Sunday, December 22, 2013

December

This is an obligatory post for December.  Hey, I actually went out the range this past week.  So here's the deal.

I shot 124gr 9mm bullets all this year, last year too.  But I got a couple of boxes of 147gr bullets and loaded them up recently (same PF) to try them during the lull in shooting here in December.  So I went out to the range on Thursday (55 degree weather) with 300 rounds and shot Bill and Blake drills mostly. 
 
Shooting the Bill drill with 124gr bullets I normally hover around 2 secs at 7 yards with .17 splits and a draw that is just above 1 second.  
 
Shooting 147gr bullets today I could not get below 2.25.  My draw was the same but my splits were just barely sub .20, if that.  I shot about 6 or more strings like this.  And it was worse at 3 yards.
 
It seems to me like I was "waiting" for my gun to cycle with the 147gr bullets.
 
Two years ago I switched from 124 to 147gr because I liked the snappier feel of the 124s.  I wanted to test that impression after shooting with 124s for a couple of years.  I confirmed it.  It may just be that my gun (M&P Pro) doesn't cycle as fast with the heavier bullets.  
 
Unfortunately, it's something of a trade off.  The 147gr bullets are slightly more accurate at greater distances (25-50 yds) in my gun.  But not enough to make me switch back.

And that's my amazing, inspiring post for December.  Stupid cold weather!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Monday Morning Match Review – ARPC IDPA, Saturday, November 9, 2013

We had about 60 shooters at our ARPC IDPA monthly club match. The weather was stellar—a wonderful, crisp Fall day—perfect for shooting.

I don't have too much to say. I shot well. No stupid mistakes. Just consistent shooting for the most part. I determined at the beginning to shoot at my "natural" speed and not push myself to shoot too fast. It worked pretty well. The raw time showed I was a lot faster than it seemed to me at the match. The only mike I got truly might have been a double, but there was no reason to press it.

The only problems I had were on stage #3. There you had to pull open a mail box at the start signal and the falling mailbox door activated a swinger. I didn't pull hard enough and lost about a second. Then when I moved to the port that needed a push to open, I used the muzzle of my gun. But that threw it slightly out of battery, and so I lost a couple of seconds on that stupid move. My recoil spring is light enough that a little tap on the front will knock it out of battery easily. Note to self: next time use my support hand to open the port.

I have no images or videos of this match. If someone posts something on YouTube, I'll link to it here. But I didn't worry about videos, just shooting.

The results can be downloaded here.

Ken's (partial) analysis of the results are here:

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Run, Run, Run

I just wanted to post this video from the first stage at the USPSA match in Brittany a few weeks ago.  This was a fun stage.  I did pretty well except for the trigger freeze on the last array.  Not sure what happened there.



I had a pretty decent match going but for the last stage.  I got overconfident and didn't really review my stage plan carefully before I got to the line.  Bad mistake.  I completely blew by two targets and didn't even engage them.  Dumb, dumb, dumb.  I was mike free before that last stage. But that mistake killed me.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Monday Morning Match Review – 2013 USPSA Production Nationals

There are many reasons I'd just rather not even think about this match again.  I had pretty high hopes for myself—like an A Class win.  But those hopes were not realized.  I was very disappointed with my performance, mostly because I made mistakes that I thought I had corrected many months ago.  Like zits on a teenager, they resurfaced at just the wrong time.  Here are my stream-of-consciousness thoughts about the match.

• The USSA range was super cool.  Loved the facilities.  Bought some cool hoodies and shirts.  Even though it rained the second day, there was grass on the field courses.  Wherever the grass wore away between the fault lines, they put down some meaty sawdust that helped with the footing.  You can see drone-flyover video of the USAA facilities here.

• My squad (#6) shot six stages in the morning on Thursday, six stages in the afternoon on Friday, and six stages in the morning on Saturday.  That turned out to be the worst possible schedule.  Thursday was great weather—sunny and 60 degrees.  No problem. I shot the first six stages okay with no major problems.  Friday afternoon was raining and the temperature dropped about 20 degrees.  Not good.  When we started on Saturday at 7:45 AM the temperature was 32 degrees with frost on the ground.  By the time we finished it was in the mid-40s. The weather just got me PO-ed on Friday.  It didn't help my mental game.

• I placed 123rd out of 295 production shooters and 29th of 53 in A class.  So right in the middle of A class.  Big whoop.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Monday Match Review & Kimber Ultra II Tactical

Just a few reflections on the ARPC IDPA club match this past Saturday.  The match was fairly straightforward.  6 stages.  About 95 rounds.  No shots past 15 yards.  One swinger.  One moving set of targets (from left to right).  Shooting around a truck.  Sitting at a table.  Through a small port.  Nothing terribly difficult.

Three of us decided to shoot "carry guns" this match, instead of our normal "race" guns.  So I shot with my favorite carry gun—my .45 caliber Kimber Ultra II Tactical.  Normally I shoot my M&P in SSP division, but this match I was shooting CDP.

