The Parable of the Wooden Gun

The Parable of the Wooden Gun

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At seminars, police or others, I have seen a lot of “force-on-force” work-outs. This nickname became popular in the later 1990s. The majority of these have been with rubber guns. When it comes time to draw these rubber guns under stress, or when just fighting over them, and when one person gets free of the other enough to successfully pull, point and theoretically shot the pistol at the partner/bad-guy, these folks just freeze and look at each other. Once in a while someone yells “bang!” But they freeze. They act like the scenario is over, like the trigger pulling part and the wounding or killing part is automatically over.

It’s not over. I mean, if the other guy is shot and wounded, or even if he receives a mortal shot, he can still shoot back, stab, fight back a bit, or fall upon the good guy with a weapon in is hand. The fight is not over with the mere pointing of a rubber gun. The freeze is totally unreal. The scenario IS NOT OVER! I have often said to folks:     

“You like those rubber guns, huh?”     

“Yes.”     

“Hey, what would you think about wooden guns?”     

“Wooden guns?”     

“Yeah, using wooden guns shaped like your guns, or shaped like your rubber guns?”     

“I guess that would be okay.”     

“Now, what if I told you…what if I told you these wooden guns could shoot something? A safe something? Wouldn’t that be cool? You could do all the stuff you are already doing, and – you could actually pull the trigger shoot something and see if you could successfully, actually shoot the gun, hit your enemy while fighting, standing or on the ground. And multiple shots like a semi-auto. You wouldn’t have to stop when you pointed the gun. You could actually exercise pulling the trigger and aiming under stress, explore the next events. Anytime. Anyplace.”     

“I guess that would be smart. But we do that with Simunitions.”     

“How often?”     

“Oh, about once every two years.”     

“Two years?”     

“Sometimes more years than that. Some people never do it. ”     

“I know. Because you need special gear and a special place that won’t be destroyed by the Sims. Lots of set up and gear. Sometimes the setup and expense just pushes the workouts off and off. What if I told you could use these wooden guns – which cost about 15 bucks each – anytime, anyplace, aiming, shooting with no safety gear, easy experimentation with moves and problems. You can get a lot done, safe, and cheap.

“I guess that would be okay.”

“I am talking about using wooden rubber band guns. I am not talking about giving up routine live fire. I am not talking about never using electric, gas or Sims again. I am not saying throw away your rubber gun. It too has uses. I am just talking about wood over rubber. I am talking about the easy, safe study of moves & shooting. I am talking about more access to important experimentation. You are already using rubber. Why not wood? Why not wood that shoots something? Did I mention the wooden gun cost about $15?”

In the 1990s I was laughed at in training circles and ridiculed for using “toys.” In my defense I never used toy-toys. I used wooden, rubber band guns that fired multi-shots. There was little available and affordable to simulate any shooting back then. By about 2000 or so cops worldwide were seeing my drills and buying a lot of these wooden guns from me for their training. Of course, citizens too. Easy. Safe. Quick. Great for lots of short, realistic vignette experimentation, anywhere. Anytime. (I even had life sized M-16s that shot very well about 30 feet.) Remember, if you do use gas guns? They can break eyes, skin, windows, mirrors, chip paint and blow out lights, ding cars, etc.

There is no doubt I settle for wood because we can’t be anywhere better, and use anything better when and where we are. That, sadly, is most of the time. Sadly, many places I go, with groups of 18 or more people up to 100, not everyone shows up with these expensive guns, ammo and safety gear. Even the gas or battery-powered guns. (And the cheap, battery-powered break very easy.) I ask them to bring this equipment but they often can’t, won’t or don’t. Every week in fact. I am left with these wooden ones.

In my External Focus Gun seminars, or regular mixed seminars of hand, stick, knife and gun, you will probably be shot 30 to 60 or so times day as you work out with a good-guy or bad-guy partner in different situations. And very close up in standing, seated and ground situations. Battery powered guns will not damage the facilities (and will not hurt cars) and you still need some thick clothes and face protection. But I still can’t frequently outfit all, half, or even a quarter of attendees with these guns. Out come the wooden guns.

I want to create a training environment where everyone is working out, not just two people while 18 other people are standing around watching, waiting their turn, for a short supply of weapons and safety gear to rotate over to them. Everyone should be working out, not watching two people work out.

Don’t let your custom fit holster stop you from doing this training. I hear this complaint or excuse. Just get a real cheap “ol bucket,” universal holster for this type of training. The emphasis is on bigger interactive goals about movements and fighting, and many skills more important than exactly how your replica pistol fits perfectly snug your custom fit holster. Rubber training guns don’t always fit into your custom holster, either. Yet people have persevered for decades with rubber gun training stuck in bad-fitting holsters.

In a perfect world, we would live in a wonderland of Simunitions mixed with live fire, in and around buildings, cars, etc., supporting each situation in crafted unison. Show me where that is? And I mean, daily, weekly or cheaply and reachable for all citizens, police and military to access? Can everyone afford to fly there? In the end, we are left with what we are left with, and most of the time, that ain’t much.

