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

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

A SHORT ESSAY : WINNING IS EVERYTHING . . . AND THE ONLY THING

From “No Second Place Winner” (© 1965), by William H. (“Bill”) Jordan (p.101):

“There is no second place winner in a gunfight!  That sage remark is of unrivaled importance to an enforcement officer. Nothing he can buy from a life insurance firm takes the place of his ability to shoot fast and accurately. Storebought insurance will make his wife a rich widow, but it will be someone else who helps her spend the settlement. Not too attractive a proposition from the masculine point of view. The kind of life insurance he can buy with competent gun handling ability is obviously much more practical.”    [You can read/download Jordan’s book, HERE].

MSW posts urging weapon reliability and “get out and train” (whether specialized classes with the been there done everything hardcore trainers, shooting drills on the clock on your own, physical conditioning, and yes, competing) really speak to one thing, winning a life threatening encounter.  I wanted to write a post to put out my long-held lament on the subject.  It strikes me often: I see streets named after and plaques honoring LEOs killed by the gunfire of evildoers.  (I was casually acquainted with several of the deceased LEOs, and a bit more with a couple).  But I never see what would inspire and make me feel much better —  a street named after an LEO who WON a gunfight.  So here it is, to be filed under the CAN element (mindset) of my paradigm on deadly force. Continue reading

Made In The USA: Thorlo Socks

Socks are an often overlooked but important piece of kit.  The importance of high quality and application specific socks cannot be overstated, whether you are military, LE, hiker, hunter, urban walker, runner/jogger, competition shooter, or stand protective post or at a workbench for extended periods.  I have been trying different socks for some 30 years. Continue reading

Why You Should Cross Train

If you have been following our posts here, you’ll know that we are pretty big on maintaining some modicum of physical fitness as part of our overall survival strategy. Good physical health will not only increase your survivability in a deadly force encounter, it will increase your overall quality of life. How many times have you gone to a class and seen the student that would more likely face a cardiac arrest than a home invasion robbery in the next 24 hours? Before learning how to be a ninja with that new wunderpistol, maybe that guy should go out and walk around the block a couple times.

Years back, Hilton got heavy into CrossFit and has made some great fitness gains by training smart. Since my college years, I have been training one martial art or another, starting with traditional Japanese arts, and eventually settling with Thai Boxing and Filipino Martial Arts. About six years ago, I found Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and haven’t turned back.

I’m not saying everyone needs to start grappling. But go find a physical activity that you enjoy and get out and do it. Preferably it will be something that you can immerse yourself into for an hour or two several times a week, and will motivate you to stay fit so you can perform your best. Training and competing in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu helps motivate me to stay in shape and watch my diet. While it is good physical activity, it does not replace the need to do some regular PT, so I still hit the gym.

Shooting is fun and rewarding, and can develop the skills necessary to defend yourself and your loved ones. But don’t forget to stay in shape. As my buddy Joe says, “Round is a shape.” Hopefully, that doesn’t describe you.

Go outside and have fun!

Get Off Your A** and Train!!!

I often find it depressing to see that a photo of a box of new AR magazines or a random photo of a pistol gets a ton more traffic than an article about a great new drill or training concept.  Sadly, our industry is driven largely by the accumulating of doodads, and less so by the using of the doodads.  The shaky photo from above was posted to my Instagram yesterday, and was taken after a workout incorporating the SIRT and a variety of exercises (I suppose that explains why it was shaky).  If you are remotely serious about your firearms and defensive skills, you should be expending more effort figuring out ways to train rather than making up excuses why you didn’t.  Cut a few minutes off your web surfing today and spend that time dry firing, practicing manipulations, or hitting some PT.  You will never regret the time invested into making yourself better, faster, or stronger.

 

AAR: STATE OF FLORIDA VS. GEORGE ZIMMERMAN

The criminal aftermath is over for George Zimmerman.  (Contrary to the drivel of some legal pundits, there is no legitimate basis whatsoever for federal criminal charges).  Zimmerman has successfully negotiated the near impossible battle of both mortal combat and courtroom trial, the latter after undeserved and overwhelming demonization by the media. 

First, let’s get the deserved moral outrage out of the way.  My opinion is short, but not that simple:  The prosecution was politically motivated pandering and a miscalculation of Constitutional proportions by a dopey governor and trial prosecutors who ignored facts and law.   How do I know this?  The chief of the prosecutor’s office gave a press conference shortly after the verdict which brazenly confirmed the foregoing … beyond any reasonable doubt.  Guess what? Does not happen frequently, but it does happen.  You carry a gun?  Accept it.  You should already realize even an innocent or noble misadventure can turn into one of “the gravest extreme.”  (Read the book of similar title, by Massad Ayoob).   Sadly, good public servants lost their jobs.  Maybe not so noble elected officials should too. Continue reading

Evolution in Training – The Importance of Staying Current

When people see the topic of evolution, it usually brings forth some heated arguments.  This article is about how we fail to evolve as firearms and tactics instructors.  This failure of evolution has brought forth a lot of heated arguments as well.

I don’t see this failure as much in the larger, more mainstream firearms and tactics schools as I do in the smaller ones.  Certainly it exists in larger schools.  I see it more often in training at the local level, and mainly in institutional organizations and police training. These schools often have instructors that have been around a while, and generally they haven’t been to a school to upgrade their skills and knowledge since Carter was in office.  And the curriculum shows it. Continue reading

PRO TIP: AGING EYES

At some point (over 30 for some, 40 for many, and by 50 for most) the eyesight prescription (Rx) which corrects for the best distance vision no longer also provides a sharp handgun front sight.  For many, “progressive” eyeglasses or “multi-focal” contact lenses do not work well for shooting, and thus they are not the answer.  Here’s a suggestion for a relatively easy fix which can work for duty, competition, and everyday activities.  It’s called monovision; one eye is corrected to see close up (normally for reading), and the other to see distance.  If it is going to work for you, within one week or so you will no longer realize you are using a somewhat exotic Rx.  However,  you may experience a slight decrease in the depth perception you would have using regular binocular vision. Continue reading

Dry Practice: Carbine Props

With ammunition prices soaring and availability dropping, it is more critical than ever before for the serious shooter to adopt a productive dry practice regimen.  Carbine training can be very intensive on position shooting and use of cover, and I always avoided doing it in dry practice for various reasons.  I had the epiphany the other day to combine it with my PT regimen, and found that the A frame ladder in my garage gym was the perfect carbine practice prop. Continue reading

It’s that time of year again…A Word of Caution

It is that time of year again where the sun is up longer and is more intense than we are used to in most cases.  With that in mind, please review the following and keep a close eye on your students and fellow instructors.

Heat Exhaustion (Mayo Clinic)

Heat exhaustion is a condition whose symptoms may include heavy sweating and a rapid pulse, a result of your body overheating. It’s one of three heat-related syndromes, with heat cramps being the mildest and heatstroke being the most severe.

Causes of heat exhaustion include exposure to high temperatures, particularly when combined with high humidity, and strenuous physical activity. Without prompt treatment, heat exhaustion can progress to heatstroke, a life-threatening condition. Fortunately, heat exhaustion is preventable. Continue reading