Competition Will Get You Killed On The Streets Of Iraq, Part Deux

First it was the Army, now it’s the Marines.*

The most dramatic recommendations from the fiscal 2015 Marksmanship Symposium at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, in October call for studying the overhaul of the Corps’ service rifles.

But those comprise only a small fraction of the overall approved and proposed changes that affect everything from ammunition to ranges and basic tables of fire used for annual rifle qualifications.

Some changes already have been approved, including revisions to the tables of fire for rifle training and qualification and the launch of three-gun style competitions for Marines throughout the fleet.

Parting thought: If you shoot 3 Gun with a service rifle, does it invalidate the “This is my rifle, this is my gun, one is for fighting, the other for fun” rule?

* Yes, I know, the Marines actually started this kind of program before the Army did, but I wrote about the Army’s program first, Mr. Pedantic Know-It-All.

Competitive Shooting Will Get You Killed On The Streets Of Iraq.

Army Marksmanship Unit

Or, you know, not.

Master Sgt. Scott Satterlee is really good at shooting things. He’s a member of the U.S. Army’s elite 1st Special Forces Group based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state. He’s also a nationally ranked competitive precision rifle shooter—and one of the military’s best marksmen.

Satterlee says he has learned a lot about firearms in the world of competitive shooting. It’s influenced how he shoots—and why he came to recognize flaws in how the military prepares soldiers for war.

He’s the operations sergeant at JBLM’s Special Forces Advanced Urban Combat Course. After years of combat deployments around the world, training soldiers and shooting at civilian weapon ranges around the United States, he thinks it’s time we radically revamp the way we think about firearms training.

Read the whole thing. Suffice to say that a bona-fide Tier One Operator got a wake-up call when he stepped into the box at a practical shooting match.

Hat tip to Phil Wong of Gator Farm Tactical for the story.

All In The Family

If you’re a member of a shooting club, eventually you’re going to run into shooting-club politics. The bullseye people think the practical shooters are a bunch of unsafe yahoos, the F-Class shooters want the long range on the same day that the 3 Gunners want it, and NOBODY can figure out those freaks that shoot smallbore silhouette.

One of the shooters last week wore a “SW Florida Marksman of the Year 2014″ t-shirt to the match. Now I have no idea how he got that shirt, but it got me thinking: What if clubs held a “Top Shot” competition of sorts that put shooters of all the disciplines at the club against each other? What if the bullseye guys had to (gasp!) move with a gun in their hands? What if the 3 Gunners did some 5 stand? What if the precision rifle shooters shot silhouette?

The divisions themselves would supply all the firearms for their stages and the points would be equally weighted between each so you’d have to put in a good showing at everything to be crowned “King of the Hill”, (and it would work better if there were cash and prizes on the line), but I’m thinking it would be a way to get people out on the range and trying new stuff.

We Have Met The Enemy, And They Is Us.

So there was a dust-up over the weekend between a popular online forum devoted to practical shooting and a professional firearms marketer resulting in the forum getting deleted and a bumper crop of butthurt.

And professional practical shooters wonder why they’re not getting the same money that professional bass fishermen do.

Let’s address the elephant in the room: The VAST majority of sponsored shooters are lousy spokespeople for their sponsors. The VAST majority of them think they’re getting paid to wear a jersey at a match, and that’s it, which shows off the sponsor’s products at a location uniquely unsuitable to buy the sponsor’s product, and that’s all that’s required of them in return for the sponsor’s support.

This is, of course, insane.

Aside from the fact that tieing the ROI of wearing a jersey to a match is pretty much impossible: All that wearing a shirt does is show off the sponsor’s product to a very select, very “inside baseball” clientele. This is ok if you’re selling, say, speed loaders or holsters for Open class, but if you want to sell CCW gear or self-defense ammo, it’s insane.

The bottom line is, if your sponsored shooter can’t regularly write a blog post, do a YouTube video or post to Instagram, their audience is limited to people like them, and your money is being spent preaching to the choir. Get a shooter that can talk about your product to people outside of a shooting match, and you’ll get customers, not an ego boost.

Update: I should say that I don’t think EITHER party in this matter has the high ground. Part of being a marketing professional in today’s world is understanding what the Streisand Effect is and how it may affect your clients, and part of being a professional shooter is acting professional, at a match or elsewhere.

Product Review: Sig Sauer CP-1 Scope and STL-300 Stoplite.

kel-tac su16c

My “trunk gun”: A Kel-Tec SU16C with a SigTac CP1 scope and an STL300 laser/light.

