Tactical or Practical?

| July 25, 2012

Jonn asked that we post!

In the wake of the Aurora shootings I’ve been re-appraising my own skill set. Toss in TSO’s trip down HIS memory lane and I realized there was room for some geezer ruminations here. And a question or three.

First let me offer some background if I might. Been shooting since I was a very young teen, and used to do some hunting. First formal training was in The Boy Scouts (I think) and involved an M1 Garand chambered for .22 LR.

Later on in the Navy I received formal training on what one would expect in the mid to late ’60s – .45, M1, M14, M16, MA Deuce, and an air cooled 30 cal MG (forget the name). Training was cursory… field strip, clean, and target shooting to “qualify”. Fired or crewed once or twice in real life situations ie small craft warnings, etc. And, for instance, standing watch in Da Nang harbor, or the like, with a loaded M1 and and/or a loaded .45. Some Navy types will be going Huh? Always wound up in the Weapons Division. Long story, but for another time. Got pictures!

To be accurate I also was gun captain on a 5 inch mount, AND carried a chromed 03 with a chromed bayonet (GLakes Drill Team).

Forward in time to now. I have firearms, and a range on site. I can’t say I practice religiously (whatever that means), but I can plink with the best, if not as loud. Jonn likes hand cannons.

Now for the questions… assuming you are NOT currently serving?

How often do YOU practice? Do you wear ear/eye protection always? Have you compared your competency with or without such? I suspect it might matter? Indeed, that first flinch might be important.

Lastly… I’m considering a visit to PFT. Might be a sort of pipe dream, but is it practical for a geezer who plinks regular, AND doesn’t get out much?


Category: Geezer Alert!, Gun Grabbing Fascists, Guns

Comments (27)

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  1. Old Trooper says:

    I try to get out once a month, minimum. Sometimes I feel like a nut (bring the whole fricken armory to scare off small nations) and sometimes I don’t (bring a pistol, rifle, and shotgun).

    As with motorcycle refresher courses; it’s never a bad idea to go shake off the rust and get some updated training, geezer or not.

  2. ROS says:

    I fire my rifle (Remington 700 in 7 mag) about every other weekend, sometimes more frequently and sometimes less. The pistols (a .45 ACP and a Sig P226 chambered in .40S&W) are taken to the range once a month, with target time at home in between. My kids have their own long guns ranging from the youngest’s chipmunk to the oldest’s 30-06, so they shoot with me. My daughter enjoys archery and regularly practices her bow proficiency as well.

    That said, eye-pro and ear-pro are non-negotiable since I’m already deaf in one ear. The kids also don’t have a choice. In order to encourage the eye-pro usage, I purchased for the 2 oldest Wiley-X ballistic sunglasses with the interchangeable lenses so they can wear them every day and not have an excuse to ever be without eye-pro.

  3. ROS #2: Fact is though, if you carry it’s likely your first test will be without niceties. I AM talking handguns concerning the “flinch” factor.

    BTW, made living as a recording engineer, and am still active on occasion. Other than the ringing the experts tell me I have great ears for my age. Not something I take lightly.

  4. ROS says:

    @Ponzarelli- I always carry, my kids aren’t old enough I try to set the example when they’re shooting. I’ve an estimated 30% hearing in my right ear due to blunt trauma, so I just don’t want to take any chances of hearing loss with them since it sucks.

  5. PintoNag says:

    I have a 1911 .45.

    I used to shoot a lot, but haven’t been to the range in over a year.

    I used to shoot both with and without hearing protection, but don’t do that anymore because of hearing loss (not shooting related). I find that I don’t flinch once I am used to the report.

    My dream was always to go to Thunder Ranch.

  6. OWB says:

    Used to practice more than now. Kinda expect it’s like riding a bike except easier. But always use eye and ear protection. Yeah, there is a difference, but I’ve also heard plenty without ear protection, so no surprises there.

  7. SGTKane says:

    I’m a reservist, and while I shoot to qual once a year with my unit that is as far as the unit shooting goes.

