Tiger McKee

Shootrite Firearms Academy

Communication

ImageOf all the skills that are fundamental for fighting – move, communicate, shoot as necessary, use cover and think, the communication is one of the most difficult. We communicate with people every day, but under stress the ability to communicate is something that won’t happen if it’s not part of our standard response.

You communicate with the threat, issuing verbal commands, telling them what you want them to do. According to the documentation the presence of a firearm and strong verbal commands will defuse the situation. When the threat(s) don’t comply then we gain compliance with accurate fire. Now, there are some situations where you wouldn’t issue verbal commands in order to maintain the element of surprise, but if you don’t make communication part of your practice you definitely won’t remember to do it.

In most situations communicating with your family, partners or team is critical. You’ll need to talk to your family or friends, telling them what to do or checking on their status to see if they are ok. You’ll also be communicating in order to co-ordinate your actions, especially with armed partners.

I use the acronym I.C.E. when talking about communication. For example I need my partner that I’m going to be moving to my left in order to clear a corner. I inform my partner that I want to move to my left. “Moving left!” Basically I’m asking for permission to move. I hold until my partner confirms my intent by repeating the command. “Move left!” This is the communication part, which means an exchange of information back and forth between the two of us. Once my partner has confirmed he’s on the same page then I execute my action by announcing, “Moving!”

Almost everyone experiences auditory exclusion under stress so you’ll probably have to yell loud to get your partner’s attention. It may be a good idea to use names so everyone can keep track of who’s saying what. Keep your communications short and simple; normally there isn’t any time or the need to get into lengthy, detailed explanations.

Non-verbal communication is also an option, especially for those who work together or spend lots of time around each other. Communication may be as simple as eye contact and a nod. Just remember anything like this needs to be worked out in advance.

I’m also a big fan of communicating or talking to your self. When teaching students a new skill it works well to have them talk themselves through the steps of the sequence required. For an empty reload, for example, we’ll have students say out loud, “old mag out, new mag in, cycle the slide.” Verbalizing the steps out loud forces you to consciously focus on the steps necessary. It may attract attention when you do this on the range, but you’ll be the one learning more than others.

Communication is an essential element when it comes to your fighting skills. Practice your communication skills, always be ready for the unexpected, and when the time comes shout it out loud. Lives may depend on your ability to communicate under stress.

October 25, 2012 Posted by | General Training | Leave a comment

Discipline

ImageDiscipline is required to do anything properly. To be good at something means investing time and effort to practice, learn and be able to apply the desired skills. This is especially true of martial arts. The beauty of firearms, which is a martial art, is that you don’t have to spend a lifetime of training/practice to use them skillfully. But, since firearms are tools, it does take discipline to learn how to use them effectively.

It takes discipline to attend training. The majority of skills required to fight with firearms go against our natural instincts, so training to learn the required skills is a must. Most of us have to budget both time and finances to attend training. I planned and saved for a year to attend my first “official” training course. It was worth every minute and dollar.

One must be disciplined to practice. A structured program is necessary to achieve the repetitions necessary to truly learn a skill to the point it can be performed at a subconscious level. Dry practice your skills multiple times a week, even if it’s only for ten or fifteen minutes at a time with a “blue” gun. Resolve is mandatory to insure your live-fire range sessions don’t end up with lots of shootin’ but very little learning occurring.

You have to commit to carrying your weapon at all times – when and where it’s legal – even if it’s only to the mailbox and back. You decide to modify how your dress for concealment purposes, or accept the fact that the type pistol you carry is dictated by the clothing you wear. Either way it takes discipline to figure out what and how you are going to carry and then earnestly practice it.

When carrying you practice self-control. You realize that getting involved in a “simple” verbal confrontation could turn into a lethal situation. You’re determined to use your weapon only if absolutely necessary. Self-discipline is mandatory for anyone carrying a lethal weapon.

In a lethal confrontation discipline is required to properly respond to the threat. If you don’t maintain control all you’re doing is reacting to what’s happening to you as opposed to controlling your actions and forcing the threat to react to you. When something goes wrong or doesn’t work out quite how you thought it would, a common occurrence during violent encounters, you must respond to the unexpected with a controlled response.

In a violent situation when you are forced to shoot, there can be no hesitation. There are no other options available, the choice is either use your weapon or be seriously injured or worse. “This is not a drill.” Your sole purpose at that point in time is to stop the threat as efficiently as possible. The discipline to do what needs done must be absolute.

Discipline is something that is lacking in our society in general, and in most shooters specifically. Today, change your attitude, ’cause when it comes time these skills will be the difference between life and death.

