Do you want to get good at shooting a pistol? And, we’re not talking about just standing in front of a paper target shooting at your leisure. You want to be able to defend yourself and loved ones. What do you do?
There are many shooting drills out there for every skill level, but as with any hobby or skill, the basics are the most important. Without basic proficiency, one cannot become competent, let alone get actually good..
Getting good means you’ll need to attend all of these top of the line defensive firearms courses offered at Joe’s Tactical School.
Reality is these courses are expensive and if you’re like most of us we don’t work for an agency that will send us to these courses every week.
Here’s a few pistol drills to keep your skills sharp and build a solid base and you can do this without paying big bucks to stroke your ego.
There are many rifle/pistol drills out there on the internet (Youtube). Most are just junk for entertainment, start with these in the following list as they have been taught at real-world law enforcement and military schools. Yes, there are some that have been modified which the world doesn’t know about.
Anyways, here’s a few to start with:
Slap Rack Bang
Most semi-automatic handgun and AR type rifle malfunctions are cleared with the “Slap Rack Bang”.
Actually without the bang first action is to slap the bottom of your magazine to make sure that the magazine is in place.
Then, Rack the slide to the rear to remove a possible round that is obscuring at the ejection area.
-Shotgun – With a pump shotgun pull the pump fully to the rear, and if necessary reach in and remove the malfunction. With an automatic lock the bolt back to the rear and clear the malfunction with your hands.
Put another round in the chamber and fire a round.
The object if this drill is to ingrain this into your neuro-muscular system as a primary action to do when malfunction comes up, especially if you were in a personal defense situation.
This drill is more fun to do as it stresses shot placement into critical areas of a perp.
Commonly known as “Failure to Stop Drill”, incorporated by the late Jeff Cooper at GunSite Academy. Which has been taught at every level of law enforcement agencies to Joe Tactical wannabes.
The drill has the person in front of the target at 7-10 yards with a pistol or 15 – 25 yards with a rifle or shotgun.
You fire your firearms and put “two to the body, one to the head”, the idea is to stop the aggression. The third shot is a last option if the perp was still advancing.
The El Presidente Drill
Another drill developed by Jeff Cooper specifically for the handgun. This is used as a benchmark to gauge a shooter’s skills, as it tests the draw and reload, and requires good transitions and follow-through.
-Three silhouette targets are placed 1 meter apart in a line 10 meters from the shooter.
-The shooter starts with six rounds in a holstered handgun, and a spare magazine or speedloader with another six rounds.
-The shooter begins facing directly away from the targets, often with hands clasped in front or over the head.
-Upon the starting signal, the shooter turns and draws, fires two shots at each target, reloads, and then fires two more shots at each target.
1 to 5 Drill
This drill was designed for using an AR but can be adapted for handguns as well. Kyle Lamb gets the credit for this drill. Kyle was a Sergeant Major in the U.S. Army as a Delta Force Operator, and participated in numerous deployments, including the Black Hawk Down Incident back in the early 90’s.
Here’s the how the drill works:
Space three targets, preferably human silhouette targets, about one target-width apart and place them five yards away from you. Start with the rifle butt on your shoulder and the muzzle down, as if you are exiting a vehicle or entering a building.
At the buzzer, shoot one shot on the left target, two shots on the center target, and three shots on the right target. Then shoot four shots back on the center target followed by five shots on the left. That’s a total of 15 shots at five targets, and only “A” or center hits count. Most experienced shooters will do this in about five seconds the first time out. Scoring under 3.5 seconds is getting pretty good. Three seconds or less is excellent.
The Box Drill
There are two different types of box drill that you may have seen. -First version is that you run to four corner of a box and fire off a round to a target. This works your ability to run, stop and fire. You put your fundamentals to use when you make that abrupt stop to fire off a round. -Second version is to fire two rounds to the chest per target at two targets. This drill stresses shot placement, and multiple target engagement. There are versions where you take a head shot as well. The video below highlights Tom Cruise in the movie Collateral. He does a box drill on two targets.
Action – Reaction Drill
Many of these gun/pistol drills are based from a stationary position.
This particular one from PFC Training is based off of charging (moving) towards the target and fire off a few rounds. The beginning stages is charging forward, later you can incorporate moving at a 45 degree angle and firing at the target.
The drill is two-fold, each shooters ability to go from zero to full speed with accuracy will be enhanced.
