Category Archives: Guns
Guns. Lifting weight. Lead. Iron. Both heavy metals. Both topics for me, but rarely do I mix them.
Ed, this post is for you.
After last Saturday’s class, Ed and I (we carpooled) stopped at the Bastrop Buc-Ee’s for gas and some food. Ed asked me about ways to improve his grip.
Not really going to work for Ed. But truly, that’s what has helped me so much in my grip. When you’re holding 365# in the air, you better have a good grip. Other things have helped too, like hammer curls, and just ensuring I grip/squeeze when I’m lifting and don’t just let my fingertips barely hold on.
What it comes down to is: if you want to get good at something, you have to do that something. If you want to get good at boxing, you have to get in the ring and box. Certainly tho, you can do boxing-like things to help your boxing. For example, jog/run medium distances to bring up your endurance so you can go 12 rounds, but sprints won’t contribute a whole lot to your ring performance. So if you want to get better at gripping, you have to grip things.
That said, grip isn’t a simple thing. There’s crushing, there’s pinching, and there’s holding (supporting). There are fingers, there’s your thumb, there’s forearm muscles that work in various directions. There’s really a lot in here, but to keep the discussion focused, I’m going to look at gripping a handgun and possible ways to improve your grip on your gun to help with recoil management.
No, I’m not an expert here, nor is this any sort of training program. I’m just thinking aloud based on my knowledge and experience.
When you’re gripping a gun, you’re doing so because you need to shoot it. When you shoot it, there will be recoil. You cannot stop recoil, only manage it. There are numerous ways to help manage that recoil, and I’m going to focus on one: your grip.
I’ve read many ways about how to grip the gun. There’s the Weaver Stance with it’s push-pull dynamics. Brian Enos talks about squeezing the grip itself but with neutral “directional forces” (if you will) so the gun isn’t being pushed or pulled in any direction. Tom Givens said something to the effect of the strong/trigger hand gives a “front-to-back” squeeze and the weak/support hand gives a “left-to-right” squeeze, thus together it’s a strong “box” of inward pressure. Massad Ayoob refers to the “crush grip” where you squeeze so hard until you start shaking then back off just to the point where you stop shaking. When we teach out at KR Training, Karl Rehn came up with a nice analogy of “Homer choking Bart“.
While everyone has a different way of approaching it, it really boils down to you need to grip and grip hard.
Trouble is, when you grip hard, you can’t grip for long. Muscles will get tired, and when they get tired, your grip is going to loosen. Given this, what it tells me is two things need to be focused on for improving grip for shooting handguns: 1. strength, 2. endurance.
Note, I’m setting aside other grip issues and problems. For example, if your hands get sweaty, that’s going to make it harder to grip things. You’ll have to find some other way to manage that, but one way? Grip even harder. Point being, there are other problems one can have with their grip, like sweaty hands or gun fit issues, and those are outside the scope of this writing.
Ed mentioned to me he was working on it by taking a ball and squeezing it. I think that’s a good approach, but after a while it won’t be enough. The problem? After a while, it’s no challenge to you. You can squeeze it to death, you can hold it until you stop from boredom before exhaustion. Continuing to squeeze that ball won’t allow you to progress. Ed knew I had previously mentioned the Captains of Crush grippers, but honestly? They feel like more of an assistance exercise than a primary. That is, if you want to get good at gripping a handgun, you need to grip a handgun or what most closely resembles that (since “working out” with a gun has other safety and social issues).
The CoC grippers are very good at developing crush strength. But I’ve found it’s within a particular range of motion. It’s a… clamp for lack of a better term. Using these grippers doesn’t involve my whole hand, my whole forearm, my fingertips, my pinky — because the pinky is so heavily involved in recoil management. So, I look at grippers as more “assistance work” than main work. Nevertheless, I see much benefit in using equipment like this. First, if you can close a CoC #1 or #2 gripper? you’ve got a decently strong grip. If you can close a #3? I think you’ll be find holding on to a handgun. If you can work these, you’re still going to have a very strong crush grip, which is important. Second, these CoC grippers offer progression. Frankly, this is key.
