People may choose to carry a pistol or revolver for a variety of reasons. It may be because there is a real danger to them and/or their loved ones, it may be because their Constitution provides the right to do so and they are seeking to preserve that right, it may be simply because it has become fashionable – as it was for example in Britain and parts of Europe before the First World War. Whether or not you are legally permitted to carry a firearm either concealed or openly will depend on where you live and the attitude of your legislators and police. In Britain for example pistols and revolvers are banned, carrying a knife is banned (even if you only intend to use it to cut up your lunchtime fruit), possessing a sword is banned, possessing a blunt alloy imitation sword is banned, and indeed the right of the individual to protect themselves and/or their loved ones has been suppressed to the point that people have become frightened to defend themselves. People are promised that the police are there to protect them and that if you are attacked the police are only minutes away. It sounds plausible until you become a victim of an armed or violent crime, that’s the point at which you realise that you are alone against your attacker or attackers, that when you have seconds to live the police are “minutes away”. I’m not saying this to denigrate the police. I appreciate the difficulty and danger they face in doing their job and in my own dealings with them I try to ensure that I treat them with respect and friendliness. However, having been a victim of armed violent crime I am under no delusions that they will be able to protect me or my loved ones. Realistically, logically, the police can never be the first on the scene of a crime, unless they’ve had a tip off and have set an ambush. The first on the scene of a crime is the perpetrator, the second is the victim, the best the police can hope for is to arrive in third place, if indeed they arrive at all.
What happens where you live and the attitudes of government, police and people generally will largely depend on the message being pushed by the media and whomsoever drives that. Noam Chomsky’s book “Necessary Illusions” is a good thought starter for those interested in this, as is Neil Postman’s “Amusing Ourselves to Death“. Read the transcript “Informing Ourselves to Death” of a speech by Neil Postman to catch the gist of this. The media creates the “zeitgeist”, the “mood of the people”, people absorb the values attitudes and opinions pushed onto them depending on how much they expose themselves to the media ideas and whether or not they are able to think critically strongly enough to refuse and stand against that which is fashionable or “politically correct”. Martin Luther King Jr. once said “The saving of our world from pending doom will come, not through the complacent adjustment of the conforming majority, but through the creative maladjustment of a nonconforming minority.” If you would like to become a part of the nonconforming minority then one of the first things to get rid of is the television.
If we compare Britain with Israel we see two countries that, although both facing some similar issues, both are targets of terrorist attack for example, yet the attitudes to how to deal with that are really completely opposite. The introduction to the video “Israeli Instinctive Combat Shooting Method” makes that difference starkly clear.
I had the opportunity to visit Israel three years ago leading a tour group. We flew El Al, which I would recommend, they are great to fly with. My first impression at the airport was that these are people who understand security and know how to do security thoroughly, professionally, and in a way that communicates to passengers that the security personnel are highly trained and highly motivated. Every passenger was personally interviewed by Israeli security before they were allowed on the aircraft, and, in my own interview as group leader it became quickly clear that the person interviewing me had done some “homework” on the people in my tour group.
Whilst we were traveling in Israel I periodically noticed citizens carry pistols and some carrying them concealed. Some, such as the security guards in the hotel lobbies, carry holstered visible pistols, others I caught a glimpse of were typically carrying the pistol tucked into their waistband on their strong side (i.e. usually their right hand side). The majority of pistols I could identify were Browning Hi Power. At the Western Wall the police were carrying holstered Glocks. All the pistols I noticed seemed to be carried with the hammer down. At no time did I see a “cocked and locked” gun. Although I have a shooting career that has spanned decades, the significance of what I’d seen in Israel did not “click” until I watched “Israeli Instinctive Combat Shooting Method recently.
In his introduction to the video the instructor, Jack Bar-Gioria, makes a series of points that put the whole raison d’etre of the Instinctive Combat Shooting Method into clear perspective. He states “Let’s talk about the reason this method was created. Let’s talk about the need of the people who created it. Israel is a small state, surrounded by, let’s say, unfriendly neighbours, constantly in a state of war, constantly threatened. This means that most citizens, around 90%, serve, are serving, currently … with the Israeli Armed forces.” (i.e. to provide civilian defense.) “The citizen is also a soldier. There is the threat we have to face. We had to develop a system to use basic small weapons that are carried by a lot of people. A system that will combine safety, and also efficiency.”
