This past Saturday was our first experience in pistol shooting competitions. Just Eli and Jake signed up this time; we thought we should probably find out what it was like before we put everyone in. It was the best time, and Vaughn spent it lamenting the fact that he hadn’t registered! LOL!
The shooters had an order to shoot in, always rotating one up when they got to a new course. The boys were some of the first to shoot, which wasn’t so great since they were new – they liked it when they rotated into the last spots because then they could watch the other shooters and get to know the course better.
Watching the shooters before them (everyone on the range has to have eye and ear protection, shooting or not)…
When a shooter is up, the guy with the timer/the range officer (RO) will ask the shooter if he understands the course…
When he was sure he understood how to complete the course, the RO would hold a special rectangular timer up by the shooter’s ear. Depending on the course, the shooter would have to start with his hands down by his side, in front of him, or up in the air…
When the timer buzzes, the clock starts ticking, and the shooter can move for his weapon and complete the shots required for the course.
The timer is actually really neat – the man holding it would move along with the shooter, keeping the timer somewhat near the pistol – the timer recognizes the gun shots, and marks time at each shot – when the shots are finished, the timer goes back to the last shot fired, and stops the time there; there is no operator error in the shot times – and they are recorded to the hundredth of the second.
For this course, which was one of the favs because it was so straight-forward and quick, the guys had to retrieve their gun, shoot the rectangular steel targets each once, then hit the steel (round) plate. The shooter can hit the rectangles in an order they would like, they can shoot as many bullets at each (if they miss) without penalty other than the extra time it takes; a missed target is a 3 second penalty, and hitting the stop plate is mandatory to stop the time. In this bay, the shooter repeated the course of fire 3 times in succession; the worst time was a scratch while the other 2 counted towards your overall time.
All the courses were not so straight forward and easy. Some require you to remember different details about how they are to be shot – this course was ‘free hand’ (any way you want to hold your gun) and 4 shots, for the first part of it…
then you run to the next station and have to shoot the target twice using your weak hand.
Next, run to the 3rd placement, with a mandatory magazine change on the way (that’s where you would drop your empty mag out, and quickly slide in a new, loaded magazine – you know, the reloadable thing that holds the bullets (insert snarky comments here about Sen. Feinstein thinking you could use up magazines then there wouldn’t be any more out there…). At the third station, using your ‘strong arm’ (the one you normally shoot with), you would hit the target twice, then knock over 3 steel targets, then shoot the steel stop plate to stop your time.
After each shooter has finished shooting, they have to clear their gun – which means to drop their magazine (eject it out of the grip), empty any bullets still in the chamber, and then holster their empty weapon. After the RO says the course is cleared, then everyone goes out and resets the course for the next shooter. Jake is resetting some of the steel targets – when these are hit, they tilt over backwards, and then have to be stood back up…And Greg is taping hits/bullet holes. The course has tape the same color as the cardboard body targets, and after each shooter, they cover any holes up, so that the can easily see where the next shooter hits. The white ‘body’ next to the brown one, is a hostage – shooting a hostage carries a pretty heavy timing penalty
The boys brought me a flower… We had a break between courses while we waited for another group to finish.
Some of the courses had multiple different things you had to do, including different positions you had to shoot from. The guys would go over the course before the first shooter. On this course, you had to start with a magazine loaded with 7 shots; shoot the first 6 steel targets, then reload while you walked to the next stage, where you had to shoot the clay pigeons that were set on stands, moving while shooting. After taking those out (you shoot until you hit them, so some shooters are doing multiple magazine changes), the terrorists had to be taken out, 2 shots to the kill zone (misses or hitting out of the kill zone earn penalties) from a prone position (laying down), then hit the steel stop plate.
The boys waiting their turn; another shooter was up, with Greg ’on deck’ (he is next), and Eli ‘in the hole’ (after Greg).
Greg drawing his weapon after the timer has beeped…Greg loves the challenge of shooting ‘under the gun’ – he had his score (time) figured up within minutes of leaving the range even tho the official scores still haven’t been sent out! LOL!
He loves the different courses; they are set up differently for each shoot – you don’t know what you’re in for until you get there!
We found out all sorts of good-to-know info from our first shoot. What to expect, to bring way more rounds than suggested (LOL!), to show up early for registration since last registers shoot first (!), and different things that each boy needs to work on…
At the shoots, everyone pitches in after each shooter to collect their ‘brass’ (empty shell casings). If the shooter likes to reload their shells, then everyone gives them back their brass, but if they don’t, whoever wants it can keep it. Since some of the shooters didn’t want their 9mm shells, we have hundreds of rounds to reload just from this shoot.
The courses were quite varied – on this course, after the time beeped, you had to draw a card with your strong hand, look and see if it was red or black, then shoot the center targets with the corresponding color cards. After you shot the 3 middle targets that you had to, you had the option of shooting one of the terrorists on either side, BUT you HAD to shoot the card (HIT the card) on the target that was the same color as the one you drew – if you hit it, it was a 10 second minus (which means you could get a negative time on this course!), but if you missed, it was a 10 second penalty! Eli just went for the 3 targets in the middle, then shot the stop plate to stop his time.Greg, Eli, and Jake had a great time, and the other boys, and Vaughn, can’t wait to start joining in. After going and watching, I know that Beth would really enjoy it too (she stayed at the camper with the littles – we are parked at her 2 BFF’s house, so she wanted to stay home So, who knows, maybe it really will become a ‘family activity’ for us!
We are checking out other shooting competitions – there are quite a few different kinds! – and hoping that there is another one in our near future. In the meantime, the guys can be found reloading, dry-firing with rubber ammo (live ammo is pretty expensive right now!) and practicing magazine changes, and firing real rounds to get ready for the next shoot.
Good clean fun!!!