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Gunfighter Moment – Larry Vickers

Saturday, April 4th, 2015

I’ve been very fortunate to get where I am at in the firearms industry; I get fans all the time who say I have the best job ever and I totally agree. Being a gun guy down to my bone marrow I can honestly say I have a dream job.

But for those of you out there who are aiming for your dream occupation I have a piece of advice; work you ass off. My position in the industry is due primarily to one factor; I have worked and busted my ass getting the job done for decades, not just years.

It may look easy from the outside but to master any profession you need to be willing to put the work in to succeed. To quote my favorite rock band AC/DC ‘It’s a long way to the top if you want to rock and roll ‘

-Larry Vickers
Vickers Tactical Inc.
Host of TacTV

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Larry Vickers of Vickers Tactical is a retired US Army 1st SFOD-Delta combat veteran with years of experience in the firearms industry as a combat marksmanship instructor and industry consultant. In recent years he has hosted tactical firearms related TV shows on the Sportsman Channel with the latest being TacTV of which Bravo Company is a presenting sponsor. Larry Vickers special operations background is one of the most unique in the industry today; he has been directly or indirectly involved in the some of the most significant special operations missions of the last quarter century. During Operation Just Cause he participated in Operation Acid Gambit – the rescue of Kurt Muse from Modelo Prison in Panama City, Panama. As a tactics and marksmanship instructor on active duty he helped train special operations personnel that later captured Saddam Hussein and eliminated his sons Uday and Qusay Hussein. In addition he was directly involved in the design and development of the HK416 for Tier One SOF use which was used by Naval Special Warfare personnel to kill Osama Bin Laden. Larry Vickers has developed various small arms accessories with the most notable being his signature sling manufactured by Blue Force Gear and Glock accessories made by Tangodown. In addition he has maintained strong relationships with premium companies within the tactical firearms industry such as BCM, Aimpoint, Black Hills Ammunition, Wilson Combat and Schmidt & Bender.

Larry Vickers travels the country conducting combat marksmanship classes for law abiding civilians, law enforcement and military and has partnered with Alias Training to coordinate classes to best meet the needs of the students attending the class.

Gunfighter Moment is a weekly feature brought to you by Alias Training & Security Services. Each week Alias brings us a different Trainer and in turn they offer us some words of wisdom.

Gunfighter Moment – Ken Hackathorn

Saturday, March 28th, 2015

The training market is flooded with instructors that all want you to give them your money so they can make you into a ninja warrior. The guy in your community that was a NRA instructor last year has bought himself a set of 5.11 clothes (ninja black hopefully), a drop leg holster for his blaster, and added 13 items to his economy priced AR. Now, he is the local ‘tactical shooting instructor’. Like most things in life you get what you pay for. In most case’s it is a matter of in the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king.

If you plan to invest your money wisely, do some research on the instructor. Does he have a reputation for giving his students their money’s worth? Keep in mind that nearly all the shooting instructors have a specialty based upon their life experiences be it Law Enforcement, Military, or competition backgrounds.

It is your job to determine if the specialty that they provide meets your expectations or learning requirements. One of the most commonly encountered things that happens in my business is questions concerning another trainers range rules or individual class requirements. The question is ,why do I teach something different than instructor A or B? In reality, we all have differences in our instruction, it doesn’t mean any of us are wrong, we just have different approaches to solving the problem.

I advise most students that take my or anyone class with the attitude that you take away those things that you like or think you can use. Anything you get from the instructor that you don’t agree with or dislike, simply push the delete button. Select the guy you want to give your money to based upon his reputation to deliver the information you are looking for, his ability to explain and justify his teaching methods, and most important his ability to correct or improve your performance.

Go to training with an open mind and positive attitude. Pay attention, show up prepared, be ready to come to the line when called, and work hard to not be ‘that guy’.

-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.

To see Ken’s Training Class Schedule visit aliastraining.com.

Gunfighter Moment is a weekly feature brought to you by Alias Training & Security Services. Each week Alias brings us a different Trainer and in turn they offer SSD readers hard earned words of wisdom.

