Context and Probability

Discussion in 'Shooting & Fireams Training / Skills' started by Hammer, Apr 7, 2019.

  1. Hammer

    Hammer Member

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    We have plenty of threads in this sub-forum about hardware, but I'd like to see some discussion around software as well, so here's a topic I've been thinking about a lot lately:

    How much do context and probability enter into your training, decision-making and resulting equipment choices?

    I'm thinking of this in a civilian context - obviously, professionals are going to approach this very differently. But when it comes to the former, there are a couple increasingly popular trends I see in the self-defense training world:

    1) "One-size-fits-all" solutions that oversimplify, and fail to take into account that we don't all lead identical lives with the same risk factors. In its most extreme form, this manifests as, "you should always carry as much firepower as you possibly can, at all times, or else you are essentially courting disaster." These adamant, absolutist approaches might come across as very authoritative to the uninitiated looking for guidance, but they leave me with more questions than answers.

    2) Civilian defense training emanating from former "professionals" (SOF, SWAT, whatever), attempting to fashion themselves as training authorities in their post-professional life, and who fail to translate their backgrounds to a new (and I would say very different) context. This often seems to come across as an attempt to convince people that they need to essentially adopt a military approach, and military gear choices, to their everyday lives.

    I think that bringing "context" and "probability" into the equation introduces a level of nuance that many trainers just don't want to bother with (or maybe don't know how to...), in their attempt to deliver a black-and-white product in a limited amount of time to a paying customer. And of course, tactical gymnastics look exciting on YouTube and tend to fill courses. Personally, I'm wary of any teacher that is too lazy to do this, and I think that considering these factors, and how they apply to your everyday life and resulting choices, is important.

    So here's one example of what I'm talking about:

    Does the person living in a remote, rural area with an almost non-existent violent crime rate need to carry the same hardware in their daily life as say, someone who is the night manager of a pharmacy in a sketchy neighborhood in a big city? Can we say that probability and context might be informing factors in differentiating between these two scenarios?

    Enough for now, but I'd be curious if others think about this. And of course, this doesn't just apply to firearms, by any means...
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2019
  2. OKcherokee

    OKcherokee Member

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    I was thinking about this yesterday.

    We went to a movie, and I always think about those movie theater shootings that have happened. My thoughts lead to a gunman most likely choosing a later movie time for an event as there are larger crowds present at 7:00 than at 4:00when we went.

    Of course, that wrongfully assumes a person that would do such a thing would be using such logic.


    Either way, instead of a larger and higher capacity gun, I chose the handy LCP .380.
    It is light and easy to carry, and better than nothing honestly.
    We can fantasize all we want about turning into John Wick when the bad guy shows up, but honestly the bad guy probably isn’t expecting someone to fight back and hard to say what the reaction will be if someone does.

    Either way, my priorities are my wife, kids, and myself, and getting distance between us an the bad guy as quickly as possible.

    Just buy myself time to make a retreat to safety. Someone else can run towards the threat.
     
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  3. Hammer

    Hammer Member

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    A couple of articles that get at what I'm talking about:

    "....The simple fact is, that most of the techniques being promulgated will work in some fashion. The debate over the majority of them is a waste of time. What truly matters, and what trumps every single technique, is context.

    There is a plausible and very possible context in which the most favored technique/tactic/ procedure will be the absolute wrong thing to do, and an equally plausible context in which it is good and valid. We have all heard the absurdist extreme version of this – what would you rather have in a fight, a hand grenade or a knife? Well, at distance a hand grenade looks pretty useful but in a phone booth it is inferior to the blade."

    http://www.iacombatives.com/2018/10/24/context-the-emperor-of-the-fight/


    "....I have come to feel we in the training community concentrate on teaching marksmanship and manipulation skills at the expense of tactics and decision-making skills. As strange as it sounds, coming from someone of my background, I think that’s a problem. When I look at incidents that have had negative outcomes for the Citizen, it’s rarely because of a failure of mechanical skills. Most of the time, the failure is due to a bad decision, poor tactics, or a combination of both."

    https://tacticalprofessor.wordpress.com/2014/08/20/tactical-decision-making-part-i/
     
  4. Hammer

    Hammer Member

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    Interesting. I think that when we get into this aspect of the subject, there are no clear and easy answers, which is probably why so many instructors avoid it and offer simplistic solutions instead.

