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Advanced Skills

My buddy, Paul Sharp, of Straight-Blast Gym—Illinois, and proprietor of Sharp Defense, posted the following on Social Media:

When people start talking about advanced techniques my eyes cross. There are no advanced techniques. There are fundamentals honed to perfection through conscious effort. Then there is the application of those fundamentals against ever increasing challenges. The mechanics don’t change, our understanding grows so we’re able to apply the technique against higher and higher levels of resistance. As we advance we face greater resistance and better opponents which causes our understanding of the hows, when’s and why’s to advance. The mechanics remain the same. We become advanced.

Sugar Ray Leonard’s jab wasn’t magically different. His ability to hit anyone he faced at a world class level with his jab was the difference between basic and advanced.

During his seminar JJ Machado taught us all the same guard recovery technique. A guard recovery technique I had been taught my first month of jiujitsu. His ability to apply that technique against the best grapplers in the world is the difference between basic and advanced.

Bruce Gray presented my duty pistol, (a DAO S&W 4586), from a duty rig and hit the A zone of a target that was 25 yards away in a little over 1 second. He used the same draw stroke, mount, and trigger press he had been teaching me. He didn’t teach an advanced drawstroke or trigger press. His ability to make hits in those times with less than optimal equipment was the advanced understanding and application of the technique.

The point is; there is no secret sauce aka advanced techniques. There is advanced application and there is only one way to get there. High level coaching, and practice.

This is something I’ve discussed in rifle and pistol classes for a long time now.

One of the hardest things for me as a teacher is expressing to people that the “basics,” or “fundamentals” we are doing ARE the advanced, high-speed shit. I can demonstrate a drill, in exactly the way I showed the students how to do it, and explain, step-by-step that I am doing it exactly how I just demonstrated and explained it. Invariably, someone will then ask me to show them what I did different…

For fuck’s sake, dude….

There are four basic aspects to using a gun in the anti-personnel role:

  1. You need to be able to hit what you need to hit, in order to elicit the desired response, as many times as you need to hit it, in order to elicit that response.
  2. You need to be able to get the gun into the fight soon enough to make a difference.
  3. You need to avoid shooting anyone or anything that is not doing anything that warrants shooting.
  4. You need to be composed enough to make good, appropriately correct decisions, in order to achieve 1,2, and 3.


There are no secret squirrel techniques to running a gun. Anyone that tries to sell you that shit, like some bad, 1990s TRS full-page magazine advertisement, needs to be beat about the head and shoulders with something dense and damaging.

In the example above, what I did different, is that I have performed the skills of that drill hundreds of thousands of times over the last three decades. I’ve done it in the morning, afternoon, and in the middle of the night. I’ve done it refreshed and well-nourished, and I’ve done it after parachuting into the darkness, and then humping a ruck for 15+ kilometers, through the woods, to get to the range.

The difference is not in the technique. It’s in the practiced application thereof.


Let’s look at how we develop the four aspects above.

  1. You need to be able to hit what you need to hit, in order to elicit the desired response, as many times as you need to hit it, in order to elicit that response.

    At a very basic level, this is what basic marksmanship training and practice is about. If you can’t hit an appropriately sized target, you’re not going to achieve #1. I’ve seen a lot of “instructors” and “experts” who considered any hit on a silhouette as “adequate.” Thing is, it MIGHT be. If you are confronted with an uncommitted mugger, at conversational distance, even one hit might be enough to stop him from doing whatever he is doing that warrants you shooting him.
    In the acid-rain washed, dystopian future that we are living in however, that may not be adequate. What if the bad guy is wearing a Semtex waistcoat, shouting “Allahu Akhbar!” and shooting up a shopping mall? Your one hit on his silhouette may very well hit that vest and blow it, him, other bystanders, and you to Hell. That is what some would call a “bad outcome.” In a case like that, what you are going to “need to hit” is his brainbox, to shut him down, before he can trigger the bomb.
    Or, the bad guy may be a drug-fueled berserk that spent the last five years throwing around heavy pig iron in the pen, and your one round in his silhouette hurt him less than his former cellmate ass-raping him did, so he isn’t going to stop. Now, you need to either centerpunch that dude’s head, get a lot more than one hit on him, or get ready to give up your virginity.
    You want to be able to hit what you need to hit, in order to elicit the desired response, as many times as you need to hit it, in order to elicit that response? You need to be able to get precision hits, at varying distances, under any conditions. Above, I mentioned being able to run a particular drill under any circumstances. That’s what needs to happen. Too often, when I discuss dry-fire practice with people, they bitch about not having time, or how their wife nags them when they take the time.
    That’s actually beneficial. You think your wife stresses you out when she bitches at you? Try staring down the muzzle of a gun, and listening to rounds zip past your head. Use that stress to add value to your dry practice. Get up twenty minutes earlier and do it. Oh, you’ll be tired? Great. That makes it MORE effective. If you can do it tired, doing it well-rested is cake.
    You were going to go to the range today, but it was snowing, and -20F? AWESOME! Get your ass to the range! You think bad shit only happens in fair weather?
    There is nothing advanced about marksmanship. It’s simply being able to execute basic marksmanship and gunhandling, under any circumstances.

  2. You need to be able to get the gun into the fight soon enough to make a difference.

    You want a super-reliable, fast, resilient draw from concealment? Take twenty minutes a day, and grab the timer. Set your par time, and beat it for twenty or thirty reps. Every. Single. Day. For the next year. And then do it again, for another year. Then repeat.
    In a Clandestine Carry Pistol class, almost invariably, everyone manages a sub-1.25 second draw to first round hit (and the ones that don’t get it within 1.5 seconds) to an index card, at 10 meters. You know how big an index card is? Roughly the same size as the “instant incapacitation” zone in the center of the human head. It takes most classes about half an hour to get there. And, by half an hour, I mean something like 200 repetitions of the draw, on the timer, getting faster and more efficient.
    You want to master the carbine? Don’t go take ANOTHER class. Take what you’ve already learned, from a reputable trainer, and practice it. You’re solid in your positions, and can consistently get hits out to 600 meters? Great! Now, work on getting into position faster, and getting your hits sooner. One of the things we work on in my carbine class is going from “standing ready” to getting a hit, on a reduced silhouette, from the prone, at 100 and 200 meters, from the prone…in less than 2.5 seconds. You know what? Something like 95% of students manage it within twenty minutes.
    Of course, in that twenty minutes, they’ve done well over 100 repetitions on the timer. I don’t need to add silly shit like burpees to “get their heart rate accelerated.” It’s already a smoker. You know what though? They also learn, quickly, that they can hit that metric, even when they are physically exhausted.

  3. You need to avoid shooting anyone or anything that is not doing anything that warrants shooting.

    I’ve heard a lot of shit in recent years about “Big Boy Rules,” from would-be tough guy trainers. They seem to think that “safety” is a range issue, and could form training scars. Fucking retards, the lot of them…and I say that as a guy who once questioned a team leader on left and right safety limits, on a range.
    “Gee, Sergeant, it seems like in a real fight, we would be more worried about where the enemy is, and less about where the left and right limits are. What if the enemy maneuvers over there?”
    “Hey, Ranger Mosby. Who is over there right now?”
    “Third Platoon, Sergeant.”
    “That’s right, Ranger. Where do you think Third Platoon would be, if this was a real fight, and those were bad guys, instead of cardboard targets downrange?”
    “Over there, Sergea…..Oh.”
    “Yeah, dumbass. Oh. Safety is even more important in combat than on the range. Let’s make it harder for the enemy, not easier.”

    You know what “Big Boy Rules” are? They are understanding—not just “knowing,” but UNDERSTANDING–the fundamental safe firearms handling rules, and adhering to them in a mature, reasoned manner, no matter what. And yes, they apply in real fights, just like they do on the range, at the gun store counter, and in your living room. Don’t be a fucking idiot.

