Monday, December 29, 2014

2014 is almost gone.

It's been interesting.  Sadly, I've not had as much to say here as I would have liked.  I find myself typically putting what I'd say here into a Facebook post because I can do it from my phone instead of cracking open the 'puter.

I turned 30 two weeks ago.  My best friend threw a Vegas themed party for me since I wasn't able to make it to Vegas this year like I had wanted too.  Life got in the way.

Thoughts on 30.  It doesn't feel like I expected, not that I'm sure what I expected.  Honestly birthdays have not been a big deal to me for a while now.  They're more just a way of marking another year on this rock.  I feel like I've still got a lot of living to do, and maybe that I should have done more living in my 20s.  Shrug.

I bought myself a new vehicle not long ago to replace the beat to hell Chevy Impala I've been driving for most of the last 11 years.  It's nice having something that has a working radio, heater, and A/C.  And it's nice having a truck.  I picked up a 2012 Dodge Ram 1500 4 door for those interested.  I like it quite a lot.  Having to finance it was not so fun, but I'll survive.

I've seriously neglected my shooting this last year.  That's something I really plan on working on in 2015.  I've got no excuse except sheer laziness.  I shot a match a couple of weeks ago and got my ass handed to me.  I need to do better.  I still enjoy the hell out of it when I actually get out there and do it, so I need to.

I've been spending a lot of time at my favorite cigar shop.  I've made a lot of friends there and it's nice to have a place I can find a regular card game.  I've been playing in weekly poker tournaments for most of the last year now.  That's been a lot of fun, and I've won a few.

2014 went quick, but I can't say it was a bad year.  I was able to do a lot of things I've wanted to do for a long time and I'm glad I did.  2015 should be an even better year.  I'm already planning a few road trips and looking forward to shooting IDPA regularly again.

There should be plenty of good times to come.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Robert's Picks


Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz

Stone of Tears by Terry Goodkind (very good)

Blood of the Fold by Terry Goodkind (good)

Dune by Frank Herbert (always and forever excellen)

The Gray Man by Mark Greaney (good)


After Earth

Young Frankenstein (good)

Blazing Saddles (very good)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Taurus has done it again!

I love it when a product comes out that will make it easy for me to spot a dumb ass.

I can't wait to hear Michael Bane defend this one.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Robert's Picks


The Black Echo by Michael Connelly (good)

Darkship Renegades by Sarah Hoyt (good)

Wizard's First Rule by Terry Goodkind (excellent)


Thor: The Dark World (good)

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (very good)

In Bruges (good)

D'Jango Unchained

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Robert's Picks

Live Free or Die by John Ringo (good)

On Combat by Dave Grossman and Loren W. Christensen (very good)

Citadel by John Ringo (good)

The Hot Gate by John Ringo (good)

Barrayar by Lois McMaster Bujold (good)

Patton: The Man Behind The Legend, 1885-1945 by Martin Blumenson (good)

Storm Front by Jim Butcher

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Robert's Picks


Trial by Fire by Charles Gannon (very good)

American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur 1880-1964 by William Manchester (good)

Man On Fire by A.J. Quinnell (good)

Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold (good)


Guardians of the Galaxy (good)

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Why Alabama Amendment 3 would strengthen gun rights, and why it will probably fail to be adopted.

There is a proposed Amendment to the Alabama Constitution that seeks to strengthen the right to keep and bear arms in the state.  The Amendment, which will appear on the next ballot as Amendment 3, would:
Amendment 3
If approved by voters, the constitution would be amended to explicitly "provide that every citizen has a fundamental right to bear arms and that any restriction on this right would be subject to strict scrutiny." Additionally, it would "provide that no international treaty or law shall prohibit, limit or otherwise interfere with a citizen's fundamental right to bear arms."[1]
Sounds good, right?  I certainly think so.  However, gun rights groups in Alabama are coming out against it because...'reasons.' At best the objections to the amendment seem to be that most Alabamians concerned about gun rights do not have a clue about how bills are passed into law,how they can be challenged in court, or how the courts can judge whether or not those laws are Constitutional.  

The NRA has supported similar laws in other states, and Louisiana and more recently Missouri have adopted similar measures.  This is what the NRA had to say about Missouri's recent adoption of a similar amendment:

The passage of the amendment makes Missouri the second state to explicitly require strict scrutiny as the standard of review in all cases involving the right to keep and bear arms.  In 2012, Louisiana became the first state to do so when voters approved a referred constitutional amendment.  Strict scrutiny is the most stringent standard of review used by U.S. courts when a law burdens constitutionally protected conduct.  For a challenged law to survive strict scrutiny, the government must show: (1) the law is justified by a compelling governmental interest, (2) the law is narrowly tailored to achieve that interest, and (3) the law is the least restrictive means of achieving that interest.  
The importance of requiring strict scrutiny in cases that burden the right to arms is exemplified by current gun rights litigation in lower federal courts.  The United States Supreme Court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller did not clearly specify a standard of review for lower courts to use in Second Amendment cases.  This has led many lower courts to employ a weak “balancing” test, often referred to as “intermediate scrutiny,” when evaluating Second Amendment claims.  Under this lower standard, a number of gun control laws that burden ordinary, law-abiding citizens have been upheld by lower courts.  By requiring strict scrutiny in their constitutional provision, the people of Missouri have ensured that Missouri courts will give gun-control measures the most intensive review available and require the state to meet the highest possible threshold in justifying firearm regulation.

You would think Alabamians would be all for strengthening gun rights in Alabama, but there seems to be a lot of ignorant hysteria surrounding the proposed amendment.  Just a few examples:

Ben VanDortrecht There is a loophole! What is considered the "and that any restriction on this right would be subject to strict scrutiny" That leaves it open to the Legislature and their SCRUTINY!! Strict or strictest!!

Joshua Cassity I will be voting NO... this open the doors to Pandora's Box in regards to who determines the "strict scrutiny" .

Shawn Cunningham There should be NO restrictions... NO scrutiny... Period.

