“Bare hands aren’t enough.”
USCCA member Rob Campbell grew up in the country. “My father was an avid hunter,” he reminisces, “and had me out hunting when I was very young – five, six, seven years old.” Although his father was never interested in any type of defensive shooting, it was from his father that he learned to appreciate firearms and what firearms could do.
Now, in turn, he is passing this appreciation down to his own two sons. Rob’s older son is an infantryman stationed on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, while the younger son, still a teenager, recently picked up his first AR-15 and is enjoying the process of learning to use it.
“It’s kind of the reverse of what my father did with me,” Rob admits. “I’ve really taught them nothing about hunting, but everything about defensive shooting.” His older son joined him when he took a class from Front Sight, while the younger just missed an opportunity to attend a Suarez International class. When his sons are available, Rob enjoys taking them to the range and working with pistols, carbines, and shotguns.
Not everyone in Rob’s family is as enthusiastic. “My wife is very supportive,” he points out. “Very much so.” But she’s never developed an interest in using firearms as a hobby or for self defense.
And although their two daughters have been to the range, neither has shown the avid interest that their sons have. “I don’t want to push them,” Rob says, “but the door’s open and I’d love to have them show that interest too.”
Now a managing director for an IT consulting company, Rob once considered becoming a veterinarian. Joining the Army afforded him an opportunity to learn what veterinary medicine was like. “My MOS was 91Tango,” he says. “That’s an unusual one, and even people in the military often don’t recognize it; it’s an animal care specialist. We did all of the veterinary care for military working dogs.”
Although Rob truly enjoyed his time working with animals, he decided not to pursue a veterinary degree when he left the Army. “Veterinarians have it tough. People think they charge all this money and must just be rolling in dough, but veterinarians do it for the love of what they do.”
“When I think back on some of the best times of my life, I always end up back there,” says Rob of his time in the Army. “I probably would have made a career of it, but it’s so tough on a family.” Today, he and his wife share their home with two dogs, a four-year old Golden Retriever and a two-year old Rottweiler. “They take up a big part of our time, and just like kids, they need a lot of love and attention and training. I do their training. They don’t do competitions or anything like that; they’re just our house pets,” Rob says.
An avid reader, Rob is currently reading the collected works of Thomas Paine. For non fiction, he enjoys reading about history, current affairs, and politics. On the fiction side of things, he enjoys science fiction. “When I just want to escape, Steven King is the master” of that genre, Rob says. One good book he recently finished is The Founders’ Second Amendment, by Steven Halbrook.
With his early childhood introduction to hunting, Rob nevertheless turned to defensive shooting rather than hunting when he reached adulthood.
“That’s a tough read,” Rob confesses. “It’s written like they spoke back then – you have to go through it slowly and really pay attention. But it’s really a good book.” Like many enthusiastic readers, Rob also enjoys writing from time to time, and maintains a blog at www.theworldaccordingtorc.blogspot.com.
With his early childhood introduction to hunting, Rob nevertheless turned to defensive shooting rather than hunting when he reached adulthood. Asked why, he responds, “As you get older, you can’t look left or right without finding reasons” to protect yourself. “I can’t tell you when exactly it was, that moment in time when I realized carrying a weapon was something I needed to do all the time.
It was just noticing the world and coming to the understanding that bare hands aren’t enough. I’ve studied martial arts most of my life, starting from the early teen years, but there are times when that’s just not sufficient.”
Was there a specific incident that caused you to carry a gun, or have you ever had to use your firearm in a defensive situation?
No. Our world is at once a wonderful and dangerous place. I carry because of the latter. As a citizen, son, father, brother and spouse, I feel an obligation to defend and protect those I care about and those things that keep us free.
What training methods do you employ?
I try to get in at least one pistol, one carbine, and one shotgun class each year. I might repeat the following year or take a different course in the fall, but I do try to cover all three weapons types at least once a year.
In addition to that, I practice several times a week, and participate in IDPA matches at the local gun club once a month. I have dummy rounds for all the weapons so I can do function drills at home too. Like any other skill, you have to use it or lose it.
I’ve taken the time to invest money in the platforms and the training. It seems to me that if I’m going to stake my life or my family’s life on it, I should probably be practicing.
I’ve taken courses from Randy Cain at Cumberland Tactics; FIRE Institute, which is a local organization in the Pittsburgh area; Suarez International; and Front Sight. Of those, I would send a beginner to either Front Sight or Cumberland Tactics, as those classes included lots of good instruction on the basics and a heavy emphasis on safety.
Do you have any recommendations about training for other USCCA members?
First, read. There are some really knowledgeable, experienced teachers out there. You don’t need to start from square one and you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Learn from those that have come before us. Don’t just read about training, tactics and weapons.
Read and understand the laws. There are organizations like the Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network (www.armedcitizensnetwork.org) that provide invaluable information and guidance.
Prepare now for the aftermath of a self-defense shooting. There are things you can do right now that will pay big dividends if you’re ever unfortunate enough to be involved in a justifiable shooting.
Along with the reading, get formal training. Train with the weapons you carry and employ in your home. Become as proficient with them as possible. Your life, or the lives of those you care for, may depend on it.
Finally, practice! All the reading and training in the world won’t mean a thing if you don’t practice enough so that during those all important moments it happens automatically.
What weapons do you carry?
Whenever possible I carry an all-steel, 5-inch 1911. Right now it’s a Talon model from Nighthawk Custom. I usually also carry a backup gun, which is an S&W 642 Airweight in .38 Special or a Kel-Tec P3AT in .380 ACP in a DeSantis Superfly pocket holster.
On the weekend, I usually have the Kel-Tec or the J-frame in a pocket, along with the 1911 on the belt. In addition, I usually have a SOG Trident folding knife and a SureFire flashlight in my other pocket. Actually, I often carry two flashlights, along with one or two magazines. And in the house, my first choice isn’t going to be a handgun.
If I’m as near to the AR-15 or the Mossberg 500, that’s what’s coming out. Handguns are the firearm of last choice because of their relative lack of fire power. The fact that they are easily concealable and can be kept at the ready makes them the most likely to be deployed in a situation gone bad.
What type of ammunition do you carry?
In .45 ACP for the 1911: Federal HST 230gr. JHP or Speer 230gr. GDHP Winchester Personal Defense 230gr. JHP if the former are not available. In the long guns: Hornady 75gr. JHP in the AR and Hornady twelve gauge 2 3/4 inch 00 Low Recoil Tactical Buckshot in the Mossberg.
In the Kel-Tec P3AT: Hornady Critical Defense 95gr .380.
In the S&W 642 Airweight: Speer Gold Dot .38 +p or Winchester Bonded PDX1 .38 +p.
What concealment holsters do you use?
I love the “Road Kill IWB” made by Barkley Daniel at Secret Squirrel Gunleather. Barkley is a full time law enforcement officer who makes exotic leather holsters. I learned about him through Massad Ayoob’s Gun Digest Book of Concealed Carry. Now he has made three different holsters for me, and is currently working on a fourth one and some mag pouches. He does good work, and his prices are pretty reasonable considering he does it in his spare time.
Barkley’s leather is fine craftsmanship. It’s just made right: the cant is right, the trigger guard is right, and he cuts it so you can get that full grip. He’s an LEO and a competition shooter and he gets it, and his holsters reflect that.
For off the shelf holsters, I really like Galco. I’m partial to their Royal Guard and their Summer Special. Another good off the shelf holster company I’ve used is Milt Sparks, the HR-Ltd IWB. For pocket guns, I like the DeSantis Superfly.
Do you have any advice for our readers?
Safety first and foremost. Never leave your weapons unsecured. If they’re not on your person, lock them up. Remember Jeff Cooper’s Four Rules of Gun Safety.
Don’t be cheap. When it comes to the tools and methods you’re betting your life on, I’ll say it again: don’t be cheap. A good holster and a good belt make all the difference in the world. Spend a few extra dollars and get them from one of the finer holster makers. You’ll be glad you did!
Be responsible and be polite. Those of us that exercise our right to carry are (and should be) held to a higher standard. Don’t be the initiator or aggressor; de-escalate if at all possible.
Get involved. Stay on top of your political representatives. Write them. Visit them. Vote for them. Let them know where you stand. Our rights are only our rights as long as we see to it.
Get others involved. Take a newbie to the range. Point them in all the right directions. There’s strength in numbers.
If you’re thinking about purchasing a new weapon, download and read the owner’s manual first, and watch a field-stripping video.
Document your training. Every class you take, every video you watch, every certificate you earn. You never know when you’ll need to explain why you did what you did and prove you held yourself to a higher standard. All that training info can be introduced in court to help educate your jury.
Clean your weapons religiously. Use a good cleaner, lubricant and preservative (CLP) like Weapons Shield or Break-free. If you’re thinking about purchasing a new weapon, download and read the owner’s manual first, and watch a field-stripping video. Many good firearms are incredibly easy to field strip while others are a bit more complicated.
Get night sights. You’re most likely to engage in low light situations and you’ll be glad you have them. Besides, there’s nothing like the warm fuzzy you get seeing three little green dots just a foot away from the pillow.