Thoughts On Competitive Shooting

The Sig P320 FAQ

January 2nd, 2016 | Posted by Tobias in Gear | IDPA | News | Reviews | USPSA - (3 Comments)

XE2-1461Being that the Sig P320 is a relatively new platform in terms of USPSA, I thought I’d post a quick FAQ about it as it relates to our sport. But in a nutshell, the Sig P320 is a modular handgun where the serialized component is not the frame, rather the Fire Control Unit, or FCU, that has isolated the components of the firing system into its own standardized module that can be moved across a multitude of components allowing for a quick transition to any other calibers and platforms and allowing endless customization. In fact, it was this customization that initially won me over to the platform.

Note, this is a living document so expect some changes and updates as things change.

Last update, 2.4.2016.

The Sig P320 FAQ


Basic Information on the Sig Sauer P320

Is it Legal to Shoot in USPSA/IDPA?

  • Yes – USPSA NROI Production Gun List
  • IPSC – Yes: IPSC Production Gun List
  • IDPA – Yes, but note that IDPA doesn’t maintain a list of approved pistols, rather a list of requirements.
    • IDPA CCP rule is barrel length of 4.1″ or less. SIG P320 Full-Size has a 4.7″ barrel. SSP legal, not CCP legal. The Carry and Compact versions with 3.9″ barrels are legal for CCP and SSP.
    • With it’s 3.6″ barrel the SIG P320 compact is IDPA BUG legal.

Sig P320 Specific Gunsmiths – This is not the definitive list by any means, but these three gunsmiths are by far, the de facto wizards of the P320

Available Sights for Competition

  • Dawson Precision has a Fixed Set for Competition that I feel is sized incorrectly at .200 tall rear and a .205 tall front. For me, it shoots far too high. I currently have a .200 rear and a .215 front that shoots about one inch high at 25 yards. I think a .220 would be perfect, but will get one and confirm. As for widths, I am currently shooting the .115 rear and the .100 front. I am having a custom set made by Dawson/Burke that will be .125 rear and .115 front with some other little touches that I prefer. More on that later.
  • Gray Guns has a sight set for the P320 that unfortunately isn’t sold, rather fitted so currently you’ll need to send your slide to him for his custom made rear (which is my favorite once produced at the moment) and a Dawson Precision fiber optic front.

CR Speed Magazine Pouches

  • Will they work? Yes, with a little work. Apparently they molds used to create the CR Speed magazine pouches and inserts were made long before the P320 existed, so none of the included inserts work out of the box. But if you use the STI/SV insert and put a shim (I use a 1/16″ flat washer) in between it and the wall of the magazine pouch it works swimmingly.

Accessories and Parts – With any new platform, it’s going to take some time for the aftermarket to ramp up once the platform has proven that it’s going to survive and there are common demands for improved/custom/desired options. For now, it’s pretty slim which is partly due to how new the gun is, but also in large part a testament to how Sig got it right.

Common Issues

  • Dead Trigger – This isn’t really an issue per se, but rather part a safety feature, the crux of it resulting in a “dead trigger” after reassembly. Once you reattach the slide you are required to lock the slide back using the slide catch. Pushing the slide catch up will release the safety disconnect inside the FCU and return the pistol to normal operation. We all do this once.
  • Pinched finger/Dirty finger – the gap in the Grip Module where the trigger exists that can allow some escaping gas to flow and/or pinch the user’s finger. To address these complaints, the latest revision of the FCU includes the “Adverse Trigger,” which essentially provides a wing on top of the trigger that fills more of the gap, as well as slightly extends the tip of the trigger.
  • Slide Not Locking Back on Empty Magazine – This is most certainly due to the position of the slide catch lever being too far rear, too big, and too wide. Many shooters, including myself, using an aggressive/high grip will inadvertently press the catch lever up enough to prevent the slide from locking back. Sig has redesigned the slide catch lever to be half the size, and extend forward as to prevent interference as well as built a “fence” around the catch lever to further shield it. For me, this part was a must have, and fixed the problem in short order. Note that Sig responded to this (as well as the larger Take Down Lever that most people hate) and now ship with the updated parts, see my post HERE. If you want the new smaller Slide Catch Lever, it can be had from Sig by calling them directly. The revised part number is 1300891-R. And if you hate the original Take Down Lever, you might as well order the new flat version, part number 1300777-R.
  • The gun prints high with the factory sights – If you’re getting factory sights, you might want to get the tall front and short rear.
  • Extraction – I don’t think this is a major issue, but I have heard of some people having issues with extraction, usually remedied with a new extractor.
  • Recoil/Muzzle Flip – This is not so much an issue as it is a misconception. Due to it’s higher bore axis, it is assumed that it will have more leverage against the shooter, thus have more muzzle flip. I myself had assumed this would be the case coming from the Glock G34 with a grip so high that I’d get the occasional slide bite. But truth be told, it has turned out not to be the case. In fact I can easily control recoil, far better than I ever could with my G34, and with much less effort with my box stock Sig. This “issue” is a non-issue, so don’t let it influence your decision.

What Parts to Have on Hand – So far, the P320 seems to be without an obvious Achille’s heel, but it’s really too soon to say. The pistol does have an inordinate amount of tiny springs, some of which are difficult to remove/install and are easily lost, so it’s a good idea to have some spares on hand in case of loss or damage. I spent a half an hour on the phone with some poor Sig sales person who helped me identify and order the parts, so I though I’d list the part SKU’s and Descriptions here for anyone needing to place an order.

  • Spring, Safety Lever, 320 – 1300673-R
  • Spring, Sear – 1300799-R
  • Spring, Striker Reset – 1300848-R
  • Spring, Safety Lock – 1300857-R
  • Spring, Striker 320 – 1300979-R
  • Spring, Trigger Bar 250, 320 – SPRING-5 – Brownells now carries this one.
  • Spring, Mag Catch, 250, 290 – SPRING-51
  • A spare extractor
  • Lucas Oil and Grease – It’s the official recommendation of Sig and Bruce Gray

Other Parts and Maintenance – Some other parts you may want to have because of revisions or wear

  • Lucas Oil and Grease
  • The revised flat Take Down Lever from Sig – 1300777-R
  • The revised smaller Slide Catch Lever from Sig – 1300891-R
  • Guide Rod and Spring – It seems that most are pitching the factory guide rod assembly and getting a new guide rod that accepts 1911 springs. Gray Guns and Springer Precision both offer one.
  • Spare extractor


  • Alma Cole has created a series of excellent videos on YouTube demonstrating how to tear down and reassemble the P320’s Fire Control Unit as well as tricks to getting the Trigger Bar Spring removed/reinstalled. Alma also offers permanent grip texturing if you are tired of slipping grip tape.
  • My competition load – 125 grain SNS RN bullet, 3.8 grains of Tite Group, CCI 500 primer, OAL is 1.1475. It averages 1023 FPS and 127 Power Factor.

Sig P320 Specific Sites

Shooting Stats for 2015

January 2nd, 2016 | Posted by Tobias in Gear | News | Production - (Comments Off on Shooting Stats for 2015)

Screen Shot 2016-01-01 at 9.13.10 AMAs 2015 yields to 2016 and the confetti is still being swept up from the ball drop, I like to reflect upon the last year’s shooting season and set my goals for following year. 2015 was pretty interesting for me competitively in that is was as frustrating as it was gratifying. With only 6112 rounds fired this year, it is likely the least amount of shots fired since picking up the shooting sports. The same hip that I had reconstructed in January 2015 was re-injured and a subsequent surgery was required a few weeks ago. It’s been tough to compete, practice, and dry fire while needing to move very slow and gingerly, so as expected, my skills are not what they once were, and my stage times are pitiful.

I also really struggled with shooting in the Open division and the ongoing optic issues that seemed to haunt me. Going back to Production was really the shot in the arm I needed to put the energy and enthusiasm back into the sport for me. Conversely, discovering the Sig P320 has been one of the highlights of the year for me when it comes to equipment. It’s been a delight to shoot as well as the picture of reliability. Although I’m still waiting on my “Burke-a-fide” P320 race gun to find its way back from the smith, I continue to be impressed with the box stock P320 I’m using right now. Other than some decent sights, I could probably happily compete with the stock platform and not need anything more, it’s literally that good.

Outside of gear, shooting highlights of the year were pretty slim due to the fact I really didn’t get to shoot much. Ironically, I did wind up making A class in USPSA Production after shooting Open for a while. I guess I was able to pick up some skills in Open after all.

