This is a "Monday catch-up" post, wherein I realize that I've put this stuff on Facebook but not the blog!
First up: renowned trainer Tiger McKee recently wrote a very nice review of my revolver books (Gun Digest Book Of The Revolver and my new Defensive Revolver Fundamentals) for The Tactical Wire. This is pretty exciting to me, as he is one of the most direct descendants of Jeff Cooper and is a proponent of both the 1911 pistol and of the "Modern Technique" -- all of which, as you're probably aware, are very different than my personal viewpoints! To have him find value in what I've wrote is an incredible (and humbling) honor.
Speaking of books, a few weeks back I interviewed Gila Hayes, author of the new book "Concealed Carry For Women", on The Gun Nation Starring Doc Wesson. (Doc's been giving me grief that I've not mentioned him sufficiently in my articles and interviews, so I'm trying to make amends.) Gila and I talk about the book and the thoughts and motivations behind what she's written. It's a superb work and any woman who is considering carrying a concealed handgun needs to have it in her library. (Frankly, any male firearms instructor should have it too, so he understands some of the things that women need to take into consideration when figuring out how to keep a gun with them.) You can listen to the recording of that show; my interview with Gila starts about a third of the way in.
Speaking of The Gun Nation: in case you missed it last week, here's a recording of the latest episode of The Gun Nation Featuring Doc Wesson. Doc and I talk about the Combat Focus Shooting Instructor Conference I just attended, I review the new book "Lessons From UN-Armed America" by Mark Walters and Rob Pincus, and we talk about hunting season, favorite shotguns, and a whole lot more.
Finally, don't forget that I'm a regular cohost on The Gun Nation Presented By Doc Wesson. It happens every other Wednesday evening at 6:pm Pacific/9:pm Eastern, and you can listen LIVE!
-=[ Grant ]=-
I recently received (courtesy of the author) a copy of the new book “Concealed Carry For Women” by Gila Hayes. (In the interest of full disclosure, I assisted Gila with some pictures for this book and there is at least one picture of me inside. I've also known her for many years and consider her a friend, which is not a word I use frivolously. Even if I didn't know her, however, I believe my review would be the same because this is a unique and valuable book!)
This is Gila’s third book. Her last effort, “Personal Defense For Women”, was so good that it made my unreserved recommendation list of self defense books. I particularly appreciated her emphasis on the personal responsibility part of the defensive equation, which too few in the field ever discuss. Man or woman, if you’ve never read it you should.
Personal Defense For Women was a generalized book that discussed defensive firearms as one option in the universe of response tools. Concealed Carry For Women, on the other hand, is focused on the particular needs of women who choose to carry a defensive firearm, or who are thinking about doing so.
It’s that “thinking about doing so” group for which this book is especially valuable. Gila goes into some detail about why a woman might want to consider carrying a concealed handgun, what the laws are, and the legalities of when lethal force is warranted. From there she segues into a discussion of gun types, holster types, belts, ammunition, gun purses, some basic information on training and practice, how to dress around the gun, and a whole lot more. It is truly “one stop shopping” for the woman just getting into the world of concealed carry.
There are two chapters which really stood out for me. The first was titled “Interactions With Society: Etiquette For The Armed Woman”. In it, she tackles such things as whether women should tell their (female) friends that they carry, and what to do if that information leaks out despite their careful discretion. She points out that women tend to share intimate details with their friends, but why sharing this particular detail may not be a good idea. As she puts it, “do not confuse telling all your secrets with bonding.” Sage advice for anyone, male or female!
The other is called “Embarrassing Moments For Armed Women”, where she deals with situations where guns were discovered — either through physical contact, or because one fell out of a holster. Frankly, this is something men never talk about; you’ll note that none of my books have ever broached the subject, and when I saw this chapter I slapped my forehead and thought “why didn’t I cover that?” In it, she shares some important lessons for everyone about what to do when your cover is blown.
As I said, there’s a lot more — all written in Gila’s signature style of strong advice delivered kindly and thoughtfully. No one does that better than Gila, and Concealed Carry For Women gets my recommendation for any woman who is considering adopting the armed lifestyle.
