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American Marksman Southeast Regionals 2016

As some of you may know, I had the privilege of attending the southeast regional qualifying events for the new American Marksman competition and television show.  It was held this past weekend at the Civilian Marksmanship Program’s Marksmanship Park in Talladega, AL.  Shooters from Florida, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee showed up to determine the best amature marksman in the 5 state area.

I can humbly state that it was not me.  I finished well in 2 events, but turned in poorer than expected results in the 3 remaining events.  Every time I attend a new event I learn tons of new things, and this event was no different.  Some of the things I learned were as follows: my body does not perform the same way it did 20 years ago, accuracy very often trumps speed, I need to practice outdoors more, and you can’t expect to do well if you don’t practice.  Most importantly, I reaffirmed that the shooting community and the shooting culture are made up of some of the nicest people you could ever hope to meet.

Our squad met on Saturday morning as 10 strangers who were all competing for the same goal.  By the last stage on Sunday afternoon, we had more friends than we showed up with.  We ended up cheering each other’s victories, and sharing the pain of a poor performance.  We gave each other tips and encouragement as we tried to plan the best way to shoot a stage.  While the anti-gunners tell us that we’re social outcasts and dangerous loners, I saw families and strangers gathered under shade tents smiling and joking.  I saw experienced shooters helping inexperienced shooters work on skills to help them be more competitive.  I also saw a lot of people volunteer their time on a hot July weekend in Alabama to help make this event fun and safe for the participants.

The shining star at this event, by far, was the facility.  The CMPs new Marksmanship Park is amazing in its design, and technology.  The 500-acre facility, located two miles from the world-famous Talladega Superspeedway, features a 600 yard rifle range with targets at 200, 300 and 600 yards, a 100 yard multi-purpose range and a 50 yard pistol range. It also includes 15 action pistol bays and a trap field, 5-stand field and a 15-station sporting clays field, all with automated trap machines.  State of the art scoring systems mean no walking downrange to score or reset targets, or having to work in the butts at the 600 yard range.  Golf carts are available for rent to travel between ranges, and a beautifully designed and appointed clubhouse with training rooms and a pro shop looks out over the 600 yard rifle range.

The American Marksman Regional Qualifying consisted of 5 separate events, the .22 Rimfire Pistol, the .22 Rimfire Rifle, the .223 Gong, the Crimson Trace Dark House, and the 9mm Peek-A-Boo.  Shooters best times were taken from each event to provide a total score and determine the overall winner for each of the four divisions.  I competed in the Men’s Open Division.  There were other divisions for Military/Law Enforcement, Women shooters, and Junior shooters.

We started Day 1 at the .22 Rimfire Pistol range.  The course of fire was simple.  String 1 was shoot 2 rounds into each of 5 bullseyes at 10 yards using a 2 handed hold.  String 2 was firing 1 round into each of the 5 bullseyes at 10 yards using only your strong hand.  String 3 was a repeat of String 1.  Then we shot all three strings a second time on a fresh target.  The pistol used was a Tactical Solutions Pac-Lite Pistol using Eley Force ammo.  We were the first squad to shoot these pistols and aside from the first shooter having a malfunction after 2 rounds, the guns performed well.  They are, however, very lightweight and can be very off-putting for someone used to shooting heavier target pistols.

After the handgun range, we moved to the .223 Gong event.  Using a Ruger American Rifle chambered in .223 Remington, shooters had to strike an 8″ diameter steel gong at 100 yards.  Shooters had a total of 10 rounds to shoot the gong once from each of 3 positions, off-hand, seated, and prone.  Shooters were further challenged by having a 20 second time limit for each position.  This stage was challenging, but was made easier by the use of a Burris FF E-1 2-7X scope.  The ammunition was provided by Aguila and was standard 55gr FMJ.  None of the shooters in our squad had any issues hitting the gong or using the rifle provided.

The last event on day 1 was the Crimson Trace Dark House.  This was a stage rooted in action pistol competition, especially USPSA.  Competitors fired the CZ P-09 9mm pistol.  Targets were arrayed 5 yards in front of a barricade.  String 1 consisted of 3 targets directly in front of the barricade, and 2 targets located on either side of the barricade, down a “darkened” hallway/tunnel.  The shooter started at the low ready behind the barricade, and at the buzzer, fired 2 rounds on each of the center targets, and 2 rounds on either the left or the right targets through a hole in the center of the barricade.  For String 2,  the shooter started at the low ready behind the barricade.  At the buzzer, the shooter fired 2 rounds on each of the targets on the side that had not been shot at previously.  The shooter had to shoot the gun from the side of the barricade, while looking through the center port in the barricade.  In other words, the shooters had to use the Crimson Trace laser mounted on the gun to get a sight picture and could not use the sights on the gun.  Needless to say, this slowed a lot of the shooters down quite a bit.

Day 2 began on the 9mm Peek-A-Boo stage at 11:30am.  This was a simple stage.  The competitors used a Kel-Tec Sub-2000 rifle chambered in 9mm to shoot 5 8″ steel plates.  We started String 1 behind a barricade 15 yards from the targets.  At the buzzer, we had to shoot 1 round into each steel plate.  We were not given extra ammo to make up our misses.  String 2 was identical, except that we had to shoot from our weak shoulder.  String 3 was a repeat of String 1.  Shooting a rifle from your weak side shoulder around a barricade is not as easy as it sounds.  Especially if you’ve never practiced it.  Many competitors failed to ring the plates 15 times that weekend.

We finished Day 2, and the competition, on the .22 Rimfire Rifle range.  The rifle event was essentially the same as the pistol event and the rifle event during the local qualifying, with 1 small exception.  During the 5 round string, shooters had to again use their weak side shoulder to fire the rifle.  The rifle used was the Tactical Solutions X-Ring 10/22.  This is the range where most shooters had the hardest time.  It was not a particularly difficult course of fire, but the rifle turned out to be very unreliable.  This in turn lead to shooters incurring misses due to ammo loss after clearing malfunctions.  It is unclear whether a different ammo would have performed better in the rifle, or if the rifle’s precision tolerances were simply the cause.  What is clear is that many competitors came off that range with a look of despair on their faces.

