Category Archives: Training

Marana Road Rage Shooting Leads to Death, Arrest

I firmly believe that law abiding individuals have a right to carry concealed firearms for self-defense. The passage of constitutional carry in Arizona, an effort of the Arizona Citizens Defense League, was hailed by many as a step forward in this regard, but I found it objectionable for two reasons. One was practical, in that it, at least for a time, limited the number of states which recognized my Arizona concealed handgun permit, thus actually reducing my ability to legally defend myself. The other was theoretical, in that people without an understanding of laws regarding use of force might carry and potentially use firearms inappropriately, as I found the use of force discussions to be the most valuable portion of my CCW permit class.

Arizona was already a shall issue permit state, so the constitutional carry provision simply eliminated this short educational period and the laughably brief range qualification. It was hailed by many as a step forward for freedom because one no longer had to “seek written permission from the government” to carry, but as I said before, the efforts of the AZCDL actually limited my ability to legally carry a firearm in neighboring states. Some would put forth the notion that the solution to this problem should be that all states adopt constitutional carry, which will never happen, at least not in my lifetime.

As Arizona still has now-optional concealed weapons permits, you might think the training provisions would remain so that other states would not rescind reciprocity agreements; no, AZCDL saw fit to reduce training requirements for permits as well, even touting this as an accomplishment, thus prompting states like Nevada to end Arizona concealed weapons permit reciprocity (Nevada has since chosen to recognize Arizona permits once again, but for quite some time this was not the case). Many of the other things AZCDL has done have been extremely beneficial to Arizonans and others traveling through this great state. In my opinion, this was not one of them.

Shooting Death of Martin Padilla

My theoretical concerns were borne out a week ago when a 26 year old man – who due to his age could not have received a concealed carry permit prior to the constitutional carry law being enacted, and thus is unlikely to have ever attended the longer, once-required 16 hour class which discussed in detail legal issues regarding the use of lethal force – shot and killed a 40 year old man in front of his four children after a road rage incident and subsequent physical altercation, both of which were apparently prompted by the 26 year old man.

Here’s the interim complaint:

According to the above complaint and an interview with Hamza Padilla, the facts are as follows. As I may have transcribed things incorrectly, I encourage you to read and/or watch the primary sources above.

Marcus Dixon, 26, honked at a vehicle after it failed to go through a green arrow or at least move fast enough when a red turn arrow went green. This vehicle was driven by the 15-year-old son, Hamza, of 40-year-old Martin Padilla, who occupied the front passenger seat, while his three younger siblings sat in the backseat. Hamza stated that Marcus Dickson had been tailgating him.

After moving through the intersection at a pace apparently unacceptable to Marcus Dickson, Hamza pulled into a Walmart parking lot and attempted to move out of the way so the other vehicle could pass. Instead, Marcus Dickson pulled in front of the vehicle so as to block it in, at which point both adults emerged from their vehicles and a physical altercation apparently started by Marcus Dickson ensued. As Martin Padilla was 6 ft 5 in tall and 300 pounds and Marcus Dickson is 5 feet 11 inches tall and 215 pounds, along with the fact that Marcus Dickson’s ground game apparently sucks, Padilla ended up on top and may have struck Dickson a number of times, although his injuries described in the complaint are relatively minor and not particularly visible in his booking photo.

Edit: Well, this is embarrassing. I mixed up the sizes of the individuals involved. Somehow, despite being taller and weighing almost 100lbs more, Dickson ended up at the losing end of the physical fight. I reiterate my comment that Dickson’s ground game sucked – with extra emphasis this time.

26 year old Marcus Dickson, charged with manslaughter in the shooting death of Martin Padilla.

Dickson stated that he drew his firearm with his right hand and shot Padilla in the torso once, was able to get out from under him as Padilla made a strange sound, then shot him again in order to keep him from standing up, which Padilla was apparently making no attempt to do.

Dickson has been charged with manslaughter. I fully expect and hope that he will face a fair trial. While the facts of the case may be different than those stated in the interim, in which case I would be open to changing my opinion and interpretation of the situation, for now I will take the facts of the complaint at face value.

This does not look good for Marcus Dickson. He was apparently the aggressor in a situation in which the victim’s vehicle, possibly at the direction of the victim, attempted to deescalate before trapping the victim and emerging from his vehicle to challenge a man with his four minor children, a man who quite understandably sought to defend his children, especially the 15 year old driver of the vehicle who apparently raised Dickson’s ire. Dickson then apparently chose to engage in a physical altercation.  When the fight started to go bad for him, he used lethal force twice, at least one example of which was not justified by the victim’s actions as described in the complaint.

Viewed within the context of the road rage incident and the initiation of the physical altercation as well as the second, apparently totally unnecessary shot, however – as I said, this does not look good for Marcus Dickson.

Curiously, this exact type of situation was discussed when I went to my concealed weapon permit class about 10 years ago. The question was posed by a student as to whether or not one could draw and fire a gun at someone in a fight one was losing. As I recall, the instructor said you could absolutely do so if you feared for your life as a result of the size or number of the people you were fighting, but that the authorities would likely take a very dim view if you were the one who initiated the fight.

Certainly, Marcus Dickson could have, and indeed may have, sought this information on his own instead of being forced to attend a class which discussed the use of force. I understand that the idea of the government forcing one to learn about the laws and moral issues surrounding the use of lethal force, even from a private instructor, is anathema to some. Furthermore, if the facts as alleged in the complaint are true, it may be the case that Dickson was a hothead who would not have benefited from any input regarding how to use a concealed weapon, instead choosing to follow his own moral compass. It could also be possible that Martin Padilla was in fact the aggressor, or maybe some would say Padilla should not have gotten out of his vehicle, even if he felt a strong desire to put himself between his children and someone who was allegedly attempting to trap them in a confined area. It should be noted that Padilla was an Army veteran who served in Iraq as an interpreter.

I can’t help but wonder if Martin Padilla would be alive today if Marcus Dickson had been sitting in a class taught by the same instructor who told me that you would be on thin legal ice if you used lethal force in a fistfight you started.

As a side note, I had been in that parking lot – turning left at that same green arrow – just a few hours before the shooting, in a vehicle with a friend who is under the age of 18. Had Mr. Dickson been following me, I too would have attempted to deescalate and drive away or pull aside to allow him to pass. The fact that I had firearms in the vehicle at the time would have been a reminder that I had no need to prove my superiority as a result of a misunderstanding in traffic. Speaking in general terms, carrying a firearm has encouraged me to avoid confrontations whenever possible. It saddens me that a man is dead and four children are without a father after the same choices were not made in real life.

A GoFundMe has been set up for Padilla’s family.

Magpul Dynamics Courses At Sniper Country In Utah

I first met Caylen Wojcik at the 2013 Sniper Adventure Challenge, where he and his (shooting, not domestic) partner Jon Canipe displayed shooting skills far in excess of the entire field of competitors. For example, of the 26 teams in the competition, only 7 scored a rifle hit on the first shooting stage. Two teams had one hit, four teams (including Paul and I) had two hits, and one team (Ares Armor, I believe) had four hits. Caylen scored seven hits out of ten possible.

Caylen Wojcik
Caylen Wojcik

So he can definitely shoot, but it’s not surprising that he also has a solid background. He was a Scout Sniper in the Marine Corps, having taken part in Phantom Fury and been an instructor at 1st Marine Division’s Sniper School. He’s also been teaching shooting since he got out of the military, and I’ve heard nothing but good things about the quality of his instruction.

Why am I telling you this? Because he’ll be teaching two Magpul Dynamics courses at Sniper Country (also known as the Desert Tech Training Facility), hosted by Deliberate Dynamics, in March. The first is a three-day DMR course on March 22-24, and the second is a four-day introduction to precision rifle course on March 26-29. The courses are all-inclusive, meaning that one price pays for your lodging, food, and the training. More information can be found here.

I have co-taught a good number of courses at Sniper Country, and at first it was basically a very large open range with steel targets out to 1800 yards. Desert Tech has since put a lot of money in the facility, with new improvements coming on line at a rapid pace. It’s a really awesome place for a shooting class, and Caylen is a pretty awesome guy to take a class from. If you have the time, I highly recommend taking one of these courses.

Vuurwapen Concepts Training Course Info & Dates

Now that we have two training courses under our belt, Jim and I have made some further adjustments to the Vuurwapen Concepts course curriculum. The second course incorporated some pistol shooting, and all subsequent courses will expand on that. Most notably, however, we’re moving to a three-day course format (with an optional fourth day at the beginning for refreshing fundamentals). This will allow for additional training and evaluation time over the two-day format, although the course fee remains relatively low at $450. We’ve scheduled courses for October 11-13 and November 8-10, again at Sniper Country in northern Utah.

Low light pistol shooting at the July 27-28 class.

Also relevant to potential students is that we have added approximately half a dozen instructors, all of whom have special operations experience in military or federal government units or agencies (or both). Their expertise varies from breaching to trauma medicine, although all are extremely proficient with firearms and capable of passing these skills on to others. We’re working on bios and further information, but a lot of these guys are still working in their respective fields, so various security concerns may require that some information be withheld. I know this sounds super secret squirrel, but trust me, these guys are really impressive. Their expertise is also very relevant to the courses we’re teaching (including the concealed carry portion of the class), and will allow for expanded course options in the future.

We will have at least three and most likely four instructors at each course. This will allow us to move from course module to course module smoothly while providing as much one-on-one instruction as possible.

Soon I will also share the Vuurwapen Concepts website and other cool stuff. Things are moving along quickly and I’m excited for what the future holds.

What’s In My First Aid Kit And Why

As a Corpsman, my job in the military was to put band-aids on Marines and hold them when they felt sad. I received a decent amount of medical training during that time and also had a small bit of hands-on experience (mostly treating wounded Iraqi children and inept terrorists). I was not a SARC and did not go through the 18D pipeline. Before joining the Navy, I worked in an emergency room as a physician’s scribe. These experiences have shaped my outlook on emergency medicine and the equipment I carry for first aid purposes.

Recently, I have noticed more people talking about what first aid kit or trauma kit they carry or own, which is a good thing. However, having a band-aid is only part of the equation when it comes to treating a cut. Unlike being in a gunfight, for which not bringing a gun is a cardinal sin, first aid can often be improvised with available materials while help is summoned. Some of the most serious injuries I have ever dealt with were treated with inadequate supplies. Realize that as a first responder, the best thing you can do is to get your patient to a higher level of care as soon as possible.

Vitriolic Tangent About Training

While it is popular in the gun world to “get training” (and I definitely think you should attend the ones I teach!), it does not seem as popular to get training in other areas – driving, first aid, etc. Think about it – how much time do you spend driving each day versus how much time you spend in a gunfight each day? How many people are killed by drunk drivers each year versus armed criminals or terrorists? Why would you bias all of your training towards firearms instead of spreading out your expendable income to include a high performance driving course? Similarly, why go to more than one firearm training course before you know basic first aid? Excuses for not attending Bondurant include the fact that it’s really expensive, but basic CPR and first aid courses are generally available through the Red Cross for affordable prices.

If you haven’t kept current with first aid in a while, a refresher might not be a bad idea. For example, CPR, which was once called “rescue breathing,” has now changed into “continuous chest compressions.” A few years – or maybe a decade – ago, there was a pretty wide separation between military and civilian medical training. Lessons learned in Iraq and Afghanistan seem to have trickled down to those in fire departments and EMS, although I can’t say that everything is now being taught the same way on both sides. However, whether you go through a Red Cross class or a Combat Aidsman course, I think you’ll be well ahead of someone who hasn’t bothered to get any first aid training. For that matter, a 12-year-old Boy Scout with his neckerchief and a stick will be light years ahead of someone with a fancy trauma kit and no idea how to use it.

Okay, back to the topic at hand.

Stuff I Generally Keep In My Car

I have a lot of medbags thanks to my time in the military – mostly Unit Ones and a big London Bridge bag. However, one of the most useful first aid kits I own was purchased after I got out: an Adventure Medical Kits Guide 1. It was discounted heavily on Steep and Cheap, so I didn’t pay $270 for it. However, I’ve gotten plenty of use out of it and try to keep it replenished. I’ll cover individual items later, but a good kit like this will cover most of your needs. Even a $20 kit at Walmart or Target has the basics.

I originally posted this photo on Instagram. You should follow me on Instagram @vuurwapenblog, or else.

Although the Guide 1 has some items for treating trauma injuries, I also carry a kit of my own assembly. This generally consists of tourniquets, pressure dressings, chest seals, 14 gauge IV catheters, SAM splints, ACE bandages, abdominal bandages, and Water-Jel. Putting together something like this from scratch with the basics (mostly just tourniquets/pressure dressings) shouldn’t be too expensive. I like using brightly colored bags or keeping the kit in a larger, easily recognizable bag so that I can tell someone to run to my car and grab “the big red bag” or something like that, rather than tell them to grab the khaki pouch in the trunk full of khaki, coyote, tan, and brown items.

I use the CAT tourniquet because I have seen it work well, but I would not be too particular about the type as long as I could apply it to myself or others without too much difficulty. Some people say that the CAT windlass breaks easily, but I haven’t seen that – it’s something to consider, but as long as you know how to apply it properly, you will be fine. I was issued Cinch-Tight pressure dressings and have not seen a need to look for anything else.

Chest seals – I was taught to improvise them (using an ID card taped at three corners over the wound, allowing air to escape but sealing fairly well against the entrance of air) as well as use the Ascherman, although the HALO is supposedly better; I have not had occasion to use the HALO, but much like the CAT, the Ascherman works well if you know its failure points.

The IV catheter is for relieving tension pneumothorax. I was trained how to use it, although it’s up to you as to whether or not you carry one. If you take my advice and seek out training, this won’t be an issue.

The SAM splints and ACE bandages are for joint immobilization; this can be improvised if the patient needs to stay in place, but if you need to move to a pickup point, having good supplies for joint immobilization might be invaluable.

Finally, the Water-Jel is for treatment of burns.

I also like having an axe or large hammer in my car, and a knife in my pocket. These items can help free someone if they are trapped. Oh, and I bring nitrile gloves, too. I also have a prepaid cell phone with up to date service with a different provider than my normal smartphone just in case said normal smartphone is dead or doesn’t get service when I need help.

Stuff I Carry With Me In A Pack

It’s okay to put a big bag of stuff in the trunk of my car, but do I carry all that stuff with me on a day hike? No. I’ll generally bring a small kit with band-aids of various sizes, Neosporin, alcohol pads, ammonia poppers (to wake up dead people), gloves, ACE bandages, Kerlex, some 4×4 gauze pads, NSAIDs (generic Naproxen most of the time) as well as an Epi-Pen (I don’t have allergies, but other people do). You’ll notice that I don’t bring the majority of trauma kit items, and that’s because they’re far less likely to be needed. You don’t want to be the guy standing there saying “Sorry about the scraped knee, but I can only help people who have been shot in the chest or leg.”

Final Thought

Understand the human body, the mechanisms of injury which it is likely to encounter, how the body responds to these injuries, and how you can help the body in this fight until help arrives. Have appropriate tools if possible, but focus on understanding first.

Feedback From the Vuurwapen/Deliberate Dynamics AR-15 Course

Last weekend was the first of what will hopefully be many firearm training courses taught by myself and Jim Staley of Deliberate Dynamics. Writing about it wholly from my perspective would be a bit self-serving, so I’ll share some photos/video and the feedback I solicited from the 14 students who attended the course. If you’re interested in attending our next course, scheduled for July 27/28, you may sign up here.

As one student said, “Judging by the type of people that attended, its clear that your blog and other work has attracted a levelheaded and intelligent group of followers. Everyone was courteous and I didn’t see any clashing of egos.”

I asked for their honest opinions, and will summarize/compile them here in the interests of brevity. If any students wish to comment on this post, they are welcome to do so (some already have).

The stuff everyone liked:

– Taking high speed video of each student on the range and reviewing it in front of the whole class back at the lodge really helped everyone improve their manipulation and understanding of the firearm. Here’s a sample of most of the group, although each student was filmed individually as well.

– Chronographing each rifle/ammo combination, as well as taking photos of the muzzle flash of each, was educational/useful/enlightening.

BattleComp claims that their muzzle devices produce flash comparable to that of the A2. This is untrue.

– Many students had no idea that they were capable of shooting as far as they ended up doing so (depending on rifle, ammo, and shooter, 500 to 900 yards). Everyone was shooting an AR-15 in 5.56/.223.
– Shooter/spotter drills with the target unknown until the timer buzzed were very useful.
– Reloading and target transition portions of the course greatly improved the shooters’ efficiency with the firearm.
– Everyone seemed to love the range and the lodge.
– The group was great and everyone got along swimmingly.

Students gained experience not only from shooting, but from spotting.

The recommendations for improvement:

– There was a lot of downtime, especially on the first day. Some of this couldn’t be helped, as we only had one high speed video camera and one chronograph. However, we’ll definitely be cutting down on this in the future, organizing the curriculum so that there are multiple training evolutions occurring at once.
– Including items such as a shooting mat or binoculars on the recommended gear list would be nice.

The gravel wasn’t so bad…well…

– Incorporate a more rigorous final test/drill/competition/exam/feedback. This was originally planned, but would have resulted in a lot more downtime as our planned course could only have been used by one shooter at a time. We will, however, be incorporating this into the curriculum in the future.
– We had some technical difficulties with vehicles, although they did not present a major obstacle to the course or to the shooters getting range time.

Riding in the back of pickup trucks wasn’t so bad…well…

If I may, here are a few accolades from students:

– “I felt like it was a good use of my time, I learned a LOT and I enjoyed myself.”
– “Overall I know I learned a lot more about myself as a shooter. And your high speed video definitely helped everyone diagnose issues they wouldn’t have otherwise seen. Nice job.”
– “I want to say thanks for putting on such a great course. I’ve been through a good number of schools and classes in the military that were just miserable. Yours was a good balance of seriousness and relaxation to make it very enjoyable.”
– “I had a great time shooting with you guys. The drive was long as all hell, but I loved the location and learned that my shooting platform while standing sucks and my reloads are inefficient and full of fail.”
– “They gave us practical information throughout the course, with explanations of the positive and negative of why something is done. Both Jim and Andrew have a wealth of knowledge and an ability to teach.”
– “(I) learned an enormous amount in a very short period of time.”
– “I really enjoyed the class.  I thought you guys did a great job especially for it being the first time you put this together. It was educational, challenging, and it was also a good time.”