Author Archives: A.J. Zito

Setting New Goals

Setting a “Goals Board” isn’t a bad idea either.

Over the last week of December each year, I set a new list of goals. Setting goals can be a tricky endeavor if not approached correctly. It’s very easy to set a goal because it sounds good, and it is what you want. But that goal can have so many variables that are out of your control that it ceases to be realistically obtainable. So lets talk about some key points with goal setting.

What do you want? : Firstly, you have to want to achieve the goal. I mean REALLY want to achieve the goal. If the goal has no real value to you other than lip service, your chances of achieving it are most likely pretty slim. Goals should be important to you, and you should want to achieve them.

Is it obtainable? : Has this goal been achieved by others? I’m by no means saying that you shouldn’t set a goal that makes you the first to accomplish something, but there is a direct correlation between knowing a goal is achievable and being able to achieve it. For years it was thought that man could not run a 4 minute mile. After Sir Roger Bannister finally achieved it, several others were able to break the 4 minute mark within the same year. KNOWING a goal is achievable is a huge step in achieving it. More on this later.

Can I control my achievement of the goal? : This is where we get into the ideas of outcome based goals vs. process based goals. Outcome based goals deal exclusively with a specific result. A process based goal is focused more on how you are achieving the goal rather than the result. For example, if I said “I want to make Grandmaster in USPSA.” That would be an outcome based goal. If on the other hand I were to say “I want to shoot no less than three days a week.” That would be a process based goal. There is a time and place for both types of goals, but I tend to gravitate towards process based goals. Again, we need to be able to control the outcome of your goal. Setting goals that are based on variables outside of your control can quickly lead to failure. For example: You set the outcome based goal of “I want to win the Western States Single Stack Championship (WSSSC).” Great, but we have some issues. While this goal may be achievable for you, there are variables outside of your control that can prevent you from being able to achieve it. Things like Rob Leatham (who has won it almost as many times as its been held) showing up and having the match of his life. Or maybe as you’re leaving you get hit by a huge snow storm and hit a buried rut and jack up the engine in your truck (true story). It’s hard to set outcome based goals for things like matches and them be anywhere within your control. I prefer to set process based goals that will aid in the achievement of what may be an outcome based goal. I.e. “I want to dry fire no less than four days a week for 30 minutes, live fire no less than three days a week, and shoot at least one local match a month in order to prepare for the best results at WSSSC.” Yep, its pretty wordy. It’s also process based, very specific, and almost totally under my control.

Goal setting can be tricky, especially if you don’t know where to start. Using what we’ve discussed above, you should be able to get started on setting some achievable goals. Later on, we’ll talk about long term and short term goals, daily goals, and how to make all your goals work with each other. Until then, good luck and stick with it!

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“The 66”

On Monday, Scott Jedlinski and I will start the first leg of the Modern Samurai Project West Coast Tour (https://modern-samurai-project.myshopify.com ). As some of you know, over the last year I have been unable to achieve the Black Belt Patch in a class. I have witnessed all but two being earned in that time. This is a frustrating situation as I’m about 80% passing it in practice.

Recently I attended a Steve Anderson (http://www.andersonshooting.com) class. To say my performance was not up to par would be an understatement. To reiterate how poorly it went, individuals who took that class who I often shoot with in matches AND who have been in my classes even commented, asking what was wrong with me. This was very demoralizing to me. It DESTROYED my self image. And that may not be a bad thing.

After the class, I was pondering what was going on with my shooting, my gunsmithing, my time, my life. To put it less eloquently, shit got real… After much reflection, I reached the conclusion that I already knew, but honestly had not thought was as bad as it truly was. I have always liked doing lots of things. In a recent interview with Civilian Carry Radio (www.youtube.com/watch?v=z3M6w-u_W9Q) Tatiana Whitlock referred to me as a Renaissance Man. I have always somewhat prided myself on that. Unfortunately, it seems to have finally caught up to me and there are far too many irons in the fire, as it were.

What does this look like? I often tell my wife “When everything is a priority, nothing becomes the priority.” And that is what has happened. My level of participation, as Anderson refers to it, has essentially dropped to nothing in my shooting in order to accommodate other things. I have shot less rounds this year (sitting under 10k pistol for 2019) than in any previous year, and a majority of that shot has been in matches. I have a couple full build, bespoke guns in the shop that have been on the job board for over a year now, and I HAAAAAATTTTE that!!!! As one of my friends used to tell me, “Life gets in the way.” My dryfire routine is non-existent at this point. I dry fired more in Anderson’s class than I had in the past 2 months combined, and there wasn’t a ton in the class.

So, what am I getting at here. It’s time for a re-structure. It’s time to reestablish some form of structure and prioritization to my goals and desires. Over the last couple years I’ve been fascinated with routines and rituals of successful individuals. Not just financially successful, but successful in any of their chosen endeavors. The power of habit it incredible. Recently I heard that it takes roughly 66 days to truly make something a habit, not 21 as is commonly thought.

So on Monday, we begin the MSP West Coast Tour. (That’s right, I just Tarantino-ed you!) Upon my return, we will begin 66 days of habit forming. This will entail an incredibly strict dry fire regime. It will also require a strict adherence to my live fire schedule. I’m hoping a byproduct of this whole process will be more regular posts here. This may be more of a time management exercise more than anything else, and that seems to be exactly what is needed. So, let the prep work begin.

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How unsportsmanlike!

Poor sportsmanship is nothing new to any competitive endeavor. Just recently we watched the newest installment with Serena Williams which progressed into something reminiscent of the Taylor Swift and Kanye West fiasco several years back. Serena did not perform the way she believed she should be performing, blamed an official for HER performance mistakes, and in the end lost the match. At the award ceremony she continued her poor behavior with a display essentially degrading the work and performance of her competitor, Naomi Osaka.

I wish I could say that this behavior was not found in the shooting sports, but it is. Recently, I found myself on the “Osaka” side of this. After a long USPSA match, scores totaled, it came out that I had bested a top 10 USPSA competitor. I was ecstatic. I personally respect this individual, his skill, and work ethic. To him, it was no big deal. You win some you lose some. Then the White Knights showed up (enter Kanye and his cronies). Some of these individuals are my friends. The responses, in essence, were “Yeah, but he had a rough match. His head wasn’t in it. He was thinking about other things.” etc. All of which may be true. AND NONE OF WHICH CHANGES THE FACT HE LOST! Only one individual was supportive of this accomplishment.

I don’t say this to pat myself on the back or as a “poor me” story. I tell this to relate an issue we have as competitors with ego, white knighting, and hero worship. Some people’s ego cannot accept losing. And when they lose, this “reason” is firmly based in something other than their personal performance. In my personal example, this was not the case. The competitor was nothing but gracious and sportsmanly (?) about it. Enter Kanye. Some other individuals could not wrap their head around the fact that a nobody, local shooter, like me could beat a high level national competitor. To right this injustice, they decided to belittle the win. Now, this competitor made no major mistakes in the match, no major malfunctions, no serious score-able errors. He just didn’t have a great match. And guess what, neither did I. But the knights always need to fight someones battles. Mind you, none of them were even close to the top in this match. I believe Steve Anderson would say something about free advise from D class shooters at this point… But I digress.

Finally, some of them could just not handle their “hero” (highest level shooter they personally know) being beaten without some form of excuse.  I get it. There’s a reason why the adage “Don’t meet your hero’s.” exists. I’ve done it more than once. So I say unto thee: Be sportsman. Be gracious in both your wins and losses. No one likes a sore loser, or their friends. And no one likes a braggadocios winner. Be humble. And if you do lose, work harder so that you do not lose again.

“Stand, and be true.” – Roland of Gilead

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Things I didn’t do today that are killing 2018…

Today, I woke up at 4:30, my normal wake up time. I turned on the tv, checked my email, watched the news, prepped our Instagram/Facebook/Twitter posts, and looked at some training material until 6:45 when my wife starts her day. Almost none of those things helped me towards achieving my goals for 2018.

