Games without frontiers

Or, if looks could kill, they probably will.

Matt over at Jerking The Trigger had a good post on how we set our training priorities and how that affects the gaps in said training:

Why do so many shooters emphasize shooting courses and turn up their noses at combatives and first aid training? I suspect most people are more likely to need to know how to use a pressure bandage or throw a punch than to need to draw their handgun in anger over the course of their lives.

Yep. Backup irons become important if you train on a square range in the daytime. Take a night-shooting class, though, and those iron sights mean NOTHING compared to a good weapon light.

Also, think about how competition affects our gear and our training: Maybe one of the reasons why there is very little integrated combatives/firearms training for us civvies is because we haven’t found a way to make a game of it yet. The Greeks figured out 3000 or so years ago that if you make a game of war, you get better at war, and USPSA and IDPA are capitalizing today on what was learned on the slopes of Mt. Olympus long ago.

We’ve yet to apply those same ideas to combatives / firearms training for civilians, and when we do, then the idea that just having a gun won’t be enough will REALLY take off.

Let Me Tell You How To Save Your Life

My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.” 

– 1 Corinthians 1:11-12, NIV

Grant Cunningham asked a great question last week, (as he is often wont to do).

What’s with all the infighting in the defensive shooting world?

Stick around the defensive shooting world for any length of time and you’ll discover partisanship that makes national politics seem tame. Where do these squabbles come from, and what can you do to avoid them?

His points were made about training in context, about law enforcement training versus military training vs. training for armed civilians, and his points are very, very valid and very insightful.

But.

I think there’s higher form of infighting going on here. As defensive firearms instructors, we are doing nothing less than helping people save their own lives and the lives of the people they hold dear on the absolute worst day of their lives.

As Marty McFly might say, that’s heavy.

A good instructor will understand what that means and integrate it into his training, and that level of seriousness will percolate down into other things. What once was a pastime can become a mission and a passion, and that can lead to a clash of egos.

I’ve seen this passion before, and it can be a force for good, or a force that destroys lives. I worked for a half-dozen years in the faith-based non-profit world, and I worked every day with people who were a) trying to save the world and b) felt they were called by God to do so.

To be fair, there is/was some amazing work being down by these people because of their passion: When you clean out the internal parasites in the population of an entire sub-Saharan country, that is nothing but a good thing. But that same drive, that same sense of a higher calling led to some EPIC clashes of egos that no amount of lip service to humility and “unity of the brethren” could heal.

Keep your eyes on the prize. Is your goal an informed, equipped and prepared student, or an acolyte and evangelist for your training? Are you selling your students a lifestyle, or a training plan? What is your goal, more people who think like you, or more people who can take care of themselves?

These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us,on whom the culmination of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!

– 1 Corinthians 10:11-12

The dangerous trap of gear envy

Don Giannatti is a good friend who gave me my first shot in the photo world. He also gave me my first paying gig as a photographer, handing off a quick editorial job from The National Enquirer into my hands. That’s right, my first gig as a shooter was for the National Enquirer. I have my price, and it is VERY low.

I digress.

Read this bit from his post on gear envy and what it does to photographers, but where it says “camera” think “gun” and “photograph” think “shot”.

  1. If you cannot take a good photograph with an entry level camera and a kit lens, what makes you think your work will be better with a shiny new D760D-X NiKanon?
  2. If your pictures suck with what you have, they will most likely suck with a new camera, but now have the added fun of sucking after spending a boat load of cash.
  3. Perhaps it isn’t your camera, maybe you suck at making photographs.
  4. If your camera is not working ‘correctly’, it could be “user error”… just sayin’.
  5. Bigger file sizes means bigger file sizes. That’s it. (Bigger calibers mean bigger holes. That’s it. - K.)
  6. Yes, yes… that guru on all the awesome YouTubes shoots with some terribly expensive gear, and his pictures are awesomer than yours. Here is something to think about – give them your camera and watch them make the same awesomer shots.
  7. Camera manufacturers pay extraordinarily big money to make you think that their new wizbang will turn your pathetic throw aways into gallery ready pix. You let that crap take hold and you will never have enough gear… ever.

On a not-unrelated topic, here’s a (clickclick) shot I took with a 10 year old Nikon D70, a busted-up Manfrotto tripod and an iPhone. If I subscribed to the good gear = good photos theory, it should suck.

But it doesn’t. Think about THAT the next time you consider shelling out $$$ for some gadget to make you shooter better.

kel-tac_sm

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.

Tracked and Targeted

mental_toughness“90% of the sport is mental, and the other half is physical.”

