Just a few images from a bit of fun had last weekend.
All images courtesy of Tam
Just a few images from a bit of fun had last weekend.
All images courtesy of Tam
Go check it out.
Only not an AR, but a Kel-Tec PLR-16.
It’s an interesting build concept.
In my last post, we saw the new flash
suppressor enhancer that I acquired. Of course, this meant I needed a gun to put it on, and a flash enhancer needs a short barrel. Rather than build an SBR and pay the fee (and wait 12 months for permission) I decided to build an AR pistol.
This is the result. It features a Sig arm brace, KNS Anti-Rotation pins, and 7.5″ barrel topped off with the SpitzLead flash enhancer. A MagPul BAD Lever and Badger Ordnance charging handle make one-handed operation much easier as well.
I still need to get optics for it however. An EoTech XPS and MagPul flip up BUIS will be added shortly.
of my new muzzle
It’s called the “SpitZlead” and it’s threaded for a standard AR barrel. Now I just need to build a 7″ AR pistol to put it on. Stay tuned.
Jesse Tischauser is a competitor on the 3GN Pro Series who appeared out of nowhere to make a name for himself as a serious contender. When I first met Jesse back in September of 2010 at the TacPro fall 3-gun match I was blown away by his speed, accuracy, and the fluidness of his transitions. We were squadded together at the event, and I could tell even then that he was extremely capable of making some serious waves in 3-gun competitions. Jesse placed second in that event so it was no surprise to me when Stag Arms made the announcement that they had picked him up as a sponsored shooter on the 3-Gun Nation Pro Series.
Like most shooters of his caliber Jesse is a very friendly guy eager to help out people who are new to the sport. When I gave him a call to see if he’d be willing to do an interview he was more than happy to oblige.
What’s your background in shooting? Did you grow up in a hunting or shooting household?
I grew up around shooting, really hunting more-so. My dad was an avid hunter. Heck, I was shooting squirrels with my BB gun before I can remember. My dad also had an FFL (Ed. Federal Firearm Licensed gun dealer). He was a big gun collector. I think, when he passed away here a few years ago, he had probably fifty different Ruger pistols of all different calibers and barrel lengths.
That’s really my background, just growing up with him.
We hunted deer. I grew up in central Wisconsin and everybody up there deer hunts and bird hunts. Growing up in the country, that’s pretty much what I did when I wasn’t in school or mowing the lawn.
Did your father get you started in any shooting competitions?
No, my dad really didn’t do a lot of that. He actually didn’t hunt as much as I would have liked to. I had five brothers and sisters, so money was tight. I can vividly remember arguments between my mother and father about him buying another gun or another knife, or some other thing to fuel his addiction to firearms. He always managed to justify his purchases by buying one of every caliber or color for each of my brothers and I.
Sometimes we never got to shoot them because they were a part of his special collection, or something that was unfired and new in the box. That was the way he justified it to my mom was buying one for Jesse, one for Jeff, Joel, Jim, and so on down the line.
If your father didn’t get you introduced to competitive shooting, how did you get started? What was the first shooting competition you entered?
The first actual scored competition I entered was when I was working in the oil field back in 2001. I was a member of the organization Society of Petroleum Engineers. Here in Oklahoma, being a gun-happy state, they would shoot sporting clay tournaments. It would be a 5-man team and we’d all go out and just have fun. I enjoyed the heck out of that. It was the first time I’d ever shot organized clays or anything. I’d never shot trap or skeet, though I’d done some stuff with my father growing up but we never went to the range and didn’t have the financial means to do so. At least not to go to an actual club and that sort of thing.
So I shot that stuff, we’d do it once or twice a year, and I loved it. I went out and bought a brand new Beretta 391 Tekyns Sporting Gold. That was probably the most expensive gun I’d ever purchased. I went out and practiced and then did the tournaments and eventually got pretty good at it. I didn’t get really serious into it however, between the time and cost.
That same organization had an indoor pistol league, and they called it a “Defensive Pistol League” because it was roughly based off of some guys who had shot IDPA and they were the ones who kinda’ ran it. It was indoors at the H&H gun range in Oklahoma City.
I really got into that. I remember thinking “Wow, this is aweseome!” You get to run around, shoot your gun, move, run some more, shoot some more, reload, and all that good stuff.
I was hooked. I went back to work the first time after doing it and was talking to some guys from Houston that I worked with and they said “Hey, that sounds like IPSC.”
I said, “What the heck is IPSC?”
I got on the internet and Googled it and found out that the Oklahoma City Gun Club was seven miles from my house and that it was one of the larges USPSA clubs in Oklahoma, and probably in North Texas, Kansas and Arkansas. We had at our last monthly match around 110 shooters.
That’s kinda’ where it all started. I think I shot my first USPSA match in early 2009.
That’s not very much time between shooting your first ever USPSA match and making the Pro Series of 3-gun Nation. Did you do any formal training?
Yeah, it’s really not that long at all. I really dove in head first once I got started.
