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Old January 26, 2015, 09:19 PM   #1
Willie Lowman
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Bad habits can get you killed

I was taking a carbine class a two years ago. At one point we were shooting the 1-2-3-4-5 drill weak handed from behind cover. The instructor pointed out to me that when I would finish the drill, I would step out from behind cover to peer at the targets. I had gotten in the habit of looking at my targets to try to see if all my shots had gone in the A zone after I had run a course of fire.

In his book No Second Place Winner, Jordan mentions a cop that was killed with empty brass in his pockets. He had apparently gotten in the habit of putting his empties in his pockets before reloading his revolver.

I took a friend to his first IPSC shoot last year. Until then he was a back yard target shooter. He would shoot one magazine, close the slide on an empty chamber and go reload his magazine. He was in such a habit of doing that he would close the slide on an empty chamber before reloading his pistol while he was in the middle of the course of fire. I pointed that out to him after the match and he became flustered. "I just like shooting that way!" he told me.

Practice doesn't make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect.

Are there any bad habits you out there in TFL land have observed or heaven forbid, found yourself getting into?
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Old January 26, 2015, 09:41 PM   #2
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Are there any bad habits you out there in TFL land have observed or heaven forbid, found yourself getting into?
When I shot bowling pin, I made a mag carrier for my belt.

I got used to grabbing the mag from them.

I later got a Carry permit, and carried the spare mag in my pocket.

I started shooting in a local IDPA match, and shot with the mag carrier on my belt...... for a while. I could not really carry that double mag carrier on the street- it was too big and canted out away from my body (designed that way), so I put the mags in my pocket the way I carried every day. You'd think I could remember where I had put them right at the beginning of the stage, but for a long while, my left hand would be fumbling at my belt for a mag that was not there, especially on the second mag change in the string.
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Old January 27, 2015, 10:51 AM   #3
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This dovetails pretty nicely with the recent thread/rant regarding the utility of competition for defensive training.

As you've aptly suggested (and as most thinking people would realize) it's not any singular activity which "will get you killed", but rather habits ingrained as a result. That's an important distinction.

I prefer to call them "range scars" rather than any reference to a particular class or form of competition, because on balance that's what they are.

The one big habit I can think of is the tendency to holster too soon, and too quickly. In a real world encounter, the gun is likely going to be placed on the ground upon approach of LE ... or perhaps holstered very slowly and deliberately in some cases.

I've also had to force myself to train in street clothes/cover/gear, as opposed to open-top OWB holster. My magazines almost never go in a belt carrier now, as I don't wear one while out-n-about in my daily life.
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Old January 27, 2015, 01:06 PM   #4
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I have in past years, only shot bolt action rifles from a rest at the range.
Load 3, shoot 3, check the spotting scope. Sit back down load 3 ect. Always loaded the rifle and of course worked the bolt sitting down. Sometimes I would load three in the magazine standing up, but the bolt was never closed till I sat down.

I kinda feel with my acquire of AKs and Ars I may have picked up a bad habit.

Sit down load 3 only shoot three, I do that to get my muscle memory around the loading mags, inserting them, charging the rifle ect instead of just loading a 20 -30 round mag at a time.

When I shoot 3 and get up and go around to the spotting scope, rifle empty bolt locked back - I have then been standing back up after viewing the group, reloading the mag, inserting it and charging the rifle before I sit back down. I have not been engaging the safety.

Unlike a bolt action, its easier to reload that way when the rifle is bench rested. Sitting down is more difficult, less ergonomic with larger mags and charging handles.

Now the rifle is securely bench rested and I am only sitting down after I charge the rifle but ---- Murphy.

That process will be re thought.

I have never used a safety on the range with a bolt action rifle. The rifle is either being fired or empty, action open.

With my AKs and Ars, there is the second or two after I charge the rifle I am not in full control as I sit down.

Not good.

Last edited by Jim567; January 27, 2015 at 01:14 PM.
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Old January 27, 2015, 02:19 PM   #5
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I started shooting in a local IDPA match, and shot with the mag carrier on my belt...... for a while. I could not really carry that double mag carrier on the street- it was too big and canted out away from my body (designed that way), so I put the mags in my pocket the way I carried every day. You'd think I could remember where I had put them right at the beginning of the stage, but for a long while, my left hand would be fumbling at my belt for a mag that was not there, especially on the second mag change in the string.
Interestingly I went the reverse route. I now use an identical belt mag as I the ones I do in competition (just screw tightened slightly so day to day use doesn't see a mag bouncing on the ground.

