A Facebook friend commented about the fact that some major corporations had dropped the requirement for a college degree. She agreed with the change because her experience was that her education had no apparent value to her current employment.
There’s a lot of validity in her comments although she may not be considering the totality of what she learned in college. This is especially true given the amount of subsequent education, in different forms, she has undertaken. In the words of the motivational speaker, Steve Chandler, she clearly has emotionally left High School behind, which many people never do.
For many years, employers valued a college degree for a number of reasons. Some of them, STEM and professional related degrees, related to an entry level understanding of material necessary for job performance. In a broader sense, a college degree had value in that it demonstrated the ability to think clearly about a myriad of subjects, communicate effectively, do research, and to have a goal and stick to the tasks required to achieve it for an extended period of time. These values also applied to getting a High School Diploma. The system involved both Process and Performance.
The most important Fundamental of all is to be sure your gun works. A recently purchased used revolver seemed okay in most aspects except the cylinder lockup had a hitch. Upon actually shooting it, it worked fine for the first 10 rounds. After that, the trigger could not be pulled with the cylinder closed. As I suspected, something was wrong with the center pin spring and the center pin would not push the bolt into position when the cylinder closed. Moving the bolt into position before it will fire is fundamental to double action revolver design.
Upon examining it later, there was no center pin spring, hence the issue. Someone had obviously messed with it because the extractor rod came free quite easily. Fortunately, the sear/bolt spring for a S&W fit adequately and fixed the problem.
As my colleague, the late Paul Gomez, was fond of saying, “Shoot Yor ….. Guns.”
After repairing it, I used it for another form of progression in practice, increasing distance incrementally. Starting out at a close distance, marking your target after each string, and then increasing the distance gives you an indication of where your strengths and weakness lie. Knowing them gives you an idea of what to practice next.
First in a series about ‘Running the Snub.’
In a discussion of revolver reloading techniques on my 1000 Days of Dryfire Facebook group, I posted a video of myself shooting the Alabama State IDPA Championship with a snub revolver.
The video generated the following question, which I think is worth some discussion and explanation.
Claude, I watched your video, and to me, you display amazing recoil management – the gun hardly moves. I was under the impression that snubbies are especially hard to shoot and control, particularly in this skill area. Can you share what you are doing to control recoil so well? Maybe details on how you grip the gun, and what kind of load you are firing?
Let’s deal with the simple questions first. I was shooting a two inch K frame at the Championship, which weighs almost twice what an Airweight J Frame does. That has some effect on the recoil management. The load I was using was my IDPA handload, which is ballistically equivalent to 158 grain Round Nose Lead standard pressure. I prefer not to use lead bullets so my load used a plated bullet.
The next issue to deal with is “snubbies are especially hard to shoot and control.” That’s been ‘common knowledge’ among the shooting community for as long as I can remember but how true is it? Like many other aspects of ‘common knowledge’ among gun industry common taters, I’m skeptical about that. So, I decided to do a little more Comparative Testing.
The test I chose was 5^4 (5 rounds in no more than 5 seconds at 5 yards into a 5 inch or less group). The 5^4 protocol was originally developed by Gila Hayes of the Armed Citizens’ Legal Defense Network for her book, Effective Defense: The Woman, the Plan, the Gun and subsequent later editions. .
Retro posts bring to mind how often the same issues and the same interpretations arise. In this case, someone referenced my post about How many rounds to carry. https://tacticalprofessor.wordpress.com/2016/11/28/how-many-rounds-to-carry/
A comment referenced Tom Givens’ statement “I have never met someone, who has been in a gunfight, tell me they wish they’d had a lot less ammunition”.
My reply to that is something else Tom often says.
“It’s not how much you last practiced, it’s when you last practiced.”
To that, I would add “And how you last practiced and what you got out of it.” It’s easy to pick out one snippet of someone’s philosophy because it fits your purposes and ignore other integral parts of the philosophy. Even if you can’t get to range three times a week, can you spare five minutes those three days to do five draws, five aimed trigger presses with two hands, five with your dominant hand, and five with your support hand? If you can’t be bothered to expend fifteen minutes a week in dry practice, two extra magazines on your person are most likely meaningless.
Another way of looking at it is that it’s not the ammunition on your body that will save your life, it’s the ammunition that you’ve fired in practice that will save you. This is a corollary to something that’s taught in survival training; “It’s not the water in your canteen that will save your life, it’s the water in your body.”
I wish I hadn’t practiced my shooting so much said no one ever.
