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Elderly Homeowners, Attempted Burglary and the Castle Doctrine…

Question: My mother is over 65 and in ill health and has been tormented by numerous attempts by someone to either (peep) in her windows; tamper with the windows, etc.  She is thinking of purchasing a firearm for protection since my father, who is 73 and still works, travels away from the home 4 days a week.  I am afraid that if she does get a firearm and someone tries to break into her home she will be so terrified as to shoot and ask questions later.  Please advise.

Answer: It’s a sad commentary, but in many cases the elderly are targeted by criminals since they are generally one of the more weak and potentially helpless members of our community.  A former student of mine just told me about an incident where there was an attempted home invasion at his father’s house.  You mother should certainly take some steps to protect herself.  One thing she may want to consider is purchasing a burglar alarm that she can activate with a panic button remote that she can keep on her person when she is at home.

If she is intent on purchasing a gun, I’d recommend that she get some training with it and consider attending an Arizona Concealed Weapons Permit course, not so that she can carry concealed, but rather so that she has a better understanding of the laws that govern the use of deadly force and when it can justifiably be used.  We see a lot of older men and women in our courses for this reason.

If she did purchase a gun for her own protection, should someone break into her home she would be justified in using the firearm in self defense if the burglar entered her home illegally and she was in reasonable fear of serious injury, sexual assault or being killed.  As far as shooting first and asking questions later, as long as the criminal was inside her home, she would be on pretty firm legal ground.  If they were still outside, there is an argument that could be made that there was no ‘credible’ threat until the criminal entered her home and she was therefore not justified in using lethal force.  One of the reasons for taking the class is to understand under what circumstances she can legally defend herself.

Overall, I’d suggest the burglar alarm route first, but would have no problem with the firearm as long as she had proper training.

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Carrying a "1911 style" Semi Automatic Pistol while "Cocked and Locked"…

Question:  I recently purchased a Springfield Armory 1911 Mil Spec. My intended use for it is the defense of my family while on remote desert trips. I took your excellent CCW class and I’m very experienced in gun safety, but this is my first 1911.  The internet blogs are full of conflicting opinions about the safest way to holster-carry a .45 of this type. The “Lock and Load” (hammer at full cock) faction point out that there are trigger, grip and manual safeties so this is plenty safe. Opponents of ‘Lock and Load” recommend a full magazine below an empty chamber, saying that there’s usually plenty of time to work the slide to arm the pistol. I would very much appreciate your comments about this.

Answer: If you are planning on carrying a 1911 style pistol, it can be safely carried in “cocked and locked” or what is typically referred to as “Condition 1″.  There are a couple of things to consider.

First you should insure that your holster completely covers the trigger and retains the gun well.

Second, you will need to make sure that you practice disengaging the thumb safety as you draw so that it will be automatic.  The biggest issue I see for 1911 shooters is that they don’t practice disengaging the safety which will most likely cause them to forget to disengage it under stress.  This can obviously have catastrophic consequences in a potential gunfight situation.

Third, despite what some might say, in my experience you will absolutely not have time to work the slide and arm the pistol.  It is very frustrating for me to find these ‘arm chair firearms experts’ telling people stuff that could literally get them killed.  When confronted with a lethal force situation, you will literally have a couple of seconds to reach.  When you consider that even practiced shooters require 1.5 – 2 seconds to get their gun out of the holster and on target, having to rack the slide and chamber a round will add .5 seconds to the draw at a minimum.  Now you are talking about a reaction time of 2-3 seconds to get your gun into play.  By that time, you may find that the gunfight is over because the bad guy had the advantage of starting first.  Remember, you are reacting to some sort of ‘triggering event’ that caused you to reach for your gun.  You can also lose the tactical advantage as racking the slide will make noise.  If your potential adversary is not yet aware of you, they likely will be after you rack your slide.  The sound is pretty unmistakable.

Carrying “cocked and locked” is definitely the way to go in my opinion.

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What is the best home defense shotgun for women?


Hi, I will be purchasing a shotgun soon for home defense and would like to ask a few questions as to what is best for me. I am female and am looking for a lightweight shotgun since having tried a Remington 870 in the range, I was tired after just a few rounds. I have come up with 3 models after some research:

Mossberg 505 Youth #57110 20ga. 4+1 capacity, 5 1/4 lbs.

Mossberg 500 Super Bantam #54210 20ga, 5+1 cap, 5 1/4 lbs.

Remington 1100 20 gauge youth stock (Remington LT-20)

I was wondering if you’re familiar w/ these youth shotguns and if so, which one would you get? There also is a Mossberg shotgun weighing 6 1/2 lbs. I’ve heard that lighter ones have more recoil, is this true with shotguns? If so, should I go with the 6 1/2 lbs.? Again, I want a lightweight shotgun with light recoil, if such a thing exists. Thanks.


