CategoriesSkills and Gunhandling

Tactical Advantage – The Mag Life

The first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of tactical advantage is, of course, winning the fight. However, what exactly does that mean — to win? Does that mean you didn’t get shot in a gunfight, stabbed in a knife fight, or punched in a fistfight?

Choosing to engage in a violent physical encounter whether armed or unarmed, you wittingly or unwittingly accept the associated risks of incurring a recoverable injury, permanent injury, or death.

Sixth century AD Chinese general, military strategist Sun Tzu, author of ‘The Art of War,’ states “The greatest victory is that which requires no battle.” In other words, the best win over your opponent is when you never even need to step onto the battlefield.

What are some tools that you can keep in your war chest that would help you gain the tactical advantage — especially in such a way that Sun Tzu would approve; not needing to engage physically? Perceive, prepare, position.

Perceive

As opposed to finding yourself rocked back on your heels behind the action-reaction power curve, awareness is the currency that buys you time and allows you to proactively solve the tactical problem.

To not fall behind that action-reaction power curve is to monitor your environment. (Image source: stevetarini.com)

Controlling your immediate environment with your physical senses (visual, auditory, etc.,) and your awareness (perception) gains a tactical advantage in three ways.

First, it is your earliest warning system.

Alerting you at the very onset it is not possible to stay any further ahead of the power curve. By hearing it, seeing it, or sensing it coming, you end up ahead as opposed to behind the curve of an emerging physical threat.

Second, it acts as a deterrent.

When your would-be-assailants observe that you are mentally connected to your environment, they understand that you are gathering relevant information that can be used against them and that by doing this have effectively removed any element of surprise. By using your perception as a deterrent, it stops the fight before it even starts.

Lastly, but certainly not least…

…others observing your acute perception indicates to them that you are not such an easy or soft target. In fact, it both begs the question “Are there softer targets?” and provides the obvious answer “Yes.”

Prepare

Being prepared for physical combat starts in the mind. You must be mentally tougher than your adversaries. Mental toughness is the measure of individual resilience and confidence that can project success at home, at work, in competition, and under duress. It refers to any set of positive non-physical attributes that helps you to cope with the threatening situation and perform under duress and in difficult situations.

Steve Tarani teaching
You must be mentally tougher than your adversaries. (Image source: stevetarani.com)

What exactly is mental toughness?

If you ask elite military personnel, mental toughness is the ability to remain calm in extremely dangerous, or life-threatening situations and make the appropriate decisions to ensure mission success. If you ask an elite athlete, mental toughness is the ability to remain focused and perform well under stressful circumstances. If you ask the life-and-death incident survivors who escaped the impossible, many of them will tell you that mental toughness provided the willpower to get them through it.

Being prepared for physical combat also means being in good physical condition. If you were a predator searching for easy prey and you had your choice between someone who looked physically weak or incapable versus someone who appeared strong and physically able, which one would you most likely target? The one who wouldn’t appear to put up much of a fight.

Predators go for low-hanging fruit, soft targets, and easy prey. They don’t want to tangle with someone that may be tougher than them mentally and/ or physically that could possibly raise their scale of injury, put them in a hospital or in a morgue.

Position

Exploiting your perception and your preparedness affords you the opportunity to take up the most tactically sound physical position as a precursor to engaging in physical violence.

The three most tactically advantageous positions are found at higher ground, away from the fatal funnel, and in keeping your ducks in a row.

‘Higher ground’ can be applied either indoors or outdoors.

An indoor setting could mean atop a flight of stairs, a balcony, or an upper-level mezzanine — all of which give you both an elevated and dominant field of vision and, if need be, an elevated and dominant field of fire. In an outdoor setting, you can use the terrain or micro terrain such as a mound or a hilltop to gain a superior physical (positional) advantage.

Avoid the Fatal Funnel

Defensive mindset, avoid the Fatal Funnel
(Image source: Reflex Protect)

‘Fatal funnel’ is a close-quarters battle (CQB) term often used by military and law enforcement specialty teams to describe potential choke points such as doorways, stairwells, entryways, or any type of narrow area. Although specialty teams train for many hours on how to negotiate, navigate, and otherwise circumvent the fatal funnel, a general rule of thumb is to avoid those types of locations if you were to engage in physical combat.

Keep your ducks in a row.

‘Ducks in a row’ is a term referring to physically positioning yourself opposite multiple assailants. As an example, if there were two attackers and you positioned yourself in between the two of them then you would be essentially fighting a two-front war.

If, instead of being in between them, you flank one or the other of them and then line them up like ducks in a row, you’d at least have the tactical advantage of having one of them standing in between you and the other one, forcing them to first deconflict with each other prior to moving at you simultaneously which buys you the tactical currency of time and opportunity.

If you were a predator and you observed a potential target that was perceptive and effectively monitoring their environment, removing any element of surprise plus appeared to be both mentally and physically prepared and lastly moved to a superior tactical position, it would be in your best interest to seek a softer target or be willing to assume a substantially higher risk.

In a police interview with an apprehended felon, an investigator asked the perpetrator why he didn’t engage the arresting officer when he clearly had the capability and opportunity. His response was “Well, I thought about it for a second, but he really looked dialed in, kept changing position and I could tell that he was well trained, so I didn’t think I could beat him.” The officer held the upper hand. Utilizing one or more of these tools; perception, preparation, and position, can afford you a similar tactical advantage.

CategoriesSkills and Gunhandling

Jeff Cooper’s Drills – Old School Cool and Relevant?

Jeff Cooper has been described as the “father of modern handgun shooting”. His influence pushed shooting forward, and his contributions to modern handgun handling deserve notation. Over time we may have evolved, and tactics, techniques, and firearms change, but the way we see shooting in 2021 was built on the blocks of Jeff Cooper’s contributions. Today we are going to look at three of his drills.

These are part of a larger martial art called Combat Pistol Shooting which got its start in the early 1900s. It combines works from Cooper’s Modern Technique as well as contributions from Captain William E. Fairbairn and Sergeant Eric A. Sykes and their time in Shanghai as well as Rex Applegate, Jack Weaver, and many more. These drills were based on actual events, and Jeff Cooper applied what someone could theoretically do should they be armed with a pistol.

Mozambique / Failure To Stop Drill

You might argue this isn’t technically one of Jeff Cooper’s drills, but I’d argue it is. A mercenary named Mike Rousseau was fighting in the Mozambique War of Independence. During a particularly harrowing fight at an airport, he turned a corner and came face to face with an enemy armed with an AK 47. Rousseau engaged with his Browning Hi-Power and fired two rounds into the guy’s chest.

Jeff Cooper drill, Mozambique
The Mozambique drill only requires a chest and head target.

The man didn’t go down, and he continued to advance. As such, Mike fired a final shot to his head. He recounted this story to Jeff Cooper, and Cooper added the Mozambique drill to his drills folder. You surely recognize this as the classic two to the chest and one to the head.

It’s a very simple drill, and you’ve likely already figured the core of the drill out. Shooters face the target, and on the signal, they fire a double tap or hammer pair to the chest of the target. From here, they take a well-aimed shot at the head of the target. Headshots should be focused on the T zone of the target. This is the entire that ranges from eye to eye and down the bridge of the nose to the upper lip.

Travis Pike demonstrating Jeff Cooper drill, Mozambique.
Two to the chest and one to the head wins hearts and minds.

The drill is modular and can be fired at nearly any range with either a rifle or pistol. Shooters can start holstered or in the low ready, and a timer can institute extra stress. It’s a great drill that allows shooters to continually increase the difficulty of the drill as their skills increase. The Marine Corps still uses this drill, and they label it the Failure to Stop Drill.

The El Presidente

Undoubtedly as far as Jeff Cooper drills go, this is the most famous. The El Presidente drill came from a 1970s issue of American Handgunner. While training a South American security force, Cooper designed the drill to test shooters and gauge their skills.

The drill is simple. You’ll need three man-sized targets spaced a yard apart from each other. Shooters will stand 10 yards from the target. From here, they will face away from the targets, with their hands in a surrender position with their firearm holstered.

jeff cooper drill, El Presidente, three targets
The El Presidente Calls for three bad guys

You’ll need a firearm loaded with six rounds, and a magazine or speed loader also loaded with six rounds. A shot timer should also be present with a par time set to 10 seconds. On the beep, shooters turn, draw and engage each target with two rounds.

Once the gun is empty, they reload and fire two more rounds into each target. Shooters who score all shots on target in under 10 seconds have passed the drill. That’s a surprisingly generous par time, and this makes it rather easy. I’m surprised Jeff Cooper didn’t choose a tighter time.

Getting below seven seconds provides a more worthwhile goal. It’s more challenging and makes this page of Cooper’s drills more useful and practical.

Travis Pike doing rapid reload in El Presidente, a Jeff Cooper drill.
An El Pres calls for a rapid reload on the fly.

I also fire the drill from concealment. Concealed carry wasn’t a hugely popular thing in Jeff Cooper’s time. As such, the drill doesn’t force you to hide your piece. Adding a concealed carry garment makes the training more practical for the vast majority of us.

Shooters desiring a good challenge and a good time should give the ole El Presidente a try.

The Dozier Drill

In 1981 five Italian Communists kidnapped Brigadier General James Lee Dozier from his apartment in Verona, Italy. The kidnappers posed as plumbers, which leads me to believe they all looked like Super Mario. Anyway, they kidnapped him, held him for 42 days, and eventually, he was freed.

Dozier recounted the kidnapping and how one man pulled out an SMG from his tool bag and loaded it as another read some filthy commie statement. Dozier was prohibited from carrying a firearm at the time. In this Jeff Copper drill, you play Dozier, but you’re armed.

five targets, Dozier, Jeff Cooper drill
Now you have to face five Italian plumbers.

You’re facing five targets five to seven yards away. Cooper dictated they be steel poppers that fall when struck. However, that’s an expensive proposition. I think the A-Zone of an IPSC target works, as do Sage Dynamics free printable targets. Each target should be one yard apart or so. Start with the handgun in the low ready, and engage the five targets as fast as possible.

