Carrying a gun without knowing the law? Words just fail me. (sticky)

If you carry a gun for self-defense, you have to know the law.  Just because you are skilled at driving a car does not mean that you know the laws of the road and are safe driving on them.

Invest the money you’d spend on shaving a tenth of a second off your splits with Andrew Branca’s book or seminars — it’ll pay far greater dividends. Visit this link to learn more, and use the discount code “streetstandards” for a 10% discount.

Also, strongly consider shooting self-defense legal “insurance” plans.  They are NOT all the same.  I believe in the model and services of the Armed Citizens’ Legal Defense Network.  This link explains the different models of after-the-event legal aid.  Caveat emptor!


Competition physics vs. defensive engineering

My undergrad degree is in electrical engineering — not physics — but there is a good deal of overlap in the subjects studied while pursuing either degree.  The difference between the two fields is that physics is concerned with discovering the laws of nature, while engineering is concerned with applying them to solve problems.

All metaphors sooner or later break down, but it occurs to me that competitive shooting can be more or less regarded as the physics (science) of shooting, while defensive shooting is the “engineering” discipline that takes the efficient techniques that competitive shooting discovers and applies them to solve real-world problems.

Now a self-defense situation is not concerned with efficiency but rather with effectiveness, although  sometimes – not always – effectiveness comes from being efficient, and efficiency is always good.  Just as an engineering solution may not be (or may be) the most elegant solution from a pure science point of view, but may be “good enough” given the other considerations that the engineer (and their employer) have to consider.

Further, usually self-defense effectiveness is heavily dependent on things other than shooting altogether (such as tactics, awareness, legal considerations, verbal skills, etc.).   Just as an effective engineering solution has to also consider, besides the science of the situation, the other real-world factors of  economics, distribution, backwards compatibility, and existing technology infrastructure (to name but a few).

The end result is that defensive shooters can learn a whole lot about pure shooting from the competitive world — and should.  But no one should confuse shooting competition prowess with the entire toolbox needed to be effective in street encounters.

Why practice at 25 yards (with a handgun)?

Saw a comment on a link to one of my American Handgunner pieces over at Active Self Protection.  My article mentioned that I saw value in 25 yard handgun practice.  The commenter couldn’t understand why anyone needed to practice at that distance because “a person at 25 yards is hardly a threat” (written with snark).   This is a failure to think the thing through, from all relevant perspectives.

  1. A firearm is a stand off weapon, and you can easily engage someone at 25 yards.  So 25 yards is definitely within threat distance.  Not often, to be sure, here in the states, but Tom Givens had a student who had to put down a BG at that distance, and I’m sure there are quite a few other examples.  But admittedly, rare.
  2. It is true that almost anything – shooting-wise – that you can do well at 25 is becomes easy at 7.  And while there’s more to a shooting problem than shooting, shooting is part of it.
  3. Consider deadlifting in the context of building paramedic skills.  The medic knows they will have to sometimes lift patients from where they are to where they can receive treatment.  Say the average patient weighs 160 pounds.  When that medic is in the gym, deadlifiting, so that they can get strong enough to perform their job competently (lift patients competently), should they deadlift only 160 pounds?  Or should they shoot for, say, 300 pounds because the gym (like the range) is a sterile environment and everything is harder in the real world?  In the gym you lift from a position of advantage with technique that is designed not to injure you; at a trauma scene you are lifting from weird, difficult, and injury-prone angles.  Similarly on the range you shoot on flat, clear, even terrain while in the real world you have to fight for your life in whatever environment you find yourself in.  In the gym you can take your time and prepare to lift; at the range you can take your time and prepare to shoot a drill.  But in the real world you have to get that patient to safety and-or treatment quickly, just as in a life-threatening situation you have to access and shoot your gun quickly.  In both cases, you need to train in the artificial environment harder and to a higher standard because everything is harder in the real world.

Those are just three reasons to train at 25 yards.

Competition with your carry gun – another reason to

Lot’s of back and forth on these intertubes about the guys that insist on competing with their carry gear and even adhering to street rules rather than the game’s rules.  I get both sides…but let me give you a decent reason to consider using your carry gear.

Was out shooting IDPA-ish rules today with “carry guns”.  Since most participants were shooting Shields, mag loading was limited to 7 rounds.  I did OK but what constantly surprised me was slide-lock.  I simply didn’t expect to be out of ammo at that point because I usually practice with a FS pistol.  But I often carry a Shield.

Might be a lesson there…

Four cost-saving, no-exertion ways to up your performance

Hey, how good can something be that doesn’t cost money (in fact saves it), and doesn’t require any sweat?  You be the judge.

