Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Kristen Stewart; how to piss on graves and call it art.

As a personal rule, I try and avoid political diatribe as much as I do puddles of unidentified (or any, really) fluids in public rest rooms.  Its not that im not politically inclined, I am, but its usually because its like arguing feelings over a quarterbacks performance weighed against someone elses feelings on the same subject.  I can bring all the facts I want to the table and the opposing view isnt going to listen because go Bears or some such nonsense.  It has been shown that even when exposed to facts, people holding an opposing political opinion are highly unlikely to change their view point because...you guessed it go Bears.  We believe what we want to believe and the facts be damned.  Now, im sure the Bears are a good team; I honestly dont know because I dont follow football but I do know this; Kristen Stewart is a world class Pinocchio caricature with the political sense of a bi-polar coma patient.  Seriously, if politics was a mountain, she would be the Donner party.

Recently, Mrs. Stewart took a break from acting to speak in the real world and I have to say, if you were going to say it was impossible to be an hours worth of stupid in 15 minutes, I would send you this article along with the Twilight Saga wrapped in a wet news paper taken from her political advisers cardboard box behind Bloomingdale's.  Ive seen stupid in my life, I see it on a daily basis, but she seems to be a dangerous sort of stupid because there's at least 5 or 10 people watching her movies on purpose and maybe hundreds who do so on accident and some of them might believe her nonsense.

See, Mrs. Stewart is making a movie about Gitmo called Camp X-Ray and by making a movie about Gitmo, she has become empowered with a fierce opinion of Gitmo, the Army and the terrorists kept there.  This, of course is nothing new, its common for an actor to adapt the political views of the character they are portraying, or feel that making a movie about a subject makes them more knowledgeable about it because they have, you know, lived it.  Now Mrs. Stewart is doing just that, with her 24 years of hardline socioeconomic and political science experience.  When asked about viewing the detainees as people in an interview with The Daily Beast, Stewart has this to say;

That is essentially so fucking evil, it’s crazy. It’s a ridiculous idea for you to think that you know anything for sure in life—other than to take care of your fellow people. Where the fuck do you get off thinking otherwise? These two people couldn’t be from more different worlds and perspectives, and probably disagree fundamentally on most things, but there’s a through-line for all of us—and that’s what people forget, and that’s what makes people capable of doing terrible things to each other. What makes you different from any other person that walks the earth?

I guess she doesnt realize that there are hundreds of thousands of veterans who have fought these now-detainees and "know for sure in life" that they are, in fact, not the friendly and misunderstood person her Gitmo detainee buddy is in her upcoming film.  I think she also fails to realize that for those people in the real camp X-Ray (not the movie set she came from) disagree fundamentally means jihad and the chances of leaving a political debate with a Jihadi with your head still attached to your body is entirely dependent on if you shot him in the face or not.  She must also have a greater appreciation for the situation than the families of 9/11, London Bombing, Madrid bombing or many other terrorist attack victims because she...pretends...to...be...people?  Wait, that actually doesnt make any sense at all.

I don't personally know a single Camp X-Ray detainee, and guess what, neither does she.  But I remember 9/11, I remember the wars that came after it and I remember a few funerals.  I also know that those being held in Gitmo are in fact people as she describes them; they do have hopes and dreams, only those hopes and dreams include subjugating or killing people just like Stewart.  but since Stewart is playing a soldier, a guard at Camp X-Ray and

She really gets swept up in all the post 9/11 patriotism and signs up for Gitmo duty, only to find that it isn’t what she thought at all.  She’s simple, not very smart, and really socially inadequate—but a good person. So, if you can sign up, put a uniform on, and erase yourself, you don’t have to consider yourself anymore. You can take the individual out of it and say, “Well, this dignifies me. I’m good because of this.” And when that doesn’t end up being true, you actually have to contend with who you are. All she wants is to think, “They did 9/11, they’re bad, fuck that, I’m going to do my job and I’m going to do it well.” But then she gets down there and just can’t accept it; she can’t conform to that.
I suppose the deeper issue here is that Mrs. Stewart seems to think that we are all on equal footing and therefore all deserve the same chance.  This is a wonderfully Utopian and socialist view of the world but it isnt actually true.  This is participation trophy mentality.  Some people are actually better than others, perhaps not as a whole but in areas of their life they outperform others or dont, you know, behead people for having a different feeling about something.  I would venture to say that someone who doesnt target innocent people for mass murder is actually better than someone who does, thats sort of how the social contract scale works.  Stewart's world view seems to be shaped, or guided by the fact that she pretends to be other people for money and in this case she is pretending to be an Army solider who befriends a Gitmo detainee who shows her the error of her ways.  Could this happen?  Sure.  It does, in a script. Real-life isnt that simple and you dont get into Gitmo for doing good things.

