Skip to content

Arizona Independence Day Rifle Match – Stage 3

July 21, 2011

Stage 3 was the “hoser” of the match. Lots of close range paper targets. However there were a lot of no shoots too! Many of the targets, could only be engaged in the head (A/B zone) or even just a sliver of the head w/ no shoots covering the rest. The shooter had 3 ports and some of the targets could be seen through more than one port so you had to be careful to not reengage. Note that the shooter could start pointed at the target making for a speedy first shot.

I do have a good run on this one. You obviously have to compensate for the hold off (holding high for every shot to compenstae for sight offset.) The 1st target, I put 1 A in the body as I could guarantee it was a A but on all the other body shots, I take 2 shots. I even take 3 shots on the 1st target through the last port as I did not like the sight picture on the 1st shot (I was afraid it was too low.) But on all the head shots I only take 1 shot if I call it good. So the cadence on this stage is a bit different with single shots followed by pairs and vice versa.

Mike and I talked about this stage quite a bit. I think I am getting time over the other guys in 2 ways. First, I drive the rifle more aggressively between both the targets and the shooting ports. Second, I shoot the approach method for many of these shots. When I see the reticle crossing where it needs to go, I fire. The other guys wait for the reticle to settle and then shoot. To quote Bennie Cooley, I am shooting sooner not necessarily faster. That way my rifle is staying in motion as opposed to settling down. Mike’s other problem is that his biceps are just too big.

Mike and Keith start right and go left whereas Grant and I start left and go right. I’m not sure that made a difference or not. I’d liked to have it several times both ways.


Arizona Independence Day Match – Stage 2

July 21, 2011

Stage 2 offered the shooter a choice. If the shooter carried/drug the ammo can from station to station, he could have unlimited ammo. If the shooter chose not to deal with the ammo can, they could have ONLY 15 rounds for the 15 required hits. The targets were mini-steel IPSC targets at a little under 50 yards. A miss cost 10 seconds. whiel it was doable to go 15 for 15, I chose the safe (or cowardly??) way. Good call as I needed some makeup shots. Note how most of us do use the props as rests as the shots are much more difficult. I believe Mike and I are both safety “manipulators” who go to safe between every movement. I’m not sure about Keith. Both Mike and I get sloppy on the last target.

Mike’s malfunction was a dud primer which he QUICKLY clears. Note there is no hestitation on how to clear the rifle, it just happens.

AZ Independence Day Rifle Match – Stage 1

July 21, 2011

Stage 1 required that the shooter start with only 10 rounds in the magazine and then the shooter must shoot from a series of six shooting areas. It required 2 shots each on 3 A/C zone sized steel targets at 50 yards. While my score was good for the stage my shooting was a bit sloppy with 3 make up shots which is unacceptable for targets of that degree of difficulty. This costs me the standing reload at the last shooting area. Mike has a good run too and is clearly better at negotiating the obstacle. I get my time on him at a couple of spots. First, I go with 2 mags in a Safariland mag clip. This gives me a faster reload and really saves me for that standing (actually lying down!) reload at the last station. Second, I don’t mess with the props as rests due to the relative ease of the shots. Props can really be your friend but they do slow you down. Finally, I shoot from unsupported kneeling (basically just offhand but instead of standing I’m on my knees) from the 5th position while Mike goes prone. Prone is more much more accurate but slower. And I am able to quickly get to the next shooting station slightly faster.

3 more observations: First, note how aggressive Mike’s shooting stance is! Second, I manipulate the safety when moving between positions. Finally, I should be getting that knee down on the last station.

Blue Ridge 3 Gun

May 14, 2011

The latest Blue Ridge 3 Gun Match finished up on May 1, 2011 at the lovely Rockcastle Shooting Center. I was fortunate enough to win the Tac Iron (really Tac Limited Division). I used pretty much the same equipment as Superstition Mtn except I shot a different rifle: a 20 in JP upper with a Pris on a DSA lower with a Magpul UBR stock and a VTAC sling. Everything worked great except I had a couple of shotgun malfunctions. Sorry, no vids.