Originally created by Bill Wilson and is intended to improve speed without sacrificing accuracy. (action starts at 1:31)
The drill teaches sight tracking, proper visual reference, recoil management, and trigger manipulation. Draw and fire 6 rounds as quickly as possible to a target at 7 yards away. Goal is to get all 6 onto the target at 3.5 seconds.
Come at Me Bro Drill
This drill starts at 7 yards. When the audible synaptic response module is triggered, the operator will advance and engage all targets in tactical order within designated weapon system deployment area.
The idea actually comes from an immediate action drill when you are being attacked (ambushed) at close range while on patrol. Once engaged you would turn toward the threat and attack.
Tactical Blind Fire
This drill is a fun drill and you probably have seen this in the movies. Its where you get the hero just blindly sticking out their gun from a corner and fires away. This is just showcasing the flashiness of the firearm. Youtuber Dynamic Pie Concepts gets the credit for turning this into a drill, is it really a legit drill for the real world? Who knows, but why not, its great to spend some time to blow off some rounds. Though the video shows the guys from DPC using an automatic weapon, this can be used with a pistol as well.
Well there you have it, this is not a complete list of pistol shooting drills, but some that are important to learn and some just for giggles.
[su_heading size=”30″]SWAT officer gives his take on best offensive weapons, what makes them good, differences with defensive handguns.[/su_heading]
Form follows function. Items are designed for a specific purpose. Take the handgun. It was designed to be a defensive weapon. Take its use in the military, for example. During the Civil War and later, it was the hallmark of officers, a weapon used by those who generally didn’t carry a rifle.
In later conflicts such as World War II, Korea and Vietnam, handguns were traditionally carried by support personnel or as a backup weapon for soldiers carrying heavy weapon systems such as machine guns and grenade launchers.
Over time the handgun has been adapted to fit various missions. This was due in large part to improvements in weapons systems.
The M1911A1 carried by U.S. troops from World War I up until the mid-1980s had some severe limitations. With a seven round magazine and fixed sights, the weapon lacked firepower and modularity.
Compare this to a modern handgun with a 15-round magazine, red dot optic, and rails for lights and lasers. You’ve come a long way, baby…The modern handgun opens up a whole new world of options in terms of what kinds of missions it can be used for. No longer limited to being a last-ditch weapon useful only at very close ranges, the modern handgun can take the fight to the enemy.
In certain situations, its compactness makes it superior to a long gun. Now, the mission and the user’s necessities define what role a handgun will play. In modern times, how a handgun is carried, what type of handgun is carried, and its usage
spells out what kind of handgun it is.
Handguns that are carried by military operators, SWAT cops and other tactical types will fall into two categories: defensive handguns and offensive handguns.
DEFENSIVE HANDGUNS ARE generally used for just that, self-defense. As previously mentioned, in the military they are carried by support troops who operate in less-hostile environments, as well as operators of crew-served weapons. They are there for when a primary weapon goes down and the handgun is the only option left.
Defensive handguns can also be backup guns. On the street, as a cop, I carry two handguns. I carry my primary (offensive) weapon and a backup (defensive) one.
My department-issue gun is a Glock 22 .40 caliber. I opted for a small-frame Glock 27 as my backup when I carried the Glock 22. They are the same caliber and a Glock 27 will take Glock 22 magazines.
A few years back I switched to a Glock 21 .45 as my primary handgun. Despite its reputation for kicking like a mule, I find that .45s have more controllable recoil than .40s, allowing for quicker follow-up shots and more accurate shooting overall.
When I made the switch, I opted to carry a .45-caliber Glock 30 compact as my backup. Like the Glock 22/27 combo, the smaller gun (Glock 30) can use the larger gun’s magazines. As an aside, this isn’t a commercial for Glock, it’s just what I’ve carried at work for the past 18 years. You can get similar interoperability from S&W M&P and Springfield XD series.
OFFENSIVE HANDGUNS ARE used for actual tactical operations, such as building-clearing and close-quarters battle (CQB) scenarios. They are used in conjunction with heavier weapons such as assault rifles.
Operators will use handguns when clearing tight spaces such as ships or aircraft where their small size is optimal when compared to long guns. As a SWAT operator, I would often switch between my handgun and long gun during an operation.
For example, I prefer a handgun for clearing stairs. It’s the better weapon system when moving up or down a stairwell, especially in a multilevel building with multiple stairwells.
These types of stairwells often contain tight 180-degree turns where two stairwells meet or overhangs that require an operator to point his weapon almost directly above his head to keep a gun on a potential threat.
Try doing that with a rifle. Handguns also provide for one-handed operation when needed. This is important when you have to open doors or cabinets. On the other hand, when clearing a long hallway or large room, a long gun is obviously preferred.
There’s no denying that most rifle rounds are more lethal than handgun rounds. Also, rifle magazines have a larger capacity (30 rounds or more, compared to 15). And, shoulder mounted weapons are inherently more accurate and are more capable of reaching targets at distance. That’s why you transition to them when appropriate. But in a tight space, the handgun is king.
SO WHAT’S THE physical difference between defensive and offensive handguns? Ideally, an offensive handgun is going to be a large-frame gun like a M1911A1 (a modern one with adjustable sights and rails; not your grandpa’s war hammer), a full size Glock or Sig Sauer 320.
It will be equipped, at a minimum, with a rail mounted light system for night time clearing or working in dark areas. It may have a laser system as well that is compatible with NVGs (night vision goggles).
A threaded barrel is a good option for mounting a suppressor, a useful tool to have when shooting in confined spaces. Additionally, a red dot sight can be mounted for quicker target acquisition. Extended magazines are a good idea, as long as they don’t interfere with other gear. It’s a weapon designed to take the fight to the enemy, often acting in the primary role in certain situations.
A defensive handgun could be a large-frame but, preferably, a mid-or small-frame gun would be better. I say this because a smaller-frame gun weighs less and takes up less room on a belt or tactical vest. This reduction in weight means more gear can be carried.
Belt and tac vest space can be at a premium and fills up quickly with ammo, medical gear, and other essential stuff. Guns like the Glock 26 9mm and the Springfield XD compact are good examples of small-frame defensive handguns. Add-ons like lights and holographic sights aren’t necessary.
A small-frame gun can be secreted behind a rifle magazine pouch on a tac vest or in a vest mounted holster.
Conversely, an offensive handgun is generally going to be carried in a drop-leg rig or a belt-mounted tactical holster. Some operators prefer vest mounted holsters.
When carrying an offensive handgun, you are generally going to want to carry more ammunition for it.
Since it will be used in engaging bad guys (also known as gun fighting), it needs a lot of ammo. An operator needs to make accommodations for this, ensuring that he has the space on his belt and vest for it. This may potentially mean that some long gun ammo may have to be left at home to make room for handgun mags.
The mission dictates what the proper rifle-to-handgun ammo ratio will be. Simply put, more enclosed space-clearing equals the need for more handgun ammo.
Generally, with a defensive handgun you are going to carry just enough ammo to protect yourself, especially if your long gun goes down. How much ammo depends on the situation but, bear in mind, everywhere you carry handgun ammo could potentially be a place where rifle ammo or other essential gear can be carried.
It doesn’t weigh a lot but it takes up space. In an environment where pistol applications are limited, such as the open deserts of Afghanistan away from built-up areas, is it worth carrying two handgun magazines in the same amount of space where a rifle magazine could be carried?
Would you sacrifice carrying a strobe light or extra radio batteries, two items that can definitely be lifesavers? Conversely, the SWAT officer working in a major city would have to carry a different ammunition load out, possibly a 50/50 mix of rifle and handgun ammunition.
AS WITH ANYTHING related to carrying firearms, it’s important to train with what you plan to deploy with.
I mentioned that in SWAT I like to transition from handgun to rifle quite often. This needs to be practiced.
Many issues come into play when you go from rifle to handgun and back.
Do you have a good sling that will work well during the transition? Is your sling going to get caught on gear on your vest such as ammo pouches? Is your handgun easily accessible?
In the Army they utilize the “Crawl, walk, run” method of teaching a new skill.
In firearms training a similar approach should be followed.
Multiple iterations of dry practice with unloaded weapons. This must be done until muscle memory is developed. If at all possible, it’s good to practice the same skills with an air soft weapon.
This will allow for not just transitioning and deploying weapons systems, but engaging threats as well. There’s a lot of biomechanics involved in bringing one lethal weapon system down and then rapidly bringing another one up.
Accuracy can be affected too when conducting quick follow-up shots with the handgun once it has been brought to bear. It’s important to train through these issues.
Finally, once the manipulation skills have been mastered, it’s time to go to the range and do it live. Practice transitioning from all different positions: standing, kneeling, prone and so on.