Gunfighter Moment – Mike Pannone

Saturday, March 21st, 2015

Mind Games: The Benefit of Conscious Contradictions in Training

One of the drills I do in pistol classes is to have shooters execute a Bullseye string shot all from the holster. I tell them to draw as fast as they can and then take the shot at the appropriate pace to achieve the desired level of precision. After the draw it truly is absolutely no different than a regular Bullseye string but there is a key training principle involved. The drill is designed with the two major steps intended to consciously contradict each other. When you draw rapidly the body is receiving a physical cue to go fast. Now after your body has received that very distinct subconscious cue, you must consciously tell yourself to slow down with the intended goal over time of the slowing process being subconscious as well based on what the sights dictate. Over time what I am patterning into the shooter is to detach the draw from the shot and thereby use the optimal speed for each specific task. I call this type of drill “changing gears” and more specifically it is a pace and precision adjustment exercise. I use this technique on multiple target drills with both carbine and pistol by having a series of speed shots followed by a precision shot. This is a staple of good training because the speed of the shot should be tied to nothing but the desired amount of precision required. Yesterday I was using an RSR Steel reduced IPSC and doing draw-shot-reload-shot drills at 50 yards for this very reason. It forces me to draw at my fastest pace, slow down and take a 50 yard shot, speed back up and reload as fast as I can and then slow down again and take another precision shot.

When you need a pistol for defense or sport, there is a time penalty for a slow and imprecise draw and that is separate from the shot requirements. “Changing gears” or pace and precision adjustment is a component mental skill and as such should be exercised and refined based on a drill structured to isolate and demonstrate it.

When I am limited in time here is my twenty minute 50 round course designed to integrate the conscious contradiction of a fast draw, reload or magazine exchange into a 50 round Bullseye course. I shoot it on either a B8C Bullseye target or preferably a 6” round steel plate.

All shots are fired from the holster alternating the start position from hands at sides to surrender position and all ending with the pistol returned to the holster.

40 draws (10 with transition to support hand), 50 precision shots (30 freestyle, 10 strong hand only 10 support hand only), 5 slide lock reloads, 5 magazine exchanges.

If you concentrate and make every shot a proper one that is a lot of work in 20 minutes!

  • Freestyle slow fire- 10 rounds
  • Strong hand only- 10 rounds
  • Support hand only- 10 rounds
  • Draw shot slide-lock reload shot 10 rounds
  • Draw shot-magazine-exchange shot 10 rounds
  • – Mike Pannone

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    Mike Pannone retired from the Army’s premier assault force (1st SFOD-D) after an explosive breaching injury. A year after his retirement America was attacked on 9/11 and he returned to help serve his country as the head marksmanship instructor at the Federal Air Marshals training course and then moved to help stand up the FAMS Seattle field office. In 2003 he left the FAMS to serve as a PSD detail member and then a detail leader for the State Department during 2003 and 2004 in Baghdad and Tikrit.

    In 2005 he served as a ground combat advisor of the Joint Counter IED Task Force and participated on combat operations with various units in Al Anbar province. Upon returning he gave IED awareness briefings to departing units and helped stand up a pre-Iraq surge rifle course with the Asymmetric Warfare Group as a lead instructor. With that experience as well as a career of special operations service in Marine Reconnaissance, Army Special Forces and JSOC to draw from he moved to the private sector teaching planning, leadership, marksmanship and tactics as well as authoring and co-authoring several books such as The M4 Handbook, AK Handbook and Tactical Pistol shooting. Mike also consults for several major rifle and accessory manufacturers to help them field the best possible equipment to the warfighter, law enforcement officer and upstanding civilian end user. He is considered a subject matter expert on the AR based Stoner platform in all its derivatives.

    CTT Solutions
    www.ctt-solutions.com

    Gunfighter Moment is a weekly feature brought to you by Alias Training & Security Services. Each week Alias brings us a different Trainer and in turn they offer some words of wisdom.

