August 21, 2017

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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Stopping Blood Loss

bandage
 
One of the most dangerous medical conditions in an emergency is uncontrolled bleeding.  Having the knowledge to stop bleeding is something each of us should have.  It can take minutes for an ambulance to get to the scene when times are normal.  In a large scale emergency or a survival situation, you may not be able to wait for the ambulance.  If it were not for the emergency first aid given to people who lost limbs and had other horrific injuries, there would have been many more than three tragic deaths in Boston.
 
 
Perfect Circumstances
 
In perfect circumstances, you would try to reduce or stop the bleeding until the ambulance arrives and you would have access to a well-stocked first aid kit.  You would also be able to wash your hands and put on gloves to avoid contact with the blood and spread of infection to the patient.
 
 
Basic Training

I think everyone should have some basic first aid training.  The Red Cross offers First Aid, CPR and AED trainingOur community education offers classes for a small fee as well. American Academy of CPR & First Aid, Inc. is a web based company that offers several first aid and CPR related classes online.

Basic first aid to stop bleeding; if possible have the person lie down and elevate the legs as well as the site of the bleeding.

If possible, flush the wound to remove any obvious dirt or debris.  Don’t try to remove any large debris or more deeply embedded things. 

Apply pressure to the wound, using clean bandages if you have them.  If you find yourself in a place where you don’t have many clean bandages, make do with what you have; use your hands if nothing else is available.

Do NOT remove the bandage to check on the wound!  If the bandage gets soaked through, add another to it and continue to apply pressure.

Arterial bleeding might not stop with applied pressure.  In that case, you can apply pressure to the closest pressure point.  The pressure point in the arm is on the inside of the arm, just above the elbow and below the arm pit.  Pressure points for the leg are behind the knee and in the groin.  Press the pressure point with your fingers flat, pushing against the bone.  Keep applying pressure directly on the wound with your other hand.

Tourniquets have a sort of bad rap, as complications from them can lead to tissue damage or even a loss of limb.  They should only be used when arterial bleeding cannot be stopped with direct pressure and as a last resort.   A proper tourniquet should be 1”-2” wide.  Any narrower and you may cause more damage or even cause a new cut.  The wider the tourniquet the more pressure needed to stop bleeding.  Here is a guide to applying a tourniquet.
 
 
Supplies

The average first aid kit is great for stopping small amounts of blood but won’t be very effective against severe bleeding.  You can add some items to beef up your first aid kit that will make it much more effective.  Members of the Preparedness Club get a 10% discount at First Aid Products.com and they carry almost everything I am going to list. Rolls of gauze and 4″ x 4″ bandages are great for stopping bleeding, as are feminine hygiene products.
 
Quikclot Sport Pack and CELOX

These two products are hemostatic agents that are very effective at stopping blood loss.  There was some controversy when they first came out, as they sometimes caused tissue damage in the process.  They have since improved greatly and are in use at hospitals and clinics.  In fact, I cut my leg pretty badly a few years ago.  I applied a bandage and used an ace wrap as a pressure bandage.  When I got to the clinic for stitches, the bleeding started again as soon as the bandages were removed.  They used Qwik Clot to stop the bleeding and then stitched me up.  Trudee underwent heart catheter ablation at a local hospital last year.  When they pulled the catheters out, Qwik Clot was used to stop the bleeding.

Both companies sell a variety of products.  I personally bought these Quikclot Sport Pack pads but another type might fit your needs better.
 
Israeli Battle Dressing

This is a type of patented pressure dressing that can be used for stopping bleeding, splinting or as a tourniquet if needed.  Using it is hard to explain, hence the video below.  I have purchased these as well and will be making a trauma kit for the vehicles and one for the house, as an add-on for the primary first aid kit.
 

 

Other Sources of Information

Here are some articles from two sites I subscribe to, with more information on stopping blood loss.

