Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Sunday, September 14, 2014

MagPod Review

I know several folks have been waiting to get their hands on this product, and I was fortunate enough to get a couple prototypes to try out so I'll share that experience with everyone who's waiting for them to be available for purchase.  A note on availability, the release date is supposed to be mid-October.  There have been issues with materials and availability, so kudos to the makers of MagPod for dealing with some people being upset over delay as opposed to pushing out and inferior product.

Now, the MagPod.  Basically it's a polymer replacement floorplate that will fit on Gen 2 and up PMags.  It weighs less than one ounce and is a handy piece of equipment.  It essentially gives you a monopod on your magazine.  It has a large "foot" at the lead of the magazine that offsets the angle of the magazine as you rest it on whatever surface.

I took the MagPod out and used it in both range and field environments.  Since I had two, I also did some weapons manipulation and mag changes with it.  I only found benefits in it's use.  The only thing that it really changed how I operate is that it somewhat affected my mag changes.  It didn't hinder my mag changes in any way, but it caused my hand position to change somewhat.  Due to the extra real estate the MagPod provides, it did give me a little more positive purchase on the mag when I did changes.

So how did it perform when placing the mag on a surface such as when you're proned out you might ask?  Flawlessly.  I don't normally push onto the mag when shooting as I'm not a huge proponent of it, but I had no issues doing it while using the MagPod.  I ran it with both my War Sport Ind. LVOA (check out their new website) and my Daniel Defense/Spike's Tactical franken-gun.

Let me just say, I had better pics and I even had video.  I screwed that up, so I'll post a few pics of the MagPod on here, but I recommend checking out the MagPod Facebook page for more.

It did help stabilize the rifle for follow-up shots when leaning forward into it.  Let me also say that you don't necessarily need to lean only into the MagPod for it to work.  With the large foot on front I was able to support the weight of the rifle and only slightly push into mag for it to be effective.  It doesn't give much side to side stabilization because it's not very wide, but you wouldn't want it to be any wider.

I found an unexpected benefit while using it in a field environment doing some bounding and shooting.  It had rained recently and there were some soft spots.  The Magpod with it's extra "footprint" kept the mag from sinking into soft ground and accidentally pushing any debris up into the mag.  While that's not a huge problem and not something I've had issues with, in some situations and certain environmental conditions that could be helpful.

Keep in mind you don't just have to be proned out to utilize it.  It can be utilized on barriers or any surface no matter what position you're in.  It's also pretty tough.  I put it through it's paces and it held up just fine.

All in all, is this something everyone needs.....no.  The MagPod isn't going to be for everyone.  Is it something most folks should try....yes.  It does have its benefits.  I think it's a great little piece of kit and I'll be glad to have them in my inventory for certain situations.  For me the biggest benefit is the stabilization it provides for follow up shots when able to load it on a surface.  I've been shooting AR style platforms for 17 years, so I'm used to shooting prone pretty well.  I'm hearing the retail on these bad boys should be around $20 for a 3 pack.  At that price, I recommend picking up a 3 pack once they come out and giving them a test drive.  Give Magpod a "like" on Facebook and standby for a release date.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Mike Seeklander: Your Competition Handgun Training Program Review

As I make my way up in my career and get to the "management level" of things, I realize that keeping my skills honed will require some work on my own time.  So I've looked at getting into competition, particularly to join the three gun craze.  As with anything I do, I'm a researcher and am trying to be fully prepared to be successful.  If you want me to train defensively, I'm good with that all day long.  Competition is not something I'm familiar with.  So as a life-long learner, I sought a way to fill this gap.  Enter Mike Seeklander.  I believe it was Facebook where I noticed that he had a book out on the subject.

Mike has an extensive background and experience with firearms training and competition.  He's been an operational police officer, a U.S. Marine, Federal Air Marshal, and Federal firearms instructor.  He has a long list of accolades in the realm of competition shooting.  He also has free source of information on shooting at www.shooting-performance.com.  I highly recommend you check out his site for some good information on shooting and training tips.

