Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Why we never stop training…

Training is one of the most important things you can do as a shooter. It doesn’t matter if you are new to the sport or been shooting for 50 years, there is always something you can learn. Actually if you’ve been shooting 50 years, there are probably a lot of things you can be reminded of!    :-)  

Training can be reading and then practicing what you read. For most people the most effective way to learn is with an instructor. It can be expensive, so you want to plan your training to get the most benefit. Choose your trainers carefully, read reviews, understand what their style is and what will be covered before you commit. Is the course at the right level for you? A class that addresses the basic fundamentals may be boring for an experienced shooter, and a fast paced, shoot 5000 rounds in a weekend while moving and drawing from concealment could cause a new shooter to go home, sore, frustrated and scared!

It can be good to go back and revisit fundamentals if it has been a long time, but be prepared for the material, and pay attention, even if you think you know it already. There have been a lot of changes over the years and you will probably learn something new or hear it presented in a new way.

If you are an instructor already, consider asking another instructor if you can sit in on one of their classes, and offer them the same courtesy. You can learn a lot just seeing how someone else presents the material.

Remember, train as if your life may depend on it.

Safe Shooting!

Monday, January 30, 2012

NTYDTTRD Logo!

Yea!  Thank you Crystal of Stiches-n-Stones.com!

I hope you all like it!!

Targets - what do you use?

Ah, the choice of targets.  Everyone has a favorite.  Some specifc instances require a specific target type, but for go to the range practice?  My favorite technique is to flip whatever stack of targets I have around so they are blank and stick either a 3 inch or if I'm feeling adventerous a 1/4 inch round sticker in the middle and send it down range.  Yep, no fancy rings, number, shapes...just a dot.  I see a lot of folks bring white paper plates to the range.  Paper Coasters work really well, too.  They don't have to be fancy, just give you a focus point.

One of the things my instructor says is "Aim Small, Miss Small".  If you get used to focusing on a small point, you will tend to shoot that small point unless you are doing something wrong, generally with aim or trigger control, both of which can be corrected. 

Besides, there is significant satisfaction to hitting it just right and have the dot fly off the paper!  :-) 

I like to say, "Practice as if your life may depend on it". 

Safe Shooting!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Instructor Tip – Refocusing the Hyper Excited Student


Sometimes, you get out to the range and find yourself with a very excited student.  All he wants to do is fill up the magazine and rapid fire like he has seen in the movies.  I write "he" because, frankly, women don’t usually have this issue.  It is up to you, the instructor, to re-focus your student and get him to focus on the fundamentals.  As a new shooter, rapid firing 9mm rounds, he will be lucky to get shots on paper, let alone a respectable grouping.  If allowed to continue, he will escalate, getting more hyper and shooting worse.  In the end, he will be frustrated, and tired, from all the adrenaline.  It will not have been a positive experience.  That is not the goal. 

You need to “interrupt the behavior cycle”.  Yes, there is a term for it.  As he is spinning up, you need to gently, but firmly, bring him back down.  There are always different ways to do that, it depends on your personality and your student.  When it happened with me, I had him clear and lay the gun on the table, step back out of the booth and take a couple deep breaths.  Then, I circled my hands wide and brought them together in front of me while telling him he needed to center, like The Karate Kid.  Once he quit laughing, he did, and the cycle was interrupted.  We went back into the booth, I had him load 3 rounds in the magazine and fire them one at a time.  He went from all over the cardboard to drilling the 3 inch sticker I had put on the paper.  He was able to do this consistently, and after a couple reloads, I was comfortable letting him fill the magazine to capacity, and he calmly shot the sticker off the paper. 

What could have been a miserable experience turned into a happy, high-fiving student who was smiling as he left the range with his completion certificate and his souvenir target with a nice tight grouping.

Safe Shooting

Friday, January 27, 2012

For the Sheer Joy

Years ago (more than I care to admit) I took flying lessons, even soloed a few times, but got to a point where it was too expensive to keep going and gave it up.  Learning to fly is pretty intense.  My instructor, who had been a pilot for over 40 years, once told me; “sometimes you just have to punch holes in clouds.”  That was his way of telling me I needed to relax and just go, have fun, fly for the sheer joy of being up in the air.

With the craziness of the past week, the incredible response to National Take Your Daughters to the Range Day, and the associated stress of trying to pull an infrastructure together in record time so we don’t lost the momentum I’ve been losing sleep, grinding my teeth and generally grumpy.  Ok, there is another word for it, rhymes with witchy, but I don’t know who is reading this.  J

My new friend, and NTYDTTRD supporter, Cathi, reminded me I need to relax, go to the range and let go of the stress.  In doing that she reminded me why we started this project.  For a moment I had lost sight of that.  It is about the sheer joy and fun of shooting. 

My plan is to go to the range this weekend and blow holes in paper.  I’m not going to work on my next Winchester Rocker, I’m not going to practice my drills, I’m not going to do anything except relax, let the lead fly…downrange of course…and let my stress go downrange with it.  Why?  For the sheer joy of it. 

