Safety Not Guaranteed: VEHICLE TACTICS with JOHN FARNAM

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A rifleman, and I (in the blue ear pro) defend our position from armed marauders, and eventually abandon the vehicle, all under the watchful eye of Mr. Farnam.

John Farnam is a front runner in the training industry over the last (nearly) five decades, more so than most people know.  He has been conducting, “road show,” or offsite training classes, since the 1970’s.  Anyone who teaches remote classes (meaning classes off of a range that the instructor owns/leases/operates) owes a debt of gratitude to John.  Although there WERE private sector trainers both prior to, and during the US Civil War, John was the first, post-war (I fully expect him to kick me squarely in the pants for that remark, next time he sees me).  He has been a Law Enforcement Officer, and remains so today, since 1970, after his time in Vietnam as a Marine Corps Officer (LT).  John is one of the few trainers today that has quality, actionable intelligence and information that is usable by all vocations of professional men-at-arms.  His, “Vehicle Tactics,” course is vocationally generic, but the lessons and skills it taught are applicable to military, law enforcement and Civilian Defender missions/contexts.  I have attended lectures by John at several Polite Society Conference/Rangemaster Tactical Conferences in the past, as well as read all of his books, but this was my first live-fire class with him.

What you reap from your own experience in this class, will be significantly different from mine, but as I’ve done in past essays I’ve compiled on this site, I’ll give you some of my key takeaways, and things that I’ve spent some time reflecting on.  I spent a decade working out of an armored truck, and nearly 20 years working out of first responder trucks and patrol vehicles, and of course I’ve driven since I was 15 years old.  I learned or re-tooled a number of my own ideas because of this class.

  • Parked vehicle threats are down, nationally,  due to the improvements in anti-theft technology.  However, carjackings are up, statistically, because now the technology demands that the vehicle be occupied to be moved, and thus the driver must possess a key-fob or electronic card to, “activate,” and operate the vehicle.  Keyless entry is great because it minimizes the amount of time you have to spend fiddling with your keyring, pocket, bag or purse, and you can simply enter your vehicle and then get underway.
  • Stationary vehicles are dangerous; when the vehicle isn’t moving, get away from it, or get it moving as quickly as possible.  DON’T DITHER (This is a commonly used, “Farnamism,” or repeated theme throughout the class.  Weapon down?  Don’t dither, do something about it.  Weapon run dry?  Don’t dither…do something about it (eg reload, transition to a backup or move to cover.  Vehicle inoperable?  DON’T DITHER!)
  • Driveways and parking lots are the most dangerous places in the country.  Robberies and car jackings occur there frequently (because that’s where the cars are) and the construction and layout of modern parking lots allow the attacker concealment from onlookers.  If you’re forcibly proned out in between parked cars, nobody can see you to rescue you or call for help
  • Another Farnamism that is probably not adequately attributed to John is, “Don’t go stupid places with stupid people to do stupid things.”  If you think about this, it would allow most folks to avoid many confrontations.  And as John has said, “You win 100% of the gunfights you DON’T get into.”  Thus, John’s prescription of, “Avoidance, Deterrence and De-escalation,” make great sense, and great advice for anyone who doesn’t want to engage in interpersonal violence.  And that should be everyone!  Furthermore, avoid sleazy bars, protests or sporting events where people are in close proximity to each other and tempers can flare.  Although these places seem to skirt around the, “stupid trifecta,” they really do equate to, “stupid,” since stupid people, regardless of YOUR intentions (to enjoy the game, have a friendly drink with your peers, or voice your political opinion) gravitate to these venues and wreak havoc.  So avoid them if possible.
  • The term, “Good Tactics,” more appropriately equates to, “the best BAD tactics which seem to work based on the outcome.”  Just because the outcome was favorable, doesn’t mean the path to get there was good.  Don’t allow bad tactics that worked, guide your heuristics for tactics.  Use the tactics that work indubitably
  • Practice what John calls, “Aggressive Disengagement.”  Meaning a firmly voiced, medium volume, “NO THANK YOU.”  This will go a long way in dividing the focus of the inquiring individual.  Bad guys tend to probe a probable victim and if you fail their screening test, they’ll move on to someone that has a higher likelihood of success.  The average net from an armed robbery is $13…going to prison for 25 years isn’t a plan indicative of intelligence.  These kinds of predators understand aggressive, visceral action.  So broadcast your non-compliance quickly and succinctly, and then move along.  Be pleasant and you’ll avoid most fights you might otherwise get into.  “Nice,” doesn’t mean, “weak.”
  • Oddly, there is less penetration by bullets into vehicles that are moving, then there are on stationary vehicles.  I’d wager a hypothesis that this observation occurs based on Newton’s Laws of Motion.  Newton’s First Law States, “Every object will remain at rest or in uniform motion in a straight line unless compelled to change its state by the action of an external force.”  Thus, a projectile, weighing 123 grains, flying at a velocity of 2300 feet per second impacts an oncoming vehicle, weight 4000 pounds and moving at a velocity of 60 feet per second…the vehicle can change the straight line travel of the bullet by inertial disruption.  Also, Newton’s 3rd Law says that, “for every action (force) in nature there is an equal and opposite reaction.”  If both the vehicle and the bullet are moving, using the formula f=ma, the change or transfer in force results in an asymmetric reaction that can (and does) change the trajectory of the bullet.  This is testable in a laboratory with controlled conditions (Karl Rehn?  Let’s do this!)  Thus, if you’re in a vehicle, and someone starts shooting at you, GET OUT OF THERE AND DRIVE AWAY WITH GREAT HASTE!
  • Don’t crowd cover, especially cars!  Incoming rounds can bounce up and hit you, or roll across the sheet metal and have enough velocity to be lethal or incapacitating
  • “We,” (the good guys), use, “force,” which means, “to compel by physical means.”  They, (the bad guys), use, “violence,” which means, “the unlawful or inappropriate use of force.”
  • Rifles like the AR and the Kalashnikov has a sight line/boreline offset to compensate from the radiant heat issues (mirage) caused by fast cyclic rates of fire.  This is great for dealing with the mirage issue, but it creates other issues, that folks commonly overlook, and results in bullets ending up in vehicles because people do not compensate in their technique for the offset.  Also, close in targets require an adjusted hold to compensate for the sight/bore offset, otherwise the round will go low
  • John recommends a 40 yard zero for 5.56 long guns, as this gives a maximum pointblank range of about 260 yards, since the projectile crosses the line of sight at 40 yards, and again at 240 yards.  This means that from the muzzle to the maximum pointblank range (~260 yards) the projectile will not be more than 6cm above or below the light of sight
  • John’s classes are literally filled with quotable material, and a few that I particularly liked are:  “We’re here to inspire our students, not impress them.”  Students know who they are taking classes from.  If they want your entire resume, point them to your web page where they can read about it.  Don’t waste time in class reciting it.  “Learn from my mistakes so that you don’t repeat them.”  John has been in the game for decades, and he self-admits that he hasn’t always had great successes.  Yet, in the industry, despite the preachings of men like John and his peers/contemporaries like Mas Ayoob, Clint Smith, Ken Hackathorn and Tom Givens, HUGE bodies of knowledge and lessons learned go virtually unstudied or unnoticed, until some newbie on the scene, “Unearths,” some colossal truth, only to declare an eponym and commercialize it.  There is nothing new under the sun…listen to the wise-men of our community.  They know that of which they speak.
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John demonstrating how high velocity projectiles that hit automobile hoods and trunk covers do odd things, like change direction and, “roll,” across the hood’s surface.  He demonstrated this with pistol caliber rounds as well.
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John’s Signature AR, complete with forward mounted optic.  John told us that there is some inherent weaknesses mounting an optic so far out on the rail of the rifle, but he appreciated the ability to get fast target acquisition along with the ability to fully see and remain cognizant of his surroundings.  I tried out this setup and it worked really quite well!
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My long gun for the course was a Barrett REC7 DI AR Pistol, in 5.56.  I used an Aimpoint PRO optic and a custom-made Blue Force Gear Vickers Sling.  This is a great setup, and I made on demand hits out to about 240 yards with it.  I used my carry gun, a S&W M&P 2.0 Compact, carried in a Safariland Level 3 duty holster, with a full Sam Browne belt setup.  It was cold out!  The stippling on the pistol’s grip were appreciated, and the Barrett’s proprietary handguard did such a good job of dissipating heat, that I wished it actually held a bit more heat so that I could warm my hands in between evolutions!

Safety Not Guaranteed

According to John, “There is no perfectly safe gun handling.  Even if you want to live in a perfect, gun-free utopia, guns will still exist because others will have them.”  Thus, you need to accept that there are relative risks in life, whether we talk about guns, cars, travel, sex, childbirth, medicine, food, etc.  Every interaction in this world contains an element of relative risk.  If you want an interesting and worthwhile life, there will be risks!  The thoughtful part and what John conveys through his unique teaching style, is that the student is left to devise the path best intended to get from, “POINT A,” to, “POINT B,” as safely and efficiently as possible.  But there is no, “perfectly safe,” way.  John is purposefully vague in the range commands he gives during his drills, because he wants students to think through and negotiate those types of problems on the fly, and then correct the errors after the students experience demoralizing failure.  “WE ARE HERE TO FAIL!”  The learning occurs when the student can not only see the WHY of their improper choice, but also formulate the correct path and the WHY behind it.

When a student comes to a fork in the road, they must make a choice…go left or go right.  But which is the right path?  Because they fear that they will make the wrong choice, MANY choose to do, NOTHING.  NOTHING?  YES!  “The beauty of doing nothing, is that nothing can be done perfectly.”  It requires zero effort!  This all boils back to John’s point earlier about DITHERING.  “Dithering,” is the absence of perceptible progress nor failure…and results in absolutely NOTHING.  Don’t be a ditherer, and don’t tolerate dithering from your family or teammates when only decisive action and good tactics will allow you to regain and maintain the initiative.

The 4 “D’s” of Fighting

  1. DIVIDE his focus
  2. DISRUPT his plans
  3. DISABLE his body
  4. DESTROY his will to FIGHT

John applies this thought model to the style of unknown contact interaction he teaches, as well as how he recommends you solve tactical problems.  Don’t think of it as a replacement or re-manufacture of the OODA loop, but an expanded progression of it.  For example, in the aforementioned verbal interaction with the aggressive panhandler, the loud, clear, “NO THANK YOU,” with a simultaneous sidestep DIVIDES the focus of the possible threat.  Your self elected removal from his proximity as well as your verbal command alerts others in the vicinity and DISRUPTS his plans.  There is no need to DISABLE his body, nor DESTROY his will to fight, because the confrontation was avoided in the selection phase and both parties go about their separate ways.

Imagine this confrontation if the panhandler changes his motive from the acquisition of spare change to the forcible theft of your vehicle, by using a small revolver he has concealed in his coat pocket.  On your unsuccessful verbal exchange, and your aggressive body posture, the man produces a weapon and you do as well, simultaneously sidestepping while bringing your front sight to bear on his upper chest region.  His continued actions indicate to you that he intends to shoot you, and thus you fear for your life and are prepared to defend it!  The aggressive sidestep/lateral movement DIVIDES his focus.  Even the most calculated miscreant gets a good buzz from the effects of epinephrine on their nervous system, and thus tunnel vision shrinks their usable field of view considerably.  A quick lateral movement can seem like you literally disappeared!  And, as Tom Givens is fond of saying, “If you can get two WHAT THE F**K’S?? out of a bad guy that is usually enough to win the fight.”  You’ve also DISRUPTED his plan, because he was hoping for a compliant victim, not a resisting fighter.  Your bullets DISABLE his body by involuntarily overwhelming his nervous system and his cardiovascular circulation by lowering his blood pressure, or through organ damage and system failure.  And finally, you DESTROY his will to continue fighting by not surrendering the initiative and maintaining a tactical vantage point through the use of sound, useful tactics that leave the adversary at a disadvantage.

I don’t mean to sound snide when I say that John truly is the Elder Statesmen of our community.  The amount of knowledge he has contributed to the craft has been immense, and the contributions evolve, and continually expand!  I spent each meal from the start of class on Saturday, until the end on Sunday evening, listening to John talk about all manner of subjects from Churchill and the Boer Wars, to Abraham Lincoln and even Thomas Custer and the role he served in evacuating his brother’s remains during the Battle of Little Big Horn.  John’s knowledge base seems limitless, and even so, his inquiry into his students own experiences and what they do, is both humbling and kind.  John spent no less than a half hour asking one student about his 30 year experience as a bail bondsmen and fugitive recovery agent.  I think that to really be engaged with the field of personal self-protection, the instructor should truly be a man-for-all-seasons;  a fighter, poet, philosopher, psychologist, empath, historian, physical therapist, medic, race car driver and an eloquent speaker and  comedian.  John Farnam truly embodies all of these traits into a very quotable and approachable, Man-at-Arms.  Many trainers from the law enforcement and military communities have difficulty in transmitting Civilian Defender curriculum, that is accessible to the average Joe or Jane, but John’s course, like I mentioned earlier, is completely vocationally generic.  Train with him every chance you get!

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“Have patience, Margaret, and trouble not thyself. Death comes for us all; even at our birth—death does but stand aside a little. And every day he looks towards us and muses somewhat to himself whether that day or the next he will draw nigh. It is the law of nature and the will of God.” 
Robert Bolt, “A Man for All Seasons”

Why the Glock isn’t my preference…

If you’ve read anything here, ever, you know I’m a Smith & Wesson fan. They have their own set of problems, absolutely! Many Glock fans will tell you that, “Glock Perfection,” is a real thing, and that Gaston Glock only lets diamonds slip out from Smyrna. It’s all hyperbole though; every firearm is man-made and thus fallible. They all have idiosyncrasies and if you haven’t discovered those, then you either don’t shoot much, or you haven’t been trying very hard.

Here’s a few of the idiosyncrasies of Glocks, and what I do to counter them. Like I’ve said before, this is every brand of carry gun…live with them long enough through real use, and you’ll find these. And this isn’t a gripe session of, “this does this,” its more of a prep for the casual user to realize that these machines do strange things sometimes, but they do them regularly, and many are endemic to their specific species.

SLIDE BITE

That scar, to the left of the scab, is from shooting half of a case of 9mm in a day.  I’m not bitching, nor do I possess a shallow constitution, but I work in the mouths of people that have hepatitis, HIV and other microbials that I’d rather not have tag along for the duration of my journey here.  Thus, I guard the skin on my hands.  Germs are everywhere, and it would suck to be smote by something so avoidable.  So I take care.  When I shoot Glocks, planned, I will put a big piece of duct tape across the web of my hand and my fingers.  It helps.

