Are you doing it wrong?

Haven’t updated in a while.  Been really, really busy with living.  That is a good thing.

I thought I would put some of the quick and easy ways I shaved time off my stages during the class with Ben Stoeger.

  • For stage plans, watch the faster guys a mimic theirs for now. When your at a stage walk through, find the smoothest way to get the most targets. Try to limit transitions too 20 degrees or less. That was a huge weakness of mine.
  • On a stage with a center start where you have to go both left and right, I would shoot a target to my left because it was 2 yards away and “easy”, then I had to swing the gun back to the right to engage an array before sprinting back to the left. I would pass the “easy” target on the way back. That plan also caused a standing reload.  Sounds funny too leave an easy target but I was 3 seconds quicker on my next run because I didn’t do the 50 degree transition and avoided the stupid standing reload.
  • Remember points per second. If you’re not shooting you losing points, so it makes sense to reload during moves you won’t be able to shoot anyway.
  • When moving short distances get low and talk deliberate steps. I had a habit of hopping. Ben called it “tactical bunny hopping”. He said all the tactical background guys do it and it kills stability and sight picture.
  • When I stopped, after a sprint, I would stand up right and momentum would put me on my toes. Not good! Instead come into position and “glide” horizontally; let the momentum plant your feet. This also helped with gains in accuracy.
  • Keep the gun up if moving 4-5 steps. It feels weird but is noticeably quicker and smoother. If you are running a distance and you have to pass a barricade to shoot at a fault line, put the gun up on target before you go behind the barricade so the instant your vision is past the barricade your sights are target and you can make noise.

Just some things you can try to quickly improve.

– C. Daniel

 

Competitive Student or Dry Fire Hero

What if I promised you sub 1.0 second draw times and 0.2 second shot splits mean nothing?  What if I told you your reloads took too long?  In the class with Ben Stoeger I shaved stupid amounts of time off my stage runs and none of it had to do with my draw or my split times.

 Hourglass

You’re taking too long! (image from www.freedigitalphotos.net)

Do your reloads on the move take longer than 1 second?  If so, you are giving away time. Of the 19+ second average I shaved off my times, maybe 2 seconds was shooting related and the rest was foot work, gun handling, and stage planning/prep.  Generally finding inefficiencies and crushing them.

When you’re doing a stage walk through do you look for the smoothest way to flow through the targets,  or do you look for the spot you can stop and engage the most targets?  If you said the latter, you’re wasting time.

Does your plan involve transitions greater than 20 degrees?  If so, you’re wasting motion.

Do you think an 8 inch target at 15 yards is a hard shot?  On the move?  You need more practice, get to work buddy.

It is easy to dry fire your way to speed, but if you don’t look for every weakness and find a way to execute it better, then you will spend a lot of time stuck at your current level.

The fast guys move fluid and efficient.  They look for reasons to stop, not reasons to shoot on the move.  Even slow movement while shooting is progress.  The result is they don’t look blindly quick, but they are.  The slow guys are jerky, they run around position to position, stopping along the way to engage multiple target arrays.  They look like a house afire, but the timer says otherwise.

Don’t mistake this to mean dry fire isn’t important; because it is.  But dry fire without live fire confirmation, in the form of mini-drills, against a timer will not make you next level gooder.

So, which are you?  The competitive student that looks for ways to improve or, our you the dry fire guy burning through drill after drill chasing a par time?   Are you over looking the low hanging fruit in the name of a quick dry fire par time?

Who are you?  Who do you want to be? That is for you to decide.

How can I improve?  Ah, a question for next time.

– C. Daniel

 

 

IDPA, USPSA, both or TIMMY!

I started this blog with the intent to track my progress in making IDPA Master.  Ultimately that is still a goal of mine, but in achieving that goal I have learned a few things I didn’t realize at first.

  1. The IDPA Classifier is a good means to track improvement.
  2. The IDPA Classifier has virtually nothing to do with IDPA Match skills.
  3. Within the ranks of IDPA you will find lots of good people as well as “Tactical Timmy’s” that consider it to be training for the streets.
  4. IDPA is a game, although a lot of the membership would seem to believe it is not.
  5. USPSA shooters take themselves less seriously.
  6. I am a gamer, not a tactical guy.   Don’t take that to mean I don’t care about self defense and my personal safety.  It just means that I don’t live my life in fear of a ninja attack or zombie apocalypse, or SHTF or TEOTWAWKI.

