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

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).

Brand Evangelists

Brand Evangelists

This new graphic from the National Shooting Sports Federation dramatically illustrates the changes in America’s gun culture over the past few years. We’re more urban, we took up shooting later in life, and we’re more likely than ever to gender-indentify as a woman and/or as Caitlyn Jenner.


Two telling stats there:

  1. 56% of new target shooters live in urban/suburban areas. Think they’re shooting on an outdoor range? Me neither. Why, then, do none of the practical shooting sports have a dedicated outreach program to indoor ranges? IDPA has the Indoor Nationals and you can shoot GSSF indoors, but you know how much info I received on both those competitions when we opened up Florida’s first luxury shooting range? Zero. Zip. Square root of zilch. I had to go chase down that info for myself.
    Dear IDPA: Create a tri-fold brochure on why indoor ranges want to add IDPA competitions. Emphasize how competitors buy a lot more stuff than plinkers, and train more as well. Then set up a Google Alert for “New Indoor Shooting Range” and send out your brochure whenever it fires off. Total cost: Maybe a grand. Total number of new yearly IDPA members: Probably a grand as well.
  2. The average age is down eleven years, yet the the percentage of people getting started after 18 is up almost 300%. Do millennials and digital natives like guns? You betcha!
Match Report – Louland 3 Gun

Match Report – Louland 3 Gun

No video from the match, but I’m pretty pleased with how I shot, with one proviso.

  • My dry-fire practice with the pistol continues to pay off. In the past, it’s been move, plant, shoot, move, plant, shoot, etc. Today, though, I dropped three poppers on the move from one shooting area to another, although I did need four shots to drop three poppers.
  • The TacCom Quadloads are really paying off on the shotgun side. I ended up in fifth place out of 13 shooters on a shotgun-only stage. I’ll take it.
  • I’m jerking the trigger on my rifle. I’m impatient, and I need to start seeing my sights and calling my shot with every squeeze of trigger.

All in all, though, I’m happy where I am as a shooter right now. I know I have room for improvement, but I know what I need to improve and how I can improve it, so there is hope.

*Insert Content Here*

*Insert Content Here*

Sorry, but a family trip to Key West put a damper on content creation over the weekend. Here’s a photo of a Civil War cannon from Fort Zachary Taylor in lieu of new stuff. Also, the kids are home from school yesterday and today and I’m working on a big article for on the NRA’s role in Gun Culture 2.0, so content may be light this week.
This is my big boomstick

Match Report: LouLand 3 Gun, October 5, 2015

Match Report: LouLand 3 Gun, October 5, 2015

Continuing a theme from last week, I shot the 3 Gun match at LouLand with my trunk gun, a Kel-Tec SU16C, my home defense shotgun, a Mossberg 500, and the CZ P07 I’m carrying around these days.

The results were two-fold: I placed dead-last on every stage because I was drawing from concealment and wasn’t using gamer gear like the other competitors, and I learned a lot about how my defensive gear works under stressful conditions. Some thoughts…

  • Pistol
    Really nothing new to learn here, except that on one stage, the late-evening light entered the left lens of my glasses (my dominant eye) juuuuust right, washing out the view of my sights. It may not be a bad idea for me to learn to shoot with my non-dominant eye.
  • Shotgun
    The 500 ran like a 500 normally does, smooth and quickly. I didn’t carry the gamer reloading rig, but rather did all my reloads off the sidesaddle on the gun, one shell at a time. There was fourteen shots on the stage, all on poppers and falling plates, and my 500 holds 7+1 and has a 6 round sidesaddle on it, so if I did everything correctly, I wouldn’t have to reload from my pockets. And I did, so I didn’t. Whew.
  • Rifle
    Here’s where things got interesting. I have a SigTac 3x scope and a Sig Stoplite laser/light on the rifle, and I was pleased how well that worked on the long shots. However, I found myself looking through the scope at the close targets versus looking for the laser on the target. I’ve also found the light to be of limited use at night, so maybe it’s time for something new.

This is why I compete: To put my skills and gear to the test when the stakes are low, so I know they’ll work when the stakes are high. Here’s video of (some) of the rifle run.

Tactical Vs. Practical

Tactical Vs. Practical

I thought I’d break down the Louland match from a few weeks ago where I shot my subcompact Shield versus my normal gamer gear to see how much equipment actually affects performance. I’m comparing my scores to another “C” class shooter at the match who was running a Glock 19 with full mags to give some idea of what difference carry gear and drawing from concealment makes in a match.

Stage One
This stage traditionally has a lot of falling steel, mini-poppers and plate racks, meaning accuracy is at a premium. It was also the first stage I shot in the match with a gun I hadn’t practiced with for months, which led to some expected results.

Competitor One
Points: 110 – Points Down: 0 – Time: 32.48
Points: 80 – Points Down: 60 – Time: 79.69

Yeah, screwed the pooch big time on this one, leaving 6 targets un-shot. Moving on…

Stage Two
A more traditional steel stage, with some run and gun elements. The targets were bigger (A-C steel and poppers) and I’d settled down a bit and gotten used to the gun after the first stage. Here’s a photo and a stage diagram.

Stage Description: Shoot the lettered targets from their corresponding area.

Competitor One
Points: 120 – Points Down: 0 – Time: 16,42
Points: 120 – Points Down: 0 – Time: 54.10

Still slow, but getting better. As a way to judge the skill level of the other competitor and myself, I re-shot this stage the next day with my gamer rig, and did it in 20.69 seconds.

Stage 3
You’ve seen this one in the video, so let’s get to it.

Competitor One
Points: 95 – Points Down: 0 – Time: 19.44
Points: 98 – Points Down: 0 – Time: 28.54

Took me a while longer to shoot, but my comfort with the small gun was definitely improving. Also, I was very pleased with my accuracy on this stage, dropping only four Charlies and a Delta on all that paper.

Stage 4
The stage from the last part of the video, the one with the pond. Very fast, with few targets.

Competitor One
Points: 56 – Points Down: 0 – Time: 11.25
Points: 58 – Points Down: 0 – Time: 18.36

Having to reload and work from concealment really hit me on this stage.

Stage 5
All steel, with hostage-target and a bunch of tiny little rabbit auto poppers.

Competitor One
Points: 95 – Points Down: 0 – Time: 19.66
Points: 95 – Points Down: 0 – Time: 28.35

Again, having to reload twice as often and draw both my gun and magazines from reload affecting things there quite a bit.

All in all, I’m glad I shot the match with my carry gear because some of the targets (like the hostage shot) were quite tricky, and knowing that I can make the shot with my carry gear, on-demand and under stress, is a big confidence booster.

Match Report – Louland Pistol Match, 9-24-15

Match Report – Louland Pistol Match, 9-24-15

Once a year, I like to shoot my carry gear in competition to see how it performs in a stressful situations, so I brought my Smith&Wesson Shield in 9mm, Crossbreed Minituck and a pair of mag pouches to the Louland pistol match last week.

Shooting a match with a gun that holds 8+1 means you get a LOT of opportunity to practice your reloads, and despite this (and the super-short sight radius of the Shield), I did ok.

Here’s a video of another shooter running a stage with a Glock 19 versus my Shield. There is something to be said for having 15 rounds in a mag, as we shall now see, with special bonus footage of what happens when you set up a match, then have a Florida monsoon roll in the morning of the match.

Sun's Out, Glocks Out.

Sun's out, Glocks out.

2231111Should be fun.

Louland Gun Range, Southwest Florida’s favorite outdoor shooting range, and Step By Step Gun Training are teaming up for a unique shooting sports event featuring GLOCK USA firearms. The Everglades GLOCK Range Day starts at 9am on Oct. 24, 2015 at Louland Gun Range, 12425 Union Road, Naples, FL and runs until 4pm that day. The event will feature three stages based on GLOCK Shooting Sports Foundation stages and much more. Admission is $5 per person, and the entry fee for each stage is $5.

So to the reader(s) in the 239, come on by, and to those elsewhere in South Florida, come on by as well. Hey, it’s a day on the range for five bucks, what more can you ask for?

FTC Disclaimer: I’m involved in helping set this up, and know everyone involved.

A Year At The Ready.

A year at the ready.

I was in St. Louis the night of the Ferguson riots. Thankfully, nothing happened, and if something did happen, I was more ready than most people to deal with bad things because I had my usual (at the time) daily carry with me: An S&W Shield, a spare mag, a Streamlight Microstream and a Boker knife. In addition to this, I was testing out a lightweight man-purse messenger bag as a way to carry all the little stuff I need to deal with life’s daily ups and downs. I’ve had that same bag with me for the past year, and it accompanies me every time I leave the house. I doesn’t always carry it with when I leave the car, but it is close by if (God forbid) I need it. To be clear, this is not intended to be a 72 hour kit or bug out bag: All this little bag does is allow me to live 24 hours outside of the house in an urban/suburban setting if a disaster or social disruption happens that prevents me from going home. If the power goes out for 24 hours or a flood washes out the bridges on my usual commute, I want to be able to deal with having to not being home for 24 hours, no matter where I am or what I am doing. The contents of the bag are built around sheltering in-place, be it my car, my office or a hotel room, so there’s not a lot of wilderness survival gear in the bag. Another big reason for this bag is to have the things near me that I need in order to deal with the effects of a violent force for or against me. I firmly believe that if you carry a firearm, you should be ready and able to deal with the effects of using that firearm.


