“The Gospel of the Gauge” – Patterning your Shotgun for Professional/Duty and or Home or Self-Defense use.

One of my mentors, Tom Givens from Rangemaster Firearms Training Services refers to Shotgun Training as “The Gospel of the Gauge” especially when it is done on a Sunday. (Don’t lie, you laughed) Tom also says that “Patterning your shotgun is critical, but an often overlooked aspect of being prepared to use that gun in self-defense.”

I have patterned a few shotguns before and understand that many people do not because they are living in some type of an alternate reality believing that a shotgun doesn’t need to be aimed and that somehow their payload will magically find their intended target. The hard reality is you must practice sound fundamentals and have both a steady aim and good trigger control in order to hit your target, even with a shotgun.

Before I get started, I’d like to ask all of the Gun Pretenders, YouTube, and Instagram Instructors and of course those famous Keyboard Operators out there, please stop recommending birdshot for professional/duty and or home or self-defense. Birdshot offers less than adequate penetration and besides, birdshot is for shooting what … the correct answer would be, you guessed it, birds.

OK, let’s talk about how to pattern your shotgun.

In order to establish a control group, I recommend placing three (3) shots on a target with a variety of payloads, each from the exact same distance, 15yds or 45ft. The POA or Point of Aim I chose with my Beretta 1301 Tactical was the center of the “A” Zone on an I.P.S.C. (International Practical Shooting Confederation) target. (Yes, I patterned the gun with some birdshot and I used a distance of 10yds or 30ft for those payloads)

Sure you could use five shots and most often in zeroing my rifle I will use a five shot group because I want to make sure that I minimize the outliers or as Pat McNamara calls them, “Junebugs.” However, I feel that three shot groups are sufficient to get an accurate feel of the payload and what it will do when launched from your shoulder-fired shotgun.

The reason I specifically mention shoulder-fired shotgun is that there are a couple new kids on the block, the Remington TAC-14, and the Mossberg 590A1 Shockwave. These shotguns have been available for over a year now and maybe close to two; however, they are basically hand cannons and are difficult to shoot with much accuracy using full-power payloads even for the most experienced of shooters. One man, “Brobee223” on YouTube has perfected the art and was very successful using his Mossberg 590A1 Shockwave to bag a couple deer late last year. I have linked his video below, give it a look. Fair warning, it is rather lengthy.

Back on track with patterning my Beretta 1301 Tactical. The first load I chose to shoot was by far the best and it really comes as no surprise. The Federal Premium 2 3/4″ 00BK, 8-Pellet, Low Recoil Flite Control® Wad (LE13300) is the choice of many an experienced shotgunner. As you can see in the photo below, all twenty-four (24) pellets from my three shot group landed within a 3″ group with the three (3) larger holes being the wads.

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Below are photos of my other targets, using different loads, showing their patterns.

Federal 2 3/4″ 000BK, 8 Pellet, Maximum. (F127000)

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Olin Corporation 2 3/4″ 00BK, 9 Pellet Military Grade. (Brown Box)

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Federal Premium 2 3/4″ 1BK, 15 Pellet, Low Recoil Flite Control® Wad. (LE132 1B) This was the second best pattern; however, I find that the 1BK is not as consistent as the 8 Pellet 00BK patterned in the first photo.

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Federal 2 3/4″ 4BK, 27 Pellet, Maximum. (F127 4B) Just to big of a spread for me at this range and not something I would recommend for professional/duty or home or self-defense use.

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As I mentioned above, I wanted to put some birdshot on target and here are the results. Birdshot Federal #4 Shot “Heavy Field Load” – 2 3/4″ – 1 1/8oz – 10yds (Take note, the larger holes were made by the wad, not the shot) This sure appears to be a tight pattern, it’s the lack of penetration that makes birdshot suboptimal in its effectiveness for professional/duty or home or self-defense use.

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Winchester Super Target #8 Shot 2 3/4″ 1oz – 10yds (Once again, the larger holes were made by the wad, not the shot) Same result, fairly tight pattern; however, penetration with this payload would also be an issue.

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So, once you have established a control group and your desired starting distance (Mine was 15yds) and you have selected the payload that you feel works best in your shotgun, it’s time to find out what the maximum effective range of your shotgun is with that particular load. In order to determine that, you will want to run your shotgun out to a distance and stop when you find the point at which you can keep all of your pellets from your chosen payload inside an 8″ to no more than 12″ pattern. I’d also recommend not only shooting cardboard or paper targets alone, make sure to shoot some steel as well. I happen to use 12″ AR500 discs that are 3/8″ thick, they work well with 00BK at this range.

From this test, it’s easy to see that my 1301T likes the Federal Premium 2 3/4″ 00BK 8-Pellet, Low Recoil Flite Control® Wad (LE13300) best at 15 yards. From previous experience with this payload, I can move back as far as 30yds and still keep the pattern inside an 8″ to 12″ group and that is precisely the reason I choose this particular load for my shotgun.

When I can find some time in between the courses that I am teaching and the ones I am attending as a student this spring and summer I will pattern my Vang Comp Systems Remington 870P to find out exactly what it likes best. Candidly, I suspect that there will be some similarities; however, one never knows until we put in the work.

If you need assistance in patterning your shotgun for professional/duty or home or self-defense use please consult a reputable Instructor/Coach who is familiar with the nuances of patterning a shotgun and can give you proper advice on the appropriate payload for your intended use as well.

Winding up I would be remiss if I didn’t give you an opportunity to train with Mr. Givens as he preaches “The Gospel of the Gauge” later this year in Lakeland, Florida. If you are an Instructor or aspire to be one I’d highly recommend that you train with Tom and Lynn Givens. For more information on the Rangemaster Shotgun Instructor Development course, please see below.