For this review, understand that I've only read the book and seen the two accompanying DVDs that demonstrate the drills from the book.  I'll provide an update once I've gone through the program.  I'm going to break it down by chapters, but not give too much away because I recommend you get the book and DVDs if you want to follow the program.  

Chapter 1
Introduction to the Program-  In this chapter Mike basically answers any questions you might have about the program as far as how long it is and how much time it will take.  His program is designed for a whole season and is broken down by pre, post and during the season.  One nugget I'll give you here is that Mike uses his "6 modules of success" for this program; Visual Training, Mental Toughness Routine, Dry Fire Training, Live Fire Training, Match/Events and Physical Fitness.  The format of this book is great, and I like the way it's laid out.  You're going to be set up for success in developing a program just the way the book is laid out alone.  

Chapter 2
This chapter is all about goals.  Mike talks about just setting goals and the important step of writing them down.  I also recommend writing them and giving yourself something you can stick to.  Don't be unrealistic.  Mike breaks goals down into three types; End Goals, Performance Goals and Enabling Goals.  Goals are always important when you're trying to improve.  You have to set your sights on a mark that's achievable.  I usually recommend people have small goals that will lead to bigger goals.  You need to have some "wins".  It feels good to accomplish goals, so it may help you keep motivated along the way if you have some smaller "wins" to achieve as you journey to your larger goal.  

Chapter 3
Dry Fire Training-  Here's where we start getting to meat of the program.  This part includes your dry fire training guidance and drills.  Mike gives you all the guidance you'll need on conducting your dry fire sessions to include the drills broken down into sessions that are to be used 5 days a week.  Dry fire is a critical part of any firearms training.  The best part about it is that it's free.  No ammo cost.  The drills included here vary in difficulty level, but all are great drills.  

Chapter 4
Live Fire Training-  This is where the rubber meets the road, or where the bullets meet the target rather.  The drills here are broken down into sessions much like the dry fire ones, but there are also three phases of the live fire drills.  All designed to develop your skill set as you go along.  There are Micro Drills (small drills) and Macro Drills (larger drills with multiple skills).  Mike also breaks it down for you as far as how many days a week you train.  The recommended program is three days a week, Mike doesn't recommend less than two days a week.  You can do it five days a week or more if you see fit.  He breaks it down even further to pre session, during session and post session.  All the details you need are covered. 

Chapter 5
Mental Toughness Routine-  What's particularly interesting about this chapter is that it covers a lot of the principles that our sports psychologists work with us on at the course I work with.  Mike covers how he uses what he calls a "focus breath" which is something we use, but call it "tactical breathing".  It's also known as diaphragmatic breathing.  From there he talks about things like using a performance statement and visualizations.  All things that can be the difference in how well you perform.  Great tools for your kit.  

Chapter 6
Physical Fitness-  We know that physical fitness is important for overall health, but it's also important in dealing with stress.  Competition brings stress, therefore being in good shape will help you deal with it.  Not to mention some stages can be challenging physically.  No brainer here, get in shape and stay in shape. 

Chapter 7
Visual Training-  You'll learn drills to increase your visual skill.  There are drills here that will "exercise" your eyes.  I'm no doc, but I would imagine these are good for anyone these days as most of us spend a lot of time focused on a computer screen or other electronic device.

Chapter 8
Cross-Training Module-  Here Mike discusses how to cross train across different shooting sports such as Steel Challenge and Bianchi/Action Pistol.  

Chapter 9
Documenting Paperwork-  Here Mike covers the importance of documenting your progress.  Pretty simple, write it down.  Record it.  Otherwise how are you going to be able to keep up with how you're doing and improving.  Collect data and it will help you with adjusting your program as needed among many other things.  Mike also gives an example of some log formats you could use.  In addition, Mike has a log book you can purchase at this link.

