Posts Tagged ‘training’



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 –


Too often when thinking about personal protection we focus on the defensive aspect. We talk about being ready to defend yourself and those you love and we have a plan to defend our homes. I think this is a misconception that is going to get someone hurt or killed because when you are on the defense that means one thing… Someone is doing something to you. Being on the defense means you are being attacked, you are covering, hiding, fortifying, or blocking and there is no victory in defense.

I think we need to turn this on its head and start talking as a community about the Offensive Mindset.

Think about it, there is nothing defensive about pulling the trigger and actively trying to kill another human being who is a threat to you. There is nothing defensive about striking, kicking or inflicting damage on someone that is try to do the same to you. You want to be on the offense. You want to be the one moving forward on the balls of your feet, with your head down and ears pinned back.

When it comes time to protect yourself you want to bring the maximum amount of violence to bear as fast as possible and overwhelm your opponent. Reread that last sentence and ask yourself… is that the definition of defense? We need to talk about the offensive mindset and we need to start now!

While we should never discount a defense completely, the defense is what we establish to ensnare our opponent and slow him down to give us the initiative and use our offense to win the fight. When you are attacked initially, you may be surprised or startled and begin the fight in a defensive posture. You have to move from defense to offense as quickly as possible and be the one who dominates! You have to act with intent! When the fight is on and your life is at stake you have to act decisively. There is not time to assess and come up with a plan. This is the moment that the training you have (or don’t have) is going to kick in. There is only one goal, be the one who walks away and take as little damage as possible during the altercation.

Your intention is to use violence and inflict pain, damage or death upon another living breathing human being. You have to do this, or you will become the victim. You have to think about this now while you read this in your living room in front of your computer rather than thinking about it when you are faced with a lethal or dangerous threat.

Violence is nothing more than a tool. Bad guys use it to intimidate, harm, rape or steal. You use violence to fight off the attack, protect yourself and the innocents with you. Using violence is not a bad thing and you need to reconcile yourself that hurting someone, may be what saves your life. You have to establish your own rules of engagement now so when it comes time to fight… You FIGHT!

Fighting is always a last resort and even as a deputy I hate getting into fights… but I will if I have to and it’s going to end badly for you. I will give you every opportunity to submit to arrest or comply, probably more chances than you deserve, and the choice lies with the evil doer which way they want the encounter to go.
When not on duty I will walk away and give you every opportunity to leave me alone and go away. If you want to push your luck, make sure you are ready for what’s coming. I’m ready, are you?

Are you?

Remember, it is not for you to start the fight, but it is for you to win it. Fighting is a last resort but I will book anyone a ticket there if they try to physically harm myself or a loved one. Go forth and train!

Hopefully I’ve shaken up the way you think about personal protection and self-‘offense.’

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes:

This is the law: The purpose of fighting is to win. There is no victory in defense. The sword is more important that the shield, and skill is more important that either. The final weapon is the brain. All else is supplemental.
-John Steinbeck

Be safe – train hard – Get into the Offensive Mindset
Scott S
One Weapon Any Tool


In the majority of my articles I discuss the importance of training, reasons why you need to train regularly, and how to find quality trainers. While taking a course from a local certified instructor is very important, as is practicing what you learn on the range, this week I’m going to give you a couple of tried and true methods for improving your firearms skills on your own through the Stare, Study & Steal methodology.

While this method focuses on your visual side of learning, it will help all types of learners since your brain will capture and store the images and what you see you can practice for the tactile learners and usually when watching there is an explanation which will help my auditory learners as well.

The first step is to select a highly skilled source to stare at. I like to watch professional shooters on TV, Youtube and even some of their instructional DVDs because these guys and gals are at the top of their game and have solid foundations that make them successful shooters. Some of my favorites you can watch and glean knowledge from are Max Michel, Jerry Miculek, Pat Rogers, Travis Haley, Jessie Abbate Keith Garcia and Chris Costa.

When I say stare that is exactly what I mean… Watch them closely with a critical eye so you can pick out small details and movements that make them successful in their craft. Hit the pause button and look at how they grip the gun. Observe the direction their feet are pointed, how they bend their knees and how they walk. Watch in slow motion how they manage the recoil of the gun, and look into their eyes as they fixate on the front site. Watch how they lean and how much of a bend is in their elbows. Stare and take mental photos of what you are seeing.

Study each individual movement and if you have to, make notes in a notebook so when it is time for you to practice later when you do not have a video player. Deep, focused and intense staring and studying is a great way for you to lay the basic mental foundations of good habits.

Like boxers and football players watching films of how other perform and how you perform gives you a valuable insight into strengths and weaknesses. Teams watch hours of footage of how other teams play looking for gaps in their defensive line, looking for weaker players they can exploit and stronger players to cover or avoid.

Boxers and UFC fighters study themselves looking for ways to deliver more effective strikes, how to spot weaknesses in their own defenses.
Once you have watched, analyzed and made notes it is time to steal! Take the stance, grip, lean, run, focus and whatever else you see that can make you a better shooter and make it your own. There is no shame in stealing a technique or style that works for you. Find the critical pieces that you are missing or are not performing and add them to your training. Compare what you are doing to what the professionals are doing and see if their methods or techniques can improve yours.