One other thing that I would file in the “good” column from 2015 is that I think I finally figured out how to train, as funny as that sounds. I recently posted about Training with Purpose and that has already beginning to accelerate my learning. I’ve been looking at shooting as if I’m just starting and questioning everything I do and how I do it. For example, the way I grip my pistol has changed dramatically in the last month and just doing that has allowed me to break through some of my speed barriers. I’m starting back at the beginning and building each piece and skill back up in the proper way. I know that sounds pretty boring and vague, but in reality, it’s been invigorating and exciting.

So with that, let’s throw down the gauntlet and list the goals for the upcoming year.

  • I want to make Master class in Production. And not just get the card, I want to shoot at that level and then some. Even though I hold an A card now, I don’t consider myself an A class shooter, so I’ve got my work cut out for me. I really do feel that I’m discovering lots of new skills, so it’s just honing those and being consistent. Getting close.
  • Shot Confidence. I want to know that there are no shots that I can’t make and do it quickly. I’m getting back to that that with the Sig already, but that has always been freestyle, but I need to have that same confidence shooting strong hand only/weak hand only. Practice, practice, practice. Always working on the fundamentals and raising my baseline marksmanship skills.
  • Speed. Speed. And more speed.
  • Major matches – I did squeeze in a sectional match this year, but that was the extent of it. Hopefully I’ll get to an Area match and who know, perhaps I’ll make it to Nationals this year.



I’ve recently moved to the Sig Sauer P320 as my new USPSA Production platform after quite a bit of vetting. The pistol fits me so well that I’m able to drive it much harder with less recoil than anything I’ve tried up to this point. It’s every bit as accurate as the CZ’s out there in Production, light as the Glock, and seems to be as reliable as they come. Out of the box it is very capable, but it does need a few items addressed to allow it’s driver to get everything it’s capable of delivering. With that in mind, I thought I’d outline what I’m doing to prepare my P320 for the world of competition.

The primary reason I switched to the Sig from the Glock was ergonomics. The gun has to fit your hand so the shooter and the pistol can achieve maximum performance. The P320 ships with a Medium size Grip Module but several sizes are available, so be sure to try out the various sizes and select the one that best fits your hands. In my case, the Small Grip Module fits extremely well. For a little more traction of the pistol, a sheet of tall custom grip tape from Springer Precision was added and baked on with a heat gun.

The stock sights were replaced with a set of Dawson Precision Sig P320 Competition Fixed Sight Set. I selected the 0.115 rear notch, and for the front I installed the 0.100 wide .215 tall fiber optic sight. I’m not totally crazy about the set, but it’ll due for now. I also bought the taller front sight since I have found that most sight sets are spot on at 7 yards, but much too hight at 25 yards, where I happen to like my zero. I am having a custom set of sights made to my exact specifications which I’ll expand upon later in the post.

The Fire Control Unit, of FCU, is the section that needs the most attention. I performed a polishing job on my FCU which dropped the pull weight down a little over a pound, but there is much more to be done here. As a matter of clarity, I bought a second P320 and have sent it off to Robert Burke, The Sig Armorer, for a competition action job, among other things. When to comes to custom Sig action work, the de facto top two gunsmiths is Bruce Gray of Gray Guns, and Robert Burke. I’ve never heard anyone who isn’t completely satisfied with the work from either of them, so pick one and get in line.

Aside from the Competition Action Job that Burke will be performing, he is going to bead blast the slide which is simply cosmetic, but I like the look of it with the black Grip Module. The Small Grip Module is being sent out for stippling to increase my grip on the pistol which I hope will be equivalent to the grip tape because I always seem to destroy the tape and it adds up pretty fast. The factory guide rod assemble will be replaced with one from Springer Precision that allows standard 1911 springs to be used. I believe Burke uses a 14 pound recoil spring in conjunction with his Competition Action Job, but I have a box of them in various weights so I can tune the pistol to my load.

I am very particular about my sights and my favorite set to date are the Taran Tactical sight set that I installed on my Glock. Trying to mimic that set, Burke is going to install a 0.125 rear and have a 0.115 made for the front. I also asked him make it a little taller than my 25 yard zero requires so he can remove as much material as possible from the top of the front sight post so the fiber optic is as close as possible to the top of the sight.