October 18, 2012 Posted by | Defensive Mindset, General Training | Leave a comment

Skill Set – Rule #4

ImageSafety Rule 4: Identify your target, and what’s surrounding and beyond the target. Rule 4 applies any time you are shooting. Identifying your target is mandatory prior to firing a shot, whether it’s on the range, taking game meat, or in a violent confrontation. You also must know what’s surrounding and beyond the target to insure a safe path for any errant rounds.

On an established firing range confirming your target is easy. There are proper backstops to trap rounds, even if they bounce off something, go high or to the side. You and the targets are usually stationary. There are no bystanders around your target. On a range everything is controlled to insure a safe environment.

Shooting on an improvised range requires more care. Last year near here on Christmas day a shooter was zeroing a new rifle by firing at a cardboard box on top of a hill. The round went through the box, of course, over the top of the hill and traveled 590 yards before striking and killing a man in his backyard.

Rule 4 applies when hunting. Make sure what you are shooting at is your intended target. Never fire at movement, sounds, or something you think might be game. Pay attention to your bullet’s path. Bullets, especially high velocity rifle rounds, can travel a long distance before losing their energy and falling to ground. (Depending on angle of trajectory a .308 round can easily travel 2-3 miles or more; a 9mm roughly 1.3 miles.) With rural developments popping up all ’round you better make sure what direction you’re sending that round.

In a fight Rule 4 is absolute. First, you locate and identify your target, in this case a threat. You have to be able to justify, in my opinion both legally and morally, your reason for firing. Never fire on noise or movement. Every year people shoot family, friends, and non-threats because they lost control and shot without identifying their target.

Even though it’s a fight you’re responsible for every round fired no matter where it ends up. Bullets will penetrate multiple sheetrock walls, traverse a parking lot, or bounce off an object and zing out in a different direction. It would be a rare situation when you don’t have to be concerned with errant rounds. You may have to move to obtain a clear angle of fire or position a backstop behind the threat. You have a green light to fire but then a bystander takes a couple of steps putting themselves in your field of fire. The bad guy moves, using a bystander for cover. The green light can change to red in one second.

These are the four safety rules:

    1. Treat all guns as loaded.

 

    1. Never point the muzzle at anything you’re not willing to destroy.

 

    1. Finger off the trigger unless your sights are on the target and you are ready and willing to shoot.

 

  1. Identify your target, and what’s surrounding and beyond the target.

As owner of a firearm you memorize these rules and apply them at all times, especially during an armed confrontation. Got it?

October 11, 2012 Posted by | General Training | Leave a comment

Skill Set: Rule #3

ImageRule 3: Finger off the trigger unless your sights are on the target and you are ready and willing to shoot. In concept this is pretty simple. When the sights are off target your finger is off the trigger. Regardless of the type firearm the ultimate safety mechanism is your finger working in conjunction with the brain. This should be common sense, but the biggest safety issue with people and firearms is Rule 3.

Rule 3 is violated for several reasons. First, the firearm is designed so that when gripping it having your finger on the trigger feels natural and comfortable. Also, some people believe having their finger on the trigger will allow them to shoot quicker. This isn’t true, and only makes you a danger to yourself and those around you. Properly handling a firearm means the majority of the time when it’s in your hands the finger is off the trigger. If you don’t practice this habit you’ll end up with your finger on that trigger at the wrong time, especially under stress.

When it’s not on the trigger the proper location for the finger is high on the frame or receiver, well clear of the trigger and trigger guard. From this location it takes a mental decision and physical action to position your finger onto the trigger. Simply taking the finger off the trigger but leaving it inside the trigger guard isn’t enough. You get startled, stumble, or someone shoves you and suddenly the finger is applying pressure to the trigger. The same thing goes for placing the finger on the front of the trigger guard. It’s only a short distance for the finger to move from there to the trigger.

On the other side of the coin when the sights are on target your finger is on the trigger. If you are aiming that means you’ve made the decision, at least like 99.99%, that you’re going to fire a round, otherwise the sights shouldn’t be on target. The sights are on target and your finger is on the trigger, with any slack taken out of the trigger, ready to press. This doesn’t mean you have to press the trigger, but if you wait until it’s time to shoot to position the finger that motion will move the sights. It also greatly increases the chance you’ll slap the trigger, because you’re in a rush, as opposed to pressing it smoothly. Establishing this habit of “sights on target, finger on trigger” is especially critical for defensive applications.

With today’s weapons – their design and the materials they are constructed from -they don’t go bang unless something presses the trigger. Being owner and master of that weapon means it doesn’t fire until you’ve decided it’s time to shoot. Knowing when to have the finger off and on the trigger is one of the most important fundamentals of gunhandling.

October 4, 2012 Posted by | General Training | Leave a comment

Skill Set: Firearms Safety – Part 1

ImageI still find it amazing that the majority of gun owners are not aware of the basics of firearms safety. Even those who have been shooting all their lives sometimes don’t understand the four basic safety rules, the reasons for them, and how to incorporate them into their gunhandling.

So, this is part one of a four part series on firearms safety. If you are an experienced shooter it never hurts to review the rules, insuring we don’t become complacent and make a mistake. For the new firearms owner – and this number is growing daily – it’s important to start out by learning the four rules.

The four safety rules are:

1. Treat all guns as loaded.
2. Never point the muzzle at anything you’re not willing to destroy.
3. Finger off the trigger unless your sights are on the target and you are ready and willing to shoot.
4. Be sure to identify your target, and what’s surrounding and beyond the target.

(These four rules are found in numerous variations, but they all mean the same.)

Rule 1 requires you to treat every firearm as a loaded firearm. The key to Rule 1, and the case for the other three rules is consistency. Rule 1 greatly reduces the chance of you making a mistake. If there are times when you treat it like a loaded weapon, but then other times you handle it like it’s unloaded, sooner or later you’ll get the loaded/unloaded thing mixed up. Mistakes with firearms are embarrassing at best. Often times they are tragic.

You have to make Rule 1 a part of your life, and not just when you’re the one handling the weapon. You’re standing in a group at the range when someone pulls out their new favorite pistol to show it off. At the same time they’re waving the muzzle ’round pointing it at everyone. You better correct that problem before it becomes a tragedy. While at the range the gentleman next to you sets his .45-.70 buffalo rifle on the bench, pointing it at you in the process. When you ask him to correct his mistake he replies, “Don’t worry, she ain’t loaded.” Pack your gear and come back another day.

The first rule means you always apply the three following rules anytime there is a firearm present. Again, consistency is the key. We’ll be going into the details of the other rules in the next three columns.

There are no exceptions to this Rule 1. If you don’t believe me do a search on the web under “shot with unloaded gun.” (2,790,000 hits in .32 seconds.) People are constantly shooting others and themselves with “unloaded” weapons.

Firearms were originally designed for fighting. Later people figured out you could use them for hunting, in order to eat, or sport and games. No matter what you use them for, firearms are lethal weapons and should be treated as such. The first and foremost thing in our mind when handling firearms is safety, especially during a lethal confrontation. Rule 1: Treat all guns as loaded.

September 20, 2012 Posted by | General Training | Leave a comment

Glock 1-2-3

ImageGlocks are great pistols. I have several of them, all 19’s, and lately have been practicing with ’em on the range. But, like every other weapon I have, I found they needed some work to make them fit me.

My favorite 19 I have is a Gen II, without finger grooves, so that’s the one I chose to modify. Step one was installing good sights. An order to Brownells put a set of XS tritium sights on the bench, (006-000-061) medium size dot. The instructions were clear and precise, tools were included, and skill required minimum – my favorite combination. A few minutes of shop time had them installed. A few rounds downrange, a little adjusting on the rear sight, and I called it good and locked it down.

The second modification was to install an extended mag release. The Glock is a little fat for my hands. With the extended release I don’t have to twist my hand around the pistol as much to drop the magazine. My order from Brownells included a Vickers mag release, (100-003-404) which is 3/32’s of an inch longer than the factory release. I know nothing about Glocks, but a few minutes on the ‘net provided the info needed to remove and replace this part. Installation was easy, again something almost anyone can do, and for my hand size it works great.

The Glock was slippery, especially when sweating, so I had wrapped athletic tape around the grip to provide me with additional friction. This worked ok, but not well enough, plus it didn’t really look that great, especially if I was going to be using when teaching. Since this was a DIY project I didn’t want to send it off to have the grip re-worked, so I decided to attack it with a soldering iron and give it a stipple pattern.

Stippling the grip was easy, but if you’re thinking about doing this a few words of advice. First, always wear eye protection whenever performing any shop work. Second, have a fan near to blow the fumes of melting plastic away from the air-holes in your head. Practice on something else before doing the work on your pistol to get a feel for the technique. Start out slow and careful; some of the areas are thin and it wouldn’t a lot of heat or pressure to burn a hole right through. Move from one area to another frequently so you don’t overheat the grip and deform it. Mark out where you want to stipple with a pen to provide you with a boundary, and use a metal ruler as a guide for clean, straight lines. When you’re done use sandpaper to remove any sharp edges and smooth out the texture some.