no meme here, just showing what Stewart seems to have missed recently

Gitmo detainees are human beings, ill agree with her on that; I don't agree with the dehumanization of them like we have done (and has been done throughout history) with the Japanese in WWII or the Germans every time we fought them.  I think everyone needs to see just what kind of humans Jihadis are; which is to say, fundamentalists that would probably rape and behead Stewart on film if given the chance.  There is great danger in forgiving someone who has no intention of forgiving you and Hollywood is very quick to forget that this war isnt one of socioeconomic differences, its a war against idealism and religious fanaticism where out enemy has divine permission to lie, cheat and murder until all infidels are dead or converted.

In a weird sort of way it must be nice to tear an entire situation down and rebuild it into a simple script where there is a clear protagonist and an antagonist, a set run time and a conclusion that is certain.  Well, we dont really have that; what we have is a reality where Kristen Stewart is willfully stupid about the caliber of people being held at Gitmo and what fuckery they got involved in to be detained there.  She also seems to be purposefully obtuse about jihadis in general and her "research" into the subject matter of the movie revolved around the controversial detainment facility instead of, oh, I don't know, what caused such a detainment facility to exist in the first place.  If a doctor did the same thing he would only examine patients after they had died and question what right we had to not respect the disease that killed them.

 In keeping with a Greek Tragedy level of stupidity, im sure we can expect her to make a few more films like this, and if not her than someone else in Hollywood will because who needs actual reality when you can script it?  Maybe we can see her take on the role of one of Osamas wives who gallantly stands up for the hardline beliefs of her dear husband by showing us how a double tap of 5.56 represents American Imperialism and her CNS failure is the heroic resistance?  I dont know, we may have to tweak that one a bit to really show the humanity of the Jihadi.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Motivation and Discipline; the difference and how to murder one of them and get away with it.

Motivation and discipline are often confused for the same thing, a general feeling that both words mean either will power or dedication to accomplish a task.  This simply isn't true.   Motivation is like that kid you knew in school; hes got cool shoes and an uncle that will buy him cigarettes; hes got a cool idea that involves a pellet gun and some street lights and man you are so down to go along. When the cops show up, hes the first to bail and leave you holding the bag.

Thats right.  Motivation is an asshole.

Basically, this guy.

The problem with motivation is that its not a constant and often outside of your conscious control.  If you wake up in the morning with a case of fuck everything, everywhere, its unlikely motivation is going to get you into the gym and motivation rarely keeps you from eating the crap you know you shouldn't be eating.  We like motivation though, because motivation is an amazing drug.  Motivation feeds your system dopamine and when that dopamine hits your mesolimbic system, its a natural sort of high that good days and awesome experiences are made of.  We are hard wired to love that feeling to the point that some people become addicted to it.  Dopamine is usually associated with relaxed, or positive energetic experiences.  What we have learned because thanks, neurology  is that dopamine is the body's motivator.  You dont get dopamine because you were motivated to do something, you get dopamine to motivate you to do something.  You get the carrot, or you will most certainly get the stick.

For everyday activities, this may not be a bad arrangement; except for the fact that in order to do something, we generally have to want to do it or we simply wont.  This is America (unless you are reading this from another country, in which case, stand by for a stereotype) we do what we want because freedom, eagles, guns and Teddy Roosevelt.  But what motivates you to be motivated?


