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Fitness on the road

I travel less these days, but I still workout when I’m on the road. You don’t need a lot, in fact just a few easy to pack items can go a long way.

These Old Bones

These days I put a lot of stock into mobility. My range of motion is decreasing or is harder to stay at optimal conditions. I work just about every day on some form of mobility and that includes when I’m on the road. I have a routine I follow, but since I probably won’t get into a gym for a good workout I do more mobility. Typically, I’m on my feet all day so I will add a little mobility after class once I’ve gotten back to the hotel. I like to keep it short and sweet. I prefer consistency over volume and let me tell you it works.

Keeping It Simple

To keep myself healthy and limber while on the road I rely on four easy to pack items; a jump rope, resistance band, massage ball and roller. That’s it! Now, if I’m going to be in a location longer than 3-4 days I will bring my full workout load-out, but for most weekend classes this will meet my needs quite well. These all fit in a small bag I toss in my checked back. The roller is actually ingenious and lays flat for packing so it doesn’t take up much space. Even if you don’t want to go with my version, there are plenty of others out there. I opted for the hollow version early on because I could use the cavity to store clothes or other items to make up for the size.

Getting the Heart-rate Going

The jump rope is something I use when I want to sweat a little. You don’t need much skill to jump rope and it is hugely valuable along with low impact. If all you can do are single-unders then a couple of intervals on and off is all you need. If you are really looking to up your game you can go with double-unders. The difference being single-unders have the rope passing under your feet once for every jump. Double-unders has the rope passing twice. A lot more technical than it sounds and I still struggle with large sets, but for getting my heart rate going in a hotel room it is hard to beat.

Not That Kind of Massage

When it comes time for my mobility, I like to add the use of resistance bands. It helps generate a deeper stretch and can be used for just about every movement. The other reason I like a resistance band is for those problem stretches or areas that need a little extra. The band helps me achieve a deeper stretch. It also allows me to perform stretches I’m not good at a little better by giving me support. The massage ball is deceptively simple and evil all at the same time. Standing on your feet all day can wear you out and using this ball to help loosing tight muscle groups is both pleasure and pain. Rolling my calves, feet and quads will go a long way to a better sleep I have realized over the years. Then there is the collapsible roller. I love this thing! I can roll just about every major muscle group out and it feels wonderful…maybe not at first though. There’s a lot of grunting going on, but it is all good. The massage ball is great, but sometimes too intense for some areas. The roller with it’s larger surface area feels just fine. I can sometimes just lay on it for a few minutes doing nothing but breathing and feel so much better.

Nothing if free and getting old is not for the weak. These tools help me stay younger and do my job better while assisting me to achieve the highest quality of life.

Author: Jeff Gonzales

.38spl vs. .380Auto

There is a heavy increase in the .380Auto caliber handguns we have seen come through our doors. Most who purchase this pistol are first time gun buyers or new to concealed carry.

The Shinny Object

I’m not surprised and here is why. There is a huge surge in concealed carry evidence by the rise in application submission and this platform is appealing to a new gun owner. The actual number of private citizens who carry regularly hasn’t increased with the same pace. In fact, I’d almost bet it has stayed proportionately the same. Most new gun buyers wade into the market carefully. Ask yourself the same question, if you were to venture into a new area would you look at making the smallest investment with the lowest impact to success. While I’m sure there are plenty of people who do extensive research, discuss their purchase options with experts and make informed decisions. There are still many who make impulsive decisions in an effort to check the box.

The Other Side of the Coin

This is where I see the .380Auto being so popular. I don’t necessarily think it is the best idea for many though. As they learn when putting these little guns through what we consider to be a low round count class it becomes evident. While I cannot comment on the justification behind their purchase I can comment on the difficult many face. While the recoil impulse may be less dramatic, the smaller frame makes controlling said reduced recoil impulse more challenging. Smaller hands ideally suited for the smaller framed guns make a good combination. I caveat my comment with the student having a solid understanding a good crush grip. The smaller hands around a smaller framed gun with a crushing grip will produce a great outcome. I like these smaller framed guns, they open the market up to many new shooters who otherwise might not be willing to venture into the self defense game.

