Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Jackpine Savage tries 3 Gun Competition

As a proud Jackpine Savage, I've been shooting since I was barely a sapling. I took to rifles immediately and later pistols with equal relish. Shotguns, however, were not my favorite. That's an understatement. It's more accurate to say that I hated them for many years. My dislike started with my first encounter.

For those of you that knew my dad or have at least heard stories, you won't be shocked to find out that he had my shoot a 3" magnum from a seated supported position when I was nine. I remember the noise, and sliding backwards, then falling backwards. It took a few minutes to get feeling back into my shoulder. The moment left an impression. Later, when I found out that the best duck weather was in a cold downpour, I was further soured. Finally, shooting a shotgun at a moving object in the air requires to forget the opposite of the discipline of the rifle.

Shooting a rifle requires (as I learned from my father),  1. Consistent cheek to stock weld. 2. Sight picture. 3. Breath control. 4. Steady squeeze on the trigger.

A shotgun requires learning the lead distance and slapping the trigger. There is no luxury of breath control and no sight picture or a steady squeeze. It takes practice to switch from one to the other, and my hatred for the shogun drastically reduced my desire to put in the time.

Flash forward 30 odd years and I heard about 3 Gun matches. There is no false advertising, it requires 3 guns, a rifle, a pistol and... a shotgun. But, and it's a big but, there are no or at least very few targets flying through the air. In short, I could shoot it like a rifle against fixed targets. I can do that.

When it came to choosing my three, the pistol was the easiest decision. I already had a Springfield XDM .40, but for accurate fast shooting, I followed the online advice and got a 9mm XDM. The only thing it required were a few extended mags and a precision trigger kit. I went with the Powder River Precision trigger kit and dropped the pull down to around 2 pounds.

I had no idea how much I would actually like it, so I didn't want to go broke. I sold a few pieces I wasn't using. A Mini 14 and a couple of pistols and got a Mossberg AR15. It had good reviews, especially for the price. The trigger was the largest complaint, so I dropped in a Timney trigger kit. The stock also left something to be desired, so I upgraded that as well. At first I tried a red dot, but the fact is, my old eyes needed optics, so I replaced it with a 1-4 power. What I got is a bargain AR that shoots like a carbine twice it's price.
Lastly, I needed a shotgun. Since my dad passed, I made sure to take care of the shotgun he loved the most. With it, he won best in Bemidji in Skeet and Trap two years in a row. The Browning A5. His was made in Belgium int he 20's and besides routine cleaning, I wouldn't touch it.  Even if I did, would it work for a 3 gun competition? I did some searching and found an article from a man that blogs as Major Pandemic

I was sold. I found a 50's era Twelve Light on Gun for less than $400, and added the magazine extension, a synthetic stock and a Polychoke without the break (due to match rules), and I was ready.
My first match was a little rough. I had yet to install the trigger kit in the pistol. I had feed issues with my AR until I was told to load only 28 rounds in the 30 round magazines (go figure), and when I got to the last two shells in my A5, I also had a miss-feed that required a longer spring (only $6 dollars).

I also got sun burned and was very hungry and thirsty because I forgot to pack food, water or sunscreen.

Here's what I learned about the people that shoot in 3 Gun matches. They are good people. They enjoy it and they care. Technically, we are competing, though not for a prize, just for the lowest time, but it doesn't feel like a competition. You're just out shooting with new friends and learning. The main goal is the better than you were yesterday. I got a lot of advice and assistance. True, no one gave me half their sandwich, but they did have water and this is a shooting range not an after school special. But still, I felt welcomed.

I made adjustments to my gear and created a checklist of items I would need for my next match. There are several in the Twin Cities area during the summer and I'm sure all over the US. I can see how this could get very expensive for someone that was 20 years younger and had a serious chance of getting good. I am neither. My bargain basement gear works just fine for me. Now I just need to get out there and have fun.

If you enjoy shooting as a sport consider joining me, I guarantee you'll like it.