Thursday, January 7, 2016

Safety? Its YOUR responsibility...

Safety is not the absence of danger, but how you prepare for and deal with it. There is no way to eliminate all risk if you wish to live a happy life. Study after study has shown that people want to be happy more than anything else. What makes us happy varies and part of achieving happiness is knowing what this is. Its "safe" (pun intended) say that achieving happiness means you will have the leave the "safety" of your home and venture out. Complete and total safety is an impossibility.

We must have safe havens as we cannot stay in Condition Yellow for extended periods of time...we will burn out. In addition, we must all go to Condition White to recharge our battery, its called sleep. This means the home must be hardened with layers of security...exterior lighting, fencing, locked windows and doors, an alarm system, a yappy dog, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, fire extinguisher, etc. We need to be warned of intruders long before they breach the walls of our castle. It doesn't matter if you have a gun under your pillow, if you wake up and the gremlin is standing over you, it is too late!

We you do venture out to have a fulfilling life, you stack the deck in your favor. You have an EDC system that you have given critical thought to. Forget all the Ninja gear you see in the magazines or on-line, if it isn't easy to carry daly you will start to leave it at home piece by piece. After all, you are not in Afghanistan, you are in your home town so you should have an idea of what you REALLY need. Keep in mind, the magazines make revenue by selling ads. In order to sell ads they must feature A LOT of gear. The current generation of magazines have some really great gear photography that makes it look quite appealing...but do you really need it. Better yet, will you really carry it? A week or two and then it goes in the glove box or drawer? Yeah...been there, done that...

What do you really need? I can't answer for you but as a general rule it should be: a handgun you will carry daily, a reload for said gun, a cutting tool of some type (I like a folding knife but other prefer a fixed blade or decide) and a flash light. How many lumens? Enough to handle the mission you perceive for it. I think the original standard of a minimum of 65 Lumens is a good one.

General and situational awareness is a life style choice and commitment. It means you are aware of what is going on around you as best you can. You look around in a rhythmic pattern from near to far taking in what you see. Forget the cool looking scan from the range in which you see nothing, a true observational scan is a technique that takes time and must be learned. In truth, most people do not know how to do it...even people who consider themselves "trained". A threat is likely to be a person, though it can be environmental. Keep in mind complete awareness is impossible as all it takes is your child to break an object in a store, to be shopping for an item, take a slip on the ice, see two people start to argue in a parking lot, have a traffic crash occur in front of you...any number of things that can divert your attention and pull your focus away. It takes a VERY trained and prepared mind NOT to become transfixed by things that occur in and around us. You can't select that new shirt if you do not take the time to look at it carefully and it only takes a second or two to be attacked. Understand this and prepare for it...its not right or wrong, just reality...

You travel in a vehicle that is well cared for and properly equipped. A break down is a great way to become a victim so you make sure it is regularly serviced. Changing the oil and other fluids as recommended is THE single best thing you can do for your mobile life it! Keep the tires (including spare) properly inflated. I have taken several counter-terror/offensive/car fighting driving courses and these instructors recommend five pounds over factory recommended, so that is where I keep my tires. Make sure you keep the vehicle gear up to date...Fix-A-Flat, fire extinguisher, flash light, glow sticks, spare water, duct tape, hand tools, food items, a blanket, spare tire, etc. Check it several times a year.

When you travel, have a plan to harden your temporary home. If it is a hotel, check the exits and walk the stairs so you know how to escape. NEVER go in anywhere you don't know how to get out of! Hotels, restaurants, stop and robs, etc. Can you break/open the window of your hotel room? How high up are you? Is there a way to climb down? Do a recon as soon as you arrive. Secure your room door with furniture or simple wood wedges you bring with you. I don't care what the hotel says, have a gun! Its your room, you paid for it.

Its is more likely you will be trapped in a hotel fire than be attacked in the room...can you get out? Death by smoke inhalation is a TERRIBLE way to go, I carry a portable smoke mask in my travel kit. No, its not perfect but it gives me a fighting chance just like my handgun or knife. Not being able to see or breathe is an almost impossible set of circumstances. I might not be able to see through the smoke, but at least I will be able to breathe well enough to make a more informed decision.

It s real good idea to now how to care for yourself. Not just gun shot wounds (something worth knowing!) but general health care. Have a kit with needed medicines and simple medical supplies like band aids. When was the last time you were shot versus cut your finger and bled everywhere? What is called a "Boo Boo Kit" is a good idea.

