Category Archives: Tactics & Training

Ultimate Reloader: Gavin’s First PRS Match

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Ultimate reloader first precision rifle series
Gavin goes prone!

Gavin’s First PRS Match: The Experience

By: Ultimate Reloader

For a long time I’ve talked with friends about trying out a PRS-style match. Life has been busy, but when the right opportunity came, I decided to give it a try. My friend and shooting partner Jim Findlay offered to help me prepare, and told me it would be “fun to shoot gas guns together”. I decided I would shoot an AR-15, and thought that would be an ideal opportunity to try something new: the 22 Nosler. I wasn’t sure exactly what I was getting myself into, but that’s typically the way things happen when you’re really trying something new. It was a great experience, and it taught me a lot about shooting. I also made some great connections and friends during the match. If you are at all interested in PRS (Precision Rifle Series, or just Precision Rifle in general) I would suggest you enter and compete in a match. You most likely won’t regret it.

In this post, I’ll talk about preparing for the match, and the experience of competing in the match. In a follow-up post, I’ll go into more detail on the gear we used, and some of the gear we’d like to try in the future. So stay tuned for that!

Preparing For the Match

There were a few things to take care of before I started practicing with Jim in earnest for the match. I decided on the rifle platform I’d be shooting: it would be the AR-MPR AR-15 rifle, but with a 22 Nosler Upper. While I was waiting for the upper and components to arrive, I started practicing with 5.56 ammunition that I thought would be close to what I’d be shooting with 22 Nosler. I signed up for the match and paid my entry fee, and then downloaded the Practiscore Match App.

Practiscore is great, because you can read about each of the stages in order to prepare for each activity within the match. Here’s an example from the match I participated in:

After reading up on the match, it was time to create a game plan with Jim, and start practicing!

Practicing For the Match

Jim and I spent quite a few range trips preparing for the match, and I did quite a bit of practice up at my place, the “Ultimate Reloader Outpost”. First up was to sort out our gear, and get on target- we started at 600 yards. As I mentioned, this initial practice was performed with a .223/5.56 AR-15 configuration. With distances going out to 700 yards on match day, I chose to load 77 grain bullets for practice in 5.56 cases. At our 600 yard practice distance, these rounds did fine, but I wasn’t as confident about going out to 700 yards as they were getting into the trans-sonic zone.

Enter the 22 Nosler. The added velocity provided by this new cartridge combined with the extreme performance of the 70 grain Nosler RDF bullets I decided to use were a great combination. Here are the first shots I fired at 600 yards after the 100 yard sight-in and testing (see bottom group on target). The first round fired at 600 yards was on-target thanks to the G7 BC supplied by Nosler and Shooter App dope I had calculated. That’s a great feeling!

During our practice sessions, Jim and I focused on prone shooting, barricade shooting, and even shooting at a moving target at almost 600 yards. It was a lot of fun, but 90 seconds (the allowed time for each stage) was proving to go *very* quickly. Would I be ready on range day? I couldn’t wait to find out. Here we have Jim (far) and myself (near) shooting at 400 yards in preparation for one of the stages:

Match Day

On match day, I was fortunate to have friends Eric Peterson and Carl Skerlong running the camera and drone respectively. That meant I could focus on the shooting stages, and final preparations. I had printed out the courses of fire, had printed a dope card and zip tied it to my rifle, had dialed in the shooter app, and had all of my gear ready to go.

Overall, the match was more fun and more laid back than I thought it would be. The guys in our squad were all really helpful, and even loaned me gear to try out when they noticed my gear wasn’t right for a particular shooting activity. One such case was when Ken Gustafson (of KYL Gear) offered to loan me one of the bags he had made. Below you can see me shooting off the infamous unstable tippy tank trap with a KYL Gear bag, and I’ll have to say- it was amazing. It helped me lock down my rifle and get on target. What a great feeling!

I did run into some trouble- I had loaded my 22 Nosler rounds to max charge weight with Varget powder and experienced some failure to feed issues during the match. Initially I thought my bolt needed more lubrication, but after the match I discovered pressure signs on the rounds I had fired to investigate what went wrong. While I didn’t have malfunctions in practice, the match day was between 96 F and 100 F at the hottest part of the day- the same time I experienced issues. I was over pressure! I switched to a slower powder after that discovery (H-380) and found 22 Nosler to run perfectly (and at higher velocity), even in similar temperatures. I learned that you have to test everything you plan to use on match day, and take into account things like weather conditions as well. I also had my bipod fly off the rifle while shooting off a barricade- but continued with the stage and did alright. Even with these challenges, I kept on “giving it my best”, and I still had a ton of fun.

Summary

PRS is all about pushing your rifle skills to edge. You may have to hit targets at four different distances in 90 seconds- and dial in your dope between each shot. These kinds of challenges are super-difficult, but with enough experience and practice, it’s amazing what you can do. I saw guys that were so smooth, steady, fast, and accurate, it was mind blowing! It doesn’t come easy, and the guys at the top of the heap are super-dedicated. One such guy named Sheldon Nalos (in my squad) told me about how he dry fired off scale replicas he made of the T-Post Fox Hunt stage- practicing again and again until he was confident he was ready.

I don’t have the goal to be at the top of the heap within the PRS community, but I do think I’ll compete in more matches- they are super fun to experience, and the friends you’ll make may just last a lifetime. If you have any thoughts of trying PRS, I say “do it”! Stay tuned, because in my next post, I’ll talk about the PRS gear I used (and wanted) and then after that it’s time to go deep into 22 Nosler.

Thanks,
Gavin

Can The Government Confiscate My Firearms During a Disaster?

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firearms confiscation

During the recent disaster wrought by Hurricane Harvey in Texas and the impending landfall in Florida of Hurricane Irma, many of our members have been asking if the government can confiscate their firearms if the Governor or Federal Government declare a state of emergency.

