On the 16th of February my friend Neil and I, set out the early hours of Friday morning for Heathrow, on route for an early morning flight to Belfast city airport in Northern Ireland. Our objective was a 2 day introductory course on Combat Pistol Shooting. We were met at the airport by our host John, where several of our group including our instructors for the weekend, Jed and Mick were divided between two cars and whisked straight off to the range some forty minutes away. We arrived at the range as the rest of our group started to arrive, some fourteen of us in total. After the initial introduction and overview we sat down to our first module of the day; firearm familiarity and SAFETY. This important aspect was constantly re-emphasised throughout the whole weekend, which was just fine by me as it soon led to my increased confidence in handling a firearm, which up to this point was a relatively new experience for me and the majority of the group other than a few guys and gal who had clearly shot before. The four main safety rules were very clear and concise and were made up of pure common sense, these were as follows;
1. Never point a gun at anyone/other than your target
2. Maintain constant muzzle discipline/don’t laser yourself
3. Keep your finger off the F##king trigger/until ready to shoot
4. Be conscious of the background/when you shoot
All pistols were only passed around after removal of the magazine, open empty and cocked for inspection. At this point we were also shown how to strip and reassemble each pistol in turn. With safety firmly established we moved onto KIT familiarisation. The main pistols that we’d be using included several popular Czech weapons, namely the CZ 75, CZ 85 and the CZ 110 all 9mm and compatible for both left and right handed shooters, which of course suited me fine as a lefty. Out of all the pistols that we fired over the weekend the CZ fitted my hand just like a glove, giving me the best response and handling for me personally. Also on the menu was the popular Glock 17 again 9mm, with a later addition on day two when our instructor Jed bought in an additional Glock 21, this is a .45 with a lot of stopping power, very loud. Also a 9mm Berretta 92 made up the total tally for the pistols. We all swapped round throughout the weekend, giving each of us plenty of familiarity and variety. Day one was focused on safety and accuracy, with the addition of speed predicted to pick up by day two. In addition to this we were kitted up and made familiar with a variety of holsters and mag pouches, before looking at specific weapon carry namely from a dominant hand side, waist carry rig. Our first handling lesson consisted of the draw and presentation of the weapon to the target. The draw stroke was broken down into 3 parts, covered by explanation then demonstration. This is initiated with the grip, employing the web of the hand into the Beaver’s tail of the gun. The last three fingers grip the handle as the trigger finger indexes along side the frame keeping it off the trigger. Next is the draw to retention position, keeping the weapon close to the body to where both hands meet. Finally both hands punch out to acquire target acquisition, again keeping the finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.
Here we can see Mick demonstrate the draw stroke in 3 parts: 1. acquire grip…
2. Draw to retention… 3. Then punch out to target, as if both hands run on rails…
Here we also looked at stance and the difference between the Isosceles and the Weaver the first as many of you reading this will already know, is a little more natural and gross motor, hips and feet square, knees slightly bent to absorb shock and both hands presented out in front like an apex to the target. The Weaver stance is more like a boxer’s stance with the feet slightly fore & aft and a slightly more forward presentation to one side of the body, although still keeping the commonality of staying square to the target.
Instructor Jed demonstrates pistol stance.
After a while most people settle on a subtle hybrid between the two that’s comfortable to the individual. Next we were shown the dynamics of stoppages and malfunctions from changing the mag when you’re out of ammo, to a failure to fire where you now tap, rack, cant the gun to look then present and finally what’s known as a stove pipe which is a failure to eject; now you rack, shake it out and continue. Then we looked at loading starting with an admin reload in the holster, then onto both emergency and tactical reloads. With everything in place, it was straight into a practical drill for some dry practice on the indoor range. After 20 mins of this we moved to the outside range for some live shooting. The majority of the pistol drills to follow took place from the 3-5 yard line from the target. We were divided into 3 groups of 4, each group were taken through a variety of details before changing over.
The outdoor range complete with wood man sized targets, centre of body mass depicted with a circle.
As you can see there was an abundance of ammunition, which allowed constant repetition of the basic drills over and over.
Day one: Our first live firing drill started from the draw firing a single shot, apply the safety catch then holster the weapon. This progressed into the single hole drill, where now we focus on accuracy and try to make one continuous hole bigger and bigger. Of course those of us without much experience like me, found this quite difficult but it did provide a good start point for me, to gauge my own improvement as the weekend progressed. Mick and Jed were always on hand to offer little gems of advice such as focus on the fore sight, press the trigger and keep it pressed after firing until you realign to target, before releasing pressure and firing again, employ Combative commonality by keeping a slight forward crouch whilst consciously thinking of follow through, cock it like you mean it and present the gun like it’s on rails.
Two hand firing on the 50 round tune up drill.
After rotating this detail several times we moved into an excellent drill called the 50 round pistol tune up. This started by placing an A4 paper target with ten boxes onto the man-sized wooden range target. Then from approximately 5 yards we commenced by firing 5 single rounds into box one with both hands. Then 5 single rounds with our dominant hand only into box two, then 5 singles rounds with the support hand only into box three, this was to replicate an injured dominant side. Then draw from the holster and fire a single round into box four, five times. Then onto firing a single round into box five and a single round into box six, five times. Then draw and fire into box seven, emergency reload then fire a single round into box eight. To conclude this excellent drill we all had to draw and fire one round into box nine, tactical reload then fire one round into box ten, five times to finish the detail.
