Tag Archives: JIM WILSON

SKILLS: Tips for Wintertime Concealed Carry

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When you prepare for a cold weather outing, make sure your CCW needs have been addressed, and modified as needed. Here are a few ideas. Keep reading…

wintertime

SOURCE: Shooting Illustrated, by Sheriff Jim Wilson

As I write this, the first real cold front of the year is pushing its way through the country. It is also a time that we might reflect upon this business of dressing around your defensive handgun. The first thought might be that now, with the cold weather, everyone is wearing some sort of coat (perhaps even one of these tactical jackets), so it will be much easier for us to blend in with whatever covering garment we use for concealing our guns. However, even with winter carry, there are some issues that we need to consider.

When people are confronted with a violent criminal attack, the one thing that they can’t afford to waste is time. The criminal has already made the first move, and it is critical that we be able to respond in a timely fashion. Having to unzip or unbutton a coat is a loss of time that we might not be able to overcome. There are several ways to deal with this issue.

If we are alert, our first move when we see a potential threat might be to get that garment open so that we can respond if it turns out to be an actual threat. The assumption and the problem here is that we are alert enough to spot a possible criminal attack while there is still time to respond. What happens if a threat comes at us from behind and takes us completely by surprise?

Another solution might be to keep a small defensive handgun in one of the outer pockets of a coat. It might even be smart to have that handgun in a pocket on the support-hand side of our body. Of course, that means that we have to practice our pistol presentation with the support hand. When out in public, we might consider having the small handgun in an outer pocket on our support side and a larger handgun on our hip on the strong side. This gives defensive shooters some versatility in their choice of responses to the potential attack.

Another issue to consider with winter weather is the wearing of gloves. Will your gloved trigger finger fit into the trigger guard of your defensive handgun? Do you practice your pistol presentation while wearing gloves? These are things that should be checked out. Fortunately, modern technology has given us suitable gloves that are not bulky, and a change to gloves made of a thinner material might be all that is necessary to solve the problem.

Some might think to solve the problem by simply pulling the glove off before going for the handgun. The problem with this, of course, is the fact that it wastes time.

Your dry-practice sessions are the place to work out your pistol presentation while wearing your winter coat and gloves. Opening the coat and operating the pistol with gloves on can be worked out if you will simply take the time to practice it and work out the best moves.

The differences in weather around the country and an individual’s choice of cold weather gear make it impossible to form one set rule for winter carry. Smart defensive shooters will take a bit of time to evaluate what they wear and how to respond to a violent attack while wrapped up in warm clothing. It may well not be as much of a gun issue as it is a clothing issue. A different coat and a thinner pair of gloves may be all that is needed. But you won’t know until you experiment with what you carry.

In the winter time it is important to stay warm, but it is far more important to stay safe.

SKILLS: Resolve to Improve Your Self-Defense Skills

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Start the year off with a review of your skills, and take steps to hone them: if you don’t use it you might lose it… Read on!

new years resolutions

SOURCE: Shooting Illustrated, by Sheriff Jim Wilson

As a general rule, I’m not a big one for making New Year’s Resolutions. However, for various reasons, I’ve been studying my own personal defense plan and feel the need to focus on improving it and making it better. When we neglect our shooting skills, they degenerate quickly. The same can be said of our personal defense skills. If we are to deal with a deadly encounter, we must stay focused and in practice. So here are some thoughts — resolutions, if you will — about improving my own situation.

I am going to make time to practice more. In most cases, that means practicing the basics. The basics of defensive marksmanship are the foundation that everything else is built upon. A smooth draw stroke and quickly and accurately hitting what I am aiming at will go a long way towards ensuring my safety. There is simply no substitute for regular practice.

Right in line with that, I need to practice what I preach and do a lot more Dry Practice. These winter days, when it may not be comfortable to get outside, are perfect for a few minutes of daily Dry Practice.

I also am going to book at least one defensive shooting school during this year. Good instructors always seem to be able to spot the little things that I am doing wrong and can’t seem to see for myself. Going to a defensive shooting school is just like getting the Jeep tuned up — things just run a lot better and a lot smoother.

