision,” I don’t mind Big Dots at all.  Really, the issues that I have had with them are less about the sights and the sight picture itself, than the construction of the sights.  I’ve had the, “dot,” itself eject from the sight set of a S&W Shields (twice) and I’ve lost the front dot on a Glock before.  Of course, the gents at XS handled that perfectly, and sent me replacements, but it does create a concern for me.  All three, “loss events,” occurred in practice, while I was shooting 5-8 shot strings, in between reholstering.  I drew the pistol, and realized that the dot was gone, or the dot ejected early on in the string of fire.  Bummer either way.  I’ve met people who shoot exceedingly well with Big Dots, both young and experienced, and I’ve seen complete novice’s do really well with Big Dots in both live fire and FOF scenarios.

Sights are like shoes, underwear and yes, even politicians…what I like and prefer, might not be your cup of tea at all.  In the gun industry, there is a big push to say, “THIS,” is what you need.  Whether it’s sights, a holster, belts, shooting glasses, ear protection, or any myriad of other equipment pieces.  But everyone is a different size and shape, and has different abilities.  So no, “one thing,” is going to work for everyone, all the time.  I’m not sure what drives people to want to seek that level of organization.  Perhaps it is the thinking that people use similar to how they think about M4 usage for civilian home/business defense…”It is good enough for the military and my local police, so I NEED that level of equipment, too.”  I get it, it’s proven (maybe) and mil-spec, but don’t forget the context; unless you ARE the military or the police, your mission is significantly different.  So pick what works for you.  Get sights that you can see, and shoot to the point of aim and point of impact of your chosen practice and carry loading.  Then worry about something else!  It’s really easy to get wrapped up and concerned about the gear, but the gear is actually the LAST thing you need to worry about (SEE HERE FOR MORE DETAILS).  In 99% of cases, most gear will do, if YOU will do.

Thanks for reading!

 



 

A Brief Conversation with Chris Fry of MDTS Training…how many rounds are enough?

The following is a brief exchange I recently had with Chris Fry of MDTS Training (Modern Defensive Training Systems).  Chris is an excellent practitioner and instructor of the multidisciplinary curriculum I talked about HERE.  He is also one of the plank holders of the Paul-E-Palooza Memorial Training Conference, and a regular presenter at the RANGEMASTER Polite Society Conference.  


REVOLVER SCIENCE: Do the magazine restrictions in NY affect your student’s choices in the handguns that they use for personal protection? i.e. are students more likely to choose a, “size efficient,” handgun, versus a large pistol with a neutered magazine?

MDTS:  The magazine restrictions in NY are 10 round mags. The NYSafe Act passed by Cuomo in 2012 attempted to limit the mags to 7 rounds however a Western NY judge threw that part out and it went to an appellate circuit and was withheld. So, we can own and carry 10 round mags. Even during the “7 round scare” people still bought full size, compact and subcompact pistols and I saw/see a mixture of all three. Maybe 1-2 subcompact in each class but most just go about things the way they have always done.

REVOLVER SCIENCE: Do you see 5, 6, 7 or 8 shot revolvers in your classes? If yes, how do the students fair, compared to the semi-auto pistol students?

MDTS:  Occasionally I see 5 shot snubs but not often. They are pretty rare. When I do see them it’s usually a women or a guy with a BUG. They do OK compared to others with a little guidance on efficient loading but are usually slower. Shooting ability varies from student to student. Some have done as well as others with full size pistols and some needed more work than what they received in a one day class.

REVOLVER SCIENCE: Do you design your pistol drills to cater to the reduced capacity magazines?

MDTS:  No. I emphasize the fact that we are allowed to carry a limited amount of ammunition, that we don’t get to decide how many aggressors we may need to engage and that ammunition management should be done when we want, not when we need. Meaning they should continually manage their ammunition via deliberate reloading when time and opportunity provides. This is also emphasized during malfunction drills specific to the “double feed” or failure to extract in that a lot of places I’ve gone to emphasized dumping/throwing the offending mag away because, well, you’re in a pistol class and have 13 spare mags on your belt. I do my best to add a little practically to it reminding people that 1) if it’s in the home MOST are likely to have gun with one mag in it. 2) how many spare mags do you carry? Maybe one. So, clearing that failure to extract while retaining that mag is something I try to get people to consider.

