First 2700

I competed in my first “2700” this past Sunday at 7:30AM along with seven other shooters. This was an NRA Approved competition so my scores would contribute to my initial ranking by the NRA.

Each “gun” in the three gun competition took about two hours to shoot the nine (9) targets of ten (10) rounds each for a total of 270 rounds of 10 points each, hence the name, “2700,” for the competition.

I shot my Smith & Wesson Model 41 in the 22-caliber segment and then, like many others, I used the same gun in both the “CF” (CenterFire) and the “45” (45 ACP) portions. I used my Springfield Armory 1911 Mil-Spec (the Parkerized version) in those two portions of the competition.

Here are my scores:

22 CF 45
Slow Fire #1 76-0 53-0 61-1
Slow Fire #2 84-1 75-0 66-0
NMC Slow Fire 83-2 74-0 51-0
NMC Timed Fire 94-1 87-2 68-0
NMC Rapid Fire 92-1 86-1 76-1
Timed Fire #1 92-2 78-1 87-0
Timed Fire #2 95-0 87-1 85-2
Rapid Fire #1 91-1 63-2 68-0
Rapid Fire #2 92-1 78-2 90-2
Aggregates 799-9 88.8% 681-9 75.7% 652-6 72.4%
Grand Aggregate 2132-24 79.0%

As you can see from the scores, my 22 is much better than my 45. This is true for most shooters although not as dramatic for most as my scores would suggest: I’m still a novice with that gun and have a lot to learn.

I’ve been following a very specific strategy for the past year. My goal for the next several years is to achieve, one step at a time, an official ranking from the NRA at each level of achievement. Those rankings begin with the “Marksman” level.

But new shooters are not automatically awarded with a ranking of that level, nor do they have to earn it, per se. Instead, new shooters simply have to shoot a total of 360 shots that are recorded with the NRA and, overall, achieve a score of less than 85% of the maximum.

I had previously shot in an NRA Approved (and recorded) “900” (90 shots) with the 22. Those shots averaged right at 80%.

So my goal since then has been to learn the 45 well enough that I wouldn’t be embarassed by my scores – and, trust me, some of my early scores were extremely embarassing – and to time my next “recorded” event so that I would not be likely to exceed the 85% mark.

My wish is to progress through the ranks, one step at a time, and stand on each step before moving up to the next. What is important to me is not the achievement of a high ranking, but more so in being within the flow and movement up through the ranks. Belonging is more important to me than achieving. I shoot for the camraderie that comes with the long haul up through the ranks.

Some might call this sandbagging and, if strategizing when to compete and when to wait makes me a sandbagger, then I am guilty as charged.

But I can also honestly say that as I raised the gun and followed my shot plan for each of those 270 shots recorded above, I was sincerely trying to do the very best that I could. Every single shot was the best I could do at that moment.

And some of them were pretty bad. Luckily, I think I learned some things in the competition that can be fixed next time around.

One thing to fix is lunch. If you look at the scores and think about when we started (7:30AM) and how long each “gun” took (about two hours), it’s pretty easy to see that the “45” competition took place immediately after lunch. And just look at those awful Slow Fire scores: 61-1, 66-0 and then that miserable 51-0! Boy, did I want to pack up and go home.

But, “No,” I said to myself, “I came to shoot a complete 2700 and I’m not leaving until I’ve done so no matter what the scores.”

So I stopped, re-read my shot plan, tried to think (and see) myself going through each step and, yes, my scores improved, but only after I also drank and gave my body time to absorb a good 8-12 ounces of water: I think I was also dehydrated and, once the water had been absorbed, my scores picked up again.

I need to plan “lunch” better and drink more water. Sunday I ate a KFC lunch of three chicken strips, a small tub of cole slaw and a small tub of green beans and washed it down with water, but only as much as I needed to swallow the food. I noticed some of the other shooters eating relatively small sandwiches and a piece of fruit, and nothing more. Nobody, I mean nobody, had a sugared soft drink (and neither did I). (I’m not sure how much water they were drinking, however.)

Clearly, the ammunition I put in my stomach is just as important as the ammunition I put in my guns. And clearly, keeping my body adequately hydrated was also a key factor in executing the shot plan over and over again.

A final note on the “2700” scores. Notice the score on the very last target? It is 90-2 on the final Rapid Fire with the 45. That is my single best score ever with that gun in competition. (Standing and shooting on the line with half a dozen world-class shooters is real different than practice. Competition-scores are different than practice scores.) That target is now on the bulletin board behind my desk to say, “You can do this, and you can do better just by getting a surprise release instead of the jerks you see on this target in the 8 ring and the 7 ring.”

Leg Match

“Yeah, I’ll try the Leg Match after the 2700. Sounds like fun!”

Hah, big learning experience!

A Leg Match is shot with a hardball gun. The gun has to have iron sights and, more or less, be something that would be issued in the military or police services and, hence, this is also called a Service pistol.

My Springfield Armory 1911 just happens to qualify, well almost. It is a stock, service pistol except that I’ve had the trigger adjusted down to 3.5 pounds which is “legal” for Bullseye competitions, but not for the Leg Matches where it has to be a minimum of 4 pounds. I spoke with the meet director about this and he said that since this was a practice Leg Match, they wouldn’t be recording the scores so it was up to me if I wanted to shoot or not. Well, I’d brought a box of hardball ammunition (230 grain Full Metal Jacket “ball”) for that purpose so, of course, I said, “Yes.”

So, I loaded the hardball ammo into the same gun I’d used in the 2700 with the “wad” ammo (from NSK Sales, which worked great), aimed at the same point on the target at 50 yards (at the top of the bullseye) and released my first Slow Fire shot. Then, I leaned over to the spotting scope, looked at the target, and looked and looked and looked for the hole from that first round, but it just wasn’t there.

“Rats,” I said to myself. But that’s certainly not the first time I’ve jerked or pushed the gun and missed the target so I decided to try again.

Again, no hole in the target.

“What the …?”

At this point, it was clear to Coach Pat that I was having a problem. Since this was a practice match, he came over and, after I explained my problem, he volunteered to try a couple of shots. I nodded, grateful for his help.

He fired twice and said, “Point of Impact is Point of Aim,” and handed the gun back to me.

Between my aiming at the top of the bull, and then probably pushing on the grip in anticipation of the heavier recoil, my two shots had gone right over the top of the target.

Okay, I thought, I have six shots to redeem myself.

Alas, as you can see from the horrific score of 26-0 below, it wasn’t to be during Slow Fire.

I’ve always fired best in Timed Fire and, sure enough, I turned in a respectable (for me) 76-0 next. (Targets move in to 25 yards for Timed and Rapid Fire so the Point of Impact, Point of Aim issue changes, and apparently I guessed well enough where to aim with the hardball ammunition.)

And the Rapid Fire score of 68-1, while not great, was still “in the ballpark” with the scores in that form in the 2700 so, overall, I’d have to say I did “Okay” but only after “getting the hang of it.”

And that’s exactly what practice competitions are for, to “get the hang of it.”

Here are the (embarassing) scores from the hardball competition:

Hardball Score
NMC Slow Fire 26-0
NMC Timed Fire 76-0
NMC Rapid Fire 68-1
Total 170-1 56.7%

Here are some of the things I learned:

  • Lunch matters a whole lot. Plan it just as I plan each shot. A bad lunch will mess up 30 or more shots.
  • Stay hydrated. Drink lots of water. If you get dehydrated, the blood doesn’t seem to circulate or something because my brain simply doesn’t perform to the shot plan like it normally does, nor will you be able to figure out what you are doing wrong – the brain has to be functioning, too, even if we try to get it to stop during the shot release.
  • Know your sight adjustments or, if shooting fixed sights as I was, the compensation to make for not only 25 versus 50 yards, but also for “wad” versus “hardball” ammunition. Sunday I “got the hang” that hardball ammunition flies different from wad ammo. [Doh!]
  • My Slow Fire on the 45 needs practice, practice, practice. There’s less time to think – and mess up the shot – in Timed and Rapid Fire. “Don’t Think” is great advice if I can just remember to shut off the brain and just let my body “do it”.
  • And in the seven (7) hours of competition, lunch and leg match, I sure had fun. Yeah, I’ll do that again and again and again.

Bullseye is fun!

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