Now that the NC Section is done, I got to picking up my Tanfoglio Stock 2s that had been gathering dust while I spent some time with the Glock 17 in Carry Optics. (Don’t worry, I have a post coming with my thoughts on the experience and how it changed my game even coming back to the iron sight guns.)
You might think I was itching to go back to the heavy steel guns after the punishing 9mm recoil in a twenty-something ounce Glock. But the reality is, the main thing I noticed coming back was just how much more substantial the Tanfos felt in hand. It’s a totaly subjective thing, but the Glock just never got to the point of feeling nice in the hand. It is brutally efficient and cost-effective, but it does lack a certain heft and quality that the Itallian Stallions have. It’s totally intangible, but I was excited to dry fire with them again, where the Glock always felt a bit like a chore. Does it shoot any better? Not especially. But there’s something to be said for picking pretty much any viable gun as long as you’re excited about it and motivated to put in the time to improve with it.
So anyway, I wasn’t really all that excited about shooting a low-cap match, so I decided to dust off “Production 15” and register for the match in Limited Minor. My gear would have roughly fit IPSC Production, with no externally visible modifications, gear behind the hip bone, and 15 rounds in my mags. It saved me a reload on most of the stages. But more interestingly, it just meant that on stages like 4, you were able to shoot leaving one position and entering the next one without having to stick a load between. Is that more “interesting” than the “stage planning” that some people claim to enjoy with ten rounds? Not to me, but opinions vary.
First stage of the day, second time I’d been shooting with iron sights in months, so I was confirming the sights a little more than usual, especially on the partial targets in the first half of the stage. In the first position, the safer plan would have been to draw to the steel with the DA trigger pull and then shoot the partial and leave. However, I knew it was very realistic to draw to a close distance, high-risk partial and get two alphas on it without that much real jeopardy. I intended to shift my weight a little more as I was shooting the steel to start to leave, but that didn’t quite happen. I still would have shot that order again though.
And then the second half of the stage was just fun shooting and moving. I knew I was shooting to 14 and didn’t want to sling a bunch of makeup shots, so it all worked out just fine.
This was a 12-round short course of my design. It and Stage 1B were the result of me designing target arrays outside of the permanent plate rack in the bay and then realizing they were better as separate short courses rather than being strung together with a sprint in between. (I will also admit that knowing I didn’t have to stick a load in these was part of the draw for shooting 15 rounds at this match.)
I was genuinely surprised at how many interesting ways there were to run such a “simple” stage. The whole stage hinged on the central array of steel where the big poppers blocked the small one from either end of the shooting area, but it was wide open from the middle. As should always be the way when you design a stage, I had a few different ideas of ways to shoot it, but until I stood there on the ground, I didn’t have my mind up how to shoot it.
I settled on a strategy that emphasized railing fast shots on 3 of the 4 paper from standing, shooting the big poppers rolling out of position, and take the mini and the last paper from the end. I am completely happy with my execution.
This short course didn’t really have as many options since you pretty much shot everything left to right or right to left (with the middle array shot reverse of that). But it tested the specific skills required to execute either the left-to-right or right-to-left stage plan. There were also basically two different approaches to the left array of three targets: open-partial-open and roll out on the last open, or open-open-partial to “ride the recoil” up the stack. I chose the first plan and would stick with it every time. (You may notice this array of an open target next to an open-noshoot-partial stack shows up in my stages fairly regularly. I think it’s a challenging array that offers some interesting options in approaching it, and use it often. Especially in these small bays, having that open-partial stack can add some real interesting shooting without taking up much space.)
The other gotcha of this stage is that the middle “array” was really not one array. The right target was visible half a step from where you shot the left array, and the left target with the no-shoot on it was visible a half step away from where you shot the right hand target. So although this stage on paper looks like three arrays and three positions, it really is more like two wide positions that you roll out of/in to.
I called a bad shot on the first target and went back to make it up before rolling out of position, which put me a little ahead of myself, and on the fourth target, by the time I went to take my second shot, I was losing most of the A zone behind the barrel. I just shot the charlie and moved on, since the time to get the alpha would not possibly be worth it. So in that sense, going too fast cost me points, but not in the usual sense folks mean it.
At least on my squad, the combination of the two stages was a well-liked, unusual challenge. Everyone wanted another shot at one or the other of the short courses, which just serves as yet another reminder that you don’t need 32 rounds, or even 20 rounds to make a challenging, interesting stage.
This was also a stage of my design, a bit of a hail mary attempt to see how much of a field course I could pack into this tiny bay. It turned out fairly well, but I heard the build crew had some challenges getting the angles right.
Aside from the the folks that ran through the barrels and shot the front section left-to-right, pretty much everyone had to run the stage in the same general order. The main choices came down to choosing your target order, hitting the right spots, and blending the middle positions.
My main execution error was right after the reload. My plan was to shoot open-partial-open and start shifting my weight on the last target. As it was, when doing the wide transition, my eye snapped to the open target and I shot it first, meaning I had to stay planted for the partial. That led to pushing out of position a little hot leading to being off balance on my toes for the last two targets. Not ideal, but fine.
