Category Archives: skills

Standards (Part III – Who Sets the Standards?)

I won’t be wronged, I won’t be insulted, I won’t be laid a hand on. I don’t do these things to other people and I require the same from them.

–J.B. Books

When discussing Standards, we should keep in mind that Standards come from several sources.

  • Ourselves (personal standards)
  • Private Sector (social values and employment criteria)
  • Public Sector (legal requirements)

Of those, the standards we set for ourselves are the most important. For instance, I don’t drink if I’m driving. I enjoy having a cocktail but I either have one at home or in the company of a designated driver. That’s my personal standard. In most cases, I could probably ‘get away with’ driving home after I’ve had a drink. However, even if I wasn’t close to the legal limit of intoxication, alcohol consumption reduces the margin of safety I consider acceptable for operating a two ton potential manslaughter machine. Not only is my personal safety at stake but the safety of others. It’s the same reason we accept not handling firearms after consuming alcohol as personal and community standards; to maintain an acceptable margin of safety.

What are some other personal standards that might apply to aspects of personal protection and shooting? A few come to mind immediately:

  1. Know the rules (law) of where we live and places we travel to.
  2. Shoot only at positively identified threats.
  3. Shoot only in a manner we can make 100 percent hits on a threat, thus not endangering innocents downrange. Factors affecting this include:
    • Personal skill
    • Distance
    • Cadence (rate) of fire
    • Relationship of the weapon to the eye-target line

My presentation at the Rangemaster Tactical Conference last week was titled Strategies, Tactics, and Options for Personal Protection (STOPP). Since many of us were not from Arkansas, I asked the audience how many of them from out of state had researched the Arkansas statutes about the Use of Force and Deadly Force. Not everyone had. Researching this piece of information took me less than 30 seconds on my phone before I entered the State. Was it a prudent decision to do so? I think so.

Arkansas Code Title 5. Criminal Offenses § 5-2-607. Use of deadly physical force in defense of a person

I’ve harped quite a bit about Identifying Friend or Foe already so, for the moment, Point 2 requires no further elaboration . Please remember that the Flashlight Practice Session of Indoor Range Practice Sessions is available as a free download.

Let’s consider point 3. My colleague Darryl Bolke’s presentation at the Conference included an important tidbit about the rate of shooting. The LAPD SWAT Team, one of the most highly trained and experienced shooting units in the world, practices to shoot at .5 (½) seconds per shot, no faster. They do this regardless of whether they are on the square range, in the shoothouse, or in actual confrontations with criminals. Why? Because that’s the rate they can identify threats and make decisions about using or continuing to use (follow up shots) deadly force.

The Force Science Institute has found that it takes about .3 seconds or more for the ‘stop shooting’ decision. That’s considerably longer than the splits we consider important in the world of competition shooting. There is a tension inherent between those two situations.

We all like to consider ourselves to be responsible gunowners. Is it prudent for us to practice shooting faster than we can guarantee a hit and whether it’s necessary to shoot at all? That’s an open question in my mind. I shot the Match at the Conference very deliberately and relatively slowly. I’m okay with that. All my hits were exactly where I wanted them to be and nowhere else. In the measured environment, that’s now become my personal standard.

Claude, I’m haunted by that last shot because I don’t know where it went.

–A friend who is both an Expert competitive shooter and a practitioner of personal protection.

Going to public sector standards, a fear is periodically raised that the standard will be set too high for gunowners to meet. The State of Illinois was the last State in our Nation to allow concealed carry because its political elite has a pathological fear of firearms (hoplophobia) in the hands of private citizens. Consequently, that State makes an interesting case study regarding Standards for private citizens. Let’s compare the standards Ill-Annoy has established for police officers v. private citizens.

Tested Criterion Police Citizen
Rounds 30 30
Strings of fire 12 3
Furthest distance 15 yards 10 yards
Time Limits 6 – 10 seconds None
Target 8.5″ x 14″ (119 sq. in.) Entire B-27 (~700 sq. in.)
Starting Position Holster Ready
Hit Requirement 23/30 (77%) 21/30 (70%)

Strings of fire is a useful criterion to include because less skilled shooters tend to ‘walk’ their rounds into the center of the target during a longer string. Having more strings reduces the effectiveness of this technique and makes a given course of fire more difficult for an equal number of rounds fired.

The qualification requirements of some States are so low that a reasonably skilled shooter can literally pass them blindfolded. For instance, the State of Michigan requirement is to hit an 11×25 inch target (three sheets of paper) at four yards with five rounds, two times out of three tries, starting from a ready position. It should be noted that although this seems like a large target, it has roughly the same area as the FBI ‘Q’ target; 281 square inches v. 275 square inches, respectively. The fear of established marksmanship criteria being excessively high seems unfounded in reality.

It should also be noted that reflexively firing a number of rounds can be a legal liability. In the Mike Kimball case in Maine, the first shot was deemed by the medical examiner to be deadly. The two additional rounds fired by Kimball were raised as an issue by the Judge in his trial. Kimball was ultimately convicted of murder and will most likely spend the rest of his life in prison. There were additional factors in his conviction, but the number of shots was definitely a question.

A lawyer friend pointed out recently an aspect of the California jury instructions regarding self-defense cases. The wording can be interpreted to mean that shots fired after the threat has ceased could be viewed as excessive force and no longer reasonable self-defense. Whether we like it or not, the rules are the rules. We need to be cautious about parroting and then internalizing memes such as ‘shoot him to the ground.’

When you start [and continue] shooting at someone, you have to assume you’re going to kill them. That’s why we call it ‘deadly force.’ Doing so needs to be a decision not a reflex.

–The Tactical Professor

Make good decisions model

Should we settle for having mediocre personal standards and being able to only do the bare minimum? It’s true that ‘getting better is not for everyone.’ Especially if that is the case, having an objective benchmark of how we can and cannot perform is worthwhile information. That’s the main reason there is a benchmark test included in Indoor Range Practice Sessions. link to purchase all 24 Sessions

JB Books wont be wronged

Standards (Part II – Why)

A good man always knows his limitations.

–Inspector Harry Callahan

As early as the colonial times, it was recognized that shooting firearms is an athletic endeavor. Thomas Jefferson implied as much to his nephew, when he recommended shooting rather than “games played with the ball” as a pastime. In any physical endeavor, it’s useful to establish a benchmark. This concept applies in:

  • Medicine – what’s your blood pressure? Your doctor probably doesn’t just look at your face and decide if you have high blood pressure or not. A measurement is required. And that measurement is then evaluated in relation to established benchmarks for normal, pre‑hypertensive, or hypertensive conditions.
  • Sports – universally, sports rely on numerical performance indicators. A team would certainly not field a player without having looked at the player’s performance stats. While good stats are no guarantee of success on the playing field, poor stats are unlikely to lead to success.
  • Education – making acceptable grades is generally required to graduate from any educational institution. If your child went to a school that never evaluated performance, you probably would be unhappy about that. The general problem of that in our schools today is beyond the scope of this discussion. Suffice to say that any parent whose child can’t read but still is allowed to graduate from school should be very, very unhappy.

Avoiding Negative Outcomes is another key reason for why people might choose to have standards. This is where Dirty Harry’s statement comes into play. Two particular incidents come to mind as examples.

  • A woman in Mississippi shot and killed her husband with a handgun while trying to protect him from an attacking dog. One bullet missed the dog and struck the husband in the chest, killing him.
  • In Texas, a woman and her roommates were victims of a home invasion. When she fired her shotgun at the invaders, she missed them both but shot and seriously injured one of her roommates. This incident highlights a downside of owning a shotgun for home defense. There are few places those who live in urban or suburban areas can do any meaningful home defense practice with a shotgun.

“Weapons System” is a military buzzphrase that should be considered in the context of having standards. When a person picks up a firearm for personal protection, the combination of person and firearm become a ‘weapon system.’ Compatibility of the firearm with the person operating it is an important aspect of an appropriate choice.

  • What works for you? Although the Glock pistol is enormously popular, it’s not the right choice for everyone. The other side of the coin is that the snub nose .38 revolver often recommended for women isn’t necessarily the right choice either.
  • One of my colleagues somewhat rhetorically posed the question “What I shoot the best is a .22; is that what I should carry [or keep for home defense]?” That’s actually a really good question. If a person could only successfully shoot a very simple testing protocol with a .22, what’s the answer? Especially where senior citizens are concerned, how should they make a decision?

Psychology is yet another aspect of the standards decision. People like to think they know what they’re doing. Conversely, they don’t like not knowing what they’re doing. My friend and colleague Ken Hackathorn states a concept he calls Hackathorn’s Law.

You won’t do something under conditions of stress that you’re not subconsciously sure you can do reasonably well.

His Law has a distinct relationship to the concept of ‘Critical Distance’ in proxemics. Critical Distance is the distance at which pursued prey will turn and initiate a counter-attack against the predator. My analysis is that the North American subconscious Critical Distance is in the zone of 4-7 feet (the near phase of social space).

Proxemics

Diagram by WebHamster

Those familiar with the Tueller Principle will recognize that primal Critical Distance is only one-third of ‘too close.’ As the late Paul Gomez said, “We’re not teaching people to start shooting soon enough.” If a person never has an inkling of the standard they are capable of shooting to, most likely they will default to the primal Critical Distance.

Liability mitigation is sometimes cited as a reason for having standards. Other than as an unstated barrier to entry, standards have been mentioned as a way for issuing authorities to reduce their liability. To what extent this is actually true remains to be seen but it is stated as a reason.

A significant downside to standards is that encountering or testing them may force a conflict with a person’s ego. The Dunning-Kruger Effect is a well-recognized aspect of human nature. It’s the opposite side of the Hackathorn’s Law coin. As one shooter wryly observed,

Getting better is not for everyone.

If a person never tests what their skill level actually is, then this ego conflict is avoided. Many people are okay with that. Unless meeting a standard is mandated, it’s a personal decision.

Standards (A Series)

Standards (Part I – Introduction)

While I’ve been on hiatus, I’ve been thinking a great deal about Standards. The Free Dictionary lists the first noun definition of Standard as: An acknowledged measure of comparison for quantitative or qualitative value; a criterion.

In the area of personal protection, standards can apply to many different facets of our skills and body of knowledge. Standards imply measurement, something that many people are deathly afraid of. While ‘public speaking’ is often mentioned as being the most prominent fear, that is merely a subset of a larger body, individual performance measurement.

The most obvious and contentious type of standard regarding Private Citizens who own firearms is the concept of marksmanship standards. The discussion comes up regularly among the training and gun communities without any general consensus about what is appropriate. Generally, the topic revolves around Citizens who have some form of of License to carry a weapon. We should keep in mind that it can also apply to those who keep firearms for home defense.

Opinions vary widely about what standards are appropriate for those who carry weapons. On one end of the spectrum, some people feel there should be no standards at all. Rob Pincus of I.C.E. Training holds this view as do advocates of Constitutional Carry. On the other end of the spectrum, there are very difficult standards such as the FAST Drill developed by the late Todd Green, the Humbler popularized by Larry Vickers, or the Handgun Testing Program developed by Bill Rogers of the elite Rogers Shooting School.

In the middle are the Qualification tests used by many States as one of the prerequisites for obtaining a Weapons Carry License or whatever name the State puts on the card. For those who wish to carry a weapon in those States, the discussion of what standard is appropriate starts with what their State’s requirement is and how to meet it. No two States having a Qualification requirement are alike

The difficulty of these State Qualifications varies quite widely. Anywhere from 10 rounds to 50 rounds have been mandated. The distances shot at fluctuate from six feet to 15 yards. Some are timed but most are not. The targets may be large or much smaller. Interestingly, very few States have a test requirement that includes drawing from a holster. In fact, some States specifically prohibit the Qualification test from including drawing from a holster. While this might seem paradoxical, it is not because of liability and fairness issues.

What this series will explore is the various types of standards that exist, what skills are required to meet them, and how to choose what is appropriate for you, if anything.

People skills and personal protection

While reviewing some files in my reading list, I came across this gem. It’s from an article called The best advice for today’s music industry was written 80 years ago

In his closing keynote presentation [at the DIY Musicians Conference] called “How to Make an Extra $100,000 from Your Music Next Year,” Martin [Atkins] ran down a long list of creative cost-saving and money-making suggestions, peppered with commandments like “Don’t be an asshole” and “Whatever the fuck it is, get the fuck over it.”

At the heart of Martin’s talk, though, was this quote:

“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”

Dale Carnegie wrote that in 1936, in his book How to Win Friends and Influence People.

