As some of you may know four members left for the Smith and Wesson Indoor nationals last week. Brian Gonsalves, John Mercurio, Wendy Hamby, and myself. We arrived Tuesday night after an entire day of flying followed by a 2 hour drive from Boston to Springfield Massachusetts, we checked into our hotel and hit the hay. On Wednesday morning we woke up and drove around to find a breakfast joint. We ended up at the most girly restaurant in town. Pink and red, hearts and flowers everywhere. Us manly men worked through it and enjoyed a great meal. We then headed over to the range. Our visit was short lived when officials came up and asked us to leave. We did not yet have our badges and with security running high, they told us to come back tomorrow. They even (jokingly) told Brian he looked like a terrorist. That statement quickly became a running joke all week. If your bald and have a goatee you just might be a terrorist.
We left the range and headed over to the Springfield Armory. Yes! That Springfield Armory. What a treat to walk into the Armory and look at a small sample of the weapons that won many wars. It was an emotional visit walking around looking as some very special pieces. The equipment used and talent involved back then was impressive. It was all by hand even the machines used were mostly hand operated. After leaving the Armory we drove around looking for gun stores. After Wendy and John opted to stay in the car for our last one Brian and I decided to sneak into the bar next door. This wasn’t just any bar we had stumbled onto a tiny little gem. This little gem was called Collins Tavern. This establishment existed since 1911. Yes it even survived prohibition. Brian and I pulled up a stool and ordered a beer. After we failed to return, Wendy and John came looking for us. They quickly joined us and we all sat down and began contemplating the next day’s events. Spending time in this Tavern was a real treat. After a short time we headed back to the match hotel to get our credentials and shooter packets. On our way back we called Smith and Wesson for a factory tour only to discover that they no longer did public factory tours. I left a voicemail with a PR person hoping for a call back. We then continued onto our hotel. At the hotel we knew we were at the most heavily armed hotel in Massachusetts. It’s a great feeling to be among so many like individuals. During sign-ins was orderves and beers. I think we all attempted to make a meal out of the finger foods, but quickly realized we were going to need something a little more filling. We all sat down and filled out our release forms. That was a task in itself. We had to sign and have a witness sign several copies of various release forms. I guess when you are one of the largest firearms companies in America you have a few lawyers telling you what to do. After the release wavers we got to visit with Joyce Wilson, Kitty Richards, Terry Burba, Robert Ray, and various other IDPA members and staff. .
On Thursday morning we rose early and headed over to the range. This was it. We all knew the day had come, we were here and now it was time to perform. Shooter meeting, blah, blah, blah.. We quickly head to our bay to get going. We were squaded with the entire Venezuelan shooters With Walt and Austin Proulx from Colorado (Host of the 4th of July Colorado IDPA State match to be announced soon) being the only other English speaking people on our squad till Scott Folk from Apex Tactical joined us when his firearms showed up late.
First Stage of the day for us was stage 3.
SCENARIO: You are serving a simple warrant when things go bad. Deal with the threats as you clear your assigned area.
PROCEDURE: Start standing at P1, hands at sides, loaded to division capacity.
At the signal open door with strong hand, engage T1- charging target and T2- T3 when available. P1 is standing in the doorway, use of cover is NOT required. Proceed to P2 and engage T4 - steel behind it must fall, engage T5 ,T6 & T7 when available. Proceed to P3, engage T8 & T9.
ROUND COUNT: 18
TARGETS: 9 IDPA, 3 Non-Threat
ESP winner 18.10
CDP winner 19.89
ESR winner 20.65
John 25.96 44/316
Brian 29.00 84/316
Wendy 39.52 219/316
Ty 46.51 277/316
On this stage you were standing square in center of door. On signal you opened the door, shoot the charging target, then the two swinger. Proceed to P2 and shoot T4,5,6 then proceed down hallway to finish off the last 3 threats hiding around the corner at the end of the wall at P3.
I shot this one horribly and even missed a head shot three feet in front of my muzzle. As the SO came back to have me sign my card he handed me my moon clip with a single round left in it. How the heck did that get there I thought? Oh well, shake it off and move on to stage 4.
