Active Response Training Providing Reality-Based Solutions to Resist Criminal Violence Wed, 21 Feb 2018 04:57:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Active Response Training 32 32 34359278 Bridging the Gap Wed, 21 Feb 2018 04:56:44 +0000 Written by: Greg Ellifritz

I originally wrote this piece in June of 2016 after seeing some horribly contentious gun control debates on my Facebook feed.  Guess what I’m seeing now?  You’re right.  The very same political virtue signalling.  The article is as useful today as it was two years ago when I first wrote it.  For that reason, I’m reposting it now.

Do yourselves a favor and read it.  You just might change your attitude and collaborate with the “enemy” to provide a solution that will stop these horrific attacks.





Last week, I grew tired of all the political rhetoric being tossed about on my Facebook page.  I wrote the status update listed below.  Many people wrote and asked me to share those words on my website so the people without Facebook accounts can read it.  This is what I wrote:


I’m fortunate to have lots of friends who are all over the political spectrum. My facebook feed is definitely not an echo chamber like some others are. Because I have friends with various political leanings, I’m seeing both sides of the gun control debate. And both sides are getting nasty. That isn’t going to solve any problems.

For my right wing friends, the guy advocating for more gun control is not your enemy. He just doesn’t want his loved ones gunned down.

For my left wing friends, likewise the dude posting all the gun rights memes isn’t your enemy either. He also doesn’t want his family killed. He thinks the best way to prevent that is to take an active role in protecting them.

Neither side wants to see more people slaughtered. Neither side wants to feel the pain of a loved one killed. Neither side wants criminals, terrorists, or crazy people to have free access to weapons (of any type). Stop sniping at each other. In reality you all have much more in common than you might think.

Both sides of the debate are coming from the same place…the desire to stop the killing of innocent people. Recognize that and work with it. My guess is that you will find more similarity than difference between you and your “enemy” on the other side of the political aisle.

Name calling and derision are not successful strategies to get things done. Let’s start working together to find a way to keep guns out of the hands of the criminals and terrorists. Let’s find a way to get the mentally ill the help that they need. And let’s do it is such a manner that it doesn’t infringe on the rights of your law-abiding peaceful neighbor (who would never commit such an atrocity) at the same time.

You all are smart people. You can do this. Stop attacking each other.


Who would have thought those words could be so controversial?  The post was “liked” 1100 times and shared more than 700 times.  Despite it’s popularity, I got more hate mail from it than anything else I have ever written.  People were absolutely incensed that I would suggest that we could do something to slow the tide of murderous rampages.  It was baffling to me.  After all the hate mail, I wrote this followup:


“So I wrote a piece earlier today about how pro-gun folks and anti-gun folks need to focus on areas of common agreement and not act so derisively towards each other. It was spread widely. I thank you all for that.

I’m happy to report than none of my liberal or gun-hating friends had anything bad to say (or if they did, they chose to keep it to themselves.) My conservative, gun-owning friends were an entirely different story.

I blocked 14 (now up to 19 as of today)  people from my page today. All were conservative gun owners. All of them either wrote snide comments about liberals or engaged in straw man arguments about my wanting to take away people’s rights or “compromise” with the anti-gunners. That’s very disappointing for me.

If one looks at my original post, I made no mention of anyone having his rights infringed. I made no mention of any type of “compromise.” I truly believe that we can create a win/win solution on this issue without either side “compromising.” And I am firmly against the loss of any rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

Yet some of my gun-owning friends couldn’t be bothered with actually reading what I wrote before writing their own critiques or insults. That’s the problem with the status of the “debate” on this issue. As I said, disappointing.

An even greater disappointment was the fact that many of my gun-owning friends “liked” the post, only to continue the name calling I railed against in their own posts later today. More disappointment.”


Folks, let’s talk a bit about your “enemies.”  Yes, I most certainly understand that there are plenty of government officials who want to take all of our guns away as a means of political control.  By all means, demonize those people.


I don’t think those folks make up the majority of people calling for more gun control.  The majority of the calls for more gun control come from people who don’t understand the historic elements of gun control laws and how they’ve been used to enslave certain races or “undesirable” members of the population throughout history.  The people calling for more gun control generally don’t understand guns and don’t have the desire to learn about them.  They are scared at the thought of using guns themselves and thus they don’t want others using them either.


Those people aren’t your “enemies.”  Those are people who don’t fully understand the issues involved and who are acting out of emotion.  We can educate good people who are ignorant about the issues, but we can’t do that if we consider them “enemies.”  Enemies are people who want to hurt or kill you.  Enemies are not your neighbors, your co-workers, and your child’s teacher who might have different opinions about guns.  Don’t be ridiculous.  Do you want to further alienate the gun culture from those people who don’t understand it?  If so, keep demonizing that group of generally well-meaning citizens who take a view of guns that is slightly different from yours.


When you consider good people your “enemies” because they view gun control with a different lens, then you are merely perpetuating the myth of the ignorant gun owner.  Stop it.  And stop sending me hate mail because I choose to be friends with some good people who just don’t like guns.


Seth Godin says it best in this quote below:

“It’s no longer possible to become important to everyone, not in a reliable, scalable way, not in a way that connects us to people who will read ads or take action, not to people who aren’t already clicking away to the next thing by the time they get to the second or third sentence.

