A Casualty in the War Against Unused Guns

An example of wear and tear from hard training.

Ironically enough, last night while I was dry-firing I noticed a casualty of my own.  I spoke yesterday about not letting dings and dents to your firearms caused by training to bother you.  Here you will see that my own Glock 17 lost a chip around the magwell.  I can only assume that thousands of repetitions practicing my emergency reload put some extra stress on that part of the frame.

Stuff happens.  When I noticed, I didn’t cry over spilled milk.  I grabbed a camera to document the occurrence and then went right back to what I was doing.  These things will happen if you use your guns.  The only thing worse you can do to a gun is to not use it at all.

 

Dings and Dents

Many shooters are attached to their guns. They treat them like the most precious substance on the planet and fear every little ding and dent their gun might acquire in its use. To be honest I can’t blame these gun owners, and I am definitely in the same boat for at least one or two of my guns.

In training, paranoia over dings and dents won’t get you very far. Guns are tools. Any tool you own and actually use is going to get dirty and probably get some dings and dents. Avoiding damage to your guns at all costs in training will only help you develop training scars that could get you killed in real life.

I understand how some people could become very attached and protective of their guns. I know at least a few of mine are guns I would like to keep pristine either because of their collectors value, or because they are nice guns that I paid top dollar for. This is one of the reasons you won’t see me competing, carrying, or training with a high-end custom 1911. Shelling out 2 or 3 thousand dollars for a pistol means I’d be a lot more protective of it than my off the shelf Glock 17. If my Glock gets dinged up I can always buy another one for relatively short money.

I see the same thing at the rifle range. The ironic part is seeing someone take out a cheap AK pattern rifle to shoot, then frantically run to cover it when a few rain drops appear or the wind starts blowing on a sandy range. Seriously? It’s an AK, and they thrive in poor environments like this.

Avoiding obsessing over a tool

If you want to avoid obsessing over the guns you train with, you need to make sure those tools are not super expensive and unique. It will be much more painful if a 3,000 dollar rifle or pistol gets scratched compared to a cheap, standard one. If you can’t afford at least two of a given rifle or pistol, maybe you shouldn’t be training with it. In fact if you want to keep it nice, buy a second one and let that one be the safe queen.

If you use your guns, real life will happen to them. Learn to get over it. Holster wear, dings from accidental contact with barricades, sand, and grit, are all out to get your precious gun. Just like you probably don’t stress over the finish on your framing hammer or your screw drivers, neither should you stress over the appearance of your tools beyond making sure they work. Treat your guns like they have a life cycle and will need to be replaced, and you’ll be a lot happier and get a lot better training in the long run.

Do you obsess over the condition of your guns?

Appearance on Kate Kreuger’s Talking Guns

I’ll be making an appearance on Kate Kreuger’s Talking Guns on Arizona Gun Radio tomorrow morning (Tuesday 4/3) at 6:20 Mountain Time (9:20 EST).  If you happen to live in Arizona you can listen live here.

1st Quarter Goals Checkup (Time to revisit your goals)

 

Photo by theogeo

Did you set goals this year? Any New Year’s resolutions? I hope you did because without setting goals you can only hope to be aimless and disorganized with your training. We set goals so we have something to aim for. Training is the journey, but goals are the waypoints or destination.

If training is a journey and your goal is the destination, then it makes sense to periodically check and make sure you are getting closer to the destination. Just like we keep our eyes open when we drive to make sure we don’t swerve off the road, we need to pay attention to our training ,making sure we stay on course for reaching our goals.

Since 25% of the year is already behind us, this is a perfect time to check on your progress. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to help you discern whether you are being effective in reaching your goals:

Have you completed any goals?

Sometimes we set goals that are easier to achieve than we expected. It’s not impossible that you have already completed one or more of your goals for the year. If you have, that’s great – pat yourself on the back. If not, make sure you are making progress toward your goal.

Once you have completed a goal, you should ask yourself what is next. If you’ve already completed a goal by now and you were hoping to reach it by the end of the year, you still have 75% of the year left. This would be a good time to set a new goal to take yourself further.

One of my goals for this year was to increase my flexibility, specifically to improve my “touch your toes” stretch. I achieved this goal after roughly a month. This was a perfect opportunity for me to set a new goal, perhaps to stretch farther than I can now. In my case since I already had goals for other stretches, I intend to double down and focus even more on those stretches.

Are you making progress toward your goals?