Yesterday, after prepping class schedules and grade sheets for my college students, I was hit with the realization that we were now over two weeks in to 2018 and I was almost no closer to achieving any of my goals than I was at the end of December, 2017.

Here’s what is written in my schedule for my 4:30-9:00 mornings:

  • 0500-0615: Gym
  • 0630-0700: Prep Social Media Posts
  • 0700-0800: Morning Routine
  • 0800-0830: Dryfire
  • 0830-0900: Last minute prep/adjustments to schedule
  • 0900: Shop/Range/School (Depending on the day)

In the next two months I have no less than 5 local matches, 1 major match, two classes taught by me, and 1 class taught by another that I’m attending.

I know I’m not the only one in this boat. 2018 is in full swing. We’re two weeks in and most of us have already started to fall off the wagon. Let’s all be a bit more disciplined and get back to work. Very few learn how to ride a horse without falling off a time or two. The ones that succeed just keep getting back on.

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Keep the standards high!

B-8 at 25 yards. Cold, on demand, from concealment.

I read an article this morning about tactical shooters. The article considered hits on an 8″ circle (IDPA target) at 15 yards to be “extremely accurate.” Shooters: DON’T LIE TO YOURSELF!!!  The picture you see is of a NRA B-8 target, 10 rounds, shot from concealment, at 25 yards, cold. The rings are approximately (via tape measure): “X” ring is 1.625″; 10 ring is 3.25″; and 9 ring is 5.5″; 8 ring is 8″. Hold yourself to a higher standard.

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Kilt on da streets!

Miller Custom .125w front sight with .020 fiber optic

So, as I’ve been told, time and time again, “Fiber optics are unreliable and have no place on a carry/duty/work/hard use gun. That shit will get you killed!” Pump the brakes there Hondo.

The image here is from my Miller Custom 1911, in .45 ACP. This was my primary carry AND competition gun for a fair bit of time. At 40,000 rounds the barrel cracked and needed to be replaced. The rifling was close to non-existent. Yet, THE ORIGINAL fiber optic rod, the one I received with the gun when I picked it up, was/is still there! Undamaged, unbroken, etc.

Lots of people truly believe the only acceptable sights on a carry/duty gun are night sights. That’s fine. This has not been my experience, nor that of many, many, many, others. Most will start off with the premise that “They glow in the dark so I can shoot without a light.” Why are you shooting without a light? How are you identifying your target?! Are you seriously just shooting “where you think the bad guys are?” (Actual quote from an instructor.) If you don’t see all the things wrong with these statements I implore you to seek better training immediately!

Tritium (night) sights have an advantage over fiber optics (and blacked out sights) for approximately 30 minutes a day. This is the time where the intended target is well enough lit to identify it as a threat but it is too dark to refine your sight picture. Some will say that this time is extended exponentially in homes and buildings. My friends Todd Green and Spencer Keepers would argue with me time and time again about this. Admittedly, the potential exists, but I have not found this to be as prevalent as some would believe.

Here’s the trade off for opting for the tritium sights. With the majority of manufacturers, during the day you are essentially shooting blacked out sights. That’s not very beneficial in my opinion. Yes, some have a white circle around the front vile, and hi-visibility options like the Trijicon HD’s exist. All have their own issues. To my knowledge, no manufacturer produces any of these with a front sight smaller than .125-ish width. Ok, let’s say you don’t care about that. How about this: The majority of individuals carry their guns almost all of the sunny hours of the day, and about half or less of the dark hours of the night. That puts an advantage to what works best in the day for me.

“Bad guys attack at night.” While not an absolute, it is more statistically correct than saying they attack during the day, but bad guys attack when they think they can win. Day, night, doesn’t matter. What we’ve seen is that an overwhelming majority (read almost every) civilian/patrol LEO involved shooting has happened in an area where the ambient light was so prevalent that night sights were of no advantage, along with weapon mounted lights. (Check out John Correia’s research from Active Self Protection as well as Aaron Cowan from Sage Dynamics white paper on Red Dot use).