    To be clear, I'm not denying that its possible to imagine scenarios where being the person with the overwhelming amount of firepower may rule the day. However, a study of real-world civilian scenarios doesn't necessarily support this as one of the most significant factors in typically determining the outcome.

    But increasingly, I'm beginning to think that approaching this whole thing with a "you need to have a high-capacity pistol and two full reloads on you at all times" approach to self-defense, often combined with a fantasy/tactical/"I'm going to be the hero" mindset might be creating more opportunity for negative outcomes than solving them. It's akin to the old, "if all you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail" mindset.

    Regardless, there's no "right" answer - it's about having solid. well-thought out reasons that inform your choices, and being reasonably confident (through regular training and testing) that you can do what you need to if/when the time comes, despite all your efforts to avoid it or remove yourself from the scenario once it begins to unfold. And that's a skill that is arguably far more important than being able to knock down steel plates at 25 yards, no matter how fun that may be.
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2019
  5. shivermetimbers

    shivermetimbers Member

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    I think about this often as well. I plan my days accordingly. I don’t go to certain parts of town unless I absolutely have to and never after the sun falls behind the hills. I’m whiter than frozen fish sticks begging for some hot oil, and that’s asking for trouble in some places (S and SE Albuquerque).

    This also applies to rush hour on the the freeways. Sometimes my temper gets the best of me. Here’s an example, I’m with my wife on the way to the base gym and bam, rush hour traffic heading south. I look, just in time to see some tires locked up and smoking in my side view mirror. Sh*t! Here is comes...bam, we got bumped. They tried run and jumped a few lanes over. I saw red, my temp was steadily rising as my mouth wove a fine tapestry of obscenities. I chased them, two you guys, hats on backwards. They hit an off ramp and then stopped at a red light. I had the phone and snapped a few pics of the plate and the car. Light was green they took off and I went into a parking lot of a busy bank. They knew I was there and watched me dart into the parking lot and stopped right in the middle of a busy 4-way street. My wife wanted to walk over there and give them what for. I pulled her back and called APD. They sat there, goading us. After a bit they left. The officer stated the plate didn’t match the car description, stolen. The car was actually fine.

    This could have turned out badly. Because I was going to the base and to the gym, I wasn’t carrying. I learned a lot from that one and think about it a lot. Did I do the right thing? Should I have let it go? The officer I spoke to commended me numerous times.

    I’ve been around firearms my whole life. I spent 23 years in the military. Yet, nothing is harder than hitting a quail or pheasant on a jump shoot in the middle of a willow patch, very small window to make a shot. They go straight up and over the tops, if you haven’t drawn a bead and pulled the trigger by the time they reach the willow tops, they’re gone. It’s taken a lot of work for me to get good my the guns I carry. Pistols are harder than long guns, at least to me. I bounce back and forth between a VP9 and 1911. I feel competent with both. No rhyme or reason to which I carry, flavor of the day.

    I’m no cowboy and carrying a firearm doesn’t make my balls swell like it does with some. It’s the last resort. But here is a situation I want to toss out there. This actually happened in the late 2000’s, I forget the year. In broad daylight, a young lady was beat to death in Seattle. It was close to the Space Needle in one of the nearby parks. So the area isn’t bad and there is a lot of people around those areas, more so during the day. There were quite a few people there, they watched and whipped their phones out. How would you react if you were there? A lot of folks put their family first, I am one of them, but certain things cannot stand...
     
