Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Gunsite 499 Advanced Pistol - Day 5 - Part 1

By Dave Dargo

The final day comes with a mixture of emotions. We've made it through four grueling days of square-range work, indoor and outdoor simulators, day and night shooting and one challenge after another. We've all been extremely safe with our pistol handling and there have been no concerns with any of our fellow students.

We can all see improvements in our gun handling and marksmanship skills and we're all eager to get through today's tests.

As we got through the week we've had feelings of exhaustion and disappointment in our own individual performance as well as feelings approaching giddiness when we solved complex problems. For me I hit a brick wall on Wednesday evening and had difficulty getting through that night's shoot. Thursday picked up for me and the night shoot on Thursday evening re-invigorated me with the challenges it presented.

But now it's Friday, test day. Today we will perform our school drills for marksmanship grading, engage in force-on-force challenges, have fun at the scrambler and do our shoot-off before graduating later today. Everyone seems to be excited to have made it to Friday while at the same time a little down about having to go home. Just as we're becoming competent at the challenges Gunsite is delivering to us it's time to pack it all up and head home leaving behind a place that has become home during the previous week.

For me the day started with a little warm-up on the square range. We immediately transitioned to our school drills for scoring. In the school drills we work with turning targets, drawing from the holster when the target turns and delivering the required shots in the required manner:
  • 3-yards, 2 seconds, two shots to each of two targets - standing
  • 7-yards, 3 seconds, two shots to each of two targets - standing
  • 10-yards, 4 seconds, two shots to each of two targets - standing
  • 25-yards, 5 seconds, two shots to teach of two targets - standing
  • 35-yards, 3 1/2 seconds, two shots to one target - kneeling
  • 50-yards, 7 seconds, two shots to one target - prone
It's a total of 20 shots for a total possible score of 100 points. The target is an 18" x 30" silhouette with an 8" center-of-mass circle. If the shot is in the circle it's worth 5 points, if it's in the silhouette but outside the circle it's worth 2 points. Beyond 15 yards the circle defining center-of-mass gets lost in the camouflage of the target's silhouette.

I felt good about my shooting while I was doing it but it's a long way back from the 50-yard line as we approached our targets to see just how well we did. My target looked pretty good but I couldn't really tell yet. I had five shots just outside the center-of-mass circle; shots approaching a 10-12" diameter. Those shots were well within the silhouette, though. I couldn't quite tell about the shots in the circle - it looked like 15 shots between the two targets but there were some double and even triple-shot holes. I got a lot of friendly grief from the instructor as he was scoring the target, "Next time spread the shots out so I can count them." He confirmed what I thought: 15 shots in the circles and 5 outside but on the silhouette for a score of 85 out of 100. I was pleased. The best score in the class was 88.

It was now time for the demi-presidente drill: facing up-range turn on the signal and engage three targets. Two shots center-of-mass to each of the targets, speed reload followed by a single head-shot to each of the targets. Par time is 10 seconds with a par score of 45. Go faster than 10 seconds and gain 5 points for each second but lose 5 points for each second over 10. The purpose of the test is to combine the pressure of speed with movement before shooting, and, of course, accuracy. Yesterday, during practice I was consistently scoring 42 points - I was shooting at the 10-second mark but usually had one shot outside the marked target areas but still on the silhouette.

Today wasn't so good. I delivered the body shots, reloaded and had a click when I went to fire the first head shot. I performed an immediate-action drill to clear the malfunction and delivered the head shots. Unfortunately, it wasn't a malfunction of the pistol but of me. I hadn't engaged the grip safety properly after the reload - performing the immediate-action drill forced me to re-grip properly solving the problem.

During any of the drills if you have a malfunction but clear it properly you gain that clearance time back. Because I didn't have a malfunction I didn't get the time back and lost points. By the time I was done I had a score of 25 - very disappointing.

My mistake caused a lot of discussion about grip safeties, the fact that we're not in the cavalry and that pinning the grip safety on a 1911 may cause issues for someone involved in a shooting. Regardless of the fact that some government beureaucrat forced Browning to install the grip safety contrary to his original design, the cause of me not firing was all my own caused by trying to be faster rather than smoother.

Now we had something that comes up during the simulators on each of the days and that's waiting. It wasn't my turn yet to go through the force-on-force simulator so I had to wait. Fortunately, no one else was back from their force-on-force simulation so we waited by shooting on the square-range and I have no problem spending an hour throwing lead down-range.

In the next section I'll go over the force-on-force simulator.



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