Tuesday, October 27, 2009

More Meditations on Rule 1

Tam made a post earlier on the useful(less)ness of loaded chamber indicators. She pointed out that the LCI is one of the most useless features of a firearm, right up there with a magazine safety (I agree with this, which is why the one in my carry gun is going away). This gave me pause and a wonder.

This weekend at KR Training, Karl Rehn, the proprietor, pointed out that the LCI on the Springfield XD was a nice feature, because you can check to see if the gun is loaded while in the holster or drawer at night. This gave me a great pause, not enough to interrupt him, but it did cause me to pause. Now, don't get me wrong, I think Karl has a point, to an extent, a tactile feel for a round in the chamber is a nice indicator and I believe he meant it in the following way. He meant that you can check for the little tab, if it's up, you can reasonable assume that you do not need to chamber a round to make the gun function. However, he did then point out that a press check is a prudent thing to do, to confirm that status.

For me, the part that had me staring into space and thinking, was the thought that my gun might be unloaded. Anyone who has read this blog more than once (or just once), would realize that by now, there is only really ONE rule for gun safety that must be followed at all times. If THE rule is followed, then we can remember to not break the other rules and act accordingly. We all know what the rule is, THE *%@#%!$^% GUN IS ALWAYS @$^%@*^%*^ LOADED. So for me, Karl pointing out that an LCI can be used to verify a round in the chamber seems ludicrous, OF COURSE there is a round in the chamber, I put it there and have been in control of the gun ever since. And that's why I agree that an LCI is a useless feature on the gun, it's always loaded, we don't need no stinkin' indicators to tell us that.

Now, I must admit, I do press check the semi-autos and open the revolver cylinders twice a day on the guns I carry. Why? This is to confirm that while the gun was in the safe, the little ammunition fairies didn't come and remove the Gold Dots from my chambers. Then, I verify again, when I get home, to make sure that the elves making pocket lint didn't remove my Gold Dots, either. So far, I've never found an unloaded gun, I'd like to keep it that way.

It may seem counter intuitive, but if we all remember, all the time, just mantra it to yourself in your sleep. All loaded, all the time. All loaded, all the time. Mix that together with other good mantras. All loaded, all the time, front sight, squeeze, front sight, all the time. This way you've got it down...


Sunday, October 25, 2009

I am exhausted. I've been pretty tired for more than a week now, since last week I had to go out of the country to present my research at a conference. Then school has kept me pretty busy all week, but I looked forward to today. Why? Because today was KR Training day, Defensive Pistol Skills 2, and Low Light Shooting Skills. Today though, I am a good exhausted. When you are tired and stressed is a great time to actually use your shooting skills and build them up. I'll be honest, I almost never get to shoot, I went last months with a friend for an hour and it was mainly to let him shoot my guns to help him decide on a CHL weapon, it wasn't for me to practice. Prior to that, the last time I had extended range session time was months ago. It's a good time to practice, because when we're tired, stressed, and not doing our best, we'll not only work harder, but our mistakes will be more apparent. So, enough with that stuff, let's get to the meat and potatoes.

My gear: I took to the class my regular carry gun a Smith & Wesson 3913LS. The gun has normal 3-dot Novak sights, it is traditional double action, which some seem to poo-poo, but I've been running TDA guns for so long (more than a decade now), and double action revolvers for the last 5 years, that it just doesn't bother me. I work on getting the first shot as a good hit, is it easier with a single action or striker gun? You bet, and I recommend them for almost everyone, but me, I like what I've practiced a lot with. I took only 3 magazines, this is mainly because the extra 2 I ordered haven't shown up yet. My belt my every day wear Wilderness 5-Stitch with polymer insert (known as Combat Shooter's Model or C.S.M), and my holster/mag pouch made by Lobo Gun Leather (http://www.lobogunleather.com/). Everything worked great and no complaints for gear, just a wish for more magazines.