  4. You need to be composed enough to make good, appropriately correct decisions, in order to achieve 1,2, and 3.

    This is where “advanced” skill comes in when we are talking about shooting and gunfighting. 1, 2, and 3, above are basics. They are no different for experienced, “expert” shooters and gunfighters than for the new guy at the range, with his very first gun, and his NRA Basic Safety Course certificate tucked into his range bag.
    The difference is that the dude with 100,000 rounds downrange in an organized, planned, developed training regimen, has the ability to execute those three aspects without putting a lot of conscious thought into the process. That gives him the brain space to think about other things, like what is happening in the battlespace around him. THAT, in turn, allows him to make good decisions, in regards to 1, 2, and 3, and the synergistic relationship between them.

    “Shit, that dude needs to be shot, right now…but…I’m armed only with my pistol, and he’s 100 yards away, with an AK….I can’t make that shot on demand…I suppose I could try anyway…but there is a family with kids huddling under that table, on the other side of him…if I miss….okay, fuck it, I’m going to maneuver over there, behind that aisle of shelves, and then sprint up closer to him…that will give me a safer angle, and I KNOW I can make that shot from there. Let’s roll!”

    Having 1, 2, and 3 well-developed, allows 4 to happen. It can range from the rather extreme example above, to simply making the decision that, “Hey, this dude might need to get shot here in a sec….I’m gonna go ahead and get my hand on my gun, just in case…” It might even be…”That dude might need to be shot here in a sec…but I know my limits and my capabilities, so I don’t need to go to guns just yet. Let’s let this play out for a minute and see what develops…”

There are no advanced techniques, but, as Paul pointed out in his comment, “…there is advanced application.” You’ll know you’re advanced when you can do it without trying so hard. You’ll know you’re advanced, when you’re thinking about what you’re going to do, three steps ahead of where you are now. You’ll know you’re advanced when you no longer worry about being advanced.

Quit looking for the “Secret Scrolls of Knowledge of the Sect of Secret Squirrels,” and follow Paul’s suggestion: “Do the work.”


Clandestine Carry Pistol Review/AAR

I taught a Clandestine Carry Pistol class in the Great Smoky Mountains of western North Carolina, a few weeks ago, hosted by John Meyers, one of the writers over at ZeroGov. ZG published John’s review/AAR of the course today, which I am sharing here, because “marketing, blah, blah, blah,” which pretty much everyone who knows me, tells me I suck at, because, well, I really just don’t give a damn.

In it, John mentions my absence from the blog over recent months, and his reply to people asking him about it, by explaining to them that I am too busy living what I teach, to be writing about it. In the short term, he is absolutely, balls on, correct. My family is in the final stages of a major project (the nature of which has to remain undisclosed for PERSEC), in our personal, private life, which has stretched and strained us, nearly to the breaking point, on numerous occasions, over the last 18 months, even as it has been fun, educational, and inspirational, to both us and others. Even in the midst of it, for the most part, I managed to write an occasional article, but as we have neared the final stages, and set a hard stop deadline for completion, we have pushed ourselves, starting before the sun comes up, and not stopping until the sun goes down, every day. Until that deadline is beat, sometime in the next 60 days, we are pushing against time and financial constraints that have to—HAVE TO—take precedence over the blog, finishing the three new books that are in the works, and everything else, outside of my personal life.

Some friends, who are both real world friends, and readers of the blog, have suggested asking for donations to complete our undisclosed project, in the interest of getting it complete, so I can get back to writing. We are not doing that. Instead, the purpose of this article is to simply share John’s review of the coursework, and to share why I’ve been so absent from the blog for so long this time. If you DO feel like contributing to our “Oh So Secret Project,” order a book, or all three. If you already have copies, order more and give them as gifts.

I have a list, in my daily journal/notebook, of about thirty article subjects to write, when I cut free of this project, and I have three books outlined, and at least some of the content of each book done. Hopefully—no promises, because every time I set a publishing/release date for a book, I end up missing it by a month or two, at least—we will have at least one of the new books in print, and up for sale, by the holidays. That’s one of my goals. We’ll see…

In the meantime, lift heavy shit, run fast, far, box and wrestle, shoot accurately fast, and spend time with your kith-and-kin, building traditions and customs that enshrine your cultural values, to prepare your tribe’s children and grandchildren for the collapse that surrounds us.


Upcoming Special Class

I have/had a private Clandestine Carry Pistol course in western NC coming up. The host’s local folks have come up short for some of their slots, and asked if we would be willing to cover opening it up to a few open enrollment students.

Because this is last minute, and because we don’t have that many slots available, we are going to reduce our normal class price to $400. Dates for this class are 25-27 AUG 2017 (that is Friday-Sunday). I am assuming this is going to fill rather quickly, since we only have a couple of available slots, so if you East Coast folks want in, I would suggest contacting HH6 as soon as humanly possible.



We are still waiting for deposits from a couple people interested in the Idaho classes in October, but we also have two or three available slots unspoken for. Those will be Clandestine Carry Pistol and TC3. Get hold of HH6 at