Following the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the New Orleans police went door to door seeking people who rode out the storm in their homes to force them to comply with the forced evacuation ordered by the government. As part of the effort, the officers were also confiscating firearms.

This created an outrage among the law-abiding gun owners of the country and resulted in the passage of state and federal laws to prevent such confiscations from occurring in the future.

In 2006, Congress passed the DISASTER RECOVERY PERSONAL PROTECTION ACT OF 2006. The law was intended to prevent the government from seizing legally owned firearms during the time of a disaster. It was incorporated as an amendment to the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act 2007 and signed into law on October 4, 2006.

CAN THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT CONFISCATE MY FIREARMS?

This law amended 42 U.S.C 5201 Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act to add the following provision:

SEC. 706. FIREARMS POLICIES.

(a) PROHIBITION ON CONFISCATION OF FIREARMS- No officer or employee of the United States (including any member of the uniformed services), or person operating pursuant to or under color of Federal law, or receiving Federal funds, or under control of any Federal official, or providing services to such an officer, employee, or other person, while acting in support of relief from a major disaster or emergency, may–

(1) temporarily or permanently seize, or authorize seizure of, any firearm the possession of which is not prohibited under Federal, State, or local law, other than for forfeiture in compliance with Federal law or as evidence in a criminal investigation;

(2) require registration of any firearm for which registration is not required by Federal, State, or local law;

(3) prohibit possession of any firearm, or promulgate any rule, regulation, or order prohibiting possession of any firearm, in any place or by any person where such possession is not otherwise prohibited by Federal, State, or local law; or

(4) prohibit the carrying of firearms by any person otherwise authorized to carry firearms under Federal, State, or local law, solely because such person is operating under the direction, control, or supervision of a Federal agency in support of relief from the major disaster or emergency.

(b) LIMITATION- Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit any person in subsection (a) from requiring the temporary surrender of a firearm as a condition for entry into any mode of transportation used for rescue or evacuation during a major disaster or emergency, provided that such temporarily surrendered firearm is returned at the completion of such rescue or evacuation.

Following the lead of the federal government, most state legislatures adopted their own version of this law.

TEXAS LAW ON FIREARMS CONFISCATION

In Texas, Government Code Chapter 418 (EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT) permits the Governor to declare a State of Disaster which suspends certain state laws and regulations to allow local authorities to conduct rescue and recovery operations.

However, it does not allow for the seizure of any legally owned firearms, with limited exception.

Specifically,

Sec. 418.003.  LIMITATIONS.  This chapter does not:

(5)  except as provided by Section 418.184, authorize the seizure or confiscation of any firearm or ammunition from an individual who is lawfully carrying or possessing the firearm or ammunition;

Sec. 418.184.  FIREARMS.

(a)  A peace officer who is acting in the lawful execution of the officer’s official duties during a state of disaster may disarm an individual if the officer reasonably believes it is immediately necessary for the protection of the officer or another individual.

(b)  The peace officer shall return a firearm and any ammunition to an individual disarmed under Subsection (a) before ceasing to detain the individual unless the officer:

(1)  arrests the individual for engaging in criminal activity; or

(2)  seizes the firearm as evidence in a criminal investigation.

To read Governor Abbott’s actual declaration, click here.

FLORIDA LAW ON FIREARMS CONFISCATION   

Article IV, Section 1(a) of the Florida Constitution permits the Governor to issue an Executive Order to declare a State of Emergency in times of a natural disaster, allowing him to enact provisions of the State’s Emergency Management Plan.

For Hurricane Irma, the Executive Order provides specific provisions regarding the activities permissible to state and local officials during the emergency, as provided for in  Florida Statutes beginning with Chapter 252.31  “State Emergency Management Act.”

In part, the Executive Order states:

Section 2. I designate the Director of the Division of Emergency Management as the State Coordinating Officer for the duration of this emergency and direct him to execute the State’s Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan and other response, recover, and mitigation plans necessary to cope with the emergency. Pursuant to section 252.36(1)(a), Florida Statutes, I delegate to the State Coordinating Officer the authority to exercise those powers delineated in sections 252.36(5)-(10), Florida Statutes, which he shall exercise as needed to meet this emergency, subject to the limitations of section 252.33, Florida Statutes.

But those powers have certain limitations with regards to firearms. In particular,

Chapter 252.36(5)(h) states the Governor may:

(h) Suspend or limit the sale, dispensing, or transportation of alcoholic beverages, firearms, explosives, and combustibles. However, nothing contained in ss. 252.31-252.90 shall be construed to authorize the seizure, taking, or confiscation of firearms that are lawfully possessed, unless a person is engaged in the commission of a criminal act.

FINAL WORD

So, there you have it. During our times of disaster, we can all focus on recovery and not have to worry about the authorities coming along and confiscating our firearms. The Second Amendment survives disasters.

Surprising Hurricane Harvey Heroes

 

[Addendum: Due inquiries from Members, this story was updated on Sept. 7.]

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS CONFISCATING FIREARMS

On Tuesday, the island’s Governor ordered the National Guard to confiscate weapons and ammo that may be required for them to carry out their mission.  What that specifically means is unclear. Also, the U.S. Virgin Islands IS NOT governed by the U.S. Constitution, but instead by the “Revised Organic Act of the Virgin Islands,” a federal law approved by Congress in 1954. The island does not have its own constitution yet.

The NRA has threatened to file a lawsuit, and here is their take:

In 1997, the chairman of the House Committee on Resources asked the General Accounting Office (GAO) to clarify just how the U.S. Constitutional applies to various “U.S. Insular Areas,” including the U.S. Virgin Islands. Its findings were inconclusive and unsettling, especially to those now living under Governor Mapp’s orders. Said the report:

Under the Insular Cases and subsequent decisions, rights other than fundamental rights, even though they may be stated in the Constitution, do not apply to the territories or possessions unless the Congress makes them applicable by legislation. The Congress can by law extend the coverage of the Constitution in part or in its entirety to a territory or possession, and has done so with respect to some territories. In the absence of such congressional action, however, only fundamental rights apply.