Considering that I haven't shot this little 3-inch gun seriously in over a year, I didn't do bad at all.  I was 3rd overall and division champion in CDP.  But the cool thing is this: every time I shoot this little pistol I like it even more.  Even though its only got a 3-inch barrel, it is incredibly accurate.  I believe I'm more accurate with this tiny Kimber than I am with my full-sized, 5-inch STI Sentry.  My accuracy was really quite good at this match except for one stage where I got pissed off and dumped one round into hard cover and got a mike.

I really hate it when guys claim that their own guns are the best.  It gets old on the gun forums.  I've shot a number of pistols over the years.  I've owned quite a few that I've since sold because I just never really liked them.  But this little officer-sized 1911 from Kimber is one of my favorite guns.  I carry it in the Fall and Winter, because it's just a little heavier than my Kahr PM9 and not the best for summer clothes.  I've shot this gun in bug matches and in a night match a few years ago.  In every situation it performs flawlessly.  No malfunctions.  Everything just works nicely.  Even the grip safety engages more reliably than my STI.

Here's a video of one stage:


I got a procedural on this stage because I tried to do a reload with retention before getting to the last shooting position, but I dropped my magazine, picked it up, and didn't get it in my pocket before I shot the last array.  IDPA rules can be maddening.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Monday Morning Match Review – Illinois Sectional USPSA Championship

I shot the 10 stages of the Illinois Sectional all day Saturday, August 31st.  The heat was brutal.  It was near 100 degrees almost all day.  I drank three 32 oz bottles of Gatorade and at least that much water on top of it.  It was crazy hot.  I'm gonna blame the problems I had in the match on the heat.  Yep, it was the heat.



First the good stuff.  I had absolutely no ammo or gun problems.  Very cool.

I was pleased with all of my stage plans.  I shot with 1 GM (Alex Gutt) and 2 M class production shooters, and we all used pretty much the same plan.  Only once did I alter my plan after seeing how Alex Gutt shot the stage.

I was also fairly pleased (but not satisfied, of course) with my times.  I went into the match planning not to push myself but concentrate on shooting at a comfortable pace.  It turns out that I put up some decent times.  Having relatively fast times made up for some of my accuracy issues, especially the mikes.

I cleaned the plate rack stage.  Yay!  I was worried because my practice on plate racks the week before was pitiful.  But the rack was only 9 yards away.

I did well on all the hoser stages.

My rounds chronographed at 127PF.  Close.  I'm always cutting it close.

What to work on?  Swingers.  Dang, friggin swingers.  Three of my mikes were connected with swingers.  Two misses on the swingers themselves and one on a target engaged in between the activator and the swinger.  I believe I just need to work on aiming on these swingers and not just throwing 2 rounds at them fast and hope they hit in the A or C zone.  I must say, too, that my first two mikes were on the first two stages I shot.  And on both of them I had to do a reshoot because of prop failures.  Reshoots are seldom good.  And they weren't for me on these two stages.  The other mike was just stupid.  I went to slide lock (the only time in the match) because I missed a steel plate. I cursed, reloaded, and slung two shots at the last 15-yard target too quickly and pulled one.  I was pissed.  I was more pissed after they scored the miss.  Stupid.

Also, my reloads look slow on the video.  I didn't flub any reloads.  But they don't seem to be snappy enough.

The bottom line for me is that even though I was frustrated with some aspects of my shooting, I shot better than I have at any major USPSA match.  This was only my 3rd major USPSA match.  If I look at those three matches I can see real progress, and I'm happy with that.  I placed 7th in Production (out of 38 shooters), first in A class, and I also beat (just barely) the two M class production shooters in my squad.  I'll take what I can get.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

A Good Match for Me - August 2013 ARPC IDPA

I haven't been posting much of anything because all I've been doing lately is practicing regularly--dry fire every day or so and live fire twice a week.  I haven't shot a match since the June Area 5 championship.  I've been out of town or otherwise unable to attend any.

Yesterday I shot the ARPC IDPA monthly club match.  I was the match director for the day, so I got to pick the stages and oversee the match as a whole.  Sometimes that makes for an unproductive shooting experience because of the distraction, but not yesterday.  I spent 6:30-8:30 setting up stages and running around making sure things were on schedule.  I was soaking wet from sweat by the time the match actually started.  But it didn't seem to hurt my performance.  I shot well.

First, what I did right.  Well, I deliberately slowed down enough to get about 96% of the points.  I was 20 points down for the whole match.  I didn't have a single -3 (D) on a target.  I did have one mike on a fast drop-turner.  But my excuse is going to be that it was the second target I engaged on my first stage of the match.  After that, it was smooth sailing.  I slowed down enough to get my hits and still came out with a fast raw time.

We had a standards stage with 30-yard prone shots and I aced it.  I believe that the bullets I am now using (Berry's 124gr RN) are much more accurate than the ones I used last year (Berry's 124 HP).  Anyway, this confirms to me that if I am having accuracy problems, it's not the gun but me.

The only screw up I had was on Stage #5 (the one I designed!).  It was a pick-up start with an empty gun and mags on the table.  At the signal I stowed a magazine, loaded a magazine in my gun, and forgot to chamber a round.  Put my sights on target.  Pulled the trigger.  Click.  Duh.  That cost me a couple of seconds on the stage.  That was the only stage I didn't ace.

Here are all six stages.  The full results can be found here.  And this is Ken R's USPSA-style analysis.

Monday, June 17, 2013

USPSA Area 5 Match Review

Just a quick Monday morning match review.  This was only my second major USPSA match, and my first level III match.  Keeping that in mind helps me ratchet down my frustration level.  Yes, I want to do really well at these matches.  But I'm still getting comfortable with how these matches work and what is required of the shooter.

For example, our squad shot on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning.  Six of us who drove up to PASA Park from St. Louis arrived about 10:30 Saturday morning to check out the stages we would shoot in the afternoon.  We were able to take our time walking through 7 stages and sketching out stage plans.  That worked pretty well for me.  There was one complicated stage on Saturday that I screwed up, but it wasn't because I didn't have a workable stage plan.

But I didn't take the time Saturday evening after we shot the first half of the match to walk through the second half of the stages.  That was a huge mistake.  I did fairly well on half of the Sunday stages.  The ones I screwed up on were the long field courses.  The five minutes they give you to walk the stage after the stage briefing is not nearly enough time to formulate an efficient workable plan.  On three of these stages I changed my stage plan 3 or 4 times before I came to the line and shot.  On one of them I changed it right before the buzzer went off.  Not good.  Stupid, actually.  If you are not confident about the stage plan, you cannot concentrate on shooting accurately and moving efficiently.  That's a recipe for a meltdown.  Lesson learned: at every major match take the time to walk the stages sometime before the stage briefing.

I did well enough on half of the stages in this match to know that I could have been very competitive had I been consistent.  So I know I can do it.  It's just a matter of will and practice.

The only other thing I'm going say about this match is this: one word—ACCURACY.  I need to work on it big time.

So here are the only two videos of me recorded. The first is Stage #13. I melted down on this one.  This is one of the Sunday afternoon stages that I changed my plan way too many times before I shot.  I had no confidence when I went up to the line and it affected my shooting.  I hate those hearts. And the pink walls. Hate.



The other video is of Stage # 7.  I shot that one pretty well (5th in Production).



Well, I say I shot that one pretty well, but. . .  I was too flat footed, didn't keep my gun up high enough when I was moving, and my reloads were slow as molasses.  I coulda done gooder.

Just for the record here are the results.  And just so I can stay positive about the match here are the stages I did fairly well on:

Stage #2, Stage #4, Stage #5, Stage #7, and Stage #14.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Monday Match Review - IL State IDPA Championship (June 1-2, 2013)

I'm really getting tired of "learning things" at these matches.  Why can't I just shoot well and be done with it?  And the problem is that I "learn things" that I already know.  But more often than not one has to truly learn something the hard way.

Like this: never go to the line to shoot if you have any questions about the stage or the stage props.  Never let anyone rush you into shooting the stage.  I knew that.  But I went to the line as the first shooter on Stage #6 on Saturday assuming things about the stage that turned out to be wrong.  Opening the door at the beginning of the stage activated 3 targets—one swinger on the right, one swinger on the left, and a left-to-right moving target a little further down range.  When the SO demonstrated it all I was not in a position to see the timing of the activated targets.  I should of asked for another demonstration.  I didn't. I went to the line unprepared.  At the start signal I pulled open the door, stepped inside the door frame with my gun drawn and pointed at where the first swinger should appear.  Nothing happened.  I lowered my gun and turned to the SO with the words "prop failure" on the tip of my tongue. Then I heard the swinger activate, almost 5 seconds after I pulled the door open.  I was screwed.

If I would have known that the first swinger was delayed, I could have engaged one or two targets before it even appeared.  As it turned out, I missed both swingers. There was just no time to turn and engage them after I had lowered my pistol.

But I am a lucky man.  That stage was thrown out of the match as an illegal stage for other reasons.  But I have a lesson burned into me now.  I'm not likely to ever make that mistake again.

As for the rest of the match, well, I did okay, but I'm at the place in my shooting where I have a difficult time being happy with just shooting okay.  If I don't excel and burn up a stage, I'm disappointed.  I made at least 3 pretty dumb mistakes in the match that cost me Division Champion.  I was 2nd in SSP Division, 1st in Master Class, and 4th overall (128 shooters).  But I know that I could have done much better, at least 15 points better.

One excuse is the weather and the wait.  I arrived at the range at 7 AM, but we sat around until after 10 AM before we were able to shoot.  It was raining cats and dogs.  By 10 AM I was ready to crawl back in bed after sitting for 3 hours.  I know that had some affect on my shooting.  Even so, we shot the first 3 stages in the rain.  My head wasn't clear.  But that's no excuse. I need to be ready to shoot no matter what the weather or the circumstances.  I can't always have sunny skies and 70 degrees.

