Back on the trail!

After much thought and talking to many friends, I have decided to get back on the proverbial “writing” trail again.  I am excited to jump start my blog back into life and hopefully discuss some interesting topics.

First of all, a lot has changed.  I needed a change.  I needed to take care of me and get healthy.  Being healthy is a choice and it is work.  A lot of work.  But you do it.  You have to train your mind to accept it and then your body to handle it.  It’s never easy.  But, if you set reasonable goals, you will see results.  I set one major goal and then several little goals along the way.  I am not at my major goal yet, but I have had incredible multiple little success all along the way so far.  After a year I am closer to being the new and improved version of me I have been wanting to be for a very long time.  I decided it was time to stop complaining and start acting.  You know that old axiom… “If you aim at nothing, you are sure to hit it”!  When I started my journey I was 250 pounds.  As of the writing of this blog I am now at 205.  I have a ways to go yet, but I like where I am headed.  Working out regularly (4-5 times a week), jumping on the Keto bandwagon (although not religiously, but it certainly is working wonders) and above all, being accountable to friends and family to help keep me committed to staying the course.  So, if you have been a part of my journey, I cannot thank you enough for your investment in me.

Old-New Scott

Ok, enough of that.  As a kid, through high school and into college, I was a very active person… baseball, track, cross country and soccer as well as hiking anywhere and everywhere I could, even if that meant the swamps and backwoods of my stomping grounds in Florida.  I never really thought about the proper gear, shoes, etc.  But, as I am healthier and able to do so much more I am paying a lot of attention to what works and what doesn’t work for the activities I do.  I exercise (run, row and floor/strength conditioning) and I hike, usually once or twice a year in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.

So, let’s talk today about exercise, trials and the right shoes.  There are so many factors to being able to stay focused and aware in our daily lives.  Exercise, wow, I cannot say enough about it.  It gives you drive, strength and stamina.  It clears your mind.  It helps get oxygen flowing through your body and into your brain through increased blood flow.  So whatever your poison, there is a specific “chalice” for it.  Your shoes.

Notice the picture below.  We are at an Orangetheory Fitness Studio in Spring, Texas.  Notice that each of us is wearing workout gear… water-wicking style shirts and shorts as well as proper shoes.  If you do not get professional advice before working out on the proper shoes for the activity you will be a part of, you could be doing more damage to your body, especially your feet, than you know.  I speak from experience.

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Let’s take running for example.  When I started I needed a thicker, heavier-support style running shoe to support the weight that I carried.  There are several factors to consider when thinking about replacing your running/workout shoes.  The Asics professional running team recommend changing between 450-500 miles . 

Height, weight, frequency, weather and road/trail/treadmill conditions play an active part in the wear-down of your shoes, so be careful to not over-extend their welcome.  So, if you run, not jog or power walk, your shoes definitely should be designed specifically for running.  I have been consistently running since January 2017 (9.5-11 minute miles depending on my distance).  I alternate between two different pairs of Nike running shoes.  I am in no way promoting or recommending any specific brand.  Plain and simple I have had great success with Nike running shoes.  Comfort and fit are key.  Running shoes typically offer more heel and arch support since that is where the majority of the friction will take place.  Another type of shoe athletes like to wear are cross-fit style shoes.  They are a bit lighter than a running shoe and generally offer less arch and heel support as they are designed more for short intervals of running, weight lifting and floor exercises designed for strength conditioning.  I made the mistake of thinking since they were lighter that they would be great for running.  Not a good decision for me.  Almost immediately after starting to use them for running I began to get some serious shin splints that just would not go away.  About a week or two after going back to my running shoes my shin splints finally faded… boy, you talk about pain!IMG_9612 IMG_9611

 

 

 

 

 

If you are a walker, jogger or power walker, you may be able to alternate the style of shoe from a walking shoe, to a cross-fit shoe to a running shoe.  If you do a lot of inclines you may want a running shoe with more support, but lots of flat walking, most cross trainers and cross-fit shoes will do the job.  I have adopted the Orangetheory saying that goes like this:  “Nothing feels better than a finished workout”!  I complain before I get to the studio or gym, but am always glad I forced myself to get there and get my workout on!  I always feel better afterward!  There is so much more we could talk about here but I’ll leave that to the experts!

Let’s move on to one of my all time favorite activities, hiking.  Whether it’s in the woods and swamps of Florida, the trails around the sugar mills of St. John U.S. Virgin Islands,  hiking the trials in an around the Rocky Mountain National Park or running drills at your favorite outdoor gun range, you need to be prepared to protect your feet. Sweat, water, heat, cold and socks all play a part in successful hiking.  For wet hiking environments look for a water-wicking style of sock (i.e Pure Athlete), for some damp but mostly dry environments, look for a 70+ % merino wool style sock (i.e. People socks), for cold environments a thermal based sock will keep you dry and warm (i.e. DG Hill) and then for general dry and arid hiking trails, an ultra lightweight merino wool sock is best suited for the job (i.e. Smartwool, made in Colorado).  We’ve got your feet covered, now let’s talk about protection, hiking shoes.

