Tag Archives: Self defense

Should a flashlight be part of your daily carry?

Aaron Little makes some compelling arguments in favor of making a flashlight part of your daily carry in this video- check it out:

Quite a bit of trouble can be avoided if you can:

  • Avoid going places victims go
  • Avoid doing things victims do
  • Avoid acting like victims act
The flashlight is a handy accoutrement for avoiding these behaviors – and a quality, high-lumen flashlight can do wonders to incapacitate a bad guy long enough for you to escape a situation. You should seriously consider one for daily carry if your lifestyle is conducive to doing so. So many options exist today that you should be able to find something that is conveniently sized and powerful at the same time. 
 
Sometimes situational awareness doesn’t equate to identifying a threat. By not acting like a victim you can often disqualify yourself from becoming a target for a crime. And it doesn’t matter if you have a flashlight or not in that case.
 
Have a safe weekend. 

Close Quarters Engagement : a few things to keep in mind in your home

There are a few fundamental concepts everyone should understand about engaging a threat in their home. Your strategy for handling the situation will differ depending on if you live alone or with loved ones. Let’s start with the basics of handling a doorway.

The infamous Fatal Funnel is the grey area depicted above. Any bad guys who are expecting you are going to focus their attacks on the doorway since that is the way you are most likely to enter. Therefore not respecting the funnel is an easy way to get shot or otherwise injured. Note that the funnel runs in both directions from the doorway. Managing the Fatal Funnel is actually pretty simple: 

  • avoid this area around any doorway
  • if you must move through it do so as quickly as you can

The blue lines show the progression of movement you can use to look for threats in a room while minimizing your exposure. You should step laterally to follow the path and could start from the left side and move right if you came up to the doorway from the left. This technique is called Slicing the Pie. 

  • be sure to move fast as you cross the Funnel
  • visually scan from floor to ceiling as you clear each slice – but don’t linger in the Funnel
  • note that you need to leave space between you and the doorway (at least an arm’s length) when you’re at the start/finish positions- it’s dangerous to crowd the doorway but many people want to do this
  • don’t hug or lean on the walls- that’s another common beginner mistake. Staying quiet is critical and stepping out gives you a better field of vision 
All this is great if you live alone. But what about a situation where a loved one is in the house? When this happens you have a new priority- getting to your spouse/child. Spend 2:50 on this video and get some advice from Asymmetric Solutions on how to navigate a hallway and a few points on managing a defensive situation if your children are home:
Got all that? If you are defending loved ones the key concepts are:
  • get to them as quickly as possible
  • cover the point of egress from the deep corner
  • call the police. It’s ideal if someone else can handle the call while you worry about your firearm and that point of egress
 
 

Pistol Retention in Close Quarters

Listening to Grady Powell break down some of the finer points of close quarters pistol technique is an excellent follow up to the kR-15 brief intro to the topic. He does a super job of showing what will help you win in close quarters confrontations. In about 2 minutes he delivers a lot of information.

Some things to consider after watching this include:

  • THAT’S A SIMUNITION GUN- don’t go try this with your pals and a live pistol. Simunition guns fire only non-lethal ammo and are designed for training and simulation of live fire
  • Your mindset should always include getting your gun into the fight as fast as you can. It’s important to practice this to because most square pistol ranges don’t allow or aren’t set up to allow you to fire from hip level or the close quarters ready position demonstrated in the video
  • If you want to pracitce these techniques with a buddy and don’t have the cash handy to go simuntion, you can either invest in an airsoft pistol or a training gun (blue gun). The additional level of safety you obtain by not practicing with a pistol capable of firing live ammo is well worth the small investment – a blue gun can be had for $20 and even less if you shop around

Intro to Close Quarters Pistol Techniques

Using a pistol for self defense at close quarters is about as far from a square range experience as you can get. The dynamics of each situation are likely to be unique- so there are few hard and fast rules you can rely on.  A good way to start to wrap your head around this is to consider the basic goals of escaping a close quarters situation. Learning to not act like a victim can help you avoid many dangerous situations (this document from Safeism is a great read on managing unknown contacts in public) but unfortunately not all of them. So here are some things to consider if you have to defend yourself at close quarters ranges (less than 3 yards): 

