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Digilentia Vis Celeritas
Accuracy, Power, Speed.
Col. Jeff Cooper came up with this phrase with his characteristic academic flare.
He saw students struggle to get lead on target as quickly as possible.
Bigger calibers translated into bigger guns with greater weight. All of that cumbersome architecture must surely translate into slower draw strokes.
At least that was the thinking among the uninitiated.
Cooper articulated a phrase: “You cannot miss fast enough”.
This about sums it up.
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Speed as an “end all goal” is a recipe for disaster. The end result is chaos.
Speed as a byproduct of smoothness and efficiency is a far more satisfactory and repeatable achievement.
Our range and dry fire practice is like Tibetan sand art. The final picture is interesting, but inherently transient.
The goal is mastery of the process, not the product.
We drill and we drill and we drill so that we learn the methodology necessary for the most efficient application of our movements.
Then we commit those movements to muscle memory.
Efficiency is defined as the least amount of movements necessary to perform an action.
We study our movements and discard all superfluous aspects of our presentation, refining our draw to the most basic of elements. Through this distillation of efficiency we begin to arrive at the first inklings of true speed.
The irony is that the smoother we become the slower we feel we are.
Those around us see our draw as a mechanized blur... but we feel that we could always move just a little bit faster.
It is here that we find what is perhaps our greatest challenge: Allaying the desire to push our speed, and a re-dedicated effort to perfect our smoothness.
Those that are able to find this maturity are the ones that become the truly “fast”.
The caliber of the firearm, the size of the gun, all of the variables associated with gadgetry and technological advancement will not in the end translate to repeatable increases in speed.
That only comes with a mastery of the fundamentals.
Our first goal must be to hit the target each and every time (Diligentia).
For our defensive gun use, we need to assure that we are using a caliber sufficient enough to stop a threat (Vis).
Finally, we perfect our smoothness and we find that we have increased our speed.... the last component of our triad. (Celeritas)
Chaney... our daughter had her first real strenuous hunt this past week.
Up until now, her time afield has been limited to relatively short hunts on local exotics or small game. Her most adventurous hunt had been a bison taken in New Mexico a couple of years ago.
That ended with a respectable single shot from 125 yards on a standing bull with my 30.06.
This last week, we traveled to Colorado for an elk and mule deer hunt.
We knew going in, this was going to be tough.
At 9800 feet in elevation, our ability to physically perform as we do at sea level was going to be effected.
Add to that, the reality that we were going to be moving around quite a bit looking for the game as well as the cold weather... we knew we were going to be in for it.
She saw elk... actually, quite a lot of them... but there were no real chances to ethically take a bull.
This is important.
This thirteen year old girl had to exercise both patience as well as ethical judgment. All while enduring some grueling physical conditions.
On day four of our five day hunt, she saw an opportunity to take an excellent buck. The rub was that he was standing at 300 yards out... a distance she had never shot before.
She knelt, planted her elbow slightly ahead of her left knee and used an Aspen tree as a side mount to steady her rifle.
Placing the crosshairs of her scope on her new .270 rifle between the top of the buck's shoulder and and the bottom of his spine (to compensate for bullet drop for the extended distance)... she touched off a round.
She hit him exactly where she had been aiming!
He ran about thirty yards before piling up in some bushes and bleeding out.
She was both thrilled and shocked at her ability to make the shot.
I was not.
She had been practicing with our AR rifles on our simulators for weeks focusing on steadiness and good trigger control.
She had also been practicing on non standard shooting positions... trying to mimic in our lab the types of shooting positions she might encounter in the field.
Shooting off of a bench at the range will show you your rifle is zeroed properly, but unless you are going to haul a bench around with you while hunting, it will not give you the same type of shooting practice you will need while afield.
Many of our law enforcement clients come into Artemis to practice their marksmanship (especially with their patrol rifles) prior to their qualification shoots. They all report enhanced scores and greater confidence. This training DOES translate into the real world.
Chaney is the first to testify to that.
But this trip also showed me something else... something that we as a society are deeply in need of.
This thirteen year old girl endured physical hardships, hours of solitude requiring enhanced mental acuity, and the ability to maintain the cognitive skills necessary to analyze a fluid situation and, on more than one occasion, the ability to decide not to shoot.
