Category Archives: Awareness

AAR – Reactionary Zones

#mindsetmonday

I recently had the opportunity to attend REACTIONARY ZONES, a 3 Hour Online Session with Shelley Hill. This is an online class conducted via Zoom. This is my After Action Review of the class.

http://www.thecompletecombatant.com/online-reactionary-zones.html

One of the glaring holes in Personal Protection training is accessible training that goes beyond the gun itself. While there are various Force on Force exercises available, some good and some not so much, they still require travel to a training site, involve a significant time commitment, cost more than most people want to pay, and are intimidating to those new to the concept of training. Reactionary Zones is designed to address these issues.

As the saying goes, this class can be taken “in the comfort of your own home.” The cost is nominal ($39.95) for a highly interactive experience. Images are heavily used in the class as training props to introduce the clients to the idea that situations will require some degree of reaction for a successful outcome. Images are a part of the class but the emphasis is more on understanding timing aspects of Personal Protection.

A major benefit of the class is that it introduces the concept of spatial relationships and time requirements into Personal Protection thinking. This can be a difficult aspect of self-defense for many people, not just beginners, to grasp in a concrete manner.

Shelley has a very interactive style in the class despite it being Zoom based. It is definitely NOT a boring Zoom lecture. She engages the clients, poses a progression of situations, and requires the clients to learn problem solving. It was obvious a lot of learning was going on by those who attended. This is a thinking and reacting class not just note taking.

For those who are just beginning the journey into understanding Personal Protection concepts, whether armed or not, this is a great starting point. Even for experienced practitioners, there’s a good deal to be learned in the class.

FTC disclaimer: I had significant input into the content of this course. Shelley is a good friend of mine and invited me to take the course gratis. However, I receive no compensation for this review nor commission for anyone who signs up because of my review.

Awareness saved my life

For many years, in every one of my classes I have commented to the class that the typical middle class person is more likely to become a casualty at the hands of a motor maniac than from a criminal.

Yesterday was nearly the day for me. Fortunately, being aware of my surroundings kept me from getting killed or seriously injured. As Tom Givens says:

“Who is around me and what are they doing?”

On my daily walk, I crossed a four lane local street. There’s no intersection nearby so I had to cross the street where I could. A rape/murder van https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/rape_van (beat-up full size van with no windows) was approaching so I waited for it to pass and then crossed behind it. Although those vans usually have rear windows, this particular one was even worse since the driver side rear window had been replaced with plywood.

As I crossed behind it, the driver immediately stopped, threw it into reverse, and hit the gas. Because I had my head up and was paying attention, I saw the white backup lights come on. This was a clue to me that I had better quickly move out of the way, which I did by sprinting to the other side of the street.

Then as I quickly walked down the sidewalk, the maniac continued to back up the street in the same direction I was going. Starting to think it was some Central American assassin coming to make amends, I got my hand on my pea shooter under my shirt but didn’t draw it quite yet.

Finally, he stopped and turned into the driveway of the shopping center on my side of the street. Then he drove into the drive-thru of the Burger King and ordered something. I proceeded on my way after visually verifying that he wasn’t an assassin but was actually just a moron like Joe Biden. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moron_(psychology)

The incident is a good example of why I never wear ear buds to enjoy distractions on my cell phone when I’m walking. Further, I follow Bill Rogers’ advice to ramp up my awareness when the situation changes. Crossing the street is a situation change.

“When you’re driving and you see the first few raindrops on your windshield, it’s time to stop daydreaming and pay more attention to what’s going on around you.”

I was only a few feet behind the van and had, at best, two seconds to get out of its way. If I had been distracted and not acted instantly, I would have ended up under his wheels.

After surviving all the health issues I have over the past four years, getting killed by a fool in a motor vehicle who’s only thinking about a Bacon, Sausage & Ham Fully Loaded CROISSAN’WICH https://www.bk.com/menu/picker-picker_4740 would have been a real tragedy. But I’m in one piece because I pay attention to what’s around me.

As a general protocol, I stay as far away from those vans as I can. If there’s one in a parking lot, I drive to the other side of the lot to park, regardless of how far I have to walk.

This post is also an opportunity for me to plug the idea of taking a Defensive Driving Class, which is the point of my comment in my firearms training classes. The last time I took it, I was the only one in the class who wasn’t there because a court made them. That’s sad.

