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Focus on the 25M target.

We were in town getting groceries this evening, and I witnessed two separate instances that made me physically ill with disgust.

Produce section of the local hippie grocery store:

As we’re walking in, I caught a black shirt with POLICE written in bold white letters across the upper back. Looking closer, I understood why it was so eye-catching: the shirt HAD to be a minimum of XXXL. Dude was an easy 150# overweight, with Dunlap Disease impacting his duty belt. As we walked through the produce section, we crossed paths with this dude and his young, skinny son. The LEO (with his duty belt on still) was looking through the pre-cut fruit selection, with his back to the world, including me. As a—relatively risky—experiment, I actually bumped into him from behind, with my shoulder, on his gun side.

Even when I followed it with, “Oh, excuse me. Sorry about that.” HE NEVER EVEN LOOKED UP…

Fast-forward half an hour, and we’d already left, when the wife remembered that we’d forgotten something, so I ran back in. As I’m standing in line at the checkout, again, there is another overweight dude, mid-thirties, standing in line in front of me, staring down at his phone, ignoring his young kid that was with him. The back of his shirt had a skull inside a crosshairs, and the legend, “Somewhere, your enemy is training hard to defeat you! Train HARD!”

Now, I have my issues with people wearing cool-guy motivational t-shirts, but I really can’t talk shit about that, since I wear them a lot too. What I don’t do, while wearing them, is bury my fucking nose in a cell phone, and not know what’s going on around me.

I followed dude out of the store, and saw that he was parked directly in front of my truck, so I followed him—not even unobtrusively. I actually hyped the aggressiveness in my body language, to see if he’d catch on. Nope. Not even when he stopped, and I kept walking towards him, and shoved a hand into my pocket, and got within five feet of him before I went ahead and went around.

So, what’s the moral of this?

Maybe Officer Friendly is starting a diet and training program. Maybe he just started recently. I’m not even commenting on the PT and nutrition equation. Maybe Dude #2 just finished a shooting course this weekend, and is wearing his moto shirt once before he hangs it in the closet and forgets about it. I don’t know.

What I do know, is I see this a lot. It’s not the young, fit dudes in their twenties who have their heads up their asses, ignoring the world around them. It’s the older guy who—if you asked—would be all over the “I’ve got street awareness and combat mindset on my side!” that end up being the guy who is stuck in normalcy bias. They are the guys who seem to be wrapped around this “Shit, ain’t nothing bad ever going to happen to me. I mean, I’m just going to the grocery store/movie theater/my grandkid’s school play/water park/whatever….”

If you’re taking a carbine class, or a CQB class, or a small-unit tactics class, and you don’t even have the skill set to keep yourself from getting jacked and raped in an alley? You’re probably focusing on the WRONG target.

Yes, the Apocalypse MIGHT happen tomorrow, and you’ll need to be able to shoot cannibalistic San Franciscans in the face at 500M with your tricked-out M1A. Yes, tomorrow you COULD be raided by Russian Spetznaz troops parachuted in to execute a top-secret extradition mission on you, as a leader of the “III% Resistance.” Yes, it’s POSSIBLE that, on your way to work, you could witness a vanload of MS13 gangsters carjack a Suburban full of University of Oklahoma cheerleaders, and have time to kit up and roll out heavy with your M4 and the dude who carpools to work with you might be similarly armed and equipped, so you apply your SUT training and rescue the princesses…..

But, you know what bad shit is far more likely to happen? It’s far more likely that you MIGHT get mugged at gun or knife point in the grocery store parking lot and lose your groceries, your cash, your bank card, and your pickup. It’s far more likely that—if you’re a cop or an open-carry activist—that some dick at the grocery store will grab your gun and run off with it, leaving you winded and embarrased, when you have to report the weapon stolen, and then you find out it was used in a mass murder.

This is not to say that you shouldn’t plan for and train for worst-case scenarios. I mean, if we take the “likely to happen” thing to its obvious conclusions, I don’t even need to carry a gun. I’m 6’1” tall, weigh 215#, am obviously athletic, and have no compunctions about telling someone to “back the fuck up.” I am remarkably aware of what is going on around me in public (as much a result of trying to keep track of a very independent-minded 5 year old as any inherent tactical gifts). The chances that I’m going to get mugged realistically rest somewhere between not happening and not a snowball’s chance in Hell of happening….but I still carry a goddamned gun, religiously, because I may have to step up for someone else…or that worst-case scenario could happen, and I could get carjacked by a gang of MS13 thugs.

So, to reiterate, we’re not saying “Don’t bother doing this, this, and that.” We’re saying, “If you’re doing this, this, and that, before you’ve achieved that, this, and this, you’re living in a goddamned fantasy, and you’d probably save money if, instead of buying gear and guns, you’d just take up Dungeon-and-Dragons or some shit.

Gun the fuck up and hone the edges on your ax.

Idaho in October–Combat Rifle

Upcoming Open-Enrollment Classes

2-4 OCT 2015—Idaho Falls, ID
Combat Rifle

This beginner to intermediate level course on running the rifle effectively, under field conditions, begins with basic square range work out to 200+ meters. Course work focuses on fundamentals of gunfighting, including practical marksmanship, gunhandling under stress, and critical decision-making skills development for discrimination and stress-fire shooting, before finally moving into the application of the fighting rifle in a team environment.

For enrollment-specific information, please contact HH6 at

For content-specific questions, contact me at

Cost for this class is $500 per shooter.

Skull-Stomping Sacred Cows: People Are Dying, Because We’re Weak

I’m watching the news, just like most of America is, of the shootings in Chattanooga, TN, by an ISIS operative. I’m as appalled, but probably not for the reasons that most of America is. Here’s why I’m appalled….

1) I see people, including military personnel, calling the shooter a “coward.” This is a cultural cognitive bias that we HAVE to get past, both culturally and individually. Let’s look at this honestly…

The shooter in TN was not “cowardly.” What he was was smart. It was a criminal act, but only because he was a naturalized American citizen, which means he was a traitor, when he attacked American servicemen. This was an act of war, by an enemy combatant, against UNIFORMED MILITARY PERSONNEL. Did he ambush them? Sure. He utilized the METT-TC available to him, camouflaged himself in the urban environment, and killed UNIFORMED MILITARY PERSONNEL.

This is a man representative of a culture stretching back centuries; a culture that still remembers when the Caliphate ruled from India to the Iberian peninsula. These aren’t “goat-fucking, towel-head, camel jockeys.” We like to browbeat them as “barbarians,” but both etymologically and anthropologically, they are not barbarians. They’re simply a culture with a different value system than ours.

They are our enemies, culturally, and we need to recognize that, but for a people who like to quote Sun Tzu, we seem to spend an awful lot of time trying to forget this maxim, ““If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

If we simply look at them as “goat-fucking camel jockeys,” guess what, we’re going to succumb in every battle, and we’re going to lose this clash of civilizations.

We’re at war. ISIS knows it. We use ambushes in war. So does ISIS. Dismissing this as some “cowardly” attack, rather than a planned military operation, against UNIFORMED MILITARY PERSONNEL, just because they were unarmed, serves no purpose whatsoever, except to make the average donut eating, couch-surfing, low-information voter, feel safer. “By Gawd! Them damned terr’ists wouldna have had a chance, if our boys’d had known they was comin’! Why, they’d have gunned up, dug fighting positions, developed range cards and sector sketches, and blown that sumbitch straight to his 72 virgins!” It’s a false narrative.

What we SHOULD be learning from this is “the enemy is NOT stupid.”

2) We spend a lot of time listening to moralists tell us how barbaric these people are. By OUR measure, today, yes, they are absolutely barbaric. I mean, they cut people’s heads off! They burn people! It’s horrific. Or, are we just pussies?

We used to do shit like that to our enemies. Everybody else in the world, except our “kindler, gentler” society does shit like that to their enemies. Sure, we have a different moral code than they do. Is it a moral code that’s going to result in us losing this, a multi-generational war? Julius Caesar put people’s heads on stakes. Caeser Augustus crucified people. The Puritans of Massachusetts fucking drowned women for “witchcraft.” We used to shoot and hang criminals.

Of course, our culture has “advanced” past that. We’re too “civilized” for that, these days.

I’m not going to argue with that. There’s a whole lot about contemporary western culture that I’m appreciative of. I like indoor running water. I like flush toilets. I like not having to worry about my daughters being killed by random strangers at the playground….errr…wait….

Maybe, just maybe, Sir John Baget Glubb, had it right, when he said we were decadent, and bound for a fall, because our culture had grown weak and soft. Maybe, had those Marines been armed, they WOULD have successfully defended themselves. After all, if there’s one thing the Corps does well, it’s indoctrinate their people with a warrior spirit.

Maybe, instead of worrying that people from other cultures will judge us by OUR cultural values, we need to consider that they’re only going to judge us by their cultural values, and to ISIS, the only thing that matters, is killing. If we really want to win against ISIS, maybe we need to start letting our guys that are on the ground over there start putting some heads on spikes, without having to worry about prosecution when they come home.

Maybe we need to offer a bounty on ISIS heads. “Hey, you bring me the head of an ISIS fighter, I’ll give you $1000.” Or, we can wring our hands and shed our tears over “how barbaric those people are,” as they continue doing what they think they need to do.

This is not civilization v. the barbarians. This is two civilizations, with different value systems, at war. Do we want to win, or not? It’s common for us to claim that the world has advanced beyond that behavior, but really? Only western culture has grown that weak.

3) About arming the Marines….It’s really popular right now (and always has been. I have to admit, when I started digging for the facts, I was shocked to discover that what I “knew” for twenty years, was wrong….) for people to blame Bill Clinton for the fact that US military personnel are not allowed to carry personal weapons on post. I did it for 20 years. I mean, come on, it’s Bill Clinton, a vile, despicable man…who is actually not to blame in this case.

Unfortunately, it’s the same old “Us v. Them” divisiness that politicians keep using to keep Americans divided, instead of focusing on the civilization we’re at war with.

Before we get into why it was NOT Bill Clinton’s fault that US military personnel are unarmed on post, let’s ask ourselves one critical question? If this was the result of a Leftist, anti-gun President’s Executive Order, why didn’t that paragon of Neo-Conservative, Pro-Gun patriotism, GWB, override the EO and allow military servicemen to carry again? Especially considering….WE WERE AT WAR!!!!???

Well, mostly, because it was not an Executive Order at all. The ban that took place, in March of 1993, was the result of a Department of Defense directive, issued in FEBRUARY 1992….Before Clinton was even elected. That’s right…the DoD (DoD Directive 5210.56) directed this under President George Herbert Walker Bush…so much for a Leftist, Liberal scheme to leave American troops vulnerable to attack.

The Army initiated the directive in March of 1993 as AR 190-14, which regulation specifically says it is intended to put into action the appropriate portions of directive 5210.56.

We can continue to blame Bill Clinton, or we can try to figure out why Directive 5210.56 was reissued in 2011, WHEN WE ARE AT WAR!!!???






Make no mistake, this is not a war of civilization versus the barbarians. This is a war between two civilizations. One remembers its heritage and is okay with that. The other one is embarrassed by its heritage and wants to convince itself that it’s “too nice” to do shit like that. Who do you really think has the edge there?

So, the John Mosby, Mountain Guerrilla solution to this?

Gun the fuck up. Hone the edges on your axes. Sharpen some stakes, so you have somewhere to put the heads, and pay the fuck attention to what’s going on around you.


Upcoming Training Opportunities

18-20 September 2015 Spearfish, SD

Close-Quarters Battle (CQB) Fighting In and Around Structures

This course has not previously been available for open-enrollment courses. The course starts with close-quarters marksmanship realities and shooting in non-permissive environments, before moving into external movement in built-up areas, and room-clearing methodologies, finally moving into methods of hardening structures to slow entry by hostiles. This class involves multiple iterations of both dry-fire and live-fire entries into single- and multiple-room structures in daylight and low-light. It also includes Force-on-Force entries, under varying conditions.

For enrollment-specific information, please contact HH6 at

For content-specific questions, contact me at

Due to the “last minute” scheduling of this class, complete balances for this class are due no later than 15 August 2015. Cost of the class is $500 per shooter. A $30 range fee per shooter is necessary, and may be paid at the range upon arrival. This class is taking place on a commercial training range, with a professional shoot-house structure.

9-11 October 2015 Skull Valley, AZ

Combat Rifle

This beginner to intermediate level course on running the rifle effectively, under field conditions, begins with basic square range work out to 200+ meters. Course work focuses on fundamentals of gunfighting, including practical marksmanship, gunhandling under stress, and critical decision-making skills development for discrimination and stress-fire shooting, before finally moving into the application of the fighting rifle in a team environment.

For enrollment-specific information, please contact HH6 at

For content-specific questions, contact me at

Cost for this class is $500 per shooter. If enrollment is combined with the CQB class the following weekend, the combined cost for both classes is $900.

16-18 October 2015

Close-Quarters Battle (CQB) Fighting In and Around Structures

This course has not previously been available for open-enrollment courses. The course starts with close-quarters marksmanship realities and shooting in non-permissive environments, before moving into external movement in built-up areas, and room-clearing methodologies, finally moving into methods of hardening structures to slow entry by hostiles. This class involves multiple iterations of both dry-fire and live-fire entries into single- and multiple-room structures in daylight and low-light. It also includes Force-on-Force entries, under varying conditions.

For enrollment-specific information, please contact HH6 at

For content-specific questions, contact me at

Cost for this class is $500 per shooter. If enrollment is combined with the Combat Rife class the preceding weekend, the combined cost for both classes is $900.

We have had a LOT of expressed interested in the Arizona classes. There has been enough interest expressed that—assuming everyone who said “I’m coming!” sends in their deposits, the classes will be full. If you want in to either—or both—of these classes, you need to contact us and get your deposits in ASAP. Deposits are due by 1 August 2015, with balances no later than 1 September.


We are still getting a lot of requests for classes in the eastern US. We are completely available to make this happen now, but we have to find places to hold them. If you are interested in hosting a class in the Midwest, South, or Northeast, please contact HH6 at

The Shooting Drill You’re Probably Not Doing Enough…Or Correct.

(I finally got some range time in tonight, after not getting to shoot much during the moving process. Spent a half-hour at 100 meters, doing nothing but this drill, with the AR and the AK. It’s one that seems mind-numbingly boring and basic, and a lot of really qualified guys hate it, because it’s been so abused and misused for so long, by so many. That’s too bad though, because–done properly–it really is probably the single most important practical, combat shooting drill you can do. –JM)

As I watched the “tactical shooting” training industry take off in the middle of the last decade, one of the things I found bemusing was the trend to get away from simple “Snap Shot” drills, often derided as “UP!” drills, after the shooter command of “Shooter, ready? And….UP!” I watched as guys coming out of different units, both SOF and Big Green, did anything they could to move away from this very basic, almost mind-numbingly monotonous drill. I understand—and understood—that the basic snap shot drill was all too often overused, while simultaneously, and at first glance, paradoxically, underutilized.

How is THAT possible? Trainers had/have a tendency to rely on the drill—especially in the military—because it’s simple, easy to run on a square range, with a large number of moderately trained (or even barely trained) shooters. That’s good in a way, because it’s actually, as we’re going to see, a very useful drill. In many ways, I argue, it’s the single most important drill you can do for effective combat shooting.

The problems arise—and they still arise for many, if not most, shooters and instructors—due to a piss-poor understanding of how to leverage the maximum amount of benefit out of the drill. When it simply becomes a rote thing, with no metrics for performance—and thus improvement—it loses the vast, vast majority of its benefit.

The Benefits

So, how can the most basic, beginner level drill you can run actually be the MOST important drill you can run? Well, first of all, as any good shooter, and all the great shooters, will tell you, advanced shooting skills are simply a mastery of the fundamentals. That’s obvious though, right?

The single most important shot you will take in a fight—and it doesn’t matter what gun you’re running—is the first shot of the fight. It needs to be accurate enough, and arrive soon enough, to rob the opposition of the initiative. So, developing speed and accuracy for the first shot is critical. Best way to do that? Master the snap shot drill.

But, what about all the cool-guy, go-faster drills that have you performing mag-dump after mag-dump on the range, focused on split-times, transitions between targets, and all the other “chicks-dig-it” Jedi gunfighter tricks?

I’m not saying those are not important. They are. What I’m saying is…

1) If you hit the dude in the dick…or the face…or well, really, anywhere, it’s going to buy you a margin of time. If your split-times are slow, but you’ve “interrupted his OODA loop” by putting a 5.56mm hole in his penis, guess what? You’re probably going to get a chance to shoot him again, even with a slow split-time.

Yes, you should be able to engage with multiple, aimed rounds, at a high rate of fire. Nevertheless, getting that first hit will go a long way towards allowing you to get the others, even if they’re not sub-half second splits.

2) One of the most important things we learn when we do “snap shot” drills CORRECTLY, is exactly how much precision we need in order to get as fast as we can get, at different ranges. I need a lot less precision to get a head shot in less than one second at 10 meters than I do to get a torso shot in less than one second at 100 meters… This carries over to target-to-target transitions, because our neural pathways between eyes, brain, and trigger finger, are being exercised and trained to recognize how much precision is “enough.”

3) Building the neural pathways to build a solid, stable, durable firing position that will allow you to get a first-round hit at various ranges, as fast as possible, will facilitate all the other shooting skills you need with that particular weapon.

But, How Do I Do It Right?

The first step in utilizing snap drills to their full benefit is establishing metrics. HOW are you going to define success? Just by hitting an E-Type silhouette? That’s the standard that caused a metric shit-ton of heartache with most of the military, when the military started recognizing the importance of CQM shooting. Hitting an E-Type silhouette is simply not adequate. Hitting an E-Type silhouette at 10-25M is a really, really bad joke.

So, step one is defining a more challenging target. If you’re shooting snaps at 10-25M, or closer, focus on a target the size of an index card or smaller. Since I’m kind of a lazy bastard, and don’t want to walk downrange every shot, to check my target, I just use a 6” steel plate.

