Monday, September 26, 2011

M&P 45 - First 250 Rounds

I've gushed, I've bragged, and I've boasted about the M&P's superiority long enough... time to talk about real-world performance.

Unbeatable, especially for a full-size double-stack .45 and my goofy paws. I will forever preach about the ergonomics of the M&P handguns... any of them. At the heart of the amazing fit are the palmswells Smith & Wesson provides. I personally prefer the Medium but can comfortably shoot all three. Even those with truly small hands will find the M&P a good fit. Out of the Glock, XD(and 'M'), HK, Sigs, FNH, Taurus, Bersa, 1911-pattern pistols I've held, shot, and owned, the M&P keeps rising to the top of the milk barrel.

A few easily-fixed niggles aside, it's familiar, consistent, smooth, and accurate. Through 250 rounds of Winchester "white box" and Blazer (aluminum) ammunition, it's been flawless. Accurately launching 230gr Golden Sabers was easy and 185gr Hornady Critical Defense shot downright soft and fed with absolutely no complaints. Accuracy is equally impressive - the M&P45 is an instinctive pointer, thanks in part to a familiar 18-degree grip angle. The stock 3-dot sights (I always black my rear dots) were dead-on accurate, and while the takeup on the definitely-ready-for-duty trigger is admittedly rough, I have been able to find the reset point just fine and can quickly deliver rapid follow up shots with very great accuracy.

Those loooooooong "full size" base pads. Compact models will be on order before I go to sleep tonight and are drop-in replacements. I don't have problems with my reloads, but I prefer a closer grip on the mag tube. After a couple dozen matches indoor on polished concrete, I have yet to see one break.

Down the Road:
I easily expect to break the 1,000-round mark with boring reliability, and have no reason to think otherwise. The more I shoot it, the better it gets. It's not even broken in and the trigger is smoothing out. Even with out the Apex parts, it's duty-ready and I will not hesitate to carry it.

I WILL be pulling the thumb safety out and inserting the frame plugs, replacing the sights with a u-notch rear and tritium front, and will upgrade internals to Apex components. That's not going to improve a "bad" gun, it's going to make a very good gun MY very good gun.

The Verdict:
Haters Gonna Hate, but the M&P is tried, true, and finding converts all across the law-enforcement, competitive, and civilian personal defense spectra. I am among them and urge my friends to give one a shot.

With the exception of my EDC handgun, we will be standardizing our household to the M&P platform for the majority of our defensive, competitive (Production, SSP, CDP), and recreational shooting. Soon.

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A Modern Classic

Two iconic examples of form and function coming together in a single, beautiful and rugged creation.

M&P 45 / Insight XTi Procyon

The Chrysler Building is 77 floors of bad-ass glory, too!

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To Weaver or not to Weaver...

...there's a hell of a question.

The school I teach with instructs citizen shooters on the merits of the Modified Weaver stance, and it's the only thing I keep grinding my teeth over. Not because I hate the Weaver, but because we don't talk about the merits of the modern Isosceles presentation.

I keep thinking back to stories of Bruce Lee's philosophies toward "style" and - to grossly oversimplify - the value in using the most advantageous to the fighter at that particular point in time based on environment, opportunity, training, and what the bad guy is giving you to work with.

In my own world I fall back to a very mobile, dynamic, and instinctive symmetric presentation. Both arms pressed out, full-strength two-handed grip, and offensive attack to the target.

Recoil control - even with small, light .45-caliber handguns isn't a problem for me and it's more a testament to technique than my considerable bulk. I've seen my tiny-handed wife run an HK USP Tactical with control and command while the potbellied "gun guy" in the next lane struggles to keep a .38 on the same piece of paper.

The point? Simple - symmetrical two-handed upper-body grip and presentation works, and you don't have to assume a "target" stance to make it work.

I've shot from the Weaver, strong hand and support hand (I don't have a "weak" hand, dammit!! :-) positions, shot supported against a wall, braced against a port, and off a rest, and would like to think I'm pretty dang good from most of them.

I come "home" to my happy place more often than not and that happy place is pressed out, grip strong, and keeping shots 2, 3, 4, and 5 as close to each other as possible.

If you're a Weaver Guy, and it (really) works for you, great! But give some of the newer thinking a try. Yes, it feels weird. No, you may not like it. But master it and add it to your range of skills and you may just become a better shooter overall for it.

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Adios, Glock!

Ladies and gents,
All the fawning and hero worship I've held near my heart for the venerable Glock 34 is coming to a close over a rather simple realization...

I'm an M&P guy.

And... Even though I started out as a dyed-in-the-wool Glock Guy and have bested many an indoor match with Gaston's guns, something changed. Something profound.