____________________________________________________________________

Interesting thoughts!  I agree with Chris’ views, having lived through that wondrous time known infamously as the, “Crime Bill of 1994,” and I did live and learn with a Glock 19 and an HK USP .45, both with 10 round magazines.

I get, “fan mail,” (I’ll call it that instead of HATE mail) where people ask me why I own a site called, “REVOLVER SCIENCE,” but often talk about how and why the semi-automatic pistol is superior to the revolver.  I wonder if the first automobile manufacturers got mail asking, “WHAT WAS WRONG WITH MY HORSE DRAWN CARRIAGE?  KEEP YOUR NEW FANGLED MACHINES TO YOURSELF!”  Who knows?  People are odd, in general, and, “gun,” people can be strange, and often oddly sentimental.  I try to embrace technology, and use it to better my life.  Isn’t that the point, after all?

I asked Chris at MDTS the questions you just read because I was curious, in the training communities he works in that can be considered, “behind enemy lines,” due to their persistent set of gun control laws and magazine restrictions, because if ANYWHERE an 8 shot .357 revolver would be welcomed, it would be in a place that had a magazine capacity restriction, right?  But the majority of revolvers that Chris sees are the J frames (5 shots).  Makes sense…since carrying an 8 shot N frame, while it may deliver the, “horsepower,” of a 10 +1 Glock 19, it requires more square footage to carry, and conceal.  For home defense, the argument could be made to have one staged in a quick access safe, but in a home defense situation, what can a large frame revolver do that a shotgun cannot?  ALLOW YOU TO SEARCH EFFECTIVELY AND RETRIEVE CHILDREN/THE PHYSICALLY INFIRM.  Understood, but what’s easier to shoot one handed…a large frame revolver or a Glock 19?  I have pretty big hands, and I’m much better with a Glock 19 one handed, than I am a large frame revolver.  Most of this is rhetorical, and I say it to inspire thinking, not to quash whatever home defense system you have in place, or are thinking about putting in place.

Revolvers are SIMPLE in operation, but DIFFICULT in utilization.  The long, DA trigger pull takes work to perfect.  Sending that shot straight, takes precision and care.  Of course, any of this can be addressed through practice, but I absolutely believe that it is easier to train a novice on a compact framed or full sized semi-automatic pistol, than it is to train the same person on a revolver.  As much as I love K frame revolvers for all around use, the learning curve is steeper with the revolver, versus the semi-auto.


Some folks have hypothesized that in the immediate future, we might see more gun control efforts and even an eventual abolishment of semi-automatic weapons, full stop, by the government.  In that case, regular folks like you and I would be saddled with using manually operated weapons (revolvers, lever action/bolt action rifles, and single, double and pump action shotguns) for self-defense.  Nobody is really doing that right now…NOT EVEN NY!  Thus, it would be a culture change, no doubt.  If that DOES happen, how would it change your day to day life?  Would you carry two guns (if you don’t already)?  How much more time would you devote to practice to get your revolver game on-point?  Again, just some things to consider.  I think both you and I can deduce from the excellent points given by Chris Fry above that the capacity limitations of the machine you carry (whether pistol or revolving pistol) matter not…how YOU utilize the equipment that you have, DOES matter.  For more about that, read here.

If you are in the market for superb multi-disciplinary training, give Chris Fry and MDTS a look, and tell him the Doctor sent you!  You can find Chris, here:

http://www.mdtstraining.com/

Safety Solutions Academy Podcast with Paul Carlson

This is a podcast interview I did recently with Paul Carlson.  It’s a long interview, but I think we covered some interesting material that podcast fans will get a kick out of.  Paul is a great interviewer, and he asked me a bunch of really thought provoking questions.  I misspoke at one point when I referred to myocarditis…I should have said, “infective endocarditis.”  Nit picky detail, and there is a good deal of overlap between the two conditions, but I’ve had myocarditis on-the-brain lately, since I’m dealing with the sequalae of myocarditis, myself.  So forgive my lapse.

We cover a bunch of topics, including my life before dentistry, the need for pre planning, “defensive driving plus,” foiling carjackings, gang violence, “defining the threat,” The Tactical Professor, the OODA loop and Glycolysis, Dr. William Aprill and lion chasing, and a bunch of armored truck material.  I hope you have as much enjoyment listening to it, as Paul and I had making it.

Check out Paul and Safety Solutions Academy if you live in, or travel to, Northern Ohio.  Paul has a great civilian-centric curriculum, and he also features a number of traveling trainers, including  my Paul-E-Palooza co-founder, Dr. William Aprill!

