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The “tactical shooting” training industry has grown exponentially over the last decade plus …

From a few schools, generally run by competitive IPSC/IDPA or Three-Gun shooters or by former LEO with some military background in there years before, we’ve seen an industry grow, with thousands of schools, ranging from mom-and-pop operations run by some local fellow, to a major growth in schools run by military SOF veterans with known, bona fide mankilling credentials. While the merits of one versus the other are certainly open to debate, one thing has really leapt out at me, as I watched this growth occur.

We spend a lot of time, as teachers—if we’re any good at it, at least—telling people to “focus on the fundamentals,” and “there are no advanced gunfights.” Despite that, there seems to have been an interesting trend to move away from the basic, fundamental drills that most of us practiced as we were learning the skills, to more “advanced,” “dynamic” drills. The most obvious of these is the trend to get away from simple “snap drills,” often derided as “UP! Drills,” after the shooter command of, “Shooter, ready?…and…up!” I’ve watched as guys coming out of a variety of units, with legit backgrounds as shooters, both SOF and Big Green, do anything they can to move away from this very basic, almost mind-numbingly monotonous drill. I understand that the basic snap drill can be overused, but almost too often, it has become underutilized, leaving many of its greatest benefits laying in the dust with the bathwater.

How is that possible? Trainers had a tendency to rely on the drill—especially in the military, but no less in the civilian training industry—because it’s simple, easy to run on a square range with a large number of moderately—or even barely—trained shooters. That’s good, because it’s actually a very useful drill. In many ways, in fact, it is the single most useful drill we have for teaching effective combat shooting, whether with carbine or pistol.

The problem arises due to a lack of understanding of how to leverage the maximum amount of benefit out of that drill. When it simply becomes a rote thing, with no metric for performance and improvement, then it loses the vast majority of its potential for benefit.

The Benefits

So, how can the most basic, beginner level close-quarters marksmanship drill actually be the most important drill available? Well, as any good shooter—and all the great shooters—will tell you, advanced shooting skill is simply a mastery of the fundamentals. That’s obvious though, right?

The fact is, the single most important shot you will take in a fight, regardless of all other contextual considerations, is the first shot you fire. It doesn’t matter what gun you’re running. That shot needs to be accurate enough, and arrive soon enough, to rob the opposition of the initiative. So, developing speed and accuracy for that first shot is critical. The best way to do that? Master the snap drill, and make it a religious part of your practice regimen.

What about all the cool-guy, go-fast drills that have you performing mag-dump after mag-dump on the range, focused on split-times, transitions between targets, and all the other “chicks-dig-it,” Jedi gunfighter tricks? I’m not saying those are unimportant. What I am saying is this;

1.) If you smoke your first round into the dude’s grape…or, well, pretty much anywhere on his body, there is a significant chance that it is going to interfere with his actions long enough to buy you a margin of time. If your split-times between follow-up shots are slow, but you’ve “interrupted his OODA loop” (I’ve really grown to hate that term!!!) by putting a hole in him, guess what? You’re probably going to get a chance to shoot him again, even with a slow split-time.

Yes, you should be able to engage with multiple, aimed rounds, at a high rate of fire, in order to “shoot him to the ground.” Nevertheless, getting that first hit on meat will go a long way towards allowing you to get the others, even if you’re not a Master or Grandmaster competitive shooter.

2.) One of the most important things we learn when we do the snap drill correctly, is exactly how much precision we need, in order to get as fast as we can get, at different ranges. I need a lot less precision with my carbine, to get a head shot, in less than one second, at 10 meters, than I do to get a torso shot in less than one second, at 100 meters. This carries over to target-to-target transitions, because our neural pathways, between eyes, brain, and trigger finger, are being exercised and trained to recognize how much is “enough.” Accuracy and precision are critical, but there is a lot of truth to the old adage that, “perfect is the enemy of good enough.”

3.) Building the neural pathways to build a solid, stable, durable, firing position that allows you to get a fast, first-round hit at various ranges, will facilitate all the other shooting skills you need with that particular weapon.

How Do I Do It Right?

The first step in utilizing snap drills to their full benefit is establishing metrics. How are you going to define success. Just by hitting a silhouette? That’s a standard that caused a whole load of heartache within most of the military, when after-action reviews started coming back, that recognized the importance of precision in close-quarters marksmanship in places crowded with no-shoots, like a house in downtown Baghdad, full of women and children.

Seriously, being able to hit a silhouette at 10-25 M is a really, really bad joke. It’s so far beyond simple that it’s below inadequate, if you consider yourself a trained shooter. Step one then, should be defining a more stringent metric for accuracy. I firmly believe, if you’re aspiring to “trained shooter” status, at distances out to 10-25M, or closer, a target the size of an index card should be the metric. For casual shooters, or the average student, “simply” concerned about home defense, I MIGHT be willing to concede that A-Zone hits on an IPSC silhouette are adequate. I tend to be lazy, and don’t like to walk downrange after every shot to record, so I tend to resort to using a 6” steel plate at anything over 10 meters, which is still roughly half of an A-Zone.

At 50-100 meters, I believe that a C-Zone silhouette is adequate for most purposes and most people. If you look at the size of it, it is roughly the same size as the center portion of the upper thoracic cavity of an adult male. That’s “enough” precision, even at 200 meters. If you end up being a little outside in the real world? A rifle round will still ruin his week, and still slow him down enough to allow you a follow-up shot. Further, there’s nothing stopping you from using a smaller target, once you’ve gotten consistent on the C-Zone. When I got to the point that I could hit the C-Zone in less than 1.00 seconds, 99% of the time, I graduated to shooting an 8” plate.

One issue that I’ve seen a lot in training classes that I’ve taught, is that we tend to have a traditional, American view of marksmanship as being, “I kin shoot a gnat off a fly’s butt at 300 yards, by Gawd!” People are looking for far more precision than is necessary. Don’t get me wrong, I love shooting for precision. I start and finish every range session running dot drills to master marksmanship precision. Unfortunately, that level of precision needed to punch a one-hole group with ten rounds may take more time than we’re going to have available in a fight, when the other dude is trying to interject his opinions into the conversation. He isn’t likely to be nearly as concerned about precision, or bystanders, and even if he “just” shoots you in the leg or arm, it is likely to have a seriously detrimental effect on your precision anyway, so you have to learn to recognize what is “good enough,” and how to accept that.

Unremarkably, this issue most commonly arises, in my experience, when a fellow is running a magnified optic on a carbine. I love optics. I will never willingly move to the sound of the guns with a rifle that is not equipped with a decent, low-powered, variable optic. Unfortunately though, too often people don’t understand that just because you can be more precise with an optic doesn’t mean that doing so is always the right choice. This isn’t an attack on precision. As I noted above, once we’ve balanced “precise enough,” with “fast enough,” we can—and should—begin looking at tightening up how we define “precise enough.”

So, step one in correctly utilizing the snap drill is establishing an effective level of “precise enough.”

Once you have established your precision metric, stick to it, but start focusing on achieving it faster. How fast is “fast enough?” I can’t tell you. If you’re stuck fighting a guy who is not really committed, and is a lousy shot, five or six seconds might be “fast enough.” On the other hand, if you’ve got a trained, aggressive shooter, with a lot of gunfights under his belt, sub-1:00 might barely be fast enough…or it might not be fast enough at all.

For the carbine, generally speaking, I tell people that, realistically, from the standing, low ready, they need to be able to move into any given firing position, and engage a target of the above dimensions, with at least one aimed shot, in less than three seconds. Why?

Because, doctrinally, we teach the use of a 3-5 second rush, and under fire, that really does tend to shorten towards the three second end of the spectrum, for obvious reasons. If I can get a hit in less than three seconds, on a reduced-size target, when responding to an external cue (such as the start signal of the shot timer), and the dude takes three seconds to get to a position of cover, then I’ve got a pretty solid chance of getting at least one round into him. Whether that one round drops him where he is, or he gets to cover and then tries to move again, it’s still probably, generally, going to slow his roll a little bit, increasing the odds that I’m going to get to him again.

Anyone of reasonable health and fitness can achieve a sub-3:00 second first round hit snap drill, even if they’re dropping into the prone. Seriously, I’ve seen 60 year old, overweight grandmas, with heart conditions achieve it, in less than an hour of training. If you can’t? Take up cooking. You’ll be more useful to society, and you’ll live longer.

