As per my usual procedure, I went out to Atlanta Conservation Club and shot the IDPA match this weekend. The title of the blog post is appropriate, because the entire match could be summed up by describing what occurred in those three categories. I’ll go in reverse order (Ugly, Bad, then Good) because knowing what I defined as The Ugly will provide you with important context on the match itself. First, let me set the stage for you.
The match was actually a two parter, they had the regular monthly match, and then immediately following that, they had IDPA’s marathon classifier match, which is a 90 round shoot that covers everything from shooting on the move to weak-hand shooting and all sorts of good stuff. I was running my Para 16-40 Limited, the .40 S&W single action double stack 1911 that I have become (and remain) quite fond of. I used a Blackhawk CQC Level One holster, which was actually pretty awesome, and I also ended up using my Blackhawk gloves (more on that later). Now that the scene is set, here is the match breakdown itself.
The Ugly: The magazines. I mentioned in my review of the pistol itself that they were murder on my thumbs, and that’s true. However, what I didn’t anticipate was that they caused the pistol to tie itself up repeatedly. The 10 round magazine from Para worked fine, I had no problems with it, but the 16 round magazines were unpredictable. When loaded with 10 rounds, they absolutely refused to feed reliably. The match became a less of an IDPA match for me and more of a training class in malfunction and jam clearance when the jam is mag related. That’s “The Ugly”. So now I’m on a quest for reliable mags for my Para 16-40. I ordered a 10 round Pro-Mag from Midway USA to test out, because I really don’t feel like paying $50 for a new magazine from Para.
The Bad: 2 items here. During the qualifier match, I found out that the rear sight on my Para is about as sharp as a katana, and as such am missing a good sized chunk of skin off my index finger on my weak hand. I am extremely glad I remembered to pack my Blackhawk gloves, because otherwise shooting the rest of the qualifier (when I cut myself, I still had 70+ rounds to go on the 90 round match) would have been quite literally, a bloody mess. The 2nd item in “The Bad” is that all the magazine related jams caused me to drop from a top 5 finish to another middle of the pack finish.* Very frustrating, especially when you’re having a good day from a shooting standpoint.
The Good: Finally, the good parts of the day. First off, I had the 3rd least number of target points down on the entire match, which is in part due to the fact that the Para is very controllable in recoil and rapid fire shooting. So when the mags don’t jam up the gun, I’m decently fast and accurate. Now, the very good news for me didn’t come until the classifier match, after the main match. For whatever reason, the mags didn’t jam the gun. This was because I usually had enough time during strings to reload the 10 round magazine with bullets from my pocket, and that the other magazines, when downloaded, didn’t seem to foul up the gun. Go figure.
The Classifier Match: After my middle of the pack performance in the main match, I didn’t have high hopes for the classifier. A day of gun jams and other issues have a way of getting to you. Then, a weird thing happened. For no apparent reason, on the entire 90 round course of fire on the qualifier match, I had 0 failures. Each magazine fed flawlessly. I tied for the least number of target points down, and won the qualifier match. I qualified as Sharpshooter in Enhanced Service Pistol division, squarely in the middle of that bracket. The IDPA brackets from lowest to highest are Novice, Marksman, Sharpshooter, Expert, and Master.
It was actually a great ending to the day, because I had been losing confidence in my gun and was generally disheartened about the day, but qualifying as Sharpshooter and winning the qual match really improved the way I felt about the day. Now my goal is to find some magazines that run the gun 100% of the time, and I will be really happy.
Ultimately, it turned into a good weekend at the range for me, I learned a lot about my gun, I learned that Todd Jarrett was right about everything (when I gripped the gun 20% harder my shots were faster and more accurate), and more importantly I learned that I actually have a shot at winning the state match.
*Time lost calculated by assuming that I would have gotten the average time on stages where the mags tied up the gun.