Sunday, September 16, 2007

New/Old Colt Part II, IDPA Match

The local shooting club puts on an IDPA-based match pretty much every month. I say, “-based,” in that it is recognizable as such, and it has some of the less-logical restrictions of full bore IDPA, but the club guys are a bit more flexible.
I'm not a member, but they allow non-members to compete for an extra five bucks entry fee. Perfectly reasonable. They have a safe place to shoot, and a LOT of really good hardware that makes it a pleasure to shoot with them. Probably most importantly, the organizers have a sense of humor and make everyone feel welcome. Last time I had a fistful of dollars (tm) in my pocket, I looked into joining the club. Good idea, bad timing. Their initiation fees and monthly dues had both gone up since the last time I'd checked. Most importantly, though, was the fact that they seem to have a more-or-less constant, fairly lengthy waiting list for membership. Oh, well - - I can still go out and shoot with 'em occasionally. They also have frequent carbine matches, a good opportunity to exercise an AR15, Mini 14, or a pistol caliber carbine. With current prices on .223 ammo, it becomes a touch pricey, but every couple of months - - Why not?

So, I made sure I had plenty of .45 ACP loaded up, and my 1948-built Colt Government Model was clean, so I . . . BUT WAIT A SEC! What about my latest acquisition? I've written that it's the spit-and-image of the principal sidearm, carried by US forces into harm's way in the first quarter of the XX century. (Second eighth??) And, in the waste not, want not spirit of that bygone era, the 1911s weren't junked just because the 1911A1 was adopted. Some were updated, many were not. I've seen several photos of WW II personnel packing pistols with flat mainspring housings. I'd hazard to guess that thousands of1911s still do nightstand duty, to this very day. (And wouldn't some of us eagerly swap the present owners a new 9mm for them?)
So - - why not shoot the match with my new production, WW I style 1911 Colt? On SA morning, I loaded up my gear and set out. Yes, I took along my Number 1 Govt. Model, but forgot the Band-Aids. I mean, test firing a 1911 with short tang and big broad hammer is one thing, but doing rapid deployments through an entire match is, perhaps, another. During the testing, I'd done a couple of draw-and-fires without drawing blood, but I had no delusions.
I met my pal Cliff – another old fart – and we visited while I rigged out with an old Cobra Gunskin holster and an ancient Milt Sparks double mag pouch.

I won the pouch in one of the first IPSC matches I'd shot, back in 1979. I bought the holster to use in the 1981 IPSC Nationals, and both items had seen a lot of use over the years. I also wore a Safariland single mag spring clip.

In the retro spirit of the day, I wore my Gunsite T-shirt I'd gotten while Studying at the Feet of the Master: Arizona, 1980. It fit me better back then..

"Shooter, make ready"

Stage One -- Headshots

Cliff, on the steel plates

Shooting the Texas Star

Well, I didn't exactly cover myself with glory this month. I wasn't in last place, but I was closer to the bottom than to the top. I attribute this to a variety of reasons. The very small sights of the 1911 simply DO NOT pick up as quickly as do the broad, high profile sights fitted to my “regular match” Govt. Model. In fact, they're not near so rapid as even the regular, low profile sights on a 1911A1. And I found myself taking an extra instant to raise the point of aim on the targets. There's a lot of muscle memory built in after so many years of shooting with an arched mainspring housing.

Heading down the hallway.

Speaking of muscle memory: I'd given some thought to really doing it the old way. There's always a stage or two that begins with firing a series of quick shots at close range targets. I'd done some one hand shooting during the initial range testing and it worked well, but for mostly low impacts. I figured it'd be fun, and entertaining, to do the single-hand point-and-fire thing at the close up targets. Well, conditioning took over, and when the timer buzzed, I came to Weaver as rapidly as I could and was shooting before I recalled “the plan.” Oh, well, I did poorly enough anyway.

One excuse I cannot play, though. The pistol ran perfectly. I took along five good magazines, and hand loads made with Ranier plated bullets over W-231 powder. Every round had been gaged by dropping it into the chamber of an extra barrel. With only some sixty rounds fired during the initial range testing, functioning was flawless. This course of fire would have run about 75 rounds, if fired “clean.” Most stages allowed makeup shouts, so I probably fired around 85.

