Book Reiview: The Book of Two Guns by Tiger McKee
by Kirk Lawson
As I've written before, I am a life-long martial artist and therefore the idea of fighting with firearms within the trappings of a martial art appeals to me. The title of Mr. McKee's book is an obvious call-out to Miyamoto Musashi's ancient and revered Book of Five Rings, which is a centuries old classic on Japanese swordsmanship, martial arts, tactics, and combative psychology. It is also a subtle call-out to the practice of Daisho; pairing a short sword and a long sword.
The sub-title of the book is "The Martial Art of the 1911 and the AR Carbine." If that was not sufficient alone to indicate that the book would focus primarily on the 1911 pattern handgun and the AR pattern rifle, all doubts are dispelled with the back cover, where the author specifically writes, "The focus of the book is the 1911 pistol and the AR carbine, although a majority of the techniques included will work with any type of weapon."
There is a forword from none other than Clint Smith of Thunder Range. Mr. McKee has a long relationship with both Mr. Smith and Thunder Ranch.
Both the back cover and an introduction by the author make it clear that, in his words:
"This 'book' was never intended for publication. It started life as a training diary; a way to record material for personal reference. Those who saw the book suggested I publish it. Clint Smith said it should be published with the hand drawn illustrations and writing.
The original was fairly rough and unorganized, so I have copied it in order to put material into general catagories and legible. It is still full of mis-spellings and grammar mistakes but I'm sure you can figure it out."
The above quote is copied verbatim, only transcribing from all-caps to standard lower-case text. It is quite common for martial artists, and many firearms for defense advocates, to keep a training diary and notes for the purpose the author describes. I believe it is a great idea and have notes from many classes stashed in various places in a disorganized mess on my book shelf, hidden amidst my books on martial arts, self defense, weaponry, and firearms.
So let us get the negative out of the way. This is so very very clearly a slightly cleaned up transcription of a training diary that it is almost painful. The author indicates that he put the material into "general catagories" <sic> however it is difficult to tell where one category ends and another begins. There are no chapters. There is no Table of Contents. There is no Illustration Index. There is no Index of terms or concepts at the end. If you look carefully, you can see a flow of concepts, one to the next, but they blend together like white light split by a prism into a color spectrum frequently with no distinct beginning or end. To be fair, he does header some "sections" such as "reloads," "malfunctions," and "transitions." He has portions of the book related to movement. While he does have sections for "tactical movement," and "rapid movement," it is stacked beside "pistol strikes" and then "transitions."
Abandon all hope of flipping to any particular "section" quickly. Remember, it is not indexed. I suggest you invest in post-it style page markers and label them.
As the author noted all of the artwork in the book is his own, hand drawn, illustrations. The author is apparently not a classically trained artist. All of the illustrations are clear and unambiguous. They very definitely show exactly what the author is trying to communicate. However, some of the artwork of humans has slight issues with proportion or other shortcomings, none of which should prevent the reader from taking away the concept being illustrated. For his next edition, I suggest that Mr. McKee find one of his friends who is an artist to redraw the illustrations. I believe that illustrations are superior to photos for these applications and he made the right choice in that.
Moving on to the good or neutral. As mentioned, the author favors the Clint Smith / Thunder Ranch style as a basis for his personal system. This is made evident in the stances he prefers; variants of Weaver / Chapman.
This is also mirrored in his preference for methods of draw and presentation. Understand that there are many different methods of draw and presentation, each with minor variations from each other. For whatever reason Mr. McKee only deals with draw from Open Carry in his book, not from Concealment. This is not necessarily a negative but it does leave material for a second book.
Without a doubt there is a lot of very useful information, concepts, techniques, and tactics in this book. Mr. McKee's information on movement, clearing, positions with rifle and handgun, as well as his variations of loading and reloading are most definitely top notch.
Mr. McKee has some Ready Positions which some in the firearms community disagree with and which others laud. His work on clearing, cornering, and flashlight use is, honestly, refreshing and solid, lacking even a hint of "flavor of the month" to it.
In a short review, I can not begin to cover even half of the material that Mr. McKee expounds upon. This book is chock-a-block full of quite excellent information, a little of which is foundation, some of which is advanced, and the rest somewhere in the middle.
While this book is thorough, it can not be comprehensive of all aspects. That is just impossible, or at least impossible for one book. As I mentioned, Mr. McKee doesn't really address concealed carry. While he does deal with some high percentage techniques for firearms retention, he does not have the room to go into "grappling at the gun." Mr. McKee does have a page or two on striking with the gun, both rifle and pistol, but to give the topic sufficient attention would require a book on its own, before branching into off-hand striking, or empty hand striking against a gun.
While this book does have some issues in terms of organization, it is also dense with solid, workable, material. In my estimation, this book is not intended for someone who has not yet taken the first NRA Basic Pistol, NRA Basic Rifle, or their Concealed Carry class. But it most certainly is for someone who has taken all three, and perhaps a class or two after those.
Would I recommend this book? The amount of yellow highlighter I have generously slathered on passage after passage in this book says, "yes." I know that I will be re-reading this book a few more times to extract nuggets of gold which I missed the first time.
If you have had your NRA Basic classes and your State required concealed carry class, I recommend this book. It is what it is, but if you can spend a little bit of time to learn the order within, this book is very much worth your time.
Get it here at Tiger McKee''s Shoot Rite Academy website, currently for $25: