Self Defense

Its been vigorously reported that an extraordinary number of Americans are now buying their first handguns. Interestingly, many of those buyers are over 50 and a good number over 65. Much of the correspondence I receive comes from older shooters with questions about sighting with vision defects. Here’s some suggestions concerning imperfect vision and marksmanship:

Be aware of lighting. Indoor range lighting is dramatically different from natural light. You can test this by trying to read small print indoors and then trying the same after stepping into direct sunlight. If you must shoot indoors consider light-colored, reduced reflection, shooting glasses which will magnify light and reduce glare. Continue reading

Gun ownership is rising and with it, goes the perennial question, “Which gun is best for home defense?”  Here’s my answer.

  1. Size-The one that fits your hand and allows you to keep perfect trigger finger placement and easily retain the weapon with a normal grip. Controls should be reachable with the shooting hand and with very little repositioning of the firearm.
  2. Continue reading

The new defensive handgun skills book is coming. Originally, it was to be released in Spring but it was delayed by the addition of another chapter. The result is a more comprehensive book but the delay is regrettable. Readers who enjoyed The Perfect Pistol Shot and are now interested in learning more about defensive use of the handgun may find Practics Holistic Handgun worthwhile. The book is a study course on the defensive use of the handgun, both pistol and revolver. I apologize for the delay and hope to have the book on sale later this year. Continue reading

Being technically and legally competent to use a firearm for home defense is good. Having immediate access to your weapon at any hour is also good. Having a small piece of wire pushed through the bottom of your foot, causing you to yelp and limp is bad.  Continue reading

Among the current foolishness over the Ferguson, Missouri shooting is the allegation that the officer did not “shoot to wound.” In the age of modern, formalized law enforcement training, police are taught to aim for center-mass which translates into the middle of the human torso. We must understand that police practice disallows “shooting to kill,” in favor of shooting to “stop the immediate threat.” Bullet wounds to the body are much more likely to stop a charge than are wounds to the extremities. According to the CDC, about sixty percent of gunshot victims survive. According to FBI statistics, about 6 out of 10 police shots miss their target. Those misses occur while intending to strike the middle of the torso, making arm and leg shots a practical impossibility. Continue reading

Recent events have brought to light a general confusion over the legal use of deadly force. Each state has its own laws concerning the use of force and every citizen ought to be familiar with the laws for the jurisdiction in which he lives. However, there is a common basis for all American deadly force law. Reasonableness and practicality are the two points that guide deadly force law. We can summarize the legal justification for all deadly force: to be in fear of an imminent danger of serious injury, great bodily harm or death. That’s the meat of every deadly force statute in this country.

The law, like the moral justification for force is never based on weapons or specific circumstances. There is no clear line because of the innumerable situations in which people may find themselves. That is why the law must deal with intent and reasonable standards rather than shoot/don’t shoot declarations. Continue reading

Keep your head up when firing. Why? Because you see better when looking straight ahead, it is how the eyes were intended to be placed in relation to objects in view. Peripheral vision serves to attract our attention but does not measure well when compared to direct vision. Another problem with head-down is a change in the distance between the eyes and the sights. When perspective is altered, the information from the eyes to the brain will be altered. You might say that it doesn’t matter because you always keep your head down when firing. The truth is, most head-downers will lift their heads for distance firing, completely altering their sight perspective. Also, even if you are consistent, you still risk not getting the best sight picture available. Bring the gun to the head, not the head to the gun.

After a year and a half on sale, The Perfect Pistol Shot hit #1 in Amazon shooting books, both in paperback and Kindle formats. It has been a pleasant surprise to me that the book continues to do well. I am very grateful to readers who have strayed “off the path” to try a new author. Thank you.

