Day 1 Recap (very brief version)

I originally had a longer post saved up, but it got deleted thanks to the WordPress Gods not liking me. As such, here’s the short version until I can recompose my thoughts.

Glock:
I was fully prepared to hate the Model 42. Then I laid hands on it. It actually feels really good in hand. To the point that I may actually get one. One word of caution-it will not take standard Glock internals (connectors, etc), so no trigger pull upgrades for the near future.

Magpul:
Magpul had their new AK/AKM mag on display. The one shown does not have metal reinforcements, but there is a steel reinforced version forthcoming. The MIAD had an upgrade as well, with a new lube bottle core. Quite a useful little widget. The MS1 sling is their new modular sling system. Basically pick how you want your sling, and you can set it up exactly that way.

Surefire:
The fabled Ryder .22LR can will finally see the light of day in 2014. All aluminum, super light weight. Rated ONLY for .22lr. A stainless version may be forthcoming that can handle other small diameter rounds (.17hmr, etc) but there is no date yet. The Fury sees an upgrade to 600 Lumens. For those of you who play in the dark-there is an X300 now that is a combination white/IR weapon light (XLV2), as well as an X400 with IR laser. There are several new rechargeable flashlights, including one that is Fury sized with replaceable batteries.

Blue Force Gear:
The PlateMinus 2, with 10speed cumberbund was on display. Side armor compatible slots. I also met their velociraptor.

Vertx:
Vertx had new bags on display, including a very clever range bag. Separate ammo compartment, with removable trays to keep your ammo separate. It also has an internal steel cable that you can use as a lock point…so your stuff can’t walk off as easily. Their new backpacks are very well done too. More on these later.

Arc’teryx:
Arc’teryx had a several great revisions on hand, and a re-release of the much missed Combat Pants. I’ll write more on all their stuff later.

Raven Concealment/Eleven10:
Looks for Wolf Grey Kydex from RCS. The pocket blowout kit done in collaboration with Eleven10 is super slick as well. Basically the size of a fat wallet.

Off to the show for Round 2.

SHOT Show 2014 Bound

So, while I’m trapped in the Atlanta airport waiting on my flight, I thought I’d at least do a hit-and-run post.

I’ll be trying to post from my iPhone and iPad as I see nifty stuff. Depending on the booth/vendor, there may or may not be photos accompanying said post.

If there is stuff you want to see-drop me a mess…oops…dialog on the forum under Adam_S and I’ll do my best to see what I can’t dig up for you.
-Adam

SHOT coverage

Since I’m gonna be tied to a booth for the whole show, we’re lining up guest contributors to find the cool, new, interesting, unusual and downright weird stuff at SHOT this coming week. The first of those is Adam S, long time LF member and one who’s in tune with the ideals of strength, honor and piracy. We hope to have a few more as well.

How-to: Poncho Shelters

How To: Poncho Shelters

http://www.lightfighter.net/to…w-to-poncho-shelters

d man asked: “I was wondering how you guys make a shelter, cover or means of protection out of a poncho.”

Blowfish wrote:  “GI ponchos (not the little plastic ponchos you find at sporting goods stores or Wal-Mart’s) are what they are talking about.

You can pick one up at your local Army-Navy store for less than $20 normally. I did look on lightfighter.com and did not see any listed, but if you give them a call they might be able to hook you up.

At any rate, these are made with several snaps on two sides, and grommets at all four corners. Using the grommets, you can secure it to just about anything (trees, stakes, etc.) and use it as you would a tarp to construct a lean to, or other shelter. In fact, if you have two of them you can snap them together to make a larger shelter – they are designed that way.

Other uses – making a litter to carry the injured, flotation device for moving yourself or your gear over water, really the only limit is your imagination.

It is an excellent investment.

Now, as far as shelters in areas where there are not many trees, are you talking about wide-open plains, the desert, a snowy environment, or rocky/mountainous terrain?

A good place to start on how to construct shelters is the U.S. Army Survival guide – FM-21-76. You can download it for free here:

http://www.globalsecurity.org/…icy/army/fm/21-76-1/

and if you want to browse by chapter, you can also view it here:

http://www.equipped.com/fm21-76.htm

A google search for poncho shelters came up with the following:

http://basic.armystudyguide.co…ivouac_equipment.htm

and

http://www.aircav.com/survival/asch05/asch05p01.html

This should get you off to a good start. The latter link has a lot more information than the first, but both provide good direction.”

BobKhan wrote:  “Get a GI poncho. Get 4-5 bungee cords. Voila! Instant shelter. No higher than knee high. Slope to adjust for wind. Sleep tight!”

seb5 wrote: “…(a previous post) basically gave the dimensions of the shock corded poles and used aluminum nails to hold it down. The ends of the poles had electrical wire nuts on the ends to stick thru the holes on the poncho. I followed the simple directions and for about $12.00 had a lightweight small tent. I’ve used it on several FEX’s. I will say that a one person tent from whoever you like is almost as small and light and has a floor and ventilation. I like redundancy but it’s almost too much to carry 2 small tents. Depending on the weather I will use my poncho tent or my one person tent and gore tex, but usually not both.

http://www.alpharubicon.com/prepinfo/ponchotent.htm

Sneaky SF Dude wrote (in reply to BobKhan’s post):  “There it is. You can use 550 for it as well. Don’t forget to tie the hood closed and tie it to a limb or something so it tents up a little higher than the rest of the poncho.”

B493 wrote:  “It also works really well when you make a lightweight sleeping bag with a poncho liner. I was only ever issued the old extreme cold weather sleeping bags so the poncho and liner really saved time and weight in the summer.”

4FOX4LIFE wrote:  “Get one of them small hammocks, hang it so you’re just off the ground and put the poncho above it diagonally and tie out the other 2 corners. GREAT for jungles. If you’re just hiking/ camping, you can bring along trekking poles. The can be used for the uprights on tarps. Most light/ fast tarps are designed to use these poles.”

sak45acp wrote: “The bungees are used to tie off the corners of the poncho to trees, rocks, bushes, cherrys, whatever without having five thousand feet of 550 cord getting all knotted and snarled up everywhere. The bungees are compact and easy to store when not being used, but stretch long enough to attach to stuff at varying distances. A three foot bungee will stretch out to a tree six feet away, or wrap around a tree and double back on itself three feet away, without having to measure and cut a separate piece of 550 for everytime you rig a hootch. They tend to be faster in setting up: all you do is hook the bungee to the grommet, stretch it, and hook the other end to the tree. Again; no measuring, cutting, knot tying etc. Usually, you will use a combination of 550 and bungees, depending on terrain and foliage.

As 4FOX said you can bring trekking poles (dual use item), or there are plenty of collapsable aluminum tent-type poles available at outdoor and surplus stores. Or use a large boulder to hold up one side or corner while the others are staked/tied down (put your poncho around the boulder, don’t try to move the boulder to your poncho). Logs, cars, telephone poles, your pack, etc might work too. Poncho hootches work because they are so flexible, and limited by the poncho and your imagination only. Practice in your backyard before heading for the hills, though, so you don’t get stuck in a thunderstorm at night trying to figure it all out.

If you’re gonna use bungees on your stakes, use stakes with more “bite” than the ones you linked to. Those are nice for weight, but but don’t hold into the ground under pressure, which your bungees are gonna exert more than regular 550. This would be better. It will hold better. Make sure you are using them on firm ground with bungees.

