Showing posts with label CSAT. Show all posts
Showing posts with label CSAT. Show all posts

Saturday, January 2, 2016

2016 New Years Resolutions

Start hunting
Continue fishing
Organize/ refine food storage. Emphasis is less on sheer bulk but more on filling holes and putting it all together.

Better organize caches
Get another grinder (Corona?)
Pick up some additional rechargeable batteries to have 2 (3 is better) spare sets per new piece of commo gear
5gal kerosene
1x kero lantern w/ 4 wicks and spare globe
Various tools TBD maybe
1x brace and bit
1x buck saw or large bow saw
Chainsaw support gear (me thinks gloves, chaps, spare chain, file, plenty of 2 cycle oil, spark plugs, bar oil, etc)
Files for chainsaw and hand saws

Cordage: 1 spool of 550 cord, 5x 100 ft light rope

Organize a good household first aid kit
Beef up my vehicle first aid kit.

Inventory gear, spare parts and other moderately priced items
Better organize gear and such

Life (personal):

Fill my newfound spare time in useful ways.

Solidify existing relationshiips and put time/ energy/ money into that effort.

Build new relationships.

Have some fun.

Watch more live music.

Life (functional/ goals):

Establish a zero or near zero based budget to manage my current financial situation allowing me to save, have fun and pursue preparedness goals.

Go back to school.

Figure out 1/3/5 year goals for where I want to be and backwards plan from there.

Overall my goals are to work on my life, get/ stay healthy, and figure out what my life is going to look like. In terms of preparedness I want to work hard on skills, firm up communications, get better organized, get some ammo and another AR then work on smaller stuff to round out what I already have.

So those are my draft goals. I am interested in your thoughts. I will think on my thoughts some more, consider your input and then make the draft into a finished product.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Training #1: Barriers to Training

I have wanted to talk about this for awhile and today is as good of a day as any. I want to have a polite and respectful discussion about barriers, both real and perceived, that prevent people from going out and getting the quality training they need. Max Velocity has been talking about this for awhile now. Maybe in some way others can benefit from this. The format for each issue will be:


I will try to do this in some sort of logical flow of psychological, physical and financial/ logistical. So here we go.

Barrier- "I don't need any fancy training, I've been shooting my whole life."
Discussion- Every red blooded American man who owns a gun thinks they are a legitimate gunfighter at a completely bad assed Raylan Givens or Kyle Lamb (CSM, RET) type of level. The problem with this idea is that people A) are so fundamentally ignorant on the topic(s) at hand that they are unable to assess their own ability and B) these people are universally failing to train to any worthwhile, measurable standards that factor in both time and accuracy. Saying it more seriously you should look up Cognative bias or just read John Mosby's post on it.

It is a huge ego thing.What I would submit to people is that being ignorant of a topic that involves violence does not make you a bad person or weak or anything like that. You are no less of a man (I say that because this is 100% a male issue) for not being able to clear a malfunction and reload an M4 in the dark, or execute an ambush which I can, than I am for not being able to wire a house or fix a car or something you know how to do. Fighting is just a skill and like any other one if you want a skill you lack the way to fix that is to go out and learn it.
Recommendation- Test yourself to a measurable standard. If a person gets a timer and shoots any decent combat based such as the CSAT Tactical Pistol Instructor standards they might eat a serious dose of humble pie.

Barrier- "I am/ was a Marine/ Soldier/ Cop so I know everything about everything."
Discussion- Experiences, in particular combat related ones are very powerful. To be honest without taking anything away from whatever you might have done unless you recently retired as an E8/E9 Tier 1 Jedi or as a senior SWAT Officer from a major city or Federal organization I would submit you might still have some things to learn. This will bleed slightly into the next planned post (What to train on) but I would say these folks might have valid experiences in one area (an Infantryman is probably pretty decent with rifles and a Cop should know how to shoot a handgun) but be entirely inexperienced in other areas. Reference the discussion of standards in the last piece.
Recommendation- First measure yourself against a quantifiable standards that factor in both time and accuracy. Second prioritize training in your weaker areas first.

Barrier- "I'm too old/ fat/ out of shape to go get training."
Discussion- Of course you have to be realistic. If you have some serious medical/ physical issues they may well prevent you from some more physical training. In Lost John Locke tried to do an Australian Walk About type survival thing in a wheel chair. Obviously that would not work. An 80 year old woman with a walker is not going to be able to do a 3 day patrolling class where you live out of a ruck that is carried on your back. That being said.....

