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Archive for the ‘Gunfighter Moment’ Category

Gunfighter Moment – Aaron Barruga

Saturday, October 21st, 2017

You Won’t Become A Better Tactical Marksman Until You Become A Stronger Tactical Leader

Aaron Barruga

As a twenty year old Special Forces sergeant, I was predictably overconfident and periodically arrogant. I was strong and fast, but that was mostly because of youth. I was great at shooting drills. But only because I could learn sequences and had no clue as to which skills impacted my performance overall. I exploited my status as “Special Forces” and allowed conventional soldiers to mistake my confidence with competence, when in reality I was often winging it.

My performance in controlled environments—or training—was only an indicator of just that, my performance in training. I was strong, but couldn’t lead. I could shoot fast, but couldn’t train others to do the same. My first trip to the Philippines changed these realities through a healthy bruising of ego.

My team was working with a Philippine Army infantry unit and teaching them US small-unit fighting techniques. During the trip, I was tasked with teaching a 2-hour block of instruction on hemorrhage control and care under fire. Fortunately, my team already possessed a slide deck for the class from a previous deployment, so most of the preparation for my course was already accomplished.

I bombed my presentation.

I failed because I committed the most annoying error as a lecturer, I read off slides and when questioned I simply restated what I had already said previously. Although I understood the steps to take during care under fire, it was only because I had learned to follow sequences. I knew the answers to questions, but not because I knew the answer, but because I knew what phrase to regurgitate. Fortunately, the practical exercises and hands-on portion of the class allowed students to work through what I failed to explain.

Transitioning to the range, I was allowed back in my comfort zone of shooting drills as quickly as I could. This satisfied my vanity, but again demonstrated that I didn’t really know anything. One of the Filipino soldiers I was coaching needed serious improvement on his application of trigger control. Attempting to coach this soldier, I executed the same error as the day prior in my medical class. Rather than teaching, I was simply regurgitating the right answer.

The Filipino soldier experienced issues because he was shooting too quickly which made him sloppy. My solution was the regurgitated answer of “slow down.” Although slowing down would have helped the shooter, it was supplemental and not the primary solution. Watching us run racetracks around the same problem, a senior teammate came over and mentored me through how to teach the right answer.

To truly mentor a student, whether in the gym, the classroom, or on the range, you have to encourage him to pursue a line of thinking in which he arrives at both wrong and right answers. During this process you must guide him through the critical thinking process that allows for real learning.

However, the military and law enforcement are not accustomed to this style of teaching. The martial and conservative nature of these organizations often results in teaching that is a one-sided dialogue. Although a recruit might have a question, he dare not ask it and seem stupid, or become the center of attention for a bad instructor that is more interested in punishing basic trainees. Consequently, a majority of tactical professionals are indoctrinated at a very early point in their career to seek regurgitation, not actual learning.

My teammate had been shooting longer than me, but that’s not why he was able to remedy my situation. In diverse environments working with individuals of different skill levels and different levels of being coachable, he learned that being a subject matter expert doesn’t mean knowing the right answer, it also means knowing the wrong answers, and how they all tie in together to support the broader learning objectives.

Leadership forces a type of accountability that cannot be learned as a lone-wolf. As a junior Green Beret, I had minimal responsibility and made decisions that supported my missions, not the performance of others. At company-level range days, if the primary instructor taught something I thought was boring, I would physically roll my eyes in the back of the crowd. Rather than focussing on the basics, I wanted to perform exercises that I thought looked cool.

Of course, the principle issue with exercises that look cool is that they are often self-serving. We see this dynamic a lot on Instagram now. Shooters running around, tossing kettle bells, throwing rocks at students, and punching rubber mannequins. Although these actions are enticing and appear purposeful, they typically develop no compoundable skills and lack external applicability. Under these circumstances, performing these drills only makes you good at performing the drills.

Shooting cool drills did nothing for me because I couldn’t deconstruct and identify the different skills being exercised. Again, I could regurgitate what the right answers were, but that was not always significant as previously demonstrated. It wasn’t until I was given more responsibility and promoted to higher positions of leadership that I was able to identify what was truly important about any skills development.