My final thoughts on the American Marksman competition are simple to state.  A lot of people in the shooting community thought it was unfair to exclude high ranking shooters from the different organized shooting disciplines.  I say it was refreshing to come out and compete against people who may not shoot on a regular basis.  I also think that more people are likely to participate since they are not going up against the Rob Leathams of the world, and more people participating means more people enjoying the shooting sports, and that’s never a bad thing.  That being said, to do well at this competition, you have to practice.  A lot!  I, for one, will be practicing hard for next year.  Below is a video of me shooting all the stages, and you can follow the link to see the overall standings for the Men’s Open Division of the Southeast Regionals.

-Jeff Levan

Men’s Open Division Results

Your Gun rights under attack

Your Gun Rights under attack

I have been grieved by the turnout after the coward Muslim terrorists murdered innocent Americans in California. There seemed to be a mad rush to get a gun. The reality is that the evil around you everyday is much more menacing. Fear not! We are responsible…not fearful!!!

Likewise, our current administration is determined to take our guns and rights away…not to worry…yet.

Do you know what the NRA really is? It is the most powerful lobby group in the United States. Why…because over 100,000,000 Americans own guns and support them. These 100,000,000 people are also the backbone of this great country.

Heck, since we opened we have bought a table at the Clay County Friends of the NRA and spend almost $2,000 a year on that table. Though it is great fun…I am trying to make a point!

Put into perspective, if each gun owning American gave the NRA just $10 a year, the NRA’s annual working budget would be a $1,000,000,000 a year (yep, ONE BILLION DOLLARS!). The NRA is powerful!

Politicians run when the NRA shows up.

This current gun grab by our president has no teeth. The only thing he was able to do was once again grow the government…which we will have to pay for…

The below article by USA Today (know telling us about this toothless attack made them cry) defines what the current attack really means…nothing; it is just dust in the wind…


If you like to collect and shoot guns, buy and shoot them. If you feel it important to protect yourself and your family, buy a gun and practice. If you feel you are the person standing in the gap (you are), act on it, get a gun, practice and be prepared. BUT don’t buy a gun out of fear!

I used to think the politicians were the sickness. I have decided they are the symptom…we are the sickness. As a country, we voted them into office, sheesh. At the last election the congress approval rating was in the teens yet 93% were re elected.

Get involved, teach your kids, be active and MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

The Lord Bless You and see you at the range.




The below is a wonderful article and video about carrying a semi-automatic with a round in the chamber.

Before we talk about that I would like to talk in more detail about other topics the author briefly hits on.

Situational awareness:  We speak of this often but it is critical.  The more aware we are of our surroundings and environment, the earlier we can spot trouble.  Situational awareness is key.  Situational awareness is defined as a state of general awareness that allows you to take the element of surprise away from a threat to your personal security.

The bad guy needs to get close to you to attack you, situational awareness is paramount and will allow you to maintain distance.  Guns are standoff tools and if someone can get close to you, you have probably lost.

With Situational Awareness you will be able to spot other cues of an eminent attack.

Cues on an eminent attack.

A potential attack will probably will start with the interview. This is the time to stop the attack.  The best attack is the one that didn’t take place!  It may now be time to bring out “Mr. Ugly”.  Remember…VERY IMPORTANT; if you carry a gun you must reconcile with yourself that under the right circumstance, you would be willing to fire on another human being.  This is not a natural act for us, law abiding citizens, and it must be front, center and predetermined.

During the interview you may see other signs.

Target Glancing.

Weight shift.


Hands through the hair or rubbing the face or mouth.

Looking at his nine or three o’clock.

Tugging at cover garment.

Movement to the waist band.

Continuing to approach.

Watch the attached video. What you’re seeing is called the interview. The best fight is the one you are not in. You should already be at a heightened sense of awareness as the bad guy is trespassing and suspiciously looking at your truck. You will notice when the bad guy first turns, he tugs at his garment. This is a HUGE telltale and one we speak of during our concealed weapons course…that said, it is now time to react as it is probable that the bad guy is carrying a weapon!

Both Jeff and David are twice as fast as I am getting to their guns. David carries appendix at between 10 and 11 o’clock; David is left-handed. Jeff carries at 3 o’clock; Jeff is right handed.  Both ways to carry are fast to draw. I carried at 7 o’clock…I am left handed. I carry here because I find it very comfortable and most concealable; but it also makes me much slower in presentation. From the time of threat to the first shot fired both Jeff and David have fired in under one second. It takes me almost 2 seconds. That said I would lose in a fair fight…but we should not be in a fair fight! In the incident regarding the video, when he first tugged on his shirt, it is time to act. Put your hand on your gun. By doing this you have done several things; you have upped the possibility that you are going to be in a gunfight but you have also made it clear you are armed and you are not going to be a victim, by leaving the gun in the holster, you have also not brandished your weapon and pointed you deadly weapon at another person…BUT, you have shaved two seconds off the time it takes the average concealed carrier to get to their gun!

Remember, most bad guys are not heroes and don’t want to be in a gunfight; they are looking for a victim.  You have made it clear you are not going to be a victim. You will also notice when he goes to his firearm it takes him about two seconds to get the gun out. With your hand already on your weapon you should be able to get your first shot off in under one second, well ahead of his draw.  Remember, it is hard to out draw a drawn gun and if you are practiced, more than likely this bad guy will lose…if you are mentally prepared and act!

Now what you’ve done is threatening and when the crisis is over you will call the police. You will tell them what happened and why you did what you did. Watch the video several times.

We do not want to be attacked or injured and sadly, the threat of force may be what is needed.  But that threat may keep you from shooting someone or more importantly, being shot!  If needed, act with aggression.  DO NOT BE PASSIVE!

Now, to the empty chamber.

I carry my firearm hot, ready to fire. If you know any policeman, I know many, ask them how they carry their weapon; it is hot ready to fire.  IF it is good enough for our LEO’s it is definitely good enough for me! Now it may take time to build up to this point but when you’re ready, carry weapon ready to fire.

I had bought two semi-automatic pistols for my mother. She would not carry them hot nor would she let me teach her how to clear jams. I bought her revolver, which solved both problems, which she loves. The cylinder is full and the gun is hot ready to fire. Nothing has changed except her minds idea. It is all in our mind. Guns cannot go off by themselves excluding pre 1986 manufactured guns. The gun in a holster is a very safe place as a trigger is 100% protected, if you have a quality holster. Finger discipline is very important and must be learned.

Statistically if you need your weapon, it will be up close. Learn to draw your gun using your strong hand only. Curl your fingers and scoop; use your fingers and your thumb. Statistically you will need your weak hand to push off the threat. Do not practice by reaching across to pull up your garment with your weak hand. With a little practice you can draw very quickly.

The author talks about force on force events. We have one coming in October and it is a must! I have been involved in many Force on Force events and what the author said I agree with; you will never use two hands, you will not use your sights, you will shoot from the hip, half hip and sometime shoulder point. The gunfight will be over in less than three seconds. And you will move!

We teach practical shooting every other Saturday. We will learn to shoot from the hip, half hip and shoulder point, you will practice drawing from concealment, moving and using cover. You will learn to thread focus shoot; point shoot. It is very fast, all can do it. You will be able to shoot on the move and if you can see the threat you can hit threat.

Enjoy the article and watch the video…twice!

See you at the range.

Remember, we are not talking about fear but responsibility.  We are parents and our wives and children need us.

Nehemiah 4:14…read it!


Threat Focused Shooting/Practical Shooting/Point Shooting/Instinctive Shooting

A good friend and tremendous firearms instructor posted the below story on Threat Focused Shooting.  A great read

Threat Focused Shooting/Practical Shooting/Point Shooting

What we are going to work on tomorrow and why we will do it.

This skill is natural and instinctive. It is not just a skill for warriors but for wives, mothers, grandparents…everyone who carries a firearm.

Article posted by Mr. Robin Brown

The Purpose of Instincitive/Point Shooting
The purpose of instinctive/point shooting training is not to develop marksmanship; it is not to compete with other shooters; it is not to punch holes in paper targets; and it certainly is not to hunt small game. The purpose is to enable one to quickly and effectively stop someone who is trying to make you a victim.

In short, instincitive/point shooting trains people to win in a gunfight. The problem is that the innocent citizen or cop must wait until a predator makes an overt act; one cannot shoot another on mere suspicion. This places the citizen or cop in a situation where one must react to anothers actions.

In a gunfight, the aggressor has the advantage and the defender is usually a second or two behind. Thus the defender is already coming in second; and there are no second place winners! (Bill Jordan)

In order to win, given this terrible disadvantage, the defender must be able to overcome this lag time with a combination od speed and accuracy. This is what we teach: speed and accuracy in an armed encounter. Instinctive/Point Shooting trains you to win in a gunfight, even when the aggressor has the advantage. There are no rules in a gunfight/knifefight/streetfight. There are only facts, which if understood, can give you a winning edge.

Fact: Nearly all gunfights occur at distances of under three meters.
Fact: Most ginfights are over in two to three seconds.
Fact: A high percentage of gunfights occur in dim light or where sights are hardly visible.
Fact: In a spontaneous life-threatening situation, the body undergoes changes which deteriorate fine motor skills, while vision is FOCUSED EXCLUSIVELY on the threat.

Therefore: To win in a gunfight requires great speed and accuracy in drawing and firing the gun at close range without the use of sights. This is sometimes called instinctive shooting/point shooting/threat focused shooting.

Violence, whether recreational or otherwise, is part of the culture in western society. Therefore, whether we like it or not, violence is going to be a feature of our lives for a long time to come. Rather than to ignore it or hide away from it, we must learn to handle it. If we wish to stay in this beautiful but troubled country, we have to learn to deal with the problem.

The only objective way we can live with the violence is to avoid it, deflect it, or reduce its impact by being prepared for it, because it will not go away. This is a terrible notion for genteel folk who just want to live in peace, but one we can no longer ignore.

As usual, it is nature that holds the key. The human animal’s natural instincts, which include spontaneous reaction to sudden attack, are formidable powers which will usually ensure survival, but only if harnessed correctly. In my experience, there are two factors which constantly interfere with our primordial ability to defend ourselves, inappropriate equipment and training, which have killed (and continue to kill) many good guys.

After many long years involvement in personal security matters, I have reached the conclusion that in order to give full reign to the natural survival instincts of the human body, equipment and training must be kept simple as possible.

Recent history has shown that as far as attacks on farmers in our country are concerned, attackers average three to five in a group. Attacks on families inside there homes in urban areas appear to be no different.

The average attack occurs at very close range, and is over within a few seconds. This suggests that a handgun with sufficient firepower is called for. Attacks are sudden and with out warning. A huge bonus during such attack is a concealed handgun capable of immediate action, one that requires no time-wasting two handed-loading operation or a frantic search for a cunningly hidden safety catch.

What is needed is a handgun that can be pulled , pointed, and fired repeatedly without fuss or bother, as well as capable of being carried safely whilst in this ultra-ready mode.

Both the training offered and the equipment recommended by Instinctive/Point/Threat Focused Shooting are caculated to keep people safe whilst at the same time impacting minimally on their daily lives.

(This article was translated from hebrew to english by one of my private students who is a full time firearms instructor with a major city agency in California [ over 1400 officers ] and is reprinted with permission from Major Avi Nardia, Israeli Counterterroism Unit (Yamam)

Use of Force

Use of Force.

I tell people, “Guns are like airbags, if either go off something terrible has happened. It may or may not be your fault. You may or may not have been able to prevent it. But it will be bad. Regardless though, both could save your life.”