I also need to improve my awareness of what is going on around me. The further away we see a potential problem, the more options we have for dealing with it. No one is at their height of awareness all the time but, if we really work at it, we can increase that awareness. A heightened awareness means that I may not get hurt and also means that I may not have to hurt another, and that’s a good thing.

Another important resolution is to seek out ways to help all of the folks who are just getting into defensive shooting. They feel the need to improve on their personal protection but often don’t know exactly how to go about it. They need a kind word, a friendly smile, and a helping hand. I can do that and you can, too.

In line with that, I need to find more and better ways to preach the important message of gun safety. Improving gun safety and reducing negligent discharges — along with resultant injuries — is a critical task that we all should be involved in. “How can I do it better?” is a question that I am going to spend a lot of time pondering.

While not a direct personal defense resolution, I am going to spend more time with the two fine .22 Smith & Wesson revolvers that I have but rarely shoot. Most of us got into the shooting sports because it was fun. Sometimes we forget that simple fact. A day spent plinking charcoal briquettes and other safe targets is good for my soul. It would be a good idea to invite some young shooters along, too.

SKILLS: Three Self-Defense Myths That Just Won’t Die

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Don’t buy into these age-old myths! Sheriff Jim tells the truth, and the truth might just save your life… Keep reading!

defensive rounds

SOURCE: NRA Publications, Shooting Illustrated
by Sheriff Jim Wilson

Just about the time it appears they have been proven false and dismissed, the same self-defense and gun myths pop again. Part of this is probably due to the fact there are always new people who finally realize they need to do something about their personal safety and begin seeking answers. Unfortunately, it is also due to the tendency of some people to pass on advice they have heard, but never took the time to find out if it is really true. Since it sounds cool, it must be right. This is one of the many reasons why defensive shooters need to receive professional training. With a good, professional instructor, it is remarkable how many of these myths quickly fall by the wayside and are replaced by cold, hard facts. Let’s look at three of the old self-defense myths that just won’t die and discuss the truths they conceal.

Myth No. 1: Hit him anywhere with a .45 and it will knock him down. This myth probably started with the advent of the .45 Colt back in the 1870s, but it has been repeated most often when people refer to the .45 ACP. Nowadays, you will hear it touted regarding the .44 Mag., the .41 Mag., the .40 S&W or whatever new and powerful pistol cartridge that has just been introduced. The truth was discovered way back in 1687, when Sir Isaac Newton published his third law of motion. Newton stated that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. In other words, if a bullet shot from a handgun was so powerful that it could actually knock a person down, it would also knock the shooter down. There are a lot of reasons why a person who is shot may appear to fall down, or even be knocked down. But, the truth is the force of the bullet striking him is not knocking him off his feet. That only happens in the movies and TV. In reality, a person who is shot with even a relatively powerful handgun may show very little indication of being hit. There will also be very little sign of blood, especially at first. Therefore, the defensive shooter should not rely on these as cues that the fight is over. The important thing is to recover from recoil, regain your sight picture and quickly re-evaluate the threat. If the criminal is still armed — whether or not he is on his feet — and if he appears to still be a threat, additional shots may be necessary. Just don’t expect the bad guy to go flying off his feet, because it probably won’t happen.

Myth No. 2: There’s no need to aim a shotgun, just point it in the general direction of the bad guy and fire.
The shotgun is an awesome firearm that is altogether too often overlooked by today’s defensive shooters. However, it is not a magic wand. People who claim you don’t have to aim a shotgun have simply never done patterning tests with their favorite defensive smoothbore. When shot exits a shotgun barrel, it does so in almost one solid mass. That mass is smaller than a man’s fist. It is only as the shot travels downrange that it begins to spread apart, and it spreads much more gradually than a lot of people expect. Whether you are using buckshot or birdshot, from 0 to 10 yards you should consider it to be one projectile. Actually, by about 7 yards the shot has begun to spread noticeably, but not as much as you might think. From 10 yards to about 25 yards, the average shotgun will deliver a pattern that will still stay on the chest area of a silhouette target. But, by 25 yards some of the pellets may stray off target. When dealing with a threat at 25 yards and beyond, it’s time to think about transitioning to a slug. Instead of taking anyone’s word for it — mine included — the defensive shotgunner should run pattern tests using his shotgun from extremely close range out to 25 and 30 yards. He will also find his shotgun performs better with one brand of ammunition than others. There are a lot of reasons for this preference for particular loads, but the defensive shotgunner should know this occurs and make his selection accordingly. The smart defensive shooter will run tests until he knows which load his gun prefers and exactly what his shot pattern is doing at the ranges his shotgun could be called upon to perform. Always true: don’t just believe it, test it!