If you get the ‘go signal,’ you will find that your confidence in your own capabilities is far more important than your confidence in your tools. I am reminded of the police officer who got into a gunfight and had to tell himself “Hey, I need to … shoot better.” Shooting better solved the problem not expending more ammo fruitlessly. But then he drew the wrong lesson and started to carry 133 rounds. I don’t know if he decided to start practicing more and making his practice more meaningful, too. I certainly hope so.
The Miami Massacre is probably the most researched gunfight in history. One of the things that gets glossed over in the analyses was the solution. Ed Mireles pulled out his six shot revolver, used the front sight to aim at his targets, pressed the trigger smoothly, and made six hits that killed Platt and Matix. Ed’s draw was probably not sub-one second, either, but it was fast enough.
The Comparative Standards I’ve been writing about are a good example of “Know your capabilities.”
- What is your gun’s zero at 25 yards?
- What is your ability to hit the -1 zone at that distance?
- What exactly does your front sight look like at that distance?
- How smoothly do you have to press the trigger to make that hit?
- Can you hit the -0 zone (thoracic cavity above the diaphragm) unerringly at 15 yards and in?
I regularly gather metrics about the number of people who are interested in getting a status report of their capability with the handgun they own or carry. The number is extremely small. People would rather place their faith in ‘firepower.’ That’s an incredible mistake because when the firepower is gone, you’ve got nothing left. Your capabilities, if you have them, will solve the problem before your ammo load, whatever it may be, is exhausted. That’s the endgame we’re looking for; solving the problem before our ammunition is gone.
If you would like to purchase my eBook Concealed Carry Skills and Drills, the link to the downloadable ebook is here. http://concealedcarryskillsanddrills.com One of the metrics I gather is how many people are willing to spend the price of a box of ammo to get their personal status report and then increase their personal capability. As I said, it’s not many. Ninety-nine and 44/100ths percent are perfectly comfortable with carrying two spare magazines instead.
I enjoyed the #wheelgunwednesday Comparative Standards exercise enough to repeat it. This time the test was with Double Action autoloaders. Five different autos, three Double Action Only and two Traditional Double Action were the test subjects. Four were 9mm and one was a .22.
- SCCY CPX-2
- Sig P250
- Smith & Wesson 6906
- Beretta Centurion 92D
- Walther P22 (Remington Golden Bullet bulk ammo)
All the guns were similarly sized enough that I used the same Mister Softy holster for all of them. The Mister Softy is interesting in that the gun sits low enough in the pants that a full firing grip can’t be gained in the holster. I didn’t notice the lack of a full firing grip was an impediment. The need for a full firing grip in an AIWB holster is another one of the industry maxims I have doubts about. Maybe I just have clever hands.
I used the same protocols for shooting and scoring as last time so I won’t reiterate them.
Having acquired a Ruger LCR, I decided to put it to the test. Once again the timer and the target tell an interesting story. To make the day a good #wheelgunwednesday, I took four revolvers out; Ruger LCR, S&W 642-2 Airweight J Frame, S&W Model 36-1 (3 inch), and my EDC S&W 43C. The LCR had a Rogers Enhanced LCR stock, the 642-2 wore Sile rubber stocks, the 36-1 had Pachmayr Compac stocks, and the 43C used the standard factory boot grip. Ammunition for the .38s was Tula steel case and for the 43C, CCI Stingers just as I load it for carry.
The test I used for the comparison was my 5^5 drill; five shots in five seconds at five yards into a five inch circle five times in a row. I made up a target for the test so that I could record the times and results on one sheet. The circle is a CD, so it is actually 4.75 inches in diameter, not 5 inches. The markers bleed through and I shoot the back to reduce visual confusion. After shooting each run, I wrote the time on the target.
The very first shots confirmed something I’ve said for a long time; ‘feel’ is utterly irrelevant until the shooting starts. Even then, it needs to be tempered by measurement. The Rogers stock feels really good to handle but during the first string my immediate thought was “Whoa, this thing kicks!” I shot a second string with the 642-2 with the Sile rubber stocks as a comparison and found the recoil much less unpleasant.
My colleague Melody Lauer posted an interesting question on Facebook.
What malfunction to shot ratio would you accept on a carry gun (without said malfunctions being purposefully induced)?
Since this had been a topic of conversation with another colleague only a few days before, I posted the answer we both agreed on.
“How many magazines come with the gun? … It needs to be 100% reliable for the number of rounds in the magazine(s) that come with it or how many a person carries, assuming the person even bought a spare magazine. More than that is superfluous. For many autoloaders now that means one magazine plus the round in the chamber.
