Area 8 Revolver showdown

Walsh vs. Olhasso – battle of the roundguns!  It’s actually a pretty cool write-up from the guys at Ammoland.  Having shot one area match with a roundgun, I can say for absolute certainty that people who are willing to do a 300+ round match shooting double action the whole way are monster studs.  To all my revolver friends out there just remember that shooting a revolver makes you a BEAST, and regardless of how well you do you’re better than the bottom feeders!

Freedom Gun Works

One of the things I like to do here is highlight shops and companies that are dedicated to supporting the shooting sports.  One shop, in the fine state of Georgia is Freedom Gun Works.  In addition to sponsoring a shooting team, the Freedom Gun Works crew do custom work on pistols, including taking a stock STI Spartan and giving it the two-tone treatment.  I am a huge sucker for two tone guns, especially the “Orca” look where it’s light on the bottom and dark on the top.  The stock Spartan runs about $600, the tuned up version from Freedom Gun Works will set you back $800.  You will however have one of the sexiest looking 1911s at your next match!

The image will take you to their Facebook page, where Bobby and Co. post updates on guns they have available, projects, and shooting activities.  I firmly believe in spending your dollars at places that support our sport, so money spent at Freedom Gun Works is definitely going to a good cause!

Get your Ranger on

The guys at Lucky Gunner have Winchester Ranger FMJ (that’s practice ammo loaded to LE specifications) in stock…in bulk.  Only 9mm and .40 S&W are available right now, but the price is reasonable!

Winchester Ranger 147 grain FMJ

Winchester Ranger 180 grain FMJ

I’m ordering some as soon as I type this post!

The mutable shooting stance

While mostly irrelevant in the age of modern pistol shooting, occasionally you will see the debate pop up about modern isosceles vs. the Weaver stance.  In it you’ll get doctrinal adherents proclaiming the superiority of one particular stance over another; and I’ve even fallen prey to that debate on a couple of occasions myself.  These days though my opinion on stance has sort of changed, and a lot of that has to do with having shot a lot of rounds in action pistol shooting.  In the image, I’m not using what would be defined as any traditional stance.  My upper body is square to the target and my arms are probably most like an isosceles stance, but if you’re looking at textbooks of “how to stand with a gun” you’re not going to find that in there.

The guiding star of action shooting is to get accurate hits as fast as you can on target – you’ll shoot on the move, around corners, through tough technical positions and generally if you’re shooting a USPSA match and find that you’ve taken a perfect stance, you’re probably going too slow.  Similarly, while certain body mechanics don’t change, your lower body position can be adapted to the game that you’re shooting.  When I’m shooting steel like I am in the above picture, I like to take a more aggressive approach – leaning in a bit harder on the gun.  I have seen other people use this kind of aggressive stance, so I figured “hey, it’s worth a shot”.  It has actually worked pretty well; my times clearing a plate rack have dropped and I’ve picked up time on Steel Challenge as well.

What I’m not saying is to go out and shoot from a poor stance.  If you can’t get fast, accurate hits while standing in a Modern Iso stance, you’re not going to be able to get fast, accurate hits from the improvised stance required by action shooting.  The reason why you want to master the fundamentals is that while your lower body may be moving or kneeling, your upper body mechanics don’t really change a whole lot.  Think of the top half as the turret on a tank – whether you’re taking an aggressive stance for Steel Challenge, a stable fundamental stance for Bianchi Cup, or moving flat out at a USPSA match your upper body position isn’t going to change.  But once you get that down, then you can start experimenting with tweaking the positions.   Every person is different with different mechanics; what works well for me may not be the best solution for you.  That’s the other thing to remember – if you try something new with your stance and it just doesn’t work, there’s no reason to keep doing it if you’re getting fast and accurate hits on target.  Don’t change things for the sake of change – but at the same time be open to new techniques.  It’s a poor student that thinks he knows everything.  For example, if you had asked me a year ago about the body position I have above, I’d have said you were on crack.  But I saw some people doing it, and people that are really good at shooting used it, so I figured “hey I’ll give this a try.”  It works for me, but it may not work for you.  Don’t change for the sake of change, but don’t resist change because you’ve always done something a certain way.

Learn from my mistakes

So that you don’t have to make them.

If you’re wondering what goes wrong in that video, the easy answer is “everything”. I’m shooting my Single Stack 1911, a heavily modified ParaUSA LTC in 9mm. The stage is simple, turn and draw and fire two shots at each target at 10 yards. Piece of cake, right? Apparently not so much – I failed to completely take the safety off the gun; as I was pressing the safety down I had my support hand interfere with finishing that; total bonehead mistake. Then as a result of that I was rushing to make up time, so I dropped a head shot.

Like I said, I show you this video so that you can learn from my mistakes. The positives are that my draw is good, my press out is nice, and my head is up; but that’s about where it ends. But here are some good “takeaways” from that video if you’re trying to improve your skills.

