Just Say No to magnet mounts

These things have been popping up in a Facebook feed near you, and a very one sided advertising portrayal makes them seem handy, but they are a horrible idea under almost all circumstances.

“You gun is always somewhere”

This phrase is an important part of safe staging and storage rules. It is a reminder that once you leave the firearm in a spot, that it remains in existence even if you walk away. That means that the spot you leave it in is important, and as the firearm’s owner it is YOUR responsibility to ensure that access to that firearm is controlled.

The advertisements show these magnets left in various places, presumably to be readily accessed in a time of need. But what about their access at all other times? This thing isn’t a safe. It isn’t on you. Not on you and unconstrained access to it? No thanks.

Reducing administrative handling

Administrative handling is the handling of the firearm in an other-than-time-of-use. When you get dressed for the day and strap your pistol/holster to your belt, that is an administrative handling. Likewise when you go to bed at night. Ideally, these are the only two administrative handlings one does each day.

But we don’t live in a perfect world when it comes to our rights. Going to the post office? You need to disarm. Does your state have various pistol-free zones? You may need to disarm. Is your workplace a non-permissive environment? Another disarm opportunity.

When we disarm, ideally we are doing so with the holster, so that the firearm trigger mechanism remains covered. It is a small assurance and good administrative practice, and does NOT imply that we do not know how to handle the firearm, but rather that we understand its operation and include one additional precaution in safe handling.

The manufacturers of this magnet apparently believe that administrative handling is the business of the day. Going to the kitchen to get a coffee? Unholster that pistol and put it in the mount. Settling down to work for the day? Unholster and mount it to your desk. Driving around? You guessed it… unholster and stick it to the dash. What they don’t show is that EVERY administrative handling comes with a Buy One Get One Free reholstering, and each time you change locations, you have to perform another administrative handling putting it back in your holster.

If you remember to do so.

Yup. Imagine accidentally leaving that pistol in its magnet at work after you’ve gone home for the day. If you’re responsible, you’ll drive back in and get it immediately. If you’re wise, you’d never put yourself in that position to begin with.

More draw strokes make more inconsistency

Ideally we train our draw stroke regularly. Private ranges don’t always allow it, but with some classes and finding the range that knows you are responsible and vigilant owner and not a selfies-with-guns-in-my-bedroom owner, you can get more leeway to train.

Also ideally a person should train to get their gun to bear on target from any position, with the gun in any position. Laying in bed with the gun next to you. In the car with the gun at your side. Sitting on the couch watching The Mandalorian. The permutations become staggering. But, this is the way.

In reality we practice a few different draw strokes. Laying down and night stand. Standing and OWB (outside the waistbelt) strong side. Determining what sitting in a vehicle or at our desk requires to modify that. Maybe an additional carry option such as a shoulder holster (lefties making long road trips: look into this!).

Practicing these “most of the time” draw strokes helps us to develop the procedural memory so that the draw is as speedy as any other natural movement. If one’s training time is not infinite, then it makes sense to carry the firearm in a manner to reduce different draw strokes, so that the training you can do is as relevant to as many situations as possible.

These gun magnets introduce more combinations. Where are they mounted? How do you get to them? What position do you need to be in to pull the pistol effectively? What angle are they at?

This one is especially humorous. You’re in your office hard at work on your TPS reports… Bad Guy comes in, unhinged, muttering about a stapler, and threatens to burn the building down. Let’s look at two different scenarios.

You have your pistol in a holster:

  • You look up and assess Bad Guy is a life threatening event.
  • Your hands stay in your workspace and in front of you.
  • You are ABLE to stay seated or move backwards in the chair to stand up.
  • Whichever you decide, the gun is on YOU in a holster.
  • You use a draw stroke you’ve practiced numerous times.
  • Draw, deploy, threat handled.

You have your pistol in a magnet:

  • You look up and assess Bad Guy is a life threatening event.
  • Your hand MUST go from the top of the desk to under the desk. If the fight turns physical your hand is not in immediate play.
  • You MUST stay seated to access the firearm. If you stand, you must now stay leaning forward to reach down to retrieve the magnet-held firearm. Vitals-forward isn’t a great choice…
  • You use a draw stroke you have likely not trained with as extensively as your CPL-intent draw stroke.
  • You are finally able to to stand up, and MUST move backwards to get the gun up and around the table. (I concede you may be able to make a Han vs Greedo undertable shot, but a pistol isn’t a blaster and I’d much rather have the ability to hit vitals with my bullets because I don’t have an energy gun).
  • Draw, deploy, threat handled… later.

Conclusion

There may be some benefits to the magnet mount. They will be situational at best. They will certainly not be the clever, versatile mounting system their advertisement portrays, nor is the scenarios portrayed useful in common real life application that they are portrayed in.

Verdict:

Worst case: Things that will get you killed.

Best Case: Meme tiered trash

Tactical homesteading

A multi-part series on why homesteading is a strategic form of preparedness.

Martial practice was a large part of my life for over a decade. I made it to every class I could, which sometimes was quite regular and sometimes sporadic, as the needs of life required. Martial training was, for me, never about learning new words in Japanese, or cultural immersion, or anything other than gaining proficiency at violence (yes, that IS what martial study is about!) so that if anyone in my circle was threatened with harm, I might be able to help.

My instructor knew of my extra-dojo activities of emergency preparedness, firearm training, and the like. One of the reasons I stuck with this instructor (aside from the incredible knowledge and ability to apply it that he possessed) was that he understood melee-martial knowledge was but one facet of a personal protection strategy.

One day, after talking about emergency preparedness, he asked me “What should I do to best prepare my family for uncertain times?” I will never forget the perplexed look on his face when I answered simply “Learn to garden.”

