Posts Tagged ‘shooting’

target

I’ve seen shooters at all levels that struggle to some degree with “flinching,” or what we commonly call anticipation. This is evident when you look at a target of a student and see the rounds striking the lower left area because just a split second before they fire, they “flinch” and the final aiming point and muzzle dips and turns resulting in a low hit or miss. (Opposite for left handed shooters)

New and less experience shooters, or those who do not practice regularly struggle with anticipation. The primary causes of anticipation are: Fear or uncertainty, improper grip, and lack of practice or training. The good news about “flinching” is that it is curable with a little bit of work.

Fear or uncertainty is usually the first thing we need to address. Everyone has an aversion to pain and new shooters and those who are inexperienced or do not shoot frequently enough are afraid of being hurt by the handgun when it discharges, cycles, or both. There is also quite a bit of anxiety or uncertainty that also needs to be overcome. To be a good shooter you have to tolerate a bit of discomfort, but that can be minimized and managed by a little bit of practice and confidence.

I tell all of my students that the “scary” noise and the mechanical actions happens faster than they are able to perceive it, and none of it happens until micro-seconds AFTER the bullet leaves the barrel of the gun on its way to the target. So getting the perfect shot in the right place happens before any of the things we are uncertain or afraid of, actually take place. So getting the round to hit what you are aiming at is a simple application of the fundamentals… and then the “scary stuff” happens.

I know this information is not comforting to the timid shooter, so let’s analyze the second part of this problem. More gun than you can handle! You need look no further than Youtube for endless videos of idiot boyfriends handing their girls or guy friends extremely large caliber hand cannons, offering no training or advice and then laughing hysterically when they get hurt. These videos breed stereotypes and fear among potential new shooters. Hollywood doesn’t help either when they wrongfully depict a handgun discharging and sending the shooter flying backwards. If you are a timid, new or inexperienced shooter, start with a small caliber handgun and build confidence before picking up something larger. A defensive caliber does not have to start with a point four (.4-) to be effective. (Uh oh… I just said calibers less than .40 are good for defense… Brace yourself for the hate mail)

I have handguns available to rent for my courses and they are usually .22LR or 9mm. I also use steel frame handguns that are a little heavier to help mitigate some of the recoil. Starting off with something manageable helps assuage some of the fear or uncertainty. When they are expecting a civil war cannon bang and all they get is a sharp pop, shooters realize that handling a firearm is not that difficult after all. It only takes a couple hundred rounds for confidence to soar and after seeing how well you can shoot a small gun, most shooters are eager to step up to something bigger. So if you are learning to shoot start small.

The second part of the flinch equation is an improper grip. I teach and strongly advocate the 100% or thumbs forward grip. Shooters of all sizes, strength and skill levels have had great success using this grip. Using your Google-fu you can find dozens of articles on this style of grip and its numerous advantages. This two handed grip style will give you the maximum skin to surface contact on the handgun as well as the best position to manage the cycling of the slide during recoil. If you page through the Home Defense Gun (.net) site you can find an excellent video that demonstrates this grip. If you are improperly holding the handgun, the recoil you are absorbing will be felt to a much greater degree than necessary, which will cause pain or extreme discomfort and cause you to “flinch” unconsciously.

The best way to fight the flinch is to seek out quality training and practice on your own. I recommend a lot of dry fire practice if you have a problem with anticipation or flinching. Dry firing means that you develop strong neural pathways (muscle memory) without any of the “scary” stuff happening. By focusing carefully on the fundamentals of proper trigger press, sight alignment and follow through without having to worry about the noise or mechanical action will allow you to grow comfortable and confident. When you do finally hit the range you can apply the skills you acquired during dry fire practice. With a solid foundation to build on, the right grip, and a manageable caliber handgun you will be well on your way to ending the “flinch” or anticipating.