After 3,000 or 4,000 rounds of practice, fun, and carry ammo through Mrs. Normal's M&P 9(JG) - with it's ribbon-engraved slide and pink backstrap - I found it to be just as fast, just as accurate, and just as easy to maintain as my Glock and I'd secretly developed an envy of her pistol.

So much so that I decided on a midsize M&P45 for my house / carry / classroom gun. As luck would have it, Mrs. Normal thought it would make a great 5th anniversary gift!

And lemme tell ya, friends... GAW-DAMN does the thing run! The stock "heavy, gritty, indistinct" trigger, basic 3-dot sights, and somewhat kludgy thumb safety - none of those supposed, reported "downsides" slow me down one bit. Even on the .45 I'm out of the holster and slamming 230 grains of red hot glee into the A box over and over.

All this newfound S&W joy is telling me one thing... if I've been good on the Glock - and I have - coming back home to the M&P is going to be great.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

New Hotness... Coming Soon (Hopefully)

So... after all my lusting over a new Colt, "definitely" needing to pick up a cheap 870, and already (re)acquiring my Glock 34, I've picked a new mare for the stable and, once my FFL can find one to order, it'll be on its way toward the suburban bunker.

What... pray tell... could it be? After six months of full-time gun nerding and a number of years shooting just about every "common" handgun and quite a few exotic, foreign, and esoteric examples of ballistic witchcraft, I've settled on two things:

(1) If I'm going to carry and I don't need to cram it in a pocket, it's a .45.
(2) The "big boy" is going to be reliable, proven, accurate, durable, and plastic.

Yup... while I've spent thousands of rounds getting to know the quintessential Combat Tupperware platform -- Glock -- I've recently come to realize and accept the fact that while Glocks are the Volkswagen of the gun universe, Smith & Wesson has given us the F-150 of semiautomatic handguns in their M&P series of semiautomatic pistols.

I've read the "complaints" about the M&P and, truthfully, I think they're all written by XD-toting haters. Sure, the finish may not be able to withstand an atomic bomb like the Glock and the stock trigger can be a tad bit indistinct at first to shooters used to the Lego-like staging of a Glock, but neither are deal killers. I've almost completed the Triple Nickel challenge more than once and nearly under time with the M&P and fully expect to do so within the next year or so.

The M&P45 (midsize) shall soon become the nightstand / backpacking / security-work / open-carry gun and I can see the day when I find someone who hasn't seen the light just yet and is willing to trade a gently-used M&P9 Pro for my Glock 34.

I can't wait for the phone call or email from my FFL dealer telling me he found one because that's the only time I'll ever believe "Help is on the Way."

Thursday, July 21, 2011

On Competition... and powering through rough matches

As a newly-minted USPSA C-class (Production) Shooter, I've been focusing this summer on shooting "serious" matches with the "serious" shooters. I'm still and will for a long time remain a "grunt" but I want to be one of the "good" grunts ;-)

My first match was a Super-Classifier, perfect for a newbie trying to crawl out of "U" (unclassified). I placed well into the top 1/2 of my division and almost classified as a "B" shooter right out of the gate. Not a bad showing...

Last Sunday was a bit of a different story, however. It was the first time I've shot a match where I didn't know anyone in my squad. The first time I'd shot in 90+ degree heat all day long. The first time I truly felt a little overwhelmed. forward a few days to learn I shot squarely in the middle of the Production division and just about in the middle of the C-class shooters. Most of the folks who beat me are better shooters with far more experience.

...and that's OK.

(placing 1st out of 22 people in a local club's "fun" match didn't hurt much, either)

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Location:La Casa De Normal

Monday, July 18, 2011

I'll Be In My Bunk

It's not a Callahan full-bore auto-lock double cartridge thorough-gauge with customized trigger... but I still call it Vera ;-)

And yes it's my very favorite gun.

Glock 34 OD with 6-port Storm Lake Barrel, Warren's Sevigny sights, custom-cut grip tape and the now-infamous 31-round magazine with +2 extension. The ultimate zombie / reaver defense sidearm.

If you didn't pick up on it, run -don't walk- over to your video store or Netflix and get taught up on Firefly.

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

How not to... FU@%!N& SHOOT YOURSELF

Howdy folks! Mr. Normal here...

It's been a while since I popped a few proverbial rounds downrange here and, to tell ya the truth, I've missed it.

I've been giving one particular subject a TON of thought lately... whether or not to really, fully, and openly express everything I think about a popular video circulating the gun blogs of late. Yep... Mr. Grebner and the now-famous "I just f@$#!4& shot myself" video.

