Your Tactical Training Scenario- Pistol as Impact Weapon — Active Response Training

Good advice from Greg Ellifritz on the use of a firearm as an impact weapon.

Written by: Greg Ellifritz Have you ever considered using your handgun as an impact weapon? Before you do, you may want to think about a few things. Take a look at this article. A cop used his pistol to break a car window and accidentally cranked off a round. Don’t think that…

via Your Tactical Training Scenario- Pistol as Impact Weapon — Active Response Training

Crossing the Line

A look at the way we in the firearms community interact on social media.

Armed Missouri, Inc.

I see it regularly on social media; the gun community rallies together to subject some poor soul to scorn, ridicule, and mockery for saying or doing something the group may not approve of.  Perhaps they said something perceived to be stupid.  Maybe they espoused a technique that defies the norm, or they may even have done something that is dangerous.

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Get Your Mind Right

I’ve previously written about the importance of a defensive mindset HERE and HERE.

The defensive mindset is the foundation to your entire defensive strategy regardless of the training you’ve had or the tools you carry.  Just as a building with a compromised foundation can result in a crumbling structure, an inadequate defensive mindset can result in your entire defensive strategy falling apart in the midst of a fight for your life.

What a Defensive Mindset IS

So what does a good solid defensive mindset look like?  Here are some identifiable characteristics:

Proactive: A defensive mindset is one that is proactive.  Proactive people are the ones that get a permit to carry a firearm as soon as they can rather than waiting for a potentially violent situation in their life to prompt them into action.  They are the ones that then seek out much more training than their state requires.  They are the ones that develop a plan for their range time so their time and ammunition is productive rather than wasted by just putting holes in a paper target.

A person with a good defensive mindset shouldn’t wait for a need to arise to develop skill or obtain equipment.  They should spend time learning about the techniques they are most likely to need in order to adequately defend themselves and then seek training in the implementation of those tools and techniques.  Discovering you aren’t equipped with the necessary skills or tools in the middle of a fight for your life is a bad time to wish you had been more proactive.

Introspective: A defensive mindset is one that is introspective.  Introspective people understand what they are capable of because they spend time thinking about their current level of skill.  Instead of an over-inflated opinion of their abilities, they have a true knowledge of their capabilities.

You should never be afraid to take a long hard look at yourself.  Your skills can never be improved inside a vacuum.  Put yourself to the test.  Find a training class or a training partner that will allow you to test your skills in a safe but realistic environment.  Will you be humbled?  Probably.  I, myself, have been humbled many times in many classes when the skill I thought I possessed failed me.  But that’s how we learn and it is essential to skill development.

Retrospective: A defensive mindset is one that is retrospective.  Retrospective people are the ones that have a clear training plan for the future because they know exactly where they have been in the past.  They see the failures in past training experiences and they learn from them.

We all fail sometimes.  After a training situation in which I feel as though I failed, I like to list the things I feel like I did “wrong” and the things I did “right.”  Only through this introspection, can we learn from our mistakes.  A training environment is where we want to fail so we don’t when it really counts.

Dominant: A defensive mindset is one that is dominant.  Dominant people are the ones that others naturally look to as leaders.  Displaying your dominance to an attacker might very well make them change their minds about attacking you.

Dominance can be displayed in the way you conduct your daily life.  Looking people in the eye and standing erect are indicators of a dominant personality.  Displaying dominance may cause an attacker to choose a different person to attack.  Even if it doesn’t, it’s possible to deescalate a potentially violent encounter by asserting dominance over an attacker.  Some people are born with a dominant personality but a dominant attitude isn’t reserved only for those few.  Virtually anyone can learn to impose dominance over another with the right instruction and practice.

Aggressive: A defensive mindset is one that is aggressive.  I’m not talking about people that are intentionally mean to others.  Those people aren’t aggressive, they’re jerks.  I’m talking about those that have determined beforehand that any degree of violence should be met with an even greater degree of violence.

When necessary you should be ready, willing, and able to meet violence with more violence.  Street thugs often don’t understand attempts at peacemaking but they do understand violence.  They understand that the winner in a fight is the one that displays the propensity for the most violence.

Flexible: A defensive mindset is one that is flexible.  Flexible people understand that anything can happen in a fight.  For that reason they intentionally keep their plan of action open to improvisation.

Mike Tyson astutely noted: “Everyone has a plan ’till they get punched in the mouth.”  This is why you shouldn’t place too much stock in choreographed fighting moves.  Keep your options open.  Most defensive encounters devolve into street fighting regardless of the training of either participant.  Limiting yourself to “real” fighting techniques will put you at a distinct disadvantage.  Remember, there are no rules in a fight for your life except one: win.  Any technique or weapon that allows you do get closer to winning is valid.

Unrelenting: A defensive mindset is one that is unrelenting in the struggle to win the fight.  People that refuse to give way to the attacker, no matter what happens, generally prevail in the fight.

You may consider the officer that was attacked while confronting a mall shoplifter (you can see an interview with him HERE).  At some point he became certain he was going to die.  He determined at that moment that he was going to make sure he took the attacker with him.  This unrelenting mindset not only allowed him to prevail but he survived.

What a Defensive Mindset IS NOT

Now that we’ve discussed some key characteristics that define a defensive mindset, let’s define some things that a defensive mindset is NOT.

A defensive mindset is not unafraid.  Courage can be defined as “acting in spite of fear.”  Being afraid in a fight is OK.  Setting your fears aside and doing what is necessary to win the fight is the key.  It is a lot easier to do that if you have spent time being proactive and developing the right skills.

