“Focus on the Front Sight” – But Why?

“Focus on the front sight!” It’s often one of the first pieces of advice new shooters get. Sometimes, they get it nicely, as a suggestion; other times, so I’m told, they get it screamed at them when they’re not doing it. (Side note: screaming at students rarely seems productive to me, the only possible exception being a firmer “STOP” command when something immediate and unsafe is happening.)

But few instructors, in my experience, take the time to explain precisely why you should focus on the front sight. So, I thought I’d take a stab at it. Please note: This is my understanding, and I freely admit the limits of my knowledge and experience when it comes to teaching this stuff. Feel free to chime in and expand on this or clarify nuances.

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Real-World Halloween Safety Tips

October 31 – Halloween. All Hallow’s Eve. For those who practice neo-Pagan spiritual traditions, the festival of Samhain. Also, a time when the mainstream media and pop culture take the safety of our kids and turn it into insane, mindless hysteria.

This year, the media hysteria seems, as usual, to center around two common fears: Pedophiles, and tainted candy. I’d like to talk about each of these in the context of awareness and risk assessment, and then offer some more common-sense tips to keep yourself and your children safe tonight.

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Excitement, Delight, Total and Complete Exhaustion

I’d meant to write this post yesterday, but just didn’t quite have the energy left.

You see, we had another women’s shooting clinic Saturday at my local range, and (like last time) I was helping to instruct. This time, I was teaching basics (grip, stance, sight picture) with a blue gun as well as a .22 pistol, and also helping run some students on a .22 double-action revolver stage.

After the clinic wrapped up, we had just enough time to grab some lunch, and then we were back at the range for a Ladies Night shoot. The combination of the two events on the same day meant I was out of bed at 4:30am, and it was close to 11:00pm by the time I rolled out of the shower and into bed.

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Highway of Heroes

I’m up to my eyeballs in “real-world” stuff today, and getting ready for another women’s shooting clinic this weekend, so I thought I’d share a wonderful YouTube video with my readers.

The video, by Canadian band The Trews, speaks of the “Highway of Heroes” – the stretch of Ontario Highway 401 between CFB Trenton and the coroner’s office in my birthplace of Toronto. When the bodies of fallen Canadian soldiers are returned home, the funeral processions make their way along this hundred-mile stretch of road. Since 2002, crowds of Canadian citizens have lined the overpasses along the route and emergency services workers have taken up station along the side of the road to pay their respects to the fallen soldiers.

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Danger Signs

“Be aware of your surroundings.” It’s the first thing taught in every self-defense class I’ve ever attended. One of the most common pieces of advice dished out to those looking to protect themselves. And it’s good advice, so far as it goes.

What’s missing, though, from the all-too-frequent repetition of this advice, is any guidance about what we should be aware of. Without knowing what we should be watching for, what behaviors should trigger our Condition Red awareness, knowing that we need to “be aware” is empty advice. It sounds good, but standing alone, it helps us not at all.

I certainly learned this lesson in spades during my own encounters with violent predators. Operating without the benefit of any understanding of criminal behavior and victimology, I equated “be aware” with the sort of reflexive “stranger danger!” conditioning that was so popular when I was growing up, back in a time before society fully realized that the most likely threats were people we knew. But the predators that found me weren’t strangers, and I didn’t realize until much too late the dangerous hole in my knowledge.

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Betting Our Lives on Pieces of Paper

Let’s face the unfortunate reality: Restraining orders are not printed on sheets of kevlar. They won’t stop a knife or a gun. You can’t use one as body armor, and legal paper isn’t even absorbent enough to make a really decent bandage. Restraining orders also don’t magically disarm the violent ex or unbalanced stalker.

And if restraining orders do nothing to protect the innocent would-be targets, they do even less to protect the innocent bystanders — her co-workers, the customers in her workplace, the guy behind her in the line at Starbucks when the angry, hate-filled, predatory monster comes calling. At least the woman who took out the restraining order knows that trouble is gunning for her, but the collateral victims don’t even have that edge.

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Knowing the Limits of Your Training

When you take a training class, or go out and practice shooting skills on a USPSA or IDPA stage, do you know the limits of those experiences? Do you know where the “real world, applicable to a deadly force situation” skills you’re drilling end?

I’ve commented before on the issue of “IDPA as training” vs. “IDPA as a game”. But I wanted to riff on this in another direction, because of a post Kathy at Cornered Cat made a couple of days ago. She titled the post “Wait for backup“, and talked about two situations where armed citizens entered their homes looking for bad guys. One ended well, thank god, but the other much less so. Kathy pointed out that:

If you are concerned enough to pull your gun out of its holster, you should be concerned enough to pull your phone out of your pocket and call for backup. Except in cases of extreme and immediate need, law enforcement officers won’t try to clear a house by themselves, without backup. Why should you?

I wanted to underline her point because one of the perennial debates in our community seems to be about whether competition shooting sports like IDPA “will get you killed”. I think this is one area where, if you don’t know your limits, they just might.

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Happy Birthday to Me!

20121021-085452.jpgThings will be quiet in blog-land for me today because I’m celebrating a birthday. It’s not “the big four-oh” just yet, though THAT milestone is just around the corner. But I’m still definitely cognizant today of the relentless march of time, of the many things I’ve accomplished in my life and the many more I would yet like to do. Not sure how I’ll be spending the day, but hoping there’s sushi involved somewhere.

And I want to ask for a birthday present from each of you, my loyal readers: Do something nice for someone today. Commit a random act of senseless kindness. Spread some compassion and beauty and love and joy in the world. Perform an act of tikkun olam if you’re so inclined. I don’t even need you to tell me you did it, but go do it.

I’ll be back with you all tomorrow. Right now, I’m off to enjoy a cup of coffee and plan out my day.

Photo credit: stock.xchng

Gear Review: Blade-Tech Nano Holster

Since I’ve been doing a lot more shooting lately, between the classes I’m helping teach and my IDPA matches, I’ve been experimenting with gear a bit. One of the holsters I’ve been trying out is the Blade-Tech Nano that I picked up for a good price a while back. I’ve been testing it for about two weeks now  and wanted to share my thoughts.

The Blade-Tech Nano is an inside-the-waistband Kydex holster. The manufacturer’s Web site says the holster is constructed of .080 Kydex, which is thinner than their standard material but can be prone to deforming under heat, and they recommend not leaving it in a locked car where the heat may exceed 160 degrees or so. The screw attachment holding the Kydex shell together, and the snaps attaching the belt loops, all seem quite solid. In fact, I had some difficulty re-fastening the snaps once I undid them. Gun retention was quite good with this holster, with drawing and re-holstering both being easy and secure.

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Children, Guns, and Tough Decisions

The blogosphere is abuzz with a news story out of Oklahoma about a twelve year old girl who was home alone when a bad guy – with a prior criminal conviction for abducting a 17-year-old – broke into the house. The young lady in question did everything right, in my opinion, calling her mom and then, on mom’s advice, barricading herself in the closet with the family pistol and calling 9-1-1.

When the intruder entered the bedroom where she was hiding, she fired at the suspect, wounding him. He was arrested outside and airlifted to a hospital in Texas.

I encourage you to read what Kathy at Cornered Cat and AGirl over at A Girl and Her Gun have written about the topic, and I wanted to add my own comment here because the issue of allowing kids the ability to gain access to firearms is one I’ve wrestled with for some time.

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