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Monday, April 30, 2012

Combat Focus Shooting - Tom DuPriest

Tom DuPriest is a Combat Focus Shooting instructor who is local to my area and when I heard he was offering the course locally I jumped on the opportunity to take it since Rob Pincus doesn't make the rounds in my neck of the woods. I knew some about Combat Focus Shooting before hand, and keep up with Rob Pincus a little and think some of his stuff is pretty solid. I was a bit hesitant taking the course from someone other than Pincus, but it was convenient.

The Combat Focus Shooting course that I attended was hosted by Last Resort Firearms Training in White Hall, AR, also about 30 minutes away from where I live. This is the first time I had been there and other than being a little hard to find because it is tucked back into the woods it is a pretty decent place to shoot. From what I understand the only open to the public shooting they have are monthly IDPA matches, everything else is either a course they are hosting, a course they are teaching, or personal instruction by appointment. Otherwise, they do not allow people to just show up and shoot. They had three bays, all about the same size at around 15-20 yards deep and 15-20 yards wide. Big enough to do most things with a pistol as long as you didn't have too many people on the line at a time. There was a class room as well, but we didn't make use of it and I didn't take the time to check it out. Mike and Ed Monk who run Last Resort were also in the class and by far were the most skilled shooters there.

Tom Dupriest is the owner/operator of Shoothouse USA in Conway, AR . I have not been to his range to shoot so I cannot speak to it directly but I have second hand information that it is a pretty decent place to go shooting. Worth checking out if you live in the Conway area I am sure. He also offers courses at Shoothouse USA that are probably worth looking into if you want some training.

I place a lot of emphasis on instructor quality or teaching ability when I attend courses because I believe an instructor will make or break a course. Generally speaking, most good firearms courses have a lot of over lap in terms of course material so it isn't always that you learn something completely new, but that the instructor did a better job of teaching it. From a teaching stand point, the best instructor I have trained under is Mike Seeklander. Not because his course material was necessarily any different than anyone else's, but because his teaching ability was more developed.

For this class I thought Tom did a pretty good job. Is he a Mike Seeklander or Todd Green? Not in my opinion, but he is pretty good and I imagine will get even better with time. As far as instructors in the central Arkansas area go I would say he is near the top of the pile. He has enough understanding and knowledge to back up what he teaches. If you have a question about something that is being taught, or why it is being taught a certain way he generally has an well thought out explanation. Up to you if you buy into the explanation or not. The only thing I like to see in an instructor that Tom did not do is live fire demonstrations. He would demo a skill dry, usually at a slower pace so that students could track the skill which is good but I also like to see drills run live at near full speed so that the students can see what it is supposed to look like in real time. This also lends a touch of credibility to the material showing that it can be done, and also to the instructor. I understand the danger of fumbling a demo, but I think the reward outweighs the risk. Personally I think if an instructor fumbles a demo as long as they recognize it, use it as a teaching point and re-demo the skill correctly it doesn't hurt anything.

As for the Combat Focus Shooting course material. From my perspective it isn't anything special. I do not think I came out of the class knowing anything that I didn't already know going in or with any significant improvement. There is a lot of balance of speed and precision shooting and cognitive processing drills which are all good drills and the weapon manipulations are generally sound but if I were to rename the course to something other than Combat Focus Shooting I would call it Defensive Handgunning 101.

