(NB: this is because the match sponsors are concerned that people will actually try to drive an hour or two over icy and/or snow-bound roads ... or that they WON'T make the drive, and not enough people will show up to make the match worth the effort to put it on. Geez! We're turning into a Nation of Wussies here! Never mind that I wouldn't have gone to the match scheduled last weekend, because we had freezing rain for two days from Corvallis to Portland. Everybody already knows I'm a wuss.)
However, I'm happy to report that the weather today was mild and balmy, no rain, some sun. Therefore, the January Match at Dundee (Chehalem Valley Sportsman's Club) was well attended with approximately 50 competitors showing up to embarass themselves before friends and family.
I'm not being facetious about this "embarrassing event" allusion. It was terrible, almost everything that COULD go wrong DID go wrong. At first, those of us in the "Usual Suspects" squad (someday I'll have to write about this collection of misfits and malcontents, of which I am a charter member) who screwed up by the numbers were shocked that we were so inept. As the day progressed ... and I don't mean to suggest that any 'progression' involved an improvement of either accuracy or gun-handling skills ... we started laughing at ourselves, then at each other, until it became almost a sport in itself to decide who had best typified mediocirty on any given stage.
It's probably a blessing that so MANY "Kodak Moments" occurred today, I can't remember all of them. You don't want to read that many paens of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, and I don't want to write that much. What follows is, perhaps, merely the high-lights of the day.
The first stage, I managed to get a jam and instead of dropping the magazine to clear the gun I kept the 170mm magazine (very cumbersome) in my left hand while I tried to clear the jam. Then I put the old magazine back in, forgot to reload when I had planned, and shot the gun dry. After a very S-L-O-W reload ( including the obligatory "WTF? Moment" while I tried to figure out why the gun wasn't going "BANG!"), it turned in a 39 second run on a 19-second stage.
My advice to the guy who followed me was "Don't do what I did!", so of course he did the same thing in almost the same way.
(I have an alibi for the jam, by the way: I cleaned my gun before the match. I think the gun was in a state of shock and didn't know how to function without all that powder residue slowing down the action. I didn't bother to ask the other guy for his alibi, but I'm sure it would have been equally as creative. We usually announce our alibis before the match starts. It just saves time . This is my story, and I'm sticking to it.)
Second stage was the classifier. Simple little thing it was, so we had to be pretty creative to screw it up. Shoot one round each on 6 IPSC targets, reload, shoot another round strong-hand only.
Did I mention that there were 3 no-shoot targets interlaced among the shoot-targets?
My first shot was into the white no-shoot, so I ended up with one miss, one no-shoot penalty in 10.5* seconds.
Another guy, Norm The Ungrateful, did a great job getting all of hits in 9.90 seconds. Only thing is, after the reload he shot the second half of the stage free-style, too. Six 10-point penalties zeroed the stage for him. We had to convince him that he had forgotten to shoot the second half wrong, because he could have SWORN that he shot it strong-hand.
Another guy managed to put one shot into each of the 3 penalty targets. At least he didn't zero the stage.
Ryan, the 10-year-old son of Nick, was shooting Open with a Glock. Ryan is a pretty good shooter, but spends most of his time shooting Steel Challenge. He had some problems with the Strong-Hand portion of the stage. The gun wasn't cycling, so he had to rack the slide between each shot. After the stage was completed, Nick was unable to comment that Ryan was 'weak-wristing' the gun. Ryan responded something to the effect that "I KNOW, but ...". Exit, stage left, shutting ears against familial bickering. I'm repeating warnings, now, to the effect that it is NOT a good idea to coach your own SWMBO, or anyone in your family. Parent and Spouse cannot offer criticism within (arbitrarily selecting a time period) TEN YEARS after your loved one has embarassed himself/herself in front of others.
A few of us chose to reshoot the stage "For Classification Only", just to prove that we really COULD do better. I managed to do the same thing ... hit a no-shoot with one shot ... but I made up the shot (strong-hand) so I still got two penalties but at least I got another 5 points on my score. The thing is, it took me 11.17 seconds, which pretty much wiped out any improvement on my hit-factor for the stage.
Later, on a stage that required a quick lateral movement from one side of the bay to the other, Big-Dog John managed to get a foot tangled in the deep gravel surface and almost tripped. He was falling forward as he ran, windmilling with both hands, and in the process he waved one arm in front of the muzzle of the gun ... twice. He didn't fall down, didn't endanger anyone else, but was DQ'd (Match Disqualification) for "Sweeping" himself. Tough call. He showed his character and integrity, though, by sticking around for the rest of the match and helping us by assuming the scoring chores so we wouldn't wear ourselves out.
And fatigue was an issue. I got a pulled a thigh muscle on one stage (I was the last shooter in the squad, put too much time into RO'ing the squad on a big stage which required a lot of movement, so I was fairly over-exercised) and it took me a half-hour to work the kinks out. Boy, am I out of shape after taking NO exercise for two months!
We had a stage with a lot of steel on it. Harold the Conqueror stopped himself because a Pepper Popper didn't go down when he shot it. A calibration test with a 9mm knocked the popper down ... leaving Harold with about half of the stage un-engaged. Major penalties there.
On a similar stage (lots of steel), Norm shot a US Popper twice, missing it once and catching an edge with his second shot. He heard the hit, dropped the magazine and reloaded as he started to move to the next shooting position, and then noticed out of the corner of his eye that the steel did not fall. Shouting "I hit it, I know I did!" he reversed direction to pick-up the miss. Just as he got back into position, and raised the pistol to shoot at it ... the popper fell down! I think he spent another second or two just looking at it with his mouth open. At least, he managed not to curse. I admire his restraint. I would have been washing my mouth out with soap even now if it had been me.
On the same stage, Brent (who was shooting a single-stack .45acp) went to slide-lock and RAMMED a Chip McCormick 10-round magazine into the pistol. Immediate result: the Jam From Heck. It took him forever less ten seconds to get the gun back into working order, and then he started running to the next shooting position ... only to realize that he hadn't taken the 2nd shot at the target he had been engaging when he had to make his reload. He ran back, took one shot (strong-hand!) and then ran to finish the stage. Result: it took him 119 seconds to complete a 25-second stage. Lesson is, if you're gonna put a big-stick in a single-stack ... don't jam it in there!
On the penultimate stage, Gary T. completely forgot that one array was to be engaged 'behind the fault line' and charged 3 targets. Six procedural penalties ... advantage gained. He had completely forgotten that the fault line was there.
Getting close to the end, now. Bear with me. Remember, this is only the high-lights.
The last stage. A plate rack with six ten-inch plates, plus some cardboard targets on the right and left side. No big deal.
It took me 11 shots to knock down the six plates, at a distance of less than 50 feet!
I was counting shots for everyone else, and nobody seemed to have as much trouble as I did.
Until the last shooter.
Eleven-year-old Zac, son of Norm, tried the same thing I did (engaging the targets from too far away, essentially) and required 17 shots to knock down the six steel plates.
But Zac has been shooting IPSC more frequently, and longer, than Ryan. He knew he had just goofed up and instead added a note of levity to the otherwise-embarassing situation. On the last four-target array, instead of hosing them as the rest of us did, he calmly engaged the upper A-zone. Managed to get almost half of the A-hits, too.
I choose to believe that Zac was merely aware of my own embarassment, and deliberately missed his steel-plate shots only so that this lame old man didn't feel bad about having turned in the worse performance of the day.
Norm, I know that you had NINE jams during the match. But you're raising your son right. It's refreshing to see a young man grow up with an innate sense of respect for his elders.
Even if his elders don't really deserve it.
Here's the bottem line:
The match didn't mean a thing. It was just a chance to go shooting with your friends. We shot poorly, but everyone had a great time. It wasn't cold, it wasn't rainy, the wind wasn't blowing, everyone did his share of the work, and nobody got through the day without performing far below his own expectations.
What a great day at the range.