Tag Archives: decision making

Another visit to John Boyd and OODA

A friend of mine shared a memory of this article on Facebook. I’m glad that he did.

Putting Orient Back into OODA

I’ve evolved my thinking about Orient to include more nuance but the article is still a good primer on the depth of Boyd’s concept and how we can and should apply it.

“Orientation is the schwerpunkt [focal point]. It shapes the way we interact with the environment—hence orientation shapes the way we observe, the way we decide, the way we act.”

— John R. Boyd, Organic Design for Command and Control (1987)

Orient tactical basic inputs 2

And please keep in mind that it does a disservice to Colonel Boyd’s ideas when they are reduced to a simplistic four point circular diagram.

OODA loop NO


1000 Days of Practice (Part II)

An implied task, the first time of the 1,000 days, was simply devising a way of getting through it. To avoid boredom and make the process efficient, I recorded cassette tapes of several different regimens. The regimens were all based on my needs at the time, which mostly consisted of improving my competitive performance in IDPA and other shooting sports. I limited them to 10 minutes duration so I had compact practice blocks. When I wanted more practice, I could do more than one in a day, sometimes consecutively and sometimes one in the morning and one in the evening.

Having a specific structure for my practice also helped avoid ‘grabasstic gunclicking,’ which as a friend said, is what dryfire often devolves to. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I had inadvertently incorporated one of fundamentals of tactical decision-making; have a plan ahead of time. My decision-making research of the past few years made the value of having several practice regimens available quite obvious to me. John Boyd’s Aerial Attack Study was instrumental in providing me with this moment of clarity.

My regimens of the second 1,000 Days are considerably different than those of the first. Several of the regimens are based on higher level police qualification courses, such as the Federal Air Marshal Tactical Pistol Course (pre 9/11) and the LAPD Bonus Course. While most police qualification courses are easily cleaned by a competent marksman, a few are much more demanding and I prefer that.

In other cases, I took police quals that had a good basic structure but mediocre standards and enhanced them. My favorite is the State of Illinois Police Qualification Couse. For the armed private citizen, the distances and round allocations are good but the standards are so low that some of my friends in Ill‑Annoy can literally pass it with their eyes closed. The enhancements I made were to make the target smaller, cut the times in half, and do parts of it Primary Hand Only and Support Hand Only.

Being a fan of the NRA Markmanship Qualification Program, I developed dryfire versions of both Defensive Pistol I and Defensive Pistol II. The time limits set for these courses are quite generous but they have an accuracy standard of 100 percent. Since we’re accountable for every round we fire, I like the idea of a strong accuracy standard, in general.

DPI table

In a defensive encounter, every bullet you fire that doesn’t hit its intended target is headed straight for a bus full of nuns and orphans being followed by a limousine of personal injury lawyers on a conference call with the District Attorney.

There are also some improvisations I like to make. My research into Serious Mistakes and Negative Outcomes made me a believer in the absolute necessity of verbalizing and being able to use a flashlight in conjunctions with a handgun. I usually dryfire something like Defensive Pistol I using a flashlight at least once a week.

cheek technique

One of the concepts I retained from my first 1,000 Days was making a good hit with the first shot. There’s too much emphasis placed on shooting fast in the community and not enough on making sure the first shot counts. Based on the incidents in my databases, I came to the conclusion that making a solid first hit above the diaphragm is the way to gain the initiative in an armed encounter.

Then I told myself, ‘Hey, I need to slow down and aim better.’

What if your situation or job precludes you from having access to a firearm every day? Some thoughts about that in Part III.



Problem solving v. decision-making

In the context of personal protection, I find this highly relevant.

Never bring the problem solving stage into the decision making stage. Otherwise, you surrender yourself to the problem rather than the solution.

– Robert H. Schuller: American pastor, motivational speaker

From Nightingale-Conant

How does that apply to us?