(warning... sensitive eyes and ears beware, there's going to be a little bit of foul language)

First - what you're about to see (if you've been living under a large smooth stone and haven't run into this yet) is a practical how-to video outlining just about everything you can do wrong and luckily survive a self-inflicted gunshot wound through negligence, ignorance, and hubris.

Yep, I just pulled out an "English major" word on ya. And nobody gives us a more apropos and succinct explanation of "hubris" better than Marcellus Wallace, of Pulp Fiction fame:

You feel that sting, big boy, huh? That's pride... fuckin' with you.

disclaimer - If you didn't pick up on it yet, there's going to be a rather loud burst of profanity at some point in this video. I'll give you a hint... it comes right after you hear another loud burst - of gunfire.

I can only imagine the sting ol' Tex felt as a 230 grain bullet tore through his thigh... and the sting he must feel today every time another gun blogger - whether he sees them all or not - posts this video and opens a constructive dialogue around it.

He asks us not to ridicule him... (yeah, really) so I'll try to remain factual in my analysis of what went wrong. And I'll spoil the surprise for ya now; every bit of it was a "software" malfunction. He makes a point of showing us the equipment he was using, but make no mistake -- none of the gear in the video is inherently unsafe in and of itself. 5.11 and BLACKHAWK! make quality gear, Glocks are good-to-go and Kimber well... they make expensive 1911s (don't ask me to be nice to Kimber).

This is as close to perfect as clusterfucks get. EVERYTHING we teach and live by as shooters flew out the window. And, even before we get into the debate about the 4 Rules, SERPA holsters, 1911's in Condition One, filming yourself for YouTube, that ridiculous "drawing from defensive retention" position, or engaging a target at 1 foot and only hitting yourself, here's a little reminder when you're at the range:

YOUR BRAIN IS YOUR MOST RELIABLE SAFETY DEVICE. (and sometimes even those fail)

Now that's out of the way, let's get down to brass tacks.

Problem Numero Uno
Tex here breaks the first and foremost rule of firearms safety -- Keep your trigger finger off the trigger until you're on target and ready to shoot. You'll hear arguments revolving around which of the rules are most important and here's my school of thought... a gun cannot be discharged unless someone or something pulls the trigger to the rear. That doesn't justify failure to observe the others, but if you don't pull the trigger, the gun won't go off. Period.

Problem Numero Dos
When shit starts going all pear-shaped, he doesn't stop. That's a FUNDAMENTAL key in "training." If my master grip doesn't feel right, I flub the draw, lose focus, or make a mistake, I immediately stop, take a breath, make sure I'm safe, and slowly / safely reholster. Then, I usually cuss a little and walk through what didn't go right so I don't make the same mistake twice. If you ever find yourself screwing up -- including slipping onto the trigger -- just STOP everything and get your wits. For the love of Baby Jesus, don't keep going... you'll shoot yourself in the damn leg!

When switching between both holster and firearm platforms, he makes the utterly critical and costly mistake of thinking he's working with one system when he's actually wearing another then rushing his way through a quick-draw for the sake of his YouTube followers. Again, ingredients for a perfect storm of circumstance, the only possible outcome being ND.

His "muscle memory" (which is actually 100% brain and 0% muscle - opposite of Ol' Tex here) told him to disengage the thumb-actuated holster lock on his Glock... with one BIG problem. He was carrying a Condition 1 1911 in a SERPA holster. When he drove his thumb forward he actually disengaged the thumb safety on the 1911 and when the holster didn't release he stabbed at the SERPA's "button" instead of re-indexing his trigger finger and pulling up again after re-securing his master grip.

None of the gear he was using was inherently unsafe -- he suffered a catastrophic "software" malfunction or may not have even had the right code installed in the first place. SERPA holsters require training, discipline, and practice. There is a RIGHT and a WRONG way to operate that little release lever and, yes, what you're about to see is characteristic of a lack of proper instruction and practice. He claims "thousands" of drawstrokes... but here's what I really think:

1) I've been trained by very serious men with very serious haircuts how to use a SERPA holster and how critical it is to maintain a proper trigger finger index during my draw. If I use this technique, my trusty SERPA holster releases every time. If I loosely index or keep my finger off the frame... gun no come out. It's that simple. In Tex's case, I'd be willing to bet he never had anyone show him how to use the system and, like most human critters, taught himself to punch the release button with the tip of his finger. It gets back to that pride thing... and that God-awful sting.

2) I DO have thousands of dry and live-fire draws out of a SERPA for Glock, M&P, and 1911 pistols and have never slipped into the trigger. Again... because I was properly instructed, practiced with the system diligently, and hammered home the consequence of even a single mistake. So far, so good. What spooked me during the days I worked as a full-time RO and trainer were the two or three people who would constantly complain about getting their trigger finger caught in the trigger when using the SERPA holster. No amount of explanation or training could get them to understand they need a "software" upgrade but all of them would inevitably go for a change in hardware... then proceed to claim the SERPA was junk. Ugh.

Problem Numero Tres
Attitude and mindset - this is probably my biggest problem with Mr. Tex Grebner. You should NEVER accept the fact that an ND is inevitable. They're not. That's a horrible, ignorant, and dangerous mindset to get into. Follow the rules, kids... all the time. Always. Without exception. Forever. Get it? Accept the fact that Cooper's 4 Rules are gospel, and revere them as such.

Negligent Discharges don't "just happen." They are the result of entirely preventable circumstances coming together to allow a sear to release a striker or hammer and drive a firing pin into the base of a priming cap which ignites a powder charge and propels a bullet down the barrel of a freaking gun.

That is all. Be safe, have fun, train hard, and shoot straight.

And remember... when your "training kicks in" don't call Mom first. Call 911.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

5-second commentary on happenings in the gun world...

* Subcompact 9mm "Revolution"
- a rehash of the .380 wars from 2 years back.
Pro: more gun sales (never a bad thing)
Con: more people forgetting that what's in your head is much more important than the burner in your britches

* Scare of More Gun Legislation / Restriction
- a rehash of 2008 and 1994.
Pro: the gun community wakes up and some states even pass Constitutional Carry
Con: ammo prices go up, people panic-buy again, and I don't have money to stockpile again

* .30 caliber AR frenzy
- Good Lord... do we really need every manufacturer coming out with their own .30cal / 7-ish mm platform? Everyone should just suck it up and queue up behind AAC on this one ;-)
Pro: Cool, fun, sexy new range toys to oogle at and put on the wish list
Con: Do we really need a dozen proprietary AR calibers?

* MSM's spotlight on gun crime
- It's ALWAYS been a part of our everyday life... this is not new news
Pro: It highlights the world we live in is actually kinda dangerous
Con: It highlights the world we live in is actually kinda dangerous

As always... be safe, don't forget to have a little fun, and if you take a Liberal shooting, remember to bring him home in the same shape his feminine domestic companion sent him out.

Been Out of the Game...

For about a month now and I have to say that taking a month away from the range - moreso by necessity than by choice - has me feeling a little behind on my "gun game." I've sorta kept up with the gun blogs and managed to choke down another episode of Top Shot, but it just ain't the same.

Work, finances, helping friends renovate a business, and celebrating two weekends of Mrs. Normal's birthday week have all conspired to keep me out of the range and firmly planted in real life. Hopefully, next weekend will bring a few hours I can get out and put 200-300 rounds downrange and get ready for "real" competition this summer!

...and back to regular gun blogging.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

In Defense of SERPA

I'm going to just come right out and say it... BLACKHAWK! has the dumbest name in the gun marketing universe. Yes, worse than "Judge" and "Hi Point." It breaks all normal conventions of polite conversation by forcing us to scream its name instead of speaking it in a reasonable tone.

warning, I'm going to use a little foul language here... but it's cool, because we're all OPERATORS! right?

To those of us who don't play in sandboxes, kick down doors, or have a little SWAT pin above our nameplates, the logo screams I'M TACTICOOL!, I'M AN INTERNET TRAINED DOUCHE! - even when the equipment works as advertised and holds up to the worst daily punishment any of us are likely to dish out. That being said, I know countless LE folks and training professionals who swear by the brand, if for one item alone - the SERPA retention holster. Thank God their logo isn't splashed across the equipment.

So... why all this rampaging hate against their effective, simple, and intuitive locking mechanism? Well, if you have ever read a gun blog, you'll have invariably run across the "expert" who hates SERPAs because you have to risk jamming your finger into the trigger just to get the gun out of the holster. To which, I decry in my most Penn and Teller voice...

(see what I did there?)

The SERPA holster is designed to provide automatic release with pressure from a properly-indexed trigger finger. Just about every instructor on planet earth will teach you to index your trigger finger along the side of the holster in exactly the same position it would ride the side of the frame if you were pressed out. HOLY CRAP! (I did it again!) That just happens to be exactly where they place the "button" which disengages the internal locking bits and releases the handgun.

Now... I understand why people are upset, but it has nothing to do with the hardware on the belt and everything to do with the squishware between the ears. We see a button and we want to stab it. Push it. Head straight for it with reckless abandon and keep on driving forward until we've killed it, ran it onto a stick, and held it over a fire until golden brown an delicious. This, friends, is not the SERPA way. It's meant to be intuitive and work with "muscle memory" (which has nothing to do with muscles) in conjunction with proper training.

A HA! That's the crux - Proper Training. If you've learned to draw a gun from a holster on YouTube and somehow fail to grasp the value in dry-fire practice, the SERPA is not for you. In fact, REAL GUNS aren't for you. I'm sorry... yes, it's a right, it's a freedom, but until you get over the fact that you don't know everything about guns and there is a right and a wrong way to handle them you should either seek professional training from a qualified instructor (shameful plug for ME!) or find a less dangerous hobby, like skydiving without a parachute.

I think back to one student who kept complaining about her SERPA and how she kept going into the trigger with it. No amount of "just index your trigger finger, don't think about "pushing" anything" would help. The problem was the gear... had to be the gear. Couldn't have possibly been the shooter. Nope. I advised her to buy a different holster and, sadly, there appear to be thousands of Internet Gun Experts out there who feel exactly the same way.

While conversing with another industry pro with decades of experience, we got onto the subject of SERPAs and how a couple big schools have run into that perfect storm of untrainable new shooter spending big bucks for the high-speed guys to teach them how to become gun ninja and the SERPA holster leading to a perforated student. Again... the cause is NOT the holster but the operator (small "o").

We preach gross motor skills (it's a slide "stop," not a slide "release, damnit!) in training, and the SERPA is designed with that in mind. If you train to index your trigger finger to the frame, you will almost always get a solid release and speedy presentation from a SERPA. Fail to apply pressure against the frame (and, by extension, the holster), and the gun simply won't come out.

Punch it straight in - a fine motor skill and a stupid extra step you don't need - and you will almost certainly aim your booger hook directly at the bang switch on your draw. However, I have to say it again - that's not a problem with the HARDWARE! It's a result of poor training and, as any of us who've taught or carried (or both) guns for a living have experienced, lack of training, poor training, or shitty information (worst of all) will eventually get you hurt.

So... to recap... there's nothing wrong with the SERPA system if it's used properly. If you insist on using it in a manner completely opposite from how it's designed, you put yourself in very serious risk and would likely be best served by a lifestyle fraught with the perils of TV dinners and Jeopardy re-runs. I'm sorry to come off harsh, but the same mindset that finds SERPA holsters inherently dangerous is the same mindset that insists Glocks have no safety, paddle holsters are the shit, and carrying a 1911 with one in the pipe will get you killed.

I LOVE! Glocks and wouldn't hesitate to carry another, I DESPISE! the combination of paddle holster + active retention device in any form, and am patiently SAVING! pennies for my next 1911, which will almost surely live in Condition 1 when it goes on my belt. But that's just ME!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Wish List

We all have one.

That list of guns we not only want, but that we somehow MUST bring home. Morally imperative acquisitions, critically important purchases, the guns we cannot live without and continue to function as sane human beings.

For me... that list is relatively short, and necessarily so. Even though Mrs. Normal is a hell of a shooter and enjoys the sport, I do want to continue to remain happily married and continue to expand our collection. Today, I think I've whittled my wish (more like need) list down to the following:

1. Glock 34
2. Remington 870
3. Colt Combat Elite

Why? In case it's not obvious...

Glock 34 - Competition Run & Gun Perfection

Simply put, I miss my G34 almost as much as I miss the temperamental 1911 that got me into handgun shooting and sent me face first down the firearms rabbit hole. It's simple, fast, accurate and rock-solid reliable. It's the standard for USPSA Production and IDPA SSP for a damn good reason - in the words of a former instructor, it's "the box that rocks." I've owned the 26, 19, 17, and 34 at one point or another and cannot wait to strap my 34 holster on again and step into the start box. I have a feeling I'm going to have one of those evil-grin "oh yeah" moments...

Remington 870 - Fun, Home Protection, and "Hell Yeah!"

There are a few firearms I think everyone should own - hell, the government should simply ISSUE to us... The Ruger 10/22, the Glock 17, and a Remington 870. For about $300, it's nearly fallen into the realm of "I don't need to ask for permission..." spending more than once and I can't believe I don't have one living under the bed already. There's just something heartwarming about running the action of an 870 - instantly familiar, insanely simple, and utterly reliable in the hands of any mortal. And, once you have the base gun at home, simple to build into exactly the shotty you want. The first time I ran a handful of slugs through an 870, my mind had been made up -- I simply HAVE to get me one of those.

Colt XSE Combat Elite
This one's a little less obvious... sorta.

My first steps into the universe of serious handgun shooting didn't come through buying a Glock, Springfield, Ruger, or Taurus but a bare-bones 1911 from the folks at Kimber and those who know me well know the love-hate-love relationship I had with that pistol.

