Monday, December 4, 2017

Shadow Hawk Inaugural IDPA Match

Shadow Hawk Defense is a new, 150 acre range facility in Hedgesville, West Virginia. In addition to their private training ranges, they have built dedicated shooting bays for hosting competitive shooting matches. A monthly USPSA match started in September and has been well-received. On Saturday, the range hosted its first IDPA match. An unexpected opening in my schedule allowed me to participate.

As I headed out early Saturday morning for the 2 hour, 10 minute drive the dashboard thermometer read 28°. I watched it climb to 34° at one point during my travels, only to drop back to 30° when I arrived at the range. The drive was pleasant and I enjoyed watching daylight arrive in the mountains. Some of the drive was quite rural; at one point I stopped to let a group of chickens cross the road (literally.)

I opted to shoot in the Compact Carry Pistol (CCP) division at this match, using the SIG P320 Compact in an outside the waistband holster. Eight fun stages were set up in large four bays. The first four stages were adapted from stages we shot at the Potomac Grail match in October.

"Caught in the Kitchen" had us shooting from underneath a table. In October I shot the stage from a prone position, and did quite well, with just one point down. This time I opted to kneel, with a less satisfactory outcome; 10 points down and one HNT. I typically shoot well from prone, so I am not sure what compelled the change.

In "Local Gang Robbery" we started on a close target, shooting from retention. Then while retreating, engaged two head shot-only targets. The stage finished shooting from cover with 6 shots on a partially hidden target.

The stage "Girlfriend's Ex Got Coffee" had a fun start where we held a cup of "coffee" which we threw at a plastic covered target. There were two targets to be engaged while backing up to cover. At cover we dropped to a knee and reengaged the targets.

"Retreating Upward Standard" is based on a stage I remember all too well from the Potomac Grail match. Starting with the gun in the support hand we shot three t-shirt covered targets while retreating to a barricade. From that cover position three head shot only targets were engaged freestyle. A second string reversed the order of the target engagement, and started with strong hand only shots. At my previous run on the stage I forgot to shoot strong hand only, earning penalties. No such brain malfunction this time.

The stages "Moving Out of DC" and "Lawless and Kidnapped" made double use of an arrangement of walls and targets set up across the wide bay. For the former, starting with a magazine downloaded to eight rounds, we engaged two open targets on the move before hitting two more distant targets from cover. Moving down range two surprise targets were dealt with while moving to a final shooting position around a wall.

The latter stage of the pair started with the same initial four targets. We then continued across the bay to engage a steel popper from cover. The falling steel activated a drop turner that could be engaged from that same position or while advancing towards it, all before it disappeared. Arriving at cover there were two partial targets to be found. A quick run to the end revealed a final target behind a wall.

Both of these stages were a lot of fun. None of the shots were exceptionally difficult, though a few of the shots were tight or required hard leans. One had to balance speed of movement with accurate hits, and there was enough movement to make speed matter.

The final two stages also made use of a single set up, but still provided unique challenges of their own. The stage was set up across the bay and shooter had options for which direction to engage the targets. In "Truck Stop MS-13" I engaged the first three targets around left side of a wall. There were various targets, open, reduced, and head shot, to be found at three more positions moving left to right across the stage. The far right wall also hid a steel popper. After engaging the popper, a short move back to the left gave a view of the activated swinger.

The shooting scenario of this same course of fire was switched up for "Hold Onto Your Kid." The course designer was inspired by the internet video of the cop in Brazil shooting bad guys while holding his child. The "child" in this case was a large stuffed animal which was carried on our support side, forcing the entire stage to be shot strong hand only. Reloading could be done while holding the child in the support arm, moving it to the strong side, or setting on the ground. After some dry runs holding the large stuffed doll, I opted to maintain the support side hold. It was also stipulated in the stage briefing that the "child" had to be held properly, under the arms — we could not use the classic IDPA upside-down-by-the-leg child carrying hold.

The starting position for this stage was in the center of the course of fire. Since one cannot pass in front of unengaged targets, the targets on either side of the center wall were shot, before opting to move left or right. I moved to the far left and worked my to the right. As with the prior run, a final shift back left for the swinger finished the run.

I was thrilled to shoot the stage just down 2, even shooting one handed, with no make up shots. Alas, at the end of the run, the SO informed me I had swept the "baby" during my first reload. That gave me a 10 second Flagrant Penalty on top of an otherwise excellent run. Those are the breaks of the game.

Eight stages makes for a long match but it all flowed very well. We experienced no backups waiting for squads to finish. The temps eventually rose to the mid-50's, and the sun made an appearance as well, providing for a really pleasant day of shooting.

The ranges at Shadow Hawk are still under construction, but it is already an impressive facility. The pistol bays were wide with high berms. There were (I believe) five bays completed and I was told six more are planned. Each berm had benches for sitting, a large table and trash cans. Porta-johns are conveniently placed as well. It's those little details that add up to a great place to shoot. I suspect this will become a popular location for both monthly and sanctioned events.

I had a great time at the match. I felt good about shooting the compact gun, after a slightly rough start. Eight stages of shooting made the long drive, and early morning alarm setting, worthwhile. Only six shooters of 40 total were entered in the CCP division and I placed 3rd in the division. I also ran into some old friends I hadn't seen in a while, and made some new friends as well. I'm looking forward to returning for more matches in the coming months.

A few more pictures from the match are posted here.


  1. Glad you enjoyed the match and great conversation. I will continue to feed my stage designs to Jerry for him to use at his discretion. And, thanks for the Musings Blog....good summaries.

    1. Thanks. Looking forward to coming back. I just noticed that the 1st Saturday is the typical day for Sanners Lake, MD IDPA. I hope there isn't a conflict!


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