OT Five years goes quickly

About 5 years ago, on 21 March 2006, I had the opportunity to shoot a handgun for the first time as a civilian. I'd shot one a little in
the military (and hated it) but after Katrina and then a week of power-out darkness after a storm in Fridley that same autumn, I felt like a senior gent should perhaps have something more substantial than a baseball bat for home defense during unusual times. Turned out some friends and former colleagues were shooters. I learned this accidentally while they were visiting Mary's late brother's garage to see if they might like to buy some of the tools and machinery at very good prices. Mary likes these guys and she wanted to liquidate the lot so she was willing to give them a very good deal. That turned out well for all. One of them commented to the other about shooting the following Tuesday. I asked them what that was about. Turns out Todd had a pistol of the very model I'd kinda decided on while casually and occasionally shopping over the winter. I asked if I could join them and they graciously invited me to do so. I met them at a local indoor range the following Tuesday. Upon entry to the range, thru double doors that comprise an airlock to contain the noise of gunfire, my first sensation was the aroma of gunsmoke. Nitro fumes. OMG, did that bring back memories! They say that olifactory memories are among the most enduring. I have always enjoyed the smell of gunsmoke! I went plinking with my .22 rifle almost daily during summers as a kid. The Army didn't train me as a rifleman, I trained myself before the Army ever saw me. At the range, Todd asked me if I knew what I was doing. Fair question. Todd is very safety conscious as are we all. I said I would welcome some guidance. He gave me his patent Todd look of "are you pulling my chain or what?" I wasn't. I told him I was a vet but it had been 40 years since I'd handled a loaded pistol. He gave me a quick 15-second familiarization and then said "so shoot!" So I did. It went far better than I expected. I was sniper-grade expert with rifle in the Army but was convinced I couldn't hit the inside of a closet with a pistol. When I was payroll officer with a grocery sack full of cash in a Jeep, I was issued a driver, a .45 and two magazines of ammo. I put the pistol in my holster, the ammo in another pocket so I wouldn't shoot my foot off, got SP/4 Pressfield (best rifleman in the company present company excepted) issued an M-14 rifle with ammo and he rode shotgun while I drove the Jeep. Pressfield was the only enlisted man on that post that had an officer as a driver, how's that for a grin! Hell, the only officers on that post that had military driver licenses were myself and my renegade company commander. Officers usually have drivers. Paul and I were hands-on guys. Part of that was because we went fishing in the lakes in the artillery impact zone after a quick check with our buds over at arty to determine where they'd be shooting that day. Nobody fished those ponds because they were in the impact zone and off limits. Well, duh! We had some goooood fishin while on "classified recon". Back to 2006, I managed to keep most of my shots on a large paper at quite short range that day, and I was delighted. In the ensuing 5 years I practiced and progressed, with the lurches, jerks, plateaus and setbacks that go with accquisition of any skill. We've accquired a few more pistols than we need but not more than we enjoy. I shot a few thousand rounds of ammo along the way. We now have the "gunsmoke luncheon and social" group, good friends that meet monthly: Brian, Todd, Todd's wife Laura, Mary when she can make it, and myself. Mary isn't shooting currently, but Laura has visited her a couple of times. One such time was today. Turns out Laura was trained as a beautician once upon a time so she did Mary's hair today. That was huge for Mary. Laura is a special friend. I need to renew my carry permit in May, so I'm signed up for the required training on the 19th. They do their range qualification at Bill's Gunshop and Range in Robbinsdale, which is where I first shot with Todd and Brian. I hadn't been there for a couple of years because there's another better range (also Bill's) that's no more distant. I decided to go have a shoot there today to reaccquaint myself with the facility and see which of two pistols I might prefer for shooting the qual test. The first time I did that back in 2006 I barely passed it. Barely pass was way better than fail. I'm not used to barely passing tests, but I was a newby at the time so I was quite happy to pass at all. This time I'd like to max it. They want to check each shooter's ammo at Robbinsdale, because there are some kinds of ammo they don't want used on their range. The range in Circle Pines has the same rules but they're not nearly as starchy about checking. Perhaps they recognize most of their frequent flyers out there up north, away from Robbinsdale HQ. The guy looked at my .45 ammo, then at me with the elastic rib bandage I was wearing because of my cracked rib. He's a year younger than I am, not a kid, looks to be in good shape. He said, "you roll those yourself?" "yup" "Looks good to me." He did a high-speed recitation of range rules like they do, like a cop reading a frequent arrestee his rights. I don't mind that because they do change slightly from time to time. I shot 50 rounds each of 9mm and .45. I'd decided a priori that if the heavier .45 hurt my owie then I'd put it away, but it wasn't a problem and I shot it better than the 9mm today. Fifty rounds from 21 feet, .45 ACP (the proverbial ".45 automatic") from a model 1911 which was the U.S. military standard sidearm from 1911 thru about 1985 including both world wars, Korea and 'Nam. In the mid-80's they switched over to a 9mm Beretta which is less powerful but holds more ammo. I think they decided that it was cheaper to issue more ammo than to train soldiers to shoot. I hated that accursed 1911 when it was my assigned sidearm back in the day, because I received about zero training with it and was dismayed with my abysmal capability with it. I'm pleased to report progress and change during the past five years after several thousand rounds. This target was shot from the FBI standard distance of 21 feet with a 1911 ".45 automatic", 50 rounds http://members.goldengate.net/dforeman/tgt3-10 /
I think I have a good chance of maxxing the qual test. There's a bit of pride involved here, since Mary maxed her qual test a coupla years ago. First person that instructor had ever seen max that test. She has never carried and never will, but she wanted a carry permit just because or maybe just in case. It is definitely a convenience. I later learned that it could be a violation of law if any non-permitted person in a motor vehicle can reach a firearm. We don't typically drive around with loaded pistols on the dashboard, but it's impossible to lock unloaded and cased firearms in the trunk of a vehicle that has no trunk -- e.g., the Chevy pickup that we drive to the lake when towing a boat. Rooster feathers: she maxxed her qual with a .22, ah'll be shootin' a forty-fahve ungh hungh ol' Son! There were some newbies, a young man and woman, shooting on a lane a couple down from mine today. They were shooting at an identical target but at closer range. I think they were shooting a Glock 9mm. The bullet holes were uniformly distributed over the entire target so I suspect that some missed the paper completely. Almost been there and done that. I don't think I ever missed the paper but I certainly did distribute over most of the paper five years ago. Wonder how they'll be doing in 2016. Are we having fun yet?
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Snip
Nice work sir! I too always preferred my 1911 or even my .357 S&W to the 9mm. There was nothing wrong with the Ruger, but it just wasn't as satisfying to shoot. Pity our reptile politicians took our (legally held) guns away.

too right!! :>)
JB (in the 'nice and safe'/politcially correct, '(legally held) gun-free' UK)
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Some pretty good shootin there Don.
I'm curious, I've never spent a lot of time target shooting. I'm just naturally fairly good with a 22 Ruger auto and my Glock 9mm. I've shot a couple different revolvers and was pretty good with the .357 and .38. I didn't do very well with a .44 magnum, but the gun weighed more than many rifles.
Now, my dad has a 1911. Recent model, pretty good quality. I can't hit shit with that weapon based on one day at the range. Are there any tricks or coaching here? Or, just put a 1000 rounds through it?
Karl
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It took me 10 recipes to get my SA 1911 to <3" groups at 50'. With factory, it'll do 6". Then there's grip, stance, hold and follow-through. All have to be consistent. For me, especially with the 1911, little changes in grip muscle tension made a big difference in group size. Once I handled it exactly the same way every time, it settled down. It's like an epiphany. Practice consistency, accuracy follows!
The weight of the .44 is a big advantage but you were probably using factory rounds....Ouch! Mine are about 2/3 power and that's when the mass of the revolver shines! It shoots like a .22 with no anticipation or other psychological impediments.
P.S. I'll soon have my "Certified Metallic Cartridge Reloading Instructor" creds along with those for shotgun shell reloading. After that I'll go for Certified Coach. Now if I could just learn to shoot...
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Which model do you have Don?
I recently purchased a evil black rifle (for CMP/NRA highpower competition, White Oak upper, pinned rear sight, 1:7 and mated it to a rock river NM lower, I paid extra for the flash hider and bayonett lug just to give certain politicians the finger) and a 442-1 S&W Airweight. That thing with .38spl +p makes my .44 mag superblackhawk feel like a pussycat. I will not be in the market for a Scandium Airweight in .357mag during this lifetime.
The 1911 is the last gun on my list that I've aways wanted that I'm actually likely to buy in the near future. I decided to drop the Barrett .50 bmg from the list due to lack of range and ranges to shoot it at.
I might open my wallet at some point in the future for a Krag-Jψrgensen that was a shooter and original.     
Wes -- "Additionally as a security officer, I carry a gun to protect government officials but my life isn't worth protecting at home in their eyes." Dick Anthony Heller
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wrote:

I love my 442! It took a while but with light loads it's surprisingly accurate. 6" at 25', on the paper at 50'. 3gr 700x 158gr LSWC.
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On Sat, 12 Mar 2011 17:40:10 -0500, Wes

The Springfield is the "loaded" model. http://www.springfield-armory.com/armory.php?version=4
I've added a Crimson Trace laser. Old eyes.
It's great for target shooting and a lot of fun to shoot, but the trigger would be too light for adrenaline situations. I bought it for enjoyable paper punching. The trigger on it was what wouldn't let me leave it in the store where it was shown to me.
This model had about as much "customization" as I thought I'd be likely to do or be able to appreciate on a 1911, and it's really more cost-effective to buy it that way out-of-the-box than buy a basic 1911 and start fixing it -- unless you're a gunsmith. A Chuck Hawkes review of this model made essentially the same conclusion.
I've handled a number of 1911's since then but none that I've liked any better. I haven't handled any of the really spendy hand-made jobs like Wilson Combat, Les Baer and such. I've handled some Kimbers, didn't like them as well.
I also have a Colt Officer's 1911. http://www.guncollectorsclub.com/officer.htm Mine does not have mother-of-pearl grips (!) I hunted for that for over a year. Some dealers told me they just never see them and others said when one does come in the gunsmith grabs it so it never makes it to the showcase. I found it at Gunsamerica online and grabbed it before it'd been there a day. The price was right and it was in perfect operational condition though a bit holster-worn in a couple of places. It's not a showpiece but it is definitely a shooter.
The trigger on that one is also glass-break crisp, but with pull weight comparable to a Glock or XD.
A couple of years ago I took a "close quarters battle" course which was really just a fancy testosterone-dripping name for about 90 minutes of training and coaching on short-range rapid-fire shooting by pointing rather than aiming with sights or laser. Emphasis is on getting a first HIT in min time and following that by more hits. It included moving targets and very low visibility situations including nearly total darkness.
It was a LOT of fun. I did OK with the XD .40 and surprised myself a little with the little Walther PPK, but when I tried the Colt Officer's the instructor's comment was simply, "Holy shit, Don! That .45 is the only gun you need!"
My performance shooting bullseye or deliberate fire with that pistol is very mediocre but it rocks for delivering very rapid COM hits under stress. That instructor was really good at creating stress in a range situation by shouting "faster, faster, NOW NOW NOW", haranguing, even physical bonking. After 90 minutes,about 200 rounds and a couple dozen silhouette targets I felt like I'd been pounded thru a knothole, but I was grinning.
I did it purely for fun, and I was not disappointed!
Para makes some 1911's. I don't have a Para 1911 but I do have a "Carry9 LDA" which means light double action. I am very impressed with Para. I really like that pistol, bought used, but I did have a problem with it. Broken extractor. They fixed it with absolutely no hassle. Their guarantee is sorta like Dillon's: no bullshit, ever. Their customer service is exemplary.
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http://www.gunblast.com/Bersa_Thunder380.htm Jeff said real nice things about the trigger on my Bersa .380 as well.
"One of the first notable features of this pistol is the trigger pull. It has, without a doubt, the smoothest double-action trigger pull that I have ever felt on an auto pistol, regardless of price. I wish that some of the high-dollar European manufacturers could produce a pistol with a trigger pull as smooth and light as this Bersa. The feel is absolutely butter-smooth with a constant force of about seven pounds. Also, the single-action pull breaks cleanly with just a bit of over travel, at around three pounds. "
And, yeah, yeah, it comes in a .45 as well . . .
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wrote:

Is there an IDPA chapter near you? You'd love it! I use my XD-9, SA Loaded and I'm going to try my M-64 .38 revolver this Friday.
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I have enough for one of those in my coin cans rolled up. I sent an email to my ffl guy asking him to quote one with the indication I'll wait until he can get one since it is being allocated to dealers. He has been really good on transfers, some where I bought the gun from another dealer so he didn't get a chance at selling it to me.
It wouldn't be a CCW gun for me. More likely a IDPA gun just to see how well I could do with the 1911. For carry I have other firearms.
The 1911 is a nostalgia piece for me. The first firearm I ever shot as a small boy, I struggled with a worn out pos during boot, and I've always liked it.
My first shot/target
http://www.garage-machinist.com/usenet/rcm/pepsi.jpg I figured hitting it on the first try was a good sign ;)
Wes
-- "Additionally as a security officer, I carry a gun to protect government officials but my life isn't worth protecting at home in their eyes." Dick Anthony Heller
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I'm now looking at the Range Officer PI9128LP. It most closely resembles uncles gun I learned to shoot with. Assuming I like the quote I get tomorrow, I'll put it on order.
You know, I've bought new cars with less thought than buying a firearm.
Wes -- "Additionally as a security officer, I carry a gun to protect government officials but my life isn't worth protecting at home in their eyes." Dick Anthony Heller
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My 442 shooting 125g +p is a 30 round handgun. After 30 rounds, you really don't want finish off the rest of the box of ammo. I am so glad I didn't buy a .357 mag 13.6 oz scandium snubbie. I feel the 442 for a couple days in my wrist after a range session.
Five shots out of it I suspect are far more usefull than 8 shots out of my Bersa in .380 acp.
Wes -- "Additionally as a security officer, I carry a gun to protect government officials but my life isn't worth protecting at home in their eyes." Dick Anthony Heller
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wrote:

Placement is EVERYTHING! I doubt I'll ever try +p in the 442, factory are hurtful enough. I used to carry with factory but feel more confident with the control I get with my loads. I know I can hit a 6" circle at 25' so I should be able to hit a 12" circle under duress. It's a point-n-click device and I practice that rather than careful aiming.
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I don't plan to do much practice with +P other than maybe a cylinder or two each range session and I'm going to restrict my self to shooting the snubby until after I've performed my shall we say 'fine' shooting with my other guns. That airweight will induce a flinch if you shoot it too much.
Wes
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On Sun, 13 Mar 2011 16:59:20 -0400, Wes

There is at least one opinion to the contrary. From Chuck Hawke's website http://www.chuckhawks.com/ammo_by_anonymous.htm
" .380 ACP (9mm Short, 9x17mm, 9mm Kurz)
Now we're getting into some decent stopping power. The three or four best .380 JHP rounds have better stopping power than ANY bullet fired out of 2" barrel .38 Special snub-nose. All of the Big Five make good hollowpoints for this caliber. The Remington 88 grain JHP is the most reliably-feeding hollowpoint but slightly less effective than the Hydra-shok or Cor-Bon. Reliability is crucial, and thus you must test the rounds before carrying.
I recommend the following two cartridges above all others:
-Federal 90 gr. Hydra-shok (P380HS1 H) - the best standard-pressure .380 JHP load, period. -Cor-Bon 90 gr. JHP - the most powerful .380 hollowpoint, bar none."
--
I don't know if he included .38 Special +P ammo in this opinion. The
442 is rated for +P. I've not shot a 442, but I don't find +P ammo
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On Sun, 13 Mar 2011 23:43:23 -0500, Don Foreman

125gr Federal Nyclads when you can find them for the snubbies in 38
141gr hollow base full wad cutters turned backwards and fired about 800 fps when you cant find Nyclads.
Good out to 20 yrds and a smidge more, but designed for up close and personal....7yrds
Easy on the hands, hard on the target.
Gunner
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On Sat, 12 Mar 2011 01:12:32 -0600, Don Foreman

My standard ,45 load is 7.2gr Red Dot under a 221 cast SWC and over a CCI 200 primer.
It duplicates my street ammo using a 230 JHP
Might be a bit stiff for some, but all my 45s have heavy duty recoil springs (most double stacked) and shock buffers.
Ive fired somewhere in excess of 250,000 rounds of this load over the past 20 yrs. Probably close to 500,000 rds.
This load is pretty freaking good as a self defense load as is, based on tests on animals as big as steers and several street shootings by others who carry this load solely.
Gunner
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On Fri, 11 Mar 2011 21:24:38 -0600, Karl Townsend

I'd say 1000 rounds, 100 rounds or so per session, providing that you're not practicing any bad habits. It's important not to practice bad habits so early detection is very useful. Alternating with your .22 will reveal any anticipation or flinching that's starting to creep in. If you're shooting the Ruger well, you'll eventually shoot the 1911 just as well.
Bad habits can creep in even after having been licked several times. I still get a little of that now and then. On the few rounds that didn't go thru the ragged hole in the head of that silhouette you saw, I knew the instant those shots were fired that I'd jerked them. I still can't shoot 50 rounds with a 1911 without jerking at least a couple of them. I have no such problem with a .357 revolver firing single-action. I do tend to shoot a revolver more slowly, maybe as much as 2 seconds per round.
I think having a .22 available is a huge help in learning to shoot handguns well. The two I like best for that are the Ruger and the Browning Buckmark with bull barrel. I regard it as an essential training aid. That's exactly why I bought my Browning Buckmark after being less than thrilled with my progress with the .40S&W at about the 300-round mark. It worked. It's a nice little .22, was quite inexpensive at the time. It's fussy about ammo but even good .22 rimfire ammo (CCI mini-mag high velocity) is very inexpensive.
The Ruger is a more accurate pistol, costs a bit more and is worth it, but the Buckmark had ergonomics and balance more similar to my XD .40 The Buckmark is Mary's hands down favorite.
Focus a little on your grip for a couple of sessions. Try to achieve the best muzzle control you can. Grip doesn't matter much on a .22 that has no recoil, but it does matter on a .40 or .45, particularly so with semiautos. The firing rate I used when shooting that silhouette was about 1 shot per second or maybe a bit faster. If I shoot more slowly I get worse. You don't need to strangle the grip but you do want a firm grip. Minimize side pressure from thumbs. Given a firm grip, stiff wrists are where muzzle control comes from, particulary with semiautos in .40S&W and .45ACP.
Another beneficial drill is dry fire because it will ingrain good habits of grip, sight picture, breathing and control without distracting recoil. It also helps you get to know the trigger on a particular piece, particularly the 1911. Good 1911's tend to have good triggers, noticably different from polymer pistols. The weight, balance and grip are also different. The grip is thinner, being a single-stacker while nearly all of the polymer pups are fatter gripped doublestackers. That's neither bad nor good, just different.
After ensuring that the piece was clear every time I picked it up, I clicked 20 clicks at a small target on the wall of my shop 21 feet from where I'm sitting right now. I did that every evening for a couple of years and I really think that helped.
It might not take you that long, everyone is different. I once had a young woman (engineer) who had only shot one other time in her life pick up that 1911 and damn near outshoot me. She was an athletic type, had climbed some world-class mountains before age 20. Her intensity of focus was total and amazing. I don't think she'd have noticed if her hair was on fire when she was aiming that pistol.
It did take me several thousand handgun rounds total (all calibers, revolvers and semiautos) to develop any facility with the 1911. A little of that may have been that I'd been so sure for 40 years that I was just no damned good with a 1911. But once it started to work for me, it became almost addictive. My two favorites to shoot are now the 1911 and a S&W 686 .357 with 6" barrel. I'm already hankerin' to go again but I'm clear outta .45 ammo so I'll be stroking Mr. Dillon's handle a couple three hunnerd times tomorrow.
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Thank you for another Don Foreman gun smoke story. I enjoy them.
Wes -- "Additionally as a security officer, I carry a gun to protect government officials but my life isn't worth protecting at home in their eyes." Dick Anthony Heller
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On Fri, 11 Mar 2011 14:09:20 -0600, Don Foreman

Very well done, Don.
<G>
Good indeed!
Gunner
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