But it is possible to become important to a very-small everyone, to a connected tribe that cares about this voice or that story or this particular point of view. It’s still possible to become meaningful, meaningful if you don’t get short-term greedy about any particular moment of mass, betting on the long run instead. And we need institutions that can reach many of these tribes, that can bind together focused audiences and useful content creators.”


I guess that I have to understand that I won’t be an important resource for those who consider gun control advocates their “enemies.”  I’m OK with that.  I’ll choose to define my “tribe” as people who are capable of doing good in the world.  People who are clear thinkers, regardless of political affiliation.  People who respect the information I provide and try to use it to create a better future for their families.


I really don’t care about your political party, whether you are gay or straight, or whether you are a fundamentalist Christian or a strict atheist.  I don’t care if you think people should have “assault weapons” or not.  If you want to make the world a better place and keep yourselves and your loved ones safe, you are welcome in any of my classes.





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Protecting Against Terrorist Vehicle Attacks Mon, 19 Feb 2018 17:36:49 +0000 Here is a guest post submitted by Don Boal, lead investigator for Ron Borsch’s PACT organization.  Don has a very simple and useful idea for protecting pedestrian areas from terrorist vehicle attacks.  Thanks to Don for submitting the article!





                                                                                        By Don Boal


ISIS publishes an online magazine, and in this magazine, they teach their followers how to commit low cost terrorist attacks that anyone can carry out.


Driving into a crowd with a vehicle to run down and kill as many people as possible is one of their ideas. All they need is a driver’s license and a credit card and they can rent a car or truck and they have their weapon. We’ve seen numerous vehicle attacks in Europe and our country. Every time one of these demons commits this attack he inspires others to do the same. Our country is filled with thousands of ISIS sympathizers that want to commit acts of violence. We will have additional vehicle attacks and more people will die.


There is a simple way to keep vehicles from being able to drive into crowds. You put a barrier in the way. Something heavy enough to stop the attacking vehicle. Big cities are parking dump trucks full of sand along parade routes. This works, and is good for a mobile crowd. But they have only so many dump trucks, they can’t be everywhere.


To keep vehicles away from crowds that stay in one area, you place heavy barriers in the way.  Big blocks or walls of concrete can be placed and removed as needed. If you have ever driven through a construction zone on an interstate, you have probably seen the concrete barriers used to narrow the road down to a single lane while protecting the workers on the other side. These concrete barriers are a series of 8 foot long blocks of concrete that are lowered into place by a crane. This is expensive, and it also does not allow pedestrians to move easily.


Steel poles, called bollards, can be inserted into the ground to form a series of posts that are close enough to keep a vehicle out, but spaced so people can pass through them. You see bollards everywhere, but might not have noticed them. Nearly every drive through restaurant has them to keep people from hitting their signs and the building. Some businesses have them near their front doors to prevent vehicles from smashing the doors to commit smash and grab robberies. Look around and you will see them everywhere.


In May, a car slammed into dozens of people in Times Square, New York City. The driver was prevented from causing more death by a series of steel bollards that stopped the car.  Check out the following link for details:



With the security bollards costing as much as $600 each, many smaller cities do not have the money to install them.  They can, however, be improvised from steel pipes filled with concrete (cheaper) or made free from used utility poles.


Every day utility poles are replaced due to damage from storms, vehicle accidents, etc.. These poles are then disposed of. They are long enough, that if cut up you would have 5-6 shorter posts to use as bollards. Save up damaged poles for a while and you’ll end up with a lot of posts for a project.


This idea will require some activism from you (translation: get off your butt and do some work), and the help of a politician that wants to get some good publicity to get re-elected (they all want that), a utility company that wants good publicity and some help from the media.


The utility company is required to dispose of these poles a certain way due to EPA regulations. If they are removed from the ground and then re-inserted into the ground they are being used the same way they were designed to be used, but for a different purpose. This is where you need a politician to jump in and help. If the EPA regulations get in the way, a politician is the one that can work with the federal government to overcome this problem. With President Trump wanting to cut regulations and having a common sense head of the EPA, this should not be a major obstacle. The politician can take the initiative to coordinate the project and get credit for it.


The utility company has the equipment to drill a hole and place the posts. (They are not hard to handle. They can be cut up with a chainsaw and can be moved by two people) If they are given the opportunity to get involved as a project to help the community while recycling the poles, they have a reason to be involved. Make them look good and benefit and they are more likely to help. They will offset the expense of doing the work by saving money that they would have to pay to dispose of the old poles. Their cost would not be high.


The media involvement is needed to give the politician and utility company publicity. If each person involved in this sees a benefit to themselves, they are easier to be persuaded to help.


If having rows of short utility poles placed in pedestrian areas looks ugly, they can be painted. If local businesses are given the opportunity to put advertising on the poles, they can pay for the expense of painting them. They have the opportunity to benefit and are more likely to help. Or sleeves to cover the posts can be bought, although this cost will add up fast.


If you want to protect your community, schools, etc., take the initiative to get this article to your local politicians and law enforcement. Get involved and the project started, allow them to take the credit and get the work done.


About the author: Don Boal is a former Army Military Policeman, civilian policeman and Associate Consultant/Chief Researcher for PACT. He can be found at gun shows in northeast Ohio selling military surplus and tactical gear.

Unthinkable Class Details Sat, 17 Feb 2018 06:44:42 +0000


There are a lot of you coming to next weekend’s “Unthinkable” class taught by myself and Dr. William Aprill.


On February 6, I sent out an email with all the class details to every registered student.  I used the email addresses you provided on your registration forms.


