What to say when you’re asked to teach a new shooter (or any shooter for that matter)

We’ve all seen it since the election: a flood of requests from our lefty, formerly gun-antagonistic acquaintances asking us to teach them to shoot.  While my first reaction had been, “Sure”, on the assumption that having them as shooters is better than not*, Marty Hayes suggested a better comeback to me last week: “I’d be happy to if you’re an NRA member”.

Because the only reason they even have the option of learning to shoot now is because of the NRA, and not the ACLU.

So that’s my answer from now on.


*For the record, I think their fear of government-sanctioned violence against them because of their beliefs or lifestyle is silly, but having a lefty as a shooter seems better than not having them as shooters.

Two great articles

Note the British spelling in the titles – both of these great articles come from countries where guns aren’t allowed, so people really have to pay attention to what’s bullshit and what’s not.

The Truth About Improvised Weapons For Self Defence


This is what I’ve been saying for decades, and mirrors my “Why I Dislike Gimmick Weapons” post below.

Self-defence against knife attacks: a full review


This is an exhaustive review and analysis of all the stuff that’s taught on this subject.  Empty-hands knife defense is the most difficult problem in all of martial arts/combatives.   This article will easily dispel the “My answer to a knife attack is my gun” line of thinking, or rather, not-thinking-the-problem-through.

Tip of the ol’ beret to John at Active Self Protection for turning me onto one of these.

If there’s enough light to ID the target there’s enough light to see the sights — not!

That old bromide is so demonstrably false that I am amazed that it’s still around…yet it is.  Like herpes we just can’t seem to eradicate it.

Way back when I was a new shooter I figured this out by getting behind my bed in my dark bedroom, and pointing my unloaded gun at the night-light (barely) illuminated hallway.  I could easily ID any person in that hall, but the light near me, or it’s lack thereof, wasn’t sufficient to see the sights.

Pretty damn easy experiment to try.  You’d think that anyone promoting the shibboleth above would’ve, too.

So if you want to hit precisely in true low light, you need either a white light or night sights.  Both are a good idea.

On the other hand, Tom Givens’ data indicates that lack of sufficient light to make a good shot simply wasn’t a factor in his students’ shootings.  So while most shootings do indeed, as we’ve all be taught, take place in low light after sun down, the data (for civilian self-defense shootings) suggest that insufficient light to either ID your target or see the sights sufficiently well simply isn’t an issue.  Good to know!

There’s an old thread over at pistol-training that is full of gold on this subject, and I refer you there for wisdom.

For my part, I’ll just leave you with the thought: Why are so many demonstrably false things and bad tactics still being taught?


From the bluest part of the bluest state in the union: we are winning

I saw a map of congressional districts the other day (post election) and I believe that my home state of Massachusetts is the only state in the union without at least one red district.  That makes Mass the bluest state in the union (maybe HI, too – I can’t recall).  Now, I don’t just live in Massachusetts, I live in the most left-wing part of Massachusetts (not Boston).  (In my defense, I was born here, have ties here, and it really is beautiful here if you like the outdoors.)

Anyway: who cares?

Well, as you know, we seem to be winning the war on guns right now…yet the culture is incontrovertibly moving leftward.   I don’t know why we are, to be frank, but lately I’ve had three pretty-to-very left-wing local people approach me asking for instruction in guns.  The reason: self-protection.  The kicker: crime is very low here.

Somethin’ goin’ on…

The answers to everything

The answers to the 10 most commonly asked questions about defensive handguns

1)  It doesn’t matter.  They all perform adequately, and they all suck compared to a rifle.  But really, 9mm.

2)   Glock

3)  6-8 pounds.  5 pounds is too light for the street, although it’s OK for matches.

4)  Only a good gunsmith, and that’s not your friend in his basement.

4a)  Parts changers are not gunsmiths (but they can swap out parts).

5)  5 inches at 25 yards max.

6)   Contact distance to 25 yards regularly, out to 100 on gongs and pepper-poppers occasionally.

7)  An 8-inch circle at whatever speed you can master.

8)  It’s an expert’s gun.  Jeff Cooper was an expert, so he could carry it.  Are you?

9)  Yes, you need training.

10)  Yes, you absolutely must know the law.

I don’t need to know how to kill people faster

There are now quite a few ex-mil guys, with tons of real-world two-way range experience, many from what we now call “Tier 1 SF groups”, teaching to the public.  That their wisdom and the lessons of their experience is freely available to citizens is a uniquely American prerogative, and we should all be grateful.  We should all avail ourselves of what they have to say, and closely consider their advice regarding…well, everything gunfight-related.

And we should put that information through these five filters:

  1. These guys are not you and not me.  They are young, for one thing, and in peak condition.  They are the beneficiaries of decades of the very best, full-time training that American tax dollars can buy, not to mention the millions of rounds that they’ve been able to expend.  On top of all that they are the product of a world-class selection process and they possess talents and physical and mental abilities that most people don’t.  In short, what works for them may not for us.  Might, but also might not.
  2. They train for and have experience in missions with ROE that differ considerably from that of U.S. citizens simply trying to defend themselves (and their families) within the time, budget, and legal constraints that most productive citizens have.
  3. They come out of an environment in which training and actual missions are conducted while being part of a team that is as high-speed as they are.  On the other hand, you and I are alone.
  4. Their primary weapon is the M4 or similar.  Engagements with the handgun are relatively rare.  As Dave Spaulding has pointed out: police officers are the people that get into gunfights with handguns in large numbers, and in the context of civilian ROE to boot.
  5. My analysis of the gunfight data that Tom Givens has complied (see posts below) leads me to  believe that if you can draw and hit an 8-inch circle at 7 yards in 1.5 seconds you can probably — probably — shoot well enough.  You can add in a little more time once you draw from concealment, depending on the concealment method.  (Tom may not agree with me, but note that I did emphasize probably, as in most of the time.)  After that, your time is best spent on learning awareness, judgement, threat management, verbalization, aftermath tactics, the law, etc.  There’s more to self-defense than shooting, and after I can meet this standard I don’t need to know how to shoot people faster.  Improve your shooting if you enjoy so doing, but do not neglect these other areas!

One of the ex-T1SF guys that I admire greatly (although I’ve never had the privilege of meeting him) is Paul Howe.  He realized that in order to teach cops he needed to live in that world, and so after retirement became an active sworn deputy – with all the civilian training that implies*.  He understands what a cop alone on the beat does as well as he understands what his 1st SFOD-D comrades do.  Since he carries, he also understands the constraints and challenges facing ordinary civilians.  The teachings of MSGT Howe therefore have more relevance and credibility than those of someone with similar military experience but without this additional background.

*He had also been a cop for a little while before enlisting