Top Ten Reasons To Shoot Practical Pistol

Published April 22, 2014 by
Filed under Competition, IDPA, Practice, USPSA

hg_turning_pro_shooter_a

  • It’s fun. Really, really REALLY fun
  • It helps familiarize yourself with your pistol of choice
  • It improves your accuracy under stressful conditions
  • You meet great people
  • It’s better exercise than sitting on the couch
  • It’s mentally challenging
  • It helps prepare you to react to situations with your gun
  • You’ll quickly learn what works with your gun and what doesn’t
  • You’ll find out what skills you need to train to get better with your gun

So why do you shoot action pistol matches? 

Improving your score on the IDPA Classifier

Published April 15, 2014 by
Filed under IDPA, Practice, Training

We’ve talked about what the IDPA Classifier is, now let’s talk about how to shoot it well. 

Classifier Score Sheet

This is my scoresheet from the last Classifier I shot. I really wanted to make Sharpshooter in Stock Service Pistol (SSP) Division with this classifier, but I fell short. Fortunately for me, I know why I didn’t make it and what I need to do to improve. For the past few years, I’ve had a practice regimen that is more about developing my skills overall, so this is the first time I’ve had to practice with a specific goal in mind. 

 Guess where I need to improve…

If you guessed “Stage Three”, you’re right! Stage Three is all about making longer-range shots from 20 and 15 yards, and it’s the only part of the Classifier where you’re shooting around cover. So not only are you making longer shots, you’re making them from positions that are more awkward than the other parts of the course of fire. 

It’s like they’re planning on messing with your head or something…

 Breaking it down, with one exception, (a missed headshot on my third shot on Stage One), the first two stages are, in my opinion, an accurate reflection of my current shooting skill, so there’s not a lot of room for improvement there. However, I know I can shoot Stage Three better than I did, because I have. 

So what did I do wrong? 

For starters, I concentrated on the wrong thing. I’ve been shooting a fair amount of USPSA as of late, and the rules for changing the magazines in your gun in that sport are different than they are in IDPA. In USPSA, it’s perfectly ok to let a partially-full magazine hit the ground, in IDPA, that’s  cause for a 10 point procedural penalty. As I was preparing myself for the stage, I was worrying about my reload, not concentrating on slowing down and making sure I got my shots. 

Whoops. 

Secondly, I rushed my shots. While I took more time for each shot than I did in the other two Stages, the fact is, it wasn’t enough: I could have slowed down even more and made doubly sure that my sight alignment and trigger press were there for each shot, but instead, I rushed things a bit and paid the price for my haste. 

Whoops. Let’s break down my breakdown on Stage Three even more.

My Classifier Score
Stage Time Points Down Score Total Time Time Remaining*
One 33.18 8 37.18 33.18 102.82
Two 33.09 11 38.59 66.27 64.23
Three 49.03 61 79.53 115.3 15.2
Totals 115.3   155.3    

* Time remaining is the time I have (before penalties) to complete the Classifier in order to have a score that will push me into Sharpshooter.

61 points down on that stage includes five missed shots, and at 10 penalty points per shot, that translates into 25 seconds taken off my score. Had I made those shots, that would have put me at 130 seconds for the course of fire and into Sharpshooter. 

Hence my problem. I have to balance the speed of my shots with the accuracy of those shots so I come to a balance where I can do better on that last stage. I shot it in 49.03 seconds, and I don’t think there’s much room for improvement right now with my movement speed between the barricades or getting my gun out of my holster quickly, so any improving my score has to come from improving my shot accuracy.

What this means is that 49 seconds is my par time for practices this stage, and the 15.2 seconds of remaining time translates into 30 max penalty points I can possibly have on Stage Three in order for me to make Sharpshooter. This really should not be a problem, as that’s three times the points down I had on Stage Two. 

Fortunately, I know how fast I shot each string of fire on Stage Three, so that gives me a par time that I can use in my practice sessions, and the 15 seconds time remaining tells me how accurate I need to shoot to make Sharpshooter.

Breaking it down, here’s what my practice drills will need to in order to make everything work. 

Stage Three Drill Time Max. Points Down Allowed
String One 19 10
String Two 22 10
String Three 9 10
Total Time 65  

Intimidating, but I know I can turn and shoot three targets clean at 10 yards in under 11 seconds with a reload, so shooting it at 20 yards in under 19 seconds should not be a problem. As with just about everything in practical shooting, I can do what’s required to be successful, all I need to do is do it on demand while the timer is running. 

And that’s the hard part.

Shooting the IDPA Classifier

Published April 8, 2014 by
Filed under Competition, IDPA, Practice

IDPA is a fast-growing shooting sport that is more focused on “defensive” situations than other shooting sports such as USPSA. People competing in IDPA are sorted according to how well they shoot the IDPA Classifier, a standardized course of fire that is the same for shooters around the world and allows people of equal skill to compete against each other.

