Carry Often, Carry More Than A Gun

February 12, 2013 by  
Filed under Carry, CCW, Equipment, Self Defense

So you’ve decided to carry a gun on a regular basis. Good. Deciding to take care of your personal safety yourself is one of the most important decisions you can make, because you are, and always will be, your own first responder. Carrying a pistol with you, concealed or not, creates options in defense of your life that you just cannot have without having a firearm on you.

But a gun is not enough. In fact, a pistol is just the end of the journey, because chances are you’re not going to need it, thank God.

So what should you have with you besides your gun?

  1. A Flashlight. We spend half our lives in the dark, a flashlight isn’t just a good idea, it’s an aboslute necessity. In the past, I relied on the flashlight app on my iPhone, but after some testing, I found the flashlight app just isn’t anywhere near as powerful as even the smallest dedicated flashlight. After filting around with a few different lights, I’ve settled on a Streamlight Microstream, and I absolutely love it. Why?
    • It’s small, which means you’ll carry it with you more often
    • It’s BRIGHT for it’s size, brighter than a AA Maglite, and bright enough to light up a doorway from across the street.
    • It’s cheap, so you won’t be heartbroken if you misplace it
    • It’s rugged. Mine has survived two trips through the washing machine and the dryer (don’t ask why) with no issues whatsoever
    • It takes one AAA battery, which means you can find spare batteries for it everywhere, and if you want the longer-lived (and more expensive) lithium batteries, they’re also available.
  2. A Knife. Quick! Open up that clamshell plastic packaging without a sharp object, I dare you! Oh, what’s that you say, you can’t quite lever out the jammed paper in the photocopier? And now you’ve ripped the “easy open tab” off your microwavable entree, and you’re faced with the prospect of an unintentional day-long fast or a jaunt outside of the office for lukewarm, lackluster fast food. Knives make too much sense not to have one on you, and I understand they’re a pretty decent self-defense tool as well (sarcasm). As I work in an office and I don’t want to carry something that screams “TACTICAL!”, I usually have a CRKT Pazoda unobtrusively clipped to my pants pocket. It’s small, lightweight, sharp and doesn’t stick up over the pocket much at all. 
  3. Extra Ammo. Make a quick list of everything that can go wrong with a modern semi-automatic pistol. No, go ahead, I’ll wait.
    Done? Good.
    Now, how many of the items on your list are related to the pistol’s magazine? And you don’t carry a spare magazine on you because….?
    I use a Blackhawk! Single Mag Pouch when I carry my CZ P07, and it works like a charm. I’m not planning on shooting 32 rounds of 9mm in a defensive situation, but I figure if something goes wrong with my gun and I have to reload, I can.
  4. A Smartphone. We can have the “I just want my phone to be a phone and make phone calls” discussion some other time, but the fact is a smartphone allows you to have a Red Cross First Aid Guide and an Emergency Radio Scanner and a GPS and a weather alert radio and a whole bunch of other useful information at your fingertips. Plus, we now know that when an emergency happens and the cell phone towers are overloaded with traffic, text messages can go out when phone calls can’t (pdf link). A smartphone also has a camera to document what happened for the police and/or insurance companies, and you can always play Angry Birds on it while you wait for the other first responders to respond…

What other items should a well-prepared person have on them besides their gun?

Training for competition and safety

August 15, 2012 by  
Filed under Carry, CCW, Competition, Mindset, Practice, Self Defense, Training

Continuing on from my earlier post, one of the pitfalls of competitive practical shooting is that it’s, well a competition, and not the real world. To quote from the article I linked previously,

“Many of these issues can be brought together under the single heading of stage strategy. To be good at the games, you need to understand their scoring systems and their rules. Sometimes things that make perfectly good sense ‘” like dropping an empty magazine on the ground ‘” could be illegal. Some things that make no sense whatsoever ‘” like exposing yourself to half a dozen targets at once instead of using available cover ‘” might be key to getting the best score. Most stages at most matches actually give you a chance to walk through and possibly even pantomime your plan in advance. Taking those opportunities and using them properly is important for the game, but obviously antithetical to preparing to respond to a sudden attack.”

If you’re going to need to defend your life with a firearm, the chances are pretty good you won’t have a chance to map out where you’re  going to reload your gun and where’s the best spot to shoot three targets without moving. Chances are it’ll be dark, chaotic and over quickly.

How do you train for that? How do you train to expect the unexpected and then react quickly enough to save your life?

“Blind” stages in competition are one way. Those are portions of a match where you aren’t allowed to walk through a stage, where you can’t figure out ahead of time where you’ll move and what you’ll be shooting when you get there. It’s just “Make ready, are you ready, standby, BEEEP!” and away you go.

This is a gamer’s worst nightmare, because all the little tweaks that you can do like figuring out angles of attack and optimal reloads don’t matter. What matters in a stage like this are the observation and orientation parts of the OODA loop, something that is off-loaded into “stage strategy” in a match but will be right up front in our face in the real world.