SCENARIO: You don't need no stinkin' scenario. This is a skill drill
PROCEDURE: Start standing at P1, loaded with 6 rounds, holstered, with hands at side.
On the signal, draw and while moving to P2 engage target with 6 rounds free style. Reload with 6 rounds and engage target strong hand only, reload and finish weak hand only with 6 rounds. All magazines loaded to 6 rounds max.
ROUND COUNT: 18
TARGETS: 1 IDPA, 1 Non-Threat
SCORED HITS: Best 6 Above Head Perf. Best 12 Below Neck Perf. CONCEALMENT: Required
CDP winner 15.41
ESP winner 15.46
ESR winner 16.44
Brian 26.95 73/316
Ty 29.01 104/316
John 32.02 140/316
Wendy 46.45 287/316
On this stage The disaster factor was huge and I failed to see that. I dropped 2 head shots which didn't score well. Most people I saw, shot freestyle to the body then strong hand head, and then week hand body. I was really hoping for some retribution on the next stage. Already noticing the seconds behind Brian I am. Time to crank it up. Off to stage 5.
SCENARIO: You are a trained medic and low profile security specialist. Your assignment is to help transport a sick diplomat from an Eastern European country from the airport to a hospital. Unfortunately, several enemy agents have followed you and decided to take action when you are stopped at a crowded intersection. Thinking that you are nothing more than a medic, 2 of them jump out of their vehicle, throw open the ambulance doors, and draw their weapons. You must take action to defend your charge.
PROCEDURE: Start kneeling inside ambulance, both hands on patient.
When the ambulance doors open, draw and engage T1 and T2 in tactical sequence, then engage T3-T6 in tactical sequence.
ROUND COUNT: 12
TARGETS: 6 IDPA, 2 Non-Threat
ESP winner 10.33
ESR winner 10.70
CDP winner 11.82
Brian 18.40 95/316
Ty 20.74 157/316
Wendy 20.81 162/316
John 21.74 182/316
This one was tight. By tight I mean, climb into the van face the back doors and put your gun in this box. At signal grab box and start shooing. The box activated the rear doors to open (they really snapped open) and you were face first to a double drop turner that revealed twice. then swingers on opposite sides of the hummer (wood mock up) with another double drop turner that revealed after the first one disappeared. Seemed like everything on this stage was a mover. There were nothing static to be found. I shot this one well and felt as though all of the bad ones were behind me. Here I come, going to make up the 20 or so seconds to Brian as he charges out for the ESR lead. Next on to Stage 6
SCENARIO: After fending off an attack while transporting your charge, you are pushing him through the Emergency Room where more enemy agents stage another attack. You must eliminate the threat.
PROCEDURE: Start at P1 with both hands on gurney.
On the signal, pull patient to cover using weak hand, while drawing your firearm and engaging T1 & T2 with your strong hand only in tactical priority. Once the patient is behind cover, go to cover on either side of the doorway and engage the remaining threat targets in tactical priority.
ROUND COUNT: 18
TARGETS: 9 IDPA, 3 Non-Threat
Stage thrown out. No scores available
Stage 6 was eventually dropped, it was plagued with mechanical issues and after our squad was being stuck for 2 hours on it with an entire squad jumping us, it quickly became evident that this one was doomed for the trash can. Sucks for Wendy but I was glad to see it go bye, bye after how I shot it.
Stage 6 started with you in the hallway, at signal hit activator with strong hand and engage 2 targets in front before they fell while moving backwards. The go either left or right and engage the rest of the targets. On this stage we received some conflicting advice from SO's on the stage. One said engage = one round, the other said engage = required rounds. None the less I my wheels fell of big time on this stage. I lost track of where I was engaged out of order.T8 activated the mover and I left T7 unengaged to grab the mover before it disappeared. Forgot to renegage T7 and ran to the other side to engage the remaining targets. I missed the mover all together -10, I missed T7 -10 FTN, and various other mike's and -3's for a stage time somewhere north or 70 seconds. Ugh! Is this day over yet !! Wendy came right after me and I watched her lay down a solid 30+ second run. Wow! I got my work cut out now. Time to kick it in overdrive after a short stop for lunch. Sub sandwiches and chips.
