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Get More From Your Shooting: Do Your Homework, Bring What you Need and Have Fun

For our next visit to the world of Wonky, let’s look at some other things that people get all knotted up about, and seek harmony within the firearms sporting community. After all, wouldn’t it be grand if we could just accept that we’re all different, and choices we make are for our own happiness, and might not work for all?

This segment will have items that just aren’t sexy, but they are things you will need for the next range visit. Right off the proverbial bat- let’s talk about the clothing. Wear stuff you don’t care about. Wear shoes you don’t mind pitching after a few range visits. Have a container of De-Lead wipes in your range bag. Here is why- shooting involves nasty by products that can kick your ass later in life. Lead reduction whenever possible can mitigate this.

In my community, some of us remember “this guy”. He’s a full time Range Instructor like those in my area of operations. Long story short, his little girl got sick. After exhaustive testing, her lead levels were found to be very high. The culprit was her wearing his boots, as children will do. Keep your gear away from the little ones. No one likes to think of a sick child, especially when we can avoid it. Also use De Lead soap when you get home. Launder your range attire away from the family stuff. Do not EVER put spent brass in your ball cap as you pick it up. Lead will penetrate your skin in more ways than one. If you’re male, and lead gets in your blood stream, maybe you know where it goes. If not, there is your homework assignment- study lead poisoning. None of this was sexy, but it’s important. So is the constant use of sunscreen, eyes/ears, head gear, and bug spray.

While we’re on the topic of Protective gear, realize this. Setting yourself up for range training can indeed get expensive. If every member in the house is also training with you (as they should be), multiply that cost for every shooter in the house. Does any family member deserve cheaper gear than what you have? No. Suddenly, all the Man Pretty Stuff isn’t so important anymore, is it?
Here is another thing to avoid, until everyone in your domicile “squad” is squared away. This advice comes from hundreds of hours of watching professional people on a range. Splat Targets. Yes, they are fun to tinker with, and they can help (depending on type) on days when you may have left the spotting scope at home to bring an item like the bug spray. They can give you visible feedback when shooting at say, 50 yards. This is good for those days when a lot of people are there, and target observation is coordinated like a parade.

Working on a range with people you don’t know can be unnerving, and sometimes a splat target is useful. Pre-plan exactly what you need to hump to the range. Range and family time is extremely important, make it count. Back to splat targets. What you will find (if you don’t already know) is that people are extremely focused on watching targets, instead of sights. When you give them a target that changes colors, whether they are doing well, or terrible, they will REALLY start having sight picture/alignment issues. This is the bad thing with splat targets.

Range targets are terrible to begin with. They hold still, and most of them are even audacious enough to have a reward system on them (point rings). Primary focus on the range is safety, of course, and proper projectile placement, promoting postponing peril. Wasn’t all of this kind of like P7? P7 translates to this- Proper Pre-Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance.

A by product of splat targets is color change, obviously, but they usually come in circular form. They are also expensive. Do yourself and the family a favor- buy anatomical targets, and study basic anatomy, instead of rotting your brain with Insta Face Twitter Chat, or whatever the hell it is that takes so much of peoples time today. Learn from your targets what you are damaging/destroying with your bullets. The use of anatomical targets will also point out something that a LOT of people do, whether cognizant of it, or not.

Get yourself some targets that have organs, bones, and arteries displayed. A visible brain and T-Box are also good, as is a spinal column/pelvis. To make the package complete, the target needs to be clearly armed. Work people up with boring Q-Targets and all of the other targets out there, while staying away from the splat type. As you get people more proficient, introduce armed anatomical targets. Ideally, this type of target “aims” the firearm they’re holding at the shooter.

Keep the distance close, say 3 yards. Have the people fire what you dictate, say something simple, like 3 rounds, 3 seconds. Invariably, you will see rounds hitting the “gun” the threat target is holding. Why? Because the brain recognizes the perceived “threat”, and rounds will hit there, whether the shooter is cognizant of aiming there, or not. This is fact.

This type of range work provides actual learning. Your job is to point out the next prudent facet, and it is this- this drill is bloodless, you are merely shooting a piece of paper, with an “armed” target positioned to “fire” back. Look at how many times the hands/gun are struck, and expect the same to happen to you. This is cold truth. You have decided to carry a firearm to protect the closest people in your life. Hopefully, you work way harder than the piddly required state “proficiency” portion of your CCW/CPL, EIEIO class. No one talked about getting shot, did they? No one promoted that 30$ tourniquet you’re probably needing about now, did they? You likely got some fire/brimstone warnings about litigation, but you can’t go to prison after you bleed to death, now can you?

