Don’t let the idea that you’re too old to start training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. I was 44 when I started, and I train with people who have started even older than that. Many people give the excuse of, “I’ll start when I get a little stronger,” or, “I’ll start training once I lose a little bit of weight,” but both of those things just prolong progress! Have no fear, visit an academy for a trial class, and fall in love with your new favorite hobby! For this class we trained outside in the sun, and it was 78 degrees and a little breezy. Beautiful day! I’m peeling now so I wish I would’ve worn a bandana to protect my scalp. But practicing outdoors was new to me, felt very Brazilian, and was a blast!

I had the pleasure of attending the Rangemaster Tactical Conference this past weekend in Dallas, TX. The conference consists of dozens of different areas of topical study, all related to the finer aspects of both personal responsibility and self-protection by thought leaders in their respective fields. I spent a portion of the three day conference training with the, “Shivworks Collective,” which is comprised of a group of professional martial artists and multi-disciplinary practitioners who specialize in both the armed and unarmed projection of force in the 0-5 foot range. I highly recommend this type of training for anyone, but especially for the CIVILIAN DEFENDER who also has an interest or trains in any type of grappling.

Professor Cecil Burch of Immediate Action Combatives taught a stand-alone seminar on the last day of the conference that was geared towards welcoming new students to the art, and also rethinking basic concepts to other BJJ practitioners of all levels. After all, as it is so often stated, there is no advanced anything…it’s just a mastery of the basics. Professor Cecil talked about the importance of knowing the lineage of the Professor or Head Coach at the Academy you choose to train at. Cecil traces his lineage as follows…Wellington “Megaton” Dias, Royler Gracie, Helio Gracie, Carlos Gracie and Mitsuyo Maeda.

We set up mats in one of the flat, grassy areas of the range where no live-fire events were taking place, and we also used the grass to drill on. Professor Cecil took us through a truncated version of a normal training session with him, beginning with BJJ specific warm up drills. As anyone who has trained BJJ for almost any length of time knows, the difference between great BJJ and just, “going through the motions,” is largely a function of hip activity. That is, having both proprioception (knowing where your hips are located, in space, at any point in time) and also having enough flexibility and mobility in your hips to effectively move. The difference between, “just ok,” and, “great,” isn’t much, but small adjustments cause a tremendously beneficial downstream effect! Two of the movements we worked on the most were based on the hip bridge and the hip escape (or shrimp). These basic movements are at the heart of many of the fundamental escapes in jiujitsu, as well as being foundational for so many of the attacks. To the uninitiated, this at first seems like a tremendously exhaustive and impossible series of exercises to attempt, but trust the process and understand that after a period of a week or two, your core muscles will adapt to the movement and it will become far less uncomfortable and fatiguing! Since the course was of limited duration (immediately before the lunch break) we weren’t able to get to the live-rolling portion, also known as, “sparring.”

But, before the class adjourned, Professor Cecil, (with Shivworks Collective member and BJJ Blackbelt Larry Lindenman as his co-instructor and Shivworks Host, Alum and BJJ Blackbelt Guy Schnitzler) we covered two techniques that are relatively straightforward to learn, but still have applicability to any level practitioner. The first was a closed-guard attack called the, “Kimura,” which is a double wrist lock type of submission that, if the opponent doesn’t tap-out to, will result in a heavily damaged shoulder! The other technique is a closed-guard pass that Professor Cecil calls, “Meg’s Pass,” after his Professor Megaton Dias. In my home academy (Artista BJJ in Nashville TN under Professor Felix Garcia) most people call this same technique the, “Log Splitter Pass,” It is a particularly effective and not-fun (for the person getting passed) because of the amount of pressure involved, but since I am a larger, older, not-nearly-as-fit-as-I-once-was practitioner, it works great for my slow-paced game and I’m looking forward to putting it into regular use. I normally stand up to break the closed guard and then try and drop into a knee-slide pass, Torreondo or double under pass, but this method is safer, minimizes space and maintains the attachment of me to my opponent. So less scrambling and smoother transitions to other positions.

If you read this, and you have some BJJ or grappling experience, you understand the terminology and general direction of what I am describing. If you are new to BJJ or grappling and want to know more, you should seek out Professor Cecil and train with him. He teaches at his home academy in Arizona and also around the country at various locations. He is very approachable and dispenses with much of the boorish behavior that tends to sour people new to BJJ. He answers questions, demonstrates hypotheticals and does a fantastic job of explaining concepts to people who literally have no experience outside this class! Learning two hours of Brazilian jiu-jitsu is hardly a compendium of study, but that isn’t the purpose of this seminar; the purpose of the seminar is to expose new people to BJJ and also give BJJ students of any experience level, a focus on the basic movements that will help them refine their own practice. And since you read to the end of the article, Professor Cecil also gave us the secret to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and that is, “SHOW UP!” It is that (deceptively) simple! Only a concentrated effort over a long period of time will net measurable results! And even though the road is fraught with bumps, bruises, minor injuries, sweat and maybe a couple of tears, the pay-off is worth it and the difference it makes in your demeanor, confidence, physical conditioning and self-defense capabilities is tremendous! As Professor Cecil put it, he has spent decades working on his brand of, “Sloth JiuJitsu,” so do not be put off by any physical shortcomings you may feel you have…he can help anyone improve. Seek him out for training, find a local BJJ academy and get to work! And tell Professor Cecil that the Doctor sent you!

