General

Dawning of a New Era

I’ve been mulling things over quite a bit for the last few days. I’ve been thinking about the future, my goals, my passions, and what I’ve done here over the last four and a half years. The Everyday Marksman needs a new home, and a new focus.

No, I’m not shutting down.

When I started this journey, it was to serve as more of a diary to keep track of my own progress as a shooter. It slowly evolved over time. A community sprang up, followers joined in, and things were moving along. My love of shooting has not diminished, but my interests have certainly broadened beyond learning a proper sitting position. I’ve enjoyed learning and writing more about the outdoors, fitness, and other pursuits. I’ve thought a lot more about the “why” of it all.

More details will be forthcoming as I get closer to the official launch. In short, I’m treating it like a restart. A lot of the content already here will be migrated over to the new blog and improved upon. Some of it, like my personal range day logs, will stay here. I hope you all join me in the new era, and I can’t wait to put out more details!

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General

Heads Up! MVT Chest Rig is Back

I got notified this morning that MVT has restocked their SOR chest rig. This is a slightly updated version of my MVT 3X Rig that has served me well. It is a very clean and low profile setup that provides a lot of versatility.

Buy it at the MVT Gear Store

The Special Operations Rig (SOR) was designed in collaboration with SOF personnel, specifically to fill the need for a chest rig that will comfortably carry the AN/PRC 152 radio. This capability has resulted in two collapsible side pouches that enhance the rig by allowing the carriage of two radios (one each side), or 2 x 5.56 magazines in each radio pouch, or use the pouches for admin items or leave them collapsed. In addition, the front of the radio pouches have four rows of MOLLE, for the attachment of admin pouches as needed.

These specific design features and capabilities have resulted in a chest rig that is extremely versatile to varying load requirements, and will suit non-military as well as military personnel, whether or not you carry a radio on your gear. It can be used entirely as a standalone chest rig, attached to a plate carrier, or as a hybrid allowing optional attachment to a plate carrier, depending on the tactical situation.

  • Wear the SOR with the supplied H-harness, over a Plate Carrier or standalone.
  • Utilize the supplied PC Kit to attach the SOR directly to your Plate Carrier.
  • Multiple use options, as an assault panel over a PC, or standalone in ‘recon mode.’
  • The SOR is designed to allow the radio pouches to adjust comfortably across your chest, or if worn over a PC, the radio/mags fit into the space beside your front plate.

The Special Operations Rig (SOR) is well designed and crafted, 100% MADE IN USA, giving you the ability to carry four (4) x 5.56 (.223) magazines in easily accessible magazine pouches. Utilizing kydex retention inserts in the magazine pouches gives excellent magazine retention while allowing for lighting fast reloads. You can plus up the rig to 8 magazines, using the collapsible side pouches, as needed.

This rig has some outstanding features:

  • 5.56 (.223) magazine pouches with kydex inserts x 4.
  • The 4 front kydex mag pouches also come with elastic removable retention pull-tabs, to give you more options.
  • Low profile slim fit with the 4 x magazine pouches close to the body.
  • Each magazine pouch is supplied with a Kydex insert which both secures the magazine and allows for fast reloads.
  • 3 rows of MOLLE across the rig for maximum versatility.
  • 4 MOLLE wide side panels for the attachment of additional pouches.
  • 2 x collapsible radio/magazine pouches behind the side panels, specifically designed for the AN/PRC 152 radio / 2 x 5.56 magazines.
  • The side radio  pouches also feature a velcro adjustable bottom panel, which allows for adjustment of the radio fit up or down to operator comfort.
  • Adjustable elastic cord straps on the radio pouch to secure items of various sizes.
  • 4 adjustable points for a “perfect fit” for almost any body type / shape.
  • H-harness design – providing comfort to be worn by itself, or with a backpack.
  • Map / Notebook Pouch on back of rig.
  • Rear velcro patch, with optional cover, to allow the attachment of a sub-load pouch.
  • Antennae loops on the bottom of the rig. By using a flexible antenna extension, you can route the antennae(s) down and under the rig.
  • 500D Cordura.
  • 100% MADE IN THE USA.

