Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The Search For Animal Chin

The Search for Animal Chin

The wizened old guru, Won Ton “Tactical Animal” Chin is out there. Isn't he? Part of my misspent youth was taken up by this film, one of many movies that nobody ever watched, that I really liked. The plot is these young souls looking for the source of all the wisdom in their chosen field.

As a firearms instructor, there’s a certain fantasy about our own Animal Chin being out there. As someone on this path, should I be searching for him? I’ve had many long talks with the world’s greatest firearms instructor and he is the one who told me that out there somewhere is a guy teaching the best stuff to his students. The heart of gunfighting without all the flair that we see in the current training community. I’m also guilty of adding flair, I post photos and write little blurbs like this one. But those aren't teaching. Time spent doing that is not time spent pressure testing curriculum to find any deficiencies. But somewhere, that instructor is out there doing that. He doesn't update his website, because he didn't make one. He isn't posting on instagram, because that's not important to him. There’s not a bookface page we can follow his exploits on because he is too busy passing along his wisdom to his students.

I don't know who he is, because he has never talked about himself. And his students have not told me about him. Maybe because they assume I know who he is, or maybe they don't want to share this gem they have found. But his students, whomever they are, find him with word of mouth. Someone told them and they searched him out. Animal Chin might not even realize that he is this wise guru, he might think he’s just a dude teaching dudes good skills. Which makes the search all the more difficult.

I know this, his range has a berm. It does not have fancy reactive targets, nothing is remote controlled, I doubt there is running water. He doesn’t give a silly certificate at the end, and there is no swag shop in the trunk of his 87 Honda Civic. Just staplers and a stack of targets. You get a handshake and a “good job” at the end of class. But the actual reward is tenfold more than you get from the biggest, most famous schools.

I brought this idea up at a recent class I was at with another awesome instructor who certainly is not as well known as he should be. He concurred that Chin might be out there. Filling his classes with students because they tell their friends how great he is, not because he advertises. He doesn't even know he is the Animal Chin. He’s just doing his thing. He doesn't tell his students the history of a technique, he might not even use the name of the technique as the industry does. Because he doesn't care what it's called or who or when it was invented, he just cares that his students understand how to do it and why they are doing it.

I was not convinced that Chin existed. And frankly, I’m still not. But two of the most talented instructors to ever teach think he does. Is that reason to set off in search of him? Should it turn into a cheesy movie with a bunch of cool shooting action? I’m going to say "probably" to the first question and "no thank you" to the second. Not that it wouldn't be a fun film, but if that teacher is out there, it’s not my place to put him in a limelight that he did not choose. But if any of you have any leads, please point me in the directions of the Tactical Animal Chin. I may have to get this quest started.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Range Crap

I see a bunch of useless range crap peddled all the time to unsuspecting gun dudes. Stuff that “helps” them at the the range. Then there’s the list of regular stuff that dudes
tote to the range with them. Lots of it either doesn’t work, or it doesn’t work as well as
something else. I’m amazed at how often I see a guy struggling with his support gear,
and I’ll assume he just is caught up in the “always done it this way” and not looked for
an alternative. So I made a list:

Range bags without dual back straps.
There's a fair amount of stuff that usually comes along to the range. So the bags tend
to get large. Then there's a single shoulder strap on this giant square duffelbag that likes
to slip off the shoulder because it was designed poorly. It’s also often a lot of weight that
would better be distributed over both shoulders, and would free up one hand, as one is
always busy keeping that shoulder strap from coming off.
Range bags designed to hold ammo and guns.
After the first entry, I’m already convinced that most range bags #1 purpose is to separate
a gun owner from their money. But they build a duffel bag that costs over a hundred dollars
and then assume the dude who bought it is going to bring his single pistol and 100 rounds
of ammo to shoot. If a guy is buying a 199 dollar duffelbag, he probably is bringing his 5
pistols and a thousand rounds of ammo to the range with him. And now he has a stupid pistol rug slot and a tiny spot for bullets built into his caddilac of range bags with no gear that fits in it. I’m not even going to mention the 5 loops for magazines, I have no idea where the other 20 are supposed to go.

Paper Targets
I’ll start off by saying I mean big paper targets. Anything larger than an 8 ½ X 11 or a B8
center. I used to buy IDPA silhouettes made of paper because they were much more
affordable than cardboard. But you know what I couldn't do with them? Staple them to
uprights. They would tear in the slightest breeze. So now I was buying cardboard targets
to use as backers...And then I realized I could just shoot the actual cardboard targets. Some
paper targets are larger than a silhouette, but the problem then becomes the parts outside
the cardboard backer blow all over the place and cannot be seen anyway.  And sometimes
it rains, mostly every time I'm at the range. The melting targets are always a good time, and
no known method will keep them attached when they are saturated.

There are companies that make a living from making precut pieces of tape at exorbitant
prices because people are too lazy to rip their own piece of tape from a roll. Or folks like to
spend money on stuff because its designated as shooting tape instead of the 88 cent roll
of masking tape they buy at wally world.

2X4 uprights
The big overbuilt concept is one I often admire. Sometimes, like this one, it's a hindrance.
While it does offer more resilience to getting shot (why are we shooting the edge of the
target again?), it has some down sides. It might need power tools to be replaced. It’s often
screwed into the base and the 8 foot replacement piece needs a saw to get cut down into
a usable length. Now the aforementioned range bag needs a battery powered saw and
screwgun.  1 X 2 firring strips cost less and are easier to: transport, cut, install, replace.
Plus they offer a unique advantage of using binder clips to attach targets to them.

Spray Glue
It has a single use. To attach a paper target to some type of backer. It will not hold a real target up (cardboard) and depending on the brand, a 5 dollar can will not last past one relay of students in a class. The area I like it is attaching a smaller target to my used IPSC target, like a small dot drill, a B8 center, a business or index card, etc. But you know what else works there? That 88 cent roll of masking tape.

Tiny cheap staplers.
The el cheapo stapler that we buy for putting up christmas lights was not designed to put in 300 staples a day, 2 days a week, 40+ weeks a year. Big and robust, and it should be front loading, no more of this "pull out the thing, drop em in, put the thing back in"…..that thing always gets lost. Big staples that go through a cardboard targets and possibly into a knot of wood and a stapler that will reliably deliver them.

At some point, I’ll likely make a video about a range bag and the gear that goes in it, but it
wont be for awhile. So in the meantime, I called out the stuff that makes baby Jesús weep
in sorrow.