Shooting By The Book.

Shooting By The Book.

Much fun was had last week talking on social media about what we’d do with the outrageous amount of money we’d have at our disposal if we won Mega Millions.

What would I do? Like you have to ask

However, two friends of mine suggested independently of each other that they’d use the money to help build shooting ranges in areas of the country where there are none.

What an interesting idea.

There is precedent for it. Literacy in the poorer parts of the nation was vastly improved by the creation of Carnegie libraries where there were no libraries, and Rosenwald Schools where there were no schools. If the right to self-defence is an inherit right enshrouded in the Constitution, (and it is) isn’t it the government’s business to ensure that right can be used? After all, it ain’t private businesses that are used as polling places, it’s schools, churches and other community centers.

Along with people like myself who support the NRA with our meager donations, there are wealthy people out there who are donating scads of cash to advance gun rights. This is good, and it should continue. However, donating a gazillion dollars to advance gun rights means squat if there are no places to shoot. Maybe it’s time for a program, funded much like the Carnegie Libraries were, that will give people a place to exercise the Second Amendment rights we’ve fought so hard for.

Okay, Koch brothers. There’s the idea. Now hire me to run it. 🙂

Problem, Solved

Problem, Solved

So I had a range session with Jeff Street of Step By Step Gun Training last week, and I think we FINALLY solved my issues with my CZ P07.

After analyzing my hits on the target, we noticed that my shots were way, way to the left of the bullseye and they were being strung out in a vertical line.

What was causing this is a three-fold issue:

  1. I was holding on to it too strongly with my right hand, which was pushing my shots off to the left
  2. I wasn’t holding the gun tight enough with my ring finger and pinkie, which caused some barrel movement as I pressed the trigger
  3. I’m old, and I wear bifocals, and so I needed to remember that I need to keep my head straight so the front sight isn’t fuzzy.

Once those two issues were solved, I was able to turn in some pretty decent 15 yard groups.

Now, onto the NRA Instructor Qualification!

Advance And Be Recognized

Advance And Be Recognized

Alright, so we know what a basic level of combat pistol marksmanship looks like, so what makes an advanced shooter?

  1. Someone who competes on a regular basis
  2. Someone who qualifies as Expert on the Marine Corps Combat Pistol test
  3. Someone who can shoot the FBI Pistol Qual at the Instructor Level
  4. Someone who can pass the Federal Air Marshal Test
  5. Someone who can hit a headshot on a USPSA target 25 yards away, from concealment, in three seconds or less
  6. Someone with at least 100 hours of classes from a variety of instructors

Now, to be fair, I can and have shot all of those drills at those levels, but to be honest, I don’t really consider myself to be an advanced pistol shooter. While it’s true that I’m rapidly approaching the point of diminishing returns, I still have two hills to climb.

  1. I want to be USPSA B Class in Production
  2. And for some reason, the NRA Instructor Qual is kicking my @$$ right now, and I am less than happy with that. 20 shots into a 5″ circle at 15 yards isn’t THAT hard, but for some reason, I just can’t do it right now.

Am I an advanced shooter? Yeah, kinda, I guess. Am I satisfied with my shooting ability right now? Heck no.

 

 

By Whose Standards?

By Whose Standards?

This photo of a target was posted in firearms-related Facebook group I belong to, and the person who posted it claimed he “knew how to shoot.”

Uh-huh.

Look, we can say we “know how to shoot,” but at some point, we are going to have to back up those words with our actions. Ideally, we should demonstrate our ability to shoot on a range, in a safe, controlled environment before the need arises to defend our lives with our defensive firearm of choice. In other words, we fail on the range so we don’t fail when our lives are on the line.

So when it comes to pistols, how do I personally define someone who “knows how to shoot”?

  1. I never have to remind them about safety
  2. Their carry gear is up to the task: No nylon waist holsters, small of the back carry or similar stupidity
  3. Their carry gun is of decent quality and is loaded with good, name-brand defensive ammunition, with one in the chamber and appropriate safeties engaged.
  4. They have taken a firearms class after their concealed carry course from an instructor who has more than just NRA credentials
  5. They can shoot a 5×5 drill
  6. They can shoot an El Presidente in 16 seconds or less

That’s the baseline for someone who I would consider to someone who knows how to shoot. That first item, knowing and practicing the rules of gun safety is THE most important one. Statistically, the person you are most likely to shoot is your own sorry self, and rock-solid safety habits can take care of a lot of that worry. You can achieve some of items two and three with some money, research and practice at home, but items four through six are only achievable if you step outside your comfort zone, realize that no, you are not a good shot, and make a conscious effort to change.

Everybody wants to lose weight. Not everybody stops eating candy. Everybody wants to be a good shot, but not everyone wants to accept the fact that they really aren’t.

Site Launch

Site Launch

If you’re a firearms trainer or a student, check out ShootingClasses.com.

One of the big frustrations for me here in SW Florida has been finding out about great training opportunities AFTER they happened, and ShootingClasses.com fills that gap.

Also, it serves the purpose that TrainMeAZ was designed to serve, namely, a single resource for people who want to learn how to stop embarrassing themselves on the range.

Go check them out.

The Drill That Dare Not Speak Its Name

The Drill That Dare Not Speak Its Name

There are very few drills that incite more conversation than the tried and true El Presidente drill.

The drill itself is deceptively easy:

  • Set up three USPSA targets 10 yards away, with about one yard in between them
  • Load your pistol with 6 rounds, and have a reload with 6 rounds standing by
  • Turn so your back is facing the targets and wait for the beep of the timer
  • Turn and draw your gun, and shoot each target twice, which will empty your gun
  • Reload, and shoot each target twice more
  • Only hits in the vital area (either the center-chest area or, if you’re good, the head box) count for score

Seems simple, right? The problem is, most of the early classification drills for USPSA use something similar, so the El Presidente is forever tied to the “gaming” scene, and its detractors say it’s nothing but a one-way ticket to training scars that will teach you to shoot just two rounds into a target and move along.

But what does this drill actually teach?

  1. Quick target acquisition. Standing with your back to the targets means you have to seek out your first shot as you turn, and then do it again after your reload.
  2. Quick target transitions. Two shots and the moving on forces you to learn to see the target with your eyes first, then bring the gun to bear. Think this applies to hitting a moving target? I do.
  3. Gun manipulation. While I don’t see the value in learning a fast reload to the average person who carries concealed, the fact is, the motions needed to reload your gun quickly are pretty much identical to the motions needed to clear most, if not all, the various malfunctions you might have with your gun.

Sounds pretty handy to me.

The biggest drawback I see with the drill is that it requires a pistol bay and three target stands to shoot, something not every shooter is going to have lying around. Is the El Prez the be-all, end-all of drills? Heck no. Is it an outdated relic that is of little use to today’s pistol owners? Also no.

Bon Voyage.

Bon Voyage.

On a recent Safety Solutions podcast, Claude Werner, the Tactical Professor, said that firearms training is not an event, it’s a journey.

He’s right.

But it’s getting people to go on that journey that’s the hard part, because unless they are absolutely forced to so, people don’t like to go on journeys that are not fun. My family and I will gladly travel up to Orlando for two hours in order to go to a theme park, but we are not willing to travel two hours to go eat broccoli.

And I like broccoli.

Also, first impressions matter. I have friends who are seriously into shooting practical pistol competitions, but their first foray into self-defense training was way too “tacticool” and serious for their comfort zone, and they’ve shied away from that area ever since, even though they are great shots and carry a gun on a regular basis.

Making sure the first steps are fun is the key to lifelong learning. Ever watch a preschool teacher? How much of what he/she is teaching involves actual teaching, and how much of what they do is getting their students excited about learning?

That’s why events like Shoot N Scoots are so important. By emphasizing the fun of practical shooting and how you can be safe with a gun on your hip, students think that training and competitions are just as fun as going to the local range and shooting with your friends.

And, of course, it is. We just forget about it from time to time.

However, if the first steps in the journey are difficult and confusing, the student is going to think that the rest of the journey is as horrid. As a result, they’ll put “get more gun training” in the same bucket as “work out more often” and “eat less sugar”… things that we know we SHOULD do, but just don’t see any reason to do so right now.

Want a lifestyle of concealed carry? Make people EAGER to join your classes. Make them not only see a need for training, but also make them feel good about choosing to train with you.

How Does This Gun Make You Feel?

How Does This Gun Make You Feel?

Getting people to live their lives armed means teaching them about an armed lifestyle. Moreover than than that, the lifestyle that we’re teaching has to Be FUN. Yes, we can (and do) encourage people to eat better and exercise by using dire warnings about heart disease and obesity, but the those appeals come down to the simple fact that you will lead a better life if you do such things. Yes, the journey involves a lot of work, but it’s sold as a destination, and that destination is a healthier, happier, life. In other words, eat your broccoli and work out, so you can go to the beach and not look like a beached whale in bathing suit when you do so.

Look at how other lifestyle products are marketed: When’s the last time you saw a TV ad for a family car which rattled off a list of features? TV ads for family cars are all about how people use them and how your family life will be once you buy that car. Beer marketing is all about having good times with your friends as you drink together.

There are exceptions to the rule: Subaru has been all about safety since Day One, and Michelob Ultra and Miller Lite have made low carbs/low calories a cornerstone of their marketing, but both of those are about feeling safety and having good health as part of your lifestyle.

How are we integrating fun and good times into firearms training? Is that even a priority? I agree 100% with Tom Givens in that every round we shoot in practice should have a purpose behind it, but here’s the thing: Most gun owners don’t see a gun as something they need to practice with, they see shooting a gun as a fun, recreational activity to be enjoyed with family and friends.

More on this tomorrow.

We Work Hard So You Don’t Have To.

We Work Hard So You Don’t Have To.

I wonder if the people who attend the same training class year after year and don’t see improvement feel that by attending that class, they’ve already done the work. There is no reason to do more and practice and train and shoot a match and find out how much they suck, because they’ve went to the class and they have the KNOWLEDGE they need to defend their lives successfully.

But as the Apostle James said, faith without works is dead.

Heck, I’m guilty of it. Ask me how much combatives I’ve done since I took Craig Douglas’s class, and I’ll tell you its “zero.” On the other hand, one of the reasons why I couldn’t participate in any of the evos is because I was fat and out of shape, but those two I can change.

It kinda reminds me of church: If you go on Christmas and Easter only and expect it to change your life, you’re fooling yourself. However, if you do the work, if you understand the need to change, doggone it, things change.

In Just Seven Days, I Can Make You A Man

In Just Seven Days, I Can Make You A Man

A terrific post about student growth (and the lack thereof) inside the firearms training community.

“If there’s anything USPSA competition has shown me it is that those people who do better and who want to do better practice practice practice until their high-speed weapons manipulation skills under stress are superior to just about everybody who’s gone to a tactical school but never spent the time to actually practice those techniques that they paid so much money to learn.”

Shooting a practical pistol match USPSA or IDPA match means you have embraced the suck; that you understand that don’t know it all and are willing to demonstrate that lack of knowledge in front of your family and friends. Shooting a match means you know you need to improve, and more importantly, you are willing to take the time and effort to do so. Most people KNOW they need to lose weight or drink less or whatever, but they don’t actually DO it, because that requires effort.

There are ways to make that change less painful. Planet Fitness (and others) are set up so that you can do your exercises and see the results without joining jock culture, and Alcoholics Anonymous lets people find the sources of strength they need to kick a destructive habit.

When my wife’s students leave her middle-school math class each day, they have a homework assignment to do for the following day that will reinforce and expand upon what they previously learned in the classroom.

The list of firearms trainers who hand out drills when class is over which can be used by their students in order to reinforce and expand on what they learned in class is really short. The list of trainers who hand out drills that can be used on the ranges that their students typically have access to (Hint: not a pistol bay) is even shorter.

Giving your students a practice routine that is a) fun and b) something they can do on a regular basis and c) something they can practice without a radical outlay of time and/or money seems like a good way to keep your students coming back for more, and as a bonus, it’ll make them better shooters as well.

Win, win, win.