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.

20151121_164319 (Large)

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

Advertisements

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.

Sheep

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

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 . . .

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 – and 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 – and 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.

Sheep

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. Is it 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

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 it 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 is 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. 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 . . .

Training – How Close is to Close?

 

On or about November 9th Sherry McLain was approached in a Wal-Mart parking lot by a man asking for a light. He got to within 10 feet when she pulled her gun and threatened to kill the fellow. He made a quick exit stage right . . . went back into the store and dialed 911. Ms. McLain was arrested and charged with reckless endangerment. She felt “in fear for my life” . . . the police saw no obvious threat. I’m sure it will be hashed out in the courts and I suspect not to the favor of Ms. McLain.

Please, take a moment to listen to the entire news spot and read the article, it will “set the table” for my thoughts on this topic.

http://www.newschannel5.com/news/local-news/woman-arrested-after-she-said-she-pulled-gun-in-self-defense

The Armed Citizens’ Legal Defense Network is an organization dedicated to the legal defense of the armed citizen. They provide initial funding for attorney fees, bail money and enable an armed citizen who has been involved in a shooting to find local, experienced legal help. If you are an armed citizen you need to give serious consideration to membership in either this or a similar organization.

They also have a Facebook page and this incident took center stage for a day or two with a broad range of comments by many well-known firearms instructors. Again, I would like you take a few moments to take a pass through the comments, they give an interesting look into the landscape of how professional firearms trainers view the event . . . and this also helps “set the table” for this post. The link is as follows:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/221594457860509/permalink/1053816907971589/?comment_id=1054266461259967&offset=0&total_comments=131&notif_t=group_comment_reply

Life doesn’t happen in a vacuum . . . and Shirley McLain doesn’t live in one either. Just a couple more searches . . .

The first is a search for “parking lot assault Murfreesboro tenn”, the link is here . . .

https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=parking+lot+assault+MURFREESBORO%2C+Tennn

The following attack caught my eye in the search . . .

http://wkrn.com/2015/11/04/woman-violently-sexually-assaulted-in-murfreesboro-parking-lot/

What if we tighten up the search to just Walmart parking lots (there are 3 in Murfreesboro) . . . it looks something like this . . .

https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=walmart+parking+lot+assault+MURFREESBORO%2C+Tennn

Including a story about finding dead bodies in a Walmart parking lot . . .

http://www.wsmv.com/story/24585997/2-bodies-found-in-walmart-lot

One last search, about a favorite game played by the “yoots” of today – the “knock out game”. Is that played much in the quiet little burg of Murfreesboro?

https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=knockout+game+MURFREESBORO%2C+Tennn

So let’s flesh out the table setting a bit.

Shirley McLain is 67 years old. As I begin to stare at that age myself I must admit that were I to go up against a good sized critter in their teens or 20s, I may well end up on the short end of a physical assault. During her on-air interview I made a number of judgments about her – she is fairly slight, obviously frightened (though that certainly in exacerbated by the past few days) and I did not get that she was merely “saying the words” – I was in fear of my life – I believe she truly believed she was under threat. I also got the impression that she lives alone. If true that could certainly add to her discomfort.

She lives in Murfreesboro area. Just take a moment to recall the violent assaults, the victims of the knockout game and the bodies actually found in a Wal-Mart parking lot. ALL of this plays into the formula that Ms. McLain sees herself living in. Whether she knows details of all or some of the incidents – I suspect she knows of some of them. It is certainly easy to imagine herself as being in danger by simply driving to a Wal-Mart parking lot. Extreme? Maybe – but to a career criminal I suspect a Wal-Mart parking lot looks more like an ATM than we care to admit.

We live in a 24-hour news cycle that thrives on the “if it bleeds it leads” mentality. Again, this plays into a belief that I see in many of the folks that take my defensive handgun classes – things are becoming “frayed around the edges”.

