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Schedule for 2011 USPSA Matches

USPSA has released the official schedule of matches for the Area Championships held across the country. Cheaper Than Dirt! will be sponsoring a number of matches including the Area 1, Area 3, Area 4, Area 5, and Area 7 Championships, in addition to the Texas State Open and Indiana State Championships.

SEDRO-WOOLLEY – The U.S. Practical Shooting Association (USPSA), the leading action pistol organization and national governing body for the sport of practical shooting, announced the 2011 dates of all eight of their popular regional handgun championships.

The 2011 USPSA Area championship schedule is as follows:

“The USPSA regional structure is one of the most exciting and demanding competitive series in the shooting sports,” said Michael Voigt, president of USPSA. “Not only do the matches determine the best of the best in a region, but because of the outstanding level of competition across the country, winning all eight is one of the most difficult challenges in our sport, and has only been done once.”

In 2010 Max Michel of Team Sig Sauer, competing in the Open division, became the first shooter in USPSA history to win the same division title in all eight regions.

With over 19,000 members and 375 affiliated clubs, USPSA is the largest of the action pistol shooting sports. The run-and-gun sport of practical shooting was formally established in 1976 but traces its roots back to the 1950’s and the quick draw “leather slap” competitions that grew out of America’s love affair with the TV westerns of that era.

Today the sport represents the upper echelon of the shooting sports with many of its top shooters actively training law enforcement and military units on shooting techniques and equipment developed in competition.

To learn more about USPSA, or to become a member, visit USPSA.org, follow@USPSA_Shooting on Twitter, like USPSA on Facebook or read the Practical Shooting blog.


Accurately Using A Double Action Trigger

The gun industry has continued to meet consumer demand by producing an immense number of small pocket sized handguns. As concealed carry has grown in legality (and popularity) the demand for these little heaters has also increased dramatically. Smith & Wesson’s Bodyguard line, Ruger’s LCP and LCR, and Kel-Tec’s popular P3AT line all have small pocket sized pistols, and all of these little numbers have triggers that are double action only.

This long heavy trigger is compact, simple and reliable, but it can be difficult for many people to operate accurately. The long pull and heavy trigger weight, relative to a single action trigger, makes negligent discharges less likely by users unfamiliar with the stress of a combat scenario and decreases the chance of an accidental discharge from a foreign object hanging on the trigger when the pistol is carried in a pocket or purse. But these same traits that make the action safe and reliable can make actually firing the handgun more difficult unless the user has practiced with the firearm extensively. The additional force required to pull the trigger can drop the nose of the pistol or otherwise cause the shooter to lose a proper sight picture.

To quickly and accurately use a double action trigger, you first need a proper grip on the handgun and the correct interaction between your finger and the trigger. Without getting into the specifics of a proper handgun grip, your trigger finger should rest on the trigger with only the pad of your fingertip touching the trigger.

Most people who have had at least a minimal amount of training in handgun use are familiar with the phrase “front sight, press.” This of course refers to the action of acquiring a proper sight picture and then smoothly pressing (not pulling) the trigger to the rear. Rather than pulling the trigger with your first joint as one might do when gesturing “come here” with a single finger, with only the pad of your finger contacting the trigger press it straight back. As you press the trigger, focus on keeping a consistent force and speed throughout the press.

Some people say that the first joint of the finger should be used instead of the pad of the finger tip on a heavy double action trigger, but this can cause problems with accuracy. Because of the long arc of a double action trigger, your finger will slide down the trigger face as it is pulled. When using the finger pad, this is not a problem, but if you are using the first joint of the finger tip to press the trigger the motion needed to keep your finger joint in constant contact with the trigger face can cause the pistol to twist. This does not mean that it is wrong to use the first joint of the finger on a double action trigger- don’t misunderstand. In general using the pad is much more accurate, faster and smoother. But heavy triggers and double action triggers with a long arc can be easier to operate using the finger joint. Using the first joint gives you additional leverage that helps operate heavy triggers without dropping the front sight. If you choose to use the first finger joint as opposed to the pad of your finger tip, take care not to “milk” the trigger. Milking or grasping the trigger occurs when using the joint of the finger causes the finger to contact the frame of the gun or allows the entire hand to curl with the trigger finger as part of the motion. For this reason, it is better to learn to use the pad of your finger and, if the trigger pull is too heavy, lighten the trigger or use a different pistol with better ergonomics or a lighter trigger pull.

Pistol manufacturer MasterPiece Arms recently redesigned the trigger of their Protector line of pocket pistols to make it easier to pull and reduce friction as the shooter’s finger slides down the trigger face. This new “Rev B” trigger provides a much smoother and more comfortable controlled trigger pull.

Just as important as the trigger press is the trigger return and reset. Again, maintaining a smooth and consistent speed and pressure on the trigger is important. Think of the trigger return as your follow through. A good trigger return allows you to setup your next shot quickly and accurately.

Coin balanced on the front sightProperly done, a double action trigger pull will not move the front sights at all. The best method I’ve found to practice using a double action trigger involves balancing a coin on the front sight while pulling the trigger. The goal is to be able to pull the trigger through the full range of motion until the hammer drops (or the pin fires) without dropping the coin. The larger the coin, the more difficult it is to balance it properly. With most front sights it’s fairly easy to balance a dime or penny on the top. Nickels and quarters are more difficult, but as you get better with your double action trigger control you can move to a larger coin.

It doesn’t take much practice to get smooth and consistent when using a double action trigger. If you are unable to work the trigger using the pad of your finger tip, you can use the first joint for better leverage, but be aware that this can have a detrimental effect on accuracy and can build bad habits.

3-Gun Champion and Top Shot Competitor Maggie Reese

Maggie Reese is well known on the 3-Gun circuit as one of the fastest shooters in the Open division. Her journey onto the national stage as a top level shooter is a bit different than most. She didn’t get started shooting until the age of 18 and, until a few years ago, never shot more than steel and bowling pin matches using her .45 caliber race gun. Now however, she’s a force to be reckoned with in USPSA handgun and multigun competitions.

Maggie also appeared on the History Channel’s reality TV show Top Shot as one of two female contestants. She was gracious enough to grant us an interview following her elimination from the competition, and we discussed her background in the shooting sports along with her experience on the show.

Cheaper Than Dirt How did you first get introduced to firearms and get started shooting competitively?

Maggie Both of those things happened at the same time. When I was 18 years old my dad took me out to the range and taught me how to shoot and we immediately jumped into competition. That was the idea behind it was that he wanted to introduce me to something that he loved and already did, and it was a great way for us to spend some quality father-daughter time together.

Right from the get go I shot local competitions where we lived in Northern Nevada. We shot man-on-man steel and bowling pin matches, and I had a custom built Caspian .45 that I borrowed from my dad. I shot that with 230 grain ball ammunition and we just went from there.

Cheaper Than Dirt Did he shoot competitively before that?

Maggie He did. He shot on a local level in Northern Nevada. It was just something real small scale and just a great way to spend a weekend with a good group of people who all had similar backgrounds and shared a similar hobby. It was something locally that we did together and he had started it before I did and really encouraged me to go out and do it with him.

I honestly didn’t really have any interest in it. I hadn’t shot guns before and didn’t see myself as a competitive type person, so I kinda hesitated to do it, but he really pushed me and said “If you just try it once and if you don’t like it, I won’t make you do it again.”

I went out the one time, borrowed his gun, absolutely loved it, and kept going back.

Cheaper Than Dirt At that point you’d gotten bitten by the shooting bug and were basically just off and running then.

Maggie I was.

Cheaper Than Dirt Did it kind of awaken the inner competitive drive that you’ve got? Or was it just the joy of shooting?

Maggie It was a little bit of both. I really enjoyed shooting. I kinda just took to it. Of course, when you find that you can do something and you can do it well, it’s encouraging to stick with it. I was happy to discover that about myself, but I also did find that I enjoyed the competition aspect of it and that did get my blood pumping and I really just wanted to keep going and get better and better and push myself.

Cheaper Than Dirt Did you get started in USPSA fairly quickly?

Maggie Well, I shot at local competitions at the steel matches and bowling pin matches, and I did that for 10 years off and on.

Cheaper Than Dirt At what point did you break out and decide to start doing other sports such as 3-gun?

Maggie Three or four years ago I moved back to Southern California and a friend of mine told me about this competition called Steel Challenge. He said “You’re going to be right there, why don’t you just show up and shoot it?”

