What a weekend – I got up at 4am on a perfectly good Sunday to drive to Warsaw for the match, and I have to say that I was not disappointed. First off, a great big thank you to the guys at Warsaw Rifle and Pistol Club and Jake Martens from the Indiana USPSA Section for putting on a quality match. The stages were fun, the weather was nice, and I think most people had a pretty good time. Also, I got to meet one of the regular listeners of Gun Nuts Radio who was assisting as a safety officer on Stage 3! It’s always great to meet fans of the show, so thanks for listening!
On to the match itself, I honestly had no idea what to expect here. Prior to Sunday, I had shot exactly 2 club level USPSA matches, one with my Para LTC 9mm and another with my Springfield XDM. All my major match experience has been in Bianchi Cup, Steel Challenge, and (of course) IDPA. I started shooting revolvers full time last year, and shot the state Steel Challenge match and the state IDPA match with a revolver – so this was my 3rd major since converting to wheelguns and my first USPSA major with a wheelgun. My stated goal was to have fun and to not finish last, and I accomplished both of those goals. I also learned a lot about how IDPA is different from USPSA, and where that can help and hurt.
Probably the biggest difference is the number of rounds fired – on the longest IDPA stage that can be designed, I’ll reload a MAXIMUM of 3 times, and that’s assuming I take 6 extra shots. Because IDPA limits the number of rounds to 18 while running my wheelgun even in a major match I will rarely have to reload more than twice on one stage. Flip that over to USPSA, and in yesterday’s match there were multiple 30+ round stages, which means a minimum of 4 reloads if I shoot clean; and one stage I had six reloads (not a good stage for me). The other major, and I do mean HUGE difference is how the reloads go down. In IDPA, most of the reloads are “static” or standing reloads. Basically, the course description will say “shoot 3 targets and reload in box A before advancing to box B and shooting 3 more targets” or something along those lines. USPSA says “shoot ’em”. With Production/Single Stack shooters, there is a huge amount of brain sweat devoted to eliminating standing reloads; with a revolver in USPSA it’s going to happen but should be minimized if possible…if you can reload on the run. That was actually a huge problem for me – because I’ve been shooting primarily IDPA, I can honestly say that I mostly practice static reloads, and have gotten pretty good at them. In fact, in Sunday’s match when I tried to reload and move, I was slower than doing a static reload and then running flatout to my next position.
The logic on that is actually simple for me – my skill level with reloading and running isn’t good enough to be able to run full speed and get the moonclip into the gun; so when I’m trying to move and load at the same time, I slow all my movements down. My run turns into a walk, and my hands don’t move as fluidly on the gun, so my net time is slower than when I just stick the load and then haul ass. That being said, I need to practice my reloads until I can stick a reload while running flat out – that’s the difference between an “A” class shooter and a Master Class shooter.
As far as my match performance goes, I finished 4th in Revolver, so I’m not too disappointed especially since I zeroed one stage (which I’d love to get back). I’d love to go back and reshoot Stage 6 and Stage 1 (Stage 1 being the total stage meltdown), but overall I’m happy with my performance for my first USPSA Major Match shooting a revolver. Ultimately, I learned the following areas of improvement for upcoming majors:
- Reloads: I need to practice reloading on the move until I can be in a dead run and successfully reload the gun
- Strong hand trigger work: I had 3 mikes on Stage 1, which was strong hand only. I straight up destroyed the trigger pull on those because I was trying to go too fast.
- Gun stuff: I want a 610 with a 6 inch barrel so bad it hurts for USPSA shooting. As much as I love my 625, I want something with more sight radius and less recoil in major loads, and the 610 offers that.
Again, I had a great time at my first USPSA major match, and I have to give huge props to Jake and the crew at Warsaw for putting on a fantastic match!