For four days she hiked, struggled, sat, tried to keep warm, tried to keep dry, tried to glass for game, tried to catch her breath, and ultimately basked in the glow of success... all without electricity, running water, her Iphone, Instagram or Facebook.
I cannot tell you for certain that she “grew” as a person during that hunt. I think she had already achieved her growth before we ever left for the long drive to Colorado.
What I do know is that she displayed an evidence of that growth during those four days on the mountain.
She now knows that her abilities have been expanded.
She knows how to read the animals, how to interact with them, and act not as an observer of nature, but as a participant.
She also knows that her operational range of shooting is now beyond the 100 yard sphere that until now was her comfort zone.
She also has a new love for her Savage 110 .270 rifle that she has now named “Four Point”.
IMPROPER MUZZLE DISCIPLINE
Rule # 2 : Never let the muzzle cover anything that you are not prepared to destroy.
This seems pretty cut and dried right?
I mean seriously! Who would ever carelessly point a gun at someone? Especially at the range?
(Con't Reading from here)
I have had the displeasure of looking down the barrel of our Glocks at Artemis numerous times.
Before each group session we go over the four safety rules. Everyone nods in agreement. We mention that people tend to get excited after one of our simulations and tend to point the gun at places they shouldn’t.
The experienced shooters chuckle knowing they would never do that! The new shooters just kind of stare at us wondering how anyone would be so stupid!
Then they get into their first force on force engagement.
Something seems to happen when a trainee finishes their first simulated deadly force encounter. Once the scenario ends they seem to forget that they are holding a weapon in their hand and they begin to wave it around pointing it at anything and everything.
As you can imagine this is a potentially catastrophic.
It also can reinforce negative training scars.
The more you perform an action the more ingrained it becomes to muscle memory.
There is a famous story about a police officer that wanted to practice gun take away drills. His department did not offer the training so he was on his own. He bought a blue gun (an inert training gun) and had his wife point the gun at him. He would take it from her then return it to her to try again.... and again... and again.
Eventually he found himself on duty with an assailant pointing a gun at him. He quickly initiated his training and took the gun from the assailant. Then... as a result of some massive negative training scars... handed the gun back to him. (Fortunately, his partner was there to stop anything really bad from happening from the threat who I can only assume had a look of massive surprise and shock on his face.)
We must take our training seriously.... all aspects of it. Muzzle discipline reminds us that we are in fact training and building skill sets.
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“You look too feminine to be a firearms instructor”
That was what a dealer at the River City Casino said to me after finding out what I did for a living.
While I sat there for the next hour... my goal was to be a positive ambassador to all firearms owners...
This last weekend, I attended The Well Armed Women’s Instructor Certification training in St. Louis, MO.
Along with 15 other women from across the country, we gathered and discussed how working with female student is quite different from working with a male.
To date... many of us female instructors have been trained by men... we have had to learn what we could from men... and daily we interact with more male clients than females when it comes to firearm instruction.
It never dawned on me that I may not quite know how to teach a woman about firearms... especially if their interest is fairly new to this sport...
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This is where I find Well Armed Women to be such an asset to our growing community.
If you haven’t seen the info-graphics on who is picking up the sport of shooting firearms... check it out here... http://www.nssfblog.com/nssf-infographic-the-changing-face-of-todays-target-shooter/
So... for those of you women who are interested in getting into firearms... or you men... who want to help your wives, girlfriends, or daughters into the world of firearms... here are some do’s and don’t that you need to adhere to...
- Remember, women are built differently... in general... we have smaller hands... smaller body frames... we are curvy, we have weak upper body strength, we have breasts and we have a different center of gravity.
-Understand that becoming “self protectors” is a new concept for us... we have always relied on our fathers, our brothers, the police and our knight in shining armor... now we are being taught to rely on ourselves... for many of us this is a foreign concept.
-Know that many of us do not intuitively understand things when it comes to mechanical processes, therefore how a firearm works may not be an easy concept... so please show me with something that I can relate to...Don’t forget that we are naturally nurturers and caregivers... we don’t want to hurt anyone... in fact, we are just the opposite... that’s why when we accidentally hurt you... we are so quick to apologize.
-We are more defensive in nature.
-We have women’s intuition... and have great instinct... however we have adapted into being in a polite society thinking that people will not harm us.
