Category Archives: practice

Working with .22s

#ttptuesday

Yesterday’s post mentioned the M&P 22 Compact pistol. It’s an excellent pistol and worked well on the range. Once we found the ammo it liked, it worked flawlessly. I suspect it may have had a dirty chamber that caused the initial functioning issues.

Here are some tips about working with .22 caliber pistols, in general.

First of all, keep them clean. The .22 Long Rifle round is dirty. The small size of the ammunition and guns make the gun’s tolerances more critical and dirt in the process isn’t helpful. The gun doesn’t need to be as clean as a dinner plate but gobs of goo certainly don’t help functioning.

Helpful accessories when shooting .22 LR firearms

  • Coghlan’s Aluminum Hooked Tent Peg, 7 inch (69 cents at Walmart)
  • Dry lube
  • Portable cleaning rod and brushes
  • Bore snake
  • #4 drywall anchors ($3.99 at Home Despot)

The tent peg is for pushing out cases or rounds that don’t eject and the extractor won’t pull out. You could use the cleaning rod but the tent peg is stiffer. It’s aluminum so it’s not going to harm your bore. Until you find the ammo your gun prefers or you’re shooting cheap bulk ammo for practice, this is a good tool for clearing stuck cases. Make sure you lock the gun open before inserting it in the bore.

Using a dry lube for .22 firearms goes a long way to keeping them from getting so dirty. The carbon and unburnt powder doesn’t stick to the dry lube the way they do to oil. .22 firearms don’t get very hot so the extra lubrication provided by oil is unnecessary.

When you get finished shooting, run a brush through the bore and chamber a few strokes. Follow up by pulling the bore snake through. Even if you don’t clean the rest of the gun, doing those two things will keep it running for quite a while.

The #4 drywall anchors are to protect the firing pin and breech face when dry practicing. Most .22s need this protection. Snap caps of the centerfire type are not desirable for dry practicing with .22s, they’re for czeching feeding and extraction. Use a new drywall anchor each session and then throw it away. Rotate it slightly in the chamber periodically during each session.

There are magazine loading tools for .22 magazines that make the task of loading the magazine much less of a thumb buster. I don’t have one for the 22 Compact yet but there are two different types I will be trying in the near future.

Test different types of ammo to see which functions best in your gun. Guns will usually work better with some brands than others. CCI Mini-Mags are a good all-purpose ammunition but even they need to be tested in your gun. If you, or someone you know, keeps a .22 for Personal Defense, use good quality ammo in it for that purpose. Don’t use the cheapest bulk ammo you can find and then say the gun is unreliable.

The pros and cons of using a .22 for Personal Defense have been endlessly debated, so let’s not do that here. The fact is that people do, so let’s do it right. Keep the gun clean, lube it, and use good ammo. Odds are that if the ammo comes in a plastic box with individual rounds separated it will work. Ammo that comes in paper boxes tends to be suspect. That’s okay for practice but use good ammo for Defense.

Shooting a .22 can be a lot of fun. If you have a few accessories; it will be even easier. For some segments of the population, they’re the only viable choice.

FTC Notice: all the products in this article were purchased and no compensation is received for mentioning them.

Positive people are a joy to be around

#mindsetmonday

Saturday, I went to a range dedication. Without going into a lot of detail, Corky’s Day, which was the inaugural event for the Hamilton Steel Range in Dahlonega, was a great example to me of how nice it is to be in the company of positive people. In the troubled times that are coming, we all will need to surround ourselves with positive people as much as possible.

The rest is on my Patreon page for Public viewing.

https://www.patreon.com/posts/46101857

Goal Setting for 2021

The book The Practicing Mind https://www.amazon.com/dp/B007C8NRSA/ was written by an accomplished musician and concert piano renovator. It contains the following story about when he started playing golf as an adult. The lesson in the story is well worth considering.

even though they had played golf weekly for many years, they still couldn’t accomplish basic things, such as getting the ball up in the air.

What I learned from golf was that all my failures in music had stemmed from my lack of understanding the proper mechanics of practicing, of the process of picking a goal, whatever that may be, and applying a steady effort toward achieving it.

The passage about ‘picking a goal, whatever that may be’ is particularly important in developing competency with firearms. The ‘whatever that may be’ part should be well considered as part of the goal setting process. It’s not uncommon for gunowners to place a high priority on marksmanship tasks. However, in the context of using firearms for Personal Protection, there are many implied tasks that complement or even surpass marksmanship in importance.

