The 5th Annual Paul T. Martin Preparedness Conference

Folks: the 5th Annual Paul T. Martin Preparedness Conference has been announced for  Saturday January 7, 2017 at the Cabela’s in Buda, Texas.

Click/Tap here for full details.

It’s only $60, and it covers a LOT of good stuff. Of the speakers list, I’m really looking forward to hearing from Jack Jania again – but that’s just the tech geek in me. 🙂

The thing I love about Paul? He’s a down-to-earth guy. “Prepping” isn’t about hoarding guns and food because zombie apocalypse – I know that’s the popular image (stereotype) that people get when they hear the word “prepping” or “prepper”. It’s about understanding that life brings about the unexpected, and with a little forethought, planning, and work, you can be prepared for “shit happening” and it won’t be so traumatic when it inevitably does.

For example, do you have a will?

Do you have proper insurance? both types and coverage levels?

Are you in good health?

Being a prepper starts with stuff like that, not stockpiling MREs and ammo. Yeah I know, it’s not sexy, but when things like Hurricane Matthew make landfall, having your ducks in a row BEFORE the hurricane hits – instead of how people run to the store for bread and milk the hours before stormy weather hits – can do your health and peace of mind a world of good.

Come to the conference. I’ve presented at 2 of them, and attended what schedule has permitted. I’m going to attend this one. I hope to see you there!

Paranoid or prepared? It’s your perspective.

I’m sure at some point in your life someone called you paranoid for something you considered just being prepared.

To be prepared or paranoid, it’s a matter of your own perspective.

For example, to keep food, water, and other “survival supplies” in your car may seem like an unnecessary and paranoid thing to do, right? I mean, “what are you afraid of?” would be the common refrain. But consider about 1500 motorists, stranded on Interstate 12 in Louisiana due to massive flooding. Louisiana State Police used helicopters to airlift food and water to these people.

But perhaps it’s just a consequence of being in the southern part of the United States. I remember when I lived up north, it was a ritual as wintertime approached to put various supplies in your car, like blankets and some food and water, because getting stuck in a snowstorm was a very real possibility. If you didn’t prepare your car this way, you were considered stupid.

Prepared? Paranoid? All about your perspective.

Some years ago the family had a day planned for SeaWorld. Of course, being SeaWorld you (should) expect to get wet, so we planned and dressed accordingly. As the day drew near, weather forecasts predicted rain. What did I do? I packed raincoats. No reason to cancel the day, because again you expect to get wet. But it’s miserable walking around in the rain, and inconvenient to use umbrellas, so raincoats. Of course, some looked at us as weird because you just don’t go into a vacation event expecting “bad things” – the day should be sunny and happy, right? But Mother Nature didn’t consult me in making her plans, so I had to work with her plans. Of course it started raining. What did we observe? The other park patrons all rushed to the gift shops and bought SeaWorld-branded rain ponchos – we were the only people in the entire park with our own rain gear (of any sort). We were only considered paranoid until we needed it, and then we were considered prepared.


Before you start labeling someone “paranoid”, step back and remember your empathy. Try to see it from their perspective. Nothing says you have to agree with them, but hopefully you can at least understand them.

Review: PHLster Flatpack Tourniquet Carrier

What follows is my (initial impressions) review of the PHLster Flatpack™ Tourniquet Carrier.


So I blame Caleb Causey @ Lone Star Medics for all of this. 🙂 For some years now I’ve been trying to find a way to carry a tourniquet as a part of my every day carry (EDC). Alas, there’s been no good solution.

Caleb’s preferred solution is an ankle-wrap, which is a fantastic solution. But it doesn’t work for me, because I like wearing shorts. Plus, enough heat, sweat, etc. and my skin starts to get irritated. So a solution like that just is not feasible for me.

