RANGE: Friday, Sept 18

This day marked my second range session since completing the holster draw class. I would be shooting my M&P Shield 9mm, drawing from a Blade Tech IWB holster. I planned to shoot 30 rounds of Sig Elite Performance FMJ left over from my previous session as well as 36 of the 50 rounds of Remington Target FMJ that I purchased at check-in for a total of 66 rounds. All bullets weighed in at 115 gr. I hadn’t cleaned my pistol since last week’s session but I did lube it prior to dry firing at the target downrange. I always practice sight acquisition & dry firing before I fire my first live round at every range session. My pistol tends to run more reliably when it’s a little dirty; I haven’t decided yet whether or not this is good or bad.

This is a view of my pistol & the target set at 10 yds, which is a typical practice distance for a self defense pistol.
The results from my first live magazine of the day from a distance of 7 yds.

START TIME, 6:02PM–MAG#1: I began the live fire portion of the session the way I always do; no drawing from the holster, no rapid fire sequences. I used the flush 7 round mag. I was satisfied but not thrilled with the results. The group could have been tighter but it was adequate; and my sight picture was solid as I essentially left a pattern of a vertical line. I moved on to 10 yds with my (mag#2) extended 8 round magazine & produced satisfactory results (no picture provided).

Results from mag#3: The purple snow flake is much smaller than the blue one targeted on my first magazine. I essentially shot at a palm-sized target from 10 yds, scoring 3 direct hits & 2 near misses.

Mag#2: Mag#2 results left much to be desired. I was low & to the left on 1/2 of my 8 shots with one outlier landing way left. Angered, I reloaded the same extended mag for a do-over, aiming this time for the even smaller target at the top right corner of the rectangle: the purple snow flake! I even double tapped on I believe my last 4 rounds for good measure. The results (pictured above) were much better so I felt confident about moving the target out to 15 yds from mag#4.

Mag#4: I at least want to know that I can hit a target out to real world, less than perfect, crucial self-defense ranges. My ability to hit a plate-sized target at least 1/2 the time at 15 yds out is a must-do have any handgun that I will depend on for defense. I aimed for a clean snow flake, the light blue one on the bottom right corner. Satisfied with the results (pictured below) I wanted to assess my ability out to 20 yds; after which time, I would move on to the holster draw portion of the day’s practice.

Mag#5/Hail Mary: To save bullets for my holster draw practice, I only loaded the extended mag to 4 rounds. Bear in mind that this light blue snow flake (#19) is MINISCULE! Landing any of my 4 rounds in the vicinity of said snow flake while simultaneously avoiding any horrible miss would constitute a success. I passed (see below).

From 20 yds away, I aimed for the small, light blue, “19” snow flake at the bottom right. My four shots all landed in that vicinity with only one outlier to the left.

HOLSTER DRAW/ STAGING THE DRAW STROKE–6:16PM: Everything I covered so far took less than 15 minutes. I spent the next 8 minutes practicing the draw stroke, breaking it down into 3 major stages. At first I focus just on gripping the pistol firmly in the holster, without even drawing it. I later progress to pulling the weapon out, meeting both hands on the grip around chest area, then punching out to a shooting position while quickly acquiring good sight picture. I even dry fired once or twice towards the end of the 8 minutes. Well, once you’ve made your way up to the high dive at the pool, you have to jump some time. I was ready for live fire.

LIVE FIRE HOLSTER PRACTICE, 6:24PM–MAG#6: On my last 4 shots from mag#5, the ones from 20 yds out, I broke into my 2nd box of ammo–Remington Target FMJ. I actually had one flush mag filled with my last 7 rounds of Sig Elite Performance. I choose not to use the flush mag from distance because the extended mag of 8 would give me a better grip to help precision. Moreover, I like drawing from the holster with the flush mag because I am more likely to carry the pistol with the flush mag to enhance concealment. No big deal to start out; 5 yds out, no rapid fire. My focus was on safely & consistently drawing the weapon up to a shooting position, firing a shot, then re-holstering. The draw felt good all the way through the trigger pull. I was happy with the results except for one outlier. I think it was towards the end when I got greedy & double tapped. (See picture below.)

MAG#7: Still using the flush mag, I moved the target back to 7 yds. To maximize my holster draw/re-holster opportunities, I promised to outlaw double taps. From this point forward, I chose to load each mag to only 5 rounds.

From my notes (I’m writing this journal entry 2 days after the fact), it appears as if I fired 2 more mags loaded to 5 rounds. If memory serves, it believe I fired a 3rd mag with a total of 10 total mags used. On my last two, I backed the target out to 10 yds & drew from the holster to engage the target. I even captured video of my last or 2nd to last mag; my notes indicate the target was set to 10 yds.

FINAL THOUGHTS: I was pleased with the progress of my holster draw/re-holster technique. Oddly, it seems easier when I’m live firing then it does when I’m practicing with an empty pistol. The less I think about it, the smoother the operation seems to go. I felt vastly improved from the previous week, when I would complete a decent draw stroke but then pause to acquire target before I could squeeze off a shot. My practice of drawing the weapon then acquiring sight picture without taking the shot earlier seemed to help. The only thing that didn’t show vast improvement was my accuracy–which was adequate for self defense but nothing that would wow anyone. I want to “wow” everyone. In my defense, my groups with the 9 have been extremely tight both this week & last when not drawing from the holster. In addition, I had the target out out to 7 & even 10 yds for the majority of my holster draw practice & the group still looked a bit tighter than last week’s, when the target was only set to 5 & 7 yds. All in all, the day was a success. (66 shots fired, all fmj, all 115 grain: 30 Sig Elite Performance + 36 Remington Target.)

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