To end the fight against the flinch once and for all you will need practice. Here is a drill I recommend to anyone struggling with anticipation or “flinching.” Take a handful of empty casings and as you load your magazine or cylinder, randomly place an empty casings into the magazine interspersed with live rounds. (Or have someone else load your magazines randomly). As you shoot on the range, you will not know when your gun will go bang or click and if you have a problem anticipating the recoil or flinching, you will catch yourself doing so as the hammer falls on the empty case. When you pull the trigger and there is no bang, no mechanical reaction and you still flinch and drop the front sight down and left in anticipation… you’ll feel really silly. After a few bouts of this behavior your concentration level will increase, and since you do not know when the gun will really fire, you’ll fight the flinch, stay on target and start making good hits. Try this out and post your results, I’d love to hear your feedback.

Once you master the smaller caliber and the fear and uncertainty fades, challenge yourself and pick up the next larger caliber available. Confidence comes quickly with a little practice and training. Once you grow accustomed to the motion, mechanical action and the noise, you’ll start to relish the discomfort you feel and after a while, you’ll enjoy it… from there you’ll be well on your way to being a top notch shooter.

Train hard, stay safe.

Scott S

Your mind is the weapon, everything else is just a tool! For more information please visit our website at:

http://www.oneweaponanytool.com or find us on Facebook. For more firearms, safety and personal protection articles, videos and sound advice visit my friends at http://www.homedefensegun.net or search for Home Defense Gun on Facebook.

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Despite what I’m doing it always seems like I have something I need to carry. Be it a folder, grocery bag, holding a door, holding a phone or my daughter’s hand, I usually have something in my non-gun hand. If you carry a concealed weapon, you should take great care and practice making sure you always have your primary or gun hand free in case you need to access your weapon. Keeping your gun hand free limits your options on how much you can carry and usually means your off hand is occupied. For the article I’m going to use the phrase off hand. I know the more common description is “weak hand,” but I prefer to keep the work weak out of my vocabulary. You may be less skilled, but you are not weak!

I bring this topic up because I want you to think about how much time you spend shooting one hand only? Very few instructors offer courses where you are required to shoot your handgun with your primary hand only, not to mention your off hand only. Most training course emphasize good marksmanship which is achieved by a solid stance, grip and the other applied fundamentals. This is a great way to learn, but how you learn to shoot is going to be very different from when you have to shoot to survive. Outside of some advance police pistol training I do not see one handed shooting in very many curriculums.

Whether you attend my basic handgun or one of my more advanced courses, I make all of my students shoot with one hand for several reasons. The first reason is to show them it is possible. You should see the looks I get from students when I tell them to let go with one hand. After some initial apprehension, the student always shows intense concentration and they shoot exceptionally well with one hand only. Just when confidence starts to increase I have them put the gun into their off-hand only. Again, more looks of horror and doubt followed by encouragement, concentration and success.

In my Offensive Pistol course we up the ante a bit by giving the student a life size doll which completely ties up one hand, forcing them to access, withdraw and shoot the target with one hand. This is important because like I mentioned at the beginning of the article, we are always carrying or holding onto something. In a real life encounter we may have our off hand occupied, or if we are with a loved one they may be latched onto one of our arms in panic. In the event you are involved in a gun fight and become injured and lose the ability to fight with one hand, having a skillset you have trained will make a life-saving difference.

While shooting with one hand usually requires a bit more concentration when practicing, you will find that over time you can make very accurate hits. In practical or defensive pistol training we need to remember that we are not looking for the same level of accuracy as someone who is participating in a marksmanship competition. While we should always strive to shoot faster and try to make our rounds touch each other, in a real life environment we should strive for, “Combat accuracy.”

There are varying definitions of combat accuracy so let me explain my perspective this way. When shooting I want my students to get their rounds into a soccer ball size area of center mass. When shooting with one hand, and shooting quickly this is not difficult to achieve with a little practice. As your skill increases you will be better able to control the recoil and get those rounds closer together, but if you can put your shots into a soccer ball size area you will be effective against a lethal threat.

