Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Wake Me Up Before You Go Go

This is my knee, and yes, it does look like hammered shit. I'm moving better on the crutches now, and I meet with the orthopedists early next week to see whether it'd time to change braces and suck it up and start rehab. Still on the heavy duty drugs but have them down to a couple just before nite nite (as opposed to handfuls every few hours).

Gonna spend some time shooting handguns tomorrow…hopefully the concentration effort won't put me back in bed the way it did before. Managed to cook dinner last night — blazing shrimp scampi — and not poison anyone. Gonna work with the Kahr CW9, the Glock G26 and the Ruger SR9c. I suspect most of my shooting will be from a seated position, maybe with chilled lemonade and some bonbons.

I still don't think I can get into a decent prone position…well, maybe I can get into it, but it would take a crane to get me out.

So what do you think…too much????????????????????? 

Saturday, September 26, 2015

This Is the Dawning of the Ageless Aquarium...

I'm still not sure how I'm going to be dealing with this. Right now I'm crying around my Ruger SR9c 9mm in a SafePacker. When I start wearing real clothes again, I'll be using one of the Blocker 24XD cross draws, which seems like the best holster option at this point.

I haven't started working with long guns yet, so I've decided to haul out one of my "survivalist" set-ups, an S&W 629 in a custom Survival Sheath System shoulder holster set-up. It's actually an experimental system that owner Robert Humelbaugh invented, then didn't (to my knowledge) go forward with. On the off side of the holster there are roll up elastic bands for ammunition, I think 12-15, per roll up, I also have 2 speed loaders racked up as well. The function of this set-up is if I hear things go bump in the night I have a piece and lots of spare ammo that I can put on and have with me. My concept was that it's a LOT of firepower that conceals under a light jacket. The overall original idea was the the .44 shoulder system would combine with a traditionally belt mounted polymer striker-fired semi auto. The 9mm, let's say Glock to make it easy, would provide the immediate gunfight response; the advantage of the .44 Magnum would be its ammo versatility from self-defense to big game. An example would be to keep the .44 loaded with hot load FMJ reloads, which will penetrate like crazy. I once loaded up some penetrators for a friend of mine…we were both awed at the results. I make a joke about shooting through a train, but these would come pretty close.

To me the idea still has some validity. If I couldn't G.O.O.D with a handgun and a rifle, I'd rather have 2 handguns than a handgun and a garden rake. If one of those handguns was, in effect, a short rifle, so much the better. My fighting would be done with the primary, but if I needed to take a long shot, a shot against a pretty hefty animal  or an attempt to punch through cover, I'd go to the secondary. A scoped Ruger .44 Magnum Blackhawk certainly wouldn't be my first choice for self-defense, but it would be a handy thing to have around for other duties. A shoulder rig would make the weight palatable.

Tomorrow I'll get out a 9mm AR pistol, a single point sling and a bunch of spare magazines. This might be a good time to get the back-of-the-passenger seat carrier designed and made up! Plus I gotta get ready to redirect my inner energies toward harmony, peace and understanding as tomorrow's lunar red moon eclipse begins. If that doesn't work, I'm going to sacrifice a bunny and send the entire world into a pre-Apocraphal tailspin. I guess either kinda works,

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Getting Started on Rehab!

Muddy knees have got me all a-quiver, 
Muddy knees have got me all aglow, 
Muddy knees have sent me for a paper, 
To a newsstand near I know
Monty Python

We all know that every journey begin with a single step…or swing, as it were. Now that I'm home from the hospital, it's time to spin up the rehab. My Sweetie should be back from the hardware store in just a few minutes, and we can get started!

I anticipate being not only stronger, but taller as well. I hope she reads the instruction manual!

Anyhow, the surgery went fine,,,they drugged the crap out of me and I woke up an hour or so later from a nasty dream full of clowns, like waking up at a Juggalo gathering, except without the exhibitionism and body paint.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Yes, I Can Still Return Fire! Sorta...

Surgery #1 completed…quad is now reattached to the kneecap. So after a bit of rehab…4-6 months worth…I'm ready for the knee replacement surgery.

The orthopedic surgeon made an interesting point. Apparently the tendon connecting the quads to the kneecap was in such bad shape that in his opinion the tendon would have self-destructed pretty soon even without a fall. If its gotta happen, I'd rather it happen here at the Bunker than on some far-flung mountain on the far side of the world!

My plan at this point is since I have to come off the road for a while, I'm going to go to 2 DOWN RANGE Radio podcasts a week. I'm also going to put together some fun stuff over on DRTV. Lots of gun stuff to do as well, most notably to tune myself up for the new USPSA provisional Carry Optics division.

I'm of course talking about various and sundry fun plans to keep my mind off the fact that Ye Old Knee hurts like screaming all get-out…am waiting for the pain killers to kick in (oh please oh please, oh please!). more when I quit gritting my teeth! Also, check with my FaceBook page as well...

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Suck It Up, Buttercup!

Boy, it is a magnificent late summer day here at the Bunker! A cool, gin-clear, I-can't-imagine-living-anywhere-else day.

Met with the orthopedic surgeon last week, and he confirmed the right knee is slagged and will require a complete knee replacement…there goes my dream career as a place-kicker! Not a surprise. We set the surgery date for mid-November, which'll give me rehab over the holidays. I should be greased and ready to kick ass at SHOT.

The doc did okay cycling and hiking in the lead-up to the surgery — cycling will be  a big part of the rehab — and I got out for an hour loop yesterday on the road bike. The knee actually feels pretty good, which, as the doctor noted, is the cortisone and the nighttime low-level painkillers. "It's not getting better," he said. "It just feels better."

Well, there you are.

I have a private student tomorrow, who'll be working with .22/9mm ARs on my long challenge course. I spent a long time on the range today painting steel and resetting targets…range looks really spiffy, BTW.

Friday, September 18, 2015

"Baby Rock" Rocks, Baby

Newt faces a hard choice, big 1911 or little 1911...if she only had a thumb!

Let's dig into this...

The Rock Island "Baby Rock" .380

You probably got the impression that I liked the Rock Island "Baby Rock".380 when I shot it at SHOT (so to speak). I do. As I've mentioned before, I was very fond of my now long gone Colt Mustang and beat myself up for not getting one of the Colt "Government Model" .380s when they were overpriced and available (after beating myself up for not snagging the first mini 1911, the Llama IIIa/Micro Max, for kibbles and bits because I was pissier then and thumbed my nose at Spanish semiautos which were, after all, made of Silly Putty).

The Baseline, a Colt 1903 Pocket Hammerless

So when Martin Tucson told me RI was going to do a little 1911 .380, I jumped at the chance to get one ASAP. I looked at the Browning 1911 in .380, which is a bit larger than either the original Colt or the new RI (see specs below), and I was considering getting one when I talked to Martin about the Baby Rock. My baseline, as you all know, is the Colt 1903/1908 Pocket Hammerless, which I consider the standard for small carry pistols. Browning knew instinctively that the biggest issues with a concealed carry pistol were width and butt. The 1903 is really skinny, and the butt is rounded...take note, little grasshoppers!

Both the RI and the Browning fall within that 1903 standard, but the Baby Rock excels. It has a slightly skinnier and more rounded profile than my regular "carry at home" pocket .380, the Kahr CW380 (which is slightly skinnier and more rounded than the Sig P238). I think of guns in the baby Rock/Browning/1903 Colt despite it name size category as holster, rather than pocket, pistols...maybe back in 1903 gentlemen had larger pockets!

Colt "Government Model" .380 in stainless

First, let's talk a little about the niche in which the Baby Rock belongs. Remember a couple of years back, when Ruger introduced the LC380, the smaller caliber version of their successful LC9? I was initially puzzled, but after I started putting rounds through the LC380, I got it.