Add a Partner

Now, if you really want to kick it up a notch, have a partner behind the firing line going through the motions of retrieving a weapon from a bag, loading it, and making it ready. To keep things fair, use a toolbox or tool bag that closes.

Your goal is to shoot all the targets before your partner has the gun ready. Your partner represents the armed terrorist retrieving his weapon. This method of measuring time is a part of the original Dozier drill, but it often gets ignored these days. It creates a moving par time that’s never the same thing twice.

Travis Pike, modified Dozier drill
Make it tougher by taking a seat and starting from this position.

A friend and fellow Marine and I do this drill on occasion, and it often becomes quite competitive. It’s also a lot of fun with a buddy and motivates me to do better when I gotta beat someone else. To further alter the difficulty level, start with the handgun holstered or placed on a table in front of you. You can shoot each target once or use double taps, whatever floats your boat.

Jeff Cooper Drills

These drills will make a plain ole range day a bit more interesting. Now the big question is, are they out of date? They are admittedly not very difficult and can be done by most average shooters. With a little practice, anyone can do an El Presidente, but how many can do a Sage Dynamics Eleanor drill?

They aren’t necessarily useless as they do train valuable, defensively-minded drills. However, Jeff Cooper’s drills are a lot like his contributions to modern pistol craft. They act as building blocks and give shooters new skills they can build upon. Check ’em out, and let us know what you think below.

CategoriesSkills and Gunhandling

Three Steps To Develop Your Ability to Shoot Consistently Well

The ability to shoot consistently well is one of the most elusive and coveted goals of any defensive or competitive shooter. It provides both the technical advantage and skill-building platform upon which to further expand your shooting abilities. What steps can you take to consistently shoot well?

A common adage you often hear in the professional firearms training community is “First time is luck, second time chance, and third time is skill.” Traditional shooting standards such as the Bill Drill, the Wilson Five-by-Five, and the like, require the shooter to perform five or more consecutive repetitions Why? Because it demonstrates consistency in repeat shooting performance.

Bill Wilson, creator of the 5×5 drill, as a young, competition shooter. Photo credit: Wilson Combat.

The first step toward this coveted goal is to straight-up admit to yourself that you’re not yet at the skill level that you want to be. If you were, then you would be able to demonstrate it. Although that’s a jagged little pill to swallow, it is essential to find the motivation, discipline, and commitment required to reach that next level.

Only after you can hold yourself personally accountable (self-motivation, discipline, and commitment) may you then embark on that journey up the proverbial stairway to performance. Adopting this mindset, unleashing your motivation, engaging your discipline, and standing firmly in your commitment affords you the opportunity to pursue the lofty and worthy terminal objective of earning consistency.

Consistency in shooting well can be defined as “your ability to repeatedly perform at a known skill level.” In meeting the expectations of this definition, there are three steps that you can take to help develop your abilities to shoot consistently well: familiarity, comfort, and confidence.

1. Familiarity

The first stride on the road to repeatedly perform at a known skill level is to become intimately familiar with exactly what that level is. To find this line of demarcation is to differentiate between what works and what doesn’t work. Applying a correct shooting process is what works.

When you follow a shooting process such as “bring stability to alignment and break the shot without disturbing that alignment”, you find that it works every time. Completing each of the subprocesses within that process (minutiae) is what makes good hits and in acceptable times.

Should you take a mental approach such as ‘try to go fast’ or ‘try to be more accurate’ then you are trying and not shooting, something which is not recommended as part of your regular training regimen along with anything else that may pull you away from following the shooting process.

Clear your mind of all but the mental focus needed to stay in the shooting process. Know what works and what doesn’t work. 

train to shoot consistently well
Understand the shooting process, test the process, trust the process, and the more times you apply that same process without error, the greater your familiarity in applying what works.

2. Comfort

Once you have built this familiarization and can instinctively discern “right” from “wrong” — that is, doing what it takes to make that shot versus not doing what it takes to make that shot — you have established the yellow and white lines on the long and winding road toward comfort.

Why is comfort is such a critical step in the process? Under duress, you will default to your lowest level of comfort to ‘guarantee’ the shot.

In a defensive situation or in the heat of competition, you can’t afford to be reckless and push past your headlights so far that the wheels fall off your shooting process, and you crash. The converse is also true — you can’t be too conservative at the expense of time. The sweet spot is somewhere in between the boundaries of a guaranteed hit and the edge of your comfort zone.

The goal, of course, is to always step outside your comfort zone by pushing that envelop into uncharted ground. Forcing the wheels to fall off and learning from each mistake affords you access to uncharted territory. Once you have walked all over that new real estate you have moved that boundary marker a bit further, and in doing so have expanded your comfort zone.

Any shooter willing and able to put the work in needed to shoot well, must at some point also be willing to depart their comfort zone. 

Daniel Shaw, firearms training instructor
You can only step outside your comfort zone once you have set and identified its boundary markers.

3. Confidence

After identifying your comfort zone, it is strongly recommended by the best in the industry to push past your comfort zone. As per multiple world championship competition shooter Rob Leatham: “get comfortable being uncomfortable.”

Upon attaining the confidence of identifying the markers of your skill level, the very next step is to assert the resulting confidence as a tool to push past those markers in reaching for that next level. You can only accomplish this task after you have built the familiarity and in doing so have attained confidence at your prior skill level. Without setting the bedrock of confidence you are not afforded the foundation upon which to build your next level of performance.

The top shooters use confidence as a power tool to push beyond their comfort zone to move into, and become familiar with, that uncharted territory. Building confidence is a necessary and incremental step in moving away from shooting at lower skill levels and toward shooting well.

Becoming intimately familiar with the shooting process and its minutiae is a required step in expanding your comfort zone. 

Using an AK 47 in non standard positions on the range.
Once you have established that zone and the ensuing confidence it produces, then challenge yourself to push past those boundaries and shoot consistently well.

CategoriesSkills and Gunhandling

What is violence and how does it work?

There aren’t many people in the United States who could answer the question, What is violence? Not from a criminal violence/self-defense perspective. That is because they don’t viscerally grasp how violence works. This is true among even the better trained elements of our armed, responsible citizenry. It’s also true, albeit to a lesser extent, within the ranks of those who practice the noble profession of arms. 

That is not a criticism. It is an acknowledgment of a potentially uncomfortable, perfectly understandable, fact, and one we would all do well to recognize. 

What is violence?

We can debate semantics and interpretations, but violence in our context is much more than a clinical, definition of the word. And it’s not something that can be explained in one short news post on a website — which is, of course, why I’m recommending this book. 

Nice people fall to the manipulator.
The manipulator crumbles under the assertive.
The assertive shrinks before the aggressive.
The aggressive have no plan for the assaultive.
The assaultive are unprepared for the homicidal. (Marc MacYoung)

Mental preparation and training will help to mitigate this self-defense shortcoming, albeit only if we  recognize that it is a shortcoming. You can begin all of that with some reading and research. 

The Author’s Voice

Apropos to that, the book Violence of Mind (by Mag Life contributor Varg Freeborn is now available on Audible.

How far are you willing to go — and how do you know that the other guy will not be willing to go farther? 

Varg Freeborn

Varg Freeborn’s Violence of Mind is one of the first books, if not the first book, a new gun owner should read. In fact, anyone serious about protecting themselves or their family should read it, gun-owner or not.

That’s nice, many of you are thinking. So what? Why should I care?

Here’s why. 

Because Varg’s book is an excellent option to assist in that recognition-and-training effort. In fact, I would argue that,

  1.  It is one of the first two books a new gun-owner should consume (the other being Werner’s Serious Mistakes Gun Owners Make), and
  2. It should be, along with de Beckers Gift of Fear and Choose Adventure (or at least several chapters thereof) by Greg Ellifritz, one of the books that everyone should read.

Whether they go heeled or not. 

Streamlight products on GunMag Warehouse

If you pepper spray someone (assaultive), how do you know they will not turn around and shoot you (homicidal)?

You  don’t. And if you are willing to offend you better be willing to assault. If you are willing to assault, you better be willing to kill. 

If you are willing to kill, you better be 100% justified.

What are you willing to kill for again?  

Wait, you won’t kill over a spot in line, but you will assault over it? Then the other guy decides that he is willing to kill to stop your assault, and now YOU must kill or be killed. This is how violence works. 

Author’s Incarceration

The author of Violence of Mind explains his precepts from a very unique position. He grew up in a criminal environment, ultimately going to prison after being forced to stab a man repeatedly in a fight. Freeborn spent five years in a penitentiary before he was released and his rights restored. By existential necessity he spent the next five years studying predatory behavior — from within one of the most predacious human environments on the planet. 

This isn’t a CQB tutorial written by a former SOF operator. Nor is it a treatise on shooting skills by a retired police officer. There are many outstanding examples of such books out there, but Violence of Mind is a substantially different sort of work. That I’m aware of, there simply isn’t anything else like it in publication and for that reason should be a part of any serious attempt to study self-defense.

“The most efficient violence I have ever witnessed was the highly developed predatory system of violence inside of prisons. A majority of the most effective and efficient killers are inside of those walls.

[T]he truly violent predator has mastered doing it  with very little equipment and very simple methods. Those tools and methods are based on adhering to fundamental principles. The only two places that real violence can repeatedly be found is in war, and in the criminal culture (especially prisons).

Both are an unbroken lineage, and both are very different. What works in war does not so much apply to what works in  prison, or in a parking lot by yourself on a dark night.”

Listen up

The Violence of Mind audiobook is just shy of nine hours long. It’s narrated by the author and is Whispersync for voice ready. Although there is some repetition and occasional tautology (which the author is cleaning up in the next edition), there is more than enough information to offset that distraction. 

Remember the rule: stop looking for things and start looking at things. 

Violence of Mind is absolutely worth the read. Or of course the listen

OODA Loop Observation

Here’s something else to be aware of. Freeborn is in the final stages of finishing his second book. This one will focus on the second in OODA: the OODA Orient (i.e. the one for Orientation). If you’re a student of John Boyd’s seminal work, you’ll want to take a look at it once it’s available. 

Chet Richards, one of John Boyd's "acolytes", on Varg Freeborn's book.
Chet Richards, one of John Boyd’s “acolytes”, commenting on Varg Freeborn’s forthcoming book.

Orientation is the basis for mindset. Your response to violence will be based upon your orientation to the violent situation. Your conditioning and confidence level, your attachments in life,  your cultural beliefs (particularly about violence), and ultimately your real experience level, all make up your orientation.

Through these experiences and beliefs, you will make a series of decisions which will determine how  you will assess and respond to a violent encounter.  

Follow the Varg Freeborn author page for updates. 

Streamlight products at GunMag Warehouse

 

CategoriesSkills and Gunhandling

The Shotgun Red Dot — Why Your Scattergun Needs One

Who doesn’t love red dots? Aimpoint gave us the first modern red dot in 1975, and since then, they’ve gotten smaller, more powerful, and all the more capable. We’ve seen rifles and handguns benefit substantially from red dots, but what about shotguns? Lots of people seem to be resistant to optics on shotguns. I’m here to tell you today why you need a shotgun red dot.

Shotgun Red Dot — The Best of Both Worlds

I love shotguns of all types, from the latest tactical, mag-fed blaster to the old-school double barrel. In all my shotgunning, I’ve not found a shotgun that couldn’t be improved with a red dot. A good shotgun red dot offers you substantial improvements over a bead sight or ghost ring sights because it combines the best factors of both sighting styles. A shotgun gun red dot gives you the ease of use of a bead with the precision of ghost ring sights.

Holosun HS07C reticle

Speed, All The Speed

Red dot sights reduce the time it takes to get an accurate lead on target. That sentence alone should sell you on the shotgun red dot. Shotguns are close-quarter combat specialists, and speed matters in close quarter’s shooting. The faster you can get a load of buckshot on target, the better.

GIF shotgun red dot sight
Who doesn’t love dispensing lead this fast?

After a bit of force-on-force training, the first thing I learned was speed matters a ton in close quarter’s situations. A red dot eliminates the time required to align ghost ring sights and captures the eye faster than a bead sight.

Shotgun red dot sight
Can a shotgun’s recoil knock the zero off?

Red dots famously catch the eye very well. Even better than a bright gold bead. A shotgun red dot offers you an unparalleled level of speed. When I went from ghost ring sights to a red dot on my Benelli M4, I trimmed half a second off my snap drills. Speed isn’t everything, though, and if your shots aren’t landing, then it doesn’t matter how fast you are pulling the trigger.

Intuitive Shooting

With that in mind getting on target and putting buckshot where it matters is much easier when gazing through a red dot. With iron sights, you’re supposed to focus on the front sight; with a red dot, you look at the target. Focusing on the target is much more natural than focusing on a front sight when you are fighting for your life and when you are training with a little stress.

Benelli M4 shotgun red dot sight action shot
Speed, shotguns are all about speed, and so are red dots. A perfect pair.

A shotgun red dot allows you to look through the optic and focus on your target. Your shotgun red dot will be in your vision and allow you to see both your reticle and your target with ease. It’s more natural and easier to utilize than iron sights. It allows you to place buckshot with precision and speed.

Day or Night, the Dot Glows

A red dot gives you a sighting system that works 24 hours a day and in any lighting condition. If you utilize a shotgun red dot with shake awake or with a system that only sips at the battery, then you just leave it on. Bad things can happen 24 hours a day and having a sighting system that works both in low light and bright light is comforting. Hell, a good shotgun red dot can even work with night vision for you goons out there.

HS507C shotgun red dot
The HS507C packs a lot of optic for a little money. It also provides a lot of features I love on a shotgun red dot.

The Right Dot Does Wonders

I’ve taken to using Holosun red dots on my shotguns. Holosun has proven itself to be competent and making red dots that are durable, easy to use, and feature-filled. One feature I love is the multi-reticle system. I used the 32 MOA circle with my shotguns because I can pattern my buckshot inside of that reticle.

I know that with my chosen load of Federal Flitecontrol buckshot within 15 yards, not a single pellet will leave that circle. I know where every pellet will go, and I can guarantee with confidence that the pellets will hit where I need them to. This allows me to do things like take headshots with confidence.

Benelli M4 and Holosun 507C red dot sight
The perfect shotgun and the perfect optic.

Using a shotgun means understanding how it patterns. You are responsible for every pellet fired from your shotgun, so having this feature in a shotgun red dot allows you to shoot with supreme confidence inside your home. I know the longest shot in my house is only 12 yards, so my shotgun red dot, and ammo selection works perfectly together.

What Kind of Red Dot?

Obviously, you want a quality red dot. You do not want a shotgun red dot that costs 30 bucks on Amazon. It won’t hold up to serious use. Like with any serious optic, you need to consider the basics. Any shotgun red dot needs to be durable, well made, shock- and water-resistant.

Poorly made optics will often stutter and flutter when faced with the heavy recoil a shotgun generates. This results in the dot turning off due to poor battery connections, not to mention the recoil will beat it to hell and eventually break it.

two shotguns, each mounted with a red dot sight
Different strokes for different folks. Regardless of the shotgun, a red dot makes it better.

Shotguns don’t benefit from larger red dots. In fact, they can actually make handling a shotgun harder. Port reloads over the top are restricted when larger optics are in the way. Also, big red dots will get in the way of using side saddles and make it tough to pull rounds out the top.

Smaller dots often work better, and shotgun layouts traditionally favor low-mounted dots. The lower, the better in most cases with the way a traditional shotgun stock works. Shotgun red dots shouldn’t have AR height riser mounts unless they are AR-type shotguns like the VR 80 and Blackwater Sentry 12. On your traditional Mossberg, Benelli, or Remington, a low mount gives you a proper cheek weld.

Big Dots Work

Your pistol red dot and your shotgun red dot have a lot in common, which makes sense when you consider they are both close-quarters weapons. In the same vein, a larger reticle works better than a smaller reticle.

Blackwater Sentry shotgun with Sig Romeo-MSR red dot sight.
The Sig Romeo-MSR presents a budget option for shotgun shooters.

The smallest shotgun red dot reticle I’d suggest is 3 MOA. Honestly, bigger is better, and it’s not out of line to run with a 6 MOA dot or triangle-type reticle. The bigger the dot, the faster and easier it is to see. If it’s fast to see, it’s easy to shoot with. That’s another reason why I’m a fan of the Holosun 32 MOA reticle. It’s big but not obtrusive.

Seeing Red

Popping a red dot on your shotgun gives you the same advantages you get with both a rifle and handgun. It opens up the gun’s potential. You’ll find yourself getting 00 on target faster, with better accuracy, and even at longer ranges. Don’t sell the shotgun red dot short; it makes a bigger difference than you’d imagine.

House Cannons With Red Dots In Use

Some examples of other shotguns with a red dot can be found below. 

Beretta 1301 Tactical
Self-described “House Cannon” by Tom Marshall, a member of the editorial staff at RECOIL Magazine. Tom advises, “Re-jiggered the lighting setup on the house cannon. It’s not the smoothest lighting arrangement I’ve ever built but it seems to be working out so far…”
Beretta 1301 Tactical
This build features a Surefire 300 Scout light in an Arisaka Defense mount with tape switch (and also gaffer’s tape). Also Aridus Industries adapters for Magpul furniture, a CROM red dot mount, QD-C sidesaddle shell caddy, and a Nordic Components magazine extension kit.
Beretta 1301 Tactical
Additional furniture on this “shottie”: Taccom 3G match saver shell holder, Holosun 403C red dot sight, and Wright Armory 3-gun loading gate mod.

CategoriesSkills and Gunhandling

Zeroing a Red Dot Magnifier with Sage Dynamics

Red dot sights (RDS) are commonly used on handguns and rifles. They’re lightweight and versatile, helping you get accurate hits out to a certain distance. How far that distance is going to be depends on a lot of factors including skill level and the capabilities of the gun you’re using. So, how do you get a little more range out of your favorite RDS? You use a red dot magnifier.

Here to help you figure out how to zero your magnifier in a video tutorial is Aaron Cowan of Sage Dynamics.

Aaron Cowan of Sage Dynamics explains how to zero your red dot magnifier. (Photo Credit: Sage Dynamics)

Why a Red Dot Magnifier?

RDS magnifiers are useful because they make it possible to get accurate hits on target at longer distances. Different models have varying levels of magnification and, just like any optic, they are not all created equal. Some magnifiers have better clarity than others and some are tougher than others when they get banged against trees and barriers. And, as Aaron points out, using one helps you get good target identification.

When you choose your magnifier, do your homework first. Watch reviews by guys like Aaron who know what they’re talking about and really put gear through its paces. Decide exactly what you need the magnifier to do — hunting, competition, home defense — and choose the magnification level accordingly. Also, save up as long as necessary to be sure you get the right one for you.

What should you look for in a magnifier?

  • •Clarity
  • •Magnification level
  • •Durability
  • •Field of View
  • •Holds Zero
  • •Battery Life

Yes, Magnifiers Need to be Zeroed

Aaron Cowan explains briefly that yes, magnifiers do have to be zeroed: “Just like on an optic you’ve got windage and elevation knobs and they’re not there for decoration. You actually have to zero the magnifier after you’ve zeroed the optic. It’s not the end of the world, it’s not that big of a deal; depending on how specific you want to be, you can literally…”eyeball” it. The reason it has to be zeroed is it may not be perfectly in visual alignment…parallax with the optic itself, the optic body, and the red dot, which is, of course, what you’re looking for.”

close up of zeroing red dot magnifier
Yes, you have to zero the magnifier to make sure it lines up right with your red dot sight. (Photo Credit: Sage Dynamics)

Here’s the video tutorial.

