Category Archives: Awareness

Every Day Skills

While there are plenty of posts about ‘Every Day Carry’ for personal protection, there are very few about Every Day Skills for personal protection. Tools are only useful if they are used with some degree of skill. Also many of the skills we use for personal protection don’t involve tools at all, other than the one between our ears.

I am now undertaking a long term project for a Fortune 500 retailer that involves being in their stores. So, I’ve taken my own advice and ‘gotten a real job.’ Dear Instructors, Get a Real Job Being back in ‘The Real World’ is an interesting experience, especially because I’m on the road, working different hours, and staying in motels.

A few of the things I’ve had to work on are:

  • Surveillance Detection
  • Situational Awareness (consider it in the context of changing a tire in the rain, for instance)
  • Securing my tools repetitively
  • Camouflage
  • and numerous more

Chronicling my experiences with what personal protection for normal people really involves will be quite interesting. I am quite looking forward to it. It will be an adventure.

Breaking Contact (Part I)

CCW Safe is doing a series about our ultimate goal in Personal Protection. I am happy that I have been able to make a contribution to the literature of our Art.

Our goal in personal protection is to force a break in contact [with a criminal attacker]. We want them to go away, or we want to go away. One or the other.

https://ccwsafe.com/blog/breaking-contact-pt-1

This philosophical fundamental is the true meaning of “Get off the X” for the Private Citizen. Sidestepping or whatever method is taught to get off the X isn’t the end or even the important part of the process. Forcing the attacker to withdraw or making our escape is the end objective.

It’s nothing new. Military units have probably been doing this since before the Roman Empire existed. It’s easily overlooked at the moment of an incident, though. For some folks, escaping is a natural response but for others it is counter-intuitive and needs to be practiced.

In some cases, what we’ve learned needs to be unlearned and replaced with a more appropriate tactic. Assaulting through the kill zone of an ambush toward the enemy is a prime example. Infantrymen are taught this from Day 1 of their military training. However, it’s often not a viable response in civilian life. Sadly, the LT Dwain Williams incident https://tacticalprofessor.wordpress.com/2021/02/26/using-cover-effectively/ is an example of how wrong this tactic can go.

As Shawn points out in the Breaking Contact article https://ccwsafe.com/blog/breaking-contact-pt-1, POlice officers are especially vulnerable to falling prey to the subconscious instinct to chase when they are off-duty. Several incidents in Real Shootouts of the LAPD https://realshootoutsofthelapd.com demonstrate this. However, private citizens are vulnerable too and he cites several cases where this occurred.

Practicing, using an inert replica of your tool, a simple Battle Drill of Breaking Contact with an attacker is worth actually doing rather than just thinking about. We learn physical skills through repetition.

If you would like to purchase Real Shootouts of the LAPD, click on the image below.

Decisions and experience

Good decisions come from experience. Experience comes from bad decisions.

Although incorrectly attributed to Will Rogers, the concept of learning from other peoples’ experience rather than our own still has value. We can use the Intelligence community’s technique of ‘walking back the cat’ to de-construct an incident. This allows us to visualize it and learn from the experience of someone else.

The concept of ‘Decision points’ has been emphasized by both Gary Klein, PhD., a noted expert on the decision-making process, and President George W. Bush. Any drama contains not just one, but a sequence of decisions and decision points we can study.

The Don’t Shoot/Shoot decision is the one most commonly focused on the training and firearms communities. However, any Defensive Gun Use, whether shots are fired or not, contains a plethora of decisions and decision points. These occur before, during, and after the shooting or display of a firearm takes place.