SCENARIO: While pumping gas at the Sheetz station near the zoo, three escaped lions attack Kitty. Save her!
PROCEDURE: Start standing with hands relaxed at sides, gun loaded to division capacity and holstered.
Upon start signal, fire 3 shots on lion targets T1 –T3 in tactical sequence.
ROUND COUNT: 9
TARGETS: 3 IDPA, 1 Non-Threat
SCORED HITS: Best 2 On Target
ESP winner 3.35
CDP winner 3.80
ESR winner 7.80
John 5.73 84/316
Wendy 8.40 215/316
Brian 9.19 239/316
Ty 12.09 287/316
The next 3 were simple drills and really don't require much thought. This first one Stage 7 was Tactical Sequence. 1,1,3,1(reload revolver) 1, 2. Simple right? Well I did one, one, three, (open cylinder inspect ***crap*** close cylinder) click click click bang! reload 1,2 for a 10 second run. Now I'm in full chuckle mode. Could this day go any worse? Can I get my money back? What was I thinking coming here to play with the big boys. Why did I get talked into this so easily? lol Off the the next one, Stage 7 ,8 ,9 were all shot back to back, topping off for each.
SCENARIO: While visiting Joyce in her office at IDPA Headquarters, you hear her scream from the foyer. You open her desk drawer to find a firearm and discover a Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 9 MM. Save Queen Tiger!
PROCEDURE: Start standing hands relaxed at sides. Gun Ready Condition: Gun loaded to magazine capacity and on mat.
Upon start signal, pick up firearm from the mat and fire 2 shots on targets T1 –T4.
ROUND COUNT: 8
TARGETS: 4 IDPA, 1 Non-Threat
Winning time 3.73
John 5.84 35/316
Brian 6.63 61/316
Ty 10.00 193/316
Wendy 18.44 287/316
This one had hard cover from center -0 down. The above description doesn't show that but they did. This one was shot with an M&P Shield. Fine carry gun supplied by Smith and Wesson. I dropped one in the tape line center -0 zone for a miss. Not getting much better.
CSO: Your CSO for this stage will be Terry Burba.
SCENARIO: You are visiting Bubba’s Zebra Ranch in Pittsburgh when you see Bubba being attacked by the errant striped animals.
PROCEDURE: Start with your gun loaded to capacity and standing at the port, hands over mouth in shock.
Upon start signal, using the door frame as cover, draw and fire 2 shots on each body, then one shot on each head, in that order.
ROUND COUNT: 9
TARGETS: 3 IDPA, 1 Non-Threat
SCORED HITS: Best 2 On The Body, Best 1 On The Head
ESP winner 3.54
CDP winner 4.25
ESR winner 7.71
John 8.62 191/317
Brian 8.82 199/317
Ty 10.18 241/317
Wendy 11.32 259/317
Then for my final one before rejoining my squad. This one went well and I posted a respectable time. Not that it helps much at this point but I hope to be out of blood since I was unable to stop the bleeding all morning. Seems like I remember there being 4 targets on this one but the description only shows 3?
SCENARIO: You are seated in your camp after a day of hunting, admiring the sunset. Suddenly a gang of bad guy’s, drawn by your cooking fire, attack the camp. Defend yourself.
PROCEDURE: Start seated, hands on knees with gun loaded to division capacity and holstered.
At the buzzer stand, hit the activator button with your strong hand, draw and advance to P1, engage targets with 2 rounds each as they become visible.
ROUND COUNT: 14
TARGETS: 7 IDPA, 2 Non-Threat
ESP winner 13.74
CDP winner 13.78
ESR winner 18.95 Brian Gonsalves
Brian 18.95 37/316
John 19.30 42/316
Wendy 27.64 141/316
Ty 32.56 219/316
This one,^^ also plagued with mechanical issues that got fixed after staff day. This one I found difficult to shoot on a day like I was having. COF, signal, hit activator button strong hand, draw, 2,2,2 on T1-3 before they disappear (reload revolver) engage 4 and 5 before they disappear, then finish the rest. Well I never got my reload done till 4 and 5 were gone. I forgot they revealed twice and moved on only to score a -20 on those two. Bad day just keeps getting worse. Now it is time to just have fun. I kept my chin up (better than past disaster matches) and started cheering on my teammates. I was first to shoot this stage so I hope some of my advise will filter through to my squad mates. .
