Monday, November 16, 2020

A California Pistol Qualification -- Blindfolded

A local retired law enforcement officer (LEO) recently asked me to assist him with a LEOSA requalification to demonstrate that he met his former California agency’s qualification standards. At the range, he provided me with a copy of the prescribed course of fire on his former agency’s letterhead.

We set up the target and I ran him through the qualification course with his Glock 9mm and his S&W .38 Special J-frame revolver. He scored 100% with his Glock and 86% (passing) with his snubbie.

I asked him about the course of fire and he assured me that it was the current standard for his former agency and that the agency had used this qualification standard when he had been an active LEO. 

I was so impressed with the qualification standard’s complexity and difficulty that I asked the retired LEO to witness me shooting the qualification—blindfolded. I did it blindfolded to ensure that there was no question about me being able to see the target in any way. I scored a 100% on the qualification.

The qualification course of fire was as follows:

-- 1-yard line: 5 shots, two strings of fire. String 1: draw and fire 3 shots with the primary hand only within 6 seconds. String 2: draw and fire 2 shots with the primary hand only
within 6 seconds.

-- 3-yard line: 5 shots, one string of fire. Draw and fire 3 shots with the primary hand only, switch the pistol to the other hand and fire 2 shots using only that hand
within 8 seconds.

-- 5-yard line: 5 shots, one string of fire. Draw and fire 2 shots with the primary hand only, switch the pistol to the other hand and fire 3 shots using only that hand
within 8 seconds.

If you objectively look at this course of fire it would seem that it would be impossible to fail. The retired LEO assured that that he had in fact seen colleagues in his former agency fail. 

When we compare this course of fire to the standards for the Texas License to Carry (LTC) test the differences are stark. The Texas LTC qualification requires 50 rounds at distances of 3, 7, and 15 yards. 

My experience with 1000+ LTC applicants is that very few fail the Texas LTC qualification. I have literally had students take a brand new pistol out of its box, remove the tags, and qualify; even though that was the first time they had ever touched a pistol in their life.

Many police officers are competent with their sidearms and some maintain their skills through competition and practice.  Others, like people in many professions, are satisfied with the minimum standard.  Although the California agency in question may have budgetary or other reasons for this simplistic qualification, I cannot help but think the agency is doing its officers and the public they serve a disservice. 

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Thursday, November 5, 2020

Origins of the Failure Drill or the “Mozambique Drill”

Retired Marine Lt Col Jeff Copper is arguably the father of the modern pistol craft that Massad Ayoob, Tom Givens, John Farnam, and a variety of others teach. Cooper published a number of books and I highly recommend them. Many today do not know of Jeff Cooper and his prolific writings and I intend to do a small part in correcting that through periodic quotes that may be relevant to the self-defense topics I discuss in this blog. Constructive comments as always are welcome.

Jeff Cooper originally promulgated what is now often known as a “failure drill” as the “Mozambique Drill.”

Jeff Cooper's Commentaries Vol. 1, No. 1; June 1993

Per Jeff Cooper:

"As time passes, we discover that there are a good many readers who have not been to school and who are puzzled by our reference to "The Mozambique Drill."

I added The Mozambique Drill to the modern doctrine after hearing of an experience of a student of mine up in Mozambique when that country was abandoned. My friend was involved in the fighting that took place around the Lourenço Marques airport. At one point, Mike turned a corner was confronted by a terrorist carrying an AK47. The man was advancing toward him at a walk at a range of perhaps 10 paces. Mike, who was a good shot, came up with his P35 and planted two satisfactory hits, one on each side of the wishbone. He expected his adversary to drop, but nothing happened, and the man continued to close the range. At this point, our boy quite sensibly opted to go for the head and tried to do so, but he was a little bit upset by this time and mashed slightly on the trigger, catching the terrorist precisely between the collar bones and severing his spinal cord. This stopped the fight.

Upon analysis, it seemed to me that the pistolero should be accustomed to the idea of placing two shots amidships as fast as he can and then being prepared to change his point of aim if this achieves no results. Two shots amidships can be placed very quickly and very reliably and they will nearly always stop the fight providing a major-caliber pistol is used and the subject is not wearing body armor. However, simply chanting "two in the body, one in the head" oversimplifies matters, since it takes considerably longer to be absolutely sure of a head shot than it does to be quite sure of two shots in the thorax. The problem for the shooter is to change his pace, going just as fast as he can with his first pair, then, pausing to observe results or lack thereof, he must slow down and shoot precisely. This is not easy to do. The beginner tends to fire all three shots at the same speed, which is either too slow for the body shots or too fast for the head shot. This change of pace calls for concentration and coordination which can only be developed through practice.

Mike Rouseau was later killed in action in the Rhodesian War. May he rest in peace!"

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Steve's House -- A Home Defense Scenario

In a recent Sensible Self Defense Short Range Match we set up a stage replicating a home defense scenario. The stage copied the angles present in my friend’s house as he comes out of the master bedroom.⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣

To correctly make the best use of cover, I engaged the first three targets with the shotgun on my left shoulder (mirror image). As I moved forward, I transitioned to the right shoulder and engaged the remaining targets.⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣

I was firing Fiocchi 9-pellet buckshot on this stage. The Fiocchi 9-pellet buckshot load weighs 486 grains. At 1325 FPS it has a muzzle energy of 1895 foot pounds. The targets are AR400 steel 2/3 size IDPA silhouette targets and weigh about 40 lbs. As you can see, the impact of the 00 buckshot really rocks these targets. 

The most distant potential engagement distances in Steve's house vary from 7-12 yards.  We placed the first set of targets in this scenario at eight yards, the next set at 10 yards, and the final set at 12 yards. 

Multiple projectile loads require particular attention to what is behind your target. YOU are responsible for every pellet you fire and every pellet can maim or kill. This is where target distance and the pattern of a particular load in your shotgun comes into play. 

The Fiocchi 9-pellet 00 buckshot load from my Beretta 1301 shotgun at 15 yards generally puts all nine pellets within a 10 inch circle. As you can see from the video below, all pellets from my 1301 likely struck the steel target even though I did not always have a perfect center hit.


Would I be comfortable using the Fiocchi 9-pellet 00 buckshot load?  If necessary, yes; however, there are better loads available. The Federal 8-pellet 00 Buckshot loads with the  FLITECONTROL® wad, the Speer Lawman with the same wad, or the Hornady 00 Buckshot load with the Versatite™ wad all seem to perform well in most shotguns. These loads typically throw an an 8-inch spread within 20 yards—the absolute outer limit for most urban home defense scenarios. This is
an acceptably tight pattern for home defense scenarios. 

I am convinced that the 12 gauge shotgun is the perfect home defense firearm. I have always been impressed with the shotgun’s effectiveness and power and the work I have done recently with the platform has reinforced my belief in the shotgun as a defensive tool. When employed correctly and within its proper range envelope the shotgun is very effective.

We periodically have shotgun matches at Cedar Ridge Range in San Antonio. ⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣

For more information go to:⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Some Thoughts on Carry Ammunition

I firmly believe that you should always use factory ammunition for personal protection carry. When you purchase your chosen personal protection ammo from a reputable company always try to purchase 3 boxes of the same lot. I know ammo is expensive; however, isn’t your personal protection ammunition more important than a few high-priced cups of coffee? 

You should examine every round for proper primer seating, case integrity, and bullet defects. Fire a few rounds from one box to confirm your pistol’s zero and point of impact with that lot of ammunition. After you load your magazines for carry save at least five rounds in the box. If you ever find yourself in a short range defensive situation, the forensics examiner can use the ammunition sample from the lot that you have saved to verify distances with powder testing. Large ammunition makers keep samples for each lot for exemplar testing for 10 years as well.

What about rotating your ammunition? I periodically (every six months) rotate my carry ammunition and always confirm that the point of impact for a new lot is where I expect it to be. What do I do with the ammunition I retire from my carry pistol? I place them in a box and when I have enough to fire a standard qualification for practice, I use that ammunition. This lets me reaffirm that my pistol functions with my carry rounds and reminds me what firing that ammunition feels like.

A good practice when loading and unloading your pistol is to rotate the rounds in the magazine so that you are not always chambering the same round. Repeated chambering may eventually cause the bullet to set back in the case and could damage the hollow point’s opening, the cartridge rim, etc. I know it is a pain; however, periodically removing all the rounds in the magazine and placing the #1 round in the #15 (etc.) position will minimize the potential damage.

For Winchester’s view on rotating your ammunition (courtesy of Massad Ayoob) please see the following: Common Sense Duty Ammunition Rotation

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