Condition: Yellow - responsible preparation, and fun, for an unpredictable world

Weekend Workout 1: Double Triangle

by Andy Rutledge 0 Comments

Every weekend I’m at the practical range for one or two days working on technical accuracy and/or gun handling drills for pistol and carbine. For pistol, which is what I’ll talk about here, these drills usually involve multi-target drills, barricade drills, weak-hand / strong-hand shoot/reload drills, various mag-exchange drills, high-heart-rate-accuracy drills…or a combination of some or all of those. All are run from concealment.

I train 100% from concealment because that’s the only way I’ll ever deploy my pistol against any real threat. The result of my 2015 training has been 65+ practical-drill training sessions of no less than 200 rounds. Each training session averages 30-60 live-fire draws from concealment and 40-80 magazine exchanges from concealment. I tend to keep my magazine loads minimal for drills so as to maximize opportunities for mag exchange reps.

When I get an entire bay to myself I like to run multi-distance drills. I thought I’d start sharing some of my training drills so here’s the one I ran today, where I got in 10 repetitions. I call it Double Triangle.

 

andy rutledge's double-triangle drill

 

Double Triangle

It’s a drill for medium-range engagement. This drill allows you to practice:

  • sprinting to a position then steadying your platform for accurate shots
  • medium-range accuracy
  • magazine exchanges
  • muzzle discipline
  • managing accuracy as your heart rate climbs

Done right, your heart rate should be pretty damn high for the last couple of positions’ shots.

For this drill you need a 25-yard bay and quite a bit of room side to side. You’ll put 2 hits on target (steel–so you can hear your hits/misses) each from six positions. Makeup any misses immediately and exchange magazines as needed. The total required hits is 12 and you’ll have 14 rounds total loaded, so you can’t miss more than twice in the drill. If you run dry or are otherwise unable to put 2 hits on target from each position, that run is a FAIL. I find it’s best if you use steel so that you can hear your hits.

Place one barrel at 18 yards in the middle and two barrels at 7 yards, each 8-12 yards left and right of the target. You will shoot from the 25 yard line and from behind each of the barrels.

Magazine loadout is: 4 rounds in the pistol (1 chambered + 3), and 5 rounds each in 2 mags on your belt or in your pocket.

Use a shot timer. At the beep, sprint to position 1. NOTE: beginners should draw from concealment at the beep and then sprint to position 1. Those experienced at live-fire drills from concealment should sprint to position 1 and then draw from concealment. Put 2 hits on target, then sprint to the next position, etc…

BE SURE TO KEEP YOUR MUZZLE POINTED DOWNRANGE AT ALL TIMES. Be especially careful of your muzzle when running from the 18-yard position back to the 25-yard position. Also KEEP YOUR FINGER OFF OF THE TRIGGER EXCEPT WHEN YOUR SIGHTS ARE ON TARGET.

Do 6 – 10 reps for your workout.

Scoring:
Add one second for each hit outside of the “A” zone.

Par Time:
30 seconds (or better)

Variations

  1. Require left hand only for positions 1 & 2 and right hand only for positions 4 & 5
  2. Add more difficulty by requiring 1-handed magazine exchanges
  3. Add barricades and make it a cover drill

Give it a try!

Required Glock Modifications for Everyday Carry

Required Glock Modifications for Everyday Carry

I believe that a Glock is the perfect fighting pistol. I do mean “a” Glock because individuals have varied preference with regard to pistol size and caliber. With a specific size and caliber, though, I hold that Glock is the best pistol to have at hand when self defense against a deadly threat is necessary.

glock logo

However, while the manufacturer’s promotional phrase is “Glock PERFECTION,” I can agree only in part. The out-of-the-box Glock is by no means perfection. My opinion is that Glock doesn’t so much make the perfect pistol as they make the perfect pistol hobby kit. Specific alteration is required in order to achieve perfection.

While I’d argue a Glock is head and shoulders above any other EDC-candidate pistol, I believe it is very unwise to carry any Glock pistol without a few necessary modifications.

Sights

There is nothing wrong with Glock’s stock sights with regard to sighting. If you can’t shoot quickly and accurately with the stock sights, the problem is not with them, but with you. That said, plastic sights are beyond useless to the point of liability when it comes to running a fighting/defensive gun.

Glock’s plastic stock sights should immediately be replaced with iron sights, of whatever configuration works best for you. I’d recommend that the rear sight not be of the sloped variety, but instead have a squared-off profile that is perpendicular to the slide in order to facilitate one-handed slide racking on a belt or table or tree or whatever is at hand when the need arises.

sights

Avoid the sloping rear sight popular with some models. The slope makes 1-handed slide racking more difficult.

Frame and Grip

There are some who find fault with the finger ridges on the front of the grip of most Glock models. I’m not one of them, as these finger ridges perfectly mesh with my hand and I like that. What is problematic, however, is the fact that only the Gen 4 model’s (and the now-discontinued RTF frame) grip offers sufficient texture for good hand purchase while firing. More disappointing and especially dangerous is the fact that with wet hands (if it’s raining, if your palms are sweaty, or if your hands are bloody from fighting), it’s quite difficult to hold onto and manipulate a Glock pistol in defensive action. Even with the rougher Gen 4 grip.

I therefore hold that it is very unwise to carry a Glock pistol (or any pistol, for that matter) without either sandpaper grips or a stippling job. And I think adding adhesive grips is the wrong way to approach this issue. I stipple the frame of every one of my Glock pistols, as I have found anything added to the grip will come off in a very short time with any significant amount of training use (you do train, don’t you?). Some see stippling as a stylistic embellishment. I find it’s a required functional modification; a deal breaker for EDC. Stippling results in a frame that you can grip wet or dry without fail.

g30s_stippled_right

The Glock frame made perfect: Stippling to add the required texture and a Dremmel job on the right side of the frame where the grip meets the trigger guard.

Another necessary modification is rounding off the right hand side (for right-handed shooters) of the area connecting the grip with the trigger guard. This is where the strong hand middle finger is held firmly against the frame and vice-locked even tighter by the force of the support hand. Out of the box, this area is quite squared off and very un-ergonomic and it requires remedy in order to avoid severe discomfort after shooting more than ~20 rounds (if this doesn’t hurt your finger, you’re not gripping your pistol tightly enough).

The Dremmel-driven modification here is not so much an undercutting of the trigger guard as it is a rounding of the side transition, where the middle-finger’s first knuckle will go. The result is a fantastic boon to grip comfort.

Trigger

I find the Glock trigger to be decent, but by no means great. Some models tend to have better ones, like the Glock 43. The 43’s trigger is perhaps the best Glock trigger I’ve ever felt, but it is still a bit too heavy for my taste. Generally, though, a Glock’s trigger needs some work.

I’ve tried various trigger mods on various Glocks, utilizing connectors, springs, and plungers. What I find is best is to simply replace the stock connector with a 3.5 lb. connector. This replacement brings the trigger weight to around 4.5 pounds, which I prefer (you’d need to install the related trigger spring and striker safety plunger spring in order to get a 3.5 lb. trigger, which I do not recommend). More importantly, though, it gives the trigger a smoother take up and cleaner break and reset.

gtriggerconn

One caveat: 3.5 lb. connectors are not created equal. Glock’s 3.5 lb. connector is pretty decent, but there are better ones. My favorites come from Ghost Inc. and I favor either the Rocket or the EVO Elite connectors. I prefer the Rocket connector, but either requires fitting with a file, along with several assembly-test-disassembly-refit cycles.

Connector or spring replacement aside, I recommend NO polishing or grinding or other modification whatsoever to the trigger/striker system.

Popular Mods to Avoid

The wide and varied availability of aftermarket components for Glock pistols makes it easy for folks to go overboard and turn their perfect hobby kit into a silly caricature of a fighting pistol, often greatly reducing its practical functionality.

Avoid extended side-lock levers
The extended slide-lock lever was born of the mistaken idea that it’s a “slide release” lever. This mechanism was never meant to function as a slide release, which is why its external component is properly almost flush with the frame. It’s only purpose is to allow for the occasional need for the knuckle of your thumb to press upward on it to lock open the slide. One need never press down on the external lever. An extended lever gets in the way, often preventing the slide from locking open with the last round of the magazine. Moreover, it encourages the bad habit of using the lever to release the slide—which should only ever be accomplished by gripping the slide with the support hand and powering the frame forward with the strong hand to send the slide home.

Avoid titanium striker safety plungers
Titanium striker safety plungers are light and smooth and, therefore, valued by some as an upgrade for their Glock pistol. The opposite is true. These plungers attract carbon buildup which adheres easily and strongly to the top of the plunger, obviating any smoothness that was there. Moreover, they tend to deteriorate quickly with use, turning a vital safety mechanism into a liability.

Never, ever use a slide-plate “safety” device
One of the most important features of a Glock’s superiority to most other pistols is the lack of external mechanisms beyond the flush slide-lock lever. The Glock has three vital and redundant internal safety features that make the Glock perhaps the safest pistol one could carry. External/thumb safety levers on pistols only ever endanger lives because they mislead people into dangerous habits and into believing that safety is enabled or disabled by a lever. This is a fatal fallacy.

