Use This Drill To Get Better At Shooting

The 5 x 5 Drill is designed to be conducted on our Kill Zone Target. This drill can be done from any range between 3-25 yards but we would recommend 3-5 yards to start out.  The starting position for this drill is the holstered position.  If you are at a range that doesn’t allow draws you can start from the presented position.

Shooting Drill of the Week (DoW)

The Kill Zone Target is available through our website. 

For more drills, check out our shooting drills page.

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Should I Carry A Backup Gun?

velocityblack1
The RE Factor Tactical Holster and Mag Extensions
The author's Sig P320 Carry and Subcompact.
The author’s Sig P320 Carry and Subcompact.

So this debate started in the Team Room, and I think it deserves a little more attention than you can really give it in the comments of a Facebook post.  The original question asked if people carried more than one gun, and then had a second question about pocket carry.  I probably won’t get too deep into the pocket carry question, but the backup gun question deserves some thought.

A quick Google search of “should I carry a backup gun” will turn up quite a few articles, most pro-backup, but some against.  Usually, it coincides with articles about whether or not to purchase Concealed Carry Insurance.  Most of the pro-backup articles are written by police officers and draw heavily from the work of Massad Ayoob, and his research into actual incidents involving officers and civilians using backup guns (if you haven’t read Ayoob, you should, mostly because when he states an opinion, he backs it up with actual events that support said opinion).  That said, just because the internet says so doesn’t mean that you – the only person who can make a decision for you – should carry two guns.  Let’s take a quick look at both sides.

A backup gun provides you with another option if your gun fails.  By fails, I don’t just mean a jam, because there is a pretty good chance you could clear a malfunction faster than you could draw a second gun depending on its location.  By fails, I mean that either the gun is mechanically broken internally, or the gun has been mechanically disabled by an external force such as a bullet.  And yes, it has happened.  You won’t fix that, not in a gunfight.  You won’t.  That leaves you with two options: beat the assailant with your somewhat inadequate club, or draw another weapon, whether gun or knife (in the states that a concealed fixed blade is legal).  If the fight is still at a distance, a second gun provides a much better option than a knife.

A backup gun provides you with another option if you can’t access your primary gun, whether due to your seatbelt, being pinned by the assailant, or if your normal firing hand is disabled.  Having a second gun in a separate location can provide some relief to this issue.  Ayoob provides an example of an individual choosing to placing a backup gun in his overcoat pocket while he transited from his vehicle to a building, while his primary gun was under the coat, presumably to be carried when he was in the building with his overcoat off.  The gun ended up saving his life when he was attacked between the vehicle and building.

Two excellent backups: Glock 26 in 9mm with a G19 backup mag, and a Glock 42 in .380 ACP.
Two excellent backups: Glock 26 in 9mm with a G19 backup mag, and a Glock 42 in .380 ACP.

A backup gun provides you with the option to arm a second person, like your buddy who is trained but decided that today – of all days – he wasn’t going to carry.  He may not like being handed your subcompact, but hey, it beats nothing.

So we talked about three advantages.  Obviously, though, carrying a second gun has drawbacks.  There’s the weight issue.  Even with a subcompact gun, you’re adding weight.  There’s the issue of having a place to put it.  In the summer, in shorts and a t-shirt, you are quite short on places to stash a gun, much less two.  And even if you can find a place, you may find yourself being extra paranoid about printing or exposing.  Plus, if you carry a med kit, flashlight, knife, etc., each of those burns up real estate.  And then there’s the weight issue again.  I did actually read one article that stated that he was afraid of carrying a second gun because it might look bad to any police officer he had to talk to.  To be honest, I’m not going to care.  Unless there is a law against it, I’ll carry whatever I feel like, and it’s not really the cop’s business what I’m carrying.  I’ll be polite, but it’s not his business.

