First lesson of the Patrol Vehicle CQB Instructor course?
My entire life has been a lie.
I’ve been a cop for two decades. I spent most of my time on patrol, working nights in rough areas. Like every other patrol officer, I was always around cars; my car, traffic violator cars, suspect cars, wrecked cars, parked cars, and so on. I attended two police academies which indoctrinated rookies with conventional wisdom about cars and bullets: the only cover a car provides is from the wheels and engine block, slugs will blow straight through a passenger compartment, shooting through a windshield might affect bullets a little but not much. As far as I knew, there was really no reason to be concerned. Even though I had never fired into or out of a car in training, or watched a demonstration, or even saw an instructional video, I always thought I was ready for a shooting around a car.
When did I figure out I was wrong? Right around the time instructor Steve Fisher sat in a driver’s seat and put the first round through the windshield at a target right in front of the car. It should suffice to say, pretty much everything I thought I knew about shooting around vehicles was wrong.
The Patrol Vehicle CQB Instructor course was put on by the Texas Tactical Police Officers’ Association and taught by William Petty and Steve Fisher. They’re both dicks who hate everyone. I say that because they should have taught me this stuff about twenty years ago, when Petty was two and Fisher was sixty. But they didn’t, because they’re dicks.
Prior to this class, if I had been in a shooting and a suspect took cover behind an empty trunk, I would have thought “I got this. My rounds will go straight through.” Then I watched Steve fire 9mm rounds, a blast of 00 buck and a slug into one side of an empty trunk. And almost nothing came out the other side.
Now I know, sure, engine blocks are cover. Wheels aren’t bad either. But other spots on a car can be pretty damn good too.
Check that crap out. Out of eighteen 9mm and 12-guage projectiles fired into the trunk from only a few feet away, only seven 9mm rounds penetrated the far side. And they were so deformed they did almost no damage to a target set up beside the car. A suspect taking cover behind the trunk might have received a few superficial wounds, probably nothing serious. And don’t even get me started on shooting through a windshield. A windshield’s effect on a pistol round can be nothing short of catastrophic.
This is the kind of information rookie cops should know, instead of waiting until they’re decades in. I had plenty of close calls on the street, and had my trigger halfway pulled on suspects near my car many times. What if I had fired through my windshield at a suspect standing right at my bumper? My first round would likely have deflected so badly I would have missed. And even if it did hit it would be so deformed, and would have lost so much mass as it traveled through the windshield, it would probably have been completely ineffective. No shit.
Whatever you think you know about how bullets interact with cars, you’re probably wrong. And if you’re an armed good guy, you owe it to yourself to get some training and find out. Don’t just do research on the internet, or ask guys who you think should know. Get some actual training. Shoot into a car. Shoot out of a car. You’ll probably be as amazed as I was.
Second lesson of the course? Learning new positions is fun and exciting.
Back in 1989, the Marine Corps taught me the basic shooting positions: standing, kneeling, sitting and prone. And gosh darn it, there was no reason to learn more than that. In the police academies, I learned to fire a pistol standing, and…well…just standing. When I was taught the rollover prone position eight years ago, I was almost blown away; “You mean, there are other ways to shoot in combat, other than the boot-camp-level crap we’ve been spoon fed for years?” But I hadn’t learned anything new since then.
In this course, I was shown several new ways to shoot using cover. Petty and Fisher showed us new positions, explained the reasoning behind them, demonstrated them and made us practice them, over and over. They made us practice over and over because they’re dicks who hate everyone.
All the positions made sense. Only one of them gave me a momentary “That’s dumb, I’d never do that crap” reaction. I was wrong.
The “urban prone” position was totally new to me. It’s a little awkward initially, not because it’s hard to get into, but because it just feels weird. Almost everyone made the same mistakes when they dropped into it the first few times. But it’s a position you can assume within seconds, making almost maximum utilization of available cover, and fire accurately from. Learning to do it right is worth the effort.
One really cool thing about this position is that if you drop onto your weak side with a carbine, you can simply “shoulder bump” your weapon onto your weak side shoulder without changing hand positions. It’s quick, easy and it works. The only caveats here are that it’s not easy to line up iron sights from this position (red dots weren’t an issue), and that some students had trouble working the selector when they shoulder bumped.
