The Civilian Defender

Dr. Sherman House recently rebranded as Civilian Defender. (yes I’m a little late on this… been busy).

I’m very happy to see him embracing this mode, because it’s a great mindset and we need more people not just like Sherm, but doing what Sherm does. Promoting this mentality, this approach, it’s great stuff. If you haven’t read his essay on Becoming the Civilian Defender, you should. It’s a comprehensive look at a topic, and even if you don’t agree – well, that’s a great opportunity to continue the discussion! Because I guess the bottom line is simple: most people enter this “world” because guns, but alas most people never go beyond that thinking.

I think about some Caleb Causey of Lone Star Medics points out. He’ll ask his class how many people had been in a gunfight or seen a gunshot wound in the past year – typically no hands go up. Then he asks how many people had seen a car accident – and hands always go up. Medical skills are useful to everyone, and you’re far more likely to need medical skills in your lifetime than a gun.

And that’s a facet in the comprehensiveness of Civilian Defender.

Check it out. Again, even if you don’t agree, hopefully some thoughts are provoked and you can be spurred into action, into self-improvement in some manner.

We’re approaching that time for New Years Resolutions – so, how are you going to improve yourself in 2018?

(And as an aside, I’m with Sherm about the M&P family. Currently enjoying my M&P9 M2.0 Compact… which I’ll write more about eventually).

When your past affects your future

Dude, that’s not just a funny bumper sticker about your weekend hobby. It’s also discoverable evidence about your mindset should you ever have to defend yourself.

Kathy Jackson, Facebook post.

Recently Kathy reposted it, and I privately messaged her about it. I went private because I didn’t feel like bringing it up in public. Kathy responded:

There are some excellent points in that, John. Wish it weren’t sensitive, because it’s the type of thing that needs to be said. Lots there to ponder. Thanks for sharing it with me.

So I thought about it, and I’m sharing it here. It is important and meaningful, just a little awkward for me to globally share. But that’s OK – if my experiences and my awkwardness improves things for the grander community. I’ve edited it slightly, for composition and presentation.

The Message

That post you just shared about the cute t-shirt, anger issues, discoverable evidence…

So back when my home invasion incident happened, my lawyer wanted my online presence to go dark (a reasonable thing). So blog went private, Twitter, etc..

As I looked back on it, I realized it wouldn’t really have mattered. First, the media already combed the Internets for everything they could – it was interesting to watch the things uncovered and reported about me in the hours immediately after the incident. So they had likely already exhausted my blog.

But that’s the thing – there was no dirt to be found. My blog isn’t full of stupid shit – well, except maybe for the Sunday Metal music posts. 😉 You read my blog and find that I like music, lifting weights, and when I do write about self-defense and guns and such, it may not be something you agree with but it’s not “crazy”. In fact, a lot of what I write is reasonable enough I felt it would help my case if in fact it did go to trial. It would be (then) 7-ish years of proof as to my mindset and stance on everything.

So yeah, it’s a good lesson in living your daily life. Because you don’t get to choose the moment your past becomes relevant to your future.

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.

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.

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.

Lt. Brian Murphy – the Wisconsin Sikh Temple Shooting

Lt. Brian Murphy was the first police officer to respond to the events at a Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin on August 5, 2012. Lt. Murphy was shot 15 times – twice in the head – but fought on.

I’ve been told that if I ever had a chance to hear him speak I should listen. Well, ProArms Podcast Episode 103 features Lt. Murphy telling his story.

It’s a riveting listen.

A few things I took from it:

  1. There are evil people in this world. Monsters. I already know this, but still people go through this world in denial, and refuse to take steps to be prepared for it. All these people were doing was going to church, and for some reason that we’ll never know, this malevolent monster killed them.
  2. As I’m fond of saying, “when you’re dead, you’re dead; until then, keep fighting”. Lt. Murphy was shot 15 times – just hearing about the first shot that hit him in the head? How he didn’t die from that, how he didn’t have a psychological stop from that? He wasn’t going to quit. He wasn’t dead, so he kept fighting. Mindset. Determination. Have it.
  3. Fighting back matters. In fact, it’s the best thing you can do. Could you die? Perhaps. But then at least you’ve got a chance to live, or help others live. Around 35:00 in the podcast, Lt. Murphy tells of Satwant Singh Kaleka (President of the Gurdwara) who pleaded with the murderer, was shot, but as he was not yet dead drew his kirpan (a small ceremonial knife, not sharp), and started stabbing the monster in the leg. Then he dropped the kirpan and wrapped his hands around the monster’s leg, trying to prevent him from moving. Kaleka fought until he died. And from what Lt. Murphy later tells, Kaleka’s fighting bought time; it delayed this monster from inflicting more evil. It gave the responders more time, and it certainly saved lives (listen to the podcast, you’ll see what I mean).
  4. Time matters. Help may come, but that’s just it – it might come, and if it does come, it’s going to take time for it to get there. Meanwhile, evil continues to rampage. What could have been done to make better use of time? And yes I’ll go there: what if the Sikh were armed? Would the monster have gotten so far? When the monster was visiting the temple performing reconnaissance, if it was evident they were armed would any of this have happened?

