No, we don’t.
A rare editorial commentary.
In the wake of the recent ‘mass shootings,’ an amazing amount of rhetoric has arisen on both sides of the political spectrum and from the Venn diagram of those who bridge the continuum. Both sides are wrong. I’ll probably annoy some people with this commentary and lose some subscribers but so be it.
On one side, commonly referred to as the Left, we hear renewed call for various forms of gun control, ranging from Universal Background Checks to outright banning of ‘assault weapons.’ These calls are the continued extension of a propaganda campaign that would have made Nazi propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels proud. In numerical terms, the probability of being involved in a ‘mass shooting’ is so small a possibility that it’s not even worth considering in our daily lives much less for making public policy. There were more one-on-one homicide victims last year than in all the so-called ‘mass shootings’ of the 20th and 21st Centuries combined. I feel sorry for the victims of active killers but no more so than for the Dekalb County murder victims who annually outnumber ‘active killer’ victims but who get about one minute of news coverage every few days.
The whole ‘mass shooting’ thing is an invention of the mass media elites to boost their ratings and push forward the topic of gun control. Anyone who thinks that media personalities making millions of dollars a year care one whit about the plight of the average person is seriously naïve. What they care about is their ratings and how much money and power they can accumulate.
The ebook about Advanced Skills and how to practice them is now available. Recognizing the value of dry practice, the download also includes two MP3 files to easily guide your dry practice sessions.
A commonly heard statement in the firearms training community is “There are no such things as ‘advanced’ tasks, only ‘fundamental’ tasks done at greater speed.” While this statement is true to an extent, there is a broader perspective to be considered.
There are three components of Advanced tasks, all of which have equal importance.
- Performance Measurement
The ability to perform a given task in the same way and achieve the same results each time is a characteristic of advanced shooters. We have all experienced that day when we were ‘on’ and could do everything well. The difference between those days and our worst days is the measure of our consistency and what we are able to produce ‘on demand.’
Measuring our performance regularly and recording our results is the only way to know whether we are being at least consistent and hopefully improving our skill level. Performance measurement has two components: accuracy and time. Our personal perceptions of how competent we are at any given time are often flawed. The target and the timer, not our perceptions, tell us the true story of our competency. The ‘observer effect’ of performance measurement can also change a fundamental task into an advanced task.
The element of ‘context’ is a key component of ‘advanced’ tasks. Any fundamental task has to be applied in a certain way to different situations. Analyzing situations provides us with the context for a task. Studying incidents in detail over time can give us a broader view of the tasks and circumstances involved in using firearms for personal protection. This book had the input of an in-depth analysis of a database of over 5,000 Defensive Gun Uses (DGU) by Armed Citizens. From that analysis, the tasks involved in DGU were broken out along with the context in which the tasks were applied to a situation. Due to significant differences in Mission and Circumstances (METT-TC for Army veterans) between Armed Citizens and Law Enforcement Officers, on-duty law enforcement incidents were not included in the analysis. A few well documented off-duty incidents that paralleled incidents involving Armed Citizens were included
Another aspect of Advanced Practice is that some very common tasks in personal protection either physically cannot be practiced at indoor ranges or outdoor gun clubs, either due to rules or feasibility. Practicing drawing from the holster is the most obvious, because this is prohibited at most indoor ranges.
A less obvious personal protection task is shooting with innocent people downrange or in the midst of innocent people. This situation occurs much more frequently in real life than most gunowners realize. Think of how many times gunowners speak of ‘protecting their family.’ This statement implies that the family may be present during a Defensive Gun Use. However, the family members are often in between the criminal and the gunowner.
While it’s currently fashionable to talk about keeping a gun on one’s person at home, this isn’t the reality for most people. Among those who have Licenses To Carry, actual on-body carry is still rare. More likely, the gun is kept in some (hopefully secure) place of storage, either at home or in a vehicle. At home, this reality creates two implied tasks for personal protection; 1) access the pistol from a place of storage and 2) move safely from place to place with a loaded firearm. Since many people are uncomfortable with having a round in the chamber of an autoloading pistol, yet another implied task is possibly, 3) chamber a round and render the pistol safe for movement.
Note that in this book, the term ‘personal protection’ is used in place of ‘self-defense.’ The reason for this term substitution is that the person being protected is often not ourselves but rather other innocent parties. As an example, Armed Citizens often refer to ‘protecting their families’. We can refer to this relationship as The Myth of the Lone Gunman, which easily distorts the apparent relevance of both tasks and standards. This fact introduces a higher level of complexity into both the psychology and the tactics of the encounter, even when the technical marksmanship problem is the same as in a self-defense (Lone Gunman) situation.
