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FBI Special Agent Dove and Special Agent Grogan were killed 30 years ago….

Today marks the 30th anniversary of the FBI Shootout in Miami in which these 2 agents were killed and several others were wounded. Also killed were the 2 dirtbags (who I won’t dignify by using their names) that the FBI was trying to arrest that fateful day. 

Since that day, there have been many discussions about the poor performance of the FBI Agent’s ammunition or their weapons vs. the bad guys weapons. In fact, this incident was the impetus behind the development of the 10mm cartridge adopted by the FBI. Too much conversation is spent on the ammunition and guns used during this incident and not enough on the other aspect of this incident – the mindset of the Agents and bad guys. 

There are no magic bullets. If you want to read about the damage done to the bad guys, read an excellent book written by Dr. Anderson, available here: Forensic Analysis of the April 11, 1986 FBI Firefight. The bottom line is this: a bad guy can sustain a non-survivable wound and still have the drive to continue the fight. 

As a good guy we need to cultivate the same mindset. 

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Rangemaster Newsletter

If you aren’t signed up to get the Rangemaster Newsletter every month, I suggest you go to Rangemaster’s website (Rangemaster) and sign up. Every month there’s a treasure trove of information in their newsletter. 

This month’s newsletter (April Newsletter) has two really good articles I suggest you read. They’re the first 2 articles – “Monsters” and an article about the Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network. 

I plan on doing some more research into the ACLDN because it sounds like a great insurance policy, so to speak, for just a small yearly fee. 

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Irresponsible gun owners annoy the crap outta me…..

Irresponsible gun owners really irritate me. Correct firearm safety and storage  practices should be holy writ for gun owners. But it’s not. Seems to me sometimes it’s the exception rather than the rule. Here’s a couple of examples of what I’m talking about:

A couple of weeks ago I read this story on the news:
6 year old shoots 3 year old brother
The short version, if you chose not to read the story, is this: dad keeps a loaded gun on top of the refrigerator for “protection” since he’s a “former” gang member. He showed it to his 6 year old son and tells him “this is for grown-ups only”. Later, his two boys are playing cops and robbers and the 6 year remembers where there’s a gun. He gets it off the top of the refrigerator and shoots his 3 year old brother in the head, killing his brother. His father is being charged with a felony. 

Now many of you may think, “but he’s a gang member, he shouldn’t have a gun anyway”.  I guarantee you there are hundreds of thousands of loaded firearms in American homes as I write this that are not stored in a way that would keep them from the hands of unauthorized people.

This year my agency has handled more pistol “giveaways” than seems to be the norm. What’s a “giveaway”, you ask?  Well, it’s not what the owners of those pistols called it. They called it theft. But when you leave your loaded pistol in your unlocked vehicle that’s parked in your driveway or on the street, I call that a “giveaway”. 

And finally, let me give some details about an incident I referenced in a post about safety earlier this year: You should be paranoid. A year ago, a family in my jurisdiction was sitting in their living room one sunny Sunday November afternoon watching football on the TV. Imagine their surprise when out of the blue a bullet fired from an AK clone comes through the ceiling and landed on the floor a few feet away from them. 

At about the same time a block away, a guy walking his dog heard gun shots in the distance and then heard bullets zipping past his head. 

Needless to say, they both called 911 and patrol units from my agency responded.  They investigated and found the shooters were a group of guys who were shooting rifles and pistols on a piece of property that was just outside of the city. It was a farm in the township. They were shooting in a field that was relatively flat. Beyond where they were shooting was a subdivision. They readily admitted to shooting the weapons, but stated they were shooting at targets on the ground.  The house they hit and the man they almost hit were @500 yards away. 

The next day we got another call from a house in that neighborhood. They found a spent bullet on the play set in their backyard. This house was also about 500 yards away. It too was a 7.62 FMJ bullet. 

Fast forward 6 weeks to a few days before Christmas. We get another call from the same neighborhood. This family was preparing a little used bedroom upstairs for family members coming in for the holiday. Imagine their surprise when they find a 7.62 FMJ round embedded in a window frame and the glass from that window cracked. This house was over a mile away from where the idiots shooting that AK were “shooting at the ground”.

