Sunday, July 29, 2012

What to Expect at Your First Competitive Pistol Match – Part 2

The start of match registration

Many clubs have registration via their website as well as at the range for any walk-ons. At our local club it’s best to register early, so you’re not called by a number all day. Being a number isn’t such a terrible thing though. Sooner or later, sometime during the match, there will be comments, jokes, or stories about your being a number or an experience someone else had as a number. Today it was a shooter that was #41. He’s a regular shooter, but forgot to register in time. He wanted to change it to #40 because that was his age and he was hoping that would help him remember what his number was. Needless to say, we wouldn’t let him forget his number or his age today.

Squads are created during registration. The MD will try to balance the squads with at least two RO’s, experienced shooters and new shooters. So if you’re there with a bunch of buddies that are all new, don’t be surprised if you’re broken up. Also, remember which squad you’re in. Make a new friend. Who knows, thirty years from now, you may still be shooting buddies.

After registration, there will be a shooter’s briefing. This is when the Match Director will go over the course of fire, safety, and any other notes of interest. This is also when the MD will ask if there are any new shooters to the range or club. They typically have a separate briefing for new shooters to highlight range safety. You will be asked to let your Range Officer know you’re a new shooter. Informing the RO that you’re a new shooter will alert him that he needs to take a little extra time with you. A good RO will also watch more carefully while you shoot to keep you out of trouble regarding rules of the game and safety. At local matches, they are not beyond coaching you a little when you’re a newer shooter.

Our club usually has a stage briefing after this. (Today we didn’t because of the heat.) The MD will walk us all by each stage and explain the course of fire; how you are starting, whether loaded, or unloaded, at a certain position; stage scoring, whether Virginia count (only the specified number of rounds may be fired without a penalty) or Comstock (you can shoot as many rounds per target as you like without a penalty as long as you attempt the minimum).

The squad walking thru the stage

Once your squad forms up at your designated stage, there will normally be time for everyone to walk through the stage and see where all the targets are. Keeping in mind the capacity of your magazines, you’ll want to 
walk through and do an imaginary dry fire, figuring out the order in which you’ll engage the targets and when you’ll need to reload.

The shooting order will be called out, so listen close. Here is when it pays to remember that number you were given at registration. If you’re up next, stay near the starting point, and don’t help reset the stage. This keeps the match moving along with little delay. Once you’re done shooting, feel free to follow the RO and score keeper to see how you did.

Shooter's ready! Standby... (BEEP)

Now just be safe and have fun!

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