Review: The Book of Two Guns, by Tiger McKee

Review: The Book of Two Guns, by Tiger McKee

In the wake of a personal tragedy, Tiger McKee set off on a journey. The Book of Two Guns took grew from there.

It’s called a musha-shugyo by Japanese marital artists: a training pilgrimage to master your discipline. McKee’s goal was mastery of the shooting arts as applied to combat and self-defense, which he presents as a martial art. The book began as a training journal, and grew into a detailed presentation of weaponscraft.

There’s a lot to learn from this work. McKee’s approach is grounded in the fundamentals: body mechanics, human physiology, the subtleties of sight and hearing. While McKee focuses on the titular two guns–the AR15 and the M1911–most of what he presents is applicable to any weapons system. He especially notes the applicability to shotguns, an overwhelming common home defense weapon.

This is not a book aimed at competition shooters, although I suspect many of them would find its lessons useful. It’s about combat, pure and simple, intended for an audience of CCW folks, law enforcement, or perhaps the military. The uses of cover and concealment, the technique of flashlight use, tactical movement, room clearing, and weapons retention are all discussed in depth. The presentation is clear and systematic, each new technique building on previous material. This is truly a martial art for firearms, beautifully realized.

The visuals deserve special mention. McKee’s illustrations are pen-and-ink line art, filling the pages with an austere beauty reminiscent of classical Japanese painting. But they’re more than decoration. The artwork contains the bulk of the knowledge McKee is working to impart, and his use of detail is masterful. Ideas that might be confusing in print are rendered clearly and effectively, making the point easy to absorb.

A great deal of the skills taught can be practiced without weapons. While reading it for the first time, I found myself getting up to run through the techniques of tactical movement. Simple things like the safest way to look around a corner or making best use of a flashlight are vital, and often under-practiced. Here they’re presented clearly and organically as part of the art McKee has developed. Though McKee doesn’t delve very far into this, the text implies that many of these lessons could be incorporated into a hand-to-hand discipline as well.

I should also note that the tactics presented in The Book of Two Guns are designed for a solo operator. Even when discussing how to fight a group of armed adversaries, the assumption is that you’ll be acting alone.  I suspect this is deliberate on McKee’s part: his approach stems from his own solo journey and the goal is mastery of the art for self-defense, not group action. However, readers looking for that kind of thing will need to do some additional reading.

In summary: this is a must read for anyone serious about self defense with firearms. It’s a fantastic reference and a detailed guide to your own training journey. I keep a copy in my range bag–I think McKee would approve.

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