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Alaskan454

Alaskan454's Range Diary

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After reading some of the other range diaries here I decided to start writing down some goals and update my progress as I work towards them. As a little background I have been shooting my whole life, but spent most of my youth banging clay pigeons in trap, skeet, and sporting clays. I'm actually pretty good at shooting clays but for some reason handguns are my biggest hobby at the moment and have been since I bought my first one at 21. I've always been a revolver guy but didn't realize how much fun they were to shoot in competition until recently. I thought I needed a fancy bottom fed auto loader to be competitive so that's where my competitive shooting journey began.

The first one I bought was a CZ P01 with some custom shop upgrades in January of 2012. I started shooting the occasional IDPA match with it that year and like many new guys I showed up with a deep concealment holster and no vest. I shot about two matches before I realized a compact alloy pistol was not a competitive choice. I promptly ordered a full size SAO CZ Shadow T and ended up shooting that in the later half of 2012. Having no real mentor at the time I was eager to read and watch as much as I could to improve my shooting skills. I was a member at an indoor range and spent most of that first year working on slow fire groups from 7 to 15 yards. Once I felt I was doing pretty well I started pushing targets out to the 25 yard line. After I had 4-5k rounds through the P01 and Shadow T I started getting pretty decent, but only during slow fire shooting from a stationary position. I was able to dump full mags into one ragged hole at the 7 yard line, but when I shot in matches everything went south. I tried too hard to speed up and learned quickly that you can't outshoot a miss.

Having no place to practice shooting on the move or with reactive targets I focused on what I could at the indoor range. At that time I was shooting more big bore revolvers than anything else but still worked on my skills with the 9mm and 38/357s I had. I finally started getting as comfortable at the 25 yard line as I was the year before at 7-10. There was a lot of other stuff going on that year so I only made it to 2 or 3 IDPA matches in 13'. I was doing okay with the CZ Shadow but the basic skills still weren't coming together as a package when the timer went off.

I knew I wanted to get more serious about competitive shooting but decided 2014 would be the year of cowboy action. I went in head first and got myself a proper lever gun, hammered shotgun, and some leather goods. I already had two single actions that fit the bill so I was ready to roll. I think I made it to all but one cowboy shoot at our local club that year and had a really good time in the process. I got three 5th place finishes which was a big deal for me, I also had a few bad days in the process but I learned a lot, had fun, and met some great people. I honestly don't think I shot anything but cowboy in 14'. I had fun that year but figured in 15' I would try to shoot more IDPA and give all the other disciplines a try. However, I wanted to use a revolver and decided to pick up a 625 to get things going.

In January of 15' I finally became a member of the outdoor range that hosts all of our local IDPA, USPSA, SASS, Steel, ICORE, and Silhouette matches. I was able to practice with falling steel and shoot on the move. I shot four IDPA, two ICORE, two USPSA, two SASS, and one dueling tree match in 15'. All but the dueling tree were with my 625. I finally started to put individual skills together and shoot at a higher level. With the 6 shot revolver I managed the fastest overall time on two 12 shot IDPA stages and one 8 shot USPSA stage that year. One match I was also faster than the CDP division as well, I was on point that day. Late in 15' I decided to take over as match director for our ICORE program and get more serious about my shooting goals.

Welcome to 2016! I've shot four IDPA, two Steel, two ICORE, one USPSA, and a Texas star match as of this month. I also completed RO Level I training in February. My 625 now has an optic on it so it only gets used in ICORE and Steel. IDPA was shot with my CZ Shadow, a 3" GP100, and for two matches a Ruger Alaskan with 400PF loads. I did extremely well with the CZ, finished in the middle of the pack with the Alaskan (not exactly a competitive combo, but very fun!), and did poorly with my GP100 due to ammo problems (my fault entirely). I signed up for the IRC this Fall and that is essentially what I'm working towards at the moment. My 625 isn't legal for IDPA so I plan to shoot my 3" Ruger in BUG division there and shoot the 625 in ICORE, Steel, and possibly USPSA. I know it isn't competitive in USPSA but I don't plan on shooting Open at any major matches and my pride won't be affected by low classifier scores. Otherwise that's where I will shoot my CZ Shadow.

My biggest issue at the moment is lack of a cohesive plan. Last year I feel like I was shooting to my full potential using the same gun for every match. This year I've used five different guns between ten matches and my performance shows it. I've done well but could be doing better. For example I shot both Open and Limited 6 at our last ICORE match and it was too much stress. I would have shot either gun better if I stuck to only one division. Moving forward with revolvers I decided to focus on my 625 with the red dot sight and my 3" Ruger with irons. The 3" gun is significantly harder to shoot with its short sight radius and compact grip, so I feel like it has made the 625 seem a lot easier. For semi autos the CZ is my favorite and I will shoot that exclusively.

