Thank You, Smith And Wesson.

Thank You, Smith And Wesson.

My youngest son and I had a blast last month shooting my red-dotted Smith&Wesson M22A, because it’s a seriously fun gun to shoot. Like laugh-out-loud-after-a-mag-dump fun.

But after just three mags through the gun, it jammed up tight on us, and we had to set it aside (major bummer), and to make matters worse, I spotted a crack along the frame right by the trigger guard, and it was pretty obvious the gun itself was broken in two.

Uh-oh.

I sent it back to Smith&Wesson, and not only did they swap it out for a brand-new .22LR Victory, they upgraded me to the threaded barrel version so I (eventually) drop a can on it as well (I’m thinking that this little sucker might go well with the gun).

Thanks, Smith&Wesson, for not only replacing my old and busted M22A with the latest .22LR hotness, but upgrading me as well!

Ready To Qual

Ready To Qual

The NRA Pistol Qualifier has been kicking my butt as of late. What SHOULD be a rather easy test of marksmanship (20 shots into an eight inch circle at fifteen yards, sixteen within the circle, six inch maximum group size) has turned into a nightmare for me. It’s not that I can’t shoot (I did a darn good job at the last Louland match I attended, placing in the top third on all the stages) it’s just that all my training for the last ten years or so has bee based around learning to balance speed and accuracy, and this test is 100% accuracy, no speed. I’ve shot it three times now, and each time, I failed to pass, sometimes spectacularly.

This does not make me happy.

Practice, however, makes perfect, so with some help from Aaron over at Shoot Center, Jeff from StepByStep and lots and lots of dry fire practice, I managed to do this during my last practice session.

“But Kevin,” I hear you say, “looking at those photos, you’re setting yourself up for more failure!”

And you’d be right, if those were 8 inch circles. But they’re not, they’re six inch circles. I figure that the true test here isn’t getting sixteen shots out of twenty shots into an eight inch circle, it’s getting sixteen out of twenty shots into a six inch group. Which I’ve done. With two different guns.

I’ll take it.

Oh, and as an aside, I shot a 5×5 drill with my LCP2 just to keep up my skill with that little gun, and it turned out pretty well. Not bad for a pistol about the same size as a chocolate chip cookie.

Consistently Tactical

Consistently Tactical

There was a particular nugget of truth dropped about halfway through this interview with Chris Tilley over at the Triangle Tactical podcast. One thing that practical shooting drills into your brain more than anything else is consistent performance with your gun. Shooting a match also gives you a reason to shoot your gun on a regular basis, in much the same way that golf gives you an excuse to go out with your buddies and drink beer or fishing gives you an excuse to go out into the outdoors and drink beer.

Want to get better at shooting? GO SHOOT!

Worry about such things as “training scars” later, because a “training scar” implies you’re training, something that is most assuredly NOT happening if you’re on the couch binge-watching Netflix.

Missing Links.

Missing Links.

Tam makes a good point, as she is wont to do.

“I’m never going to need tactical fantasy band camp!”

Ignore the safety apparel; the plates and helmet in the shoot house are as necessary as eyes and ears on the square range. Do you think that moving in a structure and problem-solving with a gun in your hand is a skill that might someday be necessary?

I’ve done a LOT of problem-solving with a gun in my hand; it’s called practical shooting, and I’m… ok at it. One thing I’ve not done, though, is take a class using either my defensive shotgun or my defensive rifle inside of a structure, which is kinda sorta how I foresee using said devices.

Whoops. Time to change that.

The Drill That Dare Not Speak Its Name

The Drill That Dare Not Speak Its Name

There are very few drills that incite more conversation than the tried and true El Presidente drill.

