THE DEADLY FORCE PARADIGM REVISITED: CAN – MAY – SHOULD – MUST

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

Your Next Weapon Mod: FITNESS

I’ll bet you don’t see this at your next carbine course.

An observation of mine in recent months looking at pictures of people online attending competitions, shooting courses, training events etc is the there is a huge variety of fitness levels represented in our sport. I use the word “sport” lightly as obviously that means something different to different people. This would seem as an obvious observation but then again lets take a few steps back. I grew up playing traditional sports such as baseball and football, where fitness is a direct contributor to you ability on the field. I then carried on into college and again to play sports we had strength coaches and trainers focused on keeping us conditioned enough to compete at a high level. I have no experience with professional sports but I would take an educated guess to say that it only becomes more important at that level as well. Continue reading

How to Draw From a Safariland SLS Holster

The Safariland 6004 is likely the most popular holster for modern law enforcement professionals.

With the prevalence of the Safariland 6004/6280 duty holster in modern law enforcement applications, it still shocks me that there are so many LE folks that still draw from an SLS equipped holster in the most inefficient manner. The Self Locking System (SLS) is the commonly seen rotating hood system that largely eliminated traditional snap holsters in modern holster systems. Technically classified as a Level II retention system (meaning it requires two actions to defeat the retention device), the SLS has pretty good security and can be disengaged with a single motion. Unfortunately, I still commonly see officers whåo draw from an SLS using two or more motions to disengage the hood before ever lifting the gun out of the holster. Continue reading

Langdon Tactical Technologies: Advanced Pistol Skils

Ernest Langdon demonstrates the nuances of the emergency reload.

One of the things about the shooting community is that it is small, and anyone who has been in the industry for any period of time knows each other. I have had the pleasure of knowing Ernest Langdon for over a decade, and have always found him to be a genuine, down-to-earth, personable guy who just happens to have top shelf shooting skills. Sadly, I  never had the opportunity to get on the range with him. So when a buddy invited me to sign up for Ernest’s Advanced Pistol Skills course that he was hosting for a private group of local LE guys, I jumped on it.

Unlike the “typical” competitive shooting champ, Ernest also has quite a bit of experience with which to frame the mechanical skills he’s developed over the years. In addition to winning more titles than I can count (without taking my shoes off), Ernest has a significant background including serving in various capacities in the Marine Corps as a Sniper School instructor and the HRP course. Ernest is the founder of LTT (Langdon Tactical Technologies) and is the guru when it comes to the Beretta 92/M9 platform. I was lucky enough to have him tune up a trigger on my personal 92FS years back and it is one of the smoothest triggers I’ve ever felt on a 92. (Thanks to his partnership with Wilson Combat, you can now have a similar trigger on yours as they do custom work on Beretta 92s now.) Continue reading

BODY ARMOR AND BALLISTIC RATED MATERIALS : FOR THE NON-SWORN?

                                             

Body armor and ballistic rated panels (for use in packs, briefcases, or other off-body use) are described best by the well-known Kafkaesque adage:  It is better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.  I don’t mock the “tacticool” nature of body armor, and I avoid debating the SWAT or military “wannabe” aspects of owning it. (I readily acknowledge you are not alone if you do). I think armored materials are something worthy of consideration for anyone who frequents gunfighting classes, shoots regularly, or because of employment or other lifestyle particulars, has concerns of going where negligent friendlies or armed hostiles might be present.  The days of body armor being only for LEOs passed (somewhat quietly) years ago.

Executive Summary:  Let’s default to my deadly force paradigm:  If you CAN afford it, and CAN do what you need to do when it is deployed (adequately conceal it, run and move effectively, maybe in confined space, and shoot, with additional bulky kit, maybe 18 pounds worth), go for it.  If you acquire it, study up on and observe the manufacturer’s storage and care specs for the particular product.  Unless a specific federal, state, or local law prohibits the ownership of such products, the non-sworn MAY own/wear body armor and ballistic-rated materials.  SHOULD you buy such products?  That is for you the reader to answer, as is how/when to use it.  If you buy, buy the best-tested you can afford which is convenient to deploy, fits properly, and can be stored and maintained to suit your lifestyle. Expect some ribbing from “friends.”  How about the MUST?  It is beyond question the products save lives.  Yours and/or the life of someone you “cannot live without,” regardless of who is slinging shots. At the very least, overt soft armor and plate carriers provide convenient, user-friendly platforms to attach identifying patches, pouches, and other “things.”  And plates do provide a good weight-bearing workout. Continue reading