We could certainly spend a lot of time here as the market is flooded with an overwhelming number of choices.  Hiking shoes, hiking boots, tennis shoes, military boots, you name it.  You can throw a dart at your local sporting goods store and hit almost any make and model available.  But, here are a couple of guidelines to consider.  Weather (cold, wet, dry, hot).  Terrain (snow, sand, mud, gravel, rocks, boulders).  First, let’s address dry, hot, sandy, gravelly trails.  Usually these areas are fairly easy to navigate regardless if you are a novice or an experienced hiker.  Typically an ankle-height hiking shoe is best suited as you need the flexibility and movement in your ankles in the dry to softer terrain.  You can go extremely high dollar or fairly moderately priced, but anywhere in that range will get you the style, quality and comfort you need to have a safe and enjoyable hike.  I alternate between Merrill and Vasque.  Both very comfortable, but Vasque is a bit heavier and will do a fairly good job of keeping water from puddles and shallow streams out of your shoe.  The Merrill I use is lighter, and seems to grip a bit better in gravely type terrain but will definitely get your feet wet in puddles and shallow streams.

When I am hiking rough, rocky terrain with some water exposure, I have to admit, I totally favor military style boots specifically designed for our troops to withstand their harsh environments, day after day.  For example.  Below, the boot on the left, is Oakley’s very first military combat boot (the SI), designed hand in hand with experts from the U.S. Navy Seals.  Our boys wore these extensively in the inhospitable terrains found across Afghanistan, especially in the Hindu Kush mountains.  They are comfortable, keep you dry, grip almost any terrain in any weather condition, wet, snow, dry, hot, and the 6″ height provides optimal ankle protection from twists and turns.  I wore these out using them for hiking as well as in my business as a firearms instructor.  I have smoothed out the soles and have worn the outer lining off, but man, these were phenomenally comfortable in any conditions.  The boot on the right, also made by Oakley, is the Tactical Six, also a 6″ boot.  These are my replacements to my SIs and I wore them for the first time this past October, while hiking trails in Colorado and am happy to say they were amazingly well suited for that rough, gravelly, rocky terrain, as well as water.  Having crossed several shallow streams, not a drop of water penetrated the boot, keeping me high, dry and warm.  They provide superior ankle support, are a comfortable fit and my feet never seemed to feel fatigued after wearing them all day.  These are an excellent choice for cooler climates as they keep you nice and warm, even while standing in 6″ of snow.

As I said in the beginning, I am NOT a professional runner or hiker.  I just thought I’d give you a point of view from an average guy, doing average things while overcoming personal hurdles to becoming more fit every day!  This is truly fun stuff for me!  Sure, I can always talk guns, ammo and politics, but, why?

I hope you found this, at the very least, entertainingly interesting, but at the most, directly helpful in your own journey in becoming a healthier you.  Let me know what you think, good, bad or indifferent.  I’d like your thoughts.  I’ll post your responses.  As always friends, Stay Focused!

 

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What’s Your Home Defense Weapon of Choice?

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There are so many options on the market for home defense today it can kind of make your head spin, especially if you are just getting started. You really have to consider several factors regarding a home defense weapon. There are 5 key factors you need to consider, before considering which gun you choose to rely on. Here they are:

1) What kind of home do you live in? Single family, multifamily, wood, concrete, metal?
*We consider this for ammunition penetration concerns.

2) What kind of front door, garage entry door and back door do you have and what kind of locks are on them?
*We consider this because of ease or lack of ease of entry – dead bolts, kick plates, glass windows on doors, sliding glass doors or french doors, wood, fiberglass, metal doors, how old, decay.

3) Who lives in the home with you? Spouse, kids, parents, visiting friends or family?
*We consider this because age, physical deficiencies, location of, etc. can play a part in who gets shot or who becomes a hostage or victim.

4) How much distance is between you and safety? Examples:
A) Living/Family room and front door and back door?
B) Back yard BBQ grill to back door or fence gate?
C) Bedroom to hallway, living/family room, front door, back door?
*We consider this because we need to calculate distance to our attacker, how accurate of a shot you are, distance to a safe room, escape route.

5) What kind of lighting is on?
A) Outside lighting – street lights, street signs, garden lights, neighbors’ lights
B) Interior lighting – night lights, stove hood light, TV light, ambient lights from electronics
*We consider this because light because light normally is our friend, but when someone invades your home it no longer becomes your friend. It is now the friend of the home invader. It helps them see. eliminate as much ambient light as possible. You should have the tactical advantage. It’s your home, you know the layout, especially in the dark! You may have to use that to help save your life.

IMG_2792home-defensedefense world

Now let’s talk about the actual firearm. This is a completely subjective matter and you will get varied answers from all kinds of people as to what you should or shouldn’t use for home defense. Just as in every day shooting the firearm you select for home defense has to be a firearm that you can get to quickly and shoot comfortably. You should also be able to load and unload it in the dark.

