Getting paid for what you know.

make_readyI had an idea while listening Ben and Luke talk about Apprentice/Journeyman/Master shooters during this week’s Triangle Tactical podcast. Would people pay to have their match performance reviewed/critiqued by a GM level shooter?

Imagine this: You and five other people pay $25 each to shoot on a squad with Rob Leatham or Shannon Smith or Mike Seeklander. Each stage would be filmed from both the shooter’s point of view and another camera. You’d get advice on stage strategy before and during the match, then a group debrief to go over the video a day or so later. As an added bonus, for $100 more there could be an hour long, one-on-one debrief where the match is dissected in detail. That’d put between $150 and $850 in the pocket of the shooter for two to eight hours work. Not bad.

If you’re a GM shooter, the trick would be, of course, to make sure that you provided valuable feedback back to your customers, something that is difficult if you don’t know how you provide feedback to yourself..

Match Report: USPSA at SWFPS

Had a chance to shoot an actual, honest-to-goodness USPSA match over the weekend, my first since October of last year. The match was held at the Southwest Florida Practical Shooters range up in Ft. Myers, about an hour away from my house (man, I miss the days of having 3 good ranges within an hour’s drive…). The range itself is a nice little gun club, with 5 bays, a 200 yard rifle range and stand for shotgun.

And man, it felt good to shoot some actual honest-to-goodness USPSA again!

The stages were nicely designed and the competition pretty decent, with two Master-Class Open shooters on my squad. I had been working a bit on my draw and my moving while reloading before the match, so I was curious to see what effect that would have on my times. In addition to this, I’ve been digging into Beyond Fundamentals quite a lot recently (having just re-bought it in Kindle Edition so I don’t lose the durn thing again), and I was interested in seeing what effect that would have on my shooting.

Here’s video of stages five and six.

First impressions: I’m quite happy with my movement: I’m setting up nicely for ports and  moving in and out of shooting positions quite well, sometimes TOO well, because I left a popper standing (a popper that fell in calibration, of course. Sonuva&@#$!….). Stage strategy is good, as is adjusting between the difficulty of the targets, for the most part. I still need to work on focus with my long shots, but other than that, I can see progress. Maybe not the progress I want at the speed I want, but progress nevertheless.

Update: Looking at the scores, I came in second in Production on stage six.

Out of two Production shooters in the match.

I was beaten by an A class shooter who ran it two seconds faster than me with 6 more points. The good news is, I know where I can pick up those two seconds (moving out of shooting positions faster) and where I can pick up the six points (better hits on closer targets).

Cool.

All In The Family

If you’re a member of a shooting club, eventually you’re going to run into shooting-club politics. The bullseye people think the practical shooters are a bunch of unsafe yahoos, the F-Class shooters want the long range on the same day that the 3 Gunners want it, and NOBODY can figure out those freaks that shoot smallbore silhouette.

One of the shooters last week wore a “SW Florida Marksman of the Year 2014″ t-shirt to the match. Now I have no idea how he got that shirt, but it got me thinking: What if clubs held a “Top Shot” competition of sorts that put shooters of all the disciplines at the club against each other? What if the bullseye guys had to (gasp!) move with a gun in their hands? What if the 3 Gunners did some 5 stand? What if the precision rifle shooters shot silhouette?

The divisions themselves would supply all the firearms for their stages and the points would be equally weighted between each so you’d have to put in a good showing at everything to be crowned “King of the Hill”, (and it would work better if there were cash and prizes on the line), but I’m thinking it would be a way to get people out on the range and trying new stuff.

New New Year’s Shootey Goals

Didn’t really do to good with goals I set last year (what else is new?), and I partly blame the tremendous upheaval our family went through in 2014, but those same upheavals gave me the tools with which to make those goals this year.

Lemme ‘splain.

I had the goal last year of making B Class Production and IDPA Sharpshooter. My plan to achieve that was to shoot more matches, something that moving across the country (twice!) interrupted.

In the words of Tony Stark, “Not a great plan.” Shooting a match did not give me more insight into how I needed to improve my shooting: I had reached a plateau, and I didn’t know it. All that shooting was making me one HECK of a C Class shooter, but nothing more than that.