Threat assessment

In the Keep and Bear LLC Emergency Preparedness 1 class, we teach a form of threat assessment that breaks events into component threats. For instance, a tornado is a threat event that brings the components high wind, water accumulation, lightning, egress disruption, power failure, and possibly more.

Many of the threat events people face lead to two specific threat components that are very risky: loss of income and supply chain disruption. Homesteading may also add some resiliency to civil unrest, depending on location.

In short, whether due to your own finances or factors at work locally, regionally, or even globally, you cannot get the resources you need to sustain you family.

Identifying and fulfilling necessities

This is rather straighforward, and comes directly from survival priorities:

Homesteading and personal resilience focuses on protection, shelter, hydration, and nutrition. Simply put, the best way to mitigate these threats is to have a means of supplying yourself with the basic needs.

It is very difficult to secure these needs in a resilient way in a subdivision. Homeowner associations (HOAs) are stocked with a plentiful supply of Kyles and Karens who make your business their business. If you’re lucky enough to live in a neighborhood without an HOA, or have a sensible one that respects property rights, congratulations.

Hobby gardening is generally tolerated in an HOA-controlled neighborhood. Expending that garden’s capacity to meaningfully feed your family is generally not tolerated. Complaints of being ‘unsightly’ abound, as well as ‘attracts too many bees’, and whatever other made up excuse is available as timid neighbors see “other than lawn” as an aberration.

As some basic survival needs are addressed in future installments, think of ways you can do this in your current situation, or how you might need to adapt your situation to accomplish them.

The Mindset of Initiative

A number of protection ideals I’ve learned through my career as a student and an instructor have tied together in interesting ways. While each of them are individually worth their own article, I’ve come to realize they are facets of the same quality: Initiative. In the context of use here, initiative is ultimately the mentality of self ownership, willingness to act, and having a plan to enable.

These lessons are:

  • Action vs Reaction
  • Control the Encounter
  • Never Give Up

Action vs Reaction

The truth of a protective mindset is we are usually reacting to threat. A great many instructors say “act, don’t react”, but acting first is usually considered aggression. A peaceable people will not initiate violence. We may be forced to react to it in some way, and we may have enough heads up to preclude violence entirely (escape and avoidance). We may have trained diligently for the situation and can easily handle neutralizing the threat in some way, but nonetheless we are reacting to the presence of the threat. So where does “Action, not reaction” come in to play? The best way to characterize this is “Now that I am dealing with this situation, I’ll work MY plan, not theirs”. If my plan for dealing with someone attempting to grab me is to throw punches and make distance, I’m going to enact MY plan to do so because that’s what I might be better at. Bad Guy is still a contributor to my actions because he poses a threat, which can vary (he could start by shoving then pull a knife), but my mentality is one of “I am in charge of me, and now you must react to the violence I am visiting upon you.” This ties very closely with controlling the encounter.

Control the Encounter

Once the determination to enact the plan is made, controlling the encounter is priority. The first step is to never, ever, ‘surrender’. We cover this in some depth in our Concealed Pistol course because it is so very important.

Surrender is different than ‘submit’. If Bad Guy completely gets the jump on you and demands your wallet at gunpoint, remember, YOU are in control of the encounter. You may likely choose that giving him the wallet is the best choice for you at the time, and you may submit to the request and do so, but your mindset must never enter a state of surrender where you think “he has a gun so I have to do what he says”. Once you’ve mentally surrendered, and if things turn worse, you must now overcome your own compromised mentality as well as the threat the bad guy imparts. For instance, once you’ve handed over the wallet and he follows up with “and get in the trunk”, the last thing you need to be doing is regaining mental control over yourself and the situation.

Despite Greedo having the jump on Han during their altercation at the cantina in Mos Eisley, Han controlled the encounter and ultimately prevailed.

By maintaining a mindset of controlling the encounter, you continuously ensure you are mentally in charge, despite the odds of the scenario. It matters.

Never Give Up

Our bodies can push on far longer than our brains think. Continued training reinforces this, and so many endeavors have been decided on willpower over skill.

From a protection standpoint, in general the defender does not need to defeat Bad Guy, merely outlast him. Bad Guy need anonymity, concealment, and quick action to carry out Bad Guy things. Once enough phones are recording him and the sirens can be heard, Bad Guy’s time doing Bad Things is limited. Often, defense is merely outlasting.

Even if rescue is not imminent, Bad Guy knows the risks in doing Bad Things. He’s looking for quick and easy. Once the defender demonstrates he is not an easy target, and especially if the defender exhibits control of the encounter, Bad Guy realizes he isn’t getting what he wants and moves away quickly. In this case, it wasn’t being exposed, or imminent police arrival, it was Bad Guy’s lower resolve that ultimately ended the controntation.

An Example

I use this example in our Michigan Concealed Pistol class for a few reasons. Primarily it is to convey that not all altercations are physical or lethal force encounters, but just as importantly, to Act, and to Control the Encounter.

I work on the west side of Ann Arbor, MI. There’s a Meijer there, and I was pumping gas into my Jeep. The CPL class teaches to Make a Plan, Practice the Plan, etc., and I had taken that to heart years earlier by envisioning various scenarios. One of which was being approached while pumping gas.

A rather dumpy looking guy was hovering near the front of the convenience store there, and I had made a note of him because it was an odd place to just loiter. He wasn’t smoking , leaned up against the wall casually, or anything that suggested he was just waiting for someone inside. While pumping gas I kept an eye on him.

I noticed him look around, and his eyes swept the 6 or 8 aisles of pumps at the station, then he turned back to the pump near me. He approached a guy on the other side of the pump and got right in his face demanding money so he could get some gas. He was not extremely loud, but very forceful, and clearly attempting to intimidate the guy pumping gas.

