Equipment Issue? Three tips to make sure it’s not you

Photo Credit: The U.S. Army

A common experience around firearms is the blame game. Is it the rifle or pistol that’s shooting crappy groups, or is it you? Too often it’s the gray matter behind the gun that is causing the problems, but the blame is put on the equipment.

Still, there are times when it really is the gun that is to blame. Nothing is more frustrating than not knowing if you are the cause of a problem, or if it is the equipment. When you are an experienced shooter, this determination gets easier as you have years of evidence of good shooting to fall back on. For the new shooter, this can be a difficult problem to solve.

There are a few steps you can take to help narrow down the culprit and save yourself some frustration. If you are shooting a new gun for the first time and run into issues, or your groups suddenly open up or move, here are a few ways to help identify the cause.

Check for loose parts

The most likely cause of a moving group or a group that opens up is loose sights. Check the front and rear sight or your scope and make sure they are tight. I have seen shooters not realize their sights were loose until their front sight or scope walks itself off the gun.

If you are frustrated at your performance, double check the sights before you get too upset.

The sights aren’t the only part that can come loose. Check that barrels are secure (on rifles) and for excessive slop in the action on pistols. Some rifles like the 10/22 can lose accuracy if the action screw (or any other mechanism) holding the action in the stock becomes loose.

These are easy things to check and are a good first step if you are having problems.

Have someone else shoot the gun

If the issue truly is the gray matter behind the gun, having another experienced shooter try the gun should prove it. Try to have someone you know is a better shooter try the gun, or just go for an increased sample size and get multiple shooters to try it.

An issue with the gun will become quickly apparent if no one else can shoot it better.

In the absence of other experienced shooters, shooting from a shooting vice or ransom rest is great alternative that takes any issues you may have out of the picture.

Shoot a different gun

Sometimes neither a rest or another shooter is available. When this happens, your best bet is finding another gun to shoot. Maybe it’s a completely different gun, or just another of the same model. If you can demonstrate the skills needed on a different firearm, you can either eliminate yourself as the problem or start narrowing down skills that might be specific to the gun you are having trouble with.

An alternate gun isn’t a perfect test, but whenever I feel like I’m doing horribly with a new gun, I like to go back to a known standard. I pick up something that I know I can shoot well to prove my technique hasn’t taken a vacation without telling me.

Poor results from your shooting can be very frustrating. Knowing how to resolve these issues quickly and calmly not only helps you get back to being productive faster, but it also eliminates unnecessary self doubt.

How do you identify whether an issue is you or the gun? Post a comment below and share.

How To Train Dangerous Techniques

Image by thefuturistics

Last week I sent an email to my email subscribers looking for some feedback on exactly what they were looking to get from Indestructible Training. One reader, John, asked to see more on “down and dirty street fighting”. This post is my take on an aspect of training for the street, especially those ‘dirty’ techniques that aren’t usually easy to train in a cooperative environment. If you have a topic you want to hear more about hop over to the contact page and let me know. Or be like John and subscribe to get updates via email and you too can receive exclusive content and special offers.

The street is a dangerous place. A place with no rules. When confronted on the street and your life is in danger, there is no need to hold yourself to some arbitrary set of rules designed for your safety. Your adversary certainly won’t hold himself to them.

Unlike competitive martial arts where rules dominate the competition, the street tends to get a little off the beaten path. Eye gouging, shots to the groin, spitting, etc are all useful tactics on the street. The problem with many of these tactics is the difficulty you might have in practicing them. It tends to be hard to find a cooperative partner who won’t mind you gouging his eyes out.

Keep in mind that these tactics don’t always work, and cannot be the foundation for your self-defense training. Cecil Burch wrote an excellent article about dirty tactics and grappling that outlines many of the misunderstandings about dirty tactics in grappling.

How do we practice these techniques?

Most applications that we train tend to be dangerous, especially for our attacker. Therefore it is dangerous to practice those applications with full realism. I can’t shoot my training partner, and he probably wouldn’t enjoy wiping my spit from his face.

This is why in just about any type of training there is a separation of training the technique with training the application of it. In shooting I spend time on the range and dry-firing at home to build my gun handling skills, but to practice the application of self-defense I use Sims or inert trainers with a partner. This is not a perfect solution since a blue gun can’t simulate recoil, but it is a lot safer than introducing live fire to close quarters fighting.

The same applies to things like eye gouging. You can spend time practicing these techniques with an inert dummy (like a manikin, not your pal with the lowest IQ). Getting comfortable with the technique at full speed and power is important to being able to use it when you need it.

