Jason, Gary, Gregg Garrett and I had the pleasure of shooting in the 3rd annual Texas Association of First Responders 3 gun match today. TAFR is a 501c3, non profit. Founded in 2007, TAFR was created to benefit law enforcement officers, fire fighters, and emergency medical personnel injured in the line of duty. It was an honor to donate to them today, I hope you will consider it, too. You can learn more about this noble cause at www.Tafr.org.
We could not have hand picked a better day to be outside shooting. The skies were lightly overcast and the HCSO range was all a shooter could ask for. Spacious, clean, and plenty of available berm space. This is a first class facility staffed by first rate people. I was honored to pop my 3 gun cherry at this place. I’ve never really considered 3 gun before because, In spite of spending half of my life at a shooting range, I have never been eager to really get to know how to really use a shotgun. Hell, I shot trap 6 months ago. That’s the extent of my shotgun shooting over the last 5 years. And I know, it’s my own damn fault. I should’ve used these last couple of weeks to get some work in, but I’m hard headed and I didn’t. I just kept plugging away with my pistol, telling myself “I’ll train on the 870 tomorrow”, and just never did it. And I had bad dreams all night last night. Repeatedly trying to quickly reload a shotgun and failing miserably. It would be a sign of things to come…
As I waited to shoot the first course of fire, my heart was pumping pretty good. Like I said, this is my first 3 gun match. I’m shooting with my friends and a whole bunch of people I don’t know, all watching. And predictably, shotgun is in the mix. Great. Even worse, as I shouldered my rifle and stared through my Trijicon SRS, my butt instantly puckered as I couldn’t get the dot to pop up in my glass. The same red dot that was perfectly functional just 8 hours before during my function check routine. I’m guessing the solar panel atop the optic will do you no good on a cloudy day. But luckily, I travel with spare batteries and was able to get my optic in the game. I stepped up to the course and plotted my strategy. I tried to plan my course of fire. I scanned the targets and looked for my best route through the scenario. I had a plan, and I knew what I had to do. But then the buzzer went off…
THE FIRST STAGE:
As I settled in the front seat of what used to be a small SUV, I scanned the field and the targets. I was confident in my ability to jump from the seat and knock out 6 quick pistol shots. I was good with picking up my rifle and firing off another 8 from the rear window. From there, it’s off to the races to the other side of the berm for 12 more rifle rounds from a kneeling position, through a barrier window. Next, safety the rifle and drop it muzzle first into a 55 gallon drum. Lastly, pick up the shotgun and whack some steel. No reloading on this stage if you hit ’em all. Whew. I gripped the steering wheel and heard the obligatory “Shooter ready?” As I nodded, my nerves settled and I relaxed. The buzzer sounded, and I whipped out of the door, spun, got my master grip, and attempted to draw my gun. Two or three good tugs later, I realized I was NOT wearing my trusty Comp-Tac Flatline holster. I WAS wearing a Safariland ALS, a level two retention holster. I drew my gun and all I got was a wedgie. The ALS has a hook on the paddle that grips on the bottom of the users belt. No matter how hard you tug on that sucker, it isn’t coming off your hip. I told myself to slow it down and refocus, and I did. I took my time and I hit all my shots. I moved to rifle and hit all of those, too. I fumbled with the shotgun for a bit before getting it into service. I hit 5 of 6, had to shuck one more shell in the chamber, fumbled it, racked it, and polished off the last target. It felt like a clean run and I figured on a decent score, even though I knew I took my time. Well, I didn’t realize how much time I took. So slow I might have been passed by an old lady on a rascal cart. I only beat two others in the group. A young teenager shooting with his dad’s team, and Gary:) I knew I had to kick it up a couple of gears.
I’d love to go into detail about matches 2-4, but all I need to say is, for me, “going faster” means my brain gets way dumber. I made 3 critical errors that added somewhere between 30 seconds and 3 days on my total time. It was brutally stupid. I completely skipped past one target and left it free of bullet holes, earning not one, but two procedural violations. Also, not engaging my safety on the rifle before dropping it in the barrel. No telling how much time that one cost our team and myself. Thanks to a fine showing by Jason and Gregg, and a big time rally after a rough start by Gary, we were able to eek out “not last place”. 5th out of 7. I learned more today than I have in a long time on the range. Both about myself and my equipment. I’ve got a lot of work to do, and damnit, I’m going to redeem myself. That’s right, in spite of some really crappy shooting, I’m coming back. I had a BLAST. Running around like your hair is on fire and ripping away with 3 different guns is an incredible adventure. And great training, too. I also was able to learn from watching others with a higher skill set than my own. 3 gun competition is rapidly growing in popularity. Gear up, put your holster on and support shooting sports. Like me, you’ll be surprised just how much fun it is!
In closing, Gary and I both learned to “use what ya brung” and know your equipment. But his is a whole other story. I should’ve been working the draw out of my ALS (being a LE match, they allegedly required duty gear, but there was a lot of suspect “duty gear” being used) this past week instead of my Flatline. Training with it would’ve certainly improved my tug-the-hell-outta-the-gun-before-you-remember-it’s-in-retention draw. Thanks again to the good folks at TAFR and at the HCSO for hosting this shoot. And thanks to Dodge City Cookers for grilling up a ton of fine, Texas BBQ for all involved. Train, practice, and most of all, HAVE FUN. Shoot straight!