How do you gain knowledge?

In a past post, I talked fairly bluntly about how if you don’t have any education, training, or experience in a technical area, you don’t really have a right to an opinion in that technical area.

Unsurprisingly in this time of “everyone is equal and their thoughts are all equally valid, even if they are clueless,” lots of people grew angry about the idea.  It probably would have gone better had if I said it differently, but what I was REALLY thinking was “…your opinion is worthless.”

And I wasn’t wrong.

So how do you get to a point where your opinion is valid in a technical area such as self-defense?  Answer:  Education, training, or experience. (And preferably, all three.)

Let’s start with education (this will be the first in a set of three posts). Continue reading

Would you teach the class differently…

A couple of years ago, an acquaintance of mine put up on Facebook a question about “As a firearms/self-defense trainer who teaches courses, if someone came to you knowing (for certain) that they’d have to use their firearm as a lethal-force response to a self-defense threat tomorrow, would you teach them any differently?”

I said:  “Of course I would!”

Whereupon I got jumped all over by lots of people who claimed that as firearms instructors, their classes were all completely focused on teaching REAL self-defense, and that if I had to change my class, it was an indicator that my class just wasn’t very good.

Which just goes to show that like any other group of people, “firearms instructors” contains all kinds, a significant proportion of which are idiots who have no idea what they are talking about.

Why am I right and they were idiots? Continue reading

Ralph Mroz liked my article!

Ralph Mroz liked my article about expertise, where I discussed some of the things Tom Givens said about who is qualified to have an opinion in a technical field.

https://thestreetstandards.wordpress.com/2016/05/21/what-are-appropriate-credentials-for-instructors/

…and he and Tom Givens made some interesting comments as followups, too.    In particular the important question: “What constitutes “experience” in a civilian context?”

This is one of the things that I’ve talked about before, regarding military or law enforcement “experience” when talking about people who are qualified to teach citizen CCW courses–which Tom Givens discussed also, and I mentioned in my original article. Continue reading

What makes an expert?

(Third in the series about thoughts spawned by attending the Rangemaster Instructor Development Class with Tom Givens.  The first time, the post was about something that hadn’t occurred to me.  The second time, it was about something I already knew, explained in a different fashion.  This time, it is about something that annoys me greatly on pretty much a weekly basis.)


“He’s a great self-defense instructor, he learned it in the military!”

“That firearms group is the best for CCW training, because they all have law enforcement experience.  That guy TEACHES other cops!”

“He has 25 years of firearms experience–he knows what he is talking about!”


The first two statements above are flat-out wrong.  The third is a non sequitur.

And yet, people KEEP saying things like that. Continue reading

Why don’t you charge more?

I posted a depressed comment on Facebook yesterday:
“I need to start charging over a hundred dollars for a half-day seminar. Apparently.
This explains why I’m poor!”

A couple of my friends replied:
Why don’t you charge more?
Do you think aren’t worth more? Or do prefer to be the better value?

My reply:

Truth? I think that my combination of training, experience, and practice in armed and unarmed self-defense plus the fact that I’ve actually been researching this topic (instead of depending on anecdotal evidence) means that my training is worth quite a lot (especially in self-defense classes)—and not only more than I’ve been charging, but much more than a lot of the crap that is taught around here by people who are teaching based on their background and experience, which doesn’t actually match the topics that they are teaching.* Continue reading

Is the New York Reload faster?

I was recently in a firearms class when the instructor, in the middle of demonstrating a drill involving reloads, suddenly dropped his gun, dropped to a knee, pulled a j-frame revolver out of an ankle holster, and engaged the target.  When he stood up he grinned and said “And when you want a REALLY FAST reload, you simply grab another gun.”

That got me thinking, because up until that point in time I had simply gone along with the assumption:  New Gun = Faster.   Don’t have to drop the mag and find a new one and insert the new one and then shoot–just hit that New York Reload (for those new to firearms, a “New York Reload” is simply pulling another gun) and life is good.

Of course, it could be better.

BostonReloadBut….is that really true?  Are New York reloads (NYR) actually faster?

Watching the instructor pull his backup gun (BUG), I really wondered—because here was a skilled, experienced instructor whom I respected, and it took probably a little over 2 seconds from shot to shot between the old gun and the new gun–and he knew when the old gun was going to go dry so it wasn’t a surprise.  Sure, plenty of people don’t have 2-second reloads.  But…most people don’t have 2-second draws from BUG positions, either…

So are NYRs normally faster than standard reloads?

I thought I’d find out, or at least get one comparative data set.  In my case, instead of drawing a small backup gun from a ankle holster or some other place equally difficult to reach, I used a G19 from an IWB holster carried strong side behind the hip as the BUG.  My normal carry is a G17 in an AIWB holster, so I went from my normal carry gun as the primary, to a “BUG” that was a common primary carry pistol using a normal primary draw type for most people who carry.

In other words, I’m giving the NYR the maximum chance to be fast, by making it an easy gun to draw and shoot, and doing so from the place where most people carry their primary.

Contrasting this, I’ll be performing a normal reload-to-shot from my standard extra magazine carry position.

Here’s what happened:

There just doesn’t seem to be that much difference in time.  If I was drawing a j-frame from an ankle holster, it would have been even slower.

…I’m just not seeing much in the way of saved time here, using a New York reload.

Now, no matter what else is true, there are some useful things specific to each type of “reload”:

New York Reload Advantages:

  • If your primary has an unfixable malfunction (at least, unfixable within a useful time frame) the NYR is obviously going to work best.
  • If your primary is taken, lost, or unavailable due to position, then the NYR is obviously going to work best.

Standard Reload Advantages:

  • You aren’t reloading to a smaller gun that is harder to shoot well.
  • You are reloading to another full magazine of ammunition, instead of a 5-shot snubbie or something similar.  (If you shot so much that the gun went empty once, the idea of now only having 5 rounds doesn’t sound good…)
  • You don’t have to reach to draw from a non-primary position.  Example:  You can’t draw from an ankle holster if you are trying to run for cover.  Or run anywhere.  Many backup guns are holstered in unobtrusive (meaning:  slower to draw from and harder to get to) positions, making them harder (and slower) to access.

So ignoring the time differences, there are some potential cases when the New York Reload is the only one that will get you a working gun.  In others, the standard reload is the only one that will make it happen.

Best choice?  Obviously having both an extra magazine and a backup gun to cover all the bases.

That being said–there just doesn’t seem to be much of a time difference between the two “reloads” when going from shot to shot.  And in my case, my standard reloads are actually probably going to be faster than any backup gun that I’d actually carry.*

 

 

 

*Obviously this sample is one case, based on one set of guns/holsters, done by one person.  If your reloads suck worse than mine, maybe the BUG will be faster.  If you can’t hit anything at speed with a tiny gun past 3 yards, maybe the standard reload will be best for you.  But….that difference isn’t a function of the method, that’s a function of shooter skill.  From the viewpoint of method, there just doesn’t seem to be as much of a time difference as many people might think—especially if someone is drawing a tiny BUG from deep cover.

Crime definitions you should think about…

I took the Rangemaster Instructor Development Course with Tom Givens just the other weekend. For the most part, it pretty much validated for me (using actual research data) the training priorities I teach with respect to citizen self-defense—which made me happy, because if I am teaching people to defend themselves, it is important I’m doing it right.  If I do it wrong, it can literally get people killed.

So yeah—a good presentation (from the holster) is important, point-shooting is stupid as using the sights can be done and WILL make a difference, shooting on the move, using cover, and having flashlights might be useful but almost never are even remotely necessary in a self-defense situation and as priorities fall far far far far far behind 1) having a gun, 2) being able to get it out quickly, and 3) being able to get multiple shots on target quickly.

….and what a surprise, citizen self-defense data, FBI agent data, and DEA agent data all support this.

Unsurprisingly, the class also gave me a number of things to think about, mostly about new ways to present things I already teach which makes sense as it was what the class was about.

However, occasionally there was something in the class that REALLY struck me.  As such, over the next couple of months, I’ll be writing some articles about some things that perhaps you haven’t thought about–and should, if you think that it is important that you be prepared to defend yourself.

Here’s the first:

When is the last time you heard someone being charged with attempted murder?  Never, right?  Why is that?

Because to convict on that, you have to prove intent to kill. And intent is tough.

So instead, what gets charged for the exact same situation?  Aggravated assault.

Here’s the thing–because of the wording, most of us think of “aggravated assault” as a slightly-more-serious version of “assault.”  But here’s the actual legal definition (wording may change slightly per jurisdiction, but it’ll still mean this) according to the FBI:

Aggravated assault—An unlawful attack by one person upon another for the purpose of inflicting severe or aggravated bodily injury. This type of assault usually is accompanied by the use of a weapon or by means likely to produce death or great bodily harm. Simple assaults are excluded.

Note the important phrase:  “…means likely to produce death or great bodily harm.”

That’s attempted murder.  However, since “intent to kill” is not part of the definition, it is easier to get a conviction on an aggravated assault charge.

Why is this important?  Because from a self-defense perspective, the criminal was trying to kill someone–or at the very least, knew what they were doing could kill someone else and didn’t care if it happened.

So when you look at crime statistics and think about homicides, you should probably actually add the “aggravated assault” category AND the homicide category together—because in both cases, the victim could have gotten killed.  In the aggravated assault cases, the criminal was just incompetent, or the victim got lucky.

In Omaha in 2012, there were 41 criminal homicides.  Sounds scary, but not a large number.  However, there were also 1442 aggravated assaults in the same year and every single one of those could have ended up a criminal homicide if the criminal had been even a little less incompetent, or the victim a little less lucky.

That we know of, criminals tried to kill someone else one thousand four hundred and eighty-three times in Omaha in 2012.

That’s a number you need to think about.

(In Lincoln criminals tried to kill someone six hundred and seventy one times in 2012.  And just so you know, in both Omaha and Lincoln, aggravated assaults were reported several times more often than robberies.  Yes, criminals doing something to kill you happens more often than criminals trying to rob you.  In Lincoln, 3.4 times as often.  In Omaha, 1.8 times as often.)

Source for violent crime stats:  FBI UCR Data-Reporting Tool