A contact of mine at Target Barn hit me up about a new Stage Builder tool that they have recently released. Stage Builder is a web-based tool for building competitive shooting stages for sports like IDPA, USPSA, and so on.
I’m not a stage designer, but I have to admit I had been giving it some thought recently, so I did play around with it.
The good news is, it’s easy and intuitive to use. The stage above was put together in about five minutes. You can create simple stages without a lot of hassle. If I was building IDPA or multigun stages, this tool would work quite well. The stage description feature is also appreciated, not to mention that you can save your stages.
The bad news is that it doesn’t necessarily have all the features you may expect. I was a little surprised I couldn’t easily label props/targets (had to make separate labels), or that there wasn’t a simple way to show distance marks for scale. I also felt that walls and shooting areas probably could have had their own native functions instead of being props and squares. A list of total props used would also be good, given the constraints many ranges have on equipment. Perhaps later versions of the tool will have these features?
Overall, I think this is a very convenient alternative to some other stage design software, and if I were designing a match with less complex stages, I’d be using it. The killer app here very well might be sharing stages with friends, perhaps even as some sort of community of stage builders.
While hanging out on Discord awaiting primer notifications and checking out the dankest memes, I heard some chatter about a new advanced class that was being put on by David Wampler in collaboration with Kevin Gorospe, and that it was amazing. Honestly, I had no idea who these guys were, but some Internet research showed they were legitimately top-level shooters with a lot of good knowledge to share. Plus, it was a one-day Sunday class on a free Sunday, and not a ton of money… things were lining up such that it seemed like a great idea to go. I signed up on @gw_collab Instagram and this past Sunday, I saw what it was all about.
It’s been about six months since I’ve taken a class. This was not entirely intentional (a TOC class got cancelled in the interim), but is in line with my goal of being more selective with how I use my time vis a vis classes vs competition.
When I saw the post from Green Ops on Facebook that they would be hosting an advanced competition class, I jumped on it. I literally signed up minutes after seeing the post. I know I have deficiencies with movement and stage planning, and a class that could help me fix those things would be absolutely worth it.
2021 has been… wow. Quite a year. The pandemic let up briefly for a couple months in the summer with the vaccines being nearly 100% effective, and then it was back to living with Delta (and now, Omicron, I guess). But I still accomplished a lot this year, so I feel good looking back – and forward.
While I recently spent a lot of time and money upgrading my multi-gun competition rifle to a high standard, I didn’t forget about my competition PCC. Whenever I go out and shoot Steel Challenge, I like to do the “two guns” thing and shoot both a PCC and a pistol. I figure most of my investment is time, and I may as well shoot as much as possible while I’m at the match.
The experience with my competition PCC hasn’t been smooth. In fact, I’d probably say it has been the most finicky ARs I’ve ever built. I spent a lot of time just getting my basic functionality working, and then I later had a very unfortunate catastrophic failure when a bullet got stuck in the rifling during manual extraction. But I persevered through those problems, and wound up with a reliable, accurate PCC. Now I’m on the next step: increasing performance.
Now that my shooting year is over, it’s time to write my annual “year in review” post. Obviously, it has been an utterly nutty year with the pandemic, and it’s made a real impact on my ability to train and attend matches. Still, I got a lot done!
Every so often, I go through what I refer to as an “upgrade cycle”, where I make a bunch of similar upgrades to my guns. In this case, it was optics. The sighting system is a major component of every weapon system, especially rifles. As I develop as a shooter, I am starting really understanding what I need to make my guns perform at the level I need them to. I’m also trying to divest out of Chinese optics to the greatest degree I can; sometimes it’s hard, but I’m slowly making progress.
In this case, I decided to replace the optic on my 5.45×39 AR-15. This is a 16″ rifle built on the Adams Arms piston system, with Magpul SL furniture. It’s not a precision rig – the handguard isn’t free-floating – but it’s always worked reliably for me, and the ammo’s cheap even when other ammo isn’t.
After sorting through my options, I found an interesting recommendation from the folks at the BrianEnos forum: the C-More C3 1-6×24 scope. C-More is not well-known for their scope line, but the reviews were quite emphatic that it was about 95% of a Razor Gen II-E for about 2/3 the price. This seemed like a great value proposition, so I decided to buy one and see if it measured up!
I am a huge fan of the AGC 3 gun matches, and was really very disappointed when the January one was rained out. I made sure I would hit the one on Sunday, and I had a great time. Stage by stage walkthrough follows, but I was 30/48 and 10/16 in my division (Tac Scope).
As I’ve progressed as a shooter, I try to tailor the classes that I take to address my particular needs. It’s a little hard to list out my needs, as my shortcomings are myriad, but tightening up my speed while maintaining accuracy is certainly high on my list. When I saw Justified Defensive Concepts’ 2020 schedule, and the Speed Shooting & Shot Calling class on it, I knew I was not going to miss it.
If you want some indication just how much I was not going to miss it, here’s the story. I am writing this AAR from Las Vegas, where I will be attending SHOT Show for the first time. I got home from this class at 11:15 PM on Sunday night – as expected – secured my weapons, went to sleep at 11:30 PM, and woke up at 4:15 AM on Monday to catch a flight to Las Vegas. That is punishing, and I was pretty fatigued on Monday, but I think it was worth it.
In an effort to start off 2020 right, I participated in the unsanctioned Steel Challenge match at the AGC range near Baltimore. I have never shot Steel Challenge before, so this was going to be an interesting experience. I was a little disappointed that it wasn’t going to count towards classification, but in a way, maybe that was for the best.