Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Gun Skul

The second day of the LuckyGunner.com Blogger shoot there were to be classes from Rangemaster.com on Defensive Pistol and Defensive Shotgun.  You could sign up for either or both.  These were to be distilled versions of their 16 hour-two day courses that they normally offer.  Keep in mind that we are all gun bloggers and, in theory, should have extensive knowledge, skills, and abilities on both firearms.

Naturally, I arrived on the short bus.  Keep in mind that I live in Illinois, so I don't get a chance to wear the necessary CCW or Open Carry kit every day.  So, I'm not entirely comfortable with my gear, nor is it "broken in", so I'm already handicapped there.  Then the next problem.  I love the 1911 platform, well because:

However, I have short, squat, fat sausages for fingers, and I have the factory grips on the gun.   LynnAnn Givens, one of Rangemasters' instructors quickly pointed out that I definitely need very thin grips. Which also means that double stack magazine guns are just right out for me.

Anywho, Tom Givens is a great instructor, he combines the lesson with some humor to make the point and message stick.  However, this class was like drinking from a firehose.  He taught it "By The Numbers", but there was so much information, especially about the proper grip, stance and the draw sequence to take in, for someone [adjusts dunce's cap] all at once.  I understood the message, but there just wasn't the time to practice enough to get each step, well not perfect, but right.   Especially me, the guy down at the end of the line with the new and improperly fitted  gear.  It wasn't that I was sweeping my neighbor or the line with my gun, but things like:  I needed to get my hand up higher on the gun. My support hand needed to wrapped tighter on my shooting hand.  My thumbs need to be pointed up.  The mechanics of getting the my body, aka  "The Shooting Platform" setup for the shot.   I sucked.  Badly.

The good news is that both Tom and LynnAnn are good instructors and more importantly, I was a willing student.  I didn't go there with the attitude that "I know everything about it."  But instead wanted to learn.   When LynnAnn corrected my thumbs (for the 12th time), it was always with  the idea of instilling knowledge and developing the right skills. 

The good news is that I now have the knowledge.  And as Tom pointed out, most of this can be practiced at home with a unloaded firearm.   Make sure it's unloaded, and then check it again.  Check one more time just to be sure.   But practice each step, then once you master that step, add the next step.   Do that until your doing all the steps perfectly each time.   It may (in my case will) take some time, but once you got all the steps mastered, then two, or four times a week, practice the complete presentation 20-30+ times.   Studies show that you will develop muscle memory, it becomes automatic, once you do the same task ~3,000 times, the same way.   If you take 5 minutes of practice per session, then in roughly 6 months it will become automatic. 

However, the key is perfect practice.  As I always tell Robert, "Amateurs practice until they do it right, Professionals practice until they can't do it wrong."

There were 27 of us in the first class, so Tom and the rest of the Rangemaster instructors had their hands full running two relay of shooters.  Again, it wasn't that people were being unsafe, it was getting the proper techniques and skills ingrained.  You could tell people who had been to Gun School(s) before.  They had just one small jagged hole in their target.   Mine, however, looked more like a sieve, with a nice "shotgun" style pattern to it.

We did not get a chance to shoot shotguns because the range had to close earlier then was initially planned.  So Rangemaster was kind enough to give us Defensive Pistol 2.0 class.  Again, this was focused on doing the fundamentals correctly and working on reloading.   We shot off many a magazine load of ammo (Again, free and provided by LuckyGunner.com) as we worked on getting the techniques down correctly. 

The second class, Pistol 2.0, after lunch, only had 11 students as the rest wandered over to where KRISS Arms was letting us try out their firearms, along with the few folks who were still there with their full auto toys.   Or if you wanted to shoot what you brought, you could do that as well.

The "Final" was a shoot off between two students.   The course of fire was put two into the circle of an IDPA target at three yards and then knock down a reactive target at 5 yards.  The reactive target  being a rubber/plastic human shaped torso wearing a hooded sweatshirt.  Only way to knock down the reactive was with  a Center of Mass hit.  Hit it anywhere else and it would just stand there and mock you.  Since there was an odd number, I was last.  Jennifer from injennifershead.com had shot earlier and had smoked the other guy.  She was High-Fiveing other people while he was still shooting.  I mean as in not even close, her shot string sounded almost like full auto.  Finally it's my turn to shoot and since I was the odd man out, Tom picked Jennifer for me to shoot against.  Great, let's pick on the slow kid.  How about put a "Kick Me" sign on my back, put me in wheelchair and push me off a cliff.  Not only am I going to lose, but I'm going to get curbstomped.  By a girl.

Step up to the line.  Ready, GO !!  And since G-d takes care of drunks and fools, thus making me doubly qualified, everything that LynnAnn had coached me on came into fruition.  I won going away. 
Jennifer is a great sport.  During the class I got to shoot next to her and her husband, her husband being Michael aka Evylrobot of evylrobot.com.  So I got to personally place an order for a belt and holster for a Ruger LCP with Crimson Trace grips with him.  Score !!

So, if Tom and Lynn Ann can pound pistol skills into my thick skull and make them stick, they definitely have what it takes to teach.  Rangemaster gets the Scout26 seal of approval.  I highly recommend taking classes from them.


  1. You didn't do that badly... Trust me on that! Re the slim grips...
    www.smithandalexander.com, brownells.com, or www.woodgrips.com

  2. You make me sound like a rock star there ;)
    It was a pleasure. I'll get you next time.