Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Basics of Knives and Knife Points

I’m not a knife guy, I’m a gun guy. But the more knives I get, the more I’m becoming a gun/knife guy. If you’re not a knife guy (or person) you should know that all knives are not created equal. One blade may not be good for one job but is good for a different job.
Here are a few ideas.
Survival Knife
A survival knife is commonly regarded as the most important tool when you’re out in the wilderness. While choosing a survival knife is a personal task (what’s right for one person may not be right for another), there are a few things everyone should look for.
Full tang – A full tang design means the steel of the blade continues all the way to the end of the handle in one piece. This creates a stronger knife that can handle more stress.
Fixed Blade – A fixed blade knife is more durable. Folding knives tend to have shorter and thinner blades, which limits the ways in which they can be used. A fixed blade is your best bet in survival situations.
Length of Blade – For the most versatile survival knife, choose one with a blade between four to six inches. Also, the thicker the blade, the better it will stand up to hard use. A good general rule is about 3/16 -4/16 of an inch thick.
Pocket Knife
A pocket knife is exactly what its name implies, a knife that can be carried in your pocket. It’s a general purpose tool that comes in various designs and sizes. There are, however, a few common traits you’ll want to look for when considering a new pocket knife.
Every Day Carry (EDC) – An Every Day Carry knife is one that you regularly carry. For most knife enthusiasts, an EDC knife truly is carried every day.
Blade Length – Generally, a blade between 3 to 4 inches is best. A longer blade will make the knife more difficult to carry, and a blade that’s too short won’t be able to accomplish many of the tasks you’re likely to take on.
Durability – You won’t always be able to tell at first glance if a knife is going to be durable but look for things like coated blades or nylon handles, as these point to a stronger overall knife.
Hunting Knife
A good hunting knife will be versatile enough to do everything the hunter needs. But it’s not as simple as that. For instance, a large game hunter will want a much bigger knife than a rabbit hunter. Before purchasing your hunting knife, take the following into consideration.
Fixed Blade or Folders – Folders are easier to carry but fixed blades are generally better at getting the job done. They’re stronger and more reliable.
Full tang – Much like your survival knife, you’ll want a full tang design for your hunting knife too. Partial tang designs won’t work very well in this capacity.
Handles – Look for non-slip handles that are comfortable in the hand. You’ll be using your hunting knife a lot so you’ll want to make sure it’s comfortable.
As always, don’t forget to keep your knives sharp. Regular maintenance improves the longevity of your knives.
Here is also a comparison of knife blade points.

Clip Point

The clip point is one of the most popular blades in circulation today. The back (unsharpened) edge of a clip point has a concave shape, designed to make the tip sharper. This creates a "cut out" area that can be straight or curved.
Ideal Use: Clip-point blades are great for everyday needs, but can also be used for hunting. Since clip points have a narrow point, it's better for piercing and the deep belly makes it optimal for slicing.
Drop Point

The drop point is another great all-purpose blade. The dull section of the drop-point blade runs straight from the handle, eventually sloping down gently to meet the sharpened edge and forming the point.
Drop-point blades are usually found on hunting or survival knives, but they can also be found on some larger models of Swiss Army knives.
Ideal Use: Drop points are ideal for skinning and piercing, because they have a large belly and a controllable point that makes it easier to avoid nicking internal organs.
Straight-Back Blade

The straight-back blade is also referred to as a normal blade because it's a very traditional blade shape. The front of the knife has a curved edge while the back has a straight, dull back that allows for additional pressure.
Ideal Use: The normal blade is an all-purpose knife great for chopping and slicing, which is why it's a design you often find on kitchen knives.
Needle Point

A needle-point blade is symmetrical and sharply tapers into a point. The thin point is great for piercing objects, but it's very vulnerable and can break pretty easily. Needle-point blades have two sharp edges, but the lack of belly makes it difficult to use for slicing. Needle points are much less common on folding knives, but they can be found on certain knives like stilettos.
Ideal Use: The specialty of the needle point is piercing, so it's not good for much but it can be a great asset for self-defense.
Spear Point

On a spear-point blade, both edges rise and fall equally to create a point that lines up perfectly with the center of the blade. Spear-point blades have an extremely sharp point that is good for piercing, though only if both edges are sharpened.
Spear-point blades can be single or double-edged. They do have a small belly, but aren't nearly as well suited for slicing as drop-point or clip-point blades.
Ideal Use: The spear point is best with piercing, but unlike the needle point, it has a belly that allows for some slicing.
Tanto Point

The tanto point, which is also sometimes called the chisel point because of its resemblance to a chisel, is a well-liked point because of its unique look and strength. A tanto has a high point with a flat grind but no belly.
Ideal Use: The tanto point is not an all-purpose blade but its design does make it great for push cuts and piercing tougher materials.
Sheepsfoot Blade

If you're clumsy with a knife, do yourself a favor and get a sheepsfoot blade. Though ideal for cutting and slicing because of its flat cutting edge, a sheepsfoot blade has a dull point that makes it difficult—though not impossible—to injure yourself.
Ideal Use: Sheepsfoot knives are popular among emergency responders, as they allow them to slice away at seatbelts and other restraints without stabbing the victim by accident. They were originally made to trim a sheep's foot, which also makes them good for whittling.
Trailing Point

A trailing-point blade has a back that curves upward to make a deep belly perfect for slicing. This design is fairly lightweight, but the point is very weak.
Ideal Use: The large cutting area makes the trailing point ideal for skinning and slicing.
Pen Blade

This tiny blade is often found on Swiss Army knives. The dull and sharp sides of the blade slope at the same degree, making it appear similar to a spear point.
Ideal Use: These knives were previously used for sharpening a quill in order to make writing instruments. Though not exceptionally sharp, a pen blade is a great tool to have in your pocket and is perfect for small tasks.
Wharncliffe Blade

The wharncliffe is nearly identical to the sheepsfoot except for a few minor differences. First, the back of the blade starts to curve closer to the handle for a gradual curve. These blades are also significantly thicker than you'd normally see on a blade this size.
Ideal Use: Perfect for things like carving wood and cutting ability, the wharncliffe is a great all-around blade.
Spey-Point Blade

The spey-point blade gets its name from having the dubious honor of once being used to spey livestock. The blade has a mostly straight edge that curves upward and a straight back with a short flat edge that runs to the tip.
Ideal Use: Spey-point blades are often found on knives with multiple blades and are great for skinning fur-bearing animals.
Hawkbill Blade

The hawkbill is a very distinctive blade type that resembles the curved shape of a hawk’s bill. It has a concave cutting edge and the spine of the blade is typically dull.
Ideal Use: The shape of the blade is limiting so it isn’t great for everyday carry, but it excels at the jobs it’s good at, such as opening boxes, stripping wires, cutting cord and more.
Other Blade Shapes
The previous blade shapes are the most common ones that you'll see, but there are also an array of modified versions and completely original designs found in only a few knives. For example, Spyderco has several unique shapes like the leaf-shaped blade not found in this guide. By using the outline of the shapes above, you can figure out what the ideal use of any blade type would be.

There is a lot to consider when buying a knife. Do your homework and get the knife that is going to work best for you.

