Column: This five-button shirt is deadly
"Let's go shooting," Chuck Horton of Horton's Gym messaged me last fall, adding, with a boxing promoter's flair for self-promotion: "You should do a story on the greatest pistol shot of the Northland."...
"Let's go shooting," Chuck Horton of Horton's Gym messaged me last fall, adding, with a boxing promoter's flair for self-promotion: "You should do a story on the greatest pistol shot of the Northland."
After participating last week in the Duluth Police Department's interactive video training on the use of deadly force -- in which it was clear my aim needed work -- now was a good time to take up his offer.
The rear entrance to Horton's Gym on East First Street is straight out of Mission Impossible, the place where Mr. Phelps finds the tape recorder. But it's not a shooting range.
"For every live round, you should have fired at least a hundred in dry fires. You're going to want to use a snap cap," Horton says.
That means learning to deal with live ammo and recoil later, he says, unveiling a Smith and Wesson snub nose .38 with a crimson trace sight and removing its hollow-tipped bullets. "We will work on presentation of the revolver and drawing in a state of distress."
First, holding it: right hand on grip and trigger, left hand steadying with thumb curled around the right. Shoot. Pretty good. Now the stance: knees bent slightly, control your center of gravity -- Which I don't, as he pushes me over with barely a tap. Once more. Better. Now approach the target and keep shooting.
"It's called the five-button shirt," he says. "Shoot in the pelvic girdle, zip them right up the chest, and put two in the forehead."
If it isn't obvious by now, the lesson is how to kill a human being, not to fire a warning shot or injure someone. It's consistent with a mantra passed down from my father from his service during World War II: Never point a gun at anyone unless you mean to kill them, and if you point a gun at someone, mean to kill them.
"Your father was right," says Horton, who also learned his techniques in the military, in the first Gulf War. "This is from someone who's been in a gunfight. This is not something I read in a book or saw on Gunsmoke. This is what worked, this is what didn't."
And none of it will work if you can't get the weapon out of your pocket, which starts the lesson over again as he plays an assailant lunging at me before I can get a shot off.
No need to use those boxing moves, Chuck. I get the point.
Again, I get better -- in this case learning to invert the approach to fire while backing away, widening the distance so he never reaches me. It's moonwalking, really, because you want to stay steady and don't want to turn around.
But each situation demands immediate, and constant, decision-making.
"It's the OODALOOP," he says: "Observe, orientate, decide and act, then do it again."
We schedule a time next week to use real bullets at a range. His total training, however, is more than guns.
"You use your voice: 'Get back!' If they don't, OODALOOP again. We give you options how to use hand-to-hand combat, self-defense combat that will stun your opponent," something he demonstrates with a palm thrust to the forehead that can basically break a neck.
I get it, Chuck. I get it.
Next week: Using all options.
Robin Washington is editor of the News Tribune. He may be reached at email@example.com .