FBI Firearms Qualification

It is December in Nebraska–30 degrees (Fahrenheit) out, with nice gusty winds so that the weather folks say it actually feels like 20 degrees out.  Obviously, it is a good day to shoot the FBI Firearms Qualification outdoors!

I decided to do this for a couple of reasons:

  1. I haven’t shot this in awhile, and I’ve never shot it on camera while freezing, so I thought it might be interesting to see how I’d do, and how much the cold would affect me.
  2. In my last article, I talked about how this is a good qualification to run for “court value,” which is something that Greg Ellifritz mentions in his article, linked above. As such, it seemed like a good idea to show what it looks like for those who don’t know the course of fire.

It was so cold I couldn’t talk correctly.  My face was numb, and I was having problems forming words correctly.  No, I don’t have a speech impediment, but you couldn’t tell that from how I was talking….

Continue reading

Pistol-Caliber Carbine

With the recent addition of various pistol-caliber carbine divisions to the USPSA and Steel Challenge shooting sports, there is an increased interest in PCCs.  While there has always been a small group of proponents of PCC (for home defense or whatever), the addition of PCC divisions in well-known shooting sports (among shooters, at least) has caused a definite increase in both the availability of various-brand PCCs, and the number of buyers. Continue reading

Marine Pistol Qualification

Let’s be blunt here—the vast majority of people in the military either spend very little time with a pistol, or no time at all. There are plenty of people in the military who have never shot, much less qualified with, a pistol. Of those that have, most engage in less than 100 rounds of practice (including qualification) every year.

It is certainly true that there ARE groups in the military that not only put in significant practice with pistols, but are demonstrated high-level experts in their use.  However, those groups are very specific and well-known, and contain a very small number of troops, for only a tiny percentage of the military as a whole.

As such, the comment of “I was in the military” is meaningless in terms of being any sort of indicator of pistol proficiency.  It is similar to saying “I’ve been a hunter for 20 years” — the information given doesn’t tell you anything about the person’s pistol skill level. Continue reading

Why are you so mean?

Periodically, someone asks me why I’m so direct with my replies regarding civil rights such as self-defense.  They get angry because I say what I mean, without cushioning it for their feelings.  I’m not impolite, I just (quite some time ago) lost patience with caring about certain people’s feelings if I tell the truth, back it with facts, and state my conclusions from it, and they get all angry because their defense is purely emotional, with no rational basis.

“Why are you so mean?” I hear. Continue reading

Is 2016 the year you get better?

I didn’t get enough better in 2015.

I did some good stuff.  (Among other things, Tom Givens’s Instructor Development Course was excellent.)  I shot some good things here and there (won a couple of state-level IDPA matches, placed here and there in USPSA matches).  And I got in some good practice and read and mulled over some good research regarding self-defense.

But my physical skills didn’t get enough better in 2015 because I didn’t practice the physical skills enough.  Mental work—actually, I did some really good mental work through the year.  Organized some thoughts on awareness and monitoring (those aren’t the same thing), read some research on predator behavior (both known-person and unknown-person), did some good internal work on reaction choices and consequences, came up with some good teachable moments regarding self-defense.  Oh, and got my 5th degree black belt rank in Hapkido.

But my physical skills didn’t improve as much as I wanted for the year.  Because I didn’t practice like I should have.

Did you?

IDPA Tactical Journal (19.4)…

So, I read the latest Tactical Journal this morning (yes, I know it has been out awhile, I don’t want to hear it) and I thought I’d comment on something I read in it.

For those who don’t know, the “Tactical Journal” is the “whenever we feel like it” publication of the International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA) containing supposedly excellent articles about the sport, self-defense, and so on.

[cough, cough]

Anyway:  I’ll ignore the fact that Robert Ray’s article* about the 2015 World Championship (by the way, Robert is the editor of the Tactical Journal, and one of the major rule-arbiters in IDPA) completely got wrong the first, second and third place finishers in CCP division.  Not only was he wrong, but he wrote about a third of a page about the supposed winner being the first time someone from outside the US has won, etc, etc—-too bad that guy wasn’t the winner.  His article didn’t even MENTION the guy that actually won the division at the 2015 IDPA World Championship.

But we’ll ignore that.

We’ll also ignore Joyce Wilson’s comment about how the points down penalty will be doubled because two MAs and one EX think we should do it, and how all the feedback that she’s gotten has been positive (all evidence, discussion, commentary, and quotes to the contrary), and how there is no actual timetable for this because they don’t know what they are doing and how it will affect classifications.

We’ll ignore that too.

No, my ACTUAL comment is on the article where they asked a number of female MM shooters what they wanted for Christmas—and one said that she wanted a class from Front Sight, “to improve [their] accuracy and timing.”   Another was getting her husband “something special” — a course at Front Sight.

Front Sight.

Seriously?  Was the point of this article to show that even in the shooting sports, people make stupid choices about where to train, and who to train with?

I wish I could find Tamara Keel‘s comment about training with people or groups like Front Sight, Suarez, and Yeager—it was a great quote, but I think it was in the comments on one of her posts and I can’t find it.

Front Sight. Seriously. Sheesh.



*I note that I met Robert Ray when I went down and shot the Arkansas State IDPA match this past year.  He was polite, seemed like a nice guy, and I saw him make a number of rules decisions that seemed logical, pragmatic, and sensible.  So this comment about his article is not about him as a person, but it certainly is about how the overall editor of the whole magazine shouldn’t be making this kind of egregiously awful mistake in something as easily factually checked as this.

I shot badly at the last match…

Awhile back, my wife mentioned to me that people had told her that it was annoying when they’d hear me mention that I did really badly on a stage–and then would find out later that I won that stage.  Or that I’d say that I only shot well for two stages, but pretty badly on three others–even though I won the match.

According to them, it made them angry or upset because I seemed to be saying that since I shot badly and won, then their shooting must have been horrible because I beat them.

I’m curious:  When you first teach someone to shoot, if they act safely, demonstrate the fundamentals well, and can hit the target most times, don’t you praise them for doing well?  Because they ARE doing well?

If a powerlifter wins a meet but doesn’t actually perform near any of his PRs, should he be happy about his performance?

If someone wins a D-class football state championship, don’t you tell them that they did really well, even though they would have been destroyed by the A-class state champion?

If the USPSA Production National Champion came to a local match, and shot with TWO TIMES as many dropped points as he normally has, isn’t that really poor shooting for him?  Even though it wouldn’t change the fact that it would still be good enough to beat us all?  He would rightfully be unhappy with himself for shooting badly, even though it still left him far ahead of us.

One of the things that I like most about the shooting sports is that while we are competing against other people, we are also competing against ourselves–and the people who get REALLY good are the ones who pay attention to how they shoot, and work on trying to always shoot to their level of competency.  (Preferably above, but in a test situation, if I can shoot to my standard level of competency the entire time, I’m all sorts of happy.)  In practice, we try to raise our level of competency, but in tests, we at least try to shoot to our level of competency.

I won the Production division of the Steel Challenge match we shot the other day.  I wasn’t happy with how I shot, however–it was not up to my level of competency on four of six stages (I was about 2 seconds slower than my normal time on each of those four stages) and I was mediocre on another (about 1 second slower than normal) so while that one stage was ok, I was only happy with one stage in which I managed to shoot Smoke & Hope under 10 seconds for the second time ever. I actually shot slightly above my previous expected competency level for that stage, which made me really happy.

Being under 10 seconds is a big deal to me, as it has been a goal of mine for quite some time. Now, national-level folks consistently shoot Smoke & Hope under 10 seconds.  For them, beating 10 seconds isn’t a goal, it is their expected level of competency.  They would consider it poor shooting for themselves to NOT make 10–and I consider it a wonderful thing if I make 10.

If I say “I didn’t shoot well” it means simply that—I did not shoot well, compared to my competency level.  I can, with perfect honesty, tell someone who got half of my score that they shot really well if they exceeded their normal competency–that would make for a great match for them!  That would be something they should be proud of, and it has NOTHING to do with how well they shot compared to me.

I can shoot badly and still sometimes win a match.  I can shoot really well and not win a match, because if I shot to my level of competency (or above!) for an entire match, I’d be perfectly happy even if I didn’t win.

I’ve shot against Ben Stoeger a number of times now, and have never come even remotely close to beating him.  And yet, several of those times I’ve been happy with my overall shooting for the match.  At the same time, I know he’s been unhappy with himself for some of his shooting during those exact same matches in which he destroyed the rest of us.

Instead of taking things personally, people might instead start thinking about their shooting and rating it compared to their current competency level, as opposed to making everything about how they compare to others.  🙂

Can you consistently shoot to your level of competency when tested?  Then that is something to be happy about.  (It also means it is time for you to up your level of competency through practice!)

…and that has nothing to do with how you did relative to other people.