Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Review - Vortex Strikefire II Red-Green Dot

So, it’s that time of year when I begin to register for coursework I plan on taking . . . and taking appropriate steps to make sure I have the right gear to take the course.  One of them that I’ve signed up for is the Gunsite Indiana 3-Day Carbine course.   I took their 3-day 150 Pistol Course at the same location last year and came away with a very good experience and – just to brag a bit – 2 of their 3 challenge coins!  It was a great trip, you can find a review here.  I was delighted to see they were bringing their carbine class this year so I signed up on-line and am in the process of polishing off the paperwork.

That said, when I take coursework that is more than a little pricy I also make sure I take a full set of duplicate gear.  I’ve heard the phrase “two is one and one is none” attributed to Col Cooper in the past.  Regardless who first used that phrase, there is a great deal of truth to the words.  Just think of traveling a full day, spending a couple thousand dollars once ammo, gas, food and lodging is thrown in . . . only to have your weapon fail you on the first or second day of class.  For me this isn’t my first carbine class so I have a backup weapon.  It’s a mix of a Bushmaster Upper, Timney trigger, who knows what adjustable stock and a Blue Force sling.  It had a Nikon Prostaff Scope and Harris Bipod on it since I was using it to work on my distance shooting.  Obviously, some changes needed to be made to bring in more in line with my primary “patrol rifle” which is a DPMS Oracle with an Eotec red dot on it and Magpul pop up backup sights.

The backup sights were a no brainer so I picked up a new set of Magpul front and rear sights.  One characteristic of this particular rifle is that the rear peep on the popup needs to be cranked fully to the left . . . and I mean FULLY!  I suspect that is due to some offset between the front and rear top rails or something physically with the barrel.  But, it is an “adjustable” rear sight, and cranking the rear peep all the way to the left works . . . so I’ll figure the rest out later.

The red dot gave me a bit of a challenge in choosing which one to go with.  I know, I know . . . AIMPOINT!!!  Still, the price points of their red dots are pretty pricy so . . . No Joy on that.  Same with the Eotech though I am very satisfied with my 517.  What to do, what to do.

I have a number of shooter friends who have Vortex scopes on their precision rifles.  Of course they are more than a little pricy.  But they also have a Strikefire II Red/Green Dot optic for around $180.  Could that be my answer?  After looking at one at a local dealer, reading some of the reviews on line and watching a couple review videos I decided that for the backup carbine this choice would be more than good!  I went to the range today . . . I was not disappointed!

As you can see it is a bit bulky physically but it weighs just 7.2 ounces.  It comes with a cantilever mount allowing the rear Magpul popup to snug right up to the rear of the optic.  Both sights co-witness perfectly.  There is an elevation adjustment on the top along with a battery housing holding a CR2 battery.  Battery life is in excess of 300 hours at max brightness and approaches over 6000 hours on minimum brightness.  The windage adjustment is on the right side of the optic with either a red or green 4 MOA dot appearing in the middle of the field as you look through the optic. 

Operation is via two buttons located on the left.  Press the top button, it comes on.  Hold it in and after about 4 seconds it will turn off.  Hold the bottom button in and the color will switch to either red or green.  With the dot on, momentarily pressing the top button increases the brightness while doing the same with the bottom button decreases the brightness.  The optic is very crisp and clear.

I loaded a magazine with 10 rounds, set out a “10 yard 50/200 zero” target and sent three rounds down range.  I was more than a little surprised that all three rounds within the impact dot on the target.  The three rounds were followed by an additional 7 . . . all with the same result.  As you can see, the optic was perfectly adjusted for a 50/200 yard zero OUT OF THE BOX!  Gotta say I was very happy.

Honestly I was having a bit of trouble adjusting windage on the Magpul sight so I “cheated” and simply dialed the windage until the front and rear co-witnessed with the Strikefire II (which turned out to be all the way to the left).  Worked well with the final 10 round target showing all rounds within or touching the impact dot.

The next test was to move the target out to 50 yards.  For that I’ve built an evaluation target with two impact targets for evaluation on it.  The top left target shows the results using the Strikefire II.  The first 5 round group was high and spread out.  “High” was an elevation issue.  The “spread out” was a shooter issue.  So, I adjusted elevation down a couple clicks and sent another 5 rounds down range.  Group two came right in.

