Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Repair Work on M&P

So I mentioned in earlier posts that I've been having problems with a dead trigger after some hard and fast reloads in my M&Ps.  I spoke with Apex Tactical last week and they said that it was probably caused by sear bounce and that I needed to replace the sear spring with a larger one (1/8th inch).  They also suggested that I replace the sear housing block cuz the old ones may not be able to take the larger sear spring.

So I ordered two new sear housing blocks and two larger sear springs.  I installed them in both guns today.  Now I just need a semi-warm day at the range to see if this worked.  I sure hope it did.

Monday, December 17, 2012

End of Year Match Review

The shooting season is mostly on hold until March. That's not to say I won't be shooting a couple of IDPA matches over the winter.  At ARPC IDPA we will have have our monthly matches in January and February. Some of the other local clubs may also.  But honestly, the ice, snow, and bitter cold sometimes make these events less than enjoyable.  I shoot these matches in the winter just to keep fresh.  I hope there will be warmer days now and then so a few of us can get to the range and practice.  But most of my "shooting time" will be given over to dry fire practice and reloading ammo at home.

So here's where I stand right now in IDPA and USPSA.  Remember, this blog is for me to keep easily accessible records of my progress in these shooting sports.  But I guess it could also be a venue for my shameless self promotion.  Whatever.

The only IDPA classifier I shot in 2012 that changed my standing was in March, where I classified as SSP Master.  I discussed that here and in this post.

My USPSA classification in Production was bumped from B to A Class on December 15th.

I shot one gun this entire year—my Smith & Wesson M&P Pro 9mm. The only exception was at the ARPC Revolver match in March.  Shooting the same gun in IDPA and USPSA helped me enormously.  I didn't have to make adjustments for different grips or triggers or sights or whatever.  I figured that if I was gonna get gooder, I needed to concentrate on one gun.  I think this was a good decision.  So I shot SSP (Stock Service Pistol) all year in IDPA.  And I shot Production all year in USPSA.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Monthly ARPC IDPA Match

I haven't been posting much lately because I've just been grinding away at practice.  I know my weaknesses and what I need to improve on.  Now I just need to train in such a way that I can correct these weaknesses.

We had great weather to shoot our local club match today—about 50 degrees, overcast, with no wind.  Pretty amazing for a December match.  4 of the 7 stages consisted of the annual IDPA Postal Match.  They were very simple stages for the most part.  I know that IDA HQs has to design stages that everyone in the country can use, so they tend to be pretty "narrow" stages.  Shoot straight with only minimal movement.  That's fine.  They tend to favor those that have speedy splits and transitions.  One of the stages ("Cup" Standards) was pretty squirrelly for an IDPA stage.  IDPA stages very seldom have you transition to weak hand shooting in the middle of a string.  This one did.  It reminded me of a USPSA classifier stage. This is the only stage that I really screwed up on.  I got two misses shooting the weak hand portion.  Rats.

Once again, I was less than satisfied with my reloads.  Practice, practice, practice.

The results are now posted.  I see that I had too many points down.  Speed rules, but I need to continue to improve my accuracy.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Right & Wrong Way

I hate to give this stupid video more hits, but it is an almost perfect example of the idiocy you see on YouTube that claims to be "shooting instruction."

No, that's not how it's done.  No way.  This guy is a crackpot.  If you follow his instruction, you will not shoot well on the move.

Here's the right way to move and shoot.  It's a longer video, but well worth it.

The internet is chock-full of self-proclaimed shooting experts.  Choose your instructors carefully.  And just for the record, I don't claim to be one.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Sparta USPSA Match - November 17

This was the last USPSA match at Sparta for the season.  They'll be back on line in March. That's a shame because these are some of the best matches in the St. Louis area.  The Sparta range allows for near 180 degree shooting.  The match directors always do a wonderful job of putting together very challenging, high-round count stages that are just a lot of fun.  Today's match was no different. And the weather was perfect, one of the best days for shooting of the year—55 degrees and sunny.  Can't beat that.

I had a fairly good match.  I made a few mistakes, but overall I was pretty consistent.  On the first array of targets on the first stage of the day I missed as I was pulling away to reload and move to the next shooting position.  Dumb.  I must continue to work on that. I thought I was.  But I did it twice today.  Arrggh!  These were really the only two big mistakes I made.  I could have been a little more accurate, fewer C's and more A's would always be good.  But I was quick and had good stage plans for every stage.

Thankfully, I had no ammo or gun issues the entire match.  My equipment worked flawlessly.  Yay!  The other issue I have to work on is faster reloads.  I had maybe 3 or 4 squirrelly reloads in the match. By "squirrelly" I mean nervous, choppy reloads that took 2 seconds or so.  But I can work on this in dry fire over the winter. This is something I need to get down pat so that I'm not worrying about it at a match.  Definitely.

The classifier was CM88-09, which was a fairly easy classifier for me.  It was essentially an el presidente with 6 targets.  I'm pretty fast on these kinds of stages.  The only problem was I had one of my subpar reloads on this stage.  My score was 7.30 secs and 50 pts with a HF of 6.8493.  For production shooters that's at the high end of the Master classification (84.995%).  That will kick up my classification to A this next month, which is probably a good thing.  I think.

The scores should be out tomorrow.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

November BUG Match

This month our ARPC IDPA club match was a BUG match.   BUG = Back-Up Gun.  But BUG usually just means "your small carry gun."  The IDPA rule book allows for clubs to do local BUG matches.  To qualify for the BUG match the shooter's gun must be .32 auto or larger and have a barrel length of 3.8 inches or less for semi-autos and 3 inches or less for revolvers.  And the shooter can only load 5 rounds into his magazine or cylinder.

BUG gun matches are usually much less complicated than normal IDPA matches.  There's very little reloading required.  I didn't reload once at the match yesterday.  The targets are usually all 10 yards or closer because they try to simulate more realistic CCW scenarios.  Here are Saturday's 8 stages.

Our BUG match yesterday had 8 stages with a minimum round count of 45.  The stages were simple but challenging and fun.  I'm used to drawing and firing my full-sized M&P Pro in normal matches, so every time I drew my Kahr PM9 yesterday I thought, "Where's the rest of my gun?"  Even though my Kahr magazines have a little extension base pad, it's still hard to get both my hands around that little frame on the draw.

I carry that Kahr PM9 about 75% of the time.  The other 25% I'm concealing my 45. cal Kimber Tactical Ultra II, but that's usually in the winter when I have more clothes on.  The Kahr is easier to conceal in the Spring and Summer.  So putting my Kahr through the paces on 8 stages was instructive.  It's performed flawlessly. Not one problem at all.  So far this little pistol has been perfectly reliable.  The trigger pull is very smooth.  I shot pretty well with it.  Of course, the trigger is as not as light as my M&P (with the Apex Competition trigger upgrade), but it's still very easy to shoot accurately.

Everyone that carries regularly should try to shoot one of these BUG matches every year.  You learn just how accurate you are (or aren't) with a tiny gun.  Practicing drawing these little pistols can help increase your speed.  You'll also get a good idea about how reliable your carry gun actually is.  There were a number of guys who had problems after just a few stages and had to switch guns.  I was a bit concerned about using the ammo that I make for normal matches (for my M&P).  But I had no problems whatsoever.  My little Kahr functioned flawlessly.  I now have a great deal of confidence in that gun and in my ability to shoot it quick and accurately.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Music City Cup II

I am in Dickson, Tennessee tonight. Tomorrow I will be shooting the Music City Cup IDPA match. It was a great match last year, and it looks like it's going to be even better this year--12 stages with a minimum round count of about 220.  Hopefully I will have an update with some video sometime Sunday evening.

The match is over and I'm home.  I'll drop in one video here quickly before I comment on the match as a whole later today or tomorrow.  This is stage #5.

If you look carefully at the beginning of the video you can see a white steel popper 35-yards down range.  You have to knock that popper down before you can move on.  It's a long shot. I haven't seen the published scores yet, but I believe I got the top score on this stage.  We'll see.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

ARPC IDPA October 13 Match Review

This past Saturday we had our monthly IDPA match at Arnold.  I was the match director this month, so  I planned the stages and whatnot.  The first time I did this earlier this year I shot horribly.  I was too preoccupied with making sure everything was going well during the match.  I didn't stick with a squad to shoot, but I just dipped into each stage, shot, and left. That's a recipe for a poor performance.  I normally need more time to mentally prepare and run through my plan a number of times in my head before I actually shoot.  This month I stuck with a squad for the whole match and only walked around to check on things when I finished shooting a stage.

Even though I did well relative to everyone else, I was not really happy with my shooting on most stages.  My reloads were slow. I had at least two episodes where my gun did not chamber a round when I reloaded.  That happened on my first stage.  As I said in an earlier post, I believe I'm causing this either by 1) hitting the slide release with my strong hand thumb during the reload, or 2) just jarring the gun so hard when I put the mag in the mag well that the slide releases before the magazine is fully seated.  Either way, I need to work on that.  So I won 4 out of the 6 stages, but I didn't feel great about any of them except stages 5, 6, and 7.

The "Zombie Apocalypse" stage was fun.  It was closer to a USPSA stage because no cover was required (zombies don't have guns) and there were a ton of targets that required you have a plan in your head before you started shooting.  I had a smoking time, but missed two head shots.  Sigh.

I need to work on my reloads.  Not just because of the problem I described above, but also I've noticed that I've slowed down.  A 2 second reload is too slow.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Mastering the Mental Game

I shot the USPSA Open match at Sparta, IL, this Saturday (Sept. 29).  Here's a short video of a few stages.

Now for a little match review.  I'll start with the bad and end with the good.  Stage #5 was the first stage I shot.  And I was the first shooter.  I ran the gun dry shooting the steel because I missed one shot.  That shouldn't have mattered too much. But when I reloaded I must have accidentally thumbed the slide release so that it slid forward before the magazine was fully seated.  A round did not chamber.  That's why the gun didn't go bang when I pulled the trigger.  There went two seconds or more.  Sigh.  But worse than that, I let it get to me and got mad, pulling the trigger way too fast on that last array.  These were easy 10-yard shots.  But I hit a non-shoot and racked up 20 penalty points.  I've got to control myself after a simple glitch like this and not let it affect my shooting on the rest of the stage.  Fortunately, I had no other "gun problems" the rest of the match.

Besides this miss on the first stage of the day, I had two other mikes.  Both of them happened on the last target in an array.  I'm pulling the gun away to reload and move on too quickly. I need to follow through on that last shot.

Not counting the three stages where I had mikes, I had some pretty good runs on most stages.  I tried to run through my plan at least a dozen times in my head before I shot.  But when I shoot first in the squad I have a harder time keeping to my plan.  I shot first on two stages (because our squad only had six guys in it) and made mental errors on both.  The worst mental mistake was bringing up a new mag to the gun after only firing 4 shots.  I just tossed the new mag and kept shooting. But it cost me 3 seconds or so.

I was much more comfortable shooting this match than I was at the Illinois Sectional.  This could be because I was squadded with 2 Grand Master Production shooters at the Sectional.  In addition, the Sectional was my first major USPSA match. Until then I had only shot 6-stage club matches.  So much of USPSA shooting is about smart shooting.  I believe my mental game is getting better.  That's good news.

The results can be found here.  The combined results here.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Full Auto Glock

So my Glock 34 went full auto this weekend.  I hadn't put 100 rounds through it and it started shooting 3-round bursts.  Kinda fun, but scary too.  Turns out that the plunger spring had gone sideways.  I'll take it out again this week and see if that solved the problem.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Slide Lock Reload Trouble

I've had this issue periodically.  It happened once at the ARPC IDPA match on Saturday.  Here's what normally happens.  My Smith & Wesson M&P Pro 9mm goes to slide lock.  I reload by inserting a new magazine.  I shove it in hard enough to cause the slide to go forward when the magazine is inserted.  Usually a fresh round is stripped from the new magazine and the gun goes bang when I pull the trigger.  With a good reload all of that takes less that 2 seconds between shots.  When things go well.

But maybe once every 20 reloads, I do all of this and no round is chambered after the reload.  I've thought that this happened because I slammed the magazine in too fast and hard.  But I don't think that's the source of the problem.  Thanks to Dan's suggestion at the match this Saturday I checked the M&P Forum to see what others have said about this.

It seems that this is a common problem for guys that index their trigger finger so far up the frame when reloading that they tap or lightly depress the slide release.  It's actually the knuckle of the trigger finger that rests against the slide stop.

The M&P has an ambidextrous slide stop release.  And it's easy to depress this when you are performing a lightning fast slide-lock reload.  That sounds right to me.  Now I have to pay attention during my next practice session and see if this might be my problem.  I suspect that it is. But I want to confirm it in live fire practice.

Monday, September 3, 2012

An Obligatory Post

I guess I have to post something about the Illinois Sectional this past Saturday.  I'd rather not.  I really don't want to think about it.  It was an awful match for me.  I crashed and burned on the very first stage. After that I didn't care much and shot pretty recklessly.  I have all sorts of excuses I could list. But they don't amount to much.  Truth is: I just screwed up on the first stage so badly it rattled me.  I lost all confidence and motivation to shoot smart.  Maybe I'll have something to post later about what I might have learned at the match.  Maybe not.  Some things are just better left alone.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Bench Rest IDPA Match

Time for another match review. This one should be short.  I have no video this time. I just shot the match.  Imagine that?

I haven't shot the monthly Bench Rest IDPA match in about a year.  Ever since Sparta starting holding its monthly USPSA matches on the 3rd Saturday of the month I've been going there.  But this month Sparta had to postpone its match until the 4th Sunday, so I headed up to Bench Rest.

Dave Euson put on a good match. There were about 55 shooters, I think.  6 stages.  106 round count.  The stages were interesting and challenging.  We used the swaying boat dock prop on one stage.  That's always a hoot.  On another one we had to come out of a shower and fold a towel around our waist before grabbing our gun and shooting the targets strong hand.  We had a reload with retention stage.  A stage using the truck. There were swingers, drop turners, poppers, hard cover targets, lots of no shoots, head shots, weak hand shooting, etc.  A good variety and well-done stages.  

I was generally pleased with my performance. I was shooting fast, sometimes a little too fast.  But I was fairly accurate even though I was pushing my speed.  I had a few bumps—one miss and four -3 shots for the whole match.  I'll take that.  I'm not sure I can identify anything to work on other than to dial down my speed a bit on close shots.  I tend to point and shoot very quickly.  Two of my -3 shots were on targets that were about 5 yards away.

I won 4 out of 6 stages and was first in the overall standings.  

Monday, August 13, 2012

Monday Morning Match Review

I've got a few minutes this morning to review my performance at the ARPC IDPA club match this past Saturday morning.  Here's the video of me shooting all seven stages.  I'm shooting my Smith & Wesson M&P Pro 9mm in SSP (Stock Service Pistol) division.