Really?  Anyone believe they were “shooting at the ground”?  Those idiots could’ve killed several people that day. 

The end result? Nothing. The prosecutor declined to press any kind of charges against any of those idiots. Ohio law doesn’t really cover situations like that. I had to give their AK back to them with an admonishment to be more responsible. 

So it’s a civil issue, right?  Well guess what?  When the people who’s property was shot up came in to get a copy of the report so they knew who to sue for damages, they got reports with no names or addresses. Ohio public record laws required our records people to black out the names of the idiots since they weren’t criminally charged. Ain’t that a kick in the teeth?

I can tell you that those idiots unfortunately represent all of the decent gun owners in the country. And those idiots made at least two of the victims go from being neutral on gun issues to not supporting gun rights at all. 

Thanks, idiots. 

Be paranoid. We don’t need to give the antis any more reasons to go after our guns. 

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AAR of Tom Givens Firearms Instructor Development Course

This past weekend (Oct 30 – Nov 1) I had the good fortune to attend a Rangemaster Firearm Instructor Development Course in Wilmington, Ohio. I’ve been trying to fit this class into my schedule for a couple of years. I’ve been stagnant when it comes to attending shooting schools and I knew it was time to get back into the swing of things. I wanted a course that would be challenging, but also make me a better instructor. After reading several reviews from other attendees and having been exposed to the Rangemaster newsletter and having reviewed Tom’s DVD “Lessons From The Street”, I decided this was the class I wanted. I was lucky that a fellow Pistol-Forum.com member (gtmtnbiker98) hosts Tom at a range about 40 minutes from my house. The range is the Clinton County Farmers and Sportmans Association just south of Wilmington. It’s a great facility and for $65 a year it’s worth every penny to join if you need a place to shoot. 

Let me say one quick thing about Tom. He surprised the hell out of me the first day of class when he said something about it was nice I was finally able to get into the class after 3 years of trying. I didn’t expect Tom to remember our previous conversation from 3 years ago, but he did. 

There were 18 students in the class and we had some serious shooters in the group. We had everything from a 25 year old soon to be police cadet (he started the academy the day after the course) to a military guy, a couple pilots, a lawyer, a bunch of experienced firearm instructors and at least 3 law enforcement officers. Tom Givens was the main instructor and he did a great job instructing the class. This is not a “gimme” instructor class like so many that are out there. Just because you paid money does not mean Tom will pass you. Tom believes you must be a subject matter expert to instruct, so if you don’t know the material and can’t shoot to a pretty high level of performance, he will not pass you. That was refreshing to me since most of my instructor classes have been on the government’s dime at government facilities, which means I’ve seen a bunch of state certified “instructors” out there who can’t teach worth a damn, let alone shoot worth a damn. They should really be called “qualification officers” since that’s about all they know how to do – run people through the state qualification course. At the beginning of the class Tom told us that out of a group our size he expected 2-3 of us would not pass the class. We pleasantly surprised him and all of us passed the class.

 To pass you the class needed to pass 3 different tests, 2 shooting tests and an 85 question written exam. The shooting tests were the current FBI qualification course and the Rangemaster qualification course. Each shooting test required a 90% to pass. Tom explained that he requires a 90% to pass on the FBI course because that’s what FBI instructors are required to shoot on that course to receive/maintain their instructor certification. The Rangemaster qualification course is shot on the same targets used for the FBI course, but it is scored differently, making it tougher than the FBI course. Me being me, I dropped 1 shot on the easier FBI course and shot a perfect score on the harder Rangemaster course. 

Throughout the entire course Tom constantly reminded us that as instructors, our job was to not only teach a technique, but to be able to explain why that technique worked and be able to explain the history of the technique itself. Listening to Tom talk was fascinating. He is a wealth of information. I was constantly writing notes about little historical facts I never knew about a wide variety of topics. From shooting techniques to use of force issues to tactics to whatever topic we were talking about. Some of the best parts of the class for me were in the classroom. Especially the lecture on mindset and how to convey to your students (Tom was up front in saying this course was mostly geared towards instructing non-LE students) the need to be vigilant and carry your firearm whenever and wherever you are legally allowed. Tom injected relevant accounts of his students previous violent encounters into his lectures to drive the point home. He has plenty to choose from. As he says, his students have 62 wins, 0 losses and 3 forfeits (students died because they chose not to arm themselves that day). 

