Tag Archives: weapon training

cut to kill

A Martial Arts Moment:

I was thinking about some knife based Martial Arts, mostly Filipino based, that entertain the concept of “biomechanical cutting”. There can be some confusion with the term depending on the art or the practitioner, but the essence of the concept is the intentional cutting of muscles and connective tissues in the limbs so as to cause loss of function. Some artists have taken the idea as far as employing a blade as an almost “less than lethal” tool in a self-defense situation. They think they can use a knife to disable limbs while not killing…or intending to kill…an opponent.

In theory, I have nothing against “biomechanical cutting”; if your defensive techniques feature limb attacks and those cuts actually do disable limbs in a self-defense situation so much the better. But I question it’s efficiency as a “primary technique”…I will cut up his limbs so I wont have to kill him. That seems to assume an almost “fantasy level” of technical and physical dominance in a fight where you felt you had to employ a knife.

If you are going to argue that you were in such fear for your life that you had to draw a blade and you then went on to fillet the guy at will….I could see an attorney attacking that.

I see stabs as the analog of center of mass firearms hits and “slashes” like limb hits. Sometimes you may shoot at a limb intentionally because that’s the only target you have. If you are shooting from under a car and disable a guy with leg hits great…it was all you had and it worked. Developing a firearms technique that intentionally focuses on limbs as a “less lethal option” is fraught with issues. A gun is NOT a “less lethal” tool no matter where you shoot someone. Think otherwise and I think we start to wander into the “why did you kill him? Couldn’t you have shot him in the leg or something?” territory.

A knife is a deadly force weapon. I don’t know if I’d be willing to be a test subject for a legal argument that it can be employed as a “less lethal” tool. Even limb slashes can kill via exsanguination.

In conclusion, my personal opinion on knives as a “defensive tool” is that if I have to use one its going to be in a “kill or be killed” situation, and the best way to survive such a threat and sustain a legal defense, is to employ it as such.

TacStrike 1/4 Scale Steel Target System

I have been a fan of TacStrike Targets since my purchase of one of Rob’s stake in targets three years ago.

I decided to expand my collection with one of TacStrikes  1/4 Scale Steel Target Systems this year.

The system comes with a base that can accept 1″X2″ or 2″X2″ wood stakes if you want to shoot paper, and a center pocket that accepts the target rack post.

The 1/4 scale silhouette is made of AR500 steel and “floats” inside the rack so that it can absorb impacting rounds without having to swing or rock. It also lets it ring like a bell.

The AR500 plate destroys incoming rounds:



The .40 S&W and .223 I put on it were reduced to powder and flat disks of jacket metal:



If you are in the market for some steel check out TacStrike.

Good stuff at good prices and the owner, Rob Tackett, is good people.

let the hate flow through you

The Costa Hate.

Someone explain it to me. I don’t drink his kool-aid, but I don’t hate the guy’s stuff either. Is it jealousy of his success? Is this some sort of “sell-out” thing, like some folks point at musicians when they go commercial? Sure, this video is a tad loopy, but it’s Airsoft in Japan and they wanted him to do this for a photo-op.

I see a lot of OMG HE’S FLAGGING PEOPLE WITH A GUN!!! going around. But it really looks like he’s pointing over everyone’s head at the far wall. And correct me if I’m wrong, but people actually point and shoot Airsoft at each other all of the time don’t they?

What’s the story with the hate on this dude? He’s certainly bought the AR platform some attention.

the armed citizen

This is something I just wrote in response to a comment about the Paris Terror attack. Someone had commented on how he has firearms training and believes that he could have gone toe to toe with the attackers and had a good chance of prevailing. I replied with:

IMO It’s not really entirely matter of “ability” as much as it is simple availability.

Unless the Jihadi’s are assaulting your home or are on your street, or you happen to be able to take your AR and plate carrier to work with you, the odds of being there with the right tools are really not that good. In our society, the people driving around with the weapons/tools and the communications to co-ordinate response are the Police. Even with all of that and the specific duty to be cruising around to respond to trouble the odds of being able to counter-assault an attack like this are slim.

Certainly our citizenship being armed and prepared to defend their lives “in extremis” is vital. But IMO the odds are better that they would be able to exfil a terror attack than stop one.

Most armed citizens are going to be walking the streets with handguns. The odds of stopping two guys with AK’s with a handgun are NOT going to be good.

We need to work together. You may be able to contain a house fire with your extinguisher/garden hose, but you still call in the Firemen because they have the Engines/Pumpers. This is the same sort of thing.

Magpul “Action Sport”

Magpul PTS Dynamic Action Sport from john lawrence on Vimeo.

A nicely put together video that shows the training options/benefits available with Airsoft equipment.

While I’m not sold on the competition aspect due to “training scar” concerns, the target systems and equipment can provide many man-hours of training in a shoot house environment without the expense of live ammunition or the safety concerns.

Occam’s Razor for shooters….

The Ockraz Logo
The Ockraz Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

William of Ockham was an influential medieval philosopher who is recalled chiefly for the maxim attributed to him known as Ockham’s razor. Also spelled “Occam’s Razor”. The words attributed to him are, entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem…or “entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity”.

I bring this up because I have just read a quote from the Dokkodo, the “The Solitary Path”, which is a short piece written by Miyamoto Musashi shortly before his death:

Do not collect weapons or practice with weapons beyond what can be of use to you.

I see a link between the philosophies of these two men and an application to weapon training. I will attempt to explain.

These philosophical issues come to mind because I was recently involved in a friendly conversation debating that “Less Filling. Tastes Great” topic of using the slide release vs “power stroking” the slide on a handgun during an emergency reload.

I have a post here regarding this very issue BTW.

Debate points that always seem to come up when discussing emergency reloads are:

“I use the power stroke because I may be using a weapon I am unfamiliar with and running the slide is fairly universal for all pistols while slide releases may vary.”


“I use the power stroke because the actions are similar to the manual of arms for clearing malfunctions.”

Being a fairly recent convert to the slide release method, Occam’s and Musashi’s quotes kind of cut me both ways.

I argue that the “It’s universal for all pistols” point either means you own too many pistols or you are saying you are going to be doing a combat pick up of a pistol…or a disarm.

Per Occam/Musashi…if you have so many different pistols that you may/may not be carrying at any one time, you are violating their precepts. I’m not against collecting guns, I’m not against having different pistols/rifles for different applications, but if you worry that you may not be able to “auto pilot” your weapon because you may be carrying something different on any given day, that’s a problem IMO. Pick one and make it a part of your hand.

The combat pick-up/disarm argument doesn’t hold much water for me either. I’m probably not going to disarm an attacker of his weapon and magazines and have to do an emergency reload with them. And the combat pick-up is such a statistically rare issue that I don’t see it as a valid point. Either way, if they worry you then do the power stroke method if that ever happens.

The second point…”I use the power stroke because the actions are similar to the manual of arms for clearing malfunctions.” Is a more valid argument when applying Occam (Musashi doesn’t really apply here). Having one way of operating the pistol regardless of reason (malfunction or running dry) is a stronger point IMO and I have much to agree with.

However I would counter that Occam said “…must not be multiplied beyond necessity” he didn’t say “never multiply”. The slide stop method has some things going for it; speed, efficiency, the weapon/hands stay more oriented to the threat, etc. The necessity of multiplying your manual of arms to gain those advantages may be debatable, but I would debate it.

Either way you choose I find Occam and Musashi’s points as interesting ways to analyze our choices when it comes to weaponcraft. What do you think?

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shoot to……what?

Grave awaiting its coffin.
Grave awaiting its coffin. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was just reading Tiger McKee’s “The Book of Two Guns” where I came across this passage:

When engaging a threat with fire you are shooting to stop the threat-not kill them. Due to the areas we must shoot to stop the threat effectively-the center mass and head, the threat may die. But that isn’t the desired effect. Our job is to stop the threat as quickly as possible-or we hurt them enough that they decide to leave.

I entirely understand WHY we are taught this way…because of litigation. “So officer you are saying that you INTENDED TO KILL MY CLIENT?!?!”  And to combat the television educated critics that demand to know why we don’t just “shoot him in the leg” or knee.

There’s also the (IMO) silly argument that “shooting to kill” means that we execute incapacitated subjects or surrendering offenders.

However, I have always thought that this meme has some holes in it (so to speak).

If you draw your firearm and shoot someone in self defense, you are intending to use lethal force against them with legal justification. It’s called the “Use of DEADLY force” for a reason. It’s not called the “use of STOPPING force”. Death is not merely a side-effect of your actions, it is most likely going to be the natural consequence of them.

A lack of intent does nothing to establish the justification of self defense, yet somehow people have gotten the idea that they have to pretend that they had no intent when they pull the trigger.

