Tag Archives: Everyday Carry

SKILLS: Dry-Fire Practice With Lasers, Part Three

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This is the third and final installment of this series by Team Springfield Armory’s Kyle Schmidt. It really works wonders! READ ON

laser practice three

EDITOR’S NOTE: I ran Part 1 of this installment a spell ago. Find it HERE to refresh your memory. Part 2 is HERE. Good stuff! And it really works.

SOURCE: Team Springfield, Kyle Schmidt

In Part II of Dry Fire Practice With Lasers, I focused on Acceptable Sight Picture Drills. Let’s move forward now to some more-advanced laser drills.

REFINED TRIGGER PRESS — DRY PRACTICE DRILL
Once a shooter has identified (and hopefully improved) how well they are able to hold or keep the gun aimed on the desired target area — and they understand what an “acceptable sight picture” is, the next obstacle is to determine if they have the ability to press the trigger without moving the gun out of the intended target area.

To practice this technique, try my “Refined Trigger Press” (RTP) dry-practice drill.

laser target 1
LASER TARGET 1

RTP DRY-PRACTICE DRILL — PART I:
Place Laser Target 1 (with C-Zone side of the dry practice target facing you, above photo), at your desired distance.

Make sure the laser and sights are zeroed for this distance.

Aim the [unloaded] gun in the center of the C-Zone using the laser.

While watching the laser, start pressing the trigger.

Watch the dot closely as you press the trigger.

Does the act of pressing the trigger move the dot outside of the C-Zone? If it does, then while you are pressing the trigger, you are also moving the gun. Ideally when you press the trigger, you do NOT also move, push, pull, jerk the gun out of the intended scoring zone. You must learn to isolate the trigger finger so that the act of pressing the trigger does NOT move the gun out of the intended scoring zone. Repeat this drill until you see a noticeable improvement in the movement of the “dot”.

Once you have mastered the C-Zone, repeat and master the RTP Dry Practice Drill on:
The body A-Zone (Laser Target 2)
The entire, head (Laser Target 2)
The A-Zone head (Laser Target 1)
Finally the black 1-inch square

Once you have mastered each of the above zones, move back from the target, re-zero the laser for the new distance and start all over with the C-Zone, eventually going through each of the zones.

You can gradually increase the difficulty at one distance by reducing the target size, and then increase the difficulty again by increasing the distance.

laser target 2
LASER TARGET 2

Ultimately you are trying to find the level that is difficult for YOU and learn to master that.

Continue to experiment at different distances to see how well you can press the trigger while keeping the gun aimed in the desired scoring zone.

INSTANT TRIGGER PRESS — DRY PRACTICE DRILL
Once you have mastered the refined trigger press (RTP), you cannot stop there. That type of trigger press is rarely ever used, but it’s a great starting point for you to learn what is happening to the gun as you are moving the trigger.

If you want to shoot fast, some shots require that you develop the ability to instantly move the trigger from its at-rest position all the way to the rear position to fire the gun.

Try my “Instant Trigger Press” (ITP) dry practice drills to hone this skill.

ITP DRY PRACTICE DRILL — PART I:
Place Laser Target I (with the C- Zone side of the dry practice target facing you), at your desired distance.

Aim the gun in the center of the C-Zone using the laser.

While watching the laser, press the trigger as quickly as you can.

Watch the dot closely as you move the trigger.

Does the act of moving the trigger quickly move the dot outside of the C-Zone? If it does, it’s because you are also moving the gun. Ideally when you press the trigger you should not also move the gun out of the intended scoring zone, regardless of the pace you pull the trigger.

You may have to practice this drill hundreds of times before the movement diminishes on a consistent basis.

When you can easily pull the trigger quickly without moving the gun, move on to ITP Part II dry practice drill.

Once you have mastered the Instant Trigger Press in the C-Zone, repeat and master the ITP Dry Practice Drill on:

The body A-Zone (Laser Target 2)
The entire, head (Laser Target 2)
The A-Zone head (Laser Target 1)
Finally the black 1-inch square

Once you have mastered each of the above zones, move back from the target, re-zero the laser for the new distance and start all over with the C-Zone, eventually going through each of the above zones.

