Sunday, December 27, 2009

LRGC Third Annual Red, White and Blue December

Yesterday I participated in the 3rd annual Red, White and Blue December match at Langhorne Rod & Gun Club.  This is the annual Kalashnikov match run by LRGC.

This year was a bit different from the prior two events.  First, participation was limited to 33 pre-registered shooters, run in three strings.  Second, there was no pistol component, it was rifle-only.  Finally, each shooter ran the course individually, rather than having everyone shoot at the same time.  The match director described the event ahead of time as, "Reflections on a gentle Summertime in Grozny."

Due to really foul weather* and a half flooded range, the planned course of fire had to be changed up a bit.  Anyway, it was as follows:

1. Four steel targets from 200 yards, maximum of 15 shots.  Each steel target was about 2/3 the size of a human torso.
2. Advance to a plywood cutout of a car, neutralize two IDPA targets from urban prone under the car.
3. Advance to another car and neutralize 3 IDPA targets while avoiding a no-shoot target.
4. Advance to a Bianchi Barrier (basically a big rectangle barricade), hit two steel, and neutralize 3 IDPA targets.  Avoid a no-shoot.
5. Advance to barrel and neutralize 3 IDPA targets while avoiding a no-shoot.
6. Advance to a car, neutralize 3 IDPA targets and hit two steel.
7. Hit two small swinging targets about the size of a cantaloupe while advancing.

When advancing from one stage to the next the rifle had to be placed on safe.  At the end of the course it was cleared and placed down while range officers scored targets.

The temperature was in the 40s and it rained all day.  Also, we'd gotten about a foot of snow about a week ago so everything was soaked.  To stay dry I wore my Mountain Hardware Exposure parka, a ball cap, a pair of German surplus rain pants, and Merril Waterproof boots.  I also had a pair of Mechanix work gloves which became soaked rather quickly.

All my foul weather gear performed exceptionally. Except for my hands I'd remained totally dry and warm until I had to advance to position #4, when I found myself in a foot-deep mixture of water and slush.  At that point my nice waterproof boots became buckets.  The second half of the course (stages 4 through 7) was covered in from 8" to 12" of this slop.

The steel targets took one hit apiece to neutralize, while the cardboard IDPA targets.  These required two kill zone hits to neutralize, so I put at least 3 shots into each.  The final targets in stage 7 required one hit apiece to neutralize.

By the time I got to stage #7 my rifle was shaking all over the place so hitting targets the size of melons was not easy, even though the range was about 10 yards.  I really need to get into better shape.

I shot my Century Arms M70AB2T Yugoslavian underfolder AK, fed with Combloc steel mags and one Tapco plastic mag (which came with the rifle).  Ammo was from an older lot of Wolf Military Classic 7.62x39 with lacquered cases.  In the 292 seconds it took me to run the course I went through almost 3 full mags.  The rifle ran like a champ.  It's very smooth shooting and the extra pound or so compared with Romanian stamped AKs helps to reduce recoil and muzzle flip.  I've only had the Yugo for a couple months but it's become one of my favorite rifles.

Shooting a rifle while on the move, in poor conditions, and against the clock is a lot different than on a nice sunny day on a square range.  As you move and your heart races it's harder to keep your rounds on target.  There were also a couple times when I had to wait a fraction of a second for my sight picture to clear from the smoke from oil burning off or steam from the water hitting my rifle.  Unconventional shooting positions like urban prone (where you're laying down and the rifle is almost on its side) are not conducive to the most accurate shooting, either.

Likewise, when your gear is not merely wet but soaked it's harder to run.  Thankfully, the plastic Century furniture provided a secure grip even when wet.  Being a Russian designed rifle, the AK was designed for use in crappy weather when you're wearing gloves, with a nice big selector and charging handle.

To carry my magazines I used a Hungarian surplus AK mag pouch.  I'd prepared my magazines ahead of time with paracord loops to aide me in pulling them out.  I'd also tied a Maxpedition Rolly Polly dump pouch to the strap of the mag pouch but it flopped around too much and I wound up dropping the mags, which is OK in competion but not so good if you're in a fight.  Next time I'll work out something better.  (I'd planned to have it on a belt but said belt wouldn't fit around me while I was wearing a fleece jacket and waterproof shell.  I forgot to check this out ahead of time.)

I wound up finishing in the middle of the pack.  I had problems hitting the steel from 200 yards do to never having fired this rifle at that distance before.  After using up about 10 rounds of the maximum 15 for that stage, I decided to just take the time penalty for the misses and move to stage #2.

All in all, it was another kick-ass event at LRGC and more good hands-on time with my rifle.

*The LRGC Practical Rifle crew holds their events no matter how bad the weather is, unless the conditions are actually hazardous.  E.g., lightning.

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