Accuracy: 1911 vs. XDS in 9mm

I took a trip to the range to practice shooting pairs: two shots at the same target with the focus on managing the recoil such that I could get the second shot off quickly. I focused on grip and trigger control. I shot about 50 rounds with my 1911 then decided to get in some practice with my XDS. I shot 26 rounds and called it quits. Here are the results:

Target Comparison


The shots from the 1911 are, for the most part, in the 6 inch circles. The shots from the XDS are significantly closer to the orange centers.

It doesn’t make much sense because:

  • the 1911 has a longer site radius (5 inch barrel vs a 3.3 inch barrel)
  • the 1911 has a lighter trigger

The trigger on the XDS is much heavier. It was fighting it a bit and honestly stopped at 26 rounds because my trigger finger was so fatigued I didn’t feel that additional shooting would do more than burn ammo.

Clearly I’m accurate with the XDS. As a friend said when I showed him the targets, “That gun just fits you.” So I’ve opted to get a trigger job. Yes! My very first trigger job. I’m pretty excited.

I dropped it off with my gunsmith and I’m scheduled to pick it up Friday. Stay tuned for details. I have plans to shoot this gun in a bug match in the near future.



IDPA at The Range in Oxford: 11/9/2014

Stage 6: Shooting Seated at The Range in Oxford

David shooting Stage 6 at The Range in Oxford. Note the wooden blocks restricting movement on the bench.

My friend David and I drove up to Oxford, NC to shoot in last Sunday’s IDPA match at The Range.. The equipment constraints and procedure rules are more restrictive than the Wake County Action Pistol Matches, but shooting an outdoor match brings different opportunities for learning — especially a match in Oxford.

The overall summary was:

  • 6 stages
  • under 90 rounds
  • match briefing at 12:45pm
  • finished our last stage around 3:45pm
  • no malfunctions with my 1911!

All IDPA matches involve shooting and moving. At The Range in Oxford they can also involve shooting from a vehicle: in this case a very abused Toyota 4Runner.

The 4Runner Stage. Driver side targets highlighted in red,

The 4Runner Stage. Driver side targets highlighted in red,

Stage 5 featured the 4Runner. The scenario was basically: Start with your gun in the passenger seat of the vehicle. Shoot 6 targets near to far. Each target gets 2 shots. To achieve that, you needed to shoot two targets out the passenger window, two out the driver window, a 3rd target out the passenger window and back to the driver’s window for the final target.

As I sat in the 4Runner I realized a big person used to drive this vehicle in it’s better days because I sunk way down into that seat. From that position, the first target I needed to shoot was out of site on the passenger side toward the rear of the vehicle.

I thought I had a plan but when the buzzer when off, I picked up the gun with my strong hand and was able to see the first target. It was going to take some effort to slide forward and twist my entire body to get both hands on the gun, and the target was right there. I thought “reach out and touch it” and just lined up the shot with my strong hand and squeezed the trigger. I shot the 2nd target the same way then began to use both hands. For the first time ever I noticed a low shot and took a make up shot immediately.

I shoot slow. I always place close to last in every match. But I have fun shooting and in the this case had zero down. I was so happy I had a huge grin the rest of the day.

I also want to mention a few other lessons learned / observations:

– Stage 6 (see photo at the top) required the shooter to stay within the wooden blocks on the bench while shooting. In that case being small was an advantage. I had more wiggle room to line up my shots. I was down zero on that stage as well. I am thrilled with small victories like that!

– The last stage we shot, Stage 3, had rectangular steel plates partially blocking some of the targets. I’d never seen that before so I asked if they were non-threats. I was told they were “round eaters”. It was a limited vickers stage so if your shot hit the steel, it wasn’t going to hit the target. The ping of hitting steel also telegraphs your mistake to the entire squad. Oh joy… I managed to avoid all the steel and did a little victory dance in my head. Especially since the first 6 shots were weak hand only and the next 6 were strong hand only. The final 6 shots were head shots with both hands on the gun. I did manage to miss one head. Bummer.

– Finally, I got called for moving while reloading across an opening in cover. The RSO told me he was going to have to assess the penalty and my response was, “I was really moving while reloading? Go me! I had no idea I could do that. I’m happy to take the penalty.” He grinned and said “And it was a tactical reload too.”  This is progress!

I checked the scores. I came in 3rd to last. As I said, I’m slow. Also, I admit that I really don’t practice much. I’ve had to think about why I shoot these matches and for now there are several reasons and none of them have anything to do with winning.

  • Handle my gun safely on a regular basis
  • Challenge myself with scenarios that require planning, moving and shooting
  • Have fun!!! And I certainly achieved that!




Volunteering at WOT & Watch that trigger!

9mm Pistol Plinking rangeI volunteered for another WOT (NRA Women on Target) event last Sunday. The write up on my first experience at Sir Walter Gun Club is here. For the first time I felt confident about coaching non-shooters and that made a big difference. We had many more volunteers than last April so the instructors switched off quite a bit. No one had to teach back-to-back-to-back students and we all spent time instructing.

Last April I listened to a seasoned instructor coach about 25 students in a row. He was so consistent in how he walked the women shooters through the process that I taped him coaching a student. I transcribed the recording (the audio quality was poor), used that as a script, then recorded my own version. The night before this event I listened through the recording a few times. It worked well for me. The coach I emulated advocates the bare minimum to get a shooter started so she can focus on 2-3 things and no more. We allocated two 9 round magazines per student. They started with 8 steel targets that (were supposed to) drop when hit. Then we moved them up a bit closer, to the smaller table, and let them shoot a paper target. It’s always fun to send them home with visual reminders of their success.

Every one of my ladies dropped at least one steel target and got at least one shot on the paper target.

The weather was great! No freezing like in April. But I was prepared this time.

Of note:

  • One lady insisted the gun was malfunctioning after trying to press the trigger and not getting a bang. It looked fine to me and I asked her to try again. She did. No bang. She asked me to try shooting it… so I did. And I hit the bullseye circle on the target. When you are supposed to be the expert, it is affirming to see successful skills in action. She tried again and the gun did go bang. I think her finger was just fatigued from shooting the steel.
  • I saw an out-of-battery malfunction in several cases. It’s a matter of poor technique when racking the slide and easy to correct: just tap the back of the slide forward.
  • I realized that some ladies have a great attitude and are thrilled with any positive experience, while others will never be satisfied with their performance. Guess who had a better day?
We know how to have fun at WOT!

We know how to have fun at WOT events!

And finally, the biggest lesson for me was after the students left. The instructors took a run at the steel targets. Someone volunteered her Glock and we all had a go. The trigger was lighter than I was used to and, although I managed to hit each steel plate, the gun went off before I intended. I started taking up the slack in the trigger as I lined up my shot and I was used to a different trigger. My bad.

The gun was pointed down range and I hit my target but I realized I needed to slow down and pay more attention when the equipment is unfamiliar. I have learned to warn friends that the trigger is light when I hand them my 1911 to shoot. I need to take my own advice and be more cautious with unfamiliar equipment.

If you know a women interested in spending a day trying at least 5 different shooting sports, the local WOT events are a fabulous opportunity. At Sir Walter Gun Club they offer two types of pistol, two types of rifle and skeet for the ladies during a WOT event. The events run locally in March/April and October/November.




October Wake County Action Pistol Match / Ladies Handgun League Action Pistol

Sadie - Bay 2

Sadie – Bay 2

I went back in October to shoot another Wake County Action Pistol Match on 10/29. We got a late start due to conflicting events but still shot 4 stages. Total round count: 55. Special highlights: shooting from under a barrier and one stage shot strong hand only. Two of the stages were “run & gun” set ups requiring movement and two stages were shot from a stationary position. At this point the Monday matches fill up fast but the Wednesday matches fill slower – and may be easier to get into.

A past shooting partner came out for his first Action Pistol Match and I did my best to be a good tour guide and answer all the questions I asked at my first match.

He & I have shot IPDA in the past so mostly it was “yes you have that restriction in IDPA, no you don’t have that restriction at this match”. My biggest “victory” at this match was no malfunctions with my 1911. I was thrilled about that.

When you shoot a match, you get one run through of the stage. The match director was generous enough to set up a stage in Bay 1 this morning at 9am for the Ladies Handgun League. I couldn’t pass up the chance to run through the stage a few more times. I lucked out and got 3 attempts. Each time through I focused on slightly different things:

  • Are you absolutely sure your finger is OFF the trigger when you are moving?
  • In an attempt to work on recoil control, I put 3 shots in most of the targets instead of just the required 2 shots.
  • I never remember to count my shots – I always ended up reloading after I pull the trigger and get no bang – something to focus on in the future.

This is FUN! Every lady that gave it a try was smiling after her attempt. It looks intimidating. I promise that’s only before your first time through. The typical reaction is “I want to do that again!”

Finally, I wanted to mention the good feedback you can get from video. My friend and I swapped off filming each other last Wednesday night and I got to rerun the stages from video and review my shooting. What feels really fast in the moment sure looks slow in review. I’m not a fast shooter and definitely not competitive, but if you want to see what shooting a stage looks like, I’m posting 3 of the stages below.

If you are local, want to shoot the match and have questions, the match directors do a great job of responding. If you want to talk to a participant, I’m also happy to answer questions to the best of my ability.

Here’s the video:

Bay 1: turn right, shoot 3, transition to the right, shoot 2, move forward and right, shoot  2 high and 2 low – 18 rounds

Bay 2: two targets each side of barricade, three paper plates (stand in for steel plates) in the middle – shoot at least one under the barricade. I shot 3 each side and a single under – but I had misses – 11 rounds

Bay 4: Two stages.

Stage 1: (No Video) Five targets, two each side and a swinger in the middle. All strong hand. Start with the gun on the table, pull the cord to trip the swinger then pick up the gun with one hand. 10 rounds.

Stage 2: 4 targets all partially covered. Two rounds in each, reload, two more in each. 16 rounds.