A person is safe or unsafe. No pistol is ever safe or unsafe because, quality and internal mechanisms aside, gun safety is a willful human volition. Only the operator can be safe or unsafe with a firearm. Assumptions to the contrary are the cause of every negligent gun death and injury ever inflicted or sustained.

Adding an external “safety” gadget to a Glock is the worst possible modification a Glock owner could make. Doing so transforms the mechanically safest, best-quality firearm available into one that invites irresponsible and negligent assumptions and extra, needless considerations to those manipulating their pistol.

Never rely upon or utilize a safety gadget on a pistol. Adhering to the 4 rules of firearm safety is the ONLY way to avoid killing or injuring yourself or someone else. No external lever can make a negligent person safe. Safety is 100% on people. When people forget this fact, people die.

Perfection

So there you have it: what I deem to be the required modifications for any EDC Glock pistol, along with a few to definitely avoid. I’m completely serious when I say that every one of them—both the ones to get and the ones to avoid—is a 100% deal breaker.

If you own and carry a Glock pistol, I recommend without reservation that you make all of these required modifications to your carry gun and avoid all of the bad ones. Until the day Glock Inc. decides to do them at the factory, these mods are how you get Glock perfection.

Gun Safety Gadgets: Trading Safety for Absolution

absolution

Among quality firearms there is no such thing as an unsafe gun. A well-made firearm is just a tool. On the other hand, a person can be safe or unsafe, dangerous or harmless, responsible or negligent. These are human qualities. With regard to firearms, safety is governed by human behavior and not gadget settings. Yet, ridiculously, some people maintain that the existence or absence of a mechanical switch defines or governs the differences between these human qualities. These people may be sincere or merely demagogues, but the results of their distortions are equally destructive.

The sincere ones are motivated by their ignorance. The demagogues are motivated by any number of factors, including a desire to sell gadgets, a desire to harm the reputation of a particular firearms manufacturer, or even a desire to see all firearms banned. Perhaps most common, though, is the irresponsible, malevolent, and otherwise pathetic desire to hold others responsible for one’s own irrational fears.

Despite the lies some will deliberately tell you, no gadget or switch can make an unsafe person safe. But the gadget peddlers and tool blamers are not selling safety. They’re doing something else entirely.

Absolution

Ego te absolvo a peccatis tuis…

Those who believe and evangelize the notion that safety is a mechanical setting are not seeking safety. They’re seeking absolution. They want to be absolved of their apprehensions and, just as important, they want to be absolved of responsibility. Worse, they want to legitimize their fictional and irresponsible idiom by endearing themselves to others who want the same things.

The kind of person who believes a gadget will make an unsafe person safe is also the kind of person who, when their negligence results in damage or harm, will blame anything or anyone other than themselves.

As to apprehension when handing a firearm, it is necessary, healthy; it means that you care. That apprehension reminds you to be responsible when loading, unloading, drawing, holstering, or otherwise manipulating a firearm. Without healthy, warranted apprehension, a person becomes careless. Gadgets and mechanisms that are meant to mitigate apprehension, by definition, cultivate carelessness and irresponsibility.

So just like the hoplophobes who believe their own irrational fears should be everyone’s concern and then seek to destroy civil rights and ban firearms, these gadgetophiles work to make themselves and others feel safer instead of be safer. In doing so, they dismiss and compromise actual safety in favor of the illusion of safety. Moreover, they deliberately cultivate irresponsibility and carelessness in themselves and encourage these failings in others.

Consequences

Absolved of apprehension and responsibility, people tend toward laziness and complacency. With respect to firearms, that laziness and complacency is negligence. After having purchased or relied upon a gadget or switch instead of responsibility and when their negligence leads to mishap, injury, or death, they have a scapegoat. Worse, in such cases, other weak-minded people seem all too willing to accept their pathetic and impossible excuses:

People hear and accept the lie:

Something failed! The damn thing just went off!

instead of the fact:

I failed to keep my finger off the trigger as I drew my pistol from the holster.

People hear and accept the lie:

Glocks are unsafe for law enforcement use!

instead of the fact:

Glocks are no more or less safe than any other quality firearm. The record clearly shows that law enforcement has a culture of gun-handling complacency and negligence.

People hear and accept the lie:

This gadget will make your gun safer; will keep you from shooting yourself or someone else.

instead of the fact:

Gun safety is a human habit/behavior, not a mechanical setting. No gadget or switch can make an unsafe person safe.

The fact that a gun cannot be negligent or unsafe becomes irrelevant in the face of hoplophobic absolution. As a result, people get rewarded for negligence or, at the very least, escape the proper consequences for it.

Rewarding negligence begets negligence.