  • Your main goal is to escape if possible. If escape is not an option, your immediate goals should be to create distance and neutralize the immediate threat- preferably in that order. To that end double taps or even worse, single shots are not the answer here. You should be planning to fire as many shots as it takes until you see the threat collapse
  • In order to create distance (if the threat is too close you may not have enough space to draw and fire) you may need to strike the threat to permit you to move away far enough to draw. Dave Spaulding showcases a few nice techniques in the video above and self defense secrets like the Tactical Testicle Tap are mentioned in this recap of a Sig Sauer course
  • As noted on the video above, don’t think for a moment you will be able to draw and assume full arm extension into your isosceles stance when fighting in close quarters. The Third Eye technique as explained by Bryce Towsley (of Triple-T fame) is a sound technique but you may not even have time to bring your pistol up that high
  • The technique Dave Spaulding covers in the video above where he holds his pistol tight to his side with his thumb creating clearance is faster than the Third Eye. With a little practice you can even tuck your weapon hand to your hip or abdomen and get a shot off even faster
In real life you will probably end up improvising and putting these things together. That’s the goal- be sure to practice for it to help sharpen your reactions.

 

 

 

Home defense tip: Low Ready vs High Ready for you AR

Using your AR-15, a shotgun or any long gun for home defense requires some different techniques than those used with a pistol. If you have an AR platform rifle (or any other long gun) as your designated home defense weapon you need to be absolutely certain to use proper defensive ammo and pay close attention to Coopers 4th law. That is, always be certain of your target and what lies beyond it. Many of us have neighbors close enough to our homes–always remember that when a projectile leaves your gun you own it until it stops moving.

There are two weapon-ready carry techniques the US Army teaches for close-quarters combat: low ready and high ready. High ready looks like this:

 

 

 

  • Butt stock under the armpit
  • Front sights under direct line of sight but within peripheral vision
  • Barrel pointed slightly upward
  • Eyes forward- keep your visual focus downrange

 

 
To engage a threat from this position: drive the weapon forward and slide the stock onto your shoulder. Be sure to aim properly by looking over the rear sight.
 
 
 
 
Low ready rifle carry is nearly the opposite (hopefully that’s not a surprise) and looks like this:
 
 
 
 
  • Butt stock resting firmly on shoulder
  • Barrel pointing downward at about a 45-degree angle 
  • Eyes forward- keep your visual focus downrange
 
To engage a threat from this position: raise the front of the weapon to acquire a close quarters sight picture. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Low ready is the most commonly used carry method and is the safest way to carry a rifle while remaining ready to take a reflexive shot if a threat is encountered. There are a couple other notable advantages to low ready for home defense:
  • You can fire as you bring the rifle up to your sight picture and get rounds on target
  • The rifle is in a more stable position offering a greater level of control and stability
  • Fewer steps required to get your rifle into the fight 
  • The muzzle is pointed in a safer direction for most situations (unless you have loved ones or neighbors below you)
Unload your rifle and remove any mags or ammo from the immediate area at home and double check the chamber to ensure it is clear. Practice both methods a few times and you will quickly realize which is more comfortable- at the -15 residence it’s low ready all the way. 

Extreme close quarters aiming with your pistol

Recently I was perusing the latest catalog from HiViz and discovered that they offer a wide range of shooting tips from a wide range of contributors. One tip from retired SEAL Mark Hotaling stood out- a technique for aiming your pistol in close quarters.