The Best Revolver for Concealed Carry [2019]

So now that we’ve briefly talked about both sides of the issue, what about if you have definitely decided to carry a backup, at least in certain cases?  Well, first you have to really think about what you’re going to carry.  Revolvers have always been favorite for backup, owing to their simplicity, but they will have a different operating system that your regular carry (albeit quite simple) and capacity is limited.  Carrying a subcompact version of your carry/duty gun is also a good option, as the controls will be the same, and you can feed it from your standard capacity mags.  Then there is the pocket pistol option.  While they will be much easier to conceal, they are usually limited in size, and your standard mags won’t work in them.  While they may have a similar operating system, you are also sacrificing some long shot accuracy and control, but if the assailant is on top of you, better the gun you have than the gun you don’t.

Top Rated Concealed Carry Backpacks [2019]

Second – where to carry.  I’ve seen people carry their backups in their waist cross draw or appendix, on their ankles, on

Two backups in ankle holsters: a Smith 642 in .38 Special +P, and a Glock 26 in 9mm.
Two backups in ankle holsters: a Smith 642 in .38 Special +P, and a Glock 26 in 9mm.

Their armor, and in their pockets.  The main thing I would be concerned with is access.  How am I going to get to this if my primary is disabled, if my gun hand is injured, if I’m on my back if I’m pinned in my car?  Those are the instances you are most likely to need the gun, so you’d better have it in an accessible spot.

I can’t tell you whether you should carry a backup, only you can decide that.  Think through the advantages and disadvantages, analyze your individual situation, then make that decision for yourself.

Oh, and if you do carry a backup, you’d better be practicing with it just like you would with your primary.

Be safe.

Best Concealed Carry Insurance 2019

Joel is a 12 year veteran of the US Coast Guard, where he has served in various units including the International Training Division and Maritime Security Response Team. He has held qualifications including Deployable Team Leader/Instructor, Direct Action Section Team Leader, and Precision Marksman – Observer. He has deployed/instructed on five continents and served in quick reaction force roles for multiple National Special Security Events in the US. He is the owner of Hybrid Defensive Strategies, LLC in Chesapeake, VA, and can be contacted on Facebook and Instagram. Any opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the US Coast Guard or the US Government.

Once Again, France Finds Itself The Victim of Terrorism

Proving that terrorists can and will use any available means to achieve carnage, Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel used a rental truck to kill 84 people on July 14th as they were celebrating Bastille Day.  Of the 84 victims, 10 were children.  A photo taken from the scene and shared widely around the world showed a doll laying next to a covered body.

France has responded by expanding its emergency declaration another three months (it was supposed to end later this month).  In addition, the French president has called upon “all patriotic citizens” to join the reserve forces.  France currently has 120,000 police and military members deployed around the country.  The reserves will add 12,000 to that number.

Terrorism Strikes Bangladesh

I personally find it interesting that the president is essentially calling for citizens to take responsibility for their security.  France’s gun laws prohibit the idea of citizens arming themselves for defense, but he’s essentially suggesting the same argument that pro-Second Amendment individuals make – there aren’t enough police (and military in their case, they don’t have Posse Comitatus) to adequately protect everyone, everywhere, every time.  So let’s take a journey into the Good Idea Fairy’s cave for a bit.  Stick with me, it’s likely to get convoluted.  And yes, I realize that what I’m proposing below is a bit of pie-in-the-sky idealism – humor me.

Chesapeake Police Auxiliary
Chesapeake Police Auxiliary

Within the United States, if take a look at the tiers of our security system you have federal agencies at the national level (FBI, DEA, ATF, Border Patrol, HSI, etc.), the National Guard (working under state control), state and local agencies, and the reserves and auxiliaries of the state and local agencies.  What I’m most concerned with is presence at the scene of an attack when the attack occurs.  As far as straight boots on the ground presence, we can pretty much discount the federal agencies.  Their mandate is primarily prevention via investigation, so they’re not likely to be walking a beat.  If you do happen to have a federal agent walking a beat in front of your house, you may want to consider lawyering up or at least denying intent.

