US Steel Nationals 2014 – A long overdue update

Probably thought I completely forgot about shooting since I haven’t posted anything shoot related since late last year. I haven’t stopped shooting, simply haven’t had time to get any new posts done.

US Steel Nationals 2014

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I spent a week and almost 5,000 rounds in Florida shooting. I first spent two days with Shannon Smith of Universal Shooting Academy, during this session we established realistic goal times for all the stages. I then spent the remainder of the week leading up to Saturday practicing. The match was fun I didn’t do as well as I was hoping, but I still walked away with 6th production which is 4 positions higher than last year. One bright spot, is though I was within a second of my time at the Texas State match, I only had 17 make up shots which is much much less than I did at Texas State.

Stage wise, I only set a personal best stage time during Smoke and Hope; and Roundabout both of the hoser stages. On the other hand even though my stage times were worse on other stages like Five to Go my times were more consistent. Since I know that I had shoot these stages faster, I just need to do it more consistently since my previous way of doing it often results in me crashing and burning. Now two things I noticed that I really need to work on is to reacting to the buzzer faster and prepping the trigger. I really need to get my hands moving at the first sound of the buzzer rather than waiting for the buzzer to complete. Also I noticed from watching the video (you didn’t think I did the video because it is cool?) that I was resetting the trigger after I got to the next target, I really need to do that between targets.


Smith and Wesson M&P 9 Pro 5″ – This was the first time that I’ve had a parts breakage at a major match. During practice on Thursday the left side slide lock lever broke off. It wasn’t a major issue since you are doing reloads in Steel Challenge, so I trucked on with my current gun rather than breaking out the back up. The only thing I had to do because of it, was use an empty magazine to lock the slide back. I called S&W and they said it was a factory only part so I would have to send the gun in to get a free replacement. I just bought a couple, and will be doing the replacement myself during the next spring replacement cycle.

Now I did have three stoppages, all three were with Freedom Munitions Remanufactured 9mm, and all three sounded like a squib with a stove pipe failure to eject. I had no issues with the Atlanta Arms and Ammo 9mm reloaded match ammo.

Safariland ELS Belt System – This was my first major match with the Safariland ELS belt. Overall I like the stiffness of the belt along with the convenience. Every time I put it on the mag pouches and holster are all in the same position. When I am eating lunch I can quickly slip off my QLS attached holster, and my ELS attached mag pouches. If I am going into town for lunch, I can simply take off the outer belt. And then there is the fact that even though the mounting platforms don’t change, I can easily change the exact attachments for the division that I am shooting. So for this match I had my Comp-tac International Holster for the M&P, and the Safariland 773 magnetic mag pouch. For Bianchi it will be the XDM version of the Comp-tac holster. For USPSA I will change the mag pouches. The list goes on.

Now I did have one issue with the belt system, somewhere during the week I lost one of the pegs that holds the belt together. I noticed it on Friday, and I didn’t have a back up belt so I had to keep on trucking (Safariland has said that a replacement peg is on the way). I also say people that didn’t secure their belt well lose the belt during stages like Outer Limits. I can see why Shannon Smith uses police style belt keepers with his competition belt system. If I have any issues I will likely be doing the same.


Bianchi Cup and Other Pistol Matches

I picked up my second XD(M) 9 5.25″ that I will be using as a back up gun for these season’s NRA Action Pistol matches and any in the future. It took a few hours but I got it configured the same way as my other XD(M), now I am just waiting on the backup holster from Comp-tac. Anyways I am signed up for the Crawfish Cup, World Action Pistol Championship, and the Bianchi Cup. I got my squading for Bianchi Cup, I request and got the same shooter number as my last two years, and I got all afternoon slots. I am definitely looking forward to shoot the new mover in Columbia, as they’ve upgraded it to an Action Target tracked mover. I am currently working on getting an extra day at the SWLA Rifle and Pistol Club range to practice the stages a little more.

