Including... • Interview with Buz Mills of Gunsite Training Academy • Support Military Snipers and Win a Gun! • A Non-Gear Guy's Look at SHOT Show
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One of “Our Kind” Runs for NRA Board
by Gila Hayes
Gunsite owner Buz Mills is ready to come out from working behind the scenes and lead from a seat on the National Rifle Association’s Board of Directors – if we all do our part and vote him on to that board. I can think of few more promising candidates, and with the election as an excuse to interview Mills about his goals and aspirations, I jumped at the opportunity.
Ten years ago, Mills bought Gunsite Training Academy in Paulden, AZ, the Mecca of shooters founded by Col. Jeff Cooper in the mid-70s. Mills is a Marine Corps veteran, who served from 1959-1963, and calls those “formative years, a great foundation for me and many young men getting their lives and priorities straight.” He is a lifetime shooter who remembers taking his .22 rifle to school and hunting and plinking on the hike home after school. He has been a competitive shooter, an aviator, and a highly successful entrepreneur, involved in construction for the communications industry among other ventures.
More recently, Mills has been active behind the scenes, doing committee-level work for the NRA, including serving on the President’s Committee on Advancement, providing guidance about ong-term fiscal policies. Until Sandy Froman became president of the NRA, he explained, the NRA had no annuity program. “Most universities go out and beat up alumni for contributions,” he grinned, but in the past the NRA did not. Ms. Froman asked Mills to help provide guidance for the NRA staff so the Association could develop a longerterm financial outlook. “I really enjoyed working on that,” Mills said, noting that the committee succeeded beyond their expectations in their efforts to secure long-term fiscal viability for the Association.
Mills also served on an NRA industry relations task force. Gun manufacturers have not always been in step with the NRA, he explained. “So for the past three to four years, I’ve been very active in this work.” The NRA worked hard to pass in 2005 the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, limiting civil liability lawsuits against gun manufacturers, http: //tinyurl.com/dbyuq3 Mills believes that without the NRA, that legislation would have failed.
Following that accomplishment, Mills, working with the NRA’s Industry Relations Committee, felt it was time to bring gun manufacturers and the NRA nto closer partnership. “I went out to the gun manufacturers and said ‘Now you owe the NRA.’ The manufacturers asked, ‘What do you want?’ ” he related. Mills brokered a plan by which many manufacturers fund a one-year NRA membership when someone buys a gun. Next, Mills approached the gun publications and asked for similar consideration. Now some publications fund an NRA membership for new subscribers. (See, for example http: //www.gunsmagazine.com/GNNRA.html )
Recognizing his success working at the committee level, I asked Mills why he was seeking a board seat now. He explained that compared to other enterprises he has operated, Gunsite is a smaller, less-demanding operation, noting, “The shooting sports and 2nd Amendment have been very primary interests of mine for most of my life. I am now at a point in my life where I can devote time to this, so now is the time.”
The current political climate also fuels his concerns. Though he avoided the gloom-and-doom common when mentioning the Obama presidency, Mills stressed that with an administration adversarial to gun ownership, the NRA has an even greater need to influence national politics.
How should we go about increasing political influence? I asked. “The biggest thing in our favor is our ability to educate potential adversaries about the shooting sports and the 2nd amendment,” he started. “The opposition stands against us because people don’t understand us,” he continued. Mills recommends expanding the NRA’s lobbying arm, the ILA (Institute for Legislative Action), while “leaving Chris Cox at the helm, but getting additional help in the execution of the mission.” He wants the ILA to wield greater influence, and “to cover more ground, more quickly, whether that means the need for more paid staff or a greater volunteer effort.”
What should our approach to lobbying look like? “In Washington, we have a lot of fence-sitters,” Mills explained. “We’ll get more votes if we tilt them in our direction.” He compared lobbying to a sales force pre-qualifying clients, so as to target their sales pitch only to those who can afford the product. The same principles apply here, he stressed, suggesting that NRA lobbying efforts target blue-dog Democrats, who are already conservative in their politics rather than “ideologically constipated” politicians.
