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

Revolver vs self-loader, Oprah and Bill Buckley

Of the well over 700 articles I’ve published since 1994, probably the one that has been most viewed, reprinted, linked to, and commented on is the one I wrote over a decade ago for Combat Handguns titled “25 Reasons Revolver Beats Auto”  Those 25 reasons were a list created by the Buddha of Belly Guns, the Sifu of the Snubby, the Raja of the Revolver, and a host of other titles – some of which are complimentary 🙂  ,  Michael deBethencourt.  Truth be told, Michael is a friend and probably the world’s largest human repository of knowledge and arcana relating to the snub-nose revolver.  His 25 reasons is mostly serious and partly said with a wink.

Here’s a link to that article on Michael’s website.

But boy howdy!  Subtlety and fun talking to the gunner crowd, especially about this religious subject?  You’d think Michael had insulted Barack Obama in Chicago.  And me – the poor scribe, lil’ ol’ me – I got the heat of the flame throwers, too!  I was called a foul stinky blotch on mankind, and some bad things too.

But what really disappoints – I won’t say surprises – me is the fact that this article about a rather mundane and somewhat silly subject is my most popular.  Over on YouTube, a fella what goes by “the Ol1911” read – READ – the article to a basically STATIC screen, for OVER ELEVEN minutes…and he’s got almost a MILLION VIEWS now…and nearly 2000 COMMENTS!  I’m flattered (and I’m sure Micheal is too), but that kind of attention on such a silly subject?  To be honest with ya all, that just don’t seem right.

In contrast, what I think is the most important YouTube video that I’ve made – here – has received to date only 140 views.

So yeah, Oprah gets the yuge numbers and Bill Buckley, if he were still alive and filming Firing Line, would be on at midnight between the infomercials.

Urban Combatives – Lee Morrison

Been out of the empty-hands thing for several years now due to ageing, injuries and disease (arthritis).  This bloke, Lee Morrison and his Urban Combatives, has been around for some time although I’m just starting to read/view him.  He makes a lot of sense, and he looks very good (by which I mean extremely practical).  Check out his website and look him up on YouTube (although if you don’t have a background in empty hands you won’t appreciate what you’re seeing).  Here’s, for me, the money quote from his website:

The physical side of the equation is pretty simple – just develop 2 or 3 effective strikes that you can hit hard with and that work well for you. Drill them until you reach a level of unconscious competence. This comes by practicing the said strike(s) for several thousand reps on the heavy bag until they become a part of you… Everything else that you look at and practice are contingency plans for that. So the idea is not to accumulate techniques; just find something workable for you.