Training and “Unusual Attitudes”

20121231-112334.jpgI’ve been thinking lately about the way some of us practice our defensive skills: We draw from our holster (which rides exactly at our preferred spot) with our strong hand. We aim at a target placed chest-high at a range of 7 yards or so and put our shots downrange. We re-holster carefully. Then we do it again. When we dry practice, we exercise the same skills – some of us do it until we can get a blazing fast draw, because that helps us in IDPA.

And, as far as it goes, this kind of repetition is hugely important. There’s no question that these fundamental skills do need to become automatic, actions we can perform without having to consciously think about them, because seconds count in a lethal force encounter. Sometimes tenths of a second count. And it takes hundreds or thousands of repetitions to ingrain those automatic movements.

But there’s something else I think we ought to be practicing, and I’m labeling it with an aviation term I learned recently: We need to drill our responses to “unusual attitudes” too.

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Poll: Finding Out About New Posts

As we begin a new year, I want to make sure I’m doing the best job I can to reach my readers and give you the information you need. So over the next few weeks, I’m going to run a few polls to help me get a better sense of who you are and what I can do to make Mom With a Gun better for you.

Today I’d like to know how you go about learning about new content on my site. Do you use an RSS reader, follow me on Facebook or Twitter, or something else? If you pick the “something else” option, please let me know in the comments if there is another vehicle I should be using to reach you better.

Thanks in advance for your input!

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Happy Holidays!

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To all my readers: Whatever holiday you celebrate this season – Christmas, Hanukkah, Yule, or something else – I hope your holiday season is full of love and light and warmth. May this season bring health, happiness, success, to you and your loved ones.

Gear Review: Soteria Leather “Kratos” IWB Holster

20121224-155636.jpgI don’t know about you, but I appreciate gear that isn’t just functional, but that also looks good. Function is definitely important, but so are aesthetics and workmanship. I’ve never been excited by plain black Kydex holsters – they do the job, but I’ve yet to find one that qualifies as beautiful.

For that reason, I was excited to try a handmade leather holster from Soteria Leather. Soteria, the brainchild of Portland, OR-based entrepreneur and craftswoman Cerisse Wilson, produces custom-fitted leather holsters to fit just about any gun, with a dizzying array of thread and material colors and several holster styles. Cerisse’s holsters are definitely functional, but they’re also beautiful works of craftsmanship. I had high hopes for my holster after reading about them on Cornered Cat. Even still, what I got vastly exceeded my expectations.

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Make Your Voice Heard

20121222-101435.jpgI try not to get too political on this blog, but today I’m going to break that rule and make a personal request of my readers.

GET INVOLVED.

It’s time for firearms owners to take a lesson from the gay rights movement and come out of the closet. Those that would ban firearms need to see and hear from us right now. We need to be respectful, intelligent, and informed, but we need to be visible. We need to say, “We are your daughters and sons, sisters and brothers, mothers and fathers and neighbors and friends. We sit next to you at the PTA meeting, worship with you in your church/synagogue/mosque/etc. You KNOW us, you KNOW we aren’t criminals or murderers. Forget the stereotypes you see in the media; WE are the faces of America’s gun owners.”

Write your elected officials. (You can find your Congressperson here, and your Senators here). Tell them why people like you are not the problem. Encourage them to take real action on the real problems (public safety funding, mental health services, ineffective and dangerous gun-free zone laws etc.) rather than demonizing the vast numbers of law abiding American gun owners.

Support the Second Amendment Foundation. Or the NRA. Or your state and local gun rights organizations. Better yet, support all of them. They need your money, but they also need your time and energy and passion.

When Great Britain enacted a ban on most firearms, they declared open season on law-abiding citizens. The crime rate soared, and now the UK is the most dangerous country in Europe, with a per capita violent crime rate that exceeds the United States. The same thing has happened in other countries that have banned guns.

Don’t think it can’t happen here.

Make your voices heard, now and often. We’ve had historic gains in gun rights in recent years, but the war hasn’t been won yet. Get involved, get active, get visible.

Photo credit: stock.xchng

Deciding When to Carry

20121220-214104.jpgIf you’re new to firearms, shooting, and the consciousness of self-reliance and self-sufficiency about personal safety, you’ll probably need to make a decision at some point about whether, when, and how you want to carry a firearm for self-defense. Close to 40 states are “shall-issue” jurisdictions for concealed carry permits; that is, their laws mandate that the authorities MUST issue a permit to any law-abiding citizen who applies and meets their requirements. The lone holdout state with no provision for permitting at all (Illinois) has just been ordered by a court to create a permitting process.