Semper Paratus
Check 6


Thursday, March 26, 2015

Concealed Carry/Home Defense: Verbal Warnings

Several years ago I took a basic handgun course with a friend of mine. They didn’t want to go alone so I went with them. Half way through the class I politely excused myself and stayed out until the course was finished. When my friend asked why I didn’t come back I told them I couldn’t stay in a class that was being taught in such a way. The instructor taught with a lot of stories. I don’t have a big problem with that, I tell several stories whenever I teach. But the stories seemed untrue. Maybe it was just the way he told them. Between that and some content that I did not agree with, I couldn’t stay in the room without saying something. I didn’t think it was my place nor did I want to embarrass anyone so I had to leave. There is one thing that this instructor said that I think is prevalent in the concealed carry community. That is that if you pull your weapon, you’d better use it. Statistics say reality is different. Less than 1% of self-defense situations where a gun is pulled, end in an exchange of gunfire or fatality. Often the introduction of a gun into the situation resolves the situation.
But if you draw your weapon and can see you do not have to shoot right now, you should have some verbal commands. Using these commands may still end in you shooting, but often it will defuse the situation or at least cover you in court. If witnesses hear you trying to resolve without pressing the trigger then this is all the better if you end up in court. You gave the perp a chance to withdraw or surrender.
Every situation is different because you may not have time to give a verbal warning. But remember that once you have shot, as many as are needed, give a verbal command to the perp who is down. The attacker may not be completely stopped. Giving commands will continue to help you in a legal situation.
When you train, use these commands so that they will come easy when a real world situation arises. Use a short, sharp first command such as “Stop!” or “Halt!” Law enforcement would probably use “Police” or “Sheriff’s Office” but as a civilian something short and easy to remember should be trained. I recommend a follow-up command to be “Drop your weapon!” This covers everything from a stick to a baseball bat, a knife to a gun. The word “weapon” covers anything that can be used as a weapon.

If you see compliance I would recommend “Hands! Show me your hands!” If there is no compliance something like “Don’t make me shoot you!” would be a plea to not do anything stupid or threatening because you don’t want to shoot anyone. This is good for the witnesses and psychology for the perpetrator. It tells the witnesses that you don’t really want to shoot, and it tells the attacker that if they don’t comply they will get shot. If a shooting does occur, the words, “Don’t make me,” give the strong impression that you as a shooter had no other choice and the bad guy forced you to press the trigger due to his overt actions. The perp forced you to fire by ignoring your command, advancing and threatening you.
I would strongly recommend using a verbal command in defending your home at night. You should also be using a flashlight and having 100% target recognition at night in your home. With verbal commands you may experience this:
” Stop! Drop the weapon! Don’t make me shoot you!” and hearing the words, “Dad, it’s me! Don’t shoot.” Anytime there is uncertainty a verbal warning might be in order.
Not every situation will give you time to provide an audible warning, and a challenge should only be used when the opportunity arises. Just like giving the recommended warning above, the mere fact you did so also bodes well under investigator scrutiny. By issuing a verbal challenge, you tried to minimize the risk to the suspect. Anything that helps you on scene and during your court defense is certainly worth considering.

As was said before, even if you begin to give the warning and have to shoot, complete your statements and repeat them. For example, “Stop, drop the weapon -BANG, BANG- Don’t make me -BANG- shoot you again.” Then repeat the statement even if the suspect goes down. In most circumstances pistol calibers do not kill outright unless you target the electrical system of the body (brain or spine) and your bad guy could still be alive on the ground after being shot. Continue repeating the warning to also let everyone know that even on the ground he can still be a threat, and if you have to make follow up shots, you are again justifying your actions on scene and later in court. Just because a suspect is down, does not mean the threat is over and you can still be hurt or killed by someone who is on the ground and injured.

Whether you borrow my challenge or come up with one of your own, make sure it is clear, simple to say and understand and train it!

Semper Paratus
Check 6

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Medical: Wound Care Kit

I’ve wanted to do this article for a while but have put it off. Now I will try. I have a friend who is a combat medic for a special operations team. He has lots of medical training and experience in the field. I asked him about the idea of a wound closure kit and he liked the idea. So I asked for his input. Here is some of his ideas and some of mine. May I say at first that I only have the basic of medical training. I’ve been trained in CPR and first aid. In the military they call it “buddy care”. I’ve taught basic first aid to Boy Scouts for years. But that’s as far as it goes. I had a hospital worked, laboratory technician teach me how to put in an IV and take blood. I had a MD teach me the basics of suturing. I had a nurse teach me to take temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate, but that is the extent of it. I have many children and so I’ve cared for them in the basic way we all do as parents with sick kids. So take this information for what it is, my opinion. I am not a medical professional.
If you want to properly close wounds, then you will need the appropriate medical supplies. Of course, you can use anything that you can get your hands on, but the goal of medical preparedness is to ensure you have the correct supplies for the task. First, you need to choose if you will build kits or keep your supplies in their original packaging, or a combination of both. If you have a mobile or outdoors mentality, I recommend building kits instead of having bulk supplies. If your goal is to set up a home clinic, then leave your bulk supplies in their original packaging; packaging materials for kits cost additional money. Additionally, there are different types of wound closure kits, from small kits to large kits just like the emergency room may use.
Most of the commercially available suturing kits are drastically overpriced, and will only have enough supplies for one wound closure. If you construct your own, you can build 20+ high quality kits for the same price as five commercial products. When constructing kits, purchase items in bulk. This means there is a high initial cost, but you have the ability to create many kits at a time. The more items you purchase, the cheaper it usually is; a group buy can spread the cost over multiple individuals. In some cases, it only costs a little more to purchase 50 items, than it would to purchase five individually packaged items.
A Wound Closure Kit contains many of the items needed for proper wound cleaning and closure, and provides multiple methods for closure (sutures and strips). If you are building a kit, I recommend using heavy duty bags as the external packaging. A heavy duty Mylar bag (4 mil thickness or greater) ensures the supplies are protected against light and moisture, limiting exposure which may cause some of the supplies to lose their sterilization and/or effectiveness, and can take some abuse before it is punctured. You can easily throw this kind of package in your vehicle or emergency bag, and forget about it. The bags that we use also include a zip-lock, so we can reseal the bag to protect the unused supplies.
Inside of the bag, the kit is separated into logical steps, or modules. Each module is designed for an intended purpose, however the supplies can be used in any of the steps (example – The sterile gauze sponge can be used during the flush process and/or during the closure process). Lastly, some of the supplies are loose packaged, due to their size. The modularity of the kit allows the administrator to use only the supplies needed for a particular injury, and to save the remaining supplies for a later use.
Some items were not included in this example kit due to prescription/licensing issues, to reduce the overall cost, and situation dependent reasons. Therefore, if you model your kits after ours, you will need to supplement with these durable and expendable Add-on items.
Lastly, you will need to shop around before making purchases. Most of what we purchased was on Amazon. However, do not be afraid to purchase medical items directly from manufacturer websites or eBay. Manufacturers usually have clearance specials. Most of the individuals that sell medical items on eBay acquire the items through purchasing surplus lots. Usually, these sellers are willing to get rid of the items that you need at the fraction of the retail cost.
When building any medical kit, we recommend taking a modular approach.
Flush Module
Zero Wet Splash Shield (This is to isolate your flushing to the wound)
20cc Syringe
Iodine, 10cc bottle
Pair of gloves
Preparation Module
Iodine swabs
Alcohol pads
Fenestrated Drape (A drape with a hole in it)
Regular Drape
Surgical gloves
Surgical mask
10 pac tray of guaze sponges
Closure Module
Suture 1-3/0 1-4/0
Suture PGA (absorbable)
Steri strips (1/4x3”)
Bandage Module
No stick 3X4 (2)
Abdominal pad 5X9 (1)
Self adherent bandage 2X5 yards (1)
Antibiotic ointment
Add On
Saline solution
Needle driver, tweezers, forceps
Chux pads
Lidocaine 10ml syringe, needle (prescription item)
This is just to get you started or to give you an idea for your own kit. If you have more training or feel you will have access to someone with more training, then add those items.
The Lidocaine is a prescription item but you may have access to it and the training to use it.
I hope you will consider learning new skills and getting the training needed to be effective if there is no help in sight.
Semper Paratus
Check 6

