File Under Zen, Moment Of.

zen

I’ve done more thinking about shooting and where I want to grow as a shooter/competitor in the last three weeks than I have done the previous three years. The interwebz are full of people talking about how to become a GM, but there is precious little about how to become B Class or IDPA Expert.

The fact is, if you cure your trigger jerk and stay awake during a stage, you can make C Class. However, B Class and above requires effort, both physical and mental, and that means a) discipline and b) awareness. When I lived in Arizona, I never was able to see where I actually was in the grand scheme of practical shooting because on any given day, I’d be shooting with Rob Leatham or Kelly Neal or Sara Dunivin or Angus Hobdell or another other top-ranked shooter.

It’s hard to get a grasp of your own abilities (or lack thereof) in such a rarified environment: You don’t know how good you really are because even when you shoot your very best, you’re on the tail end of the match results. C Class is supposed to contain the top 40% to 60% of the shooters in USPSA, but it doesn’t feel like that if you’re competing with the top 10% (or better) all the time.

Three things, however, have re-ignited my passion for improving my skill at the shooting sports.

  1. Having the chance to step back and become the local hot shot at the top of the leaderboard for any given match has given me the chance to put what I’ve learned in context with the sport as a whole. Being C Class in a world where almost everyone is A Class or above means you suck. Being C Class in a world of D Class (or worse) shooters means you’re the top gun.
    This can have a marvelous effect on your self-image. :D
  2. On a related note, taking a breather in the action has given me time to think about where I am and where I want to be, and more importantly, what I need to do get there.
  3. I’ve been playing around with a Sig Sauer light/laser combo on my P07 (more on that later). Having a laser on my dry-fire gun has significantly increased my passion for dry-fire practice, as it gives direct 1-1 feedback on how my muzzle is moving (or not) during the trigger pull.

When I first started this blog, it was called “The Quest for C Class” because that’s what my shooting goal was at the time. I’ve made that goal (and then some), but the quest continues.

Stay tuned.

Update: As I said on Facebook, one thing that popped up right way while doing dry-fire with a laser is how the gun moves during one-handed shooting. I’m finding that if I add a little more bend to my elbow and curl my thumb down a bit more compared to where they are with a conventional, thumbs-foreward grip, the gun moves MUCH less during the trigger pull, making for faster and more accurate shots.

The Balancing Point of Speed And Precision

innovativeOnce you get beyond curing your trigger jerk and taming the red mist that pops up once the buzzer goes off, you’ll hear words like “balance of speed of precision” or “let the target determine the shot” being bandied about in competitive shooting.

That’s nice, but what does that REALLY means in terms of raw numbers? Creating a balance point is easier if there is a goal to strive towards, some kind of hard target to aim towards? (pun intended)

Enter this post at Modern Service Weapons:

I was recently surprised by the insight of a Facebook post on the topic of balancing speed and accuracy in training. Not surprisingly, however, was that it came from my buddy, Shin Tanaka. A USPSA Limited Class Grand Master, gifted machinist, 1911 gunsmith, and contributor to Recoil Magazine, Shin is about as well rounded as they come. His post caught my attention as it quantifies a method of balancing your speed and accuracy when it comes to training. According to his post, using USPSA scoring zones, he uses the point system in USPSA to measure whether or not he is being too conservative or pushing his limits. So assuming 5 points for A zone, 4 points for BC zone, and 3 points for D, and 0 points for a no shoot or miss, Shin uses a percentage score to determine whether or not he is pushing his limits. 93-97% of max score is the goal. Above 97% means you need to push the speed harder, and 93% means you need to dial back the speed.

Ok, chances are it’s not Shin’s idea and this concept of 95% points available was originally written down on a parchment in a monastery somewhere near Higley, Arizona by an acolyte of Saint Enos The First, but it’s new to ME, and it’s something I can use right now to judge when to hit the gas pedal and when to take my time.

Cool.

Out Of Season.

Stage Rifle

I’m experiencing something new out here in the Midwest: An “off season” for practical shooting. In Arizona, you can shoot a match pretty much every day of the week (and twice on Sundays), but here in a small town in Missouri, where snow is lightly falling down as I type this, there is definitely a prime season for shooting and a not-prime season. 

And that not-prime season is now, so I’m spending my time dry-firing, working on stopping and starting my movement, and tweaking my equipment load-out for next year. 

It’s a bit different, because it gives me time to think and reflect on my goals and what I’m going to do accomplish them. There wasn’t really that breathing space in Arizona, because we’d go from Western States to Superstition to stupidly hot shooting weather (but still shooting weather) to Area 2 to SHOT…

… rinse, lather, repeat. 

But having a breather is new to me, and I like it. The trick is going to be spending my time working on my skills these next few months and not just wasting them away playing Combat Mission: Normandy. 

Quote of the Day, 10/07 Edition

rp_Rob_Leatham_image.gif“Anyone who undertakes any kind of serious (competition) training program is going to find themselves as the local hot-shot, unless you live in Arizona.” 

- Steve Anderson

Having gone from the über-competitive realms of Phoenix Rod and Gun and Rio Salado to the more laid-back reaches of central Missouri, I can DEFINITELY sympathize.

Training a trainer

Training at night

I got my NRA Instructor Basic Pistol qual a few years ago, but I never pursued training others because a) the market in the Phoenix, Arizona area was super-saturated with firearms trainers and b) a year after I got my qual, Arizona went to Constitutional Carry and demand for the CCW’s went thru the floor.

However, it turns out that there are very few CCW trainers in my corner of Missouri, so I thinking about hanging out my shingle and start teaching defensive pistol.

But.

I’d like to have some more training in firearms instruction than what just came with my NRA class. I’ve had decent level of training (about 200+ hours as I write this), but only 12 hours of that was how to train others. I’m considering either learning from either Gabe Suarez or Rob Pincus because I like the stuff they’re teaching, but I’m not a fan of building a monoculture when it comes to firearms training, so what other schools are out there that will teach firearms training but don’t involve taking 4 years of advanced-level classes first?

Farewell, Goodbye and Amen.

goodbye

This is my last post on Misfires And Light Strikes. 

No, really. 

Unlike the other Arizona gunblogger named Kevin, I’m not quitting gunblogging. Rather, I’m going to be working full-time in the firearms industry, and sonuvagun if my new employers want me to write for them, not myself. 

It’s almost as if they’re paying me to write for them. Oh wait, they are! 

Buy firearms onlineEffective two weeks from yesterday, I will be in charge of the website for Osage County Guns. Design, marketing, social, blogging, you name it, I’ll be doing it. If you’re on Gunbroker, you already know Osage County Guns: They’re one of the top five sellers on that site, and now they want to move out into online firearms sales. They run a tight ship and I’m very honoured to have this chance to work with them. 

It also means that over the course of the next month, I’ll need to move myself and my family out to (wait for it) Osage County, Missouri, so as a result there’ll be no blogging for the next two weeks as we go crazy and/or move. 

So that’s it. After almost four years, three SHOT shows, two co-bloggers and an Instalanche later, I’ve joined the ranks of the professional firearm industry and will do more that talk about the business of guns, I’ll be in the business of guns itself. 

Thank you, each and every one of you who took the time to read $#!% I post here. There are so many people I’d like to thank, but to name just a few…

Jon, for being the force that drove the original ExurbanLeague blog into the stratosphere, Steve for being the technical wiz that made it all happen, Jaci and Robert for being great cobloggers and shootin’ buddies, Allen for his industry savvy, Michael for putting my ugly mug on TV, Ron for moral support, Jay for inspiration, Larry for all the cool stuff, Anthony for putting up with my $#!%, Paul for letting me play with the big boys, Jon and Chris for 1st class training, Alf for being the perfect training partner, Danno and Bridget and Thomas and all the other cool Arizona bloggers for being so cool, Unc for the links, Bitter and Sebastian for the knowledge drops, Tam for the smart and the snark, Robb for inspiring me not to wear pants, Breda for just being herself, all of you readers for stopping by, and most of all, my wife, for her endless love and endless patience. 

And so, so many more.

Please stop by the Osage County Guns blog from time to time and see what I’m up to over there, and don’t be TOO surprised if when/if we begin doing things to help out gunblogging community. (Hint: FREE GUNS). 

And please keep doing what you’re already doing. Write. Vote. Take people to the range. If we start to believe that the war for freedom is over, it will be. 

See you at the range! 