Train and practice! Not just shooting but in all aspects of your personal security. Shooting is the fun part...fighting not so much. Practice fire drills, practice vehicle evacuations including seat belt removal. Did you know a sudden impact can jam many seat belts? I have seen it time and agin as a cop. Can you cut yourself out? How about when the seat belt is wet? Wet seat belt nylon is hell to cut even with a sharp knife so know how to do this before hand. STAY FIT! Can you climb out of your car? Over a fence? Run away from a threat? If not, your dead.

I could go on and on with this after a lifetime of preparing for life's dangers but the important thing is to LIVE! Enjoy life! Be happy! Just be ready for these times when things do not go well AND THEY WILL! I know many, many people who will fold like an old leather belt when things do not go the way they want. Don't be this person, be the person who rises to the occasion, who excels in pandemonium! All it takes is some critical thought, time preperation and training and buying the right gear. Be safe, be alert and Check your 360 often!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Video Review: Concealed Carry for Self Defense

 I deliberately do not schedule classes between Thanksgiving and the SHOT Show in late January. This is my time to decompress after a long training season, enjoy the holidays with my family and to review my course lesson plans to see where I can improve them. Throughout the training season, I watch my students to see what skills they need, how I can better present the material and listen to their feedback to determine where I can improve. I don’t know everything and I have a very gifted student body so I listen to what they say.

Since many of my students attend training from other instructors…something I vigorously support, after all I did…they often share their training experiences with me and I listen, as you never know where you will pick up a nugget of wisdom. Its not that I will hear something totally original, but I am always on the look out for how to explain or demonstrate something better. I truly believe the best instructors never stop learning.

During this down period, I also break out videos from a VERY extensive library that includes many still on VHS and come from the mid-1980’s. I maintain a VHS player just for this purpose. Even though I have seen all of these videos before, it is impossible to remember everything presented and I am often reminded of material I have been remiss in presenting during my courses. I am always concerned about the “drinking water from a fire hose” phenomenon when I teach as I have so much in my head I want students to know, unfortunately, they can only absorb so much in a two-day course. What I present and how much time I spend on each skill is constantly under review.

Yesterday, I broke out a video I originally reviewed for the now defunct LAW OFFICER Magazine back in 2008.  With the news media scaring the crap out of everyone with concerns about Active Killers and ISIS in America (regardless of what they say, we are still a safe and law abiding country), the demand for concealed carry guns, gear and training is on the rise.  Thus it seemed to be the perfect time to review “Concealed Carry for Self Defense” from Tom Givens at Rangemaster.

Mr. Givens is quite well known in the training community having been involved in shooting sports and training for almost 40 years. Having trained under many of the nation’s better known instructors, written a best selling book entitled Fighting Smarter , operated a retail sales and training facility in Memphis, TN, founder of the Rangemaster Tactical Conference (originally the Polite Society Conference, one of the premier training events in America) and studying armed conflict for many years, Mr. Givens is uniquely qualified to present this timely material.  I met Mr. Givens several years back, having breakfast with him at the SHOT Show and he struck me as a true southern gentlemen. 

The production quality of the video is not as high as those being produced by others these days, but this does not bother me as long as the content is solid and well presented and that is certainly the case for this video. Seldom does any instructor totally agree with another but I found that as Mr. Givens presented his material I agreed with most everything he said. Sure, I might teach a skill or two differently, but the skill sets he presented were well thought out and made a ton of sense. There are no fads, trends or cool-guy, Ninja stuff presented here. Just solid information one can use to protect their life.

Like many training videos, this one started with a review of safety procedures and then moved into a review of concealed carry pistols and gear. Like me, Mr. Givens much prefers the pistol over the revolver for concealed carry and also like me, believes its not the size of the gun but a proper holster that determines how well a gun is concealed.  He finished this section by showing a series of students drawing from various concealed belt holsters with their chosen handguns.

Mr. Givens review of ammo selection and which calibers are useful for defense was right on the mark and I had to laugh when he showed three binder clips used for mounting targets to stands. Each clip had been shot with an FMJ training round, one in 9mm, another in .40 and the last in .45 and all were still intact. All three merely displayed a hole the same size as the bullet that struck them. Sure, a hollow point might have done more damage, but before you get all worked up, we are talking about metal binder clips and the point being made is you should not expect too much from your pistol ammo regardless of caliber.

The video went on the review proper presentation from the holster, reloading skills (speed, emergency and tactical) and then several exercises to improve skills.  Mr. Givens has a nice presentation style and does not spend too much time on any given topic. I have seen many instructors beat on a topic to the point of nausea but that was certainly not the case here. The video is several hours long, but the time goes by fast.  This video, as well as several others, are available at the Rangemaster web site It is worth your hard earned dollars and you are sure to learn some useful information.