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I knew a cute girl in high school named Emily Pincus. In this case, we have Washington Times journo Emily Miller reporting on armed self-defense lessons with TTAG contributor and gun guru Rob Pincus. Clearly, Ms. Miller is nervously inching her way up the steep slope that lies at the beginning of the armed self-defense learning curve, trying to assimilate various movements into a seamless whole. For his part, Mr. Pincus knows more about defensive gun use than South African model Jessica Leandra Dos Santos knows about race relations (way more). But I still want to point out that gun training requires complete focus from start to finish. In this video Ms. Miller treats live fire as a one-two-three-ok-I’m-done-now-I-can-stop-deal. Nope. As Lenny Kravitz would say, it ain’t over ’til it’s over. And it ain’t over until the trainer says it’s over. And maybe not even then.

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  1. Leave her alone, RF.

    Sure we all can talk the talk about tactics & carry now, but go back far enough and all of us high speed low drag internet folk were once quivering morons who reloaded with clips and thought handguns were death rays. At least Emily Miller understands that she needs instruction , a quality sorely lacking in the typical range client at the local indoor range.

  2. And good on her for climbing the steep learning curve in such a hostile area. She’s already miles ahead of many Chairborne Rangers who consider themselves God’s Gift To Guns.

  3. I fail to understand why TTAG is so hard on the one female columnist in DC that stands up for gun rights, including actually getting a gun in the city and documenting the process. She’s exactly the demographic which needs firearm protection.

    You should be offering her air time here.

  4. Her draw looks safer than most of the “old pros” I see I real life or on this here series of tubes we call the internet. Smooth is fast, said Bill Jordan. So you practice smooth like she is. Unless my audio is delayed she looks to be anticipating recoil, but give her a break, she’s already way ahead of the curve given the short duration of her gun life.

  5. That gun sure was jumping around in her hands. Lotsa muzzle flip. Practice, practice, practice!

    Boy, girl, black, white, or green, more people shooting is a good thing.

    …unless they’re trying to buy my AR parts that are months out. Those people can just friggin’ stop, right now. Go take up knitting or something, FFS.

    • Yep… she did MUCH better with an M&P… unfortunately, she listened to some “experts” and went with a Sig that didn’t fit her at all. She was a victim of both the propensity of gun enthusiasts (who really have little experience getting people into guns that work well for them) to think they are instructors and push their likes on newbies AND the ridiculous process of trying to get a gun “imported” to DC. She ends up paying an extra $500(ish) dollars for an over-engineered already-expensive gun that doesn’t fit her. As a bonus, she spent countless hours dealing with the administrative BS…. and I can’t really blame her for not wanting to go through it all again to get a modern striker fired gun that actually fits here and would significantly increase her capability. Instead, she’ll have to train harder and work from a deficit.


      • Hey Rob, speaking of modern striker pistols, what do you think of the PPQ. I can’t get the trigger out of my mind after shooting one recently.

        • I REALLY want to get a couple for T&E, but haven’t gotten around to it. Until I test them and see them in the hands of several different students, I refrain from endorsing/denouncing.


      • I’m a Sig and 1911 fanboy. My EDC is usually a P229, like what Emily owns. That said, I agree with what Rob said about how she selected her gun. Every person I’ve introduced to handguns I take to the local indoor range and hand them a variety of rentals and let them test drive. For most novices I push for striker fired or DAO pistols due to their simplicity.

      • Rob, I also noticed that she did much better with the M&P. I live in the St. Louis area (Missouri side) and was wondering how often you do training at Olin, and the cost?

  6. This is an unfairly harsh post for someone who is learning. Wonder what you would say to all my students. At least she is getting training.

  7. Give her a break man. Whether she has a Sig or a Glock isn’t revelant. I say stick with the Sig and train hard. It’s a hell of a gun.

  8. I’m not seeing the problem here. We were all noobs in the beginning. Points to Ms. Miller for getting professional instruction.

  9. I just read something INCREDIBLY disturbing in that article.

    Pincus tells his students to DISREGARD their sights!? WTF! Point shooting is an acquired skill after THOUSANDS of rounds put down range and after just as many holster draws and weapon presentation drills. PLEASE tell me that statement was taken out of context!

    I don’t give a f*ck about what distance gun fights statistically take place at, if you don’t get good at the basics, how the hell do you expect to move right into advance marksmanship? Tell a beginner he doesn’t have to look at their sights, and they lose EVERY other fundamental. The best I’ve ever heard marksmanship described: Manipulation of the trigger without disturbing your SIGHT PICTURE! If they don’t have to worry about their sight picture, how the hell are they going to concentrate on their trigger pull?

    Pinucs, explain yourself!

    • You should read Shooting to Live by W.E. Fairbairn and E.A. Sykes. It was written in the 40’s or 50’s about the author’s experience in Shanghai in the 30’s. You can download it for free as a military manual. In it they discuss Instinctive Aiming, the principal by which you automatically aim your weapon at the target.

      According to the authors, ” It can be done and it is not so very difficult. Everyone is familiar with the fact that he can point his forefinger accurately at an object at which he happens to be looking. It is just as easy, more-over to do so without raising the hand so high as the level of the eye. That he can do so may be co-ordination of eye and hand or just plain instinct, call it what you will.”

      That instinct has technical name, kinesthesia: the ability of man and animals to perceive and evaluate change in the relative positions and in the movements of the parts of the body. Point shooting at close distance doesn’t require years of training and faster ans just as effective as the traditional sight method. I mean if it’s good enough for the Marines, then you know the rest.

  10. Hats off to Miss Miller. She’s playing for the right team, using the right playbook. As a reader, writer and 2A guy, I’m a huge fan of her work.

    That doesn’t alter my perspective as a trainer.

    Obviously, I’m not on Mr. Pincus’ level. Not even close. But my goal with a newb: get them to a mental space where their entire mind is devoted entirely to what they’re doing, to the complete and total exclusion of everything else.

    They need to concentrate from the moment BEFORE a drill begins (as Emily does here) to the moment AFTER the drill is complete. If something goes wrong in the middle (i.e. they make a mistake) they must carry on.

    If they break focus during the drill, the drill may be too complicated for their skill set. Walk it back, break it down, slow it down, start again.

    I’m sure that’s what happened here after the video stops. I’m also sure that Emily Miller understands my point, accepts it as good advice and recognizes the importance of focus in her development as a shooter.

    Well, I’m not sure. But I hope so. And I hope TTAG’s Armed Intelligentsia read this post in the spirit in which it was intended. This is, after all, a matter of life and death.

    • Amid the chaos and noise of the first stressful days of Air Force Basic Training, my flight never noticed the camera guys scurrying around the squadron through the bedlam. 8.5 weeks later on graduation night our MTI played the video of our first night , and it was shocking just how far our group had come in 2 months and change.After much pain, sweat,push ups, and drill we couldn’t even fathom that the undisciplined mob on the TV is how we started. Half the room cringed when the tape cut to our very first march, if you can call it that.

      It is human nature to begin thinking you’re hot sh-t after years of practice and training, but everyone starts out as just plain old sh-t in the beginning. As such, I refrain from nitpicking the newcomers among us. When I get the urge, I play that memory of BMT graduation as a gut check against hubris.

    • From the short clip your destroying, she looks devoted, focused and intent on accomplishing the goals set out by her instructor. This quarterbacking an internet clip based on limited experience and practical expertise is ridiculous. She stopped mid-string to comment on her performance and her instructor reminded her to get back into it and reload. Your nitpicking reminds of dozens of first time shooters and Tac guys I have met over the years that go shooting once, love it and then crawl over the internet for the next month and come back to range doing their best impersonation of a seasoned range officer.

      Taking time to criticize a beginner on a step in the process that takes years and experience to master effectively despite all of the other things she is doing well is almost sickening. You seem more like an internet troll, than an experienced shooter and trainer by commenting on the video in this way. I feel like I could take the criticism more seriously if you would have just typed NEWB! into the comment section on youtube.

      BTRW aren’t you still a little wet behind the ears to be giving out this kind of criticism RF? You’ve been into guns what 5 years tops? I shave seen you make almost this exact mistake in one of your training videos with your SCAR?

  11. I wish SO desperately that I had taken video of my very first training class @ KR. I’m still shocked at how much I learned in only a few hours of training. It would be so nice to see video of how terrible things were at the start.


    You have a long road ahead, but you are taking the right steps along that road. You will not regret the decision to pursue formal training. No matter how frustrating, keep it up and practice whenever/wherever you can.

  12. “****Illinois is the only state in the country that denies all rights to carry arms. When I arrived there this week, however, I felt like I was free compared to the District.****”

    Jesus H Christ. If Illinois seems like the Breath of Freedom, something’s gone horribly wrong. Will someone get this woman a plane ticket to America? She deserves asylum!

  13. Wow Farago,

    you got a whole post out of one 12second video of Emily Miller shooting a handful of shots. Have you considered paying her royalties?

    What I see is her practicing safe gun-handling and hitting the target.

  14. I’m doing the best I can to be a better shooter. As I wrote in my story, I shot a gun for the first time nine months ago and bought my gun six month ago. I have never taken a training course before, so I went from zero to fifty under Rob Pincus’s awesome teaching. There are no shooting ranges in D.C. so even doing that is a haul out to Virginia, but I go as much as I can. That said, without a trainer like Rob to show me that I need to be dynamic and point out what I’m doing wrong, I don’t think hitting paper in a shooting range helps me progress all that much to handling a real-life situation in my home. I really appreciate all the commenters who defended me on this page. I’ve gotten the laws changed in D.C. this year to make it somewhat easier for people to get a gun, but we still have to go through 11 steps to register a new gun and then cannot take it outside the home. If you want to read more about the 17 steps, $435 in fees and four months it took to register my Sig, start reading the series at this link:

  15. Since Emily is in my area, I will gladly meet her at the NRA Range in Fairfax, VA and teach her how to manage the SIG trigger. My first pistol was a SIG P-Series and I had similar problems.

  16. Emily Miller has done tremendous service to women interested in carrying. And I don’t think any of her articles ever started with “I knew a cute girl…”


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