To close out the article I want to give you a tip you can try that may make shooting with one hand a bit easier. Sitting or standing where you are shake your arms to loosen up a bit. Now raise them up in front of you and notice how your hands are naturally pronated or angled towards the center line of your body. This is the common way you rest your hands on a piano, or computer keyboard.

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This is a very natural position for your body. Now, keeping your hand in that position, simply add the handgun. You will notice that the handgun is also pronated or angled slightly inboard towards your centerline. This should feel natural and comfortable, but be careful not to over pronate and end up going full gangster as you hold the handgun. The gun should rest naturally at a 45 degree angle. (See photos)

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From this position you can easily see your front sight and achieve a good sight alignment and picture. Shooting one handed from this position also allows you to stand square to your target instead of turning sideways and exposing your vital organs.

The other thing to avoid is over rotating your hand the other way so your handgun is sitting straight up and down or about 90 degrees. If you rotate you’re the gun you will feel additional tension in your forearm and wrist which will cause you to fatigue faster and will make mitigation of recoil more difficult. If you notice with your hand in the pronated position, the grip panel is facing downward, allowing gravity to assist you in by counteracting the rise of the handgun during recoil.

Next time you head to the range, make sure you spend some time outside your comfort zone. Spend some time shooting with one hand and apply some of the techniques I’ve mentioned above. When you have adequate control, shoot faster but maintain accuracy. Build your skills and confidence and then shoot with your off hand as well. If you carry a concealed handgun, make sure you carry in such a way you can access and draw your handgun with one hand as well. This skill is vital to your survival. It pays to be one armed man!

Be safe, and remember: Your mind is the weapon, everything else is a tool!

Scott S

Founder – One Weapon Any Tool Firearms Training

www.oneweaponanytool.com

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Wallboard

Frangible Ammo for Home Defense

The blue collar test…

 

While out at the range last weekend I decided to test the much lauded theory that frangible ammo was a safer more viable option for home defense. The theory is basically: The frangible bullet would dissipate once it struck a solid surface, preventing over penetration, and saving the life of a loved one due to a stray shot. We all know that ball ammo has a reputation for punching through hard objects and continuing far beyond. I wanted to compare it to ammo that was designed to hit an object and then fragment like the rounds made by Dynamic Research Technology. The DRT rounds are designed to strike your target and then create a devastating wound cavity due to the rapid dissipation of the metal powder.

While others have conducted similar tests and a few of them are far more scientific in nature, I decided I wanted to view the results for myself. The other factor making my test unique is that I went to the Big 5 and got off the shelf ammo like a lot of Americans do. I tested what you can buy off the shelf, not some fancy factory ammo test in a controlled setting.

My test calibers were chosen based on the most common calibers the majority of gun owners have/use. I chose 9mm, .40 S&W, .223 and 5.56.

For 9mm I used Speer Lawman 115 grain vs. Dynamic Research Tech in 85 grain

For the .40S&W I shot Freedom Munitions 180 grain vs. Dynamic Research Tech 105 grain

For the AR15 I had some extra Winchester 5.56 55 grain vs. Dynamic Research Tech in 55 grain

The targets were a pair of 2X4s nailed in place with about a 6 inch gap between them, and a piece of standalone drywall board.

I shot the drywall first and placed a standard target behind it to see if the rounds would fragment once hitting the wallboard and cover the target in dust or if they would penetrate the board and target with no discernable effect. For this test I was not surprised to find out that both the ball ammo and the frangible ammo easy penetrated the wall board and target leaving a perfectly sized hole of matching caliber in both. I was fairly certain that the wall board might not be enough to cause the frangible ammo to begin to fragment… thus the 2X4s.

 1st-2x4

I started with the 9mm. To my surprise both the ball and the frangible 9mm made it through both 2X4s completely unscathed. The frangible round maintained its structural integrity through the first block of wood, covered the gap with ease and still punched all the way through the second block of wood without any “fragments” appearing in between. If there was any fragmenting, it happened once the bullet struck the berm, which was not recovered. So much for my theory with the 9mm.

Next up was the .40 S&W. Starting with the ball ammo, I fired into the first block and it hit the second piece of wood causing it to split. The round made it clean through both blocks and the inertia or transferred energy carried into the second block rending it down the grain. Not bad for factory reloaded ammo. To continue the test I applied some masking tape to hold the second 2X4 in place and continued.

The .40 frangible also smacked right through the first block and right though the second as well. Results of this basic test are the same as the 9mm. So far, I’m not seeing the rounds strike a hard surface and start to fragment or dissipate as expected. Both calibers of handgun rounds would easily pass through common home construction materials and still be able to cause significant injury to whomever is on the other side.

Both 2x4s

Based on my handgun results I was fairly certain the rifle rounds would prove similar. As you can see from the pics I snapped, the .223 frangible ammo passed clean through both 2X4 blocks as well with no signs of deformation or fragmentation. Again, a certain injury of whatever is beyond the interior home materials.

For the final comparison I dropped a couple of 5.56 rounds in and made two shots. The first shot cleared the first 2X4 and due to the angle of the shot, it went over the second 2X4 and did not leave a mark on the second board. The follow up shot was the one that showed some results out of the six I fired. After a clean entrance and exit hole in the first 2X4 the 5.56 round started to destabilize and tumble in flight. The bullet landed alongside the hole made by the .40 caliber ball round but tore a vertical hole into the second block which I can only assume is the round tumbling into and through the second block.

This bodes well in my opinion for home defense due to the fact that after contact with a hard surface, the 5.56 becomes unstable and will tumble causing a loss of inertia which could prevent a traumatic injury. The problem is that the change of trajectory is unpredictable.

Thanks for reading through my simple blue collar test. In the future I’d like to find different types of frangible ammo and see if my results will vary. For now I know that frangible ammo does not dissipate as easily as I anticipated. Do not take my word for it, go test it for yourself.

 

Till next time, be safe and God Bless.

Scott S – One Weapon Any Tool

 New classes coming out this week- Check the web site: http://www.oneweaponanytool.com

hard work ahead

 

 

As a teacher / trainer I cannot emphasize enough the differences between these two common words. When you go to the range, hang your target and fire a hundred rounds through the paper into the berm, it is easy to get into the mindset that you are “training.” I would disagree with that assessment of your time by calling it “practice,” and here is why.

When I’m looking to learn something new, or improve on a skill, I seek out an instructor who can teach me that skill, hone a skill I have, or push me to my failure point so I know where to work from. Training requires a knowledgeable, subject matter expert who can break down a complex task into a series of steps a student can comprehend and work on. During training, the instructor monitors progress, corrects the errors students make, fine tune your performance, offer criticisms, encouragements and then push you to excel beyond your comfort zone. Training is an evolution where the learner comes out better and more knowledgeable and capable of performing a skillset. Good training is a struggle for the student and should challenge you. You cannot learn inside your comfort zone and there is no amount time you can spend on your own that will truly push you towards excellence.

When your training is over, you take the new knowledge or skillset and “practice” it on your own. Practice reinforces the training. Practice will take those newly formed neural connections and start insulating them until the little invisible thread becomes a super highway, a solid pathway you built up in your subconscious through repetitive, meaningful, challenging work.

While I have drawn a bit of a distinction between training and practice, they really are symbiotic. In order to practice you have to have good training as a foundation to work from. Without training and guidance, you can practice a lot and get really good at the wrong thing or make a superhighway sized neural connection of bad habits. The old saying, “Perfect practice makes perfect,” is very true.

When you do take time to practice, make your sessions short and meaningful. A mere 20 minutes of good slow, methodical practice the right way is far better than 60 minutes of sloppy techniques and imprecise movements. During practice sessions focus on technique and speed will come. Remember, smooth is fast. Practice until the last piece of training you had is smooth and then start looking for the next opportunity to train so you’ll have more good techniques to continue to practice.

Take a moment now and analyze the last few practice sessions you’ve had and evaluate yourself honestly. Is it time for you to seek some training to make sure you are practicing the right things, the right way? If you haven’t been to a training course recently… maybe it is time to take one.

 

Until next time, stay safe, practice hard and seek training.

Scott S – One Weapon, Any Tool

www.oneweaponanytool.com You can also find us on Facebook!

trigger

This week I had a discussion with some fellow firearms instructors about the proper way to apply one of the fundamentals, Trigger Control.  In a variety of students this is a pretty hard one to master without a lot of practice, so in this discussion I will talk about the proper press and finger contact to obtain and hone your trigger control.  This is a great drill you can practice using dry fire before expending costly ammunition.

When you have reached the moment when you have decided to fire, be it under stress or on the range during practice, move your finger from where it is indexed along the frame and place it on the trigger.  When applying your finger, use just the tip!  From the tip of your finger to the first knuckle joint, split that difference about half way and that is all you need for a proper press on a semi-auto firearm. 

If you shoot a revolver, due to the heavy double action trigger, you might want to put the bend of your first knuckle onto the trigger and let the knuckle part wrap the front of the trigger.  This will give you a bit more strength to overcome a long hard pull to get the revolver to cock, rotate the cylinder and then fire. 

You don’t want to have too much of your finger (or too little) on the trigger.  Having more or less than is necessary will cause you to push or pull the gun to the left or right during the firing sequence which will make your shots go astray.

When you press the trigger… Yes, I said PRESS.  I use this word because when you press with your finger, it will isolate that muscle movement to the index finger only.  You will hear a lot of instructors use the word, “squeeze.”  This word implies a larger movement involving the whole hand.  Anytime you apply uneven pressure to your grip, you may throw your shot off target.  You are not trying to “milk” the grip of the gun.  You want to press straight to the rear using only the index finger.

When you press the trigger towards the rear, you will have take-up or slack, which is the amount of movement you experience before you reach the point where the trigger breaks.  When the break happens, the gun should discharge a round.  Continue to press until the trigger is completely buried at the back of the trigger guard and hold it.  (Complete your follow through) 

Now, keeping your finger on the trigger, slowly control the movement of the trigger forward until you reach the reset point.  After some practice you will be able to feel it, however at first, you may need to listen for the audible “click” when the trigger spring resets signifying you are ready to shoot again.  Now stop!  Do not move any further forward once you reach the reset. 

Depending on the firearm, you may have to take up some slack in the trigger until you reach the break point again.  So, press until you travel through the take up to the point where the trigger breaks, press the shot, bury the trigger and so on.  The idea is to accomplish the above series of steps in one smooth continually motion to the rear of the trigger guard, and then one smooth motion to the reset and repeat.   At no time does your finger come off of the trigger!

Imagine you are holding a bottle of window cleaner.  Just like spraying the windows with blue anti-streak, you cycle the lever that dispenses the fluid in a continual motion and your finger never loses contact the entire time. 

This is an important skills to master to prevent slapping of the trigger which will also cause you to throw your shots off target.  A slap occurs when after pressing your shot your finger comes flying completely off the trigger.  As you go to make your next shot you press the trigger with a varying amount of inconsistent pressure hard and fast with your finger not properly placed about mid joint of the first knuckle.

By maintaining positive contact with the trigger you will also save fractions of a second between shots as you try to reacquire proper position on the trigger.  If you end up in a gunfight, you want to have every fraction of a second available to you to win. 

So get practicing!  Once you feel accomplished at this, add in the penny drill to see if you are achieving proper trigger press. 

Until next time, stay safe, Godspeed. Remember, your mind is the weapon, everything else is just a tool. 

Scott S

One Weapon, Any Tool.