First off please let me apologize for my absence(s). I have been the proverbial 3 legged cat for a bit now and I have entirely neglected the blog and visiting yours. Mea Maxima Culpa.
I'm getting ready for my next large(ish) 3 Gun match weekend after next, the Southwest Multigun. In preparation I just finished a 3 day, 1500 round handgun class with Ron Avery. I've also been doing some long range rifle and shotgun practice with a buddy.
I've learned a few things about 3 Gun from matches, talking to other shooters and practice. You can make or lose great swaths of time in 3 key areas; long range rifle, shotgun loading and transitions (both target to target and gun to gun). My recent practice has been geared toward addressing those 3 areas. There are many more I assure you but for me, at the level I am currently, those are the areas where I can have the greatest impact on my times, scores and placements.
Let me give you an example. I few weeks ago we ran a 2 Gun match, 4 stages. The first stage was long range rifle, targets at 260 and 280 yards with a string of handgun targets leading up to the rifle. I ran it in about 77 seconds. Pretty good and within 10 seconds of the stage winner. My 2 main division competitors both dropped almost a minute to me on that stage and spent the rest of the match trying to catch up. But with no stages left that were make or break they couldn't. I won 1 more and lost 2 others but the final times reflected that initial huge loss of times for both shooters and I beat them both handily. It drove home for me the idea that this was an area I had better be really comfortable with.
Another. Last December I ran the Hard as Hell Outlaw 3 Gun match where I basically tanked the shotgun. I timed out on 3 stages (and finished exactly on time in another) and on a couple of those I completely missed the pistol strings because I couldn't feed the shotgun. On some of the others I hosed targets just to be sure I could get to them all. To be fair my shotgun also died pretty dramatically but not before I got a good taste of how much time and points I was losing by not being able to reload the shotgun. I was out of control and had absolutely no idea what I was doing or how to improve. Since then I've upgraded the shotgun and loading system I use.
One of the things I've been toying with is my belt setup, especially the shotgun shell carriers. After a lot of research and trial and error I've gone with a Load Two system. I went with these, Taccom Duaload. I do a strong hand load where I throw the shotgun up on my right shoulder, hold it with my weak hand and then load with the strong hand. There are a lot of techniques out there, this one just works for me at the moment. I anticipate trying others as I progress but I gotta pick one if I'm going to perfect it and this is what I chose.
Ok. A couple of videos. In this first one I have 5 shells in the gun and 7 targets, 2 on the left and 5 on the right. This is a reload on the move drill where I immediately throw the gun up and load 4 as I'm moving. Then, as I get into the shooting box, I shoot the 2 on the left and the 5 on the right. I had one miss I had to make up.
In this second video I'm starting in the shooting box. Load 4 and then engage the targets. No misses on that run.
I'm probably shooting 75 to 100 rounds in a typical practice session. I try and get out at least once a week and more if I can afford the ammo. I also do a lot of dry fire exercises, especially loading. I recommend using dummy shells for that. The dry fire reloading really helps because reloading is reloading, whether you're doing it on the range or in your basement. The live fire introduces stress where your weaknesses will really come out and validates what you're doing. Or not as the case may be. Then it's back to the basement for more practice. I've been practicing the Load 2 reloads for a few months now and I'm just getting to the point where it feels natural and I can even manipulate my way through a hosed reload and not drop shells on the ground hither and yon. My goal is to be able to load at a rate of 1 shell per second or less. That's 4 in under 4 seconds, etc. I'm just teasing that point now with some above and some below that time. I did have to modify the shotgun a little to help. I filed down the loading port. I'm still messing with that, taking a little off at a time and remembering that one Oh Shit means buying a new shotgun. I'll post on that as soon as I'm satisfied.
The other part of my shotgun practice is target transitions. Notice I'm trying to swing from the left to right target strings and between targets in the same string as quickly as I can and keeping my splits (shot to shot) as quick as possible while staying accurate. My splits at the moment are in the .3 to .35 second range with good hits. I'm confident I can lower those into the quarter second range with more time and practice. A month ago my splits were north of half a second. In the low .2s is where I need to be. The key for me is to get past my comfort zone and go faster than I can get first round hits. Then I back off a little until I'm getting solid hits. That's my split times. I'll hose a stage with splits under .2 seconds from time to time just to get used to what that looks and feels like. As I get more accustomed to going faster I can go faster yet. It's all a dance. First you learn the steps and then you practice them until they're solidly in your head (and your trigger finger). Then comes the polish. I'm finally at the point where I feel as if I have the steps firmly placed and now I can work on the peripherals and speed the heck up!
The journey goes on. This is a pretty involved sport and it takes a lot of investment of time and money to improve. What it takes mostly though is determination and focus.If I could give one piece of advice to anyone interested it would be this. Research is your friend. Ask questions and never, ever be afraid to push your limits. There's no way to know how good you can be unless you test yourself. Find a local match and go shoot! As my good friend who shall remain nameless says; HARDEN THE F$%& UP!
Next up will be some thoughts on long range rifle and a match breakdown from next weekend. Oh, and the Sig took a dump so I'm shooting Lu's XDm and looking for a replacement. What will it be? At this moment I have no earthly idea :)