Category Archives: skills

my sort of recycling

In this time of financial hardship it’s only logical to try and save money where you can. When I started to see that I was putting large sheets of cardboard out on the curb on a frequent basis It dawned on me that IPSC targets were going for over a dollar apiece.

While it was always possible to simply draw out the dimensions on the board and cut them out, my drive for efficiency (ie laziness) made me think of what easier options there could be.

The solution I came up with was to swipe a piece of foam core board from my wife’s crafting horde and cook up a template.

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I cut out windows for the head and COM zones and punched holes (with a .40 S&W case🙂 ) for the B Zone area.

Now, whenever I have a large piece of cardboard laying around I grab whatever dwindling can of spray paint I can find in my garage…there’s always one somewhere…and get to work.

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While they may not be as professional in appearance as a store purchased pack, I have a somewhat constant supply of targets at a fraction of the cost.

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variations on a theme:emergency reloads

Theres the basics, then theres the basics of the basics and then there are the different variations on how you do the basics. I just got out of my garage after filming a few variations of the emergency reload. One would think, “how many ways are there to do a friggin emergency reload?” Well let me tell you.

This is how I was taught how to do it by my department back when I was a rookie. Physically strip the empty. Reload, then overhand sling-shot the slide. The reason for the selection of this technique was based on a known issue with Glock magazines.  Some versions of the magazine were known to not drop free consistently. Rather than juggle a mag in the off-hand and then try to strip the hung-up magazine it was decided to strip the empty out before grabbing a fresh magazine. The slingshot technique was chosen because it is a gross motor movement, which was argued to be a better choice for a positive release under stress and possibly sweaty or blood soaked hands vs. trying to hit the small slide release.

With the advent of the newer Glock magazine…the ones with the metal tabs that contact the magazine release…

The drop-free issue is no longer much of a problem. So if you remove the “strip the old magazine” step you get this…

On the slide release issue; I decided to try a “strip..reload…slide release” and a “drop free..reload…slide release” to compare for speed:


Undoubtedly there is a speed advantage to the “drop free” and “slide release” technique, but I suppose that for the training of the average cop they are more skilled techniques with the potential for bobbling, dropping mags or missing slide levers. The question I am asking myself is what technique would be best for me to practice in general? I am still thinking about it.


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change less…train more

The good folks over at ITS Tactical posted up the following:

ITS Tactical iPad Lock Screen Wallpaper
ITS Tactical iPad Lock Screen Wallpaper (Photo credit: mikepetrucci)

Gun Fighting is a Skill That Requires More Training, Not More Information

Whenever people ask me how they can shoot like a Navy SEAL, I always say the same thing: dry fire, lots and LOTS of dry fire. I never mention any particular technique or any of the well known fundamentals of marksmanship. Nope, what you need to do is train. Sure there are plenty of great little tricks out there and I’m always trying to acquire new tools for my toolbox (actually, not to brag but I’ve got more of a tool shed than a box), but no matter what skill or technique I’m working on, I’m working.

Read the rest.

I agree with the authors premise. At some point in a persons technical/tactical development they should start to be less concerned with searching for the latest techniques/gear/etc and focus on practicing what they have already been taught.

Todays information age almost makes it too easy to find books, videos, youtube, websites and blogs offering all sorts of ideas, techniques and products for you to pick up. The problem is many people spend more time LOOKING for the latest trend than they do actually DOING something.

The person shooting at paper on a static range is better off than the “internet SEAL” who likes to discuss force on force training but hardly ever pulls a trigger IMO. The person in the gym doing “ineffective” training is at least getting some training. The person debating the benefits of Crossfit over P90X who never gets off the couch would be better off just knocking out some push-ups and going out for a walk.

What have you actually DONE today?

martial art or art form?

This old post seemed appropriate in light of the conversation my previous post is involved in.

I find Kyudo an interesting art and an interesting subject for discussion of the term “martial art”. While Kyudo has its roots in combat archery and does use a weapon, it is obviously a spiritual and meditative pursuit rather than a combative skill. While Kyudo is called a “martial art”, I doubt that any Kyudo practitioner has delusions of being “combat effective” or believe that they are training in an art that will provide them with “street survival” skills. However I do believe that there are practitioners of various stylistic, meditative and “traditional” arts that DO believe such things. These are the people who believe that working on their “Chi” rather than their punching skills or physical conditioning will help them survive a confrontation. They are the people who think that a fight will somehow adhere to the protocols they follow at the dojo. These are the people who equate “martial art” with “combatives”.  A Kyudo practitioner is not the same as a historic Japanese combat archer. A sport fencing master is not automatically someone who could survive a real sword fight and a master in a “martial art” who has never faced a resisting opponent should not be presumed to be more likely to prevail against someone who has.

what is an expert?

Im in an interesting discussion over at:

The following is something I posted there:

“Expert” is a subjective term. Having been through ALL sorts of training from martial arts, military, LE, SWAT, Federal LE schools I can attest that there are experts and there are EXPERTS.

Seeing that more of my training now centers around the “tactical” and firearms. In this world you have experts like Todd Jarret:

Todd has no military or LE background and I doubt he has ever had to shoot anyone. That being said, LE and Mil actively seek his instruction/expertise in what he does.

On the other end of the spectrum are guys like Kyle Lamb:

Former Army Delta. “Blackhawk Down” veteran…Iraq war Vet..etc. Has shot people, has been shot at…numerous times.

While Jarret is probably faster and more “expert” than Lamb when it comes to driving a gun, Lambs instruction is coming from an ENTIRELY different source. Shooting is shooting. Jarret and Lamb are both drawing, aiming and shooting firearms…what makes one “different” from the other?

