Situational Awareness: Beyond the Cliche

Every self defense instructor, every gun course, and every firearms expert will tell you, in every class, that situational awareness is the single best thing one can do to improve their odds of protecting themselves and their circle. The Cooper Codes of awareness are in almost every CPL class, and the “scan and assess” movement is encouraged after every drill practiced. This isn’t wrong, but is it as “right” as it could be? Is “awareness” truly being practiced?

In “Toward a Theory of Situation Awareness in Dynamic Systems” by Mica R. Endsley (Chief Scientist of the United States Air Force), situational awareness was originally defined as “the perception of environmental elements and events with respect to time or space, the comprehension of their meaning, and the projection of their future status.” This is very different than the lip service of “observe your surroundings”. Let’s break down the meaning in more detail, and see how it applies to protective training.

The perception of environmental elements and events

In most training classes, this is about as far as I see instructors present the concept. And sadly, even if students have been taught otherwise, about as far as they practice. This covers the observation portion of the scan and assess movement. The optical, tactile, audible, and olfactory inputs. The trainee is, if they do this part at all, allowing the observations to take place.

Yes, there is a lot we can do to train observation. When we are confronted with a threat, our brains focus on the threat itself, and our “brain processing cycles” are more dedicated to processing the information from what is in front of us. This sometimes manifests as sensory time dilation (we see things happening in slow motion) as well as tunnel vision (our brain quits processing peripheral vision information from our eyes). In fact, scanning and assessing is a way to force our brains to start processing our peripheral vision inputs.

There is far more needed than mere observation, though, to have true awareness around a scenario and therefore what is needed to be done in that scenario.

The comprehension of their meaning

This is the part of situational awareness that most practice of scanning and assessing or mere observation fails to include. The comprehension of the meaning of what is seen is a crucial aspect of awareness, if awareness is to go beyond anything but a visual deterrent (a bad guy sees you looking around and decides to wait for another target).

Observing the guy standing at the front of the gas station is a start, but when you observe he is looking up and down the aisles at cars and pumps and focusing on others who aren’t paying attention, or looking at people going into the convenience store then at their cars, the comprehension of meaning starts to show that he is casing the place and the patrons. At the other end of the possibility spectrum, he is completely engrossed in his phone’s screen, not looking up at all, and after enough observation isn’t even glancing up occasionally. Possibly, he looks over at the same vehicle multiple times, then at the street. Possibly there’s something wrong with his car and he’s expecting someone soon that will come and help.

These are all possibilities that can be derived when the observer begins to comprehend the meaning of what they are seeing.

The comprehension of meaning must also shed normalcy bias. When we are situationally aware, we are making a plan for when bad things happen. If we are at the grocery store and observe the back room of the store with an “Employees Only” sign, we can easily conclude that we aren’t supposed to be back there. Likewise the kitchen at the back of a restaurant, for instance. When we comprehend the meaning of these observations, with a “when things go bad” lens in place, the comprehension becomes “There is a back room. I can see an emergency exit that will trip the fire alarm. I am not supposed to go back there, but if I need to escape this way, I can easily do so.”

This becomes a far more complete awareness because we’ve comprehended the meaning behind the elements of our surroundings.

The projection of their future status

The projection of future status is a probable (and improbable) likelihood of the meaning of what has been observed. In the example of the guy standing in front of the gas station convenience store, there were a couple scenarios depicted. A projected status for the guy casing the place would be that he starts going up to people pumping gas and shaking them down for money. Another possibility is that he’s watching for unattended cars to rifle through before their owner comes out. In an innocuous example of him looking at a car with concern and the road, a possible projection of the status is that he is having car trouble and waiting for a friend, but there are other possibilities in mind as well.

The projection of future status must be performed with a risk (severity and likelihood) mentality in mind. It’s not always likely bad things are afoot, but our true situational awareness projects that these likelihoods are not zero-chance.

Conclusion

United States Air Force Colonel John Boyd developed the OODA Loop. Observe-Orient-Decide-Act. And in reality, every stimulus we experience in life causes us to go through an OODA loop. When bad things happen, we need to get through that loop fast and act to protect ourselves and our circle.

When we are truly aware, we are “observing”, but we are going well beyond that. When we are truly aware, we are “pre-orienting” the information we have to potential bad things happening. If the bad things happen, we are well through the major portions of the OODA loop, so we can very easily decide and act. Those decisions and actions will be informed by good observation, proper and complete (no normalcy bias!) orientation, and applicable decision and action based on extrapolating the meaning of the events.

When we train, don’t just go through the scan/assess motions. When out in the world, don’t just “see”. Comprehend meanings. Really understand the aspects of the things around you. Extrapolate observations into likely and unlikely projections.

Review: The Walther PDP 4″ Compact

Possibly the top shooting concealed handgun… if you can conceal it.

As a rule, I don’t like early-adopting a carry-intent handgun. I prefer to give it a year, let it hit the market, and with the public buying in mass, any issues will be seen. Simple statistics. The Walther PDP was designed and released in 2021, and has been on the market for just about a year. I bent my rule slightly for this because the reviews were largely great, but more importantly, reports of failures were nonexistent.

My recent evolution of carry handguns was the Heckler & Koch P30 (9mm), then the Glock 19 (9mm) with Trijicon RMR. I love the P30 for its ergonomics and accuracy. Its reliability is nearly legendary, and I have more rounds through it than any other handgun in my collection. It just fits right. When I got the Glock 19, it was primarily because most of my students have Glock 19’s so wanted to have plenty of trigger time on it to best help them. I opted for the MOS with the Trijicon RMR since this technology was entering the “widely proven reliable” status that is a proper benchmark for daily carry. I grew to love the red dot, and through regular practice was proficient at finding the dot.

When the Walther PDP came out, it became a way to “have it all”. Very high quality, well respected manufacturer, ergonomically superior firearm, ambidextrous equivalency, AND the MOS mounting built in. To top it off, grip texture that hit the sweet spot between grip stability and not too much roughness, and slide serrations that made grip exceptionally easy, without being “bitey”. Add to cart.

The shooting experience with the Walther PDP has been on par with my love of the H&K P30. In fact, because I have the RMR as a part of the system, it surpasses it.

That trigger tho…

The trigger is possibly the finest trigger on any production handgun. There is appropriate take up distance (the travel the trigger has between its fully forward resting position to when it begins to actuate the firing mechanism) for a defense-intent pistol.

This is followed up with a perfect transition to the trigger “wall” (where the trigger pull force becomes necessary to move the trigger back further). The trigger pull force is nearly perfect at 25 N (5.6 pounds), and the force profile from end of take-up to the wall is very quick, no feeling of starting to ‘overcome’ the wall (stacking or creep), just a clean, crisp break.

Overtravel (the distance the trigger can be pulled back after the break) is nearly nonexistant. Possibly 2mm of overtravel.

The trigger reset is defined, articulate, and consistent. The release distance to the reset is nearly perfect.

Ergo’s

Grip ergonomics are always a compromise between proper grip size and magazine space. The PDP grip is no exception, with a full, palm filling grip. Of course, there are three backstraps included in the box, accommodating multiple palm volumes. Walther even accommodated smaller grip shooters with an F-series of the same pistol featuring a much smaller grip circumference.

The slide serrations are “prominently discreet”. That seems like a complete contradiction until you’ve handled it, then it’s like “Yeah…”. They are very conspicuous and will likely become the hallmark feature of this pistol. (In fact, the plastic case this pistol comes in has design cues from these serrations.) When you cycle the slide for the first time, and your skin fills the serrations with positive purchase but the edges don’t bite, you’ll see. Walther found that perfect edge radius to negate any ‘sharp’ feeling, yet be angled enough to bite into anything available for a 1 hand slide-cycle or sticky hot mess slide manipulation on someone’s worst day ever.

The slide stop lever is ‘available’, but not the shelf-like lever that the P30 has. Nor does it need to be.

The grip texture is another home run. It is grippy without abrasion. Shots with wet hands were easily controlled.

I am in the minority with magazine releases. The P30 trigger guard ‘paddle release’ is a great feature, and I wish the PDP at least had it as an option. Nonetheless, it is well placed such that only purposeful pressing will be done.

Ultimately, it appears Walther looked at everything the Glock-modders do to turn their $500 gun into a $1500 gun while incurring $2000 in credit card debt. They then took those features and said “build these in to the production process”. The results are a $650 gun that is on par or better than the most respected names in production-volume firearms, such as H&K and Sig, with the feature-rich characteristics of a mod gun.

Concealability

For a “compact” class pistol, this gun is big. Those slide serrations come at the cost of extra mass to make that empty space. The gun’s width is 1.33″. To compare to a Glock 19 at 1.26 with a slide on only 1.0 inch thick, the Walther PDP is a bit bulky. Of course, it’s 2022 and even the ‘gold’ standard Glock 19 is getting dated as far as size goes. For instance, the Sig 365 boasts an overall thickness of only 1.0″. To complicate matters even more, “subcompact” class pistols are prominently 9mm and some have respectable magazine capacity.

For me at 6’2″ in height, I can manage to conceal the Walther PDP strong side, and also carry using a shoulder holster when I can. It is concealable, but I definitely know its there, and I’m sore some modest printing happens from time to time.

The great hubbub about the MOS mounting

Youtube is a great place for backwater “gun guys” to try to make a name for themselves, and the Walther PDP did not escape the musings of someone calling themselves a mechanical engineer. This particular hubbub centered on the MOS mounting strategy.

To mount an MOS red dot optic on a pistol, there is a milled out area atop the slide to lower the axis of the sight to the bore. The top of the slide in this area typically has some type of guide holes or grooves. The idea behind this is that when the slide cycles, the mechanical characteristics of the pins/grooves will absorb the forces generated from the slide cycling, so that the fasteners holding the optic on the slide don’t experience the force as much.

Next, an adaptor plate is used specifically made for that make/model gun. The bottom of the plate conforms to the hole/groove mounting strategy, usually having a couple pins, or a groove that mates with the slide’s grooves. The top of the mounting plate is specifically made for the optic desired. In a perfect world with no tolerances, the pins or grooves would indeed handle all the force generated as the slide cycles, leaving the fasteners with the only job of holding down the optic onto the slide.

The top of the slide on the first Walther PDPs was flat, with no mounting holes or grooves. A couple graduates of YouTube School of Engineering seized on this claiming the hardware WILL fail because the fasteners are doing all the work.

The issue with this claim is twofold: First, they don’t seem to take into account any form of tolerances. The reality is that even with the hole/pin method or ‘aligning groove’ method, there has to be some tolerances so that every adaptor plate will fit into every slide. The pins are necessarily smaller than the holes, and this extra space allows for minor movement of the plate relative to the slide. In short, the pins and grooves help, but they are not absolute insurance against “WILL fail”. As a corollary, the front/rear tolerance of the adaptor plate has similar tolerances, so any force generated will also prominently be mitigated on this characteristic.