Establishing Hard Standards

One of the subjects we discuss in this blog, a lot, is the importance of having quantifiable metrics of performance. A large part of that is what I call “soft standards,” i.e. “I did better than I did last time,” and “I performed the drill/skill correctly.” On the same hand however, there is a time and a place for “hard standards.”
“Hard standards” are simply a published set of metrics that a given group of people are expected to be able to achieve, on demand, without specific preparation or warm-up. As individual practitioners of…dare I say…the “Heroic Ideal,” soft standards really should be more important to us than soft standards, but hard standards do have a very important role to play as well.
In the first place, it allows us the confidence to accept fate stoically. “What is, is.” If I have met a hard standard, on demand, without preamble or warm-up, then I know–without doubt or uncertainty–that I am capable of achieving that. I don’t have to go into a disturbing situation wondering, “Gee, I wonder what I am capable of today?” I can simply plan my fight, however briefly, around that standard.
This ties into the second place where hard standards are important. If I am planning something that requires more than just myself to achieve, I need to make my plans predicated on the known, quantifiable capabilities of those on my prospective team. If I don’t KNOW that Joe Snuffy can hit a given rifle shot, on demand, every single time, then I cannot make Joe Snuffy making that shot, the locus of my operation. Sure, he MIGHT make it, and everything might turn out alright. He is just as likely however, to NOT make the shot, ensuring failure.
If you are part of a group: whether a local prepper group, a “militia,” or a police department or military unit, and you don’t have hard standards in place, you’re not serious about being able to accomplish your mission.
The Issue With Establishing Hard Standards
The problem with establishing published hard standards, especially within the parameters of this blog or my books, is why I have been hesitant to do so. That is, those standards are dramatically subject to our own experiential cognitive biases. As a guy who went to war in the mountains of the Hindu Kush, and then spent the better part of the last decade and a half living in the wide open spaces of the Rocky Mountains, where “300 yards is rock-chucking distance,” I have a considerably different perspective on what are “acceptable,” “realistic” rifle standards than say, a guy who spent 20 years working patrol and SWAT for NYPD.
Additionally, we are subject to the cognitive biases that arise from our own abilities. I am a big, strong, athletic guy, who shoots for recreation as much as for personal protection and preparedness. I have competed in IDPA and IPSC (albeit not at a particularly elite level). We have a dude in our local clan that is a sergeant on our local, small, rural police department. He has never competed, and considers the state and department qualification standards to be not only adequate, but “challenging.” I think they are a joke (seriously, four seconds to draw and fire two rounds, at nine feet?)
For me to tell him that his standards are inadequate, when he has almost twenty years on the job, and has survived, would seem unreasonable to him…even though he has never fired his service weapon in the line of duty. At the same time, he considers my personal standards “absurd, unrealistic competition bullshit.”
Even if we take two guys with the same background–let’s say, two SF dudes, both of whom deployed as 18B, to Afghanistan–if their current situations and environments are different, may come to different conclusions as to what is “enough.” If one guy teaches a bunch of meat-eating, alpha male types who eat barbells for breakfast, and juggle kettlebells for lunch, before rolling for a three-hour jiujitsu session for dessert, and his counterpart trains geriatric housewives to pass their CCW/CHL course, they are going to come to some pretty divergent opinions on what is “good enough,” aren’t they?
So, who is right? How do we overcome that discrepancy?
To be brutally honest, I’m not sure. I know it is hard for regular readers to believe that John Mosby doesn’t think he has all the answers, but it is something that I struggle with regularly, as a teacher, and a writer. I know what I use for standards, but I also know that my buddy on the local PD cannot, even on his best day, hit those standards, without a lot of remedial training and practice (and I know it, because he has tried, and failed).
Common Methods
There are three common approaches to determining standards of performance in the firearms training world, in my experience, each of which has benefits and drawbacks, from our perspective, here on the virtual frontier of a dying empire.
The first of these, that I first heard of when I was a kid, is to use your local law enforcement agency’s table of qualification, whatever it may be. The benefit to this is that, if you have to use your weapon, and end up in front of a jury for some reason, there may be some value in being able to say, “I can pass the local police department’s qualification. I am suitably trained.”
I have a couple of MAJOR issues with this approach however. To begin with, let’s get the obvious out of the way: cops, generally speaking, are shitty shooters. Like the example of my clansman, they may believe they are somehow specially gifted with a firearm, by virtue of their commission, but the reality is, quantifiably, the vast majority of police officers in this country are relatively unskilled amateurs when it comes to shooting performance.
The second issue I have with this is tied directly to the first: while law enforcement agencies, as the enforcing arm of imperial edicts, are not going to go away any time soon, I do recognize that we are going to see a reduced police presence in most places, and less interest in law enforcement, in dealing with many situations. I suspect it is already happening in many parts of many major metropolitan areas, but I foresee an increasing amount of investigations into shootings resulting in a case of, “Meh. So a bad guy got shot, by an unknown shooter, and his body was dumped in the street. Chalk up a win to the good guys.”
This however, will not be the case when the unknown good guy, in the process of shooting at the bad guys, performs on par with police, and smokes a half-dozen innocent bystanders in the process. At that point, the local constabulary really doesn’t have any choice but to investigate and look for the shooter.
(On an unrelated note, this is tied to a conversation I had with some friends the other day, in the industry. I pointed out that if I lived in town, like they do, my home defense gun would be a suppressed pistol. If someone breaks in, in the middle of the night, it might be expeditious to simply shoot them, drag the body to the garage, toss them in the trunk, and dispose of the body in a ditch a town or two away, never even bothering to involve law enforcement. In your house, with a quality suppressor, and subsonic ammunition, there’s a pretty solid chance that nobody in the neighborhood is even going to know anything happened. I don’t need to do that. I regularly shoot four-legged predators on the farm, at all hours of the night, and the neighbors ignore it, as the norm. Shooting a two-legged predator isn’t really going to evoke any different reaction from them, unless I make it a big deal, such as calling the Sheriff’s Department.
When they countered with, “Yeah, but you’re in the right, Castle Doctrine, etc…” I had to point out, even if I end up being exonerated, the costs of being involved in a typical defensive shooting are going to be ridiculously expensive, financially and morale-wise. It would be a lot more affordable to be, oh, I don’t know…self-reliant…when we can get away with it?)
Another common method of using external standards for local qualification is to look at something like the IDPA Classifier as a metric of performance. I’ve done this in the past. The first time I used the Classifier, I shot Master, even doing my reloads out of a pocket. There is some value in this, I think, and certainly more value than using your local police department qualification table.
The major drawback to using the Classifier, or a similar, long course-of-fire, is the fact that it is extremely ammunition–and time–intensive. That doesn’t even get into the logistic support needed. You won’t be running it, by yourself, on your local range. Even running it by myself, for myself, it takes me a solid half-hour to 45 minutes to get all the way through. With a group of a half-dozen to a dozen shooters, I’ve seen it turn into an all-day event.
Taking an entire day to run a qualification is fine, when you are running an infantry company through, and everyone is “on the clock,” and the taxpayer is paying for the ammunition. It is something else entirely when everybody has day jobs, family commitments, and budgetary concerns other than buying ammunition…things like diapers and groceries cost money.
The third method I’ve seen a lot of, is taking a statement about the statistical norm, within defensive shootings among citizens, and building a qualification drill predicated on that. For example, Karl Rehn, down in Texas, has his “Three Seconds or Less” Drill, that I like, a lot, and actually incorporate into my own qualification tables. It is based off the statistical norm of “3 shots, inside 3 yards, in 3 seconds.”
The problem with this approach, in my mind, is two-fold: 1) basing your training around the statistical norm is great, until you discover yourself in a situation that is a significant outlier. 2) Because statistics are accrued over time, anything based on a useful statistical norm is going to be based on old data. We see an increasing number of attacks occurring that are so far outside the statistical norm that as soon as we incorporate them, they are going to skew the norm drastically. Together, these combine to make–in my opinion–the statistical norm approach only marginally useful, at best. After all, what are the statistical probabilities that some dumbfuck will show up at your softball practice–where there are on-duty police officers pulling security–and start shooting the place up with an SKS? That may seem like a pretty extreme stretch, but that is exactly the point: we shouldn’t be training to deal with the statistical norm. The statistical norm says I won’t ever need to shoot someone in self-defense. In that case, simply having a gun would be the most I needed. Hell, I don’t even need to load the damned thing, right?
Thus, as we can see, even when we look at the common approaches, there are some pretty significant drawbacks to them. So, what is the solution?
Again, I don’t fucking know. I do know what MY solution has been, and it seems to be working pretty well. I know, when we meet the standards I have set for my people, they don’t seem to have much trouble hitting any of the above example standards either, so perhaps it is a matter of making sure you’ve encompassed the skills that make up the above methodologies, and have accounted for foreseeable potential outliers.
One Approach
I decided that, within my local training group, I would provide quantifiable, hard standard performance metrics in three areas: clandestine carry pistol, combat rifle, and physical fitness. In addition, each of these three areas would be divided into levels of accomplishment. Not that anybody gets any special awards for achieving any of the levels, but they do notice that they get lots of compliments from others within the clan (one of our guys came to me a couple weeks ago, and mentioned that he had gone out shooting with the police sergeant. He was told, “Man, I can tell you’ve been doing some training! You’re shooting better than me!” He was rather elated at the recognition, even knowing that cops are shitty shooters, as a rule).
Rather than come up with some cute labels (which I will undoubtedly do for the next book) for each level of performance, we simply call them Level One, Level Two, Level Three, and Level Four. The guys and girls that come out and train regularly know why they are training, and they want to be Level Four, or–at the very least, even for the self-admittedly lazy ones–they want to be at Level Three, across the board.
Clandestine Carry Pistol
Level One Qualification: The Level One Qualification is what I demand out of our people if they want to come use the farm’s range, unaccompanied by me. It tells me they are capable of being reasonably safe, and I can rest assured that they will probably not damage any livestock or infrastructure on the place. It is simply passing the qualification for their state-issued CCW/CHL.
Level Two Qualification: For Level Two, I played it safe, and used Karl’s “3 Seconds or Less” test. I can consistently hit this, on our weekly range days, with no problem, and most of the regular attendees achieve it pretty easily, after only a couple weeks of attendance. As I was writing the rough draft of this article tonight, I realized I hadn’t run this in several months, so in the midst of writing this, I went out to the range, right before supper, and shot it. There was no warm-up, I wasn’t “ready” to go to the range. I simply stood up, grabbed my ear protection and shot timer out of the range bag, and walked out to the range shed. I set up a silhouette, and shot the drill, without even particularly trying very hard. Seriously, I almost deliberately went slow, and I felt like I was moving through a vat of molasses.
This test includes the following:
“3 Seconds or Less”
range: As described in stage descriptions.
target: standard IDPA
Phase One: At 3 yards.
Stage One: Hands at side, weapon concealed. On the signal, step left, draw, and fire three shots to the A-Zone, two-handed, in three seconds or less. (My time was 1.99 seconds.)
Stage Two: From the Ready, fire two shots to the head, two-handed, in three seconds or less. (My time was 1.2 seconds.)
Stage Three: Hands at side, weapon concealed. On the signal, step right, draw, and fire three shots to the A-Zone, two-handed, in three seconds or less. (My time was 2.04 seconds).
Stage Four: Take a step forward to the two-yard line. Place hand on holstered gun. On the signal, draw and fire two shots to the A-zone, SHO, while backing away, in three seconds or less. (I felt like this was particularly slow, at 2.21 seconds, even though it really probably wasn’t. I don’t ever practice shooting while moving backwards, for a number of doctrinal reasons, and honestly, I probably don’t shoot SHO as frequently as I should.)
Phase Two: At 7 yards.
Stage Five: Start with loaded magazine in support hand, weapon in strong hand. On the signal, insert the magazine, rack the slide, and fire one round to the A-Zone, two-handed, in three seconds or less. (Again, this is not something I would ever practice, outside of a speed reload, and then I use the slide lock lever to send the gun back into battery. I’ve heard that Karl included this stage to cover those folks who, for whatever reasons, do not keep their weapons loaded, in the home. That makes sense to me, on that level, but it is still nothing I would ever incorporate into my own practice. My time, despite that, was 2.68, so I had time to spare.)
