Category Archives: standards

Too quick on the trigger?

Every month, Tamara Keel pens a page called Good Guys Win https://www.swatmag.com/articles/more-articles/good-guys-win/ in SWAT magazine. It’s similar to The Armed Citizen from the NRA Official Journals in that the stories are based on real life incidents rather than ‘Ninjas Coming from the Ceiling’ fantasies. One of her stories this month came from this incident.

Cable man opens fire during robbery attempt while working in north Houston

Police say one of the suspects was shot in the leg.

Whenever I see an incident in which the Good Guy shoots the Bad Guy in the leg, which happens on a regular basis, I wonder if it’s because GG got on the trigger too quickly. While ‘shoot him in the leg’ is a rather popular meme, I doubt it’s something that people do instinctively. We’ve got to practice getting the gun into the eye-target line before putting our finger into the trigger guard. Another possibility was some serious trigger jerking, which is why we need to learn to press the trigger smoothly, even when we’re stressed.

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Consistency

Consistent. Merriam-Webster defines it as:

marked by harmony, regularity, or steady continuity: free from variation or contradiction

During his Technical Handgun: Tests and Standards class last weekend, John Johnston of Ballistic Radio commented to me that the class had been heavily influenced by two conversations he and I had. In one, I said

You’re a good shooter but your consistency sucks.

He took that to heart and developed a personal program to increase his consistency. Technical Handgun is his road show about how shooters can use a personal program to increase their consistency and competency. Good shooting, even decent shooting, is the result of consistency. By that I mean the ability to perform at some level with a high degree of regularity. As we develop our consistency, the level we are able to perform at ‘on demand’ increases. Many shooters are perfectly content with being incompetent. Many others are not but don’t know how to go about increasing their competency.

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Measuring your capabilities

Last Sunday, The Complete Combatant hosted a class for which I was the Guest Instructor. The Class is called Personal Performance; this particular class is for Ladies Only. This is the third iteration of the class we have done, the first having been in October of 2017.

The class is based on the NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program Course of Fire called Defensive Pistol I. The MQP has numerous Courses of Fire for a variety of different firearms and shooting disciplines. Unfortunately, it’s probably the NRA’s best kept secret.

The Defensive Pistol I Course of Fire is described as “designed to supplement the Personal Protection In The Home courses.” Since PPITH does not include doing any work from the holster, neither does DP I. This is a good place to start measuring one’s performance capabilities because the variable of drawing from the holster is eliminated. The Course of Fire consists of six levels of increasing task complexity and decreasing time limits.

DPI table

Since its addition to the MQP in December 2012, I’ve put nearly 200 people through Defensive Pistol I, both men and women. The results have been both surprising and informative, to say the least.

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The value of a college degree

A Facebook friend commented about the fact that some major corporations had dropped the requirement for a college degree. She agreed with the change because her experience was that her education had no apparent value to her current employment.

There’s a lot of validity in her comments although she may not be considering the totality of what she learned in college. This is especially true given the amount of subsequent education, in different forms, she has undertaken. In the words of the motivational speaker, Steve Chandler, she clearly has emotionally left High School behind, which many people never do.

diploma-clipart-vector-5

For many years, employers valued a college degree for a number of reasons. Some of them, STEM and professional related degrees, related to an entry level understanding of material necessary for job performance. In a broader sense, a college degree had value in that it demonstrated the ability to think clearly about a myriad of subjects, communicate effectively, do research, and to have a goal and stick to the tasks required to achieve it for an extended period of time. These values also applied to getting a High School Diploma. The system involved both Process and Performance.

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Repetition and Progression (Part 2)

#fridayfundamentals

The most important Fundamental of all is to be sure your gun works. A recently purchased used revolver seemed okay in most aspects except the cylinder lockup had a hitch. Upon actually shooting it, it worked fine for the first 10 rounds. After that, the trigger could not be pulled with the cylinder closed. As I suspected, something was wrong with the center pin spring and the center pin would not push the bolt into position when the cylinder closed. Moving the bolt into position before it will fire is fundamental to double action revolver design.

Upon examining it later, there was no center pin spring, hence the issue. Someone had obviously messed with it because the extractor rod came free quite easily. Fortunately, the sear/bolt spring for a S&W fit adequately and fixed the problem.

As my colleague, the late Paul Gomez, was fond of saying, “Shoot Yor ….. Guns.”

After repairing it, I used it for another form of progression in practice, increasing distance incrementally. Starting out at a close distance, marking your target after each string, and then increasing the distance gives you an indication of where your strengths and weakness lie. Knowing them gives you an idea of what to practice next.

