After Action Report: Bob Vogel World Class Pistol Skills

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.

gator

The End of Yourself

Looking at the video from the match earlier this month, it appear I’ve reached the point where one of my biggest limitations is me and my athletic ability (or lack thereof). My splits are okay, my accuracy is about where it needs to be, and I’m happy with my stage strategy. I’m slow on a stage because I’M slow, which means that the new year will bring foot speed drills, treadmill time and integrating movement in and out of a stage into my practice regimen.

Plus all that exercise will mean I’ll probably live longer. Never a bad thing, I guess.

Match Report, Louland Pistol, 12-17-19

Or, (dry fire) practice makes is making perfect. I shot this match as a test drive for the new CZ75, and aside from problems with one mag, it went pretty well. Let’s roll the tape!

Stage 1: (Not Shown). Traditionally, I’ve sucked on this stage at this match because it’s full of pepper poppers and plate racks. This time, though, I rocked it, posting one of the fastest non-Open runs of the match.
And of course, I didn’t record it. Figures.

Stage 2: Speaking of rocking a run, I’m tickled pink with this stage. Aside from a couple of dropped shots and a rather lackadaisical draw, everything else is right where I want it to be. In fact, when I got to that second-to-last string of three steel targets, I recognized how close they were and put the pedal to the metal, shooting them as fast as my little trigger finger would go.

Stage 3: Again, a rather good stage for me. I stopped when I didn’t need to about halfway through the run to engage a target on my right I could have shot from an earlier position, but that’s about it. My hits were there (2/3rd’s “A’s”, no “D’s”, no misses) and I even managed to spot a problem with the center target in that last group of targets and turn a Charlie-Delta into an Alpha-Charlie.
I’ll take it.

Stage 4: Mag issue. The ammo in my mag had stacked up, and I misdiagnosed the problem as a double-feed. Still a pretty good run, though, even with that and a dropped shot.

Stage 5: I didn’t get a good grip on the gun during the draw, and it affected my accuracy and messed with my head. That mag issue popped up again as well (Memo to self: order new mag springs, stat), but I handled it better this time with a tap-rack-bang. Oh well, if every stage was a good one, you wouldn’t know where to improve.

Overall, I’m happy with how I shot this match, and pleased with the progress I’m making. I see a couple of places for improvement: My draw is slow and my movement is even slower, but those are areas I can tackle in the gym and with dry-fire.

Are You Ready? Stand by. You’re Not Ready? Well, Too Bad for You.

Living in Southwest Florida this past year has made me realize just how good I had it back in Arizona. I had access to the pistol bays at Rio Salado on a first-come, first-served basis, and I could shoot a match every day except Friday. Even in Missouri, I had a range pretty much to myself except for a few days each month and could go shoot anytime I wanted.

Here, however, that’s not the case. The ranges here are either indoor ranges which don’t allow drawing from the holster or they’re outdoor ranges that don’t rent out pistol bays during the day. This means I do a lot of dry-fire in-between shooting matches, and it’s also made me more sympathetic to new gun owners who want to do more with their guns than go to the range and punch holes in paper.

Hunting needs a welcome mat, and so does practical shooting. Participation in practical shooting suffers, I think, because everything about it is driven by competition. You can’t really participate in the sport in any way without going to a match. Imagine how popular jogging would be if the only reason people did it was to run marathons, not get in shape. Thousands and thousands of people ski, yet only a few hundred compete.

Competition is good for long-term participation in a sport: There is really no such thing as competitive scuba diving, and what happens in that sport? The vast majority of people try it, enjoy it, and then give up after two years or so, because there is no reason to push themselves beyond what they already can do. Rob Leatham is trying to solve this with his “Intro to Steel” matches, which are fun, easy and lightweight, but they are still a competition. Here in Southwest Florida, Step By Step Gun Training puts on a bimonthly “shoot and scoot” event, which is a low-key move and shoot event where the RO is there to help you get better, not be an impartial judge and timekeeper. Scores aren’t tracked officially, and it’s quite popular in this small town, with two dozen people showing up on a Sunday morning, paying $40 each. In this neck of the woods, it’s essentially the only time that local people can draw and shoot from a holster without the pressure of a match.

There really isn’t an on-ramp in-between a booth at an indoor range or a stall at an outdoor range and practical shooting. There are very, very few public ranges that allow drawing from the holster, and ZERO that allow moving with a loaded gun: You have to learn how to do that the first day you show up at a match, along with all the other 1,350 rules of the game (triple that number of rules if it’s IDPA). The .22 sports, (Rimfire Challenge, Scholastic Steel) which are designed (in theory) to get people into practical shooting don’t address the issues of movement and drawing from a holster, as they’re essentially bullseye with target transitions. The problem is, anything that doesn’t address carrying your gun in a holster does not address the needs of Gun Culture 2.0. For today’s urban gun owner, who can’t bip out to his backyard and shoot and doesn’t have access to Forestry land or a pistol bay, you either take a class, or shoot a match. There is nothing else set up for regular live-fire practice for drawing from a holster and moving for someone who lives in a city, and that needs to change.

Visual Clues

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?

 

Hunting is May Issue. Practical Shooting is Shall Issue.

Thinking more about last week’s article for Bearing Arms, everything about hunting is about getting past the gatekeepers. You need your safety class, then your tags, then you need to find someplace to hunt or someone to show you where to hunt. There are checkpoints along the way to make sure you’re the “right type of person” to hunt, and even then, you may not get a chance to hunt if you don’t have the right connections.

In other words, “May Issue” concealed carry.

Practical shooting, though, is different. If you have something even close to the right gear for the match and have a basic understanding of gun safety, you shoot. You may have to go through a safety briefing and have a more experienced shooter guide you through the match, but if you show up, you shoot.

“Shall Issue”.

Which path leads to growth? Well, that one’s not hard to figure out.

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Match Etiquette

A great run-down on how not to be a jerk at a practical shooting match.

“The core thing to remember is that most matches only happen thanks to the generosity of time from the volunteer staff. They’re there because they love the sport and want to help others. As long as you respect that, help out, and don’t be a jerk, you’ll be more than halfway to being a good competitor.”

Also, as volunteers, the people at a match love to have new people show up, because the more people shoot, the easier the jobs get for everyone.

Man To Man To Some Other Man

Thinking more about my comment from last week,

It’s rather rare to have more than two shooters with the same Classification/Division on any given squad, making man-to-man comparisons pretty much impossible.

Maybe that’s another reason why practical shooting sucks to watch in person. Yes, there are Super Squads stuffed to the gills with people at the top of the game, but even within the Super Squad, you’ll have Production shooters and Open Shooters and Limited Shooters and even a few freaks shooting wheel guns, so when that squad runs through a stage, at best you’ll have three runs that can be directly compared to each other, and those runs will probably be interspersed between the other ten or so people on the squad, killing the tension and suspense.

Watching, say, Max vs. Chris Tilley vs. KC compete in Open is exciting. Watching Max shoot Open, then Jerry shoot Revolver and Rob shoot Single Stack and Chris Tilley shoot Open and Nils shoot Limited and Phil shoot Limited and THEN AND ONLY THEN watch KC shoot in Open is whole lot less so.