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:


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


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 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.

Try shooting practical pistol. You might like it.

Published September 17, 2013 by
Filed under Competition, IDPA, Practice, USPSA

“Know thy enemy, know thyself, and you will be invincible.” 

– Sun Tzu

When I was a professional photographer, inevitably, once someone found out what I did for a living, I’d be asked “Say, I want to take better pictures, what kind of camera should I get?” 

My answer to this was always “Well, that depends. How many rolls of film do you shoot each week?”, which would usually end that part of the conversation as the would-be photographer grapples with the concept of shooting an entire 36-shot roll of film each week, much less more than one, where it was not uncommon for me to burn through two dozen rolls of HP5+ or TMZ covering just one high school basketball game. 

The point I was trying to make is that it’s not the camera that limits the photographer, it’s his or her ability to put in the time necessary to realize their vision and their desire to push their creativity that limits a photographer.

Looking back on this now, I realize my answer to the wannabe photogs was/is snarky and condescending: People want to take better pictures not to become the next Mark Seliger, they want to capture memories that are more evocative and aesthetic, something all of us share. 

Which brings me to practical shooting. I’m blessed/cursed to call Rio Salado Sportsmans Club my home range. It’s loaded to the gills with USPSA Grandmasters. It’s a blessing in that each match is challenging and exciting, but each match is meant to be challenging and exciting to shooters like Rob Leatham, Vic Pickett and Matt Burkett. 

This can discourage beginning shooters. Imagine cranking off the best golf drive in your life and then have Tiger Woods shoot behind you and out-drive you by 100 yards. 

The upside to this, though, is that in the words of The Chairman Of The Board, if I can make it there, I can make it anywhere. And  another great thing about shooting at Rio is the opportunity to participate and shoot in some 1st-class matches like the Desert Classic and Mystery 3 Gun, which bring in shooters from around the country. I get to meet some of the best shooters in the world, and the prize tables for each match can be really good

This explains why I like shooting laid-back, easy-to-shoot steel matches with friends on a regular basis rather than the more difficult but less friendly USPSA matches at Rio. I like Rio: I do all my practicing there and I’ll still shoot a USPSA match there as often as I can, but right now, it’s important that I believe I can shoot well and do so when needed, even in the toughest of competitions. My practice sessions are there for me to prepare me physically, the steel matches are there to prepare me mentally. My standard for success needs to be me and the progress I have made, not the best shooters in the world can do.

If you’ve been thinking “Well, gosh, there’s no way I can shoot a pistol competition”, you need to give a try. Buy a good holster and some mag pouches, find a low-key “Steel” match in the middle of the week, let the people who run it know that this is your first time shooting a match, and you’ll soon find out that practical pistol is a fun way to learn to shoot better and keep your skills sharp. 

Cool training vs. effective training

Published September 3, 2013 by
Filed under Mindset, NRA, Practice, Training

I REALLY want to hunt hogs from helicopters.

Why? Because I’d be in a low-flying helicopter, shooting a rifle, ridding the country of a loathsome invasive species that’s causing an ecological nightmare and harvesting my own organic, steroid-free, free-range bacon, all that the same time.

What’s not to love? 

But that sort of thing has absolutely NOTHING to do with my life outside of the helicopter. Sure, it looks like too much fun for any one man to have, but useful for my day-to-day life? No way. 

Which brings us around to firearms training.

As I see it, your first firearms class should be about the things you’re most likely to need, such as safe gun handling and storage. Using a gun a to defend your life is (thankfully) a very rare event, but safe gun handling is something you’ll need every time you pick up a gun. 

Start your training off right with safety, because techniques may come and go, but safe gun handling never goes out of style.

Choosing your first firearms trainer

Published August 6, 2013 by
Filed under Carry, Practice, Training

firearms-trainingSo you’ve purchased a firearm for self-defense, (good), and want to learn how to use it safely (better), so you start to look around online and ask people you know who’ve they’ve trained with. 

This isn’t a bad way to find a trainer, but how do you evaluate their advice? We’ve all gone the mechanic who was recommended by someone else, only to find out they were less than competent and messed up our car something fierce. Here’s a few guidelines to help locate a trainer that can help you learn to shoot better when you’ll need it the most.  

  1. Look for trainers who are nationally certified by a recognized training organization. 
    The NRA is the largest firearms training organization in the world and has certified thousands of people to teach others to safely use a firearm. Other programs such as the Combat Focus Shooting program are starting to go nationwide and would also be an excellent choice for a first-time gun owner.
  2. Look for trainers who teach safely. 
    There is absolutely NO reason for students, instructors or photographers to go “down range” (i.e. by the targets) at any time during live fire. 
    None. Zero. Zippo. If your prospective trainer talks about how his methods are too “hardcore” or how he plays by “big boy rules”, smile politely and walk away. Real life is scary enough, there’s no reason to make it more dangerous when you train. 
  3. Train the skills you’re most likely to need. 
    I suck at long-range shooting. Anything over 300 yards with a rifle is theoretical at best for me. I need to train that skill in order to get better at it, but it’s also not a priority for me right now because I’m not a hunter or a sniper and don’t need to make a 500 yard rifle shot on a regular basis. 
    If you’re looking at a trainer who talks about the latest “Tier One Tactical Operator” techniques and how he can teach YOU to shoot like a Navy SEAL in just two short days, smile politely and walk away. The fact is, you’re NOT a Navy SEAL, you’re a regular person who wants to stay safe in a dangerous world. Leave the SWAT tactics to the police. Your job isn’t to clear a building, your job is to keep you and those you care about safe until more help arrives.
  4. Be prepared for your class before you show up the first day. 
    If you don’t own ear protection or eye protection, buy some. A good trainer will have extra sets of safety gear for students that forget theirs, but you really should own your own. I like electronic hearing protection like these inexpensive Howard Leight earmuffs for training classes because they allow me to clearly hear the instructor’s commands, but filter out the loud noises when the bang-bang part begins. For eye protection, well, you get what you pay for, and considering how much you use them, you REALLY don’t want something cheap protecting your eyes on the firing line.
    Also, make sure you have the minimum amount of  ammo required for the class (plus 10 percent more) on-hand at least a week before the class starts, because these days, chances are there will NOT be ammo available when you need it.

A quick note about hats and firearms training: There’s a reason why you see almost everyone in a training class wearing a ball cap of some sort as they’re shooting their guns on the firing line: A spent casing can go just about anywhere when it’s ejected from a gun, and if that hot piece of brass gets lodged in-between the top of your shooting glasses and your eyebrow, it can ruin your whole day and/or eyesight as well. Wear a cap with a brim on it when you shoot to deflect brass and stop this from happening.

Train now, and train safely, because if, God forbid, you need to use your gun to defend your life, you won’t “rise to the occasion”, you’ll fall to your lowest level of skill. Learn to shoot quickly and accurately now, before you need it on the worst day of your life.

Can you make the shot when you need to?

Published July 18, 2013 by
Filed under Carry, Competition, Mindset, Practice, Self Defense, Training

Clamshell-1All of us here at TeamGunblogger support practical pistol shooting as part of a balanced approach to self-defense, and one of the reasons why I shoot competitions on a regular basis it to test my shooting skills in stressful situations. In other words, can I make the shot when it’s needed, and what are the limits of my shooting ability?

Case in point, Stage 10 from the 2012 USPSA Area 2 Championships, specifically the 1:07 mark in this video where I drop a round into a no-shoot as it covered up the “shoot” target.

I was confident I could make the shot and put two rounds into the shoot target before the no-shoot covered it up, except I couldn’t. My shooting skill couldn’t cash the check my mind was writing for it. The good news is, I gained this knowledge in the context of competition and not out on the street, where the consequences of not hitting your target (or hitting the wrong target) is a LOT more severe than just a few penalty points in a shooting match. 



Firearms Training has become mainstream

Published June 27, 2013 by
Filed under Carry, CCW, Competition, Equipment, Practice, Training

DSC_3985When The Art Of Manliness posts an article about attending the United States Shooting Academy and how to train with an airsoft gun, you know that learning how to operate a gun safely and effectively isn’t something for the military or mall ninja wannabes. Brett lists out some of the benefits of airsoft guns for firearms training, including… 

1:1 replica of your real gun. You can buy airsoft guns that look and feel like your real gun. They’ll fit in your holster. You can also add real-life tactical attachments to them. 

Provides near-realistic live-fire experience. Gas blow-back handguns do a good job simulating firing a real handgun. Great for practicing gun manipulation and drawing.

Low cost. This was the big selling point for me. A box of 50 real rounds can set you back $20. I can buy a bag of 3,500 airsoft BBs for $7. The low cost of airsoft allows you to experience a simulated live fire session for a fraction of the cost.

Safe. While you should treat an airsoft gun as if it were a real gun and take the same precautions as you would when practicing, you can rest easy that a BB won’t shoot through your garage wall and kill somebody.

You can do it anywhere. Instead of having to trek 20 miles to the gun range a few times a week, I can go to my garage every evening and practice to my heart’s content.

Provides opportunity for affordable, safe force-on-force training. If you want to practice real, force-on-force tactical scenarios, airsoft can help provide that experience. You can fire it at your buddy pretending to be a bad guy in your house and all he’ll feel is a sting (make sure he’s wearing eye protection though).

Awhile ago, I bought an airsoft replica of my daily carry gun, a CZ P07, and I found that practicing with it REALLY helped with practicing for practical pistol, and it was a great gun safety teaching tool for my wife and kids as well. If you’re hurting for training and practice because of the ongoing ammo shortage, consider purchasing airsoft replicas of your most-used guns and keep your skills up to date by practicing everything but the BANG with them.

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