It is funny that Blue Ridge is only a month after SMM3G. it is really a polar opposite to SSM3G. SMM3G is more of a drag race with a scoring system which really favors speed, glorious speed over everything else. It also has some short stages, weighted at 100 points, which means that anything that goes wrong just hammers the shooter. Blue Ridge is more of a marathon, a marathon which favors accuracy. Andy Horner really sets up the most technical 3 gun match currently out there. Horner scoring requires that the shooter shoot mostly As. But beyond that, Blue Ridge presents the shooter with a host of fairly challenging pistol targets (small plates at anywhere from 15 to 25 yards, larger plates out to about 75 and paper targets out to about 30 or so), LOTS of shotgun no shoot problems (modified or full choke for this match), and rifle shots out to over 500. The only thing lacking is flying clay for shotgun.

Working the Bianchi plates (10, 15, 20, and 25 yards) as opposed to hosing down paper is the way I prepared for the pistol shooting. Slow down and get your hits!

I prepared for the rifle shooting by shooting Virginia count drills at MGM lollipops at 200 and 300 meters from supported offhand, reverse kneeling, and prone. A 300 meter lollipop is a TOUGH target with a 1X Pris but it gets you ready for what Andy has in store with you.

I also shot some of the excellent set of standards presented last year with lots of rifle/pistol transitions and paper targets at 200 and 300 for the rifle. Too bad there were no standards this year.

For shotgun, I just practised loading and I checked my choke patterns on the patterning board. Not much shooting.

This is a match where it is really difficult to shoot clean. Tricky target presentations, tight shotgun no shoot problems, blind stages in a pitch black cave, etc, etc. means that few if anyone will actually shoot a clean match. Daniel even got bit by penalties. You have to accept that you are going to get some and keep fighting through the match. I shot SMM3G clean. At Blue Ridge, I had 2 missed rifle targets, a shotgun no shoot, a slug miss, and a fail to engage pistol target (in the cave) and I won my division!

While most of the major 3 gun matches have their charms, Blue Ridge is currently my favorite one.

AAR – Viking Tactics Nightfighter Course

April 7, 2011

On April 1-3, I attended the VTAC Nightfighter course in Surprise, Az. The instructors were the ever popular Kyle Lamb and Dan Brokos (who I had not met before).  The class consisted of a little over 20 students, all of whom were pretty highly skilled and vetted prior to taking the class (and thank God for that given the advanced nature of the course).  Most were law enforcement.  I shot about 1400 rounds of 5.56 and 300 rounds of 9mm.

First off, the level of instruction was absolutely top notch.  Both Kyle and Dan were excellent instructors. The concepts of the class were clearly articulated and demonstrated (I for one can’t stand instructors who don’t demonstrate.)   There was an excellent balance of pushing students and providing positive feedback.  Kyle is a big believer in pushing students to “where the wheels fall off,” which gives them a good sense of their limits.

Day one consisted of the arbitrary zeroing of the rifle.  Then Kyle had us perform some standards type exercises.  The basic drill consisted of shoot at the VTAC bullseye target: 10 rounds prone at 100, run to 75, 10 rounds sitting at 75, run to 50, 10 rounds kneeling at 50, run to 25, 10 rounds standing at 25.  We did the drill both strong and support side.  When it got dark, we started doing basic drills with the rifle, learning how to manipulate the flashlight.  Drills consisted of advancing from 20 to 15 to 10, shooting every 5 yards.  We also did the 2X2X2 drill both in the daytime and in the dark with our lights. We also went over flashlight techniques with the pistol (with Kyle having his own technique for handheld lights) and finished up with shooting sans light.

Day 2 left the standards behind and we began to shoot scenario based drills, first doing the drill in the daytime and then at night.  We started out in the daytime working nearly every possible shooting position with the rifle both around some cars and VTAC barricades.  Then we commenced to doing drill in and around the cars, again during daylight.  Then came the dark!  We fired some pretty challenging drills in and around the cars in the dark. One common theme was offsets.  Most everybody, including myself, shot the cars when hugging them as cover –  but I did not hit a tire!  Another common theme was switching weapons, especially the rifle from one side to another.  This greatly improves the ability of the shooter to maximize cover.  The most difficult shooting problem encountered was shooting under the car with the rifle in the dark.  The problem was that the light would pretty much illuminate the underside of the car and not the target which was about 25 yards away.  The shooter had to really get the rifle under the car so the light would illuminate the target and not reflect back from the undercarriage to blind the shooter.   We also commenced with one handed drills, meaning the shooter would have to manipulate his weapon systems with just one hand – very challenging stuff.  The range was divided into 3 scenarios and the shooters would work though each 2 or 3 or even 4 times with Kyle and Dan coaching.