However, training techniques without any application is short sighted. Being able to practice applications against a non-cooperative adversary is key to ensuring the skill can work for you in real life. There are usually two options for working these skills with a partner. You can train full speed and power, but not strike your partner, or you can train slower with less power, and stop before hurting your partner.

Full Speed and Power

Training full speed and power with your partner usually means stopping short, or striking past your partner. This works best for things like kicks to the fronts of the knees. The benefit is that you get the effect of practicing to deliver the strike without hurting your partner. The downside is you might build a bad habit of striking short or missing your adversary.

Low Speed and Power

The other option is to go almost to full extension without fully impacting your partner. For example with an eye gouge I can execute the technique to the point of being ready to apply pressure. This helps me work on targeting and finding openings, but without the mess. This too can build bad habits so must we consider carefully how we use this in our training.

The best bet is to combine both methods. Either method requires you and your partner to have a foundation of trust and good communication. Nothing is more fun than dodging a face punch to move right into the path of the punch. There is no ideal way to train some of the most dangerous techniques, but you can get most of the way there.

What dangerous techniques do you train, and how do you train them?

High Speed Low Drag…At the Gas Station.

Photo by xandert

Does the order in which we do things really matter? And how important is it to be efficient when we go about accomplishing everyday tasks? Sometimes order and efficiency won’t help you, but sometimes they can mean the difference between life and death.

The military drills into young recruits a specific order for getting dressed. The idea is to ensure preparedness by making sure the necessary items like pants and shoes get on first. These methods are ingrained in the minds of fresh recruits so when under pressure (say in a sudden attack) they make the right choices in getting dressed. Going into battle without your pants is probably a bad thing in most cases.

I would assert that this same principle applies to other facets of our lives. If not to ensure we are best prepared for a given situation, an efficient process will at the very least save time and energy.

Getting Into and Out of Vehicles

You might not currently think of them this way, but vehicles are a death trap. They confine you into a small area and, worse yet, you are often in less than ideal circumstances when you are getting into and out of them. Two things are very important with a vehicle: be able to get out of it quickly, and be able to get into it quickly.

Streamlining embus and debus (getting into and out of vehicles respectively) is important because we want to minimize the time that we are preoccupied with our vehicle instead of our surroundings. You can practice these actions until they are second nature, but we want to make sure they are quick.

For me getting out of a vehicle begins with my left hand across my chest, slipping under the seat belt. My right hand immediately goes for the belt buckle. This position should be pretty familiar to any shooter who practices their draw stroke. My goal here is to clear the seat belt quickly, and efficiently.

Once there I unbuckle the belt with my right hand while sweeping the belt away with my left. If the vehicle is running, my right hand goes for the keys while my left makes its way to the door handle. By doing this I enable myself to very quickly transition from turning the vehicle off to opening the door.

The car is turned off, and I remove the key while my left hand opens the door fairly aggressively. I secure the door with my left foot, followed by my left hand. Once the door is secured from moving I can lift myself out of the vehicle and step back from the door, closing it with my left hand.

This whole process is mirrored for the passenger side. Getting into the vehicle is similar but in reverse. If possible I have my keys in hand prior to arriving at the vehicle. My left hand opens the door, and then posts it open. I get into the car, closing the door with my left hand. My right hand engages the key, and I put on my seat belt once rolling.

Efficiency getting into and out of a vehicle is a life saving skill, and the order in which you do things certainly does matter. Ultimately you want to minimize the amount of time you sit in a stationary vehicle. Like getting dressed, the order in which we complete the tasks associated with getting in or out of a vehicle should result in us accomplishing that task quickly, while also preventing us from getting caught with our pants down. If you want to learn more about embus and debus seek out instruction from Southnarc, I cannot recommend his classes highly enough.

ATMs

You probably already realize that an ATM is a great place to get mugged. You withdraw some money, immediately making you a valuable target. I prefer to use an ATM that has a door that closes (and locks) to an exposed ATM. The order in which you should do things to access this ATM will not change a whole lot either way.

When you roll up to an ATM you want to make sure you have your card ready. Whether it is to gain access to the ATM building or just the ATM itself, you’ll need it. You want to minimize exposure, and having the card ready before you get to the ATM is a great way to do this. Stopping at the ATM and hanging out in your car is not a good solution. Every moment you are fixated on something other than being aware of your surroundings increases the likelihood of finding yourself in a bad situation.

