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Results 1 to 10 of 10

Article: Yavapi County Here I Come

  1. #1
    Join Date
    20th March 2009
    California - S. F. Bay Area

    Yavapi County Here I Come

    A Pilgrimage to Gunsite

    by Frank Ettin for M1911.ORG

    12 May 2011

    Kingman, Barstow, San Bernardino
    (Actually -- Barstow, Kingman and hold the San Bernardino)

    Get your kicks on Route 66?

    So here I am again burning fossil fuels on the way to Chino Valley, Arizona -- all for my, and your, edification and amusement. And as usual, my first stop is Barstow, California.

    However, this time Iím staying at a different Holiday Inn Express (well, I am a lawyer). The newer one I usual stay at was full, so tonight Iím in downtown Barstow. And the thing is, Iím not sure how many kicks folks are getting here these days.

    Downtown Barstow is, Iím afraid, a sadder place than it must have been in the glory days of the Mother Road -- the streets in disrepair and many empty storefronts. One must work hard to imagine what it must have been like back in the day.

    One bright spot, however. I had dinner at a nearby coffee shop -- the type that serves breakfast all day (breakfasts on the road are usually reliable). The place itself was a little rundown -- decorated with dusty and somewhat faded Route 66 posters. But the waitress was a young woman who, despite the relative dearth of customer, was pleasant, enthusiastic and seemed genuinely appreciative of her customers. It quite made the evening (and the pork chops, eggs and fresh fruit were pretty good too).

    But I digress.

    This time Iím returning to Gunsite. Back in January, we were in Reno at the Safari Club convention; and I was at the Gunsite booth chatting with Sheriff Jim Wilson and Il Ling New (who was one on my instructors back when I took the 270, General Rifle, class at Gunsite). And all of a sudden, I found myself enrolling for the 350, Intermediate Handgun, class in May -- starting next Monday, in fact. What a surprise.

    Anyway, Iíll be in Prescott tomorrow and will have a couple of days to play tourist.

    I always approach a class like this with a little trepidation. I just hate to embarrass myself. And Iím not as young as I used to be, so I canít help wondering how ďupĒ I am to a five day class at Gunsite.

    Iíll keep you posted.

    Please use this thread to discuss this article.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    20th March 2009
    California - S. F. Bay Area
    13 May 2011

    A little light breakfast,...

    fruit and a cheese omelet for me, and high test dinosaur juice for the Merc -- on to I-40 and Arizona.

    Itís a long day of driving. Yesterday the weather was nicely mild until the Mojave. Since then was in the mid-90s. More of the same today, from Barstow, through Needles and into Arizona. But it started to cool off some once I hit Kingman.

    On the way to Kingman, just 13 miles into Arizona, I made what has become my usual excursion on Franconia Road. For the last several trips itís been there that Iíve pulled off the Interstate to quietly add my sidearm to my wardrobe.

    This trip Iím be wearing my Ed Brown Kobra Carry that John Harrison did some sight work on a while back.

    I told the story of the sights here. And this is also the gun I plan to use for the class.

    And Iím taking my Nighthawk Talon II, also with sights by John Harrison, as a spare.

    Stopped for lunch in Kingman. Traffic seemed to have gotten worse since my last visit some years ago. Could the town be growing?

    Took another brief side trip into Seligman, for gas and to stretch my legs.

    And then into Prescott a few hours later. Arrived about 1800; checked in to my regular digs in Prescott -- Springhill Suites. The rooms are generous, well appointed and comfortable for extended stays. After I unloaded the car and unpacked, it was time for dinner.

    I decided to walk the couple of blocks up to Murphyís, a nice ďfine diningĒ place Iíve made one of my regular stops. And on my way there, I had a revelation (ďBehold a pale horse, and the name of his rider was.....Ē ......No! No! Not that Revelation.)

    Anyway, the short walk, albeit slightly uphill, seemed more of a trial than it really ought to have been. And then it hit me -- Prescott is about 5,000 feet. So for those of you who live near sea level, and who might be considering a trip to Gunsite, consider arriving a few days early to get acclimated to the altitude a bit before class.

    (And yes, I wore my gun to dinner. In Arizona now one may carry a concealed firearm into an establishment that serves alcohol by the glass as long as (1) he has a valid permit recognized by Arizona; (2) the establishment isnít properly posted; and (3) he doesnít consume alcohol. I drink a lot of iced tea with my meals when Iím in Arizona.)

    Please use this thread to discuss this article.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    20th March 2009
    California - S. F. Bay Area
    14 May 2011

    Played tourist today.

    First, I took a run up to Gunsite. Iíve made this a regular practice in past years. Itís useful for getting some sense of timing for the trip and also to double check a kind of back way I discovered that allows me to bypass the worst of the the Highway 89 traffic just north of downtown.

    I like staying in Prescott for the amenities and because the hotel I use is particularly comfortable for an extended stay. I do like my creature comforts.

    The disadvantage is that itís almost an hour drive to Gunsite. And class starts early. The deeper I get into retirement, the less I like getting up early.

    On balance, though, staying in Prescott is worth it to me.

    The toughest part of the drive to Gunsite is the last 2 + miles up a dirt road. But it was a beautiful day for a drive. The weather here has been mild -- mid to high 70s. But itís supposed to be cooling off later in the week.

    I then decided to head up to Sedona -- through Jerome. For those unfamiliar with the town of Jerome, itís an old mining town perched on the side of the Mingus Mountains. I passed through in 2006 on my way from Sedona to Prescott. So this time had a chance to see it approaching from the other direction.

    The drive up the Prescott side of the mountain is demanding. I usually enjoy spirited driving on twisty roads. But a narrow lane with on-coming traffic on one side and a several hundred plus foot drop, unprotected by a guardrail, on the other, somewhat moderated my enthusiasm. Perhaps Iím developing some Better Judgment.

    The t-shirt shops of Sedona abide, but I got off the main drag a little to explore some of the spectacular countryside.

    More tomorrow.

    Please use this thread to discuss this article.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    20th March 2009
    California - S. F. Bay Area
    15 May 2011

    Still the tourist --

    Spent the day strolling around downtown Prescott. It was refreshing to see an old fashioned town square, in good repair, kept up and being enjoyed by what appeared to be locals. It seems that today, in many places, shopping malls have replaced town squares as places where folks can gather and socialize. Maybe Iím just an old curmudgeon, but I think thatís too bad.

    The weather was fine, if a bit windy, and I just enjoyed wandering around the square. Stopped in a few shops looking for some presents to bring back to friends and family. And I visited with a member of a local dog rescue group with puppies for adoption (please donít tell our cat). Had a good espresso and sat in the square for a while watching the world go by. And I seemed to be getting accustomed to the altitude.

    Back at the hotel, I just got my gear ready for class tomorrow. I have 16 magazines altogether -- 8 Tripp CobraMags with the welded bases (and thin, screw on base pads) and 8 McCormicks with Tripp innards. Also, put fresh batteries in my hearing protection and generally made sure that everything is in order.

    And now to bed. Up at 0500 tomorrow.

    Please use this thread to discuss this article.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    20th March 2009
    California - S. F. Bay Area
    16 May 2011

    Class begins ----

    On the road at 0630 and in the classroom by 0720. The day started with the usual filling out of forms and payment of any balances due. Weíre a small class -- ten students with three instructors. Chris Weare; Ron Fielder; and Dave Starin.

    (left to right) Ron Fielder, Chris Weare and Dave Starin

    Chris is the lead instructor (the Range Master). He spent some time going over range procedures, the Four Rules of safety, what we would be doing in class, etc. Everyone has of course been to Gunsite before, so much of this was essentially a refresher.

    One point Chris made was that Gunsite operates as a hot range. All guns really are loaded. In fact, it is expected that before any break we assure that our guns are indeed fully loaded and with a round in the chamber (unless weíre going to immediately be cleaning or otherwise working on them).

