The NAAGA Talks Law at Stoddards Gun Range

Last Saturday was the second meeting of the National African American Gun Association.

Samuel Hayes of Caliber Training Group talks law  and history at the second meeting of the NAAGA
Samuel Hayes of Caliber Training Group talks law and history at the second meeting of the NAAGA

There were about 20 people all together. It took place in room at Stoddards Gun Range in Midtown Atlanta, that looked a lot like a Starbucks, with the exception of a target set up on a tripod at the front of the room. Close to half of the attendees were women, including the founder, Philip Smith’s 15 year-old (close to 16) daughter, Tiana. More on her later.

While the first meeting focused on safety, this one featured Samuel Hayes of Caliber Training Group, who talked about gun laws in Georgia.

On discussing the differences between the NAAGA and the NRA, Sam said this. “We begin in the same place, and we occupy the same space, but that’s it. They aren’t going to acknowledge the ugly past of gun control… It was done so that we couldn’t protect ourselves.”

AR_elaine_riot
This is a 1919 headline from The Elaine Arkansas Gazette. Such headlines not only incited mob violence against Black people, but they also fueled efforts to disarm the Black community.

As proof he cited early headlines which ran throughout the South which spread rumors of race riots by local Black residents. Those stories were often run with almost no basis in truth, but became the inspiration for mob attacks against the Black communities, and the legislation to disarm them.

“[Before now], there was no organization out there for us.” Said one attendee. “We have a unique perspective and we need to galvanize around it.”

Sam then went on to discuss statute 16-3-21, which covers lawful use and carry of a weapon in the State of Georgia. Disparity in size, age and multiple attackers are all things that must be considered when considering lethal force.Like any other all, there is gray area.

Disparity of force, for example, will vary according to the defender. So, 15-year-old Tiana, might be justified to use deadly force against  a grown man attacking with his bare hands, while Sam, who is about 6ft, 280, might be expected to employ different tactics. Maybe.

As for defense of a third-party, which is also legal, Sam cautioned that unless they are a loved one or someone who you would trust with your life, you might be better off making yourself the best witness possible, than pulling out your gun.

“You have to be absolutely clear about who you are putting your life on the line for. It could be someone who is being arrested by undercover officers. It’s happened before. You have to know who you are dealing with.”

NAAGA founder Philip Smith with wife Gwen and daughter Tiana. They inspired me to bring my daughter soon.
NAAGA founder Philip Smith with wife Gwen and daughter Tiana. They inspired me to bring my daughter soon.

Back to Tiana, pictured here with her mother and father. She has shot a gun before. Her uncle, (I believe) allowed her to fire off some rounds at a family gathering in Oklahoma. Seeing her there inspired me to bring my daughter, who is 15 and entering the 10th grade.

  • Law is going to be a regular theme. Sam has promised to either do a longer seminar or spend some time at each meeting going over the particulars of Georgia gun laws.
  • There are currently 200 members nationwide, with 66 in Metro Atlanta and interest from people in Michigan and Chicago.
  • The goal is 1000 by next year. That seems doable to me.
  • The next meeting will be Friday June 5 at Stoddards.

 

 

Do We Need This Demonstration to Prove that Law Enforcement is Biased?

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The video above was shared with me by a Facebook friend. I began replying as a comment but I quickly realized that I had too much to say for a Facebook comment box.

First, the obvious. Is this a fair experiment? It is clear that the responding police are from different agencies. Are they even from the same jurisdictions?

I read someplace that the video actually depicted different events that took place states apart. If that’s true, then this was an experiment in editing, rather than race and open carry.

We have brothers and sisters living off of a steady diet of tear gas and pepper spray in Ferguson and Baltimore, just to secure the rights of unarmed Black men and women, to live for long enough to make it to custody. Meanwhile, the NRA has attempted to initiate laws in Texas that will make it explicitly illegal for officers to stop and frisk people who open carry.

It would have cleared things up a lot for me if the two dudes who introduced the video appeared again with the Black guy before he ventured out, alone, with the AR and his pregnant girlfriend.Without knowing exactly where the cops are responding from, and the laws in those jurisdictions, it is hard to see this as a one to one comparison.  (By the way, please don’t do any more potentially dangerous “experiments” with your pregnant girlfriend there.)

That said, I’m not a bit surprised that a Black man would be treated differently when carrying a rifle on his back. A lot of police see us as a threat regardless. Throw an AR on your back, and you run the risk of becoming a statistic very quickly. I get the point that they are trying to prove, and there is an abundance of evidence to back it up.

Demonstrators from the Dallas New Black Panther Party and the Huey P. Newton Gun Club, at an open carry demonstration.
Demonstrators from the Dallas New Black Panther Party and the Huey P. Newton Gun Club, at an open carry demonstration.

The New Black Panthers regularly do open carry demonstrations. So far, none of them have been arrested, to my knowledge. But there is a difference between going down the street with 20 fellow armed citizens, and walking down the street alone with a rifle on your back. The former is very clearly a demonstration. The latter could be construed as a bit lone gunmen-ish.

But, if the brother is openly carrying a firearm in a state that allows open carry, then those cops were straight up wrong. The police don’t get to decide the constitutional rights that we can exercise. They are there to enforce the law, and if he didn’t break it, there was no reason for them to show up.

You should know, I’m not a fan of open carry or the movement that surrounds it. From what I can tell, it basically comes down to the desire to exercise a right, simply because it is our right to exercise it. I’ve seen open carry demonstrations shut down Starbucks and in one case, a demonstrator marched around an elementary school despite the fact that the administration had to lock the school down.

Still, I admire their hustle. We have brothers and sisters living off of a steady diet of tear gas and pepper spray in Ferguson and Baltimore, just to secure the rights of unarmed Black men and women, to live for long enough to make it to custody. Meanwhile, the NRA has attempted to initiate laws in Texas that will make it explicitly illegal for officers to stop and frisk people who open carry.

Let that sink in.

Stop and frisk means that this young man might end up spread eagle on the ground, with or without an AR on his back.
Stop and frisk means that this young man might end up spread eagle on the ground, with or without an AR on his back.

 

In Philly, cops can lawfully stop and frisk you even if you are just eating a slice of pizza on your front steps, but soon in Texas, you will be able to carry an AR and they will have to look the other way?

How about we make that into a video. A guy open carrying at a 7-11 while the police drag a guy off of his front porch, saying, “I just want to talk to you…”

 

Sometimes Black Men Stand their Ground Too

The video below shows Jehrardd Williams, a 28-year-old Fort Myers man, who was the victim of a racist attack in Lee County last year. You won’t see or hear his drunk attackers hurling racial slurs at the Hispanic man sitting next to him at the counter of the Waffle House, or at couple who entered the restaurant at the same time.

It doesn’t show the Waffle House staff ejecting them. But it does show a man throwing a wild sucker punch after Williams declined a peace-offering handshake.

The shirtless man who ran in like Feral Wolverine was named Dakota Fields. Williams, who is licensed to carry a concealed firearm, shot him three times.

Fields died later in a car crash as his crew fled the scene. It’s unclear if it was the crash or the gunshots that killed him.

Curiously, although the video clearly shows a potentially deadly situation that was rapidly escalating, some of the early accounts painted Williams as the aggressor. One witness described Williams as spook and nigger in the police reports.

Another said that Williams had refused to pay his bill. That was false.

And one waitress said that she “knew that Williams was a drug dealer.” I should point out, she doesn’t then go on to describe detailed encounters with Williams when she actually witnessed Williams dealing drugs. This was just a hunch, but one that she was so certain of that she decided to include it in the police record.

Then there was the woman who said that Williams had shoved one of his attackers. This never happened. Had it been admitted in court, though, it could easily been the difference between him being acquitted on the grounds of self-defense, and going to jail for manslaughter.

Though many of the staff corroborated Williams account of the event, enough contradicted it, either out of hatred, racism or misinformation, to put him in prison, if it weren’t for the camera. The video saved him.

I’ve heard dozens of times that Stand Your Ground laws only work if you are a White man standing your ground against a perceived Black threat.  Witness these two men. Each one was the subject of a no knock raid. Each took shots at the intruders only to realize that they were police.

