Pre-visualization

Pre-visualization

USPSA/IDPA targets and stage props are available for free download and free use in Google Sketchup

Testing 1, 2, 3

Now stage designers can see how a stage flows and looks in before one target stand gets hauled out of storage. Sketchup is easy to use and learn (heck, my nieces used it to re-design their bedroom) and has become the de-facto standard in consumer-level 3D CAD programs.

It may take too much time to create a stage in Sketchup versus Stagebuilder or Powerpoint for club matches, but this is *perfect* for Area Championships and big matches, as it allows a stage designer to pre-flight and run a virtual walk-through on a stage as it’s being planned. 

 

Getting Started In Practical Shooting

Getting started in Practical Shooting

Over two million people a week watch Top Shot on History Channel. 3 Gun Nation is in its second season, and TV networks are scrambling for more shooting shows. Shooting shows are becoming more popular as “Gun Culture 2.0” becomes more popular and more popular and people look to the practical shooting sports as a way to hone their defensive firearms skills.

And I count myself as one of this crowd. I didn’t get into the shooting sports because I grew up around guns, (though I did quite a lot of shooting in my youth), I shoot because a) it’s FUN and b) I want to protect my family’s life. I am fortunate to have a home range that is ground zero for USPSA in my area, so I thought I’d write a quick guide for everyone out there who want to get into practical shooting but don’t know where to start.

A quick word: I’m not “high speed, low drag” (the opposite, in fact…) and I’m not a Tier One Tactical Operator, I’m just a guy who thought practical shooting might be a fun way to get in some firearms training, so this advice is coming from someone whose first time at a match wasn’t that long ago… 

What you’ll need:

A serviceable and safe handgun, minimum caliber 38 spl./9mm. Almost anything out of the box in those calibers is good to go as is.
A safe holster on a belt. Nylon may (MAY work), Kydex or leather is better. No drop-leg, shoulder, cross-draw or small of back holsters.
Magazines or speed loaders and carriers for same. 
Ear and eye protection. 

What does this mean in real-world terms? 

$500-700 for a new pistol. Glock, S+W, CZ, Springfield, whatever. Get something you like, know how to use and are comfortable with. If you’ve recently bought a pistol for home defence, it should work just fine.

$50-100 for the holster and magazine carriers. Bladetech, Safariland and Blackhawk! are all good brands to look out for. 

$50-100 in spare magazines or speed loaders. Yes, you can compete with just two, but no, you don’t want to. 

$10-50 for a range bag to carry everything. Something big enough to carry all of the above yet easy to lug around with you from stage to stage

$40 and up for ammo. Here we get to the really expensive part of practical shooting. A typical match for my club is 4 stages, each with about 25-35 rounds fired. Add in misses and the need to keep your spare magus full and you’ll soon see that bringing 200 or more rounds to a match is a good idea. 

Pre-match training. Know how to use your gun and use it safely. You don’t need to be Annie Oakley, but you should know how to load it, how to unload it, how to deal with loading or feeding issues and most importantly, the basics of gun safety. An NRA First Steps is a great way to get the basic training needed, and I recommend for all first-time shooters.

Is it worth it? 

Oh yeah. A practical shooting competition will quickly show you how well you perform under semi-stressful conditions with a firearm. Under the artificial stress of the timer, simple things like reloading an empty pistol become the hardest thing you’ve ever done, and hard things like hitting a 25 yard head shot become nigh-impossible. But the more you do it, the easier it becomes, and the more you become confident in your firearms-handling abilities.

This is the reason I do this, (well, that, and it’s FUN) and it’s the same reason why humans have used games to train for combat since the days of ancient Greece. We train to be good when it doesn’t matter so we can be good when the highest stakes we have are on the line.

Flight Of Fancy

Flight of fancy

USPSA v. FBI QITI wanted to see how my daily carry rig stood up to a standardized pistol drill, and I chose the Air Marshal standards course, as it seemed to be (and was) a good test of my skills and equipment.

