I met Jessica at her first ever practical pistol match last year, and I very quickly took a liking to her. her progress in the sport has been incredibly impressive and she’s got the moxie, sass and just the right amount of stubbornness that will make her tough to beat as she continues to improve.
She’s recently teamed up with Predator Technology group, and she’s ready to shoot her first 3-Gun match tomorrow. She’s a little nervous, so I thought I’d offer her a little bit of advice and share it here for anyone else that’s getting ready to take the plunge into 3-Gun.
Relax, You Got This!
You will be among friends and other shooters that want to see you do well, and you’ll have more than enough help and advice (probably leaning toward the too much advice side). Heck, you’ll be at the best range in the world to shoot competitively, so you know you’re in good hands. Take a breath and focus on the fun.
Leave your Inner Speed Demon at Home
You’re going to want to go fast, but I’d recommend backing off a bit. Everything is going to feel similar to shooting USPSA, but totally different at the same time. Your gun transitions, mag changes and movements will be a little clunky and much slower than you want them to be, go ahead and let yourself be “slow”. This is the match to learn what it feels like to shoot, dump a gun (engage that safety!) and move on to the next one. Speed will come later.
Take the advice of another friend and awesome shooter, Annette Evans:
The Alamo by Lotus Gunworks is hiring.
We are taking applications for the following positions:
- Archery/Firearms Consultant
- Assistant Sales Manager
- Firearms Consultant
- Gunsmith Technician
- Purchasing Associate
- Range Master
- Range Safety Officer
- Sales Manager
Please review the job descriptions above, and if you meet the job requirements, please email your resumé to firstname.lastname@example.org. Lotus Gunworks Naples is an Equal Opportunity Employer.
Disclaimer: I work there, and I want really good people working with me, so that’s why I posting this here.
The creative team at 5.11 Tactical is spreading some holiday cheer with their new Ballistic Nutcracker video, watch and enjoy:
We started TeamGunBlogger because we weren’t seeing the gun industry talk to today’s gun owners. There are thousands (if not millions) of gun owners who didn’t buy a gun to go hunting, they bought a gun for personal protection and/or competition.
While not in the gun-manufacturing business themselves, the NRA is finally catching on to this fact, and has rolled out NRA Freestyle TV.
While they’ve got their own page and video player, but to me, it’s their YouTube channel that matters to me, because that’s where people from outside the gun culture will find their videos and have the opportunity to what gun ownership is really like.
Like this one.
The message (aside from the fact that Jack Reacher’s fight coordinators screwed up) is that no, you can’t use the movies or the media as your guide to what owning and safely using a gun is all about. It’s subtle, but it allows people like you and me to counter the narrative that guns kill people.
Funny, I own a bunch of them, and all I’ve killed with my guns is some tasty quail and a few coyotes. It’s almost as if my guns respond to my will, and not the other way around or something.
We already know that’s true. It’s time for the rest of America to know it too.
One of the things I’ve added to my supply of shooting gear is a new shooter bag: It’s pretty common to see safety gear on the prize table of shooting matches, and I’ve been fortunate to win enough to stock a small bag with the stuff I need (besides a gun and ammo) to introduce someone to the world of the shooting sports.
The bag I use is pretty boring: It’s not some über-tactical gear bag that looks like it just got off the plane from Khandahar, it’s a plain ol’ cloth shopping bag (albeit with a 5.11 logo on it) that wouldn’t look out of place at Wal-Mart. Why that bag? If you’ve got a friend who’s nervous about guns but wants to learn, you don’t want to show up looking like you’re a member of Seal Team Six.
Inside the bag is enough stuff for at least three people (and myself) to have fun on the range:
- Eye Protection: I like these Peltors because they fit over eyeglasses, and I try to have a smaller pair of some kind for kids and smaller-sized shooters as well.
- Ear Protection: I have a spare set of inexpensive electronic noise-reducing earmuffs that I keep in the bag because they allow people to hear range commands but still protect your ears, and I back that up with a couple of pairs of regular earmuffs and a whole bunch of in-ear foam plugs as well.
- Targets: Paper plates are great for new shooters because they’re non-threatening and familiar (and the fact they’re about the same size as a center-mass is a good thing, too). Reactive targets like steel plates are good becuase they give instant feedback, however, they’re hard to fit into a shopping bag… 😀
- Miscellaneous Gear: A staple gun, extra staples, sunscreen… add and subtract from this as you see fit. I’ve also tossed in a spare NSSF First Shots book to give them something to read during downtime and some tissues and bottled water to help with thirsty days on an outdoor range.