Squeaky Wheel

Once you have managed the recoil impulse and grip issue these smaller framed handguns make for a great option, but do they out perform a 5-shot “snubby” revolver. A lot will depend on how you choose to define performance. At some point, terminal performance has to be brought into the conversation. With most lethal encounters having less than five rounds being fired the possibility of a reload is reduced. The argument for a faster reload does go to the auto-loader, provided a spare magazine is carried. Both of these cartridges have been around for a long time, but have they maintained the attention of premium self-defense ammunition manufactures.

Penetration & Expansion

A problem with .380Auto loads is small selection of loads that exhibit good penetration and expansion. Selecting your defense loads will be more difficult due to the smaller pool to choose from. Testing for functionality, regular replacement due to wear and checking point of impact mean you will invest in a descent stockpile. How much will depend on how serious you take carrying this as a self defense tool. Conversely, looking for self-defense loads in .38 Special will be more flexible since there is more availability.

Point of Aim/Point of Impact

As mentioned above, you will need to fire a sufficient number of rounds to test the point of impact. Many times, students are surprised to learn their defense loads will hit in a slightly different location. How slight will depend on the types of loads and types of platforms, but it is an important consideration. Using a good marksmanship centric drill to test both your accuracy as well as confirm any shifts to point of impact will go a long way towards gaining confidence in your loadout. One complication is the shorter sight radius of both platforms make this a challenging exercise. Something I find valuable is this challenge also helps for students to learn the limitations of these platforms.

Any system, loadout or platform will have limitations and it is up to you to become familiar with them. In the end, nobody wants to get shot by either.

Operationally Ready

There are many ways to do something right the wrong way. For instance, carrying a handgun for self defense is the right choice for many people, but with an empty chamber is the wrong way.

Comfort is a State of Mind

This came about through conversations I recently had in two different states. It was interesting this subject could be brought up within a week across so many miles. Both conversations were centered around carrying concealed and both had comfort at their core. The users were not comfortable carrying with a live round in the chamber. This is a more common occurrence as we see more people entering the concealed carry world. I don’t see as much wrong with this idea for the simple reason many who would not carry are carrying. Granted they might not be doing it the way I would, but it is a start. My belief is as they grow as a student they learn more about the best way to manage their carry loadout. With time they realize there is a better way.

In One Ear and Out the Other

It is important to understand why folks are not comfortable. You can tell them what they are doing is not ideal, even wrong, but you more than likely will not make any headway. When I was asked this question I wanted to understand the reason so I could better address the issue. If they are afraid to carry a live round in the chamber because they don’t feel safe is it because of their holster. If they don’t like the idea of carrying a live round in the chamber holstered inside the waistband then carrying on the waistband may be a good way to breach this obstacle. If they are concerned they may shoot themselves then explaining how to safely draw from the holster is a great place to start. Many times what seems simple to many is overly complex and intimidating to others.

Highest State of Readiness

In some cases, there is the notion during a lethal force encounter you will be able to chamber a round to bring the handgun to the highest state or readiness. My suggestion is to always holster a handgun for self-defense in the highest state of readiness. Make this part of your loading procedures; which will help build familiarity. This familiarity will bring confidence in the process. The reality is while there may be some who can do it scripted and planned they are largely based on having both extremities available. While you may be able to use a one handed technique why would you engage “hard” mode so early in a critical incident. Time is of the essence and no matter the technique, all things being equal it is slower.

The Ready Position

Perhaps the biggest issue for me is how carrying an empty chamber greatly reduces your ability to draw your handgun to a ready position. All to often we forget this very important skill. Yes, you may need to draw your handgun and go straight to the target to stop the threat. If you opt to carry an empty chamber you give up the utility of drawing to the ready position. You of course, could charge the handgun and return to the ready, but then what will you do if the threat is stopped and you have to holster up. If you were willing to holster a loaded handgun in that situation, why not start that way. Of course, the flip side is you are not and then feel compelled to unload to re-holster. Something else to consider is if you do charge the handgun have you escalated the situation. If you are looking at charging the handgun akin to racking the action of a shotgun there are bigger issues beyond the scope of this article.

If you have concerns about carrying a handgun then try to address the root cause. Use education and training as your roadmap to overcoming anything that could give you a false sense of security.

Author: Jeff Gonzales

The baselines

If you are serious about performance, then baselines will be a central part of your training program. Baselines are used to compare performance, to establish knowns.

