Lines in the sand and a willingness to fight, and maybe die

A news story has been circulating around Facebook about a father who was forced at gunpoint to leave his daughter in a New York City park where she was raped by 5 teenage males. The father left the park, attempting to get help from the police and bystanders, but by the time he had returned, the 5 rapist had already left. It is a truly heart breaking and infuriating story, linked HERE.

The general point being made on FB, keeping in mind that most of my friends hold similar values as I do, was to always to be armed and know how to use your firearm to defend yourself or others. This is a valid point, and I would agree. But what do you do in a place like NYC where you can’t carry a firearm? I have spent the past couple days bouncing this around in my head. What would I do?

Several years ago I took a class at Range USA in Memphis, TN. It was a force on force class, and some of the class was spent discussing “lines in the sand”. Essentially, using if/then thinking to make decisions ahead of time. If “this” happens, I will do “that”. If a bad guy shoots at me, I will shoot back. If someone tries to punch me in the face, I will deploy OC spray. Those examples are obviously over simplifications, but you get the idea. The point is to visualize certain types of situations, figure how we might solve it, then work through the decision making process while  sitting in that comfy chair in our relatively safe living room instead of in the middle of what is about to be a fight. This removes some of the decision making process from the stress of whatever circumstance we have found ourselves in because the decisions have already been made.

The big picture of that whole if/then exercise is deciding when to fight, or when to withdraw and live to fight another day. Obviously, that “line the sand”, should be based on sound understanding of the use of force laws wherever we happen to be, and also our own moral standard of what is and isn’t acceptable.

I applied this same method of thinking to the news story cited at the beginning of this post, and sat down to draw my line in the sand. What would I do if confronted by 5, essentially adult, males who were attempting to force me at gunpoint to leave them alone with my daughter in a relatively secluded location with no knowledge of the possible outcome?

I came up with my answer, but my answer doesn’t really matter to anyone except myself. The challenge I have for you is to use your imagination and put yourself in a similar type of circumstance, one with the odds stacked against you, incredibly so, and decide what you will do. Decisions made outside of the stress of the actual event are almost guaranteed to be better decisions than if you wait until you are there in the middle of it.

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Grip Texture

One of the first things I typically do to a new gun is modify the grip texture to my taste. When I first started shooting seriously almost 8 years ago, I really had no idea how much of a difference an aggressively textured grip can make from a shooting performance standpoint. In 2010 I was first exposed to truly masterful shooting, and that is when I first started looking into the importance of grip texture. 

Not wanted to go overboard with it, I just applied grip tape to my guns and noticed a near immediate difference in how well the gun was planted in my grip. 

This resulted in the gun returning faster under recoil and gave me more positive control of the gun under adverse shooting conditions (think rain, mud, blood). The problem with grip tape is that it didn’t last long, could potentially peel off the grip at an I opportune time and was brutal on clothing. Something about having sandpaper constantly rubbing up against clothing just doesn’t work well. 

Soon after deciding I liked the performance benefits of the grip tape but not the wear and tear on clothing, I began experimenting with other options, specifically traditional stippling. 

Normally, stippling a polymer grip is accomplished by applying heat with a soldering iron or similar tool. This was a better solution than grip tape. I could tailor the texture to my taste, it didn’t wear off and it wasn’t abrasive on clothing. The downside is the process was very time consuming to get a good result. There also only so many “do overs” to be had if something is done wrong. 


My personal preference on grip texture is to go very aggressive as well. If you go real aggressive with traditional stippling it can cling to clothing. For a conceal carry piece, that is kind of a big deal. 

After playing around with the traditional methods of stippling, I began to explore less traditional methods. I found out about using industrial type epoxies to add texture to the grip. The benefit to this method is that it allows for an unlimited number of “redo’s” if it doesn’t turn out as desired. It is also less time consuming and slightly less tedious. 

This method also allows a more aggressive texture without the pitfalls of the other techniques. It doesn’t wear on clothing or cling to clothing, stays put, and is durable. The downside is that it doesn’t color match the gun, and while not as tedious as regular stippling, you do have to know how to make it work.

Now, I generally always use an epoxy to apply texture. The only time I might not is if I wanted a less aggressive texture, then I might stipple with a soldering iron.

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The 5×5 Again

This time I shot the 5×5 with a Glock 22, from a Safariland ALS under 2 layers of concealment. I learned I have a weakness. Most of my practice is spent inside 7 yards or outside 25 yards. This means I am not spending much time in that 7 yard to 25 yard zone. Well, the 5×5 is shot at 10yds and I found that I would either go too fast and drop rounds, or get all my hits but shoot at a pace more appriopriate for longer ranges. For whatever reason I never felt like I dialed in on the speed I needed.


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Theis Holsters Newest Addition

A month or so ago Tommy Theis of Theis Holsters sent me a new holster that he is working on. In the past, he has always done the hybrid leather and kydex style of holster, and he was good at it. I first starting using his holsters the end of 2011 when I was running a 90-series Beretta. Since then, I have used his holster to carry and handful of other handguns as well. Now, he is starting to branch out into the all kydex holster market with a basic clip style holster.

The thing about this type of holster, they go on easy, the come off easy, they don’t take up much belt space, and being made only of kydex the holster holds it shape without the gun in it. This particular holster also holds onto the gun very well. I like the gun to stay planted in the holster well enough that it takes a quick, forcefull tug to remove it from the holster. This holster accomplishes that. In fact, when I first got it I thought it held the gun a little too tight, but after a little range work and some dryfire draw repetitions it worked in to where I like it.

