I showed up at the Phoenix Rod & Gun Club at 0700 this morning. I didn't have a code to get through the gate, so I waited for the crowd to show up and followed them in. Being the youngest shooter there, I immediately stood out. I waited for the event director to show up. The week prior, after a lengthy phone conversation, he agreed to provide me all the necessary gear a bullseye shooter would need. This included the shooting case (that was required to compete) and the mounted scope. I was too rushed to begin using the scope at the beginning, but it made a difference when viewing the 50 yard targets.
The competition was for the service pistol. I saw both the M9 and the 1911. It was a 90 shot competition worth 900 points. As soon as I showed up I picked a spot to set up on the firing line. A few seconds later I realized the canopy was too low and I would not be able to see or shoot my target. Apparently 6'4 is an uncommon height for a shooter. The 40 lane shooting line only had one spot to shoot from that did not have a low canopy. So, I politely had the shooter there relocate.
After that fiasco, I decided to be very up front with all of the other competitors that it was my first time. I knew they would have found out eventually. Luckily they were very willing to help me along. Especially when I was told I needed to score another person's target. The person I was grading kept challenging my initial ruling. I can already tell people will do whatever it takes to get the highest score, point by point. My focus today was instead on hitting the paper. Which to no surprise, is difficult when each shot must be fired one handed.
As far as my handgun, the Springfield Armory 1911 handled well. I had picked it up from my gunsmith at Camp Pendleton the day before leaving for Arizona. He had made a few adjustments so that the weapon would cycle consistently. This competition was the first time the gun had zero problems. For the gun to start working reliably for the first time on competition day is a miracle. The only problem I had was the gun started getting dry around my 70th shot, but the lady next to me (who flew from Wyoming to compete) let me use her gun lube. She gave me the tip of spraying all over the top of the magazine when wanting to make your gun wet. Especially when short on time. I had only seconds to get my gun lubed again between reloading and scoring the targets.
Overall, the match was longer than I thought, but it still went by quickly. I was constantly running back and forth trying to get my footing on the tempo of the competition. Everyone was very nice, but its important to spend more time observing than shooting. I was encouraged to participate in the second relay whenever possible. This will allow ample time for watching the match progression and nuances. The benefit is that during the competition you can focus more on shooting, instead of focusing on not looking like a fool. Half way through I was able to make the switch.
I have included a few pictures of the firing line, targets, and the free gear provided to me. The picture of the firing line also shows a few Airmen. And I also recognized a few of them had on their Presidents Hundred tabs. Lucky them!