While this was going on, I performed the couple ACTIONS to better my position. I assumed that Bad Guy would come to me next, since he surveyed all the pumps being used, I guessed that he wanted to surprise and intimidate as many people as he could (hence the not-very-loud voice used). I also assumed he’d take the quick way from pump to pump, around the side near the store.

  • Action 1: I unzipped my coat so I had access to my holstered and concealed firearm. I guessed that because this guy gave up on the first gas pumper that he wasn’t really going to attack, but I wasn’t leaving it to chance.
  • Action 2: I repositioned myself so I was on the opposite side of the gas hose, and could quickly get around the corner of my Jeep for concealment in a single step.

Bad Guy did indeed come around the front of the pumps, and with a very belligerent look said “You’re going give me some money”, as he started advancing towards me. He was met with me, very loudly and forcefully, commanding “STOP. NOT ANOTHER STEP!”.

He literally stumbled backwards just at the strong verbal commands. After regaining his composure somewhat he advanced again saying “I just need some….”

“THAT’S FAR ENOUGH!” I again strongly commanded. The look of hatred in his eyes would be comical if I wasn’t worried how he’d react. “I’M NOT GIVING YOU A THING. GET OUT OF HERE!”

By now, other motorists were watching at other pumps. He realized he was not in control of the encounter with me, and moved to the next aisle of pumps, where a lady in her late 30’s was pumping gas. She looked absolutely terrified as he started towards her.

“I DON’T THINK SHE HAS ANYTHING FOR YOU EITHER.”, I forcefully stated. He turned to me (I had concealment from my vehicle and was watching his hands more than anything else) and the look of hatred was palpable. He ended up giving me a gesture, and walked into the store. The look of relief and thanks the lady gave me was something I’ll remember forever.

Again, I use this example because I don’t want my students thinking the firearm is the answer to all their problems. This was not a physical or lethal force incident, but the potential for it was there. I didn’t know what Bad Guy was armed with or what he might do.

But most germane to the topics at hand are that even though I was reacting to Bad Guy’s presence and actions, I enacted my own actions to ensure my safety. When Bad Guy rounded the corner and engaged me, I controlled the encounter. He was unable to enact his attempts at surprise and intimidation, and realizing he had lost control of the encounter, gave up dealing with me.

A more subtle lesson here is Never Give Up. I didn’t know the lady in the aisle next to me, but in the moment I included her in my protective sphere (the people we will choose to protect). By not giving up, and extending my control of the encounter past immediate threat to me, my resolve in the situation outlasted his and he stopped (at least, until I was gone).

The Mentality of Initiative

The aspects of acting and not merely reacting, controlling the encounter, and never giving up form an overall mentality of initiative. The mindset to act, take control, and prevail. This mentality of initiative is a paramount mindset to instill in yourself. In all your endeavors, train with diligence, be in control mentally, and persevere in your effort, and you are training the mentality of initiative.

In defense of life and property

This week in St. Louis, a couple found their home surrounded by an angry mob marching though the neighborhood. I don’t know the particulars of the mob’s demands nor their purpose. Its not relevant to this subject.

What is relevant is the nature of response by the couple. They came out loaded for bear. The husband with his AR-15 (was that a 20” barrel and fixed stock?!?) and the wife with her PPK. Now, much fun has been poked at these two and I would say it is wholly undeserved. These people were thrust into a potentially violent situation that would have most people quaking in their boots. They felt threatened and they reacted.

I’m quite certain that if you had asked them last year what they would do if an angry mob showed up on their doorstep the husband would chuckle and remark that’s why he has his rifle and that would be the extent of the planning and training he undertook to prepare for that event. He probably thought the idea so far fetched it would be nothing more than a joke to him. We now know it wasn’t so far fetched.

Now my point is not that everyone should be training and prepping for an angry mob to show up at their doorstep. No, my point is that you need to train for the likelihood of having to use your firearm and that means understanding how to use it and when to use it.

This couple came out of their homes, firearms in hand and ordered the mob off their lawn. I want to be clear: They did nothing wrong and were well within the law to do so. I don’t know the particulars and I am not going to armchair quarterback their action. What I do want is to try and give you a couple more option to think about as you prepare your plan of action in the event of the threat of violence (you are preparing a plan, aren’t you?)

A firearm is a tool of last resort. Once it comes out of the holster, once its unslung from the shoulder, once it is leveled at another human being, the world changes very quickly. You are now in a gun fight. The very real possibility that a life will be taken is now on the table. You need to prepare mentally for this and decide now how you are going to act in such a situation.

Tactically speaking, keep a barrier between you and the aggressor. Communicate to them to leave at once in a stern (read loud) voice. I have no doubt profanity will be used. In the case of this couple, no one appeared to approach them and they were outside but I didn’t see them make use of cover. In a situation like this cover is useful not only for protecting from incoming fire but also to allow them to conceal their arms till they need to make it know. It may be that introducing a gun in the situation prematurely could escalate the situation, keeping it hidden but ready to use may be the best course of action.

If the gun needs to come out, don’t delay. Get on target and order the aggressors to leave at once. Keep an eye on your avenues of escape, on how many attackers you can see, on your surroundings (don’t get tunnel vision, move that head!) and how close you are going to let your aggressor get to you before you engage. You have to draw a mental line in the sand and yell out that if they come closer you will be forced to shoot. If they get too close and you don’t act you could end up in a fight over the gun and that is never good thing.

I want to stress that I am not advocating for the use of deadly force in protection of property, this is not permitted, but deadly force in the protection of life and limb is! As for this couple, they have an affirmative defense of acting in protection of their lives. They can articulate that they did fear for their lives, an angry mob could cut through them like a hot knife through butter. They did a service for the rest of us in their actions.

