Sunday, September 14, 2014

MagPod Review

I know several folks have been waiting to get their hands on this product, and I was fortunate enough to get a couple prototypes to try out so I'll share that experience with everyone who's waiting for them to be available for purchase.  A note on availability, the release date is supposed to be mid-October.  There have been issues with materials and availability, so kudos to the makers of MagPod for dealing with some people being upset over delay as opposed to pushing out and inferior product.

Now, the MagPod.  Basically it's a polymer replacement floorplate that will fit on Gen 2 and up PMags.  It weighs less than one ounce and is a handy piece of equipment.  It essentially gives you a monopod on your magazine.  It has a large "foot" at the lead of the magazine that offsets the angle of the magazine as you rest it on whatever surface.

I took the MagPod out and used it in both range and field environments.  Since I had two, I also did some weapons manipulation and mag changes with it.  I only found benefits in it's use.  The only thing that it really changed how I operate is that it somewhat affected my mag changes.  It didn't hinder my mag changes in any way, but it caused my hand position to change somewhat.  Due to the extra real estate the MagPod provides, it did give me a little more positive purchase on the mag when I did changes.

So how did it perform when placing the mag on a surface such as when you're proned out you might ask?  Flawlessly.  I don't normally push onto the mag when shooting as I'm not a huge proponent of it, but I had no issues doing it while using the MagPod.  I ran it with both my War Sport Ind. LVOA (check out their new website) and my Daniel Defense/Spike's Tactical franken-gun.

Let me just say, I had better pics and I even had video.  I screwed that up, so I'll post a few pics of the MagPod on here, but I recommend checking out the MagPod Facebook page for more.

It did help stabilize the rifle for follow-up shots when leaning forward into it.  Let me also say that you don't necessarily need to lean only into the MagPod for it to work.  With the large foot on front I was able to support the weight of the rifle and only slightly push into mag for it to be effective.  It doesn't give much side to side stabilization because it's not very wide, but you wouldn't want it to be any wider.

I found an unexpected benefit while using it in a field environment doing some bounding and shooting.  It had rained recently and there were some soft spots.  The Magpod with it's extra "footprint" kept the mag from sinking into soft ground and accidentally pushing any debris up into the mag.  While that's not a huge problem and not something I've had issues with, in some situations and certain environmental conditions that could be helpful.

Keep in mind you don't just have to be proned out to utilize it.  It can be utilized on barriers or any surface no matter what position you're in.  It's also pretty tough.  I put it through it's paces and it held up just fine.

All in all, is this something everyone  The MagPod isn't going to be for everyone.  Is it something most folks should try....yes.  It does have its benefits.  I think it's a great little piece of kit and I'll be glad to have them in my inventory for certain situations.  For me the biggest benefit is the stabilization it provides for follow up shots when able to load it on a surface.  I've been shooting AR style platforms for 17 years, so I'm used to shooting prone pretty well.  I'm hearing the retail on these bad boys should be around $20 for a 3 pack.  At that price, I recommend picking up a 3 pack once they come out and giving them a test drive.  Give Magpod a "like" on Facebook and standby for a release date.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Mike Seeklander: Your Competition Handgun Training Program Review

As I make my way up in my career and get to the "management level" of things, I realize that keeping my skills honed will require some work on my own time.  So I've looked at getting into competition, particularly to join the three gun craze.  As with anything I do, I'm a researcher and am trying to be fully prepared to be successful.  If you want me to train defensively, I'm good with that all day long.  Competition is not something I'm familiar with.  So as a life-long learner, I sought a way to fill this gap.  Enter Mike Seeklander.  I believe it was Facebook where I noticed that he had a book out on the subject.

Mike has an extensive background and experience with firearms training and competition.  He's been an operational police officer, a U.S. Marine, Federal Air Marshal, and Federal firearms instructor.  He has a long list of accolades in the realm of competition shooting.  He also has free source of information on shooting at  I highly recommend you check out his site for some good information on shooting and training tips.

For this review, understand that I've only read the book and seen the two accompanying DVDs that demonstrate the drills from the book.  I'll provide an update once I've gone through the program.  I'm going to break it down by chapters, but not give too much away because I recommend you get the book and DVDs if you want to follow the program.  

Chapter 1
Introduction to the Program-  In this chapter Mike basically answers any questions you might have about the program as far as how long it is and how much time it will take.  His program is designed for a whole season and is broken down by pre, post and during the season.  One nugget I'll give you here is that Mike uses his "6 modules of success" for this program; Visual Training, Mental Toughness Routine, Dry Fire Training, Live Fire Training, Match/Events and Physical Fitness.  The format of this book is great, and I like the way it's laid out.  You're going to be set up for success in developing a program just the way the book is laid out alone.  