Martin’s first suggestion brought to mind a comment one of my first bosses in the real estate business made about one of the brokers in our office. “That guy needs to take a Dale Carnegie Course. Twice!”

Dale Carnegie Training has an excellent eBook abstract of Dale Carnegie’s writings available for download on its website. The eBook is called Dale Carnegie’s Secrets of Success. Here’s the link to it. I have two well-worn hard copies, from when it was called Dale Carnegie’s Golden Book, one of which I keep on my desk.

golden-book-nov

Secrets of Success is recommended reading for everyone, regardless of what you do or your personal philosophy. Those who are churned up about recent political events, on both ends of the spectrum, should take note especially.

What does Dale Carnegie have to do with personal protection? Let’s keep in mind that unlike natural disasters, personal protection against criminality involves a social transaction between two people. Those two people might be:

  • You and a Violent Criminal Actor
  • One of your loved ones and a Violent Criminal Actor
  • A trainer and you
  • You and someone you are trying to teach, either formally or informally
  • You and someone you are trying to influence to make decisions about personal protection

Since I am a trainer and educator, I’ll address the last two points first. Recently, a trainer and blogger posted a 4,128 word rant about numerous shortcomings an acquaintance of his had. The rant was very pompous and disdainful. Some of the shortcomings related to personal protection and some were general life ‘flaws.’ No doubt the trainer’s object was to give his readers some food for thought about how they might have shortcomings similar to the acquaintance’s. However, Atkins’ first comment, “Don’t be an asshole” immediately came to mind as I read it. The overall tone of the blogger’s post was “this guy’s an idiot and I’m sooooo much smarter and better than him.”

No one likes or is influenced by a pompous asshole. Unfortunately, I see a lot of pompous assholiness in the training community. I’m not immune to being that way, either.

The Be a Leader section of Secrets of Success makes several germane points.

  • Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly.
  • Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.
  • Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct.

Another aspect of the training community I often see is a lack of connection to the everyday lives that our students live. There are several worthwhile items from Secrets of Success in this regard.

Become a Friendlier Person

  • Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
  • Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.

Win People to Your Way of Thinking

  • Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.
  • Be sympathetic with the other person’s ideas and desires.
  • Throw down a challenge.

So, I’m going to throw down a challenge to the training community.

Get a job; a real job where you have to fill out a W-4 when you get hired. Just like the jobs your students have.

Right now is a golden opportunity, no pun intended. The end of the year is a relatively slow time for training and there are numerous seasonal positions available in the retail sector. Target, WalMart, and Sears, among others, are all hiring for temporary positions through the end of the year. If you don’t like wearing a uniform, Macy’s and other high end retailers are hiring and will give you an even better environment to test your hypotheses. Get a temporary job in a retail store for a couple of months. Walk a mile in your students’ moccasins while carrying the heater and all the gear you tell them to EDC. See how it works out for you.

If you get fired (or arrested) for a weapons violation or you decide you can’t carry all that crap while working and interacting with people all day without getting made, you owe me a drink. If you work at least 30 hours a week for six weeks in the retail environment with your full EDC loadout, I’ll buy you dinner. Full time sworn LEOs, 16 hours a week will fulfill the challenge. Totally on the honor system; I’ll accept whatever outcome you tell me you had.

In our Violent Criminal Actors class last month, William Aprill talked about the difference between odds and stakes. The payout odds for my offer are about 5 to 1 in your favor. The stakes; well that’s a different story.

Next time, we’ll discuss the relevance of people skills to The Deadly Mix and Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted 2015. Until then:

phil-esterhaus

 

 

A rant about rants

In the past week, friends have pointed me to several rants in the blogosphere about ‘deficiencies’ among gunowners. “They’re not physically fit enough,” “their technique sucks,” “there should be some training requirement before they can carry a gun,” etc. (I had a little they’re, their, there wordplay fun with that. 🙂 ) I’m no different; my Serious Mistakes articles and audios are my own rants about gunowner deficiencies.

star-wars-luke-lightsaber-in-eye-obi-wan-kenobi

The problem with rants is that they immediately turn off the target audience. No one likes to be told they’re a buffoon or inept. Serious Mistakes has been the second poorest selling information product I’ve ever created. So, ranting is just an exercise in futility. This post will be no different; “ranters gonna rant.” But if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem, so I’m going to offer an alternate viewpoint.

rooster-lip-balm

My colleague William Aprill periodically says that I tend to create ‘actionable’ material. That is indeed what I try to generate, material and programs that people can actually do step by step. Indoor Range Practice Sessions and the Pistol Practice Program are examples of that. Even Serious Mistakes has some ideas in it about how to not shoot your finger off or forget your pistol in a public restroom.

