Why not both?

Greg Ellifritz posted this meme to Facebook:

As expected, comments and sharing ensued.

Via another avenue, I learned about a share of Greg’s posting with sharer commentary. The sharer’s commentary said this was bullshit, that you don’t need to have physical fitness, beards, tattoos – you just need a determined mindset (and even better if it’s determination backed up by a gun). Of course the commenting on that went off the rails too.

While pictorial memes can be fun(ny) and useful, their problem is they cannot convey depth. They’re the modern equivalent of a sound bite. Remember what George Carlin said about that:

And so, on television news there is, oddly, very little emphasis on the present; on today’s actual news. The present exists only in thirty-second stories built around eight-second sound bites. Remember, “sound bite” is their phrase. that’s what they give you. Just a bite. No chewing, no digestion, no nourishment. Malnutrition.

Because here’s the thing: there’s a kernel of truth in what both people are saying. Reality is more nuanced than a meme or a share-rant can provide.

Let’s start with the original meme. The premise is to help in the decision to take tactical training. The creator/poster of the meme believes there are prerequisites to tactical training, such as having a reasonable level of physical fitness, and that maybe this isn’t the first time you’ve gotten punched in the face. On the points, the author isn’t necessarily wrong.

So you want tactical training, so you carry a gun – why? Ostensibly because you want to save lives, to preserve life, etc.. If such is the case, then physical fitness will do more for you. The reality is violent crime and other situations whose answer is “using a gun” are few and far between – they are rare events. Death from heart attacks? obesity, and obesity-related matters? Quite common. You are more likely to die because of that extra 100 lb. you’re hauling around than from a violent crime. So you better believe that physical fitness will do more for your life in general. If you care about protecting life so much, start with your own personal health.

I see it in classes all the time. People who cannot keep up with even a small bit of physical exertion. I mean, our classes at KR Training may not all be the most physically demanding, but there is a lot of walking that goes on. You will be on your feet all day. You will be in the hot Texas sun all day. It WILL take a physical toll on you. And if you bomb out of the day for those reasons, then it was a lot of your time and money wasted. That $400 for a weekend class may be better spent on an annual gym membership.

But do you need to be able to run a marathon? Do you need to be able to squat 600 lb? Do you need to have 5% bodyfat? in order to take a training class? Probably not, tho that would vary depending upon the class (an Intro to Marksmanship class vs. a Shivworks ECQC do have rather different requirements). So to need to be “physically fit” is certainly relative. As well, should we deny a frail elderly person, or someone with physical handicaps/limitations (including simply being obese) from being able to receive training in self-defense? Nope. But of course, there may be limitations in terms of the training one can receive.

So the original meme has a kernel of truth, but reality isn’t as plain as the meme tries to make it. The sharer’s calling of “bullshit” on the meme has some ground.

And on the sharer’s side they speak of the importance of a determined mindset. There’s no question that is important. We hear the countless stories of people receiving superficial (and totally survivable) wounds and falling over dead because they gave up. Then other people who are put through literal hell, but are so determined to fight and win they do and live to regale us with their battle stories. Determined mindset cannot be discounted, and we all work to teach and imbue that in our students.

What’s interesting is the sharer gave examples like “what do they teach in Army Basic Training”, and allusions to military groups of yore. That those groups are just all about determined mindset. But you know what all those groups received?

Tactical Training.

And you know what’s part of that training? Physical fitness. By pleasant coincidence John M. Buol, Jr. just posted the 2018 Army Combat Readiness Test. How do YOU score on that test? If the US Army thinks physical fitness is an important part of combat readiness – that’s what we call a clue, that physical fitness is an important component and possible prerequisite.

So maybe the original meme has some ground too.

I know we now live in a world of absolutes. Where what I say and believe is right, and what you say and believe is wrong. Where Truth only exists in meme or Tweet-able form, and anything “tl;dr” (like this article) is… well… too long and no one’s going to read it. But no matter how you believe reality to be – reality is what it is, regardless of your belief. And often that reality isn’t as simple nor as black-and-white as you wish to make it. Instead of trying to be right, work to seek Truth. Work to see the other’s point of view, because maybe there is a sliver of merit. You may be pleasantly surprised at what you find.

Beware Simple Answers

Beware simple answers. They are reassuring but may not achieve the desired results given our framework of government, practical realities, and the flawed nature of human beings.