Does race play a part? Sadly, yes. If you watch today’s news the “face” of violent crime in urban area, that face is all too often black. For Ms. McLain to be afraid of an approaching black man is perfectly understandable to me. In an ideal world this would not be . . . we do not live in an ideal world.

I also want to spend a bit of time on the “victim’s” side of the fence as well. Seems he bought a pack of cigarettes – there is video and witnesses to support that. However, once in the parking lot his singular choice was to look out into the parking lot (reportedly busy by news accounts) and single out an unaccompanied, elderly white woman. Is that what comes to mind when you’re looking for someone with a light for your cigarette? Really?? Heck, I’d head for the redneck in the pickup! Not the little old lady.

A second question – why not just go back in the store and pick up a dollar lighter? They’re at virtually every checkout line I’ve ever seen. A couple minutes and you can light every cig in your pack.

I’m also curious just who this guy is. Seems he’s unwilling to be interviewed. Heck if it were me I’d love to go on TV and complain about the crazy old woman who shoved a gun in my face . . . yet he refuses to do so. Why?

With these “place settings” laid out upon the table . . . the courts will obviously have the final say. I suspect it won’t end well for Ms. McLain.

There are, though, a few more things to consider and lessons to be learned here. Here they are in no particular order.

“He never got within 10 feet” I call BS on this particular argument. Were he a dedicated attacker – and didn’t have a gun in his face, we may well be reading about the poor old woman beaten and robbed in the Walmart parking lot. If you have a determined attacker within 10 feet – and you’re not up and on target – it will not end well for you.

“Pepper Spray – that’s the answer” Heard this too. I give this a “maybe”. If the attacker is committed (and in this case this woman was SELECTED for approach) I suspect that pepper spray in the hands of a 67 year old woman be little in the way of a deterrent.

“Should have evaluated the pre-attack signs” Again – I give this a “maybe”. There is not enough information here to make a determination when Ms. McLain first saw her perceived threat. If he approached across a parking lot and she had eyes on him for a significant distance – that is one thing. If he just popped up on her – he’s probably very lucky (and she as well) that he left the scene with the same number of holes he arrived at.

There are obvious things that she either forgot – probably out of fear – that we all need to remember.

Being aware of people around us as we approach our cars in parking lots. As I said earlier – in many areas these are simply ATMs for the bad guys – keep your head in the game.

DO NOT BE AFRAID TO USE YOUR VOICE! While there were many witnesses that heard Ms. McLain threaten to kill the man in question – no one that I have heard describe the event heard her say anything about him staying away from her – that she wanted him to leave and had no interest in helping him. If your course work and training does not include a loud vocal challenge – I would encourage you to work that in as part of the shooting drills.

She is obviously going to have to defend her actions in court. There are four primary areas she is going to have to be able to articulate clearly – Ability, Opportunity, Jeopardy and Preclusion. I’m not going to cover that here but if you go to THIS POST I covered it in detail. The best time to prepare for this type of defense is to take good coursework NOW, TODAY . . . no really, I mean right now and learn the things you need to be absolutely clear on should a defensive encounter occur. Massad Ayoob’s MAG-20 course is the one I point every one of my students towards should the opportunity arise. Just yanking a gun, sticking it in their face and threatening to kill them may seem like a good idea at the time – there is a whole lot more to it than that.

Finally, when the perceived threat ran away – that’s it, it’s over. Check your surroundings, holster your weapon and notify the police. DO NOT THREATEN TO KILL THEM WHILE THEY ARE RUNNING AWAY!!! Oh . . . and one other thing . . . DO NOT POINT A LOADED GUN AND EVERYONE ELSE BETWEEN YOU AND THE PERCEIVED THREAT AS THEY ARE RUNNING AWAY!!!!! Just sayin’.

So I disagree with the “quick answers” – never got within 10 feet, pepper spray, clearly no threat . . . there’s always more to it. Will that help Ms. McClain? Who knows but I would suspect not. Listening to the police, to the folks interviewed on TV – I think she’s going to get the “crazy old lady with a gun” treatment.

