I’m Somebody!

First, this is how I feel today having achieved Marksman classification in two IDPA divisions!

There was an outdoor match that included classifier stages last weekend. It was a stunningly pretty day to shoot, too. As things were arranged, I was in a squad with a few first time IDPA shooters and we had a great time.

The logistics turned out well to use two sets of targets and change them out as each shooter completed a stage. The offline targets would be scored and pasted while the online targets were shot, then swapped. This worked really well for the first stages, which took a little while to complete. Once shooters started on stage 3, it was harder to keep up.

Somewhere in the shuffle, a couple of my raw times were not recorded on my scoresheet. When the Match Director was later compiling the scores, he had to use the maximum 30 seconds for each of those strings, which made my score at least 45 seconds longer than it really took. That and 45 points down combined to give me a total score of 230+ seconds, pretty firmly into “Novice” classification. For my own part, I should have been much more intimately engaged with my own score sheet, which would have let me catch this before it happened. There is no specific rule that addresses this particular issue, however the powers that be discussed it amongst themselves and determined that they could still classify me as Marksman based on their personal observation of my performance. The score was adjusted, posted and finalized and as of this morning, my classifications are official!

IDPA rules permit using one score to classify in multiple divisions, so long as the weapon used meets the criteria of the divisions in question. In my case, my Colt 1991A1 can be used in either CDP (Custom Defense Pistol, essentially any 45ACP pistol) or ESP (Enhanced Service Pistol, essentially pistols with a certain degree of customization beyond stock) so I used it.

In preparing for the match, I was not sure I would have time to load the recommended 200 rounds of 45ACP, so I dashed by Cabela’s on the way home Friday night and bought some PMC BronzeΒ to ensure I would have ammo to shoot. When I got home, it turned out I did have time, so I loaded about 250 rounds and brought 200 with me on Saturday for a total of 400 rounds. If I didn’t get to shoot or complete, it was not going to be because I didn’t have ammo. Furthermore, I brought my Glock 20C with the 40S&W barrel and 200+ rounds of ammo for it just in case something went terribly terribly wrong with the Colt.

A highlight of the classifier stages was that I had no ammo issues, though I didn’t seat the magazine completely at least twice. Each time, I burned a bit of time cycling the slide and retrying before bumping the magazine and cycling. Similarly, I apparently haven’t drilled enough on establishing proper grip upon drawing or if I do then, I revert to poor grip after a magazine change. All of that refers back to very old habits from stationary non-timed shooting and I just have to practice until I stop doing that kind of thing.

In the rest of the match, there were a few fun stages. There was one scenario in which the shooter is basically a spy in a foreign facility. The shooter starts with their hands on the keyboard of a laptop. At the timer start (the alarms sounding), they gather a stack of floppy disks, throw them out a window (presumably to be collected for later analysis) then proceed to shoot their way to safety.

This stage included a disappearing target, which I had not encountered before. This is like a swinger designed to swing only once. It has barbell weights on a peg, which is supported by a stick with a cord attached. The cord was routed such that knocking down a steel popper target would pull the cord and free the weights to fall, pulling the target into view. When the weights pulled it all the way down, they would fall off the peg and the target would now swing back up into the hidden position. The shooter proceeds through the rest of the stage, then from the final shooting position, the disappearing target is again in view. Many shooters took at least the required two shots at the target when it moved, then once the rest of the targets had been addressed, emptied their last magazine at the now stationary disappearing target to ensure it had hits.

When the dust cleared, I had used 151 rounds of ammo, had a mild sunburn on my shaved head due to forgetting to bring a hat and the English muffin sandwich I’d had for breakfast had worn completely off. πŸ™‚

In very vaguely related news, on Monday I received my spiffy new air rifle, a Benjamin Titan NP, and a couple varieties of heavy pellets. I did some very informal indoor sighting in and it appears to be reasonably accurate at very close ranges and pretty powerful. More as I get it sighted in and tested.

And finally, last night I was killing a few minutes while the horses ate their dinner and decided to load a few rounds of 45ACP. About 20 or 30 rounds in, the toggle that the handle attaches to snapped.

In the interest of full disclosure, when I was loading ammunition Friday night before the classifier match, the press started making a metal-on-metal creaking noise, particularly with the handle at the bottom of the stroke. I looked to see what parts were moving when the noise happened and I lubricated the ram and the pivots on the toggle because it seemed that the noise may have been coming from there. The lubrication did not affect the sound at all, but I continued loading as needed. Now that I was holding the handle swinging freely in my hand, I suspect that one or more of the four individual stress points on the toggle had probably already cracked when the noise started and the continued use of the press just worked away at the others until it failed completely.