Continue to experiment at different distances to see how well you can quickly move the trigger while keeping the gun aimed in the desired scoring zone. It’s not as easy as it may seem, so I recommend practicing these drills on a regular basis.

 

SKILLS: Dry-Fire Practice With Lasers, Part 2

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Team Springfield Armory’s Kyle Schmidt shares some insight on a use of a laser sight that’s truly beneficial to shooting better. READ MORE

laser sight

EDITOR’S NOTE: I ran Part 1 of this installment a spell ago. Find it HERE to refresh your memory. Good stuff! And it really works.

SOURCE: Team Springfield, Kyle Schmidt

In Part I of ‘Dry Fire Practice With Lasers,’ I outlined the following:

Creating the dry fire targets, specifically Laser Target 1 and Laser Target 2
Attaching and zeroing the laser
Holding / Aiming Dry Practice Laser Drills

Let’s move forward now to some intermediate laser drills.

ACCEPTABLE SIGHT PICTURE — DRY PRACTICE DRILL
One of the more difficult concepts to get people to understand is the concept of an “acceptable” sight picture. If you’re like me, you were probably taught that “perfect sight alignment” requires:

The front sight perfectly centered in the rear sight notch
Equal lines of light / space on each side of the front sight
Front and rear sight perfectly level across the top

perfect sight picture

That sight alignment should then be placed perfectly in the center of the target before you should even start to move your trigger finger to the trigger.

Luckily for me, I was “un-brainwashed” of this filth by my buddy Rob Leatham many years ago. Not all shots require the above-mentioned “perfect sight alignment.”

We must learn what an “acceptable sight picture” is based on the difficulty of the shot.

An acceptable sight picture is a relatively difficult concept to explain because there are so many variables that affect how the sights appear from one shooter’s gun to the next. Target size, target distance, the type of sights, the sight radius, the length of the shooter’s arms, even the head position can affect how the sights look in relation to each other and how they correspond to the intended target.

And although I immediately understood the concept of an acceptable sight picture, it still took me a long time to really be able to apply it regularly.

When instructing, I use this dry-practice drill to help others better understand what an acceptable sight picture is, for the difficulty of the shot. The latter part of that sentence is very important! I would recommend first doing this drill at a relatively close distance, maybe 3 to 5 yards.

center c zone

ACCEPTABLE SIGHT PICTURE DRY PRACTICE DRILL:
Place Laser Target 1 (with the C-Zone side of the target facing you), at your desired (and zeroed) distance.

Aim the gun in the center of the C-Zone using the laser (above image).

Now look at the iron sights. They should also be lined up in the center of the target.

While watching the laser, start moving the front of the gun, and the laser dot, to the LEFT.

Try to keep the rear sight in the middle of the target and only move the laser and the front of the gun.

Stop once the dot from the laser reaches the left edge of the C-Zone (below image).

left edge of c zone

Shift your eye focus back to the iron sights.

If the rear sight is still in the middle of the target where you started, then look where the front sight is. It should be really far to the LEFT. If you are only a few yards from the target, the front sight will likely be completely hidden behind the rear sight.

This is how mis-aligned your sights can be to still be aimed in the C-Zone of the target. Pretty amazing, right?

When you are done being mesmerized and you’ve finished trying to convince yourself this can’t be possible, repeat this drill a few more times. Then move on to the right side of the target:

Aim the gun in the center of the C-Zone using the laser.

Now look at the iron sights. They should also be lined up in the center of the target.

While watching the laser, start moving the front of the gun, and the laser dot, to the RIGHT.

Try to keep the rear sight in the middle of the target and only move the laser and the front of the gun.

Stop once the dot from the laser reaches the right edge of the C-Zone (below image).

right edge of c zone

Shift your eye focus back to the iron sights.

If the rear sight is still in the middle of the target where you started, then look where the front sight is. It should be really far to the RIGHT.

Now repeat the drill two more times, but use the top and bottom of the C-Zone.

top c zone

Make a mental note each time you do each drill so you can recall the positioning of the sights later.

Once you get a good feel for the C-Zone, use Laser Target 2 (flip the target over to the A-Zone side) and repeat the drill, left, right and top, bottom.

left a zone top a zone bottom a zone

Although the A-Zone is substantially narrower than the C-Zone (almost by half), notice that you could have quite a bit of sight mis-alignment and still be in the A-Zone.

Once you figure out the body A-Zone, move up to the head and see if you can keep the dot in the head reliably.

Next, use Laser Target 1 (flip the target back over) and move up to the head’s A-Zone.

Finally use the 1-in. black square of tape for your aiming spot.

You should continue to experiment at different distances to see how mis-aligned the sights can be, even out to 25 yards and still be in the corresponding scoring zone. (Remember you need to make sure the laser is zeroed with the sights for whatever distance you are experimenting at.)

As long as the laser is “aimed” in the desired scoring zone, the corresponding sight picture would be “acceptable.” All that is left is to fire the gun.

CHECK OUT LASER SIGHTS HERE

 

SKILLS: Advantages To Competing With Your Carry Gun

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Competition creates competence, and Team Springfield’s Ivan Gelo reveals 4 big reasons why. KEEP READING

ivan gelo

SOURCE: Team Springfield, Ivan Gelo

When I began my life of daily carry almost 30 years ago, I carried what was approved and available. My respect of the .45 ACP round goes this far back, as that is when I chose to purchase a single stack .45 ACP as the handgun which would reside in my holster. I actually opted out of the .357 revolver that was department issued at the time.

Not long after, I began seeking out some of the best firearms shooting and training that was available. Living in a shooting mecca, I quickly caught the match shooting “bug.” It was in those early years that I met fellow Springfield Armory SMEs Steve Horsman, Kyle Schmidt, and some guy who was often seen riding wheelies around the range on his mountain bike. You guessed it — this multi-tasking dude was Rob Leatham. Being able to compete with shooters of all levels, from beginners to Master Class World Champions was both inspiring and awakening.

I decided then and there that for the majority of my match shooting, I would compete with some form of my duty or daily carry firearm.

CARRY OPTIONS
Fast-forward many years to the introduction of the Springfield Armory XD line of firearms. Since then, the XD(M) in 9mm has been one of my two primary carry / duty companions. In addition, it is the handgun I shoot in USPSA Production, IDPA Stock Service Pistol, and multi-gun matches. My second carry / duty handgun is a Springfield Lightweight Operator in 45 ACP. #EqualAdmiration

STOCK OPTIONS
Other than adding grip tape and experimenting with various iron sight combinations, my XD(M) pistol is in its factory stock condition. The only trigger enhancement that I have done is by way of hard use and repetition. The trigger components have refined one another simply by the thousands of rounds of 9mm ammunition that’s been fired through the gun.

ADVANTAGE, ME
I teach a lot of classes — from the novice shooter and the new police academy recruit, to the veteran SWAT officer and experienced competition shooter. Not only do I compete with the gun I carry, I teach with the same. Why, you may ask? Well, it’s simple, because there are so many advantages to competing with your carry gun.

1. TRAIN LIKE YOU FIGHT
I have thoroughly enjoyed attending Pat McNamara’s TAPS classes; his energy, shooting skill, experience and sarcastic sense of humor (at times) make him a great instructor. “Mac” brought to the forefront the reflection of the “overused axiom” of “train like you fight”. Understanding the history and actual concept behind this mantra still holds a lot of merit and is certainly applicable in the arena of competing with your carry gun.

The consistent use of your daily carry handgun in competition will pay dividends if you ever have to use your handgun in “real life”.

Anyone who competes regularly has done thousands of under-pressure first shot draws. This repetition, which is done on every stage of a match, assists the daily carrier’s tendons, bones and muscles in learning the precise angle the wrists need to be aligned for consistent, repeatable, proper sight alignment during a draw or presentation of the gun.

ANGULAR APPROACH
It’s a known fact that different handguns have different grip angles. This angle needs to be “learned” to the point where the draw is a reflective action. Much like shooting baskets in basketball, the mind integrated with the body, learns how much input, angle of release and arch needs to be applied to make the ball go into the bucket. This can only happen through repetition.

The draw is no different, and that grip angle is one of the reasons I like the XD(M)so much. The different-sized replaceable grip inserts allow a custom fit to the shooter’s hand. The XD(M) grip angle is also very similar to my other favorite carry gun, my Springfield 1911.

TIMING IS EVERYTHING
Each model of the wide variety of available handguns has a different, even if ever so slight, recoil impulse or timing. This feel and response also varies with different ammunition, even in the same caliber.

Shooting my XD(M) carry gun in competition helps me better understand the timing of my handgun. Acquiring the recoil / timing knowledge and experience of my defensive handgun enables me to shoot faster and more accurately. #BecomeOneWithTheGun

Shooting often in a competition setting — training — with the gun you may have to use in a lethal force encounter — defending lives — can only benefit you and those you protect and care about the most.

2. EXPENSIVE CUSTOMIZATION NOT REQUIRED
Most competition shooters eventually modify their firearms and/or end up purchasing brand new highly-customized guns for the sport. #ChaChing

Not me.

My XD(M) is the standard 4.5 inch 9mm model — again, it’s the handgun I compete with, as well as my basic duty / daily carry firearm. This particular Springfield has performed these multiple functions for me for almost a decade. During this time, I have spent little money to modify the gun. With the simple addition of grip tape and fiber optic sights, my cost to customize has been kept to a minimum.

USPSA Production and IDPA Stock Service Pistol divisions have been a perfect fit for me and my 9mm XD(M). The gun has served me extremely well, at a very cost-effective price point and I have no doubt it will continue to do so for many more years — in both competition and defensive roles.

3. THOROUGH TESTING & COMPLETE CONFIDENCE
Let me ask you a couple of questions:

How many rounds have you fired in the last couple of months with your carry gun?
Under what conditions have you shot your carry gun?
Do you have complete confidence in the reliability of your carry gun?
Do you have complete confidence in your ability to shoot your carry gun?
Within 20 rounds or so, I can tell you exactly how many rounds I have fired through my daily carry XD(M) in the last month.

MATCH REPORT
On the date of writing this article, I shot a 5-stage USPSA club match in northern Arizona. It had hit 105 degrees in the Phoenix area and summer had just started, so getting out of the excessive heat, if only for a day, was welcomed.

As with most USPSA matches, there were some very technical shots:

A “standards” stage with shots out to 50 yards.
Stages with a series of close, mostly open targets, where you can run the gun as fast as possible — with splits in the low teens.
Aiming-oriented stages with several “head” shots.

Everyone who shot the match was tested in a variety of situations, and all of this was done under the time and pressure of the clock. There are few better tests you will encounter with your daily carry firearm that require the variety of skills that matches offer.

RELIABILITY REQUIRED
Don’t discount the reliability of your gun, associated magazines, and ammunition used during a match setting either. Not only is it very important to your score, but the reliability of this same equipment during a lethal force encounter is CRITICAL.

Want to further test your carry firearm? Want to have complete confidence in your personal defense / carry gun? Make the commitment to shoot it consistently at your local matches.

4. TEACHING CRED
Any instructor worth their salt will always demonstrate the drills that they require of their students. And it brings even more credibility when these same demonstrations are done with a firearm that is similar to what the majority of the students are using or carrying.

The students will not only respect that you are shooting with them, but it’s almost more important that you are doing it with the same type of firearm, a firearm that they are also using and/or carrying for everyday personal defense.

To date, I have never regretted my decision to compete with my EDC / Duty pistols. My Springfield 9mm XD(M)® is still one of my favorite multi-use tools with great features.

XDM

So compete with what you carry, and rest assured that you will have the advantage at your next match AND every day as you get dressed and walk out your door.

SKILLS: Consistency Is King

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Finding yourself right smack in the middle of harm’s way can give pause even to the hardest of the hard. However, chance favors the prepared. READ MORE

steve tarani

SOURCE: Team Springfield, Steve Tarani

Ask any real-world tier-one operator about preparation, and he will tell you that one of the most effective tactics in your personal defense arsenal is consistency.