Well, I usually have 5 bungees, about 50 feet of 550 (not just for hootch building, but other uses), and have taken to carrying 4 to 6 of the stakes I linked to. Again, the terrain/foliage dictates how you set things up, and you may have to get creative and improvise with making your own stakes from wood, using tree limbs to hold corners, etc. My “hootch kit” with the poncho fits in the middle pocket of a large ALICE pack, or in a Kifaru Long Pocket with room to spare. I would say go get a cheap polytarp and bungees at Wally mart and practice in the backyard. You’ll figure things out pretty quick.”

ROCK6 wrote:  “As Seb5 orginally posted, I made one of these poncho-tents…and it works really well. No modifications to the poncho, picked up some black Easton aluminum poles, some shock-cord and I used washers for the ends to fit into to the poncho grommets…works great, light weight, packs small; can be used without trees, but you’ll have to do some improvising for how much room you may need. I’m 5’8″, so it works fine for me. I also tried out the “boat” function…worked well enough to float my 70lb pack, had a little water in the bottom, but I’m sure it would get your gear across a smaller water way just fine.

I really liked using it when leaned up against a couple of trees, like a lean-to. Kept me and the gear dry. Another good method is suspending the entire system a few feet off the ground a cord above and bungees holding it down…also give great protection from above and a lot more room.

If you’ve already got a couple of ponchos laying around, give it a shot, it’s pretty inexpensive to fabricate.”

Compiler’s addition: “Forming a loop at the midpoint of a given length of 550 cord, running that through the corner eyelets of the ponco, knotting it in place around the eyelet, knotting the loose ends to prevent fraying, and then doing both ends up into a quick release braid will let you use inelastic cord without creating a snarly mess. Some will add carabiners to the end, but many small carabiners are garbage. Truckers’ hitches can be added if desired.

This is particularly handy when throwing a poncho or USMC field tarp over a turret, CSW emplacement, or similar temporary overhead shelter. It doesn’t interfere with tying in your poncho liner to make a ranger roll, or for using some stakes. If bundling with stakes or poles, the outermost corner’s cord can be left unbraided, so that after the poncho is wrapped around the hardgoods, the cord can tie everything together.”

Compiled by Runcible

Building the Better Boot For You

Moloch38 wrote:

“FEET
Start going barefoot in your boots now to make your feet tougher (not on road marches, only in garrison). Try to go barefoot as much as possible to build up the callous on your feet. there are a few methods to toughen your feet up quicker also with chemicals: you can rub alcohol on them every night, put Benzoin Tincture on them every night (the most proven method), or use tuffoot every night. Here are links for Benzoin tincture and tuffoot:

http://store.yahoo.com/brucemedical/bentin.html
http://www.tuffoot.com/order.htm

I’ve only ever used the barefoot in boots method, and I don’t get blisters at all. I’ve heard good stuff about the other methods though.

FITTING YOUR BOOTS
I like mine to fit like running shoes, pretty snug (when they are new at least – they will stretch quickly) but with some room to wiggle the toes (not tight on your toes at all). If they don’t fit SEND THEM BACK. do not wear boots that don’t fit right. Order a size or size and a half smaller than shoe size (I wear size 9.5 – 10 run shoe, size 8 – 9 boots). Yes, sometimes you will have to send them back or sell to a buddy.

A special note – if you are going to use insoles in your boots (which you really should), as mentioned below, be sure to get the insoles first and put them in the boots when you are trying them on. Some insoles are thick enough that you need to go up a half size.

BOOTS-JUNGLES ONLY
Buy the old Vietnam jungle boots that were manufactured in the 70′s or the same boot currently made by wellco. They have the thickest leather, best soles, best material, and last the longest. You can tell them from other brands of jungles because they have big eyelets, thicker leather, and cotton and nylon uppers (as opposed to all nylon uppers or all cotton uppers). If you can’t get those boots, buy boots made by Wellco. Wellco also makes some new jungles with nice running soles on them. I don’t have a pair but I’m hearing good things about them. They (Wellco) also make the desert boot, which is much more comfortable than other jungles due to the suede material. They come tan but you can dye them black if you need to. Seriously, only the genuine Vietnam issue boots or wellco made boots are worth your money. here are links to buy Vietnam jungles and wellco boots – the recommended ones on the first link are ONLY item # B9701:

http://www.jwsurplus.com/pg076.htm
http://www.wellco.com/

look around on the wellco site, all their boots are quality made. The pair with running soles is about $80 shipped.

In addition, here is chipper’s link for jungles. They have sizes listed and are actually cheaper

http://www.armysurpluswarehouse.com/

The black Army issue jungles they sell at the PX are an OK alternative, especially since the others are getting harder to find and regulations are changing on green jungles. But look into the others before you settle for the PX boots.

How to tell the old (better) jungles from cheap imitations and junkers (like altamas and SOGs) – a few ways. The eyelets are visibly much larger. The uppers are made of a different materiel – seems to be cotton uppers with nylon crossovers. The leather is a bit thicker, a little less flexible. Sometimes the soles are in the early sixties pattern – hard to find. What you really need to do is see a pair of the old boots and examine them carefully. After that you will always be able to tell. If you are looking to buy a pair, look for surplus stores that advertise Vietnam jungle boots – not Vietnam STYLE jungle boots. Then call them and ask if they are actually the ones made in the 60s and 70s. Usually they will be honest and tell you if they know.

INSOLES-THE HEART OF YOUR BOOT
Do not ignore this one. good insoles that mold to your feet are available. The Sole technology insoles work spectacularly (about $40 online – available at military clothing in the PX for $25). Took them through SFAS – not a single blister and very easy on my feet. A buddy took them through delta selection with the same results. Better than running shoe insoles, at least for me. If you don’t opt for them, put your best running shoe insoles in your boots. It makes a big difference in the way your feet feel. Don’t ignore it, its a big one, just try it and see. Do not go cheap on insoles.

http://www.itsyoursole.com/technology.htm

BOOT WORK
Removing the toe and heel cups- This takes about 2 hours per boot the first time you do it. There are three layers inside your boot: liner, cup, and leather. Find where the cup ends in the front of the boot by feeling for it through the liner (which is usually yellow or gray) inside the boot. When you find that little gap, work it with your fingers until you get the material to separate a little. Then, very carefully, cut through the hanging material with a blade. Once you have that little cut/rip started, use it to rip out ALL of the liner material.

Once you have the liner out you should very easily be able to feel where the cup ends and leather begins. Take a non-sharp tool, such as a flathead screwdriver or even your fingers, and jam it between the leather and the cup. Work it around and separate the cup from the leather all the way down to the sole where the cup goes in. It is ok if you rip the cup while doing this.

Finally, once you’ve completely separated the cup from the leather as described above, put a pair of pliers (like a leatherman) in the boot and use it to twist the cup until it rips out. This is a lot harder than it sounds: you really have to muscle it to get it out.

This takes time but is well worth it, and you get faster with every pair you do. There is a place that supposedly will do it for you for $15 or so – have seen mixed results with that.

Softening your boots – you can use the old way of just using Kiwi softeners and polish, or you can use neatstoot oil (a softener for saddle leather). Neatsfoot is the best way to go.

There is a great process to do this right. First sand your boots down until the raw leather is exposed. This gets rid of the paint they put on your boots at the factory (yes, they actually PAINT them) and allows the oil to soak in.

