The Tactical Professor’s Bus Odyssey

This is a short explanation of my bus journey back to Atlanta from the 2019 SHOT Show in Las Vegas. It’s mostly humorous and we had fun doing it. It was recorded at the Rangemaster 2019 Tactical Conference in New Orleans.

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STOPP Presentation at Rangemaster Tactical Conference

Books (all PDF)

Energizer® Tactical Metal Flashlight


Small, inexpensive, and readily available flashlights are very useful. I purchased an Energizer 300 lumen Tactical Metal Flashlight at The Home Depot for $9.98.

The flashlight runs on one 123 battery and has three modes. The high mode is 300 lumens, the output for the low mode is unspecified but may be 30 lumens based on the product literature, and a strobe mode. There are no instructions packaged with it nor on the website but through a process of trial and success, I discovered that it goes into High, then Low, then Strobe by rapidly clicking the button on the tailcap. If the light is left off for about two seconds, it will go back to High mode the next time it is turned on. The switch is capable of momentary flash and the same cycle sequence results.

It has a clip that can easily be reversed for head up or head down carry. Being a one cell light, it’s easily carried in a pocket. There is also a hole in the tailcap that accepts a keyring (not included). This is useful for quickly removing the flashlight when it’s clipped head down inside a pocket.

The TAC 300 has a crenelated bezel but not tailcap. The reason for having a crenelated tailcap has always escaped me so I’m glad of that. The tailcap has a lip to help keep the button from being accidentally depressed but the lip is scalloped enough to provide easy access to the button. I have found that orienting the clip opposite the scallop gives the easiest access when gripping the flashlight.

It is rather bigger than the Surefire Sidekick so it’s more suited to being a pocket flashlight than something to be carried on a keyring.

Overall, a very workable little light that is not expensive. There’s no reason to not have a flashlight next to your pistol when something like this is so readily available.

“Who’s there?”

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STOPP Presentation at Rangemaster Tactical Conference

Books (all PDF)

STOPP Presentation now available

My Strategies, Tactics, and Options for Personal Protection presentation given at the Rangemaster 2019 Tactical Conference is now available for download. It is the culmination of several years of research and analysis into the issues that confront private citizens when trying to keep themselves and their families safe from criminal predators.

Many people have expressed interest in training with The Tactical Professor but haven’t had the opportunity. This movie is the next best thing. It is The Tactical Professor as his authentic self and is definitely not “Death by PowerPoint.” There is some coarse language but it has been kept to a minimum.

A short sample is available on my YouTube Channel.

Topics covered include:

  • Strategy
  • Tactics
  • Options
  • Personal Protection
  • Our end goal (STRATEGY) is to make good decisions
  • Decisions determine outcomes
  • Take charge of the situation, don’t let the situation control you.
  • Priorities
  • Decide ahead of time
  • Choose a response
  • Options for Personal Protection
  • Protecting Others
  • Three inputs to good decision making
  • The fun input
  • Use of Force law
  • Know the rules (other)
  • What were you thinking?
  • Have adequate skills
  • Cognitive load
  • Practicing your skills
  • Understand the situation
  • Inputs to bad decision making

The file is an MP4 movie created from the slides and a full recording of the presentation. The movie is 90 minutes long and includes a Question and Answer session with the audience at the end. The file is about 554MB so a fast connection is desirable to download it.

You can purchase the full movie for download at

I think you will find it’s $14.99 well spent. As with all my products, my ebook Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make is included.

Intended Victim not ‘Subject’

The man did not know he was being followed according to police and once at the man’s home, [the shootee] allegedly produced a firearm and confronted the subject [sic] as he was trying to get out of his vehicle and go into his home.