Two students have recently written to me stating that they did not receive the email about all the class details.


If you have registered and you did not get an email from me with course details a couple weeks ago, check your email SPAM folder.  If it isn’t there, please email me at as soon as possible.  I will re-send the message.


I look forward to seeing you all next Saturday!


If you missed out on signing up for this awesome class, check out the rest of my 2018 schedule HERE.  I hope to see some of you in my upcoming classes!




Weekend Knowledge Dump- February 16, 2018 Fri, 16 Feb 2018 11:43:08 +0000 Knowledge to make your life better.  If you have some free time, check out some of these links this weekend.



Your “Tactical Tampon” is Useless for Life-Threatening Hemorrhage

All of you who carry tampons for “packing gunshot wounds” are completely delusional. Read this article and find out why tampons are inadequate wound packing material. Then get yourself some hemostatic gauze.



Research shows some cops avoid situations that will only get them in trouble or publicly embarrassed

From Canada, but the same thing is happening here. A good look at the trends in how cops do their jobs.

“There’s really no way to police de-policing,”



Free Printable Topographical Maps

A valuable resource to bookmark for future use.



Measures To Make Your Home Safer

Although it isn’t a much fun as shooting guns, physical security is extremely important as well.  You all are far more likely to use information like this to keep the burglars at bay home than you are to utilize the skills you picked up at your most recent carbine training class.



Why You Want More Haters And How To Get Them

“…if you’re reading this post, I trust you’re an evolving person and at a point in your life where you just don’t have time for making a habit of cutting people down—because most likely you’re out there doing good shit.”



The Medina, North Dakota Shootout

I’m guessing that most of you are unfamiliar with this incident.  Take the time to read Claude’s thorough analysis.



Training Tips for the DA/SA Semi-Automatic Handgun

Training to master a long double action trigger pull combined with the feeling of the subsequent lighter and shorter single action pulls is one of the better ways to build good trigger control.



A Guide to Quick Access Pistol Safes

If you have children (or irresponsible adults) in your household, you must secure your guns. Safes like these are the best option to keep your guns out of the hands of unauthorized guests or family members while simultaneously providing you with the option to get to your gun quickly.



Stop Telling Kids to “Be Careful” and What To Say Instead

Speaking of children, I found this article a delightful re-frame regarding the way our children learn.  In teaching, we know that phrasing things in a positive manner rather than a negative one will speed up the learning process.  On the firing line we say: “Pull the trigger smoothly to the rear” rather than “Don’t jerk the trigger.”

Why don’t we treat conversations with children the same way?



A slight setback

I am regularly surprised when I find out that a shooter doesn’t know that repeated re-chambering of a round can damage the cartridge.  Do yourself a favor and educate yourself about the topic in this brief article written by Kathy Jackson.  If you enjoy Kathy’s writing style, you will also like “Perfect is the Enemy of Good.”

If you really enjoy Kathy’s writing style, you should also pick up her book.

Once More, With Feeling…

A refreshingly sensible discussion on the issue of handgun “stopping power.”



What To Look For When Buying a Used Firearm

Decent advice for those of you in the market for a used gun.



Mastering Yourself Before You Seek To Master A Weapon

“Fix in your mind the reasons which compel you to train martial skills, no wrong answers, only honest and dishonest answers. If you found something you did not like begin by investing in changing your perspective. What to do with what you see is for you alone.

Mastery of self is the precursor to all else and it is rooted in truth. This truth is there regardless if you accept it. Master yourself first.”



Five Myths Parents Believe About Protecting Kids From Violence

Melody has studied the issue of protecting children more extensively than anyone I know.  This article is a distillation of some of her thoughts on the topic.

And speaking of family and children, read this post from The Survival Mom about two simple ways to prepare your children for school violence.



How To Leverage Situational Awareness To Avoid Danger

An unconventional (but quite accurate) article about becoming more aware of the criminals around you.



Modular Appendix Carry with the PHLster Flex

PHLster makes some top quality products.  This one is a unique design and may appeal to those of you who like to carry weapons along the centerline of the body for easiest in-fight access.




I know there are a lot of folks who tell gunfight participants to “lawyer up” and “don’t say a thing” to the police officers investigating the shooting.  I understand the sentiment and I understand that most “good” people can get themselves in trouble by providing inaccurate or biased details about the event.

Saying nothing is better than saying too much, but there is a better way.  Gabe’s approach is very similar to what I advise.  It’s also similar to the advice given by Massad Ayoob (who perhaps is the most experience firearms expert witness in the industry).



 Hospital Threat Management

Do you work in a hospital?  If so, this might be a useful article for you to read.



Concealed Carry Drill: Basic for Beginners and Warm-Up for Experienced Carriers

This drill looks like a fairly fun and effective way for the average handgun shooter to improve his/her skill levels.



Wilderness and Travel Medicine

You all know how much I like free books.  Here’s a free book that is actually exceptionally useful.  I have the hard copy version and it’s one of the better wilderness medical handbooks on the market.  This book is essentially a layman’s “Cliff’s Notes” version of a wilderness medicine textbook.  Download the book and read it.  You’ll be glad you did.

Opens to PDF.



In Praise of the Home Defense Revolver

For general home protection duties, you should not feel undergunned with a revolver.  The Mountain Guerilla agrees.




Some of the above links (from are affiliate links.  If you purchase these items, I get a small percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you.   I spend a lot of time writing articles on this site.  All my information is given free of charge.  When you use my affiliate links, you support the writing you enjoy without subscription fees, annoying pop-up ads, or donation requests.  Thank you for helping support my work.