    This approach goes hand-in-hand with another point Chris made: Gunsite isnít a shooting school; itís a fighting school. We learn fighting with a gun. We wear a gun to be prepared to use it in a fight if that is otherwise unavoidable. And to be an effective fighting implement, a gun needs to be loaded.

    After all these preliminaries, including the students introducing themselves, we headed off to the square range. This range will be our ďbase of operationsĒ for the week.

    Today we focused on basic skills -- essentially the things covered in the prerequisite for this class (the original American Pistol Institute (API) course 250) -- and a skills assessment.

    So we ran various presentation drills -- drawing and firing one round to the head (at three yards) and drawing and firing two rounds center of mass (at various distances). On the last day of class we will be performing these drills (known as ďschool drillsĒ at Gunsite) for score.

    We did speed reloads -- two rounds then reload and fire two more. We went through basic malfunction clearances.

    And we did the basic failure (to stop) drill -- two rounds to the body and one to the head. This is sometimes referred to as a ďMozambiqueĒ, but in Gunsite parlance a Mozambique includes a pause to assess after the two rounds to the center of mass. In the failure drill as we performed it, there was no pause.

    Through all of this, we refined our techniques and procedures in various ways. Ammunition management is very important, so we were expected to perform tactical reloads as necessary after one drill and before the next (and also at the end of each exercise before going off the line to charge magazines and drink water (maintaining hydration is very important in this dry, high desert air).

    And our instructors had a number of opportunities to remind everyone that we shoot the Weaver stance at Gunsite. (Gunsite was started by Jeff Cooper in the mid 1970s. At that time, the Weaver stance, introduced by L. A. County Deputy Sheriff Jack Weaver during the days of the Southwest Combat Pistol League where the Modern Technique of the Pistol was forged, had become the "gold standard" of shooting stances. And that tradition continues at Gunsite to this day.)

    At the end of the day, to turn up the pressure, we did all the drills with turning targets. That puts a rigid and clearly visible time limit on each drill. The turning target also makes the cue to engage visual, as itís likely to be in real life, rather than auditory, as it more often is at school.

    Throughout the day, two points were emphasized: (1) on one hand, itís counterproductive to push the speed envelope beyond the point at which one can get good hits, because that can help ingrain bad habits; (2) on the other hand, we need to push ourselves to know and expand our limits. Or as Jeff Cooper used to say, ďOne should shoot as quickly as one can -- but no quicker."

    We start on the square range at 0800 tomorrow.

    Please use this thread to discuss this article.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    20th March 2009
    California - S. F. Bay Area
    17 May 2011

    Class - Day Two

    On the firing line at 0800 for some review -- presentations and shots either to the head, at three yards, or to the body, at five, seven and ten yards. And then we turned things up a notch -- movement.

    In a real life nasty situation, itís a very bad idea to just stand there. If you are responding to an attack, moving helps you in a number of ways: it gets you off the line of attack; it forces your attacker to react to your action (movement); it can buy you time and/or distance; and it can help get you to cover. So now we step to one side or another as we draw our gun and engage the target. And from that point forward, we will perform all the basic drills with movement.

    Next we reviewed kneeling positions and the rollover prone position. These can be useful for lowering the body to make better use of available cover or to change the angle of your fire to avoid shooting things you donít want to shoot behind your target. Braced kneeling and prone position are also particularly steady positions.

    The class first shot five shot strings from 25 yards from each of the three kneeling positions taught: speed kneeling; double kneeling (both knees) and braced kneeling. Then a turning target was introduced to the exercise -- two shots in three seconds from each studentís preferred kneeling position.

    Then targets were engaged at 35 yards from prone.

    Then, just before the lunch break, we had a man-on-man exercise. We paired up, and on the command to fire engaged our assigned steel ďpopperĒ from about 10 yards. The first to hit won the round and stayed up. The loser was out.

