Saying and Understanding Are Not the Same

13-Sep-15 – 22:52 by ToddG

2Over the past few days, it has been all the rage for people who know absolutely nothing about chemistry to discuss the chemical composition of FireClean, a popular firearms lubricant/cleaner. Specifically, there are people who claim that it is nothing but a simple common vegetable oil.

As evidence, these people have provided videos showing it burning away at the same rate as vegetable oil or showing an alleged “infrared spectroscopy” comparison between a particular vegetable oil and FireClean.

Raise your hand if you’d ever heard of infrared spectroscopy before this.

Keep it raised only if you actually know how infrared spectroscopy is performed.

Keep it raised only if you know what infrared spectroscopy does and doesn’t show you viz-a-vis the complete chemical makeup of a mixture.

Keep it raised only if you think that infrared spectroscopy can prove that there is nothing whatsoever different between vegetable oil and whatever chemical mixture makes up FireClean.

Right now, no one honest has his hand raised anymore. The point being that just because someone uses a scientific sounding phrase like “infrared spectroscopy” doesn’t mean it’s telling us what that person assumes or alleges it is telling us.

Ask yourself this: Is the infrared spectroscopy of canola oil changed if you add food coloring to it? If you don’t know the answer without Googling it, then why are you assuming it has any relevance as far as a gun lubricant is concerned? In other words, if you don’t know what does and doesn’t affect the outcome of such a test, then why would you assume that the outcome of the test in this case tells you anything worthwhile?

A few things I’d like to be specific about:

  • One of the guys behind FireClean is a buddy of mine.
  • I personally don’t use (and have never even tried) FireClean because I have been a very satisfied user of Viking Tactics/Rand CLP.
  • I am not accusing the folks involved in this “FireClean is Crisco” claim to be dishonest or malicious.

Like other types of knowledge, a little science is a dangerous thing. The shooting community has been dragged down so many rabbit holes by other scientific-sounding terms like “gross motor skills” or “MIM” or “hydrostatic shock” … leading to conclusions that are often misunderstood and sometimes completely wrong. It’s no different than all of the uniformed anti-gun people who vapidly nod their heads when a politician talks about how a teflon coated cop-killer bullet will slip its way through a “bullet-proof” vest.

What’s in FireClean? I don’t know. What I do know is that infrared spectrometry can’t answer that question.

Also, look for my upcoming article, “The Application of Vectored Kinesthetic Force to Increase Friction as a Means to Obviate The Radians of Sine Partially As Experienced by a Handgun Front Sight Due to Single Dimension Positional Change as Caused by Sudden Internal Ballistic Energy Expulsion,” also known as gripping a handgun.*

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG

 * That may not even make sense, because it’s just another example of a gun guy assuming he knows something about science when he really doesn’t. If it does make sense, I rock.

Last Man Out

7-Sep-15 – 20:00 by ToddG

Students benefit from being put under pressure when shooting. One very common approach is the “man on man” exercise in which two shooters compete against one another. Here’s an example of Ernest Langdon and me shooting a drill I call “Action vs Reaction” in West Virginia a couple years ago. Each of us is trying to knock down the three plates on our respective side of the plate rack.

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There are some negatives to running man on man drills, however. They often rely on reactive targets and are designed primarily around just two shooters. In a class with 10-20 students, there is a lot of down time while waiting for your turn.

One outstanding idea comes from Tom Givens of Rangemaster. It doesn’t add time or complexity to running students through a drill, but it makes every rep count. It puts pressure on every student every time he engages the targets. Fail on accuracy or speed and you’re done; succeed and move on to the next run. You can think of it as Last Man Out. For simplicity’s sake, let’s suppose the exercise is to draw and hit an 8″ target at seven yards.

  1. Instructor gives the start signal.
  2. Students draw and fire.
  3. Anyone who doesn’t hit the target is out for the rest of the drill.
  4. The last person to fire a shot is out for the rest of the drill.

So every run at least one person (the guy who fires the last shot) is out. Anyone who didn’t score a hit is out, too. That means there is pressure to succeed on every run of the drill. Go too fast and miss, you’re out. Go too slow and hit last, you’re out. As the playing field gets smaller, the fastest and most accurate shooters rise to the top. The competition keeps getting harder.

It’s an excellent way to add student-vs-student pressure to drills without any special equipment or slowing down the class.

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG

Negative Taping

1-Sep-15 – 18:38 by ToddG




I want to be accountable for my hits when I’m practicing. That means every time I pull the trigger, I want to know whether I hit, missed by a little bit, or missed by a lot. But from both a time and target/paster resource standpoint I don’t want to be putting up fresh targets for each drill or pasting every single bullet hole.