I simply cannot rely on Motivation to show up to work on time.  He was cool in high school (except for that pellet gun thing) but now hes a slacker that only has this job because I cant fire him.  Motivation gets all the credit because he still looks good in running shorts and has such a positive attitude about life...when he bothers to show up at all. Discipline is what we rely on to make things happen  to say fuck your feelings, get up and do it.  Its what drags our ass out of bed most mornings, so you are familiar with it in the same way you may understand gravity, or what Pitbull is saying. But Discipline is more than the story about that one time something was hard and you did it anyway.  Every day should have a story like that because that's what life is about, doing the hard shit to live instead of taking the easy route just to exist. Embracing discipline isnt a conscious choice to accept it, because once you have discipline you dont have much choice but to listen to whatever it screams in your ear when Motivation is hiding in the break room drinking vodka out of a coffee mug.

Getting discipline is the hard part because discipline really doesnt have time for your excuses and isnt willing to help you if you haven't accepted hard work into your heart.  Some people will go their whole life without ever feeling the tough love discipline offers and that it pretty sad because discipline is what success is made of.  Some people dont like what discipline has to offer and that's fine, they aren't reading this, you are and either Discipline is nodding over your shoulder or Motivation is telling you to Google some cat videos, we can do this later.

Motivation is sometimes out of our hands; we get talked into a 5K run for charity or the fact that your pants dont fit like they used to motivate you to join the gym.  It may be fleeting, or we reach an arbitrary goal and then slack off again.  When we have discipline, we dont need motivation and our goal becomes long term and much more meaningful..Even your diet looks better with discipline because that ice cream, Whopper or Bacon and mac and Cheese pie becomes a treat, not just Tuesday. 

In case you didnt know, this does exist.
So how do you get discipline on your side?  You start small because if you dont have it right now, you cant handle it all at once.  Start small but push hard.  Giving 100% for 15 minutes is much better than finding the most comfortable machine in the gym to facebook on of an hour.  Trim your diet up by weeding out what you want to eat and taking in what you need to eat.  Talk with people who are familiar with disciple and see if how they got to where they are is going to work for you.  Be ready for set backs, be ready to not want to do it but do it anyway because its not about today, its about every day.  Make fast food a reward, not a normal event.  Celebrate your victories because they are what keeps Discipline happy.

When you get to the point that you are putting in an hour at the gym 5, maybe 6 days a week without much thought to the time you could be spending on the couch, you have found discipline and when you decide to give yourself a treat and pick up a Super Baja Taco or milkshake on the way home, Motivations deadbeat ass will just be waking up, thinking about doing something tomorrow.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Having a Gun isn't enough: If You Are Not Practicing Weapon Retention, You Are Wrong.

We are an evolved species.  For the most part, the days of brutal close quarters combat with bare hands and swords/spears is over.  We have guns now, and they have come a long way since the matchlock rifle and the ridiculous pants that came with it.  But having guns has not hampered our celebration of those men that fought with sword and shield; we absolutely love the Spartans, we will put that helmet on anything and molon labe the everlovingshit out of any sentence where the phrase fits.  Now, if we suddenly found ourselves required to fight as the Spartans did, I think its safe to say a number of us would gladly accept the ridiculous outfit of a Musketeer if it meant we could have a primitive matchlock.

We evolved though, right?  So the idea of such combat in the face of the modern semi-automatic or select fire weapon is foolish.  I most completely agree.  Given the option between Gladius or Glock, im going Glock because bullets and comfortable distance.  Also, I know the Spartans used the Xiphos and not the Gladius but Gladius sounds better next to Glock so bear with me.  We have little need to learn the mortal arts of pre-firearm combat when firearms are most certainly the best solution to someone attacking you with a sword.  I am as Lanconphilic as the next guy (no, seriously, click that link, I bet you didn't know that was a thing, did you?) but I understand that romanticism is not often reality.

Because we evolved to the gun, some things have been given less precedence and physical ability is certainly one of them.  There is no day-to-day expectation of unarmed combat in the CCW world. Those who practice one martial art or another are in the minority and courses designed specifically for hand-to-hand fighting around the gun are very, very few.  Law Enforcement receives more training on hand-to-hand (weapon retention) around the gun, the quality varies of course from state to state and some officers get the training once in the academy and never see it again.  I would be willing to say that officers end up in fights for their gun more than anyone else and the data supports this.  Most cops "open carry"  The weapon is right there, and to a felon who finds himself without a weapon when interacting with the police, all he has to do is fight for it and its his.  The desire to not go to prison right then may be motivation enough to go for the gun.  That isnt to say that a citizen cant find themselves in such a situation, because it does happen but there is very little reliable data to say how often.  The point being that if it can happen, we should probably be prepared for it in some way.  If you would be willing to nod your head at that last sentence then I have to ask you, have you had any training on weapon retention?  Fighting to the gun?  The answer is probably no for some readers, maybe a majority of readers.  And lets be honest, having a plan in case it happens and actually being capable of exercising that plan can be two very different things. 