Marvin Louis Gay killed a police officer when they invaded his home serving a no knock warrant. Now he awaits trial where he will face the death penalty.
Marvin Louis Gay killed a police officer when they invaded his home serving a no knock warrant. Now he awaits trial where he will face the death penalty.

About a year ago police in Kileen Tx. obtained the warrant  to invade Marvin Louis Gay’s home after an informant said that his house was full of cocaine. They entered a window at 5:30am and he opened fire, killing one officer and injuring one more. Police did find a marijuana grinder and a handgun, but no cocaine. The DA, however, is seeking the death penalty.

 

Henry Goedrich Magee killed a police officer who was serving a no knock raid. He said he feared for his life and the lives of his pregnant wife and their unborn child. A grand jury declined to file charges.
Henry Goedrich Magee killed a police officer who was serving a no knock raid. He said he feared for his life and the lives of his pregnant wife and their unborn child. A grand jury declined to file charges.

Compare this to Henry Goedrich Magee, also of Texas. Police invaded his home based on information that he was dealing marijuana. He shot and killed Sgt. Adam Sowders, saying that he feared for his life, and the life of his pregnant wife. A grand jury refused to indict and within months he was exonerated.

You can read more about each case here.

At any rate, my friends are clearly justified in believing that Stand Your Ground isn’t a privilege that is afforded Black handgun owners. A lot of times it isn’t. Sometimes, however, it is.

Maybe Stand Your Ground isn’t the problem. After all, it’s just a law. The problem comes in when it is interpreted through a layer of stereotypes, misinformation and outright racism. That’s the only reason I can think that Gay is defending his life in the Texas justice system while Magee is home with his newborn daughter.

And it’s the only reason I can think of, that some of the men and women at the Fort Myers Waffle House could watch Williams and several others undergo a barrage of racist taunts and still think that he was at fault for having the self-respect to defend himself.

 

Today, May 11, 2015, is Richard Overton’s 109th birthday.

Overton survived World War II, Jim Crow and countless other hardships, and did so while smoking cigars and drinking whisky in a house full of firearms. Suck-it Dr. Oz.  I want to be like him when I grow up.

Ben Philippi from Guns.com visited him recently to talk to him about his time in WWII and the guns that he keeps to make sure that foul play doesn’t rob him of his 110th birthday. Enjoy.

 

The Heroism of the Tulsa Oklahoma Race Riots: Our Alamo

Aftermath of the Tulsa Oklahoma race riots. 6000 African residents were "detained" and "interned" by white residents. 35 Square blocks were destroyed. As many as 300 were killed, and the economic center of Africans in America was burned to the ground.
Aftermath of the Tulsa Oklahoma race riots. 6000 African residents were “detained” and “interned” by white residents. 35 Square blocks were destroyed. As many as 300 were killed, and the economic center of Africans in America was burned to the ground.

 

Tulsa wasn’t just a tragedy. It was our 300. Our Alamo. And when we talk about it, that is how we have to phrase it. It is the finest example of Black men and women standing up and fighting to defend themselves and their families.

This is what we know about Tulsa.

tulsa29
Men being rounded up and moved to the detention center.

It erupted May 31, 1921 with an encounter between a Black man and a White woman in a downtown elevator. He would say that he tripped and innocently caught himself by grabbing her arm. She claimed that he had tried to grab her. While rumors spread that an attempted rape had just taken place, many whispered quietly that they were actually lovers embroiled in an argument. It doesn’t matter anymore.

Threats of lynchings were met with action. Thirty Black men, many of whom were well trained and well armed veterans of WWI, went to protect the young “assailant”, who was now in custody at the local courthouse. Soon, a counter force of 1,000 White men arrived at the courthouse while another contingent went to the National Guard Armory for more firearms. They were repelled by the hastily mobilized Guardsmen. They then descended on the courthouse, their numbers now nearing 2,000.

When a second armed contingent of 75 Black men went to the courthouse as reinforcements, the situation exploded. One of the White men demanded that a Black man surrender his pistol. When he refused, the White man shot him down. That was the first shot of a gunfight that would consume the city.