-Understand that we learn best by taking small bites in sequential order... once we have mastered it, then you can move on to the next step... men are great at picking something up... and filling in all the holes... We love to talk... so keep us engaged by asking us questions... how are you doing?... what do you think?... did you understand?... what can I go over again to insure that you got it? As you listen, you will hear our apprehensions if any.
-Remember, we are always hard on ourselves... and until we get validation that we are doing a good job... we are not always confidant to move on.
-If you want to convince us to learn to use the firearm... you will need to guide our thought process, but let us make the decision to do so.
-Know that we follow instructors well.
-Know that we need to understand what to expect. If you take us to a range for the first time... tell me about the other shooters, tell me that the brass flying out of the firearm is what it is suppose to do... tell me that firearms are really loud.
-Know that we women may not be as fast of a shooter as you, but in general have proven to be more accurate of a shooter then most men.
-Teach me without an audience... if there is an audience, be sure that they are women just like me.
-Assume that I want everything pink.
-Let me buy a firearm for concealed carry until I know if I will carry concealed first.
-Tell me what gun to get... your hand me down may not necessarily be the best handgun for me... let me try them out... and I will let you know which fits my hand well.
-Assume you understand why I want the firearm in the first place.
-Don’t assume that a .38 snubnose revolver will be my perfect fit...Load up the firearm and hand it over to me... you may not be there... when I need it.
-Please do not teach me the tea cup method... it really does not provide additional support for me and I don’t want to look ridiculous!
Sandy Lieberman is the co-owner of the Artemis Defense Institute certified to teach NRA and TWAW programs. She is also FEMA certified for Active Shooter and Emergency Management. She handles the business aspects of the Artemis Defense Institute. Sandy will be working with the local TWAW chapters to help spread the word and train more women.
Badges? We don’t need no stinkin’ badges!
Well... maybe you do.
One of the first questions I get when a newly minted CCW holder comes into Artemis is whether or not they should consider getting a CCW badge.
The hesitancy usually comes from the fear that they are going to be nabbed for impersonating a police officer... a felony.
To add to the confusion “experts” they have read on the internet call you a moron if you disagree with their position that you either should or should not carry a badge.
Full disclosure.... I carry one.
I also carry it in a place that is the least likely to be effective for the reasons I carry. But I do it anyway, because the alternative of not wearing it is worse.
First off, let’s talk about the argument for not carrying one:
The two arguments come down to this:
It is illegal to attempt to impersonate a police officer... and since you have a badge you are clearly attempting to impersonate a police officer.
From a civil liability standpoint the last thing in the world you want is to look like you were “itching” for a fight... the badge might make members of the jury think you were a wannabe Wyatt Earp.
The argument for carrying one:
I don’t want to die.
That pretty much sums it up.
First off... the reason I carry a badge is pretty simple... God forbid, I’m in a situation where I have my gun out and a bad guy is at gunpoint, I want the responding officer to realize as quickly as possible (ideally before he pumps lead into me) that I am authorized to have a firearm.
The quickest, easiest, and most universal way to communicate this: A badge.
Yeah... but what if someone thinks you are a cop? Only cops carry badges right?
Security guards, fireman, city council members, union reps, and little children who get them as stickers from Knott’s Berry Farm carry badges.
No one thinks that they are impersonating a police officer.
You see... impersonating a police officer is a specific intent crime. You have to be engaged in actions that positively show you are intending for someone to reasonably believe you are a police officer.
Many people tell me “I look like a cop” (must be the polished bald head... it is the only thing I can think of).
Would it be reasonable, if a police officer came up to me and asked me for my ID then began to arrest me? Incredulously I ask him: what is he doing? He tells me he is arresting me for impersonating a police officer.
“That woman over there... she told me she thought you looked like a cop. I checked your ID and you’re not... so I’m arresting you.”
I did nothing, other than be bald to make someone reasonably believe I was a police officer, and I took no steps to exercise authority over anyone.
Like my gun, my badge MUST remain concealed. It comes out only when my gun comes out.... and If we have gotten to this point, I really could care less if someone thinks I am cop...
I have only one thing on my mind: staying alive.
If I survive this encounter, then I can worry about any other fallout.
If someone is driving recklessly, would I pull out my badge and show it to them to get them to slow down?
Let me answer the question this way: Would you pull out your gun and show it to them?
The answer is obviously no.
You treat the badge just like the gun... keep it concealed, unless you absolutely need it to save your life.Now... I mentioned earlier that I don’t wear it in the best place.
I wear it on my belt in front of my gun. I wear it there because it bothers me too much to wear it around my neck.
Still... around my neck, under my shirt, is the best place.
A responding officer is going to be looking at my hands when he decides to shoot or not to shoot. I want that badge in my hands if at all possible.... not on my belt line.
So... if like me you get irritated with the feel of a badge against your chest moving around under your shirt you have some practice to do.
Like the unique process of drawing a firearm from concealment requires practice, so does figuring out how to get a badge off of your belt and into your hand.
There is only one remedy for the fumbling and bumbling.... practice practice practice.
Anyhow... like with a CCW, the decision to carry a badge is ultimately a personal one.
Range Training - Outdoor Range Work
So last week I talked about my indoor range work.
Two of our clients had been in and were asking about specific live fire training protocols.
Rather than just blasting away at a paper or steel target they wanted to know if I had a specific methodology to my live fire work.
Last week I wrote about indoor range practice. To summarize, the indoor range is an opportunity to check the functionality of my firearm and make sure that my shooting fundamentals are in place.
I do not consider indoor range work to be an opportunity for tactical training.
Outdoor range work is different.
When I arrive at an outdoor range and I begin to set up my targets I am doing so with the intention of recreating a hostile environment.
To begin with I am going to start shooting cold.
(If you arrived here from our email, continue reading here:)
I am not going to have the luxury of shooting a few rounds off to “warm up” if someone decides to attack me... It makes sense that practice my ability to quickly come out of the holster and engage multiple targets “cold”.
I will also make sure that every time I draw I am moving....somehow.
Typically I will take a lateral step off the line before drawing my firearm and engaging the target.
There are times when this is not practical, and for those drills I have other movement elements to the training.
As a general rule though I want to constantly be moving while shooting. I also want to practice shooting fast.
Col. Jeff Cooper stated that statistically it will take a minimum of two rounds to stop a threat. It only makes sense to practice consistently placing two rounds into a target. I will do this using both “controlled pairs” as well as “hammer drills”
(A controlled pair are two shots fired using three sight pictures, a hammer is two shots fired with two sight pictures.... that may sound confusing... basically it means that I’m usually using a hammer when up close, and a controlled pair when there is distance.)
I also want to practice shooting from cover and concealment.
This only makes sense.
My first order of business in a use of force situation is to get the hell out and call for back up.
If that is not applicable or advisable I want to move to cover as quickly as possible.
Standing in a static box and throwing rounds into a static target might make for pretty targets, but it does not ensure survivability.
Actually, it can be counter-productive.
The more I perform and action, the greater the likelihood that action will become ingrained into muscle memory.
I live in 2014.... not 1793.
While duels are elegant, and in many respects more honorable then todays methods of dispute resolution... they are not tactically sound.
More to the point I’m not interested in fighting a fair fight.
There are no rules to this game, only aggression and a determination to prevail.
To enhance the chances of survival I want to make it as difficult as possible for bad guy to put lead into me.
There are only two ways that I know of that can make this happen: Shooting from cover quickly with good hits to stop the threat before he knows my position, and shooting while moving, making it difficult for bad guy to get lead onto me, while at the same time placing stopping shots into his fixed position.
Both of these require practice, and that is what this outdoor range was designed for.
I’m also dropping magazines, crawling, rolling, crying and bleeding... (well...maybe not bleeding)... basically everything that might manifest in a gunfight I want to do my best to rehearse as accurately as possible.
Go to outdoor ranges... practice, practice and practice again.
These shooting bays are proving grounds for you.
Push yourself to your failure point and learn exactly where and when this point manifests.
I really am not all that interested in “how well” I perform under pressure.... I want to know exactly where I "fall apart" under pressure.
This knowledge will help to keep me alive.
Range practice. (Indoor)
Imagine a formula one racer.
To make sure that she is in top form she not only needs to make sure her car is in top racing order she needs to practice her racing skills constantly.
She also needs to practice eye hand coordination skills that may not at first blush look like they relate at all to racing.Still... to make sure that she has a winning edge she develops a training regime.