Thank you all for your support and patience.  Hopefully within about two weeks I will have finished by part of the infrastructure and will be able to focus on getting materials out, registering participating ranges, and planning the local event I will co-host.  Until then…I’ll keep going to the range and letting the lead, and the stress, fly downrange. 


Safe Shooting

National Take Your Daughter to the Range Day Update

What an amazing response!!!  However, it caught us a little by surprise!  We, my co-founder and I, have been scrambling to put together a plan, form a corporation to oversee everything, get a website put together, get a logo, organizational materials, etc.

I don’t want to lose any of this amazing momentum that has built, which is why I’m trying to keep you all informed as much as I can.  We’ve heard from a lot of ranges, and people who are talking to the ranges, about hosting an event Jun 9.  YEA!

Watch the FB page, as soon as the website goes live, you will be able to contact us through the site and register your range as a host, at that point I will also send you electronic versions of promotional materials, the logo, suggestions for hosting, a liability waiver, etc., and put you on a group list for updates. 

One of the plans is that the website will have a map of the US.  You will be able to click on your state and see a list of participating ranges and their contact information.  You will also be able to see a list of national level sponsors and there will be a link for anyone who would like to be a national level sponsor.

Donated goods will be distributed to host ranges via random drawing about 30 days prior to the event.  We don’t have any yet, but hope to.  Also, we are encouraging local sponsors to help with your costs and provide giveaways or prizes. 

Please be patient with us.  We are all very excited about this and are working as fast as we can to get it put together.  The only thing we ask in return is that after the event you send us feedback on how to improve the processes for next year, and that you send photos that we can post to share the joy of the day.  If the pictures are half as cute as many that have turned up on FB, I can’t wait!  I can’t respond to them all but I do try to read all the posts.  So many smiles!  Those faces tell me we are on the right path, and this will be an amazing day for all of us.

Thank you for your support.

 Sorry, “we” is Lynne Finch (co-founder and Director of NTYDTTRD, Inc), Evan Carson (co-founder and Director of NTYDTTRD, Inc), and Russ Charlesworth, (Director of NTYDTTRD, Inc.)



Safe Shooting!

3000+!!!!!!!!!

Ok, I’m jumping up and down.  3000+ page views in two months.  At the risk of sounding like Sally Field, I think you like me!  LOL.  Seriously, the feedback, comments and new friends have made this blog a labor of love, and I feel I have found my voice.  I enjoy sharing ideas and suggestions and reading the feedback and I even enjoy struggling to come up with a new topic.

Pageviews all time history              3,001

Thank you so much…drum roll please…..Congratulations to GunDiva!  Please email me at Lynne@InnovativeDefensiveSolutions.com to let me know where to send your gift!  I hope you like it.  It is a small token of appreciation.

I wish I could send all of you something, but…unless I have the winning Mega Millions numbers, I can’t do that, so I’m sending all of you my thanks and my hopes that you stay safe, stay happy, and continue to share your gifts with the world.

Safe Shooting!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Shooting with a Friend!

You all know I love shooting, and find it more relaxing the yoga, meditation, or almost anything, except maybe petting one of my cats and having her purr.  Yep, that is probably the only thing that comes close to sending lead down range and punching holes in paper.  How can you make that time more fun for you?

For many of us, shooting with a friend is a great way to make it more fun.  You have someone to talk to if you have to wait for a lane.  You can share guns, have a little friendly competition, even learn from each other.  I learn something every time I shoot with someone else, be it a friend, another instructor, or a student!  You can also encourage each other. 

Sometimes I like to go alone, I want to focus on speed drills, or drawing and firing, or really work on accuracy.  Then, it is better for me to be alone, and I time my trip so that I don’t have to wait long for a lane. 

Sometimes I want to enjoy the companionship of another shooter.  What if you don’t know anyone?  Go to your local range, look around, see who is smiling and go say “Hi!”.  Gun people are almost universally friendly!  Take a class and make plans to go shoot with some of the people from your class.  It is a good bet you are on similar levels if you are in class together.  I’ve seen a lot of people come together and form supportive shooting friends over coffee and bagels on a break. 

Whether you are a solo or a group shooter, be safe, have fun and ENJOY!

Safe Shooting!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

How do I say Thank You?

You, my readers, have given me so much.  Your time, your attention, your thoughts and insights, your encouragement…In less than two months I went from my very first tentative post to over 2500 page views.  I am truly humbled and overwhelmed.  I feel like I have a whole community of new friends!  I know, I don’t get mushy often.  J 

To show my appreciation I would like to send a small gift to one lucky reader to be randomly drawn from those who respond to this post (or email at the address in the About Me information to the right). 

When I hit 3000 I will draw a name and contact you to find out how to mail you my thank you.

