Paul-E-Palooza 4 – 8/19-20/2017 DAY 1

The 4th Paul-E-Palooza training event is in the books. The event is a memorial fundraiser to help Paul Gomez’s children after Paul’s untimely passing several years ago. The organizers, William Aprill and Sherman House , and a slew of other top tier instructors, volunteer their time to raise funds for the kids. It’s tactical philanthropy at its best.

The event was a great time. But with two ranges and two classrooms to choose from for the eight total time slots, I had to pick and choose what I decided to take. It’s an exercise in limited resources and unlimited wants. I’ll outline the high-points of the instruction I took. Here’s some notes.

Saturday Block 1: Chuck Haggard – Between a Harsh Word and a Handgun

In this block, Chuck discusses less lethal force options for the private citizen. The primary focus is on Pepper Spray (O.C. – oleoresin capsicum). He explains the history, ingredients, physiological effects, difference in the strength of formulations, how companies rank the ‘heat’, tactics of use, role playing and demo. It’s some of the only info I’ve seen in the training community on the intelligent use of OC for private citizens. Here’s some of the high points:

  • His experience is it is 80-90% effective in police work. The reason it’s not closer to 100% is because police have to spray and then put handcuffs onto the sprayed person. We as private citizens can spray and immediately leave.
  • Favorite baton is the PR24 Monadnock style. Collapsible batons are sub-optimal
  • Civilian Tasers Suck, are fragile, and have a different pulse frequency than police Tasers. (The little pink gun show stun-guns are utter garbage)
  • “Wasp spray is fuckery” – Chuck Haggard, it’s ineffective a stopping someone right now, and is a low level neurotoxin (organo-phosphate) so it might give the guy cancer in 10 years. Which is bass-akwards from what we’re looking for.
  • A fire extinguisher makes a good improvised eye and lung irritant for school workers. Flood a hallway and make a smoke screen. Bright flashlights are also great for these folks.
  • The ‘Major Capsinoid Content’ is the number that matters.
  • Sabre Red is 1.33% MCC (Bear spray is limited to 2% by law, so Sabre is HOT)
  • Stick with Cone or Spray for most uses. Foam or Gel is for institutional use to avoid contaminating an air system.
  • MACE (brand) spray is weak sauce
  • The Spitfire (now discontinued) and ASP Key Defender have about 5′ range. They’re like the ‘mouse guns’ of the OC world. Better than nothing, but you would prefer something better when it comes time to use it.
  • The Kimber Pepper Blaster thing is garbage. No way to aim, 2 shots. With regular OC, you can sort of walk the stream onto the face. If you miss with the Kimber, you’re boned. Plus, a lady got her eye destroyed by one. That’s grave bodily harm….
  • Combo CS/OC is a gimmick. CS takes time to work, requires heat to properly disperse, and is a bigger hassle to decontaminate
  • Work failure drills with flashlight and OC, then drop OC and draw pistol, etc.
  • Sabre Stream with pocket clip – http://amzn.to/2g6hso9
  • Sabre Stream Trainer (Inert) – http://amzn.to/2wztZYj
  • ASP Key Defender baton – http://amzn.to/2wovaJv

 

Saturday Blocks 2-4: John Hearne – Who Wins, Who Loses, and Why

This is a talk that I’ve been looking forward to for several years. It is the ongoing pet project of John Hearne, an instructor with Range-Master since 2001, Federal LE Ranger since 1992, and research geek. This is a 8 hour lecture, so I’ll only share the purpose of the talk and a few high points. If you EVER get a chance to hear this talk, you should make it a high priority, it’s powerful and very useful stuff. It’s a little esoteric, but if you’re a nerd like me, you’ll dig it.

High Points:

  • Understand winning and losing
  • Understand how the human animal is wired, how it works for and against us, and how we can rewire the system to out advantage
  • Counter the VAST misinformation that exists on this topic in the training community
  • Understand what is reasonably possible to achieve with meaningful training
  • Understand how to improve our personal performance under stress, and best training methods.
  • Meaningful training can allow you to ‘overlearn’ skills and physically restructure the brain
  • Why you won’t necessarily have all of the scary side effects of adrenaline that are popular to preach in basic handgun classes (hands to flippers, tunnel vision, etc.)
  • Study of a decision tree for a good guy who is trained and untrained when they are in their gun-fight. Staying in the rational mind and not to an emotional state have MUCH higher chance of winning.
  • The importance of mental maps, eliminating novel stimuli, and dedicated practice
  • Over time the brain can refine how much adrenaline is released for a given situation. The untrained are usually ALL/NONE.
  • Emotional Bookmarks (e.g. hand on stove) ties past experiences to influence current actions. FOF creates this for us. Exists between rational/emotional mind
  • Cops who win fights – 90% had high physical fitness, 75% had scenario training, preplanned responses, multi-tasked well, able to quickly assess, relied on patters over explicit observation.
  • There’s nothing ‘natural’ or ‘instinctive’ about firearms usage. The only thing natural is to run away screaming and pissing yourself. Therefor everything can be learned. (he basically shit all over many training modalities that are currently popular)
  • There is no ‘innate hesitation to kill’ as Grossman proposes in On Killing.
  • Shuts down ‘it’s impossible to focus on your front sight under stress’ argument with anecdotes and science.
  • Recency is one of the most important predictors in success. (airplane studies)
  • How to not get shot by the police – study of “A Critical Analysis of Police Shootings Under Ambiguous Circumstance”
  • Training Implications of all this research.
  • Here’s two charts that are property of John Hearne. The first is what gives you the best value that corresponds to winning, and the second is shooting drills and ranking that indicate high shooting automaticity.