The problem with Ed’s ball is that once he’s mastered it, what do you do next? I’m sure you can find “stronger” balls to work with, but what sort of progression is there? can you measure it? can you be certain of it? With a set like the CoC’s, you can know precisely where you are, what you’re doing, and where to go next. If the “S” is easy, move to “T”, when the “T” is easy, move to “1″ and so on. You can know what you’re doing, and you can certainly progress. Because if you want to get stronger, you have to keep working with greater resistance.
But don’t think with the grippers that you have to work on crushing the #3. How about getting the “S” model and holding it closed for 30 seconds? That’s the second part: endurance. When you shoot, you don’t draw and shoot 1, you’ll be shooting more. Take a class and how much are you shooting? If you’re shooting an IPSC or IDPA match, how long does the stage last? No, you don’t need to hold on for 5 minutes, but 10 seconds isn’t uncommon, maybe up to 20. In fact, you might consider it broken apart. Maybe you shoot for 5 seconds, run to the next position, shoot for another 5 seconds, run to the next, another 5, and so on. Maybe you could crush the gripper all the way closed, hold for 5, release for 2-3 seconds, crush and hold for 5, etc.. That is, work to replicate the conditions you’ll be shooting under. If that gets easy, move up to the next gripper.
There are also these things called the IronMind EGG. There’s lots of similar products. But here the point remains that there’s different models for different levels of resistance, and it provides more of an overall crush feel in your hands — fingertips are going to get involved. Crush it — Homer choking Bart — and hold for 20 seconds. Do this over and over. Build up the crush strength, build up the endurance. I think products like these can provide a more “handgun-grip-like” setup and thus could work better as a “primary exercise”. There are also foam grippers on the market that are more rectangular in shape, perhaps with finger grooves. That’s very similar in size and shape to a double-stack striker-fired handgun’s grip — grip it like the gun.
(Note: I’m not a shill for IronMind or CoC… just like their CoC grippers; never held their EGG product).
I will say tho, I think the biggest part of improving your grip while shooting is the mental aspect.
You just have to make the mental effort to focus on your grip.
When you are working with grippers or crush balls, you have to grip hard… then grip harder…. and harder. You are going to get tired. Muscles are going to want to relax. You must tell yourself to grip harder. You must make your muscles grip harder. It’s a mental thing. We will lose our grip without even thinking about it, so if instead you can train yourself to progressively grip harder, the hopeful end result is a maintenance of a steady grip, not a slowly loosening one. This will require you to be mentally engaged in the grip work, not just mindless crushing.
Next time you go to the range? Don’t work on drills, don’t work on your accuracy, or your speed. Work on your grip. Pick some drills like a Bill Drill. Don’t worry about the target or your speed or whatever so much (of course, do be safe, do ensure all rounds impact the backstop, etc.), just focus on your grip and crushing the hell out of the gun the whole time. Experiment with different grip strengths: maybe you crush the unholy hell out of it, maybe you back off 10%. What if you crush like hell with your support hand but have just a “good grip” with your strong/trigger hand. Does how hard you grip with your trigger-hand affect the movement of your trigger finger? Make a whole range session out of playing with your grip and focusing solely upon that topic.
When you dry fire? Do not forget to have Homer choke Bart. It’s very easy to slack on your grip when you dry fire because you know there’s no recoil. I catch myself doing this all the time. You have to make the mental effort to remind yourself to grip hard when dry firing.
After you learn a few things at the range, reassess the grip workout you do. Maybe you found “this much grip” worked, so crush the ball with that much force and hold it. Maybe you need a stronger ball or gripper. It’s going to be an iterative process.
Finally, don’t expect grip improvements overnight. Actually, you may well improve some after the “focus on your grip” range session, because now you’ve thought about it, became aware of it, and will be more cognizant of your grip when shooting. On the same token, don’t be surprised if you regress! I found as my grip strength improved, I wasn’t necessarily aware of it. That is, in my mind I was still gripping the same as I always had, but on an absolute scale I was gripping harder. Ever watch what happens to your front sight when you change how much you crush grip the gun? the sight moves. I had to readjust some other things to bring things back in line. Don’t use the changes as an excuse to back off on your grip: it’s just a way to help you find other weak points to make stronger.
And yes, you have to make a routine of this. Work on it every day. Doesn’t have to be much, maybe 10 minutes a day. Make it a constant thing. Keep a log of your work so you can see your progress.
