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MDTS is a New York based firearms training and personal protection consulting company. We specialize in pistol, concealed carry, shotgun, carbine, defensive knife, less lethal, physical defense and threat awareness training courses. Mobile training courses are available in N.Y. and abroad. Contact us to host a training course at your range or location. Click logo below to see schedule of classes near you.

Posts Tagged ‘shotgun’

Defensive Shotgun Considerations

Posted on: September 5th, 2016 by admin No Comments

A few considerations regarding defensive shotgun ammunition management, patterning and multiple projectiles.



Defensive Shotgun Considerations

Ammunition management is an essential skill. Pick a couple of practical loading techniques that work for you on the move, in the dark and in a variety of positions and drill them extensively. This video is from our combative application & individual patterning drill using Federal Flight Control 00 Buck. Note the pattern on the target at 7 plus yards with head shots. We had four shooters running this load in this class with different shotguns. All demonstrated almost identical patterns. I recommend Federal Flight Control double aught and #1 buckshot loads for defensive applications.

Sight management and good shooting fundamentals are as essential with the shotgun as with any other firearm. It is not just a “point & shoot” gun despite what some will tell you.

Remember, multiple projectiles are discharged with each trigger press. Note the shell cup in the accompanying pic lodged into the 1/4in plywood backer. Can that cause serious injury? You are a responsible for all of the projectiles you send down range. Know how your shotgun patterns with each ammunition type and brand you have on hand at varied distances.

Measure maximum visual distance in your home such as down a hallway or across a living room. Pattern each shotgun with each ammunition out to that distance.


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Optimizing the Defensive Shotgun

Posted on: April 19th, 2014 by admin 4 Comments

Optimizing the Defensive Shotgun


The shotgun is a formidable, relatively cheap and extremely effective home defense firearm if set up properly and the end-user understands the platforms positive and negative attributes. Shotguns are extremely common however not all shotguns are optimal for home defense. Any gun is better than no gun but there are a few recommended modifications that can make your shotgun truly home defense ready. A basic formula to consider when setting up a home defense shotgun is Sights, Lights, Stocks and Sling plus a few highly effective accessories that when combined with the right ammunition creates a devastating package.

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XS Big Dot Sight with Tritium Insert. Easy to see and easy to install.


Sights on the Shotgun

What is the context in which you will be using it? Will it be multi-purpose i.e. hunting and home protection? If so, then you may want to consider ghost ring sights or possibly a small red dot rail mounted optic. If it is going to be a dedicated home protection firearm then you can get away with a bead sight however we suggest something like the XS Big Dot Sight. As a home or property defense tool what distances do you anticipate engaging an adversary at, three yards, five yards or fifty?


Ghost ring sights or some type of rail mounted optic provide optimal accuracy, especially at distance. But, take a moment and consider what the greatest distance inside your house is? Do you need one of these more advanced sighting options? Remember, one of the most attractive attributes of the shotgun is its affordability. Start adding certain sighting systems and optics and the price rapidly goes up. With that being said if it’s in your financial wheel house I’d recommend one of these options simply because 1) Better sights mean better sight management which should mean more accurate shot placement. 2) Red dot optics allow the end user to keep both eyes open and on the target.



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Surefire Dedicated Forend


A Light on the Shotgun

As an armed civilian it’s our obligation to properly identify any and all targets prior to utilizing lethal force. This makes some type of weapon mounted light a very good idea or even essential. Many of the aftermarket “rail” systems that attach to the for-end or via barrel clamp have proven less than robust during training courses. That doesn’t mean they won’t work however I like something that is more dependable and robust. The shotgun is very violent so consider something more dedicated if budget allows such as a Dedicated For-end Light. They are expensive but worth the investment if you are going to run the gun a lot or depend upon it to protect you or your family.




Two Remington 870 Shotguns with Magpul SGA adjustable stocks set up for two different sized individuals. Top with only 1 spacer and bottom with 2 spacers for a taller individual.


