April 17th, 2018

Hey Rifle Guys — Why Not Try a Pistol Match for a Change?

IDPA Practical Pistol Concealed carry handgun competition

Most of our readers are rifle guys, but it’s fun to shoot a pistol match now and then. You don’t need a lot of equipment, and if you shoot IDPA (Int’l Defensive Pistol Assn.) matches, you can really win with a $400 pistol and $20.00 worth of bulk 9mm ammo. That’s a bargain compared to what you’ll spend on a competitive PRS or F-Class rig and custom hand-loads.

This Editor got his start in competitive shooting with local IDPA matches. I shot a Glock 34, and a SIG Sauer P226, and even did one match with a S&W Snubbie. I eventually settled on the SIG, as it fit my hand better than the Glock, was more accurate, and was every bit as reliable. The P226 also pointed better than the Glock for me — something that helps with target acquisition.

If you want to get into the IDPA game, Shooting Sports USA has a good article that explains the basic rules and classifications. IDPA is not your grandad’s bullseye pistol match. There is movement and action. Stages are timed, and competitors engage targets from cover if available. Singled-handed shooting is sometimes required, as is shooting while moving. You can compete with pretty much any handgun suitable for self-defense — but no $4000 Raceguns with fancy optics. The fact that you can be 100% competitive without spending a ton of money is what makes IDPA so popular.

Shooting Sports USA polled IDPA shooters at the 2016 IDPA Nationals to determine their favorite gun brands and models. The #1 choice was the 9mm Glock 34 for the SSP (Standard Service Pistol) and ESP (Enhanced Service Pistol) Classes. Next most popular was the Smith & Wesson M&P Pro.

IDPA Practical Pistol Concealed carry handgun competition
IDPA Gun Chart from Shooting Sports USA.

IDPA targetAlong with SSP and ESP, there are three other main IDPA classes: Custom Defensive Pistol (CDP) for .45 ACPs (mostly 1911 types), Concealed Carry Pistol (CCP), and Revolver (REV). All classes have a minimum power factor. Scores are based on time and shot placement on the IDPA target.

IDPA Scoring System
The official IDPA Target (right) has multiple scoring zones. If you don’t hit the target’s center mass zone or head zone (both appear green in illustration), you drop one or three points. Here’s the formula: Score (in seconds) = Time + Points Down + Penalties. In IDPA, “points down” (and penalties) are added to your time. If you hit the outer edge of the target, you get 3 points down. Nearer center can be 1 point down. Center hit or head shot is 0 points down. See IDPA Scoring for Dummies.

IDPA Practical Pistol Concealed carry handgun competition

Five Tips for New IDPA Shooters

1. Dry-Fire Practice at Home
You can improve your grip and sight acquisition dramatically with 30 minutes of dry-firing every week. Get some quality snap caps and go to it. One tip — don’t do this in your back-yard if the nosy neighbors can see. We had one friend who was dry-firing in his yard and got an unexpected visit from the local police (with guns drawn). That can turn out badly to say the least…

2. Practice One-Handed Shooting (Both Strong-Hand and Weak-Hand)
Most of the worst misses I saw during IDPA matches were during stages requiring one-handed shooting. A lot of pistol shooters have spent all their time shooting two-handed. That’s the best technique, but in an IDPA match, you may be required to shoot one-handed. If you’re a righty, shooting with the left hand only will feel really weird, and your accuracy will be poor unless you practice. We suggest starting your one-handed training with a rimfire pistol, then transition to your centerfire pistol.

3. For 9mm, Don’t Bother to Hand-load Your Ammo
This may seem like sacrilege, but if you’re only shooting one match a month, it’s probably not worth the time and money to reload 9x19mm. I did reload my 9mm ammo on a progressive for a couple years. After looking at money and time, I just started buying commercial 9mm reloads which worked fine. I was only saving a few cents per round by reloading, and that wasn’t worth the time invested.

4. Get a Good Holster That Fits Right
In IDPA matches you normally draw from holster during the match. I saw a lot of people struggle because they had Kydex holsters that would not release easily, or leather holsters that fit too tight or rocked during draw. Try a few different brands at the local store.

5. Be Smooth, Be Calm, and AIM Your Shots
Many folks come into IDPA thinking it’s all about speed. But there are score zones on the official IDPA target, so you need to focus and AIM. Don’t just “run and gun”. If you stay calm, align your sights in the center of the target for EVERY shot, you will end up with a higher score with fewer “points down”. Speed will come with time. It is better to make sure each one of your shots is a hit.

