My best score on the El Presidente, ever! (Ignore the FTF on the second run. Please. I’m begging you.) On the third run, I tried to push my speed a bit with less-than-stellar (and predictable) results.
I also ran my Kel-Tec P3AT through an El Prez as well, just to get in some practice with it and see how it performs versus my competition gun.
The short answer? It doesn’t. I drew it from the same pocket holster I use for everyday carry, and I had my spare mag in my off hand pocket, just like I do when I carry it around with me. If I need to use my P3AT, I’ll need to rely on my awareness of my surroundings and have it prepped and ready to use, rather than relying on stopping someone from a draw with it.
At the night shooting class I took a couple of days ago, a good number of people said that they had issues with doing many things at once with a firearm in their hand. They had problems with stashing their flashlight in a safe place, performing reloads and just keeping everything straight in their heads in a semi-stressful environment.
I’ll admit I had some issues with this as well (memo to self: a magazine with four rounds in it and a fully-loaded magazine do NOT weigh the same), but for the most part, I did pretty well.
My initial approach to this stage was to shoot eight rounds at each mini-stage within the larger course for a total 24 rounds. But what happens if, for some bizarre (and all-too-common) reason, I totally charlie-foxtrot a portion of the stage? What if it takes five or six rounds to knock down a popper rather than just one? Now I have to do a standing reload, (which kills your time) and adjust how I shoot the rest of the course accordingly.
This is what practical shooting teaches you: How to respond with a firearm in your hand when things don’t go according to plan. You can learn to shoot a 4″ bullseye at 25 yards on the public range and a training class will teach you the best way to engage targets around barricades, but practical shooting gives you the mindset you need to quickly and safely respond correctly with your firearm when things go all to pieces.
I had the opportunity to go to a four-hour “Fight at Night” training class over at Rio Salado on Saturday night, put on by Brad Parker of Defend University. I took the class because I knew I had a big gap in my training when it came to low light and night encounters. Most lethal force incidents happen in low-light conditions, but for reasons of safety and convenience, we do most of our practice and training on clean, well-lit ranges. It’s like a karate student who spends all of his time in the dojo doing kata and never does any sparring.
The class covered many of the standardized flashlight and pistol grips, types of lighting (backlit, frontlit, etc.), how to manipulate your firearm with a flashlight (your prirmary hand armpit, btw, makes a handy-dandy flashlight holder when you need both hands free), the basics of using a flashlight as a defensive tool and some of the physiological effects of darkness on the human body.
And then we got to the shooting. And it was unlike anything I’ve done before.
Here we’re trying to learn to shoot with our off-hand while trying to deal with a backlit target without illumination from with our flashlights. The glow you see behind the steel targets comes from a couple of dozen road flares strewn about the berm, and I’m kinda happy I was able to get a couple of muzzle flashes in the shot. For safety reasons, we all wore glowsticks so the RO’s could keep track of our whereabouts, and the firing line was designated by glowsticks as well. If this sort of thing looks cool, well, it was. 🙂
I learned a LOT for this class.
* This was the first time I’d used my new CZ for anything other than practice on the range, and it performed without a hiccup, which increases my confidence for using it as an everyday carry pistol.
* I need night sights, a flashlight and/or a laser for every firearm I may use in a self-defense situation. The sights on my P07 are great in broad daylight or at sunset, but once the lights go out, they’re utterly invisible.
* I learned I can trust my instincts. One of the drills we did was in total darkness: No lights, no nuthin’, just the backscatter of the lights of Mesa off the clouds overhead. Despite the lack of light, I was able to bang the steel four times out of four. Maybe I should close my eyes each time I go shooting…
The class was DEFINITELY worth the modest registration fee, and I’d recommend it (or any other low-light training class) to anyone who is serious about defending their life or the lives of their loved ones.
Practical shooting is a lot like golf in that it’s a mind game: It’s you and what you can do vs. how the course is laid out. The only person you’re competing with in golf is your confidence in your abilities (“175 yards to hole? I think I can carry that bunker.”). I’m finding out that knowing what I can do and planning each stage based on that knowledge are the keys to a successful run.
For instance, I shoot Production, which means I start out with 10 rounds in each magazine (and usually another in the chamber at the start) and that gaur-an-frckin-tees I’m going to reload on almost every stage I come across. That also means I’m going to have a slight edge on Single Stack and Revolver shooters who shoot only 8 rounds before they have to reload.
