The Defensive Use of Guns and Training

Before discussing the use of guns in self-defense it is important to try and put things into perspective. There are 300,000,000 guns in America owned by some 100,000,000 million plus law abiding citizens and despite would some would think, you will never be able to eliminate that and this means bad people will always have access to guns.

It is important to note that for many in the media today they honestly believe that guns can be eliminated and that only law enforcement and military should have ACCESS to guns. This ideological position inevitably leads to a bias in the news reporting.  What this means to you is when you hear about someone being sued by the criminals family that this is a statistical anomaly, it just never happens. When you hear on the news about someone killing a large number of children in a school that it is a statistical anomaly, it just does not happen. These fear tactics are intentionally put out to the public to foster fear of the gun in the hopes of legislation that will restrict a citizen’s right to keep and bear arms. Pretty much anything you hear in the news about guns will be slanted in a gun negative manner, which is a statistical certainty. Not to start a debate in this post but, the Second Amendment is the shortest in terms of words, is the clearest written with no ambiguity AND is the Second only after the First for a very specific reason.

Depending on your sources, the governments or independent investigation there are somewhere between 110,000 to 2,000,000 plus defensive use of guns (DUGs) in the USA annually. Since there is such a large disparity in those numbers please consider the sources, one is a government study, one is by a professor who is arguably a 2nd Amendment supporter. So, for the sake of argument let’s split the difference and say there are 1.1 million DUGs annually. In those numbers the people who would talk about their experience state that they believe the gun saved their lives. These are significant numbers when you consider the criminal use of guns, so I believe the argument that guns save lives is valid and easily proven.

Given the millions of DUGs you have to wonder why there are no criminals left standing. The reason is simply this, criminals fear citizens with guns more than they fear Law Enforcement or the Court system which of course could lead to the debate that the latter two entities have failed to stop crime. The reality of this numbers is however much simpler to explain and understand. Criminals are easily defeated psychologically.

In 92% to 98% of the times a citizen presents a gun, armed or not the predator often screams in fear and runs away. This is a great thing, it means that criminals can easily be stopped statistically speaking. This is a bad thing however because it means that many Americans falsely believe the gun to be a magic talisman against evil, that you merely show your gun and the criminals quiver in fear. Subsequently the majority of American gun owners do not feel the necessity of taking training and practice in the defensive use of a gun (please note Range Shooting is marksmanship practice, not defensive use practice).

The hardest number to find is the actual number of times a citizens fires their gun in self-defense. Records of these are not kept or at least not compiled in a manner accessible. In 2010 there were 326 deaths from the justified use of a gun in self-defense. This does not mean that people were prosecuted, it does not mean that is how many times guns were fired, it simply means that is how many aggressors were shot and succumbed to their wounds. By simple extrapolation you can see that there had to be MANY more times that shots were fired. When the shots were fired did the wound stop the aggressor or did the aggressor give up psychologically?

In the 2% to 8% of the time the aggressor fails to flee when a victim presents a gun the victim is going to have to shoot. At some point one of two things will quickly happen, a violent gunfight will ensue to the end of one of the other participants, or the aggressor gives up and runs. We just have no way of knowing the numbers but it is easy to draw the correlation between miles driven and the rate of lethal accidents. The odds of you having to shoot are very similar to the odds of you having a fatal injury accident in your life.

In those instances when you do have to shoot and the aggressor does not run in fear after you fire the gun what is going to happen next? You are going to have to shoot until the aggressor is defeated physiologically; meaning until he is paralyzed by a hit to the Central Nervous System or he loses oxygenated blood to the brain. How many rounds does it take to stop this type of aggressor? This is what we call the determined adversary. Who knows; which of course makes magazine size restrictions one of the most ridiculous laws in this country.

In our training programs we focus on the aggressor who will have to be stopped physiologically and the analogy we draw to emphasize the importance of that type of training is like not putting your seatbelt on in the morning after deciding today you will not be injured in a traffic accident. We emphasize the importance of being able to shoot very fast with an acceptable degree of accuracy while moving. It requires someone to teach you the skills and it requires you to practice regularly to maintain on a subconscious level those skills. DSC00234

If you believe you do not need these skills I would offer up the test, you are good driver therefore quit wearing your seatbelt. I kind of doubt anyone would stop wearing their seatbelt, I just cannot grasp why a gun owner would choose to not take training and practice.

Liberty Firearms Training


Revisiting the Myth: Stopping Power

This post is going to address this common thread from the perspective that if you have to use your gun that your adversary is not going to be frightened, will not run away in fear and has every intention of killing you regardless of how many times he has been shot.

A student sent me an email a few days ago with yet another “study” on the stopping power of various cartridges. The writer’s perspective was to collect data over a period of years and then analyze to see if there was conclusive evidence. The writer’s data went from .22LR to “rifle” and shotgun. The shortcomings of the study were not enough data for certain cartridges to be able to draw a statistically supported conclusion yet he kept those data points in his observations. The summation of the article, any cartridge will stop someone from trying to kill you. I am certain the author has some credentials as he is a LEO and an instructor for many years however I am willing to bet he does not carry a .22LR on his duty belt. My guess would be he has a 9mm or a .40 S&W AND am surprised why he would not recommend one of those in the article.

The major shortcoming I had with this study as well as with all studies is none actually determined if the cartridge actually stopped the bad guy physiologically. None really addressed the issue of the determined adversary who will not be deterred psychologically, the type of adversary you are going to have to shoot a lot until they can no longer physically carry on the attack.

Some of you may remember the infamous Miami Massacre where essentially one bad guy Michael Platt fought for over 4.5 minutes with 8 FBI Agents before ceasing to be able to fight. That is your determined adversary who will only be defeated physiologically. How many .22LRs do you think it would take to stop this type of adversary? Before you say one, keep in mind he is laying down deadly 5.56mm fire from a rifle at you.

My concept is simply this; I carry a gun because I know there are evil people out there and I refuse to be a victim. I am intelligent enough to know the statistics. The odds of ever having to use the gun are slim to none (although I have had to draw once), the odds of ever having to actually shoot are even less. The chance of ever running into a bad guy who can only be stopped physiologically is astronomical BUT the bottom line is if you run into that person you are going to need as much power in your gun as you can possibly carry because he is simply going to laugh at your .22LR/.32/.380ACP and proceed to rip your head off regardless of how many times you hit him with the little pea shooter.

So let’s talk about how you stop the determined bad guy with a bullet. We hopefully all recognize that there are but two ways to get them to stop, either you get a good central nervous system hit (CNS) or you cause enough blood loss that they lose consciousness. I hope everyone understands that in the gunfight hitting the CNS normally only happens by chance, not intentionally so if you are going to have to shoot you are going to have to make them bleed.

The best way to make them bleed is to put LARGE diameter holes through the various arteries, organs and veins that move blood from the heart to the brain and other muscles. The larger diameter the hole the more rapid the blood loss and the less likely bleeding will not slow. Assuming your JHP works as advertised it will be approximately twice its normal diameter after penetrating the target. 9mm will be approximately .70”, .40’s about .80”. Let’s say you’ve been well trained and have been practicing regularly and you get two rounds through the bad guys’ aorta, how long do you think he can keep up his attack before he loses oxygen to the brain? Based on which Doctor you ask, the bad guy can keep going anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes before they cease functioning. Now how much damage can this person do to you in a minute? To put this in perspective this video shows a bad guy shot in the heart who continued his attack, fled the scene and was able to drive a half mile and park the car before succumbing to his wound.

Putting all of this into perspective, many have heard of war stories where the enemy combatant was shot with the .50 BMG and literally exploded, and we know that most in combat would prefer the power of the 7.62 NATO round over the 5.56 NATO round, the simple reason being when you should the enemy with the 7.62 they go down and often it takes several 5.56 to accomplish the same thing. In making comparisons between these two rifle rounds and several pistol cartridges one consistent item keeps popping up, muzzle energy is a major factor in the round making significant injury on the bad guy.

