Saturday, April 01, 2006

Travis Tomasie - The Perfect Reload

Why must all of my heroes be either younger than I am, or dead?

Answer: because I'm so old.
Here's a video (shockwave flash) of my IPSC hero demonstrating how to reload your pistol.

Go ahead, click on the "play" arrow. You'll be amazed.

You can also download it for yourself, here. It's a 3.53MB mpg file, but you can keep it and play it over and over, in full-screen mode if you like. With sound.

My apologies for not crediting the video. It has been copied and republished so many times, I've lost track of where I found it.

Friday, March 31, 2006

More about Nebraska Shall Issue Law

Are you as amazed as I am that both Kansas and Nebraska passed Right To Carry laws within one week of each other? It's even more incredible considering the stiff resistance that citizens of both states faced, and the many years of battle needed to impose their will on reluctant politicians.

In a way, it makes it more difficult for writers to give as much attention to the process and results of each state's success, when it's such a target-rich environment this week. We're almost forced to focus on one or the other story, if only because of the dearth of available pajama time for bloggers. I've decided to talk about Nebraska, which is the newest champion of the RKBA movement. Besides, I've already written about it yesterday.

I've just spent an hour searching the internet for news about the Nebraska bill LB 454, and you probably aren't surprised to hear that the Main Stream Media -- even the Main Stream Internet News -- has ignored the topic in favor of pediphile teachers and political demonstrations.

But Blogistan has the news, and the answers that a lot of Second Amendment Afficianados are looking for.

Let's look at the actual bill, Nebraska LB 454.
(Legislative Bill 454, available as a 15-page PDF file)

This was initially sponsored by State Senator Jeanne Combs, and the copy of the bill states that the First Reading was January 13, 2005. The version that I'm looking at was posted by the State of Nebraska in May of 2005, and I'm assuming that this is the version which was passed. (If I later find I'm wrong, I'll post corrections as necessary and note it on at UPDATE at the bottom of the page.)

The first question everybody asks is: "Is this a Shall Issue law?" The answer is a resounding YES!

The Concealed Handgun Permit Act (CHPA) is specific to handguns, and does not address carrying concealed weapons in general. It costs $100, is issued by county sheriffs (who get half of the fee, the other half goes to the state for their processing fees and the remainder, if any, goes to the General Fund) and is valid for a period of five years. Renewal fee is $50.

The applicant must complete an application form, provide two sets of fingerprints, be an American citizen and adult resident of Nebraska, be a non-felon, and present an original Certificate of Training.

The Sheriff has five days to issue the permit if all requirements are fulfilled, including a Criminal History record check from the FBI through the Nebraska State Patrol. This is not necessary during renewal of the permit. (Denial of permit can be appealed through the District Court of that county.)

The Nebraska State Patrol is also responsible for defining the minimum standards of training, based on guidelines established in the CHPA.

Incidentely, as cited in my earlier article:
The Nebraska State Patrol did not take a stance on the bill. The Police Officers Association of Nebraska opposes the measure.

There are the usual precautions which we find in many such laws: No felons, etc. A couple of interesting clauses include "no history of violence" and the applicant must "not habitually be in an intoxicated or drugged condition".

There is no definition of the terminology, so one wonders what constitutes a "history of violence". Is this a subjective evaluation by the issuing Sheriff?

A permit holder must have in his possession both the permit and a drivers license (or some other ID, such as a military ID card) when carrying a handgun.

Moving into the vernacular:

Cops can take your gun away while they're talking to you. If you're carrying, you have to tell them. They have to give your gun back, except (for example) if they send you to the hospital and THEN they have to give you a receipt. Whether you get it back later depends on the circumstances.

There are places where a permit holder is not allowed to carry: jails and police stations, court buildings, polling places, bars, schools (school grounds, school busses, school activiies, etc.), athletic events, places of worship, emergency rooms, banks, political rallys, or " ...places or premises which have prohibited permit holders from carrying ... ". This last requires that the owner "has posted conspicuous notice" that handguns are not permitted, or has asked the permit holder to remove the handgun from the premises.

If you're a Domino's Driver, your boss can forbid you to carry in the deliver van.

