Match Report: LouLand 3 Gun, October 5, 2015

Continuing a theme from last week, I shot the 3 Gun match at LouLand with my trunk gun, a Kel-Tec SU16C, my home defense shotgun, a Mossberg 500, and the CZ P07 I’m carrying around these days.

The results were two-fold: I placed dead-last on every stage because I was drawing from concealment and wasn’t using gamer gear like the other competitors, and I learned a lot about how my defensive gear works under stressful conditions. Some thoughts…

  • Pistol
    Really nothing new to learn here, except that on one stage, the late-evening light entered the left lens of my glasses (my dominant eye) juuuuust right, washing out the view of my sights. It may not be a bad idea for me to learn to shoot with my non-dominant eye.
  • Shotgun
    The 500 ran like a 500 normally does, smooth and quickly. I didn’t carry the gamer reloading rig, but rather did all my reloads off the sidesaddle on the gun, one shell at a time. There was fourteen shots on the stage, all on poppers and falling plates, and my 500 holds 7+1 and has a 6 round sidesaddle on it, so if I did everything correctly, I wouldn’t have to reload from my pockets. And I did, so I didn’t. Whew.
  • Rifle
    Here’s where things got interesting. I have a SigTac 3x scope and a Sig Stoplite laser/light on the rifle, and I was pleased how well that worked on the long shots. However, I found myself looking through the scope at the close targets versus looking for the laser on the target. I’ve also found the light to be of limited use at night, so maybe it’s time for something new.

This is why I compete: To put my skills and gear to the test when the stakes are low, so I know they’ll work when the stakes are high. Here’s video of (some) of the rifle run.

Tactical Vs. Practical

I thought I’d break down the Louland match from a few weeks ago where I shot my subcompact Shield versus my normal gamer gear to see how much equipment actually affects performance. I’m comparing my scores to another “C” class shooter at the match who was running a Glock 19 with full mags to give some idea of what difference carry gear and drawing from concealment makes in a match.

Stage One
This stage traditionally has a lot of falling steel, mini-poppers and plate racks, meaning accuracy is at a premium. It was also the first stage I shot in the match with a gun I hadn’t practiced with for months, which led to some expected results.

Competitor One
Points: 110 – Points Down: 0 – Time: 32.48
Points: 80 – Points Down: 60 – Time: 79.69

Yeah, screwed the pooch big time on this one, leaving 6 targets un-shot. Moving on…

Stage Two
A more traditional steel stage, with some run and gun elements. The targets were bigger (A-C steel and poppers) and I’d settled down a bit and gotten used to the gun after the first stage. Here’s a photo and a stage diagram.

Stage Description: Shoot the lettered targets from their corresponding area.

Competitor One
Points: 120 – Points Down: 0 – Time: 16,42
Points: 120 – Points Down: 0 – Time: 54.10

Still slow, but getting better. As a way to judge the skill level of the other competitor and myself, I re-shot this stage the next day with my gamer rig, and did it in 20.69 seconds.

Stage 3
You’ve seen this one in the video, so let’s get to it.

Competitor One
Points: 95 – Points Down: 0 – Time: 19.44
Points: 98 – Points Down: 0 – Time: 28.54

Took me a while longer to shoot, but my comfort with the small gun was definitely improving. Also, I was very pleased with my accuracy on this stage, dropping only four Charlies and a Delta on all that paper.

Stage 4
The stage from the last part of the video, the one with the pond. Very fast, with few targets.

Competitor One
Points: 56 – Points Down: 0 – Time: 11.25
Points: 58 – Points Down: 0 – Time: 18.36

Having to reload and work from concealment really hit me on this stage.

Stage 5
All steel, with hostage-target and a bunch of tiny little rabbit auto poppers.

Competitor One
Points: 95 – Points Down: 0 – Time: 19.66
Points: 95 – Points Down: 0 – Time: 28.35

Again, having to reload twice as often and draw both my gun and magazines from reload affecting things there quite a bit.

All in all, I’m glad I shot the match with my carry gear because some of the targets (like the hostage shot) were quite tricky, and knowing that I can make the shot with my carry gear, on-demand and under stress, is a big confidence booster.

Product Review: ThruNite TI4 Flashlight

Advantages: Small size, powerful output, common battery type
Disadvantages: Confusing controls
Rating: Four out of five stars.

I’ve been carrying a SigTac flashlight for a year now, and I like it because it’s bright (enough), small and it takes one AA battery. Yes, this means it isn’t as bright as an equivalent flashlight that uses CR123 batteries, but it also means I can find batteries on the Moon if need be.

However, it’s a thick flashlight, and that thickness is something that I need to deal with when I take other things out of my pockets. Sometimes, it’s not about the gadget itself, but how that gadget plays well with others. Also, I wasn’t really satisfied with the output of the SigTac light, so I started to look around for a slimmer light with a bit more candlepower.

I settled on a Thrunight Ti4 LED light. It’s powerful, easily surpassing the output of the SigTac. It’s also light, slim and becuase it looks like a pen, it doesn’t scream “I have a tactical flashlight on me!” when it’s clipped in my front pants pocket.

2xAAA LED flashlight

If I have one complaint, it’s the controls. The light has four modes: Firefly (very weak), Low (good for navigation), High (good for dazzling someone) and Strobe (good for triggering epiletic seizures). The light starts out in the dimest mode available when turned on and then the other modes are accessed by double-clicking the end cap, twisting the lens barrel or pressing and holding the end cap. It works, but it’s a bit kludgy. I’d much prefer some way to set up the light so that it starts up in my preferred mode every time I turn it on, rather than having to cycle through all the modes to get to the one I want. Also, an “emergency switch” of some sort would be nice to quickly turn on the strobe function when I need to use it stop a potential bad guy from doing me further harm.

Overall, though, for the price, it’s a great light, and definitely an upgrade from the SigTac light I had been carrying or the Streamlight MicroStream I carried before that.

Production note: As an experiment, this post was created entirely on my iPhone 6+ using an iWerks Bluetooth keyboard and the Camera+, Tilt/Shift Generator and Resize Image apps. It took me about twice as long to write than if I’d used a full-size computer, mainly because the layout of the keyboard is slightly different and toggling between browser windows is tougher on a smartphone than it is on a desktop, but I found out I can write a blog post on gear I can fit into my pockets. Cool.

Current Every Day Carry

I’ve made a number of changes to what I carry on a daily basis, so I thought a review is in order.


Clockwise from upper right left:

I carry the belt gear on a Uncle Mike’s tactical instructor’s belt, and I really like it. It’s infinitely adjustable and holds my gear in-place throughout the day. I don’t carry everything I *might* need, I carry the basics of, well, everyday carry. This is bare minimum needed to keep me safe and functioning on a daily basis.

Well that, and coffee.

The rest of the crap I need to live a day on my own I have near me in another bag, and an even bigger bag (and gun) to deal with the really bad stuff.

Your gear?

So just what is a “training scar”?

Judging by this conversation, a training scar is best defined as “a process or style that a student has which a firearms teacher cannot integrate into his teaching”.

Look, I know I have a tendency not to look around after a course of fire is over. Despite that, every time I’ve ran through a “blind” shoot house, where I didn’t know where the targets were or how many targets there were, I stopped only when the instructor told me the exercise was over.

Yep, despite not doing a “scan and assess” after shooting a stage, when it came time to replicate things in as real of environment as possible, I kept my guard up and kept treating it as “real”, even though it wasn’t.

It’s almost as if my mind and body know when I’m gaming, and when I’m not.

For me, the benefits of regular competition, namely, being able to deliver the shot quickly and accurately under stressful conditions, outweigh having to deal with integrating that into a “tactical” environment like a training class. Let’s stop worrying about “training scars” and start worrying about making the shot, no matter what happens before during or after the trigger press.

Match Report – Louland Pistol Match, 9-24-15

Once a year, I like to shoot my carry gear in competition to see how it performs in a stressful situations, so I brought my Smith&Wesson Shield in 9mm, Crossbreed Minituck and a pair of mag pouches to the Louland pistol match last week.

Shooting a match with a gun that holds 8+1 means you get a LOT of opportunity to practice your reloads, and despite this (and the super-short sight radius of the Shield), I did ok.

Here’s a video of another shooter running a stage with a Glock 19 versus my Shield. There is something to be said for having 15 rounds in a mag, as we shall now see, with special bonus footage of what happens when you set up a match, then have a Florida monsoon roll in the morning of the match.

It’s Tam’s Internet, we just post on it.

I was talking with a local firearms trainer over lunch last week about how situational awareness plays into a safe, secure lifestyle. We both agree that trainers who poo-poo the concept are missing the point of situational awareness: It’s not going to help you that much* when the proverbial stuff hits the proverbial fan, but it will help you avoid large amounts of fans and even larger amounts of, errr, stuff.

The main reason I carry a gun is because my situational awareness is not perfect. If it were, I’d stroll on out of the area and let the gunfight happen to somebody else.

Memo to self: Re-read “The Gift of Fear” in the very near future.

* I would like to revise and extend my previous remarks. As they say, knowing is half the battle, and knowing who you’re facing, where they are and how you can get away from them if needed is all part of gathering tactical intelligence-gathering. Or situational awareness, as we civilians call it.

The Purpose-Driven AR

For the last 20 years, buying an AR was the goal of buying an AR: Either they were banned, or they were about to be banned. Back then, you didn’t need a reason to buy an AR other than “It’s an AR, it’s in-sotck, and I want it.”

That is no longer the case, and the downturn in AR sales reflect that fact. Yes, there are people who buy guns for gun’s sake, but I’m not one of them, and I’m not certain that attitude reflects the majority of today’s gun owners, who buy guns for a reason, not because they’re “into guns”.

From my (brief) experience slinging steel over the counter, the big things driving AR’s these days are a) uniqueness or b) price. Either people are willing to pay more for an AR that does more than the average rifle, like, say, an LWRC or a Noveske, or else they want to buy the cheapest (not: I did not say “least expensive”) gun out there.

AR’s needed no other reason to exist beyond “we can buy one”, but that’s no longer the case now. It’s going to be interesting to see what they become over the next few years, as we move into a post-pessimist world of gun ownership. The reason for getting a defensive pistol are self-evident, and even shotguns have an aura of “I’m just protecting what’s mine” about them.

A rifle, though, is different, because a rifle allows for engagements at distances far beyond what non-gun people consider to be an “immediate threat”. Yes, the power of a rifle trumps the power of a pistol, but a shotgun does that as well, without the baggage of being something regularly seen in the hands of the military, not civilians.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not banging on the capabilities of a rifle as a self-defense weapon. I have one dedicated to just such a thing myself, and I also think that an AR-15 is an essential part of anyone’s arsenal, but acknowledging the realities means being able to overcome the problems, and getting the AR off the range and into the home is the logical next step for rifle manufacturers.