The Great Teacher Inspires


Some Years Ago at the American Society of Law Enforcement Trainers Conference in Idaho. Vince in the middle.

“The mediocre teacher tells.  The good teacher explains.  The superior teacher demonstrates.  The great teacher inspires.”  -William Arthur Ward

Vince O’Neill is one of the premier law enforcement instructors in the country.  He has trained cops in firearms and defensive tactics for over 30 years in every state of the union and 29 countries.  O’Neill has been the lead instructor in both of these disciplines for Oklahoma’s Council on Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers.  Listing Vince’s training and qualifications would require a separate article in itself.  He is qualified as an expert witness on uses of force in state and federal court.  He is a former state PPC champion, NRA High Master, NRA 1490 Combat Club member as well as many international instructional certifications in firearms and less lethal applications.  His copious training, impressive wealth of real world experience and teaching prowess give him the ability to effectively relate information to students in a way that few others can. Continue reading

Traditional Double Action Experience – Beretta 92G


    Beretta/Wilson Combat 92G Brigadier Tactical and Shootist Tactical OWB.

I have long since been intrigued by the Beretta 92 family of pistols. The Elite series was a significant step in the right direction for the 92 but just not enough to sway me from Combat Tupperware and wheelguns.  Last year’s release of the Beretta/Wilson Combat collaboration 92G Brigadier Tactical (Brig Tac) pushed me over the edge.

Now I’ve heard many people talk about traditional double action pistols but had very little experience shooting them.  The DA/SA transition is made out to be the Boogie Man.  It was time to learn how to run one of the most popular pistols of all time. Continue reading

The “21 Foot Rule”


I try not to allow sarcasm into my writings.  I will try not to today, but can make no promises.  Sometimes, you read things that are just so dumb, the sarcasm writes itself.

Recently, I have read some writings from police administrators, police trainers, and musings in the media in reference to the “21 Foot Rule”.  To put everyone in the readership on a level playing field in our readership, this “21 Foot Rule” is what most of us also know as the Tueller Drill.  In the early 1980’s, Sgt Dennis Tueller conducted studies involving how quickly a subject armed with a knife could cover a given distance, before an officer could react, draw and fire effectively at the knife wielding attacker.

Now, I have been exposed to this drill for most of my career.  The crux of what I carried from it was an attacker can cover that 21 foot pretty quickly, so when dealing with non-compliant suspects, it is wise to have the gun in your hand, and a plan in your head. Continue reading

Rangemaster Instructor Development



A .38 caliber hole fired by Tom Givens from a revolver held upside down in a demonstration.

     “Evil is real,” he said somberly, and he would know.  With decades of law enforcement experience in the Memphis area, specialized security work and dedicated research on the topic of armed self-defense, Tom Givens does know.  He’s an exceptionally experienced firearms instructor, author, competitor and student.  He is a longtime member of the American Society of Law Enforcement Trainers, the National Law Enforcement Trainers Association, the International Wound Ballistics Association and the International Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors.  As IDPA member number A00008, Tom was there during the creation of that organization and was among the first members of The Police Marksman Association.  Givens has investigated a staggering number of shootings over the last four decades, including dozens involving his own students.  With that knowledge and experience, Tom has served as an expert witness on firearms and police training on the state and federal level.  Tom has authored four books including his most recent, Fighting Smarter.  He and his wife, Lynn own Rangemaster Firearms Training Services.  In the firearms training community, Tom is nothing less than a legend.  Lynn is quite the shooter and instructor in her own right.  Each year, Rangemaster hosts The Tactical Conference.  That event culminates in a realistic shooting competition.  Lynn placed third in the 2015 match against some heavy hitters.  Underneath her kind, unassuming exterior is the blue twisted steel of a gunfighter.  I jumped at the opportunity to attend their three day Firearms Instructor Development class. Here are my thoughts.

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Operation Specific Training: Practical Fundamentals

6    “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

Too Much Gun Pointing?


[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

2016: Time to Step It Up


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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 SIRT 107 M&P Model Has Arrived

The long awaited M&P model SIRT, dubbed the 107, has finally arrived and brings along with it a host of design upgrades.

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.

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Influences (Folks From Whom I’ve Learned)

Ernest Langdon

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

A Fracture Well Cured: Coming Back from Injury


Shooting skills are diminished by injury. How do we get them back?

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

The Movie Theater Active Shooter Equation

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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

The Modern Firearms Instructor: Can We Do Better?


FIreams instructors have a golden opportunity when teaching concealed carry classes.

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

REVIEW: Prime .260 rem Precision Rifle Ammunition

Prime Ammo may be new to the game but the ammunition inside the box is from a well known company.

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).

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     “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.

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