AAR: Part 2 -- Pistol with Night Shoot
Training Day 1: Pistol plus night shoot (a solid 11 hours of instruction)
All about the pistol and this is where the fundamentals (or as Frank sometimes calls it: “Principles”) shine and the results transferrable to long guns.
“Advanced stuff is the basic stuff mastered”. “Be aware”. “Be in a programming mode”.
Eventually, shooting should be done at subconscious level but start with seeing and feeling every bullet.
Having the grip as high up the tang is huge. Put as much of your hands on the pistol with tension from the strong hand and the support hand pushing right and down for a right-handed shooter with the support thumb getting a white fingernail. Right thumb on left thumb pushing down. With extended slide releases right thumb rests on knuckle of left thumb. Hold your pistol with just the support hand and you should see it pointing as far down (45 degrees) as possible which translates to more meat on the pistol. Elbows are bent to absorb recoil and allow mobility when swinging from target to target. Stance is leaning forward on the balls of your feet with string leg forward. Don’t bend your head down and instead stretch your neck forward. This allows you to see more. For the draw Frank goes through a smooth escalator ride to the target with no stopping and no counts. The idea to get there faster but also to see your front sight as soon as possible before full extension. Also, his strong thumb is pointing straight up giving the support thumb / hand to get in there before the right thumb completes the grip.
We went through dry practice with a zip chord in the barrel and it’s all about tracking your sights. Then, we went live fire but only single rounds repeated five times. Again, the idea is to track the whole series and especially the sights through the recoil. For instance, how high does it go, can you see the brass coming out, did you see the back of the slide, etc.? It’s keen awareness on a higher level.
For me, I needed to angle my support hand even more to get more meat on the pistol. Pushing down and to the right with the support hand was awkward at first. As Frank says: “Target + Sight = Trigger”.
Went to repetitions with reset and then run 5 rounds as fast as possible to see how well we manage recoil and distribution of the rounds outside the index card. Again, tracking the sights through recoil.
We then hit a row of three tightly-spaced steel (12”x20”) targets with one round each four times. So, after target 3 you cycle back to target 1 (borrow high-capacity magazine if you want to). It should be one continuous burst.
Next was a paper plate for body and an inch-wide tape for the head. Going through cycles of starting either body (3 rounds) or head (2 rounds) and varying the pace to make the shots land in the target zone. After that back to the 12 rounds to 3 steel. Like Frank says: “Concentrate on sight or trigger as needed” – focusing on awareness.
We got into reloads next. Not surprisingly upon slide lock he drops the magazine, brings the pistol towards his face (shooter’s box) but eyes are above the pistol looking at the threat, cants the pistol so that he can see the magwell while at the same time a new loaded magazine (bullets facing forward) meets he pistol, momentarily looks at where the magazines meets the magwell, while doing that the pistol oriented and moved back towards the target, magazine is seated fully and using his strong thumb he sends the slide home. Blazingly fast, efficient and reliable. We also went through his Tactical Reload.
To emphasize the point about reloads of using the slide release versus power stroke (grabbing back of the slide) Frank had one shooter using each method go man on man. The speed was adamantly clear. Next, Frank went against some different shooters with the shooter drawing and hitting a steel target, slide reload and another hit. Frank only starts after he hears the first hit. Impressive! Not showing off but a great display of efficiency at work.
Next we got into moving and shooting. Don’t cross your feet. Feet pointing in the direction of travel while the torso is oriented towards the target. When you need to stop to shoot make sure you get a good stance. We went in both lateral directions engaging steel at each station. Frank set up a great course of fire using 5 steel and 11 rounds. Two steel are on one side, one in the middle and two more on the right side. All in all about 20 yards apart laterally and 10 yards forth. Two rounds each on the two steel on the left, go to middle one round and go to the right two rounds each steel and one to the middle and then back to the middle and one round. You’re running with the pistol finger straight with muzzle pointing downrange.
On regular moving forward and shooting take normal strides, when the heel hits the ground the knee bends and when the sights say shoot you do so. We practiced that.
Frank then set up a course of fire with 5 steel to our left as we’re moving forward, then two USPSA targets (need A or C zone hits) all the way down, another USPSA target behind a barrel as you turn laterally with two facing you, more turns and more barrels and finally two very small steel at 25 yards. We took several turns each. Many didn’t slow down on the last target. Trick is to keep moving and shooting and slow down for distant targets.
For the night shoot Frank is a big advocate of weapon-mounted lights. Interestingly, he uses his support index finger to turn it on instead of my usual support thumb. He basically showed us mostly the FBI or Neck Index methods which both mean one-handed shooting. Some used Harries or Rogers. I think only two students did not have weapon-mounted lights on their pistol and I believe both will be taking steps to correct that.
We went through various courses of fire at night. In one you start behind two barrels stacked vertically, draw, come forth, light on engage steel, light off behind a second set of two vertical barrels and engage from the other side. We also engaged a series three steel with single or multiple rounds and then with reloads thrown in. Many iterations to smooth our engagements.
Their drills are bloodless battles, and their battles bloody drills.
- Historian Josephus (AD 37-101) on the Roman military