Visual Clues


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.

Couldn’t agree more.

John van Swearigen makes the same point that I’ve been saying for a while: There is no dividing line between “tactical shooting” and “competitive shooting”, there is your ability to make the shot on-time and on-demand, or not. 

As a portion of the shooting community, advanced competitive shooters can generally run any given firearm (more) proficiently than their peers. No, they may not have a tactically sound or particularly defensive mindset, but they can drive their gun like they freaking stole it. Everyone that shoots (especially those that count on their firearm to defend themselves and others) can learn something from that. 

The biggest difference is the way the best competitors practice. They don’t just drill shooting positions or situations. They drill the very basics of firearms manipulation to an excess. Dry-firing. Reloads. Drawing to a sight picture. It is not unreasonable to claim that the best competitive shooters can shoot weak-handed while moving with a higher degree of proficiency than the average patrol officer can shoot two-handed.

The ability to make the shot should be first and foremost in ANY firearms training class, be it tactical or competitive. All that stage planning, all that practice with tactical reloads, all those times getting quickly into (sub)urban prone means SQUAT if you shoot slow and inaccurately, and sonuvagun if the “balance of speed and precision” I learned in Combat Focus Shooting isn’t pretty much the same as what I learned training with Rob Leatham. 

It’s almost as if there’s not real secrets to this, just stuff we need to re-learn from time to time.

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 Whole (Sight) Picture.

I first heard the phrase “gross motor skill” in my first NRA class. The idea was that dropping the slide on a reload by racking it was a gross motor skill and therefore better to do under stress than the “fine motor skill” of hitting the slide release lever. 

The instructor then proceeded to spend HOURS on the importance of a smooth trigger press to insure accurate hits on target. 

So “gross motor skills” are good and should be done whenever possible, except when they can’t. 


Why not ditch the idea that some physical movements are more “tactical” than others, and see the process of putting hits quickly on the target under stress as an integrated whole? 

More thoughts on this over at the Osage County Guns blog.

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

Muhammed AliI used to be a big, big fan of boxing. However, 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.

More about double action triggers

Last weekend after we taped another gunsafe versus nightstand test, my Teamgunblogger co-bloggers and I wasted some ammo practiced with a variety of guns by shooting at a couple of plate racks. 

Honestly, if I had one and only one target to shoot at for the rest of my life, it would be a plate rack, because it offers a chance to work on speed, precision and transitions with every shot. We shot at the racks with a bunch of different guns, including a stock LC9, my quasi-tricked out Shield and Robert’s über-schweet XD-M.

LC9 and XD-M

Something happened that I found very interesting: Jaci and Robert are both excellent shots and beat me like a rented mule in shooting competitions as of late, but when it came to clearing a plate rack with the less-than-optimal trigger on the LC9, I beat them, (and handily too, I might add…). Why? I think it was due to the fact that I was used to the long double-action trigger pull because I shot CZ’s and they weren’t. Shooting a DA/SA gun on a regular basis has made me a better shot with guns that I don’t normally shoot. 

Now there is nothing wrong with tweaking your striker-fired gun down to less than a four pound pull, and heaven knows the trigger on a 1911 is one of the Eight Wonders Of The Gun World, but spending a lot of time shooting guns set up for optimal performance put my co-bloggers at a disadvantage when it came time to shoot a sub-optimal gun. They’ll still beat me in the next competition we shoot (like they always do…), but it’s nice to know that I have a few tricks up my sleeve for when I really need them. 

