Springfield Tactical Shooters

USPSA Club IL10 - Area 5

Serving Sangamon County and the surrounding Counties within Central Illinois


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SAFETY TOPIC #6: YOUR GUN, GEAR & ACCESSORIES

You can get started with very little equipment: a safe gun and holster, two ammo carriers, a belt, and several hundred rounds of ammunition. Frequently you can make arrangements to borrow equipment.

Don’t rush out to spend. You’ll save money and avoid mistakes by asking questions before you spend. USPSA offers numerous divisions that use very different sorts of handguns. The money and time you save through study is more than worth the effort.

What do the experienced shooters use? Ask them about their guns and gear; they’re happy to help new shooters. Learn from their experiences. Most veteran shooters have gone through a pile of holsters and gear before finding the right ones. Get a number of opinions and ask before you do any spending. When you are ready to spend, check the advertisers in Front Sight magazine for good buys. Be sure to let them know where you saw their ad.

Wear adequate clothing. Practical shooting is an outdoor sport practiced in all weather. In pouring rain or six inches of snow, the match goes on. Dress to stand around, as well as shoot. Pants should allow you to bend and stretch. Your shirt should fit tightly so loose fabric doesn’t foul your draw. Wear comfortable shoes that provide good traction, allow you run, and allow you to start and stop quickly.

Your gun must be serviceable and safe, not fancy, trick or custom. Those are all options. Start with a gun you selected for personal protection. A few matches with it will tell you a lot. It needs to make "minor" caliber (.38/9mm) to compete for place and prize -- more on that in a minute.

Stop holster wiggle; use a gun belt. By the end of the first match you know what holster wiggle feels like. Mounted on a thin dress belt, the holster clings to the gun as you draw. A thick belt mated to a good holster is the solution.

The practical shooting holster. It’s a marvelous safety device. It’s the result of thousands of man-hours of actual practical shooting competition—a relentless test of guns and gear. It must cover the trigger guard and hold the gun securely as you climb and jump, yet release the gun easily when you draw.

Eye and ear protection is essential. Protect yourself against flying objects and noise. Pretend that the guy next to you has double-charged a round and buy good gear.

Ammunition carriers. There are many different designs for magazine and speed loader carriers. Most work. Some are more elegant than others. In our sport, all equipment must be worn on the belt.

Spare magazines and speed loaders. You can start with two, but most shooters seem to wear four or more.

Brass bag. A personal sack for spent brass is handy. One of the other shooters will be detailed to pick up brass after you shoot. Likewise, you should be prepared to pick brass and help tape targets when it’s your turn.

Gun case. Protect your gun by transporting it in a case. Check and comply with your local laws regarding transporting guns. Generally, if the gun and ammo are locked in your trunk and not accessible, there should be no trouble, but it’s upto you to check.

Accessories tote bag. It’s a place to store and carry all those bits of equipment and ammunition. The tote bag is like a purse. Contents of one bag: spray cleaner, sight black, ear muffs and plugs, pens, brass bag, spare magazines, score cards, membership/classification card, scoring overlays, rule book, wood dowel for squib loads (to punch a bullet out of a barrel—ONLY in a designated safety area, of course), knee and elbow pads, rain jacket, extra batteries, thermos and lunch.

Reloading equipment. A modern progressive loader is recommended. Virtually all practical shooters reload to cut ammunition costs and tune their load to their gun. However, reloading, like shooting, is a complex business. Educate yourself about reloading, then research your needs carefully before you buy. When shooters make mistakes on the reloading bench, those mistakes can have serious consequences. Normally poor ammunition simply causes malfunctions, but double charges (a double-dose of gunpowder) or squib loads (no powder at all) can be dangerous. Double charges give no warning, so make sure you wear good eye protection on the range. Squib loads, however, make a distinct sound. The primed case in a squib load makes a distinct “pop” instead of “BANG” when fired, and leaves the bullet stuck in the barrel. DON’T FIRE THE NEXT ROUND! If the gun goes “pop” you STOP!

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