Friday, March 3, 2017

In Search of Creativity

Things are going really well for me lately.  I have a job in the industry I enjoy.  My family is great and loves me.  I have a hobby that I'm somewhat good at.  I just recently lost 25lbs and still counting. We have several family vacations planned for this year.  Our church is amazing and growing.  So why am I so discontent?  Other than it being human nature to always seek fulfillment in something other than God, there has to be a reason.

I have come to the conclusion recently that for me, with my personality type, I just need creativity on a regular basis.  I need to dream and achieve something new.  Take my job for example.  I really do love the company I work for, but I've been there for six months doing the exact same thing and I'm starting to get bored.  When I get bored I get frustrated, which can turn to rebellion and self destructive decisions if not put in check.

Today I'm sitting here in front of the computer with 2.5 hours a free time and... WAIT what the heck am I doing spilling my guts to a keyboard when I could be out doing something interesting and creative?  I guess blogging could be considered creative... Nah, I need to go do something.  Bear with me, I'll be back...

And I'm back.  I ended up exploring a new area of a state forest and taking some wildlife photos.  Nothing too amazing, but just enough to be considered "creative play".  I can't stress enough how important that is to the human spirit.  We get bogged down with life so easily sometimes.  God has created us to enjoy adventure.  In short, don't miss an opportunity to get outside and try something new.  You never know what you may find, not the least of all being an untouched part of your soul.


Sunday, January 15, 2017

Fighting Myself

I have this strange habit of contradicting myself.  It's actually related to my personality type.  I do it in so many ways that it has become quite the annoyance for me.  My purpose here is not to point out all of my shortcomings, but rather to discuss my most recent annoyance related to concealed carry and personal defense.

I have taken a good handful of professional tactical pistol courses over the past 20 years and one of the main things I've taken away as gospel is that you must find and utilize what is most efficient in terms of personal protection.  For example, choosing to carry a firearm in an ankle holster is probably one of the worst things you can do.  When ambushed and forced to defend yourself you need to move quickly toward cover or a position of safety, preferably while drawing your pistol and potentially returning fire.  How can you possibly move and draw from an ankle holster at the same time?  It's nearly impossible.  At the very least it's not efficient.  This is just one of many, but it helps make my point that efficiency is close to godliness when it comes to gunfighting.

Now on to my current conundrum.  The most comfortable way for me to carry a pistol, and the most comfortable pistol for me to carry is a snub nose revolver in the appendix position.  The problem is that a revolver is not the best defensive tool.  Knowing this yet also wanting maximum comfort is a problem I face daily.  Because I know you're itching to hear my answer to why a revolver is not a good defensive tool, I'll get that out of the way.  Revolvers are generally heavier than small frame automatics, have longer and heavier trigger press, are less accurate due to short barrels and heavier triggers, hold fewer rounds, and take much longer to reload when precious seconds count.  In short a 5 shot revolver will always be a poor choice for personal defense when compared to say a Glock 19 which is pretty much the antithesis to any revolver.  Feel free to nit-pick and ask more questions of a tactical nature in the comments section below.  I'm always happy to hash it out with you.

Back to what frustrates me so much about this.  I don't want to be unarmed.  I don't want to carry an inferior tool for protection. I want to be as comfortable as possible, but honestly if I'm uncomfortable I'm less likely to carry a pistol at all. (weak mind I know) I haven't practiced with my revolver nearly enough to feel supremely confident with it.  So I guess the question causing so much torment for me is this - is it better to carry something than nothing at all?  Is it ok that the revolver may leave me at a serious disadvantage in a gunfight?  Basically I'm trying to determine if it's ok to sacrifice efficiency and tactical advantage for comfort and ease of carry?  Your thoughts would be appreciated.


Thursday, September 1, 2016

5 Things Women Need

5 Things Women Need

My wife has a love-hate relationship with all this personal defense stuff.  She hates the idea of needing to be prepared and can't stand that her day to day life is effected by potential or perceived and often unseen threats of violence.  BUT she loves me.  So that means she agrees to all my training, prepping, security protocols, and most of my gear purchases.  Most? Ok, many of them. Many? Ok FINE, I just buy what I want and she gets mad for awhile and then eventually forgives me!

The point of this article is to give you 5 things that we think a woman needs for personal and family security when kids are involved and she finds herself in a dangerous or disastrous situation. These are a 24 hour get home bag, an exfiltration plan, communication sources, personal defense tools, and proper mindset.