Professor Cecil is an admitted Brazilian JiuJitsu evangelist, and he does a phenomenal job of introducing the uninitiated to the wonders of his life’s vocation. Although I’m new to BJJ (14 months experience) I find myself spending most of my free time either reading about BJJ, watching videos about BJJ or practicing BJJ either at my Academy or at our home. It becomes an obsession, but a very healthy one at that. I tend to make better choices when it comes to how I eat, behave and train to maximize my capabilities when I’m in the academy. And as a both a past philosophy major and a continuing student of philosophy, there is no shortage of material about the the philosophical warrior underpinnings of BJJ, along with the stoic ideals of undergoing rigorous physical education and continuing despite great opposition. It is addictive, and the path to eternal self-improvement never ends! I’m looking forward to training with Professor Cecil more and also getting more experience in the SHIVWORKS methodology of armed and unarmed combat!

The 21st Century J-Frame

It’s probably not what you think…years ago I wrote a piece about the Glock 19 and how it had become, for good or ill, the 21st Century K Frame. You can read that essay here.

The Ruger LCR, (which I’ve been using for years and have written about here and here) truly does everything the J frame can do, but with a few distinct advantages. First, no safety lock to contend with. There’s been anecdotal reports of the lock failing on S&W revolvers of recent manufacture, and although I’ve never seen it myself, my mentor Tom Givens has and it completely immobilized the gun until the lock could be turned off. Next, is cost. LCR’s are less expensive and even in the odd political climate, they’re still quite inexpensive.

I’m a fan of the high-tech Cyberpunk esthetic of the LCR series, but the grips have never really done much for me. While I really like the function of the Hogue Tamer grips on the range, in actual use as a concealment piece, they impede the draw when carried on the ankle because the rubber grabs the pant leg. And when carried AIWB or under a light shirt in an OWB, they grab material as well. So while I dig the ergonomic shape, I wish HOGUE would make an EXACT copy of the rubber Tamer but make it out of Goncalo Alves and checker it. I know this is possible because some other makers have done it. And I know they make a G10 version but it is HUGE. Putting giant stocks on a carry revolver might be awesome for some people, but I’ve never understood the point…just get a bigger gun. Also…the aluminum and polymer frame of the LCR coupled with wood grips makes for an interesting recoil impulse. Not awful, just different. It would be even more wild with the magnum variants, I’m sure.
The LCR is capable of great accuracy, even with more-than-mild loadings. I wouldn’t hesitate to use an LCR in any capacity I might need a subcompact, personal defense weapon.

But even though the LCR is a capable weapon, and would really work in well for personal defense missions, the technology has changed and there are new technological innovations in even just the past few years that bring new capabilities to the CIVILIAN DEFENDER in need of a personal defense weapon for concealed carry. Enter the…

SIG P365. Thought by many to be the pinnacle of self-defense weapons, the relatively new technology has many great features. Most notably is the size which despite it being smaller than even a Smith Shield, it carries more rounds (standard capacity magazine holds 10 rounds) and it also has great ergonomics that allow it to actually be shootable. Add to that a weird, but usable trigger and great sights, and you have an interesting entry into the practical carry gun realm.

Like most new guns, there were some teething issues. I didn’t jump on the P365 train initially. I test-fired one at my annual police department qualification in 2018, and had no issues running through a steel plate confidence course. The recoil impulse was quite pleasant, despite the gun’s diminutive size. It shot to the sights and was as, “easy,” to shoot as a full size duty pistol.

Reports from my friends having issues with their P365’s gave me pause. I didn’t want to commit to a platform that had so many issues. Some people had problems with accuracy, primer deformation from the striker impact/metallurgy issues. And others complained of the sights not staying put. All things that I hope worked out over time. It’s probably useful to note here that I pay little attention to what the gun media promotes as, “absolute reliability,” because a 50-200 round range session, most often on a climate controlled range, with high quality performance ammo isn’t a very good barometer for using a gun under real-world conditions. I want to see how guns work in actual use…students bring them to class dirty, sweaty, and improperly lubricated. They load them with crap ammo or poor quality remanufactured ammo. THOSE are the conditions I want to hear about. Because many of the guns we think about as being the, “benchmark,” guns WILL PERFORM QUITE ADMIRABLY under these same conditions. Glocks, Smith & Wesson M&P series, as well as some CZ’s, HK’s and other reputable pistols.

