Saturday May 7, 2016 was a different day at KR Training. In the morning was the “Pocket Gun Class” and in the afternoon was Skill Builder. I say different because these are two classes we don’t run often, but they are so important.
Why don’t we run them more often? People don’t want to come out for these classes, and we’re honestly mystified as to why.
The Pocket Gun Class is that class for all those little guns that no one admits to carrying yet you all do. The little snub revolver, or the micro semi-auto that you throw in your pocket to run to the mailbox or the grocery story. The smaller gun that you carry because it’s a hot Texas summer and you don’t want to strap on your “heater” with the tank-top and flip-flops attire du jour.
I guess you think that if you can do it with your big gun you can do it with your small gun?
And this class was a perfect example.
Note: don’t take the following as picking on students. It’s more that the results of class were a perfect illustration of the importance of this class. I know from speaking with these student afterwards they were thankful for taking the class because it was exactly the eye-opening “get this sorted out before it’s truly relevant in my life” experience they needed.
Skills may not translate
So you think that all guns are the same? That if you have skill here it will translate over there? That if I can shoot this gun, I’ll be able to shoot that gun just as well?
The closer the two platforms are to each other, the more things will translate. So for instance, if you were shooting a Glock 17 then switched to another Glock 17, chances are you’ll shoot just the same. If you switched to a Glock 19, you’d probably shoot just the same. A 17 and 19 aren’t 100% alike, but close enough that skills will transfer. Switch to a Glock 26 and chances are you’ll shoot pretty close, but there’s more difference between the 26 and the 17 that some issues will creep in.
Now let’s try a more radical difference. We had this in class: a student shooting a snub-nose revolver. So a very small gun (and he had very big, meaty hands), with a long, very-heavy trigger pull. Plus, snubs like this have a different “point of aim” to them. Then he switched to his normal gun: a proper 1911. So this very large frame, a short and sweet trigger pull, and that “natural point of aim” 1911’s are so famed for. You can’t get more different in the two platforms than this, and it manifested itself in the student’s performance. In fact, towards the end of class we shoot the “3 Seconds or Less” drill with the pocket gun, then shoot it again with your normal carry gun, and every student sees marked differences – generally how much better they are with a full-sized gun. Is that because of the gun itself? or because they just don’t practice enough with the small gun? Either way.
There was another difference manifest in this experience. That sudden switching was difficult! Another student was shooting a snub revolver, and I don’t recall what his normal carry was (I think a M&P9), but when he switched from the snub to the normal he was yanking the trigger terribly because he had been used to this long, heavy-trigger and his body was still expecting to have to shoot that way.
With another student, he was working with a Ruger LC9, then switched to his normal which was an M&P9c. The difference was dramatic. He has the skills, he can certainly shoot. But that long, heavy, trigger press on the Ruger he was working so hard to overcome every time that was slapping the trigger to a high degree. Switch back to his M&P and he was shooting great.
So what are some take homes?
To me, this is one reason I gave up on carrying a snub as a back-up gun or even as a “small gun” when I needed a small gun. When the platforms are too different, I don’t find advantage. There’s no question different tools can have different advantages (and disadvantages): there’s certainly things that a snub revolver can do that the smaller semi-autos just cannot. But trying to switch between my primary M&P9 and a S&W 442 as a backup? It just grew to have more problems than benefits. Instead, I opted that when I need a smaller gun, pick something of similar setup: like an M&P Shield.
So that whole Glock 17/19/26/43 setup works really well. You can have the different sizes, and the skill transfer between them is pretty close. You still need to work with the different sizes because it’s not a perfect 1-to-1 transfer, but it’s a LOT better than wider swings like a 1911 to a J-frame.
Another take home? Long, heavy, trigger presses suck. What advantage do you gain from them?
Another? The more the dohickies, the more complicated the machine is to operate, the more you must practice – and ensure you put manipulation of the dohickies into your practice. If it’s too annoying to always manipulate in practice, then that’s a clue.
I particularly enjoyed this instance of class because we had a variety of carry methods. We had fanny packs, appendix holster, pocket carry, a SmartCarry/Thunderwear, ankle rig. There’s all sorts of “non-traditional” methods out there.
Stupid me forgot to bring some of my usuals, like my Maxpedition bag or my ITS Tactical messenger bag.
Bottom line: practice with it.
This is one of those things that you can most certainly do in dry-fire practice — and you should. Work these methods. Work on accessing your gun from them, because generally they are slower methods or methods with a higher chance of fumble.
Case in point: for giggles I carried my NAA Guardian .32 ACP in a pocket holster for this class. The particular shorts I was wearing have very deep pockets and a very wide pocket mouth, but the way the pants then ride the pocket mouth “closes” very tight against the body, which makes drawing a “fist” out of the pocket a little difficult. Every pair of shorts is different (unless you only wear one brand of clothing, I guess). If you are going to pocket carry, make sure every day when you get dressed you do a dozen dry reps drawing from that pocket to make sure it will work (else maybe change shorts, or buy new ones, or get these tailored, etc.).
Blending into the afternoon Skill Builder class, we transition from talking about gear to talking about skills. I don’t always talk gear so much, but so much of what the “small gun” class is about is the gear. But in Skill Builder, it’s all about you. 🙂
We had a good group of students, progressing really well. As a result, Karl went a little “off script” and taught some extra things – you weren’t there, so you missed out on these extra gems. 😉
One take home from me dovetailed well into my own practice from a few days ago: Going Faster.
There’s the old Ball-And-Dummy drill that everyone knows about. Well, Karl uses a variantion from the Rogers School where you set up a magazine: live-dummy 5x. When you shoot you should shoot the live then immediately shoot the dummy. Yes, you know the dummy is there – but it doesn’t matter. See, when you do other flavors of the drill, far too often you start to game it (I was doing this a bunch a few days ago), you start to anticipate, and you do more of a disservice to yourself. With this, believe me: the problems will come out. You will be forced to do better. But the better thing here is to move “at speed” into that second shot. As I watched Karl explain, as I watched the students execute I was like “Man, this is exactly the drill I need right now”. So this will move into my live-fire practice. It will help you get faster, it will help you flinch and slap less.
All in all, a good day. Classes were small, which was a bummer because these are two classes well worth taking. But it wound up benefitting the students because class could run a little faster and we certainly took advantage of that working in extra things where we could.
Weather was great. It’s warming up to Texas summer now – wear sunscreen, drink water, eat well, take care of yourself.
Afterwards, Karl and I spent a little time looking at my M&P Shield. I’m honestly still not 100% sure if it’s a PEBKAC issue or a mechanical issue, and if there’s still actually a problem or not. But given what Karl and I did yesterday we’re both starting to lean towards: no, the gun has been fixed, but this is just the level of accuracy you’re going to get. We did drift the sights a little bit, which helped with a few things. But even shooting Karl’s Shield well… we are starting to lean towards these are just “combat accurate” to use a slight eye-rolling term. Jury’s still out, I still want to do more work with it to really see what’s what and if I’m willing to entrust to this particular gun or not.
But bottom line: I was outside, enjoying a wonderful day, with a good group of people.
Life is good.
To the students: thank you all for coming out and spending your day with us. We’ll see you again soon. 🙂