    I’m also a CCW holder (1911, Glock 23 in .40 and 9mm) and I shoot at least once a month with my pistol. I try and get out twice a month, once focused on pistol and once pistol and AR, but most of the time that just doesn’t happen. I’ve found (that for me anyway) my pistol skills are far more perishable than my rifle skills and since I carry a pistol every day…

    I also try and take a class/course at least once a year, to stay current.

    I also use ear pro because hearing loss is forever, and come the zombie apocalypse, I’m going to need every advantage I can get.

  8. UpNorth says:

    I get out once a month, at least. I shoot a Springfield Armory .45 V10 Ultra Compact , and a S&W mod 4044, in .40. I carry either, depending on the season.
    I always use ear pro, as the others have said, hearing loss and I don’t want anymore. I wear glasses, plastic lenses, so that takes care of the eye pro.

  9. MG says:

    3-4 times a week with various things. I wear ears but no eye protection. My 2 daughters(12 and almost 14) shoot at least once a week. They wear ears and shooting glasses.

    I have carried for more than 20 years and have hunted for close to 50.

    Semper Fi

  10. swamper says:

    I have never served, but I do carry.

    I get to the range once a week with the handgun (Hk P30 LEM in 9mm). I want to get more time on the rifle (AR-15). It’s difficult to find a range to do the drills I would like to do though.

    Eye and ear pro are always used. Even though it doesn’t add much, I double up on the indoor range (plugs and muffs).

    I always plan to attend two classes in the span of a year that cover handgun or rifle. Was at a class in April done by Viking Tactics. Mr. Lamb worked out asses off!

  11. Spade says:

    I have a lot of guns. More since my father in law passed.

    Sadly, lack of good ranges and finances mean I haven’t fired a gun in over a year. 🙁

    I wear glasses, and specifically ask for lenses that will work as safety glasses. Although I had to replace my last pair a PS90 tossed brass into my glasses (bounced off the table into my eye, lucky). Always wear ear protection. I went without them once while shooting an AR-180 and three rounds permanently hurt the hearing in my left ear.

    When the FIL died, we did get two 10/22s that I’m going to put AR-15 style sights on for practice.

    American Rifleman did give an award to a home laser thing that works with your own pistol/rifle. I’m probably going to get that to practice at home with.

  12. uncivilized says:

    Mr. Uncivilized and I try to get to the range monthly; sometimes, like now, the weather and our work schedule make it next to impossible to go as often as we’d like. Especially since Mr. Uncivilized tends to bring every freakin’ weapon he owns. I’m happy with my .380, my AR or my AK, and maybe my Ruger .22 just for some fun. Ear and eye protection? Oh, my, yes. We have glove boxes full of ear plugs in both of our vehicles, as well as our safety glasses from work. Nope, haven’t measured accuracy with vs. without personal protection at the range, but we’ve both fired shotguns and larger caliber rifles in the woods (no hearing protection). I tend to flinch more at the perceived recoil than at the sound. As for PFT, I think it sounds like a great idea. Might even prompt you to get out more 🙂

  13. RangerX says:

    I shoot handguns at least once a week, long guns once a month or so. Always with eye & ear protection, with the exception of when I shoot precision, through glass. Eye-pro gets in the way then.

    The noise/flinch factor is a non-issue for me. I can’t count how many live fire exercises I did wearing ear-pro. When we did go “downrange” ear-pro was considered a liability. Was exposed to a LOT of ordnance without ear-pro and flinch was never a problem.

    I can tell you this. Shooting with eye-pro in lovely Georgia heat and humidity, fogging is an issue. To me, that can mess with my concentration worse than any loud bang can.

    Bottom line, it comes down to the individual.

  14. Biermann says:

    Beretta 92FS, Henry Repeating Arms .22 Octagon scoped, and a Remmington 870. Ear (can’t afford to lose more hearing) and eye (ESS Ice with inserts). Hit the indoor range at least twice a month. No CCW in Illinois, so that leaves carrying everyday.

