Pay Attention!

distracted-people

In his book, “Deep Work”, Cal Newport contends we are so distracted in today’s society, specifically by technology, that we are ineffective. If you watch people who are out walking on the street, a majority have their heads down, looking at their phone. Think about how many emails you receive, and send. How much time each day do you spend on social media? Our ability to focus on a task without being distracted has been compromised. Make no mistake, this is a skill that must be developed and practiced daily. The importance of it is critical to not only your career, but to your survival, as well.

In an earlier post, we looked at being more aware of your surroundings. Bad guys don’t just “come out of nowhere”. You just didn’t notice them. Why? Because you had your head down, looking at your phone, or talking to someone. You were thinking about something else, or just daydreaming. Your ability to be aware of what’s going on around you is your first line of defense. You have the ability to make good decisions when you have time to think, and realize your options. The closer the bad guy gets to you, the less time you have to make a decision, and the fewer options you have to divert an attack.

Here’s a challenge for you this week. The first part of this challenge is to not look at your phone until you are in your office, or at home. Don’t look at it while you are driving, while you’re walking from your car to your office, while you are in a restaurant, or anywhere else. Look around. Watch what others are doing. See who’s watching you. The second part of this challenge is to post a comment on this blog as to what you observed. Let us know what may have surprised you that you missed before.

Hopefully, you’re not being distracted at work right now by reading this post!

Stay Safe!

mugging

One of the questions we ask in training class is why you purchased a handgun. By far, the majority of our students have them for personal protection. The world is a nasty place, and for the most part, seems to be getting worse each day. However, we hope that we never have to use it. We also know that hoping doesn’t make it reality.

There are a number of things you can do to make sure you reduce the chances of being put in that situation. In this posting, let’s look a few of the things we can do to help keep us out of a bad situation.

The first thing you can do is to not go to areas that are notorious for violent issues. In a city nearby, there is an eight block path that runs east and west through the entire city. This is where the majority of homicides occur every year. These are due to drug and gang activity, for the most part, but that doesn’t keep an innocent bystander or someone driving by from inadvertently being involved. Use common sense and stay away from there. Anytime you are aware that a place is dangerous, don’t go there.

Along these same lines, but very controversial is the recommendation to stay away from gun-free zones. These are intended to be safe areas, such as schools, sports arenas, malls, and other such places. However, the bad guys also know that there will be little to no resistance should they decide to do whatever they want to do. Who’s going to stop them? Look at a number of the past mass shootings. Where did they occur? Gun-free zones. If you aren’t given the ability to defend yourself, you’re taking a big risk. Stay away.

Second, be aware of your surrounding and what’s going on around you. Get your head up, out of your phone, and pay attention to where you are and who’s around you. This doesn’t pertain to just walking down the street or driving in your car. It also means knowing your neighbors and those in your neighborhood. Our well-intentioned government has decided to let thousands of refugees into our country. There is no possible way each and every one of these people were properly vetted to ensure that they are safe and/or harmless. It’s not just foreigners that you should be aware of, either. Have you checked with your local police or sheriff’s department to see about sexual offenders in your area? Know who everyone is, what they do, and what’s going on in their lives. How many times have you heard someone being interviewed on television or radio after their neighbor just committed a heinous crime say, “He seemed like such a nice guy. He was quiet and kept to himself, and I never expect he was capable of doing this.” Well, he was and you didn’t know it.

The last point is to learn to be a hard target. Criminals are lazy. They don’t want to do anything hard. They like soft and easy. If you look nervous or scared, uncertain of yourself, or carry yourself in such a way that the criminal thinks you would be an easy person to overwhelm, you’re a soft target. Walk with confidence. If you’re in unfamiliar territory, don’t be there alone. Make sure they notice that you are aware of them, and that you’re keeping an eye on them. Don’t let yourself be surprised. Again, you’ve probably heard folks being interviewed say, “I’m not sure what happened. He came out of nowhere.” No one comes out of nowhere. The victim wasn’t paying attention when the criminal got out of the car across the street, and headed right for them. Why didn’t they see them? They had their head down looking at their phone.

The intent of this post is not to make you paranoid, but to improve your awareness of your surroundings. Don’t be the person who says, “I didn’t know,” or “I never saw it coming.” If you improve your skills in these areas, hopefully you’ll never have to use that gun you bought for self-defense.

