Hold my Beer.. I’m Jonesing for more…

The 2018 Georgia State Steel Challenge Championship shot at the Griffin Gun Club, I had the opportunity to shoot with my friend and co-host of the Steel Target Paint Podcast, Jeff Jones.  The Georgia match has been historically the kick off to the Steel Challenge season on the first weekend of February each year until it moved in 2019 to the first weekend in March.  On Saturday morning we started shooting at 8AM and I recall it being around 34 degrees with the promise to make it to 50 degrees in the afternoon.  We were squadded with some familiar faces in Georgia as well as friends from out of state.  This made for a pleasant shooting experience.  When I am having fun and relaxed, I tend to shoot some of my best times.

 

The morning session was well underway and we approached Smoke and Hope.  I shot a solid first string with my JP PCC of 1.73 seconds.  The next string was a 2.54 with 3 make-up shots.  I was able to turn the Dial back for a 1.80, and pushed the 4th string a little with a 1.69 and then finally I knew I needed a good string shot a 1.74 for a stage win in PCCO of 6.96 seconds.  Reflecting on this moment from two years ago puts in perspective how fast the Steel Challenge game has become.  Stage wins on Smoke and Hope at major matches are sub 6.50seconds or high 5 second runs.  Despite all of the change, one thing is still the same.  The human mind has a subconscious way of turning the Targeted Edge (TE) Dial up without us really knowing that the Dial is turning.

 

Let me explain this concept a bit more.  When I am training students, I will tell them to shoot the first string in the box at a Targeted Edge of 85% or TE85.  On a stage like Smoke and Hope this could be 1.80 seconds.  Next, I will ask the shooter to do the same exact thing and shoot a TE85 time.  What ends up happening is 5% of the time people will shoot a slower time of 1.80 seconds because they go into super-cautious mode and turn back the dial to a TE75 or so shooting a 1.98.  However, there is the other 95% of people who will subconsciously turn the TE Dial to TE90 and try to shoot a 1.62 or faster.  The issue is when we don’t lock the Dial in place mentally it has a tendency to move on its own.  The subconscious is usually the culprit.  We have an insatiable need to go and shoot fast at a subconscious level.  I call this the Jones Syndrome.

 

As I was on my fifth string I told my friend behind me to watch this as I shot a 1.74.  My point was I was going to shoot a solid string and my squad mate Jeff thought I was going to try to really burn it down.  It was Jeff’s turn to go to the firing line and shoot his five strings.  I can’t recall the exact times he had, but I do recall some being good and some he had pickups.  As I did on my fifth string, Jeff turned around and looked right at me and yelled “Hold my Beer”.  I was not sure exactly what I was going to watch, but it was going to be exciting.  Jeff was right on the timer with his first shot on the first plate, a shot was fired before I heard the “P” in B-E-E-P.  He was then firing shots faster than I could count.  I don’t think it was more than 10 shots fired because I did not see him reload his gun, but I didn’t see a loaded round as he was asked to ‘show clear’.  He turned around and started laughing as he walked away from the firing line.  Although Jeff shot his last round consciously as fast as he could move the gun, there were a few strings which were progressively faster with some make-up shots.

 

As we shoot fast, some of us never feel as we don’t shoot fast enough and we either consciously turn the dial past our TE100 or subconsciously it drifts past where we would like it to be because we are Jonesing for more.  We have this insatiable craving to shoot faster regardless if we consciously try to control it.  This is why you see some less than ideal runs after you see a great string of fire.  The little person on your shoulder whispers in your ear “you can do better than that” or they say “hold my beer and show them what you have!”  This is the Jones Syndrome.  Something to think about during your next range session.

 

See you out on the range soon!

Steve

There are a lot of lessons in life which are tough…

There are a lot of lessons in life which are tough; winter was one of them.  While growing up in upstate New York the temperature was well into the 30s or below starting in November and ‘shorts’ weather would start in April when it was a balmy 45 degrees!  Needless to say, for a few months it was a winter wonderland.  The small ponds would freeze over and it was always fascinating seeing small woodland creatures inch out on the freshly made ice to make sure they would not fall in by taking the newly formed express path from one side of the pond to the other.

 

I remember back to 1983 with the November release of what has been a must watch movie during the holiday season, A Christmas Story.  During the movie there was a key scene where the main character ‘Flick’ was egg’d on by his so called friends to lick the flagpole.   Afterall, it is in the “How to be a Guy Handbook” you could never turn down a triple dog dare.  So, what did Flick do, anything we would have all done, he licked the flagpole.  You guessed it, his tongue became “thtuck” or commonly referred to as stuck to the flagpole.

 

Being six years old and my older brother was 7 turning 8 at the time, I had a great idea.  I was curious but not sure if what we had seen in the movie was in fact true.  In true ‘growing up’ fashion I issued the infamous triple dog dare challenge to my admirable older brother.  We did not have a flagpole around, but we did have a front porch with a suitable metal door.  I was not a savage so I went in and got some water to clean off a suitable spot on the door because safety was paramount, even before the likes of the coronavirus.  After a lot of hesitation and coaxing, my brother actually licked the door with the tip of his tongue.  I was in complete amazement, his tongue seemed to be in fact stuck to the door.  I of course was inside, because it was cold outside.  I asked my brother if he was okay and all I could hear was “itttssss thtuck’.  I asked again what he said and he said “IITTTTSSSS THTUCKKK”.  I was determined to hear what he said so I decided to open the door, mind you the door opened outside.  I heard a bump and as I opened the door I saw my brother fall into a snow pile by the sidewalk leading to the front door.  He started screaming.. I asked what was wrong and he said look at the door.  I could not believe what I was seeing.  My brother left a small piece of his tongue on the front door and I thought it was so cool.  I had to take out my pocket knife and scrape some off the door to take it inside to look at it under my new microscope I just received for Christmas.

 

As with this experience, there are a lot of experiences which are tough to learn.  Four years ago I approached ELEY to partner as a Rimfire sponsor and they took a wait and see approach.  As the team captain of the Steel Target Paint Shooting Team I completely understand why.  There are a lot of people who get into the sport for a year or two and they are gone. I took me over a year and a half to land my first contract with the world’s best Rimfire Ammunition manufacturer.  It was tough, but well worth the time and effort I put in.  They have mold Olympic gold medals than all of the Rimfire ammunition manufacturers combined.  Their famous for their accuracy, reliability, and overall performance.  I know when I am competing I don’t have to worry if my guns will cycle, I don’t have to worry about if they will go bang when I pull the trigger, nor do I have to worry about the accuracy.

 

With such a great lineage and documented performance, the ammunition does come at a premium until now.  Through the partnership with ELEY I am able to offer ELEY Force (high velocity) and ELEY Contact (standard velocity) for an amazing value at SteveFosterShootingSports.com.  The mission of this website is to bring a value to the shooting community where all competitors can shoot the Rimfire ammunition the best in the world use.  Let’s face it, while some manufactures are ramping up throughput they are sacrificing quality.  You spend a lot of time, money, and effort to be the best competitor you can be.

 

Don’t be like Flick or like my brother, don’t learn a tough lesson at the range, head to SteveFosterShootingSports.com to get your Rimfire Ammunition!

 

See you out on the range soon!

Steve

SF ELEY

The Targeted Edge..

Over the past few years you have heard me talk a lot about the “Edge”.  As a refresher, the “Edge” is 100% of your Shooting Capability.  When you shoot faster and push yourself beyond your capability is when you go over ‘the Edge’. When shooting over the “Edge” your level of accuracy declines because you can’t ‘see what you need to see’ and you start to miss.  Effectively, what this means is you are no longer getting the proper sight picture when you pull the trigger.   A common example for those who shoot Steel Challenge or other repetitive events such as USPSA classifiers, is when you pull the trigger, the gun is not where you expect it to be and you miss.  There is no doubt in my mind you should always see your front sight or dot on every single target on every single stage!

 

As with any speed shooting, there is a very fine line between shooting on the “Edge” and going over the “Edge.” It is easy to push your limits too far and start to miss your intended target.  It is no secret, to score well in speed shooting you have to go “one-for-one”.  This means one shot and one hit for every target. There is a time when you want to shoot over “the edge”; but it is critical to know when to do this. Championships are won simply by knowing when or when not to push past the “Edge” on any given stage.

 

Let’s talk strategy and introduce some new terminology.  When I step up to the firing line during a match or training session, I shoot the first string at 85% of my Edge for that particular division and stage.  Going forward let’s call this Targeted Edge of 85% or TE85 for short.  This means I need to understand where my Edge is for every division and every stage.  A great place to start is to look up your classification on scsa.org and look at the desired division and stage.  For the purpose of this example I will use a division of PCCO and the Steel Challenge stage Accelerator.  My classification time on this stage is 7.87 seconds with an average string time of 1.97 seconds (rounded) which was set on August 15, 2019.  When training and shooting a match, I use the 1.97 as a TE100 or Targeted Edge of 100% of my capability.  What does this mean when I get up to the line to shoot string #1?  My strategy is to shoot a TE85 which is 1.97 * (1+(1-.85) = 2.26 seconds. This allows me to feel comfortable on that stage and know I can go “one for one” and not miss at TE85. On my next string I will Dial it up because I know that I can shoot TE85 on this stage all day long

 

The Dial I mention is the Target Edge Dial where consciously I move between 85% of my Edge to 99% and back to 75% when needed.  To continue the above example, when I shoot a TE85 of 2.26 seconds then I have a decision to make.  Do I play it safe or turn up the Dial?  I turn up the Dial 100% of the time after shooting a TE85 successfully.  I then usually go to TE95 which would land me at a time of 2.07.  If this ‘felt’ in control I would turn the Dial up to TE100 and see if string #3 would land me a time of 1.97.  If this felt in control, my Edge may have shifted based on my training regimen and then I would shoot for a TE110 and see if I could land a 1.77 second string.  At this point, if I connect one-for-one on string #4, I keep the dial at TE110 or TE115 and take a 1.77.  My four best times are 1.77+1.77+1.97+2.07 = 7.58 total stage time and set a new personal best.

 

What gets a lot of us shooters in trouble with scoring well is thinking the TE110 of 1.77, in my example above, is the new TE85 time.  With this misperception, if we start string #1 or #2 at TE110 and miss, we have to make up a shot.  Now, we have the pressure of Dialing things back to a true TE85 and the next strings will be below a TE100. So the total time now will be at least 8.5-9 seconds even if everything is shot clean.

 

As we train, we have to identify what our Edge is on a stage and know when and how to Dial our string times accordingly to score well.  Remember a TE135 string of 1.68 is not repeatable for four strings.  Trust me, I have tried it… over and over.. and over again.  Being a smarter shooter will lead to consistency and your times will fall lower than you ever thought they would be!

 

See you out on the range soon!

Steve

Erosion…

What is seemingly unnoticeable in the moment can leave a lasting impact for years to come.  When I was younger a close friend of mine had a small house on the shore of Lake Ontario in a small town outside of where I grew up.  This camp was approximately 1200 square feet with two bedrooms with enough amenities to enjoy the picturesque sunsets the lake had to offer.  The house was perched on top of a small cliff with an approximately 20 ft drop to the rocky shore.  During the summer nights there is no other place on earth one would want to be, the sounds and visualize stimulation was calming to the most restless days.

 

One day I noticed a small landscape flag in the ground.  I asked what the flag was for and their father told me he was measuring the progression of the erosion of the bank.  At the time, I did not know what erosion was or what it meant.  He then went on to explain the bank was being forced into the water by Mother Nature and soil was being deposited down the shoreline.  In the ten years they had owned the property the edge of the cliff had regressed by 20’.   As I neared the edge of the grass you could see a few different colored flags from the past at various depths below my feet.  It was interesting over the course of a few days the change was not even noticeable.  Even over the course of a month or two the naked eye could not discern any change in the ground. But by having a benchmark with a simple little flag you could see the movement over the course of time.

 

Neighbors up and down the shoreline had frequent discussions about what they could do.  Some banded together to put up expensive stone walls to prevent the earth between their home sites and the lake from fleeting down the cliff.  It was interesting to see that not all neighbors made the investment into their property.  The end result was it slowed the erosion down momentarily, but the soil escaped the side of the walls of their property.  I am not sure how much of a unified front it would have taken, but the actions of a few was not nearly enough.

 

In the next five years the dangerous cliff consumed their house and they were left  standing on the shore feeling helpless and they asked themselves how it could come to this.

 

I share this story because this is what we all have to protect ourselves from, erosion of the Second Amendment.  Just because a minor regulation may seem unnoticeable to you doesn’t mean it is eroding the ground your house is built on.  At first people will say “what is the big deal” and this is exactly what the people on the shoreline said.. until their house too ended up in the lake.

 

Ask yourself what you can do.  At a minimum, help educate those around you who say “what is the big deal”.  If we do not stand united, we will fall.

Steel Challenge … Getting Started..

Steel Challenge is one of the most exciting action shooting sports in the world.  In addition to the competitive nature of the sport, an added bonus is the whole family can come along and get involved for a reasonable amount of money.  The barrier to entry into the sport is fairly low.  Let’s spend a few moments and walk through where to find your first Steel Challenge match and what you will need to participate.

 

The Steel Challenge Shooting Association released a new web page in 2019 at SCSA.org.  In order to find a local match or any of the major matches, go to the website and click “Matches” in the top right hand corner of the website.  From there you will see the below:

Getting Started Steel Challenge

You can click on either “View List” or “View Calendar”. For the purposes of our discussion, click on “View List”.  You will then see a list of all sanctioned level I or what we commonly refer to as “local” Steel Challenge Matches as you can see below.

Getting Started Steel Challenge 2

If you would like more information about a match, go ahead and click on the “Match Name”.  You will find the date, time, Location of the event, contact information for the match director of the match and typically you will see the cost of the match as show below:

Getting Started Steel Challenge 3

You may have heard a lot of people shoot more than one division (or gun) in a match, as a new shooter I recommend shooting one division.  In our example we will need to bring $25 for the Veterans 3 Gun Team 1100 match located at the CMP Talladega Marksmanship Park.

 

Now that I know where I need to go, what do I need to bring?  Let’s start off with the two key essentials.   You may be thinking gun and ammunition, no, not yet, we will get to that in a few moments. You need to bring:

  1. Eye Protection
  2. Hearing Protection

When you arrive to the shooting event, always make sure you have your Eye Protection on before you exit your vehicle.  These events are held at gun ranges with active shooting going on, you only get two eyes let’s be diligent in keeping them.  Next, make sure you have your hearing protection in your hand in case of shooting in the area.  Most times “check in” is at a clubhouse, but every range is different. When shopping for your safety glasses look for a pair that is tested to an ANZI Z87.1 2015 standard.  This means eye protection of a .25” steel ball traveling at 150 FPS.  These can be purchased for as low as $20. When you purchase hearing protection you will want a Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) of at least 25.  With a proper fit, foam ear plugs can offer a NRR of 32.  If shooting larger caliber guns, inner ear and over ear combinations are recommended. For shooting Rimfire, foam ear plugs are a great start and these can be found for as low as $1/pair.

 

Your next question should be, what kind of gun do you need to bring?  I would recommend to bring what you have.  Most outdoors enthusiasts have or know someone with a Ruger 10/22 or 22/45 in the safe or maybe a Glock 17.  If you don’t, email the match director of the Steel Challenge match and ask them if they know of someone in the club who has equipment for you to borrow.  Worst case scenario, you can purchase a Ruger 10/22 or 22/45 Mark IV or similar setup for $300 or less if you shop around.  To start with, I recommend starting from the ‘low-ready’ and not drawing from a holster.  When asking to borrow equipment see if they have 5 magazines to use during your first match.  If you are hooked the way I was, you will want your own equipment and having 5 magazines helps the shooting squads move along quicker.  When you borrow or purchase a gun for the match make sure you have a bag to bring it to and from the firing line in an unloaded and safe condition.  Make sure when the “Make Ready” command is given the muzzle or end of the gun is pointed down range. If shooting a rifle you will need a chamber flag which more than likely will come with the gun, if not a simple zip tie will get your through your first match.

 

The only thing left you need for a match is to make sure you have enough ammunition.  To be on the safe side bring 500 rounds. For Rimfire, you can find ammunition on sale for $.05/round to get started for a total of $25.

 

To recap the costs of getting started if you are able to borrow a gun and magazines is;

  • Eye Protection $20
  • Ear Protection $1
  • Ammunition $25
  • Match Fee $25

Total $71

You should have ammunition to come home and your Eye and Ear protection is reusable if you take care of them.   If you want to purchase a gun I would add ~$300 and a bag for $10 = $310 plus tax.  Most guns come with 2 magazines so you will want to buy 3 more for ~$20 each for $60.  Your own setup will be less than $400 to get started and you can upgrade with time.

 

It may seem a bit daunting, but I recommend reading the Rules of Steel Challenge located here: Steel Challenge Rulebook . You do not need to be an expert, there will be Ranger Officers administrating your squad and they will be able to answer any questions you may have.

 

We all started at the same exact starting point.  Don’t be nervous.  Get to the range, Be Safe, and Have Fun!

 

See you out on the range soon!

Steve

 

New Year’s Resolutions… What Good Are They?…

Did you know 85% of all New Year’s Resolutions don’t make it through the second week of February?  Why don’t we stick to these resolutions?  The problem is the motivation behind the resolution.  You have to have the desire to reach your goal that you have in mind.  If not, these are not resolutions, they are merely things you hope to achieve.  A mentor of mine told me a long time ago in the business world that ‘hope is not a plan’.  So why do we approach the anxiety filled New Year’s Day with hopes and not plans on how to reach them?  If you wanted to reach them, it would be a year round exercise and there is truly nothing special about January First every year.  Your training, ambitions, and goals should not change on one day.  You should refocus your priorities and evaluate your plans while reflecting on what has brought you success in the past.  Finally, as Tony Robbins often talks about, create a Massive Action Plan (MAP) or update your MAP for what you want to achieve.

 

The game of Steel Challenge in getting faster and faster every year.  As I have reflected upon my own performance there is a glaring opportunity in my classification time in Rimfire Rifle Open; Outer Limits.  As someone who has traditionally carried extra weight I know moving from box to box is not going to be my strength, but I can makeup through self-analysis and hard work.  At the time I write this, I have the third fastest classification time in the Rimfire Rifle Open division and my goal is to be #1.  The first place I start with people I work with is stages they are the furthest away from their peak time.  After practicing what I preach, three months ago, I did the same evaluation although I already knew the answer; Outer Limits.  This is where I needed to shift my focus because of the fastest of the fast rifle shooters, this is where I need to make up the most ground.

 

The intent of this article is not to break down all of the secrets of Outer Limits in Rimfire Rifle Open, but it is to share the split times I have on all five shots as a place for you to benchmark yourself.  I feel comfortable shooting Outer limits sub 10 seconds and this has taken a lot of repetition.  In the below video found on youtube I started the camera and ran a string.  I will admit in a match I like to be in the 3.35-3.45 on the first run and dial it up a bit, but I was able to hit a string at 95% of what I believe my current EDGE is.

Outer Limits RFRO Splits

 

Now, what is your MAP going to look like for 2020?

 

See you out on the range soon!

Steve

It’s a struggle every day at the range…The Foster Effect

Years ago somebody gave me the advice that I shoot plenty fast enough, I just needed to focus on my sights more in order to get my hits. Whenever I was shooting I always felt like I was not shooting fast enough. For some reason in the back of my head, if I wasn’t slightly out of control I wasn’t shooting fast. The feeling that I had inside was a rushed and panic feeling. Typically, I would have my sights lined up on the first shot and then as a string of fire progressed I would have more of a target focus than a sight focus.  I was just trying to pull the trigger as fast as I thought I should be instead of actually looking at the sight(s). For some reason, my subconscious kept telling me I had to transition my eyes before I saw the sight of the gun on the target. The truth is, I’ve battled the same sensation every time I get up to the shooting box.  For some reason, it’s taking a very long time to burn this into my subconscious to keep a focus on the sight as I transition the gun from target to target.  Albeit, my pursuit to be better fuels this behavior.

 

At the 2019 world speed shooting championships in Talladega Alabama I arrived at what is arguably the fastest stage in all steel challenge; Smoke and Hope. As I have written about before, I wanted to make sure I got a 85 to 90% of my shooting capability run first. I saw the sight on every single target and it was a 1.68 second run.  Being able to see the sight on every single target as I squeezed the trigger gave me a lot of confidence. Second string I knew that I could pull the trigger just a little bit faster and push my same picture just a little bit faster. The next couple runs were in the low 1.5s and 1.4s. And then on the last one I decided to shoot at 100% of what my capability is and I landed at 1.42 and I saw the sight on every single target.  This lead to a new World Record and the fastest time of the 635 entries on this stage.

 

Over the years I’ve done a lot of self-analysis and testing when it comes to shooting. It is very seldom when I take my eye off of the sight when I’m pulling the trigger that it is any faster than seeing the sight on every single target. 99.9% of the time, seeing the sight on the target as I pull the trigger is faster. During a recent practice session on roundabout it was .15 seconds on average faster per string to actually see the sight. A lot of people say slow is smooth. I completely disagree, slow is just slow.  What you’re focusing on when you’re shooting is what is important.

 

The Foster Effect is the reckless and undisciplined shooting without a proper sight focus I struggle with every single day at the range. Over the course of time, while shooting as well as training others, I have found that I’m not in unfamiliar territory.  It may seem as though this concept is a matter of the chicken or the egg; it is not. It is a matter of cause and effect. My lack of sight focus when I need to have it is the cause, the effect is the sense of panic manifested by my desire to unrealistically surpass my current shooting capability. We all need to take solace in the fact if you do have a proper same picture you’ll end up shooting faster.  Admittedly, there is the rare occasion you hit a ‘one for one’ string ‘point shooting’ a stage.  Unfortunately, there’s no pill to take to fix this. As in changing any other behavior, while at the range we need to consciously work on our sight focus and burn this into our subconscious. This way, the next time we’re at a major match and the pressure is on, we rely back on the perfect sight focus we have engrained in our subconscious through thousands of rounds of practice.

 

When you are practicing in the off-season, don’t just burn rounds down range without a goal.  Have a plan when you practice and write down you want to get out of the session.  My goal is always to shoot a personal best on a stage so when I am at my next match I can replicate the results.  If you shoot a blazing run in practice, this is merely a hint of your capability, but should not be expected at your next match because you have not yet put in the time and effort to make it repeatable.

 

Happy Holidays and see you out on the range soon!

Steve

The Little Unicorn

As I type this post, my oldest daughter Vanessa is sleeping next to me in the Hospital after having major back surgery two days ago.  There is something about times like this that have a way of putting a lot of things into perspective.  As soon as she knew she was going to have surgery her mother and I asked her what she wanted to do.  She said go to the Rimfire Challenge World Championships in Arkansas.  As I discussed on the podcast with Jeff Jones and Heather Martin, it was a great time to see my extended family all across the United States.  Something happened at this match which I took for granted, my daughter met all of these amazing people as well.  She had met a few people from training at my house and a few matches we have gone to together, but this was the first large match of this nature she attended.

 

Vanessa quickly appreciated all of the great people in the shooting sports and she has been to the range a couple of times learning to shoot.  When we returned from the trip, she had a couple of requests to see some people before her surgery.  Her first request was to go out to dinner with the Baker’s; Mike and Elsie.  Bryan Haaker has two of the best Brand Ambassadors in the sport!  They have adopted Vanessa and our family as their own.  They are a loving and caring couple who do so much for the sport, more than people realize.  It is not their style to post all of the great deeds they do on social media, nor is it my place to say, but there are a lot of junior shooters out there who have benefited from their generosity.

 

The weekend prior to her surgery my daughter asked to see some of her newly found friends, the Fox brothers; Seth, Ian, and Brennen.  They have been to our home before with their grandfather Chet Whistle, but became closer at the World Rimfire match.  The timing worked out and we had a range session and a cook out!  It was a brisk 35 degrees outside when we started shooting on Saturday just after 8AM.  No worries, we broke out two of the propane heaters and what was briskly cold outside became mild and enjoyable.  We started off trying newly acquired guns, after all this is what you do at the range!  We then did some training on a Steel Challenge stage.  After a couple thousand empty cases stacking up at our feet we turned to the newly acquired plate rack from GT Targets.  It was at this point a good time at the range turned into a time to remember!

