Monday, September 30, 2013

Gunsite 499 Advanced Pistol - Day 3

By Dave Dargo

An exhausting day that started at 8:00 in the morning and finished about 9:30 at night, though we did take a 2 1/2 hour break for dinner.

This morning had us jump right into simulators, both indoor and outdoor.

The indoor simulator is a fairly straightforward shoot-house with static targets; both shoot and no-shoot. As I approached the door of the house the instructor said, "They're holding my daughter in there." Here's a clue, there's probably going to be a hostage target as well.

In the 499 class you're encouraged to move quickly and purposefully with three questions to ask: Where is the next potential danger area? From what position can I clear that area? How do I get to that position?

There are lots of doors and corners in this rather shabby house with well-worn furniture and appliances and we can't forget to clear the open windows. If someone can be there we better be clearing it. Even though the targets are static it is still a bit stressful as one attempts to solve each of the problems presented. One thought I had was I certainly wouldn't want a house with so many corners. Most of the distances in the house would dictate hammers rather than controlled pairs but we can also expect to have to make at least one head shot and we will have at least one no-shoot target. Being sure we understand what we see is critical - look at the hands of the targets to determine if they're a threat.

Immediately after the house clearing simulation we go to an outdoor simulator which is in an Arizona wash. I don't like the outdoor simulators though the hunters in the group seem to prefer them. The house exercises are a little more cozy and contained from my perspective and that allows me to break the larger problem down into a series of smaller problems. The targets in the outdoor simulators are a bit more difficult for me. The targets are grey pepper poppers and any no-shoot targets have the bottom painted red. We find the targets long before we are able to determine if they are shoot or no-shoot.

The only negative about the simulators is there's a fair amount of down time as we all wait for each other to finish.

After the simulators we were back on the square range and a smaller range shooting steel. We did the Dozier Drill as well as a number of other manufactured drills involving knocking over steel. Shooting steel is always fun as its a lot more satisfying seeing the immediate reaction rather than having to walk back and forth scoring a paper target.

On the square range we started to seriously practice the 499 school drills: 2 shots to each of two targets from 3 yards in 2 seconds, 2 shots to two targets from 7 yards in 3 seconds, 2 shots to two targets from 10 yards in 4 seconds, 2 shots to two targets from 25 yards in 5 seconds, 2 shots to a single target from 35 yards kneeling in 3 1/2 seconds and 2 shots to a single target from 50 yards prone in 7 seconds. All the pressure in these drills is internally generated but still palpable as each shooter attempts to better their score.

Besides the school drills we also worked on shooting while moving, shooting at moving targets and more and more school drills.

At this point it was time for a break so we went to Little Thumb Butte Bed and Breakfast for a nice dinner and some relaxation before our night shoot began.

At 6:30 we reconvened for another indoor and outdoor simulation with our flashlights ready.

The house simulation still wasn't overly complicated but the spaces became a bit tighter, the retreat positions became fewer and the targets were more hidden requiring a little stretching to get to the proper shooting position. Still, I prefer the indoor at night over any outdoor simulator.

But, alas, after I finished the indoor simulator it was time to go to the outdoor simulator. The same types of changes we saw to the indoor simulator applied to the outdoor as well.

Did I say I still prefer the indoor simulators? I learn a lot from the outdoor simulators but there's just too much going on for my taste.

We went through another 150 rounds of ball ammunition today and about 70 rounds of frangible in the simulators.

It was a long and busy day and we start again tomorrow with even more difficult problems to solve. I hope I can get through them without too much personal embarrassment.

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