“I’m going to shoot anyone I find in my house.” That’s repeated so much by gunowners, it has become a meme. It’s a perfect example of bringing problem solving (gunfire) into the decision process (how to best protect my home and, by extension, my family). As I bring up on a regular basis, doing so periodically results in Negative Outcomes.

We make many decisions ahead of time, and that’s generally a good thing. What we have to be careful of is thinking like a hammer in search of a nail.


Course Announcement

I am pleased to announce the opening of registration for:

Violent Criminals and YOU: A Thinker’s Approach to Decisions about Personal and Family Protection

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

— The Art of War by Sun Tzu [Giles translation]

  • How do violent criminals think of us and how do they target us?
  • What do we need to do to avoid or counter their attacks?

This course is a collaboration between myself and eminent mental health professional, William Aprill. We have designed a course about personal protection that is intended for your brain rather than your trigger finger. William will be presenting his material about Violent Criminal Actors, how they think, and how your mindset preparation can position you to defeat them. I will be covering Strategies, Tactics, and the decision-making process with particular emphasis on avoiding Serious Mistakes and Negative Outcomes.

Defensive awareness is rooted in the realization of risk. Defensive preparation adds the commitment to prevent or mitigate threats. The objective of this course is for each student to unify those two elements into defensive decision-making strategies and tactics appropriate to their individual needs. The goal is that an actual life-threatening scenario will not be the first time participants have honestly faced and decided what will be necessary to survive and thrive in the aftermath.

Topics of the course

  • Understanding Violent Criminal Actors (VCAs) (WTA)
  • Strategies, Tactics, and Options for Personal Protection (STOPP) (CW)
  • The 5 W’s of Risk: Constructing an Effective Pre-Need Defense Paradigm (WTA)
  • The Environment of Decision-Making: Structure and Pitfalls (CW)
  • How VCAs Identify their Victims (WTA)
  • Decision-making drills – Recognition, Timing, and Triggers (CW)
  • Kidnapping/Abduction concepts used by VCAs (WTA)
  • Scenario based decision-making exercises based on actual events (CW)

Course details

October 8-9, 2016 – two full days of training

Classroom only, no shooting or physical contact involved

Norcross, Georgia

$400 for the weekend. Lodging, meals, etc. not included.

Registration available at:

Registration link

Bios of the Instructors

William Aprill is a licensed mental health professional with over 19 years’ experience across the continuum of clinical care. He presently maintains a private practice and consultancy specializing in post-traumatic interventions and other disciplines. William is a former deputy sheriff (Orleans Parish, LA, Criminal Sheriff’s Office) and Special Deputy US Marshal (Eastern District of Louisiana). He has presented his material on violent criminals and their decision-making, defensive incident aftermath, mindset development and defensive preparedness at numerous conferences and events throughout the country.

Claude Werner is a retired Army Officer who spent the majority of his career in Special Operations and Intelligence. Post military, he was Research Director of three commercial real estate firms and eventually became the National Director of Real Estate Research for Deloitte. He has been an NRA Certified Instructor in six disciplines for 25 years. For five years, he was the Chief Instructor of the most difficult shooting school in the world, the elite Rogers Shooting School, where he taught numerous Special Operations units and SWAT police officers. He blogs as The Tactical Professor. www.tacticalprofessor.com


“William Aprill is one of the most important thinkers in the defensive shooting world today. His insight into what makes criminal attackers ‘tick’, as well as his understanding of the psychological aspects of training and response, are valuable to everyone who has a firearm for personal defense.”

— Grant Cunningham, Personal Security Institute

“Claude is one of the deepest thinkers in the training community.”

— Rob Pincus, Personal Defense Network

“The gun is certainly a wonderful and very powerful tool, but it’s not wise to pin your survival strategies entirely upon the possession of that tool. [William] arms you with information. Critical crucial knowledge that may not be needed every day, but if the ‘Unthinkable’ actually happens to you it gives you enough exposure to know there is almost always something you can do to improve your situation. The exposure opens your mind…”


“Claude Werner is the preeminent researcher of armed citizen-involved shootings.”

— Ralph Mroz, retired Police Officer and author of The Street Standards blog

Mindset and decision-making (2016 Tactical Conference)

Mindset and decision-making are intimately related. One of the phrases we use for having made a decision is ‘I’ve made up my mind.’ While not a formal topic, the concept of mindset and decision-making was a clear subcurrent of thought at the 2016 Tactical Conference. While this wasn’t a formal topic, per se, it was a theme that ran through several presentations and side conversations. As my friend Mark Luell  put it, “This [my life and my family] is important to me and I won’t let you take it from me.”

An early conversation I had was about our Mindset as Americans. The focal point of our conversation was an article in The Atlantic Monthly.  The article described the difference between US soccer competition and soccer in the rest of the world. A key dissimilarity is that in the US, our children typically spend much more time playing and less time practicing individual skills. We’re eager to confront and control/dominate early as part of our culture in a way that is less common in the rest of the world. The common attitude of “I’ll shoot someone who’s in my house” is rooted in this piece of our American Mindset. Sometimes that works out, sometimes it doesn’t.

The article’s comment about developing individual decision-making skills resonated with me. I continue to be less sanguine that Force on Force training is the panacea it’s thought to be in the training industry. If we don’t teach people the process of decision-making and then just throw them in the deep end of the pool, how helpful is that in teaching them?

“The thing that makes elite players is decision making,” Lemov told me. “They need to integrate not just how to do something but whether, when, and why.” He sees parallels to the difficulty many American students have solving problems independently. “If you give [American] kids a math problem and tell them how to solve it,” he said, “they can usually do it. But if you give them a problem and it’s not clear how to solve it, they struggle.”

John Hearne’s presentation FBI Research: The Deadly Mix got me wondering if being a nice guy is just another form of trying to control the situation. Granted, it’s a different approach to control but maybe it’s just a matter of tone and style rather than substance.

Two of Tom Givens’ presentations had an undercurrent of decision-making. Deciding whether or not our personal protection equipment is ‘needed’ during the course of our daily lives is a serious choice. As Tom puts it, the only failures in his student incident database are the result of ‘forfeits,’ i.e., the victim was unarmed and therefore unable to resolve their problem. Being unarmed was a decision that didn’t work out well in those cases.

John Murphy  provided me a video I had previously seen that relates heavily to decision-making. The officer’s action in the video demonstrates the clarity of his decision and how unhesitatingly he applied it.

Those of us who have actively been at this for decades have a very clear idea of our options, their consequences, and how to appropriately apply those options. Choosing options and being clear in your own mind about when and where to apply them is a critical part of the personal protection process.

Decisions determine outcomes

The decisions we make almost inevitably determine the outcomes that result. Good Decisions lead to Positive Outcomes and Bad Decisions lead to Negative Outcomes. We all know that decision making is difficult in a broad array of situations. Having a framework for decision making can be helpful.

Skill development and to a lesser extent, ‘situational awareness’ are the most often taught or talked about aspect of personal protection. In the broad scheme of things, though, those are only a couple of aspects to the process of not being criminally victimized. Ultimately, skills and awareness are just inputs to our decision making process. The decisions we make are what will determine the outcome of any encounter.

It’s trendy now to view Colonel John Boyd’s OODA Loop as if it is a model that can help us ‘think faster,’ i.e., make tactical decisions more quickly than our opponent. Unfortunately, that’s just not the case. The O-O-D-A Loop is a representation that describes in a strategic sense how one party thinks during the course of the decision process. That is a far cry from being a usable decision model or even framework. Colonel Boyd never mentioned O-O-D-A as a tactical decision model, nor do I believe he intended it as such.