Next was 5 rounds on the lower right target with the backup sights.  They turned in a nice 1-inch group with one “flyer” out another ½ inch.  I’ll take it.

One last target.  10 rounds on the target I use for pistol qualification in my defensive shooting classes.  The target was posted at 50 yards.  At that distance, the dot pretty well covered the grey disk entirely.  Again, the Strikefire II turned in a nice group.

I had around 15 rounds left over so I went over to the 100-yard range and shot at the 12x14 steel plate at the end of the range.  It had no paint on it and sat against a berm essentially the same color but I was able to hit 13 of 15 rounds on the plate.  This gave me an opportunity to play with the intensity of the green dot and I found that at a lower setting I could clearly see both dot and target well.

Bottom line, I’m pretty darn happy with the performance of the Vortex Strikefire II red/green dot optic.  The class is the beginning of July so we’ll see how things go actually “running the gun”.  I plan to run the backup gun at least one full day provided my primary doesn’t fall apart in my hands.  That has never happened through any number of high volume classes.  But . . . the one time I go with a single weapon I am confident that murphy will bite me in the butt.  Stay tuned, the AAR for the Gunsite 3-day Carbine Class will be posted when I return from the course.
Strikefire II Vortex Page

Strikefire II Manual

Strikefire II Specifications

1 x
Objective Lens Diameter
30 mm
Eye Relief
Adjustment Graduation
1/2 MOA
Travel per Rotation
25 MOA
Max Elevation Adjustment
100 MOA
Max Windage Adjustment
100 MOA
Parallax Setting
Parallax Free
5.6 inches
7.2 ounces
4 MOA red/green dot

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Training - Recoil – It’s a Thing

“Man!!  That baby will flat out knock you on your butt!!” 

“Why the kick from that pistol is gonna take your hand off!!”

“With paws like mine I should have any problem controlling the recoil!”

And so the discussions of recoil, “kick” go . . .
I picked up a Ruger LC9S a few days back.  I had purchased a LC9 when the original hammer fired version came out but stopped carrying it when the trigger went sideways on me.  That generated a post a few years back on why you should always shoot your carry gun on a regular basis.  Since that time I’ve stopped carrying that particular pistol and I use it in my course work as a “visual aid” when I talk about the topic of shooting your carry gun.

The next day after my purchase I grabbed a hundred rounds and headed to the range.  My primary purpose was just an initial evaluation of the handgun and to work my way through a couple different drills.  I started with 2 magazines at 3Y, 5Y and 7Y.  I was fairly impressed with the results.  The trigger is greatly improved over the original version in my opinion and the little guy was pretty darn accurate as long as I paid attention to sight picture, sight alignment and trigger press . . . and ignored the fact that the recoil is . . . mmmmm . . . “snappy” . . . let’s say that . . . SNAPPY!  (I’ll return to this since that IS the purpose of this post)



Next I put up an SEB target and ran a number of drills.  My first was from 5Y and it was Rob Pincus’s “take a lap” drill.  One round in each numbered box. I dropped 2 rounds, one on the “2” and one on the “6”.  From there I went to the accelerated pairs at 5Y and 7Y.  Next I did the Gunsite “failure drill” at 3Y and dropped 2 on the ocular cavity box.  Finally, I ran 15 rounds through from 50 feet into the pelvic girdle box.  I dropped 3 there.  All in all, for the first time running any rounds through the firearm, I’ll take it. 

Bottom line on the gun, I like it.  It’s accurate, not a bad tradeoff of size and capacity.  I’ll carry it in a “7+1” mode with two spare 7 round magazines so I’ll have 22 rounds on my person rather than the 30 I have when I leave the house with my G17.  But, for summer carry this will provide one other acceptable alternative IMNSHO anyway.

So . . . . back to the “SNAPPY” recoil . . .  l want to spend some time on this from a physics POV, a management POV, a “run the gun” POV and a handgun “fit” POV.  First, let’s get on the same page as far as the words are concerned.  Some definitions . . .