 

Doom and Bloom

Wound Care in the Wilderness

To Bleed Or Not To Bleed…

Treating The Hemorrhagic Wound
 
 
The Survival Doctor

Skin Lacerations: How to Treat a Cut, Scrape, Gash, Stab Wound

How to Tell How Bad a Wound Is

Arteries Vs. Veins: How to Tell the Difference and Stop the Bleeding

When to Get Stitches

Video: How to Repair a Cut With Duct
 
 
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Preparedness Lessons from David and Goliath

 Today’s article isn’t the typical preparedness article.  Trust me, it is related.

One of my Biblical hero’s has always been David. He was fierce in everything; his protection of his flock, killing a lion and bear, etc. He was fierce in his determination to be king once God chose the time for him to be king. We’re told of at least two times that David spared Saul’s life and many more times that he fled Saul to avoid the confrontation. He was also fierce in his seeking the Lord, writing many of the Psalms, giving God praise and seeking His protection.

One of my favorite stories is of David and Goliath.  When David heard that the giant had been taunting Israel and the Living God, he was outraged.  He convinced Saul that the Lord had helped him kill the lions and bear and would help him kill the giant. Saul gave David his own armor and weapons, which David was unfamiliar and uncomfortable with. He took his sling and picked five smooth stones.  He then went to face the giant, who mocked him, to which David replied:

“You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies—the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.

Today the LORD will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head. And then I will give the dead bodies of your men to the birds and wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel!

And everyone assembled here will know that the LORD rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is the LORD’s battle, and he will give you to us!”

Like I said, David was fierce, not because of belief in himself but because of his belief in God.  God anointed David as the next king of Israel and, being that he was not king yet, David trusted in the Lord to save him and all of Israel from the giant. David’s faith was fierce.

I said this was preparedness related.  Here are the preparedness lessons I have gleaned from this story.

David was a shepherd.  He knew that sheep had natural predators that were dangerous and he knew he might have to defend his flock against them, so he always practiced Situational Awareness. There is always a possibility that someone around you means you harm.  In fact, according to the FBI crime clock 2010 there was a violent crime every 25.3 seconds that year.  Are you aware of your surroundings and looking for wolves?

As my friend Rob Robideau points out in his book “Tactical Bible Stories”, David had at his disposal the very finest weaponry and armor in all of Israel.  King Saul had offered his very own.  David instead chose to use what he was familiar with; a rod, a sling and stones.  There is a saying, “run what ya brung”.  It means that you should know how to use what you have. 

David was well practiced with his sling.  How many stones do you think he threw to become so accurate? He probably slung some for practice, some out of boredom and some out of the need to protect his flock, eventually slinging the stones that slain Goliath. Owning a firearm does not mean you are proficient with it, especially under stress. Under stress your body’s natural reaction could work against you. Only with training and practice can you become proficient and develop the muscle memory to fight against your body’s natural response. A small confession; I need more range time and more training classes.  This is something I want to be more proficient at.

All of the mightiest men of Israel watched for forty days as Goliath and the other philistines taunted them, blaspheming our God.  Only a young boy was willing to stand up to them. There is a saying “chance favors the prepared mind”.  But I think God looks for the willing soul. God has called many of us to prepare, with reasons only He knows.  If you’re a regular reader of this blog, my guess is that you are a willing soul. As I mentioned, David’s faith was fierce.  He may have thrown the stone, but God used him to kill Goliath. Stay willing and be on the lookout for giants and always be fierce, for we serve a mighty God.

Side note:  I read a commentary on this story once that said the reason David grabbed five stones was because Goliath had four brothers. He mentioned verses to back it up, which I can’t remember now.  True or not, I thought it was pretty funny.

 

Finding the Best Home Defense Gun to Meet Your Needs

Everyone has their opinion on what the best choice is for a home defense gun is and they could all be right. This topic, like many others, isn’t one-size-fits-all. There are cost factors, training concerns, legal restrictions and even the area in which you live to consider.

