The Way of the Gun

The day after we witness the 2019 Sheepdog of the year, Jack Wilson, in action is the perfect time to write this post. As most of you know Jack stopped an active shooter, in his church, last Sunday with a well placed shot to head. The shooter was white man who had killed at least one African American church member before he was stopped. Normally a shooting of that nature would touch off a hysterical frenzy in the dinosaur press with every Democrat running for president franticly rushing to the scene to denounce the  Gun.

This shooting doesn’t fit the dinosaur media narrative so it is now tied only to Joe Biden who had displayed his tenuous grip on reality by calling the Governor of Texas “irrational” for allowing church goers to carry.

A link to the video of this shooting is here. As you watch there are lessons for us all, the first of which was the first man shot was in the act of pulling a pistol.

Note also that Jack Wilson brings the weapon up to his line of sight without any other movement in his legs or torso, it was one smooth motion, a slight pause and then boom; one round into grape of a bad man. At least six more partitioners produce weapons and moved toward the downed shooter. Some of them obviously had training and moved well, some of them didn’t. All of them are  now enjoying the esteem and prestige that comes with being a Sheepdog.

When the trumpet sounds and you step up life is good.

The presence of an unknown number of citizens armed with a concealed pistols in a given venue introduces friction into an active shooter scenario. This is why people like Dave Grossman encourage concealed carry. I do not expect the average concealed carry permit holder to be anymore proficient in gun handling and marksmanship skills than the average police officer or service member. Police officers and military personnel receive training on the fundamentals of marksmanship which are validated with qualification courses.

Passing a known distance qualification course is not training, it indicates the shooter is ready for training. The vast majority of uniformed law enforcement and military personnel have had no training on the pistol beyond the basic qualification requirements.

The pistol is a tool that has strengths and limitations. One of the strengths is it equalizes the disparities in force between large people and smaller ones. Spend a few hours watching John Corriea, ( Active Self Protection)  videos and you will see the utility of a firearm, particularly for women, even when the shooter is poorly trained.

One of the weaknesses of pistols is they trade stopping power and range for portability and ease of concealment. The old saying that nobody takes a pistol to a gun fight is true, but ironic. In the American context the first multiple shot, mass produced pistol was the only gun to bring to a gunfight with the dreaded Comanche.

In 1836 Samuel Colt produced his first revolver, a 5 shot  .36–.380-inch ball pistol he called the “Colt Paterson”. They didn’t sell well but for some reason the President of the Republic of Texas purchased over 100 of them complete with ammunition and spare cylinders.  The legendaryTexas Ranger Captain John Coffee “Jack” Hayes found  the pistols after the Texas Navy was disbanded and instantly realized that having them would even the score when fighting Comanches, the only plains Indians who fought while mounted. This is a fascinating story and you can hear all about on this recent Joe Rogan Podcast with S.C. Gwen, author of the book Empire of the Summer Moon.

A pistol is a tool and mastering the employment of that tool is the first step in separating Sheepdog from the average concealed carry permit holder. Understanding how to use a pistol requires understanding the dynamics of inter-species aggression, disregarding the “default to trust” mechanism, which is genetically hardwired in humans, an understanding of the observe-orient-decide-act (OODA) loop, and confidence in your ability to intervene.

When David Grossman first wrote about sheepdogs he was not talking about you or me. He was talking about the 2% of the population who are hard wired to never choose the options of flight, posture, or submission when confronted with inter-species aggression. He was talking about the 2% if allied fighter pilots in World War II who downed 40% of the enemy aircraft.

What Grossman has proved over the years is that sheepdog can be made. To become a sheepdog requires a solid grounding on interspecies violence, understand human performance under stress, and the techniques used by predators to activate our default to trust mechanism . Grossman’s book On Killing,  The Gift of Fear, by Gavin de Becker, (who is no fan of the second amendment) and the recently published Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell are the three must read  books.

The default to trust mechanism is a new term introduced into popular use by Malcolm Gladwell. He discusses it in great detail  during a recent  Joe Rogan Podcast:  here’s the link.  The Gift of Fear is another true original work and If you watch the video I linked to above after reading it you will lock onto the shooter before the first does, its uncomfortable because you know what is going to happen and you don’t want to see it.

Getting weapons training is critical because when mastered you are much less likely to shoot, even when the law clearly allows you to do so. This was explained well on a Joe Rogan Podcast with Rock and Roll legend and friend of the American serviceman, Sturgill Simpson. He found a intruder in his home one morning when his family was away. Sturgill was armed with an M4 style rifle and  could have shot the man, which is absolutely legal under the law. Instead, seeing the wide open back door, and knowing that  there was nobody else home he let the guy run out the back door.

Sturgill Simpson is a smart man, he may have never heard of the term “keep your honor clean” but he explains it when he tells Joe why he didn’t shoot. Americans use firearms in self-defense hundreds of thousands of times every year, usually without firing a shot. The converse is also true; training and reading will enable you to act decisively when I the breach.

The gold standard for sheepdogs everyday carry. That means the pistol is holstered when you get dressed in the morning and unholstered when you go to bed at night.  Carrying 24/7 is uncomfortable and limits what you can do and where you can go. You cannot drink while carrying because the act alone, regardless of the amount, puts you outside the color of the law.  The standard is 24/7 which was easy for me in Afghanistan but not always possible in the United States so the Sheepdog adapts as necessary.

I am not a gun guy and not interested in models, calibers, custom work etc… My interests have always been in human performance in combat. I understand the various operating systems and trigger set ups, how to take them apart and clean them, but care little about customizing and other normal gun geek topics. I carry a Gen 5 Glock 19 with a Trijicon RMR sight to compensate for decreased visual acuity.

I also own several 1911’s and use them when doing any serious range training. I use the Glock because I know how to work the trigger (pressing and keeping the slack out) and get a consistent single action break every time I shoot it. I prefer the 1911 because it has a true single action trigger, it’s ergonomic, the .45  round packs a punch while the slide cycles smoothly enough to allow rapid sight alignment on follow on shots.

I know gun people are really particular about their guns but any gun will do – it’s the shooter that counts. This concludes the four part Sheepdog series that I started last month for reasons I no longer remember. I just had something to say on the topic and now that it is off my mind it is time for more book writing. The Staff of Free Range International wishes you and yours a Happy New Year.