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The Value of Standards

When planning any journey, knowing where you’re starting from is a necessity. For those new to Concealed Carry and for those who have been carrying for a while, having some kind of Standard to benchmark your ability against is the way to determine where you’re at, skills wise.

Marksmanship skill is not the be all and end all of the skills involved in Concealed Carry, as my Serious Mistakes and Negative Outcomes commentary shows. However, understanding where your capability fits in the big picture helps decision‑making more than is often realized. Some degree of skill helps a gunowner focus on the solution to the problem of a criminal encounter instead of focusing on possession of the gun as the solution.

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Comparative Standards – Double Action Autos

I enjoyed the #wheelgunwednesday Comparative Standards exercise enough to repeat it. This time the test was with Double Action autoloaders. Five different autos, three Double Action Only and two Traditional Double Action were the test subjects. Four were 9mm and one was a .22.

  • SCCY CPX-2
  • Sig P250
  • Smith & Wesson 6906
  • Beretta Centurion 92D
  • Walther P22 (Remington Golden Bullet bulk ammo)

All the guns were similarly sized enough that I used the same Mister Softy holster for all of them. The Mister Softy is interesting in that the gun sits low enough in the pants that a full firing grip can’t be gained in the holster. I didn’t notice the lack of a full firing grip was an impediment. The need for a full firing grip in an AIWB holster is another one of the industry maxims I have doubts about. Maybe I just have clever hands.

mr softy sq

I used the same protocols for shooting and scoring as last time so I won’t reiterate them.

Range setup

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#Wheelgunwednesday – Comparative Standards

The Editor of a publication I occasionally write for asked me to participate in a project about comparing different handguns. Being the revolver guy I am, he asked me for some input about how wheelguns fared. His concept is:

[R]each an objective: identifying a short (20-rounds) base of standards for defense handguns to (1) compare similar format guns, one to another, (2) compare formats of handguns (small, single stack or subcompact), (3) “shoot out” duty/defense ammo for replacement while evaluating personal skills, (4) yet another “cold course” of fire to identify skills areas that need attention.

This is the Course of Fire he developed.

  • Basis: 3-second strings
  • Lots of draws
  • Few reloads (on the clock)
  • Limited Vickers: use a target, feature .5 second added for 1-down; shortest time “wins.”
  • 25 yards – singles from holster – 5x – 5 rounds
  • 15 yards – single from holster – 1x
  • single from guard – 2 x      — 3 rounds
  • 10 yards – Pair from holster – 1x       2 – rounds
  • 7 yards – Failure from holster – 1x – 3 rounds
  • 5 yards – Pair SHO from holster – 1 x – 2 rounds
  • Pair WHO from guard – 1x  — 2 rounds
  • from holster, 1-Reload-1 – 1 x – 2 rounds
  • from holster, 1 head – 1 x – 1 round

Total: 20 rounds

The breakdown:

  • Draws – 7
  • From ‘ready’ (guard) – 3
  • Singles – 6, one to ‘brain housing group’
  • Weak Hand Only – 2, Strong Hand Only – 2
  • Shots to smaller target – 2; one is transition from larger target.
  • Pairs – 4
  • Reload – 1 (under time)

All in a 20 round box of ammo.

It’s an interesting concept, so I shot it with four different revolvers and two autoloaders.

  • Smith & Wesson Model 65 – one of my favorite wheelguns and what I shot at the 2018 Rangemaster Tactical Conference
  • Smith & Wesson Model 642– perhaps the most ubiquitous revolver encountered today
  • Ruger LCR – another commonly carried wheelgun
  • Smith & Wesson SD9VE
  • Beretta PX4 Storm Compact, modified to G configuration
  • Smith & Wesson 43C – a nice little .22 snub revolver

All were shot from Appendix Inside the Waistband carry except the SD9VE. The centerfire revolvers were reloaded using a speedloader carried in a centerline carrier. The 43C was reloaded using a QuikStrip carried in the watch pocket of my jeans. I used Remington Golden Bullet bulk ammo in the 525 round box for the 43C. Despite it having a 9 pound mainspring, which I have been told will get me ‘kilt in da streetz,’ there were no Failures to Fire.

We were free to use any target we wanted, so I used the printable target from my ebook Concealed Carry Skills and Drills. Per his instructions, the scoring was Vickers Count with ½ second added per point down. I used the Circle as the -0, the paper target as -1, and the balance of an IDPA target backer as -3.

An interesting aspect of the Course is that every shot or two is scored individually. This involves a lot of walking, especially for the five shots at 25 yards but gives a lot of feedback about the efficacy of one’s shooting. In the spirit of the analysis, I marked the target at every distance change to keep track of where the bullets were hitting.

Range setup

Range setup

65 sq

Model 65

642 sq

Model 642-2

LCR sq

Ruger LCR

SD9VE sq

SD9VE

PX4 sq

Beretta PX4 Storm Compact

43C sq

Model 43C

Here’s how the results came out.

results pic

It’s a demanding benchmark analysis. I’m looking forward to seeing the results of the other testers.

If you would like to purchase Concealed Carry Skills and Drills, the link to the downloadable ebook is here. http://concealedcarryskillsanddrills.com

The Origin and Evolution of Dot Torture

Dot Torture is a well known practice regimen among skilled shooters. Its origins and evolution are less well known, however.

DT target pic

Shooting on dot targets, i.e., small filled in circles from 1.25 to 5.54 inches in diameter, as a speed shooting training and practice exercise, was originated by John Shaw, a World Champion shooter, in the early 1980s. In his book, You Can’t Miss: The Guide to Combat Pistol Shooting, he explains the training standard he established for his students. Until they could consistently hit the black bullseye (5.54 inches) of an NRA B-8 bullseye target from the holster in two seconds at seven yards, he didn’t allow them to move on to more advanced drills.

NRA B-8

Shaw’s school, the Mid-South Institute of Self-Defense Shooting evolved the concept of dot shooting to a high level. Combined with shooting at steel targets, as originated by Bill Rogers, founder of the elite Rogers Shooting School, dot shooting became a standard component used in the practice regimens of knowledgeable shooters who aspired to a higher level of competency.

The concept of dot shooting was so effective at teaching shooters to hit the target, it quickly became part of military counter-terrorist pistol training. The US Army Special Forces developed a course called ‘Special Operations Training’ [SOT] during the 1980s to train its personnel to use the 1911 pistol at a level not seen before that time in the military.

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Comparing capabilities

For a long time, I’ve wanted to do a comparison of two very popular pocket pistols; the Airweight J Frame and the Ruger LCP. This #wheelgunwednesday, I made it happen. In this case, I used a S&W 642-2 for the Airweight.

The test I used for the comparison was the Nevada Concealed Firearms Permit Qualification Course. I used this as the graduation exercise in my Snub Nose Revolver Classes many times. It’s still one of my favorite CCW qualification courses. The course goes as follows:

The humanoid target, B27 or B21 or equivalent as determined by the firearm instructor shall be utilized.

For 6 shot or higher capacity:

3 yards 6 rounds              No time limit      Freestyle

5 yards 12 rounds           No time limit      Freestyle

7 yards 12 rounds           No time limit      Freestyle

For 5 shot or lower capacity:

3 yards 5 rounds              No time limit      Freestyle

5 yards 10 rounds           No time limit      Freestyle

7 yards 10 rounds           No time limit      Freestyle

A total of 30 rounds for 6 shot or larger capacity, 25 rounds for 5 shot capacity must be fired. A 70% minimum (18/25, 21/30) must be scored to pass.

Notice that as with the majority of State Qualification Courses for Private Citizens, drawing from the holster is not required. Nevada is not one of the States that forbid drawing from the holster, so I include a little holster work.

The way I did the test was to:

  • Use the -1 zone of the IDPA target. Then, I fold the bottom tapered part up behind the target. This gives an area approximating the FBI QIT target, which I like.
  • Shoot 25 rounds with both guns, even though the LCP would fall into the ‘6 shot of higher capacity’ category. This gives an apples to applies comparison of the two guns.
  • Conduct the first Stage as five individual one shot draws.
  • Do the second and third stages as two individual strings of five shots each.
  • Carry the 642-2 in an AIWB holster, concealed under a polo shirt.
  • Carry the LCP in a pocket holster.
  • Start the draws with hand on gun.
  • Start the Five shot strings with the gun at Low Ready, aimed below the base of the target.

In the end, I was able to achieve slightly better results with the 642-2 (19.87 seconds) than with the LCP (20.71 seconds). I’m not sure a 4% difference is worth writing home to Mom about, though.

NV CFP 642

NV CFP LCP

Both guns were mostly stock. The front sights on both are painted with Fluorescent Orange paint. The LCP has a Hogue Hybrid Handall installed. This makes the gun much more pleasant to shoot and I highly recommend it. The 642-2 wears Sile rubber stocks, which are no longer made, unfortunately. No special trigger work has been done on either, other than a fair amount of dry practice.

In the end, either of these in your pocket will provide more personal protection than some big honking clunky autoloader that gets left home. What’s the best concealed carry handgun? The one you have on you.