Friday, October 09, 2015

Bullet Points on Self-Defense When You're Disabled

This is far from a comprehensive piece, but I wanted to start pulling together data points on what I've learned over the last few weeks. I'm not claiming any of the stuff is original, but I can claim an "organic" understanding of it now!

1) The diminished/complete loss of situation awareness, which wildly skews the awareness/avoidance equation. When I started walking on crutches, it was a struggle. For a start, it hurt like hell. Pain has a way of focusing the attention...on the pain. Secondly, at least initially there is a major gut-level fear of falling. After all, I was just coming out of the hospital where people had labeled to the tune of many thousands of dollars to put Humpty together again. With the rigid leg brace, which hindered a normal walking motion, my focus tended to be down, on placing the crutch tips securely.

Remember in TRAIL SAFE we talked about  how one of the greatest fallacies people have about their own abilities is the idea they have unlimited awareness, unlimited focus. Need to concentrate on 2 things at once? No problem! Just dial up little more focus! Except focus is fundamentally limited. The analogy we used in TRAIL SAFE is from shooter/trainer John Shaw, with whom I co-worte YOU CAN'T MISS way back when.

His apology is that everyone is issue $1 worth of concentration...100 pennies. There are NO MORE pennies...just that 100. The only choice we actually have is where we place the pennies. There's a Zen saying something to the effect that, "When you walk, just walk; when you sit, just sit. But whatever you do, don't wobble." When we divide up the pennies, we begin to lose focus. That's why there is no suck thing as multitasking"," rather, we are doing several tasks sequentially, and poorly.

On crutches, especially in the beginning, about 99 of my pennies were stacked in a  pile that read, "DON'T FALL DOWN YOU IDIOT!" If a predator had been watching me, the first thought in his head would be, "Prey."

2) There's a limit to the number of things hands can handle. Typically, I have 2 guns — a pocket pistol that goes into my right pocket the moment a wake up, then is transferred to the left picket when I put on my "real" gun. For a long time I've been singing either a Sneaky Pete magnetic latch holster or a SafePacker when on the road. At home I use an OWB...if I'm just going to be around the property, I'll use a Blade-Tech paddle or on the bigger revolvers one of the leather Ted Blocker strong-sides.

The crutches add a second level of things I need my hands to do — maintain control of the crutches. Secondly, the crutches themselves add a level of complexity in accessing the self-defense tools. I'd say pocket pistols are out the window, at least for me. Remember those pennies? Suddenly I have 40 pennies on the crutch, 50 pennies fumbling around in my pocket and 10 pennies left to scan for saber-toothed tigers.

In addition, both OWBs and IWBs kept banging against the crutches. I felt that the handle of the crutch also presented an obstacle to a clean draw stroke — once again, I was spreading my pennies across the table. Not so much appendix or cross-draw. However (and, once again, this whole experience has been filled with surprises, like the Cracker Jack box from Hell), because I'm wearing a large leg brace that now requires maintenance on an hourly basis (lock it rigid for leg lifts; unlock it for quad tightening drills) I am defaulting to shorts (and it's getting colder) or yoga/sweat pants, neither of which have a belt.

My initial response has been to go to the much maligned shoulder holster. I have several shoulder holsters made for me by Survival Sheath Systems and, for heavier revolvers, Ted Blocker.

I'll take you through those systems in the next installment...


      

15 comments:

Robert Davis said...

Why not get a small sneaky pete modified with straps on the side and put it into the frame of the crutch under the handle, with the straps around the frame. Or you could get someone to custom you up something to fit in that space, you know people. It's off body, so you have to be careful where you set your crutches. It would put a LCP or something really small right under your hand though. There might even be a small market for such a thang.

Alien said...

I adopted the shoulder holster quite a few years back - between spending working hours climbing in and out of the car it was much easier than a hip holster, plus Galco makes an off-side 2X mag carrier with a slot for a flashlight. The backup was still a "lump on the opposite hip" but it was a small lump.

