My friend TheNouveauJaeger has taken a bunch of his NYC-based new-shooter-friends out to Front Sight, for a 4-day Defensive Handgun course. He has some pictures up, and hopefully an AAR soon to come. Check it out.
Note – In retrospect, this should probably be titled, “Running the ‘Pistol XYZ’ Trigger.” The methods and training practices that work well with the Glock should also work well with many other guns.
Recently, over at Pistol-Forum.com, there was a great discussion about managing the Glock pistol trigger at speed. P-F.com member and firearms instructor Wayne Dobbs posted an excellent comment, including a training drill that I just got a chance to try out. I’ll repeat the highlights here:
I do a lot of rifle training with my .22LR AR conversion, both for reasons of cost (six cents per round vs. 25-50) and logistics (a lot of ranges prefer you not to use rifles in the pistol bays.)
Most of what we do in 3-gun, can be effectively practiced with a .22LR rifle. Slow-fire accuracy, target transitions, setups and position shooting, reloading and weapon manipulations, all of these can be done with a .22LR. The only things that cannot be effectively practiced with the .22LR carbine are recoil control on single targets, and long range holdover and wind doping.
When I’m practicing, especially outdoors, I like to break my training up into blocks. I pick a skill that I want to work on, and do a warmup, some skill development drills, and a more complicated drill that ties everything together. Ideally, I don’t have to change the stage setup for the entire block.
This is a training block that I use for position shooting with the rifle, based on the old Gunsite Rifle Bounce. It’s designed for the .22LR, but it can be scaled up to work with any rifle, or even a shotgun with slugs…
For the targets, I use cheap 2″ steel plates at the indicated distances. This scales up to 8-10″ plates at 100, 200, and 300 yards. You can use other targets, but the drill really works better if they’re reactive and self-resetting. The Bianchi barricade can be replaced with anything sturdy enough to use as a support – a trash barrel, shooting bench, table, or what-have-you.
- From offhand, fire ten rounds, slow-fire, on T1.
- From supported kneeling (using the barricade,) fire ten rounds, slow-fire, on T2.
- From prone, fire ten rounds, slow-fire, on T3.
Skill Development -
- Start standing in Box A, rifle at port arms. On signal, fire one round on T1 from offhand. Record your time. Repeat 10x, and record your number of hits.
- Start standing in Box B, rifle at port arms. On signal, fire one round on T2 from supported kneeling. Repeat 10x, record your times and hits as before.
- Start standing in Box A, rifle at port arms. On signal, drop prone and fire one round on T3. Repeat 10x.
- Start standing in Box C, rifle at low ready. On signal, move into Box A and fire one round on T1 from offhand. Repeat 10x.
- Start standing in Box C, rifle at low ready. On signal, move into Box B and fire one round on T2 from supported kneeling. Repeat 10x.
- Start standing in Box C, rifle at low ready. On signal, move into Box A and fire one round on T1 from prone. Repeat 10x.
The Working Drill -
- Start in Box C, rifle at port arms, loaded with six rounds only. On signal, engage the targets in the following order: T1 from Box A offhand, then T2 from Box B in supported kneeling, then T3 from Box A in prone. Record your time, add 10 seconds for each miss.
- Start in Box C, rifle at port arms, loaded with six rounds only. On signal, engage the targets in the following order: T3 from Box A prone, then T2 from Box B in supported kneeling, then T1 from Box A offhand. Record your time, add 10 seconds for each miss. Score as above.
Running through this entire block takes be 60-90 minutes, and uses up 120-150 rounds of ammunition depending on how many extra repeats I do. In that time, I get a thorough workout in the most commonly used rifle positions in 3-gun shooting, getting into and out of positions quickly, trigger control, and movement. Each individual drill is a building block for the next, and the working drill ties everything together into a pretty good simulation of a 3-gun rifle stage.
Over the next few weeks, I’m going to be posting some more of these ‘block drills.’ Stay tuned!
Over the weekend of July 28th, I attended the (first!) F2SConsulting High-Stress Shooting Class, held at the Echo Valley Training Center in High View, WV.
The F2S High-Stress Shooting Class is an advanced course, intended for students who have previous training with the pistol and carbine. The purpose of the High-Stress Shooting course is to instruct the students in solving complicated shooting problems, under conditions of environmental, physical, and psychological pressure. The instructors for the course are Jack Leuba and Chris Abernathy. Jack and Chris are USMC veterans with extensive combat and instructional experience.
From time to time, I shoot with Todd Green, of Pistol-Training.com fame. So I’ve had the occasion to shoot the F.A.S.T. drill a time or two. I normally turn in a pretty fair score on this drill, in fact I still hold the student record for the year 2009.
What I have never been able to do is shoot two consecutive sub-5-second F.A.S.T. drills. The highly coveted F.A.S.T. Challenge Coin has so far eluded me. Now to be fair, I have never really trained on the FAST drill skills. It appears that if I’m going to get that coin, I’ll need to make a systematic effort at it.
To start, I broke down the FAST Drill by each shot:
|Shot description||Time Allotted||Total Time|
|Draw, fire shot 1||1.50s||1.50s|
|Fire shot 2||0.50s||2.00s|
|Reload, fire shot 3||2.00s||4.00s|
|Fire shot 4||0.25s||4.25s|
|Fire shot 5||0.25s||4.50s|
|Fire shot 6||0.25s||4.75s|
The first element of the FAST Drill is also the easiest to practice. Starting with a concealed, holstered pistol, draw and fire two rounds into a 3×5″ index card at 7 yards. This drill, or something like it, is already a staple of my practice routine (and the routines of many others, I’m sure.) I just need to work the time down and the accuracy up. My current time for two rounds on a 3×5″ card is about 2.4 seconds. I need to get it down to 2.0, with at least 90% accuracy.
Element I – Draw, 2 shots on 3×5″ card @ 7yds. Current time: 2.4s Goal time: 2.0s
The second important part of the FAST Drill is the reload, and this is the thing that has been eating my lunch lately. I like to practice the reload starting from high ready, press out to fire one shot on an 8″ circle, reload, then fire two more shots. I need to get my reload down to two seconds, which equates to a 1-R-2 of about 3.25 seconds. I’ll run this a few times with the shot timer and adjust it as necessary.
Element II – 1-R-2 from high ready. Current time: 4.0s Goal time: 3.25s
Last, of course, is recoil control on a fairly large target. This can be simulated with the Bill Drill, six shots from the holster at 7 yards. In order to win the coin, I need to get my splits down to about 0.25 seconds, which equates to about a 2.5 second Bill Drill. I can already do that most days, but I’ll spend some time on it anyway. I’d like to get my time down to 2 seconds flat.
Element III – Bill Drill @ 7yds. Current time: 2.5s Goal time: 2.0s
That’s about the whole thing. If I get those three elements down on demand, I should be able to hit a FAST Drill between 4.5 and 4.75 seconds, allowing for slippage.
I’ll be running the FAST drill as my cold drill for the next month at least, and practicing the three elements two or three times a week. By the end of Feburary, when the competition season has started up again, I’ll either have my coin or a good idea of why not.
So, I’ve lately been having some second thoughts about appendix carry. Like most of my second thoughts, these were occasioned by a really crappy practice session. Without going into too many details*, I had occasion to wonder whether this whole AIWB thing was really for me.
So, I decided to run some numbers. This afternoon, I ran three drills using the same gun, once from the CCC Looper AIWB holster, then again from the CCC Quick Cover strong-side IWB holster. The results were interesting.
The first drill was simple. 2 shots on a 6″ circle at 7 yards, from the holster, freestyle, repeat 10x. Average first shot time from the strong-side holster was 1.71 seconds, with one miss. With the AIWB, average first shot ran to 1.63 seconds with 2 misses. Oddly, I managed to let my cover garment screw up my draw twice from the strong side, which didn’t help the time at all.
The second drill was intended to test reloading speed. Draw, fire 1 shot, reload from slide lock, then fire 2 more shots. Same target, same distance. I ran this drill 5 times with each holster. From the strong-side holster, I averaged a 2.03sec. reload. From the AIWB, I was averaging 2.40sec., about half a second slower. This is consistent with reports from other people who run AIWB with a closed-front cover garment.
The last drill was just to draw and fire two shots, strong hand only. Again, I used the same 6″ target at 7 yards. And again, the AIWB holster was a little slower, averaging 2.51 seconds for the first shot, vs. 2.06 seconds from the strong-side IWB. Again, this tracks pretty well with what other AIWB shooters have reported.
More after the break.
I was doing a little dry practice this evening. Lately I’ve been working quite a bit on my drawstroke, and I’ve been seeing some measurable improvement, but tonight I ended up making two interesting discoveries related to the reload.
One important element of a fast reload is to point the magwell at your magazine pouch. I found that I had picked up a tendency to point the magwell more towards my body, and that it was causing me to hang the magazine up on the rear of the magwell. Handy if you like fumbled reloads, but less than ideal if you prefer speed and awesomeness.
On the other hand, if I pointed the magwell a little to the outside of my mag pouch, my reloads were smooth as silk. Every time. Just making that one little change shaved a full 0.1sec off my reload time, and made the reloads much more consistent.