  • The First Wave: Those shots cascaded through the mob. The White men opened fire, and were met with return fire by the Black men who had gone to protect the courthouse. Several men on both sides lay dead or dying in the street.
  • As the Black contingent began to fight their way back to Greenwood they were pursued by the mob. Bystanders leaving local businesses were panicked as the mob shot them down indiscriminately.
  • Late that night, National Guard units were deployed to quell the riots. They stationed themselves to protect the White areas adjacent to Greenwood. They also began picking up Black people who hadn’t returned to Greenwood, and detaining them at a local convention hall.
  • Early the next morning groups of armed Whites and Blacks battled along Frisco tracks, the dividing line between the Black and White commercial districts. Whites made wild forays into Greenwood, taking shots when they could and setting fires along the way. They were met with return fire. When a rumor got around that Black reinforcements would be arriving by train, the White mob littered it with gunfire as it pulled into the station.
  • The mob set fires along the commercial corridor of Archer Street. When the firemen came, they were repelled at gunpoint. Within hours, dozens of Black businesses were burning to the ground.
  • Daybreak. The mob made an all out assault on Greenwood. While the residents fought back, they were simply outnumbered. They were herded into the street where they were either rounded up or marched at gunpoint to the detention center. Their houses were looted, and the mob shot them down indiscriminately.
  • It should be noted that there were numerous reports of WWI biplanes flying overhead, leading to the claim that Tulsa marked the first time the government dropped bombs on its own soil. Residents of Greenwood said that they witnessed men dropping firebombs onto their homes and businesses, and taking shots with rifles. Local law enforcement countered that the planes were conducting reconnaissance over the “negro uprising”.
  • Whites were attacked too. Those who employed Blacks found themselves confronted by the White mob, who demanded that they turn their employees over to the detention centers. Those that didn’t were attacked and their property was vandalized.
Child holding wounded sibling in the aftermath of the Tulsa Race Riots, our Alamo
Child holding wounded sibling in the aftermath of the Tulsa Race Riots, our Alamo

Troops from the Oklahoma National Guard arrived later that morning, and had suppressed the violence by noon. By then the damage had been done. It’s hard to say how many Black people lost their lives. Estimations run from about 30 to 300, but there was no way to account for those whose bodies were consumed by the fires that destroyed Greenwood.

Greenwood was made rich, in part, as an unintended consequence of segregation. The money made there stayed there, circulating 19 times according to some estimations. It was a bastion of Black lawyers, doctors and business men who were able to find freedom that was unavailable in the South.  All of that ended in the span of less than 24 hours.

We talk about the tragedy. What we don’t talk about is the heroism. The 125 brave men who went to the Courthouse to ensure that a young man wasn’t lynched that night. The men who confronted the armed mob at every step, and defended their lives and their homes. Tulsa wasn’t just a tragedy. It was our 300. Our Alamo. And when we talk about it, that is how we have to phrase it. It is the finest example of Black men and women standing up and fighting to defend themselves and their families.

The self-confidence of Tulsa’s Negroes soared, their businesses prospered, their institutions flourished and they simply had no fear of whites… Such an attitude had a great deal to do with eradicating the fear that a Negro boy growing up in Tulsa might have felt, in the years following the riots.

John Hope Franklin, Historian and witness to the Tulsa Race Riots.

 

 

Walk Before You Can Drive: Looking for Solutions for Driving With Guns

The universal vehicle handgun holster mount. There is no shortage of options out there for carrying a handgun on the roads of Georgia. The question is, what are you comfortable with? Photo from Tactical-Life.com
The universal vehicle handgun holster mount. There is no shortage of options out there for carrying a handgun on the roads of Georgia. The question is, what are you comfortable with? Photo from Tactical-Life.com

Fast, short video on AIWB seated weapon draw from Raven Concealment Systems Eidolon holster system, the “Every man’s Appendix rig”

Posted by Samuel R Hayes III on Monday, May 4, 2015

I’m new to carrying.

For the past two months I’ve been dipping my big toe in the pool; carrying every night as I take my dog on his nightly walks.

