“Traditional” double-action pistols are neither traditional, nor double-action…

…nor useful, or even smart.  They are at best an unfortunate design that can be worked around.  More likely — not even in the worst case — they are clunky, undesirable, unnecessary, stupid designs that are downright dangerous.  And yet, like polyester bell-bottoms, they are making a comeback, for no reason that I can discern other than people are tired of writing about useful, workable, practical handguns.

They are not traditional – actual DA handguns had been around for nearly a century prior.  They aren’t even DA – they are DA/SA.  The only reason that they are called “traditional DA” is because the manufacturers needed to call them something other than “obsolete” once the striker-fired polymer-framed pistols started kicking their butts.  “Traditional DA” is a stupid term – “DA/SA” is the original and accurate term – and you look stupid if you use the stupid term.

Yeah, I know the SEALs used them for a while – the SIG P2XX stuff.  My understanding is that their selection had nothing to do with the DA/SA operation and all to do with reliability.  Which brings me to the fact that while the DA/SA transition is, in Jeff Cooper’s words, “a brilliant solution to a non-existent problem”, it can certainly be mastered to the point where it doesn’t matter.  No question.  Got it.  But that last time I discussed pistol training with an ex-SEAL, he casually mentioned that they’d fire thousands of rounds before lunch on training days.  Ernie Langdon has made a career out of shooting DA/DA pistols.  Both he and SEALs shoot way more than I do, than you do, and that probably either of us could afford to even if we had the time and wanted to.  I mean, I gotta a dog to feed and tofu to buy.

In the hands of someone that, literally, doesn’t train exclusively with them to the tune of, oh, say 10,000 rounds a year (mo’ less), DA/SA pistols are, by design, meant to screw up your shooting and cause you NDs.  Every instructor that I know reports the same sequence when students use DA/SA pistols (Ernie Langdon and SEALs aside): Up! Miss-Hit-Hit-Hit.  Decock/holster! Up! Miss-Hit-Hit-Hit.  And so on.  That first long hard first shot goes into the dirt (or 5-zone), while the remaining easy SA shots go where they’re aimed.  To the surprise of absolutely no one.

Now, that’s on the range on a nice sunny day with no one trying to kill you.  What’s going to happen to Johnny Citizen or Mary Q. Public when they have to use that DA/DA pistol for real?  Here’s what: they will miss the first shot, just like they do on the range.  But they will also likely ND the subsequent SA shots.  You know: stress.  And adrenaline.  Plus they never trained under stress before (1% of the 1% of serious gun owners have).  So at best they fail to defend themselves; at worst they shoot someone innocent.

And all this risk…for what?  To own a pistol that’s more difficult to shoot well than a striker-fired one?  “Let’s make training much harder, let’s make it less likely that we’ll be able to defend ourself, and at the same time dramatically increase our chances of shooting some innocent person.”  There’s a winning strategy!  I’d say it’s Darwin at work except for the shooting innocent people bit.

The DA/SA design was introduced because manufacturers were trying to get around the real disadvantages of the SA 1911…which truly is an experts-only gun.  But instead of designing pistols with a reasonable DA trigger (which I concede may have been difficult with a hammer-fired pistol)  they came out with the DA/SA abortion.  Striker-fired pistols were already in production, to good reviews, in Europe.  Instead of doing the smart thing and putting design resources on that track, they cheaped out, and a generation or two of shooters (and cops) suffered as a result.  Glock changed all that for the better, and then the manufacturers had to get off their butts and compete.

But because writers and internet training “gurus” need something fresh to peddle every new year, we now have a resurgence of interest in this putrid design.  “Hey, take my new course on the ‘fighting traditional DA pistol’ “.  Just make sure to wear your polyester bell-bottoms.

In light of the above, it may be surprising that a few years ago I actually considered buying one of the then-new CZ polymer-framed 9mm pistols because I loved the feel in the hand.  They were only available in DA/SA then, and I seriously contemplated putting in the hours and rounds necessary to get competent with it (under stress).  But I wisely decided against it because I realized that despite the fair amount of training that I was willing to do with it I still didn’t believe I’d get to a level of comfort with the risk it represented.

