Hi Mike, thanks for reading the first part.
You did read the first part, didn’t you?
Let’s chat a bit about Divisions. I’m ok with Carry Optics and, as I’m a fan of pistol-caliber carbines, I also like this new division for them, but let’s face it, Production is broken. Two of the biggest items that comes to mind are,
- Actual guns in use. I love my CZ’s, but really, how often is that gun actually carried? On the other hand, Beretta 92.
- Holsters. I had a rules lawyer try to DQ me for my Blade-Tech dropped offset. Adopt the Single Stack Division holster rules, and that goes away.
- Mag capacity, however, is the biggie. The mag capacity needs to be upped to 15 rounds in a mag to start the stage, effective right now.
I know that upping the starting magazine capacity puts a hurt on shooters in New York, California, and other places outside America, but that’s what L-10 is for. Heck, in Canada, every division except Single Stack and Revolver is a variation of L10 because 10 rounds is the most you can have in a magazine in any pistol up there, competition or not.
Besides that, having to reload between Every. Single. Port. is just silly, especially if USPSA wants to retain some of its roots as a “practical” shooting sport. Looking at how how often reloading is actually needed in a gunfight vs. shooting on the move would be one way to bring USPSA (and IDPA as well) back in-line with what we now know what really happens in a gunfight, thanks to dashcams and security videos.
15 rounds in a mag also updates Production with the reality of guns today. Part of the appeal of the Wonder Nine is lotsa boolits, and enforcing an artificial Clinton-era mag capacity on those guns is silly in today’s post-AWB world. Going to 15 rounds would also align the USPSA Production division more with IPSC Production, something that matters only a few times a decade, I realize, but still, the thought is nice.
Finally, and this is the big one, it would align Production with how people actually buy guns. I ran into this issue last month, taking a new shooter to his first match. He had a Glock 19, four mags, three pouches and a decent gun belt. This is pretty much as good as it gets for the average concealed carrier, and yet, because of the lack of mags and pouches, he shot Limited Minor and placed dead @!$%ing last.
It’s not 1996. There’s not a Clinton in the White House (well, not at this moment, at least…). Stop saddling Production with rules from 20 years ago.
There’s an interesting discussion about moving and shooting going on over at Pistol Forum. Should you scamper sideways and shoot while running almost flat out a la Gabe Suarez, sidestep a few feet a la Givens, or stay in place and make sure all your hits count?
Honestly, I don’t know.
I do know this: Hand a bunch of young kids some water pistols. Tell them that if they get wet, they have to sit out the game for five minutes, then watch what happens. I guarantee you they will be running around willy-nilly for the rest of the game, not worrying too much about putting fluid on-target but rather making not getting soaked their #1 priority.
What this means for innocent bystanders and no-shoots when those water streams turn to lead pellets is another matter, but the point is that our initial, inbred impulse is not to stand like a statue when attacked, but to get out of dodge quickly.
We understand, at a root-DNA level, that movement is life. We know that if we’re not moving, we’re Leopard Chow. We lack the lion’s powerful jaws and the claws of the wolf, but what we have, though, thanks to our two legs and high center of gravity, is the ability to move laterally faster than any other mammal on Earth. We’re still learning how to combine that quick left-right movement with something more formidable than an antelope femur, but we’ll get there.
I hate dry-fire practice with my strong hand only and weak hand only*, because it shows just how much I suck at such things. But I do it. Not as often as I should, but I do it nevertheless. I’m ok with sucking at something for a while if I know I can get better at it with effort and practice. It’s the sucking at something and not improving that I hate (and I do that far too much for my liking).
Which is why I can’t figure out why you wouldn’t want to do a night shoot. There’s a very good chance you’ll need to defend yourself at night, so why not get good at it now, when the stakes are just 17th place in a match, not your life? Better a bruised ego now than deep penetrating trauma later.
*Go ahead. Tell me there’s no such thing as “weak hand”, just “support hand”. I dare you.
The basics: The two day class was held at Altair Gun Club, a private range about 45 minutes east of Naples. The class was nine guys, all older, split about 1/3 each “gamers”, 1/3 professionals (LEO or private security and 1/3 casual tactical learners. All of the students had a lot of previous gun skool, none had any “gamer” classes”.
I was pleased that Bob’s shooting philosophy is similar to mine: Shooting is shooting. Delivering the shot on-time and on-target is the same for tactical as it is competition. The point is to be as fast and accurate as possible in any situation. As for tactics, as Bob says, “Speed is a huge tactic”.
Gear-wise, there were five Glocks, two M&P’s, a Grand Power and me with my CZ’s (Yes, plural. More on that later.). As Bob shoots a Glock and the majority of students in the class shot Glocks, there was at least an half hour’s discussion devoted on how to make a Glock run as fast and accurately as a CZ.
You can’t. Game over. 😀
One thing I did appreciate was looking down the sights of Bob’s competition Glock 34. His sights are a LOT wider-spaced than mine: The rear sight groove is bigger, and the front sight is a mere slip with a small fiber dot. I really liked that idea, as it fits in with the faults I’m finding with my competition guns.
