Friday, September 23, 2011

Shooting with the Hubby

RockCrawlinChef and I don't get to shoot together nearly often enough.  In fact, I don't recall that the two of us have ever gone shooting just the two of us.  We've shot matches together; we've gone out to the range with various family annd friends, but I don't think we've ever gone out alone.

Last weekend, we took a short roadtrip to Cabela's and two new rifles joined our family: a Remington 700 SPS .308 and a Henry Survival Rifle .22 LR.  We've been anxiously awaiting today to try them out.  We're headed to Nebraska in January with a group from the gun shop to hunt and "needed" a hunting rifle, so we managed to justify the .308.  For the Steel Challenge, RCC wanted to shoot his AR-7, so I ordered extra magazines.  Turns out the magazines are not interchangeable.  The ones I bought fit the Henry, not the Armalite (which is the one he had at his parents' house).  Well, darn, we now had five magazines and no rifle, which is why we "had" to buy the Henry.

I really love the new rifle, too bad I need a visit to the eye doctor.

Dang water bottle was hidden behind a very dangerous cactus.

Dancing an empty water bottle about 30 yards out.

RCC killing the reactive target at about 175 yards

I don't know, you think he likes the new rifle?
I had such a good time on my shooting date with my husband; I think I'll try it again tomorrow at the Steel Challenge.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Missing FATS

I'm not able to go to Writers' Police Academy this year.  Yes, I had planned on going and had even paid my registration.  But, turns out, I can't afford to actually make the cross-country trek to WPA.  I'm definitely depressed about it and in my fit of melancholy, dug through my posts from last year's WPA.  I think the thing I'm going to miss most this year is FATS training - the FATS instructor had promised me the M4 for this year's training, so I'm pouting a little bit about not going.  AnyGunDiva'sacrybaby, here's my post from last year's FATS training in case any of you missed it.

You know, with a nickname like GunDiva, people kinda expect me to know one end of a gun from the other and, you know, be able to shoot said gun(s).  And I can.  Unless it's FATS training and both Jeffery Deaver and Lee Lofland are in the room watching my group.

I can honestly say, though, that once the scenarios started I forgot they were there.

Everything Mrs Mom's DH (Anonymous) wrote in the comments section of yesterday's pop quiz is true. 

  • The whole losing 50% of your fine motor skills.  Check.  Lost some fine motor skills. 
  • The whole shooting until the threat is stopped.  Check.  Did that - of course, the scenario didn't end until the bad guy was neutralized. 
  • The whole attitude is everything.  Check.  I can grip and present a gun with the best of them.  Couldn't hit anything, but, man, if attitude would have taken down the bad guys, I wouldn't have ever needed to squeeze the trigger.
I've shot Defensive Pistol off and on for a long time; I've been under pressure from the clock and other competitors.  But that didn't do much to prepare me for FATS.  I had a hard time interacting with the screen - screaming alpha commands at it just wasn't working for me.  Lucky for me, one of the girls in my group had that down pat.  In Defensive Pistol, it's just one person killing all the bad guys.  Makes for a bad team player when grouped with others.  So, #1 and #4, I apologize for being a bit scattered.

I did okay with most scenarios, but there was one that raised my frustration level like you wouldn't believe.  The scenario was that we were called to a wholesale warehouse (like Sam's Club or CostCo) where a man with a shotgun was confronting an employee.  My frustration came when we couldn't get the person who called to shut up and get out of the way, then we were moved through the aisles until we came to the end of one.  I found myself peeking around the corner just like I would in a match, but the camera took us into full view of the bad guy.  #1 killed him dead; I followed a shot or two behind.

I was completely disoriented by the camera movement; in matches, we're expected to move around the course, standing still and being moved by the camera view was just plain weird.  By the end of our eight million scenarios, I'd adapted to the camera movement and was doing better.

The other thing that frustrated me about FATS training was the lack of immediate feedback when firing.  I squeezed the trigger and had no idea where my bullet went.  I know that sounds horrible, and it was horrible.  Any time a gun is fired, the shooter should know where the bullet went.  I thought I had my sight picture lined up and I know I wasn't jerking the trigger, but I consistently was a little high on playback. 

Despite my disorientation with the camera movement and my frustration with not knowing where my bullets were going, I loved FATS training.  It was excellent for shoot/no shoot training and made me really analyze what I was doing and why.  There were people that I didn't shoot (and correctly, it turns out) because they didn't feel like a threat, but I couldn't articulate why I chose not to shoot them.  However, I can absolutely understand why people would shoot them; their actions could absolutely be interpreted as aggressive or dangerous.