SOME unkind individuals might venture the opinion that I'm slowing down with age - - That the old hand-eye coordination isn't what it once was, that my visual acuity through my bifocals is not what it was at Orange Gunsite or traveling the IPSC circuit. A crippled hip and a bad back prevent truly rapid movement. Well, all I can say to that is - - -Maybe. Okay, certainly. There was a time, boys and girls . . . . Yeah, there WAS. So I rely on stealth and cunning instead of blazing speed. Maybe I can't “beat the drop” as in days of yore, but some of the ol' dogs still have some bite. That's why I keep shooting with the youngsters.

So the day was beautiful, the company was pleasant, the course of fire was challenging, and a good time was had by all. I didn't win the match, or even scare the leaders, but I was there, and I had fun, shooting the old pattern pistola. And you know, I don't even have a bloody spot on my right-hand thumb web. Well, I've lost some weight since i last did a lot of shooting with a short-tang gun with a broad hammer.

Impressions? About what I expected. The 1911 served me just as well as its ancestor would have served an AEF Doughboy in the Great War. I wouldn't hesitate to carry it into a cold, dark place, in preference to most handguns. Sure, if available, I'd prefer my later style commercial .45. The good sights and arched housing are indeed improvements on the old design. But the old design still works.

More on guns and gear in future installments.


Papa Ray said...

Great post and observations. At our little club, most of us are in the over fifty gang, there are almost no younger shooters nor many women. But the population hereabouts has changed drasticly over the last decade or so.

If you know what I mean.

My 1911A1 (TRP stainless) was sold because of money problems some years back and I never replaced it for some reason.
maybe I just can't see spending that amount of cash at my age on another pistol.

Take Care

Papa Ray
West Texas

jimbob86 said...

Orange Gunsite........Wow.

Mark Seymour said...

Looks like you're ready for Cowboy Action Shooting. It's a) the most fun you can have with your clothes on, b) easier on the ol' body than that IPSC crap, and c) uses a whole new set of good ol' Colts (and Winchesters, and some shotgubs).
Rico says check it out
There's a couple of SASS outfits in the area. See their website at to check locations and times.

crazy baby lainy said...

I don't know much about guns, but you are teaching me some and I appreciate that.
Great blog!

James E. Griffin said...

Don't underestimate how important it is for the young dogs to learn the ol' dogs tricks, and especially some of the ol' dogs mind set. Real world knowledge of how and why to react when the flag flies needs to be passed on.

First. Self defense is a personal responsibility that does not cease as we pass our physical prime. (OK, in my case, add mental to that sentence.) A goblin ain't gonna be impressed with how you used to preform in better circumstances.

Second. You shot this with the kind of gun and gear reasonable for the "street." When the flag flies, you have to make the best of the equipment you've got on you. Not back in the car, or at home.

Third, being out there inspires the youngsters. Perhaps your example will get the "hot shots" to take themselves a bit less seriously, to the point where, just maybe, they'll relax enough to take some real world lessons to heart. That they might learn more if they try to impress on-lookers less.

And most importantly, your example is always teaching younger folk SOMETHING. Like how we expect armed folk to act in society. Your habits, good and bad, rub off on those around you.

If I make a royal ass of myself under arms, abuse my right to bear arms, I for one will have to explain it to Col. Cooper in the hereafter. Not a comforting thought.

phlegmfatale said...

Looks like fun!

Matt G said...

Hm. How did I miss this post before, and that you'd taken the new/old Colt to IDPA?

JPG said...

Pretty cleverly concealed, huh?

I knew you were on the schedule to Protect & Serve that morning, and I didn't feel like giving you the, "Nener nener, I'm gonna have fun and YOU can't!" thing.

And, I only decided to shoot the 1911 that very morning. Worked out pretty well . . . .

comatus said...

Mr. Griffin, those are good points, but your final one says so much in so few words that, with permission, I'd like to make it Rule Twelve for my next batch of students...

Explain it to the Colonel. Indeed.

James E. Griffin said...

To comatus: Sorry, I hadn't checked back on this thread until now. Mostly, to look again at that very nice holster. Even has a tensioning screw. By all means, permission granted.

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