DPS2: Since I did Defensive Handgun at Thunder Ranch last year, most of what Karl covered was review for me, but it didn't hurt to get back to basics. Also, I'm using a new gun and working with it has resulted in not the same level of accuracy that I was used to with my other guns. Also, this was the first time I had worked through one of these classes with a semi-auto, so the reload and malfunction techniques, while I was familiar with them and I regularly run tap-rack drills in my dry practice, it was still nice to incorporate them into range time. It's essentially 5 hours of drills which is great, because trigger time is absolutely critical, I certainly had dusted the cobwebs off and found myself moving faster and shooting cleaner by the end of the day. The class incorporated many elements from reloads, one handed shooting, malfunction drills, to use and shooting from cover, which was an excellent portion of class. Overall, I'm very glad I took the class and I was pleased with the results, I didn't experience many missed during the day and found that with a little work, I could make the S&W run perfectly.

LLS: Low Light Skills seems like an entirely different beast. Ultimately, I found the class extremely informative and thought provoking. First thoughts, gear, I brought a Steamlight TL-2 LED to the class and used the "Tiger Ring" or Thunder Ranch O-ring retention system on it, instead of a tradition lanyard. First, this ran absolutely top notch and I had no problems with the light. It ~might~ be too bright as Hsoi pointed out while shooting, unfortunately to "stay with the times" Steamlight has turned up the juice. I actually don't care much for the super bright light, but it's not because it is reflective or causes major splash back (it's bright but not overly intrusive to the shooting, for me at least), no the issue is, it's really too bright for every day use. Checking my range bag or magazines for fullness, resulted in almost blinding myself over and over again. Yes, there is such thing as too bright, but I've been a firm believer for that for awhile now.

The next major thought is on technique. Here is my thought, whatever works and allows you to index the FRONT SIGHT, properly. This really became clear to me, when Hsoi and I ran through a scenario, I shot at a plate 5 times and missed every shot. FINALLY, I got the light repositioned and "saw the sight" (pardon the pun), and nailed the plate. A VERY frustrating experience, since I HATE missing (we miss in practice so we don't miss in life, right? Right.). The problem was my grip on the light was causing it to shadow the sight, so I was ultimately not seeing the sight, just what I ~thought~ was the sight. This happened a couple of times and has caused me to pause, wonder, and think about what to do and what to practice from now on. It also got me thinking, I know that some do not like tritium night sights. I've never been the world's biggest fan of them either, but I think that this gun will get, ONE, on the front sight, and that it will be the brightest, loudest, color that Novak's can install. I think this coupled with a widened rear sight notch, will provide the indexing I need, that way, if the light is less than perfect, I will still have a bright point to shoot from.

The final thoughts on low light shooting, practice, practice, practice, practice, practice. I can't believe how crappy I shot at night, it's just dark, hell it's not ~THAT~ much harder right? Wrong. Trigger control went bad, sight alignment went bad. Combine this with attempts to understand and work a flashlight, it became clear to me, quick, that I not only need to shoot more in low light, but I need work a lot more low light stuff into my dry practice as well.

Now, a thought on "inside the house scenario". It was a training scenario that I won't describe in too much detail. The first thing I will say is this; if you think someone is in your house or your business, the best thing to do is stand outside and call the cops. Don't go in, it will only cause problems. Now, with that said, I called the cops and walked away from the house, but then I took a house tour, just to see what was going on. Once inside, I encountered a potential threat, when the threat refused to follow commands, but I realized he wasn't a bodily threat, I simply backed out of the house and got out of there. Two things, I stood too long trying to get compliance, I wasn't getting, and the other I did not make a hasty retreat, I should've and I used the light while retreating far too much. I did feel pretty good though, because I didn't close distance with the threat AND I called for compliance which wasn't happening, then I decided okay, time to go. I also feel good about it, because despite a very distracting threat, I continued to scan and look for other potential threats.

All in all, I found both classes extremely useful and thought provoking, low light more so than DPS2, but DPS2 was extremely helpful class in terms of knocking the rust off and getting the bullets back on target. Low light was thought provoking and stimulating and it was a lot of fun. I will probably take it again, simply for the excuse to practice it more and work with more tactics.


PS: Will H/T Hsoi and KR Training