Off Range Practice Pays Off

Off Range Practice Pays Off

This is a discussion on Off Range Practice Pays Off within the General Firearm Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; About three years ago, while home on vacation, my cousin set up a little range in his back yard with four targets, a table, a ...

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  1. #1
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    Thumbs up Off Range Practice Pays Off

    About three years ago, while home on vacation, my cousin set up a little range in his back yard with four targets, a table, a chair and a fake wall. It was the first time I ever shot while on the move while finding cover and reloading. I was still new to pistol shooting, shy, and uncertain about my skills.

    I was told I did well though I did experience trouble continuing to move and shoot. My tendency was to stop, shoot, then move.

    Again, that was three years ago, and since then the only shooting I have done has been stationary, at stationary targets. Our range has an IDPA style league but I never got up the nerve to actually join. For some reason, I’m very shy about my shooting and a bit nervous to advance it without an invitation to do so. One of our range instructors has been enticing me to shoot in the league for almost three weeks, but I’ve continued to decline because of my apprehension on how well I would do.

    I know that sounds funny to some. I am a very outgoing person, and shy is the last word some would put in a sentence with my name, but the truth is now out; I’m shy about my shooting.

    BUT, as they say, knowing is half the battle and while I know I’m shy about my shooting I’ve determined to get into more IDPA style shooting leagues and continue my skills into the more non-traditional shooting world.

    So, what better place to start than my own backyard (so-to-speak)? Tonight, I decided I would try my hand at this league.

    This shoot starts on the far right of the range. The shooter faces a target about twenty-two yards away with weapon holstered. Once the target starts moving toward the shooter, the shooter is to draw and fire six rounds into the target as it continues to move forward. Magazine change as shooter moves to a second station to the far left at about fifteen yards and shoots three rounds from the left hand, unsupported at a stationary target, switches hands and shoots three rounds unsupported from the right hand at the same target. Magazine change again as the shooter moves on to a third station in the middle of the range at about ten yards and fires six rounds at a stationary target. Magazine change again as the shooter runs to a fourth station about seven yards away and fires another six rounds into the same stationary target as previously shot. The shoot is timed from the moment the first shot is fired to the moment the last shot is fired. Each “miss” (which is considered to be any round that hits outside of the INNER ring on a standard IDPA style target) adds an automatic five seconds to the shooter’s time.

    Even though I came with the required four magazines, I don’t own a double magazine pouch. I had only one magazine pouch and my pockets, and the built in mag pouch on my Blackhawk out-of-the-waistband holster.

    I was also still unsure as to whether I was actually going to get the gumption up to actually shoot. Either anticipating this, or just not caring, our league director steps out and said, “Well, you got your mags?”

    I said, “Yeah.”

    He said, “Well, what are you waiting for? Get ‘em ready and let’s go.”

    I unloaded all twenty-three rounds of hollow-points I was carrying (why let those magazines go to waist? If I had to carry them anyway, why not load them up with self defense rounds and be ready should they come in handy) and loaded up with FMJs. Because I didn’t have a place for my fourth magazine I just stuck it in my pants pocket and took my place on the firing line.

    As I’m usually on range duty when the league starts I have gotten to know all of the league shooters and they have gotten to know me. I’ve become a bit of a conversation piece, not only because our league director can’t stop bragging that I carry and shoot a .45 but also that I shoot it well (or so he says). The buzz around the range at league time has been whether or not I’ll ever actually show any of the league shooters just how well I can handle the gun I carry and whether I live up to the hype produced by our league director. None of them have seen me shoot, however, so when word trickled down that I was shooting league tonight the range seemed to stand still while everyone took time out to come and watch me shoot.

    The pressure was on and as I took my place on the firing line I felt at least ten pairs of eyes burning a hole in the back of my head. I could feel my heart pounding and though my hands were steady, they tingled in the anticipation of the upcoming shoot.

    I tried to remind myself that slow was smooth, smooth was fast, but when that target started moving, my body took on a life of its own.

    My presentation of my weapon was smooth and clean, and the safety came off with a click before my muzzle even left the holster.

    Six rounds down range and I was moving before the smoke cleared. My magazine was free and I grabbed the spare from my pants pocket. The new one was in before I reached the next station. I slingshot my slide shut on the fresh mag and fired my three off-hand left-handed shots. I would have continued shooting left hand too were it not for the league director yelling “SWITCH HANDS” behind me.

