Thursday, December 04, 2008

Lessons learned last week:


If you live in a place that allows you to legally carry a concealed weapon, do so. If you have a CCW permit, use it. Don't say things like "Oh, I'm not going anyplace dangerous..." Places aren't dangerous, people are; there's no magic fence around anyplace you're going that will keep the dangerous people out. Get in the habit of carrying your gun so that it will be there when you need it.

Carry a reload. No matter how many or how few rounds your pistol holds, a spare magazine or speedloader is cheap insurance. Consider, if circumstances allow, a small backup gun. Not only is it a backup should your primary gun fail, but it could also allow you to arm a trusted companion should the balloon go up.

Don't carry like it's a game. Be serious about it. Don't carry a gun because it looks awesome, because James Bond does, or because you just felt like carrying the Luger today. Do you move your fire extinguishers around every other day? Do you relocate your car's brake pedal on Fridays to make it look cooler? No? Then why is the piece of emergency gear on your belt being treated like a fashion statement? Save toys and fashion statements for the range; carry a weapon.


I cannot predict for certain whether or not you will ever have to use your firearm, and if you ever do, I cannot tell you what the circumstances will be like. I can tell you one thing with 100% certainty, however: You will not be attacked by a piece of paper facing you squarely, hanging from a wire, and conveniently illuminated by a can light in the ceiling at a distance of seven yards.

If your local range won't let you draw from the leather or shoot from cover or kneeling or on the move, it would behoove you to try and find a way to get that kind of practice. Look into shooting in competition such as IDPA or USPSA. Even something as stylized as steel matches or bowling pin shooting will have you shooting under time pressure and reloading at speed.

If you shoot at an indoor range, see if they'll dim the range lights fifteen or twenty minutes before closing once a week; they may be amenable if you and four or five friends all request it. If you have an outdoor place to shoot, don't call off your shooting sessions due to weather. If you need your gun for real, it will probably be poorly lit, it may well be cold or wet or 102 degrees out, you may be wearing gloves, or a raincoat; you'd better know how to use your weapon under those conditions.

But most importantly, train. Train. Train. Train.


What do you do when your car starts to skid? Well, if you're like most people, you sit there like a duck in thunder and tell the officer who comes to clean up the mess "I dunno, it just skidded out of control!"

If you payed attention in Driver's Ed, however, you heard "Steer into the skid!" Maybe you even chant it as a little mantra if the road is icy or you feel a bit of aquaplaning on the freeway. If you're really a preparedness fanatic, maybe you've practiced on dirt roads or deserted, rain-slick parking lots.

But the important thing is the decision. You've already made the decision and when the car starts to skid, you don't sit there thinking "What do I do?" because you've already decided what to do: You steer into the skid.

Make up your mind ahead of time to resist; that's the most important thing of all. When the flag flies, your decision will already be made, and your mental decks will be cleared for action. Resist. Do not go gently. Fight back. The life you save may be your own, or it may be that of the innocent person standing next to you who now has time to run, but make up your mind now. Steer into the skid.


Anonymous said...

An easier way to remember the "Steer Into The Skid" is to simply steer in the direction you want to go.

Roberta X said...

Or you could steer in the direction the car is going. 'Cos I am not usually wanting to go in the direction of the skid, it's just so doing the only way to regain control.

...Also, you could buy a better holster. I need to.

H'mm, nice analogy implicit in Tam's choice of example: modern terrorists are much like "black ice" on the highway.

Anonymous said...

This post is THE TRUTH.

I have nothing to add. What a strange feeling!

Turk Turon said...

Well said!

Carteach said...

Yes, good post. Perhaps preaching to the choir, but even that has value. If even one person gets it right just one time....

No matter what I am shooting, and no matter what stylistic BS I am practicing, every range day see's me burning thru a box with my carry pistol. One hand, two hand, strong and weak hand, point/shoot and slow aimed fired. Double taps, reloads, raise and fire, ready position to fire, draw and fire one round or three, from the bench, on one knee, on both knees.... etc.

Anonymous said...

Beyond the attacks in India, was there a specific event that triggered this post? Did I miss something important? btw- I've recently (in the 6 months) tried to carry just about everywhere that I can. I do have to say that its an odd feeling when you're on a town board and in a public meeting to have the weight of the pistol on my hip. I'll still carry wherever I can though.

Jon said...

First, I need to own something that I can concievably carry concealed. (Cause outside of constantly wearing a nice bulky coat like my duster - my XD .45 5" is a little hard to hide.

But, you have a lot of *very* excellent points.

Great post.


atlharp said...

Agreed on your post,

This is where things like IDPA and USPSA come in handy. Any practice that induces stress and makes you face areas of weakness in your shooting is good practice.

Anonymous said...

And the corollary: Avoid, if possible, those places where you can't carry. And, in those places find other useful tools to supplant the ultimate weapon: your brain.

Hmmm.....maybe some T-shirts with "Steer Into The Skid" emblazoned over the image of a 1911?

Robert Langham said...

I assume she's just spun up because it's deer season. You damn sure better have your weapon all the time and be able to shoot it during deer season, that's for sure!

Anonymous said...

Speaking of realistic training, my homeboys out at Atlanta Conservation Club ( are having an IDPA match this weekend. We're predicting snow and a high of 33F, so if you want to train in conditions like you may end up fighting in, swing out to Atlanta this Saturday. If the match is canceled, I'll put a post up around 0700 to not come.

Anonymous said...

I like your analogy. The police and security guards in Bombay seem to have been trained NOT to steer into the skid. The police were taught not to take any initiative. The security guards were unarmed.

When the skid starts it is too late to think about how to respond. It is time to do what you have already practised and planned for.

Anonymous said...

" maybe you've practiced on dirt roads or deserted, rain-slick parking lots."

Of if you live where it snows, skids practicing is called "Monday".

Seriously, if you live where it snows, especially that nasty wet icey stuff ( not the glorious white fluffy stuff) get up early and go the a big open parking lot they haven't plowed yet. Highly instructive to try some personal vehicle dynamics testing.

Watch out for the light poles. Cough.

Also remember if you roll your car - everything in the passenger compartment not tied down will hit you inthe head, twice. Crowbars in trunk please.

perlhaqr said...

Stupid NM concealed carry law specifies a static limit of one (1) concealed firearm at any given time.

Anonymous said...

Jon said: "my XD .45 5" is a little hard to hide."

Get a good holster. In these pictures I'm wearing a STI Eagle 5.1 with 18+1 rounds. Can you tell?

breda said...

yes - thank you Tam.

Anonymous said...

Here in Minnesnowta you can take your car out onto (yes, that's "onto", not "into") a lake. Just drive out on a boat ramp and head on out. You want a minimum of 12" of ice, of course. Then start practicing. Go into a turn at higher and higher speeds until the rear-end breaks loose, and see if you can recover and stay in the plowed path. It's actually kind of fun, playing with your vehicle on ice. But still safe.

Similarly, the "train, train, train" with your firearm gives invaluable practice. Train different ways, with different targets. Draw while saying to yourself, "STOP...drop the weapon" and visualizing somebody closing on you with a knife. And just like "playing" with a car on ice, training with your firearm can be fun. Did you sweep the pins off the table completely, and faster than somebody else? That's fun. And still safe.

ravenshrike said...

Heh, speaking of black ice. Last night there was a patch on my way home that someone had already SNAFUd at. Cop cars and tow trucks everywhere. I slow down with gentle brakes and make my way into the turn lane. Behind me, some idiot is too busy gawking at all the pretty lights, hits the black ice, slams on the brakes, whacks into the back of a tow truck, and then does a nice little 720 barely missing the cop car right in front of the tow. Freaking hilarious.

Bob said...

Then again, if you skid into a steer, you'll have a nice supply of beef.

Anonymous said...

What if you're no longer physically able to kneel?
What the hell, I just figure it means I won't die on my knees.

midnight rider said...

You'll never know how many lives were saved by acting, by taking the shot. Only how many were lost if you don't.

Frank W. James said...

Tam: Good points all, but with one exception. The second gun is MINE. I'm not planning on loaning it out. My wife wouldn't be able to hit anything anyway and WE could need the ammunition later on.

As for everyone else, Well, they should have thought of that before the moment arrived. Our guns are there to save "Our" butts, not "Yours".

If someone doesn't like that viewpoint, my response is "Get Your Own!"

All The Best,
Frank W. James

Anonymous said...

Your musing will have me on the range Sunday at 0830 for weak hand and magazine change practice. Thank you for digital kick in the shorts. At 6'6" and 2XX lbs. I'm big enough to conceal carry a full size 1911 the way G*d and JMB intended. (What? There are other options?)One local range allows for loaded draw. The other has low light training. Unintentional, they had a crappy electrician.

Less said...

"When I am asked what a human-being should devote the majority of his time to, i respond with the word 'training.' You should train more than you sleep."

-Masutatsu Oyama.

Anonymous said...

Excellent read, just one addition.

If you shoot at an indoor range, see if they'll dim the range lights

If they will not dim the range lights, practice wearing dark glasses.

Anonymous said...

Consider me humbled. You're right, and it is way past time for me to start carrying on a regular basis.
Work is a no-no, but there is a very clever place in the Saturn Vue that makes a perfect concealment spot, and I could permit up anywhere else.
Now, the question is, do I get a .380 or start carrying the .45 in the small of my back?

Matt said...


I spent a few hours last night reading the first part of Col. Cooper's "To Ride, Shoot Straight, and Speak the Truth"; this fits right in. Fantastic.

(...stupid Canadian gun laws...)

Anonymous said...

A good holster AND belt does WONDERS for hiding any reasonably sized pistol (I'm excluding things like Desert Eagle & the S&W 500). My preference for a carry holster is a Milt Sparks Versa Max II(Which I believe the holster Joe is hiding his STI in on the right hip, but with the plastic tuckable clips instead of the leather loops). A full sized Springfield XD should certainly be a feasible carry gun unless you live in a hot weather climate 24/7 or work in an environment that does not allow a covering garment.
Far too many people spend $800 and up on a carry gun and then put it in some $20 holster and $20 belt and then wonder why the gun is heavy and uncomfortable to carry.
And I apologize if I ranted, kind of a pet peeve.

