Being Basic: Pistolero

Across all aspects of life there’s generally a core set of concepts that are the foundation of proficiency.

When it comes to shooting that’s going to be your grip, your draw, your trigger press, and your sight picture.


It’s the platform for everything else, and one of the areas where I’ve struggled the most. It’s amazing how nuanced the grip can get, not just “grab the thing” or “grip harder”. My current grip consists of elements taught by Spencer Keepers, Paul Sharp, and John Johnston. I’ve written in depth about each of those classes, and if you’re interested in learning more you can find those posts here.

Grip needs to be mastered first, because otherwise if you jump into your draw too quickly you end up reinforcing bad habits that will negatively impact your performance. You’ll have a much harder time shooting consistently (ask me how I know).

The biggest thing to keep in mind is that there is not one singular “right” grip. There’s an almost infinite combination of hand shapes & grip geometries, so you’re going to have to play around with it to see what allows you to control the pistol most effectively. A few placed to get some ideas are Aaron Cowan, Scott Jedlinski, and Bob Vogel. Not saying it’ll work, but it might give you an idea to play with.


Once you’ve got a good grip on the gun, now it’s important to be able to bring it to bear quickly and efficiently. The great thing is that this costs absolutely nothing. You already own the gun, you’ve already got the holster, you have plenty of clothes.

Whenever you’re doing dry work, it’s critical to ensure complete safety. No ammo in the room, a dedicated practice space, conscious, intentional repetition, and a backstop that can stop a bullet if everything else goes wrong.

This is also helpful to find out how your wardrobe and carry gear work together (or don’t). Trust me when I say it sucks to try and fight against your own equipment.

Having a shot timer is definitely helpful. Target Barn was kind enough to send me one and I can say it’s significantly more convenient, but there are several free apps you can download to your phone to get started. I also did a video about some of the ways to use that timer in practice.

I find it helpful to video yourself, so you can see where you’re wasting time/effort. I’m still trying to break myself of the habit I’ve got of hunching my shoulders on the draw. Jedi has some great pointers on developing your draw stroke as well.


Trigger control ties in to grip on a couple of levels. A good grip sets you up for a clean, uninterrupted trigger-press. A strong enough grip can also compensate for some flaws in your trigger pull (not saying that should be your goal).

I’ve found that the Dry Fire Mag to be extremely useful because my biggest issue was hard to diagnose on single trigger pulls. I have a tendency to milk the grip if I’m shooting (combined with a flinch I’m still trying to break).

Trigger finger placement is another area where people get dogmatic about THE way that it must be done. Bullshit. For the same reason that there isn’t one single master grip, the size of your hand and your pistol grip will dictate where your finger falls on the trigger. Pat McNamara has some great ideas on the subject.


There’s some discussion as to in what order these elements should be prioritized. I put sights last because if your trigger pull sucks, it doesn’t matter what your sight picture is because it won’t be there when the shot breaks.

Sights are another place where you can end up fighting your gear. I tried shooting a 25 yds. B8 at an indoor range with standard 3-dot night sights, and spent the entire time cursing because the lighting was JUST dim enough that it was hard to make out the front sight effectively enough.

I’ve become a huge fan of blacked out rear sights, and a high visibility front. Personally I like fiber. My Warren Tactical sights are just about the closest equivalent to red-dot optic you can get with conventional irons.

The other reason I think trigger comes before sights is that, once you have an appropriate sight picture, that’s the instant you want to make the shot break. Shooting various drills will help you to understand what that sight picture needs to look like in order to achieve a desired result.

Play around with this stuff. It’s going to take some experimentation to find what works for you.

Gear Featured In This Video:

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Protecting & Defending All Aspects of Self

Everyone’s freaking out over something right now. Some over COVID-19. Others over how society is reacting to the virus. Others still are worried about the long term economic impacts, or the second and third order effects of city-wide shutdowns.

There’s plenty of anxiety to go around. That’s why, especially now, we’re as actively aware of our mental and emotional safety/wellbeing as we our of our physical.

A couple years ago, I found myself in this perpetual state of “blah”. On paper everything was going great, but there was this internal weight that just kept dragging me down. I was constantly fatigued, found myself regularly experiencing random and inexplicable feelings of dread. I wouldn’t even partake in things that I normally enjoyed. I kept trying to shake it off. Telling myself that I was somehow being weak, because I had no good reason for these feelings. Despite my efforts, I still regularly found myself just wanting to curl up on the sofa with my dog and wait for the day to be over.

I finally reached out to a friend of mine who is a mental health professional, and we talked. Our conversation resulted in him making me aware of something called dysthymia. Paraphrasing, it was suggested that the dysthymia could be environmental. He was right. Soon after I’d changed jobs and found myself in a much better headspace.

In the defensive community, you hear Gavin de Becker’s book The Gift of Fear touted quite a bit. The focal point of that work is “listen to what your brain/body/instincts are trying to tell you”. Survival instincts are hardwired for a reason. Well guess what, same applies to the mental/emotional side of things as well. Be aware of it. Control and manage it, but don’t suppress it.

The point of this post, as with most that I share, is to simply present my experiences as a learning opportunity. If it resonates with you, great. Hang in there, and take care of yourselves on all fronts.

*I feel like this goes without saying, but I’m in no way a mental health professional, and none of this should be construed as medical advice. If you feel like you have issues that require that attention, please consult a professional*

I Put My Crotch On Display For Your Entertainment: How Pant Rise Affects Your Carry Setup

Today I talk about making sure that your wardrobe doesn’t interfere with your carry setup. Jeff Mau at Tenicor and Spencer Keepers have touched on this subject, so definitely go check them out and follow them as well. Most dudes aren’t familiar with the concept that pants have different “rise” (the distance between the waist and the crotch). This measurement can either facilitate or hinder your EDC. Also, if like me you have a bit of a “successful lifestyle body”, you might fall into the trap of wearing their pants too low on the hips instead of at your natural waist. Given that we’re all hold up and eating our anxiety, you might find this info useful over the next few weeks.

