Archive | Why We Train

Building Your Mindset – Carry Essential Tools

Most readers of this blog probably have many solid habits, including never leaving the house without some essential tools. This is often referred to as an “every day carry” (EDC) kit and the contents vary based on the needs and skills of the individual. I think it is safe to assume that most would consider a knife and flashlight as foundational tools which should never be left behind.

If you want to be prepared to help in a sudden emergency, you will have to have your EDC tools immediately available upon your person. Just like a firearm in the truck will do you no good during a business hold up, a knife at home will not help you when you need it out on the road. A recent tragic accident that I happened to run across in some news really drives home this point.

A semi truck driver did not see cars stopped in road construction traffic in time to react and he crashed into several vehicles, causing one to catch fire. This vehicle was occupied by a mother, father, and 3 year old girl. The father was able to free himself and good Samaritans were able to free the mother, who was on fire, although she ended up perishing on the scene.

According to witnesses interviewed in the video portion attached to this story, no one on the scene had a knife with them to cut the burning toddler out of her car seat straps. She also perished at the scene. My point is not to judge anyone present and we will never know if a rescuer with a knife could have changed the outcome of this tragedy. I just know that if I am ever confronted with a tragedy like that I would be sick if I was unprepared and missing what should be an essential part of my kit.

Resolve with yourself to never be out and about without basic essential tools. The life saved one day maybe your own or it maybe that of a stranger. Regardless, anyone who is properly equipped and has the mindset of a sheep dog should faithfully exercise the basic responsibility to be prepared.

Building Your Mindset – Continuous Observation

You just finished purchasing that new rifle you’ve had your eye on for some time now at the local Wal-Mart. While you were at it you went ahead and purchased some ammo before heading out into the parking lot to your waiting vehicle. The birds are chirping, the sun is shining and everything is right in the world…until it’s not.

While you were making your purchases, you didn’t realize that you were being cased by a suspicious person hanging out in the store. As your thoughts drifted towards the big plans for properly accessorizing this newly purchased rifle, you didn’t see that same man, a felon on the run who recently shot four people, lying in wait for you in the parking lot. You did notice that man when he stuck a gun in your face and robbed you of your freshly purchased rifle and ammo, but by then it was way too late.

The sarcasm above is directed at myself and not the victim of this crime, whom I’ve never met. This recent brazen robbery in Columbus, IN just chilled me a little bit because I thought of all the times I’ve purchased a new firearm and walked out to my vehicle with my hands full and not necessarily on the alert for a parking lot predator. I don’t know the excruciating details of this robbery besides what I found in the local paper, but regardless I certainly found a good lesson.

For the wanted felon on the run, it’s really not a bad plan. People are buying guns like crazy these days and you just need to find some low hanging fruit. You don’t have any plans of filling out a 4473 and waiting to see if you’ll be denied during the back ground check so the next best thing is a quick parking lot robbery. As our society continues to unravel and people become more desperate, brazen crimes like this will probably continue to find their way out to the quiet bedroom communities around America.

Stay alert!

Why We Train – Interrupting a Robbery

One of the most likely situations the armed citizen could find themselves in where they maybe required to use deadly force is interrupting an armed robbery. Regardless if the robber(s) chooses a bank, liquor store, restaurant, gas station, or etc. to victimize, the one thing they all have in common is the likelihood that customers will be present. The most powerful weapon for police/armed citizens is strong situational awareness. If you happen to find yourself caught in the initial act of robbery or you unintentionally interrupt one in progress by entering the business at a critical time, the best way to give yourself the edge is to not miss trouble cues.

Most of the time the robber(s) will be outnumbered, focused on the clerk or other victim, and unable to watch the customers scattered throughout the place of business. Quick thinking and acting at this critical point could easily hand off an opportunity stop a felony and save lives. One will most likely not have a warning of the impending trouble so the exercise will be strictly, “come as you are.” The big bore hand cannon under the truck seat may as well be on the moon if caught away from your vehicle when the moment of truth comes.

A Jacksonville, FL grandfather recently found himself in a situation like this and he was mentally and tactically prepared to proficiently use deadly force to stop an armed robbery at a Dollar General store. The article is understandably short on details, but we do know that the man was able to cue off a warning from the clerk and that he was a skilled marksman who practiced with his weapon in competition. His labor and preparation bore real fruit that night as he successfully stopped the robbery, protected others, and came safely home to his family. What more could you ask!

Why We Train – Other Weapons

Most of the time when one considers the appropriate use of deadly force it is in response to a crime in progress involving a firearm. However, it is important to consider that firearms are by no means the only weapons in an attacker’s hands that may require an armed response. Knives, bats, and even pepper spray being used in the commission of a crime could quickly create a justified deadly force situation under certain circumstances. With the rise of flash mobs and the violence that has accompanied some of these incidents, deadly force could easily be justified if a person is violently attacked by a group of unarmed thugs.

Recently in Salt Lake City an armed citizen was able to stop a violent stabbing spree. An apparently deranged man purchased a knife from a store and then proceeded to attack and stab multiple customers. If everyone would have just waited until the police arrived this story would likely contain more victims and some fatalities. Fortunately for everyone, a quick thinking customer who was prepared to act decisively intervened and stopped the threat. Train yourself now to be that guy if called upon!

Building Your Mindset – Police Ride Alongs

Most police/sheriff departments will allow interested citizens to accompany a law officer during their regular patrol, which is commonly referred to as a ride-along. Both the department and citizen benefit from this practice as most riders come away with an increased knowledge of the job and a heightened sense of awareness for real life “ground conditions” in the community. A citizen with this type of exposure is not only more educated about his or her neighborhood but also may be less likely to pass judgment on the police before all the facts come in whenever the inevitable next “shocking” video or other incident hits the airwaves.

The best way to maximize the ride-along experience is to conduct it with a trusted police officer friend. While this is not possible for everyone, it is about the only way to get the “uncensored” version. Naturally, if an officer is accompanied by someone they don’t know the rider is most likely to experience a sanitized viewpoint for obvious reasons.

If you want to gain some valuable insight regarding dealing with dangerous people, and etc., look for an opportunity to tag along with a cop on patrol. Try to do it with someone you know and also request to go to the worst neighborhoods. Summer and other times of nice weather will greatly increase the activity, especially in an urban area. I’m confident it will a good and mutually beneficial experience!

Why We Train: Save a Cop

Most of the time police respond to calls for service and provide a wide range of assistance to the citizen in need. However, occasionally the roles are reversed. I know that if I ever found myself in a similar situation, I would love to have impromptu back up from a man like this!

The majority of police/community partnership talks consist of a variety of “Kumbaya” hand wringing sessions where well meaning, but ineffective chatter and programs fail to decisively stop or redirect criminal behavior. However, this was not the case when 66 year old Texas man Vic Stacey made a decisive 165 yard pistol shot with a .357 magnum that likely saved the life of at least one officer. This man, a self described “average working guy,” was well prepared to use his available firearm of choice to stop a violent threat.

The police can’t (and shouldn’t) be everywhere and backup is not always close enough to make the difference. Responding alone to an active shooter situation where two people are already dead is surely one of the most gut wrenching experiences of any law enforcement career. Read this news story and watch the video interview with a man who seamlessly stood in the gap and helped law officers put down a violent murderer.

Why We Train: Don’t Forget the Wife

During my deployment to Iraq, one of my close friends in the unit was enjoying a call home to his wife. It happened to be late at night her time, and while they were speaking a man started trying to force his way into the apartment, where she was alone. My buddy told her to retrieve her firearm (that he had instructed her how to use) and then call 911 immediately. He hung up and then had to sit, pray and wait while being thousands of miles away and totally unable to help.

After an agonizing delay, he learned that the police had arrived and forcibly subdued the drunken creep before he was able to enter the apartment. He damaged their door, but the deadbolt held and that kept his wife from having to make a deadly force decision while already under the stress that comes with having a husband deployed to a combat zone. While we discussed the incident later, I clearly remember how glad he was that he had armed and trained his wife to protect herself.

