The FNH 3-Gun Championships are over. I placed 101st out of 174 in my division (Tac Optics), and while it’s nowhere near where I wanted I still picked up a gun off the prize table at the end of the day. I wanted to take a couple of minutes to talk about what went wrong, what went right, and ways I need to improve.
Stage 1 went fine, in general. The FN-303 Less Lethal Launcher was a neat addition to the stage, and I picked up a couple seconds taking down almost all the bonus targets. I hit them all, but one failed to fall. I could have taken those rifle shots at a quicker cadence, but that falls into the “move your ass” category of things I need to work on in general. One thing I can actually fixÂ physicallyÂ is my shotgun – the gun was staged loaded with an empty chamber and I ghost loaded a round in order to hit all of the clays without reloading. When I went to load it jammed in the front of the lifter when I racked the action. The solution is to take my 7+1 Mossberg 930 SPX and swap out the barrel and magazine tube to bring it to the 8+1 standard for division capacity, or even 9+1 to give me some room. I had to rack the action because the shotgun was staged on an empty chamber, the way all “staged” guns were set.
Stage 2 illustrates that my pistol work still sucks. The small poppers took far too long to take down, spending 18 rounds to hit 10 targets. For the rifle, I thought I hit that last target but it turns out I hit slightly above the target. Unfortunately I had already dropped the magazine in preparation of moving on to the next box, but I still had a round in the chamber so I took a little extra time to line up the shot before firing and moving on. For the shotgun portion I completely forgot to look at the setup of the steel plates before the stage so I didn’t realize those steel poppers were lined up behind each other. That added a couple seconds, and then the final plate failed to fall after two strong hits so rather than standing there and pumping round after round into it I decided taking the miss was faster. Another instance where having an adjustable choke might have helped. Or, alternatively, some high brass ammunition.
Stage 3 started off so well. I only had a couple misses with the shotgun (but hit the slug targets in one shot each) and cleaned up the pistol plates quickly so by the time I got to the rifle stuff I had plenty of time left which I then squandered by trying to fire from the kneeling position instead of bracing the gun against a stump like a smart person. There were trees between me and the targets blocking my shots from almost every position except the one I planted myself to kneel, but it turns out that with my heavy breathing afterÂ runningÂ down the hill that position was unusable. Just before I timed out (at 200 seconds) I threw two rounds at the last two targets just to make sure I didn’t get a “failure to engage” penalty in addition to the “failure to neutralize” penalty that was justly coming my way. This was the first time I had used a sling in competition shooting since Tiger Valley oh those many years ago and I hadn’t practiced since then, but what I learned from that competition helped me figure out the best way to sling the gun.
This stage I am genuinely embarrassed about; I even considered not posting it. I had never fired a PS-90 before, and for those who are unfamiliar the safety is located on a rocker just below the trigger. To disengage it you need to move your trigger finger in a motion identical to pulling the trigger. There were 10 rounds in the gun, and I only fired 9 at the bonus targets. I planned to flip the safety back on and continue downrange, figuring taking one more shot wasn’t worth the extra second. As I went to engage the safety my finger slipped and pulled the trigger, lighting off the last round without aiming at anything and without the gun shouldered. I had an accidental discharge. What made it even worse was my shotgun was staged downrange in the line of fire, but only by sheer luck did I miss hitting it. As I stepped away from the table and continued the stage I fully expected to be disqualified for unsafe gun handling, but just in case I continued on. The RO took pity on me and decided to let it slide, understanding that I didn’t mean to do it. I didn’t argue, but in my mind I should have been DQ’ed.
This stage went almost perfectly, which is fitting as it was the last one I shot (although the stages are presented here in numerical order). I fired all 10 rounds with the SCAR-L (remembering the PS-90 incident and not wanting a repeat) and then hit every shotgun target on the first shot. Some people tried to game the stage and hit two targets withÂ oneÂ shot (some targets were almost touching) but IÂ thoughtÂ that I could be faster firing two hurried shots instead of one well aimed shot. I was right, and every target fell. One of the guys who got cute and tried the doubles wasn’t as lucky, as he turned a target 90 degrees and forced him to take a miss on it. After the shotgun targets the stage required a magazine with “no more than 28 rounds” to engage 14 targets but I decided to only load 4 rounds, take 2 targets with the rifle, then continue with the pistol. The ports were quite small and I was afraid that if I didn’t get close to the port that I would miss some targets. As I fired the last shot at the right hand popper I knew that I was firing my last round of the competition so I slowed down a tad and enjoyed it, hitting smack dab in the center with the first round.
Stage 6 was interesting. This was the only stage you were allowed to start with all 3 guns “hot” with a round in the chamber – the other stages were “magazine inserted, bolt closed on an empty chamber” which meant racking the action to load the gun. I started with the shotgun going one-for-one with the targets, then transitioned to the pistol to take out the rest of the steel. As I started to run the poppers I noticed that I was being more accurate than usual and started to speed up, which worked for most of the run. Near the end of the poppers I started missing again so I slowed down to get my hits. The paper I shot using the rifle, which went fine except for the reload. I had to slow down and wait a second before ramming the magazine home because my adrenaline was making me shake too hard to accurately insert it. I shot the stage clean and in a respectable time, but it’s another illustration that my pistol work needs work.
The last three stages all involved some kind of long distance shooting, which was very cool. But this one was a pain in the ass at the beginning. I had planned to hit the four slug targets then run the shotgun dry, do one reload from the sidesaddle while moving, and take the rest of the close targets with the pistol. One of the slug targets refused to go down and loading in another slug ruined my count and threw off my game. From that point I did the one reload (standing, not moving, big mistake) and then winged it. The distance targets were slightly problematic for me due to the shooting position, but I still nailed most of them.
This stage I was very happy with for the most part. I moved quick with the shotgun, dumped it after running it dry, then switched immediately to the pistol to take out the rest of the steel targets. I had an issue with the pistol where the magazine didn’t drop free when i went to ground it so I ran back to the dump bucket to fix that issue before getting too far ahead. Then, when I grabbed my charging handle the bolt didn’t quite snap back into place like I wanted. What happened was the round was just too tight in the magazine, but my brain went “DOUBLE FEED MALFUNCTION!” and started clearing the gun. After that I hit all the steel from one of the most beautiful shooting positions I have ever seen.
The last stage numerically but the first stage I ran. You start behind a Barrett MRAD with the sights on target for a 500+ yard shot at a steel IPSCÂ silhouette. When the buzzer goes off you break the shot, and then skedaddle. You only get one shot so waiting for confirmation of a hit is not only a waste of time but illogical. Next up is skinny steel targets at unknown distances out to 300 yards, which the RO missed calling hits for a couple targets. After the stage was over a couple fellow competitors and I had a talk with the RO who gave me the hits he missed back. I did completely miss one shotgun target, and while I should have taken a follow-up shot I forgot that the scoring was time plus instead of comstock and let it stand.
The competition was fantastic. This was the first time I’ve had to make challenging long distance shots and it was an absolute blast – something more competitions need to include. I really hope they bring this competition back next year, and hopefully the range will have a couple between now and then. What it made me realize is that in order to place better I need to work on shotgun reloads, pistol shooting and gaming the stages. All things I can practice in the off season, and hopefully next year I’ll break 100.
The Topton 3-Man 3-Gun was this past weekend. I competed with the Awful Shooting Squad’s ASS/PA team as usual, and as usual we got our asses handed to us by the other teams. We still had a blast, though. I snapped some pictures of the other competitors and thought that someone out there might enjoy them.
This past weekend a few friends and I decided to conduct a 500 round stress test to compare the Mossberg 930 SPX ($600ish) I just bought with the FNH SLP Mk. I ($1,000ish) that my friend just bought. The results were very interesting.
The full report is here on Google Docs: Stress testing Semi-Automatic Competition Shotguns
The authors of this paper conducted a 500 round stress test to determine if either of two semi-automatic shotguns, an FNH SLP Mk. I or a Mossberg 930 SPX, would experience mechanical difficulties in order to determine if one was better suited for 3-gun competitions. Testing was conducted using one lightly used shotgun (<200 rounds) of each model which then fired 500 rounds in under 4 hours using two different ammunition types commonly found in stores and rotating through 6 shooters to ensure operator error was controlled for. Data was collected during the testing which was later analyzed, showing that the FNH SLP Mk. I malfunctioned an average of 5 times for every 25 rounds while the Mossberg 930 SPXâ€™s malfunctions were not statistically significant. Based on this and other data this report concludes that the Mossberg 930 SPX is a superior semi-automatic shotgun for 3-gun competitions.
Apparently, every year there’s a memorial day high-power and CMP match on the west coast. Not wanting to be outdone, MCB Quantico hosted this year the first Armed Forces memorial match. There were about 80 shooters (60 NRA, 20 CMP), and I decided to join in on the fun.
The day started with the Marine Corps lighting off a couple fireworks.
We were all very happy to find out they weren’t competing.
After that, we moseyed down to the 200 yard line to set up for the 200 yard shots, which were 2 sighters + 20 record shots offhand slow fire, then 2 sighters + 20 record shots sitting in 60 seconds rapid fire (with a forced mag change). I didn’t do as well as I thought I would. But notice that in the following pictures I have like a gun, a spotting scope, and some ammo, and everyone else has shooting jackets and fancy equipment. So there might be some consolation in that.
The view from 300 yards (the bipod was removed during shooting):
Some of you may be wondering how exactly the targets are moved around. Well I’ll let you in on a little secret: there are PEOPLE working in the pit! Yes, these pit pullers sit there all day long (for $30/shooter) and pull and score your targets.
Here’s a slow fire target. The white circle is on a spindle placed in the last shot fired so the spotter can see it, and the orange dot indicates the score. The score positions are (clockwise from 9 o’ clock) 5, 6, miss, 7, 8, 9, 10, X.
Here’s a target from one of the rapid fire stages. Instead of scoring each shot, orange golf tees are placed in the holes and the scores are tallied on a chalkboard for the spotter.
Here’s the firing line at the 600 yard shot. The sky cleared up quite a bit and I even got a pretty nasty sunburn out of the experience. I’m in lane 11, 5 shooters from the left:
The guy in the red behind me is an Army officer spotting and scoring me. He shot after me, and we swapped (me spotting and scoring him) when he shot. Cool guy. I broke his ECI though.
600 yards is FAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAR!
I lost the first 3 heats’ scores, but here’s my 2 strings from 600 yards:
2+20 @ 600
Sighters :Â 9 10
Record-S1:Â 5 10Â XÂ 7Â 6Â 8Â 7Â 8 10Â 7 = 78 1x
Record-S2: 10Â 9Â 7Â 7Â 7Â 8 10Â 6Â 8Â 7 = 79
= 157 1x
[EDIT]: After an email from the event staff, I now have all my scores:
- 200 yards standing slow fire: 165 1x
- 200 yards seated rapid fire: 170 3x
- 300 yards prone rapid fire: 184 1x
- 600 yards prone slow fire: 157 2x
Total score: 676/800
And with my refund check, I think I’m gunna buy an NRA service rifle. So I can stop feeling like I’m cheating in tactical class.