Run through enough drills with your firearm and you’re going to run into this guy. It’s happened to me more than once. I’m going through my handgun homework and run into reference the El Prez. And then I skip it.
I’m cool with drills that require me to move and shoot. I guess it reminds me of good, old-fashioned footwork. But on a difficulty scale going from, “Even a caveman could do it.” To, “Don’t even Trrrry it!” this one has been just beyond my reach. And now that I’ve done a little bit of digging, I’m wondering what the fuss was about.
First, who was El Presidente? Whenever I think of it, I think of a guy that looks like this. A legendary Mexican gunslinger who fought on the side of peace and justice.
Truth is, there is no El Presidente. The drill was created by
Jeff Cooper in the 70’s and since then has become the acid test for shootn’ skills. Who was Jeff Cooper? A Marine, WWII bad-ass who redefined how pistols are used.
El Presidente goes like this (according to Wikipedia).
Three silhouette targets are placed 1 meter apart in a line 10 meters from the shooter.
The shooter starts with six rounds in a holstered handgun, and a spare magazine or speedloader with another six rounds.
The shooter begins facing directly away from the targets, often with hands clasped in front or over the head.
Upon the starting signal, the shooter turns and draws, fires two shots at each target, reloads, and then fires two more shots at each target.
That’s how it looks in competition. For dry firing, I imagine doing the above in a garage. On another note, I don’t like dropping my mags on the ground. I just don’t. But I’ll work it out.
A: My father put a gun in my hand when I was 10. He wanted to make sure I wasn’t afraid of weapons.
Q: Where there guns in your home when you grew up?
A: Yes. Both of my parents and step parents are licensed to carry.
Q: What was your parent’s attitudes towards guns?
A: That they’re tools to be used only when necessary to protect you and yours.
Q: What was your perspective as a child, and how has it changed?
A: I was never afraid of guns. The only fear I had was having a gun in my reach and not knowing how to use it. All the reason why I’ve trained on different pieces over the years.
Q: Briefly describe your first time shooting a gun.
A: I was 10. It was a revolver.
Q: Do you currently own a firearm? Why?
A: I own several. Like I explained earlier, they’re for protection only. I do like to train as a hobby, though.
Q: How often do you go to the range, and what is your attitude towards training?
A: I go to the range at least once a month. Training is essential to know how to use what you have. I also think training on how to disarm someone is key too.
Q: What advice would you give to someone who had expressed interest in firearms.
A: Do the research, get licensed and get trained.
Q: What aspects of the shooting lifestyle do you have questions about, if an?
Q: What skills do you think each gun owner should know.
A: How to break down your gun and clean it, and put it back together. You should know your gun inside and out, up and down.
I’m talking about holstering my gun without looking. I learned very early that it was no bueno. Sam told me during our first session that you draw quick and holster S-L-O-W.
There is zero benefit to holstering your weapon quickly. The threat is gone (why else would you holster it?). Your body is filled with adrenaline, and your fine motor control is shot to hell. So, what’s the rush? Seriously?
The thing is, I’ve been trying to hammer out my grip and my sighting. I’ve tried to make my trigger pull buttery smooth, but there are some areas where I haven’t been vigilant. My toolkit has holes in it. None of this is quite as detrimental as my habit of blindly holstering my gun.
I did it because it’s quick. I did it because it lets me move on to the next drill. Draw, sight, pull the trigger, rack the slide, holster. Wash, rinse, repeat. After I pull the trigger, I’m so focused on analyzing the shot (click) that I don’t pay attention to anything else.
I had done that for months. Then I began to see facebook posts about guys who shot themselves as they holstered their guns.
Like this poor dude.
Timothy Phonisay of Milwaukee shot himself through the femoral artery recently as he holstered a 45 caliber Springfield. He was posing with the weapon, which he had owned for three months. We will never know exactly what happened, but below is one hypothesis by Bearingarms.com.
We do not know, and are likely to never know, is if Mr. Phonisay still had his finger inside the trigger guard of his pistol and accidentally depressed the trigger with his finger, or if the firearm’s trigger snagged on an article of clothing or the holster itself causing it to fire. What is known is that something depressed the trigger while he was reholstering, causing the gun to discharge.
Bob Owens, Bearingarms.com
The article went on to suggest that Phinosay was appendix carrying, and might not have had the proper holster or learned how to holster with the trigger guard clear and without the barrel sweeping past vital organs.
I don’t appendix carry. I have the right holster. Now I have to build the habit of holstering slowly and vigilantly.