Practice Safe, Be Safe, Safe Shooting all!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

National Take Your Daughter to the Range Day Update

Wow, so much going on.  The response has been overwhelmingly positive.  So many have volunteered to help and many to organize events in their area!  THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!

Here is where we are.  I filed for a non-profit corporation in order to have a solid foundation from which to solicit donations.  Non-profit isn’t a tax deductible charity, which would be very hard to get, but it does mean we are putting all funds raised toward the expenses related to the event.  The idea being this will become an Annual event and hopefully we can get some great gifts donated to be given away to registrants.  If we get some good stuff this year, what I might do is a drawing among each host range, and then they can give the prize to a local participant. 

I have a volunteer graphic artist (Crystal) who is working on a logo for us.  I have a lady (Cathi) who is a writer / editor who has volunteered to help with printed materials.  I have had lots of instructors and RSOs volunteer, and been contacted by a great store about possible giveaways.

We have a couple national sponsors already.  There will likely be a website in the near future, stay tuned to FB for updates on that.

We should be announcing the date sometime within a week, probably a Saturday in June.

My plan is to put together electronic copies of a waiver, suggestions for how to run an event, promotional flyers, etc., and make them available to anyone who want to host…FREE!  Hard to beat that.  We will likely have logo items available for sale (at cost if possible).  Local events can do some fundraising.  But, even some home made cookies and a few balloons can make an outdoor range festive and fun.  It isn’t about being fancy or expensive, it is about families bonding through the sport of shooting, and young women learning a new skill, and the self esteem that comes with that. 

Start thinking about where you could put on a shoot in your area.  Recruit local instructors to volunteer their time to help out on the day. 

Let me know if you have any ideas.  Once things are put together I will publish a list and a contact point, and you can start requesting the materials. 

I’m excited.  I think this is a great opportunity and I appreciate all of you for getting behind it.  This is why I love the shooting community.

Thank you to the sponsors so far;
Female and Armed Blog (of course)
Innovative Defensive Solutions, LLC (www.InnovativeDefensiveSolutions.com)
Charlesworth Enterprises, Inc
Stiches-n-Stones (www.Stitches-n-Stones.com)
Gun Goddess (www.gungoddess.com)

Safe Shooting!!

Learning to Shoot with my Weak Hand

Who knew, what a challenge!  One handed, no problem, two hands?  Well, all thumbs comes to mind.  Why would I put myself through that?  Two reasons, I teach and need to know how to do everything with a left or right handed shooter, and to satisfy a course of fire in the Winchester NRA qualification package.

There are practical reasons also.  What if I injure my right hand?  What if my carpal tunnel flares again and I can’t shoot with my right hand?

Most semi-automatics are configured for the right handed shooter.  It can be a challenge.  I’ve seen many left hander’s simply switch the gun to the opposite hand to release the magazine and lock the slide.  However, in an emergency situation, when fractions of a second count, you don’t have time to do that. 

The Magazine release wasn’t too tough.  The slide lock, once I was shown how, was surprisingly easy.  Holding the pistol in your left hand, in the normal grip, using your right hand to overhand and draw back the slide you simultaneously push up on the slide lock with the side of your index finger.  It is in that general area anyway since it is up on the frame.  Easy?  Not at first, but with practice, sure! 

Always a good idea to know how to do things with either hand.  For experienced shooters, it can make shooting feel new again as you are learning a new skill.  For left hander’s you can save precious seconds by not transferring your gun to your weak hand. 

Safe Shooting!

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Brass Dance…Dressing for your Trip to the Range

I’ve joked that that are two types of shooters.  Those who have done the brass dance and those  who will do the brass dance. 

There is an almost mystical attraction between hot brass and cleavage.  I have even had hot brass slip down inside a turtleneck!  If you shoot long enough, you will get hit with brass.  Instructors, who are up close and personal with their students, leaning in to watch their fingers, gun and eyes will have brass bounce off their faces, protective eyewear, and various other body parts.  I seem prone to having it bounce off my nose. 
You can minimize your risk, where a high neck top, closed toe shoes (imagine hot brass stuck between your toes!).  When the brass gets someplace it shouldn’t, like next to your skin, it hurts!  It can be difficult, but you must remember to respond calmly and safely.  Keeping your gun pointed downrange, lay it down on the shooting table, step back out of the booth or firing station, and then…do what you need to do.  You may get some chuckles from the other shooters, but we have all been there.  The typical brass dance looks like something between a bad Dancing with the Stars moment and a strip.  When I got brass down my turtle neck I had raise my outer shirt, un-tuck my turtleneck, and flap like a hot flash (no pun intended) to get it out! 

Be prepared, it happens.  Minimize your risk, and when it happens, remember to respond safely for your sake, and those around you, and then…do whatever you need to do!  We will all understand.
Safe Shooting.

Friday, January 20, 2012

What do you say to a National Take Your Daughter to the Range Day?

