Sunday, March 22, 2009

A Day At The Range

Just got home from the second part of "Tactical Pistol I". We mostly concentrated on using cover and movement, and LOTS of drills on clearing malfunctions. Always well worth spending time training, and even though I had the course a couple of years ago, I picked up some tips, and was told by both instructors that I've improved tremendously since I took my first tentative steps at serious training. Mostly, I don't get flustered if something goes not-to-plan, and just keep my wits about me and finish the drill. 8 out of the ten in class were very good, and the other two guys were beginners, but they improved a whole big bunch since last week.
I'm going to take "Tactical Shotgun I" in a couple of weeks, another course I had about 18 months ago. Since I don't take my 870 to the range very much, it'll be a really good refresher for me. The important things I learned before were proper aiming, and how to keep the thing running. Too many people have the impression that a 12 gauge shotgun sends an "Atomic Cone-Of-Death" at anything it's pointed at, and that's just not true. A shotgun has to be AIMED just as much as any other firearm, and at close ranges the pattern doesn't spread out nearly as much as most people think.
It also has a voracious appetite for shells, and learning how to reload it under stress is very important. Even with a magazine extension, you basically have a "Five Shooter" or "Six Shooter", and there's no speedloader or magazine to swap out in a hurry. Nope, you gotta stuff those shells in one-at-a-time, and learning how to do it efficiently is vitally important.


  1. Nothing is better than a good shotgun,the best being that old one dad or grand dad gave ya.

    But like any modern firearm used for self defense,one much know it,practice with it,and feed it proper munition for the purpose.

    You also brought truth to many of the myths concerning shotguns,most thanks to Hollywood,video games,and music videos.

  2. Oh, yeah! "How Do I Get To Carnegie Hall?"....practice, practice, PRACTICE!
    I do reloading drills with dummy rounds at least once a month with my 870, but I really should get to the range with it. Even firing bird-shot is better than snap caps at home.
    Another thing I learned was that a "Youth" stock was better for me, as it came to shoulder much easier, and much closer to being on-target as soon as it was in the pocket. I changed the stock after the last class, so I'll be interested in seeing how much better I shoot the drills with the shorter stock. We also learned patterning, and what was the 'best' round for our individual gun. The close-quarter drills firing at the heavy cardboard targets with a tee shirt over them was really eye-opening. At a distance of a few feet, the hole it blows through the target is good sized, and at ten feet or so it's amazing.
    I would NOT want to take a full-load of 00 buck at ten feet. It would be like literally going through a meat grinder.
    As my instructor is fond of saying "I'll use my 1911 to fight my way to my shotgun"!

  3. Nope, you gotta stuff those shells in one-at-a-time, and learning how to do it efficiently is vitally important.

    In a nutshell, if you can't reload, you're dead meat... And yeah, use the pistol to get to the shotgun, to get to the rifle... :-)

  4. And making sure your gun is tweaked a bit helps loading. The only thing I did during the last class was to take my Dremel with a "Cratex" cone in it and smooth out the SHARP edges of the loading port. I kept slicing my thumb on the edges before I smoothed them out. I work on cars and "Big Stuff" at work a lot, so I have pretty think skin on my fingers. It was quite a surprise to see red stuff dripping off my thumb at the end of the first session. Since I broke the sharp edges it's been tons easier to get the shells in.

  5. Trap, skeet and sporting clays tends to lay to rest the large "cone of death" shotgun patterning myth pretty damn quick.

    I found sporting clays instructive in that as I got rattled trying for the fast second shot I tended to not seat the stock firmly against my shoulder. The bruising was large, colorful and painful.

  6. Oh, yeah! Got a 12-ga "love bite", huh?


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