If you have the opportunity film yourself when you go to the range and then use the same critical eye. Look for how you grip and stand versus the professionals. Find the subtle differences between how you do things and make notes. Then do some dry practice and then some live practice on your next trip to the range and correct those errors you are making and build good strong neural pathways.

There are a plethora of techniques and instructors so make sure you also apply a critical eye to the methods and techniques you choose to practice. Some techniques will work better for you than others due to your hand size, height, weight, etc.

This is one reason I also study female shooters because they typically have small frames and hands yet outshoot most men. Their methods of movement, how they set up their equipment and how they fight with a gun can give you a fresh perspective or technique guys wouldn’t normally consider. To be a great shooter you have to be willing stow your pride. You have to be willing to consider new ideas and be able to change your mind.

During the course of my career in being a shooter, and training shooters I’ve had to discard and pick up a lot of what was taught as “doctrine.” Having an open mind and being willing to stare, study and steal will give you marked improvement in a short amount of time.

Till next time, be safe and train hard!
Scott S

One Weapon Any Tool Firearms Training – Your mind is the weapon, everything else is a tool. You can also find us on Facebook.

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Training is Insulation

I’m constantly fascinated by how delicately intricate, yet powerful the human brain is. When I began my journey of becoming a teacher / trainer I never expected to find myself studying neurology. While becoming a brain surgeon is very low on my priority list, we can learn a lot from that field of research, particularly how to get the most out of our training sessions and how to develop a skill faster. One of the recent resources I have come across was a book called The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle. I’ve taken a few of the concepts he discusses in his book and applied them to firearms training in this article.

Make no illusions, there is no shortcut to success. Even in firearms training, to be successful at a fast draw time, accurate rapid shots, smoother reloads and weapon transitions, you will have to put in the work. You will have to work hard, and repeat these motions thousands of times. You will struggle, you will fail and you will achieve small successes, which are the stepping stones to the next success. As you practice and train do not let your current achievement become a plateau for you.

The good news about the above paragraph is that ANYONE can excel at almost any skill if you are willing to work at it. The more I study people, coaches, and training methods I’m convinced that natural talent does not exist. No one is born with an overwhelming skill set that makes them good at something. We are all unique and we all gravitate towards what interests us. Our interest turns into a desire to study, work, practice and develop a skill. That ongoing hard work and desire to be the best in the field we are immersed in, mixed with guidance will breed overwhelming success that people call, “talent.”

One example I want to point to is a young lady named Jessica Simpson. At 16 years old she hit the world stage with an amazing singing voice the media credited to her years in the church choir. I’ve seen a lot of good choirs, but none of those singers landed a multi-million dollar recording contract. What most people do not know is that Jessica who had a good voice, spent over five years from the age of 11 to 16 working with a voice coach, struggling, training, practicing and disciplining her voice. No one ever heard the flat notes, or the wavering vibrato behind the scenes, we only saw the smashing success and stunning talent that appeared, “out of nowhere,” that made Jessica an overnight success. Those years spent with her voice coach insulated the neural connections in her brain turning the microscopic threads into superhighways.

When you learn a new skill you make a connection between multiple neurons. In my article, “Training to Fight… Neurologically Speaking,” ( we talked about learning how to ride a bike for the first time, how your brain made connections as you practiced and how it relegated tasks that required focus and conscious thought to your sub-conscious so you didn’t have to think anymore, you just hopped on and rode away.

While I touched on the concept before I want to expand on it now. Keep this in mind as we discuss training and talent: Your conscious brain can process about 40 tasks, your subconscious brain can process 11 million. What that means, is that while you are learning, you are using your conscious mind to grasp, struggle and work through a new skill set. Whether it be a good consistent trigger press, or a crisp drive from one target to another, the first few hundred times you try this… you had to think about it and slowly do it. Over time and through repetition, you can now perform this skill without having to put conscious thought into it.

This became a reality for me one night as a young deputy working a patrol beat. I was in a vehicle pursuit with a domestic violence suspect (who was also intoxicated). The pursuit ended when he crashed into a fence trying to get onto the freeway. I do not have any conscious memory of the following sequence of events: I stopped the car, put it in park, opened the door, took off my seat belt, and drew my firearm. All of those things happened automatically, because I had done all of them a thousand times. When I realized I was holding my handgun it stuck out to me, because I realized that my training kicked in when I needed it. The gun seemed to magically appear in my hand and I did not have to devote any conscious attention or split my focus to achieve that. It happened because I have a super highway, or a densely insulated neural connection in my brain that enabled that sequence of actions to occur.

This insulation is called Myelin. Myelin wraps itself around the nerves and aids in the accurate and precise transmission of electrical signals between the interconnected webs of neurons. The more myelin you have around a particular set of neurons, the more precise the movement and the faster it can occur. The way you build myelin is to practice, struggle, and training- pushing yourself to excel when you reach a plateau. You build myelin through hard work.

Before I give you delusions of grandeur about the astronomical capabilities you are capable of, there are two more key elements necessary to breed “talent.” The first is coaching or masterful guidance and the last is dedication through immersion.
Michael Phelps holds 14 gold medals (18 total) throughout the course of his Olympic career in the 2004 & 2008 summer games. While he stands at the top of the world in his sport, he didn’t get there on his own. There was one man who stood behind him as his primary coach and an assistant coach to the US Team, and I doubt most of you have ever heard the name of Bob Bowman. Bowman began his coaching career around 1986. It wasn’t until nearly a decade later that he met a young Michael Phelps at the North Baltimore Aquatic Club.

