Back from vacation...
Early this month I took a road trip to Toledo, Ohio, which is where I am originally from, to attend a reunion. I specifically drove across states that honor Oklahoma's conceal carry license and I was, in fact, armed the entire time...which is the wise thing to do when two women drive across the country (my mother was with me). I'm happy to report I did not have to use any of my weapons, but there were times I was most grateful that I was armed.
Upon arriving at my destination and meeting my cousin Ashley's husband for the first time, I found out that he's a police officer, so we had a great time talking guns, gear and tactics. John took his lunch break for a family dinner while on duty and I was drooling over all his gear (I think he enjoyed seeing all my gear the day before) – and I realized the only things he carries that I don't are handcuffs and a taser gun (we even had the same type of pepper spray). My aunt asked me if I wanted to be a police officer and I said no, that I prefer avoiding bad guys when possible rather than engaging them.
My 15 year old second cousin, Dylan, has a black belt in karate and attends an adult class because of his skill level, so I took him to his class the second night I was there, thinking it'd be a great opportunity to observe martial arts training. I quickly realized Dylan has one of those rare great teachers who really teaches, focuses on tactics everyone can master, and is not into hype but rather true self-defense. His teacher, Dr. Michael Dunphy, holds a "day job" as professor of biochemistry at a local college.
I was on my feet at the edge of the mat through the entire class, watching the tactics, taking notes, and Dr. Dunphy was gracious enough to come off the mat several times and give me one-on-one instruction while his lead student ran drills with the class. He invited me to participate in Dylan's next class and so I did, having never done a single thing in martial arts. The sign of a good instructor is the success of the students, and not only did I get a great workout but I learned and practiced some terrific self-defense moves during this class.
I brought home a great deal of training techniques in breaking out of holds and using common items as weapons, such as pens and canes. It was the finishing touches I needed for a new class that has long been in the works (see below).
The karate dojo is called Shinbukan Center for the Martial Arts and I was impressed in every way with what went on there. It is always encouraging to meet other personal defense instructors who are good at what they do and really care about empowering their students.
Right next door to the dojo is a tactical supply store called Battleground. I initially went there to pick up a tactical pen that Dr. Dunphy showed me, but I ended up with a new training gun, several tactical pens, and a trial of their state of the art shooting simulator. I set up an appointment to spend an hour with the simulator but a family dinner interfered and so I wasn't able to keep that appointment. However, in the few minutes I spent with it I could see tremendous value in the ability to have "live" targets pop up in front of me. The way it works is via a video screen, you're in the dark (great training) and you can program the screen for any number of scenarios. They started me out with just shooting pop up targets (like you would at the range) and then moved to human bad guys. The gun I was using, though a simulator, was so realistic it actually jammed and I had to clear it. Very realistic experience.
Basically I came away from there with the plan to go back and allow more time for training opportunities!
I'm attending more classes for my own training in August, working on new classes, and it is my birthday month so it looks like I'm taking another month of "vacation" from teaching. I'll be getting back to a regular class schedule starting September. Check the Schedule page of my website for my current class schedule.
Women in the Outdoors Event
The Women in the Outdoors Event of July 17th was cancelled due to flooding. At this time the coordinator is considering rescheduling it in the winter. If you signed up for that and have questions, contact the coordinator, Judith Newman.
And Everything Else...
weapons to use when you can't carry a gun
September 18th from 10 am to 3 pm
Earl's BBQ, Moore
$45.00, includes lunch
This is a brand new class that covers kubotans (keychain mini-baton), hands, flashlights, pens, canes/walking sticks for those times when you cannot carry a gun. Like everything else I teach, these are techniques that anybody and everybody can learn and do. The first part of the class I'll teach you some common items, many of which you can carry right onto an airplane (because they're not "weapons") that you can legitimately use to defend yourself. Have you heard the joke about the guy who can kill somebody with a pen? It's not a joke, I learned how to do that in my one and only karate class! The second part of the class we'll do hands on drills to practice using some of these "weapons" – though we shall refrain from killing anyone with a pen (this is when "Rent a Thug" would come in handy!!)
There will be times you simply can not carry a gun – you do NOT need to feel defenseless during those times! This class will empower you to protect yourself with everyday items.
From a friend in Arkansas:
Q: I'm thinking about getting my conceal carry permit, if I do can I carry when I travel to Oklahoma? What are the laws?
A: This is something I actually very recently visited since I traveled across four states on my trip earlier this month. The direct answer is yes, if you have an Arkansas conceal carry permit you can carry in Oklahoma (and vice versa).
Most, though not all, states that issue conceal carry permits recognize one another's licenses. Any time I plan to travel out of state, I look up the reciprocity of the state I will be traveling in to see if I can carry in that state and what the specific differences are. For example, in Oklahoma with your license you may carry into a church unless it is specified on the door that you cannot. In Ohio you may not carry into a church unless it is specified on the door that you can. So you need to know more than simply what states honor your license.
Here is an online list of reciprocity for all 50 states. You can also find this on the Links page of my website.
And for those of you with an iPhone or iPod Touch, I found a terrific app that I used frequently while traveling this month. It's called Legal Heat. It costs $1.99 and it's worth every penny. When I was unsure about places while traveling, I pulled up the app, scrolled to the state and read the laws. It was an invaluable tool for me on vacation, highly recommended!
Send me your questions.
|Choosing a name for my gun was easy. When I was a kid we watched Roy Rogers on TV. His sidekick, Pat Brady, drove a jeep named Nellie Belle. In those days, adults called children by their first and middle names. My middle name is Belle so my friends gave the handle, "Nellie Belle." Hence, my 9mm compact is called Nellie Belle. Nellie, for short. Affectionately, I sometimes call her "Baby Belle."
Lela Belle French
If you have a story of how you named your gun, send to me and I'll post them in the next newsletter.
Tactical – of or pertaining to a maneuver or plan of action designed as an expedient toward gaining a desired end or temporary advantage; showing adroit planning; aiming at an end beyond the immediate action. From the Greek word taktikós.
I had the opportunity while traveling for 14 days in unfamiliar areas to make some great observations and I want to touch on some of that.
Hotel Safety: I stayed in hotels quite a lot and I noticed a number of security risks. For example, maids when cleaning the rooms, even occupied rooms while occupants were gone, would leave towels in the door to prop them open while they were coming and going. A would be robber could gain very easy access to any number of rooms and be in and out before the maid even noticed. This is of particular concern to those of us who carry a gun. I knew before I left that there would be times I could not carry my gun on my person, so I went prepared. I discussed the GunVault MicroVault in my last newsletter and I had the chance to put it to the test. It came with a cable that I could have used to secure it to something fixed in the hotel room, but I chose instead to put whatever gun I wasn't carrying (I had two with me) into the MicroVault which easily fit into my backpack, so I took the backpack with me and left it in the trunk of the car. Most of the nicer hotels have safety deposit boxes you can rent at the front desk, but frankly I don't want to risk anyone having potential access to something valuable of mine, particularly a gun, so I took my own safe which I kept with me.
I was also always on alert while getting on and off the elevators. This is a vulnerable time, and hotels can be target areas for predators, so even in the nice chains it is wise to not let your guard down. There are specific tactics to getting on and off elevators safely, which is something I will cover in my Defensive Awareness class.
I used the fitness centers while staying at hotels and some of the hotels required a room key to get into the fitness area, others did not. Working out, whether at a hotel or your own home territory, is a time of vulnerability because you tend to focus on your workout, or sometimes on music or TV or something to help get you through the workout! So I took my fanny pack holster with me and wore my M&P while working out. I did listen to my iPod while working out, but I positioned myself so that I could see the door and see if anyone came in. The key is movement – keep your eyes moving, keep your body moving, keep your car moving, watch for movement...all of this keeps you a less easy target and keeps you aware of your surroundings.
Road Safety: Fortunately I did not encounter any road rage maniacs while driving, but I did find myself a few times needing to pull over because I was lost or missed a turn. This is quite unnerving because again you are in a vulnerable spot while stopped in an unfamiliar place. I found having an iPhone to be a lifesaver because instead of opening up a big paper map, I could just hit "recalculate route" on the Maps feature and simply follow the directions. Even when I needed to stop for a few moments I didn't have a big paper map blocking my view so I could stay alert to my surroundings. Many of you have GPS units in your car that work the same as the iPhone Maps feature. It's a good idea to save your destinations in the GPS ahead of time if you have that option so you can quickly pull up directions, this minimizes your time stopped at an unknown location, thus minimizing your risk.
One of the days I was there I traveled to a childhood friend's house which was two hours west of where I was staying and I drove back after dark. This was a bit uncomfortable because much to my surprise Ohio has many areas that are completely void of cell phone towers (due in part to the Amish) so no matter what cell carrier you may have, there simply isn't reception. So I was in dead zones quite a bit, but I was prepared so therefore not fearful – I was armed quite well with very easy access should I need it to any number of weapons; the car I was driving was a new rental car with new tires so barring any unforeseen accident there was little risk of breaking down; I kept the doors locked at all times and being only a two hour trip I didn't stop once I started; and yes I did keep watch on long isolated stretches of highway for cars that hovered. By this I mean a car that either sits in the left lane while you're in the right, stays a little too close behind you, or even keeps pulling in front of you. I encountered one such car that sat in the left lane a few minutes too long so I opted to slow down and let him pass. Shortly thereafter he slowed down so I decided I wasn't going to chance whether he was oblivious or up to no good and I sped up and left him in a trail of dust. Yes, it was a safety thing but I admit it was exhilarating as well!
Shopping & Stopping in
Unfamiliar Places: This is a given when you're traveling out of town. As I mentioned above, I checked the state laws on carrying before I went, and I also referred frequently to my iPhone app on gun laws. But I discovered that in Ohio many places, such as restaurants and stores, have a "no guns" sign on the door...in fact the only place I knew for sure I could carry was at the karate dojo and tactical supply store. (Kentucky and Tennessee were a whole other story, I picked up some awesome pro gun t-shirts at a truck stop in Kentucky!) Now because the state recognizes my license, I could carry at all times in my car and so I did, my MicroVault was in my backpack and in one instance I gained access to my gun in about 5 seconds when I felt threatened...other times when I knew I was going to be mostly in the car (i.e. not leaving it in a parking lot for hours) I left the gun in the console for quick access. Always while driving I had my gun on my person along with two spare magazines. Being summer with lighter dress, I realized before I left that carrying a backup gun wasn't very workable so I carried my full size M&P with two spare magazines – this speaks to spending time with your personal firearm as I have my M&P, I know this gun will run because I've put thousands of rounds through it, so my most likely failure would be a magazine or ammo failure and two spare magazines would cover that. So I felt prepared. And of course, that wasn't the only weapon I had on or near my person (I'll cover that in the new class!)
On Being Prepared:
The common thread through all my teaching and training is be prepared because you simply do not know when you'll need the skills you've learned. Many of you know I carry a Surefire tactical flashlight and recommend this as a part of your every day "gear." On the way home we stopped in Nashville (the midway point) to stay the night at a nice 6-story hotel near Opryland. The hotel was in a good part of town and was clean and safe so I was not on high alert there...until the power went out. We were on the 3rd floor when the blackout occurred. There was a balcony with a sliding glass door that we could open and see that the entire surrounding area was pitch black. I had my Surefire and a backup battery (which I didn't need) and so instead of panic as I heard throughout the hotel, I calmly got my flashlight and I could light up anything and everything within several hundred yards. A few minutes after the power went out, my mother and I were standing on the balcony and saw a big ladder fire truck arrive...she said, "Should we be concerned?" and I noted that the firemen were not moving quickly and were getting large tools out of the truck (rather than water hoses)...turned out someone was in the elevator when the power went out (I'm just glad it wasn't me!!). With my Surefire I could light up the entire floor outside my room, which I did to make sure all was well and to locate the stairs, and illuminate my entire room. I had already secured the room, so I made sure I knew where everything was (translation, guns were within reach) and we went to bed. About the time I was sound asleep the power came back on. I can tell you being in a blackout in a strange city in a hotel I'd never been in before made me very thankful I had my Surefire.
Contact me if there's a specific topic you'd like to see addressed in this section.
Real life stories in their own words from students of how they used
something they learned in class to deal with a potential threat
(used by permission)
Email me your story.
Car Jacking Thwarted!
I'm soooooooo glad I've taken all of your classes....I had an interesting trip downtown. I went down to the Court House to file a deed and while I was sitting at a red light to turn left a man tried to get into my car. Thank God I always keep my doors locked because he snuck up from the back passenger side and I didn't see him until he was trying to open the passenger door. Nobody else was at the light. It scared the crap out of me and immediately made me furious. I am unable to carry during the week because of my job, but I always have my Fox pepper spray in my purse, which I keep unzipped on the passenger seat so that I can get to it quickly. I'm so glad for all of your classes – I had the Fox in my hand in a heartbeat as I lunged at the passenger window screaming, “I’ll kill you you son of a bitch.” It shocked him so much that he ran off, looking behind him as he went. There were no police around as usual and no other people really except for the cars flying by that I would have hit if I'd run the red light, which I would have done if he'd gotten in. It sounds funny being downtown but it was actually an oddly isolated spot at the moment he picked to try and get in...I'm sure that's what he was waiting for. I know I'm paranoid but it's no wonder, there's always some scumbag just around the corner.....
So, this is just an extra thank you for the training you have given me because I could tell it shocked him at how I immediately reacted.
Angie proved what I strive to get across to my students – that you must prepare ahead of time (i.e. train) so that you are always ready to deal with an unforeseen threat. Some people have the attitude they’ll go on alert when a dangerous situation arises, but as you’ve heard me say, I don’t go to dangerous places yet sometimes the places I go turn dangerous. What happened to Angie verifies this. She was downtown at a typically busy location in her car, and she told me she was looking around as she always does. “He came out of nowhere” is what I frequently hear – and I have in fact experienced this myself. The truth is, he doesn’t “come out of nowhere” but it is impossible to see everything at all times so yes, of course, sometimes even the most situationally aware of us are going to miss something. This is why we cannot rely upon only one plan of action. For example, Angie cannot carry on week days because of her job, so she had an alternative weapon. Most importantly, she had her alternative weapon at the ready, meaning she didn’t have to reach for her purse, or dig around inside of it to find the pepper spray. I cannot stress enough that it does absolutely no good to have a weapon – any weapon – and not be prepared (trained) to use it, AND have it close enough so that you can quickly get it when you need it.
Angie also demonstrated what I teach about aggression. First of all, we must care enough about ourselves to get angry when some scumbag decides to take advantage of us…in her own words, it first scared her and then angered her. This is a perfect example of what I teach about using our own adrenaline in our favor. Yes, get angry, let 100% of that anger out toward the would be attacker. Mr. Scumbag may not have seen what she had in her hand, that it was pepper spray and not a gun, but I doubt he would have even looked because he was too focused on the crazy lady in the car screaming that SHE’s gonna kill HIM!
Wait, what? Scumbag decides to get in innocent woman’s car and do God only knows what to her and suddenly she opens up a can of whoop ass on him!?! I am bursting with pride…and I have to wonder if Mr. Scumbag had to change his pants after that…
This is an excellent example of going on the offensive as soon as possible. Angie’s actions turned the tables and she went on the offensive rather than being on the defensive, which is a tactical advantage…as soon as you have the opportunity, turn the situation around and put your would be attacker on the defensive. Yeah, I think this scumbag was quickly on the defensive.
I asked Angie if she bruised her shoulder because the seatbelt was holding her back as she lunged toward the window and she laughed and said “probably.”
Angie did everything right. She prepared herself by training in different methods of personal defense. She had her car doors locked, and yeah Scumbag could have broken her window (he was banging on the window when the door didn’t open) but she bought herself enough time by having her doors locked to get to her pepper spray. Had he succeeded in breaking the window he would have gotten a face full of Fox 5.3 (the 5.3 stands for 5.3 million Scoville Heat Units of pure chili pepper – if you haven’t taken my pepper spray class, don’t miss that class so you’ll know why that’s important). Yes, Scumbag would have been in a world of hurt. I suspect had he succeeded in breaking the window, and gotten 5.3 million SHU in the face, the grand finale would have been getting run over as Angie drove away.
Don’t have a gun? Use your car.
Fox Pepper Spray, $14.50. Training, $45.00. Not getting raped, tortured and murdered–PRICELESS!
Incidentally, the day after this happened to Angie the local news reported two men wanted in two different incidents of car jackings. One approached a woman in a parking lot asking for a ride, when she refused he forced himself into her car with her in it…she escaped by throwing herself out of the moving car and running for help at a business. This suspect is still at large. (See OKC PD Citizen Alert for details)
Ladies, there are plenty of scumbags out there, and they don’t just want a ride, they want to do unspeakable things to you. You must be prepared to deal with these would be attackers, as Angie was, because you cannot rely on anyone else to protect you from those who would do worse than kill you.
Great job, Angie!