Military Readiness In The Age of Terrorism

Now to the National Guard.  I see three issues with counting on the National Guard: first, no governor is going to call out (and pay for) the National Guard unless there is an incredibly specific threat.  Second, the National Guard can be federalized, meaning that at any given time, the National Guard might not even be physically present in their state.  There was actually a great deal of concern about this during the height of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, as governors expressed their concern that their units were deployed and unavailable for disaster response.  Third, only very specific National Guard units are actually trained for anything resembling police action.  Can they be trained?  Absolutely.  Is anyone going to put in the effort given the other two issues?  I don’t know.

So now that we’ve eliminated two levels of security, we’re down to state and local agencies.  Once again, we come to the same funding issue we had with the National Guard.  As we’ve seen in the last few weeks with cities responding to attacks on police by doubling up officers on calls, eventually you run out of overtime money or officers that can sustain the schedule.  Multiple police chiefs have been on the news alluding to this negative effect on their ability to respond.  And let’s be honest, for all the politicians’ talk about making their cities safer, hiring more police usually gets knocked down pretty quick when budgets get tight.  Please don’t take that as a knock on officers – they’re doing the best they can with what they have, but when cities still won’t issue carbines or level IV plates to their officers and force them to purchase their own, chances of a hiring spree are slim.  Realistically, without the ability to hire more officers, localities will be forced to rely on citizens to provide for their own security and assist in providing security for others.

Chesapeake Police Auxiliary
Chesapeake Police Auxiliary

So now we’re down to the reserves and auxiliaries of the police forces.  Right about now is when I’m going to get into the pie-in-the-sky stuff.  Reserves are much less expensive than regular officers.  They volunteer, meaning there is no recurring salary cost to the city or county.  They also don’t get the full medical coverage that regular officers get, so there’s more money saved.  Their inexpensiveness makes them ideal for working big events or just plussing up undermanned shifts.  In my mind, reserves are an underutilized asset to increase presence.

That’s not to say there aren’t possible issues.  First off, the quality of reserves varies widely from department to department.  Where I live, the reserve officers go through the same academy as the active officers, are required to work minimum hours each quarter, and are held to the same continuing education standards as regular officers.  On the other hand, you have small-town sheriffs handing out badges to friends and donors.  That’s typically how someone gets shot.  Somewhere in the middle, you have chiefs and sheriffs who allow highly qualified individuals (read “SOF guys with free time”) to work specialty details such as high-risk warrants.  Second, you have to get a really motivated person with free time who’s willing to give up making money to volunteer.  That’s not especially easy.  I’ve worked with volunteer disaster response and search and rescue organizations, and the roster is always longer than the roll call.  Third, there’s the issue of the gray areas.  What exactly happens to a reserve officer injured on the job?  Often he hasn’t paid into insurance, but I’ve seen promises of workman’s compensation.  How exactly does that work, and what are the limits to a claim?

How to Identify Terrorist Profiles and Radicalization paths

So what could be done to make reserves a better option for departments?  Well, an obvious recruitment strategy is to offer benefits.  Not full pay, otherwise they’re no longer cheaper, but discounted health insurance could be a draw, especially as the Affordable Care Act costs increase.  Departments could also offer a partial pay system, where officers are paid for any hours worked above the minimum or paid in case of “emergency recall.”  Offering chances to work in specialty squads could also appeal to those looking for a challenge.  Chances to work detective, warrants, or even SWAT for deserving officers could make volunteers really want to put in the hours to gain the experience necessary to qualify.  Right now those opportunities vary widely between departments, even in the area I live in, with one department opening up all but two squads (Mounted and K-9), and the other only allowing patrol work (with both armed single and accompanied patrols).

New York Naval Militia on patrol.
New York Naval Militia on patrol.