Stage Six: From the Ready, finger off the trigger, fire one shot to the head, two-handed, in three seconds or less. (My time was 1.5 seconds.)
Stage Seven: Face 90 degrees to the Left, hand on the holstered gun. On the signal, turn, draw, and fire three shots to the A-Zone, two-handed, in three seconds or less. (My time was 2.62, and I know I was taking my time. I can typically make a 180 degree turn, and still get a first shot hit on a smaller A-zone, in less than 1.5.)
Stage Eight: Hand on the holstered gun, draw and fire two shots to the A-Zone, SHO, in three seconds or less. (My time was 1.95.)
Stage Nine: Start with the gun in the support hand only, aimed at the target. Fire three shots to the A-Zone, in three seconds or less. (My time was 2.73, and again, this is something I just don’t do. The only time I do anything WHO, is when I am fucking around, or demonstrating the fundamentals of solid grip and sight picture).
Summary: This is a pretty low round count drill, and it took me a whopping five minutes to shoot it, even accounting for setting up the target and recording times myself. It is not going to do much to prepare the shooter for the statistical outlier, but it is a solid test of being prepared to protect themselves in the “typical” self-defense scenario.
Level Three Qualification: The L3 qualification is what I would consider a minimum for a community defense force participant, in a grid-down scenario. Beyond that, if I couldn’t hit these standards, despite being able to achieve Karl’s “3 Seconds or Less” standards, I wouldn’t personally feel qualified to carry a weapon every day.
I have three courses-of-fire that make up the L3 qualification for my range. The first is a simple 5x5x5 drill. This is five shots, from five yards, in five seconds or less. It is graded on a simple Go/No Go score. Either you got five shots into the A-Zone, within the time frame, from concealment, or you did not. Period. It’s not a particularly challenging drill, but it is a solid breakdown of some fundamental skills involved in the combative use of the pistol.
I hadn’t run the 5x5x5 in a year or so, when a friend in the industry mentioned that he had just shot it, and it took him two tries to get it, a couple weeks ago. I walked out to the range, and hit it in 4.32. Last week, one day, I started my live-fire with it, and hit 3.74.
The second drill I include in the L3 qualification is Kyle Lamb’s Viking Tactics 1-5 drill, completed in less than 10 seconds. This is not a particularly challenging time for this drill, when you are warmed up, and in the mood for shooting. If you can hit a 1.5 second draw to first shot, followed by consistent half-second splits, it will take you less than nine seconds to complete.
On range days, I can pretty regularly hit between 7.5-8 seconds, and have managed to drop it as low as six seconds. On demand, tonight, immediately after running the “3 Seconds or Less” drill, I hit this in 8.4 seconds. So, even on a shitty night, this is a decent standard. The reason I included this is because I don’t believe single target qualifications are legitimate in today’s world. You NEED to include a multiple target table within the qualification process. The industry standard, for a long time, was/is “El Presidente,” but I think this is a more effective standard in today’s world, for two reasons. Number one, we don’t shoot “double taps,” or even “hammers” or “controlled pairs.” We shoot–or at least the people I know, who know what the fuck they are doing–shoot until the most dangerous threat is no longer the most dangerous threat. This drill helps keep us away from building the motor pattern of firing two and moving on. Second, I don’t think the reload is as critical, in a world of double-stack pistols. My G19 is sitting on the table beside my chair with 16 rounds of 124-grain Gold Dot in it. That is a lot of hate to share, before I need to worry about reloading. If someone carries a single-stack or a sub-subcompact pistol, they are not going to make the sub-10.0 standard, but that’s their issue to deal with. The fight is going to be what the fight is going to be. It is what it is. Deal with it.
The third table in the L3 qual is to fire 10 rounds, without time constraint, to the A-Zone of an IDPA target, at 25 yards. It is graded Go/No Go as well, with a requirement of at least 50% being in the A-Zone, and ALL shots being within the C-Zone or better.
Level Four Qualification:
The Level Four Qualification, or L4, is what I consider a pretty solid level of expertise with the pistol. It includes three tables of fire.
The first table is Ken Hackathorn’s “Wizard Drill” test. This drill has a pretty solid reputation within the industry, as a tough one, as well as being a really good measure of the ability to achieve the needed results in a real-world fight. Combined with Ken’s reputation as a trainer, I was really comfortable relying on this drill as the foundation of my L4 qual. While not technically shot “cold,” I ran this one tonight, after the other quals, and have included my performance times in parenthesis.
Hackathorn “Wizard Drill” Test
range: as per stage description
target: standard IDPA
start: from concealment
Stage One: at 3 yards, SHO, head shot in 2.5 seconds or less (My time was 2.2 seconds, which is pretty typical. Looking at the last three times I’ve shot this drill, my times have been 1.98, 2.1, and 2.03)
Stage Two: at 5 yards, two-hands, head shot in 2.5 seconds or less (my time was 1.8. This was S-L-O-W for me. I normally spend 80% or more of my pistol practice at 5 yards these days, using a 3×5 index card for my A-Zone, and am consistently between 0.97 and 1.2 for my draw to first shot at this distance. I *think* that, in addition to feeling particularly slow anyway, because I knew this was a qual, rather than practice, I took the extra time to make sure. It felt slow, even before I looked at the timer.)
Stage Three: at 7 yards, two-hands, head shot in 2.5 seconds or less (my time was 2.2 seconds, interestingly–see Stage One notes above, what are the chances–and this too, is particularly SLOW for me, since even out to 10 yards, my first shot from concealment, typically arrives in less than 1.5, even on bad days.)
Stage Four: at 10 yards, two-hands, two rounds to the A-Zone, in 2.5 seconds or less (my time was 2.37. Again, abysmally slow, even with the second shot.)
PRA 1-5
Although I have told folks in classes, on a number of occasions, that the PRA 1-5 wouldn’t make a particularly good qualification table, the more I’ve thought about it, and looked at my own records, within my journals, and realized, with some constraints, it can be used as such. For the elite level shooter, in the real world, I believe the ability to exercise high order cognitive function, on demand, under time constraints, is as important as pure shooting ability.
Range: 5-10 yards, targets spaced no more than 10 yards apart outside left to outside right.
Target: six (6) standard IDPA
start: from concealment
standard: the standard is to achieve a clean run of the PRA 1-5, with all A-Zone or head shots, within 12 seconds, at this distance.
The third table in the L4 qual is to fire 10 rounds, from the ready, to a reduced steel/ A/C zone steel, at 50 yards, with at least 80% hits, in 12 seconds or less (in the interest of intellectual integrity, I picked 12 seconds because I found that was about as fast as I could run it, consistently, and get 100% hits). One of the major failures in combative pistol training that I have witnessed, is the lack of time spent even acknowledging that shooters might need to reach out, with their pistol, beyond “pistol” distances. It’s not impossible. It’s not even particularly difficult, with proper training, and a little bit of practice. We might “prefer” to grab a rifle, but that’s not always–or even mostly–a realistic option in defensive shooting scenarios, when we are equipped with a clandestine carry pistol.
Getting Better
I feel obligated to point out that, you don’t *practice* these tables, as such. It won’t do you much good to go out and shoot the Wizard every week, hoping to master it. You will probably see some improvement on it, but the real key is to practice the individual aspects that make up each drill. You need to determine what the individual skills inherent and explicit to each drill include, and then incorporate those into your regular training, using the qualification standards drills only occasionally, to measure and see that you are getting better, when you put the individual skills together, into a holistic package.
This is why we don’t use standards such as “draw to first shot in 1.xx seconds,” or “consistent 0.xx split times between shots.” It doesn’t–ultimately–matter what you can do on an individual subskill. It matters what you can do when you put all those skills together.
And yes, before anyone asks, there is a great resource for getting a handle on the individual skills that make up the qualification standards tables; in fact, I can think of three: 1) The Reluctant Partisan, Volume Two: The Underground, which includes not only the skills, but an entire program-of-instruction for learning them. 2) My upcoming Clandestine Carry Pistol course, in Idaho Falls, ID (or a private or open enrollment at your location…) 3) a combative pistolcraft course from any of the reputable trainers working, around the country, every weekend, trying to pass this information on to good folks.
A Note on Splits
One of the common criticisms I see, across the industry, and outside of it, is people complaining about the application of split times, between shots, in training. To a degree, they are right, what your split times are just don’t matter. You need to take as long as you need to take, to be sure you are going to get the hit you need to get.
At the same time, there are guys out there, insisting on sub-0.3 splits, if you want to be “lethal in a real gunfight!” I would argue, there is a happy median. Split times have their application, but I tend to think a lot of people either ignore them, thinking they don’t matter, or they place too much emphasis on them, looking for people to shoot faster.
The ideal split time depends entirely on the shooter. If you need to take 0.75 seconds between shots, to be confident that your rounds are going to go exactly where you send them, and to give yourself time to make sure the shot you are about to take is a legitimate shot, then by all means, you should be taking 0.75. I just want you to be consistent in that time. ALL of your splits should be between say, 0.71 and 0.79.
On the other hand, if you can process the feedback loop from the target and your sights, think your way through the problem, and still hit sub-0.3x splits, awesome! Good for you. I cannot, and most really good shooters find, in my experience, that as soon as they run into a Force-on-Force shooting scenario, one of two things happens when they are used to hitting really fast splits: either a) they slow WAY, WAY, WAY down, or b) they end up with bad shots, by which I mean they end up shooting the wrong person, or they have a lot more misses than you would expect.
I’ve heard more than one person in the training industry refer to this as “outrunning your headlights,” and I think that is an incredibly apt description. You are simply relying on your expectation that everything will be fine, and you can put the hammer down. Then, a deer jumps out into the road, and you are in a wreck, because by the time you recognized it, you were already on top of it. I’ve done this in training, and on the highway.
When my oldest was still an infant, I was cruising down the highway in Wyoming, at 80MPH. Deer suddenly appeared in the road, and I was going way too fast for the available light from my headlights. I managed to process what was happening fast enough to avoid swerving, and hit her with the center of the bumper, but the grill on the truck was jacked.
On the range, in a shoothouse, live-fire exercise a couple years ago in Wyoming, (as some readers who were in the class may recall), I let the students set the targets up, in a problem solving, cognitive load drill. I went in to clear. I shot a legit target, that should have been shot, but they had set it up in a way that was a little tricky. I started blazing away, and halfway through my string of fire, the entire class heard me cuss them, “FUCK! YOU MOTHERFUCKERS!”
Even then, recognizing that I had fucked up, it took me two or three more rounds, to stop shooting, because I was–at the time–specifically focusing my personal training on getting down towards 0.25 splits with my carbine, and it just took my brain that long to catch up.
I’ve also come across some references that claim the FBI HRT unit looks for about a half-second split in their training process. This makes sense to me. That seems inordinately slow, at first glance, to a seasoned competitor, but a) that’s not necessarily the split I’m looking for in my daily training. That is the split I am looking for when I run a qualification table, and/or a drill that requires cognitive loading, such as the PRA 1-5, or Frank Proctor’s Third Grade Math drill.
Ultimately, what your splits are, are not as important as whether or not they are consistent. I explain to students that what I am really looking for is the split between shots, whether on the same target, or on a transition, to all be within about 0.05 of the split to either side of it (this is subject to some modifiers). This, combined with meeting the stated accuracy and precision goals, tells me that you are consistently doing what you need to do to get consistent hits, and not relying on luck.
Last week, I was working some multiple shot strings, at 5 yards, on a 3×5 index card for the A-Zone. My splits were anywhere from 0.98 to 1.26, according to my notebook. I remember being really torqued off that I was being so slow, but I was more miffed that there was such inconsistency. I stopped, took a five minute break, and then got back to it, focusing on my rythm and timing. My first string, coming back off the break, I took my sweet ass time, focusing on consistency, above all. My five shot string, all splits were between 1.26 and 1.29. That is, SLOW!!! But, it is also consistent, so I was able to pick up the pace. Next string, I was consistent at 0.69-0.74. Third string, every split was between 0.42 and 0.44. That’s a pretty typical string for me, on a relaxed practice run. It’s not really where I want to be, on a simple rythm drill, but it was fast enough, and it was consistent. By slowing way down, first, and focusing on the consistency, I was able to quit dicking around, and get back to where I needed to be.
Hopefully, this will give you some ideas on how and why we run the hard standard qualifications (for the pistol) we run, as well as giving you an idea of the “why?” behind the selections. In the interest of brevity, I didn’t include the carbine quals or the fitness quals. Those will probably come in a follow-on article.

