Archive | Tactics and Training

Review: Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training 3rd Edition

This review of the book Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training is going to get a bit personal… not because I enjoy spewing a lot of personal information or because I want to drone on about myself. It will get personal because I’ll be honest about my fitness levels in order to give you a real measuring stick for what this book/program might be able to do for you.

Everything Before Starting Strength

I played sports growing up, especially soccer. I played several intramural sports in college and was very active in the years immediately following college. I spent some time lifting in high school, college, and beyond but mostly without aim or guidance.

Once I was married and settled into a sedentary job, I spent several years with little to no exercise and I paid the price in weight gain. I lost a significant amount of weight about 6 years ago through diet and exercise.

For the last 2 years, I have used kettlebells, sandbags, rucking, hiking, and a little running to keep the weight at bay or at least stay in shape to hike which I really enjoy. I naively thought that, through these types of training, I was building strength and to some degree I probably was. However, it wasn’t until the end of last year that I realized how weak I was allowing myself to become.

When everyone else investing guns, ammo, and magazines in advance of the election, I decided to invest in my long-term strength and capability. I viewed getting stronger as another, maybe even more important, form of prepping. I began filling out the missing pieces of a home weight lifting gym and researching a program to start. In November of 2020, 1 month before my 40th birthday, I started the Starting Strength Novice Linear Progression.

After Starting Strength

The first session, when I established my first work set weights, was humbling. My numbers were low. I was immediately confronted with how naive I had been about training. My first work sets were 165 lb low bar squats, 185 lb deadlift, and 135 lb bench press. That’s a sub-500 lb total for those who are keeping track. I was, for the first time, confronted with a quantifiable measure of my weakness and this focus on the measurable is something that is central to Starting Strength. These numbers are not at all ambiguous. These numbers don’t lie.

I found the book to be fairly easy to understand. When there was something that I did have a question about, I found that my question was likely answered somewhere on the web already. This a major strength of this program. It is extremely well supported with years worth of instructive and diagnostic videos as well as active forums where there is a good chance someone has already asked your question.

I would even go so far as to characterize this book as simple. I don’t mean simple as in lacking depth. The book doesn’t lack depth at all. It dives more than deep enough into each of the core movements and your initial programming. I mean simple in that, after you have read the book, it can be tempting to think you need to do more than what it says to do. You are basically just going to squat, deadlift, bench press, over head press 3 times a week, adding weight to the movements nearly every time. That isn’t much of an oversimplification.

I had to learn to trust the process in this book and its simplicity. I initially tried to do more like do conditioning intervals on days between lifting. I quickly found that this was spoiling my lifts and slowing progress. The Novice Linear Progression seems to provide quick results for most untrained people but it is somewhat demanding in the pace of its increases so any work outside of the program might screw with your progress… at least if you are an untrained 40 year old like me.

Once I settled into the program, results came quickly like the book said they would. You have a lot of room for improvement when starting as weak as I did. I passed a 600 lb total in less than 30 days and passed a 700 lb total in another 30. As of the time of this writing, I am just short of a 900 lb total. All of these numbers are for work sets, not max lifts. I haven’t tried heavy singles in a while so there is a good chance my total is actually higher than 900 lb.

I realize that a lot of you are putting up much larger numbers than that. We all know everyone on the internet has a supermodel wife, six-figure income, 12″ hog, and 1200 lb powerlifting total but those numbers represent a lot of hard work for me. I’ve added about 400 lbs to my totals in less than 3 months and I feel pretty good about that.

In addition to increasing my lifts, I’ve also noted body composition changes. I gained almost 10 lb but actually lost inches from my waist. I had to buy a new weight lifting belt to accommodate my narrower midsection.

Now that winter has lost its grip on North Idaho, my goals are changing. I will continue to lift but slow my progress on increasing them while starting to work in more conditioning. I’ve mostly neglected conditioning over the winter in favor of gaining strength and now I need to build that back into my routine. The amazing mountains around here aren’t going to climb themselves.

Wrap Up

This review is very experiential and it lacks a lot of depth. I am not sure I will ever become the guy who can name every muscle group and tell you about micro nutrients. I think that is part of why Starting Strength works for me. It is written to be a starting point for weak, untrained people.

I think the bottom line on Starting Strength is that, if you want to build a solid foundation of strength, it works. If this book starts a life-long passion for powerlifting, great. If it just serves as an instructional guide for being less weak, that’s great too.

I bought my copy of Starting Strength on Amazon – Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training 3rd Edition (affiliate link)

2 Life-Like High Contrast Shooting Targets for Your Thermal Sights

The following is a post from the IR.TOOLS blog regarding the selection of passive or powered thermal targets for training. IR.TOOLS offers a variety of thermal training targets and this can help end users decide which target will best meet their training needs…

Printed Passive Thermal Shooting Target

The swell of thermal sights on weapons has introduced a whole new line of shooting targets.

Passive Thermal and Powered Thermal targets are now taking center stage for thermal sight training. Soldiers, police, and sportsmen are sharpening their shots by training with these high contrast thermal targets. Both the Passive thermal and Powered thermal targets offer clear benefits to expand your training regimen. 

But deciding which target best suits your training depends on your personal criteria.  There are a few questions to answer before you proceed: 

  • Are you training inside or outside? 
  • What is your budget? 
  • How easy is it to set up?
  • What safety measures should I take?
Powered Thermal Shooting Target

Are you shooting targets inside or outside?

