Man To Man To Some Other Man

Thinking more about my comment from last week,

It’s rather rare to have more than two shooters with the same Classification/Division on any given squad, making man-to-man comparisons pretty much impossible.

Maybe that’s another reason why practical shooting sucks to watch in person. Yes, there are Super Squads stuffed to the gills with people at the top of the game, but even within the Super Squad, you’ll have Production shooters and Open Shooters and Limited Shooters and even a few freaks shooting wheel guns, so when that squad runs through a stage, at best you’ll have three runs that can be directly compared to each other, and those runs will probably be interspersed between the other ten or so people on the squad, killing the tension and suspense.

Watching, say, Max vs. Chris Tilley vs. KC compete in Open is exciting. Watching Max shoot Open, then Jerry shoot Revolver and Rob shoot Single Stack and Chris Tilley shoot Open and Nils shoot Limited and Phil shoot Limited and THEN AND ONLY THEN watch KC shoot in Open is whole lot less so.

Product Review: Troy Ambi Mag Catch and Bolt release

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

Ambidextrous Bolt Release
Advantages: I never knew how much I needed one until I got one
Disadvantages: Ummn, none.
Rating: Five out of five stars


I was part of the staff of a 3 Gun match before I ever shot a match. Thanks to my home range being the home of the Superstition Mountain Mystery 3 Gun, I got to see what 3 Gun was like when all I owned was my CZ, a .22 revolver, a 20ga 870 and a sporterized M1903. Also, I’m cross-eye dominant, so I shoot pistols right-handed but shoot long guns left-handed. I bought a Mossberg 930 SPX (not the JM Pro version, which wasn’t available at the time) because the receiver-mounted safety on that gun is easy to use with the left handd, but the rifle, however, was another matter. AR-15’s are the rifle of choice in 3 Gun, and it took some time for me to figure out what works best for how I shoot.

First off was an ambidextrous safety selector, something that I consider a “must have” for anyone who shoots an AR-15 left-handed, as it allows me to easily toggle the safety without altering my grip on the rifle. Next was an ambidextrous charging handle to allow me to work the action with my left hand and not change my grip on the gun, and an oversized mag well for faster and easier reloads.

This system worked well for me for a few years, but I recently added a Troy Industries ambidextrous mag release and bolt release, and they’ve proven to be very useful as well. The magazine release is a no-brainer: Having to bring up my right (support) hand to hit the mag release button in order to drop an empty magazine was costing me a few precious seconds and the ambi mag catch eliminates that extra time. At first, I didn’t see a big need for the ambidextrous bolt release because I can easily hit the bolt catch with my left-hand index finger during a reload. Where the Troy release really shines, however, is after the stage is over and I need to unload and show clear. Locking the bolt open left-handed to show the Range Officer that my gun is empty is a breeze now with the new release, and I’m now considering adding to my other AR’s as well.

I’m very happy with both the upgrades and will be adding them to all my AR’s in the near future. If you shoot left-handed, these are definitely “must have” items for your AR’s.

We’re All On The Same Team. And That’s A Bad Thing.

Thinking more about the shooting sports as a television sport, why is it that in a sport that is all about about intense competition, there are zero rivalries? Football grew in the 70’s when it was the clean-cut Cowboys vs the bad boys of Oakland or Pittsburgh. Basketball grew with Bird vs. Magic (and then Jordan). Baseball grew with the dominance of the Yankees in the 20’s/30’s. In each of these cases, we had someone to root for and we had someone to root against.

Cubs fans, of course, continue to cheer for their team, and cheerfully deny reality.

I digress.

It’s great that everyone in practical shooting pretty much gets along and helps each other out. That sort of thing makes it a fun sport to shoot every weekend, but it makes for lousy TV because there is nothing to get excited about. We like to cheer for the rebels, the rule-breakers. NASCAR blossomed when there was a face/heel competition between good ol’ boy Dale Earnhardt and slick Yankee Jeff Gordon. Who are the rebels in practical shooting? Where are the rivalries? Why isn’t Glock vs. S&W vs. Sig as big a deal as Ferrari vs. McLaren vs. Mercedes?

Top Shot did this brilliantly. Yes, there was constant whinging from shooters about the drama, but you know what? We also secretly and not-so-secretly cheered for our heroes and booed for villains. We complained, but it worked.

Give us conflict. Give us rivalries. Give us somebody/something to cheer for, and we’ll give you the ratings.

Ok, 3 Gun Nation, Now I’m Interested.

I was in the crowd for the taping of Season 1, Episode 1 of 3 Gun Nation, and I’ve been following the progress of their show for a while. I stopped watching it, however, after the switched to Sportsmans Channel after NBC Sports decided to go full anti-gunner and drop the show from their lineup, and to be honest, I thought the switch from FNH to Armalite was not a sign of growth.


After listening to Chad and Peter talk about the ideas behind switching the format to shorter, more repetitive stages and Regional/National/Pro format, I get it, and not only do I get it, I’m intrigued. They talk about using America Ninja Warrior as a model, live streaming events, Roku channels, bypassing the networks with new media and translating the lingo of the sport into the words of the common man…. all the things I’ve been talking about for years now.

I hope they succeed, and I’m going to go back and watch this season to see how close they are to achieving their goals.

p.s. 3 Gun Nation teamed up with a local conservative radio station for cross promotion. I’ve said before that when it comes to getting out the vote, gun owners are the new evangelicals. In the 80’s, it was the minions of Falwell who were knocking on doors and driving voters to the polls, and today, it’s NRA members. The politicians want something from us, let’s make sure we get something from them in return.

Match Report – Louland 3 Gun

No video from the match, but I’m pretty pleased with how I shot, with one proviso.

  • My dry-fire practice with the pistol continues to pay off. In the past, it’s been move, plant, shoot, move, plant, shoot, etc. Today, though, I dropped three poppers on the move from one shooting area to another, although I did need four shots to drop three poppers.
  • The TacCom Quadloads are really paying off on the shotgun side. I ended up in fifth place out of 13 shooters on a shotgun-only stage. I’ll take it.
  • I’m jerking the trigger on my rifle. I’m impatient, and I need to start seeing my sights and calling my shot with every squeeze of trigger.

All in all, though, I’m happy where I am as a shooter right now. I know I have room for improvement, but I know what I need to improve and how I can improve it, so there is hope.

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.

Challenge accepted, Mark Passemeneck

The question was asked on Facebook:

If I were to tell you to set up a match for your 100 closest friends, what would it look like?

1. What discipline(s)
2. How many stages
3. How many days
4. Physicality
5. Hoser, precision, mix type of stages
6. Set schedule or carnival style
7. You are not rich, so you do have an entry fee…how much?
8. Match meals or no
9. Other group activities or no
10. Prize table or no.

To answer each question,

  1. What discipline(s)
    IDPA, USPSA, Steel Challenge, 3-Gun, Precision Rifle and Sporting Clays
  2. How many stages?
    A blind tactical pistol stage run under IDPA-esque rules where the shooters don’t get to do a walk thru or even see where the targets are before the buzzer goes off, another “regular” IDPA Stage, Outer Limits, a USPSA stage, two 3 Gun stages, a Precision Rifle Stage and some clays.
  3. How many days?
  4. Physicality
    Moderate. No IronMan-esque stages, but not Bullseye either.
  5. Hoser, precision, mix type of stages
    The blind stage would be accuracy-heavy and the rest a mix of hoser/precision, with cool props a la Mystery Mountain.
  6. Set schedule or carnival style
    Carnival style
  7. You are not rich, so you do have an entry fee…how much?
    Enough to cover expenses and kick in something for the RO’s and the prize table. Let’s say $200, max.
  8. Match meals or no?
    Depending on the venue. Rio Salado has restaurants a half-hour away, but others don’t have that luxury. I kinda like match meals, those, as it helps with socialization.
  9. Other group activities
    Factory demos are always good, and maybe a pay-for-play full auto demo.
  10. Prize Table or no
    Definitely yes, with prizes given out at random and for best scores.

I like the mix of speed, tactical, long-range and shotgun work that a match like would provide. Your ideas?

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.

Match Report: 3 Gun at Altair Training

I got in a bunch of new gear in advance of an article for another firearm blog about what it takes to shoot 3 Gun left handed (thank you SO much, cross-eye dominance), so I thought I’d put my new gear to the test at a 3 Gun match atAltair Gun Training.

This was Stage 4 at the match, a pistol-heavy 3 gun stage with short-range rifle targets, and aside from a shot-up no-shot and two not-shot shoot plates (derp), I did ok. Note my prancing across the stage with my rifle, caused by the need to keep my rifle pointed downrange while carrying it left-handed. This is also the first time I’ve used my TacCom shell holders in a match, and I thought they REALLY speeded up my shotgun reloads, although they did have a nasty tendency to drop a shell or two as my body flexed.

The dry fire work I’ve recently put in showed up on the pistol stage, where I was one of the few competitors to go 1 for 1 on most of those $!#% plates. Where I need work is on the long-range rifle shots, especially from all the goofy positions on a VTAC barrier. More work, probably with my .22 adapter, is needed to get better at that sort of thing.

Overall, I was very pleased with both my gear and my performance: I managed to win the Tac Iron division, which sounds really good until you realize there were only 18 people at the match and 3 people shooting Tac Iron, but hey, a win is a win, and look for the article sometime very soon.