As an individual, you can default to the regurgitation fallacy and not even know it. This is simply because your focus is narrow. But if the collective performance of subordinates impacts mission success—or life and death—it forces a comprehensive examination of how you develop stronger troops. This allows leaders to transcend teaching methods that are self-serving and approaches that encourage drills that only satisfy drills.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to shoot the fastest, or being able to lift the most weight. But focussing on narrow end states undermines our overall growth. For example, who wins a gunfight, the police officer that can deadlift 550lbs or the one who can only deadlift 325lbs?

Regurgitators want to shoot drills that demonstrate speed, but they can’t explain how to develop consistent speed, and not just a one-time shot timer success. They want to argue over bumper sticker tactics and subjective performance variables such as “how much finger you place on the trigger because such and such said so.” None of these actions require accountability that is learned through leadership, it just demands that you shout louder than the person you’re arguing with.

Leadership also forces you to examine the possible second and third order of effects of a decision. Whether intended or not, every action creates reactions. In the heat of the moment, predicting unintended consequences can be difficult, but is an indicator of your value added to the team and the mission.

As a junior Green Beret, all I brought to the table was an enthusiasm for lifting weights and shooting. As a result, I was not a long-term asset. In order to truly improve your ability as a tactical marksman you must become a stronger leader; because leadership forces professional maturity that cannot be achieved alone, no matter how many reps you put in at the range or in the gym.

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Aaron Barruga is Special Forces veteran with deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Pacific Theater of Operations. He has trained foreign commandos, police officers, and militia fighters. He is the founder at Guerrilla Approach LLC, where he consults law enforcement officers on counter-terrorism and vehicle tactics.

www.guerrillaapproach.com
www.facebook.com/guerrillaapproach
www.instagram.com/guerrilla_approach

Gunfighter Moment – Aaron Barruga

Saturday, August 19th, 2017

AS VEHICLES BECOME THE PREFERRED WEAPON OF TERROR ATTACKS, PATROL OFFICERS SHOULD BE FAMILIAR WITH THESE 5 CONCEPTS

Aaron Barruga
August 18th, 2017

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Since Thursday, 13 people have been killed and 100 more injured as vehicles were driven into crowds in Eastern Spain as part of terror attacks executed by the Islamic State. In March, a car plowed through pedestrians on the Westminster Bridge in London, killing 5 and injuring 49. Last December, a truck driven through a crowd in Berlin killed 11 people and injured 56.

For terrorists, vehicles pose numerous tactical advantages over traditional small arms or explosive attacks. For these reasons, law enforcement officers should consider the following five concepts.

1: PRE-STAGING A VEHICLE PATROL RIFLE
Whether in the trunk, the center console, or the back of a motorcycle, officers must be familiar with the rapid employment of carbines or any weapon capable of defeating windshields and door panels. Simple dry-fire exercises such as releasing the carbine from its mount and dismounting the vehicle can help with minimizing officer response times during crises.

If responding to crises, officers should consider releasing the carbine and staging it for quick access on the passenger seat of their patrol car. The ability to arrive on scene and immediately step out of his vehicle with a patrol rifle allows an officer to be an immediate force multiplier when responding to crises.

Stow your sling with rubber bands or similar retainers. Slings that hang loosely inside of vehicle mounts can create unnecessary headache should an officer need to rapidly dismount his vehicle. To ensure a patrol rifle’s sling doesn’t catch on dashboard equipment or the steering wheel, slings should be stowed against the patrol rifle with rubber bands. When stowing a sling with rubber bands, remember to build in a quick release by “s” folding the sling. This allows it to move freely of the carbine when an officer decides to sling his patrol rifle.

2: UNDERSTAND SAFE WEAPON READY POSITIONS
Vehicle attacks are most likely to occur in urban environments because of the target density available to terrorists. Responding officers will need to navigate through crowds, possibly with weapons at the ready. Officers must feel confident running with both carbines and pistols in these confined areas. The ability to move aggressively in and around terrain without flagging bystanders or fellow officers is critical for a safe response.