Chapter 10
Game Day Performance-  Here Mike goes through how to prepare for a match and what to do during and after matches.  There is a wealth of information here.  Here is where you're going to get some invaluable tips to get you on the fast track to being successful at matches and meet your goals.  This chapter alone is worth buying the book for many shooters.  

Bonus Sections
Mike included some extras in the book as well.  He talks about setting up your guns and gear, sponsorship and a brief section on technique.  I found the sponsorship section particularly interesting because I always wondered how those guys get those cool shirts with all the manufacturers names on them.  At this point, my shirt is blank.  

So again, this book is laid out perfectly.  Everything is articulated very well, and I suggest getting the two accompanying DVDs in which Mike takes time to demonstrate the drills and talk through each one.  You'll pick up plenty of great training and match nuggets in these videos that aren't included in the books. 

Keep in mind I've been in the Army 17 years at this point and I know all about training and how to set up training programs.  My last few years have been as an instructor at the Special Warfare Center.  This book just makes it easy for you much like using an app or DVD for an exercise program.  It's too easy when it's laid out for you.  I recommend this book for everyone from someone at my level of experience with training to someone who knows nothing about how to train.  Think outside the box, don't just buy the book and think you have to do it exactly to the letter how Mike recommends.  I would recommend doing just that for most people, but if you know what you're doing this is still a great tool and you can use it to help guide your own program.  I'm actually in the process of creating my own logs in MS Excel that will work best for me since I've already decided how to attack my training.  

Bottom line, this book is worth it's weight in gold if your'e look to train for competitions.  This is a product of years of experience training and competing.  It's easily worth way more than the 35 bucks you'll pay for the book.  Even if you think you know what you're doing, get it.  You should always look for ways to get better or new methods to help keep your training fresh.  

So my message to Mike in all this is, thanks for sharing this wealth of information.  I greatly appreciate it.  Now get ready, I'm coming for you.  

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Training Tips: Selecting a Trainer

Thanks to some personal experiences, observations and general internet silliness I've seen I wanted to throw some tips out there about what to look for in a trainer.  I applaud everyone who seeks out training with his or her firearms in any form.  Whether it be an experienced friend, a training center, or one of the many great trainers that are circulating around the country.  I just caution everyone to be careful about who or where they choose.  I do encourage people to always continue to get more training and education, as it will only help them get better whether it be learning what does or doesn't work for them.  There was a time in my career when I spent lots of time at the shoot house.  I always wanted to sneak my way up on the catwalk to watch other squads run through and I was always asking other folks how they would do certain things.  Some people thought I didn't know what to do, when in reality I was just always curious how everyone else went about their business.  I knew I would gather tidbits that would help me reinforce my techniques with what to do or what not to do.

Most of the courses out there are expensive.  Between the cost of the course, travel, ammunition and lodging if needed, things can get pretty pricey.  So doing your research is a necessary step.  When spending your hard earned cash, one of the more important things I would inquire about is class size.  You're going to pay good money for a trainer, so the instructor to student ratio should be low.  I would recommend a 1:10 ratio with 1:20 being the absolute maximum.  It also depends on the type of instruction going on.  For instance, a basic class may require more one to one time just getting the fundamentals down and corrected.  A more advanced class where you're working barricades or vehicles may not require as much one on one.  Correcting use of cover is a much quicker fix than working with someone on his or her grip.

Another topic is avoiding the "my way or the highway" style of training.  I've been blessed to be around some of the best shooters out there.  Not only competition guys, but guys that lives do and have depended on their abilities on many occasions.  I've always respected the trainers that would take the time to get to know the student's abilities and gauge their teaching off that.  Most of the instructors that I've seen who will try to "funnel" students into one method have little experience other than what they were initially taught.  The basic fundamentals are the same for everyone, but there are different ways to apply those fundamentals.  When working with a student, a good instructor will be able to adapt to whatever works for that particular person.  Whether that be their shooting technique or the instructors teaching methods.  When you get the trainer that insists on doing things one way, that's fine.  Just make sure that works for you and continue to see what's being taught out there so that you can gauge whether that's really it or there are other methods that may fit you better.  One example here is trigger pull/squeeze.  You will find slight differences in what several trainers teach on this topic.  There are several roads to get there, they're just not all the same.

Inquire how the instructor measures success.  Some classes tout how many rounds they fire in a weekend.  For instance, if a handgun only class fires over 800-1,000 rounds in a weekend I would be cautious depending on the instruction.  Pulling the trigger that much isn't going to do you any good unless you have a solid foundation.  I've seen folks brag about how many rounds they shot, which seems silly to me.  I would rather you shoot 20 rounds in a day rather than 200 as long as you get some solid work out of those 20.

If you're looking for a buddy to help you out, just realize that being proficient in a skill doesn't necessarily mean that person can instruct it well.  I've seen some great shooters that aren't able to effectively translate that to another person.  Most will admit it.  I on the other hand believe myself to be a really good teacher, and on some days at the range wish I could shoot as well as I could instruct.  It also takes a certain level of experience to be able to diagnose what someone is doing wrong and knowing how to fix it.

One other thing I would advise is good preparation for training.  Do your research on the equipment you'll need and be sure you're fully prepared whether you have to buy it or borrow it.  Also, unless your purpose for instruction is learning the basics....go to the range prior to the training and get some warm ups in.  Make sure you're able to bring your A game and get the most for your money.

Lastly, despite current tacti-cool trends.....a beard and tattoos does not a good instructor make.  Neither does multicam and velcro.  If you're going with someone who is supposedly a "reputable" trainer, ensure you do your research.  There are plenty of people out there claiming to be something they're not.  Along those lines, don't think you need a military or Special Forces guy to teach you marksmanship or tactics.  Plenty of folks that fall into that category need help as well.  I probably missed some good tips, so feel free to leave some comments on other things that would help those out seeking training.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Multitasker Series 3 AR Multitool

So this review is basically an update to the one I did on the Series 2 Multitasker, but I'll give plenty of detail since the one I did on the Series 2 seems to have disappeared.  There are several changes/improvements to the Series 3, but I must say I was really pleased with the Series 2 as you can see below.

Series 2 (left) Series 3 (right)

First of all, the Multitasker is built like a tank.  It's built with CNC machining out of solid billet steel material.  The G10 scales make for a comfortable, non-slip grip.  These multitools are some of the most solid out there.  That being said they are a bit heavy, which should only be a consideration if you're looking at a long haul and need to pack light or prioritize.  This multitool should be prioritized high in your kit though.  Just as a fully functioning weapon will keep you alive, this multitool will keep your weapon alive.

Series 2 (left)  Series 3 (right)

Series 2 (left) Series 3 (right)

In the picture above you can see the main differences.  The arrangement of the tools varies  slightly from the Series 2.  All tools seem to function just as well on the Series 3.  Below the difference in the pliers is shown.  These pliers are as solid as the jaws of life.  They've eaten through anything I've thrown at them so far and you can barely tell they've been used.

Series 2 (left)  Series 3 (right)

Below is the list of accessories and tools that accompany the Series 3 Multitasker taken directly from the website.
  • CNC machined pliers (D2 tool steel) - Not investment cast
  • Non-slip G10 scales (Black or Tan)
  • 3/8” hex for LaRue mounts
  • 1/2” hex for scope rings
  • Dual lug M4 castle nut spanner wrench + screwdriver
  • 3/32" pin punch with 8-32 male thread for OTIS cleaning kit compatibility
  • Radiused tip carbon scraper
  • 3" D2 tool steel knife blade - Plain edge or partially serrated
  • Pocket clip (removable)
  • 1/4" magnetic bit driver with M16A2 FSP adjuster
  • Includes these commonly used hex bits and a convenient bit carrier: No.1 Phillips, 3/32 Slotted, 3/16 Hex, 9/64 Hex, 1/8 Hex, 7/64 Hex, 3/32 Hex, T10 Torx, T15 Torx

