My First USPSA Match in 2020

I shot my first match since Desert Brutality 2019 this month, 11 months to the day since I last engaged in firearms competition. In my post about that match, I said “I’m done with competing for a little bit”, and I was true to my word. I turned down quite a few invitations to compete in local matches in the past year, some more reluctantly than others.

But now I’m getting back into it! [“The Boys Are Back In Town” starts playing softly in the distance] The first match post-DB19 was a club-level USPSA match in my home town. There is a lot here I’d like to go over, so let’s get into it. Starting with what I shot it with.

Equipment

This is the second time shooting the red-dot-equipped M&P, the first time since zeroing, and the first time on the clock. She performed flawlessly, expending near 300 rounds without issue. The gun has seen over 3,000 rounds pre-dot with no issues, and it seems the milling and optic addition haven’t affected that aspect of it. The dot itself was more than bright enough to be seen clearly in broad daylight. I’ll write a true review after I’ve spent more time shooting & carrying it.

I shot the match as I carry, drawing from concealment. It really didn’t slow me down any, as any small fractions of a second I could have gained from a traditional holster setup have been made up for in the thousands of dry-fire draws from concealment.

About halfway through the match one of my squad mates mentioned that I should be in Open division. Not because of the gun itself, funnily enough, but because of the holster’s appendix position! I did bring this up to the Match Director before we started, but he either didn’t mind or wasn’t aware of the nuance of the holster portion of the CO division’s holster requirements. If I want to compete in CO from now on I need to get a strong-side holster. I’m pretty sure the light will bump me out of CO as well, but I’ll burn that bridge when I get there.

I don’t bring this up to brag or anything, but to make my readers aware that if they want to run a modern carry gun in a modern holster, you will be competing in Open division. Take that as a good thing. Do you really want to be trusting your life to a gun that is so objectively incapable that you get special treatment when compared to normal guns? I know that I don’t.

Stages

This match had 8 stages. Our squad started on Stage 3 and finished on Stage 2, though I will present them in the correct order. Speaking of our squad, we didn’t have but one or two brand new (to competition) shooters, and that experience showed where it really mattered: Scoring and taping! The feeling of having the squad after you waiting for you to finish your last few shooters must be nerve wracking. You’ll have to ask Squad 4, because we always finished up and moved to the next stage before they had all their guys run through. Pro tip: Use this time to see how that squad is shooting the stage. If they’re going to slow you down, you might as well watch their stage plans.

Speaking of watching people shooting stages…

Stage 1

Pretty straightforward stage, though not simplistic in it’s challenge. Shots requiring almost 180 degree transitions right off the bat, fast up-close shots immediately followed by distance shooting. This was a good stage. At 0:34 you can see my embarrassingly slow movement out of and into position, followed by some unnecessary dot hunting at 0:39. I should have had the dot in the window when I presented the pistol. I’m getting better at it, but this is evidence that I’m not where I want to be. Other than the dot hunting and poor acceleration, I’m satisfied with my performance.

Oh, and my reload could have been a little smoother too.

12/18 in Carry Optics (53/81 overall)

Stage 2

This one’s fun because the activated target at the beginning didn’t get reset correctly. I got a re-shoot. I don’t think it really helped or hurt me just an interesting footnote. My recoil control looked good (to me, anyway) and my body positioning through the port doesn’t look too bad. Reload was good enough, as I had plenty of time while changing positions.

I got good hits on the distant targets at the end, thanks to the dot. It may slow me down a little (lack of practice, honestly) but it makes up for it at distance.

11/18 in Carry Optics (35/81 overall)

Stage 3

This one was a major dumpsterfire. It was also my first stage since last February, so that’s to be expected. Still rough to watch, as I was knocking off lots of rust!

In the beginning you can see how unfamiliar I am, as I’m kind of all over the place with starting position. At 0:38 I moved forward and completely skipped two targets entirely! My leg position at the following port was not very stable, and my missing the steel proves it. My reload was solid, though.

18/18 in Carry Optics (79/81 overall)

Stage 4

That terminator look at the beginning, though…

You can tell immediately that I’m getting back in the groove from the very beginning of this stage. In the walk through I memorized the number of targets at each position and repeated that number sequence so that I wouldn’t forget any this time! It wasn’t complicated, something like “two – two – six – three – star”. It was simple and it worked. The reload in the middle of the third string of targets could have been a little smoother. You shouldn’t reload mid-string if you can avoid it, but there wasn’t a good place to put it between strings, unless I was just going to go through like 3 or 4 mags, which I hadn’t considered.

When I approached the star, I had forgotten which side of the star you should start on! After a little quick thinking I decided that I should start at the top. My following shots were nice and accurate, if a little slow. That was kind of the story of the whole match.

11/18 in Carry Optics (47/81 overall)

Stage 5

I really need to work on my acceleration and speed between positions. That first transition could have been a little faster, too.

I didn’t forget about that moving target, I got back to it at 0:26. I was right up to that 180 line, but I wasn’t the first person to make that shot from that position, so I wasn’t going to get called on it. Once again, a poorly timed reload executed acceptably well. A little bit of skipping around to finish off the stage. I don’t like having to scan to see if there are any unengaged targets, but sometimes skipping around like that is worth it.

11/18 in Carry Optics (56/81 overall)

Stage 6

Not too bad. Not a perfect run in my eyes, but only minor tweaks and nitpicks.

14/18 in Carry Optics (55/81 overall)

Stage 7

According to the score keeper, my left foot touched the ground over the fault line at 0:12. He determined that it was a significant enough advantage, since I was shooting at the farthest target, that it deserved 4 procedural penalties. Considering the very short time and round count of the stage, that penalty was harsh. I’m not entirely sure I agree with the judgement call there, but who ever does agree with a penalty against them? Other than that, and a much too slowly executed reload, I didn’t too bad.

15/18 in Carry Optics (76/81 overall)

Stage 8

Qualifier time! I did decent on the first string, besides my dot-hunting after transitioning to strong hand only. I kinda lost it a little between targets 4 and 5, but not too bad.

I should have just let that mag lay on the ground between the two strings of fire. Nerves make y do small, stupid things that you otherwise wouldn’t. Just my own lack of experience showing through.

The adventures in dot hunting continue! At this rate I can quit my day job and guide dot hunts professionally :(.

9/18 in Carry Optics (44/81 overall)

Final Standing

14/18 in Carry Optics (46.91%), 62/81 Overall (40.02%).

I had 180 A-zone hits, the highest in CO division. I had a single B-zone, 7 C-zones, another single D-zone, and 7 misses. Penalties and missed targets will absolutely destroy you.

Conclusion

Thanks to Ozone for filming this for me.

The thing I learned here is to not let your nerves ruin your performance. If I take out my first stage in almost a year (stage 3), add the stage points, extrapolate the missing stage as being an average of the remaining seven, then I finished as follows:

Carry Optics: 13/18 (52.34%) – Overall: 57/81 (44.58%)

Okay, not a whole lot of progress. I could re-do the calculations and throw out the stage with the procedurals, but at what point does “I’m removing an uncharacteristic mistake” become “I’m removing all my mistakes”? What’s funny is that my adjusted standing places me just slightly behind Ozone, who finished 12/18 and 56/81. There’s a reason that I have formal firearms training listed as a goal for 2020.

Anyway, I had a fun time getting back into competition. I’m very glad that this match is both heavily contested and very local. I’ll make it back as soon as I can, though I’m not sure how soon that’ll be.

Stay sharp, and I’ll see you next Friday. -S_S

5 thoughts on “My First USPSA Match in 2020

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