In case you’re wondering, the products featured in this video are:

I’ve done a review of these belts that you can find here

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5 Tips for Surviving COVID-19 & Quarantine in Comfort & Style

There’s a lot of doom & gloom, and a lot of artificially inflated panic going around right now. It’s a prime opportunity to work on our social fluency and emotional control. Interpersonal interaction is easy when both parties are having a good day and emotionally stable. When one of them’s agitated, if you’re still able to get to the desired result, then you REALLY know your skills work. Just because the situation isn’t ideal doesn’t mean we can’t leverage it to our benefit. Here’s a few suggestions on how to make this time of social distancing a bit more palatable.

Toilet Paper Shortage? Try this and thank me later.

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Vet Sources

It’s really important to approach information with a little skepticism and a critical mind.

Just because someone did XYZ job doesn’t necessarily mean they have the expertise to comment on a given subject.

Over the last 6 months or so, I’ve seen an uptick of folks with impressive resumes putting out bad information on several subjects related to the defensive world. It’s troubling because a lot of folks will take their commentary as an endorsement, without doing any deeper research of their own.

In most of these instances, I choose to chalk it up to knowledge bias: They’re so accomplished that stuff seems easy or obvious to them that might be more difficult for us “regular earth people”. You spend enough time around enough highly capable people, and it’s easy to get an inflated view of what base-level abilities are. Defensive driving & correcting a skid are probably a lot easier for Mario Andretti than it is for you or me.

Unfortunately, there are those out there that appear to be trying to capitalize on their backgrounds for their own gain, and aren’t interested in the quality of the info they’re putting out as long as it turns into more sales. Thankfully, they’re easy to spot.

Regardless of who your chosen experts are, it still bears asking “why do they have this opinion?”. If their explanation stops at “Because I was X”, that’s just a fancy way of saying “because I said so”, which is an unacceptable answer in my opinion.

If someone takes exception to being challenged (provided you’re not being a dick about it), that is probably a clue.

Please be selective about who gets your money, as well as your intellectual and emotional resources. We are in the golden age of good information that’s readily accessible. We owe it to ourselves to create a non-permissive environment for derp and myth.

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The Most Important Aspect of Self Defense that Nobody Talks About

There are so many facets to self defense:

  • Pistol skills
  • Knife skills
  • Verbal skills
  • Empty hand skills
  • Medical skills
  • Legal skills

And each one of those could easily take a lifetime to master. We all know black belts and GMs that are still working to improve. That being said, it is very easy to get caught up in the pursuit of all of this that we manage to forget exactly what it is that we’re working so hard to protect: Our lives, livelihoods, and well-being.

It’s possible to spend so much time refining these skills that the rest of life gets neglected and falls by the wayside. There are some folks who choose to live their lives around the gun, and refuse to go anywhere they’re not allowed to carry (or risk the legal consequences of carrying where prohibited). Then there are those who go the Travis Bickle route, hardening themselves for what they are certain is an imminent battle.

For me personally, I choose to live as fulfilling a life as possible. I enjoy good food and drink, the arts, and travel. My study of predators, violent criminal actors, and defense craft are there to supplement this lifestyle, and make sure that I’m able to have the broadest and most varied range of experiences possible. It’s an easy trap to get caught in, and it’s not discussed much. I just wanted to highlight this pitfall so that more people are aware that it’s out there. Ultimately it’s your life. Live it how you choose. But I do think it’s worth asking the question whether or not you’re spending more time training than you actually do living.

Go check out Greg Ellifritz over at Active Response Training. Great content, and an amazing dude.

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You’re Only the Good Guy in Your Mind

Everybody is the hero of their own movie. Whenever that idea is challenged, the response is typically a desire to defend one’s honor, or explain yourself so that people won’t think ill of you.

Neither of those are usually the most ideal way to handle it.

Paul Sharp had a great post that highlights some of these concepts that you really should read. Go check it out

Andrew Branca’s The Law of Self Defense:

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Being Basic

Once you dive into an area of interest, it’s very easy to get caught up in the minutia, and quickly want to get flashy about it.

What I’ve seen that separates the masters from the amateurs is how well they understand and execute the basics.

The best bartenders I know don’t do flare bartending, but they can absolutely NAIL an old fashioned.

The best dressed men in my life don’t do loud colors and flashy patterns, but their suit game is immaculate.

It’s easy to look like you know what you’re doing by throwing a bunch of stuff at the wall; the more components there are, the less any one of them can drag down the overall result.

The challenge is that the basics aren’t necessarily fun or sexy. Practicing them can be tedious. But mastery of the basics tends to result in a higher level of overall proficiency.

Faster Than You Think

This week’s video is fresh off the heels of Virginia’s Lobby Day.

Overall it was a positive showing, with great optics for the 2A community, and it allowed us to refute some of the stereotypes that are being painted about us.

That’s not to say there isn’t some room for improvement. I think there are a few elements that get missed when it comes to effectively tailoring a pro-2A message to an audience that doesn’t already think the way we do.

It’s really satisfying to go scorched earth on your opponent, and just burn them down with information and logic, but that rarely ever does anything to actually influence opinions.

There are some great resources out there that everyone should take advantage of when it comes to improving your ability to communicate, especially with someone with whom you don’t have common ground.

Here are the links I talk about in the video:


Craig Douglas Interviews: