Thursday, August 30, 2018

Quality Control -- Examine Your Ammunition

Each and every component is made to meet and exceed the most demanding quality control and performance standards in the industry!  

This is a quote concerning quality control from a major ammunition manufacturer. A friend of mine who was attending a shooting course that only permits factory ammunition was using some factory ammo that is supplied in a white box. He had a failure to extract during a mandatory qualification that was the result of a round that clearly did not have a proper powder charge. That round at least did not meet the most demanding quality control standards.

This was not an isolated incident. A competitor in one of our recent matches opened a factory-sealed green and white box of new factory 9mm ammunition only to discover that over 3/4 of the rounds in the box had the bullet seated at different depths. The range owner speculated that the case containing the box may have been dropped during shipment causing some of the bullets to seat deeper into their case.

Always examine your ammunition and never fire ammunition that is obviously defective. In training, competition, or practice, if you have a round that sounds significantly under-powered, always stop, unload the pistol, and check to ensure the bullet exited the bore. Firing a round in a pistol with an obstructed bore can potentially cause serious injury and destroy the pistol.  The ammunition mentioned above with the rounds seated too deeply could have caused serious over pressures when fired.

Always use factory ammunition for personal protection carry. When you purchase your chosen personal-protection ammo from a reputable company 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? 

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. On the box's end flap write down the date you put that particular carry round into service.  

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. The forensic examiner cannot verify distances with handloads because there is no un-biased sample to measure it against.

Every maker claims that they want to manufacture perfect firearms and ammunition; however, quality control costs money and there is no question that every manufacturer has an acceptable “failure” rate for their products. Often it is cheaper in the grand scheme of things to repair or replace a few defective products rather than strive for 100% perfection. Do your part by examining and testing your practice and personal protection ammunition. 

If you enjoy reading these please subscribe. The link is on the upper right side of the page. All that will happen is that you will receive an e-mail when I post an article. Your information will never be distributed.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Thugs on a Crime Spree--Walking the Dog

Nationally known firearms trainer John Farnam is noted for a saying: “When its least expected, you are elected.” Garrett and Caroline Scharton were certainly not expecting to be elected when they were walking their dog just after midnight on 22 July 2018. Video shows a black Chevrolet Malibu drive past them and quickly park. Three thugs, two of them armed, jumped out of the Malibu and accosted the Schartons—threatening them with a shotgun and pistol while demanding their valuables. Discovering that the couple only had a cell phone, one thug kicked Garrett Scharton and then the thugs departed.

The thugs in question, aged 13-16 years had carjacked the owner of the Chevrolet Malibu at gunpoint earlier that evening and then embarked on a crime spree that included robbing another man while he was out walking in Oak Cliff, a modest suburb of Dallas, Texas. After the thugs robbed the Schartons, they encountered, robbed, and beat a Domino’s Pizza delivery driver. Mesquite Police caught up with the teens and arrested them following a short chase and found the Scharton’s stolen phone and the thug’s firearms inside the stolen vehicle.

As I began analyzing the video from a self-defense perspective, the shooting problem did not appear to be that challenging for a well-trained defender. I diagrammed and used this incident as a stage in our local Short Range Match (click here for the video) and most competitors had no difficulty with the stage as I had set it up.

Although many pretend that this is not the case, a match environment is very different from the problem that presented itself to Garrett Scharton, even if he had been armed and willing to act. 

Let’s look at this incident using Boyd’s Observe, Orient, Decide, Act (OODA)* decision cycle from the Scharton’s and the thug’s perspectives. The thugs have already passed through a full OODA cycle. They have Observed the Schartons, Oriented when they parked the car, Decided to rob them, and are putting that decision into Action. As we analyze the video, it’s clear that Garrett and Caroline are looking at the car as it comes to a stop in the parking space (both Observe). The area is well lit as you can see by the shadows Garrett and Caroline cast.

The thug’s OODA cycle is reset as they exit the car. Thug 1 Observes Garrett’s position, Orients as he removes the shotgun, and then begins the Decide and Act stages as he prepares to use the shotgun. From the first moment that the thug in the back seat behind the driver steps out of the vehicle to Garrett’s initial recognition that the thug is removing a firearm is approximately 0.20 seconds (Garrett Orient). The thug then chambers a round in the shotgun approximately 0.68 seconds later (Thug Act). Garrett clearly reacts to the sound of the thug chambering the shotgun round (Decide); however, Caroline has not reacted even though she is also looking toward the vehicle. It’s possible that due to the angle, Garrett is obscuring her view of the thug with the shotgun and/or she does not hear or does not recognize what she is hearing.