During his tenure in Baltimore, Bowman helped to produce 3 individual national champions, 10 national finalists and 5 USA National Team members. In recognition of his accomplishments, Bowman was named the USA’s Coach of the Year in 2001 and 2003. He was also named Developmental Coach of the Year in 2002.

It was also during his work at NBAC that Bowman began coaching 18-time Olympic medalist Michael Phelps. Under Bowman’s tutelage, Phelps won five World Championship gold medals and was named the American Swimmer of the Year in 2001 and 2003.
Bowman was named as an assistant coach on the 2004 U.S. Olympic Team, serving as the primary coach for Phelps. At the 2004 Games, Bowman helped coach Phelps to eight medals, including six gold medals and two bronze. Four years later, at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, he coached Phelps to achieve eight Olympic gold medals, which had never been done before in a single Olympics.

Without Bob Bowman, the world never would have heard of Michael Phelps. Without an experienced and dedicated coach, Michael Phelps might not have broken records and earned Olympic gold. Without a lot of hard work, under the watchful eye of an experienced instructor or teacher who pushed, prodded, encouraged, criticized, corrected and maintained the same amount of dedication as the pupil, Michael Phelps would never have made it to the World Championships, let alone the Olympic team.

Hard work and practice only go so far. You need a coach or a teacher to fine tune you towards success. When I started shooting, I thought I was pretty good. I grew up with guns and had spent a fair amount of my own money at shooting ranges throwing lead into paper targets. I found out during my police training that I was actually a terrible shooter with mediocre skills compared to the training staff who had over 150 years of combined experience. Over the next 80+ hours I was corrected, pushed, coached, guided, praised and criticized until I emerged near the top of my class and could consistently shoot in the 90th percentile. That training is ongoing and I’ve logged at least another 100+ hours since then just at work.

Over the last 14 years of continual training at work, on my own, and under the guidance of other top shooters in my area did I really start to achieve what I deemed success at the shooting sports. I could have never gotten to where I am today without top notch instructors helping me. Looking back I realize what I thought was good…was deplorable and I’m grateful for the energy and effort I was blessed to receive. Due to that time, I am now able to step into the role of teacher, counselor and coach for new and developing shooters.

When you seek to develop and become a good shooter it would behoove you to seek a competent trainer and coach. You don’t know what you don’t know and having an experienced eye to watch you, correct and encourage you will help you develop the skills you seek and build good myelin insulation.

Finally you will need to be motivated to succeed. I would be willing to bet that Jessica Simpson was less than enthusiastic about going to her voice coach every time she had a lesson scheduled. I bet Michael Phelps looked at his snooze button more than a few times before his early morning practice sessions… yet both found the motivation to succeed.

The best and easiest way to maintain your focus is by immersing yourself in your chosen sport/career/interest. As a shooter and firearms trainer I am immersed or surrounded by my interest. For example, I carry a gun daily which makes me constantly aware of concealment methods, belts and holsters. At every opportunity to dry practice or live fire practice, I do it. I read about firearms and attend trade shows so I can see what the market looks like and where the future of firearms is going. I read magazines, watch DVDs, and attend classes and try to stay up on trends, tactics and equipment. I buy tools and accessories and test and evaluate them to see if I should be doing something better or can a piece of kit help me do it better. My friends and assistant instructors share the same passions and we can debate endless hours about different firearms, accessories, training methods, techniques, ad nauseam.

I’m motivated to train because I’m surrounded by like-minded individuals who also challenge me, encourage me and hold my interest in my chosen lifestyle of personal protection and training.

There will be friction, there will be failure and success comes in tiny, sometimes almost imperceptible increments. Consider why there are only a handful of top performers in every sport or art worldwide. I truly believe it is because they pressed on even when they did not notice small successes. They pressed on when they mastered one skill and were pushed and guided by a coach or teacher to do better.

There are a lot of boxers with Golden Glove Titles… only a few with a world championship belt. The path to success is getting from one failure to the next. I call this friction, or things that grind against me or obstacles I have to push past to achieve my goals. Friction is hot, it hurts and is discouraging, but it can be overcome.

For more information on the study of myelin and how to develop talent, I encourage you to pick up a book called: The Talent Code written by: Daniel Coyle. The book was the primary inspiration for this article and he goes into much greater depth about all of the topics I’ve touched on above. Daniel Coyle does not discuss the shooting sports, but his chapters on golf, soccer and baseball have strong correlations.

You can do it, you will have to work at it… it’s not going to be easy, but with a good cadre and laser focus you can succeed. Never give up in training, or in a fight!

Be safe, God bless – Train on!
Scott S
Founder, One Weapon Any Tool or on Facebook!

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Personal Protection – Beyond the waistline

When talking about self-defense and personal protection, an awful lot of attention is devoted to the waist line. Let’s face it, that’s where we carry the most important tool in our arsenal. Be it appendix carry, inside or outside the waistband, with a sturdy belt and spare magazines, the waistline plays a major role in our day to day safety. Sometimes however we count on our hips too much when we should be focusing on our body overall.

