Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Case for Defensive Firearms

Violent criminals get to pick the time, the place, and the number of accomplices they will bring when they want to attack someone.

When a law abiding person who exercises discretion, reason, compassion, and an aversion to force goes about their lives and finds themselves and/or their families in an attacker’s grasp (in public or at home), the only thing they can pick is their response to the attack, be that attack an attempt at rape, assault, kidnapping, or murder. If it is already too late to avoid the attacker, the remaining option is to defend your own life with a firearm.

Criminals, despite their depictions in TV and movies, are not dumb. They know the benefits of strength in numbers. Most home invasions and a growing-number of muggings involve between 3 and 5 attackers. Recent cases have shown that 5 or 6 rounds might be needed to stop one attacker, which would require the people defending themselves to have between 15 and 30 rounds. Since the attackers will not be kind enough to wait for you to reload, that all needs to be in one magazine.

The most commonly available firearm that meets that requirement is a semi-automatic rifle, comes from the factory with a 30-round magazine. Since such rifles are not practical to carry to the grocery store or other public venues, a semi-automatic handgun, which commonly comes with a 12- to 15-round magazine, is a decent second alternative.

According to the FBI, violent crimes have been falling throughout the US for the last 20 years. 2011 reported 14,600 homicides (down from 23,700 in 1992), with just over half of them being committed with a firearm. At the same time, the number of gun sales has been continuing to grow. While exact statistics on sales are not available, the FBI reports that in that 20-year span, 130 million firearm background checks have been run.

As firearm ownership has gone up, crime has gone down. While I do not presume to say that one caused the other, it is also difficult to say that an increase in firearm ownership causes an increase in crime.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Playing the Game

When I first started shooting IDPA, it was to get some practice at shooting while moving and drawing under pressure; practice for the "just in case, self defense" scenario.

It was not long before the competitor in me took over and I started wanting to win.

What kind of things did I change? It's funny... almost all of them.

The Gun
In daily life, I most likely carry a Ruger LCR revolver or a Glock 19. 

In competition, I'm shooting a Glock 34 or a Springfield XDM 5.25, both with fiber optic sights and competition triggers.

Spare Ammo
In real life, I probably carry a speed strip for the LCR or a spare mag for the Glock... but only if it's colder and I'm wearing a jacket with pockets.

In competition, I have two mags in a pouch, something I've never worn in real life.

Concealment garment
In real life, the LCR is in my pocket or the Glock is on my belt, covered by a T-shirt and/or jacket or unbuttoned dress shirt.

In competition, I'm wearing a 5.11 tactical vest.

The LCR sits in a nylon pocket holster; the Glock 19 in a leather holster.

Both competition guns are in Blade-tech kydex holsters with cut-outs on the front for a faster draw.

When I only shot for practice for self defense, I shot double taps into a silhouette target, aiming for the center of mass. I probably shot once a month or so. I never drew from a holster and usually only shot a few rounds at a time.

For IDPA, I am shooting almost every week, at multiple targets, with cover set up, and with a shot timer.

So.... I guess I'm a gamer now :-)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

A Nice Day at the Range

Just a few shots from the last trip:
25 yards with the Browning Buckmark. Don't ask me how I managed three different groups (that's a 6" circle):
As  the sun started going down, I got this shot of the trees and sky:

And this one, only at 7 yards with the Glock 17, was done shooting 5 rounds as fast as I could get the sights back on (about 2 seconds for each set of 5).

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Off to a rough start....

Some days you get off to a really bad start. It can really put a damper on the rest of your match.

The first stage in today's IDPA match was one of the most complex that I've ever done. It involved a swinger that started at the start, but you had a choice to engage it later if you wanted. I took that route and I paid for it. When I engaged it, after shooting two targets while walking backwards and two more around cover, I shot at the thing three times while it was barely moving. I was sure that I saw holes in the target so I moved on. I was wrong. No hits at all. That's two down-5's plus a 5 second penalty for failure to neutralize.

Other than that, I shot the stage pretty well (including a pop-up disappearing target that I nailed), missing 8 more points. But the total of down 28 was not a good start to my day. On the plus side, it was such a complex stage with so much movement and cover, everyone was getting procedural penalties. I didn't get one.

Stage 2 had a lot of targets, but it was nothing like the first one. The strangest thing there was a target with a steel knockdown target in front of it. You could hit a small area of the target or shoot the steel, knocking it down, and then hit the target behind, but still is pretty slow to fall. I opted for knocking down the steel so I could get the clean shot. Down 6 for the stage (3 seconds), so not bad.

 Stage 3 required us to pick up a "brief case" (a drill case with a brick in it) and then shoot the rest of the stage one handed. The tricky thing about this stage is that each target required 3 hits, not the more common 2 hits, so a lot of people messed that part up.

After I picked up the brief case, I couldn't remember if I had to reengage the first few targets again, so I had to stop and ask the SO. Oops. It was good shooting though, only down 8 points.

Stage 4 went really well except that my first shot was super low. I flinched on the first shot, dipping the gun. After that I was right on. I also tried planning out a tactical reload (reloading when it was not necessary) on this stage. It worked OK, but it took me too long to get the empty magazine into my pocket. Most of the targets were pretty close, but I was still happy with my down 3 points for the stage.

 Stage 5 I almost made the same mistake that I did last time I was at Lower Providence. I started moving before my reload was complete. Luckily the SO yelled "cover" and I backed up behind cover and completed my reload. I looked a little goofy backing up in the video, but I didn't lose much time. Down 10 points.

Total for the match was down 55, with something like 35 targets. I'm really happy with that.

For the video:

Monday, April 23, 2012

Flying Steel and the Down One Group

Tonight's match was fun, but I can't say that I felt like I did all that well. It will be a few days before I have results, so I'm reporting on what I remember and how it felt.

I want to stick with SSP for the year, but sometimes it's fun to shoot something else. I shot the match twice: Once in SSP with my Glock 17 and once in ESP with my XDM 5.25 9mm. I did it with the Glock "for real" and the XDM "for fun." I also tried to slow down and be more accurate with the XDM (which I still didn't have the patience to do right).

To be honest, I barely remember the first round with the Glock. I remember that I hit the first two steels on the first shots and took two to get the third. I remember going to two knees behind cover. That makes it tricky to slice the pie. Oops. On the tactical reload, I tried to press down the slide release. At least I didn't eject a live round again.

The second round was a bit more memorable. The third steel again was tricky. I missed the first shot. The second was a glancing shot, enough to spin the steel but not enough to knock it off the post. That put me at slidelock. After the reload, I slowed down, aimed at the small visible edge of the steel, and sent it flying. The last target was about 20 yards away in low light. I had to put 6 rounds on it. I shot 7 until I went to slidelock. At the end, I found that all 7 were within 2"... all in the Down 1 zone.

String 2 was two shots from each side of two cover positions, making for a lot of moving and transitioning. Of course, I forgot the last two shots for a second... then the SO reminded me. Oops.

The third string was five targets, each with the head and the sides of the targets painted black for hard cover, leaving a small zone to hit. It was one hit on each target and then kneel and hit each one two more times. I hit one of the hard covers (down 5), but not bad otherwise.

The last one was a basic two to the body and one to the head while walking backwards and then the same thing while walking forwards on another target. Down 1, I think.

All told, I was around Down 33 with the Glock and Down 21 with the XDM. I'll have the official results in a few days, but it's not bad. Not quite what I was hoping for, but it's a step in the right direction.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

A Good Night at the Range

With the Double Action IDPA match on Monday, I wanted to brush up a bit and see how I was shooting.

OK, I'll be honest: I've been shooting every weekend and dryfiring several times a week. I'm slightly addicted to IDPA and really want to shoot really well. I was annoyed with my down-43 match last time and really wanted to improve. I'm counting on that if I slow down by about 5 seconds, I can cut that to down 25 or better. I'd love to shoot a down-0 match, but I know I'm not quite that patient.

I really needed to work in my reloads. In my last two matches, I managed to drop my partially loaded mag (which I had to stop and pick up to avoid a penalty) and eject a round from the chamber (even got it on video). So, I was working on reloads: I loaded 3 or 4 rounds in each magazine. I started with an empty in the gun. I'd bring up the gun to eye line, then start the drill. I'd eject the spent magazine, load a fresh one shoot three times, reload, then shoot it empty. When I put the last mag in, I had to look and see whether I was at slide lock or not.  I wanted to get used to figuring out exactly how I needed to reload and how I needed to proceed afterward.

My hits were decent, with most of then inside the #8 ring on the small silhouette targets I was shooting (my best group of 8 (including 2 reloads) was about 2"). They are not anything like the IDPA targets, but the indoor range I was using at French Creek does not allow full height targets any closer than 15 yards. I don't mind shooting at that distance to work on precision, but for IDPA it's a bit far. Plus, they are 5 for $1.

I'm definitely feeling ready for the match on Monday.

Mrs. Gun was shooting really well. She was more in a bulls-eye mood, so she was shooting slower and precise (maybe a shot every 2 to 3 seconds). She was shooting her CZ75 compact at 10 yards and, shooting 6 rounds at a time, progressed from a 3" group to one large ragged hole. She wants to get some more practice drawing from a holster at the outdoor range before she starts shooting IDPA. I think she'll get to a down-0 match before I do.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Classifier

The IDPA classifier is one of those rites of passage that all IDPA shooters must go through if they plan to participate seriously.

It's really not that big of a deal, but it's not easy.

You can read all the details at the IDPA website, but it's basically a test of your shooting skills. It is 90 shots testing you skills, such as shooting from the holster, shooting while moving (forward and backwards), shooting strong-hand-only, shooting support-hand-only, shooting from behind cover, shooting from one knee, reloading, and shooting several targets side-by-side. Of course, the shot timer is running as you do all these things, so you need to both do them well and do them quickly.

There are several good websites out there that give you tips on how to do well, so I won't bore you with more. My one point is to make sure that you make the shots. Most IDPA matches let you take additional shots if you miss or got a down-3. The classifier does not. You can only take the set number of shots. You need to make shots from as far away as 20 yards. It's not hard to miss, which hurts your score a lot.

I did my first classifier at Lower Providence in March and I enjoyed it. It was a great chance to see how I compared to other shooters. I was classified as a Marksman, with a score of 159.24 (77). Not awful for someone new to the sport, but I have a long way to go!