A personal request as to those who carry...
I've been thinking about how to frame this post since driving home from the range this past Saturday.
Even how to title the thread has been a question item.
This is the best way I can put things so please bear with me...
If you are going to make the very personal choice to carry a firearm on your person and with that all of the legal, moral and functional ramifications that come with it; Then please do so only after being capable to properly handle and discharge a firearm.
<Deep breath out>
What am I talking about?
Where am I going?
Where is this coming from?
Let me share with you an event that I witnessed and interjected myself into this past Saturday.
I carry, a gun. Have been for some time now.
I carry everywhere and anytime that is lawful.
I do not like to carry and I get no pleasure from doing so.
I do so only because life occurs. Same reason I wear a seat belt and endure paying insane health insurance premiums and carry that along with a AAA card in my wallet.
I do a lot as in a majority of my training at home as dry fire exercise. I'd say that an honest 90% of my trigger time per week/per month is spent dropping hammers on Snap Caps and running drills such as FTF & FTE as well as FTN type exercises using magazines filled with Snap Caps.
The remaining 10% of my training is spent at a range indoor or out doing exact same things only with live ammunition.
I'll load one magazine with one round, another with five, a third with two or three or some other random number and just one to maximum capacity.
Place them on the bench, close my eyes, shuffle them a bit, and blindly load the magazines to my normal everyday carry mag holsters. Then without looking at the magazine I may or may not load the handgun. Sometimes I run Dozier drills as from an empty gun, action open. Other times as from a Condition 3 gun and other times as in Condition 1. I randomize.
I try my best to train hard and at that force myself to make mistakes. Slow fire, fast fire, distant, close, aggressing toward a target, backing away, static firing as from simulated cover against a moving target and as firing against oddly shaped unconventional targets.
Targets such as paper plates, 3x5 cards, Post-It Notes, plastic Halloween pumpkins, ammunition boxes....Anything. I don't care as long as it's range safe. Even paper cups as stapled to the backer through the bottom and shooting exclusively as within the rim (.22LR).
So here I am this past Saturday in my lane training when a gentleman walks in looking just like me, an average Joe.
He was wearing jeans and a t-shirt. Nothing remarkable.
In his hand was a lane marker as provided by the front desk check in folk to indicate to the on duty RSO that he is a licensed concealed carry person. This identifier is taken by some if not most of the RSOs to indicate you are not a newbie with a gun and have at a minimum a basic understanding of firearms and proper method toward handling.
I am wearing jeans, a t-shirt as tucked in, and my normal everyday carry gear...Exactly as I'd walked in wearing that day.
A canister of OC/CS in a belt holster, one spare magazine in a mag holster both left side and my IWB holster with street carry sidearm as holstered. I was wearing no cover shirt this day because I had to go pick up my kids from a third party sight thereafter and di not want lead dust to cover that, so I hung it up on a coat rack prior to entering the range area.
The gentleman to my left lifts his shirt on the right to reveal an OWB leather pancake holster. He removes a modern autoloader from it and places it on the bench.
Normally at my range the staff know who I am and typically either allow me to select a lane at my own accord which always I choose either the far most left or right against a wall to be well away from other shooters as for my own safety and because I just want to focus on what I'm doing and not be interrupted with questions. Or when busy they will purposefully stack carry type ID shooters near me. I have never talked to them about the latter nor requested it but it's been obvious this is what they are doing.
Also per my own norm if a shooter is slotted next to me I will pause what ever I'm doing even if in the middle of a string of fire, empty and action open my gun...Then back away for a moment to take a breather, and to observe the other guy...To see if this person is safe, or not. If I see anything odd or worrisome I will pack up and have left cutting my range time short. I have a rule; I gotta go home. Period.
So I do same with this gentleman and at first all seems okay.
He places his sidearm on the bench. Then picks it back up to drop the mag and he clears the action, and places the gun back on the bench. Sweet! He's got some training. I'll be okay I think to myself.
Next he starts unloading ammo from a gym bag he'd had with him. I notice it's all .357 Sig.
Interesting. Relatively expensive and difficult to find, around here, ammo. Very high velocity and with that high recoil as well.
