It’s Like The NRA Reads This Blog, Or Something.

Me, a few weeks ago:

What’s needed is a politically-neutral exposition of all things Gun Culture 2.0 that has a participation element as well. No rants about “THEY’RE TRYING TO TAKE AWAY YOU GUNS!“. No Republican voter registration drives. Just guns, ways to enjoy your guns and ways to be around people who like guns.

The NRA, now:

Experience a full array of educational seminars and workshops featuring the best personal protection and concealed carry practices taught and demonstrated by leading experts and training instructors from across the country.  Ranging from one hour informational seminars to multi-hour, in-depth instruction and hands on training, there will be a wide variety of topics and options for all skill and knowledge levels.

Needs more shootey, but other than that, yeah, this looks pretty good. It’d be REALLY cool if the NRA could team up with a local range to run, say, a shortened version of The Mover and The Practical Bianchi Cup stages somewhere close to the event to help boost interest in one of practical shooting’s oldest events.

Thanks to GunCulture2.0 for the heads-up.

Glock and Roll

If guns are the new Harley-Davidson, where is the new Sturgis?

Motorcycle riders have been gathering at Sturgis since 1938*, but it didn’t become Sturgis until recently, when the middle class started riding motorcycles and wanted to travel somewhere to be with people who shared their common interest in motorcycles.

We have several gun related get-togethers like gun shows and the NRA Annual Meeting, but noticeably absent from those events is people safely enjoying how their guns shoot. Also, it’s my belief that there are gun owners who aren’t yet willing to join the NRA, due to the political nature of the NRA and it’s perceived extremism in some circles, and that needs to change, too.

What’s needed is a politically-neutral exposition of all things Gun Culture 2.0 that has a participation element as well. No rants about “THEY’RE TRYING TO TAKE AWAY YOU GUNS!“. No Republican voter registration drives. Just guns, ways to enjoy your guns and ways to be around people who like guns.

Some more thoughts on that tomorrow**.


* Incidentally, the first rallies were based around competition, not showing off your bikes. Think there might be a lesson there for gun companies? I do.
** Engagement, people. It’s called engagement.

Shoot To Live, Live To Shoot

There’s an answer to a question posed in yesterday’s post regarding ways to expand the shooting sports at a pace that matches the expansion of gun ownership, and that answer is found in the tag line of this blog: Guns are the new Harley-Davidson.

Harley was smart enough to realize that their long-term growth depended not just on people BUYING motorcycles, but RIDING them. The garages and closets of America are filled with gadgets and toys that people bought because it was the cool thing to do at that time, but then they quickly moved on to something else.

This is why I use the term “tactical pet rock” when it comes to today’s gun owners: At best, they’ll be like Harley owners, and understand that owning a gun means a change in their lifestyle. At worst, they’ve bought a novelty item like a pet rock that will languish on a closet shelf for decades until it’s time to get rid of it.

Harley-Davidson sells motorcycles pushing the idea of the open road, independence and freedom. They rarely talk about their actual products to new motorcycle owners, they talk about how a Harley makes you *feel*.

This is called “lifesytle marketing,”, and it’s an almost un-heard of thing inside Gun Culture 2.0.

Harley creates the “motorcycle lifestyle” with “Learn to Ride” events all over the country that teach people who want to buy a motorcycle how to actually RIDE a motorcycle.

Quick: Which gun company is doing that same sort of thing to encourage people to own (and shoot) their guns?

That’s right, none of them.

Glock is the closest to doing such a thing, and no, it’s not GSSF I’m talking about. Rather, it’s the Everglades Glock event they’ve put on the past couple of years down here at Louland gun range. It is a celebration of Glock ownership and has simple, easy-shoot stages that are closer to what a competition is truly like, rather the point-and-squirt stages of Steel Challenge or GSSF. This event is more about Glocks, how they shoot, what you can buy for them and how they fit into your lifestyle than it is about shooting a match or learning a new training technique.

We forget just how much new gun owners DON’T know about guns, and how “basic” our basic level of training and competition needs to be. Getting people to have fun at a shooting match is important, as is getting people to be carry more confidently because they’re well-trained. We forget, though, that the fun and the confidence has to come first, and then (and only then), the competition and the training will follow.