In the half hour we had with FATS, we must have shot seven or eight scenarios.  I can happily say that I did get better with every scenario and that I had an *amazing* head shot on a bad guy holding a baby in a car seat in one arm and swinging a machete with the other.  I fired one round and killed him dead.  I am also thrilled to say that no one in my group was killed or shot an innocent.

I thought we were going to get to see Jeffery Deaver shoot - apparently, he's quite the competitive shooter - but we moved onto the next round of simulation training, the VirTra simulator.

With the VirTra simulator, we all got to shoot individually and I LOVED IT!  It may be that we got to start off shooting steel poppers.  I love shooting steel poppers.  Doing so gave me a chance to get to know my weapon and gain confidence.  Again, I had trouble giving alpha commands to a screen, but I had a blast shooting the bad guys.

One scenario completely threw me for a loop.  I was called to remove an employee who had been fired, but was refusing to leave the building.  He was standing at his former desk, with a cardboard box of his belongings on the desk and he was flat-out refusing to leave the premises.  The problem was that I was giggling because all I could think of was the movie "Office Space" - I just wanted to give him his red Swingline stapler and usher him out the door.  Instead, he reached in the box and pulled out a Glock.  I knew he was going to eat lead a split second before he did.  I hesitated, not wanting to shoot him and be involved in a "suicide by cop" situation.  In the moment of my hesitation, he shot himself.  "Oh Shit," was all I could say.  That scenario was set up for failure - either I shot him to neutralize the threat or I let him shoot himself - either way he ended up dead.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Lessons Learned

Now that the euphoria of completing an entire match weak-handed has faded, I can take a look back at the videos and critique them.

First, my grip sucked.  I should have re-read our post on proper grip.  Being so right hand dominant, I can see that my discomfort with using my left hand impacted my grip.  I did not hold it like I owned it and it showed with feed failures.  I worked like crazy on getting the proper grip while in the holster and throughout my presentation (draw), which explains why I never had a feed failure while shooting my first magazine.  However, I obviously didn't maintain that grip during/after magazine changes (or, in the case of Stage 1, after switching hands back and forth).

Because I didn't have a proper grip, I couldn't control my muzzle flip, which increased my time to get back on target.

Second, as a general rule, I shoot using a Weaver/Modified Weaver stance (the differences between the two are so subtle, most people can't distinguish them).

When I looked at the videos, though, I noticed that left-handed, I gravitated toward the Isosceles stance.

The debate over which is the superior stance is a post for a different day, but my point is that it's not a stance I normally use, which also played a part in my slow-as-molasses-ness in acquiring my sight picture.

I had intended to shoot the match and be done with shooting weak-handed.  The problem is, I've got a lot of work to do.  Am I confident I can hit what I'm aiming at weak-handed?  You bet.  But can I do it in a timely manner? Not so much.  RCC pointed out last night, as he was watching the videos, that I need to work on speed.  The bad guys would have killed me five or six times over by the time I got my first round off.  He's right.

Questions for you: Do you work on specific skills when out at the range or do you just go out "to play"?  Do you set shooting goals for yourself?  If so, what are your shooting goals?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Defensive Pistol 9-4-11 (warning: long post, picture and video heavy)

I've been talking about shooting an entire match weak-handed for a couple of months, but hadn't done it yet.  The last month I planned on shooting weak-handed, the person I was going to borrow the holster from couldn't find one and I ended up shooting it strong-handed (I'm a righty).  Then I was at HCR for the following month.  This time, instead of planning on borrowing a left-handed holster, I just bought one.  I've practiced with it exactly twice.  Did I have a whole month to practice?  Yep.  Did I?  Just twice.  Have I mentioned I'm a procrastinator?

Nevertheless, this morning, I loaded up with my left-handed holster and left my right-handed ones at home.  That way I couldn't chicken out at the last second and procrastinate again.

Stage 1
Starting position: seated in pickup, handgun loaded and holstered,hands on steering wheel, seatbelt on.
Course of fire: remove seatbelt, engage P1 & P2 from inside the pickup; engage T1 - T3 from across the truck bed and P3, P4 and T4 from the back bumper. 8 total targets.