I would recommend this course to a relatively new shooter who has a basic grasp of fundamental shooting concepts. For someone with a solid training background and well developed skill level I think the resources could probably be better invested somewhere else. There were perfect examples of this in the course itself. Some shooters who coming into the course were not as skilled showed improvement, others who came into the course already at a relatively high skill level didn't show significant improvement. If you are a well rounded, well developed shooter with good fundamentals, an existing understanding of balancing speed and precision, good cognitive processing skills, sound weapon manipulation skills and good movement skills then that $700 ($400 course fee, 1,200 rounds of ammo) could probably be put to better use somewhere else.So if you are a relatively new shooter who has a good grasp of fundamental shooting but not much beyond that, then it might be a good place to invest $700.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

BERETTA DOWN...Sorta

Screw head and shank.
I pulled my Beretta 96D apart the other day to change out a couple springs and give it a "deep cleaning". This was my first time taking it apart that far, and my first time trying to replace some of the more difficult springs. Accomplished that with no problems, then tightening down the last grip screw...it snapped! So, I have to order a new grip screw and probably the more difficult part is going to be getting the broken screw out. It is really a minor problem that in a pinch could probably be fixed with a well placed piece of uber tactical 100mph tape. The Beretta will be down for a couple weeks just because I am too busy right now to mess with it. Work has me all over the place. Until then, I will be pulling out the Glock.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

"Tactical" Piggy Bank

Shooting can be an expensive hobby, but still a hobby so other things get prioritized above it. Like the power bill, or gas in the car to get to work. It is just the way life is. So sometimes it is about putting aside the little things to pay for the hobby, like the change in your pocket.

At the end of the year who knows, there might be enough change stashed away in that little dude to pay for a good handgun class, a new gun, or a case of ammo.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Shotgun vs. AR-15

Six rounds from an AR-15
Over at gunnuts.net, Caleb Giddings started up a pretty decent firestorm with his post about if the shotgun is still a viable defensive firearm. To get in on the conversation and read Caleb's thoughts check it out here. While I am pretty much in agreement, I think that if you pose the question a little differently you can see the other side of the coin. If you change the question around so that it ask what can an AR-15 do that the shotgun cannot do I think you can catch a glimpse of why the shotgun is still a viable defensive option.

I have spent a few days thinking about this, and  the only thing I am coming up with that an AR-15 can do and a shotgun can't is the AR-15 has more precision and practical range. It is pretty easy to hit moderate sized targets with an AR-15 out on the other side of 300 meters. Guys in the military do it all the time. But what use is that to the guy who is just running the gun in a home defense role?

Sure, an AR-15 is easier to shoot, but the shotgun is cheaper to shoot, cheaper to buy, and potentially cheaper to maintain. It is like I have said before, a shotgun is better than a handgun, and cheaper than either a handgun or rifle. In essence, the shotgun bridges the gap between handgun and rifle while being the most economical. Is it the "best"...of course not, but neither is anything else.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Cross Dominance

Julie Golob posted a shooting tip on her blog in regard to cross dominance shooting and suggested, at least in regard to handguns that cross dominant shooters just move the gun over in front of the dominant eye when shooting.

I just happen to be a cross dominant shooter, so here is a video from some dry-fire practice I was doing a couple weeks back showing how the gun moves in front of my dominant eye like Julie Golob suggested.






Back to the Pistol


Dot Torture & 3yd - 50/50
I was able to get some time behind my handgun again finally. I was at an outdoor range where I could move and shoot, so most of my time was spent working that skill area since I so rarely get to. I did shoot Dot Torture twice, once from 3 yards that I cleaned 50/50 and again from 5 yards that I didn't clean (46/50). Looking back on notes and just thinking back on past practice sessions it seems like that after about 200-300 rounds I reach a fatigue threshold where my fundamental accuracy will start to suffer. I have noticed from shooting my G22 for a couple weeks a while back and then switching back to the 96D that the Beretta's recoil impulse feels significantly greater. Not sure why that is, but I am sure there is some reason grounded in physics, I am just not enough of a physicist to know.