Cartridge Pressures and Energy
Cartridge Chamber pressure

Practice Ammo Muzzle Energy

Velocity fps

Defensive Ammo Muzzle Energy

Velocity fps

7.62×51 (aka .308)        62,000





5.56×45 (aka .223)        55,000





.44 Mag        36,000





.40 S&W        35,000





.357 Mag        35,000





9 mm        35,000





.45 ACP        21,000





.38 Spl        17,000





.380 ACP        21,500





.22LR        24,000





The higher up the chart, the greater the chance your shot will stop the bad guy quickly. Keep in mind when reading other articles on stopping power that mention how quickly a certain bullet stops the bad guy that one shot from any caliber could cause the psychological defeat of said bad guy.

Over the last few months I have been interviewing citizens who have been in gunfights. My idea was to look for commonalities so I could share these with students in the hopes of helping them survive if they were to ever have to shoot. A few common threads have popped up, all of the interviewees carried .380 ACP or .38 Specials. Today ALL of them say they carry a large caliber handgun as these two calibers are not acceptable to them knowing what they know today.

And lastly for those who would suggest you carry a gun that you can shoot accurately I would concur. Additionally if the only gun you can shoot accurately is a .22LR you should stop immediately and find a quality instructor to teach you how to shoot because you do not currently know how. Any person can shoot accurately and fast a 9mm, .357 Mag or .40 S&W, with quality training and consistent practice.

From the pure statistics of the use of a handgun in self-defense we know that statistically you will never have to draw your gun. We also know that between 92% and 98% of time a citizen draws their gun the bad guy runs away. If you walk around thinking that the moment you pull the gun out the bad guy runs screaming in fear down the street, you may be right but if you are wrong, if you come across someone who will not run away in fear you will be wrong and dead. The gun is not a magic talisman, not everyone will run in fear. Carry a gun that will apply significant force, only after you have received professional training and are well practiced. Remember one day you may actually have to use it.


What is your first consideration when selecting a gun for CCW?

There are hundreds of guns, with hundreds of people swearing how good their guns are. There are thousands of people writing on gun forums everyday attesting to the superior gun in their arsenal . . and then there are even people who profess any gun will do. Will the only consideration I have when looking for a gun that I am going to bet my life will work when it is called upon. A known history of reliability.

I can read the forums and reviews, I can ask the guys at the gun store, I can ask old Uncle Joe and I can even talk to the manufacturers but in the end, every single of them is offering their opinion, generally based on what they like. I need something more if I am going to bet my life on a gun. States and local agencies believe it or not base their purchases to some degree on cost. That does not work for me because my life is priceless. I do not care what the gun costs, my only concern is that it never, ever fails to fire.

In 1986 I had made the decision that I was going to carry concealed. At that time there was no permits required so I just started carrying a S&W Model 60 Combat in .357 Rem Mag. It is a great gun, fun to shoot, dead accurate if fired in the single action mode and seemed to be pretty reliable as many LE agencies were carrying that exact gun. One day on the range I cocked the hammer and the trigger would not budge. I banged the cylinder hard into my palm and kept trying to fire or uncock the gun. NOTHING would work. After calling my friend Tim and TJ’s Gunsmith in Aurora Colorado I took the loaded and cocked gun to him. He grasped the barrel holding the gun upside down and grabbed a rubber mallet off his bench. Now I’m looking at him wondering what he was going to do with that mallet and he started wailing away on the trigger guard. I quickly looked around the shop for someplace to hide expecting that 357 to go bang at any moment.

So Tim would hit it a few times and then try to uncock it, hit is some more and try again. Finally after several whacks with said mallet he was able to uncock and unload the gun. I’m standing there with my mouth hanging open and said “what in the heck did you just do”. Time replied that there had been some firing debris, most likely copper jacket, which had gotten into the cylinder lock. I stated that I had never seen that happen in over 35 years of shooting revolvers. Tim said, oh ya, it happens all the time, you probably just didn’t realize it. He then looks at me and says, did you bang on the cylinder when it first locked up? Standing there, mouth hanging open nodding my head up and down, and Tim was right it had happened before. That very night the Smith went into the safe and out came an S&W Model 3914, never again did the revolver ride my hip in self-defense; I had lost all faith in its ability to save my life in the time of need.

