Alton Serling & Money.

What does Alton Serling’s death have to do with money?

Well get to that.

First, lets start with the tale of another black man with a gun.

Me.

Im in a stack. Which is a weird term for five people with guns , lined up against a stone wall bracing for the Unknown.

Its time.

The first one rolls into the room. As per training, I follow as Man #2.
Its hot.
Hot and still. Like the kind of stillness I felt as a kid ,during the long stretch of time before Dad came home on Report Card Day.

I clear the room on the right. Lots of furniture, lots of places for trouble to come out from.
Maybe the suspect’s hiding in the next corner. My mind turns to the various ways I’d be killed; maybe the suspect is hiding behind a wall where he’ll cap me as I cross the doorway. Maybe he’d wait until I came into a dark room before riddling me with rounds.

Barricaded with a gun, the dispatch brief said. The phrase imparted both too much info & and not enough at the same time.

No time for those thoughts, not now. Folks were depending on me.

“CLEAR”. I yell as per protocol.

The other team members clear their rooms. No shots fired. No orders given.
I think maybe we’ve dodged a bullet.
But there’s one room left.

And its dark.

I go in, gun drawn. Why doesn’t this thing have NIGHT SIGHTS????!!!!

The lights come on.

“GET ON THE GROUND!!!”

Time slows down.
My teammate has the suspect. But he’s not putting down the gun.

“GET ON THE GROUND!!”
He’s not doing it. Not at all. Rather then getting on the ground and making our day’s easier, he’s advancing on my teammate. His own gun is drawn, but said teammate was walking backward.

Im giving him time. Remember your training, come on. ACT!

The suspect advances into danger close distance.
Shit.

Takeup….press….

The Glock 17 barks twice. I aim for the head next when I remember very suddenly that this was a TRAINING exercise…..and shooting the local SWAT Commander in the face with a sim gun would be VERY rude.

He announces the safe word, and the exercise is concluded.

Note carefully that for many brave men and women near you, the above is not merely a conclusion to a six month class on Police Procedures. It is their life’s work.

Every day, 8+ hours during each shift, frequently seven days a week.

That sort of stress is not something a typical American experiences even momentarily.
The people who look at a police shooting with the attitude that deadly force is always excessive aren’t necessarily malicious. They simply dont realize the daily reality police officers face in the course of their duties.

They view the event through their own life experiences, and most law abiding folks don’t have to fight people and search for armed , hostile attackers multiple times in a week.

As such, most folks are just plain unaware of what police deal with. Which results in this national craze of “Racist Cops Shooting Black People”.

Like most national crazes, this one is about money. We’ve established that most public members of the nation don’t experience violence most street cops deal with on a daily basis.
It breeds an information vaccum which ambitious media members fill with good sound bytes about “Cops Killing Black People”.Lacking education on what cops really deal with and only seeing a video of a bleeding black man , people jump to the only conclusion they can based on the data they have-which is that cops are systematically assaulting minorities.

More average people join the bandwagon as it gains social steam, and the feedback loop increases.

As a black man who’s been carrying for the last 5 years, I can safely say no officer i’ve encountered has been anything but civil and nice to me during the interactions. In two cases I was actually cut a break by the responding cop ,one of which involved a street racing incident so reckless even I admit I royally deserved a trip to jail.

In fact many officers are more compassionate about the nature of ethnic strife then anyone else in the government is likely to be, because they see it day in and day out like the residents do.

Unlike the state governor, the cheif social worker, or the deputy cheif of police all of whom are isolated from the street by offices and political authority,the street cop who stops you for speeding may have spent more time in the ghetto then one may think. The systemic issues behind why minorities are worse off economically and politically are both beyond the scope of THIS post, and beyond the powers of a uniformed officer to resolve.

All of this is to say- dont buy the bullshit being sold on TV and the media around you.
Use your head. Take a course in armed self defense, EVEN if you hate firearms and weapons.Dont assume that a video tells the whole story. Context matters.

