Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Gun owner responsibilities

In the national gun debate, the biggest focus is on the rights of the individual to keep and bear arms.  While I certainly appreciate the individuals and organizations who remain constantly on guard and fight for our rights against those who preach "common sense" restrictions and other such blather, I wonder many times if we as gun owners are our own worst enemy.  Have gun owners on the whole become so caught up in the right to own a gun that we forget the responsibilities that come with that right?

1. We have the responsibility to know and apply the safety rules.  I don't really care which version of the safety rules you follow, whether the military's, Cooper's, or the NRA's.  All cover the basics: every gun is loaded, don't point it at anything you are not willing to destroy.  If you have guns in your house and you have kids in your house, your kids need to know the rules by heart as well.  Everyone in a house with a gun needs to know the rules.

2. We have the responsibility to properly secure our guns and ammo when not in use.  This is a good idea for a number of reasons.  First, properly securing a gun reduces the likelihood of a child gaining control of the gun, especially younger children.  Second, properly securing a gun reduces the likelihood of it being stolen and a criminal gaining control of the gun.  Separating ammo from the gun further reduces the chances of an accident.  Having a gun out in the open increases chances of a fatality (whether intentional or mistaken).  If you keep a gun loaded in your home for self-defense, excellent, they make safes and lockboxes that fit your needs as well.  Simply throwing a gun on the top shelf of the closet is not enough, you need a physical means of securing it.

3. We have the responsibility to know how to use our guns.  Owning a gun and knowing how to use a gun are two entirely separate things.  While your particular use for the gun may dictate different training requirements, you need training and constant practice to retain the skills you learn.  If you carry a gun for self-defense, your training needs are far higher than someone who hunts for recreation.  In a worst case scenario, you will be expected to engage a moving target while discriminating between the threat and the non-threats around you while shielding a family member while you are moving while being shot at.  A trip to the range every couple of months isn't going to cut it.

4. We have the responsibility to be aware of any legal restrictions.  I'm not saying you have to agree with the legal restrictions, but you do need to be aware of the legal framework surrounding owning, carrying, and using a gun.  This is especially important if you carry for defense.  Every state has different rules, so just because an internet forum lawyer says you are good to go doesn't mean you actually are.  Consult a lawyer or seek out a class designed in consultation with a lawyer, preferably a pro-gun lawyer.

5. We have the responsibility to be involved in the political process.  I preach this regardless, but if you are a gun owner, you especially need to be involved in the political process.  Contributing to the NRA or other pro-gun organizations is good, but taking the time to actually contact your representatives is better.  Both pro and anti-gun organizations spend a lot of time influencing politicians.  If an anti-gun group is bending your representative's ear, what could be better than a groundswell of calls from their constituents to push back that group's influence?  Will it always work? No, but if you decide to sit out the debate, you might as well be helping the other team.

I realize that I may be preaching to the choir right now.  After all, you probably got to this blog from a pro-gun page or Google group, which means you are already taking ownership of your gun ownership.  For that, I thank you, I truly do.  Nothing makes me more hopeful for the preservation of our rights than when I see ordinary citizens taking their rights seriously.  But there are many others out there that do not take this right seriously.  They buy a gun and some ammo, load it up, maybe take a trip to the range, then put the gun in their nightstand, and there it stays.  In this day and age, that attitude simply won't cut it any longer.

X Echo 1 is a 10 year veteran of the US Coast Guard, where he has served at various units including the International Training Division and Maritime Security Response Team.  He has held qualifications including Deployable Team Leader/Instructor, Direct Action Section Team Leader, and Precision Marksman – Observer.  He has deployed/instructed on five continents and served in quick reaction force roles for multiple National Special Security Events in the US.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Redback One Combat Carbine 2 AAR

Photo credit Redback One/Boombot Media

I got the opportunity to attend the Redback One Combat Carbine 2 class at C2 Shooting Center, Virginia Beach, VA on October 25-26.  Prior to the class, I hadn’t shot a rifle except for simple zeroing since I transferred out of my last unit, almost a year and a half ago.  Needless to say, I was really excited to have a
chance to get back on the gun, learn new techniques, and have an instructor watch me for any bad habits that had crept in.

Photo credit Redback One/Boombot Media
First off, I really enjoyed learning from Jason Falla, the owner of Redback One (RB1).  Jason is a former member of the Australian Special Air Service Regiment, and his training and professionalism shows in every aspect of his instruction.  His instructional system teaches principles first, techniques second.  This system teaches a few over-arching principles that pertain to multiple scenarios, allowing the user to apply the techniques that their individual scenario requires.  As he stressed during our class, the goal is to provide “reference points” that individuals, whether LE/mil or armed citizen, can fall back on in a stressful situation, minimizing the lag created when a person confronts a new situation.

In addition to my goal of getting back on the gun, I also used this course to test out some gear, including my Faxon Firearms ARAK 5.56 upper, UF Pro Striker XT Combat Shirt, and my Dead Coyote/Tactical Tailor chest rig.  More info on those will come in later posts.

After a quick safety brief on the morning of the 25th (Day One), we started our class off with the Operator Readiness Test (ORT): 

·         Two six inch dots - one for the head, one for center mass at seven yards.
·         Fire ten rounds from the rifle into the head,
·         Transition to the pistol, fire 10 rounds of pistol center mass,
·         Reload pistol, fire two more rounds center mass,
·         Reload rifle, fire two more rounds to the head.
·         Par time: 20 seconds, no rounds outside the black.

My time Saturday was 31 seconds, with two rounds dropped.  Needless to say, I felt more than a little behind the curve at that point.  Next, we moved into simple dot drills, finding and working our red dot’s offset.  We also conducted some stress drills, moving quickly between targets and engaging various size dots.  After we worked stress drills, we worked transition drills from rifle to pistol and back, including reloading the rifle.  This is where Jason’s Individual Protection Drill (IPD) comes into play. 
Photo credit Redback One/Boombot Media
While it sounds complicated, it essentially boils down to keeping a weapon in the fight.  For example, while engaging a target, your rifle runs dry.  You immediately switch to pistol and finish the engagement.  Once the threat is neutralized, you scan for additional threats.  If no further threats present themselves, you bring the pistol to position 3 while grabbing your rifle at the “control point” (the front of the magazine well) and bring it to eye level.  From this position, you can now see both the slide of your pistol and the bolt carrier of your rifle, giving you the ability to assess the condition of both and determine what to do next while still having a weapon available if needed.  In this case, since your rifle is out of ammo and there are no further threats, you put the pistol away and reload the rifle.  If, however, your position was unsafe, you could decide to move to a better position (ie, cover) and reload or clear the malfunction.  If you were working in a team, you could call for cover while you remedied the stoppage, but since this course was geared toward individuals working alone, the IPD provides a solution for the lack of available support.  The “control point” from the IPD would also come into play on Day Two when we worked transitions to the off shoulder.

Photo credit Redback One/Boombot Media
After an eventful morning, we took a break for lunch.  While we ate, Jason lead a discussion on the precepts of Tactical Combat Casualty Care, with special emphasis on tourniquets.  He also took a minute to demonstrate RB1’s tourniquet holder (I purchased one after the course).

Our afternoon was spent working weapon malfunction drills on the rifle.  Jason likes to keep it simple, and his malfunction clearance drills illustrate that.  “Body obstructions,” such as double feeds and failures to extract are both treated the same way.  Using his IPD, once you glance at the rifle’s ejection port, if you see brass, it’s a body obstruction.  From there, you:

·         lock the bolt to the rear,
·         remove the magazine,
·         insert your fingers through the mag well to assist the rounds in falling free,
·          rack the bolt three times,
·         re-insert the mag,
·         and charge the weapon.  

Sounds drawn out, but it only takes a few seconds once you practice it.  We also covered bolt overrides.  Jason ran another stress drill where he set up three rifles with various malfunctions.  We had to sprint to the first rifle, identify and clear the malfunction, fire a round, and move to the next rifle.  After clearing all three malfunctions, we had to sprint back to the starting point.  
Photo credit Redback One/Boombot Media

We finished Day One with some extreme angle shooting emphasizing footwork.  Jason set up targets all the way to a full 90 degrees to both left and right.  This drill really pushes you to find the most efficient, not the most perfect, foot position to effectively transition and engage all the targets.

Day Two started out a little rough.  We arrived at the range at 0800, only to find out that we couldn’t go hot until 1200.  Thankfully, Jason had gotten word the night before, and he brought out his Sim guns.  We spend the first four hours working single person (or as Jason calls them, singleton) room clears.  I personally really enjoyed this, since I hadn’t been in a shoothouse in 2+ years, and I had never worked single person clears.  As a team, we always cleared with at least two people in a room.  While that works well on a tactical team, for your average homeowner a single person clear is a stark reality.

Once we got the clear to go hot, we started off with bilateral shooting.  Jason’s control point lesson really   I really enjoyed this block, as I never really practiced bilateral shooting in my previous job.  Now that I know how simple it is to transition, and how much of an advantage it can give you, I plan on practicing it a lot more.  We also spent some time clearing weapon malfunctions from the opposite shoulder, then moved into improvised shooting positions from behind cover.  Our last block of instruction was individual, two man, and five man shoot/move/communicate drills between barricades.  To finish the class off, we re-shot the ORT.  I managed to shave 7 seconds off my time, with a slight improvement in accuracy, although I still need a lot of trigger time to get under par.
Photo credit Redback One/Boombot Media
came into play here, as it forms a crucial part of efficiently switching the rifle from shoulder to shoulder while maintaining the ability fire as quickly as possible.

My biggest takeaways from this course were the use of the high ready and its applicability to defensive tactics, bilateral shooting, singleton room-clearing operations, and malfunction clearance.  Since I had never used my ARAK except in zeroing, getting a chance to work up and practice malfunction drills was a huge benefit.  I’ll also be re-evaluating my ARAK setup and making sure that I can operate all the controls, including the flashlight, with either hand.  

Jason also deserves massive credit for going ahead with a five person course.  I know his profit margin was probably pretty slim, but I also know that all five of us took something away from this course, and it was great to see him put forward a clear students-first ethos.  His adaptability on Sunday also made sure we got our money’s worth out of the course, when he could have easily copped out by pointing to the range restrictions.  He’s currently putting together the 2015 calendar, and I know I’m personally looking for his Home Defense course in the local area before I head back to Texas in June.
Photo credit Redback One/Boombot Media

X Echo 1 is a 10 year veteran of the US Coast Guard, where he has served at various units including the International Training Division and Maritime Security Response Team.  He has held qualifications including Deployable Team Leader/Instructor, Direct Action Section Team Leader, and Precision Marksman – Observer.  He has deployed/instructed on five continents and served in quick reaction force roles for multiple National Special Security Events in the US.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Rogue Gunfighter No Vis Med Kit review

So I've had the chance to evaluate the Rogue Gunfighter No Vis Med Kit for a little over a week now, and I thought you might be interested in hearing about it.

The No Vis Med Kit is an ankle worn blowout kit designed to allow the wearer to provide the self-aid (or buddy-aid) portion of tactical combat casualty care.  It comes with or without medical supplies, allowing you to fill it with their med supplies, or supplies of your choosing.  If you choose to use their supplies, you'll receive a pair of nitrile gloves, SOFTT-W wide tourniquet, trauma shears, Halo chest seal, nasopharyngeal airway, TCCC card, your choice of QuikClot, Quikclot LE (with ID), or Celox-R, and Z-pak dressing.  All in all, very similar to the blowout kit I wore at MSRT, so I'm familiar with the use of all the contents.

The pouch itself actually has four pockets: two contained within a fold-over Velcro pouch, and two made of elastic.  I personally pack the Quikclot and Z-pak in one fold-over pocket, the Halo in the other, and use the elastic pouches for the SOFTT-W and shears.  The gloves I shove wherever I can fit them.  The sewing and materials of the pouch are top-notch.  The backing is the same type of expanded mesh used in the Improved Outer Tactical Vest and is designed to allow air to circulate, reducing heat, sweat, and hot spots.  So far, it seems to work quite well.  I've been wearing it for a little over a week every day, anywhere from 30 minutes to over 8 hours while moving constantly, and it stays in place, yet is cushioned and breathable.  You could honestly almost forget it's there once you get used to it. 

With that said, it does take a little getting used to.  The fold-over pouch is a little bulky, and you may have to adjust your stride slightly to accommodate.  If you're used to wearing an ankle holster like I am, you'll transition pretty quickly.  Also, a pair of relaxed fit jeans or tactical pants drapes over the kit nicely and conceals it quite well.  The first few times I wore it, no one in the office had any idea until I showed them.  My dress pants, on the other hand, have a slightly smaller ankle, and I couldn't get the No Vis kit to conceal.  I'm going to be evaluating the new RE Factor Tactical Multimode Discreet IFAK for that purpose.
Overall, I'm very happy with my purchase.  My only complaint in this purchase was the customer service that I received.  There was a six week wait between when I ordered the kit and when I received it, with no explanation despite three separate emails.  Seeing the kit, I would have happily waited six weeks for it had I known about the wait in the first place.

If you are looking for a discrete way to carry a blowout kit without having to bulk up your belt or carry a bag, definitely check this kit out.  The pouch alone retails for $47.99, and the pouch with supplies retails for $147.98.  You can check them out at Rogue Gunfighter.

The picture really doesn't do it justice.  The kit conceals much better if you give the pants a chance to drape, usually within a couple of steps...

X Echo 1 is a 10 year veteran of the US Coast Guard, where he has served at various units including the International Training Division and Maritime Security Response Team. He has held qualifications including Deployable Team Leader/Instructor, Direct Action Section Team Leader, and Precision Marksman – Observer. He has deployed/instructed on five continents and served in quick reaction force roles for multiple National Special Security Events in the US. In addition to his Coast Guard credentials, he is also an NRA Certified Instructor, focusing his attention on civilians looking for professional instruction for their defensive needs.