A Video I’d Buy

It seems everyone and his brother is making a tactical pen even though TSA says you can’t bring them on planes. I know I have a couple including my tactical fountain pen which actually writes fairly smoothly. What we haven’t had, for the most part, is any real training on how to effectively use the tactical pen for self-defense. This may be changing with a new video featuring Michael Janich.

From the press release:

PHOENIX, AZ (May 2013) –  Tuff-Writer™ Inc., makers of the world’s toughest American made pens, have
partnered with renowned edged-weapons trainer Mike Janich and Stay Safe
Media to produce a groundbreaking new self-defense video. “Focused
Impact” is the first real practical course covering the selection,
carry, deployment and application of tactical pens in a self-defense

A tactical pen is
nothing more than a durable, high-quality pen that provides all of the
same attributes as a purpose-designed “fist load” weapon like a Kubotan
or yawara stick, but in the form of an ordinary-looking pen that can be
carried virtually anywhere. But what really makes a tactical pen
“tactical” is the user’s ability to power it with a sound set of
physical skills.

In this groundbreaking
video, acclaimed self-defense instructor Michael Janich gives you those
skills and dispels the many myths that surround the use of pens in
self-defense. His step-by-step program includes everything you need to
know to actually use a pen as an effective personal-defense weapon,
including: considerations for pen selection, proper grip, carry options
and draws, striking methods, and pressure-point tactics. More
importantly, it teaches you how to integrate the pen into a complete set
of combative mechanics, making it a force multiplier that works in
concert with empty-hand parries and strikes, elbows, knees, kicks, and
foot traps.

Without the skills and
confidence to power it, even the finest, best built pen in the world
like a Tuff-Writer tactical pen is still just a pen. This video will
help you realize its true potential and teach you what you need to know
to make it a viable defensive tool.

The video is available through Tuff-Writer by visiting their website
or wherever Stay Safe Media training videos are sold. It can also be
previewed at the 2013 BLADE Show by stopping by the Tuff Writer booth.

According to the Tuff-Writer website, the DVD retails for $29.95 which seems reasonable enough.

Smart Move In Arizona

Given the recent spike in sales in AR-15s, the Arizona State Rifle and Pistol Association is holding a class called AR-15 101 for new owners of the carbine. They estimate 7,000 have been sold in that state within the last 10 days.

The class will be held this coming Saturday, Jan. 5th, at the Ben Avery Shooting Complex and costs a mere $10.

Follow this link for more information on the event.

I think this is a brilliant move and one that other gun clubs and gun rights organizations should copy. It brings new owners into the gun rights fold as well as gives them a taste of training.

H/T Firearms and Politics List

How Much Training Has Changed….And Hasn’t

This FBI video from 1969 called “Shooting for Survival” illustrates how much has changed in the world of training. They are shooting what appears to be S&W .38 Special revolvers in the first few scenes and are shooting one-handed. The only two-handed grip you see, for the most part, is a tea-cup.

That said, shooting from cover and concealment is as important now as it was then. They do a good job of showing the effective use of cover and the importance of keeping your limbs covered. They also show how to protect yourself from ricochets.

H/T Packing Pretty

Training Issues At The IRS’s Criminal Division

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration released a report yesterday detailing firearms training issues with the Special Agents of the IRS’s Criminal Division.

From Reuters on the report:

Armed Internal Revenue Service agents need more thorough firearms training and they
need to be more consistent in reporting accidental firings of their
guns, said the tax-collecting agency’s watchdog on Tuesday.

“Special agents not properly
trained in the use of firearms could endanger the public, as well as
their fellow special agents, and expose the IRS to potential litigation
over injuries or damages,” said J. Russell George, Treasury Inspector
General for Tax Administration.

inspector general said agents used firearms in self-defense eight times
and accidentally fired their weapons 11 times during fiscal years 2009
through fiscal 2011.

 I am reading the report now but I’d say “accidentally fired their weapons” is really negligently filed their weapons. I think the Inspector General agrees with that as well given his statement regarding potential liability for damages.

“It is imperative that Criminal Investigation ensure that all its
special agents are well trained,” said J. Russell George, Treasury
Inspector General for Tax Administration. “Special agents not properly
trained in the use of firearms could endanger the public, as well as
their fellow special agents, and expose the IRS to potential litigation
over injuries or damages.

Training For The Zombie Apocalypse

Firearms training is serious stuff. You remember “we do dangerous things”. However, just because it is serious doesn’t mean it can’t be fun and innovative.

