Tag Archives: training

TacStrike 1/4 Scale Steel Target System

I have been a fan of TacStrike Targets since my purchase of one of Rob’s stake in targets three years ago.

I decided to expand my collection with one of TacStrikes  1/4 Scale Steel Target Systems this year.

The system comes with a base that can accept 1″X2″ or 2″X2″ wood stakes if you want to shoot paper, and a center pocket that accepts the target rack post.

The 1/4 scale silhouette is made of AR500 steel and “floats” inside the rack so that it can absorb impacting rounds without having to swing or rock. It also lets it ring like a bell.

The AR500 plate destroys incoming rounds:



The .40 S&W and .223 I put on it were reduced to powder and flat disks of jacket metal:



If you are in the market for some steel check out TacStrike.

Good stuff at good prices and the owner, Rob Tackett, is good people.

tactical preschool 65

This lesson will cover an alternative room clearing option from the “room flood” technique most commonly seen.

The “room flood” is the one you see in all the movies and cop shows. The door blows open and all the good guys “flood” into the room, shooting down the bad guys…



The idea is that “speed, surprise and violence of action” will overcome any resistance.

There is something to be said for the technique. The SAS perfected it and most US Special Operations Forces and Elite SWAT Teams still train and use it effectively. But to work when people are actually shooting at you as you enter, you need to be HIGHLY trained and willing to accept losses. In essence you are stepping into a room with the bad guys and shooting it out.

For SHTF situations like hostage rescue where you HAVE to get in and get in fast or else the hostages are going to get killed, this is probably still the best basic method (incorporating other things like window porting, sniper shots, diversions, etc.).

However, when used as a default method for all SWAT entries like high risk warrant execution, single person barricades and other less exigent reasons…well…you are asking people to wade into possible gunfire, expecting them accept losses and “drive on”.

For the average “operator” I don’t see that being something that will work out too well. Over and over again we have seen situations where the team meets gunfire at the breach and bogs down in the fatal funnel:

An alternative method of room clearing gaining ground is commonly called the “limited penetration” technique.

This is a concept that combines two previous lessons.

In Tactical Preschool 11 we covered the basics of room entry/room clearing.

In Tactical Preschool 46 we talked about how sometimes it’s wiser to deal with an armed subject from outside the room rather than trying force your way inside with him.

In this method, instead of rushing into the room to clear the funnel, the operators slice the pie from opposite sides of the door and engage any threat from outside the room. If the room is clear, they button hook the door and clear the corners and then proceed to the next entry point.

lim pen


This is becoming one of the preferred techniques with the Israelis and the South Africans. If you go to the 1:28 point of the following video you can see the South Africans training in it….live fire….with an instructor inside….

Some detractors of the method don’t like the “loitering in the fatal funnel” aspect of the technique, but I believe there’s something to be said for the idea that perhaps…instead of trying to force a group of armed men into an enclosed space with a bad guy…it may be a better idea to deal with him from the door.

lets see if this gets hearts racing

Anyone into LE/MIL training has heard of the book “Sharpening the Warriors Edge“. The core of the book is focused on the proposition that the human heart rate is a factor in combative performance under stress and that as the heart rate increases a person will loose motor function and other skills.

This book and author were picked up by Ltc David Grossman, who you all know, and this heart rate chart was propagated throughout MIL/LEcircles as proven science.

I have always been skeptical of the whole “heart rate chart” thing and how the TAC/LE community seems to have swallowed it without any sort of verification or peer review.

I don’t believe that HR in and of itself causes any significant motor loss.  I remember doing drills in SWAT school where I had to run in full gear and assemble a pistol while competing head to head. Since it wasn’t life or death it wasn’t exceedingly difficult. If anything, it would have been the mental stress of competition that caused any motor skill degradation. Conversely I’ve had some “oh shit” moments that left my hands shaking…Imo its adrenalin and mental factors that are whats in play here not HR at all. Saying heart rate is the cause is like saying that dilated pupils cause nodding out…not heroin in the bloodstream. Heart rate may be somewhat of an indicator of hormonal changes in the body but I see no proof that those indicators prove to be universal between all persons.

I note that in more recent versions of the HR chart it stipulates “HORMONAL Induced Heart Rate”. I don’t know if Siddle has altered his approach or if these charts are from a source other than Siddle, but when it first came out it seemed implied that heart rate ALONE was the factor and that’s how many LE/MIL/TAC trainers were regurgitating it to their students.

All the same I don’t know that HR should be used as a metric at all. I would think that people would have different symptoms at different heart rates under adrenaline/hormonal influences. Just because I may loose motor skills when scared at around 155 BPM doesn’t mean you are going to lose them at the same rate.

I wonder where these numbers came from…and so do others. That’s the core of the criticism as I see it.

Some other LE/MIL folks didn’t bite either. Hock Hochheim posted the following.


Go to the bottom…August 1st post.

Of particular interest to this discussion from Hocks post is:

The professional look of the chart and its matter-of-fact presentation suggests some very serious, study work has been done. But by whom? The actual source is somewhat elusive these days. The source is usually just regurgitated as “Bruce Siddle’s work on,” or the “work of Bruce Siddle,” over and over again, as through Siddle himself was a renown heart surgeon or maybe a Distinguished Fellow, doctor at Houston’s Debakey Heart Center. Does anyone ask, just who this Siddle really is? Actually, Siddle has not graduated a college and has no psychology or medical degree or experience. He is essentially a self-proclaimed, martial arts grandmaster of his own style ” Fist of Dharma,” from a small, Illinois town. He had an idea at a very ripe time decades ago, to teach very non-violent, police courses. Many police administrations loved the programs because of the pressure-point approach. Many, many officers, including myself, did not like the program.

Siddle is also the guy behind the Pressure Point Control Tactics (PPCT) System that was so popular in LE circles for a while.

Its interesting how a self-proclaimed grandmaster can found a widely LE accepted DT system, leverage what many are now believing to be a mistaken idea into notoriety, and even get ownership of a handgun manufacturing outfit (with Grossman once again). The snake eating tail aspect of tactical experts endorsing/spouting each others work serves to ingrain concepts into our training and operations…some are good, but others we really should be taking a closer look at.

Grossman also used to hitch his training wagon to John Giduck who also is having some credibility issues of late.

This all goes to show the power of “getting an in” with LE and MIL circles. I don’t want to come off as “bashing” any of these authors but we in the LE/MIL communities seem to be having a “flavor of the day” issue with people and concepts. I think a dose of skepticism would serve us better than hero worship of authors and trainers we haven’t seriously investigated or vetted.

Do any of my readers have any additional information or expertise on this subject?

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product evaluation: VG6 Gamma 556 Tactical Muzzle Brake

An “internet friend of mine” who works for Precision Delivery Systems (Firearms parts and accessories) sent me the VG6 Gamma 556 Tactical Muzzle Brake for little “sneak preview” evaluation.

2013-06-17 17.04.25

The Brake came professionally packaged and included a crush washer. The machining and finish were all  top notch. Taking my first look at the device I identified it as a hybrid Brake/Comp affair with some fairly standard brake vents on the sides and compensator slots at 12 o’clock.

2013-06-17 17.07.22

Although the instructions suggest a gunsmith install, installation was fairly easy. I only had one snag and that was with the timing of the device with the crush washer supplied. After hand tightening to the washer I put 360 degrees of turn on it and the washer still wasn’t crushed entirely. Rather than pushing my luck (or eating time sanding down the washer), I backed off and tried a different crush washer I had laying about. With that washer a 360 degree turn resulted in full crush and 12 o’clock timing of the comp slots.

2013-06-17 19.58.58

I’ve had my rifle out with it a few times since I installed it, but it took me till today to finally got around to getting some film.

Don’t let my shooting ability be your gauge for this brakes effectiveness ;). I’m happy with my results at 10 yds on a 2″ target (those would all be head shots on a standard silhouette) but I’m wagering that a better shooter than me could really show some impressive results. The recoil and rise with this thing on are almost nill. While the angle isn’t the greatest for comparison, the following video was shot with a standard A2 birdcage. You can see a bit of difference in how the rifle handled between the two.

I know that the standard line regarding brakes is that the noise/blast to the sides can make you a bad neighbor on the firing line, and there is some additional blast compared to the A2. But from behind the gun I feel almost no difference at all.

If you are in the market for a brake/comp the VG6 is definitely worth your while taking a look at.

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change less…train more

The good folks over at ITS Tactical posted up the following:

ITS Tactical iPad Lock Screen Wallpaper
ITS Tactical iPad Lock Screen Wallpaper (Photo credit: mikepetrucci)

Gun Fighting is a Skill That Requires More Training, Not More Information

Whenever people ask me how they can shoot like a Navy SEAL, I always say the same thing: dry fire, lots and LOTS of dry fire. I never mention any particular technique or any of the well known fundamentals of marksmanship. Nope, what you need to do is train. Sure there are plenty of great little tricks out there and I’m always trying to acquire new tools for my toolbox (actually, not to brag but I’ve got more of a tool shed than a box), but no matter what skill or technique I’m working on, I’m working.

Read the rest.

I agree with the authors premise. At some point in a persons technical/tactical development they should start to be less concerned with searching for the latest techniques/gear/etc and focus on practicing what they have already been taught.

Todays information age almost makes it too easy to find books, videos, youtube, websites and blogs offering all sorts of ideas, techniques and products for you to pick up. The problem is many people spend more time LOOKING for the latest trend than they do actually DOING something.

The person shooting at paper on a static range is better off than the “internet SEAL” who likes to discuss force on force training but hardly ever pulls a trigger IMO. The person in the gym doing “ineffective” training is at least getting some training. The person debating the benefits of Crossfit over P90X who never gets off the couch would be better off just knocking out some push-ups and going out for a walk.

What have you actually DONE today?

full-time attitude

English: A Picture of FBI SWAT officers. Origi...
English: A Picture of FBI SWAT officers. Origionally from http://buffalo.fbi.gov/specialty_programs.htm (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Having just completed a tactical leaders course I found myself revisiting a thought that crosses my mind from time to time about police tactical units and training. By a pretty large percentage, most police SWAT teams are “part-time”, meaning that the officers train 1-2 days a month and otherwise work as patrolmen, detectives, etc as their “full-time” job.

The thing that I seldom see addressed, in SWAT courses, literature or even over a beer with others in the tactical circles, is the issue of “off-duty” training. There’s plenty of talk about what “should be trained”, how vital PT is and how perishable weapon skills are, but WHEN is seldom addressed. Face it, formation running or group PT during a training day is nothing more than a team building exercise if your operators are not conducting physical conditioning on their own. Weapon proficiency of a SWAT standard isn’t going to be honed with the range time a part-time team gets. If a tactical unit member wants to seriously consider himself an “operator” he needs to have a “full-time attitude”. Just putting on your ACU’s and going off to your monthly training isn’t enough. Being “elite” isn’t a uniform or duty assignment, it’s what you DO. If you are only thinking about improving yourself 1-2 days out of the month than you are “part-time” between your ears.

The problem is…not all team members have the time, facilities, money or (sadly sometimes) the interest to pursue weapons training on their own “dime”. Add to it the fact that many departments (or certain key members within departments) are so risk/lawsuit averse that they wont give the departments stamp of approval to any training activity not supervised by department trainers and the result is many operators only shooting when their department provides it. Sure they get more trigger time than their co-workers who are not on the team, but not enough IMO.

Many of the best shooters I have met were good because of their personal interest in shooting/hunting. They would probably be good shooters even if they had never become cops. Fortunately many of those “types” are drawn to tactical teams within PD’s, but there are other SWAT coppers who, while not as “gun-nutty” as their brethren, would still love to shoot/train more often but are not provided with any sort of official support from their PD’s.

If it were a “my way” world and money were no object, I would love to see things like these available;

-PD ranges ran like civilian gun clubs where officers could go at anytime and shoot with department provided ammo/targets/gear.
-Departments providing their operators with take home training gear like SIRT Pistols, and/or training magazines, timers and dry-fire curriculum.
-The ability to use ranges, simulators or other department facilities without the approval of a Captain, two lieutenants, a sergeant and a letter from your mother. “If you build it they will come”…

In the end though, there are no excuses. There are things you can and should be doing ON YOUR OWN to keep up your skills.

the stuff that’s out there (aka caveat emptor)

The popularity of tactical firearms training is on the rise. Thanks to the internet, people looking for instruction in weaponcraft have many sources to refer to and training groups are easy to find with a simple “Google”.

That being said…do your due diligence. Research the people you are considering training with and compare them to other sources. Take a look at this video:

This is the same group/guy mentioned over a papadeltabravo.com back in 2010.

One would think that with all the stuff available for the watching on the net, that these people would have been exposed to videos like this:

Nuff said?? I know that not all the students are going to look as sharp as the instructor, but compare the stuff they are teaching and how they are teaching it.

Now…when if you come across a web page advertising instruction in “tactical firearms” and see the teacher has all sorts of tactical/LE/military credentials, and you see the first video as a sample, wouldn’t you be skeptical when you know that guys in the second video are out there teaching too?

jack of all trades?

Japanese helm and armor, from Metropolitan Mus...
Image via Wikipedia
I just read this passage from the Hagakure:

There are many people who, by being attached to a martial art and taking apprentices, believe that they have arrived at the full stature of a warrior. But it is a regrettable thing to put forth much effort and in the end become an “artist.” In artistic technique it is good to learn to the extent that you will not be lacking. In general, a person who is versatile in many things is considered to be vulgar and to have only a broad knowledge of matters of importance.

The way I read it, Yamamoto Tsunetomo was saying that some people look at teaching, practicing or dedicating themselves in a martial art as the pinnacle of “warriorship” but that becoming an “artist” and being a “warrior” are two different things.

He furthermore says that when learning “artistic technique” it is good to learn only enough to be proficient, but he says that only having a broad knowledge of matters of importance is “vulgar”.

I am a bit confused by this passage. The first part, where he says that it would be “regrettable” to become an artist, I think I understand. It seems to me that he is saying “look..a warrior USES martial arts to accomplish his goals…martial arts do not define the warrior. Don’t get so involved in practicing the martial arts that you forget what your job is.”

I tend to agree with that sentiment. I have stated repeatedly in my writings here that I think that simply teaching or training in a martial art doesnt place you in the “warrior class“. If you want to BE a warrior, you have to get out there and put your ass on the line FOR something. Enlist, become a Fireman, an EMT, a cop, join the Peace Corps…get out there and DO something. Even if you have no martial arts experience I believe that you are closer to being a “warrior” than someone who goes to the corner dojo twice a week.

The people who hone their martial skills, the citizens who attend every firearms school from Blackwater to Gunsite…they are training in the “warrior arts” or perhaps trying to live “AS a warrior”, which is perfectly fine and honorable. Many of them are simply enjoying a hobby, some are preparing themselves to be self-sufficient in defensive skills, and myrid other legitimate reasons. Then there are some who think that practicing the skills of the warrior somehow “makes” them a warrior, but paying to learn all the skills and techniques of a Navy SEAL isnt the “same as” BEING a Navy SEAL.

So I agree…being an “artist” and being a “warrior” are different things. Then again, perhaps I am simply interpreting this writing to match my opinion because Tsunetomo goes on to say:

In artistic technique it is good to learn to the extent that you will not be lacking. In general, a person who is versatile in many things is considered to be vulgar and to have only a broad knowledge of matters of importance.

I can read the first part  in two ways. Either he is saying; “when you are an Artist you can “get away with” learning enough so as to not be lacking”. Or he is saying; “when you are a warrior who is learning an artistic technique it is best to not waste your time honing it too much to the detriment of other skills”.

I think that the last sentence tends to support the first interpretation. As if the writer is saying “well..if you are an Artist then learning enough to get by in many skills is all well and good, but being a generalist is vulgar.”

That tends to run contrary to my understanding of what “artist” means though. I would think that the “artist” would be concerned with refining and honing every minutiae of technique, while the warrior has many skills he/she needs to do their job.

Then again perhaps the authors “artist” was different than our modern interpretation of the term. Maybe he was saying; “Martial Artists are interested in learning anything and everything to do with their art so they tend to learn just enough to be skillful in those many things. The Warrior should not worry about gaining many mediocre skills, he should focus on becoming expert at his necessary skills (i.e. swordsmanship, archery, horesmanship etc.).”

To make a modern military analogy, this is like saying a “military artist” would be someone who tries to learn about everything; artillery, airborne operations, naval operations, intelligence, infantry tactics, armor etc. As such the “military artist” gains a broad but shallow knowledge of all these skills. Its as if Tsunetomo is saying “dont be a Military Artist…focus on your infantry skills. You may not know squat about Tank Warfare but you will be an Infantry expert.”

I wish that Tsunetomo was around so I could ask him to clarify. Does anybody else have an interpretation of this passage that differs from mine?

Any way you interpret it, this passage raises some interesting thoughts about the relationship between your “mission” and your training goals.


TacStrike Steel Target

A few months ago I decided to upgrade my range toys with a stationary steel target. What I wanted was something I could leave out permanently..at least over the summer/fall..instead of having to hump a plate steel gong downrange every-time I go out shooting.

After a little research I went with a 12″ x 12″ 3/4″ thick AR450 plate from TacStrike. It was in my budget range and was advertised as a “leave it out” target…exactly what I was looking for.

It took a few weeks to get it, but Rob at TacStrike was upfront with his production timeline and kept in contact with me via e-mail to assure me my item was on the way. On arrival my target looked like this:

This bad boy is HEAVY and is designed to be driven into the ground. I wanted to have the target closer to COM height so I drilled some holes in the angle iron stake and bolted it to a piece of 4″ X 4″ fence post:

Last Friday I finally had an opportunity to take it out to the range. I drove a steel fence post spike into the ground at an angle and mounted the post. I then had at it from about 75 yards:

Firing 55 gr Hornady FMJBT over 26.3 gr of W748, this target simply DESTROYED the projectiles, and because of the target angle (a little steeper than I really wanted…but Oh Well) all of the debris went right to the foot of the post:

If there’s any “wish” about this target I would make, it’s that I wish it would “ring” a bit louder. The rounds are so completely pulverized that many of them just make a flat “THWACK!!!” when they hit. But I believe that’s simply a fact of physics vs anything to do with the target.

All in all I’m very happy with this item. I only wish I had more ammo to burn. If you are looking for some steel give the folks over at TacStrike a look.