New York Governor David Paterson is an example of this kind of politician, Mills explained, citing the surprise appointment of Kirsten Gillibrand to take Hillary Clinton’s place as Senator from New York. The Governor knows he has to run for re-election in 2010, Mills explained, and he knows he needs votes from upstate New York. This is the kind of politician we need to lobby, Mills concluded.
Though he says he does not especially relish politics, Mills certainly has a good history of activism. He testified before Congress during the effort to arm commercial pilots, though he expresses disappointment over the end result, complaining that Congress failed by leaving the execution to “a lot of Washington bureaucrats.”
Asked what could be done at the national level to improve citizens’ safety, Mills cited the National Right-toCarry Reciprocity Act of 2009 (H.R. 197 – refer to http: //tinyurl.com/daphsn ). “We need to push those kinds of things through. I lived in Maryland for 25 years, so I know what we’re up against from the mid-Atlantic to New England quarter. It is NOT about safety. We’ve proven time and time and time again where you have CCW, you have less crime. The fight is about votes and control and power,” he concluded soberly.
So what initiatives would realistically keep citizens safe in these troubled times? I asked. “At Gunsite, we teach the combat mind set, and the color codes of alertness. The Feds stole that from Gunsite after 9-11,” he began. “Still, folks do need to be more aware,” he continued. Not long ago, an unattended bag was left in an airport lobby where Mill’s wife was traveling. In Israel, he interjects, that bag would have been scooped up in about 30 seconds, but in that airport it was largely ignored until Mrs. Mills went to Security and they hauled it away. While it turned out to be nothing, it illustrates how little awareness the public really practices.
Mills believes the public needs to learn what selfdefense shooters know as the combat mind set. “That’s what’s going to save us,” Mills emphasizes. “We need to make teaching the combat mind set a national project instead of teaching it to 24 students in a Gunsite class,” he exclaims.
The mind set is classic Cooper Gunsite, and I asked Mills how much the school and its curriculum have changed under his stewardship. “I don’t think our foundation has changed at all,” Mills answered. “We maintain the Gunsite doctrine as developed by Cooper in the 70s. Every year, we bat around changes among our 75 adjunct instructors, but no, we usually find that tried and true methods hold up,” Mills explained. Instead, Gunsite has developed additional rifle classes, hunting and safari prep courses.
Other curriculum growth included armed vehicle classes, as well as a tactical medicine course for medics, SWAT personnel and corpsmen. Asked if he felt the war in the Gulf had influenced Gunsite’s direction, Mills responded that Gunsite has done considerable work at the request of the Marine Corps and Special Operations personnel. He noted that the military is stuck operating under peacetime rules that prohibit bringing foreign weapons back for familiarization work, so Gunsite is contracted to teach operation and maintenance on everything from AK-47s to Soviet sniper rifles.
A long-term strategist, Mills is committed to Gunsite’s longevity, noting that his overriding goal for Gunsite would be its continuance for the next 100 years. He is motivated by Gunsite’s influence on its students. “What we do here is not something we can measure, although I do love to get the e-mails and letters from Baghdad to Bhagram to Burbank, saying, “What you taught saved my life.”
One such expression came from a woman in Phoenix, who was a Gunsite graduate. One day, after coming home from the range, she was sitting at home cleaning her gun when two “great big guys kicked in her door, and she shot them dead right there,” Mills related.
In another instance, the Navy sent a Lieutenant Commander to Gunsite’s tactical medicine class. During training, he expressed anti-gun sentiments, but he later contacted Mills to relate that on deployment, his helicopter was shot down and it was up to him and two corpsmen to hold off the bad guys until another helicopter could get in to pull them out. Before the emergency ended, they’d killed a half dozen or so of the bad guys. His view of guns has radically changed. He expressed his gratitude to Mills for what he had been taught that helped him and those in his care survive that life-changing experience.
Whether guiding the daily business at Gunsite, or offering to serve on the NRA Board of Directors, Mills keeps the long-term perspective in view. He related that he had lived an interesting and satisfactory life and didn’t really need to accomplish anything else for his own fulfillment. “This Board of Directors election, it really is not about me,” he commented as our time concluded. “I am fighting for my children and for my grandchildren.”
Boy, what a difference a year makes! Last January, we went to the SHOT Show to introduce the concept of the Network to our friends and contacts within the industry, and we came away with a good feeling and enthusiasm that our idea for forming the Network was a good idea.
This year though, was much different. We were able to contact many of the same people we talked to last year, and they were very curious about how the Network was going. Most were impressed on how many members we have gained during the last year, and overall, very enthusiastic about what we intend to accomplish. I know now, that we are on the right track, as opposed to a year ago, just thinking we were on the right track.
The SHOT Show was held in Orlando, and whether it was that venue (which was mightily expensive) or simply that it is just not as easy to get to as Las Vegas, the show was not as well attended as previous shows. Or, it could simply have been the economy, or even the political climate after the last election. In any event, aside from the low attendance, there also was not much new to be seen at the show, though the military/private contractor/law enforcement and tactical side was well represented.
One of the most interesting aspects of this show, and frankly, the last several, was the plethora of companies now making AR-15 style rifles and components. At one time, there were perhaps a half a dozen manufacturers, now there is probably a hundred. I didn’t even bother checking them out. I wish them all well, though, and I am buoyed by the concept that if another “assault weapons ban” does in fact get passed, everyone likely already has one or more in his gun safe. If you don’t, I would recommend that you get one sooner rather than later, if you are so inclined. Be prepared to pay full retail price though; I don’t see a lot of deals out there.
I think I will wrap up my message quickly this month. I have another article to write for this eJournal, about the niftiest things Marty saw at the SHOT Show. See you next month.
The Network is well on its way to recruiting its 1,000th member and should achieve this landmark occasion before long. Our membership is growing every day because so many see the need for the guidance that is inherent in the Network’s mission. Why is this important?
Our mantra is straightforward – we offer education and support to lawfully armed citizens. This has resonated well with individuals around the country and with the corporate community. Let me explain what we’ve been doing to recruit members, what lies ahead and how you can play a role in the Network’s success.
Nonmembers receive information about the Network from a variety of sources. The Network’s web site, www .armedcitizensnetwork.org, answers a lot of questions about the Network and its Foundation and serves as its own 24/7 membership recruiter offering at least three ways to join. The popular monthly eJournal usually contains recruitment news and always ends with a membership application page. Affiliated Instructors, who represent the Who’s Who in the firearms training industry, share the Network’s goals with students. This group of trainers is growing in size and most offer Network members discounts to attend one of their outstanding courses. If you haven’t taken advantage of one of these great courses lately, visit the Network’s web site and click on the Affiliated Instructors link. You should find an instructor and course in your vicinity. Make it one of your goals this year to take advantage of these offerings.
Individual members serve as recruiters as well because they like to share the news about the Network with their colleagues. Nothing speaks louder than a friendly recommendation from a pal.
National publications contain articles about the Network and encourage the reader to join. These articles are very gracious with their praise and usually point out that the Network is addressing an unmeet need.
One other piece of our developing recruitment puzzle that could be of interest to you is the Gun Club Rebate Program. In this activity, the Network offers gun clubs or related sporting organizations an opportunity to encourage their members to join the Armed Citizens’ Legal Defense Network, LLC. In response to the club’s recruitment efforts, the Network will provide a rebate directly to the club for each new Network member the club recruits. If you are a member of a club and would like further information about this program, please let me know.
Strength in numbers – united we stand. These are not hollow, promotional slogans. They are meaningful expressions of what we can do together. The Network was created to fill a need; the more of us who join in this effort, the more we can do. Funding of the Foundation, which will consider assisting a member in a time of need, is directly related to our membership growth. If you are a current member, please renew your membership this year. If you are a nonmember reading this, I hope you consider becoming a member.
Actions Do Speak Louder Than Words
by Gila Hayes
On January 17th, while representing the Network at the Shooting, Hunting Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show in Orlando, FL, I happened across Ted Yost, a gunsmith whose acquaintance I made many years ago at Gunsite. Ted was staffing a booth along with several noteworthy gunsmiths, holster makers and other luminaries in the self defense gun world. These craftsmen ramrod the Louder Than Words charity fundraiser, for which every year they pull together a sizeable charitable contribution for a variety of causes by raffling a very desirable pistol, holster and accessory package and then they contribute the proceeds to a charity that has caught their interest.