Chapter 2
This chapter is all about goals.  Mike talks about just setting goals and the important step of writing them down.  I also recommend writing them and giving yourself something you can stick to.  Don't be unrealistic.  Mike breaks goals down into three types; End Goals, Performance Goals and Enabling Goals.  Goals are always important when you're trying to improve.  You have to set your sights on a mark that's achievable.  I usually recommend people have small goals that will lead to bigger goals.  You need to have some "wins".  It feels good to accomplish goals, so it may help you keep motivated along the way if you have some smaller "wins" to achieve as you journey to your larger goal.  

Chapter 3
Dry Fire Training-  Here's where we start getting to meat of the program.  This part includes your dry fire training guidance and drills.  Mike gives you all the guidance you'll need on conducting your dry fire sessions to include the drills broken down into sessions that are to be used 5 days a week.  Dry fire is a critical part of any firearms training.  The best part about it is that it's free.  No ammo cost.  The drills included here vary in difficulty level, but all are great drills.  

Chapter 4
Live Fire Training-  This is where the rubber meets the road, or where the bullets meet the target rather.  The drills here are broken down into sessions much like the dry fire ones, but there are also three phases of the live fire drills.  All designed to develop your skill set as you go along.  There are Micro Drills (small drills) and Macro Drills (larger drills with multiple skills).  Mike also breaks it down for you as far as how many days a week you train.  The recommended program is three days a week, Mike doesn't recommend less than two days a week.  You can do it five days a week or more if you see fit.  He breaks it down even further to pre session, during session and post session.  All the details you need are covered. 

Chapter 5
Mental Toughness Routine-  What's particularly interesting about this chapter is that it covers a lot of the principles that our sports psychologists work with us on at the course I work with.  Mike covers how he uses what he calls a "focus breath" which is something we use, but call it "tactical breathing".  It's also known as diaphragmatic breathing.  From there he talks about things like using a performance statement and visualizations.  All things that can be the difference in how well you perform.  Great tools for your kit.  

Chapter 6
Physical Fitness-  We know that physical fitness is important for overall health, but it's also important in dealing with stress.  Competition brings stress, therefore being in good shape will help you deal with it.  Not to mention some stages can be challenging physically.  No brainer here, get in shape and stay in shape. 

Chapter 7
Visual Training-  You'll learn drills to increase your visual skill.  There are drills here that will "exercise" your eyes.  I'm no doc, but I would imagine these are good for anyone these days as most of us spend a lot of time focused on a computer screen or other electronic device.

Chapter 8
Cross-Training Module-  Here Mike discusses how to cross train across different shooting sports such as Steel Challenge and Bianchi/Action Pistol.  

Chapter 9
Documenting Paperwork-  Here Mike covers the importance of documenting your progress.  Pretty simple, write it down.  Record it.  Otherwise how are you going to be able to keep up with how you're doing and improving.  Collect data and it will help you with adjusting your program as needed among many other things.  Mike also gives an example of some log formats you could use.  In addition, Mike has a log book you can purchase at this link.

Chapter 10
Game Day Performance-  Here Mike goes through how to prepare for a match and what to do during and after matches.  There is a wealth of information here.  Here is where you're going to get some invaluable tips to get you on the fast track to being successful at matches and meet your goals.  This chapter alone is worth buying the book for many shooters.  

Bonus Sections
Mike included some extras in the book as well.  He talks about setting up your guns and gear, sponsorship and a brief section on technique.  I found the sponsorship section particularly interesting because I always wondered how those guys get those cool shirts with all the manufacturers names on them.  At this point, my shirt is blank.  

So again, this book is laid out perfectly.  Everything is articulated very well, and I suggest getting the two accompanying DVDs in which Mike takes time to demonstrate the drills and talk through each one.  You'll pick up plenty of great training and match nuggets in these videos that aren't included in the books. 

Keep in mind I've been in the Army 17 years at this point and I know all about training and how to set up training programs.  My last few years have been as an instructor at the Special Warfare Center.  This book just makes it easy for you much like using an app or DVD for an exercise program.  It's too easy when it's laid out for you.  I recommend this book for everyone from someone at my level of experience with training to someone who knows nothing about how to train.  Think outside the box, don't just buy the book and think you have to do it exactly to the letter how Mike recommends.  I would recommend doing just that for most people, but if you know what you're doing this is still a great tool and you can use it to help guide your own program.  I'm actually in the process of creating my own logs in MS Excel that will work best for me since I've already decided how to attack my training.  

Bottom line, this book is worth it's weight in gold if your'e look to train for competitions.  This is a product of years of experience training and competing.  It's easily worth way more than the 35 bucks you'll pay for the book.  Even if you think you know what you're doing, get it.  You should always look for ways to get better or new methods to help keep your training fresh.  

So my message to Mike in all this is, thanks for sharing this wealth of information.  I greatly appreciate it.  Now get ready, I'm coming for you.