It also don’t have to be true “exercising” of your grip. When you hold onto something, anything during your day, don’t just weakly hold it or let it roll to the end of your fingertips. Grip it. Hold it. Own it. When you feel your grip loosening, tighten up. When you feel your muscles getting tired, hang on for another 15 seconds. Again, change your mental approach to grip.
The better we can manage recoil, the better we can shoot. You don’t need awesome grip strength to defend yourself, but the more you can grip, the better you’ll be able to rack the slide, shoot longer and faster strings, and manage through classes and practice. It’s more useful to be strong than weak, so hopefully the above has given you a few ideas about how you can make your grip stronger. It won’t happen overnight, but persistence will pay off.
This past Basic Pistol 1 @ KR Training was different, for me at least.
It was my first time as lead instructor. I’ve been an assistant instructor at KR Training for a number of years, and I’m happy in that capacity. But now I get to step up and do a little more. While the past some whiles I’ve done segments of the BP1 class, this was doing the whole thing and well… it didn’t go as smoothly as I wanted it. Others thought I did fine, and I know my critique is just me looking at myself and what I can do improve my own presentation and flow. Always looking for things I can do better.
That said, the class itself went really well.
First, the weather was perfect. It always seems the case: weather reports for rain, there’s rain Thursday or Friday, people get nervous… but then, it always clears up and is gorgeous. Rare is the Saturday class actually rained out, and often is the weather agreeable. This was a great day to be outside and on the range.
I always like reporting on demographics. This class was over two-thirds female. Had a couple mother-daughter. Had people from all walks of life, social background, ethnicity/race. I’m sorry, but the stereotype of “old white redneck guy” just isn’t the case.
This group of students was very engaged, asking a lot of questions going beyond the BP1 material. I hope to see everyone back for future classes!
I think the only bummer of the day was the fire ants. With all the recent rain, they were driven out of the dirt — mounds everywhere. Just had to tread carefully, and thankfully not too many mounds on the range.
Thank you all for coming out and entrusting us with your first steps on this journey.
So long as you deny our humanity, so long as you malign our dignity, intelligence and wisdom, so long as you seek to shade us under a cloud of evil that we do not partake in or support, so long as you tell us that because we own guns we are terrible people, you will prove yourselves absolutely right in that we won’t come to the table to talk with you.
This. So very much, this.
Read the full article. It’s long, but well-written. (h/t Jon Thomas)
They want to have a “national conversation on guns”, but there’s no conversation. It’s just a lecture, a scolding. Who wants to listen to that? When someone dresses you down, how much do you listen to them? How much do you want to cooperate with them? If they call you names, tell you you’re evil, put words in your mouth… do you really want to listen to what they have to say? Are you going to be receptive to anything they propose? It has nothing to do with guns; that’s just a human reaction.
Here’s a PDF from Dale Carnegie. Just about every rule gets violated in this “conversation”, and so we’re losing friends and alienating people.
To be fair, it’s not just the anti-gun folk that are like this. I see pro-gun folk that are this way as well. I cannot stand looking at my Twitter feed because I see so much … well… asshole-ish behavior going on. Conversations in less than 140 characters is not a conversation. I see name-calling, baiting, and just general rudeness. I mean, there’s assholes in every crowd, alas they tend to be the ones creating the most jibber-jabber, thus they create the perception. This sort of behavior won’t win anyone over to our cause. There’s no attempt to educate, just more violations of Dale’s rules. Really, what Mr. Snell’s article concludes cuts both ways: that so long as pro-gun folks treat anti-gun folk in a bad way (denying humanity, maligning their dignity, intelligence and wisdom, etc.), well… they won’t come talk to us either.
We can even step back from guns. Look at abortion, LGBT equality, environment (e.g. global warming), food (GMO, etc.), race, religion (including a-religion), whatever. Ever notice how divisive things are today? How the media no longer maintains a facade of neutrality but now blatantly takes and panders to “sides”? How politicians hammer on “the other side” for being in the way of progress, instead of they themselves trying to progress? How there’s so much spitting of venom and hate? There’s so much talk of tolerance, but little is given, especially to those that don’t agree with me. It doesn’t matter the topic. So long as we deny humanity, malign dignity, shade “the other side” under a cloud of evil… we’ll never come to the table and break bread together.
