You Know What Happens When You Make An Assumption?

You make an ass out of “u” and… mption.

Ok, that didn’t work.

I shot a lightweight, casual indoor match at Naples Gun Range on Tuesday, and I was unpleasantly surprised by how much I sucked. I shot it with my carry Shield, and I was slow, slow, slow. I made up for it, though, with a lack of accuracy.

While I am in no ways satisfied with how I did there. However, it points out that, despite my confidence with this gun, I need a LOT more practice with my Shield, and I also need to take it to a gunsmith because it is not locking back on the last shot.

Look, if Michael Bane can trip himself up with some assumptions about his carry gear, so can I. Fortunately for me, all I need to do is head to the range more often, not subject myself to physical therapy multiple times each week.

I’ll take it. Yes, it sucks knowing I have such a long way to go, but it’s better to find out I suck now than find out when I’m on a two-way range and the stakes are much higher than a match win.

Also, this was first time I shot a match indoors, and I recommend everyone who’s serious about this sort of thing try it at least once. The physicality of shooting indoors, where you feel the muzzle blast as well as hear it, brings a new level of awareness to what’s going on. The odds are very, very slim you’ll be on a pistol bay when the balloon goes up, and if you are, brother, are you at the wrong shooting range!

Double The Action, Double The Fun!

Wait, that headline sounded like an advertisement for a Nevada bordello…

One of the things I learned in my Leatham class was what actually makes up a good practical shooting / combat trigger press. It’s not “riding the reset” or what have you, it’s having the sights on-target when the bullet exits the barrel. A good trigger press affects that because it is the last major (relatively speaking) motion that is made to the gun before the bullet exits. If, say, scratching the roof of the your mouth made more of a difference in accuracy than a trigger press, we’d be talking about our lingual dexterity rather than trigger weights and shapes.

But it’s not, so we don’t.

There are four parts to pulling the trigger and making the gun go BANG!: The press, the break, the overtravel and the reset. Of those four, only one (the press) affects accuracy, so that’s the one that matters. In general, a shorter, lighter trigger is better for accuracy than one that needs more ooomph to pull and takes longer to get there. However, a good shooter can shoot ANYTHING and get his or her hits.

Take a look at Rob shooting a 1911, and watch as his finger comes OFF the trigger at 0:16 or so. We’re told that’s not a good idea. We’re told to ride the reset. And yet somehow, Rob makes it work, and wins championships with what he’s doing.

Rob shoots a striker-fired gun quite well. He shoots revolvers well. He shoots 1911s well. He shoots everything well, because he is in charge of the trigger and doesn’t get bogged down in minutiae. If controlling a double action/single action gun is causing you to think you’re not accurate, you’re right, you won’t be. Unlike Chris, I don’t carry DA/SA guns because of safety reasons, I carry ’em ’cause I like ’em, and I’ve never seen the DA/SA trigger as that much of a problem.

And it isn’t.

 

Obscured Sight Picture

This is why you train with someone who know’s what they’re doing:

I ran through a quick drill with my P07 at the Shoot N Scoot event back in April, and part of the course of fire for that drill was some 40 yard A/C zone steel plates. I had a more-difficult time than I expected hitting that plate, and Jeff Street suggested that the problem might be that my eyes were shifting to the target at the last second.

He’s right, and it took a 3rd-party, someone who can diagnose the problem, for me to understand what’s going on.

I have yet to find a sight setup for the P07 that I like. I bought one of the earlier “Duty” versions of the gun, so it came with sights that mimicked Glock sights (which is kinda like wanting to mimic the singing talent of Justin Beiber). I swapped those out for Meprolight tritiums, but because them suckers have a narrow rear notch and a rather huge front blade, I am still having issues isolating on the front sight during a course of fire.

This is where being a special snowflake and shooting a gun that’s not a Glock, S&W or Sig really hurts. If I shot a Glock, I’d drop a set of Sevignys on that gun in a heartbeat, I really like them. However, the P07 wasn’t really supporting by anyone, not even CZ, until the creation of the “Carry Optics” class in USPSA. Now I can find all manner of red dot accessories and suppressor sights for that gun, but there’s still only one or two options for fiber optic sights, and just the Mepros for night sights. I do love me my CZ’s, but that love comes at a cost.

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.

gator