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Sterling Archer's Training Journal

Discussion in 'Training' started by Sterling Archer, Jun 11, 2016.

  1. Sterling Archer

    Sterling Archer Codename Duchess Supporting Addict

    Aug 30, 2015
    Please forgive the wordiness of this, it was originally written for my blog, Gunpowder Meditation, and then copied here so it explains some things most Addicts already know.

    Training journal launch.
    I like to think I'm a decent shooter and that I'm continually improving, but how do I really know? Being a decent shooter is pretty subjective, I think it's largely dependent upon the shooting crowd you run with (e.g. big fish in a little pond) and unless I'm measuring in some way how do I know if I'm actually getting better? I set out to find a set of standards to measure my skill level with. I wanted to stick with tried and true numbers that respected professionals used, no new age drills.

    After researching for quite a while I've settled on using Gunsite's Cooper Cup as the gold standard. I've compiled all types of drills and qualifications that major trainers use and decided on the Cooper Cup as it has a relatively low round count, varying distances and pushes both speed and accuracy. As I understand it the Cup standards are:

    3 yards, one shot to the head, in 1 second
    7 yards, one shot to the head, in 1.5 seconds
    10 yards, two shots to the body, in 2 seconds
    15 yards, two targets, two shots on target 1, reload, two shots on target 2, to the body, in 6 seconds
    25 yards, two shots to the body, in 4 seconds

    I think most would agree those are solid numbers. So now comes how to use them. I've gone back and forth on the best way to run, and what I'll further refer to as, The Test. I ultimately decided on shooting it cold. There's no doubt that taking The Test at the end of a range session would allow faster times and more accurate hits but it isn't really a true representation of 'on tap' skill. To that end, I'm limiting myself to shooting each string twice. I went back and forth on this as well, real life doesn't give you do-overs but since part of this journal is about gathering information I don't want to limit myself to just one data point per string of fire.

    I've considered picking one pistol, one type of trigger system, one type of safety and specializing in it. I would use it for all my training, competitions and practice to become an expert with it. Which you can make a good case for but that idea really bores me. I carry such a wide variety of pistols (pocket .380s, revolvers, 1911s, Beretta 92/96s, etc) that I need to be proficient across them all. At the beginning of each day I ask myself "what's the biggest gun I can conceal based on how I'm required to be dressed today?" and choose accordingly. For the purposes of The Test I'm choosing my Dan Wesson CCO in .45 Auto (230 gr Fiocchi FMJ) and my Beretta/Wilson 92G Brigadier Tactical in 9mm (124 gr American Eagle FMJ). Which are two quite different pistols.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    The DW CCO is a single stack pistol with a short single action (SA) trigger breaking at 3.75# and a frame mounted thumb and beavertail safety. The 1911 is designed to be carried with a round in the chamber, the hammer cocked, and the thumb safety engaged (pictured above). Which is commonly referred to as "cocked and locked". To fire you grip the pistol to disengage the beavertail safety, click down the thumb safety and press the trigger. When done firing you flip-up the thumb safety and holster.

    In contrast, the 92G Brig Tac is a double stack pistol with a long double action first trigger pull around 7# with resulting shots taking place in single action (DA/SA) with it breaking at 3# 7oz, and a slide mounted decocker. The Beretta is designed to be carried with a round chambered and the hammer down (pictured above). To fire you only need to pull the trigger, the long first pull is because it cocks the hammer. All subsequent shots in single action require only a short trigger pull. When done firing you press down on the decocker which safety drops the hammer and holster.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Why is this important? Muscle memory, to not get too technical about it. Basically, actions we repeat becoming ingrained and we get better and faster at them as we learn to perform them unconsciously. The smaller/finer the action the harder they are to remember and do when under stress. Complicating matters even more by having to different types of firing and safety controls adds even more difficulty. For example, forgetting to disengage the CCO thumb safety in a stressful draw and shoot scenario would leave me pointing a shiny stainless steel paperweight. Embarrassing if on the range with friends but could potentially get you killed in a real life encounter. Many advocate against such things and I won't say differently. Facts are it is simpler to master one type of system you're intimately familiar with. Nevertheless, I'm determined to make it happen.

    First round of The Test begins tomorrow with the Brigadier Tactical taking the spotlight!

    https://gunpowdermeditation.wordpress.com/
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2016
  2. WNC1911

    WNC1911 NRA Life Member

    167
    Dec 30, 2014
    Great post. I look forward to updates regarding The Test. You've got me thinking now of my own shooting skills and evaluative tools. Thanks.
     
