General

MVT RS/CTT Day 3 Recap

There is a funny video that goes around talking about the rules of a gunfight. Rule #1 is, obviously, bring a gun. Most people who attend firearms training are good with that. 

Rule #2 is bring all your friends with guns. What I did today illustrates why that point is so important. 

Day 3 gets to the meat of the Combat Team Tactics (CTT) course. Rather than starting the day on the 25 meter square range, we cross loaded our gear into trucks and drove out to “Tac Range 1.” Chairs were arranged around a whiteboard all under a pavilion set into the woods. 

It was cold, about 38 degrees, and I was shivering a little during the opening lesson in this outdoor classroom.  But it was all good.  I dutifully scribbled notes while the two instructors talked. We covered a lot of safety, the basics of fire and maneuver, and discussed how the individual movement drills done on day 2 were to be employed. 

Then we rehearsed. 

This became the pattern of the day: lecture, rehearsal (without weapons), then live fire. 

Each iteration of this cycle built upon the previous drill, growing in complexity by adding people. 

First it was just a two shooters as a buddy pair, then a team of four broken into two pairs. The drills became more complex as the day went on. 

One instructor stayed with each pair coaching and correcting safety mistakes, if needed (it wasn’t). Each run advanced further and further up the wooded hillside, with the team working against remotely controlled electronic pop up targets. 

I will write more about this in the full after action review, but I will simply say that the experience was awesome. 

Personal lessons learned

  • I let the drills from the two previous days break my common sense a bit. For one, the first time I was in charge of reacting to contact, I took a knee and fired before moving to cover. Taking a knee is what we did on the square range to simulate cover. The second one happened after a reload and I fired a shot at the enemy position, even though no target was visible. I did that because the stoppage drills (which include reloading) in the previous two days were not complete until after a shot was fired to verify proper operation. If nothing else, it shows that drills work. 
  • Huffing it up and down the hills definitely shows why fitness is important. My Garming watch tells me I climbed 36 flights of stairs today, and my heart rate hit 160+ several times while just walking with my gear. Fitness matters!
  • Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. If you aren’t very familiar with the people in the fight with you (and we weren’t), then you have to keep everybody on the same page. While the drills my team ran were all performed technically pretty well, we were slow because our communication was slow. 
  • Leadership is important. Someone has to take charge. I do t think this was a problem with my team, since there was two former military officers in it (including me), but it is important for someone to recognize and take initiative. 

Gear Notes

  • The combo of my medium battle belt and chest rig was nearly perfect. I always had ammo available, yet did. It have my mobility hindered by “stuff.”
  • I brought out the musket for the second half of the day, and I was glad that I put the stubby BCM foregrip back on the bottom rail of the hand guard. While it’s not terribly useful to me from a marksmanship standpoint, it was great for actually carrying the rifle in the low patrol position. I don’t think it would have the same benefit in a lighter rifle, but in the musket it helped save a lot of wrist aching. 
  • That said, lighter is nicer! It wasn’t a huge pain in the ass or anything, but I’ll be swichi my back to the lightweight 16 tomorrow. 
  • Both the Elcan SpecterOS 4x and Trijicon TA110 shined in this environment. The illumination on both was perfect, and the extra magnification really made a huge difference in identifying where hits were going and what the target was doing, especially when the dust and smoke picked up. I will say that once you get off a flat/square range and into the woods, or other obscured visibility situation, they were money. 

In all, it was a great day and I look forward to the “climax” tomorrow. 

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General

MVT RS/CTT Day 2 Recap

On the second day of this four day course, the focus remained relatively the same. Drills from yesterday were repeated, malfunctions were induced and solved, and we continued with two man bounding. It was good content, and I know a significant portion of what we did yesterday was only supposed to be done today. 

I slowed things down a bit to focus on the corrections I needed to make from th day before. I kept my firing hand on the grip through all manipulations (except for locking th bolt the the rear).  The malfunction drills were well done, and I was happy with my performance. In all, not a lot to say about this day just yet. 

