June 30th, 2012
What does that question mean to you?
Frequently, when instructing live fire use of force training, we typically ask students the “whys” we perform specific TTPs. While the “how” is important, of equal or greater importance is the “why” we do certain manipulations. As my colleague, Chris Fields at King 33 Training is oft quoted, “We want to create thinkers.” Executing is important and that execution will become streamlined and rote when the shooter understands the benefits and can internalize the context of what they are doing. A step further would be my ability to dance. Or, more appropriately, my INabilty to dance. To my mind’s eye, there is no context, rhyme or reason for the methodology, so I am on the dance floor looking like a fish out of water.
In the above captioned photo, one of my teammates took the photo at a great moment in time. (Please ignore the instructor’s “crazy eyes.”) The photo was taken in the midst of asking the students varied reasons why they would or should manipulate their equipment in a specific manner when performing an emergency reload.
While performing manipulations with my tools and equipment, I demand that three specific principles be adhered to as to allow the easiest, fastest and most fluid manner to operate, remediate and prepare my tools for “work.”
1. Economy of Motion: Humans naturally look for the path of least resistance, no matter the task. As I often state on the range, “I am not lazy, I’m efficient.” Whether limiting the number of steps, tool and/or body adjustments, or the range of motion that needs to be done to get the same output, I will gravitate to the simplest/easiest method. The byproduct of deconstructing these methods is creating a faster, more lethal (for the bad guy) manner to which my tools are made ready to go to work. Less steps to remember, the easier it is to train my mind and body to “remember” these steps under extreme stress and extenuating circumstances.
2. Extensible: How silly would it be to purchase and drive automobiles that had the Clutch, Brake and Throttle in different positions in the pedal cluster? Thankfully, there is a standard by which the automakers adhere to that prevents such a monumental mistake. In that vein, how do your weapon manipulations translate from one system to another? The manner in which you manipulate your defensive semiautomatic handgun should translate to the same root motions if you are prepared to use your AR-style semiautomatic rifle as a defensive firearm.
3. Reliable: Not just in the sense of accomplishing a task sucessfully 10/10, 100/100 or 1000/1000 times, but additionally, when (not if) the conditions in which you must use your tools in extremis have changed since you have trained last.
a. On the move? Yeah? …And?
b. Behind cover? Yeah? …And?
c. In extreme weather conditions? Yeah? …And?
d. Wearing different attire? Yeah? …And?
e. In close quarters? Yeah? …And?
f. In the dark? Yeah? …And?
g. Wounded? Yeah? …And?
h. With bloody hands? Yeah? …And?
i. Bilaterally? Yeah? …And?
j. With a battle-space pickup? Yeah? …And?
I am sure that any number of people reading this will add their own, “Yeah? …Ands?” to any tactic.
As a father of a little girl getting older and her scope of recognition increasing at a seemingly exponential rate, I am often faced with the ever-present question of, “But, why?” When did we, as adults, stop asking the “why” to what we are asked to perform? Is there a better, faster, more lethal manner to accomplish the same task? With something as serious as interpersonal combat, you are failing as a student if you don’t demand the answer to, “But, why?” and your instructor has failed you if they don’t give you a satisfactory answer to the same question.
Secure Alternatives, Inc.
The Utility of the Half Transfer
April 26th, 2012
Last night, I had a very interesting discussion with a friend (and former student) of mine. Through his travels, I met him almost two years ago when he attended a carbine class that I was instructing. As part of the doctrine, students in the POI were exposed to the whole body concept of using chosen weapons on both sides of the body. The bi-lateral transfer has been around in the tactical circles for quite some time and is, arguably, a critical skill to learn and train to make gun fighters more effective in the use of their tools, irrespective of hand and eye dominance.
Upon completion, a bi-lateral transfer has the shooter mounting their weapon on the support side, with a proper final firing grip and sight alignment on their non-dominant side of their body. A mirror image of a dominant side mount, if you will.
My friend asked me about the utility of not completing the transfer and only mounting the carbine on the support side, but maintaining a dominant side firing grip. I refer to this concept as a “half transfer.” I was exposed to this concept a number of years ago, trained with it and taught it to students for a brief amount of time. I have ceased teaching it for a number of reasons; please allow me the liberty of dissecting the reasons…
When looking at the utility of the full transfer, let’s look at circumstances that a shooter would choose or forced to mount their carbine on the support side of their body (in no particular order and non-exhaustive):
1. Maximizing Cover: Mounting on the support side of the body allows the shooter to conform to cover, exposing only enough of their body to affect a firing solution. Expose a muzzle and an eyeball rather than a significant portion of the upper body and head if you maintain a dominant side mount.
2. Injury: Very probable that the shooter may suffer an injury that would force the support side operation of the carbine.
3. Danger Areas: We don’t live in a world that prefers right or left handed shooters, as threats can present themselves to the right or left flank. More problematic with the long gun than a hand gun that can reliably be used unsupported, the effective fan of fire is severely limited based on simple body mechanics. Moving and addressing threats that appear to the dominant side flank, a shooter must make significant foot work changes (often resulting in the shooter walking backwards – the Tactical Moonwalk) to address threats to the support side flank.