Series 3 tool set easily attaches in place of the sight adjustment tool and functions well

Series 3 Blade

Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF):  If you own an AR style rifle you should own this tool and it should be in your range bag.  You will use it, guaranteed.  It's something you'll want two of so you can have one on your work bench and keep one in your range bag.  Military folks, your unit needs to buy some of these to keep in your range kit.  Everyone I've shown it to has been impressed.  I've used it for everything from quickie repairs to helping guys add accessories at gun shows.  The Multitasker MSRP is $180, but can usually be found from $140-$150 and F3 Tactical keeps them in stock regularly.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Situational Awareness: Personal Security

When deployed we say “complacency kills”, while that may be a little extreme of a statement for our civilian lives it can still apply.  What I mean is, never lose sight that there are creeps and bad guys out there willing to do you and/or your family harm. 

Even on deployment, depending on where you are, there’s the simple criminal threat and not just the terrorist threat.  You must stay cognizant of what’s going on around you and how you’re conducting your business.  This is just one facet of the much broader topic that is “Situational Awareness”.

Since I recently just saw the picture above posted about stickers on vehicles, I’ll start there.  As you can see in the picture, every little detail you give out can be exploited.  I’ll take it further than that, even supporting your favorite team can be exploited.  I’ve done exercises where I was able to get information out of people easily just by doing a little research and pretending to be a big fan of their favorite team they proudly display on their vehicle.  This doesn’t mean go rip your stickers off, it just means you need to be aware.  Magnets fall under the same rules.  If you’ve been around a military post very long you’ve probably seen a “half my heart is in ….” magnet or sticker.  So it would be too easy for you to be followed home and know where there’s a house that’s possibly vulnerable. 

What do you gain from advertising this?

Facebook is another great tool for criminals.  If you don’t have your page protected I can see where you “check in” and that way I know you’re not home, therefore it’s free game on your stuff.  Even worse are some of the exercising apps that will track you as you run and let others see where you’re running live.  You’re basically laying out a road map for a criminal to come nab you. 

Remember, I’m writing the “worst-case” scenarios here.  It doesn’t mean you need to change your entire lifestyle, but just be aware.  What’s the risk versus reward of your actions?  If you check in at your favorite steak house on Facebook, who really cares and why does it really matter?  What does it matter that you have little stick figures of your family stuck to your back glass?  What’s the point?  Is it worth someone now knowing how many kids you have?

Below are some pictures I've taken around the base I'm stationed at and present when I teach a class on Force Protection.  I've blacked out pertinent information to protect these individuals even though they didn't protect themselves.  In each of these I talked to these people or their Chain of Command since I had plenty of info to easily find them to ask that they think about better safeguarding their information.  

Here are some medical documents left in plain view in a vehicle.  
Plenty here to exploit.

ID card left right on the dash as if displayed on purpose.  Not only do I have his full name and rank, 
but I know what team he likes and where he's from.  Easy in to exploit him.  

What's shown here is a unit's (unnecessary) form to fill out in addition to a 
leave form.  Now I know this guy's home address, the address he's going on leave
and when he'll be there.  Left displayed right on his car seat.  Oh yea...and his full social. 
I could have loans and credit cards in a heartbeat, not to mention the knowledge of 
when would be best to rob his house.  

I could go on and on and write a book on this topic, but I'll keep this short for the sake of the blog.  Just be aware of what you're leaving laying around.  Don't take for granted that you're on a military base or wherever it may be and you think it should be "safe" there.  Trust no one.  Especially with identity theft being so popular, you need to safeguard your information.  Identity theft could be your best case scenario if you compromise yourself.  Worst case could be death.  

Concealed Carry: Belts

I was compelled to write this post after working a gun show in Charlotte a couple weeks ago.  What I noticed were several folks open carrying and their handguns were bouncing around with what I can only call "belt flop".  Now we all know that the majority of the gun show crowd is a "special breed", but I'm sure this is going on more often than I see.  You can't expect to have a good, clean draw stroke if you have a holster that flops due to insufficient support from your belt.