Every month, Tamara Keel pens a page called Good Guys Win https://www.swatmag.com/articles/more-articles/good-guys-win/ in SWAT magazine. It’s similar to The Armed Citizen from the NRA Official Journals in that the stories are based on real life incidents rather than ‘Ninjas Coming from the Ceiling’ fantasies. One of her stories this month came from this incident.
Police say one of the suspects was shot in the leg.
Whenever I see an incident in which the Good Guy shoots the Bad Guy in the leg, which happens on a regular basis, I wonder if it’s because GG got on the trigger too quickly. While ‘shoot him in the leg’ is a rather popular meme, I doubt it’s something that people do instinctively. We’ve got to practice getting the gun into the eye-target line before putting our finger into the trigger guard. Another possibility was some serious trigger jerking, which is why we need to learn to press the trigger smoothly, even when we’re stressed.
When planning any journey, knowing where you’re starting from is a necessity. For those new to Concealed Carry and for those who have been carrying for a while, having some kind of Standard to benchmark your ability against is the way to determine where you’re at, skills wise.
Marksmanship skill is not the be all and end all of the skills involved in Concealed Carry, as my Serious Mistakes and Negative Outcomes commentary shows. However, understanding where your capability fits in the big picture helps decision‑making more than is often realized. Some degree of skill helps a gunowner focus on the solution to the problem of a criminal encounter instead of focusing on possession of the gun as the solution.
It’s finally done. My new book about Skills and Drills for those who Concealed (or Open) Carry. The book is based on my analysis of over 5,000 incidents involving Armed Citizens who successfully defended themselves and their loved ones.
This book was designed to fill a need. For many gun owners, training is a resource intensive activity that they have difficulty affording in terms of time, money, distance, etc. Introductory Concealed Carry licensing classes generally focus mostly on legal aspects and non-shooting tasks such as situational de‑escalation. The only shooting task, if any, involved in a licensing course will usually be a ‘qualification’ or evaluation of the shooter’s ability to perform to an established standard. In most cases, that standard is quite low but it is still intimidating to many.
The gunowner is thereby placed in an unenviable situation. First, having to learn to shoot prior to attending a licensing course. Even with some instruction, which will often be informal by a friend or relative, this can be a difficult task. Second, assuming the person passes the licensing ‘qualification,’ they often ask the question “What do I do next?” The standard response is “Get more training.” Since spending a day or a weekend at a remote location ‘getting more training’ doesn’t fit into most people’s resource constraints, they simply choose not to unless it’s required at license renewal time.
Gun ranges are not ideal learning environments. Trying to get even informal instruction from someone else when people are shooting on either side of you is rarely productive. The question of what are appropriate tasks to learn and how do we practice them comes next. How do we make the best use of our limited resources at the range is another question. The horrible visualization on TV and in movies of what shooting looks like is non-helpful at best and destructive of proper conceptualization and skill development at worst.
Self-Study is an activity most of us are used to. It is how we often learn to drive a car and perform many other physical and athletic tasks. Not many people who play sports have ever been to a sports training camp. They just go out and practice the activity, play the game, figure out their weaknesses, and then practice some more.
The difficulty of Self-Study with firearms is the question of how to do it safely and properly. Guns are esoteric tools that are not intuitive to use. We have no instincts that prepare us for having explosions repeatedly go off two feet in front of our faces. Few other tools we use have the capability to cause instant death during a moment of ignorance or carelessness.
What this book provides is a guide through the process of improving your shooting skills on your own in the context of Personal Protection. Guided training with a competent instructor is still the best way to improve your skills and will yield the best results. However, an intelligent person who can follow directions can still learn a great deal on his or her own, given a suitable program.
This book is not a guide to becoming a Champion shooter or being able to shoot like a member of an elite military unit. What it can do is help you to become a safer, more competent shooter who can focus your cognitive abilities on the situation, instead of the gun, during a criminal encounter. It is also an excellent reference for more experienced shooters providing informal training to new shooters.
There are 30 different drills in the eBook. They focus on building Concealed Carry skills from the ground up and then refining them. The drills are structured in a stair step approach starting at a level that a new shooter can achieve and then work to a greater degree of difficulty and achievement. Different types of drills are coordinated to build a variety of skills at the same time.
