You are blind for close to an hour a day and you are totally unaware of it. Magicians and clever ne’er-do-wells exploit it for fun and profit. (Three Card Monte, or the Pea under the shell trick is an example) Many a car accident is a result of this blindness.pea and shells

Despite there being thirty different parts of the brain tasked with processing the information provided by your eyes, your brain can barely keep up. Ever watch a video online and it stops playing while the computer buffers the information until it can catch up and continue playing? Your brain has the same trouble.

And one of the situations where  it has the most trouble is during saccades. Saccades are one of four types of eye movements. In the previous segment we talked about ‘vergence’ where the eyes move in and out, like when you are cross eyed. Saccades are rapid linear movements. Small ones are used in reading. Larger ones are like when you gaze around a room from one item to another. REM (Rapid Eye Movement) during dreaming are also saccades.

Want proof? Look in the mirror, look from one eye to the other and try to see your eyes moving. Yup. So why is it important, and what are these drills you are talking about, Peter? english-school-medieval-girl-looking-into-a-mirror

It’s important that you know the limitations of your visual system so you can take it into consideration and make accommodations for it. When you are driving, move your eyes slowly and/or pause when looking to do a lane change, or checking to see if you can pull out onto the road.

In the context of gunfighting, trainers (good ones, anyway) encourage their student to ‘scan’ for other threats after engaging their target. Makes good sense, considering that statistically there’s a better than even chance there will be a second or third attacker. But if you look too quickly, you might miss them. Knowing about saccade blindness, you will slow down your scan to give your brain a chance to keep up with the signals the eyes are sending it.

You can also improve your eye muscles in their ability to move your eyes smoothly and accurately during saccades. Often, you either over or under shoot while performing a saccade and then have to correct the error with another movement. That’s slow and inefficient.

One very good exercise for working the ocular muscles that control saccades is demonstrated in the video below. It’s a simple drill, with a bit of ‘loading’ in the middle, raising the difficulty, and is much easier to explain via video than writing it out, so give it a watch.

To do the exercise you need a piece of paper or cardboard, typical 8.5”x11” is a good size. Hold it in ‘landscape’ mode and write letters or numbers, vertically, along the left and right edges. A half to three quarters of an inch in size is good, or a font size of 60-70 if you are using a computer word processor to make it. The paper should be stiff, so use card stock or glue or tape your paper to a cardboard backer.

The other thing you need is a timer, something with a start and stop signal. A count down timer on your smart phone, or the ‘par’ function on your shot timer will both work. A simpler but still effective way to practice is to substitute your fingers for the piece of paper. Either stick up two fingers one on each hand, or all ten, splayed out, palms out, hands turned so the fingers are pointing at each other. Then, instead of moving from letter to letter, move from finger nail to finger nail. hqdefault

As a starting point I recommend fifteen or twenty seconds. You can increase the time of each ‘set’ as your muscles get stronger. It’s easier and more fun to do it with a partner, but you can do it solo also. Keep the paper in you car and you can do a couple of sets while waiting in traffic for the light the change. Stash one in the library and do some more sets while on the throne. Beats reading the label on your wife’s shampoo bottles. (Or your husband’s ‘Just For Men’ container) The three sets can be done in about a minute. The number of saccades you perform is a measurement of you performance.  Make note of it and track the improvement in your ability.

Do the three sets of the exercise a couple, three times a day. In a week’s time you’ll notice a solid improvement in your hand eye coordination. It’ll give you a winning edge whether it’s in that IDPA regional match, or fighting the miscreant that’s coming to realize that he made a serious error in the victim selection process.

Let me know what you think. I’m always interested in comments and questions, and would love to hear how this works for you.

Disciplina Remumenor Fidelis!*

Peter Burlingame (please subscribe!)

*Training/Practice Rewards the Faithful

Categories: Uncategorized

Springfield XDS-4,

Springfield XDS-4    XDS4-Black2

I never warmed up to the Springfield XD series of pistols. While it incorporates my favorite features in an Every Day Carry Fighting Pistol, (Double action only, striker fired, polymer frame), I found it clunky, unattractive, with a too high bore line above the hand and what I consider to be an unnecessary grip safety.

I didn’t hate them, and didn’t try to dissuade people from buying them, they just weren’t for me. Until now.