The stippling, combined with the sights and mag release, created a totally new feeling pistol. I’ve had this pistol for years just because I figured everyone needs a couple of Glock 19’s. Now I have something I like and will probably end up carrying. And, I did it all at home for cheap.

September 13, 2012 Posted by | Auto Pistol | Leave a comment

Magnified Mistakes

ImageMost violent confrontations occur, or at least start out, at very close distances. Armed with this information the majority of our time spent training and practicing consists of firing combative responses at close range, hopefully while moving to create distance, obtain cover, or present the threat(s) with a moving target as opposed to a stationary one.

We also know there are situations, exceptions with elements outside the norms, that require long distance shots with a pistol. In 1994 a military base security guard took out the threat, who had already killed five and wounded others with his AK style rifle from seventy yards. The officer rode his bike full speed from a half mile away and using a kneeling position fired four shots, scoring two hits.

Making long distance pistol shots requires applying the fundamentals of marksmanship; aim, hold, press, and follow through for every shot. The time it takes to cycle through this sequence, especially the trigger press, is dictated by the accuracy necessary. Luckily extra distance usually means you have a little additional time to apply the fundamentals, plus create more stability by bracing against something solid and/or lowering your center of gravity – braced kneeling vs. standing.

The only way to practice hitting at long range is firing at increased distances. Using small targets up close will help you with accuracy, but the problem is that the actual distance to the target changes several factors. Visually, a target at long distance will look different than a small target up close. As distance increases the desire to look at the target increases. Practice is necessary to constantly focus on the front sight.

The effects of your mistakes increase with distance. At seven yards you shoot a two-inch group. From fifty yards, roughly seven times that distance, you’ll shoot about a twenty-inch group, or ten times the size. I’m not smart enough to why, I just know and accept that your group size will open up exponentially in relationship to distance.

Another reason to practice in advance is to insure your pistol sights are zeroed. A zero that works fine at twenty-one yards could put you completely off target at fifty to seventy-five yards.

For extreme distances, say two hundred yards, put the front sight in the middle of the target and lower the rear sight to get the elevation necessary for the bullet’s trajectory. If you try to hold a normal sight picture – with front and rear aligned – and aim high you can’t see the target. The front sight has to be on target and in focus. For example with my 1911 at two hundred I know to hold the rear sight halfway down the front sight.

So next time you go to the shooting range practice at longer distances and different positions. It could be the solution for the problem you’ll come across. Plus, if you can hit from one hundred, it should be easy to “stand on it” at typical pistol distances.

September 6, 2012 Posted by | General Training | Leave a comment

Simple and Complex

ImageIt’s a simple task. Stop by the store to pick up the items on your list. Walking through the entrance of the super-store you accidentally bump shoulders with a guy going out trough the in door. You glance over, say “‘Scuse me,” and walk on. Nothing big.

The man has a little alcohol and a bad attitude ’cause his “old lady” is giving him grief. You hear him ask the woman in a loud tone if she saw what just happened. You start paying closer attention because this simple thing could develop into something more complicated. In the reflection off the glass door ahead you see him stop, point at you, and say a few words to the woman, some which you have no problem lip-reading. You continue walking, keeping in mind that things may have just gotten serious.

From the magazine rack you can keep an eye on the doorway so you stop by to check out the gun publications. Maybe it was nothing. After a few minutes you head deeper into the store to complete your purchases.

You scan as you exit into the parking lot. The first thing you notice is the woman who was with the man is now standing near the first set of cars in the lot and acting anxious. Movement draws your eye. From around the corner steps the man. Held low and against his leg is a knife. This is complicated and serious. He moves towards you, his intent clear. You present your pistol while moving to create distance. “Stop, drop the weapon now!” He ignores the command. The knife comes up and he continues advancing. The distance between the two of you is decreasing rapidly.

At this point what was a complicated situation suddenly becomes simple. You’ve exhausted every option in an attempt to avoid it, but the only solution to the problem – and a fairly easy one to execute as long as you’ve practiced – is shooting to stop the threat. Mentally and physically you cycle through your mantra, “Front sight press, front sight reset.” The threat reacts to the first shot immediately. He clutches his side, turns and begins running away. The woman follows.

The threat is gone. The last twenty seconds occurred in slow motion, but now it seems like time is speeding up. A lot of things are happening at once; your senses overloading as they attempt to compensate for lost time. You’re glancing around. A crowd is gathering. You hear voices and realize the sirens in the distance are growing louder each second and that the pistol is still in your hands. The situation is becoming complicated, again.

During daily life we constantly flow back and forth between simplicity and the complex. Sometimes a dramatic shift occurs. A completely unexpected and complex situation takes on lethal qualities. Success in life relies on the ability to flow between the simple and complex, the known and unknown, constantly maintaining the correct balance between the two. Victory demands this.

