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2009 FNH USA Midwest 3 Gun Championship

June 9, 2009

On June 5-7, 2009, the FNH USA Midwest 3 Gun Championship was held near Fayette, MO.  I competed in the Tactical Optics Division and ended up being 6th.  I relied on my JP-ized DSA ZM4 (DSA’s AR) with a Leupold 1.5-5X MR/T, my Triangle Shooting Sports modified Benelli M1 12 gauge, and my new CZ Tactical Sport 9mm modified by the CZ Custom shop.  Rifle ammo was handloaded 69 grain Nosler match bullets, shotgun ammo was Remington and Winchester Sporting Clays 7.5 shot, and the pistol ammo was handloaded 125 grain Zero JHPs going about 1100 fps.  All the equipment functioned flawlessly.  It was the 1st time that I used a Safariland AR15 magazine coupler which has come to been an essential piece of kit.

The match consisted of 9 stages, all of which were multigun.  One stage was a multigun stage in which FN provided all three guns, a SCAR, a SLP shotgun and a .45 cal pistol.   While I like “pickup gun” stages,  I don’t care for any sort of technical rifle shooting with a pickup gun.  Zeroes differ between people.  The SCAR on this stage defintely shot high for several of the shooters, including myself.

The next stage we shot required all 3 gun and included the long range portion of the match.  Regrettably, this stage was a disaster for me as I left a shotgun plate standing and had a complete meltdown on the long range rifle, usually one of my strengths.  My rifle was shooting a little low and I could not see or hear the hits so it was tough to adjust.

The next stage was a all shotgun stage in which the shooter activated two throwers which launched a pair and then alternating clays toward the shooter for a totoal of nine clay targets.  Then the shooter engaged 12 static plates on the ground.  This was the “sporting clays” stage of the match.  I enjoy flying clay targets and am glad to see their increased use in three gun matches as I believe three gun should test all the weapons to the outmost limits.  This would obviously include flying clay targets for the shotgun.  Last year DPMS and Rm3G had sporting clays courses (both of which I did poorly on) and I expect that we will be seeing more such courses.  In any event, this stage went pretty well for me as I got 8 of the 9 clay birds. Congrats to Bruce Piatt and David Neth for getting 9 of 9.

The next stage was a rifle pistol combo.  It was a jungle run in which the shooter engaged a series of close range paper targets with the rifle, abandoned the empty rifle in a barrel, did a 90 degree turn and ran down to some pistol targets.  This stage went well with the only issue being the sunlight causing problems on locating one target when I went  throught the stage.  The big debate on our squad was whether to engage the rifle targets while moving or finding a couple of strategically located spots to engage all of them.  I chose to engage them all while moving which seemed the faster way.  No need to run, I just strolled along shooting as targets became visible. This was the last stage on Friday.

On Saturday we started with the 37 round shotgun fest.  While the shooting is important, stages like this are all about reloading.  I started loading 8 strong hand of the side saddle and then switched to support hand loading off PMT caddies.  I am on the pace for the first set of loads but then I have trouble keeping track of the caddies and am often passing by caddies and/or grabbing at empty caddies.   Loading on these big stages is defintely something that I need to work on.

The next stage was a pistol rifle combo.   The shooter started in one bay engaging targets with the pistol then  went to the other bay and engaged some more pistol targets and then transitioned to the rifle engaging plates at 100-200 yards off an ATV and then a tripod of shotting sticks.  While the pistol went well, I was a bit sloppy on the rifle with too many make up shots.

Next up was a pistol shotgun combo.  This was kind of a clever stage in which the shooting was done from chair on a set of tracks.  The pistol targets were engaged 1st and were fairly technical 15-20 yards shots, some with hardcover and no shoots.  The the shooter transitioned to the shotgun and had to move the chair backwards on the tracks about 15 yards to be able to engage all of the targets.  I had a smoking run going until the 1st to last shot.  I shot the plate and saw it go.  But I was mistaken.  From what I’ve been told by the crowd, I hit the plate and spun it like a top on the stand.   I did not notice it until to late and decided not to engage it. 

Spun plates were a real issue in this match. I don’t think I have ever seen so many plates spun, many ending up sideways making them nearly impossible to knock over.  While the match should have had better targets, it is up to the shooter to deal with it.  So I did switch to a modified choke.  Had I had heavier shot, I would have gone to that as well.

The next stage was a 3 gun stage and one of my favorites of the match.  The shooter started with shotgun, engaging 17 or so steel plates with some no shoot plates, transitioned to the pistol to engage 13 or so paper targets and the finished up with the rifle on 14 paper targets intersperced in 10 windows.  Few if any of these targets were completely visible. The rifle targets could not all be engaged from one position.  There were also some metal tubes set up as proprs which many tried to use as an improvised rest.  I enjoyed the rifle part of this stage very much as there was some fairly technical rifle shooting.  I did not use the improvised rest on the left side as you could only  sort of press the rifle up against it, not really offering any true support.  I did use the rest on the right side as it was windy and I could place the rifle on top of the tube, which actually did offer some support.  Doing it again, I’m not sure that I would use any support.  You don’t really need much if any support for shooting offhand 50 yard shots  BUT in match conditions such supports do offer a mental crutch and do help reduce fatigue when shooting a lot of rounds as we did here.  Everything went well except they told me I had a failure to neutralize on the pistol targets.  I did shoot them while moving and there was a  lot of hardcover but I thought I called all the shots as good except one which I made up.  Guess not. 

The final stage was another three gun.  This one started with the rifle engaging a series of targets at about 80-90 yards interspaced amongst a bunch of junked vehicles.  The the shooter transitioned to the shotgun engaging plates (again with pesky no shoots) while moving down range until the stage finished with 14 steel targets for the pistol.  The pistol targets were fairly small and pretty technical, especially after all the excitement of the previous two guns.  As with many other stages this went went well with one hangup.  I got a little aggressive with the shotgun and hit a no shoot.  This stage had a platform which I think the match designed had figured everybody would use.  However by looking at the stage we found  spot that all the targets could be engaged from while prone and requiring less movement but the targets were more obscured. I chose this way which worked out quite nicely.  Another thing that I noticed on this stage was that I engaged the shotgun plates quite differently than everybody else.  I shot while being staitionary and loaded while moving.  Most others did it the opposite.  

I think was the best Midwest 3 Gun that they’ve had yet.  The stages were better than they have been in the past.  The match had some real pistol shooting as opposed to being just a rifle/shotgun match with some pistol thrown in to say it was a 3 gun.  I also like the encroachment of sporting clays into 3 gun.    All in all a great time.

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