    Gunfighter Moment – Jeff Gonzales

    Saturday, March 7th, 2015

    If you are serious about carrying concealed and you are still using clips to secure the holster to your body consider this. Everything works until it doesn’t!

    For a while now I have been posting observations about clip style holsters, which predominately seem to be inside the waistband or IWB. Many of the users clip it to their waistband and load up without a second thought. How many have done their own serious gear validation or proofing to really determine if they are truly good to go. Because if more did, they might discover as soon as things get physical with an opponent or they have to perform light physical activity things change. Your body is responding to the physical demands and it’s composition changes to a certain degree. Is it reasonable to expect a slight bit of exertion in a fight? Do you see yourself moving aggressively, possible even tussling with your opponent to stay on your feet or worse have to fight from the ground?

    These are the test grounds that need serious attention to discover clips suck! I use to think the exception was metal style clips. They typically were made of spring steel and gripped a little better than their plastic cousins. After witnessing a few guns fall to the ground in recent classes because the holster separated from the shooter I am thinking even they are not good enough for everyday carry. I see that term thrown out a lot, everyday carry or EDC. I’m not really sure I have the same definition as the average person who chooses to carry concealed. Mine comes with an acknowledgment a fight could be around the corner, one where I will have to give 200 seconds of surgical violence and pure aggression.

    Part of the reason we carry concealed is personal protection, there are others, but that seems to be the most common response when asked. When I ask how someone might expect to protect themselves, under what conditions, a common response is the subject of a criminal act such as a robbery/mugging. If you continue down this train of logic you figure out you are being ambushed, surprised being a big component and as such are reacting to the threat. Do you think you will have the advantage of going to guns right away or will you need to create time and space. If you need to create time and space I’m betting it is going to involve some physicality and there is where we see the problem with clips on holsters. The ability of that clip to securely hold the pistol on your body is suspect big time.

    Don’t be that guy who wasted all those training hours because their holster wouldn’t stay on their body when it counted.

    – Jeff Gonzales
    Trident Concepts, LLC

    Jeff Gonzales of Trident Concepts, LLC is a decorated and respected U.S. Navy SEAL who has worked in a variety of environments and capacities throughout the globe. He specializes in personal protection tactics and training for armed and unarmed conflicts. His motto is “Concepts that meet reality”. Jeff’s goal is not simply to train you, but to better prepare you for the worst-case scenario.

    Gunfighter Moment is a weekly feature brought to you by Alias Training & Security Services. Each week Alias brings us a different Trainer and in turn, they offer some words of wisdom.

    Gunfighter Moment – Larry Vickers

    Saturday, February 28th, 2015

    When zeroing your carbine or any long gun for that matter always confirm your zero at distance. Any rough or initial zero at a short distance (like 25 yards) is to simply get you in the ballpark so you can refine it at distance.

    The Big Army herds troops thru the zeroing process and then qualifies soldiers on a pop up target range; this to conserve ammo and for time efficiency- not that it’s the best way to go about zeroing your individual weapon.

    -Larry Vickers
    Vickers Tactical Inc.
    Host of TacTV

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    Larry Vickers of Vickers Tactical is a retired US Army 1st SFOD-Delta combat veteran with years of experience in the firearms industry as a combat marksmanship instructor and industry consultant. In recent years he has hosted tactical firearms related TV shows on the Sportsman Channel with the latest being TacTV of which Bravo Company is a presenting sponsor. Larry Vickers special operations background is one of the most unique in the industry today; he has been directly or indirectly involved in the some of the most significant special operations missions of the last quarter century. During Operation Just Cause he participated in Operation Acid Gambit – the rescue of Kurt Muse from Modelo Prison in Panama City, Panama. As a tactics and marksmanship instructor on active duty he helped train special operations personnel that later captured Saddam Hussein and eliminated his sons Uday and Qusay Hussein. In addition he was directly involved in the design and development of the HK416 for Tier One SOF use which was used by Naval Special Warfare personnel to kill Osama Bin Laden. Larry Vickers has developed various small arms accessories with the most notable being his signature sling manufactured by Blue Force Gear and Glock accessories made by Tangodown. In addition he has maintained strong relationships with premium companies within the tactical firearms industry such as BCM, Aimpoint, Black Hills Ammunition, Wilson Combat and Schmidt & Bender.