While Kimber produces thousands of perfectly functional guns for every unit that simply refuses to run, I was one of the "lucky" few to have bought a factory-fresh lemon. After its first 10-week spa vacation in Yonkers, the gun came home WORSE than when it went out and the internals look like they'd been polished by a stoned vo-tech freshman. After its second trip back - this time directly to the Custom Shop - the weirdest thing happened... the damn gun actually ran. Over 99% reliable... right up to the day I had to sell it. She'd gone from my daily-carry weapon as a range officer and instructor to 2/3 of a mortgage payment and, while I can't believe I ever would have felt this way, I miss it more than anything else I had to sell. Glocks have come and gone, but I actually regret selling my first pistol - my first 1911.

I don't just want another... I NEED another 1911, and I've been trying to find a way to bring one home at some point this year. Given the dozens of manufacturers producing hundreds of variations on the 1911 platform, I find myself drawn to what I think typifies the heart and soul of the modern 1911 -- the Combat Elite from Colt.

I'm no purist and have no problem with integrated light rails on 1911s but something about the Combat Elite just looks and feels right. With its reputation for running with near-flawless reliability out of the box, 100-year pedigree, and integration of features which define the modern 1911, the XSE Combat Elite puts everything I want in a production gun within reach... all I need to do now is save every spare penny, quarter, and $20 I can hide from my prettier half until I've got enough to bring home what I've been missing most of all. It's one thing to own a collection of Glocks, XDs, or M&Ps - and I have. What I'm missing, really missing, is that one handgun that bears the weight of heritage and history. That gun I'll own as an old man; that one gun my son or daughter one day will ask for and I'll be able to say, with a grin, "the day you can have it, you won't want it."

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Top Shot - Jay's Back...

...but it looks like he's about to get called out next week. Should be interesting, too, since it looks like they're going to move into archery (adios, weekly ratings!) and that's supposed to be his strongest area.

God knows he could use a two-day pistol course - his natural aim is pretty good but he would certainly see marked improvements in his gun handling & safety awareness (trigger discipline, homey), follow-up accuracy, and efficiency while moving and working with cover / concealment.

Hats off to Jermaine - he nearly pulled out a massive redemption after what has to be the single-biggest mental mushroom cloud we've seen on the show yet. I think he got a little screwed by the "rules" of the shoot. I thought the "tiebreaker" rule would have been in effect had they hit the same number of "foe" plates without subtracting the "friends" first.

It's always sad for me to see the good, solid shooters go in favor of the people creating drama... but Jay did walk back into the house so I suppose a congrats is in order for him, too.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Why Carry? Why Not?

I've heard some real doozies coming from the anti-gun camp of this month... these are all paraphrased but come from local news, national news, online, and in conversation:

* Concealed carry is horrible, you're more likely to hit an innocent bystander

* People who carry guns are ignorant, paranoid, bloodthirsty, and can't wait to draw

* States should be required to release lists of CCW permit holders so we know who to avoid

* The likelihood of encountering violent crime is so small that there's no point in carrying

It's 2011, can't these loons come up with better arguments?

Top Shot Season 2 - Thoughts & Ruminations

I was thrilled to hear Top Shot was picked up for at least two more seasons... the first season was a little hokey but it was fun to see "my sport" featured on regular cable TV and gave Mrs. Normal and I a shooting-focused show to look forward to each week. I had my gripes with the show but, given it was the first attempt at a large-network all-shooting reality competition show we gave it a wide berth.

We really enjoyed the mix of professional, military / LEO, and recreational shooters featured. It was interesting to watch the more specialized shooters who may have been favored due to pedigree or hype fall by the wayside and the folks with a broad base of experience with multiple platforms shine through.

We were disappointed with the prevalence of cheap oddball guns and the constant use of the Beretta M9/92... it was as if the guns in the first season were selected based on looks alone and what the one PA who owns a couple guns had laying under the bed. Why the hell would you take a cheap South African Sig knockoff when I'm sure the real deal would have been easy enough to use? Hell... the Mythbusters feature "funner" guns than the Top Shot crew did during Season 1.

This season, we're definitely holding it to a higher standard and it looks like the production staff is, too. Looks like they're definitely focusing on American Made - the .45-70 Sharps, Colt New Police, Thompson Submachine Gun, both old and new 1911s and now the M1 Garand have all been or will soon be front and center. Either someone ordered an extra-heapin' helpin' of some Freedom Fries during the brainstorming sessions or they are trying to make up for the TZ99 (South African Sig knockoff), Mosin-Nagant ($100 relic from Asia), and the SVT-40 (privet, comrades!).

The contestants themselves look to be a an interesting group. Pretty much a broad cross-section of the "shooting public" again including the nationally-ranked competition shooters and "average Joe" types (which seem to be holding up much better in the early episodes). The laid-back suthun' boys and hyper Type A micromanagers are back, as are the dude-tactular military guys and the random Joes.

