Tag Archives: Trying Not to Suck

Friday Recap

Well somehow I made it all the way to Friday without posting here. For shame.

I received 1k of 9mm from Freedom Munitions on Monday and got to try it out on Tuesday. So far FM is living up to their reputation for making quality practice ammo at prices that undercut most everyone else. I only went through about 170 rounds but accuracy was good and reliability was 100%. Some credit is also due to the Apex extractor and other parts that were replaced and seem to have fixed the G19’s FTE issues completely. It even passed the 10-8 extractor test where it couldn’t before, FWIW.

I also put some more rounds through the AR and got to stretch the red dot on steel out to ~165m (I paced it off, no rangefinder). While I qualed in OSUT with a CCO out to 300m, I exclusively used ACOGs on M4s once I got to Big Army, except for the M145 when I was a SAW gunner (worst optic ever, BTW). Since that was 4 years ago, I guess it’s been awhile since I’ve done much distance shooting with a red dot. While I was able to make good hits, I think that I need to repaint the steel in a different color since it was somewhat difficult to pick up visually against the mountain/backstop.

I also really need to get a good shot timer so I can reliably gauge my performance on drills like the FAST test. The current crop of iPhone apps I’ve tried can’t seem to pick up all of my shots reliably. Adjusting sensitivity and having a friend hold the phone next to me or placing it on a table at my side made no difference.

I did notice that when trying a variety of other handguns (my buddy’s 1911, FN, and SIG), that they all feel really weird in my hands now. It’s been several months since I’ve shot anything other than some flavor of Glocks, and I guess that muscle memory is having some negative effects as well.

I continue to struggle with pistol marksmanship and gun handling skills more than anything else, and I’m still embarrassing myself with Dot Torture. I attribute this to a lack of serious training with handguns in my youth, followed by a big gap in my experience during my time in the .mil when I hardly shot one at all. The last month and a half with the G19 down for repairs hasn’t helped either. Hopefully I can get out again next week and bring my scores back up.

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Tuesday, Range Day

Enjoying this morning’s cool weather (71 degrees! although it was 81 when I finished), I took the opportunity to drive out and do some shooting in the desert as I’ve been itching to reshoot Dot Torture.

What followed was a comedy of errors:

1) My first attempt resulted in 35/50 from ~3m. It was difficult to diagnose any specific failing over the others, but I was very disappointed with my shooting from the draw using my usual AIWB holster*, especially considering this was something I worked on last week. This was maddening.

2) I used the better part of another box of ammo to work on my draw. From concealment, my splits were hovering around 1.83 seconds. I switched to my Blade-Tech OWB holster and got down to 1.36. Still too slow, as I’d really like to get these numbers down to 1.5 and 1.0, respectfully. Something else that needs more practice…

3) I had previously used the Surefire shot timer on my old iPhone 4S. It never worked very well for me and the entire phone gave up the ghost over the summer. In need of a replacement on short notice, I got an iPhone 5C only to find that the Surefire app is no longer offered in the iTunes store. I downloaded the Innovative Applications shot timer app over the weekend and today was my first time trying it out. Performance was spotty at best, no matter how I tried to dial in the sensitivity. This was not aided by the unusually strong winds (more of a brisk breeze, really, but still sufficient to blow over my target stand in the middle of a string). TANSTAAFL, so I guess I will finally be needing to pick up the real thing.

4) Shooting the drill two more times didn’t lead to any better results, but it did burn up the rest of my ammo. Infuriated, I compounded my errors and shot even worse when I tried again. Looks like I’ll putting in my order with Freedom Munitions sooner rather than later.

5) Upon reaching the 1,100 round mark, my G19 appears to have entered the terminal stages of “late model third generation Glock extractor syndrome.” One FTE in the first 700 rounds, two FTEs in the next 200, and today FIVE more, with four of them being classic stovepipes. In all cases, the ammunition used at the time of the failures has been Federal or American Eagle 115gr FMJ. The gun will be sidelined until I can replace the extractor, ejector and spring loaded bearing. More on PMCS issues in a later post.