    My three shots right handed were done and the magazine was on the floor by the time my left foot hit the ground. At the next station I fired my six rounds.

    Mag drop, and... Oh crap.

    I reached back for another mag and my hand fell on nothing. I had briefly forgotten that my fourth and final magazine was on my strong side. A second went by before I remembered and before I knew it I was reloaded and putting my final six rounds into the target in front of me.

    The sixth and final shot cost me a good second or two as my gun failed to go entirely into battery. A tap on the back of the slide slammed it home, however, and my final shot found its mark.

    I ran the course in 50 seconds flat and had three “misses” though all three of those were on the paper. My first two were on the moving target. My third was while I was shooting off hand with my left hand. It’s no surprise that my third target had no misses, mostly because it was the kind of shooting I was most accustomed to.

    My final score was 65.

    Our league champion to date followed behind me for my shoot and picked up my magazines for me and after my score was tallied up he congratulated me on a job well done and asked to see me gun. He expressed surprise at such a shoot with a big caliber in a little package, and assured me again that I did a good job.

    The rest of the league continued and things seemed to go back to normal. I checked the scores of the shooters before and after me and was relieved to find I was somewhere in the middle. There were plenty who were shooting better than me but plenty that were shooting worse as well. The scores ranged from 38 to 109 so I felt pretty comfortable with being in the middle.

    My major mistake of the night was my lack of focus on the front sight. My eyes were almost always on the targets and it wasn’t until I was almost finished that I realized I had point-shot the entire course when I should have been focusing on my front sights. I probably wouldn’t have had those misses had I been paying more attention to my sights instead of my targets.

    Other than that, I was very pleased with how much of my off-range practicing took over when the bullets started flying. My drawing was complete and comfortable and I didn’t fumble with my safety at all. My mag changes were clean and fumble-free. My movement was not as fast as I would like but it wasn’t awkward or clumsy. Everything was on but my focus on my sights, but more practice should find that cured in time.

    I can’t wait to do it again, and again, and again, and again.


  2. #2
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    Very good. Practice does make perfect, or nearly so. Keep it up, just remember , shoot with the fighting mindset, not a gaming mindset.
    "In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock." Thomas Jefferson


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  3. #3
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    Exellent.
    Once you get your gear situated your score will improve. With practice you wont even have to think of where your magazines are at and your time will decrease.

    With some more trigger time and practice,practice,practice it wont be long till you are in the upper quarter of scores.
    I would rather stand against the cannons of the wicked than against the prayers of the righteous.


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    Three missses are not bad at all. So, lessons learned? I am guessing having the right equipment is deeply burned in your brain. I am a believer in "Shoot what you carry" so I compete with my regular carry gear. Also, shooting on the move and forcing to do reloads taught you the pros and cons of the gear you have. Analyze & change whatever you think is necessary.
    As for the front sight/target focus dilemma, welcome to the club! You will either concentrate in one or the other but physiology makes it impossible to focus on both specially when adrenaline is pumping. The best I can do is identify target, bring pistol to bear on target, switch focus to front sight, shoot....and I suck at it.
    One drawback about competitive shooting: you'll get bored with static shooting if you are not careful.
    You have to make the shot when fire is smoking, people are screaming, dogs are barking, kids are crying and sirens are coming.
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  5. #5
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    Good job, Lima!...

    Feels good to challenge yourself and do something competetive...
    "I surrounded 'em"- Alvin York

    "They're ain't many troubles that a man can't fix with seven hundred dollars and a thirty ought six"- Jeff Cooper

  6. #6
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    I think my mag change would have been fine were it not for the fact that I had just completed two magazine changes from my weak-side. If all my mags were strong-side I think it would have been fine. If anything the experience taught me to just pick a side and stick with it so that I don't confuse myself.

    Oh well, it was nerve-racking for being the first time I've done anything like this in three years in front of anyone other than just my husband and my cousin, but it was also educational and fun. I'm hoping to get more into it and do more or that kind of shooting.

    But you're right, Rocky, it shouldn't be about gaming, it should be about training for a fight. Last night was pretty much good training as I was nervous and pumped with adrenaline. I hated how blurry everything got though. I felt like I was in a fog and nothing seemed entirely clear. I'm hoping that further training will help me focus better. I think my eyes were trying to take in too much all at once and after awhile they said "screw it" and crapped out to where I was just seeing big blobs instead of seeing anything clear.

