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2018 Training AAR, and new Force Science Institute Paper

Greetings, war brothers and sisters, and Merry Christmas!

2018 was a busier-than-usual-lately training year for Tactical Anatomy Systems. In addition to having the honor of being asked to return to teach at the IALEFI-ATC (International Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors – Annual Training Conference), I was brought in to conduct training with several LEA’s. On top of that, I was brought in to provide expert testimony in two separate (but similar) lawsuits brought by condemned men to have their executions conducted by Firing Squad. An interesting side note, this last bit… and one I’m sure will garner a lot of negative publicity for me if the mainstream media decides to act like the pack of jackals they are on this issue. 

On the training side, it was a really good year. By this I don’t mean financially, as Tactical Anatomy Systems barely breaks even at best. No, I mean it was a good year because the agencies I was brought in to train for the most part performed superbly. I would like to single out Captain Michael Maynard and his Nevada Department of Wildlife LE Division officers, who brought me out to their training facility in Winnemucca, NV, in March. This group of men and women performed at a level of firearms proficiency that met or exceeded that of any SWAT team I’ve ever trained with, and that says a lot. I’d like to point out that every group of wildlife enforcement officers I’ve ever trained was well above the average in firearms proficiency, by the way,  but this Nevada bunch was truly exceptional. 

There’s good reason for that. First, wildlife LEO’s tend to be pretty damn self-reliant types to start with. The nature of the job means they work alone 99% of the time, with no backup whatsoever, so they know they have to perform at a high enough standard to stay alive in any SHTF scenario. In other words, they are motivated to be highly proficient with their firearms. But in the Nevada DOW group, I believe they have a second advantage: a command staff that takes firearms training very, very seriously, and puts their money where their mouth is. I wish every LEA administrator in America could be more like Captain Maynard. 

However, I also trained one agency that was a grave disappointment to me. Despite their training sergeant’s claim that they were “highly trained”, this group of cops performed so poorly with their firearms I had to spend more than half the allotted range time teaching basic firearms skills. These cops never train strong-hand-only, and less than half of them had ever fired their duty handgun with their nondominant hand. They never conducted low-light shooting. They never conducted force-on-force training. Not surprisingly, they had a hard time managing even the most basic SXRV training exercises.  At the end of that training day, I had to say a prayer for the good citizens of that city, because in an armed encounter with Bad Guys, the cops there are not going to be able to help them. 

(As I’ve said before, do NOT take SXRV unless you and/or your officers have a degree of firearms proficiency equivalent to a USPSA C-class level. This is not a beginners class, nor a remedial class. It is high-performance combatives training. Come prepared. You won’t be shooting a lot of rounds, but the rounds you do shoot will have a high level of expectation attached to them. You will learn stuff at SXRV that you can use to hone your personal training and/or develop training for your department, but this is not a class designed to make you a better shooter. It’s a class that will make you a better fighter. Learning to shoot better is on YOU.)

Which brings me to the sad case of the recent Force Science Institute study analyzing the firearms performance figures for the CIty of Dallas, TX, Police Department. (I have not trained with Dallas PD, in case you wondered.) If you have not read this report, you can read a summary of it on my Facebook page or go directly to Force Science Institute’s website for the full paper. 

What it breaks down to is this: Dallas PD officers were involved in one-on-one OIS’s 149 times from 2003 to 2017 (14 years, or 10.6 OIS’s per annum). They had a hit ratio of only 35% in these OIS’s, and in more than half of those OIS’s the cops missed the target with every round.  Now, folks who’ve taken my class will already know the sad fact that this is actually better than average performance for America’s law enforcement officers, who typically hit their target only 20% of the time. But 35% is still pretty dismal, and far, far below the 80+% hit ratios being achieved by SXRV-trained agencies. 

How does this happen? 

Simple: don’t train enough, and don’t train well. Design a simple qualification CoF that any idiot can pass so as to keep them all on the streets, and call it good. That’s what Dallas PD has been doing. And it’s what many, if not most, of America’s law enforcement agencies are doing. 

