Round Count: 46 shots fired, 0 malfunctions/ Uncleaned from previous when 56 shots fired with 0 malfunctions. Going back over my records, my weapon hasn’t malfunctioned since the summer of 2020–a span that has included at least 142 consecutive shots fired with 0 malfunctions. At least two of the range session featured the pistol without having been cleaned prior. One range report from late 2020 read:
“My pistol seems to run more reliably when a little dirty. I haven’t decided whether that’s a good thing or not yet.“
One of my New Year’s Resolution was to get into the shooting range more to reclaim the proficiency I had achieved by mid-2020. Since then, the Pandemic & related consequences like ammo scarcity & elevating prices–along with just the business of adult life–have limited my practice sessions to around five sessions since then. Luckily, two of those four occurred in rapid succession; those two being today’s session & another one last month. As with any physical skill, like a martial art or playing a sport, successive practices are a critical component to building onto the gains of the previous session as opposed to starting over again.
I laid out my goals for today as follows:
- Increase range out to 25 yards ideally, 20 yards at minimum
- Improve rapid fire (double taps at least) aptitude even out to range, 15 yards at minimum
I realize that gun ownership is a polarizing topic. But I came into the sport twenty years ago before that was even an issue, especially in rural America. Like any interest, it’s a solid way to meet people who share a common interests; and, in my experience, has served to create community more than to divide it. I know different people with different experiences will harbor correspondingly different feelings. I bring it up today because, for the first time since 2019, I actually got to shoot with a buddy. From 2018-2019, shooting with one or more friends was more the rule than the exception & it was nice to get back to the practice of maintaining friendships around this common interest.
One of last month’s goals was to come into my next session ready to start shooting at my normal 7 yards instead of the abbreviated 5 that I had been starting out with since the world reverted to normal (post-Pandemic). Another one was to assess my “cold shot” accuracy out of the gate. Cold shots are my initial shots without prior practice.
Why? Because–Heaven forbid–but if I’m ever forced to use my handgun to preserve my life–it will be my first 3 shots out of the gate that would determine my fate.
Results were good. Two of the 3 shots were close to center with one outlier falling outside the intended circle. However, in a real life situation, this bullet would have probably struck an adult-sized attacker somewhere on their body.
The first 6 shots out of mag one were a pass: nothing special, but adequate. Most importantly, 2 of my first 3 were right on. I had passed my own test with an above average score.
While my mag 1 results were promising, I knew that I had given myself a slightly unrealistic advantage by using the extended 8-round magazine which features more gripping area for the hand to enhance accuracy. In a real world situation, I’d be much more likely to have my 7-round flush magazine loaded.
To add this layer of realism, I attempted the same feat from the same distance of 7 yards with the smaller magazine. As I suspected, the results were less impressive but still adequate.
Wishing to rectify the potential problem revealed from mag 2, I reeled in the target to the more rudimentary 5 yard distance & used my 2nd 7-round/flush magazine. For today’s session, I had one 8-round/extended magazine along with two 7-round/flush magazines. In general, I try to rotate evenly through each magazine in order to evenly distribute the wear & tear in addition to ensuring proper function of each magazine. I take such great care to uncover any problems during practice so that if & when the time comes to use my gear in real life, I can have full faith in its functionality.
To jazz up my goals for mag 3, I decided to introduce 2 double taps. I believe I fired 3 sets of double taps & am happy to report two hits on bullseye under the additional stressor of rapid fire.
Satisfied that my performance at 7 yards was no fluke, I pushed the target out to that magic number of 21 feet. I believe I returned to the 8-round mag which is admittedly an advantage. I decided to double tap 3 times though to perhaps offset that advantage, thereby gaining a real world assessment of how ready I am for a real world defensive situation.
I am happy to report the following:
- 1 hits on bullseye at 7 yards
- 3 of 6 shots, even when fired in rapid succession, landed in the small circle which is the size of a small saucer; even shots a couple of inches or more outside of this range would more than likely strike a potential assailant somewhere on their body
I didn’t mark it down in my notes, but I’m sure I used my 8-round mag to tackle my first target at 10 yards–an entire THIRTY FEET! I loaded the customary 6 bullets into my magazine (although it holds at least 7 or 8 I just like to keep a set number in them during practice). I fired slowly to give myself the best opportunity to assess my aptitude at this distance under ideal circumstances.
To the left you can see the results. Two of the four shots proved ideal; the other two were passable for this distance.
On to the next objective.
And now–to address the day’s NUMBER1: OBJECTIVE–“from DOWN . . . TOWN!”
I don’t know what size mag I used, but I did make an effort to rotate the 7 round mags in for some of these tests at distance. That way, my test would give me confidence that I could perform in real world conditions as I generally carry the smaller, flush magazines.
I directed an acceptable three of six shots into the small square at a serious distance for a short-barreled pistol: 15 yards.
Mag7 (20 yards/60 feet)
“Here comes the BIG BOY!”
At this distance, the large rectangular paper target looks barely a centimeter in height. Keep in mind, that these sheets contain THREE small circular “targets” down both its right & left side. Aiming is a relative term for a small, concealable, portable handgun at this distance. However, in a real world scenario: if facing down a maniac with a rifle, this is probably what a potentially life-saving shot would look like. I aimed for the middle target on the left side & let fly four slow, deliberate shots.
Once I reeled the target back to “HOME” on the touch screen control system that adjusts the target’s distance, I was happy to report that I managed to impact the intended, miniscule circle once in four tries. The other three were all in a straight horizontal line just below the circle. At this distance, for a civilian who is not a police officer–for some “dumb American, reckless gunowner,” as the media would label me for owning a humble 9mm pistol, & not an “Elite Operator Navy SEAL”–this is damn good shooting.
Left: Observe the three bullet holes running left to right just below the red outer line of the target circle.
Right: Here is a view of the entire target circle including the area directly below it. One of the 4 hits within the circle occurred in the four shots fired from this magazine. This circle is about the size of both of my outstretched hands side-by-side & took place from 60 feet out.
For my last magazine, I loaded my customary 6 rounds. I had come to the range with a box of fifty 115 grain, FMJ Winchester “white box” bullets. These are the ones that are notorious for jamming, especially in a small single stack pistol like mine. Even more likely to do so since I hadn’t cleaned my weapon since my last session a month earlier–a deliberate dereliction of duty in order to assess the firearm’s reliability. I experienced 0 malfunctions in the 46 shots that I fired on this day; the other 4 bullets I had given to my friend who had run down to just two bullets on his last magazine.
I performed 2 shots at 20 yards slowly, connecting on one. At that distance, this is good.
I then performed two separate double taps after reeling the target in to 15 yards. I connected on one, which is acceptable considering the double tap is not a beginner’s move.
I realize that gun ownership among civilians is a controversial topic, both internationally & within my own country; hell, even within my own family. Now I understand the concerns of my average fellow citizen, especially if their only experience with firearms comes through the news media’s presentation of the issue.
Here’s what I believe:
For the most part, every household in a free country should be afforded to right to own a firearm. That said, not every household should own one. Moreover, there are certain individuals who definitely should not be allowed to own a gun. However, the fact that a handful of individuals should be denied this right doesn’t mean that the rest of us should be denied a right that we did nothing to warrant losing.
I believe that gun ownership is a responsibility. I believe in formal training & regular practice as well as secure storage. I encourage responsible ownership. Guns combine my interest in history & warfare as well as play on my interests in practical pursuits like physical fitness & the study of martial arts or other sports. Yes, I am aware that worse case scenario, guns can cause death; but they can also save lives. We, the people, dictate how the tool is used. I hope to do my part as a responsible advocate for legal gun ownership while I continue to enjoy sharing my time, experiences, & stories with people of a similar mindset.
Regarding my assessment of today’s practice, I’m doing a pretty good job. Regarding my aptitude, I’m not as good as I was in mid-2020. I’m so proud of the level I achieved then. I had taken formal on-hands training with a 1-on 1 certified instructor at the range. I had made numerous trip to the range with a retired Command-Sergeant-Major in the US Coast Guard. I had fired numerous shots at the range under the watchful eyes of a dutiful Range Safety Officer.
I’m not as good now as I was then; but I’m still good enough. And I the foundation to be that good again & even better, provided I put aside a little more time to do it. I’m happy to have the opportunity to pursue these goals safely & legally. It’s nice to have dreams, goals, & a community to share such things with.
And it’s nice to have a handgun that I can trust as much as I can trust my own aptitude to use it effectively should the need ever arise. I pray to God it won’t.