Saturday, November 04, 2017

Appendix Carry for USPSA/IPSC

It was cold, with moments of  "chilly"(46 degrees with wind and occasional sprinkles of rain) at the range today when I conducted my monthly Introduction to USPSA class.

I had only two students, which is approximately two more than I had expected to show up because of the "iffy" weather. 

But I think I may have learned as much as my 'students' did, although I haven't had time to think through the lesson.   I'll call them "Arnold Appendix" and "Kevin Kydex" for convenience.

One ("Arnold") was using an "Appendix Carry" holster, concealed carry ... his t-shirt covered his pistol.  The other ("Kevin") had a 'standard" belt-mounted Kydex holster which he had fastened to his belt at the hip ... not 'concealed' at all.

Arnold was very subtly concealed, and Kevin was open-carry.  Both seemed to be familiar with their firearms and performed adequately in terms of being accurate and 'fast' shooters.

But neither of them were able to re-holster their pistols without actually looking to see where their holster was at.

I had mentioned to Arnold that his holster was not particularly "competitive", in terms of being able to get it into action quickly, but both shooters managed to get their first-shot on the target with some consistency, even at targets placed at 20 yards distance, in about a 3 second draw-time.   So I guess the difference between "concealed" and "convenient" was dependent on how they had become accustomed to accessing their guns  (I doubt that Kevin went "open carry" as much as Arnold went "concealed carry", which speaks well for Arnold.)

Most of the targets I set up for them were at 7-10 yard distance, so it was perhaps a learning moment when they realized that they had to take more time to get hits at longer distances.  (Both were shooting DAO firearms.)

It was rewarding to me to process shooters who were experienced (although not in competitive pistol shooting) and familiar with their handguns.  Often, I find that I spend more time on 'weapons familiarity' than teaching competitive tactics.

The only criticism I can suggest is that both participants demonstrated difficulty in finding their holster when they had completed the stage and needed to re-holster their pistols.  They often had to look down to find their holster.  And of course Arnold had to pull his t-shirt up to reveal his holster.

Which is why I made the "not particularly competitive" comment to Arnold.  It was not a criticism, because both shooters were competent, and I didn't get the feeling that I had to teach them the basics of gun-handling, but only focus on the competition factors.   And to be entirely honest, Arnold managed to draw and fire from his appendix carry as quickly as Kevin did from his side-holster.

(Observation #1: it's curious that I seem to be 'teaching' experienced shooters who are familiar with their firearms during the cold months more often than during the clement periods.)

(Observation  #2: It was especially educational when they were faced with the "Mandatory Reload" exercises ... I don't think that they had actually contemplated that performing a reload during a shooting exercise might be a valuable part of their skill-set.  Nice that I could teach them something.)

The Best part was that they were having fun. 

I cut them off short at 4pm because of cold, rain, and I was running out of new challenges for them.  Also, in The Great "Northwet" at this time of year the light fades quickly after that hour.   They were not exactly 'happy' about having to stop playing, but they were almost as ready to get in the truck and crank up the heater.

We were all chilling, and we didn't do enough "shoot and move" exercises to keep all of us warm; when you're one of only two shooters, it's uncomfortable to just stand and watch your partner get the run&gun play.

I was happy to award both of them with their Certificate of Completion for the class.  They already had the skills, needing only the occasional tweak in technique to accommodate bizarre Competition requirements.   And I think that is ... or should be ... the point of this class.  I don't mind teaching students the basics of gun handling, but that isn't really my job.

See: Teaching Nubies:

Teaching Nubies: Herding Cats

I teach a class in Introduction to USPSA (see: previous post).

The very first class I taught (about 8 or 10 years ago ... seems like longer) I had no NO experience in teaching a class but I had a decade or two of competition experience, so I thought I knew everything I needed to know to teach people how to shoot in USPSA competition.

I didn't know how little I knew, and neither did my home club (Albany Rifle and Pistol Club in Oregon).   So when I was approached by the club president to teach this class, I had no idea how little forethought had gone into the proposition by the club president.  He wanted to encourage people to participate in club matches (a money maker for the club) and thought it was a fine idea to find a willing sap member to teach the class. 

I was the Willing Sap. 

I had full control over the class; nobody else was willing to touch it.

The people who signed up for the class (there were 13 of them) were typically people who were not  ... through no fault of their own ...competent to shoot a pistol in any venue, let along in competition.  I had no help, no assistant, and I accepted anyone who showed up at the date and time and place designated.

Some of the people not only didn't know that they had to keep their pistol on 'safe" from time to time, they didn't even know that their pistol had a "safety catch"!

And it got worse from there; fortunately, nobody actually fired their pistol until they thought they were on target.  Other than that, it was like herding cats.

Some didn't know that part of IPSC-style competition involved reloading their pistol.  Others didn't know when, how or why to reload.  Of the 13 students, at least a few didn't know that when their pistol stopped working ... they didn't need to have permission from their instructor (me) to reload.

Some only had one or two magazines; there was no agreement among them about how many rounds they should load into their magazines.  Most expected the Range Officer (me) to tell them what to do next, why, or how. 

(I take back that comment about "herding cats"; Cats at least know how to yowl and run away.  There were times when I wished I was as wise as a cat; I stuck around, and tried to learn faster than my students.)

Since then, the club has initiated a number of 'supportive' classes, not the least of which have been "introduction to pistol shooting" where the students are taught all of the controls on their pistols, when why and how to use them, and what those 'controls' do.

I am very grateful that my club has been willing to learn as fast as they can.  The folks who pay for instruction on such courses as "Introduction to Pistol Shooting" get their money's worth.

More important, when they show up at my "Introduction to USPSA" class, they have been taught the rudiments.

Unfortunately, that class has often been scheduled immediately before the "Introduction to USPSA" class, which I teach.   People who take two classes "back-to-back" are sometimes overwhelmed by the instruction,

It may be a better plan to allow "new shooters" at least a week to assimilate the instructions that they have already been taught, before they are advanced to more complicated competitive techniques such as those which I teach.

ARPC might take notice of this, and consider rescheduling classes.  But I doubt it will happen.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017