We can see what they did learn from it and take the good and leave the bad. As much as we teach to our students that being aware of your surroundings will keep you out of a fight most of the time, in these odd days its is entirely possible the fight will come looking for you as it did these folks. Plan now so you don’t have to plan as you go.

Stay frosty.

Protection training during Stay-At-Home

Most of the USA is now closed for business. For many of us, we have lost access to martial training and firing ranges. This doesn’t mean we should be putting our protective training on hold, though. Here are a few ways to adapt or develop new training methods.

Strength and cardio training

There are honestly thousands of books, videos, and other sources out there for this training. For protection, a definite balance between strength training and cardio is needed. Look for strength-increase and flexibility-increase videos, not just “bulking up” exercises. The same with cardio.

Strength and cardio training by “definitely not me” and “also not my wife”.

If you don’t happen to have any equipment at home, add “no equipment” to your google searches. There are still many exercises that can be done using body weight resistance, as well as stretches!

Practice the basics you DO know

There are a number of martial arts apps out there that show applications you can do from your screen. We advise against these because there is no instruction or critique to break you from a bad habit or incorrect movement. Without this, imperfections (vulnerabilities) can become ingrained and need to be relearned.

But, if you happened to have trained well before this self-distancing, AND if you know some moves well enough to have not been significantly corrected on, continue practicing them!

I can honestly say that when troubleshooting trainee technique at the dojo, most of the trainee issues stemmed from improper positioning caused by poor footwork. If your training includes footwork patterns or routines, do them over and over, taking care you are doing them well.

Punching bags and artificial targets

Percussion training is kinda hard to get wrong. With some basic combinations under your belt, train them, and train them hard. Work them into a cardiovascular workout. If you have the means, a torso target allows you to work on target selection far better than a punching bag, but be prepared to load it up with sand (they leak a bit, don’t use water) to make it stable.

Physically striking is far superior to “punch into the air” martial movement. there is no substitute for actual striking to ensure your fists or chopping hand strikes are resilient.

Another great tool are the Cold Steel line of melee training weapons and the Rings Blue Gun line of firearm training weapons. These can allow for great weapon manipulation and movement training. If your martial skills involve breakfalls and rollouts, practice going into prone, supine, and urban prone. This will not only improve your ability to obtain cover/concealment, but the large movements will improve cardio.

Dry fire dry fire dry fire

When practicing dry fire, set up a place that you know is safe, and keep it that way. The rules of gun safety are not suspended while doing this; they are more important than ever.

Safety steps:

  1. Pick a dry-fire location in the home free from others, including pets or important valuable. Establish that this sectioned area is an ammunition-free zone.
  2. Ensure the area you will be dry ‘firing’ into is safe, and what is beyond it is safe and will trap a bullet if all else fails.
  3. Read your owners manual and confirm that firing on an empty chamber is not detrimental to your firearm. Most modern semiautomatic and revolver firearms are able to handle dry firing. 22LR pistols are a notable exception.
  4. In a separate area, remove all ammunition from your firearm. This includes the magazine and chamber or the cylinder for most modern pistols. If you have a training barrel for your firearm, install it here. Confirm the firearm is empty through sight and touch.
  5. Move to your dry fire location. Ensure it is free of obstructions and people.
  6. Reconfirm the firearm is empty through sight and touch.
  7. If for any reason you must pause this training and leave the area, perform all safety steps over to ensure the firearm and training area are in known states when resuming training.

Dry fire for sight alignment and trigger congtrol

A training program I took emphasized that most firearm issues can be resolved with sight alignment and trigger control. After spending a full 8 hours on these two factors alone, I am in complete agreement.

Fortunately, these two factors can be practiced without ammunition. When dry firing, you can work on maintaining sight alignment and picture while manipulating the trigger. These items are the very fundamentals of superior marksmanship, and it can be done for FREE.

  1. Perform all safety steps noted above.
  2. Practice dry firing by squeezing the trigger while maintaining sight alignment/picture on a target fastened to the wall.
  3. Pay special attention to any movement in sight alignment that trigger actuation provokes. Correct it. There is no rush here, and each trigger pull can take as long as needed to perfect.
  4. Repeat until your trigger actuation does not affect sight alignment/picture at all. (This can take years!)

Dry fire for draw and acquiring target

Once the fundamentals of sight alignment and trigger control are well understood, it’s time to bring the drawstroke into play. Using ALL the same safety steps shown above, AND all the sight alignment/picture and trigger control exercises, practice drawing from holster, presenting the firearm, and getting on target with a proper sight alignment and trigger actuation.

Remember the fundamentals of a good drawstroke:

  1. Using support hand, remove concealing garments from the holster area.
  2. Primary hand acquire a solid grip on the firearm with thumb-forefinger webbing lodged firmly in the tang of the handgun and fingers in a solid grip. Trigger finger must be extended.
  3. Draw the firearm deliberately to the pectoral index point. Support hand comes to the chest.
  4. Rotate firearm to the front. Shooter may need to engage from this position and firing from this position should be practiced for close quarter engagements.
  5. Extend the firearm forward with a “punching out” movement. Support hand should naturally acquire a proper grip on the firearm during this extension. During extension, begin to acquire sight alignment and sight picture. Shooter should be able to put rounds on target during the extension action for close quarter engagement training.
  6. Once at extension, finalize sight alignment and sight picture.
  7. Actuate trigger during the drill at the appropriate time determined for your practice.

Dry fire with moving and shooting

Using ALL the above steps, and adding in objects, navigate to cover/concealment, move around obstacles to get on cover. Add partial cover to your target… the list is endless what you can do here, and it all builds in movement familiarity with the firearm.

By now it should be apparent that there is so much that can be done with dry fire. In fact, the only thing missing is recoil management and the assessment of shot placement.