Where ever we are. Lets move the ball downfield every chance we get. Pain is not the only reason to have safer, ammo shooting gun. Not by a long shot, ducking pain is part of the training.  I would like to use the best gear in the best locations were we can ignore the destruction of buildings and vehicles. But that dream is both impractical and expensive for most of the places I travel to teach. I do the best I can, with what I can at the moment to move the learning ball down the field.

If left down to it? A wooden pistol that shoots something and safely is better than a rubber gun that doesn’t. 

Hock’s email: HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com

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Who Gets to Define Gun Basics? Why?

I wonder sometimes- who gets to decide and define what are “the gun basics?” Gun Basics. Gun 101. The fundamentals? The essentials? Who draws the line before the next “advanced” step? Is it a group of men from 1930s? 1960? 2005 or so? A collective? Who? There is indeed a collective of info that may or may not have changed? When experts tell you to work “the basics,” what have we allowed to have that mean for us? Does it mean that you will forever and ever, thousands of times, do the same range shooting course over and over and over and over? And over? They might move you closer to, or away from the paper targets, hit you in the leg with whiffle ball bats, while you are aiming at the bulls eye…etc. but you are still shooting at paper targets. And no can can argue that shooting a paper drawing is different than shooting at a moving, thinking person shooting back at you – different on so many physical and psychological levels.

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     I guess you would have to identify the goal of the course. Target shooting, bulls-eye basics? Self-defense shooting basics? Once the mission is established, the basics are established. What if the “basics” were just a little bit bigger than the old acceptable standards, yet still quite simple and quite…basic? And by the way, I am not looking for people to compile the old standards in lists here. My goal actually will be shooting for some new standards.

     Self defense, gun experts talk about street crime and some say there is little “street crime” (in a semantic sense) and they claim there’s really mostly only “parking lot crime.”  But we know that there is also college dorm crime, hallway crime, elevator crime, home invasion…all kinds of crime. But let’s talk about parking lot crime for example because there is a lot. It is a place where many strangers pass each other. What would be the basics of gun fighting on parking lots. The basics would include gun drawing, gun handling, hitting the target. Reloading. Moving around a tad when shooting the target. Lots of live fire. Stuff like that. The usual….basic stuff.

     But…what if I did all that and were to add a few more basics to this day? More simple basics. What if we all took up simulated ammo guns and had some shoot-outs right on a parking. In, out and around cars? (Some of this ammo does not hurt cars). As they say in baseball, you are going to have a hard time hitting a curve ball is you don’t see them in practice. The same holds true in parking lot shoot-outs. A whole lot can go on. Even if you pull a car or two onto the range once in a rare while and you are still shoot paper targets, it is not the same as having a moving, thinking person shooting back at you trying to kill you.

    Kahuna 8 

You can punch and kick a heavy bag forever, but it will never be the same as kickboxing versus a moving, thinking fighter blasting away at you. You could spend the rest of your life hitting a heavy bag, but it will only partially, minimally prepare you for kickboxing. The same thing is true for shooting. You can shoot at paper targets for your whole life, but you are not maximizing your experience for that parking lot shoot out (or wherever). It takes the experiences of interactive shooting for you to see the curve balls.

     Many mainstream gun instructors shirk the idea of doing this regularly, or at all. You hear the term “role-playing” or “well-scripted, force-on-force scenarios.” It often sounds like a discouraging, time-consuming Academy Award, epic movie the way some make it sound. I have even seen a training video clip one time from a somewhat known gun instructor, in front of a blackboard, mapping out the dense, deep, psychological methods and the vital importance of role-playing as though it were a complicated, land invasion of Mars or something. Oh my, the ENORMOUS responsibility to portray the dialogue, etc. just precisely right! All this set-up drama acts as a deterrent to doing it! It is not the Oscars. It’s a gun fight. Much of it, is just people moving around stuff and shooting at you, you shooting at them.

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     For example, you give two people safe, shooting guns and put one on one end of a parking lot and one on the other end. They try to kill each. End of script! How much acting and role-playing is involved? How much “well-scripting?” None. There are a numerous VERY simple, basic interactive exercises to go through for parking lot shooting (and everywhere else) that directly add to the live fire training and require no Oscars or Emmys.

     I always wonder when I see these rifle courses – guys decked out like they have been dropped into Cambodia for two weeks, shooting, shooting and shooting at paper targets. I wonder why, at the end of the day, for just one hour, they don’t have a little sims, ammo war with replicas of their weapons, of some sort to top off the education of the day? No “well-defined scripting.” No role-playing for an Emmy. Just basic combat, applying the same basics of the prior live fire training. The basics. (You know the military practiced invading a replica of the Bin Laden compound with…ahhh…“these…toy guns,” working and experimenting through many possibilities. There’s a great example for a “well-scripted” combat scenario. And go ahead and make fun of those SEALS playing with “toy guns”).