We’ve got the United States Shooting Academy up in Tulsa and there is an organization called TDSA, The Defensive Shooting Academy, also in Tulsa. We’ve got some really good firearm training opportunities here.
Oklahoma is pretty much a hotbed for top competitive shooters. We’ve got USPSA president Phil Strader that lives here. Mike Seeklander was an instructor up at USSA when I first started.
About six months after I started I went and took Mike Seeklander’s class at USSA. It was a competition based class. I had worked my way up to C-class shooter and then took the class and it really took me to the next level. That’s when I learned all the things I was doing wrong and it gave me the foundation to build upon.
After that I took two of Phil Strader’s classes and I went to another local guy who teaches some indoor classes at our little indoor range here. I trained with Max Michel and Kurt Miller here in Oklahoma City. He’s one of the top 3-gun guys. I took his 3-gun class, and his rifle class. I pretty much soaked up as much training here locally as I could get.
You were in the US Army for a number of years where you worked your way up to the rank of Staff Sergeant. Was there any particular training in the military that helped you become a better 3-gun shooter?
Yes and no. The reason I joined the military was because my father was in Vietnam. He was drafted back in the late ’60s. He was a truck driver attached to the 82nd Airborne. Being a gun nut himself, he always had me shooting and taught me the principles of trigger control and all of that good stuff like how to line up sights.
In the Army I never really did any competitive shooting. Part of the reason I joined the Army was because I liked to shoot, and I really thought that it was going to be a lot of shooting. Unfortunately, the military isn’t like that, especially not the fun kind of shooting you get to do at competitive shooting matches. Being in the National Guard you really don’t get to shoot a lot. Most years we’d qualify and that would be the only time we’d touch our guns except for summer camp where we’d do a little scenario type stuff.
Luckily I was in the Army when there was nothing going on in Iraq or Afghanistan so I didn’t have to go do any of that stuff.
No, the military didn’t really influence my competitive shooting. I didn’t even own an AR-15 when I was in the military.
You started out shooting sporting clays, then IDPA and USPSA… At what point did you make the transition over to 3-gun?
It was tough. When I first started shooting USPSA I got on YouTube.com and was looking for videos of some of the top guys to watch their stuff and see some of the big matches around the country and learn a little bit. I think I happened upon Kelly Neal who had a blog that he would write and post his videos from some of the big matches. When you’ve never even shot a match and you see some of those major matches you stop and go “Wow! Look at these cool targets and cool scenarios, the house-clearing CQB type stuff or jumping out of an old helicopter they’ve got set up as a prop.” I thought “I need to do some of this!”
Our local club had done some 3-gun matches in the past. Curt Miller was our 3-gun match director, but they had stopped doing them because there just wasn’t enough interest.
Because of that I didn’t shoot my first 3-gun match until October of 2009. The closest match to me was the state sectional USPSA match that the Old Fort Gun Club in Fort Smith Arkansas put on.
I kinda’ got learned-up on YouTube and on the Brian Enos forums and learned a lot from the guys over there. I went out and shot that match with a lot of rag-tag gear. I remember my scope mount, I don’t remember who made it, but my scope would touch the top rail on my AR-15 and I couldn’t rotate my variable scope ring whatsoever during a stage. It was just terrible.
One of the cool things about that match was that Taran Butler would come out and shoot it because there weren’t that many matches around the country back then. I was squadded-up with him and Rustin Bernskoetter. Rustin started out probably a few months before I did.
I shot with those guys and, watching Taran shoot, I was like “Wow, this is amazing. Look how fast this guy is at just everything,” and even Rustin was really good for what was, I think, only his second match. It kinda’ worked out funny that he and I are shooting the Pro Series now together.
You and I first met when we were squadded together at one of the outlaw matches at TacPro Shooting Center west of Fort Worth, Texas. Outlaw matches like that and the one at Old Fort Gun Club are really where 3-gun got its start. Let’s talk about how it’s grown from these humble beginnings scattered among various clubs with different rules and no sanctioning body to where it is now, a nationally televised event watched by millions each year.
Well, I think it’s definitely good for the sport, having 3-gun Nation. They started out as a TV show and have progressed into, I won’t say a governing body, but they certainly have the most control over keeping things organized and leading the way. I think USPSA tried to do some of that but it wasn’t really their focus. They never had a president or a board of directors that really pushed them that direction. Having the TV show gives it so much more notoriety and visibility that it has really taken off.
Outlaw matches are great. I’m never going to stop shooting those because they offer a bunch of diversity that the 3-Gun Nation Pro Series doesn’t offer right now.
Just based off of the sheer number of people on AR-15.com, the 3-Gun Nation forum, and the forum I run BoomerShooter.com, the sport has grown significantly. There’s so much more of it out there. It’s really taken off.
You made it to the finals in Las Vegas this year where you competed against the best shooters in the world for a chance at $50,000. Tell us a bit about what that was like. What did you do to prepare for that challenge? Was it any different than a regular 3-gun match?
Well, I’d like to say there’s not a lot of pressure, but you kinda’ put all of that on yourself just like you do at a club match. You get amped up and you try to remember all of the different things you planned to do. 3-gun is like 30-seconds of controlled chaos. Everyone is going to make some mistakes. I don’t know if I’ve ever shot a perfect anything. Doing it at the national level with TV cameras following you, you really just have to shut all that stuff out, memorize your plan and go through it over and over in your head so that it is almost sub-conscious. That way when you’re going through the stage all you’re thinking about is your sight and your target and you let everything else happen around you. If you think to much about it it will get to you. That shoot-off we did in Vegas, there was something about that, what with having so many people watch you, having fellow competitors watching every run and scrutinizing everything and planning their own game based on what you did or didn’t do. It was exciting. It was a lot of fun.
I know when I go to a match as soon as the buzzer sounds my mind goes blank and any plan that I thought that I had goes completely out the window. This sounds like Vegas would be exactly the same for me: sheer panic.
Well, I don’t know if that’s the case, but it is kinda’ like that. I don’t know if anyone shoots a perfect anything ever. There’s always something you can do better. It’s not like a golf swing where you can take one swing and then you get to stop and wait 10 minutes before you get to do it again. You’ve got a multitude of things going on, and you’ve got to try and control all of the things that are going on. That’s really what you’re focusing on.
“OK, this didn’t happen so I need to do this,” or “This did happen so now I can do this.” You make little stage markers to recognize “Here’s the one target I’m going to do this way,” and “There’s that target I was going to do that way,” and try to keep it basic enough so that you don’t have to think about nothing but that. This way you can still focus on your sights and your game plan.
We’ve talked about all of the training classes you’ve done, but let’s discuss how much practice is required to be able to compete at the level that you do. Do you practice on a weekly basis? On a daily basis?
Well, I don’t practice as much as I’d like. I don’t think anyone does. Even the pro level isn’t as professional yet as we’d like it to be.
When I first started out back in 2009-2010 I dry-fired my pistol everyday. I’d dry fire my rifle, just trying to get all of the gun manipulation, magazine changes, all of that stuff to be second nature. I wanted to get to the point to where the magazine change just happens and you don’t have to think “Oh! Change your magazine. There’s the magwell, now stick it in,” so that none of that goes through your conscious thought process. It just happens when it needs to.
As a new shooter, that’s something that you have to spend time on. You can either do it with live ammunition on the range, or with dry-firing. I probably changed magazines on my pistol who knows how many thousands of times while just sitting there watching TV in my room at home.
You get all of those basics down pat so that you can manipulate the trigger without upsetting the sights, and then you no longer have to practice that stuff all the time. You might practice some to keep it fresh right before you go to a match, but you don’t really have to think about it. You don’t pick up the gun and go “Oh! So that’s what a sight picture looks like.” You just practice to keep it fresh. You’ve already mastered all of the skills you need by that point and it just becomes maintenance.
Do you do this every night? How often do you get out to the range?
Well when I first started out, the first year that I practiced regularly during the off-season from November through March I would try to get up every morning 20-30 minutes early and I would load my shotgun one day and practice reloads on my pistol or magazine changes on my rifle another day. I would say that I’d average over those three to four months at least five days a week until I was really really proficient at it.
Now I don’t have to get up and do that because it’s become ingrained. Some things like the shotgun reloading are perishable skills, so I’ll try to practice them out on the range as well as in dry-fire because, obviously, ammunition costs money. You can practice shotgun reloading a bunch at the house.
I don’t do a lot of dry fire anymore. Not as much as I should, but I do get out to the range pretty regularly. I actually built and moved into a new house, partly because it’s closer to work but I also had about two acres of land that I turned into a small gun range. I’ve been here about a month and the plan is to get out and shoot two or three days a week and run through 50 rounds of pistol or 50 rounds of rifle each session. That way I can keep my skills fresh all the time and when it’s time to head to a local club match or major match I’m not trying to get out to the range to brush up on the basics. I’ll have that stuff already ingrained.
Do you have any ammo sponsors right now?
Once you get to the Pro Series level, people are more than willing to give you discounts on stuff, but getting ammunition is like the Holy Grail. You can never have enough ammunition!
Stag Arms helps helped Kalani and I out with rifle ammunition some. I do get some help from Fiocchi USA. They help me out with my rifle and shotgun ammo. In 2012, I used nothing but Fiocchi .308 ammo to win 2012 3 Gun Nation Heavy Optics Title. I also used a bunch of Fiocchi Spreader Shot Shells and Fiocchi Low Recoil Aero slugs to win the 2012 Rockcastle Tactical Shotgun Championship Open title and the 2012 High Plains Shotgun Challenge Pump title.
Prior to the current ammunition drought we’re experiencing, how many rounds would you run through on an annual basis?
One of the questions that is always asked in the training classes I took when I first started is “How much do you shoot every year?” Because you want to know what these guys are doing to make themselves so much better. I think it was Max Michel who told me he shoots around 75,000 pistol rounds a year. I was shocked.