Rangemaster Defensive Shotgun Instructor Development Course
Chief Instructor: Tom Givens
November 16-18, 2018
Firearms Training Club of America, Inc
Lakeland, Florida (Private Range)
Tuition: $595.00

Register Here:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/defensive-shotgun-instructor-course-3-day-tickets-39454107297

 

Until next time …

As always, live life abundantly; train hard so you can fight easy!

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Prepare yourself for the legal aftermath! Comparing legal plans for situations involving the use of deadly force or the threatened use of force.

While teaching courses all across the country I am often asked by my students about the different plans available for protection in the aftermath of a self-defense incident where the use of force including the use of deadly force has taken place.

Protecting yourself against the aftermath is a huge business these days and it all started in 2008 with Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network, they are the oldest and most respected organization in this market.

This information below was gathered from the websites of these providers and from my personal knowledge as a member of two of the companies, and it is verified current as of 10/16/2017.

Self Defense Plan Comparisons

There are many intangibles that need to be factored into your decision, and your decision should NOT be based on cost or blind allegiance to one organization.

The Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network has an Advisory Board consisting of industry giants Massad Ayoob of Massad Ayoob Group, John Farnam of Defense Training International, Tom Givens of Rangemaster Firearms Training Services, Attorney’s Emanuel Kapelsohn and Jim Fleming and Dennis Tueller best known for the “Tueller Principle” and the article he wrote in SWAT Magazine in 1983 named, “How close is too close?” You cannot buy that kind of expert witness team who will be on the ground helping your defense team immediately after your call, none of the other providers have these folks available on a moments notice.

CCW Safe bail bond coverage to $100,000.00 is huge, since most bonds can be well in excess of that amount, and their no limit to coverage for Attorney’s fees for both Criminal and Civil Defense is only matched by US/Texas Law Shield.

As you see from my spreadsheet above, most of the plans have liability limits and remember that certain things like paying for discovery documents may or may not be covered, in the State of Florida vs. Zimmerman case, discovery costs were in excess of $300,000.00, do you have that in savings or investments that you can access?

Again, buyer beware and know exactly what you are buying with these agreements. NRA Carry Guard is a reimbursement program, that means you come up with all the money upfront, they are the only reimbursement program in the industry.

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are a sworn Law Enforcement Officer and want coverage on and off duty, you need to look at CCW Safe or US/Texas Law Shield, they are the only providers who have plans that cover sworn Law Enforcement Officers.

In fact, it should be noted that USCCA has told sworn Law Enforcement Officers that their department will cover them when they are sued as a result of an on-duty incident, this is a patently false statement.

The moral of the story is simple. Do some in-depth research on each plan, then and only then can you make an informed decision to protect yourself in the aftermath of a significant emotional event like having to use deadly force to save your life or the life of your loved ones.

So, if you are not a multi-millionaire and can fund your own defense, you might want to compare some of the legal protection plans, be it an insurance backed plan, a legal services plan or a membership backed plan.

Find out more by clicking on the links below.

Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network

CCW Safe

Conifer Insurance CCW Advantage

NRA Carry Guard

Second Call Defense

USCCA

US/Texas Law Shield

In full disclosure, I will not recommend one program over another, as I do not know your financial position. I have said it several times, you need to do your own due diligence. I am a member of the Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network and I am also a member of CCW Safe, after doing my own research years ago I found these two programs offer exactly what I want and more importantly, what I need.

 

Until next time …

As always, live life abundantly; train hard so you can fight easy!

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Course Review: Training with a Legend! Ken Hackathorn Advanced Pistol Course; October 7th & 8th, 2017 – Los Angeles, California (Host: Aztec Training Services)

Back in late April, I spent some time with industry giant Ken Hackathorn at the NRA Annual Meetings in Atlanta and during our conversation I asked him if I could get in a course he was teaching in Couer d’Alene, Idaho in June. Ken said, “no way, the course was way oversold by the hosts” and we both said, “See you at Burro Canyon.”

Fast forward to last weekend. In between visiting family that I don’t get to see very often and meeting with some television executives about providing technical advice to them on firearms and empty hand skills for their network actors and actresses, I attended Ken’s Advanced Pistol course at Burro Canyon Shooting Park high up in the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument.

On Saturday morning I woke up early because my body clock was still on Eastern Daylight Time, three hours ahead of the local time and because I might have been just a little excited to train with a man so well respected in the firearms training industry that everyone should do their best to get in one of his last courses before he retires full-time. So, shortly after sunrise, I found myself driving up to the range so I could be ready to learn from a man who has been on my list to train with for years.

Burro Canyon Shooting Park has nineteen bays ranging from forty-five yards to just under one-hundred ten yards in length.

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(The photo above is courtesy of the Burro Canyon Shooting Park website.)

At 0900hrs we started with Ken greeting all twenty of us and holding a short classroom session on the range before we got down to business running our handguns.

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(The photo above is of Ken giving a short classroom presentation at the back of the range on TD1.)

During the classroom presentation, Ken spoke with us about how he has been a “Student of Weaponcraft” all of his adult life. He said that current training is in decline right now due to oversaturation, and I agree. Unfortunately, a significant percentage of the firearms training community have no business instructing anything at all, they either have untested POI (Program of Instruction) or they cannot explain why they teach what they teach and how it applies to the responsibly armed citizen. Sadly, many of them cannot figure out the adult learning theorem either. These same folks are the ones that get into arguments to raise their social media status and are desperate to sell tickets to Gun School.

