Games without frontiers

Or, if looks could kill, they probably will.

Matt over at Jerking The Trigger had a good post on how we set our training priorities and how that affects the gaps in said training:

Why do so many shooters emphasize shooting courses and turn up their noses at combatives and first aid training? I suspect most people are more likely to need to know how to use a pressure bandage or throw a punch than to need to draw their handgun in anger over the course of their lives.

Yep. Backup irons become important if you train on a square range in the daytime. Take a night-shooting class, though, and those iron sights mean NOTHING compared to a good weapon light.

Also, think about how competition affects our gear and our training: Maybe one of the reasons why there is very little integrated combatives/firearms training for us civvies is because we haven’t found a way to make a game of it yet. The Greeks figured out 3000 or so years ago that if you make a game of war, you get better at war, and USPSA and IDPA are capitalizing today on what was learned on the slopes of Mt. Olympus long ago.

We’ve yet to apply those same ideas to combatives / firearms training for civilians, and when we do, then the idea that just having a gun won’t be enough will REALLY take off.

Let Me Tell You How To Save Your Life

My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.” 

– 1 Corinthians 1:11-12, NIV

Grant Cunningham asked a great question last week, (as he is often wont to do).

What’s with all the infighting in the defensive shooting world?

Stick around the defensive shooting world for any length of time and you’ll discover partisanship that makes national politics seem tame. Where do these squabbles come from, and what can you do to avoid them?

His points were made about training in context, about law enforcement training versus military training vs. training for armed civilians, and his points are very, very valid and very insightful.

But.

I think there’s higher form of infighting going on here. As defensive firearms instructors, we are doing nothing less than helping people save their own lives and the lives of the people they hold dear on the absolute worst day of their lives.

As Marty McFly might say, that’s heavy.

A good instructor will understand what that means and integrate it into his training, and that level of seriousness will percolate down into other things. What once was a pastime can become a mission and a passion, and that can lead to a clash of egos.

I’ve seen this passion before, and it can be a force for good, or a force that destroys lives. I worked for a half-dozen years in the faith-based non-profit world, and I worked every day with people who were a) trying to save the world and b) felt they were called by God to do so.

To be fair, there is/was some amazing work being down by these people because of their passion: When you clean out the internal parasites in the population of an entire sub-Saharan country, that is nothing but a good thing. But that same drive, that same sense of a higher calling led to some EPIC clashes of egos that no amount of lip service to humility and “unity of the brethren” could heal.

Keep your eyes on the prize. Is your goal an informed, equipped and prepared student, or an acolyte and evangelist for your training? Are you selling your students a lifestyle, or a training plan? What is your goal, more people who think like you, or more people who can take care of themselves?

These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us,on whom the culmination of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!

– 1 Corinthians 10:11-12

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.

Tracked and Targeted

mental_toughness“90% of the sport is mental, and the other half is physical.”

– Yogi Berra

Thinking a little more about this post on the mental game of the shooting sports:

  1. I’m fairly happy that I aimed for middle of the pack in my last major match. Based on my level of training and practice, I thought that a reasonable goal for the match was to place in the middle of the pack in Tac Limited, and doggone it if that wasn’t where I placed.
    What this tells me: I have a reasonable grasp of my ability and what I can do on any given day, which helps me set training and match goals.
  2. I’ve used my scores in the El Presidente drill as a way to track my progress in performing the basic skills of practical/tactical shooting, namely, target recognition, draw, follow-up shot speed, transition speed from target to target and fast reloads. My best score on this drill has plateaued as of late, but what’s interesting is that my bad times are now MUCH better than they were two years.
    What this tells me: I’m still not as fast and accurate as I’d like to be right, but I’m also more consistent and not so prone to bonehead mistakes.

Yes, I stole the title from new favorite political podcast.

Sue me.

Speaking of CZ…

They’re coming out with a Mil-Spec (-ish) 1911.

cz_1911

“The first CZ-branded pistol to be made in the USA, the CZ 1911 A1 closely resembles the original service pistol, but with a few tasteful changes. Notable differences are the taller, dovetailed sights front and rear, walnut grips and stainless steel barrel. 

Though it looks like an old A1, the biggest differences are the tighter slide-to-frame and slide-to-barrel tolerances, which translate into greater accuracy without compromising reliability.”

First thoughts: Ummn, ok, this is nice… for 2009. However, it’s a little late to the market, and CZ already owns Dan Wesson (who makes some DANDY 1911’s), so why confuse things?

Second thoughts: Why step on the rollout of the Skorpion? 9mm carbines are HOT right now, and it seems like CZ is (for once) ahead of the game with their products.

Third thoughts: Key phrase, “The first CZ-branded pistol to be made in the USA”. Is this the sign of things to come from CZ, like a single-stack CZ75-esque gun for the CCW market that’s made in the USA?