Anyways on to the second half of my season, due to the World IPSC Championship being at USA this year, the Monster Match is cancelled. Since I enjoy shooting Shannon’s matches I’ve signed up for the US IPSC Nationals, which will be the same stages just a week or two after the world match. Should be a fun match, and since I am going to be shooting classic division this will be first time shooting a major match with a 1911. I need to get some stuff hammered out to get my STI Trojan ready for the match.

I was hoping that the USPSA would move the World Speed Shooting Championship to fall at USA, but that didn’t quite work out. The date for the Texas State Steel Challenge Championship hasn’t been announced yet, but I am hoping that it will work out so I can shoot it in addition to the US IPSC Nationals. Either way, I am seriously thinking about going to the Georgia State Steel Challenge Championship next year.

The Monster Match 2013

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The Monster Match is probably the match I enjoy the most every year. Every year Shannon has new tricks up his sleeve with the match, this year it was a treadmill. But beyond that he takes excellent stage design and ramps things up quite a bit, over half the stages were redresses from the US IPSC Nationals. So there were some very difficult props, and many of the stages were built with more than one way to shoot it. It is hard to single out a particular stage that I liked the most, but I found the challenge of the Ghost Ship enjoyable.

No real major issues, my S&W M&P 9 Pro ran fine, the only issue was the slide locking back prematurely stage 5 “Waking the dead.” Also I should mention stage 5, the popper that activated the mover didn’t want to go down so I called for a challenged the calibration of the popper and won that. Thus I got a reshoot, and I didn’t do badly on the reshoot. The calibration and reshoot gods were pleased with my sacrifice of a virgin (Do you know how hard it is to find a virgin anymore?).

Beyond that most of my issues were mental, like forgetting my stage plan, or in one case simply forgetting to shoot an array of targets. My overall performance was not bad, I shot 81% of the points available, and walked away with high ‘C’ class in the Production division.

Anyways it has been announced that The Monster Match will likely be cancelled in 2014, which is unfortunate. On the other hand there is a rumor that the World Speed Shooting Championships might move to that time of year. But if that doesn’t come to pass I am thinking about shooting the US IPSC Nationals in Classic division.

Texas State Steel Challenge Championship 2013

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I didn’t think I was going to be able to shoot this match, but with the Monster Match delayed to the weekend after Halloween I was able to swing it. Anyways the match is held at the Corpus Christi Pistol and Rifle club, and it is recognized as a level 2 match by the SCSA. Anyways unlike the Steel Nationals it isn’t open ahead of time for practice, so you have to approach it fairly cold with only a couple of practice sessions working on basic skills. And honestly I did quite well, with exception of Roundabout I set a string, or stage record.

I’m thinking about making some changes to my stage plans, and even tried a couple of them out at this match. Which prevented me from being as smooth as I have been in the past, and I even got a miss during Accelerator because of it. Also I really need to work on my misses they are once again killing me. Anyways score sheets below.

AAR: Training with Robert Vogel and 10/11/2013 Range Log

Just completed two days of training with Bob Vogel. It was a nice small class with only eight students with only Bob doing the training. It was hosted at the CCCS in Cresson, TX.

I honestly don’t remember the exact sequence of things. But he started in the class room going over the basics of his grip, gear setup, and grip strength. Moving on to basics like trigger control and sight alignment, then to draws, and reloads. Moving further on to more complex topics like swingers, multiple targets, and finally some basics of stage planning.

Equipment wise I used my typical USPSA production setup which consists of my S&W M&P 9 Pro, Comp-tac the International DOH Holster, and my Ghost 360 magazine pouches. No issues with anything but the gun, which had a number of light strikes, which I believe was caused by improperly loaded Freedom Munition remanufactured ammo.

It was nice to get some practice on the swinger, and I learned Bob’s methods for one handed shooting which I will be working on to improve my weak handed shooting at during the Practical event. Beyond that I think I was practicing most of his opinion on grip, I only had to make a minor change to replicate his grip.