24 Hour Get Home Pack
My wife's 24hr pack is very similar to mine in terms of the gear she carries, but there are a few additions that I will highlight below. You can review the contents of my pack by visiting my previous article on this blog. My 24hr pack
This REI retro looking pack is what my wife carries everyday in her suburban. It's large enough to carry the gear she needs, but not too big to attract attention. On that note, do not pick a pack that makes a statement, especially if that statement is "I have a gun." You should stay away from military or tactical looking packs in my opinion.
REI Klettersack

We have four children, so as you can imagine, my wife needs to carry enough equipment for 5 people whereas my pack is designed just for me. The major additions to her kit include a bothy bag, a water purification filter, and enough food to sustain 5 people for 24hrs. A bothy bag is like a giant sized, waterproof/breathable garbage bag that can be used as a shelter in emergency situations. It's designed for short-term use. You can't really lay down inside of it as there's no structure to it. Our bothy bag is designed so that 5-6 people can sit upright and lean against the walls of the shelter. It would not be comfortable to remain inside one for an extended period of time, they will keep you alive in a worst case scenario. I really like bothy bags as winter emergency shelters because with a group of people inside it, the temperature rises dramatically. You can get more info about bothy shelters here.

Food and water for 5 people would be extremely bulky and heavy for my wife to carry, so the way we've decided to manage this is through a water purifier and high calorie energy bars. Again, this is a short term survival situation lasting a max of 24hrs. They can find water along the way or steal it if necessary. Will my children be happy about only eating a few energy bars all day?  Not in the least.  Will they survive to complain about it later? Absolutely. She also carries first aid, maps of exfil routes, a compass, fire starter, personal defense weapons, light sources, a radio, and a cell battery backup.

Exfiltration Plan
What's an exfiltration plan?  In the simplest terms it's about having a strategy to get from dangerous point A to safer point B in the most efficient way possible. By efficient I mean the route that requires the least amount of time, energy, and resources, to arrive safely.

For example, my wife frequents Walmart, restaurants, and the library. Walmart and the restaurants are in close proximity to each other and therefore can share a similar exfil plan. The library, on the other hand is much farther away and is located in a less than desirable part of town. The exfil plan from the library is more involved due to the ground she would have to cover to get home safely from that area of town. Get the idea? This process requires some research and planning.

What I would suggest is to first get a map of your city. If you can find one that has topographic contour lines that's even better. (more on the why of that later) Now determine the locations of frequented places such as your home, the "bad" parts of town, hospitals, police departments, fire departments, and any other "safe" place that could provide you food, shelter, or help if needed. Once you have all those places marked on your map, start looking at ways to move between them. View the map through the lens of your personal vehicle first.  Ask yourself things like, "If I'm at the grocery store and crap hits the fan, what route will I take to get home?" Or "Dang it, that road is blocked and
I have to abandon my vehicle, what am I going to do now?" You absolutely must be realistic and critical in your assessment of the dangers you face and the details of your exfiltration plan. Next take a look at moving between your locations on foot.  Here is where that topographic map will come in handy. With this as a tool you can locate hills, ridges, valleys, drainages, rivers, forested areas, and so much more. Then you can begin to get a better picture of the actual lay of the land between the library, store or school and your house. Basically you want to know how you can best use the land to your advantage.  Maps help the process.

You will of course want to drive and walk your exfil routes to make sure they work the way you had envisioned while doing your map planning. This can be made into a fun family outing for the creative parent. These days I would bet you can find a geocache location literally on your exfil route, especially if you live in a city.  Take the kids out and try to locate it.  This gives you the excuse to check things out without making it too obvious to the general public what your real intentions are.

Communication Sources
Nearly every adult human in the United States has a cell phone these days. Trust me when I say that there will be plenty of these available should the need arise for you to commandeer one. That being said you have your own, and should feel comfortable using it to communicate with your loved ones in an emergency.
Motorola RDU4160 $300
Another tool you can utilize is a radio. The small consumer Motorola Talk-about radios are probably not sufficient due to their pathetic usable range.  (that 15 mile range claim is misleading) Also there is the issue of security. Someone is more likely to listen in on your conversations with those simply due to the large number of people that own them. You should look into something a lot stronger.  Brands like Motorola, BlackBox, Kenwood and Icom all make quality professional grade radios that will get you at least a mile of useable range even in the city. They use a different set of frequencies than the recreational talk-about radios and therefore should be more secure. They also operate on a much higher wattage output, so the signal should punch through buildings and terrain fairly well. CB radio is an option as well but again, security.
There are so many factors that go into radio quality and signal that I can't possibly cover all that information here. The Motorola RDU4160 is what I'm using for the time being. It is sufficient as a backup to our cell phones, and has performed well in our tests. Are there better options? Yes there are, but I'm personally not willing to commit the time and effort to getting my HAM license right now.  Here's a great article from ITS Tactical on radio communications for further study.