Jay Mize Ever heard of unintended consequences??!! Well that's exactly how this amendment will turnout!!!

Constitution Party of Alabama Under "strict scrutiny" anyone associated with the Constitution Party is a threat to the establishment and your right to gun ownership is forbidden. The HSA already list our party as a domestic patriot group.

Under "strict scrutiny" you have a pro-life bumper sticker, this could be alarm you may harm an abortion doctor. 

Under "strict scrutiny" you have come out publicly against common core, could they use this to deem you a threat to a school official or maybe choosing alienating your child from public schools is reason to deny your fundamental right.

I'm as much of a SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED proponent as the next person. I don't think there should be any restrictions on the Second Amendment and I think the Amendment makes that clear with those four words.  But centuries of courts and legislatures have disagreed with me.  The right to bear arms has been infringed and continues to be infringed.  That is why it is important to make it harder to do so in the future.  

Year by year we are peeling off the layers of the onion that is gun control, but if we don't put in force measures that make it difficult or impossible for those layers to grow back then we are just fighting a losing battle.  All of the work that organizations like the NRA and the Second Amendment Foundation have put into fighting for gun rights can be undone with the stroke of a pen in the Whitehouse or a single Supreme Court decision if we don't do everything we can to set up roadblocks in the way of antigun legislation on its way to those lofty heights.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

On The Range #98: IDPA Classifier

Today, thanks to only working a half day, I was able to shoot an IDPA Classifier.  It's been over two years since I shot my last classifier so I was way over do.  You can find a description of the classifier here.

In a nutshell, it's three stages with multiple strings of fire in each stage.  You do a little bit of everything, including shooting strong and weak hand, using cover, performing reloads, and shooting on the move.

I decided to shoot in both SSP and CDP.  I'd previously classified in SSP with my Glock 17, which I shot with today.  In CDP I shot my RIA 1911.

My final score with the Glock was just over 144.  This would put me in Marksman territory except you can not drop a class so I remain classified as a Sharpshooter in SSP.  This is to keep people from sandbagging and dominating in a classification. It's a good rule, just not for me.  I would be competitive as a Marksman in SSP, but as a Sharpshooter I'm damn near dead last every time.  That's kind of disheartening.  I only classified SS by about a half second when I previously shot the classifier.

Oh, well. It gives me something to work towards.  I need to really work on my shooting at greater than 10 yards and working with multiple targets.

In CDP I classified as a Marksman.  I'm happier with this as I fell about midway in the Marksman range. I may shoot CDP more than SSP this year just because I'll be more competitive in that division for the time being.  I'd really prefer to purchase another .45 1911, though.

Anyway, it was a fun day all in all.  I helped keep score part of the time which made things go by quicker between shooting.  I'll have to consider it in the future.

Honestly, I just need to shoot more matches.  It's been extremely difficult for me to get to any of the big club level matches since they are all held on Saturdays and I usually work weekends.  I'll reach five years at my current employer next spring and that'll give me 120 total hours of vacation time.  I'm thinking of devoting 40 hours of that to shooting Saturday matches (assuming I don't manage to get a weekend off by then).

My bread and butter have been the Thursday night matches at Brock's Gap Training Center in Hoover, AL, but those have been put on indefinite hold and I really hadn't been taking advantage of them this year anyway.

If nothing else I think I'm going to be devoting a lot of range time to shooting at 10 yards and shooting multiple targets, as well as shooting on the move.  Now, just to get of this 60 hour a week work schedule so that I actually have the time and energy to do it!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

On The Range #97: Shootrite Firearms Academy Defensive Handgun, Day 2

Day 2 of Shootrite's Defensive Handgun course began at 8;30AM on the Shootrite range.

We started out with a discussion of the importance of practice, and specifically dry practice.  Practice does not have to be shooting.  You can practice draws, dry reloads, sight alignment, and trigger control without ever sending a round down range.  You can learn more from dry practice because you will focus on the details and performing every action as close to perfect as you are capable of doing it.  As Tiger McKee said, "You'll never be perfect, but you can strive to be excellent."

On the firing line Tiger had us do a mental exercise with the goal being to come up with an instant response.  First he asked us to answer a difficult math problem.  When no one answered but instead started to think about it he told us we didn't need a perfect answer, but an immediate one.  He then started asking us individually a rapid fire list of questions with the goal of getting an instant appropriate response.  For example, if asked your favorite color, movie, or food he was expecting an instant response in the correct category.  Blue should not be your favorite food, nor pizza your favorite color.

The idea here is that when presented with a threat you want to act in such a way as to force that threat to react to you, instead of reacting to the threat yourself.  This was a recurring theme of the course.

We picked up where we had left off on Day 1 with movement.  Starting dry we practiced moving to the right and left on the firing line.  When moving right or left, the right leg leads right and the left leg leads left.

After we had moving dry down we added in the draw.  As we moved either right or left we would draw our pistols out to either low ready or on target to the threat.  We were encouraged to do this very slowly, focusing on doing everything consistently and correctly.

Next we moved into live fire. On command we would step left or right while completing a draw, give commands to the threat, and if not obeyed (cardboard just won't listen!) we would 'gain compliance with accurate shots.'  We would then scan our surrounding for additional threats while slowing working our pistols back into our holsters.

While scanning it was very important to actually see, not just glance around.  The details matter. The instructors would ask us questions about things they had been doing with their hands or objects they had been holding to make sure we were actually paying attention as we scanned around.

We continued live fire for a while, taking breaks to reload.  We worked on transitioning our fire to places other than center mass like the pelvic zone or head.

We took a morning break and afterwards moved into a discussion of malfunctions and malfunction clearances.

Malfunction clearances are a part of functional (combative) manipulations.  They need to be performed immediately.  It is important to practice them slowly and consistently, so that you will do them correctly in a fight.

