Thursday, June 27, 2013

Adventures In Gun Training

"Survival isn't about stuff. It is about skills. If you have time and just a bit of money, then you can get some very well-rounded training in skills that are quite applicable to [survival] living." So says James Wesley, Rawles in his national bestseller How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It: Tactics, Techniques, and Technologies for Uncertain Times. Of course it doesn't have to be the end of the world for some firearms training to come in handy. Studying National Crime Victimization Survey data, criminologist Gary Kleck found that “robbery and assault victims who used a gun to resist were less likely to be attacked or to suffer an injury than those who used any other methods of self-protection or those who did not resist at all.”

I knew that my pistol skills have never been finely polished, so I decided to take Mr. Rawles advice and get some training. I've always enjoyed shooting rifles and trained on them in the Guard, but handguns have always kind of been an afterthought, even after I got my Iowa permit to carry weapons back in 2009.

I discovered Tactical Insights in Monticello when I took one of my sons to the Eddie Eagle Children’s Gun Safety Course that they put on in our town in January. Later I interviewed the owner, Corey D. Roberts, for my blog. [You can read Roberts' thoughts on various Second Amendment issues here: Interview Part 1 and Part 2.] When I read about their class Tactical Shooting for the Private Citizen Level 1 it sounded like just what I needed.

"[T]his course begins the transition of the shooter from a 2 dimensional world of putting holes in paper, to truly using a tactical mindset making the firearm a weapon and a tool," states the course description. All my previous pistol practice had been comprised of static target shooting. My permit to carry class dealt mostly with the legalities of carrying and Iowa self-defense law. I signed up and couldn't wait to learn some realistic defensive shooting tactics.

Roberts started the Tactical Shooting class with the basics. After a safety briefing he went through the fundamentals of gripping the pistol and stance. As it turned out, the "redneck shooting at cans" stance and grip that I had previously taught myself was less than optimal. I now had to unlearn those bad habits.

Roberts demonstrates a shooting drill.
After teaching a boatload of other pointers we were soon out on the range. Although we started out slow, the shooting was no mere standing and shooting at bulls eyes. For tactical shooting you have to move to keep the threat from getting a bead on you. Even simple shooting drills got the heart going. Before long we were shooting on the move.

Not only was I able to put myself through the paces, but my equipment as well. My old 1911 .45 pistol was found lacking. Roberts had said that he'd never had a 1911 shooter make it through one of his classes without having malfunctions. I did not change that streak. I also spent a lot of time fumbling with my safety, etc... Finally, once when I slapped a new mag into my .45 the floor plate busted right off the mag, sending ammunition and the mag spring launching onto the ground.

Corey took pity and let me borrow his .40 Glock 22 for the remainder of the class. I loved it! It performed flawlessly and was very simple to use. Although my gun budget is nearly nonexistent, I think my next purchase will have to be a Glock. (I think I'd prefer the smaller Glock 27 for concealed carry, if anyone is looking for a birthday present for me.)

Tactical Shooting for the Private Citizen Level 1 was supposed to be just pistol shooting. But since we were a very small class and since Roberts and his instructors didn't have to spend an exorbitant amount of time on, what they called, the "stop pointing that at me" portion of the class, we got to do a few things that weren't on the syllabus. We got to run a few three-gun drills with pistol, shotgun and carbine as well as shoot a few other weapons that the instructors brought in.

The author gets familiarized with the
Israeli Tavor rifle.

All in all I found the class very instructive as well as great fun. I absolutely learned more in eight hours than I ever did in a year's worth of Guard drills (and fired about three times as much live ammo). I left with many new techniques to practice at home and at the range as well as with a nicely illustrated study guide to take home and review when needed. Although I still consider myself a rifleman at heart, this class increased my confidence and competence with handguns immensely. It was well worth every penny.

If you're one of Iowa's growing legion of permit-to-carry holders or you just have an interest in defensive shooting and you want to move from "a 2 dimensional world of putting holes in paper, to truly using a tactical mindset making the firearm a weapon and a tool," then I recommend you find a Tactical Insights training course that fits your needs and take it.  Check them out here:
Photos courtesy of Tactical Insights L.L.C.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Floods of 2008 Revisited

It was 5 years ago today that flood waters crested in Cedar Rapids Iowa during the historic flood of '08. Here were my thoughts at the time. Originally posted a month later on 8-13-08.

A winter of near-record snowfalls here in Iowa, gave way to a spring in which we had our biggest tornado since 1976, wiping one town off the map and killing 7 people. Then, in July, Iowa saw its worst flooding since the Genesis deluge. This year's immoderate weather has given me ample reminder of why I hate Iowa. The response of Iowans has reminded me why I love it.

