As human beings, mythology is implicit in our nature. It compels us.
We seek tales of uncommon valor, of brave deeds beyond mortal limits, of Beowulf, Achilles, Odysseus, Hiawatha, and the archetype, Superman.
Superman... think about it: if you knew what was really involved, who would aspire to be him? Did you ever really think about it? He's an orphan, abandoned, the last survivor from his en...tire planet. He has to pretend he's a myopic, uncoordinated wimp 99% of the time. He can't reveal who he truly is to the woman he loves, so he sleeps alone, and ever will. And even though bullets bounce off him, he's vulnerable to radiation from a stupid green rock that nobody else gives a shit about. He is Totally Alone. Who would pick that life?
But Superman (or Batman, or Spiderman, or Ironman, or any number of other made-up flawed and deeply unhappy heroes) has been the subliminal goal for boys and men and America for decades. "Be heroic, but be unfulfilled, lonely, and miserable as a human being." How did this become something to be admired, to be aspired to? This is totally fucked up.
It has not only fucked up two or three generations of men, it has fucked up two or three generations of women, marriages, and kids. The great PIXAR movie "The Incredibles" captured the gist of it... but it took the cheap (and admittedly entertaining!) out by letting the entire Incredibles family express their "super" sides. But the truth is that we human beings do not have a "super side". And the myth of superheroism is destroying us.
Learning how to be Not-Superman has been a hard focus for me for a while now. And as I work for success in this endeavor, I'm persuading some pretty damn good real world heroes and heroines to this view.
Don't be, or expect to be, a Superhero. Be a Dad-hero. Be a Coach-hero. Be a Husband-hero. Be a Cop-Hero, a Nurse-Hero, a Platoon-Commander-Hero, a Boss-hero, a Barrista-hero. Be a hero where you are, but above all be a hero who is YOU. 
Do NOT put on a costume or a mask, do not hide behind a secret identity, do NOT exile yourself from who you truly are because someone you think you love wants you to, or how forcefully Society pushes you to do it.

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I've neglected this blog for several months now, I apologize. 2013 was a difficult and chaotic year for me, personally, and I had to let Tactical Anatomy business take a backseat to personal and professional challenges. I am glad to see the end of 2013. 

I hope to be able to put more time and energy into Tactical Anatomy this year, but the first three months of 2014 are going to be very busy for me, so it might be a slow start. At this point I have NO CLASSES scheduled for 2014. Of the 4 SXRV and TTGSW classes scheduled in 2013, only one class gathered enough students to make it possible to hold the training, and I still posted a financial loss on my books. Two of the other three classes had ZERO registrants, despite a lot of emails, etc. I know that trainers across the country are having trouble filling their classes due to the poor economy and the uncertainty caused by the impending Obamacare onslaught, but still... It's discouraging to see so little tangible support for the training I offer. 

If you are interested in attending a SXRV or TTGSW class in 2014, please consider the possibility of hosting the class in your area. If you are willing to take this job on, I'll give you the tools you need to get students signed up (and paid up!), and in turn you'll get up to 3 free slots in the class for you and your friends/family. This is the only way we can get these classes off the ground, so please consider hosting. 

Training has always been less popular with the vast majority of shooters than hardware is. Yesterday a friend posted a link on Facebook to a training article on The MOAT Group's website that I thought was spot-on. I reposted it on my Facebook page, and got a few interesting comments. 

In particular, I love this quote from the article: "Far too many folks are under the impression that buying and carrying a blade and/or firearm makes them more prepared or inclined to defend themselves. This mindset is like assuming you know how to play guitar simply by going to a store and buying one." 

As a guitar player of many years' experience, this parallel struck me as being particularly appropriate. Learning to shoot a firearm well, particularly a pistol, is a slow and sometimes frustrating journey. So is learning to play a guitar (like the Bryan Adams song goes, "Got my first real 6-string down at the five and dime, played it till my fingers bled in the summer of 69"). Learning how to play a guitar well enough to stand up in front of people and entertain them is another thing entirely, though... it's a whole 'nother level of learning and training to get to that point of musicianship. 

The parallel in firearms competency is apt. A man might be able to punch holes in paper at the range with accuracy, and even shoot his deer every fall, but that is not the same as knowing how to fight with that firearm. Learning how to fight with a rifle or pistol is akin to learning how to play your guitar well enough to stand up on a stage and entertain.