August 30, 2012 Posted by | General Training | Leave a comment

What You Got?

ImageWhen you train, attending a school to learn techniques, and as you practice, learning the techniques through repetition, it is a good idea to work with what you actually carry on a daily basis. For example students who carry concealed will arrive at Shootrite for class with a full size 1911, which is a good fightin’ weapon. The problem is that as we talk about carrying, it comes out that the pistol they normally tote is a J frame S&W revolver in a pocket holster. When I ask why they aren’t training with the J frame the most common response is, “I didn’t want to hold back the class.”

This also occurs with armed professionals. Does your work holster have retention devices? Then that’s what you should train/practice with. The other side of the coin is that most officers also carry off-duty, which makes it a little more complicated. Since one can never predict when you may need the pistol it’s a good idea to work with both duty and off-duty weapons and gear.

We attend training to learn tactical skills – moving, communicating, the use of cover, shooting under a variety of conditions and learning to think under stress. Regardless of why you carry a weapon these fundamentals are pretty much the same and apply across the board; they may vary slightly in their actual application according to what your job is.

Training also provides an opportunity to learn how your gear works. You’re not only learning new skills but also searching for any problems that can be corrected in advance. On the range, during single hand manipulations simulating injury drills, you determine that you can’t cycle the pistol’s slide by hooking the rear sight against your floppy holster. Learning about this problem during training means you can get a better holster as opposed to finding out during a fight that your gear doesn’t work. Pinpointing a potential problem in advance is very valuable. This applies to gear, physical skills, and especially the mental aspects of personal combat.

To fight effectively you must be intimately familiar with your gear. True, you need to know how to operate any type weapon you may acquire. But, training/practicing with one type pistol and then carrying something completely different creates an ideal situation for difficulty. In a confrontation there are plenty of things to think about without your equipment adding to the list. Spend most of your time with what you normally carry.

Once you determine what works for you as far as pistol and gear goes, stick with it. Slowing down the class shouldn’t be your worry. Plus, if you come to class with a revolver you’ll get really good at reloading. I also wouldn’t be concerned about being the quickest guy in class to draw and fire a shot. It will be up to you alone to defeat the threat. To do this means learning to work with what ‘cha got
.

August 16, 2012 Posted by | Gear, General Training | Leave a comment

Evaluating Your Performance

ImageAsk a knowledgeable shooter to analyze a group on their target and you’ll likely hear about what they did wrong. “These shots that are low and left,” they reply – for a right-handed shooter – “are from anticipating the recoil, tensing up or flinching before the shot.” The shots that are scattered around the target they’ll explain indicate they were looking at the target instead of the front sight. And they will be correct, these are all the things that went wrong. But when you look at your target it’s far better to focus on the good shots and what you did to get the accurate hits. Reinforcing good habits, concentrating on proper technique, is always more productive than focusing on the negative aspects of your performance.

Self-criticism is one of the biggest issues I see with students. They may have made fourteen great shots, but will immediately hone in on the two bad ones on the target. When a mistake is made on an empty reload they dwell on what they wrong instead of simply acknowledging their mistake and then concentrating on how the correct technique for future reloads. Thinking about smoothly pressing the trigger, releasing an accurate shot, will always result in “more better” hits than focusing on not jerking or slapping the trigger.

From a learning standpoint you have to realize that not every shot will be good. Some will downright suck. When you’re training/practicing you’ll make mistakes. When I don’t have any bad shots that probably means I wasn’t pushing myself to the edge, and if you don’t discover the edge then you’re never be able to figure out how to get past it. The key is I’m not thinking about how I jerked the trigger on my last shot. That is history and there is nothing I can do about what has happened in the past except to learn from it. I’m concentrating about the sweet trigger press I’m going to achieve on the next five rounds I fire to make up for the one bad one. As long as the good hits outnumber the bad ones I’m on the right track. There will always be some bad hits, but when the total group size decreases then there is improvement.

Fighting is about making proper choices, and this is definitely true for what you choose to think about. If you’re thinking about not jerking the trigger then you can’t be thinking about smoothly pressing the trigger. Thinking about what may go wrong prevents you from thinking about what needs to be done. In a fight you don’t have time to think about anything except what to do in order to solve the problem facing you.

One of my professors in college explained that the reason we study history isn’t so we don’t repeat the same mistakes. We examine history in order to evaluate the present, assessing and making decisions on what needs to be done in the future. This is especially true when it comes to our fighting skills.

August 2, 2012 Posted by | General Training | Leave a comment