The Classifier stage setup looks something like this:

classifier

The course of fire is as follows:

Stage One  7 Yards 30 Shots
String 1 Position #1 Draw and fire 2 shots to the body and 1 to head on T1. 3 shots
String 2 Position #1 Draw and fire 2 shots to the body and 1 to head on T2. 3 shots
String 3 Position #1 Draw and fire 2 shots to the body and 1 to head on T3. 3 shots
String 4 Position #1 Draw and fire 2 shots at each head T1 – T3. 3shots
String 5 Position #1 Start gun in “WEAK” hand pointed down range at a 45 degree angle, safety may be off, but finger must be out of trigger guard, fire 1 shot at each T1 – T3. 3 shots
String 6 Position #1 The shooter will load three rounds maximum in the handgun and begin standing, facing up-range (back to target). On the start signal, the shooter will turn, draw, and engage targets T1 through T3 with one round each. The shooter will then perform a slide- lock reload and re-engage targets T1 through T3 with one round each. 6 shots
String 7 Position #1 Draw and fire 2 shots at each T1 – T3 “STRONG” hand only. 6 shots
Stage Two 10 Yards
String 1 Position #2 Draw and advance toward targets, fire 2 shots at each T1 – T3 while moving forward (all shots must be fired while moving) there is a forward fault line at the 5 yds line for this string 6 shots
String 2 Position #3 Draw and retreat from targets, fire 2 shots at each T1 – T3 while retreating (all shots must be fired while moving). 6 shots
String 3 Position #2 (Load 6 rounds MAX. in pistol) Start back to targets, turn and fire 2 shots at each T1 – T3, reload from slidelock and fire 2 shots at each T1 – T3. 12 shots
String 4 Position #2 Draw and fire 2 shots at each T1 – T3 “STRONG” hand only. 6 shots
Stage Three 20 Yards (Bianchi style barricade and 55 gal. barrel required)
String 1 Position #4 Draw and fire 2 shots at each T1 – T3 from either side of barricade, perform a Tactical Reload and fire 2 shots at each T1 – T3 from the opposite side of barricade. 12 shots
String 2 Position #4 Draw and fire 2 shots at each T1 – T3 from either side of barricade, perform a Tactical Reload and advance to Position #5, fire 2 shots at each T1 – T3 from around either side of 55 gal. barrel. 12 shots
String 3 Position #5 Draw, kneel and fire 2 shots at each T1 – T3 from around either side of 55 gal. barrel. 6 shots
Start position for all strings EXCEPT Stage One/String 5 is hands naturally at your side.

While all those shots look intimidating for beginning shooters, the fact is, the IDPA Classifier is a good test of a your ability to deal with close range targets, long range targets and moving while shooting. As with all IDPA stages, your score on classifier is a mixture of your raw time as measured by a shot timer plus extra time added for poor shooting or not following the rules.

Your score on the Classifier will put you into one of five IDPA classifications:

Times for: ESP SSP CDP ESR SSR
Master (MA) 89.00 or less 91.00 or less 92.00 or less 101.00 or less 102.00 or less
Expert (EX) 89.01 thru 109.00 91.01 thru 110.00 92.01 thru 111.00 101.01 thru 122.00 102.01 thru 124.00
Sharpshooter (SS) 109.01 thru 138.00 110.01 thru 140.00 111.01 thru 142.00 122.01 thru 155.00 124.01 thru 158.00
Marksman (MM) 138.01 thru 190.00 140.01 thru 192.00 142.01 thru 195.00 155.01 thru 212.00 158.01 thru 218.00
Novice (NV) 190.01 or greater 192.01 or greater 195.01 or greater 212.01 or greater 218.01 or greater

So if you raw time plus equals 190 seconds or greater and you’re shooting a Glock in Stock Service Pistol, you’re considered a Novice shooter and compete against other people of similar classification in a match.

Me? I’m on the cusp of breaking into SSP Sharpshooter, and I *almost* made it there last weekend, but alas, I fell short. I’ll have a walk through of how I shot the Classifier and what I can do better to make it to Sharpshooter the next time I shoot it in my next post, and hopefully we’ll both learn something as a result.

Keeping Your Gun Safe in the Home

Published March 24, 2014 by
Filed under Carry, Equipment, Practice, Self Defense, Training

A few months ago, I mentioned that I carry in my home just like I carry outside of my home. Yes, I have a quick-access gun safe and I use it at night to store my CCW gun, but day in, day out, I keep my carry gun on me except when I’m wrestling with my sons or some other activity. 

Why? Because it’s faster to engage a threat with a gun on my hip or in my pocket is faster than any off-body storage method, that’s why. 

Which is faster: A gun in a nightstand drawer or in a gun safe

Published March 11, 2014 by
Filed under Carry, Equipment, Mindset, Practice, Self Defense

I’m not a big fan of leaving loaded guns lying around the house because it’s kinda like leaving the bleach jug in the refrigerator next to the milk jug: Something bad is going to happen, it’s not a question of IF, it’s only a question of WHEN.

So we decided to test things to find out if a gun safe safe is a better alternative to leaving your gun in a nightstand drawer, and the results really surprised us.