Choosing A Self-Defense Pen

Tactical pens are a good self-defense tool as a back-up weapon.
Before I go any further let’s get the disclaimer out of the way. I am not a lawyer. My legal advice is to get legal advice from a competent lawyer. Some say that to use a tactical pen puts you at legal risk. I think using any weapon, especially a gun, will put you at legal risk. So should I just not carry anything because of the risk? No, I will continue to carry self-defense weapons.
A tactical pen might not be as effective as a firearm or as intimidating as a knife, but it can certainly be better than no weapon in your everyday carry (EDC) options. A weaponized writing instrument can do damage to a bad guy yet still be carried in most settings without alarming law enforcement or the public.
But not all pens are created equal. Here are some attributes to consider when shopping for a self-defense pen:
Ink: Don’t forget this tool’s original mission: writing. If you can’t sign a credit card receipt without the ink skipping, leaking, or running dry, your pen is nothing more than a tactical pocket stick. Also look for a model that lets you easily replace the ink cartridge.
Design: Capped or retractable? The former requires you to pull or twist a cap while the latter uses a pushbutton to activate the retractable pen. Each one has its pros and cons.
Materials: The plastic in your Bic won’t cut it. Look for a pen made of strong, durable, lightweight components (aluminum, titanium, composite, etc.).
Grip: The pen has to feel natural in the hand. If it’s uncomfortable when you’re writing, imagine how it’ll feel when striking a mugger.
Clip: A strong pocket clip that won’t bend (let alone snap off) is vital to secure carry and a quick draw when you need it.
Aesthetics: It’s more than just selecting the coolest-looking model. An regular looking pen won’t draw unwanted attention or get confiscated at the airport.
There are many of these pens on the market. I prefer the Maxam tactical pen. Maxam has more than one model. I like the 2 piece, flat head cap and the spike on the other end. I like the pen and the price.
After you’ve decided on a pen find a self-defense instructor that gives classes on how to use a self-defense pen. Then get trained! Ask your instructor if there are some drills you can use to practice, then practice!
Like anything else that is possibly lethal or dangerous, be careful in your practice and learn to use this weapon with precision.
Semper Paratus
Check 6

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Gun Terms: Don't Be An Idiot

I was watching a news report about the latest ammunition issue with M85 ammo. At the risk of this turning into a rant let me speak of reporters, or anyone else, speaking or reporting on gun issues. If you want to be taken seriously, do your homework and speak intelligently.
I don’t know anything about giving a hair permanent. I’m sure a beautician can set me straight. The point is, if I am going to whine and complain about the smell of a permanent (which by the way is NOT permanent…) then I should have an idea about the proper terms. I do not know what I’m talking about, so I don’t think I should put in my 2 cents. I guess I could, we still have free speech in this country. But I shouldn’t be expected to be taken seriously by the beautician world if I don’t know the difference between a rod and a curler. (Which I don’t really..)
The gun world has some specific terms that someone trying to talk intelligently about, should learn.
Bullets and Cartridges
Ammunition or cartridges is what you shoot. Case, bullet, propellant, and primer. Often “bullet” is used when it’s intended as cartridge. Don’t make that mistake if you want to be taken seriously. Those that do know will completely discount your opinion if you don’t speak, or write, like you know what you’re talking about. I know, it’s a real picky thing. I think it’s important though. Everyone can make a mistake but don’t scoff when the opposition corrects you. Get it right if you want to give an argument.
Magazines and Clips
Guns and the way they are fed are another issue. A magazine feeds a weapon, a clip feeds a magazine. I don’t really get all uptight if the wrong term is used, unless you are trying to speak or write with authority. Please don’t bother without at least giving an effort to correct verbiage.
Assault Rifle and Semi-automatic Rifle
Know that “assault rifle” is a vague and unofficial term. The term was used by the military occasionally in the 40’s and 50’s but then really was not used until the media decided all AK and AR variants were dubbed assault weapons. I shot an assault rifle in the military, it was a CAR-15. Often they are referred to as automatic in the civilian world. Civilian versions of these guns will always be in semi-automatic. To own a fully automatic weapon you must purchase a $200 tax stamp for each weapon. The NFA (National Firearms Act) closed that registry in 1986 so if you wanted to buy an automatic weapon, you would have to obtain a Class III Federal Firearm License (FFL). Because of this, automatic weapons are very high in price and can be bought only from a Class III dealer. Just remember, automatic and machine gun are terms that are the same. By the way, machine guns are legal in most states.
Other terms are:
Accuracy and Precision
Accuracy is a measurement of a person’s ability to hit where they are aiming consistently. Precision is how small those groups of shots are.
Suppressor and Silencer
Many experts believe that silencer has no correct usage. Suppressors moderate escaping gases, greatly reducing but not eliminating noise. Suppressors are legal to own if you go through the process. I don’t think that a silencer actually exists but the ATF uses the word.
Extractor and Ejector
This is not as common as some of those above but it pops up every now and then. Just remember and extractor extracts a spent case from the barrel. The next step is to get rid of (eject) the empty case. That would be the job of the ejector.
Cartridge and Case
The cartridge is a fully put together round. The case is a component of the cartridge. The case holds everything together. The bullet, the primer, and the propellant is in the case. Sometimes the case is called the shell. In shotgun shooting the cartridge is a shotshell, sometimes referred to as a shell, the whole cartridge. Shotshells consist of the case or hull, the primer, the propellant, the wad, and the shot or slug. This seems a little confusing because shotshells are often referred to as shotgun shells.
There are other gun terms that should be straight to not sound like an idiot.
The words “high caliber” doesn’t mean anything.
The NRA (National Rifle Association) is not the gun industry lobby. That would be the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF).
Ammunition in a burning building is no danger to firefighters. Without a chamber and barrel, a cartridge won’t go off and shoot anywhere.
Guns are not required to be registered in most jurisdictions. So if a gun is unregistered, that makes about as much sense as an unregistered tire iron. But the ATF does have a firearm tracing system that supposedly complies with 18 U.S.C. 926(a). Almost all the guns in this database were recovered by law enforcement not from gun sales.
I have never known an ATF agent. I know FBI agents, Customs agents, Border Patrol agents, and even a Secret Service agent. From everything I have read about the ATF, I’ve never been impressed with the agency. I hope I am wrong.
To have an intelligent conversation about guns I believe you should understand some terms. Those that don’t bother to learn are doomed to reap the whirlwind. It’s too easy to label these lazy people as idiots and move on. If you want to put across an anti-gun point, you’d better know what you’re talking about, or you’ll look like an idiot.
I hope we can all keep our terms straight so we as gun owners or gun “experts” won’t also sound like idiots.
Semper Paratus
Check 6

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Concealed Carry: Train The Basics of Gun Defense

