On Monday, I shot an indoor 2-gun match at the Front Range Gun Club in Loveland, CO.  This was my first time trying out this format and it was more fun than I expected.  I did two things that hurt my score a bit here.  I make a point to put the carbine on safe when moving from one shooting position to another and when I had gotten into a new position, my brain wasn’t working right and I thought I had a malfunction so I did a tap-rack-click and realized my problem, but the course had limited ammunition so I now had to retrieve a live case from the ground to finish all my shots.  My second issue was that there were two targets that had a no-shoot in front of them that I just managed to clip (below the paper-plate Texas-star and between the swingers).  I was pretty impressed by these targets and I appreciate my club’s attempts to make some interesting targets for an indoor shoot like this.

One take-away that I found shooting this indoors is that my front sight posts are slow to acquire on dark targets.  Long term I would like to get an EOTech or Aimpoint sight, but I think I may just replace the front post for now.  I have found some good options for tritium, fiber optic, or tritium/fiber optic so I just need to narrow down my needs and pick the right choice.  I will probably second-guess this for a while longer before I pull the trigger on any new AR parts.

IDPA Match – Shaking off the dust

Posted: March 19, 2011 in IDPA

Had another IDPA match today, I got lucky on this one as I have been so busy lately that I haven’t shot at all since my last match.  I shook a little dust off today and should have a chance this week to get into the range and work on some walk-back accuracy drills.  Many of the courses of fire here were pretty close and so accuracy was not as critical in this match.

Watching the video after the fact, I can see some spots where I could have shaved off some time, my reloads with retention in particular.  They are something that I’ve not practiced much and I am inconsistent with how I stow the loaded magazine depending on what clothes I’m wearing.

I have just over two months before the state IDPA match in Montrose, so training for that match is my primary goal now.

Last night I shot the monthly ‘fun gun’ match at my local shooting range.  This is a chance to get out in front of the shooting booths, engage multiple targets, and shoot on the move. There are limited target options in an indoor setting, but the weather is a lot better than my outdoor matches, and it goes faster too.

This was my first time doing a man-on-man match indoors.  We had two shoot no-shoot targets with a load out of 8,2,8,2 in the magazines and a minimum of 8 rounds on each target.  One target seemed to be presented a little more than the other- so it took some discipline to not put too many rounds into the target that was presented more.

We also shot the 10-50-1 drill, otherwise known as the Triple Nickel. The goal here is to put 10 shots into 5 targets with one reload in under 5 seconds, while drawing from concealment. We use IPSC targets just cut down to just the side of the ‘C’ zone. So far, my best attempt was making 9 out of the 10 shots in 5.61 seconds. Tonight I dropped a few more points and didn’t shoot quite as fast.

In this case, I feel like my main goal here is to work on speed first and accuracy second. Even though I’m dropping some shots, I think that if I could put some dedicated practice into this drill, I could start to nail it. Index shooting this close and fast is not something I have really practiced, and it’s very unnatural to shoot with such a poor sight picture.

One of the most common proverbs around shot gunning is that “in a gun fight, you will only have the ammunition in or on the gun.” Shotgun shells are a bit bulky, heavy, and unwieldy. In a home defense situation, you are not going to have time to grab a bunch of accessories like shot shell caddies or bandoliers – you’ll be lucky if you end up wearing any clothes.

My first upgrade to my Benelli Super Nova is to add capacity to the number of rounds I can store “in the gun”.  There are a number of magazine tube extensions out there for any shotgun, and they range in price and quality anywhere from $30 for an el cheapo Tac-Star to $90 for the extension I’m reviewing here.  When you consider it is basically a section of pipe with a nut attached it seems quite the rip-off, but I wanted to get the best equipment available, and a few hours of researching my options and opinions in various forums, suggested this was the best option available.  (For a nice round up of some other extension tubes check out this review on a Remington 870 blog).

I ordered the magazine extension directly from Nordic Components on their website and asked in the comments if they could have it to me by Friday so I could install it before a match.  The order shipped the next day and I had it in time.  For comparison, I also ordered a side-saddle shell carrier the same day and two weeks later it still hasn’t showed up.  I called the reseller and they have told me I can expect it sometime in the next month (maybe).

As I had already learned online, all extension tubes ship with the same ridiculously long spring so there’s some trimming required to make everything fit. Here’s an image of the +2 shot extension tube with the spring so long it doesn’t fit in the picture. Also there’s two stickers if you like that sort of thing.

When you remove the barrel you can see that the stock spring only extends slightly further than the end of the barrel.  I tried to keep this in mind with the new spring, but the coils are a bit tighter on it and so it really became a matter of trial and error.  You will need some needle nose pliers to remove the factory spring retainer, and you will absolutely need wire snips if you plan to get the full capacity in the tube. I’d also advise wearing your shooting glasses when you do this as the spring will be under a lot of pressure when you try to screw the extension tube on.

Here you can see the factory spring (on top) compared to the amount that I had to trim off the new spring. You will need to have some 2-3/4” shells or snap caps around to confirm if you can fit the advertised capacity.  On my second try, I was still 1 round short of my advertised capacity so I took a few more lengths off until I could just fit all rounds.  This makes for a little more effort loading shells, but should resolve any potential feed issues.

The fit & finish of the extension tube is great.  The nut that screws it in easily matches the Benelli aesthetic and the anodizing looks like it came straight from the factory.  The +2 tube length is just shy of the barrel length which I am fine with, a +3 sticks out a little too far for my tastes and can be an issue if you ever shoot a 3-gun stage that requires you stow the gun in a barrel or otherwise put too much pressure on an extension tube.

