The Importance of the First Shot

It is funny how this turned out to be an unintended theme of TacCon21. But the importance of the first shot cannot be understated. As Claude stated:

“In a gunfight, the shooter who first scores a hit above the diaphragm of his opponent is the one who seizes the initiative in the incident. Making a good hit with the FIRST SHOT fired is key to seizing the initiative and then retaining it until the incident is over. No one’s performance improves after he gets shot in a vital area.”

Hrm. This gives me something to add to my exploration of “minimum competency”.



Some principles are just as fundamental as is technique. One of the unintentional themes of the 2021 Tactical Conference was the importance of the first shot. One class even had that as its title. Several other instructors touched on it as part of their classes and presentations.

Rolf Penzel and Mike Treat titled their class Making the First Shot Count.

John Murphy made the comment “It’s not a ‘one shot drill,’ it’s a ‘first shot drill’” in his class.

During his presentation Secrets of Highly Successful Gunfighters, Darryl Bolke stated “training efficiency means using the sights.”

Chuck Haggard used the term “Target Picture” to illustrate the concept of placing the sight picture on the part of the target we want to hit initially.

In his AIWB Skills class, John Daub instructed his clients to “think about where you want the muzzle to end up” at the conclusion…

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Even more about Skill Development

Claude’s an influence in my study of minimum competency for defensive handgun use. Here are some additional details on his offering of a good and simple way to start establishing competency.


‘three shots, three yards, three seconds,’ has generated some good discussion and questions, which makes me happy. Someone posted a question on the Facebook page for Growing Up Guns.

Nothing was said about whether this done from a low or compressed ready, or from concealment, as far as the par time. Being LE based info, I’m assuming this was done from a duty holster. Thoughts?

It’s a progression, just like the size of the target. When someone is first learning to shoot, do it from Low Ready, muzzle below the feet of the target, finger off the trigger. Once a shooter achieves some degree of proficiency, which I would personally define as being able to consistently hit the quarter sheet, then branching can begin. Others might be satisfied with hitting the full sheet consistently as a standard.

There are numerous possible branching variations.

  • From the midpoint of the…

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Skills conversation about LAPD Shootouts

Claude’s an influence in my study of minimum competency for defensive handgun use. This is a good and simple way to start establishing competency.



I was talking with a friend of mine, who has Been There and Done That (BTDT), about Real Shootouts of the LAPD. He asked:

What was your biggest conclusion after writing the book?


“When Frank McGee (head of NYPD firearms training in the 70s) said ‘three shots, three yards, three seconds,’ he wasn’t far off the mark” was my response. I still think that on-duty POlice shootouts may be a different story but the off-duty shooting situations are much like those of an Armed Citizen.

We then started talking about the difference between ‘when to shoot’ vis-à-vis ‘how to shoot’ training / practice. He had an interesting take on targets in terms of ‘how to shoot.’

What he tells his students is,

Use a sheet of paper. When you can consistently hit that, fold it in half. When you can consistently hit that, fold it…

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Sunday Metal – Five Finger Death Punch

This is cool.

Five Finger Death Punch in Clarkston, MI, 2018. Full show.

Very cool mid-part during “Remember Everything”… Ivan brings a bunch of kids on stage to sing with him. It’s very heartfelt and cool – you could see in Ivan’s eyes that he sincerely wanted to make it a lifetime memory for those kids. I’m pretty sure he succeeded. 🙂

I don’t really get all the hate people give 5FDP.

Choose wisely

COVID-19. What a wild ride. It’s really shown (exposed?) a lot about us as people, about the fabric of society.

Here in the midst I think about life after it passes. What will it be?

How will we remember this?

How will time remember us?

I expect, we will be remembered by our actions.

Choose wisely.

2019 – Becoming Stronger

I’m not a “New Years” type of person – it’s just another day. If something is so important to my success, why wait until some (distant) future date before starting it? Start now.

But, reflection is the zeitgeist of now, and I got to thinking some… so here’s 2019.

It was a year I became stronger.

At the day job, I was on truly the most challenging and trying project of my 2+ decade professional career. I did reach my breaking point – and broke – from it. But I can also see I wouldn’t have weathered the storm and emerged on the other side, if I hadn’t already been strong. So that’s good. And I never would have thought it, but it sparked something inside me. I’m finding a new and renewed purpose in my professional career (beyond code monkey/architect): to helping build technical leads. We’ll see where this goes. I’m thankful for a supportive employer.

At my other job, I amassed 149 hours of formal training – most I’ve ever done in a single year. I broke through some mental (and thus skill) plateaus in my shooting, such that I was able to earn a Light Pin from Gabe White. I also graduated from the inaugural Rangemaster Master Instructor & Development course (if you can’t place the gravity of these things, they are a big deal). Made a lot of solid progress this year. The breakthroughs I had have helped me be become better, and set forth a good road ahead of me.

At the gym, I had both gains and setbacks. I finally broke through a long drought. I’ve been chasing a goal of “2/3/4/5”. That is, 2 “wheels” on (military) Press, 3 wheels on bench press, 4 on squat, 5 on deadlift. A “wheel” is a 45 lb plate, thus 225 press, 315 bench, 405 squat, 495 deadlift. I achieved those lifetime goals: closing out the year with a 225 press, 320 bench, and 515 deadlift. But squat eluded me, with a 358 best. I found my white whale, doubled-down, and wound up injuring my lumbar area. I changed gears, started tinkering with RPE and Conjugate, and literally on the last chance to squat in 2019 I hit a definitive 405 squat with the SS Yoke Bar (which is tougher than a normal bar). I set a goal of 2/3/4/5’ing in 2019, and I pulled it off totally unexpectedly. I attribute a change in mindset, initiated by injury, and having some supportive people around me that pushed me to be better (esp. Steve, Clay, and my wife). Truly, having 400 lb on your back, letting it sink you to the depths, not letting it crush you, then decisively rising up against that crushing force – all while knowing it’s been your lack of confidence, your fears holding you back from achieving your goals? The iron teaches you about life like nothing else.

At home, there’s a lot of change, with the kiddos getting older and dipping toes into their own independent lives. Working to pull back, allow them to be their own adults and not “parent” so much, even if it makes you wince and worry. Guiding them down new paths and roads, towards being a man or woman standing on their own 2 feet.  Being thankful for the strong-ass woman I’ve been fortunate to be married to for 2+ decades, for without her I’d not be able to stand. Diving deeper into my affection and love for her. With our age, time together, kids lives’ changing, and so on, that also means OUR relationship is changing. We must respond to the change, and build an even stronger bond between us.

In myself, dealing with the constant of what 2019 was, I withdrew a bit online. You all have enough people in your daily digital feeds bitching, proselytizing, manifesting hypocrisy, or some other sort of negativity to make you sick. I worked to only post when/if it could make people smile, laugh, be thankful, or some other sort of positive message/feeling – especially trying to make people smile and laugh. Or videos of me lifting, which of course is the primary reason I’m on Instagram. I have my opinions on issues, my “silence” (if you gauge how much I speak solely by what I say/post online) doesn’t mean I don’t work or contribute or fight for or against things. I simply prefer to be the sort of person that, when you think of me, you smile. There’s enough shittyness in the world – I can work on myself to minimize contributing to it, and also work to contribute better things.


2019 set a bunch of stuff in motion, primarily because “bad things happened”. As the saying goes, “tough times don’t last; tough people do”. I’m not saying I’m tough, but I am saying I’m still here. And through those tough times, I’ve found some pretty cool things that I hope to continue exploring in my future.

And yes, thank YOU for your support… because if you read this far, I guess you care about me somewhat. Thank you for caring.

Worst Possible Case and 100 percent Standards



Last night, I had an interesting conversation with John Daub of KR Training about the new NRA CCW Course. KR Training is one of, if not the, premier provider of firearms training in Texas, so his thoughts about the CCW Instructor Course he and Karl recently completed were something I wanted to hear. One of the most interesting items of the conversation was that the NRA has adopted a 100 percent hit standard for the NRA’s Qualification Course, if instructors choose to use the NRA’s Qual Course.

I’ve been a big believer in 100 percent standards for a long time. The importance of an exacting standard was emphasized by a recent Incident where a woman in Oroville, California shot and paralyzed her husband as a result of taking a Hostage Rescue shot on a home invader. Although she killed the home invader when she “emptied the clip” at…

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Lessons from the Duel at the Dumpster (Part II)


dumpster fire

There even more lessons we can take away from the Duel at the Dumpster, which we probably could also call the Dumbster Fire. Perhaps the most important lesson of them all relates to the human dynamics of confrontations.

You’re always on video

We have to assume we’re always going to be on video. This is especially true when there are other parties nearby, whether they’re Seconds or just bystanders.

Here is a reasonably good transcript of the first minute of the confrontation.

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The importance of being seen

Which is more important?

To see? Or to be seen?

I’m not talking about social media or the party scene… I’m talking about walking around, especially in the dark.

I drive to the gym in the early morning. It’s dark, and by definition difficult to see well.

But I do see a good number of people walking. It appears they are walking to work, or to the bus stop to get to work. They make a lot of assumptions about those early morning hours, such as “no one is around”. So they cross the road whenever they feel like it, instead of at well-lit intersections and crosswalks. They walk with the flow of traffic (instead of facing it). They wear dark clothing. On this last part, I can’t always blame them: some are wearing the required uniforms so they have little choice, or you just try to have some variety in your clothing so sometimes it’s going to be dark.

And it makes it difficult for them to be seen.

I also see a lot of drivers making the same assumption that “no one is around”. There’s a strong disregard for stop lights/signs. With fewer cars on the road, they’ll go faster. They don’t expect people are walking around, in the road. They drive as if they are the only ones on the road.

Can you see how this is a recipe for disaster?

My gym is in an industrial area, so as I get close to the gym I sometimes encounter folks walking to their construction job and they are wearing reflective vests. I love those people, because the area is poorly lit and now I can strongly see you. That’s good for both of us.

What gets me tho is how in all this time I’ve seen only once or twice someone using a flashlight. Everyone seems content walking in the dark. It’s not even an issue of boogeymen, but simply being able to see what one is about to step into. Recently we’ve had a lot of rain in Austin, so there’s mud, puddles of unknown depth, debris – the other morning I saw a woman walking over grass and nearly wipe out from what I assume was a muddy spot she didn’t see.

Flashlights are wonderful things! You can use them to see what’s around you, what you’re walking into. You can also use them to help others see you! When you cross the street, turn the light on. If you don’t need to shine it forward to see, shine it downwards  – that light-spot on the street will catch eyes and help you to be seen.

And a flashlight is better than those little lights or reflectors. The little lights are often too small, get obscured easily, and just don’t have enough power to cut through the darkness to be seen at a distance. Reflectors simply reflect: they don’t help you see (but they are better than nothing).

Get a good flashlight, with as many lumens as you can afford. I love SureFire flashlights, but there’s a lot of good inexpensive LED-based flashlights out there (Fenix comes to mind). After you get the flashlight, carry it and use it.

Yes, pedestrian safety can be improved by having drivers be more aware. But it’s only part of the equation, and one you cannot control. Take responsibility for your own safety – don’t put it in the hands of others. If you’re walking in the dark, have a good flashlight and use it. It helps you see, and to be seen.


2018-07-19 training log

Set a rep PR. Haven’t done that in a bit.

I usually like to look at my history and from that determine what I should hit for a PR set. But today? Didn’t care. Just keep pulling and it’ll be what it’ll be. So learning I hit a rep PR was pretty cool.

I really am liking Jokers. No lie – the thought did mess with my head, but doing them now? I think they are pretty awesome. But yes, you have to program them correctly. They are tough, but do-able. How much positive effect will they have on my progresss? I don’t know. Physically hard to say. Mentally? Huge.

Belt squats continue to be an experiment. I do like them, but I’m still trying to find what’s right. Today instead of keeping my feet rather forward (and leaning back into the belt) I worked to put my feet more under me. Only so much can be done due to the mechanics of the machine, but did what I could. I actually like this better and think it can be more fruitful for me, but I also noticed I started with my toes forward and as the reps progressed my toes angled out. I am trying to lift my toes so the work is all pushed through my heels, and things must just be slowly migrating — I want to keep that in check. I just have to keep my eye on it.

Everything else is just assistance work and rolls along fine.

5/3/1 (3rd cycle, anchor, 3/5/1, PR, Jokers, FSL; modified for knee rehab)

  • Deadlift
    • 180 x 5
    • 220 x 5
    • 265 x 3
    • 310 x 3
    • 355 x 3
    • 400 x 7 (rep PR)
    • 420 x 2 (Joker)
    • 440 x 1 (Joker)
  • Band Pullaparts (superset with deadlift warmups and work)
    • Not tracked
  • Belt Squats
    • 100 x 12
    • 100 x 12
    • 100 x 12
  • Seated Leg Curls
    • 120 x 12
    • 120 x 12
    • 120 x 12
  • Upright rows
    • 115 x 12
    • 115 x 12
    • 115 x 12
  • Stair Calves
    • 70 x 15
    • 70 x 15
    • 70 x 12