I saw a video the other day. It was a security camera of a pharmacy attempted robbery. A armed security guard was behind a desk when two armed assailants burst in. The security guard drew his weapon and started to shoot the attackers who had their weapons already out. They had the “drop” on him yet he still managed to get off the first shot. He put down effective fire, wounded one robber, and drove them away.
It is really difficult to beat a drawn gun but this guard did. How did he do it? That is what I’d like to explore.
Situational Awareness
I know it seems like I talk about this like it’s magic. It isn’t but it can usually give you an edge. Being aware will not stop an attacker. If he’s determined, he doesn’t care if you are looking right at him as a perceived threat. In some situations, criminals may select another target if you are aware, but it is not infallible. As I watched the video I was amazed how fast everything happened. But because the guard was paying attention he was able to respond. In a combat situation, seconds make a difference. Awareness can give you those few precious seconds that you may need. The bad guys left as fast as they came with wounds and fear to keep them running.
When guard sees the threat, he responds and doesn’t hesitate at all. Not only was this guard aware, he was smart enough to evaluate, get through his OODA loop quickly, and react with the only thing presented to him. I’m convinced that he would have been killed had he not shot first. (OODA Loop is explained in post, Developing Situational Awareness Part 2 (200th Post), 3/5/2015) He clearly had thought about using a weapon to defend himself. I’m sure that he thought about it many times and developed a mindset that he may have to shoot someone someday. His lack of hesitation shows that. When you accept that it may happen, learn the signs that it is happening, and make reasonable preparations on how to respond...the chances of a happy outcome increase dramatically.
I think that the attackers response, running away as fast as possible, shows their lack of real planning or a mindset. I guess they thought we’ll walk in there and just get what we want and walk out. They were not ready for violence. You should be. Someone with the resolve and skill to use a weapon will scare untrained, unprepared attackers. If they were too stupid or mean to leave, they probably would have been killed or at the least shot.
This guard got off the ”X” pretty fast and just kept moving. He became a moving target. He didn’t move fast or far, but the line of fire had to change and change often for the bad guys. He made them adjust when all he had to do was shoot toward the doorway they came in.
Using sights-Aiming
The guard pulled his two-handed grip up to his line of sight and fired. I’ve read, and heard, that doing this simple thing of aiming in a combat situation won’t happen. This is coming from people who are guessing, and don’t really know.
Follow through
When the few second firefight was over, the guard puts himself in a position to monitor the corridor and show as little of himself as possible. It was over, but he didn’t know that.
Being out numbered and out gunned didn’t make a difference to this guard. It’s interesting. One 50 something guard with the correct training, awareness, and mindset took on 3 idiots and had his way them. One dropped his gun and even left his shoes!
This is a great example of what to train for, and how to defend yourself.
Awareness, No hesitation, Movement, Aim, Follow through.
Learn it, live it, love it.

Semper Paratus
Check 6

Friday, March 6, 2015

Developing Situational Awareness Part 3

I talk a lot about situational awareness and paying attention. Especially pertaining to defense and security. I talk to my family about it until they have tuned me out. I want them to know and understand what situational awareness is and what to do to develop it. In this series we’ll talk about and try to explain situational awareness in more detail and how to develop it further.
To help understand this awareness we’ll use the OODA loop which we all use every day. As we go through out our day we Observe, Orient, Decide, Act many times. In competition or combat the one who goes through the OODA Loop correctly the fastest, usually wins.
The third point of more in depth situational awareness is Decide. We’ll also include the last and fourth point of Action in this post.
To be able to make good decisions you need good information (observe) and options. You have to have something to draw from. Training, experience, education. These give you options. Get trained in self-defense. Whether it is lethal or non-lethal weapons, or hand-to-hand defense, you’ll need training and practice. To have something to draw from you’ll need options. Does the threat warrant lethal force for defense? If you only train in one discipline you’ll only have one option.
General James N. Mattis, the Marine Commander for US CENTCOMM (U.S. Central Command) has said:
“Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.”
This seems like an odd bit of advice from a commander, but if you notice, he doesn’t say kill everyone, but to have a plan to.
Have a Plan of Action Based on What You Observe
You visit your favorite coffee shop and a bad guy with a gun decides to drop in as well. But because you’ve followed the principles above, you’re the first to see him as a threat. Great. But what are you going to do about it? Seconds matter here. You don’t have time to formulate a well-thought-out plan. What’s more, the stress of the event will muddle your thinking and decision-making.
In addition to asking yourself the baseline and anomaly questions every time you enter an environment, ask yourself a third question: “What would I do if I saw an anomaly?” In other words, come up with an action plan.
So let’s go back to the coffee shop example. Let’s say the anomaly for which you want to create an action plan is “guy comes in with a gun.” The best course of action in this scenario depends on a few things. And knowing what those few things are requires you to be situationally aware. If the robber came in from the front door and you’re near the rear exit, your best action would be to book it out the back door right away. On the other hand, if he entered through the back exit near you, according to the Department of Homeland Security, your best action would be to immediately close the gap between him and you and incapacitate him.
Establish baselines. Look for anomalies. Have a plan. That’s what situational awareness comes down to. This awareness can be used as a preventive tactic. Animals are creatures of opportunity. They’ll typically only attack another creature if they look vulnerable. Lions will go after younger, sicker, or older gazelles because they’re easier to catch. The same goes with humans. Criminals are typically going to go after a person who looks vulnerable, whether the victim is physically weaker or will simply be easy to catch off guard.
Practicing situational awareness goes a long way in keeping you from appearing like an easy target. When you’re out and about, look alert. Get your nose out of your smartphone. When you’re walking back to your car at night, have your keys at the ready and constantly scan your surroundings. The less vulnerable you look, the less likely someone is going to mess with you.
Always carry a tactical flashlight and use it at nighttime. Having a light allows you to better observe in the darkness, but it can also act as a deterrent to would-be bad guys. Because law enforcement officers are usually the only ones shining flashlights down alleys and under cars, if you’re shining your light as you walk to your destination or back to your car, the bad guys are probably going to think you’re a cop and will likely just leave you alone. If worst comes to worst and you do end up getting jumped, you can use the tactical flashlight as a defensive tool by blinding your would-be attacker with the bright beam or even hitting him with the beveled edge that’s often built into the handle.
Situational awareness is a mindset that you have to purposefully cultivate. You want to get to the point that it’s just something you do without having to think about it. To get to that point, you have to practice it regularly. Starting today, consciously remind yourself to look for entry/exit points whenever you enter a new building. Start observing people and establishing baselines and generating possible anomalies while you’re at work, at the gym, or at the mall. And then start coming up with action plans on what you would do in that specific situation if you see a possible threat. Don’t be paranoid, just mindful. Do that day in and day out, and situational awareness won’t be something you have to intentionally think about, just something you do naturally. Keep your head on a swivel, check your six, and keep your back to the wall.
Semper Paratus
Check 6

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Developing Situational Awareness Part 2 (200th Post)