Ken started instructing after meeting United States Marine Corps Lt. Col. Jeff Cooper at a course he was teaching in Colorado a few years before the Colonel started the American Pistol Institute, you would recognize that institution now as Gunsite Academy. The story of how Ken got in that course was excellent and you will need to attend a course with Ken in order to get that story from the man himself.

By happenstance, United States Army LTC Robert K. Brown publisher of Soldier of Fortune magazine was also attending that same course in Colorado back in the early 1970’s and a short time after the course Colonel Brown offered Ken the opportunity to become a regular contributor to the magazine, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Just so you know, Ken is very serious about retirement. Yeah, many people have heard him say that he is retiring over the past several years; however, this year he conducted four courses and next year it will be only two and only one is open enrollment. So, fair warning to you, I suggest that if you want to train with Ken you had better find a way to get in that one open enrollment course. (There are hints all over this blog postings with links to the course registration) Ken told us that he has goals in life to see some things like Yosemite, and the Cody Museum and one can’t blame him, for Ken has been training members of the United States Special Operations community, sworn Law Enforcement Officers and of course responsibly armed citizens for over forty-three years, he’s due a break.

Once we were on the range Ken started us with a drill shooting five shots at the “A” zone of an IDPA target from the ready position of our choice. Ever the evaluator and coach, Ken doesn’t miss anything on the range and he is constantly coaching his students. He is well prepared and has a course of fire planned out in his head, I never once saw him refer to any notes, this kind of experience is what you pay for when you attend a course with an industry giant like Ken Hackathorn who was one of the founding members of both I.P.S.C. and I.D.P.A.

Over the two-day course I never once heard him “undress” a student for not doing things his way as you see with some of the “traveling road show instructors” these days. Ken showed us techniques that he has perfected over his career as a sworn Law Enforcement Officer and as an industry expert; however, while we were shooting his drills he left it up to us to us to figure out what techniques we were comfortable with.

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(The photo above is typical of the weekend, Ken on his way to give some personal coaching to one of the students on TD1.)

We were constantly evaluated by the timer and by our target. Ken’s scoring system is based on time measurements, and you must add time for misses outside the designated target area for the drill. There are two things don’t lie in the shooting world, the timer and your target.

Speaking of that, Ken told us a few stories about how some top level shooters and even some regular Joe’s would boast in his courses how they can run certain drills and score times that are absolutely over the top ridiculous. Ken said that he used to tell them, “Well, today I am from Missouri, and you’ve got to show me.” More often than not these folks would make excuses and or embarrass themselves by not being able to perform as they said they could just minutes before.

Many of the drills we shot over this two-day course are drills that you have heard of, e.g., the Bill Drill, the El Presidente’ and countless others. What made this educational was the fact that we shot just about all the drills individually on the timer in front of everyone else, talk about pressure to perform, that was some kind of pressure. We then evaluated our targets, pasting our bad memories and adding up our scores using Ken’s scoring method.

Ken’s 20-second pass/fail par time.

A = 11 seconds and under
B = 11.1 seconds to 14 seconds
C = 14.1 seconds to 17 seconds
D = 17.1 seconds to 19.9 seconds
20 seconds and above identifies the shooter as someone who needs a little more personal coaching.

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(The photo above is of Ken demonstrating his slide-lock or empty-gun reload technique on TD1.)

My scores over the weekend were consistently in the B/C range, as with everything when you apply yourself and focus on what’s important now at Gun School, you can do well. Once again, attending a course of this caliber helped me identify some things that I can work on to increase my skill level and also gave me a lot of things that I can pass on to the students that I train as well.

During the two-day course, Ken taught to the adult learning theorem of explaining, demonstrating, and then coaching students through his drills each and every time, and as I have said many times before, this style of teaching works really well for me as both a trainer and of course as a student.

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(The photo above is of Ken using his own personal Wilson Combat Lightweight Commander to demonstrate his “Strong Hand Only” shooting technique.)

My gun of choice for the course was my SIG SAUER P320 X-Carry, using a Comp-Tac OWB holster. I ordered one thousand rounds of Remington UMC 115gr FMJ ammunition from LAX Ammo and had it delivered directly to my hotel. The ammunition and the gun ran flawlessly; however, I did have a small hiccup with my X-Carry when some sand and dirt got in it from putting it on the ground to run the weak hand only shooting drills. The “Lightening Cut” in the top of the slide is certainly cool looking, but if you get any dirt inside the action, bank on it creating stoppages in the cycle of operation.

Additionally, I ran all the drills in the two-day course from concealment as did one or two other students who were from counties where the Sheriff will issue a California License to Carry.

Ken Range 1

(The photo above is courtesy of Aztec Training Services.)

Speaking of Aztec Training Services, Chen and Andrew did a great job as hosts. You may know that when Alias Training & Security Services “closed it’s doors” Aztec was formed almost overnight and they either represent or host some of the biggest names in the firearms training industry, e.g., Ken Hackathorn, Larry Vickers, Jeff Gonzales, Buck Doyle, Daryl Holland and Matt Graham. Quite frankly, I wouldn’t have been in this course without being able to speak with Ken at the NRA Annual Meetings, but Aztec Training Services played a significant role by always being there to answer questions for an out of town traveler like me. Check out their website and course schedule in the various links I have placed in this posting.

In summary, this course is all about building your skills as a combative shooter. If you apply yourself and take good notes you will take away a lot of information that you can use in your personal range training sessions when you get back home. Again I encourage you to get in Ken’s open enrollment course next year if you want to train with him before he fully retires from teaching.