  1. Slow down before you begin to shoot.  Before you shoot a string just be still for a few seconds, centering and collecting yourself.  Visualize what it is you are going to do and how you are going to do it.  Focus yourself.
  2. Slow down as you draw.  You know that a drawstroke (AKA “presentation”) is composed of several segments.   Isolate the one (or the couple) that are giving you trouble, and slow down just enough so you can think and feel your way through them.  If you can’t do them correctly slowly, you sure can’t fast.
  3. Slow down as you shoot.  I’ve hit this point a lot in other posts, but you don’t want to get in the habit of shooting faster than you can see – that is, faster than you can assess what’s happening in front of your muzzle.  That’s about 1/3 to 1/2 splits.  LAPD SWAT trains to shoot at 1/2 second per shot max for this very reason, and they see the shit a lot more than you and I do.  Any faster can easily land you in the shit on the street.  You can do this on a static range by making a conscious point to actually see and assess your target before every shot – even if using a static paper bulls-eye target.
  4. Slow down your ammo consumption.  Dry fire more and shoot less.  Even better, get someone to load your mags for the next day’s session ball-and-dummy style.

Gonna have a t-shirt printed someday that says “The Way of the Slug”!

Got a few spare bucks…

…and want to help lots of people who desperately need it?  Your dollars won’t go to waste here:

You’ll see from the “Do Something Nice” page on this blog that I am involved in animal welfare charities (mostly pit bull rescue), but Ravi Bansal is doing something great for some poor people in this world.  Never met the guy, but he’s a relative of some of the best people I know.  Take a look.

And if you have a blog or any other pulpit, please pass it on.


Providing medical care to someone you just shot (part 2)

I had a post on this subject below.  Today, in their latest Journal, the Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network had this as their “Attorney Question of the Month”, in which they asked a bunch of people who’ve like actually gone to law school and stuff to give their opinion.

You’ll see some different opinions there, and the range of responses definitely provides some angles I hadn’t considered.  Well worth the small amount of time to read.  You can also read the entire Journal, which is one of the benefits of the ACLDN, my preferred self-defense insurance provider.  Good people there.

I still stand by my original take on the subject, but now I feel better informed and somewhat validated.

An impassioned plea to firearms manufacturers

I helped out recently at a class for new shooters, many women.  Every woman showed up with small pistol that they had either been sold by some piece of gun shop crap, or given by their ignorant husbands or boyfriends.  Some of the women could not even work the slide on their “little lady guns”.

<Want to screeeeeem!>

Most guns are too big in the grip for women.  Hell, I have dead average size hands for a man (in the U.S.) and most double stack pistols are too big for my hands.

Many women can’t reach the  controls of most handguns easily – a design issue with the  blame at the feet of the manufacturers, not a consequence of physics.

All new shooters are surprised to learn that big guns are easier to shoot, easier to manipulate, and have less recoil than small guns.  The gun shops are responsible for selling them the small guns that are useless.  Curse them!  Further, even if you carry a small gun you should do most of your skill development with a full size one (see post somewhere below on this).

There is no acceptable gun for most woman to learn on and/or carry on the market.  A tuned steel revolver in K-frame size with small stocks and light loads would be good to learn on…but what would she carry?

“Practice” and “skill development” or, if you really are a macho idiot, “strength gains”, are not the answer for women.  Sure everyone needs a good dose of these, but why should women have to be at a disadvantage to men here – why do they have to work impossibly hard at it?  Remember that most women, like most new shooters, are not going to make this their passion in life – they just want to get enough skill to defend themselves; they are not shooting junkies nor will they be.

Small revolvers, and ones with hard triggers (which is almost a small ones) have a trigger that’s way too heavy.

SA guns, in any size, are not a beginner’s gun.

DA/SA guns are not only not a beginners gun, they suffer from all the issues above (trigger weight, control reach), and are generally kinda stupid to begin with (they can be mastered, but really, why go through the extra work?).

.22 revolvers or pistols are not the answer because .22s are such unreliable rounds.

So herewith my plea to the industry, and industry by the way that knows that women are the fastest growing segment of the market:  make a gun that’s both suitable for a small statured, small-handed, not-too-strong person to both train on and carry.  Design a new one – don’t plate an existing one pink.  I have two suggestions:

  • A tip-up barrel .380 auto, striker-fired, DAO.  Big enough that the recoil of the blowback design is minimized; small enough to carry.  Smaller than the SIG .380  (can’t recall the model number), but bigger than a Beretta Tomcat.  Work with the ammo guys to come up with a truly suitable, maximized .380 defensive round.
  • A smallish revolver in a reasonable cartridge, with a smooth, easy-to-pull trigger that’s reachable.  Something along the lines of a 3-inch j-frame in steel, maybe a little larger.  Work with the ammo guys to come up with a standard-pressure .38 cartridge that’s defense-optimized and such that the whole package is recoil-friendly.  Or hell, go the .40 S&W or .357 SIG route and invent a while new cartridge – there’s the entire female market to sell it to!