One other thing worth mentioning is that my second P320 came with a flat/flush take down lever, and a redesigned slide release lever that is much smaller and forward than the one on my first P320. It seems as though Sig has listened to the complaints of its customers and have taken steps to correct and improve those “less than perfect” attributes of the pistol. Kudos to them! I can’t wait to have the smaller slide release, but to be honest, I really like the big ole’ take down lever. I use it like an Open gun “gas pedal” to fight recoil as well as give me a consistent index point when mounting the gun.

Other odds and ends. I ordered the Boss holster hanger and a Comptac holster for my new Double Alpha belt. I am a fan of the CR Speed magazine pouches, but found there ins’t an insert that fits the Sig magazine. I wound up using the STI/SVI magazine insert with a large washer behind it and it fits perfectly. I also ordered a set of Springer Precision +.25 base pads for my magazines to help when grabbing them from the magazine pouches and inserting them into the gun. As far as lubrication goes, I bought a bottle of Lucas gun oil and a tube of the Lucas grease as well.

When it’s all said and done, I’ll have my “Burke-a-fide” race gun and my backup P320 (pictured at the top of the post) that I’ll use for dry fire since the heavier trigger should help keep me honest. I imagine I’ll have my gun back from Burke in a couple of weeks or so, so expect a new range report with all of the custom work and new race parts installed. Until then, train hard and shoot strait.


Sig P320 #1

New Features of the Sig Sauer P320

December 17th, 2015 | Posted by Tobias in Gear | News | Reviews - (2 Comments)
New and improved controls

New and improved controls

It is refreshing to see a manufacturer being so responsive to the requests of it’s customer base. That’s a huge reason I dumped all of my Canon gear and switched to the Fuji X System. There seemed to be some common annoyances with the P320 platform that most shooters took issue with. The take down lever was very big and although I prefer it that way, most don’t. The slide release was hideous. It stuck out too far and was too far back which prevented the slide from locking back on an empty magazine when using the grip that most competitive shooter use. There was also an issue with the trigger itself where the tip of the blade would auger its way into the side of your trigger finger.

Well is seems Sig has listened to its customers and responded in short order by redesigning those parts and getting them to market rather quickly. I noticed the new and improved parts on the most recent P320 I bought. Notice the flat take down lever and the glorious slim (and forward) slide catch release lever. Boom!

Well played Sig Sauer, well played. Now if you don’t mind, create a magazine release for us small guys that isn’t longer, but has a larger surface that extends a bit to the rear of the gun. Sig, feel free to ping me for details.

First Match with the Sig Sauer P320F

December 7th, 2015 | Posted by Tobias in Gear | News | Production | Reviews | USPSA - (Comments Off on First Match with the Sig Sauer P320F)

sig_logo_blackI have zero patience as anyone who happens to know me can sure attest, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that I found the closes match around and shot it. Nothing surprising about that at all, but I did so with a few “adjustments” that had yet to be tested. If you happened to catch my last post, which was a range report on my new P320, you probably recall me mentioning that the sights were severely off base, shooting about a foot high. Trying to fix that without having access to better sights, I did a bit of shade tree gunsmithing to try to get the sights to become useful. To bring the POI to the POA, I ground down quite a bit of material off of the rear sighs. Enough metal was removed that it took out the top section of the dots. I like a solid black rear sight, so I filled the dots with epoxy, filled flush, then painted black. The front sight needed quite a bit more work and I used a cutting wheel to cut a channel down the center of the sight as well as opening the sides up significantly. I then placed a piece of red fiber optic into the grove, melted the ends to keep it from moving, and filled the channel with epoxy which was filed flat. Yep, pretty hillbilly, but I didn’t want to wait until my new sights arrived before I could shoot, so there you go.

Worst...sights...ever...Worst...sights...ever...Worst...sights...ever...So I sauntered over to a Speed Steel match and registered in Limited, joined a squad, and hoped for the best. As you probably already guessed, it was a bit of a train wreck, initially that is. I totally butchered the first stage but once I figured out where I was hitting and applied a little “Kentucky windage,” I started connecting with the plates. After a little refinement of my grip I found that I merely needed to have the dot on the target (with my 5 o’clock hold for sight misalignment) to get a hit. The gun seems to have an innate desire to hit targets, so I let it do it’s thing.

After a few stages I was able to get an almost acceptable draw from surrender and my times began to drop into the reasonable. As luck would have it, my times wound up being lower than all of the centerfire shooters’ times in all of the divisions. There is no touching those rimfire guys though. Man, I freakin’ love this gun.

I simply cannot believe the effect that it’s ergonomics have had on my shooting. You cannot beat having a great grip while having your trigger finger in the correct position to pull strait back. I’m sold. In fact, I just ordered another P320 to have as a backup gun, and I don’t have to give up this one while the second one gets sent to gunsmith.

Stay tuned, as I will be outlining my strategy for building the Ultimate USPSA Production Sig Sauer P320, much like what I did with the two Glock G34’s, here and here.



Range Report – Sig Sauer P320F

December 5th, 2015 | Posted by Tobias in Gear | News | Reviews - (Comments Off on Range Report – Sig Sauer P320F)

sig-sauer-p320As promised from the last post, Switching to the Sig P320, this is a range report about my thoughts and experience on the P320, as a competitive platform, specifically for competing in USPSA Production Division. Like I mentioned in the last article, I found the ergonomics of the P320 far superior with the small grip module than my Gen4 G34’s. I do have some difficulty hitting the magazine release consistently and wish it extended back a little bit further to the rear, but hopefully with some dry fire I can make it a non-issue. At this point, the only thing that has been done to the pistol so far is a bit of polishing on the FCU, and the addition of a small grip frame module sporting some grip tape. It still sports the stock sights which are of the 3 dot variety. I’m not sure what Sig uses to sight in or select sight sizes, but it was printing about a foot high at 25 yards. Not too big of a deal since they’ll be getting replaced soon enough.

The first thing I did was shoot a quick set of groups at 7 yards, to verify functionality and get an idea of how the gun feels when I shoot it. 10 rounds in pretty much the same hole. Next I started backing up and shooting groups, to the 10 yard line, to the 15 yard line, then the 25 yard line. All groups seeking the same hole which was very impressive. I don’t generally think of a stock plastic gun as being super capable of shooting tight little groups and being anywhere near the accuracy of my high end 2011, but wow! It is shooting lights out with whatever ammo I’m feeding it.

Next I shot a “Standards” stage where you have a 5 second par time for each of the three strings; using 3 targets, 2 shots per target freestyle at 30 yards, then 2 shots per target strong hand only at 20 yards, and finally, 2 shots per target weak hand only at 10 yards. Then add up your points. With my G34 I typically get around 54 points, but with the (stock gun and sights, mind you) P320, my first attempt yielded 66 points, even while holding low to account for the POI being almost a foot high. Impressive!

Next up, Bill Drills. At 7 yards I planted 6 shots into the target as fast as I could keep the sights in the A zone. Although a bit slower than usual, not bad at all. A closer look at the timer revealed that it wasn’t the trigger that was adding all of the time to my drill, it was the draw, which I guess is to be expected since it’s a new gun with a totally different grip angle than I’m used to. The heavy trigger did have an impact on my splits as well, as most of my split times were in the .20 – .22 areas. Cumulatively, it wasn’t a surprise that my times were almost a second off.

One thing I was little concerned with about the P320 is the high bore axis. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get the recoil reduction anywhere near what I can get the the G34, but after firing copious amount of rounds into the berm, I started to refine my grip in a way that not only hold the sights on target, but actually requires less effort than doing the same on my G34. Again, shocking how well the P320 was at smashing my expectations for it. Heck, it still had the factory recoil spring installed! I found that if I get my support hand further out towards the front of the gun and use the big take down lever that everyone complains about as my “gas pedal,” it requires very little effort to thwart recoil. I wind up having the rear of my thumb knuckle on the front corner of the take down lever while locking out my support hand wrist. That leaves me with a very relaxed strong hand grip which in turn provides me with a good trigger pull.

I rounded out the session with a variety of other drills I often perform to get an idea of the Sig’s capabilities vs. the G34. It performed swimmingly in all cases and eagerly ingested any ammo I fed it. Not a single issue at all. Very nice.

Now it is not all rainbows and unicorns, albeit close. The slide catch release lever is awful. It is too far to the rear, much too big, and sticks out much too far which leads to an issue where the slide never locks back on an empty magazine, and massive abrasions to meaty part of my support hand palm. That thing is just insidious in nature and needs to be addressed.

Another annoyance, which in all honesty is not the gun’s fault, is that my 9mm load will need to be adjusted. It is tailored for my G34’s longer barrel and produces 131 power factor. Out of the Sig’s shorter barrel, I lose about 50 fps which puts me right at 125 power factor, much too close for comfort. So be forewarned, you may find yourself shooting for no score if you don’t check your load for it’s power factor from your P320.

And finally, in the annoyance department, I wound up with a bloody blister on the side of my trigger finger from the bottom of the trigger blade. Not sure how that happens, but you might want to take some tape with you if you’re going to start shooting a P320.

All in all, I adore the P320 already despite some of the little annoyances. I have a ton of work to do in dry fire now to get used to it not being a Glock, but I plan to move forward with it in the upcoming USPSA season.

Next up, getting it ready for USPSA battle.

More to come…


Switching to the Sig P320

December 4th, 2015 | Posted by Tobias in News - (Comments Off on Switching to the Sig P320)

sig-sauer-p320Nope, it’s not April 1st, I am actually switching to a Sig Sauer P320. Seriously. Really, I am.

“But aren’t you a G34 guy?”
Yep, I am (was).

“But aren’t you always spewing off about sticking to a single platform and mastering it?”
Yep, that’s right. That’s what I advocate.

So with that, why the heck am I moving from my beloved Glocks the Sig? Ergonomics.

I’ve butted up agains some limitations with my Glocks that have been vexing me for quite some time now. Due to it’s size, er, my hand size, I simpley can’t reach the trigger without changing my grip from the optimal. I can hold the gun properly to manage recoil to the point where the sights barely lift, OR, run the trigger properly by getting my finger in the perfect position, 90 degree bend to pull strait back at speed without rubbing the frame or disturbing the sights. But I cannot do both simultaneously. The G34 is simple too big for my hands, even without the backstraps, to allow me to run the gun as well as I want.

My training partner has been shooting the P320 for a while now and I thought it was neat and all, but it’s not a Glock, soooo… But I happened to pick it and what do you know, it fits. If fits really darn well actually. For those not familiar with the platform, that is, most people, the P320 is a modular platform that allows caliber changes, uppers, lowers, etc. to be simply changed out at will. The serialized part of the firearm is the Fire Control Unit, or FCU, that sits between all of the other parts you can swap around. Well the lower my shooting partner has on his was the Full Size, Small Grip Module, which is pretty much the entire lower part of the gun. Instead of just having the choice of backstraps to adjust the grip, you have a large variety of lowers to choose from for the task at hand. So the Small Grip Module isn’t just a slightly shorter version of the regular grip, it’s entirely different as if the entire grip was scaled down which suite me quite well. Other than being thought of as Carnie Folk (small hands, smells like cabbage), it’s just fantastic.

The Sig P320 is also very nice out of the box. For a factory trigger it is divine albeit heavy, weighing in at over 8 lbs. on my trigger scale. With a partial disassembly and a bit of polishing using non-abrasive Flitz paste, it dropped to about 7.25 lbs. But don’t let the weight scare you, the quality overrides the quantity and if “feels” much lighter. On a side note, the quality of the parts were impressive. All of the little fiddley FCU parts really didn’t need much attention and I’m sure if I had just gone out and shot it It would have done the same thing as the polishing.

So overall, I’m very impressed with the innards and the ergonomics of the P320 so far. As you would expect from me, I will be posting quite a bit of detail around the P320 since there really doesn’t seem to be much about it yet. I’ll get it out to the range and get my initial thoughts up here soon, so stay tuned.

Training With Purpose

November 27th, 2015 | Posted by Tobias in Training | USPSA - (Comments Off on Training With Purpose)

abe-axe-quote“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” – Abraham Lincoln

I love that quote. And I’m not sure if there is a better way to describe the mindset that typifies the serious USPSA shooter than that phrase. Sure you can just blast quickly and often and find yourself in C class, but getting beyond that and into the upper levels of the sport takes takes work, and more specifically, work with purpose. Now that I’ve stated the obvious, let me expand on something that recently occurred to me when thinking about my abilities as a shooter and how I typically approach my training. Spoiler alert, I do a pretty poor job at it.

In the past I’d take a class and see some improvement, or spend countless hours dryfiring, yielding only marginal gains in performance, all the while I’d have some new shooter race by me in skills and classification levels. I’d chalk it up to natural ability, or having more time for training, etc, but in reality I think they don’t shoot better, they train better. I’m not seeing their process, only their results. Now again I’m stating the obvious when I say you have to set goals and train to achieve it, but I believe doing this incorrectly has been a fundamental flaw in my approach and my downstream results. In short, I’m not sharpening my axe, I’m wasting my effort polishing the metal or rubbing oil into the handle, which does little to effectively cut down the tree.

So what do I mean by all of this pontification around training, goal setting, and approach? Let me give you an example of a poor goal;

“I want to make Master this year.”

What does that even mean? I have a desire to get better? What is actionable? How does that help me achieve making it to M Class? The fact is it doesn’t. I’m just whacking away at a hapless tree with a dull axe with that kind of goal.

So then, what is a good goal? Well it’s an actionable plan that enables me to make Master Class that goes beyond stating my desire to merely make M this year and sets up a strategy to get me there with actionable steps towards a quantifiable goal. Whew! That’s quite the statement, but I want you to go back and read that a couple of times. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Staying with the “I want to make Master Class this year” example, let me put it in terms that might actually enable me to make Master Class.

Let’s first start off by defining “Master Class.” What makes up a Master Class shooter? How fast does a Master Class shooter draw, reload, split times, transition times, doubles at 25 yards, typical match points and penalties, etc. Now that “Master Class” has been quantified, you know what your times and abilities need to be, thus you now know what you must train yourself to do and must identify the drills that you can use to elevate your skills to the Master Class level.

So now that you’ve stated where you want to go, isolated the skills associated with that goal, quantified each component of said skills, and identified drills to improve each skill, there is one last thing you’ll need to do, and that is to get your baseline and measure your progress. You need to get a log book, spreadsheet, cocktail napkin, whatever, but you need to track your progress across each Master Class skill you’ve identified which begins with hitting the range, running through each drill and logging your current times/abilities so you can set your training priorities. I’m sure you’ve seen shooters who go out and practice the same things over and over, addressing only the skill/drills that they enjoy shooting while neglecting the ones they don’t enjoy doing. Personally I would stack rank each skill and “weight” it in importance among the other skills you’ve listed. For example, shooting weak hand only to a specific standard vs. getting .25 second transitions on 10 yard targets. Although both are important, which one are you going to run into more often in a match or classifier? What is your baseline for each? Knowing the weight or importance of each skill as well as the delta between your ability and the goal time should also be considered when building your personalized training plan which further points you towards the skills you need to bolster vs. the skills that you can already perform.

Up until recently I have really been “practicing” in the dark, randomly picking a drill and blindly blasting away at it without knowing what I need to get out of it or even recording my times. Running hard without knowing where you’re going isn’t likely to get me much further than I am now, at least not quickly. It is now time for me to sit down with the diamond file and carefully sharpen my axe, transforming it from a hammer into a razor.

Closing the Door on Open?

October 25th, 2015 | Posted by Tobias in Gear | News | Open | USPSA - (4 Comments)

Simply simple…

Last year I decided to dip my toe in the Open Division waters for a season to see what I could add to my overall shooting repertoire and get me over the hump in Production (you can check out my Going Open Series for details). I seemed to have plateaued just under A Class in Production and wasn’t getting past 73%. It seemed to me at the time that I needed to focus on vision and basically, moving faster, so Open Division seemed like the logical place to enter so I could learn to get my butt moving. In other disciplines I’ve competed in the past, moving from iron sights to a dot optic was dramatic, as I seem to work very well with being target focused, so it was an easy sell for me to skip Limited altogether and again, jump into Open.  With that rationale in mind, I mothballed my G34 and picked up a STI TruBor.

I have to say, holding a well oiled machine of precision and speed, there is just something alluring about running an 2011 Open race gun. No slop, tight tolerances, triggers that run with simply a gesture towards them; what’s not to love. Well, reliability, tons of maintenance, drifting optics, and losing the dang dot, just to name a few. Answering the siren’s call to go to Open isn’t all unicorns and lollipops, at least not for me. Spending more time troubleshooting than target shooting was really getting old and an unreliable optic was getting me close to throwing the whole thing in the nearest river. Any part that goes on a 2011 comes about 17 feet oversized and must be milled down and fitted into place in order to replace that part, a far cry from the easy to maintain Glock. I swear, I’d probably need a file to put a sticker on my STI. Half the rounds through my TruBor was probably trying to get it sighted in again. You’re probably picking up the subtle tones of frustration in my voice by now, right?

