Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Can you really use your sights in a gunfight?

Dr Bill Lewinski's Force Science put this out today. Obviously, I agree with him, but he is a much more learned and respected, university-based source to quote than little ol me. So here it is-

Can you really use your sights in a gunfight? Should you if you can?  A reader recently sent us this inquiry:

 'It is said that stress hampers eye focus, making it impossible to use your sights in a life-threatening encounter. Yet some people who have been involved in real firearms engagements state they used their sights. Can you aim and use sights under stress if you have the proper training?' - Capt. Jorge Tierno Rey

Dr. Bill Lewinski, executive director of the Force Science Institute, responds:

"In a panic situation, where an officer is caught in a threat by surprise and perhaps overwhelmed by emotion, he or she may not be able to respond with sufficient control to attain a sight picture in the fraction of time available. There are changes to the eye under stress that can make sighting more difficult, but with the right training these can be overcome. Our research with equipment that tracks eye movement shows that sighted fire can be accomplished even under intense stress.

The key is a combination of two critical elements: 1) your innate ability to acquire and implement the technical skills of effective weapon management, and 2) the type and quality of instruction that constitute the "right" training for gunfight mastery.

In the US, many departments train their officers only to the level of minimum state standards, which are inadequate for achieving high-level proficiency. The bulk of their training often is presented in concentrated blocks, after which learned psychomotor skills rapidly deteriorate, rather than through continual reinforcement at intervals, which tends to build and maintain skills over time. And, deplorably, many officers are never exposed to firearms training of any kind that allows them to practice perception, decision-making, and responses at the speed of an actual gunfight.

All this leaves them dangerously deficient in many aspects of quality performance in a crisis, sight-acquisition among them.

It's important to understand that using your sights in a gunfight is not always necessary or even desirable for effectively placing rounds. If you don't get a sight picture at 20 ft. and beyond, your ability to shoot accurately is likely to be seriously impaired. That's actually not very far, in real world settings--down a hallway or across some rooms.

Closer than that, at distances where most gunfights occur, trying to use your sights may take too long; by the time you're sighted in, your target may have moved. At less than 20 ft., you're probably best to fix your gaze on your target and quickly drive your gun up to align with that line of view, firing unsighted.

Obviously, to do this successfully requires a great deal of consistent practice, responding to force-on-force scenarios at various distances that develop realistically in terms of action, movement, and speed. This will help you learn to identify the telltale patterns of an evolving threat so you can get ahead of the reactionary curve.

Over time, you will learn how threats unfold and be able to anticipate what, where, when, and how the "play" will progress. This, in turn, will build in you the ability to react automatically--without conscious thought--either with or without the use of your sights, depending on the dynamic circumstances you face. You will, in effect, be better equipped to stay ahead of the reactionary curve.

To achieve that level of skill, be prepared to go, on your own, beyond the training offered by your agency. It is the rare department indeed that has the budget and the time to take officers as far as their native ability allows and elevate them to truly elite status.
Even at no cost, you can still strengthen your fundamental skills, including sight acquisition, through dry-fire drills. With modern weapons, you can dry fire literally thousands of times without damage to your equipment. When your life is on the line, your personal commitment to be the best you can be will seem a small price to have paid." - Dr Bill Lewinski Minnesota State U.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Civilian Warriors, the Inside Story of Blackwater

Finished the Erik Prince book, his version of the history and events of Blackwater. I enjoyed the book and hearing his version of things. I do believe the Democrats tried to persecute him and the company and yet could never cut them loose because they did such a diverse and successful service. They had a tremendous success record when considering the overall big picture.

In a way, Prince is like Howard Hughes and other entrepreneurs who built massive businesses in the US in various fields and was met with obstacles. The final chapter was written by Max Boot, war historian who fills in all the CIA related blanks that Prince could not even dare mention due to prior contract promises. Boot did a separate investigation and finished off the book for the publishers. There were stories running around that Prince moved to the Middle East to create an contract army, many vets from South America, for the United Arab Emerites. But in this book he states he moved there with his family just to build mining companies?

More to read on this: 

NPR - Was prince Maligned?

New York Times - Prince sets up Middle Eastern Army?

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A Knife is For Killing

This is a story from an Australian man, a friend of mine nicknamed Redcap. He married a Filipino girl and lives in the Philippines for part of each year...- Hock

* * * * * * * * * *

     I have had a long chat with my wife's uncle Borino. He is the family 'fighter', the one with the rep. He also killed our pig the other morning for the big family reunion fiesta. (Photos not included but if you ever want to learn how to kill and butcher a pig for Lechon, these follow it step by step).
     Anyway, he has some interesting opinions and experiences on knife killing (he uses the word 'ihaw' 'kill' not 'nagaway' 'fighting') that I have put into a draft article. Not sure where to place the article though, a little too 'reality based' for Black belt or Blitz.
     Anyway, here it is for discussion if you wish. Meanwhile, I gotta help Papa with the pigs still oinking for their supper! - Redcap

Tonacao Cuchillo- Ten Lessons In Killing With A Knife

     Sixty years old, short, wiry with broad shoulders from decades of hauling in fishing nets, Borino Tonacao has a face like kamagong, dark brown and chiselled with character. He is also our family fighter. The uncle of my wife, Borino is the man who kills the pigs for fiesta in the barangay. He has taken lives other than those of pigs over the years but he rarely tells unless the Tanduay or tuba are loosening his tongue.

     The day he killed our pig for the family reunion I watched him at work, then later, we talked. He carries his knife in a scabbard made from folded newspaper. It is a cheap kitchen knife, the blade is eight inches in length and the handle of orange plastic. Razor sharp. He wears it stuck into his shorts on his right side, handle pointing to the left and he can draw it lightening fast. It seems at first the knife is pointing the wrong way for a right handed draw into a reverse grip position with the blade down and the edge facing his body, but that is how he carries it and through years of use he deftly positions the knife that way in literally the blink of an eye.

Lesson 1
Getting the knife into your hand fast is his first lesson. “If it is not in your hand, it is not a knife, it is nothing” he says. He tells of how he has been attacked and had to fight off his attackers empty handed until he could get his own weapon into action.

Lesson 2
“Keep moving! Yell and scream to summon your courage and to make your attackers scared of coming close. Do not stand still or you will die.”

Lesson 3
I asked him about the type of knife he prefers and he simply replied “a sharp one, this size (indicating his own 8 inch kitchen knife) and in your hand when you need it.”

Lesson 4
The scabbard he uses he throws away when the paper deteriorates, then quickly makes a new one. “It is not important. The knife is important” he told me. In the west we fixate on the quality of the steel and the ‘rig’ we carry it in. Here is a man who uses his knife every day and he thinks only of having it long, sharp and in his hand when he needs it.

Lesson 5
We talked about grip and position and he says he prefers the reverse grip with the thumb on the pommel, or butt of the handle. It adds power to the stab and stops the knife being pushed back through the hand if he hits bone or his victim struggles. The reverse grip is the most powerful for stabbing he says because he can put his back into the blow.

     The edge faces towards him so that once he has stabbed deeply he can again use his back muscles to draw the knife towards him, opening the wound, speeding up the killing and giving leverage against the struggling of the victim.

     “Your arms and back are made to pull and lift, things I have done every day since a small boy when fishing and working the fields. It is stronger than pushing the knife away from you. The reverse grip is stronger than holding it in what you call a sabre grip. I would never use that, too easy to lose your knife inside him when he fights back.” He shows me what he means, easily demonstrating the leverage used to disarm someone holding the knife in a sabre grip. Even the more secure hammer grip gives something away to the defender.

Lesson 6
“To kill you must have power!” Borino exclaims. “You can’t half kill someone, be it pig or a man.” When you kill, they will not lie there and let you do it. They will fight and scream and struggle and you must be strong. Your heart must be hot but your head cold. You will see their face and hear their screams in your dreams and when you are awake they will come back and ask you ‘why did you kill me?’ and you will feel shame if you did not kill quick and right.” By right, he explained he meant for the right reasons. Not murder, but to provide food if it is an animal and to save your life or your family's lives if it is a man.

