I’ve been busting my ass, trying to get Book #3 done, among all the other tasks going on in our lives and world right now. I missed my projected first-of-the-year release by a pretty significant margin (which is nothing new, is it?).
For the last two weeks, the hardest-to-write chapter has been kicking the piss out of me. Tonight, I finally came back and beat the shit out of that 28-page sumbitch. That puts me back on track for an end-of-February release, assuming things don’t get bogged down again, during the revision process.
Combat Rifle Applications–Pahrump, NV
22-24 APR 2016
See the Upcoming Open Enrollment Classes tab above for more information, and email HH6 ASAP. This is an open-enrollment, but the hosts expect that their local group will fill most of the slots.
“...developing a PT program within the tribe and how to develop the tribe and mindset as a part of that..”
One of the points I’ve tried to make in past articles on the blog, in Volume Two of The Reluctant Partisan, and in the forthcoming third book, is that the key to building tribe and community for preparedness, during the decline of empire, is being a person that people recognize the importance of having around. It’s about making your presence valuable to them. The same of course, is true of people you would want in your tribal community. You don’t want or need useless people who are succubi, living off the efforts and exertions of those around them.
As I’ve tried to express—ad nauseum—in this blog, one of the best tools we have for this, in both cases, is strenuous, effective physical training. In addition to the basic, inherent value of being strong and fit, and being surrounded by strong, fit people, it develops a necessary “mutual exclusivity” that is necessary to separate “us” from “them” in a world of whining, weak, people who look for shortcuts and easy answers.
One of my favorite one-liners, in life in general, and in PT specifically, is from Texas strength coach Mark Rippetoe: “strong people are harder to kill, and more useful in general.” The idea of HARD, physically strenuous PT is often unpopular in preparedness circles. People seem to believe that they can purchase exemptions to this, relying on technology to solve their problems, by simply stockpiling more “bullets, beans, and band-aids.” They trot out tired, easily invalidated arguments like, “there will always be someone stronger,” (while true for most of us, SOMEONE has to be The Strongest; shouldn’t we strive to be that person? Even if we fail, we’ve increased the number of people we’re stronger than, thus making us more useful than them), “mental strength is more important than physical strength,” (again, inarguably true, until you need to lift something heavy as fuck off someone, or carry and injured person to safety, and you’re just not physically strong enough to do so…all the mental strength in the world isn’t going to help then, urban myths aside. This also conveniently ignores the reality that PT is one of the best tools we have for building actual—versus theoretical—mental discipline and strength), or—one of my personal favorites (*sarcasm*) that I hear a lot–”you’ll be old someday too, and then you’ll understand!” (Hopefully, I will get to be old someday. I already have to work harder to get, and stay, strong, than I did twenty years ago. That doesn’t mean I’m going to just give up. Will I be as strong at 80 as I was at 40? Probably not, but I guarantee you, even at 80, I will be stronger than the 40 year old who doesn’t do PT).
Whether it’s general chores around the homestead, digging or carrying heavy materials around a construction site, carrying bags of livestock feed, humping a heavy ruck on a bug-out to a safe haven, being stronger and more physically fit, is seldom, if ever, going to be detrimental. I cannot think of a single situation in my entire life when being strong has ever been a bad thing…and I can assure you, I spend a lot of time, generally in the moments leading up to a set of heavy squats or deadlifts, trying to think of some example that will be a viable excuse for not doing the set.
Since I’ve had students in classes admit as much, I know it is not true, but I’d like to believe that anyone who has been reading this blog for any length of time has embarked on a legitimate, effective strength and conditioning program by now. You know the value and importance of PT. That’s not the point of this article though, is it? This is about developing a PT program for the tribe, and using that as a tool to develop a stronger tribe, physically and mentally.
Be A Fucking Leader
It is my heartfelt belief that the first step in developing your tribe’s ability to survive—and even thrive—during the decline of empire, especially when you feel like you are the only one around with the foresight to recognize that “shit just ain’t right,” in the world (you’d be wrong feeling that way, by the way. I guarantee you, everyone around you recognizes it to, even if they’re still in denial about it), is to step up and be a leader. You may not be The Leader (and who would want that job, anyway?), but you need to be A Leader, even when those around you don’t want to accept that they need guidance. It’s no secret that, in my world, The Ranger Handbook is pretty much The Bible of leadership, so I’m going to turn to that first.
According to my Ranger Handbook, “…leadership provides purpose, direction, and motivation...” It also says that leaders must “...be, know, and do…” I’m not the smartest guy in the world—I’m not even the smartest guy I know—but that seems like a pretty good recipe for guidance on developing a PT program for your tribe, and using it to develop a stronger tribe.
In this case, the above descriptions from the Ranger Handbook are the sine qua non of leadership. You have to provide purpose, direction, and motivation by being an exemplar of the value and importance of being in great physical condition. That means, of course, you need to BE physically fit. You also need to understand the art and science of coaching and strength and conditioning, in order to KNOW how to help others get into great physical condition, within their own physical limitations. Being fit is not the same thing as knowing how to help others get fit. Your grandmother, your wife, your parents, and your children are not going to reach their peak following the same exact program that works for you. Finally, you need to DO, by actually getting out there and helping those others, even at the sacrifice of some of your own desires.
BE! Set An Example, Without Being A Dick
In my experience, no one will ever take you serious about the importance of physical fitness if you are not obviously physically fit. This doesn’t mean you need to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger, at his Mr. Olympia-winning prime. No one expects 23-inch upper arms, and sub-5% bodyfat is simply not maintainable for any length of time for most people.
However, if you’re suffering from Dunlap Disease (Your belly done lapped over your belt), or you’re walking around shoving your face full of Big Macs and Snickers bars, while preaching the value of physical fitness, strength, and vigor, don’t expect any of us to take you seriously. You need to look like you’re physically fit, you need to live like you’re physically fit, and you need to demonstrate that you’re physically fit. Standing around in your best hero pose, while everyone else is doing physical labor, because you’re “on a rest day,” is not being a leader, or setting an example.