If you want a taste of John’s work, he wrote a chapter in Massad Ayoob’s book Straight Talk on Armed Defense – http://amzn.to/2woYTlX

Day TWO is coming up next. Thanks for reading.

Mark

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Ballistic Radio Interview

When your friends ask you to be on their radio show, you just do it.

John and Melody asked me to be on Ballistic Radio to chat. In John’s usual way, I got basically no preparatory talking points and we just had a conversation like we would over dinner.

Here it is: http://ballisticradio.com/2017/08/02/memento-mori-podcast-season-5-ballistic-radio-episode-219-july-30th-2017/

We talk a little about me and how my life experience has formed my current outlook on training, inspiration, discipline, and doing the work. If you ever looked at yourself in the mirror and questioned why you keep trying even though you seem to suck at your hobby or sport, some of this should resonate with you.

I always used to listen to episodes of Ballistic Radio and think to myself, “Man, if I ever got on the air, I’d drop some real science and inspire some people…” being quite sure I’d never have the chance. Yet here I am. This audio file is getting put into the folder I have been building to leave to my son in the event I can’t be there when he’s old enough to hear this stuff.

Thanks for being a part of it,

Mark

Books I mention in the interview:

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The Problem With Being The Littlest Fish In The Pond

Any time you ask a Subject Matter Expert (SME) about the shortcut to getting better, they will almost always include things like, ‘surround yourself with people who are better than you’, ‘If you find you are the biggest fish in your pond, it’s time to find a new pond’, and ‘Work on what you suck at’. These pieces of advice come from the guys you look up to when you’re getting started. And I would give the same advice. But honestly doing so for an extended period can be a very demoralizing and trying experience.

Chuck Haggard of AGILE Training sporting an EAG shirt.

I embraced that concept completely when I started training in 2007. I have been pursuing the core skill sets since that time. It turns out the multidisciplinary approach to self defense has a lot of skills that require competitive spirit and drive. It requires Ego risk. If I’m going to stick with it, there is only the option of becoming comfortable with losing. Because losing is a daily trial.

If I’m doing it right, I’m boxing, grappling, shooting with, shooting at (with simunitions), and doing strength and conditioning with killers. I’m not a killer. I am just a dude who has been throwing myself to the wolves and losing over and over.



How do I weather that? Truth is, I can’t always. I get burnout. I haven’t shot a gun or posted to the blog since the Rangemaster conference in March mostly because I’ve been feeling inadequate and not worthy of my peer group. That’s real talk. I’ve been here before, where I swear I’ll quit if I have one more negative experience. When I get like this, I have to take a step back and evaluate how I’m thinking and approaching the problem. Here’s some ideas if you find yourself there. I’m working through it at the moment.

  • Take time off. Just unplug from stuff for a while. The fire will reignite.
  • Motivation is for beginners. Long term success requires discipline. Just show up.
  • Savor minor victories.
  • Remind myself that all of those SMEs have gone through the same thing, and maybe are even going through it at the same time. They’re people, despite how they appear online or in class. They’ve just had 20 more years  practice at failing.
  • Remind myself I do this because it’s fun. Keep it playful. Make it fun again.
  • Work on another hobby for a while.
  • Performance plateaus are real, the breakthrough is around the corner.
  • Rather than focus on winning, pick a small facet of the discipline to sharpen. Don’t try to win the match, work on getting zero points down, or not shooting a no-shoot target. Don’t worry about tapping your opponent, focus on a part of your game that needs sharpening.
  • Reorient goals so they are internal rather than external. When I’m wrapped up focusing on an external goal (with an outcome I can’t control), it’s a downward spiral of frustration. I try to think of it like “Am I better than I was yesterday? Yes? Then you’re improving”.
  • The only thing you can truly control is how you Think about an issue. Nothing else is truly under your control, and losing is always a possibility.
  • It’s OK to suck. Most people suck more than you do. If you’re doing anything, you’re running laps around the guy on the couch. There is always a tougher, more skillful, smarter, younger, faster, stronger person. That’s the way of the Universe.
  • It’s OK to fail. Just have the discipline to start again.
Competitive pursuits leave space for lots of things outside of our control.

 

In summary, surrounding yourself with people who make you look like an incompetent fool IS the fastest path to mastery, but it requires the fortitude to keep showing up and doing the work, regardless of how much you realize you suck.

It’s good to feel the fire again. Glad to be back.

Mark

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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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