This isn’t a story about guns. It’s about what happens after you’re gun stops working, but before the enemy stops coming. It’s the story of Henry “Black Death” Johnson, a little brother from the South who joined the National Guard in Albany NY, and ended up a hero in France.
May 4,1918. Argonne France. Two Black privates in the 369th Regiment of the United States Army were on alone on sentry duty. Dressed in the uniforms of the French Fourth Army, they were considered to be throw aways by General John Pershing, fit to dig latrines or unload ships, but little else.
The fact that they were serving in French uniform was only the latest in a long line of insults that the soldiers had faced. Since the Civil War, Blacks had to fight for the right to defend their nation. A 1936, a manpower assessment produced at the Army War College described black soldiers as shiftless, dishonest and lazy.”
“Say what you will,” the report declared, “the American Negro is still a primitive human being.” (Anchorage Daily News)
We were considered to be cowards, incapable of appreciating civic duty or national pride. Even though we had displayed considerable valor during the Civil War, the country wasn’t ready to recognize our humanity.
They were comparatively raw troops and were yet subjected to the most awful ordeal…They charged upon fortifications through the crash of belching batteries. The man, White or Black, who will not flinch from that will flinch from nothing… It is no longer possible to doubt the bravery and steadiness of the colored race. It is useless to talk anymore about Negro courage. The men fought like tigers.”
Reporter’s account, as documented in Negros and the Gun by Nicholas Johnson
That night, outfitted in French military uniform, Henry “Black Death” Johnson, of either Alexandria Virginia or Winston-Salem NC, and Needham Roberts of New Jersey, began to draw German sniper fire. Johnson responded by hurling grenades at the advancing German troops. Although Roberts was injured by a German grenade blast, he continued to pass more of the grenades to Johnson.
When they ran out of grenades, Johnson armed himself with his rifle. That too failed him, as he inadvertently loaded a French round into his American rifle in the confusion of battle. By then, the two men were surrounded.
As their position was overrun, Johnson, who stood just 5’4 and weighed 130 pounds, attacked the men with his rifle, swinging it like a club and taking out anyone unlucky or dumb enough to get too close. And when the stock of the rifle splintered on a hapless German, he grabbed his bolo knife.
“Each slash meant something, believe me,” Johnson said later. “I wasn’t doing exercises, let me tell you.”
He stabbed one German soldier in the stomach, felled a lieutenant, and then buried his knife between the ribs of a soldier who had climbed on his back, taking a pistol shop in the arm in the process.
Johnson killed four Germans that night, and wounded anywhere from 10 to 20 more. More importantly, he had saved his friend’s life and held the French line.
“There wasn’t anything so fine about it,” he said later. “Just fought for my life. A rabbit would have done that.”
The French awarded both Johnson and Roberts the Croix de Guerre, which was France’s highest military honor at the time. In all, 500 members of the Harlem Hellfighters earned the Croix de Guerre during World War I.
When Johnson and his fellow Hellfighters returned to the United States in 1919, they were celebrated with a parade down Fifth Avenue. Thousands came out to cheer them; particularly the small man in the drop top Cadillac which led the procession. Johnson, who had been promoted to Sargent by then, waved a bouquet of red lilacs as the crowd hollered out, “Oh you Black Death.” (The Hellfighters marched in their own parade. The laws wouldn’t permit them to share the same celebration as the returning White troops.)
If you’re looking for a happy ending, stop reading now. Go back to Facebook with the knowledge that “Black Death” Johnson threw Harlem into hysterics.
Afterwards, the Army used his image to sell Victory War Stamps. He was used in recruiting literature and even former President Theodore Roosevelt recognized him as one of the five bravest men to fight in WWI.
Johnson went back to his job as a redcap porter in Albany, New York. The war, however, had taken his toll. He had lost his shinbone and most of the bones of his foot. He simply couldn’t keep a job.
Some sources said that the Army discharge didn’t grant him a disability pension. Others say that he received a disability pension up to his death of tuberculosis in 1929 at the age of 32. At any rate, his life was difficult. By the time of his death, he had separated from his family and descended into alcoholism.
“Black Death” Johnson finally received the Congressional Medal of Honor in 2015, only 97 years after that night in Argonne France.
I have been dry firing for months. In that time I’ve been to the range around four times. I’ve gotten good instruction. My grip has been changed, I’ve learned how to use the sights and I’ve practiced.
I have owned a gun since 1998. And I’ve learned more since I started this blog than I had in the previous 14 years.
But I had this flinch.
At seven yards, I was shooting groups that were roughly the size of my hand and the shape of California, if Cali sloped down and to the left. Still not bad. If I shot like this in a crisis situation, each bullet would hit center mass. On the other hand, if I was shooting like this when I was slowly and deliberately aiming, the chances of me shooting this well during a crisis situation are pretty slim.
I’ve been training with Samuel Hayes, pretty regularly. He told me in one of our first meetings that he expected for me to be able to reach a decent level of accuracy before we would expand into draw and fire. And my bullshit ass, California shaped groups were wasting my time and his.
You can’t get rid of a flinch without getting in range time. You just can’t. You have to train until your body doesn’t anticipate the noise and recoil. So, all of the dry firing in my hot ass garage wasn’t going to make me much more accurate.
Anyway, I made a wrong turn out of the Walmart on Rockbridge in Stone Mountain, as I was waiting for them to develop pictures from out trip to the Botanical Gardens as part of a Back to School project for my son when I stumbled upon The Master Gunman.
The shop portion of the Master Gunman was pretty small. There were a handful of Taurus’. (Tauri? Tauruses? What’s the plural of Taurus?) and a S&W Shield in the case. If memory serves me, there were a couple of AK variants on the wall.
The real news was the shooting range. The whole thing cost about $35 dollars. Twenty of that was from that one box of 9mm bullets. I also bought three targets and rented ear and eye protection. Not bad, considering it about five minute’s drive from my house. Next time I’ll bring my own bullets.
The range… Let’s just call it rustic. How about high mileage. Tried and true? The targets hung from wire. You cranked them out and back again. Anybody who has ever had wind up windows in their car knows what I’m talking about. They’ve been around since the 80’s. Let’s call it retro.
I had shot thirty rounds before I realized that I didn’t have a plan. By then, I had cranked the target as far out as possible. I went out and bought two more targets, and borrowed a pen.
Below is a picture of the second target following a haphazard warmup. The target was at about seven yards. Notice the WTF’s. They were always the first shots in the group. I overthink the first shots.
I’ve already said that I need to buy bullets. I also need to bring my own eye and ear protection. I found myself trying to see through a thick band of blurry distortion where the rent-a-glasses curved. As for the ear muffs, they were great. I hate the little squishy things that some ranges offer. Muffs are awesome. I just need my own. I’m sure they are diligent about cleaning theirs, but still. Cooties.
I like the place. I like it so much that I will try to make it there every week or two. Still, it isn’t the kind of place I would choose for a double shooting date. Quick Shot is better for that. Their waiting area is nice and big, and, last time I went, they had cookies. Stoddards would do in a pinch. But, if they are trendy clubs, then The Master Gunman is your corner bar. Not fly, but just as necessary.
I know Taurus is flamebait on Facebook, second only to Hi Point. But, they had a selection that was priced so nice that I was looking for an excuse to buy one.
My wife has a friend who used to enjoy walking alone around Stone Mountain Park, back in her single days. She would take her little dog out and walk for hours, simply because she didn’t like being home alone.
“What if something happened?”
“I wasn’t worried about it,” she said. “There was a phone box.”
In other words, she was confident that if something happened along a deserted stretch of the trail, she would be able to make it to one of the phone boxes that they station every hundred feet or so, and activate it, before things got ugly.
In other words, she didn’t have a plan. Just a vague sense of security.
Nothing happened to her, by the way. Most of the times nothing does.
I have another friend who recounted how she was followed around Decatur during her nightly jog by two creepy guys in a car. They did a couple of slow passes, and then, at one point, they crept behind her for a long time. Eventually she found a well-lit, crowded place and called a friend to pick her up. The two creeps stayed out there, almost until her friend arrived.
These are two intelligent, capable women, but they hadn’t really thought about it. IT. The great, unforeseen Oh Shit moment. And they weren’t prepared.
Get a gun. Get a license to carry it. Learn how to use it.
It’s funny how that little bit of advise can be so controversial. The following is based on a conversation on Facebook.
Someone asks, “How can you carry it while you’re jogging?”
I can’t answer that. I don’t know what she wears when she jogs. I also don’t know what kind of gun this hypothetical firearm is. Finally, I am not a professional trainer or firearms salesman or bra holster maker guy.
I can’t answer that, but there is an answer.
But maybe I should have said, “Get a gun. Get the right method of carry. Learn to use it. Get a license to carry.”
“But someone will take it from her! If she has a gun, they’ll use it against her.”
Maybe… Below is a list of other suggestions for the jogger, should the creeps resurface.
Perfume, to spray in the eyes. (They could track the guys down from the sweet smell trailing behind them)
A long knife
A big flashlight
Rip cord activated alarm
Jogging partner (good idea)
Borrow a friend’s dog
Self defense classes
The only items on that list that can’t be used against her by an attacker are the borrowed dog, the self-defense classes and the jogging buddy. In fact, so many weapons can be taken and used against you that maybe we should be thankful that bad guys are considerate enough to bring their own weapons.
You can either give up and cloak yourself in prayer and positive thinking, or arm yourself and then prepare yourself as thoroughly as possible. Which still isn’t a guarantee.
Should I have said, “Get a gun, get a license to carry it, get a proper method of carry that fits your lifestyle and activities, and get professional training that will give you a tools and tactics for a variety of different scenarios while building on your situational awareness. Also, get a variety of training in both lethal and non lethal options so that the firearm is part of broad but pragmatic matrix of tactical possibilities.”
I thought that was implied. Evidently it wasn’t.
She could do all of the above. Krav Maga, a borrowed Doberman and a guitar case full of weapons.
But do something. Preferably something that won’t get you put into prison. Walking out of the house with a dagger strapped to her ankle would be wrong. And illegal. Nunchuckas? Very wrong. You might as well carry a broadsword. Perfume? Legal but wrong, on a whole lot of levels.
And all of the right answers come with obligations and risks of their own. There is no scenario with a fool-proof answer. Sorry. Even armed people get robbed, and trained martial artists get trounced on the street with alarming regularity. That’s life.
Also, guns aren’t for everyone. Another friend of my wife’s was car-jacked for her Benz last year. I said, “Get a gun.” She said, “They scare me.”
“Have you gotten training?”
“Yes, and a piece of hot brass popped down my shirt. It hurt like hell.”
Case closed. She isn’t going back. I asked her. Until she gets past her fear, a gun would be a liability.
But I’m sticking to my original statement. Get a gun, get legal and get qualified training. (Not your uncle who was in the Army back in the 80’s.) And while you’re at it, take everything that you read on Facebook with a grain of salt. Including this.
I’ve talked a lot about dry firing. In the earlier days of Daddys-Gun.com I even wrote a few posts about it. They were bone simple, and if you are baffled about how to fit practice into your daily routine, it is possible. I did it.
I’ve been exposed to a handful of drills since I wrote about the Wall Drill. If you are more of a beginner than me, then you can use this as a blueprint. I’ll be including links to experts so that you can see how it’s done right. If you are experienced, think of this as one of those long training sequences, where the chubby, middle aged underdog manages to defy the odds and become a better shooter. People love training sequences.
Most of the drills will require a shot timer to be done effectively. Shot timers prompt you when to draw, often with a beep or a robotic sounding command. Then they time how long it takes before your gun goes bang (or click, in this case.)
They often have a par function, which lets you program in an expectation. Ie, “I should be able to pull the trigger in two seconds.” Setting the par gives you a methodical way to raise the bar. Also, they should have a memory function. Or, you could just keep your pars and times written down in a notebook.
So far I haven’t seen a timer for less than $100. Thankfully, there is an app for it. Actually, there are lots of them.
I downloaded the Free Shot Timer App last night, and deleted it after about five minutes. Then I realized that I need to buy a cheap microphone, so that the app could pick up the click. I’ll be picking one up in a day or two. We’ll see how it goes. If it sucks, remember. it’s free.
These are the drills that I will be practicing.
The Draw. I kind of touched on this in my last post. Now I’ll be looking at its dryfire counterpart.
The Turn and Draw. Like the draw, but you start with your back to the target.
The Strong Hand Draw. Here you are shooting with one hand. It is the foundation for the ever popular, dual wielding as seen on TV and in the movies. (Psyche!)
Support Hand from a 45 Degree Angle. Instead of drawing from a holster, you’re holding the gun in front of you at a 45… you know the rest.
Support Hand from Draw: Here you’ll draw your weapon with the strong hand and then switch to your non dominate hand.
Sam introduced me to them and they are part of a program geared towards IDPA competition. IDPA stands for the International Defensive Pistol Association. They were established way back in 96 as a way to let average shooters test their combat skills in simulated, real world situations. If you’re lucky, this is as close as you will ever get to a gun fight.
Samuel Hayes introduced me to Ken Park at the Norcross Gun Range.
This is Ken Park.
This is him drawing and shooting the target six times with a Glock 34. The video doesn’t exactly say how fast. How about Hella-fast? I try to stay away from “hella” as an adjective, but it seems to fit.
Ken is a former Air Marshal, and current competitive IDPA shooter. He’s also a nice guy.
