We’ve talked about what the IDPA Classifier is, now let’s talk about how to shoot it well.
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.
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*|
* 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|
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.
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.
One of my bugaboos right now is there is little, if any integrated training right now for “civilians” that combines firearms and empty-hand techinques into a cohesive whole. I can go the the range and practice and train with a gun, and I can go to the dojo and learn to take (and throw) a punch, but there are precious few trainiers out there that are bringing the two together and teaching it in a way that is replicatable outiside of the dojo/range. Part of the problem, I think, is what we’re using to train ourselves. How can we in the “civilian” world talk about integrating guns and empty-hand techniques in a “force continuum” when we don’t have a target system that allows for a variety of responses? We shoot at IPSC, IDPA, etc and practice with our firearms shooting at paper targets, and then throw punches and kicks at an entirely different type of target in the dojo.
Maybe we need a one-size fits all target, something that can respond to punch or a kick like a heavy bag and at the same time take a pistol or .223 round without requiring major surgery. Something like that will allow us to judge our responses by the target’s threat (or not) and not by what the target is made out of. We’re training ourselves to shoot paper and punch heavy-duty PVC, we need to think in terms of threat itself, not what the target is made out of.
Thinking more about things, the place where we do our training influences also what we’re learning. I know going into the dojo that I’m going to learn punches/kicks/throws and the most we’ll deal with firearms is maybe a blue gun or two. I know walking onto the range I’m going to work on solving lethal force threats with a gun, and for safety reasons, I’m not probably not going to do anything physical while I’m armed.
What if we didn’t know what we were training for until we got to the training site?
What if a range was set up so that people could train with airsoft and/or empty-hand in one side, and safely practice live-fire on another side? How would that affect how we integrate concealed carry and empty-hand defensive techniques? What are your thoughts? Is what we’re using for practice targets and where we’re training affecting our approach to armed and unarmed self-defense?
A demonstration of the fatal problem with V.P. Joe Biden’s dangerous self defense advice.
Team GunBlogger’s advice? Don’t take self-defense (or any other) advice from Joe Biden.
Video credit: Practical Pistol competitor, Brian Ehrler
Time are tough right now. Unless you’re an LEO or in the military, finding ammo for practice and training is well nigh impossible. 9mm, .223, .40, you name it, it can’t be found. Here’s a few suggestions to help keep your firearm skills sharp while we weather this ammo drought.
Learn something new.
I took a two-hour sporting clays class earlier this month and had a blast. I’ve never really had any instruction on wing-shooting, and those two short hours helped me bust more clays than I did before. Is it tactical? Probably not. Is it fun? Oh yeah. Next time I’ll use my Mossberg 930SPX, just to get in a little bit of loading practice and work on those popper/flying clay pigeon combo targets so common in 3 Gun.
In a similar vein, why not take some time and get re-acquainted with your rifle? No, not the AR-15 that has enough stuff hanging off its rails to decorate a Hanukkah bush. I’m talking a RIFLE, a bolt-action or semi-auto gun in a major caliber (bigger than .223) that can reach out and touch someone beyond where your M4gery can reach. After all, you’ll want to find out that you need to update your rifle with new accessories or a new scope NOW and not when you really need to make the shot. Besides that, the slow pace of a precision rifle work means you won’t burn through your precious ammo supply at a fast rate, and you can find hunting calibers (.30-06, .243, 7mm, etc) right now, even if the more common calibers are all gone from the store shelves.
Practice without ammo
Sure, there’s dry fire practice, and dry fire practice can be very good for things like quick reloads and finding out where’s the best location for all your daily carry. Dry fire practice is also very good for getting rid of any latent tendency to jerk the trigger (and I let you know how good when I get rid of mine…), but caveat emptor: Repeating a mistake in dry fire over and over again means you’ll repeat that mistake over and over again with real ammo.
Airsoft is another option for practicing without ammo. You can find gas or electric action airsoft guns that feel and work just like most common semi-automatic pistols and rifles, which means you can you practice with all those accessories you bought like holsters and mag pouches, but not have to wear ear protection while doing so. Again, it’s not the same as real ammo, but it sure beats sitting around waiting for your backordered .45 to show up.
Those are just two suggestions: What else are YOU doing to get through this current ammo shortage?