“My fiber optic rod broke after 100rds. It’s not durable enough for a carry/duty gun!” This one gets thrown out a lot. Here’s how you fix it: LEARN HOW TO INSTALL A FIBER OPTIC ROD PROPERLY! Yes, there is a right and wrong way to put fibers in. There are several videos out there demonstrating proper installation, and they make the difference. Along with this, some sights are just better than others. Caveat Emptor. I have had excellent results from Dawson Precision and 10-8 Performance. Most of my fiber optic sights however are custom made with smaller fibers and a little more protection for the rod. Up until this past year (2017), I had never broken a fiber optic rod in one of my guns. A couple of months ago I noticed one was not installed correctly and I did a hasty fit (read improper) of the rod trying to salvage the .02 cents worth of rod. Sure enough, it broke about 1,500 rounds later. First one since 2012…on almost every single gun I’ve shot…

So, you want to run Fiber Optics because you can see them better? Do it. Want to run Tritium sights because there may be a point where they’re more beneficial to you? Do it. Bottom line, choose what works best for you in your reality. Fiber optics are not going to get you “kilt on da streets” nor are night sights going to save you.

 

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Back to work!

So, these last several months (April-September) have been epically horrible for my shooting. Between finishing up school, trying to get machines, refinishing the shop, electrical/electrician issues, injuries, and equipment issues, shooting has been about the least of my priorities (and that is the wrong answer). Dry fire has been inconsistent, but happening none the less. I can count the number of range sessions I’ve had on my two hands, and the number of matches on 1/2 of one.

Finally, yesterday I got my ass to the range for a solo practice session. It was rough, to say the least, but still good. It’s very easy for us to get caught up in everything going on around us and neglect our overall and long-term goals. I remember running into Kerry Pearson at a match and him remarking how little he had seen me as of late. As he said, “Life gets in the way.”

My wife and I were having dinner and discussing why I hadn’t accomplished literally any of my shooting goals over the last year. I listed off all the “reasons” why I hadn’t been getting to the range. She said, “Wouldn’t it just be better to grab a gun and go shoot no matter what gun it is or division? I mean, it’s still shooting!” Damn, she’s right.

There are tons of variables in my gun/division choices. Being a custom gunsmith, competitive shooter, shooting instructor, and carrying a gun everyday have tons of variables and don’t all play well together. But at the end of the day, I’m not getting any better or going anywhere by not shooting.

Sometimes, you just need to grab any gun out of the safe and go shoot it.

 

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We’re bringing Scott Jedlinski out west!

PPT is happy to announce that we’re bringing Scott Jedlinski of Modern Samurai Project out to Arizona early next year! Scott is quickly being regarded as an expert on the slide mounted red dot pistol, nationwide. His accolades include, but are not limited to, F.A.S.T. Coin number 16, USPSA Carry Optics “Master” rating, as well as sponsorships from our friends at Agency Arms, Tuff Products, and Overwatch Precision.  Scott’s class is an in-depth look into the world of slide mounted red dots for both carry and competition.

Where: Prescott, AZ

When: March 24-25, 2018

Details and Sign Up: Modern Samurai Project Red Dot Pistol: Fundamentals and Performance in Prescott, AZ

Don’t miss this awesome opportunity to learn from Scott!

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“How to Practice” Handgun Workshop

Just a reminder that our  one day “How to Practice” Handgun Workshop in Prescott, AZ is live and ready for you guys to sign up! We’re offering this course at a special reduced price (20% off)! Most of us attend a class from a trainer, get a bunch of drills and tips, and then have no idea what to do with them after other than to go to the range and shoot them. If only it were that simple. This class bridges the gap between classes and practice. We’ll show you how to take those things you’ve learned and integrate them into a structured practice regimen. We’ll teach you about Performance Tracking, how to use drills and exercises to your advantage, and how to make progress rather than just plinking at the range.

Tickets are available at : Eventbrite Tickets “How to Practice”

Come out and shoot with us!

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