Whether it’s helping your neighbor unload a truckload of lumber for his shed building project, getting a lid off a jar of pickles for your grandmother, cutting and stacking a cord of firewood for your mother, or wrestling around with a bunch of young dudes in their twenties at a party—and not getting gassed in the first thirty seconds—you need to able to demonstrate that being physically fit has as many advantages today as it does in some possible dystopian future.
KNOW! Set Standards and Enforce Them
You cannot develop a conditioning program for yourself—let alone for anyone else—without knowing what the goals are for that program. What are you trying to achieve? What are they trying to achieve? Are they trying to achieve the same things you are? Are those goals realistic for them?
One of the things I’ve discussed in previous articles, generally about firearms training standards, is the importance of performance-focused, or “soft” standards, versus “outcome-focused” hard standards. Setting a 0.95 drawstroke to first shot standard, from concealment is utterly fucking useless for a middle-aged housewife with her very first handgun and a concealed carry permit so new the ink isn’t even dry yet. The same principle applies to telling some scrawny dude wearing hipster skinny jeans that he needs to be able to squat 2x his bodyweight, dead lift 2.5x his bodyweight, and bench press 1.5x his bodyweight. He’s going to—righteously—look at you like you’ve got a dick growing out of your forehead.
My wife knows she needs to be physically fit and strong, in order to be a useful partner in our quest to provide for our children and our tribe of kith-and-kin. She also knows she needs to be physically fit and strong to help me set an example for those around us. Does that mean she needs to be aiming for—let alone actually achieving—the same standards I aim for? No. Expecting her to do so is not only unrealistic, it’s going to do nothing but discourage her attempts to achieve what she can achieve and what she needs to achieve.
Ignoring the physiological differences between men and women (which while real, are not as immense, as important, or as insurmountable as most of the “men are physically superior and stronger than women!” crowd want to believe. I guarantee you, most of that crowd are not half as strong, nor do they possess a quarter of the physical stamina of Annie Thorisdottir—2011 and 2012 Crossfit Games Womens Champion), my wife and I simply have different roles to play, which means we have different needs from our PT. My wife isn’t going to deadlift 400+ pounds for reps during PT any time soon, and I don’t expect her to. My wife isn’t going to carry two five-gallon buckets of concrete mix across a house-building site any time soon, and I don’t expect her to.
Setting performance-driven standards, so people are getting stronger today than they were yesterday, is what matters. We have to set challenging “hard” standards, and they need to be standard, but those standards may be different for different groups of people within the tribe, based on their specific needs. The hard standards you set for people have to be predicated on a couple of different factors including, yes, their age and physical ability to attain them.
My very prim-and-proper, ladylike grandmother, in her nineties, is not going to suddenly going to start flinging her bodyweight overhead in an Olympic Snatch. It just is not going to happen, and I don’t expect her to. Does my 90+ year old grandmother really need to squat her bodyweight on a barbell? Probably not. It doesn’t mean I don’t encourage her to do PT, and encourage her to do PT. Here’s the catch though…my grandmother is not going to pick up a rifle, and run to the sound of the guns. She has more important roles to play in the tribe. She still does her PT every day though. She gets on her little exercise bike every day for 20-30 minutes, she goes for her three-mile walk every other day, and she does weightlifting with her little one- and five-pound weights.
One of my uncles came to me a few months ago, shortly after we moved back South. He’s been a little bit of a prepper-type since Y2K, but has stepped it up a lot over the last few years. He asked me about helping him develop a PT program, because he’d noticed how serious I was about it, and was starting to recognize that, in his 60s now, he wasn’t as fit as he used to be, but felt he needed to be more fit.
I gave him a 35-pound kettlebell, and coached him on a couple of basic programs he could do that would keep challenging him, as he changed them back-and-forth. Now, a 35-pound kettlebell doesn’t seem like much to most of us. I do swings with a 70-pound kettlebell, and will step up to a 100-pounder as soon as I can fit it into my budget. I do snatches with twin 50-pound kettlebells, and will start incorporating the 70-pound within a couple of conditioning cycles. I do Turkish Get-Ups with a 50-pounder, and could do them with the 70-pounder if I wasn’t a chickenshit, worried about dropping it on my skull. That doesn’t matter though. I’m not in my 60s, and coming off a decades-long absence of physical conditioning work. For my uncle, that 35-pound ketttlebell has made a significant difference, in both his strength and his stamina and endurance. The standard set was simply, do more today than you did yesterday, and do more tomorrow than you did today.
How do you enforce standards though? In a kin-group tribe like mine, that can be challenging. Am I going to disown my grandmother or uncle or wife, if they don’t do PT? Of course not. I can only use my own example, of doing the right thing, and be ready to offer guidance, when they are ready.
In an intentional tribe however, where you are intentionally gathering people around you, as in a preparedness group, or a militia, you can most certainly set standards, and enforce them, through ostracism…and you should. If dude is not doing his PT, or is not meeting the standards, why not? If he doesn’t have a legitimate reason, what else is he going to avoid doing when it needs to be done, just because it is inconvenient?
In an intentional tribe, I believe that setting performance-driven “soft” standards, as well as outcome-driven “hard” standards should be written into the by-laws of the organization, whether those by-laws are actually written down in hard-copy, or are simply the “established values, customs, and traditions” that the group feels it shares and has discussed.