With a sidearm, especially your concealed carry piece—which, let’s be honest, we are far, far more likely to need to use, if we look at historical statistical precedence—there’s no reason that someone with a modicum of training and practice can’t hit a sub-1:50 draw to first shot—to an index card—at 10 yards/30 feet. Again, I’ve watched more than one grandmother do it, with very little training and practice.

Ultimately, you should be pushing those speed barriers, and exceeding them, as long as you’re still shooting “precise enough.” When you find a barrier that you can’t cross, without missing, it’s time to focus on solidifying your skill at that speed. Focus on performing the skill properly, at speed, and pretty soon, you’ll be able to break your new barrier. This is not about “how fast can I shoot?” It’s about “how fast can I shoot properly and effectively?”  As the adage goes, “you can’t miss fast enough to win.”

The problem with the time metrics on the snap drill that has often arisen in the military, is the lack of emphasis on that metric. For entirely too long, the mantra has always been, “slow is smooth, and smooth is fast.” While appealing, it’s only partially true. Yes, in order to go fast, you’re going to have to have smooth, well-developed biomechanics. Unless you’re willing to push your speed until your biomechanics start becoming “not smooth,” though, and then focus on making them smooth again, at the faster speed, you’re just engaged in martial masturbation. It’s like doing strip mall dojo karate, with a gun.

The potential drawback to the time metric though, is when it becomes The Goal. That’s not the way it is supposed to work. It’s just a metric. It’s a way to measure performance. That’s the problem with standards. If you establish them low enough for people to achieve easily, they achieve that, and say, “Meh, I’m good enough. I met the standards.” If you set them high enough that they might actually be, “good enough,” then people get discouraged and give up. So, your “standard” should be “precise enough,” as fast as you can, and then, a little faster.

Of Carbines and Pistols

Most people are at least passingly familiar with the basic snap drill, in the variation of the “UP! Drill,” fired at close-quarters distances, with the carbine. Limiting ourselves to this however, does a great disservice to what is an excellent all-around shooting drill. While the basic standing snap drill should play an important role in your practice, there are other variations that are just as important. Some variations I like to incorporate include firing from different positions at different ranges.

For example, instead of limiting myself to 100 meters, from the standing, I might decide today, we’re going to start in the standing ready position, but we’re going to drop into the prone or squatting position, and shoot at 200 meters. Again, with even just a little bit of practice, I’ve seen people hit this in 2:00-2:50 seconds, consistently.

Another variation is with the concealed carry pistol. This is a regular portion of every single range session I do with my CCW pistol. At 30 feet, I’m trying to hit an index card, with one shot, as fast as I can, from the holster. I can consistently hit this in the 0.9-1.25 second range. I’ve seen other people hit 1:25-1:50 seconds, in a half-hour of trying, after insisting that it was impossible to draw from concealment in less than 2:00 seconds.

The point is not “look how cool I am.” The point is, these are metrics that are achievable, by real people, in real life, with varying levels of training and experience. Utilizing the basic snap drill, in different variations, allowed them to achieve a skill level—assuming they continue to practice it—that they previously though they were incapable of. It’s that important a drill.

It’s Not About Shooting Faster!

The purpose of the snap drill is not about shooting faster though. In the real world, shooting faster tends to have deleterious effects, like shooting the wrong person, because you shot before your brain could catch up and tell you that it is a twelve year Catholic school girl, not an MS13 gangster.

Our goal should be to shoot “sooner.” What’s the difference?

Shooting sooner is about working the problem correctly, and only making legitimate shots, as soon as possible. That requires more than a fast target acquisition and a quick trigger finger though. It involves knowing and understanding what the parameters are that allow for a legitimate shot, in your circumstances, and only then, breaking a fast, accurate shot. Being able to recognize what is “precise enough,” and then being able to deliver it “fast enough,” will allow you to shoot sooner, after the decision-making process has allowed you positively identify your target as a legitimate target. The time metric simply forces you to accept “precise enough,” instead of pushing for “absolute precision.”

Snap drills will help develop your ability to make the decision that “this is accurate enough,” at the speed you’re capable of making the hit. Whether it’s the first shot of the fight, or it’s the first shot on the last bad guy standing; even if it’s the second or third shot in a string of shots, to put some dude on the pavement, that recognition of “this is accurate enough,: is invaluably developed with snap drills, conducted to a time standard.

Conclusion

I am not suggesting that you shouldn’t perform other drills. The basic snap drill though, should be a bread-and-butter staple of your practice diet. It will increase your ability to deliver a solid, first shot hit that may allow you more of a window to get follow-on hits. It will increase your ability to recognize “this is accurate enough,” when “perfect is the enemy of good enough.”

I’ve repeatedly explained to students—and I believe it to the depths of my shooting soul—that, other than a firearm (and a holster, if we’re talking about handgun work), the single most important training tool you have available to you is a shot timer. While ammunition is obviously necessary for live-fire training, I’d take a guy who has a pile of good dry-fire training, on a shot timer, over the dude who has plinked at targets with live-fire, but has no metric of performance, any day of the week, and twice on Sundays.

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In the video below, you’re going to see surveillance footage from the 2014 Seattle Pacific University Shooting that could have been a tragedy.

That’s if student Jon Meis hadn’t taken fast action!

But he did take fast action! Now, watch as he takes down the active killer who shot and killed one student and injured others (and also keep reading to see some key points you should think about if you’re ever in a similar situation):

What Are Your Takeaways? Here Are Mine …

* Bad Guy appears to be using a break action shotgun

* At 0:50 the poor girl coming down the stairs doesn’t even NOTICE the bad guy holding a shotgun until he shoots her. Then she seems very confused by the fact she got shot and stumbles off. (Keep your eyes open and head on a swivel people!) – Also notice — this is not Hollywood, even though she got shot with a shotgun, she didn’t fly through the air!

* I don’t know if the hero student planned it, but it was perfect time when he came out of the door behind the killer with pepper spray, which he immediately shot into the face of the bad guy

* The GOOD guy did the right thing after spraying the face of the bad guy. He did not wait to see if it took effect – he immediately tackled the bad guy. The bad guy is using a long gun, good guy closing the distance takes away much of utility of such a weapon.

* Good guy tackles bad guy. Starts to choke him and then takes the long gun from him when the bad guy lets it go. Importance of h2h combatives/martial arts here! Learn and get comfortable with wrestling/taking people down and choking them.

* It looks like good guy took the long gun back to another room and came back to find a knife in the bad guys hand, disarms that too and chokes him some more until more help arrives.

We salute you Jon Meis!

Could You Save MORE Lives In This Scenario?

Also from a news report on the incident (emphasis mine):

“Jon Meis, a student working as a building monitor, pepper-sprayed the shooter as he stopped to reload, then put him in a chokehold and took him to the ground, according to police and a friend who spoke with Meis after the shooting. Then other students and faculty members rushed to hold the shooter down until police arrived.

But until it was clear that only one shooter was responsible, students barricaded themselves, pulled blinds and waited for word that they were safe. Medics were forced to wait outside until police were sure there was no more danger.

Smart work on the students holding up to see if there was more danger … but look at what happened?

I don’t know if this is standard procedure, but the Medics were “forced to wait outside until police was sure there was no more danger”.

Say you’re the hero here …. BUT … 20 seconds before the bad guy shot your friend, or your wife, your daughter, etc …

Are you going to watch your loved one bleed out while you wait for medics to arrive …. or are you going to get some Tactical Medicine training and CARRY that medical gear with you so you can continue being a hero and save the day?

Learn how to save lives too!

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One of the long-running themes of my blog, Mountain Guerrilla, is the importance of focusing on underlying concepts and philosophies, rather than technical dogma. That applies to shooting as much as it does to preparedness generalities. I am a geek, down to my soul, and I wholeheartedly believe in the importance of the “philosophy of ideas.”

My overriding goal, from the beginning of the blog—and really, the reason the blog was started in the first place—was to act as an objective, outside voice, to help readers begin to recognize, and hopefully overcome, some of the cognitive biases and group-think errors so prevalent within the culture of preparedness. That emphasis on metacognitive considerations has not changed, even as the focus of the blog has moved away from sheer technical datum to a greater emphasis on my philosophy of emigrating outside of the failing imperial civilization.

