Match Report, Louland Practical Pistol, January 11

Match Report, Louland Practical Pistol, January 11

As part of commitment to shoot more matches this year, I was able to squeeze in the Thursday night practical match at Louland Gun Club last week.

It’s a very lightweight match, usually all-steel courses of fire that have designated shooting boxes and less than 30 rounds apiece. One bay, though, is set up as a more typical USPSA stage, and that’s what we’ll look at here.

Stage Briefing
Targets A and B must be engaged from shooting area 1, else wise it’s shoot ’em as you see ’em. Target C back there is a right bastard of a shot that can only be engaged from the gap in the shooting area at the top left.

All in all, a fun little stage with a mix of hoser shots and a tight, tough shots with no-shoots.

How’d I do? Not bad.

Some things I like here:

  • I’m up and running as I do the reload. Not much hesitation at all, and I am up and on-target as quick as I can.
  • I shot the two targets at the end of the shooting area on the move, and then the last two as quickly as the ones before them. In fact, on the waveforms in the audio portion of the video, the spaces between all four shots are pretty much the same.
  • Most competitors shot the first two targets on the left side in the main shooting area from one spot, then moved up a few feet to take the partials behind the barrel. I figured out that I could split the difference and engage all four from one spot, saving me a few seconds on the stage.

Some things I don’t like here:

  • All that time shooting three shots at that first target, and I went Alpha-Mike. I figure I must have jerked the first shot (Ah, the joys of a DA/SA gun…), hit the second shot and then got a little anxious on the last one and tossed it off into the bar somewhere.
  • Everything looks good, but everything looks… slow. If I could speed everything up by a third, I’d be happy.

All in all, a good run for me. Had I not thrown that Mike, I’d have been the top non-Open shooter. As it is, I wound up third amongst iron sight shooters.

Which Is Better: An Indoor Gun Range Or An Outdoor Gun Range

Which Is Better: An Indoor Gun Range Or An Outdoor Gun Range

Owning a gun is great thing, but owning a gun and shooting it on a regular basis is even better. Having a gun in your house isn’t going to make you safe anyomre than having a car on your driveway is going to get you to the corner grocery store: You have to learn how to use it safely and efficiently so it to do the job it’s supposed to do.

So what does it actually cost a new gun owner to shoot on a regular (monthly) basis? In 2013, back when I lived in Phoenix, I visited some of the local indoor and outdoor ranges to find out what a monthly practice session might cost a new shooter. My assumption is that you’ll go to the range and spend an hour shooting 50 rounds of FMJ ammo from a 9mm pistol at three different man-sized targets, which based on my experience, is about what most casual shooters do on a typical day at the range.

Ranges: Rio Salado Sportsman’s Club (outdoors), Ted’s Shooting Range (indoors), Caswell’s Shooting Range (indoors), Phoenix Rod and Gun Club (outdoors), Scottsdale Gun Club (indoors) and Shooters World (indoors).
Lane Rental: One person for one hour
Ammo: 50 rounds of 9mm FMJ. For ranges without ammo sales (PRGC, Rio), I used the price of a box of 9mm at my local WalMart.
Gun Rental: A 9mm pistol for one hour. For ranges without gun rentals, I used the cost of a typical quality 9mm pistol ($540) spread out over 12 months.
Membership: One year’s individual membership. Range memberships at Ted’s is for 14 months, not a year, so I reduced that amount for comparison purposes.

Just VisitingLane RentalAmmoGun RentalMonthly CostYearly Cost 
Rio Salado$5.00$13.00$45.00*$18.00$756.00
Caswells$15.00$21.00$7.00$43.00$516.00
Ted's Shooting Range$14.00$18.00$9.00$41.00$492.00
Shooters World$15.00$15.00$10.00$40.00$480.00
Scottsdale Gun Club$15.00$14.00$14.00$43.00$516.00
Phoenix Rod and Gun Club$14.00$13.00$45.00*$27.00$864.00
With MembershipLane RentalAmmoGun RentalMonthly CostYearly CostMembership
Rio Salado$0.00$13.00$45.00*$65.92$791.00$95.00
Caswells$0.00$18.90$0.00$48.07$576.80$350.00
Ted's Shooting Range$0.00$18.00$4.50$44.17$530.00$260.00
Shooters World$0.00$14.25$5.00$40.08$481.00$250.00
Scottsdale Gun Club$0.00$13.00$0.00$44.67$536.00$380.00
Phoenix Rod and Gun Club$0.00$13.00$45.00*$71.75$861.00$165.00

* $45 / month reflects the cost of owning your own pistol, spread out over 12 months

So for just a couple hundred dollars more per year or so, memberships at Rio Salado or Phoenix Rod and Gun look like a real bargain, right? After all, that price includes a new gun, and they have long-distance rifle ranges as well.

Not so fast.

First off, they’re outdoor ranges. Not bad, now that temperatures in the Phoenix area are leveling off, but that sucks when it’s 115 degrees outside or, for colder climes, if it’s winter and the snow is waist-deep on the ground.

Secondly, the public ranges at both outdoor ranges have a minimum distance that you can set up targets, about 8 yards or so. Not a big issue for some, but if you’re trying to train a new shooter, it can get discouraging for them to shoot and shoot and shoot and not see decent groups on the target.

Thirdly, you can pull down at a set up targets at an outdoors public range only during cold range times, and those happen on a schedule, and not when you need them.

Finally, most outdoor ranges have pistol bays, where you’ll be the only one shooting and you can set up and take down targets however you like. These are where the real improvement happens, as shooters can set up advanced drills that involve drawing from a holster, moving with your gun in-hand and multiple targets at multiple distances.

So which should you chose?

That depends on your needs. I use both on a regular basis. I’ve been a member at Rio for over 5 years. I like their public range, and I like the people. But I’ve come to appreciate the comfort of indoor shooting and the convenience of reserving a lane in advance in an indoor range.

It comes down to what kind of a shooter you are. A public outdoor range membership is great for people who know what they want in a firearm and don’t need (or want) to try out new guns. However, indoor rental ranges are the perfect for  people getting into the shooting sports: For less than $50 a month, you can try out many different firearms and find the one(s) that suit you best and lets you grow into firearms ownership at your pace.

Either way, there are no bad choices: The worst day at the range is still better than the best day in the office.

The Button Pusher.

The Button Pusher.

A great example of why you want to hire a professional photographer.

It's all in the knowing how.

I have a friend who describes his job as being paid $100 to push a button. $1 of that fee is actually pushing the button, the other $99 is knowing what button to push, and when to push it.

People who aren’t professional shooters tend to focus on gear, specifically the camera. However, people who are actually working pros tend to focus on how to manipulate light, and the camera is tertiary at best. Some of them, like Ansel Adams and Robert Frank, learn how to adapt the light that’s there to what they want to see. Others, like Irving Penn* and Mark Seliger, learn how to add and subtract light until the get what they want.

These guys know that no amount of money invested in a camera is going to make up for sucky lighting, but they learned early to either how to master the existing light, or else a few dollars spent on a decent beginner’s strobe setup and a few more dollars (and a little time) spent on learning how to use light will make all the difference in the freaking world in your pictures.

Look at those two shots above: Unless you knew what the light actually looked like and knew what was needed to make it look better, you’d have taken the first shot. More importantly, because this was a wedding, you wouldn’t get a second chance to get a good shot?

Understand the metaphor yet, or do I have to hammer it home a bit more?

The photog knew he needed to solve the challenge of getting a good shot at that time and at that place, and he knew that a camera alone was not up to the task. As a result, he relied on his training and experience to under-expose the ambient light by at least two stops and then fill in the subject with a strobe light so that she’s properly exposed.

He also knew that standing up and shooting the camera at eye level wasn’t going to get him the results he wanted, so he got out of his comfort zone and got onto his belly to make the shot.

Get it yet, or do I have to use the phrase “tools in the toolbox” on ya? 🙂

Learn the rules. Learn to adapt the rules. Learn which gear helps you execute the rules to their fullest extent.

Then go have fun.


* If you’re doing commercial photography, specifically product photography, and you don’t know who Irving Penn is, chances are, you’re doing it wrong. What ol’ AA was to landscape photography, Irving Penn was to taking pictures for a client. It starts with him, so start there.

Trust Icons.

Trust Icons.

You know those silly images on e-commerce sites which show who provided their SSL or say things like “Protected by McAfee”? To someone like me, who’s been on the web for over two decades, they’re at best a silly gesture and at worst totally useless.

But here’s the dirty little secret about them: They work. They bring in more business. Sites that have those images on their checkout pages have better conversion rates than sites that don’t have them. They’re called “trust icons”, and they work because people make buying decisions with their heart first, then with their head. They feel safe with a site that has them, and they want to do business with that site.