About a year ago, Greg Ellifritz attended a different presentation from Lt. Murphy. The ProArms Podcast recording was from an event by the body armor company, so it tells of the story plus the benefits of the body armor (it’s a wee bit of a long commercial). It seems the presentation Ellifritz attended had a different approach, like it was a presentation for police officers. Read Greg’s assessment, including some critical but justified commentary from Greg.

Plain and simple. The world is overwhelming full of good people. But evil does lurk amongst us, and it doesn’t care about you, it doesn’t prescribe to your standards, morals, and ethics. However you choose to face that evil, be accepting of what your choices will bring.

Teach them not to rape? Water control?

Three teens were arrested for breaking into the home of a young mother in Georgia — where they stunned her with Tasers, scalded her with boiling water and raped her in front of one of her sons, police said.

full story

If you want the full, vile, horrid details of what these animals did, click through and read the full story.

But really, the one sentence is all you need.

Imagine if that young mother was your wife/spouse/girlfriend/partner.

Your daughter.

Your Mother.


What is the solution for such things?

Teach them not to rape?

Boiling water control? Ban water? Ban pots and stoves?

Seriously. I’m seriously wondering.

I’m not saying the answer is “guns”. What I am saying is, evil people will do evil things – they will find a way – don’t underestimate the creativity of people intent on doing evil.

When someone next proposes a way to “stop crime” or “reduce violence”, consider if it will actually do any good – I mean, real good, not just feeling good and “doing something” (or that will only abridge the law-abiding and have zero impact – or even empower – the criminal). I’m only interested in solutions that will actually work.

Burglary of Residence Prevention Tips

In my neighborhood, one of the leads of the Neighborhood Watch posts periodic information about the crime in our area of Austin and how it can be prevented. His most recent post was on Burglary of Residence and some tips for reducing your risk.

Here are some helpful tips to help prevent home burglaries. Some of these are common sense strategies but sometimes we as citizens become comfortable in our surrounds and think it will never happen to use. This was my thought before we got broken into. Being PROACTIVE IS THE KEY. Doing these will limit your chances of being burglarized but will not prevent all burglaries. If someone wants to get into your home and they have time/means/opportunity, they will get in. Property Crimes are crimes of opportunity. Criminals have the means, they have the motive but let’s not give them the opportunity to steal from us.

1. Lock all of your doors. This means front, back and the door in your garage at ALL TIMES. Even when we are home. This will not give a potential burglar the opportunity to just walk in when they want when you or your family are home.

2. Dogs are the #1 Deterrent to a burglar. I recommend putting up Beware of Dog signs. Even if you don’t own a dog, put one up. The burglar will never know if you do or do not have a dog. They will just move onto another home. A Beware of Cat sign does not work 😉

3. NEVER open your front door to someone you don’t know. ALWAYS let them know that you are home by talking through the locked door and letting them know you don’t want any or turn of the front porch light when they knock to let them know someone is home. If you don’t answer the door and you just go about what you are doing, the potential burglar could kick in your front door or walk around the side and make entry through your back door thinking no one is home.

4. Put up a No Soliciting Sign.

5. Add 3” + Screws in all dead bolts and hinges on doors leading outside. Should be 3 doors. On the hinges just 1 screw in each hinge should be fine. Replace 1 screw for 1 screw, do not take off the whole door. Most screws are less than 1 inch.

6. Keep your front lights on at night. Motion activated lights are amazing.

7. Add cameras if you can afford. Being able to see what’s going on in front of my house and inside 24/7/365 with my Nestcams has been great. There are plenty of options today this one just fits my needs.

8. Trim your bushes so they are not too high. Bushes next to doors and windows can be hiding places for them. Trim your trees up 7 feet tall so you can see through them.

9. Keep your garage door closed at all times, this means day and night. This is a no brainier but garage doors are let open all the time by mistake. Again, if you accidentally leave the garage door open and you don’t lock that door leading into your home, now burglar has access to your home. Not a good thing at all. Some people leave there garage doors open all day/night because they have an “alarm” in garage letting them know if someone is in their garage. I really really discourage this! Even though you want it open and you are protected, what you are doing is leaving bait out for the burglars basically inviting them into the neighborhood. They just don’t hit one house they hit many. Please stop doing this and think of the whole community.

10. Use your alarm system if you have one. You are paying for it so use it. Put out alarm company sign in front yard and put alarm company sticker by front door and back door.

11. Let your neighbors know when you are leaving for a vacation. So they can watch your home while you are gone, get any packages left on porch, put garbage cans away, get newspaper or any flyers left on your door. All indicators that you are not home. Help each other out!

12. If you are on vacation set programmable Christmas timers you normally use once a year for lamps in living room or bedrooms to make the home look occupied while you are gone. This is easy and very effective.

13. Get serial #’s of everything you can of value and pictures if possible. If something is stolen and pawned now the police department can track that property if it pops up in a pawn shop.

14. Don’t leave wallets, money, jewelry or purses in plain sight. A burglar could walk by and peek in and see the valuables and make his move.

15. Put a pad lock on back gate. Very easy to do. I like using the Word locks rather than number locks. They are earlier to remember and your kids will remember as well.

16. Be wary people who you let in your home that you do not know. If someone knocks on your door and ask to use your bathroom or for a drink of water do not let them in or even open the door. If you do they could be checking out to see if you have a dog, if your door chimed when you opened it which would indicate a security may be active and taking a mental note of what you have of value. Just be cautious of who you let in your home.

17. Don’t leave whole boxes outside that say 75” Samsung TV or anything of value boxes. Just break them down into smaller pieces and put in your recycling container. Don’t put the cut up boxes in the big TV box by the curb. You’re telling the burglar that you got a new awesome big screen.

18. Add a lock you the Breaker box outside on the side of your house. If you don’t anyone can just lift the lid and turn off your power. Never good. See picture.

19. If you are being broken into call 911!! Sleep with your phone next to you so you can make that call. Do whatever you can to stay safe.

To expand on a few of his points.

Point 1. This above all things. Locking your doors and windows is the single best thing to help out. Too many stories of break-ins of homes or vehicles involve the owner leaving things unlocked.

Even if it’s just for a few minutes to walk down to the mailboxes.

Point 3. This is a big one. A lot of people prefer to not answer the door at all; no, it’s better to answer so they know someone is in fact home. But when you do answer, there’s zero need to open the door. If you have one of those new video/audio doorbells, that can be useful to minimize the yelling through the door, but yell away if you have to.

Point 9. People often keep their garage doors open when working in the yard. Does your garage have an electric opener with a remote control? Put the remote in your pocket while you work. You can then easily open and close the door, without leaving it open while you’re in the backyard working.

To that, if you park a car in the driveway or street but keep a garage door opener in that car? Don’t. If they break into your car, now you’ve given them a key into your home.

Point 10. This too. I see numerous people with alarm systems but they never or rarely use them. You don’t get to choose when you will be the victim of a crime, so do use the alarm system and get something out of that monthly bill you keep paying.

Point 12. Not only should you consider lamp timers, but you can go to Lowes or Home Depot and pick up programmable timer for your wall switches. I have these for the switches that control my exterior lights (e.g. porch lights), and they are semi-smart, able to keep the time and self-adjust for the seasons.  Thus they come on “at sunset” and go off “at sunrise”. Works well, and having it fully automated ensures they always come on (and doesn’t matter if I forget).

Points 15 and 18 are things we don’t often think of but matter. Do the cameras, video doorbell, alarm system, your internet connection (router, modem, etc.) that connects all these things so they can work, etc. you have run off electricity? Do they have battery backups? If the power goes out, what happens?

The locks aren’t necessarily going to be high security – I mean, if our fences are just 6′ cedar pickets, it’s not high-security anyways. But it provides additional obstacles and deterrents, reducing crimes of opportunity.

I admit, it’s sometimes a weary thing to have to live by the rules and take additional effort to keep some people from ruining your day. But these are small steps, most of which are “do it once and done”, or just small changes to our habits – but they do go a long way to keeping one’s life overall in a good place.

Minimum Competency for Defensive Pistol – Addressing Assumptions

I’d like to revisit my Minimum Competency for Defensive Pistol series. And just like my “Revisited Again” was inspired by Claude Werner, so too is this revisiting – Addressing Assumptions. As well, it comes from some recent work we’ve been doing at KR Training with curriculum revision.

