Thursday, September 07, 2006

Women Learning to Shoot

I am often interested in many of the products that people are selling through BlogAds on my site, (I guess because the ads seem to match up to the topics I blog about) so I was pleasantly surprised when an outfit called DTI Publications Inc. ran an ad for a book entitled, Women Learning to Shoot: A Guide for Law Enforcement Officers. I immediately ordered a copy and spent this afternoon reading over this nifty little gem.

The book could not have arrived at a better time--it really inspired me to want to practice my shooting again--something I have not done since I had my ICD (Implantable Cardiac Defibrillator) put in last year--mainly because the darn thing hurts and I don't want to irritate it. The first thing one of the doctors told me after the surgery was not to use a rifle on the side of my chest where the device was for a while. I told him that I would be more likely to use a handgun anyway so it wouldn't matter. The next thing I knew, the doctor had dropped off some literature on "studies" indicating that more people are killed with a handgun in their home by family members etc. (yawn) than use their weapons for any type of self-defense (this is actually not true). I laughed at the PC jargon and at the silly studies he gave me that boiled down to the fact that handguns can be used inappropriately by drunk, mentally impaired felons--well, Duhhhhh! I never needed a Ph.D to figure that out.

Anyway, my point here is not to go off on a tangent on the benefits of gun rights vs. gun control, but rather to focus on the great tips in this book written by two women, Diane Nicholl & Vicki Farnam. They focus on tips for female students who are learning to shoot and label their first chapter, "Risk and Opportunity". They talk to the female student about how to manage the mental risk of shooting and use a bit of psychology to talk to a fear of success that women may have when shooting.

The next chapters describe what a stance is and how to get a good stance, along with pictures and practice techniques. "Grip" is described in a subsequent chapter and I think, is quite important to get right, especially for women who tend to have small hands. The book describes a Modified Master Grip for women who have small hands or wrists which is a problem that I have had for most of my life. Technical tips for women are frequent throughout the book such as, "Women have sensitive ears. Make sure you have good hearing protection and it fits. Use foam ear plugs and muffs if necessary." I also like the section on emotional reactions to shooting and dealing with recoil--I know that I have a tendency to flinch at times which often knocks my front and rear sights out of alignment.

Finally, the last few chapters look at gun safety and gunhandling skills. The information is given in an easy to digest format that even the busiest woman can take in quickly. Overall, the book is quite good and I recommend it for women who want to learn to shoot as well as those who just need to perfect their technique.

Update: Glenn has some video of me shooting two years ago here. As you can see, I tend to flinch when I pull the trigger. Any advice from experts out there on how to get rid of this bad habit?

142 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, Dr. Helen, you are one hot, lead-packing mama. Let this be a warning to anyone who would even think about doing any harm to you.

Kidding aside, I taught my daughter self-defense (judo) when she was younger and how to shoot when she was older (of course, with all the safety precautions you have mentioned). Violence to women are done by predators who can sense weakness and helplessness. If a woman can show that she can and will fight back, they usually think twice.

Lately, my daughter has been working a late shift for her summer job and I gave her some pepper spray. I will now always be around to protect her and she needs to have the means to overcome the vulnerability of being by herself.

9:23 PM, September 07, 2006  
Blogger ronin1516 said...

helen, i am waiting for Greg K and all the PC types to start fulminating about "how guns are bad", that "only evil right-wing folks would advocate shooting an assailant" etc etc.
Plus like on other Blogs, I think you ought to get rid of the options that allow a person to use "Anonymous" or "Other" as identities to post.

9:53 PM, September 07, 2006  
Anonymous Vicki Small said...

Second issue first: Ronin1516, I use the "Other" category to post because I do not have a blogger account. I have my own blogs through a different program, and I do appreciate being able to post comments without having to open an unnecessary account--and without having to be anonymous.

Now--I am not a shooter and don't own a gun. About 30 years ago, I came close to putting a hole in my then-husband's head, even though the .22 pump I was holding was not pointed in his direction, at all. Nor did I intend to fire.

We were in the den of our house; he was sitting at one end of the room, and I was bored. I looked in the closet, and there was the pump. I had shot it, under his guidance, years earlier, and he was coaching me to be sure the safety was on. The hammer slipped, the gun fired, the bullet ricocheted off the baseboard of one wall and into the wall behind his head. The angle at which it flew allowed it to miss him by maybe an inch or two. A good argument for training, for anyone who does have a gun! I've never picked up a gun, since then, except to remove them from the house when he was suicidal.

However, I'm not a fan of factoids. While I was teaching freshman composition, several years ago, a young woman chose to write her persuasive essay on the need to eliminate handguns. Fortunately, I had learned to require my students to submit copies of all of their resource materials. This student was using "statistics" about guns, in general, as "evidence" against handguns. As I skimmed through the materials during a workshop, I pointed out to her that she was misusing her materials, because they weren't about handguns. They simply did not support her arguments.

She ignored my admonition to use care with her sources, to find some that backed up her statements or choose a different topic, and submitted the same paper for a grade. I marked her down for it.

10:13 PM, September 07, 2006  
Blogger geekWithA.45 said...

The Farnams are top notch gun trainers. Booya.

11:20 PM, September 07, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"manage the mental risk of shooting and use a bit of psychology to talk to a fear of success that women may have when shooting."

What does that mean? I assumed reading the post they were talking about target practice at a range. There's a mental risk in that? I'm confused.....

11:36 PM, September 07, 2006  
Blogger Graham Strouse said...

Interesting. I don't favor guns as my weapon-of-choice, but it's mostly lack of training, talent & vision in the -3.5 range that discourages me. It's not a moral issue, though. I do think guidelines on firearm qualification ara a little lax, especially in urban and suburban regions.

From a practical standpoint, if pressed, I favor lightweight, stable, light-calibre automatics with a big clip.

I can't imagine myself being in a situation where I just can't see myself in a situation where I'd need the stopping power of, say, a.50 calibre Desert Eagle.

I'll take a weapon with a high ROF with the value meal and a large coke to go, please.

12:26 AM, September 08, 2006  
Anonymous Lurker at the Threshold said...

Good post, Dr. Helen!

I like the idea of women with firearms, given the strength and size differential that exists most of the time (no, not all the time, but I think even the PC Police know what I mean).

Anyway, here is my Jonathan Swift solution to many problems in society:

1. Ownership of any firearms by a male becomes a felony.

2. Carrying a firearm by women becomes compulsory by law.

Let the experiment go for five years. It would be interesting to see the results on society.

Now, for the literal minded, no, I don't mean all that literally. But I am reminded of the quote ascribed to the Old West:

"God didn't make men equal. Colonel Colt did."

Happy shooting, Dr. Helen!

1:07 AM, September 08, 2006  
Blogger John Doe said...

I just know I'm sticking my head in the lion's mouth here, althought I'm really not looking for an argument, I just want to express my feelings as, indeed, have the rest of you. Generally I respect Helen's opinions, but I personally have never been able to get past the simple fact that a handgun is a machine designed specifically for killing people and yet one of the most powerful nations on earth feels the need to distribute them throughout the population. The results are obvious in terms of the numbers of deaths by gunshot in that country when compared to other countries where guns are normally illegal. I know all the arguments, but I really don't care, guns are repugnant by their very nature because they are machines for killing people, whether or not they are actually used for such. If I owned a collection of instruments of torture and practised with them to make sure I knew how to use them should the, er, need arise, I am quite sure I would be viewed as at least weird, if not possibly dangerous. To me, the same goes for guns, and my attitude towards their owners.

I am reminded of a specific example - I had a girlfriend once, who, on our only date invited me into her home for a glass of wine, and then, for no obvious reason, brought out her gun to show me. I don't know what her game was, but the way she handled the thing, almost as if it were a favored pet, gave me the creeps. I don't think she was even aware of my reaction, and I made my excuses and left as soon as I could. If she was trying to scare me off, it worked, because I never called her back, I sure as hell had not done anything to deserve any "warning".

OK, go ahead, fire away, tell me I'm a whining peacenik with no sense of reality, or something.

Otherwise, check this out, which takes the perversion to a whole other level. Page on through to the hand grenade, which doesn't even have the excuse that it takes any skill to use, besides and ability to hurl it further than the blast radius.

2:19 AM, September 08, 2006  
Blogger TestSubjectXP said...

I made my excuses and left as soon as I could.

Smart man.

I treat weapon-wielding women like the threat that they are. I'm never allowing myself to feel comfortable around one.

2:39 AM, September 08, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"... yet one of the most powerful nations on earth feels the need to distribute them throughout the population."

What does this mean? For the most part our laws discourage gun ownership.

I don't own a gun, have never even shot one, and they definitely make me uncomfortable. This we have in common.

If I were a liberal, this would be reason enough to want to ban them. As a right-winger, though, I am happy to allow adults the choice of using them to protect themselves...with proper preparation, as Dr. Helen is obviously pursuing. I also favor people deciding for themselves whether to ingest drugs. We ought to treat adults like adults.

Besides, my innate sexism makes me think of Dr. Helen in leather, popping her handgun at Osama, that nut who runs Iran, or some other worthy target. Who says strong, smart women aren't sexy?

Also, I don't see reasonable measures to defend oneself as "perversion." Odd that anyone would.

John Salmon

2:39 AM, September 08, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

lurker-

That's got to be the nuttiest thing I've ever heard. There are plenty of violent, crazy, lying, swindling, sadistic, vicious women.

What is it these days? Why don't people seem to realize that there are just as many female criminals and scumbags as male? (And yes, I know the crime rates. Many female scumbags never answer for what they do.)

3:09 AM, September 08, 2006  
Blogger Helen said...

Lurker,

I hope you are only joking! The point of my post is that if women decide to have a gun, it is important to be trained and to understand fully the risks and responsibilites of ownership.


John Doe,

You do not have to agree with me and you may never want to be near a gun--that is your right, just as I would not hire a "peacenik" as a bodyguard, but others may feel more comfortable with that. Anyway, thanks for disagreeing in a reasonable way. People have the right to fear and dislike guns--just not the right to project their fear into laws etc. that would hamper my ability to defend myself.

7:30 AM, September 08, 2006  
Anonymous Nathan said...

Dr. Helen, thanks for bringing this book to my notice. I've been trying gently for several years to convince my wife to learn to shoot, for sport if nothing else. Perhaps a book like this is a key to unlock that door for her.

8:29 AM, September 08, 2006  
Blogger rosignol said...

OK, go ahead, fire away, tell me I'm a whining peacenik with no sense of reality, or something.

Actually, I'm more interested in if you still have the lady's phone number.

As every man with a brain knows, women are inherently dangerous- if you didn't realize that until you were aware that she was armed, you are a fool.

8:31 AM, September 08, 2006  
Blogger Serr8d said...

Well, I'ma a gun owner and a concealed-carry card carrier, and have a wife and daughter, both of whom know how to handle a firearm.

Training is key. Guns as potrayed by Hollywierd are toys, real guns are not. I would like to see mandantory training for weapons purchased by first-time buyers, expecially for those who have never owned or fired a weapon. I would also like to see all hollywood 'guns' (even those in existing movies) be changed to bananas, to get over the point that such things are not real and should not be emulated in real life...]

8:32 AM, September 08, 2006  
Anonymous John Davies said...

Helen-

This post came at a good time for me. Next weekend I'm taking the NRA pistol instructor class.

I started shooting after September 11th and have taught a handful of friends how to shoot. I am always on the lookout for ways to improve my instruction skills. I'm sure this will fill in some holes in my knowledge.

From what I have seen and heard about the lines at the sheriff's office to get concealed carry permits, there are loads of people that need instruction.

8:40 AM, September 08, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My offer is still open. Anyone who is in the knoxville area and wants to go shooting, shoot me an email. Be happy to get you started.

-SayUncle
sayuncle at gmail dot com

8:46 AM, September 08, 2006  
Blogger al said...

I may have to get that book for my wife. She's gone shooting before but never got into it. Thanks for the tip.

To go along with Uncle's offer - there are a number of gun bloggers out there making the same offer.

8:54 AM, September 08, 2006  
Blogger David said...

Anecdote of the day....


The average woman ususally shoots better then the average man

Having been on the sporting clays range quite abit, my observation is that if women are willing to give it a go, they pick it up and shoot better than men with the same level of experience.

Most of them are not fixated enough to buy enough shells and invest enought time to get to the competitive level, but at the entry level, women do well

And its fun - my wife after 10 years of tolerating my habit finally got to the range to shoot. And she likes it - so give it a go if you can.

8:59 AM, September 08, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh Helen...
Books aren't entitled to anything. They are titled.

9:05 AM, September 08, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do find it humorous that the men are the ones posting their discomfort with women being educated and experienced in shooting and owning a gun. Truly.

For the one who stated there are as many female criminals as male, that explains why we hear of so many females abducting, raping and murdering innocent men. Right? Please.

I grew up around guns as my father, grandfather, brother, etc. were hunters but I never took an interest. They made me nervous and I felt pepper spray would do the trick if needed.

Recently, a close friend of mine was abducted, raped, beaten to the point beyond recognition and murdered senselessly by a repeat sex offender who was out on parole. You tell me, had she had a weapon with her would that not have helped to scare this guy away? And, she DID fight back he just overpowered her.

My perspective has changed. Since that has occured I've been going to the range with my husband and learning more about how to protect myself. It isn't something to be taken casually and obviously it is a dangerous weapon but if the saftey rules are applied and caution is given it could save your life.

Thanks for the book recommendation. I'll have to check that out.

9:28 AM, September 08, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've taught my wife to shoot. If I can't always be there with her, to keep her safe I want to be there in spirit - in the form of a big mean firearm. And I want her to know how to use it.