I figured “Sure, OK. Why not?” So I just kinda wandered out there, I didn’t know what to expect or what was going on. I still had my .45, that’s what I was shooting at the time. I showed up and figured I’d shoot the competition and that would be that. While I was out there I met a lot of great individuals, one of whom is Taran Butler.

He saw me struggling with my .45 and he came up to me and he said “I don’t know who you are, but what are you doing? That’s not the right gun for this competition, let me give you some help. Here, shoot my gun. Shoot this 9mm,” and he loaned me a gun and I shot the competition and just had a blast doing it.

Then he said to me, “You know what, why don’t we go shoot some USPSA matches, I think you’d really like it.” Now, I didn’t know what that was, but I figured I’d try it. So, I went and shot some USPSA matches.

Then he said to me “You should shoot 3-gun.”

I said “Well, I’ll show up and I’ll just watch one to see if I like it.”

I showed up to my first USPSA 3-gun match, and he handed me his guns and said “No, don’t just watch. Shoot it!”

I said “Well, OK,” and so I shot it.

It was just those people like Taran that I met along the way who just came to me and kept saying “Here, try this!”

I kept saying “Sure, OK,” and that’s how I got into 3-gun, just by happenstance.

Cheaper Than Dirt Did you have any coaches or mentors other than Taran who kind of guided you along?

Maggie Definitely. My boyfriend Michael Voigt is the President of USPSA and a pretty good shooter himself. He’s a 10 time national champion in 3-gun.

Cheaper Than Dirt Just to be clear, did you meet him before or after you started shooting 3-gun?

Maggie I started shooting 3-gun and I met him on the range actually. Obviously once our relationship started he became a real driving force in my competition shooting and was able to coach me and support me and encourage me. Before that I had been doing it on my own with the help of friends and family members.

I think that my level of shooting really changed when I met Mike.

Cheaper Than Dirt At what point during all of this did you decide “Hey, I’m going to make a video and send it in to audition for Top Shot”

Maggie You know, I watched the entire first season, episode for episode. I just really loved it as a show, and I was familiar with some of the people who were on it. As I was watching it, I never in a million years imagined that it was something I would do. I just didn’t see myself on TV doing that kind of a competition.

I watched the show, but when they started the casting process for the second season, a lot of people just encouraged me to send in an audition video and fill out the application and see what happens, but I thought “No, they’re never going to pick me. This is just totally out of my comfort zone. I just don’t think I can do it.”

So many people encouraged me to try out, I just thought “You know what? Why not. What’s the worst that could happen? I’ll send in the application and if I never hear from them, who cares?”

Then they called me back, and they asked me to come out for the semi-finals part of the casting process in LA, and I thought “Oh gosh, do I really want to do this? It’s kinda nerve wracking, but I’ll just go out and see what happens.”

So, I went through the final casting process and then they asked me to do the show. It was just once again this weird sequence of steps where someone urged me to try it and I went ahead to see what happens.

Cheaper Than Dirt I’ve got to ask, J.J. Racaza has been a driving force in encouraging a number of this season’s competitors to audition for the show. Both Athena Lee and Jermaine Finks were prodded along by J.J. Did he encourage you as well?

Maggie You know, I know J.J., I’ve seen him on the competition circuit, he was actually one of the first big time shooters that I met. Blake was the first one. I had no appreciation back then for who these guys were, they were just nice people that I met at the range. I had no idea how awesome and amazing they were. But yes, they’ve both been very supportive and encouraging, and just been great representatives of USPSA to the rest of us to say “Yes, go out and do this.”

Cheaper Than Dirt We talked with Athena about some of the pressures of being a female shooter in a male dominated sport. How much of that weighed on your mind when you were considering whether or not to do the casting call?

Maggie You know, that honestly wasn’t a factor for me because I am so used to it on the competition circuit. I’ve showed up so many times to the range and been the only woman there and had people look at me and go “Are you lost? Do you need help? Can we point you in the right direction?”

So I’m kinda used to that. I didn’t think about going into it and trying to prove myself as a woman, I just thought about going into it as another competition.

Cheaper Than Dirt Still, it had to be a bit of a relief to see Athena there at the final casting call and realize you weren’t going to be the only female shooter on the show.

Maggie Definitely. I also knew Athena before the show, so she was somebody who I have a tremendous amount of respect for and was so happy to see her there. She was my roommate on the show, so it was great to have another woman to bounce ideas off of and reflect on the day, and just have a buddy to hang out with.

There is so much down time back at the house that you need people who understand where you’re coming from, and having another woman really helps.

Cheaper Than Dirt Before the show, going into it you had to know after watching Season 1 that there would be all manner of weapons thrown at you from shotguns to rifles and handguns, and as we saw in the last episode bows and arrows. Did you do any particular type of practice to brush up on your skills with those other weapons?

Maggie There wasn’t very much time between when I found out I’d been accepted for the show and I actually had to be there. Literally the day before I was just finishing up the USPSA Handgun Nationals. I had been in Las Vegas the week prior, and before that I had been preparing for that match and before that I had been shooting 3-Gun Nationals, so all of my focus was on my competitions that I already had planned.

I still had an obligation to myself and to my sponsors to show up and do well. I just put my focus into shooting the USPSA Handgun Nationals, but I did switch to iron sights instead of shooting the Open division so that I would have a little bit more experience shooting iron sights.

We left from Las Vegas and we literally left the competition in Las Vegas and my boyfriend dropped me off in LA for Top Shot and I never even had any other time to do the other things I would have loved to do.

Cheaper Than Dirt You really just got thrown right into it then, and the first episode just made things even more dramatic with the first competition right out of the gate.

Maggie Yeah, we had a couple of days of filming and doing the commercials and the photography and things like that, and you’re right exactly. We showed up and didn’t think that we’d be doing a competition right out of the bag. We thought we would go into the house and get settled and familiarized and kind of adapt to our new surroundings, but you’re right, instead right from the get go we had a competition.

Cheaper Than Dirt We’ve talked to some of the other contestants about the weather and other difficulties that the first team challenge presented. Everybody seemed to struggle, but you’ve got some experience with the .45 caliber 1911 platform, and you mentioned you’d done at least some practice with iron sights. What happened during that first team challenge?

Maggie Definitely from the onset when we were sitting there and we saw that that was going to be the first challenge, we all felt a little sense of relief. We thought this was a good gun to start with right off the bat, there was nothing weird or foreign or unusual. It was just a standard 1911 .45.

I think for some of us, particularly for myself, we simply weren’t in the right mindset for it. I just can’t even really begin to tell you how disappointing that whole performance was for me and for my team as well. Half of us failed completely at that challenge. It was really difficult, and I think we had just put ourselves into the moment and let our nerves get the best of us. We hadn’t really settled down and found a rhythm yet.

It proved to be a lot more challenging than we had considered giving it respect for. It definitely slapped us in the face and we had to regroup and come back and say “OK, wow. This is serious now.”

Cheaper Than Dirt A number of Blue Team members were handgun experts, yourself included. Do you think that the performance during the first challenge affected the team dynamics?

Maggie One of the things that happened with our team was that we noticed that there was a lot of negativity right from the start. We had some poor performances, and we had some high expectations from some members of the team. When things didn’t go well, it really did affect the team dynamic and the negativity really began to permeate throughout the situation. That was kinda difficult to overcome.

Cheaper Than Dirt Going a bit deeper into the team dynamics, we noticed that right off the bat that Jay Lim seemed to try to take charge immediately, but there was a bit of resistance from some of the Blue Team members. Were those just personality conflicts and how did that affect team morale?

Maggie I think that it had a huge effect on the team morale going into the challenges. We all felt like we were there for a reason, we all felt that we’d been picked for a reason. We all had our own specialties and things that we could lend to the team, and I think we wanted that respect in return for what we brought to the table.

Definitely there were some personalities conflicting, and when you’re in this sort of stressful situation to begin with your really need your team support. When that is lacking, it affects everything else you do and it affected us in the challenges for sure.

Cheaper Than Dirt Athena, the only other female on the show, was eliminated fairly quickly into the competition, leaving you by yourself. Did that change your strategy for dealing with other competitors or change your mindset at all?

Maggie It didn’t change my strategy, but I definitely felt her absence back at the house during our down time. Because we were roommates and, like I said, we bounced ideas off of each others heads and we could relate with each other at night when we were back in our rooms by ourselves, not having her there really kind of put me in a different position where I had to strike out on my own. I didn’t have her to rely on anymore. My buddy who I got to talk to all the time is gone.

