Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Camp Perry Pop-ups

Shooting at Camp Perry is always a gas.

I have almost a religious ritual I follow.   No, it doesn’t invoke a deity nor is it an attempt to assuage the shooting spirits, it’s just what I like to do.  It starts with a visit to Woodville Surplus.

Just look for the sign at the edge of the parking lot.

They have real military surplus and new stuff as well.  I got a nice warm, hooded Carhartt coat there about a year and a half ago.  I’ve picked up shooting bags, rope, pouches and even MRE cookies over the years.  I really enjoy poking around the store and they have a nice selection of tactical shooting gear.

Next to it is the Big Apple Deli

It’s an old fashioned deli and you can design a custom sandwich or go with one of their sandwiches.  I was there on Good Friday, so for me that meant no meat.  I don’t really care for tuna salad, but theirs was very good with only a hint of fishiness.  If you go to Woodville Surplus, make sure you stop for a sandwich at the Big Apple Deli.

We checked into the motel and the next stop was McCarthy’s.

It’s an American-Irish pub.  The perch, fresh from Lake Erie is, well it’s beyond my poor abilities to describe it.  It is the best fish I have ever had.  I usually get a Guinness on tap to go with whatever meal I’m having.  When I was 22 I started drinking Guinness Stout.  It took a while to learn to appreciate it, but I’m so glad I did.

The match?  Did I do any shooting, or did I just eat my way to Perry?

Oh, yeah, I did some shooting.  Just remember, I’m seeing this match through the lens of self-defense and not sport shooting. In my humble opinion, sport shooting should be the handmaiden of self–defense.

The course of fire. 

All the little pop-up men were between 7 and 31 meters.   
A little blue guy waiting for his turn to pop up
There were lots of doubles, in which two stand up and you need to knock them down.  I don’t believe they gave you any more time for two, but if you were ready, you had plenty of time to shoot both and double tap one if it was still standing.  The plastic targets are half size and this year were red or blue to distinguish between yours and your neighbors' targets.  I almost shot my neighbor’s when one in the lane next to me unexpectedly popped up.  Good thing for the colors.


Each lane of fire has its own group of 7 color coded targets.   You stand behind the bench, place your reloads and guns on the surface and wait for go.  Get a jam, like tides and time, the pop-ups wait for no man.

I tried to manage my ammo, but shooting four different gun meant four different sized magazines with different amounts of ammo.  Several times I waited too long to do a tactical reload and found I was at slide-lock with the sole survivor of a double grinning back at me. 

It doesn’t sound like it, but shooting 40 targets four times wears you out.  I suspect it’s the mental effort to stay focused.   This year I organized my four relays so I would shoot relays 3 and 5 followed by relays 8 and 10.  I think that reduced the fatigue and gave me more chances to watch the other shooters.

As I said before, I shot four different guns and on the whole I was very happy with the results.  I learned a lot.  For example, I knew my Glocks didn’t like loading a full magazine on a closed slide but I found out my Berretta .380 ACP doesn’t like it either.

I learned I needed to shoot my carry gun, a Kahr P-9 more.  I learned I might need a slightly larger frame gun for my carry gun. 
Another range, but same Kahr P-9 with "Glock" sock
I missed some targets because I was reloading the Kahr P-9.  It’s going to happen to most single stack magazine shooters.  The course of fire paused for a few seconds to reload after each 6 round string.  I think that’s horrible.  You should be required to manage your ammo more carefully.  But I don’t recommend you count your rounds.  My friend tried, but after his second reload he had no idea what was left in the gun, especially if you need to shoot more than once to pick-up a target. 

Most shooters were convinced the ones we missed were examples of the round passing through previously made holes so the impact didn’t trigger the sensor.  I’m included with that group, but the reality is we missed.

I also learned that most of the shooters have bad habits, mostly due to poor training and shooting bullseye.

What!  Bullseye unsafe?  But everyone loads at the same time, you shoot the gun dry, you never move and you have a range officer walking the line.  How can that be unsafe?

It’s not, but the habits bullseye shooters develop are unsafe and these habits do not trigger a response from the range safety officer.

I can’t tell you the number of times I saw a shooter turn the gun sideways and point it at the shooter on the left to get the leverage needed to lock the slide back.  I saw reloads done the same way, muzzle pointed at the shooter on the left, filled magazine inserted and the slide let go.  I am amazed we don’t see the dead piled up like cord wood at the big bullseye matches.

Lake Erie is part of Camp Perry’s impact zone, but I would never point my muzzle over the berm.  The only place to point your muzzle is at the person or target you have shot or intend to shoot.  Don’t give me that BS about it’s safe at Perry and you’ll do it differently in a gunfight.  Under stress we revert to the lowest denominator of our training.  You can better explain an AD that hit a target you were shooting at, as compared to the AD that killed a person in the second floor of a building.

And I saw way too much finger on trigger during the contest between targets.  At least you can explain that by saying you intended to shoot whatever popped up.

But did you have fun? 

That’s not to say I didn’t have fun despite these issues.  I did!

On the first relay we had a shooter with the bench filled with single action revolvers. He’d pick up one, shoot it dry and pick up another.  The powder left so much smoke in the air, I wasn’t sure if he could see the targets. 
Old school single action.  Well, it worked for Roy Rogers!









The set up took a little time, so the single action shooter needed to be one of the 1st shooters so he wouldn't bog down the relays.



 One of my friends was going to try that with several .45 ACPs, but got a little behind the curve because the tower didn’t give him enough time to get a magazine in every gun.

We all had a few little bumps and OOPS!.   These unexpected bounces throw us off our game.  I like that.  It’s an old military axiom that no plan survives initial contact with the enemy.  So it’s much better to learn about dealing with these at the range than in a real firefight.

There were a lot of different stances.  Some Weavers, some Chapman, but Isosceles was the most popular.  In any case I didn’t see too many people standing aggressively behind the gun.  In fact I saw several people who looked scared of the gun they were holding. 
Almost all the shooters are standing straight.  I like an aggressive stance.  The last guy must be afraid of his gun.
The guns?
I told you about the single action pistols.  Reloading a single action is slow, so he had to have quite a few guns to engage 40 targets.  What’s the course of fire in terms of 15 round magazines?  Less than 3.  Is it any wonder the police carry high capacity semi-autos?

The ubiquitous .45 ACP and its clones were challenged by Glocks.  Ugly plastic guns? Yes!  Soulless?  Not if they help me keep body and soul together.

Here’s some pictures from the Perry Pistol Pop-up, Easter 2012.

Duck hunting.  Finger off trigger - good!   Muzzle over berm - Bad.!


I like this position.  Finger off trigger and muzzle pointed at the targets, waiting for the next pop-up.










Some shooters spent their time visualizing the course of fire, or perhaps wondering about what was at the CMP store.













Can you spot the important differences?   No, not the red pop-ups.  No, both guns are recoiling---See the empty cases in mid-air?   No, the difference is two different Browning High Power pistols.  That's why she's my Browning High Power girl!

 Think about joining us Labor Day weekend for ORPA’s rifle and pistol pop-up match.

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