Instead I bought another DA/SA pistol that has an even better feel in the hand: the S&W 3913.

But I had it converted to DAO.




Loud noises don’t end fights. Except they often do.

I didn’t start this blog to be the guy arguing against every macho trope out the in the gun world.  But since I’m exclusively focused on what’s a practical and efficient use of my training time, I seem to be.  Because…data.  Also logic.  If I was based in a more dangerous place (outside the United States), I’d certainly be coming to some other conclusions.

“I carry a .45 because they don’t make a .46”; “Bigger holes are better than small holes”; No one ever stopped attacking because of a loud noise”.  These last two are not true if you believe in the scientific method (and to be clear, only idiots and barbarians don’t).

What got me started on all this is Claude Werner’s latest post on the far greater popularity of the .380 over the .38 snubby.  Claude: “.380 production for 2017, 376,304 units, was 80 percent greater than all their other centerfire autoloaders combined.”  Wow!

So obviously the gun-buying public doesn’t care much about the silly stopping-power arguments that so titillate the rest of us gun nerds.  And in fact, despite their general ignorance about such things, they are right.  I don’t get paid to write this blog so I’m too lazy to track down and link the data sources that I’ve been reading for years, but it turns out that among good-guy victors in gun fights here in the U.S., there is no statistically significant correlation between caliber and outcome.  (If someone wants to provide links to data sources , please do so in the comments.  Thanks in advance.)

So Marcus Wynne naturally had some great perspective on all this.  (Note that Marcus used to run with some of the top CT pros – he wasn’t always the Clark Kent-like gentleman author that he is today.)  Marcus:

I’m reminded of what my late friend Rich Smith said when I asked him what he thought of the whole American (he was Rhodesian) obsession with caliber, like the 9mm vs .45 debate.  “Well, in the Commonwealth, Marcus,” he said, “we never really had time for that debate.  We were too busy killing people with 9mm.”


Not to malign our troops [and cops], because we do have some excellent ones, but talk to anybody in training about their overall caliber, and the lack of “fight experience” in terms of even schoolyard scuffles let alone serious bar fights or whatever, is a much overlooked and very serious deficit in the mental platform. And some think they can make up for it with gear, or a bigger pistol.

Now to be sure, if the bad thing happens tomorrow, I’d like to have a .308 pistol that I’m bringing up on target, but I won’t really be worried if it’s a .380 Bodyguard in my hand.  Because I might just actually have that .380 with me.

Flock protection or personal protection?

If you’re capable and armed – note the order of the words – you need to decide if you are so for the purposes of flock protection or personal protection.

Personal protection means that you are prepared to protect yourself, and any loved ones with you.  Flock protection means that you are prepared to protect the public, or a swath thereof. The extent to which you arm-up depends on which mission you choose.  Everything you do in fact – from how you brush your teeth to the career you choose to the most important decisions in your life – depend on what you’re trying to accomplish; this is simply the “how gunned up do I leave the house?” instantiation of that principle.

Police, of course are in the flock protection business, which is why they need standard capacity pistols, extra standard capacity magazines, and a long gun or two not far away, with standard capacity loadings.  After all, these are the people that have to intervene in mass shooting events, armed gang violence, and so on – events that potentially require lots of ammo and firepower.

You, on the other hand, usually have the option to run away from or not get involved in these things.  See my piece here on intervening in situations not your own where I argue that you need a damn good reason to.  Unfortunately too many armed people, who probably aren’t actually  capable, have the Walter Mitty notion that saving the day and being a public hero is the reason they carry.

Personal protection – defending yourself and those you care about that are with you – is the more appropriate mission for almost everyone not sworn and on duty.  We know from the data that this requires a minimal loadout, black swans notwithstanding.  It does require, however, a significant set of skills that have nothing to do with loadout, or even shooting – see here.