Lesson 7
We talked a bit more about killing, the why, the when, the who and the how. Borino wasn’t bragging, he was simply telling it how it had been for him. “Killing is easy. Just stab the throat and work the hole. Open it wide and he will die. That is not hard. The hard thing is to live with it afterwards. That is why you must kill right” he said.

Lesson 8
I showed him some knife fighting training clips on a DVD I had. He said very simply and authoritatively, “these men have never killed with a knife” and nothing more. I pressed him for more detail and he replied, “they are playing with knives, not killing. You don’t do all this when you kill, even if he has a knife as well. You get in first and you kill quickly. If you can’t do that then you wait. Keep him away until he has time to think of dying, when his blood is cooled. Or you escape and kill him when he hasn’t got his own knife. This is not a game. It is killing!”

     When I showed him martial artists using a knife to wound or disarm their opponent he got up, found his cigarettes, then sat down again. He looked at me in a way that made me feel childlike for even suggesting you could use a knife for anything less lethal than death. “A knife is for killing.” He said no more about wounding, he’d told me enough as it was.

Lesson 9
We talked about where to stab and he said he only ever stabs the throat. If he can’t stab the throat he will cut his way there. “It is best to kill from behind, like with the pig. Why give someone or something a chance to escape, to fight back and kill you? If you try to kill and fail, they will come for you when you are weak and they are strong and you die. What is the point of that?” Indeed, what is the point of giving your victim a fair chance to not only survive but to do to you what you plan to do to them? Again, this is about one thing and one thing only. Killing. Taking life, not pretending to be some kind of tough guy.

Lesson 10
Which led us to the big lesson. Lesson 10. Intent. To Borino it is all about intent. He only kills when he intends to kill. He never intends to wound or intimidate. Those who know him know he will kill and that is intimidation enough. Those who don’t know him are soon set straight by others who have no wish to see blood spilt. Borino has a reputation but one earned, not made up by telling people how he served with some special forces military unit. Borino never served a day in the military in his life, he is a fisherman and the barangay butcher. He has been in tight spots and survived and he has no hesitation to kill when killing is right, but when it is not he feels no shame in avoiding death. Either his or, more likely, someone else’s.

     When he kills he does it quickly, with as much power as he can deliver and he does it definitely, no hesitation. It is not a game. It is life or death and so far, he has always lived. I asked him if he ever worried that one day he would die like the pig he killed for us that morning?

     “Maybe. But I am not worried. If I die that way it will be quick. And I will take whoever does it with me to God.”

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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Three Tests of Self Defense Everyone Should Understand

This topic comes up a lot when I teach. These questions...

     "What action can I take?"

     "Can I kill the guy" 

     "Can I tear his eyeballs out?" 

     ...and as they said in the Sopranos - "yadda-yadda-yadda."

     Questions around about like these.

     By now, we all know the legal mainstays of deadly force for citizens and police, the whole, "in fear of life thing" and for the sake of brevity I'll skip them here and go with a very realistic addendum to the subject I use to explain the ugliness to people. This three-filter observation fits well in the American system and abstractly in the legal systems of other countries.

Filter One: A Reasonable Person. 
Your actions will be viewed by a reasonable and prudent person. What would they think? Will it be agreeable to the classic, theoretic "reasonable and prudent person?"  We at least know who this guy is, in that we can imagine them. And, this person actually represents the in-the-trenches, ground level, judge who signs your arrest warrant, or search warrant. Will he or she find your violent actions reasonable? Prudent? But we realize (and hope!) that numerous reasonable and prudent people are handling your investigation of your violent actions well before the judge sees and signs - or refuses to sign - any paperwork they are given.

Filter Two: The Totality of Circumstances
The next level all reasonable and prudent people must consider is the totality of circumstances of your violent action. For one example, did you "shoot-the-first-unarmed-man-because-there-were-eleven-more-attacking-you," kind of situation. The totality of circumstances is often lingo you hear from appellate courts, even the supreme court of the US of A.

Filer Three: The Dumbest Juror
This is bad news. Many people are just plain dense, dumb and flat out stupid. These people end up on your jury. I hope by now you have read the dozens of studies "out there" on how forgetful, easily swayed and weirdly prejudiced people are.

     What about attention spans these days? These jurors often fall asleep during your trial, or at least daydream, sometimes feverishly.

     I have testified numerous times before juries when members have nodded off. The judges (often in his or her own private funk high above on the bench), for some inexplicable reason do not chastise the sleepers? Federal judges, full of extra and frightening powers usually do not stand for this and take some kind of action, but lessor judges? Why not? I have never seen or heard of it happening. I am sure it must somewhere?

    At these times when I was on the stand, testifying before the somnambulist,  I would cough or fake a LOUD sneeze into the microphone (many times there are no mikes, though) in an effort to shock the snoozer into waking up and hear the important parts. Everyone significant in the court is hip to my trick, and it is indeed a slight to the judge, but hellfire, I have felons to convict. Their dropped heads would snap up and I would finish the speech.

     These one, two or all three filters are what you will face.  Good luck with all that.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Look At The Left Window...This Is As Close As You'll Get To...

     Back to the 1970s. Just about every day, I’d leave my village in South Korea, get on a "kimchi bus" and take the 30 minute or so ride to Kimpo Air Base, right exactly next to the big civilian Kimpo Airport. There was a small, primitive military gym at the air base – the closest gym to us and they let Army and Marines in, whereupon I would work out. By "right next to" I mean a small parking lot, a chain link fence, a strip of grass and the runway. Planes coming and going were close and very LOUD. We got somewhat use to it.

Kimpo Air Base of the times

     Then, one afternoon I was in there exercising when a most, hideous wave of sound came crashing through the gym and shook my lungs. I swear I wanted to drop to my knees. WHAT? I made for the open bay doors and saw the source. The Concorde! Wow. First time I saw (or heard or felt that!). Later on the G.I. station news I saw where the Concorde had just started flying into Korea and these was the first days. To my memory it was French plane. And yes, we had to put up with the roar coming and, or going, rattling the fillings in our teeth if we were there at the gym working out at those times.

     Back to 2015. Recently on my way back from Warsaw through London Heathrow, while taxiing, the pilot told us all to look out the window to the left and see the "old" British Airways Concorde. Still looking so awesome. There was some display or event of sorts going on at the airport. The pilot said, “this is about as close as you will ever get to a Concorde.” But, I was closer back in the 70s. Eyeball shaking closer.

     At home in Texican land, I found this timely news video. It was a kick to see this plane again. And it took me back to a cool moment in time I'd forgotten, guts vibrating, running out to the lot, and watching the big, beautiful, supersonic, bastard take off.

 See the video clip of the London Concorde action Click here

Kimpo Airport of the times, later and now called Gimpo Airport

Downfall of the Concorde -the 2000 crash video in France Click here 

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Friday, January 23, 2015

The Gunman's False Surrender

You have the drop on the bad guy. His or her gun is not out, or maybe is out. But they decide to surrender to you. Or, so it would seem. Are they are setting you up?

     The following photos are some old school samples of fake-outs and tricks criminals would use, know and pass on to the next generation. In the olden days tricks like this would be passed on to inmates in prisons using wood props or sculpted soap bars, or out in the hang-outs and dens where bad guys swap stories, booze, drugs, and moves.

     These are some of the tips passed down to me from veteran cops from as far back as the 1960s. They have indeed manifested in subsequent years. This is important awareness for police, military and citizens protecting themselves whether home or away.

     Before we start, remember the three carry sites and the time and space it takes to get to the them.

1: Primary carry site: Think quick draw
The belt line. Pockets. Maybe the shoulder rig. The quick access locations.

2: Secondary carry site: Think back up
The boot gun or knife, the neck knife, weapons that require a little time to dig out of their hidey holes. This is good for you because they need a few seconds to deploy. A few seconds pass very fast though!

3: Tertiary carry site: Think lunge and reach
This is when the weapon is off the body, within a sudden lunge and grab.

This is why the old line, “watch the hands, it’s the hands that will kill you,” is so important. It doesn’t mean you stare at their mitts. You conduct your business but keep track of the hands. Hand movements to these sites are your alert systems to take action. Memorize the pathways by having trainers pull weapons tens or hundreds of times in front of you.

