One of my goals this year was to shoot about twice as many matches as in 2016 (I shot four in 2016). With the late start I got shooting in matches this year, there was no realistic way for me to achieve that goal. However, if I can retroactively amend that goal to “shoot in MORE matches than in 2016”, then I have now met that goal.
As our Facebook followers read this weekend, continued unseasonably warm temperatures and a great desire to avoid a visit with my sister-in-law had me all-too-willing to sign up for a match on Thanksgiving weekend. This would be another two-day match where some competitors chose to shoot on both days, in some cases with different firearms and/or in different divisions from one day to the other. I only shot on one of the days. This would be a standard club-level match with six stages, each with some sort of Thanksgiving theme.
As noted in several of my prior match descriptions, I prefer to shoot in the Stock Service Pistol (SSP) division. I prefer this for two reasons. First, the allowable magazine capacity in SSP is 10 rounds. Other divisions (for example, Compact Carry Pistol, into which my Glock 19 fits size-wise) only allow 8 or even fewer rounds. Most of my pistols can hold more than that, so it always seemed like kind of a waste to shoot in those divisions. My second, and more important, reason for competing in SSP is that there are generally more competitors in that division. I have attended some matches where there were no shooters in CCP but twenty or more in SSP. It is nice to have some others with whom to compare oneself.
Breaking from the norm, however, I chose not to compete with my typical Glock 19. I decided instead to utilize my Glock 26. The Glock 26 is small enough to qualify all the way down to the Back Up Gun (BUG) category, but I chose to shoot in SSP (after all, its standard capacity is 10+1 rounds!). This was the first time I have competed using a Glock 26.
Additional gear included my Ares Gear Enhanced Aegis belt, F3 Holsters Slide-Modular holster (love that this works with all of my double-stack Glocks), and no-name kydex double magazine carrier. For magazines, I used Magpul 12 round magazines for the one in my pistol at the start of each stage (with pistol loaded to 10+1) and then factory 10 round Glock 19 magazines for my reloads (figured they would be easier to grab out of the magazine carrier….plus, when I carry a Glock 26, I always carry “longer” spares from a Glock 19 or 17). My Glock 26, like all of my Glocks, is currently equipped with Ameriglo I Dot Pro sights. I used Blazer Aluminum 115 grain FMJ ammunition, and I experienced no malfunctions of any kind during the match. No “shoot-me-first” vest for this match; it was cold enough that I started in a jacket and switched to a fleece vest when it warmed up a bit.
I would not describe the stages as overly challenging, sort of what-you-see-is-what-you-get. The furthest shots were about 15 yards, there were no moving or pop-up targets, and there was not much movement required of the shooters. The biggest challenges were two stages made up entirely of shooting from the prone (one of these stages required all shots to be made strong-hand-only), and then there were a fair amount of “no-shoot” targets/hard cover targets that had to be negotiated.
Stage One—Stage One involved some close range shots from the sitting position at three targets and then some quick movement to some barrels around which one had to shoot five more targets. I had three hits in the “down one” zones with the rest in the “down zero” zones, but my overall time was not particularly good. I finished 19th overall (out of 47 shooters).
Stage Two—Stage Two was just shooting through the top 6 ports of a VTAC barricade at three different targets about 30 feet away. Here, I had four hits in the “down one” zones and a not-so-great time, finishing 18th overall.
Stage Three—This stage was shot in two strings around mock ATMs, shooting at five different targets—some of which were partially masked by “no-shoot” targets, from pretty close range (about 5 yards). Here, I clipped two of the “no-shoots”, one on a really bad flinch after my reload, and so ended up 10 points down. I was ranked 26th overall on this stage.
Stage Four—Stage Four involved taking all shots from a position seated at a table. A few of the targets were partially hidden behind barrels, so one had to contort a bit in the chair to be able to hit them all (distance again around 5-6 yards). No errant shots on this stage, but I was not super-fast, so I finished this stage 16th overall.
Stage Five—This stage was the aforementioned stage in which all shots had to be taken from the prone, strong-hand-only, with some of the targets as far as 10 yards away and with several “no-shoot” targets to be avoided. Our protagonist was off on a few shots (12 points down), but finished this stage 7th overall, which should tell the reader something about how often others practice their single-handed work.
Stage Six—Stage Six also required all of the shots to be taken from the prone (two-handed) out to 15 yards at three different, partially obscured targets. I was 5 points down in this stage, hitting some “down one” zones, but finished 9th overall.
In the final standings, I finished 12th overall out of 47 shooters. In the SSP division, which is how I typically judge myself, I finished 4th out of 23 shooters. So I was basically in the top quarter both overall and in SSP. What most impressed me was that I did this with a Glock 26 in SSP, where most of my fellow competitors were using Glock 34s, Smith and Wesson M&P Pros, larger CZs, etc.
In just general observation looking at my fellow competitors, some were soup sandwiches. I never saw so many malfunctions at a match before. One shooter in my squad had a 1911 that often failed to go into battery on reloads, one CZ consistently misfed on the last round of a magazine (worn magazine spring?), one guy with a Sig 226 had his magazine fall out a few rounds into each magazine (bumping the magazine release?), and one guy was shooting crummy reloads that would not cycle his Glock 34 (to his credit–and our amusement–he shot the entire match racking the slide after EVERY round he fired….meaning he did this over 100 times! He didn’t even finish last in the match!). There was also one shooter in my squad shooting a Glock 17 who shot pretty accurately, but had such a low master grip that his pistol generated a lot of muzzle flip, and guess what happened when it was time for those strong-hand-only shots: limp-wristed, resulting in several stoppages.
The funny thing is that I often hear the competitors at this club talk about all of their tinkering: with recoil spring weights, powder charges on their reloads, etc., presumably all in an effort at some competitive edge. It seems to me if they left well enough alone they would be ahead of the game.
Overall, I am very pleased with my performance at this match. There were really only two shots (that hit the two “no-shoots” in Stage Three) that I really screwed up, and knew it as soon as I fired. The ten seconds I lost on those two shots would not have affected my place in SSP, but would have placed me 10th overall. Oh well. What most pleased me was my performance with the Glock 26. I have often said that I shoot it about as well as my Glock 19s, and this would appear to be at least some evidence of that phenomena. Some of my fellow squad-mates seemed surprised that I was doing so well with it. I am not sure if they expected the short barrel of the 26 to be putting rounds into the dirt at 15 yards, but I hope not! I hold myself to the same standard with the 26 as any of my other handguns.
Though it is possible I will shoot in another match this year, with the weather changing and family/holiday obligations, this seems unlikely. Whenever it is that I shoot my next match, I plan to use my under-utilized Glock 17 for a change of pace.
As always, thanks for reading. If you have any questions or comments, please post them below or on our Facebook page, as we welcome civil discourse.