Caleb helped me look at a lot of solutions, such as various pouches, MOLLE, and various things. Alas, nothing really worked. Some time ago I found some excellent pouches from Eleven10 Gear. I do think they make some great TQ pouches, but I just did not find them workable for EDC. It’s not really the fault of the pouches, but of the TQ itself. Any good tourniquet, like a SOF-TT Wide or a C-A-T is just going to be of particular dimensions and constraints due to the windlass. If the TQ rides vertically, then it’s really tall and that windless is a stick in your back. And no one was really making horizontal solutions. For the record, I do still have my Eleven10 pouches and one rides in my range bag so I can keep one easily on-hand while working at KR Training. Again, fine products, but I just did not find them suitable for my EDC because it was either very uncomfortable, or the sheer dimensions and resulting thickness of the whole schebang was unconcealable.

Oh, and I refuse to use any other sort of TQ because well… they just haven’t demonstrated effective. I defer to the expertise of folks, like Caleb Causey, on this topic. And personally, I prefer the SOF-TT Wide.

The quest continued. I’d have a TQ somewhere, like in a bag, but those bags aren’t always in immediate proximity and that’s really what I’d like.

So when Facebook auto-stalked a comment Caleb made to the BFE Labs page, it was one time I was thankful for Facebook’s auto-stalk “feature”. I immediately expressed interest, and the folks at BFE were kind enough to post some pictures to show dimensions and size. This PHLster Flatpack seemed to be the answer to my problems!

I ordered two.

My Impressions

It’s a simple thing, as you can see in pictures and video. And it should be able to accommodate your favorite big-windlass TQ. But yes, you MUST fold it a certain way to get the TQ to pack as flat as possible.

When you do, it’s quite flat:

PHLstr Flatpack™ TQ Carrier, and a S&W M&P9 magazine.

That was the best part! On my belt, this was no thicker than anything else I already carried. Yes, it takes up more room because it runs horizontal, but it conceals just fine.

I was pretty stoked. 🙂

And once you learn how to fold the TQ that way, you almost don’t want to ever fold it any other way.

I think construction is generally good. Loops are made for 1.5″ belt and generally sturdy construction. I appreciate the use of the shock-cord and that there’s ways to adjust it because different TQ styles and fittings. BUT to me that’s also a potential downside: shock cord will wear out and eventually snap. Easy enough to fix, but having it decide to break while you’re out and about isn’t ideal. Not a knock against the design, just reality of using shock cord. I also worry that the attachments of the shock may come undone and release the TQ. So far not an issue, but I also haven’t subjected it to harsh stuff like rolling around on the ground, etc.. As well, the TQ is totally exposed — the only thing “protecting” it is your shirt. Is that going to be good? I mean, it’s a TQ… dust, dirt, etc. getting into it? other exposure. Or just simply friction wear from things rubbing against it all day? I mean, give a read to Caleb’s recent article about TQ failure. Is that going to be good or bad? vs. say a more covered “pouch” approach? But of course, the lack of pouch is what helps the slim design.

So it’s a trade-off, and a design that I reckon is still to be vetted.

Still, I appreciate these guys are trying to come up with something.

So… wearing it.

I’m wearing it at the 4-5 o’clock position — it’s the only place I have room on my belt. My wife calls it my Batman Utility Belt because yes, I wear stuff all over it. Consequently, that dictated where I wore it because that’s the only place I have left. But in a way it’s good because that position was a “hole” and this balanced things out — especially when I leaned back into a chair.

Generally I have no idea it’s there, and as I said before, it conceals quite well.

But it’s not perfect. The nature of it wobbles; just how it’s built, attached, and the fact it’s cloth just bungied to a board. So sometimes when I sit down I have to reposition myself to get it to drop or shift to a more comfortable position. It’s a little harder if I lay down, and I do have to reposition myself until I get it placed more comfortable. If it was a full kydex (or leather or whatever) covering it, fixed attachments to the belt, etc. I wonder how this might change — tho it could change for the worse too because perhaps the flexibility helps find the right position.

All in all tho I’ve been happy with the construction and approach, and it’s nice to know I’ve got something should I need it.

