21 December 2015

The 10mm Bear Gun?

 The 10mm as a woods gun


Hunting with a handgun is one thing. Self-defense against toothy things is a different critter all together. When most everything is in your favor and you are calling the shots, so to speak, things are MUCH different than when you are being attacked. Those that are shooting 4" groups at 10 or 15 yards and think they shooting pretty well do not need to be trying to hunt with a handgun. I'm sure everyone here knows accuracy that may be considered adequate for defensive purposes may be woefully inadequate for quick, humane kills while hunting. As far as bears are concerned, are you talking black bears or one of the big bears? If it's black bear, the 10mm will do fine if you choose the right ammo and place your shots carefully. I wouldn't hesitate to hunt blackies with my G20. Big bears, OTOH, are a different story. For HUNTING big bears I would use a minimum of a hot-loaded .44 mag with at least 300 grain hard cast WFN bullets. Preferably, I would have .454, .480 Ruger or a .460 S&W. For DEFENSE against big bears, if I were not planning to have anything to do with them and they just happened along at an inopportune time, I would still use my G20 loaded with hot 200 grain FP-FMJ's or, if I had an after-market bbl (which I do), I might use a hard-cast 200 grain WFN or something along those lines that fed reliably in my gun.

Here's why I say that. I carry a Glock of some sort every day, every waking minute. It's safe to say that I am intimately familiar with it. It's also safe to say that under extreme duress, a man does funny things. I read an account of a man that had been close enough to an angry griz to hit him with a pistol and was carrying a large caliber SA revolver. Because he was used to a DA revolvers, he repeatedly pulled the trigger on the SA and it never fired. Fortunately, the bear must have had other dinner plans and left. Another account had a man empty his DA revolver and continue to pull the trigger, clicking on empty chambers, until his compadre took the gun away from him after the bear had left. Being that close to something that has a mouth that you can put your head in, teeth nearly as long as your fingers and breath that will drop your socks in cotton puddles around your ankles is probably the most stress that a guy might ever experience.

Expecting to perform as you THINK you should be able to when in the safety of your living room is not going to be a happening thing. When you have little to no control over your fine motor skills, you will only do what you have practiced, good or bad. Having committed the operation of your weapon to muscle memory is a good thing. I can shoot a revolver pretty damn well and pretty damn fast but I am certain that I could dump 15 rounds of hot 10mm's (weighing a total of 3000 grains) into Bruno and reload a HELL of a lot faster than I could shoot 5 rounds (weighing a total of 1500 grains) out of a very big, heavy single or DA revolver and reload. Yes, I know the .44/.454/.480/ hot loaded .45 Colt has a lot more energy than the 10mm does. Just about any CF rifle caliber over .25 has more than all of those and is the clear winner of this discussion. However, I am certain that multiple 180-200 grain, .40 caliber bullets at 12-1300 fps has more collective energy than multiple loads of 00 buck but there are a great many guides and experienced hunters up north that recommend the 12 gauge with alternating 00 and slugs as a camp gun. The slugs, of course, are a different story but buckshot is usually made of very soft lead and to think that you get even a fraction of the required penetration with it is ludicrous.

As far as the likelihood of being attacked is concerned, I don't think it is quite as remote as some might think although I have spent a large amount of my 59 years in the woods and a good bit of it in ID, WY and MT and I have never been attacked. However, in some parts of the country, it is more likely that you will be attacked by a critter than a human but we all still feel the need to CCW everywhere we go. In the 4 years that I spent in Cody, WY, there were 2 attacks by grizzlies on people that we knew. The bear came back for seconds in one of those instances and mauled the man that had already been mauled the first time and lightly mauled another guy. They claim to have shot 2-3 .338's into him and 6 .44 mags but, (they claim) they never found him. The wounds were very real and life-threatening after the 2nd go-round.

We’ve watched a medium sized grizzly rip the top off of a little Ford Ranger like a sardine can sitting at a trailhead one morning. Had someone walked up on him at that time, they probably would have been in a fix.

So I think the potential is there and is more likely if you don't conduct yourself properly. I'm fairly certain that many folks having never been attacked is at least partially due to knowing how to act and keeping a clean camp. Folks that don't do that are actually somewhat likely to be attacked.