I read some wonderful responses to my question about why did you start shooting.  I had usually heard about the violence, threats, self defense...so many women wrote about shooting with their Dad growing up and learning to love the sport.  Wow, opened my eyes!!!  And it made me think.  What is we, the shooting community, get behind the idea of an Annual Nation-wide Take Your Daughters to the Range Day?

We can pick a date, work with our local ranges to publicize...teach young women that shooting is fun, empowering and a great activity for the whole family?

Interested?  I would love to hear from you.  We need to pick a day, design a logo and make it available to anyone who wants to use it, maybe get ranges to sponsor with special gifts...

If you want to send me a message privately, email me through the link in my profile to the left, or, post a reply below.  We can do this. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

What brought you to shooting?

For so many of us, it was a violent, or threat of violent, act that brought us to gun training.  What keeps us here is the love of the sport, the joy of shooting, and the empowerment that comes from knowing you can defend yourself.

If you are one of the many who discovered firearms in this way, it is important to remember, you are valuable, you are worthwhile, you have the right to defend yourself and people would miss you if you were taken away. 
I’ve talked to several women who came to shooting in this way.  It seems to be a common thread that they felt foolish or alone for having been in a bad situation.  We all make mistakes, and bad guys are really good actors.  You are never to blame when someone chooses to target you.  That is their decision.  The only thing you can control is your response.  Counseling helps.  Talking to others who have been there, helps.  Knowing you are not alone, helps.  Learning that you are a strong, worthwhile person who is capable of defending yourself and your family helps…a lot!

If you have come to the community that way, I’m sorry, but Welcome.  If you are fortunate enough to come to this community from a positive experience, Welcome. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

If Only…

If Only, two small words, 6 letters, but you put them together and they carry so much weight.  If only, words I hope I never have to use again. 

If only I had trusted my intuition…
If only I had not left my gun at home…

If only I had paid attention to my surroundings…
Powerful words, powerful sentiment…

Carrying a gun is a tremendous responsibility.  You hold yourself to a higher standard than the average citizen.  You are prepared and ready to defend your life, and those of others if called to, but it will be because someone else made the decision for you.  To carry a gun, you are choosing to respond, but also choosing not to initiate.  You are accepting an awesome responsibility, and risks.  You must be aware of your surroundings.  You must be able to read what is happening and make a judgment in seconds, or less.  Then, you must be able to articulate why you made the judgment you did.  What clues did you see, what things did you sense, what actions tipped you off that there was trouble? 
Using your gun to defend yourself will likely change your life.  There may be legal consequences.  There may be social consequences.  You may suffer emotionally.  Some family and friends will see you as a hero, some may see you as an abomination. 

Remember, you are important, your life is important, you have the right to defend yourself.  You do not choose to initiate a confrontation but you choose to fight when someone else make the choice to start. 
If only…words I hope you never have to use.

Safe Shooting!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Working with Innovative Defensive Solutions

I’ve gotten a few requests for more information about who I teach with.  So, it is time for a little promotion.  I’m an adjunct instructor with Innovative Defensive Solutions, LLC.  They are a small, but growing, company in Northern Virginia.  You can check the website for course offerings and calendar, www.innovativedefensivesolutions.com.  Evan Carson and Dave K. are the two guys at the top. 

I met Evan when I first inquired about taking a Pistol Instructor Course.  I was hesitant, not sure I was ready.  We met, went to shoot, and in minutes he recognized two mistakes I was making and took me from a 6 inch grouping to about a 1.5 inch grouping.  All without ever being macho, condescending, or making me feel silly for thinking I could actually do this.  He encouraged me to stretch, helped me find my voice and led me to recognize my passion for sharing this wonderful sport called shooting.  I’ve heard some horror stories about instructors, and have met a couple that I wouldn’t have been comfortable with.  But these two men, while tough, strong and very capable, are funny and caring and sincerely interested in passing on knowledge and skills in a safe and supportive manner.  They have been busy pulling in more instructors to work with them that share the passion, caring and attitude that drew me in.  The training team has people with amazing backgrounds, a variety of skills, years of combined experience…but all with a common goal - to share knowledge in a safe, supportive environment. 
IDS offers a variety of NRA, NRA Instructor and IDS proprietary courses.  New material is being developed for the future.  They are also looking at offering some women only classes in the near future. 

I am truly lucky to have found them, and to be associated with such talented people. 
I believe in formal training.  I believe that each student, regardless of their skill level should be treated with respect.  That is what I see from IDS, LLC, and that is why it is my honor to be associated with them.

I hope to see some of you in a class!
Safe Shooting!


Sunday, January 15, 2012

Cleaning my Gun!

Why do I like to clean my gun?  Several reasons.  If you carry for personal defense it is a little like packing your own parachute.  I know when my gun is clean and oiled, that I have taken care of it.  No one does it for me, it is my responsibility. 

Another advantage is I know how it comes apart and goes back together.  That can be good to know if something goes wrong…at the range or in an emergency.  I know how it feels, I know how it looks, and I know when it doesn’t feel or look “right”.

By breaking it down and cleaning it, I also get a look at the inner workings.  I may not understand all the parts, but I have a pretty good idea how the basics work.  I think having an understanding of the mechanics makes me a better shooter.  Again, it helps me identify and correct a problem before it becomes too serious.  It also helps me recognize when I have exceeded my skills and need to consult an expert or a gunsmith.

Most basic pistol classes address cleaning at a very high level.  We talk about the basic tools, chemicals, safety equipment…but don’t go into a lot of detail.  Why?  Every gun is just a little different.  They come apart differently, they need oil a little differently, and they reassemble differently.  I have owned Rugers Brownings, Colts and Glocks.  The Glocks have been the easiest to break down (some people are afraid of them because you have to pull the trigger to take it apart, but if you follow the safety basics, unloaded, cleared, visually and physically, it is safe).  My Colt (a .380) was the worst!  The recoil spring used to shoot out of the gun and fly across the room every time I broke it down to clean.  It usually ended up under a piece of furniture.  Then, I would have a terrible time compressing it enough to put it back together.  My relationship with that particular gun was brief. 

Your best source of information is the Owner’s Manual.  It should give you detailed diagrams and explanations on how to break down your pistol, how to clean it, how and where to oil it, and how to put it back together.  There should also be a phone number you can call if you get stuck.  It should give you an idea how many rounds you can reasonably expect to shoot before you need to clean it.  Realistically, if you shoot, even 50-100 rounds, and don’t plan to shoot again for a few weeks, clean it.  If you are going again in a couple days, you can probably wait. 

Remember the latex gloves, and eye protection.  Bore Cleaner is a harsh chemical, it is designed to clean the lead out of your gun.  You don’t want it on your skin or in your eyes.  You do want to be sure to clean in a well-ventilated area, and then dispose of your used materials in a ventilated area (I dump everything in an outdoor trash can when I’m done).  Use a small dedicated shot glass, or other glass/pyrex (I wouldn’t recommend plastic as this is a harsh chemical and could dissolve the plastic) container for a small amount of bore cleaner.  Pour a little in the glass or dish, and then when you are done cleaning, dump it out with your used patches.  Why?  If you dip your bore brush into the bore cleaner bottle, you are contaminating your cleaner.  Then you are cleaning your gun with a contaminated cleaner. 
Always practice safe cleaning, do not have ammunition in the area, unload and clear your gun, check it, then check it again, both visually and physically.  Always keep it pointed in a safe direction, even while cleaning.  Practice safe habits and you can avoid accidents.

If you are going to trust your life to your gun, shouldn’t you be responsible for keeping it clean and knowing how it works?   

Safe Shooting!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Single Gender vice Mixed Gender Classes


Women only classes have become very popular lately.  I’m trying hard to understand the trend.  I understand that some women have had a difficult time in their lives and may find the idea of a women only class comforting.  I also recognize that it is a very personal decision.

Ladies, what you may not realize, a mixed gender class is not necessarily a testosterone fest.  I’m seeing more and more women in our classes, and I’m seeing the respect they get from the men!  It is good for the guys to see you learning, asking and answering questions and building your own skills.  It is also humbling for them in many cases when we get to the range.  The ladies frequently shoot better than the men!  Not quite sure why, but I’ve seen it over and over. 

My opinion, it is more important to find caring, thoughtful and safe instructors than a single gender class.  If you call and talk to an instructor and don’t feel comfortable, keep looking.  Many of us have men and women co-teaching classes.  Most women instructors will be happy to take a few extra minutes to answer questions that are gender unique, like holster and concealed carry issues. 

If you really want to take a single gender class, go for it. They are out there, check your local range or gun store for flyers. It is more important to take formal training in whatever environment is most comfortable for you.
Men, it is good for you to see the ladies learning and realizing their own power.  Many men have told me that they want the women in their lives to be able to defend themselves if needed.  I think this is the ultimate statement of Love.

Safe Shooting!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Why do men like to buy us guns?


This is a phenomenon that I haven’t figured out.  Men like to buy guns for the women in their lives.  Ok, that I get.  That part I don’t understand is they either get some huge hand cannon that was secretly on their wish list, or they get something so small that it is extremely difficult to handle. 

We love you for trying, but PLEASE take us shopping with you.  If we are non-shooters, let us go to a First Steps or Basic Pistol Class, get some formal training and a chance to shoot with an instructor, then take us shopping.  You might be surprised by the result.  With a little patience, we may love it!  And, you will have a willing shooting partner for those trips to the range.  Giving us something too big or too small often ends up with no interest in shooting it.  I really don’t think that was the goal. 

Safe Shooting!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Fitting the Gun to YOUR Hand

So often when women go shopping for a gun, the person behind the counter points them to something small.  Small is not easy to control.  Just because a gun is larger doesn’t mean it won’t fit in your hand.