Train the mind

Internet research costs little, and finding good sources doesn’t take that long. Train the mind with good information. Justifiable use of force, the laws of protection and firearm ownership, the anatomy of violence, and so much more. Go for depth, not breadth. Find a subject and truly deep-dive it. Surface smatterings of many topics are easily obtained. Focused knowledge in one thing leads to much more understanding.

Training beyond stay-at-home

Of course, ALL of this must be reinforced with this most paramount of paradigms: You are NOT PLAYING. This isn’t a tactical LARPing exercise, Mr. Wick. You MUST do all the above training as if it is a live-fire exercise, with the exact same mindset for training and consequence. Do not train in poor muzzle discipline. Do NOT train in a bad drawstroke. If needed, record your training and play it back and scrutinize as if it were someone else’s Facebook post that the world will nitpick into oblivion. You could even send it to your instructors for their review, or a close group of training friends operating in an ego-free way.

Most of us have been ‘gifted’ with extra time on our hands. Whether it be working from home and no commute time to actually being furloughed. These times are hard, and they will get harder before it’s said and done. In desperate times, the worst in some people comes out, and the best in others comes out. It’s up to us to ensure our best is greater than their worst. Train hard, train focused.

Setting up a home quarantine room

The world is watching the Coronavirus spread with great concern. Prior to that, it was Ebola, or HIV, or whooping cough. In our increasingly interconnected world, disease can spread quickly and over great area. The Coronavirus has hit Wuhan, China hard. One of China’s major trade centers is effectively shut down, with industrial implications for the entire world.

Here at home, Michigan USA, the concern has become real. Being the cradle of the US auto industry and much of that industry having ties to China, it is not a stretch to realize it will affect our economy significantly. How can we, as emergency preparedness practitioners, take steps to ensure our family remains safe?

Understanding how disease is transmitted (routes of transmission)

There are 3 main types of disease transmission. Setting up a home quarantine room will need to ensure that all forms of pathogen transmission are addressed.

Aerosol

This form of transmission is when the pathogen are suspended in the air, either through vaporous liquid droplets (like coughing and sneezing) or particulates (like dust or pollutants). The pathogen is then inhaled, absorbed by the recipient (through eye or mouth deposit) or deposited onto a surface and later touched. Most pathogens do not survive long in an aerosol state, and close proximity to the infected person is required for transmission. Coughing, sneezing, and exhaling are all forms of initiating aerosol transmission.

The COVID-19 virus has been found to be transmissible through aerosol.

Direct contact

Transmission is achieved when contact is made with the pathogen. The pathogen is usually introduced by contact through skin, blood, mucous membranes, saliva, etc.

Oral/Consumption

Pathogens are often introduced through food and water. Unclean practices like failure to wash hands can introduction fecal and urine particles onto food which sustain the pathogen long enough for transmission.

There are other subtypes of these transmissions. Venereal is direct contact through reproductive activity. Fomite transmission is when a carrier touches an object that is later touched by a receiver (such as door handles, etc.). Vector-borne is a direct contact transmission through a carrier, such as a mosquito.

Considerations for the quarantine room

The widespread nature of this virus means for most of us, it will be a matter of when, not if, a loved one gets it. With hospitals quickly reaching capacity, the need WILL be to stay home and self-quarantine.

The following items and considerations will be needed to effectively quarantine a room and be able to tend a patient at home. Note that these considerations are to reduce/eliminate pathogen transmission. They do not include patient treatment. Isolating pathogens to this room and preventing spread to other areas is the primary objective.

Sanitation cart

A cart that can be easily moved as needed is ideal for a sanitation cart. Some people will choose to use a stationary location such as a linen closet or bathroom cabinet. Whichever is chosen, it should be easy to access and easy to determine when supplies are running low. Consider the following items for a general sanitation cart, and UNDERSTAND what items are applicable for the pathogen in question:

  • Antibacterial wipes.
  • Bleach (or other medical grade cleaner) and cheesecloth towels.
  • Disposable nitrile gloves.
  • Face shields, face masks, and safety goggles.
  • Biohazard and vomit bags.

Room preparation

If at all possible, the quarantine room chosen should be free of porous materials and surfaces. Cushioned furniture aside from the bed, clothing in closets, stuffed animals, papers, books, carpet, and more, should be removed or minimized. This may be well above and beyond the capability of most to do, but understand that these surfaces can harbor pathogens and are a risk to those giving care to the quarantined person.

The quarantine room should also be chosen, ideally, to have its own bathroom with shower. With water vapor, toothbrushes and toiletry needs, and human waste disposal, this bathroom is a significant source of pathogen transmission.

Quarantining aerosol pathogens

This is the hardest thing to accomplish, as airborne pathogens can become direct contact pathogens as well when contaminated particulates land on surfaces. Those items will be covered below, and this section will focus on the aerosol nature of transmission only.

Create an entry/exit barrier. In addition to the room’s door, a plastic sheet hung a few feet outside the door creates a double-door barrier with an ante room space between them. This is the bare minimum necessary for effective quarantining. The care giver can gown outside the area, enter the first “door”, close it, then enter the second door. This greatly reduces the pathogen’s likelihood of escaping the quarantine room. When exiting, the caregiver leaves the second door, closes it, de-gowns and disposes of the gowning material inside the ante room space, then exits the first door and disposes of the gowning material.

While cleaning the quarantine room, vacuum carpet using hepafilter vacuums only, while wearing face shield, goggles, and respiration mask. This is a high risk activity that is agitating particulate matter in the room. Another alternative is to use a true steam-cleaning carpet cleaner at 170F or at least 5 minutes per surface, or 212F for 1 minute per surface.

