Tactical Tourist Need Not Apply

I had a guy email me recently asking me:

“Is it really that bad that we need to own all these weapons and train to protect ourselves every weekend? Our parents did not do this stuff, why are we? Are we getting duped into thinking that this TERRIBLE EVENT everybody is talking about is going to happen to us at any minute, so we better be ready and spend our hard earned money on training and weapons that could be going into an IRA or our Kid’s vacation fund?”

It was an intriguing question, I must admit.  It was intriguing to me personally because honestly, I had never thought about it.

It had always been my lifestyle to train.

Yeah at first like most folks it was a hobby, then pretty quickly it became a way of life; and therein my friends lies the rub. The key to really understanding the mentality behind this amazing sub-culture of “tactically minded civilians” is understanding it’s their LIFESTYLE!

You see if it is anything else but a lifestyle, lazy human nature will eventually kick in and suddenly the drive and fortitude to continue will dry up. Your training will become intermittent and worthless and eventually you will become that lowest form of animal, the basest of all creatures; the “tactical tourist.” This person is a member of every tactical or prepper forum out there and is never short on opinions on how to be the deadliest form of mall ninja imaginable.

He is one of those guys that likes to argue why one instructor is better than another or why one instructor’s platform is superior to another. Blah, blah blah. He may have started down the right path, the path to becoming a prepared and dare I say “Dangerous” civilian, but somewhere along the line he slipped off and started following a trail very similar, a trail that petted his ego and made him feel good about himself, but in the end he was no more prepared than when he started and the only thing scary about him is his bank account. It’s a sad but common story.

OK, so you know when you make a statement like this there is one finger pointing at you and three back at me, right?

The solution is quite simple.

You have to STOP talking and START Training.

YOU (not somebody else) have to develop goals of what you want to learn and accomplish and find QUALITY people with solid backgrounds to teach and help you and GET TO WORK!

Compare the time you spend arguing/jawing about a topic or trainer and the time you actually spend TRAINING on that topic.

You will often find the results woefully out of balance.

Get off the inter-web and get out of the tactical training”cult of personality” circus. When I first started, I had no ideal of what I needed to learn, so I learned a little of everything. Modern technique, point shooting, krav-maga, sambo, filipino knife, combative knife, systema, tomahawk fighting, how to pick a lock, how to bypass a siphon block, etc. And as time went on, I tailored and developed COURSES OF FIRE for each weapon system I owned.

Remember: Your skill sets need to be all encompassing, not just WEAPON oriented, but FIGHT oriented.

Your dry to live fire ratio should be like 70/30.

Dry fire is something that can be done practically anywhere so do it!

Your drills should change frequently.“Never get stale or satisfied” was a motto I once read on a gym wall, and I try to apply that to all areas of my life.

Adapt your training to what your enemy is doing. For example, in the military, if VBIEDS (Vehicle Born IED’s) are on the rise, then “How to Assault/Stop/Disable a moving or static vehicle” becomes priority on the training calendar. As civilians we need to do the same. If Active Shooter or Home Invasions are on the rise, we need to hit that head on with SITUATIONAL Force on Force drills.

Lastly, and this is a big one lately. Let’s all stop the useless jabbering about what MIGHT happen in the world and start training to deal with the worst possible case scenario.

From a practical standpoint this is a much better use of our time and resources. Do you honestly think that our enemies are wasting time jabbering about the POSSIBILITIES of what will happen in the future or are they just training to kill us in the most efficient way possible?

The gauntlet has been laid down and TIME is short.

The life you save could be your own So TRAIN Hard, Realistically and Often!

Stay Alert, Armed and Dangerous.