If united we stand and divided we fall… then it looks like we’ve fallen, and at this rate, we’re not going to get back up. Because while our humanity is crumpled on the ground crying for help, you’d rather Instagram ‘dat shit’ and walk away laughing at the ‘dumb bitch’. We need people to put their smartphones away, give our collective humanity a humble look in the eyes, and offer it a helping hand.
Naturally, some people object.
“I feel it is a really strong overreaction to what happened at Sandy Hook,” said Clayton Rascoe, parent of a Hunt pre-kindergarten student, referring to the Connecticut elementary where 20 children and six staff members were shot dead in December. “Clearly teachers and staff are not trained to carry firearms and take care of crisis situations,” Rascoe said.
So were Obama, Biden, Bloomberg, Feinstein’s actions not a strong overreaction as well?
Teachers are not trained to take care of crisis situations. What about bullying? What about troubled students? depressed students? There’s all manner of crises that teachers have to deal with. Violence in our schools is nothing new, from the “schoolyard fight”, to now students getting quite aggressive and physically violent with teachers over things like requests to put away mobile phones. Should teachers not be able to handle a crisis?
“There are police and military personnel who train their entire lives for such a situation and they unfortunately get it wrong sometimes,” he said. “I don’t think it is going to solve anything. I think it will introduce more problems than it could ever cure.”
How? What facts and evidence can support your claim? Firearms ownership has risen. Concealed carry has risen. There are more people walking around you today that have guns hidden on their person. And just-released BJS data shows that firearm homicides have decreased. More guns, less firearm homicide. How is this a reduction in violent crime a problem? Is that what you want?
“We teach kids implicitly with everything we do,” he said. “By doing this we are teaching them that violence is a viable solution.”
I hate to say it, Jack, but sometimes violence is not just a viable solution, it’s the only solution. I used to say that to, that violence is not the answer. But now I know that sometimes it is. Oh sure, you cannot make it your only answer, and you must consider if it is the best solution to the given problem. I mean, look at what women’s “rape prevention” seminars are all about — kick him in the groin, palm strike him in the nose, kick, bite, punch. That’s the offered — and socially and culturally acceptable solution — and it looks a lot like violence to me. Are you saying we shouldn’t teach rape prevention, because that would be teaching violence as a viable solution?
“I own guns. I hunt with guns. I teach my kids to use guns,” he said. “But this is a place of education and safety.”
It should be a place of education and safety. Alas, it is not. Granted, mass shootings are rare and on the decline (despite the media and political hype), so you should look at the mundane. I mean, bullying is pretty common at school. Schoolyard fights happen. A school is no magic bubble that somehow prevents bad things from happening. But I can think of things that can further deter and prevent bad things from happening.
A gun owner himself, Moseley said he didn’t vote for the measure because letting guns in school is not the right answer.
“Teachers are trained to be nurturers, not protectors,” he said.
To nurture is to care for and encourage the growth of development of. If you care for these kids, isn’t their safey important? If you want to see them grow, shouldn’t you want to also ensure they can live to see another day? We put fire alarms, extinguishers, and suppression systems in our schools. We have the kids go through fire drills so they can know precisely how to evacuate the school in the event of a fire. Depending where you live, you might have tornado drills. And the teachers and staff run these drills, maintain the order, and help to deal with the crisis.
Why shouldn’t we enable our teachers — who we entrust with the future of this country — to be able to fully care for their students?
A study released Tuesday by the government’s Bureau of Justice Statistics found that gun-related homicides dropped from 18,253 in 1993 to 11,101 in 2011. That’s a 39 percent reduction.
Another report by the private Pew Research Center found a similar decline by looking at the rate of gun homicides, which compares the number of killings to the size of the country’s growing population. It found that the number of gun homicides per 100,000 people fell from 7 in 1993 to 3.6 in 2010, a drop of 49 percent.
Both reports also found that non-fatal crimes involving guns were down by roughly 70 percent over that period. The Justice report said the number of such crimes diminished from 1.5 million in 1993 to 467,300 in 2011.
Full story. The Associated Press’ story continues tho:
But perhaps because of the intense publicity generated by recent mass shootings such as the December massacre of 20 school children and six educators in Newtown, Conn., the public seems to have barely noticed the reductions in gun violence, the Pew study shows.
See that’s the thing. Perspective is lacking.