The thug (Decide) aims the shotgun at Garrett approximately 0.46 seconds later and Garrett reacts by beginning to raise his hands (Garrett Acts); Caroline reacts as well by ducking away. Approximately 0.94 seconds later the thug with the shotgun begins advancing toward Garrett and Caroline (thug Act) followed by the thug with the pistol who has probably exited the driver’s door (you cannot see this in the video). 

From the moment that Garrett recognizes the threat until the thug begins to walk toward him is approximately 2.08 seconds. Caroline begins screaming (Act) an instant later as the thugs continue to come toward them at what amounts to a quick walk. Garrett backs into Caroline and essentially takes her to the ground. As the thugs approach, Garrett leans over Caroline to protect her, as ineffectual as that might have been. The entire incident takes approximately one minute as the thugs have grabbed Caroline’s phone, returned to the stolen car, and begin to back out of the parking space.

At the instant when Garrett reacts to the sound of the shotgun round being chambered, he is approximately nine feet in a straight line from the thug and 4 feet to the thug’s left (see pic #1). Recognition-Reaction. A well-trained defender in Garrett’s place had approximately 2.08 seconds to recognize and react to the imminent threat of unlawful deadly force before the thug starts to advance.

Steve and I replicated the distances and scenario to determine if the hypothetical well-trained defender could have recognized the threat and then reacted with an effective tactic inside the thug’s Observe, Orient, Decide, Act cycle. We recorded each run with a video at 60 frames per second and the observer started a timer to record the time necessary for an observer to detect the shooter’s motion.

For my first run (and this was my first shot fired of the day), I was dressed exactly as I normally dress when going for a walk with my pistol fully concealed under a loose athletic shirt. When I moved off the “X” and began my draw (I started at the Act point in my OODA), Steve started the timer (Observe) approximately 0.25 seconds later. At that instant, I was beginning my draw and finished the draw with the first shot hitting thug 1 (T1) 1.28 seconds after I began. I fired a total of five shots in 0.98 seconds with two good hits on T1 and three hits on T2.

Steve then completed his first run (his first shot fired of the day) drawing from open carry without his hand on his pistol. Steve drew and fired his first shot on thug 1 (T1) in 1.46 seconds; I reacted and started the timer (Observe) approximately 0.33 seconds. He fired a total of six shots in 1.04 seconds with three good hits on T1 and two hits on T2. My next run was with a concealment vest. I drew and fired my first shot on thug 1 (T1) in 1.18 seconds; Steve reacted and started the timer (Observe) approximately 0.24 seconds. I fired a total of five shots in 0.94 seconds with two good hits on T1 and three hits on T2.

Steve then completed his second run drawing from a concealment vest. Steve drew and fired his first shot on thug 1 (T1) in 1.10 seconds; I reacted and started the timer (Observe) approximately 0.43 seconds. He fired a total of six shots in 1.04 seconds with three good hits on T1 and three hits on T2. I started my third run with open carry, hand on the pistol. I drew and fired my first shot on thug 1 (T1) in 0.72 seconds; Steve reacted and started the timer (Observe) approximately 0.33 seconds. I fired a total of five shots in 1.03 seconds with two good hits on T1 and three hits on T2. (I consistently moved past T1 before I could fire a third shot. This was not a problem on T2)

Steve then completed his third run drawing from open carry, hand on the pistol. Steve drew and fired his first shot on thug 1 (T1) in 0.71 seconds; I reacted and started the timer (Observe) approximately 0.24 seconds. Steve fired a total of six shots in 1.09 seconds with three good hits on T1 and three hits on T2. For all three runs, my average split times between shots was 0.20 seconds and Steve’s splits were 0.18. You can see the results of our runs in picture #2 below.

So what does this tell us? Our limited experiment demonstrated that the shooting problem was not that challenging for a well-trained defender. The results of our runs showed that we were able to act and place hits on T1 and T2 likely well before thug 1 would have been able to restart his OODA cycle and react to our defensive engagement. Thug 1’s position would likely have blocked thug 2’s ability to see our initial movement so by the time thug 2 caught on to what was happening, he likely would have been receiving the impacts of our defensive rounds.

This incident unfolded so quickly that I think the greater challenge for most would have been cycling through the OODA loop fast enough.

