Hunting season is upon us. Be sure to sight in! The deer rifle that was spot on last year may not be so as of now. Moisture getting into a wooden rifle stock, swelling the wood so that it applies pressure on the barrel…a bump to the scope or the iron sights between last season and now can throw shots of the course of aim…a change in ammo can alter elevation and even windage…there are lots of things which can mess up point of aim/point of impact coordinates.
I was reminded of this some ten days ago in Arkansas, when I was testing a new pistol and teaching a first-level class simultaneously. Using the test gun to teach with seemed like a good idea. I sneaked onto the line with the new 9mm Walther (the PPQ M2, a pretty cool little gun, actually) and put a few shots downrange offhand with 115 grain ammo. It shot where it looked. I figured it would do to demonstrate the qualification course to the class on the last day.
When that day came, I loaded the Walther with 147 grain ammo I grabbed out of the back of my van. All went well until we hit the 15 yard line, and after the first six shots I noticed the group was going way high. I corrected with “Kentucky windage,” holding proportionally low, and finished with a 298 out of 300 possible points. Four of the rising six had gone into the upper part of the eight-inch circle in the center of the IDPA (International Defensive Pistol Association) target, but two had gone just over, costing me one point down apiece.
The deal I make with my students is that I and the staff will demonstrate the course of fire they’re expected to perform, to “model” it so they have a fresh mental image of what is expected of them in the next few minutes, and to “set their internal clock” as to the time frames in which they’ll have to perform the sequences of fire. If they tie my score, they get an autographed dollar bill that says “You tied me at my own game,” and if they beat me, an autographed five dollar bill inscribed, “You beat me at my own game.”
Out of 40 or so shooters, that 298 cost me four five dollar bills and change. It’s more than worth the money to have graduates who can shoot like that. Still, as much as it pleases me to give out the $1 bills, I confess to mixed feelings about the $5s.
In the advanced course that followed, on the first day when that crew of students was watching the mandatory safety film, I slipped out to the range and tested the Walther on a bench rest. Interesting thing: that particular pistol put its shots center at 15 and 25 yards with 115 grain ammo, but sent them way high at both distances with the 147 grain rounds I used in the qual. I should have done that part of the test before the first qualification.
Nobody’s fault but mine: I had not tested that gun with that ammo at “predictable using distance” before shooting it for anything serious.
There’s a lesson there.
The price I paid was cheap compared to losing the winter supply of elk meat because I had sighted in with a different load than the one I took into the hunting field. And a whole lot cheaper than if I had been shooting for survival instead of a “fistful of dollars.”
Learn from my mistake. Get sighted in.
And if you have any experiences in this vein, please post them here, so others may learn in time to prevent poor shot placement.
Am finishing up a third level armed citizen class this week. Second level and higher, we add long guns to the handguns. My own view is that if I can only have one firearm for home defense, I want it to be a handgun for reasons of versatility, but if possible I’d rather have one handgun and one long gun readily available to each person in the household who’s likely to be using deadly force to protect self and family.
I teach the handgun as “infantry,” the long gun as “artillery.” If I have to go mobile, I want a hand free to work communications, illumination, doorknobs, etc. If I have to scoop a little kid and carry same to a safer position, a handgun will be more workable. Same if I have to answer an insistent 3 AM pounding at the door…which might just be a cop, who won’t take it well if I open the door holding a 12-gauge or a .223 rifle. But if the whole family is barricaded in the safe room and criminals are kicking down the door, it’s probably shooting time, and a .223 class autoloading rifle or a fast-firing shotgun gives way more power and hit potential on multiple targets in unforgiving circumstances.
For a very long time, the shotgun has been the traditional choice of long gun for defense inside the house. In recent years, though, .223 rifles such as the AR15 have become hugely popular for this function. In this week’s class, two thirds of the students are using shotguns, and one third, autoloading rifles.
Symposium time: readers, what are your choices of home defense firearms? Handgun, or long gun, or both? And if there’s a long gun in the defense plan, did you choose shotgun, rifle, or both?
And – most important, and most interesting – why did you choose as you did?
We live in times that could raise any American citizen’s blood pressure. The atrocity that occurred today at the Boston Marathon. A whacked-out martinet on the other side of an ocean threatening to nuke our country. No wonder so many of our neighbors are hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst.