Secondly, the YouTube Engineering Department failed to consider the metallurgical properties of the fasteners at all. There simply ARE metals that will handle the shear forces generated in this application. The metal against metal friction generated by the force these fasteners are tightened to, coupled with the shear resistance of proper hardware can, most assuredly, suggest that they will NOT fail. In fact, Walther tested their plates on multiple firearms to 60,000 rounds. In that test, ZERO issues were noted.

How it shoots

I’ll be doing a video on this so won’t get too detailed here. In short, it shoots like a dream. Recoil is well managed. Fast follow up shots are easy, and double taps (or controlled pairs or whatever the cool guys are calling it this week) had an average grouping of about 2.5″, commensurate with my H&K P30.

The ergonomic features make it a solid range gun. Target transition was fast, and the red dot did its job (fast target acquisition with defensive accuracy).

Conclusion

If you’re getting this gun for a CPL-intent role, be sure your method of carry, carry location, and clothing are all up to the task. It’s a bigger gun for a “compact” class. Nonetheless, magazine capacity is on point with other compacts, and it has the reliability and performance one expects from a Walther.

Shoulder holsters: Modern gear or yester-year?

A number of articles have recently come out by prominent firearms writers regarding the shoulder holster. Most of them relegate the shoulder holster to someone emulating English spies or reliving the glory days of 1980s buddy cop shows. But is there a place for the shoulder holster in modern times with modern carry methods and modern firearms? Let’s explore that and see.

The first thing we should do is define of the objectives and what we are actually looking for. Obviously a holster contains the firearm and makes it accessible when needed and safe when not. It is a balancing act between accessibility and concealability.

Secondly, the firearm, holster, location of carry, and clothing work together to make the ‘system’ of concealed carry. Our practice with that ‘system’ helps bring effectiveness. The ‘system’ stated above must serve the individual through needs of concealability, needs of access, and needs of range of motion.

Third, the ‘system’ should be judged stand-alone to fulfill needs.

Spectrum of concealability and accessibility

An ankle holster is quite concealable when carrying a small firearm. The pant leg is generally out of direct view, not an area that commands attention, and at a body location that sees regular, but consistent, manipulation (strides with movement). But getting to the firearm in this position requires a significant posture change. The wearer must kneel or bend over, or bring the leg up and supported to get the gun. The shooter will be very vulnerable and the draw will be very slow. Kneeling or leg-up is inherently unstable, and moving one’s hands from the upper-body ‘vitals’ area is a defensive risk.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is outside the waist open carry. Getting to the firearm can be incredibly quick, but concealability is nonexistent. The hands remain in the upper body protective zone and can defend against incoming strikes. Additionally, the very fast draw time means that even if the hand is out of defensive zone, it is out very briefly.

Ultimately, we are looking for reasonable concealability in our lives according to our comfort levels and the environment’s weapon permissiveness, balanced with immediacy of access.

Range of motion

Range of motion is the sum of movements that are a part of our typical day. Someone sitting in an office pushing a mouse around has a very different range of motion than a tree cutter or construction worker.

Where the firearm is staged on one’s body can affect the range of motion. Appendix carry inhibit bending forward. 3 o’clock or 6 o’clock carry can inhibit leaning to one side or the other. Any of these can inhibit reaching up for something and possibly exposing the firearm because the concealing garment shifted.

Next is actual range of motion needed on a job. The firearm strapped to one’s waist as they are on the ground changing oil is sure to get in the way. A professional driver sitting all day with appendix carry gets old. Every position and movement needed throughout the day needs to be evaluated from the paradigm of the firearm being present there. As an example, how many articles are there about public restroom use and waist belt carry? Dozens and hundreds.

Range of motion is usually a root factor in where we choose to carry the firearm. It is why we choose 3 o’clock carry, appendix carry, or something else. Especially when balanced against the needs of concealability, range of motion is important to keep the gun from printing or otherwise being exposed.

The reality for many people in real life is that if the firearm cannot be concealed it will probably be left at home; or worse, in a vehicle. Some firearms ‘absolutists’ (usually keyboard warriors attempting to claim a ‘no compromise under any circumstances ever’ faux mentality) would call this a “software failure” because the person chose to be unarmed instead of finding another solution, but the reality is for many people that if the gun prints, they will suffer some form of consequence. A lost client, disciplinary action up to loss of a job, having the police called on them for no reason, or other result from the firearms presence being known. This is a reality of life.

Stand alone comparison

Another measurable is meeting the needs versus comparing to something else. Most of the recent ‘shoulder holsters are archaic’ articles and writers evaluate shoulder holsters from the standpoint of “I like appendix carry and if shoulder holders are not superior to that then shoulder holsters suck“. This is not a true measurable. It may be their measurable, and it may be their bar for adopting it, but it does not mean that shoulder holsters are without merit. There is a difference between something meeting someone’s requirements and being the optimal way for them to carry for someone else. This is an important distinction.

In one YouTube video, a very well respected instructor even got the shot timer out for a comparison between appendix carry and shoulder holster carry. To his credit, he did practice with the shoulder holster for a couple hundred rounds and a few dozen draws before making the comparison. However, this instructor has on the order of 100,000 rounds down range or more, as well as thousands of appendix carry draw strokes in his experience. When the shot timer is within 1/10 of a second it is hard to take that difference in time seriously. The difference in time being portrayed as “conclusive” is not intellectually genuine given the disparity in experience between the two draw stroke styles. What would the difference be against an everything-else-equal shooter with the same experience in shoulder draw?