 

Riflemanship

Make good scouts of yourselves. Become good rifle shots so that, when it becomes necessary that you defend your families and your country, you can actually do it!”- Baden-Powell, founder of Boy Scouts

“The Rifle  is a weapon. Let there be no mistake about that. It is a tool of power and thus dependent completely on the moral stature of it’s user. It is equally useful in securing meat for the table, destroying group enemies on the battlefield and resisting tyranny. In fact it is the only means of resisting tyranny since a citizenry armed with rifles simply cannot be tyrannized.” -Jeff Cooper

“Men trained in arms from their infancy, and animated by the love of liberty, will afford neither a cheap or easy conquest.” – Declaration of the Continental Congress, July 1775.

“The Russian invasion of Finland in 1939 (“The Winter War”) gruesomely demonstrates the way a small force of righteous and determined men, armed only with rifles, can embarrassingly frustrate a much larger, even mechanized, force. Precise rifle fire from well-trained Operators, using guanine battle rifles, is still the deadliest force in warfare, even today!” – John Farnam

 

I have found in my life that when things start going sideways it is always best to refer back to the FUNDAMENTALS to get back on track, since it is often the fundamentals that get forgotten first under severe stress.

We are living in trying and dangerous times. It’s time to get back to the BASICS.

The DUTY of the responsible armed civilian since this country’s inception was to be a RIFLEMAN first above all else.

If you ask me we have become a nation way too obsessed with handguns.

Let’s get back to our partisan roots and put the priority back to becoming RIFLEMAN first and a Handgunner second.

Understanding both are a highly perishable art form, so we need to do three things consistently: PRACTICE! PRACTICE! PRACTICE!

Seek out qualified BTDT instruction from guys like Brushbeater and Paul Howe over at CSAT.

You know how you get to Carnegie Hall , don't you?

Secondly, Support organizations that are ensuring this Rifleman legacy continues on to the next generation.

Encourage parents and youngsters to invest in America’s Rifle Legacy and it’s Survival:

Support and Get Involved with the Appleseed Project and the NRA CMP.

Stay Alert, Armed and Dangerous!

Examining GW Tactics: Fire and Maneuver in Urban AO’s

From the Archives, 2016

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In a recent Article, Law Enforcement told how they found a very large collection of ‘tactical writings’ in the home of Dallas Police Shooter and Army Panty Bandit Micah Johnson.

According to Police, the tactic of “Fire and Maneuver” or “Shoot and Move” was the tactic seen most often in Johnson’s “voluminous” notes.

Since Johnson’s MOS and military career was devoid of any real Combat training or experience while in Afghanistan, Where Johnson actually learned these tactics is up for debate. John Mosby in his superb Mountain Guerilla blog  makes the case that Johnson was taught these tactics possibly by somebody who had participated in Mil-Sim (Airsoft).

My personal opinion is that Johnson at some time or another, post-Army career, received training by Black Power militants within the BLM community, who are most likely, according to Robert Spencer from Jihad Watch connected with HAMAS through the help of CAIR, which is widely known to financially support Terrorism.

The student of history and Guerilla Warfare does not have to look very far back to see the deadly nexus between 1960’s  Black Power militant movements, like the Black Panther Party and the Nation of Islam led by Louis Farrakhan, so the BLM/HAMAS-CAIR connection is by no means a conspiratorial stretch.

Below is a video of an Armed Black Panther Rally/March in Austin, Texas in 2015. Note the chants about how the streets are “Our Streets” and “Oink Oink, Bang Bang” (overtly alluding to how they will Kill Law Enforcement).

When one starts piecing together the Dallas attack, the “Shoot and Move” tactic used by Johnson was one of the main reasons police thought there were facing MULTIPLE shooters, instead of just one shooter, as the fire was coming from many different positions. Gunfire echo in an urban setting combined with the chaos and high stress most likely attributed to this confusion.

This is a very important lesson to learn, both in the study of Guerilla and Counter-Insurgency Warfare (COIN). The guerilla must use any and all “force multipliers” to his advantage to try to overwhelm the enemy (both mentally and physically.) One of the greatest force multipliers is the APPEARANCE that the Guerilla (or the Guerilla Force) outnumber the Conventional Force.