Cheaper Than Dirt It’s important to point out too that your rooms were not in the main house. You and Athena had a little guest house off to the side to yourselves and had to head up to the main house to interact and socialize with the rest of your teammates.

Maggie Yeah, we were in what you might call a Mother-In-Law unit, a converted garage out in the back yard. We had our own bedroom, our own bathroom, and our own little sitting area. We really were separated from the men in that way. Of course we had communal living spaces in the main house and we would always go in there and visit with everybody, but at night we would draw back and be by ourselves and have that time just to ourselves.

It was so thrilling when I found out she was going to be there, and I went into that situation not knowing if there was going to be another woman. When I found out that there was, that was so exciting for me, and then to lose her in the beginning was so disappointing.

Cheaper Than Dirt Let’s talk about the Uphill Challenge that aired two weeks ago. You went into that challenge with high hopes and it seemed like absent Jermaine’s errors, you really should have won that.

Maggie I definitely think we should have won that. It was totally within our reach. We were so far ahead.

Cheaper Than Dirt What I wanted to know about is not so much the challenge itself, but afterwards. When it came time to decide who to send to the nomination range, Jermaine was obviously going to be one, but tell us about the team meeting after the challenge.

Maggie Initially in the beginning Jermaine insisted on being nominated into the elimination round. I didn’t necessarily agree with that because I felt like he was one of the stronger competitors on our team and one of the better shots, but he insisted on it and there was no way to talk him out of it. He really needed to do that for himself and we couldn’t deny him that opportunity to redeem himself.

The logic behind it was that he had made this fatal mistake in that one challenge, and we were only as a team looking at the specific challenge that we lost. We weren’t taking into consideration previous challenges, which may have been a mistake in our philosophy. So, we agreed to let Jermaine get nominated into the elimination round and then we decided that he would make the final decision about who he wanted to go up against.

That was a big decision, I think, to place on his shoulders when he was already focused on so many other things. I think we sort of did it in the moment because it was the easy way out for us. There was nobody else to really choose from. He had been the one to make this mistake, so how do you pick anybody else?

We decided that we would let him do it. Of course that was just the initial plan within the team meeting.

Cheaper Than Dirt At the nomination range, we saw Jermaine vote for Kyle and then Jay got nominated as well. Watching the show, viewers have to realize that there is a lot that happens on camera that never makes it onto the episode. Was there any collusion between yourself and Daryl to choose Jay instead?

Maggie Actually, what happened was that everybody voted for Jermaine except for Daryl. He voted for Jay, and Jermaine had of course already voted for Kyle, so that left a tie. Then I had to make the tie breaking decision.

I had talked to Daryl before the nomination round and he had told me that, upon reflection, he didn’t feel that it was a fair decision for Jermaine to make on his own. He felt that as a team we should step up and let our voices be heard as well. Daryl was of the opinion that Jay had been the weaker performer at that point and he told me of his decision to vote for Jay.

I knew going into it that there might be a tie breaker situation and I of course had my own opinions. Then I just happened to be the one picked to make that decision.

Cheaper Than Dirt Do you think Jay’s personality and the team dynamics surrounding that played into that decision at all?

Maggie Definitely. When you’re in this kind of team situation and you have such a limited time to practice with and so much at stake within the challenges, you have to be able to work together as a group.

When I looked at that decision between Kyle and Jay, first of all I saw Kyle as somebody who didn’t have the opportunity to compete within the Uphill Challenge, so if we were going to do what we had said we were going to do which was look at somebody’s individual performance within that specific challenge, Kyle didn’t compete in that and I didn’t think it was right to hold him accountable for our loss. I didn’t think that that was fair if we were going to go by the rules that we had established as a group.

I saw Jay as somebody who had been a little bit separate from the group in the practice. We had made an agreement going into the practice that those most comfortable with the rifle and those most familiar with sighting in a gun would be the ones to do it. Jay didn’t have any experience with the rifle and he didn’t have any experience sighting in a weapon, and yet he was still being very opinionated on what he wanted to see done.

It was such a short time available to us, there just can’t be those disputes.

Cheaper Than Dirt Just to be clear, for those who may not know, you only receive about 30 minutes as a team within which to familiarize everybody with the weapon.

Maggie Exactly, so when you have six, seven, or eight people trying to cycle through the weapon, including some people who have never shot it before and need extra time and extra help, and you also have a limited amount of ammunition so every shot counts and you can’t afford to waste ammo going back and forth.

Six of us felt comfortable with where the rifle was sighted in. One person felt differently. In that kind of situation you just have to suck it up and go with what the group wants, and he just wasn’t happy to do that at that time.

Cheaper Than Dirt After that, it seemed like everybody was sad to see Jermaine go. He did seem to be a valuable team member, despite his mistakes on the previous challenge.

Maggie He was just a really good guy, strong competitor, good shot, and had a great mindset. He particularly was a huge help in all of the practice sessions. He is a great instructor and someone who was able to give knowledgeable and welcome instruction to the rest of us. That’s important. It’s important to surround yourself with people who have the right mindset, the right mentality, who are positive and supportive.

We all needed each other as a team and he was a huge asset to us. Having lost him I think really affected us going forward.

Cheaper Than Dirt How did things change after Jermaine was eliminated and Jay was the one to return to the house? We saw at the beginning of the most recent episode Daryl sit down with Jay and apologize, and then Chris Reed sat him down at the head of the table and Jay just looked like a fish out of water.

Maggie He did. I think he felt very uncomfortable and he didn’t know what his place was within the group anymore, and he was very aware of how sad we were to see Jermaine leave. I’m sure that made him feel uncomfortable as well. That was just one of those awkward moments that we all had to work through.

Cheaper Than Dirt When you saw that the next team challenge was archery, that had to give him a good angle to get back in good with the team.

Maggie Certainly. At the end of the day we’re all there to compete and to win. Any advice that we can get from someone who is knowledgeable is always welcome. Finding out that archery was the next challenge and that that was something that he was proficient at, we were very happy to have him there.

Cheaper Than Dirt It was quite the turnabout from earlier practice sessions where it seemed that his advice was not welcome to this challenge where it was not just welcomed but requested.

Maggie Any time somebody has an opportunity to contribute something and the timing is appropriate and the place is appropriate, we want that.

Cheaper Than Dirt What happened at the team challenge?

Maggie Well, we watched the Red Team compete first, so we kind of knew what their performance was and could adjust accordingly. When we came up to the line we found that some of us were struggling. I missed two shots myself in a row, and I dramatically missed them.

It was just awful to be in that sort of position. I came back to my team and everybody just wanted to know what went wrong. I really struggled with the bow. It was foreign to me, having never shot one before. I was just trying to focus on some of the most simple and mundane aspects of it. They caught me in an honest moment when I said “I don’t know which way is up and which way is down.”

I really failed to get a proper sight alignment on my shots, and I really struggled to draw back on it. The weight of the bow was really hard for me. Some of my other teammates also struggled. Some of them had really close shots, but a miss is still a miss.

Jay did well though. He hit his shot right off the bat on the first try.

Cheaper Than Dirt Do you know what the draw weight of the bow was? We’ve had some questions from our Facebook fans about that.

Maggie It was 40 pounds. All of the men shot the Bowtech Assassin, but I shot the ladies version, which is the Hearbreaker. The draw weight was set up at 40 pounds and they guesstimated what my draw length would be.

Cheaper Than Dirt I see, so you had different bows.

Maggie Mine was, I think, 10 pounds lighter. The others were set up at 50.

Having never shot one before, I didn’t know what it was supposed to feel like and I really struggled with the weight of it, and I really struggled with the length of it. I found that difficult to overcome.

Cheaper Than Dirt After the team challenge, you pretty much chose yourself to be in the elimination challenge.

Maggie I was disappointed in my performance. We discussed back in the team meeting who had performed well and who had not. I was one of the people who had not made my shots, and I felt it would be appropriate for me to go into the elimination round.

Cheaper Than Dirt And Kyle was chose based on his overall performance?

Maggie This was where we kind of started to change things. Kyle had actually made his shot in that competition. We had now started as a group to look at people’s cumulative performances and we had enough to reflect back on. It was his previous challenges that put him in the elimination challenge this time.

Cheaper Than Dirt It seemed that, at the elimination challenge, that you were still struggling with the weight of the bow.

Maggie I was. Each time, during the team challenge, we had practice in the morning and then we had the team event. For the elimination round we had practice in the morning and the elimination challenge itself later.

