The OODA Loop: A Closer Look At the Kenosha Shooting

This episode of the Gunslingers USA weekly podcast features a frank conversation I had with Iowa resident Jake Pries, owner and lead instructor of a firearms training program in Iowa. Our topic of discussion: the firefight between Kyle Rittenhouse and three armed combatants on August 25 during the Kenosha riots.

Note: This video is the latest episode in the Gunslinger USA Podcast Series, which can be found on their YouTube Channel. The transcript below is lightly edited for clarity. The original can be found on the Gunslinger USA website here, and is reposted with their permission. All photography in this post were taken by Ian Michael, unless annotated otherwise. Both the photos and diagrams are public domain.

Special thanks to Chet Richards for pointing me to a high quality PDF of Boyd’s Patterns of Conflict on his website, Slightly East of New.


Ian: All right everyone, welcome back to our podcast here at Gunslinger USA. I am here with Jake Pries, who’s the owner and lead instructor of Distributed Security Quad Cities, an ambitious training program in Eastern Iowa and Illinois. Jake, tell us a little bit about yourself before we jump into this.

Jake: Yeah, again, my name is Jake Pries and I have a 15 years of law enforcement experience, spent 20 years in the National Guard on combat deployments, and as a small arms instructor, small unit tactics instructor, and combatives instructor for the National Guard. And then with Davenport [Police Department] I spent the majority of my time on patrol. I left the department as a sergeant spent the last five, six years of my career on the department as a supervisor in one capacity or another one on the street. So that’s me.

Jake Pries, owner of the Iowa-based DSQC firearms training program teaches a Combative Handgun Course at a shooting range in Moline, Illinois. Jake has more than 15 years of experience in the Army, law enforcement, and firearms coaching.

Ian: So now that we’ve introduced our wonderful guest speaker who I’ve worked with a lot since he’s we’re right here next to each other in the same backyard, same little pond. We’re going to we’re going to hit really briefly the Rittenhouse shooting. There’s already a million stories about it. So the rights and wrongs, the legalities, the morality of it will lead to other people we’re going to touch on the decision making process and how incidents like that, regardless of what led to them or what put that person in that situation plays into your decision making process and how you can apply the lessons of the OODA Loop into those what’s your like when you first when this news first broke, what was your first impression, the first thought to cross your mind?

Jake: So I think, initially it was just a bad situation, right? Like overall, a no win situation. And you know, does anyone ever really win in a shooting? No. No one ever really wins. Somebody usually gets to go either home or jail, or the other party goes to the morgue or they go to the hospital with everlasting injuries.

Ian: All of your classes, you have a pretty good selection. You have your combative handgun course and, you know, you got smaller, shorter ones. You have a pretty good selection and the ones I’ve attended you, and I’ve heard you bring it up multiple times, the famous are probably the most famous ends the first decision making cycle, the OODA Loop: Observe, Orient Decide, Col. John Boyd’s brainchild, which he himself took 20 years to develop. It was not a simple thing he rolled out of bed and came up with one day.

The OODA Loop is far more sophisticated than the four step process that history buffs and strategy connoisseurs think. That said, simplified 3-5 step decision making cycles are loosely based on the OODA Loop. Examples include “Shoot, Move, Communicate,” and the five steps of the Risk Assessment process used by all branches in the DOD.

Jake: The OODA Loop is – and let me back up a little bit just to kind of go over what the OODA Loop really is. And you mentioned it, it’s the situation, decision making process, right? And put this in perspective, people do this every single day while they’re driving, right? You’re driving on the road, you’re constantly getting input of information from either vehicles around you, the radio, what you see what you hear what you smell, what you feel through the steering wheel, you feel through the pedals. Even the most basic driver does things within the OODA Loop every single day.

When we talk about the application, the use of force or whether it be in defense or anything else, the big thing we have to remember is action versus reaction. And the action versus reaction within the OODA Loop is something that the reactionary gap will always be longer than the action gap. And what I mean by that is, when you decide it takes about for the average person and it takes about point 0.6 seconds to actually see and understand what it is using, right for your brain to process that information and that’s usually for somebody that’s relatively locked in. And that’s usually on a, in a relatively calm environment. Okay, from there it takes about another point to 0.3 – 0.5 seconds to put whatever action you decide to do in the in the play.

So if we, if we equate this to like on the range, if I’m using a shot timer, right? Even if I’m on target, my finger on the trigger and as soon as that shot timer goes off, it still takes me about 0.31 seconds you have to process what is happening. Even if I’m on the trigger right there that beep go off, that point six or 0.6 [seconds] is my brain processing time to understand “Okay, he went off knowing pull a trigger that point 0.53 seconds is actually my brain telling my finger “That trigger,” right? So at a minimum, I’m at a 0.31 0.36-ish seconds on a shot timer, already pointed in, [and] that’s not including the draw. That’s not including the finding the threat, orienting to the threat, and deciding what I need to do to the threat, and then actioning whatever my decisions are.