This post isn’t going to be about the “how” of carrying a concealed weapon. Rather, it’s going to be about one of the decisions we make when we decide to carry. When, we have to decide, will we carry our firearm? I’m going to advocate a simple answer, and then explain why I feel that way: Once you have a concealed weapons permit, you should carry your firearm everywhere you legally can do so.

Why do I advocate such a blanket rule? Here are some reasons:

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Humiliating New Shooters Isn’t Funny

If you’ve been shooting very long, you’ve probably seen this happen on the Internet or at a range: Someone will take a new-shooter or non-shooter to the range and hand them a big, powerful gun. Usually this is guys giving a female friend or relative a weapon, but I’ve seen guys do it to other guys, too. I’ve never seen a woman do this to a guy, but I’m sure that happens too. Anyway, they’ll put the gun in the new shooter’s hand, not offer any instruction or training on stance, grip, and the other fundamentals, and then laugh their asses off when the new shooter fails. Or falls on her/his butt, knocked over by the uncontrolled recoil.

Sometimes, they’ll even film the incident and upload it to YouTube.

Mary of GatsAndTats posted a video yesterday with her thoughts about such behavior. I’d like to share it, because I wholeheartedly agree with what she had to say, and then I’d like to add a couple comments of my own.

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Mechanical Safeties Don’t Guarantee Safety

20121216-162659.jpgAs December mornings go here, it was a beautiful one to go to the range with friends. It was a bit damp and misty, but the air was fresh, crisp and cool, and after several days of rain it felt lovely to get outside. We did some pistol shooting – my friend got a Glock 27 she wanted to put through its paces. Afterward, we moved over to the long range steel targets (200-600 yards) and she uncased her AR rifle.

She shot a couple magazines of ammo, and I got a chance to try out the rifle, landing a few hits and a few more near misses on a 150-yard steel plate. I handed the rifle back to my friend when I was done, and she reloaded. She put six rounds downrange, then engaged the safety and set the rifle on the bench to talk to someone for a few moments. When she was done, she took my seat at the bench, lifted the rifle to her shoulder, re-adjusted the bipod and stock, and flipped off the safety lever.

Ka-BLAM! They say the loudest sounds a shooter hears are a CLICK when she’s expecting a BANG, and a BANG when she’s expecting a CLICK. Despite the presence of ear protection, the report of that shot seemed deafening, and I’m sure mine wasn’t the only heart that was racing.

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Lessons from the Clackamas Mall Shooting

585836_31371578The mainstream media is whipping itself into a frenzy this morning after a shooting at a mall in Oregon yesterday. Although the details are fuzzy, current media reports suggest a killer with body armor and a semiautomatic rifle killed two people and wounded a third before taking his own life. Law enforcement response was gratifyingly fast — by some accounts, the first officers on scene arrived in less than two minutes — but by then the incident was already over and the killer lay dead of what sounds to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

I think there are some good lessons that can be learned from this incident, and I’d like to talk about a few of them. As tragic as yesterday’s events were for the victims and their families (and for the family of the killer, a victim of his crime and yet often overlooked), they’d be even more tragic if we didn’t learn anything from them.
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Special Needs Kids and Guns

gvb2000-image-1I had a chance to talk on the phone with the inimitable Kathy Jackson today, and we had a terrific chat. One of the things we talked about was a problem that’s vexed me for some time: How to use a firearm for self-defense, and how to empower our children to be able to defend themselves, when our kids have developmental or mental health challenges.

As I’ve alluded to previously on the blog, my daughter “Nutmeg” was adopted from the foster care system. She had a great many things happen to her early in life that should not, in my opinion, ever happen to a child. (I’m going to leave it at that out of respect for her privacy.) But the result of those early traumas is that Nutmeg has some challenges in the areas of impulse control, judgment, and decision-making.

Obviously, those traits could be dangerous when combined with the presence of a firearm. However, they also manifest themselves in behavior choices on Nutmeg’s part that increase her risk of victimization. So, what’s a parent to do? After chatting with Kathy about the issue, here are some things I came up with:

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