Shooty Weekend, Back to Loading, GoPro Match

It’s been a couple weeks since I updated the ol’ blog, but I’m still doin stuff.

My oldest friend from way back in 7th grade (and that was a while back) came to visit. He caught the last stage or so of the Friday IDPA match at Lone Star. Saturday morning, we set up three IDPA targets out back and shot almost every firearm on the premises, paying special attention to my Glock and my 1911.

Early in the afternoon, another old friend/coworker and his wife came out bearing rifles, pistols and even a bow. The rifles were sighted in and pistols and bows were shot by all. The weather gave us a start, but it let us be in the end.

Sunday, we cleaned and lubed all the very dirty pistols and after my friend headed for home, I set up my press to load 40S&W.

During the course of the following week or two, I loaded up about 150 rounds featuring 165gr RNFP polymer coated bullets on 4.2gr of Hodgdon Titegroup. The goal is a fairly inexpensive soft recoil load for use with IDPA.

4.X grains of TiteGroup is apparently the bottom limit for reliability with the Lee Adjustable Charge Bar. The published range is down to 0.28cc, but I could not get it to throw consistent charges with it turned down that small. I would have expected the extra fine grain size to have actually been less troublesome in small volumes, but that was not what I was seeing. I ended up using the 0.37cc orifice in the standard discs to get a rock solid 4.2gr charge.

The other problem I had was much trouble getting the finished rounds to case gauge well. They kept not quite dropping into the gauge block. I found that increasing the flare in the case mouth helped quite a bit. With the smaller flare, it was much more likely to shave a bit of polymer and lead off the seating bullet. This shaved material ends up on the case mouth and generally prevented the cases from fitting the case gauge.

A few of the rounds were actually a bit oversize at the head end of the case. 40S&W brass takes quite a beating in some pistols, most famously, but not necessarily deservedly, early generation Glocks. To help feed reliability, the chambers are a little oversize, which lets the brass stretch a little more. Marry that to some high pressure loads, and some 40S&W cases can be a little swollen at the head.

I had an earlier chambering issue which was incorrectly blamed on this phenomenon, so I ordered an undersize resizing die. The earlier issue turned out to be inadequate crimping, but I still had the die and some of this last batch of brass is indeed a bit large at the head, so I used the undersize die and addressed that.

Even with all that, they still didn’t often gauge right. I wanted to try the Titegroup loads, so I had 100 rounds of “close enough” ammo to take to the match on Thursday. It was during the day Thursday that it dawned on me what was causing the issue. Many of the rounds had scrapes up on the curve of the bullet. Bingo! They wouldn’t go into the gauge because the gauge was accurately reflecting the depth of the chamber and the engagement with the rifling. I simply wasn’t seating them deeply enough.

Sure enough, I did have two occasions (both caught on video) where my over long ammo jammed the pistol into almost-battery. One was at the end of a stage, so it didn’t cost me any time. The other, not so serendipitous.

The match was fun. I had my GoPro on a chest rig. I suspected that the chest view would be of limited value with pistol shooting, and I was right. Stage 1 had an interesting bit wherein for the last three targets, the shooter needed to shoot from very low. Most shooters laid on their side to take these three. Somehow, I had the camera in the wrong mode and thus did not capture that stage. The HD version is here.

Scores were not bad, with the exception of stage 3’s jam. In fact, stage three is really the only one much worth talking about.

The stage description was easier to do than to describe. There were two shooting positions and three targets. At the start, you have two magazines sitting on a barrel at P1 and one at P2. At the buzzer, load the pistol and place three shots on any two targets. Remove magazine (you could stow the mag or leave it on the barrel, but it wasn’t empty, so you couldn’t drop it) and move to P2. Load the pistol, place three shots on two other targets. Remove mag, move back to P1, load pistol with the unused mag and finish with three shots on the remaining two targets. The final goal is six rounds in each of three targets, limited to 18 rounds, and oh yeah, can’t shoot the same target twice in a row.

In this dance, my ammo jammed up on the first shot of the second target. I (eventually) cleared the jam and kept count, placing two more shots on the proper target. Moved to P2, did that, moved back to P1 and somehow only placed three shots, skipping the last target. Consequently, that cost me 3 misses and a procedural error for not fully engaging a target with the required number of rounds. I also managed to hit the Non-Threat on the left target. Twice. It was just the edge of the Non-Threat, not that it matters 🙂

I got home after the match and while the horsies were munching their late dinner, I adjusted the bullet seating die and loaded a handful of rounds that all gauged perfectly. I may consider putting the regular resizing die back since the last 1000 or so rounds didn’t actually have that problem.

Friday Night at LSGGG


Maybe I am beginning to actually listen to my own mantra, sloooowww dooowwwwnnn. I did pretty good on this match and I think it’s largely due to pacing myself within my abilities 🙂

I think my TruGlo TFO sights helped, too. They are REALLY vivid in the nice bright lighting of the range at Lone Star and my old guy eyes like them.

The scoresheet is almost boring….

The scores submitted omitted the FTN on stage 3, making my total match score 124.22. This was later corrected. It changed my score, but not my position.

On stage 3, the raw time scratchout was due to a low charge round. When that one went pop instead of boom, the SO called a stop, fearing a squib. We checked the pistol and it turned out not to be a squib, and they let me reshoot the stage. Turns out that was good because I clearly recall failing to get the first two targets in the required tactical sequence first time through.

