Cop Refuses Deadly Force Under Justifiable Conditions


A man accused of killing his girlfriend charges an armed police officer in this intense body-camera video.  The suspect, hell-bent on “suicide by cop” screams “Shoot me! Shoot me!” as the officer back pedals with his firearm drawn and ready to shoot.

Investigators say Michael Wilcox, 27, killed his fiancee in their Brown County, Ohio, home, then killed his best friend.  A Brown County investigator spotted Wilcox at about 8 p.m. and attempted to stop him, but Wilcox claimed he had a gun and drove away, officials said.

While the use of deadly force was justified in this situation, we applaud police officer Jesse Kidder for his service and dedication to serve and protect.  What are your thoughts on this officer’s actions?  Sound off in the comments section below.

Range Vs. Real World Safety | Will Being ‘Safe’ Make You Vulnerable?

Range Safety and Real World Safety | Why the Cardinal Rules Are Wrong for Self-Defense Shooting.

I’m sure if you have read any two of my articles you have seen me refer to range mentality at least once though chances are good it was twice.  And I don’t think I have ever referred to it in a positive light. However, a recent conversation I had made it apparent that I have never directly addressed what range mentality is, and why I don’t like it. Since it’s a common topic for all gun owners with a self-defense mindset, I decided to lay out my feelings on the subject as directly as possible.   In the hope that it may educate, alter attitudes, viewpoints, or perhaps  introduce a new way to approach  your personal practice and training regiments.

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The Author demonstrating high angel close quarters shooting using non-lethal training munitions.

What is the Range Mentality?

The range is the setting for most of our training. It’s a sterile environment, mostly under someone else’s control, that only allows for limited degrees of realism based on its established safety rules, physical layout, any training dogma associated with the owner, lead instructor, range safety officers or administrator afraid of things that make loud noises (guns, usually). In law enforcement and the military, our ranges are held hostage by administrators and Kool  Aid salesmen of varied usefulness. The rules vary from mostly common-sense to outright ridiculous and are often enforced with a draconian approach that is much at odds with the intended purpose of the range. For the private ranges, classic indoor, stalled environments, rules for the sake of safety are often far more restrictive because people are literally walking in off the street and usually don’t have to meet any requirements beyond providing ID and signing a waiver to use the range. One look around any given indoor range can show you that there are a lot of people out there lacking muzzle discipline or they are just bad shots. Everything on the range is safety first because firearms are inherently dangerous and people swallow this idea because it’s almost always the first concept they are taught before ever touching a firearm. Safety is always important, there’s no argument about that but the very nature of a range and the safety demands it creates (and others added on because of  fear of litigation, or simple stupidity) turn the range environment into a breeding ground for bad training and bad practice.


The range is where the bulk of live fire training occurs, and because of this the safety rules of the range become the safety rules. They create a mentality in the shooter that is then taken home with them. Most of this mentality is useful in that it helps prevent negligence; however much of what the range won’t let you do is very applicable to real world self-defense situations. Trainers who subscribe to the rules of the range and don’t see the real world differently are guilty of adopting a range mentality. They are training students to defend themselves in their daily lives, but doing so according to rules that only apply to a specific setting; you can see the problem with this, no? Safety is paramount, but safety is also an individual commitment to common sense tactics.

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Live firing high angle close quarters shooting. Using 3D targets adds in that extra dimension that most firearms training is lacking even though we live in a 3D world

Safety First

The safety psyche is such a part of the shooters mentality that it is ever-present in our evaluation of things; allowing us to measure what we see based on real or imagined violations of the rules as we know them. Staged photographs are scrutinized for finger placement and videos evaluated for any sign of a range violation.  God help you if you introduce, or simply make public an existing technique that violates a safety rule born on the range. Sometimes we spend so much time focused on the safety performance (usually weighed against personally held range rules) that we miss the point of what we are observing or learning. Safety is first, but range safety and real-world safety are two diametrically opposed practices.