Active Killers Using Fire Alarms to Facilitate an Attack Thu, 15 Feb 2018 17:30:30 +0000 Written by: Greg Ellifritz


Everyone is talking about the latest school shooting and looking for solutions. I’ve been writing about how to solve this problem for more than a decade. It isn’t easy. While the ultimate solution will be found in prevention efforts, those efforts are both difficult to institute and costly.


While not ignoring any preventative efforts, I believe that in the shorter term we have the ability to reduce casualties in such incidents by focusing on a better response from school staff, parents, teachers, and cops. When these things kick off, everyone needs to immediately know what to do and how to act without hesitation. We don’t have that baseline level of competency right now. Fortunately, training effective responses is easier than solving the prevention issue.


In yesterday’s shooting, the killer pulled the fire alarm and shot students as they left the building. This tactic is extraordinarily common. I can list at least half a dozen school shootings that have happened during fire alarms or fire drills. The most famous use of this tactic goes back to the 1998 Westside Middle School shooting in Jonesborough, Arkansas. That was 20 years ago. It isn’t a new trend. We need to be better prepared for when it happens again.


The best way to stop a school shooting in progress is through rapid armed intervention. The policy makers can debate as to who is best suited to provide such a response; it doesn’t really matter to me. It can be school staff, armed security guards, a posse of CCW parents, or a uniformed police officer. If someone is killing your kid, I promise that you won’t care who shows up to stop the shooting.


The faster we get armed responders to the scene of the killing, the fewer casualties we will have.


Here is one easy fix to help make this happen. Let’s immediately dispatch the police to all school fire alarms. You will be dismayed to note that in most jurisdictions, the cops are not sent on these alarms. School fire alarms are not especially common. It wouldn’t unduly burden your local police department to send a couple officers on the relatively rare instance that a fire alarm is triggered.


We can’t wait until those teachers and kids start calling 911 if that “fire alarm” turns out to be a shooting. The delay between the start of a mass shooting and the first 911 call has historically been anywhere from two to six minutes. Long term averages of numbers wounded in school shootings tend to be around seven people per minute. Each minute of delay in getting the cops to the scene creates seven more bodies. We can’t afford that.


A lot of you reading this are cops. Do this. Pressure your departments to make police response mandatory on all school fire alarms. In the worst case scenario, those cops will get to the scene a lot quicker and save lives. Even if the alarm turns out to be a legitimate fire emergency, the cops can help direct traffic around the fire trucks and hose lines. There is zero downside to sending the police to a school fire alarm.


Despite my best efforts, I can’t convince my agency to send the cops on alarm calls. I’ve tried numerous times and they just won’t do it. It doesn’t make any sense, but that’s what our bosses have decided. I hope you have better luck.


Need some information to convince the bosses that sending cops to school fire alarms is a good idea?  Here is a quick list of shootings or planned shootings at schools in the United States where the victims of a fire or fire alarm were targeted.  This is just what I could come up with in a short time of researching the problem.  There are likely many more incidents.


– 1974 Olean High School Shooting, Olean, New York.  A student lit a Molotov cocktail inside the school and then shot 14 people fleeing the fire alarm from the third floor of the school.

-1981- University of Michigan Shooting.  A dorm resident threw Molotov cocktails inside his dorm and shot two students fleeing the flames

– 1998 Westside Middle School, Jonesborough, AK.  An 11-year old student asked to be excused from class.  He pulled the fire alarm and then ran outside to join his friend in the woods 100 yards away from the school.  The two killers shot students evacuating the school.

– 2013 Carver High School Shooting, Winston-Salem NC.  A student fired five shots (hitting one person) during a scheduled school fire drill.

-2013 Thwarted University of Central Florida attack.  A student pulled the fire alarm at his dorm and planned to shoot evacuating residents.  The student’s roommate physically intervened after the alarm was pulled and the would-be killer shot himself instead.

– 2014 Marysville, Washington.  A victim pulled the fire alarm to trigger an evacuation while a Freshman student was shooting up the school lunch room.

-2016 Jeremiah Burke High School Shooting in Dorchester, Maryland.  Three people shot during a fire alarm evacuation.

-2016 OSU Terrorist Attack.  An Islamist terrorist targeted students evacuating a fire alarm with a vehicle and knife attack.

-2017 Thwarted Catocin, Maryland High School attack.  Student planned to use school “emergency drills” to bomb and kill her fellow students

– 2017 Aztec High School Shooting, Aztec, New Mexico.  Fire alarms triggered in the school from smoke of shooter’s gunfire.  Conflicting instructions for both a lockdown and a fire evacuation led to confusion and likely more victims.

– 2017 Thwarted Shooting at Bethlehem, Pennsylvania High School.  Shooters were planning to pull the school fire alarm and shoot evacuating victims from the roof of the school.

-2018- Yesterday’s Stoneman Douglas School Shooting in Parkland, Florida.  The shooter killed 17 students as they evacuated a fire alarm

And if, like me, you are unable to convince your bosses sending cops on these calls is a smart practice, just go yourself. I automatically start for all school fire alarm calls when I hear them on the radio. My agency might not make it policy, but as an individual officer, I can show up. If it turns out to be nothing, no one will even know I was there. If it is a shooting, I will be in a better position to take action.


