On To Nationals: Lessons Learned

by Editor 16. September 2012 17:04
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If this will be your first time to the The Range in Oxford, N.C., then you might want to take note of some lessons learned. DOWN ZERO asked guest blogger Lee Bautista of When The Balloon Goes Up! to share some of his thoughts and observations. Pay close attention...especially to the part about walkthroughs.

Being in Oxford, N.C. for the 2012 IDPA National Championship will bring back some fond memories since the last time we were here for June's Carolina Cup. Going back, what are some lessons learned from shooting a major match, especially at this location?

Do Listen to the Walkthroughs:
On the stage in the shoot house, Ron was repeatedly getting called for cover for a target he was exposed to that he didn't even know was there; costing him thirteen seconds and a match bump. You can read more about his thoughts on his post, "My 1st Experience at a Major Match". Pro Tip: If allowed, take a look at the stage from deeper in the bay and take note of all the targets as you face up range.

Do Chronograph Your Ammo Beforehand:
It is highly likely that there will be an equipment check and chronograph. A member on our squad didn't make floor by 30fps. No, he wasn't cheating; rather an honest mistake on his part, however, rules are rules and this shooter learned a valuable lesson to chrono his ammo for future matches.

Do Be Aware of Personal Walkthroughs:
We are not allowed to sit on the chair or use props to check angles of the CoF during the walkthrough. In addition, we're not allowed to use low cover or go prone on stages that have shooting positions like this. Kneeling over to check angles is also bad. SO's will let you know quickly if they catch you doing this and may even issue a twenty second penalty for the infraction.

Do Recognize Muzzle Safe Points and Adapt:
Just to put it out there, "tight" muzzle safe points are not DQ traps. It's part of the course of fire that we all have to adhere to. What to do? Practice your reloads to ensure that your muzzle is pointed downrange by either orienting your body so that the muzzle is downrange away from the muzzle safe point or torquing your wrist a bit to accomplish the same result. Again, practice this in dry fire so that it will be second nature when you get to the match.

Do Be Aware of the Backstop When Re-Engaging Targets:
There can be issues when a shooter transitions from one position to another position (in this case, prone or kneeling). Re-engaging a previous taller target from the new low cover or prone position can send a round over the berm. Ask, if you’re unsure about what targets can be re-engaged.

Do Have a Great Match:
The folks at The Range are top notch range staff and volunteers who excel greatly at running challenging stage designs with safety in mind. If you haven't had the chance to shoot at The Range, you're in for a treat.

Do Smile for the Camera:
There will be plenty of photographers capturing moments for various media outlets and sponsors. Be yourself and have fun!

About the Author: Lee Bautista has been shooting since April 2009 and is a writer at When The Balloon Goes Up! Blog. The 2012 IDPA Nationals will be his eighteenth major match.

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Countdown To The Cup: Lee Bautista Is Shooter Ready

by Editor 7. June 2012 18:46
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There's no denying the importance the Carolina Cup holds  as one of IDPA's three major matches. Known by those that have shot the match as one of, if not the most challenging of IDPA's championships, preparing for The Cup can take on a life its own for some shooters. DOWN ZERO talked to Lee Bautista about his preparations. And yes, he's the same Lee Bautista that helped us put together the list of local eateries and other business to make your trip to Oxford, N.C. a little easier. Take a look at his picture so you know who to thank when you cross paths with Lee later next week.

DZ: When did you start shooting competitively?
LB: I shot my first IDPA Classifier in June 2009. So, looking back, I got the bug around April that year. The first time I shot a handgun was in February '09 with our neighborhood gun club at an indoor range.

DZ: When did you join and start shooting IDPA?
LB: I shot my first match in April 2009 at the Mecklenburg Wildlife Club in Charlotte, NC. It looks like I joined IDPA very soon after in May and then classified in June.

DZ: How many times have you shot the Carolina Cup?
LB: Once, the 2011 Carolina Cup which I shot in a single day.

DZ: What division did you shoot in and where did you finish?
LB: I shot in the Stock Service Pistol (SSP) division finishing 9th of 33 Experts.

