Thoughts From My First Carbine/Handgun Match

Shooting an AR-15 with an LPVO at a match was a first for me recently. It was a fun new experience that shed some light on a few things I should have known and on a few things that I didn’t know. Also, I might be a LARPer and I’m okay with that.

A couple of weeks ago, I participated in my first two gun style match. The match followed a format similar to an IDPA match and even used the old IDPA scoring rules. While matches aren’t a new thing for me, this is the first time I used the Daniel Defense DDM4 V11 in a match as my primary weapon in the Rifle Optic division. It was also the first time in over a year that I put rounds down range with it. The result was a grand ole time that came along with some lessons learned and some lessons relearned. This post contains my thoughts and mental notes after my first match. Take what I write with a grain of salt.

First things first. LARPing is fun. It’s been a good while since I put on the “battle belt”, threw a few magazines in the mag pouches, put a pistol in the holster, slung a rifle on and sent lead down range. In my opinion, it’s a good set up with quality gear that I don’t use very often. Certainly not as often as I would like to and maybe should. The truth is it felt a lot like playing dress up in tactical gear. It was functional fun.

Local matches are a great way to test your gear and your skill. As I already mentioned, the gear I used is of high quality. I’ve used it enough to have faith in it. However, I had yet to use it in a competitive environment where there were multiple targets at very close distances (nothing further than 20 yards and most targets between five to fifteen yards) in a dynamic environment. The belt, mag pouches, holster, and pistol worked great. The general purpose rifle not so much. I learned that the eye box on the Vortex Razor LPVO isn’t very forgiving to not having a perfect cheek weld. The fast shooting, rapid transitions, and dynamic movement resulted in me using the reticle quite often and I lost a lot of time reacquiring it. That’s not to say the LPVO is bad, because it isn’t. Rather, it may not be the right tool for the job. Thankfully the offset Aimpoint red dot allowed me to adapt and perform much better in later stages when I remembered to put in play.

This brings me to my next lesson I’ve had to relearn yet again. Shooting is a perishable skill. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. I’ve spent a lot of time developing pistol skills this year. Aside from the recent dry fire I’ve done with the AR and the Mantis BlackbeardX, I really haven’t done much else this year to maintain my rifle skills and it showed. I had to make a conscious effort to do simple things that should be automatic such as properly mount the rifle or change magazines. I knew my performance wasn’t going to be stellar, but I didn’t expect it to be as bad as it was. Bottom line is we have to get out there and practice.

Last but not least, the match got me thinking a lot about the general purpose rifle which I’ve designated as the home defense rifle. It’s a solid rifle and it is quite capable for its designated role and more, but it’s not as optimal as a rifle specially configured for that role could be. I’m not in a hurry to reconfigure the rifle or obtain another for that specialized purpose, but the wheels in my head are turning. Before I whip out the wallet and spend money, I’m going to dedicate some time to practice and attend a few more of these matches. I want to make sure the ideas that are in my head are a side effect of a bad performance. This is a key thing to remember: we can’t buy skill, we have to earn it and that takes time.

That about sums up my thoughts. If anything is to be taken away from reading it, then it should be the thought process that followed. Hope some of y’all find this insightful. The video of the match is embedded below for those of you interested in seeing what a match of this format is like.

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