Recoil:          a movement backwards, usually from some force or impact. The recoil of a pistol is a backward movement caused by momentum.

Momentum:            property of a moving body that the body has by virtue of its and motion and that is equal to the product of the body's mass and velocity a property of a moving body that determines the length of time required to bring it to rest when under the action of a constant force or moment

Newton’s 1st Law:  Every object will remain at rest or in uniform motion in a straight line unless compelled to change that state by forces impressed upon it. (Commonly referred to as “inertia” as stated as “a body at rest tends to stay at rest unless acted upon by an external force”)

Newton’s 3rd Law:  For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Foot Pound  A unit of energy, one foot-pound is the energy it takes to push with one pound-force one pound for a distance of one foot.

Da Physics

We start at the beginning – with the cartridge.  It consists of 4 components – the case, the primer, the powder and the bullet.  Two elements have “potential” energy – the chemical compound in the primer and the gun powder the primer ignites.  The sulfur in the gunpowder burns first once the primer is stuck, the potassium nitrate with its free oxygen acts as an oxidizer and they then burn the remaining carbon in the gun powder.  Gas is produced and forces the bullet out of the casing and down the barrel.  The potential energy of the chemical compounds is changed to enough pressure to send the bullet out of the barrel at 1190 fsp for the Winchester 9mm ammunition listed below and in the process this chemical reaction generates 362 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle of your 9mm handgun.

At this point Newton’s 3rd law “kicks” into action.  (See what I did there?).  A force equal to the 362 ft-lb that pushes the 115gr bullet out of the barrel also acts to drive the entire handgun rearward with that same 362 ft-lb force.  This is the handgun’s “Recoil”.  And that is what I want to talk about.

From a management POV

“Ya gotta control the recoil!!!”  says your instructor.  Listen folk . . . you can’t “control” it, you’re simply not strong enough.  Even for the tier one, super Delta types – recoil is “managed” and not controlled.  So let’s first see what mechanical things help us to mitigate the recoil of your handgun.

Mass . . . the mass of your handgun helps.  Remember the first law – a body at rest tend to stay at rest . . . unless acted on by an external force – say 362 ft-lb of recoil force.  The larger the mass, the more energy it will absorb and the lower the “felt” recoil will be.  For example, my daughter really enjoys shooting my Springfield 1911.  To her the felt recoil is much reduced over some of my other options.  That is due in large part to the fact that it weighs 39 oz. with an empty magazine – nearly 2.5 pounds!  That will do a great deal to mitigate its recoil.

The Firing Cycle and mechanics of the handgun . . . the energy from the cartridge runs much of the firing cycle.  It drives the slide back, which ejects the spent casing as well as “loads” the return spring.  The return spring drives the slide forward and strips a cartridge from the top of the magazine and then seats it in the chamber.  It also cocks the hammer or sets the striker.  Add to that the friction of metal sliding against metal, the heat generated and even more of the recoil is absorbed and mitigated.

Mass of the Shooter . . . finally, we get to the end of the chain in the mitigation of your handgun’s recoil.  You . . . and your mass.  The remainder of the energy that is left will be used to drive your body rearward.  Any mechanical weaknesses in your grip, the way you’ve driven your arms outward, your stance . . all will allow the recoil to be SNAPPIER and will move you in such a way that may well be painful and prohibit you from reacquiring your threat in a timely fashion should the need arise.  So let’s work from “gun to butt”.

Grip . . . I’ve talked about the Grip before.  You want your dominant hand high on the back-strap getting the barrel’s centerline as close to the centerline of your extended arm as you can get it.  You want your support hand’s meaty part of its palm to close the gap left on the grip by your dominant hand and its fingers to wrap around those of your dominant hand as well, providing a full 360 degrees of coverage by your grip.  You want to have a very firm grip . . . but I do not subscribe to a “death grip” on your handgun.

The grip is the first point of weakness that can occur.  A weak grip allows the recoil to drive the gun off center and in a worst-case scenario it could actually drive the handgun completely out of your hands.

