Sunday, October 13, 2019

Corpsman Chronicles XXIII: Rules of the...

I read an interesting piece yesterday which explored a couple of aspects of what people who live in the Land Of The Big PX might do in the event that they have to defend themselves with deadly force. I have just a couple of thoughts to add, but they're pretty uninteresting and more focused on brain preparation than the bang-bang-shoot-'em-up stuff. So to steal a phrase from my betters, if that ain't your bag, move along, nothing to see here.

To set the stage, very long time ago, back when I was just incredibly young and incredibly full of energy and testosterone (not the same thing as Toblerone), I went well out of my way to train. It was not as if the navy wasn't providing me with a great deal of training to begin with, but I had, in addition to all that youthful energy and testosterone, a great deal of curiosity about various aspects of the military service which were in some way related to my primary military occupation but were also rather different. I also wanted to do exciting and technically difficult stuff, and even more, I wanted to excel at such things.

What I'm talking about specifically is military shooting, both square range and complex live fire, rifle and pistol. I did it enough and enjoyed it enough that eventually I became marginally competent. In some circles I was thought of and treated as if I were nearly adequate.

So imagine my surprise when, engaged in my first two-way range experience while buzzing along over the cedar-covered hills and dales northeast of Beirut, I found myself closing my eyes and cringing while jerking the infernal machine to life via the volume switch. What the hell? I tried not to do it. But I did do it. Again! And a third time! In the moment a torrential flood of thoughts and emotions roiled through my head. With monumental effort I was finally able to revert to training. Support--sight alignment--sight picture--breathing--trigger control. The shock of an unexpected emotional response abated. I put out aimed fire, and that fire might possibly have been almost marginally effective.
Not, obviously, in the vicinity of Beirut.

At the time I was engaged in internationally lawful military action. I was part of a huge team, and if stuff went sideways thousands of good guys would bring unimaginably vast quantities of skills and assets to bear on my behalf. The "firefight" we engaged in lasted less than thirty seconds and in truth was more about protohuman dick-beating than anything else. If anyone actually got shot it would have been more by chance than by skill, though there was no lack of deadly intent on either side. As a "baptism of fire" it was real and the five of us in the helo were mightily impressed with ourselves, but on this day and in this place it was arguably no more dangerous than training.

My point is that you can be very good during training, but the real stuff is not training, and you might struggle a bit getting your feet under you the first time.


In my opinion, if you are actually an American -- not a person who simply lives here and has never developed a sophisticated set of foundational principles -- then you have a responsibility and obligation to arm yourself and train well so that you can defend your sovereign personal liberty.

But before you pick up a bang stick and head for the range, you also have a responsibility and obligation to train your brain. You can run those things concurrently, but don't neglect the thinker!

If you are an American, you believe that all men are equal and endowed by their creator with natural rights, including but not limited to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. If you get to a place where you're going to take one or more of those things from a fellow human, it's exactly as big of a deal as if someone else is taking your life, or your liberty, or your pursuit of happiness. That person you're shooting in the face isn't a thing, isn't simply a libtard or a fascist pig. That person is precisely the equal of you. You might indeed have to kill them to survive, but if you're really an American, you have a responsibility and an obligation to know exactly what you are doing and that both of your immortal souls are among the chips on the table.

Firetrucking dick-beating buzzkill, innit?

So if you are an American, arm yourself and train your ass off, but don't forget to do the fundamental thinking part, which if you're like me, comes from your ass too.

Finally, at the end of the piece, we get to the rules of the non-military firefight.

At this time and in this place, the first rule is this.

Head up, eyes out, if you see some scary shit RUN THE FIRETRUCK AWAY.

Yes, it's possible that this, that, and the other thing might happen and you might have to defend yourself with deadly force.

That's why we're armed and why we train. But in the absence of widespread and deadly civil unrest, if you walk yourself into a gunfight you've violated the first rule. You've almost certainly fucked up.

And those chips on the table are fucking real, baby.

I'm just sayin'.

I'm unlikely to revisit this topic in detail. Far too many downsides. Besides, real Americans have access to all the stuff needed to get foundational and don't need any advice from me.


