Talking Lead is a radio show and YouTube channel where two friends, Zeke and Lefthand, hang out and discuss everything related to guns.

In this Interrogation Interview the guys reveal:

  • Why it's your responsibility to be BOTH armed, and physically fit
  • The importance of training with your firearm in a stressful environment
  • Second Amendment misconceptions
  • One question to ask yourself before carrying a firearm

Listen to the full 26-minute interview here:


JOSEPH ARANGIO: Why is elite physical fitness important for military operators, law enforcement professionals, and especially prepared citizens?

MARTY “LEFTHAND” HOLDER: Some level of physical fitness is beneficial for everyone. Thomas Jefferson wrote, “A strong body makes the mind strong.” I believe that to perform at your best, whether you are an administrative assistant or a Navy SEAL, a good physical fitness routine and a focused mindset are critical to optimal success.

The mind is very powerful and can help us rise to the occasion of overcoming adversities and accomplishing challenging tasks, but if our bodies aren’t honed for the task we will ultimately fail. For obvious reasons our military and law enforcement men and women need to be in tip-top shape, both physically and mentally. Being in peak physical and mental shape gives the best odds of coming out on top in times of crisis by being able to react quickly, proficiently, and with clarity.

For the same reasons our military and law enforcement men and women maintain elite mental and physical fitness levels, so should a prepared citizen. Legally carrying a firearm is not a decision that should be taken lightly. With it comes major responsibility. Be ready to react responsibly.

ZEKE STOUT: Physical fitness is imperative to being prepared for self defense. For military and law enforcement, it's pretty self explanatory to anyone who is familiar with what they do. Harsh terrain, weather, enemies, and criminals can wear on the body. The better your physical conditioning level, the better you can defend yourself or others.

As far as a prepared citizen goes, if someone breaks in your house you have to be ready to move fast! If you are UNABLE to get up from your recliner and get a beer without getting winded, things will not end well in a self-defense scenario.

JA: How important is it to train with your firearm? How often?

MH: It is imperative that you train with your firearm. Part of the responsibility of owning a firearm is to understand how your firearm works. In addition you must know how to efficiently handle your firearm. Just owning a firearm or getting your carry permit does not prepare you for how you need to use it when the time comes.

As a responsible gun owner you should enroll in firearms-instruction classes. That’s right I said classes! Not just one but many. As many as you can afford. Our good friends and some of the country’s best firearms instructors, Rob Pincus, James Yeager, and Aaron Cowan (to name a few) will tell you to take many instructional classes, not just theirs. Because you can learn something different and useful from every instructor. An experienced coach will aid you in finding a particular style or technique that works best for you.

Here are my four basic rules for responsible gun owners to follow:

1. Train: Learn how and when to use your firearm.

2. Maintain: Know how your firearms work and keep up with the proper maintenance and cleaning of your firearms

3. Restrain: Have the proper storage, holster or restraining systems in place for your particular needs and use. (this knowledge will come with training)

4. Retain: So you don’t lose what you’ve learned, continue to practice. Go to the range, take classes, join organizations like the NRA, read books… stay proficient.

As Paul Markel says, “always be a student of the gun."

ZS: Training with your firearm is the most important part of gun ownership in my opinion. Anyone who has been to trainings beyond just their carry permit class has that realization that, “Holy crap! There's a lot to learn!”

Practice as often as possible. Anytime you utilize your body in a repetitive manner, muscle memory kicks in which is incredibly important in a stressful situation.

JA: How important is it to train in an "adrenalized" state? In other words, getting your heart rate above 165 bpm in order to prepare for the adrenaline dump that happens when in a stressful situation.

MH: On a scale of 1-10… 10! I’m not saying that every training session needs to be an “adrenalized” session but it is important to train from time to time in this state because of how the human body reacts during stressful situations. When you have to use your firearm to defend your life or others, it’s going to be a chaotic time. You need to know what that feels like and how your body reacts to stressful situations.

You need to master the basics of firearms usage down first; after that, it's time to advance to training while stressed. How you respond under extreme pressure may be the deciding factor as to whether or not you want to take on the huge responsibility of carrying a firearm.

JA: As a segue, please discuss how to prepare your body to focus your vision, calm breathing, and concentrate in order to place a bullet on target... while in this adrenalized state.

MH: How does a musician make it to the stage at Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice.

There are classes available all over the country to help you train for just this. As a beginner you always want to do your training under the watchful eye of an experienced coach. Sure there are YouTube videos and DVDs available, but to get the full benefit you need to have an external force (an instructor) pushing you and teaching you right from wrong.

Once you’ve taken some training from a professional instructor, now you need to follow my forth rule and “Retain” what you have learned. A great tool I was introduced to for home/office/gym training is the SIRT Pistol by Next Level Training. Our friend Mike Huges (Top Shot Season 3, Owner NLT), introduced this to us in Dallas at the 2013 NRA annual meeting. It is a safe and unique training system that will make your more proficient with shot presentation, target transitions, firearm manipulation, trigger control, as well as reloading skills. Plus it will make you quicker. SIRT uses lasers instead of bullets. Mike even has some workout routines he developed using the SIRT pistol. It makes sit ups fun!