Don’t feel bad if you haven’t accomplished a goal yet, progress may be just as good. Progress is a huge motivator. If you are getting worse, or staying stagnant, you need to revisit how you are attacking your goals. Three months without progress is a sign that it’s time to try something else.

Are you making enough progress toward your goals?

Hand in hand with making progress is making enough progress. One of my goals this year is to effectively triple the number of pullups I can do in a single set from 8 to 25. At my last check, I was performing around 11. At the rate of improving by 1 per month, I definitely won’t meet my goal by the end of the year. I am currently taking a crack at Stew Smith’s pullup push workout, which should give me a huge leg up towards this goal by the end of the week. I’ll revisit my current max and see what I need to do to reach my goal.

If it doesn’t look like you can reach a goal, you have two options. The first is to give up on that goal and pull it in to a more realistic level. There is no shame in this if you set yourself up with a super-human objective that you couldn’t dream of reaching. The second option is to take another look at your approach. Maybe you need more workout or practice sessions, or maybe getting some mentoring or instruction might help.

Whatever your goals, do take a serious look at them and your current progress. If you never course correct you will have a harder time reaching these goals. Most of the things we are trying to achieve take a lot of time and focus. If we don’t make the best use of our time, then our goals are out the window.

How are you doing with your goals?

5 Reasons You Should Get Medical Training

Picture by UNC - CFC - USFK

When we train for self-defense we are often concerned primarily with the encounter. If you are smart, you train for everything leading up the encounter – handling the ‘interview’, taking a dominant position, and picking up pre-assault cues. You should also train for everything following the encounter, which may include surveying the scene, dealing with first-responders and bystanders, applying medical aid to those who need it, and possibly escaping if the scene is not secured.

Medical training is a huge part of dealing with the aftermath of a violent encounter, but it can even be useful during the event, depending on the scope of the encounter. It would be good to not bleed out during a prolonged shootout while waiting for help to arrive.

Getting medical training is a good idea for a number of reasons, here are 5 of them:

First aid skills are an asset in many situations

At the local gym where I teach karate, a gym member collapsed about a month ago after getting off an elliptical machine. Heart failure can happen anywhere, and so can a variety of other medical situations. You never know where or when your first aid skills might come in handy. Thankfully this woman survived thanks to the quick action of several staff members at the gym, and their CPR and AED skills. Even if you don’t ever need to defend yourself, basic first aid can be an asset.

You might be injured in an encounter

If you are ever attacked, your opponent might have the drop on you. Even with the best training we can get, there is still a good chance of becoming injured. We could get stabbed or shot in a fight. Being prepared to deal with these calamities includes being able to manipulate your chosen tools with either hand, and learning to operate them with a single hand.

You also want to know how to apply first aid to yourself. The goal is to keep yourself alive and conscious while waiting for first-responders to arrive on the scene. These skills can be the difference between going home to your family or not.

A friend or bystander could be injured in an encounter

When we prepare for a violent assault, we put great emphasis on making sure we don’t spray and pray. We make sure to know where our rounds are going to ensure we hit the threat, and no one else. Our attacker might not be so conscientious. This means that upon resolving a threat, we might have injured people that need aid.

While it may not be your responsibility per se to be prepared to help those around you who may be harmed by a violent assault, are you prepared to look into the eyes of your wife, husband, son, or daughter as they lay bleeding on the asphalt, unable to do anything about it?

Your attacker could be injured

If you are successful in thwarting an assault, it is highly likely your attacker is at a minimum wounded. You could say “screw him” and let him die (and in some localities this might be legally the best option you can take). I would like to think that if I used deadly force on another human being, I would also make my best effort to apply aid to that person if they needed it. Using deadly force is not something to take lightly, so having the ability to help someone and turn a deadly self-defense shooting into just a self-defense shooting is a good skill to have.

Injuries in training

In training, whether just a trip to the range or at an organized shooting class, injuries can happen. Put a bunch of new acquaintances in a confined area, give them weapons and have them move and shoot while under pressure. Accidents can happen. Gun shot wounds have happened at classes before, and I’m sure they will happen again. Be prepared for it, and reduce the risk that you have to watch someone die because you weren’t ready.

If you shoot alone this is even more important. Something could happen while you are alone, and you won’t be able to count on anyone else for aid. Knowing how to stabilize yourself while you wait for help to arrive could easily be the difference between this being your last trip to the range or just one of many to come.