Oh... and this time there are TWO ladies!! Count 'em, TWO!! Or... um... at least there WERE two before the end of the second episode. I was secretly rooting for Maggie over Athena and it looks like I was right. "20 years of USPSA experience" wasn't enough to keep the diminutive Lee from controlling the ubiquitous Tommy Gun better than the Navy rescue swimmer. At least Athena didn't cry after being sent home and the one lady left looks like she can actually shoot.

This week, I can't wait to watch Jay Lim break down on the M1 (probably another gun he knows nothing about) and we'll see if George "The Failboat" Reinas - can step up this week after a poor showing on the handguns through the first couple episodes.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Civilian Triple Nickel Challenge

Every month at the club, we hold an action pistol match and finish it off with a challenge we call the "10-5-1"

10 rounds into five targets
5 seconds
1 reload

Basically, this is a civilian version of the Triple Nickel challenge and several of us are fighting hard to be the first to get his name on the board. Here's the skinny:

From the 5 yard line, engage five separate targets from concealment. You must cleanly hit each target (no "liners" or partial hits) twice in five seconds and perform a reload during this time. Do this three times in observance of the RO at a match, and you get your name on the board. After three matches, the board remains empty...

My last good run and the closest I've come so far - 5.34 seconds with 9 hits. The closest shooter yet scored 10 hits in 5.01 seconds and I'm determined to get it.

In Reflection...

After taking a few days to think about the MAJOR range safety violation I felt compelled to directly intervene in, I've come to the following conclusions:

1) I did not overreact to the situation, and yet I still feel like the ***hole for calling a fellow shooter out for a massive breach of range etiquette

2) Gun ownership does not equate to shooting experience

3) We absolutely cannot allow ourselves or those we know to become complacent at the range

Mrs. Normal and I joined a private indoor club to get away from the heathen masses with little to no education or experience in safe firearms use. Every session, we strictly follow the cardinal rules for firearms handling as well as clearly-defined range safety rules because we know we can't afford to slip - even once.

When I worked full-time as a range safety officer and instructor, I strove to always act in a professional manner, project confidence and authority, and demonstrate expert range safety skills at all times when on deck. I took that job seriously.

It amazes me to this day how many people bring their sloppy "goin' to the mountains to do a little shootin'" mentality indoors and how upset they get when they're called on lifelong bad habits or freshly-minted poor behavior when handing guns.

These are just a few examples of errant stupidity both when an RO is watching and when ignorant shooters don't think we are:

** One of the benches at our club bears the evidence of sloppy trigger discipline, a clean little 9mm hole punched straight through the board. Thankfully, that particular round went downrange after skipping off the floor about 5 feet ahead of the firing line.

** After exiting the range, a member removed a suppressed Walther P22 from its case at our counter with the intent of explaining a problem he was having with his "can," swept the muzzle across my midsection, and THEN told me "oh, by the way, it's loaded" when handling it.

** During one of my shifts, a member came out to tell me someone was walking around downrange. DOWNRANGE. AT AN INDOOR GUN CLUB. He was visiting the club, shooting an old M1 Garand, and felt it was acceptible for him to crawl under the bench and wander around on his hands and knees picking up brass that had flown forward of the firing line. Seriously.

** Countless times when "expert" shooters who don't need any new training and disdain the Guy in the Red Shirt watching them like a hawk walk off the line with a gun in their hand. Waist level. Muzzle forward. Sometimes they were loaded, sometimes they weren't.

** Countless times when "expert" shooters are showing off - I mean "demonstrating" - their gun knowledge on the line in front of a friend or a significant other and rotate a loaded gun back toward the stall, cover their hand with a muzzle, or perform GOD KNOWS what kind of manipulations with the finger on the trigger.

And that's just off the top of my head... even when everything goes right, weird things can happen. I've seen a Glock 26 completely lock up with a live round in the chamber and have even had to play amateur CSI to figure out what happened when a shooter's reloaded cartridge "spontaneously" detonated in its box on the bench.

begin rant
Given my time spent as a professional range safety officer, instructor, lifelong shooter, and frequent competitor, I'm ready to back myself up if I feel compelled to address a safety issue bad enough for me to have to physically go "hands-on." I'm not a poseur, I'm not tacti-cool, and I'm not an Internet Gun Expert. Coming home from work with the same number of organs, orifices, and appendages was my everyday life and I know what I'm talking about.

Hey... wanna try it?