    Larry Vickers travels the country conducting combat marksmanship classes for law abiding civilians, law enforcement and military and has partnered with Alias Training to coordinate classes to best meet the needs of the students attending the class.

    Gunfighter Moment is a weekly feature brought to you by Alias Training & Security Services. Each week Alias brings us a different Trainer and in turn they offer us some words of wisdom.

    Gunfighter Moment – Ken Hackathorn

    Saturday, February 21st, 2015

    For much of the gun owning public, the cycles of gun/ammo buying paranoia follows social and political events. In the pass few years we have seen panics follow the election of the current leader of America and events like Sandy Hook. Prices on guns in general and firearms that utilize full capacity magazines goes crazy. Ammo prices go through the roof. Full capacity magazines double or triple in price. Things generally calm down and prices go back down. Note that in the case of ammo, the prices drop but never go back to the pre panic prices. So, there is a message here, It will happen again. Now is the time to stock up. Current prices of AR15/M4 long guns is a real ‘buyers’ market. Spare AR magazines are a steal, so load up now. Lower receivers and uppers are at an all time great pricing level for the consumer. Pistol high capacity magazines are very affordable, so act now. Remember, magazines are like the tires on your car, they must be replaced periodically.

    Most important, ammo prices are still dropping. 223/556 ball type ammo can be had for thirty to thirty two cents a round if you shop carefully. 9X19mm is in the twenty to twenty two cents a round if you buy in quantity. The in-expensive Russian steel case ammo for AKs is fine, but for non Soviet designed guns and calibers, I recommend you avoid this steel case ammo if you have a choice. I have seen lots of the cheap Russian steel case ammo used over the years, and have even shot quantities of it myself, unless it is 7.62X39, 5.45X39, 7.62X54R, 9X18, or 7.62X25 I don’t have much good to say about it. The current ‘Wolf Gold’ brass case 223 is made in Taiwan to M193 specs. Based upon its use with students in my classes it seems to be a good buy. MagTect 223 has proven popular with students as well. Training/blastin’ ammo is critical if you are trying to stay skilled and up to speed with your primary. It is impossible to predict the next panic cycle, but wise men prepare now…not later.

    -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.

    To see Ken’s Training Class Schedule visit aliastraining.com.

    Gunfighter Moment is a weekly feature brought to you by Alias Training & Security Services. Each week Alias brings us a different Trainer and in turn they offer SSD readers hard earned words of wisdom.

    Ed Note: This was written before the BATFE decided to restrict M855 ammunition from civilian sale but I thought it was still worth sharing.

    Gunfighter Moment – Frank Proctor

    Saturday, February 14th, 2015

    PISTOL SIGHTS (plural)

    What’s up shooters! If you have spent any time at all pursuing the goal of being a better pistol shooter you have heard a lot of things about the sights on a pistol. Many times you hear something like; focus on the front sight or the front sight should be sharp and clear and everything else should be blurry. I don’t subscribe to that theory for a few reasons. One reason is that pistol have front and rear sights, their relationship to each other and to the target are important things for shooters to factor in order to shoot accurately and in order to read the gun and know where the shot went. Another reason is it takes time for your eyes to truly focus on one out of 3 things. I don’t think that for any practical application of a pistol you have that kind of time. What I believe in and what I teach is to see the things that matter in the order that they appear when shooting; rear sight – front sight – target. What I suggest and have found that is very easy for shooters to do is to SEE all 3 and their relationship to each other. The next time you are shooting just put the gun in front of your eyes and SEE rear sight – front sight – target. Don’t over think it or TRY to focus on all 3 just let your eyes do what they are capable of and see all 3.