Mossberg930_SPXShotgun: Shotguns come in all different shapes and sizes. 12 gauge, 20 gauge and .410. Full length, pistol grip with no butt stock, hunting. I absolutely will tell you to stay as far away from a shotgun with just a pistol grip and no butt stock… like this… specialRun-870-Express-Pistol-Grip This shotgun is too difficult to handle for anyone, let alone someone who has just been wakened by a bump or crash in the night!

A shotgun is a fairly easy to use firearm, plus, it comes with a universal “Oh crap” translator: Click-click With a shotgun you do not have to be accurate… point and shoot! But, beware, it will make a mess of your intruder and anything else the buckshot, birdshot, etc. hits! But, most shotgun rounds/ammunition will not over penetrate a wall. That is especially good if you live in an apartment or condo. Most shotguns will hold 7-8 rounds.

Next up is our ever popular AR15 style rifle. The AR also comes in various styles and colors. I wouldn’t worry about the color much because the person looking down the barrel won’t be too concerned about the color! Trust me! The caliber is .223 or 5.56mm. Most ARs will take either. The receiver will be stamped with the caliber on the side. The AR rifle is lightweight, easy to hold, aim and fire with very low recoil. Almost anyone can handle this firearm, even a child. The .223 bullet is designed to tumble once it makes contact with an object. It does maximum damage to the body but it is actually a good round to use in home defense as it usually will not over penetrate drywall, wood or concrete. You can get AR magazines that hold anywhere from 10 to 60 rounds, although standard is 30. Although the AR is an easy firearm to operate, it does require you to aim and most of the time you will want to steady it with both hands, but again, the recoil is minimal at best.

Lastly, we have the pistol. Smaller, many are easy to handle depending on the caliber of bullet. Pistols, or handguns, can be either revolvers or semi-auto. Revolvers are good, but pack a fairly hefty recoil and are limited to 5-6 rounds of ammunition. I guess if you are in New York that is not a problem! A semi-auto handgun can hold from 6 to 17 rounds of ammunition, again, depending on the caliber. But, the drawback to a handgun is that you need to aim, hold your gun steady and hold it with two hands for maximum effectiveness. One possible drawback to a handgun/pistol is that most ammunition is designed for maximum penetration and have the tendency to over penetrate walls, most drywall and wood. But, to compensate many bullet manufacturers are making lower velocity bullets that reduce the possibility of over penetration. This is special personal defense ammunition.

So hang on… so why should I even be concerned with the amount of ammunition my gun can hold? Great question! Do I need 6-17-30 rounds of ammunition? I have no idea! But, if there is a chance I need more, let’s say due to being nervous we just keep pulling the trigger or there is more than one intruder then I want to make sure I have enough ammunition at my disposal to ensure that the threat has been stopped… no matter if that means I need to only use one or it’s necessary to use 30! Same as in my kitchen or garage. Do I get a small fire extinguisher or a big one? Well, depends… am I expecting to have a big fire or a small fire? I have no idea, but either way I want to be prepared! Don’t you?

Well.. hope this sparked some interest, maybe even some discussion in the family. If you have any thoughts, comments or questions feel free to post them here!

As always… Stay FOCUSED!

Where Are We Really At?

So much is going on today. So much is at stake for our great nation. Today we’ll look at some of the current events, where we stand and what does it all mean to and or for us. First a couple of statistics. This has to do with the gun debate, specifically murders by guns (well, the media says “death by gun”, not “death by criminal”) versus homicides by drunk, reckless, underage or those otherwise somehow impaired drivers. Notice we didn’t say “car” or “vehicle”? Nice going if you caught that… once again, the media makes that designation. So, let’s look at the quick facts provided by the CDC (Center For Disease Control). The facts are as recent as 2012. The one thing that the CDC does do that the media does not, is that they identify these deaths, by gun and by vehicle, as homicides. Homicide: The intentional killing of one person by another; murder. So here we go. The media constantly tells those who will listen (notice I did not say “us”) that guns kill more people than car accidents every. According to the CDC statistics this is a flat out falsehood! In 2012 total murders/homicides by gun violence was 16,259. Murders/homicides by vehicular violence in 2012 totaled… are you ready? Any ideas? Ok, here it comes… 34,080. Um, did you catch that? Deaths resulting from vehicular homicides are 17,821 MORE than death by gun violence. Why aren’t these numbers reported accurately? What does the media have to gain by lying to the public?

I’m going to ask several open-ended questions: Why does the media make a difference between “guns killing people” and “drunk drivers” killing people”? Or, why does the media and several left wing politicians refer to guns as evil and but when talking about drunk or intoxicated driving deaths it is the driver that is at fault? Is a gun an inanimate object? Is a vehicle an inanimate object? Why the differentiation in media and politics, but NOT in the CDC?

