My last major match of my first year participating major matches came and went. This match, The Come and Take It Texas Shootout, was my first major IDPA match and it was a fun experience with a fair amount of takeaways.
The match was organized by Bandera IDPA and took place on November 11, 2023 at The Ranch in Dilley, TX. This was a pretty big deal as it was the first major IDPA match held in central Texas in many years and Bandera IDPA is intending to make this into a recurring annual event.
The weather was pretty nice. Those of us who are acclimated to Texas summers may have found the morning to be a little on the brisk side, but the cloud cover and cooler temperatures were a welcome reprieve to the summer heat. I’d argue that the cooler weather added a layer of difficulty. Not because of the cold, but because it can make a person complacent to stay on top of drinking water to avoid dehydration which is still a risk in matches as a result of physical exertion. Regardless, exhaustion and dehydration didn’t become an issue. I suspect this was in part because of how efficiently the match was run. Hammer down took place right before 9am and awards were being handed out while folks were eating the provided lunch before 3pm. Running seven squads through nine stages in eight bays in that time frame is a sign of efficiency that can only result from thorough planning. Kudos to the match director, Patrick Flores.
While the stages weren’t complex, the stages were fun and had a good mix of easy to difficult targets. There were a handful of stages that had more than one obvious stage plan which gave competitors an opportunity to pick the most efficient plan for their division constraints. The stages were also relatively straightforward to reset which played an important role in match efficiency. One of things that I appreciated about the match was the creativity put into the scenario design, which included a little bit of Texas history in every stage. This was a nice touch that gave the match a unique authentic flair.
I’m not particularly happy with my performance. I struggled a bit to get moving on the first couple of stages. I was a little stiff and achy which I attributed to my arthritis and cool weather. However, match and peer pressure were certainly present. It’s hard to say how much of a role each of those played into my slow times on the first couple of stages, but I can’t deny that I was over confirming most of the shots I took. Zero downs happened, but the final scores were still lower than I would have liked.
As soon as I started warming up and loosening up, I ended up making silly mistakes. I started dropping points. Several of which were on easy targets where I was impatient and let my eyes leave the target before I was done. Those resulted in dragging second hits into C and D zones or earning an occasional miss.
I also ended up earning two procedural errors. Both of them came from poor stage planning where I failed to consider elementary IDPA rules such as tactical priority on targets in the open (near to far) or exposing myself to a target without a round in the chamber. In hindsight, these stupid errors, and I do mean stupid as they are easily preventable, have a very simple explanation. I didn’t prepare well enough for the match. To be fair, I didn’t have a lot of time to prepare for this match after my previous match which was a major USPSA match and the stage plans I came up with were heavily influenced by USPSA rules that were fresh in my mind. There is a big takeaway here: prepare, prepare, and prepare. Even if there is little time available, deliberate preparation, which I did not do at all, would have helped immensely and would have prevented these silly mistakes.
Along the lines of preparation, which I failed to do (yes, I’m beating myself up over this), I also failed to make the manual of arms for the gun I used the most recent manual of arms. I had been so wrapped up in USPSA and working with the Shadow 2 that when it came time to do my first reload on the first stage, I reached for a magazine release button with my strong hand thumb that didn’t exist on the VP9. I made that mistake only once, but at the cost of precious stage time.
I suppose this is a good time to cover gear. I ran the following:
- Gun: HK VP9 with a Trijicon RMR and XS Sights back up irons
- Belt: Nexbelt Titan EDC Belt
- Mag Pouches: Concealment Solutions Venom Mag Carrier x2
- Holster: G-Code OSH Standard Kydex holster
- Ammo: Federal American Eagle 147gr 9mm
Even though I’m beating myself up here, the day was an absolute blast and it was a good day. Yes, I’m disappointed at my placement which was 64 out of 105 overall, 23 out of 37 in my division, and 9 out of 14 in class. However, I got to spend an entire day shooting with a few good friends who I hadn’t seen a while in a great squad. Chops were busted. Laughs were had. I also walked away with a bottle of bourbon that I won from the randomly drawn awards. Somehow, all four bottles of bourbon that were available in the random award prizes ended up in our squad. I should add that when a competitor was randomly selected for a random award, the competitor got to pick their award from the remaining prizes. Our squad got four random awards and each one of our squad members picked a bottle of bourbon over the other remaining prizes which included higher value gift certificates and gear. Perhaps we are just big dummies, but great minds think alike and all that.
Some of my other takeaways from the match are based entirely on personal reflection and have nothing to do with the match, which, as I’ve said, was run well and was a lot of fun. The first takeaway has to do with what I want to do as far as major matches next year in 2024. The truth is that I have more fun competing in USPSA. I find the matches to be more challenging from a technical standpoint and allowed gear makes for more enjoyable shooting in my opinion. Time and money are finite resources. Major matches require larger time and money investments. That has me leaning more towards sticking with USPSA for major match investments next year. I still find a lot of value and enjoy shooting IDPA, but I am leaning towards limiting my participation to local matches. There is a good chance I will make an exception for this match next year, assuming it takes place again, given the friends I will get to hang out with, but I doubt I will add another major IDPA match to my schedule in 2024.
Another takeaway has to do with manual of arms familiarity with my defensive tool of choice. I don’t often work reloads in dry fire practice. That’s something I’m going to change. Statistically, having to reload in a defensive encounter is an anomaly. Especially when strictly talking about defensive encounters for armed citizens. However, the reload issue I mentioned earlier gave me pause. I don’t want a repeat of that. Not in a match and most certainly not in a defensive encounter when the stakes are the highest. I’m going to include a few reload reps in my daily dry fire practice from now on. Not so much to make them lightning fast, but to keep them familiar. I figure I can do something similar with the competition gear when I’m preparing for a major match where I will be working on making them as fast as possible.
All that aside, The Come and Take It Texas Shootout was a great match. It was also very accessible. Assuming future instances are similar, I think it would be a great option for any IDPA competitor who resides in central Texas and is looking to get their feet wet with major matches to start with.