Strong and weak hand shooting followed by emergency reloads during the 50 round tune up drill.
Phil during emergency reloads as Mick coaches. Neil shown here two handed and support hand firing…
And here during the tactical reload drill…
More of the same brought day one to a close, finishing with a little talk and demonstration on disarming a pistol hold up at Close Quarters, from an unarmed perspective. This was done with a live firearm, from the mid-point of the disarm rather than from beginning to end. Here we just slapped and grabbed the weapon from an already parried position, then a live round was discharged just to give a degree of desensitisation to the loud bag, the heat from the gun and the Gun Shot Residue that it would emit.
Then after 20 minutes or so of picking up brass we were off back inside for some strip down and cleaning detail, to ready the kit for tomorrow and for a little extra familiarity. Then back to the hotel for a much needed meal and a restful night’s sleep.
Day two: Here we began with a recap on the importance of safety, along with the four main principles of marksmanship these are as follows;
1. Position and hold must be firm enough to support the weapon.
2. Sight alignment i.e. aiming must be correct.
3. The weapon must point naturally to the target, without undue physical effort.
4. The shot should be released and followed through without disturbing the position of the firer.
Practicing my draw stroke to presentation, as a dry skill warm up for things to come…
Our first main detail for the day followed the same protocol as the day before, i.e. divide into three groups of four, then four shooters up at a time. The theme of the day had the emphasise more on speed, as most of the drills were now timed, to a point of a second clock. Safety was constantly at the forefront but it really was started to come together for a lot of us now and I was really pleased with Mick’s comment to me when he said that I was now starting to use the gun, instead of the gun using me. I was starting to feel confident at least from the 3-5 yard range or Close Quarters of course greater distances were setting me a new challenge, as I found out later from the 15 yard mark of the indoor range.
The draw to rapid fire drill…
For now though, our detail started with a single shot drill into double taps, into the boxes of the paper A4 target. Then we looked at triple shots and the failure drill, firing 2 rounds into the head and 1 into the body, followed by the reverse failure drill, firing 2 into the body and 1 into the groin finishing with my favourite of 6 rapid fire rounds into the centre of body mass, I started to get this down to a peachy rhythm after a little trial and error, great stuff.
Next up was a real unexpected treat, we all got plenty of air time with an AK 47 and the very best in home defence; a pump action shot gun. Again we were shown all the safety features, given the dynamics of possible malfunctions and loading procedures, then away we went firing plenty of live rounds down the range.
Here we can see Jed giving a demo on the dynamics of load, pump and shoot…
Here’s me firing the pump action shot gun with sighted aim and from the hip as a point shoot…this was great for me, with this much shot coming out the end there’s was much less chance of missing…
The size of the hole here says it all, the accumulative effect of a few shooters practically blew this target in half…
Here was a nice addition that one of the gun club members brought along, a sniper’s rifle that could depict a nat’s bollock from over a hundred metres.
After this Jed brought in the addition of a .45 Glock 21 for all of us to try. The difference in the size of the projectile compared to a 9mm will give you some indication of the increased fire power that the .45 provides not to mention the bang it makes. Just look as the depiction below and you can see what I’m talking about here.
Mick sets the standard with the Glock 21 with double taps on target from 15 yards.
Our day was coming to a close with my favourite part of the course, an introduction into shooting from ECQ. This is where I got to have a go at the classic Speed Rock or point shooting off the hip (ala Tom Cruise in the alley scene from the film Collateral) from 2-3 yards then right up close and from attachment, employing the principle of stapling the f##ker, great stuff. What is it about boys and guns? This was of course truly a photo opportunity, after all it’s not everyday that you get to play action man is it? Needless to say I took full advantage of this opportunity as I proceeded to Speed Rock and staple near enough a full Glock .45 magazine into my poor unsuspecting wooden target.
Instructor’s Jed and Mick demo the Speed Rock…
O.K I’ll brace for the slating from the Mrs and the rest of you…here comes those un-missable photo opportunities I mentioned…starting with Speed Rock off the hip to target acquisition.
and again with live fire from Close Quarters…
And finally, stapling the f##ker from an attached ECQ.
The day truly concluded with some further pistol work, this time on the indoor range, employing a variety of paper targets from at least 15 yards or more. For me this is where I started to meet my next challenge that of acquiring the same accuracy and speed that I had attained thus far, from slightly further away. But after two days on the range with top notch instruction, I am more than happy with the results I walked away with. Like anything in life, repetition is the mother of all excellence so I will be doing a lot more of the same in the near future. For now we have joined the gun club in Ireland as overseas members so now, at least we can go there and shoot. I will most definitely be attending further progressive courses in the future, to complement this excellent introduction, in addition to this me and Neil are going to invest in a CZ 85 to keep at the club in Ireland and we are also going to buy an air soft equivalent, for our dry skills practice and handling in the mean time over here in the UK. All that remains is for me to thank our host John and both of our excellent instructor’s Jed and Mick who where absolutely superb and truly professional in every aspect of their instruction, thanks again… Peace L.M
Here is the indoor range…and Jed preparing the .45 Glock for a shoot…
Here’s Mick, well the very large back of him at least, firing on the indoor range…