Now, let me address this one by one.

The IDPA Classifier test multiple skills against a set time.  You are only judged against the clock.  There is very little movement and the Classifier never changes.  This is good for tracking growth and skill development.

Oddly enough, you are not required to use a cover garment and most people seem to despise shooting it.   In a match you will have no shoots, hard targets, movement, swingers, ports to shoot through and a vest.  Ah, the damn vest.  I hate the vest.  People have told me at matches that IDPA is proper training while wearing the vest.  If there was ever a piece of game equipment required for one sport it is the IDPA vest.  The vest is gaming concealed carry.

  • Shoot USPSA while wearing Salomon shoes and cargo pants?  Sure.
  • Wear those same shoes and cargo pants on the street?  Sure.
  • Wear them while hiking?  Sure.

When, oh when, do you wear the IDPA vest out in public?  Who’s the gamer?

IDPA is training?  Some people have actually told me IDPA is training, too my face, seriously!  I responded by asking who the instructor was.  That went over well!  I was also informed that I was just a gamer and did not appreciate that IDPA helped develop skills need to survive a fight in the streets.  WHAT???  I realize I live in Fort Worth, but this is 2015, not 1875.  We don’t have shoot-outs at noon.  Do I carry?  Religiously.  Will I every need to use it?  I hope not.  Do I feel the need to carry extra mags and a back-up gun?  Nope.   Don’t go looking for trouble…

These same people that say IDPA is training are using a special designed IDPA vest, adorned with patches, concealing a Glock 34, S&W Pro, full size 1911 or some other large gun, with a hair trigger, in an IDPA legal OWB “race” holster.  That would all be fine, if that is how they actually carried, but it is not.  After the match they put their Ruger LCP back in their pocket, secure in the fact they received training.  Ummm, I see holes in this thought process. ..  TIMMY!!

ID-10042887Ready to engage in tactical priority.  Timmy! (photo from www.feedigitalphotos.net)

USPSA Shooters are gamers.  They know it, IDPA knows it, people that don’t even know anything about guns sees a photo of a USPSA shooter in mid stride and knows he is competing – IN A GAME!  IDPA shooters are also competing in a game.  The rule book even says so on the first page.

So what we have are two pistol shooting competitions that are diametrically opposed on how they view themselves.  This is not to say there are not gamers in IDPA, there are.  But the real gamers generally migrate to USPSA because running and shooting a pistol is fun and USPSA does running and shooting a pistol better.

By contrast, it seems to me, given my short time shooting competition, that one of the IDPA charter goals is to ensure it is  NOT mistaken as USPSA.

Along the same lines USPSA shooters don’t take themselves seriously.  Look at what some of them wear.  Go to an IDPA match and you’ll see 5.11, Blackhawk!, many things involving Spartans, Trojans, Romans or Molon Labe.  Go to a USPSA match and you’ll see cargo shorts, golf shorts, ugly shoes and comical tee shirts.  Of course in both competitions you’ll find the person wearing a jersey because of sponsor requirements.

Gamer.  It took me less than 3 IDPA matches to determine I am not a Tactical Timmy, which is odd because I do enjoy my AR and self defense classes.  But I also realize when to be serious and when to play the game.

What does this mean?  I am putting more emphasize on USPSA.  I still intend to make Master Class in IDPA, but after seeing the greater shooting challenge that USPSA holds, that is where I would rather play.

I don’t get to shoot much, so it only makes sense to maximize the time available shooting the competition I find the most fun.

Thank God for what you have, work for what you want and make sure you nourish what is important – family and friends.

– C. Daniel

 

Ben Stoeger Fundamental as well as Skills and Drills

On May 12th and 13th 2015 I took the Ben Stoeger USPSA Fundamentals; immediately after on the 14th I took the Skills and Drills class.

GooderTo say I learned something would be a gross understatement.  First, let me make it clear I had not EVER shot a USPSA style match or stage, and it showed out of the gate.  By the end of day 3 I was more gooder, tired, sunburned and the Springfield XD saw 1877 rounds down the barrel with ZERO malfunctions.  Regardless I am moving on to a different platform, but it is not due to reliability and I would have no qualms recommending one for self protection.