When it comes time to hit the range, the wife is often times left at home. This is understandable because she often isn’t nearly as interested in recreational shooting/training and also has many duties that occupy her time in the home. However, don’t neglect to prepare her for a deadly force situation. The best answer is to invest in professional training for her as well, but if this isn’t possible look for ways to include her in your range trips and work on dry fire/scenarios at home.

Martha Lewis displayed the presence of mind to arm herself, arm her children, call 911, and successfully use her firearm to defend her family. Image source: WVTM-TV

This Alabama woman was home alone with her daughters when she was forced to shoot a late night home invader. Amazingly, she had the presence of mind to call 911, arm herself, direct her daughters to arm themselves, and still confront and stop the intruder before he caused any harm to the family. Obviously, she gets it: “There‘s so much talk about banning guns and gun control but they’re for protection,” she said. “There’s no way that I could have fought him off.”

Building Your Mindset – Craigslist Robberies

Craigslist can be a useful way to turn unwanted items into cash. However, caution is in order here as criminals are increasingly using this site to snare unsuspecting victims. As a point of clarification this post is directed at legitimate  sales activity. If you peruse the erotic section for hookups with strangers, escorts, and etc. nothing I say will be of any assistance.

I point out the above only because, at work, I keep running into head shaking incidents where somebody’s complete lack of judgment put them into a situation that had a very bad ending. Less frequent, but worth mentioning are incidents where real unsuspecting victims fell into a trap. Below are some helpful hints to guide your way.

One of the biggest risk factors in a Craigslist meet up is the type of item that is being bought or sold. For instance, if you’re buying some used “Thomas the Train” toys from (presumably) a mother whose children has outgrown them you’re probably pretty safe. However, things like cars, or anything else that is more expensive carries a significantly higher risk factor.

The location for the transaction should be chosen with care. If somebody wants you to come to an unfamiliar place, do your homework before agreeing. Residential/apartment complex meet ups in questionable parts of town are always a risky idea.

A large public parking lot outside a well known business is a much better choice. This is true if you’re the seller as well. Why invite a stranger to your house? Anybody who doesn’t want to meet in a place like this should be avoided.

Regardless of the above advice, meeting strangers off the internet for a cash transaction carries some amount of risk. Be armed, alert, and early so that you can observe the area and the other party as they arrive on the scene. This is especially true for you ladies. If the arriving party just doesn’t look right then don’t be afraid to abort the transaction and make a hasty exit. You don’t owe anybody (especially a stranger) an explanation here and not wanting to appear rude in the face of an uncomfortable or threatening situation is a good way to end up as an ugly statistic.

Finally, take a trusted person with you whenever possible or at least let a loved one know the time and place of the meet up. It maybe crucial information if something goes wrong. If worst comes to worst, take the appropriate measures and make a lot of noise. The only thing a robber/rapist/murderer hates as much as an armed citizen is loud sounds like a woman’s scream.

As always, situational awareness is number one. Happy hunting for those great deals!

Building Your Mindset – Street Robberies

A phenomenon happening in many US cities today is the ghetto encroaching into the suburbs and “urban pioneers” are moving into blighted, inner city areas for a variety of reasons. Sociologists may have an opinion on this at some point, but in the mean time a byproduct is that human prey, at least anecdotally, seems to be having more regular contact with human predators. One of the most common ways that problems occur here is through the common street robbery.

First of all, regardless of how bad things have gotten in some corners of America, it is still an absolute fact that most crime is circular in nature. The vast majority of people who find themselves robbed, shot, murdered and the like did quite a bit of legwork to put themselves in a compromising position. Crime victims are often criminal aggressors in another recent circumstance or those who have let some kind of life dominating addiction over ride all judgment. If you avoid either of these or other hazardous lifestyles you are likely to live most of your life in relative peace and security.

When I come into contact with people who have just been victimized in some way and hear their stories I am often shocked at what they missed. If a person, especially a female, walks home alone after heavy drinking, many bad things can happen even if in a great neighborhood. Many robberies start off with a person being approached by a stranger and asked some ridiculous question such as, “Can I use your cell phone?” or, “Do you have a light?” or even, “Come back behind this building with me and I’ll sell you ______ for such a great price!”

It may seem obvious here on the computer screen, but people fall for this stuff all time. The only purpose of this type of question is to size up a potential victim. If you start to comply with the request, you’re about to become a statistic. However, if instead you scowl rudely, make some noise, move aggressively, or basically show back bone in a way fitting the situation you’re much more likely to be left alone while the creep seeks out an easier target.

Even better is to work towards carrying yourself in a way that exudes quiet confidence and alertness. The guy with his head on a swivel and who has a strong posture is going to be ignored while the parking lot parasite looks for the person fooling with a cell phone or is in some other way communicating their oblivious mental state. Remember and practice Col. Cooper’s “color codes” whenever out in public.

A little game I play with myself is to try to make it a habit to see a person I know before they see me whenever I’m out and about. If I’m used to looking at my surroundings in this way, maybe I’ll see something else that’s a danger sign. Situational awareness is likely your most powerful weapon.

Finally, whenever possible be armed because the actions above will not always be enough. Build good habits, cue off danger signals given by others and react forcefully and appropriately as needed. Most “good” Americans are so timid and obliging in the face of clear warning signs of aggression that it can be their undoing. Discipline your mind/body so that you can properly diagnose your surroundings and take the steps necessary to protect yourself.

Peppercorns and Rabbit Turds

One of the most important benefits of training (or really education of any kind) is the strengthening of your mental filter. This filter is the mental decision making matrix that you pass every idea through to test whether or not it is worth incorporating into your skill set. In essence, this filter helps you separate the good ideas from the bad ones.

How Wide Open is Your Filter?

Someone without much in the way of training (education, experience, etc.) will generally have a wide open mental filter. It allows many ideas, techniques, and pieces of gear to pass through without much thought. This can be a good thing if they are being fed good ideas or it can be a terrible thing if they are standing at a typical gun shop counter listening to Goober McKnowitall opine about shotguns. “I don’t even have to aim? Even just the sound is enough to scare a robber away? Sounds great! I’ll take a shotgun and throw in some of those birdshot home defense rounds too!”

Training and education tend to create a more selective mental filter. People with more experience can more successfully separate the good information from the bad. Their filter allows less through because they can tell from experience what will and won’t work for them. In some cases, people with a well-built filter don’t even have to try a technique or piece of gear to determine that it is a dud. That won’t sit well with the guys online who defend their ideas by saying things like, “I bet you have never even tried the bayonet mount tomahawk!” Let’s just face it, some ideas are just bad and really don’t need to be tried in order to determine that.

Certainly, as a gear focused blog, JTT is likely guilty of clogging up some people’s filter. I have said it before and I will say it again, you really don’t need most of what we talk about on this blog. Training will go a lot further than gear in preparing you for any number of scenarios.

Building Your Filter

There is no shortcut to a high functioning mental filter. It can only be built with intention and focus through quality training, experience, and education.  Choose the information sources that you allow to build your filter carefully because the quality of the information used to build your filter will largely determine the quality of your mental filter.

Professional firearm training is a great way to build and test your filter at the same time. Each new idea presented in a training course that passes through your filter and is incorporated into your life helps filter the next set of new ideas. During your time training you will find that techniques will be added to your “toolbox” or they will be thrown out. Some pieces of gear will pass the test while others will fail when confronted with your ever growing standards for performance.

This is part of why seeking training from people who teach ideas and techniques differently than what you are used to can be valuable. People with solid mental filters need not fear new techniques or ideas. New ideas will either be rejected by your mental filter or be used to reconstruct it – both of which make it stronger.

Strong Filters Make Strong Shooters

Be intentional about strengthening your mental filter. It will save you time spent on worthless techniques and money spent on worthless gear. Sooner or later, everyone needs to learn how to separate the peppercorns from the rabbit turds.

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