A Game of Inches

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posted on February 27, 2015
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From recreational plinking to the purest martial forms, few pursuits reward precision more than shooting. Many disciplines add urgency to that equation: Extended deliberation or multiple attempts are often out of the question. The price of precision when it counts, of course, is practice, and C&M Targets of Albuquerque, N.M., has one of the best ways we know of to get that practice.

C&M’s ¼-scale targets are the brainchild of USPSA/IPSC master Charlie Myers. Their genius is in the simplicity and variety of practice scenarios they permit. While shooters have long used scaled-down targets to proxy distance, C&M takes this a step further by using precisely the same materials as full-sized USPSA targets – buff/craft on one side and white on the other with scoring zones perf-cut, marked and sized to match. A dry-fire sight picture (remember: unloaded firearm and no live ammo in the same room) at five yards simulates that of a 20-yard shot.

With the addition of a few props and a can of black paint, one “Dry Fire Kit” (10 USPSA metrics and four “steel” poppers) is so versatile it can mock up 79 percent of USPSA classifier stages in a quarter the usual space. Mixed paper/steel stages of your own design up to 24 rounds are limited only by the imagination. For correct sight picture at the end of the draw stroke and post-reload, we’ve notched thousands of repetitions too. Charlie points out that they fit handily into a suitcase as well – great for tuning up the night before a big match when range access is almost certainly unavailable.

And that’s how we have used them for years.

We’ve recently acquired, however, an entirely new enthusiasm for these gems. Like many communities, pent-up demand for all-weather indoor practice facilities has finally been met to some extent: Two shiny new ones opened in a recent 60-day period in our town. As nice as these thoroughly modern facilities are, experienced shooters know there are some compromises to shooting indoors. One of the most challenging is light. It’s costly and complicated to put good light on targets posted at continuous distances across a wide expanse of lanes, and no matter what you do, the problem seems to increase with distance.

Enter the C&M targets. In this visually challenging environment, we’ve found that the crucial skill of “calling” the shot – getting the proper sight picture just as the shot is triggered (Grandmaster, National and World champ Travis Tomasie describes and demonstrates it here) – is far more difficult to learn and practice if lighting is banded like ours; better at some distances, less so at others. And where light is good, the ability to confirm point of impact may not be, especially without spending half your allotted, precious range time running targets back and forth. This simply ends with C&Ms.

Many ranges require a cardboard backer to provide protective target carrier standoff, giving you problematic brown-on-brown. Two easy fixes get back to good target contrast: Flip over to white (the no-shoot side) for contrast, or, better yet, tape a little butcher paper to the existing carrier and get back to typical contrast. Note that traditional pasters will work perfectly for target repair as well. Often, you can fit two targets on a single backer, and this allows you to practice authentic transitions as well. Don’t entirely despise those dimly lit distances either. Defensive shots are most often made in lousy light and can now be practiced in the same, with a much more exacting target.

Rifle guys/3-gunners should take note as well: Don’t think these are just for USPSA practice and the like. We use them in the rifle bay all the time. While you can’t practice dopes for drop and wind drift, the “calling” technique applies to many of your shots as well. We’d be surprised if you don’t think they help you noticeably speed up, particularly on intermediate length shots.

If you get the impression we could go on and on, you’d be right. But one last detail: If you order from Charlie, know that you’ll be dealing with one of the nicest guys in our business, as well as improving your skills. That’s an easy win-win if ever we saw one.

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