Why I am not a “sheepdog”

I hate that term, if I’m honest, because it implies that I care about the flock.

I don’t.

I don’t give a… flock about protecting society. I’m armed because I want to protect myself and family from the crap of this world, and if that means a portion of society gets protected in the process, good. If not, well, that’s a question that God and I will have to settle out at a later date.

I can have this attitude because there are actual sheepdogs out there, people who are paid to protect society as a whole, and we lost a good one last week.

Flagstaff police said 24-year-old Tyler Jacob Stewart was following up on a domestic violence investigation from earlier in the day and went to a home on West Clay Avenue around 1:30 p.m.

Police said a man came out of the house and began shooting, hitting the officer in the face. They said the suspect shot at the officer multiple times.

When additional officers arrived, they found the suspect dead of a gunshot wound and the officer wounded.

Stewart was taken to Flagstaff Medical Center in critical condition where he later died.

Police said the suspect, identified as 28-year-old Robert W. Smith of Prescott, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

A coward’s death for a cowardly man. RIP Officer Stewart.

A Year To Remember

long range AR

Wow, what a year.

Right off the bat, I want to thank everyone who stopped by the blog. There are millions of things to read out there on the internet, and I’m always humbled that people consider what I blather on about here to be worth their time.

It’s been quite a year. Being on TV. Hosting an *incredible* SHOT show party. Writing some more stuff for Shooting Illustrated. Training with Paul CarlsonTraining with Rob Pincus. Getting hired to market a gun store. Getting hired to market an even cooler gun range. Shooting rather well (for me) in a 3 Gun match. Shooting at the home of the Bianchi Cup. Shooting my first-ever precision rifle match. Shooting over 60% in a classifier. Starting a dry-fire regime to not suck as much.

Gun wise, things were quiet. I won a lower at Superstition which I turned into a dedicated precision AR (it’s that gun that leads this post), and I bought another lower and a Sig brace from my last employer that will probably turn into a 9mm AR pistol.

Meeting Bob Owens and Katie Pavlich and Chris Cheng and so many, many more cool people. Seeing this amazingly beautiful country. Seeing snow fall once more, and then having the brains to leave it behind for warmer climes. Spending Christmas afternoon on the beach. Worshipping and singing in the choir in a small-town Baptist church of 100 people and a huge mega-church of 1000. It’s been a year like no other, and thanks once again for sharing it with me.

Now, on to 2016!

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?