- Buying the gun is the cheap part. Feeding it is the expensive part.
- Accessory availability matters. I love my CZ’s, but there’s just not the range of add-ons for it as there is for a Glock or M&P.
- It’s okay to take a LOT of time before buying a gun.
- Spending $100 in ammo on a rental range saves you a lot more money in buyer’s remorse.
- Unless you’re a collector, never buy Generation 1 of any gun.
- When going to the range for the first time, go with someone who has been there before.
- Ask stupid questions. It avoids stupid mistakes.
- Gun store clerks know which guns make them money and which guns they like, but not necessarily the best gun for you.
- Buy enough gun to stop a threat, but also buy something you’ll enjoy shooting regularly. Defensive guns should not be set in a “In case of Emergency, Break Glass” case, but need to be practiced with on a regular basis.
- No one told me practical shooting was so much fun. I found out that for myself the first time I tried it.
Paul Carlson linked on Facebook to my review of his class with the caveat, “When you read, keep in mind this course isn’t a course in tactics.”
It wasn’t, and if you reader got that impression, I apologize. I don’t ever want to take a “tactical” course, (especially something like this), because a course in tactics means you are learning a planned response to a pre-planned scenario, much like a kata in the martial arts. Kata is good and necessary, but kata is not sparring and sparring is not combat. I’d much rather have the tools to build a self-defense plan that I can adapt to the chaos of the worst day of my life than a “if this, then that” series of preprogrammed responses.
The APH class expanded the range of tools I have at my disposable, but it didn’t mandate a given response to a given situation, which that is a very good thing. The closest I want to get to a class in pre-programmed responses is something like Fred Mastison’s executive protection classes, where I can learn some techniques I can use to protect my family when I am carrying a firearm.
An example: Last week I spent two and a half days in the world of Combat Focus Shooting, training for self-defense with a firearm. There wasn’t a timer to be seen nor a pre-planned course of fire and yet I had a blast. Later that week, I shot a USPSA match at Phoenix Rod and Gun club, where there WAS a timer and a pre-planned course of fire and nary a peep about “getting off the X” or volume of fire.
The skills and mindset transferred over, though. There were several long shots at that match that required a greater degree of skill and concentration than the close targets, and I put an extra round into those targets to make sure I “got my hits.”
See where this is going? Rather than learn something that is applicable only on one range, the training I had with Paul and shooting a USPSA match I shot at night combined to strengthen each other and increase my confidence to defend my life and the lives of my loved ones with a firearm.
Your typical TDA pistol is going to have a first shot double action trigger pull around 10-12 pounds. But after that, all the rest of the shots you fire will be with a trigger pull of about four pounds, maybe five pounds. In other words, after you deal with that first shot, everything is easier than even a stock Glock with standard connector and springs! Even most out of the box 1911′s from major manufacturers like Kimber and Colt have trigger pulls above a typical TDA pistol’s single action.
Something I found out at last week’s Combat Focus Shooting class is that yes, you can learn to shoot a DA/SA gun just as fast (if not faster) than a striker gun. If anything, learning to fire a DA/SA gun makes you a better shooter than learning to fire a striker-fired gun.
Let me explain.
One of the things I’m trying to learn this year is to stop riding the reset on the trigger and shoot more like Rob Leatham is doing in this video.
Rob has won just about every pistol competition there is to win, and yet his finger comes flying off the trigger in this video. Why? Because accurate fire requires a good trigger press to the rear and the key to fast fire is doing everything else fast. Whether you take your finger off the trigger or not doesn’t matter if you’re pressing the trigger smoothly to the rear, and at combat distances, it doesn’t matter much if that trigger press is an 9 pound press or a 4 pound press: A press is a press is a press. If you can shoot a DA/SA fast and accurately, you can shoot just about any gun fast and accurately.