Stage #1 - Standards

No cover garment.  Hands naturally at your side.  2 shots on each target, then a reload with retention.  2 more shots on each target, another reload with retention, and 2 more shots on target. Best 6 shots scored on each target.

I shot this one well.  Other than faster reloads, I don't see anything I could have improved on this stage. I loosened my belt so I could stow my retained magazines right in front under my belt. That always makes retention reloads faster.  I can do that as long as I'm not required to run with them in my belt.  ;-)

Time: 18.14 secs & 4 points down.  I was #1 on this stage.

Stage #2 - Off Road Attack

Sitting on an ATV.  Pistol at low ready.  Two shots on each target, engaged from near to far.  One steel popper activated two swingers.

Those two swingers were 15 and 20 yards down range.  And what is worse, they did not appear in any consistent order.  It depended on how taunt the lines to the activators were made each time these were reset. So I decided to shoot 2–2–popper–3 in the first swinger–3 in the second swinger–reload–2–2.    Turned out that the farther swinger was slow and I had to wait.  I'm not sure what the deal is with me briefly releasing my support hand.

This was the first stage I shot.  I was already frustrated with it because I needed a reshoot.  The first time I went through it I put 5 rounds on the popper and it didn't fall.  The activating lines were two tight and wouldn't allow the swinger to fall.

Not my best stage.  Time: 10:54 secs & 9 pts down.  I was 4th on this stage.

Stage #3 - Chain me to the Wall

I designed this stage. I got the idea from one of the USPSA Area 3 stages.  Sitting on a chair with your weak hand chained (tied) to a table.  At the signal: stand and engage all targets through the windows with your strong hand only.  The trick here was not to extend so far that you were off balance and had to step back too far for the reload.  You can see Jeff Eisenhart shooting this stage here.

My time was great on this stage, but I had a mike on one of the far targets. That cost me.  Time: 16.35 secs, 12 pts down, and one FTN.  I was 11th on this stage.

Stage #4 - Wrong Handed Reception

There were a lot of options on how to shoot this stage (something not usually seen in IDPA stages).  Basically all the options but one allowed you to get clear shots on all the targets with little or no danger of hitting the non-threats.  The option that I chose insured little movement and a fast time if I could avoid hitting the dangerously placed non-threats.  I did it.  I put 3 rounds on the one long head shot for insurance.  Turned out I didn't need it.  But that NT was extremely close.

I got the top score on this stage: 10.78 secs & 1 pt down.

Stage #5 - Black Jack Blues

Starting position: hands face down on the Black Jack Table. At the signal: draw and engage all the targets from near to far.  I love these kinds of stages.  The only danger here was shooting through the first close target and hitting a non-threat behind it. But if you positioned yourself right at the start this wasn't a problem.  I put 3 shoots on the far two targets for insurance, but also because I didn't want to reload in the middle of engaging the last target.

I won this stage, too.  Time: 10.41 secs & 2 pts down.

Stage #6 - Fighting Reload

You started with 6 rounds in your gun.  All your loaded magazines were on the other side of the stage on the barrel. At the signal you grabbed the baby, drew your pistol, and engaged all 6 targets with one round each while moving.  Once you got to the other side you were at slide lock. So you retrieved a magazine to reload and one to stow.  Then you moved back across the opening engaging each target again freestyle with 2 rounds each while moving.  You could take make-up shots from cover when you reached the other side.

I had a few problems on this one.  I had too many points down on one of the end targets.  I need to move a little slower while shooting stages like this.  Move slower, shoot faster.  Then when I finish engaging the targets I can dash to the end.  And for some reason my second reload failed to strip a round from my magazine.  Oh, and I need to work on handling loose magazines and stowing them.  I fumbled around like a blind man.

Time: 20.53 secs & 9 pts down.  I was 7th on this stage.

Stage #7 - Unexpected Drama

Nothing too difficult here.  Start sitting on a bench. At the signal drop to one knee, draw, and engage the two targets with 3 rounds each.  I smoked this stage.  Time: 3.98 secs & 0 pts down.  I won this stage.

Overall I was pleased with my score.  I was first overall even though I had a few missteps.

Friday, August 10, 2012

25 & 50 Yards

There's a lot of discussion on the gun forums about the inaccuracy of the S&W M&Ps.  Truth be told, they are not nearly as accurate as a nice 1911 or 2011.  There's no denying that.  But they are not as bad as they are often portrayed.

Yesterday at the range I was able to take some time off from my normal practice drills and shoot some groups with both of my M&Ps. I used two loads - Montana Golds and Berry's HP, both 124gr. 

At 25 yards I got between 2-1/2 and 3-1/2 inch groups of five, with an occasional flyer. But those flyers were probably me. I sat down with my back against a solid table, my legs propped up, and my arms on my legs (actually, between my knees) to shoot these.  I was pretty happy with this. These are better groups than the last time I tried this (about 2 years ago). Maybe the way I shot these was inherently more stable than shooting from a sandbag on a bench.  I've noticed that the M&P doesn't shoot very feel from a bench rest.  

In addition to the 25 yrd groups, I was on a bay that allowed me to go back to 50 yards. I set up two IDPA targets and shot 20 rounds offhand, about 1 sec or so between shots. I took my time.  The result: 9 zeros, 8 ones, 2 threes, and 1 mike. I think the mike was early on as I was figuring out my elevation. I shot 4 test shots and then checked them. They were mostly low. After that, all zeros and ones. I'll take that. I was kind of surprised at how easy it was to get good hits if I took my time.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A Real Match Review

Some friends reviewed my video from the June Sparta Match and offered some excellent critique and suggestions here.  Here I am shooting Stage #4.

Darren Mulford offered some excellent analysis:
Stage 4:  
You basically did a standing reload in the middle of the 3rd array after your 10th shot. You do NOT want to split up an array if you can help it. It interrupts flow and slows you down. I would have reloaded after the 1st two targets because you had more time there (while you came through the door and acquired the second array.You split an array again on your next mag. 
Using your sequence of targets, i would have done this: 
Target 1, target 2, reload.Target 3, target 4, target 5, target 6, reload.Target 7, target 8, target 9, target 10, target 11, reload. Notes: There's 1 round left in the gun and you go into the steel with a full mag.Steel 1, steel 2, steel 3, steel 4, target 12. Done. Notes: Assuming no extra shots you would have had 6 extra shots for this array if needed. In the video you only had 4 extra shots since you split the previous array. 
General notes: 
-Target 1 and 2: Normally I would have started on the right target because as you advance forward you lose sight of the right target before the left. HOWEVER, since the right target was partially blacked out, you did the correct thing by starting on the left wide open target. A lot of shooters, including me, like to start on a wide open target (right out of the holster). Nice job on this. 
* It looks like you took target 1, 2, 3, and 4 on the move. If you got your hits...nice job! Moving while shooting is the biggest thing that advances a shooter in the results...however you have to get your hits.  
* For some reason you hesitated on targets 5 and 6...i think you could have kept moving forward, especially on target 5 when you turned...and having to reload in the middle of the target 5-6 array definitely slowed down your forward progress. 
* I sense some hesitation between indexing onto the target and firing the first shot. This is noticeable to me on targets 7, 8 and 9. If you watch, rewind, watch, rewind, you will see the hesitation. The shot should be going off as soon as you index onto the target. And on the 7-8-9 target array, the targets are all close and the spacing between is pretty much the same so when shooting those targets a good shooter would not have any time difference between the shots and the targets. For example, the whole sequence should sound like 6 shots on one target.... pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop...what you have is: pop, pop.....pop, pop.....pop, pop. 
The biggest problem I saw in stage 4 was splitting the arrays..this greatly slowed down your forward progress.
I can't find anything in this critique to disagree with.  Having more accomplished shooters analyze my shooting has always helped me.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Sparta USPSA Match

Time for a match review.  The first thing to note is that I had no equipment issues at this match.  I used my new CR speed belt and Safariland mag pouches for the first time. They worked great.  The only thing I need to do is space out my mag pouches a bit more. But I didn't have any problems with that. I just noticed they were a bit too close together.  I had purchased a Blade-Tech offset and dropped holster a few weeks ago, but discovered at practice that I really couldn't get a good grip with it.  The holster rides up the side of the pistol higher than my CompTac and I can't get my hand placement right when I draw.  So I sent it back.  I'm just using my CompTac paddle holster with my CR belt.  That's probably best anyway because I'll have a consistent placement of the holster and gun for IDPA and USPSA.

I also did a thorough cleaning job on both my M&Ps because I was having some issues with light striker fires.  Once I cleaned out the striker chamber, everything works great.  No ammo issues either. Yay!

Second, true to form, I had my biggest problem on the first stage we shot (#5).  It was a great run with good time and accuracy.   But I swept right past a popper.  With that mike and FTE I lost 20 points.  I need to get my mental game under control for that first stage.

Third, other than that I was pretty pleased with my performance. Pretty pleased.  I had two mikes, but I knew after I finished the stage that I had probably missed those shots.  Once again, I need to work on my last shot before I move from a position.  I tend to pull that last shot.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

I'm going to have to try this at 6 feet. Seems awful close.  I'm used to shooting this at 7-10 yards.  My fastest at 7 yards is about 1.6 seconds.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Things I need to work on this month

This is the short list:

1. Getting a good consistent grip from my draw. For some reason I've had problems lately.  I have a feeling its because my holster is slipping forward and back a bit. I've got a Comptac paddle holster that tends to move around.  I'm going to put some 3M outdoor tread tape here and there on it to see if I can stop that.  Also, for USPSA I've got a new rig coming: a CR speed belt, 5 new Safariland 773 magazine pouches, and a Blade-Tech dropped and offset holster. That should help.

2. Be more consistent with my dry fire practice. I suspect that this may be one of the reasons I'm having trouble with #1.

3.  Work on transitions between widely separated targets (see the previous post on the last steel match).

4.  Slow down (just a bit) and work on accuracy.  Always a challenge for me.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Steel Plates Match

Yesterday's steel match was hot as hades.  Not very many people turned out for the match because of the heat, only about 20 people.

I had trouble with the "Not Again" stage you see me shooting in the video.  This is a very common stage in steel matches.  I usually do pretty well shooting this.  Not yesterday. I couldn't hit the far right plate on the first shot for the life of me.  I think after the first two misses it was psychological.  Of course, that is the most difficult shot in the array.  You have to sweep your gun from the far left all the way to the right and stop in time to get a sight picture and pull the trigger.

In any case, the match was fun and I didn't do too bad overall.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Dead Trigger Issues

In my previous post I mentioned that I was having some trouble with my S&W M&P Pro.  I've had this gun for 3 years. I've probably put 8-10K rounds through it, shooting monthly IDPA and USPSA matches, and lots of practice, etc. I've never had any problems whatsoever. Utterly reliable. The only upgrades I've made to the internals of the gun are installing an Apex competition trigger and RAM. I love this trigger.

The past two matches I've had a problem. It typically happens at the reload, either slide lock reload or USPSA-type reload. Insert the new mag.  Slide returns to battery. Round chambers.  But no bang. NO CLICK when I squeeze the trigger. There's no mark on the primer. It's like the sear didn't reset with the last shot or the reload. It's NOT that there is a click and no bang. There's no click. The trigger's not reset.  It's dead.  This happened twice in both matches. Not on every reload. It happened again once after the matches during a practice session. Just once out of 200 rounds or so.

I posted this problem on the Enos forum and got some good advice.  This afternoon I finally got a chance to take the sear housing block out of the gun and look at everything.  It was filthy.  I have only done field strip cleaning on the gun for years.  So I cleaned up every little piece, especially the sear spring and plunger.  There was a lot of gunk in the sear housing.  Before I cleaned it I checked the trigger and reset and it seemed to work "okay."  But after I cleaned it, I noticed the difference right away. The trigger is now crisper and clicky. The reset is noticeably loader and crisper.  I'll take it out this week and  put it through a workout.  But I suspect that the problem is solved.

I should have thought about this before.  I break down my 1911s completely every year to clean them.  I guess I need to start doing that with my M&P.  No problem. It's a lot easier to strip down than a 1911.

UPDATE: I put enough rounds through it last night at the range to be confident that the problem is solved.  It just needed a good, thorough cleaning.  Yay!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

USPSA Sparta Match - June 16, 2012

While everyone else seems to be at Area 5 this weekend, a few of us drove to Sparta, IL, for their club match.  I've been keyed up so much lately preparing for the two big local IDPA matches (IL State and MO State) that it was awful nice just to relax and shoot a fun match.

It's been a while since I donned my Contour video camera and recorded an entire match.

I shot this match with my new back-up M&P Pro.  My older one is having some hiccups and I need to tear it down and give it a thorough cleaning.  I had some problems with it at both IL State and MO State.  But my new gun performed flawlessly today—no jams, no dead trigger, no problems with ammunition.  So nice.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Missouri State IDPA Championship 2012

The two sanctioned matches I thought I had a chance of winning are over.  I didn't do so hot at the IL State match.  I smoked MO State.  Well, "smoked" isn't really the best was to describe my performance.  Maybe it's just me, but in any given match I'm often very happy with the way I've shot a particular stage, but I usually kick myself mentally for the match as a whole (even when I win).  So I did have the top score in SSP at the Match (against 80 SSP shooters) and won SSP Division Champion.  I'm pleased, but not satisfied.  I continue to make some inexcusable mental errors.

SSP Division Champion - ME!
First, the mistakes that need to be worked on.  I've got gun problem with reloads.  I'd guess that at least a fifth of my reloads went wrong.  After seating the magazine and closing the slide, the first shot went "click."  Nothing.  So I had to rack the slide again.  Because it was a major match and everything was happening so quickly I couldn't tell exactly what went wrong.  I'm pretty sure that racking the slide after the glitch did not eject a round, so it may be a magazine problem.  But I may not have noticed the round being ejected either.  I'm also pretty sure that the slide went back into battery after the reload.  I actually replaced my recoil spring last week and I have not had problems with any FTRB at practice sessions.  The whole thing's a mystery to me and I need to find out what's going on quickly.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Illinois State IDPA Championship

This weekend I shot in the Illinois State IDPA Championship at the World Shooting Complex in Sparta, IL. Before analyzing my performance let me just say a few things about the match as a whole.  The match director Jeff Duckworth did a fantastic job organizing and running the match--very well done!  The lunch was fantastic (BBQ pork sandwiches and/or huge beef hotdogs).  The weather was amazing (maybe 75 on Friday and in the mid-80s on Saturday).  The 12 stages were challenging and fun.  And after the last shot on Saturday, when everyone had bagged their guns, Jeff broke out the beer!  What a treat.  Loved it.

Guys from our club (ARPC) did really well.  Tim Barker placed first in ESP Expert division, but unfortunately there wasn't enough Expert shooters in the match for him to get a bump to Master.  Bummer.  He is shooting crazy fast and accurate.  He deserves it.  Ken Rihanek shot well even after the rear sight fell off his CZ on the second stage of the day.  He shot Vince's back up gun (Glock 34) the rest of the match.  Mark Goede should have won an award for the most friendly, helpful, gracious, and competent Saftey Officer for the match.  Mark's our Match director at ARPC and is a Grand Master of promoting IDPA in our area.  Rod Aman won 1st place in SSP Expert division and was bumped to Master!  Steve Filla was not too far behind him (3rd place in SSP Expert).

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Sporting Clays

Last night about 7 guys from our church went out to St. Louis Trap & Skeet Club in Pacific to shoot a round of sporting clays.  I used to shoot skeet regularly back in the 80s, but only do so occasionally now.  Sporting clays is so much more fun.  And more difficult.  I was able to break 39 out of 50 clays last night. I felt pretty good about my overall score, even if I was pretty frustrated with some of my stupid misses.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Alex Gutt Shoots Ohio State USPSA Championship

This is an awesome performance by Gutt.  It's a pleasure to watch.  I love how he fades away shooting the last target in an array before moving.  And his transition time between shots is lightning fast.

Oh, and I love that stage near the end where he shoots to activate a swinger on one side of long wall, then he has to run to the other side to engage the swinger.   Then back again.  Too cool.  I want to make a stage like that.

Thanks to Ken for pointing me to this video!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sparta Match - May 26, 2012

My wife was kind enough to let me slip away Saturday morning for a USPSA match in Sparta.  It was especially generous of her because we were hosting my son's high school graduation party at 3 PM.  I had to make sure I could get back in time to help with the finish touches before everyone arrived for the party.  It worked out just fine.

The match went okay.  Nothing great.  A couple of mikes for the whole match. But that's too many by two.  Both of them were easily avoidable.  This is stage #6, one of the least complicated stages of the day.  I'm not sure what I'm doing with my left arm during the strong-hand half of the stage after the reload.   Whatever.

This is the classifier stage. I began with a squirrelly grip, so I didn't smoke it.  I'm just happy I didn't hit a no shoot.  I'm still hovering at 74.9% in Production, just a tenth of a percentage under the threshold of making A class.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Target Stands

Last night 4 of us spent a couple hours at Stork Fabricators making a little over 50 new IDPA target stands.  Brian Stork was very generous in allowing us to use his welding equipment.  What's amazing is that we made 50 stands or more for about $6 each in just a couple of hours.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Random Stuff

No match for me this weekend.  I might have shot in the Pro Am steel plates tournament this year, but I had a men & boys camp out this week with church.  A few things happened this week, however.

First, I got my first USPSA classification.  I've actually only been able to shoot 4 classifier stages in 4 different matches, so there's not much to average yet.  I'm sitting at 68% in Production division, which puts me in B class.  That's fine for right now.  I really need to shoot more USPSA matches this year.  The two classifier stages at my first two matches were pretty pitiful.   All I really need is one more 75+% score and I'll be in A class.

Second, I took a dive practicing at our club this past Thursday.  I was doing the Seeklander drill "Long Movement into Position" when I stumbled and fell moving from P2 to P3.  I was moving left to right fairly quickly and went into the rocks pretty hard.  Because I kept the gun up and down range (finger off the trigger) everything was fine except for my right knee and right elbow and arm.  Lots of blood and wounded pride, but hopefully no lead poisoning from the rocks.  Lots of lead on those pistol ranges and it hadn't rained in a while.

I really don't know if there's a lesson in this. I just think I lost my footing in the loose rocks.  Maybe I should slow down a little.  But maybe not.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

New S&W M&P Pro 9mm

I've been looking for one of these babies for months.  Last week I walked into Dunn's Sporting Goods in Pevely, MO, and found a new on the shelf.  This will be my back up gun for competition.  I plan to continue to shoot my M&P in Production division in USPSA and in SSP and ESP in IDPA.  But first this new gun needs some upgrades so that it can be exactly like the one I shoot now.  Here's what I will be doing to the gun this week:

  • Change out the stock guide rod with an ISMI steel captured one and put in an 11lb recoil spring.
  • Putting in an 11lb recoil spring requires clipping a few coils off the striker spring otherwise it will not go back into battery after a shot. 
  • Put in an Apex Tactical competition AEK trigger.  This will give me a sub-three pound trigger pull.
  • Put in an Apex Tactical RAM (Reset Assist Mechanism) so that the reset on the trigger is crisp and tactile.  
  • Take off the stock front and rear sights. Even though it comes with a green fiber optic front sight, it's too wide.  The FO must be .150 or so.  You can't be accurate on long shots with that wide of a green dot on the front of your gun.  I'm replacing it with a Dawson Precision .100 FO red front sight.  The stock rear sight is okay, but I've gotten used to a Dawson Precision FO adjustable rear sight.  I put green FO filaments in the rear and red in the front.  Before I tried this last year I was told that this makes the sight picture "too busy" and hinders fast target acquisition.  But I've not found that to be the case.  The two green dots in back gives me more control over vertical movement and placement of the sights. But that's probably just me.  It works for me, so I'm going to keep doing it.
  • Putting sand-textured tape on the grip.
I also have a SSS ESP magwell for this gun and plan to use it occasionally for IDPA.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Double Swingers

No, this post is not about sharing wives.  It's about shooting double swingers.  We had a stage this Saturday at our IDPA club match that had two swingers activated at virtually the same time.  Here's a short video of one shooter engaging the two poppers and swingers.

Before shooting a stage a shooter must take the time to go through the course of fire carefully in his mind. Some top shelf shooters have advised mentally running through the stage 30 times before coming to the line.  I'm not sure about that number. It depends on the stage. But for a stage like this it's not only necessary to run through the whole stage thinking about when you will reload and whatnot, it's also crucial that you watch the stage being shot before you come to the line so you can predetermine the way you will engage the poppers and swingers.  You have to decide which popper you will engage first.  And you have to watch the swingers start and swing to determine the order you will shoot them.  You don't want to lose time watching them swing back and forth before you engage them (like the shooter in the video).

When I came to the line on this stage I thought I had that worked out. But I had not watched carefully enough so I ended up losing about a second waiting for the second popper to come back in view. I could use the excuse that I was busy SO-ing the stage just before I stepped up to shoot.  But that's not a good excuse.

This month's match was very challenging. If you look at the scores, you will see a lot of guys with very high scores.  It was a 110-round match, but there were a lot of difficult stages with some long shots. On one stage you had three strings where you put a total of 24 rounds on 3 targets at 20, 25, and 30 yards.  There were a lot of misses on that stage.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

IDPA Postal Match

Today I got in the electonic mail my 2011 IDPA Postal Match certificate.  Woo Hoo!  I shot in two divisions at the match last September.  What happens is that every IDPA club around the nation—and internatial clubs, too—set up the exact same 4 courses of fire to shoot. Everybody then turns in their score and you get ranked.   I shot in two divisions: ESP and SSP.  I came in 4th out of 179 Sharpshooters in ESP.  Out of 129 Expert SSP shooters I came in 11th.  The overall scores are not listed on the website, but they are not difficult to calculate.  There were 2339 shooters in all divisions.  My score ranked 55th of 2339 shooters.  That's in the top 2% of all shooters.  I'll take that.  But I think I can do much better next year.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

First Saturday Steel

I shoot the steel match at ARPC on first Saturday of the month.  Steel is good practice.  Lot's of opportunity to practice basic skills.  But I seem to be stuck in a rut with my score in these matches.  I need to figure out what to do to kick my performance up a notch.  I've never really read any tips about shooting steel matches.  Maybe I need to do that.  There's gotta be something I'm missing.  I think I'll look around for help on shooting steel. If anyone knows anything specifically relating to steel matches, let me know.  I did fine this month, but a lot of the top shooters were gone—probably at Single Stack Nationals.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Little Adjustments

Little things can make a big difference.  Duh.  That's a truism.  But shooting this afternoon with other shooters at our local IDPA club's Trigger Time reminded me of some little adjustments that make for a much smoother shooting experience—not to mention a better score.  I see other shooters making little mistakes—one's that are easily corrrected—and I want to help. I don't want to presume to be some sort of "instructor" during practice with a bunch of other guys.  I'm quite self-conscious about not inserting myself where I'm not wanted or even where I'm not sure I'll be helpful.  But I remember others helping me when I first started coming to IDPA practice sessions.  If I offer advice to someone new, I'm not trying to be a know-it-all.  Seeing these little errors today made me think about some basics again.