A little backstory: About a year and a half ago, a few people came up with the brilliant idea of taking a perfectly good Glock 19 and cutting the butt down to take G26 magazines. The barrel is easy to conceal, being down your pants in an Inside the Waist Band holster. It’s the grip that needs to be small for concealment.

The genius is continued; it can use all the bigger magazines, 15, 17, on up to the 32 rounder. The longer barrel is easier to hit with, giving you a longer sight radius. It also helps control muzzle flip and add a touch of velocity, good for helping hollow point to expand.

The downside is that Glocks are, well, let’s just say it, they’re chubby. Big boned. Husky. And that’s were the new Springfield comes in. They came out with their ‘S’ series of single stacks, trying to keep up with the Kahr PM9/Shield/LC9 in the svelte single stack market. Their first offering was ho-hum.

But then they did the smart thing. The bold thing. They put a four inch barrel on it. And came up with something very Special.

I’ve been lusting after one ever since I saw the first advertisement. It took a few months, but I finally got the chance to shoot one. And it was everything I’d hoped. I carry a G26 every waking hour, and mine has over a hundred and twenty thousand rounds through it. I shoot it well. But that extra bit of barrel makes a difference. The Xds4 points well, and hits quickly.
This is a pistol you can fight with.

You can get the XDS4 as a ‘kit’, in a nice briefcase containing the pistol, a paddle holster, a seven and eight round magazine, dual mag pouch, cable lock, optional back strap insert, and a couple of different colors of fiber optic for the front sight.

The two stage, spring over spring recoil system, combined with the longer barrel help mitigate the recoil to where it is pleasant, despite the narrow backstrap. The butt has nice block texture for a sure grip without being too abrasive, an important feature if you are going to shoot more that a couple of magazines through your pistol.

An ambidextrous magazine release is in place. No need to switch it from one side to the other. Many righties with smaller hands may find using their trigger finger on the right side button is a better way to drop the mags. Clever.xds-10

I got to put a box of Wolf steel case 115grain FMJ and a couple of mags of Gold Dot through this little darling. Popping 8” and 10” steel targets at ten to fifteen yards was easy as pie. No struggle at all. Follow up shots came easy, with little muzzle rise and the the sights snapping back on target quickly.
The issued sights worked well, the red fiber optic quick to pick up, the white dots at the rear easy to ignore, yet offering the traditional patridge sight picture which is so good for precision work.

The only negative is that the slide didn’t lock back on empty magazines. I didn’t think of it until later, but I suspect that it was a combination of me and my high, thumbs forward grip, and the slide release lever being fairly far back. Same thing happens to me when I shoot Sigs. Thinking about it, the releases are in similar locations.

So overall, Springfield has a winner in the Xds-4. I love it. A slender, easy carrying, serious fighting pistol.
Now if only S&W would put a 4” barrel on their Shield and Glock come out with a G44 (taking their ho-hum 43 and putting a 4” barrel on it) we’d have a great trio of slender ladies from whom to choose to take to the dance.

Disciplina Remumenor Fidelis!*

Peter Burlingame
*Training Rewards the Faithful

Categories: Uncategorized


Our eyes are incredibly important to us, being our dominant sense. Thirty different parts of our brain are devoted to eyesprocessing the information that our eyes send it. Considering how important they are, why do we know so little about them? Why don’t we do anything to improve them? (other than getting corrective lenses, which may actually exacerbate the problem)

While this blog’s focus is aimed mainly at firearms, seeing better, having eyes that function more efficiently, is valuable in almost every single thing we do. Wouldn’t you like to see what you’ve been missing?

Over the course of the next few weeks, I’m going to give you a series of exercises that will improve your eyesight. Not necessarily the acuity, (although I’ve had people report back to me being able to focus on things that they couldn’t see without glasses for decades) but in how your eyes move.

There are six muscles around your eyes that control your eyes’ movement. Like any muscles, if they aren’t worked, they weaken, they atrophy. These six muscles control three types of eye movement; vergence, saccades, and persuit.

Today we are going to focus on vergence. Remember crossing your eyes as a kid? And your mom warning you that they’d cross eyedstick that way? Mom did you a terrible disservice. Crossing your eyes is a movement called vergence. The line of sight of each eye converges. We do this when things are close to us, and it is one of the ways we judge distance.

The exercise we are going to learn to strengthen the muscles responsible for vergence is called “Pencil Push-Ups”. Typically, a pencil is used, but any similar object will work, including one of your fingers.