Life In The (Competition) Fast Lane

Most people who are buying guns today are buying them because they are afraid, and more specifically, afraid of being kilt.

So what do we do? We insist that in order to get better at shooting, new gun owners must do something that they fear even MORE than death, namely, public perfomance, and go shoot a match out in front of their peers.

Insanity. We stack fear on top of fear, and then we are amazed that the fearful don’t show up. The biggest problem right now is that there is no sanctioned on-ramp between blasting away in an indoor range and shooting IDPA. That needs to change (no, Steel Challenge doesn’t count*). The SSCA doesn’t demand that people immediately go from hauling around their kids in a minivan to competing in the 12 Hours of Sebring**, yet the USPSA does that all the time.

Gun sales are BOOMING: Over the last two Black Fridays, Americans bought enough guns to outfit the entire Marines Corps.

Twice.

So why aren’t USPSA, IPDA, et al growing at the same rate? Why isn’t post-CCW firearms training growing by leaps and bounds? If competition and training are supposed to be an essential part of Gun Culture 2.0, where are the new gun owners, and why aren’t they in a pistol bay somewhere? Clearly, there is a disconnect between the rate of gun sales and the rate of participation in both the shooting sports and firearms training beyond CCW, which tells me that what we’re doing now to attract people to those activities is clearly not working the way it should be. In response to this underperforming metric, though, all I hear is “No, they just need to shoot Steel Challenge more!” or “No, they use need to realize that owning a gun means you’re a Sheepdog!™ and train approprately”.

Those ideas are clearly not working. We need to try something else. More on what that “something else” might be in tomorrow’s post***.


* Steel Challenge doesn’t count because you’re just standing there, shooting one round at five steel targets five times a string. Yes, there is a timer involved, but the actions you’re performing (hitting five different targets as quickly as possible as you stand in one place) could just as easily be done in a lane indoors.
** The Sports Car Club of America is just as bad at this sort of thing. The only way to learn to drive fast on a track is to go to a track and hope there’s someone there who can teach you. Better drivers have fewer accidents, so you would think that the SCCA would be helping drivers drive BETTER, not faster… and you’d be wrong.
*** “I’ll see you shiver with an-tic-i-pa…”

After Action Report – Everglades Glock Range Day

Glock Event Stage

Not that easy of a stage, but people seemed to enjoy it.

Run and Gun

Four shooting areas, all steel, with some strong-side shooting as well.

Cosplayers were out in force.

Cosplayers were out in force.

Glock 40 MOS

Glock 40 MOS. I’m not a Glock guy, but I likey.

I popped down to Louland Gun Range over the weekend to check out the Everglades Glock event put on by, well, Glock and Step By Step Gun Training.

It’s a low-stress, lightweight version of a Glock Shooting Sports Event, but with stages that vary from year to year and some stage movement as well. There were four stages, along with a demo stage where people could pay five bucks to try out the Glock of their choice and a exhibitors area with vendors and a food truck.

This. This is how you do an “Intro To Competition Shooting” event, and you do it right. What made it work?

  1. Glock was the title sponsor, but their footprint on the event was smaller than at a GSSF event. I’m not a Glock owner, but I could be, and Glock did a good job of balancing their presence there with the need to bring in more shooters.
  2. Fun stages that were more than paper targets or plate racks. Shooting steel is fun. Shooting on the move is fun. Shooting steel while moving? Lots of fun. Look, you can go to an indoor range and stand there in one place and then blast away at a target all you want, but just about the only time you can move and shoot is in a pistol bay. Why, then, does Scholastic Steel Challenge and other “Introductory” sports set up static stages? When you played “Cowboys and Indians* ” as a kid, did you stand in one place and shoot your fingers at each other, or did you run all over the neighborhood like a roadrunner on meth?
    I thought so.
    So why, then do The Powers That Be think that standing in one place is a fun thing to do for people who’ve never shot a match before?
  3. Prizes. Even if it’s only one or two guns, it’s enough. I’ve seen people go NUTS for bar stools with Browning’s label on them, imagine what they’ll do for a free Glock 19.
  4. Relaxed atmosphere. No one was screaming “SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED!!!!”. No Threepers. None of the usual gun show nut jobs, although one guy had on thigh holster, because Mall Ninja, that’s why. The vast majority of people there were normal-looking and normal-acting. There is a time and a place to get riled up for what you believe in, but that time and place is not when you’re trying to bring new people into the cause.

