This past Saturday I had the pleasure of shooting my third USPSA Match at Lower Providence Rod and Gun Club (2nd time shooting at this club, third match overall). I had a great time and felt good about my shooting at the end of the day.
I set a goal for myself that I wanted to place in the Top 50% in production division. When the scores came out, seeing that I ranked 12th out of 24 shooters put a smile on my face.
While I think I shot very well for only having three matches under my belt, I saw plenty of areas where I need to make some improvements. I made a couple of dumb mistakes and there were some situations where I could have saved a second or two by addressing the stage differently.
Down below you can find my thoughts on each stage. I got kind of long winded with some stages but it all comes together if you read my stage notes then watch that portion of the video (video is at the bottom of the post). The video flows in the same order that I outline the stage. This allows you to read a little, watch some video, pause the video and read some more, rinse and repeat…
Stage 4: Green Line
I somehow missed taking a photo of the stage description for this stage. Even without it, the stage is very easy to describe. On the command of the Range Officer, we are to load our gun and place it on a table infront of us. At the buzzer, we are to engage three targets, as we see fit, with the best two shots per target scoring.
My game plan was to pick up my pistol and immediately move to the far left side of the stage. I would then engage targets left to right. Shooting in this manner left me with a score of 6 A’s (best score possible. Referred to as a clean stage) with a time of 10.42 seconds. I was ranked 7th out of 24 shooters on this stage.
After watching the video, I believe that I should have addressed this stage a little differently. After picking up my pistol and running to the far left target, I should have engaged the middle target from where I stood rather than running back to the middle of the stage just to stop and shoot two rounds. I think this may have shaved a second or two off of my time and gotten me into the top 5 (Best shooter on this stage cleaned it with a time of 6.51 seconds)
Stage 5: Let’s Swing
I was a little excited over Stage 5 because it was my first experience with swingers (We’re talkin’ targets here, not the people that pull keys out of a punch bowl at the end of the night).
I had seen these types of targets several times on television shows, such as Shooting USA, and the pro shooters always make them look easy. My concern was that I didn’t know if I was capable of firing two rounds before the target disappeared. Playing it safe would have been to fire one shot while the target was exposed, let it disappear, then fire another shot when it popped back out. This conservative approach would have been slow but effective, but I had another idea.
From shooting a couple of matches, I know that when you hit a piece of steel, the audible feedback is instant, however, there is a delay between when the target is hit and when it falls over. I planned to use this delay to my advantage.
At the buzzer, I drew my pistol and fired one round at the steel popper. When I heard the ring of the steel being struck, I transitioned to the swinger on the left. By the time I was setup, the steel popper had fallen and pulled the supports out from under the swingers.
I ambushed the first swinger, putting two rounds into it before it disappeared (Scoring 2 A’s), then I transitioned to the swinger on my right. I should have taken the same approach, setting up to ambush it when it popped out, but I got caught up in the moment and started chasing it. I fired two rounds and didn’t feel good about them, so I waited for the target to appear again and fired an additional two rounds (1 A and 1 Miss).
I placed 14th on this stage, out of 24 Shooters, with a time of 6.47 seconds. I think that if I would have taken the time to setup an ambush on the second swinger, the time probably would have been a wash but my overall score would have been better. Take away the penalty for missing the target and plug in even a D zone hit and I could have been within the Top 10 on this stage.
Stage 6: Holes in the Wall
Out of all of the stages at this particular match, I was most concerned with Holes in the Wall. There were two reasons for my being concerned. First is that I arrived at the match with only four magazines (I’ve been meaning to get at least one more but the gun shop was sold out) and there were a lot of targets on this stage. My second concern was the Texas Star, which I haven’t had great luck with. Combine all of the targets, the pesky Texas Star, and my low number of magazines, and you’ve got a genuine concern of “Do I have enough ammo to get through this stage?”
As it turns out, I did have enough ammo to complete the stage. A few other shooters did not, however. Because I didn’t have enough magazines to reload where I would have liked, I had a clunky sort of rhythm as I engaged the targets and went to slide-lock before moving to the next port.
I felt that the best way for me to shoot this stage was to simply move from the left most port to the right most port. The first port contained a variety of steel poppers. In the middle of all of this steel were two poppers that were aligned front to back. This meant that the first piece of steel had to be dropped before the second would become visible.
I should have engaged this piece of steel first so that while it was dropping I could engage other targets. Instead I wound up shooting it last (due to a missed shot on it) and I had to stand there and wait for it to drop so that I could hit the last piece of steel.
I reloaded on my way to the next port and engaged three pieces of cardboard. I felt like I pulled my first shot, so I took an additional shot and left the port having fired 7 rounds.
Trying to maximize my ammunition, I did not reload before engaging the Texas Star. I went to slide lock, reloaded, and cleared the star in what I felt was decent shooting. The next port held a sea of steel which also caused me to go to slide lock in an effort to maximize ammo.
The last port contained three cardboard targets at varying distances. I fired 6 rounds and ended the stage with a few rounds to spare. I managed 27 A’s (Knocked down steel is an A), 1 B, and 1 C with a total time of 49.53 Seconds. This put me in 12th place, out of 24 Shooters, for this stage.
Stage 7: Octoberfest
During the morning briefing, the match director told us that he had a long night and forgot some of the paperwork for the match. This resulted in him drafting some of the stage descriptions from memory. This particular stage was not setup as it is shown in the photo to the right.
On the left side of the paper, there are two arrays of targets. The first array shows three targets. Behind it is another area with two targets. The course of fire was actually opposite of this with two targets in the first array and three in the array behind it.
The reason knowing that the stage description and the actual stage are different is important because swapping the arrays totally changes the game plan. Due to the orientation of the targets, the easiest thing to do would have been to run up on them and blast away at close range. While this would have been easier, I didn’t think it was the fastest way to address the stage.
After watching one of the other shooters, I discovered that I could engage all three targets in the second array without going out of my way. In two steps I could engage the first two targets of the 3 target array, then pick up the third by shooting down the fence line after engaging the closer array.
Once the left side of the stage was complete, I reloaded and moved right. In a complete lapse of judgement, I racked the slide of my M&P while moving and ejected a live round. After loosing that round I wound up at slide lock before moving to the stong hand / weak hand sets of targets.
That unnecessary reload left me with a stage time of 46.08 seconds and 14th Place out of 24 Shooters. My score was 24 A’s, 1 B, 6 C’s, and 1 D. If I were to do it all over again, I would correct the reload error and engage the first two targets a bit faster. I seemed to take a long time lining up the shot.
Stage 1: Revolver Friendly?
Out of all of the stages at this match, this one left me the most indecisive. There just seemed to be so many options, all of which lead me to shooting the stage in a different manner.
I finally decided to ignore the target at the far end of the stage. It stood out like a sore thumb and seemed to do nothing but throw a wrench in my plans. Instead, from the starting point, I engaged the two outside most targets that I could see. I then moved left, engaging two targets hidden beside barrels, before picking up the last target at a distance on the left side of the stage.
I reloaded while moving to the right side of the stage, engaging the two closest targets and one at a distance. From here I reloaded on the move and hustled to the far end of the stage where I point-shot six targets at very close range, then I put two round at the pesky target that I ignored from the start.
I placed 10th on this stage, out of 24 shooters, with a time of 26.98 Seconds and a score that consisted of 21 A’s and 3 C’s. I was happy overall with how I shot this stage and would have placed much higher if I could shaved some time off (looks like 20 seconds or less would have gotten me into the Top 5).
Stage 3: Orange Line
This stage was perhaps the simplest of the day and I completely bombed it. We were to start with a loaded gun on our hip, turned 90 degrees to the targets.
At the buzzer, we were to turn and engage three targets. The biggest hurdle, if you want to call it that, was that one target had to be engaged from a kneeling position. This was due to the target being situated below elevated no-shoot targets.
I kept telling myself that I would simply take one big step backward, turn, and drop to a knee. From a kneeling position I could easily engage all three targets and no additional movement would be required.
Despite watching more experienced shooters address the stage in this very manner, I changed my mind at the last minute. A little voice in the back of my head kept telling me that shooting up at those targets from a kneeling position wasn’t the safest way to adress them (the berm was plenty high and it was safe. I’m not sure why I got weirded out by the idea of shooting the targets in that manner).
I took my big step backward, turned, and began engaging the two targets on either side of the no-shoots. I then dropped to a knee and fired two rounds at the low target, closing out the stage.
I had a horrible score, which included 1 A, 3 B’s, 1 D, and 1 Miss. My time was 8.23 Seconds, which wasn’t horrible in the grand scheme of things, but the penalty for the missed shot really hurt. I wound up placing 16th, out of 24 Shooters, on this stage.
Stage 2: Blue Line
After shooting Stage 3, we remained hot and moved across the pistol pitt to shoot Stage 2. This stage consisted of three boxes where we would engage two targets per box.
At the buzzer, my plan was to move left and engage the first target. The strangest thing happened when I pressed out, I couldn’t find the front sight. Feeling a bit dumbfounded, I began rotating the pistol in my hand until I got sight of it (I must have pressed out with the gun twisted in my wrist). My first shot didn’t feel right but I opted to push forward, taking the second shot and moving to the second target. I engaged the second target without issue and moved to Box B.
From here I made four shots (total) on two targets that were partially obscured by hard cover. I then hustled to Box C firing two shots strong hand, and two shots weak hand to close out the stage.
I should have made up my very first shot, as it turns out, it was a D. My time on this stage was 24.25 Seconds. I scored 10 A’s, 1 C, and 1 D, which placed me 8th, out of 24 shooters, on this stage.
USPSA Match Video