SCENARIO: You are headed to work on your claim with your partners and discover that claim jumpers have taken them hostage. Free them and defend yourself.
PROCEDURE: Start at P1 with gun loaded to division capacity, holstered, and hands on the pick axe.
At the buzzer, draw and advance to P2, using cover, engage targets with 2 body and 1 head shot each as they become visible, then advance to P3 and finish.
ROUND COUNT: 18
TARGETS: 6 IDPA, 2 Non-Threat
SCORED HITS: Best 2 body and one head on target. At least 1 round above and 1 round below the neck perf.
ESP winner 19.26
CDP winner 23.92
ESR winner 29.47
John 29.51 60/316
Wendy 37.91 148/316
Brian 45.13 213/316
Ty 65.40 286/316
This one was our night stage. It was a pitch black stage. As signal drop ax and engage each target with 3 rounds (two body one head) then repeat at P3. I did OK nothing special. All the night shoots at NVSA didnt help much. I changed my flashlight grip and then couldn't see the targets after what seemed like forever. I got the light repositioned and the rest finished smoothly. Wendy did great on this one as well. She got to re-shoot it after a stage malfunctioned bettering her time by more than 20 seconds, even if she did only top off to 10 rounds. lol (just kidding)...
SCENARIO: You are enjoying a night of bowling with your league when the bowling alley is invaded by armed gang bangers looking to steal everyone’s money. Defend yourself.
PROCEDURE: Start at P-1 with bowling ball in both hands, gun holstered and loaded to IDPA capacity.
On the buzzer, drop the ball onto the pressure pad to activate moving targets. Draw and while retreating to scoring table engage movers, T1 & T2. Using low cover behind table engage remaining targets as they become visible.
ROUND COUNT: 16
TARGETS: 8 IDPA, 2 Non-Threat
CONCEALMENT: Required, Will Be Supplied
STAGE SPONSOR: Speed Shooter Specialties
ESP winner 19.31
CDP winner 23.27
ESR winner 28.66
John 27.01 31/316
Brian 29.08 53/316
Wendy 41.25 177/316
Ty 44.13 202/316 [Jerry 43.29 (20)] almost got him. Lol
This stage was a hoot. It was fun and whimsical. However it had the makings for a terrible scoring stage. This one like every other description doesn't match how it was eventually setup. The final product didn't look anything like the above design however it does follow the spirit of the description. It was a low light had laser light whipping around with a jack in the box prop and pop-outs. tight long shots meant you really needed to have a good sight picture. Rushing this one did not pay off. I shot it ok. Didn't set any records.
SCENARIO: Gang bangers are hell bent on killing you. In the chase they crashed your car and are coming at you for the close-up kill. Take them out.
PROCEDURE: Start seated in the driver's seat. Firearm is loaded to division capacity on the seat, facing down range. Ammunition carriers stowed on the body. Hands on the steering wheel at 10 & 2.
Smash out (push) the windshield of the car with the strong hand. Retrieve your firearm and engage targets T1-T6 through the windshield.
STAGE SPONSOR: GlockTriggers.com
ROUND COUNT: 18
TARGETS: 6 IDPA, 2 Non-Threat
SCORED HITS: Best 3 on Target
CONCEALMENT: NOT Required
ESP winner 10.21
CDP winner 12.66
ESR winner 15.10
John 20.10 120/315
Ty 24.21 192/315
Wendy 24.48 198/315
Brian 45.43 308/315
This was another fun one. You actually climbed into the cab of a pickup truck and were required to draw loaded weapon from seat after knocking the window open with strong hand. Blaze away before the turners disappeared, reload and shoot some more before that turner disappears. Fun fast stage.
SCENARIO: Knowing the area you take heavy precautions, you’ve been here before. You’ve just moored up after a quick day on the water. Now however, a gang of thugs is set on taking you and your family off shore for some retaliation and a long swim holding your anchor. You have other plans.