‘Subject,’ in POlice terms, is almost always used in the context of a wrong doer. In current times, the default treatment of anyone who shoots someone else is that the shooter is a criminal who must then prove his or her innocence. While some States provide some legal protection for self-defense, unless you never travel outside the county you live in, those protections cannot be relied on. ‘Stand Your Ground’ should always be viewed as a courtroom strategy not a tactical option. Keep that in mind. Do your best to AVOID or ESCAPE prior to being forced into CONFRONT or RESIST.

Surveillance Detection is a useful skill. Your car mirrors are a tool for you to use frequently, especially at 5AM. It’s beneficial to always take a few turns for Surveillance Detection purposes prior to committing yourself to turning into your driveway or other place you cannot escape from. Once you are Decisively Engaged because your path is blocked, you are forced to CONFRONT or RESIST.

Note also that “the man was able to retrieve a handgun of his own.” ‘Retrieve’ most likely means that the gun was in the car not on his person. This mention is not intended as commentary about leaving unsecured guns in cars. Rather, it is an observation that many of the incidents in my database involve successfully accessing guns that are stored off-body.

Tactical Professor books (all PDF)

Purchase of any book includes Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make.

Trigger Press or Alignment on Target?


In the context of Three Shots, Three Seconds, Three Yards, which is more important, trigger press or alignment on target? The conventional wisdom is that trigger press is the important factor in making hit in a self-defense situation. I’m always cautious about the metrics that underlie assumptions and doctrine, though.

Certainly, when shooting a B-8 target, trigger press is an important skill. However, if the gun isn’t in line with the target, does a smooth trigger press have any value? While this may seem like an advocacy of point shooting, it’s not, but that discussion is for another post.

This video is a preliminary experiment of aligning the gun on the target and then yanking/jerking the trigger. The pistol used is the gun with the trigger everyone loves to hate, a KelTec P32.

At this point, it’s just an experiment to me. What I’d like to have is more input from other shooters because I’m no longer neurologically equipped to yank/jerk the trigger.

Doing the experiment is fairly simple and only requires five rounds. A target is attached to this post.

At 3 yards, aim at the heart on the target, touch the trigger face, and then fire 1 shot with a trigger jerk. Repeat 4 times for 5 shots total. Email me,, a picture of your results. I’ll randomly award a package of my books to one person who sends me their results.

Tactical Professor books (all PDF)

Purchase of any book includes Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make.

The Sandra Ochoa Incident (Shooting Analysis II)

In a previous post, I discussed Officer A’s shooting performance during the incident. The weapon system manipulation aspects also bear discussion.

This incident forced Officer A to manipulate two different flashlights in rapid succession. He approached the scene with a hand held light, which most industry professionals would consider a best practice. At the gate, he immediately had to make a SHOOT decision and held onto his handheld light while shooting using his weapon mounted light. His shooting grip was compromised as a result. This image capture is from immediately after his sixth shot.

It’s apparent he is holding onto his handheld light with the ring and little fingers of his Support (left) Hand and trying to wrap his index and middle fingers around his pistol. The compromised grip may have been part of the reason for his low hit rate with the first five shots. This observation is not a criticism of Officer A, rather it’s a recognition of the complexity of the manipulation problem he encountered. Having and rapidly using two different types of flashlight in succession is not a training drill we often practice, myself included.

As is often the case, technology has advanced more rapidly than practical doctrine for using it. Several possibilities arise for using the two lights.

  1. Simply do the best you can with what you’ve got, as Officer A was forced to do.
  2. Shoot one handed, while maintaining control of the handheld light in the Support Hand.
  3. Drop the handheld, shoot with the weapon mounted light, and then retrieve the handheld light when necessary or feasible.
  4. Have the handheld on a large flexible ring that allows it to be dropped without losing total control of it. This is the approach I am currently experimenting with.

It’s worth noting that one incident in Real Shootouts of the LAPD involved the use of a flashlight. Also, some of the tragedies referenced in Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make could have been averted by the use of a flashlight. The Ochoa Incident gives us some food for thought about the need for doctrine and practice with flashlights.