I’ve recently become a convert to Glock.  I was a Ruger girl for years, still have three of them, but my primary is a Glock 19.  Some people are surprised that I carry something that big, concealed, and not noticeable.  But when I work with a student, and let them try the 19, they are usually surprised at how well it fits in their hands and how much fun it is to shoot.
The key fit is the backstrap to the trigger.  Can you comfortably hold the gun and reach the trigger?  This is more important than the “size” or caliber of the gun.  If you can’t hold it, you can’t control it.

I did a comparison between the Gen3 Glock 17 (full size), 19 (compact) and 26 (sub-compact or Baby Glock), all 9mm.  What I found surprising is the fit to the hand is pretty consistent across all three. 

·         The Glock 17 is 7.32” long, 5.43” high, 1.18” wide and has a trigger pull of 5.5 pounds.

·         The Glock 19 is 6.85” long, 5.00” high, 1.18” wide and has a trigger pull of 5.5 pounds.

·         The Glock 26 is 6.29” long, 4.17” high, 1.18” wide and has a trigger pull of 5.5 pounds.

Notice any similarities?  They are also the same distance from the backstrap to the trigger.  This means that I can wrap my hand around the full size 17 the same as the baby 26.  I happen to like the 19, as a primary carry gun, because it is big enough to be comfortable to handle and compact enough to be easy to conceal.  I also like that is has a “double-stack” magazine which means more rounds fit in a smaller space.
What is my next gun?  A Glock 26, I think it would make a great backup gun, and in a pinch, I can use my extra 19 magazine. 

Yes, there are a lot of great manfacturers out there.  I haven’t had my Glock long, but it is a lot easier to shoot than my Ruger every was.  It is less finicky with ammunition, I’ve never had a mis-feed because my wrist wasn’t firm enough…
Bottom line…fit the gun to you.  For average sized people, this should be fairly easy to find something comfortable.  If you have unusually small, or large, hands, you can have a gunsmith alter your pistol to fit you better.  Women don’t need tiny pocket guns, and men don’t need hand cannons.  Neither is easy to control. 

Safe Shooting!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Point of Aim – Point of Impact

Simply put…Hitting what  you aim at!  Sounds easy, right?  Actually, there are several aspects of making this work, but I’m going to focus on sight picture here.  For more defensive handgun shooters the sight picture is based;

·         alignment of the front and rear sights

·         placing the front sight directly on the target

·         focusing on the front sight

·         keeping your front sight centered between the rear sights

·         keeping the top edges of the sights aligned

My instructor likes to say “Equal light on both sides, top knife edges equal”.  That pretty much sums it up. 

The front sight is centers, the top edges are even (your particular sights may very slightly in shape, but the concept is the same).  When you are looking through your sights, the rear slight will be slightly blurred, and the target will be slightly blurred.  Your focus is one the FRONT sight. 


Aligning directly over your target should give you your perfect shot. 

There are other variables, such as Arc of Movement, which is that natural wobble you get from holding the gun our from your body.  We all have it, but with practice and, it gets better.  Also, there is trigger control, anticipation, flinching…these things can throw off your shot placement slightly.

Practicing your aim in a dry fire situation can help a lot.  Following all the safety rules for dry fire, you can practice picking a point and coming up on target to get comfortable with what the sight picture looks like.

I’ve written previously on trigger control (post Trigger Control, How Can Something So Simple Be So Hard) .  You can check yourself for anticipation and flinching in a dry fire situation by resting a coin, or an empty casing, on the barrel of you gun.  Can you ease the trigger straight back, keeping your point of aim, without dropping the coin or casing?  Not quite as easy as it sounds, but it is a great skill to develop at home, in a safe dry fire situation.  Then, when you get to the range…you WILL see the difference. 

Safe Shooting!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Winchester Marksmanship Program


Have you looked at this?  Information is available on the NRA site under Programs.  This is a great program, even for an experienced shooter.  It uses the honor system, except for the final level, where you meet minimum standards to achieve each level.  They get progressively harder as you progress. 

I’m working the Pistol Qualification program now.  I just finished the third level, where I had to shoot two handed grip with strong and weak hand.  I had shot one handed before, but never two handed leading with my weak hand.  It was a challenge.  I think that was the idea. 

I’ve heard people say that no one does this program anymore.  I would like to see that change.  This is a great way to measure your progress against defines standards.  It encourages work on fundamentals and shooting skills.  It addresses a variety of firearms, not just pistols, but rifle and shotgun as well.

I’m still an advocate for formal training, but we can’t go to the range with an instructor every week.  This program adds a touch of discipline to my practice sessions, and gives me a goal to work to meet.  This isn’t the only way I practice, but it is one aspect of my practice. 

Let me know if you have worked through this program or considered it.  I’m very interested in what others think.

Safe Shooting!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Racking the Slide - Yes You Can!!

How many times have you been told that women don’t have the strength to rack a slide on a semi-automatic?  There are some guys out there who have trouble with it.  If you are a new shooter, and find wracking the slide a challenge, that’s ok. Don’t give up!  There are a couple things you can do.