The Oscar Slap

The timeline of the Oscar Slap has much value in the study of Personal Protection and Self-Defense. It has been preserved for posterity and study on video. The Guardian provides a short clip that shows it.

  • Chris Rock makes his joke about “GI Jane 2.” = O second
  • Will Smith laughs  = +1 second
  • Jada Pickett Smyth rolls her eyes = +3 seconds
  • Chris Rock says, “Uh oh,” meaning Will Smith was already on his feet = +10 seconds
  • Will Smith slaps Rock = +15 seconds

From the first indication something was going to happen, five or at most six seconds transpired.

Note the distances involved. Smith and Rock were no more than 25 feet (Near Phase of Public Space) apart.

Note also that Smith didn’t do a “Tueller Drill” on Rock. He walked purposefully but not even at a rapid pace to cover the 20 to 25 feet of ground.

Dr. Phil says “What bothers me? No one – no security or anybody came on the stage to protect Chris, and no one in Will’s camp – nobody stepped up to save him from himself.”

https://www.yahoo.com/entertainment/dr-phil-reveals-bothers-him-080152453.html

Dr. Phil’s guest Exavier Pope, an attorney, legal analyst, and host of the podcast SuitUp, common tated, “He had a whole runway. That’s a lot of cooling time, not just for Will Smith but for anyone to have stopped him.”

Five seconds is NOT “a lot of time,” especially for something as unexpected as a Battery (Cal. Penal Code § § 242, 243) during a high profile televised Black Tie event.

https://www.imagebaseddecisionaldrills.com/

Also observe that it took less than 10 seconds for Will Smith’s laughter at the joke to turn into violent action. The term “trigger” is appropriate.

When it’s least expected, you’re elected.

–John Farnam

For anyone who thinks this was staged, look at Will Smith’s face when he shouts “Keep my wife’s name out your f**king mouth” near the end of the clip. That’s genuine anger. BOLO for it and keep your distance.

Priorities in Personal Protection

#mindsetmonday

Another excellent video featuring Ken Hackathorn has been posted on the Wilson Combat YouTube Channel. In it, he discusses what the real priorities are for Personal Protection.

Ken gives his view on priorities in this way:

But the most important thing you need to have is a proper mindset. And proper mindset; the way I explain it, is really broken down into three categories of importance.

  • Number one, importance wise, is situational awareness.
  • Second most important thing is decision making skills.
  • The third one we all fall back on is combat marksmanship.

In 1759, the French philosopher Voltaire published his satirical novel Candide: or, All for the Best. From it the following ‘quote’ has often been derived.

Each player must accept the cards life deals him or her; but once they are in hand, he or she alone must decide how to play the cards in order to win the game.

Ken distills this into “Life sometimes deals you a bad card and you may be faced with combat marksmanship.”

My ebook Thinking Clearly about Self-Defense and Personal Protection goes deeply into the topics of awareness and decision-making. If you would like to purchase it, click on the image below.

This coming Thursday evening, March 24, 2022, those who want to develop and enhance their decision-making skills will have a unique opportunity. The Complete Combatant will be conducting an online evening class from 7-9:30 PM using Image Based Decisional Drills. IBDD was developed with a bit of input from me and I will be attending this particular session to observe, refresh, and learn. If you would like to join us, please click on the Reactionary Zones image below.

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/march-24th-2022-online-reactionary-zones-tickets-291402311157

Points of Likely Contact

Sometimes we can be aware of danger zones and other times we can be on the lookout for specific spots where a predator might lay in ambush for the unsuspecting. The latter can be described as Points of Likely Contact. Recessed doorways, pillars inside parking garages, and dumpsters are examples of PoLC.

Today as I was on my daily walk, I noticed a suspicious individual hanging out behind a dumpster I pass by. There’s not really any good reason for someone to be hanging around a dumpster at noon that I can think of. So I made a detour through another pathway and walked around the front of the building instead of behind it.

This situation is a good example of Area of Interest and Area of Influence.

I’m interested in an Area that far exceeds the range of my weapons or a predator’s weapons. In this case, I saw him at least 35 yards away, so I had plenty of time and space to make a detour. No need to make any contact with lowlifes at all, if I can Avoid them. Avoid is the first, and most desirable, element of the Avoid, Escape, Confront, Resist paradigm.

