Tuesday, May 6, 2014

"May the Fourth" USPSA Match

The Fredericksburg Practical Shooters had some Star Wars fun with their "May the Fourth Be With You" match theme. The monthly match was also a special "classifier match," so four standards stages were set up in addition to three field courses. It was a fun match, with very challenging stages. It was also one of those rare days for the infamously hot Fredericksburg range as there was a constant breeze and moderate temperatures.

The first stage our squad shot was Stage 6 "There Is No Try." The course of fire consisted of 10 paper targets, with a few only partially visible in narrow windows. I felt confident going into the stage, ran it well, and felt good at the end. In fact, with 13 A and 7 C hits, it would turn out to be my best run of the day — finishing the stage 6th out of 47 Production shooters. Unfortunately that performance wouldn't be repeated this day.

Next up was the first Classifier of the day, CM 06-06 "Golden Bullet Standards." This is a typical "shoot six, reload, shoot six" stage, requiring the use of both strong and weak hand shooting. In what would turn into the the mantra for the day, I finished by exclaiming, "Aaargh, a Mike." (Hint: Watch the front sight.) Things would get slightly better on the next stage, CM 99-24 "Front Sight 2." No Mikes or Deltas here, but the 5 C hits with 7 A's kept the score down, but still was my second best stage finish. (Hint: Slow down.)

Golden Bullet Standards

Another field course, called "YT-1300" was up next. This course included a stomp plate which activated a slow swinger. The fairly straightforward course required a bit of two-step at the end to engage the last four targets, with some careful stepping off the box while staying inside the free-fire area. Again, a couple of misses and a lot of C hits hurt my overall score. (Hint: Settle the gun when coming into position.) Next up was a newer classifier stage CM 13-03 "Short Sprint Standards." This course has more movement than a typical classifier, with more distance involved too. For the first string shoot six shots on six targets, reload and move to the next box and reengage the targets strong hand only. The second string is similar with shooting weak-hand only after the reload and move. (Hint: Practice weak-hand shooting.)

The next field course, "Sarlacc Pit" had some minimally exposed and distant shots, and an unusual activator. While running to final shooting position, the shooter pushed through a bar across the lane that activated a clamshell target. You had the option of shooting the briefly exposed target on the move, or going for the exposed head-only area from a closer standing position. I had thought to try a shot on the move but experienced an unusual malfunction while reloading when about to hit the activator. As I was watching the magazine go into the magwell, I spied a round popping out of the top of the mag. I came to a stop to remove the magazine and shake out the loose round.

The final stage of the day was CM 03-07, "Riverdale Standards." Three strings, shooting freestyle, strong hand only, and weak hand only, from a close distance, on open targets should have provided a good opportunity to rack up a high score classifier. Alas, it was not to be. If I recall, my misses on this stage were the freestyle shots, not the single-hand shots. (Hint: Don't move off the target too fast.)

Photo Courtesy of P. Begovich

Despite not shooting as well as I would have liked, the match really was a lot of fun. I was very happy with my planning and execution of those plans on the field courses. I felt good getting into position to shoot. I just wasn't paying attention to the sights as well as I should have. It's quite a contrast to last week's Walnut Ridge match when I shot much better. I suspect I'll end up with one classifier score that will help my average, one that will maintain status quo, and two that just won't count. Still, any day on the range beats any day just about anywhere else. (And I have an excuse to hit the practice range more.) Overall, an excellent time was had, and I even met some new friends. Naturally, the beer at the end of the day was a welcome treat as always!

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