Planning Your Training

I think that we all know that in order to optimize your results, planning your time is important.  This is especially true when “training” for anything.  When I was coaching, we always planned the practice.  There were specific things that we needed to work with the team, and individuals on.

For physical conditioning, shooting, and martial arts I have readopted the same approach.  Developing a long range set of training blocks, and then devolving those into specific work sessions.  The key for me, is finding the time to execute the plan.

Randi Rogers has a break down of how she approaches planning her practice sessions and includes a pretty focused template for you to use as a starting point.

In Ben Stoeger’s book he breaks down what a week of practice looks like for him and how he approaches the mixing of both dry fire, and live fire exercises.  Interestingly he spends some time working in the mechanics of moving through the stages, and between shooting positions as well as fundamental techniques at distances.

Mike Seeklander goes into a lot more depth in his book about developing not only a specific goals and plans but balancing that plan among his six distinct areas of development.

No matter your approach, planning the task, executing the task, and then evaluating the results is a key to your development.  With the economic and opportunity cost of range time, equipment, and ammunition it becomes even more important to your success and enjoyment of the sport.  Take the time to give your efforts some thought and planning before you jump right in.  I think you will be pleased with the results.

** Disclosure time.  I am not an Amazon affiliate nor am I sponsored or supported in any way by the individuals (or their organizations) mentioned above.  I have just found their advice useful and wanted to pass it on.

2013 AR-15 . com Pro-Am Wrap Up

This year’s adventure with the Pro-Am was “most excellent”.  There was the uncertainty about whether I would have a slot, as I was on the waiting list for an extended period but, it all worked out in the end.  I have to offer up a hearty thank you to the Babes with Bullets organization, and the work that Dianna Liedorff and Kay Miculek put forth to pull together a sub-event for women.  Without that I know that my wife would most likely not have attended the event, and it is always a joy to spend some time with that organization, and the folks that they attract.  For this year not only were my wife and I able to attend but, we were squadded with folks that we have become friends with and enjoy being around.  In addition we made some new friends and learned a lot from the experience.

My personal thanks to everyone that we crossed paths with.  The list would be very long, and distinguished.  You know who you are, thank you for making this match a special event.

squad 1 most

Lessons Learned

There are always lessons to be learned from every match and this is no different.  With the sport of 3 Gun there are a lot of variables and a lot of tricks and techniques that are critical to being safe, competitive, and having fun.  Throwing them all together, things do, and will fall apart when you least expect it.  Here are some of my lessons learned.

  1. Remember that this sport is a race.  You need to turn it up a little bit.  Operating in your comfort zone is ok but you will not improve, or have the results that you want.
  2. Remember that this sport is a race but, if your front sight is not on the target your shot is likely not either (see and call your shot).
  3. Practice techniques, particularly shotgun reloads.
  4. Hot days….HYDRATE, early and often.
  5. Aggressiveness relates to number 1 above but your body reacts to the stance that you take.  There were stages where my body positioning was lackadaisical, this effected by transition speeds and my readiness to move aggressively between shooting positions.
  6. I love my rifle but, it may be time to step up a notch.
  7. If you are given good advice, think about it before you change your stage plan.  Is this good advice for you.
  8. Improve your physical fitness.  Cardio recovery, and quick explosive movements are keys to being fast in this sport.  Get some.
  9. Travel.  It was great having my wife along to help move gear and remember the things that I would forget like snacks, and so on.  But, it’s tough work to compete and live out of a hotel room.  I live out of a hotel room a lot and I am accustomed to it but, adding a match to that is hard.
  10. Food.  Figure out how to eat your regular diet during the event.  I did not eat well and I was feeling the effects of that.
  11. Drop barrels for weapons.  Practice dumping and picking up guns at speed, don’t be shy about it.


What Went Right

The event was great.  Registration ran smoothly, the staff at Rockcastle Shooting Center were always there to answer questions and bust their tails to make sure that things went as well as they possibly can.  When you are catering for close to 1000 people, things do become a bit frenetic.

The equipment all ran pretty much as expected.  Laura had a couple of minor issues with her shotgun, and the illuminated portion of my VX-R scope has been malfunctioning for a while now.

I had switched my belt connections over to the TMSS system from Blade-Tech.  I cannot say enough good things about this system.  It plain works.  I had tried the Safariland ELS system but could not make the transition to that fixed location system with the holes in the belt.  Blade-Tech, Tek-loc, and TMSS is the way to go.

Stage 6, and Stage 2… those ran the best for me.  The keys to those, I ran the long distance rifle before I got my heart rate up and there were no shotgun reloads.  There were still opportunities where I left time on the table but, I was pleased with them.

Stage 1 and Stage 5 — I was not terribly happy with and I learned from them.  The mistakes I made were basic and fixable

Stage 4 — If I had made those two shots I would have been very very happy with that run.  The time was perfect (for me) but that one rifle and one pistol target with only one hit in each cost me 10 additional seconds.  No excuse for that, make the hits.

Stage 3 — Shotgun reloads, and better absorption and execution of the plan.

Stage 7 — Terrible results.  Stick to the original plan and focus on the task at hand.



Revisiting my goals for the match this year:

  1. Finish in the top half of my division (last year’s goal) —  Made it 112th out of 250
  2. DO NOT hit the par time on any stage — Made it, although it was close on stage 7
  3. Stretch goal:  Finish in the top 50 — FAIL  While I failed on this I did prove to myself that this was very achievable.
  4. Super Stretch:  Break the top 25 on a single stage — Fail but… I am pretty certain that this is achievable and will be a goal for next year.


Best Moments of the Match

  1.  Having my wife shoot it with me (or did I shoot it with her?)
  2. Shooting the match with friends.
  3. Having Kay Miculek tell me just before Stage 2, make the hits but just open the throttle and go for it.
  4. All the Babes with Bullets staff
  5. All the Rockcastle shooting staff, and the match staff
  6. Cave, Suppressed .45, Nightvision….. AWESOME.

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2013 AR-15 . com Pro-Am Stage 7

Stage 7: “Gran….”

Today we take a look at the last stage on the Amateur side of the event.  This was the sixth stage that we shot for the event, and the heat and humidity were taking it’s toll on us physically.  There was very little shade to support this stage which made it a bit more difficult.

All 3 guns in this event.  Start with pistol and hose the targets.  Pick up shotgun and shoot the steel, transition to rifle get the paper targets, and then the two long range targets at 170 (ish) and 205 yards.

Evidently I failed to video Laura’s run.  You are stuck with my painful run only.

Here we go….

This should have been an awesome stage for me.  I can make all kinds of excuses (see lessons learned) but the bottom line is I made a couple of poor decisions in my stage plan, and failed to execute on a couple of simple shotgun shots.  It cost me.  Oh and my fitness level was impacting those long range shots.  I just didn’t settle in the way that I should have.

The cost:  10s on the shotgun “issues”.  20s wasted in that kneeling rifle position.  Stage killer right there.

Lesson learned:

  1. Sometimes it is good to listen to others advice.  Sometimes it backfires.
  2. On a hot day even when you think you are well hydrated you are not.  Find the Gatorade (or similar).
  3. Technique:  There are some good technique critiques here too.  Those are all on me because I know better.


2013 AR15 . com Pro – Am Stage 6

Stage 6 – “Thunderbolt and…”

A relatively simple stage that was a lot of fun. Two long range flashers and then a number of pistol and rifle targets through various ports or barricades. Starting position and weapon were your choice. Because the dump bucket was on the left, everyone chose to start on the right work to the left, change weapons and work to the right.

Here we go…

I had a very respectable run on this stage. The first place finisher was 34.95. The second place was 40.51 a huge difference. Most of the top 10 were in that 41 second range. I had good accuracy but was slow on my movements and manipulation of the weapon. I need to learn to transition between weapons more quickly. Shooting faster with accuracy wouldn’t hurt either. So, three takeaways: Movement, weapon transition, quicker sight picture.

2013 AR15 . com Pro-Am Stage 5

Stage 5 High Plains

This stage could / should have been a rocking stage. It was the second stage of the match for us and I was just not quite there. As a result, I did not respond as well to issues as I should have. Oh, and running down hill on wet grass with a loaded gun in your hand is a little intimidating. I managed it ok but could have pushed the speed more, and kept it up for a couple of more steps.

Shelly Rae, pushed it and wound up on her back in the process of getting stopped.

A straight forward stage. Move down the fault lanes and hammer the paper targets left and right. Move and nail the paper pistol mixed in with the 1/2 size rifle targets on the right. Switch to rifle hammer the paper left, and slide right hammer those, then come back to the long range. Alternatively, hit the long range (100 yd) target first then clean the rest.

I got wound up, and dropped two shots on the pistol paper just moving too fast. Then that 100 yd down hill shot that should have been a no brainer I could not settle my body in for and get a clean shot on. Overall disappointing, this stage could have resulted in a much better result.

2013 AR15 . com Pro-Am Stage 4

Stage 4 “Every Which Way…”

Stage 4 of the event was the last stage that we shot. It had been a hot two days and we were in the worst of the heat and humidity, down in a draw at “Cowboy Town”. The stage presented some challenges. At first glance it seems like a pretty straight forward stage but there were multiple ways. The key was your weapons were on the bench and unloaded. You had to shoot through four different shooting positions with the pistol and four with the rifle. The movement was entirely lateral. No forward and back movement.

Our final stage so of course, we had some shuffling of the shooting order and some malfunctions of video equipment to deal with. Unfortunate because I had a pretty respectable run, and I would have liked to have tracked where I dropped two shots.

It was a fun stage, the three long range targets ranged from 130-170 yards and the paper was all within 25 yards. Around the trees, through the windows, weapon manipulation, a little movement, memory drills on what to shoot from where, a little bit of everything.