Archive for the Firearms Category

Colorado is Pissed: Part Five

Posted in Colorado, Firearms, freedom with tags , , , , , , on July 20, 2013 by blackshepherd

Three different but inter-related stories are going on. Colorado is still pissed off:

Today is the one-year anniversary of the mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado. As has become usual in the case of tragedy, the vultures are circling. The Michael Bloomberg sponsored “No More Names,” tour is in Aurora reading names of those killed in “gun violence,” during the last year. Unfortunately for them, their list includes the names of one of the Boston bombing suspects and other criminals legitimately killed by both police and citizens in self-defense situations. The anti-gun rally is expected to garner “dozens,” of supporters. So, at least 24 people. Gun Rights Across America and Rocky Mountain Gun Owners are holding a counter protest.

The fifty-five Colorado sheriffs who filed a lawsuit against Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, concerning recently passed gun laws, are continuing their lawsuit. However, on the 10th of July a federal judge declined to grant a preliminary injunction against the portions of the law concerning magazines that are “readily converted,” to hold more than 15 rounds. The law as originally written would have made any magazine with a removable base plate, virtually all magazines, illegal.

Using a savvy political move, the Governor avoided the injunction by directing the State’s Attorney General, John Suthers, to issue clarifying “technical guidance” concerning the laws. The guidance included a much more restrictive interpretation of what “readily converted,” means. Regulations were also clarified for grandfathered magazines that hold more than 15 rounds. Originally, loaning the magazines was only permissible as long as the borrower stayed within “continuous physical presence” of the owner. Under the new guidance that is no longer necessary.

Both sides of the debate are claiming victory. The Sheriffs by celebrating the favorable clarification of restrictions. The anti-gun legislators by touting the lack of injunction against their laws as tacit approval. Personally I believe that both the Sheriffs and the people of Colorado would have been better served by an injunction against these immoral laws. However, the Sheriffs are continuing their lawsuit in federal court by challenging the constitutionality of these laws.

Links: Colorado Sheriff’s position paper

http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_23644017/colorado-gun-lawsuit-both-sides-claim-first-round

http://kajx.org/post/updated-sheriffs-lawsuit-overturn-colorados-new-gun-laws-heads-court

In better news, the Governor set Sept. 10 as the date for the state’s first-ever legislative recall election after a judge rejected a lawsuit aimed at stopping the recalls of two anti-gun state legislators, Senate President John Morse and State Senator Angela Giron. Denver District Court Chief Justice Robert Hyatt ruled that the recall may proceed.  He stated that the right of citizens to recall officeholders outweighed the technical objections to the petitions brought by the constituents and lawyers of Morse and Giron. The recall election is going to attract an inordinate amount of out of state attention and money. Things are going to stay interesting in Colorado.

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Paper Targets: Part One

Posted in Concealed Carry, Firearms with tags , , , , , , on July 14, 2013 by blackshepherd

I have received several questions generated by, “What Are You Training For?” Most of these questions were about ways to improve personal training and how to make the transition from training to shoot, to training to fight. In the next couple of posts I will write a bit about how we can both improve from, and be limited by, our training.

Most of us think of our local range as our training area, but every range has its range-isms. “Range-ism” is the term that many professionals use to refer to the limits placed upon our training environment by safety, level of assumed risk, range construction, convenience, and cost. Simply put, a rang-ism is any discrepancy between how we must act during training and how we would really act in a real scenario. It is a generally accepted fact that the closer our training mimics the real world, within the bounds of safety, then the better it is.   Range-isms are a necessary part of any training environment (not just stereotypical gun ranges), but we must be aware of them and understand how they influence our training and mindset. As one of my associates is fond of saying, in contravention of a corporate aphorism, “You have to know where the box is before you can start to think outside of it.” However, sometimes we do not realize self-induced constraints until someone else points them out to us. I intend to talk about multiple types of “range-isms,” and how we can get outside of them, starting with targets.

Firstly, shoot targets that look like humans or are reasonably humanoid in shape. If you have a gun for home defense, or carry a gun for self-defense, you need to spend the majority of your time shooting at targets that look like people. Training is the art and science of preparing yourself for eventualities. The most likely eventuality necessitating the use of a firearm, is a two-legged predator. Prepare your mind and body for that situation. Even when shooting at small or colorful targets of varied shapes, I staple them to a backer that looks like the outline of a person. This trains the brain to be ready to shoot people, should they make it necessary. If you are uncomfortable with that idea, don’t own a gun for defense. Be a shooter if you like, but unload the piece before you leave the range. Don’t depend on your firearm as a tool for the defense of yourself, or your family, if you are incapable of shooting another human.  Take a martial art, buy pepper spray, or get a rape whistle. Just don’t depend on a gun for your life if you are unwilling to discharge it at a person who means you harm. Enough on that for now…

One of the most ubiquitous range-isms is the use of paper targets. By paper targets I mean any target printed on cardboard or paper that is two dimensional and affixed to some manner of target stand. Lest I be labeled a hypocrite, I will admit up front that I do about 70% of my personal training with paper targets. Every new and novice shooter I work with starts on them. Paper targets are convenient, cheap, easy to transport, easy to store, easy to use, and easy to replace. They are so easy that the vast majority of shooters only shoot at paper targets. However…

There are five main drawbacks to paper targets and I will discuss each one in depth in this series:

They do not move.