In addition to basic PT requirements, incorporating physical strength and vigor into the culture of your tribe can be a useful catalyst for motivation. Having a party, and including physical feats as part of the recreation, may help—through the natural, inherent competitiveness of people—build the mindset of fitness as part of your tribal culture. This is, in fact, an ancient tradition in tribal cultures. From American Indian foot races, to the hugely popular (I love competing in them) Highland Games, to more “mundane” things like stone carrying, or wood splitting competitions, throwing a wager out there, on a lark, or actually planning them into the party festivities, and offering prizes to the winners, while making it a tradition, will go a long way to not only establishing a culture of valuing fitness, but to building frith within the tribe, as people bond over the competition and cheering for favorites.
DO! Be Ready When They Are Ready
One of the things I’ve noticed about preparedness culture, as I’ve written this blog, and taught classes around the country, is that there is a very strong undercurrent of greediness in this community. From people who prepare solely out of a fear of “losing the stuff I’ve worked for,” to people who jump on the “If you show up at my house, when you didn’t prepare before hand, I’m not giving you shit” bandwagon, there is a decided, very noticeable level of greediness. I get it, don’t misunderstand me. My wife and I have worked our asses off for everything we have. We’ve scrimped, scrounged, and saved. We’ve gone without, a lot.
Nevertheless, if someone in my kith-and-kin group showed up, tomorrow, and had lost their job, because of the collapsing economy, and didn’t have a place to stay, because they couldn’t make their rent, and they had no food storage to feed themselves or their kids, what am I going to do? I’m going to make up a bed of blankets on the living room floor, and have the wife throw on a pot of stew, to feed them, and give them a place to sleep. If they’re out looking for a new job the next day, great. I’ll even help them with money for fuel to drive around. If they’re not looking for a new job, that’s fine too, I’ve got plenty of chores to do around the house that they can pitch in with. What I’m not going to do is punish them.
Most people in modern America don’t give a shit about fitness, beyond being able to claim membership in a Planet Fatness (not a typo) type “Health Club” for the social cachet. As Jack Donovan pointed out in a recent article on his blog, while the would-be elitists of the urban chic crowd seem to want to propagate the belief that the waspish, teenage-girl, skinny jeans wearing, scrawny, body type is the “new normal” for American men, the real “new normal” for all Americans seems to be the fat, dough-bodied slovenliness we see all around us.
As more and more people across the political spectrum continue waking up to the realization that “shit just ain’t right” though, a surprising number are also waking up to the fact that being stronger and more fit might actually be useful in facing the challenges they see on their horizons. As leaders within our tribes, whether intentional or kin-group, we need to be ready for this awakening, and be able to set aside our greediness, and be prepared to help. That’s why we need to be the exemplar. If we are obviously fit, then when those around us do wake up, they will—we hope—recognize that perhaps we’re the one they should look to for advice. But, we need to be ready, physically and mentally, to offer them useful, achievable guidance.
Not only do we need to be able to offer them guidance with ideas, we might even have to be ready to offer them material help. This may range from taking time out of our own tasks to actually coach them for a few days or weeks, to giving—or at least loaning—them some of the basic equipment they need to get started on their paths. I have more 35 and 50 pound kettlebells than my wife and I together can use at one time. Why? Because I can loan them out, indefinitely, without missing them. I use two Olympic barbells, a squat rack, and a power cage, but I have an extra barbell, bench and an entire extra power cage sitting in my backyard gym. Why? Because, if it comes down to it, I can loan them out to someone that will use them, but can’t go out and buy one, right this minute.
Am I at risk that they might sell it on Craigslist, or it will disappear into a pile of shit in their garage? Sure. Absolutely. I have to trust someone, at some point though, right? I’m willing to risk that loss, because the people I would loan that equipment out to are people that I need to be able to trust. If I can’t trust them with gym equipment, can I trust them with my life, or the lives of my family? I’d rather learn of their betrayal over a couple hundred dollars worth of gym equipment than over my kids’ lives.
If I just took the typical self-reliant, rugged individualist stand though, I’d say, “If they want to get fit, they’ll go spend the money and buy themselves a gym, just like I had to do!” Ignoring the fact that I was in a position to do so, and they may not be in the same position.
Leadership is all about self-sacrifice. In the last year alone, I’ve taken the time out of my own schedule, and loaned out the equipment, to help at least a dozen people within my kith-and-kin group get started on PT programs and other aspects of training. I didn’t shove it in their face and tell them they needed to be doing any of it. I waited until they came to me, asking for guidance, but when they came, I was ready. Be ready when they are ready.
Why It Works
Previously, we mentioned the importance of establishing a tradition and culture of fitness in your tribe. This is important, in the context above, of building frith through competitiveness, but it goes deeper than that. If you have a tribal culture that values strength and fitness, and demonstrates that value through reward, you will find that the people within your tribe struggle to be stronger and fitter.
More importantly though, once the people within your tribe start seeing results from their PT, they will start to recognize a “mutual exclusivity” within the group, separate from the rest of the world who is not striving to be stronger and fitter. This “mutual exclusivity,” or “Us v. Them” strengthens the bond of the tribe, far more effectively than a bunch of cute little velcro-backed patches will ever do.
Alright, boys and girls, this is your captain with no name speaking…wait, sorry, wrong movie….
So, HH6 went through the suggestions here on the blog’s comments, and those sent to her via the email account. She picked out a selection that she was most impressed with, and we selected two. Yes, I can break the rules of the contest, because it’s my contest. We’re going to send both recipients the prizes (since “W” only wanted a hard copy of Volume Two, that even makes it easier.)
The winners are:
Matt, with the suggestion of “developing a PT program within the tribe and how to develop the tribe and mindset as part of that.”
W, with specifically, his suggestion of “engagement/psychological preparation of children/youth in your planning and preparations—what the hell are you going to do with TMO?”
While others brought up planning and preparing with/around the children, we went with W’s because he suggested two other things that in themselves would’ve been selections HH6 would’ve chosen for winners, on their own merits.
“Vehicle preparation: what kinds, what parts, what skills, hardening…” (Of course, those who have read Volume Two recognize, he’s going to get his answers to that one post-haste, now, isn’t he?)
“Medical (may be too close to what Pineslayer suggested, but it was on my list): What the Hell do you do with someone past immediate first-aid when/if WROL and follow-on care is not available.” (Short answer, is the toughest part of the TC3 class that I present, and that goes something like this: “You can do everything wrong, and the patient can still survive. You can do everything right, and the patient can still die. Sometimes, shit is just out of your control. So, control what you can control, do the right thing, and pray to whatever gods you believe in—and praying to the gods of the patient probably isn’t going to hurt either.”
While others came up with those independently, HH6 decided to go with W, because he threw a bunch out there and had three winners in one.
All that having been said, there were a LOT of solid suggestions, and expect to see some of them addressed in coming articles, despite not being the winners today.
Some of the article suggestions have been covered, ad nauseum, on the blog in the past, and for the most part, my thinking on them hasn’t changed all that much. Some of them I’ve never done articles on, am not doing articles on, and will not do articles on, because they are either a) asking for trouble to write about, or b) do not belong on the open internet.
Oh, and in response to W’s final question, “What are you doing in May that covers nocturnal ops?” It’s a private class for a group of students who have all been in multiple courses with me, and have proven their ability to perform, under pressure, safely. All of my classes cover low-light operations to some degree, but open enrollment classes tend to be less in-depth on the subject for a variety of reasons ranging from disparate skill levels and safety considerations to range limitations on night fire.
Matt and W, email HH6 your shipping addresses ASAP and we’ll get your books out!
To begin with, HH6 and I would like to express our wishes to all of our readers for a joyous holiday season, filled with time spent with family and friends.
I have decided I am taking the rest of the year off from the blog, working on the book, etc, to focus 100% of my time and energy on being with the tribe. However, HH6 and I decided, in an effort to demonstrate our gratitude and appreciation of the readers, we’re going to do a Holiday gift of a combination set of both Volumes I and II of The Reluctant Partisan, for one reader. There’s a catch though. We’re going to allow you guys to suggest article ideas you’d like to see on the blog in the near future. Twenty-four hours after I post this, HH6 will pick out a winner (so you have 24 hours to come up with a zinger!), and we will announce the winner. The winner needs to contact HH6 with a shipping address ASAP, because I will mail the books out the next morning (Yes, I will dare a visit to the post office on Christmas Eve…), and email the winner with the shipping information.
So, Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Festive Yule, Joyous Solstice, or festive mid-winter celebration of your tribe’s observance!
The winning article will be the first post of 2016, followed by a resumption of the ongoing Developing a Training Plan series.
In other news:
In addition to the February classes in AZ, we have some other open-enrollment classes tentatively scheduled:
29 APR-2 MAY 2016 Combat Rifle Applications in western Oregon (vicinity of Eugene). This course develops the ability to begin training yourself to make the transition from Fundamental Rifle Marksmanship to Gunhandling in the context of fighting with the rifle. It focuses on building gunhandling skills at the intuitive level, while developing cognitive ability and valid decision-making skills during the fight. In essence, the focus of this course can be summed up with a line I tossed out at the last Combat Rifle course, in Arizona, that “if you accidentally shoot a six-year old, you can’t fix that problem by shooting the rest of his playmates too.”
Previous training with your rifle (not necessarily from me) is a prerequisite for this course. At a bare minimum, you should be capable of performing the following:
–safe weapons handling
–speed and tactical reloads
–zeroing your rifle (and having a zeroed rifle upon arrival)
–familiarity with various field firing positions like the prone, kneeling, etc.
Round count for this course is 500 rounds. Please contact HH6 at MosbyHH6@hushmail.com for enrollment details. Cost for the class is $500/shooter.
6-8 MAY 2016 Fighting in and Around Structures in western Oregon (vicinity of Eugene). This course focuses on dealing with the stresses of fighting in and around built up areas and structures. Subjects range from gaining entry and geometry of clearing a structure. This course includes complex shooting problems with high-level decision-making integrated into the coursework in a progressive methodology. THIS COURSE INVOLVES FORCE-ON-FORCE WORK. The risk of physical contact from both Sims/Airsoft projectiles (we’re still deciding on which route to follow) and other participants is very high (you’re probably going to get grabbed, slammed, and potentially choked the fuck out, at some point during this class, unless you’re some kind of Obi-Won JSOC Jedi master of CQB….).
This course, in addition to beginning to develop the ability of individual and buddy team elements to clear structures, focuses on dispelling much of the “common wisdom” that circulates in the shooting and preparedness communities regarding fighting in and around structures.
Round count for this course is 300 rounds. Please contact HH6 at MosbyHH6@hushmail.com for enrollment details. Cost for this class is $500/shooter.
For the Oregon classes: if two shooters are attending together, I will discount the combined cost of either class to $900. If one shooter wants to take both classes, I will discount the combined cost for both classes to $900. I recommend Combat Rifle Applications before the CQB course. It’s not required, but it will make the progressions a lot faster, since some of the decision-making/cognitive function drills will already be familiar, rather than being introduced to them, and then adding dealing with structural geometry issues on top of that.
4-6 JUNE 2016 Combat Rifle Applications Course in NE Missouri. See the above description for this course.
HH6 and I discussed the subject, between ourselves and with some of the students from the run of classes we did in SEP and OCT, and have decided, we will try and continue doing a few open enrollment classes, along the lines of one or two per quarter, until we decide they really will not work, or until we decide they are worth our investment in time and energy to do them more frequently again.
In light of that, we will be returning to Arizona in February.
On 13-14 FEB 2016, in the vicinity of Prescott, AZ, we will conduct a two-day TC3 and Austere Environment Medical Care course. Yes, I know this is Valentine’s Day. Nothing says “I love you!” like being able to patch your spouse’s/lover’s/partner’s bullet holes and keep them alive, right?