Lessons Learned

  • Stay hydrated. I ran into the same issue when I did the Appleseed event a while back. By the afternoon, I was fighting off a wicked headache caused from dehydration.  It will be even more important the next two days. 
  • Pay attention to holdovers. I have the optic zeroed for 100 meters. The point of impact will change significantly when shooting at 5, 15, or 25 meters. It is still generally in the right area, but if Precision is the goal, you must know and practice the holdovers. 

Equipment Notes

  • I ran the BCM LW 16” all day. It was flawless, and I definitely have grown to more appr coats this gun than I had in the past. 
  • Plastic MOE handguards deal with heat pretty damn well
  • The Elcan OS4x has been fantastic for this type of shooting. However, I dislike the mount. It hasn’t gone anywhere, but the adjustment screws on the ARMS mount keepi backing themselves off. I like was reluctant to picture them, but I may have to.
  • Chest rigs are definitely easier to work from than belts
  • My gun, as well as all th other BCMs present ran great, the cheap DTI guns combined with poor ammo crashed and burned pretty bad

Tomorrow we move off the square range and add to the toolbox. 

General

MVT RS/CTT Day 1 Retrospective

The posts over the next few days will be short recaps is the training day’s events. I’m doing them on my phone, so forgive the typos. 

Day 1 is rifle skills. This is a fundamentals course intended for those who need to be brought up ton speed on the basics of marksmanship, weapon handling, and shooting. The day is historically optional, but will not be next year. While certainly basic, I found it to be a good refresher for things I hadn’t done since the days of action shooting in Montana. 

I found the discussion of the marksmanship fundamentals to be pretty minimal. But, I reckon that Max realized that all the students in the class were on top of things. For having not fired a rifle since the beginning of the year, I was quite happy with my tight 3 shot clusters during this phase (which included zeroing at 25 meters). 

The remainder of the day broke down into sets of drills for weapons handling, moving through positions, and transitions from shoulder to shoulder. There was some extra events thrown in with moving into and out of cover, but that is not typical and was done more because our small class finished the curriculum early.  

I would say that there probably could have been more content, but I would wager the class usually moves slower with more people. I know there is similar content tomorrow that was not fine today, so we will see how it works out. 

Learning Points:

  • Keep the firing hand on the trip at all times unless being used to lock the bolt back. I struggled with this mainly because I’ve grown accustomed to doing things with the firing hand. I blame California and the stupid bullet. I kept wanting to use my firing hand to actuate charging handle (I have an ambidextrous one). 
  • When working in pairs, communication is key. More than that, don’t just yell and communicate for the hell of it- do something about it. 
  • Stress will make you do funny things. I clearly had not been on my reload from the belt game. The first time I had to do it, I ended up pulling out pistol mags twice and then finally a rifle mag. Also, I need to pick an orientation for the rifle mags. 

Gear Lessons

  • The medium battle belt worked fantastically, no complaints. 
  • The Vertx smock was great, if not a little warm as the sun bore down us and th temn went into he high 70s. I are a lot of use from the magazine pouches sewn into the main chest pockets. This way, I carry a mag in the gun, two on the belt, and then feed the belt from the chest pockets during lulls. 
  • Ascalon, the recce, choked by the end of the day. It functioned fantastic up to that point, leaving nice little piles of brass to my 4 o’clock. I don’t know if it was lube, dust, or something else, but it was suffering consistent feed failure. I was wondering if this would happen given that I’ve always questioned if it was assembled correctly by the last shop that I had remount the barrel. Rather than messing with it the rest of the day, I switched to the BCM LW 16. No further issues. I will continue running the BCM Tomorrw. 
  • The TR24 was great,  being able to move from no magnification to 4x was very useful. Although I did seem to have a problem with the ocular adjustment ring staying in place. 
  • The fixed 4x Elcan was still quite usable, even at close range. I will get more time on it tomorrow. 
General

48 Hours Out; Pre-Training Inspection

 

I will have a more complete AAR of the training event in a couple weeks, after I’ve had time to process it. For now, being 48 hours out, I wanted to go over the items I’m taking along.