The 3914 was a sweet little gun; carried it into 1988, never seemed to fail me but I had been studying a Miami shooting the FBI had been involved in and was very concerned about the 9mm being able to stop the bad guy in that moment of need. The FBI had recently changed to the Sig Sauer P229 chambered in .40 S&W so I thought I would give it a try, bought that and a H&K USP Compact the same day and started shooting them. As a quick side note, any gun I carry I have shot at least 1,000 rounds through and have owned them for at least a year before I ever bet my life on it.

The competition between the Sig and the H&K went smoothly over the next year and I started carrying the Sig. I carried that gun almost full time, collected a lot of holsters for it, watched it wear a hole in the liner of my sport coats AND as of today it has fired over 104,000 rounds without one single hiccup. From this experience I learned something about reliability. The FBI does not care what a gun costs, they will test the gun to the extreme for they have only one concern, when the trigger is pressed it will go boom, every single time. That is a zero failure rate gun.

In 1984 the Sig P226 passed the XM9 Service Pistol Trials but the Beretta was chosen due to cost. The Navy Seals in their independent fashion picked up the Sig then, due solely to reliability. Much like the FBI, the Seals only concern is reliability.

From this I have learned, if I want to know about reliable guns I will go to the people who use those guns daily to save their lives, and who better than those who do not care about cost, the Federal Government.

Since that time the FBI switched from Sig to the Glock in 2002 although agents may use the Sig if they wish. There is my reliability standard.

We have added another maker to our own EDC list, that is Kahr, they make great guns, the slimmest around and come in a variety of weights and sizes.

Well what about the latest and greatest hot new gun from S&W or Springfield . . . or maybe even some cheap little Ruger? I would hate to buy a new gun and have to take immediately to a gun smith to have the trigger replaced with something other than OEM equipment. I will be willing to give these guys guns a try after they have had a decade to two in service with the FBI and USSOCOM.

Imagine coming home and you see an email that the gun you have been betting your life on has been recalled? Or you’re at the range shooting with a friend and the trigger on his little cheap pea-shooter just breaks off? Would you really want to bet your life or your loved ones life on something that is not the most reliable gun made?


What’s going to Happen If I Have to Draw My Gun?

Many citizens who carry a gun have perhaps never really considered what is going to happen once the fight goes to guns. The reason for this is simple statistics; the vast majority of attempted crimes are thwarted the moment the victim target presents a gun. In other words the criminal is psychologically defeated.

Here is the good news. The number of times this happens annually varies wildly depending on the source of the date from as low 830,000 to 2.5 million. Clearly the number is not going to be readily agreed upon since they are statistical inferences as in this type of gun use, more often than not the attempted crime goes unreported but the point I am making is simply this, someone comes after you with a lethal threat and you respond by pulling a gun on them somewhere between 92% to 98% of the bad guys are going to turn tail and run. So will you ever have to draw your gun? There is a good possibility of that happening. Will you ever have to shoot? You will most likely not have to shoot because bad guys are easily defeated psychologically.

So what’s going to happen if you have to shoot? It is pretty rare, approximately 72,000 times a year, but as in most cases it ends in one shot, hit or miss, the bad guy is once again psychologically defeated. Now we come to a dilemma because it is very hard to get the bad guys to tell us that they quit because they were being shot at or they quit because it hurt and they died. Statistically again it works out to about 2 times out of every 1000 attempted crimes that an armed victim fires his gun. If he did it right, that ended it, but for many who have been in a gunfight they will assert emphatically it is not Hollywood and even shooting the BG 20 times may not make him stop. So here is the $10,000 question . . . how many times do you have to shoot the bad guy (imagine a giant Samoan totally out of his mind on meth, strong drug crazed out lunatic) to get him to stop his threat. The clearly appropriate answer is you shoot until the threat is over, and hope you brought enough ammunition with you to guarantee you don’t run out.

Once you realize you are going to have to draw your gun what should you be doing simultaneously? Assume the Wild West Wyatt Earp OK Corral stance and start blazing away or . . . move quickly off the line while at the same time deliver accurate fire to the upper chest of your assailant? I hope you chose the latter and I hope your practice includes this because in the end, when the SHTF, what you have practiced over and over is what you will do.

DSC00248 If your typical practice session is to stand motionless in front of the target then draw quickly from your exposed holster and place two nice rounds in the targets chest, then that is what you will do in the real life confrontation. If your holster is not exposed when that happens you will quite likely be fumbling to get it clear of your garments so perhaps you should be practicing with a cover garment. If you stand motionless the bad guy is going to shoot you or at least run you over like a freight train so move immediately away, preferably diagonally away and get behind something, anything. Little cover is better than no cover. A moving target is far harder to hit than a stationary target and a target moving diagonally away is even harder to hit. When you have distance and cover you can place better rounds on target.

Accurate rounds placed fast on target while simultaneously creating distance as a moving target can save your life. There is an acceptable level of accuracy required to be effective, it is always going to be a tradeoff between speed and accuracy. DSC00231Neither happens by accident, you have to pick a percentage of hits you demand of yourself and keep shooting faster and faster until you can accomplish both, moving and shooting. If you do not have a place to practice as you need to, go find one, and use it regularly. Do not accept the corner public range where you cannot draw from a holster from concealment, where you cannot move and shoot rapid fire because what you are committing to memory at that public range is exactly what you will do in the violent encounter. If you have a problem finding a place, contact me through our website and I will help.

And for my revolver loving friends realize you do not have enough ammunition to stop a determined adversary, and if you have extra ammo and have not practiced reloading until it is permanently etched into memory you will have an empty gun and a deranged madman rushing wildly at you.

Yes I know, many will say their favorite .357 will blow the guys head clean off or completely destroy the BGs heart . . . well I have news for you, it won’t and even if you are lucky enough to put a couple of those rounds in the BGs heart he still has a few seconds to rip your head off while you are trying to figure out where that one speed loader is.

Carrying a gun is much like wearing a seatbelt. We never go out in the morning, get in the car and decide we will not have a wreck today and choose to not buckle up because we know there are crazy people out there on the highways. And just like the seatbelt, if we go out there with our favorite carry gun that we only practice range shooting with once every couple of months, well we may as well leave it at home as it will be ineffective in the face of the determined adversary. Yes the odds are in your favor, that the BG will hike up his skirt and run in fear when you present your gun but . . the odds of having a car wreck tomorrow are about the same, try driving to work without your seatbelt on, it’s about the equivalent in short-sightedness.

We are at the SHOT Show

We are at SHOT Show this week, first time but was not sure what to expect but it in the end it is exactly like every other industry convention and show I have been to in the past, tons of companies trying to convince buyers they need what they are selling. I am very glad I have most of the guns I want . . . ‘cepting all those cool NFA guns. So I am here, looking for some ideas to ramp up our training curriculum and thought I would throw out some ideas and see what floats.

The first idea I had was a simulator so to speak. A company, Laser Shot offers a firearms training simulator. Basically a projector, program and videos you can use with a laser activated firearms to help you make decisions on when to shoot and where. It can obviously be used to strengthen your trigger skills but what I liked best was the shoot/no shoot scenarios. It comes with about 60 scenarios, the instructor can change the path based on your tendencies, and it allows you to make the decision when to shoot and if your hits were accurate. Donna and I tried it out, it was a lot of fun and can certainly get your heart rate up. From the standpoint of helping you learn it is excellent but it is purely a class room tool used in conjunction with live fire on range days. I really liked it and it is still in the running. They offer a CCW PSATS series of videos for citizens so you can test your skills against a variety of situations.

Idea #2 is that in a dynamic situation there is always movement. In a square range situation the only movement we can get is the shooter movement as the target is stationary. I’ve been looking at this concept for a couple of years now where the target is moving, in Bill Rogers book Be Fast, Be Accurate, Be the Best, the targets are moving, his first moving target was a rolling sheet of butcher paper moving from side to side with targets you were to hit based on threat, non-threat. I found a couple of years ago a little tractor that moved by remote control with a target mounted above. The Northern Lights Tactical system provides this but still it is just a rolling target. One of the new concepts to this system is a reactive target, the Hannibal Reactive System that actually moves and has sounds when hit. While certainly cool to use I am uncertain if it actually accomplishes the goal of dealing with a real threat while amping up your fear and stress level.