The “Shrimp” position was the position I initially balked at. Why, I wondered, would anyone choose to lay on their back behind cover instead of staying on their feet? But then Petty and Fisher explained it; you may not have decided to lay on your back, you may have been kind of urged to get there (like maybe by, oh, getting shot in the face or something). If you wind up on your back, you can fight from that position. And you can engage quickly and easily to either side, or reload, or clear a malfunction. It was a good position to learn.
We also learned a new way to hold a pistol during movement. This method will induce an automatic heart stoppage in just about every police firearms instructor. It’s called the “temple index”. Petty and Fisher demonstrated that if you’re seated in a car and engaging, there really isn’t a good way to exit the vehicle with a weapon in your hand without muzzling the crap out of yourself, innocent bystanders, the neighbor’s dog, random hippies, everyone. That is, unless you exit the car with your weapon pointed straight upward and pressed against your temple. The instructors themselves were leery when they first saw the technique, until they decided it works. And they’re right, it does work. It looks funny, it feels funny, but it makes sense.
We practiced the temple index during a really chaotic drill where we had to engage through a windshield, bail out, take cover, then engage multiple targets around a vehicle using our pistols and carbines. Part of the drill consisted of clearing constant carbine malfunctions. The malfunctions were caused by William Petty using a stick to block our ejection ports. He did that because he’s a dick and hates everyone.
Third lesson of the course: under stress, even trained and experienced guys fuck up.
No, that’s not a surprise. We’ve all been there. But we always expect ourselves to not do it. I knew I was rusty, but during this course I discovered my pistol skills had deteriorated. Badly. I also made a rookie mistake and failed to get my pistol out of the holster while falling into urban prone, which meant I had to struggle to draw while lying on my gun side, which led to me muzzling my own arm. Fortunately for my ego, I wasn’t the only student to mess up.
Read the rest at http://www.breachbangclear.com/patrol-vehicle-cqb-instructor-course/
Filed under: 2nd Amendment, Gear reviews | 16 Comments
Tags: cqb, tactical training, texas tactical police officers association, veteran writers
I’m not sure what’s going on with the gun rights movement lately. We faced a serious threat after Newtown, but at the grass roots level, America showed that it does not want more gun control. Most major gun control efforts failed miserably. Gun sales have soared. More and more good, decent citizens are getting concealed carry permits. The public is slowly learning that despite the incessant media focus on guns, actual gun crimes have plummeted. A few prominent liberals like Anthony Bourdain have tried to convince other liberals to stop demonizing gun owners. By most measures, we on the pro-2nd Amendment side have won.
But then open carriers go and screw things up.
At last count several large corporations including Starbucks, Sonic, Chipotle and now Target have at least asked OCers to stop open carrying at their businesses. I’d guess they did this because OCers were driving customers away. The businesses’ request, of course, drove some pro-2A people nuts. These businesses have all been accused of being “anti-gun”. In reality, they just want to sell stuff. On their private property. You know, in accordance with their right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. They aren’t required to take sides in a fight they never wanted to be involved in. They should be left out of this.
But instead of leaving the uninterested out of the debate, open carriers have apparently adopted a policy of forcing people to take sides. They do this by flaunting their right to open carry, carrying specifically to provoke a reaction, carrying for no logical reason in really stupid places, and basically making asses of themselves. Then they take pictures of themselves proudly “defending our gun rights”.
Really, who wouldn’t feel comfortable walking into Chipotle’s with this gaggle of freedom-lovers hanging around outside? It’s not like any of them are CARRYING THEIR F’KIN’ WEAPON AT PORT ARMS, which has been taught as a combat-ready position for decades. And just look! None of them, NONE, have their weapon slung in front, which is where we soldiers carry our carbines on patrol so WE CAN QUICKLY RAISE THEM TO SHOOT PEOPLE IN THE FACE.
This has been explained by other writers already, but it’s worth repeating: if someone is carrying a weapon at port arms or low ready, it’s no different than walking around with a pistol out of the holster in a combat grip. Professionals carry their long guns in front when they’re prepared for imminent contact. When I was overseas and outside the wire, my weapon was either in my hands or hanging on my chest. You know, the way OCers carry their weapons inside coffee shops.