Next, apply the oil very liberally. Rub it in for 15 minutes (working the leather). Let it sit overnight, repeat to your desire. At least 4 times is a good rule. Baseball glove softener also works, but don’t bake your boot in the oven or park a car on it like you would a glove. You can buy neetsfoot oil online or at any farm supply or saddle shop. Talk to someone who has something to do with horses and they can get it for you. The link below has it for pretty cheap:

http://www.livestockconcepts.com/neatsfootoil.html (COMPILER’S NOTE: Amazon.com also carries neatsfoot oil.)

To break them in fast, just wear them soaking wet for a few hours a couple of times, usually that does the trick. However, if you oil them, you really don’t even need to do that.

RE-SOLEING
Getting them resoled at Ranger Joes costs about $45 – that is to get them soled and get the steel shank removed from them. This is also well worth your time and money. If you get them resoled, ask them for the softest vibram running shoe soles they have, not the ripple soles or any others. The running soles wear out quicker than others but are the way to go. Joes site:

http://www.rangerjoes.com/

There is also a place that puts actual vibram running soles on your boots, for about $50. These are definitely the best resole deal going. We used these going through selection with spectacular results. WELL WORTH YOUR $$.

http://www.resole.com/

or

http://www.militarybootrepair.com/

LACING
There are a million ways to lace. Invent your own that is most comfortable. A good way is to lace the first three eyes, then put knots in the lace so that the laces stay LOOSE IN THE BOTTOM THREE EYES. This helps prevent tendonitis by alleviating the pressure in the tendons on top of the foot. Then, lace straight up one hole (without crossing over) so the boot has a place to bend without biting into the foot. From there on it does not matter for me how I lace them, so I either lace regular or skip right to the top holes simply for speed. Everyone laces differently. That is my way, one out of a million.

Types of laces – gutted 550 is the about the strongest most durable lace you can get, and you can buy black, or dye the green to black if you have to. Gutted 550 will lay flat against your foot and minimize abrasion and friction on your ankle/foot. Otherwise, 100% nylon laces are the best (but they bite into your foot). Laces with cotton in them fray to much and break.

GENERAL REPAIR
Sole damage and glue – sometimes when you get boots resoled they don’t glue the new ones perfectly, or you mess them up a little and they start to separate from the boot. The best thing to do is take them back to the place you got them soled at – usually they will repair them for free. If not, buy some Guerrilla Glue (IS THIS GORILLA GLUE?). Guerrilla glue is the strongest glue around, some places even use it to put your soles on. Just put a liberal amount on and let it cure for the recommended time. (COMPILER’S NOTE: Freesole is a similar and excellent product.)

SOCKS
Black issue socks are poor quality, shrink fast, and generally do not do what they should for your feet. The green issue socks are definitely of higher material quality, at least last longer, and seem to feel better. They are available at most surplus stores and definitely at ranger Joes. The various extra Thorlo socks the PX offers are ok, but are too thick for summertime comfort and normal boot fit. Dress socks work OK, but can give you hot spots on long movements.

The best alternative seems to be Smartwool socks, normal thickness Coolmax socks, or ingenious socks (INJINJI?). All of those and more are available at most hiking stores like REI and some outlets like Bass Pro. Many of them come in green, black, or some dark color. They all seem to work great – here is what to look for: a sock designed for extreme hiking/activity; a sock designed for warm weather wear; and socks that are about normal thickness, not overly bulky so that your boot is no longer comfortable. The only disadvantage to these socks is that they usually cost about $8-10 a pair.

Last note on socks – DO NOT WEAR 100% cotton socks (like your white socks) WITH BOOTS. When they get wet with sweat, they will shred your feet like a blender. Just ask Dan Maher, a stud that was in the hospital after walking a mere 12 miles with his white socks on.

THE PERFECT BOOTS
Here is how you build the perfect 2 sets of field boots: 1 basic set you can wear comfortably to any school, 1 specialized set you wear whenever you are allowed

First – buy 2 pair of the old jungles (like from JW Surplus).
-Take both pairs, strip them with low grit sand paper, taking just a tiny bit of the black coating off until you can see the raw leather (about 1 hour a pair).
-Rub a very liberal coating of neatsfoot oil into them, then let them sit over night. Do that a total of 4 times.
-Now go ahead and put a liberal coating of black kiwi on them, rub it in well. Do it as much as you prefer, the more the better.
-You are done with one pair (unless you want to take the toe cups out of it) that will be your pair you can wear to any school.
-send the other pair off to re-sole.com and get the vibram new runner put on them and the steel shanks removed from the sole. If re-sole.com is not available or out of business, just get the softest, cushiest soles on the market put on them and the shanks removed.
-when you get them back, take the toe cups out of them (wait until you get them back b/c some places wont put soles on boots without toe cups in them)
-Now get the soles technology insoles listed above and follow the molding process (that is key). If you cant do that then use your best running shoe insoles.
-Now lace them with black 550 to your preference, and sink your feet into the softest, most comfortable pair of boots you have. Your money will be well spent (the total cost for my favorite pair of jungles is about $140, not to include hours put into softening and taking out cups. That is still cheaper than most good hunting boots).

If you buy the Sole Tech insoles from the PX, make sure you get them about a half size to a full size larger than your boot size. If you don’t, when you mold them to the boot and your foot, there will be a gap between the end of the insole and the front of your boot, and your toes will hang over slighty and become very uncomfortable.

Also, its fine to use your altamas to resole and such if you already bought them. But if not, you can get better boots for less from wellco or surplus sources.

Sanding the leather down just takes off the finisher most makers paint on the boot to make it look nice. this opens up the pores for when you treat the leather to soften it, remember we are talking very fine grit paper here not the kind of stuff on your garage sander. I am not sure where I stand on taking out the toe and heel cups, it takes away support, but basically gives you that running shoe feel, it is reallly if you need it. Do these make your boots look “good” for schools? It has nothing to do with looks it is about performance. I am an athlete, when you run a race do you wear your Doc Martins or your racing spikes? This is to build a performance boot that is going to treat your feet right under bad conditions and the long haul. THat is why there is a lot of variables and ultimately this is only a guide the rest is what works best for the individual.

crew341 wrote:
“I shot an email to militarybootrepair.com last week and I recived this reply.

‘we can remove the toe counters, but don’t recommend removing the heel counters– you need them for stability. $10 to remove toe counters….’”

Evil Lightfighter wrote:
“Best way to use the Neetsfoot oil (imho) is to buy enough to soak your boots in a bucket (jungles don’t need to be entirely dunked under the neets), it’ll run you about $30-$50 bucks.

Let them soak for two or three days and then pull them out of the bucket and wear them around until they are dry. Some Neetsfoot oil will seep out of the leather for a couple of days and stain your socks black , but its no big deal and won’t harm your feet.

Doing this after sanding your boots will give you the softest and most comfortable pair of combat boots in the world. An added bonus to using the Neets this way, is that your leather will become 100% waterproof.

A word of caution though, only use this method on your field boots as you’ll never be able to get your boots highly shined again.”

RIT Medic wrote:
“I have had the heel and toe caps removed from all my boots as well as soaking them in Neetsfoot oil. This not only makes them soft and waterproof but if left in the oil long enough will completely dye the leather black so you dont have to worry about the gray leather showing thru after scuffing them.