First, position is key.  Have a firm grip on the pistol with your strong hand (the one you write with).  This should be similar to your shooting grip.  You can pull the gun in closer to your body.  With the weak hand, cup the top rear of the slide, it is often ridged for an easier grasp, being careful to ensure that your hand does not extend over the ejection port, and pull straight back while pushing forward with your strong hand.  Pull the slide straight to the rear, and then let it go.  Yes, let it fly, if you hold the slide as it is returning to position you can create several issues such as a mis-feed, failure of the gun to return to battery (ready to fire).  This takes practice.  It is also harder on tiny gun, you may need to adjust the position, but…you can do it!

If you need to strengthen your hands, there are products available for that purpose.  My personal favorite is the GripMaster , available in multiple resistance levels at Amazon.com.  It can be used to work the fingers individually.  The other advantage to this exercise is that is helps with your trigger control.  Some triggers are harder to pull than others.  Ironically, the triggers on revolvers, which do not have a slide and are often recommended to women, have a harder pull than many semi-automatics.

Lastly, a good instructor can help you to adjust your hand positions so that you can be effective.  Don’t hesitate to ask for help.  If you are at a range that has NRA Certified Range Safety Officers, they are all instructors, and therefore can offer you some advice or assistance if you need.

Safe Shooting!


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Practicing your Draw

I carry my Glock 19 almost every day.  I can’t carry on my commute because I use public transportation, cross through DC and into Maryland, and work in a Government Building.  That is four strikes.  But, in Virginia, I carry everywhere I can legally, and I have a small safe stashed in my car if I need to run into a post office of court house.  But carrying isn’t enough.  I need to be able to get to my gun quickly in an emergency.  I’ve adopted a practice regimen that works for me and I’m outlining it here for your consideration.

First, I practice with a blue gun.  I encourage you to use your designated dry fire area.  It takes discipline not to practice drawing with your carry gun until you have confirmed that it is unloaded, twice, and you are in your dry fire area, but it is better than a negligent discharge.  Most major models are available as blue guns, they are inert models that have no moving parts but a similar weight and feel as the real thing.  I also use them to break in, or get used to a new holster or carry method. 

At the end of the day when I remove my carry gun, I grab the blue gun spend a few minutes practicing my draw.  I draw and re-holster at least five times, then I pick a spot on the wall, close my eyes, draw and come up into my point of aim, then open my eyes.  With practice I have been able to draw on my intended target, acquire my point of aim, to within a fraction of an inch, with my eyes closed.  By doing this 10 or 15 times a night, I’ve developed confidence and speed.  I practice drawing with my shirt tucked in (I carry inside the waistband) and I practice brushing aside whatever I’m wearing to draw from full concealment. 

A bad guy can cross 25 feet in just over two seconds.  I need to be able to allow time for awareness and draw.  Can I do it?  I hope so.  Can I do it if I don’t practice…not a chance.  When I first started practicing, I was so slow, it was scary.  Now, I can draw and be on target in 1-1.5 seconds.  I practice with my husband telling me “go”, I practice with my hand hovering, I practice walking, spinning and drawing.

The only guarantee in an emergency is if you do not practice, you will not be able to draw under stress.  You are practicing to build muscle memory, skill, and speed.  But the key is to practice safely.  I mostly practice drawing my real gun at the range.  Draw, fire 3-5 shots quickly and go to low ready.  Sometimes I draw and empty the entire magazine on target.  I try to vary it, and I practice reloading and coming back on target and firing.  A habit I had to break, and it was hard, DO NOT catch your magazines.  Let them fall where you stand as you are indexing the fresh one into the mag well.  If you catch them in practice, you will catch them in an emergency. 

Like so many things in live you must Practice, Practice, Practice.  But, practice right so you can build good muscle memory and habits.  If there is any doubt in your mind, practice in your dry fire area, even with a blue gun. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Women and Guns

Numbers don’t lie, more women are buying guns and learning to shoot!  Shooting used to be a male dominated sport, but there have been stand out women for more than 200 years.  In the 1500s the earliest settlers had to shoot to eat and defend their homes.  The Ladies were a big part of that.  Think of Annie Oakley doing trick shots in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show starting in 1885, and starring for 17 years.  Julie Golob has been shooting, and winning competitions, for more than 20 years. 

 More and more women are learning to shoot, in classes around the country, some mixed gender, some women only.  They are discovering not only the relaxation that comes with the focus of a trip to the range, but sense of strength and empowerment that comes with mastering a new skill and knowing you can defend yourself and your family.  There can be a sense of camaraderie going to the range with friends.  There is a calming focus in going to the range alone.  

