Samuel Hayes introduced me to Ken Park at the Norcross Gun Range.
This is Ken Park.
This is him drawing and shooting the target six times with a Glock 34. The video doesn’t exactly say how fast. How about Hella-fast? I try to stay away from “hella” as an adjective, but it seems to fit.
Ken is a former Air Marshal, and current competitive IDPA shooter. He’s also a nice guy.
When I came over he demonstrated how to draw a full size gun from cover. Cover, as you can see below, is a shirt from Armani Exchange. It was a tailor fit, snapped up the front and the gun, a Glock 17 with a light, was absolutely invisible.
What follows is advise on how to dress for concealed carry, from a guy who has gotten damned good at it.
I’ve been working on accuracy for months. Dry firing in a small corner of my garage, after doing the dishes and walking the dog at night. I rarely hear about handguns being equated with meditation, but I’ve found that the acts of dry firing and draw and fire is as close as I’ve come to meditation in a martial art.
Last time I wrote about the results of all of that practice. Three disappointing attempts to shoot the hole left from the first shot, followed by a revelation, some trigger time with a Glock 17 that shot 22 cal bullets, and then victory.
That was the prelude.
The goal was to draw and shoot a target suspended five yards away. Again, we used a sheet of copy paper. Copy is roughly the size of both a man’s head and the chest cavity. If you can consistently hit it, you might be on your way to developing combat accuracy.
One note on combat accuracy. I had been so tuned into shooting that little dot, that much of my dray fire practice had been weighted more towards hitting the dot, and less towards the actual draw. The goal wasn’t to draw and shoot a dot the size of a bottle cap in less than three seconds. The goal was to draw and shoot a sheet of paper. Big difference.
The drill: Draw and fire on the target. This time we would go in stages. First, draw and fire one round in three seconds. Then two rounds, then three, and finally four rounds. As you can see, the whole drill took about a minute. As you can see, I was slow. I did, however, land every shot on the sheet of paper.
This is what progress looks like. I shot these earlier this week at the Norcross Gun Range.
My last session focused on a Black dot. It was my nemesis. I had to shoot it five times in a row before we would move on to draw and fire drills. I spent so much time shooting raggedy groups that instead of worrying about draw and fire, it was decided that I would worry about accuracy. Accuracy before speed became the mantra.
It wasn’t a total loss. I learned an important lesson about maintaining muscular tension in my chest, arms and hands, in order to control recoil. As an internal martial arts guy, that was an eye opener. I went home and worked on maintaining tension and developing a smooth trigger pull. That was over a month ago.
This was one of my first groups after my return to the range. I had been bragging about how I would be able to shoot the black dot. Bragging about shooting a bottle cap size hole in a piece of paper at a range of about five yards? Yeah, well you have to start somewhere.
Sam said, “Slow down. You’re rushing it. Each trigger pull is a separate thing.”
This resonated. It sounded almost zen to me.
This was my second group. I was repeating a mantra as I shot. “Focus on the target…focus on the target…focus on the target…”
It yielded a tight group, especially if you ignore the outlier hole. Thing is, that was the first hole. It was also supposed to be my point of aim. It seems as if I have a flinch. I unconsciously push the muzzle down as I pull the trigger in order to compensate for the recoil.
He pulled out a 22 cal Glock 17. “Do it again.” I shot to the left to get used to the diminished recoil, and then I took aim. I whispered my mantra, and I pulled the trigger…One… Two… Three… Four… Five… That was it.
We repeated it a couple more times with my S&W 9mm. He had to make sure that the groups weren’t flukes. The results weren’t flawless, but they were workable.
Monday I’ll post part two. It will be all about the draw and fire drill.
In the meantime…
Shooting the Glock was an eye opener. I haven’t shot a Glock for years. Once I got my M&P 9mm, I just didn’t like the old Glock 17 that I bought back in the 90’s. In fact, I traded it to Sam for the lessons.
As a result, I never got much of a chance to compare the trigger pulls of the Glock to the M&P. After all, the trigger pull is the biggest criticism of the M&P.
Shooting them back to back I had my palm-to-head movement. That’s what they were talking about! On the M&P you don’t know when the trigger has been reset. I could feel it on the Glock.
Do I want the first Gen back? Nope. If you can’t tell, I really dig these lessons. I also like the steel magazine and the thumb safety on my M&P. But I get it now.
Also, Sam had to correct me on my trigger discipline. “Take your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to shoot.”
That’s not a big deal except for the fact that I didn’t realize that my finger was on the trigger. I tend to be very careful, almost overly so. After all, I have a thumb safety on my gun… But trigger discipline trumps almost everything else.
Do better Chad.
I’ve seen M&P 22’s going for about $350, if my memory serves me. Honestly, I didn’t pay much attention. After all, what do I want with a 22? How about more practice time for less money.
It won’t be my next purchase, but it is on my radar.
My homework? More dry firing, (I’ll be going into the specifics of it in the coming weeks) and range time. The only way to handle a flinch is to shoot until you’re used to shooting.
My father owned guns my entire life. In that time I remember him going to the range a handful of times. By range I mean an expanse of red clay and briars behind a friend’s house in South Carolina and the back yard of our family’s home in Virginia.
We called it plinking, and we didn’t accomplish a whole lot. I learned to load and shoot all of the guns. I learned a healthy respect by seeing what they were capable of. I got over my fear, and I learned some important lessons about safety. I guess, loading the magazines for his Mini-14 prepared me to load the Glock 17 that I eventually bought, but I’m pretty sure I would have figured it out.
Most gun owners will never go through the process of becoming an effective gun-fighter. People don’t think that you have to. TV and movies show us that if you are a good guy, God will bless you with infinite bullets and guide them to the skulls of your enemies.
We didn’t do accuracy. We did our best but my father didn’t know about acquiring a sight picture or proper grip. We never discussed draw and fire. To my knowledge he doesn’t own a holster.
My dad wasn’t alone. Most gun owners will never go through the process of becoming an effective gun fighter. People don’t think that you have to. TV and movies show us that if you are a good guy, God will bless you with infinite bullets and guide them to the skulls of your enemies.
On the Walking Dead, Michonne tea-cups her Beretta? and lands head shot after head shot. All of the good guys do, until the directors decide that a miss would advance the plot. Everybody thinks they are the good guy. And a whole lot of gun owners think that righteousness is a guarantee of safety and accuracy.
I thought I was an okay shot. Good enough to put a bad guy on his back. My first visit to the range with Samuel Hayes of Caliber Training Group not only showed me how good I wasn’t, but it also made me better. Not great, but better.
I learned to hold the gun by emulating the guys in the gun magazines. The devil is in the details. It’s easy to make your grip look like their grip, but there is a lot going on beneath the surface. If your learning strategy is trial and error, you will spend years trying to figure out something that a professional could correct in about five minutes. And there are some things that you will never figure out.
Speaking of grip, below is Bob Vogel. According to his website, he’s a World Champion Shooter. I don’t follow the IDPA, but I’ll take his word for it. The video covers a lot of the ground that Sam discussed with me at our first meeting. I don’t know if I’ll be extending my support index finger around the trigger guard though.
Repeat after me. Get a good holster, get a good holster, get a good holster…
That message was driven home to me recently through a conversation with Samuel Hayes. Samuel owns Caliber Training Group, a school in Atlanta that turns gun owners into capable gunfighters. His message was clear. It isn’t enough to be armed.
I needed to hear it. I bought my first gun in 1998 after a tough night at the Philadelphia Tribune where I covered education and public policy. My editor told me to go to Germantown to find someone who had made a comment at a school board meeting. It was the journalistic equivalent of a snipe hunt. All I had was his name and a neighborhood.
I asked some people outside of a Chinese restaurant. The kind of place where they take the money through a slit in a thick Plexiglass wall, and then deliver the food through a bulletproof Lazy Susan. Then a young woman said, “Um, are you sure you want to do this?”
“Come out here at night. Asking questions, out on the street like this. I don’t think you should be doing this.” Then she walked away.
I bought the Glock that weekend. A full sized 9mm. My intention was to keep it in my trunk in case my editor sent me on any more snipe hunts. The guys at the shop threw in a kydex holster that was so cheap that, if memory serves, I had to cut out the belt holes with an exacto knife.
I think I used it once, just to see how it felt. It was like strapping a brick to my hip with duct tape. Two guns later, it is still the only holster I’ve ever owned.
Get a good holster. Get a good holster. Get a good holster.
That’s my mantra as I begin the process of obtaining my Georgia concealed carry license. No more cheap kydex loop. No more slipping it into the pocket of a messenger’s bag, even if it fits. (That’s a story for another day.) This time I’m going to do it right.
Sam gave me a list of suggestions for quality kydex holsters. I’ll be digging into them in the coming weeks. In the meantime,