One event happens, the media hype machine gets fired up, and it’s blown out of proportion. I’m not saying what happened in Newtown or any school shooting should be minimized, but rather kept in perspective. I mean, how many people were killed in Chicago this past weekend, and where’s the media hype and outrage over that?
When you look at the BJS’s data, if those homicides are going down folks… why don’t you look at that? I mean, you want gun-based violence to decline, right? Well, we have a decline! Let’s try to see why!
Were guns banned? Were magazine capacities restricted? Nope. In fact if anything, anti-gun folks are going to point out how over the past 10-20 years “gun rights” have expanded, the laws have become too loose, all these states adopting concealed carry laws.
But I thought blood was going to flow in the streets, and we’d return to the Wild West with shootouts over parking spaces? If that happened, wouldn’t gun-related homicide numbers have risen?
Evidently they declined.
I don’t think we can say “expanded gun rights” is the sole cause for this decline, because factors such as the health of the economy, jobs, drugs (e.g. late 1980′s saw a rise due to crack cocaine) certainly come into the equation. But just because it’s not the sole cause doesn’t mean it’s not part of the equation, that it’s not part of the solution.
Look, when it comes to a violent crime you’re likely to be involved in, it’s going to be some criminal wants to get paid. They want what you’ve got: your money, your sexuality, your dignity, whatever… and they will stick a gun in your face to force you to give it up. The criminal wants what they want, and then they want to be able to enjoy what they get, and then be able to do it again. They want to get your wallet, get the money, buy some drugs or booze, consume the drugs or booze, then do it again. Notice that “getting shot or injured or killed” is not part of their equation? Don’t you think empowering Joe Citizen to fight back, to have it be publicly known that the citizenry is armed, that if you mug Joe you may get killed… don’t you think that’s going to have an effect upon reducing crime? If criminal doesn’t want to get shot, he’s going to be more careful or reluctant or just flat out decide to do something else (e.g. just break into a business in the middle of the night to see what he can steal… still not great he committed a crime, but at least people aren’t getting hurt, right?).
Isn’t that what is desired? To reduce the crime? to reduce the violence?
Well, the BJS’s data has shown it’s declined, despite what media hype and politician opinions lead you to believe. So when the facts and data speak, maybe you should listen.
I’m famous now.
The Rangemaster May 2013 newsletter has been published, and they reprinted my AAR for the Rangemaster Instructor course from a couple months ago (with permission, natch). Thank you, Tom.
But what I want to know is… who wrote that song?
From Karl Rehn:
Self-defense training is about risk reduction. Those making choices based on Y chromosome-induced testosterone poisoning, rather than logic, reason, and data analysis, deserve whatever problems their stupidity leads them into.
(posted in a FB comment about the SERPA holster).
They claim that schools are places to teach… for students to learn.
If the story told is facts and truth…
Yes, he brought a shotgun onto school grounds. It was a mistake. The kid’s an Eagle Scout, and he’s human too (i.e. makes mistakes, just like you do, just like school adminstrators do). The moment he realized his mistake he secured the shotgun and went to the school office to try to contend with it (have Mom come pick it up, or some such solution). He was really left with no options, because if he left school grounds that’d be cause for punishment, so what he could he do? He tried to handle it in a responsible manner, but instead he got suspended and turned over to law enforcement.
The school system is standing by their decision.
“Administration reacted promptly and the proper procedures and protocol were followed,” Jones said. “The situation was turned over to law enforcement immediately. As a result of our investigation, it is our best determination that students and staff were safe at all times.”
They were always safe and never in harms way.
But this is what “zero tolerance” policies do. In fact, it’s what policy tends to be about: something to hide behind.
There is no thinking.
There is no consideration.
There is is no accountability because you can just point to the faceless “policy” and wash your hands of everything. Even those that made the policy, if they are still around, aren’t accountable.
Whatever happened to understanding that youth is a period in our lives rife with mistakes? Thus youth should also be a life period rife with learning and forgiveness. But alas, we’re not allowed to make mistakes anymore. What sort of society are we building?
And what lesson is Cole Withrow and the other students supposed to learn? Thinking is bad? Shirking responsibility is what you do as an adult? Because that’s certainly what “school administrative officials” are doing… all because Cole Withrow made a mistake, and sought to do the responsible thing in correcting it.
