Thursday, December 11, 2008

CCW Training Report

Where have you been, solider?

Training, sir!

What kind of training?

ARMY TRAINING, SIR! (props to Bill Murray, Stripes.)

Ok, so I went training on Pearl Harbor day. It was a double class, so it was a full Sunday of Gun Goodness.

The pre-requisite for the CCW class is an NRA Basic Pistol or First Steps. The trainer, CRAIG COLLINS of Maryland Firearm Training Group does a thorough job, I thought, and there were 2 women with me in the class that had never shot a gun before. And this First Steps class was the morning session. I thought this class would be a review, and I wouldn't learn anything, but I did pick up a tip or two. Like a better way to load a revolver. It's harder on a lefty and more natural for a righty, but it's still good system for me. When you flip open the cylinder, stick your middle 2 fingers through the hole the cylinder leaves, and support them under the back strap. Now your thumb can control the cylinder rotation AND press the ejector rod. There is better control that way.

Now Craig Collins is a contractor for a company working in a part of the world between Egypt and India. He's ex-military too. MP it seems. His job is VIP protection related, and he has to carry and use firearms for his job. That's cool enough, but he clearly LOVES teaching people how to shoot. When we went to the range, the ladies were first. One, Erin, was more nervous than the other, Jen, so Jen shot first. She did pretty well for a first timer. The target is a full sized silhouette with a notepaper sized rectangle drawn on the chest with chalk. Most all of Jen's were in the rectangle. I doubt I did as well back on that Navy ship in 1990, at my first pistol shoot. Nervous Erin was even better! The nervous/excited women always seem to shoot like target champions in my experience. She even fell in love with the Glock. That's what they shot. A S&W Model 10 with .38 special, and a Glock 17 in 9mm. Erin even got a spent casing INSIDE her shooting glasses. After a bit of drama for that she went right back to making a big shot-out hole in the middle of the target.

They left, and it was my turn. Craig knew I was a shooter so the .38 was first just to gauge my skill and if we could move on the CCW specific training. I did ok here. Then, the excitement, began.

We brought my Sig for this, though I had the 1911. My holster was the plain-Jane Serpa holster with a little catch release that retains it. This little release would be my curse, though Instructor Craig likes them and uses that type himself. (He's also a bit of a Glock man... won't hold that against him. Heck MBtGE is a Glock man.) My biggest hang up was getting past this little button on the draw.

First is the standard draw. It's a six or seven step exercise that I was already familiar with thanks to Jeff Cooper and similar types. From ready chest you Grab the grip, support hand still on your chest, Present the pistol by rocking your elbow down, forearm parallel to the deck and still close to your side, Slap your support hand into position on the grip, Look by extending your arms into shooting postion by pushing the pistol away from your body, then the sights are there and your can shoot. If you have a 1911 or other type pistol with a safety you have to add "Click" after the Slap where you get that safety off. Great, another thing to slow me down.

After a few practice runs, we went to timing the event. Those little buzzer clocks you see on pistol training videos for shot timing? He used one of those. It is amazing how quickly 2 seconds goes by. He upped it to 2.1 seconds, and if the push button on the holster didn't hold me up I'd beat that time. Sometimes. If you want to beat the clock AND see your front sight you have to have a good grip right from the grab. No time to change it up. And then your support hand has to hit position as though it lived there. And neither grip worked out the way it was supposed to even half the time. LOTS of dryfire practice at home due, to get that grip automatic, to get that holster button release automatic, and to bring the overall time down, is called for. LOTS and lots. Of practice. Also, you better have a decent squeeze for the trigger already in place in your muscle memory, because when you are doing this for real or you are being timed, things are happening fast, and it's not time to THINK about squeezing, you just have to do so. It's hard. Practice is vital.

We progressed through that and did some one handed drills. These targets are set and interview distance. 6 feet for so. One is firing just after the rock forward of your elbow after draw, so NO sighting is possible. When your forearm is parallel to the deck, you fire. If you need to, you can extend from here. It's all pointing. Point shooting. Anathema to Jeff Cooper, in most cases. You done let a bad guy get too close, but you don't get to choose the moment. I did my most 'missing' at this stage where the round hit in a non-center-mass area. Only one sailed over the target's shoulder, and the others would have put a real damper on the bad guy's day. Especially the round in the groin.

There is another drill called the ATM drill. You face the wall with your hands on it. When the buzzer sounds you shoot one handed, full extension, at the target to your side.

So we got the practice out of the way before the actual theory part. All to save a second trip to the range.

Classroom lecture went over shoot/no-shoot, draw/no-draw, and display/no-display situations (short answer, as you'd expect, is very few 'shoot' situations, and unless it's shoot, it's none of the others.). Some legal aspects. The importance of planning trips if you are going to multiple CCW states. Also went over the Cooper style mindset color codes that I have already internalized like the 4-Rules, and a new concept to me: The 4 D's.

The 4 D's are intersting, but I have to find them again. They include Divert, Disable and Destroy, I think, and I'll explain them further when I can locate them. You have to get inside a bad guy's OODA loop. If you have shot a bad guy 6 times and 4 of those bullets exited out the back and the guy is bleeding from 10 holes and is lying there and raises his pistol to point it at you, then YOU DIDN'T SHOOT HIM ENOUGH.

My only regret was not getting MORE range time and maybe try out the 1911, and work on that one specific problem of mine of shooting low and right. Dangit. One other tip I picked up to address that, possibly, is to watch out for the part of my palm where the trigger finger meets the hand. A LOT of movement under that pad when you work the squeeze.

I look forward to doing another more advanced class with this guy after he comes back from overseas work in April. Need to save my pennies for Basic Defensive Pistol. In the meantime: Practice.


Anonymous said...

How much did it all cost?

How much ammo did you use?

How far away was this target?

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

The Basic costs about $150 most everywhere nearby, the CCW class cost $200.

I had 100 rounds of .40, but probably could have used another 50.

The target varied in distance. For qualification it was 8 yards or so. Other times it was 'interview distance'. Otherwise I wouldn't have hit it. Not without sights, and not that fast.

Tam said...

Good job seeking training!

Isn't it fun?

It sounds like you had a good instructor, too. He taught you a classic Gunsite draw.