The rig I used was my CZ P07 in a Crossbreed SuperTuck, concealed with an oversized t-shirt. My spare mag was stored in my weak-side front pocket. I don’t have any FBI QIT targets, so I used a USPSA Metric target. I scored A, B and C hits as 5 pts, D hits as 2, and misses as zero.

The drill, and my results

All strings are shot from a distance of seven yards.
Qualification: Time: Cannot exceed total time for each drill. Example: Drill #1 – 1st time 1.70 seconds, 2nd time 1.55 seconds; Total = 3.25 seconds = Go. Must achieve a “GO” on each drill. Accuracy: Target is FBI “QIT” (bottle). Total rounds fired is 30. Point value inside bottle = 5. Point value touching line or outside bottle = 2. Maximum possible score = 150. Mininum qualifying score = 135. All stages must equal “GO” to qualify.

Individual Drill Starting Position Time Allowed Actual Time Score Pass/Fail
One Round (Twice)
3.3 Seconds Total
Concealed from Holster 1.65 seconds 1.92 5 F
1.65 seconds 1.82 5 F
Double Tap (twice)
2.70 Seconds Total
Low Ready 1.35 seconds .98 10 P
1.35 seconds 1.07 10 P
Rhythm; fire 6 rounds at one target; no more than 0.6 second between each shot.
3 Seconds Total
Low Ready 3.0 seconds 2.62 30 P
One Shot, speed reload, one shot (twice).
6.5 Seconds Total
Low Ready 3.25 seconds 2.89 10 P
3.25 seconds 5.35 10 F
One Round each at two targets three yards apart (twice).
3.3 Seconds Total
Low Ready 1.65 seconds 1.35 10 P
1.65 seconds .89 7 P
180° pivot. One round each at three targets (twice). Turn left, then right.
7.0 Seconds Total
Concealed from Holster 3.5 seconds 2.84 15 P
3.5 seconds 2.75 10 P (?)
One Round, slide locks back; drop to one knee; reload; fire one round. (twice).
8.0 Seconds Total
Low Ready 4.0 seconds 5.1 10 F
4.0 seconds 4.7 10 F
Result: (1 miss on one of the pivot drill strings)       142 Fail

A few thoughts…

FAIL.

I love my Crossbreed Supertuck, but it sucks to draw from. I need to start thinking about a pancake or yaqui slide holster for the P07 and use the Crossbreed only as a tuckable IWB holster, or else modify the Supertuck so I can get a quicker draw.

And no, switching to a “shoot me first” vest isn’t something I’m considering, mainly because I never wore them in the past, even when I was a full-time photographer, and in the heat of a 115+ Phoenix summer, adding on additional layers of clothing doesn’t seem that wise. Besides, I’m more of The Dude than I am Walter Sobchak .

I need a better way to store spare mags than my front pocket. I blew one string because I wasted a couple of seconds playing pocket pool with my reload, and failed two others for much the same reason.

All in all, though, I like the drill as it tests both my skill set and the tools I use. When I didn’t hav to draw or reload, I easily beat the required par times. A few tweaks to my holster and accessories, and I should pass the next time I run this drill.

Seventh Report

Seventh Report

It’s been far too long in between practice sessions. I’ve been shooting matches and keeping to my schedule, just not practicing.

Dot Torture Drill: 46/50

March 2

I was doing SO good on this until I let my brain slip into neutral and my trigger jerk showed up. As to what’s going on in Dot 10 there, I have no idea… 

030211 CZ75 1 CZ75 2 CZ75 3
Target One 2A C M 2A C M 4A
Target Two 2A 2C 4C 2A 2C
Target Three 2A C D 2A C D 3A D

Time 9.43 7.86 9.07
A’s 6 4 9
B’s
C’s 4 6 2
D’s 1 1 1
M’s 1 1
Points 33 29 52
Score 3.5 3.69 5.73

One ammo-related misfire

And a new high score on the drill! Let’s compare how much I’ve come along in the past 9 months with just one practice session and one match a month (or so). 