Because Alton Serling’s death wasn’t just a tragedy for both the cops forced to kill him and the family who’s lost a loved one. Alton Serling’s death represented a profit opprotunity for thousands of media outlets nationwide needing a story to sell. It also represented a chance for academics unused to producing real work to turn a real life tragedy into an imaginary social cause for edifying their own careers.

Alton Serling’s blood on the pavement translated to real dollars in the pockets of folks who’d just as soon make the entirety of America a national ghetto if it boosted ratings -and thus the share value of their media firms.

Even if you’re the kind of person who has ethical issues killing a mosquito, being educated in armed self defense and the laws thereof can’t hurt you. Knowing the truth is the first step in changing our society from one that sways with the media-sold wind , from one informed enough to be worthy to exercise the rights the same society holds and cherishes so dear.

As the Bible says; people perish for lack of knowledge. Dont be one of them.

Competition, and Handgun Shooting.

I’ll do something no one else on the internet has ever done-comment on two subjects they only know a marginal amount about.

On a serious note however, today marks an important personal milestone-I shot my first USPSA match, ever.

More importantly, I had fun doing it. I wasn’t treated like an outsider or some oddity of nature by the folks attending, but as another individual worthy of being given a chance to step to the starting box.Their example of welcoming my newbie self -dumb questions and all (what’s a procedural?) – was as noble as it was thourough , and is a credit to the shooting community. You guys (and gals!) know who you are.

That brings me to what this post is about- competition shooting as a vehicle to intro newbies.

Often when the subject of gun ownership is broached to new shooters, the first viewpoint offered is the Mega Serious One- “Self Defense” and all the boogeymen that nasty subject entails, legal and moral alike. Without getting lost in the philosophical weeds, let’s just stick to basic generalities. Like the fact many people will not now be or ever become comfortable with taking a human life under any circumstances.

If the barrier of entry into the shooting sports is a long, serious speech about “Sheepdogs vs Sheep vs Wolves” and putting “bodies on the floor” , to use a turn of phrase, the shooting sports will never gain proper traction. It would be akin to Toyota advertising pickup trucks with a long advert on “surviving car accidents and injury preparedness”. Yes, a crash may happen. But automakers don’t lead their advertising with that fact, despite driving a car being a common way most of us end up in the hospital.

We need to make the public aware of how accessible and fun gun ownership can be. Even in anti-gun jurisdictions, owning a pistol/rifle/shotgun and using it in competition isn’t an inordinately expensive activity (although it sure can be in the advanced shooting categories!). By starting with the fun aspect, we can neutralize the anti-gun stigma firearms ownership tends to invoke.

Further, its a concept the opposition can’t credibly oppose. Everyone regardless of gender or personal politics understands the benign nature of sports and athleticism. Few understand the grueling necessity and gut-wrenching effects of necessary violence in personal defense.

I know which concept we should use to expand gun ownership to the masses , and it sure ain’t the last one.

Selling Gun Ownership : Culture

As I type this now, in a Sioux Falls South Dakota cafe , there’s a small crowd of well dressed people walking down the street, dresses and suit jackets flowing in the not-inconsiderable wind.

Believe it or not, this is atypical behavior for this state. Show up to your typical South Dakota wedding in a suit, and you’ll be either moderately or extremely overdressed on occasion. Showing up to a Chicago wedding in a mere “suit” would be a slight against the couple.

No , i’m not taking ad money from Bridal Magazine. My point is simple-culture matters.

Culture , in day to day reality, is that unwritten series of social rules by which an area operates on. Sometimes these social codes of conduct have factual basis – example, big pickups are unpopular in Southern California because practically speaking they’re a pain to park in crowded cities. They’re conversely almost a social totem in the rural Midwest and South, used like vehicular statues proclaiming their owner’s prowess -or perhaps only a monument to personal insecurity combined with credit card debt.

In any event, rural folks dont worry about street parking or merging in six lane congestion, so bigger trucks are a practical vehicle choice .

Firearms , like cars and clothes, aren’t immune to the social rules of human behavior. Why it is acceptable to own an AR15 in North Dakota and not so in New York State has less to do with fact , and more to do with entrenched cultures.

The way it works -guns are restricted in a given pro-gun urban area to a limited extent, say minor licensing.