And a quick update: Kudos to Jason and the rest of CZ marketing team for how they’re rolling the Scorpion. Teaming up with new media and Colion Noir has paid off well for them.

Derp Man’s Hand

Let’s do the rundown, shall we?

  • Unsafe gun handling? Check!
  • Tactical beer bellies? Check!
  • Obnoxious hardcore rock? Check!
  • Specialized scenarios disguised as drills? Check!

With a special added bonus: Doing all of that akimbo!!

They do firearms training programs for youths. Here’s a tip, if you let your kids anywhere near these guys, it probably could be considered child endangerment.

Thanks to Grant Cunningham for exhuming this piece of firearms training excrement.

Update: They’ve pulled the video. Dang it, I  knew I should have mirrored it.

Update 2: Found it on Facebook. Enjoy.

Visual Clues

DCP00998

Thinking a bit more about training scars…

How many times do we start a drill / competition stage with an auditory start signal? No matter if it’s at a match or on the training range, it’s either a buzzer or the command of “UP!!” that gets us to draw a gun and start shooting.

But we are sight hunters, and we usually need to back up any auditory signals with a visual confirmation. 

So when was the last time you started a stage or drill based off something you saw, not something you heard? 

Something to think about.

No. Not this.

1346899978_btas-558x348

Found this on a Facebook group that I belong to:

“Imagine you and your family are in a store shopping for whatever reason, that store ends up with an employee that was fired hell bent on revenge, or a gas station where you’re simply grabbing fuel and a soda, all of a sudden it’s being robbed at gun point, well I’m the quiet guy who’s in the isle (sic) next to you who has trained and trained and trained and trained, and guess what I also carry a firearm. I am your silent protector, there’s no police officer there only me, the national guard is not there, only me, not even a Navy Seal team can get there fast enough to save your life. Yet I am there, I am a responsible gun owner with a license to carry a firearm, not only for the safety of myself and my family, but also for you and yours.”

It was meant as a plea to others who don’t believe in the right to keep and bear arms, but it sounds more like Tom Joad delivering a Batman speech.

If I *ever* start to talk like this, reach in to your monitor and gently tap me with a clue bat. I am not a “silent protector”, I’m just some dood who wants to keep on living, no matter what.

Talismans, Curves, Phases and Gates

taurus_curve_20Thinking more about the Taurus Curve, and why it might be a game-changer…

First off, let’s look at what actually happens in a lethal force encounter. Dr. Gary Kleck of Florida State University broke down what happens when firearms are used to defend a life.

  • Fifty-four percent of the defensive gun uses involved somebody verbally referring to the gun
  • Forty-seven percent involved the gun being pointed at the criminal
  • Fourteen percent involved the gun being fired at somebody with intent to stop the threat
  • The offender was wounded or killed in only 8 percent of incidents studied

So shots were fired in only 14% of all the instances that a gun was used in self defense. We scoff at the idea of a gun as a “protection talisman”, but 86% of the time, they are exactly that. At each step along the way, there is a gate that is passed though and closes behind you, and a new phase begins. You can’t go back to a previous phase, because if yelling “Get out of the house, I have a gun” didn’t work, it’s time to move onto something else, and quickly. 

Now there are more than a few people who will read that and say “What? I’d never yell out a warning! It’s not tactically sound! It’ll get you killed!” and there is a grain of truth to what they say. If you’re getting shot at, yelling at people to leave is a very bad idea indeed, but in general, due to the escalating danger to myself and others (and escalating lawyer’s fees…), if I can solve the problem without lethal force, I’m going try to do so.

Let’s pause a moment to think about what sort of things would improve the chances of someone NOT having to put rounds downrange in defense of their life. A flashlight comes to mind, as does a laser, and the Taurus Curve has them both. Huh. It’s almost is if they designed it that way… 

I agree with Tam: A light on your gun is NOT a general-purpose flashlight. However, having gone through a couple of low-light training sessions, a light on the gun is FAR more useful than a light in your hand when you’re thinking about sending rounds downrange.

Just don’t use it to look for your car keys, m’kay? 

It’s that other 14% of the time where the talisman needs to be more than just a comforting presence, they need to be an instrument of lethal force, and it looks like the Curve will work adequately in those situations. Now, would I rather have, say, a full-size M&P loaded to the brim, topped with a red dot with me rather than this gun? Sure, but right now, I have my P3AT with me, not my P07, because compromises. 

The fact is, it looks like the Taurus Curve is a great gun for all the phases of a lethal force encounter up to the application of lethal force, and it’s a pretty good gun for that last part as well. It’s not a gun I would carry, but that doesn’t mean it’s a) a bad gun or b) a gun that other people will carry and use to save their lives. 

The status quo has been shook up a bit. Let’s see what else falls out of the tree.