No pictures or videos of me this time.  For the records, here is the matchbook with the 12 stages.  The results are here.  And here is Ken's analysis.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Chrono & 50-yard shots

Went to the range for less than 30 minutes this morning.  I needed to chrono some rounds before I made  hundreds and hundreds of rounds with this formula for upcoming matches.  I only took about 35 rounds or so.  After I finished chrono-ing, I loaded two magazines with 11 each, set up a metric USPSA target, and walked off 50 yards.  I shot the first magazine at a rate of about 1 shot per second, maybe a little faster.  All 11 shots on target (5 As, 5 Cs, and 1 D).   They were all just a bit high.  Tried again.  11 shots at about the same speed.  All on target again (4 As, 6 Cs, and 1 D).  The holes were more centered this time. I'm happy with this.  If I can hit As and Cs from 50 yards with my not-super-accurate M&P Pro, that's cool.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Sparta Match Review (May 18, 2013)

Time for another brief match review.  I shot a 7-stage club match on Saturday in Sparta, IL.  There were 5 classifier stages and 2 larger field stages.  I designed one of the field stages.  The other one was a modification of a stage at the up-coming Ohio State Sectional.

I decided not to shoot Production for this match, but rather to shoot my normal production gear but in the Limited 10 division (minor PF).  There was really only one reason for that.  I didn't want to get bumped to M class shooting the 5 classifier stages.  Right now I'm on the cusp at about 83.9% in A class.  All I need is a high score on a classifier to push me over into M.  So what?  Well, I'm not ready to shoot at the level.  Cleaning up classifiers is one thing; shooting well on complicated field courses is something else.  I'm pretty good at short, quick classifier stages.  But I'm not even shooting up to my A class percentage in most matches.  When I start winning or coming close to winning against A & M class Production shooters, then I'll be ready.  I'm not trying to be a sandbagger.  I'm just being realistic.

I've never shot a Limited 10 classifier.  So how did I do?  I crashed and burned on the first classifier stage, but the others I shot fairly well.  Since these are my first classifiers in Limited 10 my initial classification will be A class (78%).  Turns out that if I would have shot this in Production, I would indeed have pushed my classification to M.  I got 93.68% on 3-V (CM 03-04).

Other than that, just a few observations for the record:
- No gun problems at all (yea!).
- Standing reloads (on classifier stages) were good
- Hit the steel nicely this match (except for one that didn't fall).
- I had a couple of hiccups reloading on the move.  I need to work on that.
- Accuracy was better this match (except for my first classifier stage where I was pushing                  my speed way too much).
- I watch myself on the videos and again I think: I'm too slow. I need to work on darting from one position to another.  Move faster, you old man!
Here are the official results.  And here are the combined results.

Here's a video of me shooting Stage #6 (my design)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Top 20 List

Hey, I'm #19 on the USPSA Top 20 by Division list (Production Division, A class).  If only my match performance would come close to my paper percentage!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

New Magazine Holders


I've got some new magazine holders for my USPSA production set up.  They are awesome!  I sold my Safariland 773s and got these DAA Race Master Master Magazine pouches.  They are pricey, but worth it.

What's cool about these is how easily they draw.  Most mag pouches are designed to hold the magazines from the sides.  This one holds it in the rear with a long flat insert that is spring mounted.  The magazines slide out like butter when you grab it.  But it doesn't fall out when you run, jump, or do summersaults and cartwheels. Seriously.

I've been dry fire practicing with these for about a week and I love them.  We'll see how they work in the next match I shoot, which may just be AREA 5 in June.

I liked them so much I've ordered a pair of the plastic DAA Racer holders for my IDPA set up.  They use the same system.  I did have to use the modified spacer so that my M&P mags would fit.  HT to Ken for introducing me to these babies.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Monday Morning Major Match Review – 2013 MO State IDPA

The long-anticipated 2013 MO State IDPA Championship match was this past weekend (May 10-11).  We ran about 180 shooters through 10 challenging and fun stages. Some videos and pictures of the match are just now surfacing on the IDPA at ARPC Facebook page. I didn't take any hat cam videos this year.  And I didn't even think about having anyone take videos of me shooting.

It's always a challenge to shoot well at this match.  As an assistant match director I'm working my tail off to get things ready to go.  Keeping my head in the game is not easy. I wanted as little distractions as possible so I didn't video anything.  Another challenge is that the match directors and CSOs shoot through the stages on Friday morning very quickly in 4-man squads.  There's not a lot of time to size up stages and go over your plan before you shoot.  Before you know it, you are on the line and ready to go.

So here's what went well for me.  First, the first stage of a major match has been a challenge for me in the past.  I've often made costly mistakes shooting the first stage.  Recently, however, I've solved this problem by being much more careful and deliberate starting out.  I don't care about winning that opening stage.  I just want to record a good score and be warmed up and mentally ready for the match as a whole.  So had a decent run on Stage #9 (the first stage our squad shot) and then was ready to kick some butt.  I smoked the very next stage (#10).

Second, I was pretty consistent the entire match.  I didn't win any individual stages, but I placed in the top 5 in many and in the top 10 in most.  That was enough to win the match for me.

Third, I had no major mental mistakes.  The only procedural I got was on the stage I designed!  Sigh.  But I was rushed on that stage.  I should have asked for a little more time.  I was called to the line quickly and didn't get a chance to run through the stage in my head.  I engaged some targets through a port in the wrong order.  Dumb.  But I was fast enough on that stage, so it didn't hurt me too bad.

Fourth, I had no gun or ammo malfunctions during the entire match!  Yippie!  I believe I've finally got everything running smoothly.

Fifth, I won SSP Division Champion (and was 3rd overall).  Nuff said.

Now for some self criticism.

