Recently I was watching the local news, something I don’t do much of for various reasons. However, this night I was contacted by a friend who told me to turn the channel in order to watch a news clip that was about to air. When I turned the channel I found a news clip on Q13 Fox in regards to Seattle citizens concerned for their safety and that of the community due to a recent up tick in violent crime. As the community leaders and neighbors met to discuss the problem, the idea of cameras was introduced in an effort to keep the citizens of that community safe. There is on going debate in regards to the legality of the cameras and a further invasion of privacy by Big Brother. However, while they continue to debate the legalities and opinions in regards to the placement of the cameras nothing is being done to actually further enhance the safety of those who live in those areas or anywhere in general.
In many instances we have become a society who is willingly dependent on others for our safety, security and well being. A growing number of our society are looking for easy hand outs, for all the reward without the risk. We are slowly giving away our individualism for some collective good in hopes that we will never have to suffer the pains of making our own way in this world. We would rather look to government or social justice groups to take care of us and help to ensure a life without conflict. This, however, is not reality.
In regards to the cameras specifically, they will not help you to be safer while walking down the street. They will not stop you from being mugged, raped or murdered. They are a band-aid to a much larger problem. How many years have cameras been around? In how many local gas stations, ATM’s, banks, grocery stores, businesses and even police cars are cameras set up to monitor criminal activity? Thousands, millions? How many countless hours of footage have been recorded by these cameras? In one instance can you name for me a time when someone was saved from violence because a camera was installed?
If we use the theory that placing cameras on light poles keep us safer then no police officer should have ever been shot and killed during a traffic stop, right? However, in this Youtube video (WARNING: Graphic) that is widely used and played amongst law enforcement trainers you can CLEARLY see that the camera does nothing to help the officer win this fight and return home to his family. Ya, but that’s police officers. That stuff is supposed to happen to them, right? Well, how about here in this Youtube clip of a Target parking lot when a girl is abducted in broad daylight. Again, please point out the instant the camera steps in and saves this girl from the abduction, a potential pending rape and murder? Oh wait, it doesn’t?
Approximately 13 years ago I was at a Law Enforcement training event for teenagers who were interested in becoming police officers. The officer teaching the class asked the group what the most important thing an officer carried with him/her was. The most obvious answered it seemed to most was the officers firearm. The instructor said, “Nope, more important than your firearm….your radio.” When he said this, I didn’t argue but immediately felt very uneasy about not only this guys answer but his mental state. His reasoning was that if and when you were being attacked you could just simply get on the radio, yell and scream and soon all of your friends will magically appear and rescue you from pending hospitalization and/or death. The problem is, again, this is not reality. I could keep showing clip after clip of officers yelling into their radio for help while being attacked and in all of those videos you will not see help mysteriously appear.
YOU!!! You are the weapon, you are the only thing right now that will come to your aid, to assist you in this time of need. No camera will come to your rescue. Many times other citizens will not come to your rescue as seen in the previous abduction clip above and as demonstrated in previous Facebook posts we have posted. There is no one who cares more for you and your survival than you do. Bear this always in mind. There is a time and a place where 911 should be called and where these video cameras will come in handy. But not at the moment of truth, not when the safety of you and your family is on the line. Let the video be one thing and one thing only, a lesson to all those who are watching who would wish to inflict violence upon another member of society. That what happened here may happen to you also. That the good men and women of our communities will not sit idly by while you terrorize our neighborhoods, our schools, our churches and our public domains.
May this never be you! Commit right now that your child or family member will never have to experience the loss of you because you chose to rely on cameras, government or other mystical creations and people for your safety and security.
Train Hard – Fight Easy
Just like in many markets there is a wide array of opinions and viewpoints when it comes to which gun is the best and which one you should buy to defend yourself with. Over the years I have heard many “experts” at gun shows, gun stores, at the range and in open discussion quick to provide their ‘professional’ opinion to the unknowing masses. Many of these so-called experts have no real training or experience behind their opinion nor have they ever had to use a firearm for anything other than to shoot a piece of paper. Their expertise lies in whatever was said in the latest article they read in Guns and Ammo or other such publication. Or, they have based their opinion on a movie they saw about Navy SEALS or some lone commando like Rambo or James Bond. These guys are quick to spot and are quick to flood the market with their opinions.
Today I am specifically going to address firearms purchased for personal protection and most often carried concealed about your person. If I were to delve into other areas of firearm ownership and suitability I would eat up too much of your time.
First and foremost, PLEASE do not purchase a firearm or more importantly carry one if you are not willing, capable and competent to use it in a true life and death encounter. One of my favorite quotes is by Col. Jeff Cooper, founder of Gunsite Training Center. “You are no more armed because you have a firearm than you are a pianist because you sit behind a piano.” Simply having a gun by your side does you no good if you can’t use it when truly needed.
Now, in regards to the actual firearm, here are a few things to consider; size, weight, caliber, recoil management, reliability, comfortable and concealable.
First, the size and weight of the gun is going to matter to you pretty quickly once you start carrying it on a daily basis. If the gun is too big and bulky you will quickly determine that the extra weight on your hip (or wherever you decide to carry it) is not worth the cost/benefit analysis. Carrying a gun concealed on a daily basis is a lifestyle choice. You will potentially have to start dressing a little differently in order to now accommodate wearing the gun on your hip and out of view of the general public. If the gun is too large for you and weighs you down too much you will soon find the gun in your sock drawer and not there when you need it.
Second, caliber. I first started reading any gun magazine I could get my hands on when I was about 14 years old. I can remember the cover of one them, “9 vs. 45”. The author talked about some of the pros and cons to each caliber but in the end never provided the reader an answer of which was better. Eighteen years later, currently sitting on the same magazine rack, there are endless articles that still debate the caliber issue. Needless to say, we are never going to agree and as long as people are paying for articles like these authors will keep writing them.
So, what caliber is right for you? Let’s clear one thing up right now. There is no “one-shot stop” round out there. Granted, there are calibers out there that do a much better job at stopping an attacker right now but it wasn’t so much the caliber that caused the attacker to stop, it was the placement of the round. I’ve seen a man shot with .40 caliber round that never lost consciousness, was never ‘incapacitated’ nor did he seem too worried that he was shot. Why? Besides a few other factors…he was shot in the shoulder and the round did not hit or damage anything vital. On the flip side, I’ve seen gangbangers shot dead instantly with a .25 caliber Saturday Night Special. Why the difference? The gangbanger was shot in the heart. Often times ER Surgeons cannot tell the difference in caliber size when dealing with gunshot victims. Ultimately, there is no massive variance in the damage done to the human body when shot with a pistol caliber round.
So, with that in mind, caliber is somewhat person specific. In my opinion, and that of many other instructors, you should carry the biggest, fastest caliber you personally can that you can control with minimal effort. So, for the 5’ – 6”, 120 lbs female is the .45 really the best? Or will she be much more comfortable and able to handle a 9mm or a .380? She will gain more rounds in the gun to help off-set the lack of size of the projectile shot at her attacker thereby potentially giving her more chances of hitting something vital. Also, by carrying and shooting a smaller
caliber her ability to manage recoil is greater. There’s no point in carrying a bigger, faster round if you will only get one round off because the recoil of the larger caliber is too great.
Third, reliability! This is almost King when it comes to making a decision to purchase a firearm. There is no point in carrying a gun when if at the moment of truth it malfunctions on you. There are many firearms out there that are notorious for being unreliable and there are firearms out there that have proven themselves over and over in testing and in real life to be utterly reliable (Glock for example). When you’ve made your decision on which gun to buy and carry you need to take it to the range to one; get it broken in (yes, many guns have a break in period-usually around 500 rounds) and two to shoot through it the same rounds you plan on carrying for defensive purposes. There are guns out there that will eat up FMJ practice rounds but then become very picky on what they will cycle when fed Hollow Point defensive ammunition. If your gun will not cycle Speer Gold Dot but it will reliably cycle Winchester Supreme Elite, wouldn’t you want to find this out at the range vs. the street?