The other choice I suppose was whether to shoot the tight lean in the first position first or last. You could move into position, shoot that difficult target, and then unwind from the lean a bit to shoot the rest. Or you could do what I did, which is move in, lean more as I shot, and then just drop step out of position. I don’t find myself doing a lot of drop steps, but this is an instance I deliberately chose it as a strategy (also knowing I didn’t have to reload leaving that position). It worked out as planned.
The fourth target here was the main source of debate, of whether to shoot it on the way back, or to take it while moving forward to the middle of the stage. Walking through the stage, I made the choice that I would shoot the first three targets backing up, and by the time I was done with the third target, the fourth one would only be two steps away. Rather than turning my body just to turn back, I just visualized keeping my hands on the gun, carrying that momentum, and having a little patience until the target came into view, shooting it, and only then turning to move uprange and make the turn around the corner.
You also had the choice to shoot the open paper at that back left position coming into the position or leaving it. It seemed pretty clear to me that I was going to be trailing the gun coming in, so it was better to take it leaving. I also told myself it would give me a chance to be sure the popper was falling before leaving. As you can see in the video, after shooting it, I hesitate and look at the popper, so my plan became a self-fulfilling prophecy. Cost a few tenths, no big deal, but it was less than ideal.
The middle position of the stage went more or less as planned. The only exception is the stupidly risky way I shot the double swinger. I had visualized putting two shots on each target in one pass each. But as you can see, as I transitioned to the swinger, instead of aiming at the target that was coming into view, I tried to squeeze in a shot on the one that was going away. (This is a pattern that will show up later and I need to knock the hell off.) As you can see, I shoot 1-2-1. Even having made the mistake of shooting the one quick shot before the target swung out of view, I should have assumed that shot was a miss and put two shots on it on the second exposure like I had planned. (As it was, it was a lucky delta so I escaped a miss. But I can see how unhelpful my strategy was and how close to disaster it put me.)
The last thing worth noting on this stage is that the last four targets looked on paper like two separate positions. But as you can see from my run, if you moved far enough, you only had a take a step while doing the wide transition between the outside targets and they were basically one position. It doesn’t come up all the time, but often enough it’s worth looking to see if you can skip shooting on the move by just moving a little bit more (while reloading, if you have to) and then post up in one spot and shoot a bunch of targets.
This stage was a bit of a memory stage, and I visualized it as many times as I possibly could. Ironically, somehow I ended up thinking in the second position that I hadn’t shot all 8 shots I was supposed to take from there, thus my hesitation leaving position. Once my conscious mind kicked in, it said to trust the plan and just get out of there.
There were a few different ways to approach the first two positions, but almost all of them benefited from not having to reload between them.
I shot the stage all As, but with 3 makeup shots, which my rule of thumb says adds roughly a charlie’s worth of time. This is a useful heuristic for analyzing stages. Even if you shoot a hard cover mike and make it up with an alpha, you’ve still incurred some extra time that you can’t get rid of.
This stage was pretty wide open, and the 13 shots on the left side certainly presented the option to shoot on the move all the way through, right from the start position. Not being totally confident with the iron sights, and knowing I had 16 rounds in the gun, I opted to just run over, post up, and shift around to get the few targets that were hidden by barrels. I think that was the right play. If I’d had the dot and 23 rounds on tap in the gun, I think shooting almost the whole thing on the move would have been the play (and same goes for Limited and Open, of course).
The middle section required hitting a fairly specific spot and pretty much staying there until you were done shooting. That went well.
The mini-poppers at the end I remember feeling like they were painfully slow. But for being at 15ish yards and shot from a bladed-off stance with 16 rounds to shoot 13, I’m pretty happy with that part of the stage. It could have gone much worse.
This stage I executed pretty much how I visualized it. The first swinger was so fast I was only going for one shot per pass. I will admit being surprised how long it took for the swinger to come out, but there was zero to do except sit there and wait for it.
My plan on the second swinger was to go for two shots on one pass. But like on Stage 3, I got greedy and tried to sneak a shot in while it was mid-swing, rather than just waiting for it to come out and give me a good presentation to execute my plan. Luckily I did put two shots on it after that first one, but still ended up with a charlie and a delta on the perf. Lots of room for improvement.
I need to retrain myself when I see swingers in the match to plan not to try to transition and get a shot off in the middle of a swing. Just move the gun over, get ready for when I get a good full presentation.
CM 09-13 Table Stakes
Not much to say here. The load went okay, but I got the left hand grip was just not quite right after bringing it down. The gun was flipping a lot more than usual, but I was timing it pretty okay. On the very last shot, I was breaking the shot as the gun was coming out of recoil and was just a few hundredths too late as the front sight went from target to no-shoot. Clearly my unloaded starts need some work, but to be honest I wasn’t too worried about it. For my first match back on the gun and the iron sights, I was happy with the overall result.