It is my general impression that potential students regularly abstain from training they would be fine in due to this concern. Most classes are set up to accommodate a reasonable range of fitness levels. Look, while the military and law enforcement are heavy on fairly fit 20 and 30 somethings the civilian training market is a decade older and 20-30 pounds heavier. Aside from some classes that are probably MIL/LEO exclusive you will likely see a broad range of fitness levels. Nobody gives a shit if you are fat so stop being so self conscious about it. If in doubt I would say to contact the instructor before signing up for the class an lay out your specific concerns.

My general observation is within practical limits most instructors will help find a way to accommodate whatever issues you may have. They might adjust some pieces of instruction to say have a person who can't run omit running pieces and walk or just start at the shooting point. Instructors do this because a) they are good people who genuinely want to train others and b) they are capitalists and your money is green.
Recommendation- Obviously don't sign up for a class that involves climbing a building and living out of a ruck if you are in a wheel chair. Beyond that if in doubt just ask the folks running the class. Instructors worth dealing with will work with you as much as they can.

Financial/ Logistical
Barrier- "I can't afford to train."
Discussion- Taking a step back. We live in a very consumerist society. This extends to firearms and training. People would rather go buy a shiny new widget or a really, really expensive gun than work on the fundamentals and get better with the guns they have. We are very hardware centric with minimal interest in software. If someone sold a widget that was supposed to make you shoot better for $500 (and many companies do) folks would line up around the block for it. On the other hand folks are far less likely to financially and emotionally suck it up and pay hard earned money to learn skills they need but do not possess. Look at any blog and compare comments/ views on a post about a new accessory for an AR-15 vs one about training.

To the specific question. Obviously if you make 25k a year and have 6 kids a training class with an all in cost of say $700 might well be entirely unfeasible or a multi year savings type goal. However if you have some disposable income and are using it to buy more stuff instead of training it is an issue of prioritization not economics.

There are certainly ways to minimize costs on training. Many places have some sort of lodging or allow camping. Taking classes within driving distance of your location helps to keep costs reasonable also. Maybe find a friend to split gas and hotel costs with.
Recommendation- Aside from real low income folks if you prioritize training the money situation will work out.

I hope this gives you something to think about. Comments are open as always.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

SA Defense Force Vets Fighting Islamic Terrorists in East Africa

Max Velocity and Peter both mentioned it. Whatever you might think of Apartheid South Africa some of those guys were kick ass fighters. After the move to majority rule a lot of very experienced fighters were suddenly unemployed. Some of them started a PMC called Executive Outcomes. If you are bored some Sunday go down the rabbit hole learning about them, very interesting stuff. They made Blackwater look like a mom and pop security guard operation.

In any case some of those guys are still out fighting for hire. They are killing terrorists, real asshole types, so I wish them good hunting.

On another note Max Velocity is offering a discount for summer training. Max's place has a nice canopy of trees that cuts the heat and the schoolhouse. I would certainly hydrate and (a thing I saw at CSAT) bring a cooler full of Gatorade. The point is people use weather as an excuse not to train just about all the time. The winter is cold, often in the spring it is rainy. Summer is hot and fall is full of holidays where we all do family stuff. Save your money, look at your calender and get the training you need as soon as possible.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

CSAT Tactical Pistol Operator Course Review

Today I am going to be reviewing a pistol course I recently attended. I went over to Combat Shooting and Tactics (CSAT) for their Tactical Pistol Operator Course.

The good:

A significant reason why I chose to train at CSAT was it's owner and primary instructor Paul Howe. Without overly 'tooting his horn' there is not anyone involved in modern tactical firearms instruction with a significantly better background to do what they do than Paul Howe. [Though he has a few peers such as Kyle Lamb, Pat McNamara, Larry Vickers and Frank Proctor, plus surely some Navy guys with similar credits.] He spent over a decade in a tier one Special Operations unit as an NCO. He was either doing bad things to bad people, or training others to do bad things to bad people for over a decade. When it comes to tactical weapon employment and self defense arguing anyone has much, if anything, on Paul Howe is an uphill battle.

This class starts with a brief introduction to firearms safety as well as the procedures they want you to use for clearing, loading, etc handguns. At this time the rules of the range and administrative considerations were discussed.