When I came over he demonstrated how to draw a full size gun from cover. Cover, as you can see below, is a shirt from Armani Exchange. It was a tailor fit, snapped up the front and the gun, a Glock 17 with a light, was absolutely invisible.
What follows is advise on how to dress for concealed carry, from a guy who has gotten damned good at it.
I’ve been working on accuracy for months. Dry firing in a small corner of my garage, after doing the dishes and walking the dog at night. I rarely hear about handguns being equated with meditation, but I’ve found that the acts of dry firing and draw and fire is as close as I’ve come to meditation in a martial art.
Last time I wrote about the results of all of that practice. Three disappointing attempts to shoot the hole left from the first shot, followed by a revelation, some trigger time with a Glock 17 that shot 22 cal bullets, and then victory.
That was the prelude.
The goal was to draw and shoot a target suspended five yards away. Again, we used a sheet of copy paper. Copy is roughly the size of both a man’s head and the chest cavity. If you can consistently hit it, you might be on your way to developing combat accuracy.
One note on combat accuracy. I had been so tuned into shooting that little dot, that much of my dray fire practice had been weighted more towards hitting the dot, and less towards the actual draw. The goal wasn’t to draw and shoot a dot the size of a bottle cap in less than three seconds. The goal was to draw and shoot a sheet of paper. Big difference.
The drill: Draw and fire on the target. This time we would go in stages. First, draw and fire one round in three seconds. Then two rounds, then three, and finally four rounds. As you can see, the whole drill took about a minute. As you can see, I was slow. I did, however, land every shot on the sheet of paper.
This is what progress looks like. I shot these earlier this week at the Norcross Gun Range.
My last session focused on a Black dot. It was my nemesis. I had to shoot it five times in a row before we would move on to draw and fire drills. I spent so much time shooting raggedy groups that instead of worrying about draw and fire, it was decided that I would worry about accuracy. Accuracy before speed became the mantra.
It wasn’t a total loss. I learned an important lesson about maintaining muscular tension in my chest, arms and hands, in order to control recoil. As an internal martial arts guy, that was an eye opener. I went home and worked on maintaining tension and developing a smooth trigger pull. That was over a month ago.
This was one of my first groups after my return to the range. I had been bragging about how I would be able to shoot the black dot. Bragging about shooting a bottle cap size hole in a piece of paper at a range of about five yards? Yeah, well you have to start somewhere.
Sam said, “Slow down. You’re rushing it. Each trigger pull is a separate thing.”
This resonated. It sounded almost zen to me.
This was my second group. I was repeating a mantra as I shot. “Focus on the target…focus on the target…focus on the target…”
It yielded a tight group, especially if you ignore the outlier hole. Thing is, that was the first hole. It was also supposed to be my point of aim. It seems as if I have a flinch. I unconsciously push the muzzle down as I pull the trigger in order to compensate for the recoil.
He pulled out a 22 cal Glock 17. “Do it again.” I shot to the left to get used to the diminished recoil, and then I took aim. I whispered my mantra, and I pulled the trigger…One… Two… Three… Four… Five… That was it.
We repeated it a couple more times with my S&W 9mm. He had to make sure that the groups weren’t flukes. The results weren’t flawless, but they were workable.
Monday I’ll post part two. It will be all about the draw and fire drill.
In the meantime…
Shooting the Glock was an eye opener. I haven’t shot a Glock for years. Once I got my M&P 9mm, I just didn’t like the old Glock 17 that I bought back in the 90’s. In fact, I traded it to Sam for the lessons.
As a result, I never got much of a chance to compare the trigger pulls of the Glock to the M&P. After all, the trigger pull is the biggest criticism of the M&P.
Shooting them back to back I had my palm-to-head movement. That’s what they were talking about! On the M&P you don’t know when the trigger has been reset. I could feel it on the Glock.
Do I want the first Gen back? Nope. If you can’t tell, I really dig these lessons. I also like the steel magazine and the thumb safety on my M&P. But I get it now.
Also, Sam had to correct me on my trigger discipline. “Take your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to shoot.”
That’s not a big deal except for the fact that I didn’t realize that my finger was on the trigger. I tend to be very careful, almost overly so. After all, I have a thumb safety on my gun… But trigger discipline trumps almost everything else.
Do better Chad.
I’ve seen M&P 22’s going for about $350, if my memory serves me. Honestly, I didn’t pay much attention. After all, what do I want with a 22? How about more practice time for less money.
It won’t be my next purchase, but it is on my radar.
My homework? More dry firing, (I’ll be going into the specifics of it in the coming weeks) and range time. The only way to handle a flinch is to shoot until you’re used to shooting.