Clark’s Boot Repair on Yadkin Rd is where I would recommend having your mods done. Clark’s Boot Repair can be found at http://www.sealashine.com/

You only remove the liner far enough back to expose the toe cap. Should be only about 2-3 inches from the front of the boot.”

java-mtr wrote:
“Gentlemen, I’ve been trying the recommendations posted in this thread on two new pairs of Wellco jungle boots and let me tell you, these boots are as soft as butter after a weekend of sanding and soaking. For me, 320 grit sandpaper did the trick. Then, a combination of Obenaufs boot oil and heavy duty leather preservative plus Kiwi black boot polish, repeated indefinitely over the course of two days, made the leather super comfortable.

I also tried those Sole Technology insoles at my local running store and even just trying them in the store without actually molding them to my feet, they made a world of difference. These insoles are very contoured and offer great arch support. They take up quite some space in the boot though.”

Evil Lightfighter reposted from SOCNET:
“Here you go.

1. when you clip your toenails, you want to ensure that you use a nail clipper with STRAIGHT EDGES.

If you look at your standard nail clipper, the edges are almost always shaped in a half-moon configuration, like an arc. Those are fingernail clippers, and should be used only on fingernails.

Toenail clippers are always straight. If they are not straight, they are not for toenails. You can use scissors, or whatever, but it is best to use straight toenail clippers because using scissors requires expertise and know-how and a deft hand and if you use a real sharp pair (as you must for them to work correctly) you can stab the shit out of yourself if your buddies bitchslap you while you are taking care of your shit or if you flinch or shake because you’re drunk or whatever.

Straight nail clippers work best on feet, and you just need to do whatever is necessary to find a couple of pair.

2. Straight toenail clippers are LARGER than standard clippers. You have to look hard at the stuff sold at the PX or wherever you are buying your foot care gear. Make sure they are sharp as hell, and that they have a good wide set of handles. Spend more for good quality, and don’t be afraid to really bust out the green and buy a good pair of GERMAN clippers. Those fuckers make shit like that better than anyone else.

3. Toenails should ALWAYS be cut STRAIGHT ACROSS, NEVER IN AN ARC. Look at your fingernails. Typically, for most people who are not genetically one step descended from apes, fingernails are curved. Toenails can be curved, if you are an idiot and have not TRAINED them to grow straight, but having curved toenails is like begging to be fucked up the ass. You will get ingrown toenails, and those motherfuckers hurt real, real bad.

4. When I say that toenails need to be cut straight across, I mean just that. You will see that the nail itself will probably end up being longer at the ends where they protrude from the toe bed, and that is fine. They can be shorter at the center, as long as they are straight across. Cutting them in this way, training them to grow this way, is intended to help prevent them from growing into the SIDES of your toe beds.

5. You may need to get under the toenails at the edges, and work under them to ensure that they do not dig into the sides of your toes. Just work with them on a daily basis to help guide them where you want them to go. If your shit is too fucked up, go to a podiatrist, explain what you are doing and why, and ask him for his advice. He may be able to just yank the fuckers so you can start over and train them from the beginning. Regardless, you need to get all the toe-jam out from under and beside your toenails, and you should do this weekly in garrison, and daily in the bush, at minimum.

6. You don’t want your toenails to be so long that they are bumping into the toe of your boot from the inside. They need to be long enough to protect the top of the toe, but not so long that they are the first part of your foot to contact the toe of the boot from the inside when you move your foot forward. If they fall out, don’t sweat it. If you need to remove them, don’t sweat it. Just work with them and train them so they grow back right, if they grow back at all.

7. You need to keep your toenails fucking trimmed, and that means you may need to clip them more than once a week. When you are in the bush, and your dogs are literally your life, then you will inspect them and maintain them and do whatever is necessary to keep them right every day, sometimes several times a day, conditions permitting. I’ll talk about tolnaftate or other anti-fungals, foot powder, etc., down below.

8. Boot sizing is critical. You especially need to pay attention to boot width. Go to a shoe store, an actual shoe store, and have a competent person size your foot, while you are standing. If you can, “liberate” an “oppressed” foot sizer device, one of those things they use in shoe stores, so you can size your foot while actually wearing a 60 to 80lb ruck on your back. Your foot WILL spread. Know your boot size, and when you get sized in the army, speak up and stand up for yourself, as you will be given boots, but your life will suck far worse if they are the wrong goddamned size. Remember that S4 Civilians are often shitheads sucking on the tit of government service, and they will often try to treat you like a louse and simply throw shit at you. Demand respect, politely, but demand it, and get it, and get your correct goddamned boot size. You will probably want between one half to one inch room in the toe. You want your heel to be secure, and not slip out of the heel cup of the boot. This is important. You will need to snug down the ankle part of the boot to a point where you are not inhibiting blood flow to the foot, but adequately to ensure that your heel does not slip. You do not want your feet sliding around inside your boot.

9. Depending on the type of boot you get, you may or may not need to shape them to your feet to accelerate or facilitate the “break-in” process. There are a million methods of accomplishing this. Some folks wear their boots in the shower, and then walk around with them wet until they dry on their feet. Some folks just wear their boots for a month until they are broken in the hard way.
I used to literally soak my boots in a BUCKET of Neet’s Foot Oil, which can be a very expensive proposition if you go to the store and see how much an entire bucket’s worth will cost you. The thing is, Neet’s Foot Oil breaks down the leather, whether you are using old-style authentic green jungle boots, newer-style black jungle boots, full-leather standard Army-issue boots, or whatever. I have no idea what kind of boots are issued these days, or permitted. But Neet’s Foot Oil can make your boots softer than slippers, meaning the uppers will be nice and soft, and waterproof as HELL. When you are a grunt, and you live and die on your feet, no money is too much for the right shit, and Neet’s Foot Oil IS the shit. No, I don’t own stock or Neet’s Foot Oil futures.

10. The Neet’s Foot Oil treatment is only appropriate for boots worn in the field. It will ruin all chance for boots to look “normal” or pretty for garrison purposes, but for field boots, you will thank me every day you wear them in the bush if you prepare your field boots in this way. I used to soak my boots, completely immersing them, (at least just the leather part, or completely, if they were all leather boots), for about two weeks. No kidding. Periodically, I would pull the boots out, and rough up the outer surface with a steel brush, carefully. This was so the Neet’s Foot Oil could soak in deeper into the leather, completely saturating it. When I came back from the bush, I would clean my boots, then reinsert them into a bucket, or just liberally coat them repeatedly with more layers, to maintain the water repellency and softness.

11. Boots prepared in this way are completely waterproof. They will leak Neet’s Foot Oil onto your socks for awhile after you prepare them (this is ugly, but harmless), but they will last a long time, remain totally waterproof, and require very rare applications of black shoe polish, which means you can skip packing a can of polish and a rag in your ruck. Your boots will stay black, no matter what, and you will not have to polish them. Your boots will get softer than hell, and very comfortable, and you will like them more than tennis shoes. Your boots will be as waterproof or more so than a set of gore tex boots, but they will be a hell of a lot cheaper, even considering the cost of the Neet’s Foot Oil (it might cost around $20-30 for enough to immerse your boots, with a bucket large enough to fit both boots in it).

12. The ultimate combo is a pair of SEAL Skins gore tex booties (or your alternative preferred gore tex bootie, which also must be carefully sized to ensure it does not SLIP inside the boot) and a properly broken in and prepared Neet’s Footed pair of jungle boots. You can stay amazingly dry, and that means you can stay surprisingly warm. Getting your feet wet can be a serious, serious problem in the bush. Any way you can find to minimize it, particuarly when you are carrying your house on your back and you are moving dozens of klicks a day for days at a time, will save you time, pain, and grief. It will keep you mission-effective, and you will be able to ruck harder, and farther, and you will remember me and this guidance in strange places and on many lonely nights and you will be very grateful that you heeded me.