Also, towards the end of the Combat Focus Shooting class, we practiced taking 40 yard off-hand shots with our pistols. I don’t know if it’s because of the gun or the practice, but two of my three shots on the last run thru that drill were combat-effective hits, and had I taking advantage of my CZ’s 4 lb SA trigger pull by easing the hammer back on that was right in front of me, I’m pretty certain it would have been three out of three.
Trying halving your trigger pull on a Glock in a moment’s notice and see what happens.
Is it easier to learn on a gun with a consistent trigger press? Probably. Is a striker-fired gun a more effective fighting tool than a DA/SA gun? I don’t know, I don’t think I’m qualified to answer that question. I do know I have as much confidence in my DA/SA CZ P07 to defend myself and my loved ones as I do my striker-fired S&W Shield, and that’s all that matters to me.
Or, derp sells, but who’s buying?
See this class? This is just the kind of firearms training you don’t want to take.
- Small 30 Person Classes
- Real Training Against Real Opposition
- Taught By An SOF Operator
“Small 30 person classes”?!
BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAA. I’ve taken one class that had 30 people in it with 4 instructors, and quite frankly, it wasn’t worth my time.
Yeah… Thanks, but no thanks.
If you want to pay $500 bucks to spend two days re-enacting the battle of Fallujah, go ahead, there are worse ways to spend your time and money. Just don’t call it firearms training.
Look, I’m sure the operator who’s teaching this class served with honor doing stuff I don’t ever, ever want to (or could) do, but don’t confuse what you’ll be doing with the type of firearms training that’s actually useful for living a civilian in America. Spend it on pistol classes that work for you, not for Seal Team Six.
“Start by realizing that most people who buy a new innovation are not brand new to the market. They buy the new thing as a step up from an old thing. Most hockey equipment is sold to people who already play hockey.
It’s tempting to argue, logically and step by step, why your new product or service is better than the one that’s already on the market. It’s far more likely, though, that your story will resonate most with people who aren’t seeking functionality but instead were happy with the thing they had, but now, thanks to you, believe it has become obsolete. Our neophilia is a powerful desire, and buyer’s remorse is its flipside.”
So I used my teeth to rip a stuck magazine out of my pistol on Sunday. How was YOUR weekend?
I met Paul Carlson at SHOT Show and I’ve listened to and enjoyed his podcast for years, but I’ve never trained with him before. I must confess I had a bit of hesitation going into this class because I have no desire to wrapped up in the Tactical Timmy world. On the other hand, my priority throughout all of this is to keep myself and my family safe. Taking a class on effective shooting with a pistol in less-than-ideal conditions made sense, so I signed up.
“When in a fight, be it by ourselves or with other people around us, as armed citizens we must realize we are the solution the problem.”
The class started off with refresher drills for the skills we learned in Combat Focus Shooting. Almost immediately afterwards, we went to ground, shooting from kneeling, sitting and prone positions, and then went on to drawing from those positions as well. We then moved on to precision shooting under stressful circumstances, strong-hand and weak-hand shooting and one-handeded malfunction drills.
And it was during a weak-handed malfunction drill when I did my orthodontic reload. Was it fun? Yeah, it was really ninja. Was it a skill I needed to learn?
In this class, as in other Combat Focus Shooting classes, the idea behind training on the line is, (I believe) to provides skills that can be adapted to almost any situation and not to set up a scripted response. This is a good thing and I heartily endorse it because it encourages improvisation and adaptability in an inherently chaotic situation like a gunfight. However, it also makes some of the drills appear to be of questionable valuable on the lime. Is there a chance you’ll take a round in a hand in a gunfight? Yeah, a pretty good one, actually.
Think about it: Under stress, we focus on the danger in front of us, and in a gunfight, that danger is the gun. Therefore, rounds are probably going to be heading towards the hand that carries your gun. As well, if your gun is out, your hands are right in front of your center of mass, increasing the chances of getting hit in the hand even more, so learning how to deal with reloads and malfunctions with only one hand is a useful thing.