So I use a pretty simple technique called negative taping. If I got a hit, I got a hit. I’m not worried about whether it was dead center or off toward one side. After all, if I needed to hit a smaller target zone, I’d use a smaller target. It’s the same concept as using steel targets but without any distance, size, or shape limitations.

It’s not adequate simply to “try and remember” which misses were there already. I watched two guys at the range yesterday doing exactly that because they were the typical I will shoot 200 rounds but only pay for one little target types. They eventually ended up debating whose shots were going where, etc. There was no way for them to account for their shots.

This is the same approach I used when teaching. We’d tape up misses and start with an essentially “clean” target after each exercise. Sure, there were bullet holes in the targets but they were all hits. What mattered most was knowing whether future shots were also hits, or were they misses?

Obviously, negative taping doesn’t work as well if you’re using a target with graudated scoring zones like an NRA B-8 where you consider all of the zones “hits,” just with different values. But for your typical yes/no, hit/miss kind of target (or when that’s all you’re worried about, regardless of the target design itself), negative taping is a fast, economical, and easy way to make sure you’re able to assess each performance.

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG

The Q-PT and 30 Drills

21-Aug-15 – 15:02 by ToddG

q-pt2-finalThe Q-PT target sold by National Target Company was obviously designed with Aim Fast Hit Fast and Aim Fast Hit Small classes in mind. My goal was to have a single target that could accommodate all the different drills that would be used in class.

The target has a number of different aiming points with targets zones of varying shape and size:

  • The bottle is similar to the FBI “Q” target and if you only count the part of the bottle above the thin line at the bottom (between the 1-3 and 4-6 dots) it’s similar to the QIT.
  • The large center circle is 6″ diameter (white) and 8″ diameter (grey).
  • The rectangle in the head is 3×5 (grey) with a 1″ thick T.
  • The A, B, and 1-6 grey circles are 2″ in diameter.
  • The two squares are 1″ high & wide.

After multiple requests, here are thirty of the drills found at and how they can used with the Q-PT target:

  1. The 1-2-R-3 drill by JodyH using the 3×5 in the head and either the A circle and its square and/or the B circle and its square.
  2. 1-Reload-2 using the center circle or any other target zone of your choice. I often fire the first shot at the 3×5 and then the followups at the 6″.
  3. 26662 using the white 6″ center circle and any of the 2″ grey circles (A, B, 1-6).
  4. 3-Two-1 using the 3×5 and either the A and its square or the B and its square. I regularly practice this drill until I’ve obliterated one side (A or B) beyond repair and then switch to the other.
  5. 3 by 3 using the large grey outline circle in the center, the 3×5 in the head, and any 2″ grey circle.
  6. The 3×5 Card Drill developed by Chris Edwards of Glock. You can probably figure this one out on your own.
  7. The 4567 Drill using the white 6″ center circle.
  8. A variation of Bill Wilson‘s 5 by 5 Skill Test where the grey outline 8″ circle is zero points down, the rest of the bottle is 3 points down, and missing the bottle altogether is 5 points down.
  9. Another JodyH drill and one of my personal favorites is the 99 Drill. The 3×5 is an obvious target but if you need more space you can use the part of the bottle that is the head (above of the thin grey line) or choose one of the bigger targets as necessary.
  10. Acceleration using the 8″ center circle.
  11. Ball & Dummy drill using the 3×5 or a 2″ circle of your choice.
  12. Bill Wilson‘s Bill Drill 1 and Bill Drill 2 using the grey outlined 8″ center circle.
  13. Changing Gears using the large center 8″ circle and the 3×5 card in the head.
  14. The Circle Drill by George Harris using the 8″ center circle.
  15. You can even do Dot Torture if you’re a little creative with the 2″ circles, remembering that you have two fewer circles to deal with. I usually do the 5 slow shots and 5 1-shot draws to circle A. I do the 1, transition, 1 to circles 1 & 2. Five shots SHO is done on circle 3. The 2, transition, 2 is done on circles 4 & 5. The five WHO shots are done on circle 6. Then I go back up to the top and do the 1R1 part of the test all on Dot B.
  16. El Presidente is pretty straightforward, you just need three Q-PTs. I use the large grey 8″ circle as my A-zone. Keep in mind that in a genuine traditional El Prez, either you get 12 A-zone hits or you fail.
  17. Mike Seeklander‘s Extend, Prep, and Press is easily done using the large 8″ circle and the 3×5 card.
  18. Of course the Q-PT was built around the F.A.S.T. as its core. The large 8″ circle and 3×5 are right there for you.
  19. Frank Garcia‘s Dot Drill works perfectly using the six 2″ dots at the bottom of the target.
  20. Ken Hackathorn‘s 3-second Head Shot Standards was the driving force between putting the thin grey line through the “throat” of the Q-PT. Anything in the bottle above that line counts as a hit.
  21. Kyle Lamb‘s Half & Half can easily be performed using the large 8″ center circle.
  22. The iHack was created specifically as a way to shoot the above-mentioned Hackathorn 3-second Head Shot Standards on a single Q-PT target. You can use either the 2″ circles numbered 1, 2, 3 or the ones numbered 4, 5, 6.
  23. Ernest Langdon’s 3.5 Second Standards can be done by using the head of the bottle (above the thin grey line) as a smaller version of the IDPA head box.
  24. The same can be done for Ernest‘s 9 Second Standards. Each requires three targets.
  25. Press Six was specifically designed around the 1-6 2″ dots at the bottom of the Q-PT.
  26. With five Q-PT targets you can perform the Federal Air Marshal Triple Nickel. Shots have to land completely inside the bottle and above the grey line between the 1-3 and 4-6 dots.
  27. Max Michel‘s Triple Six can be done by using the 8″ circle as the A-zone, the bottle as the D-zone, and anything outside the bottle is a miss. This does make it tougher because there is no delineated C-zone with its corresponding smaller penalty.
  28. Another drill inspired by the Q-PT rather than the other way around, CCT125US‘s Typewriter obviously works very well with this target using the 1-6 2″ circles at the bottom.
  29. Scott Warren‘s Advanced Three Second Standard can be done using the bottle head (above the thin grey neck line) as the acceptable scoring zone. Requires three Q-PT targets.
  30. With a pair of Q-PTs you can shoot the X-Drill using the 3×5 as the small target and the large 8″ center circle as the large target.

