Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Dry Fire Practice

Wow, are you seeing a theme with my posts?  Practice this, practice that.  I know, it's getting old, but I cannot emphasize how important practice is.

Today's practice is all about dry firing.  There are people who will scream about how bad dry firing is on the gun.  It's true you should not dry fire a rim-fire gun (such as a .22), as hypothetically you can damage the gun if the firing pin hits the frame.  It is permissible and acceptable practice to dry fire center-fire guns.  If you're really worried about damaging your guns with dry fire, there are "snap caps" that you can purchase specially designed to absorb the force of the firing pin.

Why is dry fire practice so important?

It allows you to learn to comfortably and safely handle your gun (remember to treat all guns as though they are loaded - there are no exceptions to that rule), practice loading and unloading, practice magazine changes and identify any issues with trigger control you might have.

Here's a video of Tara dry firing her new revolver.  A great thing to do when dry firing is to have someone watch for flinching (very noticeable without recoil).  What the observer is looking for is smooth movement throughout the trigger pull, with no movement in the muzzle of the gun.

You'll notice that she's got a good grip on her weapon, both thumbs are pointing at the target (shows she's a semi-auto shooter typically - revolver shooters tend to wrap the thumb of their support hand around the back of the gun) and her trigger pull is smooth the whole way through the act of firing.  She's "shooting" slowly and methodically without lifting her trigger finger off the trigger - she maintains contact with the bang button at all times.  Lifting her finger off of the bang button can lead to "slapping" the trigger (very, very bad).

This week at the range, we'll be working on magazine changes as I've got a match coming up on Sunday and I'm rusty on my mag changes.  More practice, practice and practice.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Range Practice

One of the things that Tara and I do out at the range is practice presenting from the holster.  A wise man (well, actually a couple) drilled it into my head that the first step in proper grip begins while the gun is still holstered.  Getting a good hold on the gun while it's still holsters ensures that you won't have to do any last minute juggling while trying to find your sight picture.

You'll notice in the videos that both Tara and I keep our off hands close to our bodies while drawing from the holster.  The reason for that is so that we don't inadvertently cross ourselves with the muzzle.

Also, you'll see in my video that there's what looks like a slight hesitation before I bring my gun up.  What I'm doing at that time is verifying my target before I bring the gun up into my line of sight.  In competition you can hardly notice the hesitation and my draw looks more fluid, but it's pretty pronounced during practice time when I'm trying to be slow and methodical.

Tara's draw is smoother, without the hesitation (well, it's there, it's just much less noticeable than mine).  However, you'll notice right at the very end of the video that the gun doesn't fit her hand very well and she has to readjust her off hand.  This is her son's gun and his hands are slightly bigger than hers.  That being said, she shot the feces out of this gun.  For a gun that doesn't fit her hand, she can really drill holes with it.

Here's our mental checklist for presenting from the holster:
  • Right hand to gun, get a good grip
  • Left hand to body
  • Pull gun straight out of the holster
  • Rotate the muzzle so that it's parallel to the ground
  • Add left hand to right on the grip
  • Safety off with right hand, thumb settles on top of left thumb, both thumbs pointing at the target
  • As gun comes up into the line of sight*, the booger hook slips off the frame of the gun into the trigger guard and we're ready to push the bang button.
*Bring the gun up into the line of sight, you should be looking at your target and your gun should come up into your vision.  Don't drop your head down to look for your gun.  You know where your arms are on your body.  You know your gun is securely in your hands.  Therefore if you raise your arms, with the gun in your hands, you will bring the gun up into your sight picture and won't have to go looking for it.

Friday, August 27, 2010

You Asked For It

Here's the video y'all were clammoring for.  There have been some comments about how Tara should wear her purse and whether or not a purse carry is appropriate.  The point of the video (and the practice) is get competent with presenting her weapon from the position in which she carries it.  How she carries her gun is her choice (just as it's any of our choice).

What I'm impressed with, besides how smooth she is, is that she's taking the time to ensure that she's competent with it and that she didn't just throw her gun in her purse "just in case" like so many women do.