DZ: What division are you shooting this year?
LB: This year I'll be shooting Enhanced Service Pistol (ESP) where I am classified as a Sharpshooter.

DZ: Why the change from SSP to ESP?
LB: I really wanted to start advancing equally in both SSP and ESP Divisions using the same pistol setup; so now that I have a classification for Expert in SSP, I've been working towards a match bump to ESP/EX. Then, for the next three or four years, shoot for a bump to SSP/MA and ESP/MA, if that's even achievable for me. I'll definitely be trying.

DZ: What part of your shooting are you focusing on the most leading up to The Cup?
LB: Mental toughness and specifically working on keeping my head in the game when distracted or when things don't go my way. It's a long day so, this means shooting as many major matches that I can leading up to the Cup to get acclimated. Basic skills like shooting on the move, timing of the gun and reloading from different positions during practice sessions have also been a focus.

DZ: Are there any specific drills you are incorporating into your practice sessions?
LB: Lately, I'm going back to basics and working on group shooting at 25 yards to work on trigger control, doing Matt Burkett Timing Drills to really learn the timing of the gun at speed and then doing Brian Enos' transition drills. In looking back at past major matches, these are some things I need to focus on during live fire practice sessions. It's tough because the gains are small and I'm not at all patient with this process! For dry fire sessions, I've been doing par times for tac reloads and sight acquisition drills from different positions or from the draw (based off of Steve Anderson's book) and movement from position to position. Getting out of cars safely and quickly too. Since live fire practice is only once or twice a month, I am reliant upon dry fire to maintain a current skill set while still getting some practice in.

DZ: What gear will you shoot in The Cup?
LB: I'll be shooting a Glock 34 (with a GlockTriggers.com kit) from a Comp-Tac Holster/Mag Pouches. My ammo is handloaded, and my vest is an old Eotac vest.

DZ: Any particular brand of shooting glasses and hearing protection? Range bag? Etc?
LB: I'm using the persimmon colored lenses for the Oakley Flak Jacket frame since they work well in low light as well as during sunny days. They also work well for driving, so they serve a dual purpose. For hearing protection, I've been switching back and forth between Howard Leight Impact Sport electronic muffs and EarPro Sonic Defenders depending upon comfort. Sometimes earplugs are all I need and the EarPros are cheap to replace since I seem to lose them frequently. My range bag is that big black MidwayUSA Special that you see everywhere you go. Sometimes I just carry around the smaller insert that it comes with. I also haul around a CamelBak for most of the year since I typically drink a liter or more of water per match as it's easier to carry water that way than in the heavy bag.

DZ: Any formal sponsors?
LB: No formal sponsors.

DZ: What do you like most about shooting The Cup?
LB: The Carolina Cup is one of the most sought after major matches in IDPA. The number one thing I like is the camaraderie. When I look over to the bay on either side, I see so many folks that I know from the region and even shooters from other states or countries. It's nice to wave hello as we're all truly pulling for each other to do well. And who can resist giving Toni Honey Bunny a big hug? Frank and his staff are pros at running so many shooters through, so the pace of the match is very good. That would be a close second.

DZ: What is the hardest part about shooting The Cup?
LB: To me, the Cup is like the Daytona 500 of shooting sports. Participating proves that you've dedicated a considerable amount of time to compete. So, the hardest part about shooting the Cup is the (self-imposed) pressure to do well and meet a goal.

DZ: Any guess as to where you will finish this year?
LB: My goal is to finish in the top three in my division and classification and have a great time at the match.

DZ: If you could beat any shooter at this year's Carolina Cup who would it be?
LB: At the level that I'm competing in, there are a number of local and regional shooters where we have a healthy, friendly competitive nature between all of us. You know who you are!

DZ: Is there anything else you want to mention about your preparation for The Cup?
LB: For me, the biggest part of shooting major matches is doing all you can to manage stress and stay focused during game week. So, things like following a checklist, ensuring a good night's sleep, eating well, a positive attitude, and staying healthy have the greatest of gains. The shooting will fall into place.

DOWN ZERO wants to thank Lee for taking time away from his Carolina Cup preparation to speak with us. Next up, we talk to Team RangeLog's Ken Lambert about his plans for....The Cup.

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