KYDEX INSERTS: At MVT, we believe that you need a rig that is quick and easy to insert mags, bump mags, or do a tactical reload. What we wanted was a way of doing it with one hand, allowing you to keep the other on the rifle, scanning. Kydex inserts allow you to remove and insert, one handed, including in low/no light. You can hang upside down without worrying about your mags falling out. They provide pouch rigidity, so it’s easier to reload, without the pouch collapsing around the mag. When worn over the front plate of a PC, the kydex provides a rigid 4 mag shingle, which allows more mag carriage than the usual 3 mags that the front of a PC usually allows.

General

If I Was Starting Over

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I’ve read a recent spate of forum posts about people’s homes being broken into and their firearm collections stolen. Obviously, that is a terrible event and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

But it made me think.

If I was starting over with my collection knowing everything that I know now, what would I focus on? I thought this question tied nicely with my AR-15 guide posts, since those are where I dumped my current understanding of the platform (and continue to be the most popular posts on the blog).

If I was Buying My First AR-15

If I had to start over from scratch, or I was just getting started in the AR world, my first rifle would be a Colt Combat Unit Carbine. It represents nearly everything I recommend for first time buyers, and I would expect it to perform admirably in nearly any role it is pushed to do.

Specs

  • Barrel: 16.1″
  • Capacity: 30+1
  • Finish: Matte Black
  • Receiver: Matte Black
  • Safety: Ambidextrous Safety Selector
  • Stock: Magpul MOE SL Buttstock Collapsible / Folding Stock
  • Magazine: 1 / 30 rd. Magpul PMAG
  • Weight: 6.47 lbs.
  • Rate of Twist: 1-in-7″
  • Sights: No Sights
  • Barrel Length: 16.1
  • Overall Length: 33 to 36.5
  • Features: Mid-Length Gas System/ Lightweight Profile Barrel
  • Handguard: Centurion Arms M-LOK CMR

Sure, I could always build a more specialized rifle with this barrel or that trigger, but this package represents an excellent “do-all” carbine.

If I Was Buying My First Rifle Optic

The first optic I ever purchased was a Trijicon TR24G, one of the better early examples of the 1-4x variable market. It still works well, though I don’t have it sitting on top of anything at the moment.

Having now experimented with red dots, low power variables, and fixed low magnification optics, I definitely have a preference for the fixed low power varieties. That said, if it is a first optic, and one that I’m going to presumably use for a while in a variety of roles, then I’m going to take a variable.

My choice would be the Vortex Razor Gen II-E 1-6x with VMR-2 MRAD reticle.

The illumination is bright enough, the magnification range is good, the optical clarity is fantastic, and it’s proven to be durable. I prefer the MRAD reticle because I can always move the optic to other rifles/platforms and figure out my drop points rather than having to improvise on a preset BDC.

If I Was Buying My First Handgun

The first pistol I ever purchased was a 1911. Specifically, it was a Springfield Black Stainless Loaded model, which was set up more for competition than anything else. I didn’t really know what I was looking for at the time, and 1911s were all the rage on the internet. Technically, I also had a HK USP-9c on loan from my father, which was a much more practical self-defense pistol, but I returned it to him after buying my own pistol. After that was my Beretta 92A1, then FNS-9, and then the CZ P-07.

I prefer hammer fired pistols over striker (call it a safety thing, I like the reassurance that the hammer is not cocked during holstering). I don’t care for cocked and locked carry, or single action only pistols that would otherwise require me to cock the hammer before firing the first shot.

I’m a big fan of my CZ, but I feel like it wouldn’t be a first pistol.

If I was starting over, I would pick up an HK P30L LE model (included night sights) and go master it.

If you just cannot stand DA/SA pistols, then I would pick a Sig P320 Compact. I know it’s not popular right now because of bad press, but the same happened to the Beretta 92 when it was first adopted by the military as the M9. But that’s the bottom line for me, the P320 series is the new official handgun of the US military, which means it is going to have ample aftermarket support and accessories- something nearly everything in my collection lacks.

I’m sure someone will argue that I should recommend a Glock 19, and it’s a fair recommendation. It is a well known quantity, reliable, and has ample support as well. I’ve just never liked shooting Glocks, and this post is about what would pick.

If I Was Buying My First 30 Cal

My first rifle was an M1A, which was awesome for showing off at the range. Then I picked up an M1 Garand from the CMP. Then I got into ARs, then a bolt action, and then I started a 308 AR that I never finished.

