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

Folks:

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.

Also:

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.

Presentation

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.

2nd Annual SDS Conference – AAR

Wow! What an awesome day!

I just returned from a day at Cabela’s. Yes, that’s cool in and of itself, but I was there not to shop but to present and learn. Paul Martin, the Suburban Dad Survivalist, was holding his 2nd Annual Preparedness Conference. If you weren’t there, you miss out on a lot of learning.

I know. You’re seeing the word “survivalist” and “preparedness” and conjuring up images of paranoid loonies stockpiling food and ammo in their compounds because the great Obama devil is destroying ‘murica, right?

Pul-leez.

There is nothing bad about being prepared. Ask any Boy Scout. Ask anyone that realizes the speech they have to present goes over better if they research and rehearse ahead of time. Same for the musician that practices and nails their performance. You have insurance, right? What are you afraid of? You wear a seat belt in the car, right? Are you paranoid? You have smoke detectors and fire extinguishers in your house, so that means you’re afraid of fire, right? Well, yeah… to some extent sure. But instead of just being afraid of what could happen, you acknowledge it, accept it, and prepare for it. Thus if it does happen, you can do something better than panic and freeze.

Being prepared is a good thing.

Today’s topics reflected that. We had presenters talking about risk assessment, how to start a backyard garden, how to can the food you grow in that garden, minimum standards for defensive handgun, improvised weapons, and bug-out bags and preparations. Quite a range of topics for a single day, and it could only scratch the surface. And while I was a presenter, I was more happy to have attended the day — I learned a LOT. It was simply fantastic.

Either you were there, or you missed out.

Stay tuned. I know Paul’s looking at doing a workshop this summer, and I’m willing to be there will be a 3rd conference. Don’t miss this stuff. It’s just too valuable. In fact, it’s so valuable, I brought the whole family. Everyone enjoyed the day.

Thank you, Paul. Great work!

Lone Star Medics – Field & Tactical Medicine Conference 2014

Lone Star Medics is hosting a Field & Tactical Medicine Conference in Dallas, Texas on March 29-30, 2014.

Alas, I won’t be able to attend, but I wish I could. The lineup of presenters is impressive, and there’s no such thing as having too much knowledge about first aid and medicine.

 

The Second Annual Suburban Dad Survivalist Preparedness Conference

Paul Martin, known to some as “The Suburban Dad Survivalist“, is presenting the Second Annual Suburban Dad Survivalist Preparedness Conference.

The event will be held on Saturday, January 4, 2014 from 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM at the Cabela’s in Buda, Texas.

Complete details on the conference, including speakers, schedule, cost, etc. can be found at the SDS website.

I will be presenting at the conference, and look forward to seeing you there!

Prepping – because stuff happens

Local Austin news channel KEYE just did a story on Austin-Area Preppers. Featured in the story? Paul Martin, also known as The Suburban Dad Survivalist and a fellow KR Training assistant instructor.

What I appreciated about the piece was it was taken seriously. Sure, they had to tie in the “whacko survivalist” angle, but they did seem to appreciate and emphasize Paul’s practical approach — that it’s not really about zombie apocalypse:

Prepping became a passion for Paul after hurricane Andrew hit in August of 1992.

“For the next 17-days I had no electricity in my apartment in Miami in August, so it was really hot and we had to boil the water in order to drink it. From that point forward I said I’m never going to put myself or my family in that type of situation again,” says Martin.

And one thing people may not realize? That 1 year worth of stored items Paul has? It’s not necessarily just for his consumption:

“When someone is prepared that is one less person that has to rely on the government or charitable organizations to make it through the crisis and one more person who can assist others,” Martin says.

Assisting others.

Nice spot, Paul!

My new EDC Flashlight – SureFire E2D

For the past 3-4 years, I’ve carried a SureFire E2L Outdoorsman as my every day carry (EDC) flashlight. I carry a flashlight all the time and at the ready because it’s useful. I didn’t realize how useful it was until I started carrying one all the time — I use it almost every day.

