Range Master Conference 2017: John Farnam “Let’s Not Shoot Ourselves”

John Farnam of Defense Training International gave a great presentation on gun accidents and safely living with guns this year at the Range Master Conference. I made it a priority to attend the old guard’s presentations (Ayoob and Farnam in particular) because I don’t want them to retire before I’m able to hear them lecture a few times.

Mr. Farnam has forgotten more about shooting and tactics than I’ll ever know. It’s a privilege to hear him speak. This topic is of great interest to me, being a protege of Claude Werner, the negative outcome guy. I’ve come to find out that Farnam got Claude thinking about this topic way back in the 90’s. So it was great hearing this material from the source.

I’ll type up my notes in shorthand bulleted form. All material is the property of Mr. Farnam, and I’m only sharing it to hopefully keep someone from negligently shooting something they don’t want to.

  • We are the most likely person to hurt ourselves with our guns. Why? Because we’re there.
  • Yes, guns are dangerous. Like a chainsaw. We accept that danger because it’s a useful tool.
  • We need to get rid of the word ‘safety’. It’s not the word, but the implication of the word.
  • “What can I do so nothing bad will ever happen to me?” What planet do you live on?
  • In times of change, learners will inherit the earth. Be a learner.
  • Once something is written down and canonized, it’s hard to change
  • From The Walking Dead (which John doesn’t watch)
    -you KNOW how I feel about guns!!
    -guns don’t care how you feel…
  • Into the ER ~75% are accidental self inflicted wounds. ~25% are suicide and attempts. and only ~1-2% are between two people on purpose.
  • Risk attaches itself to guns, our job is to manage that risk. Understand that risk also attaches to NOT owning guns.
  • In the end, the bacteria win anyway…
  • Good tactics doesn’t mean taking NO risk, it means minimizing and taking the best risk
  • There are two times we touch our guns:
    -Administratively- At least 2 times a day, It must be adequately secured 100% of the time. Don’t let your gun get into unauthorized hands. If your gun is stolen and used in a crime, you can be held liable if you failed to secure it properly.
    -Tactically- Using in defensive situation
  • The best place for your gun is on you and in your direct control, and it’s also the most useful place for it to be. When it’s not on, it must be secured.
  • “adequately secure” is an educated guess. John prefers to keep his pistol on the floor of the hotel room. No children in the room, and safer than on the night stand where you could paw at the trigger while half asleep. Have to evaluate your own situation.
  • Industry standard for trigger weight is 5-7#
  • Trigger too heavy? No practical accuracy (see NY2 12# triggers. Story: 2 cops shot 9 bystanders)
  • We don’t live in a nation of laws, but a nation of agendas. What control do we have? We must work within the agendas (laws) to make the most of it.
  • HOLSTERING is the MOST dangerous thing we do with our guns.
  • Appendix has distinct advantages, but be very careful holstering. Bow hips forward, look muzzle into holster mouth
  • Have a strong trigger finger register on the pistol frame.
  • Watch for students who have sloppy fingers. Not just the trigger finger, but middle and ring fingers during holstering.
  • Scenario based training has inherent safety risks, but it is so valuable that we accept those risks and try to have robust safety protocols.
  • Biggest safety issue is ‘condition based gun handling’. “Oh but this gun is unloaded” (as he muzzles everyone in the room). Treating guns differently by the ostensible condition of the gun.
  • Safe ranges are bullshit
  • Cooper- Guns are guns, we don’t do condition based handling.
  • Notes on the fundamental rules
  • “All guns are always loaded” \
  • Guns have to be pointed somewhere, choose the best thing to catch a bullet that’s around. Take the best risk
  • “only place your finger on the trigger when you are prepared to shoot” or “Only touch the trigger when your sights are indexed on the target and you’ve made the decision to fire… right now”
  • “be sure of your target…” Being SURE will never let you get anything done. You probably will point the gun at innocent people, despite your best efforts
  • “The onion field shooting” 1960’s LAPD
  • Deadly Sin – Relaxing too soon. End the drill on the link, come off the trigger, end ready to shoot more.
  • You’re at training to fail
  • Always wear glasses around guns. Story of guy who took a manually ejected unfired AK cartridge to eyeball at the end of the training day.
  • What causes Negligent Discharges?
  • Poor Procedures (clearing barrels… Rack charging handle, remove mag, press trigger in barrel… boom)
  • Distractions and Interruptions, turn off tv, stop conversations, if you’re interrupted start from the beginning.
  • Unnecessary gun handling. (instagram, anyone?)
  • The implications of the hot range. Always start and finish with a loaded gun. When you leave tell me how you want your gun. Don’t let them leave with empty gun in holster or in the hand.

