Yes, Virginia, There Is Such A Thing As A Training Scar

But it has little to do with shooting USPSA instead of taking a tactical course. Instead, it has to do with WHERE you are training.

Flat range mindset is a sticking point with me during training. Too often, when I set up drills that require kinetics, guys are hesitant to move in varying directions, with a gun in their hands. The administrative need to orient it downrange overrides the necessity to move naturally with a weapon system in hand.

Boom. Headshot.

This was brought home to me when I was on “Shooting Gallery”, training with Gabe Suarez. One of the drills we did was a shoot on the move where we darn near ran full-out at a 45 degree angle to the target while putting rounds on-target. Because of my history with square ranges and IDPA, I was doing a “duck walk” and couldn’t initially work up the speed that Gabe was looking for. Once Gabe helped me get into the spirit of things by pointing the frame (Not the barrel nor the slide, just the frame. Calm down, people.) of his Glock at my head, it quickly got me out of the square range mindset and onto the 360 degree world of the street.

Because so much of our competition/practice/training revolves around cold ranges, keeping our guns pointed downrange at all times and/or not pointing our gun at the guy next to us, we forget that the real world does not have a 180° rule. Don’t get me wrong, I am NOT in favor of “big boy rules” and sending students into the line of fire, but you can’t think outside of the box if you can’t go past the firing line. Sure, you can “scan and assess” for threats if you’re doing tactical training on the line, but how much good does that do if you can’t take the logical next step and actually engage the threat you’ve spotted?

On a related note, a local firearms training company puts on a  “Shoot N Scoot” practice/range session on the weekends that’s pretty much a free-form steel/USPSA practice session for new gun owners, but done with a hot range. At first, I didn’t quite understand what they were doing, but once I went to one, I got it. The shoot n scoots aren’t there to teach the latest tactical techniques or get people up to C Class in USPSA overnight. Rather, it’s there to get new gun owners used to the simple concept of carrying a loaded gun around on a regular basis.

Any CCW instructor will tell you that the #1 problem they face is getting people to carry their guns after their students have finished their class. Carrying around a pound of potentially dangerous metal on your hip is not a part of most people’s lives before they take a CCW course, so anything that gets your students accustomed to safely carrying a loaded gun around and safely shooting it under stressful conditions is a good thing (and good for your repeat business as well).

Trigger warning

Tam talks about the joys of taking an Ernest Langdon class, and I’m intrigued by what he’s teaching. I’m realizing more and now that you can take all the tactical classes you want, but if you cannot put rounds on-time and on-target, all the sooper-sekrit ninja moves in the world do you little, if any good. The same is true with practical shooting: You can practice your splits all you want and have a draw time measured in picoseconds, but if you go Delta-Mike on a target, you’re screwed.

“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.”

John Swearigan

I should also mention that I’ve trained in all the styles and shoot each of the sports in this video, and I recommend each of them whole-heartedly. But keep the main thing the main thing, which is hitting the target.

How much of a difference does gear make?

It’s awhile since I’ve had a pistol bay all to myself, so I haven’t ran a Dot Torture/El Presidenté practice in quite some time. That’s ok, though, as I’m finding that in many ways, 15 minutes of dry-fire five times a day beats an hour and a half on the range.

If nothing else, you spend less time loading mags and more time pulling the trigger if you dry-fire.

I’ve been swapping out my USPSA “gamer” CZ75 with my carry/IDPA CZ P07 when I dry-fire, because I want to get better at BOTH sports. I shoot the CZ75 from a Blade-Tech dropped offset holster, and the P07 from concealment in a Crossbreed Supertuck. This begs the question as to how much of a disadvantage is shooting carry gear versus a competition rig.

Fortunately, I’ve done dozens of runs through the El Presidenté as I was climbing up to C Class, and have some hard numbers to report.

The El Presidenté Drill:


I use USPSA targets and scoring on the drill, so the faster and more accurate I am, the higher my score will be. The best accuracy possible is to get all twelve shots into the A Zone of the target for a total of 60 points, and a great time on this drill is something around five seconds with good hits.

I’m not great, but I am improving. Here’s my average scores for 3 1/2 years running the El Prez.

CZ75 (Improved trigger, Improved sights, no concealment)
Average Time: 9.5 seconds
Average Points: 42.4 points
Average Score: 4.53

CZ P07 (Dead stock, from concealment)
Average Time: 11.4 seconds
Average Points: 37.4 points
Average Score: 3.25

BTW, my best time (so far) on this drill is 7.3 seconds with 50 points of hits, which translates into a score of 6.85. Not bad, I can do better.

Obviously, having gear that is suited to the task at-hand improves your ability to do the task well, but my scores with both guns have dramatically improved since I’ve run those drills. The fact is, the basics of good practical shooting can be picked up and dropped onto almost any gun, and skill will trump gear every single time. Train the skill, and the gear will follow.

My Name Is Legion.

Interesting new stuff from SIG

Painstakingly engineered and enhanced for the discerning few with the same warrior spirit that inspired it. We have always given professionals what they need. Now, we are giving them what they want.