At ranges of 3 yards or less it is not optimal to extend your arms forward into a full isosceles stance. Doing so costs precious time and puts you in a bad position for weapon retention. In these situations you should:

  • Extend your arms
  • Keep both eyes open
  • Look over the sights while using the front sight to use for aiming reference

This isn’t the only close range pistol technique being taught today and is not a hard and fast solution to every situation- I’m not saying that this is the only way to defend yourself. However I am a proponent of learning many techniques–who complains about having too many tools in their toolbox? Practice this a little bit at the range and at home (double or triple check to confirm the pistol is empty) to see how it works for you and your style of carry. 

Home Defense Tip: Aiming your AR in Close Quarters

It seems logical that anyone who keeps a firearm handy for defensive use would practice with that weapon to ensure that if they have to use it there are no surprises. This means practicing at close range (3 yds or less)- not 7 yds, not 25 yds and certainly not 50 yds. If you have an AR platform rifle or pistol as your primary home defense weapon or even as a potential option for home defense you owe it to your loved ones and yourself to practice close quarters handling and firing.

Bullet trajectory is an interesting phenomenon. Some good background on trajectory is here. If you want to be good at using your rifle in places other than a square range with targets at fixed distances take a few minutes to learn about what happens when you press the trigger. 

The photo above illustrates a traditional sight picture (what is used for a typical range shot at a target 25 or more yds downrange). The chart in the trajectory article referenced above illustrates where a close quarters shot will go with pretty much any zero – you’re going to hit high low (thanks to D. Russell for catching and pointing this out) if you aim the way the photo above depicts. In fact you may miss the target entriely or fail to neutralize the threat- and neither result is acceptable when the safety of you and your loved ones is at risk.

This problem has a pretty easy solution- one that is reliable and repeatable enough for a wide range of people that the US Army teaches it. The proper method of aiming close quarters shots is to maintain the typical rifle shooting position (cheek weld, nose touching the charging handle, etc.) but to look over the rear sight and use the front sight the same way you always do. 

The photo above illustrates this close quarters sight picture. Basically you want to position the base of the front sight on top of the ghost ring. The technique is reliable up to about 13 yards (12 meters) and allows you to engage threats quickly with the sort of accuracy required for self defense. In other words this should cover most home defense situations. 

Be sure to get out to a place you can practice this- that’s one key to deliberate action in a life threatening situation. Also be certain that you are using ammo that is safe for home defense- Range ammo (FMJs), Most frangible ammo and even Defensive ammo like Hornaday TAP can easily exit the walls of your home and keep traveling. Be responsible and stay safe out there.

Follow-through and Recovery: key elements of pistol operation

Follow- through gets lots of attention from some pistol instructors and very little from others. If you query enough sources you will find that many people don’t really know what follow-through is. Follow-through should not be confused with recovery. Recovery should be defined as bringing the pistol back down and getting a post-shot sight picture. Situations where both come on handy include:

Follow-through technique can be gauged by seeing the front sight rise as the shot breaks. That should be your goal with every rep. Remember to keep your visual focus sharp on the front sight:
If your grip and trigger control are solid you are good to go if you see the front sight rise.
 
Recovery is best executed as establishing the sight picture first and resetting trigger second. Start slow and deliberate and as you get more practice reps under your belt the process will get smoother. There really isn’t much more to this- the difficulty comes in smooth and consistent execution. Make every rep count and you will progress quickly. You can do it! 

Situational Awareness- What NOT to Do

There is so much to learn and ultimately master to attain strong Situational Awarenss skills since life won’t give us road signs like the one pictured above. Honing your OODA loop is a vast topic in and of itself. However something I have not seen much of in all my own research and learnings on the topic is what not to do. Here are some things everyone should know to avoid when it comes to smart and effective Situational Awareness.

Don’t Ever Stop Observing your Environment

You should Never let yourself be in condition white. Obviously there may be times where you are in a relaxed condiotn yellow- like a Saturday morning spent in your basement in suburbia. Ideally you should never let yourself slip out of observing your environment – and if you’re outside the layered security of your own home you better stay out of at smartphone and keep your attention on your environment.