In short, the evidence of “I can do Draw A better than Draw B, therefore Draw B sucks” is not valid evidence for the carry method. It is evidence only for that individual at that point in time with that set of user needs. With additional training and additional experience, those results are subject to change.

Actual experience

These are basically our user needs. How concealable we need it, and how accessible we need it. Other factors, such as concealing garments the type of gun carried and the extent at which you will practice with this particular system are all factors.

To prepare for this article, I have been wearing a shoulder holster exclusively as my means of carry for four months. I started carrying shoulder holsters in cooler months when I had over garments to cover it, as well as had a number of work things to do around the homestead where belt carry was more problematic to my range-of-motion needs.

My user needs are pretty much average. I need the firearm to be concealed, not to print too much, and to be as readily accessible as it can be. My daily carry is a Walther PDP Compact with a Trijicon RMR site. Because the shoulder holster was not going to be primary carry when I bought it, and was for evaluation purposes, I did not go crazy with a custom holster. I got the AlienGear Shapeshift shoulder holster. (I am not a fan of AlienGear in general, and consider their waist holsters to be meme-tiered gear. In this case though it was a reasonable choice since it was one of the most modern shoulder holsters made and had availability for my primary carry.)

In reality, it isn’t that bad. It has a little bit of flex for upper body movement and is not restrictive as leather-strap-only shoulder holsters would be. It also has an anchor point at the belt, making the holster a bit more fixed when drawing the firearm. I think it is a reasonable modernization for this carry method. I would like to try a traditional shoulder holster in this role, but I’ll save that review for a later date.

As for concealability and accessibility, It carries in such a way that it is not generally noticeable. If I am wearing a zip down hoodie, the firearm is undetectable. If I am wearing an over shirt with a T-shirt underneath, and the over shirt is mostly unbuttoned, the firearm is barely noticeable. Someone would have to be purposely looking. A button down shirt with an undershirt is not unreasonable, or carrying with a shirt and a heavy or light jacket depending on the weather. In these cases, the holster-firearm combination is not detectable.

With concealability needs met, accessibility needs were evaluated. I am fortunate enough to have access to a private range where I am able to draw from holster, including shoulder holster. I spent a significant amount of time dry firing the draw and then live firing the draw, in a mixture. This helped to ensure that the dry fire application adopted was validated along the way with live fire results. In all cases, I was able to get shoulder holster draw within 15% of in the waist draw on a shot timer. Considering I had decades of from-the-waist draw, this was a very reasonable achievement. If someone were to adopt shoulder holster as their primary means of carry, they could probably achieve similar results to waist draw.

Keep and Bear LLC has a course called ‘Positions and Transitions’. If you have a martial backgrounds, it is effectively a “breakfalls and bullets” course that trains in going from standing to kneeling, prone, supine, and urban prone, and back up again. The purpose of the course is to allow the trainee to not only conform to any cover or concealment that is available to him and retain the ability to proficiently respond, but also to proficiently respond if they are knocked down or find themselves in a violent altercation from a position other than standing. The course employees a great “library” of shooting positions and was therefore used to evaluate the shoulder holster from these positions.

The advantages in accessibility to the firearm in the shoulder holster were stark. Because the torso area is basically the fixed point of the body which other parts are reference to, the draw stroke from the shoulder holster remained remarkably consistent. Whether standing, kneeling, supine, or urban prone, the draw stroke was the same. This had distinct advantages over the 3 o’clock carry position because to access a 3 o’clock carried firearm, one’s elbow has to extend past the back plane of the body. This requires rotating to the left in the supine position.

Side of body carry had advantages when drawing from prone. Because the shooter is on his stomach, he can access the 3 o’clock position rather easily. It was more difficult to access the shoulder holster firearm from this position, but with training and practice it was achievable. Drawing from appendix carry in the prone position was problematic, but was achievable when using the support arm elbow and knees as a bridge to create the room to access the firearm.

You’ll shoot your eye out, kid!

A common criticism of the shoulder holster is the premise that to draw the firearm, the wielder must sweep his own arm or people to his left (assuming a right handed shooter). I reject the notion that the shoulder holster cannot be drawn from without sweeping your arm or those around you. This is a falsehood uttered by either bias, inexperience, or an inability to train properly. When one grips the firearm in the shoulder holster and gives the initial pull to deholster, the support arm should be squeezing the holster in place if possible. It isn’t absolutely required, but does add a modicum of rigidity. Immediately after that initial pull, the support arm comes up slightly in a chicken wing. It doesn’t have to be a very high up because the shooter should be drawing the holster up into a Sul position, not sweeping through a sideways arc to achieve a full extension position. Evaluators that are using a full sweeping motion like that appear to be either stacking the deck against the shoulder holster application, or they are not truly “expert“. Yes, I said it.

Once the primary hand and firearm are in the Sul position, extend the firearm out normally with the support hand quickly following and meeting up with the handle to achieve a grip. The firearm can be fired during the extension single-handed, and eventually double handed like most people shoot with an isosceles grip. This movement should be akin to shooting movement most have practiced extensively.