I waited until May of 2019 to purchase the P365, and I found the NRA Special Edition sitting lonely on one of the LGS’ shelves, NIB. I handled and function checked it, then slid my driver’s license to the salesman to begin the purchase. The little pistol has repeatedly performed with aplomb, through 1000 rounds of (pre-pandemic) American Eagle 115 FMJ and 200 rounds of SuperVel all-copper hollow points. The little gun shoots right to the sights, and works as well in my big hands as it does in the medium-larged sized hands of our 15 year old.

Range day. Early quarantine, my Son and I went to a place where hungry wildcats had been spotted milling around, so I brought something more substantial in the event we stumbled across one we shouldn’t have. Luckily, we didn’t see any! I bring a full bore medical kit anytime I go to the range especially in remote areas like this place.
The J frame and the SIG P365 are similar in size and role. And there the similarities end…for a deep concealment appendix carry, ankle rig or ballistic vest BUG, the P365 is hard to beat.
23 ounces (loaded with 11 rounds) the P365 is only 6.5 ounces heavier than a Smith M38 loaded with 5 rounds.
The OEM sights from SIG are very bright, with a tritium vials front and rear. The front vial is surrounded by a large luminescent green halo that makes picking it up at speed easy even for aging eyes. A PRO TIP I picked up from the LEGENDARY LAWMAN MARSHAL CHUCK HAGGARD is to color in the rear lamps with a red Sharpie, which cuts down on the distraction of the rear dots in daytime and lowlight conditions. The dots are still barely visible in no-light, so that the pistol on the nightstand is still visible if you know roughly where you left it (next to your flashlight, hopefully). The factory texturing gives good purchase without unnecessarily eating large holes in clothing or cover garments, and even with the light weight of the P365, it doesn’t abrade the hands like many mini-9’s tend to do, especially with hot ammo.
The DARKSTAR GEAR HITCHHIKER is the primary way I carry this pistol. DSG’s owner Tom, is a multi-disciplinary practitioner, and understands intimately the attributes a concealment holsters needs but also how to optimize the in-fight weapons accessibility qualities of a true carry holster. This rig does both, allowing the user to customize both the level of retention with grommets and set screws, but also the height at which the pistol is carried in relation to the belt line. There is a provision within the design of the spring loaded clip that allows for carry with good stability and retention of the holster on belles pants and shorts (like gi pants, yoga leggings and athletic shorts). This makes the rig great as a, “grab and go,” rig to head to the corner stop and rob, or the mailroom in your building. Tom makes this rig long enough to carry the shorty P365 or its weird sibling, the 365XL. Fear not though shorty P365 users…the extra length of the holster really helps with ballast to keep the short gun from, “flopping,” over the belt. This is one area where the AIWB revolver wins over the self-loading pistol. The weight of the pistol is in the grip, so the design of a proper holster necessitates being able to balance that grip. The bulk of a revolver’s weight is midship, in the cylinder, and thus directly under the belt of the wearer, so a shorter holster for a revolver actually balances in that position without issue. So don’t hate on the extra length of the rig. It is undetectable while wearing.
The ten round, standard capacity magazine. A marvel of firearms engineering. I remember back in the day thinking that a ten-round Smith 6904 magazine was small…this is even smaller.

So there you have it…several of the features that I feel are worthwhile about the SIG P365, and why it has supplanted the J frame that has been a regular feature in my carry arsenal since the 1990’s. The real majesty of this pistol is the magazine. The SIG P365XL is slightly larger, but can carry an impressive 15 rounds using an extended magazine, that still doesn’t look or feel unwieldy. This continued reduction in overall size envelope of carry pistols used in the PDW role, begs the question, will, “full size,” 9mm carry pistols that also hold approximately 15 rounds become superfluous? Just like the N frame revolver gave way to the more compact and lighter/shorter K (and later L) frame revolvers, with no discerbal loss in real performance/capacity, will, “reduced design,” carry pistols become the norm for all except for uniform carry? Time will tell, but it’s an interesting trend.

With a list of real-world users like the SHIVWORKS Collective, and who I believe is the most innovative firearms designer of our generation (Chris G. Barrett of BARRETT FIREARMS MANUFACTURING) adopting the SIG P365 for hard use, anyone who has a need for a full-caliber concealment piece should consider the SIG P365. A, “RULE ONE,” gun (that is, a gun that allows the user to not violate RULE ONE OF A GUNFIGHT…”have a gun”) in the past used to be a J frame at best, and maybe a Ruger LCP .380, Keltec P32 or NAA .22 Magnum Mini-Revolver at the other end of the spectrum, but the P365 opens the performance gate to a class of weapons previously not usable in that same size. Although it had some growing pains at first, the P365 will probably go down in history as the concealment piece that changed the game.

THANKS FOR READING! FTC Disclosure- I have no financial interest in any of the companies mentioned and I am not receiving any compensation for this article.

Feedback on the HAC 8 Hour Course

It is always useful to me to hear how my students perform in real-world scenarios. Here is an email from a recent student.

“I am thankful for the little bit of first aid/trauma training I have. It might not have helped that fella much, but it sure helped me and my peace of mind today, and it was there for him if he had needed it.
A close friend, Scott Ferguson, admonished me multiple times about my lack of training, and how I needed to remedy it. I agreed, and he got me in touch with The Complete Combatant (Brian, and Shelley Luehder Hill). They were offering a trauma class by Dr Sherman House. This was one of the best 8 hour blocks of time I’ve ever spent on myself and my family. I can’t possibly recommend this highly enough! Dr House is unreal! I learned enough in the first hour to make the whole trip worthwhile, and I still had 7 more hours of training to go, that flew by.
Today, my family and I were eating out of town when a lady came in yelling about a man who fell and was in bad shape. I went and helped her. Long story short…70+ year old male approximately 250#, is bleeding worse than anything I’ve ever seen that didn’t have holes in it, and I’ve been present for motorcycle accidents at highways speeds with no gear. This guy was really banged up, but lucid. The car next to him looked like it had hit an animal, just from him using it to try and get up. The lady had been a nurse, and we worked together. We got him settled and sitting, checked him over for major issues, called 911 and his family, and then kept him stable until EMS arrived. This gentleman was so calm and so nice, and he was in such pain. He had huge hematomas (from mid triceps to mid forearm) and lacerations on his elbows and knees and both hands (entire backs of his hands were blood filled balloons), an obviously busted knee, and a pretty substantial hematoma on his least 8″ in diameter. Now that the action has passed, I feel terrible for him. He has quite a few painful days ahead of him.
EMS arrived and took care of him. I paid my bill and left.Looking back, I have a few observations that I would like to pass along to my friends….many of whom realize they should take a class and just haven’t yet made it a priority:
1) NOBODY moves in an emergency. People wait for other people to move. They look around to see who will be the helper. Meanwhile, a problem is occurring and nobody is helping. I hate to sound like a plug for something, but the Image Based Decision Drills can help you start programming a reaction to those stimuli. Whether it’s just a surprise, an attack, or an emergency, mental mapping by using visualization, and forcing yourself through the reaction, will prepare you better for a problem, with or without an established program like the one I mentioned above.
2) I am so happy and so thankful that I have had at least a little training, and that I brought it home to my family. The instant I hit the door, I saw the gentleman and the very first thing that went through my head was the 5B’s protocol from Dr. House. I didn’t have to think or decision tree anything…it was laid out for me because of his class.I mentally checked off the B’s and I knew where to start and how to move forward. My son, Logan, was next to me. My IFAk was 50′ away (more on that in a sec). I could stay busy and send Logan for the IFAK if needed ……”Get the red medic bag from under the back seat, and hand me gloves and a TQ,” and he could have done every bit of it. We have practiced at home.
3) An IFAK is awesome, but if it’s 50′ away because it has just a couple things that make it too big to keep in a pocket… isn’t there when you need it. So I’m adding a pocket kit with just two gloves, an approved TQ, and compressed gauze.
At the end of the day, maybe a little about that situation was better for the gentleman because I was there or maybe it wasn’t, but at least I was in a much better place to help, or to at least not hurt than everyone else who sat still. I didn’t drive home, beating myself up because I didn’t know what to do,or because all I could do was stand around wanting to help. I learned a couple of tweaks to my plans in the event of an emergency. I learned some tweaks for gear. I sure hope Mr. Jack is okay tonight.I am online looking for my next trauma class right now. I hope all of you will do the same, it might be one of your family that needs help.”


UPCOMING TRAINING OPPORTUNITY! James Yeager and Tactical Response will be hosting me for a virtual training opportunity this coming Saturday, April 18th. This day-long webinar program will consist of three modules, covering the assessment and treatment algorithm of trauma, management of dental emergencies, and wound care and closure. Please, like, share and enroll!


HOW I QUIT DRUGS…(heart drugs, more apropos)

STRAIGHT EDGE means, “drug free.”

I WRITE THIS ON THE EVE OF MY 45TH BIRTHDAY…approximately 7 years ago, I experienced a life-changing event.  I had caught a wicked strain of the flu.  I felt awful…I was weak.  I figured like most flu cases, it would just pass with time, hydration and rest.  I left work early that day after extracting several teeth and performing a root canal therapy procedure.  I ate lunch, then went to bed.  I slept for 12 hours.  I went with my Son and his school (along with my medical kit) to the Schermerhorn Symphony in Nashville for a field trip.  I walked up five flights of stairs, effortlessly.  After the field trip, I took my Son shopping and went home.

Two driver’s license photos, taken 5 years apart.  The top, two months before I started working out and eating smartly, and the bottom, taken today.  My weight hasn’t changed significantly (20 pounds), but my body composition has.  I have lost pounds of fat and increased my lean mass by 10 pounds, even on the beta blocker drug (which largely prevents muscle formation).