It was also time to switch out recoil springs. I have been running a 20lb spring for the past 3,000 rounds downrange and outside of some teething issues that can be attributed to weak mag springs at the beginning of the run I have only had one malfunction. The old spring had definitely started to take a set, and was approximately a half inch shorter than the new 20lb spring that I installed. I also had 2 malfunctions in the 200 rounds fired on the new spring, both 180gr Remington UMC that nose dived into the feed ramp, from the same magazine, in the same string of fire. The magazine was a Mec-Gar 10 rounder that I use as a training/match magazine. It had been a rock solid magazine until that point. I ran another 50 rounds through the same magazine and couldn't replicate the malfunction. The range deck is sand and I had been doing several reloads throughout the day and could hear a grittiness in the magazine when loading them up. It could just be a dirty magazine, or it could be the new 20lb spring is a little too strong. I am thinking an 18lb spring might be a more reliable weight, at least on the front end. At my next spring replacement I will probably try running an 18lb spring.

My highlight for the day was getting to shoot the Glock 23 that I stippled for a friend in the first part of January. This was my first time running rounds through a polymer framed gun that had been stippled. I have stippled grips on my 96D, but it still isn't quite the same. I have to say, the stippling makes a huge difference. It was a pleasure to shoot, and my performance with it was better than I anticipated. It kind of made me want to get my hands on a G17, stipple it, and start running it in matches.





Monday, April 9, 2012

FAST with a shotgun

I tried this, it didn't work so well. I shot 6 times and ended up with 12 holes. I really didn't think that through very well.


Need to try it again with a different type of slug. I think all the same principles apply.  

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Not All Shotshells are Created Equal

Federal Tactical 9 pellet 00 buckshot w/flite control wad. Shot
from 15yd using Mossberg 500 with 18.5" cylinder bore barrel.
Every now and then I hear people talking about, or read about people using whatever shotgun ammunition they can get for cheap in their shotgun. For practice, or plinking, no problem. Shoot up the cheapest stuff you can find, I sure do. But when it comes time to stoke the gun for home defense use, or duty use if you are not issued departmental ammunition, feed it something good. What "good" entails depends on which philosophical camp of the shotgun you fall in. The one that says bigger pattern is better, or the one that says a smaller pattern is better.

I personally fall into the smaller is better
category (more on that later), so I tend towards stuff that will pattern pretty tight. Now there are some higher end custom guns out there that will pattern really well, from really far away (comparatively speaking), and then there are guns like mine that are bottom dollar junkyard dogs that go bang when you pull the trigger and that is about it. If you are running a gun like mine, look hard at Federal's buckshot loads with Flite Control wad, or Hornady's buckshot loads with Versa-Tite wad. Both wads are essentially the same thing, and accomplish the same mission.
Remington 2 3/4 inch 00 buckshot. Shot from 15yd using
Mossberg 500 with 18.5" cylinder bore barrel.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Birdshot for HD...

In today's The Tactical Wire, Rich Grassi has an article about using birdshot in home defense shotguns as a viable option because of the close range nature of most home defense situations. I am not one to disagree with someone who I am very confident knows more than I do, but one component of the argument that seems to be missing is the speed at which birdshot can stop a fight.

A while back I was talking with a local police detective about some of the gang shootings in the area and this same topic came up. He related a story of a shooting victim that was shot at close range with birdshot (don't know what size) and it left a nice gaping wound in the victims shoulder, but didn't put him down. A .380 to the foot that broke some critical bones put the guy on the ground. A contact shot to the head from the shotgun scrambled his brain, but still didn't kill him.

The same detective told me of a call he responded to where a guy had been shot in the abdomen at close range with a 12ga shotgun loaded with birdshot. When the detective arrived on scene several minutes later, the guy was still conscious, still coherent, and had he wanted to or needed to, still able to fight.

A lot of my firearms training has come from law enforcement type guys, and one in particular who had nearly 30 years on the local PD SWAT team when talking about the shotgun said the fastest he ever saw anyone die was when they took a round of buckshot to the torso.

I have no doubt that birdshot can be a fight stopper, but when "time is life" like the Magpul guys like to say, I would rather err on the side of stopping the fight sooner rather than later. I have always been told "bullets don't work well", so I am going to do everything in my power to stack the odds in my favor. If I could call in indirect fire support while I bunker down, I would do it.