I think to myself okay he's a FAMS or some other .GOV LEO. State and local LEO here run .40 and 9MM. I have never to date seen a civilian shooting same. Why? Because always when I see shooters with .357 Sig it's only been when the RSOs have placed them to my left or right and eventually as they shoot or begin to shoot a badge becomes readily visible as located at the belt. It's always been that way, up until this day.
I watch him load one magazine as was removed from his gym bag kept among the ammo.
He reloads the first magazine as was originally in the handgun and drops the slide. He places the now action closed and hot/live handgun on the bench.
Next he pulls from his bag an FBI 'Q' type qualification target. Man size approximation milk bottle type. Every shooter knows this target. A classic like the 25 yd. bullseye type.
He attaches the target to the backer and sends it out to position one.
For the record position one at this range is a measured 21'.
I confirmed this and all of the range cutoffs as all the way to pos. 3 and to the backstop years ago using a sonic range finder that had prior been accurized. The gentleman never made attempt to fire at greater than position 1, which is 21'.
He then picks up the handgun with his right hand, goes belly on contact to the bench leaning his weight on it and he fires ten rounds fast fire.
I look at the target and note three holes to the far right with vertical stringing across what was maybe a 3' spread. The rest of the rounds are off paper.
I walk forward back to my own lane, load my gun as it had been and continue to train as I had.
I figure to myself okay he's just function testing the gun to start. He'll get serious in a moment.
I break focus on him and go back to what I was doing at my own thing. I pay him little attention aside from non-purposeful monitor in my peripheral.
Maybe 10 minutes goes by. He's now fired I think a fussilade of 4 ten round volleys.
Fire. Stop to look at target. Reload. Repeat.
I stop to change my target and that is when I first notice his target.
90% of his target is untouched.
Complete and whole as the day it was printed.
The remaining 10%...Holes all over in seemingly random places at the borders, top, bottom edge and everywhere as in a reversed C type shape.
Strange. At this point as I am topping off my own mags I look over my left shoulder and note one of the RSOs watching him and he looks me in the face, and makes a face. It was pretty much the universal facial expression of 'WTH?!'.
I set my own handgun to bench state condition; Which is again magazine removed, action open, chamber clear and bore facing up range.
I am fanatical about firearm safety. I do practice what I preach and teach. I have no other option but to go home and be home when expected in time for dinner. Period. No excuses. Mess up once and I might as well not come home.
I step back again to observe the gentleman shoot.
I now note he's got six boxes of ammo stacked up next to him and has gone through one already with a second open and tapped from.
He fires again...Fast. And basically hits nothing but air. I think in that particular try he hit paper with just one round.
I walk over to the RSO and ask him quietly to his ear (we both wear e-ears) if it would be okay with him if I entered the shooters space to speak with him and maybe share a few pointers.
He nods okay and looks me in the eye to state as much.
I now walk over to the shooter as he in the midst of reloading a magazine and tap him on the shoulder.
I consciously think to smile first and I introduce myself by first name.
Next I ask if I could enter his space, which I motion toward with my hand, to chat for a moment about his gun?
He says yes.
I step in closer now fully in his lane space and comment that I'm in the lane to his right and caught during my break a few errors that I might be able to help him with toward better getting on paper. I ask if it would be okay with him if I shared some of them with him. I then add if not no problem that's cool, I just thought I'd offer.
He says yes, not a problem. <Sweet!>
We then spend ~10 minutes talking about the basics of handgun shooting.
Master grip. Stance both proper and improper. Body alignment and sight alignment. Then last I ask him which eye is his 'Dominant Eye'. He replies he doesn't know. Hmm.
So we do some drills to figure that out only he and I both discover...He is unable to close one eye while keeping the other open.
I have never seen this before. He could close both eyes no problem. But close one and try to keep the other open, no go. I swear it.
The off eye would not close and he clearly was struggling to make this so. If he closed the off eye the on eye would close too. This was for both the left and right eye.
Strangest thing ever and he himself reacted as though he'd never tried to do this in life before. He appeared to be in his mid 20s. Late 20s at best. Strange.
