Ok, Mike, Let’s Talk About Production

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.

Hi, Mike, We Need to Talk

First off, kudos to you for doing what needs to be done and firing Kim Williams. I don’t know the details of what really went on, but I do know how easy it is for a non-profit to spend money in a very unwise manner, so congrats for bucking up and tossing out the dirty laundry.

Secondly, it looks like you’re finally doing something about the antiquated, insecure website, so again, kudos, and I also heard on the grapevine that USPSA will be shown this year on some TV shows where they haven’t been shown in quite awhile, and that is also a good thing.

Let’s talk a bit more about media and USPSA. Ever looked around at a major match, Mike? Ever notice what’s missing? I see teenagers at big matches (some of whom are disgustingly good) and I see old farts like myself, but what I don’t see is twenty-somethings, kids who have spent their entire adult lives running around and shooting things in a virtual, online world, but somehow don’t show up to run around and shoot things at a USPSA match.

And that’s got to change. Scholastic Steel is a good entry sport for practical shooting, but because it uses steel targets, it’s a sport that can only be done on a pistol bay outdoors. This is silly, because today’s gun owners are urban, and that means their access to outdoor ranges is shrinking, not growing. Come up with something that can be shot on an indoor range in two hours with 50 rounds of ammo, and watch as people flock to your sport. It’s also a sport where kids stand and shoot things, but you know what kids like to do? Run. They run a lot, they move a lot, and unlike people my age, they don’t complain about their joints after they’ve stopped running. USPSA was dissed (that’s a word kids use still, right?) when it was starting out as a dangerous sport because people RAN with guns in their hands, and now, to get people interested in it, we have people stand (not run) with guns in their hands.

Bor-ring. Get something together that gets movement in the act, and we’ll talk tomorrow about divisions, ok?

See you then.

When Robs Collide

Well now this is interesting.

Teaser: “Worlds Collide” Video Series with  Rob Leatham for Personal Defense Network, sponsored by Springfield Armory

Rob (Pincus) is not a fan of competition shooting as training for self-defense (to say the least) and Rob (Leatham), is a tremendous competition shooter and is an advocate for good pistol work first, no matter what the environment.

Actually, having trained with both Robs, I think there’ll be more overlap than most people realize. For all of Rob (Pincus)’s complaints about gaming, the pistol work he teaches in his classes is essentially what Brian Enos wrote about lo these many years ago, just applied to defensive training, not competition training.

When Brian was competing alongside Rob (Leatham).

If this means more acceptance of “gamer” techniques inside Rob (Pincus)’s very successful Combat Focus Shooting courses, good. Such a thing can only help the gun community as a whole, because it will help tactical guys make the shot on-demand, and it will open up competitions to a new crop of tactards competitors.

I kid. I jest.

I’m rather curious to see how this turns out. My philosophy, I believe, is more like Rob (Leatham)’s: There is shooting, and then there is everything else. All the form, all the moves, all the posturing in the world means SQUAT if you can’t hit the target on-demand when it’s needed the most.

To be honest, Rob (Pincus)’s comments about “choreographed” stages confuses me a bit. Sure, we make a plan when we go to a stage at a match, and if we’re really good (and lucky) we execute that plan as we imagined it. However, more often then not, we bobble a reload or take twice the rounds we were planning on to clear a plate rack or go ZOOMING past an open port and we have to re-think our plan right quickly, on the fly and in front of our friends.

I’ve shot the Figure-Eight drill that Rob (Pincus) talks about, and it’s a good drill. I’m also, if I might brag a bit, quite good at, because I’m used to things falling apart all around me while I have a gun in my hand, and the Figure Eight is all about making snap adjustments on-demand and shooting in an ever-changing environment. The Figure Eight is a good drill, but it is not preparing us for a chaotic event. Chaos happens when plans fall apart, not when there is no plan to begin with.

Which is exactly what happens on almost every stage of a match. It’s not the perfect execution of a stage plan that makes a competition shooter a better shooter under stress, it’s the ability to recover and execute a half-@ssed plan, on demand and under pressure, that makes competition shooters better shooters under stress. Every match, every stage, every time we step up to the line, SOMETHING changes, and we learn to adapt to the changing situation and come out ahead.

Bonus quote:

“The reason the American Army does so well in wartime, is that war is chaos, and the American Army practices it on a daily basis.”

– from a post-war debriefing of a German General

“But I Qualified!”

A great take on why competition will NOT get you killed on the streets, over at PoliceOne.com.

“No one will argue that a race car driver driving a specialized vehicle at speeds in excess of 160 mph will probably still outperform you in a street car. A skilled MMA fighter with some tactical street sense will outperform the average Joe in a hands-on street fight as well.”

Well duh.

Courtesy of Phil Wong from Gator Farm Tactical.

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.


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.