For those in the blogosphere who feel like tearing off on a rant, here’s a possible structure for your rant.

  1. Here’s the problem. (No more than two paragraphs).
  2. This is a possible solution. (One paragraph)
  3. The first step to implementing the solution is….
  4. Further steps in the solution are….
  5. It’s going to take XXX amount of time and XXX amount of resources to make the solution work long term.
  6. A journey of 1,000 miles (or 1,000 Days) begins with one step (or one practice session.) –Lao Tsu

While you’re crafting your rant, also keep in mind the limitations your audience has that you might not. If someone’s been overweight all their life, they’re unlikely to drop a bunch of weight just because there’s a rant about them needing to. (More their, they’re, there wordplay fun.) Keep your solution within the realm of reachable reality. (Some alliteration wordplay.)

burger-king-mushroom-and-swiss-big-king-new-5-bill-large-10

It’s common to talk about constructive criticism but its implementation is often forgotten. Where our own perceptions are concerned, we’re likely to forget we were beginners or uninformed or not up to snuff at one time, too. (Did it again.) Think that there are ways that you can help your target audience achieve their goals instead of just telling them they’re one of the Three Stooges (there, their, they’re and alliteration wordplay fun all in the same sentence.)

three-stooges-wallpapers

Thanks for reading this. I doubt it will do any good but I had fun writing it. As General of the Armies John J. Pershing said “An officer is responsible for his own morale.” Wordplay and philosophy are two things I don’t get to indulge in very much at the keyboard.

pershing

And no, I didn’t have a drink for breakfast. I’m saving that for lunch.

soup-whiskey

Indoor Range Flashlight Practice Session

Someone who purchased Indoor Range Practice Sessions noticed a discrepancy in Session 11 (shooting with a flashlight).

I’ve updated the downloadable eBook for future purchases, but I want existing customers to have the update also. Accordingly, I created a downloadable file with Session 11 only.

As most of my readers know, using a flashlight to avoid tragedies is one of my hot buttons. It’s important enough information that I am going to make the updated Session 11 only available as a free download to all my blog followers, as well as previous purchasers.

The link to the updated Session 11 is here: Session 11 – Shooting with a flashlight

1000 Days of Practice (Part III)

Many people find it difficult to dryfire every day because they don’t have access to a firearm. Airline pilots and business people whose job require frequent air travel have a hard time of it. There are different ways of dealing with it.

The first would be to practice every day you do have access to your firearm and start counting. Doing that means you wouldn’t have a consecutive progression of the 1,000 Days but you would still get in 1,000 Days, it would just take longer.

Another approach would be to broaden the focus of your practice, as I mentioned in Part I. That’s one reason I entitled this series 1,000 Days of Practice.

Other skills appropriate to personal protection could be included as part of your mission statement for the 1,000 Days. This wouldn’t be 1,000 Days of Dryfire but it could be 1,000 Days of Personal Protection practice. Many of the most important Personal Protection Skills are soft skills that don’t require equipment to practice. Some that come to mind are:

  • situational awareness
  • the decision-making process
  • incident analysis
  • wargaming and decision exercises
  • proxemics, and
  • human communication and interaction

The memory aid I use for personal protection is RADAR.

  • Ready – being prepared, mentally and physically
    • knowledge,
    • skills,
    • tools
  • Aware – eyes on the horizon, ears not plugged up
    • Where am I?,
    • Who is around me?,
    • What are they doing?,
    • What is going on?,
    • Points Of Likely Concealment
    • What is wrong in my right world?
  • Decide – based on your decision criteria
    • options,
    • priorities, and
    • the situation
  • Act – do what you need to do
  • Ready Again – be ready for your plan to need adjustment or the police to arrive.