Firearm safety cannot be ensured by a switch and it cannot be learned. It must be forged into habit by proper, rigorous, and ongoing training until one is habitually incapable of unsafe gun handling. Anyone who says different is selling something and is encouraging you toward negligence. Don’t buy it.

* * *

The title image is “The Confession,” by Giuseppe Molteni.

Review: Incog Eclipse IWB Holster

by Andy Rutledge 2 Comments

Appendix carry is seemingly becoming all the rage of late. At least that’s the impression I get based on conversations with friends and the articles and videos I see. I have to believe that part of the reason is that holsters for effective and comfortable carry in that position are getting better.

Enter the INCOG series of holsters. INCOG is a joint development projects between Haley Strategic Partners and G-Code Holsters. Their first product (that I’m aware of) was the INCOG Holster System, which offered a somewhat modular array of holster, mag holder, and belt clip arrangements. The INCOG Eclipse IWB holster is tailored more specifically for the mid-line or appendix-carry position.

Features

While not overly thick, the Kydex for the Eclipse is a bit thicker than most holsters I’ve seen. Sturdy. As most are, the Kydex is molded to the pistol model, which allows for positive retention without an over-tight retention adjustment (it’s adjustable). The interior is very slick and smooth.

The edges of the Kydex are very smooth. While other holsters have smooth, rounded edges, they tend to them leave a sharp ridge where the rounded edge meets the flat surface. Not so with the Eclipse; they did a proper job of smoothing things out for our comfort.

The exterior, like all INCOG holsters, is covered in what G-Code calls Tactical Fuzz. This covering basically makes the holster’s exterior feel like suede. This grippy texture aids in comfort when worn without an undershirt and helps keep the holster in place when worn with an undershirt.

Incog Eclipse holster

incog2

incog3

incog4

You’ll notice in the photos that the belt clip is angled. The adjustable Super MoJo adapter has this angle to press the holster away from the belt and into your body, which aids in concealment. I can attest that this feature does work, as it renders my Eclipse more concealable than other, more minimal holsters that don’t have this spring-like effect.

The clip is plastic and seems to have good strength and position memory. The business end of the belt clip is strongly angled for good belt grip. It even has a handy tab for easy removal when you’re ready to disarm.

incog mojos

Here’s a detail of the Super MoJo clip attachment (from the G-Code website). It allows you to adjust the position and angle of the belt clip on the holster to account for proper balance for your specific pistol and preference.

Carry

I’ve carried my Glock 26 with the Eclipse for a little more than a month and I find it to be highly concealable. Appendix carry is not always comfortable per se, but having used three or four other holsters in this position, I find the Eclipse to be among the more comfortable.

I have worn it while visiting the mall, driving my truck, raking leaves in the yard, even cleaning house. Most of the time I forget that I’m wearing it. On a very important point, some holster made for mid-line or appendix carry do not offer full access to the grip of your pistol. The Eclipse does.

wearing the Incog holster

As you can see, a compact pistol under a t-shirt is quite easy to conceal with the Eclipse. Here, I’m wearing my Glock 26 in the appendix position.

carrying the Incog holster

Incog holster

Incog holster

Conclusion

I’ve used several different holsters for appendix-position carry; both those made specifically for it and those that are otherwise suitable for that position. My experience shows that the INCOG Eclipse is the most concealable, and among the most comfortable of the lot.

The Kydex is slick inside and quite thick (read: durable) and the Tactical Fuzz does seem to be a positive and useful feature, despite the silly name. The belt clip is excellent and employs a springy strategy that other holsters haven’t yet caught onto. In short, this one works. I give it a thumbs up. Also, I’ll keep wearing it.

* * *

Photos of the holster by the author
Photos of the author by Evan Rutledge

Glock 19 Report: 30,000 Rounds In

by Andy Rutledge 0 Comments
Glock 19 Report: 30,000 Rounds In

I purchased my Glock 19 Gen4 in mid December, 2013; just about one year ago. In this past year since purchase, I’ve put more than 30,000 rounds through it in training and competition. In those 30K+ rounds, for every round I fed into the pistol, I pulled the trigger it went “bang.” Every round fired every time.

While most of the ammo I’ve fired through this pistol was Federal white box and Freedom Munitions 115gr ball ammo, and a lot of Copper-Matrix NTF frangible rounds, I have also fired hundreds of defensive rounds from Remington, Federal, Winchester, Hornady, and Speer—including hollow point and plastic-filled/tipped rounds of 115, 124, and 147 grain.

With every brand, grain, and type of round fire, not even one single failure:

  • No stovepipes
  • No failures to feed
  • No double feeds

Running my Glock 19 in competition.
Above: Running my Glock 19 in competition.

