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.

The Biggest Failure in CCW Is…

… getting people to actually carry their guns after they’ve qualified for their permit.

Let’s face it, it’s an unnatural act to carry around the weight of a full soda can (or more) on your hip. People complain about the weight of their cellphones (get off my lawn); imagine how they’d feel about carrying a full-size 1911.

A big part of why people fail to carry their guns is mindset: They think they’ll carry a gun “only when they might need it”. This is, of course, insane, but that’s a fight we’ve been fighting for years, and we’ll keep fighting that fight far in the future.

But for those of us who do carry on a day-in, day-out basis, we forget just how WEIRD it felt carrying a gun around the first time, and we need to come up with better ways to ease people into carrying on a regular basis.

Part of the problem lies, I believe. with how CCW instructors are licensed. Most, if not all, states require NRA Instructor Certification to be a CCW teacher. That’s fine until you realize the NRA curriculum for concealed carry kinda… sucks. Also, most indoor and outdoor ranges don’t allow drawing from a holster, which limits practice opportunities. People aren’t used to carrying around a loaded handgun on their hips because there is nothing in-place for them to get used to such a thing before, during or after they get their CCW: There really isn’t an on-ramp in-between a booth at an indoor range or a stall at an outdoor range and carrying your gun every day, and that needs to change.

A solution might lie in how the class is carried out. I’ve sat in a bunch of CCW classes from a variety of trainers, and typically, you get your class time, you shoot your qualifier (if needed), you receive your Microsoft Word Template certificate of training, and you go home. Do you, at any time, actually put a gun in a holster? Nope. That part is talked about, but never actually done, in-class. The physical reality of carrying a gun is as much a part of a CCW class as the physical reality of cooking is to someone watching a re-run of “Good Eats“. I’m not really sure what the full solution to this might look like (yet), but there has to be someway of integrating not just the theory of CCW into a class, but the reality as well.

If we want a nation of safe, responsible armed citizens (and we do), then we need to make certain that the citizenry is, you know, ARMED. The more we can do to get people’s guns out from under their beds on to their hips, the safer we’ll be.

Upcoming Training

I’ve satisfied with where my defensive pistol skills are at the moment. Yes, I could always learn more (because I’m not done learning yet), but right now, I want to get better at the “pistol” part of “defensive pistol”, so I signed up for a two-day Bob Vogel class next month.

This is going to be a new experience, because aside from a half-day with some guy you’ve never heard of, I’ve not had any dedicated “gamer” classes: All the pistol training I’ve had is in the context of a self-defense class, so shooting the pistol just to get better at shooting the pistol is something that’s new to me.

Plus I want to make A class this year. That too.

The Third Wave

I swear I didn’t write this to be click-bait, but it’s gotten a lot of play around the InterTubes over the weekend, and quite frankly, it’s a little humbling to have people who I’ve respected and admired consider my rantings worthy of discussion.

I think part of the reason why that article sparked such a discussion is that we are entering a new era of firearms training for armed civilians*. If the first wave was the cop you knew teaching you how to shoot a snubbie .38 or a having a shotgun in the closet, then the second wave was Gunsite and the boom in “Shall Issue” permits that started here in Florida and spread across the country.

I think we’re in the beginning stages of a Third Wave, where it’s not just enthusiasts who carry a gun, it’s everyone. The metaphor I’ve been using for a while now is cameras and my past life as a advertising photographer, but I don’t think that’s quite right. A better metaphor, I believe, is personal computers before the IBM PC came along.

My family bought a computer when I was a teenager. Today, that seems like a no-brainer, but in 1980, it was revolutionary. We bought one so my Mom could do contract book-keeping work for small businesses as a side job, but I quickly used it to learn BASIC and play games. Well, mostly play games, if I’m honest.

We bought a Commodore CBM. Was it the best computer out there at the time? Nope. We didn’t buy it because it was the best, we bought it because the salesperson at the store understood my Mom’s needs were NOT the needs of a hobbyist like himself, rather, they were the needs of a small business owner. The hobbyists at the store that sold Apple ][‘s thought my Mom was interested in technical aspects of the computers they sold, but in reality, what she was interested in was what the computer could DO for her.

Making a connection yet?

We’re seeing a proliferation of brands this year, especially in the mini-9mm market, that reminds me of how everyone and his dog came out with a CP/M machine in the early 1980’s (and PC-Compatibles after that). The customer base was growing by leaps and bounds because people thought they HAD to have a computer in the home to, umn, keep track of recipes, or something. Computers in the home started out very small, and it took a decade (and the Internet) for them to stop being a hobbyist’s tool and become an indispensable part of our home life.

Firearms trainers are hobbyists. Our sports are niche sports (at best) and although the NRA is a fearsome political machine and there are many, many concealed carry permit holders out there, the people who do firearms training are, for the most part hobbyists, and we tend to preach to the choir.

So the choice is ours: Do we want to make something that meets the needs of the public, becomes part of their lifestyle and changes the world, or will we create something that is initially popular but soon retreats to a small market niche?

Choose carefully.

*Note: For the purposes of this post, “civilian” = “Someone who carries a gun and isn’t employed by a government agency”. We can have the “Law enforcement are civilians too!” discussion at another time.

Unreality-based Training.

If this is “Real World Training” for you, you live in the wrong neighborhood. Yes, it looks like fun (except for the dozen or so times that people get guns pointed at them by people allegedly on their side), but that’s all it would be: Fun. That sort of training would make little or no difference in my day to day safety, in fact, one could make the argument that I’d be more safe if I didn’t take that class.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The metaphor that’s currently in-use for civilian firearms training, namely, one-on-one encounters or multiple bad guys with one armed civilian represents a limited subset of my reality and the reality of the “civilian” firearms owner who carries concealed. That’s due in part, I think, because of who is creating the training: Modern firearms training tends to spring from the experiences of police forces and the military because they get paid to get shot at and therefore wind up in more goofy situations than we civilians.

But they rarely, if ever, have to deal with other people in their force equation beyond “Don’t hit innocents with stray bullets” or “Lay down cover fire for your buddies”. This is not true in my case and in the case of anyone with a family. For us, we’re by ourselves half the time, but the other half of the time, we’re with wife and kids and/or friends, and protecting them becomes part of our self-defense equation.

It sounds like the skills I need to learn aren’t the skills of a Pier One Operator or a beat cop, they’re the skills of a bodyguard. Rather than roll around on the ground like a high school wrestling class or learn how to form a CQB stack, I’d like to see an Advanced Pistol Class that covers how to shoot accurately whilst holding 3 plastic shopping bags in one hand while making sure my wife and a recalcitrant 12 year old and 10 year old don’t catch a round.

That there is truly “real world” training.

You know how many people are teaching that? Zero and/or squat. There are a lot of bodyguard schools out there, but they teach (im)personal protection as a career, not as part of an armed lifestyle. I’m not in this me, I’m in it for my family, and I’d like if more firearms trainers understood that.

Update: Grant Cunningham has a similar take. We forget that we are not the market for our training.

Training Opportunities Abound.

There is quite of lot of world-class instructors coming to Southwest Florida in the next few months. From tactical pistol to legal matters to pure gaming, all of these classes are VERY much worth your while.

Get off your duff and out to the range!

(BTW, looking at my finances and my training needs, I think the Bob Vogel class is in my future).

What Have I Changed My Mind On?

Grant Cunningham asks “What have you changed your mind about in 2015?”.

Me?

The utility of a trunk gun: They’re not for active shooters, they’re for getting home or to another location when a pistol just ain’t enough. If you think you’re going to have time to go out to your car, retrieve your rifle and go all first-person shooter on the active shooter, you’re wrong.

The importance of making the shot in a defensive situation: Namely, realizing it’s the ONLY thing that matters. You can do all the tac-fu moves you want before, during and after pulling the trigger, but if you miss, it means nothing. Work on making the shot on-demand, then work on getting smoothly in and out of (sub)urban prone.

The need to be physically fit: Part of my hesitation to get fit was based on years of watching Angus Hobdell and Rob Leatham shoot. They are… not skinny, and they’re tremendously good shooters. However, there’s really no area of my life that wouldn’t benefit from me hitting the gym. I’d shoot better: I compared scores from a recent match, and the difference in score between me and an A class shooter was in how fast we moved from shooting position to shooting position and our splits. Our points were identical, it was the movement and splits that made the difference. The split time I can work on with practice and dry-fire, the movement I’ll need to work on in the gym. Plus there’s all the run away from trouble faster / live longer benefits as well.

Ok, what light bulbs went off in your head in 2015?