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This tactic most often manifest itself as a psych-warfare tool first. Keeping the enemy confused and fearful creates hesitation in how they will respond both tactically and strategically, which gives the guerilla more time to plan and attack. We can understand this point better as we listen to the Police radio traffic from that day of the attack in Dallas.

Now that we have briefly touched on some of the offensive aspects of fire and manuever warfare, let’s talk about the DEFENSIVE aspects.

The armed citizen must understand that regardless if it is you and a perp facing off at 10 feet in a gas station parking lot or you pinned down in an urban shootout like the one in Dallas, MOVEMENT = LIFE!

I will be touching on some of the more detailed aspects of urban sniping and fighting in some later installments, but right now the key thing for you to remember is to ALWAYS MOVE TO SOLID COVER AND KEEP MOVING UNTIL YOU ARE OUT OF THE KILL BOX.

In Combat Shooting you will often hear the maxim: “GET OFF THE X” (With the “X” Being the Kill box.) For those of you that understand how the OODA loop works (Observe, Orient, Decide and Act) when you MOVE In a fight, regardless if it is empty hand, stick, knife or gun, you force your enemy to RESET their OODA Loop. Even something as simple as a side-step can buy you 1/2 a second of reaction time in a fight and that half-second may be all you need to neutralize your opponent  or escape.

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When we are talking about a situation like the Dallas shooting, where civilians were caught out in the open with a shooter in an elevated position, Movement can be a tricky thing. Depending on the shooter’s elevation, your cover may be of little use since the shooter may be able to position themselves to look OVER and DOWN onto your position. This is what I mean by having SOLID or COMPLETE cover. Remember, If you don’t have a solid roof over your head, it’s a possibility he can see you and consequently, shoot you.

Combine this fact with the shooter using “Fire and Maneuver” tactics and this is how you can end up being PINNED Down and eventually overwhelmed and killed. I cannot stress enough how important movement is in these situations. Staying “planted” in a kill box, regardless of how “safe” you feel, is a sure-fire recipe for a funeral.

Pictures from that day show how officers and civilians alike were “hugging” the ground, Getting as LOW as possible behind vehicles or any cover that was available.

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Staying low as possible is a good tip anytime shooting is taking place, however in an urban setting where the shooter is elevated, it is mandatory. We will discuss more on “Urban sectors of fire” in another post, but for right now it will suffice for you to understand that in an urban setting, depending on how elevated the shooter is, he may be able to shoot farther on the “oblique” than he can straight on, it just depends. Of course what type of rifle he is armed with and his skill level play heavily into that equation. I recommend John L. Plaster’s The Ultimate Sniper and his chapter on Urban Sniping for more advanced reading on the subject.

 

Stay Alert, Armed and Dangerous!

Balancing Safety and Realism in Civilian Firearms Training

From the Archives, 2014

 

The following video was sent to be by a good friend who routinely trains with a former Spetsnaz member. At first glance, most people’s reactions are the same “This is CRAZY!!”but not until the end where Larry “arfcom” Vickers explains these are extremely advanced RUSSIAN FSB MILITARY Courses of Fire, meant for advanced SF MILITARY OPERATORS do things start to make some sense as to the reasoning why somebody would do a drill so risky and potentially lethal!

I had the opportunity to take a 2 day Advanced AK rifle class from a former FSB operator a few years back. I was aware of his background and “unorthodox” training methods well before I ever signed up for the class, and I was extremely excited to get to train with him. What I took away from the class was several things: (1) I need to shoot my rifle more (2) Unlike most firearms classes I had taken before, safety was not continually “harped” on; the training took priority, and because of that, I was able to assimilate much more information.

This is not to say the class was unsafe in any way, quite the contrary, it was very safe, it was just that notorious “Gun-Range Safety Nazi” mentality did not exist for this guy; he was not raised around it in Russia, it was not something that was “ingrained” into him; the only thing that mattered to this guy was the training and sharpening the edge.

What I experienced at that class was what civilian firearms training should and could be. I realized in an instant that the focus and mentality of most civilian training here in the states was skewed. Safety had become the overwhelming priority to the point that a weird “sub-culture” had emerged around it, and now, instead of talking about new and better ways to train and improve our readiness as armed civilians, people were devoting entire online forums to trainers who were “unsafe”.

Now let me be clear; In no way am I trying to advocate that  the “Shoot me at close range” drill in the video above is something civilians should ever attempt or try to implement in their training regimen; NO, ABSOLUTELY NOT! As stated in the video, that is a drill meant for Highly-Trained Military Operators, not civilians! What I am advocating is that we, as concerned, responsible, civilian operators, take a very hard look at how Civilian Firearms Personal Defense Training is done. Is the training really made a priority or is firearms safety too highly emphasized to the point of being “excessive/obsessive-compulsive” about every little thing, ie, “The Gun-Range Safety-Nazi-Syndrome??”

So, what happened to us? Why has this “syndrome” infected almost all gun ranges and firearms training courses in America? In a word: LIABILITY. In our overly “litigious” society, firearm trainers who operate independent facilities simply have to “CYA” in these areas; their very livelihoods and financial futures are at stake otherwise. Lawsuits, Lawyers and Umbrella Liability Insurance Policies are expensive; extended litigation in court for personal injuries or worse, a wrongful death/manslaughter suit, where a judge/jury could find the trainers actions either  “Reckless” or “Criminally Negligent” are basically a death sentence for the trainer and his company. In the age of social media it only takes a few hours for a person’s reputation to be destroyed, regardless if the “facts” of the case are pure conjecture or not.

Another reason I believe the “gun-safety nazi” craze is so prevalent is due in large part to the liberal agenda that ATTEMPTS to cast further dispersion on legal gun owners and people who train with weapons for self-defense.

Oh, I can hear it now: “OMG!! Now, he is blaming the Liberals, what next, the Illuminati!?” But seriously, ask yourself, haven’t you noticed an inordinate amount of news “reports” or “special documentaries” by shows like Dateline, 20/20, Frontline, etc. on either “gun safety”, “kids and guns”, “accidents with guns by kids”, etc.?

I know I am not the only one who has noticed this trend, right? The goal of course for all of this is to try to convince mainstream America that Guns are just”unsafe” and only “certain people” (ie Law Enforcement) need to have access to them. To further this point consider President Obama’s current nominee for Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy, a rabid anti-gun activist and promoter of the “Orwellian” ideal of combining “healthcare and gun control”. Consider for a moment how that dovetails in nicely with “obamacare” and you get the picture. This is the  man the government wants to put in charge of the entire nation’s “Health and Safety?”. Laughable.

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Former Season 3 Top-Shot Champion, Dustin Ellerman , who owns and operates Camp His Way, which offer Marksmanship Classes for both adults and youth (see the Review of the Youth Marksmanship Class HERE) had this to say about the over-emphasis on Firearms Safety:

“Sometimes we get so carried away because of liability and the anti-gun homophobic crowd we can go overboard on safety.  This of course is magnified online and self-appointed “safety-nazis” who will flame a shooter if they see them shooting without ear protection even if it’s a suppressed firearm!”

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Paul Howe, former Army Delta Force Operator and owner/operator of CSAT, gave us his take from a trainers perspective:

“Many instructors end up screaming at students for safety violations that students are unaware of.  This is counter productive to training.  Remember, students are new to your system and way of doing things.  Some are new students that do not know, some are older students that learned a certain way of doing things and have “training scars” to undo.  Instructors should build a stair-stepped training sequence that builds and ingrains a safe way of doing things.  In short, you have to show the students what you want them to do and how you want them to do it and then they need to practice it to ingrain it so they create a good habit during your training program.  Good instructors take the time to ensure this training sequence is in place.
 