When drawn this way, the muzzle does not sweep the entire side arc of the person. The muzzle was at the 6 o’clock position and downward, rotated to the ground position, then swept at the ground as it was pulled around the body through the 9 o’clock to the 12 o’clock position. Sweeping to the side is amateurish and unnecessary.

Conclusion

The major benefits of a shoulder holster, are not really in concealability or in deployment. They are in range of motion and comfort. And by comfort I don’t mean comfortable, I mean that it frees up a significant range of motion library for the wearer. In reality, we all have various ranges of motion we go through during the day. Whether we are denizens of the cubicle, with sit down stand up and run to the vending machine actions, or like a friend of mine who repairs restaurant equipment and is always reaching for things while on the ground, range of motion is very significant. This is something that needs to be considered in a carry strategy, and there is no universal correct answer. There is only correct for you. For me, the range of motion with a shoulder holster was met. Occasionally laying down and fixing some thing around the homestead, the shoulder holster took the gun out of my waist where a bunch of weight is normally distributed, and put it out of the way. Driving, it took a “bunched up feeling“ out of the equation entirely as the gun was up on my upper body. As a left-handed person sitting at the wheel, to deploy my firearm I would have to lean to the right since there’s no room for my elbow when making a waist belt draw. The shoulder holster allows me to literally draw from the holster with no upper body movement required for this. This is a significant advantage. For people who drive a substantial amount of time, and for people who have a lot of movement in their waist area or up and down and the like, a shoulder holster has considerable merit.

After the tragedy

We watched the Oxford High School shooting coverage with sadness, as well as interest. Recently, the NYC shootings. In these horrendous events, we see the heroics of people as they protect others in the face of evil, all the while recognizing these heroics should never have had to be displayed. Our concern and our heartfelt prayers are offered to the families of the victims, and those survivors who must overcome the violence visited upon them. We feel resolve that something must be done.

In a sad testament to our political state, these events are swooped upon by various news outlets and politicians to predictably use the incident to advance their agenda. They deceitfully use a veil of illusory compassion to push gun control. They don’t ask an open ended and inquisitive “What can we do to prevent this?”, they instead state “How do we take away the guns?” They don’t partner with gun safety groups, ranges, and education providers, they vilify them. If education is the key to understanding, why is education shunned for this topic? Agenda. Fear drives this agenda, and since education replaces fear, education is vilified.

After these events, I go through my IM conversations. I read my friends’ posts and the conversations with others. I recall the phone conversations that I’ve received because I am an instructor.

Some of these conversations want technical details… The gun used, the capacity, reload time, how easy it is to shoot. I tell them that the firearm isn’t really the issue, but answer their questions that the pistol is a reliable one, does what it was designed to do, that reloading can be accomplished in about 10 seconds with practice, and about 15-20 seconds for the relatively unfamiliar, and that the capacity averages about 15 rounds per magazine. I try to emphasize that the police, law abiding and peaceable people choose and use this firearm or one like it, and that it is the will of the user that determines the outcome of the machine’s use. There is no mind-control chip in the bill of materials for any gun.

Most want information on ownership safeguards… The ownership process. Background checks. Waiting periods. “You can buy a gun in 15 minutes!”, I hear. I explain how there are many, many disqualifying civil and criminal convictions that preclude ownership. I explain the NICS system (a national database of disqualified owners) and how it checks for these. I explain that just because a check is ‘instant’ does not mean that it isn’t thorough. If you run a filter in a spreadsheet, are the results more legit if the program takes longer to show the filtered results? I just googled “hovercraft” on Google. The top line tells me: About 12,600,000 results (0.55 seconds). Would my results be more legitimate if it took 2 minutes for the same results? Three days? A week? If I cracked open the Dewey Decimal System from the local library archives? I ask why the NICS check is different. I ask what a waiting period here would have done. I ask why it is referred to as a “cooling off period” as one friend put it. I ask why they think this terminology is used. Agenda.

Like this last point, many of the statements I’ve received were the typical “I’ve been programmed” and ask why the NRA exists, why the Second Amendment exists (my favorite is “It applies to muskets!”), and the general malaise of “rights-elimination for everybody is OK because I don’t value that right”.

The majority of the questions I field are lumped in to two categories:

  • Should we have guns?
  • Should the guns be so ‘usable’?

This is the part that perplexes me, and honestly frustrates me a bit. Why are some people so willing to blame a machine rather than having the moral fortitude to blame the shooter?

Why are some people so willing to blame a machine rather than having the moral fortitude to blame the shooter?

It boils down to a single, solitary concept: Personal responsibility. Some people are very consensus-driven. The “we” is their moral and ethical compass. Where the herd goes is correct. The type of person who immediately attributes their wrongdoing to “It wasn’t my fault…” or “Yeah but they did….”. For many people, their personal responsibilities are shirked onto the State. Social security instead of saving for retirement. Dependency on handouts instead of seeking employment. Demanding government pay for college. Or whatever else.

This ‘shirk mentality’ is so alienated from the thought of personal responsibility that those with it cannot even ascribe the casualty-event to an evil doing person. The gun becomes the easy scapegoat, free of personal consequence, and happily reinforced by an agenda-driven media who view disarmament as a virtue and believe that a disarmed people is somehow elegant and sophisticated. The gun is some form of sponge, soaking up the universe’s evil, and if we could just somehow melt them all down into steel ingots, that evil would dissipate into the ether and the world would be shiny happy people holding hands.