Digging further, one finds that only parts of the Fifth Amendment are considered to be “fundamental” based on court rulings, and none of the Sixth Amendment applies. And nothing is said in the 75-page report about the Second.

If the NRA does sue and their position is sustained by the courts that people living on the island are U.S. Citizens with full protection of the U.S. Constitution, the issue will be settled. If not, or no suit is filed, those living on the island will be subjected to having their weapons confiscated by the National Guard.

Optics Terms Defined: Magnification and Objective Lens

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When it comes to optics for firearms, the specific terms that people use to describe them can be confusing. Here’s what all that argot actually means…

optics array

by NRA Staff
SOURCE: NRAFamily

Magnification
The magnification, or power, of a riflescope is expressed as a number corresponding to the size of an object viewed at a specified distance through the scope, relative to its size as seen with the naked eye. Put another way, an object 100 yards distant viewed through a 10X scope will appear to be the same size as if it were viewed with the naked eye from 10 yards away. Different scope magnifications are used for specific shooting activities.

High-magnification riflescopes from 15X to 50X with objective lens diameters of 40-50mm or more with adjustable objective-lens systems are popular for various types of centerfire rifle competitions such as benchrest and F-Class.

Varmint shooters normally prefer a scope with magnification levels of 12X to 24X and adjustable objective lens diameters of 44-50mm for their precision work.

Long-range big-game hunting demands a scope with an adjustable objective lens system of approximately 40mm diameter with power levels up to 15X that enable the hunter to judge game and wind conditions at extreme distances.

At dawn, dusk or during poor light conditions, scopes with large objective lenses of 50mm and above that gather all existing light are preferable, with powers between 6X and 12X. Illuminated reticles are a popular option on these scopes.

Low-power scopes of 1.1X to 4X with a wide field of view and fixed objective are well-suited for hunting in woods or brush at close range.

For general-purpose hunting, most sportsmen are well served by a 3-9X-40mm variable scope with fixed objective, which is a good compromise between a wide field of view for close shots (at 3X) and added magnification (at 9X) for distant shots.

As magnification levels increase, the field of view decreases, which makes target acquisition increasingly difficult. Increasing magnification also magnifies movement, making the reticle appear less steady and thus hampering the ability of many shooters to hold their point of aim. These factors conspire to make most scopes over 8X very difficult to use without a solid rest. When shooting from a rest on a bench, a narrow field of view and high magnification are less of a problem.

Objective Lens
The objective lens is the light-gathering lens at the front of the scope. The larger the diameter of the objective lens, the more light will be admitted into the scope. This results in a larger exit pupil with a brighter image.

Most riflescopes have objective lens diameters from 32mm to 44mm. These provide a good balance between light-gathering capability, cost and image quality. Such riflescopes are relatively lightweight and easy to mount on most rifles. For many hunting applications, such riflescopes are an excellent choice.

For hunting at dusk, dawn or in very low light conditions, the increased light-gathering capability of a larger objective lens may be a better choice. For such conditions, most scope manufacturers offer models with 50mm to 56mm objective lenses. However, there is a penalty to be paid for th is increased performance in the form of substantially increased weight, higher cost and difficulty in mounting a scope with such a large objective.

Varmint hunters and some target shooters prefer riflescopes with large 50mm or greater objective lenses for a different reason. They want a higher-power scope of 12X or more with a clear, crisp, flat image with excellent contrast and an adjustable objective to remove parallax. The image quality reduces eyestrain and enables them to clearly see small targets at long ranges and to judge wind and mirage precisely. They also spend considerable time looking through the scope with the rifle held on a solid rest, so unsteadiness from high magnification and a narrow field of view is less important.

4 Weird Things People Ask Women Who Carry Guns (and How to Answer)

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Prepare yourself for a good chuckle, but, really, it’s not “ha-ha” funny… There are a lot of misconceptions many have about CCW, and seemily especially so for women who chose it. Keep reading!

confused woman

SOURCE: NRAFamily, by Wendy LaFever

If you’re a woman who chooses to carry concealed, chances are quite good that sooner or later someone will question you about your decision. Most of the time, anyone with whom you’re close enough to have shared that information will be respectful towards you, but let’s face it: There’s a lot of misinformation out there about guns, gun owners, the laws about armed self-defense and carrying concealed. We responsible gun owners are usually facing an uphill battle trying to gently and respectfully correct those misperceptions.

For some reason, the conversation tends to be even more difficult when the subject is a woman who carries a firearm for self-defense. The reasons why are both beyond the scope of this article and this writer’s qualifications — although a tentative guess might be cultural expectations of women as nurturers — but it’s a fact that the questions directed at women who carry concealed tend to be a bit more pointed, shall we say, than those directed at men. It can be frustrating. That said, it remains important that we serve as good ambassadors for our beliefs, and that we do our best to be respectful towards people who (however clumsily) are at least trying to understand. One key to success is to keep your initial reaction on the inside…and have some polite replies ready to go. Here’s what that might look like…

Weird Question #1: “Aren’t you scared the gun will go off?”
Snarky reaction that you keep inside your head: “No.”
Actual reply:
“Firearms don’t really work that way. The only way to get my gun to discharge is to grip it securely in both hands, releasing the grip safety, then to deliberately squeeze the trigger. It’s not something that can happen on its own, or if the gun gets jostled or dropped.”
(Of course, different kinds of guns have different safety mechanisms, from passive to active, or both, so you’ll want to tailor your response. Just keep it simple and try to avoid using specific firearms terms that people unfamiliar with guns may not know.)

Weird Question #2: “Aren’t you worried the ‘bad guy’ will just take the gun away from you and use it against you?”
Snarky reaction that you keep inside your head: “No.”
Actual reply:
“The only reason I would ever even let the ‘bad guy’ know I had a gun is if my life were already in immediate danger. It’s an absolute last resort. What’s more, I’ve undergone extensive training to learn how to draw the gun from concealment and fire it quickly and accurately to stop the threat.”
(Of course, you have had the training, right?)

Weird Question #3: “Can’t you just carry pepper spray / get a whistle / learn martial arts?”
Snarky reaction that you keep inside your head: “No.”
Actual reply:
“Some people do choose ‘less lethal’ methods of self-defense, and that’s entirely up to them. The problem is that they’re generally not as effective at stopping a person who is determined to harm or kill. Even martial-arts experts can be overpowered physically by someone who takes them by surprise or is much bigger and stronger. Whistles won’t help unless there’s someone around to hear it…and they’re willing to intervene. Finally, although pepper spray can be quite incapacitating, it doesn’t work the same way on everyone. Some aggressors who are intoxicated or just very determined are able to power through it. It’s not a risk I choose to take.”
(Of course, “less lethal” self-defense tools can certainly be a part of your overall strategy, depending on your circumstances!)

Weird Question #4: “So…can I see it?”
Snarky reaction that you keep inside your head: “No.”
Actual reply:
“No. It’s irresponsible and, in some areas, illegal for me to display my concealed-carry firearm in public unless I am actively using it to lawfully defend myself. But if you’d like to go to the range with me and let me teach you the rules of gun safety, not only will I let you see it, I’ll let you shoot it.”

What weird gun questions have you been asked? How did you handle it? Tell us in the comments!

SKILLS: Sheriff’s Tips: What’s Your Stance?

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Sheriff Jim Wilson shares some recollections and history on development of the pistol shooting stance, and, most importantly, puts it all into perspective for today’s modern world. Keep reading…

by Jim Wilson
Source: NRA American Rifleman
Images courtesy Gunsite.com

The first experience that I had with a two-handed shooting stance was the isosceles stance as taught by the FBI at our police academy. The shooter stood erect and shot with both arms extended and elbows locked. This was also the same stance that we used in department qualifications and PPC matches.

Jim Wilson

This stance worked pretty well as long as we were firing .38 Spl. wadcutter ammo out of our revolvers. Where it got weak was when we were trying to make multiple hits with .357 Mag. ammo, or even .38 Spl. +P. We simply could not do a good job of managing the extra recoil of the fighting ammunition.

Isosceles stance
Isosceles Stance.

It was this same need to manage recoil when firing more than one shot that caused Jack Weaver, a California peace officer, to develop a slightly different technique. Weaver bent his elbows and made sure that his support elbow was pointed down towards the ground. He also exerted an isometric hold on the pistol, pushing forward with his shooting hand and pulling back with his support hand. Using this technique, Weaver’s arms absorbed most of the recoil and made the gun more manageable under rapid fire. Col. Jeff Cooper quickly noticed that Weaver’s technique was helping him to win quite a few matches and incorporated it into the Modern Technique of the Pistol.

Weaver Stance
Weaver Stance.

For quite some time, a healthy argument ensued as to which technique was really the best to use in actual gunfights. The Weaver camp often suggested that the Isosceles was best used in target shooting, while the Isosceles crowd quickly pointed to the number of actual gunfights won by people using the Isosceles method. As it turns out, what the arms are doing may not be nearly as important as what the rest of the body is doing.

The defensive shooter should use an athletic body position. He should be squared to his target. The feet should be about shoulder width apart, with the support foot just slightly ahead of the strong-side foot. By that I mean that the ball of the support foot should be about even with the tip of the toes on the strong-side foot. The knees should be slightly bent and the shooter’s weight should be on the balls of his feet. The shoulders should be slightly forward of the feet.

In this kind of position, the shooter can manage the pistol’s recoil better. And it also puts the shooter in a good physical stance that allows him to move quickly in just about any direction. And, depending upon body size, the shooter may adjust this position a bit in order to be most effective.

Whether one shoots with both arms straight or arms bent, he or she can exert a firm grip on his pistol and somewhat of an isometric, push-pull, hold. The key is to be in an aggressive, athletic body stance without getting into a crouch. As Richard Mann puts it, “Do it like you are killing snakes!” A firm stance and a firm grip are what is needed to manage recoil and allow for multiple, accurate hits.

Many of us older shooters well remember the magazine articles by Col. Cooper and Massad Ayoob as they argued back and forth on the merits of the Weaver vs. the Isosceles. I am told that, later in life, Col. Cooper made the statement that he wished he hadn’t made such as issue of the two stances. Whichever one a person chooses to use, his success will be noted in his ability to deliver quick, accurate shots with full-power defensive ammunition.

It may even be that a good defensive shooter should be well versed in both techniques. Depending upon the available cover, whether he is shooting over or around something, and the angle in which he may have to deliver his shots (we can’t always plant our feet and assume a classic stance when under a surprise attack) one or the other technique might work best.

I have come to the conclusion that arguing the Weaver vs. the Isosceles is about as productive as arguing .45 vs. 9 mm. I have better ways to spend my time and the guys who want to argue these issues might spend their time more productively in good training and practice.

5 Self-Defense Tips For College Women

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A young woman’s first year of college marks a dramatic lifestyle change for most. Here are some pointers on ensuring “victim” isn’t one of them…

college freshman

by Wendy LaFever
Source: NRAFamily.org

If you’re like the vast majority of young women, chances are your first year of college also represents the first time you’ve lived on your own for any length of time. It’s an exhilarating time, when everything is alive with possibility.

