Planning Your Attack

Published June 10, 2013 by
Filed under Competition, Equipment, Mindset

3 Different Strategies For The Same Practical Shooting Stage 

All three of us shot the Memorial Day Tactical Rifle Fundraising match at Rio Salado last month. Because of our different skill levels and shooting styles, we all shot Stage 4 a little differently, and taking a look at what we did and why we did it might be useful for people starting to compete in the practical shooting sports. Although we all ended up at the same destination, the goals and planning behind the strategy were different for each of us. 

The Stage

Tactical Rifle Competition Stage


“My strategy was to begin the stage on the left side, so I wouldn’t twist myself into a knot while keeping the muzzle pointed downrange during the reload (reloading while moving to the left side of the stage would’ve made it very easy to point the muzzle uprange, endangering other competitors and disqualifying me from the match). I intended to take a step forward from the second shooting position and stomp the activator while shooting the static target, then engage the clamshell and Maxtrap target.

From the opening in the middle, I would hit the two close targets and the two static targets in the right array, so I wouldn’t lose time shooting around the “noshoot” swinging target. As I moved to the far right of the stage, I would reload, stomp the activator for the three swinging targets, engage the outside three targets while the swinging targets slowed down (making them easier to hit). I would then transition to the port and shoot the two “shoot” swinging targets. That was the plan, until the starting beep was heard.”


“Since I’m still getting my sea legs with the AR in competition, I tried to determine the the simplest way to shoot stage 4 by finding positions where I could shoot multiple targets, rather than trying to shoot on the move. I also chose to shoot the stage left to right, which made it easier to control the direction of my muzzle. 

My stage plan was pretty straightforward (shoot them as you see them). There were just a few things I needed to remember do at specific positions – shoot the right max trap first through the far left port, reload then engage the far right targets from the middle position, before the swinging no-shoots were in play and hit the stomp box for the swingers before engaging the right side targets.”


“My initial approach to this stage was to shoot the targets in order, moving left to right, but I modified that once I saw another shooter hit Pressure Plate 2 to start T10 and T13 moving, then shoot T14-16 and finish with the movers. Given my horrible experience with max traps and clamshells at the USPSA Area 2 Championship, I was worried about dropping hits on the no-shoots, so my initial idea was to only take one shot at each disappearing target which would mean I’d have to get center-mass “A” zone hits on each shot. However, I decided to go for it and take two shots at each, and managed to pull it off.

One thing I realized while writing this up is that I like to shoot on the move. My co-bloggers each planted in one place to shoot targets 1-4, while I shot T3 and T4 on the move, and put one into the no-shoot in-between them as a result.


I also reloaded in a different spot than either Jaci or Robert, choosing to pop in a fresh mag after I engaged the center targets because I wanted more rounds in the gun on the off chance that the swingers proved to be more trouble than they looked.”

The Result

Even though Jaci and I shot the match in .22LR, which meant we could recover from recoil and transition from target to target faster than Robert who was shooting much more powerful .223 ammo in his gun, Robert had the fastest overall time on the stage and beat us both. I might have beaten his raw time, but the time penalty I received for hitting that “no-shoot” target at the start dropped me into second place, with Jaci finishing third on this stage (a rarity, because she’s usually faster than Robert or myself). 



0 responses so far ↓

  • There are no comments yet...Kick things off by filling out the form below.

You must log in to post a comment.