Now, I’m going to do a little compare and contrast. Take another look at the totally non-threatening latte buyer above. Note how his weapon hangs by the sling on his chest. If I ever have a chance to ask him, I’m sure he’ll say nothing in the manner of his open carry suggests he’s a threat.
Now, check out this guy:
Notice that he’s carrying his weapon in pretty much the same manner as the latte buyer. But he is, in fact, one hell of a threat. Because the soldier, probably unlike the coffee shop customer, has been trained how to quickly raise his weapon and engage. The soldier carries his weapon up front specifically so he can shoot people with it. The fact that the open carrier apparently doesn’t know that he’s carrying his weapon in a combat-ready manner kinda suggests he shouldn’t be carrying it in a coffee shop.
And then there are guys like these flaming morons, wandering the streets with AR-15s that they can probably barely operate. And intentionally walking past a police station. While talking like rappers. And bragging about their right to open carry. Just to get attention.
But you know what’s even sadder than that? When you realize that those ridiculous open carry bozos were actually safer and less threatening than the coffee shop guy.
Now, let’s say I’m in Home Depot. I carry a concealed pistol every day. I’m with my wife and kids looking at appliances. We turn the corner to another aisle. And I see this guy, carrying an AK with his hand on the grip and finger just outside the trigger guard.
I now have a decision to make. Is this an open carrier demonstrating in support of a right, that we already have, by walking around Home Depot completely oblivious to the fact that he’s carrying his weapon ready for action? Or is it an aspiring active shooter who just ditched his trenchcoat to expose his weapon? Might I be forgiven for not realizing that he (supposedly) doesn’t intend to appear threatening, and that he’s just clueless?
Many of us pro-2A people carry a gun just in case we run into some murderous nutcase wandering around a business with an AK ready to open fire. Then we encounter “gun rights activists” wandering around businesses carrying AKs ready to open fire. But the gun rights activists are supposedly on our side. And we’re supposed to be able to quickly tell the difference between the two. At least one open carrier in Georgia couldn’t tell the difference, and drew on another open carrier recently (http://www.valdostadailytimes.com/todays-top-stories/x1736693358/First-day-of-new-gun-law-leads-to-arrest).
Here’s another example. How do these guys, especially the woman carrying with both hands on her weapon, not know they’re carrying in a threatening manner?
EDIT: I had to remove this image because I inadvertently attributed it to the wrong source. The picture is originally from the Detroit News (who charges for its use), and can be seen here: http://www.colorsmagazine.com/stories/magazine/88/story/us-gun-owners-want-the-right-to-order-caramel-frappuccinos-while-fully-arme
Could it be… gosh… maybe they’re not the highly trained master gunfighters some of them imagine themselves to be?
Call me crazy, but I feel one of my responsibilities as a gun rights advocate is to show people that gun owners are reasonable, responsible people who aren’t a threat to the innocent. If I were to, say, walk into Chipotle carrying an AK at the combat ready, I’m pretty sure I’d accomplish the exact opposite. And I really couldn’t blame regular Joe for being afraid of me. Think about it, guys. If a cop walks into Chipotle with a rifle, people will get scared. If a soldier walks into Chipotle with a rifle, people will get scared. If some unknown guy walks into Chipotle with a rifle, especially if he’s carrying it at the combat ready, people are going to get scared. In America, carrying a rifle into a restaurant isn’t a normal act. Right or wrong, it scares people. And you won’t make people less scared of guns by intentionally scaring them with guns.
At this point, I’m sure open carriers will call me “Hoplophobe! Anti-gunner!” or whatever else helps their “You’re either one of us or one of the enemy” mindset. My response is, “Sure, whatever.” I’m 100% pro-2nd Amendment. In fact, I actually support the legal right to open carry in private businesses. I support it the same way I support the Westboro Baptist Church’s right to protest at soldiers’ funerals. I consider both acts to be the height of stupidity. I think the WBC and open carriers are only harming their own cause. Both acts are moronic. But this is America, and people have a right to be morons.
Peaceful open carry rallies where gun owners safely carry long guns slung across their backs on public land? I’m down with that. Blatantly ridiculous, orchestrated confrontations where open carriers walk into private businesses with rifles at the combat ready, just to piss people off, knowing that all they’ll do is create more enemies? No thanks.