Shotgun Stocks

Generally speaking most shotguns come from the factory with between a 13-14in length of pull. That is a measurement from the face of the trigger to the center of the butt stock. My Remington 870 arrived from the factory with a 13.5in LOP. The length of pull is important when setting up the defensive shotgun because the longer the stock the more tendency for the shooter to place the butt of the stock out further on the shoulder joint vs. placing the stock further inward against the pectoral muscle. The more body mass we can put behind the shotgun the greater our ability to mitigate felt recoil especially when combined with proper shooting methodologies. What I have consistently seen is that students in classes can get away with a longer stock for a few shots but as they fatigue and their body works to find the most comfortable and efficient shooting position to conserve energy they start to mount or place the stock farther out on the front deltoid muscle and shoulder joint. This causes discomfort and sometimes bruising over repeated or extended shooting evolutions. An excellent adjustable shotgun stock is the Magpul SGA Stock with its spacer system allowing end-user length of pull adjustment. Another viable option is the Speedfeed Shorty Stock from Wilson Combat.



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The sling can serve administrative, combat and emergency purposes on the shotgun.


Slings on the Shotgun

This is really user preference. I do not advocate a sling for fighting but for administrative functions such as freeing up the hands in order to perform a task such as climbing or dragging an injured family member/partner out of danger or reloading a secondary firearm.

Generally speaking, slings are for: 1) Safe carry of the firearm; around the range or in the woods etc. 2) Prolonged readiness with the firearm; standing ready like guard post; picture hurricane Katrina and having to stand and protect property and 3) Provide the user an option to free up the hands; to perform a task or transition to a second firearm. Before thinking about retention, I will humbly submit that the sling does not retain the long-gun; it attaches the long gun to your body, you retain the long-gun. You can be knocked out by an aggressor in a struggle and then they will take the gun once you’re unconscious. The ability to fight outweighs the false sense of security provided by believing this piece of gear retains the gun. Learn to fight with and without the firearm and with and without the sling and this concept is better understood.

The sling attaches the gun to the body. If working in a team or partner environment with multiple assaulters/team members then that may help retain the long gun momentarily until a team member can help. But for those of us who work solo or do not have the luxury of help or back up a sling greatly inhibits the ability to move and fight in close quarters like a house hallway or room. Is a sling needed to shoot effectively at those distances if we are solely speaking about personal protection in the home? As my friend Chad Lyman, veteran LEO, MMA Trainer and BJJ Black Belt likes to say: “I am my own backup”. It is highly unlikely I will ever have backup outside of another family member within my home. As a citizen I do not have the luxury of “back up”, it’s just me.

Finally, slings are context driven. Is this shotgun for home defense or simply for hunting or shooting in the local trap league? Are you a civilian, law enforcement officer or military serviceman? Each job/mission profile can affect your choice of sling. For example, if you are law enforcement and this is a cruiser gun then a single point you can easily loop over your head and go is nice, likewise for a home defense firearm. If you are military and may be standing post for a prolonged period of time or patrolling then a two point that facilitates walking and traveling or a three point which facilitates comfortable stationary readiness is recommended. A simple yet dependable two point such as the excellent VTAC sling from Viking Tactics serves multiple purposes or a single point sling such as the Wilderness Single Point Sling will often do the job for those of us concerned with protecting the home.



Additional Shotgun Accessories


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Having ammunition on the shotgun ready to go is a practical home defense consideration.


Side Saddle

Ammunition management is king with the shotgun so an on-board ammo supply is very nice to have, especially if this is a “grab and go” gun, IF you can handle the extra weight. There are a number of good 1-2 round magazine tube extensions available or a Receiver Mount Side Saddle is an excellent add on to the home defense shotgun allowing anywhere from 4-6 additional rounds to be carried without need of a pouch or bag. Some of the newer competition models are Velcro hook and loop panels with elastic straps allowing the user to simply rip the empty or expended panel off the side of the receiver and replace it with a fully loaded panel.




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Vang Comp Jumbo Safety


Jumbo Safety

The Wilson Combat or Vang Comp Systems jumbo safeties provide a larger and more tactile surface area to contact when disengaging the safety, especially when under duress.



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Wilson Combat Hi-Vis/Tactile Follower


Hi-Vis/Tactile Follower

A Hi-Visibility Follower provides you with readily available visual and tactile confirmation of the status of your shotgun. Most standard factory followers are flat just like the base of a shotgun shell. If it is dark and visibility is limited you won’t see any bright colors and it will feel smooth to the touch. So, a follower with a nipple such as this one you can differentiate a shell from an empty magazine tube.




Ammunition selection is not one size fits all. It requires careful consideration of where you live, who you live with and an understanding of your current shotgun shooting abilities.



Ammunition selection for personal defense could entail another whole article. For the purposes of this article my recommendation is 00Buckshot, #4Buckshot or #1Buckshot for home defense. Which one you choose depends on several factors to include: where you live; do you live in an apartment in a city? Who you live with; do you have young children or frequent house guests? How your home is set up; where is your child’s bedrooms in relation to your own?  Federals “Flight Control” line of buckshot has consistently out performed other brands in classes for several years providing excellent patterning out to 30+ yards depending upon the shotgun, how it is set up and the abilities of the end-user. Recently I had the opportunity to shoot some #1Buck Flight Control from Federal. #1Buck is the smallest diameter shot that consistently penetrates the required 12″inches for effective man-stopping results; composed of 15, 0.28 diameter pellets it is less likely to over-penetrate than 00Buckshot. Another option I recently had a chance to observe was the Hornady Critical Defense 00Buckshot which also performed quite well at distance.


Final Considerations

Keeping the shotgun fed with ammunition and the manipulations to do so are the most difficult shotgun skills, so get good them. Practice live fire at the range as often as you can. Also consider practicing at home with some dummy training rounds. BEWARE: Make sure you have visually and physically verified the gun is safe and clear and that NO LIVE AMMUNITION IS IN THE SAME ROOM AS THE FIREARM that you will be practicing with. Shotguns are a versatile, affordable, powerful, relatively simple to learn yet difficult to master firearm. A home defense situation will be stressful enough so stack the deck in your favor by taking control of mindset, get training and optimizing gear. Optimize your defensive shotgun to best help you when you may need it most.

Shotgun Ammo for Home Defense: Part 1

Shotgun Patterning Considerations

Shotgun Ammo for Home Defense: Part 2


Recommended Vendors:

NEShooters Summit 2014

Posted on: March 14th, 2014 by admin No Comments

This will be five years that I have taught at the NEShooters summit in Pelham, NH. Training conferences like these are an excellent opportunity to sample and attend training on a number of personal protection and shooting oriented topics with some great instructors with varied backgrounds from all over the U.S. It is also a great way to connect with like-minded people while getting some excellent training. Come join us this year.

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Click on image for more details and registration information.



Speed & Trigger Dev Drill

Posted on: December 2nd, 2013 by admin No Comments



This drill and target are an adaptation of Ron Avery’s Trigger Bar Target drill. I first saw this drill in early 2000 and it helped me diagnose and improve on some trigger management issues I was having and improve my speed.


We use this target to help:

1) Develop a shooters speed via the use of tempo

2) Monitor and diagnose trigger management issues

3) Monitor and diagnose grip management issues


This drill requires 15 rounds total and begins at 3 yards.

The shooter fires five round on each vertical bar beginning with the bar on the left. The first five rounds are shot at a tempo of approximately 1 round per second. The goal for each set of five rounds fired is to keep all five rounds in a tight group in the middle of the first vertical bar. The next five rounds are shot at a slightly faster tempo, one round per every half second. The final five rounds are shot at an accelerated tempo of one round per every 1/4 second. You will notice each group becomes a little bigger than the last as shot tempo is increased. Do your best to keep all rounds in the vertical bar.

The shooters tempo can be dictated by a partner counting out loud. For example, for the first bar the count would be one-one-thousand, two-one-thousand, three-one-thousand and so on. Break the shot on the number. So, following a tempo of one-one-thousand, the shooter will shoot when they hear ONE, pause during the one-thousand and fire again on TWO, pause during the one-thousand, etc.. This takes approximately 1 second to say. Eventually, the shooter should be counting the tempo to themselves. Download the PDF (see link below) print it out and take it to the range. Directions for the other tempo’s are listed on the target.

Black Friday 10% Off

Posted on: November 29th, 2013 by admin No Comments

Use coupon code BF2013 at checkout to get 10% off all scheduled training classes or gift certificates from the MDTShop! One day only.

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Multidisciplinary Proficiency

Posted on: November 8th, 2013 by admin No Comments


MDTS advocates a multi-disciplinary approach to training; we do not have to be an expert at one single skill, but strive to be proficient at certain core personal protection skill sets. The defensive arts for a well rounded practitioner, CCW holder, officer or infantryman comprise numerous disciplines and sub disciplines. How does one maintain proficiency in each discipline while living a normal life filled with family, job, obligations and limited resources? Is proficiency in each discipline important or is just “having a gun” good enough?


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The Problem
We will rarely have the luxury of knowing what type of combative encounter we may face. If I knew I was going to be in a gunfight I could plan accordingly or avoid the situation altogether. Herein lies the crux of the matter; having the skill sets necessary to deal with a wide variety of situations. Simply having a black belt or possessing a CCW does not prepare you for what you may encounter. One must have variable force options and skill sets to deal with dynamic, changing combative environments. “Specializing” in today’s world could spell disaster.


Essential Solutions
Proficiency in 5 core disciplines and their sub-disciplines should be acquired and maintained. Consider these disciplines and how they may apply to you:


1) Threat Recognition & Management Skills – TRMS encompasses verbal and physical challenge, diffusion and avoidance skills. This is probably one of the least taught but most utilized and important of all the disciplines. More time is spent talking to known and unknown contacts in our environment than we spend fighting them. This is the most relevant skill in our personal defense profile; on a daily basis this skill set is/will be used more frequently than any other.


2) General Physical Preparedness (GPP) – Second on this list simply because possessing the ability to run away from a potential encounter (or endure a prolonged encounter) should be a major tactical consideration. Without a base level of GPP your ability to utilize the skill sets outlined below with the exception of firearms (and that can be argued depending upon range of the encounter) will be severely limited. Some could argue that GPP should be #1 simply because it leads to better health.


3) Physical Defense Skills – Possessing the ability to defend oneself unarmed should take precedence over weapon/tool skills. Without unarmed physical defensive skills and the ability to counter sudden spontaneous attacks, the tools we do possess could be quickly nullified. Physical defense skills are often the easiest to find and yet this disciple is overlooked or ignored. This type of training also tends to be much more affordable than other disciplines.


Essential Physical Defense Sub-disciplines include:

a. In-Fight-Weapon-Access
b. DefenseAgainstArmedAssailants
c. Grappling/Ground Defense


4) Edged/Improvised Weapons Skills – Edged/Improvised Weapons are prevalent, easy to acquire and can be carried in more places than a firearm. They can provide a potential force multiplying option for carry in non-permissive environments (NPE). This is a core discipline due to the affordability of quality edged weapons, ease of concealment/every day carry and the relatively short amount of time it takes to acquire basic defensive proficiency

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5) Firearms (CCW) – Firearms come last in the hierarchy simply because there are non-permissive environments that firearms cannot be carried in or through. A large number of employers  are  NPE’s with more becoming so every day.



Please note: This is just an example of my personal training hierarchy. The disciplines I feel are essential and the order in which I determine how much of my limited training time is dedicated to each. This hierarchy may be different for you.



Proficiency or Empowerment
How do we acquire and then maintain proficiency in each of the outlined disciplines? What do you consider proficient? What standards do you hold yourself to? Is training done in an effort to succeed and overcome the strictest of tests and standards or to just slide by because you don’t enjoy training that particular skill as much as another. Do you focus on making training empowering by feeling good about what you have done during a class or training session or is your focus on challenging yourself and attempting to overcome previously set goals; sometimes failing? Step back from your current training regimen and consider where you’re at and how you determine which discipline gets the most attention, training time and duration? Developing a training hierarchy is a highly individual process; setting goals and following performance standards should go hand in hand with the development of a personal training hierarchy.



To quote veteran Law Enforcement Officer, MMA Fighter & Trainer Paul Sharp:

“Skills degrade under pressure. Train to the highest possible standard; put yourself under pressure constantly and consistently. The rest will work itself out as part of the evolutionary process.”



Performance Standards and Self Evaluation
Establishing performance standards for a specific discipline should not be a random process or left to the “instructor” to determine if we are good enough. Your instructor won’t be there to help you during a combative encounter. Each of the various disciplines in a personal hierarchy should follow some type of self evaluation process. A base level of proficiency needs to be demonstrated before shelving that skill set to place greater focus on another or seek training in a new discipline outside our core. Each core skill set must be trained under fixed conditions and then move into more complex multi-task, multi-variant combative simulations or conditions. For this article the standards I provide below are “generic”. Adhere to some type of self evaluation on a consistent basis or risk stagnation and/or skill loss. What these generic standards won’t evaluate is your ability to make applicable use of force decisions.


There is no such thing as “good enough”, there is always room for improvement.



Threat Recognition Standards – TRMS skills, like all others, need to be trained into a conditioned response; yelling verbal commands at a paper 2D target is not enough. Training must be conducted vs. a live, moving, speaking opponent. Key challenge phrases need to be ingrained and easily issued without conscious thought. Once this can be done, on command, while multi-tasking (moving and/or accessing a tool at the same time) you have met the first standard and can proceed to scenario work.




GPP Standards– This is a highly individualized area but there are some specific standards we can strive to achieve which will help us determine how much emphasis we need to place on this discipline. One very useful standard I have found is Ross Enamaits burpee test. A burpee is a combination of bodyweight exercises which tax your strength, endurance and anaerobic capacity when done in high repetitions. Ross’s standard is 100 burpee’s in 10 minutes for an average person or athlete and 5-7 min. for elite athletes. Because the burpee is a multi-body part exercise, working the upper body and lower body, the cardiovascular system and requires no special equipment the burpee excels as a personal training modality and evaluation tool. Other GPP standards include any of the LEO/MIL Personal Fitness Tests which are numerous since each unit/agency usually has their own. A good resource to follow is Ace Any PFT – Stew Smith . Stew Smith is a former NSW Operator who now specializes in physical training and preparedness. Once a basic PFT score is achieved then GPP training can be conducted 2-5 times/week to maintain this level and focus can be shifted to other core disciplines/sub-discipline or a new discipline.



Physical Defense Standards – While some have and do achieve a black belt in one style or martial system in 1.5 years others have been studying a martial system for 12 and still have not achieved this rank. Rank and meeting standards is not the same thing. Formal ranking in martial arts is highly subjective and simply achieving a black belt or instructor credentials does not mean fighting is known, mastered or that one is proficient at personal protection. Physical defense standards should follow a more objective path. Specific categories of unarmed physical defense should be outlined, trained and then pressure tested. If the pressure test is successfully navigated on a consistent basis from variable opponents within the context of criminal assault then proficiency has been demonstrated. Simply rehearsing a pre-arranged set of movements against a pre-arranged set of attacks (stimulus-response) is not demonstrable of skill under pressure or presented in a realistic manner.




For Physical Defense a core set of skill sets and sub-sets must be demonstrated:

1) Effective Default defense against spontaneous/ambush attacks. Trained solo and with partners and then pressure tested via moderate to full force spontaneous attack scenarios vs. single and multiple aggressors



2) Demonstration of Speed and Power for a limited number of “Hard Skills” – These skills may include chin-jab, elbow strikes, axe hand, knee strikes, kicks, jab/cross etc. (Specific skills are left to the trainee and or trainee’s coach/instructor to determine). This demonstration can first be performed on focus pads/shields then pressure tested via force-on-force drilling against padded assailants and finally through moderate to full contact sparring wherein only specific techniques are utilized thus demonstrating the ability to apply a skill on demand and during varying circumstances

3) Standing Grapple/Clinch – the same hard skills trained at range from your opponent are often difficult or impossible to apply while clinched or engaged in standing grapple. (This is why boxers often close and clinch to rest or weather a barrage of strikes from an opponent). Again, clinch skills are trained and proficiency is demonstrated via the ability to move in and out of and maintain control while in this range at will during moderate to full force sparring. This range may also include defense against and application of grabs and holds



4) Counter Take Down – the ability to negate an opponent’s ability to tackle, throw, or pull to the ground. Standards are met when one can consistently negate these attempts during alive, dynamic drilling and moderate to full force sparring against opponents knowledgeable and trained in these types of assaults


*In-Fight-Weapons-Access, Defense against Armed Assailants and Ground Grappling are sub-disciplines; separate entities requiring specific time and focus. They fall under Physical Defense because they are a natural extension of practical unarmed combat and beyond the scope of this single article.



Edged/Improvised Weapons Standards (EIW) – EIW standards begin with demonstrating a basic ability to access a specific tool (In-Fight-Weapon-Access). This skill must be repeatable under dynamic aggression and or moderate to full force drilling, scenarios, sparring. Demonstration of edged weapon hard skills such as movement off lines of attack, basic angles of attack, thrusts, slashes, strikes and combinations of above both solo and under pressure of attack



Firearm Standards (CCW) – Similar to EIW the ability to access the concealed (or stored) carry firearm solo and then under pressure of attack is fundamental may supersede even marksmanship. Fundamental, precision marksmanship standards such as 2 rounds into a 2 inch circle from 3, 5 and 7 yards with and without time pressure (timed drill). Combative marksmanship standards include 2 rounds in a 3×5 index card from variable distances under time pressure from in and out of the concealed holster, varied ready positions and varied body positions. Dynamic movement standards from in and out of the holster engaging an 8-10 inch center of visible mass target under time pressure while moving off line of attack in varied directions. Proficiency for all of the above demonstrated via square range drills PRIOR to engagement in live force-on-force scenarios and drills. A couple excellent resources which I have found useful in developing my personal standards include J. Michael Plaxco’s book “Shooting from Within” and Pat Rogers MEU-SOC Pistol Qualification course (page 2).

Hold yourself to some performance standard and train the skills you need work on based upon self evaluation of those standards. Fill the holes in your personal defense profile before someone discovers and exploits them.




True Multidisciplinary Proficiency
Rarely do we see multiple core disciplines trained in the same class or during the same workout. If we may have to traverse a force continuum ranging from verbal challenge to unarmed contact and perhaps even lethal force via the use of a firearm, why do we train them all separately? Secondly, can’t we cover a broader range of skill sets in one workout thus managing time and resources and accomplishing more if we batched several disciplines together? Is having the ability to transition from one discipline to another under pressure more important than any single discipline individually? True multidisciplinary proficiency is demonstrating that you possess a standard knowledge of each core discipline and you can seamlessly transition between each during a dynamic combative encounter. There are some good multidisciplinary or commonly referenced “integrated” training programs available such as those offered by SouthNarc, Progressive F.O.R.C.E. Concepts or Sharp Defense. Take a hard, honest look at what you are currently doing and why. Haphazardly jumping around from class to class or from skill set to skill set without reason or method is a sign of poor planning and preparation. A combative encounter may be completely random, preparation and training should not be.

NOV/DEC/JAN Schedule

Posted on: November 4th, 2013 by admin No Comments

Updated schedule for Nov/Dec/Jan, check it out and get in while you can.