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Frank Ettin
15th May 2010, 02:13
On The Road Again


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by Frank Ettin


14 May 2010

Once again your peripatetic correspondent has left hearth and home in search of gun related adventure. (Okay, Iím getting to the age at which adventure isnít what it used to be.)

Anyway, last night was in Barstow, and this afternoon I arrived in Prescott, Arizona. Tomorrow Iíll be off to my destination, Sierra Vista, Arizona. Forum member threefeathers organized a class there for Massad Ayoob (he was in the LFI-I class I took a while ago). I had the opportunity to help out, and just couldnít pass it up.

I finished packing on Wednesday and got to bed early. Of course the cat knew something was up since my packed bags were downstairs ready to be loaded into the car in the morning. So she slept on my feet all night to try to keep me from leaving.

The trip to Barstow was -- well, a trip to Barstow.


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However, the thereís some nice country after Bakersfield and before Mohave.

This morning I went through Needle and crossed the Colorado River into Arizona. Shortly thereafter, I took the Franconia Road exit. As far as I can tell, Franconia Road really doesnít go anywhere, but it offers a nice spot to stop out of view of the freeway and arm myself in privacy.

This trip Iím wearing a 1911, specifically my Nighthawk Talon III (see http://ezine.m1911.org/showthread.php?t=39). Itís a CCO size gun, Commander size top end on a Officers ACP size frame. Itís a fine gun to carry. And Iím taking the Ed Brown Kobra Carry also dicussed in that article.

Stopped in Seligman to stretch my legs. Interesting old Route 66 town.


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Continued on and got some rain just before turning south on Highway 89 for the final leg of the run into Prescott.

Thereís a new rule in Arizona. With a permit, one may now go armed with a concealed handgun into a place serving alcohol, but may not drink. So I was able to go out to a nice dinner in Prescott without worrying about what I was going to do with my pistol. I went back to a place called Murphyís I discovered my last trip here, and had a decent Caesar Salad (no one seems to make a really great Caesar, like the old days, made at the table), and an excellent filet and asparagus -- with some iced tea. I usually like my wine and tipple, but in any case, I make it a practice to never drink when Iím handling guns.

And after dinner took a little stroll around downtown Prescott. I do like Prescott; maybe my ďyuppieĒ self is showing, but what you see is what you get.

Off to Sierra Vista tomorrow, so more is coming.

Please use this (http://forum.m1911.org/showthread.php?p=782317#post782317) thread to discuss this and the posts that will follow.

Frank Ettin
16th May 2010, 02:25
15 May 2010

Howís this for a properly arranged nightstand?


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Drove from Prescott to Sierra Vista, home of Fort Huachuca. Got caught in construction in Phoenix adding almost 40 minutes to the drive, but it was otherwise an uneventful journey. Passed through an interesting range of countryside, from the high desert of Prescott, through the lower elevations of Phoenix and back up to the high desert desert of Sierra Vista, south of Tucson.

Threefeathers came by and we went for a little tour. First we drove through Fort Huachuca. Threefeathers is teaching shooting there. Itís a fascinating place rich in history. Not only is it the home of the U. S.Army Intelligence Center, it was the home of the Buffalo Soldiers.

We then went out for a terrific Mexican meal at a local place and then took a backroad to Tombstone. Iím hoping for a chance to go back when itís light an get some photographs of both the town and the country around it.

I have to say that Iím a little disappointed in the hotel here. It was supposed to be one of the leading hotels in the area, but the room is far too sparse for comfort -- overall pretty drab and dreary in my opinion (and the Internet connection is very slow). So if youíre going to be around here, I suggest some place other than the Windemere.


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Itís late, and I need to be up early. Iím going to the range with threefeathers to help set up for the class, and then weíre going to pick up Mas and one of the other instructors at the Tucson airport.

Please use this (http://forum.m1911.org/showthread.php?p=782317#post782317) thread to discuss this and the posts that will follow.