Cost for this class is $500/shooter, but couples that attend together will be discounted, for a price of $800/couple. Being the open-minded fucker that I am, if you say, “This is my ‘partner,’ ‘spouse,’ girlfriend,’ ‘Ranger Buddy,'” etc, that counts as a ‘couple’ in my book.
Clandestine Carry Pistol
The following weekend, 19-21 FEB 2016, we will be offering the revamped Clandestine Carry Pistol coursework. This is a concealed-carry centric course of instruction, focusing on development of effective gun handling, combative marksmanship, and other concealed-carry specific subjects. Cost for this course is $500/shooter.
If you are an individual, rather than a couple, and want to take both courses, I will discount the total cost from $1000 to $900, because I’m a nice guy like that.
I have spent the last month, and the rest of December, revising and rewriting all of my POI. This is not because the POI were somehow flawed. They were not, as I believe anyone who’s been in one of my classes will attest; they were great POI. However, in my never-ending quest to improve everything, I recognized some minor flaws in layout that needed to be fixed. As an example, in the Combat Rifle Course, I might have three or four guys who were ready to move on to more advanced course work, applying the fundamentals, while others were still trying to figure out a) how to shoot a tight group, in order to b) zero their rifle, so they could usefully learn the rest of the course work.
We will now offer two different rifle courses:
Combat Rifle Fundamentals will be functionally the same as the original Combat Rifle Course, but with more time to focus in on mastering the fundamental principles of getting hits on target. This course is for shooters new to rifles, or with no exposure to practical, in-fight gunhandling. It is still a beginner to intermediate level course, and moves on to the introduction of complex decision-making shooting drills.
Combat Rifle Applications is an intermediate to advanced course, focusing on those drills that will both fine-tune your gunhandling and teach specific methods for learning and practicing complex decision-making shooting drills for bridging the gap between basic gunhandling and applying those skills in the real world.
Clandestine Carry Pistol will remain functionally the same, but will include only one day of “fighting to the gun.” This is not because of a lack of importance of those skills, but because of the recognition that there are other people out there teaching that particular set of skills, who are “Mountain Guerrilla friendly” and have a significantly greater level of skill and knowledge in that skill set.
Other course work will remain functionally the same, with only minor changes that will not significantly impact the course from the student’s perspective, except to ensure a more solid grasp on the skills and drills taught in that course work.
In the interest of providing good product to readers, we have teamed up with the guys at AMH Tactical to develop some nylon gear specific to the Reluctant Partisan. The first product has been prototyped and developed, and tested, although testing is not yet 100% complete.
It is–for lack of a better term yet–the Underground Partisan chest rig. This is a legitimately low-profile, four magazine chest rig, designed to be worn concealed, under a light jacket or sweatshirt. I managed to wear this, with unloaded magazines, to dinner, in a very public restaurant, with a group of Federal Air Marshals and police officers recently, without drawing attention to myself, under a simple, lightweight, button front cotton shirt. It’s pretty slick.
In the interest of full-disclosure, my agreement with the AMH guys is, they can sell the gear we design cooperatively for whatever price they need to sell it for. As long as the design meets my specifications, they can label it with the Mountain Guerrilla label. My only compensation for this agreement is, I get x2 copies (one for me, one for HH6) of any product, for my own use. I just believe in the products I am designing for them, and recognize the applications for the concerned, prepared citizen.
It has been correctly said that the most important shot you will make in a gunfight is the first round out of your gun. That shot can—and generally will—determine the course of the rest of the fight. Whether in a military/paramilitary context of small-unit combat, or an armed citizen context of concealed carry self-defense shooting, an accurate, precise first shot, well-delivered, can provide you with the time and reaction gap needed to allow you to deliver a second, third, or subsequent shots, as needed. A miss, on the converse, may well be just the motivation the bad guy needs to step up and deliver his “A game.”
This has led to the pithy cliché, parroted by so many, without thinking, that “speed is fine, but accuracy is final.” While there is a great deal of Truth in this old phrase, it has been too often misinterpreted by the corrupt and untalented, to intentionally obfuscate reality by convincing the ignorant that speed is completely irrelevant, as a way to absolve themselves of their incapability of teaching students to progress and shoot faster, while maintaining acceptable levels of accuracy. Training after all, has become an industry, and making money requires customers. Making students uncomfortable, by putting them in positions to fail, even in a learning environment, where they could learn from those failures, can lead to a loss of revenue when they decide to stay home and watch John Woo movies, instead of returning to be pushed to uncomfortable levels.
Worse yet, in my mind, are those who have, in some circles, long pushed the concept known as “combat accuracy,” that has been equally abused. I don’t know where this concept actually originated. I do know that I first heard it used by blindly loyal advocates of “pointshooting,” as an excuse for their inability to shoot with a degree of accuracy greater than “minute of the entire fucking target.” Generally, in my experience, in the ensuing years, it has come to mean something along the lines of “well, if any of my guaranteed-lethal, buffalo-slaying, forty-something caliber bullets hit that bad guy anywhere, his damned head’s gonna blown plumb off’n his neck! I’m ‘combat accurate’ and these here rounds is guaranteed to pole-ax a gol-durned horse!”
This is, on the face of it, ridiculous, and has been—rightfully–mocked among trained shooters of a…dare I say it….higher caliber. The real problem however, is that like so much within the modern discourse, neither conceptual approach is completely wrong, they’ve just been abused and malformed to fit certain narratives. It is true that, generally speaking, you cannot miss fast enough to win a gunfight. It is also generally true that, a couple of solid hits to a vital area of the human body will stop most threats from continuing their nefarious actions.
It demonstrably does not require the same level of precision to stop a carjacker crawling through the driver’s side window of your vehicle as it does to stop a rapist, holding a knife to your teenage daughter’s throat, across her bedroom. Within the training paradigm of marksmanship training then, we have to establish two separate, but balanced metrics of performance. We have to determine how accurate we need to be, and we need to determine how fast we need to be able to make those shots, on demand.
This is, at the most basic level, the single most fundamental determinate of skill-at-arms with personal firearms, whether sidearm or carbine. It’s not simply a matter of “can you make the shot you need to make, when you need to make it?” More accurately, it could be said that the important question is, “can you make the shots you need to make, in the time frame you need to make them in?”
If you cannot reach the standards for accuracy, within a given time standard, there is no reason to try and complete more complicated drills. If you can achieve the standards however—whatever your standards are—then achieving success in more advanced, complex drills is simply a matter of putting the marksmanship into application. Multiple shot strings are really no more than a matter of repeated individual shots, completed in rapid sequence. Multiple target engagements are simply a matter of repeated individual shots, on each target, completed in rapid sequence.
Regardless of the weapon in question—carbine, pistol, or shotgun, hell, even light machine gun, for that matter—marksmanship at speed is really comprised of a few interrelated things: your grip on the gun, your firing position, your presentation or drawstroke and presentation, sight picture/sight alignment, and breaking the shot in a manner that doesn’t disrupt your sight picture. It’s really that simple.
Basic Marksmanship Drills for Rifle and Pistol
Inarguably, it is extremely critical, at the beginning of every single range trip, to start out with a focus on basic, deliberate precision and accuracy. The best way to achieve this is to begin every range trip, whether with pistol or rifle, with shooting basic groups.
Task: Group Shooting
This will help you reinforce your focus, throughout the forthcoming range session, on things like pressing the trigger in a manner that will not disrupt your sight alignment, taking the time you need to get the accuracy you need, and—perhaps most importantly—it will validate, or invalidate your zero (as an example, on a recent “fun” trip to the range, my Glock 17 was hitting consistently to the left by six inches. Assuming that I was “Glocking” the trigger, I slowed down and shot a clover-leaf group at 10 meters, and the rounds were still six inches to the left. I fixed my sights, and brought the POI back to the center of the 3×5 index card. Had I followed my own advice and shot the group to begin the trip, this would never have been a problem).
Your group can be any number of shots. The Army, for the entire time I was in uniform, doctrinally mandated three-round groups. Most good trainers will advocate for at least a five round group, assuming that at least one will be a flier. I am comfortable, with my rifles, shooting a three-round group, unless I “call” one of my shots as a flier. If you’re not comfortable with your ability to “call” your shots, then shoot a minimum of five round groups. With my pistols, I actually like to shoot a ten-round group most of the time. A ten-shot, one-hole group, punching out the center of a 3×5 index card is a pretty good confidence boost before you even start shooting anything else.
———-Brief Interlude for a Rant About Target Selection———-
There is a common belief among many trainers that you have to use “humanoid” or photorealistic targets for “combat training.” This is a persistent belief that, as far as I know, is based on the same flawed SLA Marshall “research” from World War Two that has convinced most of America that killing bad people is “unnatural.” We “need” humanoid” and photorealistic targets, in order to “overcome” our “natural, innate reluctance” to kill other people. It’s Pavlovian Operant Conditioning.
It’s also complete, unmitigated bullshit. I’m only going to say this once, so pay attention: IT DOES NOT MATTER WHAT FUCKING TARGET YOU USE, AS LONG AS YOUR MIND IS RIGHT!!!!
There is a reason that the best trainers out there switch back-and-forth between bulls-eye targets, silhouettes, colored dots, and even index cards. IT DOESN’T FUCKING MATTER!!! What matters is that you can, on demand, place a shot—or every shot—in as small a place as you have determined is necessary. I tend to rely extensively on basic buff-and-white IPSC standard silhouettes, when I am teaching classes. To make smaller target zones, I use 3×5 index cards and/or a Sharpie marker pen. In large part that is because I end up hauling a metric fuck-ton of stuff around the country with me when I travel to teach. I don’t feel the need to carry eighteen flavors of targets as well. I also come from a background that favored improvisation for achieving training goals in austere conditions. I am all about the “making do” mindset. My personal favorite target for training is a simple IPSC silhouette with a 3×5 index taped or stapled on it somewhere. In the center of the index card, I draw a circle around a quarter ($0.25 coin) with a Sharpie, then fill in the outline, as an aiming point.
If the only targets you can get your hands on are basic little bulls-eye targets from Wal-Mart’s Sporting Goods section? You’ll be just fine. Don’t sweat it. Even better, for about $5.00, you can buy a package of 3×5 index cards, a roll of masking tape, and a Sharpie, over in the Home Office section, and you won’t run out of targets for a fucking year or two.
If you WANT to drop the funds to buy super-duper, ultra high speed, photorealistic targets of Islamic jihadist “tangos” to make you feel all Tier One JSOC Jedi? More power to you. You’d be better off spending that money on ammunition though.
———-End of Rant———-
With the rifle/carbine, I like to start out shooting a group at 25 or 50 meters, followed by a “real” group at 100 meters (my optic is engineered to be zeroed at 100 meters, after all). I am looking for a legitimate two minute-of-angle group. If your personal or group standards mandate a 4MOA group, then that should be your goal. If your group standards are less stringent than 4MOA, you need to find a group that is fucking serious. If your personal standards are less stringent than 4MOA, you need to harden the fuck up, and set some legitimate standards for performance. If your weapon is not capable of 4MOA? As the late, legendary Whelen Townsend so eloquently said, “Only accurate rifles are interesting.” Get a gun that’s interesting.
With the pistol, I shoot my groups at 10 meters and 25 meters. I legitimately expect a three-inch or better group at both ranges. I also practice, and recommend, either after shooting your groups with the pistol, or alternating on different range trips, shooting these groups with the pistol strong-hand only and weak-hand only.
