Category Archives: planning

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.

Dry Practice on the Road

#safetysunday

When traveling, we can still do our dry practice. In fact, it may be more important when traveling than any other time. We’re more vulnerable and lack the underlying knowledge of our surroundings that we have during our usual activities in our home area.

Since we’re not at home, some of our usual safety protocols may not be available to us. For instance, our usual safe practice area is no longer available to us. Also, if our home practice regimen involves using a target that is generally concealed unless we are practicing, that will not be an option.

These limitations mean we have to use alternate safety protocols for our dry practice. Having an Unintentional Discharge in a motel room or in the home of a friend or relative will certainly lead to a Negative Outcome. Anyone who has run a major firearms training facility has stories of clients who had UDs in their motel rooms and the consequences. At the very least, the POlice will become involved to some extent. At worst, someone is killed and the consequences are grave. Having a UD in a friend or relative’s home may not result in POlice involvement but is unlikely to have a positive effect on the relationship.

Some of our home protocols can be modified but still used to some extent. The most important thing to remember is that safety protocols have the same importance when we are on the road as when we are at home.

In terms of the practice area, we want to choose the least dangerous direction for our practice. Depending on the nature of the building’s construction, a bullet resistant wall simply may not be available. In that case, we must choose the direction that is least likely to result in a casualty if a round is fired. A bullet hole in a door that opens out to a brick wall has less consequences than a bullet hole in a guest in an adjoining room. Consider carefully where an errant bullet might go before choosing your practice direction.

Next, use a target. A sheet of paper with a heart drawn on it is a good target for a ‘3 shots in 3 seconds at 3 yards’ Even more about Skill Development practice regimen. Putting a few small spots on it provides targets for precision aiming and trigger practice work.

A few easily carried training aids are useful for ensuring safe practice with a revolver. The first is inert ammunition. Three different types of inert ammunition are easily carried in an 18 round MTM Ammo case. The Ammo Case is itself a part of the safety protocols.

The first training aid is snap caps. Different varieties are available. If the primer pocket isn’t filled, such as with the ST-Action Pro inert ammo, you can fill the pockets in with a hot melt glue gun and trim the excess off. This will protect the firing pin or hammer nose of your revolver. Good snap caps are easily identifiable by their color. A-Zoom has recently started making their snap caps in orange, which are more identifiable when loaded in a blue steel gun than the darker A-Zoom offering. The spring loaded primer type of snap caps have a limited service life and are not recommended for serious practice.

After unloading the revolver, replace the live ammunition with snap caps. Since two objects cannot fit in the same place at the same time, this precludes leaving one live round in the cylinder, which is not an unknown occurrence, as gunowners sometimes discover. After the snap caps have been loaded into the revolver, put the live ammunition in the Ammo Case and count the number of rounds. If the rounds you place in the case are less in number than the capacity of your revolver, the FBI calls that ‘a clue.’

A second training aid is full weight dummies for reloading practice. Snap caps are a good safety aid and for protecting the revolver, however, they usually lack the weight necessary for effective reloading practice. Dummy ammo should be easily identifiable, which is often a problem with homemade dummies. The dummies in the picture were made from Blazer Aluminum cases scrounged from a local indoor range. The bullet noses and cartridge base are colored blue with a Magic Marker for additional visual identification.

The third training aid is fired cases. Reload practice with revolvers should always include getting the empty cases out in addition to reloading with fresh ammo/dummies. A new speedloader manufacturer that was displaying at the SHOT Show years ago failed to consider this in their demonstration. When asked how the empty cases were to be ejected while holding the revolver in one hand and the speedloader in the other, a blank stare was the only answer.

A pistol case is another training aid for practice on the road. The pistol case is for placing the pistol in after the practice session has been finished and the gun reloaded.

The sequence for finishing the session is:

  1. Declare out loud “This session is finished.”
  2. Take the target down.
  3. Remove whatever snap caps/dummies/fired cases are in the gun.
  4. Set the gun down completely empty.
  5. Again, declare out loud “This session is finished.”
  6. Load the pistol with live ammunition.
  7. Place the loaded pistol in the pistol case. The case does not have to be complete zipped but should be at least partially. This is a visual and situational indicator that the gun is loaded and not available for practice.
  8. Do something else to remove dry practice from your thoughts.