I talk a lot about situational awareness and paying attention. Especially pertaining to defense and security. I talk to my family about it until they have tuned me out. I want them to know and understand what situational awareness is and what to do to develop it. In this series we’ll talk about and try to explain situational awareness in more detail and how to develop it further.
To help understand this awareness we’ll use the OODA loop which we all use every day. As we go through out our day we Observe, Orient, Decide, Act. In competition or combat the one who goes through the OODA Loop correctly the fastest, usually wins. The second point is Orient.
Being more observant isn’t enough to master situational awareness. You have to know what you’re looking for, and then put that information into context so it has meaning and becomes actionable. That’s where the Orient phase comes into play.
The Orient step provides three things to help us achieve situational awareness: 1) baselines and anomalies for our particular environment, 2) mental models of human behavior we should look for, and 3) plans of action depending on our observations.
You should be establishing a baseline wherever you go. Every environment and person has a baseline. A baseline is what’s “normal” in a given situation, and it will differ from person to person and environment to environment. For example, the baseline at a small coffee shop will usually entail people reading a book or working on their computer or speaking in hushed tones with their friends. The baseline at a rock concert would be loud music and people looking at the stage while either jumping up and down to the music or swaying their bodies to the beat.
We establish baselines so that we can find things out of place. Anomalies are things that either do not happen, that should, or that happen and shouldn’t. Anomalies are what direct our attention as we take in our surroundings and what we need to focus on to achieve situational awareness.
So to orient yourself, establish baselines so that you can direct your attention to anomalies. How do we do that on the fly? Ask yourself these questions every time you enter a new environment:
Baseline Questions: What’s going on here? What’s the general mood of the place? What’s the “normal” activity that I should expect here? How do most people behave here most of the time?
Anomaly Question: What would cause someone or something to stand out?
We can’t pay attention to everything all at once so that makes it impossible to obtain complete situational awareness. The human mind can only handle so much information at a given time. Thus in the domain of personal safety, where things unfold quickly and seconds are often the difference between life and death, how we direct our attention is extremely important.
So we need to focus on a few things at a time that provide the most bang for our attention buck. And we do that by relying on heuristics. Heuristics are quick and dirty problem-solving and decision-making mental shortcuts our minds use to figure things out when minimal information is available and time is limited. Decisions made from heuristics aren’t always perfect, but in the context of your personal safety, they’re usually good enough.
There are six domains of human behavior that soldiers use on the battlefield in order to quickly determine whether someone is a friend or foe. To get an idea of what civilians should look for in everyday situations, the most important category of clues is what is called kinesics, an area of behavior that involves people’s conscious and subconscious body language.
Within the domain of kinesics, three behaviors of body language are of particular interest for situational awareness. They are: dominance/submissive behavior, comfortable/uncomfortable behavior, and interested/uninterested behavior.
Dominance/submissive behavior. Generally, most people try to get along with others, so for the most part people act in accommodating and submissive ways. Dominant behavior is an expression of the fight response and often manifests itself in gestures and postures that make a person look larger to intimidate ‘smaller’ individuals into submission. Smaller vs. bigger here doesn’t just apply to physical size, however, but also relates to relative positions of power.
Because most people get along to get along, dominant behavior often constitutes an anomaly. The person displaying it deserves more attention. If someone acts in a pushy, authoritative, or overbearing way, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a threat; context matters. You’d expect a boss to act dominant in relation to their employees and the employees to act submissive to their boss, but seeing extreme dominant behavior exhibited by a customer towards an employee isn’t as common. That would be something to watch and keep tabs on.
Comfortable/uncomfortable behavior. Most people are going to look relatively comfortable in most situations. Think about a bus or a subway ride — passengers generally appear pretty relaxed while they stare out the window or read a book. If someone looks uncomfortable, that’s an anomaly that warrants extra attention, but it doesn’t mean they’re necessarily a threat. They could be distressed because they’re late for work or maybe they just heard some bad news about a relative. Again, it’s just something to keep your eye on.
A common display of uncomfortable behavior you’ll see from individuals up to no good is that they’re always “checking their six.” This is when a person looks over their shoulder to see what’s behind them or generally scans their surroundings. People who are comfortable generally don’t do this because they don’t feel any threat. So if you see a guy looking over his shoulder a lot when he should be standing there aloof, that’s an anomaly that should get your attention.
Now obviously, “checking your six” is something that situationally aware good guys do too. If you’re doing it right, it shouldn’t be noticeable to others, but it takes practice, and some guy with his head on a swivel might still be green. But until you verify that through further observation, be suspicious.
On the flipside, someone acting comfortable when everyone else is uncomfortable would be an anomaly. One of the ways law enforcement was able to identify the Boston Marathon bombers was that they noticed in surveillance footage that the men looked relatively calm while everyone else was running around in a panic. The reason they looked calm was because they knew the explosion was going to happen and thus weren’t surprised by it, while everyone else was caught off guard.
Interested/uninterested behavior. Most people aren’t paying attention to their environment. They’re too caught up in their own thoughts or whatever they’re doing. So individuals who are showing interest in a particular person or object that most people wouldn’t be interested in is an anomaly that warrants further observation.
These three body language behaviors establish baselines for every situation in which we find ourselves and allow us to direct our limited attention towards things that are potentially more important and/or dangerous. If a person’s behavior across these behaviors fits the baseline for that particular circumstance, you can pretty much ignore them. If their behavior doesn’t fit the baseline, they’re an anomaly and you should observe them more closely.
Other Behavioral Threat Indicators
Besides the above three kinesic behaviors, law enforcement and military are taught to look out for a couple other behaviors that could apply to civilian situations as well:
Shifty hands. Military and law enforcement officers typically check the hands first on any person with which they’re engaging. This is for two reasons. First, checking the hands of a person ensures that the person is not holding a weapon and is not preparing to strike. Second, hands often telegraph hidden nefarious intentions. People who are concealing something they don’t want discovered, like a gun, knife, or stolen object, will often touch or pat that area on the body where that object is concealed, as if to ensure the object has not been lost or is still hidden from view. This is actually common with those who concealed carry at first. They may be trained and legally licensed, but the human thing to do is to check.
“Acting Natural.” It’s difficult to “act natural” when you’re not completely focused on whatever it is you’re really supposed to be doing. People “acting natural” will appear distracted and over- or under-exaggerate their movements. Insurgents in Afghanistan will often try to act like farmers, when they’re in fact attempting to collect information on U.S. military patrols. Soldiers and Marines are trained to look for these “farmers” who appear to be trying too hard.
This is what to look for so you can act accordingly. Everything should be observed in context so that your orientation will be correct. If you can observe and see anomalies then your orientation can be focused on perceived threats until they prove to not be threats.
Next we’ll talk about options for making decisions.
Semper Paratus
Check 6

The Most Important Preparedness Item

I’ve been a prepper for many years. I was a prepper before they were called “preppers”. Working in preparedness for all those years I’ve learned of one single item that is the most important than any other preparedness item you could get. This item makes every other item worth so much more! That item is… A PLAN!
Without a plan, gear and even skills are less than they can be. For instance, let’s say you want to buy a new water filter. It is all the rage and you have researched it and found the best price. If you had a water plan you would know that you already have 6 different filters that will do what you want them to. You also have a 1000 gallon underground tank that is plumbed into your plumbing so it constantly is being replenished with fresh water and is always full. You don’t really need another filter. But some of those filters are in the back of you hall closet, and you’ve forgotten about them.
A preparation plan will keep you on task and not let you get side-tracked. In that plan should be inventories. This will let you know what you have and what you don’t. Our food storage plan and the inventory that goes with it is work to keep up. But it’s well worth it! With this inventory we know when something is getting low or out of date.
Some think that it’s not important to write down your plan. Seeing it on paper will give you a different perspective. It will save you money and time. You will also be able to look at your preparation quickly to know which area needs attention.
Other reasons for a written plan is goals and a stopping point. Can you ever have too much food? What about ammunition? Can you have too much first aid supplies? It’s like making too much money or your wife being too good looking! It’s just not possible. With a written plan you can set limits and goals to reach those limits. You may find you need to adjust those limits to really meet your families’ needs.
Without a plan it’s more difficult to keep track of things. You can be better organized with a plan and preparedness won’t overwhelm you into doing nothing.
Here is a look at what we plan for.
First Aid/Medical plan
This includes herbs and natural remedies, and over the counter meds. You would be surprised at how many items you use with just wound care. Bandages and tape can be gone through quickly. We thought our first aid supplies were pretty good until we tried to care for a wound for a few months. It will eat up your supplies fast! So we planned accordingly.
Food and water plan
We maintain a year supply of food and a 3 month supply of food that is more perishable. My wife cooks a lot with our food storage. She has even found recipes for crackers and things she makes from scratch. This is healthier, and it saves gobs of money. Part of our food plan is our garden and fruit trees, and livestock. Hunting, fishing, and trapping could be incorporated into this plan. Canning, dehydrating, and freezing is also a part of this plan.
Our water storage and filtration is also in this plan.
Defense plan
This includes a lock system for sheds, storage areas, and gates. It also has our home and vehicle safety and security in it. Personal security is something covered in this plan too. Guns, ammunition, and other lethal and non-lethal weapons are part of this.
Mobility/Bug out plan
This consists of bug out bags and get home bags. But it also incorporates most everything we do. I try to make everything as transportable as possible.
Heat/Light/Cooking plan
We put all this together because they are so similar. We try to put together fire and electricity with this. There is gas, wood, and solar as a consideration here too.
Cooking involves grills, pans, and utensils.
Blankets and clothing are part of the heat plan.
Safety is also important with this plan. If you have stoves, candles, lanterns, lamps, a fireplace, or a woodstove, or anything involving fire remember that fire consumes oxygen. If you must use it indoors make sure you have a source of air coming in too. With fire is always the danger of burning yourself or your shelter. Be safe. Have a fire extinguisher handy. If you don’t have one at least a #10 can of sand or dirt, and one of water.
When it comes to the basics or survival I like redundancy. Have a plan B, C, AND D!
The list above is only a suggestion. You know best the needs of your family. Don’t over analyze everything until it’s so overwhelming that you do nothing. Start small. Instead of writing down a food goal of 2 years supply of long term storage food, start with 2 weeks of what we would normally eat. Then expand that to 3 or 4 weeks. Then start with a few bags of wheat and oats. Then expand slowly learning how to use each item. I would also suggest you store what you eat and eat what you store. Most people aren’t used to raw grain in their diets. Start by grinding wheat for homemade bread. If you start slowly you will find room to store these items, learn to use them, and not break your budget.
It’s important to start today. Access your needs and write down short term and long term goals. When we were first married we used a hall closed for everything. That has expanded to many areas. Also remember that skill trumps gear. Get training, get educated, and learn hands on. When you buy gear go out and use it. You may find it’s junk or it doesn’t work the way you need it to.
Becoming prepared is a mindset. It will become you way of life if you plan and implement your plan.
Semper Paratus
Check 6