This is a four day training course at Max Velocity Tactical (MVT). The first day is Rifle Skills, which covers the bases of techniques needed for the following three days. The first day’s content includes:

  • Safety
  • Marksmanship Fundamentals
  • Grouping & Zeroing
  • Weapon Manipulation: malfunctions and stoppages
  • Shooting positions
  • Support side shooting
  • Facing movements / ‘ready ups’
  • Controlled pairs /hammer pairs / stream fire.

The next three days are the Combat Team Tactics course. This is class is designed to teach basic tactical combat rifle and team skills from individual up to pairs and team level. It is part of a training progression that MVT offers, with the next steps including combat patrol, CQB, and even force-on-force training using UTM rounds.

The content for CTT includes:

  • Safety and active muzzle awareness
  • Rifle Manipulation
  • Stoppage Drills
  • Combat Shooting
  • Controlled Pairs, Hammer Pairs, Stream Fire
  • Combat mindset and stress effects
  • Reaction to Contact Drills: RTR & Burst Movement
  • Intro to Patrol Movement
  • Use of Cover
  • Taking & Breaking Cover
  • Observation & Target Identification
  • Buddy Team Fire & Movement
  • Pairs & Team Break Contact Drills
  • Use of the Flank to Assault
  • Introduction to the Squad Hasty Attack

On Attending Tactical Training

This blog has always had an emphasis on marksmanship, and that has been my focus for the last three and a half years. A lot of that emphasis was due to the circumstances of living in California. Prior to that, when I lived in Montana, I spent a lot more time with action shooting (AKA 3-Gun and 2-Gun). While my focus has been on the practical application of marksmanship, I have always been a staunch supporter of the right to keep and bear arms. That includes all aspects of owning firearms, including self defense.

I’ve mentioned before that I am a firm believer in the concept of banding together in times of crisis to protect yourself, your tribe, and your community. If anything, the recent spate of natural disasters should demonstrate the necessity of this position. When things get really bad, someone else coming to help you is not a guarantee (or even really likely).

Attending this kind of training moves me closer to that vision, of being better able to protect my family, friends, and community.

In the end, this is about being a well-rounded gun owner and citizen.

METT-T

If you recall, planning should focus on the principles of METT-T. This is how I am looking at things:

  • Mission: To learn effective rifle fighting and small team tactics for use in emergency situations and to grow as a gun owner and armed citizen advocate. This implies time spent manipulating weapons, maneuvering in and out of various shooting positions, traversing over unknown terrain under load, and retaining information. Possible constraints include lack of prior experience and moderate level of fitness.
  • Enemy: The enemy is time, focus, and complacency. There is a lot of ground to cover in a short period of time, which will strain knowledge retention. Focus and complacency can lead to negligent weapons handling and/or a wrongful assumption that “I’ve got this.”
  • Troops Available: This is primarily about me, but I know roughly how many other students will be attending. I do not know their backgrounds, relative skill levels, or dispositions. Everyone will be well rested. For myself, I have a relatively good grasp of marksmanship fundamentals, which will help me focus on the more tactical portion of the training. I am highly motivated, and physically up for the task.
  • Terrain: The course is taking place in a portion of the country known for difficult terrain. There will be lots of elevation gain/loss during traversal. Lines of sight are restricted by heavy forest. As of this writing, the weather is forecast to be a low of about 50 degrees each night, and a high in the upper-mid 70’s each day. Days are expected to be sunny and without precipitation.
  • Time: Time is not unlimited for this event. There is definitely a curriculum to work through, and a set amount of time to accomplish it. I do not know the itinerary at this point, so there isn’t much I can say here.

The Gear List

MVT presents this gear list for the course:

  • *Fighting Rifle: a semi-automatic battle rifle utilizing detachable magazines of minimum 20 round capacity. AR/AK type platforms are an example of a suitable rifle. The safety must be operable with the firing hand, by finger or thumb, without removing the hand from the pistol grip.
  • Rifle spare parts/spare rifle/optics are useful in case of failures.
  • *The safety selector on your rifle must be easily manipulated with the firing hand.
  • *Rifle magazines (20 or 30 rounds standard capacity): minimum eight.

