Happy 2018 Everyone! Sorry for the long absence. I've been concentrating on family and haven't felt the itch to write. I'll be back this year with more. For today, we have GuG's first guest post. The author's name is Jaycel Adkins and he is a small business owner in North Florida. Writer at READY AT HAND on Facebook. Find him on instagram as @stoic.ninja. He's an avid reader, Stoic, Jiu Jitsu practitioner, shooter, and deep thinker. I'm very fortunate to be able to post this review. I really like his take on the AAR as more than a cataloging of topics. I hope you like it too.
Even in this age, there still exist videos that stain one’s soul.
The video is in black and white. There is no sound. The angle looks down at the front of a restaurant. The camera bears witness to a 2 year old boy sweeping the sidewalk. A couple passes him. Then a darkly dressed man approaches.
The attack is sudden and violent. A soccer kick to the child’s face. The child falls. The darkly dressed man stomps on the child’s head 13 times. He picks up the child’s dropped broomstick.
Another man, on a scooter passes by on the sidewalk. And keeps going.
The darkly dressed man strikes the child with the broomstick 10 times.The darkly dressed man then picks up the dust pan, turning it’s edge toward the child. He raises it.
Another man, walks past on the sidewalk. And keeps going.
The darkly dressed man brings the edge of the pan down upon the child 8 times.
Another man followed by a group of people emerge from the restaurant and confront the darkly dressed man.
He casually turns and walks down the street, before the group gives chase.
The child remains on the ground…
BLOCK I: SEMINAR
“Appropriate actions are measured on the whole by our social relationships.” – Epictetus, Handbook 30
The above scene is from a series of videos shown during the first block of instruction in the course, “The Contextual Handgun: Armed Parent/Guardian” taught by John Johnson and Melody Lauer of Citizens Defense Research. This course is their answer to the question:
“What if my children are with me when I get into a shooting?”
The course begins with a four hour seminar via lecture. Powerpoint slides labeled:
CONTEXT IS EVERYTHING,
DEFINE THE PROBLEM,
REACTIONS v. RESPONSES,
TYPES OF ATTACKS ON CHILDREN,
ADDRESSING THE PROBLEM,
PRIORITIES v. TASKS,
PERCEPTION v. REALITY,
KNOW THE LAW, ETC.
are presented and explained in depth by both John and Melody.
And there are the videos.
The conclusion that one arrives at during the course of the Seminar is that the problems an average parent/guardian faces in a violent encounter are many, complicated, and unique enough that they must be trained for rather than merely reacted to. How do criminals, intent on committing a crime against you, view your children? Video examples shown during the seminar show a level of cruel indifference. How much does a child’s presence affect the parent/guardian’s attention, mobility, tactical options, gear, training? A lot.
What are the particular types of attacks that are focused on children? What techniques and strategies can you deploy preemptively and during an attack, in order to increase the odds of your loved ones and you surviving? What risks to them are you prepared to accept?
The context the seminar portion lays out, leads to the next two blocks of the course. First, a baseline of skill with a handgun. Second, followed by a day to provide strategies and techniques that students can employ to protect their loved ones caught in a violent encounter with you.
BLOCK II: FUNDAMENTAL CONCEALED PISTOL SKILLS
“And yet a bull doesn’t become a bull all at once, any more than a man acquires nobility of mind all at once; no, he must undergo hard winter training, and so make himself ready, rather than hurl himself without proper thought into what is inappropriate for him.” – Epictetus, Discourses I.2.32
The fundamental tool that the course focuses on to solve encounters that have gotten to the point of life and death in the presence of our loved ones, is the handgun. Block II is spent on how to successfully draw a handgun from concealment and put rounds accurately and swiftly on target.
Anyone who has taken a handgun course from a good instructor is familiar with what is covered in this block of the coursework. Draw, presentation, sight alignment and picture, trigger press, strong/weak hand, shooting at various distances, and safely holstering the handgun.
Building on the seminar portion of Block I, what is immediately apparent is the close focus on fast and accurate firing of rounds from a concealed holster. Particularly doing so one handed. The natural reason being that your non-firing hand will likely be occupied managing your loved one.
As a relatively new shooter, shooting one handed under the stress of a timer, at A-zone sized targets was a revelation. And not an encouraging one. Shots were missed. Instruction was provided by both John and Melody throughout the courses of fire.
Fitting with the purpose of the course, the Block II final course of fire is the FBI Qualification. Fortunately, as a result of both John and Melody’s tutelage, I was able to shoot a passing score.
BLOCK III: TACTICS AND TECHNIQUES FOR ARMED PARENTS
“With regard to everything that happens to you, remember to look inside yourself and see what capacity you have to enable you to deal with it.” – Epictetus, Handbook 10.
Day two, Block III, is spent on learning a series of tactics and techniques to engage in a gunfight around loved ones and be successful. John and Melody present a series of problems and then demonstrate and coach a series of solutions to overcome them. Problems that are covered include:
Problem 1: Over penetration of rounds. Problem 2: One handed draws from concealment with a young child in your arms. Problem 3: Controlling movement of loved ones while drawing to fire. Problem 4: Abduction dilemma, criminal has possession of your child in hand. Problem 5: Efficacy of Central Nervous System shot. Problem 6: How good of a shot are you, really? At what distances? How quickly? Problem 7: Shooting on the Move, counter-intuitively away from your loved one. Problem 8: Drawing on an already drawn gun.
I will speak briefly about one of the problems. If you seek more in depth knowledge, I recommend that you take the coursework.
Block III began with a ballistic gel test to demonstrate how far certain ammo can penetrate. The importance of this goes to the problem of a natural desire to shield our loved ones with our bodies when they are in danger from an attacker. What one realizes, to great dismay, is the likelihood that rounds that penetrate us, could likely go through us and strike those we love. Our bodies are a chimera for cover.
Another problem is how to control our loved one’s movements to prevent them from stepping in front of our muzzle during a lethal force encounter that can suddenly present itself. Melody Lauer demonstrates one leverage technique as a solution:
The course ends with the TAP/G Qual, which consents of shooting the FBI Qual while dealing with a loved one in hand. I was able to pass the Qual, barely.
The focus on accurate and timely fire is complicated by the shooter having to manage their love one. What you quickly are made aware of is the line seperating when you can to when you cannot make those hits reliably. In an actual life and death event, that line can bring untold tragedy if you are on the wrong side of it.
This was the most valuable lesson on the 2nd day for myself. Knowing, at this moment, what I am capable of and what I am not: in terms of shooting skill.
“The following assertion of the philosophers may perhaps seem paradoxical to some people, but let us examine nonetheless, as best as we can, whether it is true that ‘we ought to combine caution with confidence in all that we do.’” – Epictetus, Discourses II.1.1
Manchester Arena, United Kingdom.
A concert by Ariana Grande has just finished.
A suicide bomber detonates himself in the foyer.
In the maelstrom that followed, a homeless man by the name of Stephen Jones helped survivors.
When interviewed by ITV News about his actions after the bombing, he replied:
“It had to be done, you had to help, if I didn’t help, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself, walking away and leaving kids like that.”
‘We had to pull nails out of children’s faces’: Steve, a homeless man who was sleeping near #Manchester Arena, rushed to help young victims pic.twitter.com/dyxzZpal0Q
— ITV News (@itvnews) May 23, 2017
I am a bachelor. I have no children. I am an only child raised by a widowed single mother.
I find the phrase ‘sheepdog’ to be pretentious at best.
But I like to think I would not be a victim of a ‘bystander effect.’ Namely doing nothing when help is needed; waiting for others to act; sherking the impulse to do the right thing because of fear or even worse: social embarrassment.
What are the ‘appropriate actions’ for my ‘social relationships,’ often to strangers? What level of ‘hard winter training’ is needed to build the ‘capacities’ to successfully win a life and death encounter? How does one ‘combine caution with confidence in all that we do’ so that we can live with the decisions made in a violent instant, for all the years that come after?
Why did I take this course?
Ultimately, to have the skill to do what my personal ethics demand of me.
What did I learn from this course?
The bold line separating my skills from my ethics.
And ultimately, where to go from here.
2018 Training Schedule
- Establishing a Dominance Paradigm with Tom Givens, William Aprill, and Craig Douglas
- Edge Weapon Overview with Craig Douglas of SHIVWORKS
- Pistol Shooting Solutions with Gabe White
- “Discourses, Fragments, Handbook” by Epictetus, translated by Robin Hard
- “The Role Ethics of Epictetus: Stoicism in Ordinary Life” by Brian E. Johnson
- “The Character Gap: How Good Are We” by Christian B. Miller
- “What Really Matters: Living a Moral Life Amidst Uncertainty and Danger” by Arthur Kleinman
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