 

We took some of our training tracking forms and we started a friendly competition shooting our CWA Rimfire Pistol Open guns.  You had to shoot either the 1911 platform or the 2011 style grip.  To add a little bit more excitement we went live on facebook to document the shenanigans!  With four of us competing, my daughter was an amazing score keeper who kept us honest.  It wasn’t long before she rocked the plates with my Oreo Blizzard CWA and she did amazing.  We then turned to ‘run what you brung’ round where you could shoot any gun you wanted to.  Some shot RFPO, RFRO, and I brought out my JP GMR 15.  It was an absolute riot!  The friendly banter kept spirits high.  Regardless of skill level, the sound of the ‘Ting’ on the six 8” targets was gratifying.  Just when someone had a ‘good’ run there was always an insatiable need to try to go faster.  It was a good old fashion drag race.

 

After the guns were packed up, we celebrated the day with a cookout.  The boys presented my daughter with unicorn to keep her comfortable on her big day.  When Monday came, the only thing that brought her comfort during one of the most stressful times of her life, was this unassuming unicorn with a small gold horn.

 

Little Unicorn

 

This weekend was not about shooting sub 1.5 second runs, breaking the 60 second barrier, improving first shots, it was about having FUN and taking a few moments away from the stress of life.  Ironically, these are the main reasons why I started to shoot in the first place.  I share this story with you as a reminder to have fun while you are at the range.  Life is way too short not to shoot and have fun!

 

See you out on the range soon!

Steve

Perfect Practice IV

Life has a way of being so busy and often times I stop and think about where the time has gone.  Most of us have a job, family, friends, and a hobby or two.  Making time for shooting and getting better can be a very difficult task.  This is why it is important to have a Perfect Practice.

 

What do I find the secret of success? Having a plan.  This means I have a plan to practice and when I practice it is intentional.  I go to the range and I know what I want to work on.  Two weeks ago, my plan was to spend three practice sessions (~1k rounds in aggregate) and work on my draw with my new Sig Sauer Legion 9MM.  Of course, I had to sneak in the same amount of practice with my new CWA rimfire pistol.  As a rifle shooter who enjoys the pursuant of matching my pistol times with the long guns, it is a lot of work.  Through self-analysis my transitions in Carry Optics are as fast as my rimfire pistols, but my draw is severely lacking.

 

The first thing I did is to find the best Carry Optics holster out on the market which lead me back to the industry dominating Red Hill Tactical.  Below is a picture of my setup; Red Hill Tactical Holster with a  Betsy Ross Flag, Sig Legion topped off with a Vortex Razor 6MOA.  Note, the magwell is take off for Carry Optics.  The fit and finish is on point.  I have found with my Single Stack holster I prefer the Safariland USPSA Kit and the adjustment it offers.  Now, I have the best equipment, time to work on the draw.  After setting up a camera to analyze my draw I noticed I was so tense through my hands when the buzzer went off it was taking a brief moment for them to relax before they would move.  My average draw was 1.45 seconds on Roundabout.  I decided to relax my hands and the results were immediate.  My draw time on Plate #1 dropped to an average of 1.24 seconds.  It was inspiring move from shooting Master Class times to Grand Master times with a small adjustment.

 

 

The reason why I share this example with you is practice is not just putting rounds down range.  You don’t have Hank Haney, or Phil Jackson standing behind you if you are training without a coach.  You have to do some observation and personal reflection to make improvements.  If not, you are just wasting ammunition in the process of trying to reach your goals.  My goal in 2020 in Carry Optics is to bump up from an A class shooter to Master and then Grand Master.  After this training session and shooting a local match last weekend, when the scores update I will move to Master!

 

Make sure before you go to range, you have a goal.  It may be to start your first stage with 4 solid runs and burn down a 5th as you would in a match.  Maybe it is to end practice in this same fashion.  Maybe it is to improve your first shot?  Maybe it is to work on Calling you Shot?  Whatever your goal is, write it down.  Hold yourself accountable.

