It’s that time of year again: Time to reflect on the activities of the past year so that we can celebrate the successes and learn from the missteps. It is also time to finalize and launch plans to be successful in the coming calendar year. For me as the Managing Editor of Personal Defense Network, an important part of the process is running the numbers on what content has been the most popular over the last year and thinking about what might have made it so. In our continuing effort to bring the defensive training community the best information we can, we need to understand what you are most interested in and what topics you think are the most important. It is also essential for me to see which articles and videos aren’t as popular, though that doesn’t necessarily mean they are not important. When running an educational website (as opposed to an entertainment one), the mission sometimes needs to be focused on creating popularity, not responding to it.
The Internet is full of great information from a lot of sources … but it is also full of people trying to give people what they want without regard to what they may need. When that is done in the name of entertaining, I’m all for it. I’ve posted my fair share of content on the Internet simply to get a laugh. When it comes to education, often the challenge is getting people to pay attention to the right things.
This “Best of 2013” collection of videos and articles is more than just a reward for a popularity contest … it represents some of the most important information that we put out this year, as determined by the staff and you, our audience. Of the 10 selections, only seven were in the “Most Popular” group. There are a variety of reasons why an article may not have had a huge number of hits and yet still earned its place on the list, not the least of which is simply that the article may have been released later in the year or the video may have been posted during a very busy time.
Similarly, some content may touch on a topic that strikes a nerve in the community for a brief time, but isn’t actually very important in the big picture of personal defense training. With all that said, here are the Five Best Articles and Five Best Videos of 2013. Take a look, share them with your friends, and let us know what you think about them. If you have a favorite from 2013 that didn’t make the list, let us know that too. One of the great things about social media is that you can all post your own “Best of 2013” lists as well!
Early in 2013, most of the community was thinking about spree attacks in public spaces, and many people in our country were thinking about the issues of personal and family defense for the first time. Mike Seeklander penned a great article aimed primarily at the latter audience, but with some useful information for those of us who had already chosen to take responsibility for our own protection. Especially in regard to how to interact with family members before and during an event, this article is definitely a must read.
All the gear and related skills in the world are useless if you don’t have your gear when you actually need it. Unlike a S.W.A.T. team member on a raid (or you in your favorite tacticool range selfie), you generally aren’t wearing all your gear in its optimal configuration with plenty of spares while lounging around the house, much less when you’re sleeping. Lee Vernon covered the topic of how to stage your gear (and what gear to stage) for efficient response when you’re not all “kitted up” for a day of training.
Last year, I had the pleasure of being invited to speak at the Georgia Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors Conference. After my turn on stage, I heard Rich Nable speak about designing training to help people avoid errors during defensive shootings. I was so impressed with Rich’s work and articulation of concepts that I immediately invited him to become a contributor to PDN. Thankfully, he accepted the invite and wrote a few articles for us in 2013. This article, covering the core of his presentation at the conference, is definitely one of the intellectually heavier articles that we’ve published, but the topic is incredibly important and I was very pleased to see that it made the “most popular” list as well. That speaks a great deal to the quality of the PDN audience and their willingness to think about more than just the latest piece of gear or their best time on a cool range drill. Conceptually, understanding how people make mistakes is the first step in understanding how to help them avoid them. This article will help you move your training in the right direction (especially if you teach!).
Personal Defense Network has always strived to look beyond the “headliners” of the industry for quality contributions, and we’ve often stressed the need to question the status quo when it comes to gear and training principles. This article by Ian Strimbeck helps us meet both of those goals. Ian, a combat veteran U.S. Marine, is a part-time instructor who has been active for a few years and is currently building his own company. I have watched his concepts of training issues develop, and this article does a great job of explaining why evolution, and even simply being open to the idea of evolution, are so important to our community.
Chris Fry has been a solid contributor to PDN (both video and articles) for a few years. His thoughtful and detailed approach to personal defense training makes him stand out in the industry. Chris is known for in-depth consideration of just about any idea and sharing things that make sense to him with a complete explanation of why they make sense to him. This article on off-centerline carry for personal defense tools is a perfect example of his ability to take a concept, explain its virtues, and break down the details in a way that any reader can appreciate. Chris is always one to avoid dogma and this article reflects his understanding that what works for him may not work for all his students. I believe carrying in front of your body is a superior option for the placement of defensive tools. Take a look at what Chris has to say about it.
There is no getting away from the political nature of the firearms discussion this year. I take it for granted that no one in the PDN audience needs to be convinced that the capacity of a defensive firearm shouldn’t be limited by legislation. Of course, much of PDN’s content is available to anyone with Internet access and we rank pretty high in the search engines, so putting out information that we know will be accessed by the general public is important to our educational mission. It was also apparent this year that many who are passionate about the Right to Keep and Bear Arms aren’t well-versed in the art of explaining our passion to those who are in the middle ground on the topic of firearms (i.e., most of America). Stomping up and down and referencing the U.S. Constitution (a living document that has been amended and changed many times in the last 200 years) don’t cut it when you’re speaking to an audience outside of your local gun shop or pro-gun discussion forum. This video approaches the question of “high-capacity magazines” from a logical standpoint that should make sense to anyone interested in getting beyond the emotions surrounding firearms discussions in our country.
This is one of those topics that just won’t go away. I kinda wish this wasn’t one of the most popular videos of the year! I believe strongly that if you are ready to carry a firearm for personal defense and you are using appropriate gear, there should be no reason to carry that gun without a round in the chamber. As long as people are still considering it, we’ll keep explaining why it’s a bad idea.
Open carry is a hot topic in the firearms community right now, and my position on it has been well established over the past few years. I am 100% in favor of open carry being legal, but generally think it is a poor choice for those carrying for personal defense. This video explains the details of how carrying openly or choosing to conceal your firearm impacts your personal safety and addresses ways that those who are interested in promoting responsible firearms use in their communities can do so without increasing their chance of confrontation or risk of having their gun taken from them. Lastly, I cover how to appropriately open carry when legalities or other circumstances make it a good choice.
Of all the PDN Training Tour Updates, this is the one that really stood out to me as a perfect representation of just what the Tour and PDN are all about. This one video, shot mostly “on the fly” at locations along the tour, addresses instructor development, various aspects of defensive training, instructors from around the country, and the development of training communities. I am joined by four contributing instructors to cover these important topics. While the audio and video quality of the Tour Updates aren’t up to the normal level of PDN content, the ability to provide weekly insight from various locations, instructors, manufacturers, and students that the series provides far outweighs the occasional wind noise or blurry video. The PDN Training Tour is a huge project that brings live training from our contributor team to dozens of locations around the country. You never know what you’ll find in a Tour Update!
This video clip featuring Craig Douglas shares an important principle, but it also reinforces the need to think critically about what we say and why we do the things we do with our defensive firearms. Craig’s evolution of the primary safety rule about trigger finger position may seem like a small thing, but it is the result of a critical thinking process that should not be undervalued. I have integrated Craig’s terminology into my own teaching and have long valued the importance of looking past dogma to find the next best way to train.