I have always, and probably always will, write training- and gear-specific articles, but the blog was never about “training” or gear, specifically. As I pointed out from the very beginning of my efforts, any infantryman with even one enlistment under his belt, could teach basic tactics and riflecraft. Any graduate of any of the myriad combative pistol courses could—theoretically—come up with a syllabus and begin teaching basic combative pistol skills. Anyone who has lived in a few sketchy neighborhoods, and survived to adulthood, could—again, theoretically—sit down, write up a course on urban survival, and begin teaching it. All it would take is the ability to look at their experiences objectively, and determine causation versus correlation in what they determined were the key skills, and then focus on solutions for the causal factors that concerned them.

My goal has been to move readers past the elementary grammar phase (to borrow a concept from the classical education Trivium) on to some of the processes necessary to not just learn and teach those methods around you, but to discover the underlying principles behind those skills, allowing the individual to modify them to fit their specific need, in a way that is “relevant to reality,” rather than fitting the hyperbolic fantasies of dystopian fiction and political pandering.

The Socratic Method

One of the key elements in achieving this, in my experience, has been the development of a method for forcing myself, students, and colleagues, to think “outside of the box, in order to provide answers to questions that we maybe should have been asking, had we even known the questions existed. One of the most useful is The Socratic Method.

The Socratic Method, or “Socratic Debate,” is a method of inquiry and discussion that serves as a method of hypothesis elimination, through the deliberate asking and answering of questions. It is a tool utilized to stimulate critical thinking, in order to provide clearer illumination, in our effort to reach “better,” if not “best” hypotheses, in the search for solutions to problems. This is achieved, within The Socratic Method, by identifying and eliminating competing hypotheses, among those available, that lead to contradictions.

In its simplest form, The Socratic Method is just a series of questions, with the simplest but most useful, often simply being, “why?” in order to formulate tests of logic and fact. It can help us determine where the line of division exists between the actual facts about a subject, versus what are simply our beliefs—our preconceived biases—about that subject.

A History Lesson

In the 5th Century BCE, there was a class of professional teachers in Athens called “Sophists.” These teachers specialized in using the tools of philosophy and rhetoric to entertain, impress, and hopefully persuade those sons of gentility that could afford their lessons, to accept their arguments. In counter to the Sophists, Aristotle credited Socrates with developing an alternative method of using definition, induction, and deduction, to learn and teach. Plato famously formalized The Socratic Method in his earlier Dialogues (for a more in-depth discussion of induction vs. deduction in logical thought, within the context of intelligence analysis for preparedness, see my book, The Reluctant Partisan, Vol 2: The Underground), by portraying Socrates engaging in this method to interrogate his fellow citizens about moral and epistemological issues before becoming more Dialectic in his methods, while Diogenes Laertus credited Protagorus with the development of the method.

The Method In Action

Regardless of the actual development of the method, the central technique of Socratic Debate is called “Elenchus,: and simply refers to cross-examination for the purpose of refutation. In Plato’s early Dialogues, this cross-examination is the method Socrates used—as one example—to determine the definition of justice. It was comprised of four steps:

  1. The interlocutor asserts a hypothesis: “We need to have a minimum of one year of food storage,” which Socrates considers false, or incorrect—the two are NOT synonymous, from a philosophical perspective—and so, he decides to refute the assertion.
  2. Socrates secures the interlocutor’s agreement to further premises that are based on the original thesis, such as, “We need food, or we’ll starve, correct?” and “We can’t hunt for our food, because all the hillbillies will be out there hunting the same deer, right?” and “The deer will be extinct in a month or two, right?” as well as the ever popular, “90% of the US population will die in the first 30 days of a grid-down event, correct?
  3. Socrates then argues, and the interlocutor is forced, logically, to agree, that these further premises—to which he has agreed—actually imply that the contrary of the original thesis is more accurate: “We do NOT need food storage for one year, because most people will be dead before all the food is gone, and then we’ll be able to gather what we need, for free.
  4. Socrates then claims that he has shown his interlocutor’s thesis to be false or incorrect, and that its negation is true.

Shortcomings

The problem that has been brought to light, of course, is that Step Four above, is nonsense. Having demonstrated that a given thesis is flawed on some grounds, is not sufficient to a) prove that the basic thesis (“We should have a year’s supply of food stored!”) is false, or b) that the alternative theory MUST be true. Rather, the discussion has reached a state of aporia; an improved state of still not knowing the “best,” but having a better understanding of what is “not best.”

Ultimately, the exact nature of this cross-examination—elenchus—is open to discussion and debate, itself. Is it a positive method, leading to knowledge, or is it a negative method, useful solely for the purpose of refuting false claims to knowledge.

Unlike his opposition among the Sophists, Socrates did believe that knowledge was possible, as long as one was able to take the first step of recognizing their own ignorance. The Dunning-Kruger Effect being what it is, this is a concept that the vast, vast majority of modern Americans, including within the preparedness culture, could profit from spending some introspective navel-gazing time considering.

Socrates himself claimed that he didn’t know anything. By this, of course, he was emphasizing that he didn’t know anything. The only way he was wiser than those around him, he claimed, was that he was conscious of his own ignorance, while they were not. The essence of the Socratic Method then, is to convince the interlocutor that, whereas he thought he knew something, in point of fact, he did not, because he could not.

This is the value that the Socratic Method offers those who would be prepared. It gives us the opportunity to determine what we know, versus what we believe.

Modern Applications

Socrates generally applied his techniques to those concepts that lacked concrete definitions. These included things like moral concepts, such as courage, justice, etc. This challenged the cherished moral beliefs of the interlocutor, pointing out inadequacies and inconsistencies in their beliefs, ultimately resulting in aporia.

The contemporary use of The Socratic Method, compared to Socrates’ use of this method, are not equivalent. Socrates did not—or at least, rarely—use the method to develop consistent theories. Instead of arriving at answers, he used the method to break down theories that were held, to go beyond the platitudes that we take as “truths.”

Examples of this can be seen in almost every single “truth” we take for granted in modern shooting, preparedness, and political culture.

Jim: Smart preppers will move to small, rural communities, because they are safer retreat locations than large cities, because large cities are festering with crime and poverty!

Socrates: Fair enough. Small towns have crime and poverty as well though, right?

Jim: Well, yes. Of course.

Socrates: Small town people tend to be closer knit, with shared values, and people know each other’s business, as well, right? Keeps them safe, when there are no secrets, correct?

Jim: Often enough, yeah.

Socrates: Large cities often have safe neighborhoods of shared cultural values, within their boundaries, correct? Say, a Little Mexico, or a Little Dublin?

Jim: I suppose so, sure…

Socrates: A densely packed, urban neighborhood, assuming it is one of the safe neighborhoods, has more people available to mount an adequate defense against aggressors, right?

Jim: Well, yeah, I guess that might be true.

Socrates: And, in a world of modern, industrialized, monoculture agriculture, there’s probably a better chance of finding a warehouse full of a variety of good, and more manufacturing capabilities to rebuild necessary technology, in a large urban area than in a small community, correct?

Jim: Probably? I suppose, yeah.

Socrates: So, perhaps, small, rural towns are neither safer, nor more dangerous, than a well-selected neighborhood in a large urban area…

Jim: Well….but….uhm…..

Of course, that’s neither going to end the argument, nor change Jim’s mind about the benefits of living in the sticks. That’s okay. What Socrates actually wants for Jim, is for Jim to develop a framework to question his assumptions and conclusions, and perhaps discover that his preparations are not perfect, or even “better,” and thus have the capacity to overcome his cognitive biases, in order to improve.

In another example, common to the preparedness cycle, we have a discussion about caliber selection:

Mel: I need a .308 Main Battle Rifle, because “it turns cover into concealment!” It’s more accurate at long range too! You can keep your silly mousegun!

Socrates: The .308 has better penetration than the 5.56? This makes it a better caliber?

Mel: Yes! Of course!

Socrates: Just to make sure we agree….308 is better than 5.56 because it penetrates better, right?

Mel: Yeah, like I said!

Socrates: You’ve seen the body armor testing I sent you, that clearly shows 5.56 M855 and M193 both, punching through body armor that stopped all the varieties of .308 and 7.62x51NATO that they tested. Right?