It is important to point out that there is a distinct, critical difference between precision and accuracy, and group shooting is where you have the opportunity to validate both of these, without the pressure of time constraints. Shooting a tight, 2MOA group, that impacts eight inches from the anticipated point-of-impact is precise, but it’s not accurate. Shooting a 10MOA group the center of which is dead center on the intended point-of-impact is accurate, but it’s not precise.
A precise group that is not accurate may be indicative of a sight misalignment, like my earlier reference, or it may be a matter of you making the same mistake every time (“Glocking” the trigger is a good example of the latter). Your group shooting should focus on achieving the perfection in both.
Task: “Snap Shooting”
The first shot you fire in a gunfight really will set the stage for the rest of the gunfight, for better or worse. It needs to be delivered with precision and accuracy, but it also needs to arrive in time. Snap shooting is the best method I know of to achieve that ability level. It is so important, the first month of each quarter, I will devote my entire range session weekly to nothing but snap shooting. I will literally, spend an entire hour—or two, when you count pistol—doing nothing but shooting single shot snaps (draw to first shot break with the pistol).
The hardest part of building speed and accuracy is getting into a good, solid firing position, with an effective grip on the gun that will allow you to break an accurate shot, as fast as possible. A very dear friend who happens to be a long-time instructor down at Gunsite, once pointed out to some mutual friends we were coaching one day, “it’s not about shooting faster. It’s about shooting sooner.”
That is SPOT-FUCKING-ON! It is going to take you—as an individual—a given amount of time to break the shot, without disrupting your sight picture/sight alignment in the process. That time will vary from individual to individual, and while it SHOULD get faster with practice, at any given moment in your development as a shooter, that time is non-negotiable. Trying to go faster means you fuck up and miss. It’s going to take you the time it’s going to take you, to break an accurate shot.
What you CAN do however, is move faster getting to the point of breaking the shot. That practice is best achieved during dry-fire. The key to this, of course, is that your dry-fire “shots” have to be legitimate. Hitting the designated/desired position, and then yanking the shit out of the trigger, without paying attention to the fact that your sights just jumped six inches on the end of your muzzle, is not doing you any good. It’s going to be detrimental. It will fuck your shooting up. Dry-fire is only valid if it’s valid.
For my live-fire visits, with the rifle, I start on the 100M line. On the timer, I will fire an entire magazine, one shot at a time at the target of the day. For my snap shooting, I’ll generally shoot steel, because I’m a lazy fucker and don’t want to bother walking downrange after every single shot to note hits and misses and tape targets. I start the quarter shooting an eight-inch steel plate, and over the course of the month, if I am making my time goals, I’ll reduce the size of the steel to six-inch plates. (My long-term, ultimate goal, is a sub-1.0 second snap shot, from the standing at 100 meters, to a four-inch plate.)
It’s important to point out that I record, in my shooting log, the time for every single shot. I note any misses as well. At the end of each range trip, I will average out those times to find my “par time” for dry-fire training for the next week. If I miss more than three shots out of a magazine, I know I’m pushing too fast and will deliberately slow down, taking my time. If I miss more than five shots, I’m obviously having a really shitty day, so I’ll just turn the timer off and focus on slow, deliberate aimed fire from that position and distance for the duration of the magazine. Generally however, on an eight-inch plate, I’m at the point that I can consistently get 100% hits at speed. My average, on demand par time runs between 0.85-0.9 seconds.
After my first magazine, and establishment of a par time, I’ll move up the 50 meter line and do the exact same thing, on the same target. Now, the target appears to be twice as large. While it would be nice if my times were twice as fast, the reality of how the human brain works means that my par time for 50 meters averages around .6-.7 seconds. Then, I step up to the 25 meter line for a magazine. Now, I’m looking at sold half-second par times, occasionally dropping one to 0.45 seconds. I’ve gotten a 0.39 second shot, exactly once, as I recall, without poring through my shooting log (In the interest of intellectual honesty, that was a fluke. I actually called that shot a “miss” before I heard the steel ring). My tested “pure reaction speed” is generally around 0.18 seconds (I test this by running the timer. With the weapon pointed in a safe direction, safety selector switch on “FIRE,” and finger already on the trigger, not even worrying about actually hitting a target, all I have to do when the timer sounds is squeeze the trigger. Testing this in classes, the average has been between 0.19 and 0.22, with three or four people total, over the course of a dozen classes, being faster than 0.16. I’ve seen TWO people that were at 0.14. One was a former fighter pilot). That means, even at a 0.5 average, I’m moving the gun into position, recognizing an adequate sight picture, and breaking the shot in roughly 3/10ths of a second. In my forties? I’ll take that.
Finally, I’ll step back to the 100 meter line and push myself to go as absolutely fast as possible. While I—obviously—want all of my rounds to hit the target, I don’t get upset if I miss either. I’m trying to push the limits of my ability. I EXPECT to miss! On this iteration, again working my way through an entire magazine, I only record the times on shots that hit. The average may only drop 0.01 seconds, but guess what? That’s 0.01 second faster than I was before. Over time, that will increase. I’ll be faster, but still hitting an acceptably challenging accuracy and precision standard.
Realistically, being able to get fast, accurate hits on targets, inside of 100 meters is the most important aspect of real-world combat shooting with a rifle, that we need to be focusing on. It is the NUMBER ONE priority for your carbine/rifle training. If I have time afterwards, and the range is long enough to make it possible, I’ll step back to 200 meters and beyond, and I’ll work snap shots from positions other than standing. At 200 meters, I’ll drop to the squatting and work on breaking my shots in less than 1.5-2.0 seconds. I’ll push out to 300, 400, and 500, and working on dropping into the prone and breaking my first shot in less than 3.0 seconds.