A rich source for walking back the cat is the Categorical Use of Force reports by the LAPD Board of Police Commissioners. The following is an analysis of one incident by an off-duty LAPD officer. The analysis will use the phases of an incident as described in my book Real Shootouts of the LAPD. http://realshootoutsofthelapd.com

The incident began as an Aggravated Assault on an LAPD off-duty officer. The full report by the Board of Police Commissioners, including its Findings about Tactics, Drawing and Exhibiting of a Firearm, and Use of Lethal Force can be found here. http://www.lapdonline.org/assets/pdf/011-11_Harbor-OIS.pdf

Incident Summary

The Situation

Officer A, who was off-duty, walked to his vehicle parked in the driveway of a residence. He did not see anyone around at the time. His duty weapon was in the right front pocket of his pants. After driving out of the driveway, he backed his vehicle up and left the lights on. He then walked back to the gate to close it.

  • Decision point — Leave home armed with his weapon on his person or at least accessible? Even for POlice officers, this is not as absolute a decision as it would seem, as can be seen in other LAPD off-duty incidents.
  • Decision point — Close gate (initial entry barrier to home) or not? As mundane as this decision seems, many people leave their garage doors open when they drive away from their home.

The Buildup

Officer A saw the Subject walking on the sidewalk coming toward him. The Subject then began to run toward Officer A. As the distance to the Subject became closer, Officer A saw the Subject had a handgun in his hand. The Subject pointed the handgun at Officer A.

  • Decision point — Maintain awareness of surroundings or focus on telephone or other attention divider?
  • Decision point — Maintain surveillance on the suspect or not?
  • Decision point — Recognize and accept that an armed attack is imminent or not?

Drawing and Exhibiting

Officer A drew his service pistol from his pocket.

  • Decision point — Draw own pistol or not?

The Gunfight

Immediately after drawing his pistol, Officer A fired one round at the Subject.

  • Decision point — Don’t Shoot or Shoot?
  • Decision point — Fire in place or Shoot on the Move?
  • Decision point — Obtain an adequate sight picture to make a hit or fire without visual reference?

The Subject seemed unaffected, so Officer A fired a second round at the Subject.

  • Decision point — Don’t Shoot or Shoot a second time?
  • Decision point — Fire in place or Shoot on the Move?
  • Decision point — Obtain an adequate sight picture to make a hit or fire without visual reference?

After running past Officer’s A car, the subject collapsed on the sidewalk behind a short block wall.

Post Gunfight Actions

Because he could not see him and wanted to wait for responding officers to arrive, Officer A did not approach the Subject.

  • Decision point — Approach the suspect or not?

Officer A retreated to cover at the house and called 911.

  • Decision point — Hold position or retreat to cover?
  • Decision point — Call 9-1-1 or do something else?

While he was calling 911, Officer A observed another male come over to the Subject, squat down, then stand up and adjust his shirt. The second male then walked away.

  • Decision point — Interact with/challenge the secondary suspect or not?

Two other males walked to the fallen Subject, leaned over to look at him, and then walked away.

  • Decision point — Interact with/challenge the tertiary suspects or not?

There are also implied decision points subsequent in the drama but were not elaborated on by the BOPC.

  •  Actions on approach of responding officers.
  • What statements, if any, should be made to responding officers and then to detectives.
  • Whom else to notify about the incident; Significant Other, etc.
  • Retain an attorney or call pre-paid legal assistance plan.

At least 21 decisions/decision points are readily discernible in this incident. There are perhaps even more, despite this being a relatively uncomplicated DGU. Also note that of the 21, only six (Don’t Shoot or Shoot [X2]), (Fire in place or Shoot on the Move [X2]), and (Obtain an adequate sight picture to make a hit or fire without visual reference [X2]) can be readily practiced with live fire. Those and another, (Draw own pistol or not) can be practiced dry. The other two-thirds of the decisions are more in the nature of ‘soft skills’ that are best decided upon in advance and then practiced away from the range.

“Best decided upon in advance and practiced away from the range” represents our opportunities during the current ammo shortage. Rather than sit on our hands because ammo has become so precious, we can begin developing and practicing a more complete repertoire of the skills we need for Personal Protection. If you would like to read my analyses of the rest of the incidents described in the book, please subscribe to me on Patreon. Patreon link I will be posting the rest of them there.