Upcoming Open Enrollment Pistol Course

We are still looking for folks interested in hosting some classes in the Midwest and East this autumn and winter. We’ve had a couple of folks interested that were unable to do so for one reason or another. We’ve got lots of privates coming up, but if you want an open-enrollment, in the eastern half of the country…..

In the meantime, we will be returning to Idaho Falls, ID, in October, for a TC3 and a Clandestine Carry Pistol course.

TC3 will be 18-19 OCT (This is a Wed and Thur). This course covers the current Tactical Combat Casualty Care protocols for Care Under Fire and Tactical Field Care Phase, as well as addressing these from the perspective of the grid-down/austere/”Ditch Doc” perspective, without significant support, and higher echelons of care . It also spends a pretty significant period of time discussing sustained care under these conditions, including preventive medicine, and long-tern nursing care for illness and injury.

Clandestine Carry Pistol will be 20-22 OCT (Friday-Sunday). This course starts with streamlining fundamental combative pistolcraft skills, including single and multiple assailants. It moves on to cognitive task-loading drills for in-fight problem-solving and decision-making, dealing with real-world issues that face the shooter in the modern context. We also cover tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTP) for “virtually” accelerating the drawstroke, to make yourself faster and more accurate.

This course also covers in-fight weapons access of the pistol, or “fighting to the gun,” with a short introduction to the decision-making matrix used to determine when–and even if–drawing your gun is the right decision, versus going hands-on with bad guys.

Finally, in a new addition to this coursework, we discuss–and actually fire for record–a variety of different levels of “standards” and “qualification Courses-of-Fire,” that can be utilized to provide a quantifiable metric of ability and expertise.

(One of the things I’ve always prided myself on is my ability to present the material in ever-more accessible ways, to increase the retention of the material in the students’ minds. The changes I’ve made in this POI in recent months in private classes have received with accolades from students in both private and open-enrollment courses, because of the benefit to the students.)
For enrollment specifics on either, or both, of these courses, please contact HH6 at, soon. The students in the last carbine course in Idaho Falls basically demanded that we return in the fall for this pistol course, so I suspect it is going to fill up quickly.

Why I am not a Capitalist…Wait! What!?

I have repeatedly voiced my view in print, that I am as opposed to Capitalism as I am to Communism, because both reflect a material, consumption-centric view of not only the world, but society and culture as well. One of the things I’ve had problems with, as a result, is explaining to students in classes,when they have asked, how I can label myself a “capitalist,” when I am opposed to “Capitalism” as a social philosophy.

Perhaps the simplest explanation I have used is that the difference lies in the capitalization of the first letter. Just like there is a vast difference between a republican and a Republican, there is a difference between a capitalist and a Capitalist. In both examples, in the first—lower case—situation, you have someone who believes in a philosophy (one political, one economic). In the second case, you have someone who adheres to a Party Doctrine, regardless of where and how that doctrine transgresses the underlying philosophy it purports to be based on.