070710 CZ75 1 CZ75 2
Target One A, C, M, M 4A
Target Two A, D, M, M 2A, 1C, 1D
Target Three 2A, 1C, 1M 2A, 2C
Time 9.1 11.43
A’s 4 8
B’s
C’s 2 3
D’s 1 1
M’s 5
Points -23 50
Score -2.53 4.37
Draw 2.33 3.08

9.1 seconds with 5 Mikes versus 9.07 with 9 Alphas, and my draw is now in the 1.8-ish range (I forget to write that stuff down this session).

How fast I’m improving could be better, but I don’t have the time and $$$ I need to do more than I already am, and besides, this is FUN. Anymore worrying about it, and it’d seem too much like work.

More …

Learning From Red Bull

Learning from Red Bull

Consider this video for the Red Bull Air Racing World Series: What can we learn from it when it comes to promoting practical shooting?

1. Personality goes a long way. The nationality of each pilot is up front and center, giving us a reason to cheer (or boo) right off the bat. 

2. Fan-friendly venues. The fans can see the action at the venue know the score as the event happens. Ever gone to a USPSA match or IDPA match as a spectator? From personal experience, I can tell you they really suck to watch (80% of a squad’s time on a stages is spent with walk-throughs, scoring and taping). 3 Gun Nation does a great job at distilling the essence of three-gun down to an exciting competition, but a little bleacher seating and some local promotion would go  help bring in more people to the sport.

3. Real-time scoring. The fact is, you can’t tell from watching a USPSA or IDPA competition who is doing well in the match and who isn’t. Sure, a competitor may ace a stage, but what that means to the match as a whole is a mystery until the final day of the match when all the scores are tallied.

4. Big-time sponsors. Smith and Wesson, FNUSA and Cheaper Than Dirt’s revenues COMBINED probably don’t add up to one-eighth of the money that Red Bull makes in the U.S. alone. Bass Pro Shops teaming up with Top Shot is great step in this direction (even if all they show is fishing commercials during the show). 

Sixth Report

Sixth Report

Remember how I said “next time, it’ll be perfect?” 

I lied. 

4 to go

Dot Torture Drill: 46 out of 50

Not unexpected: I’ve not had any range time of note since the Classic last month, and while dry-fire is good, live-fire is better. 

El Presidente Scores 

CZ75 1 CZ75 2 CZ75 3  CZ75 4
Target One A 2C D A B D M 1A 3C 1A 3C
Target Two 3A D 2A C D 2A 2C 2A 2 C
Target Three A 2C D 3C D 3A 1C 3A 1C

Time 8.78 8.88 8.98 8.51
A’s 4 6 6 6
B’s
C’s 5 5 6 6
D’s 2 1
M’s 1
Points 27 46 48 48
Score 3.08 5.18 5.35 5.64
Draw 2.09 1.95 2.09 2.05
Reload 2.52 2.89 3.08 2.48
Avg. Split 0.42 0.39 0.39 0.38

Even with sucky draw times, I scored my best El Prez score ever, and all of my runs were sub-10 seconds.

I’ll take that. 

More …

Shooting Sports

Shooting sports

Michael Bane write about the growing popularity of the (non-hunting) shooting sports

The big trend for 2010 is the bigger than expected successes of shooting competitions on television, led by TOP SHOT on History and 3-GUN NATION on Versus. I hear channels are scrambling for more shooting programming. 

Well duh. What took them so long?

First-person shooter games have been around for thirty years, which means for thirty years, we’ve been running around and shooting things in a virtual environment. It only makes sense that the same impulses that drive us to blast the legions from hell would drive us out to the range and try our hand at the real thing. 

So what would a TV-friendly shooting show look like? Well, a lot like Top Shot or 3 Gun Nation, actually. Head-to-head competition is what makes slalom skiing so exciting, and that’s another sport that relies on technique to shave thousands of an inch at every opportunity, which is also happens to be the key to winning practical shooting. 