The people you can go to for that sort of training aren't on every street corner. The average concealed handgun permit instructor has no training in gunfighting, nor are you likely to find someone at your local gunclub who can competently teach that class. You aren't going to learn gunfighting by taking classes from big-name IDPA or IPSC competitors. And you aren't going to learn it by buying a DVD set from an advertisement in the back pages of American Handgunner. No, you're going to have to do the research and find one of the schools scattered around the country that do it right, you'll have to invest the money to travel and pay for that school. It's not real expensive, but it ain't cheap.

The problem is that most people look at the cost of a school that will teach them something about gunfighting and they think, "Man, that is way too much money!"... but they never take the time to put it into perspective. You can attend a class at Gunsite or Thunder Ranch for about what you'd pay for a midrange-priced custom 1911. Open up your gunsafe and count your guns, then multiply by an average price of, say $600. If you've got 10 guns, which is not a lot of guns for a regular shooter, that means you've got $6 thousand invested in guns alone, never mind the money you've invested in ammunition, reloading equipment, holsters, match fees, and so forth.

So be realistic: doesn't it make sense to spend 25% of what you've already invested in your firearms & shooting equipment, to learn how to use it effectively in defense of your life?  

Last month I read a story about a guy who was fishing for sharks in one of those sit-on-top sea kayaks, with his legs dangling in the water. A shark took his foot and part of his lower leg off, and he was bleeding to death rapidly. Fortunately, he had the foresight to carry a trauma kit with him, and had a tourniquet. Unfortunately, neither he nor his fishing partner knew how to apply it. He bled to death despite having the perfect lifesaving equipment right there, because he never bothered to get the training in how to use it!!!

I urge every reader to think long and hard about this. You never know when you may face a life-threatening emergency that you will only survive if you use the emergency equipment you have on hand: your pistol, your rifle, your fire extinguisher, your tourniquet. Are you sure you have trained with this equipment enough that you will be able to use it effectively when the shit hits the fan, your heart rate is 150 bpm, and your hands are shaking from the adrenalin dump?

If your answer to that question is not a 100% confident YES, then you have just told yourself you need to spend the money and time to get the training that will take you to that level. Tactical Anatomy Systems offers two classes: Shooting With Xray Vision which is school covering the mental aspect of gunfighting, and Tactical Treatment of Gunshot Wounds, which is a school training in the critical trauma care skills needed in the tactical environment once the bullets start to fly. I teach these classes anywhere in the USA, provided enough people sign up for them. Think about hosting one of my classes, or putting together a group of your friends to come down and take the class from me here in Texas. If you want a more comprehensive course in either discipline, drop me a line and I will be glad to help direct you to the schools and trainers you require.

But please, get serious about your training. If you're not trained, you're just pretending.  

Best wishes to all for 2014. 


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I know, I know, the title is grammatically incorrect. It should be "fewer" bullets. But I'm no English teacher, so please bear with me. 

Here's the deal: most people I know who carry a handgun daily, whether LEO's or private citizens, don't carry enough ammunition. If you've followed my blog, or taken one of my classes, or you've listened to people who've BTDT and carry a boatload of ammo everywhere they go, you should know this. But I haven't covered this topic in a while, so I'm going to put it out there again for those who might have missed it last time around. 

This blog entry was prompted by an article on a police website last week about an Illinois cop who got into a shootout with a "highly motivated" felon who was determined not to go down. The cop hit the felon multiple times with his service handgun, a high-capacity .45 ACP, and according to the ME at least 6 of those hits were fatal wounds. But the guy just kept on coming at him with murderous intent until the cop finally put a bullet in the felon's brainpan, and finished the fight.

I wish I could say that this was an exceptional case... but it wasn't, and it isn't.

The plain truth is this: contrary to internet mythology, a substantial minority of "good" gunfights involve dozens of shots fired, if not scores of shots fired. For example, in the Pennsylvania shoot-out that made internet rounds several years ago (and which I review as core material in my Shooting WIth Xray Vision classes), a total of 107 rounds of ammunition were fired by 3 police officers, while the single felon fired in excess of 30 rounds back at them. The subject was hit 17 times and, yes, he died of his wounds en route to hospital, but he was still fighting the cops when they put the cuffs on him.  

My good colleague Chief Jeff Chudwin shows a video in one of his classes in which a lone officer gets into a shootout with a felon and is forced to take cover behind his vehicle with only the ammunition on his person, i.e., one hi-capacity magazine in his service handgun and two more mags on his belt. He ran out of ammunition within 2 minutes, and the only thing that prevented his adversary from stalking him down and murdering him was the arrival of a second officer just as he ran out of bullets.

