Thursday, May 21, 2020

Accurate Shooting at Speed

Accurate shooting at speed does not just happen on its own. Learning to shoot fast is harder than simply learning to shoot accurately because by definition you are learning to go faster than you ever have before. As IDPA Distinguished Master Gregg Kratochvil once told me: "If you want to learn to shoot fast — you have to shoot fast." You must teach yourself faster trigger manipulation, to align the sights faster, and control recoil better.

Shooting fast while hitting the target requires a balance between speed and accuracy. Push one to the limits of your skill and you'll necessarily see the other suffer. If you shoot fast, you will miss sometimes, but that is OK because accuracy does catch up with continued practice. Learning to shoot faster means pushing yourself and getting a little (but safely) out of control as you find the limit of your skills — and then pushing beyond those limits just a little.

Steel stages in general, but stages like the Ultimate Five in particular can help improve your trigger preparation, trigger control, and transitions at speed. I have often heard the phrase "slow is smooth and smooth is fast." That never made sense to me and I noticed the typical person uttering the phrase was almost always shooting slowly. We probably say it to make them feel better about being slow.  Most of the time, shooters saying this really do not understanding the underlying principles required to balance speed and accuracy. If you only practice slow, deliberate marksmanship, then the only skill you are developing is — slow, deliberate marksmanship.

In a video from a recent practice session I am shooting the Ultimate Five steel stage with a shotgun. Two runs with birdshot and two runs with buckshot. This is a stage we occasionally shoot during the Alamo Sport Shooting Club steel match and it requires pistol shooters to draw on the buzzer and shoot each target in any order. The stop plate is the last target hit. A typical steel run requires five to six shots assuming no misses.

The fastest I have seen this stage run was with a pistol caliber carbine at 1.95 seconds. The fastest with a pistol was with an Open Class race gun and the shooter fired it in 2.67 seconds from a draw—twice in a row. Likely there are pros who could shoot it faster.

Come out and shoot steel with us on the 1st Sunday of every month at Cedar Ridge Range in San Antonio. 

For more information go to the Alamo Sport Shooting Club website

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Still Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys

Caley Mason attacking Jason Luczkow
Texas: Brian Marksberry witnessed a domestic altercation and attempted to intervene. The suspect began running from the scene of the dispute and Marksberry began chasing him in an effort to aid the police. When Marksberry caught up with the suspect, the man shot and killed him.

Oregon: Jason Luczkow witnessed a woman berating the staff at a Taco Bell and he told her to “zip it.” The woman identified as Caley Mason left the restaurant but returned moments later with a knife and attacked Luczkow causing an 8-inch gash across his face and throat that required 100 stitches.*

We can only guess what Brian Marksberry thought about his actions as he lay dying. When we consider the situations described above (and dozens of others like these) questions arise: Should you get involved in someone else’s problem? As you charge forward do you really know what you’re getting yourself into?

I have written about the saying “Not my circus. Not my monkeys” and how it often fits into our day to day circumstances.** Unless someone is using or attempting to use unlawful force or deadly force directly against you or someone under your direct, personal protection is it worth the potential cost to intervene?

You must answer this question quickly and accurately if you are considering getting involved in someone else’s problem. Your financial future, freedom, and literally your life may depend on this answer.

A license to carry a firearm does not confer a public duty that would require a licensee to get involved in stopping a crime. However, we can all imagine witnessing an attack so monstrous that we just could not stand by and let it continue. A situation involving an active mass killer comes to mind.

If the situation is such that you believe you must intervene before police arrive, think of your own safety first. Can you confront the individual from a position of cover? Are there obstacles between you and the individual that will inhibit him from getting close to you? What if the assailant simply ignores your commands and continues the assault? Are you prepared to deal with these possibilities and the aftermath?

Your decision to get involved and try to stop a crime in progress is entirely up to you. The time to think about these potential scenarios is before you find yourself witnessing an incident unfolding in front of you. You will live the rest of your life (as short as it may be) with the consequences of these decisions. 

If you do get involved and the situation appears ended, do not drop your guard.  The criminal may not believe the situation is over and may return as in the Luczkow/Mason incident.  Maintain situational awareness and make the best decisions that you can based on your training and experience.

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* Investigators said the knife wound was millimeters from potentially severing an artery and possibly killing Luczkow.

** This apparently is a Polish saying (Nie mój cyrk, nie moje malpy) that literally translates to “Not my circus. Not my monkeys.”