There is not much to report as far as it’s function. It works exactly as advertised increasing my round capacity to 7+1. I’ve only had a chance to use the shotgun in two IDPA side matches but both times it’s worked great and I’m glad to have the extra capacity.  Plus it just makes the gun look complete, I feel like it was looking a bit bare in the stock configuration. Here’s a picture of my IDPA + Side Match setup:

  • Beretta 92G Elite II with Dawson Precision Fiber front sight/Novak rear, Hogue grip, MecGar Optimum magazines with Beretta Rubber base-plates shooting 124gr Federal American Eagle.
  • Benelli SuperNova Tactical shooting Winchester Reduced Noise/Reduced Recoil #8 Target Load and Remington Managed Recoil “Slugger” 12ga slugs.
  • Peltor TacSport Electronic hearing
  • ESS CrossBow Silencer eye protection.

Defensive Pistol Match

Posted: March 6, 2011 in IDPA, Shotguns

Along with IDPA, the Northern Colorado Rod & Gun Club also hosts a Defensive Pistol match each month. This is very similar to IDPA, but with a few less restraints.  For one thing, the stages are not designed to be revolver neutral and there are no limits to how much ammo you can place in your magazines.  For those that have the 33rd glock magazines, this is your chance to use this for fun and profit. I particularly enjoyed the increased amount of steel and no-shoot targets in this format.  For me, it’s another chance to practice IDPA type shooting and get some more trigger time in.  There’s absolutely no reason you can’t adhere to every IDPA rule while doing this such as drawing from concealment, and loading no more than 10 rounds in a magazine.

I said previously that I’m going to focus more on accuracy in the near-term here. I’ve not put in the range time on this yet, but my performance today shows again the need.  I had a handful of points down on some shooting that wasn’t too difficult.  Most importantly were some misses on steel that should have been easy hits – I got a bit sloppy on my trigger control and the steel reminded me to start paying attention again.

We had another shotgun side match which was again a blast, I’m really liking the new shotgun and now need to work on my reloading skills.  We had a reload heavy stage and I spent most of the time fishing for shells in my pockets, so I’ll be getting some shell caddies in the near future, and still anxiously await a shell carrier side-saddle that’s apparently on back order until the end of time.

This week’s best defense focused on situational awareness.  The importance of being able to identify and avoid a potentially dangerous situation cannot be overstated. One thing I found interesting about Rob’s firearms training is that there is no one perfect home defense gun for all situations.  While many have recently come to prefer a carbine for home defense due to high ammo capacity and reduced risk of over-penetration, its size can be a limitation in tight quarters. The same goes for shotguns, which are otherwise ideal for those who live in out in the woods where protection from animals may be a concern.  For me, living in the tight confines of a condominium, a pistol is the best fit for my particular space.  It is also the firearm I am most proficient with, so the choice here is a no-brainer.

Michael Bane’s tip regarding keeping hearing protection in your safe room is worth considering.  I would suggest balancing the cost and feasibility of electronic hearing pro against the low-tech approach of a few SureFire ear pro or the cost of a tax stamp and suppressor. This becomes even more important in the smaller confines of a safe room.

Lastly, it would sure be nice if the opening scenario were not always repeated twice nearly back to back.  Between the opening sequence and the preview for the next episode, this just makes a 30-minute show even more pressed for time, and prevents more detailed discussion of great topics like: items to keep in your safe room.

Shooting the IDPA classifier

Posted: February 20, 2011 in IDPA, Shotguns

The classifier was a humbling experience.  Not only was the match more difficult than I first gave it credit for, but I also could tell I was not shooting to the top of my abilities.  That said, I believe I have been fairly classified and feel that I’ll be appropriately competitive with my new classification.  This just means I have a lot improvement ahead of me to reach the next competitive ‘level’.

Despite my prior research, I managed to forget all of the tips when the buzzer went off, and blew through my first stage with way too many points down.  I recovered a bit in the second and third stage, but not enough to pull up my scores.  I ended up as a ‘Sharp Shooter’ with a raw time of 105.68 seconds, but a whopping 71 points down, and one penalty for a total of 143.68. I’m over 20 seconds from expert class, and that’s not something I can make up even on a good day the way I’ve been shooting lately.

My biggest mistake was probably on my weak hand shots from 7 yards, I was not paying enough attention to the course of fire and was thinking it was two shots on each target, rather than a single shot.  The RSO helped correct me, but I still drew the penalty, lost some time figuring out what I was doing wrong, and blew my next few shots.

Looking back, I have decided that I need to work on my accuracy as the number one way to improve my score. I had nearly as many points down in the first stage (27) as I did in the third stage (30) where I tended to dip my shots low on the target and had two misses. It is fun to work on speed but without accuracy it is just pointless.  I’m going to spend the next month of my shooting practice concentrating on tightening my groupings, shooting at longer distances, and learning to love a double-action draw shot.

Side-Match Shotgun Fun

Despite some concerns over the classifier, I had an absolute blast shooting the shotgun side-match (video at the end of the YouTube above). I recently purchased a Benelli SuperNova Tactical specifically for shooting the side-matches, and it absolutely exceeded my expectations.  Not only was the gun great fun to shoot, but the course of fire was pretty clever.  When shooting steel with birdshot, the closer shots can be more difficult than the further shots because of the way the shots patterns and spreads with distance.  This is a bit contrary to pistol shooting and the reloads add a little more complication to the course.  Everyone else seemed to be enjoying it just as much, and a number of us ran through the course a second time without score just for grins. Shooting events like this remind me why I love shooting.