I could go on, and on, and on. I have literally dozens of similar cases related to me. Not from "a friend of a friend", but by the involved officers themselves.

Ammunition is dissipated amazingly rapidly in a gunfight. If you don't put your adversary down, and I mean down, with your first 2 to 5 rounds, you're almost certainly going to be dealing with incoming fire. Which means you're going to be moving to cover, and your adversary is going to be moving, too. Hit ratios drop into the low single digits when both fighters are moving, the statistics show. And you know you're going to be firing while moving to cover, because you want to keep your enemy off-balance so he can't draw a good bead on you while you do so. 

So let's do the math. Your attacker points his gun, you see a opportunity to fight, so you draw and fire a double tap to his "center of mass". He acts like you didn't hit him and fires back. Suddenly you're both moving to cover and rounds are going both ways. Let's say your route to cover was 5 yards and you fired rounds as fast as you could while getting there. That's 2 initial rounds, then another 8 rounds while moving to cover. If you've got a hi-cap auto, you're probably OK now without a tactical reload; if you're carrying a revolver or a single-stack 1911, you were empty before you got to cover. If your enemy has a hi-cap auto and he heard your hammer going snap-snap-snap he knows he's got you, and while you're trying to reload (assuming you have a spare mag or speedloader), he may well close in on you and execute you.

It happened to the California Highway Patrol troopers at Newhall in 1970, kids, and it can just as easily happen to you. Unless you prepare for the worst.  


When I was still an active member of my county's SWAT team in Wisconsin, on my armor vest I carried 9 single-stack magazines for my SIG P220 service handgun (72 rounds), and five 30-round magazines for my M4 carbine (150 rounds). Most of the rest of the guys on the team were similarly kitted-out. We read the reports, we did some training exercises that proved to us how quickly we could run dry with a "standard" load-out, and after that, we all carried a LOT more ammo. Regular patrol deputies initially carried only 2 spare mags for their SIG's on their duty belts, but most quickly upgraded to a minimum of 4 spare mags in a quad magazine holder.

What about the armed private citizen? I know there are some folks who figure that if they carry a fully-loaded gun, they're GTG. And honestly, since the chances of getting into a gunfight as a private citizen are miniscule, it's hard to argue with them. But I do argue with them.  They've already acknowledged that there is risk out there, which is the reason they carry a gun in the first place. If a person is already carrying a deadly weapon, why not carry a spare magazine as well? The extra weight is too much? It's inconvenient to add a mag carrier to your concealment rig? Come on!

I strongly recommend the armed citizen should carry at least one fully loaded spare magazine on his person at all times. 

I also strongly recommend the armed citizen to select a hi-capacity autoloading handgun as his primary weapon. I used to carry a revolver or a 1911 as my primary weapon, but over time I came to realize the folly of that. I now carry a Glock 19 as my primary weapon, but I'd be equally happy with a Springfield XD, S&W M&P, or SIG 229. I don't care about caliber, as I have stated before. But I do care about having enough rounds on my person to finish a gunfight, if one should break out. 

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Well, we finally went live with the website upgrade today, and I'm feeling really good about that! 

This upgrade will make registering for classes MUCH easier online, and we will soon have digital downloads available on the website as well, including a digital version of the Tactical Anatomy Instructor Manual (1st edition). I've been reaaaalllllllyyyy busy with some hard Real Life issues for the past few months (no, none of which involve Medical Malpractice or criminal charges, LOL), which has taken away from my time on the rewrite of the Manual, but rest assured that by autumn (or what passes for autumn down here in the west Texas mesquite brush!) the 2nd edition will be available. 

The 2nd edition will contain all of the good stuff folks have come to know and love in the 1st edition, but will have new text chapters on Adult Learning Theory for the firearms instructor, range training drills for live fire and NLTA (SIMS and Airsoft), as well as an update on MILO scenarios shot using Tactical Anatomy hit zones, and how to use them. I think a LOT of folks will be interested in the chapter I'm currently writing, which consists of reports of successful real-time, real-world shootings by LE/military personnel who used their SXRV training to bring their deadly force situation to a swift and righteous conclusion. I'm considering including a chapter touching on the basics of Tactical Treatment of Gunshot Wounds as well, but it remains to be seen whether I can get that down to a manageable size. If I can't, I'm just gonna have to make it its own book.