I’ve been following David’s writing and research for some time. It’s compelling and interesting.

The Gringo Pistolero

Andy Stanford performs “The Gringo Pistolero”

Seriously, this is some epic storytelling. Highly entertaining.

I learned about this during the Historical Handgun class.

Concealed Handgun Licensing: Asset to Texas

My friend, researcher Howard Nemerov, just published a  new paper: Concealed Handgun Licensing: Asset to Texas. The abstract:

Collating conviction data reported by Texas Department of Public Safety, crime data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and census data, it’s possible to determine relative criminality of handgun carry licensees to their equivalent non-licensee population. This paper analyzes Texas carry licensees versus non-licensee Texans over age 21 to determine relative criminality, and also cites research enabling a comparison between police officer malfeasance and carry licensees.

For the tl;dr crowd: license holders are overwhelmingly more law-abiding than non-license holders (as a group/demographic).

A few points from 16 years of data:

  • Non-licensees committed FBI major crime felonies 20 times as often as carry licensees.
  • For all non-FBI crimes—other felonies and misdemeanors—non-licensees committed crime 11 times as often as carry licensees.
  • Since 2006 (last 10 years) non-licensees committed non-FBI crimes 14 times as often.

Why might that be? Howard’s paper discusses it, and it’s something I wrote about over 8 years ago, because to hold a carry license in Texas says a lot about a person.

Everyone seems to worship facts, at least when facts suit their cause. Funny thing about facts: they continue to hold when they don’t suit your cause. Give Howard’s paper a read – it’s full of facts.

AAR: Historical Handgun, September 2017

Historical Handgun: Karl Rehn, KR Training

I have not had this much fun in ages.

I participated in Karl Rehn’s first offering of the Historical Handgun (1-Day) course at KR Training on September 16, 2017. The half-day version was offered this past summer, but I was unable to make it due to prior commitments. There was no way I was going to miss this one.


FBI 1945

As one of Karl’s assistant instructors, I’ve been hearing a lot about this course. Karl spoke to me about it frequently as he was working on it, and I was happy when he got things done and could finally offer it as a class. You see, I didn’t grow up with guns. Oh sure, they were around me to some extent or other, I played cops and robbers as a kid, watched The Lone Ranger, and all those things. And in my almost-decade working for Karl, I’ve learned a lot about the development and history of handgunning. But I know there’s still much to learn, especially about the earliest of days.


And let’s be frank. As one of Karl’s assistants, I ought to know and have taken every class KR Training offers. 🙂


Army 1935, part 1

Karl is able to offer Historical Handgun in 3 formats: half-day, one-day, two-day. The content is basically the same, just when you have more time you can get more content and dive a little deeper into topics. Another twist on the class is striving to replicate the time periods. You shoot drills, qualifications, and standards from the eras, and you can shoot them with somewhat period-appropriate firearms. You could shoot the course with one gun, or you could shoot with a revolver, a 1911, a DA/SA semi-automatic, and a modern striker-fired gun (different guns for different courses of fire, as appropriate for the time-period). It’s a really cool twist and puts a different spin and challenge into the class.

Army 1935, part 2

Material was broken up by decade, starting in 1930 (if I remember correctly) and working up to today. Karl would point out significant events of that decade, things that were pivotal in the history of handgunning, affecting and influencing where we are today. Karl also pointed out significant people of that decade and what they did that earned them the right to be enshrined in the history books.

Karl would lecture in the classroom about a couple decades, then we would go outside and shoot. The courses of fire we shot came from those time periods, and if you had an appropriate firearm for the time period, you could use it to shoot the course. After we shot a couple courses, we’d go back inside. That was the rhythm of the day.

Gunsite 250

Weather was good, but a bit hot. Class had only four students, which was a shame. Y’all missed out on tons of fun.

Range Time

Gunsite 350

Two of the four students had taken the half-day class, and two of us (including myself) were first-timers. Three of the students opted to shoot the 4-guns. Me? I stuck with my M&P 2.0 9mm all day. I don’t own a DA/SA gun (I own the others), and while I could borrow one I opted to just keep it simple for the day. I actually think doing that gave me some good perspectives, which I’ll talk about later. I did shoot from my IWB holster, but there’s no concealment drawing in class so I tucked in my shirt.

We shot 9 courses of fire:

  • FBI 1945
  • Army 1935
  • Gunsite 250
  • Gunsite 350
  • FBI 1986
  • Marine (Advanced) Combat Pistol Course 2013
  • A local police department’s qual
  • FBI 2013

FBI 1986

Ran through about 400 rounds of ammo.

What Did I Learn?

This is not a class for learning how to shoot – this is a history class. You’re here to learn history.

US Marines (Advanced) Combat Pistol Course 2013

There’s no time spent on teaching you how to shoot, correcting your problems, or other such things. You need to come to this class already knowing how to shoot. But if you’re not awesome that’s OK – come anyways, because shooting the drills is really more about the experience and having a tangible aspect to the history lessons. If there is any “skills teaching” it’s to teach skills of the time period. For example, we spent some time with SIRT pistols to learn the proper FBI “hip shoot and crouch” position. We also did some dry work on the Weaver stance, not so much to teach it, but to help overcome our ingrained use of Isosceles. So again, you’re learning history.

When it came to the classroom portions, it was chock full of information. Yes I recognized a lot of events and names, but then it was cool to hear about some pivotal person and have a “Oh, so that’s where that came from!” moment.

One especially cool thing? Seeing how much “the times” affected the state of handgunning. Like developments in printing (magazines), or the advent of home-video, and how those cultural and technological changes outside of the gun world ended up having a big impact on the gun world.

It was also cool to see how one decade fed into the next. How things like cowboy quick draw gave rise to IPSC, and why the Gunsite Standards put so much emphasis on fast draws and fast shooting.

In fact, that was a neat thing to observe in terms of the courses of fire. You could see why a qual was developed as it was. Where emphasis was placed (and where it wasn’t). Seeing the qual in its (historical) context gave deeper understanding of the qual. Then to see how quals changed over time, especially since we shot three versions of FBI quals.

As for shooting…

Local PD qual

Those guys back in the 30’s and 40’s could shoot. You had to! They were shooting double-action revolvers, they were reloading from loose rounds, and were shooting at 25 and 50 yards under tight time constraints and tough scoring. You had to move quickly, and be highly accurate.

That’s where I had some interesting insight in shooting my M&P. When we were shooting at 25 and 50 yards, of course I was going slow. When it was time to reload I would do a reload, but of course mine was much easier than reloading a revolver from loose rounds. Even still, I’d find myself feeling the pressure of the timer. I found myself thinking that here I am with all this modern convenience and still feeling it, when those guys had double-action revolvers, loose rounds, and then even less time to get things done. And they managed to do it. It’s some tough stuff!

Pictures of the targets afterwards and simple point scores don’t tell the complete story of my shooting. No problems out to 15 yards. But 25, 35, and 50 yards? That’s where I lost points. I am happy for the time I’ve spent in the past year on longer distance shooting, because I finally figured out what I need to do, what I need to see, and how to do it — I just need to do it more consistently. So I was pretty happy with a lot of my longer distance shooting, I just have a lot of room to improve.

Another good thing? The work I put in towards my USPSA classification paid off with my drawstroke. I can get the gun out of the holster pretty quick, then slow down and shoot. The quick draw gives more time for slow shooting, y’know? Or in the case of something like the Gunsite standards, the quick draw just lets you do the course of fire.

FBI 2013

When looking at my performance, we were joking that I came into my own around the 1970’s. Seems about right. 🙂

What didn’t I like about the class? It’s too short. Karl could really only touch lightly on some topics, but that makes sense. I mean, covering almost 100 years of history and there’s only so much you can do. Some things got missed, and Karl made notes to himself about people and events to add. Some things we’d start going down a rabbit hole on, but Karl’s pretty good about time management and would cut things off and keep things moving. The one-day format is good, but I know the real gem is going to be the 2-day version of this class.

Karl also provided us a list of books, which he’s going to continue to expand. My reading list is pretty backed up as it is, and now it’s got even more in the queue.

Really folks, this was a fun one. Most other times when I take a class there’s some point or purpose. I’m trying to gain a certification, or I’m trying to focus on getting better at something. But here? It was just fun. The history was fun. The shooting was fun. The whole day was just so much fun. Nothing but smiles from everyone there all day. Even when we were stinking up the joint, it was so much fun. It was great to just get out and shoot, and gain some deeper knowledge about the history of handgunning.

What’s cool? Karl’s taking this course on the road. Stay tuned to the KR Training website, Facebook page, and get on the mailing list to know when it will be coming to a range near you.