I am a large man. Commensurate with that height, comes large hands. With any kind of extended shooting (>one 15 round magazine) I get gnawed up by the reciprocation of the slide. I have scars from shooting tens of thousands of rounds through Glock 19’s. I know what the Instagram diehard fans are going to say, and while adding the Generation 4 or 5 backstraps with the beavertails is an option, I don’t want to make a girthy pistol any larger in diameter, so those don’t work for me. Adding a Crimson Trace laser grip is a solution, albeit an expensive one, but it works. It provides a beaver tail that contains the electronics of the sight system, and you get the added bonus of having a laser indicator pointing at the target. A less expensive, and user adaptable solution is the Grip Force Adapter. This consists of a plastic part that attaches to the back strap of the pistol, and allows the user to get a high hold, ideal for recoil management and solidity of the firing grip on the draw, but keeps the reciprocating slide from contacting the shooter’s hand.

BRASS TO THE FACE…AKA BTF

Some Glocks eject their empty brass cases right into your face. I guess it depends on how big your face is, but mine tend to launch them right into my forehead. I know others who’ve gotten them in the eyes before, which could obviously be hazardous, especially if it’s in a self defense situation where you aren’t proactively wearing eye glasses of some sort. I’ve heard of many cures for this issue, ranging from changing the extractor, ejector or even changing how the gun is held. I don’t know which of these work and which don’t, and I’d wager to say it probably varies gun to gun. I just anticipate that every Glock I use is going to launch about 3/15 cases into my forehead. It’s annoying, yeah, but with issued guns, you can’t often do much other than grin and bear it. I recommend that anyone willingly going into harm’s way wear some kind of eye protection. On the range eye protection is a, “duh,” to be sure, but on the street, it’s often overlooked. When I worked on the armored trucks I wore sunglasses in the sun (imagine that!) and clear or amber lenses when it was overcast or nighttime. Yes, it does give the wearer a Walter Sobchak look, but it beats getting an eye full of hot brass, a squirt of errant pepper spray, or a glob of bloody saliva from the neighborhood turd. No thanks, I’ll pass.

The brass to the face sucks, yeah, and in the 50 rounds I shot here, I got 9/50 right to my dome. The, “Baseline Performance Standard,” drill popularized by my good friend Claude Werner, AKA THE TACTICAL PROFESSOR is a good way to determine how solid your accuracy capabilities are with any given pistol out to 15 yards, in this iteration here. You can stretch out the distances even further, range permitting. I attempted shooting it at 25, however some knuckleheads in the adjacent lane provided a wide cone of fire that, while they were shooting at 3 yards, hit my target at 25 yards.

Accuracy is important. Next to safety, and professional gun handling (which is, by definition, safe) accuracy is paramount. Not enough people put in the time to achieve even a moderate level of accuracy, and that’s where you, gentle reader, enter the picture. Encourage your friends to strive for 100% accuracy in all their endeavors, and do the same by leading by example.

Thanks for reading! Please subscribe, share on your social media outlets, and encourage others to share and subscribe!

Regards,

Dr. House

The Single Most Important Self-Defense Accessory is…

A gym membership. Can’t afford a gym membership? Get outside and walk. Do ten pushups every commercial break whilst watching your favorite TV program.

There are very few equipment or gear items that will save your bacon when the chips are down. A few examples notwithstanding…if you’re going up against North Hollywood Bank Robbers that are wearing armor, you’re going to need something that’ll punch through the armor. If you have a fire in your kitchen, you’ll need a fire extinguisher. And if you’re faced with a deadly force threat, you’ll need a gun. But once those basic denominators are met (there are others, but you get the point), the hardware portion of the equation has been met. And while hardware is a factor, it never supersedes the gravitas of software.

The first time I ever had a Civilian gunfight survivor in one of my classes, he very matter-of-factly told the class how he luckily thwarted a home invasion robbery by shooting dead, three suspects. I was moved by this man’s story. He said he was training now, so that if it ever happened again, he’d be better equipped to handle it. He’d changed guns, after the incident, to something with more, “firepower.” After the first hour on the range, he had to quit the class, because the mild heat (low 80’s) and bending over to police empty magazines after shot strings was too much for him that handle. His face would turn bright, fire engine red and he’d become short of breath. My point is, it does you or anyone else in your charge little good if you’re a real-life Paul Kersey, but you stroke out after the fight in the immediate aftermath.

Our hearts are complex organs, and they are constantly at work. Conditioning the cardiovascular system through exercise is something that has immediate tangible health effects, and is beneficial to EVERY body. I’m a firm believer in the regenerative healing power of exercise.

Tom Givens once said words to the effect of, “If you have to eat a toad, do it first thing in the morning, then whatever happens the rest of the day, it isn’t that bad.” Our bodies don’t physiologically, “know,” the difference between rigorous exercise and mutual human combat, running away from a herd of stampeding buffalo, or wrestling/subduing a marauding bear. The hormones, endorphins, and psychoactive chemicals that are endogenously produced by our brains are identical, regardless of the scenario. If you use this to your advantage, by exercising and, “fighting a bear,” most days of the week, you’ll benefit greatly when the time comes to fight anything…your body already knows what’s required.

The overall health of the training community is decent, but needs more work. With the advent of the fighting sports being commonplace amongst multi-disciplinary practitioners, an understanding of the requirements to maintain a baseline of physical performance is well documented. But it isn’t just the Jujitsu and kick boxing badasses that benefit from regular, rigorous exercise. Men and women, young and old, ALL will benefit from any increase in daily caloric expenditure, no matter how small.

So stop worrying about whether you chose the right striker-fired pistol for your EDC, or if the magazine pouch you’re using gives you the fastest emergency reload. Hit the track, or the stadium stairs, carry a tourniquet, and breathe in MORE air. All of your trials and tribulations through life, will be exponentially easier, the higher your exercise capacity is.

It’s 2018. Be the superhero kids read about in comic books.

“Lessons Learned From Watching 12,000 Gunfights”…a view from a middle-aged contrarian

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L-R:  John Correia from Active Self-Protection, the author, and Chris Baker from Lucky Gunner

I had the pleasure last month, of attending the 20th Anniversary, Rangemaster Instructor Conference and Reunion, in Shawnee OK.  In addition to fun competition and socializing with like-minded weirdos (see here), there were a number of lectures from other instructors about specific areas of their individual expertise.  One of these lectures was from John Correia, of Active Self Protection.  John has a very popular Youtube Channel where he reviews security camera and body camera footage from self-defense scenarios and then gives his perspective on the successes and failures of each scenario.  (Incidentally, cell camera footage isn’t reviewed since the footage is legally qualified as intellectual property by the phone’s owner and thus subject to IP laws).  I watch John’s channel regularly, and I find value in it.

John’s lecture consisted of a number of points of congruence that he has observed over his review of the source material, and made note of.  John qualifies this material as, “experiential learning,” but I think of it more as, “vicarious learning,” since the observer’s experience is merely watching clips on TV.  They must use their imagination to activate any relevance to the material, relative to their own experience.  John has taken these points of congruence he’s noted, and formulated take-away points that he feels civilian self-defense instructors should note, and implement into their teaching and lecture programs.  John used the comparison of his, “experiential learning,” model to that of what is known in the medical field as, “evidence based medicine.”  As a health-care provider myself, I know the workings of evidence-based medicine, since I utilize it in practice, several hundred times per month.  The difference is that in EBM (evidence based medicine) the health care provider uses their clinical knowledge, the patient’s values, and the best available evidence to make decisions about the patient’s care.  In the experiential learning model John describes, through watching videos, the practitioner is dealing with only one fixed value…evil.  The defender’s response in the video IS NOT necessarily the best choice, since they often have little or even no formal defensive capabilities or training.  So, unlike EBM, we probably need to spend more time examining the, “disease,” or the etiology of the disease, instead of examining, “bad medicine,” and whether or not it works.