    Another thing I talk about in courses and we explore as shooters is how much sight alignment you need. For most practical pistol shooting 15 yards and in ( I use 8.5” x 11” copy paper as targets) you don’t need perfect sight alignment. For the most part If can see your front sight through your rear sight and it’s on the target you will hit an 8.5” x 11” target 15 yards away. There are a couple factors that can effect this though. One of course is trigger manipulation. The core of marksmanship is to put sights on the target and press the trigger without moving the gun off the target. For most dedicated shooters that isn’t a problem. The other factor is the amount off possible error in sight alignment due to the size of the sights. Many pistol sights these days have really wide rear notches and some even have wide rear notches with a narrow front. These combinations allow for more possible error. Inside 15 yards misaligned sights that are placed in the middle of the target will hit. This is not the case as the target gets smaller or further away and therefore smaller. A couple issues I see with many pistol sights are as follows, a wide front sight say .125 or .135 (most night sights are in this range) the wide front will cover a lot of what you need to shoot at distance. With a wide rear to “ let in more light and make it easy to see fast and work with old eyes etc” you have more opportunity for slight misalignment that will cause big misses at distance. A combination of a wide rear and a narrow front creates a lot of opportunity for sight misalignment that can matter within reasonable pistol shooting distances ( I consider 50 yards and in reasonable). Also added into the equation is sight height. After a lot of experimenting with sights I’m not a fan of tall sights because of what I see as a very sloppy sight picture.

    What I prefer and believe make things much easier is less difference between the size of the front and rear sight and nothing taller than .180 on the front. For my style of shooting I want to see through the rear to the front to the target and It be good enough from 10 yards to 50 yards. For the smaller/further targets I don’t want to have to take time to ensure that the sights are good enough by visually centering them. A few years ago I started working on what I call performance grouping at 50 yards. What I wanted to be able to do was deliver 5 hits on a 12” steel target at 50 yards as quickly as possible with accountability. What I found frustrating was misses when what I saw though the gun should have been good enough. The issue was the difference in the width of the rear sight notch and the front sight. I had to take more time between shots to visually center the sights that I felt necessary. Here is a great exercise to demonstrate the issue with small sight mis-alignment due to wide rear notches. If you have or know someone who has a pistol with a red dot and iron sights, this is a great tool! Put the red dot on a target at 25 yards or greater distance, now look down at the irons. Next mis-align the irons even slightly and see where the red dot goes. It’s an eye opener to see what the slight mis-alignment of sights will do at distance even though what you are looking at in the irons should be good enough, the dot tells a different story. Now here’s another experiment to see if it if sight alignment or your trigger manipulation is a bigger issue for smaller targets. Put the red dot on target and run the trigger in dry fire 5 shots in a row, run the trigger at different speeds even. If you are using a Glock use a zip tie to keep the gun out of battery so you can manipulate the trigger. What I have found is that most shooters can run the triggers fast at 50 yards and not move the dot off target. My conclusion after a lot of work and experiments with sights is that most modern pistol sights have a much looser sight picture than I prefer and more than I believe is necessary. If you go shopping for pistol sights you may read things like “ for old eyes or bad eyes or for fast shooting you NEED wide rear notches and or narrow front sights” I did some experimenting with sight sizes. I had a 5” pistol with a .125 wide front sight and installed a .115 wide rear sight on it. Now all the books would say this won’t work. What I discovered for myself was that it did work for all my shooting. I’m a big fan of fast and accurate shooting and this sight combination didn’t slow me down a bit running USPSA stages and when I went to 50 or 100 yards there was still a bit more air on either side of the sight picture than I wanted. But it was much easier to make 50 and 100 yard hits with this rear sight than with the .140 wide rear notch that was on the pistol. Now I do have decent vision at 40 years old so I had to test this theory with some “old eyes” I was training with a fella in his 50s that had never shot fiber optic front sights, so I let him shoot the gun I was just talking about. I should mention that this guy told me at the beginning of the day that he had “old eyes”. I didn’t tell him anything about the size of the rear compared to the front, we just shot. Through the day he performed very well across the board from super fast target transition work to smaller targets at distance. When we were done for the day I told him about the sights, he was surprised that it worked. I let several other shooters shoot that gun with similar results. I think they wouldn’t have tried it or would have said they had issues if I had told them about the sight specs before they shot. It would have all been mental limitations they imposed upon themselves based on theory that they read or heard without exploring for themselves. If you recall it was once believed that the world was flat…..

