In about a month I’ll be a student in the Rangemaster Advanced Instructor Course.
Time to prepare.
Really, there’s only so much you can to do prepare. I’ve been through many classes with Tom Givens, and the best thing to do is not psyche yourself out. But that said, I know there are some things I want to do to get myself ready.
First, I’ve been working on a lot of things from a competition standpoint. I need to shift to a defensive standpoint. Really in most respects it’s the same stuff, but there are some differences in how you do things, how you approach things. Plus to also remember that this is Tom’s class and to do things Tom’s way. For example, he will want “ready position” to be a low ready (whereas I normally use a high-compressed ready). So it’s just getting into that mindset.
Second, I know there will be some skills that I’ll want to brush up on as much as I can. Only so much can be done in a month, but every bit helps.
What would those be?
15-25 yard shooting.
One-handed shooting, especially weak-hand.
Of course, “everything” matters, but I’m pretty sure in terms of my weak-points, those are what I need to work on (given what I know that’s coming…).
So with that, today was about shooting from a defensive standpoint. For example, using my carry gear (IWB holster) instead of competition gear. Shooting from concealment instead of open carry. And I wanted to run a bunch of drills as diagnostics to see what’s what.
Started with the “3M Test” (my favorite). Ran it in 7.88 seconds clean. Happy with that. I did look at the draw time, splits, reload, etc. and well, for sure I’m running slower, but it was still pretty solid. I know with time and improvement I’ll break the 7-seconds barrier.
Shot “3 Seconds or Less”. While I generally run this fine, I’ve been experimenting with grip changes on my one-handed shooting, but only in dry fire. This showed me that perhaps those changes didn’t work, or will need more work before I can bank on them. I dropped almost all the one-handed shots. For the rest of the session when I had to do one-handed work I reverted back to my old technique and was fine.
Did the “Rangemaster Instructor” qual. Blew a few things from rushing (e.g. got a bad grip), but very happy with my 15 and 25 yard performance
Then came the (new/2013) FBI qual. Did fine on that, and again happy with my 15/25 yard shooting.
Then I shot a couple drills that I wasn’t planning on, but Karl wanted me to shoot because he’s going to bring them into this weekend’s AT-4 class. One was Ken Hackathorn’s “The Wizard”, which is a very simple drill but sufficiently challenging. The other is LAV’s “The Test”, which is another very simple drill but sufficiently challenging. I had no problems with either drill, but I think they will make a good addition to AT-4 this weekend.
Each of these drills I shot 1 time. They were enough to get me into a mindset, and showed me things I needed.
First, I went slower than I had been — at least when shooting. Buzzer hit and I’d still move quickly to get the gun out of the holster and, from concealment, still broke sub-1.5 second draws many times. But I did find that overall my draws were slower, my splits a little increased. Why? Well, in “gaming mode” sometimes a fast-C is better than a slow-A. But here, it’s 5 seconds (or whatever) for the string — no extra points nor penalty points for using the full 5-seconds, but for sure you lose points if you hit outside the A-Zone. So I eased off the gas pedal a bit so I could ensure A-hits.
But I need to still go a little faster. Basically not as fast as competition stuff, but I feel like I’m settling into “my old habits”. I started to speed up on some of the later COFs, and it was like a middle ground: faster than before, slower than the comp stuff. I’m good with that. I’d rather be semi-fast and have consistent A-zone hits.
Second, I still need to work on mechanics, like reloading… and not flubbing that first shot after the reload.
Third, my distance shooting is better but still needs work.
One thing I haven’t documented but that I’ve been doing is ending my sessions with some group shooting. It’s been super helpful. No time limits, just shooting 5-shot groups from whatever distance.
So well, that’s what the rest of today turned into.
I set up an IPSC target. I put a 3″ “shoot-n-see” dot in the head box (which is 6″ x 6″ square). The goal was to put everything inside the 3″ dot (or better), but for sure everything at least had to be within the 6×6 box.
I started at I think 10 or 15 yards and was sucking, so I moved in closer to 7 yards. Drilled that out just fine. So I moved back to 10. Things were a little wide, then I just kept shooting 5 shot groups until things got tight. Then I’d shoot a little more to ensure I wasn’t lucky, then move back. From 10 I went to 12.5 yards. From 12.5 I went to 15. I ended up staying at 15 for some time. I never got all 5 within the 3″ dot, but I’d get close (e.g. drop 1). Even tho it wasn’t meeting the standard, it’s HUGE improvement. I wanted to keep shooting so that I could learn “what to see”. For sure, even slight movements, slight deviations were enough to throw things off. Heck, it’s a little breezy out today, and I’d even find when the breeze picked up, it would be enough to move the gun and throw things off. Had to be patient.
When I moved back to 25 yards, I changed the goal. I put a 3″ dot in the middle of the 8″ IPDA -0 circle. The goal tho was similar: strive to group in the 3″ dot, but at least within the 8″ circle. What got me here? A few times I tried to “snatch” the shot – because you will move, there will be wobble, and trying to “snatch” the shot as the sight picture goes perfect? That’s a great way to wind up in the -3 zone…. :-\ But when I just let things happen, I actually did pretty well. I’d say never smaller than a 5″ group, but that’s a HUGE improvement over how I’ve been before at 25 yards.
And remember, when I was shooting a few of the drills earlier in the day, I’d be getting A-Zone hits at 25 yards. Probably still a “bad group” (couldn’t tell given all the other prior holes in the target), but at least I was getting in the A-Zone. So yeah, this is happy improvement for me.
I called it after this figuring to just end on the good note and the slower “Zen” moments of everything.
So, back to dry fire. What to work on there?
Continue to work on draws at 15 yards, but 1. from concealment, 2. occasionally work draws at closer distances too so I don’t get myself too locked into always needing an “ideal” sight picture.
Continue to work on reload mechanics, but again from concealment.
Focus on something like a 1″ dot but also just “blank wall” and work on trigger press mechanics and other “group shooting” and trigger-control sorts of things. Small targets, trigger presses, etc. And even try using tiny targets like this and doing draws. Sure it might take me 2 seconds to break the shot, but fine. Just make sure it’s doing all the things right.
That should keep me busy enough for the next few weeks.