Expat Wants You to Shoot Better

Discussion in 'Shooting & Fireams Training / Skills' started by Expat, Jul 16, 2018.

  1. Expat

    Expat Expat™ Knives Staff Member

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    Kids, Guns, and the Front Sight


    By Expat


    Sometimes you wait your whole life to meet one of your heroes. Other times, you are fortunate enough to spend time with them before you fully understand the enormity of the encounter.


    Back when I was bumming around the Caribbean, I had the opportunity to spend some time with one of the greatest pistol shooters of all time, by any metric—awards, national ranking, kills, whatever. Jimmy Cirillo was on the famed NYPD Stakeout Unit of the 1960-70’s. I won’t recount their history, there is enough online about it, including some contemporary accounts in the New York magazine and other places. Jimmy himself wrote a couple of books about it. All of it is worth reading.


    The numbers are sort of all over the place out there regarding Jimmy’s in the line of duty confrontations. Most put the number of gunfights he won at 18. Some put his kills as high as 41. Everyone agrees on the number he lost: 0. This pretty much puts him at the top of gunfight experienced lawmen in the history of this country.


    To him, pistol shooting wasn’t just a theoretical exercise. He saved the lives of good guys by taking the lives of bad guys. And he took his fair share. Tactics weren’t designed to look cool; they were designed to stack the odds in his favor. His guns weren’t cerakoted with skulls. They were made to work. Period. He spent time creating special loads that he would later dig out of the bodies during the autopsies of the very recently deceased suspect to see how his particular load performed. When a guy like that takes the time to show you a thing or two about defensive shooting, you listen.


    I had the amazing opportunity to spend some time hanging out with Jimmy on the island of Puerto Rico, and even got a couple of days on the range with him. For all he had accomplished, he was one of the nicest, most humble men, you could ever want to meet. I’ve seen a lot more arrogance from men who had accomplished far less. He had a tremendous sense of humor and enjoyed life. Maybe that came from coming close to losing it so many times.


    Jimmy had a lot of wisdom that he tried to instill in my youthful brain. One in particular I’ll pass along here because it seems so relevant today.


    Hardly a week goes by that we don’t read of a tragedy with kids and guns. If we had the ability to delve into these instances, I think we’d find that many of them involved kids attracted to something that was taboo.


    When I was growing up, I was never allowed to have a motorcycle. My parents thought it was way too dangerous. Any guesses what the first thing was I bought when I was out on my own? I had spent about 12 seconds teaching myself how to ride before I took that Honda CBR to triple digits on a back road. It’s amazing I’m here typing this today. Perhaps a better approach might’ve been getting an underpowered bike and a lot of proper training in my younger years.


    How often are guns so attractive to those who are the least qualified to handle them? Jimmy took me aside and told me how to solve this problem. I don’t know exactly why he did, looking back; I didn’t even have kids at the time. But I knew enough to shut my mouth and open my ears. He told me he did this when his kids were growing up, and I have since done it as well. And let me tell you, it worked 100%. Jimmy said (read in an NYC accent for authenticity),


    “Always, always, always let your kids see your gun if they ask. No matter how young they are. If they’re old enough to ask, they’re old enough to see it. No matter how tired you are, or how busy you are, take 5 minutes and show them the gun. Use the opportunity to explain to them each and every time how they can see it any time they want, but only if you show it to them. Show them how to handle it properly, check to make sure it is unloaded, finger off the trigger, all of that. Show them how they can’t handle it until it is properly cleared. Once you both verify it’s safe, let them see it, but guide how they handle it.


    When they are done, explain how you are making it ready for work again, and that it is no longer safe for them to handle. Repeat this each and every time. In the beginning they will want to see your gun all the time. Sometimes a couple of times a night. Always go through the same procedure. There will come a day when they a.) not only know how to handle it perfectly, but b.) have no more desire to see it than they do the hammer in your toolbox. That’s how you teach kids to be safe with guns.”


    As I said, I didn’t even have kids at the time, but for some reason that stuck with me distinctly and I’ve followed it to a T. My kids have excellent gun handling skills and more importantly, I don’t worry that they will try to do something behind my back that they know they don’t have to do. To them, it’s nothing special. It’s a gun. It’s dangerous. Like the lawnmower, a hot stove, and crossing the street. But there are steps to mitigate all of the above.


    (However, this obviously doesn’t mean guns are left loaded all around the house in some irresponsible fashion; that can create other problems.)


    That’s probably not the politically correct way to do things these days, but frankly, the politically correct way doesn’t seem to be working, if news reports are anything to go by.


    Front Sight


    Jimmy is quoted as saying that “in a gunfight, your problem is not at the front sight”. There is a lot to unpack in that statement. Focusing on the front sight is stressed by most instructors. Not Cirillo. He took my Glock 19 (back then, it was only 10 years old, it’s coming up on 30 now) and put duct tape over the front and rear sights. He made me shoot all day like that focusing on the target. It was an epiphany. My groups got tighter throughout the day until at the end, a full mag was in a 2” circle. Granted, I was shooting at 5 yards, but that’s farther than most gunfights and that was the point he was teaching me. And I was shooting pretty much as fast as I could!


    Finding the front sight first is slower. Plain and simple. At a certain distance, it is 100% necessary for almost every shooter, but (Trigger warning, firearms instructors!) at most gunfight ranges it is a hinderance. I know, BLASPHEMY! I will admit, I have not stuck with that approach fully as I developed into a shooter over the years. But it did make it easy to switch to an XS Big Dot sight when they first came out. It allows me to focus on the target and keep the front sight blurred but on target. Because of its size and visibility, I don’t have to worry about seeing it, I can’t NOT see it. The first time you use your gun under extreme stress, it becomes clear. People say they are not fine enough at distance. Me and other shooters I know have hit pepper poppers at 100 yards. I have friends that shoot them consistently at that range. They are fine enough.


    Jim Cirillo was one of the greats. He was a friend of many, and most of those friends have some really great stories to share from their time with him. A lot more than me. But these are mine and I cherish them. Sadly, Jim was killed in a traffic accident in 2007. As another great, Pat Rogers, used to say, “We are diminished.”
     
  2. Expat

    Expat Expat™ Knives Staff Member

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  3. Andy the Aussie

    Andy the Aussie Moderator of the Century Staff Member

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    I read everything I could find down here he wrote (in the 80s) and that was written about him. There are generally talkers and do'ers, he was somewhat of an exception in that he was a do'er beyond question that also chose to talk, that is less common than many would understand, especially in the age of YouTube and Blogs etc.
     
  4. KMCMICHAEL

    KMCMICHAEL Member

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    My stories are second hand but of a different nature. Seventeen was the number bandied about.

    As he was watching a coroner examine a corpse that he had stopped from robbing a store, utilizing a 20 gauge slug to the cranium. Standing to the side of the old coroner who was allegedly eating a sandwich while looking at what was once held the brain of the robbers head, Cirillo asked if the coroner if he thought the robber knew what happened. The Coroner looked over his glasses, still chewing on a bit of pastrami and replied. "This son of a Xxxxx still thinks he is robbing the store"

    He had a fondness for the 20 gauge as well as the 30 carbine. In semi retirement, He allegedly had a suppressed 45-70 because he was fond of venison. Many roamed the facilities of which I speak. His team also arranged special store displays to use as blinds.

    There were more stories unsuitable to recount but he did seem to have a pretty serious sense of humor and no lack of audacity.

    After Roark and Capstick, I would have to say Bell was very entertaining and described the Africa of that time as well as anyone.

    I have always been a front sight guy. But I did spend many years trying to get sausage necked trainees to pass a qualification. Looking over your sights is a pretty advanced technique it takes some time constraints for me to do it, even though then it only seems to happen with multiple targets.

    New techniques are what sells or convinces people to go to shooting schools. It does not mean the training is bad, but catchy phrases and a persona that seems cool gets the business. And they are to be admired as businessmen. Things like the 1911 sucks and I am telling you why, gets people's attention. Your pistol is to fight your way to your rifle, ok,ok,ok etc

    There are essentially two ways to influence people inspiration and intimidation. These above fellows use inspiration because the students aspire to be like their chosen mentor. If you get a position as a law enforcement officer you will encounter the other type of influence, intimidation. Your Firearms instructor will fire you if you cannot pass the qualification. They make jokes and can be somewhat entertaining but they do not want to spend any after hours working with the student especially when it is likely in vain and the dumbass is likely to fail everything else in the program. This is not perfect either. Inevitably the program teaches the qual to the exclusion of other things.

    Cirillo is one that I would have listened to as he has seen the elephant many times.
     
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  5. Expat

    Expat Expat™ Knives Staff Member

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    ^That's the straight dope right there.
     
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  6. Andy the Aussie

    Andy the Aussie Moderator of the Century Staff Member

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    Ahhhh yes, that instructors sense of humour.... ;) I have pics hard copies....long before digital....of two of my instructors doing a "two on one" session with a problematic student on the range. In some respects I lost some time for the training and instructors from this as he most simply should have been failed and dismissed not "coached through qualification" just to pass. Where the rest of us shot in details of 10 with 2 staff he was taken out alone (as much for our safety as his benefit) both instructing staff wearing vests..... :eek: He passed in the end ...:rolleyes: My slightly dark sense of humour did't endear me to the training staff, especially the two involved in this event. I was looking at their vests before they attempted the rifle component of live fire and when I handed it to one I said something like "wow, I thought you would have higher rated gear, those rifle rounds will go through this thing like a hot knife through butter..." :D
     
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  7. KMCMICHAEL

    KMCMICHAEL Member

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    That is the rub. Problem students take time away from the rest. We often prided ourselves in getting some poor student to pass, when we’re in fact shorting the other students.

    Your instructors should not put a big priority on being liked. Having the skills, judgement and information to make it through your career without embarrassing your agency is a great reward that we savor from the vantage point of the rocking chair.
     
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  8. Andy the Aussie

    Andy the Aussie Moderator of the Century Staff Member

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    The problem with "coaching to pass" is that students who require that much work to get through tend not to be the ones who absorb and retain the training. In that if you took them to the range a week after their one on one passing and retested then without further coaching the odds they pass the first time around AGAIN are quite low. All those years ago the training staff had ME (another lowly recruit) take another aside and drill him one on one over and over just to get the basic drills correct (clearing, loading, unloading and inspecting each of the arms issues) they had me do this while they did it for the balance of the 50 recruits on class. This was easy for me as I actually already had personally owned versions of weach of the issued arms and it took me about an hour to get the processes that were REQUIRED to be followed (not really even the best). I had it down so I worked on this guy for DAYS. In the end he never even made it to live fire. He would get it right with me four or five times in a row and I would summon the instructors for him to demonstrate to and in the space of five minutes he would end up standing there staring at the rifle/shotgun/revolver unable to commence the drill....not even close...it was like pouring water into a sieve and expecting it to fill. He was no "fool" either. In fact he was a professor of history with a teaching background who was taking a sabbatical....lovely lovely man, absolute gentleman....but I wanted to beat him to death with a cricket bat.....
     
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  9. KMCMICHAEL

    KMCMICHAEL Member

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    Yes, some sort of bat would be a good training tool, and likely save a lot of taxpayer money. Even a stubborn k ow it all geezer, such as me, could master any skill if fear of being beaten with a bat were in the offing!

    To illustrate, when my agency allowed the use of Glocks in the 90s, some fellows would place their weak hand thumb behind the slide as they incorrectly had with a revolver. After promptly being sliced, they decided on a different grip. Sort of a self correcting exercise.
     
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  10. Andy the Aussie

    Andy the Aussie Moderator of the Century Staff Member

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    Yep....it was funny watching all the people who had never used a handgun before pick one up for the first time and go with that (K Frame Smiths) each time, in fact a couple of the part time "instructors" still shot that way. Immediately prior to me starting training I had been shooting LOTS of service pistol comps here, knowing what I would be training with I changed out the grips on my 4inch 686 to stock K Frame service type and shot a few K rounds like that. The Ks felt so light when I was in training !!! Funny I placed second in my class (raw scored) with the revolver, the guy that beat me had never fired a handgun in his life prior. I still see him time to time and I still curse him !!!
     
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  11. Expat

    Expat Expat™ Knives Staff Member

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    I spent all day out on the range today in this crisp Midwestern Fall weather of 92 degrees in the baking sun.

    I ran the scout rifle drills. They are tough, but doable with work. I highly recommend them as a starting point. Make your own if you want. I was worried some of the times were too fast but I was able to get them if I worked at it. Which is what a good training program does--pushes you.

    And I continue to fall more in love with the Gunsite Scout the more I use it.

    Also, I used Warne QD rings in my Leupold 2.8x scope for the first time today. I sighted it in, took the scope off, ran drills with iron sights, then put the scope back on and it was dead zero still at 100 yards. Love this setup.
     
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  12. Wisdom

    Wisdom Member

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    After I learned how to use the 2.8 leupold, I realized there is no need for any other scope in most hunting applications. I've shot game at a run, at distance, and in close. At first I wasn't a fan, now I couldn't imagine anything else. I bought the Warne qds and love them as well. A few sharp edges but never caused issue.
     
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  13. Strigidae

    Strigidae Moderator Staff Member

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    Agreed.
     
  14. Expat

    Expat Expat™ Knives Staff Member

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    Off to the Range.jpg
     
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  15. Bushman5

    Bushman5 Member

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    Eeyore_3.jpg oh well, it was a good life.......




    :D
     
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  16. Drew RedBear

    Drew RedBear Member

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    Going to restart this thread, sorry. Lol. So I went to an outdoor range today and first time shooting all these guns and I haven't shot a gun for about 6 years. Time just hasn't been around. Anyway, I don't think I did too bad and I tried to aim at the same place while slowly pulling the trigger (slow squeeze) but they seem too far apart. Any suggestions would be great. The distance and gun are written on the target. Again, first time shooting all of these. His glock 19 sucked though as it kept jamming. It could've been the ammo too. 20190724_130455.jpg 20190724_130441.jpg 20190724_130430.jpg 20190724_130106.jpg
     
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  17. Expat

    Expat Expat™ Knives Staff Member

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    Were you focusing on the front sight or the target while shooting?
     
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  18. Drew RedBear

    Drew RedBear Member

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    Both but moreso the front sight
     
  19. Drew RedBear

    Drew RedBear Member

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    I think I got a little better. Went to an indoor range this time and watched a few videos first on stance. Like I said before it has been a while. This is only the second time shooting this m&p shield also. I did find myself limp wristing it quite a bit so I need to work on that as well. Question though, does it matter which eye you use for sighting? It seemed I shot better using my right eye rather than the left.
    The round targets are 10 inch, as written on. I did notice that I was focusing more on the front sight also. 20190808_135138.jpg 20190808_135119.jpg 20190808_135016.jpg 20190808_134803.jpg 20190808_134741.jpg 20190808_134632.jpg .
     
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