 

A Word on Red Dot Sights

Your choice of RDS matters, too. The RDS you choose should be well-suited to its use and it needs to be up to whatever abuse you’re going to put it through. Also, make sure the size of the dot itself works for you (adjustable dots are great) and stop to consider the color. Just because we call them red dots doesn’t mean they don’t also come in green, and if you have astigmatism, green may work much better for you. And, of course, the RDS needs to work well with whatever magnifier you choose. They don’t have to be a perfect match, but they aren’t exactly one size fits all.

As with any piece of gear, do your homework and take your time choosing. When it comes time to zero your magnifier or learn other skills, check out Sage Dynamics‘ videos. Aaron Cowan is a wealth of information and a legit, skilled shooter.

CategoriesSkills and Gunhandling

183 – Beyond OODA: Varg Freeborn

In this week’s episode of the Mag Life Podcast, our esteemed co-host Varg Freeborn returns! This time around, Varg discusses the details of his newly released book, Beyond OODA: Developing the Orientation for Deception, Conflict, and Violence. In it, he presents a study of how the human mind reacts to and understands real-world violence. Together, Daniel and Varg unpack perception management, controlling one’s emotions and intentions, and self-orienting during violent encounters.

Host: Daniel Shaw

Guest (usual Co-Host!): Varg Freeborn

Introduction/Timeline: Eric Huh

Beyond OODA

00:26 Before you go out of the loop you have to understand it

In understanding the purpose of Varg’s latest book, one must understand what the OODA Loop even means. The “Observe, Orient, Decide, Act” concept was developed by military strategist Colonel John Boyd to help combatants process and make decisions on the battlefield. Since then, this thought method has been applied to everyday situations, especially in regards to reacting to sudden violence.

Varg’s Beyond the OODA focuses on the second “O” of the OODA Loop concept, specifically how the orientation phase relates to reacting and understanding real-world violence. Daniel speaks upon his experience as a training instructor and how this concept is widely misunderstood in the self-defense world.

“The ‘orientation’ is the foundation for all the other parts. So everything grows out of the orientation. The ‘observation’ feeds the ‘orientation’ but the ‘orientation’ colors what the observer is seeing and that then influences the ‘decision’ part.”

 

                          The OODA Loop is about processing information before making an action. Varg Freeborn emphasizes the orientation of that information.

Both Daniel and Varg believe that Boyd’s concepts, particularly the orientation process, should emphasize more of what’s already present or commonly known. In essence, the orientation process is taking on an individual’s previously held belief systems, traditions, behaviors, and attitudes to then make decisions off of. This holds true in an almost universal context, whether it is a business negotiation, a romantic relationship, driving in traffic, or in a fight.

06:46 How life experiences orient life decisions

Daniel draws upon real-world examples of how one’s upbringing and life experiences have influenced or otherwise oriented future decisions. At around the same time, Varg was entering the prison system as an inmate, Daniel was stepping on the yellow footprints at Parris Island to enter the United States Marine Corps Recruit Training. It was by the indoctrination, combat experience, comradery, and cultural traditions from the Marine Corps that Daniel developed his own value system that to this day he uses to navigate through his life.

Varg explains that while Daniel’s experience may indeed be unique from the vast majority of the population, the formula of how people think and gain experiences that eventually influence their decisions is the same. It is a false conclusion to assume that others do not think as you do. Daniel agrees, bringing up the common saying from firearm trainers that “Bad guys don’t think like you and me, they don’t make decisions like you and me” is in fact not true. Those who wish to do others harm do in fact use the same decision-making processes as the rest of us, criminals and evildoers are not inherently any less or more capable than the rest of society.

Varg further adds that the old warrior saying “To know your enemy is to know yourself” remains true. All cognitively capable human beings are capable of observing, making decisions, and choosing their actions. As such, Varg argues we operate under the same formula, adding that humans share the same weaknesses and aspects that can be exploited. That is why one of the most detrimental factors when entering any situation is uncertainty.

“If you’re going into a fight, the more uncertain you are about your own actions… [and] the outcomes of your own actions that you’re trying to predict, the less effective you’re going to be, the less committed you’re going to be… So you understand that about yourself, now you understand that about your enemy. You can say ‘if I can disrupt his confidence level or if I can disrupt his plan enough that he doesn’t feel like he can confidently predict the outcome of his plans anymore, then I have effectively begun to turn that fight in his mind.”

                         Participating in violence without an understanding of your own capabilities or the capabilities of others is asking for a fatal outcome.

16:30 Deception and perception management

Daniel builds off of Varg’s idea of knowing oneself as he brings up the notion of “true” concealment. This concept goes beyond simply just properly concealing a firearm on your person but the ability to conceal your intentions, knowledge, and the act of gathering information. Daniel argues that this ability to conceal actions is not possible without a firm understanding of the orientation piece of the OODA Loop.

 

Beyond-OODA_Varg-Freeborn         “Concealing” in a defensive setting goes far beyond simply hiding a gun with your shirt.

It is comparable to a Jujutsu match in which one combatant attempts one form of submission or tries to go a more advantageous position, the other combatant will react accordingly with his preconceived idea on how to counter. Varg agrees, adding that somewhat experienced Jujutsu practitioners will recognize an attack and immediately counter whereas the experienced black belts will allow an attack to unfold to trick their opponents into further compromising themselves. An experienced fighter will effectively conceal their intentions and manage their opponent’s perception of the fight in order to achieve victory in the least amount of effort.

“If you’re the type of person that doesn’t have self-control or you’re not acclimated to working at that level of stress, the likelihood of you being able to manage someone’s perceptions is very much lower because you aren’t in control of yourself so you can’t control what you’re projecting out into the atmosphere”

 

20:38 Beyond OODA: a deeper dive into the human psyche

Daniel expresses his high praise of Varg’s book and how it presents a comprehensive understanding of human behavior and mentality in relation to violence. Varg does not simply present anecdotal evidence for the sake of telling a story but supports each personal account with scholarly studies and subject matter experts.

Nowhere in Daniel’s extensive experience in the firearms or defense world has he found such a cohesive breakdown of the human condition during life or death situations. Varg asserts he does not ever try to “sell” anyone anything, that his book, Beyond the OODA, was created at the request of many who found value in his multifaceted experiences within the criminal world, prison system, and self-defense training.

27:54 Being honest with oneself, perception management outside of conflict

Varg makes the observation that so many today refuse to be honest with who they really are or the image they project, especially during the advent of social media. It has become socially accepted to be fake. Almost every piece of personal information put out into the world is now a specially curated piece of content meant to present a desired image, not an image as it truly is. Varg warns that there are consequences for constantly telling the public about your desires, beliefs, biases, and the like because this will be built into your own story. This self-projected part of yourself that is now made public can then be manipulated by others.

“When you can clearly determine the story that someone is telling themselves about.. who they want you to think they are, you literally gain the keys to their emotions and their actions… You get the keys to all of those locks.”

 

Out of the loop: Orientation is the foundation of mindset

 

32:22 What is the most important piece of information in the book?

Daniel asks Varg, what part of the book does he believe to be most important and most needed in regards to our current society. In the book itself, it is broken down into 3 main parts: origins, operating inward and operating outward. As discussed before, Varg feels individuals must first honestly understand and express how they operate inwards before they project outward into the world. He warns against excessively or incorrectly operating inwards or focusing too much on internal struggles that nothing is allowed to come out.

If you find yourself in a fight, hyper concerning yourself with what you’re afraid of may happen will prevent you from actually imposing any form of outward attack or defense of your own. This applies to everyday life as well, an individual is not truly living their life if they’re unable to impart any change into the world at all. As such, operating inwards in a healthy, productive manner is essential to understanding your place in the world. It creates the foundation to then influence the actions of others or to navigate the world without harm.

                      There is no guarantee in a violent encounter, but you can better prepare for it with the right analytical mindset.

35:32 Who is the audience of this book?

Daniel asks what the target audience of Beyond OODA is. Varg explains that unlike his last book, Violence of Mind, this book is not specifically targeted at the firearms community. This book is meant for the general population, anyone who works in education, law enforcement, military, criminal psychology, and just everyday citizens. Varg notes that his book is also meant for anyone who is unaware of how manipulation and deception occur every day in their lives.

 

36:50 Deception in everyday negotiations

Varg adds that the act of deception is not necessarily bad or detrimental. Part of understanding yourself and others around you is how you manage what you choose to reveal in order to attain a more beneficial end. That is essentially what daily forms of negotiation are.

Varg gives the example of haggling for a good deal when buying a used car from the lot. If one jumps up for joy the second they see a car after hearing the initial price tag, the dealer has already won the exchange and there will be no opportunity to ask for a lower price. However, if the buyer chooses to be more reserved in their emotions and start pointing out flaws in the vehicle before discussing purchasing, the chance of acquiring said vehicle at a lower price is more likely.

Daniel draws a comparison to how Varg’s book is very similar to a world-famous FBI hostage negotiation book, Never Split the Difference, in that both apply concepts of deception management and how to impose this upon others. The major difference is that Varg applies this to real-world violence and survival.

Daniel gives further praise to Beyond the OODA, that he promises viewers if they are not satisfied with the purchase of the book, they are welcome to email him and ask for a refund.

 

• Next up: Get the lowdown on all four letters of the loop

 

To purchase Varg Freeborn’s latest book, Beyond OODA: Developing the Orientation for Deception, Conflict, and Violence: https://beyondooda.com/.

Follow Varg on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/vargfreeborn.

 

More about OODA 

Article/Show notes by Eric Huh

CategoriesSkills and Gunhandling

Guns of Tomorrow War – Gun Guy At The Movies

The Tomorrow War, like many 2020/2021 movies, was meant to go to movie theatres but was forced to stream by COVID 19. Amazon picked the flick up, and the film premiered July 2nd, 2021 and has properly started the summer popcorn movie season. As you can expect from a sci-fi action flick, there are a wide array of firearms involved. In this article we’ll be looking at the guns of Tomorrow War. 