Now, since we’ve discussed recruiting, let’s talk about standards.  If you want this program to actually work, the reserve officers MUST be held to the same standards as regular officers, including the initial academy, physical fitness, field training, and continuing education.  It ABSOLUTELY CANNOT become the fat old rich donor’s club.  Treat reserve officers like adults and not like children or specially entitled individuals, and I think the results might be surprising.

In the chaos that is my mind, this talk of standards leads me to one final option that we haven’t discussed at all as of yet – State Defense Forces (called by differing titles in the states that authorize them including Militia, Military Reserve, and State Guard).  Authorized in 1955 and currently governed by 32 USC 109, State Defense Forces (SDF) are essentially the reserves to the National Guard.  Members are subject to exclusively state jurisdiction (the governor), may only be called up within their own state, and may not be members of any military branch, reserve, or the National Guard.  As with police reserves, the rules governing SDFs vary widely state to state, as do training and standards.  Some states use SDFs as a backfill in professional roles (legal, medical, etc.), and other states have actually established memorandum with federal agencies to augment active duty and National Guard forces.  Physical standards may or may not exist, and very few SDFs conduct weapons qualifications, at least from what I have found.  In Virginia, their primary role is to work disaster response

Virginia Defense Force
Virginia Defense Force

(communications, damage assessment, dispensing supplies) and light (unarmed) crowd control at scheduled events.

As with the police reserves, SDFs have a lot of potential, if their state actually wants to put the time and effort into training and using them.  Many SDFs do actually pay members when called to state active duty, so that is a draw.  Other recruitment programs could include discounted healthcare, or college loan payoffs and discounted tuition (the New York Naval Militia actually has a tuition assistance program in place).  Standards would have to be enforced.  SDFs have developed a reputation (probably unfairly, but not entirely unfounded) for being the place where retired service members go to relive the glory days.  There needs to be a real effort to recruit younger individuals with relevant skills – everything from IT to legal to medical to just a person who wants to get trained to help.  And there needs to be a real effort to develop useful qualifications and hold members accountable.  Maybe SDFs could even partner with community colleges and trade schools to train members in trade skills with free tuition in exchange for volunteer hours.

I still believe that the cornerstone of an effective national defense is a responsibly armed citizenry.  However, I also think there is a lot that state and local governments could be doing to effectively utilize the responsibly armed citizenry within their jurisdictions to increase security without overwhelming their budgets.  Working with the populace instead of treating them like children that need to be monitored is in the best interest of both parties.

About the author

Joel is a 12 year veteran of the US Coast Guard, where he has served at various units including the International Training Division and Maritime Security Response Team. He has held qualifications including Deployable Team Leader/Instructor, Direct Action Section Team Leader, and Precision Marksman – Observer. He has deployed/instructed on five continents and served in quick reaction force roles for multiple National Special Security Events in the US. He is the owner of Hybrid Defensive Strategies, LLC in Chesapeake, VA, and can be contacted on Facebook and Instagram. Any opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the US Coast Guard or the US Government.

Terrorism Strikes Bangladesh

Holey Artisan Bakery's Facebook Page
Holey Artisan Bakery’s Facebook Page

On Friday, July 1st, five gunmen from a domestic Bangladeshi terrorist group known as Jumatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh (JMB) stormed the Holey Artisan Bakery and Cafe in Dhaka

and took hostages, holding them for twelve hours before commandos from the Rapid Action Battalion successfully ended the siege.  Four of the attackers were killed, one is being questioned.  Twenty hostages were killed by the attackers – nine Italians, seven Japanese, an Indian, an American and two local men.  Two police officers were also killed during the response.

During the siege, the gunmen sorted the hostages – taking foreigners upstairs while leaving locals downstairs.  Hostages were told to recite verses from the Quran.  Those who could recite them survived and were even fed by the attackers.  Those who could not were tortured and killed.  The sorting of hostages is not unusual, as it has been seen before in terror attacks, including Kenya (at least twice) and Mali.

How to Identify Terrorist Profiles and Radicalization paths

Map of Bangladesh with Dhaka indicated. CIA World Factbook
Map of Bangladesh with Dhaka indicated. CIA World Factbook

While the government of Bangladesh continues to insist that this attack was entirely homegrown, media outlets affiliated with Daesh released pre-attack photos of the attackers standing in front of a Daesh flag, as well as photos of dead hostages taken during the siege, allegedly with their own phones.  JMB has previously pledged allegiance to Daesh, while a rival domestic group – Ansarullah Bangla Team – has pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda.

Two things are interesting to note: first, this attack, as well as other recent ones around the world, demonstrates a phenomenon that CNN has raised and that I mentioned in an earlier article.  As Daesh continues to lose ground in Iraq (and to a significantly lesser extent Syria), instead of capitulating, they will merely flow to other regions to re-establish and re-assert themselves.  Second is that this particular attack furthers the trend of radical Islamic groups attracting higher educated, middle-class recruits.  Four of the five attackers were from middle class or higher families, including one who had connections to the ruling political party.  None showed any indicators of radicalization until they disappeared prior to the attack.  A recent study by Queen Mary University of London demonstrated that three major risk factors for violent radicalization were youth, wealth, and being in full-time education.  Many of the recruits that attempted to travel from Europe to Syria and Iraq to fight for Daesh fit the profile, as do many of al-Qaeda’s founding members and leaders.  According to CNN, as

Female Peshmerga soldiers conduct a live fire exercise under the supervision and instruction of British and Dutch soldiers near Erbil, Iraq, March 7, 2016. Female Peshmerga soldiers attend a three-week basic infantry course intended to improve their tactical knowledge to aid in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and allow Peshmerga to work in an environment where a female presence is needed. Erbil is one of five Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve building partner capacity locations dedicated to training Iraqi Security Forces. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Jessica Hurst/ Released)
Female Peshmerga soldiers conduct a live fire exercise under the supervision and instruction of British and Dutch soldiers near Erbil, Iraq, March 7, 2016. Female Peshmerga soldiers attend a three-week basic infantry course intended to improve their tactical knowledge to aid in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and allow Peshmerga to work in an environment where a female presence is needed. Erbil is one of five Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve building partner capacity locations dedicated to training Iraqi Security Forces. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Jessica Hurst/ Released)

many as 70% of Daesh’s recruits are middle class, most with no real religious affiliation prior to radicalization.  Traditional models of terror recruitment suggest lower educated or religiously educated recruits.  The Obama administration has even alluded to the same in speeches, although that premise was challenged almost immediately.

Despite proclamations of loss of territory by Daesh, they are still alive, and they still have a global reach.  And while our focus is on Daesh currently, al-Qaeda is still out there kicking, and competing with Daesh for dominance.  While they may not have the reach they once did, several affiliates are actively plotting, and it’s only a matter of time before we hear from them again.  Both groups will continue to seek out opportunities to strike inside America, whether through a directed strike or an inspired one.  While our special operations forces take the fight to them overseas, our first responders and responsibly armed citizens must be ready to face them here as well.

Military Readiness In The Age of Terrorism

About the author

Joel is a 12 year veteran of the US Coast Guard, where he has served at various units including the International Training Division and Maritime Security Response Team. He has held qualifications including Deployable Team Leader/Instructor, Direct Action Section Team Leader, and Precision Marksman – Observer. He has deployed/instructed on five continents and served in quick reaction force roles for multiple National Special Security Events in the US. He is the owner of Hybrid Defensive Strategies, LLC in Chesapeake, VA, and can be contacted on Facebook and Instagram. Any opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the US Coast Guard or the US Government.

Here’s a Little Story about Washington Crossing the Delaware

You guys seem pretty psyched about RE Factor’s new line of “modernized” art, especially the Colonial Maritime Raid Force.  Since July 4th is coming up, I thought it might be fitting to talk a little about the story behind the original painting Washington Crossing the Delaware River.

(Metropolitan Museum of Art)
(Metropolitan Museum of Art)

In late 1776, George Washington’s Continental Army had suffered a series of damaging losses. British General George Howe had driven Washington’s army out of Manhattan, into New Jersey, and finally across the Delaware into Pennsylvania.  Over 90% of the Continental Army was lost to disease, battle, or desertion.  Washington’s remaining troops’ enlistments were set to expire at the end of the year.  In those days there was no stop-loss.  When an enlistment ran out, men went home.  A general could wake up to find that his entire fighting force had gone home, and he had no remedy other than personal magnetism or more money.  Washington was in a bad place, and he knew it.  He also knew that just across the river sat around 1,400 Hessian mercenaries in Trenton, New Jersey, and he outnumbered them.  A victory could dramatically improve morale, convince his men to remain, and also bolster the Continental Congress’ foreign ambassadors as they attempted to convince France and other nations to support America’s struggle for independence.

Washington actually planned a tightly timed three-pronged attack consisting of Washington’s troops hitting Trenton from the north, troops under General James Ewing cutting off escape routes to the south, and militia under Colonel John Cadwalader cutting off reinforcements.  The attack was planned for the morning of December 26th, with the army crossing the river under the cover of darkness at 2300 on December 25th.  Unfortunately, as with any plan, the environment gets a vote, and on the night of the 25th, a nor’easter descended on Washington’s troops as they crossed the river.  Despite the crossing only being approximately 300 yards, the army’s movements were hampered by the frozen river and savage storm.  The planned attack got so far behind that at one point, the General considered canceling it.  Unknown to him, the delay actually worked in his favor.  The Hessian troops had been warned of an attack to commence at midnight.  When the army did not materialize as expected, they let down their guard.  The four-hour weather delay, which also prevented Washington’s two other columns from crossing the Delaware in time for the attack, may have actually saved the maneuver.  Washington’s troops, accompanied by artillery under the command of Colonel Henry Knox, attacked at 0800.  The Hessian commander was killed, and the Continental Army captured almost 1,000 enemy troops.

After the battle, Washington retreated back across the river into Pennsylvania.  On December 31st, he re-took Trenton, then moved north, where they defeated three British regiments in separate engagements before taking up winter quarters in Morristown, New Jersey.

From a tactical perspective, Washington’s victories were not tide-turning, at least not in the physical sense.  Washington was still outnumbered with a poorly supplied army.  But from a moral standpoint, these victories were key.  They proved that the Continental army could indeed stand up to British regulars and win, and most likely prevented the total collapse of the enterprise.

The Father of the American Navy

The actual painting titled Washington Crossing the Delaware River wasn’t painted until 1851 by German artist Emanual Leutze, who may have taken a few artistic liberties with the painting.  Leutze was less concerned with an accurate depiction of the even than he was with creating an idolized, inspiring picture of General Washington, which he did succeed in accomplishing.  The painting is arguably one of the most famous American history paintings, and hangs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

RE Factor has taken a few more artistic liberties with the painting, and updated it with some more modern military elements.  Check it out in the RE Factor store!

Further reading:

http://philadelphiaencyclopedia.org/archive/trenton-and-princeton-campaign-washingtons-crossing/

http://www.mountvernon.org/george-washington/the-revolutionary-war/the-trenton-princeton-campaign/10-facts-about-washingtons-crossing-of-the-delaware-river/

http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/washington-crosses-the-delaware

About the author

Joel is a 12 year veteran of the US Coast Guard, where he has served at various units including the International Training Division and Maritime Security Response Team. He has held qualifications including Deployable Team Leader/Instructor, Direct Action Section Team Leader, and Precision Marksman – Observer. He has deployed/instructed on five continents and served in quick reaction force roles for multiple National Special Security Events in the US. He is the owner of Hybrid Defensive Strategies, LLC in Chesapeake, VA, and can be contacted on Facebook and Instagram. Any opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the US Coast Guard or the US Government.