10 things I wish someone had told me about guns

  1. Buying the gun is the cheap part. Feeding it is the expensive part.
  2. Accessory availability matters. I love my CZ’s, but there’s just not the range of add-ons for it as there is for a Glock or M&P.
  3. It’s okay to take a LOT of time before buying a gun.
  4. Spending $100 in ammo on a rental range saves you a lot more money in buyer’s remorse.
  5. Unless you’re a collector, never buy Generation 1 of any gun.
  6. When going to the range for the first time, go with someone who has been there before.
  7. Ask stupid questions. It avoids stupid mistakes.
  8. Gun store clerks know which guns make them money and which guns they like, but not necessarily the best gun for you.
  9. Buy enough gun to stop a threat, but also buy something you’ll enjoy shooting regularly. Defensive guns should not be set in a “In case of Emergency, Break Glass” case, but need to be practiced with on a regular basis. 
  10. No one told me practical shooting was so much fun. I found out that for myself the first time I tried it.

Five Things I’d Change about Česká zbrojovka Uherský Brod

CZ's are hipster gunsOr CZ, as some call it. 

I like Ron’s idea: What five things would you change about your favorite gun company. George Hill’s already talked about Sig, Ron’s talked about Smith and Wesson, and I’ve been tasked with talking about CZ. 

I wonder why…

I’m just going to talk about their pistols, because a) that’s what George and Ron mostly talked about and b) I kinda like what CZ is doing with their shotguns and rifle lines right now.  
Ok, so what five things would I change about CZ-UB/CZ-USA? 

1. Get into the concealed carry market in the U.S. in a serious way 
Czech citizens can get a permit to carry a firearm for personal defense MUCH easier than most of their European cousins, so you’d think that CZ would catch on to the idea that American civilians buy more guns than American policemen do. 
And you’d be wrong. Their are two problems with carrying a CZ concealed: Width and weight. The width is because of their unique slide design and a wide CCW gun is an awkward CCW gun. The weight is because CZ likes big metal guns. I like big metal guns too, but they weigh more that plastic does, and even CZ’s polymer P07 weighs a third of a pound more than a Glock 19. A stack and a half polymer gun that holds about 9+1 rounds and is under an inch wide would fill this niche nicely.

2. Support the P07 with more aftermarket parts
I don’t have much of a problem with the P07′s 8+ pound double action trigger pull, but I’d LOVE to have factory parts to take that down a pound or more, along with more of the wiz-bang features that M+P and Glock owners have gotten used to. Speaking of which…

3. Realize there are other practical pistol sports besides IPSC and USPSA. 
I shoot my P07 in IDPA, and it’s kinda like being the turd in the punchbowl in the world of CZ competition shooters. CZ was a sponsor of the IDPA Nationals and there are Dan Wesson 1911′s that are great for IDPA CDP and 3 Gun, but a little ESP love for IDPA would be muchly appreciated.

4. Work on reliability
This is your Achilles Heel. Whatever it takes, be it Six Sigma or whatever processes there are out there (Ron’s the procurement guy, I do marketing…), do it, even if it means another $25-$50 per gun. Realize that reliability in an IPSC match and passing a 2000 round challenge are two different things.

5. Get the word out. 
Look, you’re not going to match the marketing budget of the big guys, so get smart about things. Leverage social media and new media like your company’s life depends on it. Make Hickok45 your new best friend. Give away a gun at Gunblogger Rendezvous. Give a CZ75 Compact SDM to Todd Green to test next year: He hates CZ’s, make him eat his words.*
Your goal should be to get people talking about your guns in the context of something other than USPSA/IPSC, but still sponsor at least one stage and/or Division at the World Shoot this year to stay true to your roots.
Realize your competition in the U.S. is Sig, not Glock. Go for the high end, the luxury brand image. Become the BMW to Sig’s Mercedes, because you’re not going to beat Ruger on innovation, Glock on ubiquity, Smith and Wesson on “Not Glock” or any of those three on price. If Taurus can re-shape their image by hiring a top-notch competitor as a spokesperson, re-brand your image as well. Why not hire Travis Haley or Larry Vickers to talk about how so many cops and anti-terrorism teams around the world trust their lives to CZ’s. 


* Notice that I held back from saying “And give free guns to bloggers who talk about CZ all the time?” That’s because being more self-restrained was one of this year’s New Year’s Resolutions. But hey, free guns are ALWAYS welcome here!