I don’t ask for many favors from my readers, but if you are a cop, I would implore you to approach your administration with this idea. If they balk, do the right thing and respond to the call anyway. An idea this simple can yield more tangible positive results than all of the political discussions on gun control, metal detectors, bullying, and student mental health care combined.


Do the right thing. You might get lucky and save some kids.



Additional resources on the topic:


Should I Pull the Fire Alarm During a Mass Shooting?


When Do School Shootings Occur?


Saved by the Bell: Strategies to Prevent Extra-Curricular School Shootings


A Parent’s Guide to School Shootings


Don’t Evacuate into a Parking Lot


Wikipedia’s Constantly Updated list of school shootings in the USA


Waiting Will Get You Killed– Statistics about casualty rates and speed of armed response




Tasers and “Vulnerable” Populations Wed, 14 Feb 2018 12:05:27 +0000 Written by: Greg Ellifritz


If you are a police officer or are interested in police use of force, you owe it to yourself to read The Vulnerable.  It’s one of a multi-part Reuters news report on police Taser use.



The Taser has rapidly become the “go-to” force option on most officers’ duty belts.  Training provided by the manufacturer insists that Tasers are safe and effective options for resolving violent confrontations.  Most officers consider it a badge of honor to “ride the lightning” by taking a five second Taser shock during training.


The problem is that the research shows that the Taser isn’t really all that safe.  In this article, Reuters identifies 1,028 cases where criminal suspects have died shortly after being shocked by a Taser.  Taser literature will tell you that autopsy results have never conclusively ruled the Taser shock as the sole cause of death.  That may or may not be true, but it doesn’t change the fact that over 1000 people have died shortly after getting the shock.


The study referenced in the link shows that certain groups of people are more likely to be seriously injured or killed after being hit with a Taser. This “high risk” population includes small children, the elderly, people with heart problems, and pregnant women.  The total population that fits in the “high risk” category amounts to 31% of Americans.


The real problem is that cops on the street can’t instantly identify people with heart problems or women who may be pregnant.  Cumulatively, almost 80% of the population COULD be in the high risk category.  How can officers identify these high risk subjects during the stress of a violent attack?  It’s almost impossible.


Beyond these  populations who are more vulnerable to death after being shocked, Taser also provides warnings that there could be higher risk of medical complications if the Taser is used on people who are mentally agitated, drunk, or high on drugs.  What suspects are most likely to get Tased after behaving violently?  You guessed it, agitated, drunk, or high people.


We now have evidence that using the Taser against the following populations has an increased risk of death or serous medical complication:

1) Small children

2) Anyone over 65 years old

3) People with heart problems

4) Pregnant women

5) Mentally or physically agitated people

6) Drunk people

7) People on drugs


Cops tend to use Tasers on people who are acting violently and refusing to obey lawful commands.  Almost all of that population would qualify as being “agitated.”  Calm, rational, and compliant suspects tend not to be Tased by the police.  It’s impossible to know at the scene whether any suspect’s violent actions are the result of mental illness, alcohol, or drug consumption.  We also can’t immediately tell who is pregnant and who may have heart issues.  That makes it difficult for the cops to avoid using the Taser against a member of a “vulnerable” group.


So who should we use the Taser on?  That’s a question that most cops should think about deeply.


For what it’s worth, I have been certified as a Taser instructor since the year 2000.  I have been instructor-certified on the Advanced Taser, M26 Taser, X26 Taser, and X26C Taser.  I have been user-certified on the latest Taser X2.  I have taken the shock from all of the devices except the latest version.  I am mandated by policy to carry a Taser every day at work.  I provided all of the research and analysis that prompted my police department to make their initial Taser purchases.  I’m more familiar than most with the advantages and disadvantages of the technology.


With that said, it would be an incredibly rare occasion that I would actually use my Taser at work.  In my mind, it’s simply too big of a risk for a patrol officer to take in any but the most dire of circumstances.


While individual police leaders and trainers want the officers under their charge to perform well and avoid being injured, the ultimate root of all police training is liability transfer.  The training given to police officers is provided by the department or the political subdivision employing the officer.  In every instance, the training provided attempts to reduce liability incurred by the department or political entity and transfer that liability to the individual officer in the event something goes wrong.


It ultimately comes down to the department wanting to be able to say: “We told the officer to do this.” or “We trained the officer never to do that.”  True transfer of knowledge and proficiency is never assessed.  The agency simply wants to be able to claim that they trained the officer in proper procedures, regardless of how effectively that training is actually delivered or comprehended.  The city wants to blame the individual officer for any screw ups thereby insulating any of the command staff (or politicians) from negative repercussions.


So what does all this mean for the individual officer using a Taser?


Having been through the most recent version of Taser training produced by the company, I can attest that the training mentions the increased risk of serious injury, death, or medical complications when an officer shocks a member of a “high risk” or “vulnerable” population.  When the officer uses the Taser against one of these people (remember, this is potentially more than 80% of the population) and that person dies, who is to blame?


You guessed it: the officer.  Even though his “training” consisted of a single sentence on a power point slide viewed a year before, the officer’s brass will claim: “We told the officer to avoid using the Taser against anyone who may have heart issues.  The officer did not act in accordance with his training and will be disciplined.”  The city then settles the inevitable lawsuit by paying off the family of the decedent.  The officer is suspended, demoted, or fired.  The police bosses and politicians keep their cushy jobs.  The cycle continues until the next person dies.


So what’s the solution?


