Last night was the first time I decided to venture out to a local Multi-Gun match that was put on by the guys over at Tactical Firearms Academy. Their event was called “HOT SHOTS” – a new multi-gun club.
I will admit, I’ve been hesitant on attending when they had originally started the event back in the fall of 2013. But that was mainly due to my lack of skills on both the carbine and the shotgun. Plus let’s face it, my pistol marksmanship wasn’t that quite up to the level that I personally need it to be. So instead I just kept focusing my skill set on pistols.
But since I was coming off from breaking in my carbine, I figure I’ll go check it out and see what they got. Needless to say, I started looking at their upcoming matches on Facebook. I have to say that TFA has a lot of students. The ones that are actively on there sounded like they’ve been shooting for years. For me, it was pretty nerve wrecking thinking that I’m going to go up against these “seasoned” shooters.
All day I was trying to calm myself down. I drank green tea and did my breathing meditation through out the day, trying to make sure my mindset was there and not let these “skilled” student intimidate me. After all, they all seem to be shooting together a lot. You can tell just by the way they interact with each other.
Either way, I needed to get my focus and mind set straight.
As the night approached and the match is about to begin, we were briefed on the course of fire. We had three stages. Stage 1 was a head to head match. Stage 2 was the Bermuda Triangle and the final stage was a modified El Presidente.
TFA is all about the big boys rule. However, because of the range we are on, we also had to follow house rules. That means safety flags at all times, which is no big deal to me really. Now, what I like about doing TFA’s events are these big boys rules. That means no crappy complicated rules set by those other competition safety power-tripping wardens. We were allowed to handle our business as we have been trained. Or so I thought…
As I said before, there is a price to pay for everything; especially when we are given big boys rules.
So last night’s match was no different from any other TFA events. But the price to pay for breaking those rules will result in a DQ and being sent home packing. Trust me, it’s not something you want to happen in the middle of your match.
So here are the stages broken down…
STAGE 1: HEAD TO HEAD
This was a head to head timed match between you, another shooter next to you and yes… the clock. This first stage has you working your carbine at 100 yards, your pistol at 50 yards, and your shotgun at 100 yards. But here is the catch… you have to carry all of your weapons with you! A big WTF…!?!?!?
Ok, well, knowing TFA, this wasn’t and shouldn’t really be a surprise. Cause they’re known to throw in a wrench or two just to spice it up a bit. It would be foolish to think that any course of fire that is designed by TFA would be as easy as eating pie. My confidence level were at a low five but quickly dropped to zero now that I have to carry all of these weapons slung while moving through the course of fire? I have limited carbine skills and shotgun training. So this is like being baptized by fire!
I’m so gonna get clobber…
As I watched some of the other students work through the first stage, I was quite surprise that a lot of them were going to war with the targets and just jamming rounds after rounds into berm, all the while missing their targets. It made me worry even more about my own skill sets as well. If these seasoned students are shooting like crap… is it because of the course or something it else? But who am I to judge? All I know is that I have a mission to complete here.
Sadly, the result was quite clear. I didn’t get pass the first position on the line. Why? Because I didn’t have enough confidence in myself, or my own rifle to handle the first position which was the dueling tree. I knew that the 6.8 SPC is a pretty potent round. Base from a previous dueling tree drill, I knew that it is a strong chance that it would probably hit the steel and bounce back to my side. Well, three times it bounced back to my side.
The RO said those hits didn’t count. I was like…
Are you serious? That’s a solid hit. How am I suppose to control the power of my ammo? Squeeze softly? Or should I whisper into my rifle and stroke the barrel so that it won’t make the steel bounce back?
This is the only time I will take issue with it and call it as a BS. Sorry. That’s a solid hit and not a miss. And to be honest, that really pissed me off actually. It completely threw me off my game and I lost focus on everything else I needed to do. In the end, I timed out at three minutes and got a DNF for a DID NOT FINISH.
It was bad enough I had a hard time figuring out what position do I need to take the shots or whether or not I’m doing any of this crap correctly. I was already second and third guessing myself. Man, I really do suck…
This stage performance was pathetic really. Not because of the course of fire, but the fact that I let that one crappy ass call screwed my mindset.
STAGE 2: The Bermuda Triangle
Ok, I have to say that this was my favorite run. The par time on this was 60 seconds. I finished in 2 minutes and 26 seconds… Hey so what, I finished it! The lead instructor even gave me a golfer’s clap… hilarious. And that’s all that matters to me, mostly was to finish this stage.
The stage was laid out in a triangle, starting at the 75 yards line then advancing to the 50 yard lines and cutting across for another 25 yards and then back to starting position at the 75. We would engage three small ass targets at the end of the course during each position. And they were small as in 8 eight plates which was a lot smaller than the original version.
But you would engage two shots on each target in an order. However as you move from position to position, you cannot use any of the previous shooting order you made. So you have to think it through. On top of that, you’re forced to start off with 15 rounds and 1 full mag to do a reload.
All of this had to be done under 1 minute. And let me say, a lot of these seasoned shooters were already complaining about the par time. I actually welcome that challenge. In fact, I was excited and ready to do it!
Sixty seconds with an ankle that I broke last year and a busted up shoulder, running in boots, and being overweight? Yeah sure, why not! I’m up for it. If anything, I thought the course of fire within 60 seconds is very doable. I might not be able to do it now, but at least it sets a benchmark for me to gauge my deficiency and where I need to improve.
Lets face it! I already know that I’m not going for speed here. But what I set out to do was to complete the course and shoot it as correctly as I can. In the video playback I saw myself struggle with some of the shots. But at certain points of my shooting, I had to reset myself and make adjustments to correct everything that I was doing wrong. And you know what? It worked. But towards the end of the stage, I was getting a little antsy and decide to go fast… and miss fast.
I will admit that I shot this stage a lot better because I found that shooting prone just works for me. Especially when trying to take targets out at long distance. In the first stage I was thinking that I can do a Magpul style of shooting to nail the targets just by standing up (this is what I get for just copying other people’s shooting).
That was a lesson I paid to learn in Stage 1. So here, I adapted to my mistakes, plus with the help from one of the very seasonal (and bad ass shooter), I did finish this stage.
Lucky for me, I was able to reset my mind for this stage.
STAGE 3: El Presidente Modified
This stage reminds me a lot of Trident Concepts modified Navy Qualification Drill. But basically, you’re shooting it just like you do with the El Presidente Drill.
You start the drill with your carbine, standing. Deliver six rounds, two per target. After you reload, you drop to a kneeling position and re-engage. You repeat again, and then drop to prone. When you’re done, you repeat the entire process with your pistol and then with your shotgun.
Sounds pretty easy huh?
Well, I found out that I hit only less than 50% of the target. And I will admit there is a big difference between shooting calmly at paper targets versus going fast against the clock.
Oh did I mentioned that there’s a two minute par time?
After the event, I had to reflect on my own mistakes and shortcomings. I knew that when placed under pressure, it was difficult for me to follow through with my fundamentals. But sadly, I wasn’t the only one that failed to work fundamentals.
In fact, I was completely surprise that a lot of these seasoned students were just throwing lead down range. Its as if the abandoned their foundation of proper marksmanship in favor of trigger slapping. Maybe it’s just me, as I’m not trying to judge anyone – but I saw so many students just whipping out their guns and missing their targets. Then there were a few other shooters that really shot well and those are the ones that I need to watch more often.
But I guess this is what Hot Shots is about. If you’re going to talk the talk, then I guess you better walk the walk. Hot Shots is definitely like no other pistol club or competition events. You are given a lot of chances to problem solve your stage run.
No one will tell you how to shoot or solve the stage – other than a walk through by the RO. When the clock goes off, it’s up to you to put your skills to the test and your thinking to solve the rest.
The courses of fire are definitely not designed for new shooters, but new shooters are welcomed to try. Even for the experienced shooters, just know that these courses of fire are challenging. They’re not like what you would see in some of these popular competition or YouTube videos. The courses are designed to test your fundamentals for speed, accuracy, your ability to solve problems as well as being physically challenged.
My recommendation if you go, is that you definitely will to need to adhere to the 4 golden rules of safe gun handling. You also need to have some familiarity of your weapon. Cause no one will help you or give you hints as to manipulate your weapon during your course of fire.
And bring lots of ammo, you will not know beforehand the round count. Also, they have a set recommendation of what to bring, but if you’re shooting crap like myself, bring a few more to make up for the potential make up shots (aka misses). As my instructor tells me, the only two times you don’t need ammo is when you’re on fire or underwater.
Hot Shots club is not owned by TFA. But they are helping them run the event, which is why there are a lot of TFA students there. However, Hot Shots states on their website that they are open to everyone. So it’s not exclusive at all.
But more importantly, ask yourself why you are participating. I chose to go, so I can work on my skill sets. Others may go just for the gaming aspect or entertainment value of trigger time. Either way, it’s up to you to personally figure out what you want from Hot Shots.
So welcome to the big boys rule!