People who live there forget about life before Gun Law X was passed, at which point whatever restriction was last enacted becomes the “New Normal”. The next politican or community activist suggests a stronger law in its place, that law passes , then 5 years or more down the road it too becomes the “New Normal”.

On and on it goes, until you get Great Britian.

I learned this dynamic from an unexpected source. When my grandfather passed, military commitments kept me from paying my respects. Months later when I could take leave, mom filled me in on his life history. As it so happened, Illinois at that time was a relatively conservative state gun-wise.

Granddad kept a 30-30 lever gun in the house , defending the home his job at the Kenosha American Motors plant paid for. No stinkin’ IDs or background checks either- he’d regularly take mom and my uncle shooting at the nearby quarry.

That was in the 1960s . If you’re reading this , you’re likely familiar enough with modern day Illinois regulations to know that’d be totally illegal today .

Because of the gradual nature of this cultural change from pro-gun to anti-gun , arguing directly against its adherents can take on a religious fervor. That’s because Gun Control is likely the only cultural background someone in such a place knows. When a person says being an anti is foolish, its not critiquing the argument-its criticising that individuals very culture. It may be perhaps two or three generations before you’d find a gun owner in a modern day native NYC or LA resident’s family tree.

We won’t be making any lasting changes going down that route.

I submit, what must be done is literally counter-cultural.

We must give the modern generation relateable reasons to consider gun ownership, and ones totally independent of the Constitution, morality, religion, or the color of the current majority US political party.

If we keep insulting the people we need to back us in the polls, the end result will be a nation of rural gun owners being governed by a voting majority of city people who associate gun ownership with the Ford Edsel and Dwight Eisenhower.

Selling Gun Ownership-Necessity.

To understand why I’m going to say the following, some background is in order.

Did your Ma and Pa sit down in front of the fireplace, and review the pertinent details of gun ownership and the importance thereof?

Mine didn’t.

It took a public sector job with the United States Air Force and an attendant trip to Kelly Base Range for my first exposure to guns, at the ripe young age of 23. Prior to that, i’d grown up in Chicago-where gang bangers kill each other almost as fast as the news can blame it on the NRA.

The culture in one of the most anti-gun areas in America is, unsurprisingly, hostile to weapons. Its one of the few common cultural ties in the area. A gang banger’s mother from the rough side of Englewood , a Highland Park IL socialite, and a middle class schoolteacher won’t share much-but they’re likely to share a disspassionate dislike of firearms.

My own family was no different in this area. As such, I came to the People of the Gun as a latter-life convert to the cause. So when I speak about marketing gun ownership to anti’s, it is not from an academic background.

The first place to start is necessity.

In major urban areas -Chicago among them- the only practical use of a gun is the most extreme. Not many deer trample through State Street and Wacker Drive, as it were. Further, 911 really is just a phone call away, and urban areas tend to have massive police agencies with a visible public presence.

In the country ,the necessity of a firearm is much less esoteric.
Most rural parts of America don’t have a deep law enforcement presence. When the local Sheriffs department has 8 people covering 150+ square miles of territory , and they’re operating on a shoestring budget at that, Joe Public in Ruralville USA doesn’t need an active imagination to realize the utility of a Glock in the cupboard. 911? If your device even has consistent service to start with, it’ll take 10+ minutes for LE to get to your location. Out in the country, there’s no illusions against this cold fact ;whatever personal defense problem a household has is up to them to solve.

Making city folk understand this is crucial; the average law abiding soul in Big Cityville never dials 911 frequently, making them unaware of the fact that even a 5 minute response time can be 4.5 minutes too late if Mr Bad Guy is paying them a visit. We need to start with this basic premise-because discussing legalities , rules, the Constitution, or ‘Murrica before laying down this basic fact is truly putting the cart before the horse.

To sell gun ownership to the anti-gun masses, we must first start there.

Next-
Selling Gun Ownership-Gear.

Numbers Matter. Opinions Dont.

“Men lie. Women Lie. Numbers Don’t”

-Jay Z.

