I started my last blog talking about the friendly and extremely supportive gun community. The need of sticking together to stand up and defend our most basic rights. Being part of the CZ-USA team allowed me to meet George Harris on one his trips to visit friends and share his knowledge of firearms.
George Harris is a co-founder and Ex- Director of the Sig Sauer Academy. He has forty years of military, law enforcement and firearms instruction background. There is very little George does not know about firearms safety, marksmanship and gun industry in general. I believe he knows it all but we could have an argument about it as George continues his own education and attempt for perfection. Great role model for the thousands of students he’s taught over the last few decades. Most of his efforts these days are concentrated on running his International Firearms Consultants company with his wife Linda. We were put in touch through CZ-USA. George was visiting his friend in Wyoming who was very instrumental in our gun range’s major improvements in the last couple of years. During our lunch I was asked if I wanted to join his Advanced Defensive Handgun class he was conducting in couple of days. After checking my schedule, the class is an all day commitment, I agreed.
Upon all of the class participants arriving and signing in, George decided to change the format of the class from advanced to basic pistol skills. I respected that decision greatly. I have adopted the same policy ever since I started training and coaching youth hockey players. You have to WORK WITH WHAT YOU GOT, NOT WITH WHAT YOU WISH YOU HAD. We come across too many instructors who will not make adjustments according to the skill or abilities of their students. They get their fees but not the results. Our group consisted mostly from people who have shot handguns but probably did not have enough formal training. I consider myself floating somewhere above beginner level and way short of pistol marksmanship.
George and his wife Linda spent good part of the morning teaching proper handgun safety and handling. There are few non-negotiable aspects of any gun training or handling procedure.
Muzzle control. Always be aware where the muzzle is pointing at. Common saying is handle the gun like it’s always loaded. Good muzzle control will prevent damage or possibly a tragedy during accidental discharge.
Trigger finger control. Do not put finger on the trigger until you’re ready to fire. Many people (beginners) have a difficult time with this safety procedure. They’ve developed the bad habit mostly by watching too many action movies and model their gun handling after their favorite heroes or villains. Some find this comment comical but I have no other explanation. I have to give credit to my first instructor. Shepard Humphries from Jackson Hole Shooting Experience. He always emphasized trigger finger control early to me and I developed very good habit.
Knowing what your target is. What is in front, behind and way behind target. This applies especially while you’re hunting but do not disregard this policy during any type of shooting. Conduct proper check of firearm before, during and after each exercise. There is never enough thorough safety or maintenance check one can do. The effort is well worth having safe fun time at the range.
The right fit. Many shooters often forget the proper fit of a handgun is not only important for comfort that leads to better performance but crucial part of a safety. I’ve seen too many gun folks who were too weak to pull the slide back safely (revolver candidates) or the gun was either too small or too big. They made the choice on mass popularity of a firearm instead on what fits them best. This is not a fashion contest. Gun ownership is a serious responsibility.
These are some of the observations I’ve made since becoming part of the shooting community. Just because we are under “attack” by the mainstream media or political factions who do not share our values it does not mean we should not be honest with each other. We have issues as a group, everybody does, but these are not problems, these are my observations and I will provide suggestions how the gun community can become more accepted in every part of our society in my upcoming blog. At least I(we) can try. To be content is to eventually fail.
There were hand full of drills I really thought could help me improve.
The wall drill. This drill is done with unloaded firearm. Put the muzzle against the wall, plain paper target or anything that will outline your pistol well. Move back about an inch and start pulling the trigger. If you pay attention to the muzzle very likely you’ll see unnecessary movement. It is caused by movement of your hand during trigger pull. The goal is to pull with your finger without putting the hand in motion. Wall drill will allows you to practice on your own. No cost is involved, just time and patience. Both in a short supply in my life. The loading, unloading, holstering and drawing were presented so well by George, it was actually fun doing it for a long time without live ammo. It’s part of good pistol marksmanship but I want to keep focus on the most important.
Bullet hole drill – once you line up the sights and the target, the ideal place to look through was a smallest point on the front sight. The concept of looking at the imaginary pinhole size point on the front sight with the target behind was initially very strange. It became much more comfortable after several rounds. The point of the exercise is to shoot the first round anywhere on the target and create a hole. Then try to put remaining four rounds in the same hole. I did have very poor results before I embraced the concept of the pinhole size point as the focus point. Sometimes it’s not your hands, stand or anything else physical. Most of the time it’s your mind not allowing you to perform the task because of embedded bad habits. My advice is to relax your mind to let in free and un-obstructed flow of information, in this case George’s instruction, and your physical abilities will follow. Ironically I’m writing this blog in the morning before my speech to the junior hockey team about the mental part of the game. It is far more important and more difficult to master than train to be faster, stronger or more skilled.
Dry fire drill. I have read in few publications over the last couple of years that dry firing could cause damage to your firearm. So when George introduced the Wall drill I immediately asked if it will have negative effect on the pistol. George’s answer was a “no” without any hesitation. I believe a man who’s been involved with firearms training, testing and development for over forty years when he says it. His last word on this subject was if it makes you feel better use the snap caps.
When you work with great coaches, instructors and trainers you learn things not known to ordinary participants. For example human body needs to stay in motion to be balanced. The idea of us being stiff and rigid to keep the gun on the target is highly overrated or just plain wrong. There is a plenty of motion like our heart beating, other organs functioning. Sometimes breathing is more laborious than others or we are at the outdoor range in Wyoming and wind is blowing every time. The key is to learn to keep the gun steady on the target while moving. As George said to be advanced in anything is just knowing it better.
I am a firm believer in the more you know about the work, hobby, passion you do more fun you’re going to have. There was a reason why pistol shooting was third on the list after Sporting Clays and rifle shooting. George and Linda Harris from International Firearms Consultants gave me knowledge and tools to become better and have more fun to shoot pistols.
Pistol used in the class: CZ 85 B cal. 9mm Luger
The reason for choosing this pistol for the class was brand new concealed carry holster I wanted to try. It was fun. CZ 85 B is the fully ambidextrous (slide stop, safety, magazine release) version of world famous CZ 75 B 9mm. The 75 was my first pistol purchased and still remains my favorite in any variation like the CZ 85, decocker version, Shadow model or my newest sample SP-01 Tactical. The fit is great for large hands and small ones alike, balance and proven combination of accuracy/durability is unmatched in a huge 9mm market.