Milestones & Match prep


  • I took my NRA First steps Pistol just over a year ago: 2/12/12.
  • I shot my 6th IDPA match 2/24/13 at my 3rd IDPA venue: Caswell Ranch in Prospect Hill, NC.

Match Prep

Match bag – just the essentials.

The first 3 matches I shot were indoor matches. You bring your range bag, park it in a staging room, and leave it there. Weight really isn’t an issue. The last 3 matches I shot at outdoor ranges. You haul your bag with you from stage to stage and weight can become an issue. After my first outdoor match. I decided my shoulder needed a break and I wasn’t really using most of the items in my range bag. I decided to take a smaller bag, and haul only what I needed to the outdoor stages. I’m still fine tuning that, so here’s what I started with:

  • $3 Red & Black Flannel bag from Goodwill (because no one will mistake this for their bag and I liked the pockets),
  • 200 rounds ammo (the match states 100 rounds, but I like to bring extra),
  • plastic container to dump ammo into (easier to load from),
  • 5 magazines & the UpLULA,
  • water, reading glasses, notebook for note/reminders,
  • I added beef jerky before leaving the house.
  • I added eye/ear protection when I got to the range.

I still brought my regular range bag in the car as a back up, but this worked nicely getting from stage to stage. After shooting on Feb 24th I think I should add a small first aid kit. I like this approach and I’m going to stick to this plan for now.

Load ’em up!

I realized I should load the magazines before I left my house. That would be one less thing to do when I arrived at the range. I loaded 4 magazines to 10 round capacity and the 5th magazine (#1) with a single round. That magazine seems to have lower tolerances so I’ve opted to always use it as a the barney mag.

Since this would be my first trip up, I printed directions to the range. I checked the weather the day before and it looked like it would actually be warm: close to 60 degrees and sunny. The previous week had been cold, overcast, rainy and had snowed. I was trying to get over the flu and wasn’t up for a wet, cold day. I was nervous about going. Once again: a new place and I didn’t really know anyone. But I’d picked this weekend to go, the weather wasn’t going to give me an excuse to bail, so the next thing to decide was what to wear.

I got cold at the last outdoor match. One of the guys in my squad reminded me of wisdom I’d ignored: bring one more layer than you think you will need. I started with a t-shirt, added a long sleeved thermal shirt, a fleece jacket (a concealment garment & warmth), and I tossed in a Gortex jacket. I was determined I would not be cold at this match. I selected hiking boots and wool socks. I keep a hat, gloves and a scarf in the car. It was so warm I actually wore just the t-shirt and the Woolrich concealment vest I keep in my regular range bag. But I was prepared!

Securing the grip screws

Next, I needed to spend some time with my gun. I’d lost a grip screw at a previous outdoor match. I’d had that replaced and ordered the correct strength Loctite from Amazon, so it was time to secure the screws. I really didn’t think my gun smith was going to give me yet another screw after telling me how to deal with this problem. I punched the end of the thread locker with a “T” pin, grabbed the hex wrench and secured all 4 screws.

Google maps said it would take an hour to drive to the range but I wanted to give myself extra time to grab lunch and get lost, so I started out at 11am for a 1pm match. For future reference, 90 minutes would have been plenty of time. Also the last place to really grab fast food on the way to Caswell Ranch is on the far side of downtown Hillsborough.

Next post: the Match!

Packed and ready to go!




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.