The bag is not hard to carry around, although I don’t traipse thru the shopping mall with it on my shoulder. In the water bottle pouch is, well, a water bottle, and in the outside MOLLE pockets, I have pens, a flashlight and a larger knife is tucked into the back. I’ve used a trick I learned as a photo assistant and wrapped six or so feet of duct tape around a Sharpie pen so I always have tape on-hand. outside_pockets

The water bottle has come in handy to deal with nasty-tasting municipal water from drinking fountains, and below it in the pouch I’ve stuffed a plastic grocery bag to use as a trash bag, etc. The top pocket has all the gear for my iPhone: I rely on that sucker for more than just making phone calls, so keeping my phone up and running is a big deal for me. I’ve used this extra battery for a year now, and it will recharge my phone enough to use for another 24 hours, which is just what I need it to do. top_pockets

I’ve used every one of these items over the last year (I think I’m on my 12th snack bar or so). Most useful: The little microfiber lens cleaning cloth from RSR Distributing, which gets used to clean my spectacles at least once a day. The front pocket is also loaded up with useful stuff which has also seen a fair about of use over the past year:


Fortunately, I haven’t had to use the rain poncho yet, but everything else here has seen some action over the last twelve months. In particular, the lighter has been used far more often than I would have imagined: There is no substitute for an open flame, and people don’t carry matches or a lighter like they used to in days of old. One thing I am adding to the front pocket is a two-pack of disposable toothbrushes, because the darn things are so handy. As for the last-ditch emergency supplies in the bottom pouch, I’m VERY pleased to say I haven’t needed any of this:


I’m ditching the compass and knife sharpener for a micro-fiber camp towel: It rains a LOT here in Florida, and dry and safe is better than damp and safe. I’m also tossing in a pair of cheap rubber earplugs, because I always seem to never have ear pro around when I need it. As far as the inside pockets go, I have a fair amount of stuff tucked away inside the pack, but I still have room for a full-size iPad and my ancient Nikon D70 in the inside pouch, so I can toss in the little knickknacks I pick up during the day.


I *love* that Bluetooth keyboard. It’s not as easy to use as a laptop, but I can stick it and my phone into the pockets of a pair of cargo shorts and write anywhere, anytime (in fact, a significant portion of this post was written on that keyboard, paired to my iPhone 6+). The umbrella and Ballistol are new additions that don’t take up much room yet have proven to come in handy these past few months, and I’ve added enough spare cash to get me a cheap hotel room if I absolutely need to stay overnight somewhere. I’m pleased to report that aside from a couple of bandaids and some Advil, I’ve not had to use any of the gear in my first aid pouch. I’m adding a pair of nitrile gloves to the mix, something that I overlooked when I put the kit together.


I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: What good is it going to do you if you stop the threat with a perfect Mozambique drill on the bad guy when/if the need arises, only to find out he/she managed to squeeze of a round and now your loved one(s) are bleeding out in front of your eyes? Carry your tourniquets, people. It’s a lighter burden than regret.


That’s a fair amount of kit to haul around in a small bag, but it’s not heavy and carries easily. All in all, I’m pleased with the contents and the container of my murse messenger bag, and I’ll continue to have it near me if (God forbid) I have another Ferguson moment. Update: I wrote this post a week and queued it up for delivery a day and a half ago. Since that time, it looks like I might get a chance to put some of this stuff to the test

Match Report – Louland Gun Range August 6th

Match Report – Louland Gun Range August 6th

I have more free time on my hands these days, so in-between reorganizing my sock drawer and taking laps of the pool, I went and shot the Thursday night match at Louland.

And I didn’t suck.

I’m actually kinda happy with both those stages. Yes, I have a dropped shot on the popper in the first stage and speed-gunned the second stage a bit, resulting a A-2C-D first target and one into the no-shot (%#$!), but I like my movement, I got my hits, and I was fairly consistent on ALL the stages. My draw was decent (for me) on that first stage, and all four hits were close together and upper-center mass on the steel.


Why? A few reasons. I actually AM dry-firing on a regular basis now, and rather than just working on draw and trigger press, I’ve built a short course of fire with 13 targets set up in different arrays around my spare bedroom, so now I have practice drawing, moving, doing transitions and dealing with near and far targets.

You know, all that $@!% that Brian Enos talks about in his book. So maybe, just maybe, if I practice and pay attention, I can get good at this practical shooting thing.