Match Report: SWSFA Handgun Challenge

Match Report: SWSFA Handgun Challenge

I travelled up the I-75 Saturday to shoot the Handgun Challenge match at the SW Florida Sportsman’s Association. The match rules are a hybrid of USPSA and IDPA and are light weight, unobtrusive and make a lot of sense. The match was very low-key and laid-back, and started with something I’ve never done before, a man-on-man shootoff.

Yep, a half-dozen years in this sport, and I’ve never shot a shoot-off, mainly because I’d shot so long out at Rio, and no matter how good you’d do there, you’d end up shooting against Rob or Angus or Nils, and that was the end of that.

But at this match, I did pretty well. I ended up in the final round (there was about a dozen shooters there), but I had my @ss handed to me by a little kid who was much faster and better than I am.



The other part of the match was one stage you could run through multiple times with multiple guns. I ran through it twice with the same gun: Once normally, and once REALLY concentrating on accuracy in order to go down ten points or less. Here’s video of me on the concentration run.

I had no presuppositions for this match. I’d never shot it before, I’d never been to this range before, I had no clues about divisios or rules or whatever. My pre-match strategy was literally “Ok, let’s see what happens and go from there”. In short, I was as close to the Zen ideal of a “beginner’s mind” as I’ve been in the last few years, and just relied on innate, unconscious shooting.

The stage design also encouraged this approach, as aside from headshot at the end, there weren’t any really tricky targets, and the course of fire was easy with no memory games needed.

What’s REALLY interesting is the time/score between the “unconscious” and the “conscious” run. 2 years ago, in order to shoot my best, I needed to concentrate hard on the A Zone/ Down Zero zone and get my hits, because that’s what I found led to success.

Today? Not so much.


I’m almost TEN SECONDS up faster on the stage running it with my unconscious mind and almost four and half seconds up faster with points down figured in.

Remember when I said I think I’ve reached the point where Brian Enos’ book can help me? I think I now have proof that I was right.

So what’s stopping me from shooting unconsciously all the time?

  • Stage Design: Anytime there’s multiple opportunities to shoot the same target from different locations or blow past a port, I need to think about things and that slows me down.
  • Precision Over Speed: I still slow down and *think* about hitting long-range or precise shots, and the time to think about slowing down takes as much (or more) time as focusing on the front sight and making the shot. I’ll still need that front sight focus as I progress, but I think I can shift mental gears quicker over time, improving my score.

Other than that, I’ve very satisfied with what I see and where I am. On to bigger and better things.

Update: Edited for clarity.

The Fundamentals Never Go Out Of Style

The Fundamentals Never Go Out Of Style

Had a fun little night-time training session with Jeff and Robyn from Step By Step Training last week. I learned a lot about my gear (memo to self: Get night sights for the Shield, STAT!), and talked with them about a bit about what drives their passions.

Me? I’m a gamer, with trainer tendencies. I’m concerned about my personal protection, but I’ve decided my path to mastery (or at least not-suckery) goes through learning to shoot for shoot’s sake.

An explanation.

Going back and looking at that match video from earlier this month, nothing there, by itself, is “tactically unsound”. Most (if not all) of what we can “tactical training” has to do with NOT shooting a gun. Getting a smooth draw, quick reload and fast, accurate hits is something at applies to training range and pistol match alike.

So why some people think that “competition will get you killed on the streets” is something I’ll never know.

There Are Three Reasons To Film A Match.

There are three reasons to film a match.

One is to share your exploits with your friends and family.
Another is prove to yourself just how dang good you are (or think you are…).
Thirdly, to show where you need improvement.

This post is about that last item.

Here’s two of the stages at nice little practical match at Louland Gun Range just south and east of Naples. I reminds me a lot of the Tuesday Night Steel match at Rio, except one of the stages (as you’ll see) uses paper targets.

Lessons Learned from Stage Three

  1. Holy cow, is my draw ever slow! I don’t need a shot timer to measure it, I need a sundial!
  2. REALLY like my movement out of that first position. I’m on the move less that 0.2 seconds after the BANG. I set up in the box leaning slightly to the right, which allowed me to push off and start moving to the next position with no wasted motion.
  3. My splits are long here (0.6 seconds) but I’m getting my hits, and there is no difference between the split times in-between shots on the same target and shots on a new target. Cool.
  4. That is not a reload, so much as an interpretative dance about reloads. Based on my many, many times running an El Pres, I know I can do it better and faster.