I asked Ted if he would tell our readers and Network members a little about the work of Louder Than Words, and he graciously stepped away from the convention-goers mobbing the LTW booth.
Yost: We all got together out of the friendship that we all have in the industry, with an emphasis toward giving something back to various causes that we’ve found that we thought could use a hand up. We’ve worked with Ted Nugent’s Camp for Kids, we’ve worked with Cops for Kids, which benefits the Jimmy Fund for pediatric cancer funding, with American Snipers...
eJournal: Is American Snipers your current project?
Yost: That is our current, active raffle. Well, technically, we don’t handle raffles. We all have businesses to run, but we provide the gun, the leather, the accessory packages, everything from ammunition to even having training in some packages, and the charity conducts their fund raising efforts. We just present their prize for them We don’t ask anything in return; we don’t recoup our costs. Everything is donated.
eJournal: How many years have Louder than Words done this?
Yost: We are now in our sixth year. This morning, we met with the Naval Special Warfare Foundation (http: //www.nswfoundation.org/), a very large fund-raising organization. These guys work on a national level, they raise really large sums of money and they put it to really good use with families of Naval Special Warfare personnel who are killed or injured in the line of duty or in training. They touch people who are former Navy guys themselves, and they get behind the projects ...
But let’s talk about the American Sniper program. The American Snipers is a group of active duty police officers. They provide material support for our sniper teams in harm’s way and give them the things they can’t order in Afghanistan. Like everything that is lacking...everything from clean underwear to wind meters, to rifle equipment, to anything that will help them do the job that they are given to do. And that’s a tough job. It is their feeling that the snipers are some of the most under equipped guys that are out there in the field, so they are trying to rectify that. And they are providing them with the material support that their families shouldn’t have to supply.
eJournal: They’re not already supplied with wind meters, for heaven’s sake’s?
Yost: Yeah! You know, that’s just one example of the many things that they send. There’ve been all sorts of care packages that have gone out.
Last year’s LTW effort netted American Sniper’s about $36,000. That was for a one-gun package. This year’s package is a gun that is donated by Wilson Combat, and knives donated by Al Mar, a pair of Steiner binoculars, custom leather by John Ralston of Five Shot Leather, some Black Hill’s Ammunition and there are a few other things that even I don’t know about! It’s a complete package.
eJournal: When does the raffle close?
Yost: We’ve extended the raffle up until the NRA show. They ran into a time difficulty, because all the guys that run this are full-time cops, many in the Gulf area...So by the time we got the gun done, and they got the eCommerce site up and get the raffle running, they were pulling people out of the water so they were busy with the clean up effort down there and we got a late start. So we all sat down and decided the NRA show will be better.
eJournal: The nice thing is this gives us the chance to get the word out to our Network members and perhaps they would like to get in on the raffle, and help out the American Snipers cause, too, so that’s a good thing. So, our members could go to http: //www.louderthanwords.us/mission.shtml or do they go to a direct link?
Yost: There’s a link there from us, actually you can go to www.LouderThanWords.us, then you will get our opening page, and then link to the raffle site (http://www.louderthanwords.us/ forum/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=7121). And then you can continue on to the various web sites for the sponsors.
They’re going to draw the winner for the raffle at the NRA show in Phoenix, which I get to go to.
eJournal: Well, that sounds great, Ted. I think our members will be jumping on this to support it.
Yost: It is a great cause, and we can’t do enough for our guys who are working over there, and like us, the American Snipers guys take nothing from the effort. They’re not drawing a salary. Nobody wants anything out of it. They are doing it because it is the right thing to do.
eJournal: And that’s REAL charity.
Yost: That’s the way it should be.
A Non-Gear Guy Scopes Out New Products
by Marty Hayes
People who know me well and have trained with me over the years know that I am not much of an equipment dude. I have used two or three Glocks for most of my gun carrying days, and recently used the 1911 platform to train with and carry.