At first the gun and its holster were all I could think about. Is it printing? Is it falling? Is the safety on? It’s not really supposed to feel like this, is it? We are so used to everything being designed for maximum comfort that putting on something that prioritizes utility over comfort feels strange.

At first the gun and its holster were all I could think about. Is it printing? Is it falling? Is the safety on? It’s not really supposed to feel like this, is it? We are so used to everything being designed for maximum comfort that putting on something that prioritizes utility over comfort feels strange.

Call it progress, but I don’t think about it much anymore. Every night I rack the slide, activate the safety, put it in the holster and walk out the door. And every night, about 20 minutes later, I return. So far I haven’t dropped it. It hasn’t discharged, either accidentally or on purpose. My nights are just as predictable with the gun as they were before I carried it. The only difference is, I don’t feel quite as nervous about those things that I can’t predict.

I haven’t made the leap to carrying all day everyday. I’m can walk okay, but I spend far more time behind the wheel than I do pounding the pavement. I could put it in my glove box, right? I’m going to stretch across my 15-year-old daughter every morning with a loaded 9mm? Push aside juice boxes, plates containing precisely three chicken nuggets and catsup, and toilet paper (three children = a lot of sneezes.) and drop it into the center console? No bueno. I don’t want them to be afraid of guns, but I don’t want them to be casual around them.

Not to mention how difficult it would be to fish it out from the glove box on the one in a million chance that I need it.

Above is Sam Hayes of Caliber Training Group. He is wearing an Inside the Waistband holster from Raven Concealment. He’s not a little guy, but neither am I. It looks effective, not comfortable, but I don’t expect that anymore.

Observations from the First Meeting of the National African American Gun Association

Bass Reeves was an ex slave and renegade lawman pictured here among fellow Marshals on the bottom left. Keep in mind, there are three other Black lawmen pictured.
Bass Reeves was an ex slave who lived among the Seminole and Creek Nations in Oklahoma and became a Deputy U.S. Marshall in Arkansas. He is credited with bringing close to 3,000 men to justice. Pictured here among fellow Marshals on the bottom left. Keep in mind, there are three other Black lawmen pictured. The Atlanta Branch of the NAAGA is named after him.

I spoke earlier about the National African American Gun Association. Until recently it was an unknown quantity. A good idea (an organization established with the unique needs of Black gun owners in mind) in search of the right execution.

The first meeting took place about two weeks ago, at Stoddards Gun Range in Midtown Atlanta. It is a testament to the growing popularity of firearms that they were able to build a state of the art gun shop and shooting facility within walking distance of the High Museum of Art and some to the most expensive real estate in the city. Members arrived at around 9:30 am and convened in a meeting room just off of the showroom.

It was a Saturday morning. If you were in Atlanta, you might remember the driving rain that morning. Or, maybe you were sleeping. As I found a parking space behind the facility, I didn’t know what to expect. I wasn’t really sure if anyone else would even show up.

There was about 15 people there. The NAAGA’s founder, Phillip Smith,  Sam Hayes of Caliber Training Group and 12 others. There was no “type”. One brother has locs longer than mine. He sat off to the side with a green ammo can and a soft sided case. The guy in front of me looked like my daughter’s favorite math teacher. There were five women. Two, I would later find, didn’t actually own guns, but were interested and wanted to find the right information.

They went over the fundamentals of firearm safety with a guy from Stoddards. There was an exercise to find your dominant eye, the five rules of safety and handling, and then we parted ways. They went to the range and I went to pick up my daughter from a sleepover.

This is what you need to know.

  • Membership is free. Just go to the site and find the tab that says, “Want to join.”
  • As of the time of the meeting, there were 50 members in Atlanta, and more than 100 nationwide, including Oakland and St. Louis.
  • Each chapter is named after  a famous African American warrior. For example, Atlanta is the Bass Reeves chapter.
  • If you’re in the Atlanta area, the next meeting will be called
  • Their next meeting is May 16, from 9am to 11am. They will be discussing Stand Your Ground in Georgia among other things. You should come and bring a friend. Guests are welcome.

