Saturday, April 19, 2014

Introducing a Friend to Practical Pistol

The first match of the year at the Cedar Mountain Youths range was this morning. The group has changed the format somewhat from previous years; the round count is low, there is little movement, and no steel. At first glance, an avid USPSA shooter might think "What's the point?" But giving it more thought, there's an excellent point; it's a good practice match, and also a great way to introduce new shooters to the sport.

To that end, I invited a friend to come out and try his first practical pistol match. Greg has been shooting for a little over a year, with much enjoyment, so I knew he would have a good time. We spent the 30 minute ride to the match going over some rules and procedures. For myself, besides having the pleasure of introducing a friend to the sport, I was looking forward to getting in a little practice. And, of course, just shooting. And what better way to mark Patriot's Day?

The match consisted of 6 stages, all shot Virginia Count, meaning no makeup shots. The first stage was a "Bill Drill" of six shots on the target as fast as you can. The next stage we shot had three staggered targets, each requiring three shots, two to the body and one to the head, with a mandatory reload somewhere during the string. I felt like my first shot was slow, but it was all A's in a nice group.

The next stage had a single target, with three shooting boxes in a straight line perpendicular to the berm. The stage description called for putting two shots on the target from each box, moving toward the target. I ran this one way too fast, and although all the hits were on target, they weren't all A's. We had some time waiting for the other squad to finish so some of us ran the stage again for fun. I did better the second, and realized that I was not slowing my forward momentum enough to get off accurate shots. This is a stage I can easily replicate at my local range to practice that a bit more.

The fourth stage we shot had three shooting boxes and three targets, and a twist. The idea was to put one shot on each target, and repeat from each of the boxes. The targets were widely spaced requiring a wide swing to hit all three. Next up was an unloaded gun start, with the gun and first mag on a table. On the start, pick up and load the gun and put 6 shots on one target, perform a mandatory reload and put 6 shots on the second target. For the final challenge, there were six targets in a wide, staggered array, ranging from 6 feet to 20 yards distant. Putting the required on shot on each target required constantly adjusting speed and focus.

The stages all basic shooting skills to the test, which is the idea behind the match. It's a great place to come out and get some practice with your carry weapon if you so desire, or have a chance to perhaps run a little too fast and test your limits —all without the pressure of a scored match or risking a low score on a classifier. We even had the opportunity to run a couple of the stages more than once. Future matches will provide for an hour or so after finishing for folks to practice even more.

It was a fast match, 48 rounds total. When I got back into my car, the coffee in my thermal mug was still lukewarm and we were on the road home by 11:00PM. This quick match was perfect for a busy Easter weekend. As for Greg, I dare say he had a great time, and he shot well too. I suspect I'll get him to a full USPSA match soon. On the ride home we were discussing other friends we could invite to come out to Cedar Mountain for an introduction to practical shooting.

Cedar Mountain practice matches will be held going forward on the second Saturday of the month, which, conveniently, doesn't conflict with local USPSA matches. I'll use them for practice, or perhaps to run some rounds through my carry gun. I'm also looking forward to bringing out more new shooters and getting them hooked. We'll have our Gabriel Possenti Shooters team before long!

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