I really found that I had fatigued myself trying to get the bow sighted in and trying to become comfortable with this operation, you know I went through dozens of arrows. During my practice session for the elimination round I got to the point where I couldn’t draw back the bow at all anymore.

The expert was great, we just set the bow down and he talked to me and just gave me all the verbal cues and tips. He walked me through it verbally, but I couldn’t physically draw back on the bow anymore and I had to give my arm a rest.

Cheaper Than Dirt Many viewers don’t realize just how much physical fitness is required to perform well on the show. When we spoke with Athena she described getting beat up and worn out from shooting the Thomson sub-machine gun.

Maggie Yeah, that’s right. That was really something I struggled with.

The object of the show however is to overcome and adapt. During the elimination challenge I wasn’t able to get the full extension of the bow when I was drawing back, and that caused my shots to go a little wild and a little low left. I saw that and was able to start holding off and start to overcome that.

Cheaper Than Dirt We saw that, and for a while it seemed like you really caught your rhythm, to the point that you caught up with and tied Kyle’s score for a while. Did you have any idea of how you were doing?

Maggie I had absolutely no idea. I was not at all looking at him, I wasn’t going to take a split second to look over at him and see how he was doing. I was just trying to stay focused on the moment.

I could hear Colby yelling out sometimes “Kyle hits! Maggie misses! Kyle misses! Maggie hits!” and I knew that he was saying Kyle was hitting a lot more often than he was saying I was hitting. That was something that was going on in the back of my head, but it was also something I was trying to push out of my mind and focus on the task at hand.

Cheaper Than Dirt We were all sad to see you eliminated there.

Maggie It was definitely hard for me to leave. I think one of the hardest things about it was that I just really grew to love and respect so many people in the house. It was just a great group of people, a great group of men who are just full of so much integrity and honor, and who have done really courageous things in the case of our military members.

I love the dynamic of being around these people and I loved working with them. It was really hard to say goodbye, and to say goodbye so abruptly. Of course I wanted to go on and win and do all of that stuff, but on a personal level it was just hard to leave all of these good friends that I had made.

It was really disappointing to walk away.

Cheaper Than Dirt We’ve been doing these interviews for a while, and one thing we’ve heard from almost every single participant on Top Shot is how they’ve made good and long lasting friendships with all of the competitors.

Maggie Definitely. When you go through something like this that is so unique and unusual, and something that not too many people have the opportunity to experience, you really bond with those people who understand what it was like to be there in the moment, and the stress, and the pressures, and the rewards, and everything else.

These were just such a great group of people, and I talk to almost all of them on a fairly regular basis. We message each other back and forth over the internet. It’s been great to keep in touch with everybody and watch it play out on TV. Now we get to sit back and be fans of the show again and see what happens.

Cheaper Than Dirt If you had the chance to do it all over again, would you?

Maggie I absolutely would. I would just love the experience to do it all over again.

Cheaper Than Dirt I don’t know how much of last night’s episode you saw, but Blake Miguez and J.J. Racaza are coming back-

Maggie I know! I can’t even begin to tell you my disappointment! One, that I missed out on seeing J.J. and Blake, and two, that I missed out on shooting a race gun!

Cheaper Than Dirt Oh my, I can only imagine. You know, I commented to Athena today after seeing that show, “Not only are Blake and J.J. coming back, but they’re shooting a Limcat!” Which is one of her sponsors, and of course you shoot a race gun in Open division as well.

Maggie Yes! I shoot Open division as well, and then Limcat was the first race gun that I ever shot.

I’ll give you a little inside scoop: When I left the show and went back to the hotel, I saw J.J. and Blake in the hotel lobby!

I said “What are you two guys doing here? Say it isn’t so! Say it ain’t so!”

And of course, they were saying to me “What the heck are you doing back at the hotel?” and I had to hold my head in shame.

Cheaper Than Dirt That had to be such a bittersweet moment.

Maggie It was, it was great to see two friendly familiar faces, and at the same time so disappointing. If only I had been able to hang on.

Cheaper Than Dirt Well, hopefully you were able to enjoy a few drinks together before you had to go and they had to go.

Maggie Yeah, we were able to. We were able to visit.

Cheaper Than Dirt If you’ve got time, I’d like to open up the floor to some of the questions we’ve gotten from our fans on Facebook. Do you have a bit of extra time?

Maggie Oh sure, yeah.

Cheaper Than Dirt We had a couple of questions regarding defensive firearms. Do you carry a concealed handgun for self defense?

Maggie I never have actually. Honestly, I’ve just never done it. It’s never seemed necessary for me. I would really have to sit back and ponder what I might want for that type of situation.

Cheaper Than Dirt For somebody just getting started in 3-gun, what division is good for a new shooter and what is a good 3-gun setup?

Maggie Tactical is definitely the easiest division to get into. Once you get into Open you’re getting into all of the tricky stuff and the fancy stuff, and the expensive stuff. There is a lot of money in that division. You can get into Tactical right from the start and use stuff that’s right out of the box. That’s a great way to keep the cost down when you’re trying to get yourself going.

Cheaper Than Dirt Any particular makes and models?

Maggie You know, I’ve got a Benelli M2. The only thing I did to it was chop it down a little bit so that it could fit my smaller frame. Other than that, I did the same thing with my AR. It’s just a flat-top AR and I put a scope on it, and of course I put the fancy optics on it to make it more competitive in the Open division, but it would work just fine in Tactical once you strip all of that stuff off.

You don’t have to get super fancy to go out and be competitive. That’s the great thing about USPSA is because of these different divisions, is you find somebody who is on your skill level with the same sort of equipment. Then you’re really just testing your shooting capability and it doesn’t come down to money.

Cheaper Than Dirt Gerald Weeks from Facebook wants to know: How many hours do you practice every week?

Maggie It depends on the competition I have coming up. I shoot a lot of different styles, from Steel Challenge, to Bianchi Cup, to 3-Gun, so it really just depends on what I’ve got coming up. I just put everything else away and focus on that for the moment. I try, if I’ve got a major match coming up, to be out at the range every day.

There is a lot of time that is spent just loading ammo and getting the equipment ready, and setting targets once we’re out at the range. The preparation is just as time consuming as the actual shooting. That being said, I can easily shoot 500 rounds a day.

Cheaper Than Dirt So, could we estimate 14-20 hours a week then?

Maggie Yeah, that would be fair.

Cheaper Than Dirt We touched on this earlier, but Justin Berkihiser wants to know: What kind of weapon did you first learn to shoot? He also wants to know what advice you have for those of us who dont compete but like to shoot for fun or practice for personal defense?

Maggie It was a Caspian .45, a 1911 style.

As for advice… You know, I shoot a local match here every Saturday that I’m in town. There are all different sorts of people out at these matches. There are people who are professional who compete on a national level, and then there is another group of people who just like to come out and have a great time. They just like the experience of being around other shooters and they are just there for the fun.

It’s that same thing that, because we have different classes and divisions, you can go out and shoot against people who are just doing this for fun as a hobby. It’s a great way to spend a weekend. It doesn’t have to be this high pressure situation where you have to go out there and get your but kicked by somebody else.

Just go out and shoot your local matches and have a good time.

Cheaper Than Dirt All right. Well, I think that’s about all we’ve got time for, and I do want to thank you again for your time and speaking to us.

Maggie Thank you so much!

.223 Winchester Ranger Ammunition Recall

Winchester ammunition has issued a recall for certain lot numbers of its .223 caliber Ranger ammunition. This recall only affects .223 caliber Ranger ammunition loaded with 64 grain Power-Point bullets.

Olin Corporation, through its Winchester Division, is recalling six (6) lots of its RANGER® 223 Remington 64 Grain Power-Point® (PP) centerfire rifle ammunition (Symbol Number RA223R2).

Lot Numbers (last four characters): DK01, DK11, DK21, DK31, DK41, and DK51

Through extensive evaluation Winchester has determined the above lots of RANGER® Law Enforcement ammunition may contain incorrect propellant. Incorrect propellant in this ammunition may cause firearm damage, rendering the firearm inoperable, and subject the shooter or bystanders to a risk of serious personal injury when fired.

DO NOT USE WINCHESTER® RANGER® 223 REMINGTON 64 GRAIN POWER-POINT® AMMUNITION THAT HAS A LOT NUMBER ENDING IN DK01, DK11, DK21, DK31, DK41 or DK51. The ammunition Lot Number is ink stamped inside the right tuck flap of the 20-round carton, as indicated here:

To determine if your ammunition is subject to this notice, review the Lot Number. If the last four characters of the Lot Number are DK01, DK11, DK21, DK31, DK41 or DK51 immediately discontinue use and contact Winchester toll-free at 866-423-5224 to arrange for replacement ammunition and free UPS pick-up of the recalled ammunition.