I did find another snag — literally. I can’t draw. 😦 Because of my body shape, clothing, position on my belt relative to everything else… I can’t draw. I go to lift my shirt and the Flatpack (well, the TQ mounted on the Flatpack) perfectly snags my shirt almost every time and makes it impossible to lift up. I can get around it if I reach REALLY far back when I lift my shirt… or if I do things like lean backwards (towards 4:30 or so) so the shirt lifts at a different angle — but these are totally not feasible workarounds. And if it was a fully covered pouch it MIGHT help because it’d be smooth with rounded corners, but there’s no guarantee it wouldn’t have the same problem. So the solution here is carrying it in a different location, but I really can’t — the things on my left-back have to be there and can’t be relocated, and I can’t wear it up front. However, up front may be my only possible, but I’m not really hot about that for some reasons as to why AIWB isn’t working for me.

So… I don’t know.

This is the closest solution I’ve found, but it’s causing some serious issues for me. I don’t think the product is bad — I think it has a place and people should consider it for sure. I think ankle rig is really good because you can carry more than just a TQ — and to me, I think you really need more than a TQ, but then you need a way to carry it which generally means some sort of bag/kit on or about you. My briefcase is pretty stocked, but I don’t carry my briefcase everywhere.

I think the Flatpack design is a worthwhile attempt. I think it’s going to need some time (read: years) to fully vet the design. People wearing it in daily carry, to more rough-and-tumble classes, and just really giving it a work-out to ensure this design is really going to work. I think there’s a lot of good things here, and frankly it may be the right solution for YOU. Consider what the product offers, what it is, what it is not, what your situation is, what freedoms and limitations you operate within. It may be right for you. If you’re not sure if it’s right, pick one up and give it a try because you really won’t know for certain until you do.

As for me, I’m not willing to give up on it entirely, but I have taken it off my belt until I can think of a way to make it work for me.

New Experiment

Look what I recently picked up:

Been wearing another one (with a SOF-T Wide) for a little bit now.

Full report later.

Gone Preppin’

I’m off to speak at the 2016 Paul T. Martin Preparedness Conference

If you’re not there? Well, you missed out.


2016 Paul T. Martin Preparedness Conference

Have you registered yet for the 2016 Paul T. Martin Preparedness Conference?

It’s almost here: Saturday, January 9, 2016 at the Cabela’s in Buda, TX.

There’s a Mega door prize – a weekend getaway to a beach house in Port Aransas!

Alas, while I’ll be at the Conference, I won’t be qualified to win the door prize. Why? Because I’m one of the Conference presenters!

John Daub of Hsoi Enterprises on Preparing for the Aftermath of a Self Defense Incident. Self-defense incidents involve far more than just the moment of the incident itself; there’s an aftermath of legal, social, and emotional issues. John Daub will be discussing these issues and how to prepare yourself to handle the aftermath of a self-defense incident.

There’s a lot of other great topics being discussed, including the fresh Open Carry laws (that will have been in effect in Texas just 9 days as of the Conference) and one I’m especially interested in: Allen Codding, DVM on Pet Preparedness Strategies.

There’s a lot of great topics on the schedule at this 4th annual conference.

Hope to see you there!

How often do you inspect your equipment?

The title says it all:

How often do you inspect your equipment?

It doesn’t matter the context. If you have equipment you rely upon, it should get some sort of periodic inspection.

When was the last time you checked the air pressure in the tires of your car? Or the oil? Or the washer fluid? How about if all of the exterior lights (turn signals, brakes, backup lights, etc.) work?

How about the fire extinguisher in your kitchen? The smoke detectors in the house?

The backup system for your computer (e.g. Mac OS X’s Time Machine). When was the last backup run? Is everything in order?

The list can go on.

I’m far from perfect in this. I’m like you: busy, with a lot of things on my plate and in my head. I can’t remember everything, and things do slip through the cracks. For example, I wear a kydex pouch on my belt to carry my flashlight and a spare magazine. A few weeks ago I realized that one of the belt clips had started to crack. I’m glad I caught it because it wasn’t too long before it fully broke. I was able to get a replacement ordered in time.