Next… the media portrayal of guns as being the root of all evil in this country. Case in point, 20/20’s (an ABC news program) January 31st, 2014 show called Young Guns. The premise behind the show was to “prove” that kids are curious and attracted to guns, especially when they are mixed with candy or placed on a playground! How in the heck can they call this reporting? Pure and simple it is propaganda! Any child has an innate desire to explore, touch, feel, investigate the mysterious, including myself. Those having attended my classes have heard my story regarding my father’s introduction and admonition to me about his shotguns. I was in 4th grade. He opens his bedroom doors, says these are my shotguns, don’t touch them! Guess what? I touched them!!! Why do politicians and the media think that reducing the number of bullets in a magazine will in any way prevent criminals from killing innocent people? Do I need a magazine that can hold 17 rounds or 9mm, 16 rounds of .40 caliber or 30 rounds of .223? Maybe… what if there is more than one bad guy? What if there are several? Well, what if there is only one? Then I would not need all those rounds, hopefully, but at least I would have them at my disposal if I did need them! The media and some politicians have an agenda and it is NOT protecting the rights and safety of the every day average law abiding citizen. There is not a single media expert or politician or statistic who or which can in any way, shape or form prove that the hundreds of gun laws on the books make our streets safer. Chicago, Detroit and NYC are prime examples.

So, where are we at today? I feel the battle lines are being drawn and the divisions are being made. With close to 85 million legal gun owners in this country, that is almost one in every three American homes, we are the majority, not the minority. Why aren’t we more vocal? Why are we not leading the way, rather than having it dictated to us every day by the media and our federal, state and local governments? We are definitely starting to become more vocal but not nearly enough! So, it is starting though. the Chief of Police in Detroit has told his citizens that he strongly believes in the second amendment and recommended they receive firearms training and obtain their concealed handgun permits. Same with the Sheriff of Milwaukee County, 54 sheriffs in Colorado, the Governors of Texas, Louisiana, South Carolina, North Carolina, Wisconsin , etc.

The actions taking place across the country today are reminiscent of the actions King George against the Colonists… increased taxation without the consent of the people, appointment of judges dependent upon doing the King’s will, abdicating laws previously established, etc. Example, the BATF’s raid on Ares Armory to obtain the names of everyone who purchased legal AR15 blank receivers; Connecticut politicians’ standoff with 350,000 residents refusing to register their assault style rifles and high capacity magazines; Maryland’s proposal for gun registration; New York’s limit on high capacity magazines and today, the 16th of March, Maryland’s unlawful search of hundreds of vehicles on the interstate during a fugitive from a bank robbery.

So, where do you think we are today? Where are we headed? Will November 2014 and November 2016 provoke a new change in direction in this country, or will we continue heading down the same path toward a collision with history? Either way, what are you prepared to do? Complain, whine, vote for change, volunteer, take action, post creative little quips about your opposition to the current administration and how you support the Second Amendment, or, do absolutely nothing?

Stay Focused…

10 Reasons to Carry Concealed

300ConcealedCarry Concealed carry is far from being a “modern day” phenomenon. And it is also nothing new for women. But, society wants you to think this is a new idea, a new way of thinking for the “American gunner” (did you know that being considered and American Gunner or American Shooter never had a bad connotation until the 80s and 90s?). Current society wants you to think that women shooting and carrying guns is wild and crazy! Sure, maybe only to the guy who is trying to rape or kidnap her!!! Did you know that Eleanor Roosevelt was the only First Lady that packed a pistol everywhere she went, as First Lady and long after? Roosevelt CC Men and women should be carrying. You don’t like guns you say? Well, I bet you like someone who has guns and you would be thankful they are your friend if anything were to ever happen to you and that friend is there to hopefully protect you with that gun! But what happens when he or she isn’t there? What then? Am I insinuating that you should all of a sudden like guns and go out and get one? Absolutely not! But, you might want to at least learn to shoot one! You just never know when the Zombies will emerge, Red Dawn will occur or your home is broken into while you are alone! But if not, it’s ok… we can certainly still be friends! ZombieBut if something happens and you come banging on my door you will be doing two things if you want to hold up with me: 1) Get a crash course on keeping my magazines fully loaded while I am picking off Zombies and 2) make sure that any of us shooting don’t run out of ammunition! Trust me, you will be busy!!! Ok, ok.. I’m off topic!!!

Reasons to Carry Concealed. Many have their opinions for either open carry or concealed carry… and we have already discussed this so I am not going to re-hash it, but I will have a point or two regarding it. Here we go.

– (Minus) 1 Reason of all time: “I carry concealed because it gives me a sense of power over everyone else and all I have to do is whip it out when the poo hits the fan and I will save the world!” If that’s you, you are officially an IDIOT and a person I want to stay away from because you are going to get yourself in trouble!

#1 – Carrying Concealed gives me the confidence that I can protect myself and my family and friends if a situation got to such a point. Note: The confidence does NOT come from simply carrying a gun. Too many people decide to get their CHLs, CCWs (whatever your state calls them) and then they think they are safe. They don’t practice at home. They go to the range a couple to a few times a year. They have never taken a defensive pistol course. And, most have never shot in any type of match to test their skills. Being good at something takes absolute dedication, persistence and practice! Strapping a gun on and knowing how to load it and pull the trigger is not even part of the equation. Learning how to do those things when your heart is pounding and your hands are shaking is a good start!

#2 – Carrying Concealed does not mean I am paranoid. Most people who carry intentionally stay away from bad neighborhoods and even verbal confrontations. We know the responsibility and accountability that comes with carrying a firearm. I’m not paranoid, I just have less to fear than the unarmed person!

#3 – Carrying Open will cause doubt in the mind of some criminals. If I openly carry (which is NOT a bad thing) I no longer have the element of surprise.

#4 – Carrying Concealed gives me a secret and makes me a formidable defender! In the Art of War by Sun Tzu, Tzu states “The general who is skilled in defense hides in the most secret recesses of the earth”. If you announce your means of defense and identify your position, you have lost the ability to do one of two things. 1) Retreat… Live to defend another day or 2) respond before the attacker realizes what is happening.

#5 – Carrying Open could possibly make me the first target and possibly the first victim!

#6 – Carrying Concealed in the State of Texas is the legal thing to do!

#7 – Carrying Concealed is my only option since I cannot carry a Cop! Ok, I agree, this is a stupid statement and I’m tired of hearing it, but, hopefully you get the point! Average 911 response time in the US overall is 22 minutes. Chicago it is 32 minutes and Detroit it is 58 minutes! Law Enforce will not be there to rescue you… you can almost bank on it! Unfortunately they will be there to clean up the mess, take the reports and draw the chalk outlines!

#8 – Carrying Concealed is not just the law, but it is my right. I hope that I will never have to use my gun in any other event other than to shoot targets at the range. But, unless your heads are buried in the sand, you know it is a dangerous world in which we live!

#9 – Carrying Concealed gives me positive opportunity. A bad guy will have to make a decision, or several… is anyone carrying, if they are can they get their gun out before I find out who they are and are they trained to properly use that gun in a situation like this? A positive opportunity because I have more things in my corner than he does. I’m concealed, I’m confident, I have already observed my surroundings and I am trained! Most of your street thugs do not go to the range, they do not practice, they do not aim and they are scared of getting shot! Trust me, I don’t want to get shot… but I will guarantee that my opportunity of fighting to stay alive is stronger than his opportunity to rob, rape or kill!

#10 – Carrying Concealed gives my family and friends a sense of calm and security, especially if they do not carry. If a “poo hit the fan” scenario were to develop I know my friends and family know that I am armed and know that I have training as well as that I practice often! They understand that this will give them a chance at survival so that won’t become statistics. Can I guarantee this outcome? Certainly not, but the odds are in my favor. I am all for stacking odds in my favor if it means we have a better chance at survival.

Let me emphasize a couple of points here so no one gets the wrong idea. I said I am trained and I practice. Yes, I am and I do. But, I do not have the training of a law enforcement officer nor a soldier, but the fact that I have given myself opportunity after opportunity to attend training classes to develop my defensive pistol skills and my consistent practice with my handguns gives me an advantage over most criminals. Am I as good as some LE folks out there? I would like to think so, maybe even better based on some recent conversations I have had about training with local cops. Training yourself and bettering your skills are a winning combination in any environment or aspect of life. You learn from those who are the best. The reason I take combat defensive pistol classes is that I know the training I am receiving is by people who have been there done that and it puts me in a very stressful environment to see how I react as well as how quickly I learn and adapt.

A few examples of doing the right thing by concealed carry permit holders:

Bystander Saves Cop’s Life In Oklahoma

Concealed Carry Permit Holder Saves a Wal-Mart Shopper’s Life

A Passerby In Wisconsin Saves Woman’s Life

Fun facts:

txdps-i0 The Texas Department of Public Safety has already processed 256,000 new concealed handgun licenses YTD for 2013.IMG_1294

The number of women learning to shoot has increased by 76% for 2013 YTD.

Choosing to carry is a huge decision for any person to make. If you haven’t gotten the message yet chances are you won’t get it… You are NOT prepared for life altering decisions simply by taking a 4 hour class, scoring well on a written and a shooting test and then strapping that gun on you. The responsibility and moral implications are far deeper than simply learning to shoot a gun and then carrying it. If your life is threatened can you rationalize the outcome of your decision to draw your gun from your holster and pull the trigger in less time than it takes for your heart to beat one time?

Do you understand the terms “adrenaline rush”, “situational tunnel vision”, “loss of gross motor skills” (meaning your fingers loose dexterity), “loss of life”, “sight picture”, “is my safety on or off”, “do I have a round in the chamber or do I need to rack the slide”, “did I fire two shots or ten shots”, “what happens if my gun jams or misfires”, “what happens if I accidently release my magazine… do I have another full spare on me”, “where is the closest cover that I can shoot from or am I going to stand in the open… and do I have time to make that decision”, “what happens if I get shot”, “where will my bullet go if I miss my intended target”? If you can answer ALL of these questions you just might be ready when the time comes. But if you can’t, you need to seriously think about what you are doing and get more training. I can answer these questions for myself but I cannot answer them for you!