This notice applies only to RANGER® 223 Remington 64 Grain Power-Point® centerfire rifle ammunition with lot numbers ending in DK01, DK11, DK21, DK31, DK41, and DK51. Other Symbol Numbers or Lot Numbers are not subject to this recall.

If you have any questions concerning this RANGER® Law Enforcement ammunition recall please call toll-free 866-423-5224, write to Winchester (600 Powder Mill Road, East Alton, IL 62024 Attn: RA223R2 Recall), or visit our website at www.winchester.com.

We apologize for this inconvenience.

The Down Zero Challenge

I’m a firm believer that without accuracy, a shooter can’t really advance their skill level.  In fact, I’ve talked both here and on Gun Nuts about how accuracy is the foundation of all pistol shooting.  Unlike USPSA, IDPA actually has an award for the most accurate shooter in any match; this harkens back to IDPA’s origins as placing a higher emphasis on accuracy.

As part of my shooting this year for Team Cheaper than Dirt, I’m going to start the Down Zero Challenge for all the IDPA shooters out there that read this site.  The Down Zero challenge is simple – the goal is to shoot an entire IDPA match down zero.  But you can’t just take forever to make each shot, so here are the rules of the IDPA Down Zero Challenge:

  • Attend any official IDPA club, state, regional, or national level match.
  • Shoot the match with the goal of having no points down.
  • BUT you have to shoot the match as fast as you think you can shoot all down zero hits.
  • Must NOT finish last in your class and division.

The idea is that it would be easy to shoot a match down zero if you didn’t care about your accompanying time; hence why it doesn’t count if you finish last in your class and division.

For me, I’m going to up the ante somewhat – I won’t do the Down Zero Challenge at a club match, but I’m going to pick two major IDPA matches this year and shoot the Down Zero Challenge.  My goal will be to shoot at least one major match down zero, and to win “Most Accurate” at every IDPA match I shoot this year.

We’ll keep a running update of our progress here at the Shooter’s Log, as every Most Accurate plaque we add will be another win for Team CTD!

6.5×55 Swedish

Though not very common in the United States, the 6.5×55 Swedish cartridge has long been popular amongst European hunters. Since its inception in the late 19th century, the 6.5 Swedish has been known as a flat shooting caliber with relatively light recoil and superior sectional density. Though not particularly impressive when compared to modern high-velocity short magnum cartridges, the benefits of the round quickly become apparent once you’ve had the opportunity to shoot it.

The light recoil of the 6.5 makes it very popular amongst younger shooters and some female shooters who favor light rounds. It’s also supremely accurate and flat shooting. 6.5×55 120 grain deer cartridges loaded to higher modern pressures have a rise of only around 5 inches when fired at a range of 300 yards. This makes it very easy for a hunter to get “minute of deer” accuracy out of the round at a wide range of distances.

Designed in 1891, the 6.5×55 Swedish first saw action when it was produced in 1894 for the M94 Swedish Mauser. Its use continued through modern firearm development where it was utilized by the Swedish AG/42B semiautomatic rifle along with numerous machine guns such as the Kg/1940 Light machine gun, the Schwarzlose, and more common models like the Browning BAR and FN MAG.

The reason for the bullet’s sectional density is patently obvious when looking at the cartridge. The long bullet sticks conspicuously far out of the case neck. This long “freight train” style .264 caliber bullet boasts impressive penetration and a superior ballistic coefficient in spire point and polymer tipped versions. By way of example, 140 grain 6.5mm bullets are longer than larger and heavier .30 caliber 180 grain bullets. While the caliber of the bullet is relatively small compared to a .30-06, the elongated bullet design demonstrates impressive energy and penetration in 125-160 grain weights when taking game at ranges in excess of 300 yards. Though many in the United States dismiss the capability of the round for taking large game, it’s reputation amongst Finnish and Norwegian moose hunters speaks well to the effectiveness of the cartridge.

One of the only drawbacks to the 6.5×55 cartridge is no fault of the round: early model Mausers were not strong enough to take full advantage of the pressure capability of the cartridge. For this reason, the factory specifications for the load are significantly lower than the design is capable of. Later models such as the widely available M96 Swedish Mauser and almost all modern rifles are perfectly capable of handling the higher pressures. For hand-loaders, this means that it is possible to safely load the cartridge to higher pressures. In fact, a few modern loading manuals have different load specs depending on whether the round will be fired in an older Mauser or newer modern rifle, though most take care to only list the older lower pressure loads. With 48 grains of IMR 7828, a 130 grain bullet can be safely propelled to a velocity exceeding 2,900 FPS.

Despite the light weight of many 6.5mm bullets, this cartridge seems to perform better with slower burning powders. As always, when developing a load start out at half the powder weight and work your way up while checking for signs of overpressure.

The 6.5x55mm Swedish cartridge has been around for well over 100 years and continues to enjoy enormous popularity both in Europe and more recently in the United States. Given the performance of the round, it’s not hard to see why. Light recoil, flat shooting, great accuracy, and a wide range of loads make it attractive to target shooters and hunters alike.

Top Shot Competitor Jermaine Finks

Last week we saw Jermaine Finks eliminated from the competition on the History Channel’s reality TV show Top Shot. After a series of blunders during the team challenge, the Homeland Security agent who had previously seemed unflappable found himself up for elimination. During a tightly fought elimination challenge, Jermaine came up just short and was unfortunately sent packing.

Many fans hated to see him go, and we caught up with Jermaine to discuss his performance on the show.

Cheaper Than Dirt Most of us already know that you gained the bulk of your firearm experience after joining the military at age 17, but did you have any prior experience with shooting or hunting before that?

Jermaine No, I did not.

Cheaper Than Dirt In the military you served as an MP. Was law enforcement something you’d always aspired to?

Jermaine Yeah, as a kid I always wanted to be a cop, you know, playing cops and robbers. When I was in High School, at least in my last years in 11th and 12th grade, I was actually studying to be an architect. I guess I just changed my mind once I found out that the military could train me to be an MP and later a cop, I kinda switched gears.

Cheaper Than Dirt Many law enforcement agents don’t ever become as well trained with their firearms as you have. At some point during your career, you made the decision to not just become intimately familiar with the use of the tools of your chosen profession, but to become an instructor.

Jermaine When I joined the military they trained me to shoot my weapon and whatnot, so I kinda got to like using weapons. Then, coming back I became a firefighter for 10 years. I actually gave up the law enforcement deal after the military and went to be a firefighter in my local home town.

Around 2001 I got back into law enforcement on a part time basis because my schedule with the fire department was so easy to deal with I had enough time to go and work part time as a Pennsylvania State Constable. There, I saw that I still kinda had the firearms thing going on and that I really excelled at doing it.

Once 9/11 happened, that’s when I switched over to the Federal government. It changed my mindset, I had to take care of business, make sure something like that never happened again.

At the academy is where I really honed my skills from a few of the instructors there. They saw something in me and made the recommendation to me that “This is our skill set and you’d be really good at teaching it,” So with that, I had been an instructor in the military, and when they found that out they said “This is a good fit your you. You’re an instructor already, and you know how to teach people. We’re going to teach you how to teach people to shoot.”

It kinda spread from there. It’s been from 2003 until now and an uphill climb teaching people how to shoot.

Cheaper Than Dirt 1999 was a difficult year for you, when you were diagnosed with colon cancer. Throughout your career in the military, you overcame many obstacles, but this truly had to be a life changing challenge.

Jermaine Backing up a little bit, in 1995 I got laid off from fire department job, so I joined the military again for a 3 year stint of active duty. In there, I went and deployed, and when I got back after my 3 years the fire department actually called me back and offered me my job back. I finished my tour in June of 1999, but I came back earlier. With my leave built up I got to come back early.

It was about 2 months after being back on the fire department that I started feeling a little bit… not myself. I went and got myself checked up, and yeah, it was a life altering life changing event. I found out at age 26 and was diagnosed with colon cancer.

That set me back a little bit. I didn’t believe it at first, that kind of deal. There was a little bit of stress and depression setting in there, but I had a good friend who pushed me through and helped me get by.

Cheaper Than Dirt Your drive and determination definitely shows through even today. I’m curious though, what drives a Federal agent to apply to be on a reality TV shooting competition?

Jermaine Good question. As far as being being an instructor with this agency for the last couple of years, and especially dealing with firearms, you get that ‘Esprit de corps’ and that competitive edge amongst ourselves. We want to push ourselves to the most extreme limits that we can as far as doing well with firearms.

It was actually the first season that got me kinda motivated. J.J. Racaza, he’s a pro shooter and whatnot, and also a guy who works inside my agency. I know him personally because I was actually one of his instructors when he came through my field office. Seeing him on the show kinda motivated me, because he was one of our guys. I talked to him about it, and was basically just running it by him, asking him questions about the show and whatnot, and I jokingly asked “What do you think, should I try out?” or something like that.

He told me that he’d already dropped a couple of names to [the producers], and one of those names was mine.

Cheaper Than Dirt I guess we can blame J.J. for bringing a couple of people onto the show, since he encouraged Athena Lee to send in an audition as well.

Jermaine Yes sir, he encouraged a lot of folks to get on there and show their talent on TV.

Cheaper Than Dirt With your job as a Federal agent, was it difficult to schedule the time off to go and spend a few weeks on the show?

Jermaine Actually, being on the ground, it’s a bit easier. Being in a field office, or what we call “ground based,” it’s a little bit easier. Making sure that I had enough personnel to take care of my work load while I was gone for the tryouts and then when I actually got picked, I already had the leave built up and I just needed the approval from my supervisors.

What helped was knowing that J.J. Racaza had been through the season before, and we’ve all seen how well he did. They saw it as a good thing that I was going out there and giving it a try. It was a bit of an uphill battle at first but, once they had realized what it was for, they said “Yeah, go on ahead. Knock it out.”

Cheaper Than Dirt So you’re going out and showing everyone that we actually have some decent marksmen over at Homeland Security.

Jermaine Oh yeah, that’s another reason why we went out was to get out there and show our stuff off basically.

Cheaper Than Dirt On the first episode, shooting the billiard balls, everyone really seemed to struggle with that challenge.

Jermaine Yeah, with the billiard balls the tough thing was that there was no practice time with the weapon. It wasn’t a weapon that anyone was really familiar with. I mean, we all knew what the 1911 was, but it wasn’t anyone’s regular weapon that we had gotten used to in our careers or through professional competitions. They just kinda threw it at us and said “Here you go, let’s go.”

On top of that was the weather, the wind and the cold, as well as the visual interference from the fog and things like that. Add in the stress involved from the run back and forth, having only one shot, and the limitations on where you could stand and the stress of being the first competition where you know that someone is going to go home, you’ve got that in the back of your mind as well.

All of that, plus trying to shoot a little two-inch target at various distances, kinda put a little stress on you.

Cheaper Than Dirt You didn’t seem to let the stress get to you however. It seemed like you carried the Blue Team through that competition. You scored the first hit, and continued on to connect with another target as well.

Jermaine There was a total of eight balls, Ashley hit three and Jay hit three, and I hit two. That made up the total of eight balls right there.

Cheaper Than Dirt You had to be feeling pretty good coming out of that first team challenge.

Jermaine Kinda. I was a little bit stressed there in the beginning. Being the fifth guy in line and seeing the four people in front of me totally miss the first ball, it really kinda upped my anxiety. I kept asking myself “Am I missing something here? Is this really that difficult of a shot?” Once I got up there, I did a bit of a double-take to figure out what it was. It took me a second to get myself back in the proper mind-frame and realize that there was nothing there and just shoot it.

Once I did that, it kinda set the balls in motion so to speak.

Cheaper Than Dirt On the second episode we saw some friction start to emerge among the Blue Team members. Tell us a bit about Jay Lim. He initially tried to take on the role of team leader, but Daryl and a couple other team members didn’t quite see things the same way.

Jermaine That comes down to different styles of leadership and what you think might be the right thing to do and going ahead and making a decision on your own without consulting others. I wouldn’t say it was a dictatorship, but there was an element of “Let’s do it my way,” without consulting the rest of us.

Yes, there was some friction you could feel a little bit. It was kinda like at first he wanted our opinion on things, but then it turned into a situation where he’d say something like “What do you guys thing? OK, well here’s what I’m going to do.” That kind of thing.

Cheaper Than Dirt During the team practice it seemed at times that he did more instructing than the expert did.

Jermaine *laughs* Yeah, I kinda just stood back and watched that happen. Maybe I should have just gotten in there and told him “You know, there is and expert instructor here, you might want to show a little professional courtesy and allow him to do his thing.”

It was borderline disrespectful, but I could see where he was trying to help people out.

Cheaper Than Dirt Moving on, your team did well on the paint-ball challenge, but then on the next episode you had a bit of a meltdown at the team challenge. Most of us can understand having one moment of confusion, but to have two huge errors… tell us what happened there.

Jermaine I’m glad you asked about that one.

The weather out there was intense. The winds were whipping at 50 miles per hour. It’s not an excuse, but I will say that I changed my hearing protection. I used to wear these Peltors with speakers on them, but it’s difficult to hear when the wind is blowing, so I was usually wearing those but I was a bit leery about wearing them while running around. I was worried they might fall off. I opted instead to use my in-ear plugs, which basically cut out all sound.

I’m not saying that’s a valid excuse, but I think that if I had heard them yelling and screaming at me, I think I would have stopped in my tracks and reset myself.

The first mistake that I made, yeah, that was all me totally misunderstanding that I had to stay in the box and hand the weapon off to somebody so that they could go on to the next box. A little bit of my training kicked in: Never give up your weapon and get out of the foxhole and move to the next one. That might have had something to do with it too. I knew that the weapon had to get to the next foxhole, but I had a brain fart I guess as far as wanting to get it there fast.

I came back and shook it off, tried to reset I guess. The second mistake, I can definitely tell you how that one happened. I was resetting myself, looking up the hillside trying to figure things out. I thought, “OK. the first mistake is done, let’s get past that,” and I’m looking up the hill and I see an empty foxhole. I think “OK, that’s where I need to be when they finish their shots.”

I didn’t think to look behind me to see the other guys waiting at the start line ready to come. I just had it in my brain that I had to get to that last foxhole. What I failed to recognize was that that foxhole I was looking at was only the third foxhole. You really couldn’t see the fourth one which was at the top of the hill, over and past the rocks.

In my mind, I had the idea that that was where I needed to be, because I couldn’t see the last foxhole. I failed to realize that what I was looking at was only the third foxhole, not the fourth. Once I realized it was the third, after grabbing the rifle from Chris Tilley and running up there, I heard people screaming at me this time and then looked at the hill and realized this was not the last foxhole.

That’s when it really set in, the crushing realization that “I have really screwed this up. I’ve got to get this back on track again.”

Cheaper Than Dirt Before each event, the instructions are given out by Colby, but then you also have the rules arbiters on the show who are supposed to explain all the little nuances and details of each event. Were the instructions given out clear?

Jermaine They were. I understood that the first team would go first and last. In my mind, I knew that I would be one of the ones going first and last, not first and fourth. When I looked up the hill, that third position looked like the last position to me.

Cheaper Than Dirt Obviously your teammates were pretty upset about the whole thing. It seemed there was no question that you would be going to the elimination challenge.

Jermaine As soon as that last explosion went off and it wasn’t ours, before that even, I knew that all of the errors had been on my part. What really drove it home was that, even with my screw ups, we were still neck and neck right up to the end. In hindsight I realized just how far ahead of them we would have been.

Cheaper Than Dirt You still had to choose a second person to go to the elimination challenge with you. When it came time to make that decision, it seemed like the rest of the Blue Team kinda wimped out and let you make the call.

Jermaine At first the discussion centered around what to do, but I took full responsibility. After that, the question was how to choose who goes with me. That was the tough part, because everybody did their part except for me. I couldn’t put the blame on anybody else but myself. Still, I didn’t quite feel right about having them decide about who would go up against me when none of them deserved to be in the situation in the first place.

We kinda went round-robin for a pretty good while, much more than what was shown on TV. It finally came around to the decision that everyone would vote for me, which they should as it was all my fault. Then they would leave it up to me to decide who would go with me.

Leaving the decision to me was a mixed feeling. I didn’t like it, but it was really the only thing we could do to make it fair.

Cheaper Than Dirt Once you were at the nomination range, we saw you vote for Kyle. What were the reasons behind that decision?