The Purpose

Baselines are not for training. You do not use a baseline drill to improve your shooting. You use baseline drills to evaluate your performance and make critical observations. These observations are then used to judge several areas. Has your training been effective at sustaining your skills over time. Has your training helped improve performance of your speed and or accuracy domains. Training has specific goals of improving capability, capacity, productivity and performance. Baselines address the effectiveness of your training.

The Material

Folks misunderstand baselines all the time and it has lead to some confusion. I had this discussion the other day during our Professional Development, but it bears sharing with the larger audience. No, a baseline is not what you can do after you have practiced the drill over and over. That is nothing more than practicing for a drill. Or another way to think of it is learning the test and not the material. If you shoot the same drill over and over in an effort to improve your “score” that is not a baseline. A baseline performance evaluation is your ability to “on command” demonstrate a skill under specific conditions to a minimum standard. That is it…

The Standards

Baselines are also not standards. A standard is defined as having attained a level of achievement. The standards must be observable, measurable and repeatable. If you cannot see what it is you are trying to improve there is no way to know if you are making improvements. If you cannot observe the task then you will not be able to measure the task. Measuring the task provides the opportunity for growth, to compare past performance with present and set a mark for future. The most important part to any standards is it being repeatable. If you cannot repeat the standard, then how do you know whether it is luck or skill. How do you know whether the material has been retained or behavior has been changed. A standard is something achievable on a regular basis.

The Truth

The most important part to baselines is understanding they are an assessment of what you can do on command. This means, no advanced notice, no warmup and no training. Advanced notice is something harder to control. If you train in a group, then you can have one member come up with the baseline everyone will be required to perform. Or, you can use the Baseline suit in our TACOST training cards. Just shuffle them up and randomly pick a card. You do not want to warm up or practice the baseline, this is supposed to be a cold performance. This ties into the training aspect and what gets people wrapped around the axle.

The Command Performance

When you are setting up a baseline, the ideal number of repetitions is seven (7). The maximum number of attempts is ten (10). This means, whatever the baseline you will perform you are only allowed ten attempts. Anything more than ten and you are not evaluating performance, you are training. The standard is very important here, but so is the task and conditions. You want to clearly define the task. For instance, draw from the holster and fire three rounds. The conditions would be from the seven yard line versus an eight inch target. The standard is 100%; which means you do not count any of your missed attempts. Remember, you are trying to discover your capabilities. Not what you might be able to do, but what you can do. Once you have meet the standard for seven repetitions you discard your fastest and slowest times. Average the remaining five (5) repetitions to discover your baseline time for this drill. This is the time it takes you to perform the drill to the minimum standard. In other words, this is your on command performance.

From here, you then work to improve your skills through varying the conditions. This is where the real fun begins, where you see the shooter grow.

Targeting with a Handgun

The discussion of what to aim for comes up regularly in our classes. I like this subject because it gives us the opportunity to talk about how the human body operates.

The Determined Threat

I remind folks that handguns are poor fight stoppers. They are convenient and the price for this convenience is the difficulty in stopping a determined threat. There are lots of reasons a threat would be determined. Some within their control and others not so much. If you are facing a determined threat you will need to engage the largest target zone available with rapid, repeated and solid hits. Your objective is to deliver a sufficient volume of accurate fire to stop the threat. Another major consideration is to remember the bad guy gets a say in the outcome. This choice makes your job both challenging and unpredictable. It is hard to know the really determined threats from those who are not fully determined in the onset of the critical incident and who voluntarily oblige.

Types of Stops

It is helpful if the student understands the various types of stops available with firearms. We also need to have some basic understanding of anatomy. The goal of our actions is to disrupt or destroy the body’s vital life processes. Those would be the body’s ability to generate oxygenated blood, the body’s ability to transport oxygenated blood and the central nervous system. These vital life processes can thus be categorized as the heart, the lungs, major blood carrying vessels, the spine and the brain. The types of stops are immediate, rapid, destructive and physiological.

Blood

An immediate incapacitation occurs when the central nervous system is stuck and usually this occurs with shots to the head or spine. Think of immediate as if you are turning off a light switch. The response will be that quick. I have only scene this occur once and it was somewhat cheating since the round was fired from a sub-machine gun. Rapid incapacitation occurs when the heart, lungs and major blood carrying vessels are struck. When blood volume loss reaches a certain level oxygenated blood fails to make it the brain it turns off. Now rapid is a bit of a misnomer because it could take 10-15 seconds or more for sufficient blood volume loss to occur. These are the two primary types of stops we are training for with handguns, it is more likely achieveable over instant. The principle reason will be rapid represents the largest target zone available, specifically the upper thoracic region.