Safety Solutions Academy Podcast

Or, if you already have a podcast player, go to, “Safety Solutions Academy,” and I am show #62.

OR, the direct link is:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/safety-solutions-academy-podcast/id411900138?mt=2#episodeGuid=3e4690f2935d30712229ef1453e8247b

Gym Guns…”CHANCHO…I need to borrow some SWEATS!”

You can call them, “Gym guns,” or, “Gi Guns,” or, “Sweatpants guns,” or, “Board shorts guns,” but we are all talking about the same thing…an abbreviated version of a full size pistol, or a purpose built compact or subcompact gun, made for ease of carry, and less for ease of use.  MANY folks are relying on these guns in the limited or specialized role of low profile carry to the gym/yoga studio (although how in the hell someone does yoga with a gun on, without everyone seeing said gun, is beyond me) or running in the park or the track.  Along those same lines, many members of the Civilian Defender crowd rely on an abbreviated weapon, for everyday carry, either out of convenience (hey, smaller guns ARE easier to carry!) or because they don’t want to get made by their peers, or their employer, either out of embarrassment, or because they might lose their job.  We’ve all got to put food on the table, and the best way to do that is through gainful employment!  Luckily, I’m self employed.

Rio Bravo4

I could walk into work with a lever action rifle in hand, like old John T Chance here, and really (you’d have to see the neighborhood I work in) and really not look THAT out of place.  Other folks are not so lucky, and they don’t have the benefit of lugging around a full size service pistol, spare mags, Clinch Pick, OC spray, and a Spyderco Endura.  An additional note, film director Quentin Tarantino once said that he has found that if people do not like the film, “Rio Bravo,” he generally doesn’t get along with them.  Of all the litmus tests for human compatibility, I think that this is probably the best one!

I work out, five to six days per week, in a style of workout called, “High Intensity Interval Training.”  I’ll make the caveat that HIIT workouts aren’t for everyone; either you love it or you hate it.  I find that it works well for both my fitness goals, AND since I’m recovering (3 months now) from heart surgery, it allows me to give my recently remodeled and rebooted heart a good amount of stimuli, to encourage healing.  On Mondays, the workout consists of a 60 minute interval of jogging/running and sprinting on a treadmill, and lifting weights, specifically focusing on the arms.  There are a number of different trainers, who do a number of different workouts.  It is really hard to get the same workout twice, even from the same trainer.  So, I went to a trainer that has a VERY difficult arm day, in hopes that I would not be able to lift my arms afterward, and be really shaky.  Of course, this feeling is transient, and is gone within a few hours.  But, I thought it might be interesting to shoot a series of abbreviated guns, using the TACTICAL PROFESSOR’S BASELINE PERFORMANCE DRILL, and see how I faired, with noodle arms.

I shot the drills faster than I normally do.  Normally, I really stress accuracy, and that is the point of the drill, but with my arms smoked, I didn’t really feel like holding them out in front of me, as long as I normally would in a non-tensed state!  Not spraying and praying, by any means, but definitely faster than laying bullets on top of other bullets.  On the 3 shot and 4 shot strings, I was going for .5 splits or better, regardless of range.  The other complicating factor is that all of these guns have short sight radii, meaning that the distance from the front sight to the rear sight is abbreviated, and thus a bit of a wobble that might be barely perceivable on a 4″ barreled service pistol, is QUITE apparent on the shorter barreled guns…and even worse with the shakes.