And one more thing: Make sure you tell your friends to dress for the range before you go shooting. T-shirts and running shoes are great, but avoid scoop-neck shirts and sandals. Trust me, you do NOT want a hot piece brass fresh out of your gun falling in between your toes.
Don’t ask me how I know this. 😀
- It’s fun. Really, really REALLY fun
- It helps familiarize yourself with your pistol of choice
- It improves your accuracy under stressful conditions
- You meet great people
- It’s better exercise than sitting on the couch
- It’s mentally challenging
- It helps prepare you to react to situations with your gun
- You’ll quickly learn what works with your gun and what doesn’t
- You’ll find out what skills you need to train to get better with your gun
So why do you shoot action pistol matches?
We’ve talked about what the IDPA Classifier is, now let’s talk about how to shoot it well.
This is my scoresheet from the last Classifier I shot. I really wanted to make Sharpshooter in Stock Service Pistol (SSP) Division with this classifier, but I fell short. Fortunately for me, I know why I didn’t make it and what I need to do to improve. For the past few years, I’ve had a practice regimen that is more about developing my skills overall, so this is the first time I’ve had to practice with a specific goal in mind.
Guess where I need to improve…
If you guessed “Stage Three”, you’re right! Stage Three is all about making longer-range shots from 20 and 15 yards, and it’s the only part of the Classifier where you’re shooting around cover. So not only are you making longer shots, you’re making them from positions that are more awkward than the other parts of the course of fire.
It’s like they’re planning on messing with your head or something…
Breaking it down, with one exception, (a missed headshot on my third shot on Stage One), the first two stages are, in my opinion, an accurate reflection of my current shooting skill, so there’s not a lot of room for improvement there. However, I know I can shoot Stage Three better than I did, because I have.
So what did I do wrong?
For starters, I concentrated on the wrong thing. I’ve been shooting a fair amount of USPSA as of late, and the rules for changing the magazines in your gun in that sport are different than they are in IDPA. In USPSA, it’s perfectly ok to let a partially-full magazine hit the ground, in IDPA, that’s cause for a 10 point procedural penalty. As I was preparing myself for the stage, I was worrying about my reload, not concentrating on slowing down and making sure I got my shots.
Secondly, I rushed my shots. While I took more time for each shot than I did in the other two Stages, the fact is, it wasn’t enough: I could have slowed down even more and made doubly sure that my sight alignment and trigger press were there for each shot, but instead, I rushed things a bit and paid the price for my haste.
Whoops. Let’s break down my breakdown on Stage Three even more.
|My Classifier Score|
|Stage||Time||Points Down||Score||Total Time||Time Remaining*|
* Time remaining is the time I have (before penalties) to complete the Classifier in order to have a score that will push me into Sharpshooter.
61 points down on that stage includes five missed shots, and at 10 penalty points per shot, that translates into 25 seconds taken off my score. Had I made those shots, that would have put me at 130 seconds for the course of fire and into Sharpshooter.
Hence my problem. I have to balance the speed of my shots with the accuracy of those shots so I come to a balance where I can do better on that last stage. I shot it in 49.03 seconds, and I don’t think there’s much room for improvement right now with my movement speed between the barricades or getting my gun out of my holster quickly, so any improving my score has to come from improving my shot accuracy.
What this means is that 49 seconds is my par time for practices this stage, and the 15.2 seconds of remaining time translates into 30 max penalty points I can possibly have on Stage Three in order for me to make Sharpshooter. This really should not be a problem, as that’s three times the points down I had on Stage Two.
Fortunately, I know how fast I shot each string of fire on Stage Three, so that gives me a par time that I can use in my practice sessions, and the 15 seconds time remaining tells me how accurate I need to shoot to make Sharpshooter.
Breaking it down, here’s what my practice drills will need to in order to make everything work.
|Stage Three||Drill Time||Max. Points Down Allowed|
Intimidating, but I know I can turn and shoot three targets clean at 10 yards in under 11 seconds with a reload, so shooting it at 20 yards in under 19 seconds should not be a problem. As with just about everything in practical shooting, I can do what’s required to be successful, all I need to do is do it on demand while the timer is running.
And that’s the hard part.
IDPA is a fast-growing shooting sport that is more focused on “defensive” situations than other shooting sports such as USPSA. People competing in IDPA are sorted according to how well they shoot the IDPA Classifier, a standardized course of fire that is the same for shooters around the world and allows people of equal skill to compete against each other.
The Classifier stage setup looks something like this:
The course of fire is as follows:
|Stage One||7 Yards||30 Shots|
|String 1||Position #1 Draw and fire 2 shots to the body and 1 to head on T1.||3 shots|
|String 2||Position #1 Draw and fire 2 shots to the body and 1 to head on T2.||3 shots|
|String 3||Position #1 Draw and fire 2 shots to the body and 1 to head on T3.||3 shots|
|String 4||Position #1 Draw and fire 2 shots at each head T1 – T3.||3shots|
|String 5||Position #1 Start gun in “WEAK” hand pointed down range at a 45 degree angle, safety may be off, but finger must be out of trigger guard, fire 1 shot at each T1 – T3.||3 shots|
|String 6||Position #1 The shooter will load three rounds maximum in the handgun and begin standing, facing up-range (back to target). On the start signal, the shooter will turn, draw, and engage targets T1 through T3 with one round each. The shooter will then perform a slide- lock reload and re-engage targets T1 through T3 with one round each.||6 shots|
|String 7||Position #1 Draw and fire 2 shots at each T1 – T3 “STRONG” hand only.||6 shots|
|Stage Two||10 Yards|
|String 1||Position #2 Draw and advance toward targets, fire 2 shots at each T1 – T3 while moving forward (all shots must be fired while moving) there is a forward fault line at the 5 yds line for this string||6 shots|
|String 2||Position #3 Draw and retreat from targets, fire 2 shots at each T1 – T3 while retreating (all shots must be fired while moving).||6 shots|
|String 3||Position #2 (Load 6 rounds MAX. in pistol) Start back to targets, turn and fire 2 shots at each T1 – T3, reload from slidelock and fire 2 shots at each T1 – T3.||12 shots|
|String 4||Position #2 Draw and fire 2 shots at each T1 – T3 “STRONG” hand only.||6 shots|
|Stage Three||20 Yards (Bianchi style barricade and 55 gal. barrel required)|
|String 1||Position #4 Draw and fire 2 shots at each T1 – T3 from either side of barricade, perform a Tactical Reload and fire 2 shots at each T1 – T3 from the opposite side of barricade.||12 shots|
|String 2||Position #4 Draw and fire 2 shots at each T1 – T3 from either side of barricade, perform a Tactical Reload and advance to Position #5, fire 2 shots at each T1 – T3 from around either side of 55 gal. barrel.||12 shots|
|String 3||Position #5 Draw, kneel and fire 2 shots at each T1 – T3 from around either side of 55 gal. barrel.||6 shots|
|Start position for all strings EXCEPT Stage One/String 5 is hands naturally at your side.|
While all those shots look intimidating for beginning shooters, the fact is, the IDPA Classifier is a good test of a your ability to deal with close range targets, long range targets and moving while shooting. As with all IDPA stages, your score on classifier is a mixture of your raw time as measured by a shot timer plus extra time added for poor shooting or not following the rules.
Your score on the Classifier will put you into one of five IDPA classifications:
|Master (MA)||89.00 or less||91.00 or less||92.00 or less||101.00 or less||102.00 or less|
|Expert (EX)||89.01 thru 109.00||91.01 thru 110.00||92.01 thru 111.00||101.01 thru 122.00||102.01 thru 124.00|
|Sharpshooter (SS)||109.01 thru 138.00||110.01 thru 140.00||111.01 thru 142.00||122.01 thru 155.00||124.01 thru 158.00|
|Marksman (MM)||138.01 thru 190.00||140.01 thru 192.00||142.01 thru 195.00||155.01 thru 212.00||158.01 thru 218.00|
|Novice (NV)||190.01 or greater||192.01 or greater||195.01 or greater||212.01 or greater||218.01 or greater|
So if you raw time plus equals 190 seconds or greater and you’re shooting a Glock in Stock Service Pistol, you’re considered a Novice shooter and compete against other people of similar classification in a match.
Me? I’m on the cusp of breaking into SSP Sharpshooter, and I *almost* made it there last weekend, but alas, I fell short. I’ll have a walk through of how I shot the Classifier and what I can do better to make it to Sharpshooter the next time I shoot it in my next post, and hopefully we’ll both learn something as a result.