Before we discuss use of force, it is important to remember nothing changes when you carry a gun. You are not Super Man and that S on your chest will not stop bullets. Don’t go out to investigate bumps in the night. Try not to get involved in altercations. It may not be a good idea to intervene in an armed robbery…etc. CALL THE POLICE! They will come with friends, wear body armor and they are trained to deal with these issues…you and I are not!

Here is how we will live…

• We will live a lifestyle of:
• Avoidance
• Evasion
• De-escalation
Last, we will fight to protect our lives and the lives of our families! For me, that is it. I am not a policeman and my view is, “my gun is for me and my family”.

• When can you use deadly force? Here is the criteria as I see it. Bad Guy has the ability/means to cause you harm (weapon), the opportunity to do so (proximity) and has indicated his/her inclination to do so through word or deed (motive/jeopardy).

Here is when the State of Florida says you can use your gun…
• Deadly force means force that is likely to cause death or great bodily harm.
• Justifiable use of Deadly force (you can use your weapon in defense of a forcible felony): Forcible felony means treason; murder; manslaughter; sexual battery; carjacking; home-invasion robbery, robbery; burglary; arson; kidnapping; aggravated assault; aggravated battery; aggravated stalking; aircraft piracy; unlawful throwing, placing or discharging of a destructive device or bomb; and any other felony which involves the use or threat of physical force or violence against any individual.

Holy Smokes…we live in the Wild West! Well, not exactly…remember Mr. Zimmerman? Here is what you need to remember. Were you or another in fear of losing your/their life or in fear of great bodily harm? Well, from there it is going to be tricky as more than likely, witnesses will try not to be witnesses (the human factor) and the rest who are going to try and make an accurate decision weren’t there. Example: will the policemen who first show up think your life was in danger? Will his department? Will the States Attorney? What about a Grand Jury? What about a judge and jury? The whole thing is very convoluted and there is no guarantee? The good part (like Zimmerman) is that you will be alive to fight, defend yourself in court or go to jail…but in all, you and your loved ones might be alive because of your prudent decision to fight?

Remember, our defensive action will be traumatic, expensive and time consuming.
We may be arrested
We may lose our weapon
We may go to court
We may go to jail
Guns are a last chance effort to save our lives or the lives of our loved ones. That’s it!

Now, if you use force and it appears it was justified, you MAY be immune to civil suit but remember, the parents or families of these fine young men will say their son’s were turning a new leaf…you should have just given them your money or whatever!? Further, if you had to shoot their choir boy son, you should have just shot them in the arm and winged them.
With immunity, it just got a little harder, it appears it will now be up to you to prove you were in the right, not the State Attorney’s job to prove you were in the wrong…wow. Our system, for me, appears to be slanted in the wrong direction…bet I could get a few LEO’s to agree with me.

Here is the link to the court’s opinion:…/bretherick-v-state-2015-fla-…/ Our job just got harder.

There is nothing good in the use of your weapon except you and your family are alive…well, that is really all that matters. BUT, the injury of another person, even a bad guy, and the aftermath caused is bad.

I hope you found this article interesting and helpful.

The Lord Bless You and your family.

See you at the range.


Shooting in South Carolina

Shooting in South Carolina.

There are over 90,000,000 gun owners in the United States…no telling how many guns are out there? In America, few places make you register firearms. Though the liberal might think it a great idea to ban guns…well, that cat is out of the bag and good luck putting back in. There is just no possible way to find all and worse, only you and I…the law abiding, will follow the laws. The bad guys will still have guns…being in a gun fight without a gun is probably not a good idea!

I put a story of a shooting that happened in Aurora Colorado, on our website, where a felon had just gotten out of jail, got a gun, killed people and was in a church parking lot shooting others when an off duty policeman..woman, interceded and killed the bad guy right there…hooray policemen (the shooting only made their local news). Of course we all know that bad guys can’t get guns…umm.

The most dangerous place for us to be are gun free zones. The church at Charleston is a very good example. I have done over 120 free concealed weapons courses at my church…doubt we will be attacked.

Likewise, there is only one safer place in Clay County to be than our shop…that would be the sheriff’s office. We encourage concealed carry at our shop…would be a very bad place to be the bad guy.

In our Concealed Weapons Course, we listen to an actual call from an elderly woman to the police. She knows the bad guy is out there. Police are coming but when they get there they find a dead body. I personally believe a firearm may have changed that outcome?

The media only tells us of evil (they put crazy and stupid in the same category), but did you know for every bad guy that uses a gun a good guy uses it 80 times to protect him/her and family? Why doesn’t anyone talk about this?

Cain killed Abel way before there were guns…he then lied about it. That theme continues today. Our policemen have very secure jobs; we can’t stop stupid, crazy, or evil.

My view, the only way to stop someone with a gun is with a gun. Of course others may have a different view?

In the sixties, we took the Bible out of schools. We are now taking it out of everywhere else. We are in a moral free-fall and families are being affected.

The killer of the innocent people in Charleston posted many things on social media. Most should have been a red flag…nothing was done. Worse, he told his friends he was planning on killing a lot of people…remember, all it takes for evil to prevail is that good men do nothing.

I believe we over medicate our children and if you look, there seems to be a theme attached to these mass shootings and psychiatric drugs, yet somehow it is always the guns fault? Rifles are used in some of these horrendous murders…of course they are terrible and visceral but did you know blunt objects, used in murders, kill far more people?

I had a banker who once told me he and the bank had to make a moral decision and they both chose not to deal with guns…I had no idea guns were moral…I thought human beings were moral and guns were just a hammer…a tool…who knew!?

I have heard that if a gun was in the home, children would die. Statistics put death of children with guns at the very bottom…under bikes; .2% while cars are 43%. I think drowning was 17%…hmm.

Did you know that when Florida created the “shall issue” versus “may issue” concealed weapons license (made it possible for all law abiding people to get a license to carry a weapon), murder went down by 40% the next year? Texas statistics are even more impressive. Likewise, where we can’t have a gun or license the statistics get scary.

