Ten Failures in CCW continued – Substantial Caliber

In the first part of this blog I addressed some points made by a firearms instructor on the failures people make in CCW, they were addressed to some degree by importance; what I see happening most often.

#2-Failure to carry a gun of substantial caliber.

I have for the past month or so been working on one of my days off at a friend’s gun store and there have been many interesting observations that have come of that. Most of the people who work in gun stores are what we might be call gun cranks; they like to shoot, have shot for most of their lives, know a lot about what they like and view themselves as experts in all facets of guns. Now this will most likely piss off any of those types who are reading this but being a very busy firearms instructor I know one thing to be a fact, being a gun crank does not make one an expert in anything except their hobby and it most definitely does not qualify them as a firearms instructor. Where I am going with this is simply this, when a woman comes into a store and the “guy”, it’s always a man, tells the woman she needs a revolver or a striker fired gun because they are simple . . . they have just seriously insulted that woman by effectively telling her she is stupid. Secondly that “guy” never asks what is the purpose of the gun and instead leads her to the tiny, lightweight guns in a sub-caliber like a .38 or .380, perhaps even venturing up to the 9mm. I call them sub-calibers because they are, but will defer that discussion to later in this post.

Can a BB gun kill you? Absolutely, when the projectile is placed in the correct place you can die from almost anything. How about a rimfire .22? Again the answer is absolutely. Where we are going is this, the purpose of the gun used in self-defense is to stop an imminent lethal threat; TO STOP A THREAT.

How that is achieved occurs in a few ways. Predators come in several forms, most are gutless cowards looking for an easy target but in the end they are cowards and once a person presents a gun those cowards hike up their skirts and run off crying for Mommy. They have been psychologically defeated by an armed person, all of sudden that easy target just became deadly. There are some, still cowards, that have actually been shot at and so the sight of the gun does not make them turn and flee and you as the potential victim may have to actually fire a shot. Normally once that shot is fired the coward realizes he is being shot at and does exactly what the first example did, turn tail and run off.

Finally there is the predator that has been shot at and hit and little things like bullet holes do not frighten them. They are determined. That determination may be targeted at you, like wanting to kill you for whatever reason and the sight of your gun and even the sound of gunfire are not going to deter them. This type of predator can only be stopped physiologically, either by a central nervous system (CNS) injury or through rapid blood loss leading to the loss of consciousness.

So here we are we have to present our gun in self-defense, the predator continues in their attack and we fire a shot . . . and nothing happens, the attack presses on. We quickly come to the realization that perhaps we missed and need to shoot more or you could find yourself thinking about all those invites to take training that you skipped for whatever reason. You are facing a deadly predator whose intent is to end your life and you now are going to have to physiologically stop this person. This person may have on a leather coat and leather vest, your projectiles are going to have to penetrate all of that with enough energy left to penetrate deeply enough to cause major injuries.

You could then try to put your little pea shooter round in his eye or ear in the hopes he drops like a sack of rocks but of course you are shaking like a leaf so your aim is a little off and all you have done is bounce rounds off his skull and in the process turning him into a raging lunatic who is going to make you hurt a lot before he kills you . . . or you could proceed to pour round after round into his boilermaker, that imaginary 9” circle on his upper chest where if you have a substantial caliber in your gun you know you will be hitting vital organs that will cause him to lose blood rapidly.

Which leads to a great question to ponder? If you sever someone’s aorta with a bullet how long will it take for the blood loss to cause him to cease to be a threat? Depending on the Doctor you ask the answer will be 30 seconds or more, clearly more than enough time to do you some serious damage before he finally ceases his attack.

So what is a substantial caliber? For us it begins with a .4 . . . either a .40 S&W or a .45 ACP. There are subtle differences between the two and statistically in the OIS (Officer Involved Shooting) database the .40 S&W is statistically better in persuading bad guys to stop. In selecting a caliber it becomes a dance between mass (weight) of the projectile, velocity and the ability of the bullet design to penetrate and expand to significant diameter. With the exception of the .357 Magnum, none of the calibers smaller give me a margin of error I am willing to bet my life on. The .357 has its own problems such as the platform it comes in that makes fast effective rounds down range an issue . . . and then there is the reloading issue.

There are a million arguments against what I just said, after all everyone who owns a gun is a firearms expert. We have heard all of them, more than a few times but before I move on I want to address just a couple of them, particularly as it applies to women.

Many women have been exposed to shooting by going to a range with a friend/relative who shoved a .44/.45 in their hands, told them to point it that way and squeeze the trigger. When that round ignites all hell breaks loose, there is a loud roar, the muzzle jumps up violently into the air almost hitting the poor lady in the noggin and she almost drops the gun. What a great way to develop a sense of confidence in a new shooter, scare the crap out of them and then laugh hysterically.

