Sunday, April 5, 2015

Range Time: Are you being effective or wasting ammo?

I can and probably will write more than one post on things I see at the range that make me wonder what people are thinking at times.  Let me start by saying though, I applaud people for just getting out and going to the range and shooting in a safe manner enjoying themselves.  I don't want to be the person standing in the corner of the gym talking about the overweight person you see in there, at least they are there is usually my thought.  Same with the range.  

Many times I see people go shoot and just throw a target up and see how many holes they can put in it.  Zombie targets are popular for that.  Not everyone needs to be a bullseye shooter, but if you're going to shoot make sure you are accountable for where your rounds hit.  I like Larry Vickers slogan of "Speed is fine, Accuracy is final".  You don't have to take the fun out of it, just ensure you have some training value included.  

If you're someone trying to improve your skills either for defensive or competition shooting, make sure you have some goals and a way to judge how effective your training is.  I have to give Mike Seeklander of Shooting Performance credit for showing me the way to be more effective at the range through his books on competition and defensive shooting.  He introduced me to keeping a log book.  I now always record times and different data to judge if I'm getting better.

So here I'll give you some of what I use at the range and my recommendations:

First, have a plan prior to going to the range.  Know what skills and/or drills you want to work before you go.  The night before is a good time to figure that out.  If you're going with a friend/friends, work that out with them so everyone is on the same page.  Also, do some dry fire in preparation.  When it comes to keeping good records and judging progress, you can't do different drills every time at the range.  There are hundreds of great drills out there, but I recommend narrowing it down to as few drills as possible while still working all the skills you need.  Use drills that work different skills within if possible.  If you continually use different drills it will be hard to go back and look at times or accuracy measures to see if you're improving.  

Always have a log book.  To start out, just use a notebook and write down things as you go.  Keep detailed records.  Write down at a minimum, the drill, misses/hits, times and the date.  It's best if you can record more data like split times, weather, equipment used, and a more detailed analysis as well as things you found you need to work on.  This can help drive your dry fire sessions between range time.  Later as you narrow your drills down you can create your own logbook using excel if you like.  You can record in your notebook at the range and then just enter the data later.

As for equipment, I always take my GoPro so I can film myself for critiques later.  I have a tripod I use to get it up to the level I need it.  The wide view of the GoPro is great for not having to worry too much about setting up a shot properly.  You can also put the footage in slow motion later to really see things like trigger squeeze and recoil control.  If you want to improve, a shot timer is crucial.  I use a CED 7000 and have been pretty happy with it.  Of course you want to have plenty ammo to conduct your drills.  I shouldn't have to mention bring your mag pouches and whatnot.  Just ensure the equipment you're using fits your goals.  If you're working defensive drills with your carry gun, then wear your concealable holster and a cover garment.  It does bother me when I see civilians always shooting with plate carriers and battle belts.  Train as you would fight applies even to when you may get caught in a mall shooting.  

Of course have some cleaning and lubrication items and tools.  I always have a Multitasker tool on hand at the range if needed.  Other little things like a speed loader and items for targetry.  I often just use cheap paper plates for targets and use a black marker to put an aiming point in the center.  Some pasters to paste target holes as I go.  The reactive targets are great for shooting at distance and being able to see where you hit.  I now have a handy red folding "wagon" that's great for just throwing everything in and pulling into the range.

One thing you won't see in these pics is that I'm wearing a type of heart monitor that will evidently give me some good feedback on stress levels and whatnot.  I have the fortune of working with some great sports psychologists and they've taken an interest in letting me use some of their gear while I shoot and giving me some feedback.  I have to keep a detailed timeline of what I'm doing so when they download the data they'll be able to give me quality feedback.  I'm also being their guinea pig for a new system they have, but I don't mind.  I welcome the opportunity to get better.  

It's a little more work to prepare this much for the range, but in the end it's worth it.  If you want to be successful and you have a "why" for going to the range, ensure you're being effective in your training.  Ammo isn't cheap anymore, make sure you're not wasting it or your time.  Any questions, reach out to me.  I'm more than happy to chat about it.

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