You happen to see her in her garage where her race car sits idling on a diagnostic tester. Every couple of seconds she revs the engine and checks the dials. You ask her what she is doing. She replies that she is training.
Interested you ask what other type of training she does.
She looks at you confused...
“This is pretty much it.”
Chances are she has yet to win a race.
This seems to be the same type of training most of us do when we hit the live fire range. This is especially true if we go to a public indoor range.
When I go to our local indoor range I usually see people in the bays shooting at silhouette targets, standing in some form of a Modern Isosceles or Weaver Stance blasting away one round per second (in compliance with standard indoor range rules).
When they are done they take out their magazine and place it on the shelf in front of them and then bring forward their target and beam at their magnificent marksmanship skills.
The other day two of our clients Dan and Pat were in ADI working on moving drills and Dan asked me if I had a specific training regimen when I go to a live fire range.
He said that he has always wondered about this since usually when he goes to a range he just burns through a box or two of ammo.
Pat was curious also, since he rarely goes to an indoor range and instead opts for the outdoor range where he can move, shoot quickly without limitations, shoot from a holster and drop magazines.
The fact that Dan asked me this.... and Dan is a very very experienced shooter.... made me realize that most people don’t have a specific regime when it comes to practice. Hence the impetus for this article.
Indoor Range:There is a difference between indoor and outdoor shooting.
I use indoor ranges as a proving ground for my weapons system... outdoor ranges are a proving ground for me.
I have a specific course of fire when I go to an indoor range:
First I start off with a circular bullseye target... ideally one with minute of angle squares. I’m going to be limited to one shot per second so I am not even going to pretend that I am “training” here.
I want to make sure that my firearm is 100% functional and that my basic fundamentals are in tact.
I will fill four magazines with rounds... and buried somewhere in each one lies an inert snap cap.
Then I will mix up the magazines and lay them on the bench in front of me...all to the left with my gun in the center action open.
I will then insert the first magazine and slowly shoot into the center of the bullseye with the target set a minimum of 12 feet out.
Very slow, deliberate shooting using trigger resets.
When I reach the snap cap I want to see if I muzzle down during the trigger press.
If I am then this is the entire type of shooting I will be doing today.
If not... then I will finish off the magazine and move onto the next.
If I get a failure to feed or any other malfunction I will take that magazine and put it off to the far right. When I am done with all of my magazines I will reload it and try to determine if I have a reoccurring problem with that magazine.
Assuming no problems with the mags and no muzzling down on my shots I will then take a silhouette target and send it out to at least 25 feet.
From this distance I will do a series of failure drills hitting the target with controlled pairs.
Once I’ve worked through all four magazines (usually with two targets - magazines 1 and 2 on target 1 and magazines 3 and 4 on target 2) I pack up and go home.
I am now 100% convinced that my weapon is functional and my fundamentals are in play.
Did I train? Perhaps to an extent...
like the formula one racer at the beginning everything is "training".
However the only thing I know for certain is that my weapon works.
I still need to visit an outdoor range to really “train”.
Next week we will discuss my training regime when outdoors.
You have chosen to attempt to victimize me.
You have made a calculated decision that you will use violence, or the threat of violence to coerce, intimidate or neutralize me so that you can receive some gratification that you could not achieve through civilized persuasion.
The fact that you have sized me up and created a calculus that ends with you prevailing is disturbing.
Either I have radiated a signal that I am capable of being victimized, or you are an incredibly incompetent decision maker.
Either way, here we are... When this is over and I have survived, I will need to take a hard look at my actions and bearing that led you to believe that I was victim material.
But that will have to wait.
Right now I have to deal with you.
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The fact that you feel that your life has more relevancy, more justification, more entitlement than mine is annoying... wrong... but just annoying.
I really couldn’t care less about how you arrived at your world view at this point.
What really pisses me off is that you have attempted to assert dominance over me.
Your actions have deeply offended me. Not the type of offense the professional victims cry out when the slightest criticism, or inelegant phrase demeans a group.
No... this is red hot, personal, pissed off, “who the hell do you think you are?” righteous indignation.
And now you and I are about to go to war.
Col. Jeffery Cooper outlined 7 fundamentals of personnel defense. They are:
We have arrived at “Aggressiveness”.
When you decided that I would be your victim you probably assumed that I would either freeze, or try to negotiate, and ultimately to submit to your wants. (Or I would be incapacitated by your attack and unable to act.)
