T Nation

The Tactical Life


I think it’s down to drive. Some people have it. Some people don’t. It’s drive that makes us prepare for the fight that may never come. It’s drive that makes us keep fit. It’s drive that makes us pay money to fight people with our hands for fun and spend our own dime pounding rounds down range. It’s drive that builds skill.

Awareness is a byproduct of drive, because awareness takes effort. More driven people will tend to be more aware. The most driven guy who is the most ready is often the least likely to have a problem because the predators (unless they’re really desperate) are more likely to look at him and think, ‘Nah… I’ll try the next one.’

Which is kind of a paradox, because that guy is often good to go and his inner voice is often whispering “C’mon, try me. I’m game.”


One of my favorite things over the last several months has been sledge hammer swings. I have 6 and 8 lb hammers and access to heavy tires both here and the Kabul Embassy. I have one of those little portable boxing round timers and set it for two minutes, believe me, you have to pace yourself or you will burn out quick. I switch from right to left hand, overheard and side swings. This is one of the best “finishers” I have ever done and works extremely well after working the heavy bag, or, with my other favorite, picking up and (trying) to throw a 70 lb. sandbag for distance. Ha, not very far, but I have been working with a Judo guy for about a year and I can a difference in my throws

Personal observation: If you decide to use sledge hammer swings, hit with the flat side of the hammer, the round point has away of bouncing back and biting you on the leg, if your stances is anyway off…

I agree with you, Rob Shaul has some good programs and I like his no bullshit way of writing.


I agree, good post. Hard to instill drive in someone who don’t give a crap. I find most people who have always had a safe life to be the worst. It’s the Christmas season, watch your 6.


@idaho Back atcha brother. It’s the crazy season.

Edit: Spouted off without thinking.


I figured loaded carries were most suited to both my logistics and likely occupational demands. Soldiers have to carry heavy loads on a routine basis, and what better way to ensure those heavy deadlifts translate to tactical tasks than carry something and walk with it for a distance.


I fall right in the middle of the two types you’ve described.

I hope there isn’t a fight, but if there is I want to be there. Not because I have a desire for combat, but because I don’t want my brothers and sisters going into it without me.

I show up to work for a pay cheque. I admit it. I am really looking forward to retiring with my pension. That doesn’t mean I show up to work unprepared or with delusions of what could happen. I train for the fight and I don’t pretend it isn’t going to happen. I will be a very happy man if I go my entire career without having to shoot anyone or be shot, stabbed, or hospitalized. I don’t want to get bloody. I try to de-escalate every situation I am in. I know some guys who amp things up, and I hate working with them.

I would never make fun of someone for being conscious of the dangers of the job. Some guys will come in and tell stories about how drunk everyone got the day before or the colour of stain someone is putting on their deck. That’s fine, but you can tell that is where their head is 24/7. I love it when someone comes to work prepared ready to go and then hits the gym on the way home, or hearing about the range day guys had on their own time. I see this in younger guys more often as they are more gung-ho about the offensive work, but they usually lack in some other areas. For example, many of these guys do not wear seat belts and go to calls at unreasonable and unsafe speeds. They are prepared for an active shooter, but fail to see the threat in their own driving habits. I wonder how many of them know where the FA bag is, too.

I have a military back ground (no combat experience) which has put me around a lot of people who have been in real combat. Most of them are fucked up in one way or another. Some are finally taking a knee ten years after the fact. A younger version of me wanted to get some, but now I have seen what that truly costs and I don’t think I am yearning to pay for it. I chose the profession I am in and I intend to be a complete professional. I don’t shy away from violence, but I don’t welcome it, either.


@Watchdog For sure man. I hear you. Honestly, I probably came off a little hotter and douchier than I intended in that comment.

Full disclosure: I scratched and clawed for 7 years to get hired. I volunteered a ton of hours helping members train for their worst day in a metro department while I did my best to be ready for my own worst day.

I started because I wanted to hunt actual bad guys and push back the chaos and darkness out there. It’s a bit of a simplistic view, but it was where my passion was and is.

Now I’m posted somewhere… nice. There are very few ‘bad guys’ here. Just a lot of people making stupid choices or having a bad day. We’re busy and occasionally things do go bad, but honestly much of what we’re busy with doesn’t require police in the first place, it just requires people to be adults and/or mind their own damn business.

It’s frustrating. I’m sure many people would give their left nut to have this ‘problem’, but it’s a different kind of grind. There’s a sense that the reality of what police work is passing me by. It’s that frustration that came through in my comment.

I’ve worked with guys who can start a fight in an empty phone booth. I’m not a fan either. I tend to come in pretty soft and low with people, if they give me the option. I think I do an alright job talking to people on a human level and I’ve talked more than one guy into an ambulance as opposed to a squad car and resolved a lot of things without anyone even needing to go in handcuffs. It’s always good to help someone out when you can.

As long as someone does their job, is physically ready and makes good decisions, I’m in no position to call them down. I think there’s a widespread complacency and sense of entitlement in our profession, but at the end of the day, my guys are family regardless. A somewhat dysfunctional family, but family.


@batman730 I didn’t think you were either of those at all, FTR.

I feel your pain. It took me a little while and like you I volunteered a lot of my time to various organizations. My career has been pretty quiet and I always wonder if I will ever regret not working a war zone/inner city. Luckily, I can have opportunities to go to an actual war zone. I think I will scratch that itch if these thoughts persist in the next couple years. I don’t want to be old with those kind of regrets. Life has taught me I regret things I have not done far more than the things I have done.

I understand your frustration. Many of my calls have been for neighbours who couldn’t get along over petty BS. A few calls like that and I’m mentally fatigued. I’d rather go to a bar fight than deal with that crap.

I think you’re right about the widespread complacency and entitlement. I’ve come across some real parasitic types before and I’ve heard of worse. I think police unions serve a purpose, but services need to be able to dispose of some of the dead weight holding the rest of the crew down. It’s too hard to fire the people who shouldn’t be there.


Motivational Monday:


You’ve got two options when shit gets hard on this journey of life, either sack up and push forward or back up and go back to what you were doing. .

Do you think you’re the only one who has to pry their eyes open to wake up at zero dark thirty to get ahead of the game? Do you think you’re the only one who gets sore from training? Do you think you’re the only one who gets tired and mentally feels drain? Not a chance. .

We all go through the same shit, the difference is the majority go back to sleep or take a break. You don’t want to be the majority you want to be the minority. .

So do what the minority do. Sack the shit and train.

Think you can’t do it? Read this.



Thought for the day: Always be ready


Tactical Tuesday: For those who carry: Transferring back from one place to another, My choice for concealment carry is usually based on the weather. Working in AFG, I don’t worry about concealment, but, in the states, I carry concealed and consider open carry to be your right, but, tactically stupid.

Hot weather can be covered with just a shirt with either a 4 position or an appendix draw. Cold weather is a different story, drawing your pistol from under a winter jacket is very, very slow. The fastest is the simplest, carrying a small handgun in the jacket’s front pocket, but, dangerous with no way to secure the weapon in a hands on situation. Shoulder holsters are good in the winter, fast access, especially from a vehicle or theater/ movie seat. Once again, they are really dangerous in a hands on situation, because the grip is always facing your opponent.

For those in cold climates, what is your choice?

Another view:

Drawing your pistol when it is covered by clothing, in a bag, or however you personally choose to carry it, is a complex skill and requires a lot of practice. I know it takes longer to run drills from concealment than having a warbelt, OWB holster, etc. But the fact is, that’s probably not how you carry every day. You don’t want to be messing around with your shirt for the first time when you need to draw your pistol quickly.

A common technique for getting clothes out of the way is to extend the thumb of the firing hand, place it under the article of clothing, and use a sweeping motion to ensure that the will not interfere with drawing the pistol. The most important part is that you practice both dry and live fire, with the type of clothing that you wear.

Draw Stroke is the term used to describe the path that the pistol takes from the holster to being fired. This can vary tremendously based on the person and their training, but efficiency and accuracy are key. There are very few people in this world that are fast enough to “outdraw” someone who pulls a gun on them. So instead of working on your quick draw, you may want to consider how you are going to react if you hear gunfire in the building you’re in and work towards drawing the exact same way every time.

Dry fire practice is a great way to increase your draw skills, but remember to focus on consistency and not worry about breaking speed records right off the bat. Speed comes with practice.