Instead of giving my opinion, I’ll give you some general guidelines and my take on different platforms so that you can find the perfect home defense gun for you. I’m going to speak in generalities in this article. I don’t know your local laws, please look to them for your firearm regulations.

What Makes a Good Home Defense Gun?

 

These are the factors I use for CCW or home defense guns.

  1. It has to work every time I pull the trigger or misfires have to be so seldom that the number might as well be zero.
  2. It has to be a common caliber; the more common the caliber, the more common the ammo. This is for people building their primary defensive battery; if you have go to handgun, by all means get something nonstandard.
  3. I have to like the gun; how the grip feels and how it feels when shooting it. I was talking to someone who said his dad owned a Glock for many years. His dad was involved in a car accident that caused some nerve damage to his hand. Afterward his dad could no longer shoot the Glock because of the way the polymer grip vibrated. If you don’t like the feel of it, you won’t shoot it, if you won’t shoot it you won’t be proficient at it.

 

What is your budget?

I could say that the hands down best home defense firearm is a $1000 carbine, but if you only have $200-$300 in the budget, nothing else matters. I’ll speak in generalities because it will always be possible to find a firearm that is more or less expensive. That being said, rifles and carbines are usually going to be the most expensive, followed by handguns and shotguns being the least expensive.

 

Will each adult have their own firearm, or will there be one home defense gun?

If this firearm is going to be the only home defense gun in the home, the adult with the smallest stature has to be able to fire it efficiently. Gentlemen, if you only have one firearm and your wife cannot fire it effectively, she might as well be without a firearm. This is not a knock on you ladies. Some women do not have the upper body strength to wield a loaded 12 gauge or the like. Some women just don’t like the recoil. There could be another suitable option available that is easier to handle and has sufficient stopping power.

 

Where do you live?

There is a huge difference between living in an apartment versus your nearest neighbor living a half mile away. If you live in an area that has neighbor’s very nearby, penetration is a concern. This all but rules rifles out. With handguns you can limit this some by choice of ammo. You have more options with a shotgun but you have to be sure you aren’t compromising on stopping power. More on this later.

 

What do you have the most practice with?

Let’s say you have a 12 gauge loaded with buckshot for home defense but you have only shot it a handful of times. Let’s say you have the gun you wear for conceal and carry that you have fired hundreds of rounds downrange with. Which of the two is the better choice?

There is a caveat here. Since this is a gun for defense, it must have stopping power. If you’re in a .22 league and have the most practice with a .22, enjoy the league but practice with something that has more stopping power for home defense.

 

Platforms

Speaking in generalities again, when it comes to stopping power, rifles are better stoppers than shotguns, which are better than handguns. Rifles and shotguns don’t conceal well without the police being called (haha). When out in public the handgun is the best option. For home defense, penetration is often a concern, whether a round goes through interior walls or exterior walls, you have to think about others in your house and your neighbors. Shooting through walls is an article from The Box O’ Truth. In it, he shows that most handgun, rifle and many shotgun loads will penetrate walls.

 

Handguns

I have seen all kinds of arguments for and against using handguns for home defense. Some will say that the handgun is what you use when you can’t carry a shotgun or rifle. There is a similar argument that the handgun is what you use to fight your way to your rifle. Both are very valid points. Handguns do not have the range or stopping power like the other options. If it is what you are trained with, it could be the best option for you.

My concern with using a handgun for home defense is over penetration. Most rounds will penetrate multiple interior walls and punch through an exterior one as well. With frangible ammunition this can be mitigated to some extent. This type of ammunition is made to expand upon impact and limit penetration. This isn’t to say they are not man stoppers. This type of ammo is more expensive but you should shoot with it to ensure it works well with your gun. While it is expensive, it is not nearly as expensive as a funeral.

One plus that the handgun has over other platforms is that it can be shot with one hand. If you have a child that you have to carry, or have a disability that would make using the larger framed platforms prohibitive, a handgun might make a good choice.