In this video – released on Halloween – Rob Pincus shows a class how to counter a Zombie ambush. It could just as easily be a mob of crazed anarchists from Occupy (Insert City Name) on a rampage who have surrounded your stalled vehicle.

It looks like a fun – and challenging – exercise.

H/T Soldier Systems

“Let’s You Take Your Safety Into Your Own Hands”

Sheriff Chuck Wright of Spartanburg County, SC made national news with his call for women to get their concealed carry permits. And it sounds like the women of South Carolina listened.

According to the report from WSPA in Spartanburg, Jennifer Reeves was home alone with her kids when a shooting happened in her neighborhood. While she had a gun, she didn’t know how to use. In response to the shooting and to Sheriff Wright’s call for women to get concealed carry permits, she organized a class for women in her neighborhood.

What is perhaps surprising about this report was the pro-gun tone throughout. Christine Scarpelli of WSPA concludes her report by saying it “let’s you take your safety into your own hands.” She is absolutely correct and is to be applauded for stating the truth on the air. And from the comments on her Facebook page, it sounds like she may have participated as well.

Reflections On A Training Class

One of my goals for the year was to take a training class. The abbreviated class offered by Rangemaster’s Tom Givens at the Lucky Gunny Memorial Day Blogger Shoot was good. However, it was not a full-blown class but rather an appetizer. So when Sean Sorrentino said he was pulling together a training class for North Carolina gun bloggers, I signed up immediately – and I am so glad that I did.

The class was offered by TigerSwan at their range just outside of Fayetteville, North Carolina. I think TigerSwan has flown under the training radar because the bulk of their work is with military and law enforcement clientele. It hasn’t gotten the same press that more famous schools like GunSite or Thunder Ranch have received. However, if my introductory pistol class was an indication of the quality of the training received, it should.

I am not a world-class shooter and I have never even shot an IDPA club match. In all honesty, I am a mediocre shooter at best. That said, by lunchtime I was not only hitting a B-8 target at 25 yards in timed rapid fire (5 shots in 20 seconds times four) but was getting 20 out of 20 on the target. Even better, five of those 20 were in the black. This was with a stock Ruger SR9. It shows what quality instruction can bring out of a shooter.

Sgt Major Brian Searcy, USA (Ret)

The lead instructor was TigerSwans’ President and COO Brian Searcy who had spent 16 out of his 23-year Army career with 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta aka Delta Force. He was the unit’s Operations Sergeant Major and ran their pistol training program. He also had extensive experience as both an operational sniper and in sniper training. In terms of qualifications, skills, and experience, Brian is like Larry Vickers – another trainer and Delta Force veteran – but without the TV exposure. Brian’s assistant for this class was Paul whose last name I never caught. Paul, like Brian, had served in both the Army Special Forces and Delta Force.

Neither Brian nor Paul took the drill instructor approach to this class. Rather they showed us how it should be done, made adjustments to our shooting style, and offered quiet critiques. They also offered lots of encouragement.

The training itself is built around the fundamentals – grip, stance, target picture, breathing, trigger pull, and follow-through. Their goal was help us learn what it took to produce a single, well-aimed shot and then build from there. George at Newbie Shooter blog who went through the class with me has a good description of this process in this post.

One of the things I’ve noticed in retrospect is that much of the training emphasized an economy of motion. For example, in their draw sequence, instead of holding your weak hand flat against your chest, you were taught to hold it with your fingers spread and wrist cocked towards the target. This puts the weak hand in the position to complete the two-handed grip much quicker. Another example was we were encouraged to use our pistol’s slide release after we reloaded instead of the “slingshot method”. Again, it is quicker and gets you on target faster. When you consider what Brian and Paul did in their former lives, you begin to appreciate how these little small changes could make a huge difference down the road.

As the class wound down, Brian encouraged us to devote 10 minutes a day to dry fire practice. Building the muscle memory serves to make many parts of the shooting process an unconscious reaction so that you can concentrate on the shot and the target. A couple of days after I got home, I received follow-on tips and drills from Brian to help us build on what we learned in the class. Not only was this a nice touch but it showed a commitment to helping us grow as shooters even after the class was over and done.

In conclusion, I would recommend without any reservations training with TigerSwan. They know how to shoot and, more importantly, they know how to teach.

Ball And Dummy Drill

Saturday was spent at the TigerSwan Training Collaboration Center taking an Introductory Pistol class with five other NC gun bloggers and a few other folks. I didn’t believe it was possible to learn so much in one day!

