Thursday, December 28, 2006

Eating Yummy Crow for the New Year

Remember how just about every time you see me on SHOOTING GALLERY, I’m blathering about how training has to be fluid, an evolving, changing medium, if it is going to mean anything in the Real World?

Well, it stands to reason that if my blatherings are even remotely connected to the truth, and I do a lot of training every year, I must have a host of preconceived notions biting the dust all the time. Yeah, well, painful though it is to Mr. Know-It-All Gun Guy, that’s true. So just for concise reading, I decided to gather up all the crow I’ve been eating in 2006 and lay it out here for a feast!

TACTICAL RELOADS — Lord knows I’ve hammered these things enough! For those of you who still looking for a parking place, in a tactical reload, the expended magazine still holding live rounds (or the live rounds themselves in the case of a revolver) is retained after the full magazine is inserted. I have argued that the technique, originally designed for “topping up” your gun during a lull in the action or before moving into a more dangerous arena, had been incorrectly taught as a timed event and was inherently clumsier than the more typical “speed” reload — drop mag (or empty rounds), insert new mag or rounds and rock on. I argued persuasively (I thought, anyway) that the tactical reload should be reserved for it’s original mission…during lulls.

Everything I said was and is true…however, my mental musings have been trumped by the Real World. I said I couldn’t imagine a situation in which you would want to risk taking your eyes off the danger and fumbling a reload instead of just dropping the mag. Imagination failure on my part! In a word, Katrina…let’s say you’re standing in four feet of slimy toxic mud mixed with raw sewage and the occasional dead dog…let’s say you need to reload really really badly…let’s say that you are not carrying the 50 1911 magazines you have back in the shop…can you spell tactical reload?

I failed to see that environmental considerations might mandate a less than optimum reloading technique…I say this after two weeks of blizzards and four feet of snow in my yard.

MIKEY’S LESSON LEARNED: The speed reload is still the primary tool, but practice the tactical reload under time pressure (and Powers-That-Be in IDPA, you might give some thought to including Katrina stages!). Secondly, you might give some consideration to your primary carry weapon…if you’ve got little bitty girly-man hands like me, maybe you need to stay with a single stack semiauto, as single stack magazines are much easier to tactically reload than a big fat (and heavy) double stack.

LANYARD RINGS — Okay, so I thought lanyard rings were for old men and WW1 reinactors! Think (as I didn’t) about those environmental considerations. Katrina, for sure…who wants to fish Betsy the Blaster out of a gumbo of sludge. I’ve also heard from some of our people in the Sandbox, who sure as hell wanted their last ditch piece attached to them as opposed to bounced out of the holster somewhere in the desert.

Finally, there’s my oft-told story from custom zillion-dollar pistolsmith Hamilton Bowen, who tells of another skeptic who changed his mind when he launched his $3K+ acme custom revolver into a roaring Alaskan river.

MIKEY’S LESSON LEARNED: The Mounties knew something after all! If it’s a tough day in the wild or taking a stroll through some urban hell, consider tying a string to your gat, then tying the string to you! My Bowen guns now all have lanyards rings…and they look cool, too!

POINT SHOOTING — Okay, confession time…I had the typical target shooter’s contempt for the concept of “point shooting,” that is, indexed rather than indexed sight aiming. I mean, when I was shooting IPSC back in the day, we had 50 yard targets that we actually had to hit! But through people like Mike Janich and Michael Rayburn — not to mention the basic work of Rex Applegate — I’ve come to see shooting as a continuum as opposed a series of specific techniques. Point shooting is every bit as valid as aimed shooting. And yes, “using your sights” is terminology that covers way too much ground…there is a huge difference between the physical requirements for a “flash” sight picture at 10 yards with a 1911 versus a precise 75-yard shot with a .22 target pistol.

The concept of “aimed fire” is a continuum that starts with a “speed rock,” a shot fired with a physical index as soon as the gun breaks the holster, up through various stages of “point” shooting to various types of aiming that use first the front, then the front and rear sights. Think of it this way — you can fire your gun at any time after it clears the holster, up to and including your final front/rear sight indexed stance. WHERE you choose to fire in that draw sequence coupled with the target’s relationship to you, size, distance, etc., dictates HOW you will aim your gun. Point shooting is aiming. A speed rock is aiming — just ask Tom Cruise!

MIKEY’S LESSON LEARNED: More tools in the ole toolbox is better. Set aside a portion of your range time for close-up indexed point shooting…there are books and videos out there to show you how. Accept that in an up close and personal encounter you are probably not going to see your sights. When you sit in the witness chair in the courtroom, I want you to be able to say, “Of course the shots were aimed! I practice physically indexed shooting on a weekly basis!”