Dryfire is one component of the Ready stage but it’s certainly not the only one. Understanding the criminal mindset and their methods of operation is also key. How about spending a few minutes periodically reviewing criminal victimizations that occurred to others and wargaming how to either avoid or deal with the situation? I have taken this so far as to go on a field trip to the location of a particularly bad incident and actually observe the lay of the land.

Moe’s Package store robbery 

moes1_1117344a

There are games that smart cops used to play to tune up their situational awareness. How common they are anymore, I don’t know. For instance, when in a waiting area, look around the room, then close your eyes and try to describe everyone in the room; clothes, height, weight, etc. That would be Aware practice.

Or, let’s say you encountered something that caused your to Alert and then realized it wasn’t a problem. You could mentally wargame what you thought the original problem and your solution. Take it all the way through to Ready Again, including your interaction with the authorities afterward.

There are many different ways to approach the 1,000 Days and tailor the focus to your personal needs and circumstances.

I’ll be going through a more in-depth explanation of RADAR, including some decision exercises, in the Violent Criminals and You class that William Aprill and I are teaching next month. William will be giving his extensive presentation on the criminal mindset and how differently criminals think.

Indoor Range Practice Sessions

In response to queries and comments about the Pistol Practice Program, I have created a downloadable eBook called Indoor Range Practice Sessions. It is structured as a PDF eBook that you can download to your smartphone or tablet and take with you to the range. That way you always have your practice session with you. Most (99%) gunowners only have access to an indoor range, so the Sessions are designed with this limitation in mind.

The book contains 12 Practice Sessions and 12 Courses of Fire from various States for their weapons carry licensing process. The Sessions are designed to progressively increase in difficulty so when done in sequence they challenge shooters without overwhelming them. The Courses of Fire were chosen to be complementary to a respective Practice Session. Each Session or Course of Fire is 50 rounds or less. They are all structured to maximize the effectiveness of your range time. It also contains sections on:

  • Four Rules of Safe Gunhandling
  • Gripping the Autoloading Pistol Properly
  • Trigger Manipulation
  • Using the Sights
  • Use of Force philosophy
  • and more!

There are considerably more restrictions placed on shooters at indoor ranges than at outdoor ranges. These Sessions were designed with those restrictions in mind. For example, most indoor ranges do not allow drawing from the holster, so the Sessions work on the general idea that no drawing is possible. Similarly, multiple target arrangements are not possible when shooting in a booth at an indoor range, so the Sessions do not include multiple targets.

IL Course

These Sessions are intended for people who have purchased a firearm for personal protection. They are directed toward newer gunowners; however, ‘newer’ is a relative term. Many people who have owned, and perhaps shot, firearms for years aren’t as proficient as they think they are. Being a hunter, military veteran, security guard, or even police officer is no guarantee of being competent with a pistol. The difference in contexts is huge and often misunderstood.

Learning to shoot is an ongoing process. A misunderstanding that people have is thinking they can take a short training course, attend a seminar, or read a book and then feel they are ‘trained’ or ‘knowledgeable.’ Nothing could be further from the truth. We can only absorb so much information at one time. If we don’t practice what we’ve learned, that skill or knowledge slips away quickly. Repetitive reinforcement of our learning is key to developing and maintaining skill.

The eBook is available for download HERE.

Dryfire drills and objectives

Over the years, I have designed dozens of different dryfire drills for my practice sessions. The first was for a dryfire VHS tape that I produced almost 20 years ago. Frankly, the session and the tape weren’t that good but it was a start. I just kept creating and refining more of them. Now I have a menu of options to choose from each day. Most of them are recordings that I have on my computer and/or my cell phone.

Having a library of pre-made sessions accomplishes a number of things for me.