What might not be so obvious about this holster just looking at the picture is that there are six mounting holes drilled in the holster to accomodate different clip locations. As you Holstersee it pictured above is how it came from Tommy, but you can also increase or decrease the cant,  and make minor adjustments to the holster’s ride height. That may not seem like a big deal, but depending on a persons prefered method of carry, prefered style of clothing, or the gun in the holster, it all makes a difference. Being able to make minor adjustments to cant and right height can make or break a holster’s ability to carry a gun comfortably and conceal it.

The other problem you sometimes have with clip on holsters is the clip not holding the holster securly to the belt. I am not sure where Tommy sources his clips from, but they work. I have even done some dryfire draws without a belt on and the clip held the holster well enough that I could draw the gun and not have the holster come with it.

So far, I have been impressed with the quality and functionality of the holster. I plan to run it through some local classes and maybe a couple IDPA matches when I get a chance. So far, it seems good to go.



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Aspis Tactical Solutions

I have been looking for a holster to use during classes I teach. I wanted something that could accommodate a light, fit snug to the body, and be comfortable over long days on the range. Aspis Tactical Solutions , a local to Arkansas kydex holster maker, posted a picture to facebook a few weeks ago of exactly what I was looking for. Stay tuned for a full review.


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Bill Wilson’s 5×5 Skills Test and Bill Drill II

Bill Wilson, the man behind the greatness that is Wilson Combat, is credited with having created the original Bill Drill. It was, and really still is, a staple drill of the shooting community. The original Bill Drill consist of drawing and firing 6 rounds at an 8″ target from 7 yards.

The original Bill Drill was created eons ago, and Bill Wilson has since updated his take on the drill with what he calls the Bill Drill II. It consist of the following:

Target 8” circle
Distance 7 Yards
Start Pos. Holstered, hands relaxed at sides
String 1 Draw and engage target with 1 round
String 2 Draw and engage target with 2 rounds
String 3 Draw and engage target with 3 rounds
String 4 Draw and engage target with 4 rounds
String 5 Draw and engage target with 5 rounds
Scoring Excellent = or < 12 sec, Very Good= or < 14 sec, Good= or <16 sec

It is almost like a test version of Mike Seeklander’s progression drill. I decided to give the drill a go shooting a Taurus 605 from an IWB holster under a polo shirt. My results were not spectacular, just under 16 seconds total, but it gives me a starting point to measure continued skill improvement off of.

More interesting to me is Bill Wilson’s 5×5 Skills Test. I feel this is the more comprehensive test, while still maintaining a relatively low round count.

Target IDPA
Distance 10 Yards
Start Pos. Holstered, hands relaxed at sides
String 1 Draw and engage target with 5 rounds
String 2 Draw and engage target with 5 rounds SHO
String 3 Draw and engage target with 5 rounds, reload from slide lock and fire 5 more rounds.
String 4 Draw and engage target with 4 rounds to the body and 1 round to the head.
Scoring GM < 15 sec, M < 20 sec, Ex <25 sec, SS <32 sec, MM <41, Nov  <50 sec

I was running the same gun, a Taurus 605, and from the same holster. I decided to use a speed strip from a front pocket for my reload. My total tim5r5e for the drill was 39.53 seconds. My reload time with the speed strip was 11.07 seconds. I think I can improve that time significantly if I switch to using a speedloader for the reload and spend a little more time with the revolver in dryfire. My splits were all over .50 seconds and that is simply too slow.

What I like about this drill is it gives me a standard I can apply to almost to any handgun and use to compare to other handguns. When I get a chance I will run the drill with a Glock 22 and see how the two compare. I anticipate being able to drop under 25 seconds with a G22, and maybe knock on the door of 20.

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A Three Year Difference

It is interesting to look back through old notes or video of my past shooting and see the changes in technique and development of skill. Almost exactly three years ago I participated in the first phase of the 2012 Performance Challenge that consisted of shooting the FASTest and the “300” to set a baseline, and then shooting the same set of drills at the end of the year to evaluate improvement. It isn’t exactly 1 year later, I am not even shooting the same gun anymore, nor am I following the rules exactly, but thought I would see where I am compared to three years ago. In the previous test, I was shooting a Beretta 96D from a Safariland 5188 holster. Was a nice set up. This go round I am shooting a Gen4 Glock 22 from a Safariland ALS. Everything else is the same, even using the same jacket for a concealment garment.

2012 FAST runs.

2015 FAST runs.

Unfortunately, I am between shot timers right now, so my iPhone had to serve as my shot timer, and not as my camera so there isn’t any video. My first run was clean, but glacial. My second run was where it needed to be in terms of speed, but I put a nice two round group just below the 3×5 target zone, instead of inside it. A mental mistake on my part, not making that slight adjustment up to put the sights where they needed to be. The third run I managed to put it all together, running my best FAST ever at 5.81 seconds. Keeping in mind that I haven’t shot this drill in three years, I am pleased with it. My weak point is still getting those first two hits on the 3×5 in a reasonable time frame. If I spend a little time working that skill, I think a sub 5 second run is in my furture.


“300” Scores

My 300 scores are signifincantly improved as well, even though I only shot 9 rounds on the WHO portion of the drill. Even though I am shooting a different gun, I don’t think this much skill improvement can be attributed soley to a gear change.



Freestyle SHO



77 84



 95  90  81*
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