Even if you despise hip-hop & rap music, the above line by JayZ is no less true.

Its a relevant topic, because in human socializing there’s a common tendency to BS and exaggerate. Whether we’re talking about rap lyrics, the size of a truck engine, or the latest quarter’s earnings by an ethically challenged company cooking its financial statements, there’s the temptation to decieve and exaggerate for one’s own benefit or to appear like a “boss” in front of a crowd.

The gun world isn’t exempt from this social more, sadly.

My goal in using practical analytics to improve my shooting isn’t strictly to help GardoneVT hit the target faster and more accurately. Its hopefully to chart a better way for folks across the country to improve besides bringing a box of ammo to a range and winging it.

Lets take it back to Colonel Jeff Cooper. If you don’t know who that is, please ask Google and come back. No gun owner should be ignorant of his name and contributions.

Why? Because before Col. Jeff Cooper, there wasn’t a civilian accessible training industry to speak of. Sure there was the FBI and various government shooting academies, but they were public agent accessible only and , being institutions, were not free of internal bias and politics. In short-Jeff Cooper broke open the knowledge logjam and made advanced firearm skill acessible to the Ordinary Joe.

Sadly, there’s no shortage of unsafe and bogus charlatains out there huslting lies instead of teaching people viable firearms methods and techniques. Stopping that is practically impossible-unlike other industries with regulatory bodies , there’s an active subset of the US government which seeks to end gun ownership in this country. That political bloc will have no qualms using a Firearms Instructors Oversight Agency as a fulcrum to ban nationwide gun instruction by attrition.

So, the practical counter to avoiding the hucksters is individual, measured improvement. This is not to say that proper outside instruction isn’t necessary-in fact its critical for outside oversight to ensure errors are not being perpetuated which the shooter doesn’t know they’re doing. But that outside instruction must also be balanced with internal measurement and calculation of one’s own performance with one’s own gear on one’s own resources.

Because in the field, thats exactly what all of us will have to rely on in the Terrible Moment-our own performance, and at whatever level it really is. For the sake of our own safety and that of our families, we should work to ensure our performance is charted and evaluated as accurately as possible.

That means using numbers. Because when the flag flies, marketing copy and bro-manship ego won’t save you.

Blackhawk! SERPA is a Safety Hazard.

For those unable to watch the above video, it depicts the normal results of operating the SERPA: the users trigger finger ends up in the gun’s trigger guard.

This is not a holster, any more then a Honda Accord without a front hood on chopped factory shocks and boosted with an un-tuned 125 shot Nitrous on the stock engine internals is a racecar. It is a timebomb waiting for a place to happen and a person to happen to.

The guy in the above video isn’t a rank amateur, either. If the host of Guns and Ammo TV ends up violating one of the 4 Rules on camera using this product (as it is unworthy of the name “holster”) ,safe to say most of us will too.

Now lets assume you, dear reader, have more experience then most law enforcement agencies and instructors who’ve rightfully banned the use of this abortive product. Assuming you have superior skill under fire and stress, why would you use a retention device with a demonstrated history of not only encouraging negligent discharges, but also fails when exposed to soil and debris in a way which traps the pistol?

A message to fellow range safety officers and LE range staff-I implore you to do the best you can to advocate these holsters are banned from your facility. Blackhawk is a company, so their directive is the bottom line and not customer safety (else they’d discontinue or heavily redesign this abortive thing).Its up to us to get the word out and up the chains of our site and agency managers to have this hazard removed. If people can’t use these things in any class or range near them and ask why, word of mouth will spread and this will either be discontinued or redesigned into a less hazardous form.

An Essay on Open Carry.

It was a Tuesday night. Usually Tuesdays in this midwest college town were sleepy affairs, especially at the office I worked at after school.

This one was going to be a memorable one, and for the wrong reasons. At the time I worked in wireless sales; so I wore business attire and sold overpriced electronics. I don’t know what it was about my store which provoked a man into walking into it with an openly carried Rock Island Armory 1911 Tactical, but he nevertheless did so.

Immediately the mood in the store changed. My customer, a husband watching me program his wife’s new iPhone, started keeping a wary eye on the guy. The Rock Island bearer was an overweight, excessively bearded man whose wife wore a look of practiced resignation as she carried their kid through the store. Given that I was 50% of the available staff and my coworker was himself occupied, this meant the newcomers had to wait for service.

The entire time ,I’m keeping a closer eye on his weapon then I am the work i’m doing. And I don’t care. I only take my attention away breifly once I see its carried hammer down, which mean he’d have to fumble-fuck with the gun if harm was intended.

This fact was lost on my customers, who were so upset that they followed up with the corporate office on the matter. While I didn’t personally answer for the fact that the business was disrupted by the Open Carrier’s presence, his actions nevertheless were not interpreted by anyone there as a “RKBA act of activism”.

This is the basic fact so many in the “My RIGHTS” camp fail to notice. Firearms are tools of violence, a fact every layperson understands. When they see a man walk into a social area unaccustomed to public display of guns -read, everywhere not a gun range or gun shop- they immediately set the occupants on edge. Any possible activism or evangelism is obscured by the latent fact that someone with a deadly weapon and unknown intent is in the area.

As an aware shooter, seeing a harmless guy walk into my store with an openly carried -if tactically ineffective-gun was still cause for alarm. He may have been a happy go lucky family guy. Or he could decide to pull his weapon and blow away half the customers. Nowadays when ISIL is routinely shooting up civilian areas, its hard to know the difference between Harmless Open Carrier and Imminent Threat To Human Life. The average person is not going to spend time trying to sort the two out and will default to the latter.

It is that fact which makes any sort of armed open-carry “protest” a farce on its face. What the actual motivation is of the people who walk through state capitols with gas masks and slung AKMs is beyond my time and patience to determine here. What I can state confidently is that its NOT helping.

Open carry has a place, to be sure.

Let it not be said that the entire practice is some evil sin equivalent to firearms incest. As you can see at the top of this post, I have my trusty Beretta locked into a Safariland retention leg holster. This is not done because i’m trying to be the firearms equivalent of a Mormon evangelist-the range I work at mandates yellow safety vests be worn when on duty. Said vests SEVERELY compromise a concealed carry draw, and an open carry holster in the traditional belt position only acts as a shelf for the polyester safety vest.Attempting to draw from a regular belt holster openly worn results in a handful of safety vest being grabbed along with the pistol.
The drop leg places the gun low enough to clear the yellow safety vest and thus permit an unimpeded draw.

That’s it. I’ll never wear it in a public space outside of the range I RSO at, and as soon as I leave the building its coming off. Not just because of tactical matters, or the law ( open carry in public is legal here) or because I’m somehow afraid to show the weapon and evangelize the RKBA. I take it off because rights cannot be exercised without responsibility, and we have a duty as law abiding gun owners to not only exercise the RKBA-but to do so in a socially responsible manner.

That is how we accomplish RKBA activism. Not with gas masks and AKMs in the Subway line, but responsible exercise of our rights.

-GardoneVT.

Putting In Work.

I didn’t want to dryfire this morning.

Nope. The next episode of “Longmire” beckoned like a siren, loading mags with snap caps and strapping on a holster seemed to be a major and unnecessary pain in the rear, and besides all that it was Valentines Day. So the girlfriend naturally had my day planned like a head of state. No motorcade, unfortunately.

Yet , dry fire I did. It was a choice I wish I could box up and take to the range I work at, so that all who see me shoot aren’t impressed at my live fire performance, but are instead impressed by the work it took to get here. It would also vindicate the verbal dispute I had with my signifigant other on the issue.

Alas this is not to be, because we are a visual society optimized for “get results quick”. In reality, good or bad results aren’t quick. People don’t get fat overnight-so why would we expect a pill to turn people thin overnight? True financial wealth isn’t built overnight either, and neither is debt. So why would we expect a get rich quick scheme to work?

When I go to the gun range I see much discussion about the size, caliber, holster, and nature of what guys and gals own and shoot. Very little is said about putting in work to attend classes, dry fire with a plan, and to practice using measured methods.
Which to an extent saddens me, because that’s how we get better at anything in life. Without putting in work, we will not improve. Whether its money, food,the Olympics or firearms.