If cleaning items in the room, minimize movement of the items, and do not shake out bedding, clothing, or other fabrics. This releases whatever pathogens were on them into the air. Aerosol transmission is the most difficult to mitigate. Do not take a direct contact item (pathogen on an object) and purposefully make it an aerosol.

If the temperature allows for it, close the vents from this room to the rest of the house. If conditions do not allow for it, add filtration and UV irradiation as necessary.

Install cold air return filters in the quarantine room and bathroom. Filters are rated with a “MERV” value, and a MERV value of 13-16 are medical grade that block bacteria, most dusts and aerosols, and suspended water droplets. Well ahead of needing this room, install a cold air return register than accepts these filters.

For the furnace filter, install a filter with at least a MERV rating of 9-12, but 13-16 is better. By the time a pathogen has gotten to the furnace, it will have traveled several yards or more. Most pathogens cannot survive an extended period of time in open air, and between the cold air return filter, the distance to the furnace, and the furnace filter, there is little chance of a pathogen being redistributed into the house’s HVAC system. These filters are an excellent preparedness item to stock up on before they are needed, and kept in their sealed packaging until needed.

Some return vent housings are able to accept filters in them.

Portable air filters that use filtration (not ozone) can help, but one must purchase the correct filters (HEPA only, not “HEPA style”), change the filters as indicated (they can get expensive), and actually leave it running.

Another excellent means of air filtration is an Ultraviolet furnace insert. These high intensity ultraviolet bulbs are excellent to destroy virus, bacteria, and mold, with the added benefit of reducing maintenance for mold on AC coils, etc. They can be expensive, but this is one of the more certain ways one can ensure air returning to the rest of the house is virus-free.

Quarantining direct contact pathogens

By creating a quarantine room, an attempt is being made to limit direct contact to one area only. Regular cleaning in this room is required, and wiping down all flat surfaces regularly with antiseptic cleaner is an important first step in minimizing direct contact transmission. Here are a few other tips:

  • Be prepared to dispose of everything: The clothes in this room, the cot/bed, blankets, books, TV Remote, etc., can all hold a pathogen. While a pathogen may not live on a surface for very long, porous surfaces can hold enough contaminant to allow a pathogen to live long enough for transmission. It may not come to this, but be prepared for this.
  • Learn to degown in the correct way so that degowning does not create an exposure. Have waste bags available for disposed of gowning.
  • Any eating utensils and serving ware should be immersed in a tub with bleach concentration, fastened with a lid, and removed to the house’s kitchen area.
  • Read, understand, and practice the surface decontamination methods for the cleaners you are using. Lysol disinfectant sprayed on a surface requires TWO MINUTES to be fully effective. This is very different than the typical wipe on / wipe off method most people use for cleaning.
  • Wear a face mask and goggles when dealing with all things in this room. It will help with instinctually touching face and eyes.

Quarantining oral/ingested contact pathogens

For quarantining, an important objective is to ensure food items and eating utensils do not pose a threat to those that use them subsequently. For best results, dedicate a set of utensils to the infected person and wash them separately. If this is unmanageable, soak the utensils and serving items in a basin with 1 tablespoon bleach per 1 gallon water for at least 2 minutes after all extra food material has been rinsed or scrubbed away. After that, run in the dishwasher with the highest heat setting available.

Cleaning kitchen sponges, washclothes, and more can be done by soaking in the same bleach concentration, then rinsing well, putting on a microwave safe plate, then microwaving the items for 2 minutes on high. Ensure there are no metallic strands or abrasion materials in the cleaning supplies when doing so.

Another important factor to consider is preparing foods in a clean way. First, ensure that the food preparer is not ill. Notrile glove, mask, and eye protection are excellent means to prevent contamination of food items, as is minimizing the handling of packaging and subsequent handling of the food item.

For cooked items reaching high heat, they will be pathogen free after heating up provided the heating goes above 170F for at least 5 minutes (assuming the heat has time to transfer throughout the food so that all areas of the food are 170F for at least 5 minutes). The very best practice one can do is to minimize direct contact with the food after heating.

Conclusion

Not all the above items will be affordable or even necessary depending on the pathogen that is being quarantined against. Nor should the above take the place of medical professional practices. This article should be seen as things to consider, and best practices to thoroughly research and enact.

Our very best option is to self-distance and prevent getting this virus in the first place.

Don’t drink the water (before filtering!)

Living in the Great State of Michigan it is said that you are never more than 20 miles from a major body of water; fresh water to boot! The Great Lake State has fresh water that is the envy of the world, and rightly so. Its beautiful, fun and vitally critical to life as we know it; but sometimes we take that last part for granted!

If you haven’t considered what you’d do if the water suddenly stopped flowing through your taps I’d encourage you to look into it. Keep & Bear has a wonderful Emergency Preparedness class that addresses the need for clean H2O. It is an important topic but I want to talk about something else that can be overlooked: How do you get clean water on the move?

My wife and I enjoy traveling. To date we have been to some beautiful places. In our travels we rarely go the ‘tourist resort’ route and routinely find ourselves in places lacking in the creature comforts of most of
the USA. Clean water is chief among them.

While bottled water can be available, carrying the amount needed isn’t always practical. The rivers, lakes, streams, and waterfalls may be all around, but they are often teaming with microscopic organisms hostile to the human digestive tract. The solution is finding a way to filter out the bad and keep the good.

Thankfully you and I don’t have to figure out how to do this (at least in its basic form). The wonders of the free market have done it for us. Prior to our last trip to South America my wife researched and purchased a water purification bottle. She settled on the Grayl Ultralight Compact Purifier. This bottle was designed to fit in backpacks and be easily transported. With a 16 ounce capacity it could filtered out waterborne pathogens (viruses, bacteria, protozoan cysts), including Rotavirus, Hepatitis A, Norovirus, Giardiasis, Cryptosporidium, E. Coli, Cholera, Salmonella, Dysentery along with pesticides and heavy metals. It could turn contaminated water in to drinking water in 15 seconds! Its filter is good for 40 gallons and is replaceable when its limit is reached.