  1. I was raised around firearms. My father and his kin treated hunting seasons and licenses as bothersome impediments to putting protein on the table. I've never considered firearms as anything but a tool; not much different than a post hole digger.

    The closest I've been to a lethal situation was in a Denver donut shop. My co-worker, a Vietnam infantry vet and I were at the cash register paying for coffee to go when a man pushed his way between us and shoved a semi-automatic handgun in the cashier's face. Said co-worker and I simultaneously threw our coffee in his face. My co-worker grabbed the handgun forcing the slide back while I was stomping the robbers ankle and arch.

    Obviously no training was involved for that particular scenario. Our military experience and training probably played a part as we both acted without hesitation.

    Hope I'm never put to the test again!

    1. Hot coffee good!

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  2. I have read, and it sounds reasonable to me, that the difference between a firing range and a firefight is that on the range, the targets are not shooting back at you.

    I was shot at once upon a time, but didn't know that someone was shooting at me until later. So I'm not sure that counts.

    I think of myself as one who would not heed your good advise, but run toward the sound of gunfire to see if my help was needed. As you write, not the best possible action to take, but that's my self image.

    Thanks for the post.
    Paul L. Quandt

    1. Once upon a time, after I'd done something stupid and potentially dangerous, a (you guessed it!) Chief Sighed, shook his head and said to me, "Well Lad, I suppose Darwin's gotta eat too."

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  3. Big difference between being geared for self defense and survival, or being a hero and chasing after bad guys (or all kinds).
    Most of us now are in the self defense column, and the avoid a firefight advice is 100% correct. You WIN automatically! If you have no choice (i.e. bad guy starts it and you have no escape, then the best option is off the table and the other training skills should kick into place. Assuming, of course that you bothered to get some self defense training skills. Sitting in a concealed carry permit class is not what you need. That is just enough to minimize the chance of your injuring your ownself or negligently injuring others. The whole set of skills to shoot, move, reload, use cover and concealment is what you really NEED at that point.

    Fortunately, most garden variety vermin get their gunfighting skills from gangsta rap videos and the like, aand probably are not very good shoots anyway.

    Remember, the vast majority of attacks end when the attacker realizes that their victim may be able to shoot back, and the confrontation ends before shots are fired. So, when necessary to defend yourself from death or serious bodily injury, draw your self defense weapon and hope the bad guy recalls that sudden urgent business elsewhere. If not, and the attacker continues, fight's on. Keep defending yourself until the threat is neutralized or the attacker stops. No shooting at fleeing felons.
    Then the real nightmare will start, and YOU better be the first one to call the cops and report "I was just attacked, and feared for my life and defended myself. If the perp is still there, tell them he was hit and send an ambulance as well as the cops.
    Then call your lawyer and SHUT UP. Not statement to cops beyond "I was attacked and feared for my life and defended myself. I want to talk to my lawyer and then I will make a statement." NOT ANOTHER WORD!

    And, pray that you will never have to do any of this.
    And, even more that it will never come to a civil war rather than a traditional bad guy scenario. That's a whole nother nightmare.
    John Blackshoe

    1. Very good stuff there John. There's the old saying, I'd rather be tried by twelve than carried by six. As sayings go, it's a crackerjack. But what are the chances you'll draw a dozen Americans rather than a dozen pointy-head merkins? We really need some serious across the board self defense reform in the so-called justice system, but we won't get it in my lifetime.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  4. Having training and to keep training is such a big part of the whole carry situation as far as I can see. I've gotten some from different range masters, skilled guys I know, and taken a lot of classes. But, haven't been able to utilize my front sight membership yet, which means no simulated shooting. I want to rectify that in the near future.

    1. You default to muscle memory and best level of consistent training, BUT, the brain/mind is ever a wild card. That's one of the reasons for consistently training with high levels of physical and mental stress. If you can develop the habit of powering through when you're flailing at complex and dynamic mental tasks you've improved your chances of being able to power through the horror of a gunfight.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  5. i always hated finding an unlocked door on a building I was checking. Clearing a building late at night, is no fun, especially when no back up was available, so I got to do it alone.

    1. That exercise seems like a holdover from a saner time. I can't imagine doing such a thing in today's world.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!