We also had a brief discussion of gear options with a focus on a tactical, assault type set up.
After the admin notes we had a period of instruction on drawing, gripping and firing a pistol. We then moved in to a drill based on the instruction.

The way the class worked is that we would come together for a period of instruction. After the period of instruction we would execute a drill. This broke pretty evenly into modules that were 45-50 minutes long. After a module we would reload magazines and ‘fluids in/ fluids out’ then move to the next module.

The class flowed in a logical, cumulative sequence. We took a break at lunch to eat then got back at it till about 4pm. The next day we got together at 8 and began again in the same format as the day before. It ended around 330 on Sunday.

I cannot necessarily recall every single drill or the flow of them but it all worked really well and built on itself. We trained on a variety of drills and the kneeling position.

Instructors were present and walked the line giving reminders and additional guidance as needed. They did a real good job of tempering this to the individual students experience level which varied widely. The DPS SRT member was on a different level than the eager, but decidedly new to guns, couple from San Francisco.

Day 1 ended with shooting some standards and being videotaped.

Day 2 began with watching the video from the end of Day 1. Being able to watch ourselves was a valuable visual of our shortcomings. Reminders were given. Following that we discussed some tactical issues and went over some real world shooting cases. Additionally we had a discussion about concealed carry gear, rifles and active shooter type bags.

After building fundamentals on day 1 we moved into different scenarios for day 2. First we worked on moving with hot weapons around people and shooting for precision in a hostage scenario. Next moved around/ between and shot from vehicles. After vehicles we worked on point of aim on a target wearing a t shirt and shot standards. After that we shot from behind barriers. The class culminated with us shooting the CSAT instructor standards to receive a score which can be used as a reference point for the future.

Specific take aways. Way too many to mention.

Draw to high ready and firing was trained. It was in line with the modern isosoles method but not strictly speaking a ‘4 step draw’. Paul said the reason for this is a fixation on sub steps (between holster and shooting) leads to artificial stops in the middle. This lead to a draw with the hands coming together at the high ready then pressing out fast into position, prepping the trigger while extending the arms, and shooting once you get the front sight. The result was a smooth movement that was natural.

Draws started from what Paul calls ‘interview stance’ in a natural athletic position with your hands together at roughly chest level. The reason for this is it’s a good universal position for a potentially violent situation. You can fight with hands, block, etc from there.

From other life experiences this is a good compromise between some sort of fighting stance which is aggressive and can be seen mistakenly by witnesses and being ready to get clobbered with your hands at your sides. In the past I have used the open hands towards people stance but Paul’s option is just fine. Really the difference between a fighting stance and these other stances is fists being closed and slightly higher. Either way the point to have your hands up and ready to react is significant.
Natural point of aim was a big point of the class. Going from a natural athletic type stance such as ‘interview’ through your draw should put the front sight on target at pistol fighting ranges. We still used sights but the goal is through proper mechanics that when you make the decision to shoot and your pistol leaves the high ready it lands on target.

Since we decide to shoot when leaving the high ready the trigger is being prepped from that point to full extension where you shoot. This movement is quite fast. The goal was under 1 second to hit a 6X13 vital zone at 7 yards. I achieved this goal albeit dead on with no margin for error.
The point to do things consistently was significant in the class. Example, every time you work the slide on a pistol grab it overhand. I was definitely guilty of using a ‘pinch’ technique for administrative stuff in the past so this was a point of improvement for me. The point of this is to be consistent across the board.

Dove tailing from that point the key that shooting is really all about consistence was pressed.
Both in the course of instruction and on the spot corrections to shooters Paul made a big point of only adjusting one thing at a time. I believe in the course of instruction the reason for this is to isolate a variable and guide shooters to the right answer FOR THAT VARIABLE. Over the course of instruction we worked through these in a logical sequence to end up in about as good of a place as a person can get in 2 days. For on the spot corrections Paul did the same thing. The reason was that a person can only really focus on changing one or maybe two things at a time.

The importance of automatically re acquiring your site picture after a shot was made. The reason for this is that it saves the time of doing so and thus speeds up the follow up shot if needed.
In a tactical sense we discussed managing encounters. The basics being awareness, verbal engagement [“I don’t want to talk with you today. Get away from me, do it now” doesn’t leave much room for ambiguity. If somebody ignores that they are deaf or planning something bad.], the use of objects such as vehicles or gas pumps to create space and such. This also lead to some interesting discussion on use of force with currently serving LEOs in the room.

