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Cavalry Arms 2009 Arizona Independence Day Rifle Match

July 6, 2009

Cav Arms held their Annual Independence Day match at the Phoenix Rod & Gun club this last Saturday. As always, it was a fun match and, as always, the early July heat made us all wish the 4th of July was in November.

Tim Milkovich and I were squadded together; he shot Tac-Scope and I shot Tac-Iron, giving you – my venerable viewer – a great chance to see the differences in stage execution for these two different rifles. Thanks to Tim for letting us put him up on the webpage. And special thanks to the guys at Cav Arms, who once again put on a great match. And, finally, congrats to Mark Hanish for his overall win!

Stage 1 had the shooter engage MGM swingers from a barricade and prone at 200-300 yards, run forward 100 yards and engage the targets from over and under the bench. Here you get to see some good contrast in shooting styles, especially at the start of the stage. Note how I rest the rifle on the handguard with the magazine up against the barricade. I also reverse kneel, getting my right knee up to support my right elbow. Tim on the other hand has a much higher position, resting the magazine on the barricade and not using reverse kneeling. My position is built for comfort, offering better stability for each shot. Tim’s position is built for speed, allowing for faster transitions between targets. This stage was a good example of the dangers of iron sights. I start on a 300 yard target that I could barely see, even worse when looking through the peep sight. Nothing to do but fire shots at where I think the target is. Some fairly sloppy shooting here on my part.

When I run down range, note how I hold the rifle in my right hand, keeping the muzzle down range. Most of the shooters ran holding the pistol grip in their primary hand and the handguard in their support hand with the muzzle pointed to the support side. While that is certainly the “tactical” way to do it, there is a great danger of breaking the 180, especially on a 100-yard dash. If this match had been a USPSA/IPSC event, a good half of my squad would have gone home for a 180 violation when running. A good example of the difference between rifle matches and the rifle in the real world.

Finally a note on breathing. The shooter had to engage 8 fairly technical shots after the 100-yard dash. You still have to control your breathing and try to shoot during your respiratory pause. You can hear me exhale into that pause before I start shooting, especially when I drop down into prone.

Stage 2 required engagement of 4 plates at 100 yds from Box A; 6 IPSC metric targets and a steel body with cutout flash targets at 50 and 100 respectively from box B; and re-engagement of the 4 plates from Box C. The shooting was freestyle. Tim and I elected to go prone at each box. Some shooters shot kneeling from box B which was a mistake as their shooting was a LOT slower, although they did get out of the box slightly faster.

Tim and I both have the same failings on this stage. Our rifles both shoot high at 100 (mine about 3.5 inches, Tim’s is probably 1.5 inches). I believe every miss was right over the top of the target. Also note our feet, we should have those ankles flat! Having your feet stick up in the air is a target indicator in the real world, and also makes this position slightly less stable. Don’t believe me? I didn’t until Kyle Lamb proved it to me. There is less gun movement if the ankles are flat.

One final note, watch my run in Box C. The RO calls a hit on the third plate when it was actually a miss, but I nearly instantly pick it up. My shooting is driven by what I see – not so much what the RO calls. I called a bad shot and was busy sending another one when he called hit. You’ve got to read the sights. Obviously pay attention to the RO as they have the say on what is a hit, but your shooting should be driven by what you are seeing. If you rely on the ROs, you will be behind the curve.

Stage 3 was a great and unique stage, one where I got more in penalties than the time I took to shoot the stage. I thought about trying this offhand but chickened out (which was a good call). This stage was all about knowing your offsets, which are greater at the closer distances than at 25 yards. In fact all my penalties were earned at the 20-25 yard targets because I was holding too high.

Note the difference in shooting styles as Tim once again rests the magazine on the barricade and I rest the handguard.

This was the hose-fest of the match. Note how we both “drive the gun.”  Tim and I elect to go a different way at the start of the stage. I went to the right first as I felt that lined me up better on the third array (the 1st array engaged to the right after entering the hallway). Tim does have to twist his body around when he comes to the 3rd array from the right side, but since he shot the stage faster than me, I can’t say my way was better. Tim also shot more targets on the move, better for this match as it is a “2 hits anywhere” scoring system. However, since I’m getting ready for the European rifle (an IPSC match), I’m trying to shoot points. Speaking of the European rifle, I had better watch those safety angles. While I was well within the 180 while moving between the 1st and 2nd shooting arrays, I might not have been within some tight Euro-style safety angles.

I saw several issues with the newer shooters on this stage. First, many of them tried to move faster than they could shoot, leading them to get all tangled up on the 180 and oftentimes forcing them to back up. Second, many of the shooters felt the need to put their muzzles into the barrels when engaging the 1st and 2nd arrays. Note only is the time consuming, it is FREAKING loud! Stay back away from the ports and shoot through them as opposed to climbing up inside them, if possible. Finally, several shooters chose to rest their rifles on the barrels though the port. The targets were only 25 yards away and could easily be engaged offhand. Using rests can be a good thing but here it was unnecessary and a terrible time killer. Plus it is FREAKIN loud!

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