We have people who open carry on the citizen side and just like those who choose to conceal their weapon, their skill level, dedication to training and practice and common sense varies.  The stark difference of course is that an exposed weapon and little attention to retention is a formula for life altering regret.  For anyone popping their knuckles in anticipation of an open carry rant, I must disappoint you.  The remainder of this is directed at everyone, those who open carry should just pay closer attention.  I have now laid the groundwork to ask one simple question.

Are you prepared to fight for your gun?

If you own this, the answer is probably "no."
Be Batman, or as Batman as you can be.
Most men are born thinking they know how to fight.  I myself mastered the wrapping paper tube Nunchaku  and infinity magazine Crossman pellet gun before I hit puberty.  On a more serious note, my first school yard fight was a win, most of my school yard fights were a win...while my grade level was still in the single digits anyway.  The first fight I lost was a painful reminder that I had no formal training in fighting of any sort.  I'm sure there are people who can relate.  But those were just silly childhood fights, right?  Yep.  Obviously an adult confrontation is going to be a bit more important, especially if its you defending yourself and/or your weapon or fighting empty handed until you can get to your gun.  A solid understanding of empty handed techniques is important.  So is being in good enough shape to use them.  The general consensus is that in a physical altercation you have around 30 seconds of optimal performance before you begin to fatigue and any strikes or exertions of strength begin to weaken.  30 seconds is an eternity and no time at all depending on the fight.  Even though it shouldn't have to be said, Im going to say it; optimal is going to be different for everyone.  Optimal for a guy who gets winded opening a bag of chips (even if he is wearing a Tap Out shirt) is not the same as a guy who does MMA as a hobby.

He was basically Abe mixed with Brad Pitt mixed with lots of drugs
Fight strength is about balance.  Just being Of Mice and Men strong wont cut it.  Strength needs endurance and cardio endurance is not built on the bench press.  Its also important to note that there is a difference between running cardio and fight cardio.  I discovered this difference during a work-study program called I Dont Want to Go to Jail put on by a wiry aspiring felon with the fighting abilities of a spider monkey on HGH and PCP.  This wasnt a gun struggle, but it almost was and it changed my mind about some things.  The biggest one being that I needed a better 30 seconds.  I can run and run and run at a decent pace in a straight line for some miles, but explosive power in close quarters requires a conditioning you cant get watching CNN on mute while you praddle away on the treadmill.

Expectations and reality being at odds have given us Greek Tragedy classics, Adam Sandler having a career and people paying to watch a dude smash fruit with a hammer.  While sad,  these are mostly benign in their lasting effects on your life.  Weapon retention can have a decidedly more permanent impression on your reality.  Consider that professional training for firearms is a huge market, but the training for weapon retention is quite small and not nearly as celebrated.  Instructors that teach "reality-based" self-defense with a firearm deserve the quotes around that term if they don't cover weapon retention.  I can only think of a small handful of trainers actually teaching legitimate skills for weapon retention (that number grows a bit if I include techniques that look good on a mat, or work awesome when choreographed but that's theater, not reality).  An honest instructor knows weapon retention is important, so why isnt it more of a focus?

Gun Kata doesnt count because its not an actual noun.

In case you needed a visual
Well, because its hard.  teaching it is hard.  Teaching it honestly with sound techniques is hard.  Also, if you are teaching any sort of physical skill and you are more Jigglypuff than Juggernaut, you will not be taken very seriously, if at all.  Strict martial arts is filled with a lot of choices.  Some of those choices can help with weapon retention, most cannot.  The martial art world and the firearms world are distant cousins that dont always talk at family reunions and dont agree on much when they do.  There are a few exceptions of course, but sometimes even those are more fad than fact.  If we had more of a demand for weapon retention training, we would have a greater access to it and instructors not able to address it would either have to educate themselves, or step outside of the "reality-based" line.  If you carry a firearm for self-defense, you should be seeking weapon retention training out.  Its that simple.