We were out practicing with multiple weapons that day, so no comments from the peanut galley about why she didn't draw from her hip :)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Practice, Practice, Practice Part II

Last week, after I had an abysmal day at the range, I put up a post about practice.

Friday, my friend Tara (aka GunDiva II) and I went to the range for some of that desperately needed practice. 

She has a little five-shot revolver that she now carries in her purse and we decided that she needed practice drawing and firing from her purse.  While I'm a big proponent of strapping your gun to your side, so that you always have control over it, there are a lot of women who are much more comfortable carrying in their purse.  That's fine as long as you spend the time learning how to draw and fire from your purse, just like you do learning to draw and fire from a holster.  You can't buy a gun (or take the one your well-meaning significant other gives you), throw it in your purse and expect to be able to find and use it when the feces hits the air circulating device.

The first thing we did was take a look at how she normally carries her purse.  She carries it over her left shoulder, hanging straight down.  She's a right-handed shooter, so in order for her to draw from her purse, she had to perform a cross draw.  Luckily, the zipper on her purse had two pulls, so we arranged them so that one pull was secured to her strap and only the other pull would work to open her purse.

Once we had it arranged the way we thought we wanted it, she practiced holding her front strap with her right hand, while pulling open the zipper with her left.  With her left hand out of the way, and her purse open, she then slipped her right hand into her purse and grasped her gun.  She was careful to never cross herself with the muzzle of the gun while she drew from her purse.

Now this is where attitude comes in.  Without even realizing it, the moment her hand closed over her gun, her whole demeanor changed.  She took a step forward as she presented her gun and continued to move forward as she squeezed off all five rounds.  No matter how big you are; if you're a predator hunting what looks like easy prey and that prey attacks back, you're going to re-think your choice.

Over and over, Tara practiced presenting from her purse and dry-firing at the target until she felt comfortable to go live.  Her first run-through from beginning to end took less than three seconds.  That's three seconds to secure and unzip her purse, get a good grip on the gun, present and squeeze off all five rounds while moving forward.  Were all five rounds in a nice half-inch circle?  Nope.  Were all five rounds in center mass?  You betcha.

Next week when we go to the range, I'll be sure to take my video camera.  Until then, keep on practicing.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Practice, Practice, Practice!

Girls, do yourselves a favor.

Don't ever pass up the opportunity to go to the range.  Shooting is a perishable skill and takes constant re-inforcement.  Muscle memory is all well and good, but there is nothing like putting lead down range.

I, myself, have been remiss in partaking in much-needed practice.  When I was shooting regularly a couple of years ago, I finished in the top ten (often top five) in our monthly Defensive Pistol competitions.  At one point, my instructor said that I could draw almost faster than the eye can see.  I was good.  There wasn't a gun that I wouldn't shoot and I was always first to the line to try something new.  The key word in those preceding sentences: was.

I went to out with RockCrawlinChef and his work buddies today for a day of shooting.  It was fabulous - eventually.  I limp-wristed my pistol and had some feed problems; I slapped the trigger and threw my rounds; I second guessed my sight picture; I made mistakes I haven't made in years.  And why?  Not enough range time.  Lack of confidence.  Used to be, I *knew* that I was one of the best at the range.  I know, that even without range time, I can kill whatever I point my gun at.  However, I'd like to do it with only one or two rounds, not one or two magazines.

Last year for a wedding present, one of my shooting buddies gave us a Remington 700 in .223.  It lay dormant under our bed until today.  Last year for my birthday, RCC gave me a 12 gauge Remington 870.  It stood dormant in the closet until today.  The GunDiva of old would never have allowed two perfectly good guns to go neglected for a year. 

I don't know what happened to the old GunDiva, but I'm ready to have her back.  I'll be making a point to get to the range as often as possible - at least once a week between now and September because I'm headed back to Defensive Pistol competition and that's going to take a lot of trigger time (and, sadly, some knuckle push-ups to get my wrist strength back) to not embarrass myself.

So here's today's lesson: Practice, Practice, Practice.

Time to get my booger hook out of my nose and onto my bang button.