Don’t Ignore Something That Stands Out

Once you notice someone that stands out, keep an eye on them. Don’t take the sheeple approach of hoping really hard that the creep on the bus wringing his hands and angrily talking to himself gets off at the next stop – be aware of him. How often have we heard victims talk about “having a bad feeling about someone or something but continuing on anyway”? Listen to your instincts – they are typically cueing your mind.

Don’t Be Too Nice

Never be too nice to anyone. It is perfectly fine to be respectful to everyone, but as soon as someone becomes a threat or distracts you from the task at hand, you don’t have to be nice to them. Guard against people getting into your personal space– typically 10 ft if you can maintain that much distance. Being nice to a Bad Guy won’t stop them from trying to harm you or take advantage of you.

Don’t Panic

If a threatening situation does arise, never panic. Your natural response will be to stay in shock and do nothing or to do something stupid in a futile attempt to resolve the situation. Neither of these are responses that put you in control. What does help you gain control? Breathe and focus on OODA – focusing your mind on trained responses can help you overcome panic. Focused and rational actions can  help you survive when seconds count. It only takes one action to disrupt a bad guys plan to attack you- stay calm and work on disrupting the bad guy’s predicted flow of events by not acting like a victim.

Don’t Jump To Conclusions 

If you are not sure about a situation, leave. Getting involved in a situation you happen upon is ALWAYS a bad idea. Let the paid professionals sort out trouble and keep yourself out of legal and physical trouble. You have no way of knowing if the guy in the suit or the guy who looks like a bum is a police officer when you walk into a physical confrontation between the two. As far as I’m concerned my job is to protect myself and my loved ones and to get home safely to them. That’s all- I’m a private citizen, not a deputy.

Don’t try to Intimidate a Threat

Never try to intimidate an attacker or a potential attacker, by drawing your weapon or by any other means. Brandishing a weapon is a crime and can cost you your 2A rights. Why risk it? Also the second you point a gun at someone you have now made yourself the threat- you may get shot by another concealed carrier because you waved a gun around. The only reason you should draw your weapon is if you fear for your life – facing an imminent threat.

 Intimidation is not a defensive tactic- and these days you’re not doing the 2A any favors by being a gun-toting tough guy.

Situational Awareness Practice: KIM Games

Situational Awareness is made actionable using the OODA loop. If you don’t know the OODA loop yet know this much: Col John Boyd coined the term- aka Boyd Cycle. It has 4 phases: Observe, Orient, Decide, Act. In some ways the Observe step is the most important for the average American. 

This is because if you can effectively identify a potential threat before they get close to you- or better yet even notice you- you have the opportunity to avoid any unpleasant interactions. Watching eyes and hands can do quite a bit to help you ID a potential bad guy -be sure to watch those hands because that is where most attacks will originate. 

One way to sharpen your observation skills is to play KIM (keep in mind) games. This is a very simple game: the idea is to study a group of 10-20 objects briefly, divert your attention to something else, and rely on your mental picture to come back to that group of objects to describe what you saw. Here is an exampleused by USMC snipers:

…they would put different objects on the table: a bullet, a paper clip, a bottle top, a pen, a piece of paper with something written on it — 10 to 20 items. You’d gather around and they’d give you, say, a minute to look at everything. Then you’d have to go back to your table and describe what you saw. You weren’t allowed to say “paper clip” or “bullet,” you’d have to say, like, “silver, metal wire, bent in two oval shapes.” They want the Intel guys making the decision [about] what you actually saw.

You can also do this with places you frequent during the morning rush hour (regulars in a coffee shop or restaurant), cars parked at work or on your block, or set up random arrays of objects at home like the ones pictured above. A nice variation is to have someone change an item in an array when you’re not looking (for example when you left the room) see if you can pick out the change without a cue from your buddy. 

The more you practice these skills the sharper your observation will get. Here is a clever tip from the Boy Scouts for practicing KIM all on your own:

These are excellent ways to develop your children’s defensive skills – avoidance and recognition is especially valuable in a world where droves of people are oblivious to everything around them thanks to their smartphones.