    The only CLEAR things I remember is when I "lost" my fourth magazine and actually looked down to find it. I remember seeing my empty pocket and my empty weak-side magazine pouch, and I remember REMEMBERING my strong-side magazine but I never saw it. The moment I remembered it my focus was back in front of me and my hands did the work.

    The second thing I clearly remember is when my gun went out of battery on that very last round. I remember checking my gun for a jam and not seeing one, then pulling back the slide ever so slightly to make sure I didn't miss count my rounds. I saw there was still a round chambered and that my slide just failed to go entirely into battery. I tapped the slide shut and fired the final round.

    Other than that, everything was kind of hazy. I'll fix that as I go along though!

  7. #7
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    Knowing you can perform thru the "haze" is a good thing. Also making up for missed mag change , figuring it out and continuing show a correct mindset to carry on with. Have fun , I'm sure you will improve ind grow with practice.
    "In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock." Thomas Jefferson


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  8. #8
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    Sounds like a good run, congrats!!
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  9. #9
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    Sounds like a good run.

    I don't compete in IDPA but I shoot IDPA matches to practice as close to real world as I can
    “You can sway a thousand men by appealing to their prejudices quicker than you can convince one man by logic.”

    ― Robert A. Heinlein,

  10. #10
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    Sounds like you are doing pretty good if ''somewhere in middle'' of the scores.

    I know these days I cannot beat many of the top shooters but regard most of the deal as me against myself and the score is only of partial interest. Game or not - it does sharpen many aspects and is well worth doing.

    An added pressure does tend to be knowing that several pairs of eyes are on you

    the safety came off with a click before my muzzle even left the holster.
    Is that a few milliseconds early perhaps? Just considering safety aspects. Thinking back to when I was employing a con 1 draw of some 1911 type platform, I think my safety sweep was when gun just clear and on the rise.

    At what point do most folks disengage safety during a draw (on 1911 platform). ?
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  11. #11
    Senior Member Array bzdog's Avatar
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    Hmm...

    A lot of us would be happy to finish without making a total fool of ourselves when starting something like this, never mind finishing mid pack our first time out.

    Good work!

    -john

  12. #12
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    Lima

    Great Job on your first exp with IDPA style shooting. The more you practice the better your scores will be. However don't concentrate too much on beating the clock, good fluid movement, getting shots on target, and enjoying the fellowship should be more important than the clock. At least it's that way for me.

    A few questions about the format you shot though.

    24 rounds is a lot of shooting for one CoF. Was that a singe stage event or were there others as well?

    Additionally, there seemed like a lot of movement as well. 15yds to cover, and another move later on as well?

    Is this usual for the average IDPA event? Where I shoot, most CoFs are about 6-9 rounds on average and tend to be no more than 18. (revolver neutral) and movement seems to be limited to 4-5 yards to cover?

    I am asking because although I am new to the "sport" I have toyed with the idea of "Stage design" and don't want to get slapped down with a set up as detailed in your original post.

    Thanks
    MikeV

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    Is that a few milliseconds early perhaps? Just considering safety aspects. Thinking back to when I was employing a con 1 draw of some 1911 type platform, I think my safety sweep was when gun just clear and on the rise.
    P95Carry - I tend to agree with you, safety off before you have even left the holster opens up the possibility of putting one through your foot. At least for me, I thumb my safety off after I have presented my weapon towards the target. I intentionally do this prior to the extension to the target in case I have to get one off quick in a self-defense situation. Just my .02 worth however!
    "Do not fear those who disagree with you; fear those that do and are too cowardly to admit it" - Napoleon

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by P95Carry View Post
    Is that a few milliseconds early perhaps? Just considering safety aspects. Thinking back to when I was employing a con 1 draw of some 1911 type platform, I think my safety sweep was when gun just clear and on the rise.

    At what point do most folks disengage safety during a draw (on 1911 platform). ?
    Back when I was using a 1911 (The dark ages ) I tried to consistently thumb off the safety as the weapon came "level". That's the best I can explain it.........
    Rick

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  15. #15
    Distinguished Member Array Chooie's Avatar
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    I think safety off as you hit ready and the hands come together is about the right time, but proper trigger finger control and placement means she was still acting safely even if she took the gun off safe a quarter second early.

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