I think my first year I probably shot 5,000 rounds, and my second year maybe 10,000 to 12,000 rounds. That was when I was shooting mostly pistol. This last season I decided to take notes and keep track and I did it online so other people could do it and see and follow what I was doing. I shot almost exactly 21,000 rounds in 2011 between matches, practice, everything.
To be honest with you, that’s about a third of what I wish I would have shot.
The current shortage in the ammunition market is unprecedented in the scope and scale it has reached. How is that affecting your practice and your ability to get rounds for competition?
Thankfully I knew the Pro Series was coming up and I knew I was going to be shooting a lot, so towards the end of last year I bought 15,000 rounds of pistol and I stocked up on the same amount of .223. Shotgun ammunition isn’t really short yet, though slugs and buckshot can be hard to come by. I still keep 2 or 3 cases of that stuff around since I like to buy ammunition in case-lots. That way I know that all of the ammunition is made at the same time and I know it will all shoot to the same point of impact.
I had enough ammunition to make it through this year. My thinking was that I should buy it now, that way I don’t have to order stuff throughout the year, wait for it to come in, and hope that it comes in time for a match. So, I’m good to go, but we’ve got a lot of guys who are just starting out. They’re having to mix and match, or borrow ammunition, or pay these outrageous prices, just so that they can shoot a local match.
As good as everything was progressing with 3-gun growing in popularity, this has really put the brakes on things.
From your perspective then, this ammunition crisis could really have a detrimental impact on the shooting sports and our ability to get new shooters participating. It could potentially set us back a number of years.
Yeah, I would think so.
If you just bought your first AR-15 and your first pistol and you’re planning on coming to your first shoot, but you don’t have ammunition, you’re in a world of hurt. I’ve had people that I haven’t talked to since high school sending me emails and messages asking “Hey, do you know where I can a rifle?” or “Do you know where I can find some ammunition for the rifle I just bought?”
So yeah, if you’re wanting to start out now you’re either going to have to pay for it or you’re just not going to get to play.
Let’s step back a second. We were discussing how much practicing you do on a regular basis earlier. That, combined with a full time job and commitments to your family has to make it difficult to coordinate your schedule in order to make all of the matches you go to. How do you balance work, family, and practice, with your career on the 3-Gun Nation Pro Series?
It’s really tough to be honest with you. There are maybe a dozen shooters out there you could say that they are truly “professional shooters” where that’s all that they do for a living. Most of those guys aren’t just professional shooters either. They don’t get paid only to go shoot. They do training, or they work for law-enforcement agencies, or they are in the military, or something to that effect.
As far as the guy who stays at home and practices two or three hours a day and then goes and competes in matches and gets paid for it, I don’t think that person exists yet.
If you look at most of the guys on the Pro Series, you’ll find that they’re in the same situation I’m in. My wife and I run a business that she and her father own and it’s given me the ability to take off on Thursday or Friday to go to a big match, or to sneak out of work early to go practice. If you look at a lot of the guys who are “pros” you’ll find that most of them have some sort of job where they get more time off than the average guy, or they own their own business.
That’s pretty much where I’m at. My wife and I don’t have any kids and she travels with me to the matches which definitely makes it easier to get away. The business we run is a greenhouse and we sell plants in four or five states across the south, so in the spring time we’re really busy. I actually have to miss the first 3-Gun Nation Pro Series match this year because we just can’t get away from the greenhouses in April. In June however we don’t have anything going on, I mean we’re literally not working, so I can travel around the country and go to a major match every weekend if I want to.
Just today 3-Gun Nation emailed out the schedule and details for how all the new things are going to work this year. They’re going to choose the squads based on your finishing rank last year. The top twelve guys will be in the “Super Squad” so to speak, which will be the primary TV squad. I finished 17th, so that will bump me down to the second squad, but I’m also going to miss the first match.
I emailed them back and asked how missing that first match will affect my ranking. They replied and said that I’ll be bumped all the way down to last place since I won’t have a score after the first match. That’s definitely going to hurt me.
I’m going to have an uphill battle coming into those last three matches.
That’s really going to put the pressure on you. What’s your plan?
My number one goal is to not get DQ’d.
You have to shoot three out of the four matches to earn the score you need to get into the top thirty shooters and qualify for the trip to Vegas. I’m only shooting three matches. If I get DQ’d or if a gun breaks and I zero a stage I very well could miss out on the top thirty and miss the trip to Vegas and the chance to win $50,000, I’d also have to earn my spot back in the Pro Series next February in the qualifying match.
I’m definitely going to shoot a bunch of rounds before that match that I get to go to in May. Thankfully it’s up here in Tulsa at the United States Shooting Academy where I shoot all the time. I’ll probably spend a day or two up there looking things over and then come back to my range and set some of it up so that I’ll be completely ready for exactly what they’re throwing at us.
Here’s my one bit of advice for you: superglue. Superglue your pistol to your hand so that you don’t drop it.
Seriously, I’ve had that happen to me. I got DQ’d two times last year in major matches, and it wasn’t anything I could really do much about. I had a gun jam and I set it down and it wasn’t empty. I thought it was. It’s little things like that which can ruin your day.
Let’s change gears a little bit and talk about your sponsor. You got picked up by Stag Arms back in 2011. Stag is well known among most shooters as the “Left-handed AR Company” but they do much more than that.
In 2011 Stag decided that they were going to sponsor 3-Gun Nation and they also picked up myself and Kalani Laker. At the time however, they didn’t have a gun that was really set up for 3-gun.
With our help, they came out with the Model 3G. It is basically an 18-inch heavy-barreled rifle with a fluted barrel and rifle-length gas system. It has a long 15-inch handguard which we all like to use in 3-gun. It has a Geissele Super 3-Gun trigger, which was specifically developed for 3-Gun competitions. They put on a Magpul grip and Magpul stock, and what they created is really one of the best bangs for your buck out there.
For a new shooter looking for an AR-15 specifically for 3-gun it’s pretty tough to beat the gun that they built. Before Stag built theirs, I think only JP Enterprises had some competition stuff targeted at 3-gun, but this was the first mass produced 3-gun ready rifle I believe. It is by far the most cost effective way to get started in 3-gun.
You can literally take it out of the box and go shoot a match and it’s not going to hold you back one bit.
It’s a competition ready gun, but since 3-gun is a reality-based action shooting sport, it’s also the ideal personal defense weapon.
Yeah, exactly. Most people who are buying AR based rifles look for military-style designs. You saw a lot of M4 type designs recently because of the wars going on in the Middle East. Now that the wars are coming to an end and 3-gun is taking off in popularity, I think you’ll see more of that design.
Guys ask me what I use for home defense, or what I use for hunting. I shoot my 3-gun rifle more than anything I’ve got in my safe. That’s what I’m going to grab. When you think about all the features, there’s nothing on that gun that is only useable for 3-gun. It has a long forearm, and if you’re out hunting you might need to lean against a tree to steady the rifle. You don’t want to lean your barrel against the tree, so why not have a 15-inch handguard instead of a 12-inch?
What you’re saying is that the Stag Model 3G rifle will make me a better, faster shooter.
Of course it will!
Seriously though, let’s talk about tips for new shooters like myself. I’m so slow that match officials use a calendar instead of a shot clock. I also don’t have a lot of money to spend on ammunition and range time. What’s the best way to get noticeable improvements in my game?
You definitely can’t go out and just buy a better game. You can’t go buy a pistol or rifle or shotgun that’s going to do it all for you. Obviously there are things you can do that will give you a moderate improvement like better sights, a better trigger, or a more accurate barrel.
If you’re a new shooter who is just getting started there’s no reason to go and spend a bunch of money. My recommendation to guys is to just take what you have and come out and shoot a match. There are all kinds of lessons that you can’t learn on the internet or in a magazine but that you will learn by shooting a match.
I hear guys saying “Well, I need to practice a little first,” but really you don’t. As long as you know how to safely handle your firearm you’re ready. Get out there and shoot and talk to the guys you’re shooting with. It’s a lot more fun to learn while you’re doing it anyway.
As far as things to do to get faster, if you don’t have a lot of time to get to the range or resources for ammunition, you can literally become a Grand Master in USPSA just by dry firing. Just practice the fundamentals and all of the weapon manipulation tasks. You can see guys in matches who don’t do that and they do things like forget where their safety is while under stress. That’s something that you shouldn’t even have to think about. Flipping your safety off should just be automatic.
If you watch a new shooter running with a rifle or a pistol they are awkward and have this little hitch or jump. Heck, I did it too. It’s like running with scissors, and when you’re new sometimes it’s scary to do it. Just becoming comfortable running with your firearm is a huge thing.
There’s shooting, and there’s everything but shooting. In 3-gun we do a lot of transitions from one weapon to another, and that’s something else you can practice at home. You can drop your rifle and draw your pistol. All of this stuff, everything that happens in between each shot is something you can practice at home.
Wait a second, you said that I can become a Grand Master level shooter just by dry-firing?
Yes! Steve Anderson, he’s from Oklahoma, and he’s got a book out there Refinement and Repetition, Dry-fire Drills for Dramatic Improvement, and that’s exactly what he did. He literally dry-fired his way to Grand Master in under a year. I mean, obviously he fired some live rounds for practice and at matches and stuff. There are a ton of drills in his book covering draws, transitions, reloads, and all of the gun manipulation things that you have to do.
Not a lot of people follow his advice completely, but if you do follow all of his drills, and I think he even says so, that if you use his program that you can become a Grand Master.
I was talking with Brad Engmann a while back, you probably know him from Top Shot, and he’s another very big proponent of dry-fire practice. One of the other things he did was set up a little range in his basement using sub-sized targets and an airsoft pistol.
Definitely. My teammate Kalani Laker said he bought an airsoft rifle to practice with. He even will take it out to the range to get cheaper additional trigger time. One time he told me he shot 5,000 BBs in a single night. That’s not even really possible with live ammunition.
I actually bought a couple of Glock airsoft pistols and a 1911 style pistol as well as a bunch of airsoft knock-down targets from this one company. They actually make a stop-plate for Steel Challenge stuff that you can hook up to your timer. I have another friend who has a Texas Star designed for airsoft use.
Airsoft is really the next step above dry-fire. Dry-fire gets boring, and that’s why a lot of people don’t do it. That’s a problem, because if it’s not fun you won’t continue to do it. I know I’ve slacked off recently, but airsoft is actually fun. I’ve taken my pistol down to my buddy Chris’s garage and he’ll have thirty or so knock-down airsoft targets set up in there. We’ll run competitions and set up stages and time each other.
Competing is fun. It gives you a goal. It’s much more motivating than just dry-firing by yourself.
That’s a really good point. People don’t like to do dry-fire because it’s boring. If I get bored with a workout I’m going to stop doing the workout because it becomes a chore. How do you keep things fresh? What do you do to keep things interesting?
Well, probably the most expensive thing was building this range in my backyard. I’ve got thousands of dollars in steel targets from MGM, and I just bought a 6-point star that hold clays because we’d shot a couple of those a matches last year. Obviously having all of the stuff you have at a match makes practice a lot of fun.
If you’re at home, on a budget, you just have to challenge yourself. Set goals. When you set a goal and strive to accomplish it there’s a sense of satisfaction that keeps you driven. When you succeed, or even just have measurable progress, things are good. I’m not a psychologist, but I know I’m always shooting to beat a certain time.
Having a journal so you can track your progress is very important. You don’t want to be there going “Well, I think that was faster than I did last time.” You need to know whether or not it was.
OK, so if I can’t afford to build a range in my back yard, I should just get a shot clock and track my times on paper.
Yes. That’s very important. Right after you buy a holster you should buy a timer. If you’re trying to get better at 3-gun or USPSA there’s no excuse. There are even apps on iPhone or smart phones you can get very cheap or even free. I think SureFire has one, and Taurus had one at some point.
Shot timers are a necessity.
Those are some great points there. Thanks again for sharing your insights and giving us some tips and tricks.
Not content with just one BAG day purchase, I went out and bought another little firearm: A Smith & Wesson Bodyguard .380. I’ve had a P-3AT for a while, and it’s a fine little pocket pistol. It’s reliable and, if not accurate, easy enough to shoot when needed. Though it does tend to wear my hands out at the range when putting more than just a couple of magazines through it.
The Bodyguard .380 is slightly larger, and slightly more expensive, but it comes with a few more features that the P-3AT lacked. First and foremost (for me anyway) is the addition of a slide lock and a handy takedown lever. Kel-Tec neglected to put either one of these on their little .380, and that tends to make life a bit more difficult. The designers also included a safety, which I found to be redundant given the stiff (but smooth) DAO trigger, and difficult to use as well. The other selling points of the sub-compact Smith & Wesson are the inclusion of full-size sights and a top-quality Insight laser aiming device.
.380 pocket pistols are not known for their accuracy, and many have only the most rudimentary of sights atop the slide. The Bodyguard uses a black-on-black Partridge-style serrated front post and rear notch configuration favored by many pistol experts, and this is fine by itself. The addition of the Insight laser just in front of the trigger guard truly sets this pistol at a level above all the others.
A few months ago I managed to find a PMR-30 in the wild and quickly snatched it up. I’d been lusting after this lightweight .22 WMR pistol for some time, so when the opportunity arose to get one of my own I jumped at the chance.
After getting the pistol home, I hosed it down with Gun Scrubber to clean out any shipping grease and then lubricated it with Mobil 1 (10W-30) motor oil*. After the first range trip, I determined that it did need the new upgraded 1:11 twist barrel offered as a free Warranty Replacement by Kel-Tec. I emailed them and within a few weeks had the new barrel. It was a simple drop in replacement and I was back up and running.
Since then the PMR-30 has had just over 1,000 rounds through it without being cleaned at all. Until the Central Oklahoma Gunblogger Schutenfest it had not had a single malfunction. At the Schutenfest I and the other bloggers (who all wanted to try it out – and why not? It’s a heck of a lot of fun to shoot) ran about another 500 rounds through it. One malfunction occurred around round 550 when we had a round-nose bullet catch on the feed ramp: not a horribly unusual problem, and not one I felt I could blame on the gun.
Another malfunction occurred at round 653 when I had a Failure to Fire from a dud rimfire round. Inspection of the round showed a good primer strike. The cartridge simply failed to fire. This type of problem is endemic to rimfire rounds of all types, and is not one that could be blamed on the pistol.