Here are some tips-

Consider some of these issues when trying to control, contain and/or arrest.

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Burned Hands From Holding Firing Handguns

Grabbing the enemy's gun is sometimes an essential, life-saving skill in a close-quarters, survival fight. Hanging on to it through the presentation of the weapon and even its firing is an important part of keeping the barrel off of you and maybe off others, and a major step in disarming.

     A counter to this pistol or weapon-bearing limb grab? It has always been one old-school solution to counter a pistol grab by firing the weapon, if the pistol will still function under the grip - that is if the slide has not been pushed back far enough, or if the revolver cylinder can still turn, and, or the visible hammer's travel can be stopped. 
    The explosion may cause the disarmer to let go of their grab and disarm attempt from the sheer explosion and shock. Various military and police agencies through the decades have at times introduced a training course where people stand to the side of a pistol and hold on to it as it is fired. Sometimes in the programs, people are allowed to wear thin gloves, sometimes not. I did a course once where we had to wear thin, white gloves. This experience preps you for that possible, future, real moment.

    U.K. war vet Alan Cain gave me these photos from some of his British Army training conducted by an American Green Beret. The purpose of the session was to see if the soldiers could develop the fortitude to hold onto various pistols through firing and to examine what if any the damage that might occur.

    As you can see, the teams used both revolvers and semi-autos. If you are new to the gun “bidness” you may not know that the explosion inside a revolver discharges/escapes a great deal more, via the frame openings, than does the more enclosed, semi-auto pistol. (That's Cain holding the pistol top) 

     You can see below the long stripped burns on the palms come from the revolver. Smaller black burns come from the ejection port of the semi auto. Keep in mind the troops were not wrestling with these guns in these test, which might actually move the slide of a semi-auto or freeze the cylinder and stop a bullet from firing. They were just holding on as in the above photo.

     Also you can see some cuts from where the semi-auto slide move cut the flesh. You may also suffer some "erupted skin." They did this for a couple of hours too and this is an accumulated damage. The "open" revolvers did more more damage. I have seen numerous results from semi-auto grabs and no damage was observed.
     Double-action cylinder grab. If a revolver's cylinder area is gripped very tightly, the gripper’s five fingers usually have more strength than the shooter’s one finger pulling the trigger, and trying to turn the cylinder of an uncocked revolver into place. Five versus one. It is difficult. (The trigger finger must turn the cylinder in a double action trigger pull.) The gripper’s five fingers may prevent the cylinder from turning and then. the revolver from firing.

      I have had my head too close to a revolver discharge years ago. I have written before about one event when I push-pulled a magnum revolver from a guy's hand in a struggle. He fired it in the air to get me and other guy's grip off his gun arm. He instinctively seemed to know about this discharge trick as a counter to a disarm or grab. Like a warning shot. I was charging in from the side and was very close. I grabbed the cylinder and frame with my left hand and pulled inward. I pushed his forearm out with my right hand and got the take away, all right in the midst of him pulling the trigger and firing into the air.

     After the stupid disturbance and argument was quelled. I stepped into the bathroom of the office building where this happened. I took a look in the mirror. The right side temple area of my head received a reddish - "sunburn," but the close blast popped some small blood vessels into small star-like burst, patterns around my temple, eye and cheekbone. What? 

     My left hand? Nothing! But, I am not sure where my left hand was at the exact flashpoint. I apparently closed my eyes at the split second of the explosion, as I remember no flash. A good thing I guess. 

     Hearing in my right ear was literally wiped out. Blasted and screeching deeply inside, but at the same time it was like like someone stuffed a whole pillow in my ear. This hindered my hearing and concentration at the scene. My ear was jacked up for days. Frankly, my hearing may have been permanently damaged from that, I don't know. 

     I do not know the caliber of the bullet.
     Anyway, I thought you'd like to see these Alan Cain pictures. Get on Youtube and look for film clips of people holding firing pistols. You see how scratch and burn free they are, especially when they are grasping semi-auto pistols.

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