The bottom line is that if you're going to carry a handgun in a holster you need an appropriate belt for carrying.  An appropriate belt is one that is stiff enough and wide enough to support the holster  you're using.  There are belts out there in the "normal" marketplace that will work, but I would suggest going with a purpose built one.  There are several manufacturers out there of belts that will do the trick, but I will share with you a couple that I like.

First off, you're going to need at least a couple of belts that will fit what you're wearing.  Make sure you take a look at all the different styles out there before you choose.  I'm not fashion expert as my wife would tell you, so I won't be giving any advice on that.  What I'll tell you is that I keep a black one and a brown one handy.  Choose wisely as most belts are build robust enough that buckle change outs won't be an option.

Let me start with Ares Gear.  Ares Gear gained popularity with their Ranger Belt.  It and all their belts are made with scuba webbing sewn together to provide an extreme stiffness.  The Ranger Belt has a cobra buckle that needs to be taken off for the belt to get through most belt loops.  It's a quick and easy process.  It doesn't get much stiffer than these belts and they are top notch when it comes to quality.  While the Range Belt is great, the cobra buckle is somewhat of a giveaway if you're trying to remain low-vis and if you're tucked in.  Enter the Aegis Belt.  This belt is built basically the same as the Ranger Belt, but has a "normal" looking buckle.  Either belt will serve you well and each come in a few different color options.  The only issue I have with these belts is the extreme stiffness.  As a slim guy with bony hips, these can be a bit rough when you first get them.  There is a definite break in period that can be sped up by working the belt nightly by hand.  I usually take mine and work it into a circle both directions back and forth to make it more pliable.  Now, this isn't taking the stiffness you'll need to support the holster out, just making it easier to wear.  Unless you're specifically after leather, an Ares belt would be my choice.

Ares Gear Aegis Belt (bottom) and Ranger Belt (top)

Now onto leather.  If you're after something that has a formal appearance, I would suggest a leather belt from Mean Gene Leather (his website just went live, so give it a click).  Gene Higdon is turning out some real quality handmade belts that are my current favorite.  Gene, formerly of High Speed Gear Inc. fame, has been making innovative products for awhile.  He's the first and only person I know of to take a cobra buckle and put in on a leather belt.  The cobra buckle model is called the "Barbarian Belt", I got it and two of the normal buckle models (Shooter's Belt) through the good folks at War Sport Industries.  The Shooter's belts I got for my father and father-in-law as Christmas gifts, and they both love them.  Gene now has another model out he's calling the "Victory Aegis" belt that has the Ares Gear Aegis buckle that you see on my Aegis belt.

My "Barbarian Belt"

Mean Gene's new model with stitching is a great looking belt.
(pic from www.meangeneleather.com)  

I also like Crossbreed Holsters or Gould and Goodrich for leather belts.....in that order.  They offer different styles of belts and buckle choices.  They're all extremely comfortable for every day wear.  The stiffness of any of them is more than adequate to support any holster.  These belts don't have any feature that would present them as "tactical" or give away that you're carrying.  If you're going for leather, this is a great option.  The added bonus for me is that they are made in the U.S.A.

Gould and Goodrich Shooter Belt

These aren't the only options out there by far, just the ones I'm familiar with and choose.  If you're carrying and care that your life may depend on your equipment, then don't forget about having a good belt.  If you're after a good carry belt just take a look at your wardrobe and purpose, then develop your own list of considerations.  Once you've done that, go shopping.  Hopefully this will help get you started.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Plano LE/GOV Cases

Recently at a Darley Defense expo I was able to talk to the fellas from Plano.  Plano has a fairly extensive line of weapons and ammo cases.  Who knew.  They've been around for a bit, but I wasn't tracking them.  If you haven't heard of Plano you've probably never owned or shopped for a tackle box.  If you don't know what a tackle box is, please stop reading and seek other means of entertainment.