Chicago has the highest murder rate in the country; highest policemen being shot rate too…yet you and I can’t carry a gun (that is starting to change).

Several years ago, a law abiding citizen in Polk County was at an ATM late at night (don’t do that), three men, who had guns, tried to rob him. The good guy too had a gun and shot at least one of them. The Sheriff was quoted as saying, “the bad guys need to find another way to make a living, more and more honest law abiding citizens are carrying guns and the bad guys are going to get shot.”

I am friends with many of our law enforcement officers (amazing and wonderful guys). I CAN tell you there is evil, crazy and stupid all around us. Few of what these brave men do makes the papers because our heroes intervene…but it is out there.

I could go on. I could add links to my post. There are so many statistics (history lesson) that refute what the left and media says. I really don’t care what others do but I am not interested in having people, who may have armed security, tell you and me what we are going to do.

I carry a firearm, I study the law, I study mindset and tactics and I faithfully PRACTICE.

Most of us live wonderful busy lives. We work, love and support our families, help our community and never see the bad…statistically we are safe but to have an average you will have highs and lows…it can happen to us.

Did you know a gun is shown over 2.5 million times a year to stop a bad guy…there is evil all around us!

Our families are breaking down and are under attack. Community and neighborhood pride and care of its people, waning. Godly principles, which made our country great seem to be unfashionable.

We will take care of our families, raise our children to be better than we are, help our community and give back…we can and will change our nation.

BASICS: God, family, community…that is what made our country great.

Remember, ours is not a life of fear, but of responsibility. We are responsible for our families, neighbors and friends.


Hand Held Flashlights; small, bright, practical and both a defensive and offensive tool

Hand Held Flashlights

Flashlights have gotten very bright and convenient to use and carry. When I grew up we had five cell Mag Lights; big and not too bright.

EVERYONE should carry a small flashlight. Mine is about 3.5 inches long and is 300 lumens (that is bright). It sits very comfortably in my pocket next to my tactical (tacticool) Leatherman pocket knife. It has three brightness settings and a strobe. These lights are not very expensive and have gotten smaller and brighter…mine is old.

Problem, if all you carry is a firearm, every issue is a nail and the only tool you have is a hammer. Flashlights are a wonderful tactical defensive or offensive weapon. Don’t believe me, take one of these lights outside at night, let your eyes adjust to the dimness and ask your mate or friend to shine the light in your eyes for just a second and then turn the light off. WOW, it will hurt and you won’t be able to see for several seconds. You will also be disoriented (the idea is to determine if they (potential threat) are actually a threat, decide your course of action or just run away! Further, most of these small lights have a serrated bezel (think cookie cutter). Terrible weapon to the face.

Even if you have tacticool night sights on your gun we must KNOW what we are pointing our gun at; it may not be a bad guy. Though our LE carry lights on their weapons…we are not LE. With a gun mounted light, in order to use the light, you are now pointing a (hopefully) loaded and chambered deadly weapon at someone…that may not be a good idea.

Lights are tacticool tools. There are several ways to use them. Unlike daytime shooting, if you are “pieing” around a corner, you are probably shining the light on a wall and it of course will reflect light back at you…you are now a great target. When you reload, turn it off and move. If you use it, use it briefly, turn it off and move to reuse it.

I practice with a light and thought I was pretty proficient. I then took a course with our SWAT instructor and Certified LE Trainer, Shawn Marx, on how to use a light tactically…I actually knew nothing. It was an amazing class.

Everyone should carry a small light. I gave one to Sherry (runs the company), gave one to my mother and to my sweet heart Anna. Flashlights are also practical with day to day issues and are so small they are not inconvenient to carry.

Below are three good articles on lights. When you have time go and look at them…umm, read them!

If you are interested in taking a flashlight course with Shawn, let us know and we will set one up…I will join you and will take it again, I feel it was that important.

Lord Bless You and see you at the range.


Living a safe life…practical and pretty basic

Living a safe life…practical and pretty basic

This is what Stonewall Jackson said…
“Captain, my religious belief teaches me to feel as safe in battle as in bed. God has fixed the time for my death. I do not concern myself about that, but to be always ready, no matter when it may overtake me.” He added, after a pause, looking me full in the face: “That is the way all men should live, and then all would be equally brave.”  That said, Jesus instructed us not to jump off the roof to see if God will save us.   I believe what General Stonewall Jackson said, but I also believe what the Scriptures say. We ARE responsible for our safety.

Most of staying safe is just being practical, as is most of life.  Remember, there is a reason the cute little bunny profiles a hawk, right?

Statistically we are very safe.  Sadly, to have an average there are somethings that can’t be helped…regardless of what we do.  It is for those “lightning strike” events…yes, I was hit by lightning and those odds were very low, that we carry a gun.  Believe it or not, as we get older we are less likely to be involved in a forcible felony than the young; heck, I am in bed at 8:00.  My mother used to tell me, “what good can you do past 11:00 at night”…it is true!  Don’t believe me, ask a policeman.  Anyway, single family home owners are statistically safer than apartment dwellers.  Statistics are a fascinating thing but don’t tell the whole story.  Our safety mainly lies with life choices; if you want to see who you are, look at your friends.  If you don’t like what you see find different friends.  Alcohol and drugs play a factor also.  The good news is that 99% of us have good friends, live moral lives, don’t stay out till dawn and don’t abuse alcohol or drugs.  That said there are some basic, very practical things we can do to stay safe.

Be aware of your surroundings.  Situational awareness is a wonderful thing! Besides being aware of all the negative and potential bad around you, you will see all of God’s wonder…that alone should be enough to encourage you to be aware of our surroundings!  Remember, it is all here for your good pleasure.  By being aware of what is around you, you can spot potential evil early and maintain distance. Distance is definitely your friend.  The bad guy needs to be close to you…very inconvenient yelling at you at 30 feet to “give me your money or else”.  With our very busy lives: texting, phone calls, children, and preoccupation with work or life’s pressures makes it is hard to maintain situation awareness sometimes; you must practice to make this a part of your lives. You’ll have to try! Make a point of it.

Firearms are a standoff tool and as people get closer they become less effective. If someone can get his hand on your gun, there is a high probability that you will lose.

We will live a lifestyle of avoidance, evasion and de-escalation.

Avoidance. Example; don’t go to a bad area of town to get gas. Don’t go out late at night to get money from an ATM machine. Makes sense to me?

Evasion. If you feel like you’re entering a bad situation, if the people you are heading towards make your alarms go off…don’t be there, go somewhere else. Pretty practical?

De-escalation. If you carry a firearm, you have huge responsibilities. If you have road rage issues, do not get a gun.  You may put yourself in a position that you created that truly does put your life in danger and are forced to fire on another human being.

Remember, we are NOT Superman, spies or policemen.  The S on your chest will not stop bullets…there is a reason our law enforcement wear bullet proof vests.  That said, if we hear a bump in the night outside, don’t seek it out, call the police.  They will come with several of their well-armed friends…all wearing body armor.  If you see someone breaking into your car, call the police.  Though you have every right to confront that person, you may put your life in danger and be forced to shoot another human being or worse yet, he shoots you!  Remember, that is what insurance is for.  Be very cautious of getting involved in unknown altercations between people.  You may not know all the facts and what appears to be one thing may be another; again, call the police.

Areas to be vigilant. Walking from a department store or grocery store to your car. Getting into your car and sitting there before you drive away. Stairwells. Parking garages. ATM machines. Pumping gas.  Be aware of the surroundings.

Simple procedures. Try not to text or get preoccupied with a phone call as you walk through the parking lot. Don’t sit in your car with the door open balancing your checkbook or other. Don’t wait until you get to your car to get your keys out of your purse or pants.

In the parking lot if you feel you’re being followed (awareness), what to do? Circle back! Two things will happen; you’ll know if you are being followed and you will get back to safety, people. At the car if someone approaches don’t ask, “may I help you?” That encourages a person to come closer. A bad guy needs to be close to you.  Again, it would be very convenient for him to stand off 30 feet and shout, “give me your money or I’ll hurt you.” Say something like, “stop there, what do you want?”  Those statements make it clear you will not be a victim and you are not prey.  If the potential threat continues to advance, raise your tone of voice. Your fence is your first line of defense. The fence is an outstretched arm with palm toward the threat. It is both a visual stop command and your first point of defense, hand between you and the bad guy. Double fence would be both hands outward palm facing the threat.  Try and move keeping your car, shopping cart or other between you and the potential threat.

When to draw your gun?  Only you will know when the time demands this action but your gun is safest in the holster. Sadly it takes the average person about two seconds just to get their hand on their gun from concealment (a man can cover 20 in two seconds…that’s a scary thought). If the fence and demand doesn’t work the next step would be fence with hand on gun. You’re definitely getting closer to being in a gunfight by doing this but it does several things, it lets the bad guy know that you were armed and able to defend yourself; that you will not be a victim. Most bad guys want victims and you just made it clear you do not intend to be a victim…they want easy prey. The gun in your holsters is also harder for the bad guy to take from you and if you’re wrong about the bad guy…good guy, you have not brandished (pointed) a deadly weapon at an innocent person. At this point it’s important to remember to keep your head on a swivel. As law abiding citizens this may be hard (we become threat focused) as we do not train that much and may never again be in this situation but we need to be aware of what’s around us. We need to use our peripheral vision and swivel our head, there may be another bad guy! Only you will know if and when you need to present your firearm but remember, we will be reacting to an action and will probably be playing catch up. Statistically, people who have guns pointed at them or are shot, stop fighting. Not because they can’t fight but because they don’t want to be shot or shot again. Those that want to fight may not stop after being shot once, or even more! Our desire is not to kill or injure people but to stop a deadly attack and stay safe. A bad guy shot may or may not eventually die but we may be injured too…that’s not good. Remember, anybody worth shooting one time is worth shooting a whole bunch of times (poor humor but does make a point!). Just know that handguns are terrible event stoppers.  The good news is that most bad guys don’t want to be in a gun fight so your ramping up to the point you are pointing a gun may be enough…

I have a saying, “Guns, like airbags, each may save your life. But if either go off something terrible has happened. It may or may not be your fault. There may or may not have been something you could have done to stop it. But it will be bad.”   For the most part both are invisible and remain inert; invisible. The good news is that both could save your life and the lives of people you love.

We must know what our rights are as defined by the statutes in Florida. Without knowing these rights you will be slower to respond (we are “do gooders” and we want to do what is right, we don’t want to break the law) and you may only have a fraction of a second to respond. Important note, if you’re forced to put your hand on your firearm, if you’re forced to point your weapon at somebody, or if you’re forced to fire on another human being, the minute you’re safe and the threat is over you WILL call the police. The first to call is usually initially viewed as the good guy. The last thing you want when police get there are their guns drawn and pointed at you, to be put face down in the dirt and handcuffed…that sounds terrible. Eventually the dust will settle and they will see you as the good guy but by calling first you may circumvent all of this.

Practice! Practice your draw and practice your firing. Know that your firearm will work as designed. This will take many rounds fired though your gun. With practice drawing and firing your gun, you will create confidence; confidence in your ability and your gun’s ability. Confidence will allow you to move more quickly. Without an understanding of the law, your rights and without knowing your ability…you will be slow in a time where you may only have a second to respond and win. Sadly we are not Superman and the gun may not save us. There are no silver bullets; remember, if you need your weapon, more than likely you will be reacting to an action…you will be behind. You will need to practice drawing from conceal (cover garment), moving before you draw, fire multiple shots. Your movement will change the dynamics and cause the bad guy to now react to your actions…changing the dynamics.  A moving target is also harder to hit.  You will create more distance.  You will move to cover (cover stops bullets).  These things cannot be accomplished without practice so PRACTICE. If you choose to carry a firearm, you must be responsible. You must be prepared. Remember your bullets do not know they missed and they are looking for a home. If you want to be afraid, stand in a Publix or Winn-Dixie parking lot and look around. Your backstop will be grandparents, parents and children. That thought alone should give you pause and encourage you to train.