Essentially, this a new series of guns from SIG, starting with the P226, P229 and P226 Single Action Only (SAO). The guns were designed based off feedback from people in the field who used the darn things day in, day out and include a wide range of accessories available only to people who “join the legion”.*

A few first impressions:

  • The guns look nice, with a lot of useful improvements like smoothed contours, undercut trigger guards, rails and powder-coated finishes.
  • Not only do they look nice, but the triggers on them should be some of the best that SIG’s ever made, with Short Reset Triggers that have been worked over by the indubitable Bruce Gray.
  • Value on them looks pretty good, with a lot of the upgrades from the Elite series and other custom work at a decent price.
  • While it’s starting out with three pistols in common use with police and military units around the world, the Firearm Blog is reporting that the Legion brand will extend to rifles and other SIG products as well. I’m just guessing here, but I fully expect to see a P226 Legend model with a fully integrated SIG Romeo 1 sight on it at SHOT next year, along with Legend-branded P320 pistols and MCX/MPX rifles.
  • The accessories are a step (or five!) above the usual re-branded ITAR stuff that SIG sells, with top rank manufacturers like Surefire, Peltor and some very nice knife makers getting on-board the Legion bandwagon.

Speaking of which, the “Join The Legion” bit is very interesting, as it’s the first time someone has tried to launch a premium lifestyle brand based around tactical firearms. Glock could have done something similar ten years ago or so, but they were too busy hauling money to the bank to come up with new ideas. Browning has had TREMENDOUS success with moving their brand into non-gun areas (so much so they are now probably more about camping gear than they are bang-bang) and now SIG is trying something similar. It’s a sign of a maturing market in the tactical firearms industry that we can think about adding other things into our lifestyle based solely on a tactical firearms brand. It’s also interesting that it’s a premium, “members only” brand designed to play up exclusivity and the quality of gear. SIG’s got enough irons in the fire that I can easily see them adding in Legion-only training videos and live events into the mix for added value. This one will be interesting to watch and see if it turns into a movement within the larger firearms industry.

* Does that mean if they turn into a fanboy, they get legionnaire’s disease? I kid, I jest.

So just what is a “training scar”?

Judging by this conversation, a training scar is best defined as “a process or style that a student has which a firearms teacher cannot integrate into his teaching”.

Look, I know I have a tendency not to look around after a course of fire is over. Despite that, every time I’ve ran through a “blind” shoot house, where I didn’t know where the targets were or how many targets there were, I stopped only when the instructor told me the exercise was over.

Yep, despite not doing a “scan and assess” after shooting a stage, when it came time to replicate things in as real of environment as possible, I kept my guard up and kept treating it as “real”, even though it wasn’t.

It’s almost as if my mind and body know when I’m gaming, and when I’m not.

For me, the benefits of regular competition, namely, being able to deliver the shot quickly and accurately under stressful conditions, outweigh having to deal with integrating that into a “tactical” environment like a training class. Let’s stop worrying about “training scars” and start worrying about making the shot, no matter what happens before during or after the trigger press.

Optimism means evangelism

I wrote a piece on gun ownership targeted for the non-gun-owning crowd of, and it generated a lot of good comments and a lot of… not-so-good comments. I was expecting a lot of stupid questions, and that’s ok because stupid questions help avoid stupid mistakes.

Another example.

A few months back, there was an excellent two-hour talk on Florida self-defense law here in Naples. The attorney who gave it was affiliated with the Armed Citizen’s Legal Defense Network and knew his stuff. The people in the audience DIDN’T know their stuff, and their questions revealed that fact to everyone present.

That’s ok, because if they knew everything, they’d be teaching the class, not giving it. The problem is, of course, when those who DON’T know everything think they can teach the class, and that’s when the fun begins.

If we want the pool of gun owners to expand, we need to put up with such stupidity and guide the people towards a safer, more educated lifestyle. It’s not fun, and it means putting up with some really bad ideas and even worse choices, but that’s what happens when you win: People want to be on your side.

Let’s make them at home, not uneasy.

Not enough gun for the round

One of the trends I saw while working behind the counter at the range was the tendency of people who are new to concealed carry to chose a gun with too much power and too little size to make it controllable. They’d come in, and even though they’d never shot a gun before, they’d immediately gravitate to pocket 9mm’s like the Glock 43 or a Shield. Now, I own a Shield, and I absolutely adore it, but it’s not a gun I’d recommend for first-timers because it has a steeper learning curve than, say, a Glock 19.

The smallest, most powerful hand-cannon in the world does you SQUAT if you can’t hit the target with it, and people tend to over-estimate just how good of a shot they are, especially if they’ve never shot under stressful conditions. This is why I steered people towards the more-controllable LC-380, Glock 42 and Sig P238 in .380 ACP instead of a 9mm (or even .40) pocket rocket. The smaller cartridge and extra mass of those guns make them eminently shootable, and with the right cartridge, (I prefer Hornady XTP’s), .380 will deliver enough oomph to get the job done.

And now there’s a new .380 pocket gun out from Rock Island that seems to tick all the right boxes, especially if you’re into the 1911 platform. I’ll admit, I’m not a fan of safeties on a carry gun, but they make a whole lot of sense if you appendix-carry or carry off-body, and this new gun looks like a great combination of power, concealability and accuracy.

Memo to Martin Tuscon Tuason: Thanks for this gun. Now, can you PLEASE make the .22 TCM AR-15 upper I’ve been wanting from you for over a year now?