At 50-100+ meters, I genuinely believe a C-zone silhouette is adequate. If you look at the size of it, it’s roughly the same size as the center portion of the upper thoracic cavity of an adult male. That’s “enough” precision, even at 200 meters. If you end up being a little outside in the real world? A rifle round will still fuck his week up, and it will generally slow him down enough to allow you a follow-up shot. Further, there’s nothing stopping you from painting a smaller circle on the C-zone to refine it further. Once I had my snap shots consistently under 0.9 seconds on a C-zone, at 100M from the standing, I started using an 8” steel circle instead. When that’s consistently a comfortable level below the one-second mark, I’ll drop to a 6” steel at that distance.

One issue that we see a lot in training people who have a traditional American view of what marksmanship is–”I kin shoot a gnat off a fly’s ass at 300 yards, by Gawd!”—is that they want MORE precision than is actually necessary. This of course, sounds like heresy, but it’s really not. We all love precision shooting. I like printing a one-hole group with 10 rounds at 100 meters. Unfortunately, that level of precision takes more time than we probably have, when the other dude is trying to get his “comments” into the conversation. He will probably not be overly concerned about placing his shots precisely in your heart, but even if he “just” shoots you in the leg or arm, it’s going to have a seriously detrimental effect on your precision anyway, so you HAVE to learn to know what is—and accept—“good enough.”

This issue most commonly arises, in my experience, when guys are running optics. I love optics. I will never willingly move to the sound of the guns with a rifle that is not equipped with decent optics. Unfortunately however, people have to understand that just because you CAN be more precise with optics doesn’t necessarily mean it’s always the RIGHT choice. So, one aspect of utilizing the snap drill is accepting that “perfect” really IS the enemy of “good enough.” This isn’t an attack on precision shooting, or even a suggestion that precision should be ignored. I still spend a lot of time, every range session, working on precision, and once I’m able to shoot “fast enough” and “precise enough,” then I can change my definition of “precise enough” to something more challenging.

So, step one in correctly utilizing the snap drill is establishing an EFFECTIVE level of “precise enough.” Once you have established what your standard of “precise enough” is, stick to it, but start focusing on achieving it faster. How fast is “fast enough?” I can’t tell you that. If you’re stuck fighting a guy who is really not committed, and is a lousy shooter, five or six seconds might be “fast enough.” On the other hand, if you’ve got a trained, aggressive shooter, with a lot of gunfights under his belt, sub-1:00 second might barely be fast enough… or it might not be fast enough.

Generally speaking, I tell people that, realistically, from the standing, low ready, they need to be able to move into any given firing position, and engage a target of the above dimensions with at least one aimed shot, in less than three seconds. Why?

Because, doctrinally, we teach the use of a 3-5 second rush, and under fire, that really does tend to shorten towards the three second end of the spectrum, for obvious reasons. If I can get a hit in less than three seconds, on a reduced-size target, when reacting to a cue, and the dude takes three seconds to get to a position of cover, then I’ve got a pretty solid chance of actually getting at least one round into him. Whether that one round drops him where he is, or he gets to cover, and then tries to move again, it’s still PROBABLY—GENERALLY—going to slow his roll a little bit, increasing the odds that I’m going to get to hit him again.

Anyone of reasonable health and fitness can achieve a sub-3:00 second first round hit snap drill, even if they’re dropping into the prone. Seriously, if you can’t, with even just an hour or two of training and practice…..take up cooking. You’ll be a lot more useful to everyone, and you’ll live longer.

Realistically though, ultimately, you should be pushing that speed barrier, as long as you’re still shooting “precise enough.” When you find a barrier that you can’t get faster than, without missing, it’s time to focus on solidifying your skill at that speed. Focus on performing the skill properly, at speed, and pretty soon, you’ll be able to break your new barrier. This is not about “how fast can I shoot.” It’s about “how fast can I shoot properly?” As the old adage goes, “you can’t miss fast enough to win.”

I don’t consider myself particularly gifted athletically. I have to work my ass off for everything athletic I do. If I can consistently break sub-1:00 snaps at 100m, and sub-2:00 snaps dropping to the prone, there’s no reason anyone cannot.

The problem with time metrics on the snap drill that has often arisen in the military, is the lack of emphasis on that metric. For entirely too long, the mantra has always been “slow is smooth, and smooth is fast.” While appealing, it’s only partially true. Yes, in order to go fast, you’re going to have to have smooth, well-developed biomechanics. Unless you’re willing to push your speed until your biomechanics start being “not smooth” though, and then focus on smooth again, at that speed, you’re just engaged in martial masturbation. It’s like doing a kata or something, with the rifle.

The drawback to the time metric though, is that it becomes THE GOAL. That’s not the way it’s supposed to be. It’s just a metric. It’s a way to measure your performance. That’s the problem with standards. If you establish them low enough for people to achieve easily, they achieve that and say, “Meh. Good enough.” If you set them high enough that they might actually be, well…”good enough,” then people get discouraged and give up. So….your “standard” is “precise enough,” as fast as you can…and then a little faster.

It’s Not About Shooting Faster

The purpose of the snap drill is genuinely not about shooting “faster.” In the real world, shooting faster actually tends to have rather deleterious effects, like shooting the wrong fucking person, because you shot before you recognized that it was your 12-year old, and NOT a MS13 gunslinger.

Our goal is to shoot “sooner.” What’s the difference? Shooting sooner is about working the problem correctly, and only making legitimate shots, as soon as possible. That requires more than a fast target acquisition and a quick trigger finger though. It involves knowing and understanding what the parameters are that allow for a legitimate shot, in your circumstances, and then—and ONLY THEN—breaking a FAST, ACCURATE shot. Being able to recognize what is “precise enough,” and then delivering it “fast enough,” wil allow you to shoot sooner, AFTER the decision-making process has allowed you to positively identify your target as a legitimate target.

The time metric just forces you to accept “accurate enough,” instead of pushing for “precision.”

Snap drills will develop your ability to make the decision “THIS is accurate enough,” at the speed you’re capable of making the hit. Whether it’s the first shot of the fight, or it’s the first shot on the last bad guy still standing; even if it’s the second or third or fourth shot in a string of shots to put a motherfucker on the pavement, that recognition of “THIS is accurate ENOUGH” is valuably developed with snap drills for a time metric.

No one is suggesting—or at least, I’m not suggesting—that you shouldn’t perform other drills. Sam Culper and I are actually working on a forthcoming project for Forward Observer that will provide a new training drill every month (along with all the other shit I’ve got on my plate). The basic snap drill however, should be—and should remain—a bread-and-butter staple of your training diet. It will increase your ability to deliver a solid, first shot hit that may allow you more time to get follow-on hits. It will increase your ability to recognize “this is accurate enough” under the stress of time constraints.

I often tell people in classes—and I believe it to the depths of my soul—other than a firearm (and a holster, if we’re talking about handgun work), the single most important training tool you have available to you is a shot timer. While ammunition is obviously necessary for live-fire training, I’d take a guy who has a shit ton of good dry-fire training on a shot timer, over the dude who has plinked at targets with live-fire, but no metric of performance, any day of the week and twice—maybe thrice—on Sundays.


I was speaking via FB Messenger with a friend who is a currently serving NCO, and a long-time Army all-around shooting instructor. He offered the following variation to the basic snap drill that I really like the idea of as well.

Group Therapy
One of the harder parts of training alone is randomization. We have all been there when you are getting really fast time because you know when you are going to hear the beep. Tonight I was talking to Mosby and had a thought. While I haven’t shot this yet, I am certain it will work, suck, and answer the random portion.

Equipment needed: Weapon, Smart phone, Shot timer

Additional items needed: Friends (harder than it sounds)

Setup: Most smartphones allow for a custom vibration pattern to be made. Build either a one second buzz or a quick buzz/ 1 sec pause/ buzz. Base time off your goal for the day

The Drill: Send a group text to a few friends. Start shot timer and assume ready position. On the buzz from the first reply, fire shot before time is up. Do this for each buzz. If your times are consistent, set alert tone for a single ping, then text some antagonism to the friends who love to text. That should make for an interesting and random range session.

Auxiliary Taskings: MISO Soup for the Survivalist Soul

We live in a world where information is everything, at least in the minds of most people. Between local, cable, and satellite television providers offering information access to the most remote corners of the globe, to the Internet, we are often overwhelmed with a plethora of complex, rapidly changing—and often intentionally wrong—information being thrown at us.

METT-T considerations have changed drastically from the days when I was a young private, in many ways. When we consider the amount of information available to even the most remote peoples on the planet, the OCOKA terrain feature of Key Terrain has undergone a fundamental shift from focusing solely on the geographic to include human terrain factors of relevant affected populations. Additionally, the addition of Civilian Considerations, changing METT-T into METT-TC additionally emphasizes the critical nature of the perceptions of affected populations on the impact of planning and operations.

In Unconventional Warfare (UW) of course, we’ve long recognized the criticality of both the physical presence of the local populace, such as when Mao referred to the “sea of the people,” and their perceptions of what is occurring around them. For the survivalist/prepper tribe, whether comprised of a dozen individuals, or a dozen families, recognizing that you are—regardless of any other mitigating factors—a very small group, surrounded by vastly superior numbers, for better or worse, makes the importance of possessing a well-developed set of capabilities and plans to engage local and regional audiences with messages that support your goals and desires, self-evident to all but the most dense. To borrow a quote from the Department of Defense, “The informational, cultural, social, moral, political, and physical aspects of the operational environment are as critical to operational success as the traditional orientation on adversary military capabilities has been in the past.