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Developing Situational Awareness Part 1

I talk a lot about situational awareness and paying attention. Especially pertaining to defense and security. I talk to my family about it until they have tuned me out. I want them to know and understand what situational awareness is and what to do to develop it. In this series we’ll talk about and try to explain situational awareness in more detail and how to develop it further.
To help understand this awareness we’ll use the OODA loop which we all use every day. As we go through out our day we Observe, Orient, Decide, Act. In competition or combat the one who goes through the OODA Loop correctly the fastest, usually wins. The First step is Observe.
Hone your observation skills by playing the A-Game. Here’s a game you can play with your kids called the “A-Game,” or Awareness Game, to help them (and yourself) strengthen your observational skills. To play, when you go into a business, make note of a few things about your environment: the number of workers behind the counter, the clothing and gender of the person sitting next to you, how many entry/exits there are, etc. When you leave and get into the car to head home, ask your kids questions like “How many workers were behind the counter?” “Was the person sitting next to us a man or a woman?” “What color was his/her shirt?” “How many exits were there?”
It’s fun to play, but more importantly it’s training your kids (and you) to be more mindful of their surroundings.
Master memorization. Another fun activity that will help improve your situational awareness is to practice memorizing things. Remember the scene in the Jason Bourne movie where Jason knew all the license plate numbers of the cars outside the diner? You can gain this skill by practicing with a deck of cards, or strings of numbers. It’s not as hard as you think.
What if you could play a game of cards with your buddies and recall every card that had been played? You can.
What if you could meet a client today and six months later see him at a football game and recall his name along with his wife’s and kids’ names? You can.
What if you could look at a 50 digit number for 90 seconds and then repeat the number forwards and backwards from memory? You can.
So how do you master your memory to this level? By utilizing a simple system of mental maps, you will be amazed at the amount of knowledge you will be able to store.
Here’s how to begin:
1. Select 5 rooms in your home or office.
2. In each room, number 5 large items. Number these items 1-25. The first item in the first room is #1, the first item in the second room is #6, the first item in the third room is #11, and so on. For example: Bedroom–1. desk, 2. bed, 3. tv, 4. dresser, 5. computer…Bathroom-6. toilet 7. window, 8. shower, 9. sink, 10. towel rack…etc. Remember, this is just an example. You want to select the pieces of furniture in the way they flow around your particular room.
3. Practice saying these pieces of furniture and their corresponding numbers over and over until it becomes second nature to say them forwards or backwards. We will refer to these pieces of furniture as “files.”
4. Now whenever you wish you to recall something, turn it into a picture and imagine it interacting with this piece of furniture.
Let’s say that you want to memorize all the Super Bowl winners. Once you have your files (the pieces of furniture) memorized, the next item of business is to turn whatever you wish to recall into a picture.
So you would be looking at a list that looks like this:
1. Green Bay Packers
2. Green Bay Packers
3. New York Jets
4. Kansas City Chiefs
5. Baltimore Colts
6. Dallas Cowboys
7. Miami Dolphins
8. Miami Dolphins
9. Pittsburgh Steelers
10. Pittsburgh Steelers
In order to remember anything, it must be an image that you can imagine. For example, if you wanted to recall the number 593787, it might be tough to recall. But a photo album with a coffee cup in it would be easy to remember. That is my picture for 593787. For now, lets address turning the football teams into pictures, a much simpler task that turning 593787 into an image.
What could you picture for the Green Bay Packers? Perhaps packaging. Coming up with an image for the Jets is easy–just picture an airplane jet. For the Chiefs, you would picture an Indian chief. The Colts would be a horse and the Cowboys a cowboy. This is pretty simple actually when you’re dealing with teams.
Now this is where it gets fun. Take each of these images and place them mentally around your 25 files in chronological order. For example, since the Packers won the first Super Bowl, imagine someone packaging a box on your number one file. To use the example above, you would picture someone packaging a box on top of your desk. The more action/emotion you can put into this image, the better chances you will recall it later. On your number two file, or your bed, you would also see packaging. On your number three file, you would imagine a jet landing or crashing into your tv. For your fourth file, you could imagine an Indian chief sitting on your dresser.
To memorize all the Super Bowl winners, you will need at least 45 files, but that is easy enough to mentally construct by simply selecting more rooms in your home (or other buildings and selecting 5 items in each). Because you are placing 5 files in each room, you should be able to memorize the numbers of your files rapidly.
The rationalization of 5 in a room, is that if you want to know what the 15th Superbowl winner was, it might take a minute to figure it out if you had 4 files in one room, 6 in another, and 9 in another. However, if there are 5 in a room, it is very easy. All you need to do is mentally jump to the 15th file in your home, or the last item in your third room, and you will see it getting raided by bandits, and this tells you the Oakland Raiders won Super Bowl 15.
Now whenever you wish to remember the whole list of teams, you simply mentally walk through your house, and imagine yourself looking at each piece of furniture–and its corresponding team–as you go from room to room.
This system can be used to memorize anything from 50 digit numbers, business presentations, chapters of books, college homework, product knowledge, or even sports team champions.
When I was a young Boy Scout I liked playing certain games. Basketball, capture the flag, and Kim’s game. You may recognize the first 2 games I mentioned, but maybe not the 3rd. Kim’s game.
This game was taken by Baden Powell (the founder of the Boy Scout movement) from Rudyard Kipling's book for boy's "Kim". This is the story of the orphan son of an Irish soldier in India who grew up among the native boys and was later trained for government intelligence work. The training began by showing Kim a tray of precious stones and gems for a minute's observation, then covering it, and asking Kim how many stones and what kind they were.
At first Kim could remember only a few, but soon, by practice, he was able not only to say exactly how many, but to describe the stones. Then he practiced with other articles, and ultimately was able to glance to see all sorts of details of items that were of value in tracing and dealing with criminals.
In its commonly used form, 24 articles of different kinds -- a key, a pocket knife, a CD, a coin, a marble, a comb etc. -- are placed on a table and covered with a cloth. The player steps up to the table, the cloth is removed for exactly one minute; the player looks, endeavoring to remember as many as possible, and the player writes down as many as they can remember.
As with Kim, the purpose of this is to develop the faculty for observation and memory.
If you’re like me you are probably the one that sits in the “gunfighter” seat at a restaurant. (Back to the wall, near an exit, good view of the front door.) Your family probably doesn’t do this as often as you would like. I try to emphasize safety and security and I am often met with lots of eye-rolling. I don’t really have a problem with that, but if you experience certain things, you tend to be more cautious. I’ve had training and experiences that drive me to be careful.
This why I play Kim’s game with them once in a while. This helps them to develop and keep a sense of awareness and observation. In other words, situational awareness.
Next we’ll discuss orientation.
Semper Paratus
Check 6