“Stopping” is not a legal term in this context, but firearms trainers are determined to give it legal significance. I would bet an attorney would say that it has none and never has. You can try to dress up the use of lethal force anyway you want, but the bottom line is if you use it you had better be justified in intending to kill. “Shooting to stop” could easily include shooting the handgun out of their hand or shooting their leg. That’s a dangerous road to go down. If you could defend yourself by using less-than-lethal force, then you probably weren’t justified in using lethal force.

If some crook shoots me in an attempt to escape and I survive he is going to be charged with attempted MURDER not an illegal STOP with a firearm.

I will refer you to another post of mine where I addressed this. It was in reference to the tragic death of Police Officer Jonathan Schmidt.

Officer Schmidt was gunned down on a traffic stop while trying to arrest a man with a warrant for an unleashed dog. The man came out of the backseat of the car firing and Schmidt lost his life. A quote from a local news article reads:

Wounded in the neck and scrambling away from a gunman, a young Arkansas police officer managed to shove his sergeant out of harm’s way before dying in a shootout while pleading for his life, witnesses told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

The event transpired when Schmidt tried to remove the BG from the back seat.

According to Elumbaugh, when Schmidt opened the rear passenger door where Lard was sitting, Lard lunged at him and started shooting. Schmidt, hit in the neck by a bullet, turned away and pushed Overstreet toward safety.

Once Overstreet was behind Schmidt’s police car, Schmidt turned back toward Lard and began to return fire.

While he was shooting, Elumbaugh said, Lard was cursing Schmidt, saying “Die, (expletive)!”

“Please don’t shoot me. Please don’t shoot me,” Schmidt cried out, Elumbaugh said.

It’s my opinion that the “shoot to stop” meme so popular in our profession (and made necessary by attorneys) ingrains in us the mindset of “please stop..please let this stop him…God stop him!!”. In this sort of situation, where a gunman has hit you in the neck and is screaming “DIE F$%^#R!!!” at you…perhaps it should be entering into our minds that it’s KILL or BE KILLED! If he’s yelling “DIE MOTHER F#$@%R!!!” I’d prefer to see officers yelling “YOU FIRST A$$%^!E!!!” through a barrage of bullets.

It’s a difficult topic. On one hand I understand the reasoning behind the “shoot to stop” mentality, but on the other it seems more about semantics than tactics.

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the “warrior thing”…again

Young Delta Force Operator :-)
Young Delta Force Operator :-) (Photo credit: Podknox)

The initial reason for starting this blog was to try and frame a discussion about what “warriorship” is. One of the first posts here was an attempt to define the term:


The discussion in the comments became an interesting exploration all of its own. A definition of warriorship that was explored stated that the warrior put him or herself at risk of serious physical injury or death for the sake of oneself or others. Someone else then asked if that would include “non-martial types”, such as a doctor who goes into dangerous places to treat others. I responded with a quote from Musashi:

It is said the warrior’s is the twofold Way of pen and sword, and he should have a taste for both Ways. Even if a man has no natural ability he can be a warrior by sticking assiduously to both divisions of the Way. Generally speaking, the Way of the warrior is resolute acceptance of death. Although not only warriors but priests, women, peasants and lowlier folk have been known to die readily in the cause of duty or out of shame, this is a different thing. The warrior is different in that studying the Way of strategy is based on overcoming men. By victory gained in crossing swords with individuals, or enjoining battle with large numbers, we can attain power and fame for ourselves or our lord. This is the virtue of strategy.

A vital component of the definition, (according to Musashi at least…and I would dare say most historical “warriors”) is the point that the warrior exists and trains to overcome other people who are trying to impose their will against him and/or his group/community/clan/nation.

I also believe that being a “Warrior” comes with a price tag. And a pretty hefty price tag at that. Service, sacrifice, risk…Just “wanting to be one” isn’t enough by my standard. Neither is “putting on the clothes or skills”. Some folks like to apply the “warrior” label to one who simply practices a martial art.

Karate no more makes you a warrior than being a football player would. Karate (and pistol skills, rifle schooling, lock picking training, knife fighting training, etc.) are “warrior skills”. Skills that I believe some people pursue to live out their “warrior fantasy”.

If you want to be a “Warrior” then you have to go out and “put it on the line” and put those “warrior skills” to use. Anything less than you are practicing the “Warrior Lifestyle”. Much like training exactly like a NFL football player but only playing some backyard ball with your buddies doesn’t make you “as good as” a Professional Football player. Or having all the skills and gear of a Delta Force Operator doesn’t make you “as good as a Delta Operator”.

There are some martial artists and authors who have a different opinion than me:


This is a common misconception where the true warrior is concerned. While the main definition of the warrior found in most dictionaries is, “Somebody who takes part in or has experience in warfare.” This definition is not the one that should be used to define the true warrior, and is not an accurate definition for the warrior lifestyle. A better definition for a warrior is, “Somebody who takes part in a struggle or conflict.” The true warrior is engaged in a struggle and it is a daily fight. His battle is not necessarily on the battlefield, but rather a personal battle to perfect his character and to become a man of excellence in every area of his life.

While it is true that martial arts training is a vital part of warriorship, it is not the sole component of a true warrior. There are many people who are trained fighters who are not true warriors. The world is full of killers, gang members, and people of low character who are well-versed in weapons and how to take a human life, but is this the singular requirement for being a warrior? Are these people true warriors or simply trained thugs? Anyone can learn to pull a trigger or destroy the human body. Does this knowledge make them a true warrior, or is there more to the warrior than the ability to fight?

While I agree with the sentiment that warriorship is not all about skills. I’m not convinced that the word “warrior” or the concept of “warriorship” necessarily has or ever had  a mandate of being “virtuous”.

Many “Warriors” sacked cities, carried off women as slaves, burned down villages and did other things we would consider reprehensible today. Would one suggest that the Vikings were not “Warriors”?

While I of all people value the “Warrior Ethic”, as we have re-codified it with our modern values; I would hesitate to define the basic concept of a “Warrior” as necessarily being “virtuous”, at least by any modern standard. Remember though that what the Mongols, Romans, etc. did back then was the “Way of War” in those days. Warriors were warriors because that’s what they were. Many were born into a caste system, Knights, Samurai, Tribal Warriors etc….Soldiers were the “Average Joe’s” that joined (or were conscripted) into armies, taught how to fight, paid in some manner and sent into battle. Many went back to being “Joe Farmer” afterwards. Some became “Career Men” and sort of crossed the Soldier/Warrior boundary. In our times I would say that the difference between a Warrior and a Soldier is a matter of professionalism, commitment to craft, and the honoring of a “code” either personal or codified. In the military, when you meet a “Soldier” vs. a “Warrior” you know it….

I don’t really now of any example in military history where significant things were accomplished by warriors who “fought alone”. The lone wolf, Rambo “Warrior” is a myth IMHO. Even the Samurai and medieval Knights who were of the “Warrior Class” fought in organized battles. Examples of individual combat did absolutely exist, but all warfare is typified by some form of teamwork. Our modern definition of “Warrior” is very different from the historical model IMO. For example, the Samurai were “Warriors” by caste and at the same time there were Ashigaru “Soldiers” recruited from the other classes who fought at the same time. They all fought, bled and died pretty much the same, but what was expected of the Warriors by their society was quite different. There really is no “class” difference in the military these days (besides the officer/enlisted split), so the difference between a Warrior and a Soldier has picked up all of this philosophical/spiritual/mystical stuff. I just think of the difference as one of “dedication to craft”. The difference between somebody who “does something” from someone who “is something”.

That “service, sacrifice and risk for ones clan/community” I mentioned earlier…note I didn’t add any sort of “virtuous conduct” to the definition. The German SS were an elite group of “warriors” they were using their warrior skills in the service of their nation. I wouldn’t describe what they were doing as virtuous by any means, but I would still consider them “warriors”. The Samurai of Japan were noted for..at times…lopping off heads for simply not bowing swiftly enough.

So in a nutshell. My definition:

  • Trains to overcome other men/people.
  • Seeks to perfect those skills.
  • Uses those skills in service to others.
  • Sees this honing of “craft” and “service to others” as a “way of life” vs. SOLELY as a paycheck/term of enlistment/college money/retirement package/etc.

While virtue and “self-improvement” are desirable and some historic warrior groups attempted to codify/instill those virtues (Bushido, Chivalry, etc.),  the cultural and historic “fuzziness” of what is “virtuous” makes this aspect sort of an “add on” depending on the period and people making the definition.

Of course, there are no “warrior police” out there, so everybody is free to label as they wish. However this blog is about my definition so…there it is.

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