13. Now, let’s talk about socks. In the bad, bad bush, where you are in fucking rain forest like Panama or parts of Colombia, Central America, Peru, the Amazon Basin, that sort of thing…..if you are walking through streams, in streams (sometimes jungle is just too thick, and you have to walk IN the streams, as dangerous as it can be), I never wore socks. My feet were like rocks, anyway, and wearing socks just kept them wetter. You have to dry your feet out under these conditions, and that means sometimes you have to stop, hang your ruck from a tree (carefully, being aware of snakes and ants and spiders and millipedes and shit) put up your goddamned jungle hammock, and get into it to pull foot maintenance, clean your weapon, eat chow, etc. The major part of foot maintenance under extreme conditions can be merely drying your feet out.

14. Once you do what you can to keep your feet dry, you check your nails, make sure they are cool, then you clip them if necessary. If you are not in the jungle, but are just in forests, your sock selection will be based primarily on the weather and the temperature. In warmer weather, particularly if I was moving long distances and my feet were going to be swelling a bit after rucking for many hours, I would skip socks entirely and wear ONLY sock liners, typically polypro or something along those lines. These extract sweat away from your feet, trasmitting it into the surrounding leather or goretex bootie, and help keep your feet DRY. Remember what I said about dry feet? Dry feet are always warmer than wet feet. Dry feet are HAPPY feet. Thin sock liners ALSO have the crucial benefit of helping you avoid blisters, and this is a major, major bonus.

15. Depending on the terrain, environment, etc., I would go sockless in the jungle, and otherwise wear liners, only, under all other conditions except cold, cold weather and mountainous terrain, and then I would carefully consider what would work best under those situations. I got to a point where I really preferred sock liners under the vast majority of situations, and would just put them on under SEAL Skins gore tex booties in properly prepared and broken-in Neet’s Footed jungle boots or standard Army issue leather boots. Standard boots, properly prepared, can be pretty nice in colder weather, as they lack that stupid steel shank that used to be included in jungle boots. That shank would make your feet colder than hell, sometimes. Anyway, wearing just liners, my dogs would stay dry, and since they were dry, they were WARM. Nothing better than warm dogs. I shit you not. Nothing worse than cold feet.

16. Ok. If it is pretty cold out, and you need more insulation, then you have to look at your boot choice versus your sock choice. If you go with a warmer sock, test out and strongly consider Smart Wool socks. You can get them at LL Bean, REI (yes, you should be a member), joints like that. You have to make sure that you get them in a tall enough height, like ankle height, or boot height, whatever, so they don’t scrunch down into your boot and fuck up your feet by cramping your toes, and you have to carefully look at the weave, thickness, etc., but generally, a Smart Wool sock will have properties of moisture management and warmth that are unmatched by virtually anything else.

Be careful with your sizing. You want to ensure that your socks fit right inside your boots, and that your feet fit correctly inside your boots wearing socks of different sizes. You need to be careful: if your feet slide when wearing just liners, you need to tighten your shit up, or maybe use a half-size smaller. If your boots are too tight when wearing Smart Wool thicker socks (like during the wintertime), then you need to loosen them up, or go a half-size larger. The only difference, generally, between a half-size is like a half-inch in the toe.

17. For colder weather, you can generally assume you will be wearing different boots, so you will want to properly prepare and size your cold weather boots separately and differently from your warm weather boots, and both should be separate from your jungle boots. These are three separate climates. They require three different sets of foot SYSTEMS, including boots, socks, liners, booties, etc.

In colder weather, I like boots with a little thinsulate in them. I personally wear these boots made by Chippewa. I was issued a pair by the Army a long time ago, and I really liked them, even though they were heavy as shit, so I checked out the Chippewa website and ordered a couple of pairs that were like Army boots but better. You have the option of steel toes, etc., but I would recommend avoiding that unless you want to invite frost bite.

My Chippewas are warmer than hell, they took the Neet’s Foot Oil treatment like champs, they are soft, and they are very durable. You need to be careful, because if you get the wrong ones, they can be a little too heavy, but you need to draw a distinction between boots worn in garrison for training for rucking, etc., and boots worn in forests or mountains in snow or rain or just plain old cold ass weather. For the latter, these are your boots, though others may have differing guidance.

18. Ok…where are we…..let’s talk about what you do to maintain your feet.
You want to powder your feet at least once a day, regardless of where you are, or what you are doing. And that means right now. You want to use any powder with anti-fungal properties, like Desenex, whatever, and yes, cans cost a shitload (like six bucks!) at the grocery store, while they are FREE in the Army. In garrison, powder your feet when you put your boots on in the morning, after your shower. If your feet are sore, or crampy, massage them, and massage them right. If you don’t know how to do that, go get a foot massage from a Rolfer masseuse, and ask them to show you what to do. They can put you to sleep with a fucking foot massage, and teach you how to bring a woman to climax with a foot massage. I shit you not.

In the bush, you powder your feet as needed, whenever possible, depending on what your team leader says, or is appropriate. You will learn about this as you proceed through Basic, etc. You do this both to help keep your feet dry, but also to change socks (from wet to dry), to CLEAN your feet, and to stay ahead of fungal infections. Itchy feet fucking suck. That’s why you ALWAYS wear shower shoes in the Army rather than bare feet. ALWAYS. Never walk around barefooted. You will get a gnarly fungusamungus and hate life.

If you do get a fungal infection, see your doc and get some stuff for it. There are a variety of drops and creams and stuff that work ok, as long as you use them for a FULL course of treatment, and then continue with good maintenance and prevention using powder.

19. Ok. That’s about it. I am probably forgetting something, but I’ll let the others jump in here with their opinions and corrections. In sum, you get boots that are the correct size based on what you are doing, where you are doing it, and when; you prepare the boots, breaking them in, waterproofing them; you exercise care in sock selection and sock usage; you practice good foot hygiene, and keep your shit trained and trimmed, and you use both experience and gear to keep your feet dry, whether the weather is hot or warm. If you are in hot weather, you wear appropriate boots and liners to keep your feet as cool as possible. You can use antipersperant to actually inhibit sweating, helping keep your feet dry. No kidding. In cold weather, same thing.”

Compiled by Runcible

The Bug Out Bag vs. The Get Home Bag

Nobody knows when the next disaster will strike or what it will be. On your way home from work, taking the kids to a soccer game, lounging on the couch, while camping or taking your significant other out to dinner?
Hwy 78 Cordova area
What about sudden, unexpected events: hurricanes, massive winter storms, tornadoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, wildfires, drought or alien invasion?
Ice Storm
How is it possible for you to be ready to go no matter what you’re doing or where you’re doing it? There is an easy way to divide what you need to stay ready. The GHB and the BOB.

The BOB vs. The GHB
Sounds like one of those hokey, Japanese monster movies from the 1960’s right? OK, maybe not. With the earthquake and tsunami of March 11th 2011, that’s not really that funny.
Here’s a clue to start out this article, it’s not about the bag! Really. If you think you need one of these, don’t start out by trying to find the coolest bag ever made and then go out and buy equipment to fit into every one of its 19,000 pockets. Decide what you need a Bug Out Bag or Get Home Bag for, research what gear you might need, get the gear and THEN find a suitable bag. And don’t forget training. Having all the cool-guy gear won’t help you a bit if you don’t actually know how to use it by conducting actual practice. Reading internet survival forums and watching television shows of other people doing things, while sitting in your undies in mom’s basement doesn’t count. Take your gear and at least go play with it in the backyard. And put some pants on first.
A Bug Out Bag is something that will hold the gear you need that you’ll use to take you beyond civilization. The gear in this bag will allow you to “live off the grid” for a reasonable amount of time until you can establish more permanent living conditions or the event that caused you to “bug out” in the first place, has resolved itself and you can return home. The Get Home Bag is similar to the BOB, only its intended purpose is to allow you to carry the gear you need to get you from where you are, to back home in the event that your normal routine is interrupted.
I don’t have any pre-packed BOBs. I’m pretty sure that in the event of any societal meltdowns, rampaging diseases, alien invasions, zombie apocalypse’ or any other “The End Of The World As We Know It” scenarios, that I’ll probably have at least an hour or two to get something packed up for the family. More importantly though, I don’t really have anywhere else to go that’s better than where I am. I don’t have any family “in the country.” I don’t (yet) own some remote piece of land that nobody else knows about with an air-pressurized cabin, self-contained water source and food stocks for three years.
The size and type of your actual BOB, is going to be dependant on who is traveling with you, how far you have to go and what you may need, both along the way and once you get to your safe location. Remember though, you have to have already planned out where you are going to travel to and how you are going to get there. The exact type of bag and the contents of your BOB are each too numerous to discuss in detail within the context of this article. Keep the above in mind and you should do fine when planning things out.
BOB’s are usually a larger, multi-day pack or expedition sized bag. A BOB however, could also be useful if you and your family felt the need or were required to evacuate due to a pending natural disaster and were told to go to a safety center. While one of the last places I would willingly take my family to would be a relocation or safety center outside of my immediate area, it may be your only option. Think about the conditions that the people of New Orleans were forced to endure when they went to the stay at the Superdome during Hurricane Katrina. We would be negligent in allowing our family members to go to such a place, without bringing some sort of self-reliant capabilities.Hurricane_Katrina-15
Also, if you live in an area that is prone to natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods, tornados or hurricanes, then maybe having some extra clothing, water containers and easy to prepare meals pre-packed in a bag is not too bad an idea.
Katrina-1

The GHB is an entirely different matter. I have just enough gear, food and water in both my wife’s and my own car to comfortably keep us and our two kids cozy and fed for a couple of days in the event that we had to unexpectedly “car camp,” due to some situation that prevented our immediate return home or to another safe venue.
There is also enough gear in the GHB’s to provide enough nourishment and safety for each of us if we were forced to abandon our car and trek to safety.
With most Americans working an average of only 16 miles from home, most of us could readily hoof that if need be within several hours, weather and other conditions taken into account.
What this also means, is that most of us also do our daily shopping and errand running well within this distance. In the event of an unexpected disaster that causes an impediment to a safe return home such as an earthquake, tornado, wildfires or coastal tsunami, we could take our GHB’s and have enough comfort items and gear to not need to rely on others for our safe return.
The actual GHB itself can be any type of bag or smaller daypack that holds your items discretely and can be hand or shoulder carried comfortably until you get home. If you plan to keep the GHB bag in your vehicles (as apposed to a work location) make sure that both your significant other and kids are familiar with the contents and also have been trained to use any technical equipment. Trying to figure out how to work a strobe light or fill an MRE heater with water for the first time may not seem like such a big deal, until you’re trying to do it while stuck in a snow bank, 30’ down a ravine or trying to dodge alien laser cannons.
With the above in mind, I can’t stress the importance of pre-disaster training. This should include a practice bug out or get home drill and regular familiarization with your gear. If you camp, hunt, hike, or just BBQ in the backyard, plan some time into your next outing on how to make fire with alternative tinder materials and methods or bring along a guidebook that shows which plants are edible in your area. Take both a basic first aid class as well as getting some trauma and wilderness medicine training. And perhaps most importantly, maintain some decent level of fitness and learn to stay calm.
In Ontario, Canada in early December 2010, over 300 motorists were rescued in part by military forces in helicopters after the blowing snow trapped them in their vehicles, for some up to 25 hours. Although there were no deaths or serious injuries, imagine if rescuers would not have been able to get to them due to an overwhelming of emergency services across an entire region. During the Christmas weekend of 2010 in Queens, NY a young couple with a three month old baby was trapped in their car for eight hours by a blizzard. A Good Samaritan rescued them when the local police agency was unable to assist. In October 2007, nearly 225,000 people in Southern California were forced to evacuate and almost 40,000 acres were burned due to wildfires. In January 2011 in Australia, an area twice the size of Texas was covered with water due to torrential rains. There were news reports of sharks swimming in the streets! In Chicago during a January 2011 storm, drivers were stranded for several hours on Lakeshore Dr due to high winds and massive snowfall. Firefighters had to bring in supplies on snowmobiles and passengers stuck on a bus are quoted as having heard the driver say over and over, “We are all going to die.” On March 11th 2011 a magnitude 8.9 earthquake hit Japan, which was then followed by a tsunami with waves reaching over 20 feet high. Almost 30,000 people are either dead or unaccounted for, 200,000 people were forced into shelters, there was massive infrastructure damage and multiple explosions at their nuclear power plants forced evacuation zones, ten miles around. Not to mention a lack of drinking water or electricity. During the fall of 2011, there were massive riots across parts of Europe and the United Kingdom. The Occupy Wall Street Protests in the US, while competed, are not going to just go away. During the early summer in 2012, massive storms struck across the Midwest and east coast, followed by high temperatures nearing or above 100 degrees. At least three dozen dead are attributed to either damage from the storms or high heat. When the power goes out during extremes in temperature, life begins to struggle in our society where we are increasingly dependent on our need for electricity.
post-apocalypse-new-york
Any of these incidents could cause you to either have to bug out or struggle to get home.
When disaster strikes, what are you going to do, where are you going go and whom are you counting on to come your rescue?

Bag basics
Before choosing a bag, research what equipment you need. Think bare bones, no frills and train with what you have. Pick a bag that is slightly larger than what you think you’ll need, but don’t feel the need to stuff it with more than you can carry. If you can, try out several different bags to see what fits you best.
Military style bags are usually made with heavier duty materials that last longer, but they also usually weigh more than their civilian counterparts and may not be as comfortable to carry long term. Civilian backpacks will usually come in brighter, more visible colors than military style bags.

Bag Contents
Do you need an entire change of clothing or just extra socks? Do you have a pair of shoes that will take you the distance you need to go? Will you need to purify water along the way or will one full bottle be enough? Will you need to carry all of your food with you, will you need to hunt or forage or will energy bars sustain you? Do you have some way of signaling to others and do you have something to conceal you from others?
Do you have a basic first aid kit supplemented with some trauma gear, painkillers, prescription medications or extra eyeglasses?
Do you have the tools and weapons you need to protect yourself from others, do you have the training and proper mindset to use them? Figure these things out ahead of time. You will not rise to the occasion; you will default to the level of your training.

*Richard Hecht is a 22 year law enforcement veteran. Rich currently works patrol, has been a firearms instructor since 2004 and served 11 years with his departments SWAT team. Rich also served with Bco 2/75 Ranger Battalion and owns Rich275 DESIGNS, a tactical equipment design and evaluation company.*

Combat Coffee

What is it about people and coffee these days? Why do they have to add so much crap and why is it so hard to get good, simple cup of hot, black coffee? Did you know that one chain of national coffee shops has 874 way to make coffee? Who needs that? Just cowboy up and havacuppajoe.

Good coffee is pretty important thing when you’re in the field. A hot cup of joe on a cold night can make or break a shift. It helps you stay awake and warms yours bones. The caffeine in coffee is one of the few natural stimulants you can take without long term harm and you can manage the dose simply by how much you drink. But why is it so hard to get a hot cup of coffee in the field?

The Army has three grades of coffee – diesel fuel, battery acid and used crankcase oil. The grade depends on the skill of the coffee maker and how long the coffee has been sitting in the urn. The office swill some people call paint thinner pales in comparison.

Chow hall coffee in marmite cans – yech! I know the mess sergeants and cooks try hard and I thanked them every time the delivered hot chow in the field but coffee in marmite cans is one of nature’s horrors, like spiders in your face at night and the Santa Ana Range. Chow hall coffee only stays hot for so long in a marmite or a thermos.

Freeze dried coffee in MRE’s – OK if you’re jonesing for some caffeine and you need to taste something besides dirt in your mouth. It’s not really coffee; its brown speed.

I have seen some real disasters in coffee. Two of the best were and aluminum spoon left in a steel urn, turning it into a very weak battery and causing the coffee to become a chemistry experiment; and some moron who didn’t remove the old grounds when making a new pot of coffee. He just added new grounds to the one already in the basket. No one was constipated…

So, there are generally two opportunities to make coffee in the field, at a TOC or tactically. You can make things easier for everyone if you can make a good pot of coffee. Making coffee for the staff can really make things go better for everyone. I owe this one to a US Navy Chief Petty Officer who gave me a lesson on how to make decent coffee at field station in Germany in the 1980′s. It helped that she was a redhead, but that’s another story. The lesson helped me many times through the years. And if you think this is trivial, be on watch at 0400 when the Corps Commander walks is for an impromptu intel update.

One thing most people do is they ruin a coffee pot by cleaning the coffee pot with hot soap and water. The soap penetrates the steel and you never get it out, forever leaching the taste of soap into the coffee pot. The proper method is to fill the pot with white vinegar and run it through a cycle and the flush with clean water for two or three more cycles. A word of caution – this smells horrible. I mean really bad. Grown men cry at the stench and dogs run away. So do it outside unless you need to clear your office.

Once the coffee pot is cleaned out, fill it with clean, cold water. You’ll just have to deal with tap water unless you have a water filter to remove the chlorine taste. Crumble a thin layer of washed, dried egg shells in the basket. The calcium absorbs much of the bitterness. The coffee grounds: freshly ground if you can, as listed in the instructions -generally one scoop for two cups. If you are working a bleeding midnight shift, just pack the basket to the brim. Finally: just a pinch of salt; not too much. If you can taste the salt, add less next time. The salt enhances the flavor of the coffee and if it’s really hot, gives
you some electrolytes.
In the field, it can be more of a challenge. You need to plan ahead for this. An old-fashioned percolator and a stove are needed, and another pot for boiling water. You might want to consider a multi fuel stove so you can burn alcohol, which burns with no visible flame. Some people drink tea, but a hot cup of water with sugar goes a long way to warming someone up when it’s cold. If you don’t have a percolator or pot, a canteen cup will do for cowboy coffee. Just boil the water with the coffee until it smells right then throw a shot of cold water into the coffee to settle the grounds. Enamel coffee cups for everyone on the team and a couple of spares because a hot cuppa joe for a visitor leaves a good impression and lends an air of civility to an otherwise harsh environment.

A large thermos helps keep the coffee warm so you don’t have to use the stove all the time. This should go in your strike box or golden Connex. Conjuring up hot coffee in the field can really help your troops and gives them a big morale boost.

By Trajan Aurelius

Food for thought: standards and professional development

Re:Standards

The fact is that most standards on shooting drills are arbitrary numbers. Standards (and by extension the times/scores that make them up) do serve as a quantifiable metric to measure progress. It’s a way for me to measure “faster” or “better” and turn those terms into real data. When I say “I shoot these sights better” I can prove it with times and scores. When I say “I clear my cover garment this way because it’s faster” I can validate it by times. Does any of this actually matter in the real world? Fuck if I know.

How fast do I need to be in real life? Faster than the asshole(s) who is trying to rain on my parade I guess. How accurate? Well most gunfights with handguns in the US take place inside of 10 yds (majority at something like 1-3 yds I believe). Does that mean hitting an A-zone at 10 yds is a solid accuracy standard? I don’t think it is.

My belief; I want to be able to shoot as fast as I can process information and hit what I shoot at.

I don’t carry a gun for “most of the time”. Most of the time (my entire life to this point in fact) I don’t need a gun at all. I don’t particularly care at what distance “most” gunfights occur. I carry for those outliers. The time things go bad. I have no control over just how bad they’ll go. Distances and the speed required are complete unknowns. I want to be fast and accurate. My definitions for those words have changed over time. They’ll probably continue to evolve. I want to push them as far as I can.

I never really considered the concept of a “finished” gunfighter. It merits some thought. Either way I don’t think I’m anywhere near “finished” in my development.

By Mick-Boy, used with permission.

AAR Magpul Dynamics Handgun 1, 20-21 August, 2013

Course: Magpul Dynamics Handgun 1
Instructor: Steve Fisher
Dates: 20-21 August 2013
Location: Tango Down Range, Hedgeview, WV
Weather: Mid-High 80′s and humid, mostly sunny.

Class Overview:
Handgun 1 could easily be renamed Handgun Fighting 1. This course certainly exposed the ability, experience, and training regimen (or lack thereof) of students very quickly. Students attending ranged from LE and a few military to industry personnel and Joe off the street civilians with various backgrounds. Several Lightfighters were on hand, with a surprise visit from Hal5555, which was great. Handguns were run from 3-25 yards with a mix of slow fire to multiple shots on multiple targets with a good malfunction drill thrown in for good measure.

Equipment:
Personal equipment consisted of an M&P9 full size with an X300U, Storm Lake barrel, and Apex internal upgrades. Approximately 700 rounds were fired with no cleaning or lubrication except for a few dabs of Fireclean prior to class. For the vast majority of the class, I carried it in a RCS Phantom holster worn IWB at 4:00, with a RCS double magazine holder at 9:00. Early on, I wore a TYR Gunfighter battle belt with a Safariland ALS holster, TYR pistol mag pouches, ATS dump pouch and a personalized IFAK stuffed in an ATS medical insert inside a Dark Angel IFAK pouch. After the first few strings of fire, though, I dumped the battle belt in favor of what I wear all the time when I’m out and carrying concealed. Earpro was a TCI Liberator II which worked perfectly (the Gel earcups are money), and eyepro was by Smith Optics. Due to a blister forming on my right palm during TD1, I wore a pair of Mechanix Fast-Fit gloves on TD2. I guess my hands are too finely tuned for keyboard and mouse button manipulation.

Personal Equipment notes: The mildly coarse stippling I did on the grip of my gun provided great grip when my hands were sweaty. My palms were getting a little raw by the end of TD1, but I wasn’t letting that gun slip. The Storm Lake barrel provided more accuracy than I could at 25 yards. I’m not sure what a stock M&P9 barrel would have done, but I doubt it would have made me any better or worse. I experienced several failures to return to battery using the Mag-Tech 115gr FMJ rounds purchased through Magpul. During initial pistol break-in, I had similar experiences, but nothing in the last 500-700 rounds, until this class. After seeing similar issues with other guns, including Steve’s 9mm 1911, I feel it is probably ammo related. However, I will be keeping a close eye on this, even though I typically use 147gr rounds. The only other malfunction I had was a stuck case in the chamber during malfunction clearing drills with empty cases loaded into magazines. I was unable to clear this on the line, but was able to easily knock it out with a brass rod off the firing line. If this occurs again, I’ll be looking to upgrade my extractor, however, with only approximately 2000 rounds through the gun, I tend to think it’s not the extractor.

Others’ Equipment consisted mostly of striker fired guns such as Glocks and M&P’s, with a couple XDs as well. A couple 1911′s were present, as was an HK P30 and a USP45. Several people were running their department Sigs, and reps from Beretta were running their products. Most students were running low profile gear, though a couple ran battle belts for the duration of the class. There were very few gear issues on hand, however one shooter’s Glock19 Gen4 had a takedown lever spring break during a malfunction clearance drill, and the slide pretty much came off in his hands. Much laughter ensued regarding Glock Perfection, but the bottom line is that everything can break when you use it. If this happens in a fight, decisions need to be made. Do you have a secondary weapon to transition to? Do you go hands on? Do you pull a Snagglepuss and exit stage left? This particular student ended up throwing his frame at the target stand…not exactly the most professional or combat effective decision, but it definitely showed his frustration.
busted frame latch
Notes: Day one started with a morning safety brief and introduction by Steve Fisher, the students, and range staff of Tango Down Range. The range was in very good shape with a grass-ish grounds. There was a gravel strip at the 25 yard line where the initial shots were made. Scoring was done on an 8″ circle at center mass, as well as a small cranial region defined by the target’s upper lip to just above the eyebrows, and between the outside corner of the eyes.
cranial vaut
Center mass shooting at 25 yards was unimpressive for many shooters. Handguns are harder to shoot than carbines, and less fun. It shows when people don’t practice their handgun skills, especially at distance. Engagements at closer ranges at times weren’t any better. With proximity comes a false sense of accuracy, and combine that with rushing the presentation, sight alignment and trigger press, and bad misses occur. To highlight bad trigger presses and anticipation, magazines either with or without rounds were loaded into the blaster, and handed to the shooter by the shooter next to them. I started off great. My “coach” didn’t even know I pulled the trigger I was so smooth. Then we got about halfway through, and I started anticipating, and didn’t get much better from there. I was shocked to see how much I kept screwing up a simple trigger press, and found that while I wasn’t tensing my hand or flinching so much, that my entire right forearm would tense as the trigger broke. While I didn’t end up eliminating the problems entirely, I’m fully aware of them, and the fact that it’s something that dry fire just can’t help with.

One of the coolest drills was malfunction torture, or as Yeti called it, “Forearm Crossfit.” Several empty cases were loaded into each magazine and shooters stepped up to the line. Prior to the drill, Steve gave us two really simple movements that clear just about any malfunction. They work best for polymer guns, and consist of smacking the bottom of the mag hard (while Steve was demonstrating this, he’d routinely clear stovepipes, double feeds), then ripping the slide back as hard as possible. Failing that, removing and re-inserting the magazine, then ripping the slide was the prescribed course of action. At the start of the drill, shooters would engage the target at 7-10 yards firing at center mass until all their magazine were empty and on the deck. Personally, I brought up four 17 round mags, so I had lot of clearing to do. This really highlighted the importance of compartmentalizing tasks. When clearing a malfunction, focus on that. Then focus on engaging the target (in the real world, cover would be utilized if available, concealment if it wasn’t). Then focus on reloading. Then focus on the malfunction, etc. After about a mag of doing this, I realized that smacking the magazine wasn’t doing anything for me. Maybe it was my little girl hands, or maybe I’m not the manly man that I used to be. Whatever. I switched to releasing then re-inserting the mag and working the slide each time. Viola! After the drill, I asked Steve about this, and he mentioned that the M&P’s internal geometry basically meant the mag slap wouldn’t work, but wanted to see who figured it out as we went.
fixin
The 25 yard line was routinely re-visited. 10 rounds, as slow as we wanted to go. I figured I was taking my time, but I was usually one of the first done. I’m certainly not bragging about this, as I never once got all 10 rounds in the 8″ circle, and only good hits count. More practice at 25 yards is needed. Close up training on small targets is great, but it doesn’t directly translate to 25 yard shots.

Decision making and attention to surroundings is the most critical part. The decision to shoot or not shoot comes before all this training becomes applicable. At one point, Steve called to the firing line words to the effect of, “Get ready….ready…ready…”-this is where I had a good idea of what was coming-”…GOSH DARNIT WHAT A GREAT DAY IT IS!!” At least 3 people drew and fired. There can be excitement and confusion and anticipation in the environment, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that guns need to be drawn.

The end of the day had us working on the timer conducting various drills including multiple targets, reloads, El Prez, and others, plus competing against one or two other shooters heads up. This helped to add another form of stress to our shooting. It showed for many of us. One of the best for this drill was a guy attending his first ever real shooting course. He was dialed in, took his time without taking too much time, and drilled his shots.

Takeaways: The handgun is the weapon most likely to be accessible to me if I should ever come to need it. Even though I’m military, my job pretty much means that if I ever go downrange again, I’ll be spending my time in a plywood box clicking mouse buttons all day, just like I did in OEF, not shooting bad guys with an M4. Training time needs to be prioritized based on realistic possibilities, and that means that I need to concentrate on my pistol work. I found many fundamental problems that need to be addressed:
1: Front sight focus. Not soft focus. Focus.
2: Concentrate on the front sight, not the trigger pull. Shit like that makes me anticipate and push the shot down and left.
3: Don’t lock my elbows.
4: Don’t rush my presentation. Be smooth, be fast, but don’t throw the gun out until my elbows lock.
5: Compartmentalize. Focus on the task at hand.
6: Don’t overthink. When I get my brain focused on problem solving or front sight, everything seems to take care of itself.
7: Don’t peek up over the sights to see where the last shot landed. Get back on that front sight and continue firing until the target drops, stops, or whatever. Scanning after each shot just gets all the bad parts of the brain into the game. Bad things happen then.
8: Shoot at 25 yards much much much much much much much much more often. No one likes doing it. It’s not fun, and doesn’t put pretty little holes in tight little groups…yet. Too bad. From one end of my cul-de-sac to the other is well over 50 yards. Hallways at wallyworld can be over 100 yards. Hallways at work can be over 200 yards long. 25 yards is nothing.
9: The only smart blonde is a golden retreiver.

Last words: Steve was a great instructor. I’ve taken 2 previous top tier classes, both with EAG, and both with the carbine. All other training was through military or LE academies (that was back in ’05), and had nothing on the 2 days I spent with Steve. Good instructors plus good students equals a good class. There was certainly room to improve between courses of fire on the students side. Some were BSing a bit too much instead of dissecting what was going on. Others were taking notes all the time. Overall, I think everyone was there to learn and did a good job…not super, but good. Myself included. I wish I could have stayed for the Handgun 2 course immediately following HG1, but money and work got in the way. I definitely look forward to more training with Yeti in the future, and the more work I can get in with the blaster, the better. It’s what I’m always going to have when things go sideways.

By Pat Tarrant