 More and more women only classes are popping up around the country and women’s shooting groups are getting easier to find.  The NRA has a Women On Target program that promotes this.  For some women, they may be more comfortable with other women.  Some don’t care.  If you have been threatened or violated by a man, you might find comfort with a women only program.  I’ve never participated in a women only shooting event, although it is on my goal list for 2012.  I did sing with a Sweet Adeline’s Chorus for several years.  If someone had told me you could put 100+ women together every week, keep them focused, even under pressure of competitions and shows and still have a supportive environment, I would not have believed it before that.  Now, I know better.  I do a lot of research into women’s issues with shooting, concealed carry, dressing to hide the gun, shopping for a gun, etc.  I’ve read a lot of books, talked and corresponded with a lot of prominent women shooters and authors.  Ladies, if you are just getting started, The Cornered Cat by Kathy Jackson is a must read!  She has a way of writing that appealed to me on several levels, not the least of which is I’m a cat lover and she relates some things back to cat behavior that makes me laugh because she is dead on!

I enjoy teaching mixed gender classes.  I think it is good for the men to see the women learning and succeeding right next to them.  Guys, be warned, the ladies tend to outshoot you in the beginning classes.  It can be good for women, too, to see that they can keep up with, and sometimes, exceed the skills of the men.  About 12 years ago, I went shooting with someone I was dating at the time.  He had a macho attitude and was (no pun intended) cocky.  So, I shot well, but not great, deliberately hitting various areas on the target.  We were down to the last magazine of ammo we had brought and he made some stupid comment about how I could get better if I practiced.  That did it, I drilled my next ten rounds through the middle of the bulls-eye, laid the gun down, turned around and just smiled.  We didn’t date much after that.  Luckily, my husband, who I met not long after that, is not a shooter, but is very supportive.  Women should never feel that they need to do less than their best to protect the egos of the men, and the men should never expect it.

Women, discover shooting and all it can bring to your life.  Take classes, make new friends, ask questions…learn, practice and find your inner power.  If you don’t know where to start, the NRA website lists instructors all over the country and can help you find qualified instruction.  If you take a class and don’t click with the instructor, don’t get discouraged.  NRA Certified instructors follow a set curriculum with emphasis on safety and fundamentals, but we all have our own personalities and you may like one of us better than another.  Don’t get discouraged, don’t give up.  It is a great hobby, a great skill, enhances your awareness of the world around you and…it’s fun!

Safe Shooting!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Carry Purse versus Carrying in Your Purse

First, I do not advocate off-body carry as a primary method of concealed carry. However, I do understand that there are some occasions when carrying off-body might be preferred.

Ok, the more I’ve studied on this topic the more TV and Movies makes me crazy. The woman walking down the dark street who suddenly turns and pulls a gun out of her purse and aims at the man approaching her menacingly…Charlie’s Angels reruns where they pull their small revolvers out of purses almost as small…an article in the January edition of Elle about Facing Your Fears. Ok, Ladies, be honest, how long does it take to find your keys in your purse? 5 seconds? 10? 30? Have to dump it upside down? If you can find your keys in under 10 seconds, you are doing great! Now, how long will it take to find a gun in your purse? It is probably heavier than everything else, so it will drift to the bottom. How will it be oriented? Will you have to fumble around to get the grip in your hand, pushing aside your wallet, hairbrush, tissue, compact…What will be in the barrel? Oh, there’s that pen I was looking for! How about in the trigger guard? There’s my lipstick! How many times will you muzzle yourself trying to get a proper orientation and grip? If you are really good, and can find, clear and draw your pistol in under 10 seconds, is that good enough?

A young, healthy aggressor can cross 20 feet in 2.5 seconds and get to you. If you didn’t see him coming, you really can’t ask him to wait to attack you; “Excuse me, I have a gun in my purse, would you mind not knocking me to the ground while I reach into my purse to get to it?”

A carry purse has a dedicated area for your gun, with a holster. You always know where your gun is, how it is oriented and you can get to it, with practice in 2 seconds or less. Gun purses are available from a variety of sources, including USGalco, Gun Toten Mamas, Midway USA, even Amazon! If you must carry in a purse, only use a purse designed for carrying.

There are risks to carrying in a purse. First, purse snatchers! They get not only your bag, but your gun! If you go anywhere you must maintain control of your bag at all times. Yes, you must be aware of the innocent, the young, the foolish and the evil. You can’t hang it on the back of a chair at a restaurant, you can’t set it on the floor at your friends home, you can’t leave it at the table while you go out to the dance floor. You must protect your gun from the innocent, curious and guilty. It is your responsibility to safeguard your gun. If you must carry off body, remember, that you are responsible for your safety, the safety of those around you, and the security of your gun. I have a couple carry purses, but I use them very rarely. When I go to the Doctors office and I know there is a chance he will be listening to my lungs, rather than remove my gun and wrap it in my coat under the chair (leaving my holster in place) I will use my carry purse. Ok, for those who are wondering, why would I carry to a Doctor’s office? Why not? I don’t carry when I think I might need it, I carry period. I’ve never been really good at precognition, if I was, I could now when I would be in a dangerous situation and avoid it. But I don’t know. I prefer to be prepared if it ever comes to that.

Be safe!