This standard is based on the doctrinal “3-5 second rush.” Assuming the guy I’m fighting is trained, I’m going to assume he’s well-trained, practiced, and disciplined. From the moment he moves, when I have an opportunity to notice him moving, and move to acquire a sight picture and snap my first shot, to get a hit, I have…three to five seconds…
That is ALL I do for my rifle live-fire range work, once a week, the first two weeks of a quarterly training cycle. I’m not going to lie to you. It is BORING as FUCK! But, as the soon-to-be-legendary Miss S, from the Arizona Rifle and CQB classes can attest, this very basic drill has led to the ability to make some pretty remarkable shots, on demand, as a result of this. That is the point. Not that I’m some sort of badass, or super-gifted, because I’m not. I’ve worked my ass of to develop those abilities. If you do the work, you will get the results you need to get.
The last two weeks of the first month of the training cycle, dedicated to marksmanship-specific training, I’ll continue doing the snaps, but I’ll generally just fire ten shots at each line, finishing the magazine with controlled pairs instead. This reinforces that my positions are not only adequate to get me on target, but are robust enough to allow follow-on shots, if necessary. The catch is, I do these the EXACT SAME WAY that I do the single shot snaps, and I record my times meticulously, just like the single shot snaps. The thing is, while I think a 0.15-0.2 split time between the first round and the second round in the controlled pair is eminently achievable at 100 meters, your split times only matter indirectly. If you punch a round into a dude’s head, or groin, with a rifle, inside of 100 meters, you’re going to have time to get a second one into him. The reason I note and record my split times is because it is indicative of the strength or weaknesses in my shooting position. If it is taking me longer this week to get my sights back into alignment to break my second shot, that tells me that my position is loose, because I’m not managing my recoil adequately.
For the handgun, “snap shooting” isn’t really “snap shooting” of course. We don’t—generally—walk around with a pistol in our hands. That’s why we carry them, every day, everywhere we go, right? Because, we can have it, in the holster, ready at hand, but out of sight to avoid scaring the shit out of stupid people, or giving away to a potential bad guy that we’re armed and prepared to respond to his shit. All Walter Mitty, Red Dawn fantasies of the coming conflagration aside—seriously, does anyone NOT realize we’re living in the midst of TEOTWAWKI, right-the-fuck now? Seriously—for the vast, vast majority of us, in the event that we have to (get to?) use a firearm in a contemporary context, outside of LEO or .mil work, it’s going to be our concealed carry sidearm. Sure, I keep my MK18 in the truck with us, everywhere we go. But…I don’t carry it into the goddamned grocery store like an attention-starved moron. I don’t walk into my mother’s house with my rifle slung over my shoulder (the poor woman is uncomfortable enough knowing that her “baby” is walking around with a Glock concealed somewhere on his person).
Being able to get to—and use—your pistol, at an expert level is, by any reasonable measure, inarguably more important than whatever your skill with a rifle. Most importantly is the FACT that you’re actually likely—assuming you’re actually carrying your gun, instead of just jerking off to it sitting in the safe—to have the pistol with you when Jamal Jihadi or Carlos Cartel kicks in the front door and starts shooting people. Second, skill with the pistol transfers across to the carbine a fuckton better than the reverse.
What is involved with “snap shooting” with the pistol? Obviously, sight picture/sight alignment and maintaining them via a steady position still matter, but just as important—perhaps more important—is being able to get the damned thing out, and into your hand, in a manner that will allow you to make your first shot break within the time standard you establish, and is robust enough to allow for rapid follow-up shot (because, it’s a pistol, and follow-up shots are WAY more likely to be needed than with any rifle).
“Snap shooting” with the pistol is the drawstroke to first shot break. Period. While a sub-1.0 second drawstroke from concealment, inside of 10 meters/30 feet (yeah, it’s actually 33 feet, I know.) is easily achievable with practice, I think being able to draw and hit a 3×5 index card, on demand, in less than 1.25 seconds is a reasonable standard. Yes, the “vital zone” of an adult male is significantly larger than that. If you’re happy with a six-inch circle, or an eight-inch circle, that’s fine, but a 3×5, working to develop the ability to put it into a 3×3 or even a 2×2 circle, at speed, especially at closer ranges (call it, inside of 15 feet?). It also gives you a greater margin for error when your hands are sweaty, and your shaking with nerves, because shit just got real, and you’re concerned about not missing the bad guy and hitting the wrong person…
After shooting my groups with the pistol, I’ll start at the ten meter line, and do a simple draw from concealment to first shot break, on the timer. With a double-stack Glock 19 or 17, I’ll run through two full magazines. The first will be with both hands working the gun. The second is shot, still from a drawstroke, strong-hand only.
I do the exact same thing with the pistol that I did with the carbine, except I’m drawing the gun from concealment, instead of coming from a ready position. I’ll move up to the seven meter line, and then the three meter line. Finally, I’ll move back to the ten meter line.
I’ll finish up shooting a group at 25 meters, just to reinforce precision and accuracy, before winding up.
Like the rifle/carbine, this is the entirety of my live-fire range visit with the pistol for the first two weeks of the training cycle. The second two weeks of the cycle, I’ll split the first magazine at each distance, shooting half the magazine, one drawstroke at a time, with both hands, before transitioning to the strong-hand only for the second half of the magazine. The second magazine at each distance is dedicated solely to controlled pairs, for the exact same reason I do it with the carbine.
The single most important shot you can fire in a gunfight is the first shot you fire. It’s going to determine the course of the rest of the fight. You can either make it hit, on time, or you’re going to spend the rest of your life trying to catch up and fix your mistakes…
Spending a significant portion of your training cycle doing nothing but working snap shooting and first shot breaks from the concealed carry drawstroke will go a very, very long way towards ensuring that your first shot does what you need it to do.