First, I had too many points down (70).  I had no accuracy meltdown on any particular stage.  I had 2 mikes in the match, and I only got a few 3-down hits.  But I had way too many 1-down hits on close targets that should have been zeros.

Second, even though I had the third fastest raw time, I still think I can improve on my speed, especially my movement from position to position.

Enough for now. Here is the link to the results.  And here is a really cool spreadsheet analysis by Ken Rihanek.  Lot's of photos here.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Match Review – Sparta USPSA, April 20, 2013

I haven't done much live-fire shooting since the last Sparta match in March.  Here's a quick review of yesterday at Sparta.  Besides a few dumb mistakes, this was a good match.  For some reason I seem to have developed an allergy to steel poppers.  I missed far too many of them on the first shot in this match.  Stage #1 was the worst.  My time was awful on that stage, mostly because I missed so much steel.

My accuracy was just okay.  But besides blowing by a target on one stage, I only had one mike. But I'm not surprised at that one.  It was on the classifier (CM 09-03).  I got a hit on a no shoot and scored a miss.  I was pushing myself on that one.  I was either going to ace it or tank big time.  I tanked.  It won't count against me.

Here are a few vids from the match.  The first one is Stage #3.



I watch myself shoot and think: wow, I'm too slow.  I need to move faster between positions.  Also, I think my reloads were a bit sluggish.  I need to be snappier.  They got my score wrong on this stage.  It's like picking up a monopoly card that says, "A bank error in your favor."  I blew by a target that was hidden behind the blue & black barrel stack.  I should have had 30 penalty points added (2 mikes and a FTE).  Besides that, it was a good run.  Sigh.

This is Stage #4.



I did gooder on this stage.  But I still wonder if my stage plan was the best.  And looking at my engagement of the steel plate rack makes my cringe.  Surely I can shoot them faster than that.

The overal results for Production division are here.  The unofficial combined results for all divisions here.

Friday, March 22, 2013

March 16 Sparta USPSA Match Review

Just a few comments on the first USPSA match of the season at Sparta, IL.  I haven't shot a USPSA match in 4 months.  The matches at ARPC are on Sundays, which are obviously out for me.

I thought I did pretty well, but came away with some things to work on.

- work on smooth, fast reloads when moving from a position
- work on shooting steel from awkward positions
- keep working on stage analysis and efficient stage plans

The last stage we shot (#1) was a somewhat complicated arrangement that required a good, memorized plan.  I thought I did okay, but scored a mike on a paper target in the middle of the stage.  Turns out that I didn't really miss it.  A couple of friends watching saw that I just didn't engage it a second time.  There were a series of steel, paper, steel, paper, etc. targets.  I just forgot to put two on one of the paper targets.  That's actually good news.  It was a mental mistaken, not an accuracy problem.

Overall, my speed was good and my accuracy was okay.  Always work on accuracy!

For the records, here's the data:

Production Overall
Stage Details

And my friend Ken's helpful analysis.

Monday, March 11, 2013

March 10 - IDPA Match Review

Spring is here!  Let the shooting season begin.  The last time I had any live fire was at the February 9th IDPA match at ARPC.  I did a lot of dry firing over the past 4 weeks.

So we had our first IDPA match of the Spring season on Saturday.  Even though it was raining and cold we had 85 shooters turn out.   With six stages this made for large squads and a longer-than-usual match (from 8:30 AM – 1:30 PM).

I was pleased but not satisfied with my performance on every stage but one.  Stage #2 was a complete disaster.  It was raining. I was distracted.  I shot the stage well up until the reload.  Then I dropped my magazine USPSA style (all my dry-fire practice is USPSA style).  Then I tried to retrieve it and reinsert it back into the pistol (what in the world was I thinking?).  When the mag hit the ground it jostled the remaining rounds and so when I tried to seat the mag back into the gun it jammed.  The whole fiasco cost me about 10 seconds at least.  Then I was so pissed that I drilled a non-threat on my last target.  Those 15 match points lost the match for me.  If I would have simply posted half-way decent score on this stage, I would have won.

A couple of lessons: 1) I designed stage #2 so I thought I didn't need to think through it carefully before shooting. Wrong.  2) Because my dry-fire practice is USPSA oriented, I need to constantly remind myself at IDPA matches that I am at an IDPA match.  Duh.  3) Don't get pissed off and make things even worse after you make a mental mistake.

There's some really good competition at the top these days at our Arnold IDPA matches.  That's great to see.  Keeps us all on our toes.  Here are the match results.

We also had some interesting stages this month. Well, we always do, but this month this one was the coolest:



Watching that match reminds me that I had problems again with reloads.  I'm still working on that.  I think I've isolated it now to the HP rounds I'm using.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

New Triggers & Spring

New Trigger w/arrow on Saftey
For my records, I replaced both triggers in my two M&Ps this week.  Both triggers needed to be replaced because I took too much off off the trigger safety after installing the APEX competition kit.  The different trigger spring makes the safety snag on the frame, so in order to fix this you need to take a LITTLE off the tip of the trigger safety.  I took too much off of my other two and inadvertently disabled that safety.  Fixed it with a new trigger and just a touch off the point. Safety works and the trigger is smooth without any snags.

