2019: Looking Back

looking back

Once again this year, separate from my annual “Pay to Play” article, this is what has become another tradition:  looking back at my year.  What goals did I achieve or fail to achieve?  What surprises came up along the way?

Formal Training

As I predicted in my 2019 Training Goals article, I could not maintain the pace of taking so many classes this year.  However, I did end up participating in 6 training events (5 classes plus the Rangemaster Tactical Conference).  Also, as predicted, I took more classes that had me “thinking with a gun in my hand”, with the Practically Tactical Listener Shoothouse class and VCQB with Centrifuge Training being the classes in which I did this the most.  I took a total of 92 hours of training in 2019 (compared with 124 in 2018).  It would be hard for me to pick any one particular class as a highlight this year; I felt that I got my money’s worth (and then some!) from all of them.

One disappointment this year was my need to drop out of the Rangemaster Advanced Instructor class that I had signed up for months in advance.  About a month before the class was to take place, my wife was diagnosed with what can only be described as an illness she will be dealing with for the rest of her life.  As we were just starting to deal with it, taking a full weekend away from the family just did not seem to be the right move.  At this point I have no specific plans to become a firearms instructor, so it really is not that big of a deal to have missed it.  The toughest part was seeing lots of photos and comments on social media sites from the class; a lot of people I knew were in that class, and it would have been great to have been a part of it all.

Competition

My goal this year was to shoot in at least 7 matches.  Unfortunately, I only managed to shoot in 4.  It seemed like many matches took place on the same weekends as classes I took, or when traveling with family, etc.  The local carbine match in which I had participated in 2018 was not held again in 2019.  Besides my wife’s health issues, my father suffered a heart attack in June and then was recovering all summer; I spent many weekends with him rather than shooting.  Unfortunately, he passed away in September.

Having said all of that, my performance in matches this year was the best it has been, finishing quite high in my most recent two matches (3rd out of 25 in the last, 4th out of 39 in the match before that).  I also maintained my Expert rating in several IDPA divisions.

Informal Practice

I renewed my membership at my local range and made it a point to get there at least once every two weeks, and a few times I went multiple times in a single week.  I shot a lot more on my own this year either at this range or at the monthly meetings of the training group of which I am a member.  I fired 7,017 rounds in 2019.  Of those rounds fired, 1,950 were shot in classes or in matches, which means I fired 5,067 rounds on my own.  Last year, I fired 3,149 on my own, so that is nearly 2,000 more rounds I fired on my own this year.  With so much training in my past, it has reached the point where I can self-diagnose MOST of my issues.  So I have been enjoying more alone time at the range and in my training group and would rather spend more of my in-class time learning new things, tactics, etc.

The training group in which I participate continued to be a useful resource.  This has primarily been for practice, but also to bounce ideas off of others, shoot firearms I would not otherwise try, etc.  Highlights for me were shooting the B&T APC9K, the U.S. Army’s new “sub-compact weapon”.  I cannot divulge the circumstances under which I got to shoot it, but it was cool.  I also got to try the Glock 43x, a Beretta 71 .22lr, various suppressed ARs, and a Glock 19 with an Aimpoint ACRO mounted.  This group has also given me access to information that I would love to share, but there is a “Vegas rule” applied, and if I blurted everything out online then I would no longer be a part of the group.  For example, I learned last Spring–several months before the “official announcement”–that the U.S. Secret Service would be moving to 9mm Glocks.  I look forward to my continued participation with the group.

Fitness

I worked pretty hard this summer on my cardio fitness, running regularly but never really pushing it past 5 miles at a time.  As per my goal this year, I maintained a sprint day (uphill!) for a while, but that fizzled out.  Strength training was lacking as I was experiencing a lot of pain this year in both shoulders.  Fitness HAS to be more of a priority for me in 2020.  I did not necessarily regress, but I certainly did not make any gains.  I probably need a weight-loss goal as well as some sort of “event” goal (such as running a ten-miler or half-marathon again).

Gear

Though I did buy a few new trinkets this year (and just realized I need to write up some reviews!), I am actually proud to say that I purchased no firearms in 2019.  I did take receipt of my short-barreled shotgun in May, but that was paid for in 2018 and then I waited on the tax stamp for 10 months!  I do have my eye on a few firearms now, though, so I doubt I will make it through 2020 without a firearm purchase.

Adult Learning

I had to take two graduate level classes in the Spring in order to maintain my teaching certificate, and events at work this year had me taking a bit more work home with me each night this Autumn.  Other life events outlined above had me less-than-focused at times, so I had trouble maintaining my “normal” reading pace, and read just 17 books in 2019.

One thing that is not quite “new” but that I intimated in this article is my increasing interest in training videos/DVDs.  I have continued to acquire more of these (many of which are no longer being produced, but can be found second-hand, such as via eBay) and am really enjoying them.  I continue to learn some subtle things from them and also enjoy them for the historical context (some are quite old, but it is interesting to see what has changed and, more surprisingly, what has not!).  I plan to write more articles addressing this area.

Writing

Again, the various issues I battled this year definitely affected my productivity here on the blog.  At times there also just seems to be less to say.  But, the good news is that I already have several articles for 2020 “in the hopper”, and several gear reviews to get done as well.  Plus, there will always be course AARs.

New Connections

I was super-duper excited to finally take a class with Karl Rehn.  This was followed up by a first for John and me, an appearance on a podcast where John and I discussed the excellent Advanced Handgun class that we took with Karl.  I was also excited to finally get to train with Will Petty and Chase Jenkins of Centrifuge Training, take courses with Tim Chandler of FPF Training and Ashton Ray of 360 Performance Shooting, and to take a seminar and break bread with John Holschen.  Meeting the Practically Tactical guys and training with them and one of their mentors, Joe Weyer of Weyer Tactical, also checked a box for me, and I hope to train with them again.

Final Thoughts

2019 brought with it a lot of disappointments for me, but progress, though slower than I would have liked, continued to be made.  I will look to continue that progress into 2020 (is 2020 the start of a decade or the end of one????), so look for an article very soon outlining my training goals.

As always, thanks for reading.  If you have any questions or comments, please post them below or on our Facebook page, as we always welcome civil discourse.  I can be reached privately at civiliangunfighter.robert@gmail.com.

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