Changes in the printing/publishing industry are forcing us all toward a new paradigm. I will not be printing any more copies of the 1st edtion of the Tactical Anatomy Instructor Manual, because costs are prohibitive and there are simply much better ways of getting this information out to folks who need it. The 2nd edition will be available in two formats: as a digital download direct from the TAS website, or as print-on-demand hard copy book available from an internet publisher. Both will be cheaper than the current sale price, because I won't have to be eating the obscene costs of printing these books myself as I have been doing since 2006.

I promise you I am working as hard as I can to get this second edition up and available for y'all, but like I said, Real Life intrudes mightily on me at present so I can't promise a specific deadline. 

As for folks waiting for their member status to be approved... Now that we have the new website up, you will be getting some good news soon. There's a ton of y'all, though, so it may take me a week or two. I review every membership application personally, and that takes time. Please be patient and I'll get it done as fast as I can.  

On another e-front, I'm in the process of putting together some video downloads as well, which will come online as production moves forward. I'm a neophyte in the world of Youtube, but it seems that folks want to see prospective instructors in action before they plunk down their hard-earned cash for a class, which is totally reasonable as far as I'm concerned. There are so many jackasses out there selling ridiculous "training" that is as likely to get you killed or prosecuted (and always fleeced) that I believe it behooves anyone wanting to advance his deadly force skillset to seriously check my training out. So I'm going to be putting out a few Youtube videos in the next few months, which will also be available here on the TAS website once I get them produced. 

Please be warned... the first couple of videos are gonna be rough. I've been recording them on my iPhone, and using editing software to put them together. Whenever I get a few days off ER call and have respite from my Real Life issues, I'll be driving into Town where Best Buy lives to buy a decent digital video camera. Until then, it's gonna be grainy and edgy... but I hope the message will be clear enough. 

In other news, we are a GO for both SXRV classes in Saukville, WI, on July 12 and 13. Class registration is limited and filling fast, so do NOT delay if you want to sign up. I can't take more than 30 people per class. 

OK. That's about all I have to say about that, as Forrest Gump would say.

Tactical is as tactical does, it doesn't matter a damn what color you paint your gear. Scouts out. 


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Submit to DeliciousSubmit to DiggSubmit to FacebookSubmit to Google BookmarksSubmit to StumbleuponSubmit to TechnoratiSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn's website is undergoing a major overhaul. The "old" software that my webmaster used to build this site originally is now obsolete and unsupported, so we're having to upgrade to new programs. The website will look very much the same as the old one, but the stuff working in the background will be faster and more efficient.

You will probably notice a couple of cool new things show up when we go live, and other stuff that will be added over the next several months. For one thing, we are going to have the Tactical Anatomy Instructor Manual digitized and available as a download from the website. Hard copies of the book will still be available for purchase, but the costs of printing are so high that I will be able to sell you a downloaded copy of the book for about 2/3 the price of a hard copy.  Another cool feature of the new website will be that upcoming classes will be available for online registration and payment. We had a real hard time getting that to work in the old website but my webmaster has upgraded the software so we can do it efficiently in the new website. We will also have downloadable videos, of classes and of some other cool stuff. Video downloads will be split into two categories, with the more graphic/sensitive stuff being available to members only.

Speaking of upcoming classes, here's what I've got scheduled for the next few months:

Shooting With Xray Vision (law enforcement and military personnel only) at Saukville Policed Department, Saukville, WI, July 12, 2013

Shooting With Xray Vision for Civilians, Saukville Police Department, July 13, 2013

Shooting With Xray Vision (one class open to both LE and civilians), Evergreen Sportsmen's Club, Olympia, WA, October 7, 2013.

Registration for all 3 classes will be accessible within the next couple of weeks when the new website goes live. If you want to nail down your spot prior to that, shoot me an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and I'll get you squared away. 

One negative effect of the rebuild is that I have had to suspend adding new members to the site temporarily... so if you have been waiting for your membership to be activated, this is the reason for the delay. We should be able to activate all of your memberships shortly.

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 I realize that my blog isn't exactly FOX news, so this message isn't likely to get to very many cops before this is all over and done with, but still I am doing what I can. 

Word out this morning is that the surviving terrorist is wearing a bomb vest. 

