“You need a maximum strength prescription of ‘slow…down’. Speed comes later,” he said in that western Kentucky accent that almost forces a sense of calm. It was obvious this would be a different kind of class. Operation Specific Training offers a process-oriented curriculum as opposed to a goal-oriented curriculum. I would come to know what that meant over the next two days.
I had Internet-known Jerry Jones, the President of Operation Specific Training, for several years at that point. (Editor’s Note: We are proud to have Jerry here as a regular contributor here at Modern Service Weapons.) We had corresponded regularly on a forum and via email, but had never met in person. I’d always found him to be exceptionally knowledgeable and truly interested in the education of others. He’s notorious for going to great lengths to answer questions and provide assistance to perfect strangers online. During an email exchange, I told Jerry I was having trouble with some fundamentals after surgery. I don’t know if Jerry felt sorry for me or was just tired of reading my polysyllabic swearing, but he invited me to his Practical Fundamentals class in Paducah, KY. It seemed like a perfect opportunity to regain some skill and maybe a little swagger. Continue reading
[Photo Credit: Alan Diaz, Pulitzer winner, for the AP (2000)]
Merriam-Webster (online): “at gunpoint – under a threat of death by being shot.”
Executive Summary: Why are guns pointed at people? On occasion, to shoot them. More often, to compel compliance with the gun pointer’s command (to cease unlawful or threatening activity and/or to initiate directed activity). Gunpoint command/compliance as a “technique” or “tactic” is frequently unsuitable, as a failure to comply (mere flight included) ought not be responded to with the use of deadly force. [Because the MAY and SHOULD (elements of my deadly force paradigm — see related links below) are not satisfied]. For LEOs sued for “excessive force,” the propriety of gun-pointing will increasingly be a jury question. For the non-sworn, gun-pointing is strongly disfavored even when lawful, as it requires significant training, skill, and discipline..
Recent incidents of gun-pointing revived one of my long-held (about 15 years) firearm related observations: Guns are pointed at people way more than they need to or should be pointed — by LEOs and the non-sworn. (For a related MSW post, click: “CONSIDERATIONS FOR THE NON-SWORN : HOLDING SOMEONE AT GUNPOINT.” I touched on the subject for LEOs as well, click: “THREATENING DEADLY FORCE : MUSINGS ON “BRANDISHING” AND “WARNING” SHOTS.” For my thoughts on gun fighting and shooting people (who need to be shot), click: “A SHORT ESSAY : WINNING IS EVERYTHING . . . AND THE ONLY THING,” and “MAY/MUST QUESTIONS ANSWERED CORRECTLY. . .SHOOT FIRST, LIVE”). Continue reading
Putting in some training at home with Next Level Training’s SIRT 110.
“I don’t get to the range as often as I’d like,” I hear that a lot these days. Sometimes it’s an honest statement, sometimes it’s an excuse for errors made during qualification courses. If you carry a weapon in any capacity, you owe it to yourself to be proficient. Proficiency can’t be measured with, “good enough to pass quals”. Most basic weapons training is what the title states, “basic”, that includes police academies and basic military training. If you are content with that title, you will never advance in weapons training. Those of us who have attended additional courses should encourage others to do so.
Today we are fortunate to have a lot of very good instructors to choose from; we certainly don’t have a shortage of them. Do your homework and take outside training. During the course of instruction take notes, if you are able to record the class on video even better. Be sure to check with the instructor staff ahead of time to see if video will be permitted. You can reference the material and practice in the convenience of your garage to reinforce what you have learned. Continue reading
The long awaited M&P model SIRT, dubbed the 107, has finally arrived and brings along with it a host of design upgrades.
Readers of MSW know that we are big proponents of SIRT training pistol, developed by Next Level Training, for a variety of reasons. Primarily, it allows for a high volume of training, removing many barriers to entry, and removes the possibility of introducing live ammunition into your pistol when performing dry practice. In addition, when integrated into live fire training at the range, it can bring out and correct trigger control issues in an incredibly efficient manner. Up until now, the SIRT 110 model (Glock format) was the only format available. While shooting is 99% sights and trigger, and regardless of the external shape of the tool, the skills developed by the 110 will translate over to any format pistol, there was a continued demand for other common service pistol formats. After clearing more than a couple production and design hurdles, Next Level Training has finally released the SIRT 107: the M&P Model.
Ernest Langdon is the man when it comes to mastering mechanical skills that can be applied in the real world.
As we venture into 2016, I thought it might be fitting to give credit to where credit is due. The list is not inclusive, but gives the nod to those who put my shooting, and by extension teaching, where it is today.
A lot of guys in the shooting industry tend to make things about who they are, what they do for a living, or perhaps have done for a living the first and foremost in their resume. That is not necessarily a bad thing. It lends some credibility that they know what they are talking about in their particular field of subject matter. The firearms industry is one of those industries that the old adage “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach” doesn’t hold water. Continue reading
Shooting skills are diminished by injury. How do we get them back?