So please, open carriers, stop “defending my rights”. Just stop. You’re not helping. You’re not creating friends. You’re not “proving how important it is to exercise our rights.” You also have a right to wander the streets dressed in drag; do you exercise that right? And you’re not “getting people used to open carry.” For years, the Westboro Baptist Church has angered people by protesting at funerals. America hasn’t gotten used to it. We grudgingly tolerate it because it’s legal, but pretty much everybody hopes the WBC picks the wrong funeral and gets beaten senseless. America will never say, “The Westboro Baptist Church? What a great group of guys!” And you open carriers will never NOT provoke a reaction by carrying an AR-15 inside Chipotle.
But maybe, if you keep doing this stupid crap, you’ll turn more gun-neutral people into anti-gun people. Once you create enough enemies, you’ll finally hit the critical mass that gets new gun control laws passed. When that happens, I won’t just blame those anti-gun people. I’ll blame YOU.
ADDED 7/9/2014: I just ran across this video. I don’t know anything about this guy’s background, but he makes a lot of good points.
Filed under: 2nd Amendment | 332 Comments
Tags: 2nd amendment, gun rights, open carry, veteran writers
In case you haven’t noticed, the revolution has begun.
This past Sunday, June 8th, two… uh… “patriots” started the revolution that so many long for. These two highly-trained, brave, dedicated defenders of freedom chose to spark this revolution by ambushing two police officers who were tyrannically oppressing slices of pizza at CiCi’s. Our heroic resistance fighters also managed to kill an American citizen who was evilly exercising his 2nd Amendment right to carry a concealed pistol. The revolutionaries then built an impregnable bunker out of Walt-Mart merchandise, because that’s what highly-trained revolutionaries do. And they bravely fought police who were unreasonably trying to restrict their freedom to murder people. By “bravely fought” I mean they shot wildly, missed their targets, then tried and failed to carry out a suicide pact. The male revolutionary was shot by his wife but died from police gunfire. The wife, in an act of cowardice sure to please the founding fathers, shot herself in the head.
Hurray. Viva la Revolution.
Since I started writing about the importance of the 2nd Amendment, I’ve done a lot of reading on pro-2A web sites and blogs. Most of what I’ve seen has been reasonable. Some of it hasn’t. Too often, I’ve seen either veiled hints or threats of revolution, or claims that America desperately needs one.
“Revolutionary” posters, shirts and bumper stickers now seem to be more popular than ever before. Likewise with novels and nonfiction books about the coming “Second American Revolution”. It would seem that a growing number of people actually do want another revolution. And once that number becomes big enough (as it apparently has), the statistical likelihood of someone carrying out an act to further this revolution increases.
To a degree, I understand where some of this feeling comes from. I get the belief that the federal government has overstepped its authority. I believe the current administration has shown, especially with the Benghazi and Bowe Bergdahl incidents, that it’s badly disconnected from the public it’s sworn to serve.
I get being upset at the government. But I don’t get this:
Many people across the political aisle from me think the very possibility of a revolution is ridiculous. They write snarky, snide comments about wannabe revolutionaries. They ask rhetorical questions like, “You think you can fight the government? Then you better have tanks and fighter planes, because you can’t fight a real army with just those stupid assault rifles.” But those snarky, snide commenters are wrong. Unfortunately, a real revolution could happen, and could happen today. I’ve written about how and why American civilians could fight the government with weapons we have now (http://chrishernandezauthor.com/2013/02/12/weapons-of-war/). As a cop and combat veteran, I know what a well-trained fighter with a rifle can do.
I disagree with the revolutionary rhetoric. But I don’t disagree because I think a revolution isn’t possible. I disagree because I know a revolution is possible. And I know it would suck.
This might be a surprise for the revolutionary crowd, but sometimes war isn’t fun. Especially if it’s happening around your homes and families. I doubt the Iraqis enjoyed having air strikes hit their neighborhoods. I know the Afghans didn’t have a good time cowering in their homes while we fought Taliban just outside.
So, “revolutionaries”, if this wonderful Second American Revolution starts, do you think your homes and families will somehow be exempt from the chaos? Maybe you guys haven’t really thought this through.