That does not mean that the guy wouldn’t have beaten her to a pulp if he hadn’t looked down the barrel of her revolver either . . .

For us, as armed citizens, it’s another example of why training is important. As instructors it helps point out things we need to make sure each and every student understands when they leave our classrooms.

And, as a society, it is yet another indication that things are, indeed, becoming “frayed around the edges”.

Is “blended learning” really the “future” of firearms training?

I recently read a blog post where the author opined that “blended learning” is the “future” of firearms training. As someone who has provided countless hours of in-person firearms training to a few thousand students, and who has also taken part in “blended learning” formatted instruction, this line of thought bothers me a bit.

Before we discuss why, let’s first talk a little about the concept of “blended learning”. “Blended learning” describes a form of instruction that involves multiple delivery methods. Usually, this consists of some form of audio/video presentation of certain portions of the coursework; perhaps a presentation recorded to DVD or, more likely in this day and age, some variety of e-learning software delivered via the internet, and then a follow-up session (or multiple sessions, depending on the coursework) with a teacher, instructor, or “test giver” at a later date. The idea behind the concept is that the student can utilize the e-learning portion of the coursework in the comfort of his or her own home, at his or her own convenience, and then not have to spend as much time at a later date attending the in-person portion of the coursework. It all sounds so good – take the training you desire to take in the comfort of your own home, whenever you feel like it, and then you only have to dedicate a limited amount of time “inconveniencing” yourself with actually having to leave your home and show up for a brief in-person session – I mean, what’s not to like?

In 2012, I attended a training seminar conducted by Rob Pincus in Kansas City, Missouri called “Counter Ambush”. This seminar was being recorded by a film crew and it was slated to later become the first Distance Learning Course ever offered by Rob and his training company. I spent about 8 hours in the class altogether. Rob covered a variety of topics throughout the day, many of them fairly complex, and he covered them in depth. There was a LOT of information taught in that class, and I learned a lot from attending. Due to the nature of the instruction (it was being filmed for a DVD production), it wasn’t possible to ask questions of Rob in real time. It would have simply been too disruptive to the flow of the content and would have created a nightmare for the editors. This presented a bit of a problem as the element of real-time Instructor/Student interaction simply wasn’t possible. Now we were largely able to overcome this problem because Rob made himself available to answer questions and engage in discussions at the completion of each segment of recording and during the lunch break, but from a pure learning standpoint, it would have been beneficial to all of the students in attendance if that interaction could have happened in real time.

A number of months after attending the class with Rob, the “Counter Ambush” distance learning course was released to the general public. Rob was kind enough to send me the complete at-home study course, including the information I needed to complete the e-learning module, take the test online, and receive a completion certificate (assuming I was able to pass the test). The home study course included a full set of 5 DVD’s that contained the recordings of the entire training class, a set of 5 audio CD’s that contained all of the audio from the class, the book, “Counter Ambush”, as well as a student work book designed to help the student prepare for the test. I have to admit that it was a few months before I finally sat down to take the online test. Not because I didn’t want to, but because my bigger priority was in truly learning all of the information presented in the course. I found myself listening to the audio CD’s as I traveled back and forth to work in the car. I probably listened to the entire set at least 20 times over the next few months (I have a fairly long commute). I also watched the DVD set a couple of times on days off. Additionally, I read the Counter Ambush book as time allowed. I finally sat down with the student work book and worked my way through all of the exercises. The next day I sat down at the computer, completed the e-learning module and took the test. I ultimately scored 98% on the test of my first time through and earned a course completion certificate.

I share this story in hopes to convey just how dedicated I was to this training program. I had a strong desire and high level of motivation to take the training. So much so that I took a day off of work and drove 4 ½ hours to Kansas City so I could attend. I took meticulous notes during the in-person class – five full pages in small print. I still have those notes and still refer to them from time to time. I asked a ton of questions at the end of the sessions and during the lunch breaks, and was provided with valuable feed back in exchange. I then spent another 50+ hours listening to the audio CD’s, watching the DVD set, reading the book, and taking the e-learning portion of the class. And I still listen to the audio set (now more conveniently loaded on my i-pod) every few months in my commute back and forth to work. In addition, I’ve conducted a considerable amount of my own study into a lot of the topics covered in the course. I also continue to consult with Rob on a regular basis and have incorporated a lot of the concepts into my own proprietary coursework.

My point here is that I truly learned a lot in this “blended learning” format. More than I can even try to convey in a blog post. Not only that, but what I learned from the coursework, I’ve actually gone on to anchor and, in my view, even master. Between the information I learned from the class and the subsequent study I’ve done on my own, I am able to speak about and teach the concepts with a high level of competency.

So why won’t the “blended learning” format work for new, inexperienced shooters when it comes time to learn the mechanical aspects and operation of firearms and ammunition, safe gun handling practices, and basic shooting fundamentals? Well, there is nothing that says it absolutely can’t work. Though there are certainly a considerable number of hurdles that would have to first be overcome. My understanding of the new “blended learning” format that is going to be rolled out by one of the most prominent training organizations in the country is that the “blended learning” courses will involve an e-learning module delivered via the internet, then will involve the student meeting in-person with an instructor at a later date who will then perform some variety of evaluation to ascertain whether or not the student actually learned the information presented in the e-learning module. Then, if the instructor is satisfied with the knowledge level of the student, he or she will conduct some variety or live-fire session and then either give a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” depending on how well the student performed, before a completion certificate will be issued.

Here are the most major problems with this proposed format as I see them:

First and foremost, in order for learning at any level to take place, regardless of format, it requires a considerable amount of dedication and motivation on the part of the student. This level of dedication and motivation is rather easy for a competent, living, breathing instructor to ascertain. It’s also fairly easy for the competent instructor to help nurture dedication and inspire motivation. As I explained in my story above, I was very dedicated and highly motivated in my “blended learning” experience, and I learned a lot. I am a “self starter”. Many people are not. In fact, from what I’ve seen in many of the beginner level courses I’ve been involved with is that most people aren’t. A lot of students seem to show up to these kinds of classes simply so they can “check off the box” and complete the training their state mandated they complete before being issued a carry permit or a permit to purchase a firearm. Oftentimes a competent, dedicated instructor can “get through” to them during the class and you can see a real change in their motivation and dedication. I simply don’t see any way an e-learning module will ever be able to do that. These “check the box” students will likely do the bare minimum needed to complete the on-line test at the end of the module with a passing grade. They will then show up to the in-person training session and waste the instructor’s time in addition to wasting the time of any other students in attendance, not to mention their own time. Of course, they will go home blaming the instructor for all of their problems and their lack of competency at the end of the day.

Secondly, we have to understand the different types of learners in order to appreciate the dynamic instruction that is provided by a professional, competent trainer. There are three primary learning styles. These include Visual Learners, Auditory Learners, and Kinisthetic Learners. Visual Learners tend to learn best through visual stimulation. They require visual access to the complete presentation – body language, facial expressions, hand gestures, and any written or multi-media presentation that goes with it – in order to get the most out of the instruction. Auditory Learners learn best by hearing, listening, and speaking. They learn best by being involved in discussions, listening to a well-presented lecture, and by participating in brainstorming sessions with other participants. Lastly, is the Kinisthetic Learner. They learn best in a hands-on learning environment. They need to be able to touch, feel, and interact with the physical world around them in order to learn best.