The vast majority of Personal Protection incidents are simple, if rather frightening, events, and are quickly solved by untrained inexperienced persons. The issue is that if an incident goes wrong, it tends to go horribly wrong, a NEGATIVE OUTCOME. The odds are low but the stakes are very high. Helping the Armed Private Citizen stack the deck in their favor is the object of this book.
Posts Part I and Part II broke out the circumstances and tasks of the incidents of this month’s (July 2018) Armed Citizen® column. Today let’s discuss the implications of the circumstances and tasks for those who own firearms for personal protection.
The most common task (all six incidents) accomplished was:
- Retrieve the firearm from storage.
There were no incidents this month in which the firearm was carried on the person’s body. This is a subjective call on the part of editors as to which of the plethora of Defensive Gun Uses to include in a monthly column. However, only 6 percent of the adult population has a license or permit to carry a weapon outside the home, according to John Lott’s Crime Prevention Research Center. It’s also commonly acknowledged that among those who have a license or permit to carry, actually carrying on the person is sporadic, at best. Accordingly, it is not surprising that the majority, perhaps vast majority, of Defensive Gun Uses do not occur in public places.
One implication of this fact is that a certain amount of emphasis should be placed on retrieving a firearm from its actual storage location, be it home or vehicle, and then putting it into operation. This is especially true if the firearm is kept in some sort of safe, whether it is large or small. If an autoloader is stored with the chamber empty, the need to be able to place the weapon into a fully fireable condition is also implied. Avoiding Negligent Discharges in the process is desirable.
JULY 2018 AMERICAN RIFLEMAN
Yesterday’s post broke out the circumstances of the incidents of this month’s Armed Citizen® column. Today’s post breaks out the tasks involved.
Women have been buying an increasing number of firearms in recent years, and that trend is starting to make itself felt against those who try to commit criminal acts. In Arizona, for example, a shopper was getting ready to get into her car and drive home. While she was attempting to close the door of her vehicle, a man armed with a hatchet approached her vehicle, demanded that she hand over her keys and get out of the car. The woman drew a sidearm and told the man to back off. Instead, the assailant raised the hatchet. The shopper proceeded to shoot him, holding him at gunpoint until the police and medics arrived. The suspect was hospitalized, and charges were to be filed later. (Tucson News, Tucson, Ariz., 4/14/18)
Tasks accomplished by Citizen
- Retrieve from car (handgun)
- Challenge from ready
- Engage from ready (handgun)
- Shoot with handgun
- Hold at gunpoint until police arrive
Location of Incident
- In or around Vehicle
- Challenge criminal
- Shot(s) fired
- Held at gunpoint
Result to Criminal
- Criminal wounded
- In Vehicle
Number of Shots fired
Number of adversaries
- 1 adversary
Gaffney Continue reading →
JULY 2018 AMERICAN RIFLEMAN
Looking at circumstances and tasks involved in the Monthly Armed Citizen® column of the NRA Official Journals provides us with some food for thought about personal protection. The incidents are summarized in the column for copyright reasons. I have provided links to the original stories for further study.
We can look at the incidents from two perspectives; circumstances and the tasks involved for the defender. This post will categorize the circumstances for each incident. Tomorrow will analyze the tasks involved.
How do you forget you’re carrying a gun?
This question was posed in relation to a recent article about a former teacher leaving his pistol in the stall of a public restroom. The pistol was shortly thereafter fired ‘to see if it was loaded’ by the homeless man who found it. A spirited discussion ensued on my Facebook Tactical Professor page about the topic.
The discussion brought to mind something John Farnam spoke about at his class I attended 20 years ago. John wrote one of his published quips about the topic years later. It is well worth reading and considering. One of his points about competent gunhandlers is: “We don’t have accidents with guns.” Accidents is a category that includes more than Negligent Discharges by the homeless. It also includes losing control of your personally carried weapon, either by leaving it behind or by unintentionally allowing others to gain access to it.
Following is John’s commentary.
Living with Guns
By John S. Farnam
Many years ago, while attending The US Army Command and General Staff College at Ft Leavenworth, KS, I submitted a paper entitled, “Living With Guns”. In it, I described my sometimes exasperating experiences as an infantry second lieutenant, platoon commander in Vietnam in 1968. I observed that, during that War, although we all had been theoretically trained to operate small arms, nobody had ever taught us how to actually live with them!
I submitted that individual soldiers need experiences that prepare them, not only to operate, but to actually live with, loaded guns during prolonged periods of intermittent (and sometimes continuous) fighting. One may argue that such training is dangerous, but without it I contended, our soldiers will continue to accidentally shoot themselves and each other with distressing frequency the moment they enter an area of active fighting.