And, to quote Jules Winnfield, personality goes a long way. Top Shot drew in so many viewers because we were attracted to the people of the sport, and not just the sport itself. NASCAR gets this, practical shooting needs to learn this, too. 

A few more things to get practical shooting more TV-friendly: 

– Reactive targets and/or real-time scoring. Waiting around for an RO to yell out “Two Alpha” (or in my case, “Charlie Mike”) is boring. Steel is good, some kind of electronic target that shows hits in real-time would be better.

– Side by side comparisons of runs. Why did Mike Voight beat Taran Butler on Stage Three? Was it because he shot a bit faster or a bit cleaner? Showing the same run using identical camera angles and editing would go a long way into helping others understand the sport. 

– Colour commentary. Many, many football fans rely on the experts in the booth to tell them why a wishbone offense is a better idea in a given situation than the shotgun, and it’s the same with practical shooting. Why did a competitor screw the pooch on a given stage? Why did one do better? Without a colour commentator, you have to be involved in the sport to know why. A good TV host can open the competition and the sport to people who aren’t shooters, making it even more popular. 

If paintball can be shown on ESPN, why can’t USPSA? Imagine how popular IPSC would get if Dave Sevigny was on the Wheaties box… 

Fifth Report

Fifth Report

“Diligentia – Vis – Celeritas”
“Accuracy – Power – Speed”

– USPSA Motto

Behold, the (almost) perfect Dot Torture Drill. 

091510 Report

Dot Torture Drill: 49 out of 50. 

And the instant I dropped that one shot, I knew it was because I let my concentration slip. Next time, it’ll be perfect. 

El Presidente Scores


CZ75 1 CZ75 2 CZ75 3 P3AT
Target One A 2C D A B D M 2A 2C A B 2D
Target Two 3A D 2A C D 2A 2C 2A C M
Target Three A 2C D 3C D A B C D A C 2D

Time 8.1 8.65 10.09 15.81
A’s 5 3 5 5
B’s 1 1
C’s 4 3 5 8
D’s 3 3 1 3
M’s 1 1
Points 40 20 44 42
Score 4.94 2.31 4.36 2.66
Draw 1.88 1.95 2.09 4.46
Reload 2.51 2.89 3.08 5.85
Avg. Split 0.36 0.35 0.45 0.57

I wanted to get in some more time with my P3AT, and at first blush, my times with the CZ look really bad, as my scores were much lower than last time, including one really awful run there in the middle. 

But. 

Let’s compare where I was back in July versus where I am now. 


07/16/10 09/15/10
Target One 3C M A 2C D
Target Two 2A 2C 3A D
Target Three 2C 2D A 2C D

Time 8.16 8.1
A’s 2 5
B’s
C’s 7 4
D’s 2 3
M’s 1
Points 23 40
Score 2.82 4.94
Draw 1.82 1.88
Reload 2.6 2.51
Avg. Split 0.37 0.36

The times for everything are about the same, however, my accuracy has definitely improved, which was the point of all of this all along.

Cool.

More …

Bangclangbangclangbangclang

Bangclangbangclangbangclang

Whoever was in charge of telling just how much fun it is to shoot steel plates with a .22 semi-automatic pistol? 

Fired. 

Wow, was that fun. Nothing fancy, just a little practice with my S+W M22A before next month’s .22 match at Rio. Three plates at ten yards, two round on each, but wow, before I knew, it, I had put a hundred round through the little sucker and could have plinked for hours longer. 

Seriously, if you’ve not done it, do it. Most fun I’ve had with a firearm in my hand in a long, long time. 

On a semi-related note, I made a had’jj over to the local Cabelas (it’s over in Glendale, Arizona, which is the back end of beyond for an East Valley guy like myself) and was shocked, shocked to discover they didn’t stock spare magazines for my S+W M22a. 

I’d a bet money otherwise. Genuinely surprised about that. Oh well, shipping costs from MidwayUSA are about the same as what the local sales tax would have been, I just have a wait a bit more. 

And I hate waiting.