Monday, July 29, 2013

The Secret to the IDPA SO Test

IDPA is changing.  The International Defensive Pistol Association has changed and not for the better.  Accompanying this change is the requirement that current SOs test out on the new rule book.  

shooter tries his tactics at solving an IDPA problem
IDPA should be about shooting your best tactics and having fun.

IDPA has tightened the rules in an effort to eliminate cheating and level the playing field.  This has lost IDPA the sense of wonderment that came with a sport that let you try out your tactical skills and compare them to other shooters.  The comment “Good tactics!” from an experienced IDPA shooter meant more than winning first place. 

Now it’s about points, power factors, challenging the scores and rulings and legal dissection of distances, word meanings, management levels, and being a five gun master.  

There was a time when we asked each shooter if they understood the course of fire and if they didn’t, the safety officer would re-explain it.  Not anymore.  That question is not part of the official sanctified ritual each shooter must go through on the firing line.  IDPA doesn’t care if you understand the course of fire or not.  Just get it over so the next unit shooter can step up.

It makes no sense to me.  I have a person with a loaded gun who’s unsure of what I want them to do.  Don’t you think they deserve a second explanation of the CoF?  According to the test I just took it’s now about efficiency and moving things along.  Too bad about the shooter unit.

In my opinion IDPA is moving toward IPSC/USPSA type shooting.  It’s only a matter of time before we have major and minor classifications and start awarding style points for most unusual shooting stance or artistic improvisation of using cover.

Sour grapes?

No.  Maybe, but I don’t think so.  I got a 91 on my open book test.  The test is poorly constructed with difficult language and frequent use of double negatives.  Not to mention discussions of things I’ve never seen and still don’t understand how they are used.  Someone should have told the IPDA Tiger Team (Gawd, that’s just so 1980ish!) that adult education is about the transfer of information and not ranking people. 

It was a good score but I had help.  My wife took the test a few days ago and got 84.3 but she needed an 85 to pass. 

In response to this (and before her second attempt) my wife made an index using an excel spreadsheet and the IDPA rule book.  She listed topics and the page they were found on.  When finished she sorted and combined page numbers to give her (and me) a fast alphabetical guide to where to find answers.

It takes a little work.  If you want to take the IDPA test, spend some time making your own index.  You can thank me later.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Mantle of Leadership

I’ve been seeing a lot on leadership.  Search for it on Bing or Google and you get

  • Bing: 221,000,000 hits
  • Google: 444,000,000 hits

It’s a term bandied about since people formed groups.  No matter if you’re a hunter or a gatherer, someone has to be in charge - that’s the leader.  The interesting thing is watch who’s in charge and who the people check with.  They aren’t always the same. 

How do you start?

The first thing you need is a group with a goal.  And then you start looking for people, hopefully within the group, with those qualities which assist the group in reaching its goal. 

No matter what your goal originally was, one goal that arises like a phoenix from the ashes is the group’s continuation.  So what was a single goal soon splits into goals.   Each goal that is met must be swapped out for new goals.  Sometimes you have to change leaders too.

So far, David Letterman has not published a Top 10 leadership list (at least to my knowledge).  That hasn’t stopped people from making lists of attributes and trying to match them to people.  We want to assign degrees of leadership to ourselves and others.   

Sometimes we’ll attempt to wrap leadership up like it was some kind of package.  We hear about charismatic leaders, or natural leaders or God-given leadership.  I often hear about the last one used in an attempt to connect the spiritual world with this mortal coil.  It’s popular with kings and religions.

Organizations have evaluations in which they attempt to quantify the abilities of potential leaders.  A bad fitness report or yearly evaluation could sideline you.  The story at Goodyear Tire about leaders was there was a type of question they asked during the interview process.  The right answer during the pre-employment interview put you on the fast track.  Oh, you could fall off the fast track, but fail to answer the question properly and you could never climb on.  I understand it was the most tightly guarded secret in the company. 

I never believed that story but then I showed up for my interview in a polyester leisure suit.  I never got the question!

We have Leadership Councils, Leadership Leagues, and one of my favorites, the Fellowship of Leaders.  One has to wonder how they accomplish anything with so many leaders and presumably an insufficient number of followers. 

Schools and seminars teaching leadership have sprung up like mushrooms and publishers have denuded forests to print books and articles on leadership.  Leadership appears to be in great demand.

The best way to learn leadership is observe men and women you admire for leadership and copy those traits.  Sometimes the hardest part is deciding how to apply one set of behaviors to what appears to be different circumstances.  That may be the key talent of leadership.

The worst and best definition I’ve found is, “Leadership is what a leader does.”

At the CMRPC Bullseye Regional at the beginning of July, I was talking with one of the military shooters.  The polite opening question, especially if you’re had some previous conversations with competitor is, “How did you shoot today?”

I got a different answer than I expected.

“I didn’t do so well (I’m paraphrasing).  But it doesn’t matter.  I’m not a top shooter, but I’m in charge so I try to make sure the guys have what they need.  My scores don’t matter.”

Sounds like leadership to me.

Tactical content:  Pick your leaders with care.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Look What's Inside!

Most of us have wondered what’s in a round of ammunition.  We visualize a gray colored powder, maybe little translucent disks speckled with black compressed by the copper bullet in a brass cylinder with the primer on the bottom.  The chemistry is a mystery, as is much of the round.  Some have even proposed there is a lawyer attached to each bullet leaving the barrel. Maybe there is.

Some of us have manufactured bullet cross-sections to satisfy our curiosity.  I have photos of a .45 ACP cross-section I use in my training classes to illuminate the mysterious round of ammo.  Previously I looked at three different .223 bullets in cross-section to better understand them.  My good friend Marty has taken it a step further and made a nice cross-section of a .50 BMG round, complete with inert powder. 

dummy cross section of 50 cal BMG with 2 live rounds
The maroon tip is a 1986 vintage 50BMG tracer.  The other with it's gold tip is a mystery to me.  The head stamp indicates it was made in 1942 at the Twine city plant.    Ball ammo was unmarked.

It makes a nice tool to explain all the significant components of ammunition to students.

The Wired website has an artsy display of cross-sections of real ammunition.

They are the work of photographer Sabine Pearlman.

If you ever wondered what a cross-section of a Glasser safety slug looks like or wondered about the Minie ball or a hardball 9mm, you’ll find examples.  Unfortunately Sabine didn’t record any of the specifics so many of the rounds have interesting and sometimes mysterious components implying specific but unknown purposes.  

Can you find the hollow wooden bullet?  It has a unique purpose, one you might not think of.  I think there’s a shotgun shell used to start the old rotary piston aircraft engines (maybe?).

Take a few moments and enjoy the images and the skill it took to produce the samples.  The images are very nice and spend a few seconds reflecting on human ingenuity.  Each of these rounds was designed to solve a specific problem.  One has to wonder what they were.