I would think bringing out your gun to show to your date would be a good way for a single woman to see if she's dating a man or not. If he hides under the bed she's saved herself from wasting time on future dates with a nancy-boy.

9:48 AM, September 08, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anecdotal stories are hardly convincing when in fact authorities on rape suggest a much different approach. Clearly those who carry guns have some need, whatever it may be. I have no quarrel with those who like rifle shooting etc; I do however dislike the easy access to guns that has made it possible for many criminals inmyh region to get guns and to use them in holdups. I do not shoot. I do not have a gun. I dislike guns. But I have served twice in the military and have fired manyh different types of weapons.
As for women and guns: Israeli armed forces has this ;
"Following their active service, women, like men, are in theory required to serve up to one month annually in reserve duty. However, in practice only some women in combat roles get called for active reserve duty, and only for a few years following their active service, with many exit points (e.g., pregnancy).

Apart from the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, when manpower shortages saw many of them taking active part in battles on the ground, women were historically barred from battle in the IDF, serving in a variety of technical and administrative support roles. During this period however, the IDF reputedly favoured female instructors for training male soldiers in certain roles, particularly tank crews. This was on the basis that female instructors of similar age to the young conscripts were more likely to receive the full attention of their students. But after a landmark 1994 High Court appeal by Alice Miller, a Jewish immigrant from South Africa, the Air Force was instructed to open its pilots course to women (several served as transport pilots during the first Arab-Israeli War in 1948 and "Operation Kadesh" in 1956, but the Air Force later closed its ranks to women fliers). Miller failed the entrance exams, but since her initiative, many additional combat roles were opened. As of 2005, women are allowed to serve in 83% of all positions in the military, including Shipboard Navy Service (except submarines), and Artillery. Combat roles are voluntary for women.

As of 2002, 33% of lower rank Officers are women, 21% of Captains and Majors, but only 3% of the most senior ranks.

450 women currently serve in combat units of Israel's security forces, primarily in the Border Police. ..."

9:48 AM, September 08, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Out of curiousity--does it deal with the likely psychological aftereffects of shooting someone in self-defense?

9:53 AM, September 08, 2006  
Blogger JBlog said...

Interesting article by Kopel -- certainly pokes a lot of holes in the antigun arguments.

Anecdotally, I personally know many people who own and use firearms safely. But I know no one who has ever shot anyone else or themselves.

If the statistics of the antigun people were to hold, shouldn't some of these people I know be dead or have killed someone.

9:59 AM, September 08, 2006  
Blogger luagha said...

To: average woman shoots better than the average man

It turns out that women have some natural advantages in the shooting arena. As an average they have a lower center of mass, making for a more stable platform. Also, their heartbeat is differently angled than men and introduces less instability - usually only noticeable at the higher level of skill though. Shooting is one of the
few sports where women are naturally advantaged.
Take a look at the women's biathalon shooting in the Olympics some time.

10:05 AM, September 08, 2006  
Blogger Kate said...

Dr. Helen, the way to get over flinching when you pull the trigger is not to "pull" the trigger per se. My father was an award winning rifleman and I shot pistol competively while I was in the army. You never "pull" the trigger. You should take a breath, let out half, make sure your sights are aligned and then add pressure to the trigger until it surprises you by going off. That is the only way to avoid jerking. Kate

10:06 AM, September 08, 2006  
Blogger Edward Piercy said...

The flinching MIGHT be due to the auto's ejection of the shell, which your eyes are responding to. You might try a revolver, say .38, regular load.

10:06 AM, September 08, 2006  
Anonymous Dave said...

I commend John Doe on his respectful disagreement. I wish all political discourse in this country was as polite.

I don't know John's background, but his opinion is common among urban dwellers who have little experience with guns except for what they read in the paper. My background is different. I grew up in a rural area, on a farm. We had several rifles, a couple of shotguns, and at least one pistol. We had a rifle behind the pickup seat. To me guns were nothing more than tools, like the shovels and other tools that might be in our pickup. I got a BB gun at a young age and a .22 rifle when I was 12. It wasn't until I moved to the city where I was exposed to the anthropomorphic argument that "guns are evil".

Back then, a gun was also a right of passage. Kids worked to demonstrate the responsiblity required to get their own gun. We were thoroughly trained and we learned to respect guns. I didn't know it then, but now studies show this type of activity helps kids/teenagers develop the pre-frontal cortex portion of the brain which helps with executive decision thought processes and the processing of long-term consequences to actions.

Today, I live in a large city and I just own a 9mm pistol that is for self defense. It's a tool that'll give me some ability to defend my family in the case of a home invasion. Though I rarely carry, I also have a concealed carry permit in case my work takes me into a dangerous area. I believe I have a moral responsibility to stay alive and support my family.

Odd's are I'll never use my pistol in self-defense and I hope I never do. For me, it's like my car or homeowners insurance, I hope I never need it but I sleep better knowing I've got the option.

Most "gun nuts" don't bothor me, but thats because I've gotten to know some in my life. I am even related to one. They tend to be the safest people you'll ever be around (there are exceptions). They also tend to be generous and kind people. Studies confirm this, for example gun owners are more likely to help somebody stranded on the side of a road. If my sole impression of "gun nuts" was what I saw in the media, I'd probably have the same opinion as John.

John, this'll blow your mind but my uncle, may he rest in peace, often took his rifle to school as a child. He left it in the principal's office and picked up after school to go target practicing on the way home. He grew up to become a college professer and earned several patents that affect your life today. His exposure to guns didn't lead to one evil action in his life.

To me the scariest gun owners are the urban dwellers who own a gun and have no experience or training. Guns are neither good, nor evil. Just as a criminal will use one to hurt, a policeman, security guard, or parent can use one to save a life. I've met several people who are still alive or unmolested because of a gun. Those uses are not evil nor are other uses such as target shooting - which many find to be a harmless and entertaining activity.

10:07 AM, September 08, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I would like to see mandantory training for weapons purchased by first-time buyers,"

I'd like to see mandatory basic firearms training--basic handling, mostly emphasizing operation and SAFETY--in high school.

If such was available we'd have fewer preventable accidents caused by ignorance.

"I would think bringing out your gun to show to your date would be a good way for a single woman to"
...grab *my* interest and a second date.

10:09 AM, September 08, 2006  
Blogger Joel said...

Neat piece; thanks for writing it. Say hi to himself for me, please. :)

Since I teach women -- and men -- to shoot for self-defense (I don't teach target shooting or hunting marksmanship), I hope you won't mind a few comments.

The big difference between teaching women and men to shoot is that I've never found it necessary or useful to get the wife/girlfriend out of the room when I'm teaching the husband/boyfriend, but not vice versa.

That's it.

Some -- most -- women are nervous when they haven't much or ever shot before, and in my experience always admit it; most men are, and in my experience usually admit it. Some women are very recoil-sensitive; so are some men. Some aren't; ditto. Those women who have previously learned bad habits take longer to teach than those who have never shot before; same for men.

Beyond that, when it comes to learning defensive point-shooting (that's all I teach), there are huge variations among individuals, but as far as I can tell, no differences between men and women when controlling for relevant factors, like previous experience.

Flinch? I've never seen the "dirty trick" test not get rid of that, except for somebody who is recoil-sensitive and shooting something 'way too hot for the recoil-sensitive (the .44 Magnum, say). It's a personal thing, not a gender thing.

The examples you give from the book, I think, help make that point more generally. Some men have small hands (me, for one), and should use slightly different grips than men or women with larger hands; everybody's hearing can be damaged by loud bangs, so using hearing protection when practicing is a must.

And so on.

Now, when it comes to holsters, there's huge differences, but that's another story . . .

10:09 AM, September 08, 2006  
Blogger Simon Kenton said...

Anonymous -

It does.

Incidentally, there are a lot of different reactions to shooting someone in self defense. Roughly speaking, these fall into 2 categories: administrative, and actual. (There's overlap.)

The administrative reactions are about how terrible the person feels, and how it never should have had to happen, and about wanting to express sorrow to the family of the dead, etc. These reactions are very useful in court.

The actual reactions, offered in unguarded moments, run the gamut:

- I don't want to touch a gun again.
- I wish it hadn't had to be me, but he needed to die and I'm glad he won't be after other women; I had a social duty to do it.
- it was him or me; why should I have died to gratify his impulse?
- The beer tastes better and the colors of everything are more vivid.

10:10 AM, September 08, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Flinch" is something everyone falls prey to occasionally. There is no magic fix; often the best thing to do when you find yourself flinching, is simply to quit shooting for the day. OTOH if you are able to self-assess yourself, you may find that it's worse with a particular gun, stance, or some other changeable variable. Only experimentation can confirm. You may find this link helpful. Good luck, and be patient with yourself!

http://www.eohc.ca/flinch.asp

10:15 AM, September 08, 2006  
Blogger Mark in Texas said...

John Doe

You might find it interesting that I have heard arguments very much like yours concerning gays and AIDS. In particular the "I know all the arguments, but I really don't care, guns are repugnant by their very nature" meme with the word "gays" substituted for "guns".

I don't buy the argument about gays and I don't buy your argument about guns.

However, I do understand that there are some people who's minds are simply closed to any other viewpoint except their own.

10:19 AM, September 08, 2006  
Blogger Michael said...

Most of the flinch reflex comes from the noise, not the recoil. Wearing both earplugs and earmuffs helps a lot. Also switching to something with a long pull (like a DA revolver) helps, since it makes it harder to predict when the sear will "break". Something with a really crisp SA trigger (like a breathed-on 1911) also helps for the same reason.

10:19 AM, September 08, 2006  
Blogger ronin1516 said...

Kate was right about trigger control. When I learnt to shoot, my instructor woudl always say "squeeze the trigger in a controlled manner", and he had me practise the motion with both my bare hands.

As for the comments by the folks who choose not to own a gun. Well, all I can say is thsi - I grew up in India, a country with total gun-control, where it is next to impossible to get a gun permit, or even buy a gun, unless one is a multi-millionaire Bollywood celebrity, or someone who is a higher-up in Govt or in politics.
And the result? Only criminals have guns, and they can prey upon the lawabiding, with no fear of facing any resistance.
At least in the USA, one can make a choice - some like John Doe choose to stay away for guns, and some choose to own and like and shoot guns. isnt this - the ability to choose one of the hallmarks of a true democracy? Unlike sham democracies like India, Mexico or Brazil? Why would you like to take away this right to choose?
if, for example, I told some one that I wanted to take away from the women of the USA the right to choose to have or not have an abortion, i would be labelled a a neanderthal, and that proposition would be considered totally untenable. However, I dont understand why advocating of a person's right to own and operate a gun( of any sort), is considered legitimate?

10:22 AM, September 08, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello everyone,
I am living legally in this country since 5 years, and I am still amazed by the fascination of Americans for weapons. I understand the hunters’ arguments about hunting as a way of controlling wild animals’ populations, or a way to provide excellent meat for a good meal (still don’t understand the pleasure of doing a “Kill”). But hunting with a handgun? And what do you want to do with a handgun? Know how to use it? OK but then in case of what?
Isn't the role of the police to protect the citizens?
Ian

10:25 AM, September 08, 2006  
Blogger Simon Kenton said...

Jblog -

I and about half my shooting friends have broken up potential felony situations using guns. Where you mis-assume is in thinking that this is only done by shooting someone. Nearly all the time actually shooting is unnecessary. If you are ready to shoot, and are obviously willing to do so, or perhaps even looking a little forward to shooting, you rarely have to.

I have my women students role-play it both ways:

Cringing backward, retreating, gun trembling, pointed downward: "Please. O God, please don't make me do it. I don't want to have to shoot. O God!"

From a cover position behind a post or wall, gun aimed solidly at the assailant's chest a little left of center, in the big voice, "Freeze, asshole. On your knees. Fall forward on your face. Cross your ankles. Hands out to the sides, palms up."

You can see which will be the most effective deterrent behaviour. By the way you handle the pistol and the situation you can make a very persuasive case that your assailant doesn't want to throw the black dice today. Obviously none of this works in some situations where you will have to shoot and shoot right away; and none of it works if you are not blatantly ready and willing to shoot. If you look into John Lott's work (as well as get some shooting acquaintances to trust you enough to open up to you) you'll see that the self-defence value of competent pistolry almost never requires firing.

10:27 AM, September 08, 2006  
Blogger Gatt Suru said...

Regarding a flinch :

Cornered Cat has an excellent writing on the issue of flinching. I've used a method similar to hers to help several other shooters cure a flinch, and it seems both safe and effective.

One big issue is to make sure to blink before firing, not during. If you don't see a muzzle flash (and are firing a gun normally displaying one), that's another big issue that can lead to flinch-like symptoms.

Graham Strouse :

The Desert Eagle is a poor weapon choice for self-defense by any measure. It's big, heavy, and inefficient, and requires a very strong user to prevent stovepiping (poor ejection). It was designed as a range and training tool, and it does exceed at such acts.

That said, I can't recommend going too small a caliber. I've personally been shot by a .22LR rifle with fairly neglible results other than use of peroxide and gauze, and the mutants out there in the world have been known to ignore significantly higher rated rounds. After the Miami incident, police and military seldom accept any round lighter than .38, and most enthusiasts recommend avoiding a gunfight with a pistol caliber that doesn't start with .4x. There's no point to hitting a mutant six times with a .17hmr bullet if none of them hit an important internal organ, particularly when a single successful .357 magnum or .45 would have downed the opponent.

John Doe :
Guns are designed to kill. That is, quite literally, the point.

However, some people simply deserve to be dead. A man attempting to a rape, a cold-blooded murderer, et all. Or, in other cases, bad people decide that someone is going to die.

A gun allows you at least the chance of taking care of those issues in circumstances that a knife or a shoe or pepper spray wouldn't.

10:30 AM, September 08, 2006  
Blogger Technogypsy said...

Dr. Helen,

Micheal's suggestion of a revolver has another value. When I taught my kids to shoot, I would load alternating chambers (open loaded, one not) and have them shoot. The flinch that comes from expecting the noise and kick becomes very obvious and tends to self correct. You can then mix loaded and unloaded chambers randomly and use that too. I still do that for practice.

And of course good eye and ear protection is a must. I like the Wolf Ears style earmuffs. They have speakers that allow you to hear voices but damp the shots so you never have to take them off. I get mine at WoodCraft or HomeDepot where they sell them for shop use. These normally only have one ear wired so they are cheaper...

10:30 AM, September 08, 2006  
Blogger Denise was Here said...

Thanks for writing this and pointing out the book. I am a woman shooter who first fired a gun when I was 8 years old and I have been shooting for 42 years since then. I shoot rifles, shotguns, and pistols.

You mentioned your flinch ("...I tend to flinch when I pull the trigger. Any advice from experts out there on how to get rid of this bad habit?") Most flinching comes from anticipating recoil. The shooter tenses up in order to "control" the gun just a little bit more.

To get rid of it, you need to practice your trigger control. The best way to practice is by dry-firing. That is, "shooting" without ammo. Be sure the gun is empty, that there is no one in the direction you are aiming, and no ammo is within reach. (Some guns shouldn't be dry fired and you will need snap caps, check the gun's manual.)

While practicing, keep the best sight picture possible while you use a firm, slow squeeze without hesitation until the trigger releases the hammer. The snap should come as a total surprise to you.

When you try it at a range, concentrate on keeping the sights aligned while doing the exact same trigger squeeze. You'll be so busy concentrating on the sight picture and trigger squeeze that your body will forget to flinch. Practice until it becomes normal.

10:31 AM, September 08, 2006  
Anonymous Homer said...

I ran across the Farnum/Nicholl book a year or so ago, and it's changed the way I teach women to shoot, much for the better. Excellent book, and anyone who performs firearms instruction should read it.

On the flinching thing, no matter what their previous experience, I start female students on a small frame .22 revolver with CB caps. Very low noise, no recoil to speak of. It allows them to focus on sights and trigger control without worrying about wrestling with the gun.

I'd love to find a full-size .22 semi-automatic handgun, along the lines of a Browning Buckmark or Ruger Mark II, that will work with CB caps and .22 shorts. I haven't found anything in that category except the expensive competition guns. The Buckmark and Ruger work well with standard velocity .22 long rifle ammo, but I'd like the option of something even softer for some students.

I've modified a 9MM High Power for student use by installing a softer recoil spring so it will cycle with downloaded ammunition, and use downloaded ammo in 38 Special revolvers.

Once the student learns technique - grip, sight picture, trigger control and mental focus - and builds a confidence level with a very low recoiling handgun they can quite successfully start moving up the power curve.

Some students reach that point in 50 rounds, some take 300. It's something that can't be rushed. I've noticed, though, students on an indoor range flinch more than on an outdoor range, which I attribute to the increased noise level on an indoor range.

10:31 AM, September 08, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"To get rid of it, you need to practice your trigger control. The best way to practice is by dry-firing. That is, "shooting" without ammo. Be sure the gun is empty, that there is no one in the direction you are aiming, and no ammo is within reach. (Some guns shouldn't be dry fired and you will need snap caps, check the gun's manual.)"

GOOD POINT. If I can't make it to the range every two weeks, I at least make time for 10 or 15 minutes of dry-fire practice. It helps a lot.

Snap-caps are a good idea for any gun if you're doing a large amount of dry-firing.

I really need to register, 4 posts in this thread...

10:36 AM, September 08, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As to flinching, an exercise I learned is to properly dry fire.

After ensuring you have an unloaded firearm, select a safe direction/target and go through the process of pulling the trigger, paying special attention to what happens to the sights during the pull. If you're worried about your firing pin, get a little dummy cartridge widget called a snap cap.

Something that doesn't get the attention it deserves is that any proper shooting is more of a mental exercise than physical. Kate is right on the mark, the hammer falling and the cartridge going off needs to be completely incidental to the process of pulling the trigger and maintain a proper sight picture. Dry fire gives you the opportunity to practice this while avoiding the distraction of the BOOM!

In my time working with new shooters, women as a whole did tend to be better shooters if for no other reason than they listen to instruction and don't bring a bunch of baggage with them to the line.

As far as the oh so helpful doc with the pamphlet, tell me you put a big ol' bullet hole in it and returned it with a thank you note.

10:43 AM, September 08, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"While I am personally opposed to private gun ownership by law-abiding citizens, I would not interefere with a woman's right-to-choose whether or not to own and/or carry a gun."

-Bizzaro Democrat


"Private gun ownership should be safe, legal, and rare."

-Another Bizzaro Democrat

10:57 AM, September 08, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"To get rid of it, you need to practice your trigger control. The best way to practice is by dry-firing. That is, "shooting" without ammo. Be sure the gun is empty, that there is no one in the direction you are aiming, and no ammo is within reach. (Some guns shouldn't be dry fired and you will need snap caps, check the gun's manual.)"

That is great advice. Everyone flinches to some degree, but if you dry fire more than you fire with live rounds then you will break the habit of flinching.
One quick note on trigger control. Sqeezing the trigger is great for the range and target shooting, for defensive (combat) shooting you need to pratice a controlled pull.

11:00 AM, September 08, 2006  
Blogger Timothy K. Morris said...

Just a quick comment, not really about guns and all, to one of the anonymous posters, an immigrant I believe, who asked if it is not the job of the police to protect the citizens. Implying "why do you need a handgun?"

Well, not really, "serve and protect" mottos notwithstanding. The job of the police is to maintain order, deter crime by their presence, and investigate crime once it happens. Do these serve to protect the citizenry? Of course they do, but only on a broad, all the citizens benefit, bais.

There are any number of appeals court cases that hold there is no such thing as "failure to protect" in terms of individuals.

11:08 AM, September 08, 2006  
Blogger Ardsgaine said...

My father teaches young people to shoot at his rifle and pistol club. He says that the girls are much easier to teach than the boys, because the boys already know everything there is to know about guns, or think they do. The girls are a blank slate, and know it, so they take instruction much better.

11:09 AM, September 08, 2006  
Blogger Kim du Toit said...

Dr. H,

What you seem to be doing is "pulling" the trigger rather than squeezing it (although I must admit, the angle is not really good enough to see properly). I was just looking at your hand movement, and it seemed to "buck" just a little before the gun went off.

Try slowing down your trigger pull by half again. (Rule of thumb, errrr trigger finger: you can ALWAYS slow your pull by half -- it just requires muscle training.)

On the related topic: I don't argue with hoplophobes anymore, it's not worth the effort. It takes a certain kind of self-deception to ignore the fact that guns save more lives than take them, by an order of magnitude.

And I'm glad you're armed. You (and Glenn) are high-profile people, and there are any number of Hinckley-type sickos out there.

Next time you and Glenn are in Dallas, or we're in Knoxville, let's go shooting together.

11:26 AM, September 08, 2006  
Blogger missmanytoes said...

Isn't the role of the police to protect the citizens? Ian@10:25am

Ian, The role of police is to protect society, not citizens. Take a successful murder conviction, for instance. The citizen (victim) was definately not protected, but by successfully prosecuting the offender society is preserved. That is the role of cops...to arrest and prosecute evil-doers; the very nature of law enforcement (re-active, not pro-active) limits them to acting on a situation after it happens, so I can totally relate to people who want to own a gun just for self-defense.

I shoot because it was something we did when I was growing up and I enjoyed it then and enjoy it now. For me, and a lot of shooters, shooting isn't about hunting or even self-defense, although those are important aspects of the sport. I guess the best way I can explain shooting as a sport to a non-shooter is this: It's FUN. Just like playing softball or golf or basketball or whatever. You build your skill set and you enjoy excelling (or, in my case, trying to excel) in the skills necessary to your sport.

11:29 AM, September 08, 2006  
Blogger Dr. Goodheart said...

I highly recommend dryfire practice, as recommended by master competitive shooter Bruce Gray. I started taking classes from Bruce, learned how to shoot properly, safely and accurately from him in a weekend; and he has become a good friend.
Bruce will send you a packet of articles he has written on dryfire practice if you e-mail him at bruce@grayguns.com.
His teaching is featured in an article in this month's Handguns magazine, and has been on The Shooting Gallery show on The Outdoor Channel.
Bruce is an honorary member of The Pink Pistols and loves to teach women how to shoot.
He also offers classes in fundamentals of handgun shooting, and in introduction to competitive shooting, in various parts of the country.

11:32 AM, September 08, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re: How to stop flinching, one common training technique is to practice with a revolver, and load it with live ammo except for 1-2 blanks (spent casings).

When you press the trigger and a live round goes off, there will be recoil. But when you press the trigger with a blank, there will be no recoil, just a "click". If you find yourself flinching on the blanks, then you know you're anticipating the recoil and are the cause of the flinch.

So mentally, you have to put a blank round in each chamber of the revolver, and press the trigger expecting a "click", and be surprise when a round goes off. That's why they call it a "surprise break" when the round goes off. Hope that helps.

JT

11:48 AM, September 08, 2006  
Anonymous Dr. Ellen said...

One of my friends is a pharmacist/toxicologist, famous for her talks on poisons. (I write mysteries. She's one of the most popular speakers at mystery conventions.)

Her take on the deadliness ratio of men and women is that we aren't all that different; there are probably just as many female murderers as male. But men tend to make gaping holes in their victims, while women use poison. Nobody is going to ignore a gaping hole, but it requires sophisticated forensic analysis to detect poison. Thus, there are more murders-by-women than the crime statistics show, simply because many of said murders aren't even recognized as such.

However, there are times when you can't use your gender's preferred strategy. If you have a home invasion, there's no time to poison the brute. So being able to use a gun makes all kinds of sense. And that being the case, you want to use it well. So learn ahead of time.

12:01 PM, September 08, 2006  
Anonymous Trevor said...

I have a curious problem with my shooting. Perhaps the experts among you could help?

When I have shot in CA and NH, with everything from small calibre handguns up to belt-fed, full-auto weapons, I find myself in a highly sociable environment, am overcome by a deep feeling of tranquility and I experience a great lowering of stress. However, with even a toy gun here in the UK* I start hallucinating red and blue flashing lights, screeching tyres, disturbing whup-whup-whup and tannoy-type noises. Worse, my taxes seem to go up, my neighbours complain of far more burglaries and violent crime than they did my US, and the local hospital has to close beds in its childrens' ward due to underfunding. It is most perplexing. Is it my technique?

Thanks for our help,
Trevor


* http://newswww.bbc.net.uk/2/hi/uk_news/wales/south_east/3192217.stm
** http://www.timesonline.co.uk/printFriendly/0,,1-210-1514827,00.html

12:04 PM, September 08, 2006  
Anonymous Diane Nicholl said...

Hello Dr. Helen
Thank you for your review of our new book! We have just started to use blogads as a way to advertize our books and your blog is the first one for Women Learning To Shoot.

Vicki Farnam and I know women can learn to be very good shooters and wrote this book to help anyone understand exactly what they need to do to accurately hit the target. I am happy to say we have helped both female shooters and male instructors understand there are differences in the way we learn this skill. During a recent instructor's course, several men and women told us we were finally talking about the elephant in the room everyone tries to ignore.

I watched the video of your shooting and it seems you are rocking back on your heels with the recoil. A stable stance will help you recover from recoil. Once you understand the fundamentals of shooting, you have to learn to control your body. Your body is the launch platform and only your trigger finger moves when you decide to fire your gun. This is easier said than done but your brain has to take control of what your body is doing. The suggestions for shooting with a mixture of snap caps and live ammo is the most efficient way to learn what your body is doing when you think the gun is going to fire.

Your startle response will lessen as you shoot. Many women have told us they let others start shooting before they do as a way to get used to the loud noise. The range that you were using looks like it would amplify the sound of the gunshots. I would go with double ear protection
while shooting there.

Diane Nicholl

12:05 PM, September 08, 2006  
Blogger Kirk Parker said...

Helen,

The next thing I knew, the doctor had dropped off some literature on "studies"

I hope you responded in a suitable fashion, rather than silently giving him a pass! (You don't say either way in your account)

Graham,

Don't you do anything for vision correction? A shooter can almost always wear their normal vision correction when shooting.

And as far as lax requirements go, as far as I can see it all comes down to whether one values our common-law heritage, or would rather the US were governed as Napoleon would have done. I say that because the Sons and Daughters of the Magna Carta usually like to have some kind of justification before agreeing to government intervention, if only for window dressing. And it turns out that there is, in fact, very little justifacation for training requirements, since states like Washington (who issues concealed-carry permits to anyone w/o a criminal or mental-health background with absolutely no training requirement), and Vermont and Alaska (who require no permits at all) have no higher rate of problems than anywhere else. Serr8d, I think the burden of proof is on you to show why such a requirement would be necessary.

John Doe,

Ther result are anything but obvious: there are countries, like Switzerland, that have a much higher rate of gun ownership than we do but have a lower homicide rate, and contries like Russia where guns are highly restricted but have a higher homicide rate. The global reality is a lot more complicated than a simple cause-and-effect relationship based on a single factor.

Homer,

Well, you can use CB caps in your MKII, as long as you're willing to manually load a single round right into the chamber, and then manually cycle the action afterwards to eject the round. Perfectly fine if you're wanting to try out CB caps, but pretty worthless in a training situation. Why not just use a .22 revolver in that case?

12:10 PM, September 08, 2006  
Blogger Kirk Parker said...

Kim,

Nice to see you commenting here! As far as arguing with hoplophobes, it is indeed pointless, but I still think it's often good to engage their arguments for the sake of other readers, who may for all I know live in Brady Land and have never in their lives heard a cogent pro-gun argument.

Trever,

The answer to your problem is simple: emigration. I hear Kim can give you some pointers...

12:14 PM, September 08, 2006  
Blogger Ed Nutter said...

To John Doe (way way up there) and to anyone who agrees with him.

First, I appreciate the civility of your post. There should be much more of that on the www.

Second, I agree with Dr. Helen that you have your right to your opinion, and that you have no right to impose your opinion on others via laws.

I have this against thee. Or against thine argument...
"I personally have never been able to get past the simple fact that a handgun is a machine designed specifically for killing people and yet one of the most powerful nations on earth feels the need to distribute them throughout the population. The results are obvious in terms of the numbers of deaths by gunshot in that country when compared to other countries where guns are normally illegal."

In those countries where guns are normally illegal you do often have fewer deaths by gunshot. In some of those countries the gunshot deaths are due to government conducted or sponsered massacres of the unarmed populace whose allegence to the government is suspect, or racial or tribal composition is different from that of the ruling group. Combating that kind of tyranny is the reason the 2nd amendment was added to the Constitution. However, it's more civilized countries that we're concerned with.

In western nations with strict gun control (England, Holland, etc.) you usually have fewer gunshot deaths. In their place you have even greater incidence of deaths by stabbing and blunt force trauma (clubs, fists) because the criminals know that they won't have to contend with an armed victim. In England you can be prosecuted for successfully defending oneself with a cricket bat against a knife wielding attacker because it is disproportionent use of force. Their violent crime statistics significantly exceeds ours. But at least the bodies don't have bullet holes in them.

Concerning perversion...
"guns are repugnant by their very nature because they are machines for killing people, whether or not they are actually used for such. If I owned a collection of instruments of torture and practised with them to make sure I knew how to use them should the, er, need arise, I am quite sure I would be viewed as at least weird, if not possibly dangerous. To me, the same goes for guns, and my attitude towards their owners."

Are police inherently perverted? Should police be unarmed? (Even the Brits had to give that up over a decade ago.) Do you have the same creepy feelings toward those who enjoy beating people up and intimidating them by threat of force? All societies have such people. Is it moral or emotionally heathy to simply let them rage over the rest of society? Is it morally superior to be maimed, crippled, or killed rather than shooting your attacker before they can do one or all of those things? Why? Are those who practice marital arts for the purpose of self defence (and yes, they can kill very quickly) at the same repugnant level as gun owners?

You shared your feelings and said you knew all the arguments. I would be very interested in reading your answers to some of those questions. While you contemplate those answers in the peace of your home, consider that that peace is possible only because the thugs (several of whom are certainly within a couple of hundred yards of you) you don't know which home has an armed and ready occupant.

12:20 PM, September 08, 2006  
Blogger John Doe said...

Hi All,

Thank you for keeping this debate civilized, I'm pleasantly surprised not to have been nailed to the wall (nor, er, shot down in flames). I have a number of points to make to various people:

It wasn't that she was a weapons-wielding woman, indeed if men are allowed to wield weapons, then why shouldn't women? Rather, it was her attitude towards the gun which I find difficult to describe, but was almost solicitous, reverent, and lurid (I resist Freduian interpretations), in all: creepy. This is quite definitely a perverse attitude towards a tool for killing and, anonymous 2.39, that is what I meant when using the word in describing handguns dressed up as fashion accessories, never mind the hand grenades. (Her bullets, by the way, were hollow-points, which I believe were illegal at that time and in that place).

Helen: people always project their fear into laws, that's pretty much why we have them, so I don't see why one should not project one's reasonable fears into laws designed to restrict the dissemination of guns, if one is in the majority. In other words, I certainly do have the democratic right to vote for people who would restrict the means by which you may defend yourself, just as you have the right to vote against them. Hmm. It would perhaps be an interesting test question for many of the people here to ask that if guns were illegal, would you still own one?

rosignol: women are not special for being inherently dangerous, so too are men. I'm sorry, I know longer have a phone number but if I had it and you were truly interested in spending time around someone with an unhealthy interest in her handgun, then I would happily give it to you, you undoubtedly deserve each other.

Anonymous 9.53 has a good point. I have recently been reading "The Sociopath Next Door" and the author makes it clear that normal people who kill, in self defense, or in war, suffer serious traumatic consequences, regardless of their justification of the act.

Dave (10:07), I have no problem with guns that have a raison d'etre besides killing of people. Shotguns and rifles in the country are in their appropriate element. A gun is not inherently evil, what is evil is the intent. Killing people is evil, and a handgun is designed specifically to do that, thus it is evil. There is nothing anthropomorphic about it. Your uncle really doesn't shock me - target shooting is a justifiable use for a rifle. I suppose one could make the same argument for a handgun, but that is not the reason for which the vast majority are made or owned.

Mark in Texas, equating my argument against guns to an argument against gays and AIDS is deeply disingenuous. If gays were machines designed specifically to kill people, you might have a point, but they aren't and you don't.

gatt suru: while there might be people out there who deserve to die, and that is a very long debate too, I do not feel that anyone is entitled buy a gun with the intent to act as judge, jury and executioner. In fact, I might propose that such an attitude further disqualifies such a person from the gun ownership in the first place.

12:22 PM, September 08, 2006  
Anonymous Trebor said...

Thanks for the review. As an instructor, I'm always trying to broaden my knowledge base. I just ordered both the "Teaching Women to Shoot" and "Women Learning to Shoot" books. I used the convenient ad on the right of this page to place the order with DTI.

12:23 PM, September 08, 2006  
Blogger John Doe said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:34 PM, September 08, 2006  
Blogger John Doe said...

ed nutter:

Do you have the same creepy feelings toward those who enjoy beating people up and intimidating them by threat of force?

Is this a trick question? Yes, I am averse to anyone who thinks violence is an appropriate way of doing things, except in the circumstances in which one has no choice. The central question, I feel, is one of what is the appropriate level of self defense. In a "civilized" society, I think that owning a gun is going too far, for the same reason that using a cricket bat to beat an intruder to a pulp is going too far. All the expert authorities recommend letting your armed intruder take what he wants and leave, then deal with it. And, by the way, is not the point that in the UK criminals don't use guns because they know they won't have a gun to contend with a good argument for outlawing gun ownership? The numbers of deaths by other implements certainly do not take the odds up to the same levels as they are in the US.

There are many thought experiments in which the answers are less obvious, but my personal feeling is that it is more dangerous to have a gun than not in most normal walks of life. To let almost anyone buy a gun because they feel like it is just foolish because fools will buy them. My personal experience of life is such that if I had owned a gun there is a very good chance I would have been dead by now.

12:35 PM, September 08, 2006  
Blogger Peg C. said...

I've never touched a gun and for 40 years of my life was a gun-hating lefty. Sooner or later reality hits most of us upside the head. Now I'm a firm advocate of the 2nd Amendment. Glenn's been writing a lot about disaster preparedness, and hubby and I are getting our plans and kits together. There might be a handgun or rifle (accompanied by the necessary lessons/gun club membership) in our near future - thanks to too many in this country who do not believe in defending the country or themselves. I do.

Incidentally, I think all females should have mandatory martial arts training before puberty and know how to handle weapons for self-defense. Whoever said here that women are inherently dangerous was being dangerously flippant. A close female relative of mine was recently violently raped/murdered by an ex-boyfriend who turned out to be a 3rd Level Sex Offender. The trial has yet to be held. This can happen to the female relative of any one of you, believe me. Oh, if only she'd had a gun and known exactly what to do with it; she might be alive.

Thank God the U.N. SO FAR can't take our right of self-defense (country and person) away from us. The UK is already lost. Dems get in control, all bets are off. (No, I'm not a happy Republican. Just a strong conservative.)

12:53 PM, September 08, 2006  
Anonymous Gerard Van der Leun said...

You know, feelings like that can get you dead. Try to move more on actual thoughts. As for living in a "civilized society," well here's the news: we don't. Two women hiking in my part of the world around Seattle found that out last Summer when they were accosted and killed without mercy while on a "nature walk." Result in this part of the world? A huge increase in the number of women taking pistol training and getting CWPs. When I went for pistol training at Wade's Gun Range in Seattle last month, seven out of the fifteen people in the class were women who were there because 1) they liked to take hikes in the great outdoors that virtually surrounds this city and 2) they weren't going to go cheap if they went at all due to the fact that they weren't armed. Of the other eight people in the class, two couples were Jewish who decided that, after last Summer's shooting at the Jewish Center in Seattle, they too might, just might, have to be able to defend themselves.

As for myself, I've long been in the mind set of the bravely anonymous "John Doe." Like him I hope I will never, ever for a moment in my life have to use a gun to defend myself against another human being. Unlike Mr. Doe (apt name) it dawned on me that, if I ever did find myself in a position where I actually needed a gun, it would be far too late to shop.

12:54 PM, September 08, 2006  
Blogger John Doe said...

Gerard, I am not bravely anonymous, I am self-defensively anonymous, which seems rather appropriate given this thread.

1:08 PM, September 08, 2006  
Blogger Peg C. said...

John Doe, Gerard hit the nail on the head. If you think humans are civilized, you need to read this before you nice yourself to death. Civilization is a very thin veneer on top of our savagery; something way too many are unwilling to see or admit. Civilization is the method by which we strive to control and restrain the savage within us. If war comes to this continent because of our reliance on diplomacy and cowardice in the face of those who have declared outright war on us, do not think this thin veneer will protect you. You see, while liberals merely pay lip service to Darwin and "survival of the fittest," the rest of us truly understand it rules all of us.

1:08 PM, September 08, 2006  
Blogger John Doe said...

I have no illusions of civilization. It is a question of morals and of risk management. Morally, I find a machine that is designed specifically to kill human beings to be repugnant. That does not mean that I am incapable of seeing the need for them to exist, in terms of "necessary evil". Armies are a necessary evil also, I appreciate the reasons for their existence but that doesn't mean I'm going to join one. As far as risk management goes, and as far as I am aware the numbers say that for the majority of people in the developed world it is safer not to own a gun than to own one. As I said before, if I had owned one, I can think of at least two routes by which it could well have brought about my own demise by now.

1:26 PM, September 08, 2006  
Blogger Helen said...

To all those who asked what I said to the doctor who gave me the PC studies, I laughed and told him I would share with him a few studies of my own and gave him and his assistant more than an earful on the virtues of gun rights. I hope they were sorry they ever said anything.

Thanks to everyone so far who has provided tips etc. on my recoil problems--I have a lot to work on and think about.

Diane Nicholl,

Thanks very much for taking the time to comment and for writing this wonderful instruction manual.

John Doe,

If you think that you cannot mentally or emotionally use a gun--you shouldn't. I have people all of the time tell me that because of their emotional or mental make-up, they fear they will harm others or themselves and my advice--do not purchase a gun.

However, for the rest of us who do not have these issues and are able to use a gun in a responsible grown-up fashion, guns are a necessary tool--not always a solution--but a tool. Having worked with criminals and the mentally ill for years and dealt with people who would murder for kicks, thrills or a couple of dollars, I realize that protection from them is necessary. I have sat across the table from people who prey on others and laugh at the thought that they are defenseless. I had a patient recently who thought it was funny that the elderly man he car-jacked had a heart attack. Yes, I wish these criminals thought differently. But as of right now, there is nothing much that can be done for a number of psychopaths and others (no treatment, no rehabilitation etc.)who prey on the innocent. No one has the right to tell me that I cannot protect myself from such people.

1:44 PM, September 08, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon: "I would think bringing out your gun to show to your date would be a good way for a single woman to see if she's dating a man or not. If he hides under the bed she's saved herself from wasting time on future dates with a nancy-boy."

Dude is cool. Get him a blog.

John Salmon

1:58 PM, September 08, 2006  
Blogger 3yellowdogs said...

Dr. Helen:
Here are some thoughts on flinching from a post at trapshooters.com:

"I truly believe that a flinch is psychological in many cases. I am battling a flinch and find when I am not shooting well I will "try too hard" and here comes the dreaded flinch. I just got through shooting a 250 bird shoot that was comprised of many different disciplines in the clay target game. i.e. wobble doubles, regular doubles, 16 yard, handicap, sporting clays, international trap, etc. There were no breaks, you just went from one area to another to shoot the various games. It was very warm and the walk was quite long. I made up my mind to just relax and stay focused while calling for the target. I never flinched once in 250 targets; even though it was physically demanding. I had been averaging 4 or 5 flinches per 100 targets. Knock on wood, I will not claim to have conquered the dreaded flinch; but I did realize that trying too hard and placing a "death grip" on my gun, (the forearm especially) are the main ingredient for the flinch that I have. (Notice I didn't say had) You might be second guessing yourself on the change in guns and letting that frustration come into play while up there at the line. Once your confidence is restored, the flinches will be minimal. Just a thought. Ed

I agree that it's usually psychological, although some flinch in anticipation of the sound of the shot. In any case, flinching is a frequent affliction of target shooters and a constant topic of dicussion and (amateur) diagnosis.

2:04 PM, September 08, 2006  
Anonymous Pavel Bouska said...

I met Diane Nicholl more than a decade ago when she inquired whether my wife would join her in petitioning on concealed carry legislation in Colorado. I learned that many of her supporters were women who have experienced violence, assault, harassment or stalking. Talking to them I found that while their stories were different they all had one thing in common: they hated their sense of helplessness and decided to do something---anything---to change it.

Diane understood better than most how vulnerable women are in violent situations and how permanent is the emotional harm of living in fear---even if they should never be assaulted again. It was inspiring to see close up the hope and confidence these ladies have developed when they learned they can equalize their physical disadvantages with a gun. They were quite bewildered when they discovered that the law allowed them to protect themselves in their homes but not in the street. It did not make any sense to them. The concealed carry legislation in our state suffered many setbacks but it prevailed finally. Diane and her ladyfriends had much to do with it. As a certain law professor likes to say: A pack, not a herd.

Diane is a good firearms instructor and she’s been training women for as long as I know her. I have not read her new book yet but I expect it to make a good Christmas present this year for our friends.

Pavel Bouska

2:09 PM, September 08, 2006  
Anonymous Lee Hammond said...

FLINCHING while Firing:

One way to control a flinch when firing your weapon is to use an unloaded weapon and a dime.
Hold the unloaded weapon in a good firing position, ready to pull the trigger. Have Glenn balance a dime on the end of the barrel. Practice squeezing the trigger, keeping the sights on your target AND without the dime falling off. Once you can do this consistently, go to the range and repeat the process with a loaded weapon.(only this time pretend you have a dime)
This is a great training tool to control breathing and the "flinch" reaction.

2:14 PM, September 08, 2006  
Anonymous Dan Hamilton said...

When Texas got CHL I immediately payed for my Mothers Class and CHL. Little old Ladies should always carry and she does. A lot more then I do. Any man who doesn't pay for his Mothers, Wifes, Daughters training, classes, CHL, pistol, ammo etc is STUPID and should be flogged.

Self defense is a SKILL. Everyone but especially women should have that skill. They don't have to use it. That is up to everyone's soul but they HAVE to be able to defend themselves.

If there is a woman that you care about that doesn't know how to shoot GET her taught. Don't try and teach her unless she is related and even then it might be best to get her a female instructor.

After it hits the fan for what ever reason it is to late to learn.

A gun is like a fire extenguisher(sp) you hope you never have to use it but when you need to nothing else will do and it can save your life or a loved one's.

2:16 PM, September 08, 2006  
Blogger John Doe said...

Helen,

It is not a case of being consitutionally unable to use a gun. It is a moral and expedient decision not to. If my work exposed me to the kinds of people yours does, then I would quite possibly, if the law allowed it, prepare myself similarly. I would, however, view it as a distasteful but necessary part of the job. It would carry no machismo nor self-validation, unless, perhaps, I turned out to be a particularly good shot and could therefore compete and then it would only be a matter of pride at practising a skill, not in my power over people who might be inclined to try to harm me. This is something that bothers me about too many people who own guns, they seem to view it as something that makes them tough, one mean sonofabitch who isn't to be messed with. I feel that such people have lost sight of the true nature of the machines they are playing with and perhaps exhibiting psycholgical issues making them bigger risks with a gun than without.

As regards your rights, it is my understanding that should you use your gun to protect yourself from such people, and end up killing or wounding them in understandable but appropriately unfortunate circumstances, then it is quite possible that your right to carry a gun will be rescinded. So someone, somewhere, in the right circumstances does indeed have the right to take your gun from you. What is at question, really, is who has the right and under what circumstances. In the USA, I would argue "too few" and "not enough", respectively.

I fervently hope you never have to use your gun for the purpose for which it was designed, because if you do I am quite sure it would have a significantly unfortunate effect on you, if, perhaps not as unfortunate should you not use it, (not to mention the effect on the person who gets shot).

2:23 PM, September 08, 2006  
Blogger Helen said...

John Doe,

Most gun owners I know do not hold their guns out as having "power over others." This is a myth seen on too many bad tv shows. There is actually research showing that youth who own legal firearms are less violent and more law abiding than those who do not own guns at all or own illegal ones.

Your morality is important to you and you should stick to what you think is right for yourself. If you do not have the will to fight back with force against an attacker--that is your right. I know people who say they would rather die than kill another person. That is their perogative.

I actually do not believe it and think it is a psychological maneuveur they tell themselves to avoid any unpleasantry in their lives because it would require doing something that they find disturbing and distasteful. My hope is that they never encounter violence. I was held up once in NYC at knifepoint. It is scary but I decided that it was easier for me to confront my fear and learn to protect myself than to wallow in fear. I am not sure what you mean by the law etc. taking away someone's weapon when using it in self-defense--that usually just happens in NYC. Here in Tennessee, we actually believe that law abiding citizens are allowed to protect themselves.

2:40 PM, September 08, 2006  
Blogger Synova said...

It doesn't take a gun to kill someone. It doesn't even take a weapon. And people do train themselves to apply lethal force. Four times a week I go to training like that but the fact is that I am safer with those people than I'd be with any other group of people. (Yes, it's karate.)

I doubt I'll ever be particularly dangerous. I'm not in the training because I'm fearful or feel like I need it to protect myself. It's fun.

I enjoy shooting though I don't go often. It's just fun. I can see how some people just don't get that, but I don't get golf either.

2:42 PM, September 08, 2006  
Blogger ronin1516 said...

John Doe - seems to me that you seem to suffer from a real, but very irrational fear of guns, dont you? And we all know what ole' Siggy Freud has to say about this phobia, dont we? :)
BTW, even the Democratic Party has figured out that Gun Control is an issue that is a losing proposition. John Doe, you might want to think about that too.

2:50 PM, September 08, 2006  
Blogger Simon Kenton said...

John Doe -

Well, you're getting clearer. You said, "...should you use your gun to protect yourself from such people, and end up killing or wounding them in understandable but appropriately unfortunate circumstances, then it is quite possible that your right to carry a gun will be rescinded. ... What is at question, really, is who has the right (to disarm a self-defender) and under what circumstances. In the USA, I would argue "too few" and "not enough", respectively."

A woman who defends herself should be disarmed, and the more this happens, the better, in your estimation.

Have you never had a girlfriend who was raped? I know you have never taught firearms to rape victims; I have. Your moral perspective is that they not only should have to go through it once, but if they resist successfully they should be disarmed to make sure that if the situation ever comes up again, they will have to go through it again. You think this is morally advanced, I think it barbarism.

Mr Doe, I find this common ground: we can agree that you should not ever own or possess or use a gun.

2:54 PM, September 08, 2006  
Blogger Oligonicella said...

John Doe -- question.

I manufacture, own and have over thirty-five years experience with long and short swords, daggers and knives. Barring the last, these fall into the same category of useful for killing people only. I'd argue that, like handguns, people collect and use these for entertainment as well, but I'll give you that as a bye.

What is your opinion as to these weapons?

I also don't recall you expressing what you would do confronting a violent robber (all are potentially that, regardless of your desire for them to take what they want and leave)?

3:16 PM, September 08, 2006  
Anonymous JKB said...

I'm no gun expert but the following helped me when all the other tips failed. Squeezing the trigger is good advice but it really only deals with pulling the weapon sideways and not flinching in the torso. From the video it appears you are very locked as you take the recoil by flexing at the knees. Thus any flinch of the torso is transmitted to the weapon.

Try this experiment: When in stance, move your foot just a few inches. Does it pull you off target by a few inches? Is it difficult to correct without a forced turning of your torso?

Now relax a bit but maintain the firmness in your muscles. Let your elbows bend just a little so that your not locked. This provides isolation of the hands from the torso and a small range to correct for other movements. Now try the foot movement. Does the barrel swing off target as much? Is is easier, almost relaxed, to keep the sights on target? You can expand the relaxation to other joints so that your holding firm with 80 or 90% but not extended and locked.

I tried this after learning about frame in ballroom dancing and reading about the Alexander Technique. Both promote a relaxed firmness can absorb small pressures but oppose large ones. I found my shooting improved dramatically, even when shooting from a boat with wave action.

3:23 PM, September 08, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

gatt guru-

However, some people simply deserve to be dead. A man attempting to a rape, a cold-blooded murderer, et all. Or, in other cases, bad people decide that someone is going to die.

You know to be equitable in your classification scheme here you have to put women who make false rape claims into the same category, since they are falsely putting an innocent man into the category. Just pointing that out for consistency purposes.

3:34 PM, September 08, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was reading a "Time Scout" book by Robert Asprin recently. In the book the heronine was learning to shoot and had a problem with flinching. The trainer's strategy to reduce this was to load the pistol randomly so that sometimes the chamber would be empty and sometimes it would fire.

This is similar but different to the people who recommend pure dry firing and I think it might help more. The problem is psychological and you would quickly get used to the idea of firing an empty weapon but the dread would immediately return upon firing a loaded weapon. Dry firing, while helpful, is not a solution.

I think the SOMETIMES firing
method would perhaps be more effective training to be able to fire without flinching.

Let us know how you progress, please!

3:44 PM, September 08, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"My friends tell me I should run
They say they think she's got a gun
But that just only turns me on
Right on Right on Right on"
                   — Smashmouth, "Diggin' Your Scene"

As long as enough men and women find women with guns sexy, self-defense rights in America will be just fine.

3:48 PM, September 08, 2006  
Blogger John Doe said...

ronin1516: your comment is a troll and not worthy of debate. The only response I make is to suggest that you read this to get some insight as to Freud's credibility these days.

Simon Kenton: You put words in my mouth. Don't do it, and keep your hypocritical ideas of gun ownership to yourself (i.e. you think you should have the right, but you don't think I should...)

Oligonicella: I think a morbid fascination with weapons of any kind is unhealthy. You know the answer to your question, so why ask it?

Oh dear, it does rather look like the debate has fallen apart after all.

On the other hand, Helen:

Whenever gun fans get together, the language more or less automatically becomes that of the tough guy. The very first comment on this page begins "Well, Dr. Helen, you are one hot, lead-packing mama. Let this be a warning to anyone who would even think about doing any harm to you." Is there anyone here who is inclined to do harm to you? I'm not sure if you have kids, but if you do, and given that your appearance is reasonably attractive, then you being "one hot, lead-packing mama" is arguably literally true, but it is hardly germane to the debate. Gun machismo is not a myth perpetrated by TV, gun fans are often transparently aggressive to the eyes of those who are less interested.

With regard to your idea of the psychological maneuveur of preferring to die rather than kill someone else, I do not think that is quite so simple as you make out. Not everyone considers their own life to be necessarily worth more than another's, even if that other is trying to harm them. That is not to say that everyone should hold to such a moral structure, but there are people out there who genuinely believe in self sacrifice as a virtuous way to live one's life, all the way up to sacrificing that life if it should become necessary. After all, the is the foundation of more than one major world religion.

3:50 PM, September 08, 2006  
Blogger rafinlay said...

I have always been bemused by the objection that handguns "are designed for killing people." Of course they are. That is what makes them an appropriate tool for self-defense. After all, the most likely thing you would be defending yourself against is one of those "people."

4:11 PM, September 08, 2006  
Blogger AtlasShrugs.com said...

yeah bababababy, my kinda woman

4:11 PM, September 08, 2006  
Anonymous triticale said...

"God didn't make men equal. Colonel Colt did."

In our household we give credit to Señor Rossi, as it was one of his .32 Smith & Wesson clones the woman I married used to deter a home invader a foot taller and 100 lbs heavier than herself. And yes, I knew about this before I married her. She is more militant about gun rights than I am myself, altho less interested in them in objects. My interst in tham, by the way, parallels my interest in high performance automobiles, in that they are specialised, highly stressed, totally purposeful machines. The specific purpose is not intrinsic to that interest.

As for the suggestion that protecting the individual is the function of police, see in particular Warren v District of Columbia. In the city with the harshest victim disarmament laws in the country, Warren was repeatedly gang raped after the police failed to respond to repeated calls to 911. The ruling was that there was no liability, because police protection (unlike the right to keep and bear arms) is not an individual right.

5:24 PM, September 08, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

John Doe, the idea that handguns are designed specifically for killing people, while shotguns and rifles are not, is unfortunately silly. It is perpetuated by people who are attempting to ban all firearms, but have decided for tactical reasons to start with handguns, as they then won't have to contend with the political might of hunters.

I have an engineering background, and have studied the design and manufacture of firearms. The only way in which the design criteria for rifles and handguns differ, is that handguns should compact, and usable with a single hand. Do you know what tradeoff is made to achieve these goals? Lethality. Handguns deliver less power to the target, less accurately, slower, while containing fewer rounds and frequently being less durable.

All other things being equal, anyone actually interested in murder will use a rifle. For someone to choose a handgun over a rifle means that their goal is not murder, or that they are ignorant of the differences.

Perhaps all the rest of your arguments are valid; I'm not addressing them. But you should start by applying them to rifles and shotguns, not handguns. (An exercise for the reader might be to look up the fatality rates for handgun and rifle wounds, and compare the two rates.)

5:48 PM, September 08, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, Doc, lets start with the basics and work our way to the most important technique at the end.

To not flinch:

1. Wear the right clothes. (I'm not kidding. Ask Manolo: To shoot good you must dress correctly!) Closed toe shoes. A turtleneck, not just because it looks good but because brass is flying around from you and the folks around you and you don't want hot brass in your decotelage. Or hair. Wear a visor ball cap with a dark underbill. Visor very important. Hair in ponytail pulled back tight. (No brass in big hair!) Jeans or pants, not shorts. Tell everyone, men and women, to wear much the same. No open collars. I prefer long sleeves.

2. Protect yourself further- plugs AND muffs. Safety glasses if you choose. You can wear a tight glove on your off hand if you want, but that's pushing it.

3. To not flinch- concentrate on holding the trigger all the way to the rear, every time, all the way through the shot.
Got that? What I mean is line up the sights, make the sight picture on the target, take the slack or first stage out of the trigger...then hold the sight picture and focus on the front sight while increasing pressure until the trigger breaks, then hold the trigger all the to the rear.
When the pistol or rifle goes off YOU ARE NOT FINISHED!!! Hold the trigger to the rear and ride through the recoil. When the firearm comes out of recoil relax the trigger pressure until you feel it reset..(first little subtle click)...then start over: Front sight, sight picture, pressure up the trigger, hold it to the rear ALL THE WAY THROUGH THE SHOT AND RECOIL..relax pressure until you feel it reset..(click)...repeat. Glock, Highpower, Sig, H&K, 1911, all the same.

Concentrating on the trigger break and reset will solve the flinch. Milk that trigger! Become "one" with the trigger! Commit to the trigger!-- it's all the same. While shooting a string you never take your finger all the way off the trigger until you lock open and empty and come off the trigger and ground the weapon.

Even for single shots. Hold it. All the way to the rear, every time.

Most people instinctively move their trigger finger all the way off the trigger on every shot. That's one big reason they shoot poorly.

OK, now you know everything I know, but I strongly suspect that though your mind knows what I know, your HANDS don't. This technique takes practice for muscle memory.

Makes shooting fun and exact though.

Give that husband of yours a big hug for me and thanks for all your good works.

I'm a USArmy trainer, Texas State NM Highpower Team shooter, Distinguished Rifle, High Master, et, et. Plus a pretty dadgummed good pistol shot. This works. It's the way to do it, every time, with every firearm.

7:53 PM, September 08, 2006  
Blogger dinsdale said...

I have always been confused at the attitude of persons that believe that firearms have some intrinsic
quality that makes people uncomfortable in their presence.
I have attributed this attitude to some (post)modernist form of totemism; wherein there exists some evil within an inert object of metal some dangerous ability to convert normal, peaceloving persons into violent killers.
This attitude is with some a statement of fashion, as are many
social and political statements of the day. One must have a "proper" attitude in order to exist socially in the ultra-urbanized culture of our metropolitan areas.
Actually, ignorance is probably a more representative reason for such strange "pagan" thoughts to rattle through the mentations of your average citydweller.
A firearm is nothing more or less than a small, very simple machine.
We tend to attach our own mental baggage to this inert piece of engineering. The fact that more people are killed every year by automobiles doesn't seem to give the car an evil reputation.
If a firearm makes you uncomfortable, don't buy one. If the fact that someone else owns one makes you uncomfortable, Get. Over. It. Some very visionary persons in the 18th century codified the concept that owning such a piece of metal was a human right; the right to life itself.

8:10 PM, September 08, 2006  
Blogger TmjUtah said...

BRASS

Breathe. Relax. Aim. Stop. Squeeze.

"Stop" - means "stop breathing at this point". When shooting at paper targets this is usually not a problem - but in a threat situation you will find that you need to practice consciously exhaling, then putting off the inhale at the moment your sight alignment becomes sight picture.

I read the entire thread in a hurry, so forgive if somebody else mentioned this already: the proper contact point on the trigger is the center of the pad of your index finger. The trigger finger does NOTHING but squeeze the lever that releases the sear. Extending the finger as far as it will go usually means that the first knuckle joint pivots around the trigger. This finger position may actually feel more natural to a novice, but using the pad provides the best control for a straight-back squeeze and does not induce sideways torque (unless you have fingers like Lyle Lovett).

Dry firing is good, but I prefer to train live as much as possible. I tend to develop flinch when I get tired, so when I notice the groups beginning to open up I consciously refix on the sight picture and practice "follow through" with each shot, which means I don't come off point after the report until I have recovered my sight picture.

I agree that women make better students because they don't have as much interest in being macho. Female musicians are a joy to teach to shoot. I don't necessarily start teaching them with tiny weapons, but handing them my .45 or .357 with carry (what the local cops use, always) loads is always counterproductive. .22 or .38 special are excellent training calibers - especially in revolvers, as some people are at first disturbed by the sensation of a semiauto cycling in their hands.

If I was willing to believe that the prime responsibility for my defense resided with government, wouldn't they also be responsible to feed, clothe, and entertain me, too? And provide my medical care. And make me happy.

Nah. I support our police and respect their mission. I'd rather fill out a report than have one of them chalk me in a parking lot or my own living room, though, thanks.


Nice civil discusson here, ma'am. I hope my advice is a help.

9:46 PM, September 08, 2006  
Blogger John Doe said...

There is a story going around the British press right now in which a professor of psychology discusses a simple experiment. He has a garment, a simple sweater with buttons down the front, an ordinary cardigan. It is used, but freshly cleaned. He offers ten pounds (about US$18) to anyone who will wear it. Many hands go up. He then says that its original owner was one Fred West, a notorious and particularly vicious serial killer who occupies a bogeyman position in the English psyche (think, for example, Ted Bundy). Almost all hands go down.

It is not totemism, nor paganism nor anything particularly weird to not want to touch something associated with death and destruction such as a serial killer's sweater or a handgun, it is simple human nature. There are good evolutionary reasons for the existence of the emotion of disgust and it is usually accompanied by a fascination which is adaptive to motivate learning about the object's possibly lethal properties. The variation necessary for natural selection means that the disgust and fascination appear to different degrees in different people.

Personally, I think that all normal people have such feelings when they handle a gun. A few enjoy the fascination altogether too much and there is no compensating dsigust. The gun gives them a sense of ultimate power they don't have otherwise and hunger for. It is a tool for the control, coercion and ultimately murder of other people - in their hands, it is evil.

In many, the disgust is subordinate to the fascination and combines into a certain thrill. The power of the gun makes them feel that bit more powerful themselves - it grants them the power to protect themselves from real or imagined enemies, participate in the thrill of the hunt (and there are few clearer examples of an evolved thrill), to exert their will at a distance, although one hopes not to the point of pathology. Depending on the degree to which they are aware of their own motivations, such people may come up with all kinds of rationalizations for their fascination with such a tool and to cover the slightly illicit thrill that they feel. ("Guns don't kill people, people kill people", "Why are you afraid of an inamimate object, you whus?" "A man who's afraid of a woman with a gun is a coward", "the right to own a gun is the same thing as the right to life", etc.)

In others, the disgust dominates and is more likely to generate caution, or, if you will, fear, and these are the people more likely to avoid guns. They are less likely to need rationalization for their aversion because they don't have to justify their association with machines that are meant to kill. Nevertheless, their caution may cause them to pass up a potentially useful means to control their surroundings, depending on the conditions in which they live. A few others loathe the mere idea of a gun and will fight to have them made illegal.

I put it to you that pretty much no-one feels nothing on picking up a gun besides the purely objective recognition of what it is for, and those that do are likely pretty scary individuals (a lack of emotion is a pathology, is it not, Dr. Helen?). As with all human behaviors, there is a spectrum ranging from the pathological, through the normal, to the reverse pathology on the other side.

Personally, I think the wisest people will make their choice based on an honest and clear knowledge of their own personal motivations, an assessment of the risks associated with owning a gun versus its potential benefits in their particular locale, and the local laws. The USA is built on a frontier mentality and has inherited the consequences (or advantages, depending on your point of view). The UK, for counter example, has managed to maintain the world's oldest extant democracy without needing a right to bear arms and has a concomitantly lower mortality to due to gunshot.

10:01 PM, September 08, 2006  
Blogger TmjUtah said...

"Whenever gun fans get together, the language more or less automatically becomes that of the tough guy."

Funny thing that. It's not just limited to gun gatherings, is it?

I've been around people most of my life and dang me whether the situation be social, professional, or crisis I've always been intrigued by who postures and who gets the job done. Humans like to win, whether it be a personal or group objective. Status or dominance maneuvers are natural in any situation with more than one person involved.

Who hasn't seen bikers check out the other rides at a rally? Or suits stealing glances at their peers/competitors PDA's? Same diff, to me. Confidence can be intimidating, especially when mistaken for bluster.

I carry a pistol. It's existence makes me neither tough nor dangerous. I also have a combination tool and a pocket comb. I can be well groomed, tighten a loose screw, or possibly survive an encounter with someone who is tough and dangerous. Pretty simple from here.

10:12 PM, September 08, 2006  
Anonymous 1charlie2 said...

triticale -- one minor correction. The police did respond -- to what was mischaracterized as a burglary. They drove by, and a police officer knocked. By that time, victim 1 downstairs was already in the tender care of her rapist, and the two who'd phoned the police were hiding upstairs. What's really upsetting was that the two called back the police, and the cops messed up again -- the call was "investigate trouble at . . ." Then the other two women were raped over and over again. Also, appelants alleged that the cops did not follow their own SOP -- see http://www.healylaw.com/cases/warren2.htm. But yo are absolutely right in one respect -- the same government that disarmed the citizens of DC then claimed that the govenment had no duty to protect any individual citizen, and the courts agreed. While I am not slamming the cops -- got too many in my own family who'd kick my butt -- I still think the City should have been financially liable.

john doe:

While not condoning ronin, I am amazed by the sheer gall of your professed indignation. You have used the word "repugnant," likened firearms to "instruments of torture," implied by extension those who own them are "weird," "possibly dangerous," and a "perversion." And you call him a troll ? Are you that impossibly dense ? Or a hypocrite by nature ?

Additionally, you assert a "morbid" fascination is "unhealthy." Can I see a cite for that ? Recall what our hostess' profession is, and know that I am married to an Ed Psych. whose friends and colleagues run the gamut from psychology to psychiatry. You made a claim, let's see you back it up with something other than your own "feelings." Which, of course, you see as "normal." And may one ask what your credentials for determining "normal" are ?

Your opinions do not outrage me, in fact I have met many people with unreasoning fears of inanimate objects. But that somehow you might feel "offended" after engaging in such offensive behavior is beyond the pale.

Additionally, your assertion that the UK has been around for so long "without needing a right to bear arms" demonstrates a breathtaking lack of knowledge of history. Where do you think the US got their "right to bear arms ?" For 50 bonus points, when and why was that right gradually eroded ?

Truly, if you wish to opine on a subject, at least some knowledge of it would help before making deragotary comments.

As I told an ever-so-disapproving professor in college -- who thought her PhD gave her the right to opine on any subject, no matter how abysmally ignorant she might be in the matter -- the reason I seldom discuss firearms with the Strongly Disapproving is not that I might lose the debate. I won't -- I've testified before legislatures on the subject several times.

Its simply that overwhelmingly, those who have this irrational fear or hatred of guns know nothing of the subject, all the while professing their Great Wisdom. So we have no common ground. It's tantamount to discussing abortion rights with someone who believes that the Stork brings babies. At that point, it doesn't matter what side of the issue you are on, or what side they are on -- you will simply never commmunicate.

10:55 PM, September 08, 2006  
Anonymous AskMom said...

Hey Dr. Helen: Pick up the gun and sight the target. Breathe once, in and out. Take off the safety, breathe in and out again, then breathe in and pull the trigger while you hold your breath, then exhale hard but not explosively with the pop.

That's what I've been doing for 40 years, and I never flinch. Good Luck.

10:57 PM, September 08, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

John Doe: The right to arms was pretty much unquestioned in Britain until the interwar years, and really serious gun confiscation is a phenomenon of recent decades. (See Joyce Malcolm's recent book on this).

And, strangely enough, the UK is looking much less free and democratic lately. Coincidence? I hope so, and so should you.

10:58 PM, September 08, 2006  
Anonymous 1charlie2 said...

Dave:

Of course gun owners " . . . are more likely to help somebody stranded on the side of a road." Ultimately, stopping to help is a calculus of a number of factors, one of them 'does this look dangerous ?' While a firearm does not make one superman, it does impart an added margin of safety to one trained in its use, and may be the tipping point in the equation.

While I don't often pick up hitch-hikers, I never do so if I don't have a gun. (For the record, I am a licensed CCW holder) But if I have my pistol on me, the odds may tip in favor of stopping.

11:05 PM, September 08, 2006  
Anonymous 1charliet2 said...

synova:

You're right, in that "It doesn't take a gun to kill someone. " But let's be honest -- a firearm makes it a lot easier.

No, I'm not falling into the "designed to kill" abyss. I had a silhouette pistol, for example, that was so not "designed to kill."

But I'm merely pointing out that for women, the aged, and the infirm, the gun is the single most effective method there is. An old woman in a wheelchair is easy prey for a sociopath -- until you train her to use a handgun. Then, if the awful moment comes to pass, she has the wherewithal to make a choice. That's why, in fact, I will resist any attempts to disarm the populace -- then the weak exist at the mercy of the strong.

We're toolmakers. We've made tools to cook with, tools to manufacture with, and (should that awful moment come to pass) tools to kill with. Because sometimes that awful moment comes.

11:20 PM, September 08, 2006  
Blogger Kirk Parker said...

John Doe,

"Killing people is evil".

Defending oneself against attack is not evil. If you disagree with this, then we literally have nothing to say to each other.

11:34 PM, September 08, 2006  
Anonymous steveH said...

John Doe: "The UK, for counter example, has managed to maintain the world's oldest extant democracy without needing a right to bear arms and has a concomitantly lower mortality to due to gunshot."

Strict gun control in the UK is a relatively recent event; it didn't really appear until just after WW1, driven largely by a "Red scare" fueled by post-war disorder in Germany, Russia, and other parts of (mostly) eastern Europe.

Before that time, Britain was home to a very active smallarms industry, much of it aimed toward and selling to the civilian market. Without high rates of with-gun homicide. Handguns were relatively affordable and widely available.

Since 1920, the gap between US and UK homicide rates has slowly, but pretty much continuously closed. It's got little (more likely nothing) to do with guns, per se, but with different cultural factors. And guns, not being self-volitional, have nothing to do with the issue.

11:36 PM, September 08, 2006  
Anonymous PhilipP said...

John Doe:

"One of the most powerful nations on earth feels the need to distribute them throughout the population."

No, the nation, through the government founded for and by the people, gives its people the option to purchase a handgun or not. Some do, and some don't.

There is no sinister conspiracy, just the exercise of free will by law-abiding citizens.

As for, "guns are repugnant by their very nature because they are machines for killing people". Yes. So? What's your point? That they work efficiently at what they're designed to do? In my world, that's a good thing.

Unlike the automobile, which wasn't designed to kill people, but is 40,000 times more effective at it every year...

What's repugnant to me is people bemoaning the loss of life by evil-doing people while demonizing an inanimate object... yet tolerating massive collateral loss of life by vehicles which could inarguably be a lot better designed and a lot safer.

Can you say, "swallowing a camel while straining at a gnat"?

11:43 PM, September 08, 2006  
Blogger Sean said...

my question for the good Doctor is this. If a person sees homosexuality as a choice, does that indicate that they are themselves capable of making that choice? same thing with firearms. If a person thinks that almost anyone who picks up a gun gets fascinated with the idea of killing someone, are they really just concerned with the beast within themselves and projecting that on the rest of the world at large? I believe that the beast within me is controlled. It works for me. I will only become that beast when necessary to save my own or someone else's life. I am pretty sure that most people would be comfortable with that. I don't have any idea if it was nature or nurture that put me in charge of that beast instead of the other way around. I would hope that there are ways to put people in control of that beast who otherwise might become predators in society. Otherwise, we might as well just kill off anyone who isn't in control of themselves. I would like to think that there is some hope for improvement. But what about those people who cannot control that beast, but possess just enough moral reasoning to know that the urges they feel are wrong? Do they then try to project their fear and anger away from themselves and into an inanimate object? That must be terrible. I can't imagine what life must be like for a person who knows that when the worst comes, they will not be able to resist their urges. I can't be angry at them. I can pity them.

11:45 PM, September 08, 2006  
Blogger TheNewGuy said...

I have to mostly agree with Joel... with a few caveats. I'm mostly just a doc these days, but I'm also a former instructor, SWAT operator, veteran, competitive pistol shooter, and I've spent thousands of hours on the range. After all that, I think there are two things a man should not teach his wife to do: drive and shoot.

Wait! Hear me out. I'm not saying that they shouldn't learn at all, precisely the opposite... just that somebody else needs to teach them (Note: it has nothing whatsoever to do with the skill of the spouse/instructor). It has much more to do with your spouse taking it seriously, not tuning you out, or taking it personally if you have to correct an unsafe/unwise behavior.

Driving and shooting are two activities where you literally hold your life and the lives of others in your hands. Such training should be done by a neutral, objective party, and with no illusions; if you're training with a pistol for self-defense, you're training to potentially take a life. Training with that in mind will help innoculate the person to the psychological stress such an encounter always produces, God help them if it ever happens.

I recommend two books for people who are seriously contemplating carrying a weapon; neither of these books have anything to do with the actual mechanics of shooting.

"In the Gravest Extreme," by Massad Ayoob

and

"On Combat," by David Grossman

Surviving a gunfight on the street or in your home is only half the fight... the other half is surviving it in court, and coming to a psychological peace with what you were forced to do. Unless you're an undiagnosed sociopath, the latter is harder than you think.

The basic mechanics of shooting are actually quite simple, and proficiency is easily gained by combining motivated student with competent instructor. Shooting on the move, low-light encounters, shoot/no-shoot, and close-quarters shooting/retention are also readily trainable and available to civilians (and qualified instruction and facilities for same have never been more available than they are today). Shooting is great fun, and a challenging sport to do well... but it pays to bear in mind what all this training is geared to do.

That said, shooting is great sport, and I recommend it to interested men AND women (and contrary to Joel's experience, I've found women to be easier to train than most men)

11:53 PM, September 08, 2006  
Blogger Graham Strouse said...

Kirk,

I do have glasses. Two pairs. I tend to lose them a lot. ;)

BTW: In all honesty, if you'd asked me 19 years ago what I thought about gun ownership rights, I'd have presented a very different point of view.

I do believe that some sort of basic competence test is a fair requirement--like getting your driver's license. I think it's pretty reasonable to require gun owners to demonstrate competence & responsibility. One could use driver's tests as a model. You get a limited permit, you practice, you take the real test. Your licensed.

My preference would be for something a bit more stringent then the standards that exist presently--something very much like a driver's test, necessitating a similar level of competence. And the liberal in me kinda feels safer knowing that gun owners are filed and registered.

ON THE OTHER HAND, my worse but wiser self might, at times, offer a counter-argument not that far from the old conservative saw:

When guns are criminalized, only criminals will have guns.

And frankly, I view the 2nd Ammendment quite differently then I once did. There is an explicit interpretation (states have the right to maintain a "well-regulated militia") and a rather obvious implicit interpretation ("Keep your guns boys & don't trust the gummint.")

I must confess that experience leads me to believe increasingly that it's not a good idea for citizens of this country to maintain individual martial competence and the means to project lethal force that we may defend our lives, defend our country & if necessary defend our lives against usurpers and abusers who would and do use the state's power against our persons, property & loved ones in defiance of the land's law.

On a related note, I've long wondered how long it will take before the urban DC population area stops & realizes that it possesses a superabundance of manpower, firepower (mostly wasted on pointless in-fighting) AND that they completely encircle & enfilade the nation's capital.

I also wonder how long it will take our national legislators on The Hill to notice they are surrounded & enfiladed by a bunch of poor, desperate heavily armed young men who don't like them very much.

Should be interesting.

12:36 AM, September 09, 2006  
Blogger Ed Nutter said...

Do you have the same creepy feelings toward those who enjoy beating people up and intimidating them by threat of force?

Is this a trick question?

No. It is the easiest of the ones I asked to take a cheap shot at though. You didn't answer the following ones...

"Is it moral or emotionally heathy to simply let them rage over the rest of society? Is it morally superior to be maimed, crippled, or killed rather than shooting your attacker before they can do one or all of those things? Why? Are those who practice marital arts for the purpose of self defence (and yes, they can kill very quickly) at the same repugnant level as gun owners?"

Your response prompts additional questions.

"Yes, I am averse to anyone who thinks violence is an appropriate way of doing things, except in the circumstances in which one has no choice."
Thought experiment: A person is walking at night and sees another person being attacked by a much larger stronger person. The first person is carrying a gun and a cell phone. He/she places the 911 call, but it's obvious that the victim will be dead or raped or both before the police can get there. There's your choice. Do you use the gun to stop the attack? This does NOT necessarily mean that you simply shoot the attacker. Using the gun includes pointing it at them and ordering them to stop the attack and move off. Cross that Rubicon and you must be willing to shoot however.

"In a "civilized" society, I think that owning a gun is going too far, for the same reason that using a cricket bat to beat an intruder to a pulp is going too far. All the expert authorities recommend letting your armed intruder take what he wants and leave, then deal with it."

There are two parts to that scenario. The first is an intruder who is stealing your possessions. The second is that he is armed. If they are simply stuffing your stuff into a sack then there is no justification for killing them. That is a rare situation. You've seen their face and can identify them.

Assume for the moment they are NOT armed and decide to attack because you appear to be not armed as well. I contend anyone would have the right to grab the cricket bat and smack them into as pulpy a consistantcy as required to stop the attack and ensure it wouldn't resume. Not so for the past few decades (and ONLY the past few as others have pointed out) in the UK but that's a separate issue.

But you're a smallish woman and can't wield a cricket bat with enough force to hurt them. They're still unarmed but moving toward you. Does a smallish woman have the moral right to pull out a handgun and credibly threaten (meaning she's really willing to kill) the intruder?

"And, by the way, is not the point that in the UK criminals don't use guns because they know they won't have a gun to contend with a good argument for outlawing gun ownership? The numbers of deaths by other implements certainly do not take the odds up to the same levels as they are in the US."

The study I read most recently says that's wrong. The violent crime per capita in the UK is higher than in the US. The death rate is not quite so high, but it is all with the victims and almost never with the perpetrators. The death rate for victims is higher than in the US. In the US the death rate for perpetrators is higher. Guess why, and why is that a bad thing?

Which brings me to my final point (for now at least). I'm one of those religious Republican conservatives you are probably rather wary and suspicious of. I carried a concealed weapon (Walther PPK 9mm) many years ago. After a series of close brushes with death, none of which the gun would have saved me from, I had a conversation with the Lord. He asked me if I wanted the gun to be my protector or Him to be my protector. Since I had just had my life preserved in situations that should have killed me the answer was obvious. I haven't carried a gun for 30 years.

God's contract was with me personally. It wasn't with Dr. Helen. It wasn't with anyone other than me.

And I've since found out it covers my immediate family. When he was a senior in High School my youngest son (a strapping 6'3") was threatened by a local gang leader. My son is very much non-violent, but with his size could not be intimidated by any one guy. This guy had a gang, and told my son the day and time his gang was going to beat him to death. The police weren't interested in escort duty, so I prepared to shadow him with some weapons that I wouldn't get arrested for possessing. My wife and her prayer group prayed. The weekend before the threatened attack the gang leader went skiing and got a double compound fracture of the femur. By the time he was off crutches the senior class was graduated and gone. End of story.

And yes, I know exactly how that sounds, and could make the denigrating arguments as well as anyone reading this. However I know what is true and what is not.

So I'm protected, and my family is protected. I'm still big enough, young enough, healthy enough, and know enough ways to kill and maim with improvised or no weapons. I don't anticipate needing to unless I happen upon a situation like in the thought experiment I proposed above.

So lets plug me into that scenario. Assume I don't succumb to the fear and do challange the attacker. Is it just awful of me make the choice to intervene to protect someone using skills whose only purpose is to maim and kill? Now for someone in the same position who is 5'1" and 100 lbs instead of 6'1' and over 200 lbs, but who is armed. Would not the choice and it's moral ramifications be the same for them?

If your answer to the first question above boils down to "yes" then I suggest that you are the uncivilized one. Beyond that I'll just second the excellent comments of 1charlie2.

1:04 AM, September 09, 2006  
Blogger Graham Strouse said...

Incidentally, in defense of serious gun-owners/enthusiasts I've known:

Most of them are obsessively responsible when it comes to gun safety. Generally this is because they've fired them enough to get a pretty good idea what kind of damage a gun can do if you get careless. Amongst this set, the ex-military folks with combat experience tend to be the most anal. I'm cool with these folks.

What I don't like to see is a 3rd shift clerk packing a .357 he knows nothing about or some gang-banger with the plastic Glock in shoved muzzle-down into the waistband of his trousers with the safety off. Darwin might approve, though. Society ladies with dainty little .22s in their purses also put me on edge.

"It only makes a little hole..."

These people have no business carrying weapons. They don't understand them or respect them or what they can do. They're more likely to use them impulsively & they're more likely to end up staring down the business end of their own piece if they confront or are confronted by someone who DOES know his way around guns.

Personally, I'm just not comfortable around firearms. I'm absent-minded about certain things ("Oh, THAT'S the safety...whoops) & I'm a poor shot.

When I was working as a freelance reporter I was threatened with rifles and/or shotguns by gentlemen who could have just as easily said "no comment" and it wasn't a pleasant experience. But then, this was the south & not once did any of these fine men behave squirrly. They were men of few words, I presume, and they simply wanted to communicate their complete lack of any desire to talk to me as quickly and efficiently as possible.

It worked.

The one time I actually had a weapon discharged at me was terrifying (paranoid crackheads & guns don't mix). I was fortunate that the weapon misfired, to say the least. Given the range (point-blank) & caliber and what he was poinring at, I'd have been killed.

I put the guy down very, very hard and got out of there very, very fast & didn't leave my apartment for about three or four days afterwards. Couldn't stop shaking or wondering whether I'd killed the guy or not. Still don't know. Still upsets me a lot. I was in the nighborhood, interviewing a guy & some dude I've never met, a poor sod whose obviously strung out, paranoid, apparently thinks I'm writing about something that relates to him, this guy comes up with a lethal weapon, aims it at me, tries to fire and forces me to respond with potentially lethal force. This is where guns don't belong. It's just where they seem to show up a lot.

So I don't have a problem with guns & responsible gun owners. I'd just prefer not to stare down the barrel of a big revolver again.

1:11 AM, September 09, 2006  
Blogger Oligonicella said...

"Oligonicella: I think a morbid fascination with weapons of any kind is unhealthy. You know the answer to your question, so why ask it?

Oh dear, it does rather look like the debate has fallen apart after all."

Webster's

mor·bid adj.
1. suggesting an unhealthy mental state or attitude; unwholesomely gloomy, sensitive, extreme, etc.: a morbid interest in death.
2. affected by, caused by, causing, or characteristic of disease.
3. pertaining to diseased parts: morbid anatomy.
4. gruesome; grisly.

It has only fallen apart on your side, chum. First thing you did was accuse me of an unhealthy mental attitude instead of asking why I enjoyed sword-work. The second thing you did was avoid answering my query.

Why presume my manufacture and expertise is "morbid". I have been involved with many forms of martial arts for 40+ years. Those weapons I mentioned are difficult to control and require atheleticism and expertise, in turn requiring patience, practice, skill and intelligence. They are amongst the highest forms of personal body/mind control. This is especially true when practicing with a partner. Morbidity where?

"It is not totemism, nor paganism nor anything particularly weird to not want to touch something associated with death and destruction such as a serial killer's sweater or a handgun, it is simple human nature."

Bzzt! It's not human nature, else I wouldn't be able to collect the 10lb reward. It's superstition, not nature. It's a damn piece of string tied into itself over and over, not some supernatural item imbued with the spirit of the killer who wore it. Talk about morbid.

