Practical Rifle Competition

There is a defensive rifle competition each month only a few hours’ drive from me, at Oil Capital Rod & Gun Club.  This make the second time I’ve attended, the previous time being June 2017.  It’s not a complicated affair, and I’d actually say it’s a good candidate for a person’s first match.  The stages aren’t very complicated, the instructions are very straight-forward, and the challenge comes from fundamentals and the other shooter’s skill, not from high round counts, hidden “gotcha” targets, and complicated stage designs.

The guy who runs the match each month also runs an IDPA match each month at the same range, so just imagine a club-level IDPA match, but using rifles.  He’s an older gentleman with the knees to match, so there isn’t a whole lot of physicality involved.  At first glance that looks like a bad thing, but I’m starting to see the benefit of it.  The stages are designed so that a shooter needs to think a little bit before their run.  Not that a person has to plan out their entire run step-by-step, but a little forethought about target presentations and positioning definitely helps.

I didn’t get any video, unfortunately.  On the first stage I completely forgot about filming until I was putting my rifle away.  I had someone film my second stage, but I didn’t show him how to run my camera and he took stills thinking he was hitting record.  I used one of those stills as the featured image, because it’s not too. bad.

The big takeaway from this is that I need to make sure my gear is squared away.  My safety selector lever came loose during stage 4.  It didn’t affect my run much (besides about a half second on the clock realizing what happened), but it did need to be fixed before the 5th and final stage of the day.  One of the competitors had some Allen wrenches in his truck, so he & I went to make the necessary repairs.  On the way to his truck, I noticed that half of my handguard screws were missing.  HALF!  6 screws hold the handguard on, which holds the barrel nut in place.  Three were missing (!) and the other three were loose (!!).  Frankly, I have no idea when they came loose.  The three missing screws may be laying in the gravel from the match yesterday, they may be scattered across the field where we ran the Twilight Run ‘N Gun.  I have no idea how long I’ve been running with a self-disassembling rifle, and that unnerves me.

I’m getting new screws ordered from the manufacturer.  I’m going to Lock-Tite and witness mark all of them when they come in, along with my selector lever screw.  I’m not taking any chances.

There were 6 other competitors there, 3 of which shot ARs.  One guy was running an AK in 7.62×39, one guy was running a Sig 550 SBR (it was loud), and the last non-AR was a CZ Scorpion rifle.  The other ARs were an LWRC, a generic 16″ M4gery from a company I’d never heard of, and an AR that shot 5.45×39.  The most common optic was a red dot of some sort, though there was an ACOG with an RMR on top (LWRC), and 2 guys running irons.  Given the short distances of each stage (25 yards and in) and the low round counts (I shot 69 rounds of .223 in total), your equipment choices were largely irrelevant.  If you have a semi-auto gun that holds a decent amount of ammo, you won’t face any equipment challenges.

The guy running the SBR was running a 2″ J-Frame S&W revolver as his side arm.  I have no idea why.

Here’s the results:

Aug '18 results

Two things to note:

#1: I was 2nd place by 0.24 seconds, just under a quarter of a second.  The guy who came in third by the slimmest of margins?  He was running an iron-sighted AK, has a serious limp, and had a raw time 8.26 seconds faster than me!  He actually had the fastest raw time of all the competitors, beating first pace by more than 5 seconds.

His downfall was penalties, of which he had the most.  I attribute this to his iron sights.  I mean, this guy is out there every weekend, every competition, always shooting.  Looking at his guns, you can tell that he gets out and shoots.  I have absolutely no qualms about saying that he is a better shooter than me, but I still beat him due to penalties.  The only guy who came close to getting as many penalties as the iron sighted AK was the iron sighted AR.  I know that red dots are much faster up close than irons can ever hope to be, but I’ve never seen it demonstrated this clearly before.  This isn’t a feeling, this is numerical, empirical data.  Running iron sights makes you shoot worse.  This is a cold, hard fact.

#2: The guy running the SBR & 5-shot .38 combo?  I’m pretty sure he got 1st place.

 

Conclusion:

I need to use more Lock-Tite, witness marks, and work on not over-confirming my dot placement before I pull the trigger.

That, and I’m considering running the .327 mag as my side arm on the next one.  If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

-S_S

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3 thoughts on “Practical Rifle Competition

  1. Nothing like putting your gear through the ringer to see what “shakes loose.”

    Lock Tite (blue) should be on everything bolted to the rifle. Rockset on the muzzle, and good staking on other parts.

    Sad to think how many people out there could be in the same situation as you, but have no idea because they don’t actually push their gear.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Good write-up. It’s been a few years since my last match. But you made mistakes and learned from them. It happens. 🙂

    Personally, I always tended to be faster than I was accurate. I’d place pretty well, but be covered in freaking penalties.

    Like

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