The original article series was primarily focused around gun and shooting portion of the equation. That was a reasonable focus, but if you look a little deeper into the conclusion you can see there are precursors/prerequisites that are assumed or taken for granted.

This would be things like basic gun manipulations: how to load a gun, how to unload a gun, how to load and unload a magazine (and that it’s a “magazine”, not a “clip”), basic range etiquette, how to practice effectively, how to seek out good training and instruction.

One thing I admire about Claude is how he often focuses and finds ways to work with people in less than ideal circumstances. For example, many gun ranges do not allow people to draw from a holster, or it may be impossible to use a shot timer due to noise levels. Claude often works and formulates curriculum and drills to work within these constraints.

In a recent discussion on minimum competency, Claude structured a drill with a loose structure like:

  • Load 7 rounds into the magazine
  • Load the gun
  • Shoot 6
  • Unload the gun

While at first glance it seems odd to enumerate the steps of loading the magazine, loading the gun, and unloading the gun – and some may desire to gloss over those steps – they’re actually quite an important part of the drill. They are giving the student practice at loading and unloading, they give the instructor a chance to observe the student performing these operations to ensure they are doing it correctly and safely.

When discussing a topic like “minimum competency”, it’s important we mind our assumptions so we do not overlook the complete set of skills necessary for competency.

Summertime Safety Prep

Here in Texas, it’s officially summer.

It’s hot.

It’s sunny.

If you’re going to do some training or practice in self-defense, there’s a couple things of utmost importance for preserving your life and well-being:

  1. Sunscreen
  2. Hydration


It doesn’t matter what you’re doing, if it’s taking a day-long class at an outdoor gun range or just spending the day outside enjoying the sun.

Wear sunscreen. This can be a spray/lotion/cream product, or just wearing covering (but cool) clothing, brimmed hats, etc. Protect your skin.

I’d like to think most people understand the need for sunscreen (if you don’t, Google is your friend). But I see it time and time again in classes, where people don’t somehow protect themselves from the sun and by mid-day are turning red, and are nice and burned by the end of the day. If you’ve got a 2-day class, day 2 is going to be miserable.

At KR Training we’ve got sunscreen in the bathroom. Use it, please!

I used to wear my short-sleeve shirt and shorts, which is my normal summertime choice. But all day out on the range, with no shade? It just got to be too much for me, even with sunscreen.

Now I keep myself fairly covered. I wear long pants (and recently picked up a pair of Vertx Phantom Ops AirFlow upon recommendation from Caleb Causey; we’ll see how they go). I used to wear an Under Armour long-sleeve shirt underneath my KR Training shirt, but that got too hot. Now I just wear the KRT shirt with a set of Under Armour “sleeves”; I used to think these looked silly, and I still do, but they are a godsend. They keep me covered, and actually help with cooling. The only exposed skin I have are my hands, face, and neck, and I do put a high-SPF, waterproof (sweat) sunscreen on them. My days on the range are much happier this way. Yes I’m covered, but it’s with cool(ing) cover.


As Caleb Causey is famous for saying: Drink water!

But really, it’s more than that.

Eat well. Make sure your body is well-nourished. This nourishment should be every day, but sometimes life gets to us. If you know you’re going to be having a day or two of heavy physical activity out in the heat, make the effort to get your body well-nourished starting a couple days before. Like if it’s a weekend class? Start at least come Thursday morning, all day Thursday, all day Friday – and then all day through the classes. Keep your body well-fed.

If you don’t have a specific medical condition that prevents you, you should also not be afraid of taking in some extra salt, both before and during the activity. You will lose a lot of electrolytes through sweat. One thing I like to do? That “Lite Salt”? It’s actually a mix of sodium and potassium. I put about 1/4 tsp. into drinks; not enough that I truly notice a salty flavor, but enough that I get a little extra electrolyte in me — and it’s cheaper than sports drinks.

Drink more than you need. If you’re used to just taking a few gulps? Take a few more. Drink 8 oz? Drink 16. Just drink more, because you are generally fighting a losing battle.

Pay attention to your pee. It should be pretty close to clear (tho truly clear can actually be over-hydration and be diluting electrolytes). A faint yellow or straw color is good. If it’s darker yellow, if it’s brown, drink (more) water. If you’re seeing other colors, you may need medical attention (seriously).

Take care of yourself

You’re coming to the gun range to learn how to protect and preserve your life.

Preserving your life starts with your health.

Protect yourself from the sun. Protect yourself from dehydration. Protect yourself from heat exhaustion and other heat-related injuries. They are common and pretty easily preventable.

You’ll have a much more enjoyable and productive day on the range if you do.