Thanks for your question. In my experience in teaching shotgun classes, many women have trouble with the considerable recoil of a 12 gauge shotgun. Sounds like your experience was consistent with this. I routinely recommend a 20 gauge shotgun for women or young teens as the recoil is considerably less.

As far as the weight is concerned, I don’t think a little over a pound difference in weight is going to be a big deal one way or the other. Some may say differently, but in my experience there is not a major difference.

The big difference in the youth model vs. the standard Mossberg 500 in 20 gauge is going to be the length of the stock, the reach to the trigger and the reach to the pump action. The youth models are engineered with a shorter reach to accommodate smaller bodies with shorter arms and fingers. If you are a person with a small build, then that might be just the ticket for you. If you have a more normal build, with a height of 5′ 7″ or taller, you might want to go with the standard model.

Here’s what you can do to determine if it fits you or not. Place the butt of the stock firmly in your shoulder, with your shooting hand holding the gun around the pistol grip area of the stock. You should be able to reach the trigger comfortably without stretching. With your non-shooting hand on the fore-end pump, your elbow should be bent at about 90 degrees. Again, you should not feel like you are reaching or stretching to hold the fore-end.

If you are using it strictly for personal defense, a 20″ or 22″ in barrel is what you should look for. If you are going to use it for defense and sporting purposes (hunting or clay target shooting) you should go with a 24″ barrel.

As far as ammo is concerned, look for reduced recoil ammunition. It is available in most gun stores or sporting outlets that cater to hunters. It will reduce the amount of felt recoil considerably. You should look for .00 buckshot (double ought buckshot). Bear in mind that if you shoot that load inside your house, it will penetrate drywall and hollow core doors easily. It will not penetrate cinder block or brick.

As far as the brand of shotgun is concerned, either the Remington or Mossberg would be a good choice. They are both high quality firearms. My personal preference is for the Mossberg as I have owned one for years and have had zero problems with it. It is also very easy to find parts and accessories for the Mossberg.

Once you purchase your gun, you should take it out and test what the pattern of the shot looks like at several distances. I would recommend that you test it a 5 yds, 10 yds, and 20 yds. Use a fresh target or piece of cardboard each time. You will need a target or a piece of cardboard at least 24″ x 36′. The purpose of patterning your shotgun is to see how much the buckshot spreads out as the distance increases. This will make it more apparent to you how critical the aiming process needs to be with your particular gun. Each shotgun is different, so that is why I recommend that you do it for your particular gun.



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Handgun Carry in Arizona between the age of 18 and 21 years of age.

May 31, 2008 Firearms Training, Legal Issues Comments Off

Question:   I am 19 years old and I’ve been thinking of purchasing a handgun from a private seller.  Of course, everything would be done legally. I understand I have the right to carry a gun, but will it get me into any problems if it is not registered?  Is there a way I can get it registered with out getting into trouble? Also any other advice would help a lot. 

Answer:  First, let me clarify Arizona and Federal laws on this subject.  In Arizona, it is perfectly legal for a person 18 years of age or old to own a handgun.  

However, Arizona will not allow anyone under the age of 21 to carry a concealed handgun.  You must be 21 years old before Arizona will issue you a concealed weapons permit.  

Federal law also requires that you be 21 years old to purchase a handgun from a Federally licensed gun dealer.

The only way that someone between the ages of 18 and 21 can legally purchase a handgun is from a private party.  In order for a private party sale to be legal, the transaction must be face-to-face between two residents of the same state.  I strongly recommend that any private party transaction include a bill of sale with the price, the model and serial number of the gun being transferred, the full name and address of the buyer and the full name and address of the seller.  I would also strongly advise that both buyer and seller check the other’s driver’s license to verify identity and age.

As an 18 year old, you can carry your handgun openly, as long as you are in a place where it is legal for you to carry a firearm.  I would recommend that you consult the Arizona DPS Concealed Weapons Permit page for information places where concealed or open carry is not permitted.  Another resource is the “Arizona Gun Owners Guide” by Alan Korwin.  You can find copies at most gun stores or online at http://www.tacticaldirect.com

In Arizona it is not necessary to register your firearm.  Federal gun dealers are required to record the transaction using ATF Form 4473.  They are also required do a background check, although this can usually be completed while the purchaser waits.

Private party transfer do not require either of these steps. 

My only other advice to you is to use extreme discretion where you carry you firearm and make it a point to understand the law regarding where you can legally carry and when you could legally use your firearm for self-defense.  Carry your gun in the wrong place or use it inappropriately and you can end up in serious legal trouble and if you’ve done something serious, you could even lose your right to own a firearm at all.

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I am moving from Ohio to Arizona. I have an Ohio permit. Will I need to get an Arizona permit once I move?

Arizona only recognizes non-resident CCW permits from out of state.  What that means is that as long as you are a resident of another state, hold a permit and id (like a Driver’s license) from that state, you can legally carry in AZ using the out of state permit.

When you become a resident of Arizona (and you have an Arizona address and driver’s license) you must get an Arizona CCW permit to carry legally in AZ.  

Unfortunately you will have to go through an Arizona CCW permit class once you move to Arizona.  The good news is that after taking the AZ CCW class, you will have a great understanding of the specific laws in Arizona, which you probably need to know if you are going to be living and carrying a firearm in AZ.

Arizona’s CCW course is 8 hours in length, requires a live-fire qualification and also requires that you pass a written test.  You will need to submit a fingerprint card and submit to a criminal background check when you apply.  The application fee is $60.

You can visit the Arizona Department of Public Safety website for more info at: http://www.azdps.gov/ccw or you can visit the APDI website for info at the following link:   http://www.armedpersonaldefense.com 

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Is there any written material that I can use to study for my CCW exam?

April 14, 2008 AZ CCW Laws, Firearms Safety, Firearms Training Comments Off

There is not an official study guide for the Arizona CCW written exam.  Most of the time, studying in advance is really not necessary.  If you have a good instructor, they will teach you everything you need to know in the class.  If you are really interested in getting more detailed information about the material covered in the CCW curriculum, there is an excellent book available called “The Arizona Gun Owner’s Guide” by Alan Korwin.  Alan is a nationally recognized authority on firearms law.  His book covers a great deal of information on the legal aspects of owning or using a firearm in Arizona.  If you are looking for Marksmanship and Gun Handling information, “The Modern Technique of the Pistol” by Gregory Morrison and Jeff Cooper is an excellent survey of the skills necessary to become an effective pistol marksman.  Jeff Cooper is internationally renowned as the “Father of the Modern Technique of the Pistol”.  The NRA Basic Pistol text is also an excellent survey of handgun skills.

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Carrying a firearm in a vehicle…

Many students are curious about the laws concerning carrying a firearm in a vehicle. Since Arizona permits “open carry” of a firearm, you can legally carry a firearm in any permitted location, as long as the firearm is in plain view.

This includes your vehicle.As long as a casual observer can see you have an unconcealed firearm, you are not violating any the law.

If you want to conceal the firearm in your vehicle, the easiest way is to get your AZ CCW permit. Then you can legally conceal your firearm in your vehicle.

If you don’t have an AZ CCW permit, your firearm can still be concealed, but it should be at least two steps removed from your immediate access. What this means is that you cannot have immediate access to the firearm.

For example, if you put your firearm in the glove box, it is only one step removed from immediate access…you can open the glove box and grab your gun. If you have your gun in a case or holster and then put it in the glove box, it is two steps removed(you have to open the glove box and remove it from the holster or case).

If you wish to conceal a firearm in your vehicle, my recommendation is to get your Arizona CCW permit…then you will not have any issues. Otherwise, you may be subject tothe court’s interpretation of whether or not you had ‘immediate access’.

Some have also asked about ways to safely have immediate access to your firearm without having to put it in the glove box, console or map pocket of your car. There are at least two holster manufacturers that I know of that sell holster systems that allow you to mount a holster in your vehicle.

Generally this is done by bolting the mount under the dashboard or in some other appropriate location. When you get into your vehicle, you can place your gun in the mounted holster giving you easier access to it.

Believe me when I say that this can be a real issue for a lot of people. Depending on where you wear your holster, you might have difficultly reaching it quickly when seated in thevehicle with your seat belt fastened. You can draw from a seated position in the car, but it is difficult and requires practice to do quickly.

Without proper training,drawing from a seated position in a vehicle can be dangerous to both yourself and other occupants of the vehicle. Holster mounts eliminate this as an issue. If you want to get more information about holster mounts youcan visit http://www.sidearmor.net or http://www.fobusholster.com

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What are some drills that I can do to become a more accurate shot?

