The Winter 3-Gun Series at my local range is a popular event. In the last three matches there have been groups of about 20 shooters and only a half dozen actually reset the stages after each run. This lack of common decency seemed to be the norm rather than the exception and it was causing us to run super slow, super late and just basically getting on my nerves. So when the Match Director sent out the stages for this Saturday’s match I couldn’t help but hit “reply all” and encourage my fellow shooters to chip in…
I would like to remind everyone that resetting stages after each
shooter is part of the practical shooting experience. I reset the
stage after you shoot, you reset the stage after I shoot. That’s how
Some added benefits of resetting stages:
1. You get some exercise: Which is, of course, one of your New Year
2. You don’t look like a slacker: Gun owners are not slackers. You
don’t want your gun-pals to think you’re a slacker, do you?
3. We get to shoot more: Contrary to popular belief, if we finish
with all the shooters in all the stages earlier, each of us gets to
shoot each stage instead of skipping out on the last stage because we
have to leave and attend to our other responsibilities.
4. It builds character: In these times of YouTube and Xbox, most
young people are not used to being required to do anything.
Demonstrate to them that hard work is rewarding with the side benefit
of the work not actually being very hard.
5. You will be warm: I know that sometimes it gets a little chilly
standing around for a few hours during Winter 3-Gun. I guarantee if
you move around to paste targets and reset steel, you will be much
warmer than sitting in your truck and waiting for your turn.
6. You build a network: Let’s be honest, as gun owners we are on a
very scary ride in the Colorado Legislature. We can all use the
connections and contacts that we make while resetting stages with our
7. You can talk while you work: Busy talking about how crappy the
Colorado Legislature is or how messed up the economy is? Great!
Bring your conversation buddy along to talk while you paste!
8. You could make money: I am bringing a pocket full of one dollar
bills on Saturday. If you catch me not resetting/timing/scoring and I
am neither on deck nor in the hole, I will pay you a $1 penalty
(provided that you are resetting/timing/scoring when you call me on
it). You will know me, I’m Dave, the really super sarcastic
and opinionated guy.
9. You will learn something: New or new-ish to 3Gun? There is no
better way to learn stage breakdown and scoring than by pitching in
and helping. If you are unsure of what to do or how to do it, just
ask. Your fellow 3Gunners are all great folks and are more than
willing to help.
10. Show your appreciation: It is a lot of work putting together one
of these matches. Show the Match Director how much you appreciate his hard work
by making the match flow as smooth as possible.
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.
One of the coolest things about being a member of my local range is that I get the opportunity to shoot in three Practical Pistol Matches each week. Each match is run by a different Match Director and each Director has his own distinct match style.
The Friday Practical Pistol Match Director is Ben G. Ben G. is a USPSA shooter and is definitely serious about it. Each Friday Ben has a USPSA qualifier and two USPSA approved stages for us to run. Ben has been preparing to compete in the 2012 Mile High Showdown and last Friday we switched it up and set three stages from the MHS packet.
THE GAME FILM
My ankle was tweaky today and still slowing me down quite a bit. I have more than a few weeks of physical therapy in front of me and then all winter to get my speed and direction transitions back up and running.
Penalties are killers! Striving for speed and accuracy are very important and picking up a penalty for hitting a no-shoot is an absolute killer. In my rush to finish the 3rd stage strong I didn’t lean out far enough and blasted the very edge of a no-shoot from just a few inches away while attempting to shoot the target that it was obscuring. This was a dumb mistake.
This was the best I’ve ever shot at a Friday Practical Pistol Match. I am sure the shooting on the move practice that we did earlier in the day helped out with that quite a bit. I wasn’t going into each stage “cold”, I had plenty of warmup earlier in the day. That makes me think that I need to so some dry-fire practice the night before or the morning of a match to get myself warmed up and primed for success. Or I could go all-out like Ben G. and actually set up the stages from the match and shoot them the day before… Brilliant!
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.