Lastly, comfortable and concealable. If the gun is not comfortable in your hand and on your hip how long do you think you will actually shoot it and train with it much less carry it on a daily basis? Again, quickly this will become a sock drawer gun and it won’t be there when you need it at the mall when a shooting breaks out. If the gun does not conceal well then you will most likely end up having to wear larger, bulkier clothing. Something you may not want to do based on where you’re going, what you’re doing or the weather. There are many holsters out there, some that do much better than others in this area but often times the size of the gun is the biggest factor.
If you’re thinking about buying a gun for this purpose, do yourself a favor and ask around. See what your friends are carrying and why. Find local cops who are willing to talk to you and offer their advice. Most importantly, spend an afternoon at the local gun range where you can rent various guns of size/shape and caliber. Make an informed decision so that in 6 months you aren’t regretting picking up the gun that was on the cover of American Handgunner only to realize it does not fit your needs.
Train Hard – Fight Easy
On October 16th, 2011 at 4:30 AM my doorbell rang. Gideon, my 7 year old German Shepherd, was the first to greet the two men at the door with his hackles up and a fierce bark that let everyone in the house know that something was out of the ordinary. Knowing that Gideon only goes crazy like this when there is someone along the perimeter of our house I was quick to jump out of bed and handle whatever situation was about to present itself. However, I wasn’t ready for this.
On the front porch, through the window at the side of the door, I could see the on duty police sergeant standing there. I thought at first that maybe my car had been broken into and the sergeant was nice enough to wake me in order to come deal with securing my vehicle and getting it fixed. As I neared the door I could see that there was a second person standing at my front door. The city chaplain.
Still in a haze from being awoke from a deep sleep I was now confused. I knew something horrible had probably happened and that it probably happened to one of the guys at work. I was trying to force myself to wake up quicker and start thinking more clearly. I was confused as to why they couldn’t wait until I arrived to work in the next hour to start my shift for them to tell me the likely horrible news.
The chaplain, a friend of mine, physically escorted me into my house and sat me down on the couch. By this time my wife was coming downstairs and wondering why people were now coming into the house at such an odd hour. The chaplain sat me down on the couch, held my hand and looked me in the eyes. His eyes were teary and he softly said, “I’m so sorry…..your brother Cameron was killed in a car accident last night.”
I was frozen. I just sat there staring at the floor while the chaplain continued to try and provide me with some of the details that were known at the time regarding the accident. Cameron had only been dead for four hours at this point and nobody really knew what had happened. At that point, I didn’t really care. Details or no details my brother was gone.
My next two weeks were a blur. Friends and support began pouring in from all directions. Cameron’s death was a big deal, not only to our family but to our surrounding community. Cameron was appointed by his Seattle University teammates as their Captain and immediately after his death a few of them were interviewed by local media and were given a chance to explain to tens of thousands of people how special Cameron was.
Just over two months have now passed and I have watched as friends and family have grieved the loss of a friend, son and brother. There have been moments where I have been angry and want to find Cameron in order to tell him, “You owe it to us to continue to live, to be an uncle to your niece, to be the rock of support you’ve always been for friends and family, to continue to experience the joys and pains of life with us, you owe it to us.” The pain and hurt we are all experiencing, at times, is unbearable.
In the end, Cameron (22 years old) led a rich and full life. Roughly 1,500 people attended his funeral….yes…1,500 people. Cameron died through no fault of his own. From all plausible accounts at this point it appears that after coming home around midnight from a friend’s wedding he swerved to avoid an animal in the roadway, lost control of his vehicle and ran into a tree dying instantly.
I have had a lot of time to reflect on life and have now seen up close and personal the amount of pain left behind when someone so young and depended upon dies without warning. In Cameron’s death I quickly saw how important your life is.
I say all of that to say this…you owe it to your family to live a long and full life. You owe it to them to train and to be the most competent Sheepdog you can be. Often times we forego training (in all areas or just our weak ones) because we get busy with life and to some extent we get lulled into a false sense of reality. The “it won’t happen to me or my family” syndrome at varying levels is something that most all of us struggle with and something we need to avoid.
I will leave you with this; What is the one thing you live for the most? What is the one thing that if conjured up in your mind would cause you to commit all sorts of violence (justified of course) in order to survive a life and death encounter? I’ll tell you what it is for me; my daughter. I owe it to her to train and to become the most proficient protector of my life and hers so that no matter what may come our way I will be around for many years to come in order to raise her, teach her and guide her as a father should.
When I train and things get hard this is my mental image: I’ve been bloodied and beaten. I’ve been knocked down and feel like quitting and just giving up. I look over to see that my daughter is witnessing this. She’s screaming and crying, “Daddy, get up…get up daddy…I need you.” This is all the motivation I need.
Yours is probably different but the end result is the same; a dedication and commitment to training in order to see whatever violence you encounter through until the end so that you can return home to your loved ones and continue to live a long and full life.
As for Cameron, his death was an accident and somewhat out of his control. In due time we will see him again but until then we owe it to each other to ensure to the best of our abilities we will be around for a long, long time.
Train Hard – Fight Easy
“Skill at arms men”, over and over this was repeated. It was drilled into us and spoken over us like a father to his children trying to raise them in the way they should go. But skill at arms goes further than your ability to deploy a weapon be it pistol, urban rifle or sniper rifle and wield it effectively in training, competition or the day you are tested with lethal force by someone intent on taking your life.
Skill at arms also references your ability to defend yourself in hand to hand combat. Not every encounter with violence is a lethal force encounter allowing you to draw a firearm and start shooting. Yes, the argument can be made that “every encounter is a lethal force encounter…what if I get punched in the face, fall to the ground, hit my head and end up dying because of the blunt force trauma to my skull?” Has this happened? Yes. Does this then give you carte blanche authority to immediately jump to lethal force when presented with a fist because the small possibility exists that you could die from a punch to the face? No. Look into and study your local laws and ordinances. Pay attention when another citizen in your community is arrested and charged with murder or manslaughter. Pay attention to the details of the case and especially the legal viewpoint of the prosecution. You may soon realize that more is at stake for you if you resort to a firearm too quickly.
Since the creation of man the ability to defend ones self has been of vital importance. Today is no different. Though we live in a day and an age when your ability to summon aid or the police is easier than ever before the problem is they are always late. The police are always responding to a call for service or to a situation that has already occurred. Depending on your city makeup the police may be either just a few minutes away or 30 minutes or more away. However, they are not there when the attack or assault is initiated.
One of my favorite quotes comes from Jeff Cooper in his book “To Ride, Shoot Straight and Speak the Truth” (p. 48). “Let us agree on one major point right here. The police cannot protect you in your home. If Goblins break in upon you the police should be called – as soon as you get around to it – in order to write reports and clean up the mess. But the Goblins are your problem. Keep that always in mind.”
You need to train and to be trained. The mantle of the Sheepdog is heavy and comes with great responsibility. In addition to your physical training you need the mental resolve to, if necessary, act with speed, precision and aggression. You should be able to control the fight from beginning to end. There should be no place that is foreign to you whether it be the initial ‘interview’ (the initial contact with the bad guy where he is sizing you up and deciding whether or not the risk vs. reward is worth it for him to initiate an assault), first contact, on the feet or to the ground.
“Train Hard – Fight Easy”
Several years ago as our lead SWAT Commander was rotating out and a new Commander was preparing to take over we held a banquet for the team,during which we had a pseudo changing of the guard ceremony where our Commander was presented with a gift from the team and given the opportunity to leave us with any last words.
“Skill at Arms men” was what he left us with. I’ve had a passion for self defense and protection of the defenseless from an early age. I’ve always worked hard at trying to better myself in preparation for the day when my skill level was put to the test and meant life or death for me or someone else.
What my Commander left our team with, “Skill at Arms” has been the mantra repeated over and over in my head for the last several years. For me, these three simple words sum up what years of training and experience have taught me. My book shelves (yes, plural) are over flowing with books, DVD’s, VHS tapes and CD’s that cover a wide array of topics related to self defense, concealed carry, competitive shooting, leadership and martial arts to name a few. To me, “Skill at Arms” nicely and neatly sums them all up.
If you are reading this, my assumption is that you too are a Sheep Dog and that you are seeking new and more efficient ways of handling yourself during a violent encounter. My goal is not to stand on top of the mountain and say “Look at me”, my goal is to point you in the right direction and allow you to find your own path to the top of the mountain.
Let’s look at Skill at Arms as it relates to firearms real quick. Colonel Jeff Cooper is quoted as saying that “One is no more armed because he carries a pistol than he is a pianist because he sits down at a piano.” What’s he saying? How many people do you know that own firearms; say for home protection or who may carry them on a daily basis for personal protection but have never taken any type of tactical course to learn how to use that particular firearm during a violent encounter or under a modicum of stress? Or, maybe they have taken a class but it was 10 years ago when they first bought the gun but haven’t been to the range since then? Skill at arms is a perishable skill and something that needs to be continuously honed and sharpened.
I know many people who carry guns on a daily basis, whether it be for work or personal protection that may understand the basic principles of marksmanship and how the gun functions but as soon as they are forced to use that firearm under any amount of stress their knowledge and skill level, or lack thereof, is clearly and plainly demonstrated. They have not pushed themselves to the point that they can enter a state of mind often referred to as “Mushin” by the Japanese warrior and often translated in English as “No mind”.
Samurai warriors would train and train and train until they reached this mental state. During combat they were not focused on how to pull their sword, how to hold it properly when preparing to attack or defend or how to position the sword at the proper angle as they struck their enemy. This portion of their battle was ‘thoughtless’, it just came out of them as their preparation with that weapon had been taken to such high levels during training that the battle was just another day in the dojo or the training field.
When I teach firearms courses I always stress the need to have such an intimate understanding of your particular firearm that you can operate it under extreme stress. That your familiarity with and your ability to run your gun are just an extension of who you are as a warrior. In the middle of a gun fight or attack you do not have time to spend a majority of your thought process on how to unholster your pistol, how to properly grip it, align the sights, press the trigger, adjust your angle of fire or to quickly get the gun back up and running should you encounter a malfunction. You have too many other things to consider; what is the threat level, what are my avenues of escape, how can I de-escalate this situation, where is my family, if I do have to shoot can I do so without endangering any other innocent bystanders and am I legally justified at this point to shoot, just to name of a few.
You should have already thought about and trained for these general scenarios in a safe environment under the instruction and direction of qualified trainers. You should already have mentally processed your ability and willingness to take this encounter to the end if need be. The last thing you want to do is get caught off guard or ill prepared. The decision to carry and use a firearm (in whatever context: work – home defense – concealed carry) comes with great responsibility. You owe it to yourself, your family and your community to push yourself in every aspect of knowledge and skill level to ensure that on the day you become an asset and not a liability to yourself or those around you.
“Skill at arms men”
Make a commitment to yourself today that you will push yourself in the area of training. If you don’t already, set aside an hour a week to work on dry fire and weapon manipulation drills. Break up the time into smaller chunks, say 10 minutes a day for 6 days and take the 7th off. Or 20 minutes every three days. Find a good and competent instructor who can teach you how to fight with your pistol not to just hit bull’s eyes on a piece of paper.
Train Hard – Fight Easy
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We are currently in the process of building up the site and providing you with training videos, product reviews and information regarding personal protection. Our goal is to cover topics that apply to everyone; from the soldier fighting the war on terror to the mom walking her kids in the park and everyone in between.
As we progress we will cover a wide array of topics and hopefully give you information and techniques that you can immediately implement. If there is a topic you would like discussed or a question you have regarding anything related to; self protection, firearms, less lethal options, mindset, gear or anything else please send us an email and ask your question. We will post your question, answer it and provide an opportunity for others to comment and offer their insights.
We will also use this blog to help promote future classes that you can attend where you will learn invaluable skills and techniques. You may just be interested in learning about basic self defense, first aid/CPR or how to load and unload a handgun. Or you may already have years of training and experience and are looking for something new and different. Our goal at Black Tiger Tactical is to provide you with skills that you can use and immediately implement in your daily life.
Train Hard – Fight Easy