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Home Defense: The "Fire Extinguisher Gun"

The following was written by Paul Markel. I couldn’t have said it better myself!
The Fire Extinguisher Gun – Ready When You Need It posted on Ammoland.com, Jun 25, 2012.
“What gun should I get to keep in the house?” I’ve heard that question a hundred times or more during the last couple of decades. When your friends and co-workers find out you are a ‘gun guy’ you become the de facto expert on guns. Having been a Marine, police officer and small arms instructor for the military, I get that question on a regular basis.
Back in the late nineteen-eighties and early nineties my patent answer was to purchase a mid-sized double-action revolver in .38 Special or .357 Magnum with a stainless steel finish. The S&W “K” frame or something similar was the specific answer.
Diehard gun people aren’t the ones asking the house gun question, it’s the novice and new gun buyer. My reason for suggesting a DA revolver was that it was simple and uncomplicated to operate. The DA revolver is easy to load and unload without a complex manual of arms.
The reasoning behind a stainless finish was two-fold. Number one, stainless is more forgiving of, let’s say, a ‘casual’ maintenance program and a couple of sweaty fingerprints won’t corrode the gun if it’s left in a drawer for a month. The second reason for stainless is the fact that a stainless steel revolver brings a much higher trade-in value than one with blued steel. If the person inquiring decided they wanted to sell the gun down the road, they’d get a better return for their money if it’s stainless.
When my wife and I first married I found a second-hand revolver that fit the bill and it became our “fire extinguisher gun”.
Fire Extinguisher Gun
Do you have one or more fire extinguishers in your house? If not, shame on you. Stop reading this, go out and buy one. Now, when is the last time you moved your fire extinguisher? Do you play hide and seek with it, constantly shuffling it from one location to the next? Of course you don’t. A fire extinguisher is kept in the same location all the time. Every responsible person in the home should know where the extinguisher is and how to use it in a fire emergency.
A “Fire Extinguisher Gun” acts on the same principle. The gun in question is kept loaded and ready in a specific location in the home. Every responsible adult knows where it is and how to use it in the event of an emergency. Certainly there may be other firearms around. I’ve carried a gun for a living for better than two decades now. However, the Fire Extinguisher Gun is the vigilant sentry, quietly standing its lonely post, day after day, month after month, year after year. Just in case.
Throughout the years, I’d take my bride with me to the range on occasion and brought along the fire extinguisher gun. Staging the gun on a range table, I’d sit my wife in a chair ten to fifteen feet away. On command, she’d have to get up, run to the gun, access it and shoot the bad guy target.
As my oldest son and daughter came of age, I started taking them to the range to run the same drill. Jarrad, who shoots regularly, didn’t have much trouble getting his first six shots into the “X” zone on the target. My wife and daughter, who only shoot handguns on occasion, struggled to get the first couple of shots into the preferred zone of the ‘bad guy.’ By the third or fourth cylinder they were putting all rounds in the middle, but that rather defeats the purpose.
I know what you hard core guys are thinking, “Make your wife and daughter practice more often. Set up a dry-fire schedule and take them to the range every week.” Yes, in a perfect world without school, work, and conflicting schedules that might be possible.
During one of these range sessions I introduced both ladies to my GLOCK 19 and 17 pistols. They both enjoyed great success with the guns. For the next outing I set up the same drill, only this time I staged the GLOCK 17 as it would be at home. Both my wife and daughter had to run the “Get the Gun” drill. To their amazement and surprise both girls put their first rounds into the preferred zone on the ‘bad guy’ target.
After that experience the ladies didn’t even want to shoot the DA revolver, but they did consume most all of the 9mm training ammunition I brought along. Therein lies the lesson learned; both my wife and daughter experienced success and enjoyed shooting the different gun. This success and enjoyment leads to genuine confidence. If the time ever comes to use a gun in self-defense, your thought shouldn’t be “I can never hit anything with this until I get warmed up.” Instead you want to have supreme confidence in your equipment and ability.
Parting Thoughts
In the year 2012, my opinion of the house or fire extinguisher gun has changed a bit. I now recommend some type of striker-fired pistol chambered in 9x19mm. The S&W M&P, the Springfield XD(M) and, of course, the GLOCK 17 all fill the bill. These pistols are simple to operate like DA revolvers but the trigger press on each is much more conducive to rapid, accurate shot placement. The only additions I’ve made to my house gun were the XS Big Dot sight set up and a Crimson Trace Lasergrip. Yes, I want my family to have an ‘unfair’ advantage over any vermin that would attempt to harm them.
The 9x19mm cartridge is less expensive for training and practice than most any other pistol cartridge. It’s also no small consideration that if your spouse or loved one is forced to use the fire extinguisher gun, they will start out with at least 17 rounds of ammunition. (That is, as long as you reside in Free America). I don’t know about you, but if my wife or daughter is forced to stop an intruder(s) with a pistol, I’d rather they had rounds left over than run out in the middle of the fight.”
Paul Markel © 2012
I posted this article because the author and I have almost the same experiences. I was never a policeman but have carried a gun for some time and have been shooting since I was 12. I also was a military instructor like the author and have had similar experiences with my family like him. I would suggest that you do as we have done, teach and train your family, or have them trained by someone you trust, and have a common gun or guns for your protection.
Semper Parartus
Check 6

Defensive Gun Myths

There are several things that come to my mind when I think of defensive myths. I was having this discussion with someone who is new to guns and shooting. These are five myths that I think are quite common out there. We present them to you here.
MYTH: Carrying reloaded ammunition is just as good as carrying factory rounds.
Don’t take this personally reloaders, but reloaded ammunition is inherently less reliable than factory-made rounds. Actually I reload. But in talking to a prolific instructor he said in all of the classes that he has taught and taken, any time there has been a participant with ammunition problems, they were using reloads. Used cases often have defects in the brass, caused by their continued reuse, which makes cartridges fail. When a bullet is fired, the casing expands due to the internal pressure. Part of the reloading process is to resize the casing back down to the correct size. This repeated expansion and resizing weakens the metal, eventually causing the case to weaken and/or crack, which can result in a blowout that can jam or damage the gun. I only use reloads for training.
There are also some legal considerations against the use of reloaded ammo. In the event of a shooting, the performance of reloaded ammunition cannot be adequately tested by police during an investigation, because the ingredients/recipe cannot be verified. Authorities keep archives of all commercially manufactured ammunition lots for testing comparisons in shooting investigations. If you use reloaded ammunition, they will not be able to compare your claims against any ammunition test results.
Also, in court, the prosecuting attorney may try to persuade the jury that your goal was to make ammunition that was more deadly than you could purchase. True or not, how do you think that will affect the jury’s opinion of you?
While buying reloads or reloading your own ammunition is less expensive and fine for practice, stick with factory ammunition for self-defense. It is far more reliable, while offering outstanding stopping power.
MYTH: The military uses full metal jacket ammo, so that’s good enough for me.
The military is restricted to the use of full metal jacket ammunition by convention. Hollow point bullets are designed to spread open to create wider wound cavities and dump all of their energy into the target. This effect destroys more flesh than full metal jackets, thus increasing stopping power. Additionally, hollow points are more likely to remain within the body and not overpenetrate than full metal jackets, making them less likely to put nearby innocent people in danger.