There was a stretch around 10,000 rounds or so where I tried an after market recoil spring that turned out to be too light for this pistol. The result was a tendency to delay going into full battery for a second or so after some shots. I remedied this issue by going back to a stock recoil spring. Even in that period of after-market folly, every round chambered and fired (and never an anomaly of any kind using a stock spring).

With 30K rounds fired in less than one year, that means that I’ve fired at least 600 rounds per week, every week, with just this pistol; one of several that I own and train regularly with.

Parts Replacements

As is advisable, I have replaced the recoil spring a few times (two of those was with the aforementioned and ill-fated after-market springs). The current spring is only a few thousand rounds in and is a stock, Gen4 spring. As this Glock 19 is my primary competition gun, I replaced the trigger connector and springs in favor of a 3.5 lb setup after about 10,000 rounds. I have replaced the trigger spring twice, each after about 10,000 rounds (and it’s likely time to do so again, now). I also replaced the slide release lever with an extended model, yet find I almost never use it.

While I don’t mind the configuration of Glock’s stock sights, I do not like or use plastic sights so I replaced these with Glock factory tritium night sights. Sights have to be durable and stand up to punishment. Iron over plastic every time.

glock 19

Report Conclusions

I believe the Glock 19 is an almost perfect pistol, given its reliability, size, capacity, concealability, and general suitability for everyday carry and for competition. Given the competition-friendly modifications I made to mine, I no longer use my Glock 19 as an EDC, but I use it a couple times a month for competition and train with it quite a bit at both the target range and the practical range.

I’m a bit fastidious with regard to cleaning and upkeep, but my G19 functions as well and looks as good today, after 30K rounds, as it did when it had just 500 rounds through it. I would recommend the Glock 19 as anyone’s first pistol purchase and as a must-have for every pistol enthusiast’s collection.

My Conversation With a Gun Bigot

sheep

Like many Americans today, I work with a number of gun bigots. They have an irrational fear of firearms and in their willful ignorance they misapply negative personality traits and motivations upon gun owners. Given where I work, this fact is highly ironical to me, since our company is in the business of recreational safety education, including hunter education and firearms safety education.

Due to my pro 2nd Amendment stance, sadly, I am regarded by some of my coworkers as a gun-crazed sociopath who is looking for any excuse to unload my weapon into some innocent citizen who offers me some slight insult. The idea that a person can make a distinction between the evil of attacking innocent people and the moral absolute of defending one’s life is entirely lost on gun bigots.

I became concerned this week when after I apologized to one of my colleagues for my visible frustration and agitation during a work-matter misunderstanding, he remarked, “Ah, no worries. It’s all good, unless you have your gun on you.”

– full stop –

He was not kidding. I did not address the issue immediately, but lost sleep that night over my concerns that he would think even for a moment that I could switch from good to evil on a whim. Just because of the presence of a gun.

So the next day I invited him to a private chat and confirmed that while he meant it as something of a flippant, mildly humorous remark, he did mean what he said. I expressed my concerns that he’d think such evil of me. I acknowledged what he knew—that I have trained for 25 years in several disciplines that involve the application of violence—but all exclusively in the context of defense.

He nodded and remarked that he understood and believed that.

I explained that like anyone, I’m susceptible to agitation or even anger, but these things are in no way some precursor to obtuse violence. I explained that even in the event that an argument gets heated and someone gets a bit physical with me, I make a distinction between addressing strong disagreement involving argument and/or shoving, and defending my life. In the unfortunate event that someone I know lost control to the point of getting physical with me, emotionally driven fisticuffs is not a threat to my life or family. Rather, it’s a sad event to resolve and move past (note that if it sounds here as though I fight with people on occasion, that is a mistake. I’ve never been in a physical altercation as an adult and hope I never will be).

He nodded and remarked that he agreed and believed that of me.

I reassured him that my years of defensive study, ongoing training, the weekly shooting regimen I maintain, and competitive shooting endeavors are all a part of what I understand to be my responsibility as a man and a citizen, and not fuel for some desire for violence. I explained that my ongoing training has forged in me and reinforces a very strong sense of moral responsibility to recognize the distinction between evil acts and righteous defense.

He nodded and remarked that he agreed and believed that of me.

I explained that the heavy responsibility that comes with carrying concealed and even being a firearms owner in general requires I understand these distinctions and be very conscious of my actions and intent in every consequential situation. As such, I’m continually reflecting on the effect my actions have on those around me, on my family, and my friends, as well as how my actions reflect on the responsible gun owners around the country. As such, I couldn’t consider engaging in any evil or obtuse response to some mild or heated disagreement with someone.

He nodded and remarked that he understood and believed that. And then he said that, even so, he would never be comfortable knowing someone near him was armed with a gun. Even if it were me. He explained that he believed that despite all I had shared with him, any disagreement or bout of anger involving someone who had a gun meant that lives were in danger.

I was at a complete loss. I couldn’t fathom how to make a dent in his bigotry.

The summation of our discussion is that he says he believes that I’m a good and conscientious person, but that if I am angry and I happen to have a gun at my disposal he fears that I will shoot people.

Bigotry can’t be fixed with logic and facts. To a gun bigot, a gun means impending violence and death, while logic and facts mean nothing at all.

* * *

Photo of sheep by Myrabella

Armed Confrontation Survival Course

On Saturday I participated in the armed confrontation survival course offered by Brian Harpole and his staff from Consolidated Training Group. It was an all-day class held at the Proactive Defense range in Argyle, TX.

The class was lots of fun and very well run, I thought. It was also very revealing.

carjacking drill

As described on the CTG site

The Armed Confrontation Survival Course focuses on quality, practical training that has real world and situational transference. This course focuses on developing a survival mindset and aggressive weapon handling techniques, while sharpening concepts of threat visualization and reflexive reaction skills. This one or two day class (8 or 16 hours) is applicable for Military, Law Enforcement, Contract Security and Responsible Gun Owners. Topics have immediate relevance to the day-to-day functional activities pressed upon us, and lead directly to the development of specific action steps for immediate life implementation.

We started with marksmanship and gun-handling assessments at varying ranges, then built up to more practical situations. None of the practical drills were static; all involved either an evolving situation, physical requirements in the midst of defense, moving from cover to cover, or having to defend from inside and around a vehicle.

More than half of the drills required us to make critical threat and/or environment assessments and respond according to the new threat or non threat.

shooting drill

This was an exercise where we defended from cover against one assailant, then had to assess the environment to defend against one or more additional threats that appeared at the instructor’s whim.

The latter portion of the class was concerned with dynamic, real-life scenarios in which we used live-fire with Simunition FX ammunition in otherwise real weapons against a real person. These were, by far, the most mentally challenging drills. Each scenario was different and a complete surprise to the student.

There was no instruction; you just entered the scenario with a specific task—”You’ve just arrived home and are going to your door…” or “You are at a store checkout counter…” or “You have just rear-ended another motorist in your car…”—and the situation unfolded with you in it.

I think it notable that in each of these scenarios there were usually moments where the threat was real, but did not warrant deadly force. At some point, however, things changed and deadly force was appropriate to stop the threat to yourself or someone else in the scenario. These were challenging scenarios and it was unnerving to point a real weapon at someone and pull the trigger. See for yourself…

My Conclusions

Brian and his staff did a great job and put together a fun and challenging class. I’m glad to have taken part and I’ll be doing more of these kinds of classes in the near future. I was reasonably happy with my marksmanship, but my lack of experience in these sorts of dynamic, practical, evolving scenarios left me disappointed. As a CHL holder I want to address this gap in my training for, like most people, I lack what I consider to be requisite competence in dealing with the breadth of threatening situations one might be confronted with on any given day.

The result of one’s performance in a threatening situation will have a result that is permanent. Tentative or unpracticed decisions and actions would be detrimental for all involved. I’d rather respond with a practiced eye, spirit, and resolve. That means more training.

If you’d like to prepare for real-world threats and challenge yourself, visit the CTG website or their Facebook page and see what they offer. Sign up for a class or two or six.

Your First Time at the Gun Range

by Andy Rutledge 27 Comments
Your First Time at the Gun Range

I first published this article at my Gun Path blog. Republishing here as that site is no longer in use.

Your first time visiting a gun range can be a bit intimidating. Even if you’re an experienced marksman and hunter, a lack of familiarity with basic shooting-range etiquette can make your first experience there daunting. Well, I’d like to make it less daunting. In this article I’ll address a few of the unknowns first timers might worry about, as well as offer some advice on things every shooter must take into account when going to a gun range.

Note that most of this information is applicable to any gun range, but some is perhaps more specific to indoor ranges. Let context be your guide.

Inexperience doesn’t matter. Safety does.

Both the staff and the shooters at a gun range love to see beginners there; it warms the heart to see someone decide begin their firearms education or hone their skills. So don’t try and hide the fact that you’re inexperienced and ignorant of many gun-range conventions. Embrace and be open about your ignorance; it’s the surest way to endear yourself to the people there. Pretending you know things you do not will produce the opposite response.

On the other hand, they do care very much if you are unsafe or unaware of basic firearm safety. So the most pressing concern for a first timer to the gun range is a solid familiarity with basic gun safety and handling. So before you go to a gun range, you should either take a gun-safety class or seek some comprehensive safety instruction from an experienced friend. Then you should spend ample time practicing the physical conventions of safe firearm handling so that they become habitual. The fastest way to draw the ire and suspicion of people at a gun range is to display unsafe behavior and gun handling.

