Sunday, September 29, 2013

Gunsite 499 Advanced Pistol - Day 2

By Dave Dargo

The second day moved much faster though we shot about the same number of rounds. Yesterday, we went through about 230 of our 1,100 rounds of ball ammunition and today we expended another 245.

The weather, as predicted, is still exceptional with cool nights, down to about 45, and warm days, up to about 85. It is high desert so hydration can be a problem with some but we are constantly encouraged to drink water.

The morning started at the range at 8:00 and after about five minutes of dry-fire practice we went into the 350 school drills. At this point, the drills are timed with turning targets and we can score the targets as we finish each drill. All school drills are presentation from the holster and included single shot to the head from 3 yards in 1.5 seconds done twice, two shots center-of-mass in 1.5 seconds from seven yards, two shots center-of-mass in 2 seconds from 10 yards, two shots center-of-mass kneeling from 25 yards in 3.5 seconds and two shots prone from 35 yards in 7 seconds.

The center-of-mass circle has an 8-inch diameter. Shots inside the circle and head-plate are worth 5 points and shots outside the scoring areas but still on the painted part of the target are worth 2 points. This makes for 50 possible points and I'm typically in the 40-45 point range. I have difficulty with that 8" circle once we're out more than 25 yards. At that distance I'm just guessing where the circle is actually located because all I see is the 18"x30" paper target.

After the school drills things really began to move quickly.

Though we were still reviewing things we had already done in the 250 and 350 classes we started to move faster with the assumption that everyone was simply reviewing what was already known. As I mentioned yesterday, though, some students haven't been to Gunsite in years.

After the review drills which included pivots and turns we moved into one of the core components of the 499 class - one-handed pistol manipulation.

Most people find shooting one-handed different but still comfortable. Where it really gets interesting is drawing from a strong-side holster with the support hand and presenting the pistol for accurate shots with weak-side one-handed shooting. As interesting as that may be, it gets even more so as we have to clear Type 1, Type 2 and Type 3 malfunctions one-handed on both the strong and weak side. Clearing a Type 3 malfunction with one hand makes one-handed speed reloading seem like a walk in the park.

There are a lot of tricks to being able to run the slide on a semi-automatic with only one functioning hand. Some of those tricks go out the door though when dealing with range safety issues and being sure to not cover any of your fellow students. We persevered, though, and made good progress. No matter how much progress you make in these exercises you won't be able to take the ugly out of correcting a Type 3 malfunction one-handed. If you need to clear a Type 3 malfunction then you better have good cover or fast feet.

The day also saw us practicing getting out of vehicles while under threat, ground fighting - basically shooting from different positions while on the ground: lying on the left side, right side, on your back and over your head and on your back shooting between your knees.

To finish the morning off we all moved back to 50 yards to practice our 499 prone exercise against steel. Shooting steel was nice because we didn't have to keep walking back to the target to see if we were hitting the scoring zone.

After our lunch break and before heading back to the range we saw a short video of Colonel Jeff Cooper explaining the combat mindset. If you're able to find a video of Cooper giving one of his speeches you should take the time to watch it; they are always entertaining and enlightening.

After lunch we spent more time on the square range covering more review from the 250 and 350 classes and started to practice some of the 450 school drill exercises.

In the 499 class we will shoot standing from 25 yards, kneeling from 35 yards and prone from 50 yards and we practiced all these positions in the afternoon.

We finished with retention position shooting with movement off-line before breaking for a briefing on tomorrow's exercises.

Tomorrow we start the simulators, both indoor and outdoor and during the daytime and nighttime. We also get to break early to have a nice dinner at Little Thumb Butte Bed and Breakfast before returning for the night shoot.

I think about how many rounds we shot and don't particularly think that 475 is very many for two days. But then I remember that these were almost all done two at-a-time presenting from the holster with 11 shooters on the line. The time to do it all adds up.

My pistol was slowing down at the end of the day yesterday and the same held true for today. I spent a lot more time in the grit today and I can feel the slowness in my hands when I run the slide. Worse, I can feel grit in the trigger as I feel for trigger reset after taking a shot. I think I'll need to tear the gun down completely to get all the sand out of it and I'll need to do that tonight or move to my backup 1911.

I've got a lot of work to do before I can get to bed and get some much needed sleep.

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