I must have been inspired, because I decided to play with emergency (that is, empty-gun-slide-locked-back) reloads for a while. I wanted to try the technique of ‘pre-loading’ the slide release, which goes something like this: After dropping the empty magazine, your strong-hand thumb goes to the slide release and rests there, just applying a tiny bit of pressure. Your support hand retrieves your magazine and seats it in the magwell, at which point the slide release automatically releases and the slide goes into battery. It’s the fastest possible way to perform an empty reload.
(Note – interesting thread on the reload here.)
So, I did about a hundred reps of this exercise, starting with the pistol pointed in on the target, slide locked back. I managed to work my time down to 1.4-1.5sec, buzzer to click. Not bad.
If there’s a moral to this story, it is this: Practice every day, without fail, even if you don’t really feel up to it. You never know when another piece of the puzzle will fall into place.
The most important element of practical rifle shooting can be summed up in one sentence: You have to know where your rifle shoots.
This truism was illustrated for me a few weeks ago at the Tidewater 3-gun match. Somehow, between the Topton team match and Tidewater, the zero on my rifle shifted about 3MOA low and left. Normally I can blow through 200-yard Flash Targets with barely a care, but Sunday I was missing them left and right. Well, mostly left…
Anyhow, this is a problem I see quite a bit. A lot of shooters never have the chance to shoot a carbine out past 50 yards, and these are the shooters who struggle mighty with 200-plus-yard steel. They don’t know where their rifle shoots.
So, whenever I get a new rifle or a new load, I like to run a dope table for it. It’s easy to do, and it will save you a lot of heartache and dropped point on those long range stages.
You’ll need your rifle, ammo, a place to shoot (at least 100 yards, and 300+ is even better), and a stack of targets. You don’t need to go all crazy elaborate with the targets – I use 3×5″ index cards stapled to sheets of scrap cardboard.
First things first, throw a target up at your preferred zero distance. I zero my 3gun rifle at 100 yards, and my defensive rifle at 50. Shoot at least a 3-round group, adjust your sights as appropriate, and repeat. I prefer to do all my zeroing from supported prone, but there’s probably nothing wrong with establishing your zero from the bench. Just don’t make a habit of it, and be sure to wash your hands afterwards. ;)
Okay, now you have a zeroed rifle. Now it’s time to figure out your holdover at some different distances, from different positions. I do this by shooting 10-round groups at different distances. The distances that you shoot at are up to you and your type of shooting, but some suggestions are in the table below:
- Prone – 50, 100, 150, 200, 300, and 400 yards.
- Standing – 15, 25, 50, 75, and 100 yards. I’d stretch it out to 150-200, except that I just can’t hold an offhand group that far out…
- Supported offhand: 50, 75, 100, 150, and 200 yards. I use a VTAC barricade or something similar as a rest.
- Rollover prone/reverse rollover prone: 25, 50, and 100 yards.
For a given position, I set up a target at each distance and shoot the groups in a single string. Then I measure the holdover/hold-off and note it in my shooting journal. I frequently shoot different positions on different practice days, as a warm-up – prone one day, offhand the next, etc.
That’s the end goal of the zeroing process – to collect enough data that you’ll know exactly where to hold to hit a given target, no matter the circumstances or conditions. Once you have that, you’re one step closer to mastery.
Over at GNM, Caleb was pontificating about logging your round count, keeping track of malfunctions, et cetera.
It’s probably a good idea to keep a log of rounds fired, although it’s not something I’ve always done myself. Even more important, though, is keeping a practice log – a record of the drills you shoot, the times and scores you put up, et cetera. I’ve been keeping a record of my practices since 2008, and I’m constantly referring back to those old notes. I use them to figure out where my weak points are, what I need to practice more, and how I can further refine my training.
So, some dudes in the comments section mentioned a web service called Rangelog.com. It looks like an interesting service – you can log your practice sessions and matches online, keep track of your round counts, maintenance, modifications, and tons of other information. It’s an interesting idea, and I’m thinking about signing up for it. Anyone out there ever tried this service?
Thanks to the fine folks at my local shooting club, I was able to attend the Level 1 Range Officer certification seminar last weekend. It included one day of in-class instruction and role playing, and a day on the range doing the RO thing.
It was pretty interesting, and frankly, something that I think would benefit anyone who wants to seriously compete in Practical Shooting competition as the class not only covered what the rules are and how they apply at a match, but why the rules are the way that they are.
All in all, it’s some pretty informative stuff, and Troy McManus does a good job in his presentation of the material. I’ll have a more thorough writeup and some pictures later this week.