MYTH: Always train to get two well-placed shots on center mass.
I don’t like the words “never” and “always.” They always never apply. The truth of the matter is that no two gunfights are alike, and you won’t know how many shots it will take to stop the fight. Keep shooting until the threat stops. It might take one, five, ten or more shot to neutralize a threat.
When practicing, don’t get into the habit of always shooting the same number of shots. Instead, shoot strings of varying counts. Sometimes shoot two shots, sometimes seven, etc. Vary your shot count so you don’t develop training scars that can get you hurt in a real-life fight. Training should also include verbal challenges and sometimes challenges without shooting. Unholster, challenge and do not shoot. Not all situations on the street will require shooting.
MYTH: When defensive shooting, small groups are better.
The problem with shooting small groups into an attacker is twofold:
1. Subsequent bullets are hitting flesh that has already been damaged. It’s better to spread out the hits to damage additional tissue, which will cause further muscle destruction and increased bleed out.
2. It takes more time to shoot small groups, and time is not on your side in gunfights. Remember the reason for being in a gunfight: the bad guy is trying to hurt you.
My preference is to train to shoot groups about 8-inches in diameter—about the width of a hand. That’s wide enough to do damage with every shot and small enough to hit the body from the side. If your group is smaller, shoot faster. If your group size is too big, slow down. Keep in mind that the time that it takes to hit 8-inch groups increases as the distance to the target increases.
MYTH: It does not matter what caliber you use. Just hit them in the head, and they will drop.
Well, yes and no. If the aggressor is hit in the right place within the head—pretty much regardless of caliber—they will most likely drop right there. However, hitting that spot is not as easy as it may seem. There are not many vital organs in the head below the nose, and the cranial vault is located above the eyes. It is called a vault because it protects the brain. Bullets cannot be counted on to penetrate the cranial vault as history confirms numerous examples of bullets skimming off the bone along the top and side of the head.
That leaves only about 2-inches of reliable target on the head between the bottom of the nose and the top of the eyes. As stated, just about any caliber inserted forcefully into that 2-inch location will shut down the brain, but the chance of hitting that tiny target on a moving adversary while you are moving and shooting under the stress of a life-threatening attack is miniscule. It’s best to aim for the center of the largest available mass, typically, the chest.

I hope this list helped to dispel some of the misconceptions out there on defensive carry and shooting.
Semper Paratus
Check 6

Monday, March 2, 2015

Security Smarts

Here is a security scenario for you.
You watched the evening news before bed and heard a report about police attempting to locate a wanted murder suspect. The suspect was reportedly last seen in the area of your apartment complex. Making sure all your doors were locked and that you had a handgun nearby, you go to sleep.
At 1:30am you hear a loud banging at your door. You look out the window but can’t see anyone. What would you do?
This actually happened in Lake County Florida. Unfortunately Andrew Scott opened his door.
“It was in the 1:30 a.m. when deputies knocked on the 26-year-old Scott’s door, not identifying themselves as law enforcement officers. Scott answered the door holding a gun, and deputies opened fire.
“When we knocked on the door, the door opened and the occupant of that apartment was pointing a gun at deputies and that’s when we opened fire and killed him,” Lt. John Herrell told WESH.”
I realize it’s difficult to really judge the situation without being there. But first for my police friends:

Mistakes were made by both Mr. Scott and the police. Those combined errors placed Mr. Scott in a position where the police had no other options but to shoot. It was a tragedy that could have been prevented.
First, for my police officer friends….
How are citizens supposed to determine who you are if you don’t identify yourself? I realize you want to catch this murder suspect, all of us want you to catch him too! But don’t expect us to answer our door unarmed especially with a nut on the loose. If you don’t want people pointing guns at you, don’t act like a criminal! Think about how it looks from the other side. My guess is that these cops were in plain clothes and it was reported that they didn’t identify themselves. They were probably trying to use cover and concealment by hiding behind trees or bushes in front of the apartment.
What do you think that looks like to the homeowner who knows he has a murder suspect hiding from police in his neighborhood? A loud knock on the door in the middle of the night. He opens it up and sees one or more men hiding in the bushes. While Mr. Scott’s actions may not have been textbook perfect, they were reasonable given the circumstances. If I saw what he did, I’d likely point my gun as well.
I understand this type of situation. I’ve seen similar ones before. You want to catch the murder suspect. You also don’t want to get shot. I get it. But there are safer ways to do business.
If I’m knocking on someone’s door in the middle of the night, I want to be clearly identifiable as a police officer. Why not have a uniformed officer make the approach? Announce that you are the police. By doing this, you certainly take the chance that the bad guy flees or doesn’t open the door. Fleeing shouldn’t be a problem. You should have all the exits covered before you make the announcement.
If you think the criminal is inside and not answering, pull back and put some plain cars out to watch the apartment. Yes, that will take time and manpower, but it is worth it if it keeps someone from getting shot. If there is an exigency, call the fire department to respond with their thermal imaging cameras that can scan through walls for heat sources. You may be able to determine if someone is inside that way. If he is, you might be able to get a warrant or call him up on the phone and ask him to come to the door after telling him the house is surrounded. If he still doesn’t come to the door, you can make the decision then to either back off and wait him out or escalate and consider it a barricade situation.
Remember, tactics are supposed to reduce danger. The tactics these officers used placed them in MORE danger. That’s a mistake. Take a minute and think about the potential consequences of your actions before implementing your plan.
As for the unfortunate homeowner:
I fully understand the desire to protect oneself. But why open the door? Tactics are important for armed homeowners as well. Opening the door presents so many problems, even if you are armed. You could be walking right into an ambush. You may be facing more attackers than you know about. You are widening your threat field. All of these are bad.
Instead, keep your handgun ready and call the police. They will be eager to respond to reports of a suspicious knock at the door in the neighborhood where they are hunting a fugitive. Don’t put yourself in a position that worsens your chance for survival.
Armed citizens and cops should be working towards the same goal. We’re all on the same side. It would be smart for both groups to take a moment and think about how their potential actions could appear to the other and act accordingly.
In wilderness survival there is an acronym. It’s called STOP. It stands for Stay, Think. Observe, Plan. In a stressful situation or a disaster I would recommend the same thing. Unless you must act now, give yourself some time to access the situation, make a plan, and implement that plan. If you have time to think, Think! Never put yourself in a less safe situation. You’re trying to access and stop the threat, if there is one. Make sure there is one.
I feel bad for all involved in this tragic event. The police don’t want to shoot anyone, they want to protect. The home owner didn’t want to shoot anyone either, he was just trying to keep himself from being a 2nd murder victim. Neither was expecting the other.
Wise people learn from their mistakes. Superwise people learn from others mistakes. Be superwise and learn from this story. Be safe.
Semper Paratus
Check 6