Since we are at the waistline, we’ll start there and then move on. If you have a large waistline, especially an ever expanding one, you need to focus on fitness. General fitness is a huge factor in surviving a dangerous and potentially lethal encounter. Not everyone needs to bench 300 and compete in a marathon, but everyone who is serious about their safety should be able to run a reasonable distance to safety. You should be able to fight off a physical attack without becoming so exhausted you collapse and become a victim anyway because you can’t protect yourself or flee. When you are under critical stress and your heart rate hits north of 175, being in good shape can be the difference between victory or victimization. So if your tactical pants are size 54… you might want to consider starting a fitness regime.

Since we’ve also wandered into the topic of attire, you should also take a few moments and consider what you are wearing. I do not endorse the wearing of your favorite brand of tactical clothing everywhere. You want to dress in such a way that you tend to blend in with those around you. While walking around dressed like a 5.11 billboard may provide you with a convenient place to carry your flashlight, and spare magazines, certain brands can identify you as someone likely to carry a firearm. This is particularly true if you are in law enforcement. I have sat in a restaurant on numerous occasions and seen tactically attired individuals come in. They stick out and that is the last thing you want to do.

Dress in neutral colors and serviceable attire. Do your best to blend in with the crowd around you so if there is an unexpected assault, you will not be singled out and that provides you with the advantage of surprise. If there is a group and you need to slip away to avoid a conflict, it will be much easier to fade into the scenery.

You can be quite stylish and still be tactically prepared. Make sure your covering garments are easy enough to manipulate to allow a quick draw stroke, but loose and comfortable enough to completely conceal your handgun. Every time I go clothes shopping and try on an outfit, I twist at the waist, raise my arms over my head, and bend to see how well the shirt hides my handgun. Considering I carry a full size P226 most of the time, finding a good covering shirt is sometimes difficult. Don’t be tempted to upsize either. Buying an overly large shirt to help you hide your
handgun can also make you stick out or draw attention to you.

Even logos like the 5.11 tabs and shirts with large firearms logos or manufacturer’s advertisements may also draw negative attention to you. Be wary of advertising your favorite handgun brand, someone may realize that you are doing more than advertising.

If you normally wear a large but walk around in a XXL to hide your gun, you’re going to look out of place and look like you are hiding something. One of the ways police train to recognize gang members who are carrying weapons is oversized clothing, or clothing that is in appropriate for the weather. A guy wearing a hooded sweatshirt or a puffy jacket on a summer day is a dead giveaway… they are trying to hide something.

You may also get tangled when drawing from concealment. Trying to manipulate the excessive fabric under stress, will slow your draw speed or cause a malfunction. Also, if you need to clear out of an area, you do not want a large wind sail slowing you down or getting snagged on protruding items you may pass by. Loose and large clothing is also easy for an attacker to grab on to, and will entangled you during an altercation. There is a reason MMA fighters don’t wear baggy pants and T-shirts when training.

Wear good serviceable shoes that will stay with you when you need to make your escape or stand and fight your way out. While hot weather may make sandals comfortable, how fast can your run in flip flops? I do know a few martial artists that prefer flip flops because they can be easily discarded for kicking, but unless you train to a competent level of street fighting, I recommend rubber soled and lightly cushioned footwear. You want shoes that will allow you to run a reasonable distance, maintain good traction on a variety of surfaces and stay with you as you move. Don’t fool yourself and think you can run barefoot. Unless you train and toughen up your feet, you will not be able to move far or fast without good footwear.

Concealed carry and personal protection is a lifestyle. Taking on the responsibility of protecting yourself and others sometimes means giving up a little bit of comfort and sacrificing the latest fashion trends that expose your firearm or interfere with your defensive capabilities.

Go and test your gear. Take your (unloaded) handgun and daily carry items and clothes and go for a sprint around your block. I said a sprint, not a jog, because you will not be lightly jogging if you need to get away from a lethal threat. After your run assess your equipment. Is your handgun still secure in the holster? Do your feet hurt from poor support? Are you on the verge of collapse due to your lack of fitness? After your fast run, do some dry fire practice and try a couple of magazine changes when your heart rate is elevated. You need to also have an understanding of your ability to perform in less than ideal conditions. (Please observe safety protocols for dry fire training). Another good method is to don your EDC clothes and gear and go head to head with a heavy bag for a solid, fast paced minute. Then reassess the above considerations.

As always, be safe, and train hard. If you want to assess your skills and abilities you can always contact One Weapon Any Tool for some personal defense training.

Scott S

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: Bob Mayne from Suarez International and the Handgunworld Podcast is coming to California on October 18th! Go to and register today for Beyond Concealed Carry.


I’ve been absent for a couple of weeks now, partially because I spent a week at a training course on responding to active shooter incidents. While this course was designed for law enforcement officers, there are many similarities in the way you as a concealed carry citizen could respond. As time goes by I will hopefully bring you more articles about active shooter incidents, training and response. As this is my first attempt to broach the subject, I’ll give a brief overview.

An active shooter event is not a new phenomenon. If you go back through history there are dozens of incidents where deranged individuals have used bombs, cars, knives and firearms to cause mass casualties. Over the last decade however, active shooters have evolved primarily in two ways. Mental health, psychotropic drugs and extensive studies related to behavior are now on the forefront. Pharmaceuticals of every type alter your body in some way, and as psychiatrics are using new and uncharted mind altering prescriptions, we are starting to reap some of the uncontrolled and unexpected side effects.