So before you fall for the Kool-Aid argument of “I might need it” as you don that G19, b/u LCP, reloads for each, centerline-carried fixed blade and God knows what else, ask yourself “What’s my objective – flock protection or personal protection?”


CCW for non-sissies

One of the things that has always irked me is that most concealed carry gear, clothing, and training, as well as articles you read on the subject, is based on the assumption that we all live in a sissy climate like California.  By contrast, I live where there’s real weather – I recall a few recent years where it was minus 20 during the day for a couple weeks at a time (colder at night). Now that’s not pleasant, and I’m absolutely green with envy at those Californians (at least weather-wise), but it’s reality for most of us.  (OTOH, we get 95-degrees/95% humidity here for a couple weeks, too, which I probably hate more.)

Friend Marcus Wynne lives in Minneapolis now.  Look at the screen shot of his local weather from a few days ago, and then look at his selfie from that morning below that.



This is reality.  In an effort to un-metrosexual, un-Californicate and generally go all Dr. Phil (“Let’s get real!) on this concealed carry thing, I asked Marcus for his thoughts on carrying concealed in such dystopian climes. I’ve edited his response (in italics) below.  My own comments follow in plain text.

Selection of weapon.  Given that any weapon you carry is going to have to either be staged in an outer layer or got to from beneath several layers, consider carefully your choice of weapon and holster.  If you have to dig through multiple layers of clothing, or conceal in an outer pocket, and present while wearing gloves the advantages of a double-action snub nosed revolver, or a DA/SA semi-auto with a heavy first pull will become apparent.  A single action weapon or a striker fired weapon is exponentially more likely to experience a ND if you are a) drawing under stress or duress (like after being slugged) b) from beneath multiple layers that can foul or catch a trigger c) being fired from, through or beneath multiple layers d) while wearing gloves.  If you do choose to carry your striker fired or lighter trigger pull weapon, do so in a holster, and stage a smaller weapons like a snub nosed revolver in an outer pocket or on your outer layer.

Holsters, etc:   Extreme cold and bulky layers is where the much maligned shoulder holster shines for keeping your striker fired pistol or cool dude 1911 handy and safe.  A quality shoulder holster can be worn beneath an outer layer jacket, and accessed more easily by zipping down, or staging down, the front zipper, than doing a tug up and clearing of your waistband when wearing multiple layers.  You can keep your coat on in some places, or you could stage your gun underneath your second layer as well (like under a blazer, worn beneath an overcoat).  Yes, that’s two layers to dive down through, but if you’re smart you’ll have a little snub nose in your outer layer pocket, and a small holster in your pants pocket to stage it into if you take your coat off (visit the restroom, stage your weapon, then go check your coat).

Clothing considerations:  if you’re outside in this kind of cold, you’re likely wearing gloves.  Practice shooting with your cold weather gloves.  In very serious cold, I wear “lobster mitts” designed for cross country skiers — keeps your index finger and thumb free from your other fingers.  Consider how you stage your weapons.  The utility and flexibility of two j-frames, with a waistband holster, pocket holster, and/or ankle holster shines in these circumstances:  you can have one in each outer coat pocket; when you go inside a restaurant or theater where you need to shed your outer layer, go first into the restroom and put one j-frame in your pocket, the other in your waistband or ankle or other pants pocket.  When you leave, get your coat, visit the bathroom, stage your guns back into your outer pockets.  Now, before somebody starts bleating BAD!! GUN HANDLING IN PUBLIC!!! BAD!! — if you can’t be trusted you safely stage two double action snub nosed revolvers from your holsters into capacious pockets while in a toilet stall, you shouldn’t be carrying weapons.  If you go with your main belt gun, conceal it under your second layer and have an accessible outer layer gun to be staged as above.  Remember to have a pocket holster or ankle holster to stash your second outer layer gun in; leaving a gun in your coat in the coat-check or hanging on a peg is irresponsible.