Let’s see how this plays out in reality. Here’s a simple USPSA stage that I built using stagebuilder.com.
Comstock scoring, 24 rounds
Now, because the stage designer (me) decided to build the stage in a way that accommodates Revolver and Single Stack shooters, it makes the job of anyone shooting Production and Limited-10 a little easier. Also, there’s no real tricks to this stage: There aren’t multiple paths to each group of targets and no real “gotcha” opportunities for missed targets and failure to engage penalties, it’s pretty much a run and gun scenario, and if you’re shooting Open and have more than 24 rounds in your pistol, a decent shooter should be able to shoot the whole stage without a reload.
Here’s how I’d run this course.
If it’s a complicated stage (this one isn’t), I’d offload the thinking part by using making a quick diagram on a Stage Analysis form before I turn in my scorecard for the stage. I’m a kinesthetic learner: I need to physically grasp a concept before I can work on it, and sitting down and drawing out a stage allows me to grasp just what is needed to accomplish my goals. It also means I print out my emails, but that’s another story…
I then plan my reload points by physically walking the course, determining how many rounds are needed for each group of targets and then miming the act of reloading my pistol in each spot I’ve chosen. The nice thing about this is that I can usually do this part of my planning without interfering the other shooters as they also go through their prep for each stage. In this case, I’d plan on one reload between each group of targets, and hopefully that’d be it.
Then, as it gets closer to my turn to shoot the stage, I start to work on what order I’ll engage the targets. This is hard to tell from a stage diagram, so it’s something that has to be done on the course itself.
When I’m in box and getting ready to shoot, my mantra is simple: “Slow is smooth, smooth is fast“, and I try to visualize a good sight picture with my pistol.
And then the timer goes off, the red mist descends, my brain locks up and all this planning goes out the window. 🙂
Not just social media, but a complete and total marketing fail.
I’m watching “Don’t be a Victim”, a two-hour block of self-defense programming on SpikeTV, and it’s excellent. A half hour show on a bunch of average people taking a five day concealed carry / tactical class, a half-hour show on everyday items for self-defense, a two shows about survivors of violent attacks. It’s hosted by Rick Simon Gerald McRaney, and it’s got top-level sponsors like Ruger, Blackhawk! and Insight.
And I’d be willing to bet you’ve never heard of it.
That’s a pity. The shows are first-rate: “Conceal & Carry School” just convinced Mrs. ExKev to get her CCW and some defensive training, but if the marketing people at Orion Productions had taken just a few hours to send out some emails to gunbloggers and post on a few gun boards, it’d be much more popular and well-known. As it is, the shows are definitely worth your time, even though they’re on early Saturday morning. But that’s what DVR’s were invented for. 🙂
First, the bad news. The speed demon had me it it’s claws again, and I blew the Dot Torture Drill.
Dot Torture Drill (3 yards): 40 out of 50
But despite going backwards, I was able to narrow my focus more on maintaining a good front sight picture and accuracy, which resulted in better El Presidente times.
A B C D
2A D M
2A D M
2D A C
3A C D
A B D M
A 2C M
A C D M
2A B C
2 runs with P07, 3 runs with the CZ75, and 2 with my current carry gun, a Sccy CPX-1 (more on that gun later).
Run #2 was done for speed, run #3 for accuracy. Overall, my scores are MUCH improved from my last practice, so I have reason to be hopeful.
And I wanted to shoot my carry gun. It doesn’t do me much good to be a whiz with a megasuperdeluxeautoblaster competition gun and then fall to pieces when I need my pistol the most. My setup was my CPX-1 in an IWB holster concealed by a t-shirt and a spare mag in my offhand jeans pocket. The first run was for speed, the second for accuracy, and I’m pretty pleased with the results.
The Sccy has been a bit of a problem child for me: It’s gone back to the factory three times, and each time they’ve sent a new gun back to me along with two extra mags. Great service, but I prefer guns that have good warranties but never need them, and that’s why I got the P07.
I suck. But I already knew that because I’m a D Class shooter and not, in the words of Brad Engmann, a USPSA Grandmaster.
Dot Torture Drill (3 Yards) 43/50
Seems like I need to work on my draw from holster and my strong-hand only shooting. And that trigger jerk is STILL there. Grrrr.
El Presidente: 2 Runs
Actually, 4 runs, as I wanted to get in some trigger time with my brand-new CZ P07.
A, C, 2M
A, D, 2M
2A, C, D
2A, C, M
That first run was a disaster: I’m shooting too fast and missing, and half-second splits are way too slow. What do I need to improve on? Everything, but I need to learn to take my time and at least glimpse the front sight before I shoot most of all. On second run, I made sure to get a flash sight picture on each shot, and it sure made a difference
It could be worse, I guess. Everyone, with the possible exception of Rob Leatham, had to start at the bottom and learn this stuff along the way, and this is my first real attempt to get better at a sport I’ve been participating in for over two years.
The good news is my CZ P07 is just fine right out of the box, which is very comforting to me, as I’ll soon start using that as my everyday carry pistol.
Sooner or later, your friends will find out you’re into the shooting sports, and this will lead to one of four reactions:
1. “Huh. I never knew that about you.”, followed by a gradually distancing of the relationship as your friend doesn’t like being around a “gun nut”.
2. “Huh, I never knew that about you”, followed by a normal continuation of the relationship as your friend thinks that the shooting sports is just another hobby, akin to building ships in bottles or needlepoint.
3. “Cool. Whaddaya shoot?” (The best outcome).
4. “Huh. I never knew that about you. Say, I’ve been thinking about getting a gun for the home and…”
That last answer is the trickiest. Giving advice to another person on what gun they should buy is kinda like married people giving dating advice to a single person. Yes, I know what works for me, but that’s only because I’ve made some mistakes, thought about things, and put a lot of time and effort into selecting what I shoot.
A PGB (Potential Gun Buyer) should start by asking himself several questions. What do I want this gun to do for me? Is it for self defense? Will I carry it concealed? How large are my hands? Will I seek professional training? Once trained, how often will I practice? Do I know what level of recoil I can tolerate? Who else in my home will have access to this firearm? Would my spouse have the necessary skills to use this firearm? Once you have made this list you should prioritize your requirements.
Unfortunately for the PGB, there isn’t a whole lot of resources out there for guiding such decisions. There’s a lot of places for raw data, such as gun manufacturers websites, online gun stores and gun magazines, but very few places that have a list of guns in a certain price range and with a list of the the pros and cons of each, and worst of all is the gun-owning friend him/herself, who has the tendency to evangelize what they shoot and like to any all (buyCZs!:) ) around them.
That’s why I always, always, recommend that a PGB goes to a gun range that has a rental counter before making their first gun purchase, and ideally, go with a friend who can steady their nerves and help guide (but not direct) a PGB through the process. Spending $50 and trying out a few guns before they buy will help calm nerves and give a sense of empowerment: It’ll be the the PGB who makes the decision of what they’re buying based on their experience and their priorities, not someone else handing them a gun and saying “Here, this is the gun for you.”
Owning a gun for personal protection is fundamentally an act of self-reliance: It is taking your safety and the safety of your loved ones literally in your hands. Anything we as the shooting community can do to extend that sense of self-empowerment to the selection and buying process can only add new shooters to our ranks.
2. I like the freestyle run-and-gun format of IPSC/USPSA more than IDPA’s shorter, more controlled stages.
3. The Desert Classic is a USPSA match, and the whole reason I’m doing this is so I don’t embarrass myself at this year’s match.
I shoot Production in USPSA, and I’m NOT a big fan of Open class, so there are few practical differences between how I shoot a USPSA match and how I shoot an IDPA match. IDPA teaches good use of cover, IPSC teaches on-your-feet thinking a little better, IMO. Both are good at providing artificial stress, which is the reason why I got into this.
This is not to say that IDPA isn’t worthwhile or I won’t ever shoot it ever ever. Quite the opposite. Here’s proof.
Yep, it’s another CZ, a brand-new, dead-stock P07 Duty, courtesy of Armed American Arsenal. This will soon be my new daily carry pistol and it’ll also serve as my IDPA gun. I’m putting it through it’s paces right now, and once I’ve put 500 or so rounds through it, I’ll team it up with some kind of tuckable IWB holster (still figuring out which one. If you make hybrid holsters and need a website, call me 🙂 UPDATE:I went with a Crossbreed Supertuck for the Springfield XD). Once I get that all done, the P07 will be my new my day off /after work sidearm, and because I firmly believe in “fight like you train, train like you fight”, I’ll also use it in IDPA starting next year, probably the Tuesday night matches at the Phoenix Rod and Gun Club. But that’ll wait ’til I get to where I’m going in USPSA.