Flood waters on the Cedar River first hit the cities of Waterloo and Cedar Falls, knocking down bridges and flooding downtown areas. It then hit smaller towns like Vinton and Palo, flooding nearly the entire town, and lumbered onward toward the population center of Cedar Rapids.

Not to be outdone by rising flood waters, an Iowa twister suddenly lashed out, tearing through a Boy Scout camp, killing 4 young scouts and sending many more to the hospital.

Flood waters crept up on downtown Cedar Rapids engulfing first the "100 year flood plain," then the "500 year flood plain." Sandbagging the downtown area quickly proved to be futile and it was surrendered to the river. More than 3,900 homes had to be evacuated, creating over 24,000 homeless evacuees. Over 1300 city blocks were submerged under a river crest of 31.8 feet. (Flood stage is 12 feet.)

Damage to Iowa's lifeblood of crops was estimated at $2.7 billion. Property damages in Cedar Rapids alone were estimated at $736 million. Many talking heads on TV compared the Iowa floods to Hurricane Katrina.

There is one big difference between the two disasters though: Unlike New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco and their ilk, our local officials didn't stand there wringing their hands, wondering what George Bush was going to do about it. When the flood waters came, local officials, non-profit organizations and private citizens alike all rolled up their sleeves and did what they could.

When Cedar Rapids' last remaining fresh-water pumping station was in danger of being engulfed the city asked for volunteer sandbaggers through the local media. 600 to 1000 volunteers arrived en-mass, so many that most had to be turned away. (Actually they were sent to help evacuate the hospital.) On the news, I saw people being rescued from flood waters in private bassboats and motorized duck blinds. People were so busy helping their neighbors that they plumb forgot to loot.

In my own small town, the municipal water-treatment plant was nearly swamped. City leaders asked for help sandbagging. I took off work early and when I arrived at the fire station at 1 p.m. the work was already done and the numerous volunteers had been sent home.

Many of the small towns affected called out their biggest asset: unpaid, volunteer firefighters, who quickly changed their job description to floodfighters. Local police and county emergency personnel served admirably, as did the Iowa National Guard. Churches and non-profit groups like the Salvation Army sprang into action, setting up shelters for evacuees and feeding the masses.

FEMA was on hand, to be sure, offering whatever assistance it could, and U.S. Coast Guard rescue crews helped survivors. But it was clear that LOCAL officials were running the show. It's called federalism, Mayor Nagin. Look into it.

All in all I'm pretty proud of how my fellow Iowans handled the worst of times. Iowa may not have mountains or oceans, we may not have celebrity or diversity, we may not have Broadway lights or the Vegas Strip, and we may not have the French Quarter, but we've got good folks in these parts. That's good enough.

Post Topics

10 Questions with... abortion ACLU alcohol Alzheimer's Ames Straw Poll armed self defense assault weapons ban Audit the Fed Austin Petersen Barack Obama Ben Lange Beth Cody Between Two Rivers Bill Weld Bob Barr Bob Cashner books Bruce Braley Bruce Hunter Candidates Carl Olsen Cedar Rapids Gazette charity Chet Culver Christopher Peters Clel Baudler communism Confederate Flag Constitution Constitutional Convention Corey D. Roberts Crime Cristina Kinsella Dan Muhlbauer debt Declaration of Independence Democrat Party disasters Donald Trump drones drugs economy education elections Eric Cooper events Facebook Fast and Furious First Amendment food freedom foreign policy free markets freedom Gary Johnson gay marriage Glenn Beck gold gun control Gun Owners of America guns health care Hillary Clinton history Honey Creek Resort Iowa Iowa Caucus Iowa City Iowa Firearms Coalition Iowa First District Iowa Freedom Report Iowa Gun Owners Iowa Right To Life Jake Porter Joe Bolkom John Boehner John McAfee John McCain Judge Napolitano Keith Laube Lake Delhi law Lee Heib Lee Hein liberals Libertarian Party libertarianism marijuana Me media medical marijuana memes Memory Walk Michele Bachmann military Mom Nate Newsome Nick Taiber NRA NSA Obamacare police policy politics President Obama primaries privacy property rights Rand Paul religion Republican Party resistance Rick Santorum right to carry Rob Petsche Rod Blum Roger Fritz Ron Paul Rush Limbaugh Ryan Flood Sandy Hook Massacre Sarah Palin Second Amendment smoking Social Security spending Star Wars State Defense Forces Steve King Steven Lukan taxes Tea Party Movement Tenth Amendment terrorism Terry Branstad Tom Harkin traffic cams TSA TV/Movies war Wayne Jerman weapons Will Johnson Yuri N. Maltsev Zach Wahls