Testing the effect of adverse weather on our shooting ability is useful. This year is already starting out with a colder winter than usual and it’s not even officially winter yet. That may be the ‘climate change’ trend for a while. The temperature today is 36 degrees and there’s a very light mist. Wearing a zipped up down jacket with a sweatshirt underneath and gloves may be the uniform for a while.
A good test for starters is the NRA Basics Of Pistol Shooting test. It consists of firing five shots into each of four circles, four inches in diameter at three increasing distances. Red Level is fired at 10 feet, White Level is shot at 15 feet, and Blue Level finishes the test at 20 feet for a total of 60 rounds. There is no time limit.
For those who want to up the challenge of the game, here’s one method. Load a magazine with 10 live rounds and two random dummies. The dummies are not the first nor the last round in the magazine.
Shoot one round at one circle and then transition to the adjacent circle to fire a second round. Repeat four more times, firing only two rounds each string. Alternate which of the two circles you start on. When the dummies come up, clear the stoppage, and finish that string. You should end up with five hits in each of two circles.
Start the first two circles from Low Ready. Start the second two circles from the holster.
Once you’ve shot those four circles at 10 feet (Red Level), move to back to 15 feet (White Level), and repeat the process. When you’ve finished that target, move back to 20 feet (Blue Level) and finish the test.
- Wearing gloves definitely increases the difficulty of shooting a pistol. This was something I counseled anyone who wanted to wear their gloves for the Testing Program at the elite Rogers Shooting School. “Pass the Test first, then shoot it with gloves to see what the difference is.” Shooting with gloves generally induces a minimum of a 10% degradation in performance, even for high level shooters. For most people, it’s more like a minimum of 20‑25% degradation. Although cleaning the BOPS test is no big deal for me generally, I wasn’t able to under the current conditions.
- I was using a Traditional Double Action pistol (S&W 669) in an Appendix holster (Walkabout) by Galco. Even doing a Hackathorn Rip with the garments, sometimes the sweatshirt wouldn’t completely clear the pistol and I had to do some fumbling around to get my grip established. I would have been really unenthused about doing the drill if I had been using a Striker Fired Autoloader. That’s just me. Practice this drill at your own risk, I assume no responsibility if you shoot yourself while doing it. For those who have never done it before, I advise doing the drill dry (i.e., without ammunition) 20 to 30 times first.
- The sidecar magazine carrier was definitely helpful. Having to dig a magazine out of a carrier behind the hip with that much clothing on would probably be a mess. Next time, I’ll put some reload strings on the clock to test the difference.
I’m not that big a believer in the “If it’s not raining, it’s not training” philosophy. However, your EDC gear is not limited to just your pistol and whatever other Partridge in a pear tree equipment you carry on you. Your clothing is just as much a part of it. Testing your personal performance with all your gear and clothing on under actual conditions can be very informative.