Hailing from the operational world, none other than the granddaddy of soft skills — situational awareness — should remain paramount in your preparedness repertoire. Utilized more than any other soft skill, or hard skill for that matter, situational awareness is a staple to the seasoned operator.

SOFTWARE VS HARDWARE
Compare the last time you employed your situational awareness (SA) versus your firearm in a real-world scenario. The number of times you employ SA far outweighs the number of times you go to guns in a day, a month, a year, or a lifetime. Only by continual practice can you build that consistency over time. As useful as it is, the more you use it, the more comfortable you will be using it, and the less effort it takes to employ.

When it comes to hardware, you may want to consider which every day carry (EDC) tools best fit your personal profile. Best case scenario, your operational environment allows you handgun carry. If this is the case, then you would need a comfortable, quality holster, at least one spare magazine and a magazine pouch. The position on your body that this lifesaving equipment is carried should remain consistent.

In other words, don’t carry your blaster on your hip one day and then appendix the next day or change the position of your spare magazine(s). If you carry inside the waistband (IWB) appendix with a spare mag, then those same carry locations should remain consistent every time you strap them on.

DON’T BE LEFT IN THE DARK
Another important piece of gear, with or without a firearm, is a flashlight. It gets dark every single day. You could be in a building in the middle of the day and the power goes out, or you may need to go through a closet, attic, or basement with low or no ambient light.

Working on a protective services assignment, I was attached to a detail in charge of protecting a high-profile VIP at an equally high-profile televised event. Our team was directed to a holding area with several other protective teams, including the protectees.

Three protection teams, with their respective VIPs were moved to behind the filming stage in waiting for their entrance que. On the televised side of the stage it was brightly lit, but behind the stage curtain it was pitch black. Of all three teams, not one protective agent had a flashlight on them except for me. Flicking on my EDC hand-held flashlight I said, “Please watch your step, Sir,” as I directed our protectee up the backstage steps. The other teams flocked to my light like moths to a flame. Lesson learned: carry a flashlight and carry it in the same place every time so you can quickly access it without looking. Again, consistency reigns.

CARRY CONSISTENTLY
Carry your gun in the same position — as well as your knife, magazines, pen, glasses, flashlight, cell phone, first aid kit, and/or any medications — all in the same location on your limited personal real estate.

Extend this consistency practice to your personal training when you go to the range. Your eye and ear protection, sunscreen, cleaning kit, and the like, should always be in the same place so even at night, in complete darkness, you can find what you’re looking for without wasting any time.

Carrying the same gear in the same location every time ensures that you can get to it in complete darkness, in thick smoke, during a sandstorm (don’t think just the Middle East — there are places the likes of TX, NM, and AZ, where dust devils can impair your vision in broad daylight). The same applies to sleet, snow, and other natural or man-made causes of visual impairment. Consistency remains the “A” answer.

DEMAND RELIABILITY
Once you build consistency into your operational profile, like anything else, you can come to rely on it. What this can guarantee is, when you move your hand to that pocket, or that area on your body under duress and expect to find certain kit, there it will be waiting for you, accessible, available, when you need it — on demand.

When you train presenting your firearm, you practice clearing your cover garment(s), defeating any holster-retention devices and developing your draw stroke so that one day should you need it, that consistency will pay dividends on time invested. The same applies to reaching for that spare magazine, or pocket knife, or flashlight, all very useful EDC items. You purchased them because you need them — helpful tools for when the time comes. If you need one of them, there it is, right where you put it, ensuring accessibility and rapid deployment. You know you can rely on them, where they are, and that you can get to them in a timely manner. You are guaranteed this reliability, because you run your gear knowing that consistency is king.

To learn more about training conducted by Steve Tarani, go to Steve’s websites:

HandToGun.com

SteveTarani.com

About the author: Steve Tarani is a former CIA protective services subject matter expert who served on Donald Trump’s pre-election protection detail and is the lead instructor for the NRA’s new Non-ballistic Weapons Training program offered nationally to 2.3 million members. Tarani, an active protective agent, is a Central Intelligence Agency and FLETC-certified federal firearms instructor who also provides services for the US Naval Special Operations Command, FBI National Citizens Academy Alumni Association, National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO), and others.