If you know a woman who shows interest in shooting or one you feel needs the ability to protect herself do her a real favor, do not take her to the range and instead find a DSC00112bingprofessional firearms instructor who will show her the correct way to shoot and will introduce her to the effective calibers in a sensible manner.

In our beginning class we talk a lot before we shoot; Rules of Safety, revolvers, ammunition, semi-automatics and Fundamentals of Marksmanship, during which the student is handling all sorts of gun sizes and action types. They load and unload them, learn the correct method for manipulating the slide, and most importantly perfect trigger control. After all of this we begin shooting starting with a .22 barrel and slide mounted on a full size DASA gun, moving gradually up by caliber, firing several different action types (SA, DAO, DASA from sub-compacts to full size) in the same calibers all the way to the S&W 629 in .44 Magnum. When that beginner finds they can put round after round into the head of the target from 30 and 45 feet away with the hand cannon the .40 seems like a .22. In the end the student gets it, they know on a conscious level what to do and they know exactly what gun works best for them before they ever consider going to the store to make their first purchase. Bottom line, any woman can shoot ANY gun a man can and often better.
http://libertyfirearmstraining.com/


 

Ten Failures in Concealed Carry

I read a post by an instructor who has an online radio show, he titled his post the Top 10 Failures of the Concealed Carry Crowd and I want to comment on a few of his points.

#5-Failure to understand the fundamentals of marksmanship and firearms safety.

This is a biggie. If you do not have these basic concepts committed to memory on an unconscious level I’m really not all that comfortable with you walking the public streets carrying a loaded gun. I watched a video this morning of a shooting in Oakland where they mentioned that a 7 year old boy was wounded in the crossfire. A man walking down the street was shot at by some others in a car, he drew a gun and returned fire (although carrying illegally he is still justified in using lethal force in self-defense regardless of his criminality). The video did not state who fired the shot that wounded the child but had either party been trained and knew the fundamentals of marksmanship and safety there is a much better chance that the kid would not have been wounded.

Now before you get up in arms about criminals being trained, WE DO NOT PROVIDE TRAINING TO CRIMINALS, my point is that if the person who returned fire was carrying legally and had been trained the chances of an innocent being injured goes down to essentially none. People who are trained and practice would have either not taken the shot or would have hit what they intended.

If you cannot quote verse and line the Rules of Safety and the Fundamentals of Marksmanship YOU need to go take a basic class.

 

#7-Failure to Train.

Another BIGGIE in my book. I was self-taught for most of my adult life and until I made the decision to become a professional firearms instructor I had essential no formal training. Keep in mind, the defensive use of a handgun is not remotely similar to what you learned in the military with the exception that there are guns involved.

We hear from people on a daily basis that they want to take a CCW class or an Advanced CCW class but they have had no formal training. In other words they are self-taught in the basics and because they spend days on the public range standing motionless, shooting at a fixed target that somehow that makes them trained. All you accomplish in this is to commit to memory poor skills and fundamentals. These people when willing to accept professional training are often the hardest to work with because they have SO many bad habits that must be corrected first before moving on to more difficult skills.

This is going to hurt . . .

Bottom line on this one, you cannot train yourself correctly in the defensive use of a handgun.

 

#8-Failing to Practice.

Like #7 we see this far too often. Students who have made the serious investment of time and money to take our training classes fail to practice so that what they learned becomes unconscious competence.

Shooting like many things in life is a perishable skill. Navy Seal Operators fire thousands of rounds monthly to insure their learned skills can be performed under high stress situations like incoming fire so they will not have to think how to respond, it just happens on an unconscious level.DSC00210

Poorly Shot Target

If your target looks like this consider professional instruction . . . you need it.

All of the instructors at LFT take continuing training annually. We want to have the latest and best knowledge available that we can impart to our students. With that annual training comes the follow up practice so we can perform without thinking. Perfect practice makes perfect . . . and practicing crap makes you a Crap Master.

With each class we teach we always follow up with some practice suggestions, ways the shooter can go off on their own and commit to memory the skills they have been shown. So know the question . . . how many rounds do I need to shoot to maintain my skills? It is not necessarily the number of rounds you shoot, it is the perfect repetitive action of a physical activity of a very specific physical action and depending on your level of competence much of the practice can be done dry in the comfort of your own home.

Drawing from a holster does not have to be practiced with live fire, in fact you will become better if you do not have the distraction of target, gun and recoil impacting your mind. Performing a perfect trigger press can be developed at home with an empty gun and often those who do this greatly improve their learning curve. Clearing a malfunction . . . at home. Emergency reloads . . . at home.

Live fire is just a measurement of the success of your practice. You have learned at home how to hold the gun steady while moving and pressing the trigger smoothly to the rear without moving the front sight from your intended point of impact.

In the end, I think 200 or 300 rounds once a month of live fire is enough for a person who carries a gun on their person, assuming that live fire was performed with the whole package and that means YOU MUST practice in a place where you can draw from the holster, engage multiple targets, move while shooting and rapid fire. If you do not have a place like this GO FIND ONE now because public range practice will only help you learn to move the trigger. In a defensive use of the gun that skill is important but you must also do other things physically at the same time and this is much like rubbing your tummy while patting your head. In the gunfight there are a few absolutes . . . you must always be shooting, running for cover or reloading until the fight is over . . . and time, distance and cover are your friends, you want as much of these as you can possible get.

One of my instructors told me that he did not teach THE WAY, he taught A WAY and I have tried to keep that in mind throughout this career as a professional full time firearms instructor . . . and just like this blog, it is one person’s opinion . . . the opinion of a very busy firearms instructor.

http://libertyfirearmstraining.com/


 

Training and practice . . how do you do it?

I’ve written before about training. The importance of learning what you need to do so you can go practice that skill. Part of the problem we see is that people do not really either have a place to practice OR they don’t know what or how to practice. And in this sense I am referring specifically to Concealed Carry.DSC00210

Recognizing this a few years ago we looked at how we practiced and thought why not offer it as a class for people with CCW Permits. It gives people who do not have that place to practice somewhere to go so they can shoot in near real life situation. It gives people structure to their practice so they can focus on the areas that need improvement. Finally it gives them tactics, how to get off the mark, move and shoot and think about what they are going to do next.

DSC00211Our Advanced CCW Class we call Skills, Drills and Scenarios is simply a series of routines that when committed to memory will allow us to function in a violent encounter in a manner that can save our lives and in a manner that we will not have to consciously think about what to do next.

We start slow with just presenting the gun from 7 yards and placing rounds from the holster into a 9″ target. After we are feeling pretty efficient at this we move on to being able to quickly reload and reengage a threat.DSC00212

So now it is time to test our level of accomplishment with a simple 19 round drill from 7 and 25 yards that will measure our speed, accuracy and test our understanding of the Fundamentals all using widely recognized standards.

We started off the day with simple exercises like learning how to present the gun quickly but now will move on to shooting both from extended low ready and from retention ready which of course leads into how to get the gun out fast, on target and fire multiple shots on the threat against a known standard.DSC00213

By this time we have loosened the cobwebs, calmed down a bit from shooting with a group on the line under time and accuracy pressures so let’s see how well we measure up using our LFT Drill. The 25 round drill is shot with a time limit from 25, 15, 10, 7, 5 and 3 yards. At each position there are requirements like shooting from the kneeling position, correcting misfires, emergency reloads, shooting while moving forward and back and shooting with one hand on both sides. The scoring is pretty simple, on the LFT – PH1 target there is a 9″ scoring ring center of mass and a 4″ scoring ring on the head. If your round is inside the scoring ring it is one point, on the line or outside is zero points. The LFT Drill is designed to stretch your abilities and it is not designed to swell your head with how great a shot you are, in fact it can be pretty humbling. Often when our shooters are asked beforehand what percent of hits they will get most say 75%, which is 19 rounds counting . . . in reality most start with less than 50%. Expert shooters should be able to score 80% to 90%. But do not be too discouraged, we will shoot this again before calling it a day to see how we have improved.DSC00218

Now it’s time to move on to rapid fire. I know it is a lot of fun but what do you really learn from it except that misses don’t count. So we do the Bill Drill a couple of times from the holster at 5 yards with the objective time of 3.5 seconds for six hits in the 9″ scoring circle. Again like most of these drills, it is not easy and most fail but they learn a ton about seeing their sights on target and working the trigger correctly.DSC00219

We are all getting a little warmed up so it’s time to do the Room Scenario. We do the same one each time because again this one is designed to have you perform effectively in all of the skills you have worked on during the morning. The shooter starts outside the room about 10 yards away from the target line, on the buzzer the student runs to the corner of the room turns right down the hall and engages a threat with three rounds while moving towards the doorway to the room. Once entering the room there are three threats three yards away that must be engaged with two rounds each and then you exit the room near the rear 10 yards away where you started. After leaving the room you make two left turns and proceed down the hall on the right side of the room while engaging another threat with three rounds. On your left will be another door to the room where you will enter and engage the same three threats as before with two rounds each. Your run is timed and your hits are counted. If you noticed, there were 18 rounds fired or more if you choose however making magazine changes in the open can be hazardous and facing three threats face to face and running empty can also shorten your life span. Tactics play an important role in how well you perform, thinking through your actions before you start can greatly improve your run . . . again, don’t get too down on yourself, we will run this again before we leave for the day.Room Drill

To lighten things up we have next a short version of a Steel Challenge. Each person takes one shot at a 8″ steel plate from 10 yards. Each person who makes that one hit moves on to the next round at 15 yards. This continues until only one shooter is left standing.DSC00220

So now we know who is shooting pretty well so it’s time for the gunfight. Two shooters line up at 15 yards, on the buzzer they draw; first round on steel is the winner and moves on. This is repeated until there is only one gunfight champion.