The same is true for firearms training, which is why trainers who talk about their military or law enforcement background can get away without little or no civilian training courses or instruction on how to teach anyone who isn’t being forced to sit in their classroom. They may not have be teaching stuff that’s particularly relevant to our lives as everyday people, but to many, many people out there, knowing that you’re getting your training from a cop or military veteran means you’re getting training from someone who has been there and done that, and you can trust what they say.

No matter if what they’re saying makes any sense or not.

New Year, New Goals

New Year, New Goals

My goals for last year was to be and not do, and boy howdy, did I do, err, be, that. I filled in some huge gaps in my training with a Law Of Self Defense Class, a MAG40, The Armed Parent/Guardian class and a class on how to dispense spicy treats onto the annoying people in your life.

This year, I’ve got SHOT, my first go-round through ECQC with Southnarc, TacCon and then probably a long-range rifle class as well. All of that will happen before May is over. Whew!

I still need to work at getting better at movement, and my overall conditioning in general. This means getting up a half hour earlier to work out. Ugh.

The good news is, I’ll be working out only ever other day. The days in-between, I’ll be working on dry-fire. I finally got serious and bought Ben’s book. Now to put that into practice.

I’m also working on a deal for a two-day hog hunt in central Florida, but more on that when and if it happens.

As for guns, I’m thinking about getting a Smith&Wesson J-Frame. I’ve been writing a lot about pocket guns as of late, and I figure it’s time I get one of the O.G. pocket pistols. I’m getting in a Colt Competition 1911 for an article I’m writing, and if I like it, it’ll go into my collection as well. Also, as a long-range class might be in my future, it’s time to change the bottom metal on my Savage so it can take detachable mags. Also, I’ve had it up to HERE with my little Lee reloading press, so a progressive press is definitely in my future.

So, those are my goals. What are yours?

The Personalized Defense Weapon.

The Personalized Defense Weapon.

John from No Lawyers, Only Guns And Money made a terrific point on social media recently about the new Ruger carbine: It’s an updated version of the M-1 Carbine.

He’s right on so many levels. Why was the M-1 invented? Because soldiers needed something longer-ranged and more accurate than a pistol but was easier to carry around than a rifle. Now granted, the new Ruger weighs seven pounds which is more than a lot of AR-15’s these days, but it breaks down into two easy-to-stow halves making it easier to stash away in a backpack and whatnot. Also, filled up with 124gr +P’s, it’ll dish out more hate than most (if not all) 9mm pistols, but be a lot easier to control and make a lot less noise than even the tamest of rifles.

There’s a lot of clued-in firearms trainers out there who recommend a 10/22 with a red dot and 30 round mag as a defensive firearm to people who, because of infirmities, can’t handle recoil or who have difficult time operating a handgun, and the 10/22 is a good option for them. It’s easy to use, it has a lot of firepower, and it’s easy to put the red dot on the target and pull the trigger until the target realizes the error of his/her ways or stops twitching.

Either one is an acceptable outcome.

With the new 9mm carbine, all of that is still true, except now, in exchange for a bit more noise and a bit more recoil, you’re sending 9mm rounds downrange instead of 40gr .22’s.

Win-win-win. Well, except for the bad guy. That’s a lose-lose situation for him.

The Problem Solver.

The Problem Solver.

My training priorities last year were two-fold: I wanted to take at least one course from an icon in the industry (which I did, with my MAG40 class at Safety Solutions Academy) and I wanted to fill in some of my gaps in knowledge. The Law Of Self-Defense class filled in my “here’s when you can bust a cap in someone and here’s when you can’t” knowledge, and the Friday before Christmas, I took a 3 hour class on pepper spray from Florida Firearms Training.

The class was quite good: It started off with the combat mindset and a decent primer on situational awareness, and then moved on to the legalities of pepper spray in the state of Florida. After more talk about use of force and when to unleash spicy treats on those around you, it was off to the range for some practice with inert cans on a charging attacker that’s 15 feet away. We all gleefully hosed down our attacker with our water guns, and that was that. Was it a tough class with many things to remember and a four-page exam afterwards? No. Was it meant to be that sort of class? Also no.

One of the things mentioned in the class is that it’s a good idea to replace your pepper spray cans every 2-3 years, and as the can I’ve been carrying around in my lower-profile setup is at least that old, (if not more) I enlisted some help and went off into the forest to spread some spicy cheer.

First off was discharging my small can before I disposed of it in the trash. I was only able to get a little over 2 seconds of spray on-target, but was able to dump a significant amount of spicy goodness onto a paper plate twelve feet away in that time.