Organic Design p26 OODA

Those who wish to look to Colonel Boyd for a decision model would be best advised to read his Aerial Attack Study. Over 50 years after its publication it is still considered the manual for fighter combat. The Aerial Attack Study describes a decision process almost completely the opposite of the way most common taters describe the O-O-D-A Loop. By performing an in-depth analysis of the situations fighter aircraft could encounter, Colonel Boyd described exact maneuvers and counters our fighters could use to defeat the enemy. That’s a better framework for defining tactical decision making.

AAS fighter v bomber TOC

This post is the first in a series describing a conceptual framework for decision making. Several other people contributed thoughts to it and I thank them for their input.

Know the Rules and Have Adequate Skills were proposed to me as inputs to good decision making by my friend LTC (Ret.), JAGC John Taylor. In addition to them, I include Understand the Situation.

Next, we have to consider four levels of priority as developed by Steven Harris, Esq. and published on the Modern Service Weapons blog.

  • Can
  • May
  • Should
  • Must

If we overlay these two sets of inputs, a graphic would look like this.

Make good decisions model

Finally, to make Good Decisions, we need to consider two levels of focus:

  • Tactical – doing things right, our techniques and procedures
  • Strategic – doing the right things, what is in our and our family’s best long term interests

What rules do we need to know?

  • Legal
    • Use of force
    • Use of deadly force
    • Employer policy and cultural peer pressure are corollaries to the legal
  • Other rules

Knowing the legal rules bears some discussion. There are several excellent books about the legalities of using deadly force, such as:
The Law of Self Defense

Deadly Force Understanding Your Right to Self Defense

What Every Gun Owner Needs to Know About Self-Defense Law

However, there isn’t much material about the use of non-lethal and less-lethal force. This leads to some confusion in people’s minds about tools like pepper spray. One common tater opined that pepper spray couldn’t be used legally unless the victim had already been physically battered and the battery was continuing. While this might POSSIBLY be true in some States where citizens, or perhaps subjects, exist in an almost perpetual state of arrest, it’s certainly not true in most of the US, where the citizenry remains free.

NY Arrest

As an example of relative importance, most law enforcement officers will never apply deadly force in their entire careers. On the other hand, they will use some kind of physical force on a regular basis. As private citizens, there are only a few situations that justify the use of deadly force on our part. Having the ability to employ some form of non-deadly force is an option that needs much more serious consideration than it is generally given.

Note also that of the ‘Other rules,’ only the Safety rules for firearms are commonly taught. Although the balance of the Other rules aren’t thought of, they will definitely be inputs to our decision making.

Since it’s probably the first thing we should consider, we’ll go into Know the Rules in more depth in the next installment. Far too many people don’t consider the Rules very much, especially the Other rules.

There’s a Safariland holster blowout sale on my webstore.  Glock 17 and S&W M&P holsters at prices you can’t afford to pass up.

Friday Fundamentals – Biases and Changes

My colleague Grant Cunningham posed two interesting questions on his blog, which led to a lengthy Facebook discussion.

Question #1: “what are your biases or preconceptions?”

Question #2: “what have you changed your mind about in the last year?”

I gave a brief answer to #2 but I think they both deserve some elaboration.

Question #1: “what are your biases or preconceptions?”

I am very reluctant to design training for myself or others that is rooted purely in hypothesis or conjecture. I.e., I am very biased toward following the scientific method, as much as possible, when developing training paradigms.

The overall process of the scientific method involves making conjectures (hypotheses), deriving predictions from them as logical consequences, and then carrying out experiments based on those predictions. — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_method


It’s important to note that testing is an inherent part of the scientific method. Testing implies some form of measurement. As a result, I believe that having performance standards is an important part of training. I think of training as ‘outcomes based’ rather than ‘input based.’

We have at our fingertips, via the Internet, an enormous amount of data available to us. At the top of this blog are links to a number of sources that I regularly read to gather information about armed encounters, shootings, gunfights, and gunbattles. I use each of those terms in a very defined way because I consider many terms used in the training community to be fuzzy and ill-defined. Fuzzy and ill-defined terminology does not fit particularly well in the scientific method.