They do not drop when they are shot.

They are two-dimensional instead of three dimensional.

The teach you to shoot at the wrong places.

They make it too easy to identify bullet holes.

Problem #1: Paper targets do not move. Their lack of movement tricks us into not moving.

This problem sounds simple but it is in fact multifaceted and can cause several issues with our response cycles during a dangerous situation. Think about how other people move, in relation to you, during your everyday life. At the basic level, people going about their business move towards and away from you (depth), from side to side (width), up and down (level) and at different speeds (velocity). In addition to these dimensions of movement, people typically bob their heads, swing their arms, and talk with their hands. People also turn their bodies in relation to their direction of movement (orientation). Imagine for a moment how odd it would be if people only moved about their daily business with their shoulders and torso oriented towards you. Bizarre is it not? Yet, this is what most paper targets teach us about our relation to a threat.

 In the real world, if your produce a firearm, potential threats are going to run away from you or towards you, from side to side, or change their level in relation to where you are. They may also strike out at you, throw their hands up as if to ward off a blow, or attempt to get a weapon of their own into action. Normally they are going to perform several of these actions simultaneously, or in direct sequence. What is guaranteed, is that they will not be directly facing you the whole time that they are doing these things.

Legally we are required to use the requisite amount of force to stop a threat and no more. However, just because a threat initially ducks and runs away from you (changes in level and depth), or turns their back (orientation), does not mean that they cannot subsequently turn with a weapon in hand, and injure or kill you. Paper targets cannot imitate or simulate this.

The lack of locomotion inherent to paper targets also precipitates our own lack of movement. Think about how many times you have stood in front of a paper target that already had a “gun” in its hand, calmly drawn your own pistol, fired one or two rounds, and then re-holstered. Would you really do this in a life or death scenario? I hope not! The only things that will save you in that situation are divine intervention, the bad guy’s terrible marksmanship, and movement. I don’t try to predict the deity (I think he may have pulled me out of a few scrapes already, I don’t want to wear out my welcome) and I don’t want to bet my life on someone else’s ineptness. The best option is movement.

Every fight, with any tool: empty hands, knives, improvised, impact, or projectile weapons; is a time and distance equation. Our survival depends on our ability to deploy and employ a given weapon before our enemy can do the same; to do unto others before they can do unto us. The time that we have to do so is determined by several factors: our speed of weapons deployment in relation to our opponent’s, the difference in our weapons, the distance between us, and the number of opponents. The problem is that attackers, by definition, have the tactical advantage because they have chosen the time, place, and method of attack. This means that anyone defending themselves or others, is automatically at a tactical disadvantage. So how do we circumvent this disadvantage? We must steal time from our enemies. Time equals movement and movement equals time. We must force our opponents to move (with our own actions) in order to create time for ourselves.

How do we do this? The not so simple answer is: lateral movement, movement in depth, and level change, or a combination of two, or all three, at the same time. These movements cause your opponent(s) to drastically change their fighting stance, weapons posture, effective range (for impact weapons), lose their sight picture or miss (projectile weapons) and get in one another’s way (multiple opponents). The goal being to provide yourself time. Time to: produce your own weapon, seek cover, end the fight (stop the aggressor by injuring or killing him) or conduct a tactical egress (run like hell). The most efficacious methods of tactical movement are determined by distance and the perceived abilities of our attacker. Again, our goal is to steal time from our opponent but there are no constant answers. This is a case by case proposition. You must be familiar with some concepts and then make your own choices. It is your life.

Assume a place that is flat, empty, and level; like a football field. You are standing in the end-zone, with your pistol already in your hand, but not yet ready to fire.  If a man who stands 5’9” (the average height for a male in the United States) rushes straight at you from the 50 yard line, how long does it take for you to get a correct sight picture on him? While you aim your pistol at the vital organs in his upper body, as he rushes straight at you, how much is it necessary to move the pistol to make an effective shot? Not very much. As he comes at you, he appears to get larger within your pistol sights. This requires you to adjust your front sight post a few millimeters, something quickly and easily accomplished by changing your shoulder angle a few degrees. In other words, the amount of distance (time) between you and your opponent is fairly large, while the amount of time required for you to deploy your weapon and accurately adjust the sight picture is fairly small. In gunfight math, the odds are heavily stacked in your favor.

What if the same man rushes laterally, or at a diagonal to you, while you aim your pistol? When you finally line up the sights, he suddenly goes to a knee, dropping entirely out of your sight picture. How long will it take you to recover your sight picture and fire? How much more time has he created for himself than in the original scenario? What if instead of a football field, we are on a city street, in a parking lot, or inside of a convenience store. Now there is a much greater chance that our imaginary man is hiding behind a car, a building, a merchandise display, or has simply turned a corner (sight line) and is running away as fast as his feet can go. If he has a pistol, there is a decent chance it is already deployed (in his hands) and may have already been employed (he is shooting at you).

Now the imaginary man is you. Your attacker has the advantage and you have to create time for yourself with movement. You must get your weapon into action. You need to get to cover because you do not know how many people may be attacking you, or what their threshold for action is (What action on your part can make them stop their aggression). You have to move or die. Please understand, I am not advocating running, or even moving, while shooting. What I am talking about is, taking the best advantage of the time available, depending on the situation. Making dynamic movement in the direction of best tactical advantage, while accomplishing a simultaneous task related to deploying or employing your weapon. Draw while moving, (pistol, knife, baton, pepper spray- whatever you have, you must get it out) close the distance if necessary, (every weapon and operator combination has a range that works best, I cannot knife someone from 10 meters, conversely “far away” is sometimes the preferred range) plant your feet and go to work. If there is an issue with your weapon, (failure to fire, combat reload, anything that causes you to stop fighting) move while you are fixing it, or get the hell out of Dodge. Just remember that no fight is a static event and real-world ranges cover 360 degrees. I am going to talk about this later but always look 360 degrees by turning your head!

 Because paper targets do not move, they train us not to move. We have to recognize this and train as if a paper target is an actual moving and thinking enemy. We have to move. This is understanding the box that we have created for ourselves and alleviating the ways in which we allow it to limit us. How do we fix the lack of motion inherent to our targets and subsequently ourselves?

If you propose running around and shooting at most firearms ranges, the folks that own or insure said range will start doing cheetah-flips. Find a range that will let you do so. You may have to travel, you may have to pay some instructors, but find a place to get the experience. I can hear people now, “That’s great mister “expert,” but I have to work. I have limited training time and even less money.” I’m with you brothers and sisters. We all have to make the most out of the training time and budget that we have available. We do that by cutting expenses, not corners, and getting the most bang for our buck out of our range time.  So what are some things that we can do to prepare for better training experiences?

Firstly, learn to shoot. As I said previously, I do all of my new shooter training with paper targets. If we cannot safely and effectively shoot an unmoving paper target, standing directly in front of us, in the location of our choosing, during the daytime, then how can we trust our skills enough to progress? Shot placement is key.  Before anything else, be able to make your rounds go where you want them to go. Once you can do that, do it from the draw. Very few honest people begin a fight with a gun already in hand, learn to deploy your weapon. Once you can do that, offset the target from your line of sight. Move it left or right, as much or as little as your range will allow.

 I will discuss this later, but keep in mind that paper targets are not three-dimensional. A center of target hit, if the shot is taken from extreme angles, may miss everything that you are actually shooting at (vital organs and major blood vessels). Think about the areas that you want your bullets to impact and make the requisite adjustments to point of aim. This exercise alone will teach you how your point of aim changes with your spatial relationship to the target. This lesson is not to be discounted. I would wager that 90% of civilian shooters have only addressed targets that are directly in front of them. Do you think that this is realistic?

Remember that all training is a progression. Whenever you add a new skill or drill start dry (without ammo). Ensure that you can complete the drill safely with an unloaded gun. Once you have done that, start slowly with ammo. As you get better speed it up and add complexity.

 If your range will allow, start changing your level as you draw (many ranges will let you do this, but not let you move in width and depth). Drop to a knee or a squat as the pistol comes out of the holster. Keep in mind that this also changes your angles in relation to your target and your desired point of impact will also change. Please keep in mind that changing your level limits your immediate ability to move in width and depth and is something of an emergency reaction, unless you are dropping behind cover. It does teach you to move while performing a simultaneous action and to focus on your target and not what you are doing with your weapon. Obviously full movement is best but if your training area is not allowing you to train for a fight, then something is better than nothing.

So we have covered our movement, what about that of our opponent. In order to train for shooting moving people, we have to shoot moving targets. The best way to do so is an actual force on force scenario (real people) using simunitions (actual pistols using actual rounds loaded with a reduced powder charge and a detergent filled plastic cap, instead of a bullet: Sims website ). Simunitions allow us to get as close to the reality of a fight as closely as possible, which is what we want from our training. If you give two guys simunitions and let them face off, you will see some things you have never seen on any range.  However, the safety and financial implications of simunitions make them beyond the reach of most people, outside of a professionally run training course.

Paintball guns are an option, but they obviously limit our draw and weapon’s handling techniques. This makes them much less valuable as a training aid but they do force one to think through tactical scenarios.

Airsoft guns have made massive strides towards realism in recent years and can be an interesting training tool. My real problem with airsoft, is that they do not hurt enough for role players to tell if they have been hit through clothing. Simunitions sting badly enough that most people really do not want to be shot with them. This causes people to act as they would if someone were actually shooting at them.

Aside from force on force scenarios, our options for moving targets are limited only by our imaginations. Other targets train us to shoot at moving targets, not fight them. But, we have to learn to shoot before we can fight so this is a logical progression.

 There are targets that spin, flip, and swing. The only real problem with these, is that they are usually static until you shoot them the first time. Have a partner shoot them first so that they are moving, then go to work. Get an RC truck, tie a helium balloon to it, and put a sadistic operator at the controls. Not an easy target. There are other, usually expensive, systems that will “run” targets in any direction you chose. There are also multiple DIY ideas on the internet. Get out there and come up with something. Start shooting at moving targets. Remember that all training is a progression. Get better than where you are now.

We will continue the next article by discussing the fact that not only do paper targets not move when you are drawing and pointing a gun at them, they do not move once they have been shot…

Gun Control Debate: Part Seven- The Ridiculous

Posted in Concealed Carry, Firearms, Gun Control Debate with tags , , , , , on June 29, 2013 by blackshepherd

I just don’t like guns.

That is OK, it is absolutely your right not to like firearms. My problem with “I don’t like guns,” is not what people say, but what they mean. Think about the last time that you heard someone say this. What was their body language? Typically they put their hands out in front of them as if to ward off a foul smell and make a face like they have just seen a rat on the kitchen floor. When the sentence “I don’t like guns” comes out of someone’s mouth what they often mean is: “I am afraid of guns and find them objectionable.” Or “None of my friends own guns and I don’t understand why anyone would want or need a gun.” or “The thought of having an armed stranger near me scares me.” These attitudes are OK too, except for the fact that they are often based on nothing more than ignorance and fear. Many people who have these attitudes have no experience with firearms other than what they see on TV, in movies, or on the nightly news. Others may have had a negative experience with guns, or gun owners, in the past and have never gotten past it.

 It has been my experience that many people in the “I don’t like guns,” camp are highly educated. The kind of people that will lecture others about the negative aspects of emotion on the decision making process. Often these are people that would not allow ignorance to color their attitudes in regard to any other aspect of their life. They would never presume to judge someone based on race, gender, sexuality, or age. However, when you ask them why they don’t like guns you typically get a well thought out and rational response like, “I just don’t like them!” From that point, it is a short step to describing gun owners as ignorant bumpkins or bloodthirsty paranoids.

If this describes you, shame on you. You owe it to yourself and your fellow citizens to do better. Educate yourself! Walking around with an irrational fear of an inanimate object is no way for a thinking adult to go through life. Find a reputable instructor or knowledgeable family friend and learn about the things that you claim not to like. You do not have to become a gun owner or lifelong shooter but you will learn something about yourself in the process. At a minimum, your opinions will no longer be colored by ignorance. You will no longer have to form your opinions and cast your votes about a fundamental right bereft of facts. Have the intellectual honesty to admit ignorance and do something about it; educate yourself.

Here are some good places to get started:

https://blackshepherdblog.wordpress.com/training/

http://outofoptions.wordpress.com/mentors/

Guns are fetish objects.

Anti-gun individuals are fond of tossing this argument around because it sounds vaguely indecent and has connotations of deviant sexual behavior. Many of them are seemingly unaware of what the word “fetish” actually means and that it applies to them far more than to individuals who have actual experience with guns.

Fetishism is the attribution of inherent value or power to an object.  A fetish object is something believed to have supernatural or extraordinary powers, specifically power over other people, animals, or objects.

I occasionally admonish fellow gun owners because some do fail to keep in mind that a gun is a tool. A gun is not a magic wand that can be waved to make bad guys go away and it is not a totem or lucky charm whose presence makes you immune from danger. One must have the competence, expertise, judgment, and willingness to use a firearm correctly in order for it to function as intended. Just owning or carrying a gun will not make you intrinsically safer. Even expertise with firearms is not an ironclad guarantee against crime or tyranny. However, it is much preferred to the alternatives, ignorance and dependence.

My occasional soapbox moments with fellow gun owners are typically just a gentle reminder to train harder and smarter. Gun owners as a whole are well aware of the responsibilities and lifestyle changes that they have assumed by providing for their own defense. They know that potentially life-threatening situations are not something to entertain lightly and they have thought long and hard about the mental, financial, legal, and moral implications and repercussions of such an encounter. For them guns are tools, not fetish.

It is actually gun-control advocates who view guns as fetish objects. They imbue inanimate objects with all manner of evil intent and capability. They often claim that good, rational people will become blood thirsty killers because they have access to firearms. Simply look at the hysterical opposition to concealed carry laws. Anti-gun debaters will claim that if law-abiding citizens are allowed to carry guns then public spaces will turn into the Wild West. They imagine a dystopian de-evolution of society where citizens shoot one another in arguments over parking spaces. This is not reality. Good people do not change their character because they are armed. There is no malevolent spirit residing in firearms. They are simple machines. Gun-control advocates are the real believers in firearms as fetish objects because they blame inanimate objects for violence instead of people.

I leave this argument with the words of the immortal Col. Jeff Cooper:

“The rifle itself has no moral stature, since it has no will of its own. Naturally, it may be used by evil men for evil purposes, but there are more good men than evil, and while the latter cannot be persuaded to the path of righteousness by propaganda, they can certainly be corrected by good men with rifles.”

 

Gun owners are compensating for small penises.

I almost refused to acknowledge this particular argument but it is fairly pervasive, in certain circles. It is usually the snarky final response of a gun-control advocate who is losing an argument based upon logic and reason. As infantile and stupid as this argument is, some people seem to actually believe it. Interestingly enough, those that subscribe to this particular fallacy rarely have the cojones to say it to someone’s face. So who is actually compensating?

My AR-15 is surely not a phallic symbol, if it were it would surely be a much larger caliber. My carry pistol is certainly not a compensation for my penis. If it were, I would have selected something with more than a 3” barrel. So where is the basis for this argument?

