November 29, 2014

Awareness and Security in Crowds

Awareness and Security in Crowds
I did something recently that I have not done in many years! I went to the mall; not just any mall, mind you, but the Mall of America, the nation’s biggest mall! I went for a work event, and since I hadn’t been there in almost a decade, I thought I would walk around and see what I could see.

I came up with several observations and suggestions that could help one stay alert and safe in a crowded situation. This could be a mall, a state fair, or, in an emergency, it could be an evacuation route or center.
 
 
Awareness

Practicing situational awareness in any public setting can be difficult at times. It can be nearly impossible when you add hundreds or thousands of people. I’m a big believer in the Cooper Color Code. For those unaware, this is a system of mental readiness that uses four colors to differentiate the levels.
Read the link above for a deeper explanation. Below is a brief overview.

White: This is a state of being unaware; the state you’re in when at home.

Yellow: Relaxed but aware of your surroundings; the state you should be in any time you’re away from home. This is where you scan for potential threats.

Orange: Alerted on a single threat; must make decision on when and how you will react if the threat escalates.

Red: You are ready to fight.

Using the Cooper color code is an effective way to gauge potential threats in low to moderately busy situations. However, if you are in a situation where you have, not only to scan for threats, but also need/want to take in the sites or look for someone you’re meeting, it is quite difficult to assess every passerby for more than a second or two.

In large groups of people, I change my scanning method somewhat. For example, a young teenage girl who is giggling with a friend is usually not going to be a threat. This being the case, I then dismissed groups of teenage girls as potential threats. The same could be said for a group of elderly gentleman, or any group of similar people. Now, of course, they would get a second look if they did something that got my attention, such as following me.

Because I was in a setting where people were there with purpose, I expected them to act in certain ways; looking at merchandise, walking to or from a store, looking for the next store to shop at, you get the idea. Anyone who did anything outside of these expected behaviors got more of my attention.

For example, there was a group of people sitting on benches. Some of them were talking, others were people watching and one of them was watching me. Because I thought it odd that a man in his late thirties or early forties was watching me, I made a point to look behind me as I passed. I then noticed that he got up and followed me. This could have been a total coincidence, but knowing my biggest threat in the mall is pickpockets, I decided to act instead of waiting to see what happened. I moved off to the side of the walkway and stopped, watching him as he passed. When he got a bit ahead of me, I went on my way again, making sure I knew where he was.

Maintaining awareness also makes you much more polite than the average person. At 6’0 tall and 220 pounds, I’m a fairly big guy. I lost count of how many people I had to dodge to keep from knocking them over or, in one case, getting run over by a motorized scooter. Playing this kind of leapfrog and trying to keep people at as much distance as I could also made me a harder target to pickpocket.
 
 
Sliding Into Condition White

I don’t care who you are, it is impossible to maintain perfect situational awareness at all times, especially when you’re in an environment where you need to split your attention between looking for someone in particular, finding a gift, maintaining a conversation, eating a meal and so on.

One sure fire way to slide back into condition white is using your phone. Below are some tips I used both on the occasions when had to use the phone, or when I was looking at an item.

I only used the phone in a non-busy area, and made sure my back was to the wall. I made sure to continue to scan every five to ten seconds. I also kept the phone close to my body and kept a solid grasp on it. I’ve watched footage of people getting their phones stolen right from their hands. They almost always have it as far from them as possible, yet not quite a full arm’s length away. I had my wrists touching my frame and checked my peripherals frequently.
 
 
Limiting Mr. Murphy

Because I dislike Mr. Murphy and his law and want to limit the amount of things that do go wrong, special precautions should be taken in large groups of people. Below are some random security related ideas when in a large group of people.

  •  Don’t put your wallet in your back pocket. The front is much harder to pickpocket from.
  • Women, if you carry a purse, carrying it cross body won’t keep it from being stolen but can limit pickpocketing.
  • At the mall there were some parents using those kid “leashes”. I used to think those were a bad idea until I watched a young couple with two kids. The wife was pushing the stroller, the husband was carrying bags and had the kid that could walk tethered to him with one of these. He frequently checked on him but the tether gave them a little more freedom than they would have had otherwise.
  •  Men – When using public restrooms, either do like the ladies and use the buddy system, or if going solo, use the stall. There was a crime wave here a few years back where a man was targeting men who were alone standing at the urinal. He would walk behind them and give them an elbow strike to the back of the head, then while they lay there unconscious he would empty their pockets.
  • Women – When using a public restroom, the safest stall is the one with a solid wall to one side. You can place your purse on the floor in the corner. There is then no risk of someone taking it off the door hook or reaching under and grabbing it.
    Always know the quickest way out of the area as well as an alternative route.
  • Pay attention to anyone paying more attention to you than they are anything else. A nod and a smile can let them know you are aware of them. They might just think that you remind them of someone or they may have sinister intentions.
  • If there is an emergency and everyone is heading for the exits; depending on the emergency, it might be best to let the crowd pass by and then leave. If you did as suggested above, you know where an alternate route is.
  • One would think that evil couldn’t hide in large groups of people. However, some very evil things were done at the Superdome during hurricane Katrina. The point here is that even in large crowds of people, those who want to do you harm can find pockets where foot traffic is light. This is one of the reasons to use the buddy system.
  • Make your valuables hard to get to. I usually wear cargo pants and button the pockets. If you carry a bag or purse, make sure it is zipped. If you have one that doesn’t close, while it might be handy, it is not secure from someone willing and with nimble fingers.

Staying alert and secure in crowds of people has different challenges and might need a different approach than around a low population setting. Please add any other thoughts or security ideas to the comments section.

 
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Review of Body Armor by Infidel Body Armor

Review of Body Armor by Infidel Body Armor

Today I’m doing a review on Infidel Body Armor; Viper Modular Operator Plate Carrier with level III plates. I also want to talk about why you might want to consider owning it as well as why you might want to do so sooner rather than later.

First the review:

Viper plate carrier and plates

I went with the Viper Modular Operator Plate Carrier with level III plates.

The Viper carrier will fit M-XL. I’m 6’ and weigh around 215. I had a bit of wiggle room but it can be adjusted with the many Velcro straps to fit more snuggly for those of smaller stature. It has a “Kangaroo pouch” on the front and webbing for MOLLE attachments. The shoulder straps are padded and adjustable for comfort.

The vest is sewn in China and is comfortable, well sewn and of good quality.

Infidel Body Armor has this to say about the level III plates:

Level III Stops: 5.56 (M855, M193); 7.62×39 (Ball), 7.62x54R (LPS), 7.62×51 (Ball); 30-06 (JHP, FMJ); .357 mag; .45 cal; 50 cal Beowulf; 9mm; 12 Gauge Shotgun slugs, and more. All of these rounds were fired from semi-auto AR-15s, AK-47s, MAK-90s, bolt action Rifles, Glocks, Revolvers, and pump shotguns.

Weight for 10×12 single curve with 1/4″ polyurea anti-frag coating is 9lbs per plate.

You can see videos of these plates being tested as well as some promotional videos here.
 
 
Why Infidel Body Armor?

I like companies that are fearless in their faith! I don’t mean pushy, trying to convert every customer, but companies that are not afraid of their faith costing them revenue. Infidel Body Armor happily advertises the below quoted area on their FAQ Page. They are an advertiser on the PreparedChristian site, and have an Ichthys (Jesus fish) on the banner.

I looked at a few companies, but when I found Infidel, I was sold.

What does “Infidel” mean anyways?

• Over in the Middle East, our soldiers are called Infidels every day. The Koran says that Christians are infidels: Koran 5:17, “Infidels are those who declare God is the Christ, son of Mary.” Our company is Christian-owned and we wear that definition of “Infidel” with pride. We claim the privilege of worshiping God according to our conscience and allow others to believe as they would- just don’t try taking away our right to worship how we want to.

 
 
Why Would You Want to Own Body Armor?

The “escalation for use of force rules” that police departments use don’t translate step-for-step to a civilian. But to stay out of jail, one doesn’t use deadly force to chase off an eager door-to-door salesman.

If you can envision a scenario in which you might need to use deadly force to protect your family, it should be easy to understand that the person trying to hurt you/them is using deadly force. Often times this threat will come in the way of a firearm.

Now granted, we’re not going to be wearing the body armor throughout our day, but there are several situations where it would be prudent to have it and wear it. When times are normal, if you’re awoken in the middle of the night and you know someone is trying to kick in the door. It is probably prudent to call police, arm yourself and stay in your bedroom. But what if police are so taxed that they’re either not coming, or you live so remotely that they couldn’t possibly get there in time? Or what if civil unrest was rampant like it is currently in Ferguson, MO, where business owners took up arms to protect their companies? If the sole responsibility of protecting your business, your home or your family falls on you, and there is a real possibility of gunfire, wearing body armor just makes sense.

It is important to me to have something that will stop more than just handgun rounds. I won’t be wearing body armor every day. If I have it on, it’s because things have really gone sideways. Bad guys hide handguns in the back of their pants now, but if things really fall apart, can you be sure they won’t be emblazoned to carry their AK-47, or shotgun out with them to do their dirt?

I would have actually liked to get Level IV plates, which will stop the same as the level III, but can take multiple rounds.
 
 
Why Should You Consider it Soon Than Later?

If you haven’t already heard of HR5344, this is worth being informed on. Congressman Mike Honda (D) from California has delivered a bill in an attempt to outlaw “military grade” body armor. Claiming that only the police and military need it.
I actually think this bill could have more legs than any of the bills put forth to limit the ownership of firearms. Body armor is not protected by the Second Amendment of the Constitution or any other. I do believe it is ridiculous and that this congressman should be voted out!

This is just my opinion, but I think if you can foresee the potential for a home invasion, especially in a rural setting, if you can foresee civil unrest in your area, such as what is happening in Ferguson, MO and you can foresee needing to fill the void to protect you and yours, then body armor should be on your list.

If congress gets their way, body armor sales will be limited! If you plan to buy, buying sooner rather than later might be prudent.

 
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The Art of Silence and a Look to Go With It

The Art of Silence and a Look to Go With It

Today I am going to share two tips with you that I have used many, many times. I have used them to stop arguments, to win arguments, to stop pushy sales people, to shut down “alpha male” loudmouths, to frustrate frustrating people, to stop myself from saying things I would regret and to keep from embarrassing myself. The list of ways that silence and “the look” have worked goes on and on.

I don’t say a word.

This sounds much easier than it really is. A good salesperson knows that after they make their pitch and ask you to buy, to shut their mouths. Often times, the first person to speak loses. Here is a tip on dealing with salespeople; if you’re not interested, don’t give any reasons or excuses, just say “no”. If you don’t shut them down with a “no”, you’ve given them more time to try and convince you.

This isn’t just true in sales; I have won arguments with people in different areas of my life by saying my piece and shutting my mouth. My goal here is to give my perception and not enter into the “tit-for-tat” type of argument that often occurs.

“A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.” ~ Proverbs 29:11

I try to live by this verse. I don’t always succeed, but thank God for His grace. Here is my theory on arguing; if your stance is correct and your argument is logical, make your point and be quiet. If two people are in an argument, odds are that emotions are heightened. You will, most often, not sway someone in an emotionally irritated state by a logical argument, even if it is the correct and right stance. Continuing to argue often leads to even higher emotional volatility, which can lead one to sin against the person they’re arguing with.

Trudee and I are blessed with having fewer heated arguments than I can count on one hand in the almost ten years we’ve been married. When one has happened, I say my piece and try to keep my mouth shut. Sometimes that has led to each of us feeling like we got to say what we felt needed to be said. Sometimes it has led to me vacating the same space so I can keep my mouth shut.

“It is better to be thought a fool, then to open ones mouth and remove all doubt.”

I have Asperger’s Syndrome. For those of you who don’t know, Asperger’s is a high functioning form of Autism. My social skills are pretty good for someone with Asperger’s, but I learned early in life that I don’t know how to respond in many social situations. If I don’t know how to respond and do anyway, many times it comes out awkward and forced. If I keep my yap shut, I might come off as quiet, stand-offish, or in some cases rude. I’ll take any of those instead of looking and feeling like a fool.

Where not saying a word works extremely well is with pushy people who aren’t taking “no” for an answer. Don’t keep saying “no”. Just say it and then stare at them in the manner I’ll describe below.

Women, please learn this! If you have a man who is making you uncomfortable, you do not need to explain yourself or worry about hurting his feelings or his opinion of you! He might call you the big bad “B” word! So what!? Your safety, self-respect and general well-being are far more important than him expressing his opinion of you!
 
 
The Look of Looks

Part of my Asperger’s Syndrome is a difficulty picking up on social queues; especially matching facial expressions with emotions. Because of this, I have spent hundreds of hours throughout my life studying and analyzing facial expressions. There is one look I have seen that is particularly effective that I have used countless times to great effect.

This expression is really a total lack of any expression. Your face is totally void of any emotion. Relax all of the muscles in your face; no clenched jaw, no grimace, no flared nostrils; just nothing.

To me, this expression conveys a sense of meaning business. I have seen it used by women to shut down pushy men, parents to stop a nagging child, men use it instead of posturing to let another man know they’ll not be taking any more crap and it’s time for them to back down.

I have actually used it in all of those situations (except I shut down a pushy woman) very effectively. Probably the funniest use of it was recently; I have an account rep at work who thinks his problems are the most important thing going on. He is a “hoverer” on top of it. He frequently shows up at people’s cubes and expects them to stop what they are working on to address his issue. I let him know I didn’t have time at that moment but would be able to help him in 30 minutes and then gave him the look. He didn’t know what to do! He just walked away! He hasn’t been back to my cube since.

To use silence and this look effectively, you have to be comfortable with the awkward silence that will follow. If you smile when you’re nervous, if you clench your jaw when angered, if you feel the need to power up to intimidate, or countless other things, you’ll need to train it out of you!
 
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Willingness to Use Force and the Permission to do so

Willingness to Use Force and the Permission to do so

It is my belief that there is a small percentage of people who are freely willing to use force at a moment’s notice. There is a larger percentage who, because it is not something in their normal routine, have to grant themselves permission so to speak and still another group of people who resist the use of violence, even at their own peril.

If I asked you if you were willing to use force to protect yourself or a loved one, I believe the majority of you would say “yes”, but the speed at which we give ourselves permission could vary greatly and can have a drastic impact on the outcome of the altercation.
 

Willingness

I am not a violent man; I personally see it as something that should be used as a last possible option, but it must be an option. To those people who say that violence doesn’t solve anything, I would say “it absolutely does.” Violence, in the form of war, ended the Holocaust and slavery, to name just two horrible things. Violence or the threat of violence in the form of self-defense has stopped violent crimes of every type. The police use violence and the threat of violence to stop crimes of all kinds.


“All it takes for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing.”

It is my belief that we have an obligation to confront evil. If we see evil being visited on someone and do not attempt to stop it, we incur some of the guilt that is being inflicted. We could personally intervene or call the police to do so.

I also believe we have a moral obligation to use violence to stop violence being visited upon us. If we do not, I believe we incur guilt for any future evil this person inflicts. We also bare guilt for preventing any future good the victim may have done.

I have heard the argument from Christians in the past that they don’t want to use lethal force because they don’t know the condition of the person’s soul. Their soul is not your personal responsibility in that moment. Being there for your family, providing for them, and living the life God has called you to is your responsibility.
 

Permission

The word “permission,” used in this context, feels a little clunky to me but is actually a good fit. As I stated earlier, violence is not something most of us use often. Because of this, when we must use it, we often have to grant ourselves permission. Depending on our background, our self-talk could be a very short “do it” or we might have to convince ourselves that while we may not like it, this person/situation is forcing us to do this and that if we do not, we may be severely hurt or even killed.

To me, the use of force of any kind is a two part equation; one part moral and the other part legal. If standing before God or a judge, I could explain why I felt justified in using force; for fear of bodily harm or worse. I then have all the permission I need.

In the heat of the moment, you might not have time to consider an explanation to God or a judge. For this reason, it is important to give yourself permission to use force under certain conditions. The amount of force used should also scale with the threat. Here are a few of my personal thresholds.

I don’t think anyone should participate in the posturing that often takes place in street fights; the pushing and chest bumping, insulting and cursing at each other and so on. To me, this is the same as a warning shot. De-escalation here is the prudent thing to do; walk away but remain alert. If your safety is truly in danger, don’t flex, just act. If your safety is not in danger and you take part in the posturing, using force as things escalate, your actions will not be viewed as “self-defense” in court.

That being said, if someone is yelling and threatening me, I will get ready to use force, both mentally and possibly physically, by getting in a fighting stance, for instance, if, for example, walking away isn’t an option because of being backed physically into a corner. Now, if the person threatening has a weapon and is making threats, the use of force is more than likely called for.

Once someone places their hands on someone else in a violent manner, from a slap, push, punch or choke, the attacker has given the victim permission to use enough force to stop the aggression.
 

Preemptive Strike

I think preemptive use of force can often prevent a more violent outbreak. For example; you’re out to dinner with your children or grandchildren and someone who has had too much to drink is being verbally abusive to everyone around them. You get up to leave, which draws attention to you, and the man starts cursing you and threatening you as he blocks your exit to the door. Knocking him on his backside could very well stop him from escalating even more and physically attacking you or your loved ones.

Here is another example; a woman is walking by herself in a parking garage. She is approached by a man she doesn’t know. He grabs her by the arm and tells her not to scream. If she either used a combative, aka a punch or kick to cause enough damage to stop the aggression, or pulled a firearm and demanded he leave, she could very well prevent herself being kidnapped, raped and killed.

In neither of these examples did the attacker have a visible weapon, but because of their actions, I believe the victim has a very viable case of using force in self-defense.

 
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Run, Hide, Fight

Run, Hide, Fight

Imagine if the rules in games like dodge ball changed so that when someone was going to throw at you, you had to stand still, or in tag, when you were being chased you had to stop and wait to be tagged; in football, when you caught the ball you had to wait to be tackled by the opposing team.

Any hunter will tell you it is easier to shoot at game that is standing still versus game that is flying or running. Any decent self-defense firearms instructor will tell you to “Get off the X” before you engage in combat.

These are all pretty easy to understand concepts, are they not? Then why is it that we have schools whose only plan for an active shooter is to lock down? This is the case at the schools my kids have attended. We always told them that if anyone started shooting to run, even if the teachers said no. We also gave them a place to run to. This way they didn’t have to try and figure out what to do at the most terrifying moment in their lives; they just needed to react.

I don’t think any single self-defense plan will fit every situation. If someone comes into my company and starts shooting, what I will do is going to depend on what is happening. If the shots are coming from the lobby, I am in no immediate danger, so the option of running makes the most sense. If the best escape route is cut off, then hiding and hoping an opportunity to run opens up might make more sense. No matter what happens, I’ll be gauging the necessity of fighting.

Here is a video that teaches a concept I really wish every school would implement. Not only should your kids know it, you should too!

Pretty simple concept and one I think every adult should incorporate into their personal protection plan. I also think parents should sit down and explain it to their kids. Some parents might be concerned that the conversation might scare their kids and this might keep them from talking to them about this. Yes, it could cause some momentary fear in them. As a parent, I would rather cause some momentary fear, and know that if, God forbid, shots are ever fired at their school, they won’t be hiding in their classroom unless they think that is the safest option. If you’re concerned that you might scare your kids, use the examples listed at the beginning of this article. Kids know that if they want to win at dodge ball, they need to, well, DODGE, and that if they want to win at tag they need to run and not be tagged. Explaining that if someone starts shooting they need to run as fast as they can, just like they would in any of those games. Also, give them a place to run to; we told our kids to run to a church parking lot that is out of harm’s way.

As a last resort, I also showed my kids how to fight…no, I taught them how to fight dirty. I also told them that they only use the things I showed them if someone is trying to kill them, not just if they’re mad and not if someone is trying to steal from them. I taught them that they should only use dirty fighting if their life is in danger. Most kids are not prone to violence. In fact, many are afraid of using it. So we need to explain to them that it is ok and even a good thing in certain situations.

Summary

I think every one of us should implement this in our personal protection plans and teach it to our kids. If a shooting happens near us, there is no one surefire plan. Most of the time running is preferable; hide only when running is not an option and be ready to fight viciously at any moment.

 
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Infidel Body Armor

Infidel Body Armor

I’m excited to introduce Infidel Body Armor, one of the newest Prepared Christian sponsors! Body armor is one of those preps that I think is a very good idea, but is something I have put on the back burner, until I came across Infidel Body Armor’s FAQ page and saw this:

“What does “Infidel” mean anyways?

• Over in the Middle East, our soldiers are called Infidels every day. The Koran says that Christians are infidels: Koran 5:17, “Infidels are those who declare God is the Christ, son of Mary.” Our company is Christian-owned and we wear that definition of “Infidel” with pride. We claim the privilege of worshiping God according to our conscious and allow others to believe as they would- just don’t try taking away our right to worship how we want to.”

Ok, their being vocal about their faith isn’t the only thing that sold me. I was also swayed by the quality of the product and its features. I’m not going to get into specs. I’ll save that for an upcoming review. I do want to take a minute to tell you about two very cool things happening at Infidel Body Armor!

First:
They are having a Memorial Day sale; 10% off with code: 1776

Second:
They are giving away an AR-15, a to be exact. All you have to do is follow that link and sign up for their newsletter! This will run until the end of June. This is what Infidel Body Armor had to say about the contest:

“I’m a smaller company and the there’s a much bigger chance of winning a gun with me than with some of the other bigger companies due to the number of people that enter the contest.”

Some of you might be thinking, “Why would I ever need body armor?” Do you carry a firearm for self-defense? If you do, then you must believe that you might need to use it against someone with a gun trying to kill you or a loved on. Now, do you believe that if society begins to crumble, if even for a short time, that we could see increased violence?

I answered yes to both questions. If things fall apart I will feel much more protected with body armor, than without.

Stay tuned for a review!

Are Knives More Dangerous Than Guns?

We recently heard about the horrific attack by a student who used a knife to wound twenty people. I heard some people say “at least he didn’t have a gun.” Knives being used as weapons in mass attacks is something that has been on my mind for some time. I believe that a knife in the hand of someone willing to use it as a weapon is just as dangerous, if not more so, than a gun. Warning; this article will be more graphic than my usual.

