Archive for January, 2013

Some faults in my training and how I realized them

January 25, 2013

The other day I was at a range and saw a young fellow practice his “shoot a bad guy” scenario. What I saw, was something I was guilty of myself, but just did not realize until I observed someone else do it:

– he did not draw his gun. It was already in his hand. This is very unlikely to happen when you carry a firearm on yourself (on a street, place of business, etc). So practicing a draw from your everyday holster while wearing your everyday clothing is important.

In my case likelihood of carrying a firearm is low. I am more likely to use it, in a house self-defense scenario. Still, I realized that I need to practice drawing more. Question that I need to answer is what is the percentage of training time I need to allocate to a non-likely scenario given a limited time I have for training.

– he walked toward the bad guy while shooting. In a self defense scenario (as oppose to a law enforcement or military action), the goal is self preservation (as oppose to bad guy apprehension or disabling enemy). One should walk back, while shooting and seeking cover and escape route. This could have legal ramifications as well. Who is the attacker? One that approaches his target or one that walks/runs away from it? Interestingly, the training classes I took, made the same assumption, where we would approach the target, vs retreating. Then again, the course was taught by SWAT and NARC officers, who typically attack the bad guy.

I tend to be stationary when I practice shooting (standing, kneeling, both hands, right hand, left hand) as I expect to do while in a self defense scenario in a house. However, I realized that I need to practice retreating as well. Question I need to answer is how one combines clearing the house with seeking cover and retreating? Can these be combined at all?

– another fault is shooting at a single, stationary target. This is a major flaw in training. Bad guys can attack as a group. A podcast on martial arts training discussing hand to hand combat helped me realize this very obvious point. Next time I’ll be at a range, I’ll make sure to have 2 or 3 targets I’ll be treating as hostiles. There would be very few times I shoot at a single target going forward (both handgun and long gun). I realize that setting up multiple targets might not be an option at many ranges, but it is important to at least keep it in mind. Incorporating multiple targets in dry fire training, might be the next best thing in such a case.
Having a non stationary target would be great, but very difficult at most ranges. Very few can have a mechanized or motorized moving target. One idea (borrowed from a book on special ops training in WW2) is to to attach targets to ballons or shoot at balloons directly. Wind should create some movement. This should be possible at least at some ranges.

– Another thing I thought about, is that self training is typically done in a relaxed atmosphere. Instructor is not yelling at you, there is plenty of light, and things are fairly quite. What’s missing is noise / stress / low light that will be present during a likely real self-defense action. Here are just some ideas to simulate noise/stress/ low light:
– do some jumping jacks to increase heart rate
– wear very dark sunglasses to simulate low light
– listen to some cacophony music / shouting recording through headphones under your ear muffs (make sure ear muffs are tight to protect your hearing)

Now, safety should be a primary concern under simulated stress. So dry fire only.

These things are extremely basic. However, as I observed more people at a range, I realized that a lot of them make the same mistakes. Inadequate basic training and insufficient self-analysis must be the culprits.

Another point of consideration for choosing home defense caliber

January 25, 2013
Note – if you ever fired a firearm in combat or self defense, this will very likely be of no interest to you. If you only shot in a controlled / supervised environment such as a shooting range, the following might be useful for you.
Stopping power vs. largest caliber you can shoot with precision is a common topic for discussions on home defense. However, one angle that I do not see discussed much if at all is the impact of discharging a projectile on your senses such as vision and hearing. Overwhelming chances are that you will not be wearing a hearing protection while firing in self defense. It is also likely, that there will be sub-par lighting conditions where you are relying on a flashlight or outside lights to navigate your surroundings and identify friend vs foe. In these conditions loud bangs and bright flashes of shots being fired will affect your hearing and vision. You will get immediate physical damage to your ears resulting in intense ringing in your ears and hearing degradation that will last for hours or even days. Depending on the lighting conditions you might also suffer temporary blindness and have circles flash in front of your eyes. This will make you at least partially disoriented. Obvious implications are adjustments that you need to make for preparing your defense plan including the aftermath and providing a statement to the law enforcement authorities. Note that rush of adrenaline and physical effects associated with it add additional complexity that is not discussed here.
This is all just some words that you just read on your screen. How about facts? While I can not speak for others, here is my  experience with shooting without hearing protection. Note that I advise against what I am about to describe and urge you to always wear ear and eye protection when shooting firearms.
I wanted to experience effect on hearing by shooting a handgun without wearing a hearing protection. Shooting 5 rounds of .38 +P outside during daylight resulted in immediate partial hearing loss and intense ringing in my ears. While I was expecting the effect,  I was a little surprised by the slight physical pain, which resulted in a slight pause before the next planned shot. The ringing remained strong  for the next 8 hours, with some ringing remaining for the next 24 hrs. I also experienced a loss in ability to hear certain frequencies up to 24 hrs and some ear discomfort for 48 hrs.  Anecdotal evidence found on the web suggested, that had I fired a larger caliber, I could have suffered a permanent hearing damage.
If I extrapolate this on firing a .357 inside of the house during night time, I can be fairly certain that acquiring target for the second shot could be delayed. Subsequent two way verbal communication with family members, threat, or law enforcement will be difficult. 12ga is likely to have even greater effect. So, while I can comfortable handle 12ga and shoot it with a decent precision, the load bang and flash will be a negative when deciding if this should be my go to firearm of choice in a home defense scenario.
So, what are the conclusions?
#1) additional reason and reconfirmation that the first shot placement is very important
#2) when choosing a go to firearm, consider the bang and the flash it’ll make – it could be a negative if your ability to defend yourself is affected
#3) keep in mind that there will be some hearing / vision loss – this will minimize the surprise when it happens

EDC or Everyday Carry

January 25, 2013

EDC or Everyday Carry keeps on gaining more publicity. There are blogs that show many real life EDC kits (for example ), there are books discussing EDC items and concepts in detail (for example ), in fact there is so much interest in the topic that a simple ‘bing’ search for ‘every day carry’ produced 194,000,000 results. With so much attention to the subject, I want to share my own thoughts on the topic and take the number of ‘bing’ search results to 194,000,001.


From what I see, folks tend to prepare better for less likely, but high impact scenarios. However, being ready for common everyday situation is not being discussed much and potentially not being done.


To fill the void, here is what I carry on myself every day and how often I get to use it:

  • wallet contents
    • NRA member card – don’t use it, but I am proud of carrying one
    • Blood donor card – use it about 3 times a year when donating blood. It also has my blood type on it, which might come in handy in case of a serious emergency.
    • drivers license, auto registration card, and insurance card. I am required by my state to have those on me when driving. I also use drivers license at least once a month for identification purposes at airports, hotels, etc.
    • credit cards – use them few times a week
    • medical insurance card – use it few times a year when visiting medical offices
    • EDC kit:
      • 40 in cash. Not all places/people take credit cards and cash comes in handy few times a month
      • 1 in blade knife. Tiny folder from Gerber. I used it to sharpen a pencils for my kids the other day. Wish I had it when I needed to cleanly cut a banana to evenly split it between my kids when each REALLY wanted PRECISELY an even half.
      • swiss tool with Phillips screwdriver, blade, bottle opener. I use it couple times a month to open coke bottles, beer bottles, change batteries in toys.
      • small alcohol wipe in sealed packet and 2 small adhesive bandages. I use it every 1-2 months to treat cuts and scrapes that kids (and occasionally adults) acquire.
      • aspirin pills. I have family history of heart attacks and had one myself, when I was rather young. These pills might come in handy one day.
      • ibuprofen pills. work well for treating headaches, muscle pains, etc. I get to use these every 1-2 months.
      • tiny sewing kit with few strands and a needle. Did not need to use it yet, but can come in handy if a button on my shirt comes off before an important meeting
      • tiny pen
      • two blank credit cards to write on
      • laminated list of most important phone numbers (this came in handy when I left my phone at home and another time when the battery died and I had no access to any type of a charger)
  • Phone with useful applications (also contains less useful, but fun apps 🙂
    • flashlight app
    • first aid app with quick access to step by step emergency response instructions. It also has detailed tutorials to get ready ahead of time.
    • alarm clock
    • kindle app to read books on EDC 🙂
  • watch to know what time it is. I dislike using my phone to check time, since it might not be appropriate during certain meetings, situations, etc. I am also not going to use my phone to check time when fixing a lawnmower, in the water, etc. Watch battery (if it has one) will last much longer than my phones. How many times did your phone die on you because of a discharged battery?
    • formal watch for work in office environment or ‘a night on the town’. I do prefer and currently wear a solar watch with stainless steel case, sapphire glass, and leather band. However, for many years I wore various inexpensive formal looking watches with cases made out of mystery material, plastic glass, whatever band. Those were not as stylish, did not last as long, some even lost a few seconds a day, but overall worked just as well.
    • sports type watch that can take a beating
    • Side note: What I am seeing is that for most of us the mechanism inside the watch and even materials used are not as important as the watch design and build quality. For close to 10 years I wore a $10 Bijoux Terner I bought on a cruise ship. I was in the water with it, banged it against hard surfaces, and even let toddlers play with it. Seems that ALL modern watch mechanisms are all ‘good enough’ to keep ‘accurate enough’ time. What worked well in this particular watch is that it was designed to protect the plastic window with raised rubber ‘bumpers’ . While the bracelet got scratched, lettering on the case faded, etc. the cheap mechanism inside and the plastic window stayed intact, keeping the watch usable.

Depending on the situation (time of day or night, means of transportation, destination, surroundings, laws, who is accompanying me, etc) my carry kit might be augmented. However, out of my augmented kit, I only had to use a AA 4Sevens flashlight on a few occasions. Never did I have to use my 3″ knife, my expanded medical kit, or anything else that I might add. Let me reiterate, I am not advocating not carrying those additional items. However, I do strongly recommend to ensure that you compare my list to what you carry and how often you use it. A small adhesive bandage likely to be more handy than your Glock 17, when your kid cuts his forehead on a play ground.


Severe trauma kits

January 25, 2013

After viewing video by Garrett Machine from Paladin Press(very well spent $25), I decided to assemble severe trauma kits for home, range, and family vehicles. Below is what is in each of my kits. I encourage you to watch the mentioned video to learn how to use it as well as this YouTube video on use of tourniquets:

Price was important to me. I needed to assemble 4 kits within a budget of $100 and looked for products that would offer an excellent balance of price and performance. Having 4 kits in different places and always close by with B rated products is better that having one kit with A+ rated in only one location that could be too far. In my opinion I did not compromise on the safety.

TK4 tourniquet. It is very small and easy to apply. TK4 performed very well in Coast Guard tests in 2007. It is compatible to popular and much more expensive C.A.T. IMHO it is easier to apply and more convenient due to size than C.A.T. Anecdotal evidence suggests that TK4 might not be as good when applied to upper leg than C.A.T., but I did not find any strong studies to prove that. Buying 4 C.A.T. tourniquets also did not fit into my budget (I found TK4 on ebay at about $2 apiece shipped vs at least $25 for C.A.T.). Not having any latex allergies in my family sealed the deal (TK4 has latex).

Petrolatum patch with duct tape on 3 sides. I chose it over asherman type valve patch due to price and the fact that everywhere I looked suggested that it performs just as well. One downside is that it can be marginally slower and more cumbersome to apply. However getting asherman valve patch would put me over the budget in no time.

Bloodclot Sport – 25g. There is only one alternative product that I was able to find and it is more expensive. 25g packet is not big, but 50g was simply too expensive for my budget.

Israeli bandage. I purchased ones that had “expired” and saved a bundle. I do not believe that a double vacuum sealed bandage can expire within a few years. I do not think it is treated with any type of a chemical and so there is no danger of it degrading. The expiration date might be related so specific regulations applied to all medical supplies issued to military staff.

2 in wide self sticking ace bandage. Nothing special here. Just a good brand that was on sale. Happened to be Johnson and Johnson this time.

Permanent marker. I happened to buy Metallic Sharpie, because I used them before and I like them. Any good permanent marker will do. I wrapped a some duct tape around the marker’s barrel to add strength if used in an improvised tourniquet and to have some duct tape on hand if needed.

Pair of gloves (I already had a full box in the house). Not sure I would bother with them in an emergency, unless my hands are covered in dirt or I am treating someone I do not know. If attending myself or a family member, my first priority will be a quick treatment.

5 in overall length medical shears. Whatever was cheap and had over 50 good reviews on Amazon. They are cheap and won’t last, but I only need them to work once. Bigger shears might have been better, but would not fit in my kit case. 5 in long should be sufficient. While G. Machine suggests using a scalpel or a pocket knife to remove clothing, I do not trust myself to have steady hands under stress and not add severe cuts to the existing wounds. As a side note I do recommend carrying a pocket knife whenever legal and feasible.

Kit case. I used poly based zipped pouches. They are clear and let one easily see the kit contents in case one forgets what’s in it under duress. They are splash proof. They were free too, since they originally came full of kid socks from Walmart. One downside is that if left in a hot space or under a direct sun, they can soften up and even melt.