Mel: Uhm, yeah…but…well…in general, I mean, .308 will punch through stuff that 5.56 won’t!

Socrates: Do you accept that the difference between cover and concealment is that cover stops incoming projectiles, while concealment simply hides you from observation?

Mel: Of course! I’ve read the field manuals!

Socrates: And, as a “long-range shooter,” I’m sure you are well-versed in the fact that 5.56 has been the consistent winner in long-range National Match at Wimbledon for some time now, right? It is demonstrably true that .308 is NOT more accurate at long-range than 5.56 is, right?

Mel: Well, yeah, but that is just punching paper. It’s not real.

Socrates: If “cover” stops incoming projectiles, but .308 will penetrate it, then your “cover” was always merely “concealment,” and since 5.56 will penetrate body armor that stops your .308, and since National Match high-power is regularly won with 5.56, then your conclusion is flawed.

Mel: Well…..crap!

As in the previous example, this is not going to change the interlocutor’s mind. It has two purposes. First, to provide the interlocutor with a more robust means of questioning his own hypotheses, and second, to illustrate the fallacies of the interlocutor’s arguments to witnesses, and perhaps keep them from being led down the same silly trails.

Conclusions

Stop. Seriously, just stop. Stop assuming that, because you read a couple of books by “survivalism experts,” that you know everything you need to know about preparedness. Question every conclusion that you’ve drawn from your reading and study. Question the credentials of the experts.

It was pointed out to me once, that “experts” have a lot of knowledge. Inarguable, right? Otherwise, they wouldn’t be experts. The important question however, is two-fold:

  1. Is it knowledge, or is it supposition and belief? Is it predicated on factual, provable history, or is it theory, developed through uneducated imagination?
  2. If it is, in fact, knowledge, is it relevant to your reality?

There has been a tidal wave of change in the preparedness culture in recent years. The teachers available, in all areas of preparedness, have grown exponentially. We’ve gone from reading books written by people who had read some books, and maybe taken a couple weeks of training here and there, to combat veterans who have not only trained at those schools, but then actually put their training to the crucible of actual combat testing, day-in and day-out, for multiple tours in actual combat, for a decade and a half.

Instead of being limited to reading the pet theories of people who lived on small homestead-type hobby farms, who extrapolated from there, what would be needed for survival in Dystopia, we have the lessons being taught by people who survived collapsed societies firsthand, as well as the teachings and observations of people who are serious enough about living outside of the system that they’ve “collapsed now, to avoid the rush,” living completely off-grid, within the minimum legal requirements of paying property taxes.

There is no reason to maintain the status quo in the preparedness culture, and manifold benefits to upsetting that apple cart, and questioning the basic assumptions the subculture has cherished for decades. The only “authority” we should owe allegiance to, when it comes to being prepared to protect and provide for our families and communities, is the closest approximation to Truth that experience, logic, and reasoning can provide. Any other “authority” should be—must be—questioned, objectively, but incessantly, until we determine that their premises are flawed, and where those flaws are, in order to determine “better,” or “best” alternatives, or until we determine that the premises are—regardless of origin—the “better” or “best” alternatives available.

The Socratic Method offers one means of fulfilling that crucial task by playing “Devil’s Advocate.”

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File this one under “uh duh”!

As you probably know the “Hearing Protection Act” was reintroduced to congress to remove silencers from the National Firearms Act (NFA).

Obama Admin’s Center for Disease Control (CDC) also found out there are not one but TWO things silencers can be beneficial for. You may guess the one, but maybe not the other? Check it out:

First, Silencers Best Option For Reducing Gun Range Noise

In the first “duh” entry — after noting that the noise on outdoor test ranges in California was particularly high — CDC found this:

The only potentially effective noise control method to reduce students’ or instructors’ noise exposure from gunfire is through the use of noise suppressors that can be attached to the end of the gun barrel. However, some states do not permit civilians to use suppressors on firearms.

Well, yeah.

Now let’s not go full retard and think we need handguns with silencers hanging off them as a requirement (I feel like that would be the next Government step because “logic”), but yes, encouraging silencer use by making them 100% legal like any other non-registered gun part would be perfect. I would GLADLY shoot silenced rifles if given the choice.

Also …

Second, CDC Finds Quarter of Americans Have Hearing Loss Because of Noise (Solution? Silencers)

Along with that, as Americas1stFreedom notes:

A CDC study recently found that a staggering 40 million American adults—including one-fourth of people 20-69—have lost some hearing because of noise. Even more noteworthy, 53 percent of those with hearing loss claimed to have no occupational exposure to excessive noise—a number which likely includes many shooters and hunters.

These numbers not only uncover a national epidemic—they also indicate that the deregulation of suppressors, as outlined in the Hearing Protection Act, should be regarded less as a matter of politics and more as an urgent matter of public health.

Given that noises of over 140 decibels can cause permanent hearing loss with hearing protection—and that an unsuppressed .223 rifle produces about 165 decibels—the use of suppressors (which reduce gunshot noise by 20-35 decibels) could, when combined with regular hearing protection, significantly reduce the longstanding prevalence of hearing loss in the shooting community.

I mean, none of this should be news guys.

This is common sense.

Conclusion? Support The Hearing Protection Act In Congress Again

This isn’t the first time that a pro-silencer bill has been in congress. They normally don’t pass. This one has a lot of support and with a new Trump presidency a lot of people are hoping it will.

As I’ve said before, even anti-gun places like Europe are KILLING America when it comes to silencer use. Trump’s son knows it, let’s see if he can convince dad too.

After talking to some people who work in the silencer industry, as the video points out below, it might be a WHILE before this bill gets passed (if at all) … and more importantly because people don’t realize how complicated our Government is … that just because we have a republican majority, it’s not a guarantee (at all) it will ever even make it to the President’s desk. Good little fact filled vid:

When it comes down to it, support the bill and lets dismantle the NFA entirely before Trump’s first term is over (a gal can dream can’t she?)

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To new shooters, regardless of the sub-discipline of shooting they participate in, there can be a lot of novel concepts and techniques to learn, from proper trigger break and different methods of sight alignment and sight picture, to the vagaries of intermediate and terminal ballistics.

For the combative shooter, whether a dyed-in-wool .mil gunslinger, a cop, or an armed citizen, focused on defensive handgun and home defense carbine skills, the skills involved can be overwhelming. From the basic drawstroke of the sidearm and the proper presentation of the carbine or shotgun for close-quarters shooting, to recoil management, reloads, and malfunction clearances; then we can add ancillary task skills on as well… unarmed combatives to allow you to “fight to the gun,” etc…

One of the apparently more obscure skills in the contemporary shooting skills, outside of long-distance marksmanship, is one I try hard to emphasize in all of my shooting coursework, because of how critical I have found it to be, in the real world of shooting bad people, before they shoot me, or my friends.

That skill is the ability to “call your shots.” In any given class I teach, on average, somewhere south of half the students will have even heard of the concept. In turn, about half of those will actually have a clue what the skill actually entails. My experience has been that, outside of combat arms veterans of the Army and Marine Corps—and actually only a small percentage of those—very few shooters have any understanding of the practical applications of the ability to call your shots, besides the pure marksmanship theory approaches.

WHAT IT IS

Calling your shot is simply the practice of accurately determining the expected point-of-impact of the shot you just fired, predicated on the relationship between your sight alignment and the target—your sight picture—at the moment you broke the shot. In other words, if you had a legitimate sight picture, at the moment your broke the shot (you know, like you SHOULD have…), and you know the zero of your weapon, and you understand the basic external/intermediate ballistics of the weapon-cartridge combination, then as soon as your break the shot, you should KNOW where the round is striking the target.

The reciprocal of course is that, if you call your shots accurately, then, when you do miss, you are also calling your misses, and this will help you fix whatever induced the miss. That is the skill of shot calling, in a nutshell, and a pretty solid reason, all by itself, from a purely marksmanship skills perspective. Beyond that, however, there is a really solid combative application to shot calling that is too often completely unknown and overlooked within the shooting community at large, and within the tactical shooting community specifically.