Click here to order your own copy of Concealed Carry For Women.
-=[ Grant ]=-
My latest book, Defensive Revolver Fundamentals, officially launched yesterday! The Outdoor Wire carried the press release, saying "In his new book, Defensive Revolver Fundamentals, Cunningham makes an informed and convincing case for the revolver as a personal defense firearm."
This is the book I’ve wanted to write for some time. It distills everything I’ve learned about defensive shooting up to this point, focusing specifically on the unique attributes and demands of the revolver.
The first section of my new book teaches you how to most efficiently operate your revolver -- snubby or full-sized -- in a worst-case scenario. I focus on techniques and skills that are most likely to work when you’ve been surprised and your body alarm reactions are in full force.
In the second part, I explore how violent criminal ambushes occur, how the body reacts to a life-threatening event, and then look at the skills which both work with the body’s reactions and are likely to stop the threat using the least of your defensive resources.
I’m also very proud that Rob Pincus wrote a great forward for the book!
Whether you have a snubnose in your pocket or a service revolver on your nightstand, I think you’ll find that this is the most in-depth, comprehensive look at the revolver as a modern defensive tool that currently exists.
It should be shipping from the warehouse soon; you can get your order in at Amazon today!
-=[ Grant ]=-
I love old shooting books. Not necessarily because the information is strictly correct or useful (many times it’s neither), but simply because they’re interesting. They give us a glimpse into how shooting technique and equipment have evolved, and more importantly they document the characters who brought us to where we are today.
For instance, I’d never recommend “No Second Place Winner” as a book on good defensive shooting technique. Even so it’s still worth reading to see how a great shooter - Bill Jordan - approached the topic. It remains one of my favorite shooting books even though I use almost nothing in it. It’s just fascinating to read.
Many of the classic books on shooting have been unavailable for years. While there are certainly used copies floating about, they can sometimes be hard to find - and often very expensive when you do find a copy.
Jeffrey Socher is a regular reader who likes old shooting books too, but he recognized how hard they can be to acquire. That prompted him to start a new business: Sportsman's Vintage Press, which reprints those hard-to-find titles!
Jeffrey started with Elmer Keith's classic "Sixguns". Now that's a title which is not unheard of on the used market, but good copies are starting to get scarce and all are going up in price. You can get a fresh copy from Sportsman's Vintage Press for less than $20.
What about the rarer Keith books? Try finding "Sixgun Cartridges and Loads", "Shotguns by Keith", "Elmer Keith's Big Game Hunting", or "Big Game Rifles and Cartridges". They're not unheard of, but they're harder to locate than Sixguns and often more expensive as well. Jeffrey's got them all on his site.
It's his latest title, though, which has me excited: he's reprinted the very difficult to find "Secrets of Double Action Shooting" by Bob Nichols. This is one of the true classics in the revolver world, and one which has been sadly missing from the marketplace for too long. When decent copies show up they're invariably north of $100 (sometimes WAY north!) Thanks to Jeffrey, it's available from Sportsman's Vintage Press right now for only $15.97. At that price every revolver enthusiast should have a copy!
I’ve saved the best part for last: Jeffrey is extending a special discount to readers of this blog! if you enter the coupon code WYUC36M7 at checkout, you'll get 15% off your entire order.
(Let's put than into perspective: you can get all of Keith's books, PLUS Secrets of Double Action Shooting, for less than you'd pay for a used copy of just the Nichols book. Now that's a deal.)
Head on over to his site and pick up a book - or two or three - and be sure to thank Jeffrey for the discount!
-=[ Grant ]=-
I've got a new book coming out, and my editor is giving you a chance to win a pre-release copy!
The Gun Digest Shooter's Guide to Handguns is all about the kinds of handguns available, how to use them, how to pick ammunition, and much more. It's due to hit the shelves at the end of the month, but you might win a copy before it's even in stores!
Click here to go to the Gun Digest entry page, but hurry - the deadline is Tuesday at midnight!
-=[ Grant ]=-
This is such a good deal I want everyone to take advantage of it!