If you’re interested sign up for your free membership and ask for information.

 

 

 

Kelli on #Queensshoottoo. A New Shooter who Took On Her Fear

Kelli contributed her story to #Queensshoottoo. She is a beginning shooter who has decided to  cast her fears aside and see for herself.
Kelli contributed her story to #Queensshoottoo. She is a beginning shooter who has decided to cast her fears aside and see for herself.

This week on #Queensshoottoo we are going to be going to the other side of the threshold. Dasia trains five days a week and is building her own rifle. Akua has been making bullets with her step-dad since she was 14. They aren’t common.

For every Dasia or Akua, there are hundreds of women like Kelli. She grew up in an anti gun family but decided to find out on her own. Now she is taking control of her education and discovery, visiting ranges and renting firearms.

She’s the first to admit that she isn’t an expert, but she’s on the right path.

Anyone that wants to own a firearm should go through training and not just training to shoot the gun but how to deal with situations that rise. If everyone had to take classes before owning a gun I feel like less people would be dead and more people would feel safer.

What are your earliest memories of firearms?

My earliest memory of a firearm had to be in a movie because I honestly did not see a real gun until high school.

Were there guns in your home as you grew up?

My mom has never had a gun and chances are she won’t ever.

What were your parent’s attitudes towards guns?

My mom doesn’t like guns, she doesn’t like violence.

 What was your perspective as a child, and how has it changed?

As a child I was afraid of guns. I’m still somewhat afraid of them because of the power behind them. I use to get so nervous when I would see a gun, my stomach would knot up. Once I used a gun my fear calmed down. I’m still not 100% cool with them because I don’t know about a lot of guns.

Describe your first time shooting a gun.

My first experience shooting a firearm, it was right after my 20th birthday and it was a revolver. I don’t know what model it was. It was my first time having a gun up and personal, I was very scared. I did not know how to hold it or anything. The guy that worked there showed me everything I needed to know. I thought when I shot it it was gonna kick back hard but it really didn’t kick back much. I was very shocked of how much easier it was. It was kind of addicting when I started shooting, thoughts of how I could protect myself where going through my head. It was such an amazing experience. When I ran out of ammo,  I was very sad.

 20150315_105419Do you currently own a gun?

I don’t currently own one because I want to do it the legal way with a license so I can carry it on me if needed but I will in the future.

How often do you go to the range? What is your attitude towards training?

I go to the range every once in a while, it’s not cheap and I love training. Practice makes perfect and a better chance of me defending myself if needed.

 What advice would you give to someone who was interested in owning a gun?

For anyone that’s interested in guns, educate yourself on them and always handle them legally.

 What skills do you think that every gun owner should know?

Anyone that wants to own a firearm should go through training and not just training to shoot the gun but how to deal with situations that rise. If everyone had to take classes before owning a gun I feel like less people would be dead and more people would feel safer. A lot of people don’t like guns but if they get educated maybe they won’t be so scared.

 

The NAAGA: National African American Gun Association

Crazy like a fox.
Crazy like a fox.

I don’t know if my problem is with the NRA or its leadership.

They are the undisputed big dogs when it comes to insuring that we continue to have the right to keep and bear arms, and they are vicious. They are so rabid about our rights to keep and bear arms that they have begun t0 push for rights that I am not entirely sure are necessary.

But the leadership… Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre and newly elected President Jim Porter come off as paranoid people and they say crazy things. Witness this post with Think Progress entitled the Nine Most Insane Quotes from the NRA’s New Apocalyptic Op-ed. Reading it gave me the impression that we are about three weeks away from a living like Rick Grimes in The Walking Dead.

RickGrimesSeason2
The NRA wants us to go through life at Defcon 9.5, hyper vigilant about the coming and inevitable collapse. Self defense is good. Paranoia isn’t.

Not to mention race. LaPierre painted a picture where there were threats around every corner ready to kidnap, rape or loot. And most of them, be they the looters of South Brooklyn, Mexican drug gangs, Al Queda or the President, were people of color. No mention of white power groups or pumpkin rioters. Go figure.