If you’re into the defensive arts, you should either read, or have read Massad Ayoob’s latest book, “Straight Talk on Armed Defense,” (I WROTE ABOUT IT HERE) and in there, you will find two contrasting essays.  One, is written by Tom Givens, and he describes the experiences and successes of his students in defensive shootings.  In another article, by (nom de plume) “Spencer Blue,” (Spencer is a detective for a large metropolitan area) he outlines his study of documented results from defensive shootings involving UNTRAINED participants.  Of the two essays, can you guess which experimental pool had more successes?

It’s important to note in John’s videos, that many, if not MOST of the defender participants are largely untrained.  Thus, if we had to drop a specific video into either, “trained,” (GIVENS) or, “untrained,” (SPENCER BLUE) bucket, I know we would find that the UNTRAINED bucket would soon be overflowing.  Why is that?  A few reasons:

  1. EVERYWHERE I GO, I SEE THE SAME FACES.  There aren’t many of us; the training community is very small.  In fact, you’re rarely more than one degree removed from any contact you make within the training community.  I’ve been attending nationwide training events for the better part of two decades now, and I see the SAME people, everywhere.  Yes, there are always new faces in the crowd, but the majority, “core,” group is relatively immutable.  For many of us, this is our hobby, if not our vocation (in some fashion).
  2. TRAINED PEOPLE TEND NOT TO GET INTO TROUBLE.  We’ve all heard the statistic that, “carry permit holders are the most law-abiding group,” and that’s most likely true.  Your gun isn’t a talisman (or as John Correia calls it, “a woobie!“) HOWEVER, your enhanced awareness, IS.  The more you hone your awareness skills (and the older and wiser you get) the less apt you are to find yourself in trouble.  So, I know that there are less videos of trained folks getting into gunfights, since trained folks, even if they’ve never heard of the John Farnam adage of, “Don’t go stupid places, with stupid people to do stupid things,” somewhat understand this intuitively.  Again, age and wisdom helps with that.
  3. JUST BECAUSE, “WE,” DON’T SEE THE GUN AS A TALISMAN THAT WARDS OFF EVIL, DOESN’T MEAN THAT THE UNTRAINED DEFENDER HOLDS THE SAME OPINION.  “Hey I’m worried about a kitchen fire…I need a fire extinguisher!”  Or, “I’m worried I might get in a wreck…I’ll wear a seatbelt!”  Or, “I might fall out of my boat, and drown!  I need a lifevest!”  Here’s just three examples where the mere presence of an object, with almost no input or training required (ok, a bit with the fire extinguisher, but the instructions are printed on the bottle) can be all one needs to avert death!  This false sense of equivalency is applied to firearms!  Got some death threats at work?  A GUN WILL KEEP YOU SAFE!  Have to work the overnight shift at the Qwik Stop?  A GUN UNDER THE COUNTER WILL SURELY KEEP YOU SAFE!  While we don’t subscribe to that line of fallacious thinking, most of the world certainly does.  Thus, these misinformed folks find themselves in situations where their ego starts writing checks that their body can’t cash.  And neither can their gun.

One other caveat…John reviews both civilian (or off-duty law enforcement) shootings as well as on-duty/dashcam footage shootings.  I don’t consider the LE on-duty shootings in the same way I do with the strictly civilian shootings, and John doesn’t recommend that you do either, (sure, we can argue semantics and say that LEO’s are civilians…THEY ARE.  But their context is different.  They get into shootings at calls for service, on routine patrol [catching someone in the act] on traffic stops, and at domestic disputes and alcohol related [bar] enforcement).  LEO training is a whole other world of topics, but it is still germane to this conversation, because EVERY LEO gunfight involves one of the key elements that is seen in every civilian gunfight…EVIL.

John described 21 different observations and teaching points that he saw in these 12,000 gunfights.  Each observation had a counter or teaching point.  I won’t review all of them here; take his class or attend his lecture if you want to know them all!  However, in many of the points, the take home for the prepared Civilian Defender was, “NO KIDDING!” and, “THAT GOES WITHOUT SAYING!”  The epiphany I had following the presentation was, don’t pay attention so much to what the good guy’s TTP’s are(tactics, techniques and procedures), whether they work or not…PAY ATTENTION to the common denominator:  EVIL (and the badguys that come with the evil).

The kinds of humanoids that predate on other humans are operating under some guise of evil, and there is a continuum.  And I’d be out of my lane to talk about the psychology of it (but attend Dr. William Aprill’s lecture about it HERE).  The evil that is in these videos presents itself in various forms.  Some idiotic and clumsy, and some calculated, cruel and devastating.  All of it is problematic and should be treated with the same level of intensity by the Civilian Defender or the law enforcement officer, if they are confronted with a deadly force threat.

So, when I look at video footage of anything, I find it far more useful to analyze the tactics of the bad guys.  Aside from reviewing video footage, this technique is also useful for looking at scenarios from the, “pre-video,” days.  Stories like the Newhall Shooting, and looking at the TTP’s of Davis and Twining, or the 1986 FBI shootout with Platt and Mattix.  There isn’t video footage of either of those gunfights, but the reconstructions and eyewitness footage can tell us quite a bit about the TTP’s that they used against the CHP and the FBI, respectively.  And reviewing video footage of the millions of cases of interpersonal violence on the internet teach us the same thing, over and over that gets repeated and repeated, yet never seems to reach the future victims in time!

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Of the 65 students (that Tom knows of…there may be more) that he has taught that have been in armed self-defense confrontations, 62 prevailed, 3 forfeited, and ZERO lost.  The three that forfeited were not armed at the time of their demise.  Nobody is psychic, and Tom certainly isn’t either, so he can’t tell you when and where you’ll need a gun.  If he did, why the hell would you go there?  Instead, treat everyday like it may be, “THE,” day, and prepare accordingly.
  1. BADGUYS travel in packs, so be wary of more than one attacker
  2. MULTIPLE precision rounds, delivered with two hands at eye level to the upper chest region are the best remedy to stopping a deadly threat.
  3. IF YOU CAN GET TWO, “WTF’S,” FROM A BADGUY, THAT IS USUALLY ENOUGH TO PREVAIL.  You accomplish this through movement, and furtive, quick and efficient retrieval and presentation of your firearm.
  4. PERPETUAL SCANNING OF THE, “HORIZON,” (“Who is around me and what are they doing? -Tom Givens) WILL KEEP YOU WELL ABREAST OF ANY THREATS YOU MIGHT ENCOUNTER.  WHEN IN DOUBT, LEAVE!
  5. TRANSITIONAL SPACES ARE DANGEROUS!
  6. YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO HIT ANYTHING YOU CAN SEE WITHIN 3 CAR LENGTHS OF YOU, WITH YOUR SIDEARM, ON DEMAND, RAIN OR SHINE.

So in closing, when you watch videos, WATCH THE BADGUY!  You don’t know if the defender in the video is John Wick, John Belushi OR IF it was amateur night.  But the one thing that stays constant, in ANY recording of interpersonal violence is that there are bad guys (sometimes BOTH parties, but that’s another story) and bad guys tactics, techniques and procedures remain fairly constant.  They remain fairly constant, because they work!  Counter the constants, and you will recognize the pre-assault indicators and the angles of attack.  Then, vicariously, imagine how YOU would solve that particular tactical problem.