Statistically we are all very safe. The problem with statistics is there is an average and in creating an average there’s extremes on both sides. There is indeed evil in the world. There is indeed crazy in the world. It is in those two things that our policemen have a confident and secure job. Remember, it is a lot better to have a gun and not need it than to need it and not have it.

I hope you found this interesting and helpful.


Basic Firearms Safety

Basic Gun Safety

Working at a gun store and range allows me to see shooters from many different shooting disciplines, as well as shooters of all skill levels.  The one thing I can say is consistent across all groups is that we all need to pay more attention to the 4 Basic Rules of Gun Safety.

Let’s start by identifying the 4 Basic Rules of Safe Gun Handling.  These rules are as follows:

-All guns are always loaded.

-Never point the muzzle at anything you are not willing to destroy.

-Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.

-Be sure of your target and what’s beyond.

The language used in these rules is plain and not very technical, but many new shooters don’t fully understand them, and many experienced shooters become complacent over time.  Let’s take some time to talk about them in depth.

All Guns Are Always Loaded

What do we mean by “All guns are always loaded?”  Does this mean that every gun we own is kept with a full magazine and a round in the chamber at all times?  Certainly not.  What it means is that anytime we pick up a firearm, we treat it as a loaded gun until we personally verify that it is not loaded.  We don’t take others at their word, we don’t trust that no one has handled the gun since the last time we picked it up, and we don’t rely on ourselves or our memory.

Here at the shop we don’t keep loaded firearms in the showcase or on the wall, but the first thing every associate does when a customer asks to handle a gun is to open the action and verify the gun is unloaded before handing it to the customer.  When customers or students are handling firearms off the range, we don’t allow any ammunition in the area, so there is no chance of them loading a gun.  Yet when they hand a firearm to a member of our staff, the first thing we do is open the action and verify there are no rounds in the gun.  This is the level of execution you need to have when applying this rule.

Never Point The Muzzle At Anything You Are Not Willing To Destroy

This is very simple and plain language, yet this rule is one of the two most violated of the set.  This rule can also be stated as “Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.”  We use the language that we do because sometimes when handling a firearm there is no truly safe direction to point it in, so we keep it pointed in the direction that would cause the least amount of harm or damage.  It’s important to remember that when we fire a gun, the bullet leaves the barrel and travels in a straight line until it encounters an object hard enough to stop it.  That object may be the floor or a tree, but it might also be your neighbors’ house, or a person doing yardwork four blocks away.

So, when we’re handling firearms, for whatever reason, we don’t point them at ourselves or others.  We don’t point them at our televisions or aquariums.  We don’t point them at our pets or at anything else we are not prepared to lose should that firearm inadvertently discharge.

Keep Your Finger Off The Trigger Until Your Sights Are On The Target

This rule is the hardest rule for new shooters and some seasoned shooters to put into practice and commit to executing one hundred percent of the time.  We have practiced from a very young age to put our finger on the trigger when we pick up a gun.  No one ever taught us the 4 Basic Rules of Firearms Safety when we first started handling our Super Soakers and Nerf guns.  Also, firearms manufacturers put a lot of effort into ergonomic design, so the guns we handle make it very comfortable and easy to hold with our fingers on the trigger.  The fact of the matter is that, in reality, guns don’t normally go off unless we pull the trigger, and if we don’t put our finger on it, we can’t pull it.

Almost all firearms, especially handguns, have incorporated a firing pin block safety into the design of the gun.  This means that most modern handguns are drop safe.  It’s not like we see in the movies or on television where someone drops a gun and it goes off four times and shoots three people.  You have to pull the trigger on the gun for it to fire, and if we don’t put our fingers on the trigger it can’t fire.

Be Sure Of Your Target And What’s Beyond

Simply stated, know what you’re shooting at and what is behind it as well.  Remember, as I previously stated, that bullets, once fired, don’t stop until they hit something hard enough to stop them.  There is no recall button, and they cannot be guided or controlled.  Proper target identification is important.  Don’t shoot at sounds on the other side of a door, or noises in the dark.

The second part of this rule is just as important, knowing what is on the other side of our targets.  It’s important to remember that bullets don’t just stop when they hit a piece of paper.  We also don’t always hit what we’re aiming at and should be concerned about where our misses are going.  You can visit our range and see all of the bullet marks on our floor, walls, and ceiling baffles as proof that shooters don’t understand this rule.  It’s not just safety on the range that we need to be concerned about.  If you get attacked and need to fire your gun, where would your rounds go if you missed?  Would they hit a brick wall?  Would they go into your children’s room at the end of the hall?  Would you hit a group of Girl Scouts selling cookies in front of the grocery store?

Living The Safe Lifestyle

Clint Smith says that adhering to these rules is a “lifestyle change,” and he’s correct.  In order to ensure that we never have a negligent discharge, we have to consistently follow these rules all day, every day.

Some of you may believe that since I said the gun won’t fire unless you pull the trigger, just keeping your finger off the trigger is all the safe gun handling you need.  The fact of the matter is that we’re all human, and we all lose focus at times and make mistakes.  These rules are designed with enough overlap so that they continue to protect us even if we disregard a few of them.  They’re also designed so that if we have a truly “accidental” discharge due to a mechanical malfunction, we stay just as safe.

So there you have it, a quick refresher on how to be safe when handling your firearms.  Stay safe and keep shooting!

-Jeff Levan

Choosing Your First Handgun

When faced with the challenge of choosing their very first handgun, new shooters are often overwhelmed by the numerous choices and decisions they have to make.  I’d like to use this blog post to help give new buyers a step by step process to choose the right gun for their needs.  I also want to give them an idea of some of the pitfalls and errors that novices tend to encounter when looking for their first handgun.

