New shooter becomes new gun owner

Six weeks ago I took a new shooter to the range. Today we went to the range again for her to try out numerous guns in preparation to buy a gun and take a class.

I brought:

  • Suppressed .22 Ruger 10/22
  • Ruger P89 (9mm with lightly loaded 147 grain bullets)
  • STI Edge (.40 S&W with lightly loaded 180 grain bullets)
  • The Gun Blog 45 (.45 Auto with lightly loaded 230 grain bullets)

I had to correct her stance and give her some hints on the grip but after that she did really well. There were a few flyers but most were good solid A-Zone hits.

The rifle:

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The stock was too long and she ended up putting it on top of her shoulder to get the proper eye relief and get it close enough she could hold it up. Still, she had great hits.

20200301_102620(0)I had her shoot the Ruger P89 only in single action mode. My goal was to see how she handled the 9mm recoil in a fairly heavy gun. If that worked out okay I would have guided her to Glock or S&W M&P style gun.

Great hits (smaller holes are from the .22 rifle):

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Then the STI Edge in .40 S&W:

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There was one flyer:

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She said she liked that gun the best so far.

On to the Gun Blog 45. Even though these were light loads with a MV of just under 775 fps (PF of about 178) she fired one shot and said that was enough.

I rented a Sig 238 (.380 Auto) and she liked it before she even touched it. We did a little dry firing, then actual shooting. She really liked it. She had great hits and after shooting about a half dozen magazines said she was done. She really liked the .380.

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She had three flyers. But she shot a lot more good solid hits.

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We put away the guns, washed up, and went to the store where her husband ordered and paid for a Sig Sauer 238 and two extra magazines.

I will probably do some more coaching to prepare them for the May General Defensive Handgun class from Insights.

New shooter report

Sunday before last, on the 19th, I had an interesting student. Susan was born and raised in communist China. She is currently a Canadian citizen, recently married my brother-in-law, a U.S. citizen, and is in the process of becoming a U.S. citizen herself.

One of the interesting stories she told Barb and I was that growing up the schools in China taught that in the U.S. there was lots of food but only the rich could afford it. And rather than let the poor people have food for an affordable price the rich would dump the excess food in the ocean. The fact that food is so plentiful and cheap that poor people in this country are obese apparently didn’t make it through the censors.

Susan wanted to learn to shoot a gun because there are times when she is home alone. Barb reserved the indoor training bay at the local gun range and Susan, her husband Mark, Barb, and I went to the range for a couple hours.

At the range one of the first things she told me was that she had never touched a gun before. <shrug> Not a problem. That’s what we are here to fix.

She filled out the paperwork for the range and after we were in the training bay she again told me, “I’ve never touched a gun before.” I assured her that was fine. I will start at the basics and she will do just fine.

After reviewing the safety rules I used a plastic gun to show Susan and Mark the proper grip (photo by Barb):

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I had taught Mark to shoot a couple years ago but I don’t think he had been to the range since and he was following along with the instructions I was giving Susan.

It might be said that Susan is left handed but she uses her right hand for a lot of things. I tested her eye dominance and found she was left eye dominate. I had her first try dry firing left handed but she insisted that shooting right handed felt better. Okay, let’s see how that works out and maybe try left handed shooting later. It turned out that shooting right handed worked for her. She closes her left eye when shooting.

After she practiced gripping the plastic gun and taking a stance that was approximately correct I showed her what the sight picture looks like with the rear, front, and target all lined up.

We then moved on to dry firing a .22 with a suppressor. The first couple of “shot’s” had significant gun movement. I pointed this out and asked her to concentrate on the following through. No movement of the gun until significantly after the click. Again and again I repeated, “Trigger prep, sight alignment, squeeze, follow through”. After just two or three dry fire clicks the gun was remarkable solid.

I loaded the gun and she fired a live round for the first time. I didn’t see any flinch or movement except that caused by the recoil of the gun but the shot was way high. Odd, try again. Again it was high but a little closer. Again and still high. I looked over her shoulder and could see she was aiming high. I stopped her and went to the target with her and the plastic gun again. I pointed out the front and rear sights and how they should align on the target. I told her to keep the front sight in focus and the target and rear sight would be slightly out of focus.

Still she was shooting high. I encouraged her get the sights lined up on the target but she still kept pointing it way high. At the end of the first magazine she finally got two rounds on the target from about 10 feet away.

After putting in the second magazine she started getting all the shots on the target. She told me she had just been using the front sight at first. Oh! That was the problem. Somehow I hadn’t connected with her on the two sights. She went through several magazines and the groups kept improving. Here is her first target with her new shooter smile:

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I put up a fresh set of targets and had her shoot at one target, move to the next, shoot it, and continue until she shot five times. One shot on each of three targets and two shots on the target which was the first and the last shot. Then repeat which would empty the magazine. Repeat with another magazine. She got really good hits and I encouraged her to shoot faster and faster as long as she was getting all the shots inside the rings.