Contrast that with the sort of training conducted by Sgt. Joe Szaz and the FTU of City of Milwaukee PD, with whom I’ve had the pleasure of working for many years. MPD conducts firearms inservice training quarterly, and this is in addition to shooting qualifications twice annually. Each inservice is a 4-hour session, and Milwaukee coppers typically blow off well above 100 rounds in closely regulated exercises at each training session. It’s no wonder that MPD’s hit ratio is the highest I’ve ever seen or heard of among metro police departments in America. 

Again: the difference isn’t just in the quantity and quality of the firearms training given to these deparments. It’s a top-down deal. Good command staff want their cops to have the tools they need to succeed on the streets, and they make sure they get it.  

So hats off to those great police administrators and firearms training units across America who are doing what’s needed to get this job done. Now if someone can just get the word over to Dallas PD…

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God bless Texas. 

And no, I don’t write that in the flip way so many people use the phrase…. offhand, reflexive, expressing the sentiment and the rhythm and almost-rhyme of the phrase, but not really meaning it. 

I mean it when I say it. I say it as a prayer. Yes, I believe in God, and in Jesus of Nazareth, the risen savior of the world. I don’t beat folks over the head with it, but I believe it in my heart and bones. So when I say, “God bless Texas”, I say it to anyone in earshot, but primarily I say it to God. Asking God to keep on blessing this amazing place and these amazing people. 

I am a Texan, and I thank God for that, too. As the saying goes, “Texas: I wasn’t born here, but I got here as fast as I could.” I, and millions of other Texans, are immigrants to this great state, and for good reason. We didn’t move here because it was a toss-up between here, or California, or Florida, or Alabama… we moved here because Texas has become the shining example to the rest of America of the indisputable values that America great to begin with. 

Texas is traditional America personified and with the authority of statehood. Texas encourages business, and businesses thrive here because of it. Texas rejoices in personal financial success of its 28 million citizens by not imposing a state income tax on their hard-earned dollars. And contrary to the bigoted views of east coast and west coast liberals, Texas is a racially and socially diverse state that takes damn good care of its citizens with laws that actually have some commonsense basis in the values that America was founded on. 

Texas is about living well, and living right. Texas is about letting others get on with their lives even if they’re different. Again, despite the stereotypes perpetuated by echo-chamber coastal journalism, Texas is not a backward place where people of color fear for their lives from the Klan or any other boogeyman. 

I’m writing this piece this morning at the airport in Corpus Christi, Texas, waiting to board a flight for Nevada (one of my other favorite states). Tomorrow I will be teaching a Shooting With Xray Vision class to a group of Nevada law enforcement folks. Yesterday I was working up in my old home town in west Texas, where I had lunch with the chief deputy of the county Sheriff’s Office, and we discussed that county’s plans to train a select group of teachers in their school district to carry firearms in their schools for the defense of their children (and they might want TAS to come in and assist in that training). So I had two red-letter days on my mind here  when I got to the airport, and I was already in a really good mood when I walked into the airport store where they sell magazines and books and sundries. 

But it got better. When I approached the magazine rack, there was a plethora of gun magazines. I don’t mean the usual cou8ple-three “outdoors” magazines you find in most airport newsstands. I mean that out of the 80 or so magazines on that huge rack, 12 were gun and/or hunting magazines. I bought the new editions of Guns of the West, Lands & Grooves, Garden & Gun, and Western Horse & Gun. 

Now, there’s something important about these four magazines, in case you haven’t seen a copy. These are all upscale magazines. I don’t mean “upscale” in the sense of Gray’s Sporting Journal or Shooting Sportsman, which are fine and well-established magazines. No, these new magazines that are clearly targeting a market that the mainstream media is trying to pretend doesn’t exist: people who have (or aspire to) wealth, who believe in the core values of America, and who are unashamed of their enthusiasm for firearms. These magazines are aimed at family men, business leaders, and women as much as men. (If there is one trend in the past decade that bears closer scrutiny, it’s the surging interest in firearms and shooting among women… mark my words, female gun-owners and shooters are going to be the demographic that finally kills the anti-gunners’ agenda in America.)