Driving your arms to the threat . . . I encourage my students to “drive the blade to the center of the threat”.  This means that your arms are fully extended and the elbows are held “firmly” in place.  I am also not a proponent of locking your elbows.  I want them “firm” but not “locked”.  This is also a point of weakness.  If your elbows are not firm enough, a part of the recoil will move your elbows a bit.  This will take energy from your handgun and in the case of semiautomatic pistols is a leading cause of “failure to eject” or “stove pipe” issues.  The common term is “limp wrist-ing” but it has more to do with arms and elbows rather than wrists.

Nose over toes . . . is the next component in the “gun to butt” evaluation.  You want your weight forward and “into the gun” rather that the shooter leaning back.  You put more of your mass immediately behind the gun and allow it to mitigate the recoil simply because it takes a fair amount of energy to move even the average person’s body mass reward.

Stance . . . the typical phrase is that your feet are shoulder width apart.  And, I usually take my dominant foot about half a foot’s length back as well.  This is commonly called a fighting stance or defensive stance.  It’s not exaggerated, just comfortable.  And, if you have a firm two handed grip, have driven your front blade fully in front of you at the center of the threat, if your nose is over your toes and you have a solid grip on your handgun . . . you are in the best position possible to allow your body to absorb your handgun’s recoil in the center of your upper body where a major portion of your physical mass is.  It is this that allows you to “manage” your recoil in such a way that if the need arises you can have rapid and accurate follow-up shots. 

Run the Gun . . . is one of the primary reasons you manage recoil as consistently and properly as you can.  If you do not help contain as much of the recoil energy as you can in the gun, it’s just won’t run right and failure to eject will become your new best friend.  Your entire “package” – stance, nose over toes, grip, driving straight out to the threat . . . all allow you the best chance to manage the recoil, insure the firearm functions properly and positions you for the 3 to 5 rounds high center mass that may well be needed to stop a mortal threat barreling in your direction.  These things allow you to run the gun – your gun – to the best of your ability.

Fit . . . is the last piece of this little walk through recoil.  And the most important in my opinion.  We’ve all see YouTubes of the jerk boyfriends who give their girlfriend their .454 Casull revolver that shows her splitting her forehead open on the muzzle of the revolver as the recoil drives it out of her hands and into her face.  An obvious example of a handgun that is NOT a good fit for the shooter.

Other examples are subtler.   For example . . . the LC9S that the hubby buys for his wife because it’s the “right size” for her hand.  That may well be true but if she doesn’t have hands strong enough for a firm grip the results – while not as dramatic as a .454 Casull – will still be frustrating if she can’t consistently shoot her firearm accurately.  The amount of energy generated by 9mm round is exactly the same whether fired from a 17oz LC9S or a 43oz 9mm Loaded Springfield 1911.  However, one will do much more to mitigate recoil than the other. 

Also, smaller grips do not always mean a better grip is possible by the shooter.  All of these things go into whether the handgun is a good “fit” for the shooter.  And to that the ability to “run the gun” – easily load the firearm, work the slide or cylinder release, clear malfunctions – these things also go into the concept of “Fit”.

Bottom line . . . smaller guns are susceptible to a “SNAPIER” felt recoil simply because . . . “smaller gun”.  The only thing that can mitigate that is the shooter through their grip, stance, the way they drive to the threat and getting their weight forward and into the gun.  For most this is a learned process . . . for some it is simply not physically possible for their body to mitigate the recoil enough to accurately shoot it.

And, on other part of this equation.  To be competent with your firearm, you need to shoot your firearm frequently enough to get competent and to maintain competence.  If it beats you up, hurts your hand and is just plain no fun to shoot . . . you won’t.  And, you’ll develop all those crappy training scars that goes along with this as well.

My advice.  Try a bunch of different handguns.  Choose one that fits, that you can run, that you can shoot accurately and one that you can well and truly manage the recoil on.

Additional info and links . . .

Energy of a 9mm 115gr cartridge in foot pounds

A Physics discussion on Momentum for the geeks in the crowd . . .

Newton’s 3 laws explained . . .

Interesting discussion of “foot pounds of energy”

Kenetic and Potential Energy

Friday, May 12, 2017

Range Trips - They Take Time

The week ended today, the weather is amazing, all the week’s alligators have been slain (I think) . . . what to do, what to do . . .  Range Trip!!!!

