Operation Red Cell

Actual break-in evidence photo from the Queensland Police, Australia. The criminals used the owner's ladder to enter the upstairs.

Actual break-in evidence photo from the Queensland Police, Australia. The criminals used the owner’s ladder to enter the upstairs.

For those who don’t know, the original Red Cell was a project started by Richard Marcinko, founder of Seal Team Six. Basically, the Red Cell’s job was to attack US bases and test their preparation for terrorist attack. He found them wanting, and was court martialed for his efforts.

What I want us to do today is to use this concept against our own homes and businesses. Look at them through the eyes of a criminal. Where can I break in? Where am I vulnerable? Where can I improve?

Of course, we have to be brutally honest with ourselves if we are going to get benefit from this. After all, we would love to think everything is just fine. But the truth is there is room for improvement in everything.

Next, take a look at the situation record what you find. Be thorough. Photographs or sketches can be a great tool, as it will help you see if the changes you’ve made are sufficient.

Then, sit down and assess what you find. Here, you will need to make a judgment call on what level of security you are willing to accept.

Look for places where an intruder can hide from sight. Light them.

Look for doors or windows that can be easily defeated. Fix or replace them.

Finally, commit to a plan and make changes. You don’t have to do them all at once, just prioritize them and make the changes with the biggest return first. If money is no issue, maybe you do them all at once.

I recently did this, and I found some areas that I could improve. One thing to consider is whether you have things lying around that can be used to break in. I found I was just leaning my 24 foot ladder against the fence, where it could be used to access the upstairs. Now, it’s mounted on the fence, and secured by a steel cable bicycle lock.

Now, I have a plan, and I’ve made headway. I’m not done. Heck, I will never be done. But my home is better off today that when I started.

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Getting Serious

Let’s face it, none of us is getting any younger. Without details, let me say that if I were a pro golfer I would be on the Senior circuit. So the time has come for me to decide – am I going to move forward, or continue where I am and accept a gradual decline into the sunset?

I’m moving forward.

Fortunately, I have some experience to draw on in my quest for improvement.

Once upon a time, when Old Tom Morris was a kid, a friend gave me an old golf bag and set of irons. I went and played, and I was hooked.

In the next three years, I went from nothing to a 14 handicap. How? Immersion, practice and dedication.

I got involved. At first I traveled around our area, playing public courses, but soon I joined a club. I took lessons, bought good equipment, and practiced, practiced, practiced. And my scores got better. I learned new techniques. What was difficult before got easier.

Then I learned how to build golf clubs from parts. I also fitted clubs for others, and I still play with wedges and a putter that I built. Now, this is one area where my shooting has already paralleled my golf, because I am a Certified Glock Armorer, and I am well into learning how my other guns work and are put together,

What was the theme that tied all these improvements together?

Investment

There are several things I can invest in for my shooting future. First, I have always shot matches as a guest of the club where I was. This also means, when I want to practice, I have to go pay a daily fee at a range. So, I plan to join a club, so I can practice more, and have access to lessons and instruction. I am now looking at my options and hope to report something soon.

Next would be to invest my time in practice. I’ve written about this here before, but I am going to establish a real regimen, and stick to it.

Next would be in equipment. Fortunately, my equipment isn’t an issue right now. Yes, there are better guns out there, but, to borrow an analogy from my golf game, by the time a $1,000 driver would do my game any good, I wouldn’t have to buy them because a sponsor would give them to me. It’s the same here. I’m not limited by my gun, and by the time I shoot better than my gun, Glock or Smith or somebody will offer to give me one, provided I don’t remain anonymous.

Next would be involvement, and I’ve already taken some steps in this direction, by sending in my application and money to take an RO training class here in the Atlanta area this summer. Frankly, I think I am long overdue. In golf, I found that knowing the rules backward and forward helped my game immensely. I know it will here too.

I will invest in some coaching, too. There are a number of good shooters around here who teach.

So, look for future posts on my practice regimen and other plans.

A Metaphor for Mendacity

Since the Newtown school shootings last month, the anti-gun factions in this country have tried to change the vocabulary they use. No longer are there calls for “more gun control,” or even “common sense gun control.” The call now is for “gun safety.”

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Yet, when I asked these two for clarification of what safety measures they would like to see in new laws, they came back with the same tired gun control mantras like “no automatic weapons in society.”

Be not fooled. The left will talk about safety, but the only safety that would satisfy them would be total confiscation. Nothing has changed.

Another Lesson Learned

I recently posted about the time I shot my friend John (not John Wayne) in the eye with a BB gun, and the response of the parents in the neighborhood. Their choice to buy us all goggles instead of confiscating all our BB guns stands in direct opposition to how society reacts today.

I wanted to share another story about eye protection, in the further hope that my readers would vow to always wear eye protection from the moment they begin working with their guns.

WARNING: this post contains some graphic and disturbing language. If reading about a terrible eye injury makes you uncomfortable, GOOD. THAT’S MY GOAL!

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One Sunday evening, about 15 years ago, I decided to complete a small kitchen project, which required me to install some small pieces of trim around some newly installed light fixtures.

As I prepared for the project, I gathered all the tools and materials I would need.

Now, as I’ve said before, I’m an engineer, the son of an engineer, and I’ve been around projects and tools all my life. And, anyone who has worked in an industry covered by the Occupational Health and Safety Act knows how workplace safety and protective gear are stressed.

So, I had all my materials laid out in front of me, ready to start – a pair of safety glasses, some work gloves, a trimming knife, sandpaper, the wood trim I would be installing, some glue, and some brads.

But first, I noticed that the blade on the trimming knife was a little dull, and I wanted to be sure it would cut easily, since a sharp knife is the safest knife. So, I clicked out the blade on the knife to expose a fresh disposable  blade, and used a pair of pliers to safely break off the old blade.

Only, I inadvertently clicked out two blades.

As I bent the knife blade and broke off the old, dull blade, the fresh section in the middle broke off, too.

And flew straight up.

And hit me in the eye.

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At first, I didn’t know what had happened, because the piece of blade, about 1 cm long, flew directly at me, and so fast that I really couldn’t see it.

But, after a few blinks, my sight began to get red.

And I felt a chill that I had felt only a few times before, one being when I had shot John in the eye.

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I cried out for my wife, who came running into the kitchen. I didn’t even have to tell her what had happened. One look at my right eye and she knew. It was covered with a layer of blood, to the point where I couldn’t see.

I didn’t feel any pain in my eye, and that calmed me somewhat. So, I went in the bathroom and looked and my eye, and I couldn’t see anything, no cut, nothing. And, the blade wasn’t sticking out or anything, so I thought that was a good thing. I cleaned my hands, and took out my contact lens on that eye, and that’s when I saw that it was cleanly sliced, about 1/3 of the diameter of the lens. That was not good.

So, I decided I needed to get to the hospital, right away.

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While I waited to be seen by the doctor, the blood slowly washed away, and I thought I was going to be fine.

First, the doctor checked for what I admit was my worst fear – that the blade had gone straight into my eye, and was floating around in there.

Fortunately, he didn’t see the blade in there, and the cut on the surface of my eye was smaller than the blade had been, meaning it likely hit, made the cut, then glanced off and away.

There was blood in my eye, which meant that the cut had extended all the way through the surface of my eye. That was not good. But the doctor felt that would go away, and I would be fine.

He recommended I go see my optometrist, which I did the next day.

My optometrist, I should note, had done his pre-medical training in Chemical Engineering. He and I frequently talked about safety in the workplace. And his first question to me was “Why weren’t you wearing safety glasses?”

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It turns out that I was very, very fortunate. The blade had made a small cut in the conjunctiva, just enough to either cut through, or cause enough bruising that my eye bled a little on the inside.

Had the blade flown 1/4 inch to the left, it would have hit my iris. That probably would have blinded me or required surgery to correct. And, had it flown in some other direction, it was, as Maverick said, a target-rich environment, full of muscles and blood vessels.

My vision cleared over the next couple of weeks, and I didn’t wear my contacts for about a month while the cut healed over. As it turns out, the healing of the eye is an interesting process. The eye doesn’t normally have enough blood vessels on the surface to support vigorous healing, but, when injured, it will create them. Then, once the healing is complete, those blood vessels cease functioning, and they scar over. This scar then slowly erodes over time.

In fact, the doctor told me that I was fortunate, that I would live long enough for the blood vessels to completely erode and for my eye to return to normal. It would probably take 30 or 40 years.

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Aftermath:

The cut on my eye healed, and I didn’t suffer any vision loss.

Over the next month, the area of the cut became apparent as my eye healed itself. It turned red, and that slowly faded over the next six months, leaving a slightly elevated scar. The location of the scar was such that my contact would slip off the scar, and my vision would go to crap. Then, I would have to rub from the outside of my eyelid to get it back over the scar.

As I have moved, I have told each successive optometrist about the accident, and he has instantly found the scar. But now, as I have gotten older, it doesn’t cause my contact lens to move around near as much as it once did. I guess the scars is eroding, as I was told it would, although it has taken about half the time I was told.

The true aftermath, the reason for this post:

I now put on my eye protection as the very first action of any project, before I even start gathering tools and materials. I’ve had to teach myself to do this, but the memory of how I almost lost my sight makes it easier.

I put on my eye protection as soon as I arrive at the range, if I haven’t worn it on the ride in. And, I make anyone who comes shooting with me put theirs on, and keep it on, as soon as we arrive.

Please, please – wear eye protection, and put it on before you think you need to.

Gun Control From A Simpler Time

When I was young, probably age 14, the boys in our neighborhood went through a BB gun phase. Prior to this, I had never had any exposure to firearms at all, beyond cap pistols.

I got a lever action Daisy gun, from where I don’t remember. Others in the neighborhood had pump pellet guns, and one guy, the rich kid on the block, had a CO2 powered semi-auto.

In the afternoons after school, we would meet at John’s house, a couple of houses down from mine, and choose sides, the head into the woods to do battle.

Full on BB wars. The rule was, one hit and you were out, and it was on an honors system. Not too difficult to enforce. I can still remember being shot. Ouch.

Late one session, as it was getting almost too dark to see, I was trying to flank the other team’s position, and I heard movement behind me. I turned, and there, probably 30 yards away, through the trees, was the captain of the other team. John.

John was large. That is, while I, at age 14, was probably 5′-8″ tall and weighed 140 pounds, John was easily 6 feet tall and probably weighed over 200 pounds. We all thought he was fat, although we didn’t say that to his face.

But there he was, and he didn’t see me.

So, I raised my gun quickly, and fired.

John cried out, and put a hand to his face.

To his eye.

I almost fainted.

“John.”

“Yeah.”

“You okay?”

“No, man. You shot my damn eye.”

I rushed to his side, and sure enough, even in the fading light, I could see that his eye was red, although there didn’t seem to be blood on him anywhere.

“We gotta go get you some help.”

So he and I made our way through the woods, back to his back yard, where some of both teams had come to retire, and they could all tell right away what had happened.

“Wow, man, you shot John in the eye!”

“Shut up! Do you want his Mom to shut us all down?”

We took a couple of minutes trying to decide how we were going to handle this. We quickly came up with a plan.

First, yes, this sounds like what happened to Ralphie in A Christmas Story. But we thought of it first.

In the woods we had an old metal sign, and, as dumb as it sounds, we would tape pictures of animals to it and shoot it for target practice. We all thought it was funny when BBs would come back and hit near us, or fly off into the woods. So the story was that the BB had come straight back and hit John’s eye. Easy.

Well, John’s Mom didn’t panic when she saw him, but quickly swept him off to the doctor’s to be sure.

Those who remained, we few, we happy few, we band of brothers, we breathed a sigh.

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The next day, Friday, when we got home from school, all our Moms had some news for us, courtesy of John’s Mom.

The BB had struck John’s eye just below the iris, and had almost penetrated the eyeball. But it didn’t, and that was the good news.

From there, it had skidded along the surface of his eyeball, and gone under his eyelid, lodging up under his cheek. They almost couldn’t find it, but X-rays are a wonderful thing.

They didn’t know if he would have any permanent eye damage, but right now, his eye was full of blood, and he couldn’t see. (Now you see – my image of a fat guy with an eye patch goes back a long way.)

There was no joy in the neighborhood, because we were all sure the BB wars were over, as much as we were scared of John’s prospects. John didn’t want to hang out with any of us, which was understandable, because he had been forced to take the blame for shooting himself.

The next day, Saturday, when all the Dads were home, was sure to be the worst.

Yet, as the day dawned, there were no lectures, no confiscations, no gun raids.

Instead, one of the Dads went out to Sears, and brought back a whole bunch of work goggles, and made sure all we combatants had a pair, and that we agreed not to shoot, anywhere, any time, anyone, without them. And the BB wars continued, at least until about the time a bunch of us got our drivers licenses and discovered girls.

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From that point, everyone in John’s family started calling me Deadeye, and it was then that I knew that John had told the real story. Years later, when I visited the old neighborhood, John was there, visiting his parents, and the topic got around to my nickname, and he admitted it. I asked him why he chose Deadeye, and he explained that I had to be the best shooter in the neighborhood – given the size of his eye in comparison to the rest of his body, that was some fine shooting.

John recovered full use of his eyes, and never held ill will toward me. I guess the nickname did a lot.

And thanks to the calm response of the parents in the neighborhood, nobody got their eye shot out again.

Thoughts on Storage State

Ron at When The Balloon Goes Up and Robb at Sharp As A Marble commented today on how they store their guns when not in use. I thought I would share my thoughts.

One of the first things I did when I bought my first pistol was to buy a safe to store it in. I got a good deal on a 8 gun rifle safe, and I stored my pistol there when I wasn’t carrying it. Soon I bought a Gun Vault pistol safe, which is where I keep my carry guns.

One of my rules of thumb with anything I store is to give as much thought to the next use as I do about how it is stored. In other words, how much trouble will it be to get to and use? This is doubly so when it comes to gun storage.

My pistol safe is used to hold my carry pistols, so the pistols are stored there in Condition 1, that is, with chamber loaded, and full magazines topped off, in a holster. When I or my family are home, the door to the pistol safe is open. This gives us the quickest access if we need it.

In the picture above, you can see Liberty, my Glock 19, in the bottom of the safe, along with some papers. On the top shelf is a leather IWB holster I use to house The Duke, my G21SF, when it’s in storage. At the time of this photo, The Duke was on my hip in a leather belt holster.

In my rifle safe I keep all my long guns, and my pistols that are not being used for carry. Since these pistols are not in the normal rotation, they are not stored ready to deploy, although there are loaded magazines in my ammunition storage that can be loaded quickly. The pistols are stored either in holsters or gun socks or zip-up pistol carriers, with no magazines, and with a orange flagged safety shell in the chamber.

Rifles and shotguns, on the other hand, are stored in a semi-ready state, with loaded magazines in place or with tubes loaded, but with the bolts open and yellow chamber flags installed. (I would never store a long gun in Condition 1, because the trigger is exposed.) When needed, a user would retrieve the gun, pull out the flag, drop the bolt, and be ready to go. On the other hand, when I’m transporting them to the range, I just remove the gun, drop the loaded magazine free, and put the rifle in the car with the chamber flag intact.

Sometimes I store my guns totally inert, unloaded. In that case, they are put into treated gun socks. Right now, only Vassily my Mosin Nagant is stored that way.

However you choose to store your guns, it is essential that you do it consistently, and that everyone who might be called on to use them knows how they are stored. This is part of what we discuss in our family when we talk about our guns, and everyone knows it.

Safety Rules In Depth – Rule 3

Is that what how they taught you?

 

RULE 3 – Keep your finger OFF the trigger until your sights are on the target.

This would seem as straightforward a gun rule as one could imagine. Since the way to make a gun fire is to pull the trigger, if you don’t want to shoot something, don’t touch the trigger.

Sadly, even a casual search of news reports and videos on Youtube show this to be the most violated safety rule of all.*

“But Rooster,” you say, “we see it all the time. What about when someone drops a gun, and it goes off?” After all, in movies or on TV, if you drop a gun, it goes off. If you drop a machine gun, it fires until the clip magazine is exhausted.

Every.

Time.

Fortunately, that image is a load of steaming dung, straight from my old horse Bo.

The design of modern guns has advanced to the point where the only way to get them to fire is to pull the trigger. They won’t fire if you drop them, or hit them, or kick them. They don’t “go off.”

Yes, you will read in news reports that a dropped gun fired – Google it yourself – but when you read those reports, you find one of two things present. First, the gun involved is some kind of older gun, like a derringer or Colt SAA. Yes, older guns like the Colt Single Action Army will fire if the hammer is struck from the outside. Even some older 1911’s will fire, unless the firing pin has been replaced with a lighter version.

The second possibility is the person involved is lying or has no idea what they are talking about. That”s because the trigger was pulled. Period.

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It follows then that the way to prevent guns from firing except when you want them to fire is not to pull the trigger. For the shooter, this means keeping your finger off the trigger until you are sure the gun is pointed at what you wish to shoot.

Now, since positive reinforcement is much better at altering behavior than negative reinforcement, let’s turn that around.

RULE 3 – When the gun is aimed at the intended target, then it’s safe to put your finger on the trigger.

Until then, put your finger on the frame alongside the trigger. For instance, find a spot like the front of the trigger guard, or the slide lock, as a tactile reference, like this:

Rule 3 – using the trigger guard or slide stop as tactile references

Or, you can find other tactile references. Then, train yourself to use them.

What about resting your finger lightly on the trigger, like Jack Bauer, until you’re ready to shoot?

Sadly, when we humans are startled, we experience a flinch reflex, and we will pull the trigger. And the gun will fire. (And we will tell the newspaper reporter “The gun just went off.” And they will know we are lying. And they will print it any way.)

So, train yourself to keep your finger off the trigger, and index your finger somewhere else. And practice it.

 

And, for heaven’s sake, ignore the people in the movies or on TV.

 

 

* tied with Rule 1 and Rule 2.