In May I started using my 10 yard plate rack time as a benchmark. After practicing the same drills every week I'm now getting consistent times of 3.6 with the BUG gun, my fastest was 3.3 but I can't do that consistently. I've tried really hard to get into the 2.9 range but I usually miss the first plate and only hit 5/6. I've also been shooting a lot more mixed paper and steel to simulate what we do in matches. This appears to help isolate skills that need improvement. I should be shooting my 625 more often but I'm fresh out of ammo and my bullet order should arrive soon.

My ultimate goal is to make M in any ICORE division or USPSA Revolver. I have no classifiers on record with USPSA so that's a fresh slate, but my 6 shooter has a dot and isn't going to keep up with an 8 shot using irons. At the moment my ICORE classifiers are between 82.56% and 43.65% across three divisions and should converge into B/C territory when I get enough on file for each. The classifiers are 6 shot neutral so my 625 can theoretically keep up in Open if I don't miss. For this year I'd like to shoot a few classifiers in the 80% range as a goal. I want to improve and felt this would be a great outlet to track my progress.

Edited by Alaskan454

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First update, I shot a Steel Challenge match last weekend with my OSR. To burn up some old ammo I shot CCI primed 45s loaded to major, requiring an 8lb DA pull instead of the usual 6lb. I had fun and feel like I did pretty well. My first steel match was earlier this year with the same gun and ammo, average score was 51.1% of the peak times ranging from 44.3% to 61.0%. This time around the average was 64.7% of peak ranging from 55.1% to 76.0%. I think I can probably bump into the 70% range next match with steel loads and a lighter trigger. I found myself wasting time between plates on the first stage, I'll have to work on transitions next time I get to the range.

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It's been a month since my last entry, I didn't get a chance to shoot any matches for the last three weeks so I spent a lot of time working on my dry fire skills with the 625 and Shadow.  I finally bought a chronograph and realized my 9mm loads were about 138 PF...so I dialed the powder charge back and will be testing those tomorrow morning.  Conversely my 45 revolver loads were barely over PF so I had to bump those up a bit.  My last live fire drill went pretty well,  I used two plate racks, some static steel, and a paper target to work on first shot accuracy, transitions, reloads, and shooting on the move.   My reloads and transitions seem to be getting consistently better on both platforms with more frequent practice (no surprise there).  My favorite par time drill is still the 10 yd 8" plate rack, times are improving but ironically I seem to be hitting a plateau around 3.3 seconds with both semi autos and revolvers.  I used to feel stressed doing a 3.6 second run with any gun and now that feels very comfortable.  I'm hoping to hit a couple under 3 seconds by the end of this year.

In the past I've had a bad habit of focusing only on one skill and getting lazy with the rest.  These last few weeks I've tried to work a little bit on everything I can in isolated sessions.  I'm starting to get to a point where certain things that felt rushed are now more fluid.  I'm shooting the 625 at ICORE this weekend and will be interested to see how much better I can do than last month.  My goal is to shoot around 75% on the classifier and since it's much more accuracy driven than USPSA/IDPA I want to shoot as clean as possible throughout the match.

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16 hours ago, Alaskan454 said:

  I finally bought a chronograph and realized my 9mm loads were about 138 PF...so I dialed the powder charge back

+1.  If you are reading this, and do NOT have a CHRONO, pls read this again.

If you don't have a chrono, you don't know what your reloads are doing - not a good thing.   :)

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My purchase records indicate I've loaded about 31K rounds since I got my press in October of 13', after testing some of these loads that I have been using for a while I would recommend anyone who gets into reloading purchase a chronograph BEFORE you even look at components.  Cheap insurance to protect your gun and yourself!  

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ICORE classifier came back at 74.14%, since I was aiming for around 75% I will call that a good result.  I shot a USPSA match last weekend as well and it seems the #1 area I need to work on is movement.  At ICORE I found myself standing still a few times when I should have been moving, in particular reloading inside a shooting box while I was supposed to be running to the next one.  At USPSA I had some minor similarities but did well overall, only real errors were one kind of sloppy reload and sight misalignment that caused me to miss two plates and force a standing reload to finish a stage.  The biggest thing for USPSA is the 6 shots between reloads with my 625.  After doing at least one standing reload on 5 of 6 stages I decided to suck it up and buy an 8 shooter, there is now a 929 headed my way.  I'm going to run that at our next USPSA match and see how it goes.

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For one reason or another I just got my very first USPSA classifier results back and was pleasantly surprised with the outcome.  09-04 is an 8 round stage and I posted 76.4% with a 6 shot gun.  My stage time was 8.0 seconds so I think I could have put up a really good score without needing to perform a standing reload.  I can assure you my reloads are not faster than 2 seconds on average.  03-03 was the same story at 11 rounds, I got a 73.39% with another unnecessary standing reload in the barricade box.

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A brief update, my first classifier with the 8 shooter came back at 92.37% and I was very happy about that!  Overall I was shooting a bit slow at the last match and I think it's still due to my inefficient use of movement.  I was lucky enough to squad with another wheelgunner and he moves a lot faster than I do but shot almost the same number of points, I noticed a few things I can do to keep improving and tried to incorporate those in my last practice session.

I shot IDPA the following weekend and tried to work on moving faster when I wasn't shooting, I had a very fast raw time and shot 2nd fastest overall on one stage, not too shabby with a revolver.  However, I did learn another lesson by eating 26 seconds in penalties on three targets, that's pretty bad when the raw time was 107.97.  20 seconds were from not putting any holes in the scoring zone, I had one pretty tight group in hardcover on one and hit the target stick on another that was angled.  One of those involved a procedural for shooting out of order and the other was a rule I previously did not know that resulted in a second procedural.  After you've shot an exposed target they are still considered a threat while moving even if behind cover with respect to a remaining target array.  I got dinged for reloading on the move in that case, I'm willing to bet I've done it a few times before but the SO didn't notice. 

Fast forward another week and we have ICORE this Saturday.  I put the CMore on the 929 and got it sighted in to shoot Open.  The gun is dialed in and seems to be 100% for the first 750 or so rounds.  I have about 2,200 rounds left to practice before the IRC in 2.5 weeks, I don't even think I'll have time to shoot all of it but I'll still try.  I was reliably hitting pig silhouettes at 50 yards with the optic and occasionally hitting the turkeys at 75, I need a little extra practice and I should be in good shape for the IRC.

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I finally met my goal of shooting a clean plate rack under 3 seconds.  Fastest today was 2.78, average clean runs are around 3.1 now.  I also found out the plates I've been shooting are 7".

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I did some accuracy intensive practice this morning before work, 6" resetting poppers at 10 and 20 yards, D-1's at 27, and two 10" plates at around 30.  I was reasonably solid on the 30 yard steel right from the start but I kept throwing shots into the A zone when I was trying to hit the X ring.  There will be an X-ring bonus stage at the IRC so I need to figure out how fast I can actually shoot them and the best strategy for approaching a stage like that.  I'd like to be somewhat confident in calling x-ring hits out to 20 yards if possible but I'll be lucky to shoot 500 additional live rounds before the IRC.  I will need to rely on my dry fire scaled targets at home for the finer control and follow through.1028160807_zps9bajrzka.jpg

Transitioning between the 10" steel at 10 yards and paper targets at 7 yards my speed limit was about .4 second splits for clean x-ring shots.  I still need to work on 15-30 yard distances since I couldn't seem to get them clean at any consistent pace.  Even as slow as possible I was tossing A's and occasional B's at longer distances.  I also found out my mixed brass isn't helping, some brands drag on the recoil shield making the trigger pull a bit inconsistent and every now and then one practically locks up the action.  I need to re-sort and stick with Federal for my match brass, it seems to be running the best.

1028160829_zps4xxqmzu7.jpg

 

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Some additional effort at 20 yard x-ring shooting resulted in an "accurate match pace" of 0.6-0.8 splits with 9 of 16 in the x-ring.  Letting the dot fully settle worked out to 36 of 40 in the x-ring with splits in the 1.1-1.5 second range.  I think for an x-ring bonus stage I'm going to wait until the dot is almost completely settled then break the shot, if I don't screw up I should be able to get most of my on target time back in bonuses.  I have one more live fire practice before heading to Florida and there's an order of Lapua brass showing up today as well.  I have enough Federal brass to make it through the match but It would be nice to have an ample supply of matching fresh brass.

 

 

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The IRC was a lot of fun and I learned plenty about how to improve my shooting skills over the Winter.  I'm planning to go again next year if I can afford it and get the time off.  I was fortunate enough to have my Dad shoot some third person video for me on Day 1 and it revealed quite a few things I need to work on.  I really need to buy a hat cam before next year. 

Movement - On some stages I was actually moving at the appropriate pace, but about half the time I was moving too slow or standing still when I could have taken a few strides.  I've got some drills in mind, I knew it was something that needed attention.

Calling Shots - I made several make up shots that I didn't remember doing at the time, I get the feeling that many of them were unnecessary and I just need to build up confidence in calling A zone hits at 20 yards or greater.  On the x-ring bonus stage I did as well as I could have hoped for and only did make ups when I knew it was outside of the center ring, I got 21 out of 24 x's which was very good for my skill level.  I'm guessing the extra time on target for most make-ups would be a wash if they're only a B zone hit.  I'm going to do some 35, 50, and 100 yard work over the Winter to build up my accuracy game.  I'm also going to set a goal for 8/8 hits on a 12" plate at 100 yards in slow fire.  That might take some intensive practice but I'm willing to work at it, it would also help if they bring back Far and Near Standards for next year's IRC.  Shooting clean stages is my ultimate goal and I believe that will help get me there. 

Speed - I did pretty well on the steel challenge style stages but noticed myself going way too slow with up close paper targets on one stage, maybe I was tired or still in x ring mode but it surprised me.

WHO - I knew it would be there but I just forgot to practice this skill in the weeks beforehand.  I fumbled my transition to the WH and didn't have a good grip on the gun afterward, I dropped a Bravo and Charlie in only four shots on that string.  I'm going to set a goal of 6/6 on 8" plates at 10 yards in slow fire for WHO.  That will take some serious work, but again will help if they bring back F&N or another accuracy intensive WHO stage.

Moving Targets - I dropped more points on these than anything else, I will make sure to dedicate a few practice sessions over the winter with some moving paper arrays.

I'm planning to keep the red dot on my gun for a month or two and work on these goals, the dot has greatly improved my trigger control with instant feedback on the movement during the trigger pull.  If I go to a USPSA match I'll just shoot Open for now.

Gun Problems - I finished dead last on one stage due to a preventable part failure.  The yoke screw plunger and spring came out and got jammed inside my gun while the cylinder and crane came clean out on the clock.  I tried a few times to fix it with no luck so it was scored with only a few rounds on paper.  I ate a LOT of penalty time on that one but I did shoot the fastest raw time :D.  Afterwards it seems like everyone who ever had a S&W break during a match shared their wisdom and I learned a lot of things I didn't know beforehand.  After installing a spare yoke screw I realized the original one wasn't fit very well so now I know to keep an eye on it. 

Here's some video of the stages my Dad filmed:

 

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I've been thinking up some drills for this winter that will help me improve in a more rounded sense, I'm not even classified in USPSA right now but I'm going to try as hard as possible to move up.  I've decided my ultimate goal is to make GM and I hope I can eventually get there.  Since I might be shooting with a good bit of snow in the bays I simplified some of them to run everything on one bay with minimal set-up.  I'll need one extra piece of steel and three paper targets for everything but the movement drill, which I won't run if there's snow or ice.  Also, the plate racks are actually 8", I finally measured them.  For most of these drills I haven't recorded an official time so I'll assign the goals after shooting them for the first time. 

1. Six 8" plates at 10 yards from the holster - Goal is 2.5 sec, current best is 2.73 sec

2. Six 8" plates at 20 yards from the holster - No current time

3. Six 8" plates at 35 yards from the holster - No current time

4. El Prez (CM 99-11) with a HF of 9.8, a 100%+ run - No current attempt

5. Table start to 8" plate at 10 yards - No current attempt

6. Six 8" plates at 10 yards WHO - No current attempt

7. 6" Auto Popper at 35 yards 8/8 clean hits - No current time

8. 6" Auto Popper at 50 yards 8/8 clean hits - No current time

9. 10 Yard Movement Drill - Clearing two plates rack with only one shot per location using a port wall, locations are defined as the port hole and each side of the wall. I'll start in the middle and go side to side until it's cleared, should be good practice for movement, reloads, and entry/exit to obscured targets. 

 

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I usually load 240 rounds in 30 moonclips for each range session so this will be my drill schedule for at least the next few trips:

# Drill Best Time Goal Today's Attempts Runs Rounds
1 Table start to 8" plate, 10 yards - -   15 15
2 Draw to 8" plate, 10 yards - -   5 5
3 Draw to six 8" plates, 10 yards  2.73 2.50   5 30
4 Draw to 8" plate, 20 yards - -   5 5
5 Draw to six 8" plates, 20 yards - -   5 30
6 Draw to 8" plate, 35 yards - -   5 5
7 Draw to six 8" plates, 35 yards - -   5 30
8 6" Auto Popper at 35 yards, 8 for 8 - -   5 40
9 El Prez CM 99-11  - 9.8 HF   5 60
10 WHO six 8" plates at 10 yards - -   3 18

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Shot about 350 rounds today through my 929, I tried really hard to practice the skills before using live ammo and I think it helped.  Current progress is:

# Drill Best Time Goal
1 Table start to 8" plate, 10 yards 2.13 sec 1.90 sec
2 Draw to 8" plate, 10 yards 1.29 sec 1.15 sec
3 Draw to six 8" plates, 10 yards  2.70 sec 2.50 sec
4 Draw to 8" plate, 20 yards 1.54 sec 1.40 sec
5 Draw to six 8" plates, 20 yards 3.90 sec 3.60 sec
6 Draw to 8" plate, 35 yards 1.81 sec 1.65 sec
7 Draw to six 8" plates, 35 yards 8.08 sec 7.30 sec
8 6" Auto Popper at 35 yards, 8 for 8 - -
9 El Prez CM 99-11  83% 100%
10 WHO six 8" plates at 10 yards 6.83 sec 6.00 sec

After reviewing my times on a range of skills it became very apparent that I need to practice my draw, reloads, and double taps on paper for USPSA style shooting.  I am really confident moving from plate to plate or target to target but my splits are only in the high 20s on 10 yard paper and reloads were around 2.5 seconds.  A clean El Prez needs to be around 6.2 seconds to hit the 100% mark.  I can get there by shaving .5 seconds from my reload and a few thousandths from each split.  The turn to draw was actually about the same speed as my stationary draw from the 10 yard plate drill.  So I guess that won't save me much time.  

I learned a lot today and set some new personal bests, I'm going to take a week or two off before trying these again and focus on my 50 and 100 yard shooting with the 45 and 475 magnums.  I gained a lot of confidence in my accuracy game after spending some time on the 100 yard range last winter.  Also, for anyone who hasn't done 35 yard plate drills - Go do that right now.  It helped to point out some weaknesses that weren't readily observable in a 3 second run at 10 yards.   I will probably take a hiatus with plate drills closer than 20 yards for a month or so.  Even the WHO was easier than I expected at 10 yards.  

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We had an indoor match this week and the classifier just happened to be El Prez, I managed a 7.932 HF which is just shy of my personal best in practice.  I can probably shave a another half second if I work on my reloads and split times.  I only dropped two Charlies so I was happy about the accuracy portion.  I was also pleasantly surprised to clear a Texas star in 4.00 seconds, I don't know if I can do that much faster.

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We had another indoor USPSA match and I learned/reestablished a few things.  It was my first match with a hat camera and that helped to point out where I can pick up some time and points.  I definitely need to work on my WHO, reloads, and double taps in the near future.  My best stage was the very first one where I didn't feel rushed and went for clean shooting in a hurry.  This is my fourth classifier with the iron sight revolver and I think I should make A class when it's uploaded.  As much as I liked shooting the C-More in Open I've decided to shoot iron sights on the 929 until I make Master, who knows how long that might be!  After that I'll switch back and see how far I can get in Open with a 929.

 

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WOW !!!

I can't believe how quickly, and well, you shot those 10" plates at 35 yards

with iron sights, and a revolver on top of it.

EXCELLENT shooting ...    :bow:

Suggestions:   Come down to Florida and show me how you did that ....   :P

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12 hours ago, Alaskan454 said:

Had a chance to hit the range yesterday, feeling a lot more confident with iron sights than last week.

 

You, sir, are a BADASS! 

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Thanks guys!  I had plenty of not so stellar runs but I figure nobody wants to see those.  If you like the videos I'll post more, I plan to use the hat camera every time I hit the range from now on.  It should help to track my skills over time with different guns and drills.

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I set up a Smoke and Hope style array over the weekend at 50 yards to work on transitions, movement, and sight picture.   I think it helped quite a bit and definitely pushed me out of the comfort zone.  That 12" plate is no joke at 50 yards and the large plates give you a false sense of confidence at 20 and 40 yards.

 

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I shot a special classifier match yesterday and it did not go as well as I hoped.  Although I'm less rusty than last February I was shooting too fast and making more mistakes than I felt comfortable with.  Either way it was a good learning experience and showed me what I need to work on before the outdoor matches start up again.  I see a lot of dry fire practice in my near future. 

 

 

Edited by Alaskan454

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Shot another indoor match last night.  I did a little experiment and went full throttle with my CZ in the first flight and shot only as fast as I felt good about A zone hits with my revolver in the second flight.  The slower yet more accurate revolver prevailed even with a bunch of extra reloads in the mix, I think there's a lesson there.  My goal with the 929 was to hit 90% of the possible points and I ended up with 89.3%, I'll call that a good result.  I'm going to try for 95% next time.

 

 

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