The film has a pretty solid premise. Chris Pratt plays Dan, a former ‘Special Ops’ soldier who led ‘combat missions in Iraq’. He’s now a high school teacher and family man with a smart daughter and a lovely wife. In the midst of the world cup, a group of time travelers from the year 2051 pop onto the field.

They are there to inform the people of 2022 that in 2051 humanity is losing a war to a species of aliens. They’ve come back because they need fighting forces to aid in the fight to prevent humanity’s extinction. Thus the Tomorrow War starts.

If you don’t want spoilers, I recommend tuning out now. There are two things I can’t do: I can’t speak without cursing, and I can’t review a movie without spoiling it.

 

The Tomorrow War Moves Fast

I do appreciate that the movie cruises past the first act and dives headfirst into the action. It moves at a decent speed, and we see details of the civilian draft. After Dan gets his draft notice, he goes to his estranged shady criminal type father, played by a ripped and awesome J.K. Simmons, to get out of it. J.K. Simmons, by the way, also wields a Desert Eagle 50 caliber pistol, name-checked by Dan.

The 50-cal Desert Eagle is just one of the numerous guns (using a “ton of ammunition“) used in The Tomorrow War. The movie was originally made by Paramount Pictures, who later sold the film to Amazon Prime Video. 

After some tense family drama, Dan calls him a coward, has self-realization, and decides he’s gonna go fight. He visits his family, and he grabs what appears to be a railed 1911 with a Surefire X300U before he goes.

He reports to basic training (or something like it), then we found out a tour of duty is seven days. If he’s still alive on day 7, he’ll be shot back to the past.

Like any time travel movie, the Tomorrow War explains the mechanics of time travel but doesn’t get too deep in the weeds on it. The explanation works, and though I’m sure it wouldn’t stand up to scrutiny, it does establish the movie’s rules.

Real Avid Gun Tools

Guns of the Tomorrow War

Our First Glance

Here we also see our first glance at the future rifles of the Tomorrow War. They are short-barreled, fully automatic AR-type rifles fitted with Hera CQR stocks and foregrips. These things made a splash a few years back for their futuristic stylings.

CQR Hera Arms
CQR Hera Arms makes a futuristic looking AR platform rifle.

In no time at all, and with no real training to speak of, Dan’s group of mostly civilians is transported to the future. Everyone gets their issue of Hera CQR equipped rifles and a whole loadout of PMAGs — except of course for badass Tomorrow War veteran Dorian.

He carries a slick Beretta 1301 tricked out with Aridus gear for his third tour alongside a souvenir spike from what was reportedly the first whitepsike killed.

After a disastrous landing, we get a better look at the guns and gear. The Hera CQR rifles are equipped with ACOGS and Inforce lights as well as offset red dot sights. In 2051 this gear makes little sense.

Heck, in 2021, it doesn’t make much sense.

They establish that precision shots to the belly or neck are required to kill the bad guys in one of the very short training scenes. Why use an ACOG over an LPVO? Also, Inforce lights are not superbly powerful compared to modern options like the Cloud Defensive Rein, and heck, if they want a 12 0’clock light go with the OWL.

Among the many guns of The Tomorrow War are a Beretta 1301, several Hera CQR rifles, Aridus gear, and more.
Among the many long guns of The Tomorrow War are a Beretta 1301 and several Hera CQR rifles, most equipped with Aridus accessories, Magpul furniture, Inforce weapon mounted lights, and other tactical goodness

On the other hand, Dorian’s 1301 is a very modern fighting shotgun. It still wears an Inforce light but rocks Aridus Industries upgrades in the form of the Magpul Zhukov handguard adapter and Magpul SGA adapter and what could possibly be the Crom mount for the Aimpoint T-2 he’s using. Dorian even rocks some shotgun shell caddies for the three-gun world for his reloads.

 

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White spikes

Once the poop hits the fan, we get treated to one of the best creature reveals I’ve ever seen. The first time you see a white spike in the light of an Inforce, it’s a creepy experience. Prior to that, we knew what they were called, but not much more.

Most of Dan and Dorian’s force is quickly slaughtered by White Spikes. We see Dan and Dorian team up to use his 1301 to great effect, but in general, their rifles are mostly useless. It’s quite clear they need different, more powerful rifles to deal with this threat.

Their 5.56 peashooters have the same effect as a spitball on the monsters unless they hit them in the neck or belly.

Warning: If you want any form of realistic action, then this movie doesn’t pack it.

Sure, Pratt and Dorian aim their guns, and most of the untrained civilians blind fire erratically. Pratt moves well with a gun and looks comfortable with it. Beyond that, there are no squad tactics, fire discipline, or real common-sense decisions. In a scene where they are trying to be stealthy, they shine their Inforce lights around with zero light discipline.

Just get an LPVO

They fight an enemy that requires precise shots to be taken but constantly just spray full auto fire at them. Also, like a 1980s action flick, there isn’t a single reload. From here, Dan and what’s left of his team are rescued, and they go to the Dominican Republic. There Dan meets — the big reveal! — his daughter from the future.

Boom, we’re hit with family drama!

Anywho, beyond that, Dan has been brought by his colonel daughter to help her solve the White Spike issue forever. She needs his help to secure a Queen White Spike and develop a toxin that will kill it and other females.

He gets geared up in Multicam black, an actual plate carrier, and another Hera CQR rifle.

 

Sentry brand Battle Belts

Breaching the Sphincter

aka WTF with the 50 Cal?

They fly out in helicopters to the queen’s lair and start their mission. The queen’s lair is a hole in the ground that looks like a butthole: in fact, it looks like one sphincter lined up with a whole bunch of other sphincters. 

Periodically one of the shooters in a helo will drop a line and zip down to join the soldiers trying to capture the queen…presumably to ensure there enough bodies there for her to mangle and destroy, but not quite enough to subdue her. 

Muri takes charge. While she brought him to help, she — the commander of the operation, and as we soon learn the critical White Spike researcher — tells him to stay in the helicopter while she personally fast-ropes down through the target sphincter into the queen’s lair.

There she essentially goes to fisticuffs with the alien, then gets mad later because he left the helicopter to save her and help secure the queen.

So why did she bring him?

Here is where we find out that the most efficient weapon to fight White Spikes in The Tomorrow War is the same gun that’s turned the enemies of America into pink goo for well over a century: the M2 50 caliber machine gun.

Add that in with suitable plot armor and we quickly see Dan and his daughter massacring White Spikes while they flee from the hive.

But…if this gun works so well, why the hell wouldn’t you bring all of them from the past to the future?

Use them for every operation you embark on. It shreds these critters to pieces!

Guns of Tomorrow War
Though the handling of the guns of Tomorrow War leaves something to be desired, there’s no doubt they put some effort into selecting some good lookin’ ones.

From there, they go to a lab, and we see science stuff, MRE jokes, more family drama, and finally, success. Dan’s daughter succeeds and has developed the toxin. Of course, now the heavily sedated queen awakens, and the research facility becomes swarmed by endless male white spikes.

That gives us the opportunity to see some Phalanx CWIS miniguns lighting em up, rampaging helicopters, talking 50 cals, and more. It’s a fun scene.

The Colonel wants Dan to take the toxin to the past and use it to prevent the Tomorrow War from ever happening. He doesn’t want to leave her, drama ensues, they lose the facility, and right before Dan dies, his timer runs out, and he’s transported back to the past, toxin in hand.

A Frustrating Turn

Here’s where I get frustrated with the plot. He tells one person he has the toxin, and he needs to go back and kill the beasts in the future. The time machine is destroyed, and he can’t. No one seems to care that he has a toxin that can stop the event from ever happening. Why governments would instantly begin mass-producing the toxin for deployment for when the aliens arrive is beyond me.

But maybe that shouldn’t be a frustration. What the government does in real life is often beyond me.

Anyway, he goes home, and family reunification occurs. He and his wife figure out that the aliens, who supposedly land in Russia in the future, never landed at all. They were already there. A joke about a volcano-obsessed student pays off, and it turns out Global Warming melting the ice caps is what freed these frozen creatures.

It Continues

Enter J.K. Simmons

How do you get to Russia when global communities are falling apart? Well, you need a criminal with a plane. What criminal do we know? Dan’s dad, of course! The old man agrees to fly Dan, his funny sidekick, Dorian, and some of the soldiers from the future trapped in the past.

Now our troops are armed with more traditional M4s fitted with red dots, PEQ 15s, and lights I couldn’t identify. J.K. Simmons arms himself with a scoped AR 10. We also see a Glock in a single scene.

Everything goes wrong, and the final fight scene begins. Dorian goes out like a gangster, and Dan, his Dad, and funny sidekick are left. J.K. Simmon’s AR 10 proves that 308 would be the better choice for killing white spikes than AR 15s and M4s. His more powerful rifle has a more notable effect.

We also see Chekhov’s gun in full effect as J.K. Simmons wields that chrome 50 caliber Desert Eagle efficiently against the monsters.

A final battle with the final queen has the movie reaching Fast and Furious levels of ridiculous (which, in the context of the flick, is not a Bad Thing). In the end, Chris Pratt’s in a nice fight with the queen.

Good guys win, go home, Dan and Dad are bros, and everyone lives happily ever after.

Cloud Defensive on GunMag Warehouse

The Bottom Line

The Tomorrow War is a fun summer flick. It has an original plot but lives on tropes. I will say the twist at the end was a good one that opened up more questions about the universe they live in. It has a sudden, satisfying turn that keeps the main plot from being predictable (unlike the emotional ploys, which are all too much so).

The Tomorrow War doesn’t deliver well on firearms or tactics. Outside of the Beretta 1301, none of the guns of Tomorrow War stick out as cool to me as a gun guy. No impressive gun handling or tactics applied, no light discipline, and nary a reload in sight. If you’re okay with that, though, and don’t mind turning your cerebral tacticalortex off, it’s a fun flick.

Read more about The Tomorrow War on the Internet Movie Data Base

CategoriesSkills and Gunhandling

Jeff Cooper’s Drills – Old School Cool and Relevant?

