One of the apparently more obscure skills I try to emphasize in my shooting-centric coursework, is the ability to “call your shots.” Generally, somewhere around half of the students in any given class will have heard of the concept. In turn, of those, about half will actually understand what the skill entails. Outside of combat arms veterans—and actually a relatively small percentage of them—very few shooters have any understanding of the practical applications of calling your shots, outside of the pure marksmanship theory applications.
What It Is
Calling your shot is—quite simply—the practice of accurately determining the expected point-of-impact of your shot, predicated on the relationship between the sights and the target at the moment you break the shot. In other words, if you actually have a legitimate sight picture…at the moment you break the shot…and you know the zero of your weapon…and you understand the external ballistics of the weapon-cartridge combination…as soon as you break the shot, you KNOW where the round struck the target.
On the same hand, of course, if you call your shots, then—when you do miss—you can also call your miss, and this will help you fix whatever induced the missed. That’s the skill in a nutshell, and a pretty solid reason, purely from a marksmanship skills perspective. What was that part though, that I mentioned about an “understanding of the practical application of calling your shots, outside of pure marksmanship theory applications?”
Combat Shooting Applications
One of the mantras of effective combative shooting is that we need to be shooting bad people as much as necessary to stop them from being bad. We need to forego the “double-tap and assess” school of thought, and simply keep shooting a motherfucker until he is no longer a threat—or, at least, until they are no longer the most dangerous, immediate threat. Step one in that, of courses, is actually being able to fucking hit what you are shooting at. Right? That’s the “pure marksmanship theory application” part.
Presume for a moment, that you’ve just shot at someone who was posing a legitimate lethal threat to yourself or someone you care about. Immediately after you shoot at them, they drop. Did you shoot them, and they dropped because your shot was effective? Or, did you shoot at them, and they dropped because you almost shot them? In the first case, you can—generally speaking—start looking for other work. In the second case however, if you start looking for other work, you’re probably getting ready to get shot by a very pissed-off bad guy.
Or, presume for a moment, that you’ve just shot at someone who was posing a legitimate lethal threat to yourself or someone you care about. Immediately after you shoot at them, they don’t drop. Instead, they turn towards you and start advancing. Did you hit them, but they were wearing body armor that protected them? (Contrary to popular mythology, getting shot with body armor on does not generally result in the victim being thrown backwards. Often, the recipient won’t even miss a step.) In that case, it might be prudent to know—sooner, rather than later—that you need to adjust to shooting him in the hips or head, instead of wasting precious time putting more, ineffective, rounds into his chest. Did you hit him, and he’s just not a pussy, and is not pissed off, and coming to rip your head off? In that case, while two or three or five more rounds to the same spot would probably drop him, finally, shooting him in the dick would probably rapidly accelerate the termination of hostilities. I’ve yet to see anyone get shot in the dick, and maintain interest in being a…well, dare I say it…a dick…
Did you hit him, but somewhere less vital than you were trying to shoot him? Or, did you miss entirely, and need to modify what you were doing?
How can you know, in the heat of the moment, which of any of the above, is the appropriate response to these situations? Simple answer? Confidence in your ability to call your shot, accurately, effectively, and correctly.
If I call my shot—correctly—every single time that I break a shot, with every single firearm that I fire, then, even under the stress of a gunfight, a part of my brain will have been conditioned to function outside of that terror or excitement, and tell me, “Hey, knucklehead! You pulled that shot low and left! Of course he’s not stopping; you missed!”
At the same time, it might be telling me, “Damn! You just smoked that dude in the heart, but he’s not stopping! You need to alter course! Shoot him in the dick! That always stops them!” It’s my ability to call my shots, which gives me absolute, legitimate confidence in the point-of-impact of my shots, that allows me to assess the available data from the environment, and come to correct conclusions about what I should be doing next. If I lack that ability—and the resulting confidence—what almost invariably happens is one of two things: 1) dude shoots at bad guy, but doesn’t see the anticipated result. He completely shits the bed, and proceeds to mag-dump the bad guy, continuing to miss the intended target, but shooting up bystanders instead, or 2) dude shoots at bad guy, with his patented, trademarked, “SuperDeathRayCaliber” gun, and doesn’t see the anticipated result. He completely shits the bed, and freezes, because the world is suddenly not what he thought it was, and he doesn’t know how to respond. In either case, this is bad.