 

Until next time …

As always, live life abundantly; train hard so you can fight easy!

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Photo Disclosure: Featured photo courtesy of Aztec Training Services.

Course Review: Dave Spaulding – Handgun Combatives – Vehicle Combatives Course; September 9th & 10th, 2017 – Coffeyville, Kansas.

On Friday, September 8th with Hurricane Irma bearing down on the Sunshine State I boarded a Southwest Airlines jet headed for Tulsa, Oklahoma by way of Houston, Texas and rented a vehicle to get to Coffeyville, Kansas for the course obviously not knowing what I would find when I got back home. Thank goodness for hurricane shutters and good friends because I fared well; however, many of my friends in the Fort Myers and Naples area were not so lucky.

When I arrived in Coffeyville I called the host, and let him know I was in town and to check dinner plans. He let me know that he was on his way to get Dave and to standby.

Let me tell you, Deputy Jones is an excellent host, he accepted my ammunition shipment and made everything easy for the students, some who came from as far away as Colorado, Texas, and both Leavenworth and Wichita, Kansas. With such a large course, he was an invaluable asset to Dave on Sunday afternoon running us through the scenarios from inside the vehicles.

He also gave me some great tips about touring the local area to learn about one of the greatest shootouts in American history. That is the shootout between some armed citizens, one law enforcement officer and the Dalton gang who rode into town on horseback to rob two banks at the same time in Coffeyville back on October 5th, 1892.

I cannot say enough good things about Deputy Jones, well-done sir!

The photo below is of the outside of the Dalton Defenders Museum in downtown Coffeyville, this building is literally steps from where the entire gunfight took place. I walked the areas where the twelve (12) minute gunfight happened. That’s right, I said twelve (12) minutes. I also toured the cemetery where two or three of the defenders and three of the Dalton gang members are buried. If you find yourself in Coffeyville, Kansas you should take in some of this history.

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The Defenders; Charles T. Connelly, Charles Brown, George B. Cubine, and Lucius M. Baldwin. These plaques are placed exactly where these brave men fell on October 5th, 1892, may they rest in peace.

The photo below is the grave site of Bob Dalton, Grat Dalton, and Bill Power in Elmwood Cemetery. For many years the only marker that these criminals had was the original hitching post that they tied their horses up to near the old jail in what is now known as Death Alley. By the way, as historians put it, that was their first mistake.

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It wasn’t until Emmett Dalton’s sentence was commuted by the Governor some fifteen years later that the headstone that you see now was placed. Emmett Dalton survived the gunfight with twenty-three (23) pieces of lead in him from the Defenders, he never fired a shot, but he was obviously an accessory to the robbery and murders of four brave men. After his release, Emmett went on to be a real estate investor and actor in California.

Former Deputy United States Marshal, Frank Dalton who was killed in the line of duty many years before is buried in the same cemetery, you can see the base of his headstone at the top of the photo. He is buried only 100 or so paces from his more famous brothers who were laid out in the jail for all the townspeople to see.

OK, let’s get to Handgun Combatives

“The Out of Towners” that came in for the course met Dave and our host for dinner on Friday night at a Mexican restaurant across the street from our hotels. Dave had us laughing and also captivated by his knowledge of the application and adaptation of skills in using the handgun to be an active participant in our own rescue. Make no mistake, Dave’s methodology follows the adult learning theorem and his program of instruction is time-tested by his thirty-five plus years’ experience as a sworn Law Enforcement Officer in Montgomery County, (Dayton) Ohio.

Yeah, Dave has been doing this stuff a while and when he speaks, it might be a wise idea to use those ears you have and listen intently.

Fair Warning, Dave does not sugar coat much of anything and that might mean he uses some colorful language in explaining the realities of gunfights, and how does he know this? Well, because he has actually been in a few gunfights and has interviewed 100’s of people who have prevailed in gunfights as well. I’d say that Dave Spaulding is about as solid a subject matter expert as you will find in the firearms training industry.

One thing he is not is a “YouTube/Live Leak Ninja” who breaks down gunfights on video sometimes from only one angle without ever interviewing any of the active participants. I’ll defer to the subject matter experts like Dave, before the YouTube/Live Leak Ninjas.

Showtime, TD1 started on Saturday morning bright and early inside a courtroom in the municipal building located in downtown Coffeyville. This building also houses the Police Department and other city offices. Dave started with a brief background on himself and the course curriculum along with an overview of his complete program of instruction including his foundational courses.

His opening statement was telling us that his job is to train students to read the situation and be adaptive to the problem, then solve that problem.

From the Handgun Combatives website:

“Our Objective: To prepare you for the most dangerous moments of your life!”

Dave also explained that this course was developed out of necessity for the sworn law enforcement officer working in and around vehicles as part of covert narcotics operations and that he has evolved the course curriculum to meet the ever-changing training needs of not only the sworn law enforcement officer but the responsibly armed citizen as well.

Let me back up a little, Dave also mentioned that this was a tactics-based course and yet still a foundational level course for those who had never trained in and around vehicles. When I tell you that this course could have easily been a week long I am not kidding.

Dave also emphasized that this is not a marksmanship development course, and those who are attending this course should already have some marksmanship fundamentals that are solidly anchored.

I took a total of six pages of notes, front and back during the little more than hour-long presentation and I can tell you that Dave is well prepared and very well spoken; however, as I said before, he does not sugar coat much of anything.

