Saturday I joined 3 corrections officers from my prison to make a 4 man team to participate in the 15th annual Beaver County Law Enforcement Invitational. There were many local agencies, civilians and Feds like the FBI and Marshal Service represented. It was a standard police pistol combat match. We shot the course three times, one for each event: single, two-man and four-man teams. Each course was 60 rounds on B-27 targets. For an IDPA and IPSC shooter it was a humbling experience. You only shoot 12 rounds at 7 yards and the rest of the course is shot at 25 and 50 yards. Most modern agency qualifications don’t go beyond 15 yards any more. To make it more difficult any hit outside the 7 ring counted as 0 points. Oh, you had left hand and right shooting from the barricades, prone sitting and kneeling strings too. It was tough.

I used my 4 inch S&W 686 and some generic Remington .38 special loads that ran around 755fps. I was holding on the shoulder line at 50 yards to try to drop rounds in the scoring zone. When you can’t see any hits you tend to focus on sight alignment and trigger control. I didn’t prepare properly and didn’t have a good barricade plan. I tried a couple of different holds and even single action fire, but found my double action pull was more consistent for me. (something Mas Ayoob has told me before) You shoot the course 3 times straight through and 180 double action trigger pulls in a half hour added a certain hand/finger fatigue factor into the mix. That may sound wimpy to some, but I use the Ayoob crush grip when I shoot and Mas will tell you that unless molten rubber or sap is oozing between your fingers, then you’re probably not squeezing hard enough.

So, when all was said and done my officers and I managed to bring a Bronze medal home in Marksman class of the 4-man team event. My teammates don’t shoot in competition as much as I do and performance anxiety effected them more than me. One told me he couldn’t sleep the night before and they had no prematch routine or rituals to help reduce stress. I’m sure on our home turf any of them could shoot the same course and score 100 points higher than they did this Saturday, but that’s one reason to shoot these matches, you always learn something. It was good to shoot at 50 yards where all your fundamentals have to be good to get those hits. If nothing else you learn your or your equipment’s limitations and like Dirty Harry said, “a man’s got to know his limitations!”