A chest-mounted holster works great when standing but can be next to impossible to use when laying on your stomach. It doesn’t matter if the handgun is used for offensive or defensive operations, it’s important to practice transition drills.
If your rifle ceases to function (no more ammo, malfunction), you need to be able to transition to your defensive handgun.
So, whatever you do or wherever you go, make sure you have the right handgun for the mission. Editor’s note: Author Nick Perna is a sergeant with the Redwood City Police Department in northern California. He has spent much of his career as a gang and narcotics investigator. He is a member of a multi-jurisdictional SWAT Team since 2001 and is currently a team leader. He previously served as a paratrooper in the U.S. Army and is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He has a master’s degree from the University of San Francisco.
[su_heading size=”30″]Does it really matter?[/su_heading]
The debate over the 9mm and .45 ACP is one of the most talked about in the firearms community.
Both handguns/calibers have a huge following thanks to their popularity and success in the field.
So which one is better you ask?
9mm vs .45 ACP Match Ups
One of the biggest mistake that most people make is taking a black-and-white stance (only looking at ballistics stats) on the .45 ACP and 9mm.
Many will say that the .45 is better because it shoots a bigger caliber bullet, or that the 9mm is better because of its higher magazine capacity.
Both points are spot on and provide good reasons to prefer one over the other.
Even if you think more bullets is better, you have to admit having bigger bullets with more bullets on tap are both worthy considerations when choosing one gun over the other.
If you look at the bigger picture is that neither gun has a total advantage over the other one, and your own preferences will play a lot in determining which handgun is for you.
Let’s take a look at the major points of each caliber to help you decide.
Manufactured will pitch it as being compact and easier to handle than its .45 ACP counterpart which may be the many reason why the 9mm has become one of the most popular rounds in the gun world.
Just like the .45ACP, the 9mm have served the U.S. military gloriously for more than 30 years.
Yes, even the FBI dropped their .40 S&W pistol in favor of the 9mm.
Here are some of the advantages that the 9mm has over the .45 ACP:
9mm Luger outperforms most of the premium line .40 S&W and .45 Auto projectiles tested by the FBI
9mm Luger offers higher magazine capacities, less recoil, lower cost (both in ammunition and wear on the weapons) and higher functional reliability rates (in FBI weapons)
The majority of FBI shooters are both FASTER in shot strings fired and more ACCURATE with shooting a 9mm Luger vs shooting a .40 S&W (similar sized weapons)
A question to consider for the pro .45ACP carrier, is carrying bigger necessarily better?
The 9mm also has a higher muzzle velocity than the .45 ACP because it uses lighter bullets. Which has caused further debates within the firearms groups over which is better, a fast/light cartridge or a heavy/slow one?
The .45 ACP
If you like the idea of shooting a gun with a lot of stopping power – you’re not alone.
With its heritage engraved in history the trusted Colt M1911 to the modern .45 Glocks, it has always been a most reliable caliber for the gun owners.
Many of us handgun lovers believe that bigger is better and love everything that the .45 ACP has to offer. Here are some of .45ACP’s best features:
.45s stopping power makes it a great home defense gun
Over-penetration isn’t as much of a problem
Battle tested for over 100 years which have produced some very powerful .45 ACP bullets
On a irrelevant side note, the .45 ACP is a very cool handgun.
Looking at the Two
The advancement of technology has improved the 9mm cartridge, it didn’t get better than the .45s. But, that the 9mm capability caught up to the .45 ACP.
What the experts are saying is that the modern 9mm is just as powerful.
Take a look at these pics highlighting rounds that opens up to create possible nasty wound channels that can stop an attacker:
147gr Federal HST Expansion
That is some serious expansion from the 9mm rounds.
But don’t forget developments for the .45 is also available with FMJ.
Winchester 230 gr Ranger T-Series 45 ACP
While the 147gr Federal HST expanded from 9mm (roughly .35cal) to an average 15mm or .61″, the .45 ACP expanded from (again, roughly) 11.5mm to 25mm (.45″ to 1″)
They both doubled in size…and since .45 ACP is bigger to start with, it became humongous in the end.
Not Breaking the Bank
Affordablity, is something that the 9mm is in favor for the average shooters.
Boxes of 9mm Luger are cheaper than the .45s ammo.
When you’re spending some long range time, the 9mm isn’t going to break the bank.
