Not like this

This wasn’t the post I wanted to write when I came back from hiatus. Yet here I am, staring into my monitor as we’re faced with another mass murder perpetrated by a radical Islamist in a western, civilized nation. But this time it’s our own country, and that means in the days since the attack, all of the old talking points about gun control, Islam, violence against gays, and every other agenda someone wants to push are right back at the forefront again. I’m sick of it.

And yet here we are. I’m not going to talk about the politics of gun control here, I’m not going to talk about radical Islam. I’m not really an expert on those subjects. I’ve been left pondering the question of what can we do about this? To borrow a line from The Two Towers, I’ve been meditating on “what can men do in the face of such reckless hate?”

The answer here is the same as it was in the movie: “Ride out and meet it.” Or to put it more simply: fight. I’m not talking about online posturing either. Going on your FB account and talking about how “this sheepdog is ready for ISIS” isn’t really preparing yourself for a fight that you don’t know is coming. But after successful terror attacks in Paris, in San Bernadino, and now Orlando, you need to ask yourself some hard questions. Those questions can be directly extrapolated from the tactics used by the terrorists in those scenarios.

The first one isn’t likely the one you’d think because it has nothing to do with skill at arms. But it’s arguably more important. How are your medical skills? Do you know how to apply a tourniquet? Do you have access to pressure bandages? If the person next to you is bleeding out, can you save their life? This is important because as we’ve seen in this terror attacks, medical help is going to be a long time coming once the bullets start flying. That’s just a fact. And you can be a USPSA Grandmaster who also served in Delta Force and all that skill won’t do you any good if you bleed out from a round to the leg.

Secondly, and how good are you really with your carry gun? Because if we’re leaning something from Orlando and Paris, it’s that you need to be good enough with your handgun to outpace someone with a rifle. That’s a big ask for most people. An even moderately talented rifleman is going to be able to put anyone but an extremely skilled and aggressive handgun shooter in a world of hurt. How comfortable are you pushing your handgun out to intermediate distances like 25-50 yards? Can you even make hits at those ranges?

Third, don’t expect the shooter to just give up when confronted with resistance. While that’s been the MO for active shooters in the past, these guys aren’t motivated by the same thing that pushed the Sandy Hook shooter or the VA Tech shooter. They’re motivated by a radical ideology that promises them a glorious afterlife if they die while taking out people like you and me. The Paris shooters fought back when confronted, and so did the Orlando shooter. They’re not just going to eat their gun because you pop a .38 in their direction.

Which brings me to my last point: how’s your mind? Admittedly, no one can really know how they’re going to react when the bullets start flying, but there are things you can do to prepare yourself for when it does. I’m not saying you have to harden yourself into a hellish warrior, capable of spitting death and unleashing hate on the foes of liberty, but rather take an honest look at yourself. What’s your startle response? When the car in front of you panic breaks, what do you do? Does the sight of blood make you upset? Have you ever killed anything larger than a bug?

There is so much to be said about this atrocity. But if I could leave you with one thing, if I had one piece of advice it would be this: it’s time for an honest assessment of your skills. All of them. I know I’m especially lacking in the medical area, and that’s something I need to address. And I know that in every single one of the other areas I wrote about, I could be a lot better.

The war is here, and it really doesn’t care if you want to be a part of it.


  1. First off welcome back.

    Secondly why is it that even in most carry courses the medical side of things is just never talked about?

      1. Pretty much that, yeah. Learning to do entries and pie corners and face shoot dudes is cool and awesome, but learning how to not bleed to death is kind of lame, because it directly counters the “sheepdog warrior” fantasy that drives at least 75% of participation in shooting classes.

        1. 16 hours of TCCC, certified adv CPR, cerified wilderness first responder…

          Not a single person besides me carries a trauma kit to our range competitions. Just me for 50-60 shooters.

          I’d be 1/2 tempted to know how many people can run some medical kit, but I’m sure the answer would be just as depressing as knowing the ratio to number of guns owned vs formal training hours.

          1. When I started carrying I learned how to use and purchased a gunshot trauma kit for both vehicles so I would always have it available. Several gun carrying friends said I was nuts, why would I do that – you just have to get better at shooting so you don’t get hit.

            Um… how about the other victims around me, how about if I get hit despite being John Wayne, or how about the chance that you miss the side of the trigger guard while drawing and end up shooting yourself in the leg during some target practice.

            Anyway, I don’t have nearly enough medical training and am planning on getting more and better courses completed, but you’re right… there’s quite the lack of medical training among CCW’ers.

      2. Ok good points (all of you guys) it’s just I try to take one or two classes a year… And I can’t remember the last time anyone else showed up with a first aid/trauma kit (hell most of them don’t even have a band aid) or check to make sure their cell phone works (don’t laugh at my home range most cellphones don’t work).

        All of that brings me back to if these people aren’t prepared for a formal class (where your range bag should be fully stocked)… What in the bluegreen hell are they going to do when someone actually does get hit?

  2. Caleb, you make some valid, eye-opening points. For most of us who shoot handguns in competition (for me, it’s occasional IDPA and some Steel Challenge), the ranges we are engaging targets at are not realistic for the types of threats you address. My goal for next month is to seek out an advanced first aid course, something beyond the run-of-the-mill Red Cross first aid class. I also plan to add a couple extra practice sessions at the range which will concentrate on using my carry gun at ranges out to 30-50 yards, especially since I can’t remember the last time or if I have ever used my M&P 9 or my Kimber 1911 at those distances.
    Again, thank you, Caleb for making sense out of the senseless.

  3. Aligns with stuff rattling around in my head. I’m gonna ask the RO at the range I belong to if maybe we can’t put together a ‘first responder’ class for folks who are interested. And I bet there’s at least 1 member qualified to teach it too. Let’s also be honest together – many people approach guns like dress accessories – otherwise how do so many get caught in airports etc. I would like to see more shoothouse type training for everyone on CC. Frankly, the qualifications for CC should require more, IMHO.

  4. Thanks for the truth without the bravado. This ain’t a pissing contest this just got real.

  5. I like this site because it always has a different take on subjects and doesn’t insult the readers.

  6. Would you happen to have any suggestions on good first aid classes or do you suggest checking locally and going from there?

  7. Four years ago our range had the first injuries in over 30 years. We had two ND’s during matches both resulting in leg injuries. We were fortunate to have had a written emergency plan but the incidents focused our attention. We purchased two major trauma kits that are available during matches and several smaller trauma kits that are available on our ranges at all times. We also had a certified instructor teach an emergency medical program for all of our discipline directors.

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