Other miscelleneous weapons:  small short bladed knives are the cool kids choice for going with pistols/revolvers.  I like them too, been carrying and using them for over 57 years.  However, trying to stab/slash your way through multiple layers of clothing is pretty damn hard especially if you never have tried or tested your blade live.  If you’re going with a small blade, a) test it on layers (there’s a reason homeless people and other street types wear layers and its not just for warmth, it’s also poor man’s body armor in an environment where stabbing via screwdriver, nail, knife, spike, shiv is common), b) train your targeting — most exposed targets for a knife at close quarters in cold are the face, eyes, the space above and below where most scarfs cover, groin, inner leg.  That’s where the “armor” is thinnest.  Make sure you got enough blade to make it work.  The very short knives of 2-3 inches you have to really work to get through in an effective fashion those kind of layers, so go where the layers ain’t, or test and see how little effect “pressure cuts” have with short blades in those contexts.  A four-inch blade is only slightly larger but really helps penetration but only if you square up and drive it home. 

Environmental/awareness considerations:  Multiple head layers with ski goggles, multiple body layers, gloves, etc. — these affect your situational awareness significantly.

  1. Extreme cold inhibits blood flow; if you get cold you get less smart. You notice less as well.  In general you have less efficient cognitive processing the colder you get.
  2. You just can’t see as much if you are bundled up around your eyes and/or you wear goggles. Peripheral vision suffers
  3. You can’t hear as well if you’ve got multiple layers over your ears, which you need or they will freeze.
  4. General mobility is hindered by heavy clothes and often heavy boots/shoes
  5. The environment itself will cause you problems — ice and snow covered sidewalks are unstable platforms for grappling, punching, any kind of fast evasive or counter-attack movement. Bad guys who are out in the cold are aware of this, and one tactic I’ve seen is to follow people till they slow down on icy patches — they’re focused on their feet.  The BGs come up on their blind side and just push them down – don’t even need to hit them, just push or tug them and down they go.

Criminal patterns:  Oh the bad guys are out.  Recent things in our weather:  people being jacked for warm coats, especially designer ones.  Homeless or drug users breaking into homes, exterior porches, garages for temporary shelter in cold or to shoot up and nod for awhile.  The push down on ice.  Hitting people at bus stops when everyone is huddled up and looking straight ahead and not behind them.  All the classic team tactics of separating and distracting.  So having an outer pocket with one hand on a weapon in cold weather is a fine practice and deterrent.

My comments now.

First, everything’s a compromise.  Really bad weather significantly disadvantages you – you simply aren’t as aware or capable as those pretty dudes in California in their tight  muscle shirts.  Your job is to do a reasonable job of compensating, not to make things perfect.

Second, reduced awareness is your main enemy.  Not much to say here except recognize this and ramp up your vigilance, especially around ice, crowds, etc.

Third – pocket carry shines here, as Marcus indicates.  This is why God gave us snubbys.  Marcus and I disagree about gloved shooting, though. Mainly I simply can’t shoot with gloves. If the gloves are so thin that I can get my finger inside the trigger guard, then they are too thin to provide any warmth. Further, even if I could manage to get my gloved finger in the trigger guard, I’d have so little trigger time with them on that it wouldn’t be safe or reliable. Also, I just don’t feel the gun well with gloves.  So, I simply either have my ungloved hand on the gun in my pocket, or alternately, as part of my drawstroke, I simple grasp the glove finger ends of my right glove with my gloved left hand while I withdraw my right hand from the glove – it adds maybe .20 seconds to an already slow pocket-draw. Or if I need to unglove in order to get my hand on a pocketed gun, that’s not hard to do discreetly.  Marcus responds that I simply don’t train enough with gloved shooting, which is certainly true, but frankly few people do and my workarounds seem prudent to me.

Fourth – knives.  Like Marcus, I like knives.  But they are extremely, extremely unlikely to be needed.  The reason I kinda approve of the current craze for carrying one center-line on your belt is that a) it recognizes the possibility of a physical encounter, and b) it encourages you to train for one, but not because I see any real possibility of needing one.  Plus, accessing one from the belt center line while bundled up is…unlikely.  Pocket carry with a tether-line?  Sure, if you want.  But I’d rather see you carry OC in a pocket – for legal defenseability, and it’s much more likely to be needed.