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Permalink Handguns, News, Shooting Skills 4 Comments »
April 17th, 2018

The Sky Is Not Falling — Firearms Industry Economic Report 2018

Firearms industry economic report 2018 NSSF

While the mainstream media attacks gun owners and blue state politicians demand new anti-gun legislation, the fact remains that the firearms industry is more important to the American economy than ever. CNN and MSNBC won’t tell you that the American firearms industry is very healthy, enjoying huge growth in the last decade.

In fact, Americans are buying more guns than ever, and spending more money on firearms accessories and ammunition, according to a National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) report.

The total economic impact of the firearms and ammunition industry in the United States increased from $19.1 billion in 2008 to $51.4 billion in 2017, a 169 percent increase. In addition, the total number of full-time equivalent firearms industry jobs rose from approximately 166,000 in 2008 to almost 310,000 in 2017, an 87 percent increase.

On a year-over-year basis, the industry’s economic impact rose from $51.3 billion in 2016 to $51.4 in 2017, ticking higher even while the industry came off-peak production years. Total jobs increased from approximately 301,000 to almost 311,000, a 3 percent increase in the same period.

Firearms Industry Tax Receipts Fund Conservation Programs
“Our industry is proud to be one of the truly bright spots in our economy as an unprecedented number of Americans have chosen to exercise their fundamental right to keep and bear arms and to safely enjoy the shooting sports,” said Stephen L. Sanetti, NSSF President and CEO.

“We have increased our direct workforce by more than 7,000 in the past year alone, adding jobs that pay an average nearly $50,000 in wages and benefits. In addition, since 2008 we increased federal tax payments by 144 percent, Pittman-Robertson excise taxes that support wildlife conservation by 104 percent, and state business taxes by 121 percent.”

The Firearms and Ammunition Industry Economic Impact Report: 2018 provides a state-by-state breakdown of job numbers, wages and output covering direct, supplier and induced employment, as well as federal excise taxes paid.

NSSF 2018 Firearms Industry Economic Impact Report »

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, News 2 Comments »
April 17th, 2018

If You’re Not Using Wind Flags You’re Throwing Away Accuracy


Forest of Windflags at World Benchrest Championships in France in 2011

There’s a simple, inexpensive “miracle device” that can cut your groups in half. If you’re not using this device, you’re giving away accuracy. The “miracle device” to which we refer is a simple wind indicator aka “windflag”. Using windflags may actually improve your accuracy on target much more than weighing charges to the kernel, or spending your life savings on the “latest and greatest” hardware.

Remarkably, many shooters who spend $3000.00 or more on a precision rifle never bother to set up windflags, or even simple wood stakes with some ribbon to show the wind. Whether you’re a competitive shooter, a varminter, or someone who just likes to punch small groups, you should always take a set of windflags (or some kind of wind indicators) when you head to the range or the prairie dog fields. And yes, if you pay attention to your windflags, you can easily cut your group sizes in half. Here’s proof…

Miss a 5 mph Shift and You Could DOUBLE Your Group Size

The table below records the effect of a 5 mph crosswind at 100, 200, and 300 yards. You may be thinking, “well, I’d never miss a 5 mph let-off.” Consider this — if a gentle 2.5 mph breeze switches from 3 o’clock (R to L) to 9 o’clock (L to R), you’ve just missed a 5 mph net change. What will that do to your group? Look at the table to find out.

shooting wind flags
Values from Point Blank Ballistics software for 500′ elevation and 70° temperature.

Imagine you have a 6mm rifle that shoots half-MOA consistently in no-wind conditions. What happens if you miss a 5 mph shift (the equivalent of a full reversal of a 2.5 mph crosswind)? Well, if you’re shooting a 68gr flatbase bullet, your shot is going to move about 0.49″ at 100 yards, nearly doubling your group size. With a 105gr VLD, the bullet moves 0.28″ … not as much to be sure, but still enough to ruin a nice small group. What about an AR15, shooting 55-grainers at 3300 fps? Well, if you miss that same 5 mph shift, your low-BC bullet moves 0.68″. That pushes a half-inch group well past an inch. If you had a half-MOA capable AR, now it’s shooting worse than 1 MOA. And, as you might expect, the wind effects at 200 and 300 yards are even more dramatic. If you miss a 5 mph, full-value wind change, your 300-yard group could easily expand by 2.5″ or more.

If you’ve already invested in an accurate rifle with a good barrel, you are “throwing away” accuracy if you shoot without wind flags. You can spend a ton of money on fancy shooting accessories (such as expensive front rests and spotting scopes) but, dollar for dollar, nothing will potentially improve your shooting as much as a good set of windflags, used religiously.

Which Windflag to buy? Click Here for a list of Vendors selling windflags of various types.

Aussie Windflag photo courtesy BenchRestTraining.com (Stuart and Annie Elliot).

Permalink Shooting Skills, Tech Tip 1 Comment »