 The shooting part of the class was a lot of fun. I haven’t been pushed to perform like I was in this class in a LONG time. I didn’t learn a whole lot about the fundamentals of shooting during the class, but then again, that isn’t what this class is about. If you didn’t have the fundamentals down already you should not have even been in the class to begin with. What I did learn was how to be a better shooting coach, which is why I wanted to attend this course to begin with. Most of the shooting was within 7 yards. Tom explained why that was the case. Everything we did in the class Tom had a logical reason for doing so and could lay out in great detail why he drew up the course curriculum the way he did. The class was broken up into two different relays. When not shooting you acted as a shooting coach for the student you were paired with. 

 Out on the range we worked on the draw stroke, shot different cadences from different distances, reloads, malfunction drills and a bunch of other things. Many of the drills required the shooter to shoot and THINK at the same time. Tom stressed how important this was and once again, explained all his reasons for teaching what he does. Two drills that we shot stick out above all the rest. The Casino Drill and the 3M drill. The 3M drill is discussed in last months Rangemaster newsletter. Each drill focuses on shooting fast, moving and thinking, but does not allow you to sacrifice accuracy for the sake of speed, if done correctly. 

With the help of my coaches, I identified a couple areas I need to work on to improve my shooting. I’ve never been much of a “ride the reset” shooter. After working on it this past weekend it’s something I’m definitely going to work on since I found I’m noticeably faster when I do it. The other thing I need to work on is distance shooting. Past 15 yards and I start to suck. I don’t do much 25 yards straight up accuracy shooting. That will change. Both test courses have 25 yard shots. And those were the shots I struggled with. My miss on the FBI course was the last shot I fired at 25 yards. 
All in all, I can honestly say this is the best instructor course I’ve ever attended. All the others involved time, but not a lot of effort. This required both. If you are a pistol instructor, whether LEO certified or NRA, do yourself a favor and attend one of Tom’s instructor classes. It’s worth every penny. 
For those of you that were wondering, it seemed like there was a wide variety of pistols used in the class. Striker fired pistols seemed to dominate. Glocks of various flavors, M&Ps, at least one VP-9 and one Sig 320. Also present were at least one 1911 of some sort, a CZ P-01, an HK P30 and my Sig 229. Three of us were using a slide mounted red dot. I had an RMR, one of the M&P shooters had a Leupold Deltapoint and one of the Glock shooters had an RMR as well (IIRC). Two of us shot from duty gear, everyone else shot from concealment. There were several fellow members of the AIWB cult in the group. The only gun issues I observed were from bad ammo. Three shooters were having problems (bad primers and squib loads) with Blazer Brass ammo. I decided to shoot my 229/RMR from my duty gear instead of my JMCK AIWB rig. I recently purchased a Blade-Tech duty holster for this combo. While teaching at the local police academy a few days before the class I screwed up several draws doing demos so I decided I needed the practice with this new set up. By the end of the course I was pretty comfortable with the idiosyncrasies of the BT holster. I shot Freedom Munitions 147gr remanufactured ammo and had no problems whatsoever. I shot just under 1K rounds over the three days. I’m still getting back into the swing of things with the red dot milled into the slide. With my eyesight, I’m not sure I would have passed the shooting portion with irons. The RMR definitely helped me on the long range shots. 
It was a good weekend, met some nice guys and learned a lot from Tom. Now I need to figure out what’s next……

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Time flies…..

This has been a crazy year. I can’t believe it’s already October. I haven’t posted in a while and figured I’d get back into it. 

Earlier this year I woke up one morning and couldn’t really see out of my right eye (my dominant eye). It was like someone had taken a piece of wax paper and covered my eye with it. Kinda worrisome, right?  Well, if you’ve had this happen to you, you know that my problem was that I had developed a cataract. 

So, a few thousand dollars and a pretty neat surgery later I now have 20/15 distance vision in that eye and no more astigmatism. 

While my distance vision is great, I still have problems focusing up close so glasses are still an everyday thing. I can see the sights better with uncorrected vision, but not great. So I decided to go back to something I tried a few years ago – a pistol with a mini red dot sight (MRDS) installed.  I have a good Chief and he allowed me to buy a new top end for my duty gun and carry it at work. 

Here’s what I ended up with:

  
Many of my future posts will chronicle my journey towards mastering this setup. 

Until next time. Be safe and carry your gun. 

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The laser on a self-defense pistol, Part 2….

Before I get into the ins and outs of actually shooting the CTC laser grips I want to make a few observations about pistol mounted lasers and shooting in general.

First let me say that, in general, I see two uses for pistol mounted lasers:
1. Marksmanship training
2. Faster sighting system in low and no light situations during stressful and simulated stressful situations

For the first use, just about any quality laser (examples – CTC, Viridian, LaserMax, Streamlight and Surefire) will work. For marksmanship training, activating the laser is a deliberate part of your shooting evolution. It is used to evaluate the shooter’s mastery of the fundamentals of shooting. The laser does not lie. If you flinch while pulling the trigger, the laser gives you that instant feedback. The laser is a great tool for instructors and shooters to use during dry fire and live fire, even during bright light when the laser is harder to see (although green lasers are easier to see in bright light) because you have TIME on your side.

For the second use I prefer to use only those laser systems which have an activation switch that can be activated by nothing more that gripping the weapon naturally with one hand. This significantly reduces the options available to the shooter. The CTC grips and some of their other systems allow for this, as does Surefire with their x400 and pressure switch combo. Streamlight has a similar pressure switch for their TLR-2. LaserMax offers a grip mounted option for the Glock Series called the Sabre. My reason for this preference is simple: grip activation does not need a separate conscious movement to activate the laser. When I grip the pistol and draw it, the laser is on. During training sessions on the range and in scenarios I have witnessed far too many shooters waste precious time looking for the activation button/witch on non-grip activated lasers when they should be shooting.

Next, I want to discuss “software” and “hardware”. For those who are unfamiliar with how these terms relate to shooting, “software” refers to the shooter’s mastery of the fundamentals of shooting. “Hardware” refers to the latest gadget or accessory for a particular weapon which is supposed to improve the weapons capabilities. Lasers are “hardware”.

Without the proper “software”, new “hardware” is fairly useless. What I mean is this: If you are looking at lasers and believe that they will automatically make you a better shooter, you are wrong. There is a learning curve for shooting a laser. When I first started shooting the laser on my duty pistol, my friends made fun of me and told me “you suck with that” because I was significantly slower with the laser. At first. I almost got rid of them out of frustration. It takes time to learn to shoot them well. One thing that I think helped me get extremely proficient with the laser in a relatively short period of time is the fact that I was already an above average shooter when I started (If you’re familiar with USPSA, I was a couple % points shy of Limited A class). A good grip, smooth trigger pull and the ability to quickly track iron sights are a huge benefit when you are starting out with the laser. If you have a weak or a limp grip, the laser is going to be difficult to return to the target quickly.

In essence, if you want to get the most out of the laser grips in low and no light shooting, you need to be a decent shot to begin with. And that brings me to the final observation I want to make in this post. From my experience as a firearm instructor, I believe that many people suffer from the Dunning-Kreuger Effect. People need to be honest with themselves. From my experience, many (if not most) shooters have an inflated opinion of the skill level they actually possess. This will do nothing but hurt them in the long run.

So how does one determine their skill level to know if they are a “decent shot”? Well, it depends on what skill you are wanting to test. If you are looking for straight accuracy skill, a good test would be a Bullseye match and comparing your scores to the the different classes. For the type of shooting
skills beneficial to a self defense situation and the most efficient use of the laser in low and no light situations, I would look at several places. First, competition in USPSA or IDPA. Those games have classification systems which will give you a realistic evaluation of your skill level. If you choose not to compete, finding good skill based courses of fire where you can gauge your performance is also a great way to determine your skill level. Pistol-Training.com has a great section on drills and tests that can be used to determine your level of skill. After shooting some of those drills/tests, I realized I needed to work on my accuracy shooting at distance and have changed my training program accordingly.

