What and Why: Having already set my mind to compete in TTG (The Tactical Games) 2022 months ago, I decided to get myself some private lessons to learn a bit about competitive shooting but also wanted to keep my defensive skills intact. Having never done any type of competitive shooting I figured it would be best to get an early start on learning. I could have just gone to a few local 3 gun matches but would prefer not to spend ammo merely embarrassing myself.
Why VerTac? I met the owner of VerTac, Brandon Verrett, at the Genesis Arms Demo Day in June 2021. While talking with him he mentioned that he often trains the police/SWAT teams in his local area. I mentioned to him my that it would be be great to be able to train with them and learn some defensive tactical skills as well competitive shooting techniques. His genuine enthusiasm, acceptance of what many may see as handicaps (gender, age, inexperience) and interest in helping me reach my goals to successfully compete in TTG is exactly what was looking for when I considered getting needed training.
Course Structure: Since I was the only student the structure was casual but challenging. Firing quickly is something I've wanted to become more proficient at and will be necessary for TTG. The first day was dedicated to pistol work starting at the 3 yds. The target was so close, I was at first concerned and confused. Of course I was going to be accurate at 3 yds however, shooting accurately and quickly at 3 yds is definitely more of a challenge. The VerTac target used first was a series of single one inch dots. The goal was one shot per circle, easy enough right? In time yes, took about 30-45 minutes to start putting every shot in the middle compensating for distance as we moved back further and further from the target to about 20 yds. This drill also incorporated fine-target transitions.
Before moving on to overcoming barriers Brandon tested my speed and accuracy with a VerTac target for 18 rounds total, drawing from the holster putting 5 round in a 6" circle, 5 rounds in a 3" circle, out of battery reload, 5 rounds in the 6" and then 3 shots one each in a 1" circle. Going as fast yet accurately as possible, this was quite the challenge but having built to up to this point I did it quite well, though I don't remember my time.
Day 2 was dedicated to rifle training. Much like the previous day we started very close to the target learning to shoot quickly yet accurately. Sight acquisition proved to be my biggest challenge since it's accuracy with rifles that has long been etched in my brain. I didn't take long to learn a more competitive mindset. While shooting the bullseye is of course the goal, hitting anywhere in a specific size is still a hit in competitive shooting. Shooting pairs and 5 shoot iterations for time, establishing my ready up stance before moving to the barricade for more challenging shooting. Having learned how to successfully navigate this obstacle the day prior I wasn't anticipating the challenges a rifle would present. I appreciate that the manner of teaching these tasks was first by communicating the objective then sending me on my way, deficiencies were very easily identified and instruction given to quickly over come them and by the 3rd go, I was managing my way through with little complication.
What I Learned: Shooting for accuracy has been so drilled into my head that I have struggled with shooting quickly for some time but knew that this was something that could impede me from having a favorable finish that meets my personal expectations at TTG. With the patience, critique, and positive feedback from the VerTac team, I learned that even at my current level of fitness and capabilities with firearms I could easily compete now and fair very well. This though would not meet my standards, therefore I will continue to train until it's my time to compete. My confidence is high following this training which was exactly what I had hoped to gain.
Gear Chosen, How it Performed
Rifle: My "Fancy Gun Build" This rifle was built to be fun and pretty but I wanted to give it a try in during this training due to the number of folks that criticize it being so skeletonized. This rifle performed flawlessly for hours, not a single malfunction was experienced! It's lightweight, soft-recoiling, and pretty! We had back ups in the event that there was any type failure.
The Ultradyne sights worked just as I'd hoped although I think I may want to opt for larger apertures prior to game day for quicker target acquisition. The Rise Armament Trigger has the perfect amount of pull, length and weight for my preferences. Although there is a small increase in recoil with the V Seven muzzle devise, it made a world of difference in shooting pleasure where noise is concerned compared to the previous brake.
Another part that I would change on this build before competition is the grip, while it matches the overall esthetics of the skeletonized look of the upper/lower receivers the finger ledge does no quite marry up as well and at times was quite unpleasant on the hand. This may not play a huge roll in overall performance given the amount of time between iterations but would certainly need to be changed for any further course work.
Pistol: It's quite the privilege to have the Canik Mete SFT to use for this competition. I've been impressed with my ability to operate the platform since my first opportunity to shoot one. The sights make for quick target acquisition but I do believe that to perform better during competition that I think I may want a fiber optic on the front sight (if allowed). Unfortunately, red dots are not allowed (to my knowledge) or I would be taking advantage of the guns optics ready feature and would be using the Shield Sights RMSC . Here is more information and/or shooting impressions and performance
Eye Protection: Given the overcast skies of far Northern Idaho or as Graham calls it, "Nidaho," it seemed the perfect occasion to don the clear MagPul Helix Sunglasses that are ballistic rated to Z87+ and MIL-PRF 32432 standards. They clarity of the lenses made training easy though by the time we'd finished dinner and were back at our room I noticed that the width of the arms had left some sensitivity on the tops of my ears. Despite the minimal discomfort they were again my choice for both days. I appreciate the added protection in the way that they wrap (though not fully) without causing peripheral obstruction or distractions.
Vest: In the previous article prefacing training I mentioned that I would be using a different plate carrier, my purchase was unfortunately cancelled (address issues) and I was not able to get another without it costing a lot more money for over night shipping before our scheduled departure. Thankfully Graham had an Eagle Industries Tactical Ultra Low-Vis Plate Carrier available that is adjustable. I spent the better part of an hour getting everything adjusted to fit my smaller frame as they were previously adjusted to fit Graham as seen in the Sep/Oct 2021 Tactical Life Magazine. While the vest definitely fit better it still didn't hold the small plates I'd purchased tight against the body in a way that prevented bouncing which at the end of 2 days had left bruises.
Training Plates: Rogue Cast Weight Vest Plates were chosen because combined with the previously chosen vest and the 5lb plates they met the weight requirements for TTG. This seemed the perfect solution and it may still work once I have a chance to try them with a right sized vest. I can attest that these plates absolutely do not meet my needs with the carrier used for this occasion. They did not fit appropriately in the carrier and in addition to the bruises mentioned above left a nice goose egg on my forehead for several days following a failed attempt to put them on in rapid fashion. I concluded that while training plates are an easy way to meet the weight requirements I think I would prefer traditional armor even if it means a little more weight and cost. It's not like I haven't worn them before.
Belt: In support of and having a better understanding of equipment needed for competition, Graham graciously purchased for my use the Double Alpha Academy Premium Competition Belt . This belt is similar to one I used while training with Center-T two years ago in that there are an inner and outer belt that attaches via Velcro making the removal of a loaded belt simple however, the rigidity of the belt and using it in conjunction with the belt loops on pants I wore made it quite uncomfortable.
Pouches: After a quick look over magazine holders and pouch options that Graham had available we opted for the following as best options. This will definitely be something that I continue to shop for. The dump pouch was entirely too unstructured and large for my frame. I do like the Wilder Tactical style mag pouches for the pistols mags but may opt for something different for the rifle mags.
Pistol: Older generation Dara OWB Mag Carrier
Dump Pouch: Discontinued 5.11 Dump Pouch
Pants: 5.11 Defender Flex Slim , 5.11 is often my go-to for gear as they are one of only a few companies that offer women's products built to withstand tactical type training and are stylish. In my initial packing I had put my 5.11 Atlas boots out to take and for whatever reason they were left behind but I really wish I'd had them. The locking eyelets and lightweight design would have been much more suitable than my cute white running shoes that are now forever ruined however, a sacrifice well worth the cost.