Unfortunately, one of those possibilities is becoming the focus of a criminal’s attention. Predators know that very young women lack the life experience to fully evaluate risk, which means that they tend to be too trusting. Campus life adds a few other wrinkles to one’s self-defense strategy, as well. New students frequently don’t have the option to choose where they’ll live or with whom; parking is usually assigned and underclassmen tend to get the least desirable spots; the possession of self-defense tools is frequently prohibited on campus. This article won’t address the wisdom or rightness (or lack thereof) of any of those “wrinkles.” Rather, we’ll focus on what you, specifically, can do to help shore up your own safety right now given the situation that exists.

ONE: Lock your car doors.
Did you just roll your eyes reading that? We can’t blame you if you did, but the fact is that many of the folks who prey on college students aren’t terribly sophisticated. In fact, many of them are college students themselves. The most commonly reported crimes on campus are burglary and car theft…and for many thieves, their targets are targets of opportunity. The unlocked car parked far away from the dorms is fruit hanging so low it might as well be a potato. Can a determined crook break into a locked vehicle? Sure they can—but why make it easy, quiet and safe for them by leaving your car unlocked? You can also cut your risk by remembering to stow or take with you any items that are portable and valuable, such as electronics or textbooks.

TWO: Lock your dorm entry points and insist your friends do the same.
At my alma mater, we had what was (at the time, anyway) state-of-the-art security doors for entry to the dorms as well as for each individual floor. Not that it mattered; the students pretty much never let them close. They — we –would chock them open at every opportunity so that we wouldn’t have to remember our student ID keycards, and so our friends could come and go freely. Most students didn’t bother locking their room doors, either. And then we’d all be shocked and angry when somebody’s computer or TV walked off. The problem is one of perception: Many young people judge the intentions of others based on their own intentions. You wouldn’t wander into an empty room and walk out with someone’s possessions, so it’s hard to imagine someone among your friends and neighbors would do such a thing…but they might. So could an outsider who doesn’t attend your college but just knows his or her way around. What’s more, theft is not the only possible consequence of subverting the security your campus has in place…the third most commonly reported crime on campus is sexual assault.

THREE: Got an image of a “criminal” in your head? Lose it.
In The Addams Family movie, young Wednesday Addams is asked why she isn’t dressed up for Halloween. “I’m a homicidal maniac,” she deadpans. “They look just like everyone else.” The line is played for laughs, but that doesn’t make it any less true. Not only aren’t criminals generally considerate enough to wear a badge identifying them as such, it’s also a sad fact that you are most likely to be victimized by someone you know. That doesn’t mean that you can’t develop a knack for spotting people who might be a problem; you absolutely can. But what you have to look for are suspicious behaviors and attitudes. Pay particular attention to people who discount or ignore your boundaries, people who try to guilt or shame you into doing things you don’t want to do, and particularly people who try to put you into positions of vulnerability.

FOUR: Party smarter, not harder.
Speaking of “positions of vulnerability,” the time when you are arguably at your most vulnerable is when you are under the influence. Although the absolute best advice is to never be under the influence, better people than I have failed at convincing young adults to follow it. So if you must party, do it smarter, not harder. One way to do this is to take refuge in the safety offered by numbers. Go out in groups, and go out with a plan. Determine ahead of time where you’ll go, when you’ll plan on leaving and where you’ll meet up. Arrange for safe transportation ahead of time, so nobody is stuck looking for a ride at the end of the night. Designate one woman in the group to be what we used to call the “mama hen.” Her job is to remain sober, to ensure that nobody gets left behind, and to be the voice of reason when anyone in the group gets any of those oh-so-terrific ideas that occasionally bubble up when folks are downing drink. Speaking of drinks, don’t leave yours unattended…even if it’s just for a minute. It takes seconds to furtively slip something into a person’s unattended beverage…and when everyone’s imbibing, it’s even easier to do so unnoticed.

FIVE: Recognize that there are worse things than being “rude.”
For better or for worse, young women are socialized to be polite. The “worse” part of that “better or for worse” equation is that many of us find it difficult to clearly enforce our boundaries for fear of being seen as rude. It’s even harder to do that when you’re doing your best to fit in with a whole new social circle; nobody, regardless of their age or gender, wants to gain a reputation for being boring, unpleasant or a stick-in-the-mud. That said, the worst thing you can do by being “rude” to someone who is making you uncomfortable is that you accidentally hurt the feelings of an innocent person. The good news is that innocent people who genuinely have your safety and comfort at heart will not only back off immediately, they’ll accept your apology later if you turn out to have been wrong.

As for what to do about the people who will take your wet clothing out of the dorm’s dryers and dump it on the floor the second you turn your back (and they will, just you wait and see)? Can’t help you there — but if you have any suggestions, the comment section is right below…

Can I Legally Shoot Someone If I’m Defending a Statue?

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Grant cavalry statue

 

A viral social-media post is suggesting that it may be okay to shoot someone to defend a statue. Our Independent Program Attorneys beg to differ.

Here is U.S. & Texas LawShield® Independent Attorney Edwin Walker’s response:

defend statue
Independent Program Attorney Edwin Walker

Texas LawShield recently became aware of a viral Facebook post telling people they can shoot someone vandalizing a statute.

Based on recent events, we understand the importance of knowing whether or not this is valid legal information.

It appears this viral story started as a blog post that reported on one individual’s opinion on the use of force and/or deadly force to protect public property.

The position advocated by the Facebook post cited in the blog is not a very good idea.

The defense of property justifications (TPC 9.41, 9.42, and 9.43) are all based upon the finding that the person’s conduct was based upon a “reasonable belief” that the use of force is “immediately necessary” to prevent the harm to property.

With regard to deadly force, it can only be used if the person “reasonably believes that … the land or property cannot be protected or recovered by ANY other means.”

This presents a lot of room for a jury to find that someone was unreasonable in using force or deadly force to defend against an act of criminal mischief.

Further, deadly force can never be used in response to the crime of criminal mischief in the daytime.

Many people who have commented on this post have posed a “…but what if they come at me…” scenario.

It is true that the circumstances that allow for the use of force and/or deadly force can change instantly. If a person is simply trying to stop a vandal by shouting at him or calling the police, and as a result the vandal attempts to attack the person, then the person being attacked would be justified in using force and may even escalate to deadly force to defend themselves if they have a reasonable belief that they are going to be murdered.

However, if a person were to physically intervene to stop a vandal (any offensive, unwanted, or injurious touching is an assault) and then were to be physically assaulted themselves, the issue that a jury would have to decide is whether or not the person had disqualified themselves from claiming self-defense because of their initial “assault” on the vandal.

Needless to say, this is a very complex issue and should not have been addressed by anyone in a cavalier manner.

It is unfortunate that civilized behavior in our society has devolved to such a state that it is even necessary to consider these issues.

 

To learn more, we invite Members and guests to attend seminars and workshops presented by experienced attorneys as they discuss laws regarding the legal use of force and legal use of deadly force. To stay on the right side of the law, it is critical you stay current on any legal changes. Don’t miss this opportunity. Click Gun Law Seminar to find out more. 

 

The Law of Self-Defense Explained

 

If Someone Threatens to Kill You, Can You Legally Respond?

REVIEW: MantisX: The Little Training Gizmo That Could

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This new training aid is worth well more than its cost in ammo. Find out what it is…

MantisX

by Frank Winn, Guns & Gear Editor
NRA America’s 1st Freedom

How enthusiastic would you be about a device that could turn you into a better pistol (or rifle) shooter in a hurry; weighed essentially nothing; worked on a huge variety of firearms; played no favorites by gender, stature, handedness (or hat-size, for that matter); worked in both dry- and live-fire modes; and could be had for a few week’s worth of pocket change?

Yeah — us too. So we present the MantisX Firearms Training System.

Physically, it’s an underwhelming sort of kit: A bland-looking Picatinny-attachable component (packed in the smallest Pelican case we’ve ever seen) comprises a compact sensor, and is accompanied by a single sheet of instructions and a USB-to-mini-USB charging cable. But unfold that sheet of paper, and you’ll start to cheer up, we promise. Eight steps that would fit legibly on both sides of a business card may be all you’ll ever read about the MantisX.

While we have suspicions about the need behind the complexity of the nuts and bolts, the concept behind the device is simple. Step One of those instructions is to get the brains to your phone — a free App Store or Google Play download — and Step Two puts the device on your rail. Next come prompted and self-terminating connection and calibration steps, and now you’re ready to train. Just push “start,” and you’re rolling. (Unless you’re at the range, remember to make sure a dry-fire session is truly dry: NO LIVE AMMO IN THE SAME ROOM AS YOU ARE.)

The sensor and your smart device are now monitoring the movements of your pistol in near real time. The data stream that the sensor sends is stripped of the crucial milliseconds around the hammer or striker fall, and the segment compared to the “still” calibration position. Large-amplitude movements like cycling and actual shots are filtered out. The result is shot-by-shot analysis of your movements in generating the trigger press. Individual shots are scored, and the string as a whole is averaged on a 0-to-100 scale (100 demonstrates you’ve introduced no extraneous movement).

A lot of what you’ll see on your smart device in “Train” mode will remind you of a “Common Errors and Corrections” target that’s been around for years and years — one of those teaching aids that we love and hate at the same time. Pretty much everybody has seen these. They’re a spider-web-looking sort of target with a very pronounced center aim point, and labels that really give them away. They’re intended to help you identify and correct many gripping-architecture/mechanics problems that, if repeated, cause shots to stray in predictable ways. So far, so good. Their shortcomings are more difficult to apprehend, and the biggest are inseparably tandem: They have handedness (different for righties and lefties) built in, and this means they’re truly helpful only when you shoot on them with the named, single hand. As this is a huge departure from modern technique — both hands pressed together around the pistol grip just for starters — it’s no wonder their utility begins to fade. Certainly, their cues to remedy misdirected shots become less useful.

MantisX screeen

You can use your MantisX system in this way. In fact, knock yourself out: You will develop a fine trigger press with either hand. But don’t think for a second that the MantisX software shares the limitations of paper predecessors. Take a look at the “Learn” screens, and you’ll see that two-handed technique has been accounted for in the software. Whether the training suggestions are utterly perfect or not will soon be an afterthought. The real power is in revealing those tiny corrupting movements you had no idea you were making.

Two additional “Train” mode displays are where this becomes clear. The first is a line graph that looks a little bland on first inspection: Your string gets plotted left to right on the zero-to-100 scale as shots are made. Overlaid on this is a running average, recomputed and displayed as a line across the inevitable zig-zag of the successive, individual shots.

With an efficiency matched by nothing else we know, the MantisX gets you closer to repeatability in that all-important press.

This isn’t as ho-hum as it may sound, though it’s a little hard to describe why. We think the graphical presentation of the relative stillness of each shot is simply more obvious in the line plot: Shots that feel very similar will measure quite differently and — sometimes glaringly — illustrate the disastrous compounding of flaws that routinely spoils what feels like a technically sound shot. Nothing makes this clearer than an ugly, obvious 20- or even 40-point bounce from one press to the next. But stick with it, and this is where the near-magic happens. Between the MantisX sensor, software and your brain, a feedback loop is built, and we think you’ll be as astonished and impressed as we were how rapidly those infuriating swings begin to moderate. With an efficiency matched by nothing else we know, the MantisX gets you closer to repeatability in that all-important press.