When teaching ready positions, competency should not be sacrificed in favor of misinterpreted simplicity. Despite sayings such as “more tools for your toolbox,” during a stressful situation individuals fall back on the technique that they have the most repetitions performing. Furthermore, utilize common sense when validating ready positions. If a technique contradicts the tenets of developing competent shooters (such as placing a pistol against the shooter’s forehead for “safety”) avoid these methods so that you can instead develop more well-rounded tactical responders.

3: THE DANGERS OF SYMPATHETIC FIRE
Our senses are overwhelmed by stimulus in urban environments. In close quarter engagements, over saturation may cause an individual to pull a trigger as part of a sympathetic reaction to another officer shooting. It is paramount that officers always understand what lay in front and behind the threats they are engaging.

4: HOW TO CLEAR A VEHICLE AS A SINGLETON
The exigent circumstances of terror or active shooter attacks might demand that an officer individually clear vehicles containing suspects. Although certain protocol might advise officers to wait for backup or even SWAT, in his dying breaths a terrorist’s resolve might be to continue killing bystanders. For this reason, an officer must feel confident in his ability to clear a vehicle by himself. This does not suggest that officers unnecessarily put themselves at risk, but it also does not excuse them from performing the task should it be necessary.

5: IMPROVISE, ADAPT, AND OVERCOME.
In preparing for urban terror attacks, perform scenario training that encourages adaptability and abandons rigid training approaches, or “if this, then that” mentalities. Despite being labeled as “stress induced” or “unscripted,” a lot of scenario based training fails officers because the techniques taught only work under the very narrow guidelines of the specific training scenario. This produces officers that are great at navigating artificial training environments, but these individuals are more likely to freeze when responding to the spontaneous nature of a real fight.

It is impossible to predict exactly how an attack will be executed, or what exactly will transpire on the ground during the attack. For these reasons, it is critical that officers participate in training that encourages both flexibility and decisiveness.

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Aaron Barruga is Special Forces veteran with deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Pacific Theater of Operations. He has trained foreign commandos, police officers, and militia fighters. He is the founder at Guerrilla Approach LLC, where he consults law enforcement officers on counter-terrorism and vehicle tactics.

www.guerrillaapproach.com
www.facebook.com/guerrillaapproach
www.instagram.com/guerrilla_approach

Gunfighter Moment – Frank Proctor

Saturday, July 15th, 2017

Train like you Fight

Hey Folks, we’ve all heard it or said it: Train like you Fight. A lot of times, folks think that means wearing full kit in order to train to better shoot your gun. I disagree with the party line that you have to wear full battle rattle to train to shoot better.

For tactical shooters I would strongly recommend shooting ‘slick with no kit’ and learn what they can truly do with their guns, what their full capabilities are, how fast can they really put bullets on targets, maneuver through a challenging course of fire, get into positions, etc. Once that base line of what’s possible is established then put your duty gear on and see if you can still do the same stuff.

If you can’t, why?

If it’s because your body armor is too restrictive, there are plenty of ways to keep the defensive capabilities of your body armor AND be mobile and able to mount your gun to shoot well, and give yourself and your team mates some valuable OFFENSIVE capabilities. This concept applies to all the gear you carry to duty; if it hinders your optimal performance I would fix it or get rid of it and stay as light as possible.

Here’s a proven concept that we all as tactical shooters can use to ‘Train to Win’. Every organized sports team in the country (especially the ones that win) use a similar concept to train. Football teams don’t go full speed in pads everyday in practice. That would be the conventional shooter’s wisdom of “train like you fight”. What they do instead is break down individual skill sets and train them to perfection. Then they’ll put on the pads and put all those things together and scrimmage. They take note of what went well and what didn’t go well, and then they take off the pads and train again. When it comes game time they are prepared to WIN.

That’s my ramble for now, maybe I’ll put together a video explaining it some more.

Thanks y’all!

