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Massad Ayoob on Guns

Want to Comment on a blog post? Look for and click on the blue No Comments or # Comments at the end of each post.


Friday, October 24th, 2014 by Mas | 2 Comments »

A few weeks ago in Arkansas, I was teaching a 40-hour class for armed citizens and off duty cops. The course finishes with a tough written exam on deadly force law and tactics, and a 60-shot live fire qualification encompassing dominant hand only, non-dominant hand only, speed reloads, shooting from cover positions, and cetera.  Before the students shoot, the staff runs a “pace-setter”: we shoot the timed course of fire while they watch, so they can get a good mental image of what the stances and techniques they’re expected to perform look like, and how fast they’ll have to do it to score well.  Given that there are fixed time limits, this also lets the observers kinda “set their internal clock.”  Part of the incentive is, whatever score I shoot, if the student ties me they get an autographed dollar bill inscribed, “You tied me at my own game,” and if they outshoot me, they earn an autographed five-dollar bill that says, “You beat me at my own game.”

Nothing makes me prouder of my students than giving them one of those dollar bills. I confess, however, to mixed feelings about having to pay out a fiver.  On the one hand, as I tell them beforehand, there’s no greater compliment a student can pay an instructor than to outperform the teacher in the skill being taught.  On the other hand, there’s the personal excoriation of “Oh, crap, I blew it!”

I normally shoot it with a perfect 300 out of 300 points score, as I damn well should, having run this course for decades.  But – less than half an hour after telling them to stay at a “conscious competence” level and think about every shot as they’re squeezing it off, I violated my own rule and let myself slip into the “unconscious competence” mode sometimes called “automatic pilot.”  The sight alignment was hard and solid from the fifteen yard line, but my stance wasn’t quite perfect for natural point of aim apparently, and about the time that I saw the well-aligned sights had drifted to the right and realized that I was automatically pressing the trigger, there was a very brief instant when I thought, “The sights need to come more left but my finger is pressing the trigger and”  — BANG!

The sights told me the story before I saw the bullet hole: I had broken the shot prematurely with the gun aligned to 3 o’clock of where I needed the shot to go, and that was exactly where the 230 grain Winchester .45 ACP hardball bullet hit…just outside the maximum 5-point zone and into the four-point zone.  I did what I should have done beforehand, and turned off the auto pilot and went back to conscious competence – thinking about what I was doing.  The rest of the shots went center, but I finished with a 299 out of 300…and yes, that cost me more than one five-dollar bill.


Sunday, October 19th, 2014 by Mas | 14 Comments »

In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School atrocity of December 2012, anti-gun politicians fell over themselves ramrodding poorly crafted legislation into law, in the vain hope that Kool-Aid flavored Band-Aids would somehow cure a societal cancer.  Second only to Governor Cuomo in New York in this respect, was Governor Hickenlooper in Colorado.

When was the last time you saw the majority of sheriffs in their state sue their own Governor over poorly crafted, unenforceable law?  Well, the Colorado fiasco comes most readily to mind. Having had some small part in that litigation, as an expert witness retained to speak for the sheriffs’ side of the case, I have no argument at all with the following cogent analysis by Larry Keane of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.  Thanks to Jim Shepherd at The Shooting Wire for sending it along: .


Thursday, October 16th, 2014 by Mas | 10 Comments »

In recent blog entries here, I touched on the two days of the Gun Rights Policy Conference in Chicago last month.

It’s official: you can now listen to the entire presentation yourself, with audio links here courtesy of the Second Amendment Foundation: .

There’s LOTS of good stuff here.  I was proud to have had a small part of it, on the Gun-Free Zones panel.  As usual at GRPCs, I gained far more knowledge than I dispensed.

Next year’s GRPC will be in Phoenix, Arizona the last full weekend of September 2015. Being someplace where you can carry while attending makes it … better.


Friday, October 10th, 2014 by Mas | 40 Comments »

            I recently passed through Waco, Texas and had a chance to kick one more item off the bucket list: a visit to the Texas Ranger Museum there.

            As a little boy in the 1950s one of my favorite TV shows was “Tales of the Texas Rangers.” I can’t remember a single plot-line now, but I do recall the strong emphasis on old-fashioned ideals of justice…and I thought it was pretty cool that each Ranger carried a pair of fancy Smith & Wessons.

            Live and learn: I hadn’t known until the visit that some two dozen Texas Rangers died at the Alamo in 1836. TX_Ranger_01

            I expect the many horsemen and horsewomen among the Backwoods Home readership would have spent more time than I did on the fabulous display of saddles.  In my case, the only bronco I ever owned was a Ford product.  As you might imagine, I spent more time among the impressive gun collection.

            These brave men started out with single-shot muzzle-loaders for both their rifles and handguns, which shows how far back the organization goes. They were the first to use revolvers, the Patterson Colt of 1836. Its rapid fire capability proved to be a force multiplier, and Ranger Samuel Walker convinced Samuel Colt to make a larger and more powerful one, the legendary Walker Colt .44.  In the latter 1800s, they all but standardized on the Colt Single Action Army revolver and the lever-action Winchester rifle, and when the more powerful box magazine 1895 model came out, they flocked to them so fast that they are prevalent in pictures of Rangers during that period.

TX_Ranger_02The Texas Rangers may also have been the first law enforcement agency to (unofficially) adopt the Colt 1911 semiautomatic pistol as soon as it came out, and it remains hugely popular among the Rangers even today.

         Even before that, they were buying semiautomatic rifles as soon as they were TX_Ranger_03introduced, the Winchester 1907 and the Remington Model 8 which dates back to 1906.  While today’s Rangers are issued .357 SIGs and 5.56mm autoloading rifles, they still follow the tradition of carrying privately-owned, department approved handguns, and the 1911 remains a trademark of the Rangers.

            TX_Ranger_04More than perhaps any other agency, the culture of the Rangers encouraged fancy, personalized weapons. Perhaps it was an extension of their historical emphasis on individuality as a means of encouraging superior performance.TX_Ranger_05



Monday, October 6th, 2014 by Mas | 56 Comments »

I was in a conversation recently which turned in the direction of serpents, and not the two-legged kind.  I’ve never had to shoot a human being, but have found it necessary on occasion to dispatch poisonous snakes. Each time that happened, I was VERY glad to have a pistol on my person.

What’s the collective experience out there?  I’m no herpetologist, but I keep hearing from folks who live in rattlesnake country that today’s rattlers have learned to keep silent and not give warning before they strike.  True?

Please share experiences here.



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