The hard, cold facts are that you may not have time to use either so it's probably a moot point so you might want to save the last round for yourself. That's my opinion and you're welcome to it.

It's pretty tough to beat the 10mm for a woods gun. I don't particularly care for as it an SD gun but it's dynamite in a rural environment. It's accurate, hard-hitting and the capacity is quite appealing in areas where things with teeth live. The recoil on the 10mm is a little offensive to some, especially in steel-framed guns but it's quite comfortable in the full-sized Glock. My ex 5'2" and weighed about 110 and she absolutely adores my G20 and has no issues with shooting it at all.

Some compare it to the .41 magnum and rightfully so. However, factory loads are not THAT much horsier than the .40 S&W unless you buy ammo from Buffalo Bore or Double Tap or you reload your own. I reload and I can easily get over 1200 fps out of 200 grain bullets without any signs of high pressure. I can get a little over 1300 fps out of 180's. THAT is very much encroaching into .41 mag territory. With that being said, I can say, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that I would rather have a Glock 20 loaded with my 200 grain handloads for protection in big bear country than any other handgun or load in existence. Is it more powerful than a .454 or .460? Hell no, but I'll bet you I can put 15-200 grain bullets at near .41 mag performance in Bruno a whole lot faster than the average guy can ACCURATELY put 5-300 grain .45's in him. I can also get 15 more in place and ready to unload into him in a hair over a second if need be, which I doubt. Muscle memory plays a big part in my decision also. Since I carry a Glock daily and train regularly, the speed and unconscious operation of the gun would be much to my benefit. The 10mm would NOT be my first choice for HUNTING big bears but only for defense against them.

The accuracy and velocity claims of the 6" "hunting" barrel are grossly over-rated and for the most part are pretty much a non-issue. The assumption that the longer barrel is inherently more accurate is a common one but not generally factual. If you do not have the corresponding sight radius, it wouldn't make any difference if the barrel was a foot longer than the slide, much less 1" longer. So you'll increase your velocity slightly by putting the longer barrel on but if you want to possibly increase your accuracy, you'll need a longer slide and accompanying sight radius too. Just as a point of interest, I killed a nice mule deer with my G20 at 112 yards a few years ago with a stock barrel.

The CLAIMED increase in velocity is BS. You're only talking 1.4" difference. On the average, ANY firearm gains or loses between 35 and 50 fps per inch of barrel length added or subtracted. Yes, there are exceptions but the 10mm is not one of them. Even if you give it the benefit of the doubt and assume that you're going to get the larger number, you're only talking about 70 fps difference. That's hardly worth the expense of a new barrel that's not going to increase your accuracy also. Now if you went with a longer barrel AND a longer slide for the sight radius, it may be worth it to some folks. Not me.
Just to take away some of the guess work, here are some actual chronograph readings from 3 different 10mm bbls. The numbers listed are an average of 5 shots with 180 grain Remington UMC ammo. My handloads are considerably faster but I didn't have a chance to try them in all 3 barrels.

The first was a stock Glock barrel at 1043 fps.

The next was a KKM .45/10mm conversion barrel, at 1037 fps. I actually lost 6 fps but that was to be expected due to the better gas seal provided by Glocks rifling and the additional drag of the conventional rifling in the KKM bbl.

The last was a 6" KKM "hunting" barrel at 1063. Notice that the 6" bbl was only 20 feet faster than the stock barrel. We only expected 50-70 fps increase in the first place assuming the barrels were the same except for length. Considering stock Glock barrels are usually faster then cut-rifled barrels anyway, that 50-70 foot difference doesn't hold true. Now if you put a GLOCK 6" bbl with the same rifling as the stock bbl, you'd see a little bigger difference. So, with all that being said, you don't gain enough by going to a 6" to justify the expense of it by my way of thinking.

So, in a nutshell, if you're a hard-core revolver aficionado and you feel confident with it, by all means that;s what you should carry. But at least consider what has been said here. For me, I am exceedingly pleased with G20 in the woods pretty much anywhere in North America and beyond!


In Liberty,
Cope Reynolds (Desertscout)
Southwest Shooting Authority of Arizona

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24 November 2015

Freedom is not free!!