I’ll probably spread what I learned out in several blog post because 1) I have a lot to talk about and 2) I want to keep the tips in small snack size bites.   I will also inter disperse some other post to keep things interesting.

I meant to do this before now, but things have been busy at work, and frankly my lunch break is the #1 time I have to add content.  When I work through lunch, the blog stops.  Such is life.

– C. Daniel

Who’s There? Hi Daddy!

Let’s talk self defense and more importantly home defense for a bit.  Yes, I am shifting gears with this post.  I was listening to a podcast recently and it was quite eye opening.  I wanted to put some thoughts out there.  Take them for what they are worth.

When a person buys a gun they seldom plan on not using it.  Think about it – no matter the reason you purchased a firearm, you didn’t plan on admiring it, unless you are a cork sniffing collector, but I suspect you wouldn’t be reading this if you were.  So many times people “know” what they will do when someone breaks in to their house, and it normally involves a shooting, at least in the O.K. Corral scenario in their head.

But I think that is the wrong way to think of these things.  You shouldn’t imagine someone breaking into your house.  Instead think of scenarios that involve reality when you hear an irregular noise.  Does the fact you heard something mean you are facing harm?  Likely not.  It could be a pet, a broken appliance, a storm or a family member.

Dusk

(Above the Night by Evgeni Dinev, from www.freedigitalphotos.net)

It could be the neighbor, drunk, thinking he is at his house, trying to get the key to work.  Think it couldn’t happen?  Tell that to the family of Carter Albrecht.  This excerpt from the article linked in his name explains it all:

“He was shot to death as he tried to kick in a neighbor’s door in an apparent drunken rage after beating his girlfriend, police say. The neighbor reportedly thought Mr. Albrecht was a burglar and fired a pistol up high through the back door as a warning. The shot hit the 6-foot-4-inch Mr. Albrecht in the head instead.”

Was he a nice guy?  Not sure, he apparently beat his girlfriend.  Did he deserve to get shot in the head?  Likely not.  The take away is you should NEVER  assume.

Another issue is that people have a tendency to shut up when faced with danger.  Millennia of evolution have taught us to be quite when our lives are at risk.  If a wild animal is outside of your cave, you shut up.  But this is 2015 AD not 1500 BC; at what cost do you  investigate the strange bump in the middle of the night and maintain total silence?  Do some quick searches on any anti-gun website and you will find case after case of homeowners shooting loved ones because they investigated a noise with a preconceived notion that it was a bad guy.  It is one area we as responsible gun owners can all agree should be corrected and we should be ashamed of the stats.

You know your house better than anyone.  You likely have lights on at night and if not, you know where the light switches are.  Is it really that critical for you NOT to shout out – WHO’S THERE? Maybe there is no one, maybe the lack of response means it is someone with ill intent, but maybe, just maybe you will hear, “Hi Daddy (or Mommy)!”  I am 100% sure you will recognize a family members voice in the middle of the night, no matter your degree of drowsiness.  You simply asked two words aloud and possibly saved yourself a lifetime of grief.  Who would chose against that?  How many accidental shootings could have been avoided by simply asking “who’s there”?  I don’t know, and frankly it sickens me to guess.

Am I saying you shouldn’t use a gun in the middle of the night?  ABSOLUTELY NOT!  A gun is a tool, plain and simple.  When it comes to certain self defense scenarios it is the best tool available.  Why should you not use it?  But be honest with its use and your abilities – don’t let the gun in your hand turn you into a fool.  Don’t be the wannabe Tactical Timmy guy, ready to storm in to danger, guns blazing, shooting first because you know you’re a “bad ass” (in your mind) and because Castle Doctrine!

In short, don’t break Jeff Cooper’s Firearm Safety Rule #4 because of arrogance or preconceived notions.

Next time I’ll discuss Target ID in the night and some other Tactical Timmy misnomers involving low light .

-C. Daniel

 

Sheep Dog or Reactionary Defender

If you hear, read or watch anything related to concealed carry you will eventually hear the term “sheep dog.” Sheep dog is a rather innocuous term. It draws to mind a shaggy dog, maybe with hair in its eyes, overseeing a flock of sheep with the farmer nearby.Sheep Dog

(The Guard by Evgeni Dinev, from www.freedigitalphotos.net)

Unfortunately some have decided that carrying a concealed handgun makes them something akin to that docile canine overseeing the flock; except in their minds they are overseeing a flock of sheeple.

From Wikipedia: Sheeple (a portmanteau of “sheep” and “people”) is a derogatory term that highlights the herd behavior of people by likening them to sheep, a herd animal. The term is used to describe those who voluntarily acquiesce to a suggestion without critical analysis or research.)

I feel the sheep dog mentality is dangerous and even leads to bad habits. Why? Because upon receiving my Texas CHL, I was not sworn to protect anyone or anything, I don’t carry a badge; I don’t have the weight of law behind me. I am an average guy that carries a firearm virtually everywhere I go. I do so to protect my family and those I love. If I happen to be somewhere and a bad situation develops in front of me and I can safely intervene to reduce the risk of injury, casualty or death, then I cshould, but I that doesn’t allow me to go in search of trouble.

The concealed weapon (and even the open carried weapon) is for defensive use. Law Enforcement (and Military) all carry to protect themselves and hunt evil doers. That use by definition is both defensive and offensive. They both, on occasion, go into harm’s way because it is their job. They are First Responders.

If I decide to start chasing down criminals without the legal authority to do so, I have become a vigilante.

So what do I consider those who chose the CCW/CHL lifestyle? Reactionary Defender.

I can and will defend my life and those around me within my means. Carrying a gun is serious business and it should be treated as such. It is not a joke, it should not make you feel like Rambo, or cool, or anything else. It should be as mundane as carrying your wallet or a flashlight (you do carry a flashlight, right?), both of which you will use 99.99% more often than a firearm, gun range notwithstanding.

While on this topic, a great number of CCW/CHL holders take ridiculous training classes that only further this mentality and don’t do anything to increase the skills they might actually need.

Now, to be totally honest, a 3 day Carbine Assaulter Class sounds like an awesome time, but let’s all realize that it is just that, fun. You are never going to need those skills at your house, much less in the parking lot of the mall when armed with an LCP.

Does that mean I don’t believe such classes should be open to the general public? Hell no I don’t. If you have the money, time and want to take them, you should be able too; but be honest with your reasons. You are not 007, unless you are, at which case the government is paying for your training and you aren’t reading my hack blog.

So what type of training should a Reactionary Defender get? CPR, First Aid, maybe even EMT training. Situational awareness, threat avoidance and de-escalation techniques? Sure. Low light target ID and shooting on the move, in the dark? Yep. A class on your local laws would be good to have. A basic shooting class – those that reinforce weapons manipulation and marksmanship basics are always worthwhile. Put the ego aside and you might learn something. Dare I even say it… competition. The stress of the timer is real and you learn a lot under that stress.

If you can’t perform CPR and you can’t shoot your carry gun at even a slow walk, why are you taking a high round count Carbine course that cost a fortune and was designed with Tier 1 personnel in mind?

A CCW/CHL allows you to have the best tool for self-defense in the gravest of extremes.

That does not make you special, it makes you responsible. You should be held to a higher standard. Let’s all act like it adults and drop the Rambo/007/Delta/SEAL role play and be done with this sheep dog mentality.

Be safe.

– C. Daniel

Jeff Cooper’s Gun Safety Rules

I have donned my flame retardant suit, so let me get this out of the way.  I find some of Jeff Cooper’s ideas to be fine and some are outdated and lacking. (future blog post, maybe…) 

I have heard it said he was the most knowledgeable person ever with regards to firearms – hardly.  But he was wise and his safety rules are primo, so with future post in mind. 

OSHA Warning

 

 Jeff Coopers Firearm Safety Rules

RULE 1

ALL GUNS ARE ALWAYS LOADED – The only exception to this occurs when one has a weapon in his hands and he has personally unloaded it for checking. As soon as he puts it down, Rule 1 applies again.
RULE 2

NEVER LET THE MUZZLE COVER ANYTHING YOU ARE NOT PREPARED TO DESTROY – You may not wish to destroy it, but you must be clear in your mind that you are quite ready to if you let that muzzle cover the target. To allow a firearm to point at another human being is a deadly threat, and should always be treated as such.

RULE 3

KEEP YOUR FINGER OFF THE TRIGGER TIL YOUR SIGHTS ARE ON THE TARGET – This we call the Golden Rule because its violation is responsible for about 80 percent of the firearms disasters we read about.
RULE 4

BE SURE OF YOUR TARGET – You never shoot at anything until you have positively identified it. You never fire at a shadow, or a sound, or a suspected presence. You shoot only when you know absolutely what you are shooting at and what is beyond it.

Be safe.

- C. Daniel

Buy a Shot Timer!

If you read anything about competition shooting at all, you have likely read quite a few pro shooters (and non-pro’s) recommend purchasing a real shot timer over an iPhone app, even for dry fire.

I for one did not understand the difference, between real vs iPhone app, therefore I put it off.   Until recently that is. I sold some crap, has some money to spare and decided to drop some of the coin on a Competition Electronics Pocket Pro II.

Gun with Timer

WOW! In addition to being easier to use and quicker to reset, it was glaringly obvious the iPhone app I was using had a long drawn out beep (measured in hundredths of a second) while the Pocket Pro II has a loud, sharp and abrupt beep. With the iPhone timer it appeared I was cutting 0.70 draws. Turns out, not so much. With the Pocket Pro II the best I have got is a 0.80 with most being a 0.90.

In the words of Brian Enos, Maku Mozo! (Japanese translation: don’t be deluded)

If you are using an iPhone app you might be surprised to find you are are slower than you thought, at least in dry fire.

More practice needed…

C. Daniel

Professional Help

I am getting Professional Help.  No, not a shrink or even a frontal lobotomy.  As I mentioned in the Quickie Update post, I am getting training with none other than 4 time USPSA Production National Champion Ben Stoeger.  If you shoot action pistol and don’t know who he us, you offend me.  If you don’t shoot action pistol, then you have likely never heard of him.  Go to YouTube, what him shoot the IDPA Classifier, the FAST Drill and a Bill Drill.  I mean it.  Go now, I’ll wait.

See what I mean?  He knows his shit.  Self taught too.  That means he has a)screwed up along the way and b)figured out what works.  I am taking his 2 day USPSA Fundamentals class immediately followed by the 1 day Skills and Drills class.

These 3 days will see a minimum of 1800 rounds through my XD.  If it makes it, awesome.  If the gun fails, I’ll re-evaluate.

I have been dry firing more so I am not a total tool at the start of the class.  I may still be the biggest joke in the class, but it won’t be for lack of effort.

In the interest of this class, my goals, what I really enjoy and the last IDPA match I shot, I have made some changes, but that is a topic for another post.

IMG_3562The Lee Pro 1000 working to supply me with ample ammo for the class

C. Daniel

Quickie Update

First things first:   In my post, Learning From A Classifier I challenged myself to shoot a classifier in March and do better.  That was before I sprain my Achilles tendon.  Son-ova-bitch that hurts!  After 3 weeks I am walking 90% normal.  Moving quick, no way!

In Changing Things Up??? I discussed my XD-9 Tactical vs CZ P-09 for competition?  I planned out finances, freed up some cash and…  decided to stay with the XD for now.  Did I shoot the P-09?  No.  But I did play with an EAA Witness Limited Pro and a CZ SP-01.  I decided if I am going to change all of my gear over to a hammer fired it will be one of those, maybe, I think, at least for now.

I boiled down to economics and my rankings.  A USPSA Grand Master might benefit greatly from changing guns.  My lowly ass – not so much.  This means I can use the funds to actually get better.  How?  Lee Pro 1000 progressive reloader and some classes with none other than Ben Stoeger.  Yes, I am going to take a class with the reigning USPSA Production Champion.  Why the Lee Pro 1000?  It is the cheapest way to load lots of 9mm.   The class requires a minimum of 1800 rounds.  I can buy the press and load my own (I have a good quantity of powder, primer and brass) for 40% of the cost of buying the ammo.

The upcoming months should be fun.

C. Daniel