October 25, 2007 AZ CCW Laws, Firearms Training Comments Off

This is a question I get from a lot of students…they are new shooters and want to improve their accuracy. From my perspective, the thing that can affect your accuracy the most is your ability to control the trigger. When you think about it…the only thing that moves when you shoot are the trigger and the trigger finger. If your sights are properly aligned on the target, when you pull the trigger you should theoretically hit what you are aiming at.Unfortunately, the average shooter allows a lot of extra movement to be introduced into the shooting process. Most of this extra movement comes from pulling the trigger too hard by “slapping” or “yanking” the trigger. People are in a hurry to make the gun go “bang” and sometimes that rush turns into a trigger slap or jerk. Do this and your shots will generally hit to the left and below the intended point of impact.Here are a few things you can do to get better trigger control:1. If possible, place the center of the first digit of your index finger on the face of the trigger. Too much or not enough finger on the trigger can cause your shots to be off.2. As you prepare to take your shot on the target, take up any slack in the trigger by pulling it back to the point of resistance.3. As you meet the point of resistance, slowly press the trigger straight back to the point of release. The exact point of trigger release should be a little bit of a surprise. This is called a “surprise break”. The idea here is that you are not forcing the trigger to break, just slowly pressing until it does.4. After the shot, keep the trigger compressed. Reacquire your sight picture and slowly release the trigger until it resets. You will hear an audible ‘click’ and feel the trigger reset. DON’T release the trigger any further…you don’t need to. If you do, all that means is that you have to take up all that trigger slack again which will cause excess movement and potentially ruin your shot.5. After confirming your sight picture, again slowly press the trigger, working to get another “surprise break” on the trigger and take your next shot.6. After each shot, you need to prepare to take the next shot by reacquiring your sight picture and resetting the trigger. This is called the “follow through”. You should do this after every shot.An excellent drill is to start with a full magazine of 10 rounds or more and do the following: align your sights on the target, take up the trigger slack, press the trigger slowly until you achieve the surprise break and the gun fires, reacquire your sight picture, release the trigger just until it resets and fire again. Follow the same process on each shot until the magazine is empty. I like to do this drill at least twice during a practice session. IF you practice this you will build muscle memory for reacquisition of the sight picture, a smooth trigger press and a follow through, all of which are essential to accurate pistol shots.

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How good a shot do I need to be before I carry a concealed weapon?

October 22, 2007 Defensive Tactics, Firearms Training Comments Off

I’ve received a number of questions from students regarding what they can do to improve their handgun marksmanship.  In response, I thought I would put together a series of posts that deal with the level of accuracy that you should reasonably achieve before you can realistically expect to defend yourself with a handgun and then how do you develop  that level of accuracy in your shooting.

As a starting assumption for this discussion, I will be talking about “Combat Accuracy”.  Combat accuracy is the level of accuracy that you would need in order to incapacitate your attacker should you find yourself in a lethal confrontation.  This is vastly different from the “target accuracy” one would be trying to achieve in a competition when shooting for score.

There are some significant differences in the two situations.  First, if you are engaged in lethal combat with a handgun, there is a high probability that:

1. you will be moving…

2. your adversary will be moving…

3. the distance between you and your adversary will be unknown or variable…

4. environmental conditions may be less than ideal… (darkness, rain, etc.)

5. there may be multiple adversaries…

6. there may be innocent bystanders…

7. your adversary will likely be shooting at you…

8. your ‘fight or flight’ autonomic reaction will be kicking in big time…

All of these factors will conspire to steal your shooting accuracy.  Fortunately, there are a number of things that you can do to minimize their impact.

The most important thing that you can do is practice your shooting technique.  You can do this using live fire exercises and dry fire exercises, but you MUST practice.  Skill at arms is highly perishable.  If you haven’t picked up your pistol in 6 months, how can you reasonably expect to shoot accurately?  If you haven’t received good fundamental handgun training, how do you expect to be able to shoot effectively in a gunfight?  The short answer is that you cannot expect to be accurate and effective if you do not prepare.  You will not ‘rise to the occasion’.  You will default to your lowest level of skill…

Short version, if you are a beginner or even a decent shooter that hasn’t be practicing…you will be lucky to survive and it will have very little to do with anything you did.   On the other hand, with good training and practice, you will not just survive…instead you will likely prevail against your adversary and stand a much better chance of getting out of the situation without serious injury.

In the next several posts, I will discuss what skills you should master in order to achieve true ‘combat accuracy’ with a handgun in a potentially lethal confrontation.

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Why Train with APDI?

September 12, 2007 Firearms Training Comments Off

In today’s society, an alarming percentage of criminals are resorting to violence. Armed confrontations are becoming a more common occurrence. All you need to do is read your local newspaper for evidence of that fact.

If you are concerned about safety and are planning to become or are already licensed to carry a handgun, you need proper training to be able to use your firearm in a responsible and effective manner.

APDI offers the highest level of professionalism and expertise in the latest firearms tactics and personal protection skills available. Our training is high intensity, reality based training that will expose you to skills that surpass the traditional handgun methods commonly taught and focus on the skills you need to survive an armed confrontation on the street.

One of our most popular classes is the AZ CCW course. This class prepares you for the Arizona CCW permit.

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