    So after all my experimenting with sights and not being able to buy what I thought would work very well I decided to pursue having some made different. I was very fortunate and ran into a dude willing to build me something different. What I wanted was a set of sights that made it very easy to see what you need for fast and accurate pistol shooting from the muzzle to 50 yards. I now have my own sight design in production and you can check them out on my website www.wayofthegun.us.

    Well that’s all the typing I can do for a day, I definitely have more info on this stuff to share come out to the range sometime and let’s explore! 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 Alias Training & Security Services. Each week Alias brings us a different Trainer and in turn they offer some words of wisdom.

    Gunfighter Moment – Pat McNamara

    Saturday, February 7th, 2015

    We cannot outperform our self-image. Many of us have a predetermined notion of where our peaks and valleys lie. Every once in a while we will outperform our current belief or nose dive and completely shit the bed. Enter the world of cognitive dissonance.

    Using my ‘Five Second Standard ‘drill as an example, we should perform fairly consistent with incremental improvements over time. Use IPSC targets and yard markers starting at 7 yards, 10 yards, 15, 20, etc. I call these yard lines ‘levels’.

    Set a timer to a five second par time. Start at the 7 yard line (level 1), weapon at a ready position. On the timer’s ‘Beep’, engage your target twice within those five seconds. Next, draw and engage your target twice in five seconds. Next, draw and engage your target twice strong hand only. If all six shots are in the ‘A’ zone, you have graduated level one.

    Next move to the 10 yard line (level two) and repeat the same. If all shots are in the ‘A’ zone, you have graduated level two. Keep moving up levels until you shoot outside of the ‘A’ zone.

    Sometime, even good shooters will drop out of level one or two. Take your medicine and fail quickly.in other words, get over it. It is a biological requirement for us humans to fail. These failures however, should not be a recurring theme. Learn from the past, prepare for the future and perform in the present.

    Patrick McNamara
    SGM, US Army (Ret)

    Pat McNamara

    Patrick McNamara spent twenty-two years in the United States Army in a myriad of special operations units. When he worked in the premier Special Missions Unit, he became an impeccable marksman, shooting with accurate, lethal results and tactical effectiveness. McNamara has trained tactical applications of shooting to people of all levels of marksmanship, from varsity level soldiers, and police officers who work the streets to civilians with little to no time behind the trigger.

    His military experience quickly taught him that there is more to tactical marksmanship than merely squeezing the trigger. Utilizing his years of experience, McNamara developed a training methodology that is safe, effective and combat relevant and encourages a continuous thought process. This methodology teaches how to maintain safety at all times and choose targets that force accountability, as well as provides courses covering several categories, including individual, collective, on line and standards.

    While serving as his Unit’s Marksmanship NCO, he developed his own marksmanship club with NRA, CMP, and USPSA affiliations. Mac ran monthly IPSC matches and ran semi annual military marksmanship championships to encourage marksmanship fundamentals and competitiveness throughout the Army.He retired from the Army’s premier hostage rescue unit as a Sergeant Major and is the author of T.A.P.S. (Tactical Application of Practical Shooting). He also served as the Principle of TMACS Inc.

    Gunfighter Moment is a weekly feature brought to you by Alias Training & Security Services. Each week Alias brings us a different Trainer and in turn they offer some words of wisdom.