Here are some obvious facts about knives that you’re likely already aware of but which bear repeating. Every home has kitchen knives, but if someone wanted an easier-to-conceal folding knife, one can be purchased at any Walmart, Target or host of other locations, without any kind of permit. Many states have banned certain types of knives, such as switchblades. Some states have limitations on the length of the blade, but I don’t know if there are any states that ban the carrying of knives altogether. A small folding knife can be just as dangerous as tactical one.

Knives are incredibly easy to conceal, hidden until a sudden attack. I carry a Glock 19, which is considered a “compact” handgun. The only place I can carry it that does not print (show a visible bulge) is in the small of my back, which is hardly the most ideal place to carry for me. I can carry a very large folding knife and it is impossible to tell it’s in my waistline or in my pocket.

In Haganah we practiced knife and gun defenses and in close proximity (within an arm’s length away), guns were always easier to defend against. This is obviously over-simplifying it, but we were taught gun takeaways in close proximity that moved you out of the way of the barrel. If the barrel isn’t pointing at you, the gun cannot hurt you. Often the takeaways put your hands on the gun as you move from the line of the barrel, which allows you to strip the gun away from your attacker. Below is one such takeaway. The person talking is the creator of Haganah, who has many years of martial arts training. I had no previous martial arts training and learned this takeaway in one session. Some of the other takeaways are a bit more complex, but I felt very comfortable with them after a few classes. I believe this is because the attacker has the gun trained on you, no matter how they’re holding it. The attacker knows that if the barrel isn’t pointed at you, the gun can’t shoot you.
 


 
Knife disarms are another beast entirely. Some of the defenses require a block. If your arm is not at 90 degrees, the attackers’ momentum can deflect the attack into another part of your body. In the video, you’ll notice that you have to pay attention to the angle, because it determines where you move to, and how you trap the attackers arm. I’ll admit I am not the most coordinated person. After a year of Haganah, I still fumbled on knife defenses. Unlike gun attacks, knives are more dangerous when the knife is moving, which inherently makes it harder to defend against them.
 


 
In knife defense, you obviously never grab the knife. Even if you trap the attackers hand or arm, he can still grab it with his other hand and continue the attack.
 

Tueller Drill

The Tueller Drill is a self-defense exercise created by Utah Police Sargent Dennis Tueller. The drill is used to show how little time one has to defend against a knife attack. I have done this drill at the range, standing back to back with another instructor, with yet another instructor keeping time. When the time keeper said “go”, the other man drew and fired twice at the target. At that same time, I took off running. I easily covered 20+ feet by the time he finished his second shot. All of this took 2-3 seconds. This drill showed me that 20 feet is not nearly the large safety zone I once thought it was.

In this drill, the shooter is expecting a whistle or other command that tells them when to draw and fire, and it takes most people 2-5 seconds to draw. If I am Joe Dirtbag, intending to use a knife to threaten or attack you, I am not going to start advertising it 20 feet away. No, I will get as close as I can and give you as little warning as possible. Even if I’m high on PCP and start charging you with my knife and you manage to draw and shoot me, my momentum will most likely continue toward you, giving me the opportunity to attack.

 
The Following

There is currently a television show about an FBI agent chasing down a man who has a following of homicidal cultists. These people go into public places (restaurants, book stores, train stations, etc.) and randomly stab people. The show is violent and shocking. I am a bit surprised we haven’t seen more of these types of attacks. One such mass knife attack in China recently by ten men armed with knives saw twenty nine people killed and 130 injured.

When I saw the recent school knife attack headline, I immediately wondered if the student who committed the horrific attack had watched The Following.

Granted, the show is drawn from someone’s imagination, but I think the public’s response during the attack is very realistic. There is no sound from the weapon. Often times, the attackers stab multiple people before screams draw attention to them.

When I watch TV or movies, I always try to think about what I would do in that situation. This is one case where always having my back to a wall and situational awareness would be crucial.
 

Training

Anyone who has fired a gun knows it takes some practice or training to get good at it. For instance, if you want to recover from failures or draw and fire from movement, it takes even more training and practice. Granted, someone could take a gun and some ammo and teach themselves the basics.

However, there is no training needed to use a knife to slash or stab. Unlike a firearm, there are no malfunctions. Under stress, people frequently miss their targets with a firearm, even at close distance. With a knife, there is no distance and while the attacker could miss their first stab, as mentioned above, they are most dangerous when they keep slashing and stabbing.
This is not to say I think using a knife for self-defense is a good idea because it takes no training. On the contrary, I think an untrained person wielding a knife for self-defense is quite possibly giving an attacker a weapon. Hollywood has glamourized knife fighting somewhat, with people coming out unscathed. The first rule of knife fighting, is you’re gonna get cut.
 

Closing

I would like to know how many deaths each year are attributed to knives versus guns. With the ease of attaining a knife, no training being required and the ease of concealment, maybe you can understand why I said I am surprised we don’t see more mass knife attacks.

If you see someone brandish a knife, please take it just as seriously as you would a gun.

 
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Protecting Your Neighborhood

Protecting Your Neighborhood

There were a couple of comments to a recent article about how to handle guard duty. This is something I have given some thought to, so I thought I would share it with you. There was some talk of how things have been handled in various prepper fiction books. I enjoy them and have gotten several ideas from them, but on this topic many of them are just that, fiction.

Let’s face it, if you’re reading this, you’re probably someone who is in tune with the fragility of the systems holding society together. This lends to you probably being apt to see things going sideways sooner than many, which probably means you’ll not find many people willing to help keep watch, at least in the beginning. Many of the prepper fiction books also have a force that repels Joe and his merry band of Dirtbags. You’ll also probably have few people who know how to stand watch, or who have the gear to do so.

These challenges don’t mean that we shouldn’t try. It just means we need to take an honest look at what is actually possible with where things are now and what the actual potential of our circumstances are.

 
Neighborhood Watch

Any neighborhood can start a neighborhood watch now. I think these are often made up of people who are open minded, knowing that bad things can happen near them. These are the people who will probably be the most willing to agree to stand watch or participate in guard duty when things go bad. There are several websites that can help you get started with a watch. Police departments are often willing to come and speak to your group as well.
 

Guard Duty or Standing Watch

I believe these are two different things. To me guard duty is someone armed to defend a position and watch duty is someone who keeps watch for danger and reports it. I think we would all like to have a mix of both but the truth is, the best we might be able to do is get a neighbor or two to join us in keeping watch and reporting anything hinky to the other families who’ve joined in keeping watch.

 
Guard Duty

A posted guard is a visible deterrent. In a short term situation, a guard post could be a car parked sideways blocking the flow of traffic. This gives the guard or guard’s concealment and a little cover behind the engine block. If a guard is posted to prevent passage of people into your neighborhood, they should only let people through who can have someone from inside the neighborhood come to the guard post and vouch for them.

I would have to place three of these types of positions in a “T” formation to limit traffic for a few blocks. As you can guess, this could limit the flow of traffic but would take between three and six vehicles, and people to guard each location. I would not just put this type of guard post up on my own. I would get a consensus with others in the neighborhood first.

In a prolonged situation, it might be a good idea to have a hardened location to offer more cover. This could be done by removing the tires from the vehicles, and filling the cars with dirt. The tires could then be used to build berms filled with dirt in other locations.
 
Standing Watch

As I said above, to me, a watch is just that; someone who watches. There are a few different types of watches. A posted watch is someone who is in a set location and reports activity. A roving watch is either someone who roams between posted watches, or just walks a set path.

It is very possible that in the beginning of a situation, there will not be much interest in having a neighborhood watch. It might just be you and your spouse taking turns in case the need to defend your home or bug out arises.

A person on watch generally doesn’t want to bring attention to their position. Therefore, keep sound and light discipline. Don’t have anything that smells different than what is expected. For instance if you are cold and drink a hot cup of cider, the smell can give you away. Light from a flashlight can help you see but is also a dead giveaway of your location. If you use a red lens or color a clear lens with a red marker, it doesn’t provide quite as much light, but is much harder to see at a distance. It also has the benefit of not taking away your natural night vision.

A roving watch can obviously be more visible. They can be used to keep an eye out for things going on between locations. They can also be relief for posted watches who need to take a break.

 
Reality

The reality is, your watch might just be you and your spouse or maybe another family or two. If it’s just you and your spouse, keep watches to 4 or so hours. If there are more families, rotate the watches to give people an uninterrupted night sleep as often as possible.

While we don’t want to be forced to flee, the goal of having a watch posted might be to give enough time for you to do so safely without engaging an armed force. Because of this, have a fallback plan in place, a designated place where people should meet if needed.

 
Ideally

I think the more time that passes by, or the worse things get, the more people will open their eyes and be willing to join in the watch. When this happens, consider using the buddy system. Each guard post has multiple people, as well as the roving watch.

A command center stocked with coffee or other caffeinated beverages to assist the sleepy and help those taking a break refresh is a good idea as well. This could be the garage of someone in a central location.

If you have this many people, there should be training on how to stand a watch and on firearms if they’ll be carrying them.

 
Communications

You’ve probably seen the FRS radios that advertise 30+ miles, which is only in a flat open area. The real range in the average suburban house is probably closer to a mile or two, and even then things can be static. A second option might be DB, which would be more than sufficient in these ranges, but is more expensive. Yet another option would be MURS radio. These also have motion sensors, which can trigger an alarm at the base of the radio. None of these options require a permit to operate.
One idea I’ve come up with is using air horns for alarms. If you have three guard posts, define them one, two and three. If a situation develops at a guard post, they could let one blast for post one, two for the second post and so on. This could let everyone know there is a situation and where.
 
Rules of Engagement

The rules of what to do in various situations should be clear. If it’s just your family, you might want the person on watch to simply wake everyone else. If you have a guard posted at an entrance into your neighborhood, it should be clearly defined what to do when people demand that you let them in, as well as what to do when someone brandishes a firearm or makes threats.
 

Gear

You’re just not going to have enough gear for everyone. You can buy some extra affordable items now. You’ll need to make a judgment call if you share your firearms with others who stand guard duty or a watch.

I recommend having some less than lethal options available. You can buy a large can of pepper spray that is meant to deal with crowds. I’ve seen paint balls adapted to shoot pepper spray as well.

 
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Become More Proficient With Your Gun Without Firing a Shot

Before I get to today’s article I have a quick personal update. I am having arthroscopic surgery to correct an impingement on my left hip early tomorrow. I have no idea how I’m going to feel the rest of the week. If there isn’t another article this week or an email response or if I am slow to respond to a comment or email, now you know why.
 

Become More Proficient With Your Gun Without Firing a Shot

Even though ammo prices have come down some, shooting can be a very expensive hobby. Being proficient with your gun involves more than just shooting. Today I am going to give you some exercises you can do for free or with minimal investment in the safety of your home, without firing a single shot.

For the sake of safety, I recommend you practice these things with an unloaded firearm. Be sure to double check.
 
Dry Firing

Dry firing simply means that you practice all of the mechanics of firing a firearm with either an empty chamber or some type of snap cap, which is a plastic dummy round. Dry firing is fine with most firearms. Check your manufacturer to be sure. I know you should not do so with a .22, as it can damage the firing pin.

The benefit of dry fire practice is that it can help correct bad habits, such as anticipating recoil. If you anticipate the loud bang and the gun bucking in your hand, you can pull down and left (for right handers). If there is no loud bang, you can practice steady hand control, and do it enough times that when you do go to the range you are in the habit of not pulling down and left.

Another way to find and correct bad habits is to stack a few pennies or dimes on top of the slide. If they fall when you squeeze the trigger, you can tell if you’re pulling one way or the other by the direction and timing of when the stack fell.

Yet another way, this time with a cost, is to buy a laser. Nebu Preotec lasers are fairly inexpensive, at around $50. The one I have now is accurate enough to use for aiming at something I actually wanted to hit. It is very easy to tell if you are pulling one way or another.
 

Drawing From the Holster

It’s a fact, many ranges will not let you draw from the holster. The problem with this is that if you’re ever out and have to draw from the holster, you’re going to be much clumsier under stress than if you had practiced.

If you combine this with dry firing, you can practice an entire self-defense cycle. I know some people love the buzz timers for practicing and I think that is great if you’re practicing for IDPA or another competition. I don’t like the idea for self-defense training though. If you’re out on the town and you hear a loud noise, you’re not going to pull your gun and start shooting. No, if you hear a loud noise, you’ll orient yourself to the direction of the threat, look to see what is going on and then you’ll determine if you need to draw or not.

Instead of a buzzer, use a TV show or a movie. Since no one in the show is actually going to be a threat to you, pick a character, and every time they come on the scene draw and fire. Or pick one color shirt, say red, and every time someone comes on the screen wearing a red shirt, you draw and fire. If two people are wearing red shirts, scan and dry fire at them.

If you get a new holster this is something you should do. For instance, my gun sits very differently than I was used to in the Crossbreed holster I got last summer. Also practice re-holstering without looking. If you are ever forced to shoot, you’ll want to keep your eyes on the attacker and the ongoing scene without looking for your holster.
 
Drawing From a Concealment Garment

Drawing from the holster is great, but make sure you add in doing so with the clothes you wear when you are carrying it. If you use a CCW purse, practice with it.

Adding in the one extra movement, that of clearing your garment before you can draw, can really foul things up and slow you down.
 

Practice Without Looking

As I explained in Changes in the Body During a Critical Incident, many people experience time distortions during a critical incident. For this reason, I recommend you learn to reload without looking. The reason for this is that if you look at your hands, you may perceive that you’re reloading much to slow, and then speed up when you were going at normal speed. The problem is that if you speed up, you might make a mistake.

Do you have any tips you can give that can help us be more proficient without firing a shot?

 

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Changes in the Body During a Critical Incident

Changes in the Body During a Critical Incident

When under the extreme stress of a critical incident, there are numerous physiological changes that take place to enable our fight or flight response. Knowing these changes exist and training with them in mind can greatly increase your chances of surviving an armed critical incident.

The points I’ll cover today have been widely known of for some time. However, over the last ten or so years, video footage from dashboard cameras, security cameras, and footage from military conflicts has clearly shown how the human body reacts when startled. Also, great strides have been made in neuroscience that have clarified the changes that take place under the stress of a critical incident.

The information in this article is what I have decided to include in the Minnesota permit to carry courses that I will eventually be teaching. I am only adding the information pertinent to the physiological changes. This being the case, some areas such as legal implications or some training techniques that can aid in achieving some maneuvers without looking won’t be mentioned. If you would like that information, feel free to come take a class!  If you are interested in reposting or republishing this information in any way, please contact Chris (at) preparedchristian (dot) net.
 

External Changes – The Flinch Response

The external things that the body does when startled are instinctual, they take the short path through the brain bypassing any cognitive thought. These instinctual reactions are often called the flinch response; made up of lowering ones center of gravity, orienting towards the threat and moving ones hands in the line of sight relative to the threat.
 

Lowering of the center of gravity

When startled or threatened, we lower our center of gravity by bending at the knees and leaning slightly forward at the waist. This action takes place before one can process the reason for the action. By bending at the knees we are now ready for quick movement making us better able to flee or to fight. In any sport, you can see athletes lower their center of gravity before jumping, running or just about any other movement.
 

Orientation to the Threat

When startled or threatened we reflexively turn our attention to the threat. This allows us to take in more information about the threat.
 

Hands Moved to Line of Sight

This is often described as moving hands up, but in truth, the hands are moved relative to the position of the threat. If the threat was from a snarling dog you would put your hands in your line of sight downward. This has a survival bonus, as we’ll discuss below. Blood is pulled from the extremities and pooled in large muscle groups and in the core. The benefit of this is that if your hands move to your line of sight, and you are deflecting a dog bite, a knife or any other implement that can cut, it will bleed much less.
 

Internal Changes

Blood is what brings energy to the body. In a critical incident, there are several changes in blood flow. This increases the body’s ability in many ways but also decreases it in others. There are also several other chemicals released that cause various changes as well. Simply elevating your heart rate and then trying to train is not the same as having an elevated heart rate under a critical incident.
 

Increased Visual Acuity in the Center of Vision and “Tunnel Vision”

In a critical incident there are things that take place to allow the brain to take in more data. First the eye has two types of sensors, rods and cones. Cones are concentrated in the center of the eyes’ field of vision and are responsible for detail. Rods are more densely distributed on the edges of the eyes’ field of vision, and are more sensitive to motion.

The second thing that takes place is that the thalamus filters out non-critical input. By filtering out information that is not critical, we can bring in more critical information in a shorter amount of time. The thalamus filters out non-critical information, which includes anything not in the center of our vision.