Ok friends, as always… Stay Focused!

Concealed Carry or Open Carry?

Seems like there is a lot of attention being given to open carry right now. Although I am not opposed to it, I am personally not sold on the position of whether or not I would open carry if it were permitted. Currently 36 states allow open carry, and only 14 of those states require a license to open carry! First I want to tackle the topic of carrying from a legal and moral point of view.

“More Guns, Less Crime” (As John Lott says in the title of his best seller) in my estimation means the more good guys that have the guns and are properly trained to use them, the less the bad guys are going to catch us by surprise! Again, Kennesaw, Georgia is the example, shinning on a hill, of crime understanding what it is up against and for the most part steering clear! Chicago, Detroit and New York City continue to be the favored targets of the highest crime rates in the country… I know, I know… I am beating the proverbial dead horse since I talk about it all the time!!! When was the last time you heard of a Starbucks being held up? Well, this organization has publically stated that it has no problem with its patrons legally carrying firearms… do you think the bad guys are aware of this? So, legally you had better know what the laws are concerning conceal carry and open carry in your states! If you took the CCW or CHL class and you do carry you went over these.. but, did you know that you should check these laws every single year to see what, if anything, has changed? Why? Because YOU are responsible, no one else, for not knowing or not understanding the law. If you do something wrong, in regards to carrying, brandishing, firing, shooting someone, a defense of “Gosh, I just didn’t know!” won’t protect you. Texas law tells us that we can carry concealed except for federal buildings, court houses, schools, establishments where the 30.06 signs are displayed, etc. Up until Sunday, September 1st, 2013, you could not “accidently” show or reveal your concealed firearm. Now the law says that as long as it was not an intentional flash, warning, brandishing, etc. you can no longer be charged with knowingly displaying your concealed firearm, with the possibility of losing your license. You cannot intentionally brandish your firearm because someone upset you or cut you off. And, of course, you cannot threaten anyone for any reason with your firearm! Boy I hope we are all smart enough to know these things! Fortunately you do not see these kinds of stories in the news. At least not from law abiding, legitimate concealed firearm carriers.

The moral part of the equation is a little more weighty than even the law in my own personal, non-legal “opinion”! We have to have the laws unfortunately to protect ourselves from the stupid people around us. But, by choosing to carry, we intentionally made one of the biggest moral decisions in our lives. I, you, have committed to carry a firearm to ensure that our pursuit of life liberty and happiness is not infringed upon or that of a loved one. I hope and pray that you have considered what this means to you. I ask people all the time, do you think you could pull that trigger and potentially end another human being’s life? Can you live with the consequences after that for the rest of your life? If you have to think twice about your answer I recommend you lock your gun/s up until you have reckoned with that decision. I am talking about not just in your home, but in your car, in your office, at a store, at a gas pump, in a theater, at a daycare, are you prepared to do whatever it takes to stop a threat with your firearm? If you have made that moral commitment to do whatever it takes to defend life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness there is one other moral commitment I would like to know that you have made. You will say, oh Scott, that is NOT a moral commitment, but ask any member of the SEALs, Delta Force, Green Berets, United States Marine Corps, SWAT, and any law enforcement officer, if committing to practicing regularly is a viable component to the moral decision to carry a firearm! In fact I DARE you to ask them!!! I personally feel that practicing to do something that will protect yourself builds confidence and moral fortitude! I will be blunt… if you took the time to get your CHL, or your OCP, and only practice shooting that firearm once a quarter, once every 6 months, maybe even once a year, then you have not wrestled with that moral decision of carrying to defend yourself and your loved ones. Why? Because you will NOT be prepared to use that firearm in the most desperate of situations! You practiced driving that car over and over and over again why? So you could drive it and be comfortable driving it… maybe even because you wanted to be a good driver! Why does the military rehearse special operations for months on end? Because they want to get it right and they do not want any mistakes. Why should we be any different?

Ok, concealed carry or open carry? There is a place in society for both. I feel that in most instances open carry is a deterrent. A bad guy sees someone has a firearm on them they may be less likely to rob the place. In a state or city that permits open carry I believe that there is definitely much less crime committed because there are way more good guys that can return fire for certain than the bad guy is willing to deal with. But, on the other hand, open carry could mean you become the first target. Much less if you are with several others exercising that right, but if you are the only one in that store or bank, you may become the first casualty. Like I said, I am open both ways, but for me personally, at least right now, I prefer concealed carry. I want the bad guy to have to guess. But if I am in a national park or another open area that permits open carry I will most likely exercise that right, and I have in the past.

I am not sure if Texas will ever pass open carry, and I am certainly not opposed to it as I believe that it will definitely be a game changer when it comes to the majority of crime, but until then I will continue to practice and to teach and to encourage my friends that the sport of shooting is not at all scary as some would have you think. I would really love to see your thoughts on this subject. Let me know what you think!

Stay focused!

Be Vigilant!