The problem presented by “blended learning”, specifically an e-learning system, is that it falls short with every type of learner mentioned. Recorded media, as good as it is and even in an interactive form, simply can’t provide all of the visual components that the Visual Learner requires. It fails the Auditory Learner because it can’t fulfill the need for auditory interaction. Even in its most interactive forms, it can’t involve the Auditory Learner in discussions or in brainstorming sessions. And the shortcomings it presents to the Kinisthetic Learner are innumerable. It simply fails in every way.

The third problem is accountability. I’ve yet to see this organization address this potential problem. If students are completing a significant portion of the training via an e-learning module in the comfort of their home, and scheduling the in-person session at a later date, the instructor really has no way to know for certain that the person showing up for the in-person session is the one who actually completed the e-learning module. As an instructor, I’d have a hard time giving my “endorsement” to a student whom I am uncertain actually completed the coursework in its entirety.

The fourth major problem is that it undermines the credibility of the instructor. In the case of a national training organization, students will definitely wonder why the informational part of the coursework has been taken out of the hands of the instructor and switched to an e-learning format. If the organization doesn’t trust the instructor to provide competent instruction, why should the student trust him or her? Credibility is paramount as a trainer. Without credibility, the trainer will never gain the trust of the student. Furthermore, it simply doesn’t make sense from a logical standpoint to entrust instructors to provide live-fire training, when you don’t trust them with providing informational training. I dare say the former requires considerably more competence and integrity than the later, at least in matters of liability.

The last major problem as I see it is that this format will increase the cost of training to the student. A quality e-learning system and the required software are not inexpensive. While to my knowledge a price structure has not been released, whatever the cost of the e-learning portion of the class can be added to whatever the current rate for in-person instruction is now. An instructor’s time doesn’t suddenly become less valuable just because the accrediting organization has decided to sell a portion of the training directly. So if the student can currently purchase the entire class via an in-person format for $100, the same class will now cost them $100 plus what I am guessing will be somewhere in the $50 – $75 neighborhood for the e-learning portion. This is a significant price increase. Multiply that by the number of family members that would potentially take the training, and it could be a real financial burden. And while the living, breathing instructor might be willing to provide a family discount, you can be pretty certain that the e-learning system won’t do the same.

In summary, while it might be possible for “blended learning” to work for some new, inexperienced shooters as far as teaching the basics is concerned, it is my belief that it won’t work for many based on the reasons I mentioned above. Safe, effective shooting skills can be compared to most any other set of athletic skills as far as skill development is concerned. It takes dedication and motivation on the part of the student, and requires the guidance of an experienced, competent coach or instructor if the student is to ever reach his or her full potential. While I am hoping to see better results than I expect once the “blended learning” courses are made available, I can’t help but feel as though I will be disappointed at the end of the day.

As always, stay safe.

Chris Shoffner

MAPSI Founding Member

chris.shoffner@mapsitraining.com

Just the Basics – Triggers – They Matter

 

So bit by bit I’ve crept down the rabbit hole of long range shooting. I think I’ve reached the bottom of the first level with this post . . . Triggers – They Matter. Obviously, as with all things “geek” there are virtually no limits to details, new gear, shooting techniques . . . I get it. I think it’s one of the things I enjoy about defensive shooting and this introduction to long range shooting. That said, this post will close out the “introductory phase” of my learning process – with more to follow I am sure.

There is, perhaps, no single element that affects an accurate and precise shot more than “consistency”. A consistent cartridge – from the case to the powder to the primer or the bullet weight to the precision of its assembly is one of the first requirements. Then there’s the barrel built just precisely to impart the correct rotation as well as velocity. There is the optic that can be aligned to match the ballistics of the cartridge as perfectly as possible. There is the peripheral gear – scope levels, bipods, shooting bags. All of these items must align to produce a weapon that consistently delivers and accurate and precise shot each and every time the trigger is pressed.

So, it seems fitting that that is where I end this portion of my exploration . . . where the final act of firing the rifle ends . . . with the end pad of my right hand trigger finger being smoothly pressed to the rear until the trigger breaks, the sear is released and the hammer strikes the firing pin. This last little piece of the puzzle that must be consistent to insure that I can shoot the rifle to within its manufactured capabilities . . . and my desire of having a 1 MOA .223 rifle to continue to learning with.

