Paul Harrell’s Great Videos for New Shooters
Given the number of new gun owners out there it’s probably a good idea to review how to accurately shoot a handgun. As always two of the greatest sources of information are internet websites and YouTube – assuming that you read articles and watch videos made by someone that actually knows what they’re doing.
For our money one of the best online video sources for firearm and shooting technique information is Paul Harrell – who we like to think of as the “Bob Ross of firearms”- informative, descriptive, humorous and calming. Paul's YouTube channel has lots of great videos that are always filled with actual methodical shooting demonstrations.
With regards to accurate handgun shooting, back in January/February 2017 Paul posted three videos on what he believes are the key points and the proper techniques.
Part One focuses on handgun “Grip and Stance” and makes the following key points:
Part Two focuses on handgun “Sight Alignment/Sight Picture” and makes the following key points:
Part Three focuses on handgun “Trigger Control” and makes the following key points:
If you’re a new shooter, or an experienced shooter looking to improve, you should really spend 20 minutes and watch these three videos from Paul.
For a more detailed look at stances here’s a good article from Pew Pew Tactical:
“Shooting Stances & Grip: Isosceles vs Weaver vs Chapman”
If you want additional details on how to improve your accuracy with a handgun - then you should also checkout our previous blog post on "The Secret to Mastering the Handgun" which features a 19 minute video by Alex Hommes, the Operations Manager for the Silverado Shooting Academy.
How to Keep Yourself, and Those Around You, Safe
Given everyone’s ongoing concerns about the COVID-19 virus, and its impacts on our daily lives, one interesting phenomena that we are seeing is a lot of people that have never owned a firearm heading to their local gun store to purchase either a handgun, shotgun or rifle. Some of these individuals have never considered owning a gun before, and some of them seem to be anti-gun people that have had a change of heart given the social turbulence that they see around them. Whatever the cause, we are glad to see people exercising their 2nd Amendment rights and rethinking their gun ownership positions.
Based on the FBI statistics what we are seeing locally is happening all across the United States. In fact, January 2020 had the fourth-highest number of National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) background checks ever for a month - totaling 2,702,707 checks. February exceeded that number recording 2,802,467 background checks, with 797,221 of these checks occurring between 21 February and 1 March 2020 - the third-highest level since 1998.
In total 338,509,235 NICS background checks have been completed since the system started operations in November 1998; approximately 8 million background checks more than the entire population of the United States of 330 million people.
Here’s the FBI’s data from November 1998 through February 2020.
Here’s the FBI’s data for January and February 2020 – broken down by State
If you want to see more of the FBI’s NICS data here are the direct links:
As with most things in life, this explosion of people realizing that they need to be able to defend themselves (and taking actions to exercise their 2nd Amendment rights to purchase firearms to do so), has both pros and cons.
Biggest Pro – People understand that they are responsible for their own protection - especially since the average response time in the United States for the Police to arrive after being called is 9 minutes and 35 seconds – even in the best of circumstances.
Biggest Con – There are a whole lot of new gun owners out there with firearms that they haven’t trained with and, in many cases, really don’t know how to effectively use safely.
So that brings us to today’s real blog topic: The 4 Rules of Gun Safety. Initially developed by Lt. Col. Jeff Cooper in 1976 at “Gunsite”, his ranch in northern Arizona dedicated to teaching and advancing the knowledge that Cooper had developed as his “Modern Technique” approach to effectively using firearms. Cooper’s initial version of the 4 Rules of Gun Safety was:
Rule One: All guns are always loaded.
Rule Two: Never let the muzzle cover anything which you are not willing to destroy.
Rule Three: Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.
Rule Four: Always be sure of your target.
For safety’s sake every gun owner should commit these 4 rules to memory, and should follow them 100% of the time to maximize safety and minimize accidents. Responsible gun ownership means learning and practicing the behaviors that help prevent needless accidental injury and/or death – in all situations.
Over the past 40 years numerous variations to the wording of Cooper’s original 4 Rules have proliferated – mostly to provide additional clarity. The version of the 4 Rules of Gun Safety that we prefer are:
Based on these four rules some key points that we like emphasize to other shooters (both new – and yes – sometimes old timers too) are:
One last note. Over the past several years, as gun safety has been highlighted, a new rule seems to be emerging:
We like this rule since you should obviously store your guns so they are not accessible to unauthorized people; including your children, friends, and other people that might have access to your home and/or firearms - wherever they are located.