ELBOW ISSUES FOR SHOOTERS, PART 3: TOOLS

Voodoo Floss bands and lacrosse balls for mobility self therapy

Before I launch into the final installment of elbow issues for shooters, I’d like to offer my sincere thanks to all those emailed and posted with suggestions for healing and their well wishes. I apologize for not being able to respond to all of the posts and emails, but I definitely take note of all of the advice which has been offered. This last article (for now, anyway) will go over some of the tools which I use to assist in self therapy.

The first important piece of kit for elbow pain management is a simple neoprene sleeve such as the one seen in the pic from the last article. A neoprene wrap does not inhibit mobility and helps keep the joint compressed and warm during activity. I typically wear one when I am shooting or handling firearms for any period of time. I have had better luck with this type of wrap than those pressure pad style bands which wrap around the forearm and stick a small gel pad on a theoretical problem spot on the arm. I have seen this work for some buddies, but the gel pad only provides a localized effect and does not help the rest of the joint. I found mine a waste of time and ended up throwing it away.

The next item has been an absolute game changer, and I must thank my long time friend Jeff Gonzales from Trident Concepts for turning me on to Voodoo Floss. I have included several links below for resources from Dr. Kelly Starrett, who is a key proponent of the Voodoo Floss bands. These elastic rubber bands are used to wrap and compress the problem joint. After wrapping, work the joint through the full range of motion, then remove the band. The combination of wrapping/compression, movement, and the rush of blood flow to the joint area has a restorative effect on range of movement and function. I had gotten to a plateau using just the strength development regimen from the previous article, and actually seemed to be regressing a bit when I attempted to PT hard in conjunction with the strength exercises. Adding in a daily pre-workout regimen with the Voodoo Floss, which I am able to do alone in about 5 minutes, has boosted my joint function and reduced the pain significantly. While I am not pain free, I can say with certainty that Voodoo Floss alone has done more for my elbow issues than all of other other modalities combined.

In addition to the Voodoo Floss, my daily joint therapy kit includes a pair of lacrosse balls. After flossing, I lay one ball on the ground, put my forearm on it, then press the other ball directly over the first ball, basically sandwiching the tight area of my forearm between the two lacrosse balls. This has been a very effective way to massage the forearms, and gets deeper than the foam roller I previously used.

ArmAid with optional orange massage ball installed.

A local LEO whom I’d met a several classes turned me onto the final secret weapon in my elbow therapy arsenal, the ArmAid. This nutcracker looking device allows you to stick your arm through the center of it and use your other hand to close the arms and provide pressure for massaging your forearm. It allows attachment of various rollers, and I use the orange deep tissue roller ball which provides good results. I use this device to provide additional relief after workouts or other elbow aggravating activity.

As caveated before, I am not a physical therapist, but I have been down this long road and hope that sharing my pain will help readers get a better handle on theirs. I have often been asked what I might have done differently to prevent all of the problems that I have now. I would suggest adding strengthening and mobility work into your training regimen in order to improve and prolong your time behind the gun or in the gym. Your elbows will thank you!

 

Links:

Youtube: Dr. Kelly Starrett explaining Voodoo Floss

Voodoo Floss at Rogue Fitness, with Youtube link to Kelly Starrett fixing a sore elbow

ArmAid

 

Elbow Issues for Shooters, Part 2: Exercises and Resources

Neoprene elbow brace in action during a Mac class last year.

In my last article, I outlined a bit about my battle with the issue of elbow tendonitis. I will again caveat that I am not a medical professional nor do I play one on TV, and am only sharing my own personal experiences. During the last several years I had tried just about everything for my elbows - cortisone, physical therapy to include eccentric exercises, massage, ice, ultrasound, stretching, traditional strength building exercises, fascial scraping (Graston), and rest. The only common modality I had not tried was acupuncture, only because none of my health practitioners referred me to it. All of the attempted treatments worked acceptably until it came time to do those extreme activities such as opening or closing my hands and bending or extending my arms. As long as I avoided those movements, my elbows felt ok. Continue reading

Elbow Issues for Shooters, Part 1: The Problem

Receiving ultrasound therapy.

