Playing with your guns

by milesstoneman

Yesterday, I went to the gun club to play gun games with the boys, for the first time.  I’ll start by saying that I did poorly – I finished last.  Ouch.

Beyond being, possibly, the worst shooter in the club, which I’m not sure is true, what could have been the reason(s)?

Well, you’re going play like you train.  I don’t train to win gun games.  And how you train is important, because, unfortunately, when it comes to a gun fight, you’re gonna fight like you train.

For instance, for these games, you could only load 5 rounds per magazine.  You were penalized for loading more than 5, and I did that twice!  (And once, I only loaded 4, so sustained a penalty for that.  Seems I can’t count to 5.)

Is that realistic?  NO.  For one set of games we were using .22 caliber handguns, and .22 ammo is unreliable, so, in a fight, you’re going to want extra to make up for those bad rounds you’ll encounter.  And since you’ll want multiple hits on each target, more is more.  Load up!

Secondly, the “target” area on each silhouette was a 4 X 5 inch white square.  If you missed that, even by only a little, you were penalized again.  And I did that a few times.

Is that realistic?  NO.  While for legal and ethical reasons, you’ll want to be sure to hit your target, hitting the third button on his shirt, or the brown mole on his cheek is not your goal.  That simply forces you to take too much time to aim.  And time is something you won’t have.  You’ll want to pump multiple rounds into the large area of the bad guy coming at you.  And if necessary, perform an emergency reload as you move to cover, and keep shooting until he stops.

Finally, we were using so-called BUG guns – or Back Up Guns.  Small guns.  We played one round using .22 caliber guns, which are not optimal for self-defense at all.  And, strictly following what I thought were the rules, (a gun with less than a 3.5 inch barrel) I took a Ruger SR22, which is a small gun, and put me at a disadvantage, because everyone else used Ruger Mark IV or similar target pistols.  (I would have brought my full-size M&P22 if I had known I could.)

For my center-fire pistol I brought my wife’s Ruger LCP .380 which I had rarely shot, but wanted to try out as a defensive pistol.  (The only other small center-fire I own is a Smith and Wesson Model 60-15 Pro, and it has a 3.5 inch barrel – within the rules, but I wanted to be fully compliant.)  And, if you don’t know what it is, an LCP (little, crappy, pistol) will fit, mostly, inside the palm of your hand.  It’s small.

Now, before you comment, I’m not making excuses (well, at least not much).  With all of the above,  I just didn’t score well.  But that raises the real question.

Would scoring well at these games, have made me more or less effective in a real self-defense scenario?

I carry a full size M&P so, when I train, I train with a full-size Smith and Wesson M&P.  While training, I don’t take the time to aim (at under 7 yards), I keep both eyes open and place the front sight on the center mass of the silhouette.  My groups “open up”, to be sure, but are all where I want them, although perhaps many may not always be inside of a 4 X 5 square.

And I use full magazines, putting multiple shots on target as rapidly as I can safely and (reasonably) accurately manage.  Bad guys don’t go down with one shot, most of the time.

Finally, yesterday, once, embarrassingly, I had to be reminded to chamber a round after loading the magazine.  Embarrassingly, because, unless I have an unloaded gun, I NEVER have an empty chamber.  In a gun fight that situation would be fatal!

So, will I go back and play with them another time?  I had to consider it.  But then decided that I probably would.   I just will never again look at the rankings later, since it really bothered me to see my name last on the list.

Why would I play again?

I was satisfied with the results yesterday.  NOT my placing, but with the REAL results.

(1) I confirmed that .22 caliber handguns are better than a sharp stick, although not much better.  And I don’t want to carry one.  I use my SR22 as a training gun for my Ruger (full-size) P89 9mm.  Both are DA/SA with exposed hammers and a decocker. And I need to practice the manual of arms of that type of gun.

And (2) I confirmed that my wife’s Ruger LCP might be good for her (since she is recoil shy and won’t shoot anything bigger), and might be good if there was just nothing else, but it is NOT a two-handed gun.  I felt the magazine slip out during one string, when I must have inadvertently pressed the magazine release button while firing.  LCP or other tiny guns are emergency ONE HAND ONLY guns.

And (3) I was satisfied that I responded to each hiccup with my training.  When I had a failure to fire with a .22, I quickly performed the standard tap/rack/shoot drill I had trained for and stayed in the hunt (although it cost me time and a shot – remember I had a limited load count).  Then when I felt the magazine slip down, I quickly recognized it for what it was and slapped in back into place, continuing the string.  Outside of not having a loaded chamber once, I never had a WTF moment, which is ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL in a gun fight, I’m told.  So I was satisfied with my training and myself, and learned (or confirmed) something about my equipment.

I’ll also play gun games, because I learned when I had a bicycle club, riding alone is a sure-fire method for learning to ride slowly.  Only when you ride with others, especially those faster than you are, will your times increase.  I want my gun times to increase – my life might depend on it someday.

Playing games with your guns can be useful, if you learn something about your training, your equipment and yourself.  However, you will only do well and win at gun games if you practice the game and play according to the rules.  While that’s not a bad goal, practicing to win at gun games might get you killed if you haven’t trained to fight with your guns.

My guns are not toys.  I don’t play with them.  I do train weekly to fight with them.  And hope I never have to.  Having your name last on that list is the end.