I recently attended a new offering from Chuck Haggard of Agile Training and Consulting. It’s his new 1 Day OC (pepper spray) instructor course for non-LEOs. I have been carrying pepper spray daily for about 6 years now, and wanted to be credentialed to pass on what I’ve learned. I jumped at the chance and don’t regret my decision to attend.
A note on force on force safety. The owners of The Complete Combatant, the hosts of the class, have a very robust and meticulous safety protocol to assure no live weapons make it onto the training area. It includes a group chat, and a group disarming, followed by securing live unloaded weapons in a box to be stored in another location, and a final pat down from the instructors and your neighbors in line. It’s these overlapping safety features that help keep force on force training safe. There’s a reason the book Training At The Speed of Life exists. There’s a lot of training accidents, and we have to be diligent about securing our training area.
Chuck is a career lawman and has unique experiences with testing and real-world use of less lethal technologies. As a result, and for context, the class opens with less lethal options, and an overview of less lethal chemicals that have been used over the years. Chuck’s reasoning for favoring OC over all the other available options is well reasoned and convincing. He frames the course in a civilian context, and his conclusions based of the civilian ‘mission’ make a lot of sense, and OC is very effective at the tasks it’s needed for.
He does an overview of the chemicals involved, the immediate effects of OC on the body, the lasting effects, the solvents used to carry the OC, as well as the propellant gases that companies can use.
Eyejab In A Can
The unregulated nature of the OC business requires that we know what to look for in a product before we trust it. The only quantitative measure we can currently trust is the MCC (Major Capsenoid Content) of the spray. If this isn’t listed, then you can’t trust it to be sufficiently hot. There’s even some companies that seem to overestimate their product. Chuck recommends anywhere from 0.7-2.0% MCC. Bear spray is 2.0%MCC and regulated by the EPA, while ‘human grade’ is not under such scrutiny. Apparently there’s lots of weak sauce formulas. So go off of the MCC and brand when possible.
This portion of the lecture was very valuable for me. Chuck gives an overview of spray patterns (Spray, Fog, Cone, Gel/Foam) and the best uses for each style of spray. We talked about best care practices for assuring the can worked when you need it, and how to not accidentally contaminate your car on a hot summer day. Shot distance capability, target zones, time to take effect, as well as the shortcomings of each.
He ends the lecture segment with decontamination protocols, which mostly amount to washing the face with baby shampoo under cool water in a well ventilated area and just waiting for the suck to end.
Force on Force Exercises
I’m at the point where I believe any quality training program should include some manner of force on force. Chuck didn’t disappoint me and the latter half of the day was exercises that built in complexity and layered the use of OC into the existing Shivworks MUC/PUC (Managing Unknown Contacts) style pre-assault strategy.
While the time was compressed, I feel the students were able to grasp the basic idea of MUC with movement, vebalization, and a high/compressed ‘fence’ hand posture to preserve and make space and time. Failing that, the default cover position was taught. If you’re not familiar, this is a non-diagnostic defensive posture constructed of a lowered center of gravity in base, and a helmet formed around your head with your arms. This allows you to weather an unexpected attack without needing the attributes of a fighter to stay upright and conscious.
After the students had reps, the OC was plugged in. We were able to try various inert training units of various sizes and spray patterns. We also were taught ‘failure drills’ where the OC didn’t take effect and we had to transition to a secondary force option. We also got some ideas on using a flashlight and OC in conjunction. Overall it was a great amount of force on force for such a compressed time frame.
I think this is a great class and I’m looking forward to doing some coaching on the use of OC at my home MMA gym here in Lawrenceville, GA. I recommend training with Chuck whenever you can.
This was an eight hour course on the history, and contextual implementation of short impact weapons. It was hosted at The Complete Combatant in Marietta, Ga. This course was magical in several ways and is a must take if you really dig leather and lead self-defense tools. I loved it because it deals with an arcane, but extremely effective, self defense implement. Larry Lindenman is a friend and mentor to me, and I’ve been reading and training with him since 2008 or so. It also was full of great trainers and practitioners, including Greg Ellifritz of Active Response Training, who I also consider a dear friend. It was a hell of a Saturday. Here’s a breakdown.
What is a Sap,Blackjack, or slungshot?