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  6. OKcherokee

    OKcherokee Member

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    Sometimes there is the right thing, and there is the legal right thing.

    Legally, there is only a certain list of people that I can use deadly force to protect, and a complete stranger isn’t on that list. Self, spouse, child, parent, that’s about it.

    Now, would the local PD or DA actually file charges if you stepped in to save the stranger and ended up using your gun?
    Hard to say.

    Each situation is different.
     
  7. shivermetimbers

    shivermetimbers Member

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    At that time, Washington State, had language in there laws to stop a felony on top of Castle Doctrine and Stand Your Ground. I doubt it’s like that now.
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2019
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  8. Hammer

    Hammer Member

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    Some good food for thought, there. I can definitely say that since I began carrying years ago, I have found myself in situations where my anger and ego could have gotten the best of me, and probably would have in the past. Carrying has forced me to put those things in check and realize that the prudent thing to do is to back off and take a deep breath. I feel the weight of the responsibility for my actions at a whole different level.

    The situation of watching something terrible happening to someone else, in a public place, is also something I ponder in terms of what my possible response/s might be. Getting involved in something like that can be very tricky, and I think you need to be keenly aware of not letting your emotions get the best of you (once again), and also aware that you may be stumbling across a situation in mid-scenario in which you do not have all the facts and do not have a clear understanding of what led up to them.

    OKcherokee said it well - "Sometimes there is the right thing, and there is the legal right thing."

    But I think there is also a third category - the possibility that you think you are doing the right thing in the heat of the moment, with maybe only seconds to decide a course of action, only to tragically find out after the fact that you read the situation incorrectly and there's no going back.

    I sincerely hope I never find myself in that kind of scenario.
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2019
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  9. shivermetimbers

    shivermetimbers Member

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    Great point and I stand corrected.
     
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  10. Hammer

    Hammer Member

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    Sorry, I really hope that didn't come across as trying to 'correct' anything. I was just offering more food for thought, and like I said above, I don't think that there are often easy, black-and-white answers when we get into this type of discussion. And what compounds that is that, 1) you're probably going to have to make a decision quickly and hope it's the right one, and 2) be ready to explain and defend your actions and live with the consequences.

    High pressure stuff, to put it mildly.
     
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  11. shivermetimbers

    shivermetimbers Member

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    No need to be sorry. It’s a good discussion with different views. Sure all the details are not present and the wrong choice could be easily made just as well as the correct one—slippery slope. It’s hard not to let the human aspect or emotion take over and end the assault. Non of my choices involved shooting. Buffalo’ed em maybe...that’s a whole new level of trouble, I jest. I’m not sure why, but this has always bothered me. If people need help, you help. Sometimes it’s hard for me to look past that.

    But even then, you can get in trouble administering CPR, even if your certified. Say you come upon a crash, roll them into the recovery position or move them with head or neck injury. Crazy..
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2019
  12. Hammer

    Hammer Member

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    For sure. And of course, you don't want all of the above to lead to "analysis paralysis," either. In those situations, you need to do something, and do it quickly, whether it's a decision to intervene or not.

    I wasn't sure about posting these thoughts, and it's already brought up some really good, thought-provoking stuff and gone in directions I hadn't anticipated, which is great. My goal (for myself, to be honest) is to keep questioning things, and not let myself get complacent nor too narrow in my assumptions and focus. And to be realistic about the things I prepare for, rather than things that are so statistically improbable that it would be more sane to reason that I should leave my house wearing a haz-mat suit every morning. :D
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2019
  13. JHansenAK47

    JHansenAK47 Member

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    I think the idea of context and probability has less appeal to people. What interests them is more appealing than looking at what is actually there. I won't digress into a social commentary, but will say we have a pan-generational phenomenon occurring with electronics and social media that is retarding the development, and in some cases deteriorating; mental acuity, patience, and critical thinking skills.

    It really isn't that surprising to me that people push the emphasis to what interests them the most. It is really annoying that people cater to them without any reality check though. A more practical pragmatic approach is simply not as fashionable to build vicarious dreams upon.

    Moving to Alaska for me was interesting in how the theories advocated by the internet with regards to bear defense were not anywhere near the reality. I recently was shown a thread were some internet expert plainly stated that he wouldn't utilize any hunting guide that carried a 10mm instead of a "proper" large bore magnum revolver. Most guides prefer to use a rifle or shotgun in the field. Handguns are underpowered compared to a shotgun or rifle. The misinformation and general ignorance of people astounds me and that is coming from someone that found out he was ignorant and misinformed. In an amusing irony, I find Alaskans are unreasonably afraid of rattlesnakes, scorpions, and venomous spiders when traveling the lower 48.
     
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  14. Andy the Aussie

    Andy the Aussie Moderator of the Century Staff Member

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    The most critical survival tool available to you I or anyone else is our brain, without this all the available resources to survive an incident or issue are exponentially lowered. Knowing how to analyse a situation and make quick and reasoned decisions based on what is before you will most probably have more to do with you surviving than the latest wizzzzbang firearm or supadooper fire making doohicky. The real trick is (as is already stated here) is to be able to assess and AVOID getting into trouble in the first damn place. Unfortunately the best laid plans of mice and men will at times means that your first plan will fail and you will end up in strife. This is where, once again, the brain and analytical ability will need to come in to reset your course of action. The hardest thing when you deal with drones (by that I mean people who must be lead) is that often they have been trained to react to certain things certain ways, this is both good and bad...good in that they may have been this equipped to deal with many issues they encounter, bad because they lack the reasoning and thought to understand that what is placed in front of them is not quite what they have been trained for and are unable to adapt their knowledge to properly suit the situation.

    I travel with enough gear to happily survive most events that I am liable to encounter out here, in both the urban environment I live and work and the outdoor environment in which I feel most at home. But I am also confident that I have the the skills and knowledge and ADAPTABILITY to get by at those times when I am bound to be caught in a situation without anything with me at all.

    As an example, some years ago I was driving down a road to the west of Sydney, it is quite notorious for fatal accidents as it is narrow and winding. This evening there was low cloud and fog as well. Turns out I am the fourth arrival at the scene of a pretty nasty accident. A young guy at drifted across the road (sleeping is my guess) and took tthe end of an amco barrier on his passenger side he had been ejected from the vehicle (he was now naked from mid chest down) and in bad shape. The two people there before me were a mines first aid provider and a member of a bushfire brigade, the later had "taken over the scene" and was giving directions. There is no phone coverage in this area either. They had been there about 15mins by the time I arrived (I am not medically qualified or responsible for taking over but stopped in a genuine attempt to help). First aid'er was doing what he could with very limited supplies (and was not dealing well with what was before him) fire guy was barking orders and directing and traffic (not much !!) that slower around the scene and moving them on. My first question was has help been summoned..... ohhhhhh errrrrrr yeah....we should.... next car that came along (while I was having the conversation) I stopped and asked to either drive till they had phone reception and call 000 (911 in Aus) or stop when they got to a roadhouse I knew was a bit down the road and use the payphone there. Back to the patient, it was clear he had two broken legs (one at the femur the other at the tibia - broken in half as his lower leg was twisted and flopped 90 degrees to the are directly below his knee), I believe his pelvis was also toast and assumed neck and internal injuries. Helped make him as comfortable as I could, immobilised his legs and got some warmth over him. Then had the other guy take charge of his head (there was no collar available) to minimise the chance of further spinal injury....that was about 5mins work. As I did that I looked at the car, where it had struck and the embankment that dropped off next to us.....fire guy was still giving directions (which I mostly ignored but allowed my larger personality to remain in check)...I then quietly asked both first aid'er and fire guy if this was the only casualty....both looked at me like I had two heads.... talking to the victim (lots of reassurance and taking him away from the situation as we could) I asked if he was alone in the vehicle.....

    Without going through the rest of this, first aid guy was use to people coming to him with injuries and him dealing with them or calling more assistance (I did really like this guy and he was great but overwhelmed), fire guy liked to be in charge and hear his own voice, probably good at fighting a bushfire where the problem is there to see and training is applicable....neither had a sense of assessing the whole scene and looking past the hard bit there in front of them to what could be a bigger issue (vehicle was leaking a bit of fuel but I really didn't want to move the driver as it would have been excruciating and perhaps exasperating his injuries...but I had a plan for that and had fire guy get the extinguishers from each of the three vehicles there (that was a plus that all three had one)), neither had considered a second casualty and neither had considered sending for help (but seemed fixated on phones without signal).... it was a long hour till help arrived, this would normally have been responded to by a chopper but the low cloud and fog prevented that.

    I handed over to the ambulance staff, identified the location of the second casualty and gave my details to the local police who responded as well. About a month later I got a call from the Constable who had attended the scene, he wanted to know if it was OK for him to pass my details to the driver's father who wished to thank me. Poor guy was still in bad shape and had a rough time ahead but he was alive and his father was grateful.

    What it all drove home was that three different and presumably "capable" people saw very different things and priorities at the same horrible scene, how each processed them was different and the decisions and prioritisation for each differed....and I don't mean for this to sound like *I* was the only one right, or the only one who saw everything....not by a long shot, just I saw the other two fall into just what they "knew" without looking wider.
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2019
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  15. Hammer

    Hammer Member

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    More great food for thought. Tunnel vision in high-stress situations is a very real thing. Thanks for chiming in, Andy.
     
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  16. Hammer

    Hammer Member

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    I was just reading through this piece on Lucky Gunner and while the topic is "pocket pistols," as usual Claude Werner has a lot of things to say that question the dominant paradigm in general and I think it gets at some of what I was talking about in starting this thread:

    "The big problem is that most of the training industry has its roots either in the military or law enforcement communities. And myself included — longtime military officer, special forces, etc. I think sometimes we in the community lose sight of the fact that that mission is different. That, for instance, a law enforcement officer, when they get into position of having — having to shoot someone. The reason for that is because they have to take that person into custody.
    They have to put hands-on, force compliance, and take them into custody. You need more resources to do that than you do to just force, what we called in special forces, a break in contact with the enemy. And with criminals, that’s all we’re trying to accomplish as private citizens — a break in contact. “Look I don’t want to have anything to do with you. I want you to stop trying to hurt me and then I want to get out of here.”


    "I’m concerned about our preoccupation as an industry with what John Johnston calls "sentinel events." That very distinct outlier. And if we had unlimited training resources, okay that’s great, let’s be prepared for everything. But ultimately, much of life is ruled by the Pareto Principle — the 80/20 rule where 80 percent of the benefit comes from 20 percent of the resource expenditure. So I like to think about focusing on — let’s solve the 80/20 problem first. And then if we have time left over, let’s think about the other things. So for instance, the biggest problem that we have is still one person, usually a guy, tries to rob us or assault us or kill us or whatever. Let’s be ready to deal with him first. In most cases, one or two shots will deal with that problem. Then after we’ve figured that problem out, how to solve it, then let’s move on to the further outliers and ultimately to the sentinel events. And right away, people want to focus on the sentinel event."

    https://www.luckygunner.com/lounge/wrong-about-pocket-pistols/
     
  17. Rick R

    Rick R Member

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    I’ve seen self anointed experts who blanket prescribe a five shot J frame in a cargo pocket for EDC sans reload and other experts who have a packing list including an RDS Glock 17 with two 24 round magazines, a Glock 26, large tactical folder in each pocket, OC spray, 1000 lumen light, IFAK and an inflatable raft (ok, I added that :) ). As to “context and probability” five rounds of .38 is enough, until it isn’t. We don’t know in advance what breed of poo storm your day may bring, but it’s pretty grim carrying enough gear to thwart a Russian invasion.