The next paperback instructional book is in the works. Hopefully, released in 2014. The new essay, American Gun Fight is making a little headway, thanks to Amazon readers. It is a response to Stephen King’s recent Kindle piece advocating greater restrictions on firearms ownership. If you don’t know how respond to gun control advocates, who toss-about their own facts, you may enjoy American Gun Fight. It’s currently less than a buck, and about sixty pages. While I’m thinking of prices, the women’s guide to safer dating, What Cops tell their Sisters, is now $0.99. If you’ve know women of dating age, this short book is worth a buck. Much of the material translates well for men who suffered dating relationships gone bad.

We’re at the end of a hot summer, still full of light. Check your front sight tips to make certain you don’t have a bare tip. A front sight tip that shines will give an impression of a low aim on standard black and white targets. The illusion will make you think that you’ve got white above your tip, when it in fact, it is your tip. Of course, you dear reader, having read previous blogs Continue reading

Locked arms are common in shooting. They are also detrimental to accuracy. Locked joints restrict blood flow and cause muscular movement. It is an unusual shooter that locks the arms and doesn’t over-grip the handgun. Test it this way: Hold a sewing needle or pin at eye level, like a pistol sight. Focus on the pin and try to reduce its movement. Try with a locked arm and then with a naturally straight arm. We don’t need muscle beyond what is required to hold a 40 ounce handgun in place in-between shots. Relax, you’ll Continue reading

The next time you go to the range, try this simple training exercise. Instead of firing at a typical combat or bullseye target, draw a cross on the blank side of the paper. Use a heavy black felt-tipped marker. A full sized target paper will hold six crosses. Use the intersection of the cross as your aiming point. Most shooters will immediately recognize a major reduction in group size. Why? Because you will have an exactly the same aiming point every shot and that aiming point will be no larger than the front sight tip appears to be during sighting. Additionally, the arms of the cross draw the eye onto the aiming point, reducing the temptation for the shooter to drift focus onto the target. Marksmanship, that is the mastery of consistently accurate fire, depends primarily on sighting. Most shooters, even experienced shooters, do not know how to fanatically focus on the front sight tip. This drill will help. When teaching, I use cross Continue reading

Recently, The Perfect Pistol Shot was mentioned in one of the firearm manufacturers’ blogs. A reader asked other bloggers whether they approved of the “light grip” recommended in my book. Generally, they did not. One writer mentioned that his large frame .357 revolver with magnum loads required heavy thumb pressure to keep it in his hand. Another suggested I had written the book to lead astray fellow competitive shooters (I don’t even compete, and I’m not that clever). The point is that most shooters are fully convinced that thumb-pressure is necessary to retain the handgun during shooting. They are wrong.
For service caliber firearms (including traditional pistol caliber magnums) all that is needed to hold onto the weapon is the web of the shooting hand and the trigger finger. I routinely demonstrated this during my law enforcement classes using a S&W 686 with magnum loads and various semi-autos with hot ammo. While instructing in the Marine Corps, I demonstrated web-trigger finger with the .45 ACP. Do I advocate shooting a handgun with the web of the hand and the trigger finger? Of course not. The other three fingers are necessary to retain the weapon in place in-between shots, but a death-grip is not required. Neither are the thumbs which cause downward torquing with many shooters.
Some shooters will say they have large hunting revolvers that produce rifle class energy and recoil, requiring a heavy two-handed “squeeze.” Friends, if you cannot accurately shoot your handgun, get a rifle, and if you are squeezing your revolver beyond what is necessary for retention, your handgun is displacing that excess pressure through movement. That is a scientific certainty.
Your handgun is not your master unless you make it so. There are shooters who adore having mega-caliber handguns in order to take to the range twice a year and publicly complain (boast) about recoil. Certainly, there is a limit to the energy that can be accurately controlled in a handgun. But it is the shooter who chooses the firearm and who is responsible for where the rounds travel. The “my-gun-is-my-personality” crowd is the same group who for decades swore the .45 ACP “kicked like a mule,” and “couldn’t hit the broad-side of a barn.” Marksmanship is based on fact, not voodoo and fables. Let’s keep the Continue reading

The Author
Al
Albert League is a former Marine and law enforcement firearm instructor who consults on a variety of security topics.