I took off the suppressor to reduce the weight and let her experience more muzzle blast. She shot still faster and never had a miss. Here is her target after several magazines:

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I moved on to self-defense shooting. I told her about what I call the four Bs. There are only four ways you can get a bad guy to stop their attack:

  1. Brains—You get a central nervous system hit and shut them down. This includes the upper spine as well as the brain.
  2. Bone—You shoot and break their pelvis or other major mechanical supporting structure allowing you to escape.
  3. Blood—You shoot them in a vital circulatory system causing them to lose sufficient blood pressure to remain conscious. Typically this is accomplished with shots to the heart and lungs.
  4. Balls—They loose courage and stop the attack because they don’t want to get shot or want to stop getting shot.

Although number 1 is the quickest end to the attack it is a very difficult shot because the head is easy to move rapidly and it’s almost a reflexive move when a gun is pointed at your head. Plus, with pistol calibers the only dependable way to get into the cranial cavity is through the eye sockets. The curved and angled skull can deflect the bullet such that it doesn’t penetrate. Getting a bullet into the eye socket is an extremely difficult shot on a moving target.

Number 2 is a little easier if you are shooting a reasonably large caliber at the pelvis. They can’t get their pelvis out of the way as quickly and reflexively as their head. But the hips, which are most easily broken are still a small target compared to number 3.

The first target should be number 3, the upper chest. It’s difficult to move the chest area rapidly because it’s near the center of gravity. The heart and lungs are a much larger target. These are what should be shot first. If that doesn’t get the desired results after a few shots then start targeting number 2 or 1 (photo by Barb):

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How many times do you shoot? You shoot until the attack is stopped. If they turn and run you are done unless they are putting another innocent life in imminent danger of permanent injury or death.

I explained you can’t shoot someone just because you don’t want them in your yard. You can only justifiably use lethal force to defend yourself or other innocent people from imminent danger of permanent injury or death. Washington state does generally consider someone who has broken into your house, knowing that people are present, as sufficient justification to use lethal force. There are some situations where this is not going to be true. A healthy adult male shooting a 10-year old who broke a window and came into the house is probably going to jail. The resident has to use reasonable judgement.

Susan first used the .22 pistol with good results:

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After several magazines with her shots doing well I had her try my .40 with some powder puff loads. They wouldn’t cycle the gun when Susan was shooting it. I tried to get her to lock her wrists and hold it firmly but she just didn’t have the strength to keep the gun solid enough to cycle. I switched out the ammo to my major Power Factor loads. It cycled with the two shots she took but she was uncomfortable with it and I moved her to a different gun for her defending herself in the inside the home scenario:

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This is a suppressed AR with a red-dot sight. I explained the bullet, even though it is the same diameter as used by the .22 she had been shooting, is moving about three times the velocity. This additional velocity will cause much more damage to an attacker and one or two solid hits will have as much “persuasion power” as a whole magazine out of the .22. Plus it is easier to get good hits. Even from the top of her stairs to the front door of her home she could easily get hits that would be difficult with a handgun.

She fired a few shots with it then I moved her back to about eight yards from the original three or four yards. She continued to get good results but the gun was too heavy for her to be comfortable with it. I took off the suppressor since it’s actually a .30 caliber suppressor and much heavier than it needs to be. I should get one sized for 223.

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With the much louder muzzle blast she still did fine and even said she liked that, “Because it will scare them away!” I told her that especially if she is indoors it will require she be wearing hearing protection because it would cause permanent hearing damage to shoot it without ear protection.

Here is her final target:

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Our range time was up so we cleaned up and made plans for the next stage of her firearm skills development. I gave them a link to Insights Training for the General Defensive Handgun class. She will need to have her own gun and she needs a little more preparation to be ready for the class. We will go to the range again soon and they will try out various guns to see what works best for them at this stage of development.

As we were leaving Susan again told me, “I had never touched a gun before.” She went on to say, “I thought we would just look at guns today. I didn’t think I was ready to shoot one!”

She did fine. Guns aren’t so difficult that you can’t be safe and functional within a couple hours. You can spend years becoming an expert but you can successfully defend yourself with a few hours of training and practice. Just look at the last target for the proof.

Federal Air Marshal Qualification

I tried this years ago and failed. I should try it again.