One of the drills we learned was called the Ball and Dummy Drill. A quick Google search shows that there are many variations of this drill. While some have criticized it, I found it a very helpful drill. The goal is to have the shooter stop anticipating the recoil or to stop jerking the trigger.

The variation we used did not involve using dummy rounds. Instead we paired off with one person shooting and the other person loading one round. With his or her back to the shooter, one person would either load or not load a magazine and then insert it into the shooter’s pistol. The pistol would then be handed to the shooter to take the shot.

Sean* acting as coach and loader

I found that you could go a number of shots/non-shots and then screw up out of the blue. Then you had to make a mental note to concentrate on a smooth trigger pull and do it again and again.

I should note here that we did this drill while shooting at 25 yards at a B-8 target. Other variations of the drill suggest doing it at 3 yards.

Lynell being coached by George while instructor Brian Searcy watches.

 One of the other things instructor Brian Searcy added to the mix was to have the coach/loader put his hand in front of your face every so often and have you call the shot after you just took it. This helped up build awareness of where our shot went.

The only downside to not using dummy rounds involves pistols that have a loaded chamber indicator. If, like my Ruger SR9, the pistol has a loaded chamber indicator, then the loader and shooter have to make a conscious effort to hide that fact from the shooter. I know both I and Sean did make this effort.

This is a drill you can practice at any range whether indoor or outdoor. As I said earlier, I found it really valuable in helping develop a smooth trigger pull and in stopping anticipation.

*This Sean is not Sean Sorrentino but the other Sean in the class. We had two Georges and two Seans in the class.

Off To A Pistol Class This Weekend!

Thanks to the efforts of Sean Sorrentino, I will be joining a handful of bloggers and some others for a Basic Pistol class offered by TigerSwan this weekend. The class will be held near Fayetteville, NC at the TigerSwan Training Collaboration Center and School.

The class will be taught be Sgt Major Brian Searcy, US Army (Ret).

Brian is a 23 year Army Special Operations veteran who culminated 16 years with Delta Force (1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta) as the unit’s Operations Sergeant Major. His leadership experience ranges from serving as a military advisor in Central and South America to serving as the Command Sergeant Major (senior enlisted advisor) for a 1700 person Special Operations Task Force in Iraq. A decorated combat leader, his awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit and the Bronze Star.

As an instructor in Delta, Brian wrote and taught classes in assault planning, VIP protection, rifle and pistol marksmanship, explosive and mechanical breaching, close quarters battle, vehicle assaults and hand to hand combat. He served as the program manager and primary instructor for the Unit’s shooting and hand to hand programs.

A competitive shooter for over 20 years, Brian has competed at the top levels of competition in both precision and action shooting. Brian is a U.S. Army Distinguished Pistol Shot and has been awarded the President’s Hundred Tab. His other marksmanship accolades include: Overall Winner- 2005 Joint Special Operations Command Small Arms Championships and the 2003 North Carolina Indoor Conventional Pistol Champion.

I’ve got my ammo packed, my Ruger SR9 cleaned, a new heavy-duty gun belt, and, if the USPS cooperates tomorrow, my new Kydex holster. I will have a full after-action report next week. Sean has said that TigerSwan will be providing a photographer to take pictures so we can concentrate on learning. I think they may be as excited about our coming as we are to be taking the class.

There will be light to no blogging tomorrow through the weekend.

Firearms Training Is Too Important To Be Left To Mall Ninjas

Andrew at Vuurwapen Blog posted a “training” video from American Defense Enterprises as an example of unsafe gun handling. After watching the video, I just cringed to think that people actually wasted their good money on this “training”. More importantly, someone is going to get killed if they try it. (Edited – A.D.E. has removed the video from YouTube.)

It also encouraged me to find out more about this “training” company. There are a lot of great training instructors and schools out there that we’ve all heard or read about: Gunsite, Thunder Ranch, Massad Ayoob, Tom Givens, Clint Smith, Tiger McKee, Dave Spaulding and the list goes on. I had never heard of A.D.E. or American Defense Enterprises which is based in the Los Angeles area but that is why Google exists.

The motto of American Defenses Enterprises is “If you want to shoot like a professional you need to train with professionals!” Here is what they say on their Facebook page about their school:

American Defense Enterprises consists of experienced Special Ops and law enforcement instructors offering world-class training in the entire spectrum of small arms weaponry (handguns, rifles, shotguns). Whether you are an honest citizen concerned with personal safety or an operator whose life depends on proficiency with his weapon, A.D.E. instructors can train you to the highest level you wish to achieve.