Velocity – Suppressed
We have to mention this because there are folks that love shooting their .45s suppressed. The .45 is a subsonic bullet, because it fires slow and its a heavy bullet, the muzzle velocity is lower than the 9mm which makes it damn near-whisper level.
This is mainly for military and LEO’s but you could be faced with similar situation, if needed.
Most of these folks have gone with the 9mm because they wanted the deeper bullet penetration.
For home defense only, go with the .45 ACP for less penetration, you won’t have to worry about hitting innocent bystanders.
What you choose to go with depends on your budget and life style.
Each caliber has it good points, sometimes it depends on the owner.
Are you a good shooter that can work that gun well? Or, are you just one that only wants to have a gun and never think of practicing with it.
Maybe you’re the tactile person thats into the feel of a handgun.
Some like the heavier weight with a decent kick.
While others prefer the lighter recoil for rapid shots.
Will you be carrying for open or concealed? For CCW, most will go with the 9mm because of the smaller profile. Again, its up to you.
The good news is that which ever you choose, manufacturers has them for you to choose from. You’ll find the 9mm and .45 ACP for home defense, EDC, SHTF or just plinking papers.
Which caliber do you prefer?, Let us know below.
[su_heading size=”30″]Dude Look at the Size of this Hole![/su_heading]
Getting Shot At Point Blank Range…How bad is it? Clearly, we all know being shot in any way isn’t a good thing lol!
Have you wondered what it looks like to get shot at point blank range? If you’ve invested much energy around firearms, the idea most likely has gone through your head. And if you are one of those people who really need to know “What’s the most terrible that could happen?” todays is the day to find out. Might you be able to survive any of these shots? Possibly. Would you be able to take any of these shots holding up? Probably not.
Credits to Adriean of GY6 Youtuber for providing us with this demonstration.
GY6 steps up the caliber to see the effects of caliber at point blank range against a ballistic gel.
Taurus PT-92 9mm
Kimber Eclipse Pro 2 45 ACP
Double barrel 1911 45 ACP
Taurus Raging Bull 44 magnum
Smith and Wesson 500 (500 grain projectile)
AK-47 Century Arms (7.62×39)
Remington 870 12 Guage
Hey it’s Adrian with GY6Vids, and today’s episode, we have guns Vs. ballistics gel at point blank range.
This thing’s gonna blow a hole so big the whole shoulder might come the F*** off.
Ok so we’re just gonna go right into it, we’re gonna go from gun to gun to gun and step up the calibers as we go, we’ll change them up a bit, starting out with 9mm. We are using Lehigh defense. These are some nasty rounds. The firearm we’re using is the Taurus PT92 9mm. Alright!
See what happens.
Alright, so next up is 45 ACP, We have a 1911, this is the Kimber Eclipse Pro 2, and we’re shooting the HPR 185-grain jacket hollowpoints. See what this looks like. IN THE CHEEST. Fire in the hole.
But why stop at a single 1911 when you can use a double-barrel 1911? We have the Arsenal firearms 2011, this is a double-barreled 1911 shooting two 45 ACP rounds, using the exact same HPR rounds rather than doing it this way where the high speed’s only gonna see one shell, let’s adjust the killshot. We have to. Aaand… 3…2…1.
Alright, up next: 44 magnum. Why not. This is the Taurus Raging Bull 44 magnum, we have the Barnes Vortex 225-grain, hollow point round. Definitely leaves a decent hole in whatever you shoot. And we’re about to see it first-hand. I love my job.
Clearly, we can’t move past any type of firearm without using the Smith and Wesson 500. This thing is a tank, and a fire breather. Hopefully we’ll be able to see some fire on the gel. We are shooting Hornady XTP 500-grain projectiles. Comparing this to the 44 magnum round, it’s like child’s play. Like putting in a lipstick container.
[Laughter] YEAH. ‘MURICA! Good god, did you feel the difference? The concussive force of that?
We’re doing the 556 AR15. Alright, let’s get into it. [Singsonging]
Hm. I highly doubt that’s gonna be nearly as cool as the Smith and Wesson 500.
This is gonna be our drum that we won’t care if it gets a hole in it. ‘cuz this one’s about to go right through this barrel. Guys ready to rock and roll? Ears in?