When you were a kid your mom taught you a very important lesson about crossing streets. Do you remember what that was? My mother said you must ALWAYS look both was before crossing the street. Not one way, or not just the other way, but both ways. I guess in essence my mother was teaching me viligence. Watching out for on-coming cars. Don’t ever cross a street without looking both ways, and sometimes looking both ways more than once. How many of you do this out of habit now? Maybe because it was ingrained in you or maybe becuase when you got older you finally figured out the reason behind the warning.

Well, why should the other things we do on a daily basis be treated any differently? What kind of things? How about getting gas, walking up to an ATM, driving through an ATM, walking into a bank, walking up to a store entrance or back out to your car? How about the fast food drive through, the mall, your daily morning or evening walk or run, going to the gym, looking at real estate? Or how about when the exterminator or pizza delivery person comes to the door? And, even when you take your friends and families out to eat at a restaurant?

Whether you want to admit it or not you have a routine that you perform almost every single day. You may alter it depending on your tasks, your job, a vacation, etc., but in general you keep it the same. My friends, it’s time to shake things up!!!

For the Christain we are told to be “sober, be vilgilant, because our adversary the devil lurks around like a lion seeing whom he can sneak up on and devour”! The surfer is always warned to watch out for sharks who may also be surfing the waves looking for an easy prey. The ice fisherman is always told to test the ice and look for cracks to make sure it is not too thin. The avid hiker is warned to carry a GPS or a compass so he/she can keep track of where they are so they do not get lost. A pilot is taught to trust the horizon, not the instruments. A shooter is taught to ALWAYS know what is behind his/her target. And, a shepherd is taught to look for the wolf who likes to “blend” with the sheep.

Wolf in Sheep's Clothing

How do we as busy people do this, or incorporate these admonitions into our daily routines? Here are some ideas based on many of the things we just mentioned (as daily activities) above and how we MUST incorporate vigilence into these activities.

Let’s start with getting gas. First of all, I try to make sure that I take my wife’s vehicle to get gas so she does not have to. I’m not always successful, but I try. But experience kept me out of harm’s way in 2009. Late one night I responded to a server issue at our office downtown. When I finally left in the early morning hours, I realized I was practically out of gas and knew there was no way I could make it very far without stopping. I went across the street to the only place that was close enough, but they only had the pumps turned on… the store was not open. Many of these late night stations go to 1/4 power, including their lot lights, so it can be pretty dark. Through experience and habit I always get out of my vehicle, lock the doors and place the keys in my front pocket. Then, while gasing, I stand about 5-6 feet away from the rear driver’s side bumper. I do this for two reasons. First, so I can see in almost all directions around my vehicle and secondly, if something happens, I can use my vehicle as a shield, a defensive position, keeping my vehicle between me and a potential attacker. Sure enough, long story shortened dramatically, an attack was attempted but I had the upper hand because I saw it coming and time to plan my defense. Let’s just leave it by saying that I am alive today because my vigilence this particular night paid off!

When you stop at the gas station to get gas, get your gas and get going! Stay off the phone (no talking, no texting, no surfing!), lock your doors, if you are a woman, put your purse on the floorboard under your steering wheel. It is a known fact that bad guys look for easy targets. These are people who are distracted, people who have their car doors open (a lot easier to take your vehicle or your purse with your car door wide open), people who are chatting away about the terrible day they had at work or posting their latest fantastic purchase from their favorite store. PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT IS GOING ON AROUND YOU, WHO IS NEAR YOU, WHAT THAT PERSON IS DOING, WHAT HE/SHE IS WEARING, IS THERE ANYONE WALKING OR STANDING CLOSE TO YOUR VEHICLE!

What about the fast food drive through? Seems harmless enough, right? Well, have you ever gotten stuck in the line at a Chic-Fil-A (if you just said no then you have never gone on a Saturday), what about McDonalds, or any popular fast food chain drive through? So, think about this… you drive up, place your order, but they are busy, there are one or two cars ahead of you and now a car or two hind you, and normally you pull up close to the bumper of the car ahead and the car behind pulls up close to your bumper, sound about right? What happens now? Oh yeah, your window may still be down, you are searching for your credit card or hunting for spare change, chatting with the people in your car or even talking on the phone while you are waiting your turn. But, why aren’t you consciously scoping out an escape route? You are saying, “oh bother, Scott has lost his mind! Why in the world would I need to do that?” Case in point… My friend Tammy and her family were coming back recently from a family outting. They were hungry so they decided to stop at the McDonalds and get some food for the family. Tammy’s husband placed the order and then pulled up. They were busy and now they had cars in front of them and cars behind them. Tammy, happened to be scanning her surrounds and caught a glimpse of a man in her side mirror, walking up to the vehicle. She looked behind her to the other side and saw there was another man coming up the driver side as well. She is a concealed carrier and calmly pulled “Emily” (yes, it is quite ok to name your favorite guns!) out of her purse and put it in her lap and told her husband to look in his mirror. As soon as he did two or three poilce cars arrived in the McDonalds’ parking lot with lights flashing and low and behold the two strangers bolted in the other direction. What could have happened if Tammy wasn’t paying attention to her surroundings? What should you do in ANY drive through? Know what is around you… is there a curb? Can your car or truck handle it if necessary? Is the drive through well lit? Are there a lot of bushes around? Don’t talk on the phone. Get your card or money out and watch your surroundings. Keep your windows up until time to pay and then again until it’s your turn to get your food! And, MAKE absolute certain that you DO NOT pull too close to the car in front of you. Leave enough room between you and them in case you need to make a quick getaway! If you carry, have it out and ready in case you need it.