The MSM wants America to believe the stereotype of the white beer-gut ignoramus redneck male as the typical gun owner. They want to dehumanize gun people… actually, they have to dehumanize us, because it’s only by dehumanizing us that they can generate the hatred of us in their readers and viewers that they have themselves. Pejorative names and shallow stereotypes were crucial tools of propagandists in WW1 and WW2, when the Germans were called Heinies and Krauts in Britain, the Japanese were called Slopes or Nips in America, and cartoon caricatures of big-nose evil-looking Jews were used to fan the flames of anti-semitism Germany. And that is exactly what the liberal media is trying to do with us today.

If you dehumanize the people you fear, it’s easier to hate them. And that is what the MSM is trying to do to us, the people who own and carry and shoot firearms. 

But it ain’t working here in Texas. Here in Texas we embrace the “gun culture”, because it’s our culture, and guns are only a part of it. And it ain’t working in large segments of “flyover country” in Ohio and Iowa and Nebraska and Utah, and most of the other non-coastal states. Here, in the real America, we know guns are tools and symbols of free men and women.  

So, I say again: God bless Texas. And God bless all of my fellow gun-owning Americans who share the rock-solid American values that make Texas and America  great. 

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Are You Wearing Someone Else’s Uniform?

A police training advocate and former police chief, former federal prosecutor, and continuing very smart man, Chief Jeff Chudwin is a man I am honored to call my colleague and friend. I first heard him speak at the ILEETA convention in Wheeling, IL, a number of years ago. He said something then that stuck with me, and should stick with you:

“If you don’t get up and go to work every day expecting to get into a fight, then you are wearing a uniform that rightfully belongs to someone else.”

I took Jeff’s words as a personal challenge. At the time, I was the Medical Officer for the Waupaca County Sheriff’s Office and SWAT Medic. I had a uniform, a sidearm, a rifle, and I responded to SWAT callouts routinely. Now, I was never supposed to be the guy at the top of the stack of the entry team, and I was never the designated marksman with the 308 doing overwatch; I was supposed to be the guy inside the perimeter who was designated to provide second-tier emergency medical care in the hot zone.

But I was there in uniform and armor with a loaded gun, just like every other team member in that hot zone. And just because I was a doc didn’t mean I wasn’t there to get into a fight if a fight came to me. I was trained to fight and prepared to fight because every member of the team depends on every other member of the team. I would not have taken the job if I wasn’t prepared to fight. I would have stayed in my nice, safe, Emergency Department every day otherwise. 

And this is where the problem arises. In every job there are people who are good at it, dedicated to it, and who embrace the full spectrum of duties and responsibilites. But there are also people who aren’t very good at it, who may even avoid doing parts of the job that they aren’t good at or comfortable with; and this is OK, as long as they move into a position within that job that doesn’t require them to do those “undesirable” parts of the job. 

For instance, a USPS employee who has bad feet. This guy may be a great postal employee, but he’s not cut out to be a letter carrier making home deliveries. He needs a job in the post office where he can sit to do his job, or at least not have to walk as much. No problem, those jobs need people to do them too. 

Or, in the case of my Emergency Department, there are docs who are great at doing all the aspects of the job, which covers the whole spectrum of skills and talents from taking care of a toddler’s boo-boo and comforting the kid’s anxious mom (who is the real patient, most of the time, btw!) to being able to run a trauma code, intubate the critical patient, bang in the central venous lines and chest tubes, and manage the cardiac drugs that will keep him alive long enough for the surgeons to fix the internal leak. This part of the job, the critical care part of the job, is the talent/responsibility that makes the difference between and urgent care doc and a true Emergency Physician. And if a doc doesn’t have those talents, skills, and willingness to jump in to use them, he or she has no place in my Emergency Department. Funny thing: in today’s ED’s, something like 60% or more of our work is basic Family Medicine, 30% or more is complex internal medicine, and less than 10% of our work is critical care medicine. Yet the skillset and mindset that defines us as Emergency Physicians is the ability and willingness to tackle that 10%. 