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The Sandra Ochoa Incident (Shooting Analysis)

Body Worn Video (BWV) not only has value for analysis of Use of Force, it also can be used as a shooting analysis tool. By looking at a BWV in conjunction the results of a subsequent investigation, we can arrive at a more complete picture of the shooting incident.

On May 31, 2020, LAPD officers responded to a radio call of a “murder suspect there now.” Upon arrival, the officers observed the suspect cutting the victim’s throat and an Officer-Involved Shooting (OIS) occurred. The BWV of both officers present was later released by the LAPD. The incident was adjudicated by the LAPD Board of Police Commissioners on May 4, 2021. The shooting was ruled objectively reasonable, necessary, and In Policy.

A short edited and annotated video of the shooting portion of the incident is available on my YouTube Channel.

Several points can be derived from the BWV and the subsequent investigation and rulings. The first is that there is a significant difference between a shooting and gunfight. Noted firearms authority Ken Hackathorn mentioned years ago that a Private Citizen is just as likely to be involved in a ‘shooting’ as in a ‘gunfight,’ if not more so. In a shooting, there is sufficient cause to use a firearm (deadly force) in defense against an assailant who is armed with a contact weapon or personal weapons (fists, shod feet, etc.). This incident is a good example. The assailant was armed with a pair of scissors and succeeded in murdering her victim with those scissors.

The cadence of shooting by Officer A is another item we can analyze. The LAPD Force Investigation Division quantified the officer’s splits (time between shots) as follows:

  • Shot 2 – 0.340
  • Shot 3 – 0.286
  • Shot 4 – 0.232
  • Shot 5 – 0.247

The average of those splits was 0.276 seconds, with a total time for the first 5 shots of 1.105. The officer was shooting at a cyclic rate for the first five shots. Although he said he ‘assessed’ between those shots, it’s unlikely there was any assessment between shots 1 through 5. Shot number 6 had a split time of 0.711. That’s the more likely point of there being an assessment of bullet damage, i.e., target effect.

Just like Sergeant Tim Gramins in 2013 , he may have said to himself, “Hey, I need to slow down and aim better.” I.e., shoot better – meaning, achieve an adequate sight picture and perform a smoother trigger press. What likely occurred by the officer was a ‘Bullet damage assessment’ after 5 shots, followed by a marksmanship improvement and a more accurate 6th shot.

Of the 6 shots fired, 2 were hits. There’s no way to say for sure but the likelihood is that of the first 5 shots, 1 was a hit. The 6th shot was likely a hit and perhaps a better hit that got the message across. Viewed this way, there were actually 2 sequences of fire. Sequence 1 consisted of 5 shots resulting in 1 hit, a 20% hit ratio. Sequence 2 consisted of 1 shot, which resulted in 1 hit, a 100% hit ratio.

Nothing in this analysis is intended as a criticism of the officer. Shooting someone who isn’t immediately adjacent to a victim is difficult enough. Shooting with an innocent downrange and right next to the assailant is a very difficult task that is seldom practiced for.

Although the victim in this case died, there’s a good chance she had been fatally wounded prior to the shooting. The officer did the best he could under the circumstances. Not all situations have a Positive Outcome.

Other items of note were that, as is frequently the case, the officer under-estimated the number of shots he fired. There’s nothing uncommon about that. In most of the Categorical Use of Force reports, when more than two shots are fired, the officer undercounts. On the other hand, the officer estimated the distance of the shot quite accurately. He thought it was 20 to 25 feet and the actual distance was 18 feet. Very few people’s eyeballs are calibrated to better than 10% margin of error for distance.

The full LAPD news release video (NRF023-20) is posted on the LAPD YouTube Channel.

Incidents like these, but involving off duty officer incidents, is why I found my work on Real Shootouts of the LAPD so worthwhile. The off duty Officer Involved Shootings very much mirrored the thousands of Private Citizen Armed Encountered I have studied. However, there was a great deal more detail available about what led up to the encounter and how it unfolded.