The toggles themselves do not appear to be available as a replacement part, however, the toggles and handle together are available as a conversion for presses using the older cast aluminum handle. Directly from Lee Precision, the conversion kit is $32 but MidwayUSA sells it for $25, so I ordered one today. Unless something very serious happens between now and when the parts arrive, I should have enough ammo to get through it.

Airsoft Drilling

Other than the blaze orange barrel tip, the Black Ops USA 1911 is a remarkably realistic airsoft pistol. It’s hefty, fits my holster perfectly, the controls are all there and operational. The slide cycles when it’s fired, giving it a little recoil. Its more like 22 than 45, but it still kicks a bit. It makes enough report to trip a timer.

It shoots airsoft BBs reasonably accurately at short ranges. Since I have targets now, I will do some live fire drills soon. For now, I’m just moving, covering and watching that darned trigger finger.

Normally, the slide locks back on an empty magazine, so I had to do a simple modification to keep it from locking back. I tried a couple of blocks, but what works best is a wire bent into a double hook to keep the magazine spring compressed.

I get about 40 shots out of a cylinder if I don’t run it too fast.

Since I’m doing these drills indoors, every doorway is cover and anything I can focus on becomes the target. I pay special attention to maintaining cover and getting my finger out of the trigger guard before my feet move. On the other hand, I can claim that all stages are 0 down πŸ™‚

Chootin’ birds

Several coworkers and I attended an upland game bird huntΒ a couple of weekends ago, hosted by one of our premier partner companies, people we have known for years. It was great fun. I had never hunted with the help of dogs before. It is definitely the way to go for game bird quarry! Oh, and what a gorgeous January in Texas day it was, sunny and high 60’s, maybe low 70’s. I had purchased a suitable coat for hunting in the cold specifically for the hunt (although I *did* actually need one anyway), but the coat didn’t even come out of the truck. I was in shirtsleeves all day. The hunt itself had been rescheduled from an iced out date in December, so the contrast was even more welcome.

Before heading out for the hunt, we first shot 5 stand clays. It was fun, though I did miserably at it. I think I used 3 boxes of shells and got maybe a half dozen clay pigeons. It was pretty pitiful πŸ™‚

Though I didn’t realize it right away, my old Stevens Model 67 20ga shotgun lost a screw. It may have actually been lost during the clays, but I didn’t really notice until I couldn’t get the action to move for followup shots at actual birdies. My pump became a cumbersome single shot. After a couple of these snag up events, I looked more carefully and finally noticed that the screw was missing.

Our host loaned me his 12ga Browning Goldhunter for a while; he was taking a lot of pictures anyway. I, having shot the old pump action 20ga intermittently but pretty much exclusively for about 30 years, tried to pump the forestock of the autoloader. *I* laughed. Even so, I was able to take at least my first bird with it.

The folks from the the lodge brought out a spare for me to use, a 12ga H&K, which I am pretty sure was actually a Benelli M1. In any case, it seems to have liked me well enough. I dispatched a Hungarian partridge, several quail and a pheasant rooster with it.

The club handles your take in a clever and sensible way. Your guide counts up your group’s whole take and splits it evenly between the team members. Then they send you home with dressed out frozen birds to meet (or exceed) that count. You don’t have to clean your own nor wait for someone to clean them for you. You just go home with ready to thaw and cook birds. In most cases, a few more than you shot.

As for the missing screw, it is for the cartridge stop pivot. The jamming was largely because there was usually a new live shell in the bottom of the action, blocking everything up. I located a new one and it’s mating nut at Numrich and ordered them. A whopping $8.40 for both. They are expected any day now.

The order confirmation email included a USPS tracking number. It occurred to me earlier today that I had not seen the parts arrive, so I thought it wise to check the tracking of the package. The last status said it had been picked up on Friday. Makes sense; it was actually Thursday afternoon when I ordered it, so I’m sure the tracking number had been generated then but the package not actually picked up until Friday. Even so, that was the last entry in tracking.

I have always wondered about the value of package tracking as provided by USPS, at least as compared to UPS and FedEx. I have often checked tracking several times with no updates, then received the package. After the package would already be in my hands, tracking info would suddenly update with all these way points and dates, all of which mattered very little since I had my thing already.

Ironically, as I tracked this package, USPS.com popped up a survey page, so I went through the whole survey, noting that I was 3 out of 5 dissatisfied with their tracking in general because usually I check their tracking and it shows no updates until I have the package in hand, then suddenly there will be some details…

So, I finished the survey and went back to the page and pretty much out of habit, refreshed the screen. There was a new update! My Numrich package left the Austin sort facility today… that wasn’t on there before the survey popped up.