Thursday, August 27, 2015

The birth of the 929 as I rise again from the ashes...

It has been a while indeed. I fell away from shooting and life got in the way. The side effect was a loss of focus in life due to the absence of the Zen provided by shooting. So first of all I would like to thank my good friend John Zaczek Sr. for being an incredible inspiration and one hell of a good person to have in my life. Thank you John, you are the best definition of friend that can be expressed.

Some of you may have been opposed to the changeover of rules in USPSA Revolver division that was spearheaded by a few individuals with great credibility and poor foresight. Eight shot minor is the only game in town now. Okay, I am on board. Got it. My 625 and 610 will remain standing by for any instance where I feel inspired to go back to six shot Major PF. So I found a 929 wonder gun in stock at the LGS and proceeded to bite the bullet, drink the Kool-Aid, and commit to entering the eight shot game. So here I sit invested in 9mm with two great guns: an M&P 9 and the 929.

Shooting the wondergun was as expected. Lighter than the 610 and recoiling about lighter as the 610 in .40 Major. Okay, I can deal with that. I am happiest with a 6.5" barrel. Everything sits mostly stock at this point with the exception of the Hogue extended cylinder release lever that is on long term loan from another great shooting friend Ken Kiesler. He didn't like it on his guns and I am trying hard to fall in love with it as I fish around for the reloading technique that I will move forward with. I am considering switching for several reasons, chiefly because I am out of practice and can objectively experiment at this point to find the best technique for the stubby 9mm bullets.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Cool things from BladeTech

After the ZSA 2013 Ground Zero Championship I ended up with a bunch of cool BladeTech gear. Some was purchased and some was won, but the end result was really great gear for me to use. Ryan Preece from BladeTech was a great guy to meet and a really knowledgeable fellow. I'd be lying if I said I got anything other than a great deal on a bunch of gear.

Perhaps the single coolest piece of gear I came by was the most minimalist. It came off the prize table and appeared to be an inside the waistband (IWB) holster for a Glock 19/23. My G19 is heavily tricked out and has a magwell. "What am I to do with an IWB holster?," I pondered. This was not just another IWB holster and after about five minutes I knew exactly what I'd do with it; keep it and be grateful. Imagine an IWB that's as fast as conventional holster, stays open and doesn't allow the gun to jostle around. That is the BladeTech Klipt IWB holster.

I have used this method of carry for years and really think it works well. The downside for me has always been tensioning the belt just right to gain stability and retention, but still allowing the gun to be drawn smoothly and with speed. Well look no further as this holster is the ticket! I could not believe how cool this holster was. I must have spent an hour and a half the first night home practicing my draw with it. It is dangerously addictive. It breathed new life into carrying an old favorite indeed. I should mention that even with the crazy magazine well and extended basepads the Klipt holds the gun in close and makes it disappear under an untucked shirt while maintaining a fast draw speed. Now if they only offered it for every gun I wanted to carry, I'd have a pile of them.

The second notable BladeTech item was a gift to me by my good friend and shooting mentor, John Zaczek. This is a standard holster for the M&P 9/40 full size pistol. The slide on the standard models is a bit thicker than on the pro models. I had tried to purchase a holster at the match, but was unable to make it work in a pro series holster. This holster is stamped with the S&W M&P logo and fits the weapon perfectly. I am very pleased with the retention and fast presentations from this holster. It features a standard adjustable belt loop and also came with a paddle attachment. I opted to use the belt loop feature.  This holster proved equally addicting with how well it both retained and released the weapon at the draw stroke. Although slightly less novel than the Klipt, it's still an awesome piece of gear. I favor this standard holster much more than the Hogue speed rig as it gives me great peace of mind. Gift or not, I couldn't have been happier with the design and function.

The following items I purchased and am most grateful for the deal I received: a Springfield XD holster and an AR dual magazine pouch. The XD holster was for a friend that has one and they were most grateful to receive such an awesome upgrade to the stock holster that came with the gun. Although labeled for a 9/40 5.25" XD, it fit their .45 Compact very well and locked up properly. Perhaps this gift was all that was necessary to ease one more shooter into the game, which is what it's all about! 

The dual magazine pouch is definitely cool and makes my AR instantly more useful in competition or an emergency as now I have a way to carry magazines on the belt very quickly with the Tek-Lok fittings.

 I also own a magazine pouch for the AK and it is both attractive and useful. I like the smooth lines it has and how well it holds an otherwise bulky 40 round magazine with ease.

I would like to thank BladeTech  for supporting the shooting sports, ZSA, and sending a great guy like Ryan for us all to talk to.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

This past weekend I was fortunate enough to shoot in the 2013 ZSA Ground Zero NC State Championship Match. It was 307 rounds required to shoot it clean attempting all bonus shots. I don't think I fired more than two or three dozen makeup shots thanks to a challenging course of fire designed by my good friend John Zaczek Sr. There were sixteen stages with anywhere from three to 38 shots available. I use shots available due to the expansion of the stages due to bonus targets and their optional engagement. Engagement range was 10 to 60 yards on steel targets and 3 to 50 yards on  paper.

Top: John explains the stage.
Bottom: Cliff and Kori strategize.

I shot this clean free style and weak hand only. It was about fifteen yards maximum range, maybe 18.
The directions were 12 shots limited with a mandatory reload before the last shot. Freestyle for the first string and the option to get bonus points for shooting strong hand only and massive bonus points for shooting weak hand only. The catch was that the penalties doubles and tripled as well. I decided that I would take the WHO route as I had fired extensively with my left hand in cowboy action. It paid off magnificently with a clean stage that erased two penalties from other stages.

By far the most amazing part of the weekend was the people. Some of the people have known me for years and when I walked up I felt like Norm strolling into Cheers.  The catch was it had been over two years since I had seen some of them. You can imagine how touched I was to be fondly remembered by a group of shooters. I truly believe that this is the warmest of the shooting communities with a deep fellowship and camaraderie. The only shooting sport I have seen approach this level is cowboy action. I saw unhesitating generosity all over with shooters helping other shooters plan the stages out, with ammunition shortages, even water and snacks. After the shooting was done on Saturday the band Madison Rising played a special concert for us after shooting the match. You really need to hear their rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. It will reaffirm your faith in our country's greatness.

Myself and the great shooter and Top Shot contestant Cliff Walsh. 

So the beginning of the match was a little bit of a rough start with unfamiliar borrowed gear shooting a relatively new platform. The M&P is still young in my hands and I had really only out about 500 rounds through it before the match. I had planned to shoot out of simple gear: a. Leather IWB holster and a simple Fobus magazine pouch. Some safety concerns about the IWB holster from fellow RO's led me to borrow some less than simple gear that in the end was highly efficient and worked out great. I think it was a smart choice and good advice overall. Thanks so much for the loan Mel! (Mel Zaczek is John's lovely wife and a truly awesome and generous shooter.)

By the second half of the match I was accustomed to the gear and its advantages and limitations. The advantages I found were a quick draw and very easy access to the pistol and magazines for speedy reloads. The disadvantages I found were due to my style of shooting which relies upon my foot speed to make up for slower more deliberate shooting. I dropped a magazine on a stage that I ended up not needing, but it unnerved me. Other issues arose with the holster. I didn't feel comfortable running flat out with the gun in it and I found it easy to inadvertently lock the gun down during the draw stroke.

There was a stage which required entering a school bus and engaging some 14 target from the inside. The catch was the start position was right on the 180/DQ line and you ran up the steps and turned to the left and down range. Another complication was that there were bars to be navigated at the top of the stairs presenting additional "muzzle foulers." So before the beep my plan was to get to the top of the stairs and draw after turning toward the first target. After the beep the plan modified into a step and a half into the bus, grabbing the rail with my left hand, and drawing the gun as legs and arm propelled my into the bus. I just didn't feel comfortable leaving the gun in the unlocked holster going up the stairs.

On another stage I locked the gun down as I grabbed for it my super long fingers and flipped the lever up. It cost me a half second or so on the draw as I thumbed the lock down and redrew the gun.  This wasn't a super stage killer , but it was a belt flexing annoyance.  I can definitely attest to the security of the locking function. I think that despite all my experience with the Hogue holster, I will stick to a more conventional design with my auto loaders.

By the end of the match I had found a familiarity with the M&P and really finished strong.
The game face. 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Preparations for the ZSA NC State Championship

Earlier this week I ventured out to the range one more time to really wring out the M&P before the upcoming match. I was interested to see just how tight I could get the groups prior to the match. I was pleased to find that four groups of fifteen shots fired consecutively with slight pause between magazines were kind enough to group nicely at fifteen yards.
I went on to fire some 250 rounds and am feeling pretty confident that if I can get that finger to calm down just a tad, that I am going to have a great match. I will update after the 16 stages of zombie slaying madness are over with tomorrow. Hopefully with a little bit of video also!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

New toy and a new outlook!

Well for those of you still remotely interested in what I'm doing I have good news! I am coming back to the shooting world. I have been off and dabbling in other things such as competitive rowing and archery. One of the guys I row with had actually read my blog well before he ever knew me. Small world right!?!

Anyhow I have been playing with a new toy that some good friends of mine John and Mel Z over at Zombie Shooters Association of America (ZSA) turned me on to: The S&W M&P 9mm. I have a plastic gun as most people do and it's also a 9mm. The Glock 19 has served me well over the years and I have a great deal of affection for it still. That being said, I was very impressed with the M&P's that John and Mel had shown me. What's more to demonstrate how awesome these guys are and how great friends can be, they let me shoot one of their M&P's in a match and provided ammunition. I was passing through and had no real equipment with me and it was an incredible gesture from two great friends. So off we went to shoot a USPSA match in Ant Hill, NC with another great guy Ken Kiesler, who I am also privileged to count as a friend.