 I know you may get tired of my saying it . . . but if you go to the range, have a purpose.  Why are you going?  What do you want to work on?  What will be the weapon/weapons of choice?  What targets should you bring?  Are they “scorable” so you can track your progress?  Finally, what do you have time to do without rushing your range session.  And that’s what I want to spend a bit of time on . . . range trips, they take time.

 Last weekend I was range master for a BSA BB Gun Shoot at our local scout camp.  We had 24 lanes, 400 scouts, 300 parents and ½ hour sessions on the range.  In fact, for all but 3 of the ½ hour sessions from 9AM to 3PM we had to double up on the first 6 lanes to serve all the Cub Scouts that wanted to shoot.  I find I take heart at this for the future of shooting sports!  The kids love it!


I have a fondness for likening Cub Scouts to Labrador puppies.  Trying to quiet and calm them so you can get real work done is a challenge to say the very least.  That said, I suspect we’ve all seen adult sized versions of Labrador puppies at the ranges we frequent.  They come in, throw up some kind of target, rip off a handful of magazines in a 20-30 minute session and off they go.  It becomes apparent that the primary purpose of the trip is to make holes, smell gunpowder and hear the BANG!  Like the Cub Scout they’ll take their target home (scouts will literally take the target home for the fridge) either in their hand or as a memory of “boy that was a good string of fire!!”  I’d like to offer another POV . . . slow down, take your time savor each round or string.  Note it, make it mean something and then build on it.

I think my primary efforts this summer will revolve around rifle shooting.  That seems to be my focus over the past 7 months or so and there is surely much more work to do.  So, it was natural that today’s range trip was dedicated to that particular skill set.  I’m still slugging away as much of the foundational elements so the two rifles I chose to take was my 1932 Stevens 53B single shot and my Ruger 10/22 Target with a Nikon scope attached.  And, a “Bucket O Bullets” (how can you beat 1400 rounds for $86).  Tonight was to be just plane marksmanship from the bench.  The Stevens is just held on the bench, not bagged in any way.  The Ruger has an attached bipod.  Both have “firm” triggers that require focus for a smooth trigger press straight to the rear.

I took two types of targets.  One has 5 individual targets that are 3 inches in diameter on it.  I use these for the NRA Rifle Instructor course for their qualification shoot since this is the proper size target for a 50’ range.  They’re of my own design so if anyone wants one let me know and I’ll email you the PDF.  The second target is the free target provided by the Appleseed Project.  It is my intent to attend one of their courses this summer which is another reason for my increased range work.  They are sized to represent a “Red Coat” at 100 yards, 200 yards and 300 yards.  Since this trip was just working on the fundamentals – mounting the weapon, sight alignment, sight picture, trigger press and follow through – I chose to fire 10 rounds on each target for a total of 80 rounds with each rifle.  As I said, range trips take time.

The range session began with the Stevens 53B and the target with the 3” circle targets.  It has a simple set of open sights on the rifle that has served its various owners for pushing 85 years.  Think about that . . . 85 years.  I spend a fair amount of my time with Scouts and their shooting sports programs.  When I bring them to our local Ikes range to work on their rifle merit badge I insist that they shoot at least one qual target with the Stevens.  I do this so they can understand it’s not about a brand-new gun with a good-sized scope on it . . . rather, it is ALWAYS about the fundamentals.  My first string of 10 are in on the upper right target.  While the group fits within the required 3” circle, it is  not with in THE 3’ circle.  And, as it typical, it’s never about the gun but the shooter.  It took me one string to remember that the Stevens is set for 6 o’clock hold.  Once I switched to the upper left target and placed the front blade just below the black dot, things were much better.  One factor that plays into my shooting over the past 10 years or so is that if I wear my glasses the front blade is crystal clear while the target is kind of a fuzzy blob.  I chose to forgo my prescriptions providing a fuzzier front site but a crisp target.  This works best for me.  And, my accuracy and precision picked up notably.  Most the groups were well within a 1.5” group and fairly well centered on the target.  For 50 rounds, I dropped 2.  I’ll take it.