"Baby Rock" (top) and the Sig P238, one of the best pocket .380s ever

The current generation of pocket .380s, led by the Ruger LCP, are what I think of as "2 finger" pistols, meaning I can only get 2 fingers on the grip.  This will always limit the practical accuracy of the gun. For what we think of as "self-defense" distances, out to say 7 yards, no problem — especially with the Kahrs and Sig P238s with their excellent sights. Outside those ranges, shots become a bit for problematical. Can you make a 25 yard shot with a pocket pistol? On that super-cool perfect day, probably…after all, the late and truly great Bob Munson broke balloons at 100 yards with a snub revolver. Of course, he stacked up a LOT of brass on the ground to get those shots!

I noted that the LC380 and the Glock 42 were absolute sweethearts to shoot, a pretty substantial difference from the buck and roar of the mini-9mms with full power self-defense ammo (I compared Corbon DPX .380s with DPX 9mms, sort of an apple to crabapple comparison). Given that I think .380 self-defense ammo is pretty good these days, I could see the utility of the super-sized .380s, especially in the case of someone who would not commit to putting enough rounds downrange to master the mini-9mms. Sometimes I'm afraid that's most of the people carrying them! LOL!

"Baby Rock" compared to a full-sized Government Model...btw, the 1911 pictured is an interesting story in tis own right, one of the few 9 X 23s.

As I've discussed at length on the podcast, I think we've transitioned to a universe where we as armed civilians might be called upon to make a longer shot., as has happened in recent months. One of the other advantages of the super-sized .380s is that it's easier to make that longer shot. To prove my hypothesis, I quickly took the Baby Rock down to my range and shot on 25-yard IPSC steel silhouettes and had no problem making center mass hits with 90 grain ARMSOR ball.

Part of this is due to the pretty good averages out about 5.5 pounds on my Lyman gauge over 10 shots. Compare that to my Sig P239, whose trigger clocks in at an average of 7.33 pounds. In fact, I would have to say I'm completely happy with the trigger...just little take-up, no appreciable creep. The sights are good — Novak "style and easy to acquire quickly. Still, not as big and easily acquired as the "fat bastards" on the P238, which is sort of my ideal in a small gun.


At more than 23 ounces, recoil on the Baby Rock is negligible.  That weight is both a pro and a con. Con, because it's heavy for its size. The Baby Rock's weight is only slightly less than an aluminum-framed 3-inch 1911 or equivalent to a Glock 19...the Glock 42 .380 is almost 10 ounces less. In a holster, however, the Baby Rock will "disappear." The weight, coupled with the full 3 fingers on the drip, make the gun extremely shootable.

If I had to make a long shot with a .380, this is the gun for it. Secondly...and I think this is an important point for new CCW holders...the Baby Rock doesn't beat you up when you shoot it. As much as I like the mini-9mms, none of them are a fun day at the range with full power ammunition. The same goes for most of the pocket .380s. For a new CCW holder, I'm looking for a couple of things: 1) a gun that will get carried every day, and 2) a gun that will get shot a lot. With the right holster, the thin profile of the Baby Rock would be a snap to carry.

If you shop around you can find pretty good deals on .380 ball to practice with. I've seen ARMSCOR for about $140 per 500 rounds, with reloads, the Russian and the Czech ammunition cheaper than that. For self defense, my choice is Corbon DPX 80-gr, which I've shot a bunch in Ballistic jello and in various penetration tests. I've also shot the DoubleTap 95-gr, which performed extremely well in gel. Unfortunately, it's about as rare as the proverbial hen's teeth. Here's a link to Richard Mann's SHOOTING ILLUSTRATED article on .380 ballistics. I've never shot the Buffalo Bore "+P" (I put a parenthesis around +P because there's no SAAMI spec for the overpressure designation in .380, hence my reluctance to shoot it), but I might give it a shot out of this gun.

So far, out of 200 rounds I have had one failure, the slide didn't fully close at Round 20 with ARMSCOR ball. I would not swear on a stack of Bible's that my thumbs didn't have anything to do with that failure. I've shot ARMSCOR ball, 80-gr Corbon DPS, 90-gr Corbon JHPs, Winchester SilverTip 85-gr and PowerBall 70-gr.

Here's my favorite group, 5-shot, 7-round rapid fire with DPX (it's an anatomically correct VTAC target, BTW). I tried a run of the PowerBall, but as has been the case in my other .380s, it just wan't there...maybe it's me!

I went up to the head for the the Silvertips:

I couldn't figure out what I did on that first group on the right-hand side, but when I sort of stepped back and ran some shots on steel, I realized that I was slightly canting the Baby Rock. With that in mind I went back and shot the group in the center. I tried some ball at 7 yards with this result:

At 10 yards I shot a really good group with the ARMSCOR ball, 6 of 6 shots touching with the 7th an outlier. Of course, somewhere between the range and the house I lost the orange dot. I know, you're never going to believe that! Here's one of my other ball groups at 10 yards:

Sorry you couldn't have seen the good one...heaven knows I'm only good for maybe one of those a day! LOL!

I have 2 primary complaints — as I mentioned in my preliminary post, the thumb safety, which engages a notch in the slide, is stiff stiff stiff coming off. I will admit it's loosening up as I work it (and a little lube hasn't hurt), but I think some judicious polishing will be called for. I wouldn't mind a lightly larger thumb safety (read this article from 1998 on building the perfect .380 carry gun on a Colt Government Model .380, a la Cylinder and Slide...I wonder if Bill Laughridge could make the Colt extended safety fit? Naw! That's too much to hope!).

My other complaint is, Martin, oh Martin, why did you have to have that damned grip safety? I hate the things on principle. As usual, I have issues with it on a high thumb hold; not so much on a low thumb. However, having whined, I will say there is a plus to the grip safety, at least in my conservative view. I know about all the various give and take on IWB holsters in the appendix position, e.g. you screw up reholstering and Mr. Femoral Artery has a really bad day.

I'm probably alone here, but I do like redundant Old Skool manual safeties when I decide to point the ole blaster in Mr. Weasel's direction. A thumb safety and a grip safety would make me a lot more sanguine about ramming the ole avenger home, appendix holster wise.

I suspect the biggest issue with the Baby Rock will be the dearth of concealment holsters. Even Alien Gear, which has holsters for such obscurities as the Remington R51 and the Chiappa Rhino snub, doesn't yet list the Baby Rock. A  CrossBreed MiniTuck would be just about perfect. I suppose you could find a Sneaky Pete holster to fit.

I rummaged through the holster box and found that a Wilderness Tactical "Zip Slide" for a medium frame Glock would work. Also both a DeSantis OWB for a Sig P938 and a Galco OWB for either a Ruger LC9 or a Kimber Solo will do. For IWB, the N82 Tactical Original will work spiffily.

Okay...that's about enough overkill for this week!

A quick spec comparison:

Rock Island "Baby Rock" .380
Length: 6.5 inches
Barrel Length: 4.0 inches
Height: 5.5 inches
Capacity: 7 + 1
Weight: 23.5 ounces
Finish: Parkerized
MSRP: $459

Colt "Government Model" .380
Length: 6.5 inches
Barrel Length: 3.25 inches
Height: ??
Capacity: 7 + 1
Weight: 21.75 ounces
Finish: Blue/Stainless
MSRP: $508 when released

Browning 1911 .380
Length: 7.5 inches
Barrel Length: 4.25 inches
Height: ?
Capacity: 8 + 1
Weight: 18 ounces
Finish: Black/Composite frame
MSRP: $669.99

Compare this to the littlier-bittier SAO .380s:

Sig Sauer P238
Length: 5.5 inches
Barrel Length: 2.7 inches
Height: 3.9 inches
Capacity: 6 + 1
Weight: 15.2 ounces
Finish: Many varieties
MSRP: $679 (varies by model)

Kimber Micro .380
Length: 5.6 inches
Barrel Length: 2.75 inches
Height: 4.0 inches
Capacity: 6 + 1
Weight: 13.4 ounces
Finish: Many varieties
MSRP: $951 (varies with model; mortgages available)

And just to make sure we're all on the same page, let's take a look at the uber-.380, the Glock 42:

Length: 5.94 inches
Barrel Length: 3.25 inches
Height: 4.13 inches
Capacity: 6 + 1
Weight: 13.76 ounces
Finish: Parkerized
MSRP: $459

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Frank James, R.I.P.