You can't carry in a bar, while you're drinking (where-ever), or until you've completely sobered up again.

If you shoot somebody, you have to fill out a form or they'll throw you in the slammer and take your permit away from you.

While researching this article, I found an excellent summary from a Nebraska Gun Club under the title "Why Does Nebraska Need A Right-To-Carry." You can read it here, though you'll have to scroll down a page.

The Free Republic site posted an excellent article from the Lincoln Journal Star (January 14, 2006: Nate Jenkins) which summarized some of the opposition.

Big Cities might impose more stringent restrictions:

“If we want to do concealed weapons … let’s make sure the legislation communicates very clearly how we want the rest of the state to address concealed weapons,” said Sen. Mike Flood of Norfolk.

Confusion currently exists about whether the bill would force cities to abide by the proposed law, because a state statute now allows cities to prohibit people from carrying concealed weapons. Also, some city officials say they want to be able to set their own restrictions on concealed guns.

Sen. DiAnna Schimek argued that the confusion created “a huge concern” and that more public hearings should be held so city officials could provide input.

Why would anyone need to carry "concealed" in Nebraska?

The Nebraska State Patrol would be charged with devising training standards for safety courses that Combs said could last between one and three days, per session. Some state law enforcement agencies, including the State Patrol, have taken a neutral stance on the bill.

But at least one, the Police Officers Association of Nebraska, has opposed conceal-carry bills in the past.

“A person right now can legally carry a weapon,” as long as it is openly displayed, such as in a car seat or holster attached to a belt, said Lt. Mike Swain of the North Platte Police Department, president of the group.

“What are the benefits of having a gun nobody can see?”

Somebody openly displaying a gun is less likely to be attacked than one who conceals a weapon, he argued. Under current state law, weapons are considered illegally concealed if they are not where officers can view them but are accessible to their owners, according to Capt. Rhonda Lahm of the Nebraska State Patrol.

Anyone who truly believes that "open carry" is a safe, sane way to carry a defensive weapon should talk to Jason, the author of the blospot Fish Or Man. This is a blogger who was arrested in 2004 for carrying a loaded weapon openly in his car. When he was stopped for a traffic offense in his home state of Washington, the traffic cop became nervous when he spotted the loaded weapon. A series of escalating confrontations resulted in arrest, confiscation and trial. Over a year later, many tears from his poor wife and thousands of dollars poorer (I still don't know if he got his pistol back), Jason finally won MOST of his appeals.

It's not clear to me even yet if all the charges against Jason have been resolved, but one thing IS clear: open carry may help you defend yourself against predatory criminals, but it won't protect you against predatory cops.

If you open carry and have an encounter with the police, chances are good that they will automatically assume that you are 'up to no good' and the situation will immediately turn confrontational. If you insist upon your right to open-carry, expect escalation and expect that you will be arrested adn charged with (if nothing better comes to mind) "resisting arrest".

By the way, the link (above) is to the origina blogpost written on her husband's blogsite by Jason's wife, the day after her husband was arrested. The title is "I Am Finished". It will break your heart to read it. It is a sad, tearful story.

Washington State will issue you a "right to carry" permit. Jason just didn't see any reason why he should give money to the State, an have his name entered on a list of "people who have guns", when the Second Amendment (and Washington State Law) allowed him to carry "openly".

He now understands why. It's not an easy story to read; or to follow, if you have the time to track through the many episodes of arrest, imprisonment, bail, hearings, lawyers fees, trials and decisions on the various charges brought against him. But it certainly provides and excellent response to the question “What are the benefits of having a gun nobody can see?”

Answer: it provides protection against both law-breakers and law-enforcement.

Some time before LB 454 was passed, The Omaha City Weekly published an opinion article which contained all of the predictable cavaets. If you're interested, you should go read the whole thing. It's a regurgistation of all the fearful justification to deny honest citizens their right to defend themselves.

There are a few notable sound bites:
An armed society is a polite society, after all. Or so we’re told

Not everyone agrees with Combs’ view of concealed handguns. Nebraska City Police Chief Bill Muldoon raised concerns that family members are more likely than intruders to be harmed by guns in the home. He also was concerned that the additional gun-safety training LB 454 would require the State Patrol to perform for permit applicants would overburden an already-taxed State Patrol system.

Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha also opposes LB 454. In a style all his own, Chambers has proposed an amendment to LB 454 that would punish persons who violate the provisions of their concealed-carry license by having them taken into custody where their “trigger finger shall be shot off by Nebraska State Senator Jeanne M. Combs using a pistol of her choice ... without the benefit of any type of anesthesia other than flavored malt liquor.”

Seriously, that’s the amendment on the floor of the Unicameral. Further debate would be required on the amount of malt liquor that could be used, or the flavors that would be permissible under Chambers’ proposal.
Muldoon is a politicop parroting the old "43% more likely" argument which has long been discredited.

Chambers is a politician and an idiot (but then, I repeat myself).

And ...
Any discussion about gun control legislation really should start with the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, which states that “[a] well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

Keep in mind, at the time the Second Amendment was enacted, the United States had a very small standing army. The defense of the nation was left to militias, self-organized groups of men who assembled when the need arose. But clear within the language of the Second Amendment is the concept of a “well regulated militia,” meaning that the ability to wield a firearm had to be subject to the rules of the government.

The author of that article brings up the "history of violence" and "habitually ... drunken" issues, which reflects well on his careful reading of the bill. He recognizes that these are controversial points.

Unfortunately, he finishes with:
Really, it comes down to this question. Who are you more afraid of, the criminal who uses a gun to take your money, or the guy in the car next to you who has been pushed to the limit and uses you to take out his frustration against the world? Which of those two threats do you think is more likely to touch your life?

Guns do many things, and that includes escalating a confrontation into a life and death situation. It is an inescapable fact that in Europe, private gun ownership is a tiny fraction of what it is in the United States, and yet the violent crime rate in Europe (as well as the amount of accidental gun deaths) is far less than in the United States.

An armed society may be a polite society, but that is because it is a frightened society. I think there’s enough fear in this world. I believe that the marginal benefit of being able to outdraw a criminal in a shootout is overshadowed by the risk of each day-to-day confrontation escalating into a shooting. Permitting private citizens to carry concealed handguns is either a failure of our society to provide basic security or a pandering to the baser Darwinian survival instincts of people. For all our sakes, let’s pray LB 454 is the latter.
Fortunately, there are less fearful heads than his in Nebraska. Not everyone has so little confidence in the essential good sense of "people". Again, it's to his credit that he recognizes "the failure of our society to provide basic security", but he doesn't envision any better solution to the problem of crime and violence but that a "frightened society" should stand around like cattle waiting for the slaughterhouse-man.

If he thinks that the police are going to prevent violence, he would be better off hoping that the law is changes so that the Domino's Pizza Driver can carry 'on the job'. They have a much better response time.

Illinois and Wisconsin still don't have concealed carry laws.

The Wisconsin "Legislatie Reference Bureau" posted an article about attempts to enter a concealed carry in Wisconson.

In 2003, SB 214 was passed by the State Legislature and subsequently vetoed by Governor Jim Doyle in early November, 2003. I don't know the current status of this movement, but the PDF article notes that "Missouri's legislature overrode his (Governor Bob Holden) veto in September 2003 making making Missouri the 45th state to legalize the carrying of a concealed weapon."

Wisconsin is on track, and not really far behind schedule. It may even be inevitable that Wisconsin will pass RKBA legislation in the near future.

There's still hope for Illinois.

I hope to bring you good news of these two final 'hold-out" states in the near future.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Nebraska Joins RKBA America!

State Sens. Jeanne Combs (right) and DiAnna Schimek, on opposite sides of the issue, hugged after Combs' concealed carry passed. (Robert Becker)After ten years of effort, Nebraska citizens finally impose their will over that of recalcitrant politicians and "Municipality Liberals" ... a "Right to Carry" bill has been passed, and it will soon be legal to carry a concealed weapon in the Great State of Nebraska!

Coming only a week after Kansas passed a similar law which recognizes the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, the Nebraska law is perhaps not all that Nebraskans would want. But it opens the door to individual freedoms, and that's worth a decade of struggle.