Anyone who has taken my training, or similar training, knows that the ONLY solution to a bomb vest is to put a bullet through this guy's brainstem before he can detonate the explosives. The best way to do this is with a rifle at a safe distance. I don't know how much explosive he's got on him, so I can't tell you what a "safe" distance is in this case, but I would guess that 50 yards would be about right. Anyone with experience from the Sandbox on this, please feel free to contact me (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) and I will post updated radius intel. 

Please be clear on this, I am NOT advocating assassinating this man. But there may be no other alternative that will not cost the lives of law enforcement officers and/or civilian bystanders. 

Do NOT approach this man if you identify him, until/unless his bomb vest and/or triggering mechanism/BHG (brain housing group) have been neutralized. 

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Last week I explained why everyone should have a 9mm. This week I'm going to explain  why no one needs a 380. I realize this is going to upset some people, but the truth is the truth, and I've done enough research on this topic to have confidence I know the truth about this topic. 

Now, first thing: just because I say you don't need a 380 doesn't mean I disapprove of you wanting or having a 380, or even a bunch of 380's. We all have pet calibers and guns that we own and shoot for the sheer pleasure of it, and there's nothing wrong with that. I have a couple little 32 H&R Magnum revolvers that are a hoot, for example. But I for damn sure don't carry them as defensive tools. 

A handgun is a relatively anemic fighting tool when compared to more serious combat arms such as rifles, shotguns, and crew-served weapons. Those of us who carry handguns for defensive purposes should do so with the understanding that the fighting handgun is not a definitive solution, but a practical one. The fighting handgun is a compromise between compactness and portability on the one hand and lethal force utility on the other. In other words, a handgun is the smallest and most packable firearm you can get, but it's also the weakest firearm you can get. 

So since we've already hobbled ourselves by carrying something that's less effective than a long arm, my view on this is that we shouldn't give ourselves an extra handicap by carrying a handgun chambered for a cartridge that is demonstrably ineffective. 

I often refer to the "service calibers" in my work. These are the calibers that are carried by law enforcement and military personnel here in the USA, and abroad. These calibers have all been tested and found to be adequate in gunfighting both in the ballistics lab and on the street. These calibers are 9x19mm (9mm Luger), 357 Sig, 40 S&W, and 45 ACP, in autopistols, and 38 Special, 357 Magnum, and 44 Special in revolvers. (There are a few bigger calibers out there such as the 41 Magnum, 44 Magnum, 45 Colt, 50 AE, and others that are carried by a lawman or two here and there, but they're not commonly issued calibers, so I exclude them from the general term of Service Calibers.) 

All of the above-named service calibers have been thoroughly tested and meet the FBI ballistics protocols established in 1986. Jacketed hollowpoint (JHP) bullets in these calibers will penetrate 10-12" of standard ballistic gelatin after passing through 4 layers of denim, and the bullets will expand reliably. Moreover, most of these bullets will penetrate intermediate barriers (e.g. laminated automobile glass) and still perform to an adequate standard in gelatin. 

However, almost no 380 ACP ammunition that I have personally tested or witnessed being tested will meet the FBI ballistic performance minimums. I was at a class last March at a SWAT conference at which a ballistics test expert from Federal/ATK gave a very impressive and thorough demonstration of the performance of various LE ammo (from Federal/Speer as well as other manufacturers). He shot ballistic gelatin blocks with all kinds of guns and ammo, through all kinds of intermediate barriers, and favorably impressed the class attendees with just about everything, even little 38 snubbies. But when it came to the 380, the results were dismal. One member of the class had his new pocket BUG, a Ruger LCP 380, and we watched it perform. The little 90 gr bullets barely penetrated 5 inches of bare gelatin, and half of that through 4 layers of denim. 

Folks, that's not performance you can stake your life on. 

It may be comfortable to carry a tiny 380 caliber pistol, but it sure as hell ain't comforting when you know how anemic this cartridge is. And it simply doesn't make sense to down-grade to a 380 when there are ultra-compact pistols like the Kahr PM9/CW9 chambered in 9x19mm that are as small as most 380's. 

As my good friend Mas Ayoob often says, "Friends don't let friends carry mouseguns."  I think that's good advice for all of us, and if you're a member of my website, you're a friend, so I need to pass this bit of wisdom on to you. Don't carry a 380 for personal defense. Just don't do it. 

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 Everyone needs at least one 9mm pistol. I don't mean your only pistol caliber should be 9mm, but if you find yourself with just one pistol, it should be a 9mm. 

