The World Shoot stages were simply beautiful. Courses of fire had either Greek cultural themes or those that featured the region’s history and mythology. The work that went into building and painting them was extensive. They were also challenging, especially for US competitors. Even though the United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA) is a region of the International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC), we have our own set of rules and even have different divisions. The World Shoots I have attended have also featured a different style of shooting. Less shooting on the move, targets on average at further distances, fewer reloads and many more short courses are just some of the ways IPSC differs from USPSA. It’s not bad, it’s just different!
US shooters can find themselves at a disadvantage at IPSC matches where they have less experience in this genre of practical shooting. How different can they be? Well, I made up a little chart to compare the two in the Production Division.
IPSC production rules also cater to heavy firearms with the first shot fired in double action mode and subsequent shots fired in light single action. These widely used models in IPSC can carry a price tag in excess of $2500! Heavier than some Standard/Limited division firearms and with elaborate slide cuts, they are actually specialized pistols with simply a double action first shot that meets the five pound IPSC trigger weight minimum for the division. For most, the subsequent single action mode features a trigger weight of less than two pounds comparable to that of a custom open race gun. Compared to USPSA rules, one could argue that these guns aren’t truly those the division was designed for, double action or striker fired stock guns that you can purchase easily at your local gun shop. USPSA production rules make inexpensive and readily available factory guns competitive and because of that it is ideal for those new to the sport who may not wish to invest in expensive, specialized equipment.
I chose to compete with my Smith & Wesson M&P 9Ls. My guns are super light in comparison to the ones mentioned above which meant my recoil management had to be superior. The stock M&P trigger is also consistent at a minimum of 5+ pounds for every single shot. Considering the number of stages, over 1/4th in the match, where the gun was completely unloaded or with an empty chamber to start, this is significant. Double action/single action (DA/SA) guns were able to start single action on these stages with no minimum trigger weight. Unlike the other top contenders, I wasn’t shooting a specialized production gun at all. Other than a change to Warren Tactical Sights, my guns were completely stock, right out of the box.
Here’s a break down of the minimum number of rounds on each stage and the trigger weights associated with them between my M&P and the firearms my closest competitors were using.
Looking at this chart, it raises a question. Do IPSC rules sufficiently level the playing field between true double action and striker fired guns vs. the specialized DA/SA guns in Production? Even with the most recent changes for future events that decrease the first shot requirement, is it still enough?
Knowing that my gear wasn’t the “trick” set up, I will say I did have one significant advantage though. I have complete faith in my M&P’s and all my equipment. I have run these guns hard in training for both the World Shoot and the USPSA Nationals, shooting 500-700 rounds daily with ZERO malfunctions. I would bet my life on my M&P’s. That confidence translates to how well I perform on the range.
I had the honor of competing as a member of Team USA made up of incredibly talented women. In fact, every shooter on the US Ladies Production team, Sara Dunivin, Kippi Leatham, Maggie Reese and I, has been or is a reigning national champion. More than that though, my teammates represent the epitome of grace, class and sportsmanship. They are also women I am proud to call friends. We each took our roles seriously, with countless emails leading up to the match and competing together and working as a team at the USPSA Production Nationals in preparation for the trip to Greece.
I felt a lot of personal pressure to perform well after coming off a win at the Production Nationals. I had just one day at home. It was literally just time enough to pack my bags and get as many cuddles in with my little one as possible. I had to have faith that my hard work the weeks leading up to these matches was enough. I felt good and I knew I had laid a good foundation for what would prove to be a challenging event. It was so hard to leave home, especially after being away, but I was ready and looking forward to the experience.
I expected tough courses, elaborate props, and very little time to review stages. In that the World Shoot did not disappoint, but one thing I was not prepared for was the ruthlessness of competition. Walk thrus on our squad were brutal. It was a literally a push and shove match to get just one look on a stage before the miniscule three minute time limit was up. I won’t go into the gritty details, but I will say that not everyone exhibited basic shooter etiquette and competitor courtesy. In all my World Shoots, encountering this was definitely a first for me. Team USA could have taken that route, but we didn’t. Our teamset the golden standard for how competitors should act.
How was my shooting? I had one catastrophic stage that I ended up scoring zero points on. My set screw on my sights came loose and they had drifted, wreaking havoc on a particularly accuracy challenging stage. The fault is all mine as I should have double checked my sights and the oversight (pun intended) cost me. Other than that stage though, I had just one miss and a few minor mistakes in strategy here and there.
Of course, I have to extend huge congratulations and thanks to all those who worked tirelessly to make the event possible, from the volunteers to the coordinators to the match staff and range officers. Everyone who had a role in making World Shoot XVI possible – my applause and many thanks!
The awards ceremony featured a tasty dinner and a very moving presentation when two of my shooting heroes and living legends were awarded the IPSC Lifetime Achievement Award. Rob Leatham and Jerry Miculek were both honored for their dedication to the sport, sportsmanship and exhibiting an enduring, winning spirit. I can’t think of anyone more deserving!
After that, it was the moment we were all waiting for – MEDALS! As a team, we had the opportunity to verify our individual scores the day before, but no results had been posted. I literally had no idea where we were in the standings for both the individual and team events.
I was excited when my name was called up as the silver medalist in the individual ladies production event (video to come). Congratulations to Maria Guschina who shot an incredible match and won gold, my teammate Sara Dunivin who took the bronze and all the division, special category and team winners. The results for Team USA? My teammates and I were proud and excited to win the silver and the contingent from the United States won a total of 31 medals!
Looking at the numbers I have to say I feel very accomplished. My trigger finger got a 2,300+ pound workout on challenging stages. I shot with a true stock gun, one I can confidently use outside of sport to protect myself and my family. I carried myself in a way that I will never be ashamed of and will be able to share with my daughter one day. And, I placed second in the world with my amazing teammates and individually. I am pretty darned proud of that!