I've often wished for a simple X-shaped chest rig for small- to medium-size guns. A friend works in the railroad industry which requires an easily accessible radio plus the ability to frequently climb over and on cars, couplings and other stuff and still have one's hands free. They carry the radio in a chest rig, and "shrug" into it just like a 2-sided shoulder holster or "skeleton vest". Made lighter and a bit more compact, it might be a good way to carry a small, flat semi-auto, sort of a Flashbang holster for men.

Anonymous said...

With a background of Paramedic & Emergency Nurse, and in care of disabled family members, I would NOT choose a holster or Sneaky Pete mounted on the crutches. This is OFF-Body carry upon objects that frequently fall, and from which you are separated when sitting or in vehicles, restaurants, theaters, etc. You cannot control the weapon, or have a consistent draw; well-intentioned "helpers" will separate you from them, and be surprised that one crutch is so heavy. God forbid, the crutch may fall and the weapon falls out surprising everyone, ruining the finish, and worst ---discharging.

Yes. If using crutches, walkers, or wheelchairs, you are a potential victim, but you often may have a companion (remember-- there's safety in numbers). If you are on strong pain medicines, you would have to be able to explain WHY you were NOT IMPAIRED; the presumption raised will be that you were.

If you are ready to carry, carry on your person. Some shoulder holsters, chest rig, belly-band, Flashbang holster, or AIWB. may work for you. You may need a separate belt underneath your clothes for stability, if you are using elasticated sweat-pants & sweat-shirt combination. Loose clothes such as these are common and expected, and if sufficiently loose are very concealing yet accessible.

Never be separated from your firearm & less-lethal options. Maintain control. Have them when you need them, instead of "hey, get my crutches!" Promote safety for yourself and others.

This is important and legitimate advice from one with the background to know. Your weapon should be on you, and not in a glove compartment built onto your crutch. {The perpetrator will try to separate you from your crutches or other mobility aids.}

Anonymous said...

You might want to try a belly band. It is versitil and can be positioned exactly where it would benefit you the most. From someone who has been on crutches in the past and has had the need to wear a full length leg brace for the last 49 years belly bands have their niche.

Dwight Pries said...

With a shoulder holster I'd worry about clearance between the crutches and the firearm and/or magazines as they moved back and forth while you were walking. Seems like the butt in a horizontal rig would be begging to hook itself as the crutch swung past it. A vertical rig might let things glide with less chance to "hitching a ride" but then you already have the pad of the crutch jammed into your armpit and now it impedes your draw clearance unless you toss the crutch first.

I was originally thinking of a crutch mounted system like Robert Davis mentioned above. Certainly gets points for access speed. Rip open a Velcro flap and your hand is on your firearm. Heck, if it sits proud of the crutch a little and is in a secure enough rig you could conceivably fire it while it was still in its holster. As a scenario, if you had to, you could jab at them with the crutch and if that didn't deter them use the tip of the crutch as a point-blank method of aiming. The draw back is that your crutches are often the fist thing targeted in and attack on a person who uses them. Kick the crutch away. Make the target fall. Profit.

Alien's idea also has merit. The small radio chest rigs would offer space for one of the smaller double stack Glocks without issue. The crutches would provide a good excuse for using a rig like that in public. That said, all the rigs I've seen are external. Depending on how you layer, you may be stuck putting on and taking off the thing every time you go out. For kicking around the back 40 a classic guide chest rig would be just as easy and hold a larger firearm. A concealable men's "flash bang" is an interesting concept and would be something worth examining. However, with winter coming to your door in a couple days accessibility becomes questionable.

Another idea to try might be one of the bandoleer/slash style sling packs. Something small and unassuming that rides over your shoulder and around your side below the close contact path of the crutch. Slip a pocket holster into one of the compartments to keep things secure and camouflage the pistol's outline so it doesn't print. Still not perfect but they're quick to put on and take off without needing buckles and they offer some degree of retention. A quick Amazon search came up with this... CrossPaq (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00LFC9VCK/ref=cm_sw_r_awd_TEjgwbZ29J9QV) yes, you look like a crossing guard. I'm sure there are better designs. Maxpedition probably has something.