PROCEDURE: Start Standing at P1, gun loaded to div capacity and holstered.
At the signal, draw and engage T1 on the move to P2. At P2 engage T2 through T4 with two shots each from cover. Once clear move to P3 engaging T5 on the move to P3. At P3 engage T6 through T8 with two shots each. Once you leave cover you may not re-engage former targets (extreme angled shots will impact range walls resulting in a match DQ. T3 is an UP/Down and is a disappearing target. T4 is a swinger.
ROUND COUNT: 16
TARGETS: 8 IDPA, 2 Non-Threat
ESP winner 12.91
CDP winner 13.44
ESR winner 16.50
John 21.87 101/316
Brian 22.00 103/316
Wendy 26.61 174/316
Ty 27.60 183/316
This one was fun. Like all other this one didn't follow all IDPA rules yet knowing that prior to starting allowed you to just shoot it as explained and have fun. Cover was very lazy on this one. Fun stage nice looking with many props.
SCENARIO: It’s been a long time coming but the Hatfield’s and McCoy’s children are getting hitched. Or are they? Grandpa ain’t having nun-o-vit when he puts a shotgun in your back.
PROCEDURE: Start standing at P1, gun loaded to division capacity and holstered.
At the signal, turn and knock shotgun out of your brides line of fire activating T1 and T2 in the aisle, draw and engage T1 and T2 with one shot each while static and then proceed left or right as needed to defend the wedding party. Use Caution as there are many unarmed guest in the church.
ROUND COUNT: 16
TARGETS: 16 IDPA, 6 Non-Threat
SCORED HITS: Best One Shot On Target
STAGE SPONSOR: Panteao Productions
CDP winner 17.92
ESP winner 18.64
ESR winner 23.06
Brian 32.21 67/316
John 33.99 78/316
Wendy 54.64 224/316
Ty 74.40 293/316
This one was GREAT! I have always wanted to shoot a stage that only required one round so that you could use more NT targets. 16 targets allowed for the use of 6 NT targets. There were 2 movers on this. One on the left with a NT attached waving in front of all the threat targets and another one on the right which was a threat target. the mover were activated by motion switch activated when you transitioned to P2.
P1 was start. P2 was all the way to the right, P3 was all the way to the left. All left targets shot from P3 all right targets shot from P2. Great stage wish I could have it over again. The disaster factor on this was HUGE!!! I know a single shot on the -3 was going to be an FTN. I know this going in however I didn't think I would do it 4 times plus a NS target meant my time was horrible. It was an utter disgrace. Oh well the match is over and now its time to drink.
All in all the match was one of the most challenging matches I have ever shot. This is what all State and National matches should be like. Fun, challenging, and separate the top shooter from the average sharpshooters. I would not change much at this match. It brought fun and combined it with difficult challenging stages. There were no gimmicky stages everything (except cosmic bowling) Everything was presented to shoot with fast accurate shots. Great staff, great stages, great range, all I could ask for is to stop requiring strong hand activations, without making provisions for left handed shooters. I have never, never, ever, never shot a stage that required strong hand activation with a left side only activator. Why it seems ok to do it for right handers without making a provision for left handers is beyond me. Not a single stage allowed a left hander to activate a strong side activator. Every right handed shooter got this luxury. Other than that minor inconvenient, it was a well ran match by great people.
After the match we went back to shower, change. We arrived back to the hotel late. 8pm or so. went back down to the hospitality suite and attempted to fill up on finger foods. When that failed again we went and grabbed a quick bite followed up with bed time.
Friday, We woke and headed to the range to check the preliminary scores. I don't know what they were all concerned with it. I shot like crap. So who cares about the scores.
We left the range and went back to the hotel where we meet up with Johns mom and 4 of his sisters. I didn't know they lived so close. We visited with them most of the morning. Like any friend of John, I was quick to ask for all the goods on John. We got a couple of stories out of them but nothing juicy as I had hoped for. Sounded like John was a good kid. John's family was great. Good people and a great visit. Glad we took the time to spend with them. Then about 1:00 in the middle of lunch I get a call from Smith and Wesson. They would be glad to give us a tour. They made themselves available to us as a competitors of their signature match. They told me they were glad to provide a private tour for the four of us but don't mention it to anyone. They didn't want the other shooters or staff to inundate them with phone calls. We kept it on the down low as requested I gave her our names and was directed to be there at 2:00. So after Johns family left we jumped in our rental van and headed over to the factory.
Oh my goodness. I can not believe we would soon be in the bowels of Smith and Wesson. We arrived and was plagued with the attitude of a single security guard that either hates people or hates himself. I don't understand why some people feel the need to be-little others. There is nothing pleasant about dealing with jerks like this. The great part was that it was short lived and we soon found ourselves inside with the volunteer who was assigned to give us our tour. He was a retired employee of Smith and had a great knowledge of the inner working of this factory. What a treat to walk around and see this factory which is currently running 24/7 at full capacity. The number of machines in mind blowing. all the Cylinders barrels and frames ...C-R-A-Z-Y... We got to watch cylinders get roboticly polished only to have a human do the flutes by hand on EVERY cylinder produced. We got to watch the M&P 9mm barrel evolve from bar stock to finished product. Drawing the rifling button cutter was amazing. All the tools and dies are not bought, they are all made by them in their tool and die shop. The tour lasted about an hour and a half and was truly amazing. I had no idea that the revolver barrels were mostly all done through a electro acid etching process to rifle the barrels. Only some of the larger .416-.500 X frame barrels were conventionally rifled. I did not know this. At the end of the tour we received a goodie bag and then left back to the hotel.
Back at the hotel we got to visit with more shooters. I really enjoyed the short time I got to socialize with Bobby McGee, Bob Vogel, and Josh Lentz. Having a pretty lady on my arm certainly helped visit with the super shooters (note to self). She was flattered at the number of people approaching her to find out how she did. I later picked up some great tips and tricks from Josh that Im looking forward to trying out. Now I just need to find me a full lug 686 to start playing with. Late night dinner turned into a great evening again with friends.
Saturday was the super squads turn at the range. We headed back over to the range Saturday morning to watch. We brought our eyes and ears and quickly joined them on the range. Up first we got to watch Jerry, Randi, Josh, Bobby, shoot stage 1 and 2. Up first was Josh who quickly earned an FTN and a PE. Wow! maybe my score wasn't so bad. The theme all morning was that the Super Shooters are human. They all struggled with each stage. It was nice to know that our squad wasn't alone. This was a challenging match. While the Super Shooters struggled their talent allowed them to still rise to the top. Their disasters were better managed and cost fewer points. That is why they are super shooters. We hung out at the range most of the morning till lunch. When Lunch time came we all decided to head back to the Collins Tavern. We had so much fun there on day one we decided to head back and enjoy a little relaxation prior to the Awards Banquet.
Later that evening we headed to the Awards Banquet held at the Basketball Hall of Fame center. The four of us sat down and was quickly joined by Julianna and John Crowder (http://www.agirlandagunclub.com) , Randi Rogers, Gordon Carol. Wow. Some of the best including High Lady, right here at our table. I was feeling a little star struck. The meal was good and the conversation was better. Interacting with so much great talent, laughing and joking made for a grand evening. To top it all off my name was drawn to receive one of the 21 prize table guns to give away. H&K P30 Not a bad way to finish it all off. After the banquet it was off to bed for an early morning start to a long day back to the west coast.
My final thoughts was everyone should attempt to go if they can save the money to do it. It is not a cheap endeavor. For Wendy and I it was $920 for flight and luggage. $280 1/2 rental mini-van for a week. $590 for a room, $300 match fees. $600+ in meals. for a grand total of $2690. You have to really enjoy this sport to pay this kind of money to go torture yourself to at one of these high caliber matches. My guess is the majority of competitors live on the east coast with 70% of attendees driving and or commuting each day.
58 of 308 John Mercurio
114 of 308 Brian Gonsalves
211 of 308 Wendy Hamby
242 of 308 Ty Hamby
Will I go next year? Absolutely if money allows. Finances for next years competitions are yet to be know.