Using the bottle is simple. From as clean a water source as can be found, fill the “cup” part of the device to the fill line. Place it on a firm surface, then insert the inner assembly. The o-rings at the bottom keep the water from simply displacing up and out of the cup. The downward force the user puts on the inner assembly forces the water through the orange filter housing and filter. The filtered water is then forced into the clear reservoir area where it is stored until used. The bottom o-rings and the lip at the top ensure unfiltered water doesn’t have a sneak path along the outside of the inner assembly and into one’s mouth when tilted up to drink.

With this little bottle we were able to climb Machu Picchu, hang out in Cusco, and explore the Sacred Valley of Peru. We never had to worry about our water or risked getting sick! For traveling I can’t think of a better thing to bring along. Of course its not limited to just traveling. There are many instances where something has happened to the local water supply (broken water main, contaminates in the system, Flint…) where having an effective water purifier on had would be invaluable.

Berge, Kim, and a Fitbit reading 86,372 flights of stairs. Achievement unlocked!

I use Grayl and its line of purifiers, whether this works for you or not, I highly recommend you find one for yourself!

Concealed means concealed

What to do when your concealed pistol isn’t as concealed as you thought…

In our classes we always tell the students that if you are carrying concealed properly nobody else should know.  Last Sunday, in church no less (I am authorized to carry there), I let a few people know and it was an oopsie on my part! As I sat in the pews I thought nothing was amiss.  My Sig P226 was secured snugly to my side in a slim pancake holster covered by my sport coat. It was a nice new sport coat that fit well and has a cut that lent itself to great concealment.  It also had a 4 inch slit in tail of the coat that I thought nothing of as I shifted in the pew. The service was nearly over and I rose to walk up and take communion.

Creative commons photo courtesy of www.amtec.us.com

As I returned to my seat I noticed my friend in the next row.  Wide eyed and almost in a panic he silently mouthed ‘Your GUN!’ At first I was confused then I realized I was exposed! It seemed the handle of the pistol had poked through the slit in the tail as I shifted in my seat, when I rose it was pinning the sport coat to my body fully exposing itself on my right hip!  Now, thankfully I attend a church where the pastor is very happy to have me carry during service and there are other law enforcement officers that attend as well. No one who saw was too concerned. I quickly covered up and had a chuckle with my fellow LEO after service about what I just did. I’m not excusing my mistake, but it happens.  Here are some pointers to keep in mind should you commit this CPL faux pas.  

Regain concealment

If you are in a public setting (out on the street, in a store or the like) and you realize your pistol is exposed, or worse yet, have someone tell you it is, don’t panic!  Nothing has gone terribly wrong at this point. Chances are not too many people, if any noticed it. Its a sad fact that many of our fellow citizens go through their lives unaware of those around them.  Simply covering your pistol and straightening your clothes might be all you need to do. Do it quickly but in a manner not to draw attention to yourself.

Concealing and securing your pistol is priority one.

Deescalate

Generally speaking those folks that are weapon adverse that happen to notice it probably won’t make a scene so much as quickly exit the area.  If they are sticking around, you may become the center of their attention. You may have garnered the attention of some anti-gunners who believe it is their civic duty to accost and harangue you in public for your decision to peacefully and legally exercise your rights. Here is where it is very important to keep your cool.  If you are confronted by such a person this is not the time to have an argument. Someone confronting you in such a manner is not interested in opposing view. They are just interested in virtue signaling to all in earshot that they believe such and such and anyone who doesn’t is worse than Hitler.

Don’t give them the satisfaction of a confrontation.  Remember that everyone has a phone with a camera. Anything out of the ordinary will find its way to the Interwebs! Be kind, be courteous and go about your business. If they press a confrontation, remember it is not worth your aggravation, and simply leave. This isn’t about right or wrong, its about taking the most prudent course of action.

Mitigate unwanted response

You may have garnered the attention of someone who calls 911.  If the police arrive, stay calm; they are responding to a situation they have little information on and may act in a manner you perceive to be belligerent.  Don’t argue at that point. Their primary purpose at that point is to secure the situation and ensure their safety. If you comply the situation, if it was escalated, will quickly de-escalate. 

Thankfully the great state of Michigan recognizes that carrying a pistol is a right. While in the past the police could be hostile to this idea, that is not the case today. Most police officers are very enthusiastic about the private citizen being armed.  To that end they will simply ask you some simple questions to establish who you are and what is going on. Its a no-harm no-foul situation. You may get advised to keep that pistol concealed, but beyond that they will simply take your information (to confirm that they indeed made contact with you) and be on their way. 

Dealing with unintended separation

If, in the process of carrying, you physically get separated from you pistol (it came out of the holster, fell on the ground, or the worst: you left it somewhere), your first duty is to reacquire and secure that pistol. In a public setting if it hits the ground, heads are going to turn! Quickly and deliberately get control of that pistol in a manner that doesn’t endanger those around you.  If someone else should pick it up, using an authoritative voice, calmly and firmly instruct them to give the pistol back to you. Of all situation this is the one with the most risk. Hopefully they will comply quickly. If they do not, I cannot advise you on the proper course of action other than to say that you are responsible for that pistol and you need it to be safely in your possession. 

To that end you might have to do something. People will be watching and more than likely the authorities will be called. At the conclusion of such and incident, and God willing nothing bad has happened, you will need to re-evaluate how you carry and take deliberate and effective steps to ensure this occurrence is not repeated.

If you carry and do so responsibly, chances are nothing like the above will happen to you, but in the event something doesn’t go as planned, remember that you assumed the responsibility for concealment, there are cameras everywhere, and the best way to make up for irresponsible actions is to assume that responsibility immediately.

Stay Frosty!

This old revolver

Last month I got my hands on an old revolver my uncle had back when he was a cop some 40 years ago. I was, as always, excited to get a new gun in my hands, even if it was 40 years old. It was clear that the pistol, a snub nose .38 S&W, had not been fired for a long time. It was not dirty on the frame and the cylinder spun freely. The trigger pull was smooth and gave no sign of dangerous wear that could cause a failure. I ran a cleaning cloth across the pistol and was excited to add it to my collection.

photo by Berge Avesian

Later that week I grabbed a box of paper punching .38s and headed to the range. The first rounds down the barrel were smooth and surprisingly accurate for a snubby. Both double action trigger and single action trigger pulls were smooth and broke crisply and I was pleased with the gun. After 50 rounds I put it away and headed home, planning to give it a good cleaning later.

The next day I pulled it out of my safe to clean it, opened it up and discovered the cylinder would barely rotate. Closing the cylinder, both the trigger and the hammer would barely budge. I couldn’t believe 50 rounds of 38s would foul a gun so much.  I set to cleaning and oiling the pistol using M-Pro 7 foaming gun cleaner and Kleen Bore gun oil. When I was done the cylinder spun freely and the trigger and hammer moved smoothly.

Satisfied I had fixed the problem and cleaned the pistol well, it went back into my safe.  Looking at it the next day the same problems returned! It seems that the built up carbon from 40 years past was loosened and heated in the process of firing it and when cooled it gummed up the pistol.  My original cleaning would have been adequate for a pistol that was well maintained. This pistol needed a much deeper cleaning.

 I set to taking apart the revolver and removing the cylinder from the arm.  Bingo! 40 years of carbon fouling smeared off the cylinder arm. This gun was dirty!  

After a complete and thorough cleaning and oiling I’m pleased to report that the gun functions like new and there is no evidence of any old dirty carbon on the gun!  The lesson learned even if it looks clean, when you get your hands on a new (to you) gun, your first order of business is a thorough cleaning!

Happy Shooting!

Surefire E2D Exec Defender Tactical Flashlight -Final Review

It is with a not-so-heavy heart that I retire my Surefire E2D Exec Defender with the bulb (not LED!) as my EDC light. This light has been a part of my EDC and in my EDC pocket for literally a decade now.

I first started carrying the Surefire E2D as part of my martial training. We were focusing on modern protective implements that could be carried discretely every day. Outside a firearm and knife, the tactical pen and flashlight top the list in this regard for non-LEO carry. Their build is robust enough to use as a weapon, and proper shopping gets you something non-threatening in appearance for casual and discreet EDC.

Having a flashlight on my person was a game changer. There are many tasks we do where we “get by” with no augmented illumination, like when your black wallet falls under your car seat which has black upholstery, and it’s dusk. We can feel around for it, taking time, or just light up the space and grab and go. Similarly looking in bags, engine compartments, and any other tight space. Extra illumination is always a benefit (unless you still work in a photography darkroom).

When the LED lights started hitting the market, the argument was made that the solid state component was more durable than a bulb with a filament. I’ll concede that this is very likely the case. The part of the analysis that is left out, though, is whether the bulb is robust enough for its role. In other words, just because the LED might be better at enduring impact, does it mean that the bulb is inadequate?

I have a sample size of one. My E2D bulb light. During my 10 years with that light, I have used it as my primary illumination during low light shooting (support hand carry), primary illumination for a couple night navigation classes, and outdoor activities. I have run approximately 20 Personal Protection classes using it, and been a part of at least that many as a participant. These classes involve using the light to strike Bob (our assortment of torso targets) over and over, with different strike types, strike trajectories, etc. During these, the light is exercised as a possible blinding opportunity. Shine Bob’s eyes briefly and strike him. In short, I probably have well over 10k strikes with this same E2D in that time frame. Let’s be clear on some results:

  • 10 years of EDC use. Includes pocket use, wear, drops, etc. Includes indoor/outdoor use from 0 degF – 100 degF with Michigan humidity.
  • Approximately 40 classes, and personal practice, resulting in approximately 10,000 strikes on a torso target.
  • Minor transferred recoil force from low-light firearm training.
  • ZERO failures to illuminate due to (non-battery) issues.
  • ZERO bulb replacements.
  • ZERO switch issues.
  • ZERO non-cosmetic damage to the hull or bezel.
  • The E2D still functions.

Again, I have a sample size of 1 flashlight. Statistically that isn’t great certainty until you account for how far beyond ‘normal use’ this one sample has gone. For those discounting the longevity of a bulb, I’d have to argue against their stance.

So why switch now? In all honesty, I am not one for the latest gadget and gear for my protection-intent equipment. There is a wisdom in delayed-adoption of new technology. Performance gains are wonderful, but performance and reliability need to be balanced out. Since the single best place your money can be allocated is training, training can make up for the slight advantages early-adopters of new equipment have over the status quo.

Why retire this light? Basically, I want all the lumens. The E2D was a fantastic light for its era, with the bulb rated at 60 lumens output. Modern LED lights have far outshined (heh heh) this performance level, with $50 tactical-ish lights hitting 500 lumens. Dedicated gear like the Surefire E2D LED light will crank out 1000 lumens and has a low and high setting to help balance intensity vs duration needs.

In short, the LED technology has completely obsoleted the bulb light in this case. For a reasonable cost I can get over 10x the lumens. With the equivalent model E2D LED I have identical form factor. The only thing that has changed is brighter light and lighter wallet.