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Want to get better at shooting?  Shoot against people that are better than you, and that can push you to your limit.  Oh, then do all that with a bunch of other people watching (and sometime heckling you)!  The other 12 folks in this lineup are PHENOMENAL shooters, but I am just extremely lucky!  I’m honored to be listed here.
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I give you, ladies and gentlemen, part of the Rangemaster-Certified Instructor Cadre.  Good people, all.

Thanks for reading!

-Dr. House

CIVILIAN DEFENDER “IN THE NEWS”

My good friend Dr. William Aprill was recently so kind to mention me, and the CIVILIAN DEFENDER in his section of Massad Ayoob’s most recent book, “Straight Talk on Armed Defense.”

Buy Here! This isn’t an affiliate link…I don’t have those. But if you support a site that does, buy it from them!

William is a good friend but also my co-conspirator, er, I mean co-founder of the Paulepalooza Memorial Training Conference. William is also the most prevalent member of the pragmatic criminal psychology community around. His, “5 W’s Of Risk,” and, “Violent Criminal Actors,” should be required attendance for anyone and everyone who is concerned about self-defense or law enforcement. William is a former LEO, competitive shooter and all around renaissance man. I will be hosting him, and John Murphy, in the Nashville area March 3-4, 2018. In the meantime, check out Mas’ latest book that is literally a virtual who’s-who of modern tactical thinkers, including some of my favorites like John Hearne, Tom Givens, Ron Borsch, Craig Douglas, Marty Hayes, Spencer Blue and of course Massad Ayoob himself! Massad Ayoob was the first Instructor in the tactical world I ever studied, starting WAY BACK in the mid-eighties. I didn’t know that that William gave me a shout out, so imagine my surprise when I found out while just reading away! I lead a charmed life!

Dr. Strangegun or: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the S&W M&P Family

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One of my M&P 9’s this one is from the, “PRO SERIES,” and comes from the factory with an improved trigger pull, as well as a uniquely textured backstrap. This one is equipped with Trijicon HD nights sights (the older BIG dot variation). I have yet to try out the HD XR variants.

If you look at any of the regular gun blog or Youtube channels, you’ll notice the perpetual trend of the, “next best thing,” in carry guns.  This week, it is the Hudson H9…next week, who knows?  Funny thing though, is THAT marketing strategy works!  It’s a psychological ploy that truly fiddles with the casual buyer’s mind, and makes them think that their gun, whichever that might be, is somehow inferior, and upgrading to the, “latest and greatest,” is the right move.  So they pony up the bucks, and get the new gun.  Then they notice that their performance is either equivalent to the prior platform, or their performance takes a dive.  Either way, what’s gained?  Money changes hands, and the smart marketeers get more of your ducketts!

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I’m a fan of the old Gen 3 Smiths. They work! While not the lightest pistols, even in their heyday, nobody can dispute that they were accurate and they ran. And in the PAC NW, they were reasonably rust resistant.

I’ve been lucky enough to largely dodge this phenomena, but merely by coincidence.  I have been a perpetual student for years, and a good portion of the 90’s and 2000’s cost me about $600,000 in tuition for three undergraduate degrees, my DDS and a residency program and that’s not even including my kid’s private school tuition.  UGH.  Thus, I could, “want,” the top hardware all I wanted, but the funds were already allocated to getting to the next semester.  I was also lucky enough to work for outfits that either required a specific sidearm (or a very narrow choice in sidearms G17 or G19) and thus it didn’t make sense for me to use anything else.

My first big foray off of service revolvers into semiautomatic pistols started with the Glock 19.  This was circa 1996, and the Gen 2 guns were the heat.  I got one, had a set of Trijicon 3 dot night sights pressed into it, and I hit the road with it.  Now, mind you this was 1996, and thus, I had 10 round magazines, thanks to Bill Clinton et al.  On the armored truck, I carried four magazines on my belt, one in the gun, for a total of 51 rounds on board, plus a Smith 649 on my ankle, with two speed loaders on my belt for that.  I carried the Corbon 115 grain +P+ 9mm loading, which Ed Sanow and Evan Marshall, and Mas Ayoob had spoken highly of.

After carrying that gun for about a year, both on and off work, someone introduced me to the Heckler & Koch series of pistols, specifically the USP in .45 ACP.  Since I was strictly saddled with 10 round Crime Bill magazines, I figured that the larger .45 ACP bullet would be, “better,” and thus I changed pistols.  The official, “change,” required that I log the make, model and serial number with my employer, and then shoot the state mandated sobriety test, er, I mean, “qualification,” course, which was 30 rounds, on a B27 silhouette from 3 to 25 yards.  Not a difficult course, and graded by the numbers.  I held the, “TOP GUN,” of my branch every year I was employed there (I actually won a number of belt buckles that stated such, but at the time, I wasn’t sentimental, and had no use for a belt buckle of the size that doubled as an umbrella, so I gifted them to my cowboy friends.  In retrospect, I wish I would’ve kept them to give them to my Son.  Alas, I digress).  So I was in the .45 business, and stayed that way until 2004/2005 when the Assault Weapons Ban ended, and I decided to go to the company issued Glock 22 (with 15 round magazines).  The gun worked well with the 180 grain hollow point ammunition (I think it was CCI Speer) but it bobbled with the 165 grain ammunition.  That was less than inspiring, compared to the boring reliability of the USP, and the, “Area 51-like,” accuracy the USP was capable of.  So, after a short stint, I hung up the Glock 22 and went back to the USP and ran it until I left the armored truck industry and went on to the next big adventure, which was dental school.

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I don’t often carry conventional IWB, but when I do, I run a JM Custom Kydex #3, “TOM GIVENS,” style. Fixed loop, and a 25 degree cant makes the gun comfortable, but turns the grip in such a way that it is still very accessible while seated, but not uncomfortable. I have a #3 for K and L frame revolvers too, and they are a delight. If you have a bin full of holsters and can’t find the right IWB for you, give this one a try. The mag carriers are also the excellent fixed loops JMCK OWB model. They carry securely, and close enough to the body that you won’t feel like you’re walking around with an LVAD on your hip.

While in school, I worked as an instructor and medical program director for Tactical Response, which was strictly (at that time) a Glock 19 organization.  That was fine with me, and I ran the Glock 19.  In 2008 I purchased the, “Glock Killer,” known as the Smith & Wesson M&P in 9mm.  This gun was odd, and it was literally absorbed by the community with aplomb.  The guns became ubiquitous in classes and they really caught on.  Sure, there were some lemons that TRULY had accuracy problems, but in the several iterations of that pistol that I had, ran like tops, and had no accuracy issues that weren’t directly attributed to the idiot hanging off the end of the beavertail.  In short, I was pleased with my M&P, and owned a pair of them…one for carry and one for practice/competition.

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How I EDC most days.  A JMCK Wing Claw 2.5 for the M&P, and a Bawidamann Uber horizontal magazine carrier.  I carry this combo under a tight fitting t shirt, almost everyday.  Sometimes, I wear a scrub shirt over it, and it disappears completely.  It is fast, accessible and quite comfortable.

Unlike the Glock with it’s severe grip angle, the M&P hugged the belt line a bit closer, which made the draw slightly different, since I had to pry my hand all of the way under the frontstrap to get a full firing grip.  The gun was very slick in texture, which made it easy to move my hand into position rapidly before executing the draw.  Thus, although the M&P was a bit longer in both nose and butt than the G19, it was just as or if not more concealable.  I also like how easily the magazines came apart for cleaning, especially when they filled up with the Tennessee mud and fine, particulate sand.  I always felt like my OEM Glock magazines became weaker and weaker every time I took them apart!  I don’t know if this is a real worry, or if it just felt that way.  Either way, the M&P mags were easily disassembled and they held two more rounds than the G19 to boot.

