Day 1 Recap

Well, I didn’t do as well today as I could have.  I wasn’t shooting as fast as I can, but even then I was still hitting a occassional penalty target.  I have to remember to go faster when it is right, but then change my cadence and slow down for the tight shots.  Three of the four stages today were very short (worth fewer overall points), so that still provide some chance to improve my overall score over the next three days.

I woke up early this morning, after going to bed very early last night (I was tired from traveling).  After the usual morning routine and breakfast at Fudruckers (in the hotel), I headed out to the range.  The local shooting club that runs the range is having trouble with the anti-gun zealots.  Apparently, the local zealots have tried every tactic they can to shut down the range.  The latest efforts involve the air quality ordinances that the county has passed.  We all have to crawl around at  10 mph on the range to keep the dust down.  Although I don’t like reasons for the speed limit, it does really help to keep the mess to a minimum.  I can’t believe how dirty everything had gotten in just one day.  I think my camera needs a bath, and my iPhone was coughing and wheezing all day.

The first picture is the view of the mountains from the shooting range.  As you can see, things are nearly as green as Oregon.  The big jagged rocks are pretty, but there isn’t much life out here.  I also included a few pictures of people on my squad.  We have a couple of female and one junior competitor.  I even met a couple from Western Pennsylvania!!

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Second stage

This was my second stage (officially stage 15). Here is a picture of me shooting stage two. It was a short stage, but you had to shoot it really fast.

The second photo is “the long walk” to the next stage. It is 104 deg now, but feels cooler since there is a nice breeze. Gotta drink lots of water.

First stage

Well, my first stage went ok, but I hit a penalty target. Now that I’ve got rid of the first stage jitters, I should do better.

Another guy on the stage almost zero’d the stage because of popper calibration. Luckily he got a reshoot. I’ve attached a picture of the popper that didn’t fall. You can see the bullet marks.

Final Preparations & OSU

Today I am making final preparations and packing my gear and clothes for the trip.  I fly out of Portland tomorrow morning, nonstop to Vegas!  Special thanks to my beautiful wife for supporting this adventure, and for running the things solo while I’m gone.

I’ve packed most of the essential shooting gear in my checked luggage, along with my gun and clothes.  I thought I would check most of the odd looking stuff in the luggage, rather than playing 20 questions as they inspect my carry-on.  I know a lot of people fly to shooting matches all around the country, and for that matter, around the world.  However, for me this is an unusual occurrence.  I’m hoping for a trouble free trip, but wary of the unexpected.

I’ve been very undecided about taking the computer, since I’m trying to avoid unnecessary gear.  I had been thinking that I could post all my updates here and on Facebook using my iPhone.  However, considering I’ll have photos from my Casio camera to edit and post, and maybe even some videos, I think taking the computer is smart.  My carry-on bag is not very heavy yet, and I should manage OK with the laptop.

On a separate note, I was very surprised to find that the Oregon State University Beavers will be in Vegas to play football on Saturday.  Many of my coworkers are OSU graduates, and even more of them live near the University.  Imagine my surprise to find that some of my good friends from work would be in Vegas for the game!!  I’ve made tentative plans to meet them for dinner or a beer, and I hope they can come to watch me shoot at the match.

Friday will be a busy day.  I’m leaving early for the airport.  Upon arrival in Vegas, I need to get the rental car, meet friends for lunch, register for the match, check into the hotel, pick up my ammo at American Shooters, visit and survey the range, find a Walmart to buy miscellaneous supplies, and unpack/repack my gear for day 1.

If you are reading this, and will be in Vegas (for the match, or for the Beavers game), post a comment so I know to look for you.

UPS and Anderson

Yesterday I took a 20 lb box of ammo to the UPS service center.  Luckily, one of the big local gun shops in Las Vegas offered to receive shipments of ammo for the Nationals.  Thanks to Ray Witham and American Shooters!  To understand how important this is, you have to know that most airlines allow a limited amount of ammunition in your checked luggage, and it is almost impossible to carry enough for the match.  Although it is permissible to send packages directly to yourself at a hotel, they charge large fees, and I worry about the safety and reliability of delivery.

I finished loading my match ammo last week.   The final recipe was 7.6gr of 7625 with a 121gr Hornady HAP in 38-TJ brass and a Winchester Small Pistol Primer.  I decided to take 600 rounds.  That seems like a little to much, since last year the total round count was 377.  Of course, I need enough buffer for misses and possibly a few reshoots.  I hate running low on ammo, and plan to avoid that stress.

Last night I started working more seriously on dry fire drills.  A have Steve Anderson’s dry fire practice book, and started with the basic indexing drills.  If you’ve never seen his book, you can learn about it here: Anderson Shooting.  I practiced 15 and 30 ft draw and index, from both ‘surrender’ and ‘hands naturally at sides’, plus the 30 ft turn-and-draw (ala el-presedente).  I hope to find time to add additional drills as my personal life allows.

I’m a bachelor this weekend!  My wife and son are going to the coast with some friends.  They are excited, but I worry they will be too cold to enjoy it.  The Oregon coast is notoriously chilly.  I’ll be shooting at a local match on Saturday morning, and joining some friends for a friendly poker match in the evening.

Quick Match Update

I just wanted to post a quick match update for those of you tracking my progress. July 18th and 19th was the Columbia Cascade Sectional Championship. My gun ran great! The changes I made to my magazines and the TJ brass with HAP bullets made all the difference. Thanks Hornady!

I only placed 6th at the match, but feel I will do better as I push myself more. I used this match to ‘get back into things’ after coaching baseball all spring, and spending a couple weeks on vacation. My main goal was to get my gear running.

Last weekend, I attended the NW Regional Steel Shoot (see the link in the sidebar) in Portland Oregon.  Since I was still low on primers, I decided to only compete in 22 rimfire.  I shot pretty well, but since there were a lot more people shooting multiple guns, I had a lot of good competition.  I think I placed 6th or 7th, but can’t find the official results online yet.

Both matches were great fun!

This weekend: load ammo for Nationals, dryfire, and start packing!!

Been a long time and future plans

I know it has been a very long time since my last post.  We had a wonderful vacation in Orlando.  Planning, packing, traveling, and post-trip recovery stopped me from posting on the blog.  I’m finally starting to catch up with life, and should be adding more content regularly.

I really love being on vacation with my family.  We had eight great days at Disney World, visited all the parks and even spent a day at each of the water parks.  We had been to WDW before, but this was our first stay at a Disney resort, and our first visit to the water parks.  I won’t ramble on too much, but will say it was HOT!  Somehow I found the guts to climb to the top of Summit Plummet and ride the slide almost straight down.  I was clocked at 71 mph.  It was also really great to see my parents, and I enjoyed spending a few days with them.  We even had a wonderful father, son, grandson brunch on Father’s Day.

My latest shooting related update:

I did a little ammo development just before/after my trip.  I worked up good recipe for 115 grain Hornady XTP and 121 grain Hornady HAP.  I had to take IMR7625 up to almost 8 grains (slightly compressed) to make major with the 115 gr bullet.  I was only getting an average of 166pf.  The 121 gr bullet made a nice 170pf at 7.5 grains.  Since I’ll need a little headroom, and I’ve been using 121 gr bullets in the past with a good feel, I’ll be using them at the Nationals.  The big difference between the new load and my old standby is the brass.  I was using Armscor 38 Super RL (rimless) and Startline SuperComp.  I had a lot of nose-dive issues (will full mags), and wanted to try some TJ brass.  Hornady was generous enough to send me a few boxes to try.

I also had another other unrelated magazine problem.  The best magazines for the Gold Team are made without spacing ribs.  Mine are the older ribbed style magazines.  The ribs don’t extend the full length of the magazine, which is no big deal with a standard base pad.  However, with an extended base pad, the cartridges fill the magazine below the end of the rib, which is an abrupt change in the width.  Frequently, the cartridges would bind and jam under the end of the rib.  The end result was that I couldn’t load them full.  I experimented with adding some spacers to extend the rib lower in the tube, and found that a great way to extend the rib is epoxy putty.  I was able to mold and cut the putty to form a perfect extension to the rib.

This weekend is the Columbia Cascade Sectional Championships.  Today we shot 7 great stages, and there another 5 tomorrow.  I was able to try the new brass and magazine modifications on several stages, and had absolutely no problems.  All the previous nose-dive issues are gone!  Furthermore, I can successfully load 23 rounds into my 140mm magazines.  In fact, my gun ran flawlessly through almost 200 rounds this morning.  I’m extremely geeked!  Now all I have to do is get myself ready for the Nationals.

Future Plans:

Until I get a large supply of primers, I have to assume that I only have 2000 to for practice and match ammo.  That’s not much!  As a result, I’ve ordered Steve Anderson’s dry-fire book, and hope to start a daily dry-fire practice regime as soon as it arrives.

I also have to start a packing list for the Nationals.  I’m sure I’ll have trouble deciding how much stuff to take, and what items are important.  I have to admit, attending local or regional matches are much more simple.  It is easy to load the car with extra ammo, tool kit, cooler, range bag, and range cart.  Flying to Las Vegas and staying in a hotel limits the amount of gear and extra stuff I can bring.  This could get quite interesting.