I awoke the next day to find that my flu symptoms had worsened.  I felt like I couldn’t get in gear.  I was sweaty and felt chills.  When I sat down and leaned forward, I could feel the apex of my heart impacting the backside of my sternum.  I sat there on the steps of our home, and thought through ALL of my medical training, from EMT through my Doctorate, and I couldn’t surmise what was happening to me.  My heart rate was fast and irregular.  I didn’t feel right.  I concluded that the best thing to do was to get to the closest ER to me.

I drove to the hospital.  By the time I got there, I needed help from my Son to walk across the ER parking lot.  I walked and told the Triage Nurse, “HI.  I’m Dr. Sherman A. House, and I need you to code me please.”  She could tell that I was serious, and she promptly scooped me up with a wheelchair, and rushed me to the back.  Years of experience of working in the ER as a member of the team doesn’t prepare you for the role reversal of becoming an emergency patient.  I was instantly annoyed.  Not scared though…just disappointed.  The ER physician told me that I was in atrial fibrillation with an atrial rate in the high 300’s and that they would need to sedate me to perform what I know to be a SYNCHRONIZED CARDIOVERSION would take place.  The team would use a defibrillator to deliver a 200 joule shock to my heart to, “reset,” the misfiring fibres and cells that were causing this arrhythmia.  Moments later, I was given drugs that limited my perception and ability to do anything.  I awoke a few minutes later to find both my cardiologist and an ultrasound technologist in my darkened room.  James Yeager had also arrived to help me tie up loose ends.  The cardiologist told me that in addition to being in atrial fibrillation, I also had a blood clot about the size of a sugar cube that was spinning around inside of my left atria, and that my left ventricle wasn’t working.  Also, I had severely diminished lung function from the backup of fluid that had filled all lobes of my lungs, and my kidneys were not working as effectively from the overwork.  He told me that if my condition didn’t improve, I wouldn’t be expected to survive without a miracle.  I looked at James Yeager and said, “WELL SHIT…”

Later that afternoon, they moved me from the ER to the cardiac ICU.  One of the nurses came in with a Foley catheter kit (a tube which is placed through the penis into the bladder to allow urine to effortlessly escape without having to got to a bathroom to void) and I told her GET AWAY FROM ME WITH THAT.  She told me that she’d seen them all before and there was nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed of.  I told her that the last thing I wanted/needed was ANOTHER infection in my body (catheters in hospitals cause infections all the time…google, “nosocomial infection,” for more info) and that I would walk to the restroom when I needed to, thank you very much!  She then told me that the Doctor had ordered diuretics for me to get in large doses, to help eliminate the excess fluid that had collected in my lungs.  I told her that was quite fine, and as long as I could walk, I wasn’t going to die.  She reluctantly agreed and let me be…and as the days rolled on, and my walks around the room and the ICU increased in frequency and duration, I eventually recovered enough to go home.

The next three years consisted of innumerable trips to a team of cardiologists, daily regimens of six, twice daily medications, and several emergency room visits and hospital stays when my heart would get out of rhythm.  In November of 2015, after another emergency cardioversion visit (I had five cardioversion therapies in total) my electrophysiologist told me that he would continue to do this as needed, but there would probably be a time when it would no longer be effective, and the arrhythmia would no longer respond to the electrical shock.  He recommended a procedure called ABLATION, where he would use both cryotherapy and rF radiation to burn the aberrant Purkinje Fibres that were responsible for my lingering issues (at that point, the cardiomyopathy had resolved and was still being followed).  I didn’t want to end up in the hospital every six months, so I did it.

I stepped up my fitness and diet game.  I followed my doctor’s order to the letter.  Every six month follow up resulted in my medication dosages being reduced.  I walked everywhere I could.  I walked in the mall and around my office on my lunch breaks.  I did everything possible to walk as far as possible and I would train at various HIIT gyms around our home.  Each follow up appointment showed continued improvement…up until today.  Today, was my six month follow up and my cardiologist agreed that I was in fine shape, and that although he was scared to try Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, he supported my participation in it, and that he was excited to see what I could do WITHOUT the effects of my last remaining drug (a beta blocker).

If you’ve never taken a beta blocker before, imagine this…when you workout, you can’t get your heart rate over about 130.  When you do, you feel your heart beat very deeply, and after a few deep breaths, it slows back down.  At a movie like, “THE CONJURING 2,” when there is a jump-scare, you don’t jump nor do you get scared!  You feel nothing…like your sympathetic nervous system (the portion of our autonomic nervous system responsible for our, “FIGHT OR FLIGHT,” capability, along with numerous other functions that run silently, “in the background,” of our amazing physiology) has been disengaged from your body.  While this is helpful for public speaking, golfing and competitive shooting, it isn’t great for everyday life.  It doesn’t help with rugby, or Jiu-Jitsu.  You don’t enjoy the benefits of, “explosive athletic power,” because your capability to utilize adrenaline as it was intended is shut off.  You do not recover from injuries normally (it is delayed) and you do not lose certain areas of fat, as those areas are responsive only to adrenaline-mediated pathways for utilization and breakdown.  So you enjoy a life that is deprived of many great things, and you must make adaptions to get a semblance of normalcy.