I’m not sure there is a good one.  I can only tell you what I have chosen to do about the issue.  This is neither legal nor tactical advice.  This advice is only my individual opinion and most certainly not endorsed by my employer.  I have chosen to only use my Taser in one particular situation to which I may respond.  I will not use it in any common “use of force” or criminal arrest.


If I have to fight a criminal, I will do it with my bare hands, my pepper spray, or my expandable baton.  I will not use my Taser.  I think it’s simply too risky given the science we now understand and the political environment in which police officers now work.


The only time I will use my Taser is in a situation where I have a lethal force cover officer and would otherwise be required to use my firearm to stop the attack.


I’m thinking specifically about a situation where a criminal is armed with a contact distance weapon (knife, club, etc.) but isn’t quite within range to use the weapon against me.  If I felt sure that I had another officer covering me with a firearm in a situation like that, I would consider using my Taser to stop the threat.  If the Taser fails or I miss, I know that my fellow officer will be able to shoot the threat if it proves necessary to do so.


In a situation like that, without the Taser, the suspect would likely be shot by responding officers.  Medical or demographic characteristics become more or less irrelevant at that point.  If the only other option is a potentially fatal gunshot wound, the Taser would certainly be a better option no matter how dangerous its shock may be or what “vulnerable” population the suspect claims to represent.


When the choice comes down to Taser versus gunfire, I’ll try the Taser if it is safe for me to do so.  That is the very essence of “objective reasonableness” that the Supreme Court requires in a use of force case.


In a situation of lesser danger or intensity, I personally believe that an officer would be better off utilizing an alternate force option.  That means that if an officer wants to avoid being sued or prosecuted for a wrongful death after using a Taser, he or she must become proficient with less-lethal weapons and as an empty hand fighter.  Unfortunately, few officers will ever attain such proficiency.  Most officers use Tasers because they don’t feel confident in their empty-hand or less lethal weapon skills.


That means officers will continue to use Tasers.  Suspects will continue to die.  Officers will continue to get fired or sued when things go sideways.  Politicians and police brass will continue to insulate themselves from the aftermath of the inadequate training they provide to their staff.


It’s the cycle of life for a street officer.


If you want to break that cycle, you must be smarter than your bosses.  Do the work to become a proficient empty hand fighter.  Hit the gym so that you become a more formidable physical presence.  And think twice before you pull the trigger on your Taser.

2018 Practice Session #6 Tue, 13 Feb 2018 12:00:31 +0000 Written by: Greg Ellifritz


My friend Claude Werner recently wrote an article where he postulated most shooters don’t do any real structured practice with their firearms.  They plink or play, but they generally don’t perform drills designed with realistic standards in order to improve performance.  In the article, Claude talked about sharing details and photos of his practice routines to give novice shooters an idea about how they might better spend their practice time.


I think that is a wonderful idea.  I plan on sharing the drills I shoot in my weekly practice sessions.  Hopefully, you will get a little value out of my posts and come up with some new drills to make your own practice sessions more effective.


Instead of shooting my normal pistols, I chose to shoot this session with my favorite well-used Smith and Wesson Model 10 .38 special with a four-inch heavy barrel.  Why?  The day after this session, I took a short trip to Mexico.  I didn’t anticipate any problems down there, but I always like to be prepared.


Every security guard in the country carries a four inch .38 revolver.  If things got really bad, that would be the easiest way I could source a quick pistol.  Depending on the situation, I could either buy the gun with a large amount of cash or just take it (sorry, dude.  That’s what you get for carrying in a cheap nylon holster with no retention).  I wanted to be up to speed on the most likely weapon I would be able to acquire.


As I plan to do every session this year, I started out shooting the Consistency Target.  It was quite a bit tougher with the revolver than it was with my Glock 17.  It took 60.59 seconds to fire the 29 rounds.  I had one miss.  The four reloads (even with speedloaders) ate up a bunch of time.  Managing the double action trigger ate up a bunch more.


Take a close look at the target.  I’m amazed that some of the 158 grain lead round nose PPU practice rounds were actually keyholing at 20 feet out of a four inch barrel.  It’s cheap practice ammo, but I’m not impressed with its performance.


After that, I put up a silhouette target at 20 feet.  Most Mexican security guards don’t carry spare ammo.  If I got a guard’s gun, I would likely only have the six rounds loaded in it.  I would have to make every shot count.  Hence, I started out by working smooth head shots from the ready position.  Here’s what I did:


Single head shots from ready- 12 rounds

Two head shots from ready- 12 rounds

Three head shots from ready- 12 rounds

Two body shots, one head shot from ready- 12 rounds

Six fast body shots- 12 rounds


After dialing in the head shots, I wanted to get some one-hand practice in.  Realistically, if I’m going up against a cartel sicario, he’s most likely to be armed with an AK-47.  There’s a good chance I’m going to get hit in that fight.  I may have to finish the fight one handed.  I fired the rest of my rounds with one hand at the body of the silhouette at 20 feet.


Right handed only from the ready position

– single body shots- 6 rounds

– two body shots- 6 rounds

– 3 body shots- 6 rounds


Left handed only from the ready position

– single body shots- 6 rounds

– two body shots- 6 rounds

– 3 body shots- 6 rounds


I practiced each reload with a speedloader and tried to complete the reload as quickly as possible.  I realize I’m not likely to find speed loaders in Mexico, but I rarely practice with speedloaders.  I had a bunch of reloads on this practice session, so I figured I might as well get some good practice in.


