Rock Castle 2012 Day 1
Day 1 started off on a less than perfect note. With a 7:30 shooters meeting, and the fact that I was super excited about the whole event I didn’t sleep past 4 am, and my first stage was at 10 AM. This was not an ideal combination of events.
Coolest start to any morning that I have had on the road, ever. I am in the lobby of the hotel, with my complimentary breakfast and holy cow… that’s USPSA President Phil Strader.
Stage 1 was a pure shotgun run. It should have been a really fast run and gun stage. Just about everyone struggled with this one in some way or another. The challenge here was to break the furring strip first with a buckshot round. Engage the two cardboard targets with buckshot, and then the remaining 16 steel with birdshot. The layout in the stage description is pretty close to the actual course. Targets on the right were elevated up a slight hill and about 10 – 12 yards from the path. Targets on the left were a little farther out and tucked between some large shrubs. All targets were about 3’ off the ground.
Stage Layout: Rockcastle 2012 AM 1
My run? I loaded eight, 3 buckshot, and 5 birdshot. I came to the line with an open chamber and loaded the an additional buckshot in the loader. Made ready, picked up the phone and began. First shot on the furring strip took a crescent moon out of the top of the strip. Move to right cardboard, miss. Fire hit. Move left carboard. Hit. – no more buckshot. Stay on left, steel…. Miss, miss, miss, hit. Furring stip…birdshot hit and breaks. Load 8, moving through door engage right steel at door so as not to break 180. Hit. Shift left, move and shoot miss, miss, stop… miss, hit. Reload shift right, aim low…. Hit, hit, hit, hit, miss, hit… reload move to ports… left side hit, hit… right side hit, hit, miss… time
Shotgun functioned flawlessly. Shooter, not so much. I needed to put the bead on the base of the steel to get the results I wanted. Lesson learned but, maybe not remembered.
A little bit of a break, so I take in some other stages, and grab some lunch.
On to stage 5, a little jungle walk into the woods. Shotgun and pistol. Easy run. Pack the gear in the truck and a little jaunt off to the stage, back to the main area, past the lodge, down the hill to the main road, down the road, off the road down and up the gravel road and the squads before us are beginning to run late.
Well, it was all uphill. The ground was uneven with exposed rock and root, but this really was less of an issue than I expected. The biggest issue, unpainted steel in the shadows of the woods is really hard to see, which makes it even harder to aim low. And to compliment the situation, I got to go first. The stage layout on this is a little different than the diagram. The four targets visible from the start box were all shifted laterally to the left and laid out with limited longitudinal deflection. Then you moved six steps left and two forward to an exposed rock in the path, to pickup five steel on the right. Down a dip in the trail and uphill to the next exposed rock shoot steel on right, shift to aim on the other side of a barrier and alternating steel and cardboard in a 225 degree arc. You could get all the steel from that position. Shift to pistol, get 3 cardboard targets on the right, and 3 on the left but if you did not move forward you would miss the cardboard target on the right that was hidden by a barricade.
Stage Description: Rockcastle 2012 AM 5
My run was abysmal. I was pretty down after this performance. Load 9, start in box A. Four steel, 9 shots reload eight, 3 more shots… finally down… move reload four… five steel…. Aim low stupid…. Hit, hit, hit, hit, miss, hit… downhill, uphill, reloading, drop shell… close enough… aim low… hit, hit, hit, hit, hit… look back… crap steel did not go down it is sideways to me…. Move to pistol engage, shoot, shoot, move shoot shoot…buzz. Par time. Kick myself for not moving on from the first targets sooner. Catch my breath and proclaim to the rest of the squad… that’s not the way to do it. Many did better, a few the same. No one made my mistake of sticking to the first four too long.
Another little break and then back to the main area for Stage 2. Shooting from a car…FREAKING AWESOME! What do you mean I can’t stand out of the window and shoot across the car??? Crap… need another plan. What do you mean I have to start with my feet flat on the floorboards…I don’t drive that way (and it was uncomfortable).
By this time in the day, we were running late. Our squad was supposed to start at 3 PM. We started at 4:30.
Mixed shotgun and rifle stage. From the vehicle, engage all steel with the shotgun. One steel popper on the left will activate a rifle swinger. All rifle targets are 1/2 size IPSC targets. Rifle targets on the right must be engaged from a port that is designed to obscure your optic. Targets on the left, can be engaged offhanded. Rifle is staged in the trunk, unloaded. You may not leave the vehicle until all shotgun targets are engaged, and your shotgun is safely restaged pointed at the floorboard on the passenger side.
My original plan slide right in the car engage right side steel. Stand up, through the window sitting on window sill shoot over the vehicle all targets on the left. Slide back in, restage shotgun and unass the car, recover rifle and engage all targets.
My revised plan, shoot steel on left. Engage left popper to start swinger, move to right engage all steel exit the vehicle, recover rifle engage right side then left side. I know my shotgun now, I just need to hold her low. This one gets me back on track!
Stage Description: Rockcastle 2012 AM 2
My execution. Stage rifle magazines in trunk, get a sight picture through the port…look my optic is high enough to clear the port if I brace against the top brace (EXCELLENT). Put shotgun in vehicle. 8 Loaded, empty chamber, flag safety in. Sit down. Remove flag safety…crap a shell just chambered…crap crap crap. Exit vehicle RO has me unload and reload shotgun. Setup again. Hands on wheel… rehearsing in my head…what do you mean my hands are not at 10 and 2…11 and 3?? Really? Ug. Feet…flat? Ug.
Beep… grab shotgun… chamber round… left side steel miss, aim low stupid, hit, hit, hit, hit but sideways, re-engage… it’s down…popper…ug how can I get on target… ok… miss, miss… reload two… shift weapon center of body… miss, miss…recoil moves buttstock to hit teeth better not do that again…reload two shift left shoulder switch hands…aim low… hit…. Shift shotgun into car swing it to passenger side…hits steering wheel, hangs up on shirt finally swings around reload… out window…aim low… hit, hit, hit, hit, hit, popper hit safety on place in right spot, where is the freaking door handle… remember to close the door so that it is not in the way for the rifle…load rifle… go to port… and I start rockin’ the rifle… I like my rifle…my rifle and I are one…I am a rifleman first and always…right side down left side bam, bam, bam…beep…. Huh? What? Par time already?
Lessons Learned: learn to shoot from the weak side, or else be more creative on your body position when shooting from the drivers side; know when to cut your losses. Ask the question of the RO do you have to actually have the swinger swinging to shoot it? If I had taken two shots at the popper and peeled off for the right side of the car…. 15 – 20 seconds saved if not more. It would have been the smart move.
There were a couple of Pro Clinics that I attended this evening also but more on that later. Long day, bad sleeping night the night before, disappointing execution, hot, sweaty, and dusty. I’ve been a lot worse off than that, and this time I had a hotel to head back to. And as I have told everyone that asks, any day outside shooting is a whole lot better than a day in the office. It was an outstanding day.
Tomorrow – Rock Castle 2012 Day 2