If I was doing it all over again, I would get a SCAR 17s and be done with it.

Yes, it costs more. But when I factor in all the money I spent on the M1A ($1700ish to buy it, then nearly another $1000 for the stock it sits in), and then the bolt action, and what it would cost to build a reliable 308 AR- we are in the same price range as the SCAR. It’s already a proven platform, and doesn’t require a lot of tinkering.

If I Was Buying My First Set of Load Bearing Gear

This is an odd one. I’m still working on it myself, and I think I’m up to four different platforms myself that are nearly fully equipped. If I was totally starting over, I would make the choice between belt-oriented (old school) and chest rig (new school).

If going with a more traditional belt-oriented method, then I would look at the First-Spear Joker Rig. Again, yes, it is expensive. But it will last you forever, and offers a lot of flexibility. This would be a great “one and done” solution (after you get the pouches, of course).

If I was going more in the direction of chest rigs, I’m a big fan of my MVT Rig, but he doesn’t make them anymore (or really any gear, for that matter). The next best thing is the Mayflower UW Gen IV Rig. Pair that with a decent duty belt with some extra mags and such, and you have a very capable system.

 

 

General

Continuing Education

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My interests are wide and varied. Small arms and marksmanship have long been my number one passion, but that doesn’t mean I don’t take the time to learn about other things. Any given day, I’m reading articles about exercise science, nutrition, photography, history, amateur radio, bushcraft, camping, and others. YouTube, as politically charged as it has gotten, is still a valuable resource for learning.

Max Velocity Tactical has been putting up a series of mini discussions on his YouTube channel that are particularly interesting. While all the videos are worth watching, a recent one on his view of the correct training progression stood out to me. It’s about investing in ourselves to become better.

The Value of Training

I will never argue that learning to shoot better from a professional instructor is a bad thing. Doing so reinforces the fundamentals of marksmanship, safety, and has a variety of benefits. Eventually, though, if you keep taking varieties of Carbine I and II from different schools, you haven’t broadened your horizon.

Even though I’ve only attended one small unit tactics training course, it was enough to show me that the individual weapon skills is really a small part of a larger whole. Gun boards are filled with people bickering over minute details of their weapons. While the difference between that trigger and this one, or that red dot and this one, can be interesting in a philosophical context- it ultimately doesn’t matter all that much. Note, quality still applies here. If the difference between item A and item B is that item A is clearly higher quality and will stand up to abuse while item B is a cheap Chinese knock off, that is a different argument.

I can see value in these discussions for competition shooters who measure win or lose by fractions of a second against their peers, but must of us aren’t competing at that level. If we turn our attention to the defensive use of our weapons, then things like mindset, sound decision making, and fitness levels become much more important.

Attending professional training, especially outside your comfort zone, is how you improve. It shows you your weaknesses, so you can fix them. It gives you ideas of what else you could be doing. It teaches you that winning is a combination of factors, and we mostly focus on the smallest of those.

I’m not saying that individual weapon training should not be performed. On the contrary, it should be part of an overall package of learning. I’m not saying that everyone should go out and pretend they are Rangers, either. But, I do firmly believe that anyone who takes the defensive use of small arms seriously should spend some time rounding out their skill set with actual tactics, techniques, and procedures.

More Knowledge

Did you know there is a curve of performance and how it relates to your heart rate? There is a window, between 115 and 145 beats per minute where fine motor skills and problem solving are at their best. Coincidentally, this same range is roughly what we could consider the Aerobic metabolic range, where the body is most adept at mobilizing fat stores to provide steady energy. Exceeding that curve into the anaerobic state induces all kinds of effects, such as reduced fine and complex motor dexterity, reduced marksmanship, reduced cognitive processing, reduced peripheral vision, reduced depth perception, and others. Knowing this, you start to get a picture of how important fitness becomes. Granted, Grossman is referring to psychologically induced stress more than physical fitness, but I find the correlation notable. If your heart rate shoots past the 140s on a casual walk, what are you going to do under actual stress? Running drills up and down the hills at MVT’s West Virginia facility will tech you this.

Have you seen, or done, the quick left-to-right-to-left “scan” after completing a drill? Did you actually scan, peering into the distance, corners, and others areas? Actual training will show you the difference.

Wrap Up

This post was really musing about knowledge. I focused on tactical knowledge in particular, but I want to get across that it is important to always be learning. If we aren’t constantly challenging ourselves to grow, then we stagnate. Do the hard thing and push yourself.

 

Reviews

First Impression: The CZ P-07

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Background

Last year, around January, I was talking about entering the fourth year on this blog. While last year didn’t really go according to plan, for a lot of reasons unrelated to shooting, one of the things I mentioned was my interesting in purchasing a CZ pistol. At the time, I was looking primarily at the P-01 and the P-09.

I ended up not purchasing a pistol at all. In fact, once I left California, the only shooting related stuff I managed to do was finish the Minuteman Rifle, and attend a four day training course at Max Velocity Tactical.

In August of last year, I realized it was time to get my carry permit. The most obvious choice for what to carry was what I already had on hand. The Beretta wasn’t practical to conceal, and my 1911 has had feeding issues for years, that left me with my FNS-9. However, I quickly realized it wasn’t exactly an ideal carry pistol. The grip, with it’s 17 rounds, was ever slightly too long, and the pyramid-shaped grip texture was just a little too rough. I set out to consider my next pistol.

Up until very recently, I always assumed that the pistol I would carry on my load bearing gear for a class would be different than the one I would want to carry inside the waistband while out and about.I’m always willing to reconsider my positions, though. While at the MVT training, my “battle buddy” who I worked with over the course of four days shared a little bit of philosophy with me.

Aaron (not his real name) was a retired prior enlisted USMC Force Recon Lt Col. Since his retirement, he has worked in the private contracting world, in and out of a lot of rough places and bad situations. He takes classes like that one routinely as part of his job, and he was the only one out there for those four days that outshot me in the drills. I suppose having your employer pay for your ammunition and class fees has its perks. As things tend to do, a conversation broke out about gear, and why people made the choices that they did. Aaron was carrying a Sig P320 Compact on his belt throughout the course. I forgot how it came up, but he ended up saying something along the lines of, “Pistols are sidearms that you really don’t want to have to fall back on. If the difference in capability of a full sized and a compact isn’t that much, then it just makes more sense to carry the compact all the time.”

I suddenly felt a little sheepish about the Beretta 92A1 hanging off my belt.

In any case, that was a long way to say that I’ve come to believe in the idea of the “one” pistol. It’s the pistol that you carry concealed, carry openly on your gear, compete with, and practice with.

The Decision

Had I asked the internet about what to buy for my “one pistol,” the answer would have been a Glock 19. To be fair, it’s not a terrible answer. The Glock is reliable, has a track record, and is used for exactly this purpose all around the world. However, I chose not to go that route for two reasons. First, I’ve never really warmed up to Glocks. The grip angle, trigger feel, and other elements were things that I just never enjoyed. Sure, I could get past it if I needed to, but I just didn’t want to. Second, I wanted a hammer fired gun in DA/SA. It’s just a personal preference.

That second requirement ruled out a lot of common options like the P-320, VP9, PPQ, M&P, and others (the APX certainly has my attention, but there is no compact version yet). The remaining options came down to the HK P30, HK P2000, FN FNX-9, Beretta PX4, and three choices from CZ: the P-07, P-01, and 75D PCR. I ruled out the FNX because it is pretty much identical to what I was already carrying, save for being DA/SA, and I would have the same issues with its grip size and texture. The PX4 didn’t come in until later as a dark horse. It has a great reputation as a carry weapon, but I’m not confident in its rotating barrel configuration. I’ve heard stories (granted…they are internet stories) of it having jamming issues, and it wouldn’t work if I ever get a 9mm suppressor down the line. The HKs are…well…HK. Fantastic reputations for reliability, but not so great for tunability. The CZs all have great reputations for tunability, accuracy, and reliability (though not as much as HK). I couldn’t find the P-01 or PCR in stock anywhere.

I would have been willing to wait on them, but my local range happened to have a P-07 available for rent. I checked it out for an hour, and just found it immensely shootable. The double action was light and smooth, and the single action was crisp and predictable. Once I happened to come across a great deal on one, I was sold.