Federal Air Marshal Qualification: Test Your CCW Skills

Commonly called the “old Air Marshal (FAM) course,” it was created for Federal Air Marshals in 1992. In cooperation with the Office of Civilian Airline Security, it was developed by a private instructor in the Fort Bragg, NC, area who routinely taught skills to certain units based at that facility. It eventually became the qualification course for all Federal Air Marshals. Those who passed it received their flying orders. Those who failed went back for more training. It was not an easy course. In fact, when senior officers from the Joint Special Operations Command attended and reviewed the course in 1998, their opinion was that those passing the TPC were among the top one-percent of pistol shooters in the world.

I expect I will fail again but I now have easy access to a place where I can practice on the stages I difficulty with.

New shooter report

Almost exactly a year ago Vic brought me a new shooter and I taught him to shoot a handgun and did some coaching for Vic. Then last Friday Vic brought his wife and two daughters to the range so I could teach them to shoot. Four shooters is more than I really wanted because with the range reserved for only two hours there wouldn’t be enough time to get them all through the usual material.

But, I did my best and got them through the basics with a .22 pistol (both suppressed and unsuppressed), .22 revolver (both single and double action), and we had just enough time left for each to take make a single shot with the .40 S&W.

The wife and two daughters had never shot a real gun before. One of the daughters had shot a pellet gun once.

I did the usual explanation of grip, stance, sight alignment, and sight picture,  then had them dryfire until things looked solid. I added live ammo and they started punching holes in the paper from 10 feet away.

They all did well after some minor adjustments. The primary adjustment was in which hand to shoot with. All are right handed but Vic’s wife and one daughter are cross eyed dominate. They tried shooting both right handed and left handed and ended up sticking with left handed shooting. I’ve found that when new shooters are cross eyed dominate the majority end up shooting with their weak hand.

Here are the new shooters smiles:

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Quote of the day—Brian Enos

Awareness in shooting comes from observation without thought. Awareness leads to action without thought. Awareness exists only in the present tense, along with shooting. Although awareness happens actively, it’s perceived passively.

Brian Enos
1990

Practical Shooting: Beyond Fundamentals Page 16.
[I know what Enos is saying. I sometimes experience this when shooting and am trying to get into “the zone” consistently. I think this is the major obstacle to my further improvement at this time.

I’m not certain this is the best way to say what Enos means.

I went looking for Yoda quotes to supplement Enos but I couldn’t find one that was a good match.

A year or so ago I read Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience to try and find out more about getting into this state of mind and body. It wasn’t as rewarding as I had hoped it would be.

Several decades ago, when I played a lot of tennis, I read The Inner Game of Tennis. This was when I first started understanding this state. I’m beginning to wonder if I should read it again and apply it to shooting.—Joe]

Recondo Class is Coming — Adventure Training!

Via email from Insights. I wish it was some other time than Boomershoot weekend. Some people might be interested in doing both:

Over 60 hours of training in 4 days!

Its finally here, the class you’ve been waiting for — Recondo School! Four completely packed fully immersive days of training with Special Operators on all aspects of patrolling. Learn all there is to know about small team reconnaissance, ambush, and raid.
Starting with the basics, 3-5 man element teams will conduct day and night reconnaissance missions. Next the teams will combine to conduct ambush patrols. The teams grow again to conduct raids on enemy encampments. The final day is live fire battle drills, learning to do everything safely with live ammunition.
Outside of the military nothing like this has ever been offered before. Others have done fantasy camps, no one has run the real deal. Most active duty infantrymen never get a chance for this level of training!

The Details

One of the ultimate expressions of this class was done during the Vietnam War and was known as MACV-RECONDO school. This school was set up by Project Delta (yes, the guys who later founded Delta Force) and then turned over to 5th SFG. This was the basis for LRRP/Ranger type operations in Vietnam. This course will be modeled after that school but with a modern backdrop and modern planning procedures.
Taught by Army Green Berets, Army Rangers, Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol members and other select Special Operations personnel.  The best of the best. Each combat patrol will have at least one cadre member and larger patrols will have two or more per patrol. Cadre will be teaching, mentoring, and leading the patrols.
The course will be taught inside of a scenario wargame, just like all military exercises and like the Special Forces Qualification Course which uses “Pineland”. In this course we will be using the scenario of “Red Dawn”. A foreign military force has invaded America and now you are in the resistance fighting against them. Luckily US Army Green Berets have infiltrated your area to provide you training and leadership!
Immersive scenario based training is far more effective than a conventional course. Everything is “real” and has context and pieces learned on one day connect back in later in the scenario. This course will have over a dozen live role players playing the part of the enemy, have real people as part of the “underground” etc. FULLY IMMERSIVE TRAINING. InSights will be offering numerous “linked” courses around this scenario in the future.
Besides the patrolling track we will be offering a Tactical Operations Center track. These are the guys who make the missions run, produce and give intelligence briefings, run radio networks, debrief teams after missions, coordinate with underground forces and assets, meet and interview intelligence sources, “Battle track” teams and the enemy. Learn intelligence preparation of the battlefield, operational security, and tradecraft for the resistance environment. The TOC track is perfect for those who might not be up for four days and nights of moving through the woods but who still want to learn to contribute to the team.
Class dates: May 2-5, 2019
Location: 3 hours from Seattle (location provided upon registration)
Tuition: $1600
Prerequisite: Concealed Pistol License or documentation of good character

Minimum required equipment:

  • AR-15 type rifle in 5.56 with blank adaptor and 400 rounds of blanks and 200 rounds live ammunition
  • Compass
  • Simple chest rig or load bearing equipment
  • Day pack
  • Outdoor clothes and boots with multiple changes and gear for inclement weather.
  • Sleeping equipment to include cot or sleeping pad
  • Optional equipment:

  • Binoculars
  • Night vision equipment
  • GPS
  • FRS/GMRS radios
  • A full field kitchen with cooks will be present so students will not have to worry about meals or snacks, etc. You will be able to dedicate yourself 100% to training.
    Large squad tents are also provided.
    To register, call us at 1.888.958.0884 or email us at: info@insightstraining.com.
    Stay safe and we’ll see you in class!

    Random thought on #I1639

    There are lots of grounds to challenge Washington state I-1639. None are a sure thing and since there are so many components to it seems likely the courts will throw out some aspects of it and leave others intact. I have been wondering if the training requirement might be something we have power over and can eliminate even if the courts don’t find it a sufficient burden on the specific enumerated right to keep and bear arms.

    What if there were no classes that met the requirements of I-1639? Or, at least, the classes were so few, far between, and/or expensive that the vast majority of the population could not take the class. What if all trainers refused to include material which met the requirements? Wouldn’t the courts be, essentially, forced to say I-1639 is blocking the exercise of specific enumerated right?

    I realize gun manufactures are not meeting the microstamping requirement of California law. And that has resulted in no new guns being added to the list of “safe guns. But that is going through the courts now and may result in a path to a victory on one element of I-1639.

    New shooter report

    We have a relatively new intern on my team at work, Nashwa. She grew up in Texas and speaks fondly of it so I figured she was at least comfortable around gun owners. I had taken everyone else on the team, except my boss Jodie, to the range but not Nashwa.

    I have invited Jodie many times. While she expresses great interest she has not found a time slot that works. I give her a pass because she recently finished up training with the FBI where she learned to shoot everything from handguns to sniper rifles. I’ll get her to the range someday but today was Nashwa’s day.

    I had the training bay reserved just for the two of us from 4:00 –> 6:00. It turns out she had never fired a gun before. I asked if she was right handed or left handed. “Right”. Which eye is dominant? “Right”. I was a little surprised she knew. My surprise must have shown because she then said she wasn’t sure. I did a quick test and found she was left eye dominant. I first taught her shooting left handed and then part way through switched to right handed for a while. She decided to stay with left handed shooting.

    I started her out with dry firing of a Ruger 22/45 Light with a suppressor. She looked like she had it down. But her first half dozen real shots were all high. Nice group. But they were about three inches high at 10 feet. I went over sighting again. Still the same problem.

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    I fired a few shots. It was maybe a quarter inch low at that range.

    We went over the sighting again. “Oh, I wasn’t really looking at what was going on with the rear sight.” Hmm… I’ll have to work on how I explain sights.

    I gave her a clean target and she was putting them just below the bulls-eye:

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    Ahhh… Yes. The new shooter smile.

    I moved her to shooting a simulated steel match with four targets on one piece of paper and removed the suppressor.

    She was getting all five hits in under ten seconds.

    Next I gave her Major Power Factor loads in my STI DVC Limited. With essentially the same results. But after a few strings the misses started increasing and getting more and more wild. It was time to go back to the .22.

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    She still had some misses. Back to dry fire. We needed to end the day on a positive note.

    The dry fire looked good. I pretended to put in a loaded magazine and she “fired” again. There was some serious movement of the gun when she pulled the trigger. More dry fire. And then, finally, live fire. She was back to consistent, solid, hits  I shouldn’t have let her fire so many rounds through the .40. She was starting to develop a flinch.

    After we cleaned up and packed things up we talked a little bit. She had two questions:

    1. Q: How much do I owe you?
      A: Nothing. The first time is free for new shooters.
    2. Q: How often do you come here? I would like to go again.
      A: Two or three times a week. But you don’t need for me come with you. You can come here by yourself if you want or bring a friend anytime they are open.

    We now have a new member in the gun community and a team member at work that fits right in.