If you like these kind of random tips consider supporting Marcus’ fiction career by taking advantage of his current book(s) promotion:  One new book, one free book, one book on sale.

The new book incorporates lots of tactical tips in the actions of the characters in gunfights, weapons carriage and selection.  Buy here: WYLDE BOOKS 1-3 https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/912989

The free book is considered a classic in terms of understanding the deep psychology of high order practitioners of professional violence.  Here: NO OTHER OPTION https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/56252

The book on sale combines excellent tactical tips with a high “woo woo” factor.  Here: WARRIOR IN THE SHADOWS https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/538353

On Smashwords you can download these books as .mobi files to read with the Kindle app or on any Kindle device, as well as in PDF and all other e-book formats.  Sign up is free and they don’t spam you.



Why a brace of snubbys beat a pistol for concealed carry

I recently asked Marcus Wynne about the advantages of a two-snub revolver carry vs. a standard-cap pistol.  Marcus has lived and worked in high threat environments, and taught in places like South Africa which was then, as now, a land where violence touches everyone.  I thought I’d post his answer to preserve the insights.

I should add that Marcus – hardly a slouch when it comes to the things –  regards his sunbby gurus as Ed Lovette, Claude Werner, and Michael deBethencourt.  This post should be read in light of their writings on the subject, as well as the article I wrote detailing Michael’s 25 reasons that a revolver beats a pistol here.


1) First, we are assuming pocket carry for two 5-shot snubs, or belt carry + pocket carry, or pocket carry + ankle carry, and at least one speed loader and at least a speed strip.  Advantages are:

2) 10 rounds readily available, with a 5 round reload fairly quickly if practiced.  Meets the ten round minimum recommended by all the tactical gurus because people often need to be shot a lot if they need to be shot, and they often have friends.

3) Access to either hand with each gun, i.e. right hand can get to gun on the left as well as on the right, and vice versa.

4) With ONE gun, if tied up with an attack directed at the gun (like a smothered presentation) your firepower is out of the fight till you get it clear.  You could carry a knife to protect your gun but with TWO guns, if somebody goes for one of them, you can get the other out and shoot them, instead of stab them or wrestle for control of the sole firearm.

5) With two guns you are covered for the (albeit unlikely) event of a failure or fouling or cylinder lock up on one revolver.

6) With two guns, you can arm somebody with you who is capable.  (I have had occasion to do this.)   [I’d add Mas Ayoob’s insight that everyone can handle a revolver: just point and pull trigger, while not everyone may be familiar with the manual of arms of a pistol, or more likely, the particular pistol you’d like to hand them.]

7) With two revolvers and a fixed blade knife, you have flexibility in terms of striking with one hand (while maintaining lethal force potential in that same hand), and still being able to access a firearm with the other.

8) You can also utilize an expended revolver as an impact tool or facial rake while deploying another (loaded) revolver to continue the fight.

9) You have an immediate back up if you are disarmed of your primary.

10) For the “average” taxpayer street context (which does not include the vastly larger criminal use of guns in drug and gun culture in the U.S…) of 3 shots/3 seconds/3 yards, two revolvers is overkill.  However, if you have a drug amped bad guy at snubby range, or more, who are not dissuaded by the initial shots, ten fast rounds keeps you relevant in a fight.

11) If you include the criminal paradigm of shooting incidents, you see multiple armed attackers, high volume of fire at close range, complete disregard for discrimination, and even reloading.  So if you happen to be caught up in this sort of thing, having two guns with ten rounds readily available gives you the means to credibly break contact and get away (though you might be in a hurt bag if they pursued you, which happens often in gang/drug shoot outs.)

12) I’d consider the two snubs and two reloads a minimum, and only for a specific context:  civilian defense against a lethal force at ten yards or less.  That of course doesn’t help you across a parking lot, or a food court, or a Wal-Mart, or the mall, if somebody is either shooting at you from a distance or posing a threat from a moving car.