If you believe that gun owners carry firearms to compensate for small genitals please get in touch with me. We will go the range, shoot some guns and talk about real world experiences. After all that, if you still think gun owners are compensating I will be happy to take the Pepsi challenge.

Early 1980's U.S. 12 oz. "Pepsi Challenge...

Early 1980’s U.S. 12 oz. “Pepsi Challenge” promotional can, plus promotional button given for partaking in the challenge. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Colorado is Pissed: Part Three

Posted in Colorado, Firearms, freedom with tags , , , , , on June 25, 2013 by blackshepherd

Yesterday, 24 June 13, the Colorado Secretary of State certified that there are enough valid petition signatures to recall State Senator Angela Giron of Pueblo. The recall effort originally submitted 13,466 signatures. Following review by the Secretary of State’s office, 12,648 signatures were certified, exceeding the required number of 11,285.

Pueblo Freedom and Rights, the recall organization, is a grassroots organization headed by brothers Victor and Adam Head, both of whom are plumbers and union members. The organization did not use any paid petitioners. Instead, they relied on local volunteers who are furious that their representatives ignored the will of the electorate in order to advance a personal anti-gun agenda. Citizens feel that legislators are ignoring the people and are overstepping their bounds. Hence the recall.

In accordance with Colorado law, any eligible elector can file a protest with the Secretary of State within fifteen days in order to challenge the validity of the petition. Following the fifteen day time period, barring a successful protest, the Governor must set a recall election date within thirty days. I absolutely expect a legal protest to the Giron recall.(Update: A protest was filed to the recall petition shortly after certification of the requisite number of signatures. The protest is almost identical to the one filed in the Morse recall and also hinges on the language used in the petition. The protest was filed by a voter from the district, S. Douglas McMillan. A date for the hearing before the Secretary of State has yet to be set.)

A protest has already been filed in the Morse recall. Moments after the Secretary of State’s office validated the necessary 10,137 signatures necessary for the recall, Morse supporter Catherine Kleinsmith submitted a legal protest to nullify all of the signatures. The crux of the legal argument is that the language on the petition did not specifically demand the election of a successor for Morse. The protest argues that omission of that language invalidates every petition signature submitted to the state. The protest will be heard by the Secretary of State, Scott Gessler, on June 27 at a public hearing in Denver. The decision from that hearing could be challenged in the Denver District Court and possibly appealed to the Colorado Supreme Court.

Thus far two candidates have filed paperwork with the Secretary of State’s office stating their intentions to run in the recall election. Republicans Jaxine Bubis and William Herpin must gather 1,000 signatures from voters within the district in order to have their names added to the recall ballot. In the coming weeks several more candidates are expected to announce that they will compete for the seat. If challenges to the petitions are unsuccessful, it seems likely that both the Morse and Giron recall elections will take place in late August or September. The recall elections should make Colorado pretty interesting for a while. We’ll see what happens.

What are you training for?

Posted in Concealed Carry, Firearms with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 23, 2013 by blackshepherd

My apologies to all for the brief hiatus. We were busy with the local wildfires and then I took some time to attend to my own training. I had the rare opportunity to attend two very different firearms courses within one week. The juxtaposition of the two highlighted the differences between shooting and fighting.

The first class was the NRA Basic Pistol Instructor’s Course. I decided to take this class because I regularly get asked for advice and there has been a lot of interest in the NRA sponsored courses from friends, family, and associates. I refuse to dispense advice about things that I have no experience with, so I cowboy-ed up and paid for the class. All shooters are teachers and coaches, even if you are simply trying to improve yourself, you have to be your own instructor so taking a basic instructor’s course is not a bad idea for anyone. This particular course was very professionally managed and run. The lead instructor makes his living teaching NRA courses and was entirely proficient with his subject matter. The students ranged in experience and attitude from an ordained minister to active duty military personnel and everything in between.  Course materiel was appropriately oriented towards safety and training progression. Suggested lesson plans provide a framework for beginning with a student who has never fired a handgun and progressing through safe handling and shooting of the most common types of pistols and revolvers. I have never been to a firearms course where I did not take away something but I have taught hundreds of people how to shoot. As a result, most of my personal learning in this course was from interaction with the other students as they instructed. Some people seriously underestimate the value of this kind of interaction. Someone teaching you a skill that you already possess provides a fresh point of view that can improve your shooting or help you to instruct someone else. Everyone learns in different ways and everyone’s window on the world is a bit different. The more ways that you can describe, demonstrate, and relate to the same skill, the better. I would recommend that anyone with baseline firearms proficiency take this course. Learning to teach others to shoot, even if you don’t plan to  actively instruct, will improve your own shooting immensely.

My one real complaint about the course materiel is the NRA’s desire for its instructors to drop the word “weapon,” from the lexicon when teaching. The organization’s reasoning is that “weapon” may have a negative connotation which may be detrimental to the learning processes of some students. Utterly ridiculous, poppycock, goose feathers, elephant dung, oxen shit, take your pick of appropriate adjectives.

A weapon, any weapon, is an inanimate object, a tool. Something that is in the literal sense “motivated” by the will of the operator. As such, the word “weapon” holds nothing but a neutral connotation. This is beside the fact that many people taking the NRA Basic Pistol course will be primarily interested in learning about handguns on order to put them to their intended purpose, the defense of self and family. Denying the essence of a firearm is off-putting to many more people than calling it what it is. It also smacks of semantic trickery and intellectual dishonesty, tactics of those that want to disarm the populace, not those that are on the side of liberty.

As a group, gun owners cannot hammer gun control advocates for failure to use proper terminology and then censor ourselves from using one of the most correct terms for firearms; at least not if we expect to retain any intellectual honesty. I can avoid calling a Fairbairn-Sykes a “dagger” all that I like. I can even use one to slice bread and put jam on toast, it is still not a butter knife. It remains what its designers intended it to be, and what thousands have used it for, a fighting knife. In the same sense I can use a pistol for any number of innocuous competitions and shooting events. It still retains its purpose. It is a tool used to equalize and neutralize adverse situations. An object that can be used to increase the efficacy and efficiency of damage delivered to an opponent. A weapon. To deny that is disingenuous and the NRA should absolutely reconsider this teaching point.

The second class was a high-intensity course attended only by professionals and run by some of the best instructors in the country. We fired in excess of one thousand rounds per student, through many types of weapons, within a five day period. However, this was not a shooting course, it was a fighting course. Nine hours a day we were fighting with something. Empty hands, improvised weapons, contact weapons, rifles and pistols of multiple makes, models, and calibers. Single opponents, multiple opponents, single targets, multiple targets; no breaks.  At the end of the day we would limp our way back to our homes or hotel rooms to slam a handful of ibuprofens and a beer or four. Then we were back at it the next day. Every student was hurt, several were injured, but no one quit working.

The stark difference in the two student bodies reminded me of a truism that I discovered early in life and have seen proven again and again:

“There are no dangerous weapons; there are only dangerous men.” -Robert A. Heinlein, Starship Troopers

Everyone in the first class was competent, everyone in the second class was dangerous. I am glad that the first group represents the American population.  I thank God that the second group is on our side. These men are not mean or brutal, they are not arrogant and they are certainly not psychopaths. (Yes, they all happened to be men but if you think that a woman can’t take you apart, you are not hanging around with the right women. Weapons don’t have a gender.) In fact, if you were given the chance to hang out with them, you would find that they are some of the most engaging, intelligent and witty people that you will ever meet; until they are not. They are extreme sheepdogs.

Why was there such a disparity between student bodies?  Part of the answer is level of training. The second group of students had a much higher level of training than the first, but that is not the whole answer. Increased training just makes a dangerous individual more dangerous.  The answer is intensity of training. The first class of students accomplished exactly what they intended. They drove to the range, went to the line, put some rounds through paper targets, packed up their stuff and left. No big deal, except for the fact that many of them finished a shooting drill and immediately concealed their pistols for the drive home. With the exception of three students, myself included, no one fired any combat drills prior to leaving. They took the lessons that they reinforced on the range out into the dangerous places of the world.

The second group of student started every day on the range with shooting drills. Exercises designed to hone accuracy, precision, and speed. However, shooting drills were used as a warm up for gun-fighting drills. Exercises emphasizing movement, speed, necessary accuracy, lethality, and preparation for worst case scenarios. Everyone on the line was training like their lives depended on it, because they do. Guys made things as difficult as possible on one another and themselves by starting drills from positions of disadvantage and inducing malfunctions on one another’s guns.  It was not uncommon to see pistols or knives instinctively punched through a close target when a student ran out of ammo. It was also not uncommon for a student to sprint away from a target to find cover once an engagement was complete. Students were training like they were in the real world, not a flat range. They understand that guns are just tools, the man is the dangerous weapon. They took the dangerous places of the world onto the range and trained for a fight. The last thing every student did on the range for the day was run a successful combat drill.

What are you training for? If you carry a gun, or have one in the home for protection, an appropriate amount of your training time should be devoted to fighting with that gun, not just shooting it.  Yes, both skills are vital and one must be able to shoot a gun before being able to fight with it.  For most of us, training time is hard to come by and ammo (especially right now) is dear. This makes it even more imperative that we know what we are training for, identify personal weaknesses, and have a training plan. If you are new to firearms, take a basic course from a reputable instructor (I am going to do another article on how to find a good instructor) and learn to safely handle your weapon. If you have progressed past that point, it is time to stop admiring how small your shot-groups are and get serious with your tools. Know when you are training to shoot and when you are training to fight. Learn to fight with your guns and finish every training iteration with a fighting scenario. Then take those skills with you into the dangerous and unpredictable world in which we live.

Black Sheep

Posted in Black Sheep, Colorado, Concealed Carry, Firearms, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 24, 2013 by blackshepherd

This is a wolf:

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Except for the fact that he is not a wolf;

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he is a sheepdog, a German Shepherd. If he were a wolf, that baby would probably be a Scooby-snack. Instead, he is definitely the safest infant in the park.

How is one to tell the difference between the wolf and the sheepdog? Both are big and strong, they have fur, pointy ears, and fangs. They look very similar, in fact they are as close as cousins can be. They are two sides of the same coin. However, looks are deceiving. The best way to tell the difference between a shepherd and a wolf is by their actions. The same is true of people.

The metaphor of wolves, sheepdogs, and sheep is not new, nor is it mine. It was used extensively by LTC (ret) Dave Grossman in his books On Killing, and On Combat. There are those that love these books and those that hate them. Either way, they are worth a read simply because of their proliferation throughout the military and police forces. The particular chapter from On Killing, which I intend to pilfer mercilessly, is here: On Sheep, Wolves and Sheepdogs.

The basic idea is that there are three kinds of people in the world. There are the sheep, the majority of the population that is non-violent:

“We may well be in the most violent times in history, but violence is still remarkably rare. This is because most citizens are kind, decent people who are not capable of hurting each other, except by accident or under extreme provocation. They are sheep.”

The wolves are human predators and prey on others:

“Do you believe there are wolves out there who will feed on the flock without mercy? You better believe it. There are evil men in this world and they are capable of evil deeds.”

Then there are the sheepdogs, people that have committed themselves to the defense of others:

“But what if you have a capacity for violence, and a deep love for your fellow citizens? What do you have then? A sheepdog, a warrior, someone who is walking the hero’s path.”

I love this metaphor but I think many people are put off by the absolutism of the comparisons. There is more of a sliding scale amongst personalities, degrees of ability and inclination. Obviously not every criminal is Hannibal Lector and not every member of the security forces is Captain America.

A sheepdog is a member of the “protectors.” People who have volunteered to put themselves between society and evil. Protectors with a particular talent for righteous violence often end up in the combat arms of the military or the more specialized portions of police forces. They can also be found working as highly paid personal protection (bodyguards) and “fixers” for people with the money to “fix” things. These people are highly trained professionals, with a finely-tuned set of skills. Those without the inclination to violence often work in the support arms of the military or the more standardized jobs within police forces. These people are still highly trained but usually with a much different skill set than the previous group. This is not to say that the sheepdog personality can only be found in the military or police, or that everyone in those professions is a sheepdog. However, the warrior mentality does tend to gravitate to warrior occupations. The “reduced violence” brand of sheepdogs can also be found working as firefighters, doctors, lawyers, teachers, almost any profession where protecting and nurturing others is necessary.

“Understand that there is nothing morally superior about being a sheepdog; it is just what you choose to be. Also understand that a sheepdog is a funny critter: He is always sniffing around out on the perimeter, checking the breeze, barking at things that go bump in the night, and yearning for a righteous battle. That is, the young sheepdogs yearn for a righteous battle. The old sheepdogs are a little older and wiser, but they move to the sound of the guns when needed right along with the young ones.”

Not everyone has the time, inclination, or abilities to be a sheepdog, nor should they. Science, art, literature, music, any and all of the things that make life worth enjoying, would suffer in a purely warrior-based society. Pursuit of life and liberty is what the sheepdogs have signed-on to protect. Average people having a safe place to pursue these things is what makes the sheepdogs efforts valuable. However, no one wants to think of themselves as a sheep.

To torture the metaphor a little farther, I propose a fourth way. A place between the sheepdog and the sheep. One does not have to volunteer to protect society. Instead, learn to take care of yourself and your family. Go to a reputable trainer and learn how to do so in the most extreme of circumstances. The fact is, the sheepdog, to sheep, to wolf ratio is not in favor of the sheep. Getting eaten, even once, is kind of permanent. Ask yourself some hard questions about those that you love, and how far you are willing to go to keep them safe. You will learn some things about yourself that you were unaware of and come to terms with some hard truths. Some of the most adamant anti-violence activists I have ever met have admitted privately that they would violate their principles to protect their children, even if not themselves. Unfortunately for them, at that point in time it is too late to get ready.

Get prepared for worst case scenarios, then go on about your life. Pursue your chosen profession, care for your spouse, and raise your children. . My father, a teacher and one of the most amiable men I know (except when riled), read this before I posted it. He said, “I knew the day that you and your brother were born that I had two options protect to the utmost, or punish to the ends of the earth.” Always be ready to defend your family if the circumstances of life and the tyrannies of evil men make it necessary. Help will be coming but time will not be your friend. Please be prepared for that day if it ever comes. The world will be a better place for it. Be a black sheep.

Colorado is Pissed

Posted in Colorado, Concealed Carry, Firearms, Gun Control Debate, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 19, 2013 by blackshepherd

Right up front I need to say that I am trying as hard as I can to keep this blog apolitical. I want it to be welcoming to people of any and all political stripes. I truly believe that if I can get people to go to the range with someone competent then they will become responsible gun owners, at the very least responsible gun understanders. When it comes to the questions of politics, I default to the side of liberty, no matter which political party is on one side or the other. As a result, some of this post may seem to bash one political party. As one of my associates used to say after doing some business, “They brought that shit on themselves.”

I love Colorado. The weather is fantastic, the mountains are beautiful and the people here have a libertarian streak a mile-wide. They do not want anyone, especially the government, telling them how to live their lives whether that is prohibitions on marijuana or on firearms. Many citizens of Colorado feel betrayed by the recent passage of anti-gun legislation in the Colorado State House. Many long-time residents of the state are thoroughly confused about how such a thing could have even been proposed in Colorado, much less passed. The answer is demographics, political apathy, and underhanded political tactics.

I am going to eventually write a much longer post related to the demographics of Colorado. As in many states that are mostly rural, the politics of the state are dominated by the major metropolitan areas. The Denver area, especially when one includes Aurora, Boulder, and Ft. Collins, is experiencing some of the fastest population growth in the country. It votes towards the left wing. It is dragging a state that was thoroughly libertarian towards authoritarianism. When the recently passed gun-control legislation came before the state Senate only 90 minutes of testimony were allowed for each side of the debate. You see, the outcome was a foregone conclusion and those that had already made their decisions had other parts of an agenda to work on. A total of three hours was allowed to discuss limitations on a freedom named in the Bill of Rights. A freedom that Americans have died for since America was an idea and not a country. That is disgusting.

This sorry state of affairs came about because of political apathy. Normal citizens have lives to lead. They are busy trying to make a living, take care of their homes and feed their children. In Colorado the libertarian streak I wrote about plays a large part in how people relate to each other and the government. The typical attitude is, “Hey man, you don’t mess with me and I won’t mess with you, I might not even pay you that much attention.” Well, the state government has messed with people and they are furious. One of the best ways to get Americans to do something is to tell them they cannot (See Prohibition for historical reference). Anything that looks like an AR pattern rifle flies off of the shelves of gun stores. One has not been able to buy ammunition at normal cost for months. Most ammunition can be had but at double its normal price, and people are still buying it. The only thing in stock at most stores is 20 gauge target rounds and .270. Average people are stockpiling magazines whenever and wherever they can find them. This is indicative of a population that is distrustful of not just the government but what the future holds. I have never seen anything like it in my whole life.

In response to this widespread dissatisfaction with the recent gun legislation 54 of 64 Colorado county sheriffs have signed onto a federal lawsuit against the state of Colorado. The sheriffs are arguing that the new laws are in violation of the 2nd and 14th Amendments, as well as being nearly impossible to enforce.

“We each took an oath. The line in the sand has been drawn, and we will stand united,” said El Paso Sheriff, Terry Maketa

Hell yeah…

Sheriff’s lawsuit   Sheriff’s Lawsuit 2

Also in response to the nature of these laws, and the manner in which they were passed, efforts are underway to recall three state senators and one state representative who were integral to the process. True grass-roots efforts, started by folks that have no political experience, are underway to recall Colorado Senate President John Morse, State Senators Evie Hudak and Angela Giron, and State Representative Mike McLachlan. Efforts may also be in the offing to recall State Representative Rhonda Fields, who sponsored two of the recent gun bills. In order to recall a Colorado politician, the recall effort must get a number of valid signatures (real people of voting age that actually live in the district in question) to 25 percent of the total number of ballots cast in the election of the politician being recalled.

Senator Morse says he’s not worried:

“What they’re accusing us all of is passing sensible gun legislation that 90 percent of the public supports, so how does that work to get 50 percent to [vote for a] recall?” Morse asked.

I’ll tell you how it works Senator Morse, claiming that you had 90 percent of the public behind your proposals makes you a liar. I have personally met NO ONE that supports this gun control legislation. I live in a slightly more rural part of the state but it is it possible that I am only surrounded by the very small minority that is opposed to to this legislation? Conversely, everyone I engage in conversation on the topic is irate. Senator Morse, you knew that your claimed numbers of supporters was vastly exaggerated. You also knew that what support you did have was waning as the emotions from the Aurora and Sandy Hook shootings died down. That is why you rushed these laws through the process before the average citizen of Colorado knew what was happening. Prepare to reap what you have sown.

Senator Morse can claim that he is not worried but he should be. Yesterday I walked into a local gun shop in Colorado Springs. There was a very nice lady meeting people in the doorway and asking them to sign the recall petition. She was doing a booming business. I questioned her about the process and the issues. She was articulate and well-informed about all of the issues and the political process. She also said that the recall effort already has the requisite number of signatures. Now they are trying to collect extras to ensure a buffer in case any signatures are disallowed.  I explained that I do not live in the correct district to sign the petition but thanked her profusely for what she was doing. If this is the caliber of volunteer that is working on the recall, then Senator Morse should be very worried indeed. The recall efforts website is available here: Basic Freedom Defense Fund

Some of the other recall targets may be a little more concerned. Apparently Senator Evie Hudak had a conniption-fit about people collecting petition signatures outside of the grocery store where she shops. She complained to the store management, referring to the store as “my store.” Why should she understand the implications of the 1st Amendment when she certainly does not understand those of the 2nd Amendment?

State Representative Mike McLachlan is not a student of the US Constitution either. On his recall website he is quoted as saying:

“…the right of the First Amendment is not absolute. It is like every right in that in the proper circumstances the government may infringe, take away, or completely reduce that right.”

We discussed legitimate governmental restriction of rights in “Gun Debate Parts One and Two.” Legitimate restrictions are not what he was referring to. How the hell do these people get elected? Mostly political apathy. Hopefully that is a situation that is about to be rectified.

Colorado Recalls     Colorado Recalls 2