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Suspect Held at Gunpoint (temporarily)

Sequence of events

  • Perp establishes Line of Business consisting of checking car door handles for unlocked cars to burglarize
  • Perp finds gun in unlocked car and steals it
    • “The firearm used by the suspect in this murder was found to be stolen from an unlocked vehicle in the same neighborhood just eleven days prior.” –JSO
  • Eleven days later, perp is carrying said stolen pistol while burglarizing the car of a USCG Servicemember
  • Servicemember detects the burglary in progress
  • SM calls 911
  • SM gets own pistol and confronts would-be burglar, ordering him to remain in place until POlice arrive
  • Perp refuses to comply and instead draws stolen pistol
  • Perp fires several shots and hits SM at least once, incapacitating her
  • Perp departs
  • POlice arrive and ‘attend’ to SM
  • SM dies from wounds
  • POlice identify perp
  • Perp turns himself in
  • Family, friends, and fellow SM are heartbroken
  • Perp is charged with murder in the second degree
  • Family, friends, and fellow SM are still heartbroken

Negative Outcome for everyone involved

“Don’t go looking for trouble not expecting to find it.” –John Farnam https://defense-training.

Possible tactical alternatives

  • If you feel compelled to challenge a criminal, do so from a position of cover (concealment does not count as cover). If no cover is available, do not challenge.
  • Use a high intensity flashlight to illuminate and blind the perp before issuing the challenge.
  • If your car door is locked, illuminate the perp with your flashlight from a considerable distance without issuing a challenge.
  • At your own residence, have a large bear-spray type canister of OC close at hand. Spray the perp, without warning, at the maximum range of the container. Be sure to saturate him from the top of his head to the tips of his toes. Then immediately seek cover if you’re not already behind it.
    • “Begin to attrit the enemy at the maximum effective range of your weapons.” –Infantry maxim

Facebook link to Sheriff’s Office Press Conference

We strongly recommend citizens lock their vehicles and absolutely remove their firearms when exiting. Please do not provide criminals with easy access to a gun that will only be used in more criminal, and as in this case, violent acts.

Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office

Very sad. RIP Airman Schollaert

Serious Mistakes – Unintentional Discharges (Part II)

The Unintentional Discharge (UD) into the Florida Representative’s office Bullet fired into Representative’s district office, which caused six people to UNsubscribe from my blog, provides a good backdrop for further exploration of the topic of Unintentional Discharges. Part I Serious Gunowner Mistakes – Unintentional Discharges (Part I) began the discussion of definitional issues. This post will explore the categories of UDs in Serious Mistakes and make some observations about preventing this undesirable phenomenon.

Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make divides Unintentional Discharges into three categories. There’s a fourth category that needs to be added because of its implications and long term effects. The first category in Serious Mistakes is UDs that cause some kind of property damage. The shot into the Representative’s office is an example of this. No one was physically injured but there was obvious property damage. Coming into your office and finding a bullet hole in the wall is not how anyone wants to start their day. Such a discharge can occur in tactical situations with undesirable results. The LAPD Board of Police Commissioners refers to these as “Tactical Unintentional Discharges (TUD).”

According to Officer A, after stopping his/her police vehicle near the location of the call, he/she utilized his/her left hand to open his/her door and remove his/her safety belt while simultaneously utilizing his/her right hand to unholster his/her handgun. Once the handgun was out of its holster, he/she held it in front of his/her body in a close-contact position, while simultaneously using his/her left hand to grab the top of the pistol’s slide. He/she did this in order to safely control the handgun with his/her left hand while freeing his/her right hand to place the vehicle in park and turn off the ignition. After turning off the ignition, Officer A began exiting the vehicle while simultaneously transitioning the handgun back into his/her right hand. As he/she did so, he/she unintentionally placed his/her finger on the trigger, causing the handgun to discharge a single round into the driver’s door.

LAPD Board of Police Commissioners

Don’t think that TUDs are limited to POlice service only. The recent episode of the attempted home invasion in California where the assailant peed his pants is a good example. While narrating the video of the incident, the homeowner stated “That was a misfire” when referring to the first shot of the gunfight. It wasn’t a ‘misfire,’ it was an Unintentional Discharge and it escalated what had been a verbal confrontation into a gunfight.

The second category is self-inflicted gunshot wounds. The pictures and videos of such unfortunate incidents are so numerous that they can’t even be listed adequately. This article lists nine celebrities who unintentionally gave themselves lead injections. Within the gun community, Tex Grebner is one of the most famous self-shooters. Tex deserves credit for admitting his mistake and posting a cautionary video about it.

The worst of these three categories is Unintentional Shootings. This doesn’t mean Mistaken Identity Shootings but rather when an Unintentional Discharge results in injury or death to another person. The repercussions of such an incident can be severe. A very sad incident recently occurred in Oklahoma in which a boy was ‘playing with a pistol’ in his living room and had a UD. The bullet travelled through the wall to the adjacent room and struck his mother in the head, killing her instantly. The boy was so distraught that he then went outside and killed himself with the same pistol. Interior walls in most homes are as bullet resistant as a sheet of paper, which is to say, not at all.

A fourth category needs to be added to the Second Edition. It is UDs that cause no reportable property damage. For instance, at a range into the walls, ceiling, backstop, or off into the sunset. This is probably the most common UD of them all, occurring thousands of times EACH DAY. The major problem with these non-reportable UDs is that they insidiously create a ‘practice scar.’ That scar is the subconscious thought that UDs don’t have consequences. The scar is a bigger problem than is generally realized.

Best Practices to prevent Unintentional Discharges and minimize damage

Practice keeping the finger outside and above the trigger guard whenever you’re not prepared for the gun to fire. Rule 3, keep your trigger finger above the trigger guard as a default position. Placing the finger on the front of the trigger guard used to be considered acceptable but we have come to understand that it’s not much better than being in the trigger guard.

“That was a misfire” from the California ‘Home Invader Pees His Pants’ incident most likely resulted from having his finger in the trigger guard while chambering a round.

For guns that are not carried in a holster, some form of tactile indicator, e.g., Velcro, is worthwhile as an aid to keeping the finger in the proper position.

Velcro applied as tactile indicator for correct trigger finger position.

Smith & Wesson’s SD9VE is factory equipped with a tactile indicator above the trigger guard. This is a feature more manufacturers should emulate.

Muzzle direction is the primary safety. Always has been, always will be.

–Bill Rogers

Practice muzzle awareness at all times. Rule Two, keep guns pointed in the safest possible direction. Parts of your body or other people’s bodies are not on the list.

Complacency injures and kills. Many otherwise good and informative videos are ruined by lack of muzzle awareness.

The recent video of a Fourth World person shooting his hand during a wedding is an excellent example of why keeping the muzzle away from our hands is a best practice. The aftermath shown in the video is gory but this is the moment that immediately precedes the UD.

He removed the pistol from the holster, chambered a round, and then fired a shot in the air immediately before this. Most likely because he uses chamber empty carry, he forgot that removing the magazine after firing a round does not clear the chamber. As a consequence, his left hand will never be the same again.

Firearms are relentlessly unforgiving of carelessness, just like electricity. We don’t stick our fingers in electrical sockets “even when it’s not plugged in” because we learn at any early age that electricity, while a useful servant, can also kill. Firearms need to be given the same respect for the same reason.

Tactical Professor books (all PDF)

Note that Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make is included with the purchase of any other book.

Bullet fired into Representative’s district office

Rep. Spencer Roach’s district office staff returned to work Monday to find a bullet hole in the building.

The shot entered the office feet from Roach’s desk.

Negative Outcome.