Monday, June 19, 2017

Defensive Pistol Skills By First Person Safety

I attended the Defensive Handgun class put on by First Person Safety this weekend.  First Person Safety is owned and operated by Chief Deputy Lee Weems.  Lee has a long resume of firearms and instructor training and has a very personable teaching style.  You can check out his credentials and mission statement on his website via the above link.

Lee observing students shooting from cover at the
twenty five yard line.

The class ran for about eight hours and required roughly 350 rounds of ammo.  The drills ran from three yards to twenty five yards, required the student to draw from a holster, shoot freestyle, dominant hand, non dominant hand, from a standing or kneeling position, and from cover.  Some drills required shooting a single target while others required shooting two targets or repositioning oneself in order to not hit a non-threat target.

The class started off with the usual sign-in and appropriate waivers.  Once that business was out of the way we went through a quick introduction, safety rules, and medical plan.  On that note, if you're planning on taking a class that doesn't have some sort of medical plan, contact info for EMS, and an emergency plan, you might want to reconsider taking that that class.  While range injuries are not common, you don't want to be the one to discover that the instructor and/or host hasn't made provisions for emergency treatment and possible evacuation while you've developed an unplanned leak or some other form of trauma that has the potential to be life changing.

Initial introduction and safety briefing.

The class started off with the students moving to the three yard line with their pistols and holsters but no ammunition.  This was the initial dryfire portion of the class in which the students were taught proper presentation of the pistol from the holster, proper reholstering, proper grip, trigger press, finding the reset point and using it during the follow up shot process, transitioning from the dominant hand to the non dominant hand safely, and trigger press with the non dominant hand.

Lee demonstrating proper grip technique
with a non-functioning 'blue gun'.

As the class progressed, Lee used the Crawl-Walk-Run training method to build upon skills learned in the prior block of instruction.  Students quickly went from dry fire or dry practice to live fire.  During subsequent blocks, skills learned in the previous block were reinforced as they were built upon.  I can't stress the importance of that enough.   All too many shooting classes quickly leave some students behind in an attempt to cram too much information in too quickly for some students to retain.  Such was not the case here.  Nor was it overly repetitive and monotonous.

Students working at the fifteen yard line from
a kneeling position.

The class culminated with a test of Lee's devising, which was the harder of the three.  The other two tests or qualifications were the FBI Qualification and the Georgia POST (Peace Officer Standards and Training) Qualification.  The First Person Safety Qualification incorporated lifestyle into the testing, students would start with a simulated cell phone in their dominant hand, non-dominant hand, and in both hands as if texting.  Verbal commands were also part of the test.  In other words, he incorporated lifestyle events into the test.

This class was well put together and flowed smoothly.  The heat was quite brutal on students and instructors alike with temperatures in the low nineties and the humidity near the same.  Demonstrations with explanations as to "why" flowed into dry runs and live runs.  At least one student had physical ailments and had to have assistance loading magazines on occasion.  The crowning achievement of the class was that of the youngest student, a mere lad thirteen years of age who was taking his first formal class passed the FBI Qualification.  That was with eight hours of instruction.  FBI trainees have roughly eight WEEKS of instruction and still have a fairly high failure rate.

As I've mentioned before in regards to Lee's shotgun classes, this is a good class to take, regardless of your skill level.

A few technical notes for those so interested.

There were ten students.
One Instructor.
Two Assistant Instructors.
Eight striker fired pistols.
Two Traditional Double Action Pistols.
Eight 9mm's.
One .45 ACP.
One .40 S&W.
One student ran a WML on his pistol.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

S&W 43C

  I've been looking for a small, lightweight revolver to fill a niche, specifically something smaller and lighter that is reliable and reasonably accurate.  I'll get to the reasonably accurate part in a bit, as I have certain criteria for that that requires a bit of explaining.

  I came across a Smith and Wesson Model 43C recently at a good price and picked it up to test.  The 43C is an all aluminum frame and cylinder J frame revolver chambered in .22 Long Rifle with a capacity of eight rounds.  It has a stainless steel barrel and an XS Sights white dot.  The revolver weighs a whopping 11.5 ounces.

My example was purchased used and has had a reduced weight Wolff mainspring installed.  The trigger pull weight is rather light and I had reservations about positive ignition, as the initial testing showed, those fears may be ungrounded.  Of the 142 rounds fired during the testing with various ammunition, there were only two Failure To Fire's which appeared to be ammo related.  To that point, let's take a look at the data.

The test parameters were conducted using a Dot Torture target.  I chose this for the convenient numbers for tracking purposes and a reasonably sized aiming point, 2 1/16" to the outside of the circle by my measurement.  The gun was cleaned by running a brass brush once through each cylinder and the barrel and wiping the cylinder face down with a clean, dry cloth.  All shots were performed from 3 1/2 yard, freestyle, in a rapid fire, (as in front sight, trigger press, recover front sight, trigger press, etc.) fashion.  I ran 16 rounds of all the various ammunition with the exception of one.

I ran 30 rounds of Sellier & Bellot, 38 grain, High Velocity, lead hollowpoints for my initial familiarization with the pistol.  I started the test with the same ammo.

Sellier & Bellot .22 Long Rifle HV HP:
16 rounds.
Sticky extraction requiring a sharp rap from my support hand to remove the empty cases.
No Failures To Fire.

Aquila Super Extra 40 grain HV
16 rounds.
Slightly sticky extraction.
No Failures To Fire.

Blazer 40 grain
16 rounds.
No Failures To Fire.
Slightly sticky extraction.

CCI MiniMag 36 grain HP
16 rounds.
Easy extraction on first cylinder, hard
with one finger on second cylinder.
No Failures To Fire.

Aguila Super Extra 40 grain, LRN, SV
16 rounds
#4 and #8 FTF, ammo related.
Slightly sticky extraction.

For fun!
Aguila Super Colibri, 20 grain
8 rounds.
EASY extraction!

One shot presentations from low ready from four and eight yards.  Each shot was fired at a dot numbered dot.

Aguila Super Extra 40 grain HV24 rounds.
No Failures To Fire.
Slightly sticky extraction.

In conclusion, I'm not satisfied with the accuracy exhibited thus far.  There's no reason to not be able to keep the shots within a 2" or smaller group from 3 1/2 yards.  I blame that on me more so than the 43C.  I've only recently started shooting revolvers with a coiled mainspring in a serious manner.  The ability to maintain a good sight picture throughout the entire trigger press is affected by the difference and the difficulty is magnified by the small grips and sight radius.  I don't view this as a hardware problem but as a software problem that I'll continue to address.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Run What You Brung

A potentially violent incident took place in my driveway a few nights ago.  A young man who had decided to dislike my son showed up with the intention of starting a fight.  My son urgently texted me requesting that I come outside.  As I went out the door, not knowing what the issue was, only that it was urgent I had two small flashlights, one a penlight style with a 90 lumen output and the other a compact 'tactical' style with a 180 lumen output.  A J frame sized .38 in my front pocket with a five round speed strip, a pocket knife of the one handed open variety, and my cell phone.

As I stepped outside i could see multiple figures at the end of my driveway, which is about fifty feet from my front door.  I had the penlight in my hand which provided enough illumination to verify one of the figures was my son along with two other young men.  I could tell things weren't quite right as I approached so I began my interview process to determine what exactly was going on and why my son urgently requested my presence.  After a brief bit of verbal byplay, questions, over played politeness on the part of the instigator, I finally came to a rough conclusion of what his intentions were and then proceeded to explain to him why his actions were poorly thought out, some of the consequences of his actions should he proceed, and eventually saw him and the third young man on their way home.

During the interview process I noticed the instigator was jittery.  He moved around a lot, his hands were busy, lots of grooming motions and so forth.  I had kept the 90 lumen penlight in my hand and it was still on, aimed at roughly waist level to keep all the players illuminated.  Every time the instigator would twitch I'd flash him in the eyes, it would distract him long enough to maintain control of the conversation and redirect whatever his intent might have been.

I found this particular interaction interesting when I was doing my mental After Action Report the following day.  I decided to do some research and have yet to find any conclusive findings about using a bright light as a Situation Management Tool, to borrow a term from Claude Werner, The Tactical Professor.  I do feel as if the idea has merit and will continue to look into the concept.

The other item of note that came up in my Post Incident Review was the equipment I had to work with.  I walked into a situation that might of had the potential to turn violent.  I had a pocket pistol, a very slow method of reload, two small lights, a pocket knife and a cell phone.  I waked out of my house with all sorts of defensive gear because why?  The situation was urgent and I didn't feel as if I had the time to gear up.  This forcefully reminded me that we will have to deal with situations with what we have at hand, not in the EDC bag, the truck, the safe, even in the next room.

I'm not going to try and convince folks to carry more gear.  If you want to do so, more power to you.  If you carry less, again more power to you.  What I am going to suggest is 1. Get involved in some sort of conflict management training.  2. Practice with your actual Every Day Carry gear.  Learn to incorporate that with the training you've received in conflict management.

Before I got around to editing and posting this, another incident came up in which a bright flashlight resolved a situation.

I live in the cul-de-sac of a single road subdivision.  Late on New Year's Eve my wife and I stepped out in the garage to chat and have a smoke.  We noticed a vehicle idling in the cul-de-sac as we talked.   When we lit up the truck pulled out and proceeded towards the entrance/exit of our neighborhood.  I thought that was suspicious and resolved to stay up a bit later to keep an eye on things.

A few minutes later the truck returned.  This time I had a bit more flashlight with me, one with a 320 lumen output.  In this case the light lit up the entire vehicle and the interior as they drove by.  The driver accelerated through the turn-around of the cul-de-sac and left to not return, leaving no doubt in my mind that the driver and passenger were up to No Good.

At this point I'm convinced that a good flashlight with decent output is a viable tool to resolve potential conflicts.  Like most tools, it has a specialized niche in which it's effective and should be used prudently.