American Defense Enterprises offers courses designed to teach and develop the fundamental skills necessary should a lethal confrontation arise. Those who take these courses will be trained to a substantially higher level of skill than the average police officer or military unit.

A.D.E. claims to be “Rated #1 by Homeland Security”. However, as a poster on CalGuns Forum who took the time to call DHS found out, there is no such ranking or rating. (Post #25 by ZombieTactics). Can you say “false advertising”?

A.D.E. is headed by Bill Beasley.  One of his former students “Sara” (post #6) claims that he was a former “Special Forces Operator” and the “REAL DEAL”.  Beasley is also linked him with reality TV star Spencer Pratt (The Hills) who is better known as the husband of Heidi Montag. Pratt left The Hills to work for A.D.E.’s cyber-security division according to numerous press reports. You can see Beasley in the promo video below:

A.D.E. also promotes their American Warriors Test as “the hardest, most comprehensive test of gun skills in the world today.” Tam of View From The Porch has the best comment on this:

And have you seen their “American Warrior Test”? It’s the ultimate test of skills. Forget a sub-5 second FAST or a 280+ on the Hackathorn Standards, it takes seven hours just to take the American Warrior Test, which is apparently almost as expensive grueling as earning a Four Weapons Combat Master ticket!

There is a long thread on the Lightfighter.Net Forum about the first video and A.D.E. That forum does have a number of members with both current and former military experience including in Special Operations. To say they are disgusted by what they see is an understatement. One of the commenters, “JAG”, works at the range where this company often holds classes and has seen A.D.E. and their instructors up close and personal. He isn’t impressed. He says in part:

At my “Range”, there is a “company” of people that do “tactical training”… and with all the fliers, and pamphlets that they leave around the range, it doesn’t take very long to notice it. One thing I noticed right away, is that one of the employees at the “Range” also wore the similar clothing of “company”. I didn’t think anything of it, and just focused on learning the specifics of the job. It turns out “she” is an instructor with the “company” on days when she’s not working at the “range”.

One day, I overheard her talking to a customer about the “company”. She was bragging about stories of other people doing tactical things, how they do them wrong, and how their “company” fixes those problems. After her conversation, I started probing.

Me: “How long have you been shooting?”
Her: “Oh, only about 3 years or so…”
Me: “Wow, really? How did you get hooked up with “company”?
Her: “Well, I started shooting, and I was really good, and “owner of company” saw me, and asked me to be an instructor, so I said sure!”
Me: “Wow, that’s cool…” Eek

They literally pulled her off the street and made her an instructor…. for their “military and LEO training. She had/has NO .mil or LEO training, and barely knows anything about firearms in general, forget about “tactical training”. She learned on a Glock 19, so that’s all she knows. All of her students shoot glocks, and that’s all she really discusses… because its all she knows. It’s the same with the entire “company”. Red flag number 1.

While A.D.E. claims many of their instructors – no bios given – are former Special Ops, that is highly doubtful. Instead of attending BUD/S, it is more probable that many attended, as one guy on Lightfighter said, “Basic Foodcourt Demolition School.”

Firearms training is serious business. It is far too serious to be left to be a bunch of mall ninjas masquerading as former SEAL/Green Beret/Spec Ops/SWAT operators. As Tam notes, there is no self-regulating accrediting body for training schools. While you can be certified as an instructor in various firearms disciplines by the NRA, that is not the same as an accreditation body for schools which still might not protect students from these ass-clowns.

The complete lack of a self-regulating accrediting body is going to bite the training industry in the ass sooner or later, and the irony is that even having one wouldn’t do much good, since there is always a certain subset of trainers who would market themselves as outlaws, teaching SPECOPS SEAL Contractor Dynamic 360° Combat tactics too extreme!! for the other guys, who are a bunch of nancy milquetoasts.

 In the end, it comes down to caveat emptor – buyer beware. If you are going to get training – and you should – check out the school and the instructors beforehand. And don’t go to a class with A.D.E.!

UPDATE: pdb at PappaDeltaBravo provides a play-by-play analysis of everything that is wrong about the “training” shown in the first video. pdb points out just how bad – and dangerous – the training from A.D.E. really is.

UPDATE II: Grant Cunningham has a really funny comment on A.D.E. and their promo video.

I think, however, that both Tam and pdb wasted a lot of effort actually analyzing the video. They could have simply used my theorem: quality of instruction in a video is inversely proportional to the sound pressure level of the cheesy heavy metal music used on the soundtrack.

Correlation seems to be high.