You know how it happens.
You've looked over the stage, you know where you're going to do your reloads. You know how many targets there are, and of what type, and .. oh hell, you have got this staged KNOCKED!.
Then the first shot goes all golly-whampus, and the game plan goes out the window. You don't know what to do next, you don't even remember the game plan, because .. you had not expected this!
It don't matter what your plan was, or what the stage looks like. All that matters is that you hear someone screaming "DO-OVER" ... and you realize, it is you.
I'm going to show you a video of that exact same scenario. The shooter is experienced and competent, and when I saw it happen, I thought "Oh gee, tough break; but he'll do just fine as soon as he gets his "Do-Over" strategy.
But it didn't happen. And that's a misery.
Here's how it looked:
- GOT A JAM ON HIS FIRST ROUND. Doesn't matter whether it was a high-primer, round loaded too long or too-short ... the shooter didn't have good ammunition (couldn't be a magazine malfunction) and he had to drop the magazine to make it go away. Good choice. but ..
- FORGOT HIS GAME PLAN. We can only assume that the reason why he left the first shooting position was because he forgot that he had to engage three, not just two, targets from there. He probably had walked it through carefully before he shot the stage, but was so distracted from the near-disasterous MALF (Malfunction) that when he rebooted his gun, he rebooted his brain.
- FUMBLED HIS RELOAD. This is something which he has probably practiced at home, and it's so thoroughly a part of 'muscle memory' that he doesn't even have to think about it. But .. if he did "think about it", it completely trashed his stage. If you have to 'think', or 'concentrate', you're not competing at 100% of your competence.
- STOPPED TO PICK UP, AND LOADED, A DIRTY MAGAZINE. If your magazine hits the ground, you are best off just forgetting about it and loading a new magazine. Chances are that it will pick up dirt and grit (as it obviously did in the demo video), and it won't feed ammunition reliable. And the grit will remain, even if you drop that magazine and grab a new, clean one. The damage has been done, and until you clean your gun you can only expect more jams. (WHY did he pick up his dirty magazine? Probably because he only brought two magazines to the stage, and he had no choice but to risk it. We can be pretty sure that he owned more than two magazines, but he was 'certain' that he wouldn't need more. That decision certainly played a part in Trashing The Stage. Can you say "HUBRIS", childeren? I knew you could.)
- QUIT, AND GO HOME MAD. When your chamber is fouled, the best you can do is to quit. Don't try to get more POINTS, because the TIME between each shot is going to trash your stage points anyway. Use the time between now and the next stage to clean your gun, your magazines, and your ammunition.
- Carry more ammunition than you expect to need.
- Carry more magazines than you expect to need.
- When you have a jam, just drop your magazine and grab another. You have extra mags, right?
- Never pick up a dropped magazine: it costs time, you run the risk of sweeping yourself, and the magazine and/or ammunition may be dirty. That will foul your gun until you can clean it, your magazine, and your ammunition.
- When you've trashed your stage, perhaps the best thing you can do is to quit. It's like the old adage: When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.
Ammunition Management is all about not having to make a "Standing Reload", except that it's also about not having to make more reloads than necessary .. if you can't make a reload 'on the move'.
If you are shooting in a class which requires a very low magazine capacity (eg: Production, Single-Stack, Revolver or Limited-10), the basic rule is:
If you're moving, you should be reloading!
Avoiding "Standing Reloads" is much more important .. and it should be the basis of your Game Plan no matter what division you're competing in. Granted, in Limited or OPEN Divisions your magazine capacity may be from ten to thirty rounds (LIMITED Division has a maximum magazine length of 140mm in USPSA/IPSC competition, while OPEN Division allows magazines as long as 170mm). For example, in my Limited gun, I can load either 17 or 18 rounds of 10mm (same diameter as .40 SW) in my 140mm magazines. But in my open guns, I can usually load 25 rounds in my .38 Super (same diameter as 9mm Luger) in my 170mm magazines. Some Open shooters can load more rounds in their Open Gun magazines.
The problem with shooting in Open Division is that one tends to become complacent. You know that you have 'many' rounds in your magazine, and so you tend to equate that with "I have ALL THE ROUNDS I'LL EVER NEED" in your magazine.
The thing is, if you have a 23 round stage (for example) and you're sure you can complete it in 25 rounds or less, you may forget to manage your ammunition. So, if you take an extra shot or two to make up a miss or a weak hit ... you lose the wisdom you had learned while you were shooting in divisions where you had less ammunition in your magazine. Essentially, you forget that you really do NOT have "all the ammunition in the world!"
Here's how it looks In Real Life:
The shooter used one extra (make-up) round in her second array, and another (to recover from an unplanned miss) in the third array. We knew that she had 1 "Barney Bullet" round in the chamber, and 26 in her magazine for a total of 27 rounds ... plenty of ammunition for a nominal 26 round stage. But she needed 28 rounds to complete engagement of the last array after the two extra shots.
She lost focus. She didn't realize that she had used her "Barney Bullet" plus one extra. Although she had plenty of opportunities to reload another magazine while she was moving, her Game Plan didn't include provision for the "What if my Game Plan gets trashed?"
So she trashed the stage.
Fortunately, she was there for the fun, the exercise and fresh air, and the companionship. She wasn't worried about being "Competitive". She obviously enjoyed the shooting exercise anyway, and she wasn't going to let a little think like taking an extra 3 or 4 seconds to complete her (otherwise very well done) stager ruin her day.
The reason why I'm mentioning being "competitive" is that once in a while I encounter shooters in the "Introduction to USPSA" class who not only want to 'just shoot', but who seriously want to be 'competitive'.
We don't typically have a lot of time in the three-hour class to teach people how to compete; we just want them to be safe, and we want to expose them to enough of the usual "administrative stuff:" that they will be comfortable AND safe at their first match. We assume that they will pick the 'competitive stuff" along they way, if they feel that's the route they want to go.
(And yes, a lot of people who shoot in IPSC competition don't consider "winning" to be their primary objective. That may sound blasphemous to some folks, but as I have emphasized in the 8 years I've been writing this blog ... the majority of the people are just in it for the thrill of shooting.)
I do have a long list of "DO" and "DON'T" talking points about how to shoot competitively, but most of them are about (surprise!) "Ammunition Management" and "Walk Through The Stage".
And no, I'm not going to enter the plethora of talking points here. This has gone on long enough to make my MAIN point, which is:
"If you want to be competitive, you have to pay attention to the fundamentals, manage your ammunition, get your hits, and learn to 'focus' rather than 'concentrate' when you shoot."