Oh but why?  What are the chances that you will end up in a fight for your gun?  Hmmm.  Well, its not just about struggling over your gun and suddenly wishing you didn't have a Fobus holster.  What about being knocked to the ground and having the shit kicked out of you?  Do you know how to fight back to your feet, or are you ready to wing it?  What about facing a bat, a knife, a 6 foot section of re-bar?  It really boils down to the fact that there is only one positive outcome but dozens of negative ones.  Is there anything at all to be gained from not having a firm understanding of techniques to protect your weapon and combat physical attacks?  I cant think of one.  I'm sure I can make some excuses, I can make biscuits too but they suck just as much (im a terrible cook because I never learned how).  Is weapon retention training too serious?  Is there such a thing as the causal self-defense CCW?  No, hurt feelings aside, either you are 100% or not.  

We don't need to be Spartans, but we damn sure need to be physically ready for the fight.  The time you put into this is worth it.  For long term health, better skill and confidence we need to win.  Your fight may never come, if it does you will be thankful for preparing.  The alternative doesn't even qualify as an excuse.  So if you find yourself in a fight for your life, how much fight will you have?  You will have the rest of your life.  How long that is, is entirely up to you.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Talent, Skill, Trophies and Excuses

My favorite thing when it comes to trying something new isn't when I get it right; its when I reach the point where doing it right is consistent.  When something goes from the excitement of the first success to the confidence of performing the task at will, its like a veritable peak on the bro moment roller coaster that I can chose to share with the world or not because I know that I can do it.  Not only can I do it, but tracing back my path to arriving at that point, I can help others do it too.

Talent is a word we see sometimes, one that has differing opinions depending on the context but generally means

a special ability that allows someone to do something well

When it comes to most things, that "special ability" is usually hard work in disguise.  Nothing is more aggravating to the brain surgeon or fighter pilot than to have the work they put in dismissed as talent.  Dont get me wrong, some people are obviously more genetically prepared for certain things than others; Im never going to realize my dream of playing in the NBA because I didn't put in the time...and im not exceptionally tall, or exceptionally agile, or a fan of Wheaties....or basketball; I also didn't have any dreams regarding playing in the NBA so there's that as well.  But some people seem to be built to do certain things, physical things, anyway.

You don't often see an architect described as a natural because he looks good in Dockers and seems to have the hands to work a stack of blueprints.  No, his talent may be identified after he showed an aptitude for the study and at some point it may be used to dismiss all the work he put in; make it seem easy as if you can simply be born into Frank Lloyd Write-ing your way into history.  Hard work and dedication get dismissed as luck as well, and in the grand scheme of things I find that even more aggravating but it can almost be forgiven because its such a common, automatic response to someones skill that it might as well be asking "how ya doin?" without sticking around to hear the answer (fine, by the way).

In reality it may only be your ability to learn and to replicate techniques that garners the kind of success people will call talent.  Participation Trophies and the entitlement generation aside, its fairly well known that some people are smarter than others and this directly reflects on what they are able to accomplish.  As a PC society we don't want to admit this; kids are told they can be anything they want to be from a very young age though if this was true the world would either be full of unemployed astronauts or dangerously over populated with rock stars, princesses and despotic warlords ruling their fractured domains from tree forts.

You can be anything you want to be; but you have to be able to do the work and your quality of work will determine just how much of that thing you can actually be.  I don't believe in participation trophies anymore than I believe in sugar coating the truth.  Things are as they are and changing them is largely a personal problem.  If you want to be better at something, you have to develop the talent to do so and talent looks a wholesamedamnthinglot like work.  In Sage classes, students can earn a Sage Red Patch; the only way to earn it is to best demonstrate the instructed skills and show up with a firm understanding of what you are about to get into.  I dont give these patches out to make those who dont earn them feel bad, I give them out to make those who get them feel good about the work they have put in.  The idea of the trophy is to identify achievement, not highlight other's failure.  I do it without large ceremony and often hand them to students privately.  Its not a big deal, its my thank you.

When it comes to guns, athletics or anything that's Alpha, everyone is an expert until they aren't. People get comfortable with their performance and dont push the envelope or they are afraid to move forward because it means sucking at something for an unknown period of time until they begin to improve.  I see a man on occasion who is a very accomplished marksman with the handgun; he shoots long distance and well with a simple, no-frills 1911 and does so to a degree that I might not believe it if I was seeing it on youtube.  He shoots well, but he shoots slow and no prodding in the world will speed him up.  Hes an EDC kind of guy, but has little to no interest in any type of self-defense focused shooting.  "I'm too old to go down that road."  I'm told in conversation.  I disagree, he shrugs and the conversation stalls like it always does, comfortable but rock solid impasse.  He shows an obvious aptitude for shooting, just not for more self defense focused shooting.  Even at speed his draw is slow and deliberate and while some readers may be thinking slow is smooth, smooth is fast I have to say that Slow never equals Fast.  Proper technique can be performed at any speed, and slow is the least desirable of all of them.  Should he be comfortable with his performance? Thats not my call to make.  I would like to see him widen his skill set but I can force no one to do so.

Talent is putting in the hours.  Making the mistakes and never reaching a point where you are unwilling to pick up the next skill.  Everyone is going to have a "wall" they cant get over with performance and the height of that wall is directly related to how honest you are with the skills you arrived there with.  If your draw stroke is sloppy, you will suffer the clock.  If you lazy eye the sights, you will suffer the shitty grouping, if you slap the trigger for speed, it will become obvious. If you cant handle constructive criticism and good advice, you probably wont improve.  We can keep doing all the things we are good at, and that's going to do nothing to help us get better at the things we don't do at all.

Talent is unconscious competence.  its confidence (sometimes mistaken for arrogance) and it should be the goal for each and every skill.  Proper practice, proper training and dedication to the skill, the technique.  If you are waiting to discover a natural talent, chances are you will be disappointed.  If you think you have a natural talent but its scope is narrow, it may be time to broaden your skill set.  If you want to get better, you have to be willing to do the work and fail repeatedly until you have covered all the ways not to do something.  The best shooters didn't get anywhere doing anything that you cant do.  You can dismiss them as having access to ammo and time, the best gear showered upon them or any other manner of excuses but the fact is they likely sat there one day and decided it was time to put in the work and that work was more than others were putting in.


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The FBI, the 9mm, Science and Opinion.

If anyone was in question over how I felt about caliber, "stopping power" and associated topics pretty much had their questions answered when I wrote about it last month for Breach Bang Clear.  In May of this year the FBI circulated a memo that eventually made its way to the internet and I have had people tagging me in posts about it on Facebook ever since.  The FBI is looking to go to 9mm.  If this is the first time you are hearing this and you need a minute to clam down, please take it now.  

Breathe deep.

You good?

im good.  Continue.
Okay, moving on. For those who have not looked at it, the FBIs May 6th memo cites a number of reasons why they should move to the 9mm round and they are all great reasons.  They are the same reasons they used in the late 1980s to move to the .40 S&W round (after the 10mm debacle, of course).  See the FBI Academy Firearm Training Unit did up a paper that should be considered the bible for handgun selection, Its called Handgun Wounding Factors and Effectiveness  and it addresses damn near every topic of argument you could ever see in any forum, anywhere, over caliber.  Since then we have had a great deal of amazing research put forth by Dr. Gary Roberts and others into which bullets are more shooty than others and which ones make bad people go away faster.  The (not in any way) surprising conclusions are always about penetration and shot placement, not caliber.

Now, the FBI, myself or Dr. Williams have not addressed the Glock vs 1911 debate so we will have to table that one for now but for everything else, the jury is in fact in and has been in since 1989. For those that didn't know the verdict was back, I have provided links.  For those that hate science, or disagree based on opinion, I hear there are places in Pennsylvania you can go where they dont have the internet; however punching babies is just as illegal and frowned upon there as it is here.

Obviously 1989 was a while back and if you are my age or younger, you probably missed the report coming out because the internet wasn't really a thing and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was on.  I first came across the report in 2002, which is also a life time ago in internet argument years.  It might as well be the beginning of time because memes hadn't been invented then that could be used to underscore your point or attack someone elses.  How did we ever debate anything back then?

