During the Shooter Briefing, before the match was officially underway, the Match Director began to tell us about stages on the back ranges. First he discussed a tricky 180 rule due to the layout of one range, then he began telling us about his ‘Old School’ stage. This particular stage didn’t strike me as anything special but it was out of the ordinary for Southern Chester.
Southern Chester is very particular about setting their stages up so that they can be shot freestyle. Of all the stages I have shot at Southern Chester, this was the very first one I can recall where the written stage briefing dictated that shots had to be fired from within shooting boxes.
I’ve always been indifferent when it comes to shooting boxes. Sometimes they feel as though they dumb down the stage and other times they ramp up the challenge. In the case of ‘Triple Play’ (Stage 7), I think it caused some shooters to fall into a trap of over-thinking the straightforward stage.
I have a tendency to watch shooters closely as they shoot their first and second stage. Because I’m still learning, I like to pick the person that I think is the most well rounded shooter in my squad. I’ll then watch that shooter as the match goes on and try to pick up pointers as they shoot.
I’ve gotten to the point where my stage plan is pretty solid and watching this individual shoot introduces small tweaks to my plan. In the case of this match, I was keeping an eye on Steve Lockwood. The tricky part here was that Steve shoots Limited Division and doesn’t have the same ten round magazine limit that I do in Production. Fortunately, in this case the difference in divisions was more like a speed bump as opposed to a road block.
I decided early on that I would stand in the first box and fire ten rounds, total, at five targets. This would create one big transition as I drove my gun from the left side of the stage to the right. I would then hustle out of the box and reload while getting into the second box. I would fire ten rounds from the second box, trying to pick up the pace on my shots since I was closer to the targets.
I would then hustle out of the second box and reload as I moved to the third. The written stage briefing stipulated that shooters must engage at least one target in each shooting box. With what I had left, all I would have to do is pump two quick shots into the last target.
Steve confirmed that I was on the right track as I watched him engage majority of the stage from the first box. He then engaged two targets from the second box, and one target from the last box. Very few other shooters engaged the targets in this manner, most of them divided the stage up into equal parts and shot a similar number of targets from each position.
After The Buzzer:
I’m terribly behind in posting stage video but I think that may be working in my favor. Reviewing how I shot this stage, with a fresh set of eyes, still leaves me with the impression that I shot it in the best possible manner for my skill-set. However, there were a couple of things that caught my eye.
My Grip looks good but the video is showing more muzzle rise than I think I should be getting. I am absolutely sure that my grip isn’t very tight. I tend to have a gentle grip on the gun and while it has served me well so far, I think I need to practice out that gentle grip and handle the gun with a firmer hand.
Even though my reloads were complete before I stepped into each shooting box, they need to be finished sooner. I have a bad habit of getting into position then brining the gun up to shoot. I need to have the gun up and ready to go as soon as my feet are in position. A faster reload will give me ample time to accomplish that.
I completed Stage 7 in 15.33 seconds with a score of 102 out of a possible 110 points. My hits landed me 18 A’s and 4 C’s, earning me a accuracy percentage 93%. I finished 3rd on this stage, out of 21 shooters, in Production Division.
Since I was comparing my plan to Steve’s, lets take a look at his numbers as well. He finished the stage in 12.52 seconds and also scored 102 out of a possible 110 points. Limited Division and a .40 1911 score hits a little differently but Steve had 16 A’s, 5C’s and 1 D.
Comparing my results with the person I felt was most rounded shooter in the squad, I think I performed very well.