Category Archives: Thoughts

Advice For Your First Shooting Class(es)

I’m writing this post for my friends who are looking at training, but are afraid they’re gonna do it wrong.

First of all, even training imperfectly is still an improvement over not doing it at all. You don’t know what you don’t know, and going to a shooting class is a great way to figure out those unknown unknowns in a safe, controlled environment.

But, if you want some specific suggestions about how to get the most out of your class, here’s a list I compiled from my experiences and some friends I talked with. Just to keep it real and less preachy, I’m also going to list when I failed at doing what I recommend.

Continue reading Advice For Your First Shooting Class(es)

Building Out The Katana: High-Speed Competition ARs

I recently built out a multi-gun AR on a pre-ban lower in an effort to create a rifle that would be more suited to shooting multi-gun competitions. I find that the full top-to-bottom of the parts selection process isn’t always discussed thoroughly, so that got me thinking that I should lay all of that out.

After the break are the elements of my “high-speed” AR, with some explanation of why I chose them.

Continue reading Building Out The Katana: High-Speed Competition ARs

A quick thought about multi-gun LPVOs

While I wait for my Razor HD GenIII 1-10x MOA/BDC to get delivered, I wanted to discuss multi-gun LPVOs, and why people don’t seem to get what makes for a good one.

What do you do in multi-gun? Shoot lots of not-small targets at distances of 10-500+ yards on a timer, usually in decent weather. This generates some requirements for our LPVO.

You need to be able to shoot at a distance without dialing in – quickly. I know a lot of people bash BDC reticles, but if you’re trying to hit a target at 475 yards on the clock followed by another target at 350, dialing isn’t an option. I don’t think most people are going to remember their holdover in mils for every 50yds in the middle of a competition. BDC is where it’s at.

Further, if you have an array of targets at 150yds, you do not necessarily want to have to dial to 6x/8x/10x to engage. FFP becomes important.

You need to be able to shoot close-in – quickly. Field of view is important for fast target transitions. Having a bright reticle that you can easily find in the sun is important. Being able to shoot both eyes open at 1x is important. Having a scope that doesn’t weigh your gun down is a nice thing.

So what are we looking for in an ideal multi-gun scope?

  • Efficient FFP/DFP BDC reticle compatible with our rifle/ammo. This may mean altering your rifle or ammo slightly. The reticle also needs to be easily usable at 1x.
  • Bottom end magnification of 1x, with a wide field of view.
  • Top end magnification as high as it can go – preferably 6x or higher.
  • Daylight bright illumination.
  • Ability to quickly change zoom levels (think magnification lever).
  • Lightweight, or at least not too heavy.
  • High-end glass clarity.

What makes the Razor GenIII interesting is that it meets all of those criteria. There are scopes that can compete with it – the S&B Short Dot coming to mind – but they all tend to be a lot more expensive.

Of course, there are a lot of quality scopes that meet some or most of those criteria, and they may be perfectly suited for other uses. For example, I have an SMRS 1-8.5x FFP scope that I really like on my AR-308… but it has a mil/mil reticle, it’s heavy, and it doesn’t go daylight bright (just daylight visible). It would just not be a great choice for a multi-gun scope. It’s probably a pretty great choice if I’m OK spending the time to dial in for that first shot hit on a 2MOA target, though.

There is also a whole school of thought that says that you can get by with an RFP scope with a good BDC reticle that doesn’t have daylight bright illumination because if you use the BDC, it will always be at max magnification. There is nothing wrong with this viewpoint, but I am a little suspicious that scopes with top-end magnifications of 8x or 10x might find it constraining for things like 200yd shots with fast transitions.

An email I wrote to a friend regarding home security

I’ve been quiet lately because all the ranges are closed, and classes and matches are getting cancelled. Dealing with the kids’ distance learning and working from home full-time has also been a combination of stressful and distracting.

One recurring theme I’ve seen online (and in person!) is that gun stores are getting hit hard by new gun buyers who are just figuring out that the state isn’t always the best thing to rely on to protect you in a crisis. I’d like to share an email I recently wrote (lightly redacted) I wrote to a friend when he asked me about home security. My response is not gun-oriented, but goes over options that include them. I’m not an SME, and doubtless left things off I shouldn’t have, but I think it covers a number of topics that people who are unfamiliar with protecting themselves should think about.

Continue reading An email I wrote to a friend regarding home security

SHOT Show Side Trips – Clark County Shooting Complex

I’m blessed to be spending this SHOT Show in the hospitality of family members who shoot, and they were fairly insistent that I at least see their county shooting facility before I departed. We went out this morning to the Clark County Shooting Complex, and I just have to say, it is a phenomenal facility. Huge number of trap stands, a shotgun sports multi-station course, and a 200yd rifle and pistol range. Best yet, it’s not even all that from the city – maybe half an hour or so. I could only wish for a place like this in the DMV area.