The methods used for leveraging these human terrain factors in our favor are referred to currently as Military Information Support Operations (MISO). This is the term du jour within the DoD for what have previously been referred to as Psychological Operations, or PSYOP. In previous articles on this blog, we’ve spent varying amounts of time and bandwidth discussing PSYOP/MISO, at the tactical planning level. Today, we’re going to try and think a little larger. This is in an effort to demonstrate some of the shortcomings in the current preparedness culture efforts (or lack thereof) towards MISO, and potential ways to remedy these.

Doctrinal Considerations
According to the DoD, MISO are “used to establish and reinforce foreign perceptions of US military, political, and economic power and resolve. In conflict, it is a force multiplier that can degrade the enemy’s relative combat power, reduce civilian interference, minimize collateral damage, and maximize the local populace’s support for operations.

If we are capable of practicing basic sound thinking, we can adapt that statement to fit our specific needs quite readily. We may or may not be interested in foreign perceptions, but we certainly need to make certain that we are conveying a coherent, congruent message to the unaligned portions of the American populace. It’s entertaining and self-aggrandizing to sit and stew and spew epithets about the “brainless sheep” of American society. There’s obviously even some truth in the defamation. In my experience however, there are far more people in America who are pissed off, but feel powerless to facilitate effective changes to the status quo than there are people who “just don’t give a shit.”

On of the tenets of UW has long been that there will be a small number of active supporters, a small number of active opponents, and the vast mass of the populace who just don’t give a shit, because they’re focused on making a living and keeping their families alive. The goal of MISO in UW is to convince that vast mass to either a) actively support your efforts, or at least b) not actively oppose your efforts. The failing of the preparedness culture is in achieving either of these two goals. This failure is typically instigated as a result of the arrogance and hubris of the “movers and shakers” of the preparedness movement. I’ll let you in on a secret. Let’s call it “Mosby’s MISO Maxim Number One.”

“When you insult people, you lose the ability to convince them.”

Calling people “brainless sheep” is, regardless of what you might think otherwise, pretty insulting. So, as soon as you do so, you’ve just lost the ability to positively influence their thinking and actions. The same applies, in large part, to trying to intimidate them. Very few people consider themselves cowards. An overt attempt to scare people into compliance is generally not successful, outside of cultural norms. Sure, the government can intimidate people…they’ve been culturally conditioned to fear the government’s power. Yes, the Mafia can intimidate people….they’ve been culturally conditioned by the media and history, to fear the power of the Mob.

The only thing that people have been conditioned to feel towards the preparedness and Patriot community is ridicule, often times by our own efforts. Trying to intimidate people, through an amateur-hour MISO effort, is no different than the little chess club geek in high school deciding he’s going to buffalo the star quarterback into not picking on him anymore. If he tries to intimidate him, physically, he’s going to fail, dismally. He has to leverage his intelligence to communicate the message in a more effective manner. Trying to physically bully the quarterback is going to get him laughed at, mocked, and probably stomped on.

If we intend to survive the decline of empire; that period when the empire is most ready to stomp on the necks of dissidents, in a futile attempt to retain power, we have to learn to leverage everything within our grasp, to our benefit. MISO is one of the most cost-effective methods of doing so, if we can do it intelligently. Through it, we really can degrade the empire’s relative combat power. We can reduce civilian interference and maximize the local populace’s support for our efforts, but we have to do so by NOT BEING A DICK.

The fact is, most of what passes for MISO efforts in the community today achieve the exact opposite effects. Too many people prattle nonsensically about “martial law,” without ever bothering to do the basic arithmetic that illustrates the impossibility thereof. Too many influential voices in the community blather about “fighting off SWAT teams,” in the same article that they’re telling people they should “fear the rise of the police state.” Messages like this are incongruent, AND they actually strengthen the government’s relative combat power, by creating an aura of invincibility.

Further, they degrade local populace support for your efforts, and increase the likelihood of civilian interference, by demeaning a group of people—police officers and the military—that most people actually support, at least in their own minds, even if they get pissed off when they get a speeding ticket. We can spend all the time we want talking about how “the police don’t do nothing for me. I got my own guns to stop criminals.” The simple fact is, however, that most people not only have zero interest in shooting motherfuckers in the face, they appreciate paying taxes to support those who they believe will do it for them.

If your goal is overthrow of the “tyrannical, socialist” government of the United States, well…you’re probably an idiot…no. Belay that. You ARE an idiot, and your MISO efforts are wasted. The vast, vast majority of Americans, regardless of political affiliation, love their country, and the ideals they believe it represents. See, that’s the catch in nation-state political efforts….Truth may be universal (I’m not so sure, myself), but reality is a matter of perception. The flag-burning, Occupy Wall Street protester believes that the ideals he holds dear are just as “American” as you believe your ideals are. The middle-age suburban housewife who believes the government is always doing things in the best interest of “the American people” is just as sincere in her beliefs as you are. Trying to convince her otherwise is certainly worth the effort, but convincing her to make the leap to “Hey, let’s jumpstart the revolution, and overthrow the government!” is a pretty big leap to make.

On the other hand, if your MISO message is, “Hey. We’re different. We’ve got different goals and different dreams, but that’s the beauty of America. If we can all let each other do our own thing, within the realm of getting along, we’ll be just fine. That’s all I want…to be left alone,” then your message is a lot more palatable to the vast mass of the body politic than “If you don’t do what I want, I’m gonna string you up with a hemp rope.” See, that’s an attempt to gain political concessions through fear. That’s the textbook government definition of “terrorism,” and “everyone” knows terrorists are evil jihadists.

The MISO end-game for preparedness has to be the development of a theme that will be palatable to the masses, while still achieving the goal of “degrading the enemy’s relative combat power,” while “minimizing civilian interference, and maximizing the local populace’s support.”

The Role of MISO in Local Security

Doctrinally speaking, MISO are used in Foreign Internal Defense (FID) and Security Force Assistance Support operations to “prepare key audiences for US FID and Security Force Assistance operations, and to directly assist the host nation in establishing an environment that promotes internal stability and security through democratic systems (I’m not sure if I read it in an older manual, or if it’s just something someone once told me, but I recall “democratic systems” being “traditional local value systems” in the past. I believe it’s also a better fit in the real world.)”

In our context, the relation should be obvious. The purpose of our MISO efforts is to directly target the thought processes of key audiences that will assist in establishing an environment that promotes internal stability and security within the community. This means identifying those key audiences and developing a MISO product that will a) reach them, and b) convince them.

Each target audience will have to be the target of a specific message, delivered in a manner, and through a means, that is likely to be effective, specific to that target audience.

MISO Planning Considerations

1) The first step in developing a MISO program is understanding that the messages have to be congruent. This requires planning, because all messages have to be integrated into the overall vision and intent of the general concept of operations. If your goal is to establish local security and stability, then telling people they should go out and kill XYZ group of people is incongruent. Even if XYZ is a violent outlaw gang, and they do need killing, telling people to kill them is NOT congruent with the message of “stability.” On the other hand, convincing them to provide intelligence information about XYZ so that the recognized authorities—within the “traditional local value system”—can deal with them, WOULD be congruent with the overall message and concept of the operation.

This is where the importance of planning and tying all elements of the planning together becomes self-evident: everything has to reinforce a planned narrative. For those who have studied, or are studying, the efforts of the political Left Wing of the modern American political system, will recognize this as a key element within their successful advances against Western Culture. The fact is, the preparedness culture sucks at this.

2) The next aspect of MISO planning is Target Audience Analysis (TAA). TAA has been previously discussed, in some detail, on this blog. The importance of this cannot be overstated. Sending out a message developed to convince a group of 50-something Baptist housewives is NOT going to have a good effect on a group of 50-something outlaw bikers, let alone a group of 30-something outlaw bikers. The goal of TAA is to determine who your specific audiences should be—with as much specificity as possible—as well as the best methods to persuade that target audience to change its behaviors to one that is more favorable to your interests.

3) Series Development is the third step in MISO planning. This involves designing a series of products and/or actions that are specific to the task of altering or impacting the behavior of each SPECIFIC target audience. Part of series development is determining the suitability and potential to affect the intended audience, in the manner intended. As well as the accuracy of persuasive arguments or techniques to influence behavioral change, and the availability of the resources necessary to effect the series.

The “accuracy of persuasive arguments or techniques” is a critical issue to consider in an Internet-connected world. Traditionally, we’ve made ample use of blatantly false information, knowing that fact-checking, and/or sourcing the background information, would be prohibitively difficult, leading people to simply accept it at face value. While that still works, as evidenced by the ongoing alarmist calls about “Russian invaders!” and “Martial Law Imminent!” in the preparedness community, and how quickly they get passed around social media, it is actually a significant risk for the product developers.

An example of this can be seen in the photo recently circulated across social media, of a younger (still ugly as sin) Hillary Clinton, with the Southern Cross battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia sitting on a shelf in the background. Initially, this seems like a great MISO scoop. I mean, we’ve got one of the Left’s leading voices apparently using the flag as a moral support. Here’s the problem: within a day, it was outed as a fake, created with photo modifying software like PhotoShop. There are too many people, with entirely too much time on their hands, who WILL discover technological enhancements to MISO product like that. Additionally, once they discover a glitch or anomaly, they will track down the original source material, and make that public as well. That instantly discredits your entire message in the minds of most of the vast mass of the unaligned. “Damn, they lied about this. What else are they lying about?”

