Day 2: Gaining Momentum at a 3-Gun Match

After a good night's rest, Armscor's John McClain was set and ready for day two of the Zombies in the Heartland 3-Gun Match. Follow John through his next stages to see what he learned and how he performed.

John's 3-Gun Match Lineup

  • ShotgunVR-80 with mag well, single chamber compensator, and magazine extensions from TaylorFreelance
  • PistolPrototype RIA TAC Ultra 9mm Minor Open Gun with a Vortex Viper Red Dot and shooting 124 gr 9mm Armscor Ammo
  • Rifle — TTI AR-15 topped with a Vortex Razor HD 1-10 shooting 55gr 223 Armscor Ammo

Day 2 — The Next Four Stages

On the first day, I shot four stages in the morning. For day two, my schedule switched, and I waited until the afternoon to start my next stages. This allowed me to arrive at the range early to walk the stages that I would shoot that day or watch other people shoot try the stages. This was very helpful because I could see others run stage plans and see what worked and what didn't. I was lucky enough that a good friend of mine was shooting the first stage that I would be shooting, and he happens to be a very good competition shooter who was going with the opposite plan that I was thinking about going with. This gave me a good opportunity to see how that plan would work out.

Stage 5

Stage 5 starts with the option of using a shotgun-rifle or shotgun-pistol combo. My friend, Keith Garcia, opted to go with shotgun and rifle, which gave me the opportunity to analyze his run and to hear his time. After watching him shoot, I decided that I would rather shoot with my shotgun and pistol, as I was originally planning period. This is mostly because I am very confident in my pistol abilities, and I could load my pistol while running up to the pistol portion of the stage. On the other hand, I could not load a rifle until I was at the other position where I could pick it up, wasting two to three seconds. Needless to say, after my run, the stage results were clean with a final time of 35.99 seconds, placing me No. 4 on Stage 5.

Time: 35.99 seconds

Rank: No. 4

Stage 6

Stage 6 is a shotgun and pistol stage. I began the stage by engaging 12 steel knockdown zombie targets with my shotgun from within a shooting area. Once I neutralized those shotgun targets, I proceeded to another shooting area with a door blocked by a wooden shim. Using my shotgun to shoot through the wooden shim, I proceeded through the stage once I had completely and successfully breached the door.

Breaching the door takes two shots because when that close to the target, a shotgun pattern doesn't have a chance to spread at all. My first shot ended up disintegrating the first 70 percent of the wooden shim but not enough for me to be able to open the door without incurring a penalty. With my second shot, I eliminated another 20 percent before pushing the door open, breaking the last bit of the shim without much effort. From there, I loaded my pistol and engaged the final 15 pistol targets to end up with a final time of 27.70 clean, which put me into second place on Stage 6.

Time: 27.70 seconds

Rank: No. 2

Stage 7

Now Stage 7 involves the use of what we call a stage gun. This is a firearm that is sponsored by a manufacturer or a company and is to be used on the stage by every competitor. In this case, it is a double-action-only revolver, shooting 38 Special.

The firearm began staged with the cylinder open, hammer down, and a single bullet staged next to the gun. We were only allowed to load one bullet into the firearm. On the clock, you load and engage a steel plate at approximately 35 yards to win a five-second bonus, which would detract five seconds at the end of your run as well as activates some swinging targets making them easier to shoot later on IF you hit it.

On the signal, I loaded the revolver, took aim, pulled the trigger, and missed the target. Since I don't typically shoot double-action pistols, I was just trying to get that shot out of the way as quickly as possible. From there I picked up my shotgun and engaged 10 steel targets. Next, I grounded my safe shotgun into the dump barrel and moved forward down the stage to the first pistol shooting area. To cut down on distance and time, I elected to swing myself under the bar of the platform that I was standing on. Unfortunately, my momentum got a little ahead of my feet, sending me falling down onto my hands and knees.

I picked myself up and dusted off my ego as I ran to the shooting position to pull my handgun out of its holster and load it. I shot the activating steel target, which activates three swinging zombie paper targets. Turning, I engaged five plates through the head of a zombie and reloaded over to the last shooting position, which had barrels and clay landmines all over the place. This required me to watch my steps carefully before bringing my eyes up to the target. I found two locations during my walkthough that allowed me to engage every target and proceed to make sure I hit those spots. Finally, my focus shifted to the final 11 targets with my pistol. I ended up with a clean run and a final time of 42.05 seconds. This put me in second place for Stage 7.

Time: 42.05 seconds

Rank: No. 2

Stage 8

My last stage of the day is a rifle-shotgun stage. I began with my rifle, engaging four zombie heads and one clay from the first position. Following this, I ran over to the second shooting area to engage another four zombie heads and one clay. In the final shooting area, I engaged the final two zombie heads and one clay target. Ditching my rifle in a safe condition, I moved onto the shooting platform and retrieved my shotgun. From here, I took aim at nine steel targets, with two of the steel targets activating clay throwers. These clay throwers pop a clay about 12 feet into the air, where they must be broken before they hit the ground. If I had shoot at the clay and miss, it would have been a Failure to Neutralize (5 second) penalty. However, if I hadn't gotten a shot off at the clay before it hit the ground, I would have received a Failure to Engage (10 second) penalty. With a few makeup shots here and there, I hit all my shotgun targets and ended with a clean final time of 27.32, which put me at No. 5 for my last stage of day two.

Time: 27.32 seconds

Rank: No. 5

End-OF-Day thoughts

After another strong day of shooting, I felt pretty good about where I was at with my ability to execute my stage plans. I ran into town to grab a sandwich, and I returned to my hotel, where I organized my gear and did a general cleaning session. That night, my head hit the pillow, knowing that I would have an early start in the morning.

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