Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Range Trip–9/24/13 Steel Shoot . . . Cameras, Lessons and Fun


Last night was our final scheduled steel shoot of the year.  It was tough to see towards the last run – summer has passed for another year and early evenings are upon us.

The guns I used were my favorite range bag gun - a Ruger 22/45, my carry weapon - a Glock 17 and my alternate carry weapon – a Springfield 1911.  It was a fun night with an “OK” run, a crash or two and the just plain “clean but slow”.

I used the Contour camera to film this for a couple reasons.  It’s one thing to come to this blog and “talk” about a range trip . . . . but something entirely different to actually show you the runs.  The value in that for me are numerous:

  • It actually shows me the run.  You can’t “imagine” when you film it, you just record it.  That clearly shows me – and you – those things I’ve done well and those I’ve really blown.  We both learn.
  • Cameras keep you honest.  I’m human – I can tell myself stories just like anyone else.  When I talk about my grip with the Glock in a bit, honestly – that was something I’d didn’t “see” while I was shooting because my focus was on my front site – and not watching my grip.  The camera is an extra set of eyes that allows me to watch something over and over and over. . . .
  • It also keeps me honest with you.  Most of you don’t know me from Adam.  Yet many of you take much of what I say and teach to heart.  You deserve to see me at my best and worst.
  • Finally – on the off chance I have the “mother of all runs” – and I film it – you can be damn sure tootin’ you’ll see that sucker over and over and over . . .

So, let’s look things over in a bit more detail.  First, the stage.  We are a very small Ikes chapter and we only have two lanes on our range where we can set up stages.  On this particular night a total of three shooters showed up – heavy sigh.  Good news – lots of runs. Bad news – only three shooters.  So, we only set up a single stage and this was it’s layout:

Stage Layout 2

Nothing tricky – two 8” rounds, two 8” x 10” rectangles, one red 8” round stop plate.  All are mounted at 4 ft.  We have a shooters box you step into to load and shoot from.  The orange panel directly in front is your aim point for low ready.

.22 cal Complete Run

My best .22 cal run was 6.15 seconds.  Notice the things that went well – only a single pickup on the stop plate.  My grip was firm with no adjustment between plates.  The pace was smooth and the movement was sure.  Only thing to do to make this run faster is to drive to the next plate quicker.  You can do this by being confident of your shot and moving your eyes first to the next plate, then bringing your sight picture into your eyes.  Not a bad run but lots of room for improvement.

.22 cal “Malfunction Run”

Plenty of malfunction clearing practice in this run.  Still – I completed the run in less than the 30 par time. 

Yep, some runs just plain go to crap.  Stay focused, work each malfunction and stay in the “fight”.  And, if you have a single run or multiple runs that look like this – hey, everyone has one – get over it.  Make sure your weapon in clean, your mags aren’t defective and just get on with it.  Your next run will be awesome!

9mm “Shootin’ It Dry” Run

There are some runs that just plain don’t jell.  Here is one such run from last night.

The biggest thing I noticed here is that I “adjust” my grip frequently.  NOT GOOD!  That is the whole thing of “follow through” while engaging a target.  This would imply I need to “firm” up my grip a bit.  Things just never felt “good” on this run – from sight picture to grip.  I’d tell you why if I knew – need to spend a bit more time with the film.

9mm “Clean the Plates” run

When you have a crappy run or drill, you just need to gather yourself and, if need be, slow down and succeed first – then work on building speed.  As you can see this run was “slow” – 9.74 seconds.  But, I cleaned the plates and will build from here next time.

.45 “Clean the Plates” run

By the time we got to the .45 – it was getting dark quick so only a couple passes.  Here is a clean one at 14.33 seconds.  I had slowed down a bit, had a tougher time acquiring the plates in the lower light but still ran it clean.  Notice a couple things – my grip is once again firm for the whole run, no adjustment.  This was due to a couple things – I was “working” on it and a 1911 has much more mass than a Glock 17 so the recoil is much less allowing for better control.

So there you go – a night of fun with some good guys and a couple of videos that we all can learn from.  If you’re a new shooter, consider a camera you can wear.  There are a number that start for under $100 and, of course, there are some that cost much, much more.  Regardless – you can learn a tremendous amount by “looking over your shoulder” to see how you are doing.  And, once it’s in a file – you can take your time, study from it and pick up those little things that can help you make real progress.

And, if you’re an instructor – it’s good to let your students see the good, the bad and even the ugly once in a while.  We’re all learning – every range trip.  Don’t be shy about sharing your experiences!


  1. Yeah, not every run is clean. And the unconscious regripping is not that unusual. People tend to react to specific stimuli and 'something' is triggering you to regrip. The question is what?