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The excellent metal clip holster from DARK STAR GEAR.  This holster is what I use to carry when I don’t have a belt on.  So gym shorts, or sweats.  Whatever you have, this will hold them securely without the embarrassment of skinning your pistol out and finding your form-fitting holster clamped firmly on the end of it.  They also do a fine job of keeping sweat off the gun AND keeping the sights (particularly bad in my experience, with the Trijicon HD sights) of eating the heck out of your skin or undershirt.  I included the LCR in the Ruger variant of the DSG holster for a size comparison…there is none.  Weight aside, who doesn’t want to carry a flatter, easier to shoot pistol that carries more BB’s?

 

After using the M&P in numerous classes to include Tactical Response, Rangemaster and Larry Vickers courses, I put tens of thousands of rounds through the guns, and probably five times that in dry-practice repetitions.  I felt really good about the M&P.  So much so, that I stopped thinking about it completely.  I knew, on a visceral level that there were other guns out there, that probably had better QC, mechanical accuracy and easier detail disassembly, but I didn’t care.  I felt confident in my skills with my pistol and I had amassed a collection of duplicate guns, holsters, magazines, and magazine carriers.  It was safe to say that I was fully invested in the platform.  Sure, carrying in cargo shorts and a t shirt in the summer required a bit baggier t-shirt to pull off, but it was no great feat.

Enter the S&W Shield 9mm.  FINALLY, Smith had done what Glock (remember, the 43 was just a pipe dream back then in 2012) refused to do for years.  Pull off a subcompact 9mm pistol, that was small enough to conceal easily, but just large enough to allow a skilled user to run the gun just like its larger brethren.  The Shield was just similar enough in grip angle, trigger geometry and feel to allow the full size pistol user to transition nearly seamlessly (with the exception of recoil control and front sight tracking…short guns are always snappier) which was cool!  So the niche had been filled, for a small pistol that could be carried when normally a J frame would have to suffice.  I’ve tried to carry my Shield on my ankle, and I have yet to find an ankle holster that works with it (although I have heard good things about the Wilderness Renegade and I just found out that Galco now fits the excellent Ankle Glove for the Shield).  So I still rock my 442 on my ankle.

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My 2.0 full size.  Good to go, right out of the box.  Yes…some paint on the sights is useful, but unlike a Glock, the OEM sights aren’t made of plastic, and some even come with popular brand name night sights.

In 2017, the M&P 2.0 entered the scene, and I bought one of the first ones to arrive in Nashville.  I’ve had nothing but success out of it.  The accuracy issue, that folks have talked about, hasn’t been a problem for me.  The function has been good, and with the exception of a Comptac paddle rig, holster compatability hasn’t been an issue.  I’m very happy with it.

 

 

 

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Accuracy with the M&P 2.0 Compact is good.  This is 5 rounds at dude’s trouser button at 25 yards, with about one round per second.

The biggest question I get asked about M&P’s, and conversely, “WHY DON’T YOU JUST CARRY A GLOCK?” my answer is multifaceted.  First, Glocks cut my hands.  I use a high grip with the web of my hand wedged into the backstrap, as deeply and highly as I can, and after about 20 rounds, the slide reciprocating draws blood.  Not a big deal, but in terms of comfort, it isn’t fun after the 750th round fired in a high volume, two day class.  I also get the, “Glock knuckle,” pretty severely, which I understand can now be ameliorated with modifications or the Generation 5 guns, but I have yet to experience that first hand.  I know that there are beavertail additions that allow the user to keep the slide from eating them up, but I have yet to find one that stays in place with heavy use, AND doesn’t make the pistol grip appreciably thicker.  I have big hands and long fingers, but I don’t wish to make an already NOT thin gun thicker.  As I mentioned earlier, I also don’t like how Glock magazines seem to weaken after repeated disassembly.  So, for as much as I like to/require myself to shoot in practice and training, the M&P family is more conducive to comfort and reliability for me.  Your ideas may vary.

Striker-fired guns seem to be the gun of choice among the cognoscenti, as well as professional gun-handlers.  But don’t let that guide your decision making!  I always tell people, “Carry what works for you!”  The first rule of gunfighting is, “HAVE A GUN!”  And as I’ve talked about in other articles, nearly any gun will do, if you will do!  It really doesn’t matter, that much.  What DOES matter is that you carry a gun that works reliably, and allows you to accurately deliver shots on target, when you need to.  Most modern service and carry pistols are accurate…far more accurate than 99% of their users.  And don’t buy, carry or justify your decisions based on what, “ORGANIZATION X,” carries…if it’s governmental, there may be political pressure involved, or their organization may simply buy guns/issues guns that are complete garbage!  And who knows if the folks carrying those guns in that organization even like them…they may not!  There is a local PD here that requires their officers to carry a variant of the Springfield XD, in .45 ACP.  If you live in that town, don’t rush out and buy an XD because that’s what the cops there carry.  As John Correia from ASP has said, “XD’s are the McRib of carry pistols.”  Don’t invest any ego into your carry pistol.  It’s a machine…they fall apart and break, at some point.  Some, quicker than others.  You’re a civilian…you have a choice in what you use.  Just be smart about it, and make wise decisions like:

  1. Does the gun work?  If it is magazine or ammo related, that happens.  But your gun should be inherently reliable.
  2. Get a number of spare magazines.  I recommend eight (because that’s what my pistol rug carries, but the more the merrier).  Magazines are expendable.  They get beat up, dented, stepped on, and they wear out.  Plan accordingly.
  3. Make sure that your gun, sights and ammo shoot to the point of aim.  That means that your point of aim and point of impact should be the same!  Many folks walk around with a gun that doesn’t shoot to the sights, and that can be a really bad thing.  You want to hit what the gun is pointed at…not 6 inches below what the gun is pointing at.
  4. Your capabilities in MARKSMANSHIP and GUN HANDLING are far more important than your choice in carry guns.  Buy quality, buy once.

To quote my buddy Kirk, “Until they come out with a Star Trek type phaser, I’ll carry a Glock.”  I feel the same way…except I’ll carry an M&P.

Thanks for reading!

Dr. House

 

 

CIVILIAN DEFENDER…WHO? WHERE’D REVOLVERSCIENCE GO?

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Don’t worry…I didn’t pack up and leave revolverscience to die in gutter somewhere.  It’s still here!  After the long drive home from the 2017 20th Anniversary Rangemaster Instructor Conference and Reunion, I had about ten hours to think about where I am currently and where I want to be in the future, in terms of professional development.