I also cleaned the trigger housing in my main gun.  It needed it.

I also put a new trigger spring in my main gun.  The old one was spreading a bit.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Pious Nonsense

I hesitate to write this post.  But I just can't seem to restrain myself.  As most of you know, I am a Presbyterian minister.  I'm not a pastor in the mainline liberal or progressive Presbyterian church.  That organization is scarcely identifiable as a Christian church any more.  I am a member of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). We broke off from the United Presbyterian church back in 1973 because of rampant unorthodoxy and modernist progressive social dogmatism in their seminaries.  But I digress.

All of that to say that I identify with a tradition of straight-taking, tough-minded Calvinists that do not view the world through rose-colored, liberal glasses.  We are the guys that gifted the fledgling USA with republican government, with its separation of powers and a graded system of courts.  King George III of England referred to the American Revolution as a “Presbyterian War.”  In 1776, the Prime Minister of England Horace Walpole, upon hearing the news of colonial rebellion, said, “Cousin America has run off with a Presbyterian parson!”  He was referring to the intellectual powerhouse behind the framers of the Constitution—John Witherspoon, a Presbyterian minister and college professor.  The Presbyterian system  is a brutally honest approach to governing that arises from a keen sense of the propensity of governments—actually government officials—to go bad quickly.

Presbyterians are also "whole-Bible" Christians. We take the law of God seriously.  The God of the "Old Testament" is not some different, primitive, cruel deity, but the pre-incarnate Son of God.  Jesus was Yahweh in the flesh.  Regrettably, many American evangelicals consider themselves "New Testament" Christians.  And by that they often mean that they come close to being pacifists, believe that "love" is something new since Jesus, think that being heavenly means being above the things of this world like business, law, justice, and government. That's just too messy, they say—Old Testament stuff. We're too heavenly minded for all that. We'll leave the world to others.  Getting saved and going to heaven is all that really matters.  Stuff like that.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Match Review – ARPC IDPA, Feb. 9

I'm something of an instinctual shooter. I'm not sure what I mean by that. But I've been shooting for 30 years and have a "feel" for it. And I've been shooting enough in competition to know that it's really not helpful at all to be thinking too much when you shoot. When I think about everything too much, I don't do very well. I'm referring to shooting technique, not so much to stage analysis and planning. The past two weeks I've been reading a lot of shooting stuff in my spare time (look at my last post on this blog). And so when I shot the match on Saturday my mind was buzzing with all sorts of tips and advice from these books. Not good.

 So what about the match?  First the bad:

 – My M&P is still acting up on me. Arrggghhh. On three stages I had a FTF on my reload. Maybe I really am inadvertently hitting the slide release before the mag is seated. Whatever it is, I've got to fix it. This probably costs me at least 6 seconds (meaning 1st place).

 – I had some trouble with trigger freeze on close targets. It was cold, but I'm not sure that explains it. I normally can shoot close, hoser targets easily with .18 splits. I just wasn't pulling the trigger efficiently. Time for some Bill Drills.

 – I started a reload with retention before I was behind cover. That cost me a procedural, adding 3 points to my score. Sometimes IDPA rules really torque me.

 The good:

 – I had no misses at all. Yay!

 – My hit factor for the entire match was good (second best).

 – My speed was acceptable (even with the trigger freezes and the funky reloads).

 – I enjoyed the match! It's nice to have a bunch of shooters that are now all competing for the top spot. Guys are getting better and that just makes for a fun match.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Books on Competitive Shooting

Let's talk about books on shooting, specifically books that are written to give advice to shooters who want to improve their skills in USPSA and IDPA.

One of the challenges of learning to shoot better is finding the right guys to coach you. When you are on the range with other shooters people will step up with all kinds of advice for you: do this, don't do that, put your thumbs here, etc.  A lot of it is contradictory or simply someone telling you what they read on the internet or watched on some self-proclaimed expert's YouTube video series.   God knows, there's enough shooting nonsense on YouTube to tie you up in knots if you took it all seriously.  If you take these internet shooting experts seriously, you're an idiot.   There are, of course, some recognized names that have a few helpful instructional videos available on line or on DVD—champion shooters like Matt Burkett, Todd Jared, Rob Leatham, Mike Seeklander, and more.  These guys all have a proven track record in competitive shooting.  You're not an idiot if you consider their advice.

But what about books on shooting?  Who's published the most helpful works on competition (or "practical") shooting?   I doubt if I'm competent to judge "the best" and I've not read tons of books on this subject (because there's really not a big pile of them), but I can tell you which one's I've benefited from.

Let me start with the ones I consider the best and work my way down the list.  Here are the top six:
1. Ben Stoeger, Practical Pistol: Fundamental Technique and Competition skills (2013).
2. Ben Stoeger and Jay Hirshberg, Champion Shooting: A Proven Process for Success at Any level, Volume 1 (2013)
3. Steve Anderson's Principles of Performance, Refinement and Repetition 2 (2007)
4. Saul Kirsh, Thinking Practical Shooting: A Guide to Outstanding Match Performance (2004)
5. Brian Enos, Practical Shooting: Beyond Fundamentals (1990)
6. Michael Seeklander, Your Competition Handgun Training Program (2010).