Tiger likes to put malfunction clearances in simple terms.  To handle them you either need to load the gun or unload then load the gun.  "If I press the trigger and it doesn't go bang I need to load the pistol. If that doesn't work I need to unload it and then load it."  This makes sense if you remember his method for both loading and unloading a pistol.

He explained clearing the three common malfunctions:

Type 1 Malfunction:
You press the trigger and the gun does not fire, you get a click
1. Finger off the trigger
2. Tap the magazine to ensure it is properly seated
3. Aggressively cycle the slide to load

Type 2 Malfunction/Stovepipe:
You press the trigger and the gun does not fire, trigger may or may not be reset, you'll generally see the brass or round that failed to eject.
1. Finger off the trigger
2. Tap the magazine
3. Cycle slide aggressively to clear the brass and load a round

Type 3 Malfunction/Double Feed
You press the trigger and get a dead trigger
1. Finger off the trigger
2. Tap the magazine
3. Cycle the slide aggressively AND IT WILL NOT CYCLE
4. Strip the magazine and retain it in the pinky finger of the strong hand
5. Cycle the slide three times very aggressively
6. Load the magazine and cycle the slide to load a round

We practiced clearing all three types of malfunctions live.  For Type 1 malfunctions we used dummy rounds.  We broke up into pairs for Type 2 and 3 malfunctions and had the non-shooter either place spent brass in the ejection port or drop a live round into the chamber to set up a double feed.

I've never practiced malfunctions clearances much so this was fairly new to me.  I think it was well worth the time and I plan on working on it in my own practice.

After this we took a lunch break, again at the South Sauty Cafe.  Again, the bacon cheeseburger. Because it IS that good.

After lunch Tiger told us that things had gone very well so far and as a result we were going to get into some things that normally aren't covered in this particular course.

We broke up into two groups.  Half of us (my group) went with Tiger to another part of the range set up with a long wall of different types of cover and some steel torso targets.  The other half went with Tiger's co-instructor to the area where we had been doing our shooting so far.

With Tiger we worked on using cover while shooting.  The big thing here for me was learning to slow down.  Everything in IDPA is done using cover but also in a rush.  The idea here was to shoot the threat, scan the environment, then move looking for other threats along the wall we were using.  This was where I had the most fun in the course because it was very similar to the run and gun games I like.

Early on when we started on the live fire I asked if I should shoot on the move, or move and then shoot. Tiger said that if cover is just a few steps away that it would, in his opinion, generally be better to get behind cover and shoot from a stable stance than to potentially have a miss just to get a shot off quickly.

One thing that Tiger teaches that I had been told to do in IDPA but ignored was to reload while keeping your gun and eyes on your target rather than to get back behind cover.  I had figured that the IDPA way was a good way to catch a bullet.  Tiger pointed out that keeping your eyes on the target was a good idea because then they could not move without you knowing where they were going. There was a caveat, "Incoming rounds always have the right of way."

When using cover we were taught to expose the least amount of our body as possible to locate, identify, and if necessary engage the threat.  Tiger recommended using mirrors to practice this in the home.

Next the two groups switched and my group went with Tiger's co-instructor, Matt.  With Matt we worked on two things, moving backwards and blind malfunctions clearances.

First we worked on moving back dry.  We started with a step, and then two to three steps at a time. Matt had us move over a lot of different terrain, even into brush and up a slope just so we could see out obstacles that you can't see can be very difficult to handle and tend to seem larger than they actually are when you have only your feet to sense them.  We also worked on moving while keeping our sights on target.  This is probably one of the more difficult things to do.  I've actually got a lot of practice shooting while moving back thanks to IDPA and Frank Proctor's Performance Handgun course.

We culminated our live fire by starting close and then shooting while moving back about 15-20 yards.  The goal here was to show us that our shooting would start fast, but that as we moved further back we would have to slow down to keep getting good hits and eventually we would reach a point where we would have to stop shooting.  The stop point would be different for everyone but it's a good thing to know about yourself.

After finishing up with moving back we took a short break for a drink and ammo, then moved back to the firing line for blind malfunction clearances.  Matt had us draw and deck our pistols.  Then we would take a few steps and turn our backs while he set up a malfunction on each of our guns.  He asked that even if it were obvious to treat it as if we didn't know what the issue was.

On command we turned, retrieved our gun from the ground, and then engaged a threat target with 2-3 rounds.  I had to clear every type of malfunction, and even a new one.  One time when I picked up my pistol everything seemed fine, but when I fired the magazine fell out.  This required a reload and was to simulate not seating a magazine correctly and it getting jarred out when firing.  Good times.

Finally, we wrapped up our range time and headed back to the classroom for a discussion on tactics and the legality of armed self defense.

Tiger told us it is important to pay attention to what is going on around us and that if faced with a threat we should first try to get away, second maximize our distance between ourselves and the threat, and third minimize ourselves as targets and use cover.  He again emphasized making our threat respond to us by taking immediate action.

Then he got into the legalities.  In general, in order to defend yourself with lethal force the threat you are faced with must display the intent, have the ability, means, and opportunity to cause grave bodily harm or death to you or anyone you have the right to defend.

For instance, a person with a bat threatening your life at 50 yards probably is not an immediate threat justifying lethal force.  The same person at 20 feet, however, is because they can close that distance in less than 2 seconds.

Normally, for a person to be considered a lethal threat they must be armed.  However, disparity of force comes into play if a person or person's can bring enough force  to be a lethal threat even if they are unarmed.  Large, muscular man vs. smaller man or woman, group vs. a single person, etc.

Again, Tiger said what we had to do was problem solving at high speed.  He recommended that we ask ourselves, "If I don't use my gun now is myself, my family, or my friends facing serious bodily harm or death?"

We moved from here into a discussion of the aftermath of using lethal force in self defense.  He encouraged us to be able to articulate that we were attacked and defended ourselves and that when LEOs arrived we should immediately identify ourselves if possible and comply with all of their orders.