  • Being aware
  • Verbalization
  • Accessing a weapon
  • Moving from place to place safely (e.g. without having an Unintentional Discharge)
  • Making reasonable and appropriate decisions
  • Coordinating with friends and loved ones
  • Etc.

The ammunition deficit will give us all time to work on non-shooting tasks and skills that are, or at least should be, an integral part of our Personal Protection plan. For those who place a priority on their safety and their loved ones’ safety, range time can be re-prioritized to time to practice other skills. Some of those complementary skills do not even involve handling firearms. Others are easily accomplished with an inert or even toy gun.

The enjoyment aspect of the shooting sports is another worthwhile goal. My shooting goal this year is to achieve my Distinguished Expert rating in Shotgun from the NRA. Since I already hold two DE ratings, I will become one of the few Triple Distinguished Experts. My gun club is rebuilding our rimfire range, so I’ll also be able to get back into smallbore rifle shooting, a highly disciplined activity.

On the other hand, my interest in ‘Boyd’s Process,’ of which the ‘O-O-D-A Loop’ is part, has been rekindled. I am going to make a concerted effort to delve deeply into the entire process and produce a written piece and presentation for my Patrons about integrating all the parts of Boyd’s thinking into a cohesive paradigm. That falls into the ‘making reasonable and appropriate decisions’ and is only peripherally concerned with firearms, other than as a backup tool.

Think about what your goals are for 2021 for firearms and Personal Protection. Decide what a measurable indicator for reaching each of your goals would be and then make a plan for getting there. That is a different process than ‘New Year’s resolutions,’ which generally are ephemeral and therefore more easily dismissed than a goal with a concrete plan.

FTC notice: I receive no commission for any links mentioned in this post.

What does effective Dry Practice actually look like?

#fridayfundamentals

Since many people have never seen a structured Dry Practice session, here’s an example.

This session uses a State’s (Louisiana) Concealed Handgun Permit Qualification Course as the basis for structuring the session. Having a structured Dry Practice session accomplishes several objectives. Among them are safety, avoiding “grabasstic gun clicking,” and effective time management, among others.

Although the session seems simplistic, the way it is structured provides multiple repetitions of at least 10 different skills that are common in Defensive Gun Uses. In his groundbreaking book How to Win Friends and Influence People, https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003WEAI4E/ Dale Carnegie wrote,

“Remember that the use of these principles can be made habitual only by a constant and vigorous campaign of review and application.”

Those words are every bit as true for physical skills as they are for human relations skills. The way we learn to do things competently by practicing them repetitively. As an aside, human relation skills can be very useful in defusing bad situations and Carnegie’s book is well worth reading for general interest.

Skills practiced in the session

  • 36 Good First Round Hits.
    • Good, for my purposes, means creating a serious enough wound that the shootee has to go to a hospital to seek medical treatment. At that point, the POlice will start asking those uncomfortable questions about how he got the wound. More about that definition in the next #mindsetmonday.
    • There are several subsets of getting ‘Good First Round Hits’.
      • 36 Presentations into the Eye-Target line
      • 36 Sight Acquisitions
      • 36 Smooth enough trigger presses
      • 36 Follow-throughs
  • 33 repetitions of Forming the Grip quickly
  • 36 repetitions of Racking the slide in a safe (muzzle downrange) manner.
  • 3 Draws to Ready
    • 3 ‘Draw but DON’T SHOOT YET’ Decisions
  • 3 Safe Re-holsters
  • 33 repetitions of Return to Ready
  • 3 magazine exchanges
    • 1 Reload with Retention
    • 2 Tactical Reloads
  • 36 Deliberate SHOOT Decisions
  • 36 Shot Analyses (Read the Sights)
  • 3 Spatial Analyses (6 feet is in the Close Phase of Social space, 10 feet is in the Far Phase of Social space, and 15 feet is in the Close Phase of Public space) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proxemics and how they affect your shooting.
Start each repetition aimed below and to the side of the target.

The TRT (Tap-Rack-Training aid) mentioned is available on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Pack-Safety-Training-Pistol-Magazine/dp/B07CNBDHSB Using it is much easier the making the UN (inert and doesn’t work) magazines that were its inspiration.

Image Based Decisional Drills https://www.imagebaseddecisionaldrills.com/ provided the face on the target. A face is available for download in the Downloadables section of their website.

Using a Qualification Course as the basis for a Dry Practice Session and Regimen is an effective way of maximizing the value of your effort. For those who plan to obtain a Weapons Carry License in a State that has a Qualification requirement, it is also useful as an introduction to the structure of pistol qualification, even if the Course used is not the same.