Mr. Withrow, no matter how this falls out, don’t let the actions of a few unthinking individuals color and tarnish your view of the world. Yes you made a mistake, but you handled it as right and responsibly as you could.
Best fights are the ones we avoid.
- Mr. Han (Jackie Chan, the 2010 remake of “The Karate Kid”)
Whenever people dole out self-defense tips, it tends to be under the guise of you being in the fight. The fight has started, or the fight is inevitable, and how can you manage the fight. Granted, sometimes this is how it goes. But what might be better is if we could avoid the fight in the first place.
There are good techniques for this, like SouthNarc’s Managing Unknown Contacts (MUC) techniques, or just following the Insights Training ABC: Always Be Cool. Marc MacYoung knows a lot about the subject too, and when he posted this article I thought it was one worth sharing.
The article is titled “Eight Self-Defense Tips for Men to Avoid Violent Conflicts“. I would argue these are good self-defense tips for everyone to follow, but I can see the author’s point towards men because I get reminded of LowTechCombat‘s examination of Alpha vs. Predatory.
Here are the 8 points, without elaboration (you can find that in the article):
- Forget what you see on the screen
- Live, love and be happy
- Know yourself
- He’s human too
- Get over yourself
- Peyton Quinn’s rules
- Stick to the mission
Notice there’s no tips on how to punch him just right, how to shoot more effectively, none of that. It’s about mindset, it’s about mental approach and tactics for situations — before they become situations. This is more important.
It’s also about humility. There’s so much bravado, so much macho about fighting and self-defense. I recently saw a posting on Facebook, of a picture of a bank holdup scene and captioned basically “and what would you do”. The comment thread was full of big talk, heroics, fantasy, and few posters acknowledged realities involved (tho it was cool to see Rog mention the Beer & TV Maxim; one of the few rational comments on the picture). I think about #8 of “stick to the mission” which is basically:
Every time I leave the house, my mission is to return to it and my loved ones safely and unharmed so I can live a long and happy life with them.
So does your macho, your bravado, your fantasy, your heroics, do they permit you to fulfill your mission? Granted, your mission may be different, but then at least you know your mission. You do clearly know your mission, right? If you don’t, if you cannot stop right now and state it clearly aloud, then perhaps you should take a moment to define what your mission is. It will guide you and your decisions, which may be critically important when the flag flies.
Give the whole article a read. It’s quite good. In fact, most of these tips will apply beyond “violent encounters”. I mean, we have conflict on the job or in other interactions in our daily life. Tips like Peyton Quinn’s rules will help you manage those just fine too.
Paula Bolyard writes:
As I listened to the police scanner during the Boston manhunt, I wasn’t thinking about “police all over the place” in the “personal security guard” sense that Feinstein seemed to be implying.
Instead, I imagined a mother huddled in the nursery with her baby. Her husband is out of town and she is also listening to the police scanner, praying the terrorist doesn’t burst through her back door.
I imagined an 85-year-old World War II veteran living alone. He fought the Nazis on foot across Europe and his government just instructed him to “shelter-in-place.” He turns out the lights in his home and hunches over his radio waiting for updates though the long night.
I wondered if they could protect themselves if the worst happened.
In the middle of that night listening to the Boston police scanner, I evolved.
I realized right then that if I were holed up in my house while a cold-blooded terrorist roamed my neighborhood, I wouldn’t want to be a sitting duck with only a deadbolt lock between me and an armed intruder. There are not enough police and they cannot come to my rescue quickly enough. They carry guns to protect themselves, not me. I knew at that instant if Dzhokhar Tsarnaev showed up at my door while I was “sheltered-in-place” and aimed a gun at my head and only one of us would live, I could pull the trigger.
Her story resonates with me because I too evolved. I was never against guns and wanting to ban them on the whole, but I didn’t see why anyone needed “a machine gun to hunt Bambi”. Then, Wife was sexually assaulted while taking Oldest (then an infant) out for a walk/push in his stroller. That was my evolutionary moment. It still took me a number of years to come around to owning a gun and carrying a gun, but that moment opened my eyes to many realities about life and the world. That moment set in motion my quest for knowledge, education, and enlightenment about personal safety, crime prevention, etc.. To then own and carry a gun became a logical conclusion, because when you strip away your ignorance, your bias, you emotions and all you have left is fact and harsh realities about the world? Things become pretty clear on their own.