I will instead choose another option:
I am going to destroy you.
The rage that I now have for you is barely containable. You dare rob me of my life? Rob my family of my presence? Effect my psychological well being, or the psychological well being of my family?
Screw you pall. I’m sending you to Hell.
I will respond to your act of aggression with a counter attack that is so aggressive, so relentless, and so total your ancestors will feel the pain from the great beyond and will look down on you with total disgust that their DNA has been degraded to such an extent that you hold the banner of their clan.
If you survive this experience.... and quite frankly it is totally irrelevant to me at this point if you do... you will carry the physical and psychological scars of this encounter for the rest of your life.
You grabbed a tiger by its tail compadre.... and now you must deal with the teeth and claws.
When... if... you even realize that you are under a serious threat to your continued existence you will have one of five possible responses to the destruction that rains down upon you.
You will attempt to fight. (Good luck with that).
You may flee. (This is probably going to be your response since you are a coward at heart... but this will save you. For once you cease to be a threat to me, I will instantly cease to be a threat to you. I use force to stop a threat. If you flee from my presence you have by definition stopped being a threat).
You may possibly freeze. (Works for me... thanks for standing still and making this easier).
You may try to posture. (This is cute. You’ve pissed me off so much do you really think that you puffing out your chest is going to make any difference to me at all?).
Or you may submit. (This might work... but you will have to be convincing beyond all doubt... and frankly I’m so angry right now I might be having a difficult time containing myself.)
In any event, most of the outcomes above end with me calling 911 and having your broken body taken away by emergency services.
I will be victorious. I will embrace my righteous indignation and use the fierce energy it yields to devastate you. Then when it is over I will embrace my family and thank the heavens and providence that I am with them for another day.
Training for a higher purpose.
If you are reading this you probably have some degree of an established warrior ethos.
You listen to tales of heroism, and swell with pride and admiration that a member of our species is capable of acts to bravery and self sacrifice in the face of danger.
When the hero manifests from the ranks of the unlikely there is a greater degree of surprise, admiration, and humility.
“If someone like him could summon the strength and courage to perform such bravery perhaps there is hope for someone like me.”
Call it the antithesis of confidence... yet it still motivates us.
Would Audie Murphy have achieved such monolithic status among the Magnificent Warriors if he had stood 6’2” and weighed in at 250lbs?
But his tiny stature and his acts of bravery and ruthlessness in WWII make him even more mythical.
It also reminds us that the warrior ethos is an internal phenomenon.
What is interesting is that the adoption of that warrior ethos can and will effect our outward appearance.
Today at the gym I ran into a good friend of mine.
He was, in a past life, a professional football player. He is now a high level executive with a major aeronautics company. While he still looks unbelievably intimidating for a man pushing 50 he may not have the exact same physique he had while an offensive guard for the 49ers.
Still he works out regularly.
He asked me if my dedication to the gym comes from an effort to control my type 1 diabetes.
The control I get over my blood sugar from working out is at best a side benefit.
My 30 inch waist is also an unintended, albeit fortunate consequence.
I don’t work out to achieve a good looking physique.
I have a good looking physique because I work out.
The guys at 5.11 Tactical have a phrase.... “Training for a higher purpose”
I like that.
It sums up what I do.
I am a weapons trainer. My job is to provide people a forum and lab to develop the skills necessary to save their lives and the lives of their loved ones.
While we may spend time with the mechanical tools of a handgun, a taser, or oc spray, the first, singular and prime weapon that each of our clients possess is their body/mind warrior ethos.
We need to keep that weapon... as well as all of our weapons in the best condition possible.
I train in the gym not to loose, (or in my case gain) weight.
I train because someday I may need to carry a stranger out of a burning building.
I train for a higher purpose.
My weight, the fit of my clothes, the control I get over my blood sugar... Those are blessed unintended consequences... nothing more.
Live your life with the understanding that you are a sheepdog... a protector... a guardian and embrace that responsibility.
Know your weapons and keep them in the best condition possible.
By design of our society you never know when you will be called upon to stand up against the wolves that threaten the sheep.
If you are the best marksman around, but can’t carry a wounded brother or sister to safety you’ve lost sight of the larger picture.
Train train train... for a higher purpose.
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