 

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Range Master Conference 2017: Bolke/Dobbs What Really Matters

This is the first of several posts that will be a summary of  my notes from the Range Master Tactical Conference. All material belongs to the presenters and I am posting my notes for the benefit of the greater body of knowledge available to those who couldn’t make it.

Darryl Bolke and Wayne Dobbs of Hardwired Tactical gave an excellent lecture and range session that is spun off from their previous lecture “Training Secrets of Highly Successful Gunfighters”.

Darryl’s forum posts are what inspired me to write Zen and the Art of Not Shooting, as well as What Does Avg. Joe Need In A Trigger. I was looking forward to hearing him talk about these topics in more detail.

Classroom

  • “Practice makes permanent” – Pat Rogers
  • “Train for maximum efficiency at an assessment speed on an acceptable target” -HiTS
  • Assessment speed-The speed at which you can see, interpret, and choose where to hit a target. Asking yourself, “is my target still there? No? Stop Shooting. Yes? Keep shooting”
  • Acceptable target- Is a target about the size of a grapefruit – period (The black of a B-8 bullseye target) Heart and brain are both about this size.
  • Always be thinking you’ll need a failure drill (ending with a headshot) and practice with that in mind.
  • Why should we shoot faster than we can assess and faster than we can stop? You want to go fast? Then go ‘street fast’.
  • Draw but don’t touch the trigger until you have a good sight track. This isn’t good for shooting, but it’s good for people management.
  • Don’t touch the trigger until you have satisfied these three. Target ID, Objective reason to shoot, and your firearm is aligned with that shoot target.
  • Let’s be right before we touch the trigger.
  • “Advanced Shooting” is just more difficult problems applying the same fundamentals
  • They like the overhand rack method to solve multiple problems with the gun.
  • Train what is hard (50 and 100 yd pistol shooting, for instance)
  • Train to an accuracy standard, not a time.
  • Application of lethal force – The only thing going through your head should be front sight, press, follow through
  • You WILL be able to see movement of your target peripherally while maintaining a hard focus on your sights. Use your sights.
  • All you REALLY need in a carry gun is sights I can see, a usable trigger, and reliability
  • Revolvers still work.
  • If you’re slower than .3 second splits, practice shooting faster
  • If you’re faster than .2, you don’t need to concentrate on shooting faster
  • There is almost never a need to perform a slidelock or speed reload
  • Move at ‘natural human speed’ (the speed that your hands move to catch a sneeze), don’t be spazzy.
  • LAPD trains to a .5 second split time
  • It takes about .3 seconds to stop shooting once you’ve decided to
  • If your splits are faster than .3 seconds, you’ll fire unintentionally until the signal to stop makes it to your hands. (force science)


(Poor Audio. This is Dobbs talking about force science research about the time it takes to stop shooting)

Range and Drills

Ken Hackathorn – Super Test (On b8 from low ready). The Advanced ST is shot from holster, same par times. A good score is 270

  • 15 yds, 10 rounds, 15 seconds
  • 10 yds, 10 rounds, 10 seconds
  • 5 yds, 10 rounds, 5 seconds

Single shot from holster. x ring accuracy standards

  • 5 single shots from a low ready at 7 yds (A legit ready, aimed below the ‘feet’ of your target)
  • 5 doubles from low ready at 7 yards. (10 shots)

These drills are critical for grip, sight usage, trigger control, and follow-through

Don’t give them a free chance. Sight alignment should improve as you progress through a string of fire. Sights/Slack/Hit?(give it about 2 seconds of assessment, don’t snatch it back unless you perceive a slide lock or malfunction)

  • 5yds, 5 rounds, 5 seconds on a 5″ circle
  • 3rds, 3 rnds, 3 seconds from holster with a sidestep

Qual A:

  • 25 yds, 4 seconds, 2 shots, low ready
  • 15 yds, 3 seconds, 2 shots, low ready
  • 10 yds, 3.5 seconds, 2body 1 head, low ready
  • 7 yds, 3 seconds, 2body 1head, low ready, 2 reps
  • 5 yds, 2.5 seconds, 2body 1head, low ready, 2 reps
  • 3 yds, 2 seconds, 2 body 1 head, low ready, 2 reps
  • 7 yds, 4 seconds, 2 body 1 head, from holster, step left, then right (2 reps)
  • 5 yds, 3 seconds, 2 body 1 head, from holster, step left, then right (2 reps)
  • 3 yds, 2 seconds, 1 headshot, from holster, step left then right (2 reps)

Scoring:

  • 80% pass
  • head (t-box) – 2 points
  • Outside the t-box – 1 point
  • within 8 ring of b8 – 2 points
  • within 7 ring of b8 – 1 point
  • all else – 0 points

 

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Picking Your Carry Gun Based On Shooting Metrics

In the interest of practicing what I preach, as well as giving me something to do, I have decided to pick the ‘best’ carry pistol for me from my current small collection. This journey is mine alone, but I encourage you to think about what you value in a carry gun, do some research, and then shoot your short list side by side with a few drills that highlight the skills you’re likely to need.

Rather than rely on changing fancies over different guns and brands, and to avoid the collector trap (which I can’t afford), I want to pin down what is ‘best’ based on actual numbers, and then go with that choice for a while.

Like Chris at LuckyGunner, I’m going to start compiling my own scoreboard of guns by shooting the same few drills and getting comparison numbers. This is something I talked about in my youtube article.

If you’ve been with me for a bit, then you know that over the last couple of years, I have had a shift in priority for my carry guns. To quickly reiterate, my priorities are, in order:

  1. Not shooting myself
  2. Not shooting what I don’t want to shoot
  3. Shooting what I want to shoot

Mechanical Requirements and Features

I’ve spent a lot of skull sweat weighing the relative importance of shooting the gun accurately, shooting the gun at speed, day to day handling, threat management, one handed manipulation ease, weight and carry comfort, concealability, magazine capacity, accessory and magazine cost and support, and company reputation.

I’ve taken a honest hard look at the number of negative outcomes from things like NDs (negligent discharge) from sloppy administrative gun handling, trigger checking in high stress situations, sympathetic hand movement, and support gear failure/wardrobe malfunctions. It became apparent that I should acknowledge that I’m probably not as good as I think I am, and that leaning on a mechanical feature to add an extra layer of safety isn’t a sign of weakness.

A post shared by ENDO (@everydaynodaysoff) on

 (ouch for this guy. Keep an eye on your gear)

Here’s a short list of what I currently value in a carry gun, all things considered.

  • Reliability. I use the ‘2000 round challenge‘ that TLG outlines. Though an initial 200-300 round break-in and subsequent testing with carry ammo is a good start down that road.
  • No manual safeties. No extra buttons to get the gun into action. I’m not against guns with safeties, I just have chosen to go down the path buying guns without them. I like decocker only for DA/SA guns.
  • Ability to monitor the trigger with the thumb while holstering via either an exposed hammer, tactile striker indicator or Striker Control Device (The Gadget) on a Glock
  • Double Action Only. I was on a DA/SA kick with the Beretta PX4c, but I decided that I favor the shot-to-shot trigger consistency of a DAO. The long deliberate trigger press helps with people management and mitigates a few of the possible negligent situations mentioned above. I also feel like I pay more attention to my sights through the longer trigger press, which I realize is a personal problem. Claude has mentioned that this phenomena is not unique to me, however.
  • Overall concealability for my current living situation and needs.

The Drills

I chose three drills. One is pure speed, one is pure accuracy, and the last is an integration of speed and accuracy at varying distances and is used by the LAPD. Claude Werner chose and modified the LAPD course to rank some guns and I glommed on with him.

The drills are:

  • The Bill Drill from a Low Ready at 3 yards. 6 shots from a low ready on an target I can’t miss allows me to find my split-time/speed limit with that gun. The low ready starting point means I don’t have to have support gear for the gun I am testing and can shoot at a range where drawing from a holster isn’t allowed.
  • 25 yard, 10 shots slow-fire on a B-8 bullseye, unsupported. Calculating the score. Pure accuracy. Sights and Trigger.
  • (TacProf modified) LAPD Combat Course (Page 11 of this PDF). This one includes various ranges, par times, emergency and speed reloads, shooting from cover, drawing the gun, shooting from a low ready, target transitions, and some headshots. It’s a challenging course of fire that is scored for points, so there is some scoring resolution at the higher skill levels.

The Guns

  • Glock 19 (My ‘control’ firearm that I’ve carried for 9 years). Striker fired, 15 round magazine. .120″ Ameriglo fiber optic sights, 3.5# connector and 6# Trigger spring.
  • Sig Sauer P250 Compact with a medium-subcompact grip module. 12 round magazine. Double Action Only with a trigger like a smoothed out revolver. Ameriglo Orange front sight.
  • H&K P30sk with V1 “Light LEM” trigger. This is my newest pistol. 10 round mag. Double action only. The LEM trigger has long light travel up until you get to a 6lb or so trigger break. It feels like a marriage of the weight of a Glock trigger with the trigger travel of the P250.
L to R: P30sk 10 round, Sig P250 12 round, Glock 19 15 round. I don’t know how HK can’t fit 2 more rounds in their mag, but who am I to ask questions?

The Results

Ammo: Freedom Munitions 124gn reloads.

  • Glock 19

Avg. Split Time: .25 seconds

25 yd B-8 Scores: 48/100, and 60/100

LAPD Combat Course:*

  • Sig P250 Compact

Avg. Split Time: .29 seconds

25 yd B-8 Scores: 46/100, and 70(1x)/100

LAPD Combat Course:*

  • HK P30sk

Avg. Split Time: .228 seconds

25 yd B-8 Scores: 76(2x)/100, and 76(0x)/100

LAPD Combat Course:*

*I haven’t had an opportunity to shoot the LAPD combat course yet, but will add to the post when I do.

The Conclusion

I really don’t have a logical explanation for why I could shoot my new sub-kompact HK better than a pistol I exclusively shot and trained with for over 9 years. The only excuse I can think of is that I shot the Glock early in the session, and as I warmed up, my scores improved. Alternatively, I simply shoot this HK better than my G19.

If I go strictly by the numbers, the HK gets the nod. If I go by what features I have the warm and fuzzies about, the Sig or HK get the nod. I’m glad my perceived needs aligned with my test scores.

I’d admit that the results are close enough to probably not matter. It’s really a wash. I also realize I have a slow trigger finger. I’m also not a high volume shooter, with most of my practice coming in the form of dry-fire. Ultimately, my visual and mental processing speed and decision making ability will be the speed limit of my shooting, not the physical manipulation of the gun.

As a result of my findings, I’ll be strapping on the P30sk in the morning for the foreseeable future. The Sig will get a X300U and a Safariland ALS Holster for House Gun Duty. The Glock19 will cry in the safe.

I encourage you to do similar testing for yourself. You won’t know which of your guns you shoot best until you run the numbers. Don’t get married to specific gun based on ego, time invested, stubbornness, or blind trust in an instructor’s recommendation. Also, don’t change guns with the wind. Consistency and dedication to the grind is the key. Almost any gun will do, if you will.

Thanks,
Mark

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Memento Mori – 4″ Decal

I decided I wanted a symbol that I could plaster around my house to keep the ‘Memento Mori’ theme alive in my mind. I designed these simple stickers and I’m quite pleased with them. I made extras for my friends (you all).

If you’d like to buy one, here’s a link to the webpage: https://www.freewebstore.org/growing-up-guns-e-store/Memento_Mori__Skull_4__Vinyl_Decal/p3687249_16970782.aspx

For those who have joined the blog recently, here’s the post to have all this seem relevant to this blog and possibly important to you in your life: https://www.growingupguns.com/2015/12/28/goal-setting-remember-that-you-will-die/

Thanks for your ongoing support, it means the world to me.

Mark