A Mind Of Many Things

A mind of many things

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.

I credit practical shooting for this. Let’s go back to the simple USPSA stage I diagrammed out last month.

Stage

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.

A Shot In The Dark

A Shot in the Dark

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.

Backlighting

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.

* My $25 Coleman flashlight from Wal-Mart was up to the task. Sure, it’s not a Surefire, but it does 90% of what a Surefire does for 30% of the price. Not bad.

* 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.

Oh, and if you haven’t read any of my posts over at the mothership, I have a tendency to use song titles in my posts, and this one is no different. 🙂

Arizona’s New Concealed Carry Law Takes Effect Today

Arizona’s new concealed carry law takes effect today

Lost in the all the hubbub yesterday over Arizona’s new immigration law was a seismic shift in the firearms laws of Arizona. As of today, citizens and legal residents of Arizona do not need the government’s permission to carry a concealed defensive firearm, and with this new law, Arizona joins Vermont and Alaska as the three states in the Union return this right to their residents.

I’ll be honest, I was a little bit leery of this law at first, but now I’m on board with it. Self-defense is a human right and it should be regulated as little as possible. A CCW permit is still very, very useful, though. An Arizona CCW permit GREATLY speeds up the paperwork associated with firearms purchases from an FFL, and it also allows the bearer to carry concealed in restaurants that serve alcohol (were permitted. Also, a CCW permit allows the bearer to carry concealed in the majority of states that have CCW laws on the book, making it very handy for anyone who travels out of state. 

While a CCW permit is no longer required, it’s still a very good idea to get if you plan on carrying concealed, but keep in mind it’s a licensing class and not a training class. If you carry concealed, it’s a very, very good idea to get some training so you can be prepared and ready for that worst day of your life when you might have to use it. Owning a gun isn’t enough: A gun isn’t a magical talisman against violence, and having a pistol with you doesn’t turn you into Massad Ayoob any more than sitting behind the wheel of a Ferrari means you’re now Michael Schumacher. 

Get training. I can’t say it often enough. 

And the cool thing is, there are PLENTY of opportunities for firearms training in Arizona. Generations Firearm Training (a sponsor of this blog) offers a full range of NRA classes for all skill levels, and Alan Korwin (who literally wrote the book on Arizona’s gun laws) has created TrainMeAZ.com as a resource for everyone inside and outside the state who want to take advantage of the many firearms training opportunities here in Arizona. 

Whenever the restrictions are eased in this state, the cry goes out that we’ll return to the “Wild West”, with gunfights on every street corner. When Arizona passed “shall-issue” concealed carry, nothing happened. When Arizona allowed concealed carry in bars, nothing happened. And now that we can carry concealed without a permission slip, I’m looking forward to nothing happening once again. 

 

Bang Bang, You’re Free

Bang bang, you’re free

At Right Online this weekend, Steven Kruiser had an interesting response to a simple question: “How do you get a die hard leftist/statist interested in smaller government and personal liberty?” 

His answer: Take them shooting. Once they get a chance to use a gun, they begin to understand that there is a whole new world of personal freedom and responsibility out there, that they don’t have to rely on the government to keep them safe, that they themselves are the ones in charge of their life. 

We can talk about lower taxes and reduced government interference in our day-to-day lives but unless it’s April 15th, those are mostly nothing more than concepts. A gun is real. It’s visceral. It is powerful and needs to be treated with respect and consistency if you want to stay safe. Firearms can teach the concept of personal responsibility in a way that sticks with a person for a long, long time. 

Guns. The gateway drug to freedom. 

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Finally!

Finally!

3 Gun Nation is coming to TV at last: The first show is this Monday at 7:30 (!) am. 

Oh well, that’s why they invented TiVo. 

Really looking forward to this show because if it’s done right, it could point the way to greater exposure of practical shooting on the bigger cable networks, and, dare I say it, (“Dare! Dare!”), ESPN or broadcast TV. 

(Yes, I’m the dorky-looking guy at 0:15, lower camera left with the grey hat. This is why I blog and not do a video journal…

Beyond The Basics

Beyond the basics

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

USPSA Stage

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. 🙂 

 

Social Media FAIL

Social media FAIL

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. 🙂 

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Treasure Seeker

Treasure seeker

A contest for 1000 rounds of that rarest of ammo, .380 ACP? Sign me up! 

Bloggers listen up! I am running an ammo giveaway contest for Lucky Gunner. In exchange for posting a link to Lucky Gunner (and to this contest) I will enter you in a draw to win 1000 rounds of .380 ACP (Military Ballistics Industries 95 gr FMJ ). 

If you don’t own a mousegun .380 ACP pistol, Lucky Gunner will provide a gift card for the equivalent amount of the ammo of your choice. 

Me? I gotta Kel-Tec P3AT that needs some practice ammo, and 1000 rounds will keep it humming for months, if not years.

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Second Report

Second Report

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 

Whoops

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. 

Run P07 1 P07 2 CZ75 1 CZ75 2 CZ75 3 Sccy 1 Sccy 2
Target One A B C D 2A D M 3A C 3C M 4A 2A D M 3A C
Target Two 4A 3C M 2D A C 2A 2C 3A C D A B D M 3A B
Target Three A 2C M 3A D 2C 2D 2C 2D 4A A C D M 2A B C

             
Time 8.48 9.13 8.57 8.16 10.42 12.29 11.92
A’s 6 5 4 2 10 4 8
B’s 1         1 2
C’s 3 3 4 7 1 1 2
D’s 1 2 4 2 1 3  
M’s 1 2   1   3  
Points 33 16 36 23 54 -1 52
Score 3.89 1.75 4.2 2.82 5.18 -0.08 4.36
Draw 1.89 1.79 2.07 1.82 2.16 2.71 2.81
Reload 2.79 3.71 2.61 2.6 2.88 3.99 3.81
Avg. Split 0.38 0.4 0.39 0.37 0.54 0.56 0.53

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. 

Sccy CPX-1

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. 

 

Heat Gun

Heat gun

“My hour is almost come,
When I to sulphurous and tormenting flames
Must render up myself.” 

– The Ghost, Hamlet Act I Scene V 

“Ditto.” 

– Me 

Off to shoot the Thursday Night Steel at Phoenix Rod and Gun. 

It’s 112 degrees here right now. If the heat causes a round cook off in the chamber, I don’t think I should be DQ’d. 

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