13) If I lived…I’d be happy with a two revolver carry.  In higher threat environments, more makes sense.


Why your U.S.-based training is probably sucky

Two things related to Marcus Wynne.  First, as I mentioned in the previous post, he’s a novelist now (among a couple other things), but he wasn’t always.  If you like realistic adventure novels, check out his latest here.  I don’t read much fiction, but his are page turners.  The realism is thorough, and the inventive ways he describes to mess up really well trained bad (and good) guys is indicative of why he used to run in the big leagues.

Second.  The contacts that Marcus developed back when in the global CT community are the kinds of friendships that never die.  Although I never came remotely close to anything like that, occasionally Marcus will send me a (encrypted) video clip from a training that one of his former students in the bad places is conducting.  Most recent one:

  • Instructor tells the student to run this live-fire drill one handed.
  • Student asks, “Why?”
  • Instructor uses his staple gun to put a staple in the student’s arm and says, “Because you’re injured.”
  • Student immediately runs the drill. No questions, no shock that the instructor would do such a thing.

Think you could get away with that in the U.S.?  If you answer, “Well no, not in civilian training, but in law enforcement training”, then you are very wrong.  Many cops so wussified these days that it would be IMPOSSIBLE, and the instructor would be fired AND sued.

I am not making this up.  I could not even get some of the guys I trained to carry a TASER to be tased themselves (to be fair, most did).  That cowardly cop at the Broward County (Florida) shooting that HID OUTSIDE rather than go in AS HE WAS TRAINED TO DO is not atypical. (But again to be fair, I do know LOT’S of cops that wished they were there so they could have gone in.)

But I rant.  Instead, let Marcus rant:

Want to learn how to patrol in the Apocalypse? Run through a shoot house hosing down “terrorist targets”? Etc.?  Got you covered. Want to attend training that actually works in the real world, as taught by guys who’ve used it in the real world, that gives you the whole spectrum of the violent event on the street? Only a handful of people teach that, and then quite often watered down. The type of training I used to do overseas (and now train instructors to do instead) was physical and vetted, and often the guys left the range and came back with after action street reports…the next day. Seriously. I had students leave, get in a gun fight (one EPIC knife fight in an elevator too, LOL) or a street fight and come back the next day and report how the training worked for them.

So sure, you can get excellent shooting instruction state-side, but actual fighting training – you know, the kind that might actually save your life?  Not so much.

P.S. I need to add that many good instructors would like to teach beyond “how to shoot fast and accurately” but the market isn’t there.  And neither is the liability insurance.

Stop practicing shooting!

I’ve often written that instead of buying a new gun you should spend the money on few cases of ammo and practice.  But let me go one further and suggest that you not spend any money at all on more guns or ammo; put the money instead in your retirement account and focus on what I suggest below, because you are much more likely to want more money in retirement than you are to need a slight incremental improvement in your shooting.  Plus what I suggest working on will actually dramatically improve your chances of surviving the bad thing.

This of course assumes that you can already shoot reasonably well.  And by “reasonably well” I don’t mean being able to put a full magazine into a half-dollar at ten yards at .20 splits.  I mean reasonably well.

This post was inspired by this very sad article.  Give it a quick scan.  Basically, a 73 year old Vietnam vet who appropriately shot a very bad man who had broken into his home and was trying to drown his grandson was himself shot by responding police who mistook him for the BG when he didn’t drop his gun when ordered to do so.  This is not a tragedy – not in the classical literary meaning of the word – it is the opposite of that.  But it is very, very sad.

In discussing this story with Marcus Wynne* he said (among other things): Some of my previous students in South Africa observed that American tactical training is for the most part not taken seriously in South Africa because we [Americans] focus too much on one tiny piece of the total problem.  I should note here that they have real crime in SA: real, violent, regular crime.

So, instead of doing the easy thing and buying another gun, or doing the fun thing and blasting away to shave a tenth off your splits, lets see what falls out from considering the (chronological) elements involved in surviving a violent attack:

  1. You have to be focused enough to avoid potentially bad places, events, etc.
  2. You have to have a gun with you.
  3. You have to be aware enough of your surroundings to notice that something isn’t right.
  4. You have to assess what’s not right to determine if it’s a threat.
  5. You have to – in real time – decide if it’s a deadly force threat.
  6. You have to act on the threat.  Most people freeze or don’t believe what’s actually happening.  You have to employ appropriate tactics such as moving, sheltering a loved one, etc.  Of course you have to be aware of your environment to make the best  choice here (see 1. above).
  7. You have to give appropriate instructions to anyone with you.
  8. You have to access your weapon in time.
  9. You have to employ effective challenging techniques, if appropriate.
  10. You have to track the BG’s movements in real time – we’re talking fractions of a second here – to understand what he’s really doing at that exact fraction of a second.
  11. You have to track what’s behind the BG so you don’t potentially hit an innocent.
  12. You have to be aware of anyone else in the area with a gun who might mistake you for a BG with a gun.
  13. If you have to shoot, you have to hit the BG, preferably COM.
  14. You have to track the just-shot BG to make sure his weapon is out of reach and prevent same weapon from falling into the hands of his buddies or a bystander.
  15. You have to communicate effectively with the now-shocked/hysterical bystanders to keep them safe, let them know what just happened, and make it clear that you – the guy that just shot someone – is in fact a good guy.
  16. You have to get yourself and loved ones to safety.
  17. You have to get your gun out of sight.
  18. You have to call 911 while making it clear that you are the good guy.  Included in  that call, among other things, has to be a description of you so that responding cops know who you are.  You want to do this yourself for what I hope are obvious reasons.  Also of course, you have to know everything else to say and what to include in this critical call.
  19. You have to initiate first aid to any innocent injured.
  20. You have to make sure you’re not shot by responding police.
  21. You have to know how to interact with responding police: how to act, what to say, what not to say, etc.
  22. You have to call your lawyer.  Do you know who’ll you’ll call?  Bail will come later.
  23. You have to call your spouse, partner, parents, whomever, if they aren’t with you to let them know you’re OK and won’t be home for dinner.  Or maybe for a few days.  And to let them know that the press will soon be pounding on their door.  And how to handle that, if you haven’t already discussed it.
  24. You have to call some trusted, competent third party to go and be with your spouse, partner, whomever to help them through this stressful time and to deal with the jackals in the press.
  25. You have to be able to articulate a clear self-defense case to your attorney.  This assumes that you know what those elements are, and what things (witnesses, etc.) need to be tracked down pronto because they will disappear in short order.

I’ve probably missed a few things, but 25 is enough.  Of course at this point the fun’s just beginning; you still have an investigation, court appearances, and possibly a trial to go through.  As well as other things that are even less fun.

And yet, almost all American training focuses only only on element 13.  That is, one out of 25+ things you need to be competent at to truly survive a violent encounter.  This out-of-whackedness has only gotten worse over the last 20 years.  One of the pioneers of civilian deadly-force encounter training, Massad Ayoob, did (and still does) teach almost all of these elements in his flagship course.  But almost no one else does, certainly not the plethora of young “trainers” these days with no real-world experience at all.  They can shoot (in some cases), but they aren’t teaching you how to survive: they don’t know how to; they don’t even realize that they aren’t.

Ditto most competitively-focused instructors.  Whenever I point out the limitations of competitively-focused training, I invariably get someone whose only significant experience is in elements 8 and 13 lecturing me about how those elements are critically necessary.  No shit.  As much as I admire (indeed, covet) the skill of competitors, it’s not enough.

So why do we (Americans) focus almost exclusively on just shooting?  I submit it’s because, unlike our South African friends, the high level of safety in most of our country allows us to get away with it.

 *If you follow the link to Marcus’ blog, you’ll notice that he’s a novelist. He wasn’t always.