10/11/2013 Range Log

Getting ready for the Texas State Steel Challenge Championships. I worked on getting my draws on 15 yard targets, and transitions using the smaller IPSC C/B steel targets. I also did some strings of fire at 25 yards just to verify that the Atlanta Arms 147gr ammo hit fine at 25 yards, and that I can also do it. This was my second practice session at my new range, I got to say that I am really liking it, the bays are much bigger than the previous two I was a number of. It was also my second range trip with a camcorder on a tripod, I got to say it does allow me to see my trigger to see if I am prepping between targets which is a huge improvement. Anyways some pictures below.

Mass update…

A post over a month in the making. Frankly I get burnt out after Bianchi, the seriousness of a major match combined with the heat of summer wears me out. But with the Texas State Steel Challenge Championships coming up it is time to get back in the game. Thus in this post I have updates for three matches that I’ve shot recently.

August 2013 Steel Challenge Match

It is amazing that I come back from Bianchi fastest than I’ve ever shot before. I set personal stage and string records for all but Roundabout.

  • Roundabout – 16.88 – Best String: 3.80
  • Speed Option – 18.82 – Best String: 4.37
  • Accelerator – 19.26 – Best String: 4.19
  • Five to Go – 21.38 – Best String: 4.91

September 2013 Steel Challenge Match

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Not as good as last month, but I got some descent times. Honestly the misses are plaguing me. Something I need to work on before Texas state.

September 2013 Real Steel Match

I shot this match since I will be missing Octobers Steel Challenge match due to attending a Bob Vogel class. This match is a local outlaw steel challenge type match. This one takes the rules even further, adding start plates, limited shot count stages, overlaying plates on top of one another, and even adding a Texas star.

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  • Stage 5 – Pretty straight forward stage, like steel challenge the red stems indicate the stop plate.
  • Stage 1 – Another straight forward stage
  • Stage 2 – The two outer square plates are start plates you have to hit them first, before moving on to the other plates.
  • Stage 3 – This looks like a straight forward stage, but the stop plate is layered over the other normal plate, which can cause you to hit it prematurely, like I did in string 2.
  • Stage 4 – Probably the most complex stage of the match, each popper is a start plate for each of your five strings. Also the stage was limited to 5 shot per each string, and that is on top of the 18x24s being layered on top of one another.
  • Stage 6 – Each of the knock down plates is a start plate, with the standard star. This was a single string stage

This was my first match out with my GoPro HD Hero 3 Black Edition. I need to work on the editing settings, but overall I like this camera.

Anyways as these were the last matches for me before Texas state, all I have left is practice sessions, and the usual prematch maintenance. Such as chamber checking all my match ammo, now all of the four hundred rounds that I will be taking to Corpus are checked. In the next couple of weeks I will clean my magazines, and clean my gun.

AAR: US Steel Nationals 2013

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This is my first sanctioned Steel Challenge match, and my first time shooting all eight of the Steel Challenge stages. I had a very good time, and achieved a personal best on either string time, and/or on the stage times. The best thing about going to a major match like this one is the practice time at most local clubs the steel is pulled out for the match and then put away, you don’t have time to test stage plans on the timer, nor setup stages that aren’t part of the match. While at the Steel Nationals I got to shoot all the stages for the better part of a week. You can also work with people better than you, who can spot issues in your technique.

Equipment wise I was using my S&W M&P 9 Pro Series 5″ which has Warren Tactical sights and Apex parts, in my Comp-tac The International DOH paddle holster. Ammo wise I used Federal Premium white box 115gr ammo, as I knew it was fairly accurate and reliable in my gun. I had no gun issues during the 249 rounds fired at the match. And I only had two failures to fire during the 2,500 rounds of mixed ammo shot during the practice session leading up to the match.