Gun Digest is having a warehouse sale, and for a limited time you can get a copy of Gila Hayes' "Personal Defense for Women" for only $8.00 !!
This is the book I personally recommend for women who are new to or thinking about adopting a self-reliant life style. I've not read a better book on the topic than Gila's, and this is a chance to get it at wholesale pricing. Buy extras to give away to friends and family - it's that good.
-=[ Grant ]=-
When I was just a young lad one of my favorite books was "The Mad Scientists' Club." It was the collected stories of a group of kids in the fictional town of Mammoth Falls (out near Strawberry Lake) who were, as the title suggests, very much "into" science and technology as a hobby. The characters were inspiring to me, as I too was a techno-geek. (I had a chemistry lab perched in the rafters of our farm's shop, and my bedroom was full of electronic bits and pieces that I'd repurposed into a hi-fi system.)
These were kids to which I could relate, which was encouraging - because almost no one in the logging/farming town in which I grew up was anything like me. In retrospect, that was probably a good thing for rest of the citizenry - who knows what destruction a small tribe of Grant clones could have wrought?
I checked that book out of the school's library so often that my name was the only one on the checkout card. (We didn't have library cards in school - we signed our name to a checkout card which sat in a small envelope attached to the inside back cover. When the card filled up, a blank one was stapled to it for more capacity. I think there were three stapled cards in this book, with my name filling two of them.)
It's been a long time since I thought about that book, but Alibris - the source for used and out of print books of all descriptions - has many copies. Turns out the book was reprinted a few years back, though I suspect that most of the buyers were of my generation, attempting to recapture some of their mis-spent youth.
I think I'll do the same thing.
-=[ Grant ]=-
In the last installment I bemoaned the current fad of attaching AR-15 buttstocks to anything that doesn't move. I'd like to have the adjustability, mind you, but without the wobble and general unsightliness of the AR stock. I was passing by the ATI booth, and found that in addition to their AR-style collapsible stocks (they're big in that market), they also make a more traditional looking collapsing stock that incorporates both a cheekrest and a very thick recoil absorbing pad.
Called the Akita, they have models to fit a wide variety of guns - including my beloved Ithaca Model 37 in 20 gauge! Comes in black, earthtones, or a faux woodgrain finish. It will give me the adjustability my short arms need without the Mall Ninja look I despise, and i think I'll be buying one or two!
Notice how the cheekrest covers the extended portion of the Akita stock.
If I had to pick the biggest crowd pleaser of this show, I'd have to say it was the new Colt Model 1877 'Bulldog' Gatling gun. Colt is now making replicas (technically, I suppose, it's simply a long production hiatus) of the smallest production Gatling gun. Fully functional and authentic in every way, they're limiting the first run of these beauties to 50; ironically, that's almost three times the number that were originally produced!
I had a good chat with John Buhay, the man in charge of the program (and the person who assembles every one of them.) They went back to the original Colt blueprints, but those proved to be incomplete and in places actually inaccurate. It was necessary to find one of the existing originals, take it apart, and reverse engineer some of the parts. Getting their first prototype to work took a year and a half! The result, though, is that the parts of the new guns will interchange with the originals. That's testament to his team's desire to make them exactly like Colt did originally.
Well, not exactly! The new guns have far better finishing than the originals could ever hope to have, and they're stronger too. The majority of the gun is produced from brass castings, and by using more aluminum in the alloy and less of the original lead they were able to dramatically increase the strength and wear resistance of the brass. These guns are stronger, and will last longer, than the originals.
It takes 200 man-hours to make one Bulldog. The main casting, of brass, weighs in at 110 lbs. After machining away everything that doesn't look like a Gatling, they end up with a part that weighs 40 lbs! After all the machining is done the parts are polished and assembled. The polishing is amazing - not a flat spot or radius change anywhere, and it reflects like a mirror. Gorgeous!
The MSRP is $50,000, and I'm told virtually all of the first run are spoken for. Given that an original recently sold for over $300k, I'd say it's something of a bargain!
The business end of the Colt 1877 ‘Bulldog’ Gatling gun. Technically, it’s a revolver - right?