When the terrain permits, my Area of Interest is 100 yards or more. For example, the distance from the turn lane guidepoles to the traffic light is about 130 yards. I’m actively watching distances that far away when I can.

I keep my eyes on the horizon whenever I can. That maximizes my view of my Area of Interest. This is also a good technique when driving. Look past the bumper of the car in front of you and as far into the traffic ahead as you can.

New Package Deal

It was suggested that I create a package of the STOPP Presentation and Advanced Pistol Practice. That package is now available at:

https://www.payloadz.com/go?id=3384448

As with all of my materials, purchase of the package also includes Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make.

When the time for talking is over

#mindsetmonday

When someone pulls a deadly weapon on you, the time for posturing and talking is over. Regardless of whether it’s an edged weapon, gun, or impact tool, at that point the adversary has displayed deadly intent. In terms of the Avoid, Escape, Confront, Resist paradigm, you should either be Escaping or Resisting not Confronting.

You might use some De-escalation words as you move away, but that’s merely a ploy to buy time not a serious attempt to defuse the situation.

“They say running is good for your health, in my neighborhood, it can save your life.” –Chicargo humor

The need for this mindset was very clear in the Calvin ‘Mad Dog’ Gonnigan incident https://wgntv.com/news/courts-man-killed-1-wounded-2-in-south-austin-after-plea-to-stop-shooting-gun-on-july-4/. It also applied to several other incidents that have been brought to my attention recently.

Practice changing direction quickly and be ready to do it at a moment’s notice. Break Contact as soon as you can.

Tactical Professor books (all PDF)

Purchase of any book includes Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make.

STOPP Presentation at Rangemaster Tactical Conference

https://www.payloadz.com/go?id=3381307

Skills involved in the Oakland Incident (Part I)

#saturdayskills

An aspect of POlice Use of Deadly Force incidents is that they tend to receive more media and other coverage than successful Private Citizen incidents. Captain (Ret.) Ersie Joyner’s gas station shootout in Oakland https://www.ktvu.com/news/retired-oakland-police-captain-wounded-1-other-killed-during-gas-station-gun-battle is no exception. Given the media’s bias, if this had occurred to a lawfully carrying Private Citizen, it’s unlikely it would have received the degree of favorable coverage it has. The amount of coverage works in our favor when viewing it from the standpoint of Lessons to be Learned.

The surveillance video of the incident gives us a very definite view of the skillset Captain Joyner used. It also gives us the opportunity to wargame other skills or tactics that would have been desirable.

  1. Wait for an opportunity to escape or counterattack
  2. Create distance while maintaining visual contact with assailants
  3. Establish grip
  4. Make the Draw Decision
  5. Draw to the eye-target line
  6. Engage Mr. Red, preferably with at least two rounds
  7. Transition 60 degrees and engage Mr. Black, preferably with at least two rounds
  8. Actual Positioning – pursue into the open
  9. Alternative Positioning – pursue to a position of cover or at least concealment
  10. Desirable Positioning – create even more distance
  11. Desirable Positioning – take cover

Tasks 3, 5, 6, and 7 constitute the solution to the shooting aspects of the incident. Individually, they are very similar to the 6 and 10 foot Stages of the Louisiana Qual Course video.

Just as with the off-duty incidents chronicled in Real Shootouts of the LAPD https://realshootoutsofthelapd.com/, it’s not hard to picture a Private Citizen becoming involved in exactly this same scenario. If Kalifornia had a Shall Issue system for issuing licenses/permits to carry handguns, it’s probable that more such Outcomes would occur.

An interesting aspect of the incident was that despite three robbers physically searching the victim, his concealed handgun was not discovered. This seems unusual. A distinct possibility is that he carried a small pistol in his pocket. At the moment he began to access his handgun, his elbow position is much more consistent with a pocket draw than either an Appendix or Hip carry draw.

Task 3, Establish Grip, is the most time consuming part of the drawstroke. Surreptitiously being able to Establish Grip while creating distance and prior to making the Draw Decision would explain how Captain Joyner was able to Draw and Engage so quickly. The ability to Establish Grip without making the motions commonly associated with drawing a pistol is one of the strengths of pocket carry. In many cases, it’s possible to shield an attacker’s view of Establishing Grip by slightly blading one’s body, although Captain Joyner didn’t do that in this case.

Captain Joyner must be exceptionally coordinated because when executing Task 2, Create Distance, he was actually able to take three steps backward without tripping over his own feet. He was able to do this even while he was in the process of Establishing Grip. Humorously speaking, since we’ve been told that tripping over one’s feet when walking backward is almost inevitable, this was an absolutely amazing display of physical prowess. In actuality, using a dragging shuffle step probably would have been more of a giveaway to his assailants than simply walking backward.

The mother of the deceased robber made the statement to the press, “death was not the answer. many people act unruly and even commit crimes in young adulthood, but go on to lead productive lives.” Captain Joyner clearly felt that his own death was not the answer and good for him for making that decision. Even if a criminal doesn’t intend to shoot you, it doesn’t mean they won’t have an Unintentional Discharge and kill you ‘by accident.’

More about the skills involved and how to practice them will be covered in a future Part II.

Tactical Professor books (all PDF) — Note: bad links fixed

Purchase of any book includes Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make.

STOPP Presentation at Rangemaster Tactical Conference

The direct purchase link for the STOPP Presentation is https://www.payloadz.com/go?id=3381307

Breaking Contact (Part 6)

#walkbackwednesday

It makes me happy that my thoughts about the explicit difference in the missions of Law Enforcement and Private Citizens are becoming mainstream. I appreciate the various members of the training community who are amplifying my concept that Breaking Contact is the fundamental mission of Private Citizens in self-defense or defense of others. My colleague John Correia has produced an excellent video about a recent incident with numerous learning points in it.

My initial takeaways from the ASP video.

  • pay attention and recognize when you’re in a transitional space
  • when your gas gets started pumping, step around to the other side of your vehicle
  • purposeful compliance until your counter-attack or escape opportunity arises
  • counter ambush (i.e., counter-attack)
  • different missions between law enforcement officers and private citizens
    • the mission for a private citizen defensive encounter is to break contact
  • only hits count (close range precision marksmanship)

The close range precision marksmanship of this incident are particularly noticeable in the video. Although Mr. Red was only double arm’s length (5 feet) away, he was also in profile. His target area in total was no larger than a sheet of paper in portrait mode.

Mr. Black was about triple arm’s length (8 feet) away. Like Mr. Red, he was also a profile target and his target area was not very large.

The ability to hit an eight inch circle or even smaller target at close range with the first shot can be essential to survival. Regardless of what one thinks about using the sights under stress, it’s obvious that Captain Joyner had his pistol in his eye-target line. He did this despite both attackers being within proxemic Social Space. An important note about Captain Joyner is that this wasn’t his first rodeo; Oakland is a tough place.

Over his career, Joyner was involved in five shootings as an officer

KTVU

Breaking Contact is one of the fundamental concepts of Thinking Clearly about Self-defense and Personal Protection https://www.payloadz.com/go?id=3377208 It’s a strategy in the sense of doing the right things, as opposed to tactics, which are doing things right.

CCW Safe https://ccwsafe.com/ did an excellent series of blog posts about the concept of Breaking Contact. The key principle and goal is contained in the first post.

Our goal in personal protection is to force a break in contact. We want them to go away, or we want to go away. One or the other.

My article about the basic philosophy of breaking contact is here.

The Oakland POlice Department has posted a clear picture of the getaway vehicle.

Tactical Professor books (all PDF)

Purchase of any book includes Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make.

STOPP Presentation at Rangemaster Tactical Conference

https://www.payloadz.com/go?id=3381307

Failing the Interview

#fridayfundamentals

To my knowledge, John Farnam https://defense-training.com/ coined the term “Failing the Interview.” It is an acknowledgement that the victimization process has two parties, the criminal and the potential victim. Criminals rarely attack victims by doing a ‘Tueller Drill.’ With very rare exceptions, criminal usage of what is commonly called the Tueller Drill is almost exclusively confined to ‘Breaking out of encirclement’ when confronted by the POlice.

Even the most inexperienced criminal knows that proper victim selection is paramount to continued success in criminal endeavors. Poor victim selection, especially in environments where potential victims may be armed, can lead to incarceration at the least and even being shot to death by the victim.