 

See you out on the range soon!

Steve

Light vs the heavy Part II

Recently, I posted an article which discussed the difference and some benefits of having a light vs. heavy shooting setup.  Having a light gun makes transitions faster and a heavier setup offers stability while shooting targets.  Needless to say, this sparked a lot of thought and great discussion.  The first article focused on Rimfire Rifles and this follow-up installment will involve Rimfire Pistols.

 

It was at the 2019 Rimfire Challenge World Rimfire Championhips where I was able to handle the much anticipated CWA new double stack grip width platform.  The grip is compatible with other time tested 2011 parts and topped off with the CWA slide.  My initial feeling is this setup is going to be great for people who want to transition between double stack guns such as a 2011s commonly found in limited or open in both Steel Challenge and USPSA.  Being able to shoot the same platform and having a familiar feel and grip was going to make training with one gun transferrable to other divisions.

 

Recently, I purchased a Sig Sauer Legion chambered in 9mm.  After touching one for the first time I knew I had to have one.  The grip is tungsten infused so all of the weight was in my hands with a lighter slide.  After the long awaiting phone call came in and I rushed to the gun store to pick up my Legion, it was only when I took it to the range where a sense of confirmation was displayed on the timer.  I have always liked a little bit heavier handgun and my transitions were faster than my 2011 lighter open gun.

 

After some discussion with Chet Whistle, owner of CWA, I wanted a heavier gun but not too heavy with the weight in my hands.  When I saw and shot my new CWA .22 for the first time I knew Chet had nailed exactly what I was looking for.   When shooting the gun for the first time, the sights did not even move.  Transitions were steady and follow-up shot were blistering as fast as I could pull the trigger. The gun weighs in at a precise 41 ounces.  Below is a YouTube link to a slow-motion video of first shots.  A lot of people look at the muzzle of the gun and see there is little movement.  As an open shooter you do not look at the muzzle when shooting, we look through the optic.  In this video you will see a near perfect “return” of the gun.  The optic is in the same exact place every time when the gun returns to battery.  This is why you have seen video and reactions where people are in love with the gun after shooting it for the first time.

 

CWA Double Stack Width Grip Slow Motion

 

The grip is machined out of aluminum.  The grip safety (albeit pinned) is made out of aluminum as well.  The frame, with a 2011 is where the slide rides on the gun, is made out of steel.  Below are a few pictures where weight has been removed from the frame to keep the weight in the back of the gun and allow it to stay fast and flat when shooting. Note, the trigger guard is double undercut to allow your hands to get higher.  I particularly like the recess of the grip at the grip safety.  This allows me to  cant my right wrist more forward to help with recoil management and keep the gun on target.

 

So, what does all of this mean?  I have been shooting an all-aluminum CWA for the past season, so I have done a side by side comparison.  As a person who shoots a lot of Steel Challenge, I have a lot of data on how I shoot these specific stages.  My first test was Speed Option.  I shot 5 strings cold, you don’t have accurate data if you shoot 500 rounds on one stage and take the top five times, and my average was .14 seconds faster on each string.  This is a stage with wide transitions.  The results were promising.  What I did notice, as a shooter, is the gun was right where I expected it to be before I pulled the trigger.  It was stable, flat, and fast.  Next was one of the faster stages, Roundabout.  As outlined above, I performed the same test a few days later.  My roundabout times were .10 seconds faster on average, per string.

 

As I have written about before, we all have shooting tendencies.  One of my tendencies with a handgun is I don’t grip the gun consistently hard when I am shooting.  Each time I get up to the firing line I tell myself to grip the gun and mid-string I seem to loosen my grip from time to time.  With the Legion as well as my new CWA .22 the additional weight helps keep the gun flat and stable to make up for my technique deficiencies.

 

Whether you are one of the fastest pistol shooters in the world or just starting, I would put a CWA in your hands so you can feel and see the difference!  They not only look great, they shoot amazing!  If you would like more information about CWAs products, please reach out to me and I will get you in touch with the right people.

 

See you out on the range soon!

Steve