6) After picking up my brass and packing away my range bag and target stand, I began to drive away only to find that I had left my shooting table folded up and leaning against the passenger side of my truck. Alerted by the sound of it sliding off the rear quarter panel and hitting the ground, I saw it in my side mirror and was able to stop in time to retrieve it. It was just a little extra kick while I was still mentally down from my performance.

As much as I would like to attend some high volume professional training, I feel like there’s currently just too many things I suck at to get the most out of such an opportunity and justify the cost, both in terms of time and cash outlay. It can be difficult not to feel disheartened about shooting after days like today, but I try to stay upbeat (a day on the range beats a day spent doing most anything else), take away the things I need to work on (re: all of them) and be more diligent with my dry firing routine in order to continue showing improvement.

*I practice on the range with a Dale Fricke Archangel but I carry in an RCS Vanguard 2. I find the VG2 more comfortable for sitting, bending, driving, and other daily activities, but the Archangel allows reholstering and doesn’t risk burning my junk after a long string of fire. Both have roughly the same angle for the draw, so I don’t feel too bad about using different gear to train with, and I still practice dry fire repetitions with my carry setup.

Thursday, Range Day

Phoenix has been having unseasonably cool weather lately (at least when we haven’t been experiencing Biblical flooding from <3″ of rain), which has worked out great for my shooting schedule. I usually drive about half an hour out to the desert on Tuesday or Thursday mornings when I don’t have classes to shoot a couple boxes of ammo and try to work on whatever I suck at (which is most things).

I’ve mostly been shooting steel lately because it’s fun and the immediate feedback is helpful, but it doesn’t stress the same level of accuracy as shooting paper. For reference, my 1/4 scale TacStrike silhouette is roughly 110 square inches. Compare that to the black of a B-8C at 24 square inches and it’s easy to go fast and get away with a crappy trigger press or less than perfect sight alignment and still hear the clang of a hit, even at 25m. Paper is less forgiving, as I was reminded today.

I promised myself that I would start off shooting Dot Torture and I did, cold, with all draws from concealment using my Dale Fricke AIWB holster. Dots #1-4 went alright, only dropping a couple points on #4 (even though these all should have been easy hits). The next row down is when it all went to hell. To see why and learn what I need to work on, take a look at the target below:

I unfortunately threw away my original target out of shame, but I can still get something out of the template. Poor grip and a worse trigger press resulted in dropping three gimmes on dot #5, and contributed to missing several follow up shots on #6-7. On the bright side, I only dropped one on #8 because I forced myself to take time and pay attention to something I don’t normally do (weak hand shooting). But then it was right back to a crap shoot for #9-10. Although my reloads were decent by themselves, I sucked hard at getting back on target afterward and it hurt me.

In the spirit of every AAR I hated sitting through in the Army, here is today’s:

Improves:
1) Work on my grip so the gun isn’t slipping around between shots, which costs first time and then hits when I tried to compensate
2) SHO and WHO shooting
3) Target-to-target transitions

Sustains:
1) Draws were reasonably fast (I didn’t use a shot timer), but still kinda sloppy
2) Reload mechanics were sound and I was able to get the gun back up quick (I just couldn’t hit anything once I did)
3) Slow fire on #1 was one ragged hole, so keep doing whatever I did to get that

Instead of running it again, I decided to work on these for next time and go to the rifle since I wanted to confirm my zero after removing and reinstalling the optic. Even with the stock QRP2 mount I didn’t notice any shift, but then I started getting into it (the way Jeff Gonzalez just described here) and kept shooting ten shot groups until I’d gone through sixty rounds of Prvi XM193.

Finally, I spent another fifty rounds of 9mm split between Bill Drills to the circle and practicing draw-to-first shots on the 3×5″ box of a FAST target. This was a good way to end the day:

Even a mediocre trip like this was pretty fun despite the frustrations involved. Hopefully I’ll have some improvements to show next week.