Funny thing tho? The replacement wasn’t properly made so I had to send it back (they did correct things; a topic for another time). Thus I was without the pouch for a little while. I used my rotary tool to cut off the broken parts and whittled it down to just a flashlight pouch. But what to do about carrying a spare magazine? While I do have other mag pouches, it would have made EDC cumbersome. So, a DeSantis Mag-Packer to the rescue. It was good to have some sort of equipment redundancy.

Friend of mine had a similar issue with the flashlight in his car’s glove compartment. The bulb fried somehow, and SureFire is going to take care of it. But better that he found out now instead of when he was stranded roadside at night needing to change his tire.

Any equipment and things you rely upon, inspect them. Fix them. Replace them. Do whatever is needed, so when you have to call on your equipment, it’ll be there.

2015 Suburban Dad Survivalist Preparedness Conference


Time to sign up for the 2015 Suburban Dad Survivalist Preparedness Conference.

Another great line-up of speakers and topics for the day. Paul does a solid job of taking feedback from each conference and working to make the next one better.

Alas, I won’t be able to make this one (youth hunting weekend with the kiddos), but you should be there… all the cool kids are doing it. 🙂

Minimum Competency for Defensive Pistol – Revisited Again

I just re-read an article from Claude Werner on “Practice priorities for the Armed Citizen“. (h/t Greg Ellifritz). As I was reading it, it reminded me of my article series on “Minimum Competency for Defensive Pistol“. I did revisit the series a few months back, but Claude’s article gave me a few more things to think about, and perhaps revise/refine in my suggestions for practice and skills progression.

Claude speaks about a progression, a “where do I go from here?” sort of thing. Claude offers his own suggestions, like the NRA Defensive Pistol Qualification. But what really got me was pointing out a key problem most people have when it comes to live fire practice:

Most people have to limit their livefire practice to indoor ranges where drawing from the holster is not allowed. This presents an issue to those who carry pistol in holsters. There are solutions, though.

Indeed this is a problem. I’ve gotten quite spoiled at KR Training and with the host of good ranges around Austin where you can do things like practice drawing from a holster. Of course, there are still those people that go to one of the local indoor ranges that have these restrictions, and of course others around the country tend to have these restrictions as well. I overlooked that reality. Claude offers:

Like many of my colleagues, for a long time I said the hard part of the drawstroke is establishing grip. I’ve changed my opinion on that. The hard part of the drawstroke is getting the pistol indexed on the target enough to get a good hit with the first shot. John Shaw, a World Champion shooter, clued me in to this many years ago. Note that I didn’t say a ‘perfect’ hit.

Indexing the pistol to the target (presentation) is easily practiced from a high ready position starting at the pectoral muscle of the body’s dominant side. Starting this way is not generally a problem at an indoor range. And since I recommend practicing one shot per presentation, the ‘no rapid fire’ limitation at many indoor ranges isn’t an issue either.

This is one of those smack your head because you wish you could have had a V-8 sort of moments. What Claude writes is so true. The press-out, the presentation, whatever you want to call it, it’s the hardest part and such a vital skill. When you draw? You then must press-out. After a reload? You must press out. Clear a malfunction? You must press out. The press out is such a vital skill (it’s a key thing stressed in so many of the KR Training courses). And yes, you can practice this at the indoor ranges. You can start from that high, compressed ready position (step 3 of the 4-step drawstroke), and press out and break one shot. While you might end up eventually moving fast in doing this, your single-shots will still be “slow” relative to each other (i.e. you’re not double-tapping) and thus no range rules broken. So so so true, and so important.

Thank you Claude for my “V-8 moment”. Regardless if you take a progression like Claude recommends or I recommend, the underlying issue remains the same: that you’ll use some particular course of fire (e.g. TX CHL test), assess your skills, then focus on improving the areas you identified as weak. For example, my last live-fire practice session I shot numerous drills not so much to shoot the drills (i.e. throw lead in a semi-organized manner), but to exercise the fundamental skills I consider important and identify what I was doing well and what I needed work on. I saw I needed to move faster, and doing a lot of one-shot draws are in my future. So yes, working that press-out is in my future.

Another thing Claude touched on.

…to get a good hit with the first shot…. Note that I didn’t say a ‘perfect’ hit.


What I like about it most is that it is a 100 percent standard, not 70 or 80 percent like a qualification course. We need to accustom ourselves to the concept that if we shoot at a criminal, ALL the rounds we fire must hit the target. That’s being responsible.

These remind me of my concept of “(un)acceptable hit“. I just prefer that phrasing over “good hit” or “miss”, because like Claude said, it’s not necessarily a “perfect” hit. It’s also understanding that all the rounds must hit what we need it to hit; we must make acceptable hits.

Thanx, Claude!

Minimum Competency for Defensive Pistol – Revisited

I’d like to revisit a series I wrote some months ago about “Minimum Competency for Defensive Pistol“.

After presenting the series at the 2nd Annual SDS Conference, I looked at how I did and coupled that with some feedback I received from an attendee whose opinion I greatly value (thanx, Sam!). His assessment and feedback reinforced my own thoughts on my performance, and with that, I figured it was right to revisit some things.


The presentation itself? I thought I could have done better. I realized as I was putting the presentation together that I had organized it well for serialized presentation on the blog, but that didn’t lend so well to a public speaking forum. Alas, I didn’t have time to revise the presentation, so I presented it with only minor adjustment. It went over alright, but I know there was structure I could have improved.

One of the biggest parts? I spent a good deal of time talking about defining minimum standards, but not enough on how one can go about achieving them. Again, this worked well for the serialized blog presentation, but wasn’t as engaging for a listening audience.

I also realized, I never explicitly defined a drill or other test that helps one assess meeting those minimum standards. I implied it to be the “3 Seconds or Less” drill, but as it stands now? Well….

On Minimum Standards

If you haven’t, go back and read the original article so you can be aware of the foundation.

In the end, I think “minimum competency for defensive pistol skills” lies with the ability to:

  • Draw from concealment
    • Perhaps with movement (sidestep) on the draw)
  • Make multiple, acceptable hits
  • In a small area
  • From close range
    • Think “within a car length” (0-5 yards)
  • Quickly
    • 3 seconds or less
  • Using both hands
    • Enables multiple acceptable hits, quickly

Skills beyond that (one-handed shooting, reloading, malfunction remedy) are useful but above minimal. And of course, both safety and etiquette are expected.

Remember: this is about “minimal”. Put it this way. You have a friend whose crazy ex is now stalking them, threatening to do them harm. They have the restraining order, but they know how useful that is so they choose to get a gun. You have an afternoon to get them some basic skills. What is most vital for them to learn how to do? That’s what I’m talking about.

So yes, I was figuring the “3 Seconds or Less” drill was a good answer to this question. But now? Not so much.

Karl has evolved the drill. One change was in the ordering of the course of fire, merely to facilitate running the drill (eased the ammo and reload requirements so you could more easily run it with semi-autos or revolvers). That sort of change doesn’t really matter towards answering the question, and frankly it’s a good revision.

But Karl also changed the content of the drill. For example, in the current version of the drill there’s a reload, some walking backwards while shooting, and a turning draw; none of these were present in the original version of the drill.

This is why I think this drill no longer answers the question: it involves skills that are above minimal. This makes sense for the context in which Karl uses it: as a core test for KR Training’s “Defensive Pistol Skills” course progression. However, it is doing more than minimal, so it’s not strictly the correct answer for “minimum competency”.

That said, I’ve maintained that minimum competency is not good enough. You need to work to a higher standard (that Paul Ford comment about 70% of your worst day). I would say the current “3 Seconds or Less” drill is a good “higher standard” to work towards. Other good “higher standards” would be:

But again, this is higher. We’re talking minimal.

A Possible Minimal Drill?

As much as I hate to say it, I think the Texas CHL test COULD be it.

But it needs work.