Frank Ettin
17th May 2010, 00:00
16 May 2010

Threefeathers picked me up at 0830 to head out to the range to set up the classroom.

Itís a very nice range. They were holding a small IDPA-style match.


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And this is looking west from the range toward Fort Huachuca.


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From what threefeathers tells me, the folks at the range were very enthusiastic about having Massad Ayoob come and teach a class there. They did a lot of work to upgrade the classroom, including air conditioning (Thank God).

I bailed on going with threefeathers to pick up Mas and another instructor at the airport. Mas had a lot of luggage, and I really didn't need to take up space that was probably going to be needed for suitcases. Apparently he has a number of things to do down here, including an expert witness gig, and will be here a month.

So after setting up the classroom, threefeathers dropped me off back at the hotel. There I hooked up with one of the students in the class, a Forum.M1911.Org member who goes by USMC69. He had actually spotted me here yesterday and introduced himself. He said that he recognized me from my picture here. I am not used to that sort of notoriety.

We decided to drive out to Tombstone. I was interested in seeing it in the daylight. And sure, itís touristy; but, you know, itís kind of a high class touristy -- short on junky souvenir shops and very long on bona fide history.


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Pictured below is where the local Masonic Lodge met in the days of the Earps, and where they continue to meet to this day.


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Today I decided to wear my Milt Sparks Axiom holster (http://ezine.m1911.org/MiltSparksAxiom.htm ), an OWB (outside the waistband) rig, instead of my usual Milt Sparks Versa Max 2 IWB (inside the waistband) holster. Itís somewhat more comfortable with the trousers Iím wearing, and it still conceals very well.


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It occurred to me that the Axiom is an excellent OWB alternative to the VM2. They sit at the same angle and at the same place on the belt. Iím a strong believe in keeping oneís carry arrangement consistent, so having both holsters gives me the opportunity to have both an OWB and IWB option without varying location or draw.

And hereís an item for your small world file. USMC69 and I were strolling around Tombstone, and there on the sidewalk is Jon Hodoway. He was one of the instructors when I took LFI-I in October of 2008. Heíll be one of the instructor for Masí class here.

Anyway, Iíll need to be at the range at 0730 tomorrow -- ugh. I thought when I retired they had discontinued all times of day before 10:00 am.

Please use this (http://forum.m1911.org/showthread.php?p=782317#post782317) thread to discuss this article.

Frank Ettin
18th May 2010, 09:19
17 May 2010

Actually, this is going up on the 18th. It was too late, and I was too tired to get this posted yesterday.

This is the first MAG40 class. "MAG" means "Massad Ayoob Group" (http://massadayoobgroup.com/). That is Mas' successor operation to the Lethal Force Institute (LFI). Mas' now ex-wife retains the rights to the LFI name.

The content of MAG40 is essentially the same a LHI-I, i. e., the basic self defense class -- about 65% classroom work on legal and ethical issues with 35% of the time on the range covering shooting fundamentals.

Through MAG, Mas is now offering two new classes, MAG20/Classroom and MAG20/Live Fire. These are each two day classes, the first strictly in the classroom training covering the legal and ethical material covered in MAG40, with the second being the shooting component of MAG40.

If someone has limited time and has a solid grounding in shooting fundamentals from other training, such as at Gunsite, Thunder Ranch or other good schools/trainers, I'd urge him to consider taking MAG20/Classroom. This class is unique. I'm not aware of anywhere else, a private citizen can get such a solid foundation of the legal and ethical issues associated with being an armed citizen. (Of course, if you have the time for the full MAG40, that is an excellent class -- one can't have too much training in the shooting fundamentals.)

Mas had five assistant instructors for this class -- including yours truly.

So after the usual filling out of forms, etc., class started in the classroom with a discussion of self defense legal basics.


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MAS emphasizes that one has used force in self defense, the question of whether that use of force was justified will be decided from the perspective of "the reasonable and prudent person in the exact situation and knowing what you know." He stresses the need to be able to articulate how and why you concluded that you needed to use force to defend yourself and the knowledge that you had acquired from training and experience upon which your conclusion was based.

One thing he recommends is that whenever taking training, take good notes. A few weeks after the class, type them up and mail a copy to yourself, certified mail. Don't open the envelop when it arrives, but keep in a safe deposit box or in some other secure way. These notes, when appropriately opened will establish that you knew certain things from your training and when you knew them. The USPS certified mail date stamps provides incontrovertible evidence that the notes were created before that date.

Late in the day we got on the range for some work on basic presentations from the holster, grip and stance and trigger control. Mas covers three stances, Weaver, Isosceles and Chapman, and urges everyone to at least be familiar with all of them (1) to help decide which works best for you; and (2) because one may be better suited than the other to a particular situation. We also had a drill in which the student held the gun with the instructor placing his (or her) finger over that of the student's; and the instructor pressed the trigger to fire the shot. The idea is for the student to be able to feel what a smooth trigger press feels like.


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After finishing up on the range, we returned to the classroom for a brief discussion by your correspondent of some of his favorite myths and misconceptions about self defense.

And now I need to get off to class, so more later.

Please use this (http://forum.m1911.org/showthread.php?p=782317#post782317) thread to discuss this article.

Frank Ettin
19th May 2010, 09:00
18 May 2010



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We started out at the range at 0800.

Among other things, Mas introduced the class to what he calls the wedge grip. With the two hand hold, when gripping with the support hand, the middle finger is brought right up to the bottom of the trigger guard. The index finger of the support hand starts extended and is then brought in to wedge itself up against the bottom the trigger guard over the middle finger of the support hand. The idea is that this locks the gun very firmly into the hands.

Consistent with Mas' general approach, he introduced it as an available option. He urges everyone to learn and try various techniques to see what works and what doesn't.


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Mas then discussed shooting with one hand. This is an important skill. In many real life events the defender had to shoot one handed.


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The students shot drills with both strong hand only and weak hand only.

Mas then had the class shoot some speed drills -- 6 shots then reload and 6 more in a fixed time. He started off at very generous 25 seconds, then 20, then 15 and finally 12.5.

We spent the afternoon in the classroom to discuss crisis intervention, managing and controlling a situation and the physical, psychological and social aftereffects, of a self defense event.

Please use this (http://forum.m1911.org/showthread.php?t=82412&page=1&pp=10) thread to discuss this article.

Frank Ettin
20th May 2010, 09:50
19 May 2010


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Effective use of cover may require lowering one's body. So we started at the range today learning ways to do that: squatting, high kneeling and low kneeling.

A squat is quick to get into or out of, and it provides a good degree of mobility. And it can come in handy if the ground is rocky or covered with broken glass or other debris. But it can be tough for us older specimens to get low enough, and it's generally less stable than kneeling.

If one chooses to kneel whether high or low will be dictated by the height of the cover. There are a couple of variation of low kneeling: either one knee down or both. And of course, these positions can be tough on us older specimens as well.


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The class then spent a fair amount of time shooting at 15 yards. While violent encounters tend to be short distance affairs, there have been examples of a legitimate need to engage an assailant at a greater range. One can never be sure how an emergency will arise or what will be necessary to deal with it effectively. In addition, shooting at longer distances is very useful to develop and maintain basic marksmanship skills. And better marksmanship skills can give the responsibly armed private citizen an advantage over society's violent predators.

The 15 yard drills allowed students to assess their skills and to begin taking any desirable corrective action. They also shot drills at this distance using the three stances, Weaver, Isosceles and Chapman, to help them identify whether one or another might work better for them.


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Back in the classroom in the afternoon, Mas spent a good deal of time going over interactions with witnesses, responding police and investigating officers.

An important point that is often not considered is that a witness' perception of a rapidly unfolding and high stress event may be strongly distorted by preconceived ideas and normal stress responses. Thus the witness may perceive the citizen, who uses force to stop a criminal from committing a heinous crime against an innocent, as himself a threat.

Please use this (http://forum.m1911.org/showthread.php?t=82412&page=1&pp=10) thread to discuss this article.

Frank Ettin
22nd May 2010, 00:21
20 May 2010

The last day of MAG40, the shooting qualification, some final course material and the written test.

But first we all had to read the front page article on the class just published in the Sierra Vista Herald. But then we got down to business, and the first item on the agenda was the shooting qualification.

The qualifier specifically is:

-- 6 rounds weak hand only at 4 yards
-- 6 rounds strong hand only at 4 yards
-- 12 rounds (6 rounds then reload) free style at 7 yards
-- 18 rounds (6 rounds from a squatting position, 6 rounds from high kneeling and 6 rounds from low kneeling) at 10 yards
-- 18 rounds (6 rounds Weaver, 6 rounds Chapman, 6 rounds Isosceles) at 15 yards

We used the standard IPSC target with major scoring (5 points for A zone, 4 for C and 3 for D). Magazines were loaded with 6 rounds, so a reload was required after each 6 rounds. All reloads were "on the clock" except between the weak hand and strong hand strings. While every stage had a time limit, it was generous. Possible is 300, and passing is 225.

SOP with Mas' class is for the staff to shoot the qualifier first. So Mas and the six instructors, including moi, shot the qualifier. I shot a 289.

The class, spit into two relays, then shot. Everyone passed.

After policing the range, everyone headed back to the classroom for more lecture/discussion, a round of questions, a last review of everything by Mas and then the written test.


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While the class was taking the test, Mas and some of stff were hatching plans for another class, perhaps next year.


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After the test, everyone passed, it was time to recognize some of the high scores on the shooting qualification -- and there were some excellent scores, including a perfect score shot by a retired LEO from Austin, Texas. But for my money, the high point was recognition of two women who staff concluded were the most improved shooters.

The most improved received Mas' qualification target signed by Mas and the rest of us instructors.


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The runner up received the qualification target of another instructor who also shot a perfect score -- again signed by staff.


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The final exercise was a sort of modified Tueller drill. Students were timed over 7 yards, and note was taken of each student's physical circumstances, general condition, presence of any medical or mobility issues, etc. And, consistent with expectations, everyone managed to cover the 7 yards, in 1.5 seconds, +/- a bit.


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21 May 2010

Today I slept in -- finally.

Then I decided to head over to Bisbee.

It's an interesting and historic town in the hills about 30 to 40 minutes drive, east and a bit south, of Sierra Vista. On one hand it's an old mining town. On the other hand, there a quite a number of coffee houses, cafes, art galleries and the like. During a conversation with the hostess at a local restaurant, she commented that Bisbee had more PhDs per capita than anywhere else in Arizona. Apparently it's a popular retirement spot of professors from the North.

Among the unexpected finds was maker of custom hats, Optimo Hatworks, including custom Panama hats using genuine handwoven Monticristi hat bodies from Ecuador. I had a long talk with the proprietor and even considered ordering a new Panama for the upcoming summer. Alas, he didn't have a blank that would work for the sort of hat I favor. But he took my measurements, and can let me know if one turns up.

So, some scenes of Bisbee.


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The sign pictured above was intriguing, but not enough for me to check out what the the shop actually sold.


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Tomorrow I'll head up to Prescott for a couple of days.

Please use this (http://forum.m1911.org/showthread.php?p=782317#post782317) thread to discuss this article.

Frank Ettin
23rd May 2010, 20:38
22 May 2010

I started the trip home by driving up to Prescott, where I'll spend a couple of days. Took an interesting side trip when I passed through Phoenix, but that'll be a story for another day.

Got to the hotel late in the afternoon, got unloaded and unpacked. The took a stroll up to Murphy's for dinner. It seems to be becoming my spot in Prescott. Had some excellent grilled salmon.

23 May 2010

Still recovering from the class. These classes can be tiring. And I've actually found it as tiring, if not more so, to teach as it is to take the class. One must be observant at all times to try to avoid safety problems. Monitoring the line during shooting exercises requires constant concentration. And then there's the fundamental task of trying to help folks learn and improve.

So this was a "light duty" day. Spent the morning strolling around downtown the Court House Spare.


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Had a very tolerable espresso in a cafe. But is was pretty cool and very windy, so I didn't linger. Instead took a drive up into the hills west of town, towards Thumb Butte, and took a little hike in the Prescott National Forest.


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I've also been taking some time to reflect on the class, the trip and traveling. So stay tuned for the next installment.

Please use this (http://forum.m1911.org/showthread.php?p=782317#post782317) thread to discuss this article.

Frank Ettin
25th May 2010, 00:17
Final Thoughts

In Barstow tonight and home tomorrow, so this will be the last installment.

About The Class

It was an interesting group of students. There were a fair number of military, because of the proximity of Fort Hauchucha and threefeatherís connection with the Fort. There were also a couple of LEOs, including a retired police officer from Austin, Texas. Some of the students had been in combat and/or gunfights. And several were beginners. The class included am Army lawyer who does prosecutions and a retired judge. And based on the evaluations, everyone found the class valuable.

Iím an unrepentant and zealous advocate of good, professional training for anyone who intends to carry a loaded gun in public or keep one at home for self defense. The responsible armed citizen owes it to his (or her) community to develop at least basic proficiency in practical weapons craft, as well a solid foundational understanding of the law to support the exercise of sound judgment in a crisis. Even in those States in which you'll need to take an authorized class to get a concealed handgun permit, the training is minimal and insufficient.

Thereís more to practical weapons craft then just basic marksmanship skills, and a foundational understanding of the law involves more than just know the ďblack letterĒ law. Practical shooting skills include handling a gun safely and efficiently under stress, shooting from various postures, and shooting quickly and accurately.

And an armed citizenís understanding of the law should include some basic knowledge of how the legal system works and how the law has been, and would be likely to be, applied to various situations. In addition, the armed citizen, and LEO, should know something about the stress induced physical and psychological effects he (or she) is likely to experience during, and after, a violent encounter.

If someone can take only one class, I would urge that class be MAG40. If youíre lucky enough to be able to take various shooting classes, take MAG40 too, or at least the classroom portion (MAG20). From my personal experience Masí classes include valuable legal, social and ethical matter not dealt with elsewhere.

About Traveling

Iíve got a trick for packing for a road trip thatís going to take me several days to get to a destination at which Iíll be for a while. I use a good size rolling duffle for my primary packing, and I pack a small bag with what Iíll need for the trip. That way I just leave the duffle packed until I get to where Iím going. And rolling luggage is very handy. Many places of course have luggage carts, but sometimes one may not be available when you need it.

When taking a class, I like to travel with more than one gun -- a primary gun for class, and a primary gun to carry. But I donít like to leave a gun unsecured in a hotel room. What to do?

The best arrangement, in my opinion, is an in-room safe. But too few hotels offer that amenity. And thereís always the safe deposit boxes most hotels make available for guests. But then I got this small lock box from Cabelaís.


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It holds one gun and has a cable that can be used to secure it to something solid. It wonít stop a determined and well equipped thief, but it should discourage the opportunistic criminal.


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I would not, however, use it to store a loaded gun. The gun is held reasonably tightly between the layers of the interior foam, and Iíd be concerned about the foam impinging on the trigger.

It was a great trip, but Iíll be happy to get home.

Please use this (http://forum.m1911.org/showthread.php?p=782317#post782317) thread to discuss this article.