When it comes to the Kyle Rittenhouse thing, I mean this was all over the map. He’s got multiple adversaries that are aggressive, he’s been hit in the and Molotov cocktails thrown at him [After this interview was already recorded, the alleged Molotov Cocktail was identified as a harmless plastic bottle in a bag. However, this still is battery and it is likely that Rittenhouse didn’t know it was a bottle either – IK]. Again, I’m not glorifying anything that he did. I’m not condoning anything that he did. I’m simply explaining from an overall perspective, what kind of chaotic situation that is.

Jake Pries, owner of DSQC, taught the company’s first round of the Combative Handgun Training Series in Moline, Illinois.

Ian: It’s interesting to really look at it as you are, you know, and it’s good, you know, and I do want to say that, you know, you do bring up the OODA Loop a lot. A lot of people bring up the OODA Loop videos. Practically every firearms instructor on earth brings it up, but 99% present it wrong. You actually, as you said, it’s a continuous cycle. You present correctly.

Jake: Yeah, it’s something that builds on itself, right? So if I’m on the line, and I’m teaching somebody how to pull the trigger, let’s say, they have to observe what it is I’m actually telling them, right, they have to observe what the target is they have to observe all the things around them, they then have to orient the brain towards what they’re actually going to be doing. Right, they have to make the decision, hey, this is I’m being told I got to pull the trigger, right, and that’s all I got to do. Then they have to decide to pull the trigger and then they have to pull the trigger.

But even in that process, they’re going to have to do that over and over and over and over again. And the minute that they stop observing what it is that they’re doing, the whole OODA Loop gets thrown out the window. So then you have to restart at the beginning. And that’s why in a defensive situation, it’s so important to get inside your adversaries OODA Loop and to make them do what you want them to do, and instead of reacting to what they’re doing,

Ian: I really can’t you know that that was spot on, it’s almost hard to, like, add to that, except maybe they’re reacting and they’re also getting isolated from each other, from their environment, from you. They’re not only reacting to everything you’re doing, they’re getting confused or losing sight of each other. If your adversary happens to be an individual, he’s still getting isolated and disoriented and losing sight of what’s happening in front of him.

Hugh Pries, a former special forces soldier and Iraq War vet (And yes, Jake Pries’ dad) shows a student the cycle of operations for a semi-automatic handgun at a DSQC class on Sept. 19. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

With that said, you know, especially as an instructor where you know, you have potentially you might see a person’s face one time and you’ll never see him again. So it’s got your one chance to instill whatever you can in them and you might have a longest time right you know, see your combative handgun course you have, you know, 16 hours plus whatever interface you have with them in between. But on the other hand, on the opposite end of the spectrum, you might just have an hour with somebody. So it’s a bit of a dilemma, you know, how to emphasize to someone how important it is to really do that, to really continue honing your skills.

Jake: And that’s why we, you know, we try to put it into that practical application of, you know, if you look at, if you look at anything that anybody does, whether it’s playing sports, or driving, or just moving through their normal day, every single time every single day, and usually within a couple of minutes, you know, they’re making decisions within that OODA Loop constantly, constantly constant, constantly.

So that’s one of the things we get on in the class is that yes, we are talking about Specifically, as it applies to self defense and as it applies to the defensive use of a firearm, but to make them understand it, it is using their everyday activities and showing them that they use that OODA Loop within their everyday activities as is. And you know, during that it’s very important to show them that if you are deciding to do something, and I am your adversary, I need to get inside your OODA Loop to change that so that I give myself the best advantage to win. And the person that understands the advantage usually wins the conflict.

Ian: Now what’s interesting too, is again a feed off of what she said in my earlier point about you know, you can teach him about the OODA Loop and I had to do it yourself. You know with Boyd’s initial Air Force application, his earlier studies on aerial combat, which lead to what we use today. The F-15 and F-16 airframes all are basically modeled around in large part what he envisioned modern aerial combat to be.

U.S. Army pilots from the 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade power down an AH-64 Apache helicopter at Forward Operating Base Dahlke, Afghanistan, May 18, 2016. The 40th Combat Aviation Brigade sent Soldiers, aircraft and equipment to FOB Dahlke in May to support the garrison’s mission to train, advise and assist the Afghan National Army.

But with that said, pilots are less than 4% of the total Air Force. And if you look at the population as a whole, I don’t – I don’t know the real number, but I guessing it’s a very tiny percentage of the population who are even capable of being combat pilots who can sit there and sit there in a very complex aircraft. You have a map on your lap have a compass or you know, [instruments], it can be a mess in that cockpit.

Jake: Yeah, you got a multitude of inputs all at once, and you have to process that information. But again, it’s it. The OODA Loop speaks to what is important right now, what do I need to concentrate on right now and What can be white noise? And what can be set sat on the side? Or what can go on the back burner for a minute? And again, I’m not a combat pilot, but I can tell you from operations, it’s what is what is the most important or most deadly threat to me right now? What do I need to work at? What do I need to observe? And how do I need to defeat that threat right now, the rest of it as you go through training, and as you go through all kinds of other stuff, you learn what we call rack and stack that information in your brain, right?

So after you deal with the most lethal, or most dangerous, then you move on to the next one, and that just goes all through your OODA Loop, and you can observe, you know, multiple threats at once.

Ian: And what you just said there, it does remind me of a historical example going back to the American Civil War, that was big in Gettysburg and other battles as well, you know, they would look at soldiers, warfare rifles, and they would find that that person had fired a single shot, he was literally stuck loading and loading and loading and loading like six to seven balls stacked on top of each other, he’s just stuck in that one phase of the drill without even being aware of it.

Jake: And some of that goes into, you know, the, the human instinct of not wanting to kill another person. You know, we talk about, we see all these different instances of, you know, homicides and all this stuff. It’s a very unnatural act to kill another human being, right? So, in the Revolutionary War and the Civil War, in many of the early conflicts, you’re right, they found a lot of, you know, load or barrel loaded rifles that had multiple shot in them.

Those guys go through the process of loading come up on shoulder and they would not they just wouldn’t pull the trigger, you know, because they could see that that was another person across the battlefield from them. The idea behind those pig battle formations was just to create a wall of humanity. And, you know, it’s kind of dehumanized your opponent, right? Especially when they’re all wearing very same uniform, they all work together, they all look alike. So it enabled soldiers to be able to do what they need to know.

You we see a lot of what I call vapor lock. You see people get vapor locked on different scenarios because their OODA Loop gets stuck right there. They’re stuck in this. They see what the threat is they oriented towards the threat, but they cannot decide what to do. And it as soon as that decision is broken, it goes right back to observe, orient, observe, orient, observe orient, and that’s where we have to train them on how to break that vapor lock, make it to the decision phase of the loop, and then enact that decision.

Vapor lock happens when fuel boils in your carburetor or your fuel line. Vaporized fuel creates back pressure in your fuel system and prevents gas from getting to your engine. To use vapor lock as an analogy for a paralyzed OODA Loop, a combatant is stuck in an endless cycle of attempting to observe and orient, and incapable of making a decision.

Ian: And what you just said there, it does remind me of a historical example going back to the American Civil War, that was big in Gettysburg and other battles as well, you know, they would look at soldiers, warfare rifles, and they would find that that person had fired a single shot, he was literally stuck loading and loading and loading and loading like six to seven balls stacked on top of each other, he’s just stuck in that one phase of the drill without even being aware of it.

Jake: And some of that goes into, you know, the, the human instinct of not wanting to kill another person. You know, we talk about, we see all these different instances of, you know, homicides and all this stuff. It’s a very unnatural act to kill another human being, right? So, in the Revolutionary War and the Civil War, in many of the early conflicts, you’re right, they found a lot of, you know, load or barrel loaded rifles that had multiple shot in them.

Those guys go through the process of loading come up on shoulder and they would not they just wouldn’t pull the trigger, you know, because they could see that that was another person across the battlefield from them. The idea behind those pig battle formations was just to create a wall of humanity. And, you know, it’s kind of dehumanized your opponent, right? Especially when they’re all wearing very same uniform, they all work together, they all look alike. So it enabled soldiers to be able to do what they need to know.

That’s why, you know, even back in the really early ages [of massed formations using firearms], you had to train your body and train your mind to overcome that natural instinct of not wanting to hurt somebody else. And that’s why you know, guys in your martial arts or hand to hand combat and stuff like that, they’re able to do what they do because they legitimately go black, and it is just a straight up, fall back on instinct and fall back on trading. It’s not a conscious decision sometimes that they are going to do the most violent things they possibly can.

Ian: A section in Dave Grossman’s book, On Killing, which, piggybacking off what you just said, what I found really interesting; there is the stereotype that these weapons were incredibly inaccurate when really the opposite was true quite early on, even early 18th century. Maybe even earlier than that. You’d take soldiers out on the range and they could get bull’s eyes on circular targets. But then you take those same soldiers and take them out ballfield, they’re shooting over people’s heads. Even with a firing squad you got to get a whole group of people. If you get one guy, it just be too much pressure.

Jake: Well, and you know, the firing squad mentality we can go into on a whole [different] discussion. But yeah, it’s much easier for me to train someone how to shoot bull’s eyes than it is for me to teach somebody how to instinctively put rounds into a humanoid target. You know, as soon as you start putting faces on it, as soon as you start putting characteristics to it, people tend to kind of freak out a little bit and rightfully so.

Happy customers from a National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) event held by DSQC.