Now, most of the time, folks who do SHOT Show reports talk about all the new guns from the high dollar gun manufacturers, which is all good. But, frankly I get bored when I see the 43rd rendition of a polymer pistol or black rifle. Consequently, this SHOT Show round-up will be a LITTLE different than most others you will read about in the coming months in the paper gun magazines. This SHOT Show report is simply the items that grabbed my attention and inspired me to think, “I should own one,” period. They are discussed basically in the order I came across them at the show, not in any hierarchy of coolness.
The first pretty cool thing I came across was a rotating gun safe! How cool is that? Made by Pendleton Safe Company (http://www.pendletonsafes.com/) for the person who owns many guns, especially many rifles, this safe solves that nagging problem of always needing the gun that is at the back of the safe. I want one.
Next up on the hit parade was the addition of a laser aiming devise to the great Kahr compact pistols. I have been both a fan of Crimson Trace Lasergrips and Kahr pistols for a number of years, and finally the two have gotten together to produce a great concealed carry combination. The picture shows the Kahr CW9 and the new Crimson Trace laser added to it. You should be able to use the same holsters you now have. I think I need to call Lew Danielson at Crimson Trace and see if I can get one sent up for our Kahr P9. And, we might as well stay on the topic of Kahr guns for a moment, because I saw one of the neatest new guns at this year’s show, the new Kahr Arms .380. It is a true pocket gun along the lines of the Kel-tec and Ruger LCP, and I really liked their treatment of this concept. One of these would fit nicely in the front right pocket of my Carhartt jeans, adorned by a Kramer Pocket Holster.
And, again, we might as well stay on topic, discussing another great looking new product from Crimson Trace, that being their third generation of boot grips for the Smith and Wesson J-frame revolvers. Now, the other generations certainly worked well, but the new one really fits my hand nicely. Hey, Lew, throw one of these in when you send that one for the Kahr up to me, okay?
Now, completely separate from gun stuff, was a super looking, lightweight but water proof jacket from Frogg Toggs www.Froggtoggs.com. Huh? What the heck is a Frogg Togg? I learned about Frogg Toggs from riding motorcycles, as they make great waterproof riding gear. Given the fact that we live and train in the Pacific Northwest, a lightweight but completely waterproof jacket has real value to me. In preparation for this article, I checked their web site Online Store, and didn’t see this jacket in there yet, so I contacted them, and found out it is a new product, and they expect to have it in stock in March. So, we will have to wait a couple of months, but I am getting in line.
Okay, since we have shifted to clothing, let’s stay there for a moment. As I passed the EOTAC booth (www.EOTAC.com) my friend Fernando Coelho called me in to show me his latest tactical clothing offerings. Next thing I know, he has me plopped down in a chair, taking an order for some trainers samples. Trainer’s samples? Yep, freebees, to use when teaching classes. Pretty neat gig, huh? So anyway, I am thinking, “Pretty cool, thanks for taking care of me, Fernando.” Now, before this I had never used any of the new EOTAC clothing, and truthfully, I am kind of a blue jeans and polo shirt kind of guy. That’s probably because tactical clothing never seems to fit big guys (and I am told I fit that definition). Anyway, when the first of hopefully several packages arrived at our home after the show, I was VERY PLEASANTLY surprised to find the clothes actually FIT GREAT for big guys like me. There’s room to move around, and I can even get a gun in an inside the belt holster wearing the tactical pants. And, the polo shirt that came with the order also was cut large, resulting in a very comfortable shirt, one I could wear all day LONG without constantly tucking it in. You big guys know what I mean, don’t you? I also got one of their sweatshirts with the side slit for easy access to the gun (as shown in the photos) also cut large. Good stuff, Fernando, thanks. We will wear them proudly at our next classes. Oh, yeah, almost forgot. There is a pocket with zipper on the left upper sleeve on the polo and sweat shirt for a pen and a cell phone. Works good.