Myth No. 3: If you have to shoot a bad guy in your front yard, drag him into the house before calling the cops.
As ridiculous as this may sound, it is one of the self-defense myths that just won’t go away. A student brought it up once in a defensive pistol class. There are couple of good reasons why this is a terrible idea.
To begin with, most states determine the justification for using deadly force as being a reasonable response to prevent immediate death or serious bodily injury. Therefore, if a person is justified in defending himself inside his home, he is also justified in defending himself in his yard, because he is under an immediate attack in which he could be killed or seriously injured. This varies from state to state, so check your own state’s laws before determining your home-defense plan. The second, equally important, reason is the crime scene will quickly make a liar out of you. Any investigator worth his salt will know within five minutes that you moved the body. And, if you’re lying about that, you are probably lying about everything else, or that’s what the investigator will assume. It is the quickest possible way to go directly to jail. Protecting yourself in a completely justifiable shooting can get expensive. So can lying to the police about a shooting.
Part and parcel to obtaining a defensive firearm should be obtaining advice from a criminal defense attorney. He can tell you what your state laws are, how they are interpreted in court and the limitations regarding use of deadly force and how they apply to a legally armed citizen. Getting that sort of advice from the guys down at the bar or from an Internet commando is a sure-fire recipe for disaster.

How to Avoid Being a Victim

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Avoidance is preferable to engagement… Here’s some pointers from The Sheriff on learning to give off the “leave me alone” vibe. Read on…

atm victim

SOURCE: NRA Shooting Illustrated, by Sheriff Jim Wilson

Some years ago, we busted an armed robbery team that specialized in hitting convenience stores. A day or two after the arrests, one of the suspects became willing talk to us about what they looked for in a potential target. We drove him around at night and he critiqued the various stores as to lighting, get-away routes, and other factors that made them look appealing to an armed robber.

One of the stores looked particularly good to me, but it had never been hit. The crook told me that it would be a good location except for the guy that worked the night shift. He said this was the sort of guy who would keep a gun under the counter — I knew that to be a fact, a .45 Colt New Service. When they had cased the store, this clerk looked at them, made eye contact and didn’t act afraid. This crook was so right. Had they tried to rob this particular store, somebody could have gotten hurt.

Most people don’t realize how knowledgeable crooks are about body language. Now, they don’t give it formal study like we would but, trust me, they understand it thoroughly. They can understand when someone looks at them and doesn’t show fear or apprehension. They also know that the person who looks at them and makes eye contact will probably make a good witness for the police, too. Simply put, most crooks are cowards and don’t want to take a chance of getting hurt.

In the past, I have suggested that readers study articles and books, even take some classes, on body language. It truly will help you identify people who are up to no good even before any words are spoken or weapons drawn. But very few people give any thought to the type of body language that they are putting off.

When we walk down a street with our head down, not making eye contact with anyone, we look like easy prey. It is only worse when we have our faces stuck in our cell phones. When we encounter a potentially dangerous situation, do we look like we are preparing to fight or do we look like we are preparing to take flight?

People frequently encounter possible threats when there is yet no reason to draw the defensive firearm. However, there is nothing wrong with getting into an athletic stance, making direct eye contact, and putting a sound of authority in the voice. When you have to speak to a potential threat, do it with short sentences backed by the sound of strong confidence. This is not the time to make lengthy speeches. If you establish an authoritative body language, you are telling the possible threat that it really wouldn’t be a good idea to try anything.

Now I am not suggesting for one minute that you have to, or should, go around trying to look like Wyatt Earp Jr. In fact, you should be pleasant to those around you whenever possible. However, when your senses tell you that trouble might be about to happen — when you go from Yellow to Orange on the Cooper Color Code — you should look and act like you can take care of business. You are specifically not challenging the crook to try something, but your body language is telling him that jumping on you might be a really big mistake.

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.