Day 3 continued with drills focused with shooting in and around cars.  We began by shooting car doors and windows to see the effects that various projectiles had.  I can say 3 things about this.  1) It is largely unpredictable what a bullet will do when striking a car 2) BUT bonded bullets and heavy bullet performed better than lighter and/or unbonded bullets 3) if shooting in and around a car, shoot A LOT!  On Day 3, we began to engage targets through our own windshields.  My advice: 1) wear plugs and muffs 2) Keep Shooting! I did not get thorugh the windshield until about the 3rd or 4th shoot with my AR.  The drills became more complex ending with a drill from hell wherein the shooter engaged a wide variety of targets from both in and around the cars.

I have several observations taken from this class

1) The 1st the impact of competitive shooting on the tactical world.  Whether or not the tactical oriented like it. Many (if not most) of the actual shooting techniques taught by guys like Kyle have their genesis in competitive shooting. This is NOT to say that just because you are a good competitor that you are all of a sudden some sort of warrior.

2) I shot 3 optics in the class to compare them: a Leupold Prismatic (my sight from SMM3G), a Leupold CQBSS 1-8X, and an Eotech.  Result?  In the daytime inside of 50 yards, I thought the Prismatic was best.  At night inside of 50 yards, I would give a slight edge to the Eotech, but only if shooting positions wherein the rifle got really pushed away from the eye.  Past 50?  The CQBSS ruled day or night, especially at night as its higher twilight factor kicked in.  When shooting 6 in plates at 50 illuminated with a flashlight, the Pris and the Eotech became problematic.  Not so with the CQBSS set on 2X or 3X.  Of course, the CQBSS was not as easy to use when shooting some of the more unique positions required by the class.

3) I used several lights through the course of the class.  Several Surefires and 2 Leupolds.  My X300 mounted on my CZ SP01 died at a VERY inopportune moment but Dan hooked me up with his for the next drill.  (Thanks Dan!) The Leupold lights were excellent, being both very bright and adjustable. Their switches were slightly easier to use than my Surefires when shooting both mounted on the rifle or when being handheld in conjunction with the pistol.  Brighter too.  I varied my light mount on the rifle several times throughout the class, settling on the Leupold in a VTAC mount on the right side as my favorite.

4) I shot Hornady 55 grain steel cased training ammo for the rifle.  It functioned flawlessly EXCEPT for 1 failure to fire.  I shot a combination of handloads and 125 grain HAP Hornady training ammo in my pistol.  I did not have any trouble with the factory ammo (can’t say the same for the handloads, 2 of which were oversized and jammed up my SP01).  I did the car penetration tests with Hornady 75 grain TAP.   One penetrated the rear window and broke into 4 pieces which penetrated the front windshield.  The second one penetrated two car doors and placed a nice hole in an IPSC target.

5) I have been experimenting with JPs EZ drop in trigger on my tactical lower.  So far it has been through several matches, a Mike Pannone class and a now this class for a total of about 4000 rounds. I can report flawless performance as well as a good trigger squeeze – AND I installed it.  One hears of all sorts of trouble with match triggers in these carbine classes.  I don’t doubt the reporting but I expect that the triggers are installed incorrectly.  I now have 10s of thousands of rounds over match triggers.  I have never had an issue with a JP with American primers – but I’ve broken 2 Timneys with only about 1000 rounds or so.  I have one JP trigger set really light which does not reliably fire the Russian primers on Hornady’s training ammo.

6) When shooting your carbine one handed, you feel every ounce!

7) The rifle should be as slick as possible if you are going to be shooting it sideways

8) It is funny to be an IPSC shooter at these kind of classes.  I DON’T break the 180.  Just can’t do it.  BUT I don’t point my guns at the other students or instructors either – something that many students can’t say.

9) I have never been as bruised up for any other class or match

10) I shot the class with a Tyr Tactical plate carrier with a plate in it.  What a fantastic piece of gear.  It was light, durable and comfortable (or as comfortable as such a thing could be). Highly recommended.

2011 Superstition Mountain Mystery 3-Gun Match

April 2, 2011











SMM3G – Stage 11

March 31, 2011