USPSA status update

As I have mentioned before (and here) on the weekend of June 3rd and 4th I took the USPSA Range Officer class. I procrastinated some on the take home test and turned it via email on Saturday June 17th. On Sunday, June 18th I participated in the USPSA match at Marysville Rifle Club. A few minutes before the match started I received an email from the instructor saying I had passed with a 96% and was once again a certified RO. There were lots of ROs on my squad and I didn’t exercise my newly acquired RO powers.

After having some misses in the first two stages I did do well enough in the classifier that I bumped my classification score up to just barely into B class again (60.2098%, B class is 60.0% to 75.0%) after turning in C class classifiers for several years.

When I was shooting matches regularly in the late 90s I had a classification as high as 68.5272% with occasional individual classifier scores above 75%. But I basically stopped shooting for several years. What is interesting to me is that my skill level, according to various drills I have kept records of, is now as high as it ever was but my classifier results are a much lower percentage than they were before.

When I took the Intensive Handgun Skills class in February of 2016 the instructor, Greg Hamilton, commented that USPSA classification levels have dropped about one full class in the last 15 or 20 years due to the increased skill level of the top shooters. Shooters are classified according to what percentage of the best shooters scores they achieve. So if the best shooters improve and you stay the same your classification level will drop.

<Heavy Sigh>

I was hoping to make A class someday but I should have put the effort in 20 years ago when I was younger, quicker, and it was easier. I’m now in a Red Queen’s Race to just hold on to my B class status.

And their point is?

From The Washington Post:

The gunman who opened fire on a GOP baseball team in Virginia had a local storage locker with more than 200 rounds of ammunition that he visited daily, including less than an hour before he shot more than 60 times at the team during a morning practice June 14.

I sometimes reload 200 rounds in the morning before I go to work. And then I shoot that many or more at the range at lunch time.

This explains why he got so few solid hits. He didn’t practice enough. But they don’t even suggest anything along those lines.

[sarcasm] I wonder what their intended point is? [/sarcasm]

To me this demonstrates their ignorance and/or maliciousness.

Quote of the day—Kevin Imel

If you are good enough shooter to shoot a perfect double then you are a good enough shooter to put them a little bit apart.

Kevin Imel
USPSA NROI Range Instructor
June 3, 2017
[This was at the range officer class I was taking a couple weeks ago.

“A double” at a USPSA match is two bullet which created a single hole (which may be oblong in shape). “A perfect double” is two bullets which created a hole which is a perfect circle.

A shooter will get credit for two (or more) shots which are distinguishable but not if they are indistinguishable (a perfect double).—Joe]

New shooter report

Nearly everyone I work with is a shooter. I have two peers. One was in the army for several years then helped build targets for Boomershoot this year as well as participate. The other has more NFA toys than he is willing to tell me about. My lead is former special forces. My boss is a former cop. His boss, our director, and her husband have helped make the targets for Boomershoot for the last three years as well as participate.

There was one exception. The intern. Caitlin’s last day as an intern will be next week. After a break she will return as a full time employee in August. She did well as an intern but there was a flaw. She hasn’t done any shooting since she was 10 or 12 years old. And it wasn’t that much.

Today, we set out to fix that flaw.

I started her out with some dry fire and she was rock solid. No jerking the trigger, excellent follow-through, and she picked up the mechanics almost instantly.

I put her on a suppressed .22 pistol with slow fire at about eight feet. She was nailing it with about a 1” group. Okay, 12 feet. The group size increased some but still well within the black of the target. Okay, 20 feet. Still in the black.

Okay, let’s try something else.

I removed the suppressor to reduce the inertia and put the target at about eight feet. I had her starting at low ready and then put one shot on each of the four bull’s-eyes. Her splits were probably 1.5 seconds and she was still nailing the targets. She shot magazine after magazine and kept the shots all in the black with the splits decreasing into the sub one second range:



I got out my powder puff loads for the .40. She couldn’t hold the gun firm enough to get reliable cycling but said the recoil wasn’t a problem so we tried a couple rounds of major power factor. She shot those just fine. No recoil issues. So, I gave her a full magazine.

Start at low ready and put one shot on each target…

Still almost exclusively in the black with the splits again approaching one second:


Okay. She’s a keeper for our team.

Quote of the day—David Hardy

What we’re seeing is a long term trend as Americans rediscover their love of guns and shooting. This is catastrophic for the antigun movement.

David Hardy
June 5, 2017
Additional confirmation of a theory
[At the USPSA range officer class last weekend a data point was mentioned that supports this view. The observation was made that local USPSA matches have a lot of people in them. The last match I was at (May 21st USPSA match at the Marysville Rifle Club) had 108 shooters.—Joe]

Quote of the day—Kevin Imel

A .38 Super vasectomy is not recommended.

