As usual, I shot this match on staff day (Friday) and worked Saturday and Sunday. (This year, I was working chrono, which will be the topic of future posts and podcasts, but we’ll leave that for another day.)
Coming into this match, I wasn’t feeling particularly trained up. I’d only shot about 5,000 rounds all year, and had no consistent dry fire schedule. To be honest, it was hard to summon the motivation to work hard at a sport that I saw as going so badly off the rails as the year went on. Since announcing my run for Area 6 Director, the motivation to practice has returned because it feels like there will hopefully be a future for the sport worth investing time in.
I was able to dry fire four times a week for two weeks leading up to the match, but even that was barely enough to get some basic gun handling smoothed out. It certainly didn’t hurt, and I shot as well as I could have hoped given everything.
I still have a fondness for Production and hope it can one day be a popular division again with some changes to the rules, but the writing was on the wall where the competition was at this match. Rather than excel in a relatively uncompetitive division, I committed to shooting this match in Carry Optics. So far, just putting a dot on an EGW dovetail mount on a Stock 2 has worked well and nothing has come loose, making this as close to a “stock” CO gun as it can be, no milling of the slide required.
I did have some issues leading up to the match with flat point and truncated cone bullets feeding out of the extended magazines with the Grams followers, but switching to round nose Blue Bullets cured that, and I honestly didn’t think about it once all match, and the gear ran without issue.
My magazines are a mix of Henning +3 and +6 basepads. I find the +3 basepads, which he makes for IPSC Standard, are faster and more consistent to reload (especially given my years of Production muscle memory), so I reloaded to them whenever I could. There were two stages at this match that I reloaded to the 23 rounder, but only when I needed the rounds and had a longer distance to move while doing it (stages 2 and 9).
Our first stage of the day. Normally I would be first on the first stage, but I had just gotten off two hours of running chrono for all the staff before the shooting started and needed a break to get into the mindset of shooting. This was a 20 round stage with all open targets not that far away, so the 6 charlies are a bit much. I decided not to take the shortcut from the middle position to the end as most shooters did, thinking I could shoot on the move out of that position and coming into the next one, but my run ended up about two seconds off the pace. It would probably have been faster just to hammer the close targets and then haul ass. One of the themes of this match is that my movement when not shooting is leisurely at best, which is definitely something for me to work on if I want to keep up in a fast division with very little time spent reloading.
Another stage where I would have been happy with the shooting if the points were better. But dropping 2 deltas for no reason at all was frustrating. I was three seconds off the stage winner as well, but that would be tolerable if the points were good. The only really “lost time” was the miss on the mini popper. Otherwise, my shooting is just lacking a general sense of urgency.
Delta on the first target, starting to move the gun as I break the second shot. The misses on the first array of mini-poppers were from pulling the trigger with my whole hand. I realized it and corrected it for the second array which is why I went one-for-one on them.
I knew I wanted a stage plan that let me avoid crossing back and forth across the shooting area, and settled on this one, thinking it would let me stay shooting the most. I visualized careful setup on the target right along the 180 to the right and the target right after it, and I got what I visualized. Careful but slow. When planning stages I tend to under-estimate how long it takes to hit a precise spot to shoot a target like those two, which I need to remember going forward. A more forgiving plan where you don’t have to thread a needle as finely is going to be a faster plan.
One delta on this stage, on a target I was walking in on, in this case the guy in the middle between the two tight walls. Similar issue with one of the deltas on Stage 8. Something with my timing and shooting on the move is leading to these un-called Ds. Something to work on.
Other than that, this stage went pretty well, and was my highest percentage finish of the match. This stage turned out to be more of a memory stage than I intended when I designed it, so I treated it like one. I picked a plan where I could just go to each position and shoot the targets I could see from that spot and minimize dividing up arrays, so it was easy to know when I was done with one section of the stage. I can’t say this was the best plan, but given the time I had on the stage, it worked.
This one went pretty much according to plan, with the exception of carrying too much momentum into the last position. I can’t say when the last time is that I’ve shot a box-to-box stage like this, but in my mind there was definitely more ground to cover than there actually ended up being. I knew I had picked up my foot before breaking the shot, but both ROs called the foot fault, which is just how it goes. Ultimately it’s on me for putting them in that position to have to make a tough call like that. If I’d planned to be more controlled entering that position, it never would have been an issue.
This was a stage that emphasized explosive, precise movements, which again I’m pretty lacking in. So just holding on and racking up alphas was the best I could do.
I was early on this stage and chose a fairly safe plan where I shot the bobber on the first exposure to avoid the chance of having to wait on it. I think the plan was generally sound. I shot a charlie above the A zone and a delta below the A zone, giving me 4 out of the available 10 points on that target, without any real idea where my shots went. Something I’ve definitely been struggling with this year are bad hits on movers. For whatever reason, I’m either behind or ahead of the target and shooting either bad points or mikes.
The mike on this stage was the last shot, into the barrel. I called it bad and got trigger freeze trying to shoot the makeup. In my head I was thinking that was too long to give up and so I didn’t try a second time to take the makeup shot. But on a 5 hit factor stage as this ended up being for me, a mike is worth 3 seconds. I could have take then .8 to shoot another alpha and still come out way ahead.
This one went pretty well, throwing the magazine on the reload notwithstanding. I definitely was shooting very controlled even on the open targets, with basically the same splits on partials and opens. Being able to throttle up and hammer the open targets harder would be good area to work on.
This stage also went fairly well. If I could do it again, I would draw to the paper on the right, transition to the paper in the middle, shoot the mini poppers, and keep the gun on the left side of the range for the two targets against the left berm. That would probably have saved a little time. Other than that, just being tuned up with the gun and confident shooting faster would have been the only real improvement I could make.
Interestingly, as often happens with me, my final finish percentage was higher than all but one of my stage percentages. I didn’t do particularly well on any one stage, but was relatively consistent across the match. My focus this year, in what limited practice I have done, has been on gripping the gun harder and being able to return the gun faster and shoot follow-up shots with more confidence. I saw moments of that in this performance, but I was definitely not as prepared as I could have been for shooting this. In many ways, this match is actually very motivating to get back to practicing more and be prepared for some of the matches in the spring.