MantisX

The third Train-mode screen gives even better detail on variations in one crucial sense. While it goes back to the “bucket” display mode where shots are grouped by error type, it shows the degree of error, rather than a simple count. Reading this is therefore a bit more subtle: If you have small, concentric slivers all around the center, your technique is likely very sound. The mistakes you’re making are causing very small angular deviations, and are approaching irreducible levels that reflect biologic immutables (pulse, respiration, etc.), not technique blunders.

If your pattern is more spoke-like — with larger/deeper arcs more scattered — then your score will be lower, too. You may have fewer errors, but their magnitude is such that they’ll have big(ger) impacts on downrange results.

While it’s easy to get excited about the actual shooting benefits of the MantisX system, it’d be an injustice to overlook some other fine attributes. A favorite is the charging method: The supplied cable lets you charge your sensor in any handy USB. We have no idea why there isn’t more of this in small devices of every type.

Next is that charging port itself. If you plan to do mostly dryfire work and have a pistol to which you’ll leave the sensor mounted (don’t forget — it works with CO2 and Airsoft too), such a mount can be made with the port accessible; that is, pointing forward to make plug-in dead easy. If you are using the sensor in live fire, you’ll be well-advised to turn the charging connection rearward so that carbon and other detritus don’t find their way into the connector. Just remember, this is parameter for the sensor, and creates push/pull assessment errors if not set on the “Settings” screen.

We can hear some of you thinking, by the way. “Gee, what would it be like on my rifle?” That is easily answered in two ways. First, we tried it, and it works just fine, though obviously the technique tips are mostly meaningless because grip is so different. But in terms of telling you how “quiet” you are physically at the moment you break the shot, it’s grand. Second, and not coincidentally, MantisX tells us that a rifle version of the software is already well along and due this summer.

A “History” mode is built into the MantisX software, too, and it’s about as self-explanatory as it could be. It stores each string as a bar graph in 0-to-100 scale, and contains the individual “Train” mode results (all three plots). It divvies them up by “live,” “dry” and “all,” as well as presenting some summary statistics. All are shareable as well.

We expect it’s clear that the more we fiddle with the MantisX, the more we like it. It’s clever, reliable and affordable, and will allow disproportionately rapid improvement for modest investments along several axes. But make no mistake: Its genius is not merely in forging some new paradigm, but also in refocusing and capitalizing on a time-tested one. It will put the fun back in dry fire. And if we’re honest, the more seasoned you get, the more boring this becomes. Heck, the MantisX even allows this to become a mildly competitive pursuit, if you like.

As to a new paradigm, we’d suggest it does this too. Nothing in (LOUD) shouting distance allows a reconnection between dry and live practice like the MantisX system. Making one pay dividends for the other has never been frankly transparent, and we think that’s about to change.

If you’ll take our advice, don’t be on the tail end of finding out.

MantisX unit

Visit MantisX site HERE
MSRP of the MantisX Firearms Training Systems is $149.99

SPECIAL SUPPLEMENT: Sun Poisoning & Heatstroke: What You Should Know

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Summer sun is a wonderful thing but, as with many such, all things in moderation!  Here’s how to protect, and treat, yourself and your family from over-exposure.

high heat

by Laura Cromwell, NRA Family

After what felt like an endless winter of Narnia proportions, summer is more welcome than ever. Now that we’ve said goodbye to bulky winter coats, subfreezing temperatures, and mounds of powdery snow, it’s time to break out bathing suits, open up pools, and enjoy the relaxing warmth –- no Polar Vortexes allowed!

In moderation, sun exposure boosts vitamin D production in the body, regulates melatonin, and has been found to suppress symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis along with many other health benefits. But overexposure to the sun has potentially life-threatening consequences that can ruin vacations and take you on a different trip — all the way to the emergency room. The effects of sun poisoning and heatstroke are not to be taken lightly. Learn what you can do to protect yourself and your family.

Sun-Blocking Strategies
Before going out in the sun, rub on broad-spectrum SPF 30 or above sunscreen at least 15 to 20 minutes prior to sun exposure. Reapply every two hours or after periods of swimming or sweating. Remember, there is no shame in camping out in the shade, covering up bare skin, or putting on a wide-brim hat as an extra precaution. Many clothing companies sell garments treated with UV-ray obstructing components for all-day wear.

Too Much of a Good Thing
Everyone gets overexposed to the sun at least once in their lives, but there’s a stark difference between a rosy pink gone-after-a-few-days sunburn versus painful, swollen, blistered skin. Sun poisoning is sunburn that has been taken to the next level — displaying skin damage similar to that found in a hospital burn unit. How can you tell when you or a family member has been over-served on sunlight, and what should you do? Here’s a quick reference guide.

What to look for:
Skin redness and blistering
Pain and tingling
Swelling
Headache
Fever and chills
Nausea
Dizziness
Dehydration

What to do:
Get out of the sun
Take a cool (not cold) shower or bath or apply cool compresses
Drink extra fluids for a few days
Take ibuprofen or acetaminophen for pain
Use aloe gel or a moisturizing cream
Completely cover sunburned areas when going outside

When to get medical help:
A sunburn that forms blisters, covers a large area, or is very painful
Facial swelling
Fever and chills
Upset stomach
Headache, confusion or faintness
Signs of dehydration

When You Shouldn’t Take the Heat
Whether you’re mowing the lawn, jogging or playing in brutal summer temperatures, heatstroke creeps up and rears its ugly head with debilitating, even fatal, results. Get a hold of the day’s temperature forecast before going out. If it’s too hot, it’s just not worth it. Utilize the coolness of early-morning or evening hours to take care of the yard, exercise inside instead of putting yourself in harm’s way. Information provided by the Mayo Clinic recognizes that heatstroke begins as cramping in arms, stomach and legs, nausea, moist skin, dizziness and headaches, then evolves into symptoms that wreak havoc on the human body. Pay attention if you or someone you know is exhibiting the below indicators and know ahead of time what you can do to help.

What to look for:
Body temperature of 104 F. This is the telltale sign of heatstroke
No sweating. In heatstroke brought on by hot weather, skin feels hot and dry to the touch. With heatstroke brought on by vigorous exercise, skin may feel moist.
Nausea and vomiting
Flushed skin
Rapid and shallow breathing
Racing heart rate
Headache
Confusion
Seizures
Hallucinations
Difficulty speaking or understanding others
Passing out, or unconsciousness that may lead to a comatose state
Muscle cramping or weakness

What to do:
Seek immediate medical help. Call 911 or your local emergency services number.
Cool them down. Get the person moved to a shaded location, have them drink water or an electrolyte-containing sports drink, and remove excess clothing.
Place ice packs or cold, wet towels on the person’s head, neck, armpits and groin.
Mist the person with water with a fan blowing on them.

No Time for Summertime Blues
Summers are meant to be jam-packed with fireworks, backyard barbecues, fishing trips, barefooted bliss, and most importantly, no school! Taking the necessary precautions to enjoy the sunshine safely means more memories can be made without a visit to the doctor’s office. If your summer plans include getting out on the waves, hiking up a trail, or exploring the desert, you’ll be equipped to beat the heat. There’s no need to be afraid of the sun when you know what to do to get the most out of July and August. Bring on summer!

Folks, we put this in here because w’ve seen it happen at a shooting range more than once. Do not dismiss or underestimate the effects of a hot summer sun!

As Temperatures Go Up in Texas, So Does Road Rage

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A recent national television report asserted that road-rage incidents are becoming more common and more deadly, with the latest incident taking place in Pennsylvania, in which a man is alleged to have shot and killed a teenage girl during a traffic merge.  Click to watch level-headed advice from your Independent Program Attorney about what to do—and what not to do—in these situations.

Hello, my name is Edwin Walker. I’m an Independent Program Attorney with Texas Law Shield.

I want to talk to you today about an issue that we see on a daily basis. In fact, you will encounter it on a daily basis — the subject of road rage. I am sure that you have all seen road rage. You may have actually been involved in a road rage incident.

Now, if you’re a responsible gun owner, I’m going to give you a few words of advice on how to react when you find yourself in one of these unfortunate road-rage incidents. While on the roadways, we all observe something that makes us upset, whether it’s poor driving, unsafe driving, or just simply somebody being very discourteous.

By all means, you should restrain yourself from engaging that person and telling them how bad their actions were because this can be perceived as an act of road rage. If you’re a lawful gun owner and you have a firearm in your vehicle, you do not want to be viewed as the aggressor in a road-rage situation.

Now, about a situation where an individual has chosen to rage against you, and you are the actual victim of road rage, if you and the other individuals are still in their automobiles, do not use your firearm to respond to any of the rager’s activities. This is because law enforcement views the fact that you’re both still safely in your metal boxes as removing any threat of immediacy that you may be harmed.

So please, if you have a gun, and somebody is raging against you, forget that you have a gun, don’t display it, don’t brandish it, don’t show it, don’t point it, and for God’s sake, don’t fire it. This could result in a lot of trouble for you. Now let’s look at a situation where a road rage incident has escalated to the point where one of the participants has actually gotten out of their vehicle. We recommend that you stay in your vehicle at all times. Do not exit your vehicle because the person who left their vehicle is going to be looked at as the aggressor.

If the other individual has exited his or her vehicle and the person is not in contact with your vehicle, and they do not have a weapon, then do not feel that you can display your weapon in the act of self-defense. People are allowed to just simply stand there and scream at you—scream whatever they want—until they make a demonstrative effort to try to harm you. There is no immediate threat that would justify displaying or shooting or brandishing your firearm.

Now, if the person shows a weapon, in particular, a firearm, the existence of a weapon would give you reasonable belief that there was an immediate threat of harm that would justify an act of force or deadly force.

Even in this situation, I would be very cautious. Now, if this situation escalates even further, where the person has actually made physical contact with your vehicle, whether they are beating on it with an instrument with their fists or they’re attempting to open your door, this would give you the facts that you would need to show that you had a reasonable belief that that individual is unlawfully and forcefully attempting to either enter your vehicle or remove you from your vehicle. This is very very important because this falls under what is commonly known in Texas as the Castle Doctrine.

The Castle Doctrine provides that an individual is given a presumption of reasonableness if they use force or deadly force in a situation where they believe that the person is unlawfully and forcefully either attempting to enter their occupied vehicle or remove somebody from their occupied vehicle. This legal presumption can be very very important because this legal presumption then says that you are allowed to use force or deadly force in response to this other individual’s actions.

We want to keep you safe out on the roadway, so keep these words of advice in mind and try to have a little less road rage out there. If we have a little less road rage, maybe we’ll have a safer world.

 

 

Check out these other great articles from U.S. Law Shield and click here to become a member:

 

The “purple paint law” became official in Texas on September 1, 1997. The law doesn’t appear to be common knowledge for every hunter in the Lone Star State, even though Texas hunting regulations describe it.
Can your employer restrict your ability to carry firearms at the workplace? Click to watch Emily Taylor, Independent Program Attorney with Walker & Byington, explain that in Texas, employers call the shots regarding workplace self-defense.
In this excerpt from a U.S. Law Shield News live report, watch Emily Taylor, independent program attorney with Walker & Byington, discuss the ground rules for carrying firearms into restaurants and bars. Click the video below to find out the significant differences between blue signs and red signs in Texas establishments, and how getting those colors crossed up could lead to some orange jumpsuit time.   If you would like to see these reports live on Facebook, click here to join the Texas Law Shield Facebook page and sign up for live notifications.