 

Rifles/Carbines

Having the longest range, the most rounds per magazine and the best stopping power, these are the most expensive option. As with handguns, over penetration is a concern. Frangible ammunition does not work well in rifles in most cases and is only available in a few select calibers. If you live in an area that penetration is not a concern, this is a great option.

 

Shotguns

Most often the least expensive option, a brand new shotgun can be purchased for $200-$300 and I have seen them at pawn shops for less than $200. In home defense ranges, a shotgun with the right ammo can be an effective man stopper. Shotguns come in a variety of gauges, The most common are the 12 gauge and the 20 gauge; the smaller the number, the more powerful the shotgun. Many people will say that a home defense shotgun should be a 12 gauge. If this is the only firearm in the home, I’ll go back to the point I made about the person with the smallest stature being able to handle the firearm. If that person still has trouble with the weight of a fully loaded 20 gauge, youth models are available. With the smaller frame, maneuvering through the home might be easier and with the right ammo, the youth model will still be an effective stopper.

Shotguns have a variety of ammunition available; birdshot, buckshot and slugs. Slugs, while a very effective stopper, are not a great choice for home defense due to over penetration. Buckshot and birdshot come in varying shot sizes. Birdshot is not defensive ammunition and should only be used on, well, birds. Here is a link to The Box O’ Truth where he shows just how effective 20 gauge #3 buckshot is. For home defense loads, #3 or #4 buckshot would be sufficient to stop Mr. Dirtbag and will have far less penetration than bullets.

Shotguns have less capacity than the other platforms. You can compensate for this with a stock shell holder. There is a belief carried by some that shotguns don’t have to be aimed. This is simply untrue. Practice and training are still needed in every case.

Another plus too shotguns is that they are multi-lingual. The person breaking into your house might not speak English, but everyone speaks shotgun.

 

Things you should have with your home defense gun.

  • A light. Whether mounted or not, you need to be able to see your target and make sure it’s not one of the kids sneaking in at 2 am. You can kill them (figuratively) in the morning (haha).
  • Training. Save up and spend money on good quality training. I know there multiple places within an hour of me that offer training specifically on home defense.
  •  Night Sites. If your firearm can have night sites I would recommend getting them. It will help you with target acquisition.
  •  If you have older eyes or problems with target acquisition, a laser might be a great option.
  • Did I mention training? TRAIN, TRAIN, TRAIN. PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE.

Your firearm is useless for home defense if you cannot get to it quickly, here are some of my thoughts on Being Armed at Home.

 

Self-Defense: Real World Self-Defense

Today I want to talk to you about real world self-defense; martial arts that teach you how to defend against attacks commonly seen in the real world.  First let me say that I have nothing against traditional martial arts.  I’m just not sure they’re practical for the average person who doesn’t have years to devote to learning but wants to be able to defend themselves.

I think this type of training is a great idea for everyone, whether you’re someone who doesn’t know how to throw a correct punch, or someone who carries a firearm whenever you leave the house.  Knowing how to defend yourself from attacks will not only increase your chances of survival, but will also give you more self-confidence in general.  Some of these attacks are used literally thousands of times a day, from someone who might have had too much to drink to someone who won’t take no for an answer or even worse, someone who means to do great bodily harm.

There are many different types of real world self-defense.  The one I am trained in is an Israeli based system called Haganah (which translates from Hebrew to ‘Defense’). Haganah was created by Mike Lee Kanarek, who served in the Israeli Special Forces. In Israel everyone must serve in the IDF, their army. They developed a system call Krav Maga to quickly train every individual to competently defend themselves in hand to hand combat.

Mr. Kanarek moved to the US and developed Haganah, which is based off of Krav Maga and other aspects of Israeli training.  It is composed of 4 parts; ICS – Israeli Combat Shooting (Defensive Handgun), ITK – Israeli Tactical Knife, F.I.T. 2 FIGHT – Combat Fitness, the only one I am going to discuss today is FIGHT, which stands for Fierce Israeli Guerilla Hand-to-hand Tactics. You might be asking “why not take Krav Maga instead of Haganah ?”  FIGHT is the aspect of Haganah most similar to Krav Maga.  From my understanding FIGHT is continually enhanced and improved from lessons learned in Israel and from studios across the USA whereas Krav Maga is not (or at least not as much).

FIGHT is a defense based system that teaches how to quickly end a threat and escape from an attack. For me, the beauty of FIGHT is that there are not hundreds of moves that need to be learned like in many traditional martial arts classes.  It goes in a four month cycle; every four months you will learn defenses for hand-to-hand attacks. Rotating every other cycle, you will learn gun and knife defenses.  FIGHT is built to take someone from zero martial arts background and make them proficient to defend themselves in months, not years.

Do you need to be young or in shape to take FIGHT? No, absolutely not.  When I started I was not in shape.  Some of the first classes were more activity than I was used to but nothing I couldn’t handle. If you get winded and need a break, you let your instructor know. As far as age goes, I was 37 when I started and there were many classes where I was the baby in the group.  In fact, we had one gentleman was in his 60’s.  Because of my Asperger Syndrome, I’m a bit clumsy and awkward, a regular “bull in a china shop”.  There is no way I could do Tae Kwon Do or many other traditional martial arts, due to the need for fine motor skills.  FIGHT isn’t designed to be pretty.  It’s designed to quickly deliver significant pain to anyone who violates your safety. Instead of kicking with a specific part of the foot to a specific part of someone else’s body, FIGHT teaches a few different kicks that you use to kick as hard as you can aiming for a general area.

FIGHT isn’t MMA (Mixed Martial Arts).  In MMA you focus on one person.  The goal is to knock out your opponent or cause enough pain for your opponent to submit. FIGHT teaches you to stay alert, as your attacker could have friends.  It also teaches to overlap and overwhelm your attacker quickly so that you stop the threat and escape your attacker.

FIGHT teaches partner preservation.  This means you do use force in practice but to a limited extent.  I often would go 30-40% of my capability.  That is, unless my partner and I had agreed to push each other harder.

FIGHT is an excellent idea for everyone but I highly recommend it for women.  You will learn how to defend against the most common street attacks and to defend against a variety of men, as well as a variety of body types. 

You can search YouTube for videos on Haganah or FIGHT.  There are many available to watch.  Haganah is a bit expensive upfront, as you have to buy the training book and videos, but they are nice to have as you can watch them before class to refresh your memory.
 
 
Finding Real World Self-Defense Training

The facility where I learned FIGHT mainly teaches Tae Kwon Do but teaches FIGHT twice a week.  I would recommend searching the websites for local martial arts centers; many have a section for other types of classes that they don’t primarily teach.  You could also call and speak with an instructor; they might know of the type of class you’re looking for, even if they don’t teach it.  Doing a web search for “real world martial arts in [Your City]” might give some leads as well.  I only know the name of two of these types of training, Krav Maga and Haganah, but I know there are many more.

You can almost always go in and watch a class to see if it is right for you.  I was able to take a few classes for free to see if I liked it. 

If neither of those is available and you can’t find real world self-defense classes, I would advise my female readers to take a female self-defense class.  These are often a series of just a few classes and will give you tools that are often easy to learn due to the limited time.

 For full disclosure, I haven’t been able to go to FIGHT for a while and I miss it.  I hope to be able to go again soon.  I had zero martial arts training when I started but if asked, I would have said I think I could have handled myself if attacked.  With what I have learned from Haganah, I can say I had a limited knowledge and am much more able to defend myself now.

I know we have multiple people who practice a variety of martial arts, please comment and give your opinion.  If you know of a form of real world martial arts, please leave the name of it as well.

 
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What is CERT

What is CERT

My wife and I participated in CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) training as a way to be official aides in our community in an emergency. Our city doesn’t have CERT but the county our church is in, sponsors one, so we signed up and trained there.