The other driving force behind more recent active shooter events is the media infamy associated with each event. Each killer this day and age wants to go down in history as the top killer with the largest body count and be remembered in history for the evil he/she perpetrated on the world. The new generation of active murderers are seeking publicity and the major media is playing right into their greedy, selfish, horrific and murderous ends.

Each new shooter who sets out is now conducting reconnaissance, developing elaborate plans, and becoming a more sophisticated threat. What started with two high school students and a few firearms is now a tactical vest wearing, 3 gun wielding, bomb and booby-trapped psycho. While I harbor strong beliefs about the reasons these murderers are often successful, it is not the focus of this article. (For some insight, read: Stop Teaching Our Kids to Kill, by: Lt. Col. Dave Grossman)

What I do want to focus on is your preparation, training and mindset if you find yourself in an area where the next psychotropic altered maniac unleashes their attack.

We’ll start with why you carry a gun in the first place. To protect yourself and your loved ones from the imminent threat of death or great bodily injury. You also carry because you know that there is also an off chance that you might have to save the life of a third party (fellow citizen you may not know). If you carry, it is also because you are going to be in a public area, with lots of people where there is a certain calculated risk that bad things could potentially happen. Places likes a mall, movie theater, or when dropping off your child at school.

Regardless of where you are when you hear the tell-tale sound of gunfire, you have to have already made up your mind if you are going to intervene or not. Some circumstances may make the choice for you, sometimes the threat will be near but not direct. Whatever you decide, make sure you consider some risk factors.

Are you going in? Statistic gathered during these events (and research by Israeli police) show that intervention by a single armed person drastically reduces the number of victims during an active shooter event. If an armed person (police, citizen, military) engages the suspect and upsets their plans, lives will be saved. If the killer is focused on you and your attempt to deny them infamy, people in the area have an opportunity to escape. One major thing active shooters fear (terrorists too) is failure to achieve their goal. When active shooters are confronted by a lethal threat they often kill themselves which is also a victory by other means. (Clackamas Mall)

Before you feel like being a hero I want to sober you up with another interesting piece of data. First responders who engage a mass murder during these events have a 40% chance of suffering great bodily injury or death. You may not come out of the event unscathed… or even alive. On duty, I have body armor, an AR-15 and a trauma kit that make my odds better. As an armed citizen, you most likely do not have protection, a force multiplier or medical gear necessary to stop major hemorrhaging. If the statistic is 40% for law enforcement, I’d venture a guess that it higher for an armed citizen. If you fall victim to the shooter without inflicting injury of your own, you have now just armed the murderer with another tool with which to wreck more havoc.

If you decide to go see what is happening, you will be alone. The active shooter may not be. While we were in training the two killers that murdered the police officers and then ended up in a Wal-mart store were confronted by an armed citizen…who was ambushed and killed by the female he was not expecting. Remember this golden rule when conducting threat assessments: There is always one more threat! I believe Joseph Wilcox is a hero and his intervention helped prevent the escape of the two suspects allowing law enforcement to intervene and force them to suicide. His death was unfortunate, however he did something many people would not do and his sacrifice was not in vain. Rest in peace hero.

The crowd will also be moving against you, and if you have a firearm, you are going to have to protect your weapon while pushing towards the threat. When you decide to draw your own firearm is a choice you will have to make. On duty, and in full uniform, it’s easy to have it out and ready. Off duty, or a civilian in plain clothes, you could be mistaken for the shooter by the panicked crowd and have some mob justice dispensed upon you. There is no right answer, just something I want you to think about now, so you are not trying to decide under stress.

As you move towards the threat also be aware of potential booby-traps. Improvised Explosive Devices or IEDs are left out to inhibit or kill first responders or used as force multipliers to kill more victims. If you encounter an IED find cover and get low. If an IED is thrown at you, run to cover and get low or charge the threat, neutralize the threat and take cover as fast as possible. If you encounter an active shooter that is equipped with IEDs, you might want to back out of the situation. As a citizen do not have a fatalistic sense of heroism. A tactical retreat may be a good option against an ensconced, sophisticated, well-armed, or well armored threat.

As a citizen responder, you will lack heavy armor and specialized equipment to deal with every situation. I encourage you to try to do something, but be smart, don’t get into a situation or circumstances that overwhelm your senses or training. You have to accept the fact right now that people are going to die, you will try to prevent that, you will not be able to save everyone.

Also as you move towards the threat you will encounter carnage. There will be floors slick with blood, you will encounter severely wounded people who will scream and beg you for help. You have to decide if you are going to move on towards the threat or stop and render aid. No one will fault you for rendering aid or dragging someone to a safer location and if they are coherent, you might be able to gather some intelligence as to what the shooter looks like, what they are wearing and which direction he/she/they went. If they have a phone they can also call 911 and give a description of you so the responding officers do not mistake you for the suspect.

While I’m on that topic, let’s address it. You will be in regular everyday civilian attire. You look like everyone else in the fleeing crowd and may easily be mistaken for a threat. (Especially if you dress like a 5.11 billboard.) It is a risk you will have to take if you decide to intervene. The police do not care who you say you are, they care about what you are doing. If you are seen probing an area with a firearm, you may be engaged by police gun fire. If you are challenged by the police, comply with their instructions and DO NOT point your handgun anywhere near their direction. If they tell you to drop your gun, do it. I don’t care if it is a $3000 Nighthawk Custom 1911… drop it!

