Protein Is Poison

Is learning how to use a firearm safely and effectively a difficult endeavor?  No, not at all!  But you do have to concentrate on the fundamentals in order to get them right.

The vast majority of my students lived through a terrifying ordeal, and they seek me out in order to develop the skills needed to keep history from repeating.  They are dedicated to the process, even driven, but their mind keeps wandering.  Bad memories keep popping up when they should be concentrating on getting the gun handling down.


(Picture source.)

My job as a firearms instructor is to impart the knowledge they need, which means that I have to make an effort to break my students free from their funk.

I do this in various ways.  Crack jokes, show enthusiasm and energy during the lessons, and mix things up so there is always something different being presented so the student has to think on their feet.

One of the simplest ways to keep them relaxed and concentrating, however, is to have a bowl of snacks within reach.  Not only is food comforting, and so will help them put bad memories on the back burner, but it also provides a bit of sensory stimulus to keep the mind focused.

party mix

My upcoming pair of students are a husband and wife team.  I found out while talking to them that she lives with a genetic condition which prevents her body from processing protein efficiently.  Intake too much and bad things start to happen.

She pointed out that various vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower, as well as most leafy vegetables such as lettuce, make up the bulk of her diet.  It probably wouldn’t be too thrilling to show up with a bowl of raw cauliflower if she eats it every day.

The problem is that the vast majority of snack foods are packed with protein.  It is, in fact, a major selling point.  You might be munching away on high calorie nibblements in order to stave off boredom, but the manufacturers want you to know that not all of those calories are empty.  You are building muscle at the same time!

power flex

So ferreting out low- or non-protein snacks has proven to be an impossible task.

Of course, I don’t have to show up with snacks.  It is not one of my core responsibilities, after all.  But this is something of a challenge, and all of my regular readers know what happens when I’m presented with a challenge.  The problem is that I am not having a lot of luck meeting this one.

So I decided to do what I always do when faced with a stumper: Ask my loyal and wicked smart readers for suggestions!  You’ve never let me down yet, and I’m sure there are a few nuggets of info you are privy to that have escaped me.

My upcoming student and her husband will undoubtedly be reading this, and she mentioned that she started a few support groups online in order to help others who have to live with the condition.  I have little doubt that she is pretty well informed already.  But one never knows.

So, any ideas?

Has Anyone Out There Given Firearms Training To The Disabled?

A quick witted reader was kind enough to give me a heads up to this blog post.  (Thanks, Joel!)

It seems that nationally known 2nd Amendment advocate David Kopel is looking for people who have had experience providing firearms training for those with disabilities.  If you fit the bill, click on the first link to read the bleg for yourself.

If you can help out, then you have my thanks!

Which Starting Caliber Is The Best?

There are a few questions that new shooters always ask. Besides the usual concerning the merits of a revolver compared to an autoloader, or which manufacturer produces the best firearm for the money, they always get around to asking which handgun caliber is best to fend off a violent criminal attack.


This is perfectly reasonable, since self defense is something that we all should plan for. But my students usually find my answer to be a bit frustrating, since I don’t think any one caliber is the absolute best.

It is important to keep in mind that the goal is to end an attack as soon as possible. If someone has to use deadly force to save innocent lives, then they want to make it physically impossible for the felon to continue trying to hurt someone.

This is accomplished either by disrupting the vital organs, breaking bones so they can no longer move their limbs, or by causing enough blood loss so they can no longer stay conscious. All of these goals are accomplished most quickly by careful bullet placement. Strike them in the right area, and your goals are met quickly. If the bullet lands in a less vital place, then the fight can go on for some time.

pile of 9mm parabellum cartridges

Still and all, you also need a caliber that is powerful enough, and with a large enough bullet, to get the job done. Below is a list of all of the choices that I recommend to my students, with the muzzle energy included. All data listed is that of Winchester Silvertips in an effort to standardize the relative merits of each round.

.380 Auto – 189 ft/lbs

.38 Special – 218 ft/lbs

9mm Parabellum – 383 ft/lbs

.45 ACP – 411 ft/lbs

.357 Magnum – 535 ft/lbs

Those who are experienced in the shooting sports will notice a few things about my list. It is very short, for example, and there are many other calibers available that are not included which will also do the job. But keep in mind that I’m writing this for those who have not had the benefit of a shooting background, and so I want to confine my advice to very common calibers. The idea is that anyone could walk into just about any gun store and immediately find a selection of guns and ammunition for any of the listed calibers. This cuts down on a great deal of frustration.

champion firearms group_photo

(Picture source.)

Also note that I’ve arranged the list to reflect ascending muzzle energy, not size. The .357 Magnum certainly uses a smaller bullet than the .45 ACP, but it is at the end because that particular caliber delivers greater ft/lbs.

Any one of these calibers have been proven to be effective self defense choices in the past, and I wouldn’t consider any of my students to be inadequately armed if they relied on one of them to defend themselves. But, having said that, I do have to admit that some of them are more effective than others.

Generally speaking, it is better to choose a larger caliber than smaller. This is to increase the size of the holes made in the bad guy, and to facilitate blood loss. That is why the .45 ACP enjoys a reputation as being one of the best choices for self defense.

staring down the barrel of  a 45

So why don’t I just recommend the .45 and be done with it? Because some people find the big caliber uncomfortable to shoot, not to mention expensive. Since shot placement is so important in defense, that means it is important for a new shooter to practice diligently. A smaller, less intimidating round might serve their needs better, and practice ammo would be cheaper so they can afford to make more trips to the range.

Also generally speaking, it is better to have greater muzzle energy than lesser. If that was the sole criteria, then I would simply tell everyone to arm themselves with a .357 Magnum and never mention any alternative.


But the same drawbacks mentioned for the .45 ACP also exists for the .357. Practice ammo is expensive, and the noise and perceived recoil might be intimidating.

So my advice to anyone starting out is to visit a shooting range that has gun for rent. Try out some guns chambered for the calibers listed above in order to gauge your own comfort range.


After you make your choice and buy your first gun, you should practice practice practice. You can’t go wrong by some extra trigger time.

Russian Finishing School

russian girls with aks

Most people would think the rifle is an AK-47, which is perfectly reasonable.  Sure looks like one, after all.

It is, however, an AK-74.  The main difference is that the ak-47 is chambered for a .30 caliber round, while the AK-74 uses a Russian copy of the 5.56 mm round US and NATO forces use.

How can you tell the difference? By the orange magazine.  The Russians deliberately designed the new AK-74 magazines to be visually different in order to avoid mistakes when grabbing reloads.

ak47 magazines

ak74 magazines

Buckle Up

Know what a buckler is?  Small shield used in swordplay.  Instead of using it to cover up, the combatants slap the swords of their opponents out of the way.

sword and buckler

(Picture source.)

modern sword and buckler practice

(Picture source.)

It was a fully functional weapon in its own right.  I doubt anyone would be too thrilled to be punched in the face with a disc of steel.

knirirr mentioned this photo page some time ago, but I have just now found the time to take a good look at the pictures on display.  It is of a quarterly sword bout called The Grand Assault at Arms, an invitational event that I believe is held in the United Kingdom.

The photos are fascinating to someone like myself, who is interested in historical martial arts.  I am not sharing any with you here because the people who set up the Flikr account don’t want any downloaded, and I am respecting their wishes.

The mix of combat styles and weapons is heady stuff.  As one of the attendees said, “People can fence with whatever weapons they like, so long as their opponent is consenting!”  I think this is the first time I have seen pictures of bucklers used in an actual match.

Wish I could attend.  Maybe if my ship comes in!


You Mean There Are People Who Only Carry One?!?!

Illinois has just passed a law allowing law abiding citizens to carry concealed firearms for their defense.  It was the very last place in the United States to pass such a law.

Good for them!  But there are flies in this ointment.  The new law has a number of provisions to acquiring a license which makes it a more difficult task than it should.

This post at The Volokh Conspiracy discusses a joke about how Illinois can essentially ban concealed carry by making it mandatory for license holders to always carry two guns.   The extra weight, expense, and bother of hauling all that iron around would cause people to give up on arming themselves in despair.

size comparison of two 9mm 2

No despair here!

Movie Review: The Lone Ranger (2013)

There is an old story concerning the Texas Rangers.

The Mayor of a small mining town was facing unrest.  The mine workers wanted improved working conditions and greater pay, while the owners refused.  It looked like a riot was inevitable.  Innocent people were sure to be hurt in the clash.

Desperate, convinced his own sparse police force would not be able to contain the violence, the Mayor telegraphed the capitol to ask for help.  The reply stated “TEXAS RANGER ON THE WAY.  WILL ARRIVE EVENING TRAIN”.

The Mayor breathed easier.  Help was on the way!  But when he met the train that evening, only one slim and tall figure stepped on to the platform.

Suddenly all the stress and panic the Mayor had been trying to suppress came roaring back.  He hurried to the Ranger, and angrily demanded why the Governor had sent only one lawman in this time of peril.  They were going to need a lot more than just one Ranger!

“More Ranger’s?” came the reply.  “What for?  You only got one riot, dontchya?”

texas ranger badge

The original Lone Ranger character was created for radio.  A member of the elite Texas Rangers, he is wounded and left for dead in the same ambush that kills his brother.  His life, however, is saved by a Native American whose life he saved many years before.  After recovering from his wounds, he fashions a mask from the vest that his brother was wearing in the last moments, and vows to bring outlaws to justice.

He was a man of many skills.  Trained in boxing, he would prefer to subdue criminals using his hand-to-hand abilities in order to preserve life.  A superlative marksman, he would only shoot to wound or disarm even when his own life was in peril.  Although he worked to protect society, he deliberately removed himself from the comfort and security that society offered in order to better protect the innocent.  And, perhaps most important, he eschewed vengeance in favor of justice even though he had suffered grievously at the hands of criminals.

The original radio show debuted in 1933, and the wholesome image of this paragon of virtue was fully in line with popular culture at the time.  The same can be said of the television show which ran from 1949 to 1957.

lone ranger tv

In recent times, however, it has been acknowledged that the foes of The Lone Ranger are violent and evil people.  This grimmer tone has been explored in an award winning  comic book series, an attempt to bring a more realistic bent to the famous hero.

lone ranger comic 2

A new movie from Disney was released a few days ago, a retelling of this classic tale.  How did it stand up?

lone ranger films

It was horrible!  A complete waste of time and money!  I hope Disney takes a huge loss on this film as punishment for their ham-handed treatment of a beloved character!

So I didn’t like it.  What was wrong with the film?  I’ll discuss the details below after the break, but be warned.  Here there be spoilers!

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