During a recent match I had a malfunction where the gun stopped running, I pulled the slide back to see a round still in the chamber and another round trying to go into battery, classic double feed, right? Trying to get it back online I first tried to tip the gun upside down to shake out the extra round and then as required, you must eject the magazine to allow the slide to move forward without stripping off another round so you can try to free the round stuck in battery. I pressed the magazine release at the same instance I pulled the 170mm magazine out from the bottom, and as I ripped it out, the slide went forward and a slam fire ensued from the cartridge that was still in the chamber. I am ever diligent about muzzle control/awareness so the gun discharged harmlessly into the berm next to a target. No harm, no foul, right? Well, sort of. An AD is an AD and I was DQ’d, not that I was going to keep running an unsafe gun. I holstered, quickly tried to find the ejected rounds/cases (unsuccessfully) as to not hold up the match, and headed strait to the safety area after finding the match director. I had to know what the heck just happened. Unfortunately there was no smoking gun (no pun intended) and I couldn’t induce it to do it again. After watching the video it’s obvious that my finger is up and away from the trigger guard and it wasn’t pilot error. The trigger doesn’t seem to follow the slide so I figure I had a stuck firing pin, or the primer on the stuck round was high or deformed enough to detonate under the force of the slide itself. I’ll probably never know, but it was shipped back to STI for diagnoses. No word yet from them, but I’m sure it’ll be a while before I hear anything back from them. Stay tuned.

At this point, shooting is just not fun anymore, a bad place to be for my favorite sport. The next match at the time was a classifier match that I considered skipping since I didn’t have a backup Open gun, but I wanted to spend the afternoon with my buddies, so I relented and pulled out the Glock, took it to the match. I figured I’d blow the classifiers to the point they wouldn’t count against me since I hadn’t shot an USPSA match in Production in over a year, so why not? Shockingly enough, it was like riding a bike in a lot of ways. I’ve always said that I am a Production shooter at heart, and would return to my trusty G34, which just feels like an extension of my body. The angle just works for me and wherever I look, the sights are just there. Although I had changed my grip somewhat, I did seem to drag a lot of what I’d learned from Open back into Production, most of it good. I managed to blow out a few of the classifiers and miracle of all miracles, accidentally and surprisingly, bumped myself into A Class in Production! And even more importantly, I had fun. Maintenance free, always goes bang (and only when it’s supposed to), easy going fun. Ahhhh….back to Production.

At this point, I’m going to stick with Production for a while, which should be easy since I have no idea when I’ll have my pistol back from STI, but even then, I want to keep things simple and fun for a while. Besides, I still have lots of work to do in Production. Even though I now have an A card, my competition hasn’t stayed still. The Production B class shooters are much better than I am at the moment so have my work cut out for me. These guys are animals.

Movin’ On Up – A Class!

October 13th, 2015 | Posted by Tobias in News | Open | Production | USPSA - (Comments Off on Movin’ On Up – A Class!)
What card do you have? Aaaaayyy!

What card do you have?

In a strange turn of events I found myself at a USPSA classifier match shooting Production with my G34. It was about a year since I shot it, but my Open gun was offline so I didn’t have a choice but to shoot my Glock. I was worried that I’d tank my percentage so I registered as Limited and thought I’d just shoot for fun since there was no chance of me not pooching the stages, after all, I’d been shooting a race gun with a dot for a year. But as I was stepping up to the line I realized that all of my stage planning, at least for the field courses, I’d planned for 10 round magazine changes and didn’t have time to re-plan my runs, so I thought what the heck, I’ll just shoot Production and asked the Nook wielding RO to quickly switch me to Production. I pretty much tanked the field course getting used to iron sights and sight focus again, but like riding a bicycle, you fall right back into line with a Glock and I shot the rest of the match pretty well (for me).

On the drive home I started crunching the numbers and was truly shocked to realized that I has stumbled into A Class! Oh irony. I busted my buns trying to get out of B Class and punted myself into Open, only to flub my way into A Class because my Open gun was at the shop. Whatever, I’ll take it! A card now in hand!