I really appreciate all of the faithful readers that subscribe to my feed here (thank you, all 50 of you!) and it was great to meet several of you in person this past weekend at the conference.  In the, “civilian self-defense,” world, I realized that I am known for a few different reasons:

  1. I am a dentist.  Not sure why, but people really like, “their,” dentist to be a gun enthusiast.  Maybe because of the precision involved, or due to the Hollywood gun-slinging dentist persona, people dig it.
  2. I wrote (my most popular essay) BECOMING THE CIVILIAN DEFENDER and then that essay got a TON MORE traction thanks to Tom Givens posting it on his Rangemaster Newsletter.  In the wake of the Antioch Church shooting here, in Nashville, in October 2017, I started teaching a 4 hour course for the layperson called, “CIVILIAN DEFENDER:  HEMORRHAGE ARREST COURSE,” and I needed a logo for my presentation, thus, the logo you see here was born.
  3. Revolvers, although they are making somewhat of an industry comeback right now, are far from, “state of the art,” for civilian (and certainly law enforcement) applications.  So while I think that it is a VERY important skill (revolver operation) for the well prepared Civilian Defender to have, I don’t think it should supplant a modern, self-loading pistol for everyday carry.  YES…I do carry a back up gun on my ankle and it is a revolver, but as soon as I find a semi-automatic pistol that is as reliable, concealable, and tolerates a good deal of exfoliated skin cells, leg hair, smart wool shavings and associated dirt and grime from walking about, a Smith J frame will be my ankle gun, and I will tell you about it.  However, much like my mentor Tom Givens, I firmly believe that if you MUST carry a revolver for self-defense, that you should carry two.  Despite what Herbert behind the gun counter will tell you, revolvers don’t have fewer controls, nor are they easier to shoot, nor are they more accurate, nor are they more reliable, nor do they, “jam less,” than any quality self-loading service or concealed carry pistol.  YES…they are more tolerant of oddly shaped ammunition (like wadcutters) and YES, they are more tolerant of neglect, but they aren’t a panacea.  Thus, it would be disingenuous of me to give the impression that I SOLELY think that revolvers are the answer for civilian self-defense.
  4. I am one of the two co-founders of the PAUL-E-PALOOZA MEMORIAL TRAINING CONFERENCE, in remembrance of the late trainer, Paul Everett Gomez.  Dr. William Aprill and I designed the conference in the days following Paul’s death to raise money to support Paul’s three children.  We wanted to have a conference similar in format to Tom Givens’ Rangemaster Tactical Conference, but, like Paul, allow the instructors to teach the WEIRD skills, tactics, concepts or ideas that might not get covered in their regular curriculum, OR, go into further detail than their regular curriculum permits.  Thus, just completing its fourth iteration this past August, “PEP,” as it is known in the community, has turned into an interesting, thought provoking, welcoming and very fun event.  I present something odd at every conference, and the masthead always reads, “DR SHERMAN HOUSE/THE PEOPLE’S DENTIST/REVOLVERSCIENCE,” which seems to cumbersome and odd, and thus the simple, “CIVILIAN DEFENDER,” as a website, concept, and url is far simpler.  Correspondance stock (and Speedo) too.
  5. I am one of the few people in the industry with relevent experience gleaned from my pre-graduation days as a Shotgun Messenger on an armored truck.  If you’ve read any of my essays here at all, you’ve noticed that I’ve earned a few lessons from my time there.  It’s not a prestigious job, and there are many turds that work in the industry, like just about every other industry (including medicine and dentistry) but if you have a dollar bill in your pocket, thank an armored truck guy or gal for getting it to that bank, store or casino.  So, like the regular civilian CCW person, the armored truck crew is ALSO just trying to go about their daily life, the chief difference being that ONE: the armored truck crew has cash, precious metals, jewels or valuables that nearly everyone wants, TWO:  the armored truck crew travels about in an eponymous armored truck that has their contents, mission and contact info graphically described on the side of the vehicle.  There is no way to be a, “gray man,” in that job.  Thus, teaching or talking about the counter-ambush aspects of that particular job, and how they relate to the armed civilian are far more applicable under the idea of the CIVILIAN DEFENDER than they do for REVOLVER SCIENCE.
  6. I always thought the name, “REVOLVER SCIENCE,” was cool, and presented a neat idea.  However, many people in the industry have said to me, “I don’t read your page because I don’t like revolvers.”  Then I would say, “There’s more than just revolvers there!”  To which they’d reply, “I don’t care.  I don’t like revolvers.”  At first I thought that this was simply a sentinel event, but it wasn’t!  I hear it frequently!
  7. Dr. William Aprill was kind enough to mention me and my term, “CIVILIAN DEFENDER,” in his section of Massad Ayoob’s, “STRAIGHT TALK ON ARMED DEFENSE,” and thus, it has gained traction, and needs a, “home base.”
  8. I DON’T SOCIAL MEDIA!  Social media isn’t social…I much prefer to meet and interact with people the old fashioned way:  in person at classes and conferences, on the phone, or via email etc.  I think when we are talking about matters of self-defense, freedom of speech and the right to keep and bear arms, ALONG WITH the entirety of the Bill of Rights must be respected and adhered to.  Until there is a, “social media,” platform that allows unimpeded rights to the consumer, I won’t be on it.  So, welcome to the, “back corner,” of the exhibit hall.  This is the most punk-rock solution I have at the moment, and it works for me.  All the cool kids are here, and you should be too.

So, hopefully that explains the changes.  This will also let me post more content, since I don’t have to spin a revolver twist into it (which I don’t always do, but I do try and preach to my entire audience, not just the choir).

Thanks for hanging around.  Please subscribe, encourage your friends to subscribe, and share my work on social media if you like it.  If you have reader questions you’d like to submit, leave me a comment or hit me up at drhouse@civiliandefender.com

Thank You,

Dr. House

NASHVILLE/MIDDLE TENNESSEE TRAINING OPPORTUNITY WITH DR. WILLIAM APRILL AND JOHN MURPHY…”THE EFFECTIVE ARMED CITIZEN”

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March is the PERFECT time to train in TENNESSEE!  Not freezing, and not ridiculously/painfully humid either!  I’ve trained with both William and John in the past and their fast-paced, multidisciplinary format is great for high-yield/short attention span learners (like me!).  So come train with us, and get your learn on!

REGISTER HERE:  https://www.fpftraining.com/products/the-effective-armed-citizen-nashville-tn

Regards,

Dr. House

Be THE Weirdo…

PAULEPALOOZA 4, AUGUST 2017.  I do my best to train others or facilitate training opportunities, as frequently as possible.  If you can teach a person JUST ONE life-saving skill that they use, either personally or teach to someone else, your efforts can have FAR reaching effects.

LONESTAR MEDICS Remote, Austere and Tactical Medical Conference.  You are FAR MORE likely to need medical skills in an emergency than you are to need GUN skills/self-defense skills.  It’s just a matter of simple statistics.  If you spend anytime behind the wheel of a car, you’re bound to happen upon a motor vehicle collision.  Depending on the distance the emergency responders have to travel to get to the scene, YOU ARE THE FIRST RESPONDER.  Remember, like the Great John Farnam says, “When it’s least expected, YOU’RE ELECTED!”  So get out there and get some medical skills under your belt, and once you have them, refresh, renew, and review them at least annually.

What I was actually carrying as my primary sidearm in the first paragraph I reference in this essay.  A Smith 681 in .357.

What I WISH I would’ve been carrying in the first paragraph I referenced in the essay, but couldn’t afford at the time!  But I have one now!  (Smith Model 19…Bill Jordan approved).

About 20-something years ago, I was working as an armored truck guard.  I remember showing up on my first day of work at the armored truck company, complete with body armor, multiple speed loaders, back-up ankle-gun, and black ripstop BDU pants and steel toe combat boots.  In addition to being the youngest employee at my branch, I was also apparently the strangest.  The looks I got on the first day from the veterans, were not welcoming.  I had no pressed slacks, nor Chukka boots or Oxfords, nor six round cartridge slide.  No, I was there dressed for, what I thought,  work.  Armored truck work differs from conventional security work in many ways, chief among them the requirement to actually DO WORK.  Meaning, money (cash and coin) is heavy, and thus moving it from POINT A to POINT B requires brute strength, and sweat.  Thus, dressing like an armed mailman seemed silly to me.  Aside from the completely benign appearance, that, “pressed,” look didn’t seem extraordinarily ergonomic, nor easily maneuverable amongst the various lifting and loading tasks required of an armored truck crewman.  Thus, I was termed, “unique.”

My, “uniqueness,” ended one afternoon following the disarmament and subsequent robbery of a fellow employee.  Although my coworker was physically large, played college football, and generally kept his head on a swivel (if for nothing else than gawking at women) he got ambushed that day, and relieved of his weapon.  The robber didn’t know how to actuate the safety devices/retention devices on the guard’s Uncle Mike’s PRO3 duty holster, and thus he made the guard give him his sidearm, with the robber’s own pistol thrust smartly into the guard’s head.  When the distress/robbery in progress call came out on the radio, we all went into CONDITION ORANGE, and listened intently to the radio traffic exchanges.  The guard was lucky to get out of that nightmare alive…

When I returned to the truck base the afternoon of the robbery, everyone asked me where I purchased my security holster, my body armor and external carrier, the steel plates it carried, the spare magazine carriers, the ankle gun and rig, the medical kit (albeit crude) and the various other support/street survival equipment I carried everyday.  I was no longer the pariah…I was the weirdo who was ready.

Fast forward a number of years to when I was in dental school.  A number of students in my school had been carjacked and relieved of their vehicles.  A frightening number, in fact.  Of my class of 65 students, FIVE were forcibly removed from their vehicles and left shaking and afraid on the side of the road.  In my 4th year, a carjacker unsuccessfully attempted to carjack ME, and was promptly sent running in the opposite direction.  I had spent a fair amount of training and effort on vehicular ambush techniques, over a couple decades, beginning with my experience as a law enforcement student at the community college, through my armored truck experience, and honed it into a reliable skillset that allowed me to recognize a probable threat early on, prepare mentally and physically for the interaction, and then counter the robbery with a preemptive surprise response.  Of course, spending free time at the range running skill drills from a chair or a vehicle, and pre-planning tactics in my head made me strange to the casual observer…who does these kinds of things?

Weirdos do these kinds of things.  At the base of it all, lies the MENTAL AWARENESS AND MENTAL PREPAREDNESS that Mas Ayoob talked about WAY back in the late 70’s and early 80’s, that survival minded individuals employ to give them the competitive edge against any existential threat that they come up against.  You see, to the layperson, the WEIRDO looks like a fighting ant, with their bristled visage, guns, knives, medical kits, 4×4 truck and bail-out bag.  To the uninitiated, the WEIRDO looks like a gadgeted freak, and thus the tactical accessories of the WEIRDO seem like talismans that have the ability to ward off evil-doers, and help the wearer steer clear of environmental pitfalls.  This couldn’t be farther from the truth though.  The WEIRDO has simply undertaken the task of preparing their hands for the unexpected; the mind is already so equipped.  So when disaster strikes, and action is needed, they are ready.  For the weirdo, the acceptance of the, “NOT IF…WHEN?” eventuality is already completed.  One of my email taglines used to read, “IF YOU PREPARE FOR THE EMERGENCY, THE EMERGENCY CEASES TO EXIST!”  The weirdo doesn’t like emergencies, but they know that they occur and thus they find the study and preparation for countering emergencies, useful.  And lately, in our current times, emergencies seem to occur more frequently than in the past.  So, be a WEIRDO.  Encourage others to become WEIRDOS.  And maybe, someday, we can live in a world where the WEIRDOS aren’t in the tiny minority, and even seem (dare I say) NORMAL.

 

 

GENTLEMEN, START YOUR ENGINES!

When I hear or read the word, “gentleman,” what I immediately think of is some Englishmen, with a handlebar mustache, a suit made from fine cloth, with a bowler hat, and perhaps a pipe.  Kind of a cross between Bat Masterson and the fictional detective’s sidekick, Dr. John Watson.  What I do not think of are the various rapists, robbers, home invaders, serial killers, active killers, jihadists, gang members, car jackers or other miscreants.  However, various news sources ROUTINELY refer to the aforementioned turds as such.  This politically correct and possibly, hyperbolic, “sarcasm-speak,” has trickled down into the self-defense industry, and I’m really tired of it!  If you possess the capability for sentient thought, you should be tired of it too.

The late Colonel Jeff Cooper referred to collective pack of miscreants as, “goblins,” (for all of you Lord of the Rings fans) which I like.  Also, the late Louis Awerbuck (of which I was, and am still a big fan, see HERE) called these wrongdoers, “cookie monster,” as in (insert South African accent), “There you are minding your own business walking to your car when the Cookie Monster pops up from behind a parked station wagon, gun in hand.”  I think that BOTH of these word choices are far superior to saying something that is quite antithetical to what we are trying to describe.  “Gentlemen,” surely these hoodlums are not.

When I treat my patients, I routinely tell them what I want them to do.  It is a physiological/psychological shortcut that actually works for me pretty well (I jokingly call it the, “Jedi Mind Trick”).  For example, I tell them, “You will feel me push on your cheek and then you’ll feel pressure in your jaw.”  What I don’t tell them is, “You will feel a puncture as I plunge this 27 gauge needle into your jaw, pass it through several sheets of muscle, knock it into the bone and then deliver 1.7 milliliters of anesthetic liquid into your tissues.  That anesthetic is not isotonic to those local tissues, and it will burn tremendously, but gut through it, as it will only last thirty seconds or so!”  By simply giving a relaxed person a simple verbal suggestion, I can shape what they experience.

In firearms training, as instructors we must also be cautious about what we say when we coach our students.  If I tell a student to, “Press the trigger, just like you’re pressing a button,” they will.  In their mind, they can visualize using their index finger to simply press a button.  It is an operation that each of us thoughtlessly execute hundreds, if not thousands of times a day.  So instructing a student to, PRESS the trigger delivers the desired result; a straight, continuous press to the limit of travel.  But if we tell the same student, “SQUEEZE that trigger,” the first thing that they see in their mind’s eye is SQUEEZING a lemon, or SQUEEZING a hand in a firm handshake.  They compress their entire hand, not just their index finger, and the shot they fire ends up going critically low, sometimes not even striking the target, even at close range.  That’s bad instruction, and bad advice.  Thus, SAYING the correct word with appropriate phrasing, is vital to communicate what we are trying to convey.

When you, or I, or the trainer you follow, or the news reporter you watch calls some law-breaking creep a, “gentleman,” they are accidentally and perhaps even involuntarily referring to the worst kind of person there is, in, “human,” terms.  Perhaps it is a psychological coping mechanism to deal with the totality of their actions, I don’t know, I’m not a psychologist.  I call these packs of losers, “Bad Guys.”  I don’t have any issue with doing that.  Someone is molesting a child?  They ARE a bad guy.  Someone is robbing a bank?  They ARE a bad guy.  Someone is randomly shooting innocent people in a mall?  They ARE a bad guy.  I would have no qualms about appearing in front of a judge and telling them that I was attacked by a bad guy…I was NOT attacked by a gentleman.  And neither were you, and neither were they.  So call them what they are.  BAD GUY is objective; it tells you exactly and in plain terms what you NEED to know about that person in question.  There are no active killers that AREN’T BAD GUYS.  And there aren’t any active killers that ARE gentlemen.

Go back through this essay.  I used every synonym for, “hoodlum,” I could think of.  I’m sure you can think of a few more.  Then, next time you hear the local news, a police officer, district attorney or whoever refer to human excrement as a, “gentleman,” correct them and remind them that the person to whom they are referring is MOST CERTAINLY NOT a gentleman.  WORDS MEAN SOMETHING, they aren’t there just a temporal space filler or to generate online, “content.”  So say what you mean, and mean what you say.

DEEDS NOT WORDS

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