I really did not think I would be shooting another match this year, but a friend asked me if I would be shooting this particular match and, if so, if I’d like to carpool, so I said what the heck? By Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend, I figured I could use a break from everyone at home.
The match consisted of 7 total stages, many of which had a “Thanksgiving” theme. A few of the stages were even repeats of stages that were in the match I shot last year around Thanksgiving.
One thing different with this match versus every other match I have ever shot is that I had someone come to watch me shoot. The person in question is an experienced shooter (experienced gunfighter, technically), a true “been-there, done that” guy who is taking on something of a mentor role for me. Suffice is to say, for now, that my “training” in 2019 may start to look a bit different from past years. In fact, it already has as some new opportunities have opened to me. More on that at a later date. I mention all of this because I talked with him a lot during the match and so never got the chance to take any photos. So my apologies if this article is a bit less visually appealing than usual. I did not feel extra “nerves” by having him there (no rapid heartbeats, etc.), but I definitely shot poorly most of the day. I chalk it up to turkey coma and perhaps too much chat and not enough “visualization” between stages.
I chose to shoot in the Compact Carry Pistol (CCP) category again for this match. I have outlined in some of the prior match descriptions from this year, linked above, why I have been shooting in CCP more than SSP of late (basically, a lower threshold when shooting the Classifier, which is often included as stages in matches). Also, now that my two third generation Glock 19s have been modified (an article will soon follow), they no longer qualify for SSP anyway (I have other options if I want to shoot in SSP). I used my OD Glock 19 as primary. It is equipped with Ameriglo I Dot Pro sights, a Glock factory Glock 17 trigger, and grip tape on top of the slide. I used my Wilderness Instructor belt, my no-name kydex double magazine carrier, and an outside the waistband holster still-to-be-reviewed. I used Glock factory magazines and used Blazer Aluminium 115 grain FMJ ammunition.
It had been quite cold the two days prior (below freezing), but luckily warmed up a bit for Saturday. Rain threatened, but again our luck held and it did not start raining until we were cleaning up after finishing our last stage.
The first stage was a stage that we, of late, have been shooting at every match and is generally referred to as the “warm-up stage”. It consists of three strings of fire, each using three rounds (two to the body and one to the head), all from the draw. It is done from 10 yards two-handed, 7 yards strong-hand only, and from 5 yards support hand only. I started the match well, shooting this in 9.43 seconds. I pulled two shots outside the down zero zones, so my score was 11.43 seconds, 3rd of 43 overall.
Stage Two had each participant beginning in the supine position, head downrange with a boxing heavy bag on top of the shooter. On the buzzer, the participant would discard the heavy bag, retrieve his or her handgun from the deck, and engage multiple targets (I believe there were six) with three rounds each strong-hand only. This stage was also one of my better ones, and I finished 8th overall out of 43.
Unfortunately, the wheels came off the wagon between stages two and three. Stage three involved shooting from the prone as if defending/protecting someone on the ground on whom we were positioned (we used the aforementioned heavy bag to the person we were protecting). I recall doing quite well during this same stage a year ago, but this time I could not get comfortable, and something about my positioning just wasn’t working. When I tried to get a good sight picture, something about the positioning of my eyes vis-à-vis my eye protection had me seeing a double image of my sights, one above the other. I then rushed my shots, flat-out missing one of the targets twice. I finished this stage a whopping 36th out of 43 overall. Not good.
The fourth stage was a quick, fun one and was the only one that involved any real movement. We started seated and had to engage three targets from the seated position, and then got to move to some stacked barrels and had to engage 5 more targets. I finished this stage down only one point but still only finished it 23rd out of 43. Guess I was a little too slow!
Stage Five involved a VTAC barricade which I typically handle well but struggled with on this occasion. Three targets downrange and each had to be hit once each from each of the top six cutouts in the barricade (so 18 hits total, 6 on each target). Somehow I managed to only load 8 rounds in my pistol at the start, and so then I had to reload when I was not expecting it. That error was then compounded when I lost track of which hole I was shooting through and then completely missed one of the holes. In short, I was a soup sandwich on this one. Despite procedural errors, I still finished 18th out of 43 overall. Clearly, others struggled at the VTAC as well. Indeed, just in my squad, I saw a lot of people struggle to get low to shoot from the bottom two holes, some taking ten-plus seconds to find a position that would work for them.
Stage Six was the IDPA abbreviated classifier, otherwise known as the Bill Wilson 5×5. A 25 round course of fire shot in four strings, this would be my highlight of the day. With the IDPA target set up at 10 yards, the strings consist of, from the draw: 5 shots two-handed; 5 shots strong-hand only; 5 shots two-handed with a slide-lock reload and then 5 more rounds two handed; and the final string is 4 shots to the body and one to the head. In the past, when shooting this drill, I have found that if I have any hits outside the down-zero zone on the first string then I’ll never make the time I am seeking. Sure enough, I had one hit in the down-one zone after the first string. I shot the next two strings cleanly, and then missed one of the chest shots in string four on the way to the head shot. So I finished in 20.24, with the two down-one hits making it 22.24. This was enough to be 3rd overall in the match, and was also enough to now have me classified as Expert!
Stage Seven was a stage shot entirely from the seated position, having to move just a bit on the chair in order to hit a few of the targets that were partially hidden behind barrels or no-shoot targets. Here I put one shot into “hard cover” in on one of the targets and should have taken a make-up shot. So I ended up down five for that, and then two other down-ones had me down 7. I finished this stage 28th out of 43 overall, which was really inexcusable on my part.
I finished the match 18th out of 43 overall, so somehow I still managed to finish in the upper half. It has reached the point, however, where I feel like I should be finishing in the top quarter. This just wasn’t my day. I fired 119 rounds in this match.
The silk lining of this match was my performance on the Classifier. I am very happy to finally reach Expert (I actually came close to “Master” on this Classifier), but was mostly displeased about the rest of my performance. The two stages I did best on involved nothing but drawing and firing. The fact that I can now do that pretty well suggests that I should start gearing my training in other directions. So, 2019 should be an interesting training year.
This will probably be my last match of the year, but there is a chance I will shoot another before year’s end. If I do, of course, you will all know about it. As always, thanks for reading. If you have any questions or comments, please make them below or on our Facebook page, as we always welcome civil discourse. I can be reached for private questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.