So just a few things that caught my attention this afternoon.  First, when the buzzer goes off the only thing that should move are your arms and your gun.  Everything else should be set before the SO says, "Stand by."  At the signal you should be able to draw your pistol, wrap your weak hand around the grip, drive the gun toward the target, prime the trigger, align the sights, and pull the trigger.  Your head doesn't need to move.  Your legs should stay put.  You don't need to crouch after the draw.  All that extra movement just takes time and distracts you from the main thing—driving your gun toward the target and pulling the trigger.  Whatever your normal shooting stance, get into that position before the "Stand by" command and be ready simply to draw and shoot.  Watch the first 8 seconds or so of this video and notice how little I move when the buzzer goes off.  It's not the fastest draw-to-first-shot time, but what you can't see is that the four targets off to the left of the frame are about 20 yards away so I had to take a little more time to get my sight picture right.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

A Good Day in Columbia

It's nice to report on a well-shot match.  Today I travelled to the Green Valley club just outside of Columbia, MO, to shoot in their monthly USPSA match.  When I was pulling up to the club, after driving for about 2 hours from St. Louis, I got a call from my son that he had just been in a car accident.  Nobody was hurt, but his car was probably totaled.  I started to come back home, but learned that my daughter was at the scene helping him.  So I decided that driving back home would accomplish nothing. I would get home when everything was already over.  Turns out that there were some scary moments for my son after the accident. But that's another story.

I tried to put all that out of my mind while I was shooting.  There was really nothing I could do halfway accross the State to help him.

Turns out I did pretty well on every stage.  I didn't have my typical screw-up on the first stage.  I think that's because I was determined not to have that happen this time.  My times were good on each stage and my accuracy was above average. I only threw a few mikes for the whole match, and one of them was on a stage where we engaged three targets from 23 yards with 6 shots using our weak hand.  I don't believe I've every practiced weak-hand shooting from over 15 yards. Update: results are in and I finished 5th overall and 1st in Production division.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Good, the Bad, and the Ridiculous

It's been almost a week since I've posted anything.  Last weekend (April 13-14) I was busy with church meetings and not able to shoot our IDPA club match on Saturday.  And then I was pretty sick the entire week.  I did get out for a little practice on Friday.  But yesterday I shot in the USPSA match in Sparta, Illinois.

First, the ridiculous.  The classifier stage at the match yesterday was "Raw Deal" (CM 99-33).  Nothing tricky, just shooting fast and accurate from a stationary position at relatively close targets.  I'm pretty good at that.  I got all Alphas (60 pts) and shot it in 6.93 secs.  My hit factor (8.6580) landed me in GM territory for that particular classifier (96%)!  Look, mom, I'm a Grand Master!  That's ridiculous. This is only the third classifier stage I've shot in USPSA.  I need three more to be classified.  This one will obviously kick up my percentage.

Second, the bad.  Once again, the first stage of the day was a disaster.  This time because I was first up and didn't know it.  The squad was a bit disorganized.  I didn't do a very careful walk through before the start and I ended up blowing by a target and not engaging it at all.  Two mikes in production division on one stage is not good.  That screw up pretty much meant the match was gonna be a fun match, and it was.

Third, the good.  I had problems on another stage, too, but mostly I did okay overall, even with 5 mikes!  I think I'm getting the hang of doing productive walk-throughs in USPSA.  I really love the Sparta range.  They are able to create some very interesting stages because you can shoot 180 degrees side to side on all the bays.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Good F.A.S.T. Drill Today

Click to Enbiggen
This afternoon I spent a few hours at the range practicing some drills with a friend. After shooting for about an hour we both shot three F.A.S.T. drills.  On my third attempt I got what I think is my best time/score ever (4.40 secs w/out a cover garment).

Afterwards we shot another friend's new Jerry Miculek Mossberg 930 shotgun.  You can see the video of that here.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Decisions, Decisions

Some of the guys at my club are getting Jerry Miculek 930 shotguns to shoot in 3-gun matches.  I'm toying with the idea.  Hopefully, I'll be out Tuesday evening to see and shoot Steve's new one.  But I question, for myself anyway, the wisdom of spending $600 or so on a new shotgun that I will likely only use once a year, if that.  I am not planning on investing all that much time in 3-gun matches right now. I'd love to shoot a few of these matches at our club over the next few years.  It sounds like a lot of fun.  But I'll use my Mossberg 500 or even my Remington 1100 for now (but not my Benelli over and under!).

At this stage in my shooting I'm pretty committed to IDPA and USPSA competition.  I'm not planning on diluting my pistol practice, and quite honestly, doubt that I will have the time to devote to 3-gun matches.  I'd rather spend the money on ammo and more major IDPA and USPSA matches this year.  I want to perfect my game in these sports.  I still see a lot of room for improvement (obviously).  I'm gonna go whole hog and try to reach IDPA Master in CDP and ESP in the (near) future.  I also want to make some progress in USPSA Production division with my M&P 9mm.

So for now I think I'll pass on a new shotgun.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Steel Match Review

Click to enbiggen
Okay.  How many times do I have to learn this lesson at steel plates matches?  Take it slow and easy on the first stage!  Holy moly.  I owned the last 4 stages of this match.  I don't think I've ever shot that well.  I was in the zone – fast and accurate.  But the first stage was a disaster, at least compared to the rest of the match.  We began with Stage #4. 

The irony is: I slowed down on the next four stages and shot them much faster.  Slowed down just enough to be accurate.  

I really wish I had a video of that first stage so I could analyze it and find out exactly what I did wrong. But I'm pretty sure I know what the problem was because it happens every time I shoot a steel plates match - on the first stage I shoot.  

Turns out I did pretty well in the match over all.  But losing those 4 or 5 seconds on Stage #4 really irks me.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Random Stuff

Click to enbiggen
Dillon Precision's monthy catalog the Blue Press cracks me up. Every cover has a foxy chick posing with some cool weapon.  What a scream.  The catalog used to have a Christian fish symbol on the back and/or on the order page.  I can't find it anymore.  I think the cute chicks edged out the fish.

Dectective Britton's side arm was revealed in the most recent episode of Awake for those that were watching closely. His duty weapon is a Kimber Tactical .45.  Not your typical TV cop firearm.  I wonder if Kimber is a sponsor.  If not, how did they choose that pistol?