I shot a 3 gun match last year with my trunk gun, a Kel-Tec SU-16C, to see how well it worked under stressful conditions. The rifle was surprisingly accurate and I was able to work the cross bolt safety with ease, which surprised me, because I shoot that gun left-handed due to my cross-eye dominance. One thing that did pop up, though, was that I forgot to turn on my red-dot sight before I started my first stage.

Whoops.

Now at a match, all that means is I’m a little more embarrassed than I usually am and a few wasted seconds to turn on the dot. However, if this had been a two-way shooting match with rounds incoming, that simple mistake would have serious issues.

SigTac CP1 3x Scope

Advantages: Clear optics, great value, good combo of magnification and field of view
Disadvantages: Confusing reticle
Rating: Four out of five stars

I decided to replace the Vortex Strikefire on top of my gun with an optic that was always on, and I settled on a Sig Sauer CP1 3×32 optic. I chose this optic for a couple of reasons: I wanted an “always on” optic that I could quickly use, and I wanted something that wouldn’t break the bank and leave me heartbroken if it broke on me. Yes, I could get an ACOG and get everything I wanted (and more) but somehow, putting a $900 optic on a $600 gun that I’m not going to use all that often just doesn’t make sense to me. Also, a fixed power 3x magnification scope gives me enough power to help reach out and touch people at 200+ yards and yet doesn’t give me tunnel vision for closer work.

reticleThe CP1 scope mounted quickly on the top of my SU-16, although its eye relief is a little short compared to the red dot I had on there before. If you closely look at the picture above, you’ll note that the scope is right up against the rear backup sight, and I still get a little blackout on it at times. The scope sighted in quickly: I prefer a 50 yard sight-in on my .223 AR’s, and I was able to get this one dialed in quite fast. The scope comes with options to light up the reticle in red or green light, and those controls are easy to activate and manipulate. The reticle, however, is my biggest complaint about this scope: It is much more confusing than a simple scope like this requires, and there is just too much information going on to quickly make a good decision about what line for what use at what range. A simple duplex or cleaner BDC reticle would have been much more useful than the mumbo jumbo inside this scope

Optically, however, the scope is quite nice, easily keeping up with other scopes in its price range. The colors are clear, the details are crisp and there is no noticeable “rainbows” of chromatic aberration in the reticle. It’s not an ACOG or a HAMR, but what it does, it does well.

SigTac STL300 Stoplite

Advantages: Blindingly bright, versatile, easy to set up and use
Disadvantages: Do I really need a strobe mode?
Rating: Five out of five stars

AA_magliteThe SigTac STL300 Stoplite is a natural compliment to the CP1 scope. It’s a powerful LED light, laser sight and vertical foregrip all in one, and attaches easily to any Picatinny-compatible rail. The LED light is very bright, and to test it, I set my camera on a tripod about 40 feet away from a white rollup garage door with the exposure set for 1 second at f5.6, ISO 400. The first pic is the garage door lit up with my old standby, a AA Maglite that I carried with me across two continents. The second shot is lit up with the STL300.

sig_stopliteAs I said, it’s bright.

The light on the STL300 has a “strobe” setting that I think is unnecessary and needlessly complicates things. If the bad guy(s) you are lighting up are not understanding that their lives are about to change for the worse, I don’t see how strobing them is going to reinforce that message.

The controls on the STL300 were set exactly where I wanted them: I found the laser and the flashlight easy to switch on, but due to my cross-eye dominance, I shoot long guns left-handed, and the controls may not be as well-placed for right-handed shooters.

The STL300 may not have the same rugged appearance as its higher-priced cousins from other manufacturers, and I haven’t done a ‘torture test” on it to see how it fares under highly stressful conditions, but you know what? I don’t care. I am NOT a Tier √-1 Operator operating operationally in an operational operating environment: I have a trunk gun in my trunk for the (thankfully) very slim chance that I’ll need something more than my CCW gun to deal with the crap going on around me, so that means the accessories on that gun are probably never going to be put to the test.

But I’m comfortable and secure with what the CP1 and STL300 will do if, God Forbid, I need to call on them. They’re not top-of-the line milspec gear, but I’m not a top-of-the-line milspec guy. Howver, these two SigTac accessories are definitely a step or three up from the bargain brands you see out there on Amazon.com and such.

If you’re looking for a couple of accessories to make your AR more effective in a hairy situation, you’d do a lot worse than these two SigTac accessories. I found both the CP1 scope and the STL300 Stoplite to be a good value for the money.

New New Year’s Shootey Goals

Didn’t really do to good with goals I set last year (what else is new?), and I partly blame the tremendous upheaval our family went through in 2014, but those same upheavals gave me the tools with which to make those goals this year.

Lemme ‘splain.

I had the goal last year of making B Class Production and IDPA Sharpshooter. My plan to achieve that was to shoot more matches, something that moving across the country (twice!) interrupted.

In the words of Tony Stark, “Not a great plan.” Shooting a match did not give me more insight into how I needed to improve my shooting: I had reached a plateau, and I didn’t know it. All that shooting was making me one HECK of a C Class shooter, but nothing more than that.

Having a shooting hiatus imposed on me due to the changes in my life gave me time to pause and reflect on where I was as a shooter and made me realize that what I needed was more matches, but more off-line practice.

So that’s my resolution for 2015: A combination of shooting analysis, dry-fire practice, drills and matches designed to boost my skill with a handgun to where I can shoot Sharpshooter in IPDA and B Class in Production. My goals are not the finish line of the new classifications, my goal is the process.

My other goals (and again, they are process-orented) is get sufficient DOPE on my rifle out to at least 500 yards and to switch my 3 Gun shotshell system from the California Competition Works holders I currently use to a Taccom Duaload system, because gamer.

Gun-wise, I’d love to get a pistol-caliber AR carbine or similar, however, the CZ Scorpion and CMR-30 are calling out to me with a clear, strong siren’s call, and a 1911 set up for Single-Stack is still on my wishlist.

Happy New Year, everyone, and may all your Mikes be on no-penalty disappearing targets.

The Next Step In 3 Gun Competition

trM3GIgoodbye

First, I’m more than a bit bummed out that I will never, ever shoot the Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun match.

“It is with a twinge of sadness that I’m informing you … we have made the strategic decision to formally end the world’s first night time and premiere 3-Gun competition, the Crimson Trace Midnight 3-Gun Invitational,” said CT’s marketing director Kent Thomas. “I know this will be a disappointment to many of you, but after much discussion, deliberation and thought, we’ve decided to go out on top, leaving each of you and the industry wanting more.”

Be not afraid, though, all hope is not lost, and what will replace the Midnight 3 Gun looks REALLY interesting.

The inaugural “Starlight 3-Gun” will feature three-days of amateur and professional competition at an east-coast location yet to be announced. There will be an open enrollment for experienced 3-gun competitors and interested shooters who are new to 3-gun competition will have the opportunity to qualify the Starlight 3-Gun via participation in other qualifying 3-gun events. 

“Our long-term goal is to popularize the concept of athletic shooting competitions and create local, regional and national events where everyone from a young children shooting beginner courses can compete at the same venue as the pros. The full-blown pro circuit will combine TV, online and live events to fill up arenas and athletic facilities across the country. Our goal is to make shooting competitions entertaining- and to do that, we’re amping up the entertainment value- without sacrificing safety.” 

Okay, now I’m interested. Adding more excitement and entertainment to the experience of WATCHING a match will, by default, add interest to the sport. Kudos to Jim Shepherd for trying to take 3 gun out of the action shooting ghetto, and I’m looking forward to seeing what the first match will look like.

Out Of Season.

Stage Rifle

I’m experiencing something new out here in the Midwest: An “off season” for practical shooting. In Arizona, you can shoot a match pretty much every day of the week (and twice on Sundays), but here in a small town in Missouri, where snow is lightly falling down as I type this, there is definitely a prime season for shooting and a not-prime season. 

And that not-prime season is now, so I’m spending my time dry-firing, working on stopping and starting my movement, and tweaking my equipment load-out for next year. 

It’s a bit different, because it gives me time to think and reflect on my goals and what I’m going to do accomplish them. There wasn’t really that breathing space in Arizona, because we’d go from Western States to Superstition to stupidly hot shooting weather (but still shooting weather) to Area 2 to SHOT…

… rinse, lather, repeat. 

But having a breather is new to me, and I like it. The trick is going to be spending my time working on my skills these next few months and not just wasting them away playing Combat Mission: Normandy. 

SO did not need to know about this.

Ok, I do, but I just decided what my next gun purchase was going to be, and then this pops up in my feed today.

CZ14_Scorpion_EVO3_S1-L-e1416840329704

Enter the CZ Scorpion EVO Pistol. A 9mm carbine that is sold in a pistol configuration and has all of the modern features gun owners are demanding, including a full length top rail for optics and multiple rails on the hand-guards for diverse configuration options. 

However, the best part about the new Scorpion? The price point. With an MSRP of $849 and a street price likely in the $700′s it’s far below the current market price of other competitive options.

So we’re probably looking at a retail price of $850-900 when we add in a SigBrace and adapter, meaning this hits the sweet spot of price/features in the pistol-caliber carbine world, and it’s a CZ to boot. 

Sigh. I wonder how comfortable the couch is to sleep on for decades at a time…