A defensive mindset is not unwilling to run away.  Unless you’re a law enforcement officer, you have no legal obligation to continue a fight.  Running away from a fight is not a sign of weakness.  In fact, it takes a modicum of strength to make the decision to run rather than continue the fight.  As an armed citizen, your goal should be to win the fight and go home at the end of the day.  If running away achieves that goal, you should consider it to be a viable option.

A defensive mindset is not all about situational awareness.  Being situationally aware is great… when you are situationally aware.  A person with a good defensive mindset will realize that they can’t always be situationally aware.  It simply isn’t possible to go through life being aware of every little thing no matter how hard you try.  Distractions occur all the time and we usually don’t even realize we are distracted in the moment.  An attack will almost definitely occur in one of these unaware moments instead of when you can see it coming.  Having a good defensive mindset means you will train to deal with surprise attacks.

A defensive mindset is not all about a gun.  Guns are great defensive tools but one can defend themselves without the aid of a gun or any other tool.  You are the weapon.  The gun, knife, club, pepper spray, etc. are just tools.  They are force multipliers that can help get the job done much like a lever helps move a heavy object.  A person with a good defensive mindset will spend time learning how to defend themselves with nothing if necessary.

A defensive mindset is not lazy.  Getting better at anything takes work.  In the case of self-defense, it can take a lot of work since we can’t practice our skills every single day.  I recommend taking at least two training courses each year, even if you’ve taken them before, as well a regular range time for yourself preferably with a training partner.  But far too often I see people put trivial matters before training and practice.  Taking time to rest is mandatory.  Not putting in the work because of laziness or discomfort is unacceptable.  A rainy day is no reason to skip that class you signed up for.  Get out and do the work.  Bad guys don’t take days off so we shouldn’t either.

Becoming proficient in self-defense techniques is a balance between training and practice, and spending time with family and friends or doing your honey-do list.  It should be an important part of your life because your life depends on this knowledge and skill but your life doesn’t have to revolve around it.


Now that we’ve defined a defensive mindset and described several characteristics of what a defensive mindset both IS and IS NOT, I would ask you this: Is your mindset right?  Do you have a solid defensive mindset or do you need to work on it?  Does your defensive skillset have a firm foundation or is it a bit shaky?

If we’re all honest, most people, me included, would admit that we still need work.  Maintaining this mindset is difficult and sometimes all but impossible.  Life gets in the way.  Time and finances are limited.  We all have demands on our attention that it can be hard to meet.

I simply try my best.  I do everything I can to make myself a less desirable target and a more likely victor in a fight.  I ask you to start today with some good introspection of your own.  Once you know where you are, you can move forward.

“Where can I get the quickest, cheapest class?”

Yes, you read that right. Here are a few of the questions I’ve seen posted on social media sites in just the past week:

  • “My mom wants to get her CCW permit for Christmas. Who offers the lowest priced course?”
  • “Can anyone tell me more about the online Virginia CCW course? I like the idea of being able to just pass an online test and get a non-resident permit, and it looks like I can get it real cheap.”
  • “Where can I get a fast, cheap CCW class in the St. Louis area?”
  • “Who has the best price on a concealed carry permit class?”

I think you get the idea. You could probably look through gun forums and gun pages on social media sites and find hundreds of similar questions from just the last couple weeks alone.

Folks, I get it. Money is tight for everyone. There are a hundred different things we have to spend our money on each month: car payments, rent, mortgage, insurance, food, clothing, gas, utilities, entertainment, etc. Add in the fact that Christmas is nearly here and money gets even tighter due to the fact that we want to buy all of our friends and loved ones such nice gifts.

Still, I think when it comes time to seek out training that, potentially, can help keep you out of (or land you in) jail, we should probably place a little more emphasis on other factors and a little less emphasis on “quick and cheap”. And this is where I believe a lot of people that are new to firearms, new to shooting, new to training, and new to the idea of carrying a firearm on their person for personal defense, go wrong. They simply have no prior experience upon which to base their decision making process, so they revert back to the same criteria they use to make many other choices in their lives – “quick and cheap”.

First, I think it’s important to have some understanding of what a “CCW class” typically consists of. While most states have some slightly different requirements, most I am familiar with mandate a very basic firearms safety class with some variety of legal presentation thrown into the mix. These classes usually involve instruction in the mechanical aspects and operation of firearms and ammunition, safe gun handling practices, basic shooting fundamentals, and in the case of the Missouri-compliant class, a pretty in-depth look at our Use of Force and Weapons laws. Oftentimes, the state will mandate the class take a certain amount of time (8 hours minimum here in Missouri) to complete, and that they include some type of live-fire qualification. The state will also generally specify what kind of credentials the instructor must have before being approved to teach the curriculum – and these credentialing requirements are often minimal.

So we’re not talking about rocket science or brain surgery here. These classes are generally designed to help ensure that the student has obtained enough competency to not shoot him/herself or another innocent party with the gun because of unsafe handling, and has a good enough understanding of the legal considerations involved with owning, operating, and using a firearm so that he or she doesn’t end up doing something negligent or unlawful with it. And while we can certainly argue the finer details of each state’s requirements, for the most part, these are exactly the kind of classes a new gun owner should avail him or herself of. It’s important for them to have at least a basic understanding of how the firearm operates, how ammunition functions, how to handle a firearm safely, and a basic understanding of legal considerations.