    Gunfighter Moment – Mike Pannone

    Saturday, January 31st, 2015

    Safety vs. protocol: why safety is safe and protocol can be dangerous

    The topic of safety is always at the front of every individual and institutions consciousness. The obvious concern is to ensure people are not injured or killed in the conduct of training but safety has taken a turn years ago away from common sense to rote compliance. Often times range protocol is confused with range safety. Range protocol is that which a range complex will or will not allow individuals or groups to do as well as specific control measures and procedures designed, in the eyes of those that created them, to minimize risk. This is counterproductive to learning and good training because it does not require individuals to think and often violates tactical principles. They are designed to replace individual thought and proficiency. The implied task in all training is safety and that translates directly to operational safety.

    A few examples:

    • “Point your weapon down range” when actually you mean “Point your weapon in a safe direction.”

    o Down range is an administratively designated area where projectiles are intended to impact. Conditions and range status will identify it as a direction where a weapon may or may not be safely pointed and discharged.

    o A Safe Direction by definition is a conscious decision to point and manipulate a weapon in a direction where a negligent, accidental or mechanical failure discharge cannot harm personnel or equipment.

    o Down range is not always a safe direction so regardless of official status be aware. You are responsible for what your weapon does!

    • Not allowing someone to pick up a magazine that has been ejected and bounced 6” over the established firing line.

    o If it is so unsafe to reach over the firing line 6” (which I have witnessed repeatedly in institutional training both Mil and LE) then it’s probably not safe to even be standing next to the shooters on your left and right. Statistically more people are shot in parking lots at ranges than on the firing line.

    • Requiring shooters to drop a magazine on the ground when unloading. The methodology behind this is “if you drop a magazine into your hand on the range you’ll do it in a gunfight.”

    o If you can’t separate the difference between being in a gunfight and needing to reload your pistol/rifle versus clearing your system at the end of a firing sequence then you really shouldn’t have one in your hands if you may ever need it under pressure.

    Protocol robs the individual of the authority to think and in doing so people will not think because their actions are dictated. There is no individual more dangerous to themselves or others than those in possession of a lethal implement who are not only not thinking but not allowed to think only follow instructions.

    I have been in the presence of negligent discharges, some that have resulted in injury and one of three things that are always the first words out of the shooters mouth are either:

    “I didn’t see…”

    “I didn’t know…”

    “I didn’t think…”

    The last one is the only one that counts and the cause of the catastrophic failure. YOU DIDN”T THINK!!

    Do not confuse protocol with safety! Protocol may or may not enhance safety but safety itself is a standalone concept. There is safe training, high risk safe training and unsafe training.

    • Safe training is that which has been managed in a manner where injury is minimized by design and control measures. It is usually very basic in nature and highly structured.

    • High Risk safe training is more complex training with an elevated amount of assumed risk but is deemed necessary for operational requirements. It has specific control measures in place to mitigate the chance of mishap or injury.

    • Unsafe training is that which assumes an unnecessary amount of risk or more often than not is poorly designed and managed creating unnecessary and potentially catastrophic results. It lends itself to injury and catastrophic results and must never be undertaken.

    There is no time when unsafe training is acceptable.

    Safety:

    • Treat all weapons as though they are loaded regardless of their perceived condition.

    • Never point a weapon at anything you are not willing to kill or damage.

    • Keep your weapon on safe and finger off the trigger until your sights are aligned and you have made the conscious decision to fire.

    • Know your target, foreground, background, left and right. Be aware of the ballistic capability of your weapon, the intended target and the backstop.

    Down range is an administratively designated area where projectiles are intended to impact. Conditions and range status will identify it as a direction where a weapon may or may not be safely pointed and discharged. A Safe Direction by definition is a conscious decision to point and manipulate a weapon in a direction where a negligent, accidental or mechanical failure discharge cannot harm personnel or equipment.

    Down range is not always a safe direction

    If you have any doubt as to your actions STOP, THINK and then act accordingly because you can’t recall the bullet once it’s gone. Be safe and not a robot. In practice robotic actions are devoid of thought and that is ultimately dangerous. Protocol be damned, think first!

