Category Archives: Reality Check

I Do’s And I Don’ts” In Training?

After being married to Clint for 13 years — and this can be said of any couple together for a long time — you learn there plenty are “I do’s” you perform well together. Then there are the activities you could categorize in the area of “I don’t,” you never try to accomplish in the same room. For Clint and I, the list is down to one activity: hanging pictures. This is very definitely something we don’t think even counseling could help. I can “eye it” to make it level; he has to measure it and get the little bubble-level thing out. I can figure out where the stud is by knocking on the wall; he has to get the stud finder with the red beeping light. I want them a little higher on the wall, he wants them a little lower. Our solution to this is easy: we don’t hang pictures together.

We can laugh about the “I don’t” stuff when it comes to everyday activities, but when it comes to training with firearms; it’s something you simply have to overcome. Get over it, and change it from an “I don’t” to an “I do” — and do it now.

Having two people in the same house who don’t train together is like the two of you going on a cross-country trip in your car and only one of you wearing a seat belt. Someone is going to get hurt if things go wrong, and when you’re not on the same page about the defense of yourselves and family, then you’re literally asking for tragedy.

Some of you reading this (I’m assuming it will be mostly husbands) might be saying things like, “Oh, I would love to have my wife be into guns, but she wants nothing to do with it.” I completely understand, but as Clint says, “You got her to marry you, so you can be smooth enough to get her to have a basic knowledge of the firearms in your home too.”
By Heidi Smith

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May/June 2012

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Click And Booms

I’m intrigued with the general aspect of safe gun handling; and since I do it every day, it’s important to me. What I call the “click and boom” versions of gun handling are of particular interest to me. There are two things in life very loud in the overall audio spectrum — a gun that goes click when it’s supposed to go boom, and a gun that goes boom when it’s supposed to go click.

Heidi and I were teaching an Urban Rifle class some time ago and had a student who was overweight. He said he couldn’t go prone or kneel because his “knee was bad.” Yeah, his knee was bad because of the buncha’ pounds “we” were overweight.
Heidi and I do this drill where students do a back-and-forth sort of movement to make or break contact. We’ve done it safely in our teaching environment, without incident, for 28 years. For a day and a half, Heidi has repeatedly told this guy to get his stinking finger off the trigger while he is not on the target. I think that’s a basic rule? You guessed it, while moving forward, out of breath, overweight and damn finger on the trigger, he takes the safety off — and his sights are not on a target — and torches one into the ground.

By the grace of a higher being, no one is forward, and it’s basically a “wet spot in our shorts” drill. Heidi went forward and reprimanded him firmly; and he had it coming. So a suggestion for the go to school, shoot in a match, 3-gun wanna’ be cool tactical operators and such folks — lose some weight. And keep your finger off the trigger until the sights are on the target.
And before everyone launches on the editor, eat what you want and be what you want, but try to be what you are, not what you imagine you are. My Mom had a saying as we grew up: “Act your age.” Solid advice from an 84-year-old sage.

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Credentials, Science And Safety Bull

I once was told by a grumpy reader not to use this column as a podium for my personal opinions. This seems odd because if I write about tactics or review a gun, I think it would be my considered opinion, correct? Every once and awhile an opinion is a good thing. We all know opinions are like butts and brains — everybody has one, although the latter is sometimes not used well. Here are some opinions about subjects I have dealt with for 40 years. You’ll need to decide if this works for you.

If you’re going to a local gun school because of limited funds for travel distances, everyone can understand those issues. It would be a good thing to know the person next to you on the firing line wasn’t a prior felon, so the school you attend should at least require documented credentials for students. You should be able to stand next to someone and train without having to consider the strong probability of having to shoot him next week while attempting to rob you on the street. It would also be nice if the instructor had credentials or exposure. It matters not if they wore an eagle globe and anchor, a beret of any color, a set of flippers or a badge, and none of these items means they can teach. Today there are bunches of people who pushed up berms from Washington State to South Texas, who really get bent when you ask for credentials.

Credentials are like a birth certificate — if you got one, show it. Oddly, sometimes simply credentials just don’t do it. Just because somebody belonged to spec-ops something — remember parachute packers, cooks and plane loaders belong to the same organization — are they trigger pullers or cooks? And anyone of them can instruct shooting because of why? When you go to a school it isn’t actually all about what the instructor did in the past or even knows; it’s about what the instructor can teach you. Ask for credentials, and be willing to give some right back.

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The Magic Wheel

Editor’s Note: Due to a demand from readers, we’re reprinting Clint’s column from May/June 2006. Seems you guys can’t get enough of revolvers!

In a conversation with some young folks, I noticed they were looking quizzically at me wearing a revolver during a class. They were stunned I would actually carry one. I mean, “revolvers,” they said, “being old fashioned and all.” I thought maybe they were tugging a geezer’s leg. Then I looked at their heads cranked around like the old RCA dog commercials and realized something astounding: They really, really didn’t get it.

So, it occurred to me there’s a generation of people — not counting the “I don’t like guns” crowd — who are in fact, “sort” of gun folks, but don’t know of the legend of the amazingly simple wheel idea.

That Magic Wheel

It would be a foolish child who believes someone can’t defend himself with a revolver — even today. From the cap-and-ball revolvers of the Civil War, passing though the failure of the .38 cartridges in the Philippines and the consequent recall of the .45 big bores, the revolver has often been asked to step up to the plate and swing. And swing it did with the advent of the hand ejector systems. Though the maze of time and tools consisting of dump pouches, speed strips and speed loaders of the twist and Jet types, the revolver grew over time into a viable tool for personal protection. Is it the best tool? Maybe not; but then again, no handgun is. Is it a viable tool? Without a doubt.

The truth be known, many people’s perceptions of personal protection are based on volume of fire going down range or, perhaps more correctly, down the hallway. I’m not sure, but last time I checked I think there might be this legal-accountability thing hanging around the edges of gunfights, and all those stray bullets flying around. I’m simply not convinced I need a bucket of bullets to solve my problem.

And so this isn’t like the .41 Magnum — misunderstood or misrepresented — I don’t believe a 5-shot Chief’s Special is the ultimate fighting handgun. In fact, most 2″ guns should be used by highly competent shooters, not the “gun in my purse or fanny pack” crowd, who often buy them. Before someone launches off the chair, I’ll say this; yes, the gun in your pocket is better than the one at home in the safe when the fight starts. Someplace in between these vastly split poles is the equator of common sense for personal protection.

>> Click Here << To Read More November/December 2011 Reality Check

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Boutiques Vs. Godzillas

For years, the big ammunition companies (Godzillas) have pretty much had their way, filling the majority of the ammunition needs for the public and law enforcement. In times of war, the Godzillas also step up and provide large amounts of their products when we need it most. They make a lot of ammo, even in peace-time, and it’s good ammo.

The “midsized” ammunition companies have filled a vacuum and made significant improvements in ammunition, while making inroads into the marketplace. They are not burdened with monster-company “expert committees” to get anything new or innovative accomplished — they simply do it! They design and test new products, and they often press the limits of performance in both velocity and construction. While not always the cheapest, you nonetheless definitely get what you pay for. Good ammunition can be pricey at times.

A great example of this middle-ground ammunition group is Black Hills, with Jeff and Kristi Hoffman at the helm. Black Hills produces many millions of rounds of ammunition for all applications. Some of my favorite stuff is the Black Hills .308 ammunition for my bolt gun, as well as the 77-gr. .223 load I use for precision work out of a Noveske N4 rifle. These middle companies are some of my favorite ammo people because of just that — they are people, not a committee. These people have grown well in the last decade because of their hard work and good products. I’d rank Cor-Bon in the same category.

>> Click Here << To Read More Sept/Oct 2011 Reality Check

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Power Custom ‘Finally’ Gun

In my younger years during the 1970s while pursuing a law enforcement career, I shot competition in the then-popular PPC format. The Practical Pistol Course, in retrospect, may not have been all that practical or tactical but it did give a youngster a chance to get trigger time. I used what I could afford then, that being my duty S&W Model 19 revolver. I competed against good shots who often had the “go-fast gear” of the era. Being a S&W guy I always longed for a Ron Power built Smith. I couldn’t afford a Power-built revolver in those days; not because they were over-priced so much as cops simply didn’t earn much.

At the SHOT Show in 2010, I returned to the FMG booth to find a big fellow waiting for my return. A stout guy in his 70s, the extended hand greeted me with “Hello, I’m Ron Power and I wanted to meet you.” Well, first I looked around to see if there was a “leg-pull” in progress and to sort of gain some wits about me. Yes, Ron Power wanted to meet me.

We talked for some time about the old days and PPC shooting and whom he thought was the best shot he ever saw at the game. We talked of the transition era from the revolver to the now exclusively used autopistol in PPC competitions. After some time he asked if I had never owned a Power Custom PPC gun. Even a pig will find a strawberry once in awhile, because after some discourse he, Ron Power himself, said he would build me, Clint, a Power Custom.

Not being cool enough in itself, Mr. Power offered to build me the last full-blown “Grandmaster Deluxe” PPC revolver he would build. “I’ll have to dig around, but I think I can find the parts to build you the gun —  but it’s the last one of these I plan on building.” I scooped a 686 from friend Dewayne Irwin and that gun was in flight to Gravois Mills, Mo., in like the now-mode. Then, in December 2010, after several “details” calls the revolver got here just before Christmas. Merry Christmas to me.

>> Click Here << To Read More July/August 2011 Reality Check

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Butt Carry?

Yeah, he was right, he needs a knock on the head, so here it comes. In his column a short time ago (Shooting Iron, Jan/Feb 2011) the “Duke” shows his writership-self shoving a revolver in and outta’ his butt pocket. I know that baby brother has had some health issues as of late but that said he can still do better, and I taught him better. So before one of you readers look at that “butt pocket” thing and jump off the bridge because he did, I thought to bring you all a dose of reality and throw in a couple of extra thoughts.

Plus: Elements Of Concealed Carry • What’s The Big Deal? • Then Answer

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Shoot? Move?

It’s not necessary to be able to move great distances. Even in basic applications movement is done to move to cover or concealment, move to get out of the line of fire or movement to get better target acquisition. Movement to cover/concealment doesn’t mean you have to go to the physical object, it often means only placing the object between you and your threat so it impedes gunfire or the eyes on you. Movement out of the line of fire is self-explanatory and in reality comes with a steep learning curve. There is also movement to get better target acquisition. The movement to contact with the bank robbers vividly shown at the North Hollywood Bank shooting comes to mind.

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Holster Thoughts

His editorship asked me to tell him a story of sorts. We have both carried handguns most of our adult lives. Yet mine is a slightly different world, as not only do I carry one every day, personally, I watch other people carry and use handguns almost everyday. This is a story about what I use and what I know works for me — and what I see others use. Some holsters are decent, and some aren’t. Think of a catastrophic cross between the Titanic sinking and a 500-pound bomb strike.

What a holster shouldn’t do is release the handgun, allowing it to fall out or be taken by unauthorized people. So retention — whether by friction, lock or strap — should keep the handgun in the holster. Sometimes at least part of the weapon’s control should come from concealment. Clothing helps to minimize the exposure until the handgun is brought to bear. For police, the strap or retention locks in conjunction with officer awareness helps to protect the handgun. Loss of a gun by the carrier yields with it a high percentage they will be shot with their own gun.

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