Tomorrow I plan on going to the steel plates match at ARPC.  It's always a lot of fun and just good practice, especially for making transitions.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

M&P Pro 9mm

I've been trying to locate and buy a new Smith & Wesson M&P Pro (9mm).  I've been looking for a few months, but can't find one anywhere.  I'd like to have one as a back up gun in case the one I have now tanks during a match.  The one I use now has a lot of rounds though it.  Of course, I could just get a M&P Pro .40 cal. I could then switch out the barrell for a 9mm.  The problem with that option is that I would not be able to shoot it in USPSA Production or IDPA SSP divisions.  I'm sure that I can't shoot it in IDPA SSP, but I'm not so sure about USPSA Production.  I'll have to find out.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Wheelgun Match

Yesterday we had a Wheel Gun Championship match at our club.  This was the first time I've shot a revolver in a match.  Truth be told, I've not practiced much with my revolver either.  Last fall I had a few hours of practice with my S&W 625 because I thought the wheel gun match would be held in the fall.  But it wasn't.  I set it aside for the winter, concentrating on my skills with my M&P in SSP.  Last week I dusted off the 625, found some .45 RN ammo I loaded last year, and hit the range with about 200 or so rounds.   I also did maybe 15 minutes of dry firing at home on Friday night just to get some more practice on reloading.

click to enbiggen
Anyway, it turns out that I didn't do too badly.  I think that's because many of IDPA or USPSA skills one learns in other divisions apply whatever gun you may be shooting.  The two big challenges I had were not big surprises—reloading and accuracy.  Reloading with the moon clips actually wasn't as difficult as I thought it might be.  There were a couple of times when I was on autopilot and reached back to my left side for a magazine as if I was shooting my M&P.  But most of the time I got the reloads right. And what was even more surprising, the moonclips dropped in the cylinder quickly and cleanly almost every time.  I may have had to shake the gun a bit to seat the clip maybe one time.  That was a pleasant surprise. I don't have my chambers chamfered so I've had problems in the past with some rounds dropping in quickly.  But not yesterday.

Accuracy is another story.  I had 49 points down in the match, with 3 mikes, and two hits on non-threats.  Why?  Well, first of all, I haven't practiced much with this gun, so what did I expect?  Second, the double action trigger is nicely tuned, but it's still a DA pull and I'm not used to that.  I could get used to it, I believe, if I really wanted to spend some serious time practicing with this gun.  I just don't know if I want to do that.  I don't even know if I will keep the gun.  Selling it and getting a new 2011 is tempting.  I surely could have increased my accuracy if I would have slowed down, but slowing down significantly would have hurt my score.

So all in all, the match was fun.  It was interesting and enjoyable to shoot a wheel gun in an IDPA match. But I think I'll stick with my autos for a while.

Monday, March 26, 2012

On Talking to Oneself While Shooting a Stage

I've read a number of the books by the top shots (Seeklander, Steve Anderson, Brian Enos, etc.) about competition shooting.  I've also tried to follow the blogs of guys like Ben Stoeger and others.  I've learned a ton from these guys.  But I don't think I've ever read anything about them talking to themselves while shooting.  I suspect that's because they don't do it and therefore it's probably not a good idea.

My suspicion is that the conventional wisdom is to keep quiet, suppress your feelings, and get on the with shooting the stage after you make a mistake.  I'm sure that's good advice.  But I often end up muttering to myself, expressing frustration, or even yelling when something doesn't go the way I envisioned it in my mental walk-through before the start signal.

And here's the deal: when I verbally express my annoyance or anger, I seem to be able to refocus and reengage the targets with better concentration.  I don't know if that's just me.  Or I may be just trying to justify my own idiosyncratic silliness.

For example, look at what happens in Stage #4 about 23 seconds into the stage when I have an incredibly squirrelly reload in the middle of the stage.  Did I lose my composure the rest of the stage?  Did I melt down and miss the rest of the targets?  Well, no.  I think you can see that I actually increased my effectiveness for the last half of the stage.  (– ignoring my uneconomical use of rounds. How do you get around that on stages with over 40 targets? It's almost impossible to remebmer which one's you've already engaged, especially the paper targets.)  It's like I said to myself, "This will not stop me from tearing up this stage.  Get back to it, Meyers.  Blast the hell out of those targets.  Don't let a squirrelly reload ruin your score."

I expressed myself verbally while shooting 4 of the 6 stages on Saturday.  Each time it seems to have helped me get my head back in the game after a slight setback with reloading or just missing some targets I counted on hitting (curse the Texas Star on Stage #5).

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Monster JUGGS Match

YouTube blocked the first video I uploaded because it had a copyrighted sound track. Arggh. So here's the whole match without any music. All that means is that you can now hear me better as I yell at myself and my gun.

Here's a quick match review.  First, looking at this video I see that I still need to loose about 10-15 lbs of weight.  Yikes, this is a video of the fat old man shooting.

Second, for some reason when I'm shooting USPSA with mutiple targets and the need to "run and gun"  I end up "crouching" too much.  I need to have a consistent stance, and one that is a bit more "upright."  I believe this is the reason why I had a couple of ridiculously bad reloads.  For example, in the middle of Stage #4 I couldn't find the mag well and yelled, "You've got to be kidding me."  I pretty sure it's because I'm not in my normal IDPA stance and so my hands and arms are not following the path that they normaly do.  I'll have to work on that.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Draw Time

A stunning example of how not
to grip a pistol. This is so bad it's hard
to look at.
I was able to get out for a few hours yesterday afternoon for my midweek practice session. I wanted to work on my draw. In my post about the steel plates match this past Saturday I mentioned that I was having some issues with a consistent draw and grip that day. Working on that today I noticed something helpful. When shooting without a cover garment I have typically placed my right arm and hand in pretty much the same position I would with cover. You know, arm naturally at my side and arm extended a few inches from my body. But today I tried something a little different. Instead of holding my arm out so that it did not touch the gun handle. I broght my arm in just enough so that the inside of my arm would barely touch the grip of my pistol. When the buzzer went off I would be able to find my grip much faster. Looking at the times, I believe I decreased my typical time for the first shot by about .20 – .30 secs or so. This may be a common technique. I really don't know. I'll have to look around and see. But it seems to work for me.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Breakdown to Vote

This girl is only 11, but she should be allowed to vote. In fact, we should make field stripping an AR-15 rifle a requirement for voter registration. That would solve a lot of problems.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Berry's 124gr HP
I've been using Precision Delta 124gr JHP bullets now for about 6 months in my S&W M&P Pro. But last month after ordering 5 thousand more I got a call from PD that their "machine" broke down and my order would have to be back ordered for a month or so. I've also used Hornady 125gr HAP bullets. They perform about the say as the PDs, with maybe a little more accuracy. But the HAPs are expensive, almost twice as much as the PDs. I use them sparingly, mostly at matches.

So I tried some of Berry's plated bullets. I got a couple thousand 124gr hollow points.  I've now run about 1500 through the pistol and have had no issues whatsoever.  In fact, they may be a little more accurate than the PDs or the HAPs.  I'm getting good results with 3.8gr of Titegroup with an OAL of 1.100–096.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Swollen Finger

I need to figure out what's wrong with my ring finger on my left hand.  It's been swollen and hurting for months.  I can't close my hand all the way.  And I can't get my ring off my finger either.  Is it broken?  If it's not, then shouldn't it have healed after 4 months or so. At least the swelling should have subsided.  I should probably visit the doctor, but I'm afraid he'll immobilize it in some way and I won't be able to shoot this Spring.  That's not an option.  It hasn't really hurt my shooting. I don't notice it much in matches. But I suspect that if it was normal, I'd have a better grip with my weak hand.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Personal Notes on Steel

This is a brief review of my performance at the ARPC Steel Plates Match on March 17.  First, what I need to work on.  In a word: consistency.  Mainly consistency from string to string and stage to stage.  I need to work on pacing myself.  Begin a bit slower on each stage.  Try to focus on consistent scores. Then maybe on the last string of the stage, let loose and push my speed.  Second, I need to check my equipment before I come to the line.  I said something about that in my last post. Third, for some reason yesterday, I was having trouble coming out of my draw with a good grip.  I'm not sure why that was a problem.  But I surely need to work on it in dry fire practice.  If I had problems in a particular string, it almost always was associated with a bad draw and grip from the start.