Today’s Patreon https://www.patreon.com/TacticalProfessor post will go into more detail about structuring Dry Practice for maximum effectiveness.

FTC note: I receive no compensation for the product links in this post.

Fundamentals of dry practice

Although dry practice (aka dry fire) is often recommended, many shooters are unclear about the specifics of dry practice. Here is a short video, first in a series, to get gunowners started.

A short dry practice explanation

This series will include a video about safety procedures and a few sessions. I hope it will be useful to my readers and clients.

If you enjoy my content, please consider supporting me on Patreon. I post more in-depth material there for serious students of Self-Defense and Personal Protection.

https://www.patreon.com/TacticalProfessor

Have a plan

As the late William Aprill was fond of saying,

Spontaneity is overrated.

“That’s what heart surgery is,” he said with a soft laugh. “It’s a script. To you, it probably looked like I was just sewing those collars into Meeko’s chest any old way. But every motion was planned, tested, practiced. Turn my hand eight degrees and poke the needle through; swivel my hand back 22 degrees and draw the needle up four inches; turn my hand back just so and bring it to the left a half inch: a precise number of stitches, pulled just so tight and no tighter. What heart surgery takes is remembering an incredibly long and complicated script and following it exactly, step by step.”

https://getpocket.com/explore/item/no-pulse-how-doctors-reinvented-the-human-heart

The idea of having a script, i.e., a very specific game plan, doesn’t just apply to heart surgery. One of the learned aspects of firearms competition is to develop a plan ahead of time and then follow it through.

https://www.20min.ch/story/schusswechsel-nach-einbruch-in-geschaeft-eine-person-verletzt-108142673425

The quaint Google translate version of the story’s precis reads:

That’s what it’s about

* On Friday [note that the incident actually occurred the previous Wednesday] night there was an exchange of fire between the owner of a gun shop and burglars who had tried to gain access to his shop in Wallbach AG [Switzerland].

* What the perpetrators did not expect: The owner is a marksman and former Swiss champion in dynamic shooting [IPSC].

* One person was injured in the shooting. The POlice assume that this is one of the perpetrators, as no injuries were found on site.

Whether it’s IPSC, IDPA, GSSF, ICORE or some other form of competition is largely irrelevant. What is important is the concept of having a game plan ahead of time and then putting it into action when you get the ‘GO’ signal.

Teach your children to shoot

In the current political situation, if you have teenage children and haven’t taught them how to shoot a rifle adequately, you’re wrong, PERIOD.

I have taught a number of teenage boys to pass the Ohio POlice Rifle Course in just a couple of hours. Girls could do it just as easily. It’s not the greatest qualification course but it’s short, easily administered, and someone who can pass it is a force to be reckoned with, especially from a fixed position or support role.

With the exception of the reload in Stage Six, the entire Course can be done even using a tube fed autoloading .22 rifle with iron sights. The reload can still be done with a tube fed autoloader but probably not in the time frame allotted. Although many people think that a .22 rifle can only cause a bee sting, they are sadly mistaken. Rifles in .22 caliber are highly lethal within 25 yards, often even with only one shot.

Our great Nation is in perilous times and it behooves us to be ready for what’s to come.

Gripping an autoloading pistol correctly to reduce malfunctions

Gripping the gun firmly, including stiffening the wrists, is important in terms of running autoloaders without having malfunctions aka stoppages (Unintentional Interruptions in the Cycle of Operation). This has been demonstrated several times in classes I’ve taught this month; Personal Performance http://www.thecompletecombatant.com/personal-performance.html  and The Mingle. http://www.thecompletecombatant.com/the-mingle.html During both classes, simply increasing the tension in a shooter’s wrists completely eliminated malfunctions in guns that had previously been troublesome.

Rob Leatham gives an excellent explanation about gripping the pistol in this video. Although his video addresses shooting speed, the concept applies equally to increasing reliability of a pistol.

Note how he tests the tension of the shooter’s wrists at 1:05. With a handheld recoil-operated firearm, tensioned wrist(s) are a key input for the gun’s functionality. If the shooter’s wrists are not adequately tensioned, the receiver of the gun moves at the same time the slide is cycling. When the receiver moves simultaneously with the slide cycling, the possibility of the slide not completing its travel fully to the rear increases. Failure to maintain tensioned wrists is often referred to as ‘limp-wristing.’

