It looks like it’s been about 4 months since my last post. I have but one excuse; work. I got slammed with projects this winter/spring and it’s only now getting back to the normal level of chaos that I enjoy. Also, my oldest daughter got married in March. It’s been a busy season. I keep telling myself that I’m a sponsored shooter and in times like this, I have to put the time in with my sponsor so they’ll keep paying for the guns and ammo. Whatever works, right?
Anyway, last weekend I had the opportunity to visit the wonderful K&M Precision Shooting complex near Jackson, TN for my very first two-gun match. The decision to do so was questionable; the week prior I was in Las Vegas for a trade show (sponsored shooter, sponsored shooter…) and as I always do, got sick. It was also 93 degrees with a dew point that had to be approaching 80. So there I was, sick and tired and sweating like I’ve never sweated before. And I had a blast.
The K&M facility is simply fantastic. Oddly enough, I caught a re-run of a Shooting USA episode that covered the Gap & Grind ProAm PRS match the day before I left. It was cool to see it on TV, and then in person. There are at least a half-dozen ranges on the property and they go out past 1200 yards. There are props—a school bus, cop car and various Conex containers—a 300 yard moving target, and dozens and dozens of steel targets.
If it wasn’t nearly 3 hours from my house, I would absolutely be looking at a membership there. The grounds are very well maintained and the staff extremely professional. It was a very well-run match from the start, and I will certainly be doing more of them.
The match wasn’t quite what I expected—but that was likely my fault. In my mind, I figured it would be like a 3-gun match only with no shotgun. I pictured a variety of USPA or IDPA style stages with close-in pistol and rifle targets, along with a few rifle engagements out to 400 yards. I figured most of our rifle shooting would be running and gunning, putting two rounds on paper quickly. Turns out I was pretty much completely wrong.
The only close engagements were pistol, and I’m pretty sure I didn’t shoot even a box of ammo. And with my new XDm OSP with the Burris FastFire III on it, they were cake. I may be wrong but I don’t think I missed a single pistol target. If nothing else, it was a good confirmation that my setup is going to rock IDPA in the Carry Optics division this week.
The closest rifle target was 100 yards. All of the positions were from barricades, ports, prone or shooting off a car hood or though a school bus window (they were open). Now, generally speaking, I don’t have much problem hitting IPSC size targets between 100-400 yards. However, there was just one little thing…make that several.
First, when I’m at my local range shooting 100-500 yards, I’m shooting my rifle, with a 4-18x first focal scope from a bench. Justine, my AR rifle, is easily capable of the 4” gong at 500 yards (3.4 Mils up, plus wind hold ). For this match however, I was shooting my carbine. I have some time behind the carbine, but almost all the rounds I put through it were fired at 50 yards or less with a red dot sight as it’s my home defense carbine. I never stretched it out because I don’t expect to have to defend my home from more than 50 yards away, and if I do, I’ll be reaching for the .308.
Second, I put a new Burris M-Tac 1-4 scope on the gun the week before the match. I put about 50 rounds through it, and at least half were at close range (run and gun, remember?). I verified a decent zero at 100 yards, and found out I have a dead hold out to 300 yards. With no spotter, I couldn’t tell where I was at 500, and time was running out so I called it good.
The reticle design is new to me and I realized when I looked through it that I wasn’t sure what the sub tensions were. Note to self, learn your scope before a match. But I knew I was a 0 hold out to 300, so how bad could it be? Turns out, not really that bad. There was only one 400 yard target, and I did find it a few times.
The bigger problem was that I normally shoot from a bench with a bi-pod or bag, and I take my time. In this case, I was crouching down to shoot through a set of stairs, or a port, after running through part of the stage. In the heat and humidity. While sick. I can still see a few sight pictures where I was breathing so hard and my heart beating so fast, it was almost like shooting an ambush target—break the trigger as the center dot crosses over the target. I was a mess on some setups.
One thing I’ve learned about competition shooting is to clearly define my goals before going into a match. Having a goal to win is nice, but it’s completely out of my control. I don’t know who will be showing up and if my goal is to win but Hottie McHot Dog shows up, I’ll leave disappointed. No, I’ve learned to set goals that are within my control. In this case, my goals were to hit most of the targets and not get DQ’d. Seems easy, right? Well, I’ve done a lot of matches with my pistol, but I’ve never run from position to position with my carbine. There’s a lot that can go wrong and not being DQ’d was an achievement (I almost broke 180 once, but caught it…). Not having a ton of rounds through the carbine meant I am not as intimately familiar with the manual of arms as I am with my pistol. No DQ—score one for me.
I’ve already mentioned I’ve not shot hardly anything past 50 yards with the carbine. The fact that I connected with all the targets—including the 300 yard moving target!—at least once was another win. I ran out of par time on two stages—the one with a 400 yard target from 4 different positions and the mover—but I was only one shot short on the mover. The fact that I got four of five hits on a moving target with my carbine was another huge win. I’ve never shot a moving target with a rifle before, so this was a great learning experience.
In the final results, I ended up 24th overall (of 41) and 23rd in the optics division. I garnered just about 50% of possible match points, so I really came in almost perfectly mid-pack. For a first outing in this type of match—and this type of shooting, really—I feel OK about that.
Moreover, I had a good time. I was squadded up with two guys I shoot with in Nashville on a fairly regular basis, so it was good to have people I knew around. Everyone else I interacted with was great as well. I picked up some great advice along the way and enjoyed hanging out with everyone. As I said, I’ll go back again, though I may wait until it’s a little cooler. Yeah, I’m a wuss when it comes to high heat.
I learned a ton and felt I shot the last two stages better than the first two. I’m actually really looking forward to taking the carbine down to my normal range and trying out the barricade and other props we have there to work on some of those skills. It’s also a huge confidence booster that anything inside of 300 yards is a pretty easy hit with that gun. With practice, 500 from an improvised rest will definitely happen.
One More Takeaway
This may come off a bit gratuitous, but given the current anti-gun, anti-gun owner campaign going on right now, I feel compelled to point this out. I spent an entire Saturday with 40 other guys, all shooting AR-15s. Well, that’s not entirely true; there was at least one AR-10 and an AR/AK Mutant. We were told to bring 300 rounds, but I’m pretty sure we all had at least 500, and I didn’t see anyone with fewer than 4-5 thirty-round magazines. So, 41 AR-15s, 20,000 rounds of ammo and 150+ “high capacity” magazines (they’re really standard capacity). Oddly enough, not a single person was shot or killed. And we shouldn’t forget another 10,000+ rounds of pistol ammo with magazines ranging from 15-33 rounds.
We hear it all the time, “No civilian needs an AR-15. It’s a weapon of war designed only to kill as many people as possible.” Now, when I hear that, I immediately know the person reciting it knows exactly jack and squat about guns of all types. But there we were, 40 guys in the countryside, cracking off 10,000-ish rounds and no one died. I never once felt scared.
And check this out—there were probably 100+ other matches happening all over the country that weekend that went exactly the same way. Tens of thousands of people use AR-15s for all kinds of things that are not “killing as many people as possible.” Every weekend.
So no, we’re not going to give them up so someone who has never touched a gun in their life can “feel safer.” If you think those rifles have no recreational use, you’re just not informed. Well, you weren’t informed. Now you are.
More content soon, I promise.