Because of the physiological changes in the eye, and the instinctive orientation to the threat, the threat stays in the center of our vision, where the vision is in far greater detail. Coupled with the thalamus filtering out non critical data, you could lose as much as 80% of your field of vision, but what you do see could be in incredible detail.

Because the thalamus is filtering out data from the rods, our vision is decreased, so you probably can’t track multiple targets. Tips on scanning for targets will be offered later.

Because of our decreased field of vision, it is important not to take your eyes off the threat, not to reload, clear a malfunction or for any other reason. It does take some practice to do these things without looking but for several reasons, it is important not to take your eyes off your target. Practicing clearing of malfunctions and reloading without looking can be done at home, either with snap caps or with empty magazines.
 

Distortion of Time

In Law enforcement studies, 70% of officers involved in a shooting reported experiencing time slowing down. Twenty percent of officers experienced time jumps or things perceived to go faster than they are.

As we learned, the physiological changes in the brain and the changes in the eye allow the thalamus to bring in critical data faster but the temporal lobe, the cognitive part of the brain, isn’t processing this information any faster. For this reason, the cognitive thinking part of your brain is processing twice the amount of data, so it seems like time has slowed down.

You might be wondering why this is important. It is for at least three reasons.

1. Since time distortion and memories might not be credible, don’t provide that information to police right away. Discuss it with a lawyer first. They’ll understand that sometimes memories and recollection of time can be off.
2. If we change the center of our field of vision to our gun, to watch as we reload, we will bring in more data. The cognitive portion of our brain is going to make us think we’re going too slow. If we speed up to compensate, we may make a mistake we wouldn’t have otherwise.
3. If we take our eyes from our threat, we most likely lose focus due to tunnel vision. When we try to find the threat, if our brains have perceived time to have slowed down or sped up, coupled with tunnel vision, chances are good that the threat has moved and we will lose precious seconds relocating it.
 
Auditory Exclusion

Auditory exclusion is the thalamus filtering out auditory data. In law enforcement studies, this occurred for 85% of officers involved in a critical incident. Sometimes all sound was diminished and in others just the sound of the gun shots was diminished.

Selective auditory exclusion is something we’re all familiar with. It is simply the thalamus tuning into one signal over another. Two examples of auditory exclusion in daily life are the ability to carry on a conversation in a noisy restaurant, and children not hearing that they need to clean their rooms.

There have been trainers who have taught that you should occasionally practice without hearing protection. In a critical incident the thalamus protects the ears, this is not the case outside of a critical incident. This is reckless advice that could permanently damage your hearing.

 
Memory Distortions and no Memory at All

Because of how the senses and brain function during a critical incident, it is possible for there to be memory distortions and even false memories. For instance, an officer reported that the assailant was down a long hallway when in fact there was no hallway at all.

There have been numerous cases where a police officer has gaps missing from a shooting or no memory at all. An article published for the journal of the international association of law enforcement instructors in 2001 states that it is common within the first 24 hours to recall roughly 30% of the occurrence, 50% after 48 hours and 75%-95% after 72-100 hours.

Memories are made differently when formed under extreme stress. There have been cases where a thought enters into the mind during a critical incident and the person believes the thought actually happened. For example, there were two officers involved in a shooting. One officer believed his partner had been shot. When the suspect was killed, the officer still believed his partner had been shot and began to search him looking for the bullet wound to make sure, despite the other officers argument that he was not hit.
 

Loss of Fine Motor Skills

Under stress, vasoconstriction occurs. As the heart rate rises, blood is pooled into the core and large muscle groups, draining blood from the extremities. This results in a loss of fine motor skills. This means that the ability to efficiently manipulate a slide release, rack the slide and reload a revolver or drop a magazine will be diminished.

Because of loss of motor skills, I don’t recommend you use the slide release to bring the slide forward. Instead, rack the slide with your weak hand, not using your finger tips to do so.

I also think that guns that require a lot of manual dexterity to use are not the best self-defense guns. If you have a firearm with a safety, clumsy magazine release, or any other feature that requires fine motor skills, you will need to practice those actions a significant amount to turn those movements into “muscle memory”.

 
Scanning

There is a chance that there is more than one threat. Once the primary threat has been removed, you need to scan for other threats. Remember you’re most likely going to have tunnel vision, so you’ll need to scan thoroughly. There is also a chance you’re effected by auditory exclusion and may not be able to hear verbal threat, or commands from law enforcement.

Don’t just swing your head back and forth. Look at people. Look at hands. Are they armed? Are they coming at you? Is anyone talking to you?

Once you are sure there are no further threats, re-holster and call 911.

 
Physiological Changes and the Police

There is a school of thought that says if you have to shoot in self-defense, “never talk to police” afterward, or just tell them you need your lawyer. I don’t agree with this. Let’s face it, the person lying on the ground bleeding is a pretty convincing victim. If you don’t give police enough information to tell them “the attacker did this” and you were “afraid for your life” and had to use force to defend yourself, they have no choice but to treat you as the attacker.

Don’t misunderstand, if you must use deadly force, the police most likely are not your friend. They are there to collect information for the prosecutor. After you tell them that you were the victim, and what the attacker did to cause you to be afraid for your life, stop talking.

Why? When looking back over all of the physiological changes that take place, it does not take much to believe that your perception of what happened could be quite different from what actually took place. Any statement that you give police will now be on record and could make you look guilty, or like you may be hiding something.

Instead, tell the police that you know this is very serious, that you will give a statement after you have had time to calm down and speak with your attorney. I also recommend finding a lawyer that is aware of the physiological changes and can guide you through the statement to police.

For this reason, many police departments force all officers to undergo between 12-72 hours of downtime before they speak about the shooting.

I hope this helps shed some light on the body’s response in a critical incident and has given you a few ideas on how you can modify your training to go along with what your body will do during the process.

 

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