Do you ever stop at your bank and go inside to make a desposit, withdrawal, etc.? As most people do, I am sure you may be thinking about your task. You get out of your car, walk up to the doors and go right in to the teller line. If you do this, change it. Have your deposit or withdrawl ready if at all possible. If you carry concealed, make sure your firearm is easy to get to. Before you walk in, scan the parking lot for suspicious vehicles and try to look inside. You certainly do not want to walk into an ongoing bank robbery! When you leave, before you ever get close to the door, put your money away. The worse thing you can do is have your cash or an envelope full of cash in your hand as you are walking out of the bank. When you get to the door, scan your surroundings again.. make sure no one is standing or walking around the outside doors of the bank. If they seem suspicious to you go back to a bank representative and tell them. If the bank has a security guard or a cop, they will send them out to check it out.

When you go to a restaurant do you choose your seating or do you allow the host or hostess to seat you where he/she wants? Three things I would recommend here. First, if the host/hostess seats you choose or request a booth or table that faces the front door. Do not sit with your back to the door. If you can watch the front door then you can be aware of anything happening that looks out of the ordinary. Secondly, before you sit down quickly scan and plan an exit route. Are there side doors, rear doors, doors by the carry out or bathrooms? And thirdly, this may not always be something that you can easily do, but I almost always do it in a fast food restaurant (if for some reason I eat in, which I rarely do), keep your sunglasses on (well, if it is daylight out, of course). If something happens or someone suspicious comes in they cannot tell if you are looking at them. FBI crime statistics show that in many cases people in stores, restaurants, banks, etc. are shot simply because the victim was looking at the attacker. If they cannot see your eyes, then they cannot tell you are watching them and prepared to take on the threat if necessary.

Have you recently been looking for real estate? You know, buying a new house or even looking to purchase a building or office space for a business. In 2012 there was a warning to realtors that violent crimes committed on real estate agents were on the rise. The article posted in the Realtormag.com stated that in 2011 there were 16 assaults and 7 murders committed on professional realtors throughout the country. You can read the entire article “HERE“, but the author also cited the following: “REALTORS® are targeted because they are crimes of opportunity, says Marcia Peot, a full time police officer and chief safety officer with StreetSafe, a mobile safety app. The rise in offenses also has to do with the economy putting more people into desperate financial situations.” So, to my realtor friends and those of you looking at real estate, same rule applies as previously stated… stay vigilent! Be aware of your surroundings… be aware of what could be hiding in the closets, attics and garages.

Finally, how do you answer the door when the exterminator, pizza delivery person or the UPS or mail carrier rings your door bell? If you have kids do they go running to the door and answer it? BIG MISTAKE!!! What about if they know grandma and grandpa are coming for a visit and we assume that is them ringing the door bell?! You go to the door, do NOT let your kids open that door! Are you expecting the exterminator? If not, send him away and tell them, through the door, that this time isn’t convenient and you will set up an appoinment! NEVER let anyone come to your home without an appointment. Don’t let a salesman talk his way into your home… “Oh, I was in the neighborhood and and thought you might need some new gutters!” Did you just order a pizza? Great… YOU go to the door and be prepared! Did you know that according to pizza.com (yes, there is such a website) there is not a day that goes by in which a pizza delivery person is not robbed?! In fact, as with realtors, pizza delivery robberies are on a dramtic climb! You can check out that article here at “Pizza Delivery Robberies On The Climb”. At my house I have three very vocal announcers. If they see someone walk by the house or walk up to the house they are immediately at the front door letting me know someone is there and announcing to the person on the other side of the door that they know he or she is there! And, every single time I answer my door, yes, I have a gun either in my hand or on my belt with my hand on it!

So, my friends, no matter what you are doing, where you are going, you have got to make certain in this day and age, that you are vigilent. Pay attention to your surroundings. Are there any changes around your house? Has anything been moved? When you are running or walking do you go the same direction every time? I know it’s hard to do sometimes, but when you are at the gas station or walking out of the bank or a store, STAY OFF YOUR PHONE! Coming out of the grocery store or SAM’s CLub? DO NOT have your keys out and ready and DO NOT open your automatic lift gate until you are right at your vehicle. You know the old axiom… an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! Look, some of these things my be silly to you now, especially if you are not a concealed carrier yet, but trust me, changing your habits and paying close attention to your surroundings at all times may one day save your life or the life of a friend or family member!

As always friends, stay focused!!!