*** warning: explicit language ***

Violence can happen just about anywhere. It goes without saying that injuries including gunshots, knife wounds, and even just heart failure can happen just about anywhere. Get some training, and be prepared for these occurrences so if they ever happen in your life, you’ll be ready for them.

What medical training do you have? Let us know in the comment section below!

How To Train Dangerous Techniques

Image by thefuturistics

Last week I sent an email to my email subscribers looking for some feedback on exactly what they were looking to get from Indestructible Training. One reader, John, asked to see more on “down and dirty street fighting”. This post is my take on an aspect of training for the street, especially those ‘dirty’ techniques that aren’t usually easy to train in a cooperative environment. If you have a topic you want to hear more about hop over to the contact page and let me know. Or be like John and subscribe to get updates via email and you too can receive exclusive content and special offers.

The street is a dangerous place. A place with no rules. When confronted on the street and your life is in danger, there is no need to hold yourself to some arbitrary set of rules designed for your safety. Your adversary certainly won’t hold himself to them.

Unlike competitive martial arts where rules dominate the competition, the street tends to get a little off the beaten path. Eye gouging, shots to the groin, spitting, etc are all useful tactics on the street. The problem with many of these tactics is the difficulty you might have in practicing them. It tends to be hard to find a cooperative partner who won’t mind you gouging his eyes out.

Keep in mind that these tactics don’t always work, and cannot be the foundation for your self-defense training. Cecil Burch wrote an excellent article about dirty tactics and grappling that outlines many of the misunderstandings about dirty tactics in grappling.

How do we practice these techniques?

Most applications that we train tend to be dangerous, especially for our attacker. Therefore it is dangerous to practice those applications with full realism. I can’t shoot my training partner, and he probably wouldn’t enjoy wiping my spit from his face.

This is why in just about any type of training there is a separation of training the technique with training the application of it. In shooting I spend time on the range and dry-firing at home to build my gun handling skills, but to practice the application of self-defense I use Sims or inert trainers with a partner. This is not a perfect solution since a blue gun can’t simulate recoil, but it is a lot safer than introducing live fire to close quarters fighting.

The same applies to things like eye gouging. You can spend time practicing these techniques with an inert dummy (like a manikin, not your pal with the lowest IQ). Getting comfortable with the technique at full speed and power is important to being able to use it when you need it.

However, training techniques without any application is short sighted. Being able to practice applications against a non-cooperative adversary is key to ensuring the skill can work for you in real life. There are usually two options for working these skills with a partner. You can train full speed and power, but not strike your partner, or you can train slower with less power, and stop before hurting your partner.

Full Speed and Power

Training full speed and power with your partner usually means stopping short, or striking past your partner. This works best for things like kicks to the fronts of the knees. The benefit is that you get the effect of practicing to deliver the strike without hurting your partner. The downside is you might build a bad habit of striking short or missing your adversary.

Low Speed and Power

The other option is to go almost to full extension without fully impacting your partner. For example with an eye gouge I can execute the technique to the point of being ready to apply pressure. This helps me work on targeting and finding openings, but without the mess. This too can build bad habits so must we consider carefully how we use this in our training.

The best bet is to combine both methods. Either method requires you and your partner to have a foundation of trust and good communication. Nothing is more fun than dodging a face punch to move right into the path of the punch. There is no ideal way to train some of the most dangerous techniques, but you can get most of the way there.

What dangerous techniques do you train, and how do you train them?

High Speed Low Drag…At the Gas Station.

Photo by xandert

Does the order in which we do things really matter? And how important is it to be efficient when we go about accomplishing everyday tasks? Sometimes order and efficiency won’t help you, but sometimes they can mean the difference between life and death.

The military drills into young recruits a specific order for getting dressed. The idea is to ensure preparedness by making sure the necessary items like pants and shoes get on first. These methods are ingrained in the minds of fresh recruits so when under pressure (say in a sudden attack) they make the right choices in getting dressed. Going into battle without your pants is probably a bad thing in most cases.

I would assert that this same principle applies to other facets of our lives. If not to ensure we are best prepared for a given situation, an efficient process will at the very least save time and energy.

Getting Into and Out of Vehicles

You might not currently think of them this way, but vehicles are a death trap. They confine you into a small area and, worse yet, you are often in less than ideal circumstances when you are getting into and out of them. Two things are very important with a vehicle: be able to get out of it quickly, and be able to get into it quickly.

Streamlining embus and debus (getting into and out of vehicles respectively) is important because we want to minimize the time that we are preoccupied with our vehicle instead of our surroundings. You can practice these actions until they are second nature, but we want to make sure they are quick.

For me getting out of a vehicle begins with my left hand across my chest, slipping under the seat belt. My right hand immediately goes for the belt buckle. This position should be pretty familiar to any shooter who practices their draw stroke. My goal here is to clear the seat belt quickly, and efficiently.

Once there I unbuckle the belt with my right hand while sweeping the belt away with my left. If the vehicle is running, my right hand goes for the keys while my left makes its way to the door handle. By doing this I enable myself to very quickly transition from turning the vehicle off to opening the door.

The car is turned off, and I remove the key while my left hand opens the door fairly aggressively. I secure the door with my left foot, followed by my left hand. Once the door is secured from moving I can lift myself out of the vehicle and step back from the door, closing it with my left hand.

This whole process is mirrored for the passenger side. Getting into the vehicle is similar but in reverse. If possible I have my keys in hand prior to arriving at the vehicle. My left hand opens the door, and then posts it open. I get into the car, closing the door with my left hand. My right hand engages the key, and I put on my seat belt once rolling.

Efficiency getting into and out of a vehicle is a life saving skill, and the order in which you do things certainly does matter. Ultimately you want to minimize the amount of time you sit in a stationary vehicle. Like getting dressed, the order in which we complete the tasks associated with getting in or out of a vehicle should result in us accomplishing that task quickly, while also preventing us from getting caught with our pants down. If you want to learn more about embus and debus seek out instruction from Southnarc, I cannot recommend his classes highly enough.

ATMs

You probably already realize that an ATM is a great place to get mugged. You withdraw some money, immediately making you a valuable target. I prefer to use an ATM that has a door that closes (and locks) to an exposed ATM. The order in which you should do things to access this ATM will not change a whole lot either way.

When you roll up to an ATM you want to make sure you have your card ready. Whether it is to gain access to the ATM building or just the ATM itself, you’ll need it. You want to minimize exposure, and having the card ready before you get to the ATM is a great way to do this. Stopping at the ATM and hanging out in your car is not a good solution. Every moment you are fixated on something other than being aware of your surroundings increases the likelihood of finding yourself in a bad situation.

If you arrive in a vehicle, getting out of the vehicle quickly and efficiently is key. Get the card in the machine quickly, and use the down time where it is getting ready to request a pin to scan the surroundings. If all is safe, punch in the pin and get it done. Any time the ATM is processing and you are waiting for it, take advantage of this time to keep checking your surroundings. Get that card back as quickly as possible, and don’t worry about putting the money in your wallet or your card away until you are back in your vehicle and out of there.

If you are going the safer route and using an enclosed ATM, your job is much simpler. Having the card out means you can get into the building quickly, and get the door closed. Once inside you have a safer environment to take your time getting your money. Make sure you check your route on the way back out of the ATM before leaving. When you do leave, don’t stop to do something (this is not the time to tie your shoe, answer a call from your mom, or trim your fingernails), get right back in your car or head to your next destination.

Using an ATM presents many minor challenges and risks. These risks are mitigated by the efficiency with which you act.

Getting Gas

When you stop to get gas the same principles apply. We have yet another opportunity to get out of the car quickly and efficiently. Again, having your card (or cash) ready helps to minimize how long we spend interacting with the pump and our wallets (and perhaps the cashier) and maximize the amount of time we can spend with our heads up and alert.

Getting back into the vehicle works the same way. Get in efficiently, and get the car moving ASAP. If you are like my wife and NEED to put the card and receipt away before you drive off, get the doors locked, the car on, and put the car in drive before you start fiddling with your wallet. If a bad situation arises, you are only a pedal press away from putting the car in motion.

You can apply this concept to many facets of our lives. We can usually create a better tactical situation by finding ways to do things more efficiently. Knowing how to streamline your efforts and take advantage of better efficiency can minimize your exposure to risk and give you a much better chance of making it through the day.

The Quick Fix

Photo by Bob Rosenbaum

Not a day goes by without some offer of a quick fix solution somewhere on the internet. People peddle their online and DVD courses with claims that they will make you invincible. They might as well make claims that they can teach you to dodge bullets and kill people by looking at them.

What’s worse is that people buy into it.

There is no quick fix solution. No item you can buy or carry will protect you on the street, and no 1 hour course or DVD is going to magically give you the skills you need to make you an invulnerable harbinger of death.

Preparing to defend yourself is hard work. It requires countless hours of practice, buckets of sweat, bruises, blood, cuts, scratches, and a hell of a lot of soreness the next day.

Why are people so drawn to these claims of magical courses and tools?

I can only assume that as with most areas of our lives, we are drawn to the easy solution. Why work hard when I can just buy something to do the work for me? Why break a sweat when I can become an expert by watching something on my DVD player?

People are foolish and become drawn to the easy way out. This is the same reason why we have seen so many ponzi and pyramid schemes. You mean I can get rich and people will just send me money and all I need to do is X? Sure I’ll do it!

Don’t get drawn into these schemes. If you don’t need to work hard to get something, can it really be worth it? Avoid throwing your money away to some guy you just met on the internet.

Mission Statement

Today’s post marks the 50th post on this blog since I launched it back in December. While this isn’t a huge milestone by any means, I thought it would be a good time to refocus and define a mission statement. While this is sort of a line in the sand, my mission will always be changing as I learn about you (my readers) and what you are really looking for. Ultimately my mission is to serve my readers.

My mission

It is my mission with Indestructible Training to bring awareness to training. Too many people actively decide not to train because they have put their faith in equipment and expect that is enough to protect them from anything. Others have inactively determined that they have no need to train because ‘it can’t happen to them’. Through my writing and related activities I would like to convince these individuals that they do need to train if they want to be prepared for the dangers in the world.

It is my mission with Indestructible Training to motivate the casual student to become a serious student. To take the individual who might carry a firearm and practice once or twice a year and help them train more regularly and with better effect. To take the casual martial artist who might train purely for pleasure or competition and add a seriousness to their training so they focus on the real world and applying their skills to these scenarios.

It is my mission with Indestructible Training to support the serious student and help them get more from their training. To help them decide which drills and exercises to perform. To assist in developing training plans. To inform them about training mindset.

It is my mission with Indestructible Training to provide motivation, tips, tools, and information to anyone who might train and wants to take their training to the next level. I recognize that not everyone will want to spend every waking moment training, so I want to help make everyone’s training, whether an hour a year or 10 hours a day, as effective as possible.

It is my mission with Indestructible Training to help improve my readers’ ability to survive violent confrontation through improving their training. I recognize that training in itself does not make someone indestructible, but by making training well-rounded and properly orchestrated, the chances of survival can be greatly increased.

Finally, it is my mission with Indestructible Training to help you! To answer your questions, to help start and continue the discussion about what you need to improve your training.

Do You Know How To Get Out?

Image by j. botter

When visiting the doctor’s office recently, I discovered a weakness in my own preparedness and situational awareness. After walking to the exam room, I realized that I had lost track of how I got there.

This reminded me of several of the biographies I’ve read about Miyamoto Musashi. For those that don’t know, Musashi was one of the greatest swordsmen to have ever lived. He was a brilliant strategist and was extremely paranoid (and rightfully so). In these biographies I remember reading about how he would size up any building prior to entering. He noted where doors and windows were located and considered how he might escape from the building.

Know your exits

We should all try to employ this concept in life. Knowing where fire escapes and exits are located is always a good idea in any building. In the event of a fire or natural disaster, you will know where to go to get out quickly. In an active shooter scenario, you want to know how to get out and where to direct friends, family, or bystanders to get them out of harm’s way.

For a small building you can size it up prior to entering. For a large building, you need to constantly and consistently be building a mental map of the building. Always know how to return the way you came as well as noting emergency exits, windows, etc.

Training the skill

Practicing this is relatively low cost, but the opportunities might be rather limited. Remind yourself any time you are going somewhere unfamiliar that you should be constantly be taking these mental notes.

You can test and improve on this skill by randomly spot checking these notes. At any given point wherever you are, try to identify all your possible exit paths. You should aim to have at least three different ways to get out of a given building or area. If you are having trouble doing so, you need to pay closer attention.

Even better, try using these mental notes if the opportunity arises. If you feel confident about your navigational skills, try finding an alternative route out using the intelligence you gathered earlier. Test your ability to find a way out (so long as you can do so safely and without ruffling too many feathers).

Avoid being trapped in a strange place by knowing your exits ahead of time. Identify possible exit routes so you can get out at a moment’s notice. If you ever need to get out of a building quickly it will be far easier, and you will remain calmer knowing your exits ahead of time.

Do you identify your exits when entering an unknown building? How do you track your exits? Please share your knowledge in the comment section below.

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