Wednesday, May 30, 2012

What can I say...

I was made an offer I could not refuse...and the 96D went away.

Yes, I know I have a problem. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Importance of Short Term Goals

Dot Torture @ 5yd
I have always thought I had a good handle on the importance of goal setting and had always set good performance based goals for myself. In some ways, I guess that is true. I have plenty of performance based goals, like getting master class on the IDPA classifier. Where I think I have missed the boat is with short term goals and what role they play in achieving the overall goal.

After making the decision to try and clean Dot Torture at 7 yards I realized something, I have never set that type of short term goal with a specific end date. All of my goals have always been broader, or if they were specific, open ended. So instead of focusing on something like my reloads for a month or so, I just work my reloads here and there when I feel like it.

Since setting the Dot Torture goal in stone I have noticed a very distinct mental shift. There is much more focus in my practice, whether it be dry-fire or live-fire with a very specific goal in mind (duh). This is what I think specific short term goals are intended to give. that intense training focus. My overall goal could still be something broad, but my short term goal should be something that is specific that I can work on and builds into reaching the overall goal.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Grant Tactical Training

A while back before I ever even started thinking about writing this blog, I worked with a guy who was into shooting almost as much as I was (well...maybe as much). Back then he was more into AR-15's and I was more into handguns. We would debate back and forth about stuff all the time. I picked up quite a few shooting tips from him in the couple months we worked together that I still use today.

Fast forward a couple years and this guy has decided to start his own training business called Grant Tactical Training. He had some solid training before I met him and he hit the training circuit really hard after we parted ways and has gotten his instructor certs from the NRA, just finished getting his instructor cert for Combat Focus Shooting, and has trained under some pretty "high speed" type guys.

I don't think he is teaching classes just yet, but watch his website and his facebook page for updates and information on when he will start. I have feeling he will be a pretty decent guy to train with in the local area.

Also watch the Instructor Profile Series page for more information about him and what he plans to do.

What Words Mean

The terms efficiency and effectiveness get tossed around a lot in the shooting community, which is fine, it is just one of my pet peeves when either one gets misused to further a certain line of logic. Specifically in the context of the reload debate. I will usually hear something along the lines of "We use this reload technique because it is more efficient". I have heard a lot of people say this about using an over the top rack technique for the reload, arguing it is more efficient within a real fight. I don't want to get bogged down into the gross vs. fine motor skill argument, but to understand where most proponents of the over the top rack are coming from, I will summarize it. The argument is fine motor skill will degrade to the extent that operating the slide release in the context of a fight is unreliable. That is why some instructors teach the over the top rack, it is supposedly more reliable at producing the intended result.

Lets think about what efficiency means.

"Accomplishment of or ability to accomplish a job with a minimum expenditure of time and effort."
So being efficient implies being fast (no waste of time) and minimizing movement (minimum espenditure of effort). So in the context of a reload, which is more efficient?

Option #1

Option #2

Option #1 certainly seems faster and to require less effort than option #2. So according the definition of the word, Option #1 is the most efficient.

Now lets talk about Effectiveness.

"Adequate to accomplish a purpose; producing the intended or expected result."
So to be effective the technique just has to accomplish the goal and produce the intended result. It doesn't say anything about being the fastest or least wasteful. I think instructors/shooters who teach/use the over the top rack technique do so because they believe it to be more reliable at accomplishing the goal. Right? I have never seen an argument for using the over the top rack technique say anything about it being faster or requiring less movement and/or effort, it is always about being able to reliably manipulate the gun.

So for those of you out there who espouse the over the top rack technique, effective might be a better word to use instead of efficient. Just sayin'.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Training Update: 5/21/12

It has been a while since I have posted one of these. I hit the range during lunch break today to try out some new carry ammunition and to pay a visit to the indoor range I typically shoot at, but haven't been to since February!!!

I started the day off by running a 3x5 down the range from 7yd to 18yd. Ran some rapid fire drills at 7yd. I wouldn't call them Bill Drills because I varied the number of rounds fired, I was just checking functionality of the new ammo at the speed. I had a premature slide lock during these drills. That is the first time I have experienced that type of malfunction with the 96D, it is something I will have to keep an eye on. I imagine my support hand just slipped up the gun under recoil and activated the slide stop.

After checking function of the new ammo I planned on shooting Dot Torture twice, once at 10ft and once at 21ft (it was a lunch break, so I didn't get to run a bunch of drills) I hit a snag though when I was assigned the #1 lane next to the wall. Due to the way the range has their ventilation running, the lanes next the walls get a lot of movement in their targets at the closer distances. I decided to be over ambitious and go ahead and push the target back to 21ft where it wouldn't move any and try that one first.

I have only shot Dot Torture at 21ft a couple times and I have never done that well. Back when I was running a P226 I think I pulled off a 46/50, which is my best score at that distance. The DA/SA trigger certainly lends itself to me being able to pull off those high demand shots. A DAO Beretta, not so much apparently. At least not yet. Being able to clean Dot Torture at 21ft/7yd is one of my primary shooting goals.

By looking at the target I clearly have the ability to execute my fundamentals well enough to get the hits, I just can't do it consistently. Dot #1 and #2 are good, but I pretty much dropped at least one round on each dot or set of dots after that. The WHO and SHO dots (#5 & #8) really hurt me. Between the two I dropped 5 shots. That is probably an area where I should dedicate some training time. Thinking about it, the only time I shoot WHO or SHO is for Dot Torture and the "300". Might be time to dedicate at least a couple range trips to WHO and SHO work.

After that disappointing try at 21ft, I brought the target back to 10ft and just dealt with the movement.

Normally I can clean Dot Torture at 10ft with zero problems and not a lot of focus. But not this day. I dropped 1 round on dot #8...just barely. That is so frustrating!!

My new short term goal is that by July 15th, 2012 I will be able to clean Dot Torture at 21ft with the 96D. I think that is a reasonable goal, and I should be able to make it.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Grip Debate

Lately I have been waffling back and forth between the awesome Trausch grips that JohnInWA gave me from and the stippled stock grips that I started off with. I think I am going to run the stock grips for a while and get some performance numbers to compare to performance numbers I have while running the Trausch grips. While putting a few rounds down range today with the stock grips installed I was surprised at how the gun handled differently. Just a hunch at the moment, but I think the stock grips may actually work better for me. It will be interesting to find out, and maybe try to figure out why.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Little Sig That Could

I have seen a fair amount of talk lately about the Sig P238. First on Packing Pretty, and then today on Typical Shooter. Both articles are worth reading. Shelley Rae at also occasionally carries a P238 and has spoken highly of it.

My wife carries a P238 as her EDC gun because it is small, easy to shoot, and her other gun is a 1911 for IDPA, so it makes since to carry something similar. I personally don't have a lot of experience with "pocket" sized guns other than a S&W j-frame (if that counts) and a G27 (which doesn't count).

I have not seen enough rounds put through a P238 to make any statements about reliability, and I haven't carried one either (although I think that would be super easy). What I have done is shoot one...a little.

The video is from last year. That is the very first time I touched a P238 and the very first time I pulled the trigger one. I was immediately impressed. That is when I just started shooting at that distance (50 yards) with any pistol.

I wanted to see how different the P238 shoots compared to my normal fair of full-sized handguns. So I talked  my wife into letting me borrow her P238 for a day and take it to the range and get some trigger time on it. I didn't have a ton of ammo, but enough to get a feel for it.

I tried shooting the "300" and it proved difficult. The front sight on the P238 that my wife has is the night sight/fiber optic combo and it is FAT, or at least seemed that way. Getting a precise sight picture on a B8 replacement was problematic because it covered the whole target pretty much. It was a nice sunny day too, and the green fiber optic was nearly blinding me and seemed to make it difficult to get a really hard front sight focus. I don't have any other guns with fiber sights, so maybe if I were more accustomed to it that wouldn't be a problem.

I think there is plenty of potential for precision inherent in the P238 platform. It has real pistol sights, that really work, and while the trigger may not be a tuned 1911 trigger it really isn't that bad.

After a poor attempt at the "300", I decided to go to the other end of the spectrum and run some Bill Drills. This is where having a fiber optic front sight really pays off apparently. The sight really pops and with the minimal recoil of .380 it was easy to track through the drill. Pulling sub 0.20 splits was a piece of cake, and I almost never pull those kind of splits on my other guns unless it is a super close target.

After the Bill Drills I had exhausted my .380 ammo supply, so switched to shooting a real...I mean my normal gun. My general thoughts on the P238 are that it is a good gun, especially if you are looking for a small gun. I would be interested to see how it would run from a holster (I was running everything from a compressed ready position), and over a longer period of time. I doubt many people, if any, have put more than a few hundred rounds through one of these. If my memory serves me right, this one has between 300-500 rounds through it so far.