Looks like you got a lot of experimenting to do. Time to start a new box-o-holsters.

Anonymous said...

Addendum from the Paramedic and Emergency Nurse. Think carefully about your reload options. The best is probably a second handgun (New York Reload). An extended firefight, especially in a public location, is unlikely. ANY determined resistance from one thought to be helpless prey, is likely to end immediately … BUT, it will be hard for you to retreat to cover. You will also want to cover/defend your companion who is calling for help or seeking physical assistance for the two of you. You may need to lend a firearm to your companion in these circumstances also. Spare magazines or speedloaders are much easier to handle from an awkward or exposed position than loose rounds. If your assailants are escaping, your visible reload where they left you may keep them going away.

Do not fire after a fleeing perpetrator. It's not safe. It's not legal (in all but very rare and circumscribed situations). It weakens your claim of self-defense, and opens you to great liability and legal peril.

Anonymous said...

Just wait till it gets cold enough for snow and ice! Crutches and ice...evil!!

Been there, done that.

Michael Bane said...

I opted away from any crutch mounted device for some of the reasons stated here. I'm generally a fan of off-body within the constraints I outlined years ago. However, the crutch is a LONG lever, and I don't want to find myself playing tug-a-war with a gun in the middle.

I'll talk more about shoulder holsters in the next post. Right now,I'm wearing a Ken Null SMZ, easily the most comfortable, most concealable and a the same time the most annoying holster ever made. The release is like watching a Quentin Tarantino on drugs, lots of strange things happening for no apparent reason…I haven't mastered the release, but ai can do it on command now…

mb

JohninMd.(HELP?!??) said...

The one thing nobody's mentioned yet, so here goes...... Fanny pack, in the front. Only time it gets in the way is driving a vehicle, which your not doing in a leg brace anyway, but it works every where else, and the crutches themselves are the excuse for the "fashion faux pas.". Gun stays on body. Win-win.

JohninMd.(HELP?!??) said...

Also wondering, are you going to do extra podcasts? Just watched wed., (its sat.) And would like moar, please.....

JohninMd.(HELP?!??) said...

Meant listened to....(sheech)

Michael Bane said...

You know, I once wrote a really controversial article for one of the big gun mags on the efficacy of fanny packs. I have a bunch, including one with a Grateful Dead sticker, that I will be using ( and talking about). Am actually finding shoulder holsters fascinating...they are very use-specific beasties.

More tomorrow...

m "pain killer??? any time now would be okey-dokey..." b

Vince Warde said...

Hey Michael, I am going to try to respond to your request for input from disabled folks. My disability is mostly invisible. I have a screwed up back (from my days in EMS) - its' primary method of challenging me is severe and chronic pain. Sometimes I have to use two canes to take some of the load off my back and lessen the pain. We actually met at the Parma Rimfire Challenge on such a day - I did not let that stop me from finishing the match! Running anytime is not an option. Twisting is impossible. Rapid movement is difficult. All of this limits my empty hand skills. I would love to train, but right now just my normal exercise program is a challenge.

Firearms are a lot easier, but it's the situations that do not require lethal force that a really need to address. I carry a Kimber Pepper Blaster at all times - but it would be nice to figure out some empty hand skills that would not require twisting or loading my back.

Thanks for talking a shot at helping!

Richard said...

Not sure why your problem precludes a standard IWB carry. My experiences with crutches would indicate that you can just drop one and draw. You can pick it up while waiting for the po-po. If it is the strong side leg that is screwed up that is a problem but not insurmountable. And the above commentator was definitely right about crutches and ice. You do not want to do SOB carry.

Gunner Jacky said...

Thanks for the post. Guns are supposed to be used only for safety of oneself and others. They must be used only when the existence of someone is endangered. Killing others with gun is not the use of that gun that you are provided by the government. People who are felling unsafe and need a gun for their safety may join a Firearms safety training classes and get the licensed gun for their safety.