    After lunch we started to turn to engage the target. We faced 90 degrees from the target, first with the target on our left, and later with the target on our right, and on the command would turn, draw and engage. Two keys to the maneuver are (1) first turn the head to look at the target, and then turn (with a step) toward the target; and (2) the gun is not drawn until facing the target, although the hand is on the gun as the turn is executed. One first looks toward the target to identify the target and decide that it is necessary to engage it.

    As is the case whenever weíre introduced to something new like this, the exercise was first practiced dry and by the numbers. Then we went to live fire by the numbers, and then to simply responding to the cue to fire.

    We then went to a 180 degree turn -- starting facing up-range, away from the target and turning to engage. And again, while the hand goes on the gun as the turn is started, the gun is not drawn until facing the target.

    We then went over shooting while moving toward and away from the target, shooting from cover and what is called at Gunsite a ďnon-standard response.Ē

    Most of us have been exposed to the concept that an assailant might not be stopped with only one or two shots. The non-standard response involves engaging the target with multiple shots -- between two and five in the exercise.

    We then worked on barricades -- shooting from behind cover. (Note the knee (and elbow) pads. New students are advised to bring knee and elbow pads, or to buy them at the well stocked Gunsite Pro-Shop. Of course, we were all returning students and were well aware that more than once we'd be expected to get down on the ground. Knee and elbow pads are a regular part of any Gunsite kit.)

    Rollover prone from behind concealment

    We ended the day over at one of the simulators for a discussion of the theory and practice of clearing an area of threats. One overarching principle that the discussion drives home is that this is not something one wants to do if it can be avoided.

    Outside a shoot house

    Tomorrow we will each go through both an indoor simulator and an outdoor simulator twice -- once in daylight and once at night using a flashlight.

    Please use this thread to discuss this article.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    20th March 2009
    California - S. F. Bay Area
    18 May 2011

    Foul Weather

    At 0800 on the range, the weather was looking ominous. We moved right along, working on the school drills to do as much as we can in case weíre forced indoors by rain.

    Half the class went to the simulators one run indoor and outdoor. I was with the group that stayed behind at this point for continued work on school drills skill drills.

    We also spent a little time on basic marksmanship. The drill was to put five rounds on a steel ďpopperĒ, first at 25 yards and then at 35 yards.

    Next we spent some time on a falling plate exercise. There were 6 plates in row, each one a little smaller than the one in front of it. The idea was to knock down all the plates as quickly as we could, starting with a holstered pistol. The key was staying on the front sight.

    It was then time for my groupís turn for our first simulator exercises. There are two types at Gunsite -- indoor and outdoor.

    The indoor simulator is what is commonly called a shoot house. Itís a ... well a house, or a facsimile thereof. There are rooms and doors and windows and furniture -- and there are bad guy targets and good guy targets. The student needs to move through the house in a manner that exposes himself to any threats as little as possible, identify any threats, shoot them, and not shoot any good guys. Doing a proper job requires paying attention to the way doors open and using angles to see as much as possible without showing more of yourself than necessary and paying attention to where threats may be hidden.

    The outdoor simulator is, in effect, a gully. There are various branches off the central portion, and there are targets (metal reactive targets) in some of those branches. The student moves down the gully, using angles to expose himself to any hostiles as little as possible, identify threats and shoot them. A target must fall to score as a hit.

    In each case, the student must manage his ammunition, doing tactical reloads as appropriate. The instructor stayed with the student and would critique the studentís performance at the end. And of course, we were absolutely required to be safe.

    During these first simulator exercises, the student was encouraged to maintain a dialog with the instructor. As I went through the exercise, I would discuss optional approaches with the instructor working with me and my reasoning in choosing one approach over another. In later runs we would be expected to figure things out for ourselves.

    After lunch, it started to rain hard. We repaired to the classroom for a lecture on mindset. We then had a discussion about flashlights and various ways to effectively use a flashlight with a gun. A properly set up lanyard on the flashlight is a big help.