Jermaine All night long I had to try and figure out who was going to go with me into the elimination round. I initially tried to figure it out base on that challenge by itself, but I couldn’t do it. Everyone did their part, including Kyle. In my mind, I totally disregarded that challenge and didn’t make my decision based upon it. I based my decision on the prior two challenges, and we had discussed beforehand making choices based on performance only.

The reason why I chose Kyle was because in the two previous challenges, he had shot the least amount of targets.

Cheaper Than Dirt After you voted for Kyle however, we saw the other team members select Jay instead. Were you surprised?

Jermaine Yeah. I don’t know if they caught my expression, but I was shocked. It was a total surprise to me when that happened. I went in there thinking they were all going to vote for me and I would select who went with me. That got turned around on me.

Cheaper Than Dirt Then we saw Maggie back up that vote with a vote for Jay during the tie breaker. Now you’re an experienced pistol shooter. The Glock 17s used in the elimination challenge were very much the same as your service weapon that you are intimately familiar with. One would think that you would have a natural advantage going into the challenge.

Jermaine When I was a constable I carried a Glock 22, so it was very familiar. When they told me what the weapon was and what the challenge was, I felt like it was just going to be like another day at work. I felt like it was redemption coming my way and I had a way to earn my way back into the house now. It totally lifted my spirits.

Cheaper Than Dirt At the challenge you had one round that went off and hit a no-shoot target. Did you think you might still have a chance after seeing that orange plate get hit?

Jermaine Everyone saw my reaction when I hit that orange plate. It was an immediate reaction and I knew that might come back to bite me. I had to get back into it and continue to shoot my targets. Those doors were opening and closing much faster than they appeared on TV.

Cheaper Than Dirt A lot of viewers felt that you were cheated by the scoring system that was used, like you got the short end of the stick.

Jermaine Reading the blogs and whatnot and reading the comments and whatnot, there were a lot of people who said “You hit seven and he only hit six,” but then again it did come down to the rule that the person who shot the least amount of friendly plates would win in the case of a tie. Jay hit zero friendly plates. I really can’t argue on that note. I guess it’s just how you viewed the rules, and a lot of people out there felt that it backfired on me.

Cheaper Than Dirt Was it worth it? Would you do it all again if you had the chance?

Jermaine Oh my gosh, yes. It was an enlightening experience that took me back to when I was young and learning the weapons for the first time. I just enjoyed it, being out there with no stress or work or phones or email to check, it was totally a relief to just go out there and just go have a good time and show off your skills.

Cheaper Than Dirt You’re a firearm expert. Did you do any preparation for the show or practice using other weapons?

Jermaine Hell yeah. It was kinda interesting the week before, I went to the range a lot and I actually shot a few different types of weapons, including a bow and arrow. I went out for a couple of hours one day and did that. I bought myself a slingshot and went outside and did that. I tried to throw some steak knives into trees. I also have a nice tomahawk that was given to me as a gift and I was tempted to start throwing that, but I didn’t want to ruin it.

But yeah, a lot of preparation was done practicing the fundamentals of firearm skills, and then I also had to think outside the box and realize that they could be throwing anything at me and prepare for whatever I might encounter.

Cheaper Than Dirt I want to thank you for taking with us today. Is there anything you’d like to add that we didn’t cover?

Jermaine Yeah, I’d like to give a shout out to all of the Facebook Fans following Top Shot and tell them thank you for their support. I’ll tell you right now my computer has just been going nuts with all the emails and messages from people who hated to see me leave. Thanks for all of your support, it means a lot to all of us.

The New Barrett M107A1


Barrett firearms have long been known for their impressive quality, accuracy, and reliability. The most well known Barret, the .50 BMG caliber 82A1/XM107 has made quite the name for itself through its impressive performance in military operations around the world.

Recently, Barrett announced the retirement of the Model 82A1. The XM107 has now been revamped and crafted into a replacement rifle, now dubbed the M107A1. From their press release:

It may be related to the Model 82A1®/M107®, but the M107A1 is far from a simple evolution. Driven by the demands of combat, every component was re-engineered to be lighter yet stronger. The result? A high-performance rifle that weighs four pounds less than the original M107, but is every bit as tough.

Designed to be used with a suppressor, this one-of-a-kind rifle allows you to combine signature reduction capabilities with the flawless reliability of the original Barrett® M107. An all-new bolt carrier group has been designed that is key to making the rifle suppressor-ready. its titanium four-port muzzle brake is engineered to work seamlessly with a quick-attach Barrett .50 BMG Suppressor.

The lightweight aluminum upper receiver features an integrated, rigid 27 MOA optics rail. Inside the upper receiver, the bolt carrier rides on a hardened steel, anti-wear strip for added durability. A thermal-guard cheek piece protects the user’s face from extreme heat or cold.

Advanced design and manufacturing make the M107A1 more precise than ever. The rear-barrel stop and front-barrel bushing are bolted and bonded with a compound similar to that used on space shuttles. A titanium barrel key and fully chrome-lined bore and chamber add to the rifle’s durability.

Enhanced modularity is also a key feature. The rifle’s rail-mounted aluminum rear grip can easily be reconfigured. The newly designed titanium and polymer monopod is easily adjustable from either side.

The M107A1 rifle’s lower receiver includes a new aluminum recoil buffer system that’s optimized for use with a suppressor. The bolt carrier’s components are protected with a mix of ultra-hard PVD coatings and advanced nickel Teflon® plating that increases lubricity, is corrosion-resistant and greatly eases cleaning.

Numbered witness holes on the magazine are just another example of how even the smallest detail makes a powerful difference.

Retail price list reflects U.S. commercial sales only. For international, military, or law enforcement pricing, please contact Barrett.


* Model: M107A1
* Caliber: .50 BMG
* Operation: Semi-Automatic
* Weight: 30.9 lbs (14 kg)

* Overall Length: 57” (145 cm)
* Barrel Length: 29” (73.7 cm)
* Rifling Twist: 1 turn in 15” (38.1 cm)
* Magazine Capacity: 10 Rounds


M107A1 Rifle System: 29” chrome-lined barrel, Flat Dark Earth finish (mid-year 2011), suppressor-ready muzzle brake, Pelican™ case, one 10-round magazine, flip-up iron sights, M1913 optics rail, detachable adjustable lightweight bipod legs, lightweight monopod, sling attach points and owner’s manual.
M107A1 Rifle System: 20” chrome-lined barrel, Flat Dark Earth finish (mid-year 2011), suppressor-ready muzzle brake, Pelican™ case, one 10-round magazine, flip-up iron sights, M1913 optics rail, detachable adjustable lightweight bipod legs, lightweight monopod, sling attach points and owner’s manual.

Winchester Announces M-22 Rimfire Round for Modern Sporting Rifles

Many shooters who love the idea of firing cheap, plentiful, .22 Long Rifle ammunition have long flocked to .22 conversions for their pistols and rifles. Many have just as quickly been turned off by the various issues encountered trying to reliably feed rimfire ammunition through a semiautomatic firearm.

Enter the M-22: Winchester has developed a new .22 caliber rimfire round that promises to feed and function reliably in most high-capacity semiautomatic firearms. From their press release:

Winchester® Ammunition continues to invest in its rimfire product line with the development of a new 22 LR round for use in Modern Sporting Rifles (MSR).

New for 2011, this bullet is designed and packaged specifically for use in the growing number of high-capacity MSR 22 LRs. The new M-22 features a 40-grain Plated Lead Round Nose bullet optimized for reliable feeding in high capacity magazines. In addition, the M-22 utilizes non-corrosive priming and clean burning powder that delivers an ultrafast 1255 fps velocity and exceptional accuracy.

“The M-22 is designed for the high capacity MSR and provides a smooth functioning, affordable option with great accuracy,” said Brett Flaugher, vice president of sales and marketing for Winchester Ammunition. “We made the M-22 available exclusively in a 1000-round bulk value pack to meet the demands of our customers at an attractive price point.”

The new M-22 LF Bullet features:
• Velocity: 1255 fps
• Grains: 40
• Bullet Type: Plated Lead Round Nose
• Cartridge: 22 LR
• Availability: 2011

Winchester is Proud to be a Leader in the Shooting Sports
Winchester® Ammunition pledged $500,000 to permanently endow the NRA’s Marksmanship Qualification Program, thus becoming the exclusive sponsor of the officially renamed Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program.

The Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program is a self-paced shooting development program. Open to adults and youngsters alike, the program measures an individual’s shooting proficiency against established par scores in 13 courses of fire across three disciplines: pistol, rifle and shotgun.