COMBATIVE APPLICATIONS

There are a couple of old proverbs of shooting that are particularly valid, within the context of this conversation. One of those is that we need to shoot the bad people as many times as necessary, to convince them to stop doing whatever bad thing convinced us to shoot them. As I explain it, “you need to continue shooting until you elicit the desired response.” In plain language, we need to forget the old school, “double tap and assess,” and just keep shooting the dude until he is no longer a threat—or, at a minimum, until he is no longer the most dangerous, immediate threat.

Another relevant proverb is that, “you can’t miss fast enough to win a fight.” That one, while true on the face of it, is really not an absolute Truth. If I get my shots close enough to keep your head down, even if I don’t hit you, while my buddy maneuvers around and closer, and he shoots you, then I missed, but I still won the fight, right? However, for all intents and purposes, it’s probably safer to assume that we’re going to be all by our lonesome, and thus, we probably need to focus more on perforating the bad guys than we do on “pinning them down.”

So, what does all of that have to do with “calling your shots?”

Presume, just for a moment, that you are somewhere, doing something, and someone has just placed you in a situation that you felt required you to respond with lethal force, using a firearm. So, you draw your Glock 17, SIG 226, or 1911A1, and you fire your first round. Or, dude is coming through your front door, with a tire iron in his hand, and bad face tattoos, and you snap your M4 carbine to your shoulder, and punch a round at him. Immediately after you fire, they drop.

Did you shoot them, and they dropped, because your shot was effective, and instantly disabling? Or, did you shoot at them and missed, but they dropped out of sight, because you almost shot them? Speaking from personal experience, when a round smokes past me, in a near miss, I somehow manage to move really fast for a middle-aged, crippled up has-been, and get really low, really fast!

In the first case, you could, generally speaking, start looking for other work. In the second case however, if you commence to looking for new work, you’re probably getting ready to get shot by a very upset bad person. That would be a reasonably negative outcome, in my mind.

Or, presume, just for a moment, that you’ve just shot at someone who was posing a legitimate lethal threat to yourself or someone you care about (wait, who am I fooling? I don’t care WHY you are shooting at them, honestly…just assume you took a shot at someone, for whatever reason tickles your fancy…). Immediately after you shoot at them, they don’t drop. Instead, they turn towards you and start advancing.

Did you miss? Or, did you hit them, but they were wearing body armor that protected them? (Contrary to popular mythology in the gun community, taking a round while wearing body armor doesn’t generally result in the victim being knocked down, let alone thrown backwards. Often, the recipient doesn’t even miss a step. Physics sucks.) In that case, it might be prudent to know, sooner, rather than later, that you need to adjust your point-of-aim, to shooting him in the hips or the head, instead of wasting your limited, precious time (the rest of your life, so to speak) putting more, ineffective rounds into his chest, where they aren’t doing any good.

Did you miss? Or, did you hit him, and he’s just tough enough that, even catching a round in the center of the chest, he’s now very, very, very angry, and he is now coming to take your gun from you and beat you to death with it? In that case, while two or three or five more rounds to the same spot would probably put him on the ground and anchor him, shooting him in the hips/groin or head might accelerate the termination of hostilities even faster.

Did you miss? Or, did you hit him, but somewhere less vital than where you were trying to shoot him? Did the round you were trying to put in his upper chest actually go into his arm or his side?

Or, did you just miss, and need to modify what you are doing? How can you, in the heat of the moment, know with certainty, which of the above is the appropriate response to these situations?

Simple answer, folks: have confidence in your ability to call your shot, accurately, effectively, and correctly, every single time you break a shot.

I spend a lot of time, in my personal training, in my writing, and in my teaching, focusing on receiving and analyzing the available data in the battlespace, to make solid, contextually correct decisions, under stress. If I call my shots correctly, every single time that I break a shot, with every single firearm that I shoot, then, even under the stress of a gunfight, I’ve hardwired that part of my brain to function outside of that terror or excitement, and tell me, “Hey, knucklehead! You pushed that shot low and left! Of course he’s not stopping; you missed! Quit ‘glocking’ the trigger!

At the same time, it may be screaming at me, “Dude! You just smoked that guy right through the breadbox, but he isn’t stopping! You need to change your plan! Shoot him in the hips! Everybody stops when you shoot them in the pecker!

This ability to call your shots is what will give you the absolute, legitimate confidence in the point-of-impact of your shots that allows you to accurately assess the available data from the environment, and come to correct conclusions about what you should be doing next. If you lack that ability—and the legitimate confidence that results from it—what almost invariably ends up happening is one of two things:

  1. some schmuck shoots the bad guy, but doesn’t successfully elicit the desired result. He completely freaks out and proceeds to mag dump at the bad guy, continuing to miss his intended target, but shoots up a crowd of bystanders instead, or
  2. said schmuck shoots at the bad guy, with his patented, trademarked “SuperDeathRay666Caliber” carry gun, and doesn’t elicit the desired result. He completely freaks out, and then freezes in shock, because the world is suddenly not what he thought it was, and he doesn’t know how to deal with the fact that the sky is green, and grass is orange.

In either case, you end up with a negative outcome, that could have been avoided with more focus on proper shooting skills and marksmanship fundamentals. There are no advanced gunfights. There are just gunfighters with an advanced mastery of the basic skills.

Shot calling is one of those undervalued, often unknown, or—at best—misunderstood, skills that make up the meta-skill of shooting that we really need to condition ourselves to emphasize more often in our training and practice. Start today. It will make you more dangerous.

If you don’t know what calling your shot is, or how to do it? Go take a shooting course. If that training course doesn’t cover it, go find a course with an instructor that actually knows what he is talking about.

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The importance of precise, well-aimed fire in a gunfight cannot, and should not, be underestimated. For anyone who picks up a firearm with the intent of “going in harm’s way,” that statement should really be pretty close to the forefront of their mind, throughout any training that they do, regardless of where they do that training, when they do that training, and with whom they do that training. If, after all, I’m in a gunfight with some dude 200 meters away, or 20 feet away, and I just point my weapon in the air, shout, “Allahu Akbar! Inshallah!” like some Mohammedan jihadist, and start blasting, counting on some divine will to guide my rounds where they need to go, I’m not likely to do much good in the pursuit of self-protection. The further away the opponent is, of course, the more critical the ability to aim and fire accurately becomes, because he becomes a relatively more difficult target to hit.

There is a line, famous in shooting circles, attributed to Wyatt Earp, and all too often parroted by others, with varying degrees of accuracy in the retelling, that says, “Speed is fine, but accuracy is final!” There is, in the opening sentence of this article, a great deal of recognition of the inherent truth of this statement. Performing a mag dump of 9mm or 5.56, is really of limited, questionable value (I can actually argue for the value, but it is still limited…); it’s of no value whatsoever though, if none of the rounds I fired even impact close enough to impact the target’s decision-making ability. Accuracy really is critical. Too often however, that statement becomes nothing more than a cliché, and an excuse for codgy old duffers to take their sweet time sighting in to take a shot.

The problem with a cliché, it has been said, is not that they’re untrue. The problem with a cliché is the nugget of truth inherent to the statement, that allows it to become a cliché, repeated ad nauseum, by sycophants who generally don’t realize that they don’t even understand the meaning behind the original statement. I get called to task, rather often, by readers and others, who have completed various training courses, for my ongoing training admonition that we should be practicing the ability to “shoot as fast as you are able to apply well-aimed fire.” Perhaps it is the “shoot fast” part that gets their knickers in a twist, but I just genuinely haven’t been able to figure it out.

Accuracy is Awesome!

At the basic level, any shot accurate enough to punch through the brainstem of a bad guy is definitely a final statement, and probably adequate to “elicit the desired response,” to a situation that warranted shooting him. The problem is, the real world likes to toss monkey wrenches in our plans.

If it takes you five seconds to manage that shot; to acquire a solid firing position, line up your sights, control your breathing, and then gently squeeze the trigger to a surprise break, with no disruption of the sight picture, it’s probably not going to be the “final answer” that you think it is.

Why not? Because, whether rifle or pistol, five seconds is long enough to dump nearly an entire magazine, accurately, at common combative ranges. You’re not going to get that five seconds of calm that you apparently need, in order to get the level of accuracy that you need to make that precision shot. That is the crux of the problem with the cliché. It’s not complete.

Fast is Fine, but Accuracy is Final… As Long as it Arrives On Time!