It’s the same thing with cops. Yes, cops are trained to fight, shoot, tase, pepper-spray, and even shoot bad guys; but new boots quickly learn that almost all of their work is a combination of social work and traffic bylaw enforcement. Most of them grudgingly accept this, because if they wanted to be social workers, they’d have gone to school to become social workers. But a smaller minority of cops actually like the social work, and get into policing as a way of doing it. Some of them start off that way, and some of them drift that way. 

These cops may find that they like to wear the badge and the uniform, but they’re scared of the fights… and this can be good, or bad. It’s good if they recognize it and move themselves out of active patrol duty into an administrative job. Just like the postman with bad feet. But if they don’t make that change, they are putting themselves and their fellow officers at risk should the shit hit the fan.

More important, like the SRO at Parkland, FL, last week, they could put the lives of the citizens they are sworn to protect at risk. I won’t name the deputy who failed in his duty so tragically. But let his shameful lack of action serve as a beacon, like a lighthouse warning ships of a rocky shoreline, to the officers who still serve. 

The role of School Resource Officer looks awfully good to the wrong kind of cop. The chance of a fight is very low. So a cop who’s afraid to fight, or too old and close to retirement to fight, may look at the SRO job as an easy way to finish out his service and slide into his pension. But this is NOT the sort of cop we need in our schools. We need the cop who can and does get along with kids and teenagers, who can be Officer Friendly 99% of the time, but who is not afraid to get into a dust-up or a shoot-out every day.

Every. Single Day. 

As Chief Chudwin said, if you’re not the guy or gal who’s prepared to do that, you have no business wearing the badge and carrying the gun. That badge and gun belong to somebody else, and you’re just an imposter. Get out of there before you screw up, before a bunch of kids get killed due to your inability to do your job, and before your cowardice is put on display for the entire nation to see. 

Let that job go to someone who can do it. Let that job go to someone to whom it rightfully belongs. 

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Ankle Guns

M640 M65 M4442

Ankle guns.

Everybody knows about ’em, everybody talks about ’em, but hardly nobody carries ’em. Those who do are mostly old guys. Old guys like Clint Smith, whose YouTube video on ankle revolvers is short and sweet and straight to the point: . Or old guys like Massad Ayoob, who I noticed was carrying a J-frame revolver on his ankle at the very first class I took from him in Indiana in 1998. Or old guys like me, who have found that ankle carry is a good option for a variety of carry conditions.

The advantages of an ankle gun are significant, as the video points out. The cop literature is full of anecdotes of coppers who have used an ankle gun when they got into a ground grapple, and in other awkward circumstances.  I’ve carried my BUG (backup gun) in a variety of locations over the years: front pocket, cargo pocket, bellyband, and other locations, but the carry location I keep coming back to is the ankle. For comfortable long-term wear and for deep concealment purposes, an ankle rig is about as good as you can get. And for some folks, ankle carry is about the only way they can carry a firearm on a regular basis due to workplace considerations. For instance, an electrician or carpenter who wears a bulky tool belt will not be able to carry his daily CCW piece on his pants belt; ankle carry can be ideal for this person. 

First thing you need to do after watching Clint’s video referenced above, is select an appropriate firearm for ankle carry. People who have never tried ankle carry sometimes have the most bizarre ideas of what will work. This issue was recently brought to my attention by a re-post of the Clint Smith ankle gun video on a Firearms page I follow in Facebook.

As is usually the case on social media, the first couple-three replies were on point, then people started posting pics of their personal favorite handguns with no regard as the practicality of the matter–one guy posted a pic of a 4″ Model 29, for cripes snakes… seriously, dude?–and in no time the discussion devolved into a Glocks vs Revolvers debate, of course. Hay-ZEUS!!!

Anyways. Firearm selection. First, it has to be reliable, like any carry firearm. Second, it has to be light, because it’s gonna be riding on your ankle, and no matter how much you work out you’re gonna notice the imbalance induced by a heavy gun carried on one ankle only. Third, it has to be small or it will not be concealable. Fourth, and I admit this is not really a firearm issue, it has to be carried in a quality ankle holster that actually works. We’ll get to this fourth item later. 

So, what about reliability? This is extra-important for ankle guns, because they tend to get really dirty, and they do it fast. After all, your feet are in the dirt, mud, cowshit, and other nastiness every day. So a gun that is finicky about being clean is not a great choice here. Tightly-fitted autos would fall into this category. Some autoloaders seem to be more impervious to muck, but in general I think revolvers are a bit better in this respect. YMMV, but if you do carry a semi-auto on your ankle, you’ll want to clean it and lubricate it frequently. How frequently? I dunno. I can only tell you that I field-strip and lube my Kahr PM9 ankle gun every couple of weeks when I’m working indoors, and if I’m going outdoors with it, I inspect it daily and clean it every 2-3 days or more, depending on how messy it’s got. And of course it gets cleaned and lubed after every range session. Revolvers seem to need less maintenance… a good wipe-down with an oiled cloth cleans them up.

In the main, revolvers tend to be solid performers even when a bit grungy, so I tend to lean in that direction. This may be a serious consideration in the event you have to shoot someone at contact or near-contact distance. Blowback of blood and tissue fragments from a GSW of this type can be significant, and all of that debris can jam your autoloader’s slide in the frame rails, rendering your autoloader useless. Revolvers work very well even with muzzle contact, as there is no reciprocating slide to get gummed up. Just keep pulling the trigger, and more bullets will happily show up at the usual muzzle velocity. (Clint’s comment about the amplification of effect of contact GSW’s is spot-on, BTW… basically, you inject the high-pressure gases from your muzzle into the wound, which can greatly amplify the amount of permanent tissue damage of the GSW.) The limited capacity of a J-frame revolver may give you pause, in which case it may make sense to you to carry an autoloader with 6 or 7 rounds in it. The choice is yours, but be aware of the pros and cons of both options.

Second factor: weight. You want your ankle gun to be light, because an ankle gun puts your body mechanics out of balance. You will find you have to change the way you stand, the way you walk, the way you cross your legs when you sit, the way you run. Now, those changes will become almost unnoticeable if the gun is light, but as you add weight this can become a serious problem. Example: a S&W Model 442 Centennial aluminum revolver (loaded) in my ankle holster  weighs 25 ounces, but a similarly sized Model 640 revolver in the same holster weighs 35 ounces. Do you think that extra 2/3 of a pound makes a difference? Well, I didn’t think it would until I carried the heavier M640 around for a few weeks and developed Achilles tendonitis in that ankle! Not good! After my doc treated me for the tendonitis, I went back to carrying the lighter M442 and its equally light autoloading compadred, the Kahr PM(, and have had no Achilles problems since. 

I know a couple of cops who have chosen a “baby” Glock for their ankle gun, reasoning that having a 9mm or 40 S&W gun that they can use their primary pistols’ magazines in makes a lot of sense. I agree with them. However, at least two of the guys I know who have made this decision found they needed to put a magazine holder on the opposite ankle to balance things out for patrol duty. They particularly noted they were clumsier when running with the gun on one ankle alone, but this seemed to improve with a couple of magazines on the other ankle to even things out. I haven’t tried it, so I can’t comment one way or another, but balancing your ankle weights makes intuitive sense to me. 

Third factor: size. Small is good for ankle carry, and smaller is better. The primary reason is that you have to pull up your pants cuff to access the gun, and you want this operation to be as smooth as possible. So a small gun with smooth grips worn under loose trousers make the most sense here. Skinny jeans have no place, obviously (not that they ever do, IMHO!). Now, for T&E purposes I have tried carrying a larger gun on my ankle… as it happens a S&W Model 65 3″ K-frame. I found I had problems with the extra weight (42 ounces, loaded), but the real problem was pulling my pants leg up to access the gun due to the larger size of the K-frame compared with the J-frame. Likewise, I tried a friend’s Glock 26 in his ankle holster for a few days, but found the weight of the rig (37 ounces) and its bulk was significantly more bothersome than my Kahr PM9 (22 ounces). 




Size comparison: Smith & Wesson Model 640 (top), 65 (middle), and 442 (bottom). The M442 with CTC Lasergrips weighs 25 ounces in an Alessi ankle holster fully loaded, compared to 35 ounces for the M640, and 42 ounces for the M65. 