The nice thing about the Stevens – or any bolt action for that matter – is that it naturally slows you down.  You get 50 chances to mount the rifle, stabilize your body, get a good sight alignment and sight picture and then smoothly press the trigger straight to the rear.  Your body needs this time to learn this specific skill set to improve your ability as a rifle shooter.  There is simply no shortcut.  So, take the time to develop your foundational mechanics.
Next up were the Appleseed targets.  For tonight I simply put 10 rounds on each of the 3 targets simulating 100 yards, 200 yards and 300 yards.  On these I dropped 2 rounds out of 30.  If you take the time to read the proper way to use this target that is listed on the left, it requires a pretty solid set of skills shooting standing, kneeling or sitting and finally prone.  We’ll work on those over the rest of the summer looking towards their end of August course offering.

I put the Stevens away and set up took my Ruger 10/22 Target out and set it up.

This was a repeat of the 5-target sheet with 3” targets and 10 rounds on each target.  I have mounted a Nikon Prostaff 4x12 40mm Rimfire scope on the Ruger Target.  It should be noted that the max magnification at 50 feet without blurring is about x7 so that’s what I used.  I also used Target 1 to tweak elevation a bit as well.

The expectation with a scope is that the group size will ALWAYS get much smaller.  While generally true it will never get better if your foundation is poorly developed.  Mounting the rifle, loading the bipod, a solid sight picture, smooth trigger press and a good follow through is just as important with a scoped rifle as it is with a rifle with open sights.  The groups were generally smaller with most being 1” so that is an improvement.  But, there are way too many shooters that use the scope as a replacement for a refined skill set.  If you find you may slip into that category, find an open sight rifle and spend some time with it.  It will greatly increase your accuracy and precision with a scoped rifle.  As you can see by the first 50 rounds, I was down zero with good accuracy and precision. 

On to the “Red Coats”.  The 100 yard and 200 yard targets look pretty darn good.  The 300 yard target is not all that much different from that of the Stevens rifle.  Clear evidence that is you let the fundamentals slide on any group of shots, you will pay the price regardless of the rifle you are using.  For the Stevens, I can maybe pull the “yeah, but . . . open sights”.  With a scope rifle it is ALL foundational stuff.  Perhaps the fact that by this time I’d been shooting for about an hour and a half and I was starting to tire.  But . . . the target simply doesn’t lie.

So what’s the take away.  It takes time and work to build and refine a skillset.  Accurate and precise shooting takes just that . . . time and rounds down range.  As I discussed a few posts back a good .22 caliber rifle with a good scope or set of open sights is a solid training tool costing pennies per round to get really good work done.  If you’re intent on becoming a good rifle shooter – this isn’t a bad place to begin.

Spend the time, get better . . . and then share with those around you!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Training – Are you paranoid enough?

A gun rights group in my region held an “Open Carry” night at a restaurant this week.  As folks do, a handful or so of photos were posted on an attendees Facebook page and one of my Facebook friends was linked in the post.  Two photos stood out to me and, while I realize keeping one’s mouth shut is the best route generally, I felt the safety concerns I had were worth the post.  Here’s the short thread with “J” that followed.  (Names and faces have been changed or blurred.  Not interested in bangin’ on these folks, just want to point how different points of view can lead to unsafe gun handling – IMNSHO anyway.)

William Keller:   Honestly, how does this help us?? And as for the folks with ARs . . . "Guns are always loaded" . . . I assume if these are truly your defensive firearms the magazines are topped off and there's a round in the chamber . . . "Never point your firearm at something you're not willing to destroy" . . . what's in your field of fire? Any folks forward of you? How about the other side of the walls?? SMH . . . not helping, not helping.

J:   You are welcome to your opinion, you are welcome to join us, but to address your concern, tonight almost 20 people peacefully assembled and shared time with each other.

William Keller:   Quite happy 20 folks peacefully assembled. But safely? Not so much, IMO. We are either all diligent in the safe handling of our weapons . . . or we are not. From the photos it would be virtually impossible for someone to have not been muzzled by one or both ARs. I see this as unacceptable.

J:   You are so wrong about this safely concern. When We Gather it is the safest restaurant in the country during that time in which we are assembled. Your paranoia is completely misplaced and objectively wrong.

William Keller:   With all due respect Jim, I'm pretty happy with my safety concerns. As an NRA Trainer, NRA Training Counselor, NAPSI Master Instructor and an adjunct law enforcement trainer, I do not see it as paranoid, I simply see unsafe gun handling and that is unacceptable.

J:   Just because you're an NRA trainer doesn't mean you're not paranoid. Even educated people or wrong sometimes. Feel free to join us, we always explain to people what the rules are , and we've been doing this for over 4 years safely.

What sad to me William , is your clear lack of understanding for those of us who gather peacefully. Nobody is making you join us.

I've already explained to you once that we are just a group of people gathering peacefully and don't hurt or bother others. That is another way that we are helping people in this country experience the freedoms our forefathers gave us. Join us or drop it.

William Keller:   Alrighty Jim, understood. Peace.

There’s a fair amount of meat on this particular bone so let’s just nibble on it and see what we can find.

The general gist I took from “J’s” response is that the place they assembled is “the safest restaurant in the country during that time in which we are assembled”.  I will make the assumption that what he means by this is that while 20 armed folks are in the building some ass-hat isn’t going to come in and rob the place.  On a cynical level this is simply untrue if the robber doesn’t know their gathering is being held.  Robbers are creatures of opportunity.  If they see an opportunity – and have no clue there are 20 armed citizens holding a get together in the back – they may very well decide that today is a good day to take a run at the place.  Ya just gotta wonder how 20 armed citizens would choose to react if a couple armed criminals would hit the place. 

How about the other end of the spectrum . . . say a local bunch of MS13 critters decide they’d like to pick up some more guns?  Couple of members pop in with a their AKs, put the whole “I’m gonna shoot their ass if they come here” thing to the test and then they take the guns and walk out the door.

This attitude is what I call the “talisman effect”.  Because I have a gun on me, I’m safe.  This is wrong . . . wrong, wrong, wrong.  What makes you “safe” is awareness of your surroundings, good gun handling skills and a willingness to use those skills to defend yourself, your family and those around you.  The gun is just the tool you have at hand.  “Murphy” can be a bitch at a time like this, don’t tempt him.

My second take-away is that I’m obviously “paranoid”.

Paranoid:       extremely fearful was so paranoid that he was afraid to walk the streets

characterized by suspiciousness, persecutory trends, or megalomania behaving in a paranoid manner with accusations of persecutions

My response is . . . “Yep, sure the hell am!”  And that is why when I teach a class there is no ammunition in the classroom, I verify that each and every weapon is empty and insure that two others do so.  I insist that if a weapon is on a table top it’s pointed is a safe direction, bolt open or slide locked back, ejection port up so I (and anyone else) knows it’s empty.  It’s why we do an emergence response brief to clearly define what the group that day will do should someone blow out their femoral artery.  It’s why I always have a blowout kit with me.

It’s why I obey “Da Rules”.  When handling firearms on the range, with a group of folks or out in public these, and only these, are Da Rules.  Period.

It’s why I carry every day everywhere I legally can.  We do not get to choose the time or place – the predator does.  Does this make me “paranoid”?  No, it makes me a realist.  Any one of us, at any time, can come up against “their day”, and a gun at home is the safe won’t do you a damn bit of good.  Carry it.  Every day.

Attitude also comes into play here.  Honestly, I have no issue with Open Carry.  I don’t do it.  I believe it gives up a tactical advantage.  I believe it draws an unwanted amount of attention to me.  I believe it makes the risks higher that an aggressive and determined predator would pick me as a target.  I do not see the “coolness” factor of open carry.  Yes, it openly demonstrates my 2nd Amendment rights . . . but makes me less safe and definitely a “shoot him first” kind of target.  So, I pass on it.

And, I don’t understand the whole open carry of an AR either.  I have a vehicle gun, it is an AR.  It is loaded and in “patrol ready” – 28 rounds in the magazine, chamber empty.  If you see me with an AR slung around my neck there’s a round in the chamber and 27 more in the magazine.  I will have full control of it and it will traditionally be pointed down and on a 2-point sling.  It will NOT be sitting on a table, magazine in, bolt forward and bipod extended.  How the hell do you not muzzle someone when your weapon is in that state??  I’m sure the argument will be . . . “Yes, yes, but it’s not loaded, I just brought it for show and tell.”  If that’s the case – and I pray it was in the instances shown in the photo – it’s still profoundly unsafe to handle a weapon in the manner shown by the photos.  We can all google up hundreds of articles of folks shot by other folks with “empty” guns.  Remove the frickin’ magazine, lock the bolt back, choose a designated area in the room to be the “safe” area and a direction to be the “safe” direction . . . and then I’ll be a bit happier.

I’m not trying to pick a fight here, but if you care about safe gun handling – this is not the way to go about it.  Follow “Da Rules”, insist that those around you do as well and be a good example.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Training - 5x5x5 Drill and 100 rounds

A couple of thoughts came together tonight on the range.  We had a beautiful day, I’d had too much indoor time over the past week with all the rain in the Midwest . . . so . . . RANGE TRIP!!!

One of the things I harp on in my classes it that each January each student should buy 1,000 rounds of ammo, budget 100 rounds per month at a minimum and then “practice with purpose"

Another topic that is making the rounds of various firearm FB groups is the 5x5x5 Drill.  5 Rounds, 5 Yards, 5 Seconds.  It wrings out several items, time to first hit, split times, accuracy, follow through, recoil management, smooth trigger press.  This drill is usually shot on a 3x5 file card.  However, since I’m fond of the LETargets SEB target, I used that.  If has 2 circles, 2 squares, 2 triangles, an ocular cavity triangle and a high center mass and pelvic girdle box.  So, I chose to use the six shapes for six 5x5x5 drills, the high center mass and ocular cavity for Gunsite’s “failure” drill formerly called the Mozambique Drill and finally 5 rounds as fast as I could press the trigger into the pelvic girdle.  Round Count . . . 50 rounds.

Here’s the toys I brought for the evening.  100 rounds of ammo, a Gorillapod tripod for my Samsung 7, Dark Angle Blow Out Kit and range refreshments in the form of a Diet Coke. 

I filmed the first two drills so take about 4 minutes and take a look.

Notice anything?  Yep, did a profoundly crappy job of resetting my shirt after each engagement.  Just a reminder to pay attention to detail when you are running your drills.  Other than that the video is a fair representation of what I was attempting to show and talk about.  This is the value of making videos of portions of your training sessions.  It allows you to evaluate yourself much better than trying to remember what you think you did.

After this I proceeded to complete the set of drills with the following results documented on the target.  Bottom line . . . fired 50 rounds, dropped 19 of them for a “score” of 62.  That sucking sound you hear is the final result on target one.  Of course, I have another box of ammo . . . what to do, what to do.  So, I put up a fresh target and repeat the exact same process but this time from a distance of 3 yards, not 5.  And, as you can see from the target below my score improved significantly.  I dropped 8 out of 50 for a final score of 82.  I’m sure the decreased distance is part of the reasons for improvement.  But I also suspect that the preceding 50 rounds of “practice” didn’t hurt either.

So what’s the bottom line?  Shooting is a perishable skill.  If you are telling yourself that a couple summer trips to the range will keep you in ‘tune’ for the whole year . . . please, stop telling yourself stories.
You can get a lot of good work done with 100 rounds of ammunition.  You will naturally work on the foundational building blocks – stance, grip, sight alignment, sight picture, trigger press, follow through, a smooth draw from concealment and a slow – “all the time in the world” holstering when the engagement is over.

The video is a bonus but it allows me to stress the use of the tech you have in your pocket to document your range trips.  Sharpies make it easy to annotate your target, video lets you see what you’re doing in the quiet of your recliner after your range trip.  And all of this lends itself to increasing your documentation of the practice of your craft as well your improvement as a shooter.

So there ya go.  100 rounds of ammo, about an hour of range time, a bit of video, some ink for target annotation . . . and a fine time was had by all!