Friday, October 16, 2009

Meanwhile, Back Here in the Tundra...

...it didn't snow yesterday! I guess we have to take our small victories where we find them. I've been playing catch-up this week, whipping out my column in The Cowboy Chronicle, finishing up the bullet point outline for THE BEST DEFENSE segments on concealed carry (which I also want to tun into a stand-along 90 minute video package) and working on the basics of a new production company I'm setting up.

I of course spent yesterday afternoon in breathless fear for the kid in the balloon, although I apparently misheard the breathless announcer and thought the balloon held all 8 kids from that wretched reality show "Moron & Bimbo Plus 8!" Had that been the case, I was hoping the balloon would be blown to Somewhereistan where all 8 little wretchettes would be adopted by a peasant farm family and forced to pull a plow for the next decade. Now, that would be a reality show I could get into!

Here's the skinny on the Bushmaster/Remington ACR civilian version, from Adam Heggenstaller at the SI Guns & Hunting blog.
The ACR, or Adaptive Combat Rifle, has been an ongoing collaboration involving Bushmaster, Magpul and Remington for the past two years. A quick rundown of features includes: a two-position (suppressed and non-suppressed), short-stroke, gas-piston system of operation; modular, interchangeable bolt heads, barrels, magazines, buttstocks (one of which is a six-position side-folder) and handguards; an aluminum upper receiver and a polymer lower receiver; a cold hammer-forged, free-floating barrel; and ambidexterous controls. In short, it's innovative and badass.
From a consumer viewpoint, unless you just like current military hardware and wanna be firstest with the bestest, it's hard to rationalize the higher price tags (most above MSRP) that are going to be attached to the next-gen black rifles. No doubt they'll be coming down as the pipeline fills up.

My friend Caleb over Gun Nuts Media has an interesting take on point shooting:
Have you ever seen the sights on a pistol from the 1930s? They barely even exist on a lot of guns. The sights on a military issue 1911 from back then were among the best sights in the game, and they’re not even close to what I’d consider an adequate sighting system. So it actually makes sense that for close range combat shooting you’d adopt a school of thought that taking the time to acquire the itty-bitty-teensy-weensy sights isn’t really worth the effort, because the sights were just awful.
The issue of course is that times have changed, and we have modern, quality sight systems for handguns that allow the shooter to rapidly pick up the sights and place accurate hits on target just as fast as someone using a point shooting method of looking over the gun. Teaching the flash sight picture isn’t even that difficult for most people, especially if you’re using a gun set up with Express sights.
I don't necessarily agree with this viewpoint, although it has its merits. I think "point shooting," that is, non-visual body index shooting (okay, so that's my definition) works perfectly within context, which is close-in reactive shooting. It works because monkeys can point real good! You can try it yourself right now at home! Stop reading, pick something in your environment — say, a wall switch — and point at it. I'll bet that 99.99% of you were able to successfully point at the object. Wow!

Back when I was cave diving, my primary instructor used to say, "Never train against the operating system." What that means is as primates we're wired a certain way, and while yes indeedy there are people who juggle running chain saws for a living, I'm willing to bet you (and certainly not me!) are not one of them. So when we rigged out cave diving gear, we tried to make sure the rigging accommodated primate reactions like the flinch. When startled or scared, monkeys flinch — they crouch, pull their hands up and in to protect their heads and eyes and get the chemical "flee or fight" injection...and so do you. Here's a "dummy" example of rigging to accommodate primate response — on deep wrecks I carried multiple knives and rescue tools, but I always had a net-ripper knife bungied to the left front harness strap and a rescue knife on the right front harness strap. When I got tangled up in old fishing netting invariably found on a wreck, I was a scared little monkey...but my post-flinch hands rested on the tools necessary to extricate myself.

One other hard-wired primate function is look at the threat! We have the forward facing binocular vision common to predators, and that type of vision comes with software that drives us to fix our focus on the prey/threat. The closer the threat is, the more our visual focus zooms in on the threat. That's why lasers like Crimson Trace work so well...if we're hard-wired to focus on the threat, it's handy to have a red dot to show where the bullet will go regardless of where the gun is. Here's how the late Col. Rex Applegate described it in Bullseyes Don't Shoot Back:
Point shooting relies on the body's instinctive ability to point at nearby objects with reasonable accuracy...It is so natural and so well engrained that it is not greatly affected even when the body is suffering reactions from extreme stress...
Again, I believe point shooting is limited (as, indeed, are all tools). But I have proven to my own satisfaction that I can reliably hit a close-up target from a retention position and/or from any point on the drawstroke as the gun is driven out and upwards toward eye-level.

Shooting is, I believe, a continuum, a series of different skills lumped together under the one terminology. It runs roughly from body-indexed point shooting (which is by any definition "aimed" fire) to target-focused shooting with the sights (what an IPSC shooter means by looking "through" the sights...this can also be defined as a "flash sight picture") to more traditional aimed fire, with a sight picture appropriate for the distance to the target. Rob Leatham can get a flash sight picture at a 50-yard popper...I can't. I need the hard sight picture.

15 comments:

Joe Merchant24 said...

I get innovative and badass. I've had this fully on the WANT LIST since it was the Masada.

The question is... when can I attempt to order one? I'm a former journalist, so I get embargoes.

But, here's a safe question to respond to via DRTV PM:

"Am I safe spending my ACR funds on an XCR now because I have a few months to rebuild the fund?"

A yes answer means "Yes, you have more than 90 or so says to rebuild."

A no answer means "No, you are not safe spending the XCR funds in the next, say, 30 or so days).

No reply will be interpreted as a "No" answer.

ericire12 said...

"Dumb and Dumber plus eight"

Joe Merchant24 said...

Tonight on "Nightline:"

The secret savior of the boy in the balloon. Investigators reveal that the boy really was in the balloon at liftoff and in mortal danger.

Upon learning about the perilous situation, Boy King Barrack Obama ran to the phone booth installed in the Oval Office (for just this purpose) donned his cape and flew to Colorado where he whisked the boy to safety.

This and more, tonight on Nightline

Clark Kent said...

Well, Joe, the dude's gotta live up to his Peace Surprize, now, don't he?

Anonymous said...

"In short, it's innovative and badass."

...and years late to market.

I'm sure three groups of enginneers and marketing folks simplified the process greatly!

Right!

My lust for the Masada has cooled.
If Remington rolls out Ozumbo for this intro I'll puke.

Ratcather55

Tim Covington said...

I'm beginning to lay odds on a white Christmas in the Dallas area (or at least seeing snow before then). It looks like it is going to be a cold winter.

Caleb said...

I don't actually disagree with any of the points, especially the "threat focus" that a lot of people adopt. Yes, I train to look at the sights, but there's a reason my carry guns have Crimson Trace grips on them.

Anonymous said...

Ratcatcher posted
"I'm sure three groups of enginneers and marketing folks simplified the process greatly!"

To which I have to reply, I'm sure they did. And then they turned around and and repeated the process with what the liability lawyers left them.

Tom Bogan

R_W said...

Every American kid that was allowed to play cowboys and indians or cops and robbers or supersoakers or nerfguns or video games can pointshoot. It is a skill we unlearn as adults. Most of the time we overthink the problem.

Clark Kent said...

RW - Maybe it's because we become more concerned with groups than with simply putting down the bad guy.

Then again, it might have something to do with range - the further the target the more I need a front sight. And the double-tap complex, of course. Gotta use the two-handed grip to keep down the bbl flip.

But now that we have Crimson Trace - prolly the neatest invention since the remote channel changer - we can get back to the technique that worked so well for cowboys and Injuns and cops-n-robbers.

The one thing, tho, that I had to unlearn as I started shooting real guns was not to shake the revolver at the bad guy as a fired, which is what they all used to do in the movies. It was as if they needed some wrist whip to propel the bullet out of the barrel.

Hell, it worked just fine with our cap-gun shootouts.

Anonymous said...

Ratcatcher posted
"The one thing, tho, that I had to unlearn as I started shooting real guns was not to shake the revolver at the bad guy as a fired, which is what they all used to do in the movies. It was as if they needed some wrist whip to propel the bullet out of the barrel. "

The reason they do that is a hold over from "Cap and Ball" When you had to shake out the split percussion cap.
TB

Clark Kent said...

"The reason they do that is a hold over from "Cap and Ball" When you had to shake out the split percussion cap."

Must be where they got the lyrics, "Whole lotta shakin goin on," I reckon.

Anonymous said...

So I guess I'll have to get rid of the 12 ARs and order the new tech! I suppose the fact that the AR has served for 50 years, longer than any other military rifle except the flintlock, doesn't give it a reprieve from extinction!

Anonymous said...

I was a human factors engineering major back in college...at Colorado Springs. As far as I can remember, something like flying a plane or driving a car is a (pursuit?) tracking task. So I am assuming then that shooting a gun and getting the bullets/gun combination to land from one target to the next is a tracking task.

When/if I do ever get a new battery for the posercam, I will go out of my way to record at least two different things/trials. One of which will be shooting a bowling pin match in one stage with the laser grips turned off and then in the next stage with the laser turned on. I shot a friend's 1911 with the CTC grips on just once, and I was immediately impressed.

The second thing I would like to do is to shoot a steel challenge/plate type of match without any sort of sights on the gun. I could swear that I have shot some steel challenge stages so much I could probably shoot them blindfolded.

Pardon the spam, but some of the posercam videos can be found here:
http://www.youtube.com/posercam

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