A few notes about this test:

  • Jaci and Robert are almost identically-skilled as shooters
  • They used guns they were familiar with
  • Robert was not familiar with how to use that gun safe because we wanted to simulate the stress of figuring out how to open it correctly under stress
  • The shots were so close together, the shot timer app on my phone couldn’t tell them apart. 

The gun safe we used was this model from Paragon safes, but if I’m honest, I prefer GunVault safes

Accepting the responsibility of owning a gun.

Published December 17, 2013 by
Filed under Carry, CCW, Mindset, Practice, Self Defense, Training

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Owning a firearm for personal defense is the most grown-up decision you’ll make in your life because you realize that an armed representative of the state (a cop) will not be there when you need one and you are, and always will be, your own first responder. 

I agree with Rob Pincus: The government shouldn’t mandate training as a pre-requisite to gun ownership, anymore than they should mandate J-School classes before owning a typewriter. It’s the duty of responsible people to set up and advocate responsible actions for anyone wanting to own a gun, and training is definitely a part of that equation. 

BTW, for more info on Combat Focus Shooting in Arizona, check out Phoenix Firearms Training

What you didn’t learn in your Concealed Carry Class

Published December 3, 2013 by
Filed under Carry, CCW, Competition, Mindset, Practice, Self Defense, Training

Dave Spaulding (who knows more about firearms training than just about anyone else on the planet) talks about grip and stance. 

One of the things that annoys me about 90% of the “Tactical” training out there is that they teach you a “perfect” grip and stance, which you will probably never, ever use if (God forbid) you need to defend your life with your gun. Real life is not a shooting range: There’s a zero percent chance you’ll be wearing hearing protection if/when you’ll need to use a gun defensively, and the stress you’ll be under when you do is nothing like the stress of shooting at a range. 

This is one of the reasons why I encourage new gun owners to shoot at least one practical pistol competition: You’ll get a much better understanding of how your body reacts to stress when you have a gun in your hand, and you’ll see the need to close the gap between your skill level shooting in the relaxed environment of a square range versus  your skill under the pressure of competition. 

“A shooting match isn’t a gunfight, but a gunfight is certainly a shooting match.”Massad Ayoob.

How To Improve Your Shooting Without Firing A Shot

Published November 27, 2013 by
Filed under IDPA, Practice, Self Defense, USPSA

It’s the difference between winning trophies and finishing at the bottom of the match results.  It’s also a critical part of being able to successfully defend yourself.  It’s my least favorite part of being a competitive shooter, and I often refer to it as the “P” word:

Practice.

Like it or not, practice is a must to improve your shooting skills, but it doesn’t have to involve spending lots of money and time throwing lead down range.  Dry fire practice is an incredibly effective method for improving your shooting skills, and it’s much less expensive and time consuming than live fire practice.  There are several companies that make tools and training aids to help make dry fire practice more interesting and effective, here are a few of the tools that I use when I dry fire:

Dry Fire Training Books

steveandersondryfireMany of the top competitive shooters in the world use dry fire practice to keep them at the top of their game, and a few of these top shooters have written books on the subject.  Both Steve Anderson’s Refinement and Repetition, Dry-fire Drills for Dramatic Improvement and Ben Stoeger’s Champion Shooting: Guaranteed Results in 15 Minutes a Day, Vol. 2 include several drills that include presentation skills, advanced multiple target engagement and transition techniques.  Both of these gentlemen used dry fire practice drills to achieve the rank of Grand Master in USPSA, and they share those same drills in these books.

 

 

Laser Training

LT-9_40_45-laserlyte-dryfire

Laserlyte makes these nifty training lasers that fit inside your pistol chamber. They have a firing-pin activated switch that beams a bright red laser dot when you pull the trigger, so you can see exactly where you are placing your shot.  I’ve found mine very useful when doing draw to first shot drills.  You can find the Laserlyte training cartridge at Brownells for $80, they are available in .380, 9mm, .40 and .45.  

 

 

Airsoft

we-2011pistol-airsoft

Airsoft pistols are a great way to add some fun to your training program.  Higher end airsoft pistols are built to look and function just like the real thing, but they shoot plastic pellets.  I’ve been using a WE brand High CAPA 5.1 (2011 style) airsoft pistol for a couple of years, and except for the recoil, it feels and shoots just like the real thing.  Take it out in the backyard, tape a target to a cardboard box and go!  Expect to pay $100 to $150 for a decent quality, gas blowback airsoft pistol.

 

 

 

COMMON SENSE SAFETY WARNING:  ALWAYS Follow the Four Rules of Gun Safety (even with an airsoft pistol), and read these great tips about Dry Fire Safety.  I accept no responsibility or liability for anything that happens as a result of reading or following the above information  Don’t shoot people or animals with an airsoft.  Be safe, have fun.

 

 

TeamGunBlogger may have received a review copy of a product mentioned here and may receive a commission on referrals or sales generated.  Our reviews are based solely upon personal opinion and have not been influenced by any company entity.

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