Posts Tagged ‘shooting’

Basic Gun Control

Posted: November 27, 2011 in IDPA
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One of my coworkers wanted me to accompany him to the local indoor range for some paper punching, so naturally I obliged. I hadn’t shot in a while so I wanted to work on my trigger control. We threw some targets out maybe 20 feet and unloaded about 3 or 4 mags.

After that I started to watch him and pay attention to the three fundamentals, stance, grip and trigger control. This guy has been shooting for a while, but would still be classified as a novice in IDPA standards, essentially he’s the typical average Joe off the street. After watching him it was clear he really needed some help. I offered some advice on what I thought he was doing wrong just from observing. Due to the lighting and me not wearing my glasses, I couldn’t see the holes in the paper. He looked at me with some skepticism when I called his group, but that quickly turned to amazement when the target was brought back and the group was exactly where I told him (low left).

His stance was a really awkward looking semi-weaver, the grip was almost the olde cup n saucer and his trigger control was like he was having a seizure.

I straightened him out into an isosceles, changed his grip to the typical competition style Enos/Leatham grip and let him run another couple of mags through the gun. His group had tightened but was still low and just a tad left of center. His trigger control was still herky jerky, but that was ok, I wanted him to first feel the difference in stance and grip. It didn’t help that he was shooting a DAO 9mm compact (the brand/model is irrelevant). After I’d put a couple of mags through it, I got him to dry fire it a few times and told him to stage the trigger, since it had quite a long pull. His group tightened up again and raised up closer to the center. There were still some low fliers where he was flinching, but we can work on that later, since that’s a project unto itself.

I gave him some dry fire homework to do making sure that he only works on those three things and sent him Todd Jarrett’s excellent video on how to grip a gun.  I can’t wait to hit the range again and see what he can do.

But it just goes to show, shooting IDPA for 5+ years and doing thousands of reps of dry fire really does put your basic skill level WAY above the average Joe. And just think, my skill level is nowhere near the levels of the top dogs.

I tried USPSA

Posted: February 10, 2009 in IDPA
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In December and just last weekend I shot a couple of USPSA matches at the Pickaway Range in Circleville since there weren’t any IDPA matches (that I could find) being run locally.

I used my Para P14 and ran it in Limited10. I experienced a lot of malfunctions, which I believe is due to the Para mags, but apart from that I had a really good time. It was great to mingle with a new group of shooters and shoot a slightly different style COF. I joked with the guys that it should be easy because the A zone is so much bigger – I don’t think they had quite grasped my English humor yet.

I did find it quite odd to be running around in the open, reloading and shooting, but very quickly got used to it. It’s always felt slow to me in IDPA, when I have to duck back behind cover, reload, then move to the next position. I liked the speed element of the game, also being able to drop partially loaded mags, so you can get through the stage quicker.

The December match was basically a lost brass match, since it was snowing so hard that once you had completed the stage, your brass already covered up by the snow. Those chemical hand warmers were a must.

The Feb match in contrast was a skating rink as the bays ended up being one big sheet of ice with rivers of melt water flowing over them. While this may sound dangerous, no one fell and everyone maintained good muzzle discipline.

One of the highlights for me, was being able to shoot in the same squad as Bob Vogel, 3 time IDPA champion and 2008 USPSA Production National Champion.

One of the stages was the El Presidente classifier, which I’d never shot before. I asked Bob which way was better to turn and he ended up giving me a mini tutorial with lots of tips. I shot that in 8.7seconds scoring 54 points. Bob shot it in just over 5 seconds. I was happy with my performance even though I was up until 2am the night before fitting an S&A magwell!

I don’t have the camp mentality when it comes to IDPA vs USPSA. They’re both pistol shooting sports and should be taken for what they are. One is not better than the other, they’re just different sports with different rules. Being experienced in both can only make you a better shooter overall and that’s what we’re all striving for right?

I used to have an awful time with my reloads. They were so inconsistent that I never knew if I was going to hit it or not. Most likely it would kinda work, but I’d say most of my reloads were fumbles. I’d always put it down to the fact that my thumb is not long enough to reach the magazine release button without shifting my grip a little. I thought the problem was that when doing the reload, I would shift my grip a little differently every time, which would mean I’d be holding the gun slightly differently in my strong hand every time. Well, I found out tonight I was totally wrong about what was happening.

I realized that my reload sequence went like this:

1) Shift grip in strong hand with help of support hand.
2) Press the magazine release button while reaching for the new mag.
3) The magazine ejects as I grab the new mag and start bringing it up to the magazine opening in the grip.
4) Relax my grip with my strong hand and insert the fresh mag, slamming it home
5) Rotate the gun to the proper gripping position in my strong hand as my support hand takes hold
6) Look at the target, extend the gun forwards as I acquire the front sight in my peripheral vision
7) Shift my focus to the front sight as my arms get to their fully extended position.

The biggest mistake I was making was in step 4.

Because I was anticipating having to shift the gun around in my strong hand again to get back to the proper grip, the butt of the grip was constantly moving. So when I was bringing up the fresh mag, I never knew where the opening was going to be. So instead of working on putting the mag in the same place, in relation to my strong hand, I was trying to anticipate where the magazine opening was going to be as it shifted around in my hand.

This is just totally amazing, I can’t quite believe that I’ve been struggling all this time with reloads because essentially I’ve been giving myself a moving target.

So I found the one thing that helped overcome this, is to shift my grip, reach for the new magazine as usual, but now I press the magazine release button and hold it down, concentrating now on not moving the grip. Once the magazine has started to slide in, I can then relax my grip and get my hands back to where they’re supposed to be.

It’s much easier to hit reloads now when the magazine opening in the grip is not moving around!

Gosh, I’m so glad that I was able to “see” what I was doing and make the correction. Every time I do some dry firing I learn something.

Once I had done a few repetitions with my new technique, I stopped my dry fire session so that it’s the last good thing I remember and I could end on a high note.

Now I feel like I’ve figured something out, I really can’t wait to do some more dry firing.

Tonight after doing some basic dry fire drills, I’ve come to some realizations.

I need to do something about the thumb safety on the para as my thumb bleeds after a dry fire session. If I change it, I believe I could be disqualified from IDPA since it’s an external modification.

With my normal grip, when I remove my support hand, my thumb cannot reach the mag release button. I have to shift my grip a little, which costs me time and introduces the possibility of 2 additional errors:
1) Reloads can be fumbled because I cannot consistently put the gun in the same spot/angle/orientation.

2) I have to shift my grip back again and if not done correctly, the recoil from the first shot will be inconsistent, making the follow up shot much slower.

Adding a large mag button is also prohibited in IDPA. So I think for now, I don’t need to think about speed. I need to think about consistency. I have some par times recorded for Burkett reloads and regular reloads. But instead of practicing them using the methods Steve Anderson suggests in his books, I’m going to modify the drills so that I will only lower my par time if I can complete 10 perfect repetitions.

At my level, the difference between a 1.2s vs 1.7s reload is negligible. I think I will gain a lot more if I can perform a 1.7s reload every time.

If I can perform 10 perfect 1.7s reloads in a row, my time will come down anyway.

This is not a criticism of Steve’s dry fire method, just the realization that I need to work on some fundamentals before I take his speed based approach.

I first started off with a 5″ Kimber Classic in stainless and a fobus holster. Then I moved to a Springfield XD45 with a comp-tac holster and a leather safariland mag pouch. At the last match I switched from the XD to a Para P14 with an Uncle Mike’s “Law Enforcement” model holster and had a lot of success, so today I just ordered a blade-tech kydex holster and comp-tac mag pouches because the Safariland mag pouch is falling apart. I realized soon after I bought the Uncle Mike’s holster that it was not IDPA legal, but fortunately noone really cared at the last local match. Since I plan on shooting some state matches perhaps next year, I want to make sure I get equipped with an IDPA legal hoslter and mag pouch.

Last night I received a Competition Electronics Pocket Pro II, which I tested out. I need to tape the speaker when I’m dry firing so I don’t wake up my sleeping babies. I also need to make it to an outdoor range so I can practice some drills using the timer.

With all this new gear I should be better right? Will it make a difference? I really don’t know how much difference the holster and mag pouches will make. Even if they don’t amount to any time difference, if I think I have the best equipment because it’s what the top shooters use, then perhaps that puts me in a more confident and positive frame of mind, so I will shoot better overall. Well, that’s the theory…

When I first started IDPA, I saw a couple of people use the barricade as support, so I tried it out. It didn’t go so well because the barricade moved and wobbled around, but since I saw other people doing it, I persisted, thinking that it surely must give you a more stable platform.

Unfortunately it took me a few more matches to figure out that using a barricade in IDPA is a bad idea. The problem is that they’re never stable, or consistenly stable. Each one is different and at each match the stage layout is different meaning that you can’t get into a routinely stable position like in bianchi. Even if you do have a solid/stable barricade you still end up having to shift your grip a little, or then if you’re shooting around the left side, you have to be mindful of the ejection port to make sure the brass can make a clean getaway, otherwise it ricochets and comes to rest on the web of your strong hand.

So all in all, I found it best to avoid using a barricade for support. It enables me to transition quicker, removes stress from a stage and there’s one less thing that can throw me.

Welcome to IDPA Shooting

Posted: October 21, 2008 in IDPA
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For a while now I’ve been kicking around the idea of documenting my experiences in taking up the hobby of shooting IDPA (International Defensive Pistol Association). This is an action pistol sport where competitors shoot a timed stage or course of fire.

I started shooting IDPA around 2005 and have been hooked ever since. I had to borrow guns from my inlaws to start with, and was taught how to reload my own ammo by my father in law – a high ranking officer in the Ohio State Patrol. He was eager for me to start shooting and would take me to the indoor range at New Albany to concentrate on the fundamentals of grip, sight alignment, trigger control and mental discipline.

I had to take a break from shooting in 2006 and 2007 due to my family expanding with 2 more girls, a new job and new house. Earlier this year I managed to take a weekend away from the family and take an IDPA class with Scott Warren, a master in the game of IDPA. He took us through the fundamentals to more advanced training techniques and the mindset needed to compete and win. Until that point I had never seen a champion shoot in real life. It was inspiring to say the least.

It was after that class that I decided that I’d take IDPA more seriously and take on the competitive mindset, unfortunately my home life was rather tumultuous and I did not get started until a couple of months ago.

What follows is a documentary on my own training, performance and research into the sport of IDPA.