Jeff Cooper has been described as the “father of modern handgun shooting”. His influence pushed shooting forward, and his contributions to modern handgun handling deserve notation. Over time we may have evolved, and tactics, techniques, and firearms change, but the way we see shooting in 2021 was built on the blocks of Jeff Cooper’s contributions. Today we are going to look at three of his drills.

These are part of a larger martial art called Combat Pistol Shooting which got its start in the early 1900s. It combines works from Cooper’s Modern Technique as well as contributions from Captain William E. Fairbairn and Sergeant Eric A. Sykes and their time in Shanghai as well as Rex Applegate, Jack Weaver, and many more. These drills were based on actual events, and Jeff Cooper applied what someone could theoretically do should they be armed with a pistol.

Mozambique / Failure To Stop Drill

You might argue this isn’t technically one of Jeff Cooper’s drills, but I’d argue it is. A mercenary named Mike Rousseau was fighting in the Mozambique War of Independence. During a particularly harrowing fight at an airport, he turned a corner and came face to face with an enemy armed with an AK 47. Rousseau engaged with his Browning Hi-Power and fired two rounds into the guy’s chest.

Jeff Cooper drill, Mozambique
The Mozambique drill only requires a chest and head target.

The man didn’t go down, and he continued to advance. As such, Mike fired a final shot to his head. He recounted this story to Jeff Cooper, and Cooper added the Mozambique drill to his drills folder. You surely recognize this as the classic two to the chest and one to the head.

It’s a very simple drill, and you’ve likely already figured the core of the drill out. Shooters face the target, and on the signal, they fire a double tap or hammer pair to the chest of the target. From here, they take a well-aimed shot at the head of the target. Headshots should be focused on the T zone of the target. This is the entire that ranges from eye to eye and down the bridge of the nose to the upper lip.

Travis Pike demonstrating Jeff Cooper drill, Mozambique.
Two to the chest and one to the head wins hearts and minds.

The drill is modular and can be fired at nearly any range with either a rifle or pistol. Shooters can start holstered or in the low ready, and a timer can institute extra stress. It’s a great drill that allows shooters to continually increase the difficulty of the drill as their skills increase. The Marine Corps still uses this drill, and they label it the Failure to Stop Drill.

The El Presidente

Undoubtedly as far as Jeff Cooper drills go, this is the most famous. The El Presidente drill came from a 1970s issue of American Handgunner. While training a South American security force, Cooper designed the drill to test shooters and gauge their skills.

The drill is simple. You’ll need three man-sized targets spaced a yard apart from each other. Shooters will stand 10 yards from the target. From here, they will face away from the targets, with their hands in a surrender position with their firearm holstered.

jeff cooper drill, El Presidente, three targets
The El Presidente Calls for three bad guys

You’ll need a firearm loaded with six rounds, and a magazine or speed loader also loaded with six rounds. A shot timer should also be present with a par time set to 10 seconds. On the beep, shooters turn, draw and engage each target with two rounds.

Once the gun is empty, they reload and fire two more rounds into each target. Shooters who score all shots on target in under 10 seconds have passed the drill. That’s a surprisingly generous par time, and this makes it rather easy. I’m surprised Jeff Cooper didn’t choose a tighter time.

Getting below seven seconds provides a more worthwhile goal. It’s more challenging and makes this page of Cooper’s drills more useful and practical.

Travis Pike doing rapid reload in El Presidente, a Jeff Cooper drill.
An El Pres calls for a rapid reload on the fly.

I also fire the drill from concealment. Concealed carry wasn’t a hugely popular thing in Jeff Cooper’s time. As such, the drill doesn’t force you to hide your piece. Adding a concealed carry garment makes the training more practical for the vast majority of us.

Shooters desiring a good challenge and a good time should give the ole El Presidente a try.

The Dozier Drill

In 1981 five Italian Communists kidnapped Brigadier General James Lee Dozier from his apartment in Verona, Italy. The kidnappers posed as plumbers, which leads me to believe they all looked like Super Mario. Anyway, they kidnapped him, held him for 42 days, and eventually, he was freed.

Dozier recounted the kidnapping and how one man pulled out an SMG from his tool bag and loaded it as another read some filthy commie statement. Dozier was prohibited from carrying a firearm at the time. In this Jeff Copper drill, you play Dozier, but you’re armed.

five targets, Dozier, Jeff Cooper drill
Now you have to face five Italian plumbers.

You’re facing five targets five to seven yards away. Cooper dictated they be steel poppers that fall when struck. However, that’s an expensive proposition. I think the A-Zone of an IPSC target works, as do Sage Dynamics free printable targets. Each target should be one yard apart or so. Start with the handgun in the low ready, and engage the five targets as fast as possible.

Add a Partner

Now, if you really want to kick it up a notch, have a partner behind the firing line going through the motions of retrieving a weapon from a bag, loading it, and making it ready. To keep things fair, use a toolbox or tool bag that closes.

Your goal is to shoot all the targets before your partner has the gun ready. Your partner represents the armed terrorist retrieving his weapon. This method of measuring time is a part of the original Dozier drill, but it often gets ignored these days. It creates a moving par time that’s never the same thing twice.

Travis Pike, modified Dozier drill
Make it tougher by taking a seat and starting from this position.

A friend and fellow Marine and I do this drill on occasion, and it often becomes quite competitive. It’s also a lot of fun with a buddy and motivates me to do better when I gotta beat someone else. To further alter the difficulty level, start with the handgun holstered or placed on a table in front of you. You can shoot each target once or use double taps, whatever floats your boat.

Jeff Cooper Drills

These drills will make a plain ole range day a bit more interesting. Now the big question is, are they out of date? They are admittedly not very difficult and can be done by most average shooters. With a little practice, anyone can do an El Presidente, but how many can do a Sage Dynamics Eleanor drill?

They aren’t necessarily useless as they do train valuable, defensively-minded drills. However, Jeff Cooper’s drills are a lot like his contributions to modern pistol craft. They act as building blocks and give shooters new skills they can build upon. Check ’em out, and let us know what you think below.

 

 

 

 

CategoriesSkills and Gunhandling

187 — Ed Calderon | Things Most People Don’t Know

In this episode of The Mag Life Podcast, Daniel visits with Ed Calderon, a former Mexican police agent with extensive experience and understanding of border control issues, drug cartels, and the complexities that exist between the US and Mexico.

Born in Tijuana, Mexico in the 80s, Ed decided to go into police work when he was 21. For over a decade he worked in counter-narcotics, investigation of organized crime, executive protection, and public safety along the northern border of Mexico. Later, he came to the US and is now recognized as one of the world’s most preeminent researchers and personal security trainers, offering security consulting, seminars, and private training in anti-abduction, escape and evasion, unarmed combat, unconventional edged-weapon work, and region-specific executive protection.

Together, Daniel and Ed discuss complex issues about the escalation of the Mexican Drug War, foreign gun-running, US intervention, issues of governance and firearms ownership in Mexico (and the parallels in the US), human trafficking, and more.

Host: Daniel Shaw

Guest: Ed Calderon

Introduction/Timeline: Eric Huh


 

Ed Calderon is recognized as one of the world’s preeminent researchers and trainers in the field of personal security.

02:22 Imparting Valuable Skills to Others

Daniel inquiries about the life-saving skills Ed learned on the job while he was active in Latin America and Mexico. Ed’s extensive background in counter-narcotics work has covered escape and evasion—namely, how to:

• escape from handcuffs,
• manufacture tools for survival,
• be armed in non-permissive environments,
• look for early warning signs of an ambush in an urban setting, and
• understand the social norms in Mexico.

He has brought his in-depth, hands-on experience in the undercover narcotics world to other law enforcement agencies in the United States (FBI, Secret Service, among others) so that they may be better equipped for threats across the border.

06:05 What scares you?

Daniel asks Ed what genuinely scares him. Ed replies that his one fear is to not live without a purpose. Having faced a great many near-death experiences, Ed has become numb to the idea of physical danger. Rather, it is the concept of having gone through what he did and not being able to bring meaning to his experiences.

“You know, people think ‘Hey aren’t you afraid of the cartels coming after you and shit like that?’ If I was I wouldn’t have gone into this line of work when I was 21. So that specific thing doesn’t really… make me lose sleep. What does make me lose sleep is having gone through that whole experience and not making it worth it. Or not giving it some sort of purpose.”

Ed Calderon, counter custody expert.
Ed Calderon, counter custody expert.

07:22 What should scare the American public?

Daniel flips the question: “Based on everything you know… what should WE be scared about?”

Ed feels that American public scrutiny immensely neglects the sheer amount of Chinese government influence with Mexican drug cartels, and how their activities are increasingly becoming a threat to national security. He cites that the Chinese have a direct hand in fentanyl supply to cartels, a strong influence in major American industries. He further adds that this is occurring with full knowledge of the Communist Party in China.

The Jalisco New Generation Cartel (Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación or CJNG) actually managed to grow in size and in influence during the COVID epidemic when all other organizations and institutions halted, due to being able to receive fentanyl shipments. They were able to do so because they had supreme control of the ports that faced the Pacific Ocean. Meanwhile, the Sinaloa Cartel has been smuggling fentanyl from the US, processing this into their product, then smuggling it to be sold into the US. In essence, there has been an ongoing drug proxy war across the US and Mexico.

Ed further emphasizes the sheer amount of influence the Chinese government and their companies have within US media and industry. Disney/Marvel and many entertainment conglomerates are basically barred from openly criticizing China. NBA players receive consequences for speaking out about China. Trade relations suffer if companies recognize Taiwan as a country. Daniel makes the same observation, adding that in his experience briefly being part of the film industry, he has noticed movie studios will continually push out sequels to old franchises because it simply caters to the one Chinese market. While perhaps only a few care about a repetitive franchise, this caters to billions in China. Ed concludes that “We are losing the culture war.”

11:45 China’s Actions and the Worsening State in the Mexican Drug War

Ed delves deeper into the issue of China’s actions in the Mexican drug war, specifically how they supply and finance cartels. Criminal enterprises have, in fact, used Chinese banking apps to launder this money. Profits made in the US can be transferred using the apps, then an overseas Chinese fixer sends the funds into their country’s banking apparatus. Later, the funds get sent to Mexico. Legally speaking, the US cannot do anything about it—further cementing that they are losing the economic war.

As a result, there are effectively two major cartel superpowers fighting for power in Mexico: the Sinaloa and the CJNG. Their capabilities and spheres of influence are staggering. Very recently the Sinaloa Cartel essentially defeated the Mexican military, with the ability to put up no-fly zones across the country. The largest lithium deposits in the world are found in northern Mexico, and they have become highly sought after by the cartels. A couple of years ago, headlines hit that Mexican-American Mormons were massacred by cartel enforcers, it was at this very location where the murders occurred. Ed also points out that a Canadian mining company that was operating in the lithium mines was later bought up by a Chinese company.

On the whole, the Chinese-Mexican cartel relations have already created noticeable shifts in the country. Strange rises of bogus pain medication and pills laced with fentanyl are hitting the Mexican pharmaceutical market. In addition, there is a large trend of Norinco firearms and drones from China in the hands of cartel soldiers. For those who have been monitoring the situation, the dynamics of the current drug war have been frightening.

17:46 Foreign Gun-Running in Mexico

Ed recalls personally finding countless foreign firearms in the stashed weapon caches of cartel members—recognizing a few from the now infamous Operation Fast and Furious. For those unaware, that operation was part of a “gun-walking” sting in which the ATF allowed firearms to be sold to illegal straw buyers in hopes of tracking the guns to Mexican criminal elements. In effect, it caused the deaths of many Mexican nationals as well as American federal agents, the most notable of which was US Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.

Both Daniel and Ed agree that the operation was a disaster. Ed tells of an incident in which a law enforcement agent and his family were attacked while driving in Mexico. Sicarios ambushed the family and used FN Five-Seven pistols to murder the agent, his wife, and crippled the daughter. These very FN Five-Sevens were directly sold by US-based weapons dealers during Operation Fast and Furious.

“[Mexican federal agents] are the people that never get called or named, no cameras are ever placed on them, nobody’s telling their story… These are the guys fighting off people with AK47s and AR15s with a Colt M4 in semi auto that has two magazines to it and a soft second-chance body armor set up. You know? Cuz we were poor as ****, we were just [using] what we had.”

Ed explains that gun-running in Mexico today is no longer just coming from the US, but from all over the world. Countries in Africa, the Middle East, and South America have all had a part to play in smuggling firearms into the hands of cartel members. Ed asserts that Mexico has been the cradle of innovation since the inception of the drug war. Today, cartels are weaponizing civilian drones with explosive devices, using mobile mortar vans, and utilizing IEDs against law enforcement and military personnel.

Much of this creativity is the result of enduring poverty and lack of resources, making innovation a necessity. In addition, there is very little regulation being enforced in the majority of the country.

24:07 Should the US intervene in Mexico?

Daniel asks Ed what he anticipates will unfold in Mexico in the near future. Ed believes that within his lifetime, the US will force a military intervention as the drug war becomes more and more uncontrollable. And while this may be the most likely scenario, Ed does not necessarily believe it is the best course of action. Historically, the United States has had a terrible track record in producing positive outcomes from direct foreign intervention as made evident by the Vietnam War and the War on Terror in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Additionally, Ed raises the question for Americans, what would happen if, hypothetically, we were able to wholesale eliminate the flow of drugs between Mexico and the US? A healthcare crisis of monumental proportions would occur, one that would make the COVID epidemic pale in comparison. Ed also stresses that the cartel problem is not just a Mexican problem, it is actively a US problem. There are multiple cartel organizations that make a living within the US alone, with direct ties to our domestic drug trade. The drug war is multi-layered and interconnected, ensuring Mexico and the US must deal with the fallout of each other’s actions.

As far as what can be done immediately, Ed believes the US Border Patrol needs more personnel numbers and funding to directly combat the transfer of people and products across the border. Much controversy has surrounded former President Trump’s initiation of a border wall being built but according to experts like Ed, this will only barely slow down the cartel’s operations.

“There are ‘shock groups’… [They] are operational, 80 strong, even more sometimes… of just convoys of homemade armored vehicles, full auto rifles, 50 Cals, dudes kitted up head to toe with Wi-Fi cell phone disruptors… That is not happening across the ocean… that is happening a five minute walk from the border in places like Mexicali.”

Ed Calderon looking over the busiest border crossing.
Ed Calderon looking over the world’s busiest border crossing between San Diego and Tijuana. (Image source: Offgrid Web)

33:06 Are Islamic extremists coming over the border with cartel assistance?

Daniel dives deeper into the smuggling operations done by Mexican cartels, specifically if they have been playing an active part in transporting Islamic extremists into the US. Ed explains this has been occurring more recently due to the fact these extremists are able to simply hide in the mass of bodies being smuggled across the border within caravans. Traditionally, cartels have not and do not want to be associated with Islamic extremists due to the fact that it would bring much unwanted attention to themselves. However, the dynamic is changing. As a new younger generation of Mexicans takes up leadership roles within cartel groups, they do not share the same level of restraint as their predecessors.

35:11 Should Mexican drug cartels be labeled as terrorists?

Ed speaks about the concern and the repercussions of labeling cartels as terrorists. Even during the height of the Trump administration, they stayed clear from taking such action as it would have severe consequences of its own in relation to immigration.

But ultimately do they meet the definition of a terrorist organization?

Their actions would seem to meet that label. Cartels have Instagram live-streamed themselves executing political candidates of rival cartel organizations. The president of Mexico has shaken hands with El Chapo’s lawyer and even made a personal effort to visit the hometown of El Chapo in order to greet his mother. The cartels can even be considered as a transnational organization. Sinaloa Cartel members have been arrested in Australia, Indonesia, and some countries in Africa. Ed believes cartels to be more transnational than Al-Qaeda.

Cartels have also exhibited cult-like behavior. Some groups practice cannibalism as a show of strength, intimidation, and as part of their initiation process. They will film themselves eating still-beating hearts and post these videos online to spread fear. Certain leaders of cartels are considered to be holy deities and raise young men to believe as such. Much of what the American public commonly associates with Islamic terrorist organizations can also be widely attributed to Mexican drug cartels today.

It is apparent to both Daniel and Ed that the Chinese Communist Party’s involvement in the Mexican drug trade is very purposeful and done with full support. Some individuals believe the trade and financial support coming out of China is being conducted by rogue actors but according to Ed, nothing comes in or out of China without the CCP’s full knowledge. In some ways, China could be acting as a state sponsor for terrorist organizations.

As for the reason why the US does not recognize cartels as terrorists, it is simple: it would be an immigration nightmare. If there was an official designation of terrorist actors in Mexico, that would mean Mexicans could claim refugee status, fleeing from a terrorist organization into the US. The immigration problem is already immense. The last thing the US government wants is to exacerbate the issue.

45:04 Current State of Mexico’s Government and Law Enforcement

While Ed has been a strong advocate for increased funding and resources directed towards combating the drug cartels, more often than not, those are misappropriated. For years, the US has poured taxpayer dollars to fund and equip Mexican law enforcement agents, from 5.11 tactical clothing to H&K firearms. Unfortunately, hardly anything has changed. This sort of passive support is clearly not enough to turn the tide. The US government typically bets on having a strong military leadership in Mexico. However, absolutely no one in the government is safe from cartel influence. Mexican Marine Special Operations forces have recently been bribed into becoming bodyguards for drug lords and commanders have been seen staying in lavish houses owned by cartels.

Federal agents in Mexico are often offered bribes by criminal elements. Ed warns that the second anyone says yes to an offer, they are owned by the cartels. It becomes a trap and blackmail becomes the easiest tactic to force agents into their pocket. So prevalent is the corruption of law enforcement in Mexico that the second Ed tells anyone of his background, more often than not people automatically assume he was one of those corrupt agents. The few good men working within Mexico’s law enforcement system are almost never recognized for their efforts outside of American entertainment media and some major headlines.

“Mexico is a conquered nation. It’s a colony. It was a Mexican Empire and then it turned into a Catholic Empire. It’s gone through a bunch of changes as far identity goes. But the things that remain are memories of its violent past and very violent present. [Also] cultural elements of people being for themselves and not for each other… [This is due to] desperation and poverty. Mexico is a rich *** country, it’s just the distribution part of it is not [good].”

53:39 Parallels in the US

Ed and Daniel observe that Mexico’s current issue with the distrust of law enforcement has also been developing wildly within the US in the past few years alone. Daniel’s concern is that this distrust and propaganda will inadvertently turn away the good cops that stand for protecting individual rights, to be replaced by those who only follow orders no matter how unconstitutional the law may be.

Daniel believes this is a coordinated attempt to end self-reliance and make the population less able to defend themselves. Ed points out with the growing anti-cop sentiment; recruitment numbers are down. Some areas in the US do not even have a real police presence anymore. “Who wants to grow up and be a cop anymore?”, Ed asks.

Ed believes the attempt to take away individual freedoms such as firearm ownership is not something as one-dimensional as agents barging into your door and taking away your guns. It’s rather an attack on the entire concept of gun ownership, or a culture war against guns. The laws that are being pushed involve restricting not the act of owning a gun but the conditions that surround your ability to use them, such as caliber, magazine capacity, and areas of use restrictions for a firearm. The overall strategy is to make it so difficult to even own a firearm, the owners will be rendered incapable of using them effectively. It is a gradual process.

01:01:00 Firearm Ownership in Mexico

In stark contrast to the US, Ed discusses the severe firearms ownership laws in Mexico. Despite having a clear stance on allowing firearm ownership for self-defense in the constitution, the Mexican government today has a single blanket gun law in place that wholesale restricts how any legal citizen can acquire and trade a firearm. The legislation basically monopolized the legal trade and manufacturing of firearms to the military. At one point the Mexican people actually gave up the vast majority of their guns, willingly, to the government through gun drives and buyback programs. Since then, the act of purchasing a gun is a ridiculously arduous process.

“There is a single firearm store in Mexico. [It is] in Mexico City. So if you wanna buy a gun in Mexico, you have to be able to purchase a plane ticket to and from Mexico City from wherever you’re from, go there and buy this overpriced gun…

“Just imagine the most funny, piece of **** gun out there… that you wouldn’t want even as a toy…. [then] you do a bunch of paperwork for it and then you fly back home and store it in your house. And you can’t practice with it unless you’re part of a shooting club and that’s an expensive thing to be a part of.

“So basically, if you’re not upper-middle class, having a gun is not an option for you… The military can shoot a minigun into a city to try and take down a cartel [member] but you can’t own a 22 caliber revolver.”

In addition to all of these restrictions, the Mexican government is currently asking community defenders fighting off cartel members to disarm themselves, despite the immense danger they face. Within central Mexico, government forces are attempting to push into deep cartel territory and “clean up” the area. However, one must consider that much of how the cartels were even allowed to be as prevalent as they are is due to the government’s local offices being part of the problem. Simply put, on both a practical and legal level, all the cards are stacked against the average citizen in Mexico seeking to defend themselves.

Ed Calderon anatomy of abduction Counter Custody Class
At a Counter Custody Class, Ed Calderon explains the anatomy of an abduction.

It is because of these experiences that Ed Calderon is a strong 2nd amendment supporter. He wishes he could find the most staunch anti-gun liberal in the US, drive them 30 hours into Mexico to a marginalized community that has been assaulted by both the corrupt police and the cartel, and have them ask these people if they would like to be armed. “In a heartbeat,” Ed says, “All of them would say yes.” Daniel further adds that every single instance of major gun control legislation being passed has directly had a hand to play in mass murders and oppression, no matter the setting.

01:12:09 Sex Trade and Human Trafficking

Daniel asks Ed about his knowledge regarding the sex trade and human trafficking operations within Mexico. To no one’s surprise, Ed paints a dark picture of the grim realities that await young Mexican women as they attempt to cross the border. It is not uncommon for girls as young as 12 or 13 years of age to disappear. Women in their travels through the country are often raped and taken advantage of. Those who are deemed attractive enough are recruited into sex work in brothels.

This is further worsened by the fact Mexico on the whole has a terrible record of actually solving crimes, especially murders. According to Ed, 96% of all murders in Mexico go unsolved. So for serial killers, it’s is an ideal place to prey on the innocent. For example, only recently had authorities caught a man who had 40 bodies buried in his backyard in Mexico City—and he was only found out due to his own mistake.

Slavery is often thought of in the past tense, especially in America. Ed asserts that slavery is happening right now with migrant Mexican workers who have been reduced to becoming indentured servants. And it is not as uncommon as one might believe. The governor of California, Gavin Newsom, had workers who were paying of their debts working his winery during the height of the COVID epidemic.

“People need to kind of pay attention… to things that are happening right under our noses and stop thinking of it… as a ‘Mexico problem’… It’s a problem that is in your backyard now.”

01:18:50 What can we do? How can we pay more attention?

Speaking on behalf of the listeners, Daniel asks Ed how can Americans pay more attention occurring with the Mexican drug trade and what can we do to help. Ed encourages listeners to firstly keep up with the news and current events in Mexico much as they would here in the US. Secondly, he recommends that Americans contact their representatives and ask them to monitor and audit what taxpayer dollars are being used for in the drug war down south. American citizens should focus their attention and question their government officials on why millions of dollars have been spent on the drug war for no real difference to occur. Accountability must be enforced.

To sum it up, Ed states, “Last year was the most lethal year to be a Mexican in our history. Why aren’t Americans screaming for accountability from the government?” The situation is, again, extremely dire. There are over 82,000 missing people in Mexico with active practices of slavery and countless dead.

“Americans need to call what’s going on in Mexico what it is: it’s a Narco insurgency where the government is not to be trusted. [There are] multiple sides to it and there are foreign actors working within Mexico against US interests. That’s what that giant wasp’s nest of a country is and it’s right across your border. It’s not gonna be like pulling into Iraq, it’s not gonna be like Afghanistan. It’s gonna be its own thing.”

For a true military intervention to be truly done, the US must take into consideration the horrific economic effects this would take on the country as Mexico is one of the US’ largest trading partners as well as preparing for a guerrilla war, unlike anything they’ve ever seen. Ed says people ask him what the solution is, but it’s very complex. It should be a priority, just from the aspect of regional stability.

Ed Calderon abduction survival course
Dogs are used in some of the more advanced counter custody materials. (Image source: Recoil Web)

1:24:03 Priorities

Ed says Islamic terrorism is a threat but it’s not the biggest threat to the US right now. The regional de-civilization of the country right next to the US that is also the biggest trading partner should be big on the list of priorities. Islamic extremism is something to worry about, of course, but Ed says there are things eating away at American society, like Fentanyl-laced heroin, that are actually more of a threat than somebody trying to commit a terrorist act on US soil.

Daniel says he holds few things in higher esteem than the US flag. In fact, the only thing he holds in higher esteem is what the flag represents: individual liberty, freedom, independence.

He goes on to say that right now, our priorities are out of order. For instance, millions are dying of heart disease and obesity. But people are pushing body positivity instead of getting healthy. Or COVID—you’re going to die of heart disease before Covid gets you. Or even the push to ‘save the kids’ by getting rid of guns….there are a bazillion things that should be of higher priority than these things that are happening because there are a lot of things taking more people off the planet unjustly because of mistakes that we’ve made as a society.

Daniel points out misplaced priorities in the 2nd Amendment crowd too. He says he despises the idea of federal firearms reciprocity. He’s not a fan of the federal government having power. If they’re not doing something to protect the people, they shouldn’t be doing it.

1:30:33 Victims

There is an epidemic of professional victims causing a tremendous amount of problems and murdering common sense.

Ed says, “If you have a victim mentality, you have the privilege of saying that police should be the only ones with guns.”

Not everybody gets that. Ed discusses how many people think he is in the US because of the wrong things the US has done to Mexico. And, yes. The US has had some pretty bad foreign policy with Mexico. But also, Ed can walk around in places in the US and not get picked up by a van with a bunch of dudes carrying AK47s. Mexico has not been innocent about it’s own situation.

So people can go into the victim mindset, saying everybody’s at fault for what we don’t have, but what good does that do?

Or, we can spend that same energy trying to get things to work out better. Ed asks people, “What have you done for your community in the last five days?”

Ed also points out that people question why so many cops in Mexico switch sides to work for the cartels. It’s because there’s no support from the government or from the people. He says that he is earning his way in this country. Daniel follows up by saying even though he isn’t earning his way into the country in the same way, he believes we need to continue to earn what this country can be for our kids and grandkids. If we look at the news reports, it seems like we are failing. But, Daniel still believes in the quiet majority—the good guys who are censored at every turn. And, the longer the good guys are censored, the more impressionable young people are permanently swayed to the other side.

1:36:56 What about changes in immigration policy?

Ed points out that people who applaud change in immigration policy, (as far as border enforcement), are also applauding the fact that the cartels that control that border are making Bank. They’re applauding the fact that children disappear across the border. They’re applauding that children are tossed over the border, breaking their legs on the way down. Slavery. Indentured servitude. Rape. Murder.

Ed went through the immigration process. It wasn’t easy. It took a while. It was hard and stressful, and he says it isn’t fair for someone to circumvent the process — to have the benefit of being in the United States. He says that a lot of Americans need to understand that most Mexicans are conservative. They’ve just been through a period of being labeled as the ‘bad guys’.

Daniel says that he saw the same thing with the Cubans in Miami. He says, “They’ve seen the other side. They don’t want to go back.

Ed points out that some people like to say how beautiful Mexico is. And, of course it’s nice there! —Inside the fences and the gates with the armed security. He says, “Come with me to some of the places I’ve been to, where the people don’t move aside if you point a rifle at them, because they see them every day. Come to a place like that with me, and we’ll talk about reality. I wasn’t a tourist agent. I was a police agent. My main point of my activism is to bring light and voice to those people that don’t have them.”

1:39:20 Daniel says that he’s glad Ed is here and he really appreciates his service to this country.

Ed brings up that he’s done classes for border control. He’s seen the levels of humanity like guys just buying toothbrushes for the kids out of their own pocket. He’s also seen the bad side, he acknowledges that it’s not all good. But he encourages people to not generalize. The quiet people in that field should be a bit more loud. He gets to have conversations with people around the country in law enforcement and the military and he knows that they have a level of humanity that is completely color blind as far as what they are doing.

He points out that if it’s rare for people in the US to go into service, in places like Mexico, people like Ed who go into the service are like lepers. They get incredulous questions like, “Where are you going to work?” “How much are you going to earn?” “What are the risks?” He says that for the time he was in, it was rated the most dangerous job on the planet. And he didn’t get rich off it. All he got was a few concussions, a broken nose several times over, a few missing parts…and as Daniel points out, probably some serious mental trauma. Ed adds that he’s also got a few stories about donkey shows.

And he’s still out there. He isn’t working for the government anymore, but he’s working on the business side of it and a big part of what he does is activism. Through his platform, he takes up small causes and gives them a voice to expose some of the things that people don’t want to talk about.

Ed Calderon instructing self defense with a medium blade knife.
Ed Calderon instructing self-defense with a medium blade knife. (Image source: Offgrid Web)

1:41:43 Where can you learn more about what Ed is up to, the causes he is after, and see how they can help and possibly train with him?

Find him at his website: Ed’s Manifesto. The site has a schedule, a blog, and a link to support very at-need agents that are working in Mexico, and some of the orphans that were left behind. For financial accountability, Ed documents every cent of donations and takes the money to the recipients personally. Ed also is raising money for the Sniper Foundation—he’s not one-sided in this. He is for this country, but he also looks back to the country that he came from. He’s trying to do things on both sides of the border.

You can also find Ed Calderon on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

 

 

 

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