You can achieve what you want, to beat, “your,” diagnosis, and get to a point in your health that is where you want it to be.  I told James Yeager when this happened that, “If I survive the next ten years, medical science will have accelerated to the point where it will help me recover fully.”  Medical science, in the Western world, unfortunately doesn’t usually work to CURE illness…it simply treats symptoms.  That’s one of the things I love about my chosen niche of the medical profession; I definitively treat diseases of the teeth, often by removing the source of the problem, THE TOOTH ITSELF!  With heart issues, the treatment isn’t so literal and simple.  I can’t just rip my heart out or replace it, without acquiring a whole new set of issues and maladies.  If you lead a reasonably healthy life, you can heal your damaged tissues.  This was my only avenue to get back to a, “normal,” DRUG FREE lifestyle.  I hate being tied to a bag of pills.  I hate the feeling of being the youngest guy in the heart failure clinic.  I hate being the young guy with tattoos that everyone looks at and thinks, “HE MUST HAVE WRECKED HIS LIFE WITH METH!”  No Ma’am…I got here from doing my job; rendering aid to the sick and injured.

So be smart!  Wash your hands frequently, don’t touch your mouth, and don’t touch anyone else’s with your bare hands.  Steer clear of people with the flu, and keep your body healthy.  For those of you that work in dentistry and/or the medical field, reschedule patients that are experiencing life-threatening conditions.  It sounds silly to say, “treat your body like a temple,” but your skin suit will only get you as far as you allow it to.  Treat it like a beat-up used car and that is the kind of performance it will deliver to you.  Treat it like a, “vintage” high mileage but very cared for vehicle, and it will CONTINUE to provide years of trouble-free service.




I’m very excited to announce that I will he hosting Massad Ayoob here, in Brentwood TN for his flagship MAG20 course. Space is limited and you can sign up here:

Massad Ayoob has been a mentor of mine for over 30 years now (hopefully he doesn’t kick me in the pants when he reads that…none of us are getting any younger!). I’ve read his books and articles from the time I was a police cadet in the early 1990’s. I’ve shot along side him in competition and he IS every bit as fast and accurate as you can imagine! Mas is one of the best lecturers in the business and you shouldn’t miss this course!

Gabe White…KING of the kydex SLAP!

When you first see Gabe White shoot, you’ll notice that there is an audible, “SMACK!” when he draws his Glock 17 from his Keepers Concealment appendix holster.  In the days of yore, pistoleros who were quick on the draw were called, “leather slappers.”

I first read about Gabe on PISTOLFORUM and then met him and saw him shoot at the RANGEMASTER TACTICAL CONFERENCE in March of 2018.  I was lucky enough to make it into the, “Top 16,” shooters of the competition, of which Gabe was the FIRST PLACE winner.  The competition at the conference is always a good test of skill and wits, and it is a friendly competition without a tremendous amount of ego involved.  I am always humbled to end up in the competition at all, but mostly, I enjoy seeing my peers do well.  Gabe is one of the most humble competitors you will meet, and he will gladly dissect his own performance and describe to you in the smallest of details, where he felt his performance was less than perfect.  Of course, to the casual observer, it looks like a masterful performance by any measure!

Gabe’s flagship course is called, “Pistol Shooting Solutions,” and I was honored to host him at the Humphreys County Sheriff’s Office range facility in Waverly, TN.  From the time I contacted Gabe about hosting, I was impressed by how precise and technical he was in his requirements for the range and hosting.  Gabe designed his course from the ground up to be useful to the consumer.  He has taken a number of classes himself, and understands what a good course of instruction should do for his clients.  Gabe limits the number of students in the class to fourteen, so that he can closely monitor each student while still running relays that don’t cause too much down time for anyone.


One of the issues with taking classes on a regular basis is that you get good at shooting…and while that is, in the BIG PICTURE, a good thing, for the dedicated student it often results in a plateau of skill development.  If you are safe, efficient and consistent in most tactical oriented classes, you won’t get a tremendous amount of direction or coaching on how to improve.  Gabe’s class was quite different in this regard.  Immediately, I learned a number of actionable improvements from Gabe that I was able to incorporate into my shooting that resulted in immediate improvements, of which I will expound on in detail below.

We had students in the class of all levels, from newer shooters to professional gun users (law enforcement) who EACH received individualized feedback, independent of their experience level.  In addition to the qualitative feedback, Gabe also provides a mechanism for systematized testing in a series of four graded standards, that not only reward a good skill set, but also let the student establish benchmarks for the future that they can compare their own performance to.  Gabe gives three awards, in ascending order of achievement, the DARK PIN, LIGHT PIN and TURBO PIN.  This class was the first in history to have two TURBO PIN recipients, Randy Harris and John Hearne.  I’ve trained with both of them in the past, and both are PHENOMENAL shooters!