More surreal than I thought

I rewatched the video of the Snow murders. It was even more surreal than I initially realized.

Lisa Goy got her phone out of her pocket after Spaide re-emerged from his home. Once she had the phone out, she said “Go ahead” three times as she closed the distance toward Spaide. She held the phone up in the air. Between Spaide’s sixth and seventh shots, she said, “You’re on video.”

Spaide then fired his seventh shot, which hit James Goy. Lisa Goy then holds the phone even higher as she takes another step toward Spaide. Note her foot placement as compared to just before her husband was shot.

Spaide then shoots her with his eighth shot.

As someone said, it’s like they were in separate realities at the moment. Sort of like Tenet.

Someone correctly commented on my Facebook post, “Your last words shouldn’t be ‘Go Ahead!'” To which I added, “Or ‘You’re on video.'”

Classic Book Review – Principles of Personal Defense

If one lives through a fight, we will assume that he is better off than if he does not, even though he may be thereafter confronted with legal action.

One of the little jewels in Jeff Cooper’s book Principles of Personal Defense.

My review of the book is a Public post on my Patreon page.

https://www.patreon.com/posts/46379912

If you would like to subscribe to all of my Patreon posts, here is the link.

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Your car is not a holster (again)

Someone entered the unlocked vehicle

Gun, other police equipment stolen from Salina officer’s personal vehicle

https://www.ksal.com/police-equipment-stolen-from-unlocked-car/

“Meanwhile, two more unlocked vehicles were broken in to [sic] in Kipp overnight, as well as one parked in front of a rural Kipp residence. “

In case anyone wonders what ‘Kipp Kansas’ (population <500) looks like, here’s a Google satellite view.

Kipp is part of the Salina, Kansas micropolitan area, a Census Bureau area consisting of two COUNTIES of Kansas. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salina,_Kansas_micropolitan_area The two counties had a total population of 61,697, according to the 2010 Census.

My mother used to tell us “Nice people keep their doors closed and locked.” That includes your car and garage door, too. Please don’t leave your gun in there either, just because you’re too lazy to take it into the house with you. Being a POlice is irrelevant.

Goal Setting for 2021

The book The Practicing Mind https://www.amazon.com/dp/B007C8NRSA/ was written by an accomplished musician and concert piano renovator. It contains the following story about when he started playing golf as an adult. The lesson in the story is well worth considering.

even though they had played golf weekly for many years, they still couldn’t accomplish basic things, such as getting the ball up in the air.

What I learned from golf was that all my failures in music had stemmed from my lack of understanding the proper mechanics of practicing, of the process of picking a goal, whatever that may be, and applying a steady effort toward achieving it.

The passage about ‘picking a goal, whatever that may be’ is particularly important in developing competency with firearms. The ‘whatever that may be’ part should be well considered as part of the goal setting process. It’s not uncommon for gunowners to place a high priority on marksmanship tasks. However, in the context of using firearms for Personal Protection, there are many implied tasks that complement or even surpass marksmanship in importance.

  • Being aware
  • Verbalization
  • Accessing a weapon
  • Moving from place to place safely (e.g. without having an Unintentional Discharge)
  • Making reasonable and appropriate decisions
  • Coordinating with friends and loved ones
  • Etc.

The ammunition deficit will give us all time to work on non-shooting tasks and skills that are, or at least should be, an integral part of our Personal Protection plan. For those who place a priority on their safety and their loved ones’ safety, range time can be re-prioritized to time to practice other skills. Some of those complementary skills do not even involve handling firearms. Others are easily accomplished with an inert or even toy gun.