Hopefully you’ll find the Q-PT as flexible as I have. I’ll usually go through a few hundred rounds in practice and in class between needing to change targets as long as I keep a bunch of pasters on hand.

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG


Corollary Problem to the Safety Sin

13-Aug-15 – 19:09 by ToddG

141127muzzleblastI’ve written plenty of times about the Safety Sin and how the shooting community in general has turned safety into religion more than science. (see e.g., The Safety Sin, Follow-Up to the Safety Sin, and The Safety Sin Revisited with a link to Tim Chandler‘s excellent Thinking Critically article at GunNuts).

Circumstances have put me at the range quite a bit over the past few weeks. Because I only use ranges with on-staff Range Safety Officers, this tends to provide lots of opportunity to see shooters being corrected when they’ve made safety errors.

One unfortunate but common result is that shooters get offended to the point of anger and even verbal conflict when told they’ve done something against the rules. You’re angry at me because I asked you to stop pointing your gun at me? Why?

Because I’ve questioned your devoutness to the Holy Order. You’re so wrapped up, emotionally, in blind obeisance to some rules you can recite that you don’t actually think about whether you’re being safe or not. And when you do get called out for violating one of those Holy Rules, you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. Do you admit your sin, or do you condemn the witness?

So here’s a protip: if you do something unsafe, own it, drive on, and try not to do it again. If no one got hurt, it’s just an opportunity to improve yourself and your gun handling. No one is accusing you of burning the Bible. Just try not to screw up again, ok? Simple.

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG

Gear Changes: INFORCE APL

7-Aug-15 – 10:09 by ToddG


For many years, my favored low-light technique was simply using a flashlight in my left hand while holding the gun in my right. I had very good SHO speed and accuracy. Now that it’s diminished so much, the idea of mounting a light on my pistol so I can run it two-handed has become more necessary.

A good friend of mine recommended the APL from INFORCE. His agency issues them and has had generally good results. His recommendation also came complete with a custom appendix holster that works well with G19/APL combination for comfort, concealability, and speed.

I’ve got two APL‘s, one for my carry gun and one for my dedicated training gun. Once I’ve had a chance to run them through their paces I’ll report back with some more detailed thoughts.

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG


Ernest Langdon F.A.S.T. Video

1-Aug-15 – 09:23 by ToddG

He makes it look so easy!

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Beretta PX4-Compact

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG


30-Jul-15 – 09:06 by ToddG reached its 10,000,000th visitor in July. Thanks to everyone who has contributed, commented, read, and supported this site over the past eight years. It’s been incredible watching this place grow from nothing (less than 300 visitors in its first month back in September 2007) into a resource for shooters.