The technique training was solid. As Bob says, “Almost anyone can hold a gun on-target at 25 yds. The trick is keeping it on-target as they pull the trigger”. This dovetails nicely with what I learned from Rob Leatham, so there’s something to be pursued further in my dry-fire along those lines. Bob also believes that “The less the gun moves, the better you shoot”, and that’s what his draw, movement on a stage and grip are based around. He grips the gun with the support hand further out towards the muzzle than most people do with the modern isosceles, and he emphasizes using the meaty part of your thumb on both hands, just below the last knuckle, for controlling the gun movement. He also cants his wrists slightly downwards, allowing for the support hand to grab the gun further out of the frame. That grip, he believes, allows you to get your hands closer to the muzzle and therefore closer to where the recoil is happening.
Also, he believes that people should “pinch” the gun in the holster with the middle finger and thumb versus grabbing it with all three fingers. Pinching relates to a higher grip on the gun and a faster draw, as the complete grip assembles itself as the gun is on it’s way towards the target. Straight left wrist = low hand on gun, cant wrist down. A strong support hand is an essential part of his grip, because the strong hand has to grip the gun and pull the trigger, and the support hand jus grips the gun, so it’s essential for control during the trigger press. If you notice on the video I posted yesterday, his hands are pressing slightly inwards on each other. Torquing them inward like that creates pressure downwards and from side to side, which helps eliminate side to side motion. This also helps press the gun up and right, which works against trigger jerk that tends to push the gun down and to the left.
Another element of recoil control he teaches is grip strength. Bob is a big proponent of the Captains of Crush grip stregtheners, as they helped him, and I’m getting one sent my way to try it out.
To be honest, that was takeaway #1: The physical reality of being a truly great shooter. I got to see Angus Hobdell, Tarn Butler and Rob Leatham shoot many, many times, and no one would ever accuse them of them of being “svelte”. They’re big guys, but they all can move very quickly and explode out of the shooting box when needed. Watching Bob spring from a dead standstill to 6 feet ahead at the drop of a hat was enlightening.
Takeaway #2 was the Bill Drill. To be honest, I had not practiced this drill a lot, but now I see it’s usefulness in finding what you’re doing consistently wrong. If you have an occasional problem with trigger jerk, it WILL show up when you shoot six shots in a row multiple times.
Takeaway #3 was the importance of dry-fire, and practicing measurable things while dry-firing. To be honest, I’d been dry-firing wrong. Having a double-action gun means I can pull the trigger on each target I point my (empty) gun at, but that doesn’t mean I should pull the double-action trigger every time I need it. I’m switching to a true DA/SA trigger practice from now on. True, I won’t have the hammer fall with each shot, but it will be more like the way my gun actually works and allow me to see issues with trigger press and gun movement.
Win – win – win.
Here’s a video of me working my way (slowly) through some of the drills in the class.
This is not a class for everyone; If you’re new to shooting world or haven’t taken a beginning pistol class, take those first ,and shoot a few matches as well. However if you’re ready (as I am) to get really, really good at shooting a pistol under the artificial stress of the range and a timer, this is a great class to help take you to the next level.
And because this was Florida, we had an alligator show up for some free training. He kept to himself, but I wasn’t going to be the one to tell him he needed to wear eye and ear protection while he was watching us shoot.
… but right now, I’m tired, slightly sunburnt and my feet are killing me.
More later. Here’s a video of a Bill Drill at 25 yards to remind us that he’s Bob Vogel, and you’re not.
I’ve satisfied with where my defensive pistol skills are at the moment. Yes, I could always learn more (because I’m not done learning yet), but right now, I want to get better at the “pistol” part of “defensive pistol”, so I signed up for a two-day Bob Vogel class next month.
This is going to be a new experience, because aside from a half-day with some guy you’ve never heard of, I’ve not had any dedicated “gamer” classes: All the pistol training I’ve had is in the context of a self-defense class, so shooting the pistol just to get better at shooting the pistol is something that’s new to me.
Plus I want to make A class this year. That too.
As I was going through a dry-fire run of the IDPA Classifier, a thought hit me. “Self,” I said to myself, “Why I am practicing tactical reloads? When was the last time, Self, you ever saw a tactical reload in an IDPA match?”.
“Good question, Self,” I said, “Let’s ask that to the guys at Triangle Tactical and see what they say.”
Why does every stage we’ve ever shot begin with an audible start signal? How hard could it be it integrate some kind of connecter into a CED (or other) timer that would allow for some shooter-initiated action to start the timer? Humans are not bats, we rely on sight, not sound to get around in our environment. Despite this, every stage begins with “Are you ready? Standby… BEEP!”
What if a stage began with the shooter reacting to a visual signal, such as a random popper falling from a tripwire controlled by the RO or something similar? Where in the rulebook does it say that the start signal always has to be audible?