Just having gotten a new shotgun, the Plano 108190 All Weather Case was just what I needed and just what I ended up with.  Most of you are probably familiar with Pelican or Storm cases and these are pretty much the same.  There are some small differences, but the most beneficial difference being the price point.  You can pick this case up from Walmart for around $115.  A Pelican case of this size will cost you around $300.  

As you can see in the picture above it has the pluck style foam which enables you to pluck out a specific shape to better secure your firearms and equipment.  I just haven't plucked it yet, so the shotgun is setting on top.  Below you'll see that the case has wheels and locking latches.  The latch locks aren't up to TSA specs, but there are lock holes so that you can also lock it with a TSA approved lock.  

Plano also produces ammunition boxes.  They are much like the military style ammo cans most of us are familiar with, except much lighter.  Great for throwing loose ammo or boxes of ammo in.  They have several shapes and sizes to choose from.  They are very durable and very handy for whatever other else you can use them for.  These are one of those things you can never have too much of.  

So if you're looking for a great gun case or some convenient, durable storage cases go check out the Plano website and then go shopping.  Check the tag below and see one of the best reasons to shop Plano....Made in the USA!

Monday, March 24, 2014

A Soldier's Task: Raising Adults

This post is simply a story about being a soldier and one of the many thankless chores we conduct as leaders and mentors. 

Raising young men and women.

I'm sure this post may apply to Marines, Airmen, and Sailors as well.  My background is Infantry and Special Operations, so this is the experience I'm writing from.  I'll mostly be speaking from my time in the Infantry, because with my latter job I don't have very junior folks.  

As a Soldier you have America's sons and daughters thrown your way, most of them fresh out of high school.  Most don't have the life skills to properly get by on their own.  The hard truth of this is that some of them just had parents that were nonexistent, didn't have parents, or their parents were what I would consider trash.  The others, they've been raised well, but they still have some growing up to do.  

That's where we step in.  As a first line supervisor in the Army you are responsible for teaching and showing your young soldiers "the way".  This covers the gamut of how to wash their clothes to financial responsibility.  It even includes how to keep their rooms clean and other disciplines that are needed to be successful as a young soldier.  It's not just about how to shoot, move, and communicate.  It's not just about how to be physically fit and become a warrior. 

When I first came in, you could not move out of the barracks until you were E-6 or if there wasn't enough barracks space.  Nowadays you can live off-post if you so choose no matter what your rank.  This could be unit dependent.  This means you have young men with the responsibility of finding a place to live within their means.  Good leaders will walk their soldiers through this process if needed.  Either way, they'll ensure the soldier knows what they're doing, even if they're married.  This process also applies to buying a vehicle.  

If that soldier gets in trouble or gets out of line, it's that supervisor’s responsibility to counsel him and provide some kind of corrective action.  Essentially, we have to punish the soldier in some fashion and teach them right from wrong.  This is a touchy subject for many, because you've probably heard the term "shit rolls down hill".  If that soldier did something that was noticed by "higher", than it will come rolling down to your level before you roll it onto them.  I've been the recipient of tough love thanks to mistakes by a soldier or two (even though you may not deserve it).  Right or wrong, that's just how it works in some units.  

When a young soldier has nowhere to go for Thanksgiving or Christmas, you can bet a leader in the unit will have a spot at the table for him and welcome them as one of their own.  When they need a ride home from the bar because they drank too much or when they're stuck somewhere with a broken down vehicle because their paycheck doesn't afford them a nice, new vehicle.

In summary, we are with your sons and daughters everyday.  We are responsible for their lives, especially on deployment where we are with them 24/7 and possibly in harms way.  We aren't just there to make them tactically and technically proficient.  We are there to raise them as men and women who will be a benefit to society and be successful no matter what they do as career soldiers or in civilian life.  I could go on and on about the tasks leaders/mentors conduct in the military that are outside of what you probably think we do.  As an infantry squad leader, I always said one of the most important jobs we do is raising men.  I still believe that to be true.  