(Magazine Tip: unique tape on your magazines will help you find and identify them if you drop them on the range).

(Magazine tip: bring as many magazines as you can, pre-loaded, to avoid wasting time loading mags between drills. You will require 4 empty magazines, with loose ammunition, for the first day of the CTT class)

  • *Eye protection
  • *Ear protection: Howard Leight Impact Sport/Pro electronic ear protection, or a similar product, is recommended. These will cancel out the harmful sounds of weapons firing, while allowing you to hear commands. They are excellent for tactical training, and safety.
  • *Load/ammo carrying gear: ‘Load-Out’ i.e. battle belt/plate carrier/tactical vest
  • *Water source: canteen/ camelbak/ water bottles
  • *Bug repellant

That’s the minimum list. My own list from reading AARs from people attending training, both at MVT and elsewhere, includes some more items. Here’s the breakdown.

The Weapon(s) and Ammo

I plan to run this course primarily with my original AR, the 16″ Recce (otherwise known as Ascalon). I’ve swapped back and forth with optics, but I believe I’ve settled on mounting the TR-24 for this. Since I don’t quite know what to expect, the 1-4x variable offers the most versatility between close and ranged targets. It’s a bit funny that I’ve come nearly full circle on this rifle, as it has had all manner optic from the variable, to 2.5-10, to RDS, fixed 4x/3,5x, and now back to the original low power variable.

I am bringing two backup rifles. The first is the 16″ LW KISS, equipped with the Elcan SpecterOS 4x. The second is the musket, equipped with the TA-110. I don’t expect to need them, but at least they (and their optics) will be there.

All weapons have had their optics mounted, dismounted, swapped around, and mounted again. That means they all require zeroing again. I’m hoping to squeeze in the two backups on the same day as the primary.

Strictly speaking, a pistol is not required for this training event. So, I do not plan on bringing one. I realize there is benefit to wear-testing holsters and carry methods to see if it would work, but I can do that on my own time or at some future course.

As far as magazines, I’m bringing 16 PMAG 30s, two PMAG 20s, and a PMAG 10. I don’t think there will be much use for the 20s and 10s beyond initial zeroing, but you never know. I wrapped the bottom of the mags with some blue painters tape, and then wrapped a strip of blaze orange 100 mph tape (to help with finding any dropped mags during various drills). The painters tape will help keep the mag body free of the 100 mph tape residue.

For this event, I picked up 1000 rounds of Magtech 62gr FMJ as well as an additional 500 rounds of American Eagle 55gr.

Load Carriage

I plan to run this event primarily from my medium battle belt. I don’t typically use it, but I’ve added a dump pouch to the rear to help with misc items during training. This belt is supplemented by the MVT chest rig I received late last year.

I will have a backup H-Harness set up just in case. It’s a First Spear Patrolling Harness, which is very similar to the DF-LCS V2 issued to USAF security forces. It’s definitely a touch of the old school, but this style of light infantry training is pretty much exactly what it was designed for. The First Spear harness was effectively designed by the same person (who use to work at Eagle Industries), but with more modern methods (laser-cut webbing, tubes attachments, etc.) I don’t know if it will get any actual use, but I may try to work it in and see how it does.

Clothing

  • There’s not much to put here. I’ll be carting along one beater pair of my old Air Force ABU pants, a pair of TAD Recon AC pants, and TAD Force 10 RS pants. All three are slightly different cuts and styles, so I’ll get a chance to see what works and what doesn’t.
  • For boots, I plan on sticking with my Salomon Jungle Ultras. I will have a pair of Danner Tachyons as backup.
  • Shirts are just a mix of moisture wicking ones I’ve got left over from my time in the Air Force. I will layer as necessary, but plan on having the outermost layer be my Vertx Smock. That enables me to carry a couple more mags in the pockets without having to use the chest rig.
  • For rain gear, I’ll be toting along my issued USAF gore tex jacket as an outermost layer for the really bad stuff (unlikely), and a packable inner jacket that can be worn under the smock if necessary.
  • It’s going to be sunny, so i’ll have hats. I’ve got a mixture of patrol cap style and boonie hats. Situation dependent.
  • It’s cheesy, but I’m bringing two shemaghs. They’ve been great in the past on sunny days for helping keep my neck from burning.