Shot-calling is one of those undervalued, misunderstood—if it’s even known—skills that makeup the meta-skill of shooting that we really need to reemphasize more often in our training and practice. Start today. It WILL make you more dangerous. If you don’t know what calling your shot means, go take a training course. If that training course doesn’t cover calling your shots, take a better course, with a teacher that is actually worth a shit.
(Some long-term readers will notice that this is an extremely brief article, compared to what I typically write and post on Mountain Guerrilla. Others will just be excited that I’ve actually posted something new. I will be posting something covering the reasons and explanations behind both of these in the coming days. For now, I will be posting more regularly again. –J.M.)
We were asked to do a couple more open-enrollment classes in Oregon this fall. These will be in the vicinity of Salem, in August (hey, at least we’re not doing them in Mississippi in August, right?) As it stands now, these are the only remaining open-enrollment classes this year.
One of the requests I had at the last classes in Oregon was to tack on a Tactical Combat Casualty Care and/or an Auxiliary and Support Operations course to another class next time.
In that light, here are the classes we’ll be doing in August.
5-7 AUG 2016 Clandestine Carry Pistol (this is Fri-Sun)
8-9 AUG 2016 Tactical Combat Casualty Care (this is Mon-Tue)
11 AUG 2016 Auxiliary and Support Operations Course (this is the following Thursday)
12-14 AUG 2016 Combat Rifle Fundamentals (this is Fri-Sun)
For class details, and to register for these classes, contact HH6 at Mosbyhh6@hushmail.com
One of the primary goals of this blog, from the very beginning, has been to utilize the doctrine of unconventional warfare, to illustrate some of the critical lessons for surviving—and even thriving—through the ongoing decline of civilization as we know it, and debunk many of the fanciful, nonsense thought experiments that have been passed on as “survival gospel,” over the years. Among these useful lessons has been the tripartite division of labors within historical insurgent and resistance organizations. While we’re not interested in overthrowing the government (seriously, if that’s why you’re here, a) you’re a fucking idiot, and b) you’re in the wrong place), the lessons inherent in that division of labors between guerrilla force, underground, and auxiliary offer a useful framework for determining all of the various tasks implicit to ensuring the security, safety, and survival of our communities.
The simple reality is, not everyone is cut out to be a knuckle-dragging gunfighter, and while we should all know how to fight, including with guns, there are a host of other necessary tasks that need to be done, that can be accomplished effectively by those unsuited for face-shooting motherfuckers. Some of those tasks are fulfilled by the “auxiliary” in UW doctrine. Today, we’re going to discuss one, specifically, that—in my limited exposure—is mishandled, fumbled, and just generally fucked up, in the prepper and survivalist movement: recruiting and indoctrination.
Relax, relax. When we talk about indoctrination, we’re not talking about communist political commissars, forcing people to accept their ideology. My copy of Merriam-Webster’s dictionary has two definitions of “indoctrinate.” The first—and primary—is, “to instruct, especially in fundamentals or rudiments; to teach.” The second is the one we’re used to, from media use of the term in that context, “to imbue with a usually partisan or sectarian opinion, point-of-view, or principle.” This is an important distinction, as we’ll see below.
One of my firmly-held beliefs is that a tribalist, community-centric approach to preparedness is the only logical, experientially-proven method of long-term survival in decaying civilizations and failed-state environments. One of the more gratifying things about my third book, Forging the Hero: A Tribal Strategy for Building Resilient Communities for Surviving the Decline of Empire has been the fact that every single person I’ve spoken to, who has read it, has been extremely vocal in their agreement that the strategy described in the book is the most sensible approach they’ve seen described. (My good buddy, “Dan Morgan” of www.danmorgan76.wordpress.com, had particularly glowing words of praise for the work, and has promised me he’s going to publish a thorough review on his blog in the near future.).