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  3. Fred_G

    Fred_G Well-Known Member

    507
    Dec 29, 2015
    Very interesting test. I love shooting my friend's Brig Tac, but had trouble with the DA trigger. I did find shooting a mag or two all DA helped. Muscle memory is key to me, I keep my carry guns simple, no safety stricker fired or 1911 type.

    Looking forward to your results!
     
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  4. Avenger1

    Avenger1 Regular Forces

    629
    Dec 23, 2015
    That is a great idea. I like your thinking. As a matter of fact, we did this at training on Wednesday. Out of the blue, we were told to get on the line. We're gonna shoot drill #6, 2 shots right hand only, 2 shots left hand only in 5 seconds.

    Normally, because it's drill #6, we're usually warmed up a bit from drills 1-5. #6 is arguably the hardest drill, so there you go. We shot it twice.

    First run, I did great - right up to shot 2. I had a brain fart and started transitioning to my left hand before I finished the right hand. That bobble cost me a second, and I went over par with 6 seconds. All hits, though. That's something, anyway.



    The second run was smoother. I made the time, but dropped my last round out of the spine box by 4 inches. It looked prettier than the first run, but throwing that round ruined it.



    So, shooting it cold will make a difference!

    Be sure to get some good GoPro footage!!!
     
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  5. Sterling Archer

    Sterling Archer Codename Duchess Supporting Addict

    Aug 30, 2015
    Good point, I hadn't fully considered that. I should rotate the drill I start with each time so after 5 cycles of Tests I'll have cold and warmer times for each drill. That will provide the best average data plus it'll force me to step outside of my normal box. I can't think of any range visit where I started shooting a pistol at 25 yards under a time limit. While not as statistically likely from a defensive standpoint it seems reasonable to me that a person could engage an active shooter or such at that distance. Thanks for the idea!

    I watched that a few times with YouTube's 1/4 speed and it looked like a smooth run, just the last shot was broke a bit lower that the previous.

    Thanks for the great examples!

    Absolutely I'll be using my GoPro on my side-mount and my cellphone setup recording the target (finger's crossed I don't shoot it! :beatup:) then I'll put it side-by-side in one video. That way I can review the footage and see where each exact round hits with each shot.
     
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  6. Sterling Archer

    Sterling Archer Codename Duchess Supporting Addict

    Aug 30, 2015
    6/12/16 - Baseline with 92G Brigadier Tactical

    You know those range days where everything goes right and you shoot great? Yeah, this wasn't one of those days. I'm embarrassed to post video of it but it happened so here we are. I told someone last week "you learn more from bad range days than good ones" so I'm going to practice what I preach.

    The target's used in The Test are standard IDPA targets. For simplicity of reporting I converted their numbers to zones. -0 is considered an A-hit, -1 is a B-hit, -2 is a C-hit and a self-slap.

    [​IMG]

    I setup the targets, loaded up and shot The Test. I hadn't drawn or dry fired a pistol today so that's about as cold as I can get.



    Refresher on The Test:
    3 yards, one shot to the head, in 1 second
    7 yards, one shot to the head, in 1.5 seconds
    10 yards, two shots to the body, in 2 seconds
    15 yards, two targets, two shots on target 1, reload, two shots on target 2, to the body, in 6 seconds
    25 yards, two shots to the body, in 4 seconds


    Results-
    3 yards
    String 1: 1.25 / A-Hit / .25 over
    String 2: 1.27 / A-Hit / .27 over
    (Some good draw and dry-fire practice should bring this time down. I don't currently practice dry-fire.)

    7 yards
    String 1: 1.58 / A-Hit / .08 over
    String 2: 1.46 / A-Hit / .04 under
    (Not bad but both were only in by around an inch.)

    10 yards
    String 1: 1.95 / 1 A-Hit 1 B-Hit / .05 under
    String 2: NA / 1 A-Hit 1 Miss
    (In my dismay from the miss I forgot to grab the time. Not sure what transpired here but I'm sure the video will tell all.)

    15 yards
    String 1: 5.76 / 1 A-Hit 1 B-Hit / .24 under
    String 2: 5.39 / 1 B-Hit 1 B-Hit / .61 under
    2nd Target: 2 B-Hits 2 C-Hits
    (Need to run a little bit slower to bring those in tighter.)

    25 yards
    String 1: 2.45 / 1 B-Hit 1 C-Hit / 1.55 under
    String 2: 2.46 / 2-Miss / 1.54 under
    (What a mess... I think I was bummed out and distracted because of my hits and just wasn't focused. The only thought in my head when that timer beeped was "GO!" The first string, considering how fast I shot it, is not horrendous but not what is called for. I knew I needed to slow down but once that timer dinged again it was just "GO!" and this time no lucky hits.)

    There's an obvious takeaway: s l o w d o w n . . . Following that nutty performance I shot some of the drills much slower while focusing on form.



    After that I put up some Dot Torture targets and practiced right hand only at 3 yards, left hand only at 3 yards, then finally both hands at 7 yards. Instead of going through the full Dot drill I just shot 5 rounds, give or take, at each dot.



    I spent a total of an hour and 40 minutes at the range and fired 250 rounds. Definitely not my best outing but I'm sure I'll learn a lot from it so I'm not too down on myself. I'll end up going through the videos several times looking for things to improve and will have a better outing next time.

    https://gunpowdermeditation.wordpress.com/
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2016
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  7. Kip

    Kip Sir Kip Esquire Supporting Addict

    Apr 12, 2016
    Liking the mix-up drills,great idea!
    Thanks Sterling,and Avenger too!!
     
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  8. Avenger1

    Avenger1 Regular Forces

    629
    Dec 23, 2015
    Hits over time
     
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  9. Dons1911

    Dons1911 Well-Known Member Supporting Addict

    Nov 6, 2014
    Archer and Avenger, THANKS a ton for posting these vids! I personally not only enjoy them but find them educational as well. Great ranges to shoot at there guys!

    You guys are spot on about slowing down. We had our IDPA club classifier this weekend, and although its a match to classify yourself for what division you should be shooting in, it's still a competition, right? LOL Anyway, one missed head shot dropped me from second place to fourth place, just that fast. Literally, FAST! I knew I was rushing that entire stage, but really had a hard time slowing down, until the next stage. Still a great day at the range with the club, had a great time, learned from my mistakes and still moved up a division in CDP, so there is always progress! Also classified as a Sharpshooter in the BUG division, which I've never competed in! Pretty exited about that.

    Thanks again for the great videos guys! My Session should be here tomorrow!
     
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  10. Avenger1

    Avenger1 Regular Forces

    629
    Dec 23, 2015
    Great shooting! Congrats on moving up. That BUG division seems super challenging.

    Can't wait to see your vids! IDPA can be good training.
     
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  11. Sterling Archer

    Sterling Archer Codename Duchess Supporting Addict

    Aug 30, 2015
    Update
    The side-by-side video has proven very helpful for me. It pointed out my double action shots are dropping low right. Referencing the Pistol Correction Chart for right handed shooters:

    upload_2016-6-13_10-23-55.png

    I've been working on my grip after noticing in previous videos that my pistol was recoiling to the left, signaling I need an increase in support hand grip. I also noticed I was gripping with my dominate hand too tightly. I'm making progress with it but it's hard to fight the "grip the hell out of it" instinct.

    From a steel match last month, notice the tight grip.

    upload_2016-6-13_10-29-47.png

    Yesterday during practice, a slightly more relaxed grip.

    upload_2016-6-13_10-30-19.png

    Main training focus for now is still centered around grip and trigger finger.
    • Increase support hand grip and get good palm contact.
    • Relax dominate hand grip and get a nice straight pull on the trigger.
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2016
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  12. Dons1911

    Dons1911 Well-Known Member Supporting Addict

    Nov 6, 2014
    I tend to squeeze the snot out of my Beretta too. Don't know why, I just have a more natural grip on a 1911. More use, more familiarity probably. I used to shoot my Beretta pretty good, but switched back to a 1911 years ago, pretty much exclusively. I admire those who train across different platforms, much more mental discipline required!
     
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  13. Sterling Archer

    Sterling Archer Codename Duchess Supporting Addict

    Aug 30, 2015
    I'm glad you find them helpful, thanks!

    Congrats on the classification and the CDP promotion! I haven't popped my IDPA cherry yet but it's coming soon. I want to get my grip and such squared away first so I'm not practicing and enforcing bad behaviors in matches.

    Can't wait to see some video!