A lot of so-called revolutionaries seem to be just about as capable, brave and well-trained as the two morons (I refuse to name them) who launched the pathetically stupid attack in Vegas Sunday. My guess is that those who loudly proclaim “revolution!” are the least capable of actually fighting one. In a real revolution, most of the 400 pound keyboard commandos who think they’re unstoppable anti-government warriors because they take their AR-15 to the range once a year would either die immediately or flee after the first fight. Just like in Iraq and Afghanistan, they’d be the dumb ones who were killed off first.
Yes, I know there are actual fighters out there. I personally know many trained, experienced, brave men who aren’t running their mouths about starting a war, but who would take up arms if they felt there was no choice. Those guys aren’t plotting to shoot random cops or concealed carriers. They don’t plan on committing suicide behind a makeshift barrier of Walt-Mart toilet paper and candy bars. They’re actually not planning anything; they’re living peaceful lives, staying fit and proficient, not presenting a threat to anyone. But if the government crossed the line they’d resist, and resist well. They’d be the real fighters, the guys who would still be there after the aforementioned dumb ones died off.
Those potential real fighters aren’t reason for concern. They’re simply on guard. Every American citizen should be on guard against government overreach. The guys to worry about are the stupid fools who think they’re somehow “doing something” by murdering random people. The people to worry about are the ones who desperately wish for a revolution, without knowing or caring about the suffering it would cause the country they claim to love.
I love my country. I love the freedom it stands for. I’ve gone to war twice to defend that freedom. I understand that, if things get far worse than they are now, it may be necessary to fight against our own government. I don’t think we’re anywhere near that point. And I don’t want us to ever get there.
Want to know why?
In Afghanistan I watched an old lady desperately herding children toward a house so they’d be safe from the firefight she knew was about to start. A Taliban fighter shot past her, at me, and missed badly. Snipers in the mountains behind us shot over our heads and hit two Taliban. The old woman’s body language betrayed her terror; she frantically struggled to push the children forward, out of the crossfire, before both sides pulled triggers on scores of weapons. Later, when the fight really did start, helicopters fired machine guns and missiles into woods right behind an Afghan home. Taliban fighters opened fire on a young boy who walked onto the roof (they must have thought he was one of us) and forced him to flee in panic back into the house. A firefight erupted around the house while the family hid inside. In another fight, I watched French soldiers firing anti-tank missiles over a village to hit enemy positions on a mountainside. One missile malfunctioned, went off course and slammed straight into a house. An innocent woman was killed. Later two young girls were killed by indirect fire.
Pardon me if I don’t want that to be my 70-year-old mother, trying desperately to get my children to safety. Pardon me if I don’t want that to be my son, being shot at for no reason. Pardon me for not wanting my backyard to become a battlezone or impact area for an air strike.
And by the way, the houses over there are built to stop bullets. Our houses aren’t.
Every war, no matter when or where, kills civilians. Every revolution leaves innocents caught between opposing forces. And revolutionaries tend to be very casual about the lives of people who they think aren’t revolutionary enough. Throughout history, rebels and revolutionaries have killed their own people for daring to not support the cause. Call me crazy, but I really don’t want to see our civilians trapped in a crossfire and killed by errant bullets, missiles, mortars, or air strikes. I don’t want people who are just trying to survive to be murdered for their neutrality. I don’t care whether those civilians are liberal, conservative, or neither. They’re Americans. They’re the people I’m sworn to defend.
So maybe our aspiring revolutionaries should quit wishing for our people to suffer horrible tragedies. Maybe they should stop imagining themselves as warriors, if in reality they can barely operate a weapon, are so out of shape they can’t run 100 yards, and get all their “training” from YouTube videos. Maybe they should stop seeing themselves like this:
if they actually look more like this:
If this wonderful “revolution” will be started, led or fought by the kind of raging, car-stealing, murderous clowns who attacked Vegas last weekend, then screw the revolution and anyone who supports it. Nobody should waste time fantasizing about a civil war where only the bad guys die (no war has ever been that simple or easy). Instead we should just keep working together to achieve peaceful solutions. Because if someone actually loves this country, they shouldn’t want to see it torn apart by war.
Officers Igor Soldo and Alyn Beck, and brave armed citizen Joseph Wilcox, rest in peace.