P.S. I need someone to pick up the Dead Goblin Count after I picked up from Jay.
He started it, got hired in the industry, I picked it up from him, got hired in the industry. Now I’m not say that if you take it over, you’ll get a job in the gun biz, but the odds are in your favour… :D 

If you want to pick it up, email me at kevin at exurbanleague.com and I’ll see that the word gets out. 

A Mostly Personal, Partly Tactical Defense of Open Carry

rp_open_carry_bg-349x500.jpgTake a minute to read this story that popped up for the weekend on open carry. No really, go ahead, I’ll wait. It’s pretty good, and based on Chris’s experience, he’s not wrong. 

But what he’s experienced isn’t the whole of the open-carry experience.

I’ve started to open-carry on the weekends when I can and I encourage others to do so whenever and wherever they can as well. I don’t think there’s much daylight in between Chris’s position and mine on this, and I think his suggestions against open carry are valid concerns. 

But. 

Without a long history of open carry laws in our state and people who safely do so, Arizona would not be a “Constitutional Carry” state right now. As I’ve said before, out here, open carry is No Big Deal, so my perspective on the issue might be different from someone living in a state where it IS a big deal. 

Personality, as Jules Winnfield once said, goes a long way, and as a policeman, Chris knows this. A scary cop makes cops seems scary, but a polite, friendly cop makes people trust the cops.

This is even more true with open carry, because someone with a gun on their hip who isn’t a policeman doesn’t have the innate trust factor that a badge provides a cop. If you carry openly (and you want to do so in the future), you must (and I can’t say this strongly enough) must GREATLY exceed the standards of politeness, courtesy and friendliness of your community. This is where Starbucks Appreciation Day got it wrong: No one likes their property to be used for activists of any stripe without their permission, and that’s why Starbucks Appreciation Day backfired on us.

Well that, and lousy coffee. 

With regards to weapon retention and open carry, I agree that it’s MUCH easier to take away a gun you know about than one you don’t know about.

Duh.

I’m not 100% satisfied with my open carry holster of choice, but I need more training on that so I can make a more-informed choice of holster for open carry and find one that looks good and keeps my gun where it should be until I need it before I buy another holster.

When it comes to any tactical disadvantages/advantages of open carry, I’ve never considered open carry to be an effective warning to Bad Guys, because if I’m somewhere that open carry CAN scare away a bad guy, I am in the wrong place. It’s the cop’s job to walk the streets chasing away crime, not mine.

With regards to this paragraph, 

“Watch videos of convenience store robberies; you rarely see a robber watching his back, or securing customers. Most robbers quickly scan their surroundings for cops or other immediate threats, go to the counter, produce the gun, get what they want and run. If I’m regular Joe in the background, I can draw and make my move when I have the element of surprise.” 

If the bad guy sees a cop or other threat like an open-carrier, what do they do? Turn around and walk out. Problem solved. If the robber sees me but doesn’t see the gun (a very likely occurrence), he’s going to be just as surprised by my reaction when open carrying as if I was carrying concealed. Open carry neither improves or detracts from my safety in such situations compared to concealed carry, and I’ve always considered the deterring effect of carrying openly to be greatly overblown.

As I said in the outset, open carry is normal and accepted in Arizona, but without people who regularly carry sans concealment, it wouldn’t be. If we ourselves make carrying a gun openly A Big Deal, it will be A Big Deal to others. If we make it as natural as wearing pants, it’s no big deal for others. If we want to have a choice about how we choose to defend ourselves, we need open carry to become as boring and no-stress in the rest of the country as it is here in Arizona. However, that won’t happen without polite people openly carrying a firearm in a low-key, polite and casual manner. I really like having a choice as to how I carry my gun, and I want others to have that choice as well, because having choices is what freedom is all about.

Lower For Hire

Speaking of that Fealty Arms Lower, I know have an extra one hanging around, or at least I will when my 80% lower FINALLY ships. I’ll use the Fealty lower to build a lower for my long-range gun, and the CavArms lower is now dedicated to my CMMG .22 adapter and my 3 Gun AR is just about where I want it (I do need to swap out the handguard and gas block on it), so I actually don’t actually have a need for another AR-15 right now. 

I know, since when does need have anything to do with guns? 

I’m leaning towards making a 9mm “pistol” out of it via a Sig Arms brace, and a pistol 9mm upper, but what would you suggest?