My statement for students, and myself, mirrors a related aphorism that comes to us courtesy of Marshal Earp; “Take your time…In a hurry.

Fast is fine, but accuracy is final…as long as it arrives on time.

What is all too often overlooked is that the speed versus accuracy equation is a very, very relative issue. Is a shot that impacts you in the shoulder as lethal as a shot to the upper thoracic cavity or the cerebral cortex? No, of course not, unless you’re a simpering coward who believes that any gunshot is automatically lethal, as it blows you backwards through four concrete walls. What if we change the question slightly?

“Is a shot that impacts the shoulder as effective at keeping you from shooting me as a shot to the upper thoracic cavity or cerebral cortex?” Probably, at least in the immediate short-term. Gunshot wounds have a tendency to hurt, and pain tends to be distracting.

I may need to shoot you again, but if you’re not shooting at me effectively—by which we mean, making hits—because you got distracted by that Louisville Slugger shot to the shoulder, then I’ve got the time necessary to slow down and take that second shot.

On the other hand, it can obviously be said that, if you take the time to get a shot to the upper thoracic cavity or the cerebral cortex with the first shot, you won’t need to take that second shot, right? Let’s go back for a moment, and look at the previous example, to parse that concept. If you are taking the time to set up that head shot to the cerebral cortex, and I bust a round into your shoulder, or chest, or leg—or, well, pretty much any other portion of your body—is that, or is that not, going to affect your ability to aim and fire your precision head shot? Of course it is. So, what we really need to determine is, how accurate do we need to be? How fast do we need to be that accurate? How much of that accuracy can we maintain, at that speed?

Accuracy Standards

In order to effectively discuss accuracy standards, we need to determine what type of weapon we’re discussing, carbine or pistol, and we need to determine what ranges we’re discussing.

With rifles, some trainers—a lot of trainers, actually—and the US Army, consider 4MOA to be adequate accuracy. That’s a pretty decent all-around metric, and it is one that has a lot of history in the US military. That allows you to hit a 19-inch wide e-type silhouette out to 500 meters, most of the time. That’s pretty solid, and beyond the ability of most “riflemen” in the US today. At 100 yards, that is roughly four inches. That definitely facilitates getting accurate hits, on a stationary target.

My personal standard—firing commercial, Lake City M855 “green tip” out of a mil-spec 1:7 twist, chrome-lined, 14.5” M4, so you know I’m not running some cool guy, super custom gun—is 2MOA or better. That theoretically allows me to get hits on the aforementioned e-type at 1000 yards (theoretically…while I’ve actually gotten consistent 1.5MOA groups out of my main carbine, that doesn’t take into account windage, knowing my holdovers for elevation, or accounting for the transonic effect of the round dropping back below supersonic speeds, which leads to all kinds of hinky behavior from the projectile). At realistic, common combative ranges, that’s way more than adequate.

It’s crucial though, to remember that we’re talking about pure marksmanship standards at this point. This is laying on a nice, groomed range, in a solid firing position, controlling my breathing, and taking my sweet time squeezing the trigger, because the target’s not moving, and it’s not shooting back at me. Accuracy after all, really is relative.

Here’s the thing though….so is speed, and the two are relative to necessity and ability, as well as to each other. I can shoot 2MOA or better with my carbine, taking 1-2 seconds per shot, whether I’m prone, squatting, kneeling, or standing. If I am willing to “broaden my horizons,” and accept a 4MOA group, I can put rounds downrange, from prone, squatting, or kneeling, at a rate-of-fire approaching 3-5 rounds per second. From the standing, I can easily do 8MOA at the 4-5 rounds per second rate-of-fire, and regularly manage to fire a sub-6MOA at five rounds per second, at 100 meters, from the prone, and standing, I can manage it 8-9 times out of ten. That is fast, and accurate, and it’s impressive, but it is nowhere near world-class. It is not a result of being genetically gifted, or spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on IPSC/IDPA race gun training. There are guys out there, in the public eye, and in the shadows, who can shoot that accurately, at an even faster rate of fire. My ability is simply a result of dedicated, steady yeoman-like practice.

When I teach, I successfully get students making solid hits on a C-zone steel target, at various ranges, in ridiculously fast times:

  1. Standing, from the ready, at 100 yards: <1:00 second
  2. Standing to prone, from the ready, at 200 yards: <3:00 second
  3. Standing to kneeling or squatting, from the ready, at 100-200: <2.50 seconds

(These are not all hyperfit, twenty-something Crossfit junkies. These are solid, middle-aged, professionals, willing to put in a little bit of effort.)

With a sidearm—in my case a 9mm Glock, either a G19 or a G17—we’re still looking at a mathematical range of possibilities for accuracy standards at speed. From a pure accuracy standpoint, the standards I set for myself, and that I drive students to achieve in coursework is to be able to shoot the proverbial “one-hole group” at any distance out to 30 feet, with no time limit. This is simple, pure marksmanship. Out to 25 yards, we are looking to keep everything inside of a 3×5 index card. It doesn’t always happen, but that’s the goal. Inside of the A-zone of an IPSC silhouette is certainly a 100% achievable goal at that distance. At 50 yards, we should be able to consistently hit a C-zone sized target.

When it comes to balancing that accuracy with speed, there are a lot of variables at play. Personally, I strive for, and typically maintain, a sub-1:00 second draw from concealment to first shot, to a 3×5 index card, out to 30 feet. For students in coursework, I expect them to be able to hit that 3×5 index card, out to 30 feet, every time, from a concealed drawstroke, in less than 1.25 seconds, by the end of a three day class. Typically, by the morning of Training Day Three, 80-90% of students are achieving it, with relative ease.

How Do We Achieve This?

The method I use to build this skill, at the basic level, is identical, whether we’re discussing clandestine carry pistol, or fighting carbine.

  1. We build the basic neural motor pathways, by lots of dry-fire and live-fire repetitions of the basic skill, without any time pressure.
  2. Once the skill seems to be getting drilled in, I will test each student individually, having them perform the basic drill as fast as they can, while still feeling absolutely confident that they can do it right. If they get it wrong, we do it again, slower. Once we have a time for students, we have a baseline time to improve from. If you don’t know where you’re at, you can’t navigate to where you want to go, right?
  3. In a class environment, we will start with the slowest time, and we will perform ten to twenty repetitions, dry-fire, at that time, minus one-tenth of a second. Once we’ve done the repetitions, and even the slowest student sees that he can go 1/10th of a second faster, we test it live-fire. Then, we go 1/10th of a second faster still, and repeat. By “forcing” the students to go faster, they get faster. If we find someone starts missing, from pushing too fast, we’ll stay at that time standard for some extra repetitions, until they are getting it.

Using this exact methodology, I’ve had complete novices manage to make C-zone hits in sub-1:00 second at 100, with a carbine, in less than four training hours. I’ve had students in my Clandestine Carry Pistol course, who had never drawn their weapon from concealment, getting hits on a 3×5 index card, at 30 feet, in less than 1.25 seconds, in less than a complete eight-hour training day.

The secret, as I understand it—and I’m no neuroscientist, so keep that in mind—is that by “forcing” ourselves to go faster, while maintaining our accuracy standard, we are actually “allowing” our brain to do what it is wired to do, which is train our nervous system to perform more efficiently.

Conclusions

Speed and accuracy are relative. Ultimately, for your combat-effective marksmanship training, you have to decide what is adequate accuracy for you, both for pure marksmanship, and marksmanship at speed, under stress. Then, you have to decide how fast you can achieve that level of accuracy. What I can tell you, with absolute certainty, is that, if your “pure marksmanship” standard of accuracy is 4MOA, you are not going to be able to pull off 2MOA, for a speed standard, under stress.

There are caveats to these considerations, of course. In the real-world, as opposed to the range, there are probably going to be non-combatants downrange. Suddenly, you’re going to have to slow down anyway, to ensure that a) the dude you’re shooting is actually a bad guy, and b) if you do miss the bad guy, your round isn’t going to go past him and center-punch somebody’s seven year old. If we’ve set ourselves up for success by shooting with extreme precision, at extreme speeds, in training, we make the ability to make those decisions and shots more realistic. The underlying rule needs to be, “Don’t shoot any faster than you’re able…but be able to shoot as fast as you need.

At the end of the day, for me, snapping one-second shots at 100M, or drawing and firing at 10 meters, in sub-1:00 isn’t about the time recorded on the timer. It’s not about “how fast I am!” It is about building those neural pathways to be so efficient that I no longer have to think about them in order to execute the task correctly, and efficiently. It works, and it works well.

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If you like to travel, or are even thinking about it, then you should really check out this video series from John Lovell.

John’s a former Army Ranger, war veteran, and full-time firearms/tactics instructor and he’s a good Christian guy who’s actually pretty entertaining to watch.

Traveling to third-world countries and other places that most TV news stations would say are rampant with murder and crime is usually safer than you think. Because American news is mostly fear-mongering propaganda.

That said, it pays to be prepared! Check out what you can do when you have to travel “un-armed” to other countries:

Travel Safety Tips: PT.1 Introduction

John is in Costa Rica and shares some advice from a local. Pretty funny story in here about a missionary group that got mugged THREE times! And of course what they did wrong

Travel Safety Tips: PT.2 General Advice

John shares some “common sense” advice that’s not that common unfortunately for traveling in foreign countries, especially third world countries. Good ideas on handling your passport in here. I really need to take John’s advice.

Travel Safety Tips: PT.3 Pretravel Preparation

John talks about pre-travel tips like how to do risk assessments for your destination, insurance considerations, medical considerations, education on the culture you intend to visit, hotel considerations, and more.

I have to admit, I don’t do half this stuff before traveling. And I should. This is all good advice.

Travel Safety Tips: PT.4 Advice for Hotels, Transit, Assault, etc

In this video John gives advice and quick tips for foreign travel on buses, taxis, personal vehicles, and planes as well as going through airports and crossing borders. He also covers staying in hotels or other people’s homes internationally and talks through responding to assaults/muggings.

Just a lot of good “rapid fire” tips here on traveling and getting around in foreign countries that are good tips.

Do You Know Of Any Other Good Travel Tips For Prepared Gun Owners?

These are great tips for those that want to be prepared to travel.

I know this guy, who is supposed to release a book on traveling because he has lots of experience. But it’s taking a while 🙂

At least he regularly posts a LOT of good info on travel safety after his globe trotting adventures, like these.

Leave some other good tips in the comments or other people to check out regarding this type of info.

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Every gun guy (or gal) loves guns.

The only thing better is new guns right?

That’s why I was super excited about handling all the new guns at SHOT Show 2017 this year that I could!

Check out these new guns (that look super promising!) from Beretta, Salient, and Smith & Wesson!

1. Arsenal Firearms USA Stryk B Pistol from Salient


As much as I love new guns, I’m more the “what’s the point?” with new designs. Or “if it aint broke don’t fix it”, but from what I’ve seen this is kind of cool.

Salient is a high-end custom gun maker that — generally — focuses on customizes Glock pistols. They teamed up with Arsenal Firearms to bring this gun to the USA and as a bonus it has a lot of Salient “work” done to it that you would normally have to pay for like the:

* grip
* trigger
* sights

… Which, when you think about it — other than the cosmetic stuff Salient does — is kind of the only things they do to Glocks right?

What makes it more interesting is the design, still striker fired but based off a different barrel locking design. Wikipedia explains it this way:

“The Strike One uses a Bergmann System introduced in the Bergmann–Bayard pistol. Unlike the Browning system, the barrel does not tilt. It is locked with a Y shaped part that during the recoil locks the barrel and bolt and half way through it drops, releasing the barrel. The barrel stops its motion, the bolt continues back, ejecting the spent cartridge case and loading fresh cartridge and on its way back the Y shaped locking fork reengages and the barrel and bolt move together forward. Instead of tilting the barrel only moves in a straight line, thus increasing the accuracy. “

Which I don’t fully understand but is still pretty cool because of one thing. The super low bore axis on this gun. In short, as you can see by how “thin” the beaver tail is–you can get a SUPER high grip on the gun.

That may not sound exciting but a low bore axis is one of the primary benefits of the Glock platform, because the higher the grip you can get on the gun, the better your shooting performance (speed, pointability and most of all controlling recoil). In fact, Robert Vogel, the champion shooter of champion shooters says “My number one reason for preferring the Glock is the grip I am able to get on the pistol. Because of the grip angle, ergonomics and low bore axis of the pistol I can get a much higher and more secure grip with both hands. This in effect translates into a shooting platform that is more effective in controlling recoil.

The Stryk B has an even lower bore axis, so if it’s reliable it will be interesting to see if it catches on!

In the video below, the rep at the SHOT Show 2017 booth explains more about the gun:


2. Beretta PX4 Storm Compact Carry


In collaboration with Ernest Langdon, The Beretta PX4 Compact Carry was developed with custom features to offer a lightweight hammer fired, DA/SA concealed carry gun.


Ernest has been a been a long proponent of Beretta DA/SA pistols for their accuracy, reliability, and safety. I remember reading the original thread where the idea of this gun was born on Pistol-Forum.com called “The PX4 Compact might be my DA/SA Glock 19”.

The PX4 Compact was a natural choice as the base of this project because of its rotary barrel design, ammo capacity and smooth trigger pull. Incorporating the stealth levers, night sights, and a lightened trigger pull makes this flat shooting pistol an ideal concealed carry gun.


From Beretta, “Though it is completely concealable, the Compact offers a full grip for most shooters. The Compact offers full 16 round capacity (15+1 in 9mm), an accessory rail, low-profile slide stop, new integral and retractable lanyard loop, and a cold hammer forged barrel for ultimate precision.”

Honestly, as far as DA/SA pistols go, at about the same size as a Glock 19 this is probably the best option for concealed carry. When you think about it, it ALREADY has all the “custom” stuff you might do to a carry gun done already. Though it’s worth noting there’s a version Ernie is doing with Robar with all their “slick” components.


3. S&W M&P 2.0


Ah, the Smith & Wesson M&P 9. How I want to love you and how many have and how you have had so many problems too.

To Smith & Wesson the company? Thank you for listening to your customers.


Not sure how many people know this, but the original Smith & Wesson M&P pistols had some serious issues. Not the least of which was accuracy problems because–if I recall correctly the source of the problems–the barrels were bored out off center.

My buddy John Murphy fought with the issues that plagued the M&P for some time before giving up on the platform.

Anyways, the Smith & Wesson M&P 2.0 is a big improvement over the 1.0 for the following reasons:

1. Stiffer frame for less recoil. They added steel into the polymer frame for this. That’s what the “cool looking” window holes are for, you can see the steel underneath.

2. Four grip frame options: small, medium, large and “in between” called medium/large.

3. Lightened slide. Because people like this on the polymer guns …

4. New Pro Series Trigger! This was a HUGE complaint of many M&P shooters who could actually … well … shoot. Everyone hated the original 1.0 M&P trigger. Most considered an Apex trigger upgrade a minimum requirement in the gun. The 2.0 comes standard with a pro series trigger.

There’s more too, but those are the things that most people complained about with the original M&P — so it’s nice to point out they’ve been “fixed” with the 2.0.


What do you think?

Do any of these new guns tickle your fancy?

Are you thinking of getting a new gun?

What do you think of the new offerings from Beretta, Salient and Smith & Wesson?

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Do you know the real problem in America, and why having a new president doesn’t help you much?

Unelected Officials.

This is the shadow government — referred to as the Deep State — comprised of unelected government bureaucrats, corporations, contractors, paper-pushers, and button-pushers who are actually calling the shots behind the scenes and running our government right now.

I’ll explain further and you’ll see how they’re ruining one Veteran’s business (and life) right under Trump’s nose:

What Is The Deep State And How Are They Running Our Country?

These are the unelected officials that actually run almost ALL of the different government organizations that can make your life hell.

Former congressional staffer Mike Lofgren has written extensively about this, saying:

It is a hybrid of national security and law enforcement agencies: the Department of Defense, the Department of State, the Department of Homeland Security, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Justice Department. I also include the Department of the Treasury because of its jurisdiction over financial flows, its enforcement of international sanctions and its organic symbiosis with Wall Street.

All these agencies are coordinated by the Executive Office of the President via the National Security Council. Certain key areas of the judiciary belong to the Deep State, such as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, whose actions are mysterious even to most members of Congress. Also included are a handful of vital federal trial courts, such as the Eastern District of Virginia and the Southern District of Manhattan, where sensitive proceedings in national security cases are conducted.

The final government component (and possibly last in precedence among the formal branches of government established by the Constitution) is a kind of rump Congress consisting of the congressional leadership and some (but not all) of the members of the defense and intelligence committees. The rest of Congress, normally so fractious and partisan, is mostly only intermittently aware of the Deep State and when required usually submits to a few well-chosen words from the State’s emissaries.”

The worse part, and my main point, is these are unelected officials within these organizations … they are NOT elected by the people … that means … that they have absolutely no responsibility to the people.

You can’t vote them into or out of office.

You can’t bombard their office with letters/phone calls about how you’re displeased with their service (well, you theoretically could, if you could find out who was actually in charge).

And yet, they have the power to interpret laws — using their own opinions — and those opinions have the power of law.

So when they interpret laws how they see fit, they have the POWER of law, without ever having Congress pass a law.

And they make the VAST majority of the decisions. This Forbes article (from 2011) notes (emphasis mine):

Congress has exceeded its constitutional authority in delegating such power to unaccountable agencies. Sadly, this is not limited just to these recent laws, but rather it is business as usual in Washington, D.C.

Today there are more than 300 independent and regulatory agencies that publish more than 75,000 pages of new and proposed rules in the Federal Register every year. At the beginning of each calendar quarter, the executive orders, rules and regulations in the Federal Register that become final law are included in the Code of Federal Regulations. The current edition of the Code of Federal Regulations is more than 200 volumes in length. By comparison, the entire U.S. Code, which contains all the laws passed by Congress and signed by the president, is roughly 35 volumes.”

Get it?

This article, printed in 2011 no less, makes it clear: 200 volumes of rules/regulations by unaccountable officials that actually govern your life VS only 35 volumes of laws actually passed by Congress and signed by the President.

That’s how stuff like this happens …

ATF Shuts Down Veteran’s Solvent Trap Line

SD Tactical Arms of Prescott, Arizona sells firearms stuff. It appears that they sold both regular NFA-regulated silencers of their own manufacture and also a line of “solvent traps”.

As of today the ATF shut down our business of selling solvent traps,” A Facebook post by SD says.

The continue, “This is 99% of our income. They have put 3 Veterans, my wife and son out of work. They said I can’t sell freeze plugs. NAPA can’t even sell them to us because they are a suppressor part. They said all I can sell is complete suppressors.

SD is appealing and hoping the new president will help, using the hashtag #Americandreamlost on Social Media he says:

My plea for help is to make this Viral to the Trump admin, the Trump family and such. I have been put in the street over mindless opinions. I had talked to the ATF in the past and they had no issues. Today they shut us down,” reads the post.

SD Tactical noted the ATF did not get a copy of their customer list.

They also noted that if the new silencer act in Congress doesn’t pass, then they will have to go out of business (because the Solvent Traps were such a big source of revenue).

Again, this is the problem with unelected officials like the ones who run the ATF who are given the power to decide how to interpret laws.

They can change their minds on a whim and their “opinions” have the force of law!

And you can’t vote these guys out because they work for the organization not the people.

(That’s why regime changes in Washington rarely amount to much real change in your day-to-day life and level of freedom.)

How The ATF Could Throw You In Jail For Owning a Gun and a Water Bottle

From what I gather, SD posted what appears to be the text of a letter from the ATF’s Firearms Industry programs Branch (FIPB) which first said:

The stated intent of a solvent trap is to catch and trap gun cleaning solvent during bore cleaning operations commonly performed on firearms. Solvent traps do attach to the muzzle of a firearm but do not have any design features intended to allow a bullet to pass through them. Since as originally manufactured they are not intended to silence, muffle or diminish the report of a portable firearm they are not silencers..

It also said this:

However, if the solvent trapped (sic) was redesigned or utilized to assemble a device for silencing, muffling or diminishing the report of a portable firearm or if intent was demonstrated to use the device for silencing, muffling or diminishing the report of a portable firearm, the solvent trap would be classified as a “firearm silencer.”

So by using this logic, and shutting down this man’s business, basically ANYTHING that could be “redesigned” into a silencing device would be grounds for violating the NFA laws against silencers.

Think about that logic.

So that means if you have a gun and a water bottle sitting in your home, the ATF could potentially bust you using the same type of logic because “while the stated intent” of a water bottle is not to be a silencer and “as originally manufactured they are not intended to silence, muffle or diminish the report of a portable firearm they are not silencers …”

But remember! The ATF says “However, if the water bottle (sic) was redesigned or utilized to assemble a device for silencing, muffling or diminishing the report of a portable firearm or if intent was demonstrated to use the device for silencing, muffling or diminishing the report of a portable firearm, the water bottle would be classified as a “firearm silencer.”

Of course, a quick visit to Youtube reveals how to “redesign or utilize” a water bottle to assemble a silencer:

You’ll note that nothing about the SD Tactical shut down said they had ACTUALLY turned these solvent traps into silencers.

The entire shutdown appears to be because people could potentially turn them into silencers.

That’s crazy.

But this is the America we’re living in and why — even though I personally LIKE Trump and think he’s awesome — I don’t think much will change under his administration because practically our entire country/government is actually ran by the unelected “shadow government” or “Deep State” that is responsible to no one but themselves.

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While I was out at SHOT Show 2017, I took a great interest in products that can help you be more prepared.

There’s always been a big gap in the market in my mind with no companies producing good “fast-access” gun safes for AR-15’s or other home defense carbines. Sure, I and many people own a fast-access safe for our handguns, but not rifles.

That’s why I’m excited about these cool new fast-access gun safes for AR-15’s because they look promising:

1. Gunvault Wall Mount “ARVAULT” Fast-Access Gun Safe


And open …


Gunvault is a known producer of fast-access gun safes.

In fact, the fast-access gun safes that I my handguns are sitting in are all Gunvault brand if I remember correctly.

That’s why I was excited to stop by their SHOT Show 2017 booth and see their new ARVAULT for the AR-15 available.

The design is VERY much like their proven handgun safes. It’s a clam-shell. They are going to offer a digital code and also the Biometric-digital versions both with backup override keys. I still don’t trust those darn robots so I prefer the finger code version.

You can wall mount it so a thief just doesn’t grab it and walk away. The locking box covers the trigger and magazine section. In the picture I took a Trijicon MRO red dot sight was on the AR-15, you’ll notice that it takes up most of the available room so you wouldn’t be able to run a full size or low power variable optic with this setup, but a red dot for home defense use is just right here. I do NOT think it fits a 30-round magazine though … my only concern.

Really neat product, and I’m actually looking forward to getting one myself. Check it out at GunVault.com


2. Gunvault Tacsafe


I thought I would mention the Gunvault Tacsafe here because I haven’t seen much about it online. Although, according to my research it’s not “new” just not widely stocked anywhere (that I can find).

It also is offered with a fast-access key code lock. It DOES fit a 30-round magazine because it basically resembles a “1 rifle” gun safe that you can stick in a closet or a corner in your bedroom. This is definitely more traditional and more expensive than the ARVault, but I wanted to mention it here becuase it’s from Gunvault — the same company — and was high on my list before the ARVAULT came out. Again, more on the GunVault.com website.


3. The Boomdock fast-access gun safe.


This is another wall-mounted fast-access design and it has a lot of neat features from what the rep was showing me …


1. It can fit not just AR-15’s but shotguns and other home defense long guns.

2. Allows rapid access to your home defense long gun in under 3 seconds with the included RFID card (Also opens with a programmable 4 digit PIN)

3. Will hold long guns with a variety of accessories (because of the adjustable rail inside)

4. Has a motion activated LED light to illuminate your keypad

5. Includes several safety features such as a steel pin that blocks the trigger from being pulled while your long gun is in the BoomDock® (it goes BEHIND the trigger in the trigger guard)

6. It has an adjustable “mount” on the inside that allows you to fit different size guns in there — no matter what mods you’ve made to your AR or other long gun

In the video below you can see some of the features demonstrated:

Check them out at BoomDock.com.


What do you think?

Do you think these fast-access AR-15 style safes will catch on?

Planning on picking any of these up?

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