Personal Defense Tools 
Guns probably come to mind first, and I highly recommend that as your primary defensive tool. However, relevant training in context absolutely must go hand in hand with guns for personal defense. I can't overstate how important this is. I'll say it again like this, if you spent $500 on your pistol, you should spend another $1000-$2000 minimum on one or two reputable training courses.
I.C.E. Training Company owned by Rob Pincus offers the kind of training I am referring to. If you want another choice then Gunsite is a fine option. One final company I would recommend is Asymmetric Solutions.
Ladies if you are like my wife then you may choose not to carry a pistol for self defense. I can speak for your husbands when I say it's time to reevaluate your opinions on this topic. Guns and fighting are no longer just the stuff of a man's world. Thugs these days could care less if you're a woman. They will not take it easy on you and they are most likely armed with some kind of weapon. You always want to "one up" their weapon choice.  If they choose a baseball bat, then you want a gun. If they choose a knife, then you want a gun. If they choose a hammer, then you want a what? That's right, a gun! To be completely fair, I don't think a gun is the answer to every personal defense question, but it stands to reason that if you find yourself in a "worst case" scenario, then you might want to use a "last resort" kind of tool.

Other choices in defensive tools fall under the "pain compliance" category. These tools are typically deployed from inside the reach of the attacker. Obviously getting in close with an individual that is trying to harm you is never a good idea, but if you find yourself in that situation you want to have more than just your fists to stop their advance. Things like pepper spray, tasers, and batons are solid choices but sometimes fail and will not stop a determined attacker. Knives are sometimes inappropriately placed in this category as well, even though you can clearly and easily kill a person with one. Knives are an excellent back up tool to your defensive firearm, and some are specifically built for in contact fighting.

Lastly, personal defense tools can be found laying around outside, stocked at the grocery store, and purchased at the magazine stand. Improvised weapons can be anything you pick up and hit with or throw at an attacker that would discourage them from advancing towards you. Here's a short list to get you on my thought level - tree branches, chairs, soup cans, broom handles, rocks, a belt, that stray cat, and even your car. Yes exactly, just run them over, (the bad guy not the cat). Constantly assess your environment and be aware of things you could use as weapons if the situation arises.

Proper Mindset
"The devil whispers, you can not withstand the storm.  The warrior whispers back, I AM the storm" --Author unknown
This is likely not a popular conversation to have with most moms, but ladies you need to develop your ability to flip that switch in your brain from helpless victim to dangerous warrior. It's absolutely critical for your survival in a disaster or emergency situation. Your life and the lives of your children depend on you alone. Do not underestimate yourself. You are able to think quickly and clearly. You are able to make it home. You are able to strategically utilize the tools at hand to get the job done just as decisively as any man. You need to be willing to sacrifice the life of another human being in order to preserve the safety of your family if that's what it comes down to!  

When it comes to mental toughness sometimes you just need to start talking yourself into things instead of out. Positive self talk about eating better, working out more, and being good to your spouse don't just miraculously happen. Things worth doing often take hard work. Don't just tell yourself you can - tell yourself you will! Tell yourself often how they shouldn't mess with a momma bear and her cubs! Convince yourself that you would do anything to protect your children.
Seriously though, that face! #determination
I recommend training your mind to think the way you want to perform. It's no secret that olympic athletes use visualization techniques as a training tool to help them mentally prepare for competition. I contend that mentally preparing for the fight of your life is no different. Practically this looks like finding a quiet place where you can relax, close your eyes, and mentally live out your worst nightmare in extreme detail. Choose a realistic scenario in the context of your personal day to day routine. Imagine every conceivable detail of your encounter from start to finish.  Spend some extra time on the ending. Make absolutely certain that you win in the end!
Check out this article from Mike Gillette. He's kind of an expert on mental toughness, and a heck of a nice guy.  