He recommended that when asked what happened to say "I was in fear for my life(or another's)." Don't get into a detailed discussion right after because the details can be fuzzy because of the stress of the situation.  You might experience Critical Incident Amnesia and you usually won't have complete, or as complete as possible, recall until you've gone through at least two sleep cycles.

Keep conversations with any and all authorities simple. "That person attacked me.  I want him arrested.  I will fully cooperate but I need to speak with my attorney first."  You may get questioned by multiple officers.  Always, and only, reiterate the above until you speak with your attorney.

He also said we should seriously consider consulting with an attorney and having one picked out now before any kind of incident happens.

After this discussion and some question and answer Tiger thanked us all for attending and said it was a really great class and that that was not something every class heard.  He presented us with our certificates for the course and that was that.

I really enjoyed the course.  It's a great course for anyone who wants to learn how to defend themselves with a handgun. This is a basic defensive course, but it is not for the new shooter.  An NRA First Steps Pistol course is the minimum requirement for attending but I would definitely recommend Basic Pistol.  You really need to know how to safely handle your pistol on the range with some confidence.

I plan on taking more of Shootrite's handgun courses and I hope to take some carbine courses there as well.  I will definitely be heading back!

Monday, September 8, 2014

On The Range #96: Shootrite Firearms Academy Defensive Handgun, Day 1

Shootrite Firearms Academy's Defensive Handgun course started at 8:30AM in the classroom.  Tiger McKee, the director and founder of Shootrite, started out by introducing himself and his co-instructors to the seven course attendees.  Attending were myself, three other men and three women. I was the youngest attendee, something that kind of surprised me.  I thought the fact that almost half of the course attendees were women was interesting.  Most of the attendees (at a guess) were 50+.  

Tiger started out by explaining that the overarching theme of this course was consistency.  Fast is his least favorite word.  This was a basic handgun self defense course and he wanted everyone focused on doing everything correctly every time in order to get as many good repetitions in as possible. 

Next he went into a discussion of safety.  Tiger gave an in depth discussion of the Four Rules of Firearm Safety, not just simply stating the rules but explaining why each one is important in detail. He made the point of saying, "Good guys are responsible for everything they do, and must be responsible for where every bullet goes."

One thing that I think was very important that was brought up was that you have to not only be conscious of being safe yourself, but also of the habits of others around you.  You can be doing everything right and someone can walk right in front of you. This could be your spouse in a self defense situation or someone shooting on the range next to you. Being aware of the other people around you and what they are doing is very important.

We were told that if we saw something unsafe happening that we should point it out and try to correct it.  

After the safety discussion, we moved on to a discussion of The Fight.  "Call it what you want," Tiger told us, "but self defense is a fight." Fights, he went on to say, are 90% mental.  A fight is problem solving at high speed.  

Tiger asked us when a fight starts.  For Tiger, a fight starts when he wakes up that day and acknowledges that, "Today may be the day I have to defend myself or my family from a violent attack."  The idea is to be ahead of the game so that if something happens you're not in complete denial about what is happening.  

The next topic was, when does the fight end?  We were taught that the fight ends when legal authorities arrive and secure the scene and there is no chance of anything else happening. Something that I had not considered was that it could be minutes, hours, or days before things are secured.  A natural disaster or civil unrest can mean that it can take a long time before authorities can get to you.

Tiger is a big believer in avoidance and escape.  If you can avoid a fight or escape from a situation that should always be the choice you take.  Fights are like car accidents.  They can come out of nowhere.  But if you pay attention to what is going on around you most times you can avoid a bad situation before it turns into an accident or a fight.

Next we discussed what happens to us in a fight.  We were told to be aware of stress effects such as tunnel vision, auditory exclusion, and loss of dexterity.  Tiger recommended with research this thoroughly on our own time.

Tiger explained that most confrontations happen at conversation distance.  About 50% of violent encounters involve two or more attackers.  Around 70% of violent encounters happen in low light. Another key point was that self defense confrontations happen fast, usually 3-5 seconds.  In a violent encounter people are usually familiar with each other in 80% of conflicts (the numbers are slightly higher for  women, and slightly lower for men).  

In a fight, the only thing you can control is yourself and it is better to act than to react.  You should be attempting to make your attacker react to your actions rather than react to theirs.  This is why doing something immediately is usually better than waiting.  An imperfect immediate response is better than a late perfect response.

Next we discussed the elements of marksmanship.  We shoot to stop the threat.  Shooting them in the best manner to stop them may mean that they die as a result, but killing them is not the goal.  Stopping our attacker is the goal.

Accuracy in a defensive encounter is defined by distance to and size of the target.  You need to be sure you are doing what you need to do in order for your bullets to go where you want them too.  This is why consistency is so important.  You need to know exactly where your bullet is going every time you press the trigger and doing things consistently is how that happens.

We discussed the steps of taking the shot:  Aim, hold, press, follow though.  Follow through is probably one of the most important steps because you may need to take multiple shots and follow through sets you up to be able to do so correctly.  

Tiger explained that we shouldn't get too caught up in "shooting the bullet."  That's the guns job.  Our job is to point the gun in the right direction and smoothly press the trigger  He also pointed out that speed is going to be dictated by the accuracy necessary to make good hits.  The closer you are to the target the faster you will be able to shoot.

We were taught three zones on the the body we should be aiming for in a defensive encounter.  Our primary target is center mass of the chest.  This is the largest part of the body available where we can put rounds that will stop an attack.  However, people can and do sustain damage here and keep coming.  Body armor can also be a concern.  Therefore, the secondary zone on the body Tiger advocates shooting is the pelvic area.  A lot of blood flows through this part of the body and it is a key structure needed to keep a person on their feet.  A good hit to the pelvis can put a person on the ground so that they can not stand back up.

The third zone is the central nervous system, or head shot.  Because the human skull has evolved to protect the brain this is a very difficult part of the body to attack.  Shots typically need to go into the head via the ocular canal between the eyebrows and the base of the nose.  This is why it is typically the last of the three zones to shoot at.