Here's the full text of the Lincoln, Nebraska "Journal Star" article:

Concealed-carry adopted

Next year, roughly 20,000 Nebraskans may trade their pepper spray and knives for Rugers and live ammo. Ending a 10-year effort, the Legislature on Thursday passed a law giving law-abiding Nebraskans the right to carry concealed handguns.

“It’s been a long fight,” said Sen. Jeanne Combs of Milligan.

Combs, a shoot-from-the-hip speaker and member of the National Rifle Association who led the fight for the bill, stared at the big board on the floor of the Legislature as votes to break a filibuster piled up.

When the tally hit 33, it was clear Nebraska would soon change its status as one of just a few states that prohibit concealed guns.

“I think it gives the people who’ve been victims of crime at least an alternative,” she said later.

The bill goes to Gov. Dave Heineman, who has said he would sign it.

Senators who have opposed the legislation fought it until the final vote, forcing the filibuster-breaker.

“There is no justification for it which would be considered rational,” said Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha. “Nebraska is not engulfed in a crime wave.”

The Nebraska State Patrol did not take a stance on the bill. The Police Officers Association of Nebraska opposes the measure.

Sen. Joel Johnson of Kearney questioned why the “safest people in the safest place on Earth” — Nebraska — need to carry concealed guns.

Supporters were mostly quiet, content to let opponents take their last shots at the bill and allow Combs to answer their questions.

She gave varying answers to a question that especially interested senators and is expected to interest city leaders as the law’s January start date approaches: Will it prevent cities from passing their own ordinances banning concealed handguns?

“As I understand the bill, it is preemptive” and would prohibit cities from overriding state law, Combs said, answering a question from Chambers.

Earlier this month, Combs suggested it may not prevent cities from banning concealed guns.

After the vote Thursday, Combs said she was “not an attorney” and wasn’t sure what the effect of the law will be in cities across the state.

“It remains to be seen,” she said. “My intent was not to have a checkerboard of laws.”

Sen. DiAnna Schimek of Lincoln pointed out an apparent discrepancy between what Combs told Chambers and what the bill seems to spell out.

“I think it says right here in your own bill that indeed they have that authority” to pass their own anti-conceal-carry laws and override state law, Schimek said.

None of the 38 states with similar legislation allow cities to opt out of state law, said Keith Wood, an NRA lobbyist who has pushed for this bill and is familiar with conceal-carry bills.

But Nebraska’s bill is different, he has said, because he believes it does allow cities to ban concealed weapons.

Lincoln Mayor Coleen Seng and Omaha Mayor Mike Fahey wrote letters to the Legislature last month expressing opposition to the bill.

Lincoln officials are considering their next move, said Seng aide Rick Hoppe.

“The mayor wants to take time to review the city’s options before making a decision,” he said.

Without widespread city bans, the State Patrol has estimated 19,500 Nebraskans would apply for permits next year, when the law goes into effect. And about 5,000 would apply annually after that.

Applicants will have to pass background checks and meet other criteria to obtain the $100 permits, which will have to be renewed every five years.

Earlier news reports suggests that "Preemption" -- legally restricting the ability of individual municipalities to pass more restrictive laws than the rights granted by the state -- may have been a significant stumbling block to passage of this law. The final text of the bill is not yet available on the internet, so this question remains unanswered. However, there are passages in the Nebraska Constitution which might seem to support preemption.

For example, this passage from Gunscribe (and cited in an earlier article):

All persons are by nature free and independent, and have certain inherent and inalienable rights; among these are life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and the right to keep and bear arms for security or defense of self, family, home, and others, and for lawful common defense, hunting, recreational use, and all other lawful purposes, and such rights shall not be denied or infringed by the state or any subdivision thereof. To secure these rights, and the protection of property, governments are instituted among people, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Neb. Const. art. I, sec. 1 (1875);
Amended 1988, Initiative Measure No. 403

The political opposition to passage of this bill was evident even after passage of the bill, as the Journal Star reporting demonstrates:
“There is no justification for it which would be considered rational,” said Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha. “Nebraska is not engulfed in a crime wave.”