Here's the video.  Just a note, the gun wasn't malfunctioning - I was.  Every time it didn't go into battery was because I was limp-wristing it.  Totally my fault.  It only happened once or twice (or three or four times).  Each flipping stage.

Stage 2
Starting position: loaded, holstered handgun, standing in the shooting box, hands at side.
Course of fire: engage targets from either side in tactical order: right side standing behind cover; left side behind cover, shooting under the "wall".  8 total targets.

Here's the video.  I'm pretty happy that I was able to hit the steel plates that were hidden behind the good guys without hitting the good guys.

Stage 3
Starting position: shooter in box A, handgun loaded and holstered, arms at side.
Course of fire: shooter steps into box b (pink outlined area), engages T1 - T11 in any order; do not shoot the good (white) guys.  11 total targets.

This stage scared the bejeezus out of me!  Do you see how many good guys there are?  Nine good guys, eleven bad guys.  Yikes.

Stage 4
Starting position: shooter in shooting box, handgun loaded and holstered.
Course of fire: Three strings: 1) engage T1 & T2 in tactical sequence (one each and then clean up with a second round each), shooting free style; 2) engage T1 & T2 in tactical sequence, strong hand only; 3) engage T1 & T2 in tactical sequence from low-ready, weak hand only. 6 total targets.

This one looks (and felt backward) because my "strong" arm today is actually my weak arm in real life.

Stage 5
Starting position: shooter behind door, strong hand on door knob, handgun loaded and holstered.
Course of fire: open door with strong hand only, draw and engage visible targets in any order; targets hidden behind the "walls" must be shot in tactical order (slicing the pie). 11 total targets.

Yep, the limp wrist strikes again.  I like the beginning of this run, but I can't seem to get the rhythm after the magazine change.

Side match: Rifle
Starting position: shooter behind the door, rifle loaded, muzzle in a safe position.
Course of fire: open door with strong hand only, draw and engage visible targets in any order; targets hidden behind the "walls" must be shot in tactical order (slicing the pie). 14 total targets.

This is a long video - I was going to edit it down, but I had too much fun shooting the stage to want to cut any of it out.  Besides, I want everyone to see the beautiful head shot I had from the doorway and Mez video'd the scoring.  I kinda forgot one target, though.

Working out with El Poquito Diablo really helped when I was having trouble with the rifle; I had the extra oompf I needed to manhandle the 9.25# rifle.  After the stage, one of the other shooters told me that I was having problems because I was hitting my left forearm with the charging handle.  I didn't feel it, but you can see where I had the charging handle flush against my left wrist.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Steel Challenge 8-27-11

RockCrawlinChef, Mez and I shot the Steel Challenge last Saturday.  It was the first time I'd ever done it and it was a blast!  I've shot Defensive Pistol off and on for years, but hadn't bothered with the Steel Challenge.  In the interest of broadening my shooting horizons for my next application to Top Shot, I'm shooting anything and everything.

During a Defensive Pistol match, it's not unusual to go through approximately two hundred rounds, so I didn't realize how tiring shooting the Steel Challenge would be.  I shot it using my step-dad's Ruger MKII (.22 LR) and didn't think that two hundred plus rounds of .22 would be a big deal, since I normally shoot a .45 ACP.

The biggest difference, for me, is that the Steel Challenge feels like an endurance match.  Shooting the same stage five times, one right after the other, takes a lot more stamina than shooting each stage one time like you do in Defensive Pistol.

I wasn't sure I'd like it, since the stages never change month to month, whereas in Defensive Pistol the stages are different every month.  I can definitely see the advantage in being able to compare stage times each month - it's an easy way to measure improvement.

Another thing I learned is that I shoot better right to left than left to right.  Odd, isn't it?  If I hadn't shot the Challenge, I would have never known that.  For some reason, it's easier for me to pick up my sight picture moving to the left than to the right.

Since I videotape pretty much *everything* when I'm shooting now (more application footage), I have a video of some of the stages...

I think I've got Tara Janzen talked into shooting it with us next month - it's a good segue into shooting matches, something she's been talking about doing, but hasn't quite gotten there yet.

I took the Bosu out to the match, though I didn't shoot off of it.  When we were done with our stages, Mez and I asked if we could try to shoot the last stage from the Bosu.  Unfortunately, I ran out of memory on the video camera before we hopped up on the Bosu.  We both took a turn and decided that next month we'll be shooting from the Bosu, just to up the ante a bit.