But you probably don’t want mess with your gun one-handed when facing down your opponents and dancing around like a spastic ninja. Getting your gun into play is obviously a priority when faced with violence, but the five to ten seconds it takes to reload or clear a malf with one hand is something that’s best done under cover or done far, far away from your opponent, not in front of someone shooting at you. The reason why Combat Focus Shooting integrates a flinch and a “Get Off The X” moment isn’t so students will have a perfect high block and sidestep on the range, it’s to introduce the concept that we’ll be startled and may need to move when our life is on the line. It took me a while to integrate that idea with stripping a mag with my teeth, but yeah, if I were hit and under cover or at distance for an attacker, getting my gun back into play (or drawing another one…) is a useful thing to learn.
That’s my only hesitation, however, because everything else in the class was skills that I could immediately see as something that would help save my life or the lives my loved ones. Is there a chance I’d be knocked off my feet during a violent attack? Yes, so I should learn how to draw and shoot from really awkward positions. Is there a chance I’d need to use the ability to hit a small target on-demand in order to make a tough shot to stop a threat? Again, yes.
An unexpected bonus to this class was the presence of Richard, a fellow student who was in a wheelchair because of a traffic accident. Having someone in the class who had to deal every day with the mobility issues we might face during an armed violent encounter brought a new level of reality to things, and I, for one, really appreciated having him in our class. Also, I found it interesting that I was the only one out of ten people who drew from concealment the entire class. None of my fellow students were law enforcement and some were from states where open carry is not allowed. Shooting with a cover garment meant I was slower than the rest, but I figure if you’re going to take an armed self-defense class, it’d behove me to make sure I’m using same the tools and the techniques on the range that I do off the range.
There were three other “ah-ha” moments for me during the class.
The first was after a “flow drill”, where we students to go to our knees, then seated, then back, then knees, then stomach, then up and back again, and a call to make the shot on-target could come at any time during that movement. This was much better than just practicing shooting from your knees, because you never know what position you’d be in when you had to shoot, and mimicked the reactive skills and target recognition we learned during a Figure 8 drill, but applied it to a bunch of awkward shooting conditions. The drill was NOT easy to do (as my knees and calves reminded me a day after the class was over), but it provided more difficult shooting opportunities from weird positions than just shooting from your knees or back alone.
The second was during a long-range drill. We shot at man-sized targets standing 40 yards away with three different stances. First time was using isosceles, and I managed one hit out of three on paper, much less anything in an area where I might have stopped the threat. The second time, we shot with Weaver (I know: A Combat Focus Shooting instructor teaching Weaver. Maybe the Mayans were right all along…), and by changing my stance, I was able to turn out one center-mass hit. The last time was using the Chapman stance, which felt MUCH more stable than the other two, and my results proved it. I dropped one round into the head and another into the chest with this stance and would probably have gone three for three if not for the long double action trigger pull on the first shot with my P07. Knowing that I could make a 40 yard shot if (God forbid) I needed to added new confidence in what I carry and how I carry it.
The third was shooting from a car: Is that something that is possible in my day-to-day life? Sadly, yes, and safely training for such a thing can be a difficult thing to accomplish. Shooting from a car or car-like position is fairly common in competition, but this was the first time I’d actually shot from a car with my daily carry gear and had to deal with seatbelts and the possibility of rolled-up windows. Because we had learned safe gun handling and accurate fire from a seated position earlier in the class, everything came together at once and we were able to train for this potentially life-saving situation quickly and safely in a truly realistic environment.
Unrelated to the class, living in Arizona means living in the center of gun culture west of Texas, and this class proved it once again. On the first day of training at the Cowtown Range, Iain Harrison of Top Shot / Rapid Fire / Recoil magazine stopped by on his way to another bay to test some cool-looking SMG’s. The next day, USPSA Junior champ Christopher Oosthuisen and his equally-talented dad dropped by to see what was going on, followed by Rob Pincus, who casually mentioned that Travis Haley was a few bays over from us. All of this only added to the fun, as did the first-class lunch on Sunday provided by Big Stick EDC holsters.
