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Monday, May 4, 2009

More on training

I posted here about training and haven't been back to it, so here are a few thoughts and ideas and whatever from Handgun 1.

During the lecture Clint asked what we thought the best defense was. I piped up with "run away" which of course brought a few giggles from some of the tough guys in the class.

I'll paraphrase Clint's response:

In our culture it is hard for a man to run away, but if Custer had THAT day to do over, do you think he would do something different?

Running away isn't always the best option, and may not be an option at all. When it is an option you might want to consider it. There are more then a few gravestones out there that could read "He had the chance to run away but decided to stay and fight."


I was waiting outside The Terminator, which was basically one of the greatest fun houses in the world. There were several of us waiting for our turn. I had my electronic muffs on so I could hear fairly well what was going on inside.

The first guy went in and the instructor briefed him on what he was supposed to do. I can hear a few footsteps, them BOOM!!

Instructor: Why did you shoot him?
Student: He had a gun.
Instructor: He was your next door neighbor's son. He thought he saw someone breaking in and came over to check it out.

Communication just might be important.

One of the self-proclaimed hotshot tough guys went in next. It was entertaining to say the least.

He and a buddy were at the class together and both were in or fixing to enter OCS. Bloody Brass and all that stuff. They both had Glock 17's in drop-leg holsters. They had hi-cap mags in their guns and six spares on their belts. This was back during the clinton gun ban of 1994 so they were carrying around more money in their mags than in their guns.

So this macho nacho goes in. He found the first potential problem and he did remember to try and communicate. It soon became apparent that the potential threat was a real threat, so he tried to deal with it. His solution went something like this:


(sound of an empty mag hitting the floor, new mag inserted, slide dropping)


The rest of the students waiting outside were all counting shots and most of us agreed he only had one round left from his SECOND mag at the end of his first encounter.

When he came out the door of that place he didn't tell anyone about what a great shot he was or any other stuff like that. We were all laughing to ourselves.

Don't brag. If you are that good then everyone will know it soon enough. If you aren't that good, then bragging makes you look silly.

Glocks will usually feed just about anything. One guy had his Glock go down and it wouldn't come back up. It was not a malfunction. It was a real, live jam. The kind where an armorer is required to get the gun working again.

Seems that in his haste to reload his mags during one of the short reload breaks he put a round in the mag backwards and kept stuffing rounds in on top of it.

When he got to that round during one of the drills the Glock stuffed that round backwards into the chamber.

The gun obviously wouldn't work so he performed a basic malfunction drill:

1. Hit the base of the mag to make sure it is seated.

2. Try to pull the mag out to confirm it is really seated.

3. Rack the slide.

The gun still wouldn't work so he went to the next level of malfunction drill:

1. Pull out the mag.

2. Rack the slide several times.

3. Insert mag.

4. Rack the slide.

The gun still wouldn't work.

With the round in the chamber backwards there was nothing for the extractor to grab onto so racking the slide couldn't clear the bad round. When the slide was racked with a loaded mag in the gun it caused a sort of double feed, one frontwards and one backwards. When he removed the mag and racked the slide, each time the slide went forward it wedged the round in the chamber harder and probably shoved the bullet down into the case. Using a cleaning rod to shove the round out from the muzzle didn't seem like a good idea.

They ended up giving the student a loaner gun to finish the day. I don't know how he got the round out. I suspect a wooden dowel slightly smaller than the bore and inserted from the muzzle would have worked.

Putting the round in the mag was a stupid mistake. I'll bet before that happened the guy that did it thought only other people made stupid mistakes. The stress of the class was enough to mess him up when performing an action he had done thousands of times before. Imagine what the stress of actually being in a fight would be like.

On the subject of malfunction clearance drills, I will go over how they were practiced.

Just going through the steps makes doing the drill seem easy and boring. You have to spice it up a little to get the full effect.

When we did malfunction drills in the class we were paired up with another student. When I was going to do the drill I would put my handgun on the ground behind cover and pointing down range. Then I would walk back about 10 yards behind the line and faced away from my weapon while my "partner" set up a malfunction. On his signal I would run to the line and try to fire two shots into the threat.

The malfunctions stared out as simple stovepipes or having the magazine not fully seated. However, we soon got much more creative and made the problems harder to solve. Double feeds, triple feeds, empty cases in the mag, empty cases backwards in the mag, you name it and we tried it. The only things against the rules were putting wrong caliber ammunition in the gun and putting live rounds in the mag backwards on purpose. The latter rule was apparently a new one as a result of the problem I mentioned above.

When it looked like a student was proficient enough the instructors started giving them a little more attention. Nothing like trying to get your handgun running with a guy hanging just over your shoulder screaming "Don't look at your gun! The gun is not your problem! Your problem is out there! Keep your eyes up! You better hurry!! He's coming to get you!!"

One of the instructors set up my last malfunction drill. I didn't realize he set it up at the time but I knew I was in trouble when I turned to go pick up the handgun and I saw him grinning maniacally.

My experience was something like this:
I picked up the handgun which was a 1911 and I could see it wasn't cocked. I racked the slide and tried to fire. It went click instead of bang. The instructor started yelling over my shoulder. I slapped the bottom of the mag and tried to test if it was seated but there wasn't a mag in the gun. The instructor is yelling more. I saw a mag on the ground and stuffed it in, tested it, and racked the slide. The slide locked back. More yelling coming out of the mouth of the demon from Hell who was impersonating the instructor. I pulled out the mag, racked the slide several times, insterted the mag, racked the slide, and it locked back again. More yelling. With peripheral vision I located another mag. When I picked it up I paid attention to the weight and knew it was empty. More yelling. Now the guy is sort of jumping up and down and screaming right behind me. I can hear him clearly through the electronic muffs. Picture the DI screaming at "Private Pyle" in the first half of Full Metal Jacket. It wasn't that bad but it seemed like it at the time. When I sighted the second unloaded mag I saw a pile of empty brass on the ground mixed in the gravel. The instructor is saying "What's the matter? You don't have any ammo? You better find some somewhere!!! Keep your eyes on the threat!!" I feel through the pile of gravel and empty cases and find two loaded rounds. Then I have to load them in the magazine and fire them.

I was glad THAT was over.

I think any decent defensive training class should be stressful. The little bit of stress you feel in the class is probably nothing compared to what you would feel if you ever actually have to use your training.


Paladin said...

Enjoyed the glimpse inside. Sounds stressful, but *fun*.

A defensive handgun class is one of those things that has been on my list of things to do for too long now. I need to move it to the *done* column.

Bitmap said...

I went to classes back when my wife was working, ammo was affordable, and we had a little extra money.

A good class is well worth the cost, even with the current price of ammo.

theotherryan said...

In the next couple of years I hope to have the combination of time and money to go down there.


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