Those people that have not been around that for very long, or it’s new to them or whatever the case may be. Yeah, I mean, it’s something that definitely takes, it takes a lot of training to train that out of your mind takes a lot of training to put it into your OODA Loop, right? Reaching back to the topic at hand, to make that decision to put rounds into that adversary that is a human being.

Ian: Anyway, it comes to, as we’ve touched on a couple, you know, factors that go into freezing up or just your OODA Loop breaking down, all of which is especially hard on individual because you, if you look at his OODA Loop model, you know, you can have the best of the best the pilots, the best trained soldiers out there, who can do it naturally just from a huge amount of training. And we look at a command staff situation you have a whole huge number of people all filling, like, a giant brain. And it’s like you have each of those steps that, like you said, are continuously feeding information back as a whole group of people even then they don’t get it right a lot of time. And the OODA Loop, in his famous Patterns of Conflict slide deck, his presentation he gave to very high level people like Dick Cheney even, that’s 12 hours, and that’s just introducing it to you. And we have so little time to get that message across to students.

A simplified flow chart of a U.S. Army brigade headquarters. The personal staff report directly to the commander, providing timely information as experts in their fields. The executive officer directly supervises the special and coordinating staff – an overwhelming task if the commander had to do this himself in addition to his other responsibilities. The command sergeant major (CSM) maintains discipline amongst the enlisted troops, keeps an eye on morale, mentors and provides support to the NCO’s. Liaison officers (LNO) provide crucial lines of communication with adjacent and supporting units.

Jake: And that’s why, you know, the dry practice is so important. That’s why I follow up with these charges are so important. That’s why the model that we have, which is [Jake Pries’ instruction model for his company, Distributed Security Quad Cities (DSQC)]. So it’s important when you have the constant ability to reach back to your instructor and not just on a one-off.

Say you drive to Des Moines for a two-day course, and you may or may never talk to that instructor ever again. Whereas, what we offer it’s more of we’re here locally. If anyone ever has a question or a concern, if they ever want to get more range time, we always have the ability to say to them, yeah, we can do that. Let’s schedule something, let’s do this and the other, even if it’s just on a on a visual platform like this or you know, a meeting platform like this where if, if I need to punch up a video, I can show them you know, certain techniques, I can show them certain dry practice drills and show certain things, talking back and forth, see what they’re doing. And you know, if I can see anything from the video, I could correct it right then and there. They don’t need to spend time on a range. You don’t need spend money on ammo. They can do it right in the comfort of their home, there’s a multitude of advantages to do it like that.

Ian: Yes, and there’s a lot, and you know, it’s kind of a godsend that we do have these tools that just did not [used to] exist, not even that long ago, too. As weird as it is, as terrible as the virus is, it’s kind of forced us to look at the tools we had in front of us and realize why we could we could we already had these things and didn’t fully realize it. If it was a perfect world, you were just ruler of the universe is there – and you could just do anything – is there something to make that just magically make [your] training program as perfect as possible?

Jake: I mean, really, you know, outside of the ranges [available] 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and has, you know, the perfect target retrieval systems, bullet trap systems, and I think having the ability to have a range open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, regardless of, you know, pandemic or any other restrictions, that had the perfect lighting, the perfect distances, the perfect bullet trap in and was perfect for what we wanted to do. And being able to do it anytime that we wanted to. I think the system that we have right now is pretty good. But really, it’s, you know, if ammo is, is unlimited, and firearms are relatively inexpensive and affordable, and you have the ability to access the range at any given time that you wanted to. And I had, you know, a couple hundred instructors that could do the same thing I could do at any given time. That would be a perfect world.

Barring all of that, you know, dry practice really is the least expensive way to do what you need to do. And you can always get good reps, you know, and you can always on any of these platforms reach out to you know, me or any of the other instructors that work with us to get answers and to get pointers. And you can always get good reps, you know, and you can always on any of these platforms reach out to you know, me or any of the other instructors that work with us to get answers and to get pointers and that kind of stuff to be able to be a better shooter and be a better defensive firearms handler.

Jake Pries, owner and lead instructor of Distributed Security Quad Cities (DSQC), teaches gives students an introduction to marksmanship in a First Shots Class at the Milan Rifle Club in Milan, Illinois, on August 15, 2020. First Shots is a National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) sponsored program aimed at enabling firearm instructors and businesses to introduce people to the world of shooting in a safe and fun way.

Ian: So I’m actually going to take what you said, literally, hundreds of instructors is not an easy thing [to accomplish], and even the armed forces who, well, do have literally hundreds of people, and many of whom are experts and all in just a full range of you know, firearms handling and tactics, individual tactics, group tactics, and it’s a tough nut to crack even for professionals to have that time management and depth. Just that huge organizational skill necessary to avoid the pitfall of “Okay, we are not when you’re not in the field, you’re in your barracks room playing video games.” It’s unfortunate how many units fall into that when there’s so many ways they could train and don’t really even need the facilities. I mean, you could get some, I mean, is that perfect be? So throw some rocks out there and do [room clearing exercises].