-Frank Proctor

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Frank Proctor has served over 18 years in the military, the last 11 of those in US Army Special Forces. During his multiple combat tours in Afghanistan & Iraq he had the privilege to serve with and learn from many seasoned veteran Special Forces Operators so their combined years of knowledge and experience has helped him to become a better operator & instructor. While serving as an instructor at the Special Forces Advanced Urban Combat Course he was drawn to competitive shooting. He has since earned the USPSA Grand Master ranking in the Limited Division and Master ranking in the IDPA Stock Service Pistol division. He learned a great deal from shooting in competition and this has helped him to become to become a better tactical shooter. Frank is one of the few individuals able to bring the experiences of U.S. Army Special Forces, Competitive Shooting, and Veteran Instructor to every class.

All this experience combines to make Frank Proctor a well-rounded shooter and instructor capable of helping you to achieve your goal of becoming a better shooter.

Gunfighter Moment is a weekly feature brought to you by Bravo Company USA. Bravo Company is home of the Gunfighters, and each week they bring us a different trainer to offer some words of wisdom.

Gunfighter Moment – Ken Hackathorn

Saturday, June 10th, 2017

It is of interest that changes in the ‘gun culture’ are always in flux. When the market was concerned about the lost of gun ownership rights, we tend to purchase guns that reflect utility. Examples are the recent high demand for AR-15/M4 style carbines and CCW handguns. Guns chambered for 5.56 Nato, 7.62×39, 308 and pistols in 380, 9X19mm, 40 S&W, and 45 auto all become desirable because supplies of ammo are typically good, prices reasonable, and ballistically effective.

With increase in demand, prices soar and supplies shrink. That is the result of a free market. Now, with changes in politics, demands for certain types of firearms have begun to modify. One factor is that many folks have stock piled guns and ammo over the past decade in fear that they would be prevented from getting them if the anti-gun left had their way. Now, this fear has subsided to most peoples concerns. Sales of ‘utility’ arms and ammo are stagnant.

What has began to take over is the demand for ‘collector/investment’ guns. Simply put, many people have chosen to invest in items that they feel will appreciate with time. Older guns, those that will never be manufactured again due to the craftsmanship or cost of manufacture have become attractive. Old pre-1964 Winchesters have a special following. Smith & Wesson revolvers made prior to 1980, or Colt revolvers made prior to 1990 have taken on increased value. Everyone is aware of the increase in the price and demand for Colt Python revolvers. Without doubt one of the most overpriced and overrated handguns of all time. In the 1990s when Colt was still manufacturing the Python revolver, they couldn’t give them away. They offered them to dealers as a bonus for buying quantities of other Colt firearms.

Certainly, older military firearms have a great interest in the collecting community. As a youngster I used to buy GI 1911 pistols for less than $100 dollars. My first was a Remington Rand 1911A1 that I paid $22.50 for. Nowadays, check out the price of a nice original GI 1911 pistol. The point here is that if you have a closet or safe full of ARs, AKs, and Glocks that will last you for a lifetime, buying quality collectable firearms may be one of the best investment plans you can have. Remember the golden rule of collectable investments; whether it is cars, watches, art, or firearms, don’t buy something that you have to apologize for when you show it to a friend. Condition is the most important factor. Rare is a misused term in the firearms world. Condition is always the goal. A rusty piece of junk, regardless of how rare it is will always be a piece of rusty junk.

If you have interest in US Military history, then consider adding a nice M1 Garand or M1 Carbine to your collection. Even 1903A3 Springfield rifles are still to be found for reasonable prices. You can’t help but feel something special when you handle one of these arms that in the hands of ‘the Greatest Generation’ went off to save the world. Whether it is an M1, Springfield 1903, or M1911 you can actually take them to the range and enjoy the experience of shooting these pieces of history. One of the best kept secrets in military history is how outstanding the British No. 4 Enfield rifle was as a battle rifle. They can still be had for very reasonable prices, and again taking one out to the range for an afternoon is a joy. Don’t be afraid to study some of the excellent books about the history of small arms. I don’t care if you are a treehugger or not, the history of the world is pretty much centered around the use of weapons.

One of the most troubling things I encounter is the number of people that are new to the the gun culture that have no clue about firearms in general and only know what they have experienced in the last couple of years since they became a gun owner. Likewise, vast numbers of vets know about the arms they were issued, but know very little else about small arms. Of course there are hoards of folks that have gotten much of their firearms knowledge from the internet forums. This can sometimes be a good source of information, but sadly it seems to breed a level on knowledge and understanding that is lame at best.

As a firearms instructor, I have always felt that it is not necessary to be a good shot, but it doesn’t hurt if you can demonstrate what you expect your students to do and be able to do it well. Likewise, if you are going to train people about the use of small arms, having a solid knowledge about firearms and their use/history is a desirable goal. Even at my age, I am still learning. I consider myself a ‘student of weapon craft’, and part of that is knowing what the whole ‘gun thing is about’.

It can be an enjoyable journey, why not give a little ‘gun’ knowledge a try.

– Ken Hackathorn

Old Guy With A Blaster

Ken Hackathorn has served as a US Army Special Forces Small Arms Instructor, Gunsite Instructor, and NRA Police Firearms Instructor. He is currently an FBI Certified Firearms Instructor, Certified Deputy Sheriff with Washington County SO, Ohio, and a SRT member and Special Response Team trainer. Ken has trained US Military Special Operations forces, Marine FAST and SOTG units and is a contract small arms trainer to FBI SWAT and HRT.

Ken has provided training to Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies and been active in small arms training for the past 25 years. He has written firearms related material for Guns & Ammo, Combat Handguns, Soldier Of Fortune, and currently American Handgunner and contributed to at least six other gun/shooting journals. Ken was also a founding member of IPSC and IDPA.

Gunfighter Moment is a weekly feature brought to you by Bravo Company USA. Bravo Company is home of the Gunfighters, and each week they bring us a different trainer to offer some words of wisdom.

Gunfighter Moment – Aaron Barruga

Saturday, May 27th, 2017

YOU ARE ALREADY FAST ENOUGH

Aaron Barruga
May 2017

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By his 20th iteration, an Afghan guerrilla with minimal marksmanship training was shooting the 2x2x2 exercise just as efficiently as Instagram tactical celebrities. Only an hour earlier had we discussed some key points of marksmanship, then I gave him a crate of ammo and coached him through each repetition of the exercise. Two weeks later, that same guerrilla fled his checkpoint during the initial phase of Taliban attack. So what happened?

Obviously there is no link between how quickly we can shoot an exercise and our performance in battle. Regardless, as tactical shooters we can be notoriously bad at searching for significance where there is none, or misreading the real importance of a shooting drill. We see this happen quite a bit with speed. Everyone wants to be faster, which is fine, but faster does not always correlate with better.

For novice shooters, static speed shooting exercises help develop confidence and proficiency. For experienced shooters, speed exercises become a measurement of how well we can learn a sequence and perfect our movements. Neither of these are bad, however, the seductiveness of a rapid rate of fire can cause shooters to focus on the wrong aspects of their performance. Moreover, while pursuing speed it can become easy for us to neglect the development of discipline that forces us to proactively see our sights.

We retroactively see our sights by hijacking our natural point of aim. I see this happen a lot at the seven yard line. Whether with a pistol or carbine, shooters just point and squeeze their trigger as soon as they “feel” their sights are in the right spot. We become so focused on beating a time standard that we neglect the unintended development of bad habits. Although it is important to understand where your body naturally presents your sights, it can build a false positive regarding performance feedback.

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I experienced these effects as a junior team guy. As a novice, I obsessed over how quickly I could shoot a string of five rounds at two targets, perform a reload, and then shoot the exercise again. Although I was developing confidence, it was at the expense of incredibly sloppy speed. During a force on force scenario I rushed my shots in a shoot house and either missed or landed wounding shots that would fail to neutralize a threat. The cadre pulled me aside and told me to discipline my fire and see my sights. Roger that, see my sights, no issue. The next run through I continued to rush my shots and not enforce any discipline because I had performed so many garbage reps shooting for speed.

Because I had developed quick, but sloppy hand speed, I assumed that the cadence at which I shot rounds against cardboard represented how quickly I needed to shoot a gun against a real threat. The next day, the cadre demonstrated their run through the force on force scenario. None of their shots were rapid fire and their cadence was entirely sporadic. They only shot when they saw center on the OPFOR, and instead made up for speed with efficiency moving in between rooms.