Hate to admit it, but same as summer. Inside waist band, 1 o-clock with the beavertail safety of the 1911 or hammer of the ruger lodged firmly in my protruding gut.

Not fast, but I can always monitor the print and I don’t like SOB carry because of injury potential.


Thought for the day:


How does one avoid being a victim on a platter? The truth, as William tells it, is relatively simple. The “average” criminal — a term we use only to make allowances for the occasional psychopathic genius — is looking for easy money. Just like the rest of us, they want the largest possible payday with minimal effort invested. But what does easy money look like to a violent criminal actor? Well … what does an easy score look like to other predators?

Imagine lions hunting on the African plains. (A visual we poach directly from one of Aprill’s slides.) Do those lions waiting in ambush look for the strongest, fastest antelope on the Serengeti? Hardly. In fact, in a move that’s downright unsporting, they deliberately target slower antelope that may appear wounded, unaware, and struggling to keep up. Why? Because working hard is hard work, and why fight the king of the herd when you can just pluck one or two off the edges.

Even when the predators have two legs instead of four, the thought process isn’t much different. In his presentation, one of the key factors that Aprill talks about is gait. There’s ample experimental research to support the idea that exactly how you put one foot in front of the other could make you look more or less appealing as a victim of violent crime. Specifically, the Grayson-Stein study conducted in the mid ’80s gives us a thought-provoking start point for understanding this concept. Grayson and Stein videotaped people walking around New York City. The people videotaped spanned all sizes, shapes, colors, and genders — every single one just going about their daily business with no coaching or instruction from the researchers

The footage was then shown to a sample of 53 prisoners in upstate New York, all of them incarcerated for violent crimes, who were asked to rate each person from “a very easy rip-off” to “too heavy — would avoid.” Most of the convicts made their decisions in seven seconds or less, with three quarters of the inmates rating the same people as “very easy” victims. Even more interesting, many of the cons had trouble articulating why they chose the people they did. The selectees just seemed to “look like good victims” – furthering the earlier parallel to other predators elsewhere in nature. After further analyzing the video, Grayson and Stein were able to distill down some of the key features of those people selected as victims:

– Their stride was either abnormally short or long. They tended to shuffle or drag their feet.
– Their speed was different than the surrounding crowd — typically slower, indicating a lack of purpose. Though an unnaturally quick pace might also indicate nervousness or uncertainty.
– Selected victims seemed to lack smoothness or fluidity in their movement. Jerky motions, swaying or shifting throughout their gait were common among those chosen by convicts.
– Overall demeanor or body set was also key. Those who slumped, looked down as they walked or seemed to avoid eye contact were selected as victims at a disproportionate rate.

We don’t want to oversimplify the problem by telling you to just walk tall with your chin up and everything will be fine. But anybody with military or LE experience has probably heard trite phrases like “look like a hard target” or “keep your head on a swivel” ad nauseum. The material presented by Aprill suggests that the concept is real and effective.


My mother used to have a city job when I was kid in a really tough town. She had to walk a few blocks from the parking complex to the office through a pretty high crime area. Many of her coworkers were robbed throughout her time there, but she never had an issue. She’s a 5’ petite blonde woman, by all accounts a pretty easy target.

She explained to me that she never ran into trouble because she walked with confidence and observed her surroundings, while many of her colleagues shuffled and had the look of fear.

It probably helped that during her short walk she was armed with self defense tools that were quickly deployable (not a firearm though).


Thought for the day: Holiday travel with the family. Who is the the protector in charge? Review your tactics, whether its a hotel room or Grandmother’s house.


Thought for the day:

I am going on leave for a week in the boonies. I want to wish every one a safe and happy holiday and I especially want to thank every one for their input on this thread. We all learn together. As you are out and about, keep this in the back of your mind and watch your 6.



Thought for the day:

When you take little responsibility, you rely on the world to guide you and provide for you, which can lead to misery and depression due to lack of control of your environment and appreciation from your tribe. When you no longer control your environment you become a soft target waiting to be taken advantage of.



Motivational Monday Who is training today?

(I am in no way associated with HTK)



Thought for the day (1): In my own experience, this is ringing true.



Thought for the day(2): A humorous explanation of the pistol fundamentals by Pat Mac: