Posts Tagged ‘safety’


I think a lot of people who carry a concealed weapon are under the false pre-tense that if they actually have to draw their handgun, it will be a certain shooting situation. Firearms are used for personal defense hundreds of times a day in the US alone and out of those situations less than 1% actually end in an exchange of gun fire or fatality. Chances are highly likely that the introduction of a handgun into a tense situation can bring a resolution. It does not always, and that is why we train to shoot and practice weapon retention and martial arts.

In the cases when your bad guy realizes he is out matched and that today is not a good day to die, you will need to give verbal commands that are simple, clear and will not come back to haunt you in a courtroom if you say them. Using verbal commands may still result in you pulling the trigger, but challenging your suspect at least creates witnesses out of those around you, and you gave the bad guy a chance to surrender.

Not every situation will provide you with enough time to give a verbal warning, so, as you read this run through the various scenarios and apply the warning as you see fit based on your training and experience. Also in a worst case scenario when shots are fired, you should also train yourself to give verbal warning and instructions to the downed bad guy.

I train my students to use a short phrase that is easy to remember, general and minimizes liability. I want to keep it simple so under stress so we are focused on the problem in front of us, and not trying to string words together. The verbal challenge should begin with a sharp attention getting statement, like, “Stop!” If you are in law enforcement this would be replaced with the words, “Police,” or “Sheriff’s Office.” As a civilian, I do not advise you identifying yourself as a member of law enforcement.

Once you have a sharp and loud attention statement, follow up with a command, “Drop the weapon!” Notice I use the word weapon instead of gun or knife. Weapon is generic, simple to say and remember. It covers a large variety of objects that could be used as a weapon. A crossbow or screwdriver are equally as deadly as a firearm but under stress, you dont want to divide your focus by trying to identify the object and search your higher brain for the matching word. You want to get your point across quickly and the word weapon sums up everything in a concise manner.

Finally I include what I call the plea, or my witness statement. “Don’t make me shoot you!” While it may sound odd to plead with your suspect, what you are actually doing is creating witnesses of the people around you. If you shoot someone, there will be a police investigation and possibly a trial. When that occurs, I want the people around me, the nearby neighbors, etc. to tell the investigators that it sounded like I really didn’t want to shoot. While your state of mind is irrelevant under the 4th Amendment test of Reasonableness, (Graham v Connor) we want to create a situation that works towards our advantage.

If a shooting does occur, the words, “Don’t make me,” give the strong impression that you as a shooter had no other choice and the bad guy forced you to pull the trigger due to his overt actions. The suspect could have surrendered and you gave him an opportunity to do so during your verbal challenge, but he declined to comply, forcing you to fire.

When we are talking about home defense I recommend a verbal warning as you defend your home, especially at night. While you should have a good flashlight or weapon mounted light (I recommend both) issuing a verbal challenge to someone in your home gives a family member the opportunity to respond or identify themselves and avoid a tragedy. Imagine this situation,” Stop! Drop the weapon! Don’t make me shoot you!” and hearing the words, “Dad, it’s me! Don’t shoot.” Anytime there is uncertainty a verbal warning might be in order.

Not every situation will give you time to provide an audible warning, and a challenge should only be used when the opportunity arises. Just like giving the recommended warning above, the mere fact you did so also bodes well under court scrutiny. By issuing a verbal challenge, you tried to minimize the risk to the suspect. Anything that helps you on scene and during your court defense is certainly worth considering.

Even if you begin to give the warning and have to shoot, complete your statements and repeat them. For example, “Stop, drop the weapon -BANG, BANG- Don’t make me -BANG- shoot you.” Then repeat the statement even if the suspect goes down. In most circumstances pistol calibers do not kill outright unless you target the electrical system of the body (brain or spine) and your bad guy could still be alive on the ground after being shot. Continue repeating the warning to also let everyone know that even on the ground he can still be a threat, and if you have to make follow up shots, you are again justifying your actions on scene and later in court. Just because a suspect is down, does not mean the threat is over and you can still be hurt or killed by someone who is on the ground and injured.

Whether you borrow my challenge or come up with one of your own, make sure it is clear, simple to say and understand and train it!