As Clint Smith commented in his video clip, once you get used to the weight and bulk of your ankle gun, you won’t even notice it’s there. This may take a few hours to a few days, in my experience, but the lighter the gun, the sooner you will become comfortable with it. 

The fourth factor to consider is the holster itself. I’ve personally tried half a dozen different ankle holsters, and have only been satisfied with two: the Alessi model, long considered the industry standard, and ComforTac. I’ve had my Alessi holster for almost 20 years; it was made for me personally by the late Lou Alessi, with whom I had become good friends on the internet and over the phone. Lou developed his holster for the most demanding customers there are, American cops. Mine has logged thousands of hours over the years, both in civilian use and on-duty use. The molded leather holster grips your gun very tightly without needing a hammer strap, something that I was initially leery of, but which I found was never a problem. You can run, jump, ride horses and bicycles, or any other activity you care to name, and your gun will stay put.  I carry a S&W M442 Centennial Airweight in mine most often, which in my experience is the ideal ankle revolver. You can buy one or more of these excellent holsters from Alessi Holsters online. The ComforTac holster is the only non-leather ankle holster I’ve tried that works as advertised: the gun is held in an elastic pocket by the power of the elastic band and the security of a thumb-snap safety. Unlike most elastic holsters, this one actually keeps my gun firmly on my ankle quite comfortably, almost as comfortably as the Alessi model. I have carried a Kahr PM9 in this holster nearly every day for about 2 years, and I’m pleased to report that it works. 

Ankle holsters work best when worn over top of a long sock. The sock helps pad the holster and keep it in place. But keep in mind that the rig will slide downward due to the tapered anatomy of the lower leg, until it hits something that will keep it from sliding further, which is typically the top of your boot or shoe. For this reason, I find wearing an ankle-high lace-up boot to be the best footwear choice. This not only puts the gun up a little higher inside your pants cuff, it keeps the holster off your ankle bones, which is a lot more comfortable. If you prefer to wear a low-cut shoe, you can improve your holster’s concealment and your wear comfort by putllng a second sock over top of the holster. A friend of mine who works as a paramedic does this, but he cuts the front of the foot portion off his oversock, so that it doesn’t make his shoe too tight. I’ve tried it, and it works, but I still prefer to wear an ankle-high boot most of the time with my ankle holsters. Also, if you wear cowboy boots or motorcycle boots, you can wear your ankle holster higher up on the calf inside the top of your boot. 


Ankle Rigs Two ankle holsters that work.


Drawing your firearm from an ankle holster isn’t slick or pretty. I’ve tried a variety of methods, but they all come down to either a) bending over to get to the gun, or b) bringing the leg up to where you can get the gun. The bendover method works best for me: step back and out with the right (non-gun) leg, grab the trousers below the knee and rip upward, then draw the exposed handgun. Dropping onto the right knee as I bring the gun up allows rapid presentation of the gun to the threat, but taking the time to rise to a standard stance enhances your mobility options. Situational variables will dictate which presentation is best. 

Since small guns tend to be harder to shoot well, I tend to practice with mine at every range session. I carry a spare magazine for the Kahr in a pocket on my left side, and a Speed Strip for my revolver in a right-side pocket. Practicing your reloads from these non-traditional spare ammo locations is a good idea. Also, spending the cash to get a Crimson Trace Laser grip for your hideout gun is a wise investment. I am comfortable with hitting the -0 zone of an IDPA target with my ankle guns’ open sights quite quickly out to 12 yards, but with a CTC laser I can extend that effective range well past 25 yards. 

So, should you try ankle carry? I think it’s an option that every serious CCW person needs to consider. However, the costs involved in buying a dedicated ankle gun and holster might be daunting if not prohibitive for some folks. If that’s the case for you, it might be best to borrow an ankle rig from a friend, or perhaps two or three people can share the expense of a try-out rig that they can all test. But my guess is that every serious defensive firearms person should have this option for carry to fall back on when/if it is expedient or even mandatory for your personal safety.