Dave then explained how tactics, techniques, and procedures developed for the sworn law enforcement officer translates to the responsibly armed citizen. He also presented statistics that showed the types of attacks commonly occurring today. These statistics include assaults, carjackings, and overall violence in and around vehicles. Before I took this course, I did not know that the first documented carjacking happened in Detroit back in the 1980’s, go figure, Detroit of all cities. I was under the incorrect impression that the first carjacking happened to a couple German tourists while they were leaving Miami International Airport in a rental car, now I know better.

The statistics that he presented and the subsequent conversation has done nothing but reinforced my commitment to regular training. By the way, I still have Ken Hackathorn on my schedule next month in Los Angeles, two closed LEO only courses that I have been invited to attend and one, possibly two Pat McNamara courses along with the Rangemaster Instructor Reunion Conference in Shawnee, Oklahoma, somewhere in there I also have one more course that I am trying to fit in as well.

Everything with Dave Spaulding is contextual and how it applies to life-threatening situations, but he is also very careful to say that everything in this arena is situational dependent, and thus nothing has a “one-size fits all” type solution. Dave explained and demonstrated and then we practiced skill-sets that are proven to work in these type of high-stress situations that may have life and death implications. By the way, this is teaching to the adult learning theorems of hear, see and do.

Dave is also very careful not to use words like “defensive” which he defines as “losing slowly.” The book he wrote and his company name, “Handgun Combatives” was born from the word “Combative” which Webster’s Dictionary defines as, “having or showing a willingness to fight.”

Unless you have a propensity to bury your head in the sand like an ostrich you know that violence exists in your everyday life and around every corner. Dave showed us a few videos of real incidents, one involving a sworn law enforcement officer and student of his that were outright attacks. Some criminals go willingly and some end up with a toe tag and in cold storage at the morgue waiting to be claimed.

What was reinforced to me through these videos was the fact that the society we live in today is full of threats of violence that most people are completely unaware of, mostly due to a lack of training in situational awareness. We must remember that these threats exist in and around our vehicles especially considering that we spend so much time inside them, be it commuting to and from work, taking vacations, business trips, or just running errands around the cities and towns we live in, we are more vulnerable to an attack in and around our vehicles than we think.

In case you didn’t know, the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) charts every act of violence in around the world; however, you and I will never see the data that they collect on these incidents because it is all “classified.” That to me is sad because they probably have the most extensive database of crimes committed on people and property in the world and that would be quite useful to all of us.

They, the CIA also developed a philosophy of “Avoid-Evade-Counter” for their operatives stationed around the world. Using that philosophy should one encounter a threat, the first option would be to avoid the threat. OK, that sounds simple enough; however sometimes we cannot avoid a dangerous situation so we must find a way to evade it, e.g., if someone is road-raging you, all you need to do to evade them is to make a series of four right-hand turns at your earliest opportunity. You will put yourself back on the road that you were traveling albeit quite a distance behind the person that was road-raging you. If you are on the highway, slow down and get off at the next exit. Simple enough to do, now make sure you go out a practice that the next time you are being road-raged by another driver.

Finally, you must be prepared to counter any attack on your life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Unfortunately, you can’t always get away from your attacker and thus if you are presented with a threat of violence by someone known or unknown to you that is when you need to decide to counter the threat with quick and decisive actions that get you into a position of advantage. Remember, the criminal does not give you a fair warning that he or she is about to attack you and cause a significant emotional experience in your life.

Here is where I remember the teachings of “Old Brother” Massad Ayoob, and Ayoob’s Law number #1: “Be able to predict where the attack will come, and have a proven counter-attack already in place and poised for launch.” – Massad Ayoob

Dave’s teachings reinforced a philosophy that I strongly believe in which is when you counter violence, you must take an aggressive approach and seek to win the fight immediately and not just survive. He also described mindset as the most essential of essentials, I agree 100%, every fight is fought in the mind.

Mindset is, “a previous decision based on reason and intellect, to take action.” – Dave Spaulding

We MUST prevail, and we MUST have the will to win at all costs, this is crucial because the alternative could be our loved ones planning our funeral.

Webster’s Dictionary defines these words as …

Prevail (Verb): To gain ascendancy through strength or superiority; triumph.

Survive (Verb): To remain alive or in existence; live on.

Question: What would you rather do, prevail or just survive?

Dave paid homage to “The Duke” showing him in his last role in the movie, “The Shootist.” (I always liked that movie) The quote from John Wayne’s character that Dave wanted us to embrace with both arms was this;

“It isn’t always being fast or even accurate that counts. It’s being willing. I found out early that most men, regardless of cause or need, aren’t willing. They blink an eye or draw a breath before they pull the trigger, I won’t. – Actor John Wayne in his last role as John Bernard Books in “The Shootist.”

We then dove into some of the more technical aspects of the course, namely unconventional shooting positions and problems associated with shooting into and out of a vehicle, not to mention and the fact that vehicles are not as safe as you might think from gunfire.

Remember, a vehicle is designed to protect you in case of an impact from another vehicle or a hardened object, not gunfire. Dave gave us an overview of the federal guidelines for vehicle safety to include a list of vehicles that have side windows that are rated as well as most windshields. I found this to be interesting information and something I needed to know.

We talked about engine blocks and how they may stop the incoming fire from a handgun, but you’ve got to get real low to be considered behind the engine block on most passenger cars and trucks. Obviously getting away from the vehicle and to better cover offers you an advantage.

 

When we transitioned to the range we started with the three-shot fade back drill from a ready position of our choice shooting a vertically placed 3×5 card starting at 3 yards and going back to 25 yards.