The multiple thousand round reliability tests that the ‘cognoscenti’ are in love with are meaningless except in a very narrow context. The desire for those kind of tests is generated by training junkies who want to make it through 2-5 day 1500+ round training classes without having a single malfunction. Their applicability in the real world of peoples’ lives is nil.”
I was unsurprised when many folks responded, in generally polite ways, that I was crazy. Most of the cognoscenti want to run at least 1,000 rounds through a carry gun before they ‘trust’ it. My comment relating to ‘Arbitrary Reliability Assessments’ was pure heresy. There was also a considerable amount of mathematical ‘logic’ in the discussion that I found obtuse. For instance, if a gun could be expected to have 5 malfunctions out of 1,000 rounds, it could also be expected to have 1 malfunction per magazine. That was difficult for me to understand but I was told that I just don’t understand math and statistics. If I’m going to have one malfunction per magazine, I’ll just keep carrying a revolver.
Let’s think about the issue in some depth. My questions are:
- 1,000 rounds of what kind of ammo?
- Under what conditions?
- With which magazines?
- With which guns?
- Number 1 carry gun?
- Backup Gun?
- Spare carry gun?
Addressing those questions in order brings some other thoughts to mind.
- Ball or duty ammo? Often, guns shoot well with some ammo and other ammo, not so much. Because of that fact, running 1,000 rounds of ball through a gun and then a box of duty ammo through it doesn’t seem to me to accomplish any more than shooting the box of duty ammo alone. So, in the case of a Glock 19, 15 times 3 plus 1 = 46 rounds. Three magazines for those who like to carry two spares. That leaves 4 rounds out of a box. Always save the last one for yourself. Some folks are such terrible shots they better save two.
- Under what conditions? Unlike wheelguns, autoloaders are subject to the vagaries of the person/machine interface. That’s largely the crux of the reliability question.
- Is the 1,000 rounds to be shot in casual range shooting with no pressure? I can’t count the number of people shooting IDPA matches who have said to me “I don’t understand it, Claude, my gun never malfunctions when I shoot it for practice.” Even small amounts of stress can have an effect on how the shooter holds and fires the gun. Perhaps it would be a good idea to involve at least some significant percentage of the test under conditions that might induce a malfunction, such as a State or Area Championship? Yeah but shooting competition will get you ‘killed on the streetz.’ Or maybe all 1,000 rounds should be shot under extreme pressure, such as the first two to three days at the elite Rogers Shooting School?
- Is the 1,000 rounds going to be shot with both hands? One of the things I noticed at Rogers was how many more malfunctions occurred during one handed shooting. Should the 1,000 rounds involve some shooting with Dominant hand only? How about the Support hand only?
- Since ‘everyone starts moving after the first shot,’ how much of the 1,000 rounds is going to be shot while shooting on the move? It’s probably a good idea to shoot some Box Drills and Figure 8s as part of the testing process. Perhaps including a 50/25/25 percent mix of Freestyle/Dominant hand only/Support hand only during at least half of that 1,000 rounds should be the protocol.
- With which magazines?
- Magazines are often the weakest link in the reliability of any autoloader. Doing a reliability test with ‘training’ magazines and then switching to magazines ‘reserved’ for carry defeats the entire purpose of the test. It’s completely non sequitur.
- But if a person only has three ‘carry’ magazines, that means the test may involve dumping them on the ground somewhere around 20 times apiece. How comfortable are you with those magazines after they’ve been beaten up a bit? You tell me, it’s your decision.
- Which guns to test?
- How many people who carry a Backup Gun run the 1,000 rounds through it? Especially for those using small autoloaders such as an LCP, my guess is almost none. If you don’t run your Backup through the high round count protocol, do you still trust your life to it? If so, why is the main pistol any different?
- I’m a firm believer that anyone who carries a pistol should have a spare. Regardless of the circumstances of a shooting, the police will take the pistol as evidence. If you don’t have a spare, preferably identical to your carry gun, then you’re going to have to go buy one and run it through the testing protocol before you can ‘trust it.’ Back to Square One.
I don’t understand it, Claude, my gun never malfunctions when I shoot it for practice.
There are other considerations such as the effects of and on weapon mounted lights, lasers, or red dot sights, but that’s gilding the lily perhaps.
For those who only have one gun, such as the great majority of gun owners, how long is it going to take to conduct this 1,000 round test? Even at 100 rounds a week, the test will take the better part of three months to conduct. In the meantime, how do you feel about the gun? Do you want to have that “I’m still not sure I trust this piece” feeling in the back of your head for three months? How will that affect the person/machine interface?
In the end, if shooting 1,000 rounds before you ‘trust’ the gun makes you feel better, then go for it. But if you don’t design and follow a protocol that really relates to how you’re likely to use the gun in a situation where you have to protect yourself or your loved ones, the whole exercise is just an excuse to go shooting. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Without testing, there has been no training
Shooting a pistol is an athletic activity. Like any athletic endeavor, we need to have some performance measurement standards. Measurement is the operative word here. We need to measure our downrange performance, i.e., how well we can hit the target, if we want to become better at shooting. There are numerous variables that can be called into play for measurement.
As an example of athletic measurement, the current US Army standard for my age cohort is a minimum of 27 sit-ups in one minute. More sit-ups means more points scored. The Army Physical Fitness Test has to be taken twice a year.
In weight training, we might simply measure how many repetitions of lifting a given amount of weight we can do until we can’t lift anymore. Over time, our objective is to be able to lift more weight and/or perform more repetitions.
Police officers have to undergo periodic testing of their shooting ability. The period might be anywhere from once a year (mandated by every state I am aware of) to four times a year (LAPD and FBI).
What might be a set of reasonable standards for the average gun owner? I’ll offer the following as a progression that a gunowner could use to see where their skills stand on a periodic basis. It’s less than 100 rounds, so there is some room for remediation, if necessary. Because firearms skills are perishable, I’m more in favor of the LAPD/FBI approach of doing an evaluation four times a year rather than just once.
1) LAPD Retired Officer Course
Shoot 10 shots at a silhouette at 7 yards with no time limit. The LAPD standard is simply that 7 of the ten have to hit. Our standard should be to have, at a minimum, all 10 rounds hit within the 7 ring of a B-27 or an equivalent.
The point of this is to learn how fast we can shoot and still make our hits. Even the LAPD SWAT has learned and trained the cadence they can make consistent hits on a target. It’s not by shooting as fast as they possibly can, it’s by paying attention to what they’re doing while they’re shooting. I got that from Darryl Bolke.
If you meet the standard, then move on to the next component. If not, work on getting your fundamentals in better shape.
2) NRA Basic Pistol
Shoot a five-shot group within a 9-inch diameter circle (paper plate) at 15 feet with no time limit. Repeat twice for a total of three times. All the shots have to hit the plate. My colleague Chuck Haggard commented to me:
I wonder how many people never shoot anything but a full value target [i.e., complete silhouette] at 3-5 yards and call it gtg [Good To Go].
I agree with him completely; assuming that we’ll always have a full body presentation to shoot at in a defensive encounter is a mistake. If you can’t hit a paper plate consistently at five yards, you should work on being able to do that. See the sights and press the trigger smoothly. If you can make the standard, then move on to the next.
3) NRA Defensive Pistol I – Pro-Marksman
Shoot a five-shot group within a 12-inch diameter circle at 21 feet in fifteen seconds. Repeat until you’ve done it four times. The four times don’t have to be consecutive, however the standard of every shot having to be in the circle is. This drill is a lot more difficult than most people think because of the 100 percent hit requirement. Even though 15 seconds is a very generous time standard, knowing you’re on the clock makes it more difficult. Once you’ve made it four times, move on to the next component.
Shoot five shots into a five inch circle at five yards in five seconds. Do it five times in a row. This is a very difficult drill for most people. Only do it once to get an idea of how well you can shoot it. It’s a good practice drill for other times you shoot. After shooting it once, move on to the final component.
Shot at 15 yards on a B-27 silhouette target. Load with six rounds only; you will need another magazine or speedloader loaded with six rounds also. Start double action if your pistol is so equipped. Fire six shots, reload, and fire another six shots for a total of 12 shots from a standing position, no support from bench or wall allowed. The time limit is 20 seconds, including the reload for the second 6 shot string. Score it based on the number value of the rings. The maximum point value for the string is 120.
Although many people think that a Private Citizen cannot legally justify shooting past seven yards, that is absolutely not true. I have a number of incidents in my database where Private Citizens shot at longer distances and it was completely justified. If a gang banger is shooting at you and your children at 23 yards, you are legally justified in shooting back. That assumes you have the skill and are cognizant of the background.
If you don’t need to do any remedial work during the session, you will fire 82 rounds total. That gives you a little left over to play around with as you please. Using a progression of drills that increase in difficulty gives you the opportunity to evaluate where you need to work on your skills to improve. Keep a record of how you did on each drill. Having a record is key to knowing what you need to work on in your practice sessions.
If it all seems easy, you can do the drills one handed; either dominant hand only or support hand only.