Next, I think we need to try to define exactly what it is that constitutes competent instruction. As we just talked about, the curriculum itself isn’t really too complex. It focuses on BASIC nomenclature, BASIC skills, and BASIC legal concepts. It doesn’t require 4 years of college and a degree to be able to properly teach this stuff. What it does take, however, is dedication, determination, desire, professionalism, and the ability to be able to truly help new shooters develop solid basic shooting skills. And this is more difficult than you may think. I’ve trained over a hundred new instructors over the past several years. Based on my observations and experience, I can unequivocally tell you that people aren’t just born with an innate ability to recognize and diagnose major flaws in execution that new shooters often exhibit – much less the ability to recognize and diagnose subtle, minor flaws in execution. And even when a trainer does recognize or diagnose a problem, that doesn’t mean he or she will understand what is needed to correct the problem, much less be able to convey what needs to be done to make the correction in a competent, easy-to-understand manner. It takes a lot of effort and a lot of experience to truly get good at working with new shooters – and you can be damn sure that it takes a lot of dedication on the part of the trainer to actually put forth the time and effort that each student in the class needs and deserves.

The same thing applies to the informational instruction that takes place in the classroom. Sure, anyone can read from a book and explain to you how to operate a firearm, but quality training involves multiple delivery methods including logical, easy-to-understand explanations, competent and accurate demonstrations, and then ample opportunities for the student to actually put the instruction into practice under the watchful eye of the trainer in order to enable the skill development process to take place. And when we start talking about the legal aspects of the class, the ability of the instructor to convey accurate, legitimate information in an easy-to-understand format is even more important. The fact is that most instructors have a fairly poor understanding of how statutory law works. They simply haven’t dedicated enough time and resources into developing a true understanding of the sections of law they are required to teach. Again, anyone can read statutes from a piece of paper, but that doesn’t equate to a practical understanding, especially when you consider the “legalese” that most statutory law is written in. It takes a lot of time and study, and typically a lot of consultation with attorneys and other legal professionals, to truly develop a good understanding of any given section of statutory law. Now some instructors avoid this trap by hiring an attorney to teach the legal portion of the class, but at the typical $150 – $200 per hour rate for a competent attorney, you’re not likely to find that in a “quick and cheap” class. Likewise, if you are dealing with an instructor who has invested the time and money that it takes to develop a good understanding of the law, you’re going to find that they place more value on their time than what “quick and cheap” allows for.

So I think it’s safe to say that competent instruction can only be provided by the dedicated professional that has obtained high-quality instructor development training, who is well practiced in the accurate delivery of the curriculum, who has enough experience under his or her belt to have developed the ability to recognize, diagnose, and subsequently correct typical problems new shooters encounter, who has invested enough time and money to develop a solid understanding of statutory law, and who continues to further his or her education so as to continue to improve and grow as an instructor. These, I believe, are the bare minimum attributes you should demand from an instructor, even when we are talking about “just a CCW class”. And they should be tangible. Your instructor should be happy to answer questions, provide references, discuss his or her qualifications, and provide you with information about his or her class PRIOR to you laying down any of your hard earned money.

So how does “quick and cheap” fit in here? In reality, it doesn’t. We’ve already concluded that, while the curriculum is fairly basic, it is still very important. Additionally, we’ve discussed what it takes to deliver this very important curriculum in a competent manner. The truth is, a high-quality instructor is going to insist on delivering a high-quality class. That means this instructor likely has thousands of dollars of his or her own money, and hundreds of hours of his or her time, invested into everything it takes to bring you that high-quality class. This instructor has high-quality firearms available to use for demonstrations and for his or her students to use on the range. This instructor provides high-quality, reliable ammunition for his or her students to use. This instructor uses the proper targets as specified by the statutory requirements. This instructor has quality eye and ear protection on hand for every student in attendance. This instructor has obtained and maintains professional liability insurance. This instructor has a legitimate, proper trauma kit on hand and has at least obtained basic first aid and CPR training. This instructor provides some variety of student manual or handbook, usually one that he or she has written and published on his or her own, to every student in the class. This instructor keeps his or her class size down to a safe, manageable size and considers that it takes additional time to provide each student with the one-on-one interaction that the student needs and deserves.

With all of that said, this is the hierarchy of considerations I recommend when trying to decide on a class to attend:

  1.  What credentials does the instructor have? Do they meet the minimum the state requires? Do they exceed the minimum? In what way? Are they relevant to the type of instruction this person is providing? When do they expire? What does it take to maintain them? Remember, minimum credentials don’t arbitrarily mean you won’t get quality training. Likewise, credentials that exceed the minimum don’t arbitrarily mean you will receive high-quality training. But it might tell you something about the emphasis this instructor places on continuing education. It might also be a good idea to check with whatever entity in your state (perhaps the local sheriff, state police, or some type of public safety administration) that is responsible for approving instructors, to make sure he or she is on that approved list.
  2. How long has the instructor been providing this kind of instruction? Just because the instructor is “new” doesn’t mean he or she is bad. Likewise, just because an instructor has “been doing this for years”, doesn’t mean he or she is good. Still, you want to get some idea as to how long this person has been providing instruction. If it’s been “years”, then it might be good to know approximately how many of these classes this person has taught and to how many students. If it’s been “only a few months”, then it might be a good idea to know who they took their instructor training from and look into that entity to try to get an idea as to what kind of quality this entity demands from it’s trainers.
  3. What relevant experience does this instructor have? Was he or she a competitive shooter? Did he or she work with a group like BSA? Was this person ever in law enforcement or the military? Do they have some other relevant experiences? Keep in mind that experience in ANY of these fields does not guarantee competent instruction, but it could tell you something about the integrity of this person.
  4. Request at least two student references and two professional references. A professional trainer should have no problem with providing a few legitimate references you can check on. In fact, a true professional likely has dozens of former students and professional colleagues that are more than happy to speak on his or her behalf and vouch for the quality of instruction that he or she provides. Do your homework and actually check these references! And if your instructor refuses to provide them or gives you the run around, that may be a good reason to start looking elsewhere.
  5. Ask about the class he or she provides. Will the curriculum meet all of the legal requirements for your state? Is the instructor qualified to teach the legal portion of the class, or does he or she hire an attorney to conduct the legal presentation? How many students does he or she normally have in these classes? Is there plenty of time for hands-on instruction in the classroom before the students are expected to begin any live-fire instruction? Does the instructor make it a point to work with each student one-on-one during the live-fire portion of the class? If the answer to any of these questions is “no”, or if it seems as though the instructor is trying to cram too many people into the class, once again, it may be time to start looking elsewhere.
  6. Does the instructor have a current professional liability insurance policy? Does he or she keep a proper trauma kit nearby during the class and does he or she, or someone else who will be present for the instruction, have basic first aid and/or BLS skills, and CPR skills? If not, why? Again, perhaps it’s time to start looking elsewhere.
  7. Lastly, how much does the class cost? Expect high quality to cost more than “quick and cheap”, and not only be willing to pay it, but demand that you get it in exchange for your payment! Keep in mind that the amount of overhead varies for each instructor. An instructor that owns his or her own classroom and range facility might well be able to offer high quality instruction at a lower price than the instructor that has to pay a local gun club for classroom and range rental. That doesn’t mean you should avoid the higher priced class necessarily, but it is definitely a factor to consider. If the class seems like it is priced substantially below most of the others in the market, there is usually a reason for it, and you may want to approach it with skepticism. Likewise, if the class is priced unusually high, it might be good to ask why. If the instructor replies, “…because in my class we go way beyond the basics…”, it may be time to back up and start your search over again. Yes, you will eventually need to go “beyond the basics”, but you need to start with a solid foundation. Additionally, if the curriculum is being taught correctly, there simply isn’t enough time in a day to properly cover all of the state mandated curriculum and still go “way beyond the basics”, so you can be pretty sure this instructor is cutting some corners somewhere along the way.

Yes, I know a lot of you are probably thinking that this is an awful lot of trouble to go through just for a CCW class. And I get it. The easy thing to do is take the first “quick and cheap” class that you find, and say “to hell” with the quality of the instruction. But you are setting yourself up for potentially catastrophic future problems if you do. Additionally, you can use these same basic criteria to help you select training classes and instructors as you continue your training journey – and this can save you THOUSANDS of wasted dollars and HUNDREDS of wasted hours! Remember that a CCW class is the first baby step in what should be a life-long journey. Developing good habits of due diligence now, will provide you with big rewards as time goes on.

As always, stay safe!

Chris Shoffner

Training – Defensive Shotgun Rounds


What round for your defensive shotgun? This is another of those infinitely deep rabbit holes that has spawned hundreds of articles and videos to demonstrate that “this” is the right round to use. Frankly, it’s way too deep for me so I’m just going to sniff around the edges.

I believe there are three primary defensive rounds you can choose with many sub-categories under the three. There is standard “bird shot, there is buckshot and there is a slug. There are, of course, considerations that must be taken into account regardless of the round you choose.

Typical defensive purpose

The shotgun is typically seen as a home defense gun. That said, the need to reach out and touch someone will seldom be beyond 50 yards. It is much more likely that you would use your shotgun within the confines of your home. What surrounds your home is also of consequence. Close neighbors have little interest in a 1 oz. slug whipping through their home. Look at your home, look at your surroundings and make sure you take all of those factors into consideration.

Over Penetration

Simply put, whatever the projectile that comes out of the end of your shotgun be a 1.25 oz. of #5 lead shot, or 9 pellets of 00 buckshot or a 1 oz. slug – it is going to continue to go through things until its energy is consumed and the round stops. That is why it is critically important that you have a home defense plan, that everyone knows it, that you are clear as to your fields of fire and that you choose your ammunition appropriately.

Rounds on the threat

So how tight are the patterns of your defensive round? This quick post is BY NO MEANS MEANT to be definitive on this question, simply a glimpse of general patterning. The idea though is, as it is with a defensive handgun, to confine the round to the threat. So ideally, with the birdshot and buckshot you would like to be close enough so that the pellets stay within the confines of the threat. And, with the slug, you want to make sure you are accurate enough that you can quickly and easily hit the threat from 50 yards or less. The reality is that in a home defensive situation your likely shooting distance will be 30 feet or less – about half the length of a typical home.

So, armed with my newly updated 870 I took advantage of the warm temps to pay a quick trip to the range to test the birdshot and buckshot on the patterning board at our range and then the slug at both 50 and 25 yards. Pro tip . . . if your range’s patterning board is simply a sheet of 3/8” steel, and you put a standard LE SEB target on that steel . . . when you hit it with either birdshot our buckshot the target will simply explode. I will probably approach this particular topic again later, but for today, let’s make use of what I have in my hand – two shattered targets that still have things to share with us.

30 ft.  Winchester Super X heavy Field Load – 1.25 oz. #5 shot

20151208_133410 (Large)

Obviously the center of the target was pretty well destroyed but I want you to take notice of the outer edge of the pattern. My POA was high center mass and I want you to notice that there were few if any pellets that hit outside the target outline. This is what you are looking for when you engage a threat with a shotgun round – the projectiles are contained within the threat and not continuing on past them.

We can certainly argue whether such a hit to a determined foe would be enough to convince them to stop their attack – but from 30 ft. and closer you can be reasonably assured that if you aim center mass the threat will take the brunt of the punishment from your birdshot round.

Winchester 9 pellet 00 Buckshot

Buckshot (Large)

20151208_133948 (Large)

Again the result with a blown out target but in taping things back together notice that, as you would expect, the pattern was much tighter with virtually all pellets confined to high center mass. The buckshot did a better job of keeping the pellets on the threat. The other side of this is that you have fewer pellets, larger, heavier and you begin to run a higher risk of a pellet or more fully penetrating the threat. Again, no real hard and fast rules here, just something to keep in mind as you work through possible scenarios using your defensive shotgun.

Winchester Super X 1 oz. rifled slug hollow point

The slug round allows you to reach threats at a much greater distance than you could with bird shot or buckshot. Out to 50-100 yards it is, for all intense and purposes a rifle. That said, for you to take a shot at a threat at 100 yards, you may well have a hard time articulating why they were a threat you could not simply avoid. Reduce that distance to 50 yards or 25 yards and they become much more of an imminent threat to your well-being.

Rifled Slug (Large)

Slug Ballistics (Large)

20151208_135706 (Large)

On my upgraded 870 I now have the new Trijicon front sight and simply align that down the barrel of the gun to form my sight picture – there is no rear sight per say. At 50 yards I hit 2 for 3 and then moved to solid hits once I moved forward to 25 yards. The biggest concern when moving to slugs is over penetration of the threat. That’s a pretty good size chunk of lead and depending on where you hit the threat and what they’re wearing – you could easily pass through the threat and into (or through) an adjoining wall. Again, be aware of your field of fire – you want to confine your damage to the threat . . . not family.

So how well can you “run the gun”?  Qualification shoots are one measure.  Here is a link to the ILEA Shotgun Qualification Drills.  It’s a “standard”, something you can shoot against and time to see how your skills with your defensive shotgun are developing.  Download it, take it to the range next time and shoot the drills, it will give you some idea of where you are in your skill set.

If a defensive shotgun in part of your home defense – take some time on the range to wring out your choice for a defensive round. There are any number of articles that have been written about this exact topic – do your research. Then, once you have made a choice, work your defensive shotgun into your range work. Having a shotgun in the corner of the room does little to protect you if you can’t “run the gun”!

Review – Remington 870 Upgrade


It seems that this is the year to “upgrade” my defensive weapons. I’ve detailed my upgrade to my AR-10, my backup AR-15, the new sights on my carry Glock 17 courtesy of Rob Pincus’ group . . . the only thing left really was my Remington 870 Express.

When I purchased it some work had been done. It came with a magazine extension to hold two additional rounds and a Speedfeed stock with pistol grip. Some time back I added a chunk of picatinny rail and a StreamLight TLR-1 flashlight. So when I began this upgrade project, this is what my 870 looked like.

Remington 870 (Large)

One thing I noticed while working with the PD and their fall qualification shoot was that I was simply not set up to “run the gun” in any smooth fashion at all. Reloads on the move, mixing slugs and buckshot, loading and shooting multiple rounds in a very short period of time . . . I simply was not getting it done. In looking at the differences there were two primary differences. A front sight that was clearly visible in low – VERY low light. And virtually all their patrol shotguns had 6 round sidesaddles mounted on the side opposite the ejection port. Finally, it seems that an adjustable stock al-la an AR-15 seemed to help the officers fit the weapon to their individual mount preference easier than a fixed stock. This became my “shopping list”.

Front sight

I settled on a XS Express Front Night Sight. It is manufactured by Trijicon and provides a large, clear front sight image whether in bright sunlight or extremely low light.

Repplacement Front Sight (Large)

Mounting is a bit different. On the shotgun the front sight is a bead attached to a front mount welded to be barrel. To mount the XS Express sight there is a 6mm hole in its base and the base is shaped to conform to the shape of the front mount. You then clean the surface of the mount and bead, mix a batch of JB Weld, fill the whole in the XS Express Front Sight and then spread a layer over the rest of the mount.

JB Weld (Large)

It is smart to dry fit everything – in my case it all fit fine – to make sure of a proper fit and alignment. Once the JB Weld is applied you have 20-ish minutes to make sure everything is properly mounted and aligned. It takes a full 24 hours for a full cure.

I must say I’m pleased with the final result which can be seen below.

New Frontsight (Large)

Side Saddle Shell Carrier

Next came the side saddle shell carrier. I decided on the Mesa Tactical Sureshell Saddle Mount. It will hold a total of 6 rounds and also adds a section of picatinny rail to the top of the 870.

Shell Carrier (Large)

Shell Carrier Parts (Large)

Mounting is very simple and quick. Pop out the pins holding in the trigger assembly, set the mount over the top of the 870, line up the holes and use the mounting screws to mount the entire assembly to the 870. 15 minutes work and I was ready to go.

870 Udate 2 (Large)

Adjustable Stock

The last upgrade was an adjustable stock. I chose the Magpul Remington Buttstock Combo.

New Stock (Large)

Removing of the old Speedfeed pistol grip stock was quick and simple. Two screws removed the butt pad and a single screw held the stock on to the rear of the frame. The installation of the new Magpul stock was just as simple with a single hex screw mounting the stock to the rear of the frame. The stock itself simply slid over the center shaft of the stock and the upgrade was complete.

870 Udate Completed (Large)

I will add a Vickers tactical sling down the road and things will be complete.

So, why the upgrade. Couple reasons. A defensive shotgun is a bit of a grab and go weapon. With the extension and the weapon in “patrol ready” condition (magazine full, chamber empty) you have a total capacity of 6 rounds. With the sidesaddle an additional 6 are also available – 12 rounds in your hand should the need arise. The mix you use – slug, buckshot or bird shot is entirely up to you.

Given that I’ve got a couple days of 50*F weather in the offing, I’ll take a couple hours tomorrow afternoon and see how things go on the range.

I simply do not recommend upgrades for the sake of upgrading a firearm. But, if you look at the purpose it is supposed to fulfill, and you find it lacking – make whatever changes you need to make to allow it to be the best defensive firearm you can afford.

And then as with all your firearms – get solid training and then hit the range. The weapon, the upgrades and frankly the ammunition are worthless if you can’t “run the gun”.

Training – What you have in your hand . . . is what you want . . . Otherwise you’d have something else . . .


Long ago . . . far away . . . in another life I was a “Personal Growth Facilitator”. Think of it as a Drill Instructor for your head. My wife and I found this coursework out of need. We were emotionally recovering from her cancer and after a number of years we weren’t doing a very good job of it. A friend invited us to come to a “Guest Night”. Simply, things learned in about a years’ worth of course work literally saved us.

It was scary stuff to those on the “outside”. It was the time of “est”, and “T” and other types of guru lead courses – our friends were concerned for us. But they also saw things were working better for us as well.

Those who have met me or know me have little problem seeing the “asshole” side of my nature. Let’s call it DIRECT!!! And that personality trait is one of the primary ingredients needed to be a “Personal Growth Facilitator”. The company we went to recruited me to assist in coursework so for around 3 years or so I would stand in front of a room full of folks in the exact same spot I/we had been a few years earlier and I would assist them in primarily becoming brutally honest with themselves on where they were in their life, how they were acting and gave them a hand in picking a way out of their current minefield.

One woman sat in the back row with about 30+ other folks and bitched, whined, fidgeted . . . until I asked her a simple question . . . “How long have you been a bitch?”

Yep, the coursework was like that . . . So be forewarned . . . I intend this post to be “DIRECT”.

I write this the day following the San Bernardino terrorist attack. 14 dead, 21 wounded. Terrorists dead, house full of bombs, ammunition, info linking them to international terrorists . . . Jihad visits America. Perhaps the first of a Paris like attack on our home soil – there will be more. Neighbors noticed 6 Middle Eastern males visiting the house, taking delivery of large boxes but said nothing because RACISIM! Think “clock boy” $15 MILLION law suit – no wonder they shut up. Short story to this episode – what was once safely kept overseas is now part of our daily life. You need to move to “acceptance” fast, today, now, this instant . . . and make some adjustments in your life.

What you have in your hand . . . is what you want! Otherwise you’d have something else!

But . . . but . . . I have a carry permit . . . I carry once in awhile . . . I probably could have stopped them . . .

You’re dead!!!

Yep, got my permit, got that baby in the car should I need it . . .

You’re dead!!!

Yep, got my permit, to a basic pistol course, going to look at a holster and some more coursework this summer . . .

You’re dead!!!

Man, watched the coolest video the other day, got that new DVD course, gonna get a new holster for Christmas . . .

You’re dead!!!

Or going back to a conversation with a friend a few summers ago . . . “I got a new gun right after I got my permit, don’t think I fired more than half a box through it.”

You’re dead!!!

Yep, I took some really cool coursework this past summer, been to the range a couple of times, think I might just start carrying . . .

You’re dead!!!

Tell you what . . . every time I go to one of “those” places I strap on my gun!!!

You’re dead!!!

I really take this stuff serious! I’ve taken a couple courses, do my best to get to the range a couple times a year . . .

You’re dead!!!

I don’t carry my gun around too much anymore it’s to . . . hard to work . . . big . . . heavy . . . I don’t really know how to run it . . . I live in a pretty safe area . . .

You’re dead!!!

Get the idea?? So, if you’d met these two terrorist shooters, what would you have been up against?

Each carried a version of a .223/5.56 semiautomatic carbine.

Each carried a sidearm.

Each apparently had plate carries for spare magazines – I can’t find firm reports if they had plates inserted or not.

They placed remote controlled explosives in the building but failed to detonate them.

They fired . . . I WANT YOU TO HEAR THIS CLEARLY . . . 73 rounds (provided current round counts were accurate). One more time . . . 73 rounds.

They killed 14 . . .

They wounded 21 . . .

Total causality count in the building . . . 35 . . .

That body count comes from training, focus, dedication, clear intent . . .

That is your opponent. Forget the drive by shooter, the snatch and grab, the quickstop robbery, the restaurant holdup . . .

And focus of the shooter that is focused, dedicated, clear and skilled . . . THAT is your new threat as of today.

So let’s go back to the top . . .

What you have in your hand . . . is what you want! Otherwise you’d have something else!

If you aren’t as good as these two shooters . . . if you don’t carry . . . if you can’t hit what you need too . . . if you let every excuse in the world come between you and good coursework and frequent/consistent/focused training . . .

You’re dead!!

Nope, life shouldn’t be like this. Nope it isn’t fair. Yep, that’s what cops are for (their response time was apparently sub-5 minute for first on scene). But the nasty little secret is that when the shit hits the fan . . .


The first minute, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 10 minutes . . . or in the case of my home . . . the first 45 minutes . . . is on YOU!

So you can lie to yourself all you want, you can tell yourself all the stories you want, you can pretend all you want . . . But “What you have in your hand . . . is what you want! Otherwise you’d have something else!”

If you can’t run your gun . . . if you can’t get your hits . . . if you don’t know cover from concealment . . . if you don’t carry . . . if, if, if . . . THAT is, indeed what you want – because THAT is what you have in your “hand”. You DON’T want to carry, you DON’T want to shoot better, you DON’T want to learn how to use your environment, you DON’T want to defend your life, you DON’T want to defend the life of your child or spouse or friend . . . so stop lying to yourself and stop feeling all warm and comfy with your permit and your gun home in the safe. Because . . .

You’re dead!!

Honest to goodness folks, get off your asses, smell the coffee, do the work, spend the money, invest the time, train your butts off . . . cause this situation is simply not going to bet better.

Help is not coming . . . it’s all on you . . . please, be ready . . .

Review – AAR–M.A.P.S.I. FDP 11-21-2015


I suspect I’m not a lot different than most instructors who see a fair amount of folks looking to get their concealed carry permit – or whatever moniker is applied in the person’s state of resident. I will get them exactly and precisely one time in a class. While I may wish that they take a second or third class to get them where they “should” be . . . time, money, desire will typically limit an individual to a single class that “fills the square” for the state the person lives in.

State requirements are vary wildly – from full Constitutional Carry to a 2-day, 16 hour class. Then add in everything from an annual recertification requirement and substantial license fee to just signing a form and sending a couple bucks . . . and the landscape of the firearms trainer is a mottled one at best.

There is certainly a core of students that take annual training, spend significant range time each month and put their heart and soul into their craft. My experience is that many of these folks are instructors in their own right . . . or card carrying members of the “gunnie” community. Compared to the bulk of the population . . . they are a miniscule bunch at best – microscopic at worst.

I also suspect that most instructors are intent on making sure the student walking out their door are prepared as best they can be to apply for their first carry permit – even though they have taken just a single solitary course. Real instructors, those dedicated to doing the best with the resources of time, space and money are committed to giving their students the best information and skills possible as represented by the course taught.

Years ago it became apparent that many of the courses out there were either the “tacti-cool” course on one end of the spectrum . . . or a basic shooting sports course on the other. This simply was not meeting the needs of the folks walking through my door. While the “square was filled” as far as the state was concerned – the need of the student was not being met. So, I put together e.IA.f.t.’s Defensive Handgun 1 course.

It was well received, reviewed by local friends that were both fellow instructors as well as LEO instructors. Tweaks were made, changes implemented, range work refined . . . all to a good end I think.

A couple years ago I made friends with a fellow instructor who had been developing what was essentially a “what comes after HG1?” course. And a friendship was begun. Over the past 2 years we worked together and in  January of this year (2105) a group was formed – Midwest Association of Professional Shooting Instructors. Regional instructors were invited to join, they were asked to review our coursework, more refinement, more review, vetting the coursework with other organizations and with each other, teaching the coursework to each other and, finally, in late summer this year our Foundations of Defensive Pistol, Basic Defensive Shooting Skills and Essential Defensive Pistol were finalized. You can read our history and course description at our website located here.

Which brings me to this past weekend . . . and the four folks who had come to town to take the M.A.P.S.I. Foundations of Defensive Pistol. They could have picked a better weekend . . . me as well for that matter. Friday night our first blizzard of the year rolled through with the morning seeing 8 inches of the white stuff across the landscape. Still, when the doors opened at 8AM all four were there, two women and two men.

I always begin course development with this question . . . When they are all done, when the end of the course has been reached, what do I want them to know? For the FDP course, in a nutshell, here is what I wanted them to know . . .

  • Intro to Revolvers
  • Intro to Semi-Automatic Pistols
  • Holsters, belts, off-body carry
  • Intro to ammunition and defensive ammunition
  • Range Safety, care and cleaning of handguns
  • Defensive Shooting Fundamentals
  • Use of force, use of deadly force, AOJP, disparity of force
  • Live Fire range drills
  • Introduction of cover and concealment
  • Final examination and course review

It is as full a day as it looks like in that paragraph. The course intros began with a SA revolver and ended with a DA/SA Semi-automatic pistol. Continued with the purpose and selection of a proper firearm for the student, how to select a gun belt, holster or off body option. Students were introduced to how ammunition works and then how to select a defensive round for their carry weapon.

Finally, it was time to head for the range. 8 inches of snow made it interesting. The range work was done from the 5 yard line. We began with single round engagements and worked up through accelerated pairs. Included were malfunction clearing and magazine changes. The temperature was in the low 20s when we began and finished up at about 12 when we ended. Yet everyone stayed focused, got their hits and successfully completed the 30 round qualification course.

By the time we hit 4:30PM the final exam was done, certificates were passed out and the final group photo was taken . . . a fine time was had by all and there were for folks fully trained and ready for their Iowa Carry Permit.

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Congrats to Naoko, Ashlyn, Ricky and Jay! I look forward to having you in one of our future courses.

Commentary –Sheep and Wolves . . .


There is always the risk in responding to events such as last night’s Paris attack that the emotion of the moment will cloud judgments that need to be made in the clear headed “light of day”. There is virtually no end to the number of 24/7 news reporters that simply run off at the mouth simply to fill air time. You’ll all notice that there are relatively few “Commentary” posts on my blog – they have a tendency to fall outside the lines of the goal of training the “new and inexperienced shooter”.

However – civilized society is again presented the example – by yet another grizzly attack – that true evil exists, regardless of the lengths we go to simply ignore it. If we take the time to explore this evil act, we will find that there are lessons buried within that affects of the fabric of a civilized world.

I’m having breakfast this morning with a woman I’ve known for over 50 years. She slides a bit towards the compassionate side but by no means fits into anything close to a “liberal” category. She’s scanning her regional newspaper . . . and I’m doing my morning read on the net trying to see what has occurred overnight. The global news brings little comfort . . . My friend’s thoughts are closer to home . . . (paraphrasing here)

“It’s just to “big” for me. There’s nothing I can do. I try to stay current on events, make good decisions, I vote, I vote for candidates that I believe will keep us safe. But something like this, there’s just nothing I can do!”

She’s absolutely right . . . there is absolutely nothing she can do about the attacks in Paris, ISIS, Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Iranian nukes, Chinese incursions, Russian expansionism, MS-13 or the thugs run amuck in our urban areas. In fact . . . there’s virtually nothing we – as individuals – can do about any of this. She is also right when she sees her primary responsibility as a citizen is to keep current on the events of the world, pay attention to the candidates during elections (especially local elections) and then vote her conscience. THAT is our primary responsibility as a citizen – as well as being vocal and outspoken with our local, state and federal elections so there is no question at all where we stand on “the issues”.

Still . . . with the understanding that the vast majority of armed citizens are in exactly the same boat . . . if you are like me there is a “need” to do something.


Don’t become one . . .

France disarmed their citizens in April of 1939, WWII began the following September. Today they require hunting and sporting licenses that require continual renewal and psychological evaluation. To me, that would imply that multiple generations are now simply used to the government “protecting” them. There is no need for self-defense – the government will take care of it. We can easily see those trends in our country today. Many in power, particularly those on the left, would willingly surrender their ability at self-protection to the “professionals”. As a citizen this is one of those spots where we must all simply plant our feet and make sure we elect representatives that understand that citizens have a fundamental right to defend their lives with the means necessary to resist an attacker – be they the local thug or ISIS member intent on a large body count.

You . . . the person you see in the mirror each and every day . . . are the one that has primary responsibility for your safety. That includes our ability to defend against a determined attacker. You certainly have the option to abandon this responsibility to a “higher power” . . . but at the end of the day the last line of defense lies with you. My suggestion? Arm yourself, take good coursework, train frequently and carry your defensive weapon each and every day. It is within the realm of possibility that if a single individual would have been armed in the restaurant where 18 were killed – the outcome may have been different. A guarantee? No, but a possibility, a chance, and opportunity to change the outcome – most certainly.

Did I mention training??? To me, the word “training” means that you must do REAL RANGE WORK frequently. Work with your concealment gear, refine your presentation from concealment – for all types of weather, part of this simply requires live rounds downrange. If you want a round count, my suggestion is 1,000 – 1,500 rounds per year. At today’s price for my carry weapon, a Glock 17, that comes out to about $250 – $375 per year in ammunition costs. What can I say – real work costs real money, there are no shortcuts.

Get trauma training TODAY!!!! Build your blow out kit, carry one in your range bag, one in your car and throw a tourniquet and Israeli Bandage in your pocket/purse/murse as part of your EDC. In fact this morning I ordered yet another Sofft-W tourniquet and 4” Israeli Bandage to build into a pocket carry kit. Will I need it down the road? I hope not. But if I’m in a mall prior to Christmas and TSHTF, I sure the hell don’t want to be thinking how nice it would be if I had the kit from my car or range bag. If you have never taken any type of first aid training – please, please . . . take a course as part of your annual training cycle.

Don’t hide your head in the sand . . . become aware and study global events and trends. The attack on Paris was an eventuality . . . not a possibility but something bound to happen. We will see attacks in London, Berlin, Rome, NYC . . . and a host of other newsworthy locations. Those politicians that are “shocked” or “outraged” or “surprised” are either liars and just unhappy things occurred on their watch . . . or they are fools. As for our country’s safety from such an attack – remember the open border to our south and the realization that the first of the Syrian refugees began arriving in New Orleans today. It also seems that one of the Paris suicide bombers was also a Syrian refugee as well. Why are we even taking the risk with these folks? And this does not even begin to take into account our very own thugs, drug dealers and gang members. Keep your head in the game, know your community, know your region, look at the world’s stage . . .

Finally . . . to do nothing is to surrender the wellbeing of yourself, your family and those around you to the fates. The fates may well decide that today is the day you are fully tested . . . wouldn’t it be nice to have a fully loaded weapon on your side with a spare mag just to even things up a bit?


Wolves are simply part of nature . . . and ISIS is simply part of human nature. A dark side, an evil side . . . put still part of human nature. They will always exist, they will never be fully “defeated”.

One of my favorite movies is Oh God! (both of them). In one scene “god” is trying to explain good and evil. The argument is that you can’t experience one without the other. Light/dark, good/evil . . . we need both to experience life. What we do with that defines the outcome.

Should the good man/woman surrender and submit to evil . . . it grows, expands and threatens all in its way. If we stand against it, fight it . . . it is diminished and “good” grows, expands and threatens the existence of evil. To do nothing against those who fed the spirits of the Paris attackers is to allow evil to grow and expand. They must be confronted – directly, with true military actions. But we must never kid ourselves that the evil they represent can ever be eradicated – it can simply be reduced in influence.

If we focus on Islam, you can see a wolf that is rapidly growing in strength and is an existential threat to all who do not submit. And yes, I spread this belief across the entire faith, not just the “radicalized” portions. If I begin to see articles, speeches, sermons by clerics against the evils of these “radical elements” I might soften my view. But such things are seldom if ever seen. Islam must be confronted and resisted on all fronts. Everywhere. Everyday. Without fail. Avoidance is surrender; it’s a simple as that.

Local wolves are prevalent as well. Ferguson, Baltimore, Chicago, LA, NYC, New Orleans, Memphis . . . to name just a few are fertile breeding grounds for wolves. And those communities are littered with bodies of sheep. We ignore them at our peril. Problems of broken families, broken schools, lost jobs, little opportunity . . . these are things we can do something about. Elect officials that are pro-jobs, that expect and promote strong families, that demand excellence – real excellence – in education. This is a real battle that we need to fight every single day. Wolves need conflict to grow – reduce the conflict, increase prosperity . . . and wolves are diminished.

Where are we?

Paris is but a stone is a sidewalk. It is NOT a tragedy . . . IT IS NOT A TRAGEDY . . . it was an act of pure evil. While today’s multi-media makes it an overwhelming event it is but one event is the chain of humanity. A day, a week, a month, a year from now we will visit this kind of event again.

For today, let’s bury our dead, tend to the wounded . . .

And then it will be time to visit the wolf’s den . . .