From a tactical marksmanship standpoint, everything comes down to whether or not you can present your sights, and then exercise discipline when squeezing the trigger. That’s it. Marksmanship exercises ensure we understand how to use a weapon, but it is actually really hard—as demonstrated by the Afghan guerrilla and myself—to design shooting exercises that create a reliable baseline for real world performance. Yes, trim the fat and sharpen your mechanics, but do not assume a sub one second draw, or a sub two second 2x2x2 signifies the most important aspects of training.

Unfortunately, it can be incredibly difficult to convince a shooter of the aforementioned. The martial nature of combat marksmanship encourages us to seek out sequences, and then shoot those sequences as fast as we can. Learning a sequence, then following all of the steps to perform that sequence makes us feel good about ourselves. This is also why so many shooters never break their plateau. Because they have a pre-shooting sequence, and a post-shooting sequence, shooters can poorly perform a shooting exercise by shooting as fast as possible, but because they did their pre and post sequences, they mentally check the box and reward themselves for following a list of steps. Pre and post shooting sequences are not bad. However, assuming they signify proficiency is akin to assuming that the pre-lift act of adding weights to an olympic bar, then the post act of removing them signifies our ability to power clean.

We must encourage shooters to develop speed through exercises such as 2x2x2, but all speed must be followed up with discipline. Aggressively driving our sights to the center of an easy hit target helps develop novices, but plateaus the seasoned marksman. Worse, it is easy for experienced shooters to slip into auto-pilot in which they are not truly seeing their sights, and are instead seduced by the rapid rate of fire in an exercise.

Although we need to develop the confidence to shoot quickly while under stress, we must always reinforce discipline. Shooting a string of five rounds at a cardboard target only requires us to drive our sights back to a single plain, and thus we can unintentionally hijack our natural point of aim. But remember, real flesh moves. Shooting five rounds at a living breathing target causes the target to move after each round, and results in five separate plains where we acquire sight picture. If we’ve spent our range time chasing speed and building sloppy habits, we can set ourselves up for failure when we encounter a real target that requires a slower rate of fire in exchange for more precise shots.

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Aaron Barruga is Special Forces veteran with deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Pacific Theater of Operations. He has trained foreign commandos, police officers, and militia fighters. He is the founder at Guerrilla Approach LLC, where he consults law enforcement officers on counter-terrorism and vehicle tactics.

www.guerrillaapproach.com
www.facebook.com/guerrillaapproach
www.instagram.com/guerrilla_approach

Gunfighter Moment is a weekly feature brought to you by Bravo Company USA. Bravo Company is home of the Gunfighters, and each week they bring us a different trainer to offer some words of wisdom.

Gunfighter Moment – Frank Proctor

Saturday, May 20th, 2017

– Frank Proctor

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Frank Proctor has served over 18 years in the military, the last 11 of those in US Army Special Forces. During his multiple combat tours in Afghanistan & Iraq he had the privilege to serve with and learn from many seasoned veteran Special Forces Operators so their combined years of knowledge and experience has helped him to become a better operator & instructor. While serving as an instructor at the Special Forces Advanced Urban Combat Course he was drawn to competitive shooting. He has since earned the USPSA Grand Master ranking in the Limited Division and Master ranking in the IDPA Stock Service Pistol division. He learned a great deal from shooting in competition and this has helped him to become to become a better tactical shooter. Frank is one of the few individuals able to bring the experiences of U.S. Army Special Forces, Competitive Shooting, and Veteran Instructor to every class.

All this experience combines to make Frank Proctor a well-rounded shooter and instructor capable of helping you to achieve your goal of becoming a better shooter.

Gunfighter Moment is a weekly feature brought to you by Bravo Company USA. Bravo Company is home of the Gunfighters, and each week they bring us a different trainer to offer some words of wisdom.

Gunfighter Moment – Ken Hackathorn

Saturday, May 13th, 2017

NRA Show Review:

The 2017 NRA Show in Atlanta was a joy to behold. Unlike SHOT, the folks walking the Show floor are the end users, the real deal ‘gun culture’. Unlike the SHOT Show which is oriented towards the dealer/distributors of firearms and related hunting gear, the NRA Show is all about show and tell for the members of the National Rifle Association. This year was of interest for a number of reasons. First the election of Donald Trump has calmed the nerves of the gun owning public. As clueless as the left is about why they lost, make no mistake the five million member strong NRA was a positive factor in the fact that Trump won. For the left to attack firearms ownership and still expect it to ring true for most of the heartland is just plain stupid. The anti-Second Amendment attitude does not sell in the states between the Socialist North East and the Left Coast.

A look at the folks walking the floor was quite educational. First, the bulk of people present were males over the age of fifty. However, more than any other NRA show that I have attended in my lifetime females were in noticeable attendance. Not just the wife tagging along with their hubby, but single and even groups of women, active in the shooting/gun culture. Trust me when I tell you that the CCW movement in the USA has had a profound impact on women. Realizing that with equality comes the responsibility to protect themselves; days of expecting a man to protect them is over. Life is about change, and we have little choice sometimes in the direction our lives must flow.

The second demographic that was very noticeable was the presence of people of color. The NRA has always been a strong supporter of equal rights; even back in the day when civil rights was not always popular especially with the Democratic Party. It was impressive to see both women and blacks asking intelligent questions about firearms and their use. I will wager that during the three days of the NRA Show more people were armed in that building than anywhere else in the USA. And, these folks packing heat all were carrying loaded firearms. In the course of the three days, not one loud noise was heard. Despite the complaints of the ‘anti gun crowd’, it was proof that people can be not only safe but responsible with concealed sidearms.

As a product ambassador for Colt Firearms, I was constantly having people coming up to me in the booth and asking questions about their guns, and they tended to all be loaded. Another thing that struck me was that if you took all the AR-15 (MSR’s for the gun culture political correct) and related accessories out of the show, the show would be less than half the size that it was. The reality is that nearly half of the gun culture has embraced the AR platform firearm. I do know some folks that do not own AR-15 style firearms, but damn few. When I moved to the mountain West, I knew that hunting rifles and handguns would be common, what surprised me was that nearly everyone owns an AR. Often more than one. The other thing that came to light was not a surprise at all: Mr. Obama was the best firearms salesman in history. Sales of the ‘black rifles’ has slowed to a trickle after the election. Nearly everyone in the retail end of the gun business will tell you sales have nearly come to a halt. Ammo demand has also slowed dramatically, prices are finally becoming more reasonable. Handgun sales continue to be solid, again directly related to the CCW market. New introductions of firearms at the NRA is becoming more common as much of the industry has tired of the strangle hold the NSSF has on the industry via the SHOT SHOW. Cost of the SHOT Show soars every year, and most vendors are tiring of the process.

This years NRA show introduction of pistols like the Beretta APX, FNH 509, H&K VP9SK, or Springfield Armory XD-E, and you can see the demand for quality handguns remains strong. The XD-E is directly oriented towards an small, flat, single stack 9X19mm pistol that is ideal for the AIWB crowd. If you plan on shoving your CCW sidearm into an inside the waist ban holster that is pointed at your balls, the XD-E a great choice. The gun that was my pick at the NRA Show was Wilson Combat’s new X9 pistol. What most folks want in a CCW sidearm is a 15 shot 9X19mm pistol the size and weight of a Clock 19, but with the controls, trigger, sights and accuracy of a 1911. The Wilson Combat EDC-X9 is just that, beautifully made of the best materials, a pride to own, but with a price tag more in tune with the Rolex crowd, not the Timex variety.

Overall, the flavor of the NRA show and the ‘gun culture’ was somewhat laid back, in tune with the change of politics in the USA. It seems that when a Republican takes the oval office, gun sales slow; put a Democrat in office and gun sales soar. There are some good deals in guns, ammo, and accessories to be hand in the coming months, hide and watch.