Step One: Evaluate Intended Use

The first step in any purchase is determining if you even need a handgun or would your intended uses for the firearm be better served with a rifle or shotgun.  Many first time buyers are looking for a gun to simply use for self-defense in and around their own home.  In this instance I advise everyone to look at purchasing a basic shotgun or modern sporting rifle.  These firearms provide a great amount of protection for the money and require a lower level of training to become proficient at typical home defense distances.  That being said, long arms are more difficult to conceal, store, and secure around the home than most handguns.

Step Two: Set a Budget

So you’ve determined that you need a handgun and your intended use is for shooting on the range and keeping at home for personal protection.  The next biggest decision you have to make is deciding on a budget.  There are currently handguns on the market to accommodate all income levels, from inexpensive Hi-Point handguns for $150, to custom competition guns costing several thousands of dollars.  You’re the only person who can determine what your budget is, however we have all heard the axiom that “you get what you pay for,” and that is as true with firearms as with anything else in life.  That is the reason I recommend that new buyers set their handgun budget in the $400 to $800 range if their finances allow.  The reason I start so high and set such a wide range is that within this price point it is easy to purchase a handgun with proven reliability, that is ergonomically well designed, and that has an excellent warranty from a well-known manufacturer.

Step Three: New or Used?

The next consideration is whether to purchase a new or used handgun.  This is almost entirely a personal decision and will be dictated by your usual buying habits.  However, you will be able to greatly extend your budget by shopping the used handgun market vs. purchasing the same gun new.  Many used handguns can be found for 25% to even 50% off of their normal retail price.  Shopping for a used gun can allow you to purchase a much better quality handgun for the money.  If you have ever purchased a used car you may be thinking that buying a used gun could be a bad idea.  While it’s true that there is the possibility of purchasing a problematic used gun, it’s important to remember that if you stay within the pricing guideline I spoke about you’ll be getting a gun from a reliable manufacturer.  Most major firearms manufacturers offer a lifetime warranty on the guns they sell, and the warranty Is usually on the gun, not the purchaser, so it is usually transferred to anyone else purchasing the gun.

Steps Four & Five: Size and Caliber

All of the previous questions we asked and answered were probably the easiest to answer.  These next two questions are where it gets difficult to give a clear and definitive answer as to which is the best choice.  Now we need to decide which caliber to shoot, and what size gun we want to shoot.  These two options will be determined by your intended use for the gun.  For the purposes of this article, we will assume you are purchasing a gun for defensive purposes, either to carry, or to keep at home for protection.  When it comes to ease of shooting, while ergonomics can play a part, the two biggest factors are gun size and caliber.  A full size duty style gun chambered in a lower powered caliber will be a very enjoyable and easy to shoot firearm, while a compact pistol chambered in a large caliber will be unpleasant to fire for any length of time.  So at one end of the scale is comfortable to hold and easy to shoot and at the other end is comfortable to carry and easy to conceal.  If you do not intend to carry your firearm on your person on a regular basis, you would be best served by a full sized, high capacity handgun.  This will be a comfortable gun to shoot, and will usually allow for a high ammunition capacity.  If you are looking for a gun to carry concealed on a regular basis, you would be better served choosing a compact and lightweight gun.  Just keep in mind that your compact gun will have more perceived recoil, will usually have a reduced ammunition capacity, and will usually have less gun to hold on to.  If you are looking for a multi-purpose gun, there are plenty of guns out there that try to strike a good balance between the two opposite ends of the scale.

Choosing the right caliber is probably one of the most debated topics in the firearms field, and there are varied opinions and almost all of them have some merit.  So here is mine.  For the purposes of this article we will only consider the .380acp caliber and higher.  I know that there are plenty of guns chambered in smaller calibers and plenty of people have a valid reason to choose them, but the guns are usually chambered in smaller calibers for very specific purposes and do not relate to this article about choosing a first handgun.  Recent FBI Protocol testing would suggest that if you are using modern defensive ammunition chambered in .380 or higher you should be well armed to meet most threats encountered by your average self-defense shooter.  Going back to when we talked about handgun size and perceived recoil, the same holds true when we talk about caliber.  When comparing two handguns of similar size and weight, the one chambered in the larger caliber will have more felt recoil than one chambered for a smaller, lighter caliber.  In addition, the handgun chambered in the larger caliber will normally have a lower capacity than the one chambered in a smaller caliber.  We can draw several conclusions from these simple facts.

  1. Handguns chambered in larger calibers provide more stopping power than ones chambered in lighter calibers, but are slower shooting due to higher felt recoil, and have a reduced capacity for possible follow up shots.
  2. Handguns chambered in smaller calibers allow for fast multiple shots, provide a higher capacity for those multiple shots, but may not end conflicts as quickly with a single shot.

In my opinion, new shooters need every advantage they can get, which means they should be looking for low recoil, high capacity, easy shooting handguns.  As a shooter trains and improves their skill level, they can look to shooting larger caliber firearms.

Step Six: How Does it Feel?

We’ve talked about the following topics: Use, Budget, New vs. Used, Size, and Caliber.  All of these are very important considerations, but probably the most important one is Feel.  How does the firearm feel in your hands?  There’s no right or wrong answer to this, and there’s really no advice I can give you to figure this part out.  The best thing to do is to head to your local, well stocked firearms dealer; find a patient salesman.  Put as many guns as possible into your hand and when you find the right one, you’ll just know it.  Try to find a gun that has the controls within easy reach.  You don’t want to have to change your grip on the gun too much in order to reach the safety, the slide stop lever, or the magazine release.  Aside from those considerations, find something that sits comfortably in your hand and provides for a natural point of aim when shooting.

There you have it.  Six basic things to consider when purchasing your first handgun.  I get to see a lot of new shooters coming into the range after having made a quick purchase of a firearm, only to regret that choice shortly after shooting it for the first time.  If you follow these basic steps, you are very likely to wind up with a firearm that you enjoy shooting and will give you many years of service.