We’re All On The Same Team. And That’s A Bad Thing.

Thinking more about the shooting sports as a television sport, why is it that in a sport that is all about about intense competition, there are zero rivalries? Football grew in the 70’s when it was the clean-cut Cowboys vs the bad boys of Oakland or Pittsburgh. Basketball grew with Bird vs. Magic (and then Jordan). Baseball grew with the dominance of the Yankees in the 20’s/30’s. In each of these cases, we had someone to root for and we had someone to root against.

Cubs fans, of course, continue to cheer for their team, and cheerfully deny reality.

I digress.

It’s great that everyone in practical shooting pretty much gets along and helps each other out. That sort of thing makes it a fun sport to shoot every weekend, but it makes for lousy TV because there is nothing to get excited about. We like to cheer for the rebels, the rule-breakers. NASCAR blossomed when there was a face/heel competition between good ol’ boy Dale Earnhardt and slick Yankee Jeff Gordon. Who are the rebels in practical shooting? Where are the rivalries? Why isn’t Glock vs. S&W vs. Sig as big a deal as Ferrari vs. McLaren vs. Mercedes?

Top Shot did this brilliantly. Yes, there was constant whinging from shooters about the drama, but you know what? We also secretly and not-so-secretly cheered for our heroes and booed for villains. We complained, but it worked.

Give us conflict. Give us rivalries. Give us somebody/something to cheer for, and we’ll give you the ratings.

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.

Gun-Culture-20

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!

A Man Alone Is A Target.

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This. This is why competition is absolutely vital if you’re serious about armed self-defense.

I wasn’t being honest with myself about where I needed to be practicing. My reload speed didn’t need improvement. My grip on the gun did. My trigger press did. I was so desperately trying to be better than I am that I flat out ignored something I know very well as an instructor: too many people try to run before they crawl.  There is only one person who can fix that.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen people in a “tactical pistol” class concentrate too hard on the “tactical” elements and not enough on the “pistol”. The fact is, though, the sooper-sekrit ninja moves are fun, trigger press and transitions are not fun. However, competition is fun, and competition will show you were you suck faster than almost anything else out there.

Trigger warning

Tam talks about the joys of taking an Ernest Langdon class, and I’m intrigued by what he’s teaching. I’m realizing more and now that you can take all the tactical classes you want, but if you cannot put rounds on-time and on-target, all the sooper-sekrit ninja moves in the world do you little, if any good. The same is true with practical shooting: You can practice your splits all you want and have a draw time measured in picoseconds, but if you go Delta-Mike on a target, you’re screwed.

“As a portion of the shooting community, advanced competitive shooters can generally run any given firearm (more) proficiently than their peers. No, they may not have a tactically sound or particularly defensive mindset, but they can drive their gun like they freaking stole it.”

John Swearigan

I should also mention that I’ve trained in all the styles and shoot each of the sports in this video, and I recommend each of them whole-heartedly. But keep the main thing the main thing, which is hitting the target.

How much of a difference does gear make?

It’s awhile since I’ve had a pistol bay all to myself, so I haven’t ran a Dot Torture/El Presidenté practice in quite some time. That’s ok, though, as I’m finding that in many ways, 15 minutes of dry-fire five times a day beats an hour and a half on the range.

If nothing else, you spend less time loading mags and more time pulling the trigger if you dry-fire.

I’ve been swapping out my USPSA “gamer” CZ75 with my carry/IDPA CZ P07 when I dry-fire, because I want to get better at BOTH sports. I shoot the CZ75 from a Blade-Tech dropped offset holster, and the P07 from concealment in a Crossbreed Supertuck. This begs the question as to how much of a disadvantage is shooting carry gear versus a competition rig.

Fortunately, I’ve done dozens of runs through the El Presidenté as I was climbing up to C Class, and have some hard numbers to report.

The El Presidenté Drill:

elpresidente

I use USPSA targets and scoring on the drill, so the faster and more accurate I am, the higher my score will be. The best accuracy possible is to get all twelve shots into the A Zone of the target for a total of 60 points, and a great time on this drill is something around five seconds with good hits.

I’m not great, but I am improving. Here’s my average scores for 3 1/2 years running the El Prez.

CZ75 (Improved trigger, Improved sights, no concealment)
Average Time: 9.5 seconds
Average Points: 42.4 points
Average Score: 4.53

CZ P07 (Dead stock, from concealment)
Average Time: 11.4 seconds
Average Points: 37.4 points
Average Score: 3.25

BTW, my best time (so far) on this drill is 7.3 seconds with 50 points of hits, which translates into a score of 6.85. Not bad, I can do better.

Obviously, having gear that is suited to the task at-hand improves your ability to do the task well, but my scores with both guns have dramatically improved since I’ve run those drills. The fact is, the basics of good practical shooting can be picked up and dropped onto almost any gun, and skill will trump gear every single time. Train the skill, and the gear will follow.

Challenge accepted, Mark Passemeneck

The question was asked on Facebook:

If I were to tell you to set up a match for your 100 closest friends, what would it look like?

1. What discipline(s)
2. How many stages
3. How many days
4. Physicality
5. Hoser, precision, mix type of stages
6. Set schedule or carnival style
7. You are not rich, so you do have an entry fee…how much?
8. Match meals or no
9. Other group activities or no
10. Prize table or no.

To answer each question,

  1. What discipline(s)
    IDPA, USPSA, Steel Challenge, 3-Gun, Precision Rifle and Sporting Clays
  2. How many stages?
    A blind tactical pistol stage run under IDPA-esque rules where the shooters don’t get to do a walk thru or even see where the targets are before the buzzer goes off, another “regular” IDPA Stage, Outer Limits, a USPSA stage, two 3 Gun stages, a Precision Rifle Stage and some clays.
  3. How many days?
    Two.
  4. Physicality
    Moderate. No IronMan-esque stages, but not Bullseye either.
  5. Hoser, precision, mix type of stages
    The blind stage would be accuracy-heavy and the rest a mix of hoser/precision, with cool props a la Mystery Mountain.
  6. Set schedule or carnival style
    Carnival style
  7. You are not rich, so you do have an entry fee…how much?
    Enough to cover expenses and kick in something for the RO’s and the prize table. Let’s say $200, max.
  8. Match meals or no?
    Depending on the venue. Rio Salado has restaurants a half-hour away, but others don’t have that luxury. I kinda like match meals, those, as it helps with socialization.
  9. Other group activities
    Factory demos are always good, and maybe a pay-for-play full auto demo.
  10. Prize Table or no
    Definitely yes, with prizes given out at random and for best scores.

I like the mix of speed, tactical, long-range and shotgun work that a match like would provide. Your ideas?

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
Me
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.

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

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

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.

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.

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.