Now let’s answer “Should we be allowed to have guns?”. Ownership of arms is a freedom all people have. The right to defend one’s self is the right of all living things. That defense may be in the form of biting, poisoning, hiding, camouflage, flight, or even a high proliferation rate from a species stance. We humans are tool users. We are thinkers. We can choose some of these options, AND can choose to use tools. As our capabilities for tool use becomes more sophisticated, so does our tools.

The low-information set of people that believe the Second Amendment protects our right to own muskets miss the point. Defense is a universal right (and any person or government infringing on that right is despicable, and their authority over the individual should be thrown off). It isn’t about the tool, it’s about this basic right of the living.

The very nature of the question is insidious from the standpoint that it pre-supposes that “we” have the right to decide for “us”. “We” do not. I have the right to decide for me. You have the right to decide for you. And if you think you have the right to decide for me, and attempt to enforce that decision, I have the right to defend my rights from your illegitimate authority. This is a vigilance we need to strengthen. We will not tolerate your proposed infringements any further. And certainly not become some evil cretin chose to be evil.

The vilification of training

This is the newest anti-gun agenda item. The vilification of training. Those who train in the proficient use of firearms are somehow concerning. The ‘gun culture’ is to blame.

Every year there are tens of thousand professional and amateur shooting sports enthusiasts practicing marksmanship, practicing the effective wielding and operating of the firearm, practicing moving defensively. And yet the shooting sports community is not responsible for crimes, and members of this ‘culture’ are not the murderers in instances like this.

I had one friend decry on her facebook page the villainy of training. Stating the apparent skill of the shooter, and the proficiency in shot placement. At least she wondered about the state of mental health of the shooter (in an instant message to me) and that mental health needs to be a higher priority, but in the same breath she also opted to infringe on gun ownership through more stringent background checks (which would have failed in the Oxford incident because the father was the purchaser).

The news has likewise been rife with ‘journalists’ (translation: Preformed opinion holders needing a photo op) taking gun training for the sole purpose of criticism. Overlooking every facet of a class instructing safety, justifiable use of force, responsibilities of ownership, etc., for that one potential nugget of something that wasn’t quite right for them to hyperfocus all their preconceptions into.

In November, a guy in Waukesha WI drive his car into a crowd, killing 5 and injuring approximately 25 more. Yet the same people decrying the vilification of firearm training did not vilify the driver’s ed program. They did not suggest making cars harder to buy.

In actuality, the lack of training injures or kills far more people each year. Alec Baldwin, who opposes gun rights, squeezed a trigger and killed a movie worker. If your first instinct was to say “Ya but the armorer was supposed to..”, do us all a favor and read the part about personal responsibility again.

  • Alec did not treat the firearm with the respect due it (as if it were loaded).
  • Alec did not prevent his muzzle from sweeping things he was unwilling to destroy.
  • Alec did not keep his finger off the trigger. (Yes Alec, you DID pull the trigger. Stop lying.)
  • Alec was not aware of his target.

Had Alec not been so agenda-driven, not been so opposed to TRAINING, had taken a single class in gun safety, then Halyna Hutchins would still be alive.

We need to do better as a society. We need to shrug off the fear-driven Agendites. We need to get gun safety back in schools. We need to take responsibility for ourselves and those in our circle. Me. You. As individual people. If Uncle Dave ‘aint quite right’ and buys a gun, we need to confront him on that, as his family unit. We need to store our guns safely. And most importantly, we need to retain the right to defend ourselves against evil, and be able to act to protect each other.

Out with the old…

In October, Don became a USCCA Instructor for the Concealed Carry and Home Defense Fundamentals course. This course is accepted by the State of Michigan as suitable to obtain a concealed pistol license. The switch was made for a number of reasons, including more up to date and relevant information, better informational flow, and more support from the parent organization to run classes to assist instructors and students alike.

We have been running the NRA’s Personal Protection in the Home (PPitH) course for almost a decade now. Honestly, it’s a good course, and covers what it intends to rather well. The State of Michigan asked for a few things as training standards, including justifiable use of force education, at least 30 rounds downrange, and basic protective strategies. The NRA PPitH course covered these, and the State chose it as an acceptable course for a CPL.

The noticeable gap the state created here was that an in-the-home intent course was being used to cover beyond situations. While many of the strategies taught in PPitH were equally applicable in either paradigm, more could be done to help bridge that gap. We continue to respect theNRA PPitH course for what it is intended. It is a solid course. The state simply misapplied it.

When we made the choice to switch to the USCCA curriculum for a CPL, it was done with a few measurables in mind:

Must emphasize SAFETY repeatedly.

Both courses do this well, but the USCCA uses the better updated Jeff Cooper rules of gun safety (and a modern application of them). The reason the Cooper rules are better is that they apply ‘going forward’ into much more advanced training. The NRA rules are more than fine for the average Joe, but we’d like to ensure our students have the opportunities to experience “well above average” Joe.

The NRA Rules of Gun Safety

  • Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction: A solid rule. In fact, it is repeated in the Cooper’s Rules
  • Always keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot: Again, a solid rule, and also repeated in the Cooper rules.
  • Always keep the gun unloaded until ready to use: When storing a gun, it should most definitely be unloaded. Clarification needs to be added that when it is holstered and being carried protectively, the gun ids “in use” and should be loaded.