Army National Guard Soldiers from California’s 40th Combat Aviation Brigade, plan a convoy exercise at Camp Roberts, Calif., Aug. 24, 2015. A Rehearsal of Concept (ROC) doesn’t require a billion dollar budget. It can be done with sticks and stones. (Photo Credit: Spc. Ilithya Medley)

Jake: We see that in law enforcement as well, right? Like, the biggest budgets within law enforcement are usually your equipment budget, your training budget, because you have to buy rounds, you have to spend time on ranges, you have to do all these things. You have to budget time to get guys, to get the officers on the range. So even in a perfect world, within law enforcement, it’s hard to get good training, it’s hard to get consistent training. And that kind of stuff to be able to be a better shooter and be a better defensive firearms handler. Now, that being said, there’s a lot of departments that do it a lot better than others. You know, at Davenport [PD], we’ve been fortunate to have some really good training officers that have the ear of the administration and really put forth a lot of good training. But all of that is budget dependent. So as soon as they want to start pinching pennies, the first thing to go is training, as we see across the country.

I wish every department had umpteen billion dollars to be able to train at any given time, right, but, but at the end of the day, not only do the agencies and training, civilians in training as well, like the civilian population needs to be trained on what the hell they can and can’t do, what the hell they should or shouldn’t do. The bottom line here is that the OODA Loop plays into everything you do during the day, all of your training. And with the business model that we have we are available almost 24 hours a day. I’m very reachable by text. I know a lot of my guys are reachable by email.

A student practices a live-fire shoot with a single-action revolver at a qualification exercise following an Iowa Permit To Carry Weapons class held by DSQC on Sept 19. Most (but not all) single-action revolvers are easily identified by the ejection rod protruding from under the barrel. The exposed firing pin on the hammer can be damaged by dry fire, so always use snap caps, rather than cycling empty.

If you know somebody wants to go out to a range, we’ve got not only shooting sports, but we can do things at other local ranges and some other local areas. And even if it’s like [COVID-19 quarantine], if they can’t go anywhere, and they don’t have a lot of ammunition, then we can talk over video. I can diagnose stuff from there. And it’s pretty nice to, you know, have this kind of technological platform to be able to do that. Necessity is the mother of all invention.

Ian: Yes. And when it comes to the OODA Loop, we can take it up to an institutional level because notice an interesting thing about our group is that you can apply in so many different ways here. What you and our other partners are trying to do, [is to not have] a stale program, and not run it the same way for 20 years. I know from the classes I’ve participated in with you in various capacities, like every single one, you have one, or even more than one, you have After Action Reviews. Could you know where can we improve this? How can we make it even better for the next step students and adding new features adding?

Jake: Yeah, that constant evaluation process and constant improvement process I think is very important. And, like you said, in all the classes that I do, in any block of instruction that I give, it’s almost never the same twice. The topics are the same. Some of the key points are the same. But a lot of the information that I bring into the class I try to keep it relevant. I try to keep it very recent. But if there are good examples that I can pull from, from my personal life, or from my professional life, I do that. Whereas you know, sometimes you get these classes [always taught] in exact same way, the exact same words and nothing ever changes. I think a little bit of an ad lib and improv is necessary in these classes, to keep it relevant and keep it entertaining.

Ian: You’ve got your training course and I do love how it’s not about you. You’ve never made it all about you. you give praise to other instructors and other courses that you yourself have learned from. So as part, you know, as a student, what would you say about you know, as far as continuous training, seeking diversity of training, any thoughts on that?

Greg Adamson, a retired police officer and commander of a military police battalion, and a sitting member of the Bettendorf City Council in Iowa, demonstrates proper grip of a revolver to one of his students at a DSQC Iowa Permit To Carry Weapons PTCW) class on Sept. 19. Everyone on the DSQC team are military veterans, and many have law enforcement experience as well.

Jake: I think the old saying is if you’re not growing, you’re dying, right? And I think that’s the same way in anything that you do. If you’re becoming a student, the best instructors are the best students.

Ian: Yeah, I think that’s a really good note to, you know, to conclude this on. You wrapping up how you can learn it, how you can improve it and, just again to emphasize that point, I think it’s important. I think that’s also good at you know and what you’re saying is constant learning. When I got out of the military my weapons knowledge began and ended with those basic things they teach about, you know, your M-16, your M9, a couple crew-served weapons if you’re lucky.

When I got into the civilian firearms industry it really, you know, expanded that knowledge and it’s one thing I appreciate, and I honestly want to emphasize to people because people just don’t know. Training programs are good and also something where you can start at the absolute basics and then just continue growing and growing growing. The NRA does have the Personal Protection Series, which is [a training program] that I do like the USCCA, but I personally – have you ever taken any training with the USCCA? I don’t want to speak about something I don’t know about.