I suspect that the Schartons were fortunate. Although the incident was clearly traumatic for them, I cannot help but wonder what might have happened if the thugs had been older, perhaps more experienced and had decided that Caroline was the perfect companion for some additional fun at another location.

Garrett Scharton later said about the video of the robbery that “When I listened to what I was saying and how I was saying it, I never heard me be that afraid before.” 

You must plan in advance with your spouse or other companions what to do in similar circumstances. Training with decision-based scenarios will help us to overcome that initial fear reaction and hesitation to act. Go through “what-if” scenarios that account for your companion being armed or unarmed as your circumstances dictate. In this incident, the thugs parked the car. Consider possible angles of defensive movement and the thug’s reactions including how the thug could use the car as a weapon. If a car stops behind us do the following, if the car stops beside us, in front of us, etc.

The Schartons conducted several post-incident interviews at the links below that are worth watching. 

Update:  I recently spoke to Garrett Scharton concerning the incident and aftermath.  Although the Schartons were the victims of a violent robbery, they did not then allow the "system" to victimize them further through failing to hold the criminals accountable.  The Schartons continued to press for justice until the State of Texas finally sentenced the thug with the shotgun to 25 years and the thug with the pistol accepted a 18 year sentence.

If you enjoy reading these please subscribe. The link is on the upper right side of the page. All that will happen is that you will receive an e-mail when I post an article. Your information will never be distributed.

Interview #1

Interview #2

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Practice 2018 - The Original IDPA Classifier

The original IDPA Classifier consisted of three stages for 90 rounds total and incorporated some of the classic drills like the Mozambique and the El Presidente. The 90-round classifier tests many skills that a shooter should be able to demonstrate from short range, 5-yard rapid shots, out to 20-yard longer shots. The team that put the 90-round classifier courses of fire together captured the 10 major tasks you must perform in the course of shooting a match and that you might find yourself using in a self-defense encounter on the street.

These are:

In Stage One: 

    -- Safely draw the pistol

    -- Extend to fire

    -- Transition between targets

    -- Turning then drawing the pistol

    -- Reloading the pistol

    -- Executing precise shots

    -- Shooting the pistol unsupported with either hand

Stage Two adds the following to the Stage One tasks:

    -- Moving while shooting

Stage Three adds:

    -- Shooting from cover

    -- Moving from one shooting position to another

In this practice session, a friend of mine and I did some experimentation on reaction time and then shot the 90-round IDPA Classifier. I used my SIG P320 Carry (an IDPA CCP division pistol with RMR) in a Blade-Tech - Total Eclipse Holster. The Total Eclipse and similar holsters keep the pistol snug to the body which reduces printing under a concealment garment.

The temperature on the range this fine Texas day was 102 degrees with high humidity. Even so, my times and points on Stage #1 and #2 were decent. On Stage #3, I slowed down a bit and dropped 12 points—reflective of my lack of practice at these distances. Overall, I was satisfied with the 89.76 total score which is Master for every IDPA Division except ESP (there were 11 shots on Stage 2, T2 so a pasty must have fallen off).

The original IDPA Classifier is a very good test of your shooting skills and is far more difficult than the shooting problem that average self-defense distances present. If you can shoot high Sharpshooter or better on demand, you can likely solve most problems you might encounter on the street. 

For the original 90-round IDPA classifier course of fire, click here.

If you enjoy reading these please subscribe. The link is on the upper right side of the page. All that will happen is that you will receive an e-mail when I post an article. Your information will never be distributed.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Thugs Buggin' – The Last Word

Nicole DuFresne
The Texas License to Carry classroom portion requires a discussion of effective communication.  I've used the incident surrounding Nicole DuFresne's murder for a number of years as an example of how not to communicate.  This article looks at the incident from the perspective of both groups that were involved.

In the early morning hours of January 27, 2005, a group of friends that included Nicole DuFresne, Jeffrey Sparks, Mary Jane Gibson, Scott Nath sometime were returning home from a night of celebratory drinking. As they were walking down a Lower East Side of Manhattan street a group of five young men and two girls approached them. The group that included Rudy Fleming had already mugged a man for his leather jacket and menaced a girl at a subway station that same night.

Fleming demanded money of Nicole’s group. Sparks pushed his way past, at which point Fleming struck him across his left temple with a Taurus .357 magnum that he had been pointing at the ground. Sparks later said that neither he nor anyone else in the group had realized that Fleming was armed. Another robber with Fleming reportedly said, "It doesn't have to be like this. My friend's buggin'. We just want the money."

Fleming took Gibson's purse and cell phone and gave them to the girls with him. Nicole DuFresne turned to Sparks who was dazed and bleeding profusely from his left eye, asking if he was OK. He indicated that he was and said "Let's just go." At that point, Nath took Sparks by the arm and they ran down the street. Gibson turned to follow.

Witnesses said that DuFresne challenged Fleming, when she walked up to Fleming and looked him in the eye while demanding “Why are you still here, you got what you wanted? What are you going to do, you going to shoot us? Is that what you wanted?” Fleming reacted by pushing DuFresne in the chest with his left hand. A witness said that DuFresne stumbled backward, then bounced back and shouted her question again: “What are you going to do, shoot us?” A witness said that Fleming pushed DuFresne a second time, and when she came at him once again, he lifted his right arm and fired one shot, the bullet striking her in the chest and exiting through her back.

Sparks and Nath ran back to DuFresne finding her on her back in the street. She died a few minutes later in Sparks's arms, as Gibson and Nath knelt beside them.

According to the testimony of fellow mugger Ashley Evans at Fleming’s trial, the muggers chose DuFresne’s group because they looked like they were enjoying themselves. According to Evans, “They were extremely happy, so that made me even angrier.” Evans said that she tried to hit one of them, but that the group turned away. Fleming then followed and yelled at them to stop, hitting Sparks in the face with his pistol as he tried to push past.

Let’s look at what we can learn from this incident from the perspective of Peyton Quinn's 'Five Rules' concerning how to avoid violence with Marc MacYoung’s addition of a 6th rule.*

Peyton’s Five Rules:

1) Do not insult him

2) Do not challenge him

3) Do not threaten him

4) Do not deny it's happening

5) Give him a face-saving exit.

Marc’s additional rule:

6) Do not command

At the outset of this incident, Jeffrey Sparks was clearly denying that Fleming and his group were committing an armed robbery. Him attempting to push past was an act that Fleming likely saw as a challenge and precipitated the first of Fleming’s violent acts when he struck Sparks with the pistol. Sparks’s comment that no one in his group realized Fleming had a revolver leads one to believe that everyone in Sparks’s group was probably denying that the incident was happening. When another robber said, "It doesn't have to be like this. My friend's buggin'. We just want the money," he was likely trying to calm the situation and effectively giving Sparks’s group instructions on how to avoid further violence.

When Nath began to guide Sparks down the street and Gibson turned to follow, the robbery was essentially winding down and likely would have been over except for DuFresne’s actions. DuFresne violated the rest of Peyton’s rules and likely MacYoung’s 6th rule as well.

Tatiana McDonald, one of the muggers who testified at Fleming’s trail outlined street rules that resulted in DuFresne’s murder while other mugging victims that night were not harmed. McDonald describing Fleming’s reaction to DuFresne confronting him said “He was so mad, he just lift up the gun and shot at her. After I saw her grab her chest, I just ran.” When asked how close Fleming was to DuFresne when he shot her, McDonald replied “About two feet away. It was pretty close, because he couldn’t even hold up his hand. He did not have room to stretch out his arm. She was blocking the gun.”

Whether Fleming saw DuFresne walking up to him as a threat is unclear; however, he certainly saw her confrontation as insulting challenge. Her demanding “why are you still here” was essentially a command for him to leave. Once he pushed her away, DuFresne continuing to challenge him did not give him a face-saving exit in front of his peers.

Per MacYoung, a threat display is an insult that a violent person will have to react to because you've just crossed the line from being assertive to being aggressive ... what's more is now you've invaded his space. A violation, against which he is going to have to retaliate.** A final point, some people just have to get in the “last word.” Nicole DuFresne got in the last word “What are you going to do, shoot us?”

Although, it is impossible to tell anyone precisely what to do in a given circumstance when facing unlawful deadly force; Peyton and MacYoung’s rules provide an outline that may save your life.

If you enjoy reading these please subscribe. The link is on the upper right side of the page. All that will happen is that you will receive an e-mail when I post an article. Your information will never be distributed.



Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Social Media and Use of Force

If you are ever involved in a use-of-force incident and are charged criminally, one of the things that you can be certain of is that the prosecutor will ferret out every controversial thing you have ever posted on-line. He will use that information to paint you as a blood-thirsty, Rambo-wanna be who was itching to kill someone for their own visceral pleasure. What you post on social media, what you wear, the public behaviors you exhibit, and potentially what others post can be used against you in a court of law.

