Sunday, March 13, 2016

Range Trip 3-6-2016 - Status Check

Well . . . the snow is off the range, the water and ice mostly gone and the temps have snuck above freezing . . . SPRING!!!  I’d like to say I shoot as much when it’s -10*F as I do when it’s 70*F . . . but that’d be stretching the truth just a bit.  I did conduct a class every month during the winter with a couple hundred rounds for me in each class.  And I did make a range trip or two each month . . . but no high volume days.  What that means is that it’s time for some polish before the training season picks up in the next few months.  Time for a Status Check. 

I did spend time last year working on longer range shooting – 50-feet and 25 yards.  So on Sunday, March 6th, while waiting for a private student I hit the range a bit early to shoot a couple evaluation rounds to see how I stand coming into much better weather.  Here was my course of fire . . . 

  • 50 rounds, .22cal, Ruger 22/45, 50 feet
  • 50 rounds, 9mm, Glock 17 (my EDC weapon), 50 feet
  • 10 rounds, 9mm, Glock 17, 5 yards
  • 10 rounds, 9mm, Glock 17, 7 yards
  • 10 rounds, 9mm, Glock 17, 10 yards
  • 10 rounds, .22cal 22/55, 5 yards
  • 10 rounds, .22cal 22/45, 7 yards
  • 10 rounds, .22cal 22/45, 10 yards 

Total round count, 80 rounds 9mm and 80 rounds .22 – 160 rounds total. 

Practice with purpose – be able to articulate the purpose.  We’ve had a number of discussions of why we go to the range, what we do there and how that dials into our legal defense should the need arise.  In this case I’m confirming (or NOT confirming) my marksmanship skills at multiple distances after a season of diminished range time.  And, I am also setting a baseline for the year as well as polishing my capabilities.  As I’ve said, have a reason to go, document the trip and hold yourself accountable for the results.  Simple as that.
The target of choice for this trip was a standard D-1 “tombstone” target with a 4”, 8” and 12” circle centered “center mass”.  I also added 6 2x2 “post-it” notes for the 10 round engagements.  (Photos will make this a bit clearer).

Status checks should be shot cold.  Obviously, by the time the course of fire is complete you will no longer be “cold” but the first 50 rounds or so should be a pretty good indicator of where you are.  My expectation is to hold a 6” group at 50’.  That is actually pretty easy to do with the .22/45 – very low recoil and near target quality sights.  My overall group size was right at 4-ish inches, I’ll take it.  You can see in the image below (.22 rounds on the right, 9MM on the left) that while my group size was acceptable and all rounds were within the bounds of the target – they tended right.  This is a brand new gun and I have not confirmed the sights with a bench rest session but it may well be that my trigger press is the culprit.  More on this in a bit.  All in all, I was happy with the result – the precision was within my expectations . . . the accuracy was not, as I said, I’m a bit right of center.

Next up was my Glock 17, EDC weapon.  I have made one change to this gun, I’ve added the Trijicon front sight as well and I.C.E.’s “Claw” rear sight.  It is designed to assist in single-handed weapon manipulation and also has a wider rear notch for faster threat acquisition.  It’s a trade-off that allows you to get on target with a threat faster, but can reduce (or increase the time required) to place an accurate shot at distance – in this case 50’.  Since 80+% of all defensive encounters happen within 3 yards, it’s a good tradeoff.

You can see that this group of 50 rounds is a bit higher and to the left.  If you get real picky you can notice that I number each hole 1-5 corresponding in each 10 round engagement. I expected this group to open a bit, and it did though the majority of rounds held to the 6” goal I set for myself.  Again, all rounds were within the target.

So what to draw from this?  A few thoughts . . .
  • Trigger press is fairly consistent as seen by a reasonable group size.
  • Finger placement is fairly consistent as well – again the groups were consistent.
  • It may imply that a rear sight alignment might help since I have never bench rest shot either my Glock 17 after I replaced the sights or the .22/45 since I took it out of the box.  I will probably do this with the .22/45.  Pending the outcome of that I’ll make a decision on the Glock 17.

Just a reminder about the difference between “Precision” and “Accuracy”.  Precision implies reasonably tight groups depending on the weapon.  For a rifle with a barrel that can shoot 1 MOA – a 1” group at 100Y would be a precise group.  Placing it within the outline of the designated target would be an “Accurate” shot.  For a weapon to be both Accurate and Precise – both of these things must occur.

For my 50’ engagements – they fell within my desired level of precision . . . however their accuracy can certainly be improved.  That said – if we move to the realm of “Combat Effective Hits”, virtually all 100 rounds would have inflicted damage that would have diminished the threat’s ability to attack.  So . . . balance in all things. 

Moving to an evaluation of my ability to place precise shots from within a standard defensive range – 5 yards, 7 yards and 10 yards – I used a standard post-it note, a 2”x2” target. 

First I rolled through my Glock 17.  Notice that left to right I scored a 90%, 80% and 70% in accuracy, but 100% in precision keeping the overall group size at a 2” limit.  Also note that the rounds tended left as they did from the 50’ mark. 

Next, the .22/45 fared better with 100% in the first two engagements and a 60% (heavy sigh) in the 10-yard engagement.  That said, the overall precision for all three targets held within the desired 2” expectation. 

So what did this trip show me? 

First, I’ve maintained my skillset fairly well over the winter months.  My standard training regimen should add the “polish” fairly quickly this spring. 

I may need to evaluate the rear sight placement/adjustment for each of the handguns used. 

It’s nice to be back on the range without absolutely freezing my butt off . . . I was really ready for spring! 

So, for you – both the experienced and inexperienced shooter – hit the range, choose an evaluation course of fire and then shoot and document it!  See where you are, tease out your weaknesses and then set about fixing, improving, polishing your skills.  Honestly folks, there are no shortcuts.  Good, consistent and focused training will polish your skills and maintain them.  Period. 

Go do the work!


  1. Looking at those from an unbiased perspective, those sights are obviously different... Not that 'I' have ever encountered sights that weren't on... Sigh.

  2. Looking at those from an unbiased perspective, those sights are obviously different... Not that 'I' have ever encountered sights that weren't on... Sigh.

  3. Thanks for the post. Instructors should take special care of their duties while rendering their services to the trainees for license, along with the physical training they can also teach their students about the moral obligations associated with using the guns. Guns are supposed to be used as a safety device not a killing machine, and using it simply for sports is also good.
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