Kevin Imel
USPSA NROI Range Instructor
June 3, 2017
[Kevin said this just after showing a video of a USPSA shooter almost shooting himself due to the compensator on his open class gun catching on the pocket of his loose fitting short during the draw.

Participating in USPSA matches are extremely safe. As near as USPSA records can determine no one, in 40 years of the sport, has ever died due to being shot while participating in a match. There have been heart attacks and auto accidents while going to and from matches which resulted in death, but not shooting accidents. Skiing, high school football, and a lot of other sports are far more dangerous.

But, the potential is there for serious injury or death and it is the job of the range officers to keep it safe.

I’m taking the USPS Range Officer class again because I let my RO certification expire in 2014. I just wasn’t shooting enough in 2012 and a few of the following years. I’m now shooting a lot more and I am going through the class again to get caught up with all the changes in the rules since the last time I took the class in 2012.—Joe]

Rounds in the last month

I reloaded 1899 rounds of .40 S&W this month. They were all 180 grain Black Bullets for USPSA style matches. And nearly half of them were loaded last Monday: 


This brings my lifetime reloaded ammunition totals to:

223.log: 2,424 rounds.
3006.log: 543 rounds.
300WIN.log: 1692 rounds.
40SW.log: 66044 rounds.
9MM.log: 21,641 rounds.
Total: 92,344 rounds.

I’m getting down to the last of the powder I use for these bullets and will soon be switching over to 180 grain Montana Gold JHPs I use for practice. I probably only have 500 or so left. So, on Monday I ordered three cases (7500 bullets). Looking at my order history on the Montana Gold web site I noticed something interesting:


It was almost exactly a year ago that I ordered the same quantity. The pile of bullets in this picture (over 22,000 bullets) is now just one case and a few small boxes. I have enough loaded ammo with Blue Bullets and Black Bullets (match only) that I probably won’t need to purchase any more of those this year. But I can see the end of the Montana Gold ammo and bullets approaching since I use those up in practice fairly rapidly.

0.005” makes the difference

Nearly a year and half ago I started having problems with my STI DVC. Sometimes the trigger pull would be MUCH greater than others. At times it would be so great that I could barely get it to fire. And it only happened at matches! On the next stage it might be just fine. It would never do that while in practice or when I was drying firing it at the bench at home.

Then, finally, three weeks ago, Ry and I were in the training bay at West Coast Armory and it did it again. I dropped the magazine, ejected the round in the chamber and tried dry firing it several times. It was just fine.

Okay. What gives?

I put the magazine back in and chambered a round. Impossible trigger pull. I dropped the magazine, ejected the round, and dry fired again. Just fine.

Magazine in and dry fire? Nope. It was a heavier trigger pull than I could manage.

I pulled on the trigger as I slowly removed the magazine. CLICK!

It’s the magazine! How in the world does the magazine affect the trigger pull? I tried it with other magazines. Three out of my eight magazines had the problem. Visual inspection did not reveal anything different about them.

This explains why it only happened in matches. I almost always use different ammo in practice than at matches (the indoor ranges where I practice require copper jacketed bullets and I shoot polymer coated bullets at matches) and the magazines with some left over match ammo are not used in practice. It finally happened that I removed the match ammo from the proper magazine and used that magazine in practice.

A day or two later I had the time to diagnose the problem with the magazines. I did some measurements and found the “bad” magazines were about 0.005” longer than the “good” magazines at the spot where the trigger bow goes around the magazine:


If the magazine was 1.366” or less everything was fine. The “bad” magazines were in the range of 1.367” to 1.371”. The 1.367” magazine had a noticeably harder trigger pull but not so much that it was much more than “odd”. And even with the 1.371” magazine if the trigger were pulled off to one side or the other rather than straight back then it would fire much easier.

I suspect the problem is really with the trigger bow rather than the magazines. If the magazine easily fits in the magazine well the gun should work. But putting the magazines in the vise with a couple blocks of wood and squeezing them 0.005” seemed less risky to me than messing with the trigger bow. My gun now works just fine with all the magazines.

I really should get the STI Trigger Stirrup Die from Brownells for the proper fix.

Man, that was a perplexing problem for such a long time.

Memorial Day sales on optics and targets

Optics Planet has more than just optics. They have holsters, flashlights, knives, bags, cases, and other stuff. 10% off on order of $50+. Coupon code SALUTE:


MGM makes innovative steel targets and sells some cardboard targets (this is where I buy all my USPSA targets) as well. 15% off with Code MDS2017 (the 15% discount does not apply to cardboard targets):


I suppose the brass is good.

At Boomershoot this year someone gave me several boxes of assorted .40 S&W ammo (562 rounds) and told me to appraise them and give them credit for Boomershoot 2018. In the collection was this:



$9.00 for five rounds? What does a box of 20 sell for these days without all the fancy packaging? Oh. $62. No thank you.

