My first pistol competition

I took part in my first pistol competition today. Not sure how I did yet, they're supposed to email us with the scores, but I was just hoping to be in the upper half. After shooting, I think I'll probably be in the upper 1/4 and with any luck I may even place.

It was an informal, no-prize affair put on by the Volunteer Rifle & Pistol Club. It was a fun little shoot modeled on the GLock Sport Shooting Federation course. It looked a li'l something like this:

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I had a pretty quick time through the entire course. Accuracy-wise, on stage one I was shooting center mass on the 5, 7, 10, and I think on the 15, but shot real low on the first pass at the 25. Then I missed it completely twice on the second pass at the 25 because, stupid me, I had my wrist twisted trying to shoot around the barricade and pulled them off too far left.

On stage 2, I had a good time but took 11 shots to drop the plates (6 would have been perfect, the best did it in 7). Two did hit the targets but failed to knock them over. It was my first time shooting at plates. Everyone dreaded them because they're supposed to be hard. I didn't really believe them because I have no problem hitting a 3 inch bulls eye at a paper target, but the plates really were hard for some reason.

On stage 3 I hit all center mass at 7 yards and had a low time to boot. At 15 yards I hit 7 center mass and had two on the line (+1 point) and one all the way out on the "shoulder" (+3 points). If memory serves, the only person who did better was an RSO who was shooting with us and I think I did better at 7 yards while he creamed me at 15. But, he was shooting a .45 while I was using a 9mm, so I had an advantage. In other words, he's a good shooter.

They are putting on two interesting shoots in September and October. The first is the Federal Air Marshal course and the second is the MEU(SOC) course. That's "Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable)."

Unfortunately, I can't find any info on the MEU(SOC) course but the Federal Air Marshal qualification course is well known. The beurocrats are often seen on television talking about how the Federal Air Marshals have the "highest shooting qualification standards of all law enforcement agencies" but that's nonsense. It's highly specialized for close quarters and, as a result, not as hard as many other courses. It's all shot at 7 yards and I have given up shooting targets at 7 yards, opting instead for putting holes in Post-it Notes® at that distance.

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The largest difficulty with the course is that it's relatively unforgiving and shot at a high speed, but it's all relative speed; short bursts. Pull out and shoot a round or two in 1.5 seconds then take a breather.

Still, that isn't to say it's easy, per se, it's just not "the most difficult." I've always thought that the FBI "Q" course, for example, would be more difficult because it's more complicated. And if we really want to argue, are they counting all the SWAT teams in that statement too?

It's still good training for that particular job and before 9-11 some of the best shooters in the world were Air Marshals. That had more to do with the fact that Air Marshals were mostly ex SpecOps folks than with the pistol course, but it's still good training for close quarters. Unfortunately the entire qualification course was scrapped after 9-11 when the need for recruitment numbers became more important than marksmanship. I hope it's been reinstated now.

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FAM training is shot cold on a FBI-QIT "coke bottle" target. Point value inside bottle = 5. Point value touching line or outside bottle = 2. Maximum possible score = 150. Mininum qualifying score = 135. Cannot take longer than maximum alloted time on any stage or the shooter fails.

Stage one: From a concealed holster, draw and fire one round within 1.65 seconds. Do this twice for a combined maximum total of 3.30 seconds. Total rounds fired: 2

Stage two: From the Low Ready position, fire two rounds into target (double tap) within 1.35 seconds. Do this twice for a combined maximum total of 2.70 seconds. Total rounds fired: 4

Stage three: From the Low Ready position, fire 6 rounds at one target withing 3 seconds. No more than 0.6 seconds between each shot. Total rounds fired: 6

Stage four: From the Low Ready position, fire one shot, speed reload, fire one more shot within 3.25 seconds. Do this twice for a combined maximum total of 6.50 seconds. Total rounds fired: 4

Stage five: From the Low Ready position, fire one round at each of two targets 3 yards apart within 1.65 seconds. Do this twice for a combined maximum total of 3.30 seconds. Total rounds fired: 4

Stage six: From a concealed holster, start facing away from targets, pivot 180 degrees and draw, firing one round at each of three targets from left to right withing 3.50. Do this twice for a combined maximum total of 7 seconds. Total rounds fired: 6

Stage seven: From the Low Ready position with only one round loaded, fire the one round at the target. When the slide locks back, drop to one knee, reload, fire one more round, all within 4.00 seconds. Do this twice for a combined maximum total of 8 seconds. Total rounds fired: 4

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