Last Friday, I went to my first pistol competition. There was some doubt as to whether I would go to the competition or not. I get this weird anxiety when facing new situations, and it makes me want to stay in my nice, safe home. Even more when I’m doing something alone. Yay introvert brain. Fortunately, I have a very supportive girlfriend and brother who encouraged me to go, and told me that if it weren’t for prior commitments, they would have come to watch. This from my girlfriend who is still somewhat uncomfortable around my pistol. So, it was with much trepidation that I belted on my holster and mag carrier and went out to my first pistol competition. My goal for the night was simple – finish and not DQ.
When I got to the range, the RSOs shepherded us into a classroom for the safety briefing and for us to begin setting up. There were about twenty of us competing. For at least a quarter of us, this was our first match. So, I don’t feel so bad about not realizing one big thing. The flyer said I needed 100 rounds of ammo, OWB holster, mag carrier, and three magazines. I didn’t realize that was the minimum requirements until I saw some of the other participants belting on four or five spare magazines. Fortunately, I kept extra spare magazines in my range bag. Unfortunately, no extra mag carriers. I loaded up five magazines – one for the pistol, two in the mag carrier, one tucked in my belt, and one in my pocket.
After sign in and getting our scorecards, the twenty of us were walked through the course of fire. Most of the targets were standard IPSC silhouette targets, and scoring was raw time plus additional time for hits outside the A-rings, for procedurals (breaking the rules), and for failing to complete. After Stage 1, the participant could chose to go to Stage 2 or 3.
**Stage 1** - Center of the bay. Engaging four targets at about fifteen yards through three ports - each target shot twice through each port, for a total of twenty-four rounds. Port one was shoulder height, so I would be able to shoot that without changing stance. Port two was about stomach height, and I would need to crouch to shoot through. Port three was about knee height, and I would need to kneel for that one.
**Stage 2** - Right side of the bay. Engaging three targets at five yards - each target shot five times, for a total of fifteen rounds. Target two had half the torso blacked out to represent cover. Target three only had the head available.
Stage 3 – Left side of the bay. Engaging two clay pigeons as “poppers” at fifteen yards. No round restrictions, but the clays must be at least 75% destroyed before the stage was considered cleared.
So how did I do? Well, I succeeded in not DQ’ing.
On Stage 1, I think I got a bit of buck fever. One miss, a few D-rings, and the rest split between C-ring and A-ring hits. Even though I kept telling myself I would need to reload on the third port, it was still a surprise.
Stage 2, I settled down some. Three misses due to hitting the blacked out parts of target three, but two B-rings, three C-rings, and the rest A-ring hits.
On Stage 3, I emptied the remaining half of my magazine for some chipping away at the pigeons. Reloaded and fired three more times. I pulled the trigger the fourth time and click. I reached up to rack the slide, and it didn’t want to budge. So, I let the RSO know, and I ended up with a failure to complete and a raw time of 129. My diagnosis on my equipment failure is a hard primer and me not yanking hard enough on the slide to clear the round. I’m basing that on the fact that when I handed my pistol to the RSO, he cleared it without issue.
The good – I had fun and was glad I overcame my anxiety. Drawing and reloading was smooth and easy.
The bad – Accuracy needs to be dialed in for small targets.
The ugly – I need to spend more time on malfunction drills. I also need to avoid IMI ammo for competitions. My M&P does not consistently work with that brand.