Here is brief synopsis taken from the CERT homepage:

“The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Program educates people about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. Using the training learned in the classroom and during exercises, CERT members can assist others in their neighborhood or workplace following an event when professional responders are not immediately available to help. CERT members also are encouraged to support emergency response agencies by taking a more active role in emergency preparedness projects in their community.”

The CERT concept was started by the Los Angeles Fire Department in 1985 as a way for civilians to aid local first responders. You can read more about CERT history on the About Page

What Do You Learn In CERT?

Introduction

Unit 1: Disaster Preparedness
Unit 2: Fire Safety
Unit 3: Disaster Medical Operations—Part 1
Unit 4: Disaster Medical Operations—Part 2
Unit 5: Light Search and Rescue Operations
Unit 6: CERT Organization
Unit 7: Disaster Psychology
Unit 8: Terrorism and CERT
Unit 9: Course Review and Disaster Simulation

I’ll cover the things that I remember; this is NOT all inclusive of the material taught.

Unit 1 covered some basic emergency preparedness, including having enough food and water for your entire family (including pets) for a minimum of three days. They also assert that every family member should have a kit with their essential supplies. It was explained that there are 300 civilians for every 1 first responder. We were trained that if there was an emergency and the CERT team was activated, we are to take care of our families first, then report to where we were asked to go. The county Emergency Manager explained that the reason we make a kit and have food and water stored is because they and FEMA would set up a FEMA shelter, but that we did not want to be there.

Unit 2 covered basic firefighting. We went to a fire station and were shown how to use a fire extinguisher and a fire hose. The different types of fire were explained and we were shown how to extinguish them. We were also taught how to develop an emergency plan, and how to turn off water, gas and electricity.

Unit 3 and Unit 4 taught us how to triage and how to treat the most frequent types of injuries that are found in emergency situations; some of which are airway obstructions, bleeding and shock; how to apply splints, treat wounds and burns.

Unit 5 covered how to size up a situation to see if entering a building is safe, look for fallen wires, smell for gas leaks, look for smoke etc. We learned the difference between light, moderate and heavy damage and how to mark an exterior door with symbols indicating that the area has been entered, assessed, exited and whether there are victims inside along with any other pertinent information. We were shown how to build a “crib”, which uses a lever and incrementing blocks to take the weight off of a victim, as well as safe ways to pull a victim out and carry or drag them properly.

Unit 6 explained the organization of response teams; who a CERT member may report to and their jobs in the different teams.

Unit 7 Covered dealing with emotions that survivors may have and keeping responding teams emotional wellbeing intact.

Unit 8 explained the different types of terrorist weapons; nuclear, chemical, conventional explosive and biological. There were explanations on what to do if there is an event and what the CERT role will be.

Chapter 9 reviewed all information. The exercise might be different for each group but we went to a law enforcement training center that has a couple of mock buildings set up. We used everything we learned while going through the process of sizing up the scene and entering the building to look for hazards and victims. We also set up a triage and trauma area that the victims from the building were brought to for treatment.

As I have stated, different CERT groups may handle things differently. Your experience may be different. The county we were trained in obtained a grant from FEMA and supplied us all with a CERT bag full of supplies. They also have monthly training on various items. When there is an emergency, a call is sent to all CERT members, detailing what they need to do. CERT was activated when the 35W bridge collapsed. CERT was also activated to walk the caution tape when a Police Officer was murdered, keeping the general public behind the tape. The county also uses the CERT team for non-emergency events, such as standing watch at flood zones or at various posts during fundraising events.

I highly recommend CERT for multiple reasons. You will learn how to be a resource to your community in an emergency. It will teach you how to respond in many types of emergencies, such as weather, fire, trauma or terrorism.

Because I believe CERT is such a good idea, I have added a way for you to find CERT and other Citizen Corp groups in your area, to the right of the article. Just add your Zip Code and you’ll be shown a list of groups near you.

 
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