The Nebraska State Patrol did not take a stance on the bill. The Police Officers Association of Nebraska opposes the measure.

Sen. Joel Johnson of Kearney questioned why the “safest people in the safest place on Earth” — Nebraska — need to carry concealed guns.

Still, this is a significant advance in the 2nd Amendment Movement, and one which reduces the right-to-carry ratio from 47-to-3 to 48-to-2.

Only Illinois and Wisconsin have yet to pass such self-defense legislation.

As of this writing, the passage of this bill has not yet been mentioned by the Main Stream Media.

However, Nebraska citizens are virtually dancing in the streets over this acknowledgement of their civil rights.

The CCW Nebraska Forum members are jubilant, yet restrained as they attempt to sort out the implications of the bill as enacted into law.

As Forum Member JoeMerchant24 states:

We did it!

Aye 33

Nay 12

NV 3

We win! We win! Thank God almighty we win at last!

Welcome to a Blue State!

However, CMZNEB is more restrained, as he cautions:
Nobody is clear on the preemption. Not even the Legislators who just passed the bill.

With only Illinois and Wisconsin left......... I wish you guys the best of luck. Keep pushing your elected officials, keep it positive, and you will succeed.

And member jednp cautions:

Municipalities will have the right to ban it. I live in Omaha and have been told that they will keep their current ban in effect, and change their law any if needed to keep current. Some city council members are going to sponsor a bill to allow it in Omaha, but I was told it will take a strong 5 person vote because the mayor will veto it, and lots of organizations in the city are against it. Only hope Omaha has, or any other city which bans it is to get the law ammended in the next year or so to make it so municipalities cannot ban it.
Questions, yes. The problem with 'early returns' is that the nigling details remain to be resolved. It's perhaps unwise to accept a new law as the answer to all of your dreams. When you turn your back on a problem, remember where it's going to bite you.

But still, in the words of malkore:

today is a good day.

(H/T: John Hurd, of "The Unofficial IPSC List")

Norm and the White Tape

At a recent IPSC match, Oregon's newest Master Open Class shooter gets a proper razzing from his friends.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

IPSC Shooting Videos & IPSC Reloading Data

I subscribe to a service (StatsCounter) which provides me with information about the people who visit this website. I've talked about the statistics before, but one which provides the most useful information is "Recent KeywordActivity". This is a log of all the keyword searches which brought people to this website. For example, if you did a GOOGLE search on "Kalifornia von number", you would be directed to this url:
Yes, it even works when your search is in German.

This helps me to determine when I'm writing about something somebody wants to read. If they submit a search, and it leads them to an article on my website which provides the information for which they are searching, everybody is satisfied with the results.

Unfortunately, some of the search results are ... unsatisfying.

The people who are doing the searches are looking for specific information, and at this website they find only a reference to the information, or else they don't find as much of what they are looking for as I may have attempted to provide' elsewhere'.

The purpose of this is to provide links to the actual information you're searching for.

Two of the most common Searches-Gone-Wrong are IPSC SHOOTING VIDEOS, or some variation, and almost anything about reloading data.

The first search, some combination of "IPSC" and "SHOOTING" and "VIDEO" or "MOVIE", is obviously looking for real videos of IPSC shooting competition. Depending upon the actual verbiage used in the keyword search, you may be directed to an article which provides a few pictures, perhaps links to three or four videos, but you have to be determined to mine the website if you want more than a few movies.

If you want to see a LOT of movies, or videos, which show people shooting IPSC stages, you have to look over to the right. Carelessly hidden under the archive of most recent articles, under the general heading GEEK LINKS, you'll find "Jerry The Geek's Video Shooting Gallery".

If you click on that link, you will find over a hundred videos mixed in with over a thousand still photos. Every movie (and many of the stills) I've linked to in this blog can be found at that link ... and a lot more, besides.

Go there and you will find an index of a large number of matches. Those which contain videos will have the word 'video' in the description. When you look at each album, the entries which have the image of a movie camera are videos. They're usually "WMV" format, which means that the movie has been edited and reformatted from the original MPG format (four to 25 megabytes each) to the WMV format, which is usually two to four megabytes, sometimes as much as eight megabytes, and therefore they download faster.

(Note: these files aren't exactly 'compressed'. Instead, the pixle count per inch is changed; higher to lower. That means the visual quality of the WMV version of a video is not as good as the original MPG version. I generally try to avoid lowering the quality so much that the video isn't viewable, and unless you compare the original and the reformatted videos you may not even notice the difference. On some of them, you will; these are usually the videos which are so long that it would require a file so large that download time would be 'considerable', even with a high-speed internet connection. As a service to you, the viewer, I try to achieve a reasonable balance between video quality and download time. I'm not always successful, but I do try.)

Many of the movies so edited include titles and clues on what points of interest they feature, and some of the (especially, but not exclusively, those of the 2005 Croc Match) have music to help you get into the mood for the video.

Want to take your OWN videos?
Good idea! If I'm not shooting IPSC, I can enjoy taking pictures and videos, editing them, and posting them to my own photo gallery. If you don't have your own photo gallery, may I suggest YouTube. They have a 'group' of people who provide videos of IPSC competition which you may find interesting, and if you join (membership is free), you can post your videos there. (Note: these files are DRASTICALLY reformatted for a very fast download time. The quality of the videos are not always satisfactory, but I have often used YOUTUBE to provide fast, direct links from my blog to the video. Anything I post on the blog using YOUTUBE is available in higher-quality versions on my Video Gallery.)

Warning: not everybody depicted in these videos is an entirely safe shooter, and you may see examples of unsafe gunhandling. Do not attempt to emulate these practices. My own videos include people who are "DQ'd" for unsafe gunhandling, as well as a few who perhaps should have been match-disqualified, but weren't. Learn from the mistakes of others, and remember that nobody was actually injured during the filming. It doesn't mean that someone could not have been injured. It just means that Someone looks out for drunks, children and fools ... sometimes.

Reloading Data:
Those searches which seem to be looking for reloading statistics -- powder type, powder weight, bullet make/shape/weight, primer, over-all length, etc -- often end up on the page where I talked about the Dillon XL650 press. There's a lot of good information there, but it's all anecdotal. I very carefully have resisted the urge to discuss the loads I use, because I don't choose to be responsible for providing reloading information which might be misinterpreted or misused. Sure, reloading data can be safely provided if sufficient warnings and supplementary data are provided, but I just don't have the energy or desire to become a source of reloading data.

Enter Jeff Maass.

Jeff has a long-established website which deals specifically with reloading data for IPSC competition, including the IPSC-specific calibers of .40 S&W, 9x21, and .38 Super.

There, Jeff takes the time to talk about safety issues and precautions, as well as providing (with suitable warnings) actual loads used by actual IPSC competitors. He describes the guns for which the competitors have used these loads, too, so if you plan to load for a single-stack Limited 10 pistol, you won't be tempted to use a load which is probably only safe in an Open Gun. (eg: compensated, which uses MUCH heavier loads of slow-burning powder, designed to make the compensator 'work' by generating excess gasses to vent through the compensator ports.)

I've linked to Jeff over there in the sidebar, under "IPSC Resources I Recommend". Look for "Maass' IPSC Resources", which not only includes reloading information but also stage designs.

Jeff has been shooting IPSC, and collecting IPSC load data, for many years. I trust his judgement, and use his reloading data with confidence because I always, always, follow his advice to start at least 10% under the cited powder charge and work the load UP using a chronograph to determine whether the load is generating excessive velocity -- and therefore, probably excessive pressure -- in the gun for which I am developing the load.

If you wish to load for 'other' calibers, may I suggest the excellent reloading page of MD Smith. I've used his loading data for 9mm and .45acp and 10mm, as well as .22-250 and .30-06 rifles. (Unfortunately, he doesn't have loading data for my favorite rifle, the venerable wildcat .25-06 although he DOES include data for the somewhat-similar .270 Remington Rifle.)

Jeff's webpage includes this link, as well as links to a large number of other ('powder and bullet manufacturers') reloading pages. I use them; you may, too.

They usually include warnings about using reloading data wisely, carefully, safely. That is, always make sure your firearm is safe to shoot, and never use the maximum cited powder charge in your first attempt in your firearm, and be sure to use only the reloading information cited for the specific poweder and bullet weight and bullet shape and bullet manufacturer as a reliable guide.

Obviously, reloading ammunition is something that you only want to attempt if you are experienced and knowledgeable. If you are not, don't attempt it on your own. Instead, find someone whose experience and knowledge you absolutely know to be reliable and extensive, and get that person to help you get started.

Don't know anybody that fits that description? Then you need to get out to the range more, and meet more people.

Until then, buy commercially loaded ammunition, and spend part of your range time meeting new people.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Basic IPSC advice for new shooters

I HAVE BEEN WATCHING a couple of new shooters try their hand at IPSC competition since sometime last year, with special interest.

I like to meet new people at the range, enjoy getting to know them, and after twenty-some years of experience at IPSC competition I still can appreciate the struggle to learn how to shoot a pistol safely, accurately, and quickly.

Those three factors are a difficult combination to achieve, and after twenty years of trying I'm still struggling. Because I'm getting older and slower, and I just don't have the talent, I probably won't move up to a higher class. However, I know many of the things that need to be known to be competitive, and even if I can't apply them beyond a certain level I flatter myself that I can share the basics with new shooters and perhaps help them progress more rapidly than I have.

I am especially interested in these two new shooters because they are shooting Revolvers.

Six shots, slow reloads.

This is perhaps the most challenging equipment choices in IPSC; and because it just feels so good to do well with 'difficult' equipment, perhaps the most rewarding.

I have no use for a revolver, beyond certain applications for which I am told (but do not believe) they were not originally designed: bud vase, door stop, hammer. I shot a revolver in IPSC competition one time, in a winter concealed-carry match, and it was an embarassing, frustrating experience. The only good part of it was that I won my division. I was the only fool who showed up with a revolver on that day.

Now these two new fools are showing up with six-shot revolvers, to shoot IPSC!

While I admire their gritty determination, I recognize that they rightly belong in a "Special Needs" group. Nice guys, a little soft in the head, and they already know that they are bound to be frustrated when they watch people using pistols with magazines so jam-packed with ammunition that they rarely have to reload during a course of fire, except for the occasional Classifier stage.

Consequently, even though my knowledge of revolver shooting is nil I'm unable to resist giving them some advice from time to time. When they ask for it. (Or when they can be backed into a convenient corner.)

Because most of that advice is equally applicable to any new shooter, I am going to modify it slightly and post it here for the dubious benefit of anyone who is so desperate for coaching that he or she will take advice from an admitted Geek:

I carry a first aid kit in my range bag. When the inevitable scrape or cut occurs, you are entirely welcome to first aid and advice, both of which are free but not of equal value.

The bandage is immediately beneficial.

The advice, however, is of no use until you figure things out for yourself. Then a little Aha-bell goes off in your head, and you realize "Aha! So that's what they were talking about!" It helps to have been told what to do and how to do it.

Even if you think you are dismissing the free advice; even if you resent the implication that you're not a naturally excellent shooter; even if you're consciously allowing the Old Poop to pontificate because you're too polite to cut him off cold -- somebody needs to tell you these things so you'll know when you've re-invented a useful tool

Shoot Accurately:
After Safety, at this stage of your development, accuracy is the most important thing.

It's even more important for revolver shooters, because when you have to make up a missed shot your whole game plan goes out the window. It takes something like five hundredths of a second longer to make *sure* you have a good sight picture and trigger control. Compared with an extra two-second reload, that's nothing. People who are shooting pistols usually have an edge, because they can often afford a miss or two before they have to reload. Still, you can count on a quarter of a second to several seconds lost because you have to (a) realize you have missed, (b) decide whether you should make it up, and (c) take the extra shot. Since you are aware that you are burning stage time, you'll probably hurry the make-up shot and have to take another one.

Missing is not good. Avoid it.

The speed will come, but usually not today unless you are unusually gifted.

You're not unusally gifted. You can shoot accurately, but you think you can shoot accurately AND quickly AND safely.

You can't. But you will. Trust me on this point.

Focus on your shooting.

You can't afford to just wing shots downrange in pedal-to-the-metal hopes of connecting with the target. You have to get your head into the shooting. Brian Enos calls it "focus". You don't CONCENTRATE on your shooting, because then you start to over-think it. Thinking while you're shooting a stage just tenses up your muscles and reduces the natural flow.

You probably already know how to make the shot. You think you have to do it quickly, so you push yourself to shoot quick. That's how you get into trouble, because you have to make up missed shots.

Your job isn't to push yourself to shoot quickly; your job is to just follow along and watch things happen. Call your shots, be aware of where the sight is when the shot breaks. That way, you don't have to listen the [clink!] when you hit that little plate, you just know whether you were on-target when you took the shot, and can immediately either make up the shot or move on to the next target.

Ron Avery refers to it as "see what you have to see" because every shooting challenge is different and it's not just the sight/target relationship. It's an awareness of everything that's going on, with yourself and the gun and the targets and movement and props and the RO and bystanders. Most important, it's focusing on the target you're currently engaging, not worrying about the target you just finished and not hurrying to get to the next target. Focus on THIS target, do what you came here to do, and then move on to the next action ... index to the next target, move to the next shooting position, reload, whatever it is.

Never look back.

It's hard not to worry about a mistake you may have made. The solution is not to make the mistakes. (Carpenters call this the "Measure twice, cut once" rule.) If you missed the target, go ahead and make it up. Take the extra shot immediately, without thought or self-doubt.

If you find that you move your attention from the target you should be shooting to the target you just left, you're wasting time and you're breaking your focus. You called your shot, you were right in your evaluation. No second thoughts. You may occasionally be wrong, but as you gain experience you'll be right more often than not and you WILL get your hits and you will NOT waste time and ammunition on 'insurance shots'.

Try to shoot every target in the A-zone, but don't try to make up a C-zone or D-zone hit. It isn't worth the time, and you may need that round in the next few seconds anyway. Don't worry about it.

Why are you spending your weekends on the range, anyway?
When you put it all together, and it all works, you get that occasional stage where you did everything perfectly and it's like an out-of-body experience. We all say we like to shoot, and we like the company and the fresh air and the exercise and the competition. That's not really why we keep showing up at the rock quarry.

We're there for the endorphin rush.

It's not at all like the effects of adrenaline caused by knowing that everybody is watching you, and being self-conscious. That's just nerves, and what the effect you're seeking is the complete opposite. It's being in The Zone and at complete peace. You marvel at how well things happen, but you don't think about them or try to make it happen.

Sometimes, when you get very close to The Zone, you notice little things. The most rewarding thing to notice is the "Hey, I can shoot this faster" moment, so you do, and it works just as well with absolutely no effort at all. It just takes a little nudge, like shifting from second gear into high gear. You're not pushing yourself to rush, you're just allowing yourself to move into a different rhythm.

It's all natural. It's not forced. You can't make yourself shoot faster, and maintain an acceptable degree of accuracy. You just let it happen, and when you're really ready you know it.

"You can't miss fast enough to win."

Whatever it takes to shoot accurately, do that.

Usually, it'll take a little more time than you would wish to spend, because you're aware of the passage of time. You can't afford to worry about anything while you're shooting, because that's a distraction and distractions make you lose your focus.

Don't try to save time by shooting fast.
You can save time by learning to reload quickly, which is something you practice at home while you're dry-firing.

(Standard precautions about dry-firing apply: triple-check that you have an unloaded gun, no ammunition in the same room with the gun, always put your aiming point on a wall that you can't shoot through even if you screw up the first two precautions, never point a gun at a person even if the gun is unloaded, etc.)

When you're shooting a stage, you can save time by saving steps. Learn to reload on the move. Keep track of how much ammunition you have left in the gun; pre-plan WHERE you will reload, and if you're using a limited-roundcount gun you can expect that every time you're moving, you're reloading.

You'll eventually figure out all of this for yourself, and it won't be real to you until you re-invent the wheel.

But remember, you heard it here first.

Now, go out there and win one for The Geek.

But remember, it's only a game.