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

Match Report: USPSA at SW Florida Practical Shooters, 2/4/16

I shot the weekly USPA match at the Hansen Range prep for this weekend’s class with Bob Vogel, and to spend a little quality time with my new upgraded CZ P-07. Let’s roll the tape!

Overall, I’m not happy with how I shot: I had too many Mikes on targets where they just weren’t justified. This was the first time I shot the P-07 in USPSA, and I had trouble picking up the front sight on strings of fire. I’ve got Meprolight night sights on it right now, and they… suck. They’re hard to pick up because they’re three dot sights (which I hate) and the front sight post is too thick for precise aiming. I got the night sights because the P07 is my regular carry gun in addition to being my IDPA gun, so I need to find a compromise between a race gun sight that’s useful on a square range and night sights useful on a carry gun. I think I may (may!) have found that compromise, so we’ll see how they’ll work out.

My plan was, before tonight, to shoot the P-07 at the Vogel class, but I honestly think shooting the new (old) pre-B CZ75 in the class will better reflect my actual skill level.

Ozymandias, USPSA GM.

Take a few moments to read about the rise and fall of this niche sport, and ask yourself if there are any comparisons to practical shooting.

Practical shooting hasn’t reached the point where there’s million-dollar payouts, and Lord knows it’ll probably never be shown on network TV, but if something like bowling can catch the country’s attention for a few decades, why can’t USPSA?

Okay, Colt, Now I’m Interested.

Colt Competition Pistol

“The Colt Competition Pistol™ is a race-ready full size Government Model® built with the competitor in mind. Featuring our Dual Spring Recoil System™, Novak’s new adjustable rear sight and fiber optic front sight, acquiring and staying on target is easy. The pistol also features competition ergonomics including an undercut trigger guard and upswept beavertail, allowing shooters a higher grip for enhanced comfort and accuracy. Custom blue Colt G10 stocks and the legendary National Match® barrel complete the package.” 

Assuming these are built reasonably-well and aren’t thrown together from factory seconds, that is a real steal. $900 MSRP for a 1911 with fiber optic/Novak sights, a good barrel and a decent features? Yes, please. I’m in the market this year for a competition 1911, and this gun just jumped to the head of the line.

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?

 

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.

We’re All On The Same Team. And That’s A Bad Thing.

Thinking more about the shooting sports as a television sport, why is it that in a sport that is all about about intense competition, there are zero rivalries? Football grew in the 70’s when it was the clean-cut Cowboys vs the bad boys of Oakland or Pittsburgh. Basketball grew with Bird vs. Magic (and then Jordan). Baseball grew with the dominance of the Yankees in the 20’s/30’s. In each of these cases, we had someone to root for and we had someone to root against.

Cubs fans, of course, continue to cheer for their team, and cheerfully deny reality.

I digress.

It’s great that everyone in practical shooting pretty much gets along and helps each other out. That sort of thing makes it a fun sport to shoot every weekend, but it makes for lousy TV because there is nothing to get excited about. We like to cheer for the rebels, the rule-breakers. NASCAR blossomed when there was a face/heel competition between good ol’ boy Dale Earnhardt and slick Yankee Jeff Gordon. Who are the rebels in practical shooting? Where are the rivalries? Why isn’t Glock vs. S&W vs. Sig as big a deal as Ferrari vs. McLaren vs. Mercedes?

Top Shot did this brilliantly. Yes, there was constant whinging from shooters about the drama, but you know what? We also secretly and not-so-secretly cheered for our heroes and booed for villains. We complained, but it worked.

Give us conflict. Give us rivalries. Give us somebody/something to cheer for, and we’ll give you the ratings.