  15. SJ says:

    I need to get my act together even though I am a bad ass Airborne soldier…but that was 40 pounds and several decades ago. I’m now a Heavy Drop geezer.
    Been a year since on the range. Unsat. But (as it says in the UCMJ, in matters of extenuation and mitigation), I rarely carry.
    I did make a HUGE mistake recently. I took my bride (of several decades) out in the backyard to fire my Judge. Dumb-ass mistake: forgot hearing pro. Can’t imagine firing that mother inside a car.

  16. Anonymous says:

    I have never served in any capasity, but i was a victim of a mugging that involved me getting roughed up a bit. I am at the range 2x a week, but a typical range can’t really provided much more than marksmanship practice and that’s not enough in many real life self defense situations. The ability to hit what your aiming at is important, but having the ability to move and think, those are just as important.

    My husband is a retired Marine, so he doesn’t train as much, but I think having served in combat(not specials forces or infantry) he already can think and act under high stress situations.

  17. WOTN says:


    I STRONGLY recommend the use of eye and ear pro, most importantly ear pro. Even one time on the range without ear pro can cause permanent damage. You won’t likely have ear pro on when you are in a real situation, but you do want every ounce of hearing you can maintain. For the range (if you shoot often) I can recommend Peltor’s with built in microphones. You’ll be able to hear as well as not having them (better for me) and protect your ears (against more damage for me) for the battle.

    Not all eye pro is equal. Those safety glasses from the factory are not the same as the “ballistic eyewear” at the range, which aren’t the military grade ballistic eyepro authorized to the military. But you’re more likely to be in need of eye pro in real life (when someone is putting rounds in your direction) than on the range(when you are the one sending rounds away from you with presumbably safe equipment). A good pair of Oakly M-Frames (or similar quality, military grade, comfortable eye pro) is something you are more likely to be wearing every day, and will protect your eyes far better when you need them.

    I’m not familiar with the particular company you linked to, but I did watch the video and saw things that would be useful for everyone that carries and other things that are more specialized, ie. for SWAT/others.

    Tactical/Practical means you should be practicing as closely to real life as possible, including the clothes you would be wearing on a daily basis, in situations you would face everyday, with the gear you would normally have on you. If you live in a NYC apartment, you aren’t likely to have a realistic need to practice using a chest rig, body armor, and M4, using a drop leg holster and secondary weapon as a M1911. If you wear a suit everyday and have a CCP, you should be practicing with YOUR concealed carry holster under a suit coat, and the handgun you carry everyday.

    “Beware the man who owns only one gun. He probably knows how to use it.”

    In particular situations, a person has good reason to maintain top proficiency in a particular long gun, shotgun, and handgun. More often, it it a particular gun. Yeah, it’s fun to have a bunch and fun to shoot them all, but you should concentrate on becoming an expert in ONE, the one you carry, or will be using in an emergency.

    Zero, you probably already know which one that is, and probably already know how to put bullets on target, but have you practiced getting it from its normal resting place (holster/bedstand/etc.) to target and getting rounds on target? That’s tactical/practical, and yes, it is very practical.

    “You can’t miss fast enough.” and if the weapon malfunctions/runs out of rounds in a gunfight “You have the rest of your life to get it back on target in working condition.”

    “When life and death is measured in seconds, the police are only minutes away.”

    It looks like they charge under $200/student/class, and that is very reasonable to learn the skills to be able to win the gunfight you hope to never have, assuming it is with equipment you’ll have IF that day ever comes that you need the skills.

  18. Jack says:

    I carry firearms for a living, and I train pretty regularly on my own, and about four times a year is work related firearms training.

    I make sure to include low/no light training, as well as practicing my drawstroke (both concealed and not) from seated positions. I also train at bad breath range out to 100 meters with my pistol, but the majority of my training takes place between the 3 and the 25 yard lines.

    I always always always wear ballistic eye pro and hearing protection. To do otherwise is simply stupid. You might be able to train away the “flinch factor” by going without ear pro, but you will also train away the “I can hear factor” forever. Trust me on this, when it is for real, the gunshots will be soft little pops.

  19. SSG Medzyk says:

    M1919 or M1918 BAR. But you said Machine gun, and not rifle, so .30-’06 M1919 it is.

    Sunday is range day for me, and often Monday when I play hooky, and Friday gets used a lot too.

  20. WOTN says:

    Let me add the “fun” side of it. After a week or two on the range with those that teach practical/tactical, you’ll have learned drills that you can implement on your on site range, that will make your shooting funmeter peg past the place you though was max, and have practical value.

    And I’ll throw in a little bragging: after a few hours teaching the basics of tactical/practical to an old Army buddy (inexperienced in pistol shooting), he traveled home (1000 miles) and beat his old SEAL buddy on the range, in both target and tactical shooting.

  21. NHSparky says:

    Have not been to the range in over a year. Doom on me, as the phrase goes. No excuse that I was damn near born with a gun in my hand, owning my first lever action .22 when I was all of 9. To this day I still know BRASS…and I wasn’t ever trained by Marines.

    But my .45 is still handgun of choice. Easy to use, easy to maintain, damn near universal parts, and the day we run out of ball ammo is the day we all start picking up sticks and clubs.

  22. Pathfinder says:

    When I lived in Phoenix I would go out with my dad and a couple buddies once every other month. My old man has a nice big truck so we can load up dulling trees, iron maidens, target stands, and barricades we built. He would like to take his collection out and shoot a little bit of everything. Me on the other hand I was happy with my AR-15, Glock 22, and chest rack. I would work on what I knew best which was reflexive fire, different shooting positions, bounding, and transition drills.Of course ear pro, eye pro, and gloves were a must.
    When I was in Afghanistan we would go out behind camp Wright and shoot every Friday. We did stress shoots, Battle Drill 1A, barricade shooting, buddy team bounding etc.
    Since then I’ve been a lazy shitbird. Only time I go shoot is when I drive down to Phoenix from Vegas when I visit family which is every few months

  23. Jacobite says:

    When I was shooting for competition I was shooting 3-4 times a week, it was necessary to build the muscle memory and reduce nerves on ‘game day’.

    After I dropped out of the state shooting program I was shooting every weekend to every other weekend.

    After splitting with my wife the shooting tapered off to about once a month, which is where it currently stands.

    The biggest obstacle to my shooting these days is honestly money. I can’t afford to replace the weapons I had to sell to finance my split, and I can’t afford a consistent supply of ammo to feed what I still own.

    Things will get better………

  24. Bubblehead Ray says:

    If I am wearing clothing outside my house (unless I’m at work where it is forbidden) there is something on my body that goes bang.

    I ususally carry a Sig 220 .45 in an IWB holster on my right side, with a double mag holder on my left. When it gets really hot, and I have to go smaller, I have a S&W Model 60 with Crimson Trace grips, either in a pocket holster or IWB, and a plastic carry box that holds 12 rounds in my back pocket.

    That said, I have recently found myself in Jacobite’s position and have a hard time keeping those (mostly the .45) fed enought for meaningful practice. What I’ve done is, I purchased a Browning Buckmark .22 that I use to keep my eye sharp and I try to go shooting at least monthly, (but have to admit that I’ve been remiss this summer.) I ALWAYS wear eyes and ears. My ears are bad enough between the fish farts and the motorcycle.

  25. Al T. says:

    “Do you wear ear/eye protection always? Have you compared your competency with or without such?”

    As others have mentioned, if you are involved in a shooting, auditory exclusion is the norm, not the exception. The late, great Jim Cirillo recalled that in his first gunfight (multiple bad guys in a shop) he was puzzled by the lack of sound and the sudden appearance of his .38 in his field of view. His exact words were “who the heck is shooting my gun?”. He won and killed a couple of bad guys, the first of many wins.

    On a personal note, I’ve killed critters with everything from a .22LR to a 9mm to a .375 H&H Magnum with out ear pro. Adrenaline is a powerful drug as my ears test out very well even though I’m in my 5th decade.

    Wear your eyes and ears.

  26. Al T. says:

    Oh, forgot. Pat Goodale is very much a good to go instructor. I’d encourage you to go. 🙂