The range and the real world do share some similar rules: treat every weapon as if it were loaded (except those we know are not because they are in our positive control), be aware of your target (I prefer threat) and what’s beyond it,  and finger off the trigger until you are ready/willing to fire. That’s it! I’m sure some of you may be saying to yourselves but you missed one…That’s right, there are 4 cardinal safety rules and I only mentioned three. That’s because the fourth, never point your weapon at anything you are not willing to shoot simply isn’t possible in the real-world, or even at times on the range.   When the gun clears the holster, comes out of the rack, trunk or bag, the muzzle is out of a safe direction. The real world is a potential 360 degree direction of fire where safety is one sided and many, many things will be muzzled even though we don’t intend to shoot them. It would be impossible to work with a firearm and never muzzle something that isn’t deserving of bullets. This is semantics to a small degree, though think to yourself and remember it ever being explained in that way. I know that my professional firearms instruction began in the military and it would be almost a decade before the concept was actually taught to me in this way. A small concept that drives a wedge deep between the range and the real world, it introduces an exception to the rules based on necessity, not want.

in car ready

Gaining access to and drawing a firearm from a seated position in a vehicle offers many challenges that few instructors teach students to overcome.

Taking the Range to the Streets

The military is actually pretty good about disregarding this rule in the real world. Combat deployments see all manner of unknown nouns have an overwhelming number of muzzles pointed at them with ready intent to fire at the first justifiable reason to do so. I don’t remember it ever being addressed; it was just a natural transition. For law enforcement it’s more of an individual issue and the environment isn’t one of war and weapons are rarely carried unholstered/at ready without provocation. What about when they are?

I was involved with a situation earlier in the year, where a few different alphabets were present, and most of us had guns trained on a single vehicle. Its occupant had been positively identified as a wanted, violent felon who was known to be armed and enjoyed shooting at people (cops, mostly). The car in question was completely tinted except the windshield, and we were all positioned to the rear. At any point the felon could have been aiming at us through the rear window and the tint would have prevented us from seeing it. There were two officers present from a department I had never interacted with before and neither of them were aimed in on the car. They were crouched, using their academy instructed SUL position (ironically both were muzzling their feet in this position). When another local agency ended the excitement by staging on the car and extracting the felon, I talked to these officers about their choice not to join in the mutual sight picture.

“We couldn’t see him.”

“But you knew he was there.”

“Yeah, couldn’t see him though.”

We could have argued the point, just like we can now. The fact remains that just because they couldn’t see him didn’t mean he couldn’t see them. The fact that we knew him to be in the car was more motivation to be prepared and the fact that he was armed with what was described, and later confirmed as a “rifle” meant it should have been all guns on deck. I can’t speak to their motivations for not maintaining a sight picture on the vehicle but I believe it to be a direct result of vague safety-related training practices that hammer home range-only rules that don’t apply to the 3D world. If you bring the range to the street, you are doing nothing to better your protective ability.



Before anyone disagrees with the premise, think of how often you muzzle yourself. Appendix, even some hip holsters, place you in a situation where you muzzle parts of your body. During the acts of holstering/unholstering you are doing so with active control of the weapon. This is a clear violation of muzzle awareness as the rule stands is it not? Now consider how often you muzzle things you have no intention of shooting. If your approach to self-defense shooting has been shaped by only shooting in one direction, with guns always pointed down range or at the deck when not shooting, I say that you would be much better prepared by more realistic approaches to training.  It’s as simple as taking a look at your safety rules and adopting them to train in light of what we are training for.

The Four Cardinal Safety Rules are Range Rules, Not Real World Rules

It’s generally understood that the Cardinal Rules are designed to work together; I was once told that if you were doing any two of them at one time you couldn’t injure anyone who didn’t deserve it, and that’s generally true. However, it’s also apparent that some instructors, academies, and individuals hold these rules to a moral level of adherence without considering their actual application in everyday life. If you consider the thousands of possible variables that make each self-defense situation unique, you can find a perfectly justifiable reason for breaking or bending a few of these rules depending on how they are worded in your memory. The fact is, any time I’m not on a range and my weapon is out, it’s going to spend more time pointed at things I have no want or intention of shooting than things I do, unless I’m muzzling the bad guy. It’s also perfectly reasonable, depending on the situation to set the trigger in anticipation of firing before the actual need to do so exists. If I am feet away from a man with a knife, my finger is on the trigger and I’m pulling slack.  If he decides to retain the knife and disobey commands, he in all likelihood will be shot. His backdrop may be a pitch black alley, or blinding light, or a high hedge, and I may have no idea what is actually beyond him, I must go with what I know and not defend my life based on what I don’t know about his backdrop.  Doing otherwise is ridiculous. As far as treating the firearm as if it’s loaded, that’s one I can almost always comply with, except when I need to treat it like its unloaded. The firearm does not exist in a neat box that controls where it can be pointed and where it can’t; there are no limits or ceiling that regulates its arc of travel in any direction. It is aimed as we wish and this is something that more people should consider when training and practicing.

I hear it all the time and read it even more “Don’t break 180.” This 180 degree imaginary line that makes up the firing line; a line we are not supposed to move our muzzle past in either direction. This line doesn’t exist and on most ranges, its much less than 180 degrees. This rule has no place in the real world.

Real World, as Applied at the Range


There are many ready positions. The reason there are many is because they solve different problems. There is no single ready position that solves every problem .

Training on the range means there will be some artificialities; range design may prevent high-angle shooting such as a hip fire to the chest of a threat in close quarters, or  you may not be able to fire from the deck due to a back drop limitation. You may only be able to shoot in one direction and you may not be able to move. These are problems that can be overcome to a degree but some safety constrains will always exist when it comes to live fire. In the simplest terms, safety on the range is not shooting yourself, other shooters, objects not intended to be shot and it is also not muzzling things that do not deserve to be muzzled. It is doing anything, so long as it is safe and it makes sense. Pointing our weapon in the safest direction possible at all times is the only real cardinal rule. That direction may be straight up to maneuver in or exit a car, which is a huge range no-no that sounds nice, but doesn’t often conform to reality. That direction may be down to push through a crowd or make movement to cover, or just off sight picture of an unknown person to splash them with light from a weapon mounted light in order to make a positive ID. These are but a few examples of thousands of possible situations where what works on the range isn’t going to live up to the real world.

I am making no attempt to replace the Cardinal Rules, I am flatly stating that I have no intention of using them. They belong on a range that isn’t preparing shooters for the real world and I’m not part of that mindset. Safety is a primary concern of mine, make no mistake about that, but my approach must be as realistic as the situations I encounter. There is a lot of good in the Cardinal Rules, but I have my own. Similarities aside, the following make much more sense as far as I’m concerned.

All safe and logical actions are acceptable.

Know the condition of your weapon at all times.

Keep your finger off the trigger until you are confronting a known threat and willing to fire.

Be aware of your muzzle direction at all times and point it in the safest direction possible.

Be aware of your threat and angle of fire, minimize unsafe back drop as you are able.

My rules are five in number-just one more-but one more is important to me and rules shouldn’t be pared down for the sake of convenience, there should be as many as needed. I will again say that I am making no attempt to reinvent the wheel, my rules are what they are; when compared to the standard accepted rules, mine make far more sense both on and off the range. Those who have toiled under the Cardinal Rules for a few decades may find plenty of reason to not like my approach and for them I don’t have much to say that has not already been said. I train and teach on a range, but the fight doesn’t happen there. The range needs to mimic real life as much as possible, and nervous, overbearing safety constraints are detrimental to good training. If an instructor is speaking against a skill or technique, is it because it isn’t safe, or because it isn’t range safe? If you sincerely want to learn self-defense skills, you need not concern yourself with instructors presenting techniques for gunfights that have been conceptualized within the confines of the range.

Aaron Cowan

Lead Instructor – Sage Dynamics

Sage Dynamics Facebook




The Glock 43 Launch Event | Updated with Video Review

Instructor Zero and Daniel Shaw got the chance to take a first look and shoot the new Glock 43 single stack 9mm just prior to the 2015 NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits.


He wasn’t wearing his sunglasses.

I walked into the Glock 43 launch event and found myself being greeted by a familiar face. The kind Italian gentleman presented me with kisses to cheeks, a smile and a handshake. I complimented him on his shoes; he complimented me on my beard. After getting the formalities out of the way, we stepped to the door to a training room and were called in.

A representative from Glock moved to front and center and began to explain how the Glock 43 was born and then developed into the firearm that many have been asking for.


The Glock 43 is too slim for standard Glock 9mm sights, but it was pleasing to hear that it requires sights with the same specifications as the Glock 42. There is already a large variety of sight choices available for the Glock 43 at launch.


Glock 43 Data Sheet

The 42 sights fit, but the holsters, at least the form fitted ones, do not. How do I know? I was carrying my ATEI modified Glock 42 at the event and had to try it.

Once the brief was complete, Zero and I were led into the range and took positions in shooting stalls where 3 filled magazines and Glock 43’s were waiting.   I fired one mag (6 rounds) in a slow fire to gauge accuracy and came up with a 1 inch group (25.4mm). I then fired the next mag, still aiming at high center chest, but at a much more rapid rate to check my control of the handgun. With a slightly larger group, I found the gun very controllable for a gun in its class.

Relative to the Glock 17 I shoot most often, I would say the 43 is a bit snappy with substantial muzzle flip that makes it challenging to fire quickly with a high level of accuracy.   Obviously, that is a completely unfair comparison. Fair comparisons would be putting the Glock 43 against the Smith and Wesson M&P Shield or the Springfield Armory XDS 9mm. I have used them both on many occasions and have owned the former and used it in high round count classes.

To me, the trigger on the 43 beats both the XDS and the Shield with its positive reset and standard Glock trigger feel, but with a shorter trigger reach that my big hands liked and my wife’s little hands loved.

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Yes I was filling mags for Zero being a good gun caddy.

The recoil feels very similar to the XDS and Shield. Without having all three guns in the same place I can’t present a completely fair comparison, but at first glance, or in this case shoot, I would have to say that the recoil feels less punishing than the XDS, but there may be slightly more muzzle jump from the 43 than I have experienced with the Shield. That being said, I found it more comfortable to shoot than the Shield and my wife who has carried a shield for a while, found the same.

I realize that this post and my method for comparing the Glock 43 to the XDS and Shield are…less than scientific. Until my 43 arrives for testing, it’s the best I can do to get what i know to you.


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The Funker Tactical Team

Funker Tactical is simply an umbrella comprised of passionate individuals who have dedicated their lives to something.

Each member represents their own team. Together, we are redefining concepts on holistic training through intellectual exchanges of ideas and concepts.


DANIEL SHAW is a retired US Marine infantryman with multiple combat tours and instructor titles. He has developed curriculum and training standards for pre-deployment training and Marine Security Forces such as the Fleet Anti-terrorism Security Teams (FAST) and the Naval Nuclear Security Program. His direct action experience includes Level IV VBSS and In Extremis Hostage Rescue. Daniel has been a DOD/USMC firearms instructor for over 15 years. He holds numerous instructor certifications from the US Marine Corps to include foreign weapons and master instructor of Handgun, rifle/carbine, shotgun, and medium to heavy machine guns. Daniel takes his life of training and combat experience and develops and presents curriculum to help law enforcement professionals and responsible armed citizens survive a deadly force encounter. YouTube | Facebook

RYAN HOOVER is the co-founders of Fit to Fight®, a worldwide training organization, specializing in courses related to self-defense, fighting and fitness. Ryan has certified instructors from eight different countries and has taught defensive tactics to law enforcement and military groups, from Ramstein Air Force Base to Denver Highway Patrol Academy and many points in between. He helped develop and draft much of the defensive tactics curriculum for NCBLET. He has also been a featured trainer for the Carolina Panthers NFL Team and Hendrick Motorsports. Ryan has co-authored three books on Krav Maga and is also the co-founder of programs such as Safer Campus Now, Hard Ready, From The Ground Up, and Sparology.  YouTube | Facebook

MilesMoser1 (1)MILES is a highly decorated Canadian Forces Sniper, with 3 combat tours in Afghanistan as a Sniper and 14 months in IRAQ as a private military contractor. His contractor roles ranging from designated marksman, assistant team lead, mission planning, and risk analysis. Since the CF, Miles has stood up a new venture “C/S 66” (Call-Sign-Six-Six). Conceived to provide both education for long range shooting enthusiast and to facilitate a foundation to give back to the Sniper community. Recent C/S 66 activity includes curriculum development, long range instructional training packages, and ballistic research and development. Facebook







DOUG MARCAIDA is an Edge Impact and Weapons of Opportunity Specialist. He travels the world both as a military contractor and private instructor teaching close quarters combatives to military, police and civilians. He holds design collaborations with Kabar, RMJ Tactical and FOX Knives Italy and is widely regarded as the world’s premiere knife instructor. A veteran of the US AirForce, Doug Marcaida is the proud recipient of a Presidential Commendation for his work in the joint training exercises between United States and Filipino Force Recon Marines. He can be seen in the History Channel’s “Forged in Fire” set to air this fall. YouTube | Facebook


INSTRUCTOR ZERO is one of the most recognizable figures in the tactical community. Born from the Italian Military’s Parachute Brigade, FOLGORE, today he remains an active international operative. He is the Director of Security and Security Project Manager of a Special Industrial Site with High Security Profile operating under the control of the Ministry of Economy, Risk analyst for an international financial group, Chief Instructor and President of the Spartan Shooting Academy and CEO of a Security, Military and Defense Advisor Company. He travels the world training Special Military and Police units and is a clinical professor at an Italian University under the Faculty of Security and Investigative Sciences. YouTube | Facebook

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The Heckler & Koch VP9



Exactly 2,016 rounds in four days through the VP9 with zero trouble.

From testing the Heckler & Koch VP9, I found that it could be my new favorite 9mm pistol. I would get rid of my Glocks and make the VP9 my every day carry if it wasn’t for one thing.

I have recently had a few H&K VP9’s in my classes and all the students shooting them had nothing but great things to say about them. They have always performed well with no stoppages, as I would expect from most any modern striker-fired handgun.   In one such class, I was able to shoot a couple of magazines through a VP9 and found it to be an accurate and comfortable gun. Since I have been seeing them more often in class, I decided to put one to the test in a 3 day 1,500 round course I was about to take as a student.

The course was different from any other course I had ever taken. It was not defensive or tactical in any way. Houston Shaw of Shaw Shooting explained that he teaches people to shoot faster and with more accuracy. After three days with Houston, I did shoot faster and with more accuracy and I did it with a handgun that I was unfamiliar with.


Groups fired during the first day of class. All groups are from 10 yards and fired under various conditions in terms of speed and target transitioning.

The course started with 5 stages where the instructor required us to shoot steel silhouette targets placed at various ranges from 15 to 25 yards. The idea was to gauge the shooter’s accuracy, speed in drawing, transitioning from target to target, and reloading. Using the VP9, I was able to achieve the fastest time of all the students in the class. My baseline speed on arrival was 83.22 seconds. I don’t mention that because I want a trophy. I think it is important to show that even though I most often shoot a Glock 17 or 19, I was able to pick up the VP9 and shoot it well without any dry or live practice before the class. I did not familiarize myself with the gun beforehand, so I could present the perspective of using an unfamiliar firearm under slight stress.

After our baseline testing, we began as most classes do, with discussions on sight alignment, trigger control, grip, etc. As we passed through each topic, we would shoot at three and four inch circles at 10 yards working to assemble the tightest possible groups. I was shooting 115 Gr. Blaizer Brass and was able to achieve approximately 1” groups. As I began to push speed and work the trigger faster, my groups would spread out, but I can’t exactly blame that on the VP9or the ammo. The gun was accurate and able to achieve consistent hits on silhouette targets out to about 50 yards during walk back drills.


15 round slow fire shot group at 10 yards from standing position. Tango Yankee Chip shown is normal clay poker chip size at 1.625 inches across.


The trigger on the VP9 sets the gun apart and aids in accurate shooting. I would even say that the trigger on the VP9 was an advantage I had over some of the other shooters in the class.

The trigger on the VP9 is the best stock trigger on any striker-fired handgun I have ever used and I have used them all. The trigger has a light take up and a crisp wall that manages to not be spongy like most striker-fired handguns.   The reset is positive and fast allowing a quick and precise trigger prep and press.






The VP9 has user configurable grip side panels and interchangeable backstraps to give the user the ability to adjust the circumference of the grip.

It is hard to choose just one feature that I like most on the VP9, but I keep going back to the feel of the grip. It just feels right. I hate to do it, but I have to quote every YouTube video review ever recorded and say, “It feels good in the hand.”

During the first day, I had to turn the gun in my hand during reloads to reach the trigger guard or as some refer to it as a European style magazine release. I chose to not attempt to burn any new neural pathways by using my trigger finger, so I stayed with using my thumb of my firing hand to release the magazine. Before we started day two, I changed out the backstrap on the VP9 for the smallest of the options and left side panels at the medium size. This allowed me to release the mag with my thumb much more efficiency.

The VP9 features a user replaceable backstrap and grip panels to adjust the feel and grip circumference of the weapon to suit individual preference. Being able to change out side panels as well as the backstrap makes the VP9 a customizable gun to fit a variety of shooter wants or needs.

A few manufacturers use the word ambidextrous to describe a user changeable control that allows the shooter to choose a side for the control. The VP9 is a full ambidextrous handgun with slide catch/release on the left and right hand sides of the firearm as well as an ambidextrous magazine release.


The forward leaning edge of the VP9 LE is perfect for one-hand slide manipulations.


Problem solving

Heckler and Koch designed the VP9 with problem solving in mind. A somewhat unique feature to the VP9 is the patented H&K charging supports on the rear of the slide that… support charging. I found that the charging supports are a great addition to the weapon as they offered a solid surface to gain a definite grip on the slide during manipulation.

The VP9 used in this review was the LE version. The rear night sight of the VP9 LE features a forward leaning edge to offer a suitable surface for one-hand slide manipulations. This is something that I feel is important and you can read why in my article “Solving Problems, One Hand at a Time.”


The forward and rear slide serrations are fairly aggressive offering an excellent texture for manipulating the slide.


Other problem solving features on the VP9 include forward and rear slide serrations. Grip cut outs at the base of the mag well allow the shooter an area to gain hold on the magazine for removal during stoppage clearances.

The Shaw Shooting course ended with all the students shooting the same timed drills we had on the beginning of the first day. Every student, save for one poor sap, was able to reduce their time. I was able to trim a few seconds off of my first time to finish the drills with a time of 77.76 seconds. The speed increase proved to be enough to take the title of top shooter in the class.

Could I have achieved the same results or better times with my Glock? I don’t know, but I do know that I did well with the VP9, it did not let me down, and I enjoyed shooting it throughout the course. Now I have to go buy one for myself.

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Daniel Shaw is a retired US Marine Infantryman now the Director of Training for Thunderbird Tactical in Wichita KS.



The VP9 was a bit dirty after testing. (Holster by Allen Holsters)


Closing in on the 1,200 round mark, the VP9 began to look the part.