I fished out a really nice Kimber Match Target 9mm that I got about a decade ago, then had the great Bruce Gray "blueprint" the gun...9mm 1911s are notoriously finicky (I exempt the Para TLC 9mm Commanders, which in my experience with several have been flawless out of the box...in fact, I was an idiot not to buy my T&E version!). Because there's so much less recoil impulse with a 9 as compared to a .45 ACP, which of course the gun was designed for, or even a .38 Super, it doesn't take much tolerance stack to jam them up.
I got the gun to shoot in IDPA Enhanced Service Pistol class — we filmed an IDPA championship with me shooting that gun many many seasons back for SG — then I shot a qualifying score at the Rogers Shooting School with the Kimber after Brucie overhauled it.
My Sweetie's brother brought his Glock and a .44 Vaquero, and we ran into one of my neighbors who's ramping up for cowboy competition this season. He also has a new Springfield Armory little 1911.
When I was running through the 1911 drills and tweaking my Sweetie's shooting to get her shifted from cowboy to the semi auto, I was struck by the connectedness of what I was doing. While I was shaping my neighbor's hands on the 1911 grip, I briefly flashed on Brian Enos doing the same thing with my hands a long time ago. I started on the dot drill (John Shaw was the first person I worked with who used it, although everybody and his dog Fred now takes credit for "inventing" it), then set up "negative space drills" — the A-zones cut out of the targets (George Harris, Bruce Gray). We worked on some trigger diagnostics I learned from Walt Rauch back when I started this journey, then a trigger drill I got from Chris Edwards at Glock when we were...how you say in English?...younger! LOL.
I said words Col. Cooper and Ray Chapman said to me a long time ago, because they are still valid, and tried techies I'd seen Mike Seeklander demo just a few weeks back. And as I shot through the same drills with the 9mm Kimber, I briefly flashed on Bill Rogers giving me hell while a group of very worried looking young Marine instructors looked on — "That's his friend, dude! How will he treat us?" — while Rosie Rosel laughed uproariously.
It might have been the most restful afternoon I'd had in months.
One thing that frustrates me about the Internet and those who purport to be experts is that, like the President, they say "I" a lot...techniques they have personally invented, or personally "refined," tests that are the epitome of all tests, drills that are different than any other shooting drilled ever done. I spent years in dojos, methodically crunching up the knuckles in my hands against unyielding stuff. If I learned anything in those years, it was that the martial arts cliche is true — the student is truly a reflection of the teacher. We are all journeymen, following a path that many other have walked before us. It calls to mind a quote from Shunryu Suzuki, author of Zen Mind; Beginner's Mind..."In the beginner's mind, there are many possibilities, but in the expert's mind there are few."
Whenever I start thinking I'm an expert on anything, I reread George Leonard's wonderful short book, Mastery: The Keys to Success and Long-Term Fulfillment. In that book's last chapter, Leonard, one of the great akido masters, speaks to the question of, "How can I be a learner?" This is what he concludes:
When Jigoro Kana, the founder of judo, was quite old and close to death, the story goes, he called his students around him and told them we wanted to be buried in his white belt. What a touching story; how humble of the world's highest-ranking judoist in his last days to ask for the emblem of a beginner! But Kano's request, I eventually realized, was less humility than realism. At the moment of death, the ultimate transformation, we are all white belts. And if death makes beginners of us, so does life — again and again. In the master's secret mirror, even at the moment of highest renown and accomplishment, there is an image of the newest student in the class, eager for knowledge, willing to play the fool.There are many things going on in my life right now...many of them very good; some of them profoundly bad. A day on the range helps me remember the path I have chosen to walk, and remembering the path brings me closer to the Way...maybe that's B-S, but then again, maybe it's not.