     In a training session or seminar, do these basics “in the ring” so to speak. Work ALL those gun basics. Shoot live fire for 6 hours…whatever. Then for the sheer experience, finish off every day with shooting at moving, thinking people who are shooting back at you, in applications of the prior live fire methods. To me this is all “Gun Basics 101” in one package in one module. I understand that there are gun instructors who will not push for this idea, saying that even a little “sims” interaction is only for way, way-advanced live fire veterans. I just don’t think so. Not at all. I think you can introduce it in from the beginning. The benefits are lengthy. life-saving and eye-opening. And I might add, I have been doing this for 20 years and I still see no down-side.

     I would like to add that many people (too lengthy to list here) are doing a terrific job of teaching live fire basics. My hat is truly off to you, your dedication, your patience and for some, your sheer patriotism. But, who gets to decide for you the definition of “gun basics?”

    For me, I think its live-fire-basics mixed with some simple, interactive/simulated ammo basics…together.

 

Hock’s Email: HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com

Hock’s Web: Right here at www.ForceNecessary.com

 

Well Defined Combat Scenarios vs. Well Structured Ones

The other day, I mentioned here the subject and term “Well-Defined Combat Scenarios” in shooting training in the context of using simulated ammo in interactive training. (Actually the subject must fit into all hand, stick, knife and gun training.) But I briefly suggested the semantics of terms like “role-playing” and “well-defined…” and how some, not all, some instructors turn these terms into epic acting requirements, when there are tons of little short interactive shooting bits and segments that can be set up and done swiftly and successfully in small “skits.” 

     I sometimes think that “properly-structured” might be a better term than “well-defined” but hell…it’s all semantics. But sometimes I still worry where the semantics lead off too. There is a difference between “well-defined” and “properly structured” to an anal retentive person. Think about it. Well -defined means to me and others a heavily stages, like a movie script –

    "Don't miss you chalk-mark on the floor! Walk to and stand there."

-as opposed to something that is well structured, so that the chaos within might still happen.

    "This is the room where this, this and this will happen, or can happen."  

 

 

     A lot of people are doing active shooter seminars these days. Some of these are on TV news lately and of course on youtube. The idea that any person can step into a seminar and do something about this scary, oddity is comforting and hopeful. I see all kinds of responses/solutions in these – the captured folks charging in and throwing books and furniture at the shooter. All jumping on the shooter, etc. Yeah! Win! Then we have the concealed carry person shooting the bad guy. Great. I see the bad guys often carrying a replica M-16, AR-15 and, or AK-47 and suited up with a helmet and pads when they charge into the seminar room. Good idea.

     But I wonder what would happen if the attacker in these seminars had a sims gun? A sims machine gun, (even gas or airsoft) and stepped into the room, and as happened frequently, and just starts shredding the seminar attendees? I think a lot of realistic devastation would occur.

     This falls along the lines of “well-defined” or at least “properly-structured” combat scenario for me- adding in the shooter, shooting. First there is the shock factor of the event happening before your eyes. Then, attendees need to know and predict of the loud explosion of each round coming from the gun. LOUD! (In a class you could run a tape on a boom box at least?) And of course, the ease and insane randomness of the death and destruction as the gunman blasts away.

     This doesn’t make for a “fun” and hopeful day for citizens looking for hope. In fact, it is a depressing day. Especially when you discover that all the well made plans and emotional chants of the instructors, all their blackboard diagrams still lead to quite a bit of bloody destruction and even failure. Sadly, there are no other practical options/solutions but the rush of the attacker, or someone in the group gets clear shots at the bad guy.

     Just a point, if inhabitants in any room or class were ambushed? Getting this fantastic, sudden military charge at the bad guy would be unlikely. If they are holed up in a room, hearing approaching gunfire, perhaps strangers and semi-strangers could be rallied by a leader. Such leadership, such rallying could be a subject in the seminar.

     I myself would never dream of a doing such an active-shooter training day without introducing the simulated ammo invasion of the room, for that “well-structured” experience.

     And as yet another aside on the subject of "well-structured," I see some of this active-shooter training done at shooting ranges, a totally abstract environment especially when outdoors. A person with a real gun and real ammo, draws, bumps and grinds through real co-attendees that are acting to flee or otherwise, to shoot at a paper target. This kind of thing often scares the hell out me. It takes one mistake, one thoughtless second, a misstep and someone in class is shot, if even in the foot. I also feel the same way when I see people at the range, all downrange and close to the row of targets, and a person kicks, elbows and strikes a martial arts kicking shield, maybe turns and pushes someone else away, then turns again, draws and shoots at a paper target. Wow! Reality training? Most real?

     I watch all this and think how someone, in a blind second makes a misstep and bang. Shoots a person. It is more than mathematically possible. The more you do it? The more all kinds of people do it? The more chance it will happen. It’s just math. (My mind wonders back to the hand grenade, rookie range)

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