Wake County Action Pistol Match – No Mikes!

After a long hiatus, I competed in a pistol competition last night. Before you wonder too much about the title of the post, an “M” or a  “mike” is a miss on one of the targets. My goals were:

  • be safe
  • don’t get DQ’d (disqualified for unsafe behavior)
  • focus on accuracy, not time

I considered this a roaring success! I finished near the bottom of the list but I had “no mikes”, did not hit a non-threat (good guy) and I was pleased with my “penalty” scores (lower is better).

The last time I competed was the 2013 Carolina Cup. That was 15 months ago. I stepped back for a list of reasons but I missed competing. As time passed, I felt inadequate about my skills and was hesitant to get restarted. Then the perfect opportunity popped up and I ditched the excuses and jumped onboard: The Wake County Action Pistol Match!

I read about this or heard about it on the TriangleTactical.net blog or podcast  (Thanks Luke & Ben!). That pointed to a facebook page: Wake County Action Pistol Match. I read the rules, asked a question about equipment and asked to join the email list. Then I saw there was on spot left and I grabbed it. This filled  up fast.

[Download: Match FAQ and Match Rules. Note: I created the FAQ from various sources on 9/12/2014. I take responsibility for any errors.] 

I ran into one of the match hosts, Scotty, on Saturday when I was teaching the NRA class. He gave me a high five and said he’d gotten me signed up. His enthusiasm for this match is contagious. It made me feel less anxious about the decision to attend. He is truly an ambassador for this event.

Don't Shoot the good guys!

Don’t Shoot the good guys!

Match Day
I checked through all the gear I used to shoot IDPA, loaded all 5 magazines, checked again to see that my 1911 (in 9mm) was unloaded and drove to the range.

The match briefing was promptly at 6:30pm.

I wasn’t the only female shooter. Our squad had three. One was the RSO running the bay. I’m hoping over time to see even more ladies participate. I met some shooters that were new to me, asked questions, and even answered a few. I found the other shooters to be accepting in all cases and welcoming in others. It was clear that many were very loyal to this match. The focus is on having a enjoyable match event rather than getting bogged down in a long set of rules. They are serious about safety, beyond that it’s about challenges, shooting whatever pistol you bring, and having fun.

We started on Bay 3 and had two short stages to shoot. One we shot seated, the other standing in one place with no movement required. That was a nice warm up for the other two stages. One of the guys pasting pointed out a target I’d shot where he was able to cover both shots with one paster. I don’t shoot like that nearly enough but it sure made me smile.

I had malfunctions on both stages. I got a “click” instead of a bang on my first stage. I glanced down and the mag was hanging partially out of the gun. TAP and click again. I hear, “Rack it”. So I did. Thank you! And back to bang! My second stage I got another click and I went immediately to TAP, RACK, BANG. This is why I shoot matches: I want to encounter these problems in a controlled environment to practice the corrective actions. Why did it go click? My best guess is that I was riding the slide. I had no further malfunctions on the last two stages.

I also realized I didn’t understand the specifics of the scoring. They are using USPSA targets and this provides an overview. We shot the metric targets. For this match, the power factor is ignored. Scores are from time and accuracy only. The match results display both – so it’s possible to work on your accuracy initially and only look at those results.

The third stage we shot required movement. Another reason for shooting matches: It’s fun and you can’t get this kind of experience shooting in a lane. We started close to the first set of targets, then backed up (keeping the gun pointed downrange at all times), moved around a barrier to get to the next set of targets. More movement to the right, shoot, and to the right again for a final set of targets.

The 4th and final stage we shot required starting at the back, shooting two targets to each side of a barricade, then moving forward and shooting 3 targets through a port. The “port” is a tiny open window in a wooden wall. I believe it was just under a foot square. This is where I experienced something entirely new.

I extended the pistol partway through the port and when I pulled the trigger, the recoil caused the top of the pistol to bang into the top of the window. It’s amazing how fast your brain can process something like this: “gun hitting anything, not good — no damage to the gun or the wood — this is actually dampening the recoil — I wonder if I hold the gun higher….” at which point I’d shot all 3 targets twice.

My total round count for the match: 60 rounds. Each stage required a reload for me. I was shooting a 10 round magazine. The standing stage required a mandatory reload after putting a single shot in each target.

Here’s another new thing for me: it’s ok to drop loaded magazines during a reload. In IDPA matches this behavior will incur a penalty. With these matches, do what works for you. So, knowing the stage, you can opt when to reload and not waste time shoving a partially loaded magazine in a pocket.

After we shot our last stage, the squad cleaned up the bay before leaving. I heard that some of the competitors would be heading to a local restaurant after the match, but I opted out. I had a commitment to a 6am yoga class on Tuesday morning. We were done shooting at 8:40. I was in my car headed home at 8:53 pm. That’s quick work!

Will I go back? Absolutely!




New Instructor, not a new shirt / Ladies NRA First Steps Pistol

IMG_20140911_191914-cropI volunteered to assist with the Ladies Only NRA First Steps Pistol class at the Wake County Range yesterday (9/13/14). I taught as part of a team and covered the section on ammunition.

This is a 4 hour class designed for new shooters. Most of the time is spent in the classroom but every student shoots from a benchrest position as part of the class. Pistols in .22lr are available for each student. If you have a gun and you want to shoot it, that is an option also. There is no test and every student is issued a certificate of completion. If you take the NC Concealed Carry class at the Wake County range, you’ll get this class again as the gun safety portion of the day.

I’ve only taught one other time since I got my instructor credentials, and I realized I needed an instructor shirt to wear. I bought a long sleeve NRA Instructor shirt last winter, but it’s summer now and that indoor range can be sauna hot this time of year. I also bought some instructor patches and it was time to put them to use. I had an old golf shirt I received from a previous employer back in the early 1990’s. The logo was small and as I over laid the patch, I said “BINGO!”. I would never have imagined all those years ago that this shirt would have a second life with the NRA.

Recycled Shirt

Thursday night I sewed on the patch. Friday night I drafted my lesson plan and Saturday I was at the range at noon to help set up for the class.

We had 18 ladies. I think at least half had never shot a gun before. By the time they left, we no longer had shooting virgins!

Teaching as part of a team is the best of all worlds: you get actual experience teaching and you have other instructors to back you up and give you feedback on how to improve. Volunteering at the Wake County Range means they take care of the publicity, the scheduling, the registration and they have student packets in stock. That’s all part of offering a class that most students never think about. It allows me to focus on improving my teaching skills.

These are all 50 round boxes of 9mm Luger ammunition.

These are all 50 round boxes of 9mm Luger ammunition.

They also have built up a great set of teaching aids. I wanted to contribute something so I put together an example of the variety of boxes that 50 rounds of 9mm Luger can come in. NOTE: No live ammunition is allowed in the classrooms, so all these boxes are empty. I shot most of this long ago.

I also had plastic packs of brass in common handgun sizes. I only shoot .22 and 9mm but when you pick up your brass at a public range, you end up with a little bit of everything. I even had a single bullet (just the lead) I’d found on the floor. I may reach out to friends who reload to get a few more examples to show some of the variety of bullets available.

If you know a woman who would like to learn to shoot from a staff of female instructors, check out the classes on the upcoming class schedule at their website. They typically post 3 months at a time, so if you don’t see what you want now, check back later.

Next up for the ladies:

N.C. Concealed Carry Handgun Certification Course
Sunday, September 21, 2014 (Ladies Only)
9 a.m.–5 p.m.  Fee: $80