Thursday, March 11, 2010

Caution: Contents Perishable.

I'm a moderately active pistol shooter. In the last two years I've taken two three-day handgun courses, one with Todd Jarrett at Blackwater and one with Louis Awerbuck here in Indiana. Over that time I've participated in maybe as many as a dozen bowling pin matches. I get to the range once a week and, given the confines of the range rules, attempt to maintain proficiency with basic skills, such as strong- and weak-hand only drills, reloads, and suchlike.

However, this stuff needs to stay current. Due to a confluence of events, I only hit the range once between the middle of January and last weekend's range trip with Caleb. It showed. Especially on the draw; you can practice the motions of the drawstroke "dry" 'til the cows come home (and I do need to get more use out of my blue gun...) but it's not the same as shooting from leather with live ammo, which I hadn't done since the Awerbuck course last summer. Time spent with .22 trainers is valuable for sight alignment and trigger control, but it doesn't simulate recoil control with the full-size pistol, which is a major component of rapid-fire shooting.

I seriously need to make a point of trying to get out to Wildcat Valley with Shootin' Buddy at least once a month, or else get a membership at MCF&G here in town. Or both.

Standing in a booth in an indoor shooting range is training for a pistol fight the way sitting in your garage and moving your car's shift lever around with the engine off is training for Le Mans.


Matt G said...

If your range won't let you draw from leather, make sure you have another range for anything beyond function testing and sight-in.

Once a gun/load combo are sighted in and verified reliable, shooting from non-field position or from non-field carry is just really loud masturbation.

Caleb said...

Once a gun/load combo are sighted in and verified reliable, shooting from non-field position or from non-field carry is just really loud masturbation.

I'm so stealing that.

Anonymous said...

Or maybe it is just enjoying your hobby. I think Sigmund Freud said that sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

Quigley said...

Atlanta Conservation Club - Ask Caleb about it.

Tam said...

"Atlanta Conservation Club - Ask Caleb about it."

Been there; MCF&G is a lot closer for me.

Tam said...

"Or maybe it is just enjoying your hobby."

This is true.

As long as I'm under no illusions about why I'm there. (And, I'll hasten to add, even shooting for pleasure can help the other; to continue the analogy from my post, you do have to know how to shift gears to race. :) )

Earl said...

Yep, what she said, and I'll need a double.

staghounds said...

You say sitting in your garage and moving your car's shift lever around with the engine off like there's something wrong with it.

Tam said...

"You say sitting in your garage and moving your car's shift lever around with the engine off like there's something wrong with it."

Heh. Like I've never done it. And made little motor noises while doing so. ;)

jason said...

You're right, but I sometimes wonder about if it's right to preach this so much. We send out a mixed message, don't we ("we" being the gun community)? On the one hand we say a gun is the only thing my ___ year old nana can use to defend herself and on the other we say if you're not dropping five grand a year on training courses and another couple thousand at the range, you're not doing it right. And a smart anti-gunny (okay, they don't exist--how about clever?) could use that to up the requirements for permits, ownership, etc.

(of course this is really just me wishing i could afford such things)

atlharp said...

Maybe having Caleb drag you to a couple of matches wouldn't hurt either. You know you want to see Marty Mall Ninja get beat by a girl! ;-)

I know what you mean about the full sized pistol thing. I spent the better part of last week shooting .22 during a Steel Challenge match and I can see that might sight realignment is not the same. Trigger control is good, but I need that time with the the full-sized pistol to cope.

GuardDuck said...

I spent 15 years in the security industry. During that time I attended a bunch of courses, including courses taught by Ayoob, Hackathorn, Taylor and Cirillo. I would attend at least two weekend classes a year. I was an RSO for my partner who taught the state armed security course once a week and I would take that opportunity at the range to practice weekly.

I'm not saying that to toot my horn, but rather to show that I was a pretty active in increasing and maintaining my shooting skills.

About four years ago I left the industry and I hadn't pulled a trigger for 3 1/2 years. Nada, zilch, nothing.

Six months ago I had to get back into security and went to re-up my armed license. About a half dozen in the class and none were advanced shooters, a couple were practically newbies.

The qualifier is the same as the state requires for a police qualifier - so we all know it's pretty easy :)

I passed, not even breaking a sweat. In fact I scored better than the rest. But I looked at my results with a bit of dismay to see how poorly I shot in comparison to how I used to knew I coulda.

But even the newbies were able to shoot well enough to have done a credible job of self defense comparable to something my ___ year old nana could use to defend herself.

Yeah, they are perishable skills. But it's a matter of degree. Shades of competence, not black and white. It's like riding a bike. You don't forget how, but without serious training you aren't riding the Tour de France either. That also doesn't mean you can't ride your two-wheeler effectively around Broadripple.

Anonymous said...

guard duck is right! You might get rusty but, you never forget your basic skills and they quickly come back to you. And Matt G. I love the quote!!! If you have never shot from field carry you realy need to, the orgasm is fantastic!!


TheOtherLarry said...

No matter which way you go or how often, it's still projectile therapy!


Anonymous said...


Forget the hypothetical (mythical?) smart anti-gunny. Do such arguments discourage the newbies? And should newbies be discouraged?

Although I was very active in the gun-rights movement in the late twentieth century, I have become apathetic over the past several years, for at least two reasons:

(1) The lack of any convenient place to shoot. Even when gas was $1.something/gallon and ammo was pennies per round, the time and distance required to go shooting makes it something of an all-day trip. It's hard enough for me to justify, and nearly impossible for my friends with family obligations.

Case in point 1: Billll finally talked me into participating in a bowling pin shoot (pictures here). Although I really enjoyed the competition, it was less than 10 minutes of actual shooting, with about 3 - 4 hours of standing around between my turns. Add in the hour plus drive each way, and it was not an efficient use of my time. (That, and losing to Billll after I had a very strong start in the match was humiliating ;-)

Case in point 2: Because of the lack of places to shoot, I know people who shoot only once a year (because I take them with me). Year after year, I have to end up explaining the same things over and over, because whatever they learned last time they went shooting has been forgotten. I'm not talking about skill level, but basic operation. My observations are not the same as Guard Duck's (above) about them being credibly able to defend themselves, as much as I wish otherwise. It's not like riding bicycle. It also means that my scarce range time is not spent working on my skills.

You might remember an e-mail going around about 10 years ago, saying that "In Order To Believe in Gun Control, You Have To Believe ... That a handgun, with up to 4 controls, is far too complex for the typical adult to learn to use, as opposed to an automobile that only has 20." The author of that quip overlooked that most of us have been operating a motor vehicle every day since our 16th birthday, hence our driving "skills" don't perish. By contrast, I'd wager that most gun owners don't shoot even 1/365 as much as much as they drive.

(2) There are many aspects of gun-club /gun-range culture that make shooting a non-enjoyable activity; too many to list here. And I say that as somebody who likes to shoot; and is fortunate enough to be a member of a rare gun club where most of my complaints don't apply.

We often forget than many gun owners, or potential gun owners, are not "into" guns as much as we are, and are not -- and should not -- be willing to put up with the crap we do to enjoy our hobby.

I believe that the lack of convenient, economical, and enjoyable places to shoot is going to harm gun rights and the gun culture in the long run far more than anything Sarah Brady or Chuck Schumer can do. Demographics and urban/suburban development our working against us.

Anonymous said...

"It's not like riding bicycle." Disagree. It's also not rocket surgery to be able to defend your self with a firearm. These folks you speak of who don't retain the knowledge from year to year appear to be un-motivated. Perhaps a simpler mechanism or a dose of motivation would help. Several years back, our local gun rights group did a pretty through search for civilian self-defense shootings. We were trying to document that our onerous state mandated training was flawed (we did and it is, nothings changed). The old "3 shots, 3 yards, 3 seconds" shibboleth is still fairly accurate, with realizing an assault is imminent being a big key to winning/surviving. Point is, one does not have to be a IPSC Grand Master to defend your self.

Tam, the IDPA Classifier has a few tricky (needs to be gamed to raise your score) aspects that make it suspect in my mind as a yardstick.

Al T

Anonymous said...

"Perhaps a simpler mechanism or a dose of motivation would help."

(1) That's why I've become a proponent of revolvers. Somebody who rarely shoots will still be able to pick one up years later, point and click, without having to remember any other controls. It's a very intuitive user interface.

I just wish the Smith & Wesson Model 10 didn't cost so much. Those mythical $200 used police revolvers I read about on the gun forums don't show up often enough to be a practical suggestion. Whereas used Glocks in much better condition can be found all day long for around $400.

I also wish Colt would bring back the .38 D-frame, and sell it with a 3" barrel at a reasonable price to attract newbies.

And if wishes were horses, I'd be eating steak every day.

(2) As I stated above, a supply of convenient, economical, and pleasant places to shoot would be "a dose of motivation," or at least a lack of discouragement.

Think of the gun culture as a business; is it up to the customers to accommodate us, or the other way around?

If we demand that people who are interested in becoming gun owners and shooters -- but only marginally interested, not "into" it as we are -- to put up with the crap we're willing to, they will lose interest. And the gun culture will go out of business, or at best, limp along.