The enjoyment aspect of the shooting sports is another worthwhile goal. My shooting goal this year is to achieve my Distinguished Expert rating in Shotgun from the NRA. Since I already hold two DE ratings, I will become one of the few Triple Distinguished Experts. My gun club is rebuilding our rimfire range, so I’ll also be able to get back into smallbore rifle shooting, a highly disciplined activity.

On the other hand, my interest in ‘Boyd’s Process,’ of which the ‘O-O-D-A Loop’ is part, has been rekindled. I am going to make a concerted effort to delve deeply into the entire process and produce a written piece and presentation for my Patrons about integrating all the parts of Boyd’s thinking into a cohesive paradigm. That falls into the ‘making reasonable and appropriate decisions’ and is only peripherally concerned with firearms, other than as a backup tool.

Think about what your goals are for 2021 for firearms and Personal Protection. Decide what a measurable indicator for reaching each of your goals would be and then make a plan for getting there. That is a different process than ‘New Year’s resolutions,’ which generally are ephemeral and therefore more easily dismissed than a goal with a concrete plan.

FTC notice: I receive no commission for any links mentioned in this post.

Who’s there?

“Who’s there?”

Learn to say it in your sleep.

https://www.tampabay.com/news/breaking-news/2020/11/05/stuart-man-thinks-he-hears-an-intruder-fatally-shoots-pregnant-wife/

“When you have a home where you have family members, you have to be even more careful and wait that extra second and do everything you can to make sure you know what you’re dealing with when you’re about to use deadly force,” [Martin County Sheriff] Snyder said.

Well said, Sheriff Snyder.

Many of my colleagues disagree with my assessment that decision-making is far more important than marksmanship and technical proficiency but I’m sticking to my guns on the subject. Every incident like this I read about makes me more of a ‘bitter clinger’ to my opinion.

“Daddy, where’s Mommy?”

“I accidentally killed her before you were even born. I’m so sorry I took your Mommy from you.”

If anyone thinks that man will ever sleep through the night again, they’re wrong. My prediction is that he will also die young, leaving his child without any parents at any early age.

Teach your children to shoot

In the current political situation, if you have teenage children and haven’t taught them how to shoot a rifle adequately, you’re wrong, PERIOD.

I have taught a number of teenage boys to pass the Ohio POlice Rifle Course in just a couple of hours. Girls could do it just as easily. It’s not the greatest qualification course but it’s short, easily administered, and someone who can pass it is a force to be reckoned with, especially from a fixed position or support role.

With the exception of the reload in Stage Six, the entire Course can be done even using a tube fed autoloading .22 rifle with iron sights. The reload can still be done with a tube fed autoloader but probably not in the time frame allotted. Although many people think that a .22 rifle can only cause a bee sting, they are sadly mistaken. Rifles in .22 caliber are highly lethal within 25 yards, often even with only one shot.

Our great Nation is in perilous times and it behooves us to be ready for what’s to come.

Fall without breaking things

Learning to make contact with the ground (breakfall) https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/breakfall without becoming a casualty is one of the most important Personal Protection skills we can learn. How to teach that to senior citizens who have no experience is outside my lane but its importance in hand to gland combat is undeniable. It’s also very useful if you live in an area where there is ice in the winter or if your house has any steps, as I can personally testify to.

Police: 80-year-old man dies after being shoved to the ground during mask dispute in New York bar

https://www.kptv.com/general/police-80-year-old-man-dies-after-being-shoved-to-the-ground-during-mask-dispute/article_c8f908a4-65ba-5d08-a71d-43fd2585c7da.html

Another lesson in the incident is that discretion is the better part of valor, especially when you’re a senior citizen. This poor gentleman was concerned about decorum to the bar staff and coronavirus but the cause of his death was a broken skull. According to the District Attorney, the two were familiar with and disliked each other. In all likelihood, this was an example what Rory Miller terms ‘the monkey dance.’ It’s foolish and dangerous.

Note that the person charged with his death is also a senior citizen so don’t think that it’s only ‘White Punks On Dope’ who can cause your demise.

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