Finally there is the Simunition Force on Force methodology. In this method there is an actual bad guy, with a real gun, firing real “ammuntion” at you and you have to negate the threat before you take a “real” hit. There are several companies using Simunition in CQB training scenarios. The realism of this is there are impacting marking round that really stink and you have to deal with the threat before you are “injured” in the fight. Watch the video,

From our perspective real life training with real stress improves the shooters capabilities far more than you will ever get on a square range practice session.

So, if you were given the three options which would you prefer to take;
A laser fired handgun dealing with a video threat, no live fire.
A moving target you use live fire to negate,
Or a real live threat who will shoot you with a round that will significantly sting if you FAIL to neutralize the threat?

Point, Reactive and Sighted Shooting

Different strokes for different situations. For most “range” shooters they stand motionless in a fixed position, using perfect sight alignment and working the trigger correctly. This is what we call sighted shooting; it is what most people are familiar with. And in certain situations even in a gunfight it is appropriate if you have time, distance and cover.  Generally it is the most accurate way to fire a handgun if you wish to put all of the bullets in the same hole, however in a gunfight you are most likely not going to have the luxury of time, distance and cover, thus at LFT we teach all three methods of shooting; Sighted, Reactive and Point.

The concept of point shooting has been around since the early 19th Century being first mentioned in print in Lieutenant Colonel Baron De Berenger’s 1835 book, “Helps And Hints – How To – Protect Life And Property”. More notable in name however Fairbairn, Sykes, and Applegate from the British OSS published in 1942 “Kill of Get Killed” made the concept of just pointing the gun without aiming more acceptable and since that time the debate has raged on its effectiveness in terms of defensive accuracy.

Quite a few years after WWII Col. Jeff Cooper expounded on the concept in 1958 in his first book “Fighting Handguns” and this really was the time the method gained wide acceptance in Law Enforcement and became a standard teaching technique with the FBI.

And for good reason, inside of 15’ most likely you will never have the chance to bring the gun to your face before you have to start delivering fire, and inside of that distance most competent shooters can place round after round rapid fire into an 8” circle on the chest of a silhouette target. Some are so good at this technique than can even deliver a significant percentage of those rounds at that distance while moving . . . KEY PHRASE, significant percentage.

Point shooting is an excellent technique for close quarters but once you get beyond hand to hand and are able to get the gun in front of your face you will be more accurate and faster if you employ Reactive Shooting.

Reactive Shooting is the concept of Bill Rogers, former FBI Agent, founder of Rogers Shooting School, inventor of the first Kydex holster and sold his holster company to Safariland Holster Company in 1985. It is based on the concept of minimal human reaction times, one reaction time being measured as 0.25 seconds. Unlike point shooting you see the gun, specifically you see the front sight so it is “somewhat” sighted shooting.

It is a very fast and accurate technique which if learned and practiced diligently can allow you to be the one walking away at the end of the fight. In essence you have to make the decision to fire before you bring the gun to the target while quickly acquiring the front sight and sight picture while pressing the trigger all at the same time. If you are using a double action gun such as a DASA or DA revolver you will actually be moving the hammer rearward while moving the gun towards the target. The skill is taught from three positions; the extended low ready, the retention ready and the holster. In our Advanced classes once a student has developed this skill they can engage the 8” target from the holster with two rounds at 15’ in under 1.5 seconds. It breaks down to getting the gun from the holster to the retention ready position in 0.5 seconds, extending to target and firing one shot in 0.75” and a follow up shot in 0.25 seconds or one reaction time.

Bill Rogers book, Be Fast, Be Accurate, Be The Best can be found on Amazon.

If you are local or visiting NorCal stop by our website and drop us an email to arrange a date to come out and shoot with us. While I seldom recommend any national level schools I do recommend two, Sig Academy and Rogers Shooting School, you will not be disappointed in either one.




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.


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.


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.