The drill itself is deceptively easy:

  • Set up three USPSA targets 10 yards away, with about one yard in between them
  • Load your pistol with 6 rounds, and have a reload with 6 rounds standing by
  • Turn so your back is facing the targets and wait for the beep of the timer
  • Turn and draw your gun, and shoot each target twice, which will empty your gun
  • Reload, and shoot each target twice more
  • Only hits in the vital area (either the center-chest area or, if you’re good, the head box) count for score

Seems simple, right? The problem is, most of the early classification drills for USPSA use something similar, so the El Presidente is forever tied to the “gaming” scene, and its detractors say it’s nothing but a one-way ticket to training scars that will teach you to shoot just two rounds into a target and move along.

But what does this drill actually teach?

  1. Quick target acquisition. Standing with your back to the targets means you have to seek out your first shot as you turn, and then do it again after your reload.
  2. Quick target transitions. Two shots and the moving on forces you to learn to see the target with your eyes first, then bring the gun to bear. Think this applies to hitting a moving target? I do.
  3. Gun manipulation. While I don’t see the value in learning a fast reload to the average person who carries concealed, the fact is, the motions needed to reload your gun quickly are pretty much identical to the motions needed to clear most, if not all, the various malfunctions you might have with your gun.

Sounds pretty handy to me.

The biggest drawback I see with the drill is that it requires a pistol bay and three target stands to shoot, something not every shooter is going to have lying around. Is the El Prez the be-all, end-all of drills? Heck no. Is it an outdated relic that is of little use to today’s pistol owners? Also no.

In Just Seven Days, I Can Make You A Man

In Just Seven Days, I Can Make You A Man

A terrific post about student growth (and the lack thereof) inside the firearms training community.

“If there’s anything USPSA competition has shown me it is that those people who do better and who want to do better practice practice practice until their high-speed weapons manipulation skills under stress are superior to just about everybody who’s gone to a tactical school but never spent the time to actually practice those techniques that they paid so much money to learn.”

Shooting a practical pistol match USPSA or IDPA match means you have embraced the suck; that you understand that don’t know it all and are willing to demonstrate that lack of knowledge in front of your family and friends. Shooting a match means you know you need to improve, and more importantly, you are willing to take the time and effort to do so. Most people KNOW they need to lose weight or drink less or whatever, but they don’t actually DO it, because that requires effort.

There are ways to make that change less painful. Planet Fitness (and others) are set up so that you can do your exercises and see the results without joining jock culture, and Alcoholics Anonymous lets people find the sources of strength they need to kick a destructive habit.

When my wife’s students leave her middle-school math class each day, they have a homework assignment to do for the following day that will reinforce and expand upon what they previously learned in the classroom.

The list of firearms trainers who hand out drills when class is over which can be used by their students in order to reinforce and expand on what they learned in class is really short. The list of trainers who hand out drills that can be used on the ranges that their students typically have access to (Hint: not a pistol bay) is even shorter.

Giving your students a practice routine that is a) fun and b) something they can do on a regular basis and c) something they can practice without a radical outlay of time and/or money seems like a good way to keep your students coming back for more, and as a bonus, it’ll make them better shooters as well.

Win, win, win.

What Aren’t You Talking About?

What Aren’t You Talking About?

You may notice that I haven’t been talking about my CZs much as of late.

There’s a reason for that.

I took the P07 to TacCon so I could shoot Ernest Langdon’s DA/SA class with it, and I did quite well, shooting a 299/300 in the match. However, since then, I have sucked the suck out of suck with that gun. It got so bad, I reached the point that I couldn’t even shoot a clean Dot Torture drill with it at three yards.

In other words, I sucked.

Now the thing is, I didn’t suck at SHOOTING… I managed an Expert on a run thru the 5×5 Qualifier with my 1911, so the skills were there, I just couldn’t translate those skills onto the P07.

Why was this happening?

Good question.

Usually with a DA/SA gun, it’s that loooong and heavy Double Action first pull that kills your accuracy.

Not me. It was the second trigger pull, the lighter, shorter pull that was doing me in. I was/am doing a lot of dry fire with that gun, and my finger was getting used to an 8lb pull trigger pull with every shot, so when I shot the gun for real and that second shot WASN’T 8 pounds, but rather a shade over 4 pounds, whoosh, there went my shot, low and left.

The cure?

