Getting There.

Getting there.

A very nice little video of a USPSA stage, courtesy of Caleb. Video producers from the Outdoor Channel and NBC Sports, take note! 

What makes this better than most of the other practical shooting videos out there?

You can tell what’s going on! 

Most shooting videos are either a) hat cam videos that give no idea of what the course of fire is really like or b) 3rd person videos that don’t show things from a shooters perspective. Combining the two along with a stage diagram is a work of sheer genius.

Now just mix in the points scored per target in post-production and ESPN, here we come! 

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Team. Work.

Team. Work.

Found this over in the comments at When The Balloon Goes Up:

With all the team member departures from Glock… and Jessie going to start Team Taurus… maybe it’s time for Team Ruger…

Which is something I’ve been noodling for a while. Ruger doesn’t sponsor individual competitve shooters. Period.


They don’t need to, that’s why.

There’s two very good reasons for this. The first is that they have a shooting sport all their own and are big sponsors of other matches, which gets their name out there without sponsoring shooters. More importantly, they’re doing land-office business without the expense of sponsored shooters. They don’t need a Rob Leatham or an Angus Hobdell to talk about how their products are just a liiittle bit different than anyone else’s: They just make Kel-Tec ripoffs new products like the LCP and LCR that redefine their marketspace, and not coincidentally, make them a TON of cash along the way.

And think about it: Is the current drama with Team Glock helping Glock, or hurting them? Is it helping their reputation as a company, or hurting it?

What’s most interesting about last week’s drama is Jessie Harrison signing with, of all companies, Taurus. Yes, she may just shoot an STI with a “Taurus” rollmark on the slide, but the minute she steps into the box with anything that’s recognizably a Taurus in her holster, Taurus reaps the rewards. The purpose of a sponsored shooter is make money for their sponsors, period full stop. Jessie has proven to be a good spokesperson for the NRA and she’s certain to do the same for Taurus.

What’s In YOUR Range Bag?

What’s in YOUR range bag?

Robb’s looking for a range bag for practical pistol, so I thought I’d post about what I carry with me to a match.

I take a different approach to range bags than a lot of people. Rather than opt for a sofa-sized carryall with a strap, I built my bag based on my years as a professional photog. I rarely packed up the entire studio when I went on location, instead, I just carried the stuff I needed. For most editorial assignments, I carried two bodies, a strobe, two or three lenses and associated accessories (meter, batteries, filters, etc) in a small Domke Bag.

Why? Because I knew that’s all I needed to do the job. If I needed more, (portrait setup, Hassie, room lights, etc.) I kept those in the truck until when and if I needed them. I don’t like acting like a pack mule because that distracts from the job at hand. If I’m sweating from carrying a huge bag around, that’ll affect how I shoot, be it guns or cameras.

So what do you need (not want) to shoot a club match? It’s pretty basic, when you think about it.

– Gun (duh)
– Magazines
– Ammo
– Belt, holster and mag carriers

That’s it. Anything else is “want” not “need. Yes, the needs for a major match are different, but I don’t shoot major matches aside from the Rio Salado Desert Classic, so again, that isn’t my need.

So what’s in my bag?


Clockwise from top left
A cheap MidwayUSA bag that they don’t sell anymore. It’s got a decent-sized interior pocket with two side pockets and six mag pouches.
Competitive Edge Dynamics Dump Pouch: For spent brass.
Howard Leight Earmuffs: Love these. Clear sound, effective noise suppression and less than half the cost of other electronic earmuffs.
Gun lube and sunscreen: Because I live in a desert.
Mags: 9 total.
Fobus Paddle Mag Pouch: In case of extra-long stages.
Belt Clip for Earmuffs: I rarely use this, but I can’t really substitute something else for it if I need it.
Club ID Card on Lanyard: Handy to have, but not always needed at my club.
USPSA Rulebook: I’ve never had to whip this thing out on a stage and I hope I never have to.
USPSA Overlays: No, you did not get a perfect double on this target, and here’s proof.
Clipboard and Pen: For taking notes on an especially tough stage and how I shot it.
Earplugs: Just in case I forget my earmuffs and/or need extra noise protection.
Speedloader: Because thumbs are a terrible thing to waste.
Cleaning rod: I don’t know if you know, but it gets a bit dusty here in the Desert Southwest.
Ammo: Typically, I take twice the recommended round count with me to a match, because you never know.
Gun: CZ75 in a Bor-Stor sleeve.

That’s about it, aside from the iPhone and the CRKT Pazoda I have with me all the time. No backup gun, no menagarie of spare parts. If I need more than than, I’ll get it from my car or wait until the match is over.

Still Useful

Still useful

I use the El Presidente drill as a benchmark for my pistol skills because it combines movement, drawing, target acquistion, transitions, accuracy, speed and reloads all in one neat little package.

And Dave Morelli agrees.

El Pres is about drawing and presenting the pistol, firing double taps at multiple targets and performing a speed reload. These are very important things to master in handling a gun for defensive purposes.

It is like a kata that has put together several functions in one drill. The karate man doesn’t expect to get attacked in the same order that he mastered his moves, but learns a kata to help him learn and master each move.

The mind can employ the moves as needed to the situation but first you have to master the moves. The same with the El Presidente.

Drills are kata. USPSA is sparring. Neither is the real thing.

Once More Into The Breach, Dear Friends, Once More

Once more into the breach, dear friends, once more

I’ll be shooting the USPSA match at Phoenix Rod and Gun Club on Saturday, trying to FINALLY get to C Class, and they were kind enough to inform all of us what the classifier will be. 


Upon start signal, from Box A engage T1-T3 with only two rounds per target, then make a mandatory reload and from Box A engage T1-T3 with only two rounds per target using strong hand only.

Upon start signal, from Box A engage T1-T3 with only two rounds per target, then make a mandatory reload and from Box A engage T1-T3 with only two rounds per target using weak hand only.
Jams may be cleared with both hands.

SCORING: Virginia Count, 24 rounds, 120 points
SCORED HITS: Best 8/paper 
START – STOP: Audible – Last shot
PENALTIES: Per current edition USPSA Practical Shooting Handbook. 
Failure to perform mandatory reload will result in one procedural penalty per shot fired.
Strings must be shot in order prescribed or one procedural will be assessed. 

Obviously, I’ll practice one handed shooting this week, both dry-firing and live-firing at Caswells (thank GOD for indoor ranges), but I’ll also be practicing my reload transitions, as I don’t want to repeat other people’s mistakes

I need a 46.95% to move up, which is almost do-able.



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.

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). 

The Deadline Approaches

The Deadline Approaches

My staff entry into the Rio Salado Desert Classic has been accepted. I’m shooting the match. 

If you recall, the reason for this blog is… 

I want to be in C Class for the Rio Desert Classic, which means that I’ll actually need to be ready to go a month before that, as typically, Rio puts on an all-classifier match to accommodate people who want to shoot the classic in a new class or with a new gun. 

My current ranking is 29.77, and I need to be in the top 40 to make C Class. 

I can do it. 

I think.

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