Jake: No, but I’m a member and I carry their insurance.

Ian: I am a member too. I mean, I wouldn’t drive around my car without insurance, and so same philosophy there. So there’s a lot out there. And yeah, anything else you want to throw into that besides what we’ve hit?

Jake: No man, I think we’ve covered the topic that needs to be covered. I appreciate you having me on.

Ian: Yeah, absolutely. All right. We’re gonna go ahead and close this up, check out the comments and give us a subscribe on our YouTube Channel and subscribe to our newsletter below!

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About the Author

Ian Michael is has been in the military for 13 years, including the Marine Corps, California Army National Guard, and Army Reserve. He has worked as a multi-media public affairs specialist for eight years, producing news articles, video, and photography in around the United States as well as Afghanistan, Iraq, and Kuwait.

His current creative endeavors include Tales From Venus, the Night Witches Project, and The Man With No Heart. A full list of his published work on Fabius Maximus can be found here. Ian’s portfolio of military work and publications is located here.

He is currently the sole proprietor of IMK Publishing, overseeing the development Gunslinger USA, a multi-platform network built to serve the digital and marketing needs of training instructors, retailers, and other members of the firearms industry and community. Gunslinger USA is currently partnered with the National Shooting Sports Foundation and all team members are certified by the National Rifle Association. Ian is the customer services and marketing manager for Jake Pries, owner of Distributed Security Quad Cities.

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14 thoughts on “The OODA Loop: A Closer Look At the Kenosha Shooting”

    1. Larry (AKA Fabius Maximus) is alive and well – this is Fabius Maximus Jr. – I’m hoping to take a more active role in contributing to the site, and from what he says, he plans to as well!

  1. Well, having read the piece carefully, I am finding it a bit odd. Especially the treatment of Kenosha which is admittedly a small part of it.

    What seems to have happened was that a 17 year old, unlawfully carrying a gun, was attacked by some rioters and used the gun in self defence, thereby killing one of them.

    What are the most important conclusions we should draw from the episode?

    First, that it was a failure of policing that led to the arrival of armed people arriving to stop the rioting. If you have uncontrolled rioting and destruction of property in American cities, in a country where gun ownership is widespread, people will show up to defend property, and they will carry guns. The only way to stop this is effective policing.

    Second, whoever was organizing the counter group to the rioters failed to do the most basic organization of their people. There is no way that Rittenhouse should have found himself isolated and subject to attack if he was under the command of competent leadership. In fact, they should never have allowed a 17 year old on the streets with a gun, and having done that, they should never have let him get isolated.

    Third, that these events are symptoms of a deep cultural crisis, at the bottom of which is polarization and loss of confidence. Why are we seeing continued riots which lead to the confrontations? The loss of confidence is by the political leadership. In previous times there would have been no question what to do, stop the rioting cold, and then worry about the underlying causes later. Now they seem not to know what their response should be at all, and have been unable to decide to do anything effective. The first response to a demand is to concede, the first response to a riot is to vacillate.

    This is connected to the polarization. We have a situation in which violent minorities consider their political and cultural opponents to be the embodiment of evil. So people do not simply demonstrate and counter demonstrate, they riot and bring weapons. It is reminiscent of the end of Weimar as it lapsed into uncontrolled street violence and warring opposition parties.

    And this happens in an environment heavily influenced by views which come from late Romanticism or Post Modernism. The views are basically that there is no objective reality, and that feelings are all that matter – the more intense the better. The consequence of such attitudes in the background is that the relation between ends and means vanishes, and we have people rioting in the cause of anti-racism without being able to say, without even feeling the need to say, how this rioting advances that cause. In other areas there are also similar demands for doing things which will have no effect on the supposed problem. Often they make the problem worse, or damage the very people in whose name its being done. But in a post-modern world, its not considered interesting or even legitimate to point that out.

    This is a real cultural, social and political crisis. Its groups of people flailing around, behaving in totally irrational ways, while their governments have lost their bearings and any sense of legitimacy or values or purpose.

    Well, its hard to see that joining the NRA or buying guns is going to help, and I will not be taking up those implied suggestions from the piece. But I do not know what will. I am not seeing any realistically available measures that will prevent this situation deteriorating further. Maybe the cold weather will? But before that, there is the small matter of an election…

    1. I found this…well different than the pro-gun control stuff posted here a few years back. Although I was aware Mr. Kummer’s views had evolved from some recent personal correspondence.

      Speaking as a firearms enthusiast and a guy who carries a concealed handgun or two 99% of time when I legally can:

      1) I fully support the 2a, but I haven’t been an NRA member in years. It’s one family’s personal piggy bank at this point. The ILA does some good work, but I would suggest folks who want to support the 2a look into groups based in their home state.