So after experiencing that rifle class, I knew that in addition to doing away with the “safety nazi’s”, the civilian self-defense firearm training paradigm needed to be overhauled if the CO wanted to train realistically and have a real shot at being adequately prepared.

After some reflection, I came up with this:

1. Abandon the Square-Range. Literally if possible, Mentally if NOT possible

We live in a 360 degree world, where threats can come from any direction. In drills, a Square -Range cannot address that. Of course for some, this may be impossible due to not having access to a place to drill live-fire 360 degrees. That is why I added the caveat of abandoning the square range MENTALLY and then implementing live-fire later. Since repetition creates habits (good or bad), most of these drills can be done with dry fire, your goal being to flush those bad habits that the square range has bred.  I will be doing a series of installments on how you can do that incrementally in your training.

2.  Abandon the “Competition” Mentality

This goes along with flushing all the bad habits associated with the square range. Combat Shooting and Competition Shooting are not the same animal.  IDPA and IPSC used timed drills to induce stress to simulate the stress of combat shooting. What was born out of this, was a generation of shooters who placed more emphasis on marksmanship (“tight groups” and “shooting the x ring out”) rather than Combat Accuracy, that is to say, shooting to live and going home rather than points on a scoreboard to boost our ego’s. Bottom line: any hit on the attacker’s boiler-room (chest) or Hard Drive (head) is good for you, bad for them!

Two other “ill” side-effects of the “Competition Mentality” are first, allowing the course of fire to dictate the speed in which you move, regardless of the specific tactical situation and second, always firing a specific number of rounds instead of what the bad guy (or situation) dictates you fire to neutralize them.

Here is what Paul Howe said in his article “Avoiding Fantasy Gunfight Training”

“Who dictates the speed of a fight? The bad guy and how fast he falls does. It might be a fast or slow process (the bad guy dying), but one should get in the habit of solving one problem at a time before moving on to multiple threats. You can shoot two rounds on paper or ping a piece of steel and move on to the next target, but in reality, two rounds punching paper or the sound of steel being struck may not solve your problem.”

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3.  Coordinate Timed Drills with Cognitive Stress Drills to Induce Stress and reinforce Discretionary Shooting

We saw an example of this in the second drill in the FSB Vid above. When me make the shooter engage the cognitive part of his brain while addressing threats we make him reinforce Discretionary Shooting. The civilian has to remember that in our overly eager “lawsuit happy” litigious society, that for every bullet he fires in self-defense, there will be a lawyer and a lawsuit attached to each one! So, as the LE/Military Operator has to make sure he can control the trajectory of each round he fires to avoid collateral damage, so must the civilian operator be certain that every round he fires is as responsible as possible.

One of the best Cognitive Targets is the multi-colored/shaped and numbered paper targets from LE Targets. We saw something very similar in the video, where a certain number/color/shape had to be shot while at the same time  negotiating various “stressors” (people yelling/pushing him). To be realistic as possible, the CO should use both Environmental and Physiological stressors.  Environmental Stressors would include things such as random gunfire, people yelling and screaming, car horns, etc. Physiological Stressors would include your own body’s reaction to stress, such as: increased heart-rate, sweaty palms, sweat in your eyes, tunnel vision, loss of fine motor skill, slowing down of time, etc. Prior intense exercise combined with timed evolutions and a continuous flow of movement will produce some of these effects.

 4. Movement = Life

Gunfights do not happen in a vacuum; they are dynamic and fluid and a majority of the time, over in under a minute. Despite what you see from Hollywood, when bullets start flying, people start moving, very quickly and to cover if possible. If our training is to be realistic, we must place a higher priority on displacement (ie Getting off the X) and moving toward cover than being able to shoot precisely 100% of the time. I remember a certain instructor once asking me if it was more important to “shoot the enemy” or “not get shot”; being young and full of piss and vinegar, I answered it was more important to be able to kill the enemy, thinking the alternative answer would make me sound like a coward. I was wrong. “If you get shot, your combat efficiency goes to ZERO, you are of no use.” To fully understand this concept, consider the OODA loop; when we move, even if it just a simple lateral sidestep, we reset our opponents OODA loop, he now has to REACT to you versus ACT on you, which puts you seconds ahead of the eight ball in the fight, and seconds count!

5. Fitness and the “Combative Continuum”

The age-old false belief that having a gun solves all your problems needs to be dismissed. It has encouraged laziness and lethargy in the area of CO fitness for some time. Being that most civilian shootings are well under 10 feet, having a set of combative strikes in your toolbox to gain both distance and time from your attacker is mandatory. You also have to understand that not all encounters will call for lethal force. The student must have the mentality of “One Mind, Any Weapon” and believe that no matter what they have in their hand; stick, knife, gun or even bare-fisted, they can still fight and inflict damage (even lethal), if need be. By the same token, if the CO is out of breath 15 seconds into the fight, or has zero upper body strength, everything we just talked about is a moot point. Now before you get discouraged because of age or disability, I am not talking about a “Rambo” Fitness routine, just a basic set of cardio and resistance/strength training that is tailored around handling the effects of stress during a fight. Combative sparring combined with Force-on-Force drills with training weapons is a great way to begin.

6.  The “Sight Continuum” Concept

Simply put, the Sight Continuum poses the question to the student: “When do you have to use your sights?” The KISS answer: “When you need too.” Understanding that the need for accuracy varies in combat shooting, unlike Competition shooting, where a majority of people have learned basic marksmanship (ie, The Modern Technique). Understanding that in Combat Shooting, Distance and Need for Precision are going to be the two biggest factors in having to use your sights. If a bad guy is 6 feet from you and closing with quickly, the need for sighted fire is a moot point, (unless of course he has a hostage and you can only take a head shot, in which case, a fast precision shot comes into play) otherwise, a “metal-on-meat” sight picture (the frame of the gun super-imposed on the attackers center of mass) would allow a much faster response.  The bottom line is that both sighted fire and point shooting have a role in the CO’s training, it is just a matter of understanding that no two combat situations are going to be alike (ie the continuum concept) and we must have both methods in our arsenal to call on equally to be adequately prepared.

This lapel-cam video of a December 13th shooting involving the Albuquerque Police Department involving an attempted officer assault by a hammer wielding maniac shows the speed, distance and sight picture of your average handgun engagement. Note the sight picture that the officer has when he begins firing, around 1:00; although the gun sights are visible, it appears the officer is using more of a “metal-on-meat” sight picture (the super-imposed image of the handgun frame on the attackers center of mass). Could this be because of the effects of stress the officer’s focus was not on the “front sight” but the guy charging his partner with a hammer? The distance (under 6 ft) did not demand a lot of accuracy, but the speed and veracity of the bad guys attack did demand getting rounds on target ASAP; thus the merit’s of point shooting in the CO’s toolbox.

In order to stay prepared, the CO’s  training HAS to reflect STREET reality, not Hollywood Fantasy!

Stay Alert, Armed and Dangerous!

Dave Lauck sends: Notes On Competitive Shooting

In his later years Jeff Cooper was highly critical of the IPSC and other Competitive Shooting organizations for their over-emphasis on the use “race guns” versus everyday carry guns.

Bottom line, if you are going to use Competitive shooting to keep your skills  sharp, TRAIN with what you carry (and wear) everyday and keep the drills practical and realistic to what you would face on the street.

The world is not a 100 yard static square range!

 

Shooting match update: Last week 70 guns gathered in AZ to compete in accurate steel shooting at high speed. I was able to take first place centerfire autopistol overall. This week 60 guns gathered to complete in an accurate steel shooting rematch at high speed in ‘tactical order’ as specified by the match directors. I…

via Dave Lauck sends: Notes On Competitive Shooting — American Partisan