Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Fredericksburg Monster Match

The monthly USPSA match held by Fredericksburg Practical Shooters was a "Monster Match." Not only were there fitting stage themes for the Halloween season, the stages were "monster" in size. Six stages, averaging around 50 rounds each, made for a fun and tiring day of shooting.

The match directors put together some interesting stages for this special match. This wasn't a matter of standing and hitting a bunch of targets from a single spot, the stages were just like normal USPSA field courses, but bigger. A lot bigger. The course of fire were a combination of paper targets and falling steel. I believe the smallest number of targets on a stage was 17, but each target on that stage required 3 hits per target.

Stage 5 - The Mummy

Stage planning was very important in this match. That went especially for folks shooting in limited capacity divisions like Production and Single Stack. The stages had a barrel or two placed on the course of fire for staging extra mags, which could be retrieved either from the belt or the barrels. I admittedly went into a couple stages with a not quite firm plan in my head for the final targets in the course. That really only burned me once when I skipped a target and earned Failure to Engage (FTE) and miss penalties. (I couldn't convince the RO to give me credit for engaging another target twice.) I heard from other shooters who also ran past targets without engaging them.

While I've shot more than this number of rounds in a day of training on more than one occasion, shooting 50 rounds in a single string lasting under a minute was a new experience. I found that I had to concentrate even more on my grip as the day wore on. I also found myself going a bit too fast at times, perhaps subconsciously trying to speed through the already long course.

Stage 6 - Nightmare On Elm Street

The weather was certainly a factor in the match and a topic of discussion all day. It was a classic cold and windy fall day. The sun came out only for brief moments, though cloud cover was the order of the day. It wasn't unusual for a shooter, about to start his run, to be delayed by a sudden gust of wind that would knock over the steel targets, and often more than once before the starting beep. As someone remarked, "All the targets are moving targets today."

This match format proved to be very popular as many shooters travelled from out of the area to participate. I followed a truck with Delaware tags into the range, and was told that someone had come from all the way from Tennessee for the fun. Everyone I shot with or talked to afterwards seemed to have a great time.

Stage 3 - Casper The Friendly Ghost

I was moderately pleased with my own shooting, though I certainly wasn't shooting my best. Besides the aforementioned FTE, I earned a few misses by putting my shot through the edge of a wall before it hit the target. In a defensive situation, shots through a wall might count, but in this game they do not. Despite the final scores, it was an exceptionally fun match. It was surprising just how much the challenge changes by doubling or even tripling the number of shots in a stage, compared to what is typically seen at a "normal" match.

The match ran smoothly, at least from the competitors' point of view. It was a long day on the range, but still a much shorter day than I had feared it might turn out to be. Shooting started about 8:00AM and we finished a little after 2:00PM. With most folks staying to pitch in, the stages were broken down and everything put into the storage containers before 3:00.

The match directors are to be congratulated for putting together a challenging and exceptionally fun match. It was clear to me that a lot of thought was put into designing the match and providing the shooters more than just an excuse to throw a lot of lead downrange. Of course, thanks also to all the folks who worked to put it on the ground too. I certainly wouldn't want to shoot a "monster match" every month, but I look forward to doing it again. I was tired and more than a bit sore by the time I got home. Even so, I hope this turns into an annual event.

Note: Click the pics to see them full size. The panoramic format doesn't preview well. Also, one of guys on the squad posted a compilation video of some of us shooting the match that you can watch here.

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