Here’s the drill:

  • 3 yards
    • 1 shot, 2 sec., 5x
    • 2 shots, 3 sec., 5x
    • 5 shots, 10 sec., 1x
  • 7 yards
    • 5 shots, 10 sec., 1x
    • 2 shots, 4 sec., 1x
    • 3 shots, 6 sec., 1x
    • 1 shot, 3 sec., 5x
    • 5 shots, 15 sec., 1x
  • 15 yards
    • 2 shots, 6 sec., 1x
    • 3 shots, 9 sec., 1x
    • 5 shots, 15 sec., 1x

Here’s how it could be changed to make it a better test of minimum competency:

  • Needs to be shot from concealment
    • Current test has you working off a bench, and shooting from a ready position. Unrealistic.
    • Must shoot from concealment, whatever your chosen carry and concealment method would be. If that’s from a hip holster under your shirt, fine. Pocket carry, fine. If that’s from a purse, fine.
  • Use a better target
    • The B-27 is like hitting a barn wall. Furthermore, it’s not anatomically correct.
    • Use a target like an IPSC or IDPA target. There are a host of such targets out there. The key is a target that provides a smaller “acceptable hit” zone, and that is anatomically correct.
    • Make scoring more difficult. It’s “hit or miss”, “acceptable or unacceptable”. There is no graduated scoring scale, it either is or is not. If it’s on a line, if it’s questionable, score it unacceptable. 90% minimum score, or better, 100%.
  • Do not adjust the listed par times.
    • Having to shoot from concealment adds enough time to make the published par times more difficult.
    • This could be debated, and probably debated per-string. Like the first string (3 yards, 1 shot, 2 seconds) is probably sufficient, but the last 3 yard string (5 shots, 10 seconds), should that time be lowered? Probably, but this is splitting hairs at this point. Keep it simple and keep the test as written. These other modifications are more important.
  • The 15 yard strings are debatable.
    • That’s a pretty long car…
    • If I was using my above example of needing to get a friend some quick skills in an afternoon, I’d focus on the 3 yards, then on the 7 yards; I’d skip the 15 yards.

Shooting the TX CHL test with these changes (call it “TX-CHL++”, that’s “Texas CHL plus plus”) doesn’t make you any sort of bad-ass gunfighter, but I think it does a fair job at addressing the minimum requirements.

Remember: the intent of trying to establish “minimum competency” is because we, as humans, tend to overestimate our skills and abilities. We tend to think we have the skills, that we’ll handle ourselves just fine when the flag flies. It’s better to test yourself against standards such as these to see if you really do or do not. It’s better to have a dose of reality now, when you can afford it and can then work to remedy any shortcomings.

How to get there

So you’ve shot some tests and determined you need some work. How to get there?

After talking with Sam, I felt like maybe there should be a program to help you out. Like when doing all this weight lifting, a program like Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 program is a great way to get going and address a lot of things. Could such a program be devised for shooting? I think so. Look at the books and DVD’s from Mike Seeklander. He takes a bit of a different approach, but that could certainly get you there.

I think in most regards it’s going to come down to the individual. What is your learning style like? Are you self-motivated?  Do you have enough to be able to self-diagnose and improve? In the beginning, we all need good teachers, and there are good schools and instructors out there. Take advantage of those opportunities to have a teacher, a mentor. There’s a lot of DVD product coming out that can be a help for sure, but I’ve found that those tend to be most useful to folks that already have a clue. You don’t have a be a master, but a rank beginner is going to get a lot more from having a real instructor looking over their shoulder, that can see precisely what’s going on and offer ways to correct, improve, and progress.

You have to practice the things you don’t want to practice. You have to be willing to push yourself outside your comfort zone. And I think another key factor is having a tangible goal. You can have a lofty goal, then break it up into smaller milestones. Perhaps it starts with shooting the TX-CHL++ clean with no time limits. Then you work towards the time-limits. Then you pick a harder standard, like the Farnam Drill, with a 15 second par, then 14 second. As you work, you’ll find where your weaknesses are and use dry fire practice to improve those. And so on. Be willing to be patient, but work consistently.

In the end, the desire is improvement. That we understand what “minimum acceptable” is so we can ensure we’re at least that, but then work to exceed it. Set a new level, then rise above it. And so on, and so on.