The CZ P-07

The P-07 is CZ’s second generation of its compact polymer DA/SA model. The first was the P-07 Duty, which was released in 2009. It was meant to be CZ’s entry into the polymer-framed pistol market, and included a few new mechanisms that the prior CZ 75 models lacked, like the ability for the end user to swap between a decocker or safety for cocked and locked carry. The first generation was well received, but wasn’t without its growing pains. CZ took the lessons from the P-07 duty and built them into it’s full-sized brother, the P-09. Those changes included swappable backstraps on the grip, revised frame construction and material, and a few mechanical changes. The P-09 was an immediate hit, and CZ went back to update the compact version to a second generation.

Specs
Chambering: 9mm Luger
Magazine Capacity: 15
Trigger Mech: Omega DA/SA
Sights: Fixed Three-Dot
Barrel: Cold Hammer Forged, 3.75 in
Weight: 27.7 oz
Overall Length: 7.2 in
Height: 5.3 in
Width: 1.46

First Impressions

My P-07 came well packaged in a black hard sided case. It included three backstraps. The small size was already installed. The case also included two 15 round magazines. Interestingly, these appear to be the same magazines used in the CZ P-10c. I looked into it, and it is true that P-10c magazines work just fine in the P-07, but mags designed for the P-07 do not work in the P-10c. I would guess that CZ will phase out the dedicated P-07 magazine in favor of the more universal option.

There is, of course, the included manual and warranty cards. There is also a printout showing the target impacts used when zeroing the sights.

I excitedly pulled the pistol out of the case, cleared it, and set of testing the trigger. It did not feel at all like the one I rented two weeks  before. The double action was heavier, with lots of grit. The single action, while light enough, did not feel as distinct as the one I rented. It felt a little more like a rolling break than a distinct wall like I’ve come to expect from my Beretta.

This wasn’t really a surprise. I did my homework ahead of time, and already knew that it takes a few hundred rounds to “wear in” the stamped steel components of the CZ trigger. Parts and smithing services are available that dramatically improve the feel of the trigger, and they are less than half the cost of sending my Beretta off to Wilson Combat.

Putting those concerns aside, I mounted my MantisX to the pic rail and started squeezing off shots in dry fire mode. The MantisX, if you don’t know, use accelerometers to measure movement of the pistol before, during, and after the trigger squeeze and then provides feedback. It’s a useful training tool when I can’t be at a range to see an actual score on paper. To my surprise, I was averaging 94 points on each trigger pull- including double action. That was out of the box. To compare, that is about the same average I generate in single action on my Beretta that I’ve been shooting for years. My double action scores hover around 90.

In short, despite the my initial impressions on the trigger, my actual performance with it seems to be pretty darn good.

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Trace data from MantisX. The blue line represents the hold. Yellow is the trigger pull. Red is the shot break and recoil. This shot was during dry fire, so there isn’t recoil to speak of.

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One of of the signature features of a CZ is that the slide rides inside of the frame. The legendary accuracy and recoil characteristics of CZs are at least partly attributed to arrangement. Because of this, the P-07’s slide is not very tall at all and doesn’t leave much real estate to grab. To help, CZ has machined very nice serrations both at both the front and rear of the slide. While playing with it, I thought it would be more difficult to manipulate. But, in use, I haven’t had any problems with racking or quickly clearing induced malfunctions.

The frame of the pistol is well stippled. The front feels more like traditional checkering, while the sides feel closer to skateboard grip tape (though not quite as rough…just closer to it). There are also stippled portions above the trigger guard on each side of the frame. I assume these are for resting fingers and finding reference points.

I’ve definitely read some complaints about the grips side panels getting irritating after a long period of carry. However, I don’t know those folks’ backgrounds, or what they expect. From my brief time carrying the P-07, I find it much more comfortable than the aggressive pyramid texture on the FNS-9.

Speaking of carry, I will be toting the P-07 in a Vedder Holsters LightTuck. I have been carrying my FNS in one of their RapidTuck holsters, and find it very well made and comfortable. It seems a lot of good holster makers have popped up in the last few years, Vedder just happens to be my go-to these days.