I had three rounds left, so I moved the target to 30 feet and shot at the O in the upper left corner in single action mode.

Total rounds fired- 128


I got back from Mexico last night.  I’m happy to report the only danger I faced was a little bit of sunburn.




Weekend Knowledge Dump- February 9, 2018 Fri, 09 Feb 2018 11:44:32 +0000 Knowledge to make your life better.  If you have some free time, check out some of these links this weekend.

The Great Revolver Frame War – Part II

A little bit of revolver history for those who didn’t live through the S&W vs. Ruger “Frame Wars” of the 1980s.


New for 2018: SHOT Show Revolvers

One more from the Revolver Guy this week.  I really enjoyed his revolver-focused look at the latest innovative products from last week’s SHOT Show.


How the Dallas SWAT team cornered and killed the July 7 police shooter

An incredibly detailed account of the active killer event in Dallas in July of 2016.  This one is really worth your time to read.



How you can check if your hotel safe is secure enough to use

Something to check out if your hotel room has an electronic safe.



Why think ahead and why practice?

“Tend to your own business” is good advice. “Not your people, not your problem.”

You may also enjoy Claude’s tactical analysis of a jewelry store robbery that led to a gunfight.



Survival & Preparedness Books, Guides, & Manuals

A huge selection of free downloadable survival and preparedness books.



Selco: What an “Average Day” Is REALLY Like When the SHTF

Also on the topic of survival, read Selco’s account of what daily life was like in war-torn Bosnia in the early 1990s.



Medicinal Plants List

One more survival-themed article for you this week.  Here’s how to identify and use 10 common “weeds” as medicine.



Defensive Use of a Knife

Cecil drops some knowledge about using a blade for self defense.  His comments below are absolutely correct.  That’s why I spend so much time in my classes working on drawing and opening from adverse positions.  Stabbing is easy.  It’s getting the knife in play that’s hard.

“Let’s address the first point from above about people not training the knife in an appropriate manner. What I have seen over the past 30 years is tons of people and lots of methodologies working knife fighting, but absolutely ZERO working accessing and deploying the blade under real world conditions. Everyone loves to work the fun bit- using the knife when it is out and ready to go and you are mentally and physically prepared to fight. No one, outside of a very tiny group, works getting a knife into play when they have to deal with the adrenal dump of a sudden and startling threat, and then has to integrate the knife draw with maintaining distance and trying to deploy it effectively.”

Personal Security: Preparing for the Unexpected in an Era of Crime and Terrorism

What I’m reading…

The author sent me a free review copy of this book and I just started reading it.  My friend Marcus Wynne gave it an excellent review.  I’m excited to see what the author has to say.  I’ll report back when I finish it.



I Learned about Policing from That: Bank Robber Opens Fire

Very good analysis of a police gunfight here. Have you ever thought of the possibility that your first indication that you are in a gunfight is when a .223 round tears through your gun arm? This officer transitioned to his weak hand and did a weak hand only malfunction clearance while under fire by a man armed with an AR-15. When is the last time you practiced weak hand malfunction clearances?



Everyday Awareness and Schrödinger’s Cat

Situational awareness is an easily misunderstood concept.  I prefer to read as many perspectives about the topic as I am able to.



Gun Theft Happens: How to Reduce Your Risk

In more than two decades as a cop, I have never seen a single case where a gun was stolen from a safe, neither a safe in a house or a safe bolted someplace in a car.  We occasionally see unsecured guns taken from a burglary, but the vast majority of gun thefts I’ve responded to have been thefts of unsecured guns out of unlocked cars.  Don’t leave a gun in your car unless it is in a safe securely chained or bolted to one of the behicle’s structural components.



February Rangemaster Newsletter


Check out this month’s edition of the Rangemaster newsletter. Tom provides quality analysis regarding the issues of increasing crime rates and lower homicide clearance statistics.

“According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, there are currently over 900,000 sworn
law enforcement officers in the US. The 66 murders of police officers represent a rate of one murder per 13,600

On the other hand, last year there were at least 40,000 murders of private citizens (see next article). That is a rate of one murder per 8,000 citizens. Although police officers come into constant contact and frequent confrontation with armed, violent criminals, they are murdered at a rate FAR below that of the general population. Why? Because the police are ARMED. Be like them. Be armed.”



Sig-Sauer .357mag 125gr V-Crown JHP Gel Test – Carbine

I’ve been generally under-impressed with Sig’s V-Crown defensive ammunition.  In handguns it often fails to adequately expand.  It may, however, be an excellent choice for carbine ammunition.  The carbine’s higher velocities often cause hollowpoints to expand too quickly and fragment.  This V-Crown expands nicely and stays intact when shot from the carbine.



Using Competition Guns for Concealed Carry


“The X-Five?” he asked, “Isn’t that the gamer one?”

“Well, yeah,” I replied, “Until you stuff it in a concealment holster—then it’s the concealed-carry one.”



The EDC Flashlight: Tips, Tactics & Techniques

“Having a tactical everyday-carry flashlight handy should be a key part of any defensive strategy, day or night. You’re going to use it routinely, and you might be able to resolve a dangerous situation without having to use your pistol—always the best outcome. As they say, “Don’t leave home without it.”



Who are the Gun Owners Who Only Own Handguns?

Some interesting academic research on the trajectory of trends in gun ownership in America.



Easy cosmoline removal

Here’s an useful discovery.  It seems that Goo Gone works wonders for removing cosmoline.



How To: Safe Re-Holstering Tips

I regularly see my students holstering with very vigorous motions without looking at the holster itself.  It’s a recipe for a gunshot wound to the leg.  Pay attention to Massad Ayoob’s advice here.



Patron Knocks Robber Cold with Bar Stool

Do you pay attention to the environmental weapons available to you?



This Woman Was Trafficked at a Club When She Was 19—And It Could Happen to *Anyone*

An interesting anecdote describing how a woman became the victim of human trafficking.  For another story, check out Just How Far Does Human Sex Trafficking Reach?



SHOT Show: Things That Made Us Say “Huh?”


Why I no longer attend the SHOT show.  There is far more derp like this on display than anything truly innovative.






Some of the above links (from are affiliate links.  If you purchase these items, I get a small percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you.   I spend a lot of time writing articles on this site.  All my information is given free of charge.  When you use my affiliate links, you support the writing you enjoy without subscription fees, annoying pop-up ads, or donation requests.  Thank you for helping support my work.

Free Books- Part 147 Thu, 08 Feb 2018 11:54:20 +0000 Amazon has a tremendous number of FREE ebooks on their website.  On average, you can find approximately 11,000 free kindle books on Amazon’s site every day!  These books can be downloaded to a Kindle reader or a free App on your phone or personal computer.  Even if you don’t have a Kindle, you can download a free Kindle reader for your computer or phone HERE.   If you would like a free 30-day trial of Kindle Unlimited (unlimited reading for a low monthly fee), click on the box below.



Here are a few free books that I think my readers might enjoy.  Check these out:


One caution….


These books were free at the time I posted them. Prices change rapidly. Please check the price before you hit the“buy” button!



Happy Reading!

If you would like more book recommendations (not free), see my Recommended Reading page.



2018 Practice Session #5 Wed, 07 Feb 2018 12:00:35 +0000 Written by: Greg Ellifritz


My friend Claude Werner recently wrote an article where he postulated most shooters don’t do any real structured practice with their firearms.  They plink or play, but they generally don’t perform drills designed with realistic standards in order to improve performance.  In the article, Claude talked about sharing details and photos of his practice routines to give novice shooters an idea about how they might better spend their practice time.


I think that is a wonderful idea.  I plan on sharing the drills I shoot in my weekly practice sessions.  Hopefully, you will get a little value out of my posts or come up with some new drills to make your own practice sessions more effective.


This post will be a little different from my previous ones.  My most recent practice session was in-service training conducted by the firearms instructors at my police department.  At my department, we currently get one full day of training every three months.  Last week, the morning training was a re-certification on CPR/AED and a re-familiarization with tourniquets and pressure bandages to stop traumatic bleeding.  The afternoon consisted of shooting drills.  Here’s what we did:


We started out with a “standard” drill that our instructors use in every training session to measure performance.  The two targets are 1/2 of a standard size sheet of copier paper.  Range is 30 feet.  Draw and fire two shots to each of the two targets as fast as possible.  Repeat for a total of three times.  My times were slightly over the four second mark.  Some of the officers in the group had times that were twice as long with several misses as well.


We continued practicing by firing from the various ready positions (low, high, and compressed).  Single shots by command at a silhouette target at 30 feet.


Drawing practice.  Draw and fire a single shot at a USPSA A-Zone target from 30 feet.  Reholster and repeat approximately 20 times concentrated on making the draw smooth and getting on the sights as early in the drawstroke as possible.  No time limits.


Drawing from seated position and safe movement with the gun in hand.  At 30 feet shooting a silhouette target.  Fire one shot from the seated position (stools placed on range).  Move to a position of cover and fire one more shot.  Repeat five times.


We then did a drill using three separate targets.  Each target was partially obscured by a “hostage.”  Each target had a different sized “open” place of engagement.  Draw and fire one shot to each of the three targets without hitting the “hostage.”  Repeat drill with two shots on each target and then three shots on each target.  My time on the three shot version (9 total shots from the holster) was 4.79 seconds.  That was the fastest of the day.  Most of my co-workers were in the 8-10 second range.


“Wrong tool” drill.  Starting out with alternate object (baton, taser, handcuffs) in the shooting hand, on command, drop the object, draw and fire two shots.  Repeat 6 times.


Shooting on B-8 bullseye targets for score:

  •  5 shots, 5 seconds, 15 feet
  • 5 shots, 10 seconds, 30 feet
  • 5 shots, 15 seconds, 45 feet


Precision shooting drill, one magazine shot slow fire at very tiny (sub 1″) targets at 10 feet.


More precision shooting.  Target is a 2″ circle.  No time limit.  Three shots each at 9, 15, 21, 30, 45 feet.  I ended up with three total rounds outside the circles.


A “divided attention” shooting drill at 21 feet where each students had to fire a set number of rounds on multiple targets after doing some basic math in their head.  It’s a fun drill, but tough to describe on paper.  Officers who couldn’t mentally add and subtract quickly were screwed on this one.


I ended up shooting 192 rounds in about three hours.  For those of you who aren’t cops, this amount of shooting is what most cops get for training on an annual basis.  Some departments don’t even do this much.


The drills our instructors chose were just fine.  They accomplished the goal of giving the officer practice in shooting under the constraints that officers normally face on the street.  I have no complaints with this session, but I don’t think firing a 200 round session a couple times a year is enough firearms practice for a police officer.  I shoot about this amount of rounds every single week on my own.