The 10M landmark was reached, coincidentally, on the 10th of the month. Which also happens to be the day we announced the Gadget Indiegogo campaign so that also played a role in pushing us over the top. Another thank you to everyone involved in that, as well.

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG

Practice: One Perspective

27-Jul-15 – 19:21 by ToddG

In line with the discussion about the difference between the comfort zone and the danger zone in training, these last few months have given me a lot of time to think about what and how to practice. After almost a year and a half off from serious shooting and a couple of arm surgeries, I’m getting to re-experience building up fundamentals. And in the process I’ve made some mistakes and needed to adjust my methodology accordingly.

2glockcoinbulletsI set up a pretty straightforward experiment.

  • Some practice sessions were dictated by speed. Every time I was successful at a drill I would reduce the amount of time I had. I kept trying to be faster and faster.
  • Other sessions were dictated by technique. While I didn’t purposely go slowly, I didn’t go any faster than I could execute technique properly. Everything was self-paced.

The results were very straightforward and I doubt they’ll be a surprise to most folks. Practicing good reps was more beneficial than practicing fast(er) reps.

Yes, some of my “personal best” runs during the experiment all came from the Go faster! sessions. But so did some of my worst because I was making more mistakes. I was failing to clear my cover garment, getting a bad grip on my gun, not getting an adequate sight picture, etc. Often, I’d walk off the range less prepared for an unfortunate occurrence rather than better prepared… which is obviously the opposite of the goal. In my rush to rush, I began forming bad habits.

The days I made sure I did everything correctly demonstrated measurable improvement from beginning to end and from day to day. My accuracy and consistency improved without losing speed. As I said, this shouldn’t be a big surprise. It falls directly within modern understanding of physical skill building biology (both anatomical and psychological). I was building good habits. I was programming the system to do it right.

ptctargetshotI measured the days’ results by shooting the FAST. On the Go faster! days my runs averaged 8.26 seconds and I missed five head shots and one body shot out of nine runs; I had one Advanced, seven Intermediate, and one Basic. The nine runs from the self-paced days averaged 6.60 seconds and I had no misses; every single run was an Advanced time.

But — and this is important — the Go faster! days also had their place. Before I started this experiment my draw speed had plateaued. It wasn’t until I forced myself to go faster and break through that limit that I got anywhere. The trick was to use that method when it made a difference (breaking through the plateau) but not as my regular full time practice focus. That’s where the old saw “smooth is fast” falls apart. Getting smoother doesn’t make you faster. Getting smooth just makes it possible to push yourself to get faster. And when you’re pushing so hard you’re not able to do things smoothly (correctly), then you focus on that instead of trying to get faster and faster, wronger and wronger.

There was a time when I could put more focus into my speed because I could execute technique with a lot less effort given years (and hundreds of thousands of rounds) of practice. I’m not there anymore, though. My current ability — rather than my wishes and imagination — has to dictate my practice regime.

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG


Discomfort vs. Disorder

26-Jul-15 – 21:14 by ToddG

RichVerdi-SIGinstAim Fast, Hit Fast — the signature shooting course — was adapted (one might even say “blatantly stolen outright”) from Rich Verdi‘s excellent Out of Your Comfort Zone class. Rich’s program was based on pushing students to go past self-imposed limitations and push themselves to levels they didn’t realize they could reach.

It’s a concept that has certainly spread through modern firearms training and altered the way a lot of instructors do things. Unfortunately, the goals and motivations haven’t quite remained in tune among some circles.

One fashionable approach these days is to perform as fast as you can and let proper technique catch up to your raw speed. But at the end of the day, this is little more than giving people permission to be out of control rather than being out of their comfort zone. And it’s usually pretty easy to identify the people who’ve chosen this training methodology. They’re the ones who sometimes turn in astronomically unbelievable feats of shooting marvel… and just as often fumble, make mistakes, and make excuses.

Speed isn’t the only thing that can be outside of your comfort zone. Accuracy might be the thing that you are avoiding (while having fun & going fast instead). Consistency may be the thing you really don’t want to focus on. Perhaps awareness or tactics are things you’d rather make fun of than focus on… because those are things that aren’t as comfortable for you as dry firing your reloads at warp speed to see if you can get one really awesome rep out of it.

discomfortShooting out of your comfort zone isn’t about being out of control. It’s about pushing past what’s normal and comfortable for you. Those aren’t the same thing. Telling yourself that it’s ok to be wild today because you’ll learn control tomorrow rarely works out. There are times when it may be appropriate but they are the exception rather than the rule. It’s definitely not a good full time training method or mentality.

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG