Summer Three Gun matches at my local range are awesome for guys that really want to improve their performance. The first match of the month is a “drills day” where the Match Director, Walter T, has us run through a brief course of fire that is designed to work on one specific skill. The second match of the month has us practicing that specific skill in a real stage under the clock with all the other usual things that shooters have to worry about during their run.
You may remember that the first match of September was a drills day where we practiced shooting on the move. The second match we put all that practice to work and even got the opportunity to shoot the awesome disappearing mover that Walter has been working on.
I have been going to Physical Therapy for my ankle sprain and I am improving quite a bit. The pain is nearly gone and I am getting a lot of mobility and confidence back as shown in the rifle and pistol stage movement. That is a very positive thing for my stage performance.
Mistakes are costly. Big time. On the rifle stage I completely forgot to engage the swinger giving me a “Failure To Engage” and 30 penalty points on that stage. My raw time was faster than everyone but the FTE put me in nearly last place. On the shotgun stage I thought I would be clever and walk down the hill toward the second array while loading. Turns out there was an imaginary wall there (I forgot this) and I incurred a penalty. Couple that with a missed clay target, the steel I engaged while out of the shooting box and I dropped to 5th place. I really didn’t shoot fast enough to be unhappy with that time so it looks like I need some more shotgun practice in my future. The highlight of the day was my pistol performance. I absolutely killed that stage. But consistency is what wins the match and not even my performance on that stage could pull me out of the hole I dug on the rifle and shotgun stages.
Saturday the 22nd of September was the monthly Colorado Multi Gun shoot at Weld Country Fish and Wildlife Range. Coming off of a #5 class finish and some good progress on my ankle rehab I was excited to get back out and compete in this match. I headed out bright and early with my regular match buddies Bill L. and Ben W. along with a new shooter, Nate.
We started the match on the shotgun pistol stage again and I had a dang good run. Of course I have no proof as I forgot to give Ben W. my camera before the run. Dang! The course was pretty similar to last time with some key changes. Again, we started in a box and engaged a full size IPSC target with two slugs (I had one Miss, need to get a rear sight for my JM Pro 930). From there we were free to engage eight poppers on the right and eight poppers on the left as they became available with the caveat that we needed to fire one shot from each of four ports, two on right, two on left. I did pretty decent on the poppers, but had two misses there too. And I forgot my reloading scheme and actually went to slidelock once. But I ended with an empty shotgun and did not have to burn any rounds before abandoning in the mandated condition.
I quickly drew my pistol and began engaging a whole mess of steel targets, 32 ish rounds for record if I remember correctly. I had some stupid misses but shot the course fairly well. One problem I had that is becoming more bothersome is that I ran two mags dry and the slide on my Glock 17 did not lock back. This caused two dry-fires under the timer which are killer!
The rifle stage was very similar to last time, engage four steel targets ranging from a 12″ steel square to a 6″ x 8″ plate from five different positions at 100 yards. The first position was a shooter’s box (had to have any part of shooter or rifle inside), second was a rickety wooden table frame (had to touch any part with shooter or rifle), third was through a cinder block (flash hider must be through one port), fourth was through a barrel (must shoot through) and fifth was another shooter’s box (had to have any part of shooter or rifle inside).
I chose to engage in the first box offhand and did fairly well. Second I braced on the table which I should have either gone prone or taken a knee as it was just too unstable. Third position I went prone and shoved my muzzle, sight and forend through, taking rested prone shots. Fourth I backed up so my muzzle was behind the barrel but I was still shooting through it to avoid the blast. Fifth and final position I began shooting offhand but had so many misses that I ended up taking a knee. I need to know myself better and realize that the fifth position should have been either from a knee or prone from the start as my heart rate and breathing would have been up super high after shooting and moving.
The third stage for us (4th in the match) was a rifle hoser stage similar to the pistol stage we shot last time; first shot must be taken in uprange box, last shot must be taken in downrange box.. I thought I had a pretty decent strategy and had plenty of time to run through it many times dry. I was going to engage all the targets I could see from the uprange box save for the two on the left which I was going to hit while shooting on the move. I’d move up to the corner, engage the two targets obscured by no-shoots and then engage the one turned target on the move and finish in the downrange box. Then I had malfs…
My rifle had a failure to extract on my first round. I had to go to the next bay and clear it out with a cleaning rod. I fired 4 test rounds and went back to wait for a do-over (local match). I got up and the damn rifle extracted the first round but would not eject it. Instead it shoved it up between the upper receiver and the gas tube. Luckily Bill L. grabbed his rifle for me to use. Bill as a sweet rifle no doubt but it has a few things on it that I was unfamiliar with, specifically the Magpul BAD lever, and I ended up screwing up my reload by not completely seating the magazine, wasting a ton of time trying to figure out the BAD lever and lock the bolt back. I totally hosed that hoser stage up bad.
Continuing on to our last stage, Stage 1, Bill L. again let me use his rifle and I did alright on the close-range head shots but when I transitioned to pistol I cleaned up pretty darn well. It is hard saying that you did well on a stage when you are shooting with guys like Drew Boldt (#2 overall in match) and they make your clean and fast run look like you’re out for your first match. 🙂
If it doesn’t go bang every time it does not deserve to be in competition. And if I am going to run in Tactical Optics, I need some magnification. Getting placed in with the guys that have 1-4x scopes to my 1x Aimpoint kills me on the long range stuff. The carbine gas system and mil-spec trigger kills me on the short stuff. Basically what I’m saying is that my skill level has reached the point where my rifle setup is holding me back. Unfortunately I don’t have the cash right now to go out and pick up a new Larue, JP, Noveske or even a Stag so I am going to have to do some lower-cost tweaks to get the most out of my current setup. In the mean time I have a new bolt coming from Brownell’s and my old bolt is being sent back to the manufacturer for inspection.
Last Saturday the 25th of August my match-buddy Bill L. convinced me to head out to one of the few regular Multigun matches in Colorado. Bill is a regular at my local range for 3-Gun and pistol matches and he was also on my squad at the Colorado Multi-Gun Championship in April. I rallied a couple other buddies to come out as well and the four of us “newbies” got paired up with three serious competitors and a veteran that was only recently back from the sandbox.
The Weld County Fish and Wildlife Range was way cool for a public run range. They had a 6-ish private bays, a fairly large 100 yard bay and a 200 meter bay mixed in with a bunch of 5-stand shotgun stations. The match is organized by Zak Smith of Colorado Multigun and Competition Dynamics. From what I gather Zak is from the old-school of 3-Gunning, bumping me up into Tactical Optics because I have an Aimpoint on my carbine, obscuring most of the targets on the CQB rifle stage with no-shoots save for the headbox and proclaiming the D-Zone a “miss.” While those rules were out of the norm for me I was very excited to try out something new to me and expand my skill set.
When Bill and I showed up at 8:15 to set up I was surprised to see that we were two of about a dozen guys there helping set the stages. Zak was pleased and confessed that he is happy to waive the $20 match fee so he’s not the only one moving all the steel and props. I was surprised to see a lot of Carhartt, 5.11 gear and Danners instead of the usual running cleats and race rigs. The match had a very cool traditionalist/purist feel to it from the get-go.
We got squadded with Drew, the designer of the Stage 2: Shotgun-Pistol and started there. On the buzzer you engaged a full-size IPSC steel from a 65 yard box and a 50 yard box then advance and engage 12 pepper poppers with bird shot. You would then abandon your shotgun unloaded in the barrel, transition to to pistol and engage a half-dozen or so IPSC targets and two plate racks from two different ports.
I zinged three slugs from the 65 yard box and hit nothing. I took the penalty and moved to the 50 yard box where I nailed it on the first shot. The Mossberg JM Pro 930 shoots slugs very low for me, I was holding where the crotch would be on the target and they were still going high at 65 yards. I need to get some sort of rear sight to compliment the front fiber optic sight and dial that in as slugs are becoming a severe deficiency in my game and usually leaving me no choice but to take the penalty and move on. When I was retrieving my shotgun after my run Drew said “I hope that’s not loaded” and sure enough it was. I knew this. I knew that I had one round left in the chamber and two in the tube but I must have missed the “unloaded” portion of the stage talk and was operating on the USPSA Multigun rules that I am used to. So that was a Match DQ right there on the first stage of the day. I understood and took it without protest but Drew and John B encouraged me to go plead my case with Zak. I drove over to the 4th Stage and explained what happened. Without hesitation Zak said he’d let me continue but with a procedural penalty for the stage. Zak explained that the rule was meant as a safety measure for the new shooters but made an exception as I was following sanctioned Multi-Gun rules. Zak really did not have to make an exception and I wouldn’t have blamed him if he stuck to the match rules but I am grateful that he allowed me to shoot the rest of the stages.
Drew Engaging Steel at 200M From The Crushinator
Stage 3 was a fairly simple (in theory) rifle-only stage. We were required to engage four steel targets ranging from 8-10 inches big at 200 meters and from four different shooting positions. Sounds simple enough. Simple until you see that three of the shooting positions are from “The Crushinator”, a wood wall with ports of various shapes and sizes cut into it.We were allowed to choose two of our shooting positions from The Crushinator but one was mandated to be from one of the bottom two side-ports. Even the guys with 20-round magazines on their AR’s could not get low enough to shoot upright from the bottom ports. I have only 30 rounds mags and had to roll my AR over on its side to see through my Aimpoint Comp M2 and actually nailed two steels from that position. I was pretty darn excited about that!
Stage 4 was a pistol-only stage. The only two mandates were that you had to start in the up-range box, engage all three steel knockdown targets before you left that box and fire your last shot in the down-range box. I feel I shot this stage really dang well and could have been faster if I wasn’t wearing a walking boot due to my ankle injury. Knowing that I wouldn’t be as fast as everyone else slowed me down and allowed me to concentrate on the front sight and getting those hits rather than speeding up and point shooting.
Stage 1 was rifle/pistol. On the buzzer you engage six hostage-takers that were obscured so much by no-shoots that only the headbox was available and sometimes not the entire headbox. You then transition to pistol, move behind the barricade and engage two Metric IPSC targets and one knockdown freestyle and then three knockdowns on the left with your right hand and three knockdowns on the right with your left hand.
Because the rifle targets were about 20 yards away you really had to know your rifle’s zero and hold to compensate for the sight height over bore and the short distance to get those hits. I neutralized 5 of 6 targets and got higher on each target as I went along. I could kick myself because I KNOW my zero and my holds but I was backing off way too much to try and stay away from those no-shoots. More practice required.
When I switched to pistol I got a super-high grip knowing that I would have to transition from freestyle to strong hand only. On firing one of my shots, a round was stripped off the mag and went into the chamber but the slide did not go into battery because my thumb was riding the slide. If I had just pounded the back of the slide all would have been well but instead, thinking I had a Failure To Eject, I racked the slide causing a double feed. Knowing what I just did, I stripped the magazine out and let it hit the deck, got a new magazine back in the gun and went on. It felt like that took an eternity to happen but you can see from the video that it was fairly quick but it did negatively affect my time on the stage. A funny side-note when the magazine hit the ground, the cheap off-brand magazine extension broke, causing the spring to launch out all of the remaining rounds and fly across the range. I recovered the important parts and will be looking for some higher quality replacements.
Tactical Class Scores
As you can see from the videos above I still have my walking cast due to my acute ankle sprain and it slowed me down quite a bit. Even so I still took 5th place in Tactical and 6th place overall and I am very pleased with that. I had an awesome time with my gun-pals, met some great shooters and that is always a good thing. I will definitely be shooting this match again in the future, I hope to make it out to the September 22nd match as it looks like it will be the last one of the season due to some other Competition Dynamics event conflicts.
I own a copy of the Noveske Shooting Team’s popular 3 Gun Outlaw DVD and have watched it dozens of times. From this DVD I have learned a lot about technique and stage breakdown and the fall release of 3 Gun Hero looks to pick up where it left off.
I got the opportunity to meet and chat briefly with Rob Romero and Jansen Jones at the 2012 Noveske Rifleworks Colorado Multigun Championships when they were kind enough to conduct a quick skill-builders class and answer questions from the shooters that had come out early to view the stages. I am looking forward to seeing some advanced techniques in this DVD and getting some more insight into stage strategy, which is where I feel I need the most improvement. Plus, how badass is that trailer?
I love the summer but fall can’t get here quick enough.
An absolutely gorgeous day to take an afternoon off of work and head to my local range for a little Summer 3-Gun. Unfortunately I severely sprained my ankle (while shooting) six days ago and am still in a walking boot-type cast. Lucky for me the stages were not very movement intensive as far as Three-Gun matches go and there were no weapon transitions. However having to cover about 30 yards of ground on surface that is akin to decorative rock each stage made for some slow times, low rankings and a lot of ankle soreness. The upside is that I was able to get a bunch of trigger time in and enjoy the camaraderie of some great people.
The three stages were pretty simple this time with a common obstacle setup for all three and common targets among the rifle and pistol stages. The Match Director, Walter T., did this to keep things moving during the match and be done in our 2.5 hour window so the Friday night Practical Pistol Match could start on time. We did fairly well and were able to get all three stages in before the PPM.
Practice to Practical (Shotgun)
I love shotgun stages. I never was that into the shotgun as a platform until I started shooting Three Gun. This stage had seven steel pepper poppers, two birds and three plates on the Texas Star. The course description:
-Start behind rear fault line outside of shooting area with shotgun loaded with safety on in low ready –At signal engage targets as they become visible from within shooting areas. 4 targets on the left must be engaged through the tire. –Time plus scoring. Minimum of 12 birdshot (10 steel and 2 frangible).
Start with eight in the tube and one in the chamber (9). The smart play here was to whack all four targets on the left through the tire (5) load four as you’re moving to the right (9). Engage all three poppers (6) and the two flipper birds (4). Then run hard up to the 16 yard line and engage the three plates on the Texas Star (1).
What I did was start with eight in the tube and one in the chamber (9), nailed all 4 targets on the left (5), limped over to the right side while loading four (9), engaged all three poppers (6) and went up for the birds. I got one bird (5) but the second one never came and that’s when I realized that I missed the popper on the right. I reengaged it and got the bird as well (3). As I was limping up to the Texas Star I went to load another four but was only able to stuff two until I felt some severe binding that stopped me (5). I got my mount back with the two spare shells in my support hand and engaged the Star, knocking down all three plates in three shots (2). Why did I load another four when I had enough to neutralize the star? Well I had to limp instead of run anyway due to my walking boot so I figured that I would give my self a bit of insurance while getting one more practice repetition in for the weak hand reload during competition.
Chip Off the Shoulder (Rifle)
-Start behind rear fault line outside of shooting area with rifle loaded with safety on in low ready. –At signal engage targets as they become visible from within shooting areas. 4 targets on the left must be engaged through the tire. –Time plus scoring. Minimum of 12 rifle (10 paper and 2 knock down/ frangible). The 2 little black targets are plastic primer trays. Knock down or any part of bullet hole to score.
The rifle stage was less eventful for me. I basically cleaned out the targets on the left fairly quickly, limped over to the right, cleaned those out and then engaged the far targets from the barrel on the zero yard line. I nailed the target stand that was holding the frangible target (primer tray) because I forgot about my height over bore offset. I have a zero at 50 yards and verified at 200 yards so I should have placed my 4 MOA Aimpoint dot directly over the top of the frangible target. That little mistake cost me 20 points. Another little lesson learned there is to pay attention to the scoring as I would have tried a bit harder if I knew they were scored targets instead of “bonus” points. Oops.
Chip Off the Shoulder (Pistol)
As I said earlier the pistol stage was the same setup as the rifle which was awesome because you could compare your rifle and pistol times to see which you were more proficient at. The stage description:
-Start behind rear fault line outside of shooting area with pistol loaded in holster hands relaxes at sides. –At signal engage targets as they become visible from within shooting areas. 4 targets on the left must be engaged through the tire. –Time plus scoring. Minimum of 12 pistol (10 paper and 2 knock down/ frangible). The 2 little black targets are plastic primer trays.
The smart play on this one was to run down to the 16 yard line to engage the far targets. I had to limp down but I was able to knock the right frangible off in one shot. Unfortunately the left frangible took me three shots.
All the basics were in action during this shoot. Sight alignment, trigger control and all that jazz. It seemed it was even more important for me because I took a lot longer to cover any ground that need be covered. Each shot counted because I couldn’t just run faster to make up for the extra time at an array or a missed target. That said, there was no way in hell that I could have shot fast enough to make up for how slow I was to get to each array. One of the things that I like most about Action Shooting and specifically Three-Gun is that they are very athletic sports and require just as much fine motor skill precision as they do brute strength and agility. Even though I wasn’t competitive this time around the facts remains that any trigger time is good trigger time and competition will always teach you things about your skills and abilities.