That still fulfilled only a small portion of the explanation, I found however, and as anyone who has ever been in a class with me will gleefully—or sorrowfully, depending on their outlook—I firmly believe that old adage “God is in the details,” and I am sincere in my attempt to make sure people get access to the details. Fortunately, in our efforts to increase the resilient productivity of our small family farm, I managed to delve into what I will, for ease of explanation, call “a school of agricultural philosophy” called Permaculture.

As I dug deeper into the rich soil of Permaculture (and those readers familiar with Permaculture just start cackling at the double meaning in that phrase), I kept coming across references to the “eight forms of capital.” Initially, as I read the original articles on the concept, I assumed it was typical Leftist, pro-Marxist nonsense, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense to me. Then I discovered that even among business economics literature, there are references to at least “six forms of capital.”

While I was initially introduced to the concept of multiple forms of capital two or three years ago, as a codified concept, and it made intuitive sense to me, based on my own world view anyway, I really started putting concerted thought into the subject a few months ago. This article then, has been percolating in my brain since at least the beginning of the year.

The Eight Forms of Capital

The Oxford Dictionary has a couple of relevant definitions of “capital.” These include: “Wealth in the form of money or other assets owned by a person or organization or available for a purpose such as starting a company or investing,”(emphasis added) and “A valuable resource of a particular kind.” Too often, when we consider “capitalism,” we think only of the financial aspect, defining all assets in financial terms.

The Eight Forms of Capital however, include: Intellectual Capital, Spiritual Capital, Social Capital, Material Capital, Experiential Capital, Cultural Capital, Living Capital, and—of course—Financial Capital.

Intellectual Capital is simply knowledge that has value, to ourselves or to others. When students come to a Mountain Guerrilla class, or they purchase one of the Reluctant Partisan books, or Forging the Hero, they are expressing their interest in the intellectual capital that I possess, and they want. When I go buy a book on Permaculture, or I take a class, I am engaging in a transaction that involves Intellectual Capital.

Spiritual Capital is a little harder to define. Karma, Faith, Grace, these are all examples of spiritual capital. In my belief system, the frith that binds our clans together is a significant aspect of spiritual capital, as are the gifts—genetic and cultural—of my ancestors, that provide my physical and mental fitness, and the work ethic to maintain them.

Social Capital is also represented by frith, in the form of the social obligations that exist within the community of the clan. When I drop what I am doing at the farm, to drive forty miles to help one of the clan move a refrigerator, I am losing financial capital that I could be making through working, but I am building social capital that I know—experientially, since it happens regularly—will be repaid when I need a hand with something myself.

Social capital can further be defined as anything that helps us—provides profit—in social interactions with people. A solid grounding in common courtesy and etiquette is a form of social capital. Good grooming and personal hygiene is a form of social capital. All three of these provide great benefit when meeting new people, as well as strengthening existing relationships within your clan and community.

Material Capital is something that most Americans—and an even larger percentage of “preppers”—are intrinsically familiar with. Simply put, material capital is all the “stuff” you possess.

Experiential Capital are those experiences that we have had that provide benefit to us still. From bad relationships in the past (the ones we learned from, anyway), to different jobs and hobbies we have had, anything we have experienced, where the experience goes deeper than the intellectual lessons learned, is experiential capital. We all “know” that physical fitness is important. Anyone who has had to crawl several thousand feet up a mountain, and then move through enemy gunfire, however, has experiential understanding of the value of physical fitness of a far deeper level than the intellectual understanding. This is the difference, discussed in my last article, between intellectual knowledge gained in school, and experiential knowledge gained from life experience.

Cultural Capital are those benefits gained by membership in a culture, whether by birth or adoption. This is related to the concept of cultural inheritance. This is also very, VERY culturally specific. Someone raised in modern, western culture, even on a remote, off-grid homestead in the mountains of Idaho, has a significantly different view of the universe than someone raised in a small tribal village in the wild jungles of Amazonia. Drop them both off in Manhattan, and that hillbilly kid from Idaho is going to have a very, VERY significant advantage over the Amazonian, despite not being part of mainstream American culture. He still has cultural capital, as a result of growing up within the larger culture, and the culture inheritance of western classical liberalism. This can be seen, even in language. We see comedic movies made about the poor farm kid moving to the big city, but most of us who grew up poor farm kids, and then moved to the big city realize, it really wasn’t THAT big of a struggle to fit in, at least marginally well, if for no other reason than we had cultural capital as a result of shared language and understanding the definitions of words and sentences.

Drop that kid off in the Amazon though, without specific cultural training, and he’s going to be hosed. A great cinematic example of this is the 2015 Eli Roth movie The Green Inferno. (Important editorial note: 1) I don’t particularly like modern movies. 2) I particularly LOATHE “horror” movies as sheer stupidity. It is a regular point of contention with HH6. I use this example because she convinced me to watch it with her, and it popped into my mind while I was thinking of this…). A bunch of do-gooder Leftists run off the Amazonia to “Save the Rainforests!” and most of them get eaten by the local cannibal tribe they thought they were there to help. Life is tough. It’s tougher when you’re stupid.

Greg “Gorillafritz” Ellifritz, of Active Response Training, posted an article about the recent stabbing on the Portland, Oregon mass transit train, wherein he pointed out that most “middle-class” folks tend to forget—or not even know—that the Emotionally Damaged Person (EDP) that is ranting and raving like a lunatic, in public, has a moral code…but it ain’t yours, so expecting him to act like you would act is folly. Your moral code is cultural capital. His is cultural capital, but it is an entirely different culture.

Because of the globalization of the “one world, one (consumer) culture” of modern mercantilism, we are encouraged to ignore cultural differences, to the point that most people never even realize that our cultural capital is only capital within our culture or related cultures.

Living Capital are things like the plants in your garden, the chickens in your henhouse, etc. They are things that are alive, and only provide you benefit through the fact of life. Someone once offered to sell me a pig. I was dating a girl at the time whose sister and brother-in-law had a small hobby farm that was largely a petting zoo for their kids. In the interest of building rapport with the girl, I agreed to buy the pig, thinking I would just give it to the sister and brother-in-law. What the dude neglected to mention was…the pig had died the night before, of unknown causes. That pig had no capital value to me. Until it died, it had capital for him, because it had the possibility of being slaughtered and turned into bacon and sausage. (For the record, I didn’t buy the pig. I would have, since I had already agreed, and I was the dumbass that didn’t think to ask, “Why are you selling the pig?” fortunately, the guy took pity on me and refused to sell it.)

Finally, we arrive at the form of capital most familiar to us: Financial Capital. This is money and any other form of money replacement, such as stocks and bonds, treasury notes, BitCoin, etc. It also includes gold and silver. Here is the thing though: despite protestations to the contrary, Financial Capital is ALWAYS fiat currency. Gold has XXX value, only because someone is willing to agree that it has XXX value. You cannot eat it. You cannot doctor an injury or an illness with it. You cannot sow it on your garden to increase yield.


If I can use some of my financial capital to purchase material capital, then financial capital is beneficial. If I need a building to shelter my family from the elements, but no one has one they are willing to sell me at a price within my financial reach, then financial capital is useless to me. I might as well not have ANY money, for all the good it will do me. On the other hand, if I need a building to shelter my family from the elements, and no one has one they are willing to sell me at a price within my financial reach, but I have the experiential and intellectual capital to build one from scratch, out in the woods, I can at least house my family. If I have the social capital, I may be able to convince someone within my clan to allow my family to stay with them for awhile. In both cases, financial capital was not the grease, but that is still capitalism.

If I can use some of my financial capital to purchase living capital—as I did when I bought our farm—then it is useful. If no one will sell me chickens, or vegetables, for any price that I can afford financially, but I have the knowledge to raise the chickens myself, or to plant seed and harvest vegetables from a garden, I have experiential and intellectual capital to leverage to my gain.