Other than those small issues, George Kellgren’s unique design ran like a champ with nary a hiccup, a testament to the engineers who overcame the many unique problems presented by the .22 Magnum in a semiautomatic pistol design. Between the long cartridge design, late peak pressure of the .22WMR, and unique problems presented by the “coffin” style 30-round magazine, the PMR-30 truly is a feat of modern design.
Now I just need to go bug Dennis about getting one of his custom PMR-30 holsters.
Caliber: .22WMR (.22 Magnum)
Rounds Fired: 1012
Failures: 1 Failure to Feed, 1 Failure to Fire
Magazine capacity: 30 rounds
Twist: 1:11 Inches
Trigger pull: 3.5 to 5 lbs
Weight (no mag): 13.6 oz.
Muzzle Velocity (40 gr): 1230 fps
Barrel length 4.3 Inches
Length: 7.9 Inches
Height: 5.8 Inches
Grip Width: 1.1 Inches
Max width, across safety levers: 1.3 Inches
*Why Mobil 1 motor oil? Because it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than any other “gun lubricant” and actually performs better. Many gun lubricants will begin to burn off as a firearm heats up during rapid fire, and the magnum .22 cartridge generates a lot of heat, especially when burning through a full 30-round magazine. Mobil 1 synthetic motor oil does not burn off nearly as quick and in my experience provides much more reliability across all firearm platforms.
Training is an important part of everyone’s life. No matter what you do in life, you train for it. Some people train at sitting on the couch and watching TV. That isn’t quite as useful as someone who trains at surfing the internet (I’m pretty sure I’m well on my way to becoming a pro at that) but the really useful training is what I want to talk about.
Directed training. Training with a plan. Training that you continue to practice and hone on a regular basis in a controlled environment.
When it comes to preparedness, there are any number of skills that can be improved dramatically with just a bit of training, and lost fairly quickly if that training is discontinued. Defensive pistol shooting is one of those skills.
Most preparedness-minded individuals agree that personal and family protection in the form of a firearm is a very important part of being prepared, right up there with food and first-aid. Far too many people however simply purchase a pistol and a few boxes of ammunition and call it done.
Even if you have the right equipment it is useless if you cannot reliably and successfully employ it when needed. An unplanned trip to the range to shoot off 150 rounds slow-fire at a bulls-eye target helps. A little. A very little.
The primary problem is that the majority of ranges do not allow shooters to practice draws from concealment or transitions from target to target. There are many reasons for this: safety and insurance restrictions to name but a few. Most ranges have a hard enough time keeping people from shooting the paper-hangers.
How do you get started? Where can you go to learn and practice defensive pistol techniques? The first step should be research and find a knowledgeable teacher and to enroll in a defensive pistol course. There are literally hundreds of places with quality instructors where you can get started. But once you’ve spent a weekend learning the basics, where can you go to practice?
If you do not have a range near you with open bays that allow moving and shooting and drawing from concealment, one of the best ways I’ve found to get at least a little bit of practice is to join IDPA. The International Defensive Pistol Association is an action-pistol league run by Bill and Joyce Wilson of Wilson Combat fame, and is based out of Berryville Arkansas. The league was started by Bill Wilson, Ken Hackathorn, and Larry Vickers as an alternative to IPSC and USPSA, which had turned into “gun races” with highly specialized speed-draw holsters, highly-tuned race guns, and custom ammunition. The purpose of IDPA is to provide a environment where competitors can hone their defensive pistol skills utilizing “stock” equipment that would be suitable for concealed carry.
A quality holster like this one from Comp-Tac is perfect for both IDPA and daily concealed carry.
While IDPA competition and training does much good in enhancing valuable skills and further ingraining the muscle memory necessary for a rapid draw and presentation, it is not without some drawbacks. The primary problem many people have experienced when attending their first few matches begins with the discovery that the firearm and holster they have already purchased do not conform to the guidelines set forth in the IDPA rule book.
With few exceptions, to compete in IDPA you need a plastic or Kydex IWB strong-side holster, or an OWB holster that fits your belt like a glove, and that can be reholsterd easily. This eliminates most leather IWB holsters as being suitable for use. Other holsters that require the muzzle to be swept around for proper presentation such as a shoulder holster, crossdraw, or small of the back holster are are all illegal (and may actually be unsafe) for competition.
Many popular defensive pistols are disqualified, or must be handicapped, right out of the box. My Para Ordnance 14.45 (legal for use in ESP or CDP) for example is not allowed to be loaded to full capacity in any IDPA competition. Common modifications such as sights or pinned grip safeties are also illegal. In fact, I’m pretty sure even modifying a Series 80 1911 by removing the firing pin block in order to get a smoother trigger is illegal in CDP.
In addition, with the exception of the occasional back-up gun or “BUG” match, subcompact and smaller firearms that are the most popular for concealed carry are, where legal, uncompetitive, if not outright banned from regular competition for failure to make power factor or other reasons.
We understand that at the end of the day, IDPA is just another “gun game” with the rules necessary to level the playing field for competitors. But for those seeking just a chance to run their defensive pistol setup under the stress of the timer, and with so many rules complicating things and forcing competitors to act in ways they would never act in a true self-defense situation, is it really worth all the trouble?
We spoke with IDPA 5-gun master and spokesman Caleb Gidddings of Gun Nuts Media to get his take on the situation, and to understand further what IDPA has to offer.
The bottom line in any self defense situation where you need to actually fire your gun is to get rounds on target as quickly and as accurately as possible. On top of that, you need to be able to judge in a split second whether accuracy or speed is going to be the more critical component in that situation. Shooting IDPA helps prepare you for that eventually as the critical components of shooting such as sight alignment and trigger control are reinforced under simulated stress. IDPA isn’t teaching you tactics, but it is teaching you to be a better shooter. To my knowledge, no one who has ever survived a gunfight has wished at the end of it that they were less competent with a handgun.
Plinking mediocre groups with your Bersa .380 or Hi-Point won’t really make you a better shooter. Competing will.
Caleb makes some good points. At the end of the day, the skills you pick up learning rapid magazine changes, target transition, quick draws and accurate presentations are all things that you will be able to use with few changes from setup to setup. Whether you’re shooting a Glock or a 1911, carrying a Kel-Tec P3AT or a full size FNP-45 Tactical handgun, the basic skills all still apply.
There’s an old saying, “Beware the man with only one gun; he probably knows how to use it.” Yes, it’s true that minor changes in holster, the location (or lack) of a safety, and the size of the pistol will all affect the speed and accuracy of your shooting. But if you have the basics down, you’ll be well ahead of 99% of all gun owners out there.
Don’t be afraid to change up your carry rig. If you carry concealed from day-to-day one way, and shoot IDPA another, you’ll still be just fine should you ever need to deploy your firearm.
Like all organized shooting competitions, IDPA is just another “gun game”, but it’s one specifically oriented towards concealed carry, and one where you can learn a lot and hone the skills you learn in basic defensive pistol courses in a safe and controlled environment. You can find an IDPA league near you on their website at IDPA.com.
I’m not one of the “cool” gun bloggers who got a prototype or advance copy for review. I still have to hunt down most of my own products to review.
After more than a year of searching, begging, pleading, and generally making an ass of myself, I finally found a PMR-30. While still significantly over MSRP, it was the first I’d found under $500, and I happened to find it completely by accident while wandering into a gun store more than 1,300 miles from home. Which meant, thanks to our curious gun laws, that I couldn’t take delivery of it there, and instead had to pay extra to have it shipped to another FFL located here in Texas.
There, it would wait for me until I returned home, nearly 2 months later.
I picked it up from my local FFL, and took it straight home for a photo shoot. Oleg Volk I am not, but I did my best to get some decent shots for this article. And I figured out how to get that nifty square of 30 CCI Maxi-Mags alongside the pistol (hint: just dump the container upside-down very quickly and then carefully pull it off).
After the initial photos, it was time to head for the range.
Now, the PMR-30 has been the subject of some controversy. Rimfire cartridges in general are less reliable than their centerfire counterparts. In addition to that, the .22 WMR presents some unique challenges to engineers who would chamber an autoloading pistol in this caliber. It has significantly higher pressure than a .22 LR cartridge, and the late peak pressure can cause case extraction problems.
Kel-Tec uses what they call a “hybrid” blowback design, described by in-house engineer Toby Obermeit as a “hybrid blow-back/locked breach [sic] system … accomplished using what is effectively a floating barrel.”
The PMR-30 has experienced a number of problems, many of which Kel-Tec has blamed on sub-par ammunition. A note was placed in the pistol case, alongside the owner’s manual, discouraging the use of any foreign-manufactured ammunition. Press releases from Kel-Tec have also explored the problems that some have experienced with the pistol keyholing 40 grain CCI Maxi-Mag ammunition.
We decided to approach this issue head-on.
With a couple hundred rounds of 40 grain hollowpoint CCI Maxi-Mags, we went to the range with the PMR-30. To test the gun, we headed out with the pistol as it comes from the factory with no additional cleaning, lubrication, nor even a break-in period. After more than 200 rounds fired rapidly out of the 30 round magazines, we experienced zero malfunctions, no misfeeds, FTEs, FTFs, and certainly no keyholing as you can see by the image to the left.
No, the little gun performed admirably with nary a hiccup, and with a reasonably tight group fired rapidly at 10 yards off-hand. Despite the fact that our gun did not have the “updated” barrel, and using ammunition reputed to have serious keyholing problems, we experienced no issues whatsoever.
What can one conclude from this?
In our opinion, not much. This is a great trail and hunting pistol for areas where bears are not common, and we intend to test it as such. Accuracy seems to be adequate, but we’ve not yet seen how well it performs on small game.
We’ll continue to shoot it, test it, and even compare it to other similar fireams such as the AMT AutoMag II and the FN Five-seveN (centerfire though it may be). In addition, we’ll be requesting a replacement barrel from Kel-Tec with the upgraded twist rate, and report back on the differences.
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