One of my favorite things about going to the range... seeing cool guns, talking about cool guns, and occasionally getting invited to shoot cool guns. Saturday's unexpected treat:

Ruger Blackhawk in .45 Colt
300 grain bullet pushed out at 1150 fps
In a word - OUCH

I'm no slouch behind the trigger, have handled the .454 Casull, .460 S&W, and the artillery-grade .500 S&W, and that damn Ruger hurt like a sonofagun! That said, I may be getting a little wiser in my old age. Instead of running all five cartridges the owner handed to me with an evil grin, I shot four as I've never been a big fan of having the trigger guard slam into my middle finger. This particular pistol had new handmade walnut grips installed... after literally shattering the oversized wood the owner installed to manage the recoil of his "hot" reloads.

Also had the chance to shoot another XD45... and shot it well. Still doesn't change my opinion of XDs, though. They're well-made guns and sell well (I'd rather see a friend buy an XD than a Taurus), just not for me. Glocks are the epitome of simple, durable, and as fail-free as any auto I've owned or shot. M&Ps have it hands-down for ergonomics and quality at the price point.

Stay safe and shoot often.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Range Etiquette... It's Not Nice to Point

As I mentioned, I worked for about six months in one of Colorado's nicest indoor shooting facilities and, during that time, met a ton of wonderful people and shot a ton of wonderful guns. The "Oz Curtain" moment came shortly after I started - the first time a shooter walked out of his stall, turned to talk to a buddy, and flagged not only me the entire firing line (protected, thankfully, by an inch of ballistic glass) and thought nothing of his transgression. How do you react to that? Quickly, at first. Then, once you're in a safe direction with your hand on the gun, you can start to explain why you just moved faster-than-light and you've just pointed someone else's gun in a safe direction for them.

Nothing will screw with a civilian shooter's OODA Loop harder than looking down the barrel of a loaded handgun for the first time... and, when it happens, there's little time for "scuse me, sir..." or "pardon me ma'am" until you've got your hand on the slide and are directing a very confused and nearly pissed-off shooter back into the stall and downrange. After six months of full-time RO, instructor, and range operations work, you'd think you'd evolved into something a little more than human... not because it's the cool thing to do, but because breathing and going home to your wife has ALWAYS been the cool thing to do.

Fast forward one year... I'm no longer wearing a red shirt and carrying a 1911 for fun and profit but I still shoot as much as my new job will afford. I've also never lost sight of those lessons learned as a range officer... the first always being "go home with the same number of orifices you came to work with." So... today... when an acquaintance (call her a social friend I know through the neighborhood) walks off the line with her husband's 1911 in Condition 1 my first reaction is to grab the slide - direct it toward the back wall - an emergency safe direction if needed - and proceeded to let her know that guns leaving the line need to be locked open, the magazine must be removed, and the gun carried muzzle up. After an indignant "it's empty" I realized that in a moment that I'd pissed off someone not likely to remain a friend very long, and that she had absolutely no regard for her fellow shooters on the line.

That may sound harsh, but here's the hard reality, folks. We are responsible not only for ourselves, but for everything our muzzles cover. That includes friends, family members, and strangers when you're walking out of the stall with a gun we can't tell is loaded.

When you walk out of the stall with what has every appearance of being a Condition 1 1911 - IN DIRECT VIOLATION OF SOME OF THE MOST BASIC AND CARDINAL RANGE SAFETY RULES - I'm not going to have a ton of concern for your feelings, regardless of whether or not that gun is empty and you're walking back to put it away. I would much rather try to rebuild a friendship over a cup of coffee and a calm conversation than have you explain to my wife why I have a .45 caliber hole in my gut and a shattered pelvis.

Just because YOU know your gun is empty, the rest of the folks on the firing line don't. Slide forward, magazine in, and hammer back looks an awful lot like a cocked-and-locked handgun and when you're leaving the firing line with it, I AM going to have a short conversation with you about it. Emphasis on the SHORT while I make DAMN SURE you don't have the opportunity to point that burner at me.

Be safe, friends. Enjoy your range sessions, and remember that cardinal rule all of us who've worked "downrange" of the gun owning public take to heart...

Go home every night with the exact same number of limbs, organs, and orifices you clocked in with.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Introductions Are In Order...


I'm just a normal, everyday, gun-lovin' guy... who happened to be lucky enough to work full-time at the range I love, earn my instructor and range officer credentials, and in the meantime meet some amazing people, shoot some amazing guns, and pick up some awesome/scary/hilarious stories along the way.

I still compete at the club level every month, where I do very well. I have aspirations of IDPA and USPSA competition later this year, as soon as I can afford to re-purchase my competition pistol, and love just about every facet of gun ownership and believe in our right to bear arms for true sporting and self-defense purposes.

I can't promise I won't get political from time to time (as it's dang near impossible to talk guns without talking gun rights) but, I promise to keep the politics to a minimum and the gun nuttery to a maximum.

-Armed and Normal.