If I can use financial capital to pay for the services of a hooker for the night, I can get my ashes hauled. If however, I cannot afford the services of a call girl, or I believe prostitution is inherently evil, and thus would never consider paying for her services, then financial capital does me no good. Perhaps I can flash some cash and convince some local trollop to put out, in the hope that I will date or marry her, and she will get access to my supposed financial wealth that way. Easier—and in the long-term, far more rewarding, in my experience—is to utilize social and cultural capital to woo a young lady. After all, just like your mother (hopefully) taught you as a youngster, the ones that are after your money, are not the kind of girls you want to marry…

The point of this is not that “money is evil.” Money is in inanimate object and an idea. The point of this is that, rather than looking at all things through the lens of finance and money, look around you—especially within your own clan and community—and see what other forms of capital you have access to, and how you can exchange them with others in your community for your mutual benefit.

One of the things I’ve pointed out previously is that relying on finance for commerce is the antithesis of freedom, independence, and autarky. By definition, you are allowing someone else to determine value for you. “Oh, the dollar is worth XXX amount.” Well, if Item A is priced at XXX dollars, then someone else—by fucking definition—just determined what the value of that object was. Not the seller, and not the buyer, but rather, an outside agent, neither of whom the seller or buyer probably knows.

Engaging in non-financial capitalism is also a way to legally reduce your tax burden. Sure, if I WORK for someone, in exchange for something, that is taxable as wages. But, if I simply ask for something, and someone gives it to me, because of social capital, and later, they ask me to help them move a refrigerator into their house, and I do it, because of social capital, there was no barter there, so there was no taxable transaction. If you bitch about “taxation is theft,” but you insist that every transaction must be measured in dollar value, you are kidding yourself.

I don’t particularly enjoy taxation myself, but I am also astute enough to know that the society never existed that didn’t pay taxes, in one form or another, and whining about it through social media memes like #TaxationIsTheft isn’t going to change that.

I don’t particularly like the Federal Reserve, or the stranglehold the Central Bank has on the economy, internationally, nationally, or even in my local community, but I also know that every time I measure the value of something in financial capital, I am strengthening the Central Bank. If, on the other hand, I have something, and one of the people in my clan wants it or needs it, and I give it to them, because they are part of my clan, that is a giant “Fuck off and die” to the Federal Reserve, the central bankers, and the tax man, all at once.

The Gift Exchange Economy has taken a disturbing turn in recent years, because of the prevalence of people writing about it from a Leftist angle in modern society. From people who believe, “If I believe in the goodwill of all people, and I ask nice, people will just give me things,” and then find that belief reinforced (see “The Moneyless Manifesto” by Mark Boyle, and do a Google search on “Freeconomic Living” for examples of this tragicomic, farcical doppleganger of the gift exchange economy), to people who simply cannot imagine an economy not based on some sort of extrinsic medium of exchange, whether federal reserve notes, gold, or silver, the fact that the vast, vast majority of mankind never put their hands on a single, solitary piece of “money” or “coinage” throughout the human experience is hard to fathom. Yet, people—for the most part—managed to survive, and lead, by their measures (which really, is the only measure that matters) happy, fulfilled lives, without ever possessing a single piece of financial capital.

You want independence? You want freedom? You want community resilience? Then start building it. I am not suggesting abandoning money. Doing so, as I charge financial capital for classes and book, would be somewhat hypocritical (although not entirely). There are a lot of material, intellectual, and experiential capital items that are simply outside of our reach, without financial capital. Whether those things are critical to survival and happiness is open to debate, depending on cultural values, but that is another discussion.

At the end of the day though, the song was right, “money can’t buy you love.” All jokes about “reasonable facsimiles thereof,” aside, money is only useful for its ability to be leveraged into exchange for other forms of capital. If you can procure those other forms of capital, in the amounts needed, without financial capital, you lessen your dependence on outside sources, increasing resilience. If you can focus more effort on increasing your social, intellectual, and experiential capital, and less on increasing your financial capital, you might just find that you have a happier, more fulfilling life, surrounded by kith-and-kin, rather than surrounded by jackass co-workers you wouldn’t piss on if they spontaneously combusted.

The Only Call to Action For Me

Chapter Three of my book, Forging the Hero: Who Does More Is Worth More, opens with a quote from English antiquarian and author, the late H.R. Ellis-Davidson (1914-2006), from her book Gods and Myths of Northern Europe:

The mythology of a people is far more than a collection of pretty or terrifying fables to be retold in carefully bowdlerized form to our schoolchildren. It is the comment of the men of one particular age or civilization on the mysteries of human existence and the human mind, their model for social behavior, and their attempt to define, in stories of gods and demons, their perception of inner realities.”

There is a lot of value in that statement, for building inherent resilience into our local community cultures, even if you are not a dirty, unwashed heathen like myself.

As I went on to point out in that chapter, one of the side effects of the decadence of the Age of Affluence discussed by Glubb in The Fate of Empires was the impact of the rise of intellectualism in a society. He pointed to the parallels between the Caliphate (the first Caliphate, not the resurgent one we are currently in conflict with) and our contemporary Western civilization quite poignantly, as well as to evidence from the Biblical book Acts of the Apostles, of the same issues having arisen in Hellenic culture: “…all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.

In our own time, we’ve watched the unending debates of physically and mentally soft blowhards in the elected legislatures of the western world, the media, and our local communities. “Woe is us! Woe is us! What should we do? What can we do!? We cannot offend! We cannot harm! Violence only breeds more violence!” We see issues debated in the partisan press; incessant talking and bickering, name-calling, and insults. Meanwhile, too few have been willing to stand up—even among the most fervent on either side of a debate—and place their own social, professional, and political futures on the line, and say, “alright, so we have talked this shit to death. Nothing has changed. Now, we are going to just go ahead and do it my way, because you bastards can’t come to a conclusion. Shut the hell up and get out of my way!

When someone does—ever so rarely—decide to sacrifice himself on the altar of action, the other side quickly bemoans the “lack of bispartisanship,” and “spirit of democracy,” even if the precipitous action worked and solved the problem. If the actor was on the Right, he is quickly mocked as a fascist or Nazi, and even his erstwhile allies are quick to abandon ship, lest they be tarred with the same ridiculous brush. If the actor is on the Left, they are just as quickly mocked with equally fatuous labels of “Marxist!” or “Communist!” even when their proposals have nothing to do with Marx’s scribblings. No one, on either side, has been willing to accept being called names, even though our forebears were willing to challenge each other to duels on the floor of Congress.

Regardless, this spirit of Athenian debate seems to be, like elsewhere, predicated on the destruction of the spirit of action that was necessary to the founding of empire. The rise of each empire’s Age of Intellect seems to be a good thing, at least initially. Surprising advances are made in the sciences, and in the understanding of the physical world and nature. In the ninth-century when the Christian world of Europe would require another seven centuries to grasp that, in fact, the world was not flat, and that personal hygiene prevented disease transmission, Mohammedan scientists in the commission of Caliph al-Ma’mun determined the circumference of the Earth to within 200 kilometers, and bathing was a religious precept.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, “intellectualism” is defined as “the exercise of the intellect at the expense of the emotions.” In turn, “intellect” is defined as “the faculty of reasoning or understanding, objectively, especially with regard to abstract or academic matters.” At first glance, either of these seems particularly nefarious. This is fortunate, since the intellect has a definite, positive role to play in life and survival, and the rise of mankind as a species. When we begin looking at it through the prism of the collective experience of human nature however, and witness the resulting expression of this intellectualism with the social and political discourse at the height of imperial power, we begin to see the deleterious effects on life and cultural survival.

The most damnable result of the rise of intellectualism, is the growth within the collective psyche of a people, of the idea that the human brain can overcome nature, and solve all of the perceived problems of the world. It is the same belief that “imperialism is bad!” that drives the belief that “imperialism is good!” as subjects of political philosophical debate.

The archaeological, anthropological, and historiographic record of the collective human experience pretty clearly indicates that, in order for any human cultural activity to succeed, some form of community must be engaged in the collective effort towards the achievement of the goal. In order for that to take place, the members of the community must be willing to sacrifice self to some degree, and act in a spirit of service to the community. The idealist naivete of “reason always prevails,” or that mental cleverness alone can resolve the world’s problems, without physical effort or community participation, falls flat, as soon as a foe is met who is willing to stop talking, and start chopping the heads off the intellectuals.