I note the passing of my dear friend and colleague at GUN STORIES, Frank James.

He was first and foremost a farmer, a tiller of the land. As a gun writer, he was without peer, knowledgeable, thoughtful, experienced, truly and relentlessly honest.

A long time ago I got a phone call. When I answered, the voice on the other end of the line said, "My name is Frank James, and I am a bean farmer in Indiana. I would like to become a gun writer and I am calling you to ask for your advice..."

I thought that was pretty funny, but I asked for him to send me some of his writing. Much to my surprise, those first writings were really, really good...horrible punctuation, only the vaguest hint of Turabian's English Grammar, but the thought, the cadence, the words, the heart, were there. Over the years Frank became the writer he dreamed of being, a master of the craft.

His life was not an easy one. He stared into the abyss after the tragic death of his daughter, Valerie Victoria. A lesser man would have faltered, but Frank was not a lesser man. He emerged stronger in his life and in his faith, a beacon for his wife Cathy and his son Mike.

When we started GUN STORIES, Frank was one the first to come on board as one of our experts. He was an integral part of our show, his insights and his authoritative knowledge adding so much to the show. At SHOT 2014, after the OUTDOOR CHANNEL Golden Moose Awards where GUN STORIES cleaned up, Frank joined my Sweetie and I for a late dinner. We laughed, joked and told lies until the very wee hours. At the end of the dinner, he leaned across the table said said, "You know we are blessed, don't you? To live the lives we've lived and do the things we've done. This is what it means to be blessed."

He was right, of course. We are life was truly blessed by the time I spent with Frank, and all of us were blessed by the words he shared.

Go with God, brother.

We'll miss you.

In memory of Frank, memorials may be made to the Valerie Victoria James “Don’t Quit” 4H Scholarship c/o White County Extension Office (Reynolds, IN) or the Indiana FFA Leadership Center in Trafalgar, IN.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Chained to the Computer All Day...

Sigh…my Sweetie and her brother had a nice hike in Rocky Mountain National Park, on which I had to pass. I've still got plenty of writing time to go, but tomorrow I meet with the orthopedic surgeon to discuss supercharging my knee, or whatever.

In the meantime, I got one of the Rock Island "Baby Rock" .380 mini-1911. Isn't it just cute as a button?

"Daddy! I left the 1911 in the washing machine and it shrunk!"

I have to confess that my first thought was that it has the potential to be the coolest itty-bitty race gun in the world…a little comp…a little C-More…a little ludicrous mag well…3/4 scale IPSC.

On a serious note, I really liked the old Colt .380 Government Model. It wasn't really a pocket pistol like the Mustang or Pony, but I thought it was an excellent updated version of the classic 1903/1908 .32 or .380 Colt, which I consider one o fate finest carry guns every made. Why, because it was thin, like really thin. The .380 Government Model was clearly a holster pistol, but it was thin and very well made. It concealed super well, with much better access than in the pocket.

I have high hopes for the Baby Rock. Out of the box, the gun feels great, as one might expect from a mini-1911. The thumb safety was stiff, but hey, it's not the first stiff thumb safety I've seen on a 1911, even a little one. The obvious comparison is to the Sig Sauer 238, Sig's single action .380, or the Kimber Micro, although the 238 and the Micro are a bit smaller than the Baby Rock.

I'll take it out to the range tomorrow!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Playing Hooky

Yes, I've been missing in action here at the blog. As you probably figured from the various men of mayhem photos, we've been doing scenarios for THE BEST DEFENSE. I've been beaten to death on a park bench and had my throat slit on an airplane…I think death becomes me.

I went from TBD scenarios to filming Gabe Suarez' red-dot pistol class for SHOOTING GALLERY. I must say this class was a notch or two above excellent — intense, innovative, focused, comprehensive and fun. I think you're all going to be very impressed! More about the class on this week's DOWN RANGE Radio podcast.