The Cooper Rules of Gun Safety

  • Treat every firearm as if it were loaded: A VERY important concept that the NRA rules miss. Always having the same respect for the firearm regardless of its state of load is a very important training and mindset consideration.
  • Never allow the muzzle to sweep anything you are not willing to destroy: A slightly more detailed version of the NRA rule, with the connotation of added consequence.
  • Keep your finger off the trigger until you are on target and have made the decision to fire: Again, a very similar rule to the NRA rule, with added purposefulness and emphasis on the deliberate.
  • Be aware of your target, what is behind it, and what is in front of it: A very important extrapolation of “Never allow the muzzle to sweep anything you are not willing to destroy”. But instead of focus only on the target, it forces a consideration of everything along the potential cone of effect.

Ultimately, both sets of rules are adequate. NRA advocates will argue that their rules set is general enough to encompass everything in the Cooper’s rules, and they’re probably right.

Should safety be ‘general’, though?

Must emphasize conflict avoidance and violence-as-last-resort

Both curriculums do this, and both do it well. Both stress that lethal force is an absolute last resort tool, and the need for such a tool is a life-changing consideration.

I am admittedly a compartmentalizer. Things need to go in their spot. And the NRA’s curriculum is very neatly done. As such, the stress on these concepts appear in a couple spots in the class. Definitely in the first module discussing force and survival, again in the legal portion, and here and there throughout.

What I liked about the USCCA class is that these concepts of conflict avoidance and last-resort are mentioned throughout the curriculum. It is a repeating theme. It is visited and revisited at least 10 times in various areas of the curriculum. Circling back to these fundamentals through all the various facets of personal protection strategy shows a maturity of thought in how the curriculum is ordered, and better serves the student.

Must prepare the trainee for concealed carry*

….. *as much as 8 hours allow.

This is where the USCCA curriculum outpaces the NRA curriculum. And honestly, it’s no fault of the NRA curriculum, it’s what the State of Michigan decided to use. The NRA PPitH is IN THE HOME. No holster work. No real out-and-about strategies (you can extrapolate the in the home strategies to beyond the home). The NRA has an outside-the-home course that is well regarded. The USCCA curriculum is intended for concealed carry. Out-and-about strategies are a part of it. Holster selection is a part of it. Use of force continuum is a part of it.

The truth is that 8 hours isn’t enough for mastery of these topics. And if that fateful day ever befalls us, mastery is what we will wish we had. 8 hours is the minimum set by standard. So it comes down to one simple question:

I have 8 hours with my trainees. What do I instruct them to maximize their survival while minimizing their risk?

If I start with a blank 8 hour canvas, what would I put there? In short, the USCCA course puts more of what I think it’s important to cover. Both courses have some decent stuff, but slide-for-slide, topic-for-topic, ther USCCA curriculum is more relevant overall.

A better use of our 8 hours together.

Conclusion

Both are great courses. Berge and Don absolutely stand behind every minute of every hour of every class we have instructed. We pour our knowledge and energy into each course to maximize trainee benefit. And while no two courses can ever be exactly alike, we maintain the highest standards of information and safety we can possibly achieve. We believe that, going forward, the USCCA curriculum positions us more able to continue to achieve this.

Tactical Homesteading: Your space and its use

This article is part of a series discussing if Homesteading is right for you, and the advantages and disadvantages of more rural living.

In the last post there were several considerations about the location of your homestead. Commuting and telecommuting, distances you can tolerate, a more isolated lifestyle, infrastructure needs, and risks and resources. In this segment, let’s consider what we can do with our property and how we can put the land to work for us.

Available resources

The first thing to assess is the resources already available on the land. What foliage exists, and what types of flora might be beneficial to invest in. When I purchased my property, the original owner had planted many apple trees. The advantage is I have abundant apples, but years of neglect have destroyed many of these trees and bringing them back to health has been a chore.

Additionally, we’ve found very large sugar maples, and made maple syrup for the first time. There are abundant blackberries. We found a large patch where morel mushrooms grow in abundance.

We have countless deer, rabbits, and cranes visit our yard regularly.

The natural woodland one would expect is a bit missing on my property; the previous owner having cleared much of it away for an orchard. I heat with firewood, and there is limited standing timber to harvest.

I have wetland on my property, and a small lake only 50 yards off my property line. A cordial neighbor agreed to water access and fishing rights.

Our first full jar of maple syrup! Tag added for fun!

Accessing the resources

Once the resources are identified, it makes sense to ease your ability to get to them. Whether making a path through the overgrowth, turning a section of overtaken orchard back into ‘yard’, or even installing a dock, getting at needed resources is very important.

When I was clearing some overgrowth with my tractor, I noticed a gap between the trees. The grass was easily 5′ tall in this area. I put my front end loader near the ground. This not only beat down the grass and prevented my tractor’s radiator from becoming loaded with debris, but it acted as a handy probe in case of rocks or stumps. The rear of my tractor was equipped with a rotary cutter, able to mow down all manner of foliage and even saplings up to 3″ thick.

As I followed the new trail, I realized it must have once been the access road for the orchard. It circumnavigated the entire orchard area, and finally doubled back to the central area I had built my house.

This trail now provides important access to the wetland, the maple trees we tap for syrup, and out to the corners of my property.

Start grooming the land

Similarly to utilizing the resources already at hand, start grooming the land for expanding its capabilities to meet your needs. For me, that was putting in a gun range. It was also clearing back much of the overgrown grapevine and Asian Bittersweet that has invaded the property.

Depending on how much land you have and the amount of work you want to do, you may leave some land overgrown and natural. It’s fine.

