Monday, October 26, 2020

Range Trip – 10-24-2020 – Maintaining Proficiency

Practice with purpose . . . I say this to my students over and over.  Do not go to the range just to make holes in the paper.  A range trip should focus on a specific skill set, provide practice for an issue the shooter may be having or . . . it may be just to maintain proficiency.  So, let’s chat about that specifically – maintaining proficiency.  Proficiency in what exactly???

 In a number of areas that Gunsite would call the Combat Triad – mindset, gun handling and marksmanship.

 Mindset – your mindset encompasses the entirety of your defensive skill set.  Do you take the idea of personal responsibility for your safety, the safety of your family or someone in your charge seriously??  Do you carry every day everywhere you can legally?  Do you maintain a “Condition Yellow” – are you observant of your surroundings?  Do you understand that there are genuinely folks out there that would do you harm given a chance?  Yeah, yeah – I understand . . . we’re in Iowa for Pete’s sake, relax . . . That is, of course, your choice . . . but Murphy’s a bitch . . . just sayin’.  As far as how a range trip helps maintain your Mindset – the fact that you take the maintenance of your skillsets serious enough that you do consistent range trips goes a long way towards maintaining a Mindset of being aware and understanding that you’re responsible for your personal defense.

 Gun Handling – Can you “run your gun”??  This includes loading, clearing, managing malfunctions and clearing them quickly, use of a light and sling, mounting it to your shoulder, remembering holdovers at multiple distances, us of accessories like backup sights, your optic of choice, checking your weapon zero, cleaning, quickly and smoothly drawing your pistol  . . . honestly it’s not a long list . . . but it is an important list.

 Marksmanship . . . can you hit what you need to in a timely manner?  There is a true balance between speed and precision.  For my range work I’ve settled on rapid single round engagements – a must to refresh the mechanics of mounting your weapon or drawing your pistol.  I spend some time on what Gunsite calls “hammers” – two rapid fire rounds to the high center mass area.  And finally some time on “failure drills” . . . a “hammer’ followed by a single round to the head box.

 As for time for me, start to finish is typically an hour to an hour and a half.  I try to keep a modest round count – 3ea 20 round magazines for my AR and 3ea 15 round magazines for my Glock 17 – and that is my every day carry weapon.  Total round count for the trip is 105 rounds.  Is this enough to learn a new skill set?? No.  Is it enough to maintain a skill level?  Yes, provided you mix in some dry fire as well outside of the range.  I accomplish this work with a SIRT pistol in a Glock format.

 Of course, I try to maintain proficiency with other weapons as well.  So, monthly, I try to shoot courses of fire that consumes . . .

 50 Rounds of .22 cal for my Ruger 22 precision rifle – I use Eley Club

40 Rounds PMC XTAC .223 for my Ruger Predator

40 Rounds PMC XTAC .308 for my Ruger Precision

100 Rounds 9mm for my Glock 17 – usually in two separate 50 round trips

60 Rounds of .223 for my “Duty” AR that I use for personal defense.

 Here’s an image of a 3-month loadout for range work.

 Bottom line it’s not a high round count annually – but it is enough – in my opinion – to maintain a skill set.

 Now, if I want to improve my skill set, or learn a new one this will typically involve taking a course of some type typically from 1 to 3 days and typically in the neighborhood of 250 to 1200 rounds of ammunition.  That is where you learn and cement in a new skill set.  The work listed above is where you work to maintain your skill level.  The trick here – other than actually finding enough ammunition to pull this off – is the individual discipline to actually do the work.  And, with the typical pace of life, that can also be a challenge.  Find the time.  Do the work.  Maintaining this skill set is simply too important.

 The next part of this is evaluation of the work you’re doing.  There are tons of ways to “score” our targets.  I score it pretty simply – if the round is “in” or touching, it’s a hit . . . if it isn’t you “drop one”.  I used a bit of a different target this time – a standard IDPA target with two 3” “stickies” I stuck near the shoulders. 

I engaged the left “stickie” from 25 yards with my AR, single round engagements.  Hanging my head in shame . . . I shot a 10%.  Holdover is a real thing, just sayin’ . . .  And I engaged the right sticky with my Glock 17 and shot a 50% - when using a combination of a Trijicon High Vis front sight and “The Claw” rear sight (which has a BIG rear notch) it should be obvious which rounds I took the time to get a good sight alignment on . . . and which I did not.  This is another purpose of maintenance trips – to remind you that the details matter.  If you last took a carbine class a year ago . . . do you remember all the little details you learned???  Range trips are necessary . . . just sayin’ . . .

 The remaining 85 rounds were split between the headbox and the High Center Mass box . . . 20 rounds for the head – I dropped 5.  65 rounds for the HCM box – I also dropped five.  I dropped a total of 10 rounds out of 85 for a score of 88%.  I accept 80% as a minimum score on the range . . . so I’ll take it. 

There was one other element I added on this day that I’ll present as a separate post . . . but I’ve added a “battle belt”.  It’s about a 6” tall, padded belt with molle loops and a belt running through it’s center to secure it over my regular belt.  It allows me to position two mag carriers for my G17 mags, 3 mag carriers for my PMAGS, allows me to secure a blowout kit in the center of my back and I added a SERPA holster with Molle attachments at around 4 o’clock.  Honestly, I just can’t get into tac vests . . . just not my thing.  I “grew up” with the LBE rigs of the late 60 and I found this similar but more flexible.  My reason for adding this is that my range work going forward will include both my AR and my pistol and this seemed the best way to go about it.  I’ve taken high volume pistol and carbine coursework before and tried clip on mag carriers as well as using my pant’s pockets . . . and it just seemed like it was time to move on.  Honestly, not sure how this experiment will end, but I’ll stick with it for 2021 and then reassess at the end of the year.

 So, I took a lot of words to say . . . go to the damn range, do it consistently, be diligent, take your ability to run your gun and hit what  you need to hit seriously . . . because . . . honestly . . . when you call 911 . . . the person that will need to respond to the immediate threat is . . . YOU!  The cops will just bat “clean-up” and put down crime scene tape and chalk lines . . .

You, and you alone are your first responder.


1 comment:

  1. Practice is the key to being able to 'function' when one needs to. And you're right, YOU are the first responder.