Lessons Learned from Stage Two

  1. Again, the painfully slow draw. Something needs to change there, and soon.
  2. I drop a missed shot on a popper on the second array, which goofs up my stage plan…
  3. … but I recover for some turn’n’burn rapid fire on that stationary target. I’m happy with my speed and hits there.
  4. Speaking of speed and hits, after I send another miss downrange, my splits on those last two targets are very good (for me) and again, there is no time difference between shots on the same target and shots on a new target.

So all in all, there is areas where I need improvement, and areas where my improvement has paid off. I’m not going to beat Rob Leatham, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be better.

Oh yeah, and it’s pretty scenic down here in the Sunshine State.

Practical shooting in Florida

Cover Drill

Cover drill

Miami ViceI’m doing something many men never, ever do, and that’s re-thinking my wardrobe. For a lot of guys, “wardrobe” consists of jeans and t-shirts with logos on them, and that’s ok, they’re guys.

I, however, have had a conscious “style” for the last 20 years, and it was black. Black t-shirts or long-sleeve shirts (NEVER a polo shirt or short-sleeve dress shirt), no logos, no brands and either jeans or khakis, and it served goofy artistic me very well, as I what I wore became part of how people thought of me.

It’s called “branding”, people, and it’s not just for corporations.

But it’s time for a change. I’m going to be changing gradually this year to something more tropical and lighter weight, and part of what I need to consider in my new wardrobe is concealed carry.

For daily wear, I’m gravitating towards guayabera shirts in white or off-white and khakis. I’ve liked them for a while now (ever since I lived in Costa Rica) and apparently they’re pretty darn good for concealed carry as well, so that takes care of my off-work sartorial needs.

For work, that’s easy. I have a uniform (first time I’ve had that since I worked fast food). It’s a nice black Columbia Sportswear shirt which needs to be tucked in, and for a bunch of reasons (the least of which is to help acclimatize people to such things), I want to open carry inside the store. I’m looking to pickup a nice OWB holster for the P07 for shop use, but that presents a problem: What do I do when I walk outside the store? Florida doesn’t have open carry (yet), so for the first time in my life, I need a cover garment that isn’t an untucked shirt.

I’ve narrowed it down to three options, and I’d appreciate your input.

  1. A lightweight IDPA “Shoot me first!” vest. There’s a ton of fishing going on here, but almost none of it involves the stuff you need a vest for. I’d stick out like a sore thumb in a vest, but on the other hand, I work in a gun store, and looking all tac’d out would not be a bad thing.
  2. A lightweight dress shirt, like something in chambray or linen. I *love* chambray shirts, I used to wear them all the time layered over a t-shirt. A shirt like this would conceal the gun and not look too out of place, and it’d also be my least-expensive option. Downside: Stray winds exposing the gun. Florida’s “brandishing” laws seem pretty good, but still, why take a chance?
  3. A lightweight suit jacket. Properly made, a summer weight jacket is very easy to wear in the all but the hottest of climates, and as Naples has MONEY, it’d make me look a bit spiffier outside of work. Downside? Being nicknamed “Crockett”.

Your thoughts? Is there something I overlooked?

A Year To Remember

A Year To Remember

long range AR

Wow, what a year.

Right off the bat, I want to thank everyone who stopped by the blog. There are millions of things to read out there on the internet, and I’m always humbled that people consider what I blather on about here to be worth their time.

It’s been quite a year. Being on TV. Hosting an *incredible* SHOT show party. Writing some more stuff for Shooting Illustrated. Training with Paul CarlsonTraining with Rob Pincus. Getting hired to market a gun store. Getting hired to market an even cooler gun range. Shooting rather well (for me) in a 3 Gun match. Shooting at the home of the Bianchi Cup. Shooting my first-ever precision rifle match. Shooting over 60% in a classifier. Starting a dry-fire regime to not suck as much.

Gun wise, things were quiet. I won a lower at Superstition which I turned into a dedicated precision AR (it’s that gun that leads this post), and I bought another lower and a Sig brace from my last employer that will probably turn into a 9mm AR pistol.

Meeting Bob Owens and Katie Pavlich and Chris Cheng and so many, many more cool people. Seeing this amazingly beautiful country. Seeing snow fall once more, and then having the brains to leave it behind for warmer climes. Spending Christmas afternoon on the beach. Worshipping and singing in the choir in a small-town Baptist church of 100 people and a huge mega-church of 1000. It’s been a year like no other, and thanks once again for sharing it with me.