ZS: While in this state your “primitive brain” somewhat takes over and you will follow your instinctual actions. Training for the situation can ingrain the instincts for proper breathing, sight picture, and trigger pull. One theory I adhere to in self defense training is to focus on front sight only. Of course you won’t be a bulls-eye shooter with this method, but you will get hits with center-mass shots.

When we trained at Tactical Response, I was constantly trying to get that perfect site picture which slowed down my shots a great deal. Coach James Yeager kept screaming, “front sight, front sight!” and finally it clicked. After that my shots on target were much quicker. Once again though, to get ready for this adrenaline flood you have to have repetition, repetition, repetition.

JA: What future trends do you see regarding tactical strength and conditioning?

MH: As more and more of the physical fitness aspects of firearms use are being brought to the commercial side of this industry and the importance of personal fitness levels are being emphasized, I predict a trend. We are going to start seeing more gym-like training facilities where physical fitness and firearms training will mesh and people can go to not only get a physical workout but also cross train with firearm systems such as the SIRT pistol. An evolution of safe training equipment dedicated for these new environments will inevitably occur. I also predict that workout clothes, specifically designed for shooters dedicated to physical fitness, will emerge.

ZS: We are already seeing more trends for firearms instructors to utilize more drills that help imitate this state and increase your fitness level. Our good friend and mentor Rob Pincus of I.C.E. Training has even started a fitness program called Fit Shot. It combines “cross fit” style workouts with safe firearms training. In fact we have a somewhat comical video on our YouTube channel about it.

You also have trainers utilizing simunition more often in order to increase that adrenal response. Simunition is ammunition that has gun powder, but paintball-style or non-lethal rounds. So you get the bang but not the, well, bullet. Aaron Cowan of Sage Dynamics has been using them to simulate the sound, recoil, somewhat the feel, and adrenaline that happens in a real firefight.

JA: List the top-ten tactical gear items every prepared citizen should own.

MH: Merriam-Webster defines tactical as an action or method that is planned and used to achieve a particular goal. It's important to be “tactical” for everyday preparedness and for small-scale emergencies, i.e. stranded, car crash, confrontations, power outages, etc.

My top 10 for my Every Day Carry Bag ( EDC), this is what I carry (FYI my bag is a Maxpedition Jumbo Versipack)

  • Two extra mags with ammo for my carry firearm(s)
  • Flashlight (Stream light Protac HL 600 lumens) plus extra battery
  • Basic medical kit (disinfectant, antibiotic ointment, bandages, insta-ice pack, scissors, etc)
  • Water
  • Food (Protein bars usually Met-Rx and/or Cliff Bars)
  • Multipurpose tool (various screw driver sizes, pliers, saw etc…)
  • Knife (tool logic) has light, magnesium fire starter and whistle built in ( I get three needed items in one!)
  • Para cord
  • Writing tools (pen and paper)
  • Matches

ZS: Here's my top-10 tactical gear:

  • Firearm
  • Above-average physical fitness
  • A good solid holster that has good retention, because you may end up upside down and down want the gun falling out
  • Good strong belt
  • A solid pocket knife
  • Reliable ammunition
  • Plenty of practice with your firearm
  • Knowledge
  • A good bag to keep in your vehicle with first aid supplies not carried on person
  • A good pocket first aid kit containing, at minimum, clotting agent, antibacterial, and tourniquet

The chances you ever use your firearm are less than 1%, but chances you or someone else may need supplies from your first aid kit are much higher.

JA: What is the biggest misconception about gun ownership and the Second Amendment?

MH: There are many; but the misconception that really annoys me is the one when people think the Second Amendment was written to protect hunting rights.

The Second Amendment exists to allow people to defend their freedoms from being taken away. You need protection from foreign powers obviously. You also need protection from our own government. The framers of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights understood this and realized that at some point in time we may have to turn our own government back from a path that challenges our freedoms. The possibility of tyranny in all governments was realized and any government can become oppressive if not kept in check by the people. As we all have heard and seen, history repeats itself time after time.

An armed, and physically fit, nation is the strongest insurance that “We the People” have in the protection of our freedoms against foreign and domestic tyranny. It is only our willingness to fight for and defend our rights and freedoms that will keep everyone safe.

ZS: Most common misconceptions with gun ownership: “Gun owners are all paranoid militia members getting ready to overthrow the government.” Most common misconception with the second amendment: “Oh, its only meant for the single-shot muzzle loaders and pistols popular back when it was written."

Actually the Second Amendment was written to give everyone the right to protect yourself with equal force of what is being used by your adversary or a tyrannical government. And to those reading this that say “well, we don’t have a tyrannical government.” I say, EXACTLY!

Also, if there were no government or laws, we would instinctively defend ourselves and loved ones with whatever means necessary, so it is definitely an inalienable biological right.

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