By virtue of the gun being small, it comes with some issues that have to be worked around too. I run a very high grip with both my shooting hand and my support hand. With the P238 I have to be careful about putting too much thumb pressure on the side of the slide or I will induce a malfunction. If I relied on the gun regularly, I would probably make some changes to how I grip handguns so I wouldn't have to worry about it.

After the gun has been run some more, I will post with additional thoughts. So far I think it is probably the best "pocket gun" from a shootability standpoint that I have messed around with.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Evolution of a Draw Stroke

When I first started shooting I was taught what now I would call poor technique when it comes to the draw stroke. I won't get into the details of it, but it was bad, bottom line. The problem was, at the beginning of my shooting career as I call it, I only had instruction from essentially one person, so it went unchanged. Fast forward a year or so to the point where I started branching out to other instructors and one of the first things to change was my draw stroke.

You can kind of see in this picture how low and away from the torso my support hand would be on the draw.

Typically what would happen is my hands would come together somewhere out in space well in front of my body. Which caused all sorts of consistency issues. The first instructor to really start getting me to change it was Mike Seeklander, then the guys at Range USA in Memphis re-emphasized the need to change my technique, and a couple more instructors since then have reinforced the changes I have made.

You can see in the video below how my draw has changed.

The support hand comes up to the chest area and stays pretty tight until the gun is up and out of the holster. I had one instructor tell me that when he first starting using this type of technique a buddy told him to focus mostly on getting his support hand up as fast as possible and it would speed up the rest of his draw too. Supposedly he shaved right around a second off his draw by focusing more on the support hand. Seems to help me too.

Draw stroke is one of the things I see people who don't have a lot of experience struggle with, and even some people who do have a lot of experience. Deciding on a technique and getting in some dedicated dry-fire practice in from a video camera can make a big difference and allows the shooter to see things that otherwise they wouldn't be able to.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Free Ammo is Good Ammo

Check out this link for a chance to win 400 rounds of Remington UMC .223 from

Reload Comparison

I got bored and used my cell phone to get some video of my over the top reload technique. It varies a little from my usual slide stop/release reload in that the gun drops a little lower when I pull it back to insert the new magazine. I apologize for the poor quality, but my actual camera was in the car and I didn't want to go digging for it. These reloads are smoother than what I can generally accomplish with a Glock.

I didn't have them on the timer, but I am guessing over the top is still slower. You can compare the two above reloads to the reloads in this post and this post.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Some things I think Beretta did better than Glock

Having run the Beretta long enough to get a feel for it I think I am in a position to offer some opinion on a few things I think Beretta executed exceptionally well as compared to the other gun I am most familiar with, a Glock 22.

The slide stop/release on the Beretta is a work of art. It seems to be perfectly placed and is robust enough to offer sure activation even under the pressure of 20lb recoil spring.

I sadly cannot say the same for the Glock slide stop/release. It is still workable, especially on Gen4 Glocks where it seems to protrude a little more than on older Generations. Sure there are parts out there on the market to alleviate this issue somewhat, but Beretta comes with it out of the box.

The slide serrations on the Beretta 96D are superb. I understand this may not quite be the same with a FS or G model Beretta, but on the D model, the serrations are great. They seem to offer a much better purchase than the Glock serrations that are relatively shallow and spaced much further apart. I am sure there is some formula calculating perpendicular surface area contact to the hand that could explain it better than my words. I first realized how inferior the Glock slide serrations were when I started shooting a P226 which has serrations very similar to the Beretta.

And then there is one of Glocks greatest attributes, and also one of the most annoying. Polymer encased magazines!!! Glock magazines are probably some of the most durable on the market, but they are FAT, they don't like to fall free as quickly as their all metal counterparts, and they don't have much of a tapper at the top. All of this starts to create problems on the reload. It can be mitigated some with technique, but I have on more than one occasion had to wait on an empty Glock magazine to clear the mag well before I could insert a fresh one. I have found all metal magazines to be much more agreeable with the reload.

I am not saying I don't like Glocks, because I do. There are a lot of things Glock does well, but I am appreciating more and more some of the non-Glock attributes of other handguns.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


Many thanks to White Tiger Tactical Supply for hooking me up with some new grip screws for my 96D. He has been working the local gun show circuit pretty hard and just recently started getting his website up and running. If you shop local, keep an eye out for Phil at the gun shows, if you shop online check out his website. He is a squared away guy who stands behind his product.

Found a Gem

Anyone who has spent a lot of time behind a DAO trigger knows that trigger control can be a little more challenging than with other designs like striker fired, DA/SA or SAO guns. I spend a lot of time working on trigger control with my 96D. I ran across these couple of videos from Haley Strategic while surfing the 'tube a few days ago. Pay attention to what is said around the 5:15 mark in the part 1 video. I am experimenting with it in dry fire and will see how it plays out in live fire when I get a chance.

Monday, May 7, 2012

EDC Knife

Inspired by Caleb Giddings post A Man Without a Knife over on gunnuts here is a picture of my EDC knife. It isn't as "tacticool" as what most gun guys carry I am sure, but it fills the utilitarian role pretty good. Comes in handy when working on a gun too.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Slide Release vs. Over the Top Rack

During the Combat Focus Shooting course a few days ago the instructor stressed using an over the top rack to release the slide on a slide lock reload. When I first started shooting, this is what I was taught. The argument when I first learned it, and the argument used during the Combat Focus Shooting course was that the over the top rack technique is a gross motor function, whereas using the slide release is a fine motor function and in a high stress situation fine motor function decreases because blood is drawn into the core of the body. There is a lot of debate over whether or not that is true, and I prefer not to get into that aspect of it.

The other side of the coin is that before we can hit the slide release, we have to pull the trigger and activate the magazine release, which are also "fine" motor functions. So logic dictates that if I can get to the point where I need to use the slide release, I should be able to use it.

When I started getting serious about my shooting and I began putting more effort into skill development I dropped the over the top rack method of the reload in favor of using the slide release. I have been running my gun that way ever sense.

Seeing as how most of my skill development has taken place in that year or so since then, I am re-evaluating reload techniques. Not necessarily because I think one method is particularly superior to the other, just because I am curious so see what happens. I am really curious to see if I can consistently break 2 seconds using the over the top technique.

Yesterday I hit the range and ran several reloads to compare the time differential. I was shooting at an 8.5"x11" sheet of paper at 7yds and started with running the over the top rack method 11 times after a brief warm up. I followed that with 11 reloads using my preferred method of using the slide release. I was running a G22, which I do not reload as well as my Beretta.

1r1 Over Top Rack
1r1 Slide Release
Avg. 2.35
Avg. 2.08

Despite my better judgement, I am going to run the over the top method for the next couple months and then compare again and see what changes, if anything. Another aspect of the reload I will be evaluating is whether or not to look the magazine into the gun. The basic argument presented in the Combat Focus Shooting material is that looking will cause more fumbles and slow me down in the long run because I am trying to process the manipulation. If I don't look, and just do it, it will be smoother and theoretically faster. The best analogy I can come up with is typing on a keyboard. If I look at the keyboard when I type I tend to type slower. If I don't look, I actually speed up. The problem with the argument is it assumes you have the skill and knowledge of the keyboard to type without looking in the first place. We will see what happens.

Shotgun Dry Fire

Saf T Trainers
The shotgun is a manipulation intensive platform. There are a lot of complex functions that have to be performed by the shooter in order to run the shotgun to its potential. That makes it an ideal candidate for an intensive dry fire program. I can work complex manipulations dry and then performance check on the range with live fire. This allows me to keep most of my live fire focused on pistol shooting, but verify performance on the shotgun and identify areas that may need more work.

Some of the manipulations that I practice dry are shoulder transitions, shooting from behind cover, combat and tactical reloads, plus 1 and plus 2 slug select and shooting on the move.

It is critically important that with any dry-fire routine a strict safety protocol be followed. All live ammunition should be removed from the training area and only easily identifiable dummy rounds should be used. The firearms should be verified to be empty visually and physically multiple times before starting the routine. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Pre-Practice Prepping

I usually keep a fairly busy schedule so my range time is usually held to 1 or 2 hour sessions at the most and sometimes less. What I do before going to the range is just as important as what I do at the range because it is what sets me up for either success or failure. I will usually have my game plan put together a couple days in advance of going to the range. I will know what drills I want to do and in what order, how much ammo I need, and any other gear I need. Generally I will write down my drills in a notebook and leave spaces for any extra information that might need to be added like PAR times, etc.

Preparing like this allows me to get the most I possibly can out of my time and resources.