Hold the object up, vertically, at arm’s length. Focus o[]n it. You should see one object. Slowly move it towards your nose. You will feel your eyes starting to cross. Keep going. If your vision switches and you see two objects, stop. Your eyes are at their limit as to how far they will turn your eyes inward.

Back the object off a couple of inches until you see only one, and try again. Repeat until you can get all the way to your nose and see only one object. Now for the push ups. Move the object out to arm’s length and then back in. Do ten reps and take a break. You should feel a familiar ‘burn’ in the little muscles around your eyes as the lactic acid builds up. Rest, and do another set of ten reps.

The second drill is to bring the object to your nose and keep it there. Look away, at something across the room, then back to the object. Away, object. Away, object, for another ten reps.

This is something you can do almost anywhere, at any time, so there’s no excuse not to do them. After just a short period you will notice an improvement. You can work longer before your eyes get tired. Your hand/eye coordination will get remarkably better. Performance will be increased, and you might just find that you are seeing better than you have in quite some time.

Next week’s Fitness Friday: “Saccades”, or “Why You are Blind for 45 Minutes a Day”

Diligencia Remumenor Fidelis*

Peter Burlingame
*Training Rewards the Faithful

Categories: Uncategorized

Is it Ever OK to Shoot Someone in the Back?

Is it Ever OK to Shoot Someone in the Back?IMG_0005

Dry Gulching. That’s what it was called back in the Old West when a no good, claim jumping, sidewinder shot some poor sodbuster in the back from ambush. It’s always been considered low down, dealing from the bottom of the deck, no good cheating, type of despicable behavior.

Shooting someone in the back flies in the face of ‘being a good sport’, it goes against our sense of fair play. But, are there times when it can be justified? Not only legally, but morally and ethically?

The short answer is yes.

When? The same as any other time you are justified to use lethal force. Let’s review that. When I took Mas Ayoob’s LFI I class back in ’92, he taught us that “you can use lethal force if there is an immediate, otherwise unavoidable, threat of death or grave bodily injury, to the innocent. “ The threat has to be happening right now, you can’t get away from it, the attacker has the capability to hurt you, and you or the person you are protecting has done nothing to provoke the attack.

If those conditions are met, then you are justified, not just legally, but morally and ethically, to use lethal force. Now, let’s go back to our original question, “is it ever OK to shoot someone in the back?” Can you think of situations where someone’s back is towards you, yet they meet the ‘immediate, unavoidable, threat of death, to the innocent criteria’?

Is it possible for a bad guy to shoot at you while they are running away? A police officer, three months out of the academy, answered an armed robbery call. She pulled up to the scene just as the robber, gun in hand, exited the store. Seeing her, he took off on foot. She pursued. The robber thrust his pistol over his left shoulder and whipped off a shot.

Which struck the officer between the eyes. IMG_0003

Could she have justified shooting him? Not while he was just running away. But as soon as that pistol appeared, pointing in her direction, all the conditions for justification were met.

You come home to find the front door broken in. You draw your pistol and enter your house, seeing evidence of violence. Coming to the bed room, you find a strange man, your wife’s throat in one hand, a knife raised in his other hand, yet his back is to you.

Can you shoot?

Obviously, we have the Rule 4 concern of your wife being in close proximity to where you are shooting. But can you justify shooting the attacker in the back?


What if you came home to find your wife (or other loved one) already dead? You hear a noise in the back of the house and run that way, in time to see the bad guy dropping out the window and running away across your backyard. Can you shoot him under these conditions?

No. He’s no longer a threat to you.

I’m prompted to write this article by the recent situation in North Charleston, South Carolina, where a police officer shot a citizen in the back as the citizen ran away. There is sure to be a flurry of chairborne experts opining on this, and similar uses of force, so I wanted to shed some light on the dynamics of this aspect of lethal encounters.

The Supreme Court ruled on when cops can shoot fleeing suspects, and shooting them solely to prevent their escape is not acceptable. I shouldn’t have to mention that shooting someone running away because you are furious at what they’ve just done is not justifiable either.
The standard set forth in Tennessee v. Garner, 471 U.S. 1 (1985) is that the officer must reasonably believe that the suspect constitutes a significant danger to the officer, other officers, or the community at large.

Picture this: You come to a scene just as a blood spattered man hacks a pedestrian down with multiple blows of a machete. His victim down, he looks around, spying a playground filled with children and runs toward them. He is no threat to you. You don’t know anyone at the playground and he doesn’t know you are there. Can you justify shooting him in the back?
You’re damn right you can, Skippy! It’s not a stretch that you can reasonably believe that he is an imminent threat to the people at the playground, so articulating why you shot this man running away from you, in the back would be easy.

Will it look bad if you shoot an attacker in the back? Yes. Our society is programmed towards ‘fairness’ and ‘good sportsmanship’, and shooting a person in the back seems to go against these dearly held beliefs. There is a chance you will be charged in the shooting. The press may pillory you and your good name in their mistaken belief that you did something illegal and/or immoral.

But, as this article shows, it can be quickly shown that yes, indeed, there are times when it is not only legal, but moral and ethical to shoot somebody in the back.

Disciplina Remumenor Fidelis!


8 Tactics for Dealing with a Vehicle Ambush

This is a new wrinkle on attacks that can happen in and around your vehicle. Car jackings have been around for decades as have bump and robs. More unusual is the robber impersonating a cop and pulling you over. The above article highlights a south-of-the-boarder robbery tactic springing up in Chicago.

So. What can you do?

1. Drive a ‘self defense’ type vehicle.

2. Be as alert while driving as you are at other times. You’ve got all those mirrors. Use them. See as far ahead as possible, not only as far as the car in front of you. The ‘self defense’ car rides higher, allowing you to see over many other, lower cars. Pulling slightly left can also offer you a view past the car(s) in front of you. You are probably more on the ball than the drivers around you. Don’t rely on them to provide you with a proper and timely warning that there is a problem.

3. Always have an ‘out. continuously look for places you can put your vehicle if you need to MOVE NOW! Realize that might involve contact with another vehicle or other objects.

4. Watch your following distance. Leave yourself room to MOVE NOW!

DIY Latterally Moving Target

Here is a short video on how to quickly and inexpensively make a latterally moving target.
This is an important part of your defensive training regime.

Categories: Uncategorized

The Purpose of Shooting

As Clint Smith of Thunder Ranch says “The purpose of shooting is hitting” We don’t shoot to make loud noises. We shoot to put bullets where we want them to go. Servicing the target as it were.

So how is hitting accomplished? By lining up the firearm with the target and causing the firearm to discharge, being careful not to disturb the target/firearm alignment.

A fabulous way to learn to do this is by “dry firing”. Dry firing is shooting the gun while it is empty.

The cool things about dry fire are:
1. Its free
2. You can do it almost anywhere.
3. You can see what you are doing because there is no noise or recoil to hide your mistakes.

Now. Do you really want to get better?
If you do, you need to spend 5 minutes several times a week dryfiring. this will do more to improve your marksmanship than anything else.

Find a room where you can be alone and where it is quiet. This next part is IMPORTANT. Before you go in that room, take all the ammo out of the gun, and make sure that you don’t have any ammo on your person.
Now you can enter the dry fire room.
Pick a wall that, if you screw up, you can live with putting a bullet into. In other words, there is nothing behind the wall that could get hurt.
find something to aim at. either something already on the wall or something that you put on the wall. It should be small. say about the size of a dime.
Double check that there is no magazine in the pistol and check that the chamber is empty.
Check again. Really. I’ll wait…..
Ok. now standing comfortably with a good two handed grip on the pistol, aim at the small target. place the middle of the first pad of your finger on the front of the trigger. make sure that you are going to pull it straight back and not apply any sideways pressure as you are pulling it back.
While you are working on keeping the sights on target start applying SMOOTH pressure to the trigger. DONT FORGET ABOUT THE SIGHTS!!! sights and trigger, sights and trigger. when you finally reach the release point and the gun goes click, where are your sights?
still lined up on the target? Or did they move? If they moved, which way did they move? why? Try it again and work on improving.
If you are shooting a pistol like a Springfield XD or a Glock you will have to “re-set” the trigger by pulling the slide back a little bit.

When you have done 20 GOOD shots, stop. aAways stop at success.
When you leave the room say out loud “the dry fire practice is over” THIS IS IMPORTANT. It sets your mind frame. most ‘accidents’ with dry fire happen afterwards, when the gun has been reloaded and the person decides to try “just one more”

If you do this every day, or every other day for a week, you will be amazed at the difference the next time you go to the range. Just think of all those bruised and deflated male egos when the guys look at your target and all the shots are in one ragged hole right in the middle of the x ring.

Have fun!

Categories: Uncategorized