Intellectualism is not Intelligence

Before we can begin to recognize the impact that the Age of Intellect—and the reactionary anti-intellectualism, has on us, and our efforts to preserve those values, customs, and traditions, of our own local community cultures that we value, within the context of the declining empire, we must conceded that having the intelligence to understand the meanings of words, and to apply those words, accurately, is important. As soon as you give up the meaning of words, and instead to choose to accept the “general understanding” of what the establishment wants those words to mean, within the “current lexicon,” you give yourself up to being roped in and controlled by The Narrative.

As I pointed out in Forging the Hero, that “prattling social activist intellectual of the worst sort,” Noam Chomsky, has admitted, “…the intellectuals are specialists in defamation, they are basically political commisars, they are the ideological administrators, the most threatened by dissidence.” Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980), one of the leading voices of Marxist philosophy in the 20th century, called intellectuals, “the moral conscience of their age.

The social function of the intellectual, in Marxist philosophy, is to be the source of progressive ideals for the transformation of society, and to interpret the country’s politics for the proletariat, as well as to provide guidance and advice to the political leadership of the Party. (Now, go back, and re-read that sentence…a couple times…and think about the connections in modern society, between academia, the media, and the political caste on both sides of the false dialectic…) In Plato’s Republic, the intelligentsia forms the nucleus of the leadership caste of the ideal society. This has become our common understanding of the role of the intellectual, and this has shaped our collective distrust of—and disgust with—intellectualism.

The problem with his distrust of intellect is when it results in a backlash of anti-intellectualism. Anti-intellectualism is recognized as a hostility towards the intellect, as well as a distrust of intellectuals. It is expressed in the derision of education, philosophy, literature, and the sciences, as being impractical in the real world, and thus contemptible. This anti-intellectualism occurs on both sides of the modern Hegelian dialectic of western politics. We see the collectivists on the Left who want to tear down any markers of Western cultural ideology, including statuary and iconic landmark buildings that have long been considered architectural wonders of the world. We see them lose their minds over the “inherent racism” and “hetero-normative bias” of classical literature and art and music of the West.

On the same hand however, we see the Right refuse to even consider that something new or different may have equal value, or—gods forbid—greater relevance to anyone. “Aww, shit. Them people ain’t never managed to create nothing more lasting than a brush hut! What have them sonsuvbitches got to offer?” Ignoring the fact that the “primitive” culture in question may have survived, largely unchanged, for 2000 years. The Right looks at the material products of a culture, and sees anything else as irrelevant, even as they struggle to discover a way to “maintain cultural identity!”

Well-respected conservative political philosopher, Dr. Thomas Sowell—who is, by any objective metric, the definition of an intellectual—makes the case in his 2009 book, Intellectuals and Society,
that the rise of anti-intellectualism in the modern world is a justifiable result of malfeasance within the educational system:

By encouraging, or even requiring, students to take stands where they have neither the knowledge nor the intellectual training to seriously examine complex issues, teachers promote the expression of unsubstantiated opinions, the venting of uninformed emotions, and the habit of acting on those opinions and emotions, while ignoring or dismissing opposing views, without having either the intellectual equipment or the personal equipment to weigh one view against another in any serious way.

It is important—absolutely critical, in fact—to point out that Dr. Sowell is critical not of the use of the intellect itself, but of the misplaced emphasis on unreasoned thought. In fact, this is a call for a more disciplined intellectual rigor, requiring both the tools of critical thinking, and the empiricism of life experience, for decision-making about where an individual stands in regard to complex issues. This is critical, because it is precisely what distinguishes intelligence from intellectualism, at a practical and practicable level.

Anti-intellectualism has a well-deserved bad reputation precisely because of its prevalence within totalitarianism. Action is critical, but blind adherence to action, untempered by reason and good judgement, ends in poor results for pretty much everyone involved in the long-term.

While intellectualism is not—nor should it ever be considered—the final arbiter of Truth, as it relates to human nature, there is a great deal of observableTruth to be found in the scientific method and the pursuit of intellectual rigor represented therein. In order for there to be a benefit from the study of human experience, there has to be a balance between the intellectual and the experiential learning models.

The illustration of this that I used in Forging the Hero seems increasingly appropriate:

The academic who has never tasted the copper-mouthed sensation of life-or-death fear, as he watches muzzle flashes downrange, or has never watched the blood pouring out of someone that he knows and loves, lacks the requisite real-life experience to genuinely understand, at a human, visceral level, the warrior past of our collective heritage.

On the opposite side of the coin however, the warrior—no matter how well-blooded in battle—without an intellectual understanding of the human past, can never really understand the strategic and social implications of the combat in which he took part. He is forced to accept the explanations of his leaders, never completely certain if he is being fed a ration of bullshit. The balance must be sought between intellect and instinct.

A Call to Action? To What Action?

What then, does all of this prattling have to do with the Ellis-Davidson quote that opened this article?

The mythology of a people is far more than a collection of pretty or terrifying fables to be retold in carefully bowdlerized form to our schoolchildren. It is the comment of the men of one particular age or civilization on the mysteries of human existence and the human mind, their model for social behavior, and their attempt to define, in stories of gods and demons, their perceptions of inner realities.

In a word, “everything.” We see people on both sides of the political extremes beginning to take violent action in support of their definitions of “American values.” I watch social media, as they call for “like-minded people” to stand up and take action in support of their action. I see people respond, blindly, to these calls for action, without ever even considering, “Do I even share these people’s beliefs?

Oxford defines “myth” as: “A traditional story, especially one concerning the early history of a people or explaining a natural or social phenomenon, and typically involving supernatural beings or events.”

Mythology, in turn, is defined as: “A collection of myths, especially one belonging to a particular religious or cultural tradition.”

It is important, before we go further, to understand that nothing in those definitions refers to the “truth” or “accuracy,” or even the “reason and logic” of those tales.

We have a national mythology in the United States. It is the one most of us grew up with in school, church, and bedtime stories. We also have various cultural mythologies within the population of the United States. Those mythologies that you believe in, and have internalized, are what will define—for you—what defines “Western culture.” They may or may not be the same as my definition of “Western culture.” Evidenced by a lot of the shit coming across my social media feeds, the definition of “Western culture”held by most on the Right and the Left are dramatically different from my definitions of “Western culture.”

The only call to action you should be responding to—or, really, even paying attention to—are those that are in accordance with your cultural values, and the core mythologies that you believe in. If that means you need to armor up and run down to the local riot and start beating on Leftists, that’s on you.

For me, that call to action includes reducing my clan’s dependence on external market supports that serve no useful purpose for my clan. These actions have—in recent months (thus explaining, in large part, my absence from any writing efforts on the MG blog) included—convincing most of the clan to start at least small backyard vegetable gardens, change their dietary habits to a more ancestral diet model, increase their physical fitness training, increase their personal protection training, and thinking—and speaking—more openly, about the obligations of frith that tie our clan together, and were recognized previously, but seldom spoken of aloud.

That call to action has including no longer reading bedtime stories to my children, instead choosing to recite bedtime stories off-the-cuff. I have found that this forces me to inject the stories with more elements of belief that are specific to our cultural values.

That call to action has included attempts to spend less time alone on the farm, and more time convincing the clan to come spend time at the farm, and to spend more time with them at their homes. It has included initiating MORE holiday gatherings than we already participated in, that have existed as long as the clan has existed.

That call to action has included making a more concerted effort to look for solutions to needs within the commerce of the clan, rather than running to town and spending money on material goods, sending my money who knows where, to support who knows what. If I have to spend money on something, I would rather put that money in my kinsman’s pocket, where it will eventually get spent on something ELSE that supports my clan, than in the pocket of some complete stranger, whose values I not only don’t share, but don’t even know.

That call to action has included dropping whatever I am engaged in at the moment, to get in my truck and drive to wherever someone in my clan has called me from, asking for help. This has ranged from helping to move a refrigerator, to towing a truck, to helping a member of the clan’s parents move house.

This call to action has included spending a little more money, for the same item, in order to buy it from a small, local store, owned by a member of my community, instead of driving two hours to the city, and buying it from a big box retailer, for a lesser price, from some impersonal corporate drone.

The call to action that all of us should be heeding is not the call to violence (except when necessary to the survival of the clan or community), but the call to make our communities more resilient, by strengthening the bonds of frith that tie those communities together.