(FYI: The range in Coffeyville is so close to downtown that if people sat outside the McDonalds or Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant eating their meals they would be able to hear gunfire coming from the range. Only in Kansas…)

After each firing order was finished with the drill Dave evaluated the target with the student and then did some individual coaching, giving some tips for them to work on, see the photo below.

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After a short break, we got immersed into Dave’s “Arc of Ready” methodology with him explaining and demonstrating a variety of ready positions that use an arc, hence the name. Dave can explain the methodology a lot better than I can, so take a few minutes when you are finished reading this and click on the embedded video in the link above. You can also see some of this in the photos I have posted below.

Once again, this course is all about working in and around vehicles, thus the high-ready position (Far right photo above) has a substantial upside to it. We did discuss Position SUL and Traditional Guard or Low-Ready; however, those two ready positions are not ideal for vehicle tactics.

The benefits and risks associated with the “Tacticool” Temple Index were covered as well, and oddly enough nobody tried it except one guy from Wichita on TD2. This was immediately caught by Dave’s keen eye and he asked the student to explain why he would try something that he had not done before during the previous twelve (12) hours of course instruction.

Tacticool Temple Index has some context in use with Executive Protection as well as working inside a tight-knit team of operators who trust your muzzle and more importantly your trigger finger discipline; however, there are significant drawbacks to it like how it limits your field of view, and that’s kind of important don’t you think?

After a short break, we then practiced moving through ready positions with Dave coaching both firing orders through the dry-fire techniques and the live-fire exercises encouraging everyone to keep focused on the task at hand. We all heard these words routinely over the two-day course:

“OK Team, stay focused. Let’s make this one a good one!”

An example of Dave’s coaching: In the photo below he is coaching me on a proper “high-ready” position as initially I had my handgun too far away from my body and it was also little too high. Oh yeah, I was also improperly indexing my eyes just over my front sight; however, Dave never once said, “you’re doing it all wrong” he just said, let me help you and then briefly explained why his way is the proper position. (Photo courtesy of the course host)

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We then got in some live-fire work from the “high-ready” position and we were made to paste up our bad memories of any hits that were outside of the scoring lines on the Handgun Combatives Chest Cavity Target.

The “walk of shame” is never fun for anyone with misses, I was pressing the trigger well last weekend thanks to a little coaching from my friend Mike Green from Green Ops a few weeks ago.

Next, we worked on presentations from the holster. Dave believes that the presentation should be efficient and cause you to be no wider than the width of your body. There should be no wasted movement, why? Because added movement wastes time. This is a philosophy I agree with and also teach myself.

Here’s a thought without Dave having the benefit of being in his backyard on his deck or with a Crown Royal in his hand;

“It’s a really good idea to know what you are capable of before getting into a gunfight.” – Dave Spaulding

Personal Note: I was the only student to run the entire course of fire from a concealment holster. Granted there were fourteen sworn LEO’s in the course and they ran from their normal duty rigs, but none of the other five responsibly armed citizen students ran from concealment. I ran both my GLOCK 34 and GLOCK 19C from AIWB in a V-Development Group, Seraph holster. My ammunition choice was CCI/Speer Blazer Brass 124gr FMJ that I purchased from www.targetsportsusa.com

After lunch, we worked some more on presenting our handguns while standing with our hands at 10:00 & 2:00 like we had them placed on an imaginary steering wheel and then negotiating our handguns around that imaginary steering wheel and indexing them on the target.

We also did this while in a seated position in a folding chair facing the target and then we rotated the chairs 90° right and left to simulate shooting outside the passenger side and driver’s side window. There were a lot of dry-fire repetitions done in this block of instruction and that was to be expected because of the positions that we were in require extra safety precautions.

In the photo below you will see Dave holding a 1x2x8 target stake at or near steering wheel height to make sure students were clearing it properly while presenting their handgun to the target.

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After another short break, we then worked on some vehicle debussing techniques setting up the range with the chairs and barrels simulating the average length of a passenger vehicle. We did a lot of dry-fire work on this and then transitioned to live-fire for the rest of the day. See the photo below.

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Dave recognized when some of us were getting tired on TD1 as some students started launching shots at the target instead of placing them. When you are tired during training is the time when you must dig deep down inside and “gut check” yourself, making sure that you get those good repetitions in and placing your shots on target exactly where you need the hits. There are no second chances in a gunfight, and you should think that way while in training.

My TD1 round count was exactly 350 rounds.

On Saturday evening “the out of towners” had dinner with Dave and our host at Lanning’s Downtown Grille in Coffeyville. The meal was very good, our server was excellent, and the conversation was even better. Yes, there were a few Crown Royals sent the big guy’s way. Afterward, it was off to Walmart to get lunch and a few extra bottles of water for TD2.

OK on to TD2. It all started at the range on Sunday morning at 8:30 am sharp with an overview of what we accomplished on TD1. Afterward, we got right to the three-shot fade back drill, this time from the holster. Once again, Dave offered some individual coaching after each firing order finished and then we moved back into the chairs and worked some more on building the foundation of fundamentals that we would need later in the day when we got inside the vehicles.

He kept us working throughout the morning on the vehicle debussing drills that we had started on TD1 and we worked until Dave felt we were ready to move on to unconventional shooting positions.

Once we were at the level of competence Dave was looking for with the vehicle debussing drills, we took a break for lunch.

Afterward, Dave had us work through the unconventional shooting positions dry-fire over and over. They were all relatively easy to assume and move in and out of, I have done them before; however, my large frame body has a little trouble getting into the fetal position. My joints do not bend like they used to, this is where us old guys show the young “Flexible like Gumby” guys what they have to look forward to when they get in their 50’s. I believe that it might just be time to make a commitment to move from four Crossfit WOD’s per week to five or six.

Personal Note: Dave made mention many times about making sure that we get in our own vehicles with an unloaded gun or a training gun and work through these drills. He also mentioned that we need to be aware that when we rent a vehicle that we should not only spend the time to get the mirrors, seats and other creature comforts set to our liking, but we need to work the seat belts etc… Just so you know that when I travel my first consideration is to rent from a company who has Ford products, namely the Ford Escape in their rental fleet as that is my personal vehicle. As you may guess, I rented “my vehicle” in Tulsa and again on Monday in Atlanta to get home after Hurricane Irma.

Now, before we got in the vehicles Dave demonstrated shooting through windshield glass from inside the vehicle and how the bullet will react in those situations. I posted some videos on my Facebook page at Trigger Control Dot Org of me doing this and will do so on my Instagram account as well in the next couple days.

Dave also showed how a bullet will skip across the hood of a vehicle if shot at less than a 45° angle and how it will also skip under a vehicle when fired at a hard surface.

See this video below of Dave shooting through the windshield glass of a Ford Crown Victoria.

Additionally, during the course, I was given the opportunity to shoot through the rear passenger side window glass of a pickup truck that was covered with window tint. When I took my first shot I wasn’t expecting glass shards to penetrate my pant leg and lodge in my thigh; however, that is a small price to pay in the name of training.

Below is a photo of the window and my hits on the target, a little high from my point of aim, but that is to be expected shooting through auto glass.

 

I have a video of this to post on Trigger Control Dot Org just as soon as I edit out the expletive that I used when the glass shards penetrated my pant leg. By the way, you can clearly see the window tint peeled back from the muzzle blast of my GLOCK 19C, and also how my visibility was nearly lost when the window shattered.

We finished up the course with Dave’s signature 2x2x20 drill. (I’m taking creative liberty with the name to explain the drill to those who do not already know about it.) This drill is two rounds from the holster in two seconds from twenty feet on a vertically placed 3×5 card. Watch the embedded video linked above for an explanation from Dave as to the genesis of this drill.

For what it’s worth, nobody won the custom engraved Ares Belt Buckle and Belt this time, but there were a few close calls. Myself, well I screwed up the presentation by never getting a good grip on the gun, better luck next time for me. Oh, and there will be a next time, I already have my eye on the next two Handgun Combatives courses that I will attend in 2018.

Candidly, this is the sixth or seventh course that I have taken dealing with fighting in and around vehicles and I have learned something new each time because I keep my eyes and ears open and my notebook and pen at the ready.

It always amazes me to see all the folks who don’t take any notes at Gun School. I am the one with the notebook and pen out when not shooting and to be quite candid, I am still transcribing the notes I took last weekend right now even as I type this course review. Oh yeah, and my mind is still thinking of some contextual applications of the skills taught in this course. Ever the learner…

Because I had never trained with Dave before, I was able to learn some subtle nuances in teaching /coaching methodology that I see as invaluable to me as a full-time trainer and whenever possible during the course I would fill my magazines from the loose cartridges that I kept in my pockets, thus I was able to listen intently as Dave coached the second firing order through the drills that I had just completed.

Running up to get a bottle of water was the only break I took most of the time, call it a thirst for knowledge that keeps me training. As I said above, ever the learner. Sure, I took breaks to get out of the sun, (It was a little toasty in Kansas, Toto) but not each and every time in between drills because I felt that this was too good a course to miss anything.

In summary: The program of instruction was easy to follow and Dave gave all twenty of us a lot of repetitions both using dry-fire techniques and then on through the live-fire exercises. Mr. Spaulding is a very skilled coach and he uses his skills to get students through the fundamentals to build a solid foundation of these essential skills for the student to take home and then master to a level of automaticity that will anchor the skill. This will only happen if the student has a commitment and more importantly, the self-discipline to diligently practice them. Sadly, most do not keep their skills sharp, and it is a reoccurring theme when I talk to my students and ask what they have done in between the courses they take with me and others.

So, I ask you, what good is training if you do not go out and apply it by practicing what you learned after you get home from Gun School? As I say on a regular basis to both my students and instructor candidates, education without implementation is worthless.

My two-day total round count was just under the six hundred (600) rounds advertised, the dry-fire made up for any shortcoming. I assure you that all twenty of us got the repetitions we came for in this course.

To find out more about Dave’s program of instruction and his schedule of courses visit the Handgun Combatives website or follow Handgun Combatives on Facebook by clicking here.

 

Until next time …

As always, live life abundantly; train hard so you can fight easy!

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There is no escaping the Gun Pretenders, Trolls and of course, the self proclaimed Subject Matter Experts on the interwebz.

This could be a first, blog entries on back-to-back days, what is the world coming to?

So, let’s define a few things first. “Gun Pretender” = A self-proclaimed expert in firearms and self-defense training who most often doesn’t even carry a gun for self-defense, could be male or female. “Troll” = A sub-human being who likes to interject their self-proclaimed superior knowledge into conversations to which they know little to nothing about, could be male or female, most often are of the male gender. “Subject Matter Expert” = That individual (Male or Female) who exhibits the highest level of expertise in performing a specialized job, task, or skill and can teach it to a high degree of professionalism.

Over the past few years I have been both trolled and ridiculed for the training methodology I have (I train to the adult learning theorems) by some of the “Facebook Instructors” who are now “Instagram Instructors” and claim to be top notch with their superior intellect, and mediocre at best skill sets. Just ask these “keyboard operators” who claim to be subject matter experts, and they will tell you just exactly how superior they are to you.