I'm not sure what this cute little kid is being so obstinate about, but one thing is for sure, he will not be easily swayed. That is exactly the kind of determined attitude you need to have when it comes to personal defense. Be willing to stand up for yourself. Be vicious if necessary.  Remember, you want to make it home tonight. You want to prevail!

--J. Wise


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Introversion The Disease

The first time I learned about Jungian personality types was in college roughly 23 years ago.  Back then I was about one year into a psychology degree that I quickly changed once I learned how much more school I would have to take if I really wanted to use it. 
I'm referring specifically to Jung/Meyers/Briggs type indicator tests.  I won't go into much detail about each individual type because honestly, you need a degree to understand these things completely.  Do your own research if you're interested. 
For the average person, here's a basic breakdown - 
  • I = Introvert  E = Extrovert
  • N= Intuitive  S = Sensing
  • T = Thinking  F = Feeling
  • J = Judging  P = Perceiving
An individual can be any combination of any of these, and each "type" indicator has its own detailed description that gives you a better understanding of what makes you tick.  Some are more obvious than others. 

Yours truly is a hardcore INFJ/P.  I have always viewed myself as completely different from the rest of society around me, but could never put my finger on the reason why.  Now I know, after studying these indicators, that I fall into a category that represents less than 1% of our population.  The INFJ is the rarest of personality types for men.  Second rarest for women.  Therefore I can safely say, I am completely different than the majority of society.  

Some of the ways we (INFJ's) are different - 
We can walk into a room of people, scan the crowd, and immediately know who's angry, who's scared, and who's a complete idiot.  We take in everything.  EVERYTHING.  It's super annoying.  
I walk into a crowded room and I not only notice the couple in the back corner who are arguing, but I literally feel their tension.  I internalize it, and it saddens me.  The smells and sounds work together to shape my mood, and it's uncontrollable.  Like Superman's hearing, I key in to every conversation.  I can't tune them out and only listen to one.  If you aren't an INFJ, you have no idea how mentally draining this is.  Depending on what's said and how it's said, my attitude/mood will often switch to mirror one of the people I'm listening to.  Often my mood and attitude will repeatedly switch between several.  Did I mention that the color of paint on the walls, the decorating, the clutter, the lighting, the crooked picture, the car alarm outside, the dog barking, and the hum of the refrigerator, all effect me continuously?  That's just scratching the surface of what an INFJ experiences in a crowded environment. 

Something else unique to my personality type is the ability to intuitively discern what you're thinking without you saying very much.  We key in on facial expressions, body language, nervousness, out of place emotions, what you say, and most importantly what you don't say.  Not only do we understand what's going on with you, we literally "feel" your emotions.  This too can be mentally and emotionally draining. 

Let's talk about energy.  You can either be the kind of person that gives or takes energy from me.  In order to give energy to an INFJ you absolutely must go deeper than surface level conversation.  We seem socially awkward while trying to make small talk at parties.  In fact, small talk robs energy from us.  We only have a certain amount to give and if 7 people before you have stolen energy from me, then you will likely get the cold shoulder.  Don't take it personally.  I actually really value you and want to have a meaningful conversation.  I am simply unable to fake it.  

In each of these paragraphs above I have been talking about how draining it is to be this kind of introvert.  What I want you to understand is that introverts are joyful, empathetic, intelligent, and interesting people who value real relationships.  We are the best listeners as long as you've paid into our emotional bank.  We have so much we would love to talk to you about.  We just need you to initiate the conversation.  

One final thing you may have noticed; we seem cold and grumpy most of the time.  You've noticed this whenever you see us at social gatherings.  Reference my paragraph above about the ways we are different and then please understand that we are not cold and grumpy, we are simply taking in every conceivable detail about our environment and simultaneously attempting to carry on a draining, surface level, conversation with you.  lol ok maybe we are cold at times.  

You can research more about the personality types by following the link below if you're interested.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

What will You do?

Today I heard a commentator at the Republican national convention ask a senator for his gut sense about who would win the election between Trump and Clinton.
It wasn't the fact that he said Hillary that caught my attention, it was How he said it. There was no hesitation in his voice. Almost as if he already knew what was going to happen. Also, he was afraid. There was fear in his voice. 

I think this hit home for me because I feel the exact same way. I can't get it out of my head. I didn't think I would personally witness the downfall of America in my lifetime, but I am seriously worried about what the future holds for me and especially my children. 

...thinking about that sucks. I pray with all my heart that the senator is wrong. 