If LE intervenes and you are taken into custody you can expect to be handcuffed and treated roughly until the threat is over. Be grateful you are alive and give the police time to sort out the details. You’ll have plenty of time to explain your intentions a couple hours later.

If you do manage to make it to the threat and neutralize him/her, you may be physically and emotionally spent. Adrenaline will be overwhelming your system and you will be on a high like you have never experienced. If there are no more threats then it is time for you to conduct a self-assessment.

Start with you… are you injured or shot. I suggest running your hand over yourself and looking for signs of bleeding. Adrenaline will deaden pain and constrict blood flow so you may not feel it. Check and re-check and make sure you are medically sound. If you are injured, it is time to improvise. Use your shirt, an electrical cord or whatever you have to stop the loss of blood.

Next you need to do a weapon assessment. If you have a spare magazine this is the time to reload and make sure you still have the potential to continue to fight in case there is a second (or third, or fourth) shooter who may be coming to check on their partner in crime. Under extreme stress you might not know how many rounds you fired and you may not even realize you reached slide lock. Assess your weapon and stay ready.

If you have a cell phone it is time for you to call 911 and give updates. If police announce themselves as they approach, respond back and let them know you are in the room or hallway. If you know the police are approaching, holster or discard your weapon, and obey their commands!

If police are still working their way towards you, and you can connect with a dispatcher, give a description of what you look like, what you are wearing and stay on the phone until officer’s contact you! An easy way to remember what information to give is to start at your head and work down to your feet. Hair color, skin color, shirt and pants color, shoes and any unique features like scars or tattoos. Anything the dispatcher can tell the officers that will distinguish you from the real threat.

Remember, you will be treated like a potential suspect initially. Your handgun may be placed into evidence for a while. You should ask for legal representation, but be cooperative. Lastly, be patient while the police gather information, contact witnesses and compile the series of events. If you are lucky enough to have made a difference, you also need to be prepared for the media swarm that will likely vilify you for carrying a gun in the first place.

As I close this article I want to remind you to remain vigilant, be prepared and be smart. I sincerely hope you will never encounter an event like I have described. If you do, I hope this article will give you some groundwork you can think about and prepare for mentally. You cannot save everyone, people will die. Do what you can, but please, do something! Before you have to do something, get some training!

Be safe, and Godspeed.
Scott S – Founder or One Weapon, Any Tool

hard work ahead



As a teacher / trainer I cannot emphasize enough the differences between these two common words. When you go to the range, hang your target and fire a hundred rounds through the paper into the berm, it is easy to get into the mindset that you are “training.” I would disagree with that assessment of your time by calling it “practice,” and here is why.

When I’m looking to learn something new, or improve on a skill, I seek out an instructor who can teach me that skill, hone a skill I have, or push me to my failure point so I know where to work from. Training requires a knowledgeable, subject matter expert who can break down a complex task into a series of steps a student can comprehend and work on. During training, the instructor monitors progress, corrects the errors students make, fine tune your performance, offer criticisms, encouragements and then push you to excel beyond your comfort zone. Training is an evolution where the learner comes out better and more knowledgeable and capable of performing a skillset. Good training is a struggle for the student and should challenge you. You cannot learn inside your comfort zone and there is no amount time you can spend on your own that will truly push you towards excellence.

When your training is over, you take the new knowledge or skillset and “practice” it on your own. Practice reinforces the training. Practice will take those newly formed neural connections and start insulating them until the little invisible thread becomes a super highway, a solid pathway you built up in your subconscious through repetitive, meaningful, challenging work.

While I have drawn a bit of a distinction between training and practice, they really are symbiotic. In order to practice you have to have good training as a foundation to work from. Without training and guidance, you can practice a lot and get really good at the wrong thing or make a superhighway sized neural connection of bad habits. The old saying, “Perfect practice makes perfect,” is very true.

When you do take time to practice, make your sessions short and meaningful. A mere 20 minutes of good slow, methodical practice the right way is far better than 60 minutes of sloppy techniques and imprecise movements. During practice sessions focus on technique and speed will come. Remember, smooth is fast. Practice until the last piece of training you had is smooth and then start looking for the next opportunity to train so you’ll have more good techniques to continue to practice.

Take a moment now and analyze the last few practice sessions you’ve had and evaluate yourself honestly. Is it time for you to seek some training to make sure you are practicing the right things, the right way? If you haven’t been to a training course recently… maybe it is time to take one.


Until next time, stay safe, practice hard and seek training.

Scott S – One Weapon, Any Tool You can also find us on Facebook!


The word tactical gets thrown around a lot these days. From firearms accessories, clothing, vehicles, and training courses, this word gets used, misused and if you add it as a prefix to something you are selling, you can automatically charge $10 more… because it’s tactical!

Most of the “tactical” stuff out there is really nothing more than “tacti-cool.” It really serves no purpose other than to make your rifle, pistol, boots, SUV, or hat cost more and project an image that you are some kind of mall ninja, wannabe operator or instructor touting as gospel some tactic he saw on Youtube. Things that are truly tactical are not meant to help you define or project an image. They are meant to help you win fights!

We’ll start with the basic American dictionary definition as a starting point. Tactical: Of or pertaining to a maneuver or plan of action designed as an expedient towards gaining a desired end, or temporary advantage. Re-read the definition.

I’m going to distill the definition a bit further, which is what I believe tactical really is and means. Tactical: Simple and reliable. Economy of motion.

Think about all of the cool accessories and features you can now purchase for your AR-15 rifle platform. I’m going to use the AR as an example for most of the article since it is one of the most popular platforms in America and almost every gun owner has one. The AR has seen a huge evolution in design, features, accessories, etc. over the last 20 years. We went form the plastic hand guards to quad rails so we could meet mission specific requirements, but how many of those features and upgrades are simple to use? How many are, “to hell and back,” reliable? How many of those features enable you to get your gun into the fight faster than the bad guy? How many of those upgrades and “tactical” features are simple to operate, and can help you starting putting rounds on target faster than your enemy?

When it comes to guns and gun fighting, complex gadgets and features that must be deployed or adjusted before you can pull the trigger will slow you down and cost you the initiative in a fight. If it is easy to operate and works every time… it is tactical!

Features and gadgets should also assist you in making simple motions that maximize your speed to target. Economy of motion can also be translated as smooth! Smooth is fast and motion that detracts from your ability to move your rifle quickly from onto target and from one target to another is not tactical.

I’m not trying to say that all features and gadgets are bad. There are some very good pieces of kit out there. I just want you to evaluate the need for a cool doohickey. Is it going to interfere with your ability to fight? OR Will it give you an advantage if you train with it a little bit? Lastly… does it work, is it simple to use/operate and can it take a beating?

What is your definition of tactical now? What items hanging from your quad rail are just tacti-cool? How can you simplify and make it truly tactical? Go forth my friends and evaluate!

Be safe and Godspeed!

Scott S – One Weapon, Any Tool or find us on Facebook!


When you are contemplating your personal defense how many attackers do you train to defend against?

At what distances do you train to interdict these attackers?

Are you ready… after firing your gun to slide lock to engage them in hand to hand combat to defend your life, or the life of someone worth dying for?

What other tools do you have nearby that can assist you in winning the fight?

While these are some pretty direct and heavy questions, they are worth contemplating, preparing a strategy and training to win when the odds are against you.

Growing up in the “good old days,” when two kids on a school yard or adults in conflict would settle things mano-e-mano or one to one, and let the better man win. It was how we settled arguments when every other option had failed. During these conflicts the crowd would gather, and friends of both sides would watch while the two individuals settled things. These fights were rarely fatal and there were gentlemanly rules of engagement.
In our modern society, cowardice reigns and the one on one fight is gone. You need to look no further than the evening news to see groups or gangs of combatants attacking a lone victim, and unlike the good old days, they will do so for the slightest perceived insult. Working patrol and especially during my experience in corrections, the fights were almost always 2 on 1 or more. Robberies are now committed by crews not individuals. Ten years ago no one heard of Home Invasions, but now they are rampant and always committed by a group or gang of thugs. When talking about personal defense, are you prepared to deal with the home invaders or are you preparing for the 1970’s lone cat burglar?

When you spend time at the range it is sometimes difficult to hang two or more targets and practice shooting each one in rapid succession. Most ranges limit the rate of fire and confine you to one lane which makes it difficult to achieve realistic practice. This is why you need to go to a training class! In my intermediate and advanced courses every student will end up having at least two and often three targets posted in front of them with urgency to put a minimum of two to four accurate rounds into each target. To add some pressure I’m also using a timer so you can accurately gauge your abilities. If you have never tried driving the gun from target to target and getting good hits, you need to train this.
Moving the gun from target to target is not an easy skill to master, and if you swing instead of drive the gun, you’ll end up missing! If you do not understand what I mean when I say, Drive the Gun… you need a training class!

The main reason you need to hone this skill is because gun fights occur at very short distances. Having multiple attackers less than 10 feet away forces you to shoot quickly and get hits. I do not have the exact stat but nearing the 90% mark, most gun fights occur less than 21 feet away. Measure out 21 feet with a tape measure and ask yourself honestly… how many bad guys could you shoot before they got their hands on you?
This brings me to my last point for the article: When you don’t have a firearm or find yourself in a hand to hand struggle, how prepared are you to continue fighting the threat. You have never been in a fight until you’ve had to fight someone for control of a loaded handgun! If you can’t get to the gun and you need to keep your attacker away from it, what makeshift weapons of opportunity are nearby? An empty gun, a flashlight, lampshade, bat, knife, heavy book, or shovel… whatever you can get to and use, do it! Your life depends on it.

Now, not every situation will involve a firearm, but the fact of the matter does not change. If you are attacked, expect to be outnumbered, and have a plan to defend yourself. Martial arts like Krav Maga, Kenpo, MMA and Kajukenbo are excellent at teaching defense against multiple opponents. The key to surviving these assaults is this: Action beat reaction. Use the maximum amount of violence in the shortest amount of time. You need to seize and maintain the initiative against multiple attackers. Note I used the word survive. You are going to be hit, you are going to get hurt, but that doesn’t stop you from fighting on!

It is not a matter of if… it is when! Get trained up, get ready and win the fight!

Be safe this week. Stay vigilant.

Scott S

One Weapon – Any Tool
Your mind is the weapon, everything else is just a tool!