So I showed him using my own self as an example what I saw him doing. I used my own lane and my own gun as though prior demonstrated to be empty/clear, and with no magazine. Action then closed on an empty chamber.
We talked about not using the bench as a prop for his belly. Not standing straight up and down with a rearward lean/sway. Not shooting head cocked over like on TV as with a Weaveresque stance. And not using the old school revolver specific tea cup type grip.
All of this to him appeared as though he were hearing it for the very first time in life.
I then manually set his target to a distance of just 15', which is pre marked at this range by a wide red band of paint along the floor.
I had him fire two rounds using my advisorys with the RSO watching on the whole time. Still he missed. Completely off paper. Strange.
Then my cell rang with my wife calling to say she was ready with the kids for pickup as at the museum in town where I'd dropped them off earlier.
I apologized to the gentleman and remarked that if I had more time I'd work with him to resolve the issue. But to my eye he is having a visual disparity issue. Something he should investigate further to identify and either resolve or work around.
Next I commented to him with my most serious of face and tone that no disrespect to him what so ever, but he might want to very seriously reconsider for the moment what he's doing right now walking around with a firearm on his hip. I felt bad about saying this as I was saying it. But I felt it had to be said, by someone.
I commented that carry is a responsibility as well as a privilege in this state (MA), never mind being a right.
I went on to say that as demonstrated here he has serious issue with hitting a target, with this gun and as at his current level of functional capability.
I said hey what if a BG ran up on him and it was my wife and kids down the street behind that BG. Or for that matter me, or some other dad. And he himself draws, fires and is right then there that day guaranteed to miss. Absolutely positively 99% chance of missing the target.
What then? For me and my family? And for himself?
I then commented I meant him no disrespect at all.
Further I apologized if at all my comments offended him.
He shook his head and said no I'm not offended at all. He then said; "Thank you".
I told him I was going to pack up but before I leave I'm going to locate for him the business card of an instructor here as directly affiliated with the facility that I have great comfort with who can work with him directly.
I packed up my kit, patrolled my area, cleared the target backer and exited direct to the facility managers office.
He is a career county deputy sheriff, weapons & tactics instructor for them, teaches civilian courses at this facility...And he is a good guy too. I told him what I saw and what I did and asked for his card.
He gave me his card and a course flyer as toward his upcoming scheduled basic handgun course. Level 101.
I went back in to the range,provided the gentleman this info and directed him to see the manager upon exit and to drop my name.
By this point he was in the process of packing up.
We shook hands, he smiled and thanked me again addressing me as 'Sir' and I told him I hope to see him on the line again soon.
I boogied on out to go get my family.
Later that night though I sent the manager an e-mail asking if the gentleman had sought him out.
He replied no and that he was with a customer after I left so maybe they missed each other and will call on him later.
I sincerely hope so, and sooner than later. : |
I apologize for the length of this but it was necessary.
The bottom line is this.
If you're going to carry on the street, please take this seriously.
Train. For real.
Spend money on courses via certified and qualified instructors. Seek out private instruction for tuneups and tutoring.
Become and stay functionally proficient.
This gentleman would require a BG to be standing literally in front of him as in order to score any hits.
Beyond that the safest place with him is to stand directly along his center line and as within a 25 to 30 degree arc of that left or right.
Persons like this should not be carrying on the street.
For their own sake, and for yours as well as mine.
If you happen to be this gentleman I again apologize and mean no disrespect.
If you happen to personally know or see this gentleman, or a woman for that matter, as at your own range then please do take a moment to introduce yourself.
Doing so may save their life, my life, my families life...Or if you happen to care nothing about that it may also be a way to actively save your own life.
Note: This gentleman was the hands down worst shot I have ever directly witnessed in my life.
As well when I was showing him how to properly put hand to and grip his handgun I had to tell him five (5) times in succession; "Please remove your finger from the trigger...Never touch the trigger until ready to fire the gun...Index your trigger finger along the side of the guns frame".
I'd say this and he'd nod or say "Oh, yeah". Only to do the exact same thing again literally seconds later. Rinse repeat.
How he was graduated from a mandatory MA LTC course I do not know or understand.