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The P-07 is not fully ambidextrous. The decocker is, but that’s it. The slide stop/release is only on the left side, and the magazine release is reversible. My FNS is fully ambidextrous, which was a selling point for me at the time, but the more I shot it I realized I didn’t value those features. I usually release the slide with a slingshot maneuver, and I sometimes found that my grip on the firing hand would be dangerously close to pressing the magazine release from the palm side (a common complaint on the compact model, actually).

Before taking it out for a test drive, I swapped out the small grip panel for the medium. I quickly found that this was not the quick and easy job. On some guns with modular back panels, I just have to release the panel by inserting a punch or some other narrow device into a hole that moves a catch out of the way. With the P-07, I have to remove the pin that is holding the mainspring in place (seen at the lower rear corner of the grip in the above photo).

I know from installing a ‘D’ spring in my Beretta that moving those pins are a pain in the behind. It took a bit of cursing, and a couple breaks to go find the spring and cap that had flown across the room, but I got the panel installed. I have zero concerns that the backstrap will go anywhere on this one, though I’m probably a whole less inclined to experiment.

The First 100 Rounds

The first chance I had, I took the P-07 out to the range. It was the same range, and even the same lane, that I had rented one before. I loaded up two 15 round mags and had at it. The first mag was done all single action, the second all double action. The first few shots were right through the 10 ring at 7 yards. To my great surprise, the double action shots were even more accurate on average than my single action shots. While the final target was nothing to write home about, I will say that I have not had this good a start with any other pistol I’ve ever shot. That one little guy up at the top right was from losing focus during a double action shot.

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I then took an Appleseed 100 meter target and stuck it out at 25 yards to see what I could do. It wasn’t impressive by any means, but all shots did land on the target. I then brought it back to 10 yards and finished off the first box of ammo, chewing out the middle of the target in the process.

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I kept the MantisX on during this period to get feedback on my trigger pulls. In short, they were pretty good. I was giving a bit too much finger at first, which was pushing the pistol to the left (you can see it on the left trace below). Once I got that figured out, things started going very well.

I finished off the session by attempting Dot Torture. I’ve never done this particular test before, but I know it is deceptively simple. Each dot requires a different method of fire. The goal is to keep all shots (typically 4-5) within each circle at a given range. Once you can do that, move the target further back. The starting point is 3 yards. I was pretty happy with myself until I hit the weak hand shooting portion. I’m going to need some practice there. I also blew two of the double action shots (one on dot 3, which went low and is touching the top of dot 6, and one on dot 9 which ended up inside of dot 6).

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After getting home from the first hundred shots, I noticed that the trigger has already begun smoothing out. The double action already feels lighter than my D-sprung Beretta, which is about 8-9 lbs. The single action break is still more of a roll than a wall, but it is predictable and I found I didn’t have trouble staging it.

Conclusions

So far, I am very happy with this pistol. I went over 2000 rounds without malfunction on the FNS before I considered it “qualified” to be carried. Whether or not I apply the same standard here remains to be seen. I am aware that the trigger return spring is a known weak point, and folks expect to replace them ever 10,000 trigger pulls. Cajun Gun Works (CGW) makes their own higher quality version that has been reported to be much better, and has gone past 70,000 cycles in some places.

I look forward to seeing what I can do here, but the CZ looks like a winner. I have no intention of picking up another pistol at least until one of two conditions: I learn to master this one to the point of cleaning a dot drill at 10 yards, or I find that the pistol is unreliable.

General

Range Report

It’s been a busy three months since my last post. We bought a home, moved (again), and I recently received a promotion at my job. With all of that going on, shooting and writing just didn’t top the priority list. Sorry about that.

However, I finally did get out to a range again. There is a nice indoor facility only a few miles from our new home, so I might be able to make much more regular trips out there. It is an indoor facility that only goes up to 50 yards, but it is better than nothing. This marks my first time putting any rounds downrange since the MVT class I did back in October.

I had limited time, so I hit the range with a purpose.

First, I finally got the chance to function check the rifle I finished last summer. It shot beautifully as far as function and handling go. I did not get to finish sighting it in or perform any accuracy testing mostly due to my own haste to get to the range. I brought the wrong eye pro, for starters. The tinted lenses combined with the rather dim indoor lighting made seeing the sights quite challenging. On top of that, I did not have the appropriate tool to adjust the Ashley 1/2 MOA front sight. I also had some trouble getting a stable shooting position due to the narrow lane dividers, but it was mostly my own “rust” from not having shot for groups in quite a long time. I did note that the RSO on duty gave me “respect” for slinging up and assuming a proper sitting position on the line, which is probably fairly rare in these parts.

My second purpose was to test out a CZ P-07 that the range had for rent. I’ve been considering purchasing one for about six months. I’ve never had access to a range that I could rent one until now, so it was nice to actually get to shoot it before I commit to purchasing one. I was very satisfied with the one they handed me, and I expect to pick up one of my own soon for both carry and bedside duty.

In all, the 40 minutes I spent on the lane were a welcome return. I was happy to see that was still capable of shooting moderately well (particularly with pistol). I want to make it a more regular trip, seeing as the location is less than 10 minutes from my house.

General

Pistol Standards

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It should come as no surprise that my decision to regularly carry has moved pistol shooting higher in my priorities. I wrote a bit about the subject around two years ago, but my focus has remained steadfastly on rifle shooting for the most part. The reason, frankly, is that I find shooting rifles to be easier, and therefore more fun.

Pistols are more difficult to master and are far more unforgiving of weak fundamentals. Despite that, if bad things were to unexpectedly happen, 90% of the time we will find ourselves reaching for a pistol out of convenience. Be it a carry weapon, or the bedside gun, we owe it to ourselves to be proficient with it.

My trusty Beretta 92A1 has been somewhat retired, and the focus of my practice has been with my FNS-9. It’s not that there was anything wrong with the Beretta. It has functioned flawlessly for seven years, but its large size means that it is not the pistol I carry. Instead, I carry My FNS-9, which has provided flawless function over five or so years and several thousand rounds. The major downside for it when I first bought it was the lack of holster availability. Today, I’m finding that the problem has been remedied by the market.

Standards

It’s no secret that pistol shooting is more challenging. Different schools and agencies have different ideas of standards. The Rogers Shooting School essentially requires the ability to hit an eight inch circle at 20 yards on demand in less than a second. Redback One and Ken Hackthorn use modified IDPA targets and standards and involve drawing from concealment. The FBI’s new standards do the same, but with modified Q targets. There is, of course, NRA Bullseye standards as well.

I suppose, the standard you choose to pursue depends heavily on your needs. For me, those needs are squarely in the defensive. I am particularly interested in Bill Rogers’ methods, though I doubt I could afford (either in dollars or time) to attend his school any time soon. The 8″ circle used in his standards is essentially the same diameter of the “-0″ zone of the IDPA targets used in other schools, and I believe provides a good starting point.

Most pistol training occurs at less than 10 yards. I’m certainly guilty of this for most of my shooting. While I’ve demonstrated the ability to make hits on silhouettes at 100 yards, or pepper poppers at 50, I didn’t exactly apply strict timing standards to those moments. As far as I can tell, there is no downside to practicing quick hits at longer ranges with a pistol. All of the skills needed to make that hit on an 8” plate at 25 yards will translate well to making hits at closer ranges. The opposite is not necessarily true.

There is also the matter of hands. I have nearly always shot with two hands in a modified isosceles stance (arms straight, feet staggered). This is obviously the most stable and contributes to good accuracy. But the reality is that defensive shooting is more than likely going to involve one hand rather than two. The second hand could be carrying something, guiding someone (like my family), or be injured. It make sense to practice with one handed shooting more than I historically have.

So, all of that said, these are my focus areas:

  • Hitting an 8″ circle at 25 yards on demand in less than 1.5 seconds from the ready
  • Hit an 8″ circle at 25 yards on demand in less than 2 seconds from the draw and shooting with both hands
  • Hit an 8″ circle at 25 yards on demands in less than three seconds from concealment using only the strong or weak hand

For training purposes, I could always just grab a batch of 8″ paper plates. But it is difficult to get data off of that. A better route will be NRA B-8 targets, which are 25 yard pistol targets with a 5.5″ black. If I can train to keep them there, then 8″ would be much easier.

All of this presumes I can get adequate range time to practice. Sadly, that has been much more difficult to do since the move. However, indoor pistol ranges are much easier to find that nice outdoor rifle ranges.