By Rich Grassi
Now for our news roundup for April 14, 2009:
The AP reports that a road crew working in rural Alabama discovered a valuable collection of US and foreign military weapons had been dumped in a creek. Authorities said that the weapons included a 50mm mortar, a 20mm cannon, 2 belt fed machine guns and a Thompson machinegun (sic). Our publisher, on being advised of the haul, noted that he can't even catch fish . . .
Meanwhile, US Navy SEALS shot and killed three pirates, one of whom had an AK-47 pointing at their hostage, the Captain of Maersk Alabama
. Stories vary, but it seems the distance was around 25 yards in a heaving sea. The three pirates were dropped, the hostage was recovered unharmed.
Buried in the story we find that the Captain's crew had overpowered a pirate, tying him up. They tried to trade the pirate for the Captain, but the pirate got away and the Alabama
was left to the crew. The pirates kept the Captain.
In addition to congratulation the US Navy and the SEALs for their daring actions in recovering the Captain - who had an escape attempt under his belt already - we congratulate the crew of Alabama
for their daring and successful attempt to keep their vessel.
Finally, this note from Jim Shepherd's SHOOTING WIRE:
"On a completely unrelated note, the shooting world lost one of its best-known names last week. Former Los Angeles County Deputy Jack Weaver, 80, died Tuesday in Carson City. Weaver, for those of you not familiar with the name, is the man for whom the Weaver Shooting Stance is named.
"After experimenting with a variety of shooting stances and modifications, Weaver decided the best position for reaction shooting was simple: two hands on the weapon, gun up a foot or so above the vertical centerline of the body, and head slightly dropped. This gave him what he called a "flash picture" of the target. It also gave him the 1959 "Leatherslap" gunfighting title. As he explained "it looked kind of stupid, and everybody was laughing at me, but it worked."
"After three years of losing to Weaver, Guns and Ammo writer and legendary shooting expert Jeff Cooper proclaimed the Weaver Stance "decisively superior" to anything else. In fact, Cooper incorporated Weaver's stance into his Modern Technique of the Pistol.
"On Saturday evening, I spoke with Weaver's son, Alan, about his father and learned that this last year of his life had been one "of a rock star" after American Handgunner published a story about Weaver and his stance in its May issue. "All last year," Alan said, "Dad got letters, videos, patches from police departments and shooting clubs, tons of mementos that made him realize that people did remember him and his contributions."
"We all remember Weaver's contribution to shooting -every time we take a two handed Weaver, or modified Weaver or whatever you call it.
The Modern Technique of the Pistol was the first attempt to bring a method to the use of the defensive handgun. Before that we had COL. Rex Applegate's point or instinctive firing technique and he built on the efforts of Fairbairn.
Jeff Cooper determined that to stop a fight with a pistol requiresfive elements. These elements were the Weaver Stance, the Presentation, Flash Sight Picture, the Surprise Break and the Heavy-Duty Semiautomatic Pistol.
Obviously, the element Jack Weaver contributed was the Weaver Stance. This isn't a matter of being "bladed" to the target, the exact degree of bend in one or the other arm and it's not simply having a two-handed grip on the pistol. It's the isometric tension between the hands.
The hand the pistol is in drives out while the other hand pulls the pistol back. The idea is to create enough tension that the muzzle doesn't flip anymore than necessary and that the gun quickly comes back to point - that gives us quick follow-up for repeated shots to target if the first round fails to stop the fight.
Stop the fight - that's what the Modern Technique of the Pistol is for. The purpose of the pistol, according to Jeff Cooper, is to stop fights. It's why he liked the 1911 in .45 ACP. Unfortunately, many deadly folks remain unimpressed with the .45 rounds they've taken in center of mass. There's no sure thing.
That's why we need quick follow-ups. If the first doesn't do it, let's pour more in there before his system can blunt the pain. The pistol isn't much good at stopping fights. It is
handy. Carrying a slung rifle or shotgun offends some people, so we hide our salvation (such as it is) and hope we can reach a long gun if the fight starts.
There it is: the Weaver Stance in firearms history. The Combat Masters -- Jeff Cooper, Thell Reed, Ray Chapman, Elden Carl, John Plahn and, of course, Jack Weaver - codified and disseminated the Modern Technique, as it is taught to this day.
Rest well, Deputy Weaver. It's the end of watch.
Due to the number of questions about gun handling, we're running the August 7, 2008 installment of Skill Set. If you have a question for Tiger, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org
and we'll get it to Tiger. If, like this topic, there's enough interest, we'll run his response here.
By Tiger McKee
One thing about being a firearms instructor is that when you hit on a subject that everyone complains about you're probably doing something right. Single-hand manipulations are a prime example of this. In my advanced classes we cover one-handed operation of the pistol and carbine. It's not much fun, you have to go slow to learn the techniques, and it's difficult, especially in the beginning. I know the majority of people won't practice these techniques after they leave my class, so we perform a lot of repetitions. When we're done they may be sick of it, but at least they've got a good idea of how to do it.
Hand and arm injuries are common in fights. Somebody swings a baseball bat at you. You attempt to block it. A threat slashes at you with a knife. Your hands fly up in an instinctual response. You're attempting to shoot the threat. He's doing the same, aiming at the center of your body. Guess where your hands and arms are? All of these examples can lead to injury, so single hand manipulations are an essential skill. Being injured doesn't mean you get to quit the fight.
The actions to manipulate your pistol are the same whether you're using one hand or two. We modify the techniques so we can reload or clear malfunctions using only one hand. For example, my pistol runs empty. I need to dump the empty magazine. If it doesn't drop free I hook the lip of the mag's base on my belt or holster and strip it out. Stripping mag 3 Now I secure weapon by slipping it in the holster. (The pistol should go in there enough to hold it whether it's forward or backwards.) I acquire a fresh mag, seat it in the pistol, then cycle the slide by hooking the rear sight on my holster or belt and shoving down or forward, depending on how the weapon is oriented. I don't point the muzzle at my legs or feet, and I keep my eyes up, maintaining visual contact with the threat environment.
These same actions are used to clear malfunctions. If the pistol doesn't fire I "load" it by tapping the mag to insure it's seated and cycling the slide. If this doesn't work I unload the pistol - you'll have to strip the mag because it won't drop free - cycle the slide to clear the trash, and then reload as discussed above. For the carbine or shotgun the process is the same, you just modifying the techniques to fit the weapon.
There is a tendency when practicing to only do the fun stuff. It makes us feel good, and allows us to impress others. In reality what we should practice are the difficult techniques, the things we don't enjoy or do very well. That way we're better prepared for the chaos of combat.
Tiger McKee is director of Shootrite Firearms Academy, located in northern Alabama, author of The Book of Two Guns, a staff member of several firearms/tactical publications, and an adjunct instructor for the F.B.I. (256) 582-4777 www.shootrite.org