– Yogi Berra

Thinking a little more about this post on the mental game of the shooting sports:

  1. I’m fairly happy that I aimed for middle of the pack in my last major match. Based on my level of training and practice, I thought that a reasonable goal for the match was to place in the middle of the pack in Tac Limited, and doggone it if that wasn’t where I placed.
    What this tells me: I have a reasonable grasp of my ability and what I can do on any given day, which helps me set training and match goals.
  2. I’ve used my scores in the El Presidente drill as a way to track my progress in performing the basic skills of practical/tactical shooting, namely, target recognition, draw, follow-up shot speed, transition speed from target to target and fast reloads. My best score on this drill has plateaued as of late, but what’s interesting is that my bad times are now MUCH better than they were two years.
    What this tells me: I’m still not as fast and accurate as I’d like to be right, but I’m also more consistent and not so prone to bonehead mistakes.

Yes, I stole the title from new favorite political podcast.

Sue me.

You are who you thought you were

RaRCoverEven though my musical tastes lean more towards The Ramones and The Smiths than they do to Van Halen, I’m really enjoying Steve Anderson’s “That Shooting Show” podcast. Wednesday’s episode was particularly good, talking about how your perception of yourself as a shooter affects how you shoot.

I can dig it.

I had convinced myself that I was a bad wingshooter with my 930SPX, but yet sonuvagun if I didn’t nail every single flying clay at my last 3 gun match.

I had convinced myself I was a “C” class shooter, but I’m on the cusp of breaking into “B” Class right now because, well, I think that’s where I am.

I went into the Area 3 Multigun Championship with the goal of placing in the middle of Tac Limited, and sonuvagun if I didn’t do exactly that.

To quote The Pixies, where is my mind? Two things.

1. Longer-ranged shots with my competition AR. I struggle with hitting 200 yard LaRues. Heck, I struggle with 100 yard plates. That needs to change, and the struggle ends now

2. Longer-range pistol shots. I’d be IDPA Sharpshooter if I were better at those. That needs to change.

But enough about me. Give Steve’s podcast a listen, especially if you’re interested in the mental game of the shooting sports.

Derp Man’s Hand

Let’s do the rundown, shall we?

  • Unsafe gun handling? Check!
  • Tactical beer bellies? Check!
  • Obnoxious hardcore rock? Check!
  • Specialized scenarios disguised as drills? Check!

With a special added bonus: Doing all of that akimbo!!

They do firearms training programs for youths. Here’s a tip, if you let your kids anywhere near these guys, it probably could be considered child endangerment.

Thanks to Grant Cunningham for exhuming this piece of firearms training excrement.

Update: They’ve pulled the video. Dang it, I  knew I should have mirrored it.

Update 2: Found it on Facebook. Enjoy.

Visual Clues

DCP00998

Thinking a bit more about training scars…

How many times do we start a drill / competition stage with an auditory start signal? No matter if it’s at a match or on the training range, it’s either a buzzer or the command of “UP!!” that gets us to draw a gun and start shooting.

But we are sight hunters, and we usually need to back up any auditory signals with a visual confirmation. 

So when was the last time you started a stage or drill based off something you saw, not something you heard? 

Something to think about.

Why Carry More Than Just Your Gun?

So you can do more than shoot somebody, that’s why

I’m moving to Alaska from Georgia. Was having dinner with my half brother in Colorado springs, CO. Carrying as usual. Helped an old lady change a flat in the parking lot then as I’m walking to my car I hear someone yelling “help me.” Look down and it’s a younger guy with 2 other people talking to him so I assume he’s drunk and goofing off. Then I hear some slapping noises. Look again and some guy is hitting him with a piece of wire or hose or something about 10 feet long. The guy keeps yelling for help and goes fetal while this guy is nailing him. I’m on top of a hill above them, maybe 10 feet up and 25 feet away. My first instinct was to run down and draw on the guy but I didn’t want to get too close to him so he can hit me with his weapon. Instead, I pulled a flashlight out of my pocket and yelled at him that the police were on their way. As soon as I said that he looked up at me and turned around and ran away. It turned out the 2 guys were arguing over a woman that was with them. End of the story I didn’t draw but used my flashlight to blind a guy instead. I stayed out of range of the guys weapon, but was prepared to draw if he did come towards me up the hill.

Bottom line, having the means to deal with a violent threat but not having to use said means to keep yourself and others safe is a bigger win than if you had to draw a gun and shoot. 

Always carry your gun. And carry other stuff, too. The life you save may not be your own.