Be safe, Godspeed!

Scott S

One Weapon Any Tool

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Basic Pistol Course – Sunday, April 12th


Distraction Devices

When we deploy with our Special Response Team, prior to creating a breach point or a dynamic entry, they deploy (usually several) distraction devices to cover the movements, and to confuse the direction of the intrusion. A distracted opponent makes it easy to gain the initiative by exploiting their divided attention. While a flashbang device is loud, bright and can be disorienting it is not fatal, however, there is another distraction device almost every American deploys every day that is far more dangerous and deadly to you. It divides your attention, distracts you and allows those with evil intentions to get close enough to victimize you: Cell phone

I recently had the privilege of sitting in on a debrief of a SWAT and Negotiator call out conducted by the Las Vegas Metro Police Department. During this particular incident the young woman who was victimized was returning from the grocery store. She lived alone in an upstairs apartment with a narrow staircase that led to a small landing. The front door faced the parking lot where her car was parked. The young woman was talking on her cell phone as she unloaded her bags of groceries. Carrying the bags upstairs while conversing with her sister on the phone she was totally unaware that a sex offender was walking nearby and took notice.

The suspect was completely unrelated to the victim and had a history of assault and sex charges. He, like many criminals saw the lovely young lady and due to his mental disorder and sick propensities he saw an opportunity to gratify himself. He watched as she parked, continued talking and then proceeded to further divide her attention by unloading. By the time the young lady reached the landing, opened the front door and carried in her groceries, he had closed the distance, walked (almost directly behind her) up the same narrow stairs and walked directly into her apartment closing the door behind her, trapping her alone inside.

Now think about your daily routine and how frequently you carry, use and look at your cell phone. I have a few friends who might as well have it surgically implanted in their hand since it is never more than a few inches away and always on. Every time it blinks, rings, or pings they can instantaneously draw it form their pocket, clip or case and be reading the latest Facebook update faster than you could ever draw your concealed weapon. Just imagine how good you would be if you could get your gun out as fast as you could get your phone out.

When you are walking down the street or sitting on a subway are you looking at the people around you and staying aware or have you completely zoned out and tuned out everything around you? When you are jogging or working out and have your headphones in, have you completely shut out one of your 5 senses? Hearing is vital to your survival and neuroscience shows us you will react faster to stimuli you hear versus one you see.

Now ask yourself, what information on that device is so critical to know that you would shut down your Sympathetic Nervous System responses necessary to your survival? Humans are not good at multi-tasking so anything that divides your focus is going to have a negative impact on your awareness.

Why would you tune out the mannerisms, movements and threat indicators just to look at a picture of your friend’s latest meal? Is viewing a picture of a cheeseburger worth getting beat up and robbed over? One of our patrol divisions monitors the bus service in the county and I remember seeing a video from one of the forward facing cameras where a bus was making a right turn and a guy walking down the street looking at his cell phone (with headphones in) stepped right off the curb and walked directly in front of the bus. While he survived, it was a perfect example of his distraction device working perfectly… costing him awareness, common sense and a severe injury.

Fortunately for the young lady in the incident above, when the suspect shut the door she started screaming. Her sister on the other end of the phone felt something was wrong, listened to her intuition and contacted the LVMPD, provided the address where the victim lived and ultimately saved her sister’s life. While the young lady survived, the distraction device that allowed the assault to take place still extracted a price. While the SWAT team responded and negotiators made contact and ultimately shot the suspect (who lived) and surrendered, he had several hours barricaded in the apartment, alone with her. She was sexually assaulted and battered and ultimately will be scarred for life physically and emotionally.

While I cannot say that the reason this incident occurred was due to the cell phone distraction, I can say with 100% certainty that it played a major role in her ability to perceive and react to the environment around her and was also a cue the suspect picked up on and an opportunity he took advantage of.

While I’m harping on the cell phone there are many things around us daily that divert our attention away from our personal safety. Be it a tablet, music device, phone or computer, make sure you stay aware of who is moving around you. While I understand the need to stay in contact, respond to emails and post pictures of your food, make sure that every other sentence you glance around.