The premise of the book is the same premise that I teach in my Auxiliary and Support Operations Course: surviving the Decline of Empire is not about “saving” the empire, nor is it about “restoring” the empire. It’s about ensuring the survival of those cultural values that made the empire worthwhile in the first place, and the best people to surround yourself with, in order to ensure that, is by looking at the people who you already know share your values. Who is that? Your family, friends, and neighbors.
The problem that often arises, within the preparedness and survivalist communities however, is that everyone wants to create a “group,” whole cloth, out of the thin air of “like-minded” people that they probably don’t even know. Who do you know better, and who, should you trust? The dude you met at the Oathkeepers Rally, who showed up wearing a Multi-Cam soft shell parka, with lots of III% and Gadsden Flag velcro patches, or the cousins and siblings you grew up with, and their offspring?
“But, John, my family is full of shitheads that don’t care about the Constitution, or the Bill-of-Rights, or Capitalism. They all support Bernie Sanders, for crying out loud!”
Really? So, you were just a fluke of nature, and nobody in your family shares your values, at all? Where did your values come from? Granted, it CAN happen. I’ve met people who developed values in college or the military that seemed to be diametrically opposite of what their families believed. It’s pretty fucking rare though. Even then, you—presumably—have friends that you’ve had for some time. THOSE people share your values, at least on some level, or they would not be your friends, right?
So what if your family and friends don’t share your concerns about the Decline, right now? If you’re willing to do the hard work, and think introspectively, you CAN find a way to approach them, through your shared values, in such a way to help them understand the importance of preparedness. You can, to borrow a quote, “instruct, especially in fundamentals or rudiments;” in fact, doing so, is “to imbue with a usually partisan or sectarian opinion, point-of-view, or principle.” See, recruiting and indoctrination is THE most important task the auxiliary fulfills in the UW doctrinal model. It doesn’t matter if the auxiliary is providing food, if there’s nobody to eat the damned slop. It doesn’t matter if they’re procuring weapons and medical equipment on the black market, if there’s nobody to shoot the weapons, or that will need to be patched up.
Winning Hearts and Minds
The idea of “winning hearts and minds” is often derided today as unrealistic political bullshit, conceived by feel-good politicians with their heads in the clouds, and a total lack of understanding about how to win wars. While it HAS often been misused, and IS often misused, the old meme of “grab ’em by the balls, and their hearts and minds will follow,” is just as foolhardy. While it’s demonstrably not true that “you can’t kill your way to victory,” as the bleeding hearts like to whine, it IS demonstrably true that if you start killing people who are not yet dedicated to killing you, you WILL create MORE enemies, in their families and friends.
The fact is, committed foes, who have voiced or proven their willingness to use violence to achieve their aims, are not—generally—going to be convinced by anything outside of overwhelming violence-of-action, to alter their behavior. Those people can only be “fixed” by chopping off their heads, and sticking them on spikes to scare their compatriots. The greater mass of people however, who may hold some egregious views on things, that can be educated as to the error of their ways, absent chopping off heads.
THAT is where PSYOP comes into the indoctrination equation. If we look at the seven-phase PSYOP process (that I’ve described in some detail in previous articles), we see a perfect model for approaching how we can indoctrinate those people within our community that share our key values, customs, and traditions, into the sustainable preparedness mindset.
According to US Army FM 3-05.301 Psychological Operations Process Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (AUG 07), “The seven-phase PSYOP process is a standardized, nonlinear framework by which PSYOP are planned and conducted in support of (ISO) a broad range of missions. The fundamental goal of the PSYOP process is to direct well-crafted and precise PSYOP at the most appropriate foreign target audiences (TAs) to elicit behaviors favorable to U.S. national objectives.”
Phase One of the Seven-Phase PSYOP Process (hereafter referred to as “the process,” because I’m a lazy fucker), is “Planning.” Planning involves determining what the Psychological Operations Objectives are. That is, what is the goal of your PSYOP? What behaviors are you trying to elicit?
In our context, we know that the Psychological Operations Objective is to convince those friends, family, and neighbors to adopt a more preparedness-oriented mindset, possibly including taking proactive measures.