Team CTD Match review – USPSA club match

As the shooting season FINALLY gets underway now that we’re out of the doldrums of winter, it’s time to start bringing match video and review to the Shooter’s Log. One of the things that’s helped me grow as a shooter has been to watch film of myself. It’s a lot easier to see mistakes when you’re outside your body than it is from a first person view. Here’s our first match video of the year, courtesy of Loke Uei, a member of the Rudy Project team.

Stage 1: Start facing the targets, draw and shoot ’em as you see ’em. There 17 targets on this stage, and quite a few different ways to shoot it. Some shooters started by running all the way to the left and working their way back, I chose to start by shooting the middle targets as I went left, working back and hauling across the targets I’d already shot. Doing it this way saved me a reload.

Stage 2: Start with the gun unloaded and holstered, and engage the targets as you see them. The left and right side arrays were a stacked pair of paper targets requiring two shots each, and the middle array was a devilish plate rack with tiny 6 inch square plates.

Stage 3: To shoot this stage, I decided to draw to the paper targets, since I can get a much faster presentation on those than I can on the lone pepper popper. Not everyone shot it the way I did, as many shooters drew to the pepper popper and engaged that. I shot the 3 paper and the hit the popper. Coming in to the middle array, I went far too slow on the close targets. The far right array was very solid though.

Stage 4: I’d rather not talk about this stage. In all seriousness, this was my worst stage of the match. I had two misses during the strong hand only part of the stage, my shooting was far too slow on the close up targets, and I wasn’t moving very well either. This is one of those stages that I watch a lot to see where I made my mistakes and what I can do to stop them.

Stage 5: The classifier! In USPSA, you generally will shoot a classifier stage or standards course every match. Since you need at least four to get classified, this helps shooters get their appropriate classifications quickly. This stage is called Paper Poppers – you can shoot the steel or the paper first, but you have to do a reload before engaging the next array. I chose to shoot the paper first then the steel, and that worked out very well for me. Using my M&P in Limited-10, my hit factor would be good enough for an “A” classification if I were able to do that consistently. Interestingly, if I had shot the same hit factor in Production, it would have been good enough for Master class.

Stage 6: The final stage! Start in the box, engage the targets, move to the next box, engage those targets. Not a lot of real strategy here, just a good opportunity to execute the fundamentals of marksmanship.

Match thoughts
I need to work on two major areas right now – my shooting speed and my footwork. I shot a lot of “A-zone” hits, but for some reason I’m shooting far too slow on target that are up close, even when they’re partially obscured. I should be able to shoot a partial target at 3 yards just as fast as I could shoot a full target at 3 yards. My footwork needs work as well; right now I’m settling both feet in a shooting position before I start firing; I need to get my first foot down and be looking to break the shot the same moment my second foot hits. Right now it’s “run, plant, stand, shoot”. It should be “run, plant, shoot, run”.

That being said, this was a good start to my shooting season. A solid classifier run always feels good, and the final match results came my way: I won Limited-10 division outright, winning 4 of the 6 stages to start my season off with a win. With that in mind however, winning club matches are like winning baseball games in April. A win is still a win, but it’s not as nice as winning in September and October. We’ll have regular coverage of my matches shot for Cheaper than Dirt here on the blog, including major matches such as the Ruger Rimfire Championship, Bianchi Cup, and the ICORE Nationals!

NRA Whittington Center

I had the opportunity this weekend to swing by the NRA’s Whittington Center located just outside Raton, New Mexico. To say that the Whittington Center is one of the finest shooting facilities in the United States would be an understatement. The grounds are beautiful, the scenery absolutely breathtaking, and the amenities top notch.


Founded in 1973, the crown jewel of shooting facilities anywhere in North America, the 33,000-acre Whittington Center is home to the NRA’s finest events. Located near beautiful Raton, New Mexico, the Whittington Center hosts many competitive, educational, and recreational activities in all shooting disciplines. This world-class hunting venue provides shooters with the finest and most comprehensive facility in America year-round.

The Whittington Center Gun Club offers its members a variety of shooting ranges, including ranges for smallbore rifle, high power rifle, black powder, trap, skeet, sporting clays, hunter sight-in, PPC, smallbore rifle silhouette, highpower rifle silhouette, long range pistol silhouette, hunter pistol silhouette, benchrest, and practical pistol.

For young men and women, NRA Whittington hosts an annual Adventure Camp. It offers the chance of a lifetime for youths to learn about firearms and experience the thrill of tracking and stalking big game. All activities are under the guidance of the most skilled firearms instructors and outdoor specialists in the nation. Situated on some of the wildest country left in the West, there is no summer camp experience quite like it in the world.

Click here for the application (*.PDF) for the 2012 Adventure Camp

Back into the Pages of History…

Imagine yourself in wild mountain country near Raton, New Mexico, where cougars still roam and the skies are so wide you can almost see back in time. Back to the days when Ute raiding parties rode over the mesas. Back to when legendary mountain men like Jim Bridger and Kit Carson knew every trail between Raton and Santa Fe. Puffs of black powder smoke drifted into the clear mountain skies as buckskin-clad hunters brought down mule deer and elk, antelope and bear. These men were marksmen, some of the finest America has ever known. Their very lives depended on shooting and wilderness skills. Bridger and Carson are gone into the pages of history, but their spirit lives on. You’ll find it in the wild Rocky Mountains of northern New Mexico, where the NRA Whittington Adventure keeps the legends of our frontier history alive.

You Can Experience America’s Wild Frontier

How would you like to experience some of the wildest country left in the West, learning to hunt, shoot, and sharpen your outdoor skills? This is exactly what the NRA Whittington Adventure offers; a chance for young men and women to learn about firearms and experience the thrill of tracking and stalking big game, all under the guidance of the most skilled firearms instructors and outdoor specialists in the nation. There is no summer camp experience quite like it in the world.

Where Shooting & Outdoor Adventure Come Together

The NRA Whittington Adventure instructors will teach you the fundamentals of pistol, rifle, muzzleloading, and shotgun shooting skills with safety always foremost in mind. They’ll introduce you to the fine art of competitive shooting, rifle and pistol silhouette, and bullseye disciplines plus skeet and trap shotgun savvy. Or, how about learning to shoot black powder muzzleloading rifles, much like those the mountain men used? How about firing high power rifles at targets 1,000 yards away? Or even the thrill of a deserted mining town in Van Houten Canyon?

Experience the Outdoors in the Shadow of the Rockies

All good outdoorsmen know the fundamental skills crucial to the hunt. During the NRA Whittington Adventure you’ll learn more than just the basics. You’ll learn skills like wilderness map reading, how to prepare a hunting camp, animal tracking, how to use game calls, care of downed game, and an understanding of wildlife management techniques. The counselors want you to experience the magnificent Rocky Mountain back country during this adventure. You’ll go on a simulated big game hunt with a few days and nights under the stars. When this adventure is over, you will have gained knowledge and some of the outdoor skills needed to survive in wild mountain terrain. You will also have the opportunity to become Hunter Safety qualified in New Mexico. Maybe most important of all, the NRA Whittington Adventure is designed to encourage leadership and team spirit. You’ll be involved with a group of young people willing to cooperate in a true outdoor learning experience, an adventure like no other in America, in a setting that will take your breath away.

Come to the Best of the Rocky Mountain West

The NRA Whittington Center is without a doubt the most complete shooting center in the nation. The camp includes 33,000 acres of rugged western terrain, 10 miles southwest of Raton, all in the scenic high mesa country of New Mexico. As you might have guessed, the beautiful landscape abounds with wildlife. You’ll sleep in the Whittington Center’s log cabin housing units and eat in the dining facility.

A Total Equipment Package Plus Expert Training

The NRA Whittington Adventure supplies all firearms and ammunition. Pistols, rifles, shotguns, and blackpowder guns will be provided at the camp. You will be asked to bring your own shooting glasses and hearing protection, as well as your own personal outdoor items such as sleeping bags and hiking boots. But don’t worry, the Whittington Center will provide a complete list of equipment and travel information needed for this unique outdoor experience.

Skilled People Ready to Make Your Stay Worthwhile

The NRA is proud of the staff assembled for the NRA Whittington Adventure. All of the adult instructors possess tremendous outdoor and shooting skills. They were chosen because of a demonstrated ability to work with young people. A camp health officer will be on site (each camper will be asked to provide a current physical prior to the camp).

If you can’t take advantage of the lodging offered on site, local hotels are easy to find, and the one I stayed at offered an NRA discount.