Notice, I didn’t say that they were crazy. You don’t maintain one of the most powerful lobbying groups in the country by being crazy. The NRA pushes self reliance and security. Not easy, when  according to the FBI, crime is at an all time low?

What some people call nutty is probably shrewd, calculated organizing. Some lobbies boast a sensible membership. The NRA cultivates passion. Few people are driven to write letters to their congressmen in fits of sensibility. Passion = power, and the NRA is powerful.

Their formula works perfectly. I just don’t know if I’m comfortable with it.

Sam shot me a link to the National African American Gun Association. Below is their mission statement.

THE GOAL OF THE NATIONAL AFRICAN AMERICAN GUN ASSOCIATION IS TO HAVE EVERY AFRICAN AMERICAN INTRODUCED TO FIREARM USE FOR HOME PROTECTION,  COMPETITIVE SHOOTING, AND OUTDOOR RECREATIONAL ACTIVITIES. WE ARE A CIVIL RIGHTS ORGANIZATION FOCUSED ON SELF PRESERVATION OF OUR COMMUNITY THROUGH ARMED PROTECTION AND COMMUNITY BUILDING.

Makes sense to me.

This weekend I will be going to a meet and greet at a local gun range. I’ll keep you posted.

Maryland 10th Calvary Gun Club. Photo from NPR
The NAAGA is a new shooting organization for African American shooters. Pictured are the Maryland 10th Calvary Gun Club. Photo from NPR

How Not to Suck at Shooting: You Need Schoolin

Michonne on The Walking Dead, tea-cupping a gun. She's going to mow down a dozen zombies. Don't expect the same results.
Michonne on The Walking Dead, tea-cupping a gun. She’s going to mow down a dozen zombies. Don’t expect the same results.

My father owned guns my entire life. In that time I remember him going to the range a handful of times. By range I mean an expanse of red clay and briars behind a friend’s house in South Carolina and the back yard of our family’s home in Virginia.

We called it plinking, and we didn’t accomplish a whole lot. I learned to load and shoot all of the guns. I learned a healthy respect by seeing what they were capable of. I got over my fear, and I learned some important lessons about safety. I guess, loading the magazines for his Mini-14 prepared me to load the Glock 17 that I eventually bought, but I’m pretty sure I would have figured it out.

Most gun owners will never go through the process of becoming an effective gun-fighter. People don’t think that you have to. TV and movies show us that if you are a good guy, God will bless you with infinite bullets and guide them to the skulls of your enemies.

We didn’t do accuracy. We did our best but my father didn’t know about acquiring a sight picture or proper grip. We never discussed draw and fire. To my knowledge he doesn’t own a holster.

My dad wasn’t alone. Most gun owners will never go through the process of becoming an effective gun fighter. People don’t think that you have to. TV and movies show us that if you are a good guy, God will bless you with infinite bullets and guide them to the skulls of your enemies.

On the Walking Dead, Michonne tea-cups her Beretta? and lands head shot after head shot. All of the good guys do, until the directors decide that a miss would advance the plot. Everybody thinks they are the good guy. And a whole lot of gun owners think that righteousness is a guarantee of safety and accuracy.

I thought I was an okay shot. Good enough to put a bad guy on his back. My first visit to the range with Samuel Hayes of Caliber Training Group not only showed me how good I wasn’t, but it also made me better. Not great, but better.

I learned to hold the gun by emulating the guys in the gun magazines. The devil is in the details. It’s easy to make your grip look like their grip, but there is a lot going on beneath the surface. If your learning strategy is trial and error, you will spend years trying to figure out something that a professional could correct in about five minutes. And there are some things that you will never figure out.

In the spirit of figuring it out, in a few weeks I will be going to Urban Gun-Fighting Combatives at Caliber Training Group. The course puts the gun into the context of urban combat. It includes an extensive look at non-lethal options. I am preparing myself to be humbled.

Speaking of grip, below is Bob Vogel. According to his website, he’s a World Champion Shooter. I don’t follow the IDPA, but I’ll take his word for it. The video covers a lot of the ground that Sam discussed with me at our first meeting. I don’t know if I’ll be extending my support index finger around the trigger guard though.