I’m not a historian on these tools, but I can give you a quick rundown on their construction. Here’s a recently published book on the history of these tools and their use if you’re interested in that. They were first documented in the 1700’s as a sailor’s tool made of pigskin and stuffed with sand used for some sort of impact duty on a ship. I guess they also realized you could get in a drunken brawl with them and they would work well as an impact weapon. They were flattened out and became saps in the 1940’s. They evolved,were perfected, and used to good effect up through the 1980’s when they fell out of favor.
Unlike a knife, which deals no ballistic impact, a sap can deal a real immediate physiological stop. They also don’t cause someone to bleed their loathsome blood-borne pathogens all over you when used in a fight (H/T The Tactical Professor for that point)
A sap is a flattened lead weight wrapped in leather, often with a strap for retention. The sap is easily carried next to the wallet in the back pocket, with enough material outside the pocket to acquire a grip and access. It has the advantage of two impact surfaces. You can choose to hit with the flat, or the edge, giving options in severity of damage depending on targeting. Saps are my preference.
A blackjack is a cylindrical impact tool, usually with a spring running through the grip, and a lead weight cast onto the head, all wrapped up in leather. They’re harder to carry daily, but their sprung weight makes them extremely potent when striking.
A slungshot is some sort of weight, with a rope-like handle. Think a handkerchief tied around the hasp of a padlock. You choke your grip right up next to the weight, and swing it like that. Otherwise it bounces all over the place and can smash your face after you strike.
The Contextualized Self-Defense Approach
I’m not ruining any of the magic of working with Larry (or any Shivworks instructor) because the magic isn’t in the information, but in doing the work. You’ll quickly notice themes in any Shivworks instructor’s material. This is by design, and for simplicity. A clear path, with simple rules and goals, yields a high retention and success rate. That’s the elegance of the model these guys use.
The instruction progresses in a logical manner, with each following phase resulting from some failure of the previous phase. The coursework progresses from the managing unknowns phase which includes verbalization, movement, and the use of the fence hand posture.
It then moves to a default cover position which is a non-diagnostic ‘helmet’ that helps you stay upright and conscious as a surprise attack is launched on you.
Then comes the grappling phase, where some simple modifications to proven sport grappling techniques address the possibility of your opponent having his own weapons. The goal is to get behind or tie up your opponent long enough to decide what to do next.
For this course, it was to access an impact tool and begin striking. It could also be accessing a pistol, a knife, or a throw to hit your opponent with the earth. The path is the same, no matter the tool you’re carrying. This is the power of this ‘system’ if you want to call it that.
After this worst-case scenario of having to access the tool in the fight, we worked on preemptive access, which is a whole lot easier.
Where and How to Strike?
While these are considered “less-lethal tools”, it’s really easy to deal a deadly blow with one, so some training is needed. The temple, base of skull, and possibility of a knock-out and secondary impact with the head bouncing off the pavement could certainly be deadly. We learned how to generate power through our hips and deliver blows in short arcs. The space needed to implement the tools is different than a blade or gun, so we worked those skills.
We concentrated on targeting large muscle groups, joints, clavicle, ribs, arms, thighs. We learned both broken strikes (think a piston pumping), and carry-through strikes (think slashes that set up strikes in the opposite direction).
Training Drones for practice
My New Foster Brother’s Sap
The Foster Brothers are the gold standard for leather saps and jacks today. I took a picture of one of Larry’s saps, and asked Todd to make one for me. It arrived yesterday and I’m very pleased. I don’t know what model sap it is, I’m glad I took a photo to send with my request. FOSTER IMPACT DEVICES
Don’t waste your money on a ‘coin purse’ sap. Everyone (TSA, cops, etc) knows what it is, and coins aren’t really dense enough to add meaningful weight for your strikes.
Why not brass-knuckles? Simply put, access. A blackjack can be accessed in-fight like a fixed blade knife and be put right into action. Knucks require you to put 4 fingers in 4 finger sized holes. Knucks are more of a pre-meditated and preemptive impact tool.
It’s legal for GA residents to carry an impact weapon, you should check for your state before you buy/make your own.
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.”
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
I am VERY fortunate to have had the opportunity to train with and listen to some of the brightest minds and greatest thinkers of the personal protection game. Over the last few years, I’ve listened to several of these well respected trainers and researchers present skills they believe really win gunfights based on their personal experiences and research projects. After hearing 4-5 of them, I started to pick up on the overlap. If 5 people from separate backgrounds are saying the same things, that’s a clue that those skills might be worth prioritizing in our training. The first two segments are summaries of regular people’s documented fights, whether reported to the NRA or on CCTV. The remainder of the summaries are lessons taken from actual gunfighters and the training of successful gunfighters. I think there are very powerful lessons when we observe the overlap between the real incidents with what high-level trainers are teaching their students. Here we go.
Realities of Real Gun Fights – Statistics and Lessons
Next in the list of great analysts, is John Correia of Active Self Protection. He has made a business out of analyzing and watching CCTV gunfights and robberies. He has watched over 10,000 incidents on video and recently made a presentation on it. Short Barrel Shepherd did a summary about it here. I’ll drop some bullet points to summarize below.
Most gunfights aren’t entangled. Once the gun comes out people tend to separate. Pre-firearm access, empty-handed skills are critical
Attacks happen in transitional spaces (parking lots, cash registers, ATMs, upon entering or exiting building or vehicle, etc)
Lack of awareness (task-fixation in public) creates big problems
1/3 of the incidents have multiple attackers, with usually only 2 getting shot at before the rest scatter.
Whoever lands the first shots, wins
In a gunfight, the pistol has to be ready for action NOW due to time pressure (no empty chamber)
Cops initiate contact-Criminals start fight vs. Criminals initiate contact – Citizen starts the fight. A plus for us citizens.
Tom Given’s ‘car length’ gunfight distance seems to be the norm, though some have been as far as 22 yds.
Multiple shot strings are needed to get bad guy to stop
Lots of one handed gun usage (for better or worse)
After the gun comes out, people move
People tend to use concealment and cover interchangeably, and people don’t seem to shoot at what they can’t see, even if their bullets could easily penetrate
The desire to close distance with an adversary is hard to resist
Knife attacks are brutal and rapid, and don’t take skill to pull off.
Weapon Mounted Lights haven’t played a significant role in the documented shootings
Training to Dominate Your Gunfight
John Daub of KR Training and his HSOI Blog made a great post about this as well. Here it is. He did an EXCELLENT and well reasoned summary on this very topic as it pertains to ‘average trainees’. I’ll repost his summary below. Take the time to read that full post.
drawing from concealment
And perhaps moving on that draw (like a side-step then stop; not shoot-and-move)
getting multiple hits
in a small area
5″ circle? 6″ circle? 8″ circle? consider human anatomy
from close range
Within a car length, so say 0-5 yards
3 seconds or less
using both hands, or maybe one hand (or the other)
Next I’ll cover Darryl Bolke and Wayne Dobbs of HiTS out of Texas. I had the pleasure of listening to their presentation What Really Matters at the Range-Master Tactical Conference this year. I wrote about it here. I’ll recap below.
“Train for maximum efficiency at an assessment speed on an acceptable target” -HiTS. 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 (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.
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.
Train what is hard (50 and 100 yd pistol shooting, for instance)
Train to an accuracy standard, not a time.
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
LAPD trains to a .5 second split time, their shootings are shot WELL.
If your splits are faster than .3 seconds, you’ll fire unintentionally until the signal to stop makes it to your hands. (force science)
Lastly, I’ll cover John Hearne’s excellent lecture Who Wins, Who Loses, and Why: Understanding Human Performance When Death Is On The Line. He presented this at Paul-E-Palooza in Ohio this year (and will again at next year’s Tactical Conference at DARC) John’s research has lead him to a summary list of necessary skills for dominating wins in gunfights. I’ll give the synopsis.
Our goal should be to remove novelty, if we have seen it before, we will be able to act more quickly. Always seek exposure to novel stimuli, and war-game scenarios.
Build valid mental maps, develop emotional bookmarks to positive outcomes, Force On Force, video simulators, thinking and shooting, address physiological effects of stress
Develop robust motor programs. Break tasks down into steps, start slow, build speed, find failure points. Build new pathways in mind for motor programs (myelination)
Primary Pistol Skills – Failure drill from holster, failure drill from ready, moving off-line, minimal reloading
Secondary Pistol Skills – Type 1/2 clearing, one handed shooting, precision work
Tertiary Pistol Skills- Type 3 malf. clearing, shoot and move, one handed malf.
Allocate resources based on probability of need, focus on primary skills until overlearned
Keep skills and mental maps refreshed. It’s about recency over volume. (dry-fire at least weekly, life-fire at least quarterly)
Make People Think with a gun in hand.
Train emotional control via books, visualization, combat sports, rock climbing, talking with gun-fight survivors, etc.
This post is plenty long, but it should be pretty clear which skills are needed often, work well, and are worthy of your precious practice time. I hope you found this summary of summaries worthwhile.