Alright, up next, AK47. Decided to switch it up a bit, brought out this stubby little Micro-AK47, this is from Century Arms, so much fun, probably one of the most fun guns I have, I shoot it all the time and it’s a blast. And it breathes fire like crazy, so hopefully we’ll pick it up in high speed.
The ammunition we’re shooting is G2Research’s Trident rounds, this is the 762×39 round they’re making now; it expands out, massive expansion, so hopefully it’ll leave a nice big hole in high speed. Let’s see what happens! Gotta love this gun! Woo! huh![Shot, laughter]
This thing’s gonna blow a hole so big the whole shoulder might come the **** off. Alright, last but not least -and I know what you guys are thinking, shoot more rifles, 308s, 300winmag, 50cal; I just may. Just let me know if you guys like these videos, I need to know because I don’t wanna post stuff that’s just boring you, but for right now, this will suffice. And last but not least, the Remington 870 12-gauge, we are definitely gonna do the 1oz slug round, 12gauge. I’m gonna shoot him right here just above the heart, and it should give us a nice… *dislocation* of the shoulder, to say the least. Alright, 3…2…1…[SHOT]
Dude! Look at the size of this hole! [laughter]
Ok guys, hope you appreciate that video, hope you enjoyed. This is something that’s gonna be very similar to what we were posting as stand-alone videos on our secondary channel GY6slowmo, head over to Youtube.com/GY6slowmo, click the subscribe button, there is a playlist of certain types of videos that are coming that I think you’re gonna enjoy, very unique and interesting to see, trust me, you wanna go over and subscribe, a video’s gonna be coming that you’re gonna wanna watch, and it’s gonna be stand-alone only on GY6 SlowMo, not here on GY6 Vids. So it’ll give us a way of posting easier quick videos on that channel, that we’re not gonna be able to post here on GY6 vids, due to the fact that this channel’s been for longer-duration videos.
The main sponsor of this video though is Audible. I can’t say thank you enough to Audible, fantastic program, you can go to the link in the description right now, or go to www.audible.com/GY6, that is something that’s gonna give you a link to go to the website, you get a free 30-day trial, you also get a download of a free book, and if you don’t like their program you can cancel your subscription and still keep that book, so it’s pretty much a no-brainer. Audible not only offers books, but many other comedy routines, and things you may not know about even if you do know about Audible, so there’s a lot of things you can download on there, take it with you on the go, if you’re like me, you don’t have time all the time to sit on the couch or even read a book, I don’t have that downtime, so whenever I’m on the road in my jeep, I play things through the speakers, let books get read to me, and when I’m not, I’m actually clicking off the Whisper Seek mode, which is what reads it to you, and reading the book myself on my apple device, or any other smart device you might have. Currently I’m listening to 13 Hours, a fantastic movie if you haven’t seen it yet, but also it was originally a book before they made the movie. Go check it out, that’s what it looks like, go on their website and download it for yourself, it’s the secret soldiers of Benghazi, all the things that happened behind the scenes of all the crazy crap that you might not know about, what happened back in the benghazi incident, you must take the time to go check it out. Read it for yourself or have it read to you through Audible, that’s currently what I’m listening to, and last month I listened to American Sniper, so, it’s a good book to read, it’s a good book to have read to you if you don’t have time, go check it out, Audible.com/GY6
If you’re into Glocks and suppressors, especially Silencerco Osprey you can’t miss this one. This Glock lover is sporting dual handguns, in the left hand is a Glock17 (9mm) and a Gen4 FDE Glock21 45ACP in the right hand. Watch as he unloads both with high capacity magazines in dual quiet gangster fashion. Its amazing to see and hear the majority of gun noise are coming from others blasting away.
[su_heading size=”30″]United States Practical Shooting Association Champion Casey Reed spends each day seeking perfection at work, and in competition.[/su_heading]
STORY BY CRAIG HODGKINS • PHOTOS BY FEDERAL PREMIUM
[su_dropcap style=”flat” size=”5″]Y[/su_dropcap]ou don’t need to talk with Casey Reed for very long before you start thinking you could use a bit more discipline in your own life.
Reed, who celebrated his 25th birthday in August, is a rising star in the competitive shooting world and a very focused young man. He participates in the United States Practical Shooting Association’s Production Division, and has already earned several awards, including the 2014 Minnesota State Championship, two consecutive USPSA Area 3 Championships, and Top Ten ﬁnishes at the 2015 and 2016 USPSA nationals.
Not bad for someone who ﬁrst tried his steady hand at the sport a mere four years ago.