    – Mike Pannone

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    Mike Pannone retired from the Army’s premier assault force (1st SFOD-D) after an explosive breaching injury. A year after his retirement America was attacked on 9/11 and he returned to help serve his country as the head marksmanship instructor at the Federal Air Marshals training course and then moved to help stand up the FAMS Seattle field office. In 2003 he left the FAMS to serve as a PSD detail member and then a detail leader for the State Department during 2003 and 2004 in Baghdad and Tikrit.

    In 2005 he served as a ground combat advisor of the Joint Counter IED Task Force and participated on combat operations with various units in Al Anbar province. Upon returning he gave IED awareness briefings to departing units and helped stand up a pre-Iraq surge rifle course with the Asymmetric Warfare Group as a lead instructor. With that experience as well as a career of special operations service in Marine Reconnaissance, Army Special Forces and JSOC to draw from he moved to the private sector teaching planning, leadership, marksmanship and tactics as well as authoring and co-authoring several books such as The M4 Handbook, AK Handbook and Tactical Pistol shooting. Mike also consults for several major rifle and accessory manufacturers to help them field the best possible equipment to the warfighter, law enforcement officer and upstanding civilian end user. He is considered a subject matter expert on the AR based Stoner platform in all its derivatives.


    www.ctt-solutions.com

    Gunfighter Moment is a weekly feature brought to you by Alias Training & Security Services. Each week Alias brings us a different Trainer and in turn they offer some words of wisdom.

    Gunfighter Moment – Pat McNamara

    Saturday, January 3rd, 2015

    “It should surprise you when it goes off.”

    That’s always seems like bad advice to me. I’ve been surprised when the hammer falls, and it’s usually called a ‘Miss.’

    When we train, we should train to the point of knowing exactly when the hammer is going to fall. No surprises. In order to reach this point, proper repetition is paramount. To achieve proper repetition dry fire is necessary. Not the kind of dry fire where you are simply going through the motions, but deep practice and meaningful repetition.

    We should work to the point of automaticity.

    Automaticity is the ability to do things without occupying the mind with the low-level details required, allowing it to become an automatic response pattern or habit. It is usually the result of learning, repetition, and practice.

    Of the fundamentals, one that is sometimes neglected in teaching is presentation. Especially important in pistol fundamentals, the presentation is how you present the pistol from a ready position to your firing position. As part of your draw stroke, the presentation should lie as flat as possible for as long as possible mitigating arching or scooping. In a perfect world, the hammer should fall right at the apex of your presentation.

    Only through deep practice dry fire to the appropriate amount of repetition, can one achieve automaticity. When you’ve reached this point, with flat presentation and trigger preparation the dreaded ‘surprised shot’ will surprise you in that it will be an ‘A’ zone hit.

    Patrick McNamara
    SGM, US Army (Ret)

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    Patrick McNamara spent twenty-two years in the United States Army in a myriad of special operations units. When he worked in the premier Special Missions Unit, he became an impeccable marksman, shooting with accurate, lethal results and tactical effectiveness. McNamara has trained tactical applications of shooting to people of all levels of marksmanship, from varsity level soldiers, and police officers who work the streets to civilians with little to no time behind the trigger.

    His military experience quickly taught him that there is more to tactical marksmanship than merely squeezing the trigger. Utilizing his years of experience, McNamara developed a training methodology that is safe, effective and combat relevant and encourages a continuous thought process. This methodology teaches how to maintain safety at all times and choose targets that force accountability, as well as provides courses covering several categories, including individual, collective, on line and standards.

    While serving as his Unit’s Marksmanship NCO, he developed his own marksmanship club with NRA, CMP, and USPSA affiliations. Mac ran monthly IPSC matches and ran semi annual military marksmanship championships to encourage marksmanship fundamentals and competitiveness throughout the Army.He retired from the Army’s premier hostage rescue unit as a Sergeant Major and is the author of T.A.P.S. (Tactical Application of Practical Shooting). He also served as the Principle of TMACS Inc.

    Gunfighter Moment is a weekly feature brought to you by Alias Training & Security Services. Each week Alias brings us a different Trainer and in turn they offer some words of wisdom.