In the example of #2 as a reason to execute a full transfer, is there utility in executing a half transfer? We must ask ourselves what is the nature of the injury? Is our dominant side eye out of the fight or did we suffer an injury that precludes the use of the dominant side trigger hand that is forcing us to operate the carbine from the support side? In the case of suffering injury to our dominant side trigger hand, the transfer is resulting from the need to operate the gun from the support side and having a less injured hand operate the trigger, safety, etc…
In the example of #3 as a reason to execute a full transfer, is there utility in executing a half transfer? Addressing threats to the dominant side flank, the full transfer allows for the maximum fan of fire without breaking the principle of the toes, knees, hips in the direction of travel. Simple body mechanics while executing a half transfer will severely limit one’s effective fan of fire, resulting in the same problems and symptoms if/when the shooter maintains a dominant side mount.
Where I have seen the utility of executing a half transfer is when the shooter is attempting to maximize cover by only exposing a muzzle and an eyeball. Instead of completing a full transfer, it is argued that there is less dwell time by maintaining a dominant firing grip on the support side rather than completing the transfer. Personally, I have not found this to be the case. I ask you to put it on the shot timer to see the time difference between a properly executed full transfer and a half transfer, I think you may be surprised. In those narrow circumstances, I see the utility of the half transfer when the shooter is attempting to maximize cover on the support side. But, consider what your adversary is doing (or should be doing)… I am sure they are taking the opportunity to flank you (I know that I would) and what side are they trying to exploit? 50/50 odds state that your adversary will go for dominant side. Does that half transfer provide enough range of motion for a wide fan of fire while you keep the support side of cover as you deliver effective rounds on the threat? Or, to get that fan of fire, you need to abandon the support side of the cover, re-establish a proper dominant side mount, expose and re-address the threat that is attempting to flank you?
Suffice to say, I see the utility of the half transfer when you have the need to use the support side of cover AND you don’t require a wide fan of fire. The full transfer allows for greater flexibility in circumstances and angles of engagement compared to the half transfer. That flexibility resulted in my abandoning the concept of the half transfer for my own use and teaching to shooters.
Secure Alternatives, Inc.
Stop Marrying Your Hardware
If hardware gets in the way of software, the hardware needs to go
April 26th, 2012
Gun owners should be celebrating. We are living in the golden age with state of the art self defense firearms and supporting equipment. Given the status of lawful concealed carry around the country and current counter terrorism operations overseas, we have the trickle-down effect of this hardware and software making its ways to the private citizen and individual officer.
Whole industries have sprung up overnight. Supporting the needs of our troops, police officers and private citizens, new and old companies alike are now offering training, new firearms, improvements to existing firearms and the ever-present supporting equipment to the public in a manner unprecedented in recent history.
That’s the good news.
The bad news is much of the equipment out there is garbage. Yup, I said it. Garbage. I will not sit here and attempt to dissect the business models of companies that put forth sub standard gear, all I will say is that I don’t think their heart and knowledge base is able to distinguish what they need to do to put out a good to great product. I also don’t have the inclination of putting together the Naughty and Nice list. Do your own research, the information is out there. You will find the quality gear.
I have looked at training, firearms and supporting equipment as life insurance and safety equipment. Much like I wouldn’t put my daughter into cut rate child safety seats or put 5 point racing harnesses in my rally car that I KNEW from experienced user’s feedback that they fail with increased frequency than competitors’ products; I based my selection of equipment and firearms on my own empirical data and the feedback from experienced users that I respected.
Can you make substandard equipment “work for you?” Sure you can, but I ask, “why?” Why am I going to waste valuable training time to overcome the limitations of a piece of hardware that can be simply substituted for a better piece of gear that delivers? Insurance and safety equipment is not a place to be counter culture for the sake of being counter culture. Save that for gauges in the ears, tattoos and the other hipster accessories. There are reasons that experienced users gravitate towards specific manufacturers, makes and models of equipment – because it works.
Every piece of gear that I have bought and hung on my belt, my armor, my gun or my range bag had to answer these simple questions: “Does it make me more accurate, faster and more lethal?” If it fails in any of those regards, it goes away. Simple as that.
As men, we will rarely admit mistakes. It is in our DNA that when we buy tools, cars, toys and firearms, we want to think it’s the best for what it is and rationalize every single fault of the gear. We’re dumb and driven by ego. With something as serious as interpersonal combat, it is time to educate ourselves, put those egos aside and do what’s right. Admit our mistakes, throw out the trash and get gear that works.
I am not a home improvement maverick, someone who is meticulous about his lawn or know how to build a computer. So, the DeWalt v. Milwaukee, John Deere v. Honda or AMD v. Intel discussions all fall flat with me. When/if I am in those circumstances and I need the best gear for the job, I have experts I will defer to guide my decision. I would not feel that a home improvement contractor questioning my choice in battery powered drills as an attack on me personally or akin to calling my baby ugly. An experienced user in the firearms community questioning your sling, your holster or your choice in SD firearms is not a personal attack and again, not akin to calling your baby ugly. Stop taking it personally.
Stop marrying your hardware. Stop. It is not a fashion accessory that is supposed to be an extension of your personality. Your training, firearms and supporting equipment is all there to save your life and the lives of your loved ones. The emotional attachment to your gear should be nothing more than a passing thought that you know it’s there and you know how to use it when things go sideways.
Secure Alternatives, Inc.
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