One of the often parroted phrases I hear about gathering information from the Internet is “The plural of anecdote is not data.” I rebut this with the words of one of my accounting professors, “Accounting information is expensive to gather and is sometimes not worth it.” What he meant was that, at some point, you have to accept whatever information you have been able to collect and work with it to form an opinion.

Something I try to avoid is ‘cherry picking’ data that supports my hypotheses. Cherry picking is not always an intentional process, either; it can require a significant amount of intellectual rigor to avoid. I learned this years ago when I was Research Director of a large commercial real estate brokerage company. The brokers all worked specific geographical areas and the Vice President asked me to analyze the Zip Codes of their contact lists. As it turned out, only about 20 percent of the brokers actually had the majority of their contacts in their assigned areas, even though they thought they did. That was when I became a believer in writing things down and checking them periodically to eliminate unconscious errors. A while later, I created a database of five years of data from the Armed Citizen and found some patterns and trends I hadn’t anticipated.

To sum up my bias, I might say:

I’m not interested in conjecture. Tell me where your hypothesis originated, what data supports it, and how you measure the outcome(s) you expect your students to achieve as a result of this training.

Question #2: “what have you changed your mind about in the last year?”

My short answer to this question on Facebook was “The importance of manipulation skills vis–à–vis decision-making.”

I’ve been thinking about this for many years. In 2011, my presentation at the Rangemaster Tactical Conference was entitled The Myth of the Lone Gunman: Working with Family, Friends, and Significant Others.

At the Conference in 2014, my colleague Craig Douglas made the suggestion that I do a presentation about ‘Bad Shootings’ for the 2015 Conference. The results of my research changed me forever.

As many people know, I was part of the Rogers Shooting School for ten years, culminating with being Chief Instructor for five years. Rogers is the most elite and difficult shooting school in the world. Many police and military special units go there to train every year and get to eat a piece of Humble Pie every day of the five day Course. “We’re the best shooters in our Department, by far. Then we come here and find out we suck!” The Handgun Testing Program has no peer for difficulty in the entire training community. It is training on a level that only a select few shooters will ever get to experience. I am enormously proud of my association with the School and maintain a relationship to Bill and Ronnie to this day.

That being said, once I started doing my research on ‘Bad Shootings,’ which eventually morphed into ‘Negative Outcomes,’ I saw a vastly different set of priorities were important. Although I still believe performance standards are important, the level of those standards has changed in my mind. The NRA Defensive Pistol standards, probably at the Sharpshooter level, will suffice to solve almost every confrontation I have been able to find between an Armed Private Citizen and a marauding criminal. Truth be told, those standards would work for most police shootings also. The kicker about the NRA standards is twofold; 1) competence must be demonstrated repetitively and 2) the standard is 100 percent hits.

DPI table

Once a person can shoot a pistol to a reasonable standard, it’s time to move on to thinking about the circumstances of personal protection and becoming proficient at decision making in that context. Decision making can be a very difficult task, especially when we are armed. Lack of proficiency, not just at marksmanship, but at gunhandling under stress, complicates this. Persons who are not Unconsciously Competent can easily become focused on the firearm rather the situation. Focusing on the wrong thing can lead to Bad Decisions, which in turn can result in Negative Outcomes.

These are the Negative Outcome categories I identified in my research. There are probably more.

  • Brandishing/showing
  • Chasing and shooting
  • Downrange failures (shot an innocent while shooting at a threat)
  • Intervention
  • Lost/stolen guns
  • Mistaken identity shootings
  • Negligent discharges
    • Self-inflicted GSW
    • Unintentional shootings
  • Police Involvement (arrests for non-shooting related incidents)
  • Poor judgement
  • Unauthorized access (generally by small children)
  • Unjustifiable shootings
  • Warning shots

As an example of one category, Unintentional Shootings, here’s a screencap of some of the stories I have collected.