"Personally, I think that all normal people..."

Do not project your bias upon me. Did you ever stop to consider that people with a view opposing yours were "normal" instead, and that perhaps they had motivations that were not the shallow caracatures you entertain?

You seem to spend a lot of time rationalizing your anthropomorphism of the machinery.

8:49 AM, September 09, 2006  
Anonymous Vicki said...

About flinching...

I have taken the Farnum's course under Vicki's husband John and it is excellent. John teaches you to grip the pistol in your right hand, as you are doing in the video but instead of cupping with your left hand, wrap the left hand around the right. Now both thumbs should be on the left side of the slide. The next habit to form is to keep both thumbs vertical. It will take some time to do this consistently. This adds stability and reduces flinch as well as any pull to the left. It improved my accuracy tremendously.

After my husband died three years ago I took DTI's beginner's course and had such fun that I went back for the advanced course. I was the only woman in with a group of men who ranged from a nurse to police officers and a Secret Service agent. It was a blast and, while always careful, I feel perfectly comfortable around guns. Interestingly, two of the course instructors who teach with John in my town are my gynecologist and my sons' pediatrician.

Hope this helps.

10:11 AM, September 09, 2006  
Anonymous Vicki said...

Also, the picture on page 65 of "Teaching Women to Shoot" shows the best illustration of the grip I attempted to describe.

One thing I forgot to mention is that John spends the first day of the class teaching you how to AVOID being in situations in which you might need to protect yourself and also, how to deflect confrontation if at all possible. He stresses that the pistol is the absolute last resort. However, if it comes to that, you had better know how to do it well.

10:50 AM, September 09, 2006  
Blogger Helen said...

Vicki 10:50:

Thanks for your tips--I took a look at the grip used on page 65 and that looks like something that might help.

11:06 AM, September 09, 2006  
Blogger me said...

I used to be for more gun control, up to outright banning of non-sports use of firearms. Probably lots of things contributed, but really what changed my mind completely was law school. Specifically, the cases about how the police have no duty to protect people who call and ask for protection. I don't care for guns, and probably never will learn to shoort or carry a gun -- unless for some reason I feel my life in danger from a stalker or similar problem. I should probably get some mace since I'm not willing to carry a gun.

12:00 PM, September 09, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought people might be interested in these two recent news article about women and self-defense.

In one, a disabled woman on her way to the shooting range shoots a robber. In the second, a woman kills a home-invader with her bare hands:

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2003249307_webstrangleintruder08.html

http://www.cnn.com/2006/US/09/09/wheelchair.shooter.ap/index.html

1:48 PM, September 09, 2006  
Anonymous R. Hecht said...

On the matter of flinching, I agree with dry firing. It works marvelously. Most of those who flinch on an empty chamber feel rather sheepish when the source of the flinch is shown to be them, not the gun. I've taken several vocal anti-gun types shooting at the range just by asking them if they have ever shot before (almost always not) and would they like to? It gets humorous when they turn on a dime from pontificating ignorantly to being eager to shoot.

The best things that happen from taking these folks shooting are that they see that it takes skill, that they can learn the basics quickly, and that it is very satisfying to be able to shoot where you want. From my standpoint it also makes them unlikely to pontificate anymore.

I grew up with guns. Most urban people didn't. Arguments and statistics will get you only so far in trying to change the mind of someone who has never fired one. So, take your co-workers shooting. Watch their attitudes change.

2:03 PM, September 09, 2006  
Blogger Stephen_M said...

Some seem to be offering advice for jerking the trigger and a lot of that advice so good that I've nothing to add.

We're talking flinch though right?
Nothing works 100% for all people.

But I've seen a lot of people gradually get over flich through lots of repetition of the double-tap. Which, if self-defense is the goal is pretty much mandatory anyway.
It seems that for a lot of folks they concentrate so hard on scoring well with the second shot that they forget to flinch on the first. Often they forget about flinching altogether.
Works for some.
And like I say, double-tapping is pretty much a necessity anyway. Also, it will expose a poor grip in a hurry.
That's got to be worked on separately.

2:45 PM, September 09, 2006  
Blogger Zendo Deb said...

Flinching.

I find I do this if I don't shoot often enough. I don't have to shoot a lot of ammo, I just need to shoot regularly.

Once I am at the range for about 40 minutes, I stop flinching.

I also find when going back to shooting after being out of it for a while, starting with 38 specials works. (I used to be able to borrow a friends .22 short pistol, and that was nice to shoot and nice to teach with.)

4:33 PM, September 09, 2006  
Anonymous Esteve said...

Dr. Helen,
Your trigger control seems to be very good. Perhaps just concentrate on keeping the right wrist more rigid and your right elbow straighter to reduce muzzle rise. I assume the pistol is a 9mm. You may enjoy a medium frame revolver in .357 magnum for personal defense and then you can practice with .38 special ammo. Considerably less recoil for a very favorable shooting experience.
Steve Watkins, USN Retired
Certified NRA Pistol, Rifle and Shotgun Instructor

8:11 PM, September 09, 2006  
Anonymous Demonspawn said...

I read the first 100 or so comment, skimmed thru the rest. I have a few things to say.

First to John Doe:

I'll debate just about anything with just about anyone, as I respect that others are individuals with their own right to their own thoughts, no matter how much I disagree. However, there are a few points where you are just plain incorrect:

A firearm of any type is a simple machine designed for the purpose of presenting deadly force irreguardless of the physical size of the user.
i.e. When I go to work (I'm an armed security guard) and someone intent on devious activities notices me, notices that I'm armed, and changes their intended actions, my firearm has done its job, has fulfilled it's intended purpose, without killing anyone. If they do not change their plans, and I am forced to unholster my weapon, the threat of deadly force inimently weighing on them will hopefully deter them at that point. If it does, the firearm has again performed its role without killing anyone.

In a post I scanned of yours I noticed that you stated that a handgun being used by someone intent on harming another is evil. An inanimate object CANNOT be evil. It cannot be good. It can only be. Example: Water, which is vital for survival, caused hundreds of deaths and billions in property dammage last year in Lousania. Is water now good or evil? It is neither, it is simply water.

Killing is not evil. Killing is sometimes an unfortunate necessity. Murder is evil. If you cannot understand the difference between the two actions, I'm really not sure how to explain it to you as you would have to have some mental filter that doesn't allow you to understand.

Beyond the corrections, I can understand your dislike of firearms. That is your own personal choice. However much your distaste of them is, they cannot be un-invented. They are here to stay.

I belive it was you who refered to not needing firearms in a 'civilized' society. I know it is a stretch for many people who can't comprehend this little factiod, but the only difference between civilized society and cavemen is that we designate people we call "police" or "military" to perform our violence for us instead of performing it ourselves. Violence, and the threat thereof, is still what makes the world go around. I am ex-Army, so I understand this point very well.

To Graham Strouse:
Just wanted to pick on your "Gang-banger with the plastic Glock in shoved muzzle-down into the waistband of his trousers with the saftey off." comment. Glocks have the saftey on the trigger ;)

To Any American who supports gun control:
If you compaire the death rates per-capita between Washington D.C. (highest gun control) and Iraq (what gun control?) you will find that you are safer in Iraq.

On a random Iraq note, more college students have commited suicide than soldiers have died in Iraq since the begining of hostilities.

Personal Note:
I find people in the US who lobby for gun control self-defeating. There are only two possible outcomes:
1) The Supreme Court of the US will declare that the 2nd Amendment supports the personal right to bear arms (as it has in most challenges that reach the court)
2) The SCotUS will declare the 2nd Ammendment invalid, and we will have the 2nd Revolutionary War.

--Demonspawn

11:10 PM, September 09, 2006  
Blogger ronin1516 said...

John Doe :
Ronin here. I am no troll, and helen, owner of this blog knows that. Instead of brushing off my comments, I wonder if you would care to explain why you seem to suffer from a morbid fear of all weapons, it seems? Since youhave denigrated guns and gun owners and the gentleman who is a custom knife/bladesmith?
Instead of being critical of the comment I made about Freud, I see that you went of on a jag, psychoanalysing people who use or own guns.
Bottom line is this - if you wish to hold up your side of the argument, I wish you tried to educate yourself. Otherwise you come off as a bloody fool, who keeps on arguing, even though he has lost the argument.
You dont like guns, fine, its a free country. But, dont dare to say that you are somehow a morally superior individual, becasue you have made that choice. Wrong choice, in my opinion.

11:13 PM, September 09, 2006  
Blogger Kirk Parker said...

Graham,

"What I don't like to see is a 3rd shift clerk packing a .357 he knows nothing about"

Well of course, people shouldn't carry weapons if they're not familar with them, but how can you tell that by looking at them? If I were a such a person (presumably working in the infamously dangerous mini-mart at 2am) you bet I'd have a real interest in having a gun and knowing how to use it!

Oh, and Glock's don't have safeties in the traditional sense: not something you can put on or off, at any rate.

1:08 AM, September 10, 2006  
Blogger TmjUtah said...

Probably a dead thread but:

Our dying video card wouldn't let me watch the video on our desktop. After watching the video I second the previous suggestion to relax your elbows a bit in order to accomadate recoil and then suggest that you either widen your stance (feet online should be slightly wider than shoulder width apart) or drop your strong foot back a half step.

Keep on shooting!


If that's a nine, then those are some heavy/ hot loads. I think more like a .40...?

8:12 PM, September 10, 2006  
Blogger Bob said...

I found it interesting that on the very day you posted this, my wife took our seventeen-year-old son and his friend to an indoor shooting range (first time for all three). Me? I stayed home with the babies! My wife enjoyed it, but she did have some problems with the noise.

11:20 PM, September 10, 2006  
Anonymous triticale said...

Glenn linked to the website of your local shooting range, and I noticed that among the firearms they have available for rental is a suppressed ("silencer" equipped) .22 pistol. That might be one more tool for the deflinching project.

12:40 AM, September 11, 2006  
Blogger rosignol said...

I feel that such people have lost sight of the true nature of the machines they are playing with and perhaps exhibiting psycholgical issues making them bigger risks with a gun than without.


That machine is designed to send a projectile on a predictable arc at high velocity. Statistically, the most common application for these projectiles is to make holes in paper, less often, to kill livestock or game prior to processing. Rarely (in comparison to the other uses) these machines are used to render potentially lethal injuries on other human beings, but that is only one application of the device, which is no more inherently bad or good than the human being using it (or the human it is being used on).

You think firearms are inherently bad- no, that's not correct, you feel that firearms are inherently bad, regardless of the fact that the vast majority of rounds fired never come into contact with any living flesh when they are moving at any significant velocity, and regardless of the fact that they are tools used on your behalf every day to feed and protect you and yours from those who would do you harm.

Try thinking instead of feeling, and changing your primary source of information on firearms to something other than movies or television.

Once you get rid of the incorrect information about firearms, you might be ready for the idea that the person who is most responsible for your safety is you, and that the police are a reactive organization that does a lot of good for society at large, but damn little for the victim of whoever it is they're arresting.

Once you get to that point, you might realize that you have been very mistaken for quite some time.


ps to Graham Strouse:
What I don't like to see is a 3rd shift clerk packing a .357 he knows nothing about or some gang-banger with the plastic Glock in shoved muzzle-down into the waistband of his trousers with the safety off.

Others have already commented on the nature of the Glock's safety, all I have to add to it is that this kind of basic error is one of the big reasons journalists have little credibility with the firearms enthusiast community. Simply put, if you screw up something like that- a very easily checked fact- what else are you guys getting wrong?

7:39 AM, September 11, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the person who is most responsible for your safety is you

Um, not according to Dear DOctor in the next posting. She is clearly ANTI SELF DEFENSE.

Just saying.

7:36 PM, September 12, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting that the Dr. asks her readers to use the facts... and yet we don't... why? Perhaps because we all emote about the right to bear arms or whether or not men are the worst offenders or such.

Here's the deal. I toothed on a six-gun. And have never shot another human being in the 40 years I have been shooting.

What are we measuring? Perhaps if we look at the number of rounds fired by 'civilians' and where they ended up, would we have a clearer picture of shooting in general as a sport?

The Doctor is correct in this one thing - get back to the facts. Especially if you want the rest of the world to look at your facts when it is time for you to go on the defensive.

6:06 PM, April 28, 2007  
Blogger Cynthia said...

Women and guns...how about a harley riding woman packing a 9mm?

I learned to ride through the state of Ohio so as not to learn anyones bad habits. I also learned to shoot through a course taught by professionals, for the same reason.

In the span of 2 months I now own 3 firearms. Only one is for home protection and it's in a safe under my bed. The other two are locked and NOT loaded and used for competition shooting.

Amazingly enough Olympic medals are passed out to women who can handle a firearm.

When my children were able to walk on their own, I taught them how to respectfully touch items that are not theirs - instead of the You can't touch that mentality. They soon bored with touching everything.

Now my children 10 & 7 are involved in all aspects of shooting as their age permits. Guns in our home are something that gets taken to the firing range and then put back away. The mystery has been removed and now they're pretty much bored with them.

I am not advocating anything except parental responsibility and trust in your children. If it's not taboo, it's soon boring.

4:46 PM, November 30, 2007  
Blogger Robert said...

It is pretty clear to me that "John Doe's" "morality" isn't based on objective reality. That is why he is relying on "spiritual" arguments to bolster his case. His "morality" has no proof.

2:09 AM, December 30, 2007  
Blogger Anesha said...

Hi Nice Blog . I don't really know a lot about Human Anatomy study or art, but that's just my 2 cents. Really great job though, Krudman! Keep up the good work!

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11:41 PM, June 07, 2009  

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