DSC00221We are now approaching 200 rounds for the day and will finish up our practice session with the Tueller Drill with each shooter timed for two rounds on target at 5 yards. As we have all had a pretty good day, everyone gets it done in UNDER 1.5 seconds . . . WTG Shooters! That is not an easy task.

Once more through the Room Scenario and one more try at the LFT Drill and we call it a day. It was nice to note that everyone participating this day improved on both of these the second time around.DSC00222

And my personal times/scores went into my shooting notebook, with notes about time, score and gun used so I can monitor my progress over time. We have completed a very effective and beneficial practice session in four hours, have fired over 250 rounds and have measured our skills in a series of tests that will stretch even the best competitive shooters.

http://libertyfirearmstraining.com/


 

How You Train is How You Will Perform, Reviewing Tuller

There is a HUGE critical difference between training and practice. Training involves focused work to achieve a specific physical movement such as being able to draw your handgun and place it in the transition position in the fastest and smoothest manner.  Practice is focused work that seeks to achieve a neural pathway programming (NPP), i.e. being able to perform the movement you trained in without consciously thinking about it. If you have not been shown (trained in) all of the subtle nuances of the move and perhaps have only seen the movement in its beginning and ending positions there is a good chance you have practiced that movement over and over, erroneously and have engrained NPP that will take way longer to correct than would have if you had only been trained or coached in the correct motions.

In 1983 Dennis Tuller wrote an article “How Close is Too Close”, the inspiration for the article was a question by a student on how close an attacker with a contact weapon could be before the use of lethal force was justified. Since that time this has morphed from the Tuller Drill to the 21-foot rule and so forth yet none of those descriptors are adequate in answering the question.

If you want to know the answer try this simple drill, stand motionless on the seven yard line and draw and fire two rounds into a 9” circle on a silhouette target. The time it takes to accomplish that is essentially the distance that is too close for you. If you can do this under 1.5 seconds 21 feet might be the right answer for you. If it takes you 7 seconds you would need 98 feet . . . and if you start shooting at people who are 98 feet away I am guessing you will find yourself in a court of law defending your actions.

Liberty Firearms Training PH1 target

Liberty Firearms Training PH1 target

So to add a touch of realism to this exercise, because we ALL know we should be training for real life events, do the same drill while moving off the line, either sideways or away from the target. The movement will to a small degree mimic the movement that would occur in real life. Again if you are still impacting good hits under 1.5 seconds consider yourself well trained and practiced . . . if not, consider taking some training, and then practicing this drill until you can do it because this is reality.

People do not seem to realize just how quickly things happen in a violent encounter, if you are one of them you are at risk. Coming to the realization that this can happen is your first step in awareness that can save your life.

So just how do you accomplish this drill in that amount of time?

First you have to be able to get your gun in the retention ready position in 0.5 seconds or less, muzzle on target, trigger at the hard spot and front sight in your peripheral field of sight. This is a dry practice exercise, do it in front of a mirror, do it a lot and do it until you can get the gun ready to drive out towards the threat. That means you have to be able to position the gun correctly, obtain a correct grip, go on trigger and be at the hard spot ready to fire. This is the first step. Going to the range and practicing this while missing the target or doing it sloppily and taking too much time is only going to engrain bad habits. Once you are at that point you are ready to go hot.

Step two is to learn to drive the gun from the transition position to the target while steering the front sight and at the end of this extension smoothly press the trigger straight to the rear without moving the front sight. In essence to be at this point you will have already mastered the fundamentals of trigger control in a double action mode of fire. To test this ability, stand 15 yards from an 8” circular target, we use steel plates for the instant feedback, and from the transition position ready to fire, extend smoothly towards target while performing a double action trigger press. When you can do this 10 times in a row without a miss, move back to 20 yards and work up to ten times consecutively at this distance. What you are learning to do is how to move the gun towards the target, steering the sights into the correct position while pressing the trigger to the rear.

Okay, so now we can get the gun to the transition position and are ready to fire in 0.5 seconds.

Next step, extend the gun smoothly and fire one round double action into that 9” circle in 0.75 seconds. When you are able to do this every time it is time to combine this with the draw stroke and put rounds on target in 1.25 seconds.

After that we will add in how to fire a double shot in 0.25 seconds . . . and then add movement from our position.

564730_10150662883331139_1054759514_n Training is fun. I love to learn new techniques. Practice can be boring because it is simply repeating the same movement perfectly over and over until the mind begins to take over and you can do it without even thinking about it . . . and this is how you will perform in a violent encounter, exactly as you have trained and practiced.

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