A score of eighty-eight percent on our state’s generous law enforcement qualification course is not acceptable in my book. It had been my first attempt that year just over three months out of my second surgery. I can hardly remember a time when I didn’t shoot a perfect or near perfect score on a qualification round. In a nine-month period, I’d had Ulnar nerve surgery on my left elbow and triple surgery on my right shoulder. It’s hard to say which is more responsible for the lengthy recovery time: the injuries and subsequent surgeries themselves or the years of procrastination. Either way, my days of being useful as a real cop were seemingly over.
Physical atrophy is to be expected after a joint surgery (and even in my prime, I was more slight than might), but the real problem for me was the subsequent emotional atrophy. I was under doctor’s orders not to do even a single push-up for at least a year. That meant an automatic failure of the SWAT team’s mandatory P.T. test. I was a team leader and was forced to resign several years before I had planned. At about the same time, I was removed from my primary position as a shift commander and put in an administrative/supervisory role over non-sworn personnel. The cumulative effects of these life changes were devastating beyond physicality. Continue reading
Active Shooters in Movie Theaters
As we tune in to the news on just about any given week, we see more and more copycat “active” shooters in movie theaters in the United States. This unfortunately is the new norm. Because this is the new norm, our tactics are going to have to shift to combat these cowardly acts of seemingly random murder.
In examining the events of past theater shootings, the only constant variable is they occur in the darkness of a movie theater, aside from the constant that the shooter is mentally ill.. The scenarios have presented different targets, different responses by victims, and different guns involved used by the shooters. The shooters have sat in different parts of the the theater, struck at different times in the movies. Based upon that, our tactics must be fluid. Continue reading
Firearms instructors have a golden opportunity when teaching concealed carry classes to encourage their students to seek further training.
It seems everyone is a firearms instructor these days, me included. As the interest in firearms ownership and concealed carry grow, so must the instructor base. We are law enforcement, military and private sector firearms enthusiasts who want to share our knowledge and help others. Most firearms instructors only teach their state’s concealed carry course or other “basic” classes and I’m certain the majority of us do a respectable job with the short amount of time we are allotted. Still, can we do better? I believe there are two areas where many firearms instructors just plain fail.
The majority of new shooters or at least new students only attend their first class because their respective states require it to attain a handgun carry license. I would dare say many of them are certain that this rudimentary training is more than adequate. That’s not their fault. That’s our fault as instructors. An eight-hour, state-mandated safety class is in no way sufficient and that is a point where I feel many instructors fail. We should be encouraging our students to seek further training on their own after completion of that class. Granted, it can be difficult for your average person to overcome their fears and finances to attend even a basic eight-hour class. How do we convince those folks to attend intermediate and advanced training? It all starts with that concealed carry class. Continue reading
Prime Ammo may be new to the game but the ammunition inside the box is from a well known company.
The biggest hassle with precision shooting is reloading to try to keep cost down with quality and accuracy of ammunition up. Now that is my opinion, while I find reloading calming and almost therapeutic at times, finding the time to do it between a strenuous job schedule and a family doesn’t allow for much time to be behind the reloading press. If you look to factory ammunition your choices tend to be limited with many popular precision rifle calibers just not being offered regularly without having to spend quite a sum having someone else load it for you. During a range day with some friends I was introduced to one of the people behind PRIME Ammunition. Their representative had some questions about calibers I would like to see more of in the factory ammunition market, bullet weights I preferred, my thoughts on the industry and ammunition market and its problems in general. Haven’t had many conversations with people behind the scenes of a large ammunition retailer who has cared as much about what the shooters wanted as the people at Prime. Continue reading
I now offer for your consideration a “final” installment on my paradigm for the use of deadly force. The posts directly-related, in chronological order, are HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE .
As previously defined, the MUST: If deadly force is not employed, you or someone you cannot live without will likely die. Add, if you wish — the MAY permits, and the SHOULD will normally compel — or suffer great/serious bodily injury/harm. Sprinkle with the required dose of reasonable certainty that deadly force is necessary (something way north of even odds, as the use of deadly force invokes the decision process reserved to life’s most important questions) and imminence (usually meaning within a few seconds, but I often note how the certainty of suffering deadly force, might make much longer intervals considered imminent), and slip on the halo of the non-culpable, reasonable man acting in good faith. (LEOs: I may write a post on your MUST at a later date).
“If your head tells you one thing, and your heart tells you another, before you do anything, you should first decide whether you have a better head or a better heart.” Marilyn Vos Savant
I framed the SHOULD element of my deadly force paradigm as — do you employ deadly force and risk everything you are/have and will ever be/have. It often presents as whether you should come to the aid of another person. As suggested in my prior paradigm posts, the SHOULD analysis likely goes to the “core of your being.” So, don’t expect the answer from another (including me (HERE) ). Moreover, your answer will be part of a complex split-second decision you will likely make alone. Thus, it behooves you to give it serious thought and make the necessary analyses ahead-of-time. (If you’re an LEO, you have agency requirements and training imperatives — and case law trends — to factor in as well). The key is mental preparation. Before the event, you have one or more “plans” — if this particular balloon goes up, I disengage/leave/summon help, or I respond with X, Y, and/or Z.
Let’s revisit the MAY element in detail, as I promised in a recent MSW post on my use of deadly force paradigm. (HERE)
MAY: The inquiry — whether the use of deadly force is within the law. (We live in political correctness infected and curious Rule of Law interpretation times; so, that inquiry is to be distinguished from the distinct and less easily answered — can/will I be charged with a crime). In earlier posts I urged the importance of knowing “the law” beforehand, what sources to study, and to be mindful of “trends” (the inclinations of prosecutors, juries, and judges . . . good luck with that) in the law of justified deadly force. Here’s sources, in my (but not necessary the only) order of research, usually available free — online or in every law school library:
- Current year state statutes (caveat, even unambiguous statutes can be subjected to surprising judicial interpretation these days)
- Jury instructions (often termed “pattern” or “standard,” possibly officially promulgated by state highest court, required or suggested in criminal cases and all trials, not always consistent with or limited to language of related statute)
- Appellate case law (including opinions of the court over your locale’s trial court, the state’s other intermediary appellate courts, and the state’s highest court for criminal appeals)
- Local prosecutor’s memoranda on use of deadly force by LEOs and nonsworn in cases not prosecuted
- Federal case law commentary on state statute or common law use of force principles, or on Constitutional rights bearing on state criminal proceedings
- State law legislative history and enactment commentary (may or may not exist)
- Other state(s) interpretation(s) (highest state court opinions) of similarly worded statutes
The Burner…I’m not talking about the little Bunsen burner we used many eons ago in Chemistry class (gen Xrs and up) but the guy named Jerry Barnhart who burns down stages and is one of the most winning competitive shooters out there. I had the pleasure of training with Jerry recently for a 2 day Tactical Pistol course. Now before the inter webs go a blazing on “competition will get you killed!” and such, please direct your anger to my four part series here at MSW and see why I don’t agree with that fallacy.
Anyway, bottom line, shooting is shooting. Period. The competition or tactical drills that follow are secondary if you can’t make the shot. This includes: shooting for accuracy, shooting on the move, head shots, 50 yard shots, etc. So, can it with the “yee gads, that there is foolish training” talk and learn how to shoot under pressure and maybe we can have a coffee. But I digress… Continue reading
Here’s an easier way to disengage the Beretta 92FS safety, thanks to Ernest Langdon. I’ve been doing it a much harder way all these years.
A couple months ago, I attended Ernest Langdon’s Advanced Tactical Pistol Skills class. It was a good reminder that this thing called “practice” is required to maintain the proficiency at which I have become accustomed to performing. Suffice it to say, I had an eye opener. Last week, Ernest came back to do another class and I was one of the first in line to attend. Among the many little nuggets of information I picked up over the past two classes, one that particularly stood out was the safety manipulation on the Beretta 92FS. While I haven’t had a ton of time on the pistol, I had shot it a little since it is the standard issue pistol at work. I had always deactivated the safety (should it be inadvertently engaged or during de-cock process) by flicking it in an upward arc motion with my thumb. Of course, this compromised my grip and was not a particularly efficient or comfortable movement. During class, Ernest mentioned the proper way to deactivate the safety, which is simply to swipe the lever in a downward arcing movement with the strong thumb and the lever will snap up into fire position. Maybe I had been living in a cave for all these years, but this was new to me, so I am sharing it with all of you.
In the meantime, consider training with Ernest at any of his upcoming courses. You’ll have a great time and learn a ton.
SOURCE: Langdon Tactical
In a 2012 year-end post, I offered a decision paradigm on the use of deadly force. (HERE). The paradigm consisted of four elements — usually considered ad seriatim. My paradigm remains a work-in-progress. I write now to restate it in a stand alone post, and to add some broad thoughts on the elements. (I expect to tackle the elements in more depth in future posts).
Deadly Force Paradigm
CAN – do I possess (to a reasonable certainty) the necessary equipment, skills, and mindset to accomplish the task (i.e., WIN)? This element should be addressed objectively, long before the moment-of-decision presents. Common sense in “equipment” selection, and repeated training and practice are essential. Being physically fit is definitely part of this element. (HERE). Have you done all you can to be truly prepared to respond in a deadly force encounter? By the way, which is paramount — equipment, skill, or mindset? Always? Continue reading