    As a retired LEO I’ve learned how much trouble you can stir for yourself by answering the call to “do something”. Really the best technique a young man can learn is counting to ten before taking action if he’s not in immediate danger. A quick scan and assessment of what is actually happening then decide whether your “help” is needed or even wanted. Cops, firemen, medics and military are programmed to take control but as a citizen you are responsible for you and yours first. Everyone else is there for your education and amusement.

    I live in a low crime rural setting, near a low crime city in a low crime state. I know home invasions, store robberies and drug zombie muggings can still occur so I carry one of my mid to full sized guns with a reload 24/7. I like cartridges that start with .4 but don’t believe I need enough ammo to act as a dive belt (I’ve fallen into more bodies of water than shootouts). I EDC my Izzie II, SAK, small flashlight, and lighter as tools not weapons. And I’ve adopted careful observation as a tactic.
     
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  18. Hammer

    Hammer Member

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    Good thoughts, Rick. Thanks for chiming in.
     
  19. C99c

    C99c Member

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    Like Rick I live in a very low violent crime area and I have to drive over a half an hour to get to somewhere big enough to be thought of as a "city". I've also stopped mowing my grass to watch LEOs chase a violent felon across an adjacent yard twice in the last two decades. Once the guy the Marshalls tackled was on the top ten list for a neighboring state.
    I also tend to spend a fair amount of time in medium to large cities.

    I've gone back and forth in the last two decades on what is "enough" to carry for my situation versus what is "too much". I've carried two guns. I've carried a reload. I've carried neither. I thought OC was worthless. Ive carried small lights and large lights.

    I've taken crap classes and really good classes. I've followed the advice of folks that today I wouldn't want to be seen in the same room as. I was fortunate pretty early to meet some serious people whose priorities were getting better and helping other get better and not just making a dollar or propping up their egos. At some point I got better at screening out the BS and began to focus on the things that really make me better.

    Today I find myself far more comfortable at 2 A.M., "unarmed", in an unfamiliar place interacting with a sketchy stranger than I was at twenty five standing in my own yard carrying two guns at noon. Experience, hard work and quality training has brought me to the place I'm at.

    What do I like to carry if possible? The stuff below. If I can't carry that stuff then I just deal with it.

    - like Rick, a medium to large semi-auto. Reliable brand with a tested ammo. I don't generally carry a reload at the moment.

    -OC spray, because there's a lot more legally and socially acceptable situations where you can spray someone or something than hit or shoot them. It's not a fight stopper. It's purpose is to buy me time or give me distance. Period.

    - a very bright flashlight if I'm going to be out at dark which is all about information. I want all the information I can get. When it's dark the light provides me more information than just my eyes. Any other benefit it offers is just a plus.

    -A knife around 3". Useful tools are useful.

    Basically, I want options, information and time. If I'm not given information and time I want to be able to get it so I choose my tools based on that. I choose my behavior based on that. I work out hard based on that. I also want to control what information I give out to other people. I choose my tools, dress and behavior based on that.

    I prioritize my time and money. I don't take carbine classes. My pistol and empty handed skills aren't to a level where a carbine class would be anything but a waste of time and money. I don't take classes where they have me rappel down a building and into a window to shoot.

    There's a quote by Craig Douglas that I'm going to misremember at this moment and butcher that goes along the lines of "if you're in a room with a few guys and you can't keep at least half of them from raping you then maybe you shouldn't be taking a rifle class". I'll look up the actual quote later...

    Also, I PAY ATTENTION. All the time. Without looking like a weirdo.

    I smile at strangers. I try new things amd enjoy interacting with people. Because otherwise what's the point?


    The above ended up as a bit of rambling and some of it poorly worded but I hope my point came across.
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2019
  20. Hammer

    Hammer Member

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    Great thoughts, C99c. And fully agreed.
     
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