Reading something dry and difficult is a good way to remove dry practice from your thoughts.

Keeping an awareness of safety in mind allows us to maintain our proficiency on the road without menacing innocent people around us.

The circumstances of Unintentional Discharges at home are covered as the third Section of Real Shootouts of the LAPD. Off-duty Officer Involved Shootings and Officer Involved Animal Shootings are the first two. If you would like to purchase the book, click on the cover below.

Nuances

The Spirit of the Bayonet

The Guard Position

“The will to meet and destroy the enemy in hand-to-hand combat is the spirit of the bayonet. It springs from the fighter’s confidence, courage, and grim determination, and is the result of vigorous training. Through training, the fighting instinct of the individual soldier is developed to the highest point. The will to use the bayonet first appears in the trainee when he begins to handle it with facility, and increases as his confidence grows. The full development of his physical prowess and complete confidence in his weapon culminates in the final expression of the spirit of the bayonet — fierce and relentless destruction of the enemy.”

Field Manual 23-25 Bayonet –October 1943 edition

Note the subtle distinction between the ‘spirit’ of the bayonet, “The will to meet and destroy the enemy in hand-to-hand combat” and the ‘final expression’ of the spirit of the bayonet, “fierce and relentless destruction of the enemy.” The first is philosophical, the second operational.

Recognizing how to put a concept into operation is an important step in turning information into knowledge. For instance, how can we operationalize the “O-O-D-A Loop?” My colleague Melody Lauer once asked me:

How do I use the OODA Loop? That’s not clear to me.

At the time, I didn’t have a good answer for her.

Now, I would say that the basis for making Boyd’s process operational is to dig deep into Orient. Boyd himself said:

Orientation is the schwerpunkt. It shapes the way we interact with the environment–hence orientation shapes the way we observe, the way we decide, the way we act. [emphasis mine] –Organic Design for Command and Control, slide 16

“I’ll shoot anyone I find in my house” is an example of an input to Orientation, probably a Cultural Heritage artifact from English common law of centuries ago. When we acquire New Information through training, observation, or experience, that also becomes an input to our Orientation. Then comes the hard part, Analysis / Synthesis. All the other inputs to Orientation coalesce through Analysis / Synthesis into decision-making that occurs ahead of an incident rather than during the incident. We may need to modify the plan and decisions as an incident unfolds, but that’s much easier and faster to do than making a plan up on the spot.

Examining, expanding, and integrating all of our Orientation inputs is what allows us to ‘make’ good decisions quickly. When we have formed a solid Orientation, we are actually not making decisions in the moment, rather we are ‘choosing’ from a menu of pre-made decisions available to us because we’ve already considered the benefits, objectives, and consequences and made a rational decision about what’s in our best interests. It’s how we avoid making Serious Mistakes. http://seriousgunownermistakes.com/

My thanks to Melody and Joseph Edward Timbs for provoking me to write this post. Also thanks to Steve Moses, Shawn Vincent, and Don West of CCWSafe for inviting me to participate in a thought provoking podcast about the topic.

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.

Riding Shotgun With Charlie

#mindsetmonday

I almost never listen to podcasts I’ve been a guest on, which is probably a mistake. Since Charlie put the clip of me with my long gun (Zombie MP5) in his intro, I had to listen to this one, though.

RSWC CW with MP5 airsoft

There’s a lot of good information in this episode that doesn’t usually get touched on in the industry. I’m very happy that Charlie gave me the opportunity to share it with the community.

e.g. My father used to say to me ‘son, you’re much more sophisticated about this than I am’ and I want my clients eventually to be more sophisticated about this than I am.

The Negative Outcomes mentioned are detailed extensively in my book Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make http://seriousgunownermistakes.com/ .

The LAPD Retired Officer Course and numerous other courses that can be practiced at both indoor and outdoor ranges is in my book Indoor Range Practice Sessions http://indoorrangepracticesessions.com

Chasing and shooting

Chasing a criminal after they have attempted to break contact is not the way to set yourself up for success. Shooting the criminal at the conclusion of the chase is a good way to end up in prison. It’s common enough to be one of the 11 categories of Negative Outcomes in Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make. https://store.payloadz.com/details/2617872-ebooks-true-crime-serious-mistakes-gunowners-make.html

A Miami man who allegedly chased an unarmed burglar and shot him several times as he begged for his life is facing an attempted murder charge.

https://nypost.com/2020/12/04/miami-man-charged-with-attempted-murder-after-shooting-burglar/

Prior planning prevents poor performance. If you have a firearm for Personal Protection, don’t just think about the incident, plan for the aftermath.

Have a plan

As the late William Aprill was fond of saying,

Spontaneity is overrated.

“That’s what heart surgery is,” he said with a soft laugh. “It’s a script. To you, it probably looked like I was just sewing those collars into Meeko’s chest any old way. But every motion was planned, tested, practiced. Turn my hand eight degrees and poke the needle through; swivel my hand back 22 degrees and draw the needle up four inches; turn my hand back just so and bring it to the left a half inch: a precise number of stitches, pulled just so tight and no tighter. What heart surgery takes is remembering an incredibly long and complicated script and following it exactly, step by step.”

https://getpocket.com/explore/item/no-pulse-how-doctors-reinvented-the-human-heart

The idea of having a script, i.e., a very specific game plan, doesn’t just apply to heart surgery. One of the learned aspects of firearms competition is to develop a plan ahead of time and then follow it through.

https://www.20min.ch/story/schusswechsel-nach-einbruch-in-geschaeft-eine-person-verletzt-108142673425

The quaint Google translate version of the story’s precis reads:

That’s what it’s about

* On Friday [note that the incident actually occurred the previous Wednesday] night there was an exchange of fire between the owner of a gun shop and burglars who had tried to gain access to his shop in Wallbach AG [Switzerland].

* What the perpetrators did not expect: The owner is a marksman and former Swiss champion in dynamic shooting [IPSC].

* One person was injured in the shooting. The POlice assume that this is one of the perpetrators, as no injuries were found on site.

Whether it’s IPSC, IDPA, GSSF, ICORE or some other form of competition is largely irrelevant. What is important is the concept of having a game plan ahead of time and then putting it into action when you get the ‘GO’ signal.

Another ‘Worst Possible Case’ – Interrupting a Murderer

As I have commented before, there is no single ‘Worst Possible Case.’ Several news outlets reported the murder of an entrepreneur and venture capitalist this past Monday (7/13/2020). The murder occurred in his expensive ($2.25 million) high rise condo in New York City. It was a gruesome crime with the apparent intent to ‘disappear’ the victim.

https://nypost.com/2020/07/14/decapitated-dismembered-body-found-in-nyc-apartment/

There are several pertinent points but one that is seldom talked about is our reaction to finding a body. We have no idea what a killer’s timeline is nor even if the killer is still present or nearby.

Another source added it appeared that the killer had been “interrupted.”

A working theory is that because the body parts were still present and the saw still plugged in, the murderer hadn’t finished with the grisly task of dismemberment. Although the victim was attacked and most likely killed early Monday afternoon, his relative (either sister or cousin, the reports conflict) discovered the body on Tuesday afternoon. All things considered, the ‘cleaning up’ may have been going on for over a day.

wolfe cleanup

Probably the best Course of Action upon discovering a body is to RUN the other way as fast as you can and when in a safe place, call the POlice. Secondarily, if you are armed, be prepared to engage the killer without hesitation. If they’ve already killed someone else, they may not think twice about trying to kill you.

Note also the macabre, but most likely unintentional, dark humor of the POlice describing the decapitated victim as “unconscious and unresponsive.”

https://www.smh.com.au/world/north-america/founder-of-ride-hailing-app-gokada-found-dismembered-in-new-york-apartment-20200716-p55cgn.html

As is often the case, follow the money to the alleged murderer.

https://www.cnn.com/2020/07/17/us/fahim-saleh-killing/index.html

To avoid any confusion, I won’t list my books in this post because they’re not free. If you would be interested in purchasing any of my shooting workbooks for handgun or rifle, they are available from the menu at the top of the page. As the American Insurgency escalates, you may find having a functional knowledge of the weapons you own to be useful.

‘I live in a nice neighborhood’

This week, a 50-year-old transient man (aka bum) was sentenced to 141 years to life in state prison after being convicted for a 2014 crime spree in the high end Pacific Palisades neighborhood of Los Angeles.

https://da.lacounty.gov/media/news/man-sentenced-carjacking-kidnapping-pacific-palisades-crime-spree

scumbag-BRIAN-THOMAS-CRUZ

Note from his picture that he was already a violent bad actor. The criminal used a box cutter as his weapon for this series of crimes. The crime spree occurred on August 11, 2014. He was sentenced on July 6, 2020.

There were three crime scenes in the high end neighborhood where the day’s drama began on a sunny Monday morning at 7:45 a.m. First, there was a home invasion in an apartment complex, which currently has a rental rate of $4,800 per month. After two subsequent crashes, including a second car that he carjacked, he invaded a home which currently has an estimated value of $2,705,500. In that home, he threatened the female occupant and stole the occupants’ Lexus.

Lessons to be Learned

Keep your doors closed and locked. Have a plan and be ready for unwelcome visitors. Serious crime knows no borders, regardless of how nice your neighborhood is.

Tactical Professor books (all PDF) (not Free)

Conducting a Defense – Terrain Analysis for the Homeowner

The AR-15 rifle has become popular as a tool for Home Defense. However, there hasn’t been much discussion about how to use rifles to deal with deadly threats outside and yet threatening one’s home. The escalation of Civil Disorder has heightened our awareness of a broader range of necessary home defense. Conceptually, this might be considered FORWARD Home Defense.

One of the first aspects of preparing for such a Forward Defense is to conduct a terrain analysis of the area outside the home. This analysis should consider both the Area of Influence (where a homeowner could actually disrupt an attack) and the Area of Interest (where a homeowner could detect an attacker’s intent outside of the Area of Influence.) We can use the Terrain component of METT-TC as a structure for our terrain analysis. The 1992 edition of Field Manual 7-8 INFANTRY RIFLE PLATOON AND SQUAD https://www13.shu.edu/offices/rotc/upload/FM-7-8.pdf describes the analysis as follows:

(3) Terrain. The leader considers the effect of terrain and weather on enemy and friendly forces using the guidelines below (OCOKA):

(a) Observation and fields of fire. The leader considers ground that allows him observation of the enemy throughout his area of operation. He considers fields of fire in terms of the characteristics of the weapons available to him; for example, maximum effective range, the requirement for grazing fire, and the arming range and time of flight for antiarmor weapons.

(b) Cover and concealment. The leader looks for terrain that will protect him from direct and indirect fires (cover) and from aerial and ground observation (concealment). (Author’s note: Cover and Concealment also applies to what the Enemy might use.)

(c) Obstacles. In the attack, the leader considers the effect of restrictive terrain on his ability to maneuver. In the defense, he considers how he will tie in his obstacles to the terrain to disrupt, turn, fix, or block an enemy force and protect his own forces from enemy assault.

(d) Key terrain. Key terrain is any locality or area whose seizure or retention affords a marked advantage to either combatant. The leader considers key terrain in his selection of objectives, support positions, and routes in the offense, and on the positioning of his unit in the defense.

(e) Avenues of approach. An avenue of approach is an air or ground route of an attacking force of a given size leading to its objective or key terrain in its path. In the offense, the leader identifies the avenue of approach that affords him the greatest protection and places him at the enemy’s most vulnerable spot. In the defense, the leader positions his key weapons along the avenue of approach most likely to be used by the enemy.

(f) Weather. In considering the effects of weather, the leader is most interested in visibility and trafficability.

Some aspects of the terrain analysis may surprise you. For instance, Google Maps can be used to measure distances around your home. You might find that the distance from your front porch to the furthest Avenue of Approach and Point of Likely Cover is 236 feet (79 yards).

Doing a terrain analysis gives you an idea of the area you need to defend and also what tools you might use to defend the approaches to your home.

There will be further explanation on my Patreon page https://www.patreon.com/TacticalProfessor but this is worthwhile food for thought to start.

Tactical Professor books (all PDF)