While still talking clothing, as I have gotten older I have been thinking about the utility of suspenders. I used them for years as a cop to carry the weight of the duty belt, and as the waistline has gotten larger, the hip bones become less effective in holding up the pants. So, at one point in the show, while doing the SHOT Show stroll, I sauntered past a booth of suspenders, and muttered to myself, “Hmmm.” About two booths past, I told Gila, “Hey, I am going back for a moment,” and I checked them out. Even though the SHOT Show isn’t supposed to be a sales show, they were selling samples of their suspenders for $5 bucks a throw, so I whipped out the money clip (Spyderco Co-Pilot) and proceed to buy four pairs. The neat thing about these is that there is a plastic clip apparatus that hooks on a double thickness gun belt, and does a good job at helping hold up those Carhartt jeans, the full size 1911, whatever is stuffed in my pockets, double mag pouch and flashlight. I am wearing the khaki pair for contrast in the photo. Here is their link: www.perrysuspenders.com.
Lastly, the SHOT Show would not be complete without a visit with friend Hans Vang, and a check of his latest cool stuff for the tactical shotgun. He did not disappoint. For this year, he had designed and has in production a combination rear ghost ring sight and short rail, to mount a small optic on it. VERY COOL. He also had a Remington 870 in 20 gauge to show off. Now, people for whom the 12 gauge shotgun is just too damn big, have the option of a high end tactical shotgun in 20 gauge.
I guess that does it for my SHOT Show report. Everything listed here I want at least one of, if not more. My birthday is coming up, honey…
Armed Response Video Training Series
by Ralph Mroz and David Kenik
Over 6 1/2 hours on three DVD disks
Armed Response, P.O. Box 685, Chepachet, RI 02814 401-465-8484 www.armedresponsetraining.com $34.95 per DVD
Reviewed by Gila Hayes
Ralph Mroz and Network Affiliated Instructor David Kenik of Armed Response have completed their magnum opus three-disk training series, offering a comprehensive view of the skills germane to armed self defense, starting at a fresh analysis of gun safety, and concluding with the value of scenario/simulation training and how to do it safely.
Each DVD includes over two hours of an engaging mixture of lecture, demonstration and technique analysis. As “Fundamentals of Defensive Shooting” begins, we find an example of Armed Response’s examination of existing doctrine to see how and where it fits, as Mroz lectures on the four Universal Rules of Gun Safety. He starts by suggesting that complete adherence to Rule #1 is manifestly impossible, due to the need to dry fire, the trigger pull necessary to field strip Glocks and certain other guns, and other common gun related actions. Instead, “Treat all guns as if they are loaded until redundantly proven otherwise, and you are doing so for a specific purpose,” he suggests.
After outlining safe and functional gun handling for loading, reloading, cycling the slide, and keeping the revolver reloaded, Mroz recommends testing any technique under stress conditions, whether that entails competition, tight time constraints, while making target discrimination decisions or with a buddy providing verbal distraction.
Moving on to technique, Mroz proposes that mandating that shooters learn and stick with a single technique for, say, racking the slide, misapplies Hick’s Law (http: //tinyurl.com/679xmm). Learning multiple techniques is preferable, in preparation for varied circumstances, he opines. When Mroz starts a lecture segment with “There is disagreement among instructors…” the viewer can expect a good analysis of common methods concluding with the rationale for techniques Armed Response prefers.
Those techniques include grip, stance, shooting positions for use of cover, one handed both weak and strong hand, and the reloads and draw stroke for using the gun when the strong hand is genuinely out of action. Mroz closes the first DVD with admonishment to practice realistically. In a real emergency you won’t rise to the deadly force encounter, you’ll default to your training, he emphasizes.
On disk two, “Tactics and Techniques for Defensive Shooting,” Mroz proposes that if depending on a gun for self defense you need to take two things with you everywhere: your cell phone and a gun. As obvious as it sounds, he points out, many gun owners don’t bother to carry, trying to guess where danger will strike.
Subsequent topics include mind set, awareness, avoidance, de-escalation, preassaultive cues, safety in distance, getting off the line of attack, using obstacles, verbal challenges, as well as when to draw and when to go hands-on. Mroz the martial artist emerges when the topic of close quarters defenses arises, and although little is overtly stated, the influence of his defensive tactics training is evident, especially in his proclivity for closing distance and physically counter attacking.
Next come options for handling multiple assailants, emphasizing scanning and how to do it, as well as fending off attack when you’re with family members or associates either armed or unarmed. This moves naturally into home security and defense, guns for home defense, safe rooms, interacting with intruders, searching in the home, working up and down staircases. Ammunition penetration through housing construction closes out the home defense segment. Additional discussion shows defense principles for use in or around cars, and later, the complexities plaguing a public attack. As the second DVD concludes, Mroz details using alternative weapons like pepper spray, as well as teaching a good segment on carrying, practicing and using back up guns.
The third DVD focuses on Armed Response’s suggestions for practice drills, entitled, appropriately, “Dynamic Drills for Defensive Shooting.” Mroz recommends beginning your range visit with a session of focused dry fire, to revisit the fundamentals like move and shoot, draw and fire and concealed draw stroke. Transitioning into live fire, he discusses standards for skills including speed and accuracy, suggesting the Higgenbotham drill. Change up sighting techniques between target-focus method and conventional sighting and “Don’t forget to scan,” he reminds viewers. “Because if you don’t do it on the range, you for sure won’t do it for real.”
Other drills demonstrate turning and shooting, moving and shooting, and shooting while moving around obstacles similar to Hackathorn’s box and snake drills, to practice shooting on the move at varied distances. Odd posture drills are suggested, including drawing from a seated position, from high and low shooting positions, after rapidly exiting a vehicle, as well as being sure to practice shooting from behind cover, including running as fast as you can to it. Practice with a flashlight in your other hand, even if it is daylight, to hone the deployment of the light, and running the gun one handed, Mroz advises. Yes, low light practice is important, but you can practice the steps on the daylight range, he comments.
Practice first shot accuracy, reactive draw and fire “in a reasonable amount of time,” Mroz teaches. He offers time and accuracy standards against which viewers can measure their skills, both from open carry and concealed. Use ball and dummy drills to practice common malfunctions. Incorporate exercises that start on a visual assault cue, since most of our practice uses verbal or other audible start signals; practice dropping objects at a stimulus to draw and fire, too.
Returning to close quarters skills, Mroz emphasizes, “There is no substitute to sweating and working to learn the physical skills.” Work out on a striking pad held by a buddy, then turn and fire into a target. “In a street fight, you may very well be winded before you can access your firearm,” he tells viewers. Other real life prep includes multiple targets, transitions between targets, verbalization while shooting, responding to a code word yelled by a partner, focusing on marksmanship and keeping the gun running with a partner screaming for distraction, pelting the shooter with empty brass cases or shaking the shooter by the belt, though keeping a close watch for safety at the same time.
In the end of the third program, Mroz explains that range work only goes so far. The next step is simulated defense with Airsoft or Simunitions. Keep scenario work serious, he warns, and set up a specific point you want to teach that is grounded in realism. The disk’s bonus segment gives good information on setting up realistic force-on-force training that teaches correct lessons, while insisting on complete safety.
Mroz is articulate and his lectures are a joy to watch, with a good pace and pauses for emphasis, supported by excellent production values and subtitle prompts to assist note taking. I would have appreciated a strong, qualifying introduction explaining Mroz’s background and the same for David Kenik who makes cameo appearances in the program.
The bottom line: Armed Response’s three DVD set provides a valuable resource for gun owners of all levels of experience. Even if the watcher disagrees with some of Mroz’s conclusions, the lecture and demonstrations initiate critical analysis of what we do and why we do it.
This is not a riveting report of a shooting gone bad, or anything like that, as you may guess from the title. Instead, I want to know why the firearms industry supported by our members and other defense gun owners like us, want to think we are hunters and sport shooters. Why is the gun industry so reticent to recognize that their customers buy their guns to prevent being killed, crippled, violated or victimized?
My inquiries along these lines began before January’s Shooting Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show, when I was invited (as were all media) to several press conferences by the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s (NSSF) Industry Research Director Frank Briganti to discuss consumer buying trends and the future of hunting and the shooting sports. Curious about the glaring absence of any mention of the self-defense gun buyer, I made a note to attend.
I suppose this topic has been a burr under my saddle for even longer. Years ago, when writing for the NRA’s American Guardian and later the Woman’s Outlook, the editor counseled me to avoid overt mention of defense with the guns I reviewed, though all were self defense guns, with not a hunting nor sporting firearm in the lot. That wasn’t too hard, except for the time I was assigned to write on ammunition effectiveness. It was no surprise when that assignment never made its way onto print. In fairness, I want to acknowledge that the NRA has a class entitled, “Personal Protection Outside the Home,” the textbook for which I provided a pre-publication, fact-checking review.
Fast forward to January 15th, 2009. First trumpeting the phenomenal sales enjoyed by the gun industry after the election, the NSSF’s researchers proceeded to analyze survey responses about impediments to hunting, and other activities including target shooting with rifles, handguns, shotguns, air rifles, and bows and arrows.
The next morning, I was back to hear Briganti report what his research envisaged for the “Future of Hunting and Shooting Sports.” As on the previous day, the presentation was smooth and articulate. Near the end of the second press conference, the researcher identified what he called the tactical market, to which a segment of gun purchases had been attributed by survey-takers. Though the figures seemed low, in comparison, if nothing else, to the products displayed by manufacturers on the convention floor, I recognized my opening, and when questions were called for, I asked why the stated goals to increase participation in hunting and target shooting ignored the self defense segment of the customer base.
The researcher, not surprisingly, said research was required, and when I asked how, he responded that he would go down and survey the incidence of defense products on the SHOT Show floor. I saw little reason to browbeat him; the blindness extends well above his pay grade. Since 1979, the NSSF has been organizing the SHOT Show, along with other services to the manufacturing industry. According to their mission statement:
“Our purpose is to provide trusted leadership in addressing industry challenges and to deliver programs and services to meet the identified needs of our members. We will concentrate our efforts on measurably advancing participation in and understanding of hunting and the shooting sports; reaffirming and strengthening our members’ commitment to the safe and responsible use of their products, and promoting a political climate supportive of America’s traditional firearms rights.”
We must not lose sight of the work done by NSSF and similar organizations to stop malicious lawsuits against gun manufacturers, lobbying against restrictive gun laws, running media campaigns about responsible gun ownership, and more. While these efforts are indispensable, so far as they go, they ignore use of guns for self defense.
Can it be that gun manufacturers and the professional associations representing them do not realize that their products are used in defense of human life? Of course not! While SHOT Show manufacturers’ booths certainly depicted plenty of hunting and target shooting, many, many of the banners and posters displayed illustrated personal defense, law enforcement duty and military missions.
So let me get this right: Our industry is going to spend its resources to increase hunting and target shooting by 20% in the next five years, at a time when the supporting consumer base, anticipating restrictive legislation, is buying up guns for personal protection and home defense. Do I have that right? Though I’m grateful for all the lobbying, researching and educating these leaders provide, I also feel disenfranchised, and a little frightened.
Wariness by the gun industry’s leadership to acknowledge how many gun owners keep their guns for self protection and home defense seriously undermines their positive influence, as does any intellectual dishonesty.
We cannot overcome the forces of evil by spinning the truth in a way that we think politicians, the media and both the lords and the denizens of the welfare state will find more palatable. (I am not indulging in hyperbole: taking away Americans’ means of personal defense against criminals is absolutely evil.) As gun rights activists, we propose to maintain and even expand the right for law abiding citizens to use deadly force to prevent their victimization by rapists, robbers, thrill-killers and other violent criminals.
Is that attractive? Absolutely not, though I will tell you that the opposite is inestimably worse. We must tell the truth – that American gun ownership, while delightful for sport and hunting, lives and dwells upon the right of the American citizen to effectively defend him or herself against criminal violence. We must not hide that truth, nor fail to express it to legislators, the media, and the ordinary people with whom we come in contact every day. If we continue to prevaricate about this principle, that right may well perish.