Of course, this works both ways. If the altered document had originally been created by Hillary’s own people, then the information “leaked” that it was a fake, created by her opposition, that is a MISO success for her campaign efforts. If a story is a lie, but enough people WANT to believe it, they will.

This leads us back to the importance of coherence and congruity in our own MISO effort messages. The biggest reason the pro-Western Culture movement has been so readily ridiculed and demeaned is this total lack of coherence. While this is often obvious between groups or factions within this movement, it is just as commonplace within single groups or factions.

4) Following the conceptual development of a series of MISO product, you have to actually put it into production. This requires an objective understanding of what resources you have available to you. This is more than, “well, this, this, and this are available.” Broadcast radio is “available.” That doesn’t mean you’re going to get access to it. You might even be able to get a selected spokesperson interviewed by the media, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. Utilizing resources that allow you to control the message actually conveyed to the target audience is crucial.

The Internet is an obvious solution, but may not be the panacea that it appears. The signal-to-noise ratio of the Internet is so high that, outside of some way to make your efforts more noticeable to your specific target audience, it may simply disappear. Additionally, you may find your efforts discredited—even by apparent political allies. On the same hand however, a well-developed MISO effort, coordinated between a few different people, and built specifically for the target audience of the given forum, can be a spectacularly good MISO effort.

A further detriment to Internet-based MISO is the fact that some of your target audiences may—almost invariably will—be underrepresented on the Internet. This means that, at some level, you still have to be able to perform face-to-face MISO efforts. Those may range from hanging out and being a good conversationalist, to handing out leaflets. The last still requires basic conversational skills to answer specific questions that may arise.

5) The fifth step in the DoD MISO planning cycle is gaining approval from higher for the developed product. While the preparedness/patriot community lacks any sort of formal hierarchical organization that provides a “higher” to get approval from, there are still methods that can be used to determine if a given product can/should be disseminated. The product developer should NOT be the person who determines if a MISO product is disseminated. Whether that individual passes off the completed product to a group within his own tribe for review, or the tribe itself hands it off to several affiliated groups for review, someone outside of the development process SHOULD review the near-final product. This review should focus on the coherence and congruity of the message, it’s validity in regards to the target audience, and the accuracy of the message. If the message is intended to be disinformation, how easily can it be refuted? If any of these subjects is weak, the product should be pushed back to the development team with specific guidance on the shortcomings, in order to be fixed/changed.

6) Production, distribution, and dissemination is the sixth step of the MISO planning cycle. This may not be as self-evident as it initially seems. As a big, scary, tattooed and bearded dude in my early 40s, if my group has produced MISO product targeted at teenage girls or elderly women, I’m probably not the best vessel for dissemination of the product to the target audiences. The teenage girls will either be scared shitless, or their dads will assume I’m going to molest their daughters. The elderly women—especially in my neighborhood—are as likely to call their minister, thinking I’m the Devil hisself, as the police. In either case, allowing my wife to disseminate the product to those target audiences might be more effective.

On the other hand, at least in the second case, I might be an okay means of dissemination. Shave, wear a suit, or at least a shirt and tie, and I can blend in pretty well, in some sort of role that they would be more accepting of. On the same hand, cleaning up would allow me to talk to LEO to distribute a product more effectively, while keeping my image, but throwing on a service-related t-shirt or ballcap, and leveraging my background, makes presenting product to servicemembers or other veterans, extremely viable.

7) The final step in the MISO planning cycle is arguably the single most important step. That is evaluation of the effectiveness of the specific product. This requires some means of determining who the product reached, as well as a metric for determining the specific effectiveness thereof. This should be determined BEFORE the distribution and dissemination stage. We need a method of determining how effective our product is in altering the behavior of the specific target audience. Producing something that we want to use as MISO, with no way determine its effectiveness, is nothing but ego gratification. “Hey, look at me! I make pretty pictures! I write funny memes.” Well, good for you Princess, but if you lack a specific metric, then you are just as likely to be fucking yourself as helping yourself.

MISO Enablers

There are a few things that are absolutely necessary to produce effective MISO products. We call these “enablers,” because they, well…enable the production of effective MISO products. The first of these is a solid, effective intelligence collection and analysis effort. We need to know what human terrain factors are present, as well as identify them for targeting. If you don’t know who the different groups that are potential target audiences in your geographic area, you have no idea how to start producing effective MISO product.

Additionally, your intelligence operations have to ACCURATELY identify threat groups. I’ll let you in on a secret….it’s probably not the Chinese or Russians, as an honest, valid intelligence operation would make self-evident. The obvious source for Intelligence Operations Information for the preparedness community should be Sam Culper’s efforts. An introductory course in tactical intelligence, as a springboard into higher order intelligence efforts, is covered in The Reluctant Partisan Volume Two: The Underground, as well.

In addition to intelligence operations, effective MISO is predicated on effective communications. In addition to the ability to properly identify potential target audiences, there needs to be an ability to communicate the effectiveness of the product.

This is more than amateur radio, semaphore, and dead drop message boxes, although each of those might be elements of the communications issue. What we’re referring to here, specifically, is the ability to openly and accurately communicate ideas and concepts in a manner that all parties understand. Conversation after all, is not as simple as “I said this. You understood this.” Often times, even amongst people that speak the same language, it turns out “I said this. You understood that.” Any married person has probably experienced this in their own lives. We need to develop the ability to communicate, within our own groups and tribes, in a manner that we all understand one another.

We also need the ability to communicate our MISO product in a manner that the target audience can understand. This is one of the biggest shortcomings I see in the MISO efforts of the preparedness culture. The disdain for contemporary culture manifests itself as a complete ignorance regarding that culture. Which is fine. I despise much of contemporary culture. If this disdain reaches the point of completely ignoring contemporary culture however, you lose the ability to communicate with target audiences in terms they can understand. We’ve been indoctrinated to believe the current dogma that “cultural sensitivity” requires us to “like” or “approve” of the customs and traditions of the foreign culture. That’s simply not the case. What we DO have to do however, is be sensitive to what the members of that culture believe, and why they believe it—regardless of how misguided they may be—in order to communicate with them in a manner and verbiage that they understand.

The final critical enabler to discuss is logistics. Whatever MISO product you decide to use to most effectively reach a specific target audience, you have to have the material goods necessary to develop that product. If you want to print leaflets, but you lack access to a printer…’re going to fail. If you want to transmit radio messages, but you lack radios…..

Putting MISO In Context

We are constantly surrounded by MISO efforts, for better or worse. These efforts are so common that often, we no longer recognize them for what they are. Below, we will discuss some of the recent and current MISO efforts ongoing in America, and my personal approach to dealing with them.

1) Television. There is a show on the television channel FX called “The Americans.” It is about 1980s Soviet deep cover spies living and operating in the US. This show is a postcard example of MISO. It portrays the very people who were dedicated to overthrowing our country as the heroes and likable protagonists of a story line that was well-received enough to survive multiple seasons.

When my wife bought the first season on DVD, I watched it, thinking, “Huh, this should be interesting.” Then, about two minutes in, I realized what was going on and discovered I had to continue watching it, just to see such a masterful display of MISO.

2) The Gay Marriage Issue. The political right is getting hammered on the gay marriage issue, and has been for a long, long time. I’ll take the risk of offending a large segment of the readership by saying, I believe the Supreme Court made the right call (keeping in mind that this doesn’t mean I agree with it).

The standard argument is that “marriage is between a man and a woman.” That’s absolutely correct, when we’re discussing “holy matrimony.” That is a religious institution, and as such, is subject to religious definitions. On the other hand, as long as the State is involved in marriage, through the issuance of marriage licenses, giving its blessing or withholding its blessing on specific unions, there is a difference between “holy matrimony” and “marriage.”

The catch of course is, the State is not supposed to be allowed, under our system, to bias against any religious group (Don’t get your knickers in a twist, I get that they’re perceived to be biased against Christians). That includes non-religious people. As long as the State is in the marriage business, the Court was obligated to recognize the legal validity of gay marriage.

If you don’t like it, you need to be working on either a) getting the State out of the marriage business, or b) changing the Constitution to implicitly recognize the Christian faith as the “State Religion.”

So, that’s the route I take in my MISO efforts. “Look, I’m not pro-gay marriage. I’m anti-State issued marriage licenses. If you get the State out of the marriage business, then you don’t have to recognize gay marriages if you don’t want to.”

Further, the argument that courts are infringing on the religious liberties of small business owners by fining them for not producing wedding cakes for gay couples is flawed as well. It’s been long established in this country that businesses are not allowed to discriminate on religious grounds. Period. That’s a factor that comes into play as soon as you apply for a business license from the State. If you ask permission, you’re allowing the controlling entity to place limits on that permission.