So let’s see where I started out. Below is my final target from a couple weeks ago when I mounted my Nikon Prostaff BDC scope to my backup .223.

20151003_154559 (Large)

Notice that overall the shot placement was accurate and I had a number of precise groups . . . yet the overall group size was closer to 2.25 MOA rather than my desired 1 MOA. The weapon is a “build” with a Bushmaster upper, an inexpensive lower receiver, a DPMS lower receiver kit and an off the shelf, no name stock. Nothing tricky because my intention was to use this carbine as a backup for the CFS course I took this past June. What I noticed was that once my scope was mounted and my final adjustments were made – trying to breach that 2 MOA level of accuracy was something I simply could not pull off. What I did notice was that the trigger break was fairly inconsistent with some being “normal”, some being “heavy”, some feeling like kind of “grindey” and a few that were smooth.

DMPA AR-10 Stock Trigger Grou2 (Large)

Since I had noticed a real improvement when I replaced the trigger group in my AR-10 with a new Timney trigger group I suspected that the same would be true with my backup AR-15. So I punched up Amazon and made yet another withdrawal from the credit card’ s limit.

timney trigger group (Large)

Tinmey Trigger Group 1 (Large)

 

So, was the result noticeable? After firing 10 rounds to get the feel of the new 3lb Timney trigger, I settled down to shoot two more targets doing my very best to perform the fundamentals properly . . . good placement of the scope crosshairs on the target, light touch on the grip, bipod properly loaded, good cheek weld, rear bags properly in place, breathing naturally and pressing the trigger smoothly during a respiratory pause . . .

The final result?

223 final with new trigger (Large)

I’m happy to say I noticed real improvement with each target showing a 5-round group – on each – now at 1.25 MOA – a significant improvement.

There is value in answering the question of “why the difference”. If you take a moment and look at the DPMS trigger group first notice that it consists of three primary components – the trigger, the sear and hammer. There are also two springs on either side of the trigger group to provide enough force for the hammer to strike the firing pin to ignite the primer. These come as a loose set of parts. Two pins slide through the lower receiver to hold the trigger group in the proper place . . . to a point. But past that the group has a fair amount of wiggle room. It is this wiggle room, this inconsistency from one trigger press to the next that can introduce the differences I spoke about earlier. These small inconsistencies add up resulting is a less than desirable group size. I am not saying that even with these inconsistencies the weapon does not meet my expectations of a defensive firearm – it does. But when I began to desire an accurate and precise shot that my expectations were not met.

Now, look at the Timney trigger group. It is a precision piece of gear that is machined and assembled to an exacting standard. Each and every trigger press is exactly 3 pounds. All the components are mounted in a housing that is in turn positioned by the mounting pins but the entire group is then held in place by locking screws. There is no wiggle or subtle movements. This insures that each and every trigger press is exactly the same. And that had a profound effect on the accuracy and precision of my group sizes. It was well worth the cost and effort to move this weapon to the “next level”.

I had mounted the targets to a standard “Q” target that had been used while I had helped our local PD complete their annual qualification shoot the night before. There happened to be a clean “head” to shoot at so I loaded another 10 rounds and shot 5 groups of accelerated pairs. Shot a 90% when all was said and done, I’ll take it for now.

20151105_152634 (Large)

From here on out, it’s on me . . . to practice the fundamentals, to spend the range time to improve, to demand that I get better and to continue to take course work to develop this portion of my shooting skillset.

Saturday will be my first long range shooting competition. We’ll see if I can keep my head in the game for each and every shot. 6 stations, right at 60 rounds out to 800 yards. Honestly, I’m kinda excited!

Keep working hard folks, new skills take time and dedication to learn – and real effort to keep them sharp.

Enjoy!