Rather than an abrupt approach, criminals observe a potential victim and decide whether they have or can gain a significant advantage over the victim. It is the first step of Boyd’s Process from the viewpoint of a criminal predator.

This can occur either as an Ambush or during a Movement to Contact, i.e., a hunting expedition. If they feel they can gain an advantage, the victimization process begins. If the criminal doesn’t feel they can gain an advantage, i.e., a GO condition, then they wait or search for another potential victim. This victimization decision process is “The Interview.” It usually takes place without the knowledge of the potential victim, although at times it will be an actual verbal interview.

What I’m looking for, Claude, is big ole bag of money.

A polished and experienced armed robber or extortionist to me on one occasion.

“Failing the interview” is the result of the potential victim’s portrayal of self as being someone who will be difficult to gain an advantage over or who will be uncooperative with the victimization process.

Well, what I’ve got is a bunch of empty tool bags.

My reply to the criminal.

I was tempted to say “I get off work at 10 p.m. Meet me in the parking lot and we’ll get this over with today” but I decided to avoid getting The Last Word In. For both of us, this was merely a rehearsal rather than an actual incident. Criminals practice dry repetitions of their repertoires just like we do.

What is the process to Fail the Interview? The first step to set ourselves up for success in this regard is to be aware of our surroundings. Both we and criminals have an Area of Interest and an Area of Influence.

Joint Publication 3-0 Joint Operations

https://www.jcs.mil/Portals/36/Documents/Doctrine/pubs/jp3_0ch1.pdf?ver=2018-11-27-160457-910

We want the criminal to make a NO GO decision on us while we are still in his Area of Interest and before we reach his Area of Influence. The NO GO decision is the absence of a GO decision. The default for criminals is NO GO because criminals know there are plenty of two-legged cheeseburgers walking around and the next one will be along in just a minute or two.

The second step is to portray ourselves as someone who is aware of and will not cooperate with the victimization process. Although the term ‘victim blaming’ is has been in vogue for some years, that concept is often an excuse for ignorant or foolish behavior. When someone gets badly sunburned, we don’t blame the Sun, we ask why the person spent so much time in the Sun without adequate sunscreen.

As my colleague Brian Hill http://www.thecompletecombatant.com/ points out, walking around with one’s face buried in a cell phone places a person in a posture of submission. Whether the person is actually submissive or not, that posture sets the tone for the victimization process to begin. Blithely talking on a cell phone in transitional spaces is another key indicator to a criminal that the potential victim is not paying attention to their surroundings. This is a way of setting one’s self up for predation. Being aware of our surroundings is a passive way of defeating the predator’s intent.

There are also active ways of Failing the Interview. The easiest is to openly indicate an intent to be uncooperative. Changing direction, displaying positive body language, or simply saying NO https://tacticalprofessor.wordpress.com/2017/09/21/keep-your-tape-loops-short/ are non-violent ways of signaling an uncooperative attitude. They fall into the areas of Escape and Confront in the Avoid, Escape, Confront, Resist https://tacticalprofessor.wordpress.com/2021/07/31/recognition-primed-decision-making-part-iv/ paradigm.

The list of ways to Fail, or Not Fail, the interview is extensive. The first step of all of them is to recognize that The Interview exists and make conscious and continuous efforts to Fail it. If we are effective at Failing the Interview, we won’t have to escalate to the Resist step of A-E-C-R. Preempting the need to go to active Resistance is our best bet for avoiding a Negative Outcome, either during the encounter or afterward.

In every encounter, there is an element of chance.

John Hall, former Head of the FBI Firearms Training Unit

Tactical Professor books (all PDF)

Purchase of any book includes Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make.

STOPP Presentation at Rangemaster Tactical Conference

https://www.payloadz.com/go?id=3381307

The Tactical Professor’s Bus Odyssey

This is a short explanation of my bus journey back to Atlanta from the 2019 SHOT Show in Las Vegas. It’s mostly humorous and we had fun doing it. It was recorded at the Rangemaster 2019 Tactical Conference in New Orleans.

Tactical Professor Information Products

STOPP Presentation at Rangemaster Tactical Conference
https://tacticalprofessor.wordpress.com/2021/09/14/stopp-presentation-now-available/

https://www.payloadz.com/go?id=3381307

Books (all PDF)