Saturday, July 26, 2014

3Gun Progress

The last time I wrote about 3Gun, it was Fall of 2013, so I thought it might be time for an update. 

At that time, I wrote about my first ever experience at a 3Gun match, which was the 2013 AR15/Rockcastle Pro-Am. I had the immense good fortune to have both Randi Rogers AND Lena Miculek as squad coaches during that match. It was a tremendous experience. I even met the only goals that I had for my first match, and those were: 1) Be safe, 2) Have Fun, and 3) Maybe it would be nice to not come in last. But I wasn't even counting on that last one.

Since then, I've made some progress. I've gotten some thumb-saving shotgun mods from Jeff Cockrum , got a new rifle scope to suit my older eyes, and I've gotten signed up for Brownell's Lady 3 Gun.  I also started searching for local matches to try out on my own, sans pro coaches. To my dismay, I've learned that "local" is a relative term. While I have a wealth of pistol matches to choose from within a 1.5 hour drive, 3Gun matches are much fewer and farther between in this part of the country. So far, I have found only two monthly 3Gun Nation club matches within a 3.5 hour radius. The rest are 5 plus hours one way. ARGH.

Nonetheless, I've managed to scrape together the motivation to attend two matches at the Beckley, WV club so far this summer.  It makes a really long day to have a 7 hour round trip in the car, with 6 hours of shooting sandwiched in the middle. Managing to get up for work the next morning is a definite challenge. (Ibuprofen is your friend - LOL). But it has been totally worth it.

So far, I have found nothing but encouragement and support at this club match. While there are women all over the place helping to run the show, I have been one of only two females actually shooting at the matches I have attended. That in and of itself is nothing new, but what is new is being the only "adult" female shooter. The other girl is literally a girl. (I confess that though I like to think of myself as still a girl, my joints the morning after a match tell me otherwise-LOL) This teenager is apparently quite a shot, and is hoping to become a sponsored shooter. I admire her drive, and I believe we will be seeing Brittany at the Brownell's Lady 3 Gun, so watch out for her!

So, as I mentioned, getting my second and now third match under my belt has been a great experience. I'm not "as" nervous anymore, and I'm getting more organized with my gear. (Though I miss having Randi Rogers there checking my belt to see that I have everything I need - LOL). Gear-wise, I'm adding new things all the time. I just got my Carbon Arms pinwheels   and am starting to get the hang of those.

                                     Does, my belt look okay, Randi?

I also just ordered a hard-sided 3Gun case from Patriot cases with my Lady3Gun discount. I feel better crossing state lines with a hard, lockable case that I can cable-lock to the inside of my car. It hasn't arrived yet, but when it does, I'll post pics either here or on the Boostershots Facebook page. (If you "like" me by the way, I do post random pics and such more often there.)

I've found that it has been a challenge to make sure I even HAVE all my gear loaded in the car at 4:30 in the morning. I'm a minimalist kinda gal, who doesn't even carry a purse much anymore, so this is a serious load of STUFF to get organized. At the last match, I had a harrowing 5 minutes of panic and swear words when I thought I had forgotten my pistol holster and mag pouches. I finally found them tucked into my soft rifle case, but wouldn't that have been a kicker - drive 7 hours round trip and pay a $25 match fee only to find out you can't actually shoot the match? Facepalm. I need to come up with a system.

Having to do this on my own now, means (obviously) that I've learned some things. One of the hardest first lessons was that one should tighten up one's magazine pouches fairly firmly, lest one have one's spare pistol magazine fall out on the run (okay, slow jog) to the plate rack from the shotgun bay. Otherwise, one might be left standing there pawing blindly at an empty mag pouch and be forced to leave plates standing. Did this happen to me? I'm not sayin',  but I'm just sayin'  - D'oh! :-)

Another lesson was that Texas stars are hateful instruments of torture no matter what I'm shooting at them. Pistol, shotgun, it doesn't matter. Apparently even a shotgun blast is not a sure bet, and one still must aim carefully. LOL!

Another thing I learned is that during a mandatory rifle mag change, if you struggle enough trying to get your "new" mag to stay seated, but it keeps falling out, that the RO may take pity on you and tell you to just put your first mag back in again. LOL!

I also learned that in addition to loving the sound of the "ting" as my pistol rounds hit steel, I really love the delayed "thwack" that means I hit a long-range rifle target. It is very personally satisfying. Too bad I can't stick around to savor it, and have to run off to the next target array. Maybe somebody should come up with a recording of Mood Music for Shooters. Instead of breathy pan flutes, it would be the sounds of steel and long distance target hits interspersed with RO's shouting "HIT!". That would give me the warm fuzzies :-)

Besides all that, I've also learned that seeing multiple law enforcement vehicles from multiple entities parked at a match, does not necessarily mean bad news. At this particular club, it just means that the deputies and troopers are there to play, too. There is even a West Virginia Troopers Association LE - Only match at this club in the Fall. 

It was actually strangely reassuring to see all those cruisers for the first time, at the end of that long, steep, windy, dirt road in the middle of nowhere. I felt like, even if I was in the wrong place, at least the cavalry was already there - LOL! Did I mention that the club sells a T-shirt that proclaims "I Survived the Road to Beckley, WV Gun Club" ?  You can bet I bought it!

Even though I'm getting more experience now, my goals haven't really changed. I still just wanna be safe and have fun. I've discovered that not making an idiot out of myself is a minor goal that often must be sacrificed in order to learn something, so I'm okay with that. It's the facepalm moments that make you remember a lesson.

The bottom line is that I have fun, and that's really all that matters to me. I may not be "good". I may finish 4th from the bottom. But I drove 7 hours in order to participate. I found the place, past where the blacktop ends, driving BY MYSELF (Just me and my Subaru) early on a Sunday morning. I DID it. Twice even. That alone is a success to me. Every new detail I learn, every fistbump I get from someone I just met, every new skill that I pick up, is a personal victory. And for me, that is enough.

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