    I'm anxious to run The Test when my CCO get's back from Derr, I'm much more in-tune with it.
     
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  14. Avenger1

    Avenger1 Regular Forces

    629
    Dec 23, 2015
    I discovered myself doing that with the M9 as well, shooting competition in the military. I attributed it to my small hands on the thick grip - especially on that first DA pull. White knuckle city. Training can overcome it.

    1911 fits my baby hands better. Especially with a short trigger.
     
  15. 1911KY

    1911KY Tres Gunna! Supporting Addict

    Mar 20, 2015
    Good stuff so far SA! Improvement is a constant battle.

    I have been working towards this kind of grip....



    Ever since doing so, my misses tend to be high or low if I do my part on the trigger.

    As of late, my trigger finger placement hasn't been consistent and I have been shooting slightly left. This is something I seem to struggle with, due to the size of my hands. If I get too aggressive with my grip, my trigger finger will graze my left palm, so I have a tendency to be short on the pad.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2016
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  16. Sterling Archer

    Sterling Archer Codename Duchess Supporting Addict

    Aug 30, 2015
    Yep, that's the good stuff! Vogel's video is great, I watch it every so often as a refresher.
     
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  17. Sterling Archer

    Sterling Archer Codename Duchess Supporting Addict

    Aug 30, 2015
    Before The Test I called on my inner John Wick but I think he was out and I got Elmer Fudd instead. :egg:
     
  18. Robert F. Ciancio Jr.

    Robert F. Ciancio Jr. I'm just glad to be here!

    Jun 25, 2014
    Vogel is a stud, but that exaggerated support grip is hard for me to get. I just don't seem to have the flexibility in my wrist to get it to tilt that far forward.
     
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  19. Sterling Archer

    Sterling Archer Codename Duchess Supporting Addict

    Aug 30, 2015
    6/17/16 - Steel practice with the Brig Tac

    With the upcoming steel match on Sunday I wanted to get in a little practice, so Friday afternoon I took a quick trip to the range. I brought 300 rounds with the intention of getting in some good fundamental practice. I'm still focused on improving my support hand grip and relaxing my dominate hand to aid in better trigger control. I wasn't looking to do anything spectacular and set any speed records, just ingrain some good habits.

    Overall I'm happy with how the practice went. I tried to take a solid methodical approach to each shot while maintaining a good pace. The YouTube video attached is a couple of minutes clipped out of just under an hour but they're together in order. The first string in the video is the first I shot that day. As it progresses my speed increases, get's a little too fast and I have to dial it back. I'm particularly proud of myself for that as it's something I struggle with. Hopefully I can carry that into tomorrow's match.



    While watching the video I noticed how visible the front sight was to the camera and took a screenshot. I love it!

    upload_2016-6-18_15-59-20.png
     
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  20. Sterling Archer

    Sterling Archer Codename Duchess Supporting Addict

    Aug 30, 2015
    Dallas Pistol Club - Metal Mania match

    Every time I go shoot at DPC (Dallas Pistol Club) I meet a bunch of really nice people and this time was no different. Considering I've been to 3 matches so far and every time my squad has been made up of people I hadn't met before I'd say they have a really good crowd.

    I don't have much to comment on with the video as I just clipped out the down time, threw a soundtrack on one and while it's been uploading I've been typing. I haven't watched it yet as my computer chugs when viewing high quality video files so I need to upload them to YouTube and view them there. I do know that with 5 stages each having 5 strings of fire with 5 shots it means a perfect match would be shot with 125 rounds, I fired a total of 154.

    Overall though I would say the match went well. Most importantly I had fun. I believe I shot pretty well even with the times I pushed a too hard and things started falling apart. Today I helped keep score so I was paying attention to times, watching the shooter and then comparing how I shot. It really helped reiterate the importance of just "going easy". While visually the other shooters didn't look like they were moving or shooting that fast they put up good times, whereas to reach that same time I felt like I was stomping on the gas. I'm sure some people reading this are already saying "slow is smooth and smooth is fast". While I won't argue with that it's one of those things that wears heavy on my ears, like most overused catchphrases. Nevertheless, the ultimate premise holds true. Huh, I guess I had more to say than I thought. On with the video!

    Can't have metal mania without metal!



    Same video but sans soundtrack, for those that like to hear the steel ding.



    Next Sunday is the harder steel match. Wish me luck!

    https://gunpowdermeditation.wordpress.com/
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2016
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