Protective Gear

  • Ear pro is a set of Howard Leights and some foamie ear plugs. I’ll bring along a spare set of Peltors, but the ones I’ve got have not worked right in a long time (the microphone/speakers don’t power up).
  • My eyewear is the same set of Revision Sawflys I’ve been using for years. I’ll bring a backup set of glasses as well.
  • I’ve been warned that there is a lot of getting up and down from kneeling, and that knee pads are recommended. The easiest route would have been foam inserts for pants, but only one pair of my pants can accept them. I’ll be taking a set of Alta Superflex pads.
  • For gloves, I plan to stick with my PIG FDT Alphas, with a set of Mechanix as backup.

Misc Supporting Gear

In addition to the load carriage equipment, which I’ve previously discussed, there is some extra support gear I’ll have.

  • I’m bringing two slings, the BFG Padded Vickers, and FTW multipurpose.
  • SORD shooting mat for the first day, where I expect a good bit of being on the ground.
  • GoRuck GR1 for extra “stuff.”
  • Folding stool, because sitting is nice.
  • Rite in the Rain notebook(s) for taking notes.
  • Leatherman MUT
  • Flashlight
  • Spool of paracord
  • Spool of #36 bank line
  • Canteen x 2
  • Source 3L water bladder

And Here we Go

This is a much different experience than the Appleseed I did a couple years back. I look forward to reporting back with an AAR.

General

“It’s a Start.” Or, Why I’m Over this Conversation

I’ve debating gun control for a long time. For the sake of my relationships with friends and family, I backed off after Sandy Hook. Rather than aggressively arguing any and all pro-gun control subjects, I settled for pointing out anti-gun propaganda put out by the disarmament faction. I try to maintain a neutral and informed voice, avoiding confrontation tone as much as possible.

I did this in an effort to mend the chasm. I wanted to find common ground. I wanted to win people over to our side by showing logic, compassion, and fair-mindedness. Hell, I wrote several posts on this blog pleading for the people of the gun to consider our culture, along with its symbols and images. I really wanted to believe that all we had was a failure to communicate.

I’m over it.

There are three words frequently used by gun-control advocates that boil my blood:

“It’s a start.”

We can go back and forth hammering out details of a real compromise, and they will close with those words, “It’s a start.”

I will lurk on their message boards and see one of them advocate for some obscene overreach, and yet someone else will still chime in with, “Well..it’s a start.”

It’s a start…to what end?

To any gun control advocates that happen to find this post because it gets shared with you, and I sincerely hope it does: This is why we, the people of the gun, appear so obstinate to any new restrictions. To us, “It’s a start” has been muttered after every major gun control law since 1934. Every time the phrase leaves your lips, it is as if you have no recollection of what you’ve already taken away.

In fact, it seems to be the party line, right out of the Gun Control Messaging Playbook. I can’t count the number of times some gun control advocate has told me that guns are practically unregulated. When it happens, I can’t help but stare at them in shock, trying to figure out if they actually believe what they are saying, are that ignorant, or they are just trying to get a rise out of me. It’s probably all three. After Las Vegas, I had a practicing lawyer Facebook advocate for a law that prohibited felons from owning firearms. When I pointed out to him that it was already the law, and provided the relevant US Code references, he deleted his post.

Whenever “It’s a start” is said, it always means that there is more to be done.

This is why we don’t trust you.

With your staunch cries to “Do something,” all the while being totally ignorant of what has already been done, the logical conclusion of “It’s a start” is the complete elimination of private firearms ownership.

For now, I’ll avoid analyzing the mental gymnastics that must be required for the same group of people to advocate that the government “protector class” be given a monopoly on the tools of violence, yet on the other hand, can’t help but call that same group a bunch of racist, power-tripping, jack-booted thugs.

The bumpfire stock discussion, and suppressors for that matter, is a distraction. It’s chum thrown out for the media sharks and social media mavens to circle around. It’s meant to whip the base into a frenzy of hating the intransigent NRA, and silly gun owners who want “weapons of war.”

.  .  .

On a side note, as someone who was actually responsible for launching nuclear weapons on presidential order and is very familiar with what those effects would look like, uttering the words “Weapon of Mass Destruction” in the context of an AR-15 makes you look like a blithering fool. I just thought you should know that.

.  .  .

Back on topic.

For all the talk of only wanting “sensible gun safety,” I’ve never seen a law that the disarmament crowd didn’t like. There has never been a gun control law that was just a bridge too far. The only limitation has been political expediency. Since the public doesn’t generally agree with wholesale banning of firearms, the disarmament advocates are forced to do it one inch at a time. This time it’s bumpfire stocks. Next time it’s high-capacity magazines (whatever the hell that means). After that it will be aftermarket triggers. And then auto-loading weapons. Then it will be sniper rifles. So on and so on…

“That will never happen!,” they say, “You’re just being paranoid!”

It will happen. It has happened. This is exactly the pattern that has played out in gun-control havens like California, New York, New Jersey, and even some newly-blue states like Colorado.

Every news event, every tragedy, is taken as an opportunity to take one more inch. All the while ignoring what has already been done.

Compromise…you’re doing it wrong

Gun control fans, do you know how we know you’re full of it when it comes to “common sense” gun reforms? It’s because you have no concept of what compromise is supposed to be. In all the debates I’ve had for over a decade, and there are a lot of them, do you know how many gun control advocates actually understood compromise?

Zero.

I always make it a point to ask, “If we agree to this, what do we get in return?” Sometimes the answer is a simple blank stare. At best, it’s been, “You get to feel better about making the country safer!” At worst, it’s been, “You get to keep what you have.”

At no point, in any debate I’ve ever had, has the gun control advocate been willing to roll back some other regulation. Even the ones that have proven ineffective at anything they were designed to do other than inconvenience gun owners.

Compromise is not an armed robbery where the victim is told, “You’re money or your life” and gets no other say in the matter. Compromise means both sides get something they want, but not everything.

Look at the stink over suppressors. If they were serious, the gun control crowd could have offered up passing the SHARE act in exchange for supporting a ban on full auto NFA “workarounds.” But they did not, and they will not. Just as the people of the gun refuse to give up one more inch of what they have left, the gun controllers will not give up inch of what they have gained. Pretending that they haven’t gained anything is just disingenuous.

The end goal

Gun control fans, do you know why people like me continue to use statistics about cars, alcohol, knives, medical malpractice, and all the other ways people can die when discussing gun control?

It’s because we are under the mistaken impression that the conversation is about saving lives. Most of us sincerely want to find ways to reduce death and suffering. To us, it makes sense to put resources and attention where they would have the largest impact. This is why we separate suicides from homicides. Even more, it’s why we separate run-of-the-mill gangland homicide from black-swan events like Las Vegas. Each of these has different root causes, with different courses of action, and we want to help fix it where we can while respecting our natural rights to self defense.

Out mistake, really. We didn’t realize that you were really just wanting to get rid of guns. Got it. Check. Not one more inch.

If you really wanted to solve the problem with deaths, we would all be considering wider sociocultural solutions rather than just focusing on the hardware. But that’s not the discussion. Instead, you try to enact sweeping bans of things that would make no difference to 99% of the total death count per year. If you can’t get that, then you try to enact little regulations and delays that do nothing except annoy the people who are desperately trying to stay within the law and were not inclined to commit violence anyway. The people you are trying to stop? They don’t follow the laws anyway, and if they ever get caught, the firearms charge for your new pet law is the first to get plea-dealt away.

I used to sincerely try and find a good compromise position that worked for everyone. I’ve even taken a lot of flak for my ideas in the past. I’ve been accused of not being a “pure enough” 2A supporter because I was willing to talk.

Well, I’m not anymore. The other day, I was listening to NPR on the way home from work. What I heard summed up it up pretty well for me:

You can only try and make us feel so guilty for being white, male, straight, cisgendered(?), liberty-minded, gun owners before we say, “Well…screw it.”