In 2015, Reed used this set up to win a Top Ten finish at the USPSA Nationals. Currently, he competes with a heavy steel Tanfolio Stock II with a double/single-action trigger. His ammo of choice is American Eagle 124-grain 9mm, Federal Load #AE9AP.
But in addition to his competitive shooting prowess, Reed also has a day job, a brand new one, in fact. Recently, his managers at Federal Premium Ammunition oﬀered him the post of supply quality engineer, where he now works with vendors who provide Federal with everything from raw materials to ﬁnished goods. Prior to the promotion, he served as a product development engineer, where he helped design and test everything from shotshells to training ammunition for law enforcement and military personnel. One recent product he helped develop and test was American Eagle’s Syntech ammunition.
Although his career choice would come as no surprise to those who knew him as a young man, his participation as a competitive pistol shooter might.
Since landing an internship at the company six years ago, Reed is now a supply quality engineer, working with vendors that provide Federal with everything from raw materials to finished goods.
REED SPENT HIS YOUTH hunting upland birds and whitetails near his home in Big Lake, Minn., which is northwest of the Twin Cities. And although he knew his way around riﬂes and shotguns, he rarely shot or even held a handgun.
“My dad had an old 9mm,” he told me, “but my ﬁrst gun was a Benelli M1 Super 90. [Before working for Federal], I’d shot a semiauto pistol maybe two or three times in my life.”
His father was an engineer, and there was no doubt that the son would eventually follow in his footsteps.
“I was always good at math and science,” Reed said, “And all through school my teachers told me that I should be an engineer.”
Soon, he headed oﬀ to study mechanical engineering at nearby St. Cloud State University. In just his second year there, the 19-year-old landed an internship at Federal, and for the next three years he worked as an assistant in the engineering department. After graduation, the company oﬀered him a full-time position.
“I liked the industry before I got the internship,” he said, “but I never really thought I’d be working in it.”
It was during his internship that he ﬁrst began to shoot pistols as part of his ballistic testing responsibilities, and those same tasks carried on when he began his full-time job.
A competitive perfectionist by nature, Reed took up his recently adopted sport following some encouragement from a coworker.
“Fellow engineer Matt Wolﬀ invited me to a local club match in 2012,” he recalled, “I became addicted. In fact, I signed up for a competition the very next weekend.”
A wingshooter and deer hunter in his youth, Reed has readily taken to handgun shooting competition. (LIVESHOTS.NET)
REED WASTED NO TIME adjusting his already-packed schedule to the methodical lifestyle required of a competitive shooter. He currently logs up to 20 hours every week practicing, and then applies his analytical skills to his personal performance.
“I’ve always been a competitive person,” he said. “As an engineer, I’m very detail oriented. I analyze my shooting and how to train more eﬃciently.”
Unlike some competitors who follow the same exact regimen day in and day out, Reed is constantly adjusting how he trains.
“I’m always looking to see how I can become better and more consistent,” he said, “Most people can watch the Top Ten [shooters] and not be able to tell the diﬀerence, but to me it’s all about ﬁne-tuning. It’s about the details.”
Like a growing number of competitors, Reed frequently uses a “head-cam” to help him analyze his performance. After each match, he breaks down his “game ﬁlm” in slow motion like a veteran football coach, hoping to spot a ﬂaw he can improve upon to knock an additional few seconds oﬀ of his time.
Following these video sessions, Reed restructures his practice regimen to address what he feels are needed improvements, and develops or adopts new drills accordingly. One thing he doesn’t change are the “thousands upon thousands of dry ﬁres” he performs methodically, or his time in the gym working on strength and cardio.
“The sport is most like soccer or football because it requires lots of explosiveness,” he said. “You need to push oﬀ a good deal and move quickly from spot to spot, so it helps to be in good shape. The sport is leaning more and more to the younger and more athletic shooters.”
Although USPSA competitions are oﬀered year-round, Reed considers his personal season to last from April through September. Each year, he competes in eight to 10 major matches and 20 to 30 local and regional contests, and his schedule is especially busy in the summer. This past August, for example, he competed in majors on four consecutive weekends.
As part of his role as a product development engineer for Federal Premium, Reed helped develop and test American Eagle Syntech ammunition.
At his most recent event, the IPSC Nationals in Frostproof, Fla., Reed’s physical training was put to the test almost as much as his shooting skill.