I just think we (America) have been the frog heated up slowly in the pot for too long. I wonder if there's any way to get our nation back peacefully? It makes me sad because I see us going down a path that leads to chaos and that's horrible. There's another side of me that would welcome revolution and civil war so we can clean the slate. There's peace to be found on the other side of war. I think we are no longer inching our way closer to this, we are in fact taking large leaps towards it. 

All of this to say, where do you stand?  Are you prepared for civil unrest? Removal of your freedoms? Confiscation of your guns? Martial law? All out war? 
Are you willing to sacrifice? To what degree? Will you go to jail? Will you trade your life for a mere chance of opening the eyes of others? 

Think honestly and deeply about these things. The time is coming when your convictions and principles will be tested. 
How will you answer the call?


Friday, July 1, 2016

Why Do I Train?

Why Do I Train?

It's a fairly loaded question actually.  It could be answered simply, much in the same way as Sir Edmund Hillary answered the question about why he climbed Mount Everest, "because it's there".
There is a literal mountain of training opportunities available to me in the United States.  How do I make a decision about which ones to spend my resources on?

I normally choose gun training. Courses in combat and defensive pistol have been my primary outlet, but I have also taken some carbine training as well as a handful of classes on the use of precision long range rifles. I'm a black belt in TaeKwonDo and am currently learning Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  So why in the world would I choose to take a combat tracking course from John Hurth of TYR Group?  Go check out his website for more information on what a combat tracker is and does. You won't be disappointed.

black beanie is me
Honestly I think this time I just wanted to do something different; well that and I had an opportunity to meet John Hurth at the ITS Tactical Muster event in 2015, and knew immediately I wanted to learn more from him.

Going into it I thought, I'll never use this stuff.  In fact I would say I didn't even see how combat tracking related to my real world, defensive, gun culture lifestyle.  I was wrong in several ways.  The first is that I thought it held no relevance to gun training.  "Combat" tracking - duh. (smacks self upside the head) We had a rifle in our hands during the majority of this course.  We learned some small units tactics and movement among other things.

The second thing I was wrong about is that I would never have an opportunity to use this skillset in my day to day life.  Here's a short story about using my tracking skills. Bare with me.
As a family, we like to go geocaching.  If you're unfamiliar with this it's an activity where people hide small containers filled with trinkets all around the world. They record the GPS coordinates of these caches and then post them online.  Others can download/upload these coordinates into their personal GPS devices and then go on a treasure hunt of sorts trying to find the cache.  My family was trying to locate a cache that was in a fairly remote part of a national forest.  You get so focused on following your GPS screen that you often forget to look up and take in your surroundings.  We found the cache, but I got turned around and really didn't know where the main trail was from where we ended up. We weren't lost - obviously we had a GPS.  I just didn't immediately recognize where I was.
Then I looked down and it clicked! I know exactly how to find the trail.  Six people walking through the woods creates quite a mark that is pretty easy to follow if you know what you're looking for.  Using the obvious signs that we left in the dirt, in the leaf clutter, and the laid over weeds, I was able to find the trail again.  Prior to my combat tracking course, I'm not sure I would have recognized those signs. I would have been forced to rely on my technology.  What if the batteries had died? For me personally I would have just headed due south until I ran into a highway that I know runs east/west nearly all the way across that area, but the point needs to be made that you have to know skills that don't require the use of batteries.

Combat tracking skills can be extremely useful for locating missing members of your family, or obviously for self rescue while exploring the woods.  These skills would be a necessity for search and rescue teams.  They could also be useful for members of the law enforcement community.  I was in law enforcement for over 5 years and can think of several instances where tracking skills would have been useful had I known them at the time.  It goes without saying that the military is the perfect place to use combat tracking skills.
The venerable John Hurth surveying his domain

I'm very thankful that I decided on a whim to take the 5 day combat tracker course from John Hurth of TYR Group.  I feel better prepared to thrive in my world no matter the circumstances.  All of the above to answer the question; why do I train?  I train because I'm committed to being a life long learner.  I'd rather not go back to school in the traditional sense, but to branch out of the norm (guns) and learn something new and interesting, is never a poor decision in my opinion.

So what's next on the training horizon for me?  On the short list is sniper field craft, combat medicine, and maybe another carbine course.  I'm already asking myself why in the world would I care about sniper fieldcraft? Will I ever use this?  Do you suppose the easy answers to these questions will keep me from being adventurous and just committing to a new chance to learn something cool and surprisingly useful?  Nope!   #keeptraining