Enough for tonight. In the next part I will get into the actual shooting of the laser and some advice on how to go about improving your performance with them.

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Thoughts on the Paris terror attack…

If you haven’t watched the news today, I suggest you read this:
Paris attack

As I heard of the events in Paris today, I was reminded of how easy that could happen in Ohio and the U.S. And then I thought about how many people I know who are legally allowed to carry a firearm for defensive purposes yet fail to do so. I have heard this from many students over the years:

I don’t carry my pistol all the time, just when I go to someplace I think I may need it.

The problem with that line of thinking is that sometimes, trouble comes looking for you:

Trouble comes to the grocery store

Trouble comes to the mall

If you were at your local grocery store or mall and events like this happened, could you protect yourself?

One other thing before I finish up: Evaluate your carry set up. Should trouble find you while you’re out with the family, do you have what you need to safely evacuate them or stop the threat? Is 5-7 shots enough?

When I leave the house, I usually have a 229 or Beretta M9A1 Compact and an extra magazine with me. If I’m going somewhere where “I doubt I’ll need a gun”, I carry a Model 19 with an extra speed loader and a speed strip.

“It’s better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.”

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Firearm Safety: You should be paranoid…..

Here recently I’ve seen several news stories (some new, some old but reposted) about gun owners accidentally shooting themselves or others. Some caused injuries, some caused death. All of them were preventable. I commented about a couple on my old blog: http://www.bibliophilesgunblog.wordpress.com. I want to revisit my “It’s OK to be paranoid” post.

In that post, I said:

People often make fun of others for being paranoid. One thing I will never make fun of is someone who is “paranoid” about gun safety.

The more I think about it, the more I have come to believe that the average firearm owner that I have come across is not paranoid enough about gun safety. Why do I say that? Well, it’s based on 25+ years of dealing with your average firearm owner in some fashion, whether it’s working behind the counter at the gun shop or teaching classes for the gun shop. And teaching new police officers in the academy and veteran police officers during in-service training. It’s being handed “unloaded” firearms which really aren’t. It’s watching people wave guns around without regard to who they muzzle. It’s watching people who are looking at new pistols immediately place their finger on the trigger when they pick that pistol up. Those are the most common violations I have seen. There’s no malicious intent, just plain old ignorance and carelessness. You would think that the culprits in question were mostly first time gun owners.

Wrong.

News flash – just because someone has been “around guns all my life” does not make them the safest gun handler in the room. Many times it is just the opposite.

Another news flash – just because someone retired from the military/was a combat vet/was or is a police officer/whatever does not make them a safe gun handler or knowledgeable person when it comes to firearms. Some of the safest gun owners I know have never served in the military or law enforcement. Some of the most unsafe gun owners I have known were prior military or law enforcement. It is incumbent on your average gun owner to get paranoid about gun safety so that things like this never happen:

Two year old shoots mom

Tragic story, an apparently well trained female concealed handgun licensee made a mistake and took her eyes off her two year old for too long. She ended up being shot by her son.

Man accidentally shoots and kills friend

Another tragedy. A friend fooling around with an “unloaded” pistol shoots himself through the hand and his friend. Killing his friend.

Off duty police officer shoots himself in stomach

This off duty officer is lucky to be alive. He tried to do too much with just one hand and had his finger on the trigger. Watch the video.

NYPD Rookie shoots man in stairwell

This rookie cop ruined his career before it even really got out of the starting blocks. He had his finger on the trigger when it shouldn’t have been and was startled by someone in a stairwell. Startle reflex = pulled trigger. And an innocent person dead.

I’m working a case right now where a group of guys are absolutely lucky they didn’t kill someone (actually lots of someones) with their AK47 clone. As far as I can tell, there was no malice in their actions, just sheer ignorance and stupidity. When the case is closed I’ll post more details.

These are just a few examples of preventable firearm injuries/deaths over the last 2 months. Think of how many don’t make the news.

