Inside Job

SW-IDPA-Indoor-Nationals-Dan-Burwell-Reloading-Photo-by-Yamil-Sued

Why is no one promoting indoor shooting matches? There’s a few indoor IDPA clubs out there, but there is a serious disconnect between the glitz and glam of the Smith & Wesson Indoor Nationals and setting up an IDPA match at Frank N Bubba’s Indoor Shooting Emporium.

NSSF Rimfire Challenge and Scholastic Steel are supposed to be “feeder” sports into the larger world of practical shooting, but because they shoot steel, they are pretty much a no-go indoors,. This leaves indoor shooters with IDPA and outlaw practical pistol as the models for the indoor matches, which are ok, (but not ideal) for people starting out in practical shooting.And even then, the IDPA Classifier requires 60+ feet of range space to run, something that is not to be found on  most indoor ranges.

How hard would it be for Steel Challenge, et al, to publish a slightly revised version of their match rules that is suitable for a 10 yard indoor range? Instead of shooting steel, why not shoot hanging, self-sealing plastic targets that jump when hit? It won’t be the ping! of a well-placed steel hit, but it be instant feedback, which is the point of shooting steel versus paper.

Consider this: Outdoor shooting ranges are getting hassled from the neighbors about noise and safety, and with “guntry” clubs on the upsurge, where is the future of the practical shooting: On an expansive outdoor public range with four+ pistol bays, or indoors, after-hours at luxury gun club? So why is there one (COUNT IT!) one major match (two if you count the BUG Gun Nationals) that even acknowledge the existence of indoor ranges?

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.

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. 

Reload, review, respond

costa-tactical-reload-

One of the problems with shooting IPDA is that even though they go to some lengths to prevent “gaming” the system and make things more realistic, you know just how many targets you need to engage and where they are the minute you load your weapon to start the stage. 

At least you should, and if you don’t, well, that’s why they invented “Failure To Engage” penalties. 

As such, you know exactly when (or if) you need to reload, and going to slide lock is actually a desirable thing because it’s faster in IDPA to reload an empty gun than it is to top off a partially loaded gun. 

This has a pretty big potential to create some training scars, because even though the odds of we civilians running into a half-dozen attackers is very, very small, we want our training to be up to the task if we need it. 

A comparison: While I was, (and am) not satisfied with the training I received at Front Sight, the shoot-house scenario they ran was interesting and eye-opening. As the amount and location of bad guys were unknown to me, so was my “stage strategy” and possible reload points. I ended up doing pretty well in the scenario (including a 7 yard shot on the hostage taker that went right thru the bad guy’s right eyeball), and I credit my background in competition for not getting the shakes and allowing me to make the shot when needed. 

So what is the point of a tactical reload? Why do people who don’t wear uniforms and/or badges need to do one? More thoughts on that subject over at the Osage County Guns blog.

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.

The World Shooting Championship! (or at least our version of it)

Muhammed AliI used to be a big, big fan of boxing. I was not a big fan of Mike Tyson, to be honest, but I respected his talent, and I also respected the fact that when he fought, he fought for ALL the titles.

Then Riddick Bowe walked away from the WBC title and we’ve got the current hodge-podge of belts and titles and champions, and I don’t have the time or energy to keep track of who’s the champion of what.

Which brings me to the shooting sports. The World Action Pistol Championship wrapped up last weekend, with Doug Koenig and Jessie Duff winning the Men’s and Women’s overall championships.

World Action Pistol Championship is is NOT the World Shoot, which is NOT the IPDA Worlds, which is NOT the World Shooting Championship, and none of this has anything to do with the ISSF.

Got that? Me neither.

Well-rounded, well-armed

Armed Culture did a great little post on finding good gun advice, and I like this part in particular: 

The four factors of expertise

#1. Breadth of experience.

A guy who has one brand of wine that he drinks is not a wine expert, even if he drinks a lot of wine. Taste only comes with broad exposure. When someone tells you that a product is good, always ask, “Compared to what?”

The typical gun reviewers who lack in this area are military and competition shooters. Many servicemen have extensive experience with the weapons provided to them by the government. But they know little to nothing about the wealth of options available in the civilian world. If your dad got you into sporting clays as a kid, you might be an Olympic class shooter… but that won’t make you an authority on handguns or rifles, or even hunting shotguns.

After reading that, I realized why I was going for “a mind of many things” approach to my journey through firearms culture. I will listen to anything that Rob Leatham or Angus Hobdell have to say about USPSA, but I wouldn’t go to them for rifle advice. In the same manner, I know people who can bust clays with just their mind (and a shotgun), but know diddly about handguns. 

I want to know enough to speak rationally on most gun topics, and I want to be good enough so that when someone says “Hey, do you want to go shoot (insert name of firearms-related activity here)?”, I know I’ll be good enough to enjoy it and have some measure of success at whatever it is. 

As I’ve said before, life is too short to shoot just one gun.