Stay aware, stay safe and don’t get distracted. Your safety depends on it.

Scott S

One Weapon, Any Tool

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Couple shooting

As times become unpredictable and criminals are emboldened by weak laws and corrupt politicians, concealed carry of a firearm is rapidly rising across the nation. The fact that Americans are starting to take active self-protection measures is encouraging. You and the ones you love are never safer then when they are at the side of an armed and trained family member. One of the newer trends emerging in self-protection arenas is women carrying firearms, and as a result that means that couples are now armed and can act as a team when confronted with threats. Let’s talk for a minute about armed couples and some of the unique aspects.

The biggest advantage is teamwork. With an armed couple you can now maintain overall vigilance longer, share the carry of equipment, shoot, move and communicate and work together to protect each other and children or other loved ones during a violent encounter.

Having a second set of eyes and your arm around some one means you will be allowed to take a moment’s break from trying to stay on point at all times. No matter how good you are or well trained, you cannot stay in condition yellow for long periods of time without being distracted and lapsing in concentration. Having a partner means you can switch off and each of you can have an opportunity to shop, enjoy the sights and still know someone has an eye on your six. Having a second set of eyes also means you can overlap the areas you scan to prevent a potential threat being overlooked.

A man and a women often see the same object but will pay attention to different details. One example is a suspect description versus the vehicle he fled the scene in. If you want a good description of the clothing ask the female half. Women are keen on the fashion side and can usually give you a better physical description. If the suspect is fleeing in a car however, ask the male half as he is usually more familiar with the make, model and description of a vehicle as well as the direction of flight. No offense ladies, but most of you do not keep tabs on cardinal directions as well as most male counterparts.

Now we can start talking equipment. Equipment is a huge part of everyday concealed carry and it is very personal and specific to each individual. Chances are that a man and a women are not going to choose the same type of holster, belt, firearm, or even carry position. With the advent of firearms manufacturers courting women we have seen an unprecedented surge in off body purses, bra holsters, corset holsters, thigh holsters etc. Despite being tough and armed, the fairer sex will always want to maintain her feminine appeal. A woman is not going to switch her entire wardrobe over to tactical pants and baggy shirts to hide her 1911.

While men are less fashion conscious and have no qualms about a single preferred carry method like outside the waistband, inside the waistband or appendix carry, women are diverse and will choose the carry method based on the season, outfit and personal style.

What this means is when it comes to accessing your firearm, as a woman, you will have to develop several different draw stroke proficiencies. What this also means, is that the man in your life will have to know where you are carrying your gun and be equally familiar with how to access your weapon if necessary. You might want to spend some time as a couple using unloaded firearms and practicing drawing from a corset, bra or a purse. Lingerie and firearms might lead to more loved ones to watch out for as well. Who said training can’t be fun? J

In addition to the weapon, what other personal security tools do you carry that your partner can share the use of? Flashlights, multi-tools and folding knives are usually the responsibility of the male half, or if carried by a woman they are not typically in easy to access locations. No one wants to dig through a purse in an emergency trying to find a flashlight or pocketknife so if your better half is part of your self-defense plan, discuss the carry location of equipment items.

One final suggestion you should consider under the equipment category, is standardizing the caliber and type of firearm you carry. I bring this up because some police agencies in America make their officers carry the same or similar firearms of the same caliber so ammunition can be passed between officers during a critical incident. For example, various models of Glock, XD and Sig Sauer pistols come in different frame sizes from a full size, compact and sub-compact that use interchangeable magazines. This is worth considering in case one of the handguns stops functioning, you can keep the other one running with the additional ammo source. This also allows you diversify how many spare magazines need to be carried by each half of the self-defense team.

If the threat is so great that you have to bring out your firearm, having a partner in a gun fight is a priceless resource. No matter how skilled the bad guy may be, he will have trouble taking on two armed citizens both keen on stopping him. Any enemy that has to fight in multiple directions at one time is going to make decisions slower and lose the initiative. If you and your spouse can get inside the OODA loop of the bad guy, you are going to win the fight.

The other major advantage is that bad guys these days are cowards and need the support of their friends when they set out to perpetrate crimes. A solo sheepdog confronting a group of two or three threats is at a disadvantage, but a husband and wife with a plan and training can easily outflank, outsmart and out communicate a group of bad guys.

The key to being successful is always founded in good communication. As a couple I suggest you work out a short series of phrases or key words you can use to communicate the following: A particularly dangerous or suspicious person, an area that is suspect, when it is time to exit an area that is becoming uncomfortable or dangerous and a go word that it is time to draw your firearm. I suggest keeping these fairly mundane or something you might hear in an actual conversation to avoid drawing unwanted attention or the attention of the bad guy.

For example, if you see a suspicious person starting to approach you, don’t point to him and say, “Tango, left flank,” and begin describing the suspect’s clothing. Think of something more casual like, Honey, let’s check out the store on the left.” That will identify to your spouse or girlfriend you spot something out of place or a person with evil intentions on your left and you are alerting them.

If you are in a bad area where you feel uncomfortable you could say, “Honey, I left something in the car, we need to go get it.” This is a simple signal that only you two understand but that does not sound unusual and those who may overhear it will interpret differently.

One of the signal phrases my wife and I use when we are out and a large crowd gathers or we start to notice a situation turning badly and it’s time to get out, I tell my wife, “Honey, time for a smoke break.” Since I do not smoke the phrase sticks out to her, but to others who do not know me it sounds benign. When my wife hears that she knows it’s time to drop what we are doing, grab the kids and get out of the area.

If you do get stuck and have to resort to violence to save yourself, have a signal for that as well. For example, you can say, “Looks like I’ve been painted into a corner.” If your significant other hears that common phrase, he or she knows its time to draw a weapon and get ready to fight or flight. If it is a fight signal you should have a pre-planned out triangulation attack, a plan for a bounding extraction, or a flee signal which means one of you grabs the kids and goes with the other half covering your rear with the firearm. As you make your plan also consider non-verbal cues as well.

Whatever you decide, it needs to be worked out well in advance. You can’t expect these signals and plans to work without a bit of rehearsal and discussion so spend some quality time with your spouse or girlfriend and work out your offense and defense plan.

Remember, you are only as strong as the weakest link of your team so train hard, train together and stay safe.

Scott S – Founder, One Weapon Any Tool



I am deeply saddened to announce that Bob Mayne will not be coming to California in 2014. He is battling cancer and it has taken an unexpected turn. Due to his health, he will not be here on October 18th as previously announced.

We will however have a training course that day. I am running Offensive Pistol, our very own intermediate firearms skill building course. You can register online at the One Weapon Any Tool website and I am offering it at a discounted rate of $150.

We will try to host Bob again next year. In the meantime, he would covet your prayers.




Two words-

This week I’m going to speak on current events and use what is actually happening to emphasize the importance of what I’ve been preaching about since I started writing articles. Now, more than ever the importance of owning a firearm and being trained in how to use it can be summed up in two words: Ferguson Missouri.  

An American city has spiraled out of control in a matter of hours and as I write this, it is literally burning, citizens are scared, business owners are defending their livelihood, shots are being fired and gun sales have skyrocketed! While I welcome into the fold a host of new gun owners, they are under the false assumption that having it will provide protection.

Having a firearm is a great first step, but mere ownership is not enough. You have to know how to use it, and be willing to use violence to stop violence. A firearm is not a magic wand that you can wave around and scare away a predator with. It is a tool with a specific purpose and its intent is that of the one handling it. You have to be skilled at using that tool and ready to use it for protection. Is your level of training sufficient to wield, retain and fight with your firearm? Have you considered what areas of your home provide cover and how much defensible space is around your residence or business?

If you watch the news clips you can tell which businesses are unmolested and those businesses have armed citizens guarding them. Just like the Korean market during the L.A. Riots, citizens have taken positions and displayed arms as a deterrent. Make no mistake, I firmly believe that those citizens plan to do more than display their rifles should someone try to threaten them, or their livelihood. While I do not endorse the killing of a human over an item of property, there is a limit to how much destruction is permissible. You have the right to protect your home and your business. Check your local laws to see if castle doctrine applies in your area.

If there is another (obvious) lesson you can learn from this tragedy is that the police are not coming to help you. You are on your own, and the police will get to you when they have time. By then, they’ll take a few photos and document the incident and go back to the greater problem at hand. The Thin Blue Line is very thin… there are not enough cops out there to stop masses of evil doers hell bent on hurting you and taking your stuff. After a while, even the police will not be able to protect buildings or property and if the situation gets really out of control, the National Guard will have a hard time containing it. The bottom line is you are on your own!

This brings me to a second part of the tragedy we need to address, preparedness. Every family in America should have at least (minimum) of a month’s supply of food on hand. Canned food, dry goods, meals ready to eat and some long term food stuffs should be kept in your pantry. In a major crisis like the one in Ferguson may prevent you from getting to the grocery store when you run out of your normal stock of food. If you do get to a store safely, chances are it will be looted and they will not accept any form of payment except cash. I should also add to this recommendation a good supply of clean water. Each person will need a minimum or a gallon a day to survive. That does not include bathing, only drinking, and cooking.

While I sit transfixed watching evil reign and looting go unchecked I am gleaning dozens of lessons from what I see and hope to apply those to my training and the courses I teach. I hope this type of incident never comes to my city or yours, but wouldn’t it be a comfort having the skills, tools and equipment to survive such an event.

I’ll close by saying this about the shooting event. While concrete evidence is still being gathered, the basics are: A larger, more aggressive male subject attacked a police officer causing a significant orbital injury and at one point attempted to take the officer’s firearm. As a result the male suspect was shot as the officer defended his life. Every sign and initial indication shows that the officer acted within policy and case law. This was a justifiable homicide.

 Scott S

One Weapon Any Tool –


Anyone that has ever been to a range or handled a firearm has (hopefully) been introduced to the basic firearms safety rules. While there is some debate about the number of firearms safety rules, the basics I teach and live by are:

  1. Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction
  2. Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to fire
  3. Be aware of your target and what is behind it

Most folks usually include: Always assume and treat every firearm as if it is loaded. Some combination of those rules are what you will find and are the best practices when handling dangerous tools. I know there are a lot more rules out there and some ranges I’ve seen have upwards of 20 rules, my favorite of which: Do not put ammunition in your mouth. There is only one reason why they had to post that rule.

Whatever basic rules you apply when handling, shooting and working with firearms, these rules do not get left at the range. When you pack up after a day of shooting and go home, you need to continue to apply these safety principles everywhere! When transporting, cleaning and arranging guns in the safe, remember to practice safety. The tool does not become less dangerous or require less focus or application of safety just because you are away from the range.

The worst offenders are concealed carry and off duty law enforcement. After a long day carrying a gun, you can’t wait to get home and deck it for the evening in your safe, or other safe storage location. Let me pause and add in another gun safety rule: Never leave your firearm where an unauthorized person or child can access it!

When taking the gun out of the holster, or taking the holster off I can’t tell you how many times I see people get swept by the muzzle. In a hurry to relax I’ve seen cops draw their gun and sweep their own foot or arm setting the gun down, and even set it down with the muzzle facing a loved one!

When things become routine it tends to breed complacency and when handling a tool that is potentially lethal if mishandled… we need to make an active decision to fight commonplace practices and make sure we are following proper gun handling safety rules. You wouldn’t take your running chain saw and set it near a loved one or swing it towards them haphazardly, so why would you do it with your gun?

For my friends and readers out there take a minute and think when you are about to handle your firearm. You have to engage your brain first before you handle your tools!


Be safe this week!

Scott S – Founder

One Weapon, Any Tool 

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When… Then

Posted: January 12, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Danger sign

When, then…

In light of recent news events, the massive outbreak of active murder’s (let’s not sugar coat anything by calling them active shooters… they are murderers) going on killing sprees, and the major increase in desperate people (Thanks to the incompetence of our elected officials) we are faced with potential threats every single day.  If you walk through life thinking that no one will ever harm you, and that mankind harbors love for mankind in his heart, you have been deceived and it is time to WAKE UP!

When out in public, you should continually operate in an alert state.  Some call this Condition Orange or Hyper-Vigilance.  Whatever term you choose to apply to your heightened state of awareness, I want to cover a few basic concepts to keep you safe, and alive.

In the old days… like the 1980’s, people never heard the words, “Active Shooter,” and “Jihad.”  Terrorism, home invasion, flash mob, gang violence and a host of violent crimes were few and far between.  Nowadays, they are a regular occurrence and anytime you venture into a public venue where crowds gather, you are at risk of being a victim…unless you prepare your mind for where your body is going to go.

When serving as a patrol officer, I used to have a “What if,” mindset.  This means I would look at different situations or scenarios and think, “What if (insert scenario) happened, what would I do?”  As I got streetwise I quickly learned we do not live in a “What if,” world.  We live in a “When Then,” world.  What’s the difference?  Allow me to explain.

What if, implies that someday, something might happen and I should think about what I might do if I ever encounter that scenario.  There is a lot of, “if” in that mindset. 

When, Then mindset takes the fantasy out of the scenario and implies that someday, bad things are going to happen to me, and When they do… Then I will respond accordingly.  When badness comes my way, when evil darkens my doorstep, I will not be surprised by it.  I will not be caught off guard wondering how this could possibly be happening.  I will be ready and will react based on the plan I have developed to confront this particular set of circumstances.  My plan (though not perfect) will allow me to take action instead of losing the initiative due to reaction. 

Let’s apply this to our day to day existence.  When a robbery happens, Then I will:

  • Move to a position of cover or concealment. 
  • Then I will escape if possible. 
  • Then I will draw my weapon
  • Then I will confront the threat and save my life or the life of another
  • Then I will tactically retreat and summon authorities while being a good witness, providing accurate and real time updates to first responders. 

When an active murderer enters my office, then I will help others evacuate, hide or fight!

Always try to be the one taking action, rather than the one who is reacting.  In most cases, even law enforcement officers are reactive, but due to training, skill and the proper mindset, they gain the initiative and take actions. 

The best example I can tie into the When, Then and action / reaction mindset is USAF Colonel John Boyd’s OODA loop.  OODA is an acronym for Observe, Orient, Decide & Act.  While this has been interpreted numerous ways and far more eloquently then I am capable, the principles are the same. 

When you enter an area, observe who is present.  Classify them as non-threat, imminent threat, or immediate threat.  Observe the escape routes, areas that will provide concealment, areas that are hard cover, and what objects in the immediate can be weapons of opportunity. 

Orient yourself to the immediate threats first, and start formulating a plan of action.  If you have imagined or role-played out scenarios in advance, then this phase should happen quickly.  If escape is a viable option, then orient yourself towards the exits.  If you have no option other than to fight, the orient your weapon into the fight. 

Decide what course of action you are going to take.  Decide to move to cover, decide to fight or fire, decide to escape.  This is the “Then” part of the mindset.  This is where we decide what is prudent based on our preparation and then we…

Act!  When it is time to act, do so quickly, without reservation and if violence is part of your action, use the maximum amount of force that is reasonable in the shortest amount of time.  The maximum application of violence will shorten the length of the encounter, will take the bad guy out of the fight before he can maximize or inflict damage to more innocents, and it will reduce your risk of injury as well.

If act by taking cover, then your OODA starts over and you will observe the threat from your new vantage point, orient yourself and decide on the next move and then act… it’s a continual loop until you reach safety or your threat is neutralized. 

If you act by tactically retreating or fleeing an area, then once you are safe, you are obligated to report what you observed and direct responders to the threat.  While doing this, keep observing your surroundings, orienting yourself, deciding if it is prudent to stay, flee, etc and continue your OODA loop.

When thinking about the negatives in the world around you, avoid becoming paranoid.  The only people who should fear the wolf, are those who are not prepared to meet him.  If you have worked your way through several “When, Then,” scenarios, you have already taken the first steps towards personal safety. 

When you see the robbery, when you see the active murderer, when you see the nefarious looking members of society, fear not for you will Then…


As always, be safe, Godspeed and remember:  Your mind is the weapon, everything else is just a tool!

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