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 a contract army, many vets from South America, for the United Arab Emirates. 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 faces 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 afterward. 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 victims 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 spilled. 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 him. And, this person actually represents the in-the-trenches, the ground-level judge who signs your arrest warrant, or your 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.

Filter 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 their own private "funks" 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 will take some kind of action, but lesser 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 filters (one, two, or all three) are what you will face.  Good luck with all that.

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