So in 1989 and again in 2014 the FBI said the same thing.  Why should we listen to the FBI when Deerhunter1980, 1911guy,  ISIShunter22 or Beantownbadass "know" a guy, who statistically is a SEAL, who shot (x) number of people with the .45 (or .40) and his opinion is that the 9mm isn't good enough to blow out backs?

Well, all due respect to the gun store counter (both sides of it), the FBI has people employed full time to research ballistic performance.  It is literally their thing.  We cant have scientific controls in place on a gun fight, but we can best examine the performance of the bullet.  This isnt good enough since anyone with patience and/or a debit card can order Ballistic gel on the internet, we have plenty of disputed performance claims for each round because, well because we are curious by nature and some may even have their SEAL buddies reputation at stake.  Personal research is awesome.  Making the research fit your opinion instead of the research helping form your opinion is ridiculous.  Thank god the same approach isn't taken to brain surgery or gravity.

My point here isn't to rehash my position since I pretty exhaustively covered that already, rather I would like to think that those who want to espouse the holy properties of the .45 over everything else or swear their undying allegiance to the .40, .380. .357 SIG (or original .357 you unwashed heathens) do so with a stiff shot of education.  Sometimes it tastes bad going down but its far better than unqualified advice.  I am wary of gun store gospel for the same reason I dont take fitness advice from a random guy in the gym.  hes in the right place to know what hes talking about, he may even look like he knows what hes talking about but that doesn't mean his advice is not going to lead to a violation of common sense.

For those who say "shoot what you are comfortable with, caliber isnt important" I applaud you; I just hope that this advice is given impartially and not to defend the practicality of a low capacity weapon over a higher capacity weapon because you believe a few rounds are going to do the trick.  7-8 rounds is nice; 15-20 is better.  If you then want to talk about accuracy and how you should be able to do it in single digits, I would suspect a lack of experience in actual uses of force and either no access to the internet or no knowledge that www.google.com exists.  There is mountains of data to the contrary and while every gunfight is going to be unique, there are commonalities.

Contrary to some opinions, im not actually promoting any one caliber over another.  I like the 9mm; which in no way can be understood as me saying "you should carry a 9mm" unless you pulled a bender last night drinking paint thinner and cayenne pepper.  What I am suggesting as loudly as I can is to actually put in an hour or so to read up on the topic from reputable sources.  I believe that every shooter has a responsibility to be factually knowledgeable about the performance of their ammunition and that information should be based on credible research not shooting milk jugs.  Knowledge of handgun ammunition performance in general can go far towards changing assumptions and helping personal planning on magazine capacity, number of mags carried and paying greater attention to shot placement.

Since for some owning a gun is almost the same as being an expert in all things gun (it is, right?) and the same may have a very emotional investment in all their choices, this argument/debate is going to rage until we are arguing whether or not the 40 Watt plasma rifle is a good choice for home defense over the EM-1 Rail gun.  Arnold preferred both so im waiting on the FBI to release some impartial research on their performance.

just for the TL; DR crowd

Monday, October 6, 2014

AAR Pace Performance: Performance Pistol One (Beard Driven Fighting Extraordinaire)

This past weekend (Oct 4-5) I was in New Jersey with Paul Van Dunk Jr of Pace Performance for a collaborative handgun course.  I've known Paul for a while and despite the fact that he is a much more attractive man than me, we decided to get together and offer students something they dont get very often from instructors.  Paul could have simply hosted me, or I could have hosted him down in Atlanta but it made sense to us to offer students two different approaches to the same level of training.  The saying goes (or at least they saying I use with students) is dont get all your training under one roof.  Paul and I kept it organic, we didn't organize our blocks of instruction to compliment each other or discuss any differences in instruction points.  We just ran our respective classes as we normally would run them and both thought this would give everyone attending a great training experience.