Next up was the testing the inert version of the can I carry with more casual clothing. This time, I wanted to see how long it would take me to deploy the spray from concealment.

And the answer is: Just under three seconds. Almost twice as long as my handgun draw time. This tells me that if I see the potential need to use less-lethal, I’d be better off drawing and hiding in my hand way before the need to spice up someone’s life arises. The good news is, that larger can holds more propellant and spray, so I was able to coat the target with (inert) chemicals for four solid seconds before it gave out.

Lastly, I tried out a Smith&Wesson-branded spray can that was about the same size as the inert can of Sabre I used earlier. Kids, this is why cops and cognoscenti recommend Sabre and Fox sprays over other brands. The Smith&Wesson spray was wimpy and barely made it to the target 10 feet away. It had enough for just under four seconds of spray, but its effective distance was less that I can spit.

All in all, if you carry some spray, get training on it. You’ll learn a lot about what it can and can’t do, and you’ll be able to testify in court that yes, you knew what you were doing when you gave that mugger the full scotch bonnet treatment into his mucous membranes.

Ruger LCP2 2000 Round Challenge: Rounds 1141-1260

Ruger LCP2 2000 Round Challenge: Rounds 1141-1260

I managed to squeeze in a little range time earlier this month to try out my new Comp-Tac Holster (spoiler alert: I *love* it) and shoot some more rounds through the LCP ][.

I started out with 70 rounds of Mozambique drill practice, done from 5 yards, and I’m kinda happy with the results.

Aside from the four obvious jerks (more on that later), that dude ain’t goin’ nowhere. I then threw caution into the wind and tried a Dot Torture at three yards, with predictable results.

Whoops

What’s interesting is what I learned from the shots I missed: Pretty much every missed shot on that target was because I was using the laser to aim, not my sights, and when I saw the green dot wobbling around on-target, I snatched the trigger, with very predictable results. When I took my time to aim, as I did on Dot 3, I did pretty well.

Lesson learned.

The other half of the range session was devoted to working with the new holster for my CZ P07 Duty, a Comp-Tac CTAC. I’d been hanging on too long the Crossbreed I first got for it, to my everlasting shame. With a class with Ernest Langdon in my future, I wanted something I could use with confidence on the range and in everyday life. The CTAC more than fits that bill. It uses kydex to hold the gun, with two leather bolsters attached to belt clips to help keep the gun comfortable. The kydex extends up and covers the slide of your pistol, yet still allows you to get a full firing grip on the gun before you draw it from the holster.

I started out shooting a series of ball and dummy drills, and then switched to shooting another Dot Torture with the CZ and the new holster, and quickly ran into an issue with shooting it one-handed. To be honest, I’d concentrated so much on shooting my striker-fired S&W Shield these past few months, running the DA/SA trigger on the P07 with just one hand proved to be my undoing, and I totally bombed both the strong hand and support hand parts of the drill.

So I finished things up with just shooting one dot with one hand, mixing in double action and single action until I was satisfied with the results.

And I am.

All in all, a good range session. I shot 120 rounds through the LCP][, with no hiccups whatsoever.

Rounds Fired: 120 Rounds Winchester White Box .380 ACP

2000 Round Challenge Results
Total Rounds Fired: 1260
One possible failure to eject on round 116
Failures to eject: Rounds 400, 489, 974, 993
Failure to feed: Round 873

Two Links Of Interest

Two Links Of Interest

I’ve been lucky in that I’ve bought very few guns that I’d consider to be “the wrong gun”. The 930SPX was the WRONG choice for 3 gun (whoops), the P3AT was a bad choice, but at the time I bought it, it was pretty much the ONLY choice in pocket .380s, and the Sccy has since turned out to be a pretty useful little “tackle box gun”.

Also, my review of the Armed Parent/Guardian class is up at NRA Family.

I really can’t express how much I was impressed with that class. I’ve walked away from other classes thinking about how I would apply the skills I learned in class to how I operate my pistol. I walked away from this class thinking about how I would apply what I learned in class to how I live my life.

Something To Listen To.

Something To Listen To.

Take a few minutes and

      listen to Paul Carlson and Rob More talk with Dusty Salomon
about Dusty’s methodology on training people how to shoot more better.

It’s a really, really good episode, and not just because Dusty validates something I’ve been saying for a while, that we we need to start looking at the dojo model for our firearms training classes.

Oh, and also check out Dusty’s new book, Mentoring Shooters.

I am.