Filed under: 2nd Amendment | 62 Comments
Tags: 2nd amendment, revolution, veteran writers
Olight’s SR51 Intimidator flashlight is a little confusing. Because, despite the name, it is NOT a tactical flashlight. It’s one hell of a general purpose light, though.
First I’ll list the good things about the Intimidator. Most important thing on the list: this light is bright. One hundred lumens brighter than Surefire’s M3LT. Before turning it on you have to check the earth and moon’s alignment so you don’t accidentally cause an eclipse. I’ve owned plenty of police and military tactical lights, and don’t think I’ve ever had one nearly this bright.
The SR51 Intimidator has two brightness levels (two hundred fifty and nine-freakin’ hundred lumens), and easily switches between them by holding down the power button. Two quick clicks on the button switches the light into strobe mode (which defaults to the high-power setting). Low power, high power and strobe; what more do you need from a light? And you don’t need an engineering degree to program it. It’s a simple system.
Another super cool thing about the Intimidator is its presentation. It comes in an attractive metal lockbox with precise foam fittings, complete with belt case, wrist lanyard, extra o-rings and light-diffusing lens cap. The flashlight itself is beautifully finished in dark black with crisp silver lettering. It just looks like a good light.
According to Olight’s website, the Intimidator is waterproof to two meters, impact resistant from almost five foot drops, runs for ten hours at low power and one hour fifty minutes on high power. And it’s all contained in an aircraft-grade aluminum housing that’s 7.5 inches long and 14 ounces. Pretty impressive.
Read the rest at http://www.breachbangclear.com/review-the-olight-intimidator-light/
Filed under: Gear reviews | 1 Comment
Tags: olight, sr51, veteran writers
This man was killed in the Shpee Valley, Kapisa Province, Afghanistan, on August 7th 2009. I was on the mission where he was killed. I didn’t know him.
I saw him during a rehearsal before an attack. The next time I saw him, the following morning, he was dead. Two other soldiers and I were almost shot recovering his body.
His name was Matthew Freeman. He was a Marine Corps Captain, a Naval Academy graduate and C-130 pilot who was doing his time on the ground as a forward observer. He had only been in Afghanistan 18 days when he was killed, and was married less than a month earlier.
He advanced into a known Taliban stronghold with a Georgia National Guard Embedded Training Team and a handful of Afghan soldiers. They knew they were going to be ambushed. The first bursts of enemy fire killed three Afghan soldiers and wounded another. Captain Freeman and several other troops rushed to a compound, an Afghan home, and cleared it. Captain Freeman and a Georgia medic climbed onto the roof of the compound so Freeman could direct fire support onto enemy positions. As he was engaging with his carbine and calling for support, Captain Freeman was shot and killed. The medic beside him was almost hit, and as he scrambled off the roof another Georgia soldier was shot trying to help him.
I rolled into the valley with the quick reaction force. As we headed toward the fight I heard on the radio that an American had been killed. When we reached Captain Freeman his finger was still on the trigger, weapon off safe, magazine almost empty. As World War II Marine Robert Leckie wrote about his fallen comrades, “He died with his face to the enemy. May he rest in peace.”
In the end, we were ordered to recover our casualties and retreat from the valley.
Even though I didn’t know Captain Freeman, his death affected me more than any other experience I had at war. A few days after the fight, alone in a dark room, I cried over the tragedy of his promising young life lost, the frustrating conclusion of the battle, and the angry feeling that he had died for no good cause, in a valley nobody would ever hear of, for people who didn’t want us there.
It took me years to realize that he didn’t die for those people. He died for his people, both those beside him and those back home. His brave death wasn’t for Afghanistan, it was for America. And whatever the end result of our effort that day, one objective truth remains: Captain Freeman believed in himself, his comrades and his country so strongly, he willingly risked, and lost, his life in defense of our values.
In 25 years in the military, I’ve done many things. But nothing else I’ve done was as important as the small role I played in bringing Captain Freeman home.
Today isn’t my day. I lived. Today isn’t every surviving veteran’s day. They lived too.
Today belongs to Captain Matthew Freeman. Happy Memorial Day.
Filed under: Afghanistan | 13 Comments
Tags: memorial day, veteran writers, war on terror