Prepping for a match can be nerve racking enough but knowing that you are shooting alongside professionals can send your nerves through the roof! The first match I ever shot was the CMMG Midwest 3 Gun and I was in the same squad as a handful of 3 Gun Nation Pro Series competitors, no pressure right?
This year the folks that put together the CMMG match decided it was time to run a major match just for amateur shooters, the Brownells US Amateur & Junior National Championships. The only stipulation was that you could not participate if you own one of those coveted Pro Series spots that we all dream of. That didn’t mean that Pro’s weren’t present at the match! Team Benelli’s Kurt Miller and Trapr Swonson along with Tim Ubl, of Taccom Llc, were on hand to RO and give tips to the shooters.
My squad started out on the long range stage which included two pistol plate racks, shooting steel shotgun targets from a tall platform and seven MGM rifle flasher targets reaching out to 300 yards. Some friends convinced me to shoot my new Doublestar Corp rifle that I’d only shot three rounds from 100 yards with at my home range. This would definitely be the stage where I would see if those three shots were really as good as I thought they were two days ago in the dark! Well, let’s just say having Kurt Miller tell me that my hits were 6-8” high was enough to knock me down from my little high horse! The rest of the match I spent aiming a smidge low just in case.
Our next two stages took place in the woods. This area has been my favorite at previous matches, but then, the rain came! Mother nature let us have it. But since there was no lightening, we continued to shoot despite the conditions. While my squad mates were shooting I was standing at the preload table with an umbrella trying to keep everyone’s weapons as dry as possible. I really didn’t want my awesome FNH USA “I FN Heart Mark Wills” sticker to wash off of the stock of my shotgun!
While I was on the already slippery wooden deck of stage 7 I had to reload my shotgun. With each shell I pushed in with my right hand, I could feel the gun slipping in my left hand so I smashed the stock of my gun into my shoulder with my chin praying I could hold it for just a couple more shells. Stage 8 required us to make our way down a path to targets that were virtually hidden in the darkness of the trees and mud they were now covered in. This is where stage planning comes in handy and knowing how many targets are present and when you are going to reload can make or break your stage. When your RO says, “If you are done make your weapon safe and show me an empty chamber,” it makes you take a second, third and fourth look to make sure all targets were neutralized.
Besides the weather, another obstacle I had to face was being a shorty! It seems like every port or rest is made for someone much taller than I am. When asked to shoot from a spool but through a port, everyone was able to kneel and see over the spool out to the target. If I kneeled behind the spool all I saw was…the spool. In order for me to follow the rules yet make myself stable I squatted down and smashed my right shoulder against the side of the spool. It worked, but took me too many seconds to figure it out after the buzzer.
Shooting from the half roof stages are fun for those under 6’ also. Thankfully my tippy toes have grown accustom to balancing on the top board and if I rest the mag well of my rifle along the front side of the roof, it makes for a very stable shot!
Adapt and overcome they say! It’s tough being an amateur in this sport and this match is a welcome addition to the season. Like Mikey said, it’s OUR time!
My squad finished quite well in the standings. We had the 1st and 4th place winners of the Tac Ops division and some gentlemen that finished very well in the open class with their crazy shotguns. They traveled 19 hours from North Dakota to shoot this match!
I finished in the B class and walked away with a Nordic Components package for a shotgun. Diana won some shotgun shell caddies from one of my sponsors, Taccom! This was her first match but I could see it in her eyes, she’ll be back.
Thanks to Animal Customs for keeping Jaden (Tac Iron Junior Champion) and I looking awesome in our jerseys.
And to my other sponsors that continue to let me play with their cool gear. Voodoo Tactical, Roth Concept Innovation, Froglube, What-Ya-Say Hearing, AP Custom, Sentinel Design,Taccom, Warren Tactical, Rubber City Armory, I thank you all for your support.