Patterning your Shotgun for Professional/Duty and or Home or Self-Defense use.

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.

 

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.

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!