Kudos to Louland, Everglades Ammo, Step By Step Gun Training and Glock for putting on such a fun event, and I hope others will learn from it and help spread the good word of safe and FUN practical shooting.


* That’s “Nomadic Livestock Management Engineers” and “Oppressed Native Americans” to you more post-modern types.

Match Report: Pistol Match at Louland 10/20/16

I had been trying to get out of the house to shoot a match on the weekend the last three weekends in a row, but time and tide worked against me. However, I realized that if I ducked out of work a bit early (thank goodness I’m salary, not wages), I could shoot the Thursday night match at LouLand and still have my weekends available for honey-dos.

So I did.

This is not a tough match. Lou has an extensive background in USPSA, but, in his own words, he’s tired of putting up with the crap that USPSA throws at him, so the matches are easy to shoot and have a low round count. Most of the stages consist of 3-5 shooting boxes with steel targets, and no table starts, memory stages or awkward shooting positions.

Like I said, not tough.

I shot well, or I should say, as well as I expected to given a three month hiatus. I had one Mike the entire match (I coulda sworn I hit that plate six times and not five) and a dropped shot or three, but other than that, I was happy.

One stage in particular was interesting, Stage Four. It was a very simple stage, but it revealed some things about my fellow shooters.

stage_four

It’s a nice little balance between speed and accuracy, and if you swap out the partial targets downrange with 6′ plates and toss in a mandatory reload, it’d make a dandy little drill stage because it combines speed, movement and accuracy all within 12 rounds.

But it was interesting watching how the shooters accustomed to this match handled this stage. There’s one sound lad in particular who is blazingly fast on the trigger and has great food speed, but his accuracy is… suboptimal. He blew through this stage in just under five seconds, but with a bunch of Charlies and a Mike on that close-up target. He shoots this match a lot, and his shooting style was developed in an environment that rewards fast movement and fast shooting, and if you miss, well, that’s what makeup shots are for!

stage_scores

How he would do at an IPDA or Bianchi Cup match, where accuracy trumps speed? What would that do to how he approaches this match?

If you want to remove the blind spots in your defensive skills, you train with a wide variety of competent trainers. If you want to shoot matches and have them assist your defensive skills, you need to shoot matches that show where you need improvement, not what you’re doing well.

 

Take What Is Best, Discard The Rest.

There’s been quite a lot of chatter from parts of the internet about the effectiveness of timers in training and what skills we should use as benchmarks in our training. Some of it is good, some of it isn’t.

A lot of the talk centers around what should and should not be tracked with a timer, because chasing those skills, some say, is a waste of your time and effort.

Let’s look at one of the most “gamer” skills out there, target-to-target transitions. “On the street” it doesn’t matter HOW fast your gun moves from one target to another, right? That sort of stuff is pure gamer, useful only for getting a better score at a match or impressing your buds at the range.

Or is it?

Let’s review.

  1. Pistols, even the vaunted .45AKCACP usually do not stop a threat with just one shot*.
  2. This means that multiple rounds on-target (preferrably in the center-mass area or into the ocular cavity of the skull) are going to be needed, and they’ll be needed under very stressful conditions.
  3. People don’t like getting shot and they tend to run away from people who are shooting at them.

All of this means that if (God forbid) we get into a gun fight, we may need to dump many rounds into a target that is moving so that it does not get shot full of holes.

Think being able to quickly acquire a new target and move your gun so the sights are on-target helps in that situation?

I do.

Still think that target transition speed is a “gamer” skill?

Let’s watch this in practice. Notice how fast the bad guys de-ass themselves after their supposed victim shows his claws. The “victim” in this case wisely decides to stop shooting when it’s apparent that their victim du jour is anything but and de-ass themselves from the situation, probably weighing slightly more as well, thanks to the several dozen grains of lead that is now deep inside their chest cavity.

They call them “running gun battles” for a reason, people.


* Although a round into the ocular cavity that drives into the medulla oblagata does tend to end things right quickly…

You Know What Happens When You Make An Assumption?

You make an ass out of “u” and… mption.

Ok, that didn’t work.

I shot a lightweight, casual indoor match at Naples Gun Range on Tuesday, and I was unpleasantly surprised by how much I sucked. I shot it with my carry Shield, and I was slow, slow, slow. I made up for it, though, with a lack of accuracy.

While I am in no ways satisfied with how I did there. However, it points out that, despite my confidence with this gun, I need a LOT more practice with my Shield, and I also need to take it to a gunsmith because it is not locking back on the last shot.

Look, if Michael Bane can trip himself up with some assumptions about his carry gear, so can I. Fortunately for me, all I need to do is head to the range more often, not subject myself to physical therapy multiple times each week.

I’ll take it. Yes, it sucks knowing I have such a long way to go, but it’s better to find out I suck now than find out when I’m on a two-way range and the stakes are much higher than a match win.

Also, this was first time I shot a match indoors, and I recommend everyone who’s serious about this sort of thing try it at least once. The physicality of shooting indoors, where you feel the muzzle blast as well as hear it, brings a new level of awareness to what’s going on. The odds are very, very slim you’ll be on a pistol bay when the balloon goes up, and if you are, brother, are you at the wrong shooting range!

Double The Action, Double The Fun!

Wait, that headline sounded like an advertisement for a Nevada bordello…

One of the things I learned in my Leatham class was what actually makes up a good practical shooting / combat trigger press. It’s not “riding the reset” or what have you, it’s having the sights on-target when the bullet exits the barrel. A good trigger press affects that because it is the last major (relatively speaking) motion that is made to the gun before the bullet exits. If, say, scratching the roof of the your mouth made more of a difference in accuracy than a trigger press, we’d be talking about our lingual dexterity rather than trigger weights and shapes.

But it’s not, so we don’t.

There are four parts to pulling the trigger and making the gun go BANG!: The press, the break, the overtravel and the reset. Of those four, only one (the press) affects accuracy, so that’s the one that matters. In general, a shorter, lighter trigger is better for accuracy than one that needs more ooomph to pull and takes longer to get there. However, a good shooter can shoot ANYTHING and get his or her hits.

Take a look at Rob shooting a 1911, and watch as his finger comes OFF the trigger at 0:16 or so. We’re told that’s not a good idea. We’re told to ride the reset. And yet somehow, Rob makes it work, and wins championships with what he’s doing.

Rob shoots a striker-fired gun quite well. He shoots revolvers well. He shoots 1911s well. He shoots everything well, because he is in charge of the trigger and doesn’t get bogged down in minutiae. If controlling a double action/single action gun is causing you to think you’re not accurate, you’re right, you won’t be. Unlike Chris, I don’t carry DA/SA guns because of safety reasons, I carry ’em ’cause I like ’em, and I’ve never seen the DA/SA trigger as that much of a problem.

And it isn’t.

 

Obscured Sight Picture

This is why you train with someone who know’s what they’re doing:

I ran through a quick drill with my P07 at the Shoot N Scoot event back in April, and part of the course of fire for that drill was some 40 yard A/C zone steel plates. I had a more-difficult time than I expected hitting that plate, and Jeff Street suggested that the problem might be that my eyes were shifting to the target at the last second.

He’s right, and it took a 3rd-party, someone who can diagnose the problem, for me to understand what’s going on.

I have yet to find a sight setup for the P07 that I like. I bought one of the earlier “Duty” versions of the gun, so it came with sights that mimicked Glock sights (which is kinda like wanting to mimic the singing talent of Justin Beiber). I swapped those out for Meprolight tritiums, but because them suckers have a narrow rear notch and a rather huge front blade, I am still having issues isolating on the front sight during a course of fire.

This is where being a special snowflake and shooting a gun that’s not a Glock, S&W or Sig really hurts. If I shot a Glock, I’d drop a set of Sevignys on that gun in a heartbeat, I really like them. However, the P07 wasn’t really supporting by anyone, not even CZ, until the creation of the “Carry Optics” class in USPSA. Now I can find all manner of red dot accessories and suppressor sights for that gun, but there’s still only one or two options for fiber optic sights, and just the Mepros for night sights. I do love me my CZ’s, but that love comes at a cost.