      2) Kenosha goes way beyond an OODA analysis. I’m familiar with this sort of discussion, but I’m not sure how helpful it is if you are new to this sort of discussion. Henrik did a great job on summarizing the problems I see with what happened. If you are banding together with fellow citizens to protect property, you need to act as a group, not armed folks running around, assuming that will intimate “bad guys” into not rioting.

      3) “Open carry” generally escalates situations, it doesn’t defuse them. If concealed carry is a legal option for anyone reading this, and you are thinking about becoming armed to defend yourself, please go the CC route. It’s safer for you, and safer for the people around you.

      Do you really want anyone with violence on their mind to identify you as “the enemy” from 100 yards away during rioting? Or to view you as a dispenser for them to acquire a gun?

      4) Training is great, but many don’t have the time, money or access to make it a reality on a regular basis. It is possible to be competent with a gun with solid basic safety (more important than anything else) training and some regular practice. Most of my marksmanship gains have come from dry firing practice.

      Expecting everyone who wants to defend themselves with a firearm to be continously taking “tactical” training quite a bit beyond what most LEO receive these days is quite unrealistic. But, by all means practice with dry fire and dummy cartridges on a regular basis–loading and unloading the firearm as well. When the adrenaline hits, your decision making and fine motor skills will go to hell.

      1. Baldanders,

        Great points as well – in regard to training… I have seen companies that make some pretty absurd claims – I have had the unfortunate experience of being – briefly – associated with one that claimed to be able to consult with a private enterprise and train their employees to “SWAT levels of competencies” – which is totally absurd. SWAT members train endlessly just to maintain their proficiency.

        Unless you’re retired, independently wealthy, or in that industry, it is unlikely that a normal person will ever be LEO levels of proficiency (which as Jake pointed out in the video… even keeping LEO trained acceptably is a difficult task).

        Now why did we do a video on the OODA Loop? Well… simply because all the other point that you and others have brought up in this thread have been discussed a billion times already. Jake and I had a chat, and really wanted to approach this from a different angle. So we left aside all the politics, legalities, ethics, etc. – and just focused on the play by play analysis of the fight after it started… not the political events that led up to the confrontation. I do enjoy talks with Jake, and he is exceptionally qualified – check out his bio here, if you’re interested:

    2. Both great posts, I’ll address Henrik first.

      In regard to the NRA or guns – I would never peddle the notion that everybody should buy a gun. Buy a gun if you want to – or don’t. But if you DO buy a gun, get the training. An untrained individual with a gun is actually more likely to harm himself or another person than someone without a gun. This is statistical fact. We don’t let people drive around cars without proving they are competent at it – I hold the same opinion toward guns. The NRA is a good resource, but even if you don’t care for the NRA, there are plenty of alternatives, like the USCCA, and thousands of exceptionally qualified instructors and academies across the country.

      Also – I’m a CCW instructor… I agree with you on open carry, and that is one of the most commonly asked questions I get in my classes (I live in Iowa, where open carry is legal). Open carry agitates people, like you said, but it also makes you a target. If a criminal decides to shoot up a mall, who is he going to kill first? The idiot with a Glock 17 strapped to his hip, naturally. Concealed carry is better on all counts.

      Your points on the failure of policing and polarization are excellent – I would take that a step further. In past centuries, there were no police. The very concept of “police” as we consider it today didn’t materialize until the latter half of the 19th century, and not in sufficient numbers to make any sort of meaningful difference in the USA until the early 20th century. That means people had to, quite literally, take the law into their own hands. Also note that theft was a very serious crime, and it was perfectly reasonable to shoot or hang thieves caught in the act. Losing the family horse, or having your general store looted, could mean starvation for your whole family.

      In the modern, more “polite” society of today, the social contract has changed. Laws on self defense vary state to state, but it is illegal EVERYWHERE in the USA to kill in defense of property. Why? Because that is a privilege held by the police. You and I cannot kill in defense of property – because we have the law enforcement institution. In return for relinquishing our right to kill to defend our property, police offer us the following services:

      -They catch and punish criminals as a deterrent – mind you they don’t catch ALL criminals, or even the majority… just enough to deter people from indiscriminately committing crimes.
      -Police will react to riots and disorder (and when overwhelmed, deploy the National Guard), so citizens don’t have to live in fear of a mob destroying an entire community (Like what happened to Black Wall Street, some neighborhoods in NYC during the draft riots in the Civil War.). As bad as the race riots in the 1960s were, they would have been much worse without police and National Guard soldiers.
      -Police will enforce the law and punish offenders with at least some degree of egalitarianism. A homeless man’s murder, ideally, is investigated with equivalent rigor as the murder of a Wall Street mogul.

