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Organizing Self Defense Groups: Part 3

The Black Panther Party

Republished from the April 18, 1970 issue (vol. IV, no. 20) of The Black Panther.

Editor's note:

In this series of brief articles transcribed and republished from the weekly newspaper, The Black Panther, we hope to provide our readers with a scholarly examination of what the Black Panther Party felt were tried and tested methods of organizing for purposes of community protection and defense in the face of white supremacist terror. In an era of reemergent fascism and a racism so pervasive as to warrant widespread public protest, we feel that it is our duty as activist-minded scholars to make accessible the strategies, tips, and tactics undertaken and sharpened by the Black Panther Party during their struggles against fascistic white supremacy.


Know the enemy. At this point, the pigs have three things going for them:

  • Communication - C

  • Mobility - M

  • Information - I

When planning any operation, the pigs’ C.M.I. must be taken in consideration in planning tactics.

Practice - Practice - Practice - Practice - Practice - Practice

In order to perform well in your work on all levels it is necessary to practice; the more you practice, the better you perform. Don’t think that just because you read something you can do it. You can memorize a book on how to drive a car but until you get behind the wheel and practice you still can’t drive.

The first things to understand before you ever put a round of ammo in a chamber are basic safety rules. 99% of all accidental shootings happen with guns that aren’t “loaded,” and/or by people who say, “I’m sorry, I didn’t know it was loaded.” Therefore, rule number one: the first thing you do when you pick up a weapon is to check to see if it is loaded. Keep your finger off the trigger and follow the following procedure. Point the gun away from an area where someone could possibly be shot, if it is a revolver swing out the cylinder, if it is a pistol remove the magazine and pullback the slide. Even after you have unloaded the gun or see that it is unloaded, treat the gun in the manner as if it were still loaded. Never touch the trigger unless you are practicing trigger squeeze (explanation later), firing on training rounds, or dealing with the enemy. Never point a gun at anyone you don’t intend to shoot. I can’t stress these points enough—they seem simple enough, however, people that generally haven't had any experience with pieces [firearms] violate these rules constantly. If I am ever shot by some idiot, it will be very difficult to suppress the desire to blow his or her head off, providing I’m only wounded.

The next step is to learn to disassemble and assemble your pieces; also, care and maintenance.

Due to the fact that self-defense activity will not be limited to daylight hours, you should learn to break your piece down and assemble it even in the dark. Your life depends on it. So do it.

After you’ve gotten this down, the next step is to learn how to aim and fire your weapons properly. All of this is to be done before you ever get your first round of ammo in the chamber. The first thing to deal with is proper sight adjustment. Sight alignment is lining up your front sight with your rear sight correctly. Your front sight lined up with your rear sight and both lined up on the target is called the “sight picture.” The correct sight picture is, basically, having the front not too high or too low, not to the right or to the left, but having the target resting on top of the front sight. The sight picture will not always appear perfect, but if the correct sight picture is understood, practice will bring improvement.

The next thing to get down with is trigger squeeze. That’s right, you squeeze the trigger, you don't pull it or jerk it, contrary to whatever you saw on TV. Trigger squeeze is a process of putting slow, steady pressure on the trigger until a shot goes off. If you try to anticipate the shot, you will jerk and mess up your aim.

One other thing to watch for is movement of your piece which comes from breathing—which also messes up your aim. One method of breath control is to take a deep breath, let out half of it, hold the rest of it, then begin your trigger squeeze.

It would be ideal if you could incorporate into your group a veteran of the pigs’ military service. Veterans are of great value and assistance in helping with the above training, and also when you are ready to begin practice with live ammunition. When practicing with live ammo, make sure your location is where you won’t be hassled by pigs. Actual combat conditions an be deadly as a training ground. When practicing with live ammo, remember it is valuable. Don’t just start popping caps for the heck of it. The whole purpose is to prepare yourself to be “a Match for One Hundred” which will only come about as a result of correct practice.

One thing to guard against is flinching. Flinching is caused by being intimidated by the sound and kick of your weapons. With proper trigger squeeze and breath control, you won’t have any problems with flinching. If you have problems keeping all your shots in a fairly small group, or if you have a problem just getting your shots on the target anywhere, then you are probably flinching.

The basic thing in the training of members of a self defense group is to know how to handle fire arms of all types—hand guns, rifles, shotguns, machine guns, etc.

The use of different types of ammunition and explosives should be considered also. Part 4 of this series will deal with some recipes.






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