29 minutes ago
Saturday, October 24, 2009
I really don't get out to go shooting as often as I like, or as often as I should. With two kids and a mortgage, all on a public servant's salary, it just often not in the budget. Thankfully, there's one shooting event that I always budget for. Each year, we have a locally organized Thin Blue Line tournament that not only gives us all a chance to go shoot, but raises money for various charities. You can read about the tournament and organizers, supporters, etc. here.
It's always a great time, all sorts of wild scenarios designed for us to go through. There have been scenarios that involved airplanes on the ground, a hostage situation on a school bus, and one year, being inside an ambulance when the victims rivals showed up to make sure the job was done. Great stuff all around, no matter how you look at it. This year was no exception.
I meet up with my partner at about 0530 yesterday morning, and we head to the office, where we meet the third member of our shooting team, and then head off to pick up the fourth and last member of our team. We arrive at the range at probably 0730 or so, and go through the registration process, and start wishing we'd brought more coffee.
At about 0820 or so, we hear the call to gather round, and we all amble over towards the command center to listen to the man in charge, and find out what stage we're starting off on. The range we're at is, in and of itself, awesome. They've basically taken a giant hill, and cut giant 'bays' into it's perimeter. This means that as long as you don't get crazy and shoot at the sky, and don't violate the 180 degree rule, you can shoot with impunity, and not worry about a stray shot getting anywhere near anyone else. I think the smallest division between bays is a wall of dirt and red clay 20 feet wide, and a minimum 10 feet tall at the outer point, going to over 40 feet high at the rear of the bay where it cuts into the hill. It's a perfect setup for multiple teams to all be shooting at once.
All of the Range Officers were volunteers. A great bunch of folks who, if I understand correctly, are all IDPA people, that use the range for their shoots one a month or so. They were great to work with, though they do have a rule or three that seemed a little odd, and took some getting used to. For example, at the end of a stage, or string, or whatever you like to call it, I'm used to holding my pistol up in my right hand, magazine removed, and slide locked back. That way, the RO can verify that the weapon is clear. A tap on the shoulder signifies that the RO has checked your weapon, and you can release the slide and holster up. The IDPA RO's had us demonstrate an empty chamber, then put the slide forward, and pull the trigger/drop the hammer/whatever your gun needs to not be cocked before we holstered up. To be honest, I can't really see the point of the extra stuff. If you've already verified that the chamber and mag well are empty, why have the slide forward and firing pin released? It wasn't even really an inconvenience, and only added a second or two to coming off of the stage, just seemed kind of odd to me, probably because it was my first experience with it.
We get off to our first stage and get the first shots off at about 0900. Our first stage was pretty straight forward, a few stationary targets, some behind civilian/no-shoot targets, a few moving targets who bounced out from behind cover and back again, and had to keep moving and utilizing cover as it became available with targets neutralized. About 5 minutes or so into our first stage, it started to drizzle rain. Usually, when you're doing things outside, and it starts raining, people start complaining. Not so at this event. As long as there's not lightning, we keep going, and everyone is in high spirits. I must admit to doing halfway decent on those first couple of stages. :)
Between stages, I dash back to the cruiser, and grab my rain gear, and it promptly stops raining :-/ I dutifully carried my rain gear from one stage to the next, even to the lunch break and back, and it dutifully got drier, and hotter throughout the day. Around the last two stages or so, it actually started to cool off, just a bit, and when we finished out last stage, at about 1400 or so, I stashed my rain gear in the cruiser, and then went to join the rest of the guys who were done to swap tales and catch up with the folks you don't see as often as you should.
It promptly started to rain.....
It wasn't bad, and didn't last too long, but it left me wondering if the mere fact that I was carrying rain gear during the day didn't hold off the rain. In any event, fun was had by all. Thankfully, there were door prizes and raffles to try and win, because there's no way I was winning for shooting. The majority of these guys that compete are all SWAT team guys, who get more trigger time in a month than I get in a year, and that includes hunting seasons too. Luckily for me, I got a door prize, and came out with a sweet knife. Donated by BlackHawk, along with a number of other prizes. One of the guys I know won a sweet, special TBL edition, 1911 style .45 from Para-Ordnance, another sponsor of the shoot.
All in all, it was a great day, with great people, and we got to shoot until we were startign wear blisters on trigger fingers!(or so the rumor-mill says :P) I swear, I need a job where I just get to play and shoot guns all the time....I'd never come home :p
Hope all you folks out there are having a great weekend, I'm off to nurse an ache or two that reminds me I'm not a twenty-something anymore :p