We all want to have fun out there with the wife and kids, range time is critical, but answer this question, Dear Reader- do you have a blow out kit on you while you’re all pecking away? Probably not. Maybe you should?  We talked about Re-loader Guy, Trigger Job, and Gucci Guy earlier, and chances are, they’re loitering around, because they see you with your “high speed” anatomical targets, and this will get their attention. Let’s say one of them does something stupid, and takes a ding, you know damn well they don’t have a solitary first aid kit amongst them. But YOU do. They may be a motley assortment of goof balls and weirdos, but you don’t want them to croak. By extension, you do have a fire extinguisher in the car in case you happen across a vehicle fire, don’t you?

Okay, we’ve talked about 1 way to make our targets realistic, and one target type to stay away from. Let’s take the same anatomical and play “chase the dot”. We all know what this means, correct? If not, here is how the game is played. With an anatomical target, whoever goes first gets to pick an organ. Say shooter 1 calls out “liver”, they put a round through the liver. Shooter 2 places their shot as close to the first shot as they can. Is a liver shot immediately fatal? Probably not, but it hurts like hell to take a punch or kick there. Anyway, there are goals here, the shooters learn trigger control, shot placement, and they’re learning about anatomy as they practice. Start close, like 3 yards. As your people get better, increase distance. Have them draw before each shot, and scan/holster after finishing, but do this with caution. DO NOT let people condition themselves to holster up after 1 or 2 shots. This will get people killed. DO NOT let range time devolve into hardwiring in fatal flaws. When everyone gets really good, shooter 2 calls the target, and shooter 1 has to hit the shot demanded. You can learn alot from simple stuff like this. You can factor in (with developed skill sets) motion, dummy rounds, and reloads. This means that at least a second magazine is mandatory.

Another cool thing for a semblance of realism is this- save some of the old tee shirts that everyone trashes out, and aren’t in good enough condition to donate to Good Will. Cut cardboard to match the shape of your target, which you remove via exacto knife. It gives you an arguably more “human” perspective with a tee shirt stretched over it, and it “covers” up the normally visible anatomical display. If you want to take things a step further, pool noodles can be fashioned into “arms”, and you can zip tie dollar store guns into their “hands”. I’ve done this, and the same thing applies, even more frequently. Because the target is more “human” shaped, those “guns” the target is holding get the bejeepers shot out of them.

The most sophisticated target “gun” you can make involves shaping/taping with multiple templates of cardboard stacked together, and thoroughly duct taped, and spray painted black. Crude, but effective. The tee shirt takes away the formerly “exposed” organs, and if you’re squared away, you should have a pretty good idea where your rounds impacted on the threat. If not, then you need more remedial training.

There are a couple factors for consideration with stuff like this. Bad guys don’t walk around with scoring rings on their attire. Sure, it would be helpful, but until we know for sure EXACTLY which people are the bad ones, we can’t mail them their Target Shirts. This is irony. That’s why we have to look at everybody as we wander through life.

The second factor is this- color, and blood. If you’ve not spent enough time outside at night, everything tends to get dark, clothing wise. Even the guys who run ranges with khaki pants and red shirts (just like Jake…from State Farm) have subdued coloration in low light conditions. If you’ve not noticed this before, there’s some more homework. The blood part is not a huge concern, because you, as a private citizen, are not the one to track the person down after you’ve wounded them. The point with blood is this- on dark clothing, it’s very difficult to see. It does not fly out of people (typically with pistol ammo) like you see on television (the accurate purveyor of all things shooting related).

So, there we have it, several things that hopefully you are already doing, and if not, maybe you should start doing.
1-Have everything needed for a successful Range Day
2-Have spares of things like foam ear plugs. We’ve all seen the goober that left his at home
3-Use anatomical targets to make things more realistic and stress shot placement
4-Understand shots will hit the targets “gun” and hands, just like real bullets will do to you.
5-Have at least a spare mag, and a TQ, and skills to apply it.
6-Don’t build in bad habits like holstering too soon
7-Understand that there aren’t known distances in gunfights
8-Understand bad guys don’t have B-27 scoring rings or Q’s on their outer most garment
9-Understand that only CNS hits drop targets instantaneously with pistol rounds
10-Lead is a sneaky patient killer, with horrible side effects. Educate yourself

Until next time, Train safe/train often.

Featured image by Heath Layman.

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