Thursday, September 29, 2005

What is Gun Handling?

A Google search for “gun handling” will return approximately 65,000 results. However, most of the search results are websites describing in some variation the three “fundamental NRA rules for safe gun handling” which are: 1. ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction, 2. ALWAYS keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot and 3. ALWAYS keep the gun unloaded until ready to use.

These rules should be learned and made a part of your basic firearms practices, however they DO NOT address what in my opinion “gun handling” actually is.

“Gun Handling” is more than just the fundamental gun safety rules; it is everything you do with your firearm outside of the firing range. In other words, when you transport, wear, conceal or anticipate the use of your firearm you are engaging in “gun handling.” Think of “gun handling” as tactics with your firearm. If you are standing at point “A” and need to move to point “B” in order to avoid trouble, you do so in a “tactical” manner which means to MOVE and exhibit the proper gun handling skills while doing so. If you must draw your pistol from underneath a garment (movement), you do so while observing the basic gun safety rules.

When moving with a firearm you must observe all of the gun safety rules. You keep the gun pointed in a safe direction (Rule # 1) which I describe as the “Laser Safety Rule.” Also, you move while keeping your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot (Rule # 2) which I call the “Finger on the Frame Rule.” These rules must be followed and practiced ad nausium until they are a part of your very being.

Gun handling requires movement with purpose. If bad things are happening to you….maybe you should move to a new location. Running for the sake of running may not be the answer though. Seek out locations which will provide you with some tactical advantage. In the old western movies it was always the “high ground” that the good guys were seeking when responding to the bad guys. What you need to move to though is terrain which provides you with a tactical advantage. If you want to attract attention, then move to a lit or populated area. If you are trying to hide, then move into the shadows. If you are trying to call the police, then move to where you can get to your cell phone. The one “key” element in all of this is MOVEMENT. You must move in order to survive.

Gun handling is more than just basic Gun Safety coupled with Movement. It is the calculated movement with purpose with the proper gun-safety skills implemented.

For more information, view my website: Defensive Training Group

Semper Fidelis.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

What Kind of Gun Should I Buy?

There are two requisites for purchasing a handgun as I see it. One is are you willing to learn how to use it? The second is if presented with the dilemma of having to use it to kill another human being to protect yourself, are you willing to do it?

Assuming that you’ve answer yes to both questions, then realistically any quality modern pistol of suitable caliber, at least .38spl / 9mm is fine. Now we come to the question of self-defense training.

All training is broken down into two phases, skill building training and skill maintenance training. When you first learn to shoot a handgun, approach it with the attitude that you must first build or attain certain skills. The skills of loading, unloading, reloading and the clearing of any / all stoppages or malfunctions should be learned before progressing to any survival or self-defense training. Once you’ve learned to “handle” your weapon, then you can begin to learn “how to use it.” Once both of these skills are under your belt, the only thing to do then is to “maintain” these skills, and believe me they are perishable.

So the answer to the question, “What kind of gun should I buy?” is easy. Any gun is fine as long as you learn how to use it and are prepared to do so!

Obviously there are factors to consider such as size and weight preference and where the pistol will be located such as in the home, automobile or carried on your person. As far as I’m concerned, these are the easy ones to answer, it’s the first two questions that are most often overlooked.

For more information, view my website: Defensive Training Group

Semper Fidelis.

Quotes I Like

In the study of personal protection, self-defense and survival I have found the following books and authors to be very helpful.

Lt. Col. A. J. Drexel Biddle, U.S.M.C.R.
"Do or Die: A Supplementary Manual on Individual Combat"
1937, Paladin Press, P.O. Box 1307, Boulder, CO 80306

“Remember! You are never defenseless. The assailant’s eyes are an easy mark. At close range a handful of gravel or any handy article might be thrown at the eyes, or a hat whipped into them.”

Captain W.E. Fairbairn
"Get Tough! How to Win in Hand-to-Hand Fighting (1942)"
1979, Paladin Press, P.O. Box 1307, Boulder, CO 80306

“There will be some who will be shocked by the methods advocated here. To them I say in war you cannot afford the luxury of squeamishness. Either you kill or capture, or you will be captured or killed. We’ve got to be tough to win, and we’ve got to be ruthless – tougher and more ruthless than our enemies.”