I’m sure that there will be people who will disagree with me on this, but I find that in the majority of situations that a CIVILIAN DEFENDER will find themselves in, the choice of the pistol matters not.  My personal caveats are that it is chambered in a round that is effective (READ:  .38 Special is my minimum) and that it is controllable (READ:  I don’t like Scandium/Titanium frame J frames…partially because they are brutal to shoot, which inhibits regular practice, and also because they are ammo sensitive; you cannot use certain bullets since they will pull, with inertia, from the cases).  I don’t care if you use a revolver (duh) or a pistol for personal self-defense.  Nobody is raiding a fortified Nazi castle here…we are just regular Joes and JoeAnne’s trying to get back to our car with a load of groceries.  Tom Givens from RANGEMASTER keeps a database of all of his students that have been involved in self-defense shootings.  Of all of his students, he has had 65, to date, that have been involved in armed self-defense situations.  Of those 65, three of those students were murdered, for the contents of their pockets, because they were unarmed.  The other 62 were armed, and were victorious.  Of those 62, whether they had a pistol or a revolver, they made it through their nightmare.  So, while it would be GREAT for everyone to pack a Glock 19 or a Smith M&P, I know that isn’t a possibility for everyone due to stature, or finances, or simply aesthetics.  So whatever you use, make sure you can get it out of the holster and onto the bad guy quickly, hit exactly what you are aiming at, reload it if it runs empty, and fix it if it stops running.  Make it a point to achieve a high level of mastery in all of those skills, and you’ll be well prepared for the majority of situations you’ll encounter.  The choice of pistol is really not as important as most people consider it to be.  Don’t buy or carry crap, but think of it analogously to a car, that you may have to drive across the country.  Would you buy an uncomfortable, poorly functioning, piece of crap, made of pot metal and held together with wood screws?  Guns in the same vein exist, and some foolish boobs use them for self-defense.  Don’t be that guy or gal.

44861537-6c27-40a4-bf3c-a74c3cbf693d

Gen 4 Glock 26 with Ameriglo CAP sights, in the EXCELLENT JM Custom Kydex, “IWB Universal,” kydex holster.  It features a user-adjustable, metal clip, that allows the wearer to alter the cant to their preference.  The clip will hold onto a belt like it was welded to it, AND it will hold onto the elastic and drawstring waistband of gym shorts, just as securely.  Also pictured are two, currently popular after-market GLOCK magazines…the Magpul GL19 and the ETS (translucent) versions.  In the limited use (fifty rounds) of the test, they worked fine.  I’ll run them more in the coming months.  I’ve found that G26’s don’t always run well with full length magazines from G19’s and G17’s, as well as the 33 round magazines.  Also, as much as I love Sgt. Dave Spaulding’s writing, I really have come to love higher mounted sights.  These sights are great for carry, and for the user looking for a 1:1 steel replacement for the factory OEM Glock sights (er, I mean, “dovetail protectors,” these would fit the bill nicely), but I’ve become so accustomed to the Warren height uppers on Glocks and M&P’s.  In recoil, with the shorter sights, I have a tendency to dip the muzzle looking for the front sight on the follow through.  Seems to be exacerbated shooting these smaller guns.  Hrmph…must investigate further.

e3d5c8d4-bfdf-4f11-8925-0749c54f1b68

Old Faithful…the Smith and Wesson J-frame.  This is an all stainless, Model 640.  There are probably a good number of readers that use a J frame of some iteration, as a self-defense piece, and I salute you!  Like I’ve said in past articles, there are days when revolvers can be finicky.  This particular day was one of the finicky ones.  Although the revolver worked correctly in the firing phase, the cylinder release took an inordinate amount of pressure to open!  I think that may have had something to do with the hotter-than-regular-Air Force-ball-Federal ammo that I was using.  I didn’t chronograph it, but it seemed to be moving, and the muzzle blast was impressive, even under the lights of the range.  The gun probably heated up quickly, and that led to problems with the cylinder opening.  Not a big deal in practice, but in a confrontation, I’d rather just pull another gun.  Of course who wears 2 guns to the gym?  Put your hand down, you wild man!  So, you can see why it could be important to be able to open the gun, and then reload it, under the pressure of someone trying to kill you.  Anyway, I counted this as 49/50, although you could make the argument that the upper hit was within the bounds of the clavicle, that is, inferior (below) the clavicle.  There is still  number of good targets in that area, but, since I wanted to make this hard on myself, and since I wasn’t aiming at the clavicle, I counted it as a miss.  In all of the tests, I am aiming for the (somewhat ambiguous on this target, and that’s by design…pay no attention to the poorly scaled and somewhat ectopic organ systems depicted) is the imaginary zone defined at the lateral borders by the nipples, and at the upper border of the manubrium (the top of the sternum) and the diaphragm at the lower border (bottom of the sternum).  Anything outside of that imaginary zone, is a, “miss.”