One stage at this match has caused much post-match discussion concerning a start while seated with a COF description requiring the engagement of 5 targets while seated then move to the next shooting position. In practical terms, I handled it by placing all the required shots, taking one extra shot at the last target, then reload while on the move to the next shooting position. However, fairly recent changes to the rules make the precise time at which on can or cannot move or begin a reload a matter of contention. I will see what comes out of the discussion and just understand that I may or may not get a procedural error which I may or may not deserve if reloading while moving or seated.

In any case, in my tiny corner of the match, 124.22 was enough to have been top ESP Marksman (of three) and while overall scores are NOT tracked or compared, my time was right in the center of that list.

Low Light Match

I usually post a pic of my scoresheet and analyze each issue, but as this was my first low light match, a lot of that doesn’t really compare with other matches. It’s not that I feel any embarrassment over it. I will reveal plenty of what went wrong. I’m just not going to waste the bandwidth with a pic of it. Total score was 172.28, earning me the lowest place in ESP.

Much more important to me is that it was a LOT of fun! Many present had never shot a low light match and as pointed out before we even started, a lot of what we would be doing was experimenting to see what works and what doesn’t. In that, I learned that I do best if I shoot strong hand only and wield the light well away from the pistol, keeping light trained downrange and using my night sights in relative darkness.

Numerically, my performance had an interesting trend. Each stage scored kinda alike. The four stages were 19, 23, 23 & 20 down respectively, an average of 21 down on each. Each of the four stages had either one Fail to Neutralize or one Hit on Non Threat, each worth 5 seconds. Even raw stage times were remarkably consistent, 24.71, 29.58, 34.15 & 21.34 for an average of 27.45.

My worst was probably Stage 3 where, somehow, I completely missed three shots on the same target. There’s nothin’ that makes you feel good like 15 down and FTN on one target! There were two targets in a tarp tunnel with a Non-Threat between them. There was a ficus tree soft covering both targets, but mostly covering the one on the left. My miss, however, was the one on the right. I engaged it. I just didn’t get any on it. I didn’t get the Non-Threat, either. Shrug. The rest of the stage was 1’s and 2’s. One issue that many people had with that part of that stage is that the tarp was hanging so that the edges were likely to be fairly near the gun. Muzzle blast frequently sucked the tarp into the line of sight if you covered with the gun near the edge. Those who stepped more forward but still remained in cover had less trouble with the tarp.

I had trouble with low cover last week. I did ok this week, even fumbling with the light.

In Stage 4, I finally figured out what worked for me, light-wise. For this stage, start was with pistol and light on a pedestal, four targets to get three rounds each. At the buzzer, pick up light and pistol and proceed. I picked up the light, turned it on, placed it between my left pinkie and ring fingers, facing off the back of my hand. I kept it low and shot (at) the first two targets on the move to P2. This felt pretty good and as planned, left me with fingers and thumb for the reload without parking the flashlight anywhere. I flat nailed the Non Threat, then proceeded to place only two on the first target and only one shot of three on the other. Regardless of my mental checklist to the contrary, I was shooting faster than I should have been. Once at P2, there were two more targets to take 3 rounds each. On on the 11th shot, I expected the slide to have locked open. When it didn’t, I tried and it just clicked. I reloaded and slingshotted the slide and took the last shot. I returned to the previous cover position and tried a makeup shot that apparently still missed.

I am looking forward to the next one!

We also have match in Weatherford tonight and I’m late to leave!

Lee Precision and Low Light Match

Lee Precision continues to impress.

At the request of Stephanie, the Lee CSR I had been emailing with, I sent them the two broken toggles and the peripherals connected to them for inspection, along with a package of documentation about the circumstances for each break and (this is a hazard of any such correspondence with me) my theories as the the weaknesses of the design and what I would do to correct them.

Since they had already replaced my original toggle and had shown great interest in the problem, I was satisfied and considered the matter addressed, at least until such time that I might experience another breakage and I now have a spare toggle set on hand if that happens.

This morning, however, I received another email detailing an order for all the parts I had returned, zero cost, and under customer notes: “REPLACED AT NO CHARGE”. So now, I will have three sets of toggles for spares!

Tonight’s local IPDA match at Winchester is a milestone one for me. The first match I was there to see was a low light match. For safety reasons, new shooters are not allowed to participate in such matches, so I was limited to observing, but it was a very cool thing to see and I was hooked. Tonight, I get to shoot in one!

Always happy to have a good excuse to get a new toy, so I shopped a bit and got a StreamLight ProTac 2L. This thing is about the size of the old Mini Maglight, maybe smaller, but about a million times brighter. The specs list the high setting as 260 lumens. It has multiple modes accessible by pressing or double/triple tapping the switch. These modes are also programmable to a degree. I set it to menu 3, which has low (13 lumens) for first choice and high (260 lumens) for second choice. So, to count scores and navigate, I just turn the light on. To shoot, I double tap it.

I have practiced a bit with drawing the pistol and the light. I have not stumbled across a graceful way, especially if a concealment garment is required, but I can do it safely. The other juggle will be magazine changes. If the rules dont preclude it, I will try to retain the light as I swap magazines, but I may need to stow the light temporarily. I am prepared to work with either method.