Phase Two of the process is Target Audience Analysis. This is looking at the potential audience, in order to determine how to effectively approach them in pursuit of the objective. Target Audience Analysis (TAA) requires “sufficient knowledge and understanding of target audiences to develop effective methods to influence behavior favorable” to your objectives. This, in my estimation, is the sticking point for most people in the preparedness and survivalist movement, when it comes to recruiting and indoctrination of friends, family, and neighbors. Too many people are too comfortable in the “rightness” of their beliefs, and are unwilling to even discuss opposing views, let alone study them enough to develop any level of empathy with those who hold those opposite views. Doing so however, is genuinely necessary, to understanding the target audience adequately “to develop effective methods to influence behavior.”
An interesting—and timely—example that I often cite in classes, are twenty- and thirty-something Bernie Sanders supporters. Point the first, Bernie Sanders is a scumbag socialist and a professional politician. I am not arguing that point. Point the second, a significant cohort within the collective of Sanders supporters are raving socialists and are beyond hope of re-education.
That having been said, when you actually step back from your own preconceived biases for a moment or two, and LISTEN to what these young people are bitching about, many of their complaints are legitimate. That’s not the problem. The problem is that the “solutions” they’ve been offered, by teachers and professors and politicians and friends, are fucking horrible, and inimical to what most of us consider “traditional American values.” Instead of simply “writing off” those Sanders supporters that may exist within your community, who have shitty “solutions” to legitimate problems, we SHOULD be developing a PSYOP product that helps indoctrinate them into the “right” side of things, by educating them on realistic, effective, sane solutions to those problems. Granted, some will be beyond hope, but I can speak from personal experience that it IS possible to educate Bernie Sanders supporters, at least to the point of acknowledging that there are better solutions to the problems they are concerned about than electing that jackass to the Presidency. Whether that indoctrination will hold in the long-term depends largely on the success of the preparedness programs you implement within the community, and their experiences in achieving those successes. (For the record, I am not suggesting you should focus your recruiting efforts specifically on Bernie Sanders supporters. I am using an extreme example to illustrate a point.)
But, that sounds like work!
It’s funny, because on multiple occasions in both my Auxiliary and Support Operations course, and in other courses I’ve taught, where this subject has arisen during break-time conversations, as well as comments on this blog, the overwhelming complaint I hear from people about this is not the “impossibility” of this recruiting method or the indoctrination, but rather that “it just sounds like a lot of effort with no guarantee of payoff.”
Well, no shit?
Look, if you think surviving the Decline of Empire—or even Restoring the Republic, or Making America Great Again—is going to be easy, or simple, or an enjoyable jaunt in the park, you’re dumber than a whole crate full of granite. It is ALL difficult. Raising your own food is hard, hot, sweaty work when it is for survival and not just recreational gardening after work and on the weekends. Dealing with the people within your community, whether a natural geographical community, or a “prepper group,” is going to be far more difficult when lives are on the line, than it is when the lights and heat are still functioning. Ever tried herding cats?
Of course recruiting and indoctrination are fucking hard. Get over it. Especially if you accept that you are part of the auxiliary within your community/group/tribe/etc, then you need to recognize that recruiting is the MOST IMPORTANT job you have. It IS the job. So, suck it up, drive on, and start looking at people around you as potential members of your community, rather than looking at yourself as some Lone Ranger, doomed to surviving the Decline as a hermit.
We recently completed a Combat Rifle Applications course in NV.
Like every class I teach, I had the opportunity to pick up some great ideas during the AAR, for improving my presentation of the material, but it seems it turned out really well anyway.
The student body in this class represented a diverse range of skill and ability level.
The following review from one student seems to be representative of the experience in the class.
AAR of Combat Rifle Applications course, Nevada, April 2016
I have lots to say about the CRA course I completed a few days ago, but first let me outline my background, so that to the extent you believe me, you’ll understand my perspective and credit my views.
My military experience in the US Army and National Guard at their nadir in the 1970s was unremarkable and conveyed no bragging rights. I later served twenty years as an agent, trainer, training manager, and director of operations with a certain federal agency that requires a high level of firearms, small unit tactics, and CQB skills from its people – and in an inarguably good cause, for those of you who carry reflexively anti-government prejudices. I’m now retired and approaching the age of dirt, so if I ramble that’s my excuse. Indulge me. It also gives me a perspective on what John is doing with his courses.
