A beautiful day to shoot IDPA (March 12, 2017)

Triple Shot(big)
I started my day with a snow covered car. And a commitment to pick up a holster and 3 mag pouches from the local guy (D&D Holsters) I bought them from last year. My house was burglarized last fall, most of my shooting gear was stolen and I was in the process of rebuilding. This was the last bit of equipment I needed to shoot my next match. The forecast predicted that the snow wouldn’t stick and my holster would be ready for pickup at noon, so I took a broom to the car to remove the snow and I headed north to The Range in Oxford.

I had no intention of shooting a match. Really. There was snow on the ground! I think the last match I shot was back in May of 2016. I needed to practice with the new gun and the new holsters. I wasn’t sure I even remembered how to do a reload on the clock.

But an hour later I arrived and the weather had turned beautiful. It was 50 degrees and warm in the sun. I ran into friends I hadn’t seen in months. Everyone of them encouraged me to shoot. The holster I picked up fit the gun with a minor adjustment and the mag pouches were perfect with no adjustment.

I was short on ammo since I was sure it would be much too cold for to shoot. A friend filled that gap and said he’d give me what I needed if I ran short.

  • Was I ready to compete? No.
  • Was all my gear the way I wanted it it? No.
  • Was my gear sufficient? Yes.
  • Could I be safe? Yes.

I sighed up and shot the match. I was a good decision. Thanks to everyone who badgered me into it!

I had chosen a down vest that morning due to the cold so this was my first match using a down vest as a cover garment. It worked fine.

I remembered what I liked best about shooting a match: spending time with friends. I’m not competitive. I always place near the bottom of the list. But I really enjoy the sport and I’m a safe.shooter. They asked me to help out with scoring so I pitched in and did that as well. Once the match was over I checked in with the guys who were running the timer to get feedback on how we worked together. I’m glad I did. I’ll be able to do the job better when I’m asked again.

The timer keeper is responsible for ensuring no one wanders into the line of fire as well as recording the time, the points down and any penalties. I was focused on the scoring part of that list. I was aware of where the rest of the squad was subconsciously but I’ll be looking more actively to keep other shooters safe if/when asked to help again.

We shot moving targets, we moved and shot stationary targets, we shot both paper & steel, we shot through walls and had to back down a hallway and make a right to get yet more “bad guys” (targets) in the shoot house. It was sunny and warm. It was absolutely a good decision to participate. It was an excellent day.

I’m working on making peace with my poor scores and enjoying the good parts of the day. Like the triple hit I made on a target from my first stage (above). The requirement was 3 shots per target. This was at t 15 yards, I think. That’s a sweet grouping and really made me smile. I have much to work on but I’m really thrilled when I see results like this.


The 1911 Saga: Cost

I took a defensive shooting / beginner competition class last October. The instructor insisted my gun did not fit my hands well. I really liked that gun (Springfield XD9) but I agreed. The same reasons are spelled out in these blog posts:

  • From the Cornered Cat: “Big” excerpt: “When a handgun is too large for you, it does not mean you cannot shoot the gun at all. Obviously, you can! And you can enjoy it, too. But a self-defense gun should fit your hand as perfectly as possible.”
  • From When the Balloon Goes up: “How to know if a pistol is too big (or too small)
I don’t like to spend money. I set financial goals for myself and a buffer that will let me ride out multiple months of unemployment is a requirement in my life. I rode the dot.com boom and bust in San Francisco for 10 years. That buffer helps me sleep at night.
The instructor recommended I purchase a 1911. If I couldn’t afford that, I should look at a S&W M&P 9. I’m very invested in learning to shoot well, so after agonizing over the decision, I opted to look at the 1911 options. Then I had to shop for one. For competition I wanted a 5″‘ barrel (more accurate) in 9mm (more affordable to shoot). I looked a local shops, online, asked friends about options and, about a month later I  snatched up the S&W 1911 in 9mm that appeared in the shop where I normally shoot. I paid cash to save about $40 in credit card fees.

Brand new 1911

Here’s the total so far to switch to the new gun:
  • $1290 –  for the gun and 2 magazines
  •     $90 –  1 Holster in green by Daranich Tactical (offset and dropped)
  •     $70 –  2 mag carriers in green by Daranich Tactical (offset)
  •   $129 –  3 additional Wilson Combat magazines (for a total of 5)
  •     $80 – 4 hour class on complete take down for a 1911
  •    $90 –  specialized cleaning tools and supplies from the take down class
  •   $156 – new grips, installed + two tools for take down + A Wilson Combat Take down Manual
Total: $1905

All the new gear.

I also spent $80 on a dropped offset holster for my Springfield XD9 to use until I got the 1911 purchases sorted out and $75 on a Woolrich Concealment vest. That brought my total expenditures, ignoring ammunition, to $2060 for October/November of 2012.

It took about 6 weeks to get the slim and get them installed. I basically had to start over learning to draw and to work the gun (because of the safety). I shot matches in late July, mid-September, and late October with my XD9. Due to these purchase and the new learning curve I didn’t shoot another match until January.

I haven’t taken any further classes and won’t until I can replace the cash I spent to switch guns. I still practice or shoot about once a week but no private or group lessons for now.
Was it a good decision? I’m not sure.

The down side: This gun is very finicky. The safety requires thinking about even more new things. It malfunctions easier. I have wasted lots of time at matches figuring out what’s wrong with my gun.

The upside: It’s thinner. More importantly, it’s heavier. I’m now able to shoot without re-positioning my hands on the gun between shots. When I’m ready to start shooting faster, the reduced recoil will help. The trigger is much lighter. I’m starting to take that for granted but it has surprised the friends that have shot this gun.

For now: I’m determined to learn as much as I can. I’m going to shoot with this gun for the rest of this year and then decide if I should be looking for something else.

The Label Project

The last competition match I shot almost cost me a holster. The day after the match I dumped out my range bag and was doing a quick inventory when I noticed: no kydex holster for the XD. That was bad, very bad. The holster set me back $80 and I really, really did not want to buy another one.

I was headed back to the shop for a class that afternoon so I went early. I checked out the room where we hung out between stages and where I’d packed up my gear. The table was pristine and clean. My heart sunk.

A couple was filling out forms, probably their first visit to the range. I was looking through every box and container around them when the gentleman asked, “Are you looking for something?”. I explained and he glanced into a large box on the floor next to him that contained VHS tapes and was labeled, “Free – Please take”. He said, “Is this want you are looking for?” The cynic in me thought he was messing with me, but hallelujah!. He picked up my holster and I gave him a huge grin. I told him he’d made me a very happy girl. I must have knocked it off the table when I was packing up.

Lessons learned:

  • Pay attention
  • Label your gear so that an honest person will know who to return it too
Tonight I did just that:

All gear labeled! Hopefully I won’t misplace anything again but if I do there is hope for it to be returned.

Included: belt, ear muffs, custom ear plugs, 4 holsters, 3 mag pouches, glasses, and 3 sets of magazines.

I also numbered the individual magazines. An instructor advised me to do that. Why? If you start having problems with a magazine you can tell if it’s always the same one or if it’s randoms (ie: an issue with the gun).

And yes, I know using a label maker is kind of nerdy, but I really like the results. It will be interesting to see how the labels wear and if they stay attached to the gear. I have a small concern that the magazine labels will be scraped off when I load then stick in the magazine well, but that easy enough to fix. Each set has the labels in a different location so I can see what works best.