The particular M&P I was using was a five inch model with a fiber optic front sight and some Apex Tactical Specialties internals. I got through the match and back behind a gun for the first time in a while and it was great. I relearned a few things, such as I am not a fan of green fiber optics(it disappears for me), and I learned that I would likely prefer the shorter barreled model. I felt like the five inch gun left too much reciprocating mass atop a lightweight frame. Those two points aside I was in love with the M&P and was tryin desperately to find one of my own.

John had warned me that the magazines were pretty scarce right now and I was fortunate enough to procure one that came with three magazines instead of the normal two. I could get through a match most anywhere now. I decided that I would use makeshift gear for the time being and just run the gun without fretting about the gear too much. I found that the M&P uses the same mag pouches as the Glock 9mm/.40! Awesome! I have a pair of Fobus pouches that will work just great. I found out that the M&P also fits in my Bianchi Professional IWB holster that fits my Sig P220 and a fullsize Glock.  Awesome! Now I have gear for a match. Some of you may be thinking right now is he crazy? Why would he use an IWB holster for competition? The short answer: I have it right here, right now and it presents better than the cheap do all holsters I have. Remember I want this to be about the gun, not the gear this time. I have been too focused on extras in the past. I want to worry about wearing this gun out with bullets and becoming a shooter again.

Okay to be honesty I did do a little bit to the gun in close consultation with John Z and Cliff Walsh. John Zaczek Sr. is a Master level revolver shooter is USPSA and a believer in less frills. Cliff Walsh is a Grand Master level revolver. Shooter in USPSA and holds the distinction of the only man to ever beat Jerry Miculek with a revolver. John and Cliff both suggested Apex internals as the way to go for making the trigger better. I opted for the FSS or Forward Set Sear as it would be most like a 1911 which is my favorite competitive platform in a semiauto pistol. Cliff evetually won me over to all black sights over John's suggestion of fiber optic. I went this way because I feel like the all black work better and never become invisible in daylight. Right now the gun has its original front sight mounted because I did a poor job of fitting the front sight and it fell off. Perhaps this was a blessing in disguise, because I am finding I prefer this odd sight combination of factory front white dot and Warren Tactical smooth rear. The cut outs in the sides of the rear sight really do make it easier to see more around the sight and I find the sight comes up fast, like a peep. I don't believe I will have any appreciable change in point of impact because the front sights are the same height.

Initial range impressions were great. I enjoyed the clean brake of the Apex trigger and FSS. To be fair I should warn you that I adjusted my trigger to have the absolute minimum take up in which to allow the trigger to fully reset. I also bent the disconnector in toward the sear to ensure maximum reliability during the reset and avoid the dead trigger. I also removed the trigger safety. This is a controversial move according to many because some believe its a necessary item for some silly drop test. I found that it made the trigger pull less smooth because of the point in time when it fully disengaged. I realize this disqualifies the gun from certain divisions and competitions all together, but I Don't Participate Anymore nor am I a production fan. I like full magazines with lots of shooting. Back to my original thought, I was pleased with the accuracy and function of the weapon right up until the groups went to pot as the front sight fell off. A friend was shooting it at the timfe so I was super pissed at myself and embarrassed. I will be heading to the range again this weekend to do a final practice and check of gear before the 2013 NC State Zombie Match where I'll get to shoot with my friends! As with all things ZSA related I am sure of three things: it's going to be safe, it's going to be fun, and I'll come home with more friends than I left with.

Some five shot offhand groups at 15 yards:

Monday, April 22, 2013

This time it really has been a while...

Well it has been two years off from blogging. I do apologize for the disappointment caused by my sudden departure.
•The .38 super special is still going to happen. I'm totally geared up to load it, the only remaining item is to have the cylinder cut for moonclips.
• I never took a break from shooting. I switched into heavy archery for a while and I am still active there. I also took up cowboy action shooting.
•Cowboy action shooting was a lot of fun. I learned how to use a lever action rifle in a fast and efficient manner. Another added benefit came from shooting in the Gunfighter category: learning the art of effectively shooting two pistols at once and bringing my left hand up to speed with the right. I am currently working on overcoming my dominant eye for right gun/right eye and left gun/left eye sight pictures. This is somewhat challenging, but I hope to master it sometime soon.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Thirty one shots in an hour.

Well it may not sound like much, but yesterday evening I resolved to shoot my heavy bow for one hour with the goal of taking thirty shots with it. By the end I was sweating fairly regularly and was well exercised.

These were the second and last groups of six arrows. The lighted arrow was just a celebratory thing. A decent night of shooting with my 100 pound longbow. More updates a little later on.