Chronicles of Derp , The Sequel.

I visited a local, brand new gun range expecting a speedy range check in and excellent counter service like last time.

Instead I learned the hard way that the frequent stock firm ad disclaimer of “Past Performance is No Guarantee of Future Equivalents” has merit outside of finance.

“Whatcha shootin today” drawled the counter guy.

‘Oh, just a Beretta 92’. was my casual response.

“Aww man, I HATE those things. I know i’ve been told they’re stupid reasons (DANGER WILL ROBINSON!) , but I just gotta show ya.”

He then proceeds to retrieve the M9A1 rental gun in the case.

“They end up doing THIS!”

He inserts an empty mag into the slide locked rental pistol as fast as he can. The slide remains open.

“Well, it didn’t do it this time” he re-inserts the magazine into the gun a second time. It refuses to drop. Perhaps the pistol was itself sick of the show, as on the third try he gets the M9A1 to auto-forward.

“See? THEYLL DO THAT. And I don’t think its safe when a gun does that. The pistol could SLAM FIRE. I’ve seen it happen. ”

That’s right. A gun store employee believes a Beretta 92FS can slam fire if the slide is dropped on a loaded chamber.

“Now, see , this pistol I just bought recently is MUCH safer.”

I feel like im in a traffic jam on the freeway, and i’ve turned a corner to discover the congestion goes all the way to the horizon. The hope drains from my soul as he hands me the following pistol.

Common Sense Not Included.

Its a beat up FMK 9mm, complete with Bill of Rights inscriptions. I safety check the pistol , at which point I discover the gun will not lock open on an empty magazine.

“Oh, that’s just because someone dropped the magazine on the ground once. Its actually a quality handgun you know. $300 , and its MADE IN AMERICA!”

So was the M9A1 he just called unsafe ten minutes prior, but even the President once said we had 51 states. No one’s perfect , eh?

“That’s one reason why I like it. The money stays in AMERICA, with only American workers. Did you know they’re based in California?”

‘Interesting. Is that still considered part of the United States?’ I answered.

“Yeah, they’re a little left of common sense out there. But yeah, every gun they sell is made right here and the money stays here. Its not like Glock where the money goes to Germany (???) or Italy (he gestures to the cased M9A1).”

It was at this point I bid a hasty walk to the range door.
I wonder if Amazon sells a Derp detecting Geiger Counter device? If not,its a great business opprotunity.
Perhaps a clicking yellow box marked “Radioactive Bullshit ” being pointed at someone might motivate them to think before they speak.

Baseline, Part 1.

Session 1 Screenshot

Time to get serious folks. No more eyelballin’, Kentucky Windage, “Gun Feels Good In My Hand” busted heuristics here. At this here blog, we use numbers and data to make decisions.

Much like the rest of the world does every day, actually. It may seem like i’m mocking the rest of my shooting peers saying this, but think about it. How long would someone working at Apple, Microsoft, or US Steel have a job if they went to their boss and said the reason behind their workplace decisions was “it felt good at the time?”

Or “I heard a guy at Firm X uses this system, so I decided we should too”

Or “The local government uses this technique, so I thought it’d be good here too.”

They’d be on Monster.com before the boss’ blood pressure meds kicked in. So it goes here. Note that the gravity of those business & organizational choices only affects the profits or functional ability of those institutions-much less the personal safety , health, and very life of an individual and their family. If deciding which machine to use next year at the factory isn’t left to personal opinion , why should our firearms choices be so cavalierly evaluated when literal lives are at stake?

By no means is data analysis and collection a silver bullet; incorrect conclusions and flawed data gathering can still snarl the works. But the choices I make vis-a-vis my firearms will not be based on the shaky folk tales one finds at the local range counter.

As such , i’ll be completeing a statistical evaluation of my personal shooting status using 31 executions of the Pistol-Training.com FAST drill. The first series of 10 runs are pictured above with computed data. Its just the first set, so the only thing to do now is to go shoot and see what the data says.