In the end, the truth is this: you are losing.

The country is embracing more and more individual liberty, from gay marriage to recreational drug use. This isn’t about conservative and liberal values, it’s about a cultural shift towards individual freedom. You don’t get to pick and choose what those freedoms are just because you don’t like them.

People feel something in the air, even if they don’t put words to it. There is a sense that something is wrong. There is a very real sense that the very institutions designed to protect us are failing. We see the 24 hours news from places like Puerto Rico, and we can’t help but wonder, “What if I was in that situation? How would I protect my family?

People are waking up, and your message is getting weak.

 

General

Upcoming Events

I realize posting has been more sparse usual. Life has a way of throwing curve balls, and sometimes we just need to prioritize.

That said, there are a couple things happening in the next couple months:

1. I am attending a four day training course in October. While my experience has primarily focused on marksmanship, this course will provide some broader context to the application of that skill. It will also help validate some of the gear decisions I’ve made in the last year or so. I look forward to writing about it.

2. I completed my application for a concealed carry permit, and expect to have it soon. With that, I have to start seriously looking at how I am going to carry a weapon. Thus far, all of my methods of carry have been in the open. Concealed carry is a new ballgame that requires a different approach. I will write about that journey as well.

In other news, I’ve followed the aftermath of the natural disasters in the last few months. I’ve noticed a significant drop in the anti-gun rhetoric I’m hearing in the public square. It’s almost as if significant swathes of the population realized that sometimes the only person you can rely on is yourself, and having an effective means to protect yourself might not be a bad idea.

General

A Reason to Carry

As much as I enjoy the shooting sports, I’ve never held a concealed carry permit. When I lived in Montana, I was not technically a resident of the state, so I was not eligible to apply.

When I lived in California, well….California.

To be honest, I’ve never really been put in a situation where I thought it was necessary. Open carrying in Montana was no big deal when out hiking, and the small towns aren’t exactly hot beds of violent crime. California pretty much banned everything, so why bother?

Since moving to Virginia recently, I’ve been thinking about applying. Recent events may move that timetable up.

The Moment Chooses You

Most of us are affected by a form of normalcy bias. Because things have generally been okay, we assume that they will continue to be so. Until they are not. Those of us who have been “woke” to the facts of this keep our heads on swivels. We keep track of our surroundings and are on constant search for possible threats. That’s not to say we are paranoid or live in fear. We are just…aware.

Higher population density areas bring a greater probability of interacting with troubled people. While out on a family walk around the multipurpose trails today, an individual was approaching from behind us. With two adults, a dog, and a toddler in a stroller, we aren’t exactly low profile when walking around the trails. He didn’t appear threatening at all, so we acknowledged his presence and moved to let him pass.

He stared at me intently and asked, “Are you the devil?”

My presumption was that he was joking because I was having my wife do exercises on the walk (she was actually rucking for fitness), I was wearing a red shirt, and a multicam hat. I smirked and said, “Yep.”

Apparently, he wasn’t joking. As he passed me, he snarled, “I am the light!”

He must have sensed my confusion at the statement, and continued to become more aggressive. He muttered comments about his duty to destroy evil, and got louder and louder. At this point, the alarm bells in my head were tripped. My posture stiffened, I shifted weight to the balls of my feet, I began further evaluating him for a fight.

Six feet tall, overweight, probably a low level of fitness, but still outweighing me by at least fifty pounds. If he had crazy on his side, he would not likely hold back or be easily deterred. I made sure to stay between him and my family, and prepared myself for conflict.

Luckily, he kept walking down the path. He would periodically stop, turn around, shout more, and square up. But, overall, he kept walking away.

My wife and I decided to change directions and not continue the way we were heading (which is where he went). We circled back up the path and went home a different way.

While I’m glad that nothing ultimately happened, I find myself frustrated that I was left with so few options. Probability is on my side that I would have prevailed in a conflict given my higher level of fitness and moderate abilities in hand to hand fighting, there is no way to be sure.

Sometimes it takes a moment like this to remind us that the moment chooses us, and we really are responsible for our own safety when it does.