The important caveat to the entire discussion, within the context of this blog, is that I’m neither for or against the gay community, as a whole. I just don’t care. I’m not gay. My wife is not gay. If my children end up being gay, they’re still going to be my children, so regardless of whether I approve or disapprove of their lifestyles, I will still love them. If being gay IS a choice, and the actions of the gay community “turn” my kid gay, that’s a failure on my part in parenting. I’m not convinced it is a choice, personally. In fact, I sometimes wonder if those most vocal about the “choice” are just afraid they’ll like the taste of dick. Ultimately though, the whole subject is irrelevant to me…except that I genuinely believe in the “right of free conscience.” Oh, and I will fight to my last breath, the imposition of any sort of theocratic government. If someone believes that being gay is okay, and they are gay, as long as they’re not infringing on someone else’s rights, by like, ass raping them, it’s NONE OF MY BUSINESS. “Liberty for Thee is Liberty for Me.”

3) The Southern Cross. I was raised in the South. I love most of the traditions and cultural values of the South. I find it humorous though, that so many “rugged individualists” have allowed their opposition to so completely control the dialogue regarding the battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia. The reality is, if you want to fly that flag, then fly it. You don’t need to justify it. You don’t need to explain it. If people ask, then you can take the time to educate them. Most people however, don’t actually give two shits, and arguing with a True Believer is not doing anything but wasting your efforts.

In point of fact, arguing with True Believers, publicly, is doing more than wasting your efforts. It’s countering your efforts. The general public didn’t give a shit about the flag prior to the Charleston shooting. The Left saw a way to get people riled up, and they jumped on it, KNOWING their opposition would rise to the bait (to use a Southern, redneck fishing term). If the “MISO” efforts of the Right (I’m looking at you, pretty much the entire Conservative news and social media establishment!), had replied with “huh. Dumbass had a Southern Cross flag. Okay.” and then ignored all of the efforts of the Left to get them riled up, it would never have been an issue (the fact that I’m even typing this section is an anomaly, since this is the first thing I’ve said—anywhere outside of conversations with my own family—on the subject).

The MISO lesson in this is that cultural icons are MISO products. Discrediting those icons discredits the culture they represent. That would seem to make it necessary to jump to the defense of those icons, and rightfully so….sometimes however, ignoring the attempted attacks on those icons is the best defense. Responding to ignorant attacks simply lends credence to those attacks and the attackers’ messages.


The importance and effectiveness of MISO efforts have long been recognized. The fact is, as a community, those of us who value traditional, liberal (in the classical sense of the word) Western Culture, pretty much suck at MISO for a variety of reasons, and we’re losing the culture wars as a result. Far more effort needs to be made in this area if we are not to find ourselves drowned in a flood of oppositional values.

While fitness, gunfighting, and SUT are all critical skills for surviving the decline of empire, an understanding of how MISO works—both for us and against us—and learning how to develop and produce effective MISO products, is as critical, if not more so, than the hard skills.

We Become What We Do: More On Mindset

I spend a lot of time listening to people try and explain that their mindset is so bulletproof that they don’t need training. They seem convinced that they are the exception that proves the rule. They’re a special, unique snowflake that will survive August in Arizona, because they have a patent on the secret of mindset uber alles.

The problem is, if experience in both winning and losing has taught me anything, it has taught me that mindset is a skill. Like any skill, the more you practice it the better you will become at that skill. Practice enough and that skill will hardwire itself into your brain. Unfortunately, also like every other skill, mindset is a very perishable skill.

Of course, “practicing” combat mindset or “killer instinct” would seem to be rather challenging for most of us, in our daily lives. I mean, most of us, whether combat veteran or not, are simply not walking around every day, worried about getting caught in the kill zone of a well-executed near ambush. Fortunately, there’s a lot to be said for treating physical training (and, for the record, although I will use some PT examples in this article, I’m not speaking specifically about PT per se—although it certainly fits—but any training that naturally encompasses a physical expression) as mental training as well.

Training has a mental aspect that matters at least as much as the physical expression of the training. If you don’t believe that a goal is attainable—or even if you just don’t believe that the goal is attainable for you personally—then you’re not going to achieve it. It doesn’t matter if the goal is hitting a sub-one second first shot from concealment, a sub-seven second El Presidente with your pistol, a 1.5x bodyweight front squat, or surviving and winning a gunfight with eight coked-up Zetas armed with PKM machine guns and RPG-7s.

Aristotle famously wrote, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit.” What you do is what you become. If you don’t do something, you’ll never get good at it. If you used to be good at it, but don’t do it anymore, relying on what you could do during your “Glory Days,” you’re fucked.

One of the most common arguments I hear concerning why people cannot train is either age or genetic related—and the aging issue really is genetic at its foundation as well. “I can’t do that. I’m too old/broke/decrepit.” “I can’t do that. I wasn’t blessed with the genes for that. I’m not some super-duper ex-Special Operations gunslinger!”

Well, here’s good news for you. Geneticists have found that DNA can be chemically altered by some regulatory proteins. In response to signals from your environment, such as external stressors affecting your brain, the genes you were born with can be switched on or off. It’s not changing your DNA, it’s changing how your DNA is expressed. Honestly though? This is kind of like my doctor (MD type) who keeps telling me “You’re not gluten intolerant. It’s actually very rare, and unless you’ve been diagnosed by a doctor, you’re just not.”

Well, okay, motherfucker. But, I had the shits for twenty years straight. Then I stopped eating shit with gluten in it, and the diarrhea went away. Now, maybe it’s not actually the gluten that my body rejects. Maybe it’s something that comes with the gluten. I don’t know. I do know though, that functionally, my happy ass is gluten intolerant. You may not be able to change your DNA, but if changing the expression of that DNA does the same thing, I might as well be able to change my DNA, right?

So, how do we change the expression of our DNA, through the manipulation of our environment. Through practice. Practice though, is not just a matter of logging hundreds or thousands of hours of uninspired hours of doing something. HOW we practice matters as much—or more—than how much we practice (everyone remembers the NCO who preached that “practice doesn’t make perfect! Perfect practice makes perfect!” right?). This is the difference between the hero of mythic legend that faces the dragon and saves his tribe, and the mewling serf in the fields, simpering about being barbecued, after spending years beating on a tree with a stick, pretending he was a warrior in training.

It takes deliberate practice, which has been defined as “considerable, specific, and sustained efforts to do something you can’t do well.” You develop expertise by pushing yourself to the limits of your comfort zone of competence…and then a bit further, to the point of failure. Then, you work at that point of failure until it is well within your comfort zone of competence, before pushing forward again…and again…and again…Deliberate practice is about walking the precipice that is the edge of your current ability without making for an unrealistic challenge. It’s going to the deep end of the pool by holding on to the edge, when you’re learning how to swim, instead of being helocast out of a Blackhawk, into the Atlantic in December ten miles off the coast, in Scout-Swimmer gear, and being told, “Sink or swim, Bitch!”

Deliberate practice is weeks, months, and years of practice gradually chipping away at the margins, building skill and expertise gradually. It’s Stoicism in practice.

The other dude might be younger. He might be gifted with better, more athletic genetics, but ultimately, it’s how he has used those genetics and youth that are going to make the difference. If this mythic athletic Adonis has exercised his abilities by eating Twinkies and watching American Idol, instead of tossing kettlebells around, or going to the range with his pistol, an ammo can of 9mm, and a shot timer, while you—the old, less gifted guy—have been religious about doing a little bit of PT every day, dry-fire daily, and getting to the range at least once or twice a month, guess what? You’ve BOTH changed the expression of your DNA, so his “better” genetics no longer count….at least not as much.

Of course, you MIGHT still lose, despite regular, religious, rigorous training. The other guy might have been training too, AND had better genetics. You might just have a really, really shitty day. You can’t control that. You can control YOU. So do so. That’s our goal: to stop worrying about what the other guy is doing, and focus on improving ourselves by thinking of training as deliberate practice instead of just another chance to fuck off at the range.

The Impact of Stress: Becoming Anti-Fragile

Legendary researcher Hans Selye argued that stress—whether physical or mental/emotional—comes in two distinct flavors. Distress is one. This is what we normally think of when we’re stressed out. It’s both a psychological and a physiological impact on our bodies. This is what the SEAL candidate is experiencing during Hell Week, the Ranger candidate gets during Ranger School, and the SF candidate gets during SFAS.

Some of our training NEEDS to be this. It still won’t come particularly close to the stress of actual combat but your brain—and your body—needs the experience of extreme distress, and the anti-fragility (to borrow Nasim Taleb’s term) that comes with surviving and rebounding from it. Ideally, we want to experience it under controllable conditions, so that the stress levels can be ratcheted up or down, depending on the tolerances of the individual trainee(s) and the principles of progressive training.

If one of your guys shows up with a potential member candidate, let’s say it’s Fred from marketing, and you dump his ass off, blindfolded, in the dark, with a 75# ruck, a map and a compass, fifty miles from civilization, and tell him he’s got 24 hours to be at the parking area for the rendezvous, if he wants in, that’s probably taking it an extreme.

On the other hand, if your core group of guys have been training together once or twice a month, for a year, this could be a completely reasonable “crucible event” for building frith and esprit de corps through “mutual exclusivity.” Give it a cool name like the “Survival March” or “Hike from Hell,” or something, and it’s a team-building exercise, even if it’s done solo.

Selye also identified another type of stress though, which he termed eustress (I’m sure there’s some Latin or Greek meaning to it, but I don’t know what it is). This is a low-level of stress that actually has a positive long-term effect on the homeostasis of our physiological and psychological systems. We thrive on it, in an evolutionary sense, because it’s the type of stress that actually drives evolution. We push out of the comfort zone a little bit, and our body adjusts to overcome the stress. Then, we repeat it, and our body repeats its recuperation and recovery process. It’s not a massive effort. We’re not even overloading the body or mind, really. It still has a beneficial effect in the long-term however.

An example in PT would be the difference between adding one pound to the barbell, versus jumping up ten pounds on the bar. In shooting, it would be the difference between improving your shot time by a tenth of a second, versus a whole second. Either of the two extremes might be possible, in the short term, but it’s going to kick your ass in the process. The less stressful progressions might take longer, but you’ll see a two-fold benefit in return. One, it won’t fuck your week up by piling too much stress on at once, and two, you’ll be able to continue progressing longer, before you have to back off and recover a little bit.

For most of us, no longer professional soldiers, who have the obligations of families to support and jobs to go to, most of our training SHOULD be of the eustress type of stress. We have to go to work on Monday, so doing a mini-Selection every weekend that leaves us broken, battered, bruised, and blistered, is just not an option. Fortunately, it’s just not necessary. Sure, our crucible event COULD happen tomorrow on the way to work, and we’ll be fucked, but….probably not. We can get by with the incremental improvements in the margins, because we’re PROBABLY not going to war tomorrow, or even next week.

If we do, and we haven’t done enough? Well, that’s one of those things outside of our control, isn’t it?

If I can only hit something with my pistol by taking three seconds to draw, find a sight picture, and squeeze the trigger, but tomorrow I need to be able to do it in 1.5 seconds, or I’m going to die, then yeah, I’m fucked. If I’ve got until fall though, or until next spring, and I can shave one tenth of a second off each week, I’m golden. Which is a more realistic approach?

Sure, I could spend eight hours a day practicing my drawstroke, and I might drop a second and a half in a week…MAYBE. Probably not, but it COULD happen, especially if I went to a coach who was that much better than me, and could point out the errors in my current methods. Of course, if I spend eight hours a day practicing with my pistol, then I’m not going to work, not spending time with my wife and kids, and will end up having to pawn the pistol to pay for a bottle of Boone’s Farm wine when I’m a homeless, unemployed bum whose wife left me…and rightfully so. Plus, since I won’t have the pistol anymore, to maintain my practice, in two weeks, I’ll be back at a three second drawstroke anyway.

It would be far better for the durability of my skill set—and my life in general—to take the time to make the incremental improvements along the margins, and really master the skill. We become what we do.

If I need to hit a 300# front squat (1.5x my bodyweight, roughly, depending on what I’ve been eating that week), to meet the physical standards of my training group, and I can only hit 135# today, I’m probably not going to get there by adding ten pound per week. I’ll plateau way too soon (the caveat I’ve experienced myself? If you were previously able to hit that, and your strength dropped quickly, due to injury or illness, and you started lifting again as soon as you were able to, you MIGHT get close to the old level at 10# per week).

If I add 1# per day though, I’d be there in six months or so (and before some would-be physiology expert starts chiming in with “overtraining” and “linear versus wave progressions” and “you can’t lift every day,” just…don’t. If you feel you must, go do a Google search for Bob Peoples and his records—as well as his training program logs—before you bother. Please?). There will a reduced chance that I will injure myself in the process, as well, leading to increased durability and consequent anti-fragility. I’d bet a silver dollar that NOBODY would argue that if their 5RM was 135#, that tomorrow they couldn’t do 5 reps with 136#, would they?

Of course, you don’t always see your best improvements by just aiming small and settling for mediocrity. Once in a while at least, you need to go big and push yourself into the distress side of the spectrum. Whether it’s PT, shooting drills, SUT, or just a challenge like, “Hey, I’m going to do a linear traverse of the Wind River Range!” lots of small doses and the occasional extreme will generally serve you better than sticking to the mediocrity of using the gradual, incremental process. Even Milo didn’t JUST carry the calf until it was a bull. He also got in the ring and wrestled his way to Olympic fame. That’s why he’s a legend we still talk about, centuries later.

Making It Mental

Success and failure are up to you. This is not some New Age, feel good, self-esteem building horse shit. Beliefs DO matter. Success isn’t just about who you are, it’s also about who you THINK you are. Optimism—practical, realistic optimism—is a necessary precursor to the production of success. You’re simply more likely to continue pushing, meeting those daily challenges—or even facing the setback of abject failure—if you legitimately believe you can succeed.

Again, this is NOT some libtard, progressive, Little Engine, “I think I can, I think I can,” bullshit. I’m not saying you can wish yourself white to black, or male to female. What I’m saying is, sure genetics matter, but not as much as determination and will. Given two people, let’s say they’re hypothetically identical twins—the results of their training programs are going to vastly different, based on their outlooks. Yes, genetics matter, but claiming that environment doesn’t impact genetics is as stupid as pretending that genetics don’t matter at all.

The problem with Americans today is that our minds are as weak and soft as our bodies. We want to have our cake and eat it too. We want to bask in the luxury of middle-age comfort, but still be a bad ass. People want to believe that running a two hour obstacle race makes them a “Warrior” or a “Spartan.” Others want to believe that wearing a bunch of cool-guy kit and a homo Hoplite velcro patch will make them one of Leonidas’ 300. Well, tough shit…It doesn’t work that way.

Sure, going to a shitty job, five or six days a week, for 40-60 hours, is a form of self-discipline. Unfortunately, it’s really a form of eustress that is very specific to…well, surviving a career in a shitty job, and not much else. It’s really only hard in the beginning, and then your body and mind adapt to it. Sure, it still sucks, but it’s not a challenge anymore. It’s just…work.

The cool part is, we can leverage that into training, and improve both our physical and mental performance. If we focus on the little bites, the eustress form of training, it becomes not so much something to fear and dread, but just….work.

It’s really easy to get distracted from preparedness training, because it’s always WHEN the shit hits the fan. We really are the frog in the pot, not recognizing that the water is already at a very high simmer. So, we let ourselves get distracted. We need to construct our training, goals, and reward/consequences in shorter, more immediate blocks. Doing that however, requires the discipline of planning, and then the self-discipline of sticking to the planned program, including reward and punishment.

In the interest of always attributing brilliant ideas to the people who came up with them (because really, let’s face it, I’m just not that fucking smart), one of the best writers in the strength training industry today is undoubtedly Dan John. In his book Mass Made Simple, he describes a weight loss program he attributes to Tony Robbins (Yes, THAT Tony Robbins), called the Alpo Diet. Now, I’ve never been to a Robbins Seminar, but if Dan says that’s where it came from, I’ll take his word for it. According to Dan,

“ goes like this: Invite a dozen friends over to your house. Tell them that by the end of the month you’re going to lose 10 pounds. Tell them if you don’t, you’ll eat the can of Alpo in front of them. For the next week, every time you feel the urge to take a piece of chocolate from the cubicle next to you, reread the contents of the Alpo can. If someone offers you something smothered in goo, open the Alpo can and take a good deep sniff. The Robbins approach is based on the principle that most people would rather avoid pain than embrace joy or pleasure.”

The problem with goals and goal-setting, whether in PT or preparedness in general, is that it is really, really hard to get someone to buy into the promise of future benefit, to overcome momentary pain. So, there’s two ways to approach this.

One, we utilize the eustress principle of training. Instead of making it super challenging, so it hurts to do, and we’re sore and broken afterwards, we just do a little bit. Pretend it’s a doctor’s visit when you were a kid, “this won’t hurt at all.” Chances are, it actually won’t, if you keep your aim small. Think marksmanship: “aim small, miss small.” If you aim for a 50# jump in your squat, you’re probably going to fail spectacularly. If you aim to add 1# a day though? That’s cake! If you try to jump in and score Master on the IDPA Classifier, the second time you pick up a gun, after your CCW class, you’re probably going to fail dismally. But, taking a pistol class, then working on your drawstroke, then working on the fundamentals of marksmanship, then working on transitions, then working on improving each aspect, on the margins, pretty soon (relatively speaking), you’ll be shooting Master and wondering why the fuck people are whining about how challenging it is!

The second aspect of approaching this is to devise a way to punish yourself if you don’t achieve your training goals. Think back to the discipline of going to the shitty job. Why, when you first started, and realized, “Holy FUCK! This job SUCKS! My boss is an asshole!” why did you keep going? Because it beat the shit out of the alternative of being unemployed and broke on pay day, right? So, you overcame the momentary discomfort by focusing on avoiding the unpleasant.

The same works for training. I can’t tell you what negative consequence to devise for yourself to convince you to go to training. Maybe it’ll be the Alpo Diet? For some people, it’s all about the ego. “I don’t want to look like a pussy in front of my friends, so I better get to the gym.” “Geez, I don’t want the hottie at Crossfit to think I’m lazy. I better get my rainbow compression socks on and go!”

For others, it might require a trade. “Hey Honey, if I don’t do my fifteen minute dry-fire routine every night before bed, I’ll take you to that damned French restaurant that costs $50 a plate, that you like so much.” “If I don’t do my squats this week, I’m going to have my wife drop me off twenty miles from the house and I’ll have to walk home.”

So, true story about motivation? I took a month off from PT, about three months ago. I did it on purpose, for a project I’ve been working on, in order to run a trial test. At the end of the month, I found myself doing five classes in six weeks, back-to-back, with moving my family halfway across the country in the process. That one month quickly stretched into two months. Then, we spent a couple weeks looking for a house to move into and starting a new job. That one month became two and a half months. So, suddenly, my habit of doing PT had become a habit of NOT doing PT. Now, I had to get back into doing PT, but I’d developed a habit. It was comfortable to sit on my ass and focus on other things like writing Book #3, or playing with the kid, or running 30 minutes to town to go to the grocery store.

Besides, it’s a lot hotter and muggier here than it was in Idaho, and who wants to do PT in the heat when they’re not acclimated, right? That really sucks. It’s a lot more comfortable to sit in the air-conditioned house and read a book. I mean really, even when I was teaching the classes, I could still outperform the students physically, so I’m probably good, right?

Of course not, so I started thinking about doing PT again. I set up my squat rack and power cage. I got all the barbells, plates, kettlebells, and sandbags out of the storage unit. I got out my interval timer and my weight vest…and I went in the air conditioned house. Holy shit, it’s hotter than three feet up the Devil’s ass out there! And muggier than Harry Potter’s aunt!

Then I started thinking. I feel better when I do PT. My aches and pains from old injuries; my arthritis doesn’t act up so much when I’m doing PT. I need to be physically stronger and more conditioned than the bad guys, in order to protect my family. Those are all really good reasons to get back to doing PT, right? So, I sat down and dialed in a little more of the PT program project…in the air conditioned house.
My wife decides, “Hey, I need to join a gym. I’m going to do Crossfit. I’ve talked about for over two years. I’ve been pregnant for two years, so now, I’m going to do it.” Great. Awesome! I took her to the local Crossfit box and enrolled her. Then I sat and watched a class. And felt like shit, because I wasn’t doing PT. That was a Thursday, probably two weeks ago. On Monday, she was supposed to go back for her next WOD. I went with her, and signed up myself, and the older kid (Crossfit Kids. Not the adult program. I’m not THAT much of a dick…). Then, I did a WOD. It wasn’t bad. Not a lot of weight. I did squat cleans for reps and a lousy 165# (normally, my working weight on squat cleans is around 225#). On day two, I did front squats at 225# (my normal working weight three weeks ago would have been around 275-280 for reps). So, I sucked, bad. By day three, there was no way I was going back, without a rest day. Even the wife needed a rest day. No one would have thought less of me…No one would have known…if I had just taken that day off and been lazy after work.

I knew however, that skipping, even that one day, would set me up to skip the next day as well. “Oh, I’ll just go on Friday. That’ll get me a good one in before the weekend, and I’ll be ready to go hard next week.” That was the mind trying to mindfuck me with the pleasure cure. Instead, I went out in the yard, and did a kettlebell workout. Nothing super intense. Nothing super long. Just a quick, easy kettlebell session, but it got me moving, despite being sore. It also helped me get back into the HABIT of doing PT.

That’s the goal of the eustress approach. Even when you just don’t feel like training—regardless of the type of training—do SOMETHING. My negative consequences were four-fold.

1) If my wife is doing Crossfit and I’m being a lazy piece-of-shit, pretty soon, her conditioning level is going to surpass mine, and it would be really embarassing if I had to have her demonstrate shit in classes, because I was too fat and lazy.

2) Once I committed to doing Crossfit, by signing up and then showing up, I was committed to not looking like a pussy in front of the hipsters at Crossfit. I mean, if a scrawny ass feminist studies major can show up and do Crossfit, I damned well better, right?

3) As a teacher, I am obligated to teach by example. If I show up to a class and am obviously not in shape to perform, who the fuck would take me seriously, regardless of my background, and why the Hell should they?

4) I am responsible for the safety and security of my family. There is a major gang problem where we now live. If I’m not in shape and conditioned for the fight, how the fuck am I going to fulfill that obligation? They’re going to die. I actually like my wife and kids, so I don’t want them to die.


Ultimately, it doesn’t matter who we were. It doesn’t matter what we’ve done in the past. We become what we do. If we sit around and let ourselves get old, fat, and decrepit, guess what? We become old, fat, and decrepit. It doesn’t matter if we were a bad ass in our younger, Glory Days.

It doesn’t matter if you were a feminist studies major in college (okay, yes, it does actually, but I’m not judging….much). If you’re showing up and doing man shit, every day, you’re going to become a fucking man. Lift heavy shit, you become strong. Shoot fast and accurate, you’ll become a fast and accurate shooter.

I read a couple things recently, that had lines that stuck out to me, and embedded themselves in my memory. One of them was from Christopher McDougal, the guy who wrote Born to Run, about the barefoot Indian runners in Mexico, and is largely credited with revitalizing the barefoot running movement. In his latest book, Natural Born Heroes, he talks about the ancestral health practices on the island of Crete, and the role that he hypothesizes they played in the Resistance there, during World War Two (for those that don’t know about that particular theater during the War, it’s a good introduction to that as well). In it, he discusses the idea (and I’m paraphrasing this here, so….) that the heroes of the myths and legends weren’t accidents. They weren’t born that way. It wasn’t an accident. The art of the hero was passed down, father to son and teacher to student. The art of the hero wasn’t about being brave. It was about being so competent that bravery was never an issue.

If we are “preppers,” or “survivalists,” who want to help America—The Idea, survive, then we need to strive for heroism. We need to be willing to place ourselves between the threats to our families, traditions, and values; between our way of life, and those that threaten it. It’s not about bravery. That’s the “I’m going to die on my hill” mindset that doesn’t do anybody a bit of good. Then, you’re just a dead guy. We need to focus on the type of mythic heroism that McDougal was talking about.

Somewhere amongst my readers, I am convinced, are the Achilles, the Hectors, the Egil Skallgrimssons, and the Ragnar Lothbroks (I’d throw some Asian and African legendary heroes in there too, but, well….I don’t really know those legends…) of a new era. Someone out there is the Arminius of our time. That guy is not the one bitching about John Mosby telling him to do more training. He’s the guy who is already out there training, and when I start blathering about doing more training, he’s laughing at me, because I took two and half months off from PT. He will become the hero of future myth, because he’s doing the work of the hero. The Art of the Hero is training, and somewhere, the Arminius of our time is training.

As McDougal pointed out (and again, I’m paraphrasing), “just because no one YOU know is living up to the heroes of the myths, doesn’t mean no one ever has, or ever will again.” I can toss example after example of guys in Afghanistan and Iraq that have done things that would have made Achilles look like a fucking charlatan, and would have sent Hector running, screaming, to hide behind Andromache’s skirts. I’ve heard of—and seen—men do things in our own time, that would have made Ragnar shit those hairy breeches he was famous for.

Don’t assume that just because you haven’t, means you can’t. You become what you do. What will you do?

Post Script:

The other thing I read that jumped out to me was a writer’s preface in one of the dozen or so books I’m currently reading. Paraphrasing again, it was basically that author’s write as much for themselves as they do for their readers. In that author’s case—and definitely in my own—the process of writing becomes a way of working things out, sorting through certain dilemmas.

In my case specifically, a large part of the motivation for writing this blog has always been working through the problem of tying what I learned as a SOF soldier into my life now, experiencing the decline of the Empire, as I try to protect my wife and children, and raise those children in a world that is completely different, in so many ways, from the one I knew as a younger man.

One of the realizations I have made, and I’ve discussed this in detail in Volume Two of The Reluctant Partisan, is that the traditional prepper/survivalist fantasy of roaming the woods as a light infantry force is largely just that…a fantasy. Sure, it might happen, for some people. For most of us though, the focus HAS to be on what doctrinally, we would call the Underground or the Auxiliary. We have to keep our day jobs, and keep functioning in a rapidly decaying society, simply because at this stage, the alternative is just not an option.

I firmly believe, in the depths of my being, several things that have been influencing this blog for quite a while now, and will continue to do so into the future:

1) the fundamentals are still the fundamentals, and mastering those concepts will allow you to adapt them to different situations and environments. As Emerson wrote, “As to methods, there may be a million and then some, but principles are few. The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods. The man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble.”

In both this blog, and my classes, I will continue to use “methods” or “techniques” to illustrate the underlying concepts, but as I’ve always told students in classes, I leave it to the student to ultimately decide how he or she chooses to express those concepts technically.

2) The basic areas that we need to master include the obvious of shoot, move, and communicate, but even more important are more broad domains include tribe-building through the development of frith, good decision-making skills which are predicated on sound, logical thinking skills, and physical health and fitness, which allow us to exercise all of the others.

Honestly, if all we taught our kids was logical thinking, to live fit and healthy, and to protect themselves from physical and emotional harm, I’d say we’d done a damned fine job of raising them. If all I can offer you are lessons on those subjects, with my personal experiences as the vessels for explaining and teaching them, I’ll be content with my public service.

It is my hope that you still find yourself getting something of value from this blog. I assume you do, or you’d not bother reading it any longer (and because the number of subscribers keeps inching its way up. We’re now past 1600!). If so, do me a favor (and this will be my once annual commercial), and go buy a copy of The Reluctant Partisan, Volume One and Volume Two, so I can convince my wife to let me spend time working on book three instead of doing silly shit like mowing the lawn. If you’ve already bought a copy, do what a reader in Oregon just did, and buy five more copies of each to give as gifts!




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