Yesterday evening as I was reading comments that amounted to nothing more than an “appendage measuring” contest between two male NRA Certified Firearms Instructors on Facebook, I realized that one of these men who has been a complete “Richard” (That’s long hand for Dick) toward me for years has less total training in Non-NRA course curriculum time than I will take this year alone in student level courses, yet he professes in his postings and more importantly in his verbose comments to be superior to everyone on all things self-defense and firearms training related.

So I ask, how many hours of professional training, coupled with experience in teaching curriculum, writing curriculum and more importantly evolving curriculum to meet the ever changing needs of your students and instructor candidates would you consider to be enough for someone to announce themselves as a Subject Matter Expert?

Personally speaking, and I am nobody special, my experience in training is at just over 2,500 hours of professional firearms and self-defense disciplines that I can document dating back to 1982, and I am adding well over 300 hours this year alone, mostly as a student. See my recent blog posting titled, “My 2017-2018 Personal Training Calendar.”

https://triggercontroldotorg.wordpress.com/2017/08/10/my-2017-2018-personal-training-calendar

Even with all that training behind and in front of me, I don’t consider myself a Subject Matter Expert on any discipline. Let me repeat that, I don’t consider myself a Subject Matter Expert on any discipline. Heck, I tell one of my mentors jokingly from time to time that I am but the learner, and he is the master. (Yes, I felt it appropriate to make a gratuitous Obi-Wan Kenobi/Anakin Skywalker-Darth Vader reference)

My point is simple, even with all of my training, and being a full-time firearms instructor for the past eight (8) years only taking a little time off from January 2012 to April 2013 I find myself still learning each and every day. I am far from perfect and make many mistakes, but I don’t make the same ones twice, that is the definition of being a “learner” or learning.

Additionally, there is not a day that goes by that I do not work on my skills or methodology, my coaching techniques or the way I work the trigger. (Yes, I get in dry-fire practice daily, my goal is to do dry-fire practice every day for the rest of my life) So, if I don’t consider myself a Subject Matter Expert in any discipline, how can someone who has less than 300 hours of formal training (Outside the auspices of the NRA’s course catalog) claim to be such an expert on all things self-defense and firearms?

Here is the easy answer for you, this is the internet and if it is on the internet it must be true, right? Wrong! Just remember, “you are not what you say you are, you are what you do or don’t do.” – This is a quote from a close friend of mine.

When I tell you the trolling in these Facebook groups is incessant you wouldn’t believe how much. The boys should be wearing rompers, if you grew up in the 1960’s and 70’s rompers were a thing back then, oh wait … never mind.

Now I’m not complaining, heck I will just block someone if he or she gets to be too much of an idiot if you will. Recently, I unblocked a couple people because I had heard they liked to talk all tough behind my back, what I found out is one had me blocked and he is just a garden variety idiot, no loss there. Regardless, who has time for their BS? I sure don’t, I’m too busy teaching and or preparing to teach or travel to another course.

If asked, the best advice I can give to these Gun Pretenders, Trolls and self-proclaimed SME’s is to stay in your lane. Brannon LeBoeuf from NOLATAC Firearms Training said it well in this video ironically titled, “Staying in your lane as an Instructor.” I encourage you to give it a look, it is only a little over eight (8) minutes long and it would be very beneficial to the new or the old instructor who thinks he or she has all the answers for their students.

Back to the resident Gun Pretenders and Trolls, here is the funny thing about them. Once I started telling people publicly of the training schedule that I am keeping this year and posting proof positive that I was where I said I was going to be, taking the courses that I said I was going to take and training with whom I said that I would be training with, the trolling has nearly stopped, not totally, but we’ll just say, it has slowed down considerably.

Why do you think that is? I believe one reason has to be that I am spending $15-$16K out of my company assets on training this year alone. Traveling to eleven (11) different states including taking classes in my home state of Florida and traveling to Georgia (3 times), Wisconsin (Twice), New Hampshire (Twice), Virginia, Kansas, Illinois, California, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Ohio, and South Carolina. It takes some serious money to travel on a plane, rent cars and hotel rooms for up to a week at a time, not to mention buying ammunition for all these courses. Let’s face it, $15-$16K is more than many of these “keyboard operators” who operate operationally on Facebook and Instagram have made in their lifetime of instructing.

Does that kind of income make me a Subject Matter Expert? Not in the least, but what it does do, it shows clearly that I am willing to invest in my professional development and bring back quality training to my students and instructor candidates.

So, I ask you, is a person with less than 300 total hours (Let’s bump that to 500 for the sake of argument) of formal instruction under their belt a Subject Matter Expert any more than a guy with over 2,500 hours of formal instruction who is taking more than 300 hours of formal instruction this year alone? Nope, there is no comparison between the two, there may be a slight difference of experience, one having trained with different instructors, but that’s about it.

I’ll leave you with one last nugget of information that you should consider. Dr. David Yamane, a Professor of Sociology at Wake Forest University has compiled some interesting information (I believe that he is writing a book) on the “civilian” firearms instructor and you should read it, all of it. You can find links to his blog postings here on a landing page that he has created and that I have linked below. You can also follow Dr. Yamane’s blog here Gun Culture 2.0.

The link here is the landing page for Dr. Yamane’s series of posts on the private citizen (or civilian) gun training industry (or community)

Trust that if you take the time to read all of these blog postings, and I suggest you do that from the bottom to the top, you will find them to be very enlightening and maybe even a bit educational.

“The mind is like a parachute, it works best when it is open.” – Clint Smith

 

Until next time …

As always, live life abundantly; train hard so you can fight easy!