A Nurse with a Gun

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Shooting the Clark Commander

It was a gorgeous day to be at the range. The skies were blue with puffy cotton clouds, and a cool breeze whisked the sweat away. Frieda had not been back to the range since we last shot, although she had been doing a lot of dry fire practice. Click to enlargeTruthfully, I had not made it to the range as much as I should have. The heat and humidity just kept me away. Today was a new day though, and I wanted to put some copper jacketed lead through my new pistol. I brought along my Ruger MKII fishing gun, and my Clark Meltdown Colt Commander, fresh from Jim Clark's hands. Frieda had her Ruger MKII, and Little Darling was along for the ride.

First off, the Clark Commander shot well. As usual, it was more accurate than myself, and it was totally reliable. Over the course of the afternoon, I put 200 rounds through it with no failures. I ran drills of one, then two shots using a flash sight picture. The pistol pointed naturally, and came to sights without error. I rotated between the Commander and my MKII to prevent myself from getting too comfortable.

Frieda was excited to get back to the range. She had brought along a box of Blazer ammunition. I grimaced at the sight. Click to enlargeCall me a nut, but I just prefer the copper washed Federal bulk pack stuff. Frieda did not need my assistance though. She was able to load her own magazines, and when a cold range was called, she set her target out at ten yards.

Her first couple of magazines were shot low, and I had to talk to her again about the human sympathetic grip. As we coil our index finger, the remaining three fingers of the hand tend to tighten. When holding a pistol, this can make the muzzle drop. I reminded Frieda to take a firm grip on the gun with her right hand. If our fingers are already tightly grasping an object, the sympathetic grip is minimized when we use our index finger. Frieda listened, and applied my suggestion. She found herself shooting in the red again immediately.

After Frieda got a couple hundred rounds downrange, she began to have occasional stovepipe jams. I would have to clear her pistol for her, and I attributed the problem to the Blazer ammunition. Frieda with her target, Click to enlargeI was still shooting just fine with Federal. Its my belief that Blazer may have a reduced charge in some rounds, and less consistency from round to round. A pistol depends on the recoil impulse to eject the spent brass from the gun. When the recoil impulse is reduced because the ammunition is loaded lighter, the bolt doesn't move as quickly and ejection problems can occur. I have not performed my Ruger magazine modification on Frieda's mags. That could have played a role as well. Frieda persevered though, and resolved to buy Federal ammunition next time.

Frieda and Little Darling kept looking at my target and comparing their shooting with mine. This is a natural thing for anyone to do, and it is one of the reasons I do not shoot when I am teaching a novice. It is also a reason why I will work on drills that impair my accuracy when shooting with someone who has established competence and needs to push themselves a bit more. Frieda and Little Darling with my target, Click to enlargeFrieda noticed that I was working on flash sighting. She remembered me talking about it with her, and asked me why I was shooting that way.

"The person most likely to survive a gunfight unscathed is not necessarily the person who is the most accurate," I told her. "Almost invariably the person who is shot first will be the person who comes out on the short end of the stick. Shooting accurately is important. Shooting accurately enough, fast enough is more important. You can train for target shooting, or you can train to survive a lethal encounter. Proficiency at target shooting teaches you to use a gun in a certain manner. Under the stress of unexpected violence, we will revert back to the way we trained ourselves to shoot. I want to be the guy who gets shots on target first, not the guy who does it most accurately. I just need to be accurate enough."

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Blogger DouginSalcha said...

Having grown up in Florida and having spent three years assigned to Fort Benning, I am familiar with heat and humidity. Not sure I'd go shooting in the summer if I still lived there.

I have to cut back on my shooting in the winter here (gloves that keep your fingers warm at -35 or -40 are too 'bulky' to fit in most trigger wells. Glad to see Frieda is still shooting (and enjoying it).

Thanks for that,


11:47 AM  
Blogger Firehand said...

I think you're right about the Blazer ammo. I've noticed the 9mm I've shot has less recoil and hits lower on the target at distance.

This really showed up with a friend shooting a Hi Point carbine; the Blazer 9mm ball was almost 8" low at 25 yards, whereas some Monarch(brass case) ball and Gold Dot hp ammo were dead-on.

8:47 PM  

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