Competing In A New Local Match, Weld County 3 Gun August 2012

 

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 MATCH

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.

STAGES

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

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.

 

SCORES

Overall Scores

Overall Scores

Tactical Class Scores

Tactical Class Scores

TAKEAWAY

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.

 

3 Gun Hero: Noveske Shooting Team’s Multigun Training DVD Trailer

I haven’t been this excited to buy a DVD since seeing the Magpul Dynamics: Art of the Dynamic Handgun trailer.

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.

How to Build a Budget Glock 17 Competition Pistol, Part 1 – Introduction

In this series I’ll show you step-by-step how to build a competitive budget polymer pistol for IDPA, USPSA/IPSC or club-level Practical Shooting matches.  You’ll see first hand how to tailor each modification to your specific needs and get the most out of your competition pistol.

BACKGROUND

Classic Steel

My first and second pistols were the 1911’s shown at left.  A Springfield 1911 GI and a Springfield 1911 Loaded Target.  I’ve always liked the classic look of the famous design brought to us by John Browning and you just cant beat the feel of a giant, steel, .45 ACP-slinger in your hands as you’re tossing rounds downrange.  I was a casual tactical-style shooter and was fine performing 2-3 times more magazine changes than my shooting pals because I enjoyed the pistols, the heritage and the mechanical “kerchunk!” each time it cycled.

Then in 2008 Barack Obama was elected President of The United States.

Almost overnight the supply of .45 ACP dried up from the local stores and online retailers. The prices skyrocketed from an “affordable” $0.29/round to an insane $0.49/round. This seriously put a damper on my pistol practice and I began looking at alternatives.

THE POLYMER TEMPTATION

Budget Glock 17

Project Budget Competition Glock 17

My buddies had always teased me about shooting an antique at the range, always asking why I had so many malfunctions and why I had to reload so often. They all shot Glocks and one of them just happened to have a well-used Generation Two G17 for sale for the right price of $400. That price included a nice bonus of the original Tupperware-style box but unfortunately only one magazine. I tried it out at one of our range days and was impressed by how easy the 9mm round was to control and how well the lightweight, blocky pistol fit my hands and shot for me. I also liked that 9 mm Luger was slightly more available than .45 ACP and was about half the price. I went home that day with a new (to me) pistol.

CHANGING FOCUS

Practical Pistol Match

Changing Focus to Competition

That was nearly four years ago and since then I have sold one 1911 and barely shot the other one. While my original focus had always been Self Defense and Tactical shooting, last fall I finally made it out to my first Three-Gun competition at my local range. I figured it would be good practice for the type of Tactical shooting I normally did and would be great to get more trigger time, especially trigger time under stress.  I was immediately hooked and have been to at least one multi-gun match each month ever since. This spring I also began competing in Practical Pistol matches at the local club. The club offers different Practical Pistol matches three nights a week and Summer 3-Gun matches every other Friday so I have been shooting practical matches 2-4 times each week all summer. Getting that much trigger time in a competition environment on my completely stock Glock 17 has given me the itch to start tweaking it a bit to better compete.

FUNDAMENTAL MODIFICATIONS

I have basically been growing a wish-list in the back of my mind of parts that I can modify, rework or replace to upgrade this gun without breaking the bank.  I’d like to improve the major systems enough to shave a few seconds off my course times here and there but I will keep the modifications basic to stay in the budget-spirit of the original reason behind its purchase.  So don’t expect any flames, compensators or red dot optics.

Another reason for the basic upgrades is that I intend to keep the pistol legal for Stock Service Pistol and Production classes in both IDPA and USPSA. While I have only shot one major USPSA match (Multi-Gun) and do not shoot any sanctioned matches on a regular basis, I would like to attend larger matches more often in the future and I would hate to be bumped into a race-gun class beyond my skills and abilities due to a modification I made to gain an edge in my local club matches.   Some research into the requirements of the respective Production classes was required to be sure that I fell within the rules.

RACE PARTS ARE JUST A CLICK AWAY

I’ve cracked both the Brownell’s catalog and my piggy bank, filled up my online shopping cart and clicked “buy”. In later posts of the How to Build a Budget Glock 17 Competition Pistol series I’ll showcase each part I chose, explain what I hope to accomplish by installing or modifying them, detail the installation process and give a full range report.

 

Summer 3-Gun On an Injured Ankle, 2012.08.17

THE SETTING

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 STAGES

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)

Course description:

-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.

SHOOTING FOOTAGE

RESULTS

Stage 1:

Stage 2:

Stage 3:

Overall:

LESSONS LEARNED

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.