  • Keeps me from getting bored. Since I’m close to finishing my second run of 1000 Days of Dryfire, that’s really important. Let’s face it, having to do the same thing for 1000 days would make it hard to complete the 1000 days. It’s human nature to get bored and we need to accept and anticipate that.
  • Having some short sessions makes the 1000 days manageable. A number of my regimens are less than 5 minutes, including setup. Otherwise, I’d probably end up missing a day due to scheduling, fatigue, or other factors. If you want to design some longer sessions like Ben Stoeger or Steve Anderson, that’s great. It’s good practice and I encourage it. However, you should have at least two ready sessions of five minutes or less duration that you can fall back on when you’re busy or tired.
  • If you’re a little fatigued, doing a short session helps prevent practicing bad form. Better to get 30 quality reps and end it there rather than doing a longer session and overlaying 70 bad reps on top of 30 good ones.
  • Designing short sessions helps me re-focus my long term goals periodically. I shot IDPA heavily for over a decade and a half.  During that time, my dryfire sessions were designed around that activity. Doing a lot of dryfire was one of things that helped me win six State Championships. When I became the Chief Instructor at the elite Rogers Shooting School, I created sessions that were more in tune with the skills I demonstrated and taught there. Now that I have become focused on Decision-Making and avoiding Serious Mistakes, my sessions revolve around those objectives.
  • Two or three short sessions can be combined into a longer one. For instance, I could combine a timed accuracy oriented session, such as the one I created based on the LAPD Bonus Course, with a Serious Mistakes session, such as flashlight practice.

Think about your goals and what the skills that relate to them are. There are numerous references about dryfire on the Internet and YouTube. My colleague Greg Ellifritz made some very pertinent comments to me recently.

It’s so easy to be good at shooting in today’s world.  It takes so little effort to obtain knowledge that was completely cutting edge (and not disseminated outside a very tight knit group of professionals) 25 years ago. A simple google search will provide all the information that took me 10-15 years of constant study to learn.

Just be sure to vet your sources to be sure that it’s not some goober who thinks pointing a pistol at a student’s face, or worse, shooting them, is okay or excusable.

Creating dryfire recordings

A friend of mine emailed me the following question.

Claude, what device do you use to make a digital audio recording? How do you transfer the digital recording to your computer?

I had mentioned to him the recording I recently made for an Enhanced Standard version, i.e., not so easy I could pass it blindfolded, of the State of Ill-Annoy Police Qualification Course. I made the recording for dryfire practice but I could use it for livefire, too.

One of the few apps I have on my phone is an audio recorder called Mini Recorder Free.  I have a Windows phone but the app is also available for Android. It’s very easy to use and records the input as MP3 files.

First, I look at a course of fire and write a script for the recording. When I’m happy with the script, I record the narration of the course of fire, usually as one file. Where the beeps are supposed to go, I say ‘beep beep’ as a place marker.

Then I record the beeps from my CED 6000 timer by putting the microphone next to the timer. Each of the different times is recorded as a single set of beeps. I can insert each beep file multiple times into the narrative, where that’s appropriate.

I connect my phone to my computer and copy the narrative and beep files to the computer. Finally, I edit them together with Wavepad Sound Editor,  which I downloaded from the Internet. Undesirable noises get edited out and I standardize the spacing between the stages so there’s enough time to re-holster, change hands, or do other preparatory work for each string.

Since I don’t have a 15 yard range in my apartment, I create reduced scale targets to use for dryfire. I create the targets by scaling them with Excel.

7 foot range

A reduced scale target also allows me to conceal my target when I’m not dryfiring, which is something I believe in very strongly. The 12 shot drill is on the back of my wall hanging.

ISP 1600x900

On some of my recordings, I substitute a gunshot sound for the start beep. It just depends on how involved I want to make the recording. For my dryfire recording of the LAPD Bonus Course, I downloaded an audio file of the actual course being shot on the LAPD range. I had to clean that one up a lot but it’s fun to dryfire to because there’s all the range noise, LAPD Rangemaster commands (which sound like a subway conductor), sounds of empty magazines hitting the ground, and gunfire in the background. That’s as close as I can get to an actual range experience in my living room dryfire practice area.

A few of the recordings stay on my phone to use when I’m traveling. I also keep a PDF of the target on my phone so I can print it if I forget to take one along. It fits on one page so it’s easy to print in a motel business center. ISP 7 foot target

At this year’s Rangemaster Tactical Conference, someone mentioned wrapping a zip tie with a piece of colored duct tape on it as a safety insert. It’s a great idea and I’m using that now along with the Rogers Tap-Rack-Trainer. A round can’t be chambered with the tie in place. No disassembly of the gun necessary to put it in and it’s easy to take out, too. A bag of 8 inch ties costs about $2. The zip tie isn’t a snap cap, though, so keep that in mind.

Ziptie insert

The audio recording of the ISP Course I created is available as a download for 99 cents on my CDBaby store if you don’t feel like doing all that. There are a number of other recordings of interest, too.