Knowing the mechanical steps in the operation of an autoloading firearm is useful to understand this problem. Once a loaded magazine has been inserted, the eight steps in the cycle of operation for a locked breech firearm are:

  1. Feeding
  2. Chambering
  3. Locking
  4. Firing
  5. Unlocking
  6. Extracting
  7. Ejecting
  8. Cocking

The steps most affected by limp-wristing are Feeding, Chambering, and Ejecting. Feeding is the step wherein the round rises completely up in the magazine and presses against the feed lips. Chambering occurs when the breech of the firearm strips the round from the magazine’s feed lips and pushes it completely into the chamber. Ejecting occurs after the entire case has been pulled from the chamber and the case is completely expelled from the firearm.

If the slide does not move fully to the rear because the receiver is moving at the same time, the breechface may not clear the rear of the cartridge. If so, Feeding will not be complete. The front of the cartridge will rise to the feed lips but the rear of the cartridge cannot because the lower part of the breechface is obstructing it. This is a Failure to Feed. Then, when the slide moves forward, friction between the bottom of the breechface and the cartridge will push the nose of the cartridge into the feedramp. However, because the round is presented at the wrong angle, a Failure to Chamber occurs with the nose of the round jammed against the feedramp. In some pistols, a Failure to Cock will also occur but this is incidental to the problem.

This stoppage must be cleared by using Remedial Action.

Remedial Action

  • Strip the magazine out. This may or may not require locking the slide to the rear, depending on the type of pistol. There are two schools of thought about what to do with the stripped out magazine, however, neither is relevant to reducing (clearing) the stoppage.
  • Work the slide several times to ensure that no fired unejected brass remains in the gun.
  • Insert and seat a magazine.
  • Operate the slide completely to chamber a new round of ammunition.
  • Get back to work.

An even more exaggerated of the issue can occur if the slide’s rearward travel is so shortened that that the base of the cartridge doesn’t make contact with the pistol’s ejector. This then will result in a Failure to Eject in addition to the Failure to Feed and Failure to Chamber. This stoppage must also be reduced by using Remedial Action. The Failure to Eject aspect is why the step of working the slide several times is included in Remedial Action. Theoretically, a Failure to Extract could occur but this is almost universally ammunition related (oversized, dirty, or grossly underpowered) rather than due to Operator Error.

Working with a partner and a completely unloaded pistol or Blue Gun, as demonstrated in the video, to test and increase the tension of the wrists is a simple way to increase the reliability of the pistol.

Gripping the wrists while moving the pistol.

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Downrange drill target

My only question is whether you might have an alternate suggestion for target set up comparable to the one in this post and the one before. I shoot at two restrictive ranges without the ability to shoot targets spaced as indicated in your diagram.

Almost all indoor ranges are restrictive that way. There are still things you can do even if you can’t accomplish everything you’d like.

This is a target from my upcoming Dry Practice book you can print on letter size paper.

Downrange drill target

Tape it to the head of a silhouette target. It is anatomically sized correctly by using the ocular distance indicated by the line with arrows on the male mugshot of Dennis Rader, the notorious BTK Killer. https://www.biography.com/crime-figure/dennis-rader The dashed circle is sized to four inches in diameter. The pretty lady is a mug shot too, unfortunately, but she serves the purpose of occupying the place of a NO SHOOT.

Place the target at 10 feet, which is the mid-point of the far phase of Social Space in Proxemics. The object of the drill is to place one round in the circle as rapidly as your can. Do it five times in a row. If you hit the lady, you’ve shot a loved one; consider that in your evaluation of your abilities. As Dirty Harry said, “A man’s got to know his limitations.”

Even if you don’t have a lot of flexibility at your practice range, there are still things you can do to up your game.

Tactical Professor books (all PDF) (not Free)

Why we practice marksmanship – number 2

Investigators say Mills walked into the bathroom where the female homeowner was showering. She screamed and her husband ran in to confront Mills. Police say Mills had a knife and stabbed the husband in the face and stomach before running from the home.

https://www.wsbtv.com/news/local/brookhaven-couple-attacked-their-home-yesterday/VFLHWHIBVNANFJ4JIF5NEGR6OY/

A downrange drill including standoff.

Once again, we’re more likely to need to do a close range precision shot on a predator than a 25 head shot on a terrorist. Let’s use ‘hit a 4 inch circle at 10 feet’ as a definition of ‘close range precision shot.’ That’s the standard to pass the NRA Basics of Pistol Shooting course. Just like BOPS, our standard should be 100% hits for a five shot string.