Anonymous said...

Snow and parking lots --

Standard 1960's winter SOP for new teen drivers, out with the car, sans parents.

Parking lot, having previously scoped out where those danged concrete berm dividers are. The light poles are easy cause ya see 'em, tho easy to lose orientation thereto doing double donuts.

However, those concrete wheel buster dividers can hide under new snow rilly-rilly good. Word.

All set now??? Let'r rip and experience the joy!!! Also, enjoy having good trained reflexes available in an emergency; useful, that last bit.

An Armed Peasant [possible blog title]

John the Red
West End of lake Erie

KingsideRook said...

Yeah, what she said, basically...I wish I had spent half as much on training as I had on firearms & gear. Then again, you can sell extra gear when times get tough.


Anonymous said...

I'd claim this little trick as my own if it wasn't so confounded simple. SOMEONE must have come up with it independently of me.

Some Saturday or Sunday afternoon, clear and safe your sidearm, or shotgun, or whatever serves as your "house gun." Set it where you usually set your house gun when you bed down for the night. Set the alarm for some random time--an hour or so--and take a nap. When the alarm clock goes off, bring your weapon to readiness (unloaded of course) and phone a friend. Talk about whatever.

This silly scenario simulates having to phone the police when you wake up to the sounds of an obvious home invasion. It's easy with a revolver, doable with an automatic, challenging with a shotgun and quite difficult with most rifles.

You may talk about "clearing your house" all you want, but as for me, I prefer to face facts.

I carry everywhere, and will come to the aid and defense of myself and others, but I know what I can and can't do. And clearing a house by myself ain't one of them. That takes a 4-man stack and the willingness to accept casualties.

I'm not a four-man stack and I'm not an "operator." I'm one 40-year old short little runt with a kid. I'm a land surveyor in the civilian world and a Postal Supervisor in the Army Reserves. I know my limitations.

So I can't go from dead sleep to clearing my home safely all by myself. But I can train to have the presence of mind, upon waking, to present my sidearm safely and nimbly, and dial a phone at the same time.

If some joker comes into my home uninvited, my daughter and I hole up and wait for him to try the bedroom door (whereupon I ventilate him after PID) or the police to show up and he becomes their problem.


Cowboy Blob said...

Way ta shame me for slacking off. Even though I have my CCW, I rarely carry since my daily travels take me into a couple no-carry zones: a college and an Air Force Base. This holiday, I was willing to let my shooting buddy carry the burden of protection (though we had thousands of dollars worth of shooty hardware in the bed of his truck). Gotta dig out my fanny-pack holster....

excitedVulcan said...

excellent post Tam. I couldn't agree more. I also can't count how many times I've seen on the internets, and heard from buddies: "I'm not going anywhere dangerous" or "I'm only taking my little gun, cuz it's only to the store". You should shoot and carry the most powerful weapon you are able to handle safely and reliably. The only adjunct to this would be for those requiring "deep" concealment for, say, professional purposes.

MeatAxe said...

Excellent post, Tam.

Nate said...

Tam, well said. I especially like the comparison to not moving the fire extinguishers every day. The example I use is the jack and tire iron in your car's trunk. Nobody ever decides that today I'll leave the jack at home because I don't expect to get a flat tire. Sure, you can call the auto club if you do get a flat, just as you can dial 911 if you are threatened. A flat tire may make you late to work- a threat may make you dead and never going back to work. So carry if you can as often as you have a jack and tire iron- always!

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:53 said: "I do have to say that its an odd feeling when you're on a town board and in a public meeting to have the weight of the pistol on my hip."

At that point remember this:

45 min. from my house

Anonymous said...

The holster "seen" in the my pictures was a Blade-Tech Ultimate Concealment Holster. Unless you have an undershirt is not very comfortable. But it does conceal well.

For comfort, functionality, and durability (take a handgun retention and disarming class to test functionality and durability) I use a Kramer IWB #2 Horsehide holster. Concealability is good if you don't have to tuck your shirt in or you have an outer garment.

Ride Fast said...

[...] Steering into the skid [...]

Larry said...

scenario simulates having to phone the police when you wake up

Here's another idea. Unplug the home phone, or take the battery out of the cell phone, and practice dialing 911 one hundred times. Have everyone in the house do it. Repeat the exercise occasionally.

Fine motor control degrades in stressful situations. Muscle memory from practice can help.

Be sure to unplug and/or take out the battery.

A cell phone can always call 911 as long as the battery is charged, even if the service is cut off. It's a safety feature. Not a bad idea to keep a cell phone around and charged up even if you don't have the service, in case your landline is cut or you are on the road somewhere. Any used cell phone, free or cheap from someplace like Goodwill, as long as it is functional and charged.

Anonymous said...

"Places aren't dangerous, people are; there's no magic fence around anyplace you're going that will keep the dangerous people out. Get in the habit of carrying your gun so that it will be there when you need it."

Aha! I see. The solution is to become one of the dangerous people.

Tam said...

There's nothing wrong with being dangerous, so long as you're only dangerous to the right people.