Everyone is starting to see lots of requests by different groups and individuals to help defray the expense of fighting for liberty. In 17 years of doing this, I have never once asked for help in the way of donations. We have received a few from good-hearted, loyal patriots but we never asked for them. We have conducted a few fund raisers like turkey shoots and raffles over the years but time is of the essence right now and staging fundraisers just isn't in the cards. If we make it safely through this winter, maybe we can start doing some of that fun stuff again next year.

Surely all of you have seen at least some of the stuff going around on the various news outlets. Natural disasters, terrorism, economic and social degradation, illegal immigration, gov't over-reach and invasions, etc, etc. The vast majority of people do nothing either because they don't care or they are oblivious to what is going on.

There are also many patriots that are simply unable to do anything physically no matter how much they want to.

Then there's the III%. Those few that will risk life and limb. Those dedicated, patriotic individuals that put all else aside and dive head first into the fray. Whether it be helping citizens during disasters, helping law enforcement during search and rescue operations or getting involved in the battle for liberty, the III% are getting things done.

Unfortunately, everything we do costs money. We have homes, jobs and families just like everyone else.

We can't do this much longer without some help. Our personal gear wears out or gets damaged and has to be replaced. Sometimes we need specialized items for certain missions that we don't normally have. There's tires, fuel, maintenance, food, medical supplies, porta-potties and much more.

The informed patriot knows that time is short. We know that there is a storm brewing. Most of us feel that we are past the point of no return. Whatever is going to happen will happen with or without us. The concern is, will we be able to continue the struggle, whatever it may be for, or will we be defeated because we can't travel to where we need to go or feed ourselves or will many simply quit because of personal issues.

The requests probably won't stop anytime soon. The big question for those donating, and a very legitimate one, is where does money go and what is it used for? Just like any other large group of people, there will always be a few that are unethical and in it for themselves. We saw that at Bundy Ranch. We saw it down on the border and we saw it in Washington state during the fires. Do your research and chose carefully who you donate to. None of us really have an in-depth accounting system. We operate on the honor system. I can tell you that it doesn't take long to separate the wheat from the chaff.

One thing that I can assure you of... We, you and I, are the only thing that stands between the citizens of this Nation and our destruction by the enemies of all that is good. The morals, values and standards that most of us grew up with are being destroyed by enemies bith foreign and domestic. From without and from within.

There are current issues that MUST be dealt with immediately and others on the horizon.
Make an informed choice, but make a choice. Support the militias and patriot groups that are giving their all for their God and their Nation.



In Liberty,
Cope Reynolds (Desertscout)
Southwest Shooting Authority of Arizona

If you'd like to help support our efforts, you can do so by donating to The Shooting Bench by clicking the "DONATE" button below!





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Colts and Kimbers are what you show your friends.
GLOCKS are what you show your enemies!













11 July 2015

Shotgun Ammunition Performance for Home Defense

SHOTGUN AMMO 
Once again, I must apologize for taking so long to post new material here! However, this topic comes up with monotonous regularity and the amount of misinformation concerning it is mind-boggling. Here are the results of some testing that we did back in 2009 that may clear up some things for you...

*****


Shotgun Ammunition Performance for Home Defense

This began as a response to a guy that had posted his experience shown in the bracketed text below...

[[Originally Posted by Xxxxxx
Just a warning... I just did some running/shooting drills with 20ga birdshot out of a 28" barrel with a modified choke.
Granted, I was shooting 7 1/2 shot, where 6-shot & a 12ga would probably be what you chose... 
Still, even at 7 yards where the pattern is only about 2 inches in diameter, the shot only penetrated about 3/8" into a weather-worn 2x6.
I've heard some people say birdshot is the same as buckshot at close ranges... and I don't think it's true.
Xxxxxx]]

After seeing this, I decided to do some testing and posted my results in the same forum...

  Seeing how far lead shot goes into a wooden 2x6 at 7 yards tells you approximately how far your shot will penetrate into a 2x6 at 7 yards. I'm not sure that that is a reasonable indicator as to how well the same load will perform in human tissue at the same range. It might offer a little more information to shoot it into something that is flesh and bone. Shoot into a turkey or ham at the same distance and see what you get. By the way, set a doll behind the turkey a couple of feet away for visual effect. You might be surprised.

I realize that 7 yards is pretty standard for testing performance and I generally agree on that but for home defense, well, I don't know for sure. The way my house is arranged, there's only 1 place that I can get a 7 yard shot. 3 to 5 yards would easily be the average. 

This is not to be argumentative but consider this: You do your testing at 3-5 yards and see if your chosen load is acceptable. If you like it, good. That means that any pellets that miss won't be doing much damage beyond that. Birdshot will almost certainly not OVER-penetrate except at point-blank range.

Since frozen turkeys are so cheap, buy 2 or 3 of them and do the same thing with #4 buck and 00 buck.

No, I am not trying to convince everyone that #7.5 birdshot is the best home defense load by any means, but I surely do NOT believe that 00 buck is either. At least not if you have people in other parts of the house.
Or if you live a trailer park with another trailer right next door.
Or if you live in an apartment or duplex where the neighbor's kid sleeps just 8" away on the other side of that wall.

I think #4 buck or #2 birdshot might be a better choice.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
We went out to the range one morning before we opened and played with the scatterguns a little bit. Pretty interesting. We got it all on video and I'll try to put it on YouTube one of these days. But here's what we found out anyway

I took a couple good-sized, thawed, bone-in pork shoulders approximately 7" thick and put them a pedestal at the customary 7 yards. The first one was shot with the #4 buck and the second with #2 birdshot. The gun was 12 gauge Mossberg 590 with cylinder bore. Without seeing the video, you will never be able to appreciate what we saw but both sizes of shot would be more than adequate. The difference between the two was pretty much indistinguishable. The shoulders both blew up like they had grenades in them. We found pieces of meat as far away as 17 yards forward of the pedestal and 20 yards behind it. Most of the pieces were between the size of a marble and golf ball and they were EVERYWHERE, including the back window of my truck which was 13 yards behind where the meat was. A half dozen pieces were slabs the size of your hand. I will have to review the video in slo-mo to see for sure but we all agreed that the #2 birdshot was more dramatic than the buckshot.

We also shot some 5 gallon jugs of water with 7.5 and #2 birdshot; and #4 and 00 buck. The results were pretty inconclusive because the plastic was so thick.
The 7.5 caved in the front of the jug a little but only a few of the pellets entered it with zero exiting. The jug tipped up but did not quite fall off the stand.

Quite a few of the #2's entered, zero exits and the energy transferred to the jug knocked it off the stand and about 3' from it.

All of the #4 buck entered, most exited with a few bouncing off the inside of the jug and remaining inside. The distance that the jug was knocked off was virtually identical to the #2 birdshot.

All of the the 00 entered and 75% of them exited (these were 12-pellets loads). Three of them bounced off the inside and remained in the jug. The distance that the jug was knocked off was virtually identical to the #2 birdshot.

I bought 4 turkeys the night before to test all 4 sizes of shot but they weren't thawed enough to use the next morning. We left them in the conex out at the range so that we could continue the tests the next day.

Here is more of the original poster's comments...
Quote:
This afternoon, I am going to use my 12ga Winchester model 12 (at least 28" barrel, so we'll be getting MAX velocity)
Velocity will not change much, if any, by using a 12 gauge, providing you're using the same type of shell. He said the 20 gauge that he used originally had a 28" bbl also. There will be a larger amount of shot, thus a larger shot column using the 12 gauge, but it won't be going any faster. In fact, you may find the smaller gauge to be faster depending on manufacturer. If you use Winchester AA trap loads in your 20 gauge and Winchester high velocity hunting loads in the 12 gauge then yes, the 12 ga will be faster. Federal lists it's 12 gauge Premium Gold Medal as 1180 fps for 1 oz. of shot and 1145 for 1 1/8 oz. of shot. The same shell in 20 ga is listed as 1200 fps but for 7/8 oz. of shot. The same shell in a .410 runs 1230 fps but with 3/4 oz. shot.

Contrary to very popular belief, you'll find that going to a 3" magnum doesn't usually give you any more velocity either and in most cases is slower than the 2 3/4". The 3" shell gives you more shot, not more speed. A 3" Federal Power-Shok with 00 buck runs 1210 fps. The same size shot in a 2 3/4" shell runs 1325. Different manufacturers and configurations will vary slightly but not that much.

I would never, in my wildest nightmares, use slugs in a home defense gun!

Think about this also. Handguns are ballistically inferior to everything else out there except slingshots so we all teach, "double taps", "controlled pairs", "shoot 'em to the ground!" or whatever. No one will ever convince me that a "controlled pair" of #6 or 7.5 birdshot at accepted defensive ranges will not stop 99% of the people you use it on. If it doesn't, what do you with the other 1%? It's called a "failure to stop" shot. Show me a guy that can take a couple of loads of birdshot to the chest and another to face and still be a danger to me and I'll show you a guy that won't stop with 2-.308's in his chest either. Way too many places train people to shoot just once with a shotgun assuming that it will always stop the guy. It might not so I would plan for a follow-up shot with it just as I would any other weapon, no matter what size shot I was using. Once again, I don't claim that #7.5 shot out of a shotgun is anywhere near optimum but I don't think 00 buck is either. I don't want people thinking that 7.5 is woefully inadequate either.

I have killed way more animals in my life than some folks would think was ethically necessary. The whys and wheres and whens of all that are irrelevant right now but suffice it to say that that kind of thing just comes with living on a ranch and hunting for 50 years. What does this have to do with anything?

About 25 years ago, I shot a coyote that was terribly stricken with mange near San Augustine, TX, from a moving pick-up at about 35 miles an hour with a full-choked 20 ga loaded with Federal Express #6 birdshot. The animal was standing, broad-side, just up from the bar ditch and I was driving down a 2-lane hwy so she was around 40-50' away. A few of the pellets went completely through her and she died instantly. I still have pictures. I shot another one with the same load also from around 40' away. He was sitting facing me and I hit him dead-center chest. He was thrust back on his haunches and died instantly. I didn't do an autopsy to see what the damage was but from the way he died, I'd say his giblets got stirred up pretty well. Does this make #6 birdshot the ideal coyote load? Certainly not but it does kinda give you an idea of the relative effectiveness of small shot in living tissue.

The point of the coyote experiences above were more for the penetration factor than the fact that they died. There is much discussion concerning passing along those "one-in-a-million" kills or failure to kill as fact. I once shot a chicken-killing German Shepherd at 70 yards with a G23 and he dropped like he'd been hit with a .30-06. Funny thing though, 2 years later, I shot a rabbit-stealing German Shepherd at 45 yards with a 165 gr. SPBT out of a .30-06 and he ran all the way home and lived. It was good shot. He had just pulled out from the our fence where the small animals were and was running down the road. The bullet hit about 2" behind the shoulder and, of course, went all the way through. The dog, ran home and I figured he'd die. I went over to tell the owner what happened and he rushed the dog to the vet and he was out running around in a few days. I shot his brother a year earlier (he was in the horse corral) with the same gun and load and he was dead before he hit the ground. Very strange.

Originally Posted by Xxxxxx
Something else I just thought of...

It may be apples and oranges to compare the damage bird shot does to coyotes and turkeys to what it could do to humans. I think it's fair to call humans "Big Game", so testing the penetration on a deer rib cage might be a good idea.

If a human's 'parts' are twice as big as a coyote's parts, than the birdshot compared to a human is the equivalent of shot twice as big when fired at a coyote.

Anyway, it could be argued that a .10 caliber pellet hitting a coyote is the same thing as a .20 caliber pellet hitting a human...an animal twice as large. A turkey? Maybe it would be like a .40 caliber pellet hitting a human. A rabbit? Maybe it would be like a 1.10 caliber pellet hitting a human.

Do you see what I mean?
I see your point, yes. The problem with ballistic testing is that there are just no absolutes. The turkey, in my mind, might KINDA give me an idea of what kind of penetration to expect out of any given shot but it doesn't have the heavy human breast bone or the proper sized vitals but I think it will be much better than a milk jug full of water or a 2x6. I've put ads in the newspaper trying to get some liberals to volunteer for some realistic, scientific ballistic testing but, so far, no takers.

A lot of folks insist that testing into ballistic gelatin is somehow a realistic way to test ballistics but there's something about testing in ballistic gelatin that just doesn't quite sit well with me. Yes, it's consistent but it's not meat. It has no bones, no tendons or sinew or cavities or different textures. To get exact comparisons of the performance of certain projectiles, I have no doubt that it is a good way to do it but I'm just not convinced that ANY projectile performs the same way in jello as it does in meat. Some will say that I'm full of it but that's still how I see it. 

OK, back to the original topic...here’s my thoughts on birdshot vs. buckshot for home defense.

We shot 4 - 13# turkeys and the results were pretty much what we expected although the #4 buck didn't do exactly what I thought it would. They were all dressed up a T-shirt and Carhart style jacket. The gun was a Mossberg 590, cylinder-bore 12 gauge firing from 7 yards. #7.5 shot is .10" in diameter and there is about 350 of them in a standard 2.75" shell. The #2 is .15" with 87 pellets. The #4 buck is .25" with 24 pellets. The 00 buck is .33" and there are normally 9 pellets in a shell. For those not familiar with shot sizes, here's a comparison photo.
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As expected, the #7.5 birdshot spread out quite bit but still easily went through all the clothing. Even the single pellets went through the clothing and entered the turkey. The bulk of the pellets made an entrance wound about 2"x2.5" and went through to the back where most of the shot embedded and did not exit. The shot pushed the turkey off of the table.




The #2 birdshot did very well as far as I'm concerned. Because of the clothing, it was difficult to tell exactly where the breast was and we missed the center a little bit but the #2 made a very impressive entrance by severing a leg and in turn causing a gaping entrance wound. Pretty much all the shot went all the way through, even after going through the leg and bone. Some of the shot exited and large portion of it stopped right under the skin on the off-side. I have no doubt that the over-whelming majority would have exited had we been 2 yards closer. This load rolled the turkey end-over-end off the table.

__________________

The #4 buck also did well but I expected a little better penetration. The hole made by the main shot column (top hole) was about an inch around and was encircled by 7 pellets that left the main column. The lower hole was made by the wad. This load did quite a bit of damage but it appeared that only about 3/4 of them exited. One pellet was found just under the skin and 4 more poured out when we undressed the turkey. There is no doubt that it all would exited had we been just a tad closer. The turkey did not leave the table.

__________________

100% of the 00 buck penetrated completely. The entrance hole was about 3/4"x1" with no stray pellets. The damage inside was extensive. We opened it up a little more to look for pellets and found none. I think we would have had 100% exit even if we had moved back 3, maybe even 5 yards farther. Since we had total penetration, we started looking for the pellets. We found where they hit the dirt bank 4 yards behind the table and dug up a couple of them 7" deep. From the way they are deformed, they hit the dirt pretty hard. No other pellet of any size showed much deformation just from the turkey. The turkey slid off the table but not nearly as dramatically as one would have expected due to the total penetration. The reason it slid off the table was because of the force of the amount tissue that left the turkey being propelled into the clothing that the turkey was dressed in.







This test just confirmed my thoughts on this subject. While #7.5 is far from optimum, I think it would work fine in the majority of cases. I'd a hell of lot rather have that than a .380. The way the bird left the table indicated that all of the energy was absorbed by the body even if internal damage wasn't as much as the others. The #2 did just what I had hoped and expected. Almost total penetration and 100% energy transfer which was apparent by the way the turkey was rolled off the table. The danger of over-penetration was minimized while offering good terminal performance. The #4 buck also did well with more damage to the inside than the #2 but less energy transfer because most of the shot exited. This was the only bird that didn't leave the table. The 00 with total penetration did a lot of damage with a LOT of danger behind the target. If those pellets hit hard enough to deform and go 7" deep into soil, there is some concern for me in the home. I'm with everyone else as far as the effectiveness of heavier buck but I am very comfortable with a little sacrifice in terminal performance for the peace of mind that I am not sending .33 caliber lead balls into the next room or trailer house or apartment addressed to whom it may concern..
__________________


In Liberty,
Cope Reynolds (Desertscout)
Southwest Shooting Authority of Arizona

Listen to Cope live on The Shooting Bench Mon thru Fri, 8 to 9pm Pacific/11pm to midnight Eastern


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Colts and Kimbers are what you show your friends.
GLOCKS are what you show your enemies!








02 January 2015

Why I Died...

 Why I Died




As I lay there mortally wounded, with my life slipping away, I could not help remembering the words of the instructor who had taught my concealed carry class. He said, “This training is not the end, and really not even a good beginning for your self-defense training. Get some more training!” His point, as he often repeated during the one-day class, was that I was not even close to being prepared for the real deal if it happened to me or any of the other 15 students in the class.

Now I am not sure about them, but I knew he spoke the truth about me. Fitness has never been part of my life, that firearm class was my first (just to get my carry permit), and I honestly preferred to spend my money on the skiing trip I had planned with my buddies rather than paying for more training or practice ammunition. The class got me the certificate I needed to legally carry a gun, and with a gun I had the great equalizer, right?
Wrong. During that day of training, my instructor listed all the things he wished each of us would do to ensure our survivability. I could not help thinking of those things, all of which had affected the outcome on this fateful day for me.

Fitness
My instructor was really serious about this one. He said that during a fight, no one was immune to the catastrophic responses of the human body under stress. He made it very clear that just owning and even carrying a gun are not the answers unless a high level of fitness and plenty of ingrained skill accompany them. He told us that most encounters would be very close, and might actually be a physical fight first. He was right.

My encounter started with a punch to the side of my head from an unobserved attacker. Even though I was armed with my trusty gun, my mind went blank after that first punch and I could not believe the terror I felt. I was frozen and didn’t know what to do as more punches impacted my face and neck. Once I finally got the mental signal to do something, I could feel my pulse in my ear and would have sworn that my eardrums were about to be blown out with the pressure I felt with every beat of my heart.

Fight back? I tried, but found that the few punches I threw back had no effect on my attacker. After hitting him several times with no effect, my arms got so heavy that I could not raise them to protect my head. I felt weak, and my heart rate had gone up so high that I began to have problems thinking and seeing clearly.
I wish I had worked through this feeling in the gym a few times to get prepared before it happened to me. Could this really be happening to me?

Training

Getting more training was not “optional,” my instructor said. In fact, he told us this so many times throughout the day, I found myself getting sick of hearing it. But he was right. He mentioned that with the proper training, a person would learn all the critical pieces of the self-defense puzzle. He said that learning how to defend against an attack might include using punches and kicks initially, and maybe even knowing how to wrestle someone on the ground before I had a chance to draw my handgun.

I really needed that information when, after my attacker had punched me a dozen times, he knocked me to the ground and began to stab me with a knife he had in his waistband. If I had known just a few techniques to protect myself and maybe launch a counterattack, maybe I would not be lying here bleeding out on this cold pavement. No one knows I am here. I feel so alone.


Practice
My instructor told me that I did not even need ammunition to practice! He told me that I could practice my drawing techniques in a safe area without spending a dime on ammunition. He called it “dry fire,” and said that the most important thing I could do was learn how to get my gun out quickly. He did say that the concealed carry course we were taking would not teach me the draw process, so a few of us stayed after class and got to practice some draws under our instructor’s watchful eye.

It was great information, but after the class I did not make even the slightest effort to practice it. I wish I had, since after being stabbed a few times, I got one lucky punch in to my attacker’s nose. It actually knocked him back into a car, and I had a couple of seconds to grab my gun and save my own life…too bad I didn’t know how to get my shirt out of the way.

Getting my hand on my gun was not even possible, since I fumbled with my shirt and my attacker immediately recognized what I was doing. He was street smart and came after me with the knife again. Those next few stabs to my neck and head area really did some serious damage. I had the chance to defend myself for those few seconds and I missed it! Now I lay, nearly lifeless, wishing I had listened to those wise words: “Practice drawing your firearm every day.”
Responsibility

In class we discussed the laws surrounding carrying a firearm, and how we were responsible to follow them, but my instructor was not afraid to point out another responsibility. The responsibility to prepare. To his students, the instructor said, “Take responsibility for your own survival.” No one would be there for us when the ultimate test occurred. He said that all our excuses for failing to heed what he told us would be worthless. He was right.

All the reasons I found to ignore his advice reverberated in my mind now, and I felt myself screaming inside my own head at how stupid I had been. But it was too late. I felt my life slipping away. As I lay there within minutes of death, I prayed for a second chance. I prayed for the opportunity to prepare like my instructor had begged me to. If only I had listened! If given a second chance, I would prepare like my life depended on it … because it did.

My instructor attended my funeral and prayed for me.
This is your chance. Prepare like your life depends on it. Take responsibility for your own survival.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


In Liberty,
Cope Reynolds (Desertscout)
Southwest Shooting Authority of Arizona

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