Last year I decided to dip my toe in the Open Division waters for a season to see what I could add to my overall shooting repertoire and get me over the hump in Production (you can check out my Going Open Series for details). I seemed to have plateaued just under A Class in Production and wasn’t getting past 73%. It seemed to me at the time that I needed to focus on vision and basically, moving faster, so Open Division seemed like the logical place to enter so I could learn to get my butt moving. In other disciplines I’ve competed in the past, moving from iron sights to a dot optic was dramatic, as I seem to work very well with being target focused, so it was an easy sell for me to skip Limited altogether and again, jump into Open. With that rationale in mind, I mothballed my G34 and picked up a STI TruBor.
I have to say, holding a well oiled machine of precision and speed, there is just something alluring about running an 2011 Open race gun. No slop, tight tolerances, triggers that run with simply a gesture towards them; what’s not to love. Well, reliability, tons of maintenance, drifting optics, and losing the dang dot, just to name a few. Answering the siren’s call to go to Open isn’t all unicorns and lollipops, at least not for me. Spending more time troubleshooting than target shooting was really getting old and an unreliable optic was getting me close to throwing the whole thing in the nearest river. Any part that goes on a 2011 comes about 17 feet oversized and must be milled down and fitted into place in order to replace that part, a far cry from the easy to maintain Glock. I swear, I’d probably need a file to put a sticker on my STI. Half the rounds through my TruBor was probably trying to get it sighted in again. You’re probably picking up the subtle tones of frustration in my voice by now, right?
During a recent match I had a malfunction where the gun stopped running, I pulled the slide back to see a round still in the chamber and another round trying to go into battery, classic double feed, right? Trying to get it back online I first tried to tip the gun upside down to shake out the extra round and then as required, you must eject the magazine to allow the slide to move forward without stripping off another round so you can try to free the round stuck in battery. I pressed the magazine release at the same instance I pulled the 170mm magazine out from the bottom, and as I ripped it out, the slide went forward and a slam fire ensued from the cartridge that was still in the chamber. I am ever diligent about muzzle control/awareness so the gun discharged harmlessly into the berm next to a target. No harm, no foul, right? Well, sort of. An AD is an AD and I was DQ’d, not that I was going to keep running an unsafe gun. I holstered, quickly tried to find the ejected rounds/cases (unsuccessfully) as to not hold up the match, and headed strait to the safety area after finding the match director. I had to know what the heck just happened. Unfortunately there was no smoking gun (no pun intended) and I couldn’t induce it to do it again. After watching the video it’s obvious that my finger is up and away from the trigger guard and it wasn’t pilot error. The trigger doesn’t seem to follow the slide so I figure I had a stuck firing pin, or the primer on the stuck round was high or deformed enough to detonate under the force of the slide itself. I’ll probably never know, but it was shipped back to STI for diagnoses. No word yet from them, but I’m sure it’ll be a while before I hear anything back from them. Stay tuned.
At this point, shooting is just not fun anymore, a bad place to be for my favorite sport. The next match at the time was a classifier match that I considered skipping since I didn’t have a backup Open gun, but I wanted to spend the afternoon with my buddies, so I relented and pulled out the Glock, took it to the match. I figured I’d blow the classifiers to the point they wouldn’t count against me since I hadn’t shot an USPSA match in Production in over a year, so why not? Shockingly enough, it was like riding a bike in a lot of ways. I’ve always said that I am a Production shooter at heart, and would return to my trusty G34, which just feels like an extension of my body. The angle just works for me and wherever I look, the sights are just there. Although I had changed my grip somewhat, I did seem to drag a lot of what I’d learned from Open back into Production, most of it good. I managed to blow out a few of the classifiers and miracle of all miracles, accidentally and surprisingly, bumped myself into A Class in Production! And even more importantly, I had fun. Maintenance free, always goes bang (and only when it’s supposed to), easy going fun. Ahhhh….back to Production.
At this point, I’m going to stick with Production for a while, which should be easy since I have no idea when I’ll have my pistol back from STI, but even then, I want to keep things simple and fun for a while. Besides, I still have lots of work to do in Production. Even though I now have an A card, my competition hasn’t stayed still. The Production B class shooters are much better than I am at the moment so have my work cut out for me. These guys are animals.