Jack Bar-Gioria paints a picture of a society that has not so much “evolved”, but which has actively created a social system and a military system that specifically empowers the ordinary citizen in the protection of the people. It strikes me that Israel, (and also arguably Switzerland), have created something that seems to fulfill the notion of “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Let us not fail to realize that this system was created by people who survived Hitler’s Nazi Europe, and by their children. People who understood from personal experience and loss what it’s like to live in a state where the government has absolute power. Let us remember Lord Acton’s famous words “”Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. This system that Israel has created is not just about the people having guns; it is a system that is about socializing the people into a cohesive sense of identity and responsibility in which each one understands and is committed to their nation and her people, and is trained and motivated to do their part in it’s protection, and the protection of people. The very protection of each precious life, something Hitler was really bad at, something he completely failed to comprehend.
The next part of Jack Bar-Gioria’s introduction will likely be a cause of controversy for some reading this or watching the DVD. He says that Israel did not want to adopt the typical American method of having a round in the chamber “cocked and locked”, but for safety’s sake, decided on no round in the chamber. To get the efficiency, the speed that may be needed in certain situations, the emphasis is on keeping the training simple and instinctive. There will, no doubt, be some reading this who say “that’s not true” etc. but stop and consider for a moment. When Israel created this system it was and is intended to be used not just with one make and model of pistol but with any make and model of pistol. Also remember that this system has been created to be safe whether or not that pistol is in a holster that covers the trigger or simply tucked into the waistband of one’s trousers. As soon as we have to deal with that scenario then I hope most will realise that a “no round in the chamber” Condition 3 carry is the base line safe common denominator. Condition 1 “cocked and locked” carry is only safe with certain makes and models of pistol and then only if the person carrying the pistol has it in a properly designed holster and has the training and constant alertness to keep it safe.
If you watch the video and then spend some time training the method you will find that yes it does work. It doesn’t work if you only practice a few times and give up, it works if you seriously train it, beginning slowly and working on the principle that “Practice does not make perfect, only perfect practice makes perfect”. Then if you are patient, you will find it does work. To be honest, if you are going to carry a pistol for self-defense then just the possession of the pistol is not likely to save you, it will be your training and keeping up the practice that will. I have for some years now practiced the Japanese sword art Batto-jutsu (which can also be referred to as iaido). When people watch someone who is proficient with the Japanese sword one of the things they tend to comment on is the speed and ease with which the practitioner sheaths that razor sharp sword without looking at the scabbard. How do they do it? The Japanese have a saying “if you lose the spirit of repetition your practice will become very difficult”. Perfect practice makes perfect, and there is no need to try to make it fast, with the practice the speed comes naturally. Drawing and sheathing a Japanese sword and drawing and holstering a pistol are quite similar. Your practice will ensure you are able to do that without looking so you can keep your eyes on the situation around you and be alert to what is going on, something the Japanese call “zanshin”. It will also ensure you safely manage your pistol so you don’t have an accidental discharge as you holster it because you have followed the training in the DVD to the point where the safety has become second nature. Getting it wrong with a Japanese sword can make an exceedingly nasty mess of one’s hand or wrist and leads to other club members having to be good at first aid, and good at doing some thorough clean up with a mop and bucket when you’ve been taken off to hospital. Getting it wrong with gun also leads to some nasty consequences. It’s not a toy.
I see a lot of discussion in forums on which gun to buy and what holster to carry it in and whether or not to carry Condition 3 or Condition 1 etc. but this is really “putting the cart before the horse”. If you are going to carry a gun and it’s legal for you to do so your first consideration needs to be an honest and truthful assessment of why you want to. If you are only thinking self and self preservation then that’s perhaps a bit selfish. In the Israeli Instinctive Shooting Method DVD it is clear that the intention of the people who are trained and armed is to preserve the life of others. If you are going to carry a deadly weapon then it needs to be about you preserving and protecting life, not taking it. Regarding the sword the Japanese say that the sword can be a “life taking sword” or the sword can be a “life giving sword”. The life giving sword, by it’s presence, seeks to persuade the wicked not to do wickedness because the consequences of the wickedness will be bad for the person doing it. This is the same basic concept that Jack Bar-Gioria describes in his introduction to the DVD. What is needed for the person carrying the weapon is an attitude to protect and preserve life – this is what police officers are trained for – this is what you need to train for; and if you ever need to use that deadly weapon it will be your attitude that desires to preserve life, even the life of the one doing the wickedness if possible, that will ensure you manage that situation in the best possible way. The Japanese have a story about the headmaster of a sword school in old Japan who was getting old and needed to pass on his headship of the school to one of his three senior pupils. To do this he devised a test. He rigged a heavy pillow above the door of his room so that when the door was opened as someone came in the pillow would fall on them. Then he called for the first of his senior pupils to come to his room. The first pupil opened the door, saw the pillow, drew his sword with lightening speed and cut it in half. Then it was the turn of the second pupil, he opened the door and came straight in and the pillow landed on his head knocking him to the ground. When it came to the turn of the third pupil, he opened the door, saw the pillow falling, caught it in his hands and then went into the room and placed the pillow at the head of the bed where it belonged. To which pupil do you think the headmaster gave the headship of his sword school?