To sum up, the class was VERY well-run, and everything we learned could be picked up and applied to a variety of self-defense situations. If you’ve been looking for a class to take your defensive pistol skills to a new level, I’d recommend an Advanced Pistol Handling Course without reservation.
I figured I’d collect the photos that I’ve done for the blog and elsewhere in one spot.
I wrote a short piece on disaster prep gear suggestions over at Smart Suburban Survival.
I like Ron’s idea: What five things would you change about your favorite gun company. George Hill’s already talked about Sig, Ron’s talked about Smith and Wesson, and I’ve been tasked with talking about CZ.
I wonder why…
I’m just going to talk about their pistols, because a) that’s what George and Ron mostly talked about and b) I kinda like what CZ is doing with their shotguns and rifle lines right now.
Ok, so what five things would I change about CZ-UB/CZ-USA?
1. Get into the concealed carry market in the U.S. in a serious way
Czech citizens can get a permit to carry a firearm for personal defense MUCH easier than most of their European cousins, so you’d think that CZ would catch on to the idea that American civilians buy more guns than American policemen do.
And you’d be wrong. Their are two problems with carrying a CZ concealed: Width and weight. The width is because of their unique slide design and a wide CCW gun is an awkward CCW gun. The weight is because CZ likes big metal guns. I like big metal guns too, but they weigh more that plastic does, and even CZ’s polymer P07 weighs a third of a pound more than a Glock 19. A stack and a half polymer gun that holds about 9+1 rounds and is under an inch wide would fill this niche nicely.
2. Support the P07 with more aftermarket parts
I don’t have much of a problem with the P07′s 8+ pound double action trigger pull, but I’d LOVE to have factory parts to take that down a pound or more, along with more of the wiz-bang features that M+P and Glock owners have gotten used to. Speaking of which…
3. Realize there are other practical pistol sports besides IPSC and USPSA.
I shoot my P07 in IDPA, and it’s kinda like being the turd in the punchbowl in the world of CZ competition shooters. CZ was a sponsor of the IDPA Nationals and there are Dan Wesson 1911′s that are great for IDPA CDP and 3 Gun, but a little ESP love for IDPA would be muchly appreciated.
4. Work on reliability
This is your Achilles Heel. Whatever it takes, be it Six Sigma or whatever processes there are out there (Ron’s the procurement guy, I do marketing…), do it, even if it means another $25-$50 per gun. Realize that reliability in an IPSC match and passing a 2000 round challenge are two different things.
5. Get the word out.
Look, you’re not going to match the marketing budget of the big guys, so get smart about things. Leverage social media and new media like your company’s life depends on it. Make Hickok45 your new best friend. Give away a gun at Gunblogger Rendezvous. Give a CZ75 Compact SDM to Todd Green to test next year: He hates CZ’s, make him eat his words.*
Your goal should be to get people talking about your guns in the context of something other than USPSA/IPSC, but still sponsor at least one stage and/or Division at the World Shoot this year to stay true to your roots.
Realize your competition in the U.S. is Sig, not Glock. Go for the high end, the luxury brand image. Become the BMW to Sig’s Mercedes, because you’re not going to beat Ruger on innovation, Glock on ubiquity, Smith and Wesson on “Not Glock” or any of those three on price. If Taurus can re-shape their image by hiring a top-notch competitor as a spokesperson, re-brand your image as well. Why not hire Travis Haley or Larry Vickers to talk about how so many cops and anti-terrorism teams around the world trust their lives to CZ’s.
* Notice that I held back from saying “And give free guns to bloggers who talk about CZ all the time?” That’s because being more self-restrained was one of this year’s New Year’s Resolutions. But hey, free guns are ALWAYS welcome here!