My scorecard. Shot my M&P 2.0 9mm (full size). 25yd, 35yd, 50yd shooting is hard (for me).

Ed Head’s Practice Drill

A little while ago, Karl and I went out and shot a drill from Gunsite Instructor Ed Head. It’s a good drill in our continued study of Minimum Competency.

Here’s a video of us demonstrating it:

And here’s Karl’s analysis. Karl has a few suggestions to make it a stronger standard, and how you can use the drill in your own practice to improve your skills.

Sep. 1, 2017 – New Laws in Texas

OK, I’m a day late, but as of September 1, 2017 a whole bunch of new laws go into effect in Texas.

I’m going to highlight a few, that would be particularly relevant to typical readers.

HB 1935 – knife changes

Knife Rights actually has the best summary and coverage of these changes.

All “illegal knives” (Penal Code Sec. 46.01(6)) that were previously prohibited to carry (Penal Code Sec. 46.02) will be removed from Texas statute:  This list includes: knives with blades longer than 5.5 inches, hand instrument designed to cut or stab another by being thrown, daggers, dirks, stilettos, poniards, swords, spears and Bowie knives. 

NOTE: Knives that incorporate “knuckles” as part of the handle (Penal Code Sec. 46.01(8)), such as the iconic Model 1918 WWI Trench Knife and similar, remain illegal to possess in Texas (Penal Code Sec. 46.05(2)). 

NOTE: Tomahawks remain classified as “clubs” (Penal Code Sec. 46.01(1)(D)) that are still illegal to carry (Penal Code Sec. 46.02) in Texas.

BOTTOM LINE Summary: Any adult can carry any knife legal to possess anywhere as long as it is not over five and a half (5.5) inches.  You can carry longer knives almost everywhere, except as noted below.  There is no separate rule for concealed carry, you may carry open or concealed, however you want.  There is no limit on the number of knives you can carry.

The interesting thing that happened was just as this bill was to be voted on, there was a horrific stabbing on the campus of the University of Texas. A compromise was added to the bill to create a new term: “location restricted knife” which is defined as a knife with a blade over 5.5″. The restricted locations mirror a lot of the concealed carried restricted locations like racetracks, polling places, 51% signs, etc..  There are some additional restrictions for people under the age of 18.

SB16 – Reduced LTC fees

That’s it – LTC fees are reduced. So long $140, hello $40.

SB263 – removal of LTC qualification caliber requirement

This removes the minimum .32 caliber requirement for the LTC qualification. Note: the law only ever pertained to the qualification/test – you could carry a .22, you just couldn’t qualify with it. But now you can.

Personal note: I hope people won’t use this as a way to make up for lack of skill. That was the whole reason for it: so someone couldn’t come in and pass with a .22 then think they could carry a .44 — gaming the system. And believe me, people would (I’ve even seen some embarrassing behavior during Instructor qualifications). But it was always a problem because there are just some people that cannot handle even a .32 but can a .22 (think handicapped, elderly, etc.). I am happy for the removal of this requirement, and I can only hope people will do right by it. Because if you “cheat the system” well… you’re truly only cheating yourself.

HB 435 helps out volunteer first responders.

HB 1819 updates Texas law should the Hearing Protection Act pass on the Federal level. As a nice side-effect, it fixes some weirdness in the law and yes the Mossberg 590 Shockwave is now legal in Texas. Yes, I want one of these.

HB 3784 allows for online LTC to become a thing. This has generated some controversy – or perhaps more accurately, resentment – amongst the LTC Instructor base. I can’t blame them, but on the same token welcome to the modern era. Perasonaly, I feel like this could become a better thing in the long run. It could allow for more uniform curriculum results with some better assurance that the citizenry was getting good information (I’ve heard horror stories about how some LTC Instructors behave). It could also bring an uptick in license-holders, because now they can take the course at their convenience (e.g. late night, after work). Also, there will still be a required range time, and now there’s requirement to actually spend some time working with the students on safety and proficiency (before, it was only really required to shoot the test). So I have hopes in the long run this will mean better things for the program. Time will tell.

HB 421 helps places of worship regarding voluntary security services. Note it didn’t pass, but did make it as an amendment to SB 2065.

HB 1692 permits the storage of a handgun in a school parking lot by an LTC holder. But it didn’t pass as-is, but made it as an amendment to SB 1566.

