Wednesday, September 19, 2012

North Mountain Practical Shooters Match

I finally made it back to North Mountain for their monthly USPSA match last weekend. The last time I was there was when I had the knee blowout, but the long absence had little to do with my knee troubles, and everything to do with free time.

The first stage our squad shot had four steel poppers, three static targets and two swingers. The moving targets where activated by hitting the larger steel poppers. It may have been me, but those swingers seemed to be moving extra fast! Interestingly, the three static paper targets had only the head portion exposed; the rest of the target hidden behind a sheet of black plastic. The plastic was deemed soft cover, which meant you could either carefully aim for the visible head, or shoot where you figured the A zone on the target was. I believe everyone on my squad went for the "educated guess" shot.

The next stage included the dreaded Texas Star, which makes a regular appearance at North Mountain. It's also something I obviously never get to practice on. I was very happy to clear it, I believe, in 8 shots. In any event, I think it's the first time I've ever cleared a Texas Star without making a standing reload. Unfortunately I also hit a no-shoot target on this stage. However I did see it, and got off a makeup shot so I earned only the no-shoot penalty and not a miss on top of it.

Next up was a stage with a low-to-the ground plate rack and 4 "classic" (or turtle) targets. A mandatory reload was required between the steel and paper arrays. It took me a number of extra shots to knock over the plates. (There's this thing called the front site that was eluding me.)

The next stage also used the "classic" target and put our strong hand and week hand skills to use. I actually like shooting these types of stages. I do practice shooting one-handed frequently as I feel it's an important skill; both for competition and self-defense. Two strings were required on this course of fire. Shoot one array, a single hit on each target, then a mandatory reload, finishing with strong hand only hits on the remaining array. The next string made use of the weak hand. Obviously we all chose the closer array for our one handed strings.

The final stage was the classifier "Mini-Mart." Since I had already claimed a no-shoot earlier in the match, and this stage would not count for me as a Classifier since I had just shot it in August, I decided I would go for broke and shoot it as fast as I could. I didn't get a good grip on the gun at first, but had a really good run nonetheless, with 11 A's and 1 D. It looks like it would have been a low "B" classifier, instead of the low "C" I fumbled through last month. It's a bittersweet run since it won't count for my classifiers, but it was certainly satisfying to shoot the stage well.

I ended up 5th out of 15 Production shooters. But what was most exciting for me was that I hit 86.82% of the match points, 89.18% before the NS penalty. That's a personal high for this year. Overall it was probably one of the best matches I've had all season. After shooting the match, I recall just how enjoyable the North Mountain matches are. Match Directors Dan and Elaine put on fun matches and always manage to fit five interesting stages into a small space. (Photos of four of the stages are here.) North Mountain is unique, among the places I shoot, in that there's grass on the ground, rather than dirt or stone, and it always seems just a bit cooler there. It's a couple hours travel each way, with a stop for coffee, but the trip is pleasant and easy. Cranking up the 80's satellite radio station made the drive time pass even quicker. I was even home in time to get in some chores before relaxing with a refreshing post-match pint of Starr Hill Jomo Lager.

There's that star! And the No Shoot.

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