As an engineer I’m frequently annoyed that crappy products in the hands of the “right” marketing and sales people can be a success. And furthermore that marketing and sales people can get away with outlandish claims. At the face of it this appears to be one of those instances.

A quick Internet search indicates my hunch that the claims exceed the function is correct:

.40 “EXTREME SHOCK” Ammo Gel Test and The Box O’ Truth #23 – ExtremeShock Ammo and the Box O’ Truth.

But my favorite find of the search is a description of how the bullets are made:

They’re, in fact, made up of a special compound derived from Chuck Norris’ beard hair. The hairs are ground into a special powder and mixed into a paste with Jack Bauer’s tears. The paste is then forced into molds of bullets created from the bones of John Wayne. The molds are super heated, then rapidly cooled by the cold stare of Clint Eastwood.
It was on “How it’s Made”…

Well, I suppose the brass is good and I can reload it.

Easy and difficult

Speed steel shooting has sometimes been called “drag racing with a handgun”. While this is almost always true the stage designer can give you a wide range of challenges. The Holmes Harbor Rod & Gun Club Fun Steel match on March 25th, 2017 was the widest range of difficulty I had ever seen in a single match. One stage only took me 1.52 seconds to shoot. Another took 4.97 seconds. Here’s the video:

Match wise, I won the rimfire iron sight division with an average shot time of 0.6658 seconds per shot. I came in dead last in the centerfire iron sight division (I had problems with my gun again—details in another post).

Here are the final scores:

Brian L.          PCC-O       45.31
Jon S.            RF-O          54.86
Brian L.          RF-RV-O    58.51
Dan L.            RF-O          63.00
Jim D.            RF-RI-O      63.81
Joe H.            RF-I            66.58
Jeremy P.      CF-I            79.85
Craig J.          RF-I            80.29
Jon S.             CF-O          82.44
Thomas A.     CF-O          85.49
MAC                RF-RV-I     93.16
Roy L.              CF-O         95.15
Craig J.           CF-I           101.38
Roy L.              CF-I           101.44
Thomas A.      CF-I           103.21
Scott B.           RF-RV-I      104.78
Roy L.              CF-I            107.51
Thomas A.     CF-S           109.63
Dan L.             CF-LR         117.82
Scott B.          CF-RV-I       118.46
Bret C.            CF-I             127.46
Joe H.            CF-I             132.58
Brendan         RF-I             142.51
Alaska B.       CF-LR          274.21
MAC               CF-RV-I          DNF

Update: Stage pictures.


The two small plates in the center were not visible to someone of ordinary height. This picture was taken from a viewpoint of approximately 7.5 feet above the ground.

USPSA match results

It’s been a several months since I shot in a USPSA match. I practiced a bunch in the previous two weeks but I completely forgot to practice one handed shooting. I remembered this as I was driving to Idaho to work on the weather station but then it was too late to do much about it. I had an extremely busy weekend and I was suffering from a lack of sleep and decided sleep had a higher priority than even a few minutes of dry firing.

Two of the stages had some one-handed shooting and I did okay on them (in fact, I won one of the stages). Overall I felt I did okay but not great (especially the classifier). When I looked at the overall results (Limited Division) I was surprised:

Lewiston Pistol Club USPSA-May 2017 – 2017-05-14

Match Results – LTD
Place Name No. Class Div PF Category Match Pts Match %
1 Huffman, Joe TY29386 B LTD Maj Senior 339.3213 100.0000 %
2 Meyer, Wade A95272 C LTD Maj 330.5290 97.4089 %
3 Piper, Steve A88114 U LTD Maj Senior 294.2301 86.7114 %
4 Imel, Kevin L2544 B LTD Maj 273.4669 80.5923 %
5 HARRIS, MARK A102929 U LTD Min Senior 262.6431 77.4025 %
6 Smith, Mark U LTD Min Military 205.7575 60.6380 %


What happened?

It turns out that, as in most of the other matches I have done well in, I get the best results when I don’t try to do my absolute best. Not making really bad mistakes yields better results than having a mixture of awesome and catastrophic stages. This was a mixture of mediocre and good. My fellow competitors had a mix of catastrophic and good:

Six Chickens (03-02)
Stage Results – LTD
Place Name No. Class Div Points Pen Time Hit Factor Stage Pts Stage %
1 Meyer, Wade C LTD 57 0 14.66 3.8881 60.0000 100.00 %
2 Smith, Mark U LTD 50 0 17.00 2.9412 45.3877 75.65 %
3 Imel, Kevin B LTD 50 10 15.25 2.6230 40.4774 67.46 %
4 Huffman, Joe B LTD 49 20 11.72 2.4744 38.1842 63.64 %
5 HARRIS, MARK U LTD 53 20 17.76 1.8581 28.6736 47.79 %
6 Piper, Steve U LTD 42 50 10.15 0.0000 0.0000 0.00 %
May Flower Mayhem
Stage Results – LTD
Place Name No. Class Div Points Pen Time Hit Factor Stage Pts Stage %
1 Piper, Steve U LTD 136 40 18.11 5.3009 160.0000 100.00 %
2 Meyer, Wade C LTD 155 10 30.46 4.7603 143.6828 89.80 %
3 HARRIS, MARK U LTD 160 0 37.94 4.2172 127.2901 79.56 %
4 Huffman, Joe B LTD 146 20 30.60 4.1176 124.2838 77.68 %
5 Imel, Kevin B LTD 152 10 34.60 4.1040 123.8733 77.42 %
6 Smith, Mark U LTD 156 10 40.02 3.6482 110.1156 68.82 %
Paper Plates 2
Stage Results – LTD
Place Name No. Class Div Points Pen Time Hit Factor Stage Pts Stage %
1 Piper, Steve U LTD 106 0 15.93 6.6541 115.0000 100.00 %
2 Huffman, Joe B LTD 109 0 19.45 5.6041 96.8533 84.22 %
3 Meyer, Wade C LTD 105 0 20.03 5.2421 90.5970 78.78 %
4 Imel, Kevin B LTD 110 0 21.34 5.1546 89.0848 77.47 %
5 HARRIS, MARK U LTD 113 10 31.93 3.2258 55.7501 48.48 %
6 Smith, Mark U LTD 100 20 32.57 2.4562 42.4495 36.91 %
Brave You Are?
Stage Results – LTD
Place Name No. Class Div Points Pen Time Hit Factor Stage Pts Stage %
1 Huffman, Joe B LTD 69 0 19.36 3.5640 80.0000 100.00 %
2 HARRIS, MARK U LTD 54 0 23.80 2.2689 50.9293 63.66 %
3 Meyer, Wade C LTD 70 30 24.77 1.6149 36.2492 45.31 %
4 Imel, Kevin B LTD 57 40 19.05 0.8924 20.0314 25.04 %
5 Piper, Steve U LTD 55 40 17.51 0.8567 19.2301 24.04 %
6 Smith, Mark U LTD 48 40 23.01 0.3477 7.8047 9.76 %

I forgot to turn on my camera for the first stage we shot (May Flower Mayhem) but here are the other stages:

Boomershoot 2018 registration

Registration for Boomershoot 2018 will be opening up for everyone on Sunday May 14 2017 at 9:00 AM PDT. Sign up here.

Boomershoot 2017 participants and staff will already have registered so jump on it to get the best remaining positions.

This is what Boomershoot 2017 participants created and saw after the opening horn to indicate commence fire:

Be a part of Boomershoot 2018.

Quote of the day—MILF Hunter

If there was to be zombie apocalypse I know where to go now.

MILF Hunter
March 2017
Comment to the above video.
[I would want a place with lots of fuel, medical supplies, food, and water as well. Earth moving equipment so you could make defensive trenches and bury the zombies would be nice too. But, I agree, this guy would be a good person to have as a friend in such circumstances.-Joe]

Overheard at Boomershoot 2017

Boomershoot was very well received this year even if the fireball was a failure (it didn’t ignite).

Some were via email and text message, but still…

At the Saturday dinner:

That was the best speech I have heard at Boomershoot in the last ten years.

At High Intensity:

This was the most fun I have ever had with my AR.

At the Long Range event:

I usually get about four or five boomers. This year I lost count.

Via email:

Joe as usual, We totally enjoyed Boomer Shoot 17.

Thank you and your crew AND family for hosting and putting on such an unusual and fun event.

The location is absolutely wonderful.

I totally enjoy the challenges of the venue.

It s great to meet new shooters and running into old friends.

I’m glad you feel appreciation for being Mr Boomershoot, because, as you mentioned, this event impacts more than just the attendees.  Best Western and High Mountain Resort are both outstanding.  The small town atmosphere is a treat when you are coming from Seattle.

Again thank you so very much for the wonderful amazing shooting opportunity.

PS… Oh yeah.  I’ll be there next year. clip_image001

Via email:

Thank you for yet another FANTASTIC event.

Whatever you did with the formula, this year, *KEEP DOING IT!!!*.  I have NEVER, in my 13 (nonconsecutive) years seen fewer targets for the cleanup crew.

Your stated goal for Boomershoot seems to be bearing fruit: the level of marksmanship this year was outstanding, which directly relates to the lack of cleanup targets mentioned above.

Via text message:

I think I figured out the draw for men of big explosives: closest thing to a female orgasm they’ll ever feel! Smile