    The Gunsite perspective on a gun mounted light: they are good for shooting, but one still needs a flashlight for looking and seeing. Remember Rule Two of gun safety -- ďnever let the muzzle cover something you are not willing to destroy.Ē One needs to be able to illuminate something without pointing a gun at it.

    We got a break in the weather and were able to get a little more shooting in.

    The next exercise was what has become known at Gunsite as the ďTactical El Presidente.Ē This involves facing up range, with a loaded and holstered weapon, from three targets at a distance of 10 yards. On the signal, the shooter turns, presents his weapon, engages two targets with one round each, the third target with two rounds, and then re-engages the first two targets with one more round each.

    This, like the other drills we do, is really about developing, practicing and assessing certain basic skills -- such as turning to engage and making transitions from one target to another.

    We also did some one-handed shooting, both dominant hand only and support hand only.

    We all went to dinner together and then returned for our nighttime simulator exercises.

    Doing the simulators in the dark is a very different experience. Thereís the matter of managing oneís gun and flashlight together, especially during a reload; and that lanyard on the flashlight really helped. Thereís also the matter of balancing seeing where you are going, avoiding obstacles, being able to see to identify, and hit, targets, and not overusing the light (which gives away your position).

    Waiting for dark to start our simulator runs

    We managed to finish just in time. By the time I was on the road back to my hotel, the sky had opened up and the rain was falling in proverbial buckets. Visibility for the drive was just plain lousy. And according to the thermometer in the car, the outside temperature back at the hotel was 33 degrees F.

    Fortunately, we donít start until 0900 tomorrow.

    Please use this thread to discuss this article.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    20th March 2009
    California - S. F. Bay Area
    19 May 2011

    Day Four

    The fourth day began at 0900 on the square range. We started things off shooting the school drills, but without time pressure; the targets werenít turned.

    For the last several days, we had been pushing the time envelop. Now we were dialing things back to improve accuracy. Tomorrow we will be performing the school drills, with movement and time pressure, for score.

    We again split up into two groups. One group ran the indoor and outdoor simulators for the last time. I was with the group staying at the range to continue working on the school drills and the Tactical El Presidente.

    After a bit I was called for my turns through the simulators. I felt that I'd generally improved and the comments from the instructors confirmed that.

    But then the weather suddenly turned foul again. We broke for lunch and wound up huddling under the limited cover of the lunch area. It was cold and raining, and the rain became hail.

    The weather improved enough to shoot some more, and so we headed back to the range after lunch.

    Once on the square range we again shot on the move. But while before we were moving toward or away from the target, this time we were moving across multiple targets. This exercise also required doing speed reloads on the move.

    We finished the day with shooting while seated behind a table or a desk. The tricky part here was to draw the gun without sweeping yourself. To make things interesting, we were shooting steel reactive targets (poppers).

    We knocked it off early, but weíre due back tomorrow at 0730 for the final day.

    Please use this thread to discuss this article.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    20th March 2009
    California - S. F. Bay Area
    20 May 2011

    Final Exams and Graduation

    The final day began at 0730 on the square range. The weather was a significant improvement over the last couple of days.

    We started by shooting the school drills for score. This would be part of our final evaluation.

    The school drills are as follows:

    • 3 yards, single shot to the head, 1.5 seconds with movement (a step to the left or to the right), performed twice
    • 7 yards, two rounds to center of mass, 1.5 seconds with movement (a step to the left or to the right), performed once
    • 10 yards, two rounds to center of mass, 2 seconds with movement (a step to the left or to the right), performed once
    • 25 yards, two rounds to center of mass, 3.5 seconds with movement (a step then kneeling), performed once
    • 35 yards, two rounds to center of mass, 7 seconds with movement (a step then dropping to rollover prone), performed once

    We then did a Tactical El Presidente for time and score. Par time is 5 seconds. I took 6 seconds.

    Some of us stayed behind to shoot moving targets. The others went off for a force-on-force (FoF) exercise using simunitions in an indoor simulator.

