IPSC Shoe

Seen at the Firearm Blog, apparently DoubleAlpha is marketing an outdoors shoe as the perfect shoe for IPSC.  IPSC and USPSA do require a good shoe selection – often you’re shooting on sand, grass, mud, wooden planks as the ad for the shoe describes.  Many shooters wear cleats or other high traction shoes; the IPSC Shoe takes it one step (ha!) further and gives you the benefit of a metal cleat for soggy boards without sacrificing traction on other surfaces.  That being said, I don’t know if the performance edge is worth the $170 USD price tag.  I tend to take a more moderate approach to shoes – a good off-road trail running shoe will provide the traction you need for most surfaces (with the possible exception of wet gravel) and also not break the bank.  Plus, I use my USPSA shoes for IDPA, and actually for trail running.  My favorite shoe is the Adidas Kanadia TR 2 which I hope they never discontinue.  As you can see it has a very aggressive tread pattern on the bottom of the shoe, without  having the extremely high ankle that you see on the “IPSC Shoe” (which is something I don’t enjoy).  I’m actually thinking about trying the Vibrams trail running “shoes” for USPSA and IDPA, as a lot of people I know outside the shooting world swear by them for running.

The thing about USPSA and IDPA is that it is as physical as you want to make it.  If sprinting from shooting box to shooting box is what you’d like to do, then you’ll need good shoes.  If you’d rather move slower, that’s awesome too – the nice thing about these games is that it is entirely up to the shooter to determine the pace that they shoot a particular stage.  Oh, and by way of disclaimer – I have received precisely diddly-squat from Adidas.  Somehow I don’t think they’d be too keen on an action pistol sponsorship…

Crimson Trace announces new division

Their division, focused solely on producing products for the military consumer is called CTC Defense.

Different from the commercial Crimson Trace brand, all new products have been built from the ground up using new technologies and resources that are innovative solutions for today’s hostile environments requiring white light, IR (infrared) and quick change day-to-night sighting systems.

Good for them.

Teaser…

We’re 9 months away from the 2011 Bianchi Cup in Columbia, MO.  I’m already thinking about it, because today I picked up the gun I’ll be shooting – this is a gun with history that ties in to my roots in the shooting sports and one of the legends in the competition shooting world.  This gun has stories to tell; and next year at the 2011 Bianchi Cup we’re going to tell those stories, and add a new chapter to the history of this remarkable pistol.  As we get closer to the match we’ll bring more information out, but I promise this will be one you won’t want to miss.

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.