Often things happen right before our eyes and we don’t even see them. How many times in your life have you looked at your watch and a second later realize that you do not know what time it is? This is because of how your mind works in conjunction with your brain. The way we perceive objects and people is critical when it comes to personal safety and not picking up on a few minor cues can cost you your life. For this article I’m again borrowing a bit of research from the book, Incognito: The secret lives of the brain by David Eagleman. In this fabulous book Mr. Eagleman delves into how your brain works and perception is a key component to awareness. You only perceive the information you are seeking despite the eye’s ability to see vast amounts of things. Here is an example to illustrate the point Mr. Eagleman uses in his book.

Take a look at the picture below called The Unexpected Visitor painted by Yarbus in 1967.


Look at the picture and estimate how old you think each person is?
Look at the picture and tell me what activity the family was doing before the visitor arrived?
Finally, look at the picture and tell me about what time of day it is?

Based on research, when you were asked to identify the ages of the people in the picture, your eyes looked at the faces of each person.
When I asked you what the family was doing before the visitor arrived you looked at the table, the doorway and the instrument in the corner.
When I asked you what time of day it is, your eyes likely went to the windows and the light reflecting off the walls trying to determine if it was morning or mid-afternoon.

Now, without scrolling back up and looking at the photo, can you tell me what the people in the picture were wearing?
At this point most of you will not be able to recall this information because your mind didn’t need to know that, so your eyes did not see in detail the clothes. Your brain forces your eyes to look at the specific areas of the picture you need to see, so you can gain the information needed and though you noticed they had clothes on… your brain did not think it was important to capture details about the clothes. As you can see there is a vast difference between seeing and perceiving. How does this apply to personal defense? I’m glad you asked and since you stuck with me this far, allow me to explain.

When I worked a patrol beat people used to get annoyed with me and I got complaints because people said, “He never looks me in the eyes.” To this day I still have a hard time looking someone in the eyes when we talk or interact because I’ve been conditioned to conduct a threat assessment of everyone I meet and a security assessment of all the places I go into. While you may have captivating blue eyes, your eyes are very little threat to me. What I’m looking at is your hands, and where your hands are in relation to the common places people keep weapons like, your waistband, pockets or the small of the back.

I’m watching to see if your fists are clenched and if they are then I will glance at your feet to see if you are in a balanced and bladed (fighting) stance. Hands access weapons, feet tell me your intentions, eyes have their uses and can be windows into the soul, but your eyes and soul can’t hurt me.

When entering a building I always try to look for several important pieces of information. Where are the entrances or exits? What items in the room provide concealment (a place to hide) and what offers cover (something that will stop bullets). Who is in the room and what threat do they pose to me, right now or what areas are nearby they can disappear into or access that might pose a threat to me later.
This is the information my brain is seeking so my eyes naturally look at hands, waistbands, windows, doors, walls, bookshelves, furniture, etc. If you asked me what some of the people I met were wearing, I doubt I could recall that information right away because even though I “saw it” I didn’t “perceive it.”

Circumstances however can dictate what information is a priority and as a result your brain will force your eyes to look at certain items. Another example from my patrol days was when I was in a foot chase with a suspect. He was running away from me at the time and had quite a good head start when the chase started. I immediately focused on what he was wearing, his skin tone, height, approximate weight and the direction he was running. Why? I “perceived” those pieces of data because I knew my suspect had a good chance of getting away and I would need this information to broadcast a description to responding units and to set up a perimeter based on the area he was in and the direction he was traveling.

Using these examples above, it is time for you to put this into practice in your day to day life. Situational awareness is talked about in almost every personal defense circle but there is precious little information about how to get better at recognizing potential danger.

Armed with the information above I want you to look at the next photo posted below of a typical shopping mall in America. Before you look at this photo I want you to think about what information you need to do a threat assessment of the area pictured. Look at the picture for about 10 seconds and then answer the questions below:


What pieces of structure provide concealment?

Which pieces of structure provide hard cover?

Where is the nearest exit?

How many people are above you on the second floor?

Is that hallway to the right an exit and what is beyond the door the delivery man is next to?

If the delivery man is holding a gun in the hand we can’t see… what are you going to do?

You can apply the above example to everywhere you go. As you just learned it also takes a few seconds to make this assessment. When you enter a new place or unfamiliar surroundings is it worth taking a few seconds to scan with your eyes and let your mind perceive the information necessary to maximize your safety?

Here is one more picture. You need to get to the office building at the end of the alleyway. Before you enter, scan and decide:

Where can potential threats hide?

Cover? Concealment?

Escape routes?

Remember that your eyes are optimized by your brain to seek only the data you perceive as necessary. To be safer and more aware, you will have to train your brain to tell your eyes what data to look for. Consider the eye movements you are making as you read this article. The eyes are jumping from spot to spot rather than moving smoothly across the page. If you don’t believe me, watch someone else’s eyes while they read.
Your brain does not need a full analysis of the world around you to operate. You’ve grown up conditioned to operate based on being able to perceive the few particulars needed to navigate. Your mind only encodes certain pieces of data and the rest of the picture it fills in with assumptions based on previous physical and social encounters. You will have to re-condition your mind to start perceiving potential threats and only then will you truly be on the path towards situational awareness.

As always, stay safe and Godspeed.

Scott S – One Weapon, Any Tool: Your mind is the weapon, everything else is just a tool!
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