Passive Thermal:  This target is outside only. Taking this target inside is not an option. The no power option works only outside in the open, and leaning back at a 15º angle. For instance attaching it vertically to a tree trunk would hinder the contrast. 

Like a fisherman, you will want to check the weather forecast. The best contrast is seen on a clear, cloudless day. Also you will want to avoid days when the temperature of the sky and ground are the same, such as winter time.

Powered Thermal: This target will work inside, outside and obstructed areas.  The target is not affected by clouds or temperatures. Therefore, the target maintains a consistent contrast regardless of the environment. Your target training is seldom interrupted because of weather conditions. 

How much will it cost me?

Passive Thermal: The absence of a power source results in less cost to operate. After your initial purchase, which is dependent on the size and volume of targets, expenses are minimal. You can extend the life of a target with low cost thermal pasters. Depending on size of caliber expect over 500 rounds of high contrast shooting. 

Powered Thermal: The heating element in the thermal target as well as the extra cables, batteries, etc will add extra cost.  Like the passive target, thermal pasters will extend the life of the target. Depending on size of caliber expect over 1000 rounds of high contrast shooting.

How easy is it to use?

Passive Thermal:  The Passive target travels light and you will like the flexibility. Peel and Stick or staple the passive target onto any target backer.  The target needs no power source to produce a high contrast image to shoot.

The placement options are vast. Just remember it needs to lean back 15º towards the sky.  Your positioning to shoot the target must be at 90º ( directly in front of it).

Powered Thermal: The powered thermal target requires a handful of logistics and pre-planning before engaging because  you will need to secure a power source, cables, extension cords, and or batteries.  The target is light, portable and takes just 4 minutes to power up the life-like high contrast.  

Because of the power element, the target does not need to lean at a 15º.  Your positioning to the target can range from 90º-15º and multiple shooters can shoot at the same time.  

What are my safety concerns?

Passive Thermal: Put aside any worries about electric shock or fire because it will not happen. The passive target is extremely safe.

Powered Thermal: Extra safety precautions need to be taken. Misuse or mishandling of targets could lead to electric shock, injury or fire. The higher the voltage(120v) the more dangerous the shock. Warnings and precautions should be reviewed and adhered to at all times. 

Unmatched high contrast guaranteed!

As you can see, there are pros and cons for each of your training choices. 

One thing we can guarantee, when used as directed, each training target will provide an unmatched life-like high contrast you seek. 

If you need help evaluating your training scenarios to determine the best option, contact us and we will help you!

Stay safe!


G3D Printables Training Knives and Dummy Rounds

I recently came across G3D Printables and was struck by what a clever use of 3D printing technology it is. They make training items like dummy rounds and training knives – items that have traditionally been expensive when you consider how simple they are. G3D Printables is able to offer them at extremely affordable prices thanks to the efficiencies offered by 3D printing.

In addition to the cost benefits, there are also benefits in the accuracy they can achieve in reproducing something like a knife. They are also able to print using different materials to achieve different results like both hard and flexible versions of knife trainers.

If all of that isn’t interesting enough, they can also take on custom prints so they may be able to help you create a trainer or dummy round for a one-off custom knife or oddball cartridge. This could also offer opportunities for custom knife makers to offer affordable trainers for their designs without having to produce them in-house. They recently completed a collaboration with Wingard Wearables to create a trainer for the Quill.

G3D Printables website:

IR.Tools™ Release New Thermal Powered Targets

CROFTON, MD – July 29, 2020 – Established in 2006, IR.Tools, a leading provider of IR (infrared) protection for the Military and Law Enforcement, first offered a ¾” infrared patch sewn on every military uniform in the United States. Shortly after, they became a leading provider for infrared technology, with passive infrared patches, markers, and shooting targets for night vision and thermal image operations all over the world. Tom Boyer, owner and lead engineer, jumped at the opportunity to add powered targets to his suite of high contrast passive shooting targets.

We now provide our optics customers a one stop shop for all their thermal targets. Passive or Powered we will service them with a premium thermal target.

Tom Boyer, Owner, IR. Tools

Set to release on July 15, this new powered thermal target heated with proprietary Fabroc® technology is nearly indestructible. Constructed with a rubber like material, it has no wires to short circuit from bullet penetration.  Powering up on a 12 or 24-volt battery, the integrity of this lightweight, heat-efficient target remains intact for over 500 rounds, with a consistent thermal image and no flaring to disrupt training exercises.

What makes this thermal shooting target so unique is its durability. Fort Bragg, NC, has been shooting at the same Fabroc™ targets for 9-years. And IR.Tools aims to provide this stand-out IR target to the military, special forces, law enforcement, hunters, and recreational sportsmen alike.

The unmatched number of shots it takes while maintaining a clear, realistic image to shoot is incredible.

Range Manger Fort Bragg

Not only are these powered thermal targets necessary for training, but they are easy to use. Their longevity means they are cost-effective. Now you can have a safe powered thermal target that lasts during some of the more complex training options, such as shoot, no-shoot scenarios.

You can purchase the powered thermal shooting target for an MSRP of $60.00 – $90.00 at INV PRO TECH Tools.

Protecting Those Who Protect Us is the IR.Tools mission. Their goal is to bring the men and women who risk their lives everyday home safe to their loved ones. In addition to advanced weapon training targets, IR.Tools proprietary IR patch, passive thermal targets, zeroing targets and thermal vehicle markers provide excellent IFF protection. Tom Boyer’s vision and passion for innovation has resulted in 21 patents. Be assured your IR.Tools protection is top-notch.

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