Unintentional pic

Bad decisions have serious consequences and end up being punished in a variety of ways, some legal and some social. The legal consequences are obvious; the shooter goes to court and sometimes thence to prison. The social consequences of Negative Outcomes are less obvious. If a person accidentally shoots a family member, whether the criminal justice system gets involved or not, I doubt that family relationship will ever be the same. The particular incident I am thinking of occurred when a police officer shot his daughter, thinking she was an intruder.

Decision making has many aspects to it that people don’t often consider. Where you point a gun anytime you handle it is a decision that has to be made. Consider that the next time you’re in a gun shop; where are you going to point the gun as you pick it up to ensure that you don’t muzzle anyone? This relates to another reason I am not fond of the overhand method of slide manipulation. During administrative gunhandling, which happens far more than shooting, the overhand method simply does not give the same level of muzzle control that the slingshot method does. I regularly have to correct students about muzzling themselves when using the overhand method. Using the slingshot technique, not at all.

Note that the Decision Making Process starts long before an incident. For instance, having a flashlight and then practicing with it is a decision. Not having one and/or not practicing with it is a Bad Decision. There are many other possibilities too. Failing to devise emergency plans and then discuss them with your family is a Bad Decision.

cheek technique

Look at the list of Negative Outcomes. The category ‘Downrange Failures’ is the only one that is marksmanship driven. All the rest relate to Decision Making and gunhandling. That’s why I changed my mind.

Friday Fundamentals – Boundaries

Up until now, Friday Fundamentals has focused on mechanical issues. This issue is going to focus on mental processes. An incident that was in the news recently drives the discussion.

“It scared me absolutely to death,” said Sherry McLain. She was loading groceries into her car this past Saturday in the crowded Walmart parking lot on Old Fort Parkway in Murfreesboro.

That’s when a strange man approached, surprising her, and she pulled her revolver. “I have never been so afraid of anything in my whole life I don’t think,”

Woman Arrested After She Said She Pulled Gun In Self-Defense

There are a number of problems here that led to her arrest.

  • Her level of fear was irrational. Witnesses and surveillance cameras confirmed that the man simply spoke to her from 10 feet away.
  • Being startled and being legitimately rationally afraid are two entirely different things.
  • She doesn’t understand the difference between setting boundaries and enforcing boundaries.
  • Because she doesn’t understand the difference, she didn’t comprehend that when we are defending ourselves, there’s a hierarchy involved. First, we set the boundary and then we enforce it, not vice versa.
  • As a result, she now has another issue; the criminal justice system. She was arrested for aggravated assault and reckless endangerment. Based on the current information, I doubt that will go well for her.

Let’s make something clear at the outset, when you pull a gun on someone, you’re threatening to kill them. It doesn’t matter whether you say a word or not, you’re threatening to kill them. Some people apparently don’t understand that and the gravitas it carries. You better have a good reason for doing so. Irrational fear is not a good reason. Simply being startled is not a good reason.

The question of how this might have been avoided brings us to the issues of controlling fear, setting boundaries, and enforcing boundaries.

Controlling fear is a complex topic that is not often discussed in the training community. If anything, the community tends to promote fear, “I was in fear for my life” having become almost a mantra. The woman in the incident invoked it but the police were unimpressed. The difference between reasonable fear and irrational fear is frequently left out of that discussion. It’s somewhat pathetic that there’s better literature in the competitive swimming community about how to control fear than there is in the self-defense community. Learning to control fear is a process beyond the scope of a single blog post. It behooves those who carry deadly weapons to do some research on the topic.

The next issue is boundary setting and boundary enforcement. This is a process more easily trained than controlling fear. Boundary setting and enforcement are simply elements of a process. All we need to do is understand the process and practice it.

It’s important to understand that we set boundaries with communication and barriers, not with tools. The communication can be either verbal or non-verbal. The most obvious form of barriers are the homes we live in, assuming the doors and windows are closed and locked. If a criminal fails to respect the boundaries we set, then we use tools, in this case weapons, to enforce the boundaries. We don’t use tools at the outset to set our boundaries.

One of the biggest issues we have as a society is that we have forgotten or gotten out of the habit of saying NO! That can be done either verbally or non-verbally. Training to say NO! should be a primary lesson in every class on personal protection and people should practice it on a regular basis. Simply raising an outstretched hand and shaking the head can accomplish a lot. Keep in mind that a great deal of communication is non-verbal; we can use that fact to our advantage.

A proper sequence that would have kept this woman out of trouble might be as follows:

Recognize that being startled is not the same as being afraid. She was startled because she was task fixated on loading her groceries in the car, i.e., she had not one bit of situational awareness. Most people are like that. In this sort of a situation, looking around before you get to the car, as you arrive at it, and then after loading each bag goes a long way toward avoiding being startled. Positioning the car for safety helps too. In the sense of color or awareness codes, she was in White or Unaware.

If she had been in Yellow or Aware and seen him approach, there’s nothing wrong with being proactive and raising the hand in the ‘stop’ gesture. That’s the first step in setting a boundary. Her mental state at that point could be described as Orange or Alert.

And yes, at this point, we could invoke the boogeyman of ‘The 21 foot rule’ that Dennis Tueller himself says has become terribly misconstrued.  But the circumstances where a criminal runs up to someone in a WalMart parking lot and slashes their throat are far less common than ‘incrementing,’ which is a standard way for criminals to operate. Whether those throat slashings are in fact, reality or figbars of overactive imaginations remains to be seen.

If the person continued to advance, a default verbal response of ‘Stop, don’t come any closer’ clearly sets the boundary. Any decent person would stop at that point. If the person doesn’t stop, it’s an indicator that something nefarious is developing. The mental state shifts to Red or Alarm. Once the intent of the other party becomes more clear, then we can make a decision about which tool we want to employ to enforce the boundary. We can also determine what barriers we might employ in the process. That, too, is a discussion for another time. The boundary setting and enforcement decision process is what’s important in this particular case.

Another thing to consider is that any time we get a gun out for defensive purposes; be that from a holster, purse, nightstand, safe, or whatever, there’s a possibility it’s going to be fired, either intentionally or unintentionally. The more scared we are, the higher that possibility. Therein lays one of my chief objections to brandishing, which is what the lady did; the possibility it will culminate in a Negligent Discharge.

Since thinking about the ‘worst case’ is something many people like to do, let’s examine the possibility of a Negligent Discharge in this situation. Say the woman had an ND as she pointed her revolver at the man or the other people present. It’s probably a good thing for all of the parties involved that she had a revolver and not a striker fired autoloader. If her irrational fear had caused her to have an ND, what would be her eventual statement in court? Something to the effect of “He asked me for a light, I was scared so I drew my pistol, I had an Accidental Discharge, which resulted in a death. It was an accident.” Most likely, she’d go up the river for Manslaughter. Fortunately, that particular Negative Outcome didn’t happen. What did happen was the Negative Outcome of ‘Police Involvement,’ to wit, getting arrested.

If this lady had understood the awareness and boundary processes and then used them properly, she probably would have gone home instead of getting arrested. That’s something for all of us to consider.

Friday Fundamentals (Segment 4) Shooting with a flashlight

Several Negative Outcomes were brought to my attention this week. One was yet another incident of someone shooting their spouse, thinking it was a burglar. She died as a result of one shot to the chest.

The husband told police it was an accident. He told officers he woke up around 4:15 Saturday morning and heard noises in his house … He told investigators he grabbed his gun and when he saw a light on and someone standing in the distance, he took a shot. He said the person he ended up hitting once in the chest was his wife.