I'll try to be a more regular puppy this addition to some writing, I have at CT scan on the knee and consultation with the surgeon...oh, frabjous day...callou...callay...or whatever. I have some gun plans, too, but who knows how that will turn out.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Monday, September 07, 2015

Happy Labor Day!

Enjoy the potato salad, baked beans and ribs on the Barbie, as it were.

We have people visiting, so I've been largely absent from the computer. One a little shooting, and all in all it's been a fun break.

Back in the saddle again next week, when me and the Mikes are going to hijack an airplane. Not only darn good fun, but an exercise in reponse to a violent attacks in constrained spaces.

Surprisingly, I got some negative response after mentioning USPSA has added a new provisional division, essentially Production with a red dot optic. I thought this was a great fact, I had sorta lobbied IDPA to do exactly the same thing before they opted for their new Compact Carry Division.

The criticism was that USPSA had too many divisions as it is, and adding a new one further dilutes the competition. A fair point, to be sure, but that has always been a criticism of USPSA. Here's some of the comments on Brian Enos' forums.

Kevin from Misfires and Light Strikes correctly (I think) noted that:
It's interesting, though, that USPSA/IDPA are catching up with the realities of the concealed carry/tactical world, rather than the tactical world taking their cues from the competition world. Which speaks volumes about how practical shooting organizations have kept pace with today's shooting culture.
I think it takes us back to the fact that both USPSA and IDPA are what I think of as mature sports, with very dedicated and vocal "installed bases." I guess the closest analogy I can think of off the top of my head is image the differences between golf and frisbee golf. I suspect (but don't know) that you might have a greater chance of influencing the direction of the sport if you're paling frisbee golf rather than the stick and ball version. Frisbee golf is still an evolving sport, while Big Ball Golf doesn't give a damn what you think about the specifications on club design. Golf is mature; frisbee golf is still getting there.

Maturation tends to bring a calcification to rulesets, which are aimed at retaining and pleasing the status quo. The installed base, after all, has spent a sizable amount of money and time accumulating the gear that has been developed to specifically meet large and small needs of the specified division. Part of the maturation process is a steady refinement of rules, that is, the elimination of questions, uncertainties, ambiguities, etc. As the rules become more specific and fixed,  the gear designed to meet those rules becomes more specific and specialized. The more specialized the equipment becomes, the less suited it is for anything other than the specific niche within the sport. The less suited the gear becomes for activities outside the sport's specific niche and the greater the pressure from the participant to not change the rules.

I think this is neither good nor bad, just the Way of Things. Even in sports where we specifically sought to minimize this evolution — think Rimfire Challenge — we weren't able to stop it. There's a second evolutionary pressure on participant sports, and that is the previously identified tendency of the sport to move in the direction of what the sport's top athletes do best. Sports are also showcases for the participants, and — surprise surprise — the participants want to look good doing it. If you're designing matches, you're competing for a limited leisure time/dollar resource. So how do you choose to design your match? You see the more egregious example of this in Cowboy Action Shooting. where as the sport evolved to pure speed, the targets got bigger and bigger and closer and closer to the point where many shooters complain about "long distance" targets set at 12 yards.

Anyway, just some pondering. I was talking to a top shooter recently who opined that he was at a complete loss to understand the concept of classes and division; rather, the only thing that made sense to him was shooting "straight up," everybody shoots in a single division and there is a single list of scores. The winner is the person whose name appears first on that list.

Friday, September 04, 2015

The Friday Before Labor Day

I think I'm having a "can't cope" attack. I've forgotten how much I hate dealing with doctors, hospitals and such, which actually makes me a lucky person since I haven't had to do it very much.

I think it's great that USPSA has created a new division, Carry Optics.  I believe this is absolutely the right time for this division, as self-defense handguns will be moving more and more toward red dot optics, and I applaud USPSA Prez Phil Strader's actions in using it forward.