THE WEAVER STANCE — God help me, I will never hear the end of this from Walt Rauch, Ed Head and Mike Dalton, so let me just blurt it out…it is easier to control a heavy recoiling handgun using the classic push/pull Weaver stance as taught by Col. Jeff Cooper than using the widely accepted competition-based isosceles stance.

There! The world didn’t end, did it? How did I reach this conclusion? I spent the year shooting a heap of snubbie .45 ACPs, .44 Maggies and Blasto-Smasho “super-magnum” cartridges. I fell back into the Weaver out of sheer self-defense.

The isosceles is faster and more instinctive to get into, and in many ways less dependent on foot position than the Weaver. It is the natural position you end up in as your move through the continuum described above. But if you’ve got to shoot a whoomper-thumper, the Weaver allows you to get off repeat shots faster. Plus, the Weaver (right and left mirror images) works better off barricades in that you expose less of your precious body parts to the bad guy.

MIKEY’S LESSON LEARNED: Absorb what is useful, you moron! If I wanna crank a 9mm at what passes for warp speed at this late date in my life, I’ll go straight to the straight-arm isosceles. Give me a .454 Ruger Alaskan, and it’s the Weaver and a couple of Advil afterwards.

OH, SO THAT’S WHAT THOSE LONG THINGS ARE! — I am a late-coming convert to carbines, hard to say for a dyed-in-the-wool handgun guy. My old pal and first mentor Jimmy Quenemon was the first person I ever heard say, “The function of a pistol is to fight your way to your rifle.” Of course, he thought the function of the rifle was to fight your way to a block of Semtex, but that’s another story.

Basically, I'm now convinced the 5.56 carbine, as exemplified in the AR platform guns or the Mini-14, is a superior self-defense weapon in a lot of situations I'd previously considered "handgun problems." Under the tuteledge of Ed and Giles Stock at GUNSITE, I think I've finally got a grip on how to run a carbine, and it has totally changed my self-defense parameters.

MIKEY'S LESSON LEARNED: Always be willing to try something new!!! Hell, if I was wrong, it could happen to anybody! I'm refitting an old AR as a dedicated car gun, so the next time I raise my personal alert to Defcon 1, a nice bagged AR and five 30-round mags gets hung behind the passenger seat of the Battle Element. One never knows, does one?

Okay, is that enough crow for the year? I think if I could sum it up, it's that technique is a disease. We need to get to the shooting beyond the techniques...essentially, we need a Jeet Kune Do, Bruce lee's bastard martial arts style, for shooting. I think we're getting there...GUNSITE has become an amazing laboratory for the martial shooting, and people like Mike Janich, Walt Rauch, Ralph Mroz, Kelly McCann and others are pushihng the envelope.

I think 2007 is going to be an exciting year in training!

And I'll bet I'll have even more crow to gnaw down on...


Anonymous said...

Excellent post as always.

Anonymous said...

Yes, grasshopper, a new firearms martial art beyond technique.

In homage to Bruce Lee, we will call it Neat Gun Show.

Or maybe Skeet Boom Go?

How about See Shoot Boom?

Whatever the name may I come study at your dojo, sensei?

Anonymous said...

Oh wait....I have it, sensei!

Eat Mo' Crow.........

Anonymous said...

No crow to be eaten, Michael, you have simply stated how you have moved to a new level of awareness.

PS: Writing the above taxed my restraint(grin!)
When can we expect a written article regarding your newfound wisdom?

Not Available said...

Michael, it is good to see you progressing. Knew you had it in you.

Now get back to FTG please and I STILL want to know where to get that target stand!!

Anonymous said...

Like most things in life,there are many ways to shoot....I've always thought you need to find out what works for each individual.We all have different phsyical limitations,and's not a one size fits all world.Yes,start with the basics,but let each "student" descover what works best for them.

Anonymous said...

Here might be some more crow.
White on black is harder to read.
Other color printed words equals a active link.
However it is your site and I am getting what I pay for.

Michael Bane said...


What gun magazine would publish me? My old home of AH has an absolute "NO MB" policy; the Primedia books refer to me as "competition;" GUN WORLD editors break into hot sweats when I even say "hi;" Harry Kane and I go back too far with too many shared secrets for me to work for him, and the other "tactical" magazines remember my ill-fated rifle shooting exhibition...sorry about cloverleafing the X, was an accident...I'm only capable of "tactical" accuracy...

I actually outlined and wrote the intro for my book on guns and shooting — INNER MONKEY: REFLECTIONS ON GUNS, SHOOTING AND A HAPHAZARD LIFE — but Worsham will hunt me down and kill me if I don't finish FTG first.


Anonymous said...

Talk to Denny at SWAT - now that Rich is the owner, SWAT is very good. Al T. via Amback

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