It’s 7:45AM and I’m at Reed’s and Louis is already there – doors open at 8:00AM. About five or six guys missed the boat and apparently thought they could just sleep-in, and giving no notice shift their dollars from one class enrollment to another. Nice, especially in classes that fill-up very quickly and you have to pay-for months in advance. I don’t have that kind of spare money to throw away and don’t know how that works because I’m not from Wherever-Man like they are, but in the end we had a class of seven guys who were actually interested in participating and learning. We waited till about 10:00 to get started, and it showed on Louis’ demeanor and effort to keep his cool. With just this many we should be done about 4:30 or 5:00PM, and I like small classes but sometimes it’s easier to hide your mistakes in a big class.
SAFETY! Guys have been getting killed thorough laxity. 3-weeks ago 2-guys dead. 1 week later another, a week after that a cop who didn’t know his Dept. issue M&P didn’t have a magazine safety but thought it did, ejected a magazine to show empty then shot and killed a recruit to “prove” it. We passed around the inert-gun that Louis used to confirm it’s status as a solid-barrel, gun-shape, training tool.
AMMO! A lot of BAD ammo has been creeping in following the takeover (administrative? cost-cutting?) of much manufacturing by “Conglomerate-Corp. Inc.” – stuff without flash-holes, stuff with wild variations in OAL, stuff insufficient charges, stuff with backwards bullets. IN general ammo without proper QA oversight – and on a box-to-box basis, so you could buy a whole case and only get a random association of poor quality as you worked your way through it, one box at a time, one good with another crap. As it turned out we had a good example in class as one fellow had bought a whack-load of Speer “Lawman” for training, and throughout the class on the first day frequently FTL’s from suffered bullet set-back as a result of insufficient case-crimp. You could press the bullet back with your finger… My 2-year old Winchester white-box ran fine and the other recommendations for “good” ammo were Black Hills, Hornady, and Fiocchi – some of us also had (or went and bought) Sellier & Bellot – not bad but it’s been under production/demand pressure as a low-cost alternative, so their quality has suffered a bit but all their stuff that showed up in class ran fine.
BASICS – if anything falls apart, it’s because the basics are missing: sights, trigger, follow-through. We had a lot of work to do on follow-through and dwell-time. IMO (and it’s just IMO) the Good-Gunny thing over the past several years and constant SAFETY harping is an improved shooter Safety-Consciousness that is shown by keeping the booger-finger OFF the bang-trigger -0 and it is now a fashionable, look-at-me statement. But…
ACCURACY – Accuracy can suffer and (IMO-warning) the downside of the “digital revolution” is a new tendency (that we all exhibited) to flick the shooty-finger off the bang-trigger and display it (Safely!) alongside the frame once the shot has been pressed. This interferes with the dwell-time when the bullet is still in the barrel, and the flicking-right (we were all right-handed) results in a bullet that impacts about 1-2 inches LEFT of it’s intended location. So accuracy suffered and there were many misses on headshots – and it was probably the biggest single problem that everyone had to overcome to one extent or another throughout the 2-days of class.
I’m slow at the BASICS. There’s a lot to do and my left-right brain interference gets in the (my) way too. For me the whole class boiled down to draw-stroke, manipulations, and familiarity. I don’t shoot pistol as much as rifle (and neither at the moment very much), and I compounded the difficulty by wearing a cover garment I had to pick that up out of the way, and it slowed things down. I had to 1.) grab and lift the long shirt-hem up out of the way with one hand, and 2.) grab the gun and 3.) move it off-safe while 4.) bring it up to meet my now disengaged other hand without muzzling myself, and 5.) rotate into forward position and 6.) push the gun forward to acquire the sights and 7.) get the booger-hook on the bang switch and 8.) take up the slack without FIRING, yet…
So why the whole Hawaiian shirt cover garment deal and button-toggle retention holster? Why not just stand easily, like all the other guys, with my t-shirt tucked-in and a cinched-up belt full of magazine carriers and a open holster? I dunno. I was laboring (have been planning) under the delusion that at some point I might be carrying in public, out of necessity or some other reason like being on-foot or camping-out after The Big Earthquake, and here in CA that means a CCW and/or without it concealment-cover. So I complicated things for myself – but you have to train for everything, right?
SHOOTING: We started on Louis’ flat targets with a camouflage patter that disguises/disrupts the overall shape, with faint area-outlines for the head-eyes, chest and pelvic region. Shoot to center-of-THE-mass of what you can see. Diagnose dwell-time problems like finger-flicking and left-impacts, other guys have their own peculiarities but the emphasis is DO WHATEVER WORKS FOR YOU to make hits quickly. Both eyes open or one eye, he doesn’t care. He has no “I, me, mine” or especial WAY of the GUN – you’re the shooter, it’s YOUR way – whatever *that* might be. We move on from flat-plane, center-of-mass shooting to curved targets that offer less area to find an aiming point, and then to targets that are curved and leaning at odd angles, and then to a bunch of them all moved together in an overlapping stack. Four curved and angled targets in a group – you can’t shoot the background target or the left-target or whatever – just the area that presents itself – an elbow, a hip, a thigh, a head, a shoulder.
After lunch we start moving. It’s not ballet, but we attempt to move sideways off the line-of-attack, first to the rght and then reverse course to left, while shooting and re-loading as necessary. It’s a bit intimidating (hairy!) at first, what with the loaded guns and all – and with my un-tucked shirt he puts me over on the right side of the line. I’m taking giant steps and have to slow down (don’t hit the wall!), as I move while turning and keeping my sights on the (my) available target (area) which is just a head-shoulder region.
Anyhow, with the long shirt adding to my drawstroke time (and discombobulation), at one point instead of having my hands together and thumbs alongside each other I wind up stopped and staring at a left hand that was grasping my right wrist. WTF? F@*k! But no scratch or hammer bite. I had escaped that indignity. But nothing escapes The Eye of Awerbuck – Sauron has nothing on Louis and would be just a crispy meat Popsicle under his withering gaze and commentary. So I correct it, and as he points out it’s a relatively self-correcting error to make, because the other side of that is 1.) a simple scratch or 2.) a blood-pumping gusher with the artery under the thumb spurting and blood-salts ruining your nicely blued pistol.
We get going again and I feel my hand is wet and red and there’s a “flea-bite” puncture on my palm where I earlier had attempted to seat a magazine with the soft part of my hand instead of the heel. Ow! Dammit – hold the grip tightly and press one hand against the other, it’s just the palm of my hand .
Again we’re off and moving, lifting and grabbing and…er…ow…blood. This one is the thumb-knuckle of my support hand, that found its damn way behind my grip-hand, and is grabbing my wrist – again. I’m staring at it like it belongs to someone else. How’d that get there, again? The EYE sees ALL – and it’s cut and more deeply oozing, and requires some work. So I get pulled off the line to go wash it off, do the band-aid and re-think the error of my ways. I think I need a cup of coffee. Anyhow it’s getting late and after I return we successfully complete some more-of-the-same drills to in-grain the repetition, and then Louis calls it.
MORE FUN TOMORROW!!… (malfunction drills, etc.)