I will definitely be shooting this division, probably initially with a G19/RMR set-up, but my goal is to move to a Sig Sauer 320 Carry, also with an RMR...that's a little ways down the line. I want to talk to Sigmeister Bruce Gray about the plan before I go forward. There's a couple of other options to consider as well.

I'ms also talking to Eric Galloway about a red dot install on my Kahr's a pix of the Galloway mount on a CM-9:

Another option I'm looking at are the new generation Gen2 Premium TP-9s that come optic-ready with high sights from Kahr. The TP9s are awesome pistols, slightly shorter than a G19, a wee bit longer in the butt and lighter.:

Thursday, September 03, 2015

…And a Few Additional Thoughts

…police all across the country are going to be very tense, so when you as a concealed weapon or an open weapon carrier interface with law enforcement officers, you need to be 100% on your game. That means under no circumstances are you going to make any "motions consistent with drawing a handgun." Hands in full sight, I suggest palms turned out. If you have a concealed weapon, UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES do you pull open your jacket or pull up your shirt to reveal the concealed weapon except under the specific orders of the LEO!

If you are involved in a shooting situation, I suggest that you consider NOT reholstering. The danger in reholstering, as we've shown on TBD, is that when the LEOs arrive there's a chance that, with all the shouting that I guarantee is going to be happening — especially, "WHERE IS THE GUN!" — you might quickly pull back your jacket or shirt to show the police where the gun is…"motion consistent with drawing a handgun." Keep the gun in your hand until you hear the sirens or you are very clear that the arrival of the police is imminent…then place the gun on a table or chair, or on the ground in front of you. Immediately point out the gun to the arriving cops, then keep your hands visible, palms out.

Yes, this is paranoia…but my job is to help you guys stay alive!

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Some Thoughts and a Warning

Graffiti seen in Houston…

Violent crime is soaring and it has become crazy dangerous to be a cop.

I talk about this newer, more dangerous landscape on this week's DOWN RANGE Radio podcast, but some of the points need to be reiterated here.

We tend to lump "awareness and avoidance" together, often as one single word, "awarenessavoidance," but our focus is usually on the "situational awareness" side of the equation. We've talked about that a lot lately, but I think the times calls for more focus on the "avoidance" side of the equation.

As I talked about in TRAIL SAFE, the best solution for you and violent crime is for you not to be there; to put it bluntly, let the crime happen to someone else who hasn't been paying attention. The big problem with avoidance, especially among men, is that it is sometimes seen as a capitulation,  letting the bad guys control your life. "Are you telling me that I should let a bunch of thugs tell me where I can or cannot go? Where I can or cannot eat? Where I can or cannot drive? Hey buddy, it's a free country!"

The example I use in TRAIL SAFE is of a scene I saw years back when I was in Joshua Tree in California rock climbing. The sun had already set, and as I was on my way out I passed a designated campground. On one side of the campground was several car-loads of LA gangbangers, in full colors, riotously dancing around a huge and probably illegal bonfire, passing bottles, breaking off into scuffles.

On the other side of the campground, about 50 feet away, was a very grim elderly couple outside of a small tent camper, cooking tiny on a tiny camp stove while watching nervously as their campmates got louder and more violent.

My point? Did the elderly couple have every right in the world to be in that campground.? Absolutely! Can a few carloads of LA 'bangers turn your life into a living hell? Absolutely! Is that risk worth it to make your point?

When I was a professional speaker (such as I was), I suggested to my audiences that one of the way to think about "taking a stand" on something was to ask yourself whether you are willing to die for that stand. If the answer is no, the temperature of the water of the water cooler isn't sufficient grounds for one to go all John Wayne, then maybe there were better ways to address the issue from the very beginning, ways that you never saw because you were spinning up to make that big "stand."

And the campsite...stay or go? Well, that is purely your decision. Me, I don't believe in walking into fans unless I absolutely have to. There are lots of campsites in Joshua Tree. I think more importantly we need to make some hard decisions about how we are going to get through the new altered world, which show every sign of getting worse before (or if) it gets better. In TRAIL SAFE I made a point of saying that none of us need to go out looking for High Noon.

The noonday train may indeed bring Frank Miller, and each of us may indeed have to walk alone down that dusty street. Don't worry, it'll find you, and when you least expect it. But in uncertain times like these, it makes sense to as much as possible arrange our lives to minimize risk. Of course, everyone's situation is going to be different. Example...I don't have kids and would rather stick my hand into a blender than go to a mall, so that's an easy one for me.

But think through the places you need to go, and seriously ask yourself if there are lower risk options.  It many cases, we're talking about small things here...keep your car gassed up, so you won't find yourself looking for the proverbial all night gas station in the wrong part of town. Pay attention to the routes you take to and from work, recreation, etc. In strange cities, where I am a lot, I like big highways and 4-lane streets...I don't take shortcuts. I might do a "drive-by" of, say, a restaurant that's been suggested to me in a new city before I hope out of the car and walk in. And yes, I've based on more than a couple of places.

Be willing to listen to local advice. I am reminded of one Saturday night in LA when I offered to buy my clients a nice sushi dinner, listing a sushi place I just read about. One of my clients, who'd been a cop, said, "Dude, you might want to rethink that...the block that restaurant sits on just became a contested zone between a Crip set and a Blood set." We had Vietnamese lobster instead. I think of it as listening to the "jungle drums." Pay attention! It's better to have delivered pizza in your hotel room than becoming the latest mugging statistic on that trendy downtown mall!

 I can't state John Farnam's dictum too many times: "Don't go stupid places. Don't hang out with stupid people. Don't do stupid things."

I avoid large groups of people like the plague.  This comes from having spent a lot of time in major urban riots as a journalist back in the day. I've been tear-gassed, pepper-sprayed, beaten, dragged off to jail and and shaken in my boots looking down the barrels of great big guns, but that was back when someone was paying to be there. These days, I remember the lessons I learned...the difference between "angry crowd" and "riot" is plus-or-minus about millisecond...once the first rock is thrown, everyone is in the soup...there are no "bystanders" once the balloon goes up (e.g., if you want to watch the riot, watch it safe at home on television as opposed to making it a day trip).

Crowds have their own minds and tend to lose that mind very quickly. I prefer not to be in the middle of the crowd when that happens. If you must be in a crowd, keep near the edges and make sure you have your exit strategy planned. And do not hesitate to leave the scene! Always err on the side of caution, especially if you're armed...and you are armed, aren't you?

I don't like walking through even small groups of only takes a moment to walk around said group, and I don't put myself into a potential s$%t sandwich. Trust your gut here. It's probably worth going back and reading de Becker's The Gift of Fear. I don't agree with everything in the book, but by all means absorb what is useful. If you haven't read Rory Miller's Facing Violence: Preparing for the Unexpected, now would be a good time to correct that error.

In truth, the world is not a safe place, and it doesn't give a damn whether you live or die. That decision depends on you.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Tequila Tuesday...

…after getting the reports on the MRI on my knee, I decided Tuesday was Tequila Tuesday! Cuidado Tequila Blanco, distributed by Denver's Mile High Distillery and billed as the best tequila in the world (which is kinda a reach…sorry), Patron Orange Liqueur, and fresh lemon juice. Astringent, but perfect with flash grilled mahi dusted with New Mexico red chili powder and local green beans with lemon butter. Timed everything out perfectly, and dinner was excellent.

Did decide not to spend the afternoon at the range, but will do so tomorrow, running the G19 with the RMR to start tuning up for that episode of SHOOTING GALLERY.

The MRI? The short story is my knee is slagged — "repetitive use athletic injury" — in short, the marathons, ultras, triathlons and jumping out of perfectly good airplanes and off perfectly stable mountains has come home to roost. Well, it was never going to be free, was it? Have to get at CT scan to see if we can "resurface" the knee rather than replace it. Fingers crossed here. But 2 things are certain…I'll do Noveske again next year and do better, and somewhere in Canada there's a caribou with my name on him.