Bones

The other two types of stops differ somewhat in they do not necessarily equal a cessation to hostilities. Destructive trauma means the suspect has been struck in not vital regions and while blood loss is occurring their bones, tendons, ligaments and muscles have been destroyed or partially destroyed to the point they are no longer functional. They may still be a determined adversary, but they lack the ability somewhat due to the destructive trauma. Psychological stop are the scary ones. In these cases, the suspect has made the choice to stop fighting either temporarily or permanently. They are either afraid of injury or received sufficient injury to change their mind and stop fighting.

Three-dimensional

Most roads lead to immediate or rapid incapacitation when training. We are either training for chest or face shots because these are the most likely regions that will deliver the response we are looking for; a cessation to hostilities. The problem as I mentioned earlier is the bad guy has a say, meaning they often don’t present the clean shots we train on in classes and practice. Not to mention they may be mobile or even using cover. Regardless of the orientation of the threat, the vital target zones are usually accessible. With sufficient penetration depth such as achieved from most defense rounds you want to consider the two primary target zones as three-dimensional objects.

Blindfolded Globe

Think of the chest region as an 8″ globe in the high chest. Try to imagine it in this fashion so no matter what direction the threat is facing you will always aim for the center of the globe. The face shot is somewhat similar, think of a 4″ wide bandana that covers the eyes, nose and mouth. No matter what direction the face is oriented always aim for the center of the bandana. These techniques will give you a better chance of delivering effective rounds on target with a higher probability of generating a stop.

Humans are tough organism and can sustain quite a bit of damage. Your training should be designed around the worse case scenario a determined threat who may not cooperate, care or react to your response.

Author: Jeff Gonzales

Appendix Carry’s True Strength

When I get asked for my opinion on appendix inside the waistband (IWB) I enjoy sharing my experience and observations. Many times, the students are surprised by my answer.

It’s Not New

This method of carry has been around for a long time, probably longer than most could track. It’s a common response, albeit with some cool pictures of civil war soldiers wearing their single action revolvers in a similar position. Let’s start there, I know this is obvious, but if you can see it then it is not concealed. Carrying in this mode concealed is somewhat new to the concealed carry community. How new, maybe a couple of decades, but again it is difficult to track. Then there are those who will chime in regarding safety. Many are quick to retort with comments along the lines if you can’t handle it then don’t do it or teach it. The problem isn’t the safety concerns, but the outcome should safety be neglected or an accident occur. Then there are those who will say it is faster than any other method. These types of comments are largely regurgitated from other sources who regurgitated them from some other source. I hope everyone is sitting down for this, but it is not really faster and here is why.

Baseline Study For Some Data

I got tired of hearing this comment as a Hail Mary pass to prove their point. These comments can be very subjective so we needed something objective like a study to help truly understand the benefit to appendix IWB. I conducted a study and encourage people to conduct their own so I wanted to share my framework for the study. First, you have to go into this without expecting an outcome. If you want to be objective you start by being neutral, someone in search of knowledge. I honestly expected a different outcome so I kept my thoughts neutral. I did everything the same, put in honest work on all fronts. This study was also fun and very beneficial so there is that as well. In this study we need some control measures to keep everything on an even playing field. I eliminated drawing from concealed and performed all these drills with IWB holsters that were carried in an open condition. This wasn’t about concealing, this was about which drawstroke was faster. Then to eliminate any bias regarding poor posture (see earlier article, Mobility Restrictions) I started each drill with my hands on my head. These control features allowed me to look at each without any bias.

Following Baseline Protocols

The drill was pretty simple, but rather than measure a one round drill; which is often not the best indicator of a skill it was a three round drill. The drill was fired from the 10 yard line versus a 6″ target. The distance and accuracy standards helped to ensure the shooter was skilled enough to have valuable input. The study was conducted following standard baseline protocol. The interval between sessions was approximately 7-10 days to ensure the best cold bore experience. Baseline protocol of 10 attempts to achieve seven clean runs was followed. Then the fastest and slowest times were eliminated to average out the remaining five runs. If in the session I was unable to achieve seven clean runs within 10 attempts the whole session was a wash and I would wait for the next opportunity. The point behind the baseline protocol is to measure performance in it’s purest form. The truth of the matter is many struggle with baselines; which makes it easy to see bias in opinions. This is not an easy endeavor, this takes time to complete properly. I started early fall of 2018 and finished recently. Because I wanted to reduce as much favoritism as possible I opted to use different firearms and holsters. I shot the baselines with Glocks & Sigs from various holster manufactures.

The Tie Goes to the Runner

My results surprised me, what they showed me was there really isn’t much in the way of speed advantage for carrying appendix IWB. I performed these baselines ten times each or 20 total baseline sessions and recorded the first shot and last shot for each. My first shot average for strong side IWB was 1.8 seconds and my first shot average for appendix IWB was also 1.8 seconds. Let that soak in for a little bit. My last shot for strong side was 3.1 seconds and my last shot for appendix IWB was 3.0 seconds. So, if you wanted to declare a winner I suppose you could say by a tenth of a second appendix pulled ahead. For me it only confirmed one thing, it is not about the perceived speed advantage. It is about the ability to conceal better for a lot of people. So, there it is and I’m sure there are plenty who disagree; which is why I posted the study. Feel free to take a shot at it and share your experience.

The point of the study wasn’t to declare a winner, it was to reinforce a major benefit of appendix carry. Whether it is right for you is another story along with your mileage varying.

Author: Jeff Gonzales

Shooter Diagnostics

A major factor in students continuing their education is having a positive experience. Loosely translated, this means hitting the target on demand.

Stick to the Program

I love seeing students come through classes and achieve excellence in their performance. Many times this was associated with passing the class. Passing was associated with a positive outcome and I get that, but what is more important is a positive experience. If the student has a positive experience, they are far more likely to continue their education. If they stay on the path, it is more likely they will see improvements over time. The key is consistency, something I have spoken on many times in the past. Shooting seems easy; align the sight and pull the trigger. We all know it is more complicated than that so to ensure students stick to the program having the positive experience is a major objective in our training.

The Killer Commando Complex

Through the years I have developed a system of corrective strategies for helping students improve their shooting. I have discussed this system at length in various classes and anyone how has attended our intermediate or advanced classes has gained exposure to the process. The most important piece to this puzzle is understanding the subtle forces at play. Each of these forces can have a positive or negative impact on the outcome. There is nothing quite like shooting at distance to help isolate these forces to properly evaluate and if necessary correct. I joke in classes how everyone is a killer commando at the close ranges. For the most part they cannot hit because of poor technique and reinforced with no accountability. Either through misguided direction about deadly force encounters or training with sub-optimal instructors. They lack the skill as a result, but more importantly the guidance on how to improve.

Corrective Strategies

Lacking the skill as a student is not that big a deal. A major reason we are so good at diagnostics is there is no short supply of students who need help. When students don’t have the guidance on how to improve it becomes an impediment to getting better. The corrective strategies I’ve created over the years is nothing more than an in-depth trouble shooting guide. Contrary to popular belief, shooting bully-eye targets is not the solution. It is a measurement and nothing more. Being able to identify what you are doing correctly and what you are doing incorrectly requires a bit more skill.

The Secret Sauce

The process is broken down into major and minor categories of errors. Then, each category is subdivided into simple or complex. Each subdivision is further broken down into levels 1, 2 or 3. I am not going to lie, it is challenging to work with students in this corrective strategy process. Not because of the errors themselves, but because of their inconsistency or in ability to repeat the same action or problem. I don’t care if it is a “wrong” action if they repeat it over and over it is correctable. Often they are the easiest. During the diagnostic drills we tackle the minor errors right away. These are typically all in the simple range. Examples can be better understanding of their sights and or grip.

Where the Rubber Meets the Road

Once we get past this stage, what I sometimes call the low lying fruit we typically focus on the major issues. A big difference between these two is the degree of error. Another problem is when a student has a complex error; which usually is the collection of more than one simple error. These are tough to solve, but the process works.  Many times we see immediate results leading to the positive outcome. This system has been developed over decades of making mistakes. People ask me why I am so good at not just identifying the errors, but correcting them. The best answer I can give is I have at one point or another made the same mistakes we see in classes. I haven’t always been a good shooter. I made up for my shortfalls in other areas while I continued to work on becoming the shooter I am today.

As I look back, I’m grateful for the experience because I can relate to the student in a way many cannot. I was in their shoes and felt their pain.

Author: Jeff Gonzales

Getting to a Ready

Keeping aware of your surroundings will hopefully provide you advanced warning of bad things coming. This advance warning can be used in one of three ways; to quickly draw, to quickly moving or combination of these two.

The Quick and the Not Quick

A pattern you might notice is doing these actions quickly. All to often we put too much emphasis on speed in the beginning of our training journey. If speed was the most pressing condition, it might be easier to quickly move. It is unlikely you need training to perform this action, but training can certainly help. When it comes to a quick draw something we overlook is the importance of drawing quickly to a ready position. Not every event will require quickly drawing and engaging the threat with deadly force. If you pick up on the advanced warning and you feel justified in drawing your gun to a ready position it may be your best option.

Ready Positions, One Less Obstacle

This is where some folks get lost in the weeds. If you heeded the early warning you create more options. Having more options than deadly force may not happen all the time. What we do know is if you are not looking for it you won’t see it when the time comes. As you pay more attention to quickly drawing to the ready position you start to see it’s importance. Yes, there are plenty of ready positions and bastardized versions off these main ready positions. Regardless of which one you gravitate towards spend time working on delivering a quick, first round lethal strike. There is the possibility if you have the opportunity to draw to a ready, the situation may diffuse itself. It may not, and if it does not you are one step closer to delivering effective fire. The point is if you don’t practice this skill it is hard to expect it to be available.

A Sign of Shooting Competence

Of the three main ready positions; high, low and retention I encourage most folks to practice from the low ready. In addition, I encourage this practice to be from the a deeply depressed low ready. Ideally, it should be depressed below 45 degrees. Elevating the pistol from the low ready is more challenging than pressing it out from the high ready or retention. You want to ensure the front sight moves and stops at the exact strike point you wish to hit. If you are practicing from the low ready, delivering one round consistently is your first step. Then working to a three round drill is step two. When you can perform a five round drill on demand its a sign of shooting competence and time to add to your plate.

Move With A Purpose

Moving quickly was another skill I mentioned. This can be a stand alone skill to your shooting development. Can you move quickly and with purpose at the sign of trouble. When I say move with purpose I mean moving to cover, away from danger or even towards positional advantage. Danger does not have to be directed at you for this skill to be valuable. If you happen to be in a situation where bad things are happening to other people it might be advantageous to move. Moving alone is a good tactic, combine moving and drawing your gun become the next step. When you can reliably move quickly, then draw quickly to deliver first round lethal strikes you do more to increase your survival than any piece of gear you find attractive.

When you combine quickly moving with quickly drawing your gun it offers an excellent response to most danger close encounters. Don’t overlook the importance of your quick draw being drawn to a ready position in anticipation of bad things.

Author: Jeff Gonzales

On the Mark…or not

I get asked what I carry on a regular basis. I try to deflect the question or ask it back by getting to know their needs.

The Good, the Bad and the Bullet

At some point the conversation will evolve to defensive ammunition. For self defense, whether in the home or out in public you will need to consider some type of high performance round designed to fit your needs. When we define our needs, we narrow the field of options. More importantly, you identify what is important. What you should focus on, to the point it is a “go/no go”. If it doesn’t meet certain performance objectives you look for better alternatives despite all the hype or “celebrity” endorsements.

The Return of the 9mm

We have seen the ammunition world evolve big time over the last couple of years. First, when the FBI announced they were going back to the 9mm service wide. It didn’t take long for just about everyone else to follow suit. There are still hold outs here and there, but they will come around with time. Of the current selection of high performance defensive rounds; which ones best fulfill the average citizen. Most defensive ammunition is designed for law enforcement who’s mission or needs might differ. The possibility of penetrating intermediate barriers is very unlikely so do you need a round that excels in this capacity, but gives up ground on other fronts.

Possible, but not Probable

For the average citizen defending his person, loved ones or home it may be possible, but not probable they will have to shoot through an intermediate barrier such as a car door, interior wall or safety glass. One thing to remember is you will have to justify your actions for using deadly force. While you might have chosen ammunition that performs well here, was it the best choice. I am far more likely to recommend looking for a defensive round that reliably goes bang every time you pull the trigger and penetrates to a minimum depth of 12 inches. The often overlooked piece to this puzzle is our ability to hit the target with the defensive round.