Day one we ran my Defensive Handgun Fundamentals course and New Jersey gave zero fucks with plenty of rain most of the morning that, while not on the biblical level i'm used to in Georgia, was enough to complicate things and force students to learn while approaching the miserable feeling.  I'm convinced the weather in New jersey is at the very least bi-polar, at worst very anti-gun.  With 13 on the line including the glorious beards of Kevin Markland and Rob Brotzman, my work was cut out for me.  Cops down from the NYPD, some local Jersey LEOs, everyday self-defense minded citizens and enough Sage Alumni to keep the inside jokes going, we fought through the weather and ran a great class. Paul was on the line participating as one of the students and got twice the malfunction training of anyone else do to some inconsistent ammo.  The class ran seamlessly despite nature not helping things and by the end of the day much learning had occurred.  I was glad to have made the trip up.  From first setting the class date I looked forward to my course, but I had been looking forward to Paul's much more.

This beard presented without comment
Day two was cold, but Paul was granted the better weather.  Overcast and little in the way of wind, no rain.  Since I had flown up and not thought to ship ammo ahead of time, I only had a few hundred rounds to participate and despite offers from everyone in the class shooting my caliber to share their ammo, I refused so they wouldn't lose out on a single training round.  Within the first five minutes of Paul's Performance Pistol One course, I knew he was a solid instructor.

also, this happened....

We share a like mind on many things, which is why we talk.  We discuss a lot of technical and self-defense oriented skills and those conversations led to this class taking place.  I never had any reservations about teaching with him and if I did, those first five minutes would have dug a shallow grave, shot them in the head, had a slice and forgot about it.  We dont have the same teaching style, perhaps we could be described as "diametrically different" in our approach but one thing is clear, we are both student-focused.  Just within the first thirty minutes, solid learning was occurring and it was obvious that shooting performance on the line was being looked at in a new way.  Paul wasn't giving out magic, he was buckling down the basics in a simplified way that focused strictly on the gun.  His explanation on handgun grip alone; from the draw to presentation, is worthy of careful attention and makes so much sense it might as well be written in stone.  We ran drills I had never experienced and a few personal favorites including the "pass your gun to the right" which lets shooters experience a different weapon (hard to do in a class of mostly Glocks) and realize its more them than gun or accessories.

Many of the fundamentals were talked about, some were simply addressed because Paul, like me, knows that certain things dont need fixing or are so natural that trying to change them is detrimental to the shooter.  I was working from appendix on the line, a carry position I dont prefer but do run occasionally to remain proficient so I can teach it.  Using Paul's method of the draw stroke, I was easily able to iron out some inefficiency and get the gun to the bad guy faster.  Just that alone was worth my time.  Paul's teaching method is personable, like hes having a one-on-one conversation with everyone on the line, its not as "formal" but it is highly effective.  The students responded to small changes in certain topics that I had covered the day before, I watched more than a few of them going back and forth with my instruction and Paul's, seeing which one worked better for them.  That was the whole point and it looked pretty damn successful.

I am a self-defense focused instructor.  Paul says he isn't, which he honestly believes but I did not see a single bit of instruction given that did not apply to self-defense shooting.  The drills were common sense and realistic, the time constrains, movement, physical involvement and stress were more self-defense focused to me than a competition general skills class.  Paul pushes the physical movement envelope a little harder than I do at that level, with drills that get the heart rate up but don't last long enough to cause long term fatigue.  Students are pushed towards their performance max but not dangerously close and mistakes are addressed from word one with a plan to fix them.  Paul does not go into the physiology or psychology of the fight and he doesn't have to,  he is helping students blueprint their skills as he puts it, and by the middle of the day I noticed further improvement in many of the students I had watched improve the day before when they went though my class.   

As firearms instructors, as teachers, Paul and I have "lanes" we are supposed to stay in, at least that's the word on the street.  I agree with this to an extent, we are indeed responsible for teaching only what we are capable of teaching and shouldn't make attempts to gimmick or sell snake oil to students just to be unique.  Paul says he doesn't teach self-defense because it isn't his lane.  Well, he may not realize it but he is driving in that lane because what hes teaching applies very well to self-defense shooting and practice without needing to wear that hat.  There are many different ways to do things and many different ways to approach teaching how to do them.  Adults learn in different ways and that requires different approaches.  Without solid and interrupted one-on-one training, some things may not be as well understood by a student.  With two different methods covering the fundamentals of the handgun, I think that each student walked away with a much greater understanding of new skills and how to improve their existing skills; I know I did.

what I lack in beard I make up for in RBF.

Im still not going to grow a beard, but I will take any class Paul Van Dunk offers.