Readers of this blog have likely seen my references to chronic elbow pain over the last several years. I am creeping up on my fourth decade of shooting, and the mileage has not been kind to me. Many of my peers who are shooters, trainers, or armed professionals have also reported a bout of elbow pain at some point or another. In this 3 part article series, I wanted to detail my trials and tribulations with elbow pain, and how I have been trying to address it. Continue reading

AWERBUCK REDUX : MORE WARRIOR WISDOM

                                  

I previously posted “Louis Awerbuck Remembered” (HERE). (Click on the book above for the link to the Kindle at Amazon).   I wrote there I might have more gems to relate.   As promised:

  • If you have the time, go for the potentially most effective target area. If you don’t, get whatever meat and bone you can get, and maintain continuity of fire until the deadly force threat is gone. Continue reading

The Window Drill

Many of us struggle with a fast, efficient, and accurate first shot.  One of the greatest problems I see with students seems to be the ability to drive the gun straight to the target.  The presentation of delivering the gun to the target tends to get muddled with something other than a smooth, straight-like-it’s-on-a-rail presentation. Continue reading

It’s Just Sights and Trigger….

After finishing the recent Top Cop Pistol Championship match, I reflected back on my performance and was very pleased to have been able to turn in very clean and consistent runs on all of the stages. I was coming into the match on the mend from chronic tendonitis in both elbows, and frankly was dreading having to shoot much at all. My elbows were still bad enough that during the meager 150 rounds at the official match practice day the week prior, I was not able to finish a single string without great pain. Knowing that I would be unable to complete rigorous live fire or even dry fire preparation for the match, I knew I had to resort to a novel approach – I would watch the sights and press the trigger cleanly. Continue reading

Knowing

 

Knowing:

I like to use the word knowing in conjunction with the word CONFIDENCE.  Is knowing and confidence the same?  I’m going to talk about knowing in competition and the tactical world.  So what is knowing?  Knowing you have the confidence to make a shot.  Knowing you can hit a steel target at 50 yards.  At a 100 yards.  In competition, having the confidence to take a 30 yard shot on a partial target because you’ve done your homework.  You know what the sight picture looks like for that distance and what type of trigger pull you need.  You’ve zero’d your gun and know where the rounds are going to land. Continue reading

When .22 splits aren’t fast enough……..

Recently, I was evaluating a HK VP9 that was done up by Grayguns, Inc.  I was shooting string after string on the timer.  I noticed that somewhere south of .22 splits on multi-shot strings, my accuracy fell apart.  I dismissed the VP9 as being inferior, due to the stock box P320 Carry giving me nice little piles of bullet holes at .16-.18 splits. Continue reading

NEW- Hornady “American Gunner” line of ammunition

Hornady is expanding their ammunition offerings in 2015.  One of the products will be the new “American Gunner” line.  I recently came into a couple of boxes of the stuff from another gun writer who was in one of my classes.  (Thanks Tom!) Continue reading

LOUIS AWERBUCK REMEMBERED

1948-2014
Warrior, Artist, Philosopher

  Who wouldn’t want to be remembered with words like these:

Stubborn, single-minded, articulate, knowledgeable, independent, moral, inquisitive, interesting and accomplished .   .  .

That’s what Robbie Barrkman wrote of Louis Awerbuck (his friend of 35 years) on his Robar Guns website, after Awerbuck’s death in June 2014.  (The entirety of the heartfelt tribute is HERE).   Awerbuck’s Yavapai Firearms Academy, with a summary of his resume, is HERE.  A 2008 interview of Awerbuck, where he answers well-posed questions on life, death, and equipment, is HERE.  Another one, rather well-known, “Interview With A Madman,” is HERE.  An interesting commentary on his death, evidencing Awerbuck’s appreciation for warrior history and philosophy, “Requiem For A Soldier,” is HERE.  It is said that he was fearless, but carried a high capacity 1911 as a primary, and a Glock 19 as backup. Continue reading