If you are reading this and are new to firearms, go here and read:

NRA Rules for Safe Gun Handling

Those rules are a great place to start your education. But those NRA rules don’t talk about everything. They don’t talk about your clothes being a safety hazard like what happened here: Indiana Police Chief’s drawstring causes pistol to fire.

For those of you who read this and are thinking “Good article (hopefully), a must read for newer gun owners”, remember this: “uneventful familiarity breeds contempt”. Ever met a guy who has worked construction for 30 years that has a bandage on his hand and is now short two fingers because he stopped respecting the band saw? I have. Yes, it can happen to you, too.

The bottom line is this: Get paranoid about gun safety. Get your gun safety tin foil hat on and keep it there.

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The laser on a self defense pistol, part 1…..

I have extensively used and competed with a Crimson Trace Corporation Laser Grip off and on since early 2000.  When I first saw the CTC grips, I admit I was skeptical about their usefulness.  Since I bought a pair (actually split the cost, my police agency paid $100 towards them) and really learned how to use them, that skepticism is long gone.  The following series of posts will outline the pros and cons (as I see them) of the CTC grips.

First, let’s look at what I’ll be using:

For full disclosure, CTC did not provide me with these grips, I purchased them from a forum member on P-F.com.  I can be somewhat skeptical of reviews/articles on items which have been provided by the manufacturer.  There are some authors/bloggers who I know will tell the truth no matter what; however, all you have to do is read the plethora of gun magazines/blogs to realize that is not always the case.

So let’s get to the grips themselves.  These grips have a rubberized texture and have pressure switches on both grips.  This is an improvement over the original grips, which only had a switch on the left side grip panel.  That was kind of a pain for lefties.  The laser module is at the top of the right side grip panel.  Because of it’s location, it requires the user to modify the way their trigger finger is indexed when not shooting the pistol.  I normally have my trigger finger high when I index it – up on the slide itself.  It becomes a problem when you use laser grips:

So when using the grips, I’ve had to modify my index position somewhat:

It’s not a huge issue, but took some getting used to when I first started using them.

The grips themselves are powered by two CR2032 batteries.  One goes into each grip.  The battery set up in the newer style grips is much better than the original Sig grips.  Like anything that’s electronic, the batteries are the Achilles’ heel of the system.  I know from past history that a set of batteries will last for months of normal use.  When I first got the grips, I shot them quite a bit at the local indoor pistol matches.  A set of batteries lasted me over a year.  Nowadays, I recommend that the batteries be changed every six months.  Cheap insurance.  I also recommend that the grips be turned off when not being carried (unless you use it as a nightstand gun as well).

The CTC grips come with a couple of Qtip like things in the package, along with a couple of VERY small Allen wrenches:

The Qtips are for cleaning the front of the laser emitter.  Fairly straightforward, stick the Qtip in the hole and spin it.  The Allen wrenches are for adjusting the windage and elevation of the laser itself so it can be zeroed appropriately.  There are holes on the top and side of the laser housing:

Zeroing a laser grip is similar to zeroing a riflescope.  You pick a distance where you want the grips zeroed.  Any where closer or further and the laser will be slightly “off”.  With a rifle scope, the “off” distance is usually straight up or down.  With a set of laser grips, that is up/down and left/right because the grips sit below and to the right of the muzzle.  Now, for defensive handgun distances the distance the laser is “off” is not that significant.  Unless you would have to take a precise, hostage rescue type shot.  For this set of grips,  I chose to zero it at 10 yards.  To get a rough zero down, I used a very scientific method.  Inside my house, I paced off 10 yards and through trial and error got the laser dot to sit right on top of my front sight.  Next week, I’ll go to the range, shoot the pistol and make any adjustments necessary to finalize the zero.

One last thing before I wrap up this first laser grip article.  Since the grips are not the same profile as the factory grips, holster fit is a problem.  So, to make this work with my normal carry holsters I had to do some Dremel surgery:

With kydex holsters this is an easy fix.  Leather may require other modifications.  Always something to keep in mind when you buy a holster.

In the next article, I’ll get into learning to shoot the laser grips.