    The moving target drill involves a target moving across the range with some other targets spaced out in front. We were to engage the moving target as it passes through gaps in the targets in front; we were not supposed to hit the targets in front.

    I was soon called for my turn at FoF.

    Before we left, we cleared and stowed our guns and removed all possible weapons (knives, pepper spray, keys, pens, etc.) from our persons. At the simulator, we were first wanded to assure that we have shed any metal and then fitted out with protective gear -- a mask, goggles, helmet and gloves. Our ďadversaryĒ in the simulator was be an instructor.

    One of our instructors, in this case, Dave, provided a simunition firing pistol, and I made ready. Dave set the stage and we entered. Things are very different when someone you might be facing is armed. The particular scenario was an exercise in evaluating a situation, the effective and appropriate use of cover and the possibility that engagement might not be the most appropriate solution to the problem.

    After the FoF exercise and a debriefing in which we all participated, we did some close quarter drills, firing at a close target from the retention position (gun tucked in close at the level of oneís pectoral muscle) and then moving back to fire again from a Weaver.

    We ended our time on the range with a man-on-man shoot-off. Two shooters would each face an array of two falling plates, a small popper and a split popper. The split popper was arranged so that the winnerís half would be at the bottom. The target array was engaged on the command to fire, with the split popper being engaged only after each shooter had dropped his other targets; and each shooter was required to perform a reload immediately before engaging his half of the split popper.

    The class was now over. All that was left clearing our gear from the range and going back to the classroom for final comments and distribution of certificates.

    For me, when a class at Gunsite begins, it seems like it will go on forever. And when it ends, it seems like it was over too soon.

    But the day wasnít quite over. It used to be a Gunsite tradition to visit with Jeff Cooper after a class. Now that Col. Cooper is gone, Janell has a little open house after class on the last day. If itís an exaggeration to say that Mrs. Cooperís brownies alone are worth the tuition for a class at Gunsite, itís only a very small exaggeration.

    I hooked up with Ed Stock, who was an instructor for my first class at Gunsite, and who was teaching a 250 that week. And we walked over to the Sconce (as the Cooper residence in known).

    The house is filled with Col. Cooperís trophies and other memorabilia. And Mrs. Cooper is a bright and gracious hostess. And I got to hang around chatting with her and several regulars well into the afternoon.

    And finally it was time to leave Gunsite -- with the hope of returning for another class.

    After Iíve reflected on my experiences, Iíll have more to say.

    Please use this thread to discuss this article.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    20th March 2009
    California - S. F. Bay Area

    Meditations on Training

    26 May 2011

    Practicality/Realism of Training

    Iím often surprised at the number of gun owners, including those who regularly lawfully carry a gun for self defense, who disparage formal, professional training. People will complain that the training really isnít realistic, of course that sort of begs the question of why, then, would no training be better.

    • True, stepping to one side, drawing your gun and firing two shots isnít necessarily what you might do in a real violent encounter. But itís not intended to be. Itís a way of training and measuring some basic skills -- moving, drawing and firing quickly with reasonable accuracy.

    • Of course in a real life defensive encounter one would not necessarily just fire two shots, if he shoots at all. Current training is to shoot until the threat is neutralized.

      But the school drills as currently constituted at Gunsite (one shot to the head, or two shots to the body or the Tactical El Presidente) by being performed consistently in the same format allow performance to be evaluated and measured. And unless performance can be measured, deficiencies canít necessarily be recognized and addressed.

      In fact, during the course of the five days, we all improved our performance in the school drills. We got faster and more accurate.

    • And we did more than just the school drills. Other drills focused on firing more rounds, and thus we could avoid simply being programed to fire two shots.

      For example, several exercises (including shooting seated, the outdoor simulators and the man-on-man drills) involve engaging steel reactive targets. In those exercises we fire until we hit or the target falls. Other exercises (like the nonstandard response drill, shooting while moving, and moving targets) involve engaging paper targets as long as they are visible.

    • Gun handling, including reloading (both tactical reloads and speed reloads), muzzle control, trigger finger control and malfunction clearance often get short shrift in practice. But these are also important skills and habits. Formal training helps to give these skills greater emphasis. Among other things, we are engaging in live fire drills on a line with other people doing the same thing. Safety requires proper gun handling.

    • Of course the most realistic exercises in the class are the simulators and, most significantly, the Force-on-Force exercise. But these would not be meaningful or helpful without a proper foundation of basic skills -- being able to shoot quickly and accurately, good gun handling and moving safely with a loaded gun.

    The Value of the Instructor

    Taking a formal class always reinforces for me the fact that there really is no good substitute for having a qualified instructor watch you do something and then coaching you based on what he sees. People who try to learn to do things by reading books or watching videos miss out on this.

    For example, I was having trouble meeting the time limits on the school drills. One of the instructors noted that I was too slow getting on target out of the holster. I was able to improve my performance by doing dry fire exercises back at the hotel concentrating on speeding up my draw stroke.

    With good feedback, I knew what I had to do.

    Also, for another example, with the feedback I got from Dave (who was running the indoor simulator exercises) and Ron (who was running the outdoor simulator exercises) I was able to improve my performance each time.

    Yes, Training is Stressful

    When we come to school like this, we have to perform in front of a bunch of strangers.

    Letís face it. Most of us are pretty competitive, and we like being successful. But when we come to school we wind up doing new things and doing them ..... well, letís just say weíre doing them not always perfectly. And while I might think Iím pretty hot stuff at a couple of the public ranges I visit, at Gunsite Iím working hard to be average. That all makes for stress.

    But a big part of training needs to be developing the skills to perform under stress. Weíre preparing for possible violent, and thus highly stressful, encounters.

    In addition, one doesnít learn much doing what he already does well. One learns by pushing himself outside his comfort zone.

    Itís Not About the Gun

    So much gun and shooting related writing and discussion focuses on the equipment, especially the gun. But a good class helps drive home the basic truth that what counts is the skill to use the gun effectively.

    To be sure, there can be guns which are unsuited to the task, and there can be guns that are beyond the physical capabilities of an individual to use efficiently (e. g., one thatís too large or too powerful). But this recent experience reinforces for me the fact that any reliable gun, of decent quality and firing an appropriate cartridge, can be an effective defensive tool as long as one can manage it properly and trains and practices with it enough to be proficient.

    For the record, the guns of the class were approximately evenly divided between 1911s and Glocks, with one Springfield XD.

    Solo House Clearing Remains a Bad Idea

    Yes, we did a number of house clearing exercises in this class. And doing so further reinforces what Iíve been consistently told by instructors: one doesnít want to clear a house by himself if he can possibly avoid it. The searcher is highly vulnerable to ambush or being flanked.

    Yes, there may be times when it is necessary. For example, if a loved one is somehow in a building with ensconced, known hostiles, or if, in the course of defending against a home invasion, one must get innocents to a place of safety.

    So why should we even be training to do it?

    First of course, it helps us learn what a bad idea it can be. But seriously, there is the possibility that doing so might be absolutely necessary.

    In addition, it helps teach some useful, basic skills: moving safely with a loaded gun; observing, seeing and identify targets and innocents; tactical decision making; using cover and concealment; ammunition management; and movement and balance.

    The Gunsite ďExperienceĒ

    Gunsite is, at least in my opinion, a special place. There is a certain camaraderie among Gunsite graduates.

    In addition, the instructors Iíve had have been first rate. They all have a strong desire to teach. Itís evident that they share a goal of genuinely wanting each student to learn and to do well to the limits of that studentís ability.

    I still remember during my first class at Gunsite, Handgun (250C) in 2002, one of the instructors, Dave Harris, spending 20 minutes with me trying to get me to understand trigger reset in a 1911. I just couldnít get it, but he tried. (Then a couple of years later, I was practicing at the range and found myself resetting the trigger, and I suddenly realized what he was talking about.).

    Please use this thread to discuss this article.



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