Well the first match of 2016 is in the books. As is becoming our custom, Cazin and I went and found the very first major match we could find. I mean the ground is still frozen, we haven’t practiced much, haven’t fired a Benelli in anger in almost 4 months, and 3-Gun Nation matches draw some of the best talent in the country…what could possibly go wrong? Never the less we checked in our guns in with TSA and hopped on a southbound plane for Florida. Our destination was the Universal Shooting Academy which hosted the first 3-Gun Nation Regional of the 2016 season for fun, prizes, and a chance to earn a spot at Nationals.
The Universal Shooting Academy is primarily a pistol range and has hosted many USPSA and IDPA championships. For a 3-gun match, that means up close, fast and furious. Every stage involved at least one of the beloved “around the berm” dashes into another bay. 3-Gun Nation matches are always technically laid out, and jam packed full of options. Rarely are targets required to be engaged with one certain gun, and with the short distances there were plenty of legitimate options. Some shooters even joked that they were going to try this new thing called- shoot all the targets with a pistol. It was far bolder to do than to say, but plenty a serious conversation revolved around to- or not-to go with pistol heavy plans.
3-Gun Nation draws a lot of talent from USPSA, so a lot of folks tend to lean heavy on their pistols at these matches because that is where their comfort zone is. Having been made a fool by the pistol many a time, I tend not to side with this crowd. While I shoot a lot of pistol, I tend to look at the long guns as a sure thing, and the pistol as a clean-up or transitional tool; unless the pistol really makes sense- I’m choosing something with a stock. Besides, I had a bunch of heavy shotgun ammo I didn’t want to fly home with- so no sense being stingy with the scatter blaster. There certainly are times where split times will favor on platform over another, but often times you will see folks at these matches going out of their way to use one gun or another because it’s their favorite or another is their weakness. Personally, I won’t go even one step out of my way to use one gun or the other. Forward progress to the last target is all that matters. For me that meant using the shotgun a lot even in places where many probably didn’t, but it seemed to all work out in the end.
My cold bore stage of the season didn’t go so hot, but after that I was able to build and maintain solid momentum. My goal for myself at major matches is always to shoot 90% of my perceived skill level, and this was a rare time where I actually feel I achieved that. There will always be errors; even top pros have them if you watch close. However, I was able to keep real blunders to a minimum this time, and the ones I did have I was able to work past without derailing the whole match. In all honesty my first match of the season was probably the best match I’ve ever shot, which has me extremely excited for the rest of 2016. Now to try and keep that momentum going…