I won another local, non-sanctioned 3-gun match over the weekend, and I think I have some more observations that will help newer shootists.
Diving right in, my performance was not all that great, and the only reason I won was that all four stages could use the AR15. My AR15/M-16/M-4 skills by far eclipse any of my other shooting skill sets. Having the opportunity to rip through the cardboard targets with my frankengun AR let me get ahead right off the bat. The AR is my best weapon skill set, and I love ARs. So here's some video I'll pick apart later:
Time: 48.14 seconds clean. First, I failed to press-check my rifle and when the buzzer went off, I got a "click" instead of a "bang". Tap, rack, bang, and I was off. Four of the cardboard had only heads, and despite that, I kept the muzzle moving and my 20 yard double taps were the same speed as those at 7 yards. Did I mention that I really love ARs? So then I planned to use the shotgun to clean up the mini-popper array, then the star and finish with the M&P. What actually happened was that I got too wrapped up in trying to cycle the shotgun as fast as possible and created a false flinch (not a flinch, but same effect). I ran the shotgun dry without realizing it and cost myself an extra two seconds. I had some inexcusable misses with the pistol (although I think the draw was pretty good). When I slowed down slightly and used my sights, the steel dropped. Not a bad run (2nd overall) despite making almost every mistake I could without getting DQ'd.
Time: 50.98 seconds clean. The AR worked its magic again. The targets I start on are 50 yards out, and all had various "hard cover" areas forcing careful aiming to catch the chest A zone. The two close targets were on the near side of 20 yards, and again, I ripped them up just as fast as I can from half the distance. Did I mention I love ARs? I chose not to use the shotgun (I'll get to that later) because my pistol skills are an order of magnitude better than my shotgun skills. I hit the steel, but only when I slowed down and watched my sights. I would drop a few in a row and get excited and try to go faster and miss. I also threw in a reload I didn't need after the four cardboard standing near the berm. Despite some relatively minor mistakes, I won that stage by ten seconds (over a USPSA Master, I might add because I'm a shameless egotist).
Time: 51.58 seconds clean. My fixed 3x Nikon P-223 doesn't slow me down up close, and it makes things way easier beyond 50 yards. There were six rifle steel: one 4" circle swinger target, and a rack of five 4" plates. I missed one plate but hit the ballistic shield on the next shot, and got two plates. The shotgun was a mess. I forgot to count shots, fumbled some rounds, and still somehow won the stage (oh yeah, my AR carried it again). I can empty a shotgun pretty fast, but I can't reload one to save my life.
No video exists of stage four, thank the baby Jesus. I was a train wreck. I had a miss on the 40yd rifle paper targets (my only penalty of the match), worked the shotgun too slow, and pumped about 8 rounds at an 8 yard plate that I just couldn't hit. I was sixth overall with a time of 57.59 plus 2.5 seconds for a paper miss over 40 yards.
So what? Well first, my first stage reinforced my belief that quality practice can save you from your mistakes. I shook off those mistakes like Taylor Swift. Second, knowing your strengths and weaknesses will improve your 3-gun performance. Not good at the shotgun? Skip it. Third, practice your shotgun skills. Being good at shooting and reloading a shotgun sounds easy, but it isn't. Especially a pump action. Practice your ass off and you'll run away from the pack. Unless the stages are AR heavy and some a-hole with a tuned up frankengun shows up. Stay tuned for a follow-up focusing on guns and gear.