Now, on to 2016!

Window Of Vulnerability

Window of Vulnerability


I was JUST in the process of buying the needed items for my Three Day Bag in order to make it more useful for the colder climes of Missouri rather than the dry heat of Arizona, and now it looks like I’ll need to change those plans once more to accommodate my new life in Florida.

This un-nerves me a bit, as my family and I are particularly vulnerable right now. We know next to nobody, so we have no support system in-place. We’re not familiar with the area (we still use Siri to get to the grocery store) and we’ve no idea about the roads out of town or what to do when the levee breaks. We are VERY vulnerable right now, and I don’t like that.

Even worse, we currently live in a small apartment, so stocking up on anything is pretty much a no-go due to space. We have room for a week’s worth of food, and that’s about it.

So over the next few months, it’s going to be on my shoulders to learn the threats to life here in this corner of the Sunshine State and create appropriate responses so we can live our lives can go on with as little interruption as possible.

Stay tuned.

Exit question: What gun for Crocosaurus?

A Moment Of Zen. And Then A Few More.

A Moment of Zen. And then a few more.

First, someone else’s pic of the Naples Pier. Haven’t been there yet, as we just arrived in-town.

1 naples pier sunset 5

Secondly, Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to everyone. Because of the new job, the holidays and our urgent need to unpack our life (again), posting here will be light this week.

Our plan is to spend Christmas Eve at church, Christmas morning at the beach, and then we’re not really sure where we’ll be having Christmas dinner.

Anyone have a good recipe for Caribbean-style roasted turkey?

About That New Logo

About that new logo

New Logo for Misfires And Light StrikesBecause I now live in Florida, I felt I needed to update the look of the blog. The old design borrowed heavily from the logo for the Arizona Coyotes, but this time, I was going for something that looked like a 50/50 mix of a Travis McGee book jacket and the Art-Deco look of Miami Vice, because Florida.

I kinda like it. Makes me feel like I’m starring in my own 80’s police drama.

Now I just need to find a good deal on a gently used 308 GTS

And yes, that is my CZ P07 in there. If only there was a way to mix in references to the 9th Symphony, Nikon FM2’s and Belgian farmhouse ales, I’d have all my favorite things showing up in my logo!

One For The Money

One For The Money

Now go, cat, go!

As you are reading this, my family and I are either on our way to Naples, Florida, or have already arrived there to re-start our life together. My job with Osage County Guns just wasn’t viable in the long run, and as much as my wife and I loved (and I mean really loved) small-town living, the employment options for an internet marketing dude in a town of 1500 in central Missouri were diddley and/or squat.

Enter Lotus Gunworks Naples.

Your life. Plus guns.

It’s a new “guntry” club opening up early next year in the very wealthy (and very Republican) Naples area. It’s got a VIP area. They manufacture their own ammo for the range. They will have 30+ lanes. They have a teleportation device to instantly move clients from the showroom to the range.

The Alamo At Lotus Gunworks Naples

I may have made that last one up.

The job opportunity with this range just staggers the imagination. I loved my time with Osage County Guns and they run a tight ship there, but it just wasn’t right for me over the long haul, and that’s what I’m interested in these days. Now, however, instead of just marketing guns, I’ll be marketing Gun Culture 2.0. All that stuff I’ve written about building a gun club for today’s gun owner? Yeah, now I actually have to do it. Yikes!

So what does that mean for you?

When I was at Osage County Guns, we gave away an S&W Bodyguard and a Sig .22 1911 as a show of support to the online firearms world. So what will happen now that I have access to a range, warm winter temperatures, lots of ammo and full auto guns?

The mind, as they say, reels.

So if you could, could you swing by their Facebook page and give them a like? Also, if you’re a gunblogger, YouTuber (tubist?) or a blog reader in the Florida area (C’mon, I *know* you’re out there: I can see you in my Analytics), drop me a note. I want to hear from you, because there’s some cool things I want to with the Florida gunblogging community because you all are on the front lines.

Sadly, though, it looks like a rental 20mm Vulcan Air Defense System won’t be in the works.

I asked, and they said “No.”

But that’s about the only disappointment ahead. I can’t tell you how excited I am to do this, it’s an opportunity like nothing I’ve done before. I’ll have a chance to create a gun range and showroom environment that will be more than I can imagine.

And I can imagine quite a bit.