Archive for June, 2009

IDPA vs USPSA Range Commands

Posted: June 27, 2009 in IDPA

In IDPA the officials running the stage are Safety Officers (SOs), while in USPSA they’re labelled Range Officers (ROs). Both sports also have their subtle differences in range commands. The following table shows a comparison of range commands taken from the 2005 IDPA and 2008 USPSA rulebooks, which are the most current at this time.

Load and make ready Make ready
Shooter ready? Are you ready?
Standby Standby
*Audible signal* *Audible or visual signal*
Finger Finger
Muzzle Muzzle
Stop Stop
Unload and show clear If you are finished unload and show clear
Slide forward (or “cylinder closed” for a revolver)
Hammer down
If clear, hammer down and holster
Range is safe Range is clear

The shaded commands are optionally issued during the course of fire depending on whether the shooter earns them.

My IDPA Dryfire Rules

Posted: June 21, 2009 in IDPA

I don’t dry fire every day, in fact I usually dry fire about 3 or 4 times per week. I found that if I dry fire too much, I loose the edge and it becomes a mundane routine. This is the worst thing that can happen to your dry fire session because you loose focus and aggression and then complacency sets in, where waving the gun in the general direction of the target and slapping the trigger becomes acceptable. Even though you may know deep down that it’s not, you can’t be bothered to practice properly. At this point you’re simply going through the motions, ingraining lack of self discipline and bad habits.

Half size IDPA targets for dry fire

Half size IDPA targets for dry fire

In order to get the most out of my dryfire sessions, I follow these four rules:

1) Wear the exact same gear (except ear protection) that I wear during a match. Footwear, concealment, eye protection etc. I want to simulate and get as close to match conditions as possible.

2) I do some warm up strings, then decide that the next X number of strings are going to be under match conditions. Just as in a real match, I will run through my pre-performance routine for every match condition string.

3) Any fumbles and large errors during warm up I stop, clear my head and restart. But during the match strings, I try to work through them and complete the string trying to stay in the zone. The warm is important because you’re preparing your muscles for the work they’re about to do, so you need to complete the entire string so that you can work out the bugs and also get it figured out in your head. When it comes down to the match strings, well, unexpected stuff happens during matches too and you have to learn how to deal with them. Doing tap/rack drills and malfunction clearances are not hard. I find the hard part is recovering and getting straight back in the zone. Ideally I want to recover and get back into the zone, forgetting the issue that just happened and only think about the task at hand. What’s done is done, there’s nothing you can do to change it and you certainly can’t go faster to recover the time. So the only thing you can do is to continue being in the zone and continue shooting at 100%.

I recently shot an IDPA match at Circleville and during one stage I stumbled very early on, but caught my footing and continued with the stage. I ended up posting the second fastest time of the day on that stage. At the end of the stage when the scoring had just been completed, a couple of my squad mates commented “nice save”. I had completely forgotten about the stumble. As soon as they mentioned the stumble, I grunted, shrugged and then put it out of my mind, instead replacing those images with my arriving at P2 and quickly engaging the targets which I felt was done really well. This type of situation is happening more and more in my shooting (where I get right back into the zone after a fumble) and I know that it’s because of my mental approach and dry fire practice.

4) Switch around the dry fire routines to challenge myself and work on some of my weaknesses. No two dry fire sessions are the same. For me that would spell trouble and train me to follow certain specific timings and routines. Shooting is not like that, since every stage at a match poses new movement and target challenges. Although I do start my sessions with simple draw and reload drills, which are the most fundamental of tasks, I also try to switch it up part way through with different movement and target positions.

IDPA SO Class Experience

Posted: June 15, 2009 in IDPA

The lake at Ashland Lake Gun Club

The lake at Ashland Lake Gun Club

This weekend I attended an IDPA Safety Officer (SO) Class at Ashland Lake Gun Club. It took me just over an hour to get there, which isn’t too bad, it’s about the same as me drive to Circleville. ALGC is also hosting the Ohio State match this year, which I’m hoping to attend.

The class was run by the experienced and very knowledgeable Larry Wenger, with Area Coordinator Jo Buchanan and a couple of SO instructors helping.

They put on a great class and went through the rulebook in great detail, highlighting gray areas and other places which can be interpreted in different ways.

After the classroom session, there was a written test then a practical session. The students would run each other through courses of fire practicing range commands and scenarios. Every now and then an instructor would jump in and inject some deliberate errors, potential safety issues or other things which the students needed to watch for and deal with appropriately. Angry competitors, hecklers, people wandering downrange at inappropriate times, etc.

When it was my turn to shoot a full stage, I was moving from P2 to P3 and slipped on the loose gravel underfoot, sending me flying onto the ground belly down. As my foot gave way and I felt my balance go, I knew I was about to impact the ground, so I thrust my strong hand forward to keep the gun pointed downrange. My finger was already out of the trigger guard, so there was no AD. I just ended up hitting the deck, getting back up and finishing the stage, albeit with a few scrapes and a dusty gun and mags.

Larry commented on my safe gun handling, which was very much appreciated. It highlighted to me that practicing safe gun handling even through dry fire, is extremely important (not that I practice belly flops during dry fire!).

I had a great time and would definitely recommend anyone who’s already run shooters through as an acting SO, take the course. You’ll learn a lot about the rules and the practical side of them. However, I would advise that you be already pretty familiar with the rulebook and have some experience at SOing, because the course is pretty intense and there’s a lot of information that they throw at you.

My new 45acp load for ESP

Posted: June 8, 2009 in IDPA
Tags: , ,

My wife just messaged me to let me know that my next case of Montana Gold bullets have arrived. Poor postman knocked on the door to make sure someone was home before carrying them up the driveway. Not that I have a long drive way, but the case weighs about 65lbs, so I understand.

Since I’ve switched to ESP, where the minimum power factor is 125,000, I shall be trying out a new load to take my ammo from around 170PF down to about 130PF. I’ll be using 230gr FMJ on top of 3.5gr of Clays, keeping the OAL at 1.260.

I just need to wait until my 10lb wolff spring arrives to test them out, but they should be super soft shooting.

I also have a couple hundred 180gr moly coated bullets from Billy Bullets which I wanted to try out, but I want to load up the 230s first to save me fiddling with the press twice. I have all my brass prepped, so it shouldn’t take long to crank them out after I test a batch.

With the softer recoil spring I’m a little concerned that any friction in “the system” could start to create some return to battery failures. I’d recently smoothed out the breach face and ramp, but I think I’ll also go over the bottom of the slide where it contacts the disconnecter. As well as the recoil spring, I’m also waiting on a 17lb hammer spring which should help with this.

Once I have it all together it’s going to be fun learning how the gun feels in this setup. I’d like to try running through Matt Burkett’s timing drills, as I’ve never done them before.