The RIGHT HAND OF DOOM.  If you watch Gabe’s draw, you’ll notice that his hand immediately goes into this, “claw,” configuration.  To expedite the grip-building phase of the draw, Gabe recommended to start defaulting to setting your hand in this position, so that your path to the gun is quick, consistent, and uniform.  Of course, mishaps in grip still happen, or garments foul the draw, but having a hard base from which to start, gives the user a reference point which can immediately be defaulted to.

I’ve been training now for 28 years, and in that time, I have gone through a number of life changes, including changes in work (and work gear), playing rugby, lifting weights, gaining weight/losing weight, conditioning exercise and various other activities and injuries that have left my body in its current state.  Because of my almost daily repetitive work involving the forceful removal of human teeth from people, my wrists, elbows and shoulders take a literal BEATING that has transferred, somewhat unconsciously, into my shooting habits, and how I handle the gun.  One of the things that has suffered has been my draw speed.  Even when I think I am moving quickly to the gun, I am NOT.  Gabe noticed this and told me that if I could speed up my draw, and get to the gun quicker, I would knock a good chunk of time off of my presentation.  The exercise he showed me to get up to speed was to start from the ready position of my choice, and then swat my hand to the gun, quickly, like a karate chop (remember the audible SLAP when Gabe gets his hand to the gun?) and then acquire the firing grip.  He had my try this several times, without drawing, and just quickly slapping my hand to the holstered pistol.  After about the fifth time, he said, “NOW GET TO THE GUN THAT FAST.”  I did, and HOLY SMOKES, it worked!  I immediately saw an appreciable increase in my presentation/time to first shot.  Once, later in the day, John Hearne noticed that my time to the gun was slipping again and I was lagging, which I’m sure was just force of habit returning and also fatigue, so I reverted back to the slapping exercise to restore my draw’s vigor.  In my past training, I’d never had anyone say anything like, “GET TO THE GUN QUICKER,” and then show me an exercise that is literally so simple to do, to illustrate how to make that happen.  That was extremely helpful.


During the lunch break on the first training day, Gabe gave an optional lecture on vision.  Through a series of demonstrations, he showed us all how our eyes can focus on only one point at a time.  In shooting, this is significant, since we normally look at the target, then draw our gun, find the front sight, then begin shooting once we have a hard front sight focus.  This contraction of the ciliary muscle and bending of the lense in the eye takes time…and if you’re a bit older, it takes even more time!  An over abundance of time is one thing you DO NOT have when either the stakes are high in a shooting match, or when the stakes can’t be any higher than in a fight to save your life!  Gabe described a technique to the class that allows the capable student to be able to immediately change their focus to the, “intermediate focal plane,” or that empty cube of space that exists at about arm’s length distance in front of the shooter’s face, where their pistol’s slide and front sight will eventually end up at the final point of their presentation.  By starting with their focus at this point, upon presentation of the pistol, the eye is already calibrated to see the front sight crisply and clearly, and the additional step of changing focus from the target to the front sight is eliminated.  Gabe said that about one person in fourteen will be able to use this ability, and other people simply wouldn’t.  Much to my surprise, I found that I COULD actually see in the intermediate focal plane, with relative ease.  I attribute this to my years of using microscopes in the applied sciences and in surgery.  After lunch, the benefits of seeing the sights more accurately and quickly was readily apparent!  I wish that I had known about the ability before lunch, as it would have made the shot-calling drills easier, as well as determining what was an acceptable sight picture for a shot.  Next time!

People have been saying, “See what you need to see,” in the firearms training industry since at least the time of Jeff Cooper, and probably before!  But much like, “PRESS THE TRIGGER,” it is something that is often said, but rarely understood.  In the event that a novice instructor tells a student that phrase and it actually solves their problem, it’s probably more likely due to luck then to the acumen of the instructor!  But with the ability to see in the intermediate focal plane, SEEING WHAT YOU NEED TO SEE becomes a genuine reality!  I’ve never before experienced a feeling in shooting quite as acute as that.  The closest analogy of precision I can liken it to is using an EOTECH reticle on an M4 type rifle.  The large, aviation-grade reticle is so easy to see, superimposed over the target, that you know EXACTLY where the gun is pointed when you press the shot.  With a hard front sight focus on presentation, you can see instantly where the gun is pointed and how you need to course correct to achieve the desired directional adjustment.  Using a brightly painted front sight (I used Warren Sevigny sights with the front sight painted red orange with Birchwood Casey sight paint) I was acutely aware of not only the immediate location of my front sight, but also the detail of the sight, down to the horizontal serrations and the areas where the edges of the paint had rubbed off, or picked up the faux-suede lining of my Safariland duty holster.  In years past, I never noticed such details.

If you remove the slide from your pistol, you can visualize and see your sights in a variety of lighting conditions, in places where pointing a gun about will draw a curious eye at the very least, and possibly illicit a law enforcement response at worst!  So, in order to evaluate effectively and not upset the townsfolk, pull the slide off, and the casual observer thinks you’re looking at a hard drive or a sexton.  As you can see, in terms of shot calling, this press with this sight picture would take the shot a bit low and to the left.  HOW low and to the left is variable on range.  Gabe will show you exactly how to determine what your deviation is going to look like at commonly encountered defensive distances, from 5 yards to 25 yards.  The results might surprise you!