I’ve enjoyed Jack Spirko’s free Survival Podcast for some time, and my significant other is a huge fan of his show. Jack recognizes that it ain’t just a “Panic In the Year Zero” apocalypse scenario that justifies being prepared for bad things…it’s life itself that constantly reminds us we need to be so prepared. Whether you live in hurricane country, earthquake country, tornado country, flood country, or wherever, Mother Nature can deliver some nasty large-scale surprises.
In going on six and a half decades on this planet, I’ve learned that really bad things are most likely to happen to people who aren’t prepared for them. From medical emergency to a cutoff of power and food supply to self-defense, preparedness seems to downgrade bad things from “horrible disaster” to “memorable adventure you’d just as soon not have had to go through.”
If you’re not familiar with Spirko’s podcast, check it out. He strikes me as A Thinking Man.
Recently got home from the 2013 Polite Society event, a/k/a National Tactical Conference, in Memphis. A symposium like this allows you to recharge your batteries and remember what you fight for. There were roughly 150 attendees – 25 of them teaching – and damn near all of them were carrying loaded guns the whole time. The name of the conference comes from a Robert Heinlein quote popularized by armsmaster Jeff Cooper: “An armed society is a polite society.” One quick translation of that is, creatures with fangs and claws do not see other creatures with fangs and claws as prey…and unless it’s a mating issue or a turf issue, they generally leave them the hell alone.
There were too many fine presentations to relate here, though each is discussed on an upcoming ProArms podcast that four of our crew who attended were able to record in the car on the way home. Yes, the drive of eleven hours each way was more than worth it for what we got out of the conference. It is not “up” yet, but should be soon; patience appreciated.
Many of the presenters and attendees alike were cops or retired cops. Across the board, there was unanimous agreement that the current trend toward private citizen disarmament was deplorable and wrong-headed. Host Tom Givens, the founder of the program, made a telling point: real-world analysis of violent crime indicates about a one-in-thirty chance that any individual American will face it at some time in his or her life. (Virtually ALL of the presenters had come face to face with it already, one reason they were selected to teach.) Tom pointed out that over the years, sixty or more of his civilian graduates have been involved in lethal force encounters. All but two prevailed and survived. The two who didn’t prevail, died. Not coincidentally, those were the two who were unarmed when it happened. Tom reminded us all of the advice of Jeff Cooper’s acolyte Mark Moritz, a gun-wise attorney: “The first rule of gunfighting is, Have A Gun!”
The eclectic program encompassed emergency first responder trauma care for gunshot wounds, stabs and lacerations, and blunt trauma injury, taught by MDs. It included a veteran psychologist on one side and a homicide investigator on the other delineating how human predators think and act. There was hand-to-hand work, and knife awareness, and recognition of assaultive behavior cues. There was aftermath management: the blocs I taught revolved around lessons learned in some of the more recent homicide trials I’ve been involved in, including one a month ago, all of which were killings done in defense of self and/or others. (And yes, in each case the jury agreed.) The veteran cop who talked about “active shooter” scenarios deplored the fact that this has become the terminology, since human monsters such as those should be considered “active killers” or indeed, “active mass-murderers.” He had been involved in two such incidents himself, both of which ended in the quick death of the monsters as soon as they were confronted with lethal force resistance, and he quite pointedly noted that some of the cases under discussion were ended by armed citizens who saved countless lives.
Time with people who understand the ugly reality of having to stop murderers, is time well spent for those who may have to one day face such murderers.
And “those who may have to one day face such murderers” includes everyone reading this, and indeed, everyone, period.
Thanks to Tom Givens and his team for making this top-tier level of training available to law-abiding private citizens, as well as the many cops who were in attendance. Next year’s program will be held on February 21-23, 2014 in Memphis, and you can get more information from the Rangemaster Website.
The RangeMaster complex in Memphis had room to train 150 good people.
Jon Hodoway gave an excellent lecture on the survival capabilities that can be found in an ordinary smart phone.
Ever heard of SouthNarc? He’s retired from police work now, so I can finally publish his picture…and I’ve long recommended his street-wise training.
Here, I’m briefing the audience on lessons learned from recent homicide trials. On screen is the Ruger .45 used in a self-defense shooting.