If you purchase the Israeli Instinctive Combat Shooting Method DVD I hope it will be because you intend to ensure that you have training that will help you to deal with a nasty situation in a good way. If you are going to carry a pistol I recommend you join a pistol club and benefit from the training and friendship you will get from that. Whether or not you are able to be a part of a club it will still be possible for you to do some training. You must first practice with an unloaded pistol and be used to verifying that pistol is unloaded. The Canadian Restricted Firearms Course Class Video teaches good basic handling procedures to ensure you PROVE your pistol to be unloaded. One of the best, cheapest and safest ways to begin training and to maintain it is to use an Airsoft BB pistol and become proficient with it before you move onto the real gun. If you choose a carry pistol for which there is also a decent all metal Airsoft BB replica then that will be best. The the various models of the Colt 1911 are one good choice and it’s easy to find a good quality Airsoft BB replica of the 1911 that will fit your holster and provide the same operational feel and procedures. With this you will be able to practice shooting using an A3 or A4 photocopy paper box stuffed with padding as a pellet stop for your targets. You will also be able to wear your BB pistol around your house or apartment and become familiar and comfortable with carrying a gun (just remember to take it off before you go out). The gas and the BB pellets are ridiculously cheap so you’ll be able do do lots of practice, and I hope you find the practice to be fun. Practice a little and often, twenty minutes three times per week is much better than an hour once per week. Use the “Mary Poppins method” of getting things done”, i.e. “In every job that’s to be done there is an element of fun. Find the fun and snap, the job’s a breeze…”. So, find your “spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down” and enjoy the training.
When you move on to actually carrying your concealed pistol there is the need to be alert, and alert all the time. In his “Modern Pistol Technique” Colonel Jeff Cooper describes states of alertness using colour codes. White means unaware, the state of a person who has their ear buds in grooving to the music on their iPod, or absorbed in their mobile phone for e-mail, Facebook or a game, or just day dreaming. You should never be in the “White” state if you are out on the street especially if you are armed. Yellow means you are aware of what is going on around you. It doesn’t mean you are paranoid, it is the state you should be in when you are driving a car for example. You are calm and relaxed but alert and looking for the things that you may need to respond to as you control your ton and a half of steel on the highway. This is the state of mind the Japanese call “zanshin”. Being in charge of a car and being in charge of a pistol or revolver require the same level of alertness; and just as it is not a good idea to drink alcohol and drive so it also is not a good idea to drink alcohol whilst you are carrying a gun. So no drink driving, and no drink carrying, not even Mary Poppins’ “Rum Punch”.
I strongly recommend the “Israeli Instinctive Combat Shooting Method” DVD” available from the American Gunsmiths Institute and other places especially if you are planning to carry a firearm in public. If you do carry a firearm then please remember that “with great power comes great responsibility”. Your responsibility will help preserve the right to keep and bear arms for others and for future generations.
Jon Branch is the founder and senior editor of Revivaler and has written a significant number of articles for various publications including official Buying Guides for eBay, classic car articles for Hagerty, magazine articles for both the Australian Shooters Journal and the Australian Shooter, and he’s a long time contributor to Silodrome.
Jon has done radio, television, magazine and newspaper interviews on various issues, and has traveled extensively, having lived in Britain, Australia, China and Hong Kong. His travels have taken him to Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan and a number of other countries. He has studied the Japanese sword arts and has a long history of involvement in the shooting sports, which has included authoring submissions to government on various firearms related issues and assisting in the design and establishment of shooting ranges.