This isnt to imply that I think one is “better” than the other. LE/MIL seek them both but what they provide isnt identitical.

So what is an “expert”? I myself have been through all sorts of training, Ive won some awards and tactical/firearms competitions. Im former mil, SWAT officer, a veteran police I am an “expert” of sorts compared to others. But Im nowhere near the “expert” these guys are and likely never will be…

the mystical and the mundane

I’ve often wondered how people (especially martial artists) can consider this:

an Art with all the benefits we ascribe to martial arts (discipline, mental clarity, improved concentration, moving meditation…etc.).

While they dismiss this:

As simply “shooting”…a hobby enjoyed by “gun nuts”, right wing extremists, rednecks and “preppers”.

Not that Iaido is NOT an “Art” or that it doesn’t have those benefits mind you, but the physical mechanics of drawing a sword are not “mystical”. The discipline of a trained firearms user is little different IMO. I laugh at the idea that a sub 2 second failure drill is somehow “less” than a clean sword cut.

Don’t confuse people out shooting at tin cans with skilled shooters. There are plenty of people out swinging martial arts weapons in their back yards with no training (as we all know)…they do not seem to taint the entire pool of martial artists though.

fine..gross..lets call the whole thing off

Another interesting post over at Vuurwapen Blog. Andrew talks about one of my favorite “tactical sacred cows”…the whole “you won’t be able to do that fine motor skill in combat” meme.

I was first told about “fine motor skills” while in the military; the explanation I was given was that anything to do with using my fingers under stress was a bad idea. That doing so would not work, that I just wouldn’t have the dexterity. I was told to use the bigger parts of my hand, or my fingers bunched together, to do any sort of weapon manipulation. This, they said, was a “gross” motor skill that would be better under stress, which apparently makes your fingers turn to jello.

However, I was also taught by other people to do things like punch buttons on military radios and put tiny needles in small veins, both of which require dexterity. In addition, both are skills which might be critical to saving lives under stress (or taking them, in the case of calling for fires). I also found, on my own time, that I could manipulate safeties and slide releases just fine with my thumbs.

The author goes onto explain that in his opinion the issue all comes down to ones familiarity and recent experience with a weapon system. I agree 100%. If you are unfamiliar with a weapon, finding the small buttons and levers under stress will indeed be more difficult than grabbing a slide and slingshotting  it home. However, if you know the weapon like it’s part of your hand, it’s stupid to lose time doing “gross motor movements”.

I did some comparisons of handgun reloads back in this thread:

To be honest, I now use the slide release lever so unconsciously that I doubt I would ever do the overhand slingshot technique under stress.

Carbine Standards

The summer reloading/shooting season has opened.🙂

I have been trying out Redback One’s Carbine Standard.

RedBack One Carbine standards

Preamble: The following shooting standards have been designed to prepare students for advanced training with Redback One. These standards will serve as Go/No Go for enrollment to RB1 advanced weapon training. Students should strive for 100% speed and accuracy, however the entry standard will be 80%. These standards will be conducted ‘Cold and on Demand’ on day 1 of all RB1 Advanced Weapons Training. Failure to meet these standards may result in removal from the course. The final decision will be made by the Senior Instructor running the training.
Instructions for shooting the RB1 Carbine Standards.
  1. All strings are shot from the ready positions detailed in each serial.
  2. Distance: as per requirements in each serial.
  3. Target: RB1 silhouette (preferred).
  4. Scoring zones: head box & A zone as detailed, 8” chest circle.
  5. Total score possible: 80 points
  6. Passing score: 64 points
Scoring the target:
  • Each round in scoring zone = 1 point
  • Each round outside scoring zone = 0 points
  • Rounds fired after time limit = 0 points
Serial 1 – 7 meters (Low Ready)
  • 1 round to the body – 0.80 sec
  • 2 rounds body, 1 round head – 2.00 sec
  • 6 rounds to the body – 2.00 sec
Serial 2 – 7 meters (High Ready)
  • 1 round to the body – 1.20 sec
  • 4 rounds body, 2 rounds head (A zone) – 3.00 sec
  • 1 round body, 1 round head, 1 round body – 2.00 sec
Serial 3 – 7 meters (Low Ready)
  • 1 round body, transition, 1 round body – 4.00 sec
  • 1 round body, reload, 1 round body – 6.00 sec
  • 1 round body, transition, 1 round body, reload, 1 round body – 11.00 sec
Serial 4 – 7 meters (High Ready)
  • 10 rounds body, reload, 10 rounds body – 12.00 sec
Serial 5 – 10 meters (Low Ready)
  • 3 rounds body, transition, 3 rounds body – 6 sec
Serial 6 – 10 meters (Weapon unloaded on ground)
  • Load weapon and fire 1 round to the body – 5.00 sec
Serial 7 – 20 meters (High Ready)
  • 2 rounds body (standing) – 2.50 sec
  • 4 rounds body (standing to kneeling) – 4.50 sec
  • 6 rounds body (standing to prone) – 8.00 sec
Serial 8 – 25 meters vertical cover (High Ready)
  • 2 rds body strong side cover, strong shoulder, 2 rds body weak side cover, support shoulder – 6 sec
  • 5 rounds body strong side cover, transition 5 rounds strong side cover – 16 sec

This is my second go at it and the first time I had to read the stages and shoot them that alibi is out of the way.

Result. I wasn’t tallying points just yet, I was just metering myself on my time and rounds on target so… this time I had all rounds on target with 5 outside of the “A zones” on an IPSC target. Most times were within standard but many were slow by a fraction of a second and a few by a second or more. Overall not a discouraging start, next time I will start tracking my score and see how I improve over time.