26b95d84-e08f-47ae-8351-2698818bd8cf

The Smith and Wesson Model 12.  This is a 2″ barrelled, aluminum K frame revolver.  This was, “THE GUN,” to have back in the police wheelgun days, if you were a plainclothes investigator.  The gun is stock, except for red nail polish on the front sight ramp, the hammer is bobbed, and the stocks are made by Ahrends grips, in the version they call their, “Tactical Model.”  Airweights like this carry great, because they are a full size grip gun, but they are very light.  Airweights like this are a handful to shoot, because although there is plenty of gun to hold onto, they don’t weigh much, and they have some recoil to them!  Recoil is subjective, and I think it is fun, but when you’re arms are shaky, the long (albeit smooth) DA pull of a revolver like this makes your arms feel the burn, which equates to some not-so-straight shooting at 15 yards.  I dumped two rounds here, below the level of the diaphragm, which I’ll count as misses here.  Sure, the guy might die days later of a septic infection, or bleed to death in an alleyway hours after the confrontation, but that’s not what we are trying to achieve.  We are trying to make the badguy STOP whatever thing he is doing that makes him a badguy.  We can only get badguys to stop what they are doing by delivering accurate hits to vital targets.

234157f0-9c69-461c-b101-1362a62361a1

The Gen 4 Glock 26.  As weird as the Glock mini-guns feel in the hand, they shoot well!  I enjoy them, and I think they just may well, “be,” the 21st Century J-frame.  Many armed citizens and police officers use the subcompact iterations of the Glock as primary or secondary weapons.  As with the revolver, those 10 and 15 yard strings require a good deal of focus and stability.

78312cd8-8404-4b4a-8024-5bc5c628c041

The Smith and Wesson Shield 9mm.  This is a great gun too, and what I feel is the best of the breed, when it comes to single stack 9mm carry pistols.  I have tried other, “small,” single stack 9’s and the Shield is the only one that I really felt confident with.  With that said, I have yet to try out the Glock 43 (stay tuned) but I have used the Walther PPS, and the Kahr PM9.  I liked the Walther, but it wasn’t, “that,” compact (although it is FLAT) and the Kahr was just too small for me to get a good thumbs towards the badguy grip without burning the end of my thumb, because it extended past the muzzle.  I know that some folks have had bad luck with their S&W Shields, but I’ve been happy with mine.  And really, I feel about the same, shooting-wise, with the Shield as I do with the 9C.  I think with work, I could produce the same kind of accuracy I get with my J frame, and (dare I say) retire the J frame for only super-discreet carry roles.

9056e832-4e4a-45c7-be0e-b828768b8201

The Smith and Wesson M&P Compact 9mm.  Similar in size envelope to the Glock 26 (sorta halfway in size between a Glock 26 and a Glock 19) is this handy little machine.  My significant other has one of these as her carry piece, and although I’ve had this pistol for several years, I bought it, got distracted by something, and it just sat in my safe.  I changed the sights from the factory Novak with 3 painted white dots (which I have found have a tremendous propensity to fly out of the sockets of the sights, while shooting) to the Dawson Precision, “Charger,” fiber optic sights.  Partially because like I said, I don’t like the ejecting dots on the Novaks, and also because I wanted to test the utility of fiber optics on a carry gun.  I REALLY like the rear sight on this.  If the front sight takes a dump on me, I’ll just replace it with something that is the same height and width, but made of steel.  

LESSONS LEARNED

I know that someone with a science background is going to read this and flip their wig at all the variables that I threw in here.  So, in that vein, no…it is not, “rigorous scientific testing.”  However, it is reproducible to you, the reader.  Go beat your arms to a pulp, in whatever form of exercise you prefer.  Then take any accuracy intensive drill (preferably one you know how you shoot, “cold,” in a non-tensed state) and shoot it when your arms feel like limp spaghetti noodles.  Compare your scores.  MY TAKEAWAY from this is that sights and trigger manipulation will get you through, even if you’re not using a gun you’ve completely, “bonded,” to.  Also, the acceptable, “wobble zone,” when you are in a post-exercise state, “moves,” quicker.  The involuntary rattle in the limbs and hands does a pretty good job, I think, of simulating peri-incident stress.  That makes the wobble zone, especially on the distant shooting strings, more difficult to manage, and really requires a sure grip, and careful manipulation of the trigger.  A few readers have asked how I manipulate the trigger, and I use the, “flip and press,” method taught by Bill Rogers of the Rogers shooting school.  I find that I don’t have the, “trigger freeze,” issue that some folks experience when switching from pistol to revolver and vice versa.  I can also switch from DAO autos to DA/SA without a drastic transition.

But that wobble zone…shooting at distance, even only 45 feet, when your arms are burning and weak feeling, is difficult!  Give it a try and post your thoughts in the comments section.  Thanks for reading!

-Dr. House