Shooting the P07 with live ammo, and paying CLOSE attention to how my front sight was moving as pulled the trigger on both my DA and my SA shots (thanks, Jeff!).

I shot the pistol in the weekly steel match at Louland, and I did pretty well, scoring above my average on a number of stages.

But when it came to re-shoot the NRA Instructor Qual, I choked. Again. To make matters worse, in practicing with my Shield afterwards, I passed.

This makes no sense. The single-action trigger on the P07 is MILES better than the Apex trigger in my Shield, and the sights on my P07 are set up to be really easy to shoot accurately.

And yet, I suck with that gun when the pressure is on. This tells me that the problem is in my head, and that it’s going to take a lot of practice to get it out of there.

Product Review: MK Machining Etched AR500 Steel IPSC Target

Product Review: MK Machining Etched AR500 Steel IPSC Target

AR500 IPSC Etched Steel TargetI love shooting steel targets: There is just nothing like the “ping” you get when you drop a shot onto a steel target. The weekly match at LouLand that I shoot quite often is pretty much 100% steel targets and is just a hoot to shoot.

So when I was contacted by MK Machining to review some of their products*, I was eager to try out a unique product they offer, a scaled-down AR500 IPSC Metric steel target that’s etched with the scoring zones for IPSC competitions.

Cool.

The scoring lines on the 1/2 scale target I was sent are cut in with a water jet cutter, and they are clear and well-defined. Scoring them in a match might be a bit of challenge, however: Steel splatter does NOT leave a grease ring, so your overlays are useless with this target**.

In order to see how those scoring lines held up under fire, I set up the target on the firing line at Step By Step Gun Training‘s “Shoot and Scoot” event this month, and I, along with 20 or so other students shot at it to our heart’s content.

I didn’t watch the target like a hawk, so have no idea on the total number of rounds, but I know I myself put 100 round of 115gr 9mm FMJ and 50 rounds of 220gr .45 ACP FMJ into it, and I saw other students in the class plinking away at it as well, so let’s say we put at least 200 rounds into it over the course of a Saturday morning.

And here’s what the target looked like after we were done.
AR 500 Steel Target for USPSA
The etched markings held up great: They were straight and none of the lines showed any dents or collapsing from the impact of all those rounds.

I didn’t repaint the steel after the shoot was over, but I did chat with a representative of MK Machining about the viability of applying layer after layer of paint on top of the target after each shooter is done with the course of fire, and he said that was never a problem with their testing. Apparently, it takes a LOT of paint to clog up those etched scoring lines, and if it ever gets to be too much, a few minutes worth of effort with a flathead screwdriver will clean them up nicely.

If you love shooting steel but want to work on getting valid hits beyond “anywhere in the C Zone” or you run a steel match and want to add in an element of IPSC/USPSA scoring into a stage, check out these targets from MK Machining.

* They sent it to me for review… get it, FCC?
** And having shot on squads that were chock-full of rules lawyers, that’s probably not a bad thing…

Colt 2000 .45 ACP 1911 2000 Round Challenge – Rounds 1596 – 1795

Colt 2000 .45 ACP 1911 2000 Round Challenge – Rounds 1596 – 1795

I brought the Colt to one of Step By Step Gun Training’s “Shoot And Scoot” events to work on my  movement and splits on a stage. The Shoot And Scoots are good for this sort of thing, as the stages are very simple and scores are not kept.

I didn’t keep track of my speed from run to run, but rather, concentrated on speeding up my movement and seeing the sights well enough to speed up my follow-up shots.

Overall, I’m pleased with this gun, and I’ll be shooting it often after the test is done. I put 200 rounds of Remington UMC .45ACP ammo through the gun, with no drama at all.

Colt Competition 2000 Round Challenge

Rounds Fired:
200 Rounds Remington UMC 230 Grain FMJ

Results:

1795 Rounds Fired
One Double Feed, Round #1347 (Remington UMC)
One Failure To Feed, Round #1568 (MagTech Defender)
One Failure To Feed, Round #1574 (MagTech Defender)