Importantly, LEARN TO GARDEN AND BUILD A GARDEN. This is the one thing I wish I had gotten to earlier. It doesn’t take much to install one, and garden maintenance can be one a few hours a week. The self sufficiency gained is very important as you get real, tangible results after only your first season.

Look over your garden and revel in the self sufficiency it will one day provide. No HOA Member telling you the tomatoes are ‘unsightly’, or the sunflowers are bringing too many bees to the area…

A 16′ x 4′ raised bed garden

Assess your needs

Now that you have something started, grow into it. Trying to feed a family of 4 with just what you grow, and hoping to accomplish that right away, carries a high chance of failure. Weeding the garden is hard at first. What is food and what is unwanted. How hard is it to tell? Why does my back hurt? You definitely have the energy for a smaller garden, and can work your way up as you gain experience.

Within a couple season, you’ll have a great idea of what your family likes and dislikes, what you might be able to sell, and what grows best in your area. Use that knowledge and focus on it; just don’t focus to the exclusion of other things. You family has dietary needs, both nutrients and caloric intake.

After a couple years is the time to truly start to assess those needs and expand for them.

Building infrastructure

Whatever you add, you will likely need equipment to upkeep it and make it thrive. IBC totes allow you to store water for the long haul. This is great for gardening.

If you are making syrup, a network of tubing and a way to route it might need to be thought up. Trees might need pruning while you know what branches are healthy in the summer.

I built a small shed for my gun range. No more lugging targets, pylons, staple guns, and other equipment every time I go out there.

Find the experts who KNOW each topic. Trade them your knowledge or pay them.

This is a marathon!

Remember, you will not achieve self reliance and sustainability overnight. It will take a couple of years just to feel like you’ve gotten started. A few more to feel like you’re thriving. Along the way, you are getting better. More knowledgeable. Wiser. You’ve worked, and know what works. Things go from a “That’s impossible!” to “Gimme 5 minutes” pretty quickly.

Tactical Homesteading: Location

For more on this series, see the intro, here: https://keepandbearllc.com/2021/02/28/tactical-homesteading/

Homesteading is basically using your land and skills as a resource to achieve some type of resiliency. To begin with, “your land” will have a location, and that location should be based on your needs. To determine your needs, be realistic with yourself and your family about what is important in your lives, and don’t give in to fantasy or flights of fancy about your wants and needs. It may sound romantic or refreshing going completely off grid 40 miles from town, but if hitting the bar or the yoga studio is one of your major solaces, then that 40 miles will begin to be a barrier to your happiness. Let’s look at some considerations when choosing a location.

Commute?

If you commute to work, you have to consider the drive distance and drive time to get there and back. It’s no secret that bigger land requires a more rural area in general. Just how far are you willing to drive? Moreover, how crowded are the roads that way? Will you be able to achieve a sense of peace and solace if you have a 45 minute bumper to bumper stop and go headache twice a day?

An easy way to reduce this concern is to telecommute. Thanks to the pandemic, employers have really opened up to this possibility, with some employees contributing more than ever since they no longer have a drive time, and are interrupted less than having a presence in the office. Have a legit conversation with your boss. What does the job allow for? What are the boundary conditions? Are there any measurables that can be put in place to evaluate the possibilities?

Other distance concerns

Other commuting concerns are distances to stores, hospital, emergency response, night life, etc. What are your vulnerabilities as far as needing outside help or resources? If you’re the type that goes to Lowe Depot 8 times to finish a project, the distances might become formidable. Alternately, if you buy stuff for projects once, are handy and adaptable, maybe the distance is acceptable.

Telecommute/Infrastructure?

If your job allows for telecommuting, your next step is to choose a location where the infrastructure supports the activity. If you’re so far out that only satellite internet is available, you’ll need to really ascertain if the bandwidth and data caps prevalent in these plans will support your work. Satellite internet has earned its lackluster reputation. High ping (the amount of time a signal takes to get to the destination) makes it horrible for any computer gaming, and can create awkward and unnatural pauses in videoconferencing.

Likewise, movie streaming, gaming, uploads and downloads, and other internet activity can be severely hampered if you’re too remote and the infrastructure to support your needs isn’t there. Ping kills. Ascertain if your lifestyle allows it. Again, don’t give into some notion that life will be simpler and Little House on the Prairie when you are an avid gamer. You like what you like. Support that.

For many, unlimited cellular data plans strike the balance between remoteness and connectedness. Evaluate if cellular data speeds are adequate, and which providers cover that area. Take a hotspot or use your phone as a hotspot and test by watching YouTube or the like.

Community

If you’re the type that prefers to have friend over all the time, and thrive in a busy community, homesteading may not be for you, or you may have to settle for a smaller lot closer to urban and suburban areas. We’ll be discussing distances from these areas in the next article. This article is really creating zones of area one can look for when considering a rural move with preparedness in mind.

Risks and Resources

If you are lucky enough to have the entire country to consider for a job, consider the threat scenarios you’ll inherit by moving there. If you move to a trailer park in Kansas you had better prep for tornados. Likewise, if you move to California, Nevada, or Arizona, you will need to contend with drought and possibly wildfires.

Likewise, areas have their own inherent resources. The heartland has vast farming capability. The Great Lakes region has an abundance of water and woodlands. Finding the right risk versus resources balance is important.

In the end, location is vitally important, and will be a continuing theme for the remainder of this series. The considerations here are just to provide an overall list of considerations. Actual threat reduction comes next.

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.