Use of force is a really complicated discussion and I would not hesitate to give any form of legal advice. That being said one might want to look at how their state treats civilians in use of force scenarios. In say Texas the odds are a person who acts reasonably is going to be OK, not so much in California. Just another thing to think about.

So much more stuff than I could remember. Honestly it was 2 days of drinking from a fire hose.
The Bad: I wasn’t able to take this class last year. Was signed up but work messed it up. Something came up and it was going to be OK, just narrowly. Our schedule was delayed 3 days out (from the class) and I was stuck in the Middle East. Paul said no big deal and cut me a full refund. A year later it worked out for me to take the class.

The Ugly: I didn’t take this class a decade ago.

Pistols- The class was probably 40% Glock, 30% M&P, 15% Sig and the rest were a mix of different pistols (a couple of those new H&K’s and I think some sort of new Walther.) Two of the SIGs were duty guns for Texas LEO’s and the other was a guy from San Francisco. He had a real hard time managing the DA first shot on that gun. Darn near pulled every one of them. He is going to buy a Glock.

Most folks shot compact or full sized handguns. A couple guys had subcompact Glocks. One swapped out in favor of his G19 and the other has a young guy (like under 18) who shot Dads Glock 30S the whole time. His had was pretty darn sore. Most guns were in 9mm, there were quite a few .40’s, about 3 .45’s and one guy using the Texas DPS issued Sig in .357 SIG.

Most shooters were using some sort of OWB kydex belt holster. A few like me had drop type rigs. The LEO’s were wearing their Batman Belts with Safariland holsters.
I used a TT Duty Belt, my Safariland 6125 with a ghetto rigged leg strap, and a TT double mag pouch. Would have used my HSGI rig but I wanted to keep it simple. From here on out I will practice mostly with the HSGI Costa Leg Rig.

Planned Gear Changes:
Pistol- Grip force adapter to let me get a slightly higher grip and have more surface area on the gun.
Gear- I could use a couple inch longer leg strap for the Safariland. Otherwise I think I’ll stick with that rig for awhile and see how it goes. I need some of those belt keepers to keep my inner belt and duty belt together, especially if I’ll be wearing it for awhile.
Conclusion: The class rocked and I strongly recommend it.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Dry Fire

Today I did my pistol dry fire like a good little wanna be Jedi. Realized I need to pick up some snap caps for practicing clearing malfunctions and reloads. Also sorely need a timer but that was a known issue and is going to be handled in a few days when I get paid and we do 'personal money.'

Beyond that I decided I'm going to try sticking with my current holster for awhile. I like that it can function without the thigh strap so if I was say rucking I could just wrap that part around the holster and have it off my leg. I also like, though it is a touch slower, that the SLS puts my thumb in the right position. I just keep it there and draw, the other hand falls into the right position, prep trigger, lock/ lock, front sight and press. Things are starting to get fluid and comfortable. Once I have a timer to measurably push speed we'll be cooking with gasoline.

Other than that no big thoughts. For safety procedures I clear my weapon, move to a different room that has a safe backstop and dry fire. I then leave the room (ending the session), reload and put my gun back in the safe. People either fundamentally mess up by failing to clear the gun in the first place, or more commonly reload thinking they will be done then go for just one more rep. This is where the psychological effect of a separate space matters with the back up of a safe direction ideally with backstop. A backstop could be a brick/ masonry wall or something improvised like a couple sand bags.

Dry fire is free, can be done in your home and if used properly will make your live fire training a whole lot more effective. You can dry fire to practice getting that first round on target fast as well as mechanical stuff like reloading and malfunction drills. Live fire is needed for recoil management, transitions, etc.

Previously I was a bit hesitant to further build bad or sub optimal habits but now that I have a solid foundation to build on it is game time.

I think I'm going to shoot for 4 sessions a week. Want to primarily work concealed pistol with some secondary emphasis on tactical pistol and carbine. Unsure how I should program that. 1 topic per each session or some mix and match. What do you think? What do you do?

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Shooting Weekend

I spent the weekend in the woods of East Texas shooting pistols. Burned up about 600 rounds over the course of two days. It was a blast but two busy days left me with a sore hand, beat up and mentally exhausted. My pistol shooting is better than when I came. Also probably more importantly, I've began the development of solid technique and have an understanding of how to use that technique and continue to improve.

Later this week I will do a full post, or a couple posts, fully describing the experience. 

CSAT Rocks!
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