Saturday, January 21, 2012

Range Day!!!! Winter edition!

Time: 15:00 to 17:00
Temp: 17F
Wind-chill: 5F
Thoughts??: ARE YOU OUTTA YOUR FRICKIN’ MIND?!?!?!?!?!?

Well, it had been a couple of weeks since I’d been to the range. Temps here in Iowa in early January were in the upper 50s to low 60s – great for range work. But, something odd happened – winter arrived! Yep, lots of snow (6-8 inches), heavy winds in the 20+ mph, blowing, drifting – yep, winter.

Early in the week one of my former students called and said his wife was interested in purchasing a handgun and wanted to try some out – could I help them out? Really, he’s asking?? In class I typically have over a dozen different handguns available for touchy-feely stuff so, yeah, I could give a hand. Today was the day. Actually, I want to leave that experience as a separate post because the process of selecting a handgun is very important and I want to devote a fair amount of time to it. So, let’s talk about a winter range day.

IMG_20120121_145535 (Small) First I had to find the holes in the range to put the target stand in. A bit of work at the 7 yard line with a range brush found them under about 7 inches of snow. One nice thing about a chilly, breezy day – no other shooters to worry about.

So I put the stand in, and mounted 8 ea. 3x5 cards of the cardboard. I like using 3x5 cards – they’re cheap, fairly small and I can dedicate a couple of cards to each weapon I bring.  IMG_20120121_154116 (Small)Today, since the lady coming wanted to try a number of different handguns, I brought my .22/.45 Ruger, a Glock 17, a Springfield 1911, a Ruger LC9 and a Tarsus 856 .38 Special. I thought this would give her a number of different types of “feels” to see which she liked best.

So how can you take advantage of the weather in your training? Today was cold by most standards – IMG_20120121_152748 (Small) and it is certainly possible that you could encounter a threat in cold weather. How does your body react in cold weather? For me, I can ignore my feet and hands, I need a cap to feel comfortable and I can shed my coat for up to an hour. How do I know this? Years and years of winter camping and simply testing my limits.

You need to do this to – so you can better prepare for how your body reacts to different environments.  My guests were running late so I had nearly an hour on my own to roll through the different handguns I brought. The top two 3x5 cards were set aside for the .22/45. I brought my Tru-Glo site and noticed that it had moved radically so I removed it and continued my drills with iron sights only. Typically I will do random rounds from the compressed high-ready. I did no holster work today. I went through around 100 rounds.

Next was the Glock 17 and another 50 rounds. Same format as with the .22/45. During my entire range visit today, I did not wear gloves. I view that as worst case so that is how I usually practice.

The Glock was followed by the Ruger LC9. This has become my carry weapon – I really like it. It fits my hand nice, has great sights, has yet to have a failure and is very accurate. This took up another 50 rounds and another two 3x5 cards.

The Springfield 1911 followed with another 50 rounds and another two 3x5 cards. I went through a period with this weapon where I was having problems with the slide going fully forward after ejecting a round. I finally discovered it likes more lubrication on the slide than I typically would use. Since then, it runs like a top!

Finally, the Tarsus 856. This is a little snub-nosed, 2-inch barrel, 6-shot, magnesium pistol. It shoots a surprisingly tight group from 7-yards but it kicks like a mule! For women and men uncomfortable with malfunction drills, it is a solid choice for a carry weapon.

So there ya have it, my first hour on the range. As I finished up, I noticed that my Android had died (I use its camera a lot on the range) – the battery apparently drained by laying it in the open air on a cold the range bench. Heavy sigh, something to remember.

So how does this rambling pertain to you?? Spend a number of training days this winter on the range. Leave your gloves off, take off your coat – notice how your body reacts to the cold. Can you still focus? Can you load your weapon? Can you do speed reloads and tactical reloads? Can you draw in a timely fashion with winter gear on? Remember – threats can come at you any time of day or season, practice, learn and be prepared to win.

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