I switched pistols as well. My CC is now just a smaller version of my competition pistol, and I will run my CC in competition about once a quarter as well.
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Old January 27, 2015, 03:36 PM   #6
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I've gotten into a bad habit of not doing a chamber check, after loading a round into the pipe of my rifle or pistol.

My next bad habit is sometimes failing to do a "search and access," after shooting a string --- which is breaking the tunnel vision effect that your cones in your eyes can muster if you don't break-off eye contact with the target --- and search and access for other bad guys that might deserve it.

You can Google: Chris Costa Carbine Master - YouTube
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Old January 27, 2015, 03:39 PM   #7
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Ask revolver shooters why they enjoy shooting a revolver, and as a group, they'll invariably say "so we don't have to pick up brass". Good reason. Bad habit.

The norm among many revolver shooters is to open the cylinder and carefully eject brass into their hand or a box, rather than letting it hit the ground. Folks, and fellow revolver shooters, when you need to reload, you need to reload, so keeping brass from hitting the ground so you don't have to pick it up later is a bad habit to get into, IMO.

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Old January 27, 2015, 03:51 PM   #8
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HAHAHA! Mr. Borland, unless my eyes are fooling me, are you running the Uncle Mike's rubber grip on that revolver?

My take:
I ended up with a LE trade Model 10 round butt and it had one of these on it and I love it and have since snagged a set every time I see one languishing at a gun show. These are out of production. They are no frills, like everything from Uncle Mike's, but they fit me so well, I'm a genuine fan.

Sorry for thread drift.
On topic: I have heard the "handful of brass in the pocket of the deceased officer" so many times that I think it belongs in the Gundood Hall of Fame of honored and retired stories.
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Old January 27, 2015, 05:02 PM   #9
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You have a good eye (and taste) Sevens .

Yes, UM grips are my choice as well, and I've snagged a number of them while I could. Too bad they didn't make them for an N-frame (or did they? ).
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Old January 27, 2015, 07:00 PM   #10
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I used to do a lot of pistol practice, and I always loaded, reloaded, and did clearance drills the same way. One day, I did a malfunction drill that started with an empty chamber...and later realized I had done my standard "mag, rack, safety" routine. Oh, I hit the target very nicely, but I was expecting to do so on the second trigger pull, not the first!
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Old January 28, 2015, 11:17 AM   #11
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... I've gotten into a bad habit of not doing a chamber check, after loading a round into the pipe of my rifle or pistol. ...
Opinions vary ... I consider doing a chamber check a "range habit" to be broken. It's pretty easy to be certain that the gun is loaded without (IMHO) unnecessary fiddling with the gun.

I don't think it's going to necessarily "get you killed", but I always wonder about the guys (especially in a self-defense oriented class) who reflexively do the "chicka-chika" about three times after every string of fire. Seems like it turns into a kind of nervous fidget for some guys.
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Old January 28, 2015, 02:56 PM   #12
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After inserting a magazine into the rifle or pistol --- then either racking the slide or hitting the paddle or charging handle --- you can see the round go into the chamber {with the firearm in your workspace} --- but anytime I have a failure to fire --- it's mostly because I didn't fully insert a magazine into my AK or my AR, and failing to do a chamber check or failing to see if the round was loaded into the chamber. Loading a fully loaded magazine into an AR makes it a little harder for full magazine insertion --- that's why some shooters only load 28 rounds into a 30 round AR magazine; which became a life saving habit for U.S. soldiers during the Vietnam War.

On the other hand...I don't like to get in the habit of getting my firearm into my workspace {while charging the gun} at our range --- with the muzzle pointed upwards --- because the muzzle will be pointed over the backstop berm and hill, which have residential houses located over a couple of hills; beyond the backstop at our range.
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Old January 28, 2015, 05:20 PM   #13
zombietactics
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... I don't like to get in the habit of getting my firearm into my workspace {while charging the gun} at our range --- with the muzzle pointed upwards --- because the muzzle will be pointed over the backstop berm and hill, which have residential houses located over a couple of hills; beyond the backstop at our range. ...
For me, this is a classic "range scar". I get 100% why the range might have rules like that ... for the reasons you mention.

In the world outside the range, the workspace position is probably one of the safer positions to point a gun.

That's situation dependent, of course, so it should never be a matter of dogma ... "down" is very bad in a boat or while upstairs ... "up" is not so great if there is a floor above you, etc.

It has to be put in context: How many NDs have you had while charging the gun? If the answer is "none" over decades of shooting ...
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Old January 29, 2015, 02:49 PM   #14
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Of course...it's not advisable to do press/chamber checks during tactical mag changes for a sustained rate of fire or looking to see if the round entered the chamber. I'm not trying to say that you should adopt to my style of shooting --- everybody has there own style --- Yet I believe it's better insurance to do a press check before a round of shooting occurs, instead of finding that you have a failure to fire and having to do a tap rack bang maneuver; especially while in a hostile situation.

On ND's at my range {AGC at Marriottsville}...I've been responsible for a few --- yet at those times --- all of my muzzle's have been pointed at the backstop berm while the line was still hot. My latest...was a slamfire on my semi auto French Mas 49/56 --- when I slammed the bolt {with a free floating firing pin} on a commercial soft primer 308 round. I corrected the problem buy buying a titanium firing pin for my Mas. The other time --- I was talking to my friends --- when I stroked the charging handle on my AK, and thinking that the gun was empty --- I supposedly dry fired it --- the gun fired and the bullet went off into the backstop berm. Once while closing the bolt on my Kimber 22 --- while wearing gloves, I brushed the trigger with my gloved hand...triggering a ND.

Yet I've been witness or heard about other events of ND's at our range. The first one was about 15 years ago --- on a very windy day --- when a shooter about 10 feet away from me was pointing his hi-power rifle down about 15 feet in front of the firing line, at the same time shouting "safety doesn't work," SAFETY DOESEN'T WORK"...POW --- the gun fired, and the high wind blew mud, dirt and grass --- from the bullet impact --- all over my face and safety glasses. That shooter left the range in a hurry --- and the RSO ask me if I gotten his range badge number and I said no.

About 10 years ago --- about 10 feet from me --- one shooter just missed hitting one of his feet, when he had a ND on his 1911; with the bullet hitting the concrete firing pad.


Seven years ago --- about 5 feet away from me --- a member had his guest have an ND, when he closed the bolt on his hi power bolt gun --- with the muzzle pointed upwards --- the gun fired --- thusly putting a bullet hole in the metal overhead canopy of our firing pad. I did report him to the RSO.

There's more...but the latest one was from an unknown shooter at our range, who shot and blew out the whole outdoor speaker system, buy blasting a bullet hole in a metal speaker and the overhead canopy at our Barnes range.

I just cringe when I see shooter's close a bolt on a gun, who's muzzle is not pointed at the backstop berm --- but instead over the backstop berm and especially over the hill beyond the backstop berm --- though there is no written rule against doing it at our range --- except that all muzzles shall be pointed downrange or upwards. I don't mind if the muzzle is pointed 6 inches downwards past the concrete firing line --- but downrange --- and preferably not pointed over the hill beyond the backstop berm, or downwards into the concrete firing pad; while charging the gun by putting a live round in the chamber and closing the bolt or action.
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Old January 30, 2015, 07:26 AM   #15
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In his book No Second Place Winner, Jordan mentions a cop that was killed with empty brass in his pockets. He had apparently gotten in the habit of putting his empties in his pockets before reloading his revolver.
Two points here...
1. The issue of brass in the pockets was never determined to be the reason for the officer's death
2. The issue of brass in the pockets was a urban legend that even Jordan did not realize. No brass was found in the officers pockets at Newhall.
http://www.policeone.com/Officer-Saf...whall-Incident

So while it is true that one should not engage in bad habits during a firefight, it is also important to understand the difference between facts and urban legends. There are plenty of bad examples to note without drawing on fictional lore.
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Old January 30, 2015, 05:03 PM   #16
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Jordan's book was published five years before the Newhall incident so it is a safe bet he was not referring to that shooting. It is entirely possible that he was repeating a old wives tale about empty brass or perhaps there is truth in that story.
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Old January 30, 2015, 05:35 PM   #17
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Well by golly, you are right Willie, sort of, but in the case of Jordon's example, the practice of putting brass into one's pocket most certainly was NOT detrimental to the fighter. The officer was Border Patrolman Sam McKone. He was asked about the bulges in his pocket and he thrust his hand into the pocket in response to the query. McKone was very much alive and well. He didn't die as you reported (pages 105 and 106).
https://ia801801.us.archive.org/14/i...ordan_text.pdf

Where said practice has been reported stated as detrimental, however, was Newhall and it didn't even happen there.
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Old January 30, 2015, 06:08 PM   #18
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Well, DNS, It looks like I have misquoted Bill Jordan. I will have to reread that to prevent further confusion
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Old February 1, 2015, 11:07 AM   #19
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Didn't the FBI agents in the Miami (or was it LA) bank robber shootout have brass in their pockets?
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Old February 1, 2015, 11:57 AM   #20
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While I don't have details (feel free to do your own research) I heard the "brass in the pocket" story in the late 60s (possibly early 70s) in New York.

It may be an urban legend, or a blending of different real incidents, today, who can say?

What was the story going around back then was a New York officer (trooper IIRC), who was in a gunfight, and was killed. According to the story, he had fired his revolver dry, and reloaded it, (firing twice more depending on who is telling the story), and was trying to stuff his empties into the tight uniform pants pocket when the bad guy got him.

The explanation given was that under the stress, the officer fell back on his training, and what he was trained to do at the police range was fire one cylinder, reload, and police his brass before firing again. According to the story, because of this incident, police training was changed to policing the brass after ALL shots had been fired.

Believe what you like, the real point is that if you practice a certain way, when you don't have time to dispassionately consider your actions, you will act as you have trained. If you act, at all.
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Old February 1, 2015, 04:49 PM   #21
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What was the story going around back then was a New York officer (trooper IIRC), who was in a gunfight, and was killed. According to the story, he had fired his revolver dry, and reloaded it, (firing twice more depending on who is telling the story), and was trying to stuff his empties into the tight uniform pants pocket when the bad guy got him.

The explanation given was that under the stress, the officer fell back on his training, and what he was trained to do at the police range was fire one cylinder, reload, and police his brass before firing again. According to the story, because of this incident, police training was changed to policing the brass after ALL shots had been fired.
The border patrol, Newhall, now somebody in New York? Egads, cops were being slaughtered with brass in their pockets!

The purported changes after the NY incident is interesting because the CHP made the exact same change after Newhall, based on the rumor, where the brass in the pockets didn't happen.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newhall_massacre

There sure do seem to be a lot of people getting killed because of brass being stuffed in their pockets, changes in policy being made, yet actual documentary information to substantiate such claims. Heck, here is a whole thread on this. http://thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=133981

Maybe we would move away from repeating them?

Yes, you tend to fight like you train. That is indeed well known, well taught. Can't we use actual documented issues to stress the point point?
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Old February 3, 2015, 06:25 PM   #22
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Double Naught Spy, you have thoroughly debunked the myth of cops getting shot while putting brass in their pockets. Heck. I feel down right safe doing it now. If I ever find myself in a gun fight, I'll start shoving brass into my pocket because nobody in the history of anybody has been shot while they were putting spent brass in their pockets.

Quote:
Can't we use actual documented issues to stress the point point?
Well why don't you give us some to discus?

I admitted I was wrong and I misquoted Bill Jordan but you are still beating this "empty brass" drum. Do you have some bad shooting habits you would like to share with the group?
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Old February 5, 2015, 02:17 PM   #23
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The idea of training how you would fight and fight how you train is a very reasonable adage. I avoid timed regulated competition for this reason. I feel that armed self defense is a very martial skill which certainly should include practice drills but I prefer not to muddy the water by trying to practice within the context of a gun game. A person is going to do things differently when slave to a timer. They will also do things differently when performing within the context of a game as opposed to a drill where you are focused of survival tactics.
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Old February 5, 2015, 03:06 PM   #24
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Bad habits can get you killed
"Habits" and "instincts" can both get someone killed. Instincts can be insidious because some folks always seem to think "instinctual" somehow must always be a good thing.

The trick is to learn the difference between good ones and bad ones, and how the nature of either may end up being defined by situational context and circumstances.

More often than not, when I'm working with a shooter who does something weird or counterproductive during a drill or qual scenario, and I ask them about it, they usually either weren't aware they were doing it, or had no explanation for why they did it. Okay. We can work with that.

However, there's always the folks who have an explanation and are adamant to justify something that's hindering them in some significant way, and they just won't let go of trying to defend some quirk or bad habit that could easily get them killed in an actual confrontation. Their epitaph.

I've been introducing some of the younger firearms instructors to the old adage of Train like you fight, or die like you train.
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Old February 6, 2015, 10:22 AM   #25
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I avoid timed regulated competition for this reason.
Unfortunately, very few ranges allow setting up anything like meaningful drills.
The action matches can be a very good way to do so.
If you don't want to play the game, there's no reason you can't run the courses of fire in a more useful fashion to your needs.
Betcha' there's others who attend these matches who would join you, too.
All that is probably required is to let the RO know what you have in mind.
And politely ignoring all the advice as to how to get a better score.
By avoiding matches, you might be missing opportunities to enjoy very elaborate stages that would be nearly impossible to create on your own.
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