Anyways I came out 10th in Production and 94th overall. I got descent prize package off the prize table. It included a NRA Magnatip Screwdriver set, a Magnatip Glock set, a Brownells aluminum 1911 bushing wrench a Brownells pistol rug, a Benchmade Hk knife, and a Blackhawk water bottle. For those that haven’t owned a Magnatip screwdriver set, they are very well made, in particular their flat heads which are hallow ground so they fit well in the slot, they also make many gun specific bits like the Glock front sight bit included with the Glock set. Well that is about it, the video is above, and the and my stage times are below, no scores sheets as I seemed to have lost them.

Time to put my M&Ps away and get back to practicing for Bianchi, my next match is the Crawfish cup at the end of April. I want to get the practical pretty much down before I go there. Now if I only could get ammo…

  • Speed Option 22.92s stage time – 5.13s best string Personal best string time.
  • Roundabout 16.37s stage time – 3.54s best string Personal best string and stage time.
  • Pendulum 23.34s stage time – 4.79s best string Personal best string time.
  • Outer Limits 19.57s stage time – 5.09s best string First time shooting this stage. I chose to take the stage penalty rather than move from box to box. I am going to practice up to figure out a way that I can compete evenly on this event while moving box to box.
  • Showdown 16.44s stage time – 3.74s best string First time shooting this stage.
  • Smoke and Hope 14.24s stage time – 3.16s best string Personal best string and stage time.
  • Five to Go 21.49s stage time – 4.95s best string Personal best stage time.
  • Accelerator 19.26s stage time – 4.19s best string Personal best string and stage time.

Update after a bit time off…

Well a bit of an update, I had a bit of burn out combined with bad weather I haven’t made it to the range much. Also with the ammo crunch I am conserving my pistol ammo since I have just barely enough for all the matches I need to shoot for the next three months. So probably no local matches, and limited practice on the things that I really need help on.

Today I spent some time with my M&P 15-22 on the rimfire range. And then went to the pistol range to work on shooting from prone. During my last few matches I have been throwing too many shots from prone at 50 yards. The range doesn’t support 50 yards, so I did it from the maximum range of 35 yards. It went very well, nothing off the target, and a final score of (though not even remotely comparable to a stage score) of 472-14x out of a possible 500-50x.

Anyways I’ve been sitting on this, but here is the video from the December Steel Challenge Match at BAPS.

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IIRC I did some game stage times, but they weren’t the fastest single run times.

End of the Year Zombie Match @ PSC IDPA – Nov 2012

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Well one of the last matches of the year all there is left is a BAPS Steel Challenge match for me. I did descent, but dropped a ton of points. Stage 8 was where I probably made the most points up.

Being the end of the year, I will be revisiting my accomplishments for the year, and what worked or didn’t work. I will probably have a gear review post up later this year.

Two for one update this week: Steel Challenge and NRA Action Pistol

Yeah yeah, I was lazy and didn’t get around to publishing last weeks video, so here both videos in one post.

Steel Challenge at Bay Area Practical Shooters:
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I haven’t shot this in a while and it shows both in a good way and a bad way. It is good that I was more accurate, but it was bad that my movement from plate to plate was slow.

NRA Action Pistol at Southwest Lousiana Rifle and Pistol Club:
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A better score than I’ve gotten in a while, but still not that great. My barricade event pretty much carried me through the match.

Generation 300 2012

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Generation 300 is the end of the year match for Generation Practical Shooters, it is held as an USPSA style outlaw match with five 60 round stages. Because of the round count per a stage they allow any length magazines, among the magazines I used four magazines with Taylor Freelance 140mm extensions which allowed me to load 22 rounds in each magazine.

Anyways it was an interesting match, I found that my performance suffered as the stage went on, I probably need to work on building my stamina. Anyways though I flubbed a few times due to that, I still walked away with 2nd ‘C’ class in production division which gave me another plaque for my collection.