John Styers
"Cold Steel, Technique of Close Combat"
1952, Paladin Press, P.O. Box 1307, Boulder, CO 80306

“CONFIDENCE in yourself—the self assurance that you CAN DO IT—is the first requisite: the rest is a matter of KNOW – HOW and PRACTICE. This confidence will allow you to stay LOOSE, mentally and physically, until the moment which necessitates the application of your chosen plan of attack. Then HIT FAST and HARD, pressing the attack to its successful conclusion.

Brigadier General Samuel B. Griffith, U.S.M.C. (Ret.)
"Mao Tse-Tung, on Guerilla Warfare"
1961, Praeger Publishers, Inc., 111 Fourth Avenue, NY, NY 10003

“The first law of war is to preserve ourselves and destroy the enemy.”

For more information, view my website: Defensive Training Group

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Why I teach Basic NRA pistol courses

I teach NRA Basic Pistol courses primarily for women. Lets face it, it’s a mans world, and it’s a right-handed mans world. A female walking into a gun shop, unless there happens to be a female salesperson, is likely to be met by a man that has no experience in teaching women pistol marksmanship. Most male gun owners practice their hobby in a good-ole boy environment that isn’t always welcoming or comforting to women. Not that it’s intentionally that way, it’s been that way for so long and we men are reluctant to change. I have 20 years of experience in teaching women gun safety and do so for the following reason.

I began my official USMC Marksmanship Instructor career in 1986 while stationed at Puuloa Rifle Range, Ewa Beach, Hawaii. I had just graduated at the top of my Primary Marksmanship Instructor (PMI) class and landed a job at the rifle range as a full time instructor. My first assignment was to coach a class of senior enlisted WM’s (Women Marines). It seemed that these women were having a difficult time qualifying with their issue M1911 .45 ACP pistols, and it was my job to get them qualified. Prior to 1986, WM’s were not required to qualify, as the Marine Corps excluded women from combat assignments. Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen P.X. Kelly changed all of that, and from that time forward, WM’s would be required to qualify just like any other Marine. The only problem was that many career Women Marines had never become fully comfortable with the .45 auto pistol.

Soon I recognized the difference between coaching women and groups of male Marines. The women were more comfortable in confronting their fear of the weapon and would openly admit any fears or problems that they had. Unlike their male counterparts, who would be more likely to hide any fear out of peer pressure.

After I connected with the women and recognized this, I soon learned to enjoy working with them. Women were intellectual, easier to teach, approached learning in an organized manner and were more receptive to trying new methods of firing. Also, I felt that I got more positive and honest feedback from women. The proof was in the results, as all of these WM’s were able to qualify, thus keeping their jobs (and mine too). At that point, I learned that teaching groups of women was very different than teaching a Company of Infantry Marines.

Fast forward to 1997. My wife was Christmas shopping with our small children at the mall when a child was abducted from the area near the food court. She had often talked about obtaining her Concealed Weapons Permit and carrying a pistol, but as many of us do, she had procrastinated in obtaining the proper training to do so. After this frightening episode at the mall, she was determined to get her permit. It just so happened that there was a gun show at one of the local conference centers and there was a “Concealed Weapon” course being offered.

After work, I went by and met the instructor. He seemed to be more than qualified, and had an impressive resume’. I called my wife, and she promptly came down and took the class. After the class, she called me and was furious. It seemed that the instructor, had everyone make out a check to him and in return they were handed their certificate. The rest of the class time was spent on his “spiel” trying to sell his “advanced” training course. She never fired a pistol, and really received no hands-on training at all.

I regret having not been an NRA instructor at the time and having the ability to teach civilians basic firearms courses and offer them a certificate of proof of training for their Concealed Weapons Permit. Soon afterwards I contacted an NRA counselor, who set up a course for me, and I took the NRA Basic Pistol Instructor and Personal Protection Course and the rest is history. I believe that there are other women like my wife, looking for basic firearm instruction and don’t know where to go and I want to give them an honest “no B.S.” gun safety course. The goal for my course is that upon completion, she will be able to walk into a gun store and make an informed decision as to what she needs as opposed to being “told” what she needs by some gun shop salesman.

I have taught US Marines, basic marksmanship courses for M-16’s and M1911 and M-9 pistols and 12 ga. shotguns. Also, before the .38 spls. were phased out I coached aviators and air crews with their revolvers. I was a competitive shooter in the Marines with the M-14 rifle and M1911 pistol and was a Crew Served Weapons instructor in Quantico, VA with the M60 and M2 machineguns. I was a Force Recon Marine and taught small-unit tactics and marksmanship in various settings including through interpreters.

As a Law Enforcement Officer, I am a Florida CJSTC certified Firearms Instructor. I have taught several sub machinegun courses, tactical pistol and tactical shotgun courses at our local Police academy. I am an adjunct instructor for Tactical Response Training, Inc. and have taught SWAT related courses including Sniper, Dignitary Protection and Tactical Patrol Rifle.

I believe that all citizens have a right to own firearms and if they chose to carry them, should be afforded the proper training to do so.

For more information, view my website: Defensive Training Group

Semper Fidelis.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Basic Firearm Safety

One of the most talked about but least understood subjects (in my opinion), is Gun & Firearm Safety. A guns’ safety is NOT a mechanical device. A guns’ safety is that organ located “in between your ears” and extends out to your “index or trigger finger.”

The subject of gun or firearm safety is usually covered as an introductory subject or a lesson in beginning firearms classes. Once live fire practice begins strict safety rules are incorporated into the course of fire and range safety rules reinforce habits which don’t reflect “real-life” dynamic and violent encounters that a person may actually face.

Obviously, it is impossible to operate public firing ranges without strict gun safety rules, and doing so would be grossly negligent. However, if a person has never trained to operate a pistol in the presence of others, how can that person be expected to deal with a violent dynamic struggle with other persons, possibly loved ones, nearby and being threatened?

Firearm safety is incorporated at all levels of my classes in order to present the student with, in many cases, a new and unique perspective of firearm safety. My firearm safety program is presented in two (2) parts, the “Finger on the Frame” and the “Laser Safety Rule” and is practiced throughout the entire course.

The trigger finger is placed on the side of the frame of the pistol, and is placed on the trigger ONLY when a) the sights are on target and b) a clear decision has been made to fire the pistol. This is the “finger on the frame” rule. No exceptions. Then we examine the “Laser Safety Rule.” Pretend that a laser beam is projecting out of the end of your gun barrel destroying everything in its path. NEVER cover yourself or anyone / anything that you are not willing to kill or destroy. These two rules must be understood and practiced before drawing a pistol from a holster, and especially if it is concealed underneath a garment.

There are three (3) physical / neural reasons enforcement of the “finger on the frame” rule is mandatory for safe pistol presentation.

The first reason for the placement of the finger on the frame of the pistol is Postural Disturbance. Quite simply, postural disturbance is the “upsetting” of our sense of balance during a violent intra-personal confrontation, where our loss of balance causes us to reach and grasp for safety. Obviously if holding a pistol and the loss of balance occurs, an unintentional squeeze / or pull of the trigger could occur causing a negligent discharge of the pistol.

The second reason for placing the finger on the frame of the pistol is Interlimb Interaction, or sympathetic squeeze. This is a term used to describe the involuntary contraction of an individual's hand and finger muscles under extreamly stressful conditions. The sympathetic squeeze can occur when the shooting hand is holding the pistol, and the support hand or non-shooting hand must be engaged in some forceful or violent action. It is possible that the shooting hand could contract with up to 20% of the force being applied by the non-shooting hand.

The third reason for having the finger on the frame of the pistol is the Startle Reflex or Startle Response. The startle response is an involuntary reflex or contraction that humans are born with. It is the sudden twitch that happens in response to any a sudden frightening stimulus. When the ears are unexpectedly stimulated by noise a startle occurs, in which the muscles in the arms, shoulders, neck, and eyes are activated and involuntarily contract. If the noise / stimulus is loud, or if the person is in an aroused state (e.g. anxious, fearful) prior to the startle, the magnitude of the muscle contraction is greatly increased.

With the “finger on the frame” of the pistol, next we examine the “Laser Safety Rule.” Even when presented with a situation where you MUST point a pistol in the direction of another person, do so with out “covering” that person with your muzzle of your pistol unless you’ve made a clear decision to fire. Remember, keep your finger off of the trigger, and never point your pistol at anyone or anything you are not committed to killing or destroying.

The newspapers and history books are full of examples of individuals that violated these basic rules and tragedy was the result. Sometimes death, and in other cases persons were maimed as a result of poor gun handling skills. Gun & Firearm Safety should be incorporated throughout your personal protection training regimen and should also be a part of your personal character. Remember, your safety is in between your ears. Engage it.

For more information, view my website: Defensive Training Group

Semper Fidelis.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Welcome to Personal Protection Training & Firearm Instruction

This is my attempt to share over 20 years of Personal Protection & Firearm related training to the world.

Feel free to look around.

For more information, view my website: Defensive Training Group
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