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The 2017 USPSA Ohio State Championship (Buckeye Blast)

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The Buckeye Blast has become a bit of a Memorial Day weekend tradition within Ohio USPSA – it’s a very well attended, well respected, and highly competitive Level II match.

I’m actually fairly new to USPSA – I got into it basically with the intention of bettering my pistol skills for 3-Gun competition.  Last year.  Late last year in fact.  My first real match was to try my SIG MPX in the then new USPSA PCC division in the Fall of 2016.  I really fell in love with PCC competition and haven’t shot as much pistol in USPSA as I had initially intended.  Since starting in USPSA, I’ve shot three classifier matches, and a couple of club level matches – mostly PCC.  When the match announcement came out about the 2017 Buckeye Blast, I knew I wasn’t ready to be competitive shooting at that level in USPSA.  But I reasoned that it would be good experience shooting a match at that level, and likely fun too – so I signed up.

Once the stages were released for the Buckeye Blast, I decided to change divisions from PCC to Carry Optics.  Having shot a couple of “real” (as opposed to classifier matches) club level matches, I noted that I could move as fast with a rifle vs. a pistol, and navigating all those USPSA style walls was also more challenging with a rifle.  So I decided to throw a SIG Romeo 1 optic on my SIG P320 X-Five and shoot in the Carry Optics division:

The match was certainly big – over 300 competitors which shot on one of three different days (Fri., Sat., Sun.).  Whichever day you picked to shoot (I picked Saturday) you shot all day – and I do mean all day.  Check in at 6:00am, shooter’s meeting at 7:00am, and first shots fired at 8:00am.  We shot a total of 12 stages and didn’t finish up until just after 5pm.  While thunderstorms were in the forecast, we did stay dry, but muggy all day.  The temperature shot up over 80 degrees, which felt even hotter when the sun came out of the clouds and beat down on us.  Several folks on my squad got sunburned pretty badly – given the forecast, no one thought to put on sunscreen.  I’ll be honest – 12 stages in one day is a bit much.  I didn’t have any missed targets or penalties until the last 4 stages – toward the end the fatigue factor really set in and detracted from my enjoyment of the match.

Going into the match, I was hoping to finish in the top half of my division.  I ended up finishing 12th of about 20 so I didn’t quite make it:

Stage 6 (Nuts!) ended up being my best stage – I took 4th in the division.  It was a classifier-like stage with two different arrays (paper and steel).  Shoot 1 array, perform a mandatory reload, and shoot the second array:

It was a fun little “stand and deliver” type stage, but I was suprised they didn’t just use a USPSA classifier stage here – it would have been a nice “value add” to the participants.

Stage 4 (Action Left!) was another stage I was proud of – 27 alphas (A Zone hits) and only 3 Charlie’s, and a completion time of just under 28 seconds for a 32 round course of fire.

They did have a fun little demo stage set up – a target vendor had a PCC rifle and some of his targets set up.  He also had a contest with a playing card – the shooter who got the closest to a bullseye on the playing card would win $300.00 worth of targets.  I think I came pretty close:

WHAT DID I LEARN AND WHERE CAN I IMPROVE?

Overall I did enjoy getting some experience compeiting at that level within USPSA.  I think I prepared well for the match – my accuracy and gun handling was spot on for the match.  I didn’t miss a reload all day.  What I need to work on most is speed – particularly footwork.  I think in most cases I was shooting fast enough (you can always go fast I suppose) but where I can make up the most time is just moving me faster.  I also continue to struggle in the stage planning department.  For some people, seeing the fastest, most efficient way to run a stage seems to be almost second nature – that’s not me.  But the more I’m challened in this area, and the more I see winning stage plans executed, the more I can improve.  Memory stages in particular are problematic for me.

Of course, another dilema for me moving forward in USPSA is shooting Carry Optics vs. PCC.  In an ideal world, I’d like to shoot in both divisions.  Would I have done better in PCC at this match? Maybe.  I go back and forth on this issue.  There were some stages with some modestly longer shots that PCC would have been faster and maybe a bit more accurate (I’m guessing the furthest shot we made was between 50 and 75 ft.).  Most of the match was shooting on fairly close range paper targets, with lots of tight angles, corner shots, and relatively small areas in which to work – not great for PCC IMHO.  But I can’t ignore that a lot of the top performers in the match came from the PCC divsion.  So I’ll have to continue to wrestle with the question of whether I want to shoot USPSA to practice pistol for 3-Gun or shoot for the enjoyment of PCC.

About John B. Holbrook, II

John B. Holbrook, II is a freelance writer, photographer, and author of ThruMyLens.org, as well as LuxuryTyme.com and TheSeamasterReferencePage.com.

*All text and images contained in this web site are the original work of the author, John B. Holbrook, II and are copyright protected. Use of any of the information or images without the permission of the author is prohibited.

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