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

More Work on my M&P

Last month I replaced the sear housing block on both of my M&Ps.  I did it so that I could put a larger sear spring in and fix the problem of sear bounce (dead trigger).  This would happen occasionally, especially after reloads.

Well, I got that problem fixed. But I noticed I was still having trouble after some reloads.  It wasn't a dead trigger, but two other problems.

On my back up gun the barrel fit is a bit tight and sometimes when I jam in a magazine I will knock the slide slightly out of battery.  This was happening because the fit is tight and my recoil spring is light.  So I put a slightly heavier recoil spring in (13lbs instead of 11lbs).  Unfortunately, that will mess with the feel of the recoil and so won't work for matches.  If my primary gun breaks and I ever have to use my back up gun, I'll just switch out the Storm Lake barrel and recoil spring from the first gun.

The other problem I noticed was that after a reload the first round would not camber.  The round would not even make it close to the chamber.  After testing a bunch of factors I discovered that my magazines were filthy.  I had not cleaned them in months and months.  There are a couple that I use all the time and they were the source of the problem.  So I cleaned them all and made sure my rounds were moving freely into the chamber.  I also cleaned the insides with Fire Clean hoping that will help with cleaning in the future.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Gun Control Ammo

Here's a little sanity in the midst of massive media idiocy regarding newly proposed gun control legislation.
David Mamet – Gun Laws and the Fools of Chelm (Daily Beast).  This is must reading. 
Gun Rhetoric vs. Gun Facts – (Factcheck.org) 
John Fund – Facts about Mass Shootings (National Review) 
John Lott – The Facts about Assault Weapons and Crime (WSJ) 
Thomas Sowell – Invincible Ignorance 
Peter Ferarra – "Assault Weapon" Is Just A PR Stunt Meant To Fool The Gullible (Forbes) 
Ben Stein – God Help us (The American Spectator) 
David Kopel – Guns, Mental Illness and Newtown (Wall Street Journal) 
Gun Owners of America – Just for Skeptics 
James Slack – The Most Violent Country in Europe: England
James Taranto – The Medium is the Motive (Wall Street Journal)
Aaron Goldstein – Liberals Who Cling to their Guns 
Thomas Sowell – Replacing What Works with What Sounds Good (my title, not his)
Sen. Feinstein wants to confiscate them all  
Jeffrey Goldberg – The Case for More Guns (and More Gun Control) 
Joyce Lee Malcom – Two Cautionary Tales of Gun Control.  "Strict gun laws in Great Britain and Australia haven't made their people noticeably safer, nor have they prevented massacres. The two major countries held up as models for the U.S. don't provide much evidence that strict gun laws will solve our problems." 
Frank Miniter – Why Obama's Gun Control Proposals Already Seem Poised To Fail.  "Instead of treating gun owners as the opposition, President Obama should acknowledge that gun owners are also parents and grandparents who want schools and streets to be safe." (1/10/2013) 
Andrew Napolitano - Guns and Freedom
Who Needs More Than 10 Rounds?  This is a great little essay.
Bill Flax - The Second Amendment is What Makes the Other Nine Possible (Forbes)
David Sherfinski – States' Crime Rates Show Scant Linkage to Gun Laws (Washington Times) 
Gun crime has plunged, but Americans think it's up (LA Times) 
This pretty much sums it all up
 I plan to keep this post updated with the best articles available. 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Steel Match Review – January 19, 2013

I intended to shoot the Benchrest IDPA match this past Saturday, but I had an unexpected house guest and couldn't get away early enough to make it all the way up to Wright City in time.  So I scooted on down to ARPC for the steel plates match.

Not everyone likes shooting steel plates.  I do.  It's great practice for live-fire drawing and also for working on your transitions.  Shooting five strings on five stages gives you twenty-five times to draw on the buzzer.  Can't beat that.  And moving the gun from plate to plate quickly while shooting accurate shots is great practice.

This time I worked on making sure I was being deliberate on the first few strings of each stage.  Not necessarily slow, but deliberate.  Then I increased my speed for a string or two to see how far I could push it.  This seemed to work for me.

I believe I'm getting the hang of "indexing" my shots on steel stages depending on the distance and size of the steel plates.  This takes some practice.  It has to do with "stage planning" in a way. There's nothing as complex as the planning involved in a USPSA stage.  But before you get up to the line you still need to walk through the sequence of plates in your mind focusing on the cadence of your shoots.

Monday, January 14, 2013

ARPC IDPA Match Review - January 12, 2013

The first match of the year for me wasn't a good one.  Nope.

The weather was great—50 degrees, perfect for shooting.  We had six relatively short, fast stages to shoot.

I got there early to help supervise the setup, but had to leave by 9 AM in order to get to a memorial service for a dear member of my congregation.  This meant that I had to "play through" and shoot all the stages in about 1/2 hour or so.  This is never a good way to shoot a match.  Not enough time to think through a stage plan and run through it in your mind before shooting.  I walked from one stage to another and shot with virtually no time to rest or think about the stage.

But the first stage ruined it for me.  It was a "super" El Presidente stage (Stage #2).  I typically nail these El Prez stages.  But I was the first to shoot it and I made a huge mental error.  I got up to the line and at the "load and make ready" command I checked my equipment, my magazines, inserted a magazine, but forgot to chamber a round. Buzzer goes off and I spun around and click, no bang.

Why did that happen?  I think I have an answer.  Besides being rushed, there's another reason (excuse). I've been dry-fire practicing hard for two weeks or so.  And when I've been dry firing this past week I've been mostly practicing reloads.  And I haven't usually been chambering my dummy rounds when I'm doing these reloads drills.  Idiot, me.  Lesson learned.

In addition to this, my M&P was not fixed as I thought it was and I am pissed.  As I said in a recent post, I recently I got new sear housing blocks for both guns and reinstalled everything with a new firmer sear spring.  This was supposed to correct my dead trigger issues, supposedly caused by sear bounce during reloads.

Well, 4 of the 7 reloads I did at the match on Saturday ended with a dead trigger. I had to recharge the gun, loosing a round and adding about 2 more seconds on each stage.  The only bright spot in this match was my performance on Stage #1 and #3 (the only two stages that I didn't get a dead trigger after my reload; and I'm not counting the cluster on Stage #2).

I was on the phone with Apex Tactical today and I will be sending them my pistols to fix. They were very helpful. Hopefully, I can get them in the mail in a day or so.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Winter Reading, Part 1

Perhaps winter is a good time to scan through some of my books on shooting and see if there's anything helpful.  These are books I got three years ago or so when I was just starting to take competitive shooting seriously.  Since then I've put a lot of lead down range.  It's fun reading through these books and seeing what I highlighted back then.

I'll start with Practical Shooting: Beyond Fundamentals by Brian Enos.  The book begins with a lot of mystical stuff about shooting: concentration vs. focus, meditation, awareness, etc.  I'm not always sure about what to do with this.  As I read over this section there's a lot that makes sense and fits with what I have experienced the past few years in practice and matches.

For example, Enos rightly notes that there is way too much going on when you are shooting at high speed to "concentrate" on any one thing or another.  You really do have to let your subconscious mind take over.  If you are concentrating on aiming, then you are way too focused on one thing.  Everything needs to flow, to work together—grip, stance, splits, transitions, movement, footwork, target sequencing, reloads, gun handling, speed of engagement, execution of stage plan, etc.  His point is that you cannot consciously think about how all of these factors will work together.  Heck, you don't have time to think about any one of them in most cases.  You just shoot.

This is why repetitive practice is so important. The shooter who doesn't make certain common skills "second nature" will have to think his way through too much in any given match. And that, of course, adds us to a huge amount of time and loss of accuracy.
I rehearse everything I will do on a particular stage before I get to the line—I concentrate on it.  But when I raise my hands [get into the starting position], I also raise my awareness.  I shift my control to automatic and shift my focus to the correct point to successfully shoot the stage.  Then I quite my mind by focusing on the present tense as I immediately prepare to shoot.  I no longer follow any plan. I stop thinking.  I start shooting.  And I act on what I actually see, not on what I planned on seeing (p. 22).
I can relate to that.  But I'm not sure I'm able to shut down conscious thinking and planning while shooting as thoroughly as Enos suggests.  But it sounds like a worthy goal.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Proper Grip, Stance, and Attitude

Okay, I don't claim to be an "instructor" when it comes to teaching proper grip and stance.  So I'll let someone who is a certified expert trainer help you with some advanced techniques.


And the best way to get really good is to practice this at home in your front yard with an airsoft gun or something like that.  Remember to keep it real.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Winter Dry Fire

For the past 3 weeks I've been dry-fire practicing almost every day.  In the past few years I've dry fired maybe once a week.  But that's probably overstating things.  During the Spring, Summer, and Fall I will have a live-fire practice once a week and a match almost every Saturday (IDPA, USPSA, or Steel), so I haven't felt the need to do a lot of dry firing at home.  I'm not sure if that was the best. I've noticed significant improvements in my reloads and gun handling over the past few weeks.  I think this is what I need to move to the next level. I'm only doing 15-30 minutes a day, but it really seems to be helping.

I met my competitive shooting goals in 2012—Master in IDPA SSP and A Class in USPSA Production (by the skin of my teeth in December).  My goals for 2013 require more finesse.  I'd like to classify or get bumped to Master in both ESP and CDP in IDPA.  But more significantly, I plan to make Master in USPSA Production division by the end of the year.  That will require some consistent gun-handling skills, improvements in my accuracy, and a mastering of the mental game, particularly stage planning and execution.  I'm hoping that regular, but short dry-fire practice sessions every week will help get me over the hump.

Last night I got Ben Stoeger's new book on dry-fire practice.  This is a very reasonable, common-sense approach to dry-fire practice.  I liked the intro section.  It doesn't encourage OCD log keeping.  I don't need another set of numbers to crunch. Live-fire drills give me enough of that.

Their comments about "honesty" are spot on, too. Dry-firing is not so you can show off your numbers on the interwebs or post videos of you hosing your little targets in the basement with make-believe bullets.  It's about developing your skills for matches.  There are a lot of drills in the book. That's nice. I've been using full-sized targets in the past.  I need to get some of those little 1/3 scale targets so I can do the more complex stages in my basement.