Trust, but Verify

While you might have selected the most awesome defensive round currently available what if you fail to hit the target. Will it really matter how cool the box looks or a clever marketing slogan. Probably not. Yes, you will have to train and train hard to have reliable skills for deadly force encounters. This includes knowing the performance of your defensive ammunition selection. I encourage you to buy enough of your intended selection so you can test it yourself. Maybe not elaborate gelatin testing, but you can test for reliability and functionality through your chosen defensive handgun. If it doesn’t feed reliability or function in your handgun, you need to look hard at your choice.

What’s Point of Impact

Once you start shooting the defensive rounds you may notice something different. Typically they will have more felt recoil due to the rounds be loaded for higher velocities; which should equate to improved terminal performance. You may also notice less flash since most use powder with flash retardant properties. The most interesting attribute you may notice is a difference in accuracy. While most defensive rounds are built to be more accurate they are still not match grade. The biggest difference is the shift from point of aim/point of impact between your training round. It is not often you see these two sync up so the best solution is to shoot them enough you understand the difference so if you need to take a high percentage shot you know precisely where to aim.

Nothing is free, you cannot expect much from your gear if you don’t know the gear’s limits. Take the time and make the investment to learn not just about the performance, but where the performance ends.

Author: Jeff Gonzales

Muscle Recruitment

When I’m working with new students there is so much to cover it can be overwhelming. A subject most folks don’t spend time exploring is muscle recruitment and its importance on shooting.

One With The Gun

Once the bullet leaves the barrel there is nothing you can do to help. If you didn’t have your technique installed before hand it won’t help that round as it hurls downrange. Most everything we do is going to be applied prior to the round being fired. There are the traditional subjects such as sight and trigger management along with grip integrity, but how do you put it all together. How do you become one with the gun. I have had the pleasure of working with some amazing athletes. Professional to Olympic, in all shapes and sizes. The advantage they have is a higher understanding of their body. How to make it do the work in the most efficient manner possible.

Use What You Have

This was so clearly illustrated when working with some female professional athletes. Their ability to will their body, to take advantage of what God bestowed to them was down right impressive. The key was in understanding what muscle groups to activate and how to maintain tension during the requirement activity. As I explained the subject, such as shoulder recruitment it was truly impressive to watch each of them work at flexing and engaging the various muscles of the shoulder region. They understood so plainly how we were stacking joints, ligaments, tendon and muscles so they performed at peak levels together.

Midline, You Are Not an Apple

Regardless of the sport, it is hard to perform at high levels without having a strong midline. I will see some folks who have super rigid upper torsos, but their midline is jelly and you literal watch the recoil wave rippling through them. Keep the midline engaged is not that difficult, but it is also something you want to make sure does not produce negative results. The best way to express this process is by trying to move your belly button towards your spine. Don’t just tighten your abdominal region, that is a half measure. When you follow this tip, you not only tense the midline, but you help stabilize your whole body. More importantly, you are preparing it to support the other muscles optimized for shooting.

Neutral Position

Your shoulders are the next region and they play a huge role. Keeping your shoulders in a neutral position is the key. You do not want them rounded forward or overly retracted rearward. You want them in their strongest position; which is neutral. Those who suffer from bad posture will obviously benefit from paying more attention to their shoulder position. This also ties into the tight midline mentioned above. Keeping the shoulders in this position further connects the kinetic chain. Once you have your shoulders in the right position with the proper tension they will connect with your lats. While your shoulders can be developed, they will not have the same strength capacity as your larger muscle groups such as your upper back region. Once this is connected it produces an amazing platform.

Crush Grip…Again

The last step in this chain is your grip. I have discussed this in several previous blog articles so I will summarize. Applying force to the bottom of the grip is the ideal location to optimize leverage. Gripping high on the gun does not produce the results most think. To optimize leverage you will want to be further away from the fulcrum, not closer. The real challenge is engaging your pinky fingers, literally applying pressure inward on the frame. Then pressing your heels together to close it all off. The last step is to lock your wrists. Combine all of these steps together and you will have a bomb proof technique.

You don’t need overdeveloped muscular structure to manage recoil, it helps, but is not a requirement. You need to learn how to use what you got to obtain the results you want.

Author: Jeff Gonzales

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