For more details and opinions about the 4 Rules of Gun Safety here are some other great online reference sources:
- A Girl & A Gun: “4 Rules of Gun Safety”
- Keepgunssafe.com – “The Four Primary Rules of Firearm Safety”
- Cheaper Than Dirt Blog – “4 Rules of Gun Safety”
To really drive the point home, here's a great video from Colion Noir discussing the same topic for new gun owners: "7 Things You Should Do After Buying Your First Gun":
In addition, here are two videos from Paul Harrell where he gives his "tips on how non-firearms enthusiasts can make good decisions in buying firearms" during today's situation:
So, whether you are a new gun owner or an old hand, play it safe and follow The 4 Rules of Gun Safety whenever you are around firearms.
We Have Readers from All Over the World
Like most websites, ever since we launched our Hiking, Camping and Shooting website we’ve tracked the statistics to see who our readers are and where they’re located. Recently we’ve had a few people ask who reads our site – so we thought that we would share some of our statistics with all of you.
We have readers from all 50 States - with the largest concentrations being in the following 15 States:
We have readers from over 90 Countries around the world - with the largest concentrations being in the following 20 Countries:
The 20 pages and blog posts that people have read the most over the past 3 years are:
Most of our readers find us either by searching on Google (52.3%) or by previously having been to our website and coming directly to us (31.2%). A much smaller percentage (4.8%) find us through our Hiking, Camping and Shooting Facebook page:
The majority of our users view our website on either Chrome (49.8%) or Safari (27.5%) browsers:
Hopefully this data shows you that you’re in good company as you read through our Hiking, Camping and Shooting gear write-ups and blog posts. Our wish is that they give you some information that will make all your adventures a little more fun. Wherever you’re from, we’re glad that you stopped by to look over our HCS website!
Safariland 6004-173-6114 STX Black Tactical Holster
Since a large handgun is normally too big to carry in an Inside the Waistband (IWB) holster, you really need to carry it in a different type of holster. For concealed carry the only option is really a shoulder holster – so we have one of those (a Bianchi 4601 Ranger Viper). But for unconcealed carrying, or for ease of access for activities like 3-gun shooting, you really need to carry the firearm as a “sidearm”; and that means either an Outside the Waistband (OWB) holster or a drop-leg holster. Since an OWB holster makes the firearm sit high on your waist, that can cause issues drawing a large firearm since you have to lift your arm up fairly high to allow the barrel to fully clear the holster. Because of this, the more popular option for large handguns, like the Beretta 92FS, is a drop leg holster. After looking at the many options on the market, for unconcealed carry for our Beretta 92FS, we selected a Safariland 6004-173-6114 STX Black Tactical Holster.
You can find the details about the Safariland 6004 Holster on the Shooting/Holsters page.
Fighting Shotgun Class with Gregory Cruz of Interactive Gunfighting
This weekend the rain finally stopped here in New England and we were able to enjoy a “Fighting Shotgun” course taught by Gregory Cruz, the founder of Interactive Gunfighting. It was a great day – and lots of ammo was expended. If you’ve ever wondered what over 2,000 spent shotgun shells looks like here you go:
The class ran 8 hours and covered a variety of topics to include:
During the day we each shot 200 rounds of bird shot, 25 rounds of buck shot and 15 slugs, using a wide variety of pump and semi-auto shotguns manufactured by all sorts of companies and decked out with all types of iron sights, optics, slings and other gear based on personal preference. Since we shot three different kinds of ammunition, Greg even took the time during one of the breaks from shooting to cut open birdshot, buckshot and slug shells so that we could talk about the pros and cons of each type of ammunition. (FYI - you can read the blog post that I wrote on this topic back in November of 2017 if you want the details)
As to the level of instruction that we received, it was top notch since Greg has had an extensive and widely varied career. Greg is a military combat veteran and wounded warrior nominated for the Silver Star for Combat Valor, awarded the Bronze Star with Combat V and Purple Heart. A former USMC Grunt/Sniper and Scout Sniper Instructor Greg served in Panama, Desert Shield/Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. An experienced Law Enforcement Officer, Greg served as the Chief Firearms Instructor at the Rhode Island Municipal Police Academy. Greg was also a founding member of Department of Homeland Security/Federal Air Marshal firearms program post 9/11. Greg has been a weapons instructor for over 20 years and from 2014 through 2018 was the Smith & Wesson Academy’s Chief Firearms Instructor. A highly experienced competitive shooter, firearms and tactics instructor, and lifelong student of the tactical/shooting arts, Greg really brought practical knowledge to the class. You can find out more details on their website (https://interactivegunfighting.com/) or their
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/InteractiveGunfighting/
One of the things that I liked the most about the class was Greg’s emphasis on splitting your shooting stance (i.e. your legs) and your posture (i.e. your upper torso). Since accuracy and repeatability is so dependent on your shooting body position, and your mechanics, Greg’s focus on this was great. The shooting drills that we ran through helped you understand how to get a good stance to “drive the gun” (much like a football linebacker’s stance is how I always think about it), when and how to change your posture or rotate your torso to engage targets from different directions, and when to move your feet or the angle of your knees to reorient your stance.
The ever increasing speed of the sustainment reload (rapidly "topping off" the shotgun's magazine tube when you have a break from shooting so that the magazine is full when you reengage the targets) and combat reload (reloading the shotgun by putting a single shell into the chamber as soon as the previous shell has been ejected - done in extreme situations where there is an immediate threat and no time to fully reload the shotgun's magazine tube; sometimes called a tactical reload) drill was also great since you really had think and to work to keep up.
We all had fun and learned a lot during the class. So if you are looking to really learn how to utilize your shotguns – check out what Greg and Interactive Gunfighting offer.
Steel Targets – Lots of Fun – if Safely Used
Since we try to focus on “tactical” shooting we try to spend a minimum amount of time standing behind a bench and shooting paper targets. Instead, we try to focus on moving and shooting activities that include reloading, malfunction clearing, switching between different firearms, using barricades and thinking - in addition to the actual shooting. One of the things that we do quite a bit of, to increase the tactical nature of our range time, is to shoot steel targets in addition to shooting paper targets.
Why? Well, in addition to the challenge and the fun of having more varied activities - there are lots of great reasons to shoot steel:
So why don’t more people shoot steel? Our experience is that paper targets rule over steel targets at most ranges because of four factors:
So what do you need to know about steel target setup and safety
Here are some great websites with even more information in case you are interested in learning more about shooting steel targets:
………and here’s a good 23 minute video from the Military Arms Channel:
Video by Alex Hommes - Operations Manager for the Silverado Shooting Academy
We’re always learning and looking for new sources of knowledge about both our gear and our techniques for all facets of Hiking, Camping and Shooting. Recently we came across a great video by Alex Hommes, the Operations Manager for the Silverado Shooting Academy (www.SilveradoShootingAcademy.com) in Orange County California about “The Secret to Mastering the Handgun”.
In the 18:57 minute video Alex covers the essential facts about shooting a handgun, and what you need to do to consistently hit what you are aiming at. The core of Alex’s video is that mechanical technique is 10% of the shooting process and that mental discipline is the other 90%. The problem that most people have with the mental part is due to the fact that we all have a natural aversion to holding onto things that explode. This aversion causes many people to lose their sight picture at the exact moment that they reach the trigger breakpoint – causing them to pull their aim off target. Alex calls this “reactive interference”.
This point of view really resonated with us – so we thought that we would share Alex’s video and some of the key points that he makes. The video covers the following topics:
1) What is Handgun Mastery?
2) Why Handgun Shooting is Difficult
2a) Freeze the sight picture
2b) Squeeze the trigger without disrupting the sight picture
2c) Realign the sights on the target
2d) Reset the trigger
3) Neurophysiology 101
4) The "First Shot" Phenomenon
5) Classical Conditioning or "Reactive Interference"
6) The Paradox of the Handgun
7) Urban Legends of Handgun Shooting
8) The Problem with Conventional Training
9) The Zen of the Handgun
10) The Silverado Method
11) The Alternative Method: Habituation
Here are some of the key points from Alex’s video that match our beliefs on what you need to do to enhance your handgun shooting abilities and increase you shooting accuracy.
“The handgun is the most difficult of all firearms to shoot effectively.”
“Don't rely on ‘spray and pray’.“
“Mastering the handgun is about controlling shot placement to the limit of your physical ability.”
“Shot placement is determined by one thing, and only one thing - the direction of the muzzle at the instant the bullet clears it. Your ability to control the shot depends on how well you can stabilize the gun while pulling the trigger.”
“We all have a natural aversion to holding on to things that explode. The lower animal part of our brain doesn't like concussion and tries to move us away from the gun at the same time our higher thinking brain is trying to carry out a new skill. This high brain - low brain conflict is why handguns are difficult to master.”
“A flinch will never mess up a shot because it is a reflex that happens after a loud sound. By the time the sound wave reaches you the bullet is already two feet out of the barrel. Nothing you do at that point will affect the shot.”
“After the first shot we will associate the trigger brake pressure applied by our trigger finger with the concussion of the gun. When we fire the gun again our anxiety level will increase as we increase pressure on the trigger. We will reflexively brace for the shot. Our reactive animal brain will have us take defensive action against the expected explosion right at the trigger breakpoint. These reactions interfere with the skill of handgun shooting. We call this ‘reactive interference’.”
“Reactive interference has nothing to do with good technique. It's the effect of the animal getting into the shooting process. If you can't control the animal your skill won't matter. You won't be able to apply that skill.”
“Conventional handgun training focuses on shooting as a mechanical technique and not a mental discipline. It applies technique to the problem of reactive interference leading to solutions that don't work very well.”
“….……..illusion that bad trigger technique is the major cause of handgun inaccuracy. In reality bad trigger pull will only produce minor variations in shot placement.”
“No technique is going to solve the problem of reactive interference.”
“Mastery of the handgun means eliminating reactive interference; getting the animal out of the shooting process. We can't eliminate our reflexes, but we can suppress them. All of the muscle movements involved with reactive interference are subject to voluntary control.”
“It's important that the closer you get to the trigger break the slower you increase the trigger pressure so that you can stop the trigger pull at the instant you become aware of bracing for the shot.”
“Once you can bring the trigger all the way back without bracing for the shot it's just a matter of being consistent while repeating this until you can do it faster.."
Like most of you we’ve watched way too many online videos. But we really liked this one. So, if you’re interested in improving your handgun shooting abilities, we highly recommend watching the Silverado Shooting Academy’s video on “The Secret to Mastering the Handgun”.
Real Avid .30, .308, 7.62mm Bore Boss
Since all firearms need to be kept clean to operate efficiently we recently got around to purchasing a bore snake for our 7.62 x 39mm Norinco MAK-90. Although all of our other bore snakes are from Hoppe’s, when we were looking for the 7.62mm snake we ran across the Real Avid Bore Boss. Since we really like our Real Avid cleaning mat (because of the thought that they put into it) and the Bore Boss appeared to be a “reimagined” version of a bore snake, we decided to give it a shot. We’re glad we did.
The Bore Boss has a round case with an attached rubber cover that stores the cable/brush/mop and acts as an ergonomic grip that helps you pull the tight-fitting cable through your rifle. The snake stays in its container until needed with the cable wrapped neatly around the case to ensure that it doesn’t get tied into knots while it is stored. The case also keeps the cleaning brush from grabbing fabric or poking you, and keeps the dirty mop away from other items in your range bag.
You can find the details about the Real Avid Bore Boss on the Shooting/Cleaning Supplies page.
Decided Which #8 Shot Shells to Use
Back in July we posted a blog related to “Trying Out New #8 Shot Shells” for 3-Gun activities – and ended by saying that we would let you know what we figured out after we had completed our testing of the following 4 types of 12 Gauge 2 ¾” #8 shot shells:
1) Winchester Super X - Upland Game
2) Winchester Super Target - Light Target
3) Fiocchi Shooting Dynamics Target Loads
4) Federal Premium Gold Medal Grand™ Competition Clay Target Loads
Normally we use 2 ¾” 00 Buckshot shells in our shotguns since they are “tactical” in nature (as opposed to being used for skeet shooting or hunting). However, because we had been doing more 3-gun shooting, where 00 Buckshot is overkill when shooting at clay and paper targets, we decided that we needed to find a good #8 shot shell for the 3-gun range.
Well, after putting a lot of lead down range, we’ve decided to use the “Fiocchi Shooting Dynamics Target Loads” 2 ¾” #8 shot shells (Manufacturer #12SD1L8, UPC #762344705538) going forward for our 3-gun activities.
Although all 4 of the shells that we tested worked well, we decided to choose the Fiocchi shells for a variety of reasons.
1) Fiocchi is the world leader in shot shell manufacturing making more than 500 million
cases each year. Fiocchi also helped pioneer the lower recoil 1 oz load.
2) Good quality shotgun shells.
3) Gives a nice tight pattern due to the 1,170 fps velocity and lead pellet
4) Never had a FTF or FTE - always reliable.
5) Good combination of economy and performance – cost per shell ~$0.25
6) One-piece shot cup
7) Clean-burning powder
8) Reliable Fiocchi primers
9) Cushioned wads
10) First-run chilled shot. High-antimony (5%) lead pellets with nearly perfect
You can find the details about the #8 Shot Fiocchi Shooting Dynamics Target Loads on the Shooting/Ammunition page.
As with most gear, everyone has their own opinions about firearms; what specifications matter, which firearm is better, which firearm should be used for what application, etc.,
Because of this, one of the topics that comes up alot is the comparison between the AR-15 and the AK-47, and the various pros and cons of each. The AR-15 is the best-selling rifle in the US, while the AK-47 is one of the most widely recognized rifles on Earth. Both weapons might be similar in appearances, but on closer observation, they are truly worlds apart.
Here's a side-by-side infographic comparison of the basic functionality and specifications of these two popular guns that was pulled together by TacticalGear.com:
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