Fourth, trust my instincts in close range shooting.  I'm pretty fast in close.  And I normally don't need to use my sights all that much.  Just shoot.  In the two close range stages I did best when I just let it rip and didn't get too concerned about sighting in.  That's not to say that I wasn't aiming; it's just not the same kind of aiming as when you are engaging a 10-inch plate from 15 to 20 yards away.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Two Lessons

Two lessons learned or reinforced from the Steel Plates Match today at ARPC (March 17, 2012).  First, if you don't clean your gun before the match, that's okay.  But make sure you at least check the front fiber optic sight to insure that it's not black from your previous outing.  I got up to the line on my first stage and couldn't hardly see my normally nice-and-bright red FO front sight.  Not good.  I had to get off the line and clean it quickly.  Problem was: I cleaned it "dry" with a towel and knocked it loose.  I had no problems with it until a few stages later when the FO filament fell out in the middle of shooting a stage.  Turns out that that stage was a pretty close one and not having my FO front sight didn't really affect my last two strings.

Second lesson: Don't leave your repair kit with all of your extra parts and stuff at home. Bring it to the range, especially on a match day.  Luckily, Will (who is shooting his S&W 625 .45 cal revolver in the embedded video) had some extra FO inserts in his bag.  Once I got a new one on the pistol everything was fine.

Friday, March 16, 2012


I just watched the pilot episode of Awake on my new iPad while riding the excercise bike.  I was surprised to see the main character—a detective—carrying a full sized 1911.  That's unusual.  Seems like every LE officer on TV carries a Glock.  The first thing I noticed was the Wilson Combat magazines in his mag pouch.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Stage Review

I haven't had a chance to see myself shoot a stage in a match for a while. I've not been capturing videos with my hatcam or worrying about asking someone else to hold a camera while I shot. I've just been shooting and not trying to worry about much else. So when I found out that someone else caught me shooting stage #3 at the match this past Saturday I thought I would analyze my performance.

The first thing to say is that this was the first stage of the match for me.  The first stage is something of a warm-up stage for me.  I don't want to push myself but be deliberate and get my hits.

It looks like I started off pretty well.  I got my pistol and secured the extra magazine in my mag pouch without any issues.  I might have gotten to the first shooting position a little faster, but when I got there I had my right foot planted and so had a good solid position to engage the targets from cover.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Practice Vids

I had a little fun at the range late yesterday afternoon capturing a few videos. I captured a bunch just to analyze my draw and also my reloads. But this one is just the old Mozambique drill.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

This is a Sport, Folks

Someone who is relatively new to IDPA will often be frustrated with his initial classification.  He may have been shooting pistols for many years.  He may even be a law enforcement officer.  He is an otherwise seasoned shooter, so when he classifies as a Marksman or even a Novice he's not a happy camper.  I understand the disappointment.  I should say: I remember the disappointment.

But what the new IDPA shooter needs to appreciate is that the classifier is meant to give you a "handicap," if you will, so you can compete against shooters at relatively the same level as you are.  The classifier is designed to provide the shooter with an accurate indication of where he ranks in this sport.   IDPA is a sport.  Yes, of course, you get some training for concealed carrry.  Anytime you shoot, especially when you are stretched in the way that IDPA and USPA challenge your mental and physical skills, you are training to use your pistol in self defense situations.  That's great.  But the fact is: IDPA is a SPORT.  It's right there at the very beginning of the Official Rule Book:
IDPA is a shooting sport that uses practical equipment including full charge service ammunition to solve simulated "real world" self-defense scenarios.

Monday, March 12, 2012

A Professional Idiot

This guy has the gall to say at the end that he's "a professional"! On the one hand, I'm reluctant to link to this and give this guy more hits.  On the other, there are lessons to be learned from watching a dumbass (mis)handle his gun.  Like: never try to catch a gun that you drop.  That this guy still has his guts intact is a miracle.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Pulling Shots Before Reloads

Click to enbiggen
In an otherwise nicely shot IPDA club match yesterday I had 4 mikes.  I was very pleased with everything else.  In analyzing what went wrong I figured out that 3 of the misses were right before a reload.  I have 11 rounds loaded in my magazine (= SSP division capacity).  Analyzing each stage, it's pretty clear what happened.  I shoot my 10th shot and it's on target (a zero or one), then the last shot locks the slide back but misses the target left and high.  I'm not following through on the shot before my thumb goes for the magazine release and the muzzle of the gun lifts and fades left as I position it for the reload.  Working on a fast reload, I'm forgetting to concentrate on that shot right beforehand.  Definitely something to work on in the weeks to come.

Friday, March 9, 2012

1911's and 2011's

Oh. My. Goodness.  I just got back from some practice at the range with my friend Tim.  About 300+ rounds.  Of course, I shot my M&P 9mm.  But I also broke out my STI Trojan 9mm (1911).  We shot some Bill drills and I was able to compare the guns.  I've been shooting my M&P for about a year.  It's become second nature to me.  This was the first time in a long time that I shot any of my 1911s.  I forgot how silky smooth they are.  Shooting a Bill Drill (lots of shots on target as quickly as you can pull the trigger) reminded me how superior the 1911 is to the M&P—for trigger pull (no pre-travel) and for quickly reacquiring your sight picture after each shoot.  Wow.  I would go with my STI Trojan 9mm tomorrow in our club match if I hadn't experienced some problems this afternoon with the slide not locking back after the magazine went empty.  I think I need to increase my recoil spring from 11# to 12#.  I'll try that next week and see.  But if I get that fixed, I may just transition to ESP and use my Trojan for a while.

I just went back and looked at the scores from the IPDA Postal Match. I shot my M&P in SSP and my Trojan in ESP.  I was faster with the Trojan.

And Tim shot his new STI Eagle 9mm (2011) this afternoon.  He let me shoot it, too.  Very, very nice.  I want one!

Thursday, March 8, 2012


I have a little extra disposable income from lecture honorariums.  But I'm conflicted about how to spend it.  I've already ruled out buying a new gen3 iPad.  My gen1 works just fine and I don't really need the eye candy offered by the newest iPad.  So that leaves me with some gun options.

Option #1.  Buy a new Smith & Wesson M&P Pro 9mm.  This would be a back-up to the one I already have.  I've got a lot of rounds through my M&P and I'm afraid it's going to need some work soon.  I can imagine it breaking down at a major match and me not having a back up.  If I pull the trigger on this option, then I will be committing myself to shooting my M&P 9mm regularly, both in IDPA and USPSA.  The advantages to this are: 1) I've already got the equipment for this pistol; 2) it's a 9mm so I don't have to buy new dyes for my reloader; 3) 9mm rounds are less expensive; 4) I've spent a lot of time practicing and competing with this gun already; 5) the only extras I would have to buy are: a Dawson Precision FO front sight, a DP FO rear sight, and a Apex Tactical AEC trigger kit (all of these to match precisely what my current M&P); and 6) I can easily add a magwell and special basepads to shoot this gun in ESP division in IDPA.  This is a really attractive option to me.  I can just work on getting really, really good with this gun.  I'd be shooting Production in USPSA and in IDPA I could shoot SSP and ESP.  I like the idea of sticking with one pistol for a few years and perfecting my game with it.