If you arrive in a vehicle, getting out of the vehicle quickly and efficiently is key. Get the card in the machine quickly, and use the down time where it is getting ready to request a pin to scan the surroundings. If all is safe, punch in the pin and get it done. Any time the ATM is processing and you are waiting for it, take advantage of this time to keep checking your surroundings. Get that card back as quickly as possible, and don’t worry about putting the money in your wallet or your card away until you are back in your vehicle and out of there.

If you are going the safer route and using an enclosed ATM, your job is much simpler. Having the card out means you can get into the building quickly, and get the door closed. Once inside you have a safer environment to take your time getting your money. Make sure you check your route on the way back out of the ATM before leaving. When you do leave, don’t stop to do something (this is not the time to tie your shoe, answer a call from your mom, or trim your fingernails), get right back in your car or head to your next destination.

Using an ATM presents many minor challenges and risks. These risks are mitigated by the efficiency with which you act.

Getting Gas

When you stop to get gas the same principles apply. We have yet another opportunity to get out of the car quickly and efficiently. Again, having your card (or cash) ready helps to minimize how long we spend interacting with the pump and our wallets (and perhaps the cashier) and maximize the amount of time we can spend with our heads up and alert.

Getting back into the vehicle works the same way. Get in efficiently, and get the car moving ASAP. If you are like my wife and NEED to put the card and receipt away before you drive off, get the doors locked, the car on, and put the car in drive before you start fiddling with your wallet. If a bad situation arises, you are only a pedal press away from putting the car in motion.

You can apply this concept to many facets of our lives. We can usually create a better tactical situation by finding ways to do things more efficiently. Knowing how to streamline your efforts and take advantage of better efficiency can minimize your exposure to risk and give you a much better chance of making it through the day.

How I Doubled My Hamstring Flexibility In 4 Weeks

Image by Dan4th

Flexibility is a hugely important attribute for anyone who is self-defense minded. Not only does it decrease risk of injury, but it increases our overall mobility. Mobility is key to surviving a violent assault. If you ever find yourself in a gunfight where you need to maneuver around cover or concealment or even find yourself entangled with your attacker, flexibility will certainly come in handy.

My own flexibility has always been above average. Training in karate from my youth has given me the skill and flexibility to kick to my own head height without too much difficulty. Despite my relatively good flexibility, on a good day with a great warm up and a lot of stretching, I might do a little better than just touching my toes.

When I sat on the ground and attempted to touch my toes, if I was lucky, I could barely touch my toes with my fingers. Embarrassingly, I couldn’t even sit straight up with my legs outstretched, instead I naturally needed to lean back.

One of my goals for 2012 was to improve this stretch. My measurable goal was to be able to comfortably place my palms on the floor out in front of me stretching from the standing position. As a corollary to this, I wanted to be able to reach my hands past my feet when sitting, and outright grasp the balls of my feet.

How I got there

I was quite surprised to reach my goal much faster than I had expected and with relatively little effort.

I started my path to improve my flexibility by following this guide with a three minute stretching routine. It offers several tips for loosening up and boosting your stretch. I found very quickly that by elevating my heels, I was able to add several inches to my stretch. This quick improvement that occurred literally in a several minute period was a huge boost and helped me get psyched about improving. With all goals, seeing measurable progress is one of the best motivators.

This short three minute workout would become a part of my warmup for the next week or two, and served as a great starting point to get me moving in the right direction.

So how did I really reach my goal in only four weeks?

Surprise, surprise – I stretched.

Every chance I could get, I worked on this stretch. At least a half-dozen times a day I would get up from my workstation, turn to face outwards in my cubical, and work on touching my toes.

For anyone unfamiliar with good stretching practice, here is what I would recommend:

  1. Take a deep breath, relax, and hang.
  2. Exhale on the way down.
  3. Hold for 5 seconds and then press gradually and try to get a little further.
  4. Hold for another 5 seconds.
  5. Bend your knees and then stand up.

Rinse, and repeat a few times each session. That is really all it took. Five times a day, five days a week for four weeks is 100 sets. Push yourself a little further each time. You only need to make a 1% improvement each session. If you are trying to add 6 inches to your stretch, you need to improve only slightly more than 1/20th of an inch per session.

For me the results were incredible. I achieved my objective. I went from just being able to touch my toes to getting my palms completely on the floor. Stretching on the floor, I can now more than just touch my toes, but get my hands entirely past my feet. No small improvement, and it took just a little diligence over a short period of time.

Give it a try, and tell me how you do.

WP Like Button Plugin by Free WordPress Templates