Take this course.  Regardless of where you feel you are in your study of shooting, if you are safe, and capable of good accuracy on demand, Gabe will make you better.  In the graded standards we shot, I was able to score in the LIGHT PIN range, which I hope to continue to improve on, and return to retake this course again, and earn the vaunted TURBO PIN.  Prior to this course, I think I was a strong DARK PIN shooter, but honing my skills with just a few additional input changes from Gabe made all of the difference.  It seems silly that only a few minor tweaks could have such a profound effect, but really, when you consider what technical and combat shooting is, it is really a simple series of motor skills and eye-hand coordination events that culminate in the symphony of light, sound and downrange effect that we see and take for granted.  Shaving fractions of a second off of the draw and presentation by increasing efficiency (it doesn’t take many shaves before your NEW time surpasses your BEST old times) is only to the betterment of the shooter…nothing is lost in the pursuit.  And when you consider that to excel at Gabe’s drills you still have to strive for 100% accuracy, or else suffer the time penalty consequences, then it makes the pursuit all that more attractive.

This was just a cursory discussion of the course.  Much of what I learned I’ll keep to myself, as I think it does both you (the reader) and I a disservice; there’s too much to tell! Get to Gabe’s class and see what you can pull out of it!  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Gabe and I with my certificate and my LIGHT PIN. This was one of the most mentally fatiguing, physically demanding, shooting courses I’ve ever taken. There is no, “spray and pray,” in this class, and every shot, even the ones fired quickly, are done so with a great deal of thought and precision. I’ll see you in the future for a TURBO PIN Gabe White!

My training partner and battle buddy, Chris Norville.  In addition to being an accomplished peace officer, and police firearms trainer, Chris is a Rangemaster-Certified Instructor in both shotgun and pistol, AS WELL AS being the recipient of the TOP GUN AWARD in both classes.  Chris also earned the LIGHT PIN in Gabe’s class, and did so from a Safariland ALS duty holster.  Chris and I have attended about six classes together over the past years, and it is always a pleasure to shoot with a professional like him!

M&P 2.0?  More like M&P 1.5, but more on that later.  I’ve learned over the years that more people tend to read my essays if there are gun pics.  It’s fall here…but that doesn’t mean I am using anything other than my old standards, the original M&P 9mm.  I’ve had this pair since ~2008.  I used the top piece for Gabe’s class with the Sevigny sights (the bottom is identical except the barrel is OEM, and the sights are the Warren type, NOT Sevigny and is generally packed along as my backup trainer) with the brown backstrap.  Yes, FDE is all the rage lately it seems, but I find it particularly useful to distinguish one gun from another, when you own a fleet of identical (or nearly identical) pistols.  The top gun had the factory guts replaced after 30K rounds with new factory guts, as well as swapping out the old barrel for a Storm Lake drop in barrel.  It has been utterly reliable with a variety of magazine vintages, floor plates, and capacities (17, 20 and 23 in OEM configuration, Samson Mfg floor plates (+3) and Taran Tactical (+6), respectively).  I used a case of Federal American Eagle 115 grain ammunition in Gabe’s class.  I’ve discovered over the past year or so of using the 2.0 that I like the 1.0 better.  I need to devote a bit more time to the 2.0 with a sanding block and really dial in the grip the way I prefer, to provide traction and not abrasions.  The super aggressive texturing is hard on clothes, and it is SO grippy it doesn’t easily allow for grip adjustment on-the-fly, which, despite what the proponents of the absolute FULL FIRING GRIP crowd will tell you, needs to happen from time to time.  Rarely does life work out perfect…and ever more rarely do things done in harm’s way work perfectly.  Expect the best, prepare for the worst!









Don’t wait to register! Only a few more spots available! This class is unique in that I’ve partnered with Chief Lee Weems of FIRST PERSON SAFETY, to bring you a unique training opportunity currently unprecedented in the training world!


Chief Weems will start off the day with, “Standing Your Ground.” From his website:


“Stand your ground” isn’t a magic phrase that transforms a use of force into a lawful use of force. This class explores the dynamics of deadly force encounters to include the reasonable man doctrine, the lawful use of force, interacting with responding officers, and more.

Lee Weems combines two decades of law enforcement experience along with his education from places such as the Force Science Institute, the Law of Self Defense Instructor Program, the Massad Ayoob Group Deadly Force Instructor certification course, the Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers Use of Force Instructor Training Program, and many others to create the content for this presentation.

But wait there’s more!!

At the conclusion of the presentation a panel of defense attorneys and former prosecutors will be part of a panel question and answer session to field questions from class participants.

$50 tuition

You can register for the Chief’s portion of the class here:

My HAC course will take place following the lunch hour, from 1300-1700, and you can register here:

I hope to see you all there!