When shooting to stop a threat it is important to put good, accurate hits on the threat until we get the results we want.  Consistently operating the handgun is going to be extremely helpful with this.  

It's also important to remember that you are shooting at a 3D target and may need to adjust your angle of fire to get those shots where you need them.

After marksmanship we discussed firearm manipulations.  There are two types of manipulations, administrative actions and functional actions. Administrative actions are those that can be done at your discretion such as loading, unloading, and chamber or press checks.  Functional actions are those that must be performed immediately such as empty reloads and malfunction clearances.  

Any gun can and will malfunction under the right circumstances so it is important to know how to handle them and to train to handle them in action.  This was covered extensively in Day 2 of the course.

The final topic covered in the classroom was tactics. Situational and environmental awareness are the key aspects to defending oneself. Being aware of where you are and what is going on around you gives you the chance to see something that you don't like and act instead of being on the opposite end and just reacting to something that is happening to you.  

You're first goal should be to avoid and/or escape the situation.  This is the best response if it is available to you.  If not you should be trying to move (distance is your friend in a self defense scenario), communicate (force the adversary to rethink what they are doing with verbal commands), use cover, and if necessary shoot.  Any of the steps up to shooting may resolve the situation.  If they don't, you'll need to put accurate hits on the threat until they stop.  

After our discussion of tactics we took a short morning break and then headed to the range.  

The number of participants in each course at Shootrite is limited to 8.  This means each individual can get plenty of one on one coaching from the instructors.  It also means that a huge range isn't necessary. The range could have probably accommodated twice as many shooters, but with just 7 of us there was plenty of room for everyone to be on the firing line at the same time without crowding each other.

Tiger breaks up the range time with frequent short breaks.  This allows the instructors to give short lectures on what we will be doing and allows participants to load mags, re-hydrate, or grab a quick snack between time on the firing line.

We started our time on the range with a lot of dry practice.  Since the overall theme of the course is consistency we were told to focus on proper technique.  We were encouraged to go as slow as necessary to do everything correctly every time.  At no time during the two days were we rushed to finish performing a drill. 

First we discussed shooting stances.  Tiger is a believer in using what works best for you so he does not advocate once particular shooting stance over another, but rather acknowledges that you may have to shift from one to another as a fight progresses.  What he did ask we do is to maintain a good fighting stance with our foot placement and weight forward over our feet.   

Next we worked on the draw stroke and holstering.  Shootrite teaches the draw in a familiar four step process of:  1. Strong hand grips holstered pistol in preparation to draw while support hand slaps the center chest.  2. Bring pistol up into the retention position, tucked into the body but canted out so that the slide can operate without getting caught in clothing or hitting the body if extremely close quarters shooting is necessary.  Support hand remains against the chest. 3. Attain a two handed grip and begin to press out. 4. Press out to low ready if a threat is present or if you have decided you must shoot press out towards the threat until your sights come to your eyes at which point your finger should be on the trigger and taking up slack until the shot breaks.

One thing that I should mention is that Tiger also took the time to demonstrate drawing from concealment.  He offers a version of Defensive Handgun where everything is done from concealment, but in this particular course we had the option of using a cover garment or not.  For Day 1 I did not use a cover garment but used my Glock 17 in a Galco Royal Guard IWB holster.  For Day 2 I concealed my Glock 17 under a polo shirt and used a kydex DSG Alpha OWB that I typically use in IDPA matches.  

Along with the draw we also practiced working our pistols back into the holster in a slow, and safe manner.  There is no rush to get the gun back in the holster.  Tiger teaches that when a threat is gone one should return to low ready (or remain in low ready if taking aim at the threat and firing was not necessary) and scan the area for any other threats.  From low ready we were coached to slowly work the draw stroke in reverse while constantly doing a slow scan of our surrounds until we had our gun back in the holster.  It was emphasized over and over that there is never any reason to rush this process as a new threat can pop up at any time or the original threat may return.

We next worked on loading and unloading.  Loading began from low ready.  Keeping the gun in low ready and our eyes up we retrieved a magazine with our support hand and with it properly indexed (base in the palm, index finger touching the first round in the mag) we fit the flat back of the magazine to the flat back of the magazine well on the pistol.  The magazine was then firmly seated and the support hand came up to aggressively run the slide to load a round.  This is all done with the eyes up.  The only time the eyes go to the gun is to perform a visual check that a round is loaded.  

Unloading was a more involved process than I have used before.  The magazine is removed and retained in the pinky of the strong hand.  The support hand aggressively runs the slide at least three times in order to clear any loaded round, and then a visual check is performed.  The only time the eyes should come down to the pistol is when doing the visual chamber check.

Confirming clear was done by using the fingers to confirm no magazine is inserted, running the slide three times to remove any round in the chamber, and then doing a final visual check to confirm the chamber is empty.  At this point to pistol was worked back to the holster while scanning our surroundings.

As you can probably see the idea is to be able to do all of these manipulations blind so that you can keep your head up and eyes on the move looking for any potential threats.  Doing it the same way every time maintains consistency.  If you do it that way every time, you'll keep your eyes up and on the threat/s if you are performing an empty/speed reload while in a fight.

At this point we broke for lunch at a very nice local diner called the South Sauty Creek Cafe.  They make a great bacon cheeseburger.  I highly recommend it if you are taking a course or just in the Langston, AL area.

After lunch we went back to the range for some live fire practice.  Before we got into the actual live fire we did an exercise to familiarize everyone with the reset of their trigger. This was done buy breaking up into pairs, dry firing the pistol and holding the trigger all the way to the rear, and having the other person run the slide for you.  At that point you would let out the trigger until it resets in preparation for another shot.  We did this a few times until everyone got a good feel for their pistol's reset.

We moved on to shooting from the low ready.  On the command we would come up from low ready, issue verbal commands to the threat, and then assuming that failed fire the required number of rounds, being sure to take our time and work on reset.  We started with a singe shot, and then resetting the trigger.  We moved up to multiple shots.  

Live fire continued with us working under the assumption our threats were not going down and transitioning to the pelvic region or a head shot as we were instructed.  We also did some drills shooting all three zones in various order.  

As the day came to a close we were working from the holster, completing a draw, engaging our target, and then scanning our surroundings while working our pistols back to the holster.  Everything was done deliberately and slowly with the goal of performing every action consistently every time.

Something new to me was the exercise in which we performed our draw stroke as if we needed to shoot the threat, but with our eyes closed to see what our body felt like when the pistol was pointed correctly.  We did this a few times, opening our eyes after the press out to check our sights and make adjustments if necessary.  We eventually moved to live fire blind.  It was impressive to me how easy it was to get good, accurate hits at close distances.  The goal here was to show us that you don't need much in the way of sight alignment, just a flash of the front sight, to confirm you are going to make a good hit when you press the trigger.  This was the only time we actually did anything at speed because at such close distance speed really becomes important, but you have to know you can make good hits.

We closed out the day getting the basics of moving left and right (dry) before wrapping things up with a final discussion of what we had covered and why it was important.  Every repitition needs to be done correctly every time so that it becomes second nature.  In this way you are training your subconscious to do what you want it to do under stress.  You communicate with the threat.  Many times just making them aware that you are not a passive victim will cause them to back off.  If verbal commands don't work you gain compliance by getting good, accurate hits with your handgun.  Finally, using movement you get the threat to respond to your actions rather than the other way around.

And that was Day 1.  It was largely stuff that I was already familiar with from literature and other training course I've attended but there was definitely some new material and even repeating things I had done before made for a great refresher.  

Stay tuned for Day 2.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

A few notes from gun school.

Today was the second and final day of my Defensive Handgun course at Shootrite Firearms Academy.  This was a two day basic handgun self defense course.  Day 1 largely consisted of things I was already familiar with but was a very good refresher.  Day 2 was a lot of stuff I was intellectually familiar with but that I had never put into practice on the range.

I'm going to be doing a detailed post for both days of the course soon but I wanted to make a couple of quick observations.

First was that I was the youngest of the seven people attending the course.  I am 29 and the next youngest person there was 36.  Most of the attendees were 50+.  This actually kind of surprised and disappointed me.  I definitely need to recommend that some of my friends get up there.

There were three men besides me, and three women.  That was a pleasant surprise.  One of the women had just jumped into shooting after Sandyhook.  She went from being ambivalent about guns to being extremely pro gun as a direct result of the attempts to limit the Second Amendment.

There were a variety of guns.  There were three Glocks (mine, another man's, and one woman's). The other two women were shooting a S&W Shield 9mm and a Sig P250, respectively.  One man was shooting an XD and the other an Ed Brown Cobra Carry 1911 (probably the nicest gun out there).

Everyone was shooting 9mm pistols except for the 1911 guy and one of the Glock guys who was shooting .40.  No big surprise here.

Everyone shot about 400-500 rounds and there were, to my knowledge, no malfunctions that were not a result of operator error or deliberately induced for training purposes.

Oh, and everyone could shoot.  And I mean everyone.  This was good because it gave us a chance to advance into some stuff that doesn't normally get covered in this particular course.

All in all I had a good time.  I feel like I really took away some good stuff.  Tiger McKee, the owner and lead instructor, is a very open minded type.  He acknowledges that people may have a different way of doing things and he is ok with that.  He said over and over, "This is the way we do it, and the way we teach it.  We want you to try it, and if you find it does not work for that's ultimately your decision.  As long as what you are doing is safe, I have no issue with that.  Just give our way a chance."  He also made a point of explaining the "why" of his methods, rather than just saying "this is how it is done."

A couple of the things I probably won't do his way.  But he convinced me on at least one thing, and that alone was enough to make the two days worth it.

More to come.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Robert's Picks


The Kill Artist by Daniel Silva (good)

Hazardous Duty by W.E.B. Griffin and William E. Butterworth IV (good)

Islands of Rage and Hope by John Ringo (very good)

Havana by Stephen Hunter

Captive Of Gor by John Norman

Taken by Robert Crais

Hunters of Gor by John Norman (good)

Fire with Fire by Charles E. Gannon (very good)

Monday, August 25, 2014

New holster for my M&P Shield

Visited a relatively new sporting goods store a couple of days ago.  They had a large selection of kydex holsters by a maker unknown to me.  They looked nice so I decided to pick one up for my Shield to give it a go.

The holster is from Cutting Edge Personal Defense's Custom Concealment Gear line and called the "Ronin."  I have not yet had an opportunity to wear it or get it to the range. My plan is to try it out on the range Thursday and do a pretty extensive review in the coming weeks.

Initial impressions are that it is much like many other kydex holsters.  There's only so much you can do with the medium.  Price ($65) is a little higher than some, and lower than others.  Construction seems solid, not too bulky, and I like the hardware they used.  I've got one holster that was made using some cheap hardware that I really did not like.

Retention is good, but not so good it will retard a draw.  You can hold the holster upside down and give it a decent shake and the gun stays in place.  You can shake it hard enough to make the gun pop out, but I think it will stand up to an active lifestyle.

I'm thinking of seeing if I can get my hands on one for my G17 and use it during my Defensive Pistol course at Shootrite next month.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Going to gun school.

September 5th and 6th I'll be in Langston, AL (just outside of Scottsboro) taking the Defensive Handgun course at Shootrite Firearms Academy, LLC.  I've wanted to get up there for years and it has finally worked out.  

I am really looking forward to this, and I hope to do a fairly extensive write up afterwards.  

Thursday, August 21, 2014

On The Range #95: Rangemaster Handgun Core Skills Test and More Shield Fun

I found this in a thread on, and I thought I'd give it a shot.

Rangemaster Handgun Core Skills Test, Comstock Count
Use electronic timer and record the time for each stage.
3 yds Sidestep, draw, and fire 4 rds. _________

5 yds Sidestep, draw and fire 5 rds total , 3 to the chest,
2 to the head. _________

5 yds Start gun in dominant hand only, fire 4 rds. _________

5 yds Start gun in non-dominant hand, fire 5 rds. _________

7 yds Draw and fire 6 rds. _________

7 yds Start at Ready, 3 rds only in gun. Fire 3 rds, reload, and 
fire 3 more rds. _________

10 yds Draw and fire 3 rds. _________

15 yds Draw and fire 4 rds. _________

25 yds Draw and fire 3 rds. _________

40 rds total. Total time __________ Target points _________
IALEFI-QP scored 5,3,0/RM-2 scored 5,3/VSRT scored 5,4,3
Score targets. Divide points by total time, for Index. Multiply Index X 20 for Final Score. Par Score = 100.
80-100 = Very good. 100-124= Advanced 125+= Master

Score_________ divided by ___________X 20= _____________

I used a standard FBI "Q" target with the 8" circle and 3x5" box from a F.A.S.T. target. I scored the circle and box 5 points and the rest of the bottle 3.  I did everything from concealment and started the reload stage gun in holster.

I don't remember my exact final score as I do not have my range notebook right in front of me since I am typing this from my local cigar shop.  However, I know I was well under the par (EDIT my final score was 76.49).  Which sucks.  I had hoped to do better.  Still, it's a good skills test, I think, and I plan on using it to test myself from time to time. Maybe every quarter or so.

I also did a little shooting with my M&P Shield.  I shot exercises 3 and 4 (single shots from the holster x5 in under 3 seconds and doubles from the holster x5 in under 3.5 seconds, standard being each five times in a row) from Richard Mann's Handgun Training For Personal Protection.  I aced both.  These are more for beginner shooters and so of course I was easily able to meet the standard.  Still, I think they're a great way to test out a new carry gun and get a feel for it.

The Core Skills Test I shot with my G17.  Look at the differences in group sizes just based on the movement and distances involved.  All of the Shield shooting was done at 5 yards.  One of my weaknesses has always been shooting at distances greater than 10 yards.  Frankly, I think if you excel at 10 yard and under shooting you excel where you need to for typical defensive handgun use, but that doesn't mean I don't want or need to push myself to improve at distance shooting.  I plan on working on that as I go forward.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Robert's Picks


Deserter by Mike Shepherd

The Rods and the Axe by Tom Kratman (good)

The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien (excellent)

The Fellowship of the Ring by JRR Tolkien (excellent)

The Two Towers by JRR Tolkien (excellent)

The Return of the King by JRR Tolkien (excellent)


300:  Rise of an Empire (very good)

Battleship (good)

Kiss Me Deadly 

Lone Survivor (very good)

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Friday, August 1, 2014

On The Range #94: M&P Shield Practice and Function Testing

A couple of weeks ago I was doing a little shooting with my M&P Shield and experienced a stove pipe. I figured I had limp wristed it but i wanted to do a little function testing before carrying it again.

I've been reading Richard Mann's Handgun Training For Personal Protection and since I was planning on working through the drills it lays out anyway I figured this was the perfect opportunity.

First up were single shots at 5 yards from low reading.  The goal is ten shots in each circle. I jerked the trigger a couple of times on the third circle but I tightened up on circle four.

The second drill was controlled pairs/double taps at 5 yards from low ready.  Again the goal was ten shots in each circle, and again I jerked the trigger on circle three. I think it was a combination of fatigue and impatience on my part. Tightened up again on four.

All together I fired 80 rouns with no malfunctions. Sixteen rounds of this was 135 gr Hornady Critical Defense standard pressure JHP and the rest Freedom Munitions 147gr FMJ.

Afterwards I made my way to Academy Sports to pick up more personal defense ammo. Could not find any standard pressure Hornady so I bought 50 rounds of Federal 124 gr Hydra-Shok JHP.  I will function test with half and use the other half for carry assuming the Shield likes it.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Robert's Picks


Raiders of Gor by John Norman (good)

Mutineer by Mike Shepherd

According to Doyle by Doyle Brunson (very good)

Kiss Me, Deadly by Mickey Spillane (good)

Naamah's Curse by Jacqueline Carey

Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell and Patrick Robinson (excellent)

Like A Mighty Army by David Weber (good)


RED 2 (very good)

The Wolverine (excellent)

Ender's Game (good)

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Robert's Picks


Assassin of Gor by John Norman (good)

Chasing Darkness by Robert Crais (good)

The First Rule by Robert Crais (good)

Black Site by Dalton Fury (good)

Swords of Exodus by Larry Correia and Mike Kupari (very good)

The Sentry by Robert Crais (good)

Come and Take Them  by Tom Kratman (good)


The Hobbit:  The Desolation of Smaug (very good)

Monday, June 9, 2014

Robert's Picks


Naamah's Kiss by Jaqueline Carey

Black Rednecks and White Liberals by Thomas Sowell (excellent)

Divided Allegiance by Elizabeth Moon (good)

Cauldron of Ghosts by David Weber and Eric Flint (very good)

The Watchman by Robert Crais (very good)


47 Ronin (excellent)

Jack the Giant Slayer (good)

Friday, June 6, 2014

70 years ago: June 6, 1944

Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force!
You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.
Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle hardened. He will fight savagely.
But this is the year 1944 ! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man-to-man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground.
Our Home Fronts have given us an superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned! The free men of the world marching together to Victory!
I have full confidence in your devotion to duty and skill in battle.
We will accept nothing less than full Victory!
Good Luck! And let us all beseech blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.
Dwight D. Eisenhower

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Embarrassing confession.

Embarrassing confession:  Until I saw the press release that S&W was introducing an M&P Shield without a slide mounted safety I did not realize mine had one.  I saw it, but because it makes utterly no sense (IMO) for it to have one I completely overlooked it.

Played with it a bit and it is low profile enough that I am not particularly worried about inadvertently activating it and I will continue to carry it safety OFF. Also, the trigger pull feels like it is the same or maybe even a smidge heavier than my Glock 17 trigger so that is not a worry.

Textbook example of why you should carefully examine new firearms purchases and thoroughly read the owner's manual (I skimmed mainly to see what type of ammo to feed it).

Friday, May 16, 2014

On The Range #93: S&W M&P Shield 9mm

Picked up an M&P Shield 9mm today after wanting one for quite a while. The price was right and I had the money to spend so it followed me home. Initial impressions are very positive. I have a locally made IWB holster I picked up for it and it completely disappears on my body. The holster is not exactly what I want as the draw is a bit tricky from it so I have another on the way.

As soon as I got it home I hit the back yard range for a little Dot Torture.  Back blast from the muzzle was a lot more than I am used to from shooting my G17 so much but easily overcome. Recoil is noticably greater than a full size pistol as well, which is to be expected, but easily manageable.

This is a very accurate little gun. I shot it as well as my G17 at 3 yards for the Dot Torture drill. I was able to make some nice little groups with the 50 rounds of Winchester white box I was firing. I had one flyer which kept me from a perfect 50/50 score.

The gun fits well in my hands. It is most comfortable with the 8 round magazine with the grip extension but I was not troubled by the flush fit 7 rounder.  The 7 rounder has the potential to be an issue if you are not careful to be sure it is fully seated. I made this mistake once.

All in all I like it a lot. I am looking forward to more range time with it. I want to see how it performs at greater distances and I also need to do some ammo testing. My Winchester Ranger +p+ ammo that I carry in the Glock is a no go so I need to find some standard pressure stuff it will eat up.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Robert's Picks


Towers of Midnight by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson (excellent)

The Big Kill by Mickey Spillane (good)

A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson (excellent)

Nomads of Gor by John Norman (good)

When Diplomacy Fails... by Michael Z Williamson (very good)

To Sail a Darkling Sea by John Ringo (very good)

The Gods of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs (good)


The Great Gatsby (good)

Pacific Rim (good)

Rock of Ages (good)

2 Guns

Man of Steel (very good)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Robert's Picks


Winter's Heart by Robert Jordan (excellent)

Crossroads of Twilight by Robert Jordan (excellent)

Knife of Dreams by Robert Jordan (excellent)

The Gathering Storm by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson (excellent)


Cinderella Man (very good)

Friday, April 4, 2014

Pistol rounds don't suck, you do.

You hear it all the time when the never ending caliber wars flame up, "All pistol rounds suck so it doesn't really matter which one you pick."

I've said it often enough myself. It's a way of telling the "9mm sucks! Git you a .45!" and ".40 is the only round that's true manstopper!" fucktards to shut the fuck up without saying shut the fuck. In general any center fire handgun cartridge using a modern hollow point bullet will perform about the same as any other. In other words, they're all pretty good...assuming you put your shots where they count.

The 'suck' comes from comparing pistol round performance to rifle round performance.  To me this is apples and oranges, but for the sake of argument lets compare the two.

The "one shot stop" mentality has largely been beaten out of the professional firearms community. While one shot stops with handguns do happen (George Zimmerman stopped Trayvon Martin's violent attack with a single 9mm JHP), no firearms instructor will tell you to shoot once and then wait. They'll tell to shoot until the threat stops. They'll give examples of instances of an attacker not being stopped until after soaking up round after round after round.

And you know what? They'll tell you to do the same with a rifle. Ask any hunter and he'll be able to tell about tracking a deer for miles after hitting it with a .270 or .30-06. Ask some combat vets if they're willing to talk about their experiences and you'll hear stories of enemy soldiers and combatants taking rifle hits and still being in the fight.

There are a lot of reasons for this. The most common is poor shot placement. If you don't put rounds in just the right place you're just putting holes in meat. Even when shots are placed well that doesn't gaurantee the thing or person shot will be DRT. A fatal shot may take minutes to actually kill, minutes in which they may still be able to hurt you in the case of a violent encounter.

Other factors could include drugs or just sheer will to live. There's not much you can do about those aside from doing what you can to stop the attacker as quickly as possible. That means destroying the cardiovascular system and/or the central nervous system. Again, we're back to shot placement.

And that is why I say, "Pistol rounds don't suck, you do." Either because of poor shooting or unrealistic expectations about what punching holes in the human body will do.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Admiral(ret.) Jeremiah Denton has set sail for the Undiscovered Country.

Fair winds and following seas, Sir.

He spent 8 years as a POW during the Vietnam War. During a forced interview he repeatedly blinked out the word 'torture' in Morse Code while reading the script he was given.

In 1980 he became the first Republican Senator from Alabama since Reconstruction.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

On The Range #92: Dry Fire

Ah, dry fire. Ask any firearms instructor or professional shooter what you can do to make yourself a better shooter and you can gaurantee he or she will suggest dry fire. And they are correct.

The problem with dry fire is that like running for fitness it sucks. It's not fun and it's boring. It's pure work and most people hate pure work. But if you want to excell you have to do it.

I'm trying to get out and do more shooting, and on those days I can't I am trying to do some dry fire. Today was one of those days where getting outside on the range was going to be a huge pain so I decided dry fire it is.

Here's the routine I worked using my CED7000 shot timer:

Draw and Fire
At the start signal, draw and fire one dry shot on the target. Reset.
20 repititions freestyle
20 repititions strong hand only

Fire weak hand only
Start with gun in weak hand at 45 degree angle. At start signal, come up and fire one dry shot on the target. Reset.
20 repititions

Shooting from ready position
Start with gun in ready position. At start signal press out and fire one dry shot on target. Reset.
20 repititions

Multiple targets
Start with gun in holster. At start signal, engage one target to the left, then one to the right. For the second shot I did a firm press on the dead trigger while maintaining sight alignment. On the transition I worked on moving my eyes to the target and then bringing the sights to my eyes to avoid overswinging the target.
20 repititions

I want to try and get in the habit of doing this at keast once a week. That will give me something like 60 good draws and 100 good trigger presses.