Posts on social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Instagram, and blogs or other social media are regularly popping up as evidence in courtrooms across the country. Social media evidence has been a critical element in several recent use of force court cases.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys have learned that searching people’s social networking and combing though some of what they’ve shared with the rest of the world is often a veritable gold mine of information. In several trials, a witness’s credibility was completely lost in a matter of seconds when the witness was presented with something inconsistent they had written in the past.

As an example, in the murder trial of Lance Tiernan the prosecutor used photos and posts from Tiernan’s Facebook to show a jury that Tiernan liked violence. Tiernan had posted pictures on his Facebook of him wearing a T-shirt with brass knuckles and a notation that he liked the movie “Fight Club.”

During the trial Tiernan didn’t deny the page was his so the judge admitted the Facebook posting as evidence. Tiernan’s attorney said that denying ownership would have been a mistake because the jurors would have already known that a Facebook post showed a picture of Tiernan with brass knuckles. According to the defense attorney, the jurors wouldn’t even have to look at the exhibit and if Tiernan denied that it was his Facebook account it would have made his testimony less credible.*

Here is some food for thought. Many self-defense and firearms associated Facebook groups and the discussions in those groups can encourage participants to believe they are among friends and as a result post potentially imprudent comments. Below are just a few examples of quotes that I have seen in Facebook groups discussing various incidents. 

Should have killed both of those cockroaches. 

Needs a bullet between the eyes!

Needs to be shot. 

Put a cap in him. 

So let's say you’ve been freely expressing your opinion concerning shootings and other use of force incidents on Facebook and other social media. You also like expressive t-shirts and you still find the Marvel Comics fictional character “Punisher” fascinating. Now you are involved in a self-defense shooting and perhaps it occurred in one of the more “progressive” jurisdictions--like Travis County, Texas. 

Let’s go a step further and say that the miscreants who attacked you are of a different race, that the surveillance cameras only recorded one view of the incident, and that view does not completely reflect what you were confronting face to face. The progressive population demands that the progressive prosecutor present the incident to a grand jury and you are now charged with a serious crime.

Remember, self-defense is an affirmative defense and can be a 2-edged sword. To present an affirmative defense, you must admit that you did the act; however, you affirm that you were legally justified in doing so. The prosecution obviously disagrees and will be attempting to demonstrate that your action was not legally justifiable and that you in fact committed a crime. If the prosecution is successful, your life has just dramatically changed.

Now, think about this real hard the next time you are typing something online. Would you want a jury hearing that you had previously said any of the statements above? What if there was a racial difference between you and your attacker and your attacker just happened to be of the same race as the individuals whom you called “cockroaches” and said should have been killed in a Facebook post? How do you think the jury is going to view this and your t-shirt picture that says a bullet is faster than dialing 911 or the Punisher decals on your vehicle?

“Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I present "exhibit A" taken from a post the defendant made on social media in 2018. According to the defendant: “all (insert race) are cockroaches and should be killed.” So after the victim approached the defendant in the gas station and said “I am taking your car” but then backed away having had second thoughts about what he was doing. The defendant who, by his own words has been anxious to kill some (insert race) cockroaches, then emptied a clip of DEADLY HOLLOW POINT KILLER BULLETS from his AUTOMATIC ASSAULT PISTOL (liberal lawyers always use incorrect nomenclature like clip and assault pistol). The ‘victim’ here has five children and was merely trying to provide for them the best that he knew how. Was he also a “(insert race) cockroach” that should have been killed?

Given some of the thug behavior you see in today’s society, it may be your opinion that the thug in a video did indeed need to be shot. Regardless, is this really a statement you would like a jury to hear and for your lawyer to try and defend?

Before making a post on a social media site, think about how people might interpret your words. Even if you feel they aren’t negative or damaging, a viewer might disagree. Never post anything online that you wouldn’t want to own up to publicly.

It’s important not to expect your social media posts to stay private. Even so-called private posts made or exchanged on social media can come back to haunt you in court. Plan accordingly when using social media accounts to communicate with others. Consider them a journal that anyone could pick up off your desk or bring to court as proof of your private thoughts and activities. Since even innocuous actions can appear to be inconsistent with certain claims, expect social media to be used in court when it might give the other side an advantage. 

Remember that social media posts can also be a type of evidence that you have a duty to preserve. If you are involved in a self-defense incident and then delete your social media accounts, this could cast doubt on your credibility and imply that you are trying to hide something.

Since social media is such an ingrained part of modern life, expect that it will become an even bigger feature in court cases in years to come. It is a very good practice to keep you social media posts benign and only include things you’d want a potential jury to see. How you dress and present yourself can also have unanticipated consequences. Posing for a picture in from of your cool vehicle that is covered in Punisher decals while wearing a t-shirt that says “a 9mm is faster than 911” may have implications you would rather not have your defense lawyer try to defend at your trial. “Smile, wait for flash” engraved on your pistol muzzle might be clever but . . . you get my point. 

If you enjoy reading these please subscribe. The link is on the upper right side of the page. All that will happen is that you will receive an e-mail when I post an article. Your information will never be distributed.

* Social Media Posts Admissible in Court, Journal News, Denise G. Callahan, Oct 2012

Friday, August 10, 2018

Thugs with Pepper Spray--A Growing Carjacking Tactic?

16 June 2018: Prosecutors have charged Curtis Alford and Jana Stowers with 10 felonies after Alford used pepper spray on two women to steal a pickup truck in downtown St. Louis. Witnesses said that Alford then intentionally struck two people as he sped away, one of whom has died. Police said Alford and Stowers admitted to planning a robbery in order to steal the truck. 

Some research on the incident above and similar incidents shows that using pepper spray is perhaps becoming a favorite technique for would-be carjackers. The tactic typically involves approaching a victim in a parking lot and asking for money or directions to distract the victim as the carjacker gets closer and to then pepper spray the victim, grab the keys (if the victim is not in the car), or to yank the victim out of the car and drive away.

One of my students forwarded me a summary of a recent incident in San Antonio, Tx. That seems to fit this model. A gentleman and his daughter were waiting in a Wal-Mart parking lot at approximately 7:30 pm when a late model white SUV parked in the row across from the gentleman. Even though it was a typical sweltering early evening in San Antonio, the SUV had all the windows opened and at least 3 adult males inside. After about 10 minutes, one of the individuals from the SUV exited the rear door and walk over to the gentleman’s vehicle.

The gentleman waived him off immediately but the SUV occupant started knocking on the driver side window. The gentleman stated that he wasn’t going to open the door; however, the SUV occupant continued knocking and asked the gentleman to “just crack open your window.” Once the SUV occupant realized that the gentleman wasn’t going to open the window, he asked for directions, and then returned to the SUV. The driver of the SUV then quickly exited the parking lot. Once the SUV departed, the gentleman’s daughter in the back seat behind him said “daddy, he was trying to open my door when he was knocking.”

It’s impossible to say what the SUV occupant intended; however, someone legitimately seeking directions is not going to try and open your car door. The gentleman in this instance did the correct thing because he had the doors locked and did not open his window.

This was not the case with a woman who was sitting in her car with the door open on 6 February 2018 in Gainesville, Fl. Naytrellis Enoch came up to the victim, pepper sprayed her in the face, and then grabbed her by the ankles and tried to pull her out of the car. When he could not get her out of the car, Enoch tried to take the keys from the ignition and steal the woman's cellphone, which she was holding—he failed at both attempts and then ran away. Police caught him a short time later.

So how do you prevent these attempts? You are extremely vulnerable sitting in a stationary vehicle with the motor off and windows down. People can approach in the vehicle’s blind spots and be on you before you can react. If you must wait in a car, do so with the car backed into the parking spot, engine running, and windows up. I know this “wastes” gas; however, it is certainly better than choking with a face full of pepper spray while a thug drives away in your car with your kid in the back seat.

Another is simple awareness. Avoid task fixation in public. Don’t allow yourself to become so focused on the task you are performing that you exclude everything else happening around you. Cell phone conversations come to mind; however, head down hunting for your keys in a purse, talking to someone with you, etc. The earlier you notice a potential problem, the more time you have to develop a solution.

A would-be carjacker will approach you under the guise of normalcy, i.e., needing information, some small item, or in a recent case in Georgia asking for money. While the carjacker is talking, he getting in position to attack, evaluating your awareness about what he is doing, and estimating your commitment to defending yourself. Do not let unknown persons approach you without a clearly legitimate reason to do so (e.g. someone passing you in a parking lot who is obviously going to their car).

You should always be careful when an unknown person approaches you and asks for something. This may be a distraction. Your answer should always be "no" and insist that he keep his distance. If an unknown person approaches, ask politely but firmly for them to stop. A phrase such as “Hey sir, please hold right there for a minute” allows them to comply with your request and you have not been rude. If they stop, you can ask them what they want.

If they don’t stop and keep approaching, then you can increase the severity of your request to that of a command and insist that they stop. DON’T COME ANY CLOSER! If they continue to come toward you, then you must act to maintain the distance. Moving laterally, putting barriers between you and the individual, and ideally moving toward other people.

Even bad guys using firearms generally want to be as furtive as possible because they don’t want to get caught. Someone following you around the parking lot pointing a gun at you is going to be much more obvious to any passer-by or police officer cruising the area.

This applies to someone approaching while you are getting into your car. If you are already partially in the vehicle, get in an lock the doors—even if you must leave a bag or other item outside the car. If you are not in the car, don’t stand there and watch him approach, control the distance by moving away from him (see above).

Carjackers frequently work with partners. A vehicle driving up and stopping in front of you is an immediate cause for alarm. This is especially true, if a car stops in front of you and someone jumps out as you are getting into your car. They guy jumping out may intend to carjack you while the other speeds away.

If you are already in your car when someone approaches, stop what you are doing and start the car if it not already running. You might also want to put the car in gear. If it turns out that something is amiss, you can drive out of danger. If the person tells you something is wrong with your car do not get out and look. Thank them, tell them you will look into it, and drive away.

As in the San Antonio incident above, be especially aware of someone who has approached and is grabbing your car door handle. Actions such as knocking at your window are often used as a cover for this. If you see a criminal trying to work your door handle, immediately put your car in gear and drive away. Remember, there is no legitimate reason for a stranger to do this.

If you are with your family or children, you must discuss and rehearse a plan of action before you face the situation. Think through the potential scenarios you might face given your particular circumstances, then plan, and rehearse  accordingly.

Why go to all this trouble? The reason is simple, there are thousands of people around who are likely to be easier and safer targets. When you make it hard for the criminal to victimize you, he is more likely to go find less aware victims elsewhere.

If you enjoy reading these please subscribe. The link is on the upper right side of the page. All that will happen is that you will receive an e-mail when I post an article. Your information will never be distributed.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Practice 2018--The Snub Nosed Revolver

I carry concealed 100% of the time where it is legal for me to carry and I always carry a pistol when I am at home, at least until the house is fully secure for the evening. As a result, I suspect that the firearm I carry most of the time ends up being my S&W 342. It has a titanium frame, is one of the lightest .38 snubs available, and carries very easily in a pocket holster. 

Heavy double action triggers are the primary reason most people believe that short-barreled, small frame revolvers are “inaccurate.” In reality, they are as intrinsically accurate as any other firearm. The short sight radius does come into play; however, you can have a perfect stance, grip, sight alignment/picture, and toss it all out the window if you cannot pull the trigger while simultaneously keeping everything else in place. 

So . . . a trigger job might be in order; however, ensure that the gunsmith you chose is well versed in tuning revolvers. Once you have a decent double action trigger, you must practice with your snubby just like any other pistol. I make it a habit to shoot my S&W 342 at least once a quarter during a practice session. 

During this particular practice, I shot the IDPA 5x5 classifier. I was drawing and reloading from my pocket reflecting the way I normally carry the pistol. It goes without saying, but here it is anyway: Do not try this yourself without proper training. Shooting yourself in the groin will likely hurt a lot, may result in death or serious bodily injury, and result in people pointing at you and laughing. 

The 5x5 is shot on a single target placed 10 yards from the shooter as follows: 

String 1: Draw and fire 5 shots freestyle.

String 2: Draw and fire 5 shots using primary hand only.

String 3: Start with only 5 rounds in your pistol. Draw and fire 5 shots, emergency reload (slide lock) and fire 5 additional shots freestyle.

String 4: Draw and fire 4 shots to the body and one shot to the head freestyle.

My times put me in the Sharpshooter range, principally due to the slower times associated with drawing and reloading from the pocket. Down 2 points is acceptable accuracy; however, my goal for every round fired is to do the Same Thing, the Correct Way, Every Time. In this instance, I failed twice.

If you enjoy reading these please subscribe. The link is on the upper right side of the page. All that will happen is that you will receive an e-mail when I post an article. Your information will never be distributed.