My first big thumbs up to the man is for his presentation and how he runs his range. As a long-service veteran of the stultifying, safety-obsessed, over-controlled government approach to live fire training, I am a big fan of more informal methods and Big Boy Rules. John’s safety brief is thorough and complete, but he tells you up front that the old adage “all guns are always loaded” is a rule for children and raw beginners. His version places responsibility where it belongs: “know the condition of your weapon at all times.” His wrath is reserved for those who exhibit poor muzzle control, and that tracks precisely with my experience. All other rules may be violated (I’ve seen it again and again), but if the muzzle never “covers anything you are not willing to destroy,” everyone walks away, ego reduced but life and limb intact.
What many shooters and most observers will not understand is the level of effort required to run a class under these rules, in a manner that many of my classmates characterized as “laid back.” Can’t fool me. No matter how casual he appeared, there’s nothing laid back about John’s sustained awareness of safety and performance issues, and as should be apparent to anyone who knows him or has read his work, he doesn’t hesitate to put his boot up the ass (figuratively, in my limited exposure) of anyone who strays close to or across the line of safe gun handling.
Second point: content. This was an “intermediate” level class that assumed competence in the basics of rifle shooting and handling. Sounds simple, but we were a diverse group, and I’d estimate that no more than half had been through John’s basic rifle course. The rest brought foundational skills learned in several schools. As we all know, there are many ways to skin any particular cat, and John strikes an excellent balance between tolerating a broad array of differing techniques that work for different folks, and offering pointed criticism (and alternatives) where deserved. Experience again informs my opinion, that it’s indicative of a high level of skill that John was able to herd such a diverse group in the same direction, imparting choice elements of his preferred techniques and basic-level teaching without breaking stride, and pushing everyone toward the same critical performance standards. Let me reemphasize the “performance” part. He’s not teaching a secret, inner circle, proprietary JM technique that sets him apart from competing schools and instructors, a tiresome marketing-oriented approach that I could give a shit about, having seen too damn much of it over the years. He’s not browbeating students into copying his personal techniques, stance, grip, etc. If you’re safe, and effective at meeting or (for us old farts) approaching his performance standards, that’s good enough. If you’re struggling, he’ll show you a way to improve your game and leave you to apply it or not as suits you.
We spent a good part of our course perfecting our “snap” shooting ability to place good hits on target at ranges of 50-100 meters in less than one second from the standing off-hand position. That’s a demanding standard but it has changed my perspective on what counts in a rifle fight and on how to train and practice. Coming in, I couldn’t do it and wouldn’t have believed I could. I subscribed to the old mantra of get down, get more stable, and take the time required to maximize precision. I should have known better, and applied the advice I got years ago from a Marine colonel teaching operational art and decision making at the Naval War College: “Better” is the enemy of “good enough,” and “best” is the knife in its heart. This advice applies to combat rifle shooting too, and the way I balance speed and accuracy has shifted permanently thanks to John, a take-away that in itself justified the time and expense I devoted to this course. The first hit on target wins the fight, or at least sets the condition – slows the fucker down – so that a quick follow-up will resolve the issue.
The rest of our time was spent on drills that I won’t detail, all of which supported John’s focus on depth (mastery of critical skills) vs. breadth (nominal familiarity with a wide range of skills and techniques). I agree with this approach and was well satisfied. When the basic acquisition and firing stroke is trained to what an earlier instructor of mine once called a “semi-conditioned response,” it frees up critical time for decision making, which as John belabors again and again is critical in the context in which we may be employing a combat rifle. Choosing the right target and applying the basic tactical judgments involved in engaging that target successfully and not getting shot yourself in the process is obviously as important as good shooting. Neither one alone will see you successfully through the wicked and complex problem of a gunfight.
My only criticism of the course concerned the down time involved in the later, more advanced drills that were run by only one or two shooters at a time. In my training days, we spent a lot of time and effort minimizing down time for students by running ancillary activities for the folks that weren’t running a drill or exercise, or on deck for the next iteration. This will be a challenge for John, as a lone instructor at a hosted locale, but if this course was at all typical, a square range for dry fire practice and minimal live fire confirmation, with oversight by a student participant qualified to oversee such an activity safely, could have provided some added value to everyone.
Finally, I want to talk about John’s focus and audience. The civilian firearms training world is crowded with schools and instructors fighting for market share of an audience that ranges from serving law enforcement and military personnel, through gadget-happy “speed gun” hobbyists, fantasy warriors, preppers and survivalists of varying focus and seriousness, to the (in my opinion) toxic true believers in one extremist ideology or another.
This was my first John Mosby course. Even though he was recommended to me by a couple of associates of impeccable reliability and good sense, and although I’ve followed his blog and read his books for over a year, I was still not entirely sure what I’d find, both in John himself and in the self-selected students who would choose to train under him. My personal verdict, which I offer to my brothers and sisters in public service of all sorts, is that here is a man of impeccable principle, integrity, and courage who calls things as he sees them. What he sees in our near future – what we all see with variations based on our specific lenses, belief systems, and experience – is a time of increasing trouble, for which we all seek to train and prepare, for our own sakes, our families, and our communities.
If we believed that the old social contract, whereby we trusted the State to protect us from all threats, was going to hold, then we wouldn’t be training like this. To acknowledge the weakening of that contract, to observe threats mounting faster than a constitutionally-restrained government can address them, is not to welcome the change, but just to shed the blinders of normalcy bias and see things for what they are. Americans – a large fraction of us anyway – are unique among the inheritors of Western civilization in being well-armed and inclined toward independence and self-sufficiency in the face of a threat. My impression of John’s view – better stated in his own prodigious body of writing and in person – is that an armed man who lacks the skills, judgment, and responsibility that result from hard, realistic training is a threat to himself, his family, and his community; a part of the problem, and no part of its solution. I share that view and see in it no threat to anything I believe in; no threat to the oaths I’ve sworn or to my faith in the principles of our Republic or the value of the rule of law and the social consensus, now fraying, that supports it.
When a high pressure system pushes a hot, hard foehn wind down the lee slope of a mountain ridge and topples an ancient Douglas fir, the man who cries a warning and pulls his loved ones to safety is not a tree hater. He does not swing an axe or set a wedge to hasten its fall. He only reads the wind, the swaying of the half-dead crown, and the cracks of parting heartwood for what they are. Mosby is that guy.
John does not encourage, and by his speech and his manner, I rather suspect that he would not tolerate any of the toxic –ism’s of modern political discourse. If you have a problem sharing your air with people of another race, faith, or political viewpoint than your own, you’re going to have to keep that crap locked up tight or just stay away. Train elsewhere or – here’s a thought – don’t train. To paraphrase Kipling, just trust that your god will rouse you, a little before the nuts work loose. And the rest of us will be that much safer.
My thanks to John for the training I just received, and to my classmates for their dedication and good spirits and encouragement. It was worth every penny and every hour, and I recommend it to any serious person seeking to improve his skills with his primary weapon.
Greg Ellifritz, at Active Response Training (activeresponsetraining.net), posted the review of Forging the Hero, as promised.
He does a pretty good job of describing the content of the book as well.
I asked my good buddy, Greg Ellifritz, of Active Response Training, to be a pre-reader for the new book. He has promised a full-scope review in the coming days, but in the meantime tossed out this “blurb” for Sam to throw up on the FO Store site.
“Mosby starts his book with a chapter called: “Shit Just Ain’t Right.” It’s a feeling that many of us share, but few are working to resolve. Mosby, on the other hand provides some realistic solutions in his book Forging the Hero. Fixing societal problems requires community building…developing one’s self, one’s family, and one’s tribe to provide stability in the face of future uncertain times. Mosby provides a roadmap to do just that. He describes a process to build individual resiliency and construct a supportive network of family and friends to help you weather the hard times ahead. Our future isn’t in joining endless numbers of unorganized Facebook “prepper” groups for support. Our future is determined by the real world support we can build in our communities. Forging the Hero gives us the best strategies to build a community network providing for individual growth, financial support, emergency preparedness, and common defense. Reading this book and embracing the ideas within is a way to move forward and prosper in times ahead when only people with a well-developed “tribe” will prevail.”
I sat down and had a conversation with Jack Donovan, for his Start the World Podcast, about the new book and the philosophy behind it.