The reasons for this are many and varied, and I can't possibly put them all down in one blog session, but for starters just consider that it is unquestionably the most ubiquitous pistol round in the world. I would venture to say there are more loaded rounds of 9mm ammunition in the world than all other service calibers put together. This should tell you something about the utility of the round for general military and law enforcement sidearms use. 

But to get to some specifics:

1. The 9mm is a compact cartridge. This means you can carry more rounds in a given pistol chambered in 9mm than if you're carrying a .40 or .45.  Example: the Glock 17 holds 18 rounds of 9mm, while the .40 caliber version of the same gun, the G22, holds 15 rounds. Does this really matter? Hard to say... but I know guys who work in Executive Protection who assure me that they all carry Glock 17's, in no small part because they have plenty of anecdotal evidence from EP guys all over the world who have needed fast access to all 18 rounds in executing a successful protection/extrication. And because it's compact, you can carry more reloads, too. 

2. The compact size of  the 9x19 cartridge also means gunmakers can chamber extremely small pistols like the Kahr M9/PM9, the Keltec PF9, and the Ruger LCP. I carry a Kahr PM9 as my "always" gun, which means it's my backup gun (BUG) even when I'm packing a larger pistol, and my only gun when I'm in maximum concealment mode. And I can shoot it very, very well, even with +P ammunition.

3. The 9mm is about as light-kicking  a round that packs enough punch to win a gunfight. This means it's highly controllable for just about anybody who can shoot a handgun. This means it's more likely to be an accurate pistol in most people's hands, and as the late Bill Jordan said, when it comes to gunfights, accuracy is the final word. 

4. The small size of the 9mm cartridge means it's cheaper to manufacture (or reload your own, if you're so inclined) than any other service caliber cartridge. Cheap is good. 

5. The 9mm has more than enough power to deliver lethal force to your attacker's vital hit zones. I have plenty of stories in my files about the effectiveness of the 9mm in Officer Involved Shootings world wide. Members of this website can go to the members-only area and look at the photos of the would-be armed robbers shot by that cop in Brazil a few years back. He was shooting a 9mm pistol and his duty ammo, which was, IIRC, 115 gr +P Magtech JHP ammo. It's a deadly cartridge provided you put your bullets where they need to go... but that applies to all service caliber handgun cartridges from 9mm through 10mm and 45ACP.

So now you're convinced you need a 9mm handgun. Which one should you get? 

Well, I admit I'm biased very strongly toward the Glock 19. It's a good sized pistol, but slightly more compact than the G17, a great shooter, and reliable as all get-out. I prefer my Glocks with a NY-1 trigger, which is more crisp than the standard Glock trigger, and with a shorter reset. Combine that with a 3.5 pound trigger connect and an internal polishing job, and you've got one sweet-shooting pistol that is uber-reliable. Other 9mm's I know and trust in the fullsize category include the G17, the Browning Hi-Power, the Beretta M9 and its Brazilian clone, the Taurus PT-92, and the great Smith & Wesson Model 39/59/69 pistols plus their new M&P line.

You should probably get at least one sub-compact 9mm, too. The Glock 26 is a great pistol, if a bit chunky. The previously mentioned Kahr PM9/CW9 pistol is a phenomenal little 9mm handgun, and while it's kind of ugly, the Kel-Tec PF9 is a rock-solid subcompact as well.

I have found a 9mm pistol that fits the hands of all the shooters in my family. My youngest daughter and my son both prefer the S&W 6906, while my elder daughter prefers the Glock 19. My youngest daughter has also obtained her CCW permit, and is planning to purchase a Kahr CW9 for her standard carry gun. With my G19 or Taurus PT92 on my belt and my Kahr in my pocket, I round out the group nicely, and we can all share and shoot the exact same ammo. I have a Dillon Square Deal B set up in my shop to reload 9mm ammo in quantity, so we have no excuses not to go to the range to maintain our proficiency.  

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Low light training with your carry sidearms is an oft-overlooked opportunity in the non-LE world. And it shouldn't be.

In my research over the past 15 years or more, I've read a lot of tales of self-defense shootings. Shootings that took place in the home, on the street, in the woods, you name it. But the thing that I realized with crystal clarity long ago is that the great majority of these shootings happened in dark places.

This makes sense, doesn't it? Criminal activity goes up sharply after dark, as any cop (or ER doc!) knows. In fact, fully 60% or more of police shootings, depending on jurisdiction, occur between dusk and dawn. That's why cops do (some) range training in the dark.

But non-LE citizens don't train in the dark. I know this for a fact. I used to run an annual IDPA night match at my club in Wisconsin to give folks an opportunity to find out just how much tougher it is to shoot in the dark. Our usual club matches drew 40 people every month, more or less; but our Night Match registration never hit 15. Folks apparently don't want to shoot in the dark. They don't want to shoot when it's cold and windy and rainy, either, but those conditions don't correlate well with criminal activity.

But criminals love darkness. And that's why chances are pretty good that if you ever have to use your defensive firearms, it's gonna be dark.

So if you're serious about self-defense with your firearms, get some low-light training. Do it yourself, or take it from a school.

If you belong to a gun club, especially a club that runs IDPA or IPSC matches, find out if they will sponsor or even just allow some low-light training. If they don't want to do that, then get some buddies together and find a place in the country where you can shoot safely after dark, and then go out and do it. A word to the wise, though: do yourself a favor and call the Sheriff's office and let them know where you'll be conducting your training, and at what times. You REALLY don't want the SWAT team showing up with flash-bangs and gas at this gig.

In my night matches, as in my more serious low-light training, I like to give people the opportunity to shoot in 4 different low-light environments. This allows people to familiarize themselves with their weapon(s) in the kinds of settings they're most likely to encounter. You can expand on this at your discretion. For instance, in one of my SWAT team's training sessions, we had the guys go from the vehicles in bright sunlight with their tactical Oakley's on, and enter a building that was pitch-dark, and then put "live" fire on them (paintball guns and blank guns). You never saw so many pairs of $150 sunglasses hit the deck that fast!

So here are the four basic environments I like to start with:

1) Targets in front of you, and lights behind you. A car's headlights will work for this. You want the targets fairly close, say 10 yards or less. This will be pretty easy for most people, as they can see the targets, and see their sights.

2) Targets in front of you, and lights behind the targets. You'll need some yard floodlights for this. Protect the lights, or someone is sure to shoot 'em out. Trust me on this. This gets a lot harder than the first scenario. You can see your sights when they're perfectly aligned, but once they drift out (like in recoil, after each shot!) acquiring them again is a bitch.

3) Targets, a gun, and a flashlight. Now, it gets interesting. You should try the various flashlight techniques... Rogers, Harries, etc, to find out which one sucks the least. Targets need to be close--3 yards or less. And you need to make sure BEFORE you go to the firing line that everyone has PRACTICED their flashlight technique, so they don't cross their muzzles over their flashlight hands on the draw stroke. If you want to make it interesting, put a picture of a toddler in her jammies on a swinger and have her pop out once the shooting starts. This can be very humbling. If you're going to try shooting while moving, this is NOT the place to do it. At least not in the first couple of tries. If your team works with weapons-mounted lights, so much the better. Use them.

4) Targets, a gun, and no light at all. This is my favorite course of fire, period. I know, I'm a sick f**k. Use a red light to illuminate the targets for 2 seconds, turn the light off, then have the shooter draw and fire on the targets. I will typically set out an array of 5-6 IDPA targets from 2 to 10 yards. You'll find you can "see" the afterimage of the targets on your retinas from the light of your muzzle flashes. But if you don't have night sights, you ain't gonna hit much.

You can add as much as you want to these four basic elements, but I strongly recommend you use these four as your starting point. After you have these things mastered, introduce one concept at a time: shooting while moving, shooting at moving targets, non-threat targets, shooting from positions of disadvantage. You name it, you can do it in the dark.

I guarantee you that this is the most fun you can have in the dark, with all your clothes on. Naked, I expect there are other things that might compete, but still...

Range safety is paramount in a low-light shoot, and you have to ramp up your protocols accordingly. In the dark, you don't want people loading and unloading; let them load in a lighted area, then come to the firing line "hot". Have one range safety officer for every shooter, and have them play man-to-man defense. Stuff can go sideways in a hurry in a low-light scenario! The only thing I can think of that is harder to do than shoot in the dark, is to perform CPR and critical first aid in the dark..

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 I don't like Facebook. 

Except I do. 

I hate assholes who post ignorant--and I truly mean IGNORANT--stuff on social networks like Facebook. But I recognize that social networking is a big part of how people communicate in this day and age,

Which is why TAS has gone on to make itself its own Facebook page.

Col. Cooper would be appalled, I expect.


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Screen shot of Dr. Williams being interviewed by Police One TV