Sig had a big event out there on Monday and Tuesday, so I’m told.

2019 in Review, and Plans for 2020

One of my favorite posts to write last year – even if no one read it – was the 2018 in Review post. This was a review of the year, followed by some plans and goals for the next year. My shooting year is basically complete at this point, barring a couple of matches, so I think it’s time to start looking back so I can move forward.

Continue reading 2019 in Review, and Plans for 2020

Just enroll in the damn class. Stop making excuses.

I recently had a conversation with a shooting buddy of mine about his “class rifle”. It was a very well-thought out AR-15 build that he was slowly piecing together. Knowing this guy pretty well, I noted that he had a bunch of ARs already, and, to the best of my knowledge, had never actually taken a training class before in his entire life. He confirmed these facts to me, and then told me he was hoping to take a class with some YouTube celebrity I’d never heard of, and said trainer that didn’t even have a class scheduled in this area.

When I noted that there’s like half a dozen excellent training companies within like two hours of where we lived, he got kind of quiet and made some mumbled non-committal remarks. We then moved on to some other topics. But that conversation has stayed with me, because it seems like it’s a common line of thinking.

Continue reading Just enroll in the damn class. Stop making excuses.

The Stages of Shooter Development

A recent conversation on Facebook has gotten me thinking about “the journey” that shooters take in their (unending!) quest for mastery.

I see discrete stages of shooter development. The stages I define below are really oriented towards tactical/competition shooting with pistols and carbines, but I am sure extreme long-range and shotgun sports shooters will see some very similar patterns.

Continue reading The Stages of Shooter Development

The Saga of How I Fixed My AR-9 SBR

I’m going to record my AR-9 trouble-shooting process in this blog post so that maybe someone else can glean some insight into all the things that can possibly go wrong, and how to fix them… because I lived through them.

I bought a DDLES “Glock mag” AR lower from Gunbroker once upon a time because that was the hotness like five years ago, and hard to get hold of. It was a smoking deal; based on the person’s other sales item and lack of engraving on the lower, I suspect they had an illegal SBR they were parting out in an attempt to make it go away. I dutifully filed a Form 1 on it, waited G-d only knows how long, and bought a cheapo PSA upper to put on it – I think it was 10.5″, whatever it took to get it across the magic 29″ OAL floor we have in MD.

It was a terrible performer right out the gate. It didn’t eject right. It didn’t cycle reliably. It tore cartridges in half. But, last night, after months of work, I got it working. How? Read on.

Continue reading The Saga of How I Fixed My AR-9 SBR

The Downside of Competition on Firearms Development

I love competition. I have been slacking with doing it due to family commitments and taking up BJJ, but I’m hoping to do a bit more USPSA in July-September. Competition really drives the standard for speed, accuracy, and efficient movement, so I want to lead off the post by saying this isn’t some sort of variation on “competition gets you killed in the streets” or other nonsense. However, I just want to talk about how competition has had something of a negative effect on firearms development in a couple areas, because I think that has been inadequately explored.

First and foremost, I think factory compensated pistols have not been nearly as developed as they could be due to the fact that they dump you straight into USPSA Open division. Contrary to nonsense opinions on the Internet, good compensators make a noticeable difference with 9mm ammo, and I really think their downsides (cycling problems) could be greatly reduced if manufacturers spent some R&D time on resolving them.

Second, detachable-mag shotguns. As I think I’ve noted previously, Swearengen’s well-written 1970s-era book “The World’s Fighting Shotguns” extols the virtues of detachable-mag shotguns. He felt that if you were going into trouble, they were a superb weapon in almost any close-in environment (note that the book was written before the proliferation of effective body armor, though). While I readily acknowledge that they have logistical issues in a home defense situation, they put far more firepower on target in a sustained fire engagement (like 15+ rounds), can be changed from breaching to buckshot ammunition much more quickly, and provide certain benefits in gun handling and administration.

Unfortunately, that detachable magazine dumps your shotgun into 3 Gun Open (and maybe USPSA Open), which is a huge disincentive to their use in more casual competition settings (and makes pump guns with them completely unusable). Courses of fire and training classes are designed around the limitations (and sometime strengths!) of tube-fed guns. This leads people to downplay the advantages they bring, because they are never put into a situation where they need to use them. (I would suggest that shoot-load drills with more than three rounds are where detachable mag shotguns start looking substantially better.)

Honorable mention: IDPA is doing no one any favors by banning weapon lights. I don’t think this has significantly harmed the development of weapon lights, but it’s contrary to the IDPA “run what you brung” mindset.

Those are the two that come to mind. I’d love to hear if my readers can think of others.