Monthly Archives: August 2012

Vertx Tactical Pants and Olympic Lifting

I wasn’t going to post this video, but one of my friends suggested I share this with you, as she felt it accurately encapsulated my Vertx Tactical Pants Performance and Endurance Testing.

Would you feel comfortable and secure performing this lift in your tactical pants of choice?

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Vertx Tactical Pants Endurance Test: Week 5

Week 5 and an additional 800 tire flips have been performed.  It’s only within the last 2 weeks that wear spots have appeared on the upper thigh region of the right pant leg.  Since I was on a consulting assignment and forgot my DLSR camera at home, these photos are the best I could muster.

Left Pant Leg vs. Right Pant Leg

Physical Effects of Being Worn Daily for Five Weeks and Performing over 2,300 tire Flips

Close Up of the Upper Right Thigh

With only a few weeks remaining in my endurance testing, I’m feeling especially challenged in finding a method for inducing a failure point…however, it must stay true to my testing protocol and mustn’t rely on artificial means.

Stay tuned for more info once I return to home base.

Here are the quick links for the previous week’s updates:

Intro

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

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Tactical Gloves Performance Endurance Test: Week 2

Week 2 of my endurance testing continued with more tire flips as well as hanging pull exercises, such as numerous chin up/pull up variations.  Fortunately, the learning curve for my nervous system was shorter than expected and my speed and efficiency in the tires flips improved dramatically.  And while the gloves definitely protect my hands from the abrasive tire surface, my grip still doesn’t seen as secure as it does with skin on tire contact.

Some additional concerns and observations:

  1. A rougher or textured finish to the gloves, whether natural or synthetic leather, would greatly enhance the “gripability” factor and increase confidence while wearing the gloves.
  2. Sweat panels should come standard on ALL shooting/tactical gloves.
  3. The 5.11 TAC A2’s synthetic leather is considerably thinner than Blackhawk’s S.O.L.A.G., making them especially useful when precision or fine motor control is needed or for wearing in high temperatures.
  4. The thicker synthetic leather of the Blackhawk’s gloves would serve well in cooler environments or where the risk of hand injuries are high: climbing walls/fences, barber wire, etc.
  5. 5.11 TAC A2’s “reinforced saddle” between the thumb and index finger would extend the life of the gloves if you repeatedly carry small diameter objects: ammo canisters, buckets, shovels, etc.
  6. Much like tactical pants having a “higher cut” rear waistband, to keep from exposing your backside while bending over, the 5.11 TAC A2’s have a higher cut on the inside of the wrist.  Not only will this offer greater protection for the inside of the wrist (chafing from uniforms or gear), but prevents a gap from forming and keeping debris out, while moving your hands.  Plus the reinforced/synthetic leather tab on the inner wrist cuff is a nice detail.

Inside Wrist Coverage: 5.11 Tactical TAC A2 left hand, Blackhawk S.O.L.A.G. right hand

As I stated last in last weeks update, allow for 2-3 weeks of wear for your hands and nervous system to get used to the effects the gloves are going to have on your coordination and strength levels.  Initially, your shooting times and the amount of work you can perform in them will decrease, but as you continue to wear them, your times and workloads will return to normal.  This will mostly impact activities which require speed (weapons manipulation) or the carrying of heavy implements (ammo cases).

Quick Links:

Week 1

Testing Intro

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Larry Vickers & Shooting On the Move

Today’s post is a follow-up to my “Training Program Guaranteed to Improve Your Shooting Speed”.  Lately, I have been reading blog and forum postings and it seems people have been overlooking or altogether missing the main point of how stronger hamstrings lead to faster shooting times…so here it is: stronger hamstrings lead to reduced vertical oscillation > leading to a less erratic sight picture when shooting on the move > leading to a reduction in the amount of time to get your sights on target – for both your first  and follow shots.

Now, this necessity for reducing vertical oscillation during movement is so important, that Larry Vickers, in his article “Shooting on the Move,” wrote “the most critical aspect to shooting on the move is minimizing vibrations that transfer above the pelvis that in fact affect accuracy.”

Larry Vickers served 15 years in 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment – “Delta Force”

So if your firearms training takes place exclusively at static ranges and you have no interest in realistic training, then great, you don’t need my training program.  However, if you want to develop a skill set intended for realistic defensive conditions, then you must practice shooting on the move…and this is where my training program shines.

However, my concept of neutralizing vertical oscillation via hamstring strength is starting to catch on in the law enforcement/military firearms training community.  I recently consulted with a law enforcement agency, interested in refining their SWAT selection process. While a previous consultant they hired recommended testing and measuring a candidate’s reaction times to both visual and auditory stimulus, they quickly found that fast reaction times didn’t  translate to accuracy.  This law enforcement agency learned an expensive lesson, you CAN miss fast.  One of my recommendations, was to test a candidate’s hamstring strength with a 3 repetition maximum on the laying leg curl machine.  Now it’s been demonstrated in the scientific literature, that short-term running speed is directly related to hamstring strength, leading to fast acceleration.  And once a candidate’s maximum weight for 3 repetitions was determined, their bodyweight was divided by the weight lifted, giving us a relative strength rating, a rating of the weight lifted in relation to their bodyweight. The higher the rating, the greater the strength levels of the candidate, thereby possessing a greater potential for accuracy while shooting on the move.

Here’s an example based on 2 of their SWAT candidates:

  • Candidate A, with a bodyweight of 205 lb, performed a 3 rep max on the leg curl using 185 lb, for a relative strength rating of .902.
  • Candidate B, with a bodyweight of 195 lb, performed a 3 rep max ont he leg curl using 215, for a relative strength rating of 1.10.

As you can see, Candidate B lifter a great amount of both total weight and weight in relation to his bodyweight, resulting in a higher relative strength ratio.  Ultimately, this higher score will translate to a greater ability to overcome inertia (their bodyweight) while running, reducing vertical oscillation and maintaining a more consistent sight picture.

And while this evaluation technique and training program may be excessive for the most casual of firearms enthusiasts, it’s strongly recommended for those seeking to derive maximum value from their investments in both range time and ammunition.

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Tactical Gloves Performance Endurance Test: Week 1

Unlike my Vertx Tactical Pants Endurance Test protocol, where I wear my Vertx pants for the duration of an entire training session, I am only wearing the gloves for tire flips and upper body dominant exercises.  However, as with my Vertx testing, the tire flip remains the main exercise to test the performance and manufacturing capabilities of the gloves.

For this first week, I performed over 400 tire flips wearing the gloves…and what a difference they made!  The majority of my previous experience with gloves, dealt with the kind worn during deep-sea diving operations.  And while I have spent over 24 years training in gyms, I can only think of a handful of occasions where I wore gloves in the gym.  However, having worn gloves all this past week (which consisted primarily of modified strongman exercises) I can say wearing gloves for load bearing exercises was a learning experience for my nervous system.

One of my favorite training protocols, is to perform 100 tires flips for time, trying to beat my previous time with every session.  My personal best is 23 minutes 45 seconds, while wearing Vert tactical pants and Magnum Cobra boots. However, wearing the same clothing with the addition of tactical gloves, increased my time to 34 minutes 40 seconds.  And if that wasn’t enough, the gloves drastically increased both the physical and mental effort required to complete the 100 tire flips.

As you can see in the video, I appear to be struggling tremendously…the sad part, I was only 30 flips into the 100 rep challenge.  Once completed, I had to sit down and contemplate which specific attribute of the gloves increased the difficulty of a challenge I usually have no problem performing.  After considerable thought, I came up with 2 answers:

  1. The gloves material/protective spray: the gloves kept slipping off when attempting to lift the tire off the ground.  At first I was perplexed by this, as the tire’s surface is extremely coarse and usually tears into anything it contacts.  Apparently, this excludes both the 5.11 and Blackhawk gloves.  I’m not certain whether it’s due to the type of material utilized and/or the protective (water-resistant?) spray applied by the manufacturers.  The slippage encountered by BOTH gloves (left hand – 5.11 TAC A2 and right hand – Blackhawk S.O.L.A.G.) caused my forearm’s muscles and hands to expand greater force than usual.  After 5 years of flipping tires without gloves, my central nervous system had a difficult time adjusting and learning how to deal with this new development. And while it may seem like a small issue, this learning curve, of my nervous system learning a new technique, is anything but a small issue. Remember, while it’s the muscles which contract and act on your bones to generate strength and movement, the intent is generated from your brain/central nervous system.  And since the gloves cover your hands/fingers, they negatively affect the mechanoreceptors (respond to mechanical pressure and distortion) and the sensory imput or feedback they relay to the brain.  Ultimately, this interrupts the hand’s fine motor control.  Which is not something you want to experience when manipulating firearms.
  2. Due to the altered feedback of the mechanoreceptors and the interrupted motor control of the hands, the muscles of both my upper body (biceps) and lower body worked harder as compensation.  This explains why I seemed to have trouble not only lifting the tire off the ground, but in maintaining it against my right thigh, while changing my hand grip to flip it over.  My central nervous system “realizing” the lessened motor control and strength of the hands and forearms, expanded greater neural drive to other muscles groups to complete the action of flipping the tire.  The increased neural drive, considerably and quickly drained both physical and neural resources.  Additionally, this also affected my tire flipping technique, causing me to further lean into the tire and resting my biceps against it.  This resulted in small bruises slightly above my elbows, which has never occurred prior to using the gloves.

However, it’s not all bad news.  The key is realizing that anytime you try new gear, there is a learning curve, or process of your body adjusting to the new equipment.  So when using new gear, it’s vital for the breaking-in period to not coincide with any life threatening or challenging situations…especially if fine motor control is required.  Ensure you allow for at least 4-5 weeks of using the gloves before wearing them in any dangerous/threatening environments.  This also goes for when switching to a different brand of gloves or model.

Additional thoughts:

5.11 TAC A2 glove – slight tear along the small finger seam

At some point within the first 300 tire flips, the 5.11 TAC A2 glove developed a small tear/split along the stitching at base of the small finger, where the leather finger joins the elastic material.  Since it’s not located at a stress point, I attribute this to the manufacturing process, rather than mechanical stress.

Visible wear of over 400 tire flips

The 5.11 TAC A2 is displaying signs of wear on the fingers.  This may have been expedited by the “cut” of the synthetic leather utilized.

5.11 TAC A2 sweat wipe panel

The sweat wipe panel was extremely appreciated and worked well, especially during the “heat wave” experienced in Connecticut.  The cut, location and size of the sweat panel facilitated its use and didn’t interfere or affect performance of the glove.

Blackhawk S.O.L.A.G.

Compared to the 5.11 TAC A2, the Blackhawk S.O.L.A.G. displayed  less wear and the seams appeared to be better constructed during the manufacturing process.

A sweat panel would have appreciated and donning/doffing the gloves takes some effort, as the wrist openings were obviously designed for osteoporotic anorexics.

Conclusion

While both 5.11 and Blackhawk promote a secure grip in their marketing literature, they may want to rethink the synthetic material and/or any protective coatings they utilize.  Old and worn heavy earth moving equipment tires are some of the most abrasive objects you’ll encounter…and if your gloves have problems “biting” onto the tire, there might be some issues.  And while they don’t have to be as tacky as a pair of football wide receiver gloves, they should prevent slippage across a wide variety of surfaces.

However, in all fairness, they might need a breaking-in period to “wear down” any protective coatings.

It’s still too early to draw any conclusions, but I’ll keep plugging away and see what develops.

For a review of my testing requirements and protocols, visit here.

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Vertx Tactical Pants Endurance Test: Week 4

Over 1,500 tires flips performed in 4 weeks

Week 4 has come and gone…and my Vertx pants are finally displaying more than the casual wear generated through ever day use.  While I have performed over 1,500 tire flips and hundreds of squats, Olympic lifts and deadlifts, the wear exhibited is due to tire flips.  Examining my photographs, you’ll notice the wear is contained to the right pants leg — specifically the upper thigh region, which is the stress point when using the leg to assist in flipping the tire.

Right pant leg – thigh region

Oblique view – to better view the fabric’s wear

Upon a thorough examination of the pants, I can find no other fault…either in the stitching, bar-tacks, zippers, elastic side panels, nor the waistband button closure.

While some catastrophic failure would make for interesting reading, at least in determining what caused the pants to reach their failure point, the pants are currently exceeding Vertx’s marketing claims.

Additional thoughts:

Don’t let the zipper’s appearance fool you – it’s held up to thousands of repetitions of extreme and forceful movements.

Concealed zippered security pocket – Up until the end of this week’s testing, I had completely forgotten about the concealed pocket.  However when I first received the pants and examined the security pocket, I was somewhat disappointed by the small and somewhat anemic zipper.  While I tried to remain neutral and avoid any preconceived judgements, I thought that if there was going to be any failure in the pants, it would be security pocket’s zipper.  However, even after 4 weeks of wear and hundreds of violent and large range of motion exercises performed, the pocket and its zipper had gone by unnoticed and more importantly, still functions as new.  Yes, the pocket and zipper are that unobtrusive.

Side cargo pockets – Having worn BDUs in the US Navy, I couldn’t tell you how uncomfortable and unsightly the cargo pockets become after frequent use and washings.  Having the cargo pockets sewn to the outside of the pant leg, while reducing cost and labor, would cause them to snag and rip once they expanded when you carried anything in them.  The Vertx low profile cargo pockets, with their inset design, prevents any snagging and doesn’t scream “tactical.”

Articulated knees – easily my favorite feature of the pants, the articulated knees have exceeded my expectations.  When I first performed deep squats (hamstrings touching the calves), I was extremely worried they would either split down the crotch (not good) or the material around the knees would squeeze the *&*% out of them.  Fortunately, this didn’t occur and my knees were greatly appreciative.  The articulated knees allow for full and quick bending motions without need to “prep” by pulling excess slack up over your knees, prior to moving.  And while I have seen other tactical clothing manufacturer’s attempts at articulated knees, Vertx’s version doesn’t appear baggy or as if you’re wearing knee pads underneath.  Which is a good thing, especially if you’re marketing the pants for discrete wear.

Coming up: Week 5

 Here are the quick links for the previous week’s updates:

Intro

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

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