Determining the Right Caliber

handgun-cartridges

If you’re buying a handgun for the first time, you’re going to get a lot of advice on what to get. This will include brand, model, caliber, etc. We looked at the brand and model in the last posting, so let’s discuss caliber.

When determining the right caliber, you should first ask yourself, “Why am I getting a pistol?” Understand that a pistol is a tool to help you accomplish a task. Is it for target shooting, hunting, or personal defense? If it’s for target shooting, you may want a .22, or if you’re shooting IDPA or ISPC, you’ll probably want a 9mm up to a .45 Auto. For hunting calibers, many states have designations as to which calibers are legal to use for certain game. If it is for personal defense, you should generally consider a .380 or larger caliber. Your purpose is to stop the bad guy. Anything smaller than this caliber probably won’t do the job. For the rest of this post, we’ll assume that we are using this pistol for personal protection.

As stated earlier, comfort is important, and this applies especially when it comes to recoil. The amount of “felt” recoil is affected by a number of factors, including the weight of the pistol, the weight of the bullet, and the bullet velocity (the amount of charge behind the bullet).

Most who are new to carrying a handgun think they need a small, lightweight pistol. While this may be more comfortable to carry, think about the reason you are carrying it; to be able to shoot accurately. If the pistol has enough recoil that it causes you to flinch, or be inaccurate, you should look at carrying something heavy enough to take some of the recoil away. The heavier the gun, the less recoil you will feel. A light weight .380 Auto may have as much recoil or more than a full size 1911 .45 Auto due to the weight of the gun. A titanium .38 special will have enough “kick”, that it may not be comfortable to shoot, even though it is easy to carry in a purse. If at all possible, try shooting a few different size pistols before you buy. Concealing a larger gun is not as difficult as you may think. I have carried a full sized Glock and 1911 for years, and only those who know that I carry all the time are even aware.

There are a few circumstances where a person cannot use a .380 caliber or higher due to a physical condition. If this is the case, get the largest caliber possible. Something is better than nothing. If a .22 is the best you can do, be the very best you can be with it. If someone tells you it’s not big enough, ask him or her if they would like to get hit with a one. Chances are they’ll say no.

Be sure to also try different ammunitions in your pistol to determine which is the most accurate in your gun. Not all guns like all ammunition. Some cartridges just won’t feed right, and it’s important to determine this on the range instead of in a critical situation.

Buying a Handgun

comparing-guns

A few months ago, I had a conversation with a guy who wanted to come to our range and become an instructor. He had recently retired from the Army, and felt that he knew enough to become part of our staff. He had used the Beretta 92F throughout his career in the military, and in no uncertain terms, told me that it was the only handgun he recommended to everyone he trained. As we continued to talk, his ways of training were very set, in his mind, and he wanted to make sure that we would also feel the same, changing our programs to his style. Needless to say, the conversation didn’t last long, and he isn’t on our staff.

After listening to some other guys and many of the women who attend our classes, I felt like stirring up some controversy today, so this post is for the ladies.

LADIES, DO NOT LISTEN TO ANYONE WHO TELLS YOU WHICH PISTOL TO BUY! Do you let your husband or boyfriend pick out the purse or handbag you carry? Why not? Because it’s what fits you. The same is true for pistols. Guys are going to tell you that you need to buy a revolver, a small .380, and on and on. About 80% of the women who come to The Shooting Range for the NRA Basic Pistol Class leave knowing they are going to sell the gun they came with and buying something else. Why? It doesn’t fit them.

Ladies, you can be just as much at fault. Do not buy a pistol because you think it’s cute or because it is pink. Looks don’t matter. Guns I thought were ugly as sin have also been some that shot best. The ability to shoot comfortable and accurately, is what matters.

So, how do you know what to buy? The bad news is that there are hundreds to choose from. That’s also the good news. Unfortunately, most stores don’t let you test drive one before you buy it. If you know someone who has a few handguns, ask if you can go out shooting with them. Most folks who shoot are always looking for an excuse to go to the range.

The quality of firearms today compared to 20 years ago has greatly improved. There are many good, quality pistols on the market today, and in upcoming posts, we’ll look at some of the features you should look for when making your selection. Again, the selection of the gun that fits you is your decision, and your responsibility. Do your research and make the right choice for you.