– Ken Hackathorn

Old Guy With A Blaster

Ken Hackathorn has served as a US Army Special Forces Small Arms Instructor, Gunsite Instructor, and NRA Police Firearms Instructor. He is currently an FBI Certified Firearms Instructor, Certified Deputy Sheriff with Washington County SO, Ohio, and a SRT member and Special Response Team trainer. Ken has trained US Military Special Operations forces, Marine FAST and SOTG units and is a contract small arms trainer to FBI SWAT and HRT.

Ken has provided training to Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies and been active in small arms training for the past 25 years. He has written firearms related material for Guns & Ammo, Combat Handguns, Soldier Of Fortune, and currently American Handgunner and contributed to at least six other gun/shooting journals. Ken was also a founding member of IPSC and IDPA.

Gunfighter Moment is a weekly feature brought to you by Bravo Company USA. Bravo Company is home of the Gunfighters, and each week they bring us a different trainer to offer some words of wisdom.

Gunfighter Moment – John “Chappy” Chapman

Saturday, May 6th, 2017

Building Judgment

Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment. The question for most of us is how do we make the bad decisions we need to make to get the experience we need to develop good judgment, given that “experience” in our line of work generally involves life threatening violence and is fairly rare here in the US. We can learn from the experience of others, but none of what we see, hear or read is “our” experience. While this does serve an intellectual purpose, it does not create the kind of visceral imprinting necessary to serve as a reliable wellspring of judgment under stress.

So, we are left with a quandary of sorts: in order to be the most capable gunfighter you can be for your mission (be that family protection, police work, etc) you need to experience circumstances requiring rapid judgments, while also being able to make mistakes and learn from them and not be killed.

By now, most of you know where I’m going. Application level training focused on judgment is an absolute necessity, in my opinion, if you desire to grow into a truly capable fighter. Standing up and shooting fast and accurately is only about 10% of gunfighting. While the skills learned, honed and maintained on the square range are of vital, foundational importance, they are merely the price of admission to learn the things that really count… judgment, mindset, and fortitude.

Procedural level CQB, Vehicle Tactics and ECQC courses involving force on force, taught by experienced teachers, is a good start down the path of developing judgment. This is nothing new; every modern military gunfighter was in dozens if not hundreds of simulated gunfights before they ever fired a shot in anger. This does not mean you stop training the fundamentals on the square range, it means you are able to better focus that training on areas you identify as deficient.

After seeking this kind of training, you may find your priorities shifting. What the plate carrier you are wearing looks like or the brand of your pants will seem far less important than working hard to maximize your brain’s processing speed and dialing in your precise shot placement. The lessons learned after receiving a belly full of UTM are not soon forgotten, and serve as the “bad judgment” experiences which will form the core of your good judgment, if you can turn off you ego long enough to internalize them.

Stout Hearts

Born and raised in the tony suburbs of Sacramento, California, John Chapman (Chappy) joined the Navy at 18. After an enlistment served on the USS Memphis, Chappy returned home to Northern California and embarked on a law enforcement career while attending college.

After 16 years of service spanning 4 agencies, with service in Patrol, SWAT, Investigations, Training and Administration, Chappy left full time Police service and began training police officers full time in 2008.

A police firearms and tactics instructor since 1994, Chappy founded LMS Defense as a part time private venture in 2006; and with the help of an amazing team built LMS into a full time venture by 2008. After serving in Iraq as security specialist, Chappy returned to LMS full time and spent the next 5 years servicing domestic and international police and government training requirements, and consulting SWAT teams in Procedural Issues and Equipment Acquisition.

In 2009, Chappy also became a part time adjunct instructor for EAG Tactical, working for his mentor and friend, Pat Rogers. It was through Pat’s mentorship and guidance that Chappy developed his skills as a teacher to the level of becoming a BCM Gunfighter.

In addition to his position as CEO of Raven Concealment Systems, Chappy is best known as a SWAT and Night Vision Instructor and continues to teach at Forge Tactical.

He also maintains his police commission, and serves as an Auxiliary Police Officer with the Alliance, Ohio Police Department, where he serves as a SRT Team Leader.

Gunfighter Moment is a weekly feature brought to you by Bravo Company USA. Bravo Company is home of the Gunfighters, and each week they bring us a different trainer to offer some words of wisdom.