Having a shooting hiatus imposed on me due to the changes in my life gave me time to pause and reflect on where I was as a shooter and made me realize that what I needed was more matches, but more off-line practice.

So that’s my resolution for 2015: A combination of shooting analysis, dry-fire practice, drills and matches designed to boost my skill with a handgun to where I can shoot Sharpshooter in IPDA and B Class in Production. My goals are not the finish line of the new classifications, my goal is the process.

My other goals (and again, they are process-orented) is get sufficient DOPE on my rifle out to at least 500 yards and to switch my 3 Gun shotshell system from the California Competition Works holders I currently use to a Taccom Duaload system, because gamer.

Gun-wise, I’d love to get a pistol-caliber AR carbine or similar, however, the CZ Scorpion and CMR-30 are calling out to me with a clear, strong siren’s call, and a 1911 set up for Single-Stack is still on my wishlist.

Happy New Year, everyone, and may all your Mikes be on no-penalty disappearing targets.

File Under Zen, Moment Of.

zen

I’ve done more thinking about shooting and where I want to grow as a shooter/competitor in the last three weeks than I have done the previous three years. The interwebz are full of people talking about how to become a GM, but there is precious little about how to become B Class or IDPA Expert.

The fact is, if you cure your trigger jerk and stay awake during a stage, you can make C Class. However, B Class and above requires effort, both physical and mental, and that means a) discipline and b) awareness. When I lived in Arizona, I never was able to see where I actually was in the grand scheme of practical shooting because on any given day, I’d be shooting with Rob Leatham or Kelly Neal or Sara Dunivin or Angus Hobdell or another other top-ranked shooter.

It’s hard to get a grasp of your own abilities (or lack thereof) in such a rarified environment: You don’t know how good you really are because even when you shoot your very best, you’re on the tail end of the match results. C Class is supposed to contain the top 40% to 60% of the shooters in USPSA, but it doesn’t feel like that if you’re competing with the top 10% (or better) all the time.

Three things, however, have re-ignited my passion for improving my skill at the shooting sports.

  1. Having the chance to step back and become the local hot shot at the top of the leaderboard for any given match has given me the chance to put what I’ve learned in context with the sport as a whole. Being C Class in a world where almost everyone is A Class or above means you suck. Being C Class in a world of D Class (or worse) shooters means you’re the top gun.
    This can have a marvelous effect on your self-image. :D
  2. On a related note, taking a breather in the action has given me time to think about where I am and where I want to be, and more importantly, what I need to do get there.
  3. I’ve been playing around with a Sig Sauer light/laser combo on my P07 (more on that later). Having a laser on my dry-fire gun has significantly increased my passion for dry-fire practice, as it gives direct 1-1 feedback on how my muzzle is moving (or not) during the trigger pull.

When I first started this blog, it was called “The Quest for C Class” because that’s what my shooting goal was at the time. I’ve made that goal (and then some), but the quest continues.

Stay tuned.

Update: As I said on Facebook, one thing that popped up right way while doing dry-fire with a laser is how the gun moves during one-handed shooting. I’m finding that if I add a little more bend to my elbow and curl my thumb down a bit more compared to where they are with a conventional, thumbs-foreward grip, the gun moves MUCH less during the trigger pull, making for faster and more accurate shots.

Out Of Season.

Stage Rifle

I’m experiencing something new out here in the Midwest: An “off season” for practical shooting. In Arizona, you can shoot a match pretty much every day of the week (and twice on Sundays), but here in a small town in Missouri, where snow is lightly falling down as I type this, there is definitely a prime season for shooting and a not-prime season. 

And that not-prime season is now, so I’m spending my time dry-firing, working on stopping and starting my movement, and tweaking my equipment load-out for next year. 

It’s a bit different, because it gives me time to think and reflect on my goals and what I’m going to do accomplish them. There wasn’t really that breathing space in Arizona, because we’d go from Western States to Superstition to stupidly hot shooting weather (but still shooting weather) to Area 2 to SHOT…

… rinse, lather, repeat. 

But having a breather is new to me, and I like it. The trick is going to be spending my time working on my skills these next few months and not just wasting them away playing Combat Mission: Normandy. 

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

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