Winter's here, and for those of us in the north that means more time indoors. Movies and books get more attention this season, and trips to the range are fewer. Good books are never a problem, and even less range time can be turned into a feature if we substitute intelligent dry fire which, let's be honest, most of us neglect too much. Here's two books that will hold your attention, and a practice CD that was designed by one of the best.
Jelly Bryce: FBI Odyssey is the second in Mike Conti's Jelly Bryce trilogy (I reviewed the first book in that trilogy, Jelly Bryce: The Legend Begins, here.) Bryce was, of course, one of the legendary lawmen of the early and mid 20th century, a man of superhuman firearms skills who got plenty of opportunity to put those skills to use on the gangsters of the time during his career with the Oklahoma City Police Department and the FBI. Lt. (RET) Conti, the former lead firearms instructor for the Massachusetts State Police, integrates the facts of Jelly's life and career with details learned from conversations with Bryce's family, and weaves them all together into a compelling novel featuring, of course, Bryce, but also J. Edgar Hoover, as the FBI's founding and long-time Director molds the FBI into a serious gangster-busting, communist-fighting organization. Hoover brought Bryce on board because of the Bureau's need for experienced street-level cops and for his famous gunfighting ability. The book dramatizes Bryce's progress in the Bureau and many of the famous "incidents" in which he was involved. Jelly Bryce: FBI Odyssey is extremely readable and well-written. You get a current master police instructor expertly telling the story of one of his predecessors, with the ability to understand and describe things about a good man in an violent profession that someone without Conti's background could not. I loved this book because it gave me insight into the lawmen and law enforcement of an earlier time, and because it so kept my interest. Many cops that try their hand at writing fiction don't do so well at it; Conti does, and his books have appeal outside law enforcement but particularly to those of us in it. Jelly Bryce: FBI Odyssey is available on Amazon and on Conti's website.
Guns Across the Border by Mike Detty tells the story of Operation Wide Receiver, the gun running operation to Mexico concurrent with Operation Fast and Furious, both overseen by the ATF. Detty was the gun dealer at the heart of the operation, the one that the BATF used to sell guns to the cartels, the one that the BATF put in harms was many times over, and the one that the3 BATF ultimately cast aside and tried to make look bad after they discovered that he'd kept records and recordings of the transactions.
These two hare-brained operations may well have started out small and with some reasonable chance of investigative success, but they soon snowballed into a monster that no one wanted to be associated with after their exposure and after a federal agent was killed with one of the illicit guns. Detty made much of his living selling guns at Arizona gun shows; when he became aware of cartel members trying to buy guns illegally from him he notified the ATF, who encouraged him to go along with the buys. For a few years Detty did just that, working hand in glove with local ATF agents to document the people and guns involved. Detty was paid little for his efforts, much less than he would have made working his other job of writing articles for firearms and law enforcement magazines (that's why his name may be familiar to some of you, and it explains why the book is so well written). And he was the golden boy, or so he was told, until the agents of the ATF shunned him and started to blame him for the operations failures.
The story told is itself intriguing, and made more so by its telling of the inside story one of the federal government's major screw-ups -- think Watergate, only stupider and costing innocent lives. Detty did eventually tell his story, not only in this book but to major news outlets. For those of us in law enforcement this book is naturally fascinating; as citizens it is another warning to us that government bureaucracies can go dangerously stupid and no one involved notices. Guns Across the Border is available on Amazon.
Pistol Practice Program is the latest training DVD by Claude Werner. Werner is the former lead instructor for the world-famous Rogers Shooting School, one of, if not the most, elite shooting schools on the planet. He is a former Army officer, a master-level competitor, and has an extensive background in private-sector data analysis. This all adds up to one very thoughtful, analytical shooting instructor, one that has taught thousands of shooters to improve -- from beginners to the kinds of people that visit the Rogers School. Claude emphasizes a proven, fundamentals first, one-step-at-a-time approach to shooting skill development. This is the way you get better.
From Werner's website: "The Pistol Practice Program was created to fill a need for many gun owners. Most gun owners are self-taught and generally are not familiar with a structured approach to skill development. There is a great deal of information available now on how to shoot a pistol. However, there is much less information available on how to practice firearms skills over a period of time to achieve greater confidence and proficiency...The PPP is available on CD; its contents are mobile device friendly so you can copy the drills to your smart phone or tablet. You can also put the dry fire audio sessions on your device for maximum convenience."
Structured dry fire can be done anywhere. I remember Bruce Gray, a top-level competitor, once telling us that he'd fired well over a million rounds over the years...and with the benefit of hindsight he now wishes that he'd done 80% of that practice dry fire instead of live fire. So yeah, dry fire is important. For the mere $19.95 that this CD costs you can add expert-level coaching to your zero-cost dry fire practice. It will probably be or more benefit than those range sessions that you're missing. Pistol Practice Program is available here.