  1. Dance with the one who brung ya. I’m shooting a 1911 in that video. The last time I shot a 1911 in competition? July 12, 2009. Over a year ago. Since then I’ve shot only striker fired guns and revolvers in competition.
  2. Matches are not practice. This second bit is what makes the first bit important. If I had been serious about shooting that 1911, I would have practiced with it a lot before hand – drawing, sweeping the safety off, etc. I didn’t, because I just wanted to make sure it would run before I use it for a project this week. I can’t stress this point enough though – matches are not the time to perfect your fundamentals; that’s what practice and dry fire is for. Say you’ve been shooting revos and striker fired guns for over a year, but you’re switching back to 1911s for a Single Stack match. It would behoove you to spend 2 weeks in practice dry firing to make sure you’ve got that draw stroke anchored and the safety is coming off. Match conditions are not the time to discover your mechanics are off.
  3. Don’t chase the zone. Some days, you just are not going to be able to get into your “unconscious action” space. While the goal of every match and every practice should be to shoot without thought, it’s not always going to happen. When it doesn’t happen and you’re struggling to find your groove, don’t try and force yourself in to the groove. You should still push yourself; because we don’t always get to shoot in perfect conditions, but don’t push so hard that you end up going past your line and making stupid mistakes.
  4. Learn. I would love to only post videos of me shooting screamingly fast Master class times, or of my best days at the range. But if I did that, I wouldn’t learn anything. When you have bad days at the range, the worst mistake you can make is to dismiss your bad day. You have to be honest with yourself first about your mistakes and the stupid things you did, or you’re not going to get any better at not doing those things. Learn!

Of all the bullet points there, the last one is the most important because it allows the mind to remain open. I could watch that video and say “oh well it was all because I switched guns” or “I had just finished recruiting for work and wasn’t focused” or whatever excuse I’d like to toss out there. The problem with that is that I wouldn’t learn from that; I wouldn’t be able to see my mistakes and diagnose and solve them. My biggest mistake was that I didn’t practice – to quote Luke Skywalker “Overconfidence is your weakness”. Or my favorite from the Patriot – “Pride. Pride is a weakness.” Don’t change horses in mid-stream, and if you must, make sure you spend some time practicing with the new horse before you hop on. As your skill level increases, the ability to switch platforms at will increases – much like the goal of the Quest for Master Class is to be able to use any gun to shoot IDPA Master, as you get better the curve for the amount of practice you need to re-adjust to a new platform flattens out.

So practice hard, but practice correctly! Don’t cheat yourself in practice by only doing things you’re good at; focus on the struggles and fundamentals.

Scope-lock

The phrase scope-lock is a military phrase that basically means “You’re getting all your info from one place and it’s screwing up how you think”.  Lately, I’ve noticed a version of that same tunnel vision or target fixation in myself.  I started actually noticing it with the post about the guys shooting the .500 Magnum.  Tam left a comment reminding me that people actually go to the range to shoot; and then she also had a post where she talked about the importance of having fun when you’re shooting.  It dawned on me that my focus on the shooting sports has grown more and more focuses over the last couple of years to the point that I tend to dismiss shooting activities that are not competition or defensively oriented as un-serious.

In lighter terms, while I understood on a mental level that people would buy guns for reasons other than home/self defense or competition, I couldn’t quite square it with my heart.  So if I’ve inadvertently insulted you with that attitude, I am profoundly sorry – I’ve been extremely scope-locked in to a narrow field of the shooting community, and have neglected the other fields.  There are people that buy guns for no other reason than to shoot them at the range occasionally and have fun with them – for these people there’s no need for the high round count, defensive/practical orientated stuff that I use as my guiding star.

The lesson here in this regard is don’t be like me.  If you love IDPA, USPSA, NRA High Power, don’t let you shooting galaxy contract until that’s all you acknowledge or focus on.  There are plenty of shooters that are not serious sport shooters, or serious defensive shooters, or serious hunters.  The casual shooters actually make up a massive majority of the shooters out there; and for those of us that are highly specialized and very focused on one narrow lane of the shooting sports, we ignore them at our detriment.

That being said, I do believe that the casual shooter has just as much a right to quality guns and gear as the 25,000 round per year IPSC shooter.  If you buy a night stand gun that you’re only going to shoot 1 a month for 100, maybe 200 rounds then whether or not your gun survived a 50,000 round shooting season probably isn’t a relevant concern.  What is a concern is that your gun goes bang when you need it to…and that gun that was well built enough to survive the 50,000 rounds is also more likely to go bang when you need it than a gun that’s only designed to last 6,000 rounds.

So for my casual shooters out there, thank you for your support!  You guys are the bulk of us gun owners, and I forget that at my own peril!  Just don’t buy crappy guns!

Please don't do that

Let’s say, hypothetically that you’re at an indoor range trying to iron out some kinks in your pistol’s magazines.  Further, you’re next to a couple of guys who haven’t exactly impressed you with their attention to detail.  Just by chance, you notice a really long revolver barrel protruding from the booth next to you, wearing an additional inch-long compensator/muzzle brake that looks suspiciously like the comp/muzzle brake on an S&W .500 Magnum.  Said comp and muzzle brake is shortly accompanied by the expected muzzle flash and concussive thud that makes your eyes water.

Thanks guys.

On the bright side, I think I finally figured out how to solve the weird magazine issue I’d been having, so I’ll take a positive balanced with a negative.

Wow.

It’s not often that simply picking up a gun impresses me, however I had the chance the other night to play a little bit with an HK P30L.  That of course is the “long slide” version of the HK P30 (long being relative, as it’s only a 4.5 inch barrel on the L).  I’ve been told this is the most ergonomic 9mm on earth, and now I get it. I have never picked up a gun off the table, set it in my hand and said “hey, that’s perfect”.  Small enough that I was able to reach the DA trigger with ease, large enough to give my hand plenty of gun to hold on to, I mean really I hate to sound like an HK fanboy here but my goodness.

I haven’t been provided with any kind of promotional compensation for this; but it’s rare that I have a visceral reaction to a firearm and I felt as though that was something to be shared with my fellow gun nuts.  The only thing I’m not a huge fan of on the P30 is the paddle style mag release, however as I’ve often said on other things, that’s a training issue, not a gun issue.

Will the HK P30L become my Bianchi Cup Production gun?  Will I forsake ESP and Single Stack for Production and SSP?  I don’t know, but I do know that I’m definitely going to get more rounds through one of these, and soon.