It’s a small world! I was in the press room one day waiting for a podcast interview when I noticed the fellow on the other side of the table had a badge indicating he was from my neck of the woods. We started talking, and it turns out that his company produces a product that has become a staple of hunters here in the Northwest: The Target Book For North American Game. It's a largish book of targets to help the hunter understand ballistics, trajectories, sight-in distances, and aiming points for a wide range of animals.
The targets cover 95 different cartridges and their trajectories, showing how to aim and sight in to reach a specified "kill zone" with that cartridge. American Hunter magazine once called it "ballistics for dummies", and the creators are proud of that appellation! They wanted a product that would help the average hunter take advantage of ballistics without having to dive into the technicalities, and The Target Book does just that.
You can get it at Cabela's, Sportsman's Warehouse, and Wholesale Sports or directly from the publisher: Percentage Tags, Inc. in Salem, OR.
I'll end this SHOT Show review with something surprising. If you've hung around here for more than a couple of minutes you know that I'm not a huge fan of the 1911, so it takes something really special to get me to even look at one. At SHOT I found the booth of Cabot Guns, and I've got to admit that their guns are special.
I had a long talk with Ray Rozic, the fellow in charge of their operation, and he showed me their products inside and out. He's a tool and die maker, and the parent company's major business is doing super high precision machining for the aerospace and medical fields. There is more than enough talent there to build anything to any tolerances desired, and we spent a lot of time talking about metrology (the science of measurement), heat treating, tolerance stacking, and a lot of other technical trivia. In just a few moments I realized that I was in the presence of someone who not only knows what precision is, but is capable of delivering it. He also enjoys showing off what his team can do!
The quality of machining on their guns is stunning. I actually had to break out a magnifying glass to examine the detail work on the National Standard model he handed me; it was that good. The breechface, for example, is smooth - not a bump or blemish on it. Slide to frame fit was perfect, as was the barrel lockup, and with zero lube on the rails the slide cycled like it was running on linear bearings. The barrel bushing (their own design) is perfectly fitted and even tiny details, like a reversing radius on the disconnector slot in the slide, have been given attention and are done to perfection. Flats are flat, the rounded surfaces have no flat spots or changes in the radius, and the trigger breaks crisply and cleanly. That's just the beginning.
This kind of quality doesn't come cheap; this particular gun sells for $5,950.00, but given the level of workmanship I saw I think it's a fair price. It's gorgeous, and people who I trust tell me they shoot superbly.
If I were ever to purchase a new 1911, Cabot is the one I'd buy.
Yes, I’m using a magnifying glass on this 1911. The machining is that good. Photo by Tom Walls.
Ray Rozic of Cabot filling me in on one of the details I observed. Photo by Tom Walls.
I hope you've enjoyed my SHOT Show Spectacular this week. But wait, there’s more! Tune in tomorrow for a special Saturday edition of The Revolver Liberation Alliance, where I'm going to be talking about the food I chose to sample on my trip to and from Sin CIty.
-=[ Grant ]=-
iPad owners, you no longer need to feel that you're playing second fiddle to the Kindle aficionados out there - because The Gun Digest Book Of The Revolver has finally come to the iTunes Bookstore!
-=[ Grant ]=-
A couple of months ago I brought you the news of the sad death of Dennis Ritchie, the co-developer of the Unix operating system. As it happens, his death occurred just before the 'official' anniversary of the birth of Unix - the publishing of the first Unix manual in November of 1971.
Spectrum, one of the publications of IEEE (the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers), has a great article of the birth and impact of Unix. It's a must-read for anyone interested in computers or the history of technology.
One thing in the article struck me: that an original copy of Unix did not exist until it was recreated (and only then after great effort) by some software engineers. It's interesting to think that a vital part of technological history was essentially lost, and might have remained that way had someone not cared about it.
Electronic creations are fleeting; they're jettisoned wholesale when new and better creations are introduced, and nowhere is that more true than with software. We upgrade our software and throw out the old versions; the media deteriorates or the ability to read it is lost. It's hard, for instance, to find an actual copy of any early software for any computer, let alone the more obscure stuff. Software is planned obsolescence in its highest form, and one where the old literally disappears permanently at a keystroke to make room for the new.
The topic of preserving our technological heritage is one I think about frequently. There are many early and important computers which no longer exist; in a few rare instances, like the first version of Unix, enthusiasts have taken it upon themselves to build replicas. The Colossus project in England is a perfect example, without which we would have no record of the pioneering machine or the people who built it.
There is only one SAGE - the largest computer ever built - left in existence, and it is non-functional. These and many more achievements, and the people who made them, are fading into obscurity.
This is of particular interest to me as an author. My work here on this blog (and the rest of my site) exists only as ones and zeroes on a computer somewhere. At some future point all of what I've done will simply disappear; electronic copies of my book can disappear too, no longer left to future discovery on the dusty shelves of some thrift store.
Nooks, Kindles and iPads may in fact be the future of reading, but I'd still like to see paper books available if for no other reason than to serve as a marker to future generations: we were here, this is what we did, and you don't need to restore some ancient device (if it's even possible) just to read them.
'Ephemera' is the term used to describe things that weren't meant to last, things that were never expected to leave an imprint on the world. If we're not careful, everything we do - and our very existence - will end up in that category.
-=[ Grant ]=-
I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving weekend - ours was filled with windstorm destruction and a blown head gasket on my primary vehicle. My spare time for the next couple of weeks will be filled with hauling debris and fixing an engine. Why can't these things happen in summer, when it's nice to be outside working?
Thanksgiving weekend seems these days to be filled more with thoughts of football than of peaceful coexistence with one's fellow man. Here in Oregon we had our annual Civil War Game - Oregon State University versus University of Oregon, the prize being the opportunity to play in another game of some sort. (No, I don't follow college football - does it show?) I personally find it rather sad that folks can tell you who's playing, why they're playing, who the head coaches are, and even the names of a couple of ousted coaches from a college clear back in Pennsylvania - but can't name five of the top physics programs in the country.
(Just for the record, this is not age-related curmudgeonliness - as my siblings will gleefully tell you, I had precisely the same opinion as a kid.)
Someone (could have been Tam, but I’m not absolutely positive) recently turned me on to a cool gun blog: Forgotten Weapons. Lots of great stuff about guns you may not even know existed, presented with a decidedly scholarly bent. Immediately became one of the few in my daily RSS feed.
A couple of days ago I found out that my new book, The Gun Digest Book of the Revolver, is being sold in the U.K. by Amazon. As of this morning the folks across the pond only had two copies left, which sounds as though it's a big seller over there. Then again, they may have only ordered three copies total - this realization serving to keep my ego in check!
-=[ Grant ]=-
My new book - the Gun Digest Book Of The Revolver - is getting terrific reviews. Besides the traditional dead tree version, it's also available on the Kindle, Nook, and Sony ebook readers - and coming very soon to the iPad!
Paper version - Amazon store
Kindle format - Amazon store
Nook ebook format - B&N store
Sony reader format - Sony store
Have a great Thanksgiving!
-=[ Grant ]=-
My new book, the "Gun Digest Book Of The Revolver", is now shipping from Amazon!
BotR, for short, is a general guide to the world of the double action revolver. It covers all kinds of things a revolver shooter needs to know: how to fit the gun to the hand, caliber selection, mastering trigger control, sight picture and alignment, customization, reloading, one hand manipulation, and a whole lot more!
It's even got a foreword by "the man" himself, Massad Ayoob!
It's a one-stop source of information on living with the double action revolver. Perfect for the person who's just started shooting and has picked a revolver, or for the autoloader shooter who wants (or needs) to know how to run a wheelgun.
Buy it here. There’s even a Kindle version available!
-=[ Grant ]=-
Mark your calendars: in late October, Gun DIgest Books will release a brand new title: The Gun Digest Book of the Revolver - written by yours truly!
That's right, I've finally written my first book, and it's a doozy. With 240 pages and over 200 illustrations (all mine, except for the cover photo) it's a general guide to the world of the double action revolver. It covers all kinds of things a revolver shooter needs to know: how to fit the gun to the hand, caliber selection, mastering trigger control, sight picture and alignment, customization, reloading, one hand manipulation, and a whole lot more!
It's even got a foreword by "the man" himself, Massad Ayoob!
It's a one-stop source of information on living with the double action revolver. Perfect for the person who's just started shooting and has picked a revolver, or for the autoloader shooter who wants (or needs) to know how to run a wheelgun. It's currently up for pre-order at Amazon, and they'll be shipping by November 10th. It's a big book, so it's not exactly a stocking stuffer, but it would make a great gift for anyone you know who likes revolvers. Heck, you could even treat yourself and buy a copy for your personal library!
-=[ Grant ]=-
It's easy to get preoccupied with in the shooting part of self defense preparations. Let's face it: shooting is fun!
If you take self defense seriously, however, at some point you have to ask about the "after part" - what happens after you've discharged your gun at an assailant. This is an area that is infrequently covered, or simply covered in misinformation.
Marty Hayes wants to change that.
Marty is the President of the Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network, which has just released his booklet titled "What Every Gun Owner Needs to Know About Self Defense Law".
It's a very readable introduction to the considerations which should be made before you're involved in a self-defense shooting. It lays out, it easy to understand language, the legal ramifications of the use of deadly force and how to best prepare to navigate the legal system.
Marty has spent years studying the topic, first as a police officer, then a shooting instructor, and now as the possessor of a degree in law. Marty is in the unique position of knowing not just the theoretical application of the law, but how it it plays out in real life.
He told me that he wrote the 16-page booklet to counter "the oft times incredibly bad advice" that abounds in gunshops and on the internet. His goal is to "change the paradigm in which people receive their training in deadly force for self defense." It's a tall order, but this is a great start! It lays out a superb introduction to the legal realities of self defense. It's factual information that every gun owner needs to read.
You can download your own free copy from the Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network. Just click on the image of the booklet and it will download as a PDF file. Print it out, read it, keep it handy.
I'll be giving a copy to everyone I know and everyone I teach. You should too.
-=[ Grant ]=-
Rob Pincus' original book on Combat Focus Shooting was published in 2006, and in a very few pages - 120, give or take - managed to present an entirely new way of looking at defensive handgun training.
Instead of forcing contrived techniques onto a fight, techniques that might not be appropriate or even effective, CFS offered a radically different perspective: pay attention to how the body reacts to a threat, base your techniques on what works well with those reactions, and train in those techniques as often and as realistically as possible. It was a concept-driven philosophy, and stood in stark contrast to the majority of training that was (and remains) technique-driven.
CFS sounds simple, and at its core it is. The concepts that back it up, however, draw from many fields, and explaining them in writing takes a bit of space. The brevity with which the original book it was written meant that some parts of the program didn't get the exploration or explanation they deserved.
At the same time the Combat Focus Shooting courses, which were the origin of the book, were evolving. Much new material was added, and there were changes to the way the program looked at certain aspects of defensive handgunning. It was time to update the book.
What an update Pincus has brought us!
"Combat Focus Shooting - Evolution 2010" is not just a simple edit. It's been greatly expanded, now over 210 pages and with very little fluff. Gone is the minimalist treatment of the concepts that underlie the program; the new book feels luxurious in comparison, with every facet of the Combat Focus philosophy explored and explained. The new edition makes it easier to understand what CFS is all about and especially why it's different from other courses. It's much more readable and closely follows the path of a live CFS class.
Of course nothing beats taking a CFS course in person, but this book will give you a good grounding in the concepts and science behind intuitive shooting. If you want to develop defensive shooting skills that reflect the realities of actual encounters, "Combat Focus Shooting - Evolution 2010" should be on your reading list. It's a must-have for every serious student of defensive handgunning.
Of course, it's available in my Amazon bookstore!
-=[ Grant ]=-
NEW ARTICLE UP - Check out my latest article, Dealing With The Double Action Trigger, at the Personal Defense Network!
COWBOY TACTICAL - Don't know if I learned of this from Tam or Uncle, but it's funny either way! From Cemetery’s Gun Blob:
GREAT INTERVIEWS - The ProArms Podcast recently featured interviews with Gila Hayes and Kathy Jackson, regarding their respective books: Personal Defense for Women and Lessons from Armed America. Highly recommended listening (and reading!)
A LITTLE RECOGNITION - Many people have asked about the site's redesign. The site is built in RapidWeaver; the theme is from Nick Cates Design. Last week I received an email from Nick, who said he was impressed how I'd used his template. He asked if he could feature grantcunningham.com in his Showcase, and of course I said yes! You can see it here.
HOUSEKEEPING - You may notice that the tag cloud has changed a bit. I wasn't happy with how I'd handled the tags, so I erased them and started over. Hopefully what you see now is an improvement in usability.
A LITTLE MORE HUMOR - I ran across this link in my archives, and couldn't resist posting it again: How Gun Magazines Write Articles.
-=[ Grant ]=-
Personal Defense for Women: Practical Advice for Self Protection by Gila Hayes
It is only now that society is beginning to recognize what those of us who've been married for decades know all too well: men and women are different. 'Equal', as it happens, does not mean 'the same', and we are slowly coming to realize this. (Back to the future!)
Because we're different, it's difficult - if not impossible - for a man to understand, let alone sensitively address, the feelings and fears that women experience as they approach the very concept of self defense. "A good man always knows his limitations", says Dirty Harry, and all men have this one. (Any man who believes he doesn't is in denial.)
Recognizing my limitations requires that I refer the women in my life to the best source of information for their personal safety. For the last decade-and-a-half, that source has been the book "Effective Defense" by Gila Hayes. It deals with the gritty details of self defense from that particular perspective only women possess.
Last year, Gila was given the opportunity to completely rewrite her landmark tome, to bring it up to date and expand on many of the topics. The result is "Personal Defense for Women", and I'm happy to say it is even better than the original. That, folks, is saying a lot.
Though the word "defense" is in the title, Gila's book is a comprehensive guide to women's safety, which goes well beyond what we think of as defense. Gila explains: "...I earnestly advocate crime avoidance over fighting, and escape over shooting. Safe housing, safe behavior, and awareness of danger when you're at home, work, in your car or in public, are among the first survival lessons I want to emphasize."
This is evident just by looking at the table of contents: the first nine chapters deal with avoidance, not shooting. Gila tackles things that would be taboo for me to even broach; for instance, the delicate topic of drawing unwanted attention with a revealing wardrobe. She points out that certain activities are inherently more risky than others, and the aware woman needs to acknowledge that choosing some pleasures may carry larger risks than less exciting options.
Gila talks about responsibilities as well as rights, gently pointing out that the self-reliant woman chooses her safety level through her actions. This sounds simple, but as she expounds on the topic the power of that concept becomes evident.
The rest of the book deals with the active defense - fighting in all forms. She starts with information on empty hand defenses, and moves through various less-than-lethal tools before starting a particularly comprehensive discussion about firearms. Gila is a renowned trainer and champion shooter, and her fluency with the subject is obvious. Women just starting out with firearms could not be in better hands. She provides authoritative and clearly articulated information about guns, ammunition, shooting techniques, and even a great exploration of the merits of the home defense shotgun.
One chapter I liked very much was devoted to the use of the Taser, and one very needed chapter deals with dressing around a handgun. (Men have it incredibly easy compared to women, and we always fail to appreciate the difficulties they have concealing a pistol!)
While all the chapters are good, there are a couple of standouts that make it a "must buy": one deals with safety on school and college campuses (including the active shooter scenario), and the other is a sensitive discussion of rape prevention and survival. These are important topics, and Gila deals with them in the way that only she can.
If it seems that I like this book, I do - very much. It has instantly become my new recommendation for all women interested in self defense, and I can hardly think of a better gift for a wife, girlfriend, sister, mother, or daughter than "Personal Defense for Women."
Now a disclaimer: At Gila's request, I provided some of the pictures in this book, and my name appears in a couple of places. Many of the actors in the pictures are people that I know well. It would seem that I am biased with regards to the merits of "Personal Defense for Women", and you're right - but it's because I've been consistently and actively recommending its predecessor for 15 years! The old book was good, and this edition is even better. I'm proud to have played a small role in its production.
This is a worthy update, and there is so much new information that owners of "Effective Defense" would be well advised to pick up a copy of "Personal Defense for Women."
-=[ Grant ]=-
Just because something's old, doesn't mean that it isn't useful. That's the apparent philosophy behind one of my favorite places to spend money: Lindsay's Technical Books.
Lindsay's primary business is reprinting out of print and public domain books on a wide range of technical topics. If you want to learn how to run a lathe, construct things out of sheet metal, do chemistry experiments, build a radio, embalm a body, repair a locomotive, make paint, or just about anything else from the last century, Lindsay probably has a book on the subject. That book, most likely, will only be available from them.
Some of the titles are obscure while some are better known, and occasionally you'll find one that was once considered the standard in its field. One of these is the classic "How To Run A Lathe", by the South Bend lathe company. Many older machinists started their careers with that book, and Lindsay's is the place to buy a fresh copy.
(When I was barely a teenager and apprenticing as a watch & clockmaker, one of my primary references was a book called "The Watchmaker's Lathe" by Ward Goodrich. At the time it was widely available, but went out of print a number of years back. Lindsay acquired it, and now reprints that classic title. It's a bit disconcerting to see a book from my personal past being sold by a purveyor of "antique" information!)
A small selection of their books are current, commercially available titles, while others are specialized works that would have no other sales venue were it not for Lindsay's odd clientele.
Of course they have a website (www.lindsaybks.com), but don't expect much. First, only a small fraction of their titles are on their site - you need to request a printed catalog to see what's available. Even then, you won't receive a comprehensive catalog, but after a few quarterly issues you'll have a pretty good idea of what they've got.
You can order online, but it's in the form of a secure email: you type in the catalog number and part of the title - no point & click or shopping cart at Lindsay's!
They're not convenient, can be downright cantankerous (spend some time rummaging through the site for a taste of their collective personality), but they're always fun and educational. When the latest Lindsay's catalog comes in the mail, I've been known to drop everything just to browse their latest offerings. If you have even a passing interest in technology gone by, I guarantee you'll find a way to spend money with them, too.
-=[ Grant ]=-
Over the weekend I got a nice email from the shooter in last week's article. Sure enough, the screw had backed out and let the crane past. He's ordered a new screw, and plans to LocTite it in. Good plan!
(The sad thing was that he was shooting really well up until that happened...ruined a perfectly good stage.)
Those of you looking for Lubriplate SFL grease may be in luck - I got this interesting email last week:
Just for your info, I'll be offering the Lubriplate "SFL" NLGI #0 grease in 16 oz. cans starting in about two weeks.
The grease will come in screw-top metal cans with a brush attached to the inside of the lid, real handy for applying the grease without making a mess.
Retail will be $19.95 plus actual shipping, without any inflated "handling" charges.
Email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Gila Hayes over at the Armed Citizens’ Legal Defense Network recently reviewed a book that I had to buy: "Meditations on Violence: A Comparison of Martial Arts Training & Real World Violence" by Rory Miller. Miller's treatise is about violent criminal behavior - how it happens, why it happens, and what does and doesn't work to counter it. It's written from the perspective of empty hand martial arts (as opposed to the martial art of the firearm), but everything in it is applicable to the person who carries a firearm for protection.
He goes to great lengths to dispel both our romanticized notions of what violent acts are really like, and our belief in our own ability to deal with them. Early in the book, he says "you are what you are, not what you think you are." (Emphasis added.) The rest of the book shows us what why that's true, and why what we believe is not always reality. His perspectives on training, of what is/is not valuable, follow the same hard-nosed refusal to buckle under to fantasy.
This book has earned a permanent place in my library, which is not something I can say of many works. I highly recommend it to anyone who carries a gun for self defense, and perhaps even more to those who don't. (One warning: this book may be unsettling to those who've become attached to their images of how a predator interacts with his/her prey. As Miller reminds us, reality is rarely pretty - and his work is chock-full of reality.)
-=[ Grant ]=-