“Running 11 stages in 80 percent humidity,” he said, “really beats you down.”
IT’S A LARGE COMMITMENT that brings a high degree of pride and satisfaction, but very little money. Unlike the higher visibility sports, the matches are all business with little fanfare, and that’s probably because they tend to draw as many competitors as fans.
“It’s not a good spectator sport,” Reed admits, “because it’s hard to see and watch. Most people just wait to watch the head cam ﬁrst-person videos [on YouTube].”
Much like a competitor at a NASCAR or PGA event, Reed ﬁnds himself participating with – and against – many of the same shooters at every USPSA major. But according to Reed, that’s a positive thing.
Reed says he just loves to shoot and the camaraderie of competition, but he also has a goal of being a national champion shooter some day. (LIVESHOTS.NET)
“It’s a very close-knit and helpful group,” he said. “In competitions, the top guys are all on one squad and shoot together. We help each other with stage planning, and most everyone is very friendly. Guys ask each other advice and questions, like how to practice or train. There are no big egos. Everyone is humble.”
Although Reed’s ultimate goal remains winning a national championship, it’s obvious he derives a great deal of satisfaction from the process of continuous improvement his disciplined training regimen brings, and from the camaraderie among competitors who share the same passion for a sport.
“It’s a really fun sport, full of action,” he said. “The top guys are putting in a ton of time, money and eﬀort. But no one is in it for the money. We all just love to shoot.” ASJ
[su_heading size=”27″ margin=”0″]Bond Arms Snake Slayer IV Derringer[/su_heading]
Story and photographs by Tom Claycomb III
I’ve never classified a gun as a fun gun to shoot, but that’s how I would describe the double-barreled Bond Arms Snake Slayer IV derringer. Bond makes a variety of calibers and styles, but I decided to go with the IV due to the longer 4¼-inch barrel, which I had hoped would be a bit more accurate, have less recoil and tighter groups.
The Snake Slayer IV can handle .45 Long Colts and 2¾- and 3-inch .410s. I guess it was really designed as a concealed-carry gun, but I wanted to use it against snakes while fishing. It would also be good for shooting big halibut before you boat them. A .410 will do the job nicely and not ricochet.
The first time I shot the Snake Slayer IV, my daughter Kolby joined me. Just as I set up a target, a ground squirrel ran out. I had a 2 ¾ ounce No.6 chambered and killed it at 20 feet.
Every time my daughter Kolby and I go fishing in Oregon, we see rattlesnakes. One year I heard her scream – a snake had jumped in the boat with us. On another trip on a river in Idaho, I saw six rattlesnakes and one of those floated right by me. That would have caused panic if it had tried to crawl up on the driest thing around, which was my head!
While in town, I originally thought to carry my Slayer with .45 Long Colts, but then I tested the new Winchester PDX-1 shells. Wow, they’re bad – in a good way! They have four discs and 16 BBs. They would stop a bad guy in his tracks. I shot various loads through the gun, and the first time I used the PDX-1 it made my jaw drop. It was noticeably devastating.
The Snake Slayer IV can interchange 20 barrels for a range of 25 different calibers.
The first rattle out of the box with a .45 Long Colt, I managed a 2½-inch group at 10 and 15 feet using Hornady’s 185-grain Critical Defense ammo. That would be more than enough to stop a bad guy – that’s a big bullet! But, like I said before, my main use for this gun would be to shoot snakes, and after shooting a .410 with No. 6 shot, I found that it had a wicked pattern, so I’m pretty confident it would work as a self-protection load as well.
When I took my Slayer out for some extensive shooting, I managed a 4-inch group at 15 feet, but I’m not renowned for being a great pistol shot. I then shot groups of two out of the same barrel and managed 2-inch groups, so there is a little variation between barrels, as you would imagine. Not a big factor, though, because it’s a short-range weapon.
I need to point out that the gun is diverse because you can interchange 20 different barrels, or 25 different calibers with one base unit. That has to make these one of the most versatile guns on the market.
It is a heavy, nice-looking and well-made duty pistol designed to last for generations. I also love that it has an equally nice and heavy-duty leather holster that is form-fitted with a latch to hold the gun securely.
Bond Arms has transformed the lowly derringer into a linebacker. ASJ
While fishing, a watersnake swam within a foot of me. This is why I carry the Snake Slayer IV. IT can readily be used as a great concealed-carry gun too.