It may not have been the legislative year that a lot of people were hoping for, but while small changes, they were good changes.

Me? I’m happy about the knife changes, and eventually buying a Shockwave. 🙂

More Perspectives on Minimum Competency

Four years ago I wrote about Minimum Competency for Defensive Pistol. Since then, I’ve had additional writings on the topic. I’m not the only one that cares about this topic. A couple of days ago I saw a summary of a presentation from John Corriea of Active Self Protection and was going to write on it, but Mark Luell over at Growing up Guns beat me to it!

In fact, Mark’s write-up is even better, so I’ll just link to his article: Meta: Critical Skills and Goals for Personal Protection.

In his meta-article, Mark examines the findings from various trainers:

What’s good to see is the overlap. People who study and research this area, and what their conclusions are – and while we do different work, how we tend to reach the same conclusions.

As Tom Givens would say, “That’s what we call a clue.”

Much of this data isn’t new to me, but sometimes seeing the same data presented in a new manner helps you view the data in a new light. Mark’s post did that for me.

Reading Claude’s findings really helps to hit home what is and isn’t important in the context of self-defense firearms skills. For example, retrieving the handgun is a pretty important skill, so however you carry/store your firearm, you better be able to retrieve it successfully. Reloading? Not so much (it’s arguable since you have to load, reload, and unload a firearm just to use it, so long as you do that in a disciplined manner that’s all you really need).

I always love watching John’s videos and analysis. It’s one thing the magic of CCTV, security cameras, camera phones, and YouTube (DailyMotion, Worldstar, etc.) has brought to us: real fights, real incidents, and we can see how they work, how they unfold, how brutal they can be, the realities of what happens, and what we can learn from it. I think John’s collection has done a lot to dispel false notions and beliefs about what goes on, and really give people a good dose of reality.

I regret missing an opportunity to train with Darryl and look forward to that opportunity. There’s a lot of good and unique stuff in Darryl’s notes, but one that stood out to me is the split times. I’ve wondered about doing a long block of training forcing myself to shoot to that standard and seeing what it did for me. I think it would be quite insightful.

John Hearne is becoming the E.F. Hutton of the firearms training community: when he talks, you should listen. His examination and study of human performance is a higher-order topic, but a vital one towards really understanding and working to maximize performance. It helps steer training, both as instructors with curriculum and individuals determining what skills to focus on. I especially like the last point about training emotional control.

Give a read to Mark’s meta-post. Seek these people out. Read what they write. Take classes from them if you can. You will be better for it.

I had no idea I was such a badass…

The joys of posting pictures on the Internet is sooner or later someone reuses them for their own purposes.

My friend Ed found this:

That’s a picture of me, shooting at KR Training. I do remember the picture, but I don’t recall the exact circumstances of it. (Updated: now I remember! I was T&E’ing a Wilson Combat Spec-Ops 9…)

I’m not going to link to the page in question (why give them the SEO and traffic?), but you can see it in the address bar of the screenshot. (Updated: while they aren’t hotlinking to the image, they did just download and reupload it with the original filename intact: “WilsonSpecOps-Hsoi.jpg”).

It’s someone reviewing/selling an eBook on how to shoot, and you can tell from the screenshot copy that it’s pretty badass…

Some of the other screenshots? They’re from video games. I will say I’m in good company tho, because they also have a shot of Mike Seeklander (taken from the Cheaper Than Dirt website).

Between me, Mike, and all those video games, the webpage is pretty convincing that this is a solid program. Apparently it has “has an impressive table of contents”. Also, “you are going to discover the tricks and techniques that wil help you own and sway the battle to be in your control so that you won’t have to fear anything that happens when you are schooling your opponents in the art of fighting like a soldier.”

Best of all?

“This book has the potential to help you become the best that there is. This is not a joke. Do not fear that it may be a scam as the author is an expert who knows what he is talking about and you can take his word for it.”

And you can take this website’s word for that. Much credible. Such authority.

I’m not going to get too bent out of shape over it (until I’m given reason to). I just find it funny. Sad, because someone probably did get parted with their money over this, but funny.

Want to attend Paul-E-Palooza 4?

Want to attend Paul-E-Palooza 4?

Want to do it for free?

I can’t help you with the “free” part, but KR Training can cover the cost of the event fee.

Karl’s offering up a scholarship. Click-through and find out how.