This sad situation bolsters my contention that when we pick up a pistol at home, we have to pick up a flashlight at the same time. That’s why I made flashlight shooting an integral part of The Tactical Professor’s Pistol Practice Program. To get some repetitions in and reinforce the habit for myself, I went to the range this week and shot the entire NRA Defensive Pistol I marksmanship program using a flashlight.

DPI tableAs a curiosity, I also used a timer instead of going by the PAR times in the program. The pistol I used was a Beretta Jaguar in .22 Long Rifle. Many in the industry poo-poo the .22 as a defensive tool but .22s have worked for me. An aspect of .22s I like in the practice context is that shooting several hundred rounds in one session isn’t punishing, either physically or financially. I shot it at my gun club but the way Defensive Pistol I is structured, it can be shot at just about any indoor range. That’s an aspect of the program I really like.

What I did was to have my pistol, my flashlight, and the timer on a stool in front of me. The target was downrange at the specified seven yards.

setup finalThe target was a B-27 with the NRA AP-1 8 ring and X ring marked on it with a template.

D-1 template 1When the timer went off, I would pick up my pistol and flashlight simultaneously, assume the cheek position, and then shoot the specified string of fire. For the phases requiring loading the pistol on the clock, I picked up the pistol and magazine, loaded it, and then picked up the flashlight. After each string, I recorded my times. The NRA provides a scoresheet but it is set up for Pass/fail scoring, so I made my own scoring matrix.

MQP scoresheetI checked the target after each string to make sure that I had the required 100 percent hits. At the end of each phase; Pro-Marksman, Marksman, etc., I marked the target with blue dots to cover my hits.

For most of the program, I used the cheek technique.

cheek techniqueThe Expert and Distinguished Expert phases require shooting from behind cover. There weren’t any barricades readily available so I used the dueling tree in the bay to simulate cover.

DE setup finalThe Expert phase requires shooting around both sides of the cover. When shooting around the left side, I continued to use the cheek technique. When shooting around the right side, I used the Harries technique.

Harries techniqueThe Distinguished Expert phase doesn’t specify shooting around both sides of the cover. However, it does requires eight runs instead of four, so I shot four around the right side and four around the left side.

I was able to maintain the 100 percent standard and got a good idea of my times to accomplish each Phase.

finish finalMQP scoresTo finish off the day, I used the dots to create some eyes on the target. Then I shot a couple of groups at five yards.

eyes finalGetting in relevant practice isn’t necessarily hard; it just requires a little creativity and forethought.

Common sense

Isn’t it just common sense to ensure you know what you’re shooting at?

That question was posted on my Claude Werner, Researcher and Analyst page.

It’s an important question that we need to put in perspective.

Not intending to be pejorative but there is no such thing as ‘common sense.’ What we refer to as ‘common sense’ is actually learned behavior based on our past experience.

For instance, as adults, we consider it ‘common sense’ to not stick our hand in a fire. When we were three years old, we didn’t know it would hurt and probably found it out the hard way.

Similarly, we as gun people would consider it ‘common sense’ to not look down the bore of a firearm. If you gave a pistol to an Australian Aborigine, one of the first things they would do is look down the bore because in their worldview, knowing what’s in a hole is really important. Even Al Gore did it when he was searching for the Internet in Viet Nam. That was before he realized he had to invent it.

Al Gore looks down bore.

Al Gore looks down bore.

Ninety-nine percent of what most people know about firearms usage they learned from TV and the movies. In those media, there is never any ambiguity about the shoot/no shoot decision. As a result, when people get placed in a real set of circumstances, they do indeed default to their ‘training,’ which is the media programming. So they tend to make mistakes and shoot, even if it’s not appropriate. I once bemoaned to a colleague that my Threat Management classes didn’t sell. His response was “Nobody buys a gun with the idea that they’re not going to use it.” His comment put it in perspective for me.