But over the years of carrying the E2L, my preferences have changed and a couple months ago I started on a quest for new EDC flashlight. I’ve hit a milestone on that quest – I’ve obtained a new flashlight, a SureFire E2D LED Defender

SureFire E2D LED Defender

First, it’s important to note this is the LED model; there’s earlier versions of the E2D that were not LED. Second, you’ll note the different tailcap in the above picture; I’ll discuss that below.

Why did I pick this? Because it fit all my requirements.

  • I wanted a higher beam output than the E2L, and with 200 lumens the E2D certainly meets that.
  • It has a better beam quality, but I’ll discuss that below.
  • The first click on the E2D activates the high beam (E2L, the low beam). My needs these days find me needing “most light, right now”, which means I want the first press of the button to give me a solid beam of lots of light.
  • It has a clip, and a clip in the “right” direction for my needs. One of my biggest uses of the clip is to hang the light from the brim of my cap so I can illuminate whatever I’m looking at (hands-free), and of course the beam moves with my head and eyes.
  • High and low beams, because while much of my current needs are “most light, right now”, sometimes I need to read something or see something else, so low beam is good. And no strobe.
  • The form factor is right for my hand, for my carry, etc.. BTW, my existing Comp-Tac flashlight pouch works just fine because the E2D and E2L have just about the same form factor. I did note I needed to tighten up the pouch a little bit for the E2D to fit, but that’s not a big deal.

So… my needs were met, thus.

Regarding the beam quality, from what my eyes can tell it’s actually pretty much the same beam as the E2L. But because it’s more lumens, things just look better. So I reckon it’s not so much the beam as it was the strength. To compare, the Streamlight Super Tac-X I have also has a 200 lumen output, but the beams of the Tac-X and the E2D are different — this is due to the reflector. The Tac-X is designed to really throw that light, so the beam is a little more focused and appears to reach further. The E2D certainly reaches far, but the light is… well, the best way I can describe it is closer to a floodlight than a spotlight, but it’s certainly not some sort of “room-filling” light… it’s still more spot than a ceiling lamp, but I’d just say the E2D’s beam is a little more “spreading/filling” than the Tac-X. That’s fine for my needs, because while I do want the throw, I also need the “fill”. What I’d really like to do is get out in the country where I don’t have the light pollution of the city and really see how the beams compare.

The clip is shorter but VERY strong. It’s tough to get under it, whereas the E2L’s is longer and “looser”, very easy to get under. That’s fine, if over time it means more durability and less chance of accidental snagging of the clip.

In the few days I’ve had the light and used it, it’s worked well and I’ve been pleased. It’s what I’ve been after.

However… not everything is rosy.

SureFire E2L (top) and E2D (bottom)

See the above picture and compare the two lights. Certainly they are cut from the same cloth, the difference being the E2D has this “Defender” styling. That’s a bit of a mixed bag.

First, the crenelation is of course part of the purpose of the thing. But it’s a little sharp. While of course that’s part of the point, when you pull the light in and out of the belt pouch all day AND the light is up against your bare skin well… sometimes I skewer myself. Just annoying.

Second, the this affects the accessibility of the tailcap button. Notice in the picture you can see the E2L’s button but you cannot see the E2D’s. They rise up the same, just the E2D has the “walls” around the button. I found this made it difficult for me to activate the button. When I hold the light and hit the button with my thumb, either I’m holding it wrong or I just don’t have enough thumb meat to get that button depressed. For me to work it, I have to come at the button with my thumb pointing down into the button and use the tip of my thumb – hardly practical for me. When I grab the light, regardless of how I grab it, I should be able to just press and go, but alas, the tailcap doesn’t allow it. Thus why you see the mixed light in the top picture – I just switched to use my E2L’s tailcap. It works fine.

Third, note the texturing on the body of the flashlight. It’s a bit more aggressive on the E2D. That’s great for a grip, but in the pouch, on my belt, against my skin? It’s sandpaper. It’s not majorly uncomfortable, but there’s enough times when I bend or twist my body just so and get rubbed and it’s annoying.

All in all these annoyances are minor, but I’ve also only had the light a few days. Over time I may grow to hate them or they’ll fade into the background and I will barely notice them. Time will tell.

But for now, the E2D stays on my hip as my new EDC flashlight.