For any military folks that read this, feel free to comment below and add to this. 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Concealed Carry: Dressing to the Gun

In today's society, it's best to carry a weapon any and everywhere you go (that the law allows of course).  Protecting you and your family should be your highest priority.  The weapon I am going to focus on here is the handgun.  Pistols come in various sizes, but mostly the same shape.  We won't get into handgun selection here as I've already covered that in a prior blog.

As the title of the blog states, we will talk about dressing to the gun.  I could write a book on this topic and give hundreds of examples, but this will be a general overview.  Carrying concealed doesn't mean you have to dress like you're in a 5.11 catalog, you can wear almost whatever you want as long as you're smart about it.  There are several factors to be taken into consideration when dressing to the gun.
  • Size of the Gun:  Full size handguns will provide challenges when deciding what to wear, while compact handguns are easier to conceal.
  • Body Type:  Slimmer people like myself will have a tougher time concealing larger handguns, but it can be done.  Larger framed people will have a less tough time.  We all come in different shapes and sizes, some of these will present their own challenges.
  • Activity:  What will you be doing?  What kind of movement will be required?  Are you going to be in close contact with people who don't need to know you're carrying?
  • Weather:  Hot weather can mean dressing in clothing that doesn't conceal as well.  It can also mean more perspiration, which can provide challenges.  Cold weather will obviously make it easier to conceal, but can provide the challenge of having more layers to get through to the gun.
  • Holster:  If you want to read more about this, read my blog on it by clicking here.  
  • Purpose:  Business?  Pleasure?  Do you need to blend in?
These are just some of the general considerations when dressing to the gun.  As I said before, we could write a book on this.  The idea here is just to throw some out there and get you thinking.  

The best practice is to go through your clothes and find what conceals your firearm best so you have a good idea of what you can and can't wear.  When you go shopping, think of your considerations for carrying.  

When I took this picture originally I posted it and jokingly said, "always bring your gun when trying on new jeans".  I was really serious though, as I do believe you should make sure whatever jeans you buy have enough room for you to comfortably carry.

When I teach carrying concealed, I usually am talking to "alpha males".  Some of which like to dress to show off their work in the gym.  I usually tell these folks they are going to have to learn to be less vain and dress less to show off their muscles and more to conceal the firearm.  This doesn't mean you have to dress baggy, you just can't wear compression shirts.  Below there are a few examples of clothing that's good or bad to wear.

 While black is one of the better solid colors to wear, moisture wicking garments like Under Armor is not a good choice.  As you can see here, my M&P9c with Raven Vanguard 2 is easily shown due to the fabric hanging over the pistol. 
Lighter color fabrics are best when they have a pattern.  A pattern is good with any color as it helps break up the outline of the gun or whatever you may be carrying.  
Again, black is a good color for solids, but not the Under Armor type fabrics.  As you can see here all I had to do was bend forward a little and when I stood back up straight the fabric was hanging on the pistol.
Again, a pattern works great for hiding the outline of the pistol.
The best practice is to use a mirror and check to see how well your carry gun shows with whatever is in your wardrobe.  Colors, patterns, and fabric all play a role in how well you're able to hide the firearm.  Some sweaters easily snag on the edges of some pistols as well.  When you do this, make sure you move around to see how well your outfit does.  If you're going shopping for instance, make sure the firearm won't show when you do things like bend over, reach up, or squat down.  The length of your shirt can come into play if it's short enough that when you put your arms above your head the shirt comes up enough to show the firearm.  

So that's your intro on how to dress to conceal a carry pistol.  Maybe when I have more time on my hands in about 4 years I'll sit down and write a more lengthy bit of instruction, but this will get you started.  Most folks will be able to figure it out from here.  Feel free to comment below if you have anything to add or if you have any questions.