      All these things are gone. Rioters are allowed to loot and destroy everything in their path, and viciously assault anyone in their path. They’re allowed to break into gated communities, storm restaurants, smash businesses… do whatever the hell they want. The social contract has been broken. The state failed to deliver.

      So what’s happening? People have lost faith, and are losing faith in greater numbers with each passing day. Community militias are a logical and extremely predictable outcome. A militia doesn’t need to be elite soldiers (Though there are millions of veterans in the population, so it is not difficult at all to get at least some former soldiers in the ranks of a militia) – a properly armed and regulated (in the original sense of the word: orderly) militia is enough to fight back rioters. Rioters are thugs, and cowardly – they want soft targets, and will turn and flee when they face serious opposition.

      These disorganized fuster clucks that Rittenhouse was a part of, or the Proud Boys as another example, are poor militias… but larger and more competent militias will start materializing if this trend continues.

      1. It is good to see information on self-defense that emphasizes the need to work with others if you need to protect property.

        It also fits right in with the “divided we fall” theme this site has promoted for quite a while now.

        On laws about defending property: yes, I know it’s illegal almost everywhere (certainly in NC where I live)–but I know it was legal in at least Texas for a private citizen to use deadly force to stop a felony in progress last time I checked. Wouldn’t it be kosher to stop someone about to commit arson or the like there?

        Not looking for legal advice, it’s a purely academic matter for me anyway. Just came to mind reading your post.

        I look forward to more discussions like this one on the OODA loop.

      2. One other thought. CCW classes are a good idea even for those folks who aren’t planning to carry, just so you know the “shoot/no shoot” laws in your state. (They are bizzare in some ways in NC concerning intruders inside the house/right outside your door or window)

        Many people don’t realize how much those laws vary state by state. And they are complex enough that absorbing them in a classroom setting with a test afterwards, and a trained instructor to answer questions is a really good idea!

      3. Yes, absolutely agree that a CCW class is good for even a non-shooter, for a couple of reasons.

        1) If you live with a spouse or family member who carries or owns guns, you never know what odd situation might force you to have to pick up that gun (even if you’re just taking it to a safe place, after, say, a car accident) – if the cop is a prick he might arrest you, and this HAS happened before.

        2) CCW, like you said – teaches about use of force in general. If you unlawfully club someone over the head with a bookend, you’re in just as deep trouble as if you shot him.

  2. The Man Who Laughs

    Outstanding discussion by people who know what they’re talking about, A lot of the discussion I’ve seen about Kenosha simply isn’t reality based. A while back I read an account by a guy who was in some sort of group that had gone to Portland. Supposedly they were going to apply for the Portland PD, but they were carrying, and the words Up To No Good come to mind. Basically they ran into Antifa and they didn’t lose the initiative because they never had it. They got hit with chemical sprays and blinding weapons from initial contact, couldn’t even see to shoot, and had to make a run for it. They were lucky to escape serious injury or death. I’li post the link if i can find it. This stuff is a lot harder than it looks in the movies.

    I love the vapor lock analogy, and the discussion of the guys who kept right on loading that musket. I think it’s a great way of describing something that we see at the micro and macro levels. It wasn’t just buck privates who had a vapor lock during the Civil War, that problem extended up to army command. It still does. It’s not an issue that gets discussed a lot in books on strategy. Boyd talked about it, and so did Musashi, although of course he didn’t use our terminology.

    And people can just refuse to see. A good friend of mine has serious health problems and could only work part time. The part time job he took was at a stop and rob in the bad part of town. And he told me it was OK because he had a gun. Did he have it on him? No, but it was somewhere in the vicinity. And I offered to help him select a decent concealed holster, and I offered to help him at the range, and teach him what I could, and it was no use. Because he had a gun, and that was that. He lost that stop and rob gig before he had to find out the hard way, and I breathed a sigh of relief.

    By the way, waving your copy of he Constitution around won’t help either. That takes an effort too.

    1. Well I just spent an unproductive two hours trying to find the discussion on the video you referenced on my favorite website, fruitlessly. We had an interesting chat about it on The consensus was “you are near helpless without initiative.” My takeaway was “looking like an undercover cop/off-duty military” and wandering into the ANTIFA zone may not be a great move.

      I would recommend anyone interested in self-defense check out the section of the site dedicated to training and mindset:

      P-F is filled with competition shooters, LE and ex-LE, and plenty of trainers. (Thin blue lines indicate confirmed LEO in user names) It’s a good place to lurk and learn. It has made me more realistic about my abilities, to say the least. It got me shooting on a timer, which is quite the ego crusher if you’re a middle-aged person with vision issues.

      MWL (love the handle, BTW), way too many folks treat firearms as magic totems. Maybe most handgun purchasers. One of my many reasons for not liking having an important tool for autonomy turned into a symbol of American freedom and the like. Also, I blame Hollywood. Hollywood is to realistic gun use as porn is to realistic sexual activity.

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