At check-in the staff will probably ask you…

Have you shot with us before?
Basically, they’re interested to know whether or not you’re familiar with their range and its specific rules. Since you’re not, you’ll likely be asked to read their rules. Do, and read them carefully. Then ask any questions you may yet have; that’s what this first step at check-in is all about.
What are you shooting today?
They’ll want to know if you’re shooting pistols or long guns (rifles and shotguns), for a couple of reasons. First, ranges often have separate bays for pistols and long guns, since long guns are usually louder and often require longer lanes and perhaps a different backstop. Also, if you’re shooting a rifle, they’ll often want to inspect your ammo. Because of this, if you’re shooting a rifle and using a magazine, don’t load your magazines before you get to the range since you’ll probably be asked to unload them all for an ammo inspection (so they can make sure you’re not shooting ammo they don’t allow).
Do you have eyes and ears?
They’re referring to eye and ear protection. Glasses or shooting glasses and either ear plugs or earmuffs (or both in combination!) are required at all times in an indoor shooting bay or around the outdoor range. Make sure you bring both or are prepared to purchase them there. Many smart shooters wear ear plugs with their earmuffs when at an indoor range.
Do you need any ammo today?
Most ranges sell ammo, so you can choose to bring your own or just pick it up there. Note, that many ranges have limits on how many boxes you can buy and/or when you can buy (some will sell you ammo only if you’re about to shoot, but not when you’re about to leave).
Do you need any extra targets?
Some ranges will give you one free target, but will have targets for sale, too. You can choose to bring your own or purchase targets there.

General Advice & Etiquette

The range safety officer (RSO) is your friend and is there to help
Don’t be afraid to ask the RSO for help or advice or general questions! You will have questions. Heck, I’m at the range a few times a week and I still have questions sometimes. Just speak up! Unanswered questions can compromise safety and enjoyment and the RSO wants to answer your questions; that’s one of the main reasons he or she is there.
Get a range bag.
It’s useful and efficient to bring your gun(s) and accessories to the range packed neatly in a durable bag of some sort. This might be a small sports duffel bag or it might be one made specifically as a range bag. Unless you’re shooting several guns of various types, it is unlikely that you’ll ever need anything more than something large enough for 1 to 2 pistols, eyes & ears, 2-5 boxes of ammo, a rag/towel, some masking tape, a multi tool, notepad, and a pen (I happen to use a shoulder bag made for a laptop computer). The style and brand of your bag doesn’t matter. What matters is that your guns are protected and the bag’s construction can bear the weight of your equipment.
Wear a ball cap.
When you’re in a shooting lane with a semi-auto pistol or rifle, your ejected brass will often bounce around a bit before hitting the ground. It is not uncommon for ejected brass to bounce into your face and if you’re not wearing a hat it can lodge between your eye protection and your face. Trust me when I say that you do not want this to happen, as that brass is extremely hot. The last thing anyone holding a ready-to-fire weapon needs is to convulse madly in an attempt to deal with a hot shell casing burning his/her cheek or eyeball. The bill of a hat keeps that from happening.
Trust me on this, as I speak from direct personal experience!

Shooting bench in a lane

Take your lane and hang your target.
Many first timers are unsure what to do once they step into the shooting bay, but it’s really pretty straightforward. Walk to your assigned lane, put down your stuff, hang your target and unpack your gun and ammo. You may quickly be approached by the range safety officer to ensure you know the basic rules—or share them if you don’t—but other than that you can just go about your business.
Unpack your gun, magazines, and ammo – but only 1 gun at a time, 1 box of ammo at a time.
Unless your range requires otherwise, don’t unpack several guns and lots of ammo and spread/stack them all over your shooting bench. That’s a messy and dangerous situation and just asks for weapons and/or ammo to get knocked onto the floor. Make a habit of having only the weapon you’re firing and the 1 box of ammo you’re using on your bench at any given time. keep the rest in your range bag(s) on the floor. Replenish individually as needed.
When your gun is on the bench, lock the slide open or, with a revolver, have the cylinder empty and open.
Most ranges will have this requirement in their rules, but it is a safe, smart, and reassuring practice to maintain regardless. A gun range is not a place for uncertainty. A gun resting on a bench is an uncertainty unless it is open for all to see that it is unloaded and/or disabled.
Keep your gun pointed downrange. Always.
Again, most ranges will have this as a requirement, but a firearm pointed in any direction other than downrange is, by definition, unsafe. Note that downrange means straight downrange and not up or down in the general direction of downrange (the range does not consider it safe that the floor or the ceiling is targeted by your muzzle). Failing to keep the muzzle of your loaded or unloaded weapon downrange is one of the surest ways to get yourself asked to leave the range.
Mostly, mind your own business and let others mind theirs.
No one will be watching you, except the RSO to ensure you are safe. So don’t worry about doing well or looking experienced for the rest of the people there. They’re doing their own thing.
Note that when a person puts on earplugs/earmuffs and steps into a walled shooting bay lane, s/he tends to descend into his/her own world. Just as when someone is driving alone in their car, they’re in what they consider to be a private space. This will be true for you and it is true for the others in the lanes nearby. It can be a delicate matter to invade that private space, even with a friendly message or request. If you have a request or question of one of the other shooters that you don’t know personally, it is usually best to ask the RSO to be your proxy.
Note that this admonition is not to say that the gun range is an unfriendly place. Quite the contrary, in fact. When folks are just standing around in the bay, conversations among strangers are commonplace. It just means that when someone is in a lane shooting, interruptions are not so innocuous as they might otherwise be.

an indoor gun range

Shooting Etiquette

Make sure you understand your range’s firing-rate rules.
Many ranges, indoor ranges especially, have maximum-rate-of-fire rules. A common standard is, “no faster than one shot per second.” Whatever the rule at your range, be sure you know what it is. If it’s not listed specifically in the range rules, ask the RSO.
Mind your ejected brass.
Semi-auto firearms eject their brass with each shot, typically to the right. While most range lanes have walls that block your brass from hitting nearby shooters, some lanes’ walls are positioned such that it is possible for you to stand too-far forward in the lane and eject your brass into the lane next to you. This is very annoying and even dangerous for the person in that lane, so be mindful of where your brass is going and how your position in your lane affects that.
Malfunctions happen.
Hopefully not on your first trip, but you will eventually experience a malfunction at the range. Before you go to a gun range, make sure you know how to deal with various types of malfunctions calmly, sensibly, and above all safely. Call your RSO to your bay if you have any question about the malfunction (but be sure not to compromise safety in doing so).
Load your magazines with only five rounds at a time.
Five is an arbitrary number, but it is a good idea for several reasons to make a habit of loading a specific, small amount of ammo in your magazines every time at the range. Firstly, keeping count on your rounds fired with a specific magazine can help in determining if you’ve had a malfunction. For instance, if you pull the trigger and it goes “click”—or—if it fires and the slide locks back, does that mean the gun is empty or does it indicate a misfire or failure to feed? Knowing your shots fired vs. your magazine round count helps you to be sure of what’s going on. Also, most ammo boxes (especially those for handguns) are configured in rows of five, so loading five rounds in your magazine is useful in managing your shot sequences for specific drills.
Clean up.
Shooting at the range necessarily means that brass gets strewn about on the floor. Your range will have a way of dealing with that, which may include you cleaning up your own brass or the RSO may do it for you. If you’re not sure which is the proper policy, ask. Or better yet, offer to clean up for yourself using the broom or squeegee that is in the shooting bay for that purpose. If you’re saving your brass (for reloads or resale), be sure to tell the RSO before you begin shooting. In any case, be sure to clean up your brass before you leave the range.

After Shooting

Record the number of rounds you fired.
It’s a good practice to keep an accurate count on the number of rounds you’ve put through a gun. This helps with maintenance schedules and when attempting to diagnose a functional problem. In the event you decide to sell your gun, potential buyers will want to know how many rounds the gun has fired in its lifetime. I recommend you keep detailed records for each of your guns.
Maybe let the barrel cool.
After you’ve put 50 to 300 rounds through your gun, the barrel is likely quite hot and you should wait before packing it away in your range bag. When you’re finished shooting, lock the slide or bolt back, place the gun on the bench, and chill for a bit. Maybe watch other shooters (discretely) or have a brief chat with the RSO or other shooters who are hanging about. After a few minutes, check the slide/barrel for temperature and when it’s not so hot as to melt/burn your gun rag/bag, wipe it down and pack it away.
Wipe down your gear.
Before you put them away, wipe down your magazines and gun with a rag or towel. They’ll have gunpowder residue on them and even though you’ll clean them later, you don’t want to pack dirty gear away in your bag.
Wash your hands and face with cold water.
After shooting, especially if you shot a pistol, your hands will have visible gun powder stains on them, but what’s not necessarily visible is that your hands, bare arms, and face will have gunpowder residue on them. If you’re done, hopefully before you leave the range, go and wash your hands and face in cold water to remove the residue.

I hope this helped

When you’ve internalized your gun-safety habits and have acquired the minimum equipment, don’t wait—go to the range! Go alone or go with a friend, but go…and have fun. Then maybe share here in the comments how things went.