Basic Handgun Class: I have commitment issues

| September 8, 2014 | 6 Comments

Last Saturday I took another Basic Handgun class with QSI Training. I’ve already written about the virtues of practicing fundamentals no matter your skill level, so I’m not going to recap the course here or discuss why I’ve taken this class about 10 times.

I try to have one or two goals in mind before taking a class, and my goal Saturday was to acclimate to my Trijicon RMR red dot site equipped Glock 19. I expected a slight reduction in shooting speed and some problems finding the red dot until I got more trigger time in.

These two things turned out to be true, but I also encountered another problem: the sealing plate made by One Source Tactical was razor-sharp and cut my left hand several times.

Speed and accuracy

As expected, my shooting was slower than normal. I also had some interesting accuracy problems earlier in the day. I attribute these things to:

  • Being surprised by the dot. What the hell is THAT? I am still not used to seeing something other than the iron sights when shooting my Glock, and I definitely caught myself wondering what I was looking at a few times.
  • Not pushing the gun out flatly, which resulted in some difficulty in acquiring the dot. If the slide is parallel to the ground the red dot is easy to see, if the nose of the pistol is high or low it is very difficult if not impossible to see the dot. I do not remember using the suppressor sights to find the red dot, ala “the visual handoff” mentioned by Gabe Suarez.
  • Not committing to using the iron sights or the red dot. This caused some accuracy problems as my eyes and point of aim shifted from the irons to the red dot or vice versa. In the case of shifting from the irons to the red dot my hits were too low; in going from the red dot to irons my shots would go high. I wound up fixing this about halfway through the day, but it was interesting to watch my accuracy suffer do to my “commitment issues.”
  • Being mesmerized by the motion of the dot, especially during longer, more complex drills. The dot is very susceptible to changes in your breathing, steadiness, and motion. Getting stable before firing was very important, otherwise the dot was moving too much to be useful.  I used the window and hood of the RMR more than once to point shoot, a technique nicknamed “the TV of death” by a Suarez International instructor.

Benefits

Despite the adjustment period, I did feel like shooting at 10 yards (the maximum distance of the day) was easier with the red dot than without.

Concentrating on the dot made it difficult to see if I was hitting the steel targets or not. On my final passthrough drill of the day — where we put everything we learned together at 30 feet — the instructors stated I missed once. Here’s that final run:

Now, compare that to this run in April. Granted, the setup was different back then (and more difficult) but note the difference in speed up close vs farther away. I think that I was faster with irons up close, and faster with the RMR at distance.

The instructors also stated that my grouping yesterday was very tight and slightly lower than center of mass (where we are taught to aim). I wish it was easier to see point of impact in my other footage for a comparison.

Conclusion

I knew the RMR would take some getting used to, so I am not disheartened about my performance yesterday. I know that I will get back up to speed eventually, and in some cases exceed my speed and accuracy with iron sights.

There are also benefits to an RMR-mounted pistol that I haven’t touched on yet, such as another reference point for instinctive / point shooting, and for doing one-handed reloads. I’ll touch on those benefits in future articles.

The RMR reinforced my belief that you absolutely need to test your new gear and techniques in a fight-focused class (or several) before calling things good. I had already put about 350 rounds down the pipe in a static range environment, but doing things at even a Basic class level changed everything. Movement, stress, procedures all combine for a different experience. We need to test ourselves and our equipment outside of a shoebox.

One negative I didn’t expect to encounter was the sharpness of the sealing plate sold by One Source Tactical. The thin metal plate goes between the RMR and the slide, and is meant to keep moisture from contacting the otherwise exposed battery on the RMR. Unfortunately it is wider than the slide, and quite sharp.

I realized my hand was bleeding during class, and thought I had been hit by a splashback fragment from the steel targets. When it happened again I realized it was the retaining plate. I attempted to change my grip on the slide to avoid the sealing plate, but I’ve done thousands, if not tens of thousands, of manipulations of the slide in an overhand manner which put me in direct contact with the plate. I wound up finishing the day with a glove on.

IMG_2105

Aside from this sealing plate, I’m happy with my RMR-equipped Glock 19, and look forward to improving my skills. No matter who you are, you can always benefit from practice.

About the Author:

Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd is a regular guy and works to make Web sites and mobile apps easier for people to use. He spends his free time attending fight-focused firearm, knife, and combatives training, motorcycling, writing, and playing games. His daily carry is a Glock 19 pistol and an AR15 .300 Blackout pistol in a backpack.
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6 Comments on "Basic Handgun Class: I have commitment issues"

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  1. Kyliewyotie says:

    Thanks for article. Glad you got a RMR glock, for selfish reasons. Now I will get to see more articles based on that platform as well as back pack SBR’s.

    Question on the plate, is the plate made by OST or is the trijicon accessory?
    https://www.trijicon.com/na_en/products/product3.php?pid=RM63

    I have one of these on mine with out the slicing issues, which I saw on the warrior talk forums isn’t isolated to you.

    I had my rmr done at a different shop, so I am not sure if OST is making their own plates or using the trijicon ones.

    As a side note, when I started to get really comfortable with my RMR I found myself placing my focal plane on the target, and the dot would show up floating in place “fuzzy” unfocused, instead of focusing on the dot. I did start with the irons being “runway lights” to finding my dot, but now with enough reps I think that happens unconsciously.

    Distance shooting, speed, and follow shots have had an improvements since my RMR/ Familiarity with it.

    I look forward to seeing more from you on it, use it in good health.

    • Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd says:

      Hi there! Thanks for the comments.

      The sealing plate I own is from One Source Tactical (OST). As you noted, I am not the first person to have this problem but there are apparently many people who haven’t experienced this.

  2. David says:

    The issues you’re describing are exactly the same as the ones I experienced when I was running a Micro clone on my Beretta Neos. The concept is great, but dot pickup speed just never got quite as fast as I wanted.

    Question of the moment: were you faster to get on target with the Glock in the KPOS or with this setup?

    • Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd says:

      Faster with the KPOS. The stock provides an additional point of reference for finding the dot, and reduces a lot of the variability experienced with handguns.

  3. Tom RKBA says:

    I find it interesting that you have/had trouble finding the dot despite having the rear sight mounted behind the optic. I had trouble when the red dot replaced the rear sight; I had no trouble with a friend’s G19/RMR when the sights were cowitnessed with the optic.

    What are you doing to get past these problems? I am about to jump onto the RMR bandwagon.

    • Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd says:

      Practice and good fundamentals will solve finding the dot problems. The best test is during stressful, fight focused training ; when I did a lot of test firing on a static range I didn’t have problems past an initial acclimation phase.

      Keeping the slide level is a big deal, so that’s my main area of concentration right now.

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