Things are starting to open up a bit more around here. In addition to the club where I shot a match last month, the club where I shot matches in years past is starting to host matches again as well. So I’ll end up shooting two matches in July: this was the first of those.
This was the second time I shot a match at this particular club (the same club as the match I shot in June). I am really liking shooting at this club. As I outlined last time, we get to begin shooting an hour earlier in the day, and it’s also about 20-30 minutes’ drive closer to my home. It is a big deal to me to get home at 12:30 versus 2:00 PM on a Saturday.
Anticipated high temperatures (near 100 degrees) and relatively high humidity had the Match Director reducing the number of stages for this match from the more typical six stages down to five. No one complained. With a start time at 0900, we were done with shooting AND cleanup by 11:30 and I was home around noon.
Nothing unusual for me here. I chose to shoot in the Compact Carry Pistol (CCP) division, using my usual Generation 3 OD Glock 19, modified as per this article. I used a Bravo Concealment outside the waistband holster, my no-name kydex dual magazine carrier, and used Blazer Aluminum 124 grain ammunition.
The match consisted of 5 total stages, ALL of which were unlimited (meaning that there was no limit to the number of rounds that would be fired). There was movement involved in all of the stages, which is always nice. Regarding the other shooters, I recognized a small handful from the other club at which I shoot matches (and a few from the prior match I shot at this club), but most of the people here were unknown quantities. A quick perusal on Practiscore revealed that of the 36 competitors in this match, 20 were listed as “Unclassified”. Only four, including myself, were listed as “Expert”, and there were no “Master” or higher classes. I was one of only three people who shot in the CCP division; I will just state here that, in that division, I was the highest scorer on every stage and in the match overall.
Stage One was a fun one, and I got to go first in my squad, always a joy on the first stage of the day. On the buzzer, we had to step to the right while drawing and shoot at three targets visible through a doorway. Once stepping beyond (not through, but further along a wall beyond the doorway) we could then see a surprise target, and had to engage that as well. We then had to run around a corner and engage 3 more targets as they appeared in our field of vision. Each target had to be shot twice. I made one mistake in this drill by engaging one target twice (I engaged it through the doorway and then didn’t notice on my walk-through that it would be visible again, so I actually shot it four times, costing me some time). Nevertheless, I finished this stage 2nd out of 36 overall.
Stage Two was a little more complicated in that the scenario involved us in our garage cleaning our gun when attacked by cretins. Our pistols would begin unloaded, slide back, on a barrel in front of us, with one spare magazine alongside (a second could be on the belt). On the beep, we had to load the pistol, engage two targets to our immediate front, then move to the side and engage four more targets through windows/portals. Each target would be engaged with three rounds. Here, my first target off the original load had me group all three shots just a tad low, so I lost three seconds in penalties there (it was a tight group, just low…..no excuse. The targets were only about 7 yards away). In addition, because there were 6 targets that had to be engaged with 3 rounds each, I had to execute one more reload than those shooting SSP, ESP, or CO divisions. I finished this stage 12th out of 36 overall.
Stage Three (I could not get any good photos of this stage) was similar in that we had to pick up our pistols from on top of a barrel. Our reloads were there next to the pistol. The scenario involved picking up “someone else’s” gun (hence why the reloads weren’t already on us), and then moving through three different shooting positions to engage a total of 9 targets with two shots each. I started out by engaging the three targets to my front, then putting one reload in my pouch and just keeping the second in my left hand. I engaged the second group of targets supporting my firing hand as best I could, did my reload, and then engaged the final batch. I fiddled a bit with the stowage of the magazines and my accuracy suffered just a bit as well. I finished this stage 10th out of 36 overall.
Stage Four was fun. On the buzzer we had to shoot a pair of targets from around cover (there was a non-threat target mixed in) about 7 yards away, then move to the side of the cover and engage two more targets (these were quite close, about 3 yards), then advance to a new spot and again shoot around cover at three more targets that each had a non-threat target partially masking it. Each target was to be shot twice. I shot this stage clean (and got my reload in at the perfect time!), finishing 3rd out of 36 overall.
Stage Five was the stage where I had my biggest regret. Here we started in a square on the ground about 9 yards from the first target array. We had to engage two 8 inch diameter steel circles with one round each. Each piece of steel was placed directly in front of a non-threat target (i.e., a miss on the steel and you were almost assured a hit on a non-threat). We would then advance and shoot two more targets in that array (cardboard, not steel), then there were three more arrays of two targets each positioned further downrange and ever increasing distances from our new firing position (which was essentially IN that first array of targets). The furthest targets from us from this new position were about 12-15 yards away and were partially masked by hard cover.
Despite the need to hit the steel, I of course did not take the extra time and missed my first shot right into a non-threat! Do non-threat targets have lead magnets???? This was the case where even taking 3 seconds to line up the perfect shot would have been better than the 5 second penalty that I incurred by hitting the non-threat (plus the additional time to take the make-up shot!). I also wasn’t super accurate on the distance shots during the later part of this stage, with less-than-accurate hits costing me another 7 points. Despite all these issues, I finished this stage 8th out of 36 overall, so clearly this stage was tough for a lot of competitors.
I finished the match 6th out of 36 overall. I fired 89 total rounds in this match. I should note that, of the five competitors who finished higher than me, four, including the overall match winner, were shooting in the Carry Optics division (the one who was not was shooting in the Enhanced Service Pistol [ESP] division and was the overall match winner of my last match). That might cause some to say “Optics are THE way.” However, of the thirty competitors who finished lower than me, ten were shooting in the CO division. Thus, it’s definitely not the gear. Indeed, one of the issues I had was that, on at least two of the stages, I had to execute one more reload than those shooting SSP, ESP, or CO. The rest of the differences were accuracy and executing well-thought-out shooting plans.
I should add that I drank two 20 ounce bottles of Gatorade and about 100 ounces of water during and immediately after (during the drive home) this match. And I still arrived home with a headache!
Overall, this was a fun match. The biggest lesson for me was on that final stage where I should have taken the extra couple of beats to get that first hit on steel (that five second penalty was the difference between me finishing 6th or 5th overall). I have another match this coming week at the venue where I usually shoot, so we shall see how it goes.
As always, thanks for reading. If you have any questions or comments, please post them below or on our Facebook page, as we always welcome civil discourse.