Wild Rose Action Shooters’ first 3-Gun of the season was a 5 stage event at Spruce Grove range just west of Edmonton. On the drive up I was worrying about the ground being a Passchendale-grade mess, and while there were a few mucky spots during resets, the course itself was dry and solid.
I had an interesting shoot with my MKA 1919 suffering a critical failure after two trigger pulls. (Critical, not catastrophic, more on that later.)
There were some nice “shooters choice” opportunities at this event. Nothing bugs me like a 3-Gun stage that’s written like a theater director reading a script. Here there was some looseness in the stages that boiled down to “These are your targets, where your feet can be, and what gun you need to shoot them with. How you get from A to B is up to you.”
Here’s a rough stage rundown from memory:
Stage 1: A graduated bay with 25, 50, and 100 yard targets. Shooter starts with their rifle, engages close paper targets, then mid-range paper targets along the way to a VTAC barrier and shoots far steel flashers. Cut back towards the 50 yard berm, dump the last rounds into a close paper target, then dump the rifle. Grab your shotty, nail a pair of clays, clear a forest of steel poppers, and then put one slug on a close paper target. Transition to handgun, where there are four small coffin-shaped steels, and a “hostage” setup. This was a swinger with a no-shoot attached, where hitting the steel “leg” would cause the no-shoot to swing out of position exposing a paper target behind it. Lots of fun. If you were smart, you knocked the leg out then tagged the steel while the no-shoot slowed down. For the record: I wasn’t smart.
Stage 2: Out the back of a quonset, start with rifle. Shooter sprints to a mat, goes prone and rings steel. Then rings the steel again off a VTAC barrier. Ditch the rifle, retrieve shotgun, and clear a field of 8 close clays and 4 dropping steel targets. I really liked the opportunity to go prone on this stage. Shooting in Alberta in March is likely to have some pretty soupy ground conditions, so adding the mat was a good call all round. More comfortable, less messy, well defined shooting box.
Stage 3: Stages 3 & 4 shared the wide central field, where WRAS used the diagonal angle to maximize their rifle distance. Start in one corner, and engage paper targets in the opposite corner (approx 80 yards?) Ditch the rifle, retrieve your shotgun, then run the length of the range to a charge line where there were a handful of clay stands and clay-thrower poppers. If you haven’t shot these, it’s a large coffin shaped steel target that when shot, falls onto a lever and launches a clay pigeon into the air. Lots of fun. Ditch the shotgun, and clear a close-range plate rack with pistol.
Stage 4: Same start position as stage 3, but shooting straight ahead instead of the diagonal. Engage 3 partially covered paper targets with the rifle, then grab your shotgun and haul up to a snow fence barricade. Two ports, two target arrays, and you were required to transition between them. 3 steel poppers from one, and a pair of slug targets from the other.
Stage 5: Inspired by Larry Vicker’s recent Collateral video, the opening of this stage required the shooter to start in a surrender position, engage a single IDPA target, then neutralize a second IDPA on the side followed by an alpha “eye-box only” target. This was all fast, fun, and close range. The stage description encouraged qualified shooters to engage the first target from retention. After your Tom Cruise moment is complete, ditch the handgun, and run back to retrieve your shotgun and go through the breaching door. Through the door was a snow fence hallway with barrel barricades, a selection of 7 clays and 3 slug targets straight ahead. This was one of those nice “shooter’s choice” moments where you could start on the clays, then switch to slugs, or start sending slugs down-range as soon as you were through the door. I opted for the latter, and that’s where my problems started…
My shotgun is in a bad way. Starting on Stage 5, I breached the door with my Mka 1919, sent the first slug flying, and then got a dead trigger. The action was stuck forward, and I smacked it pretty hard to get the chamber open and the empty hull removed. After some inspection, it looked like the roll pin from the extractor had worked its way out of the BCG and seized up solid. That gun was done for the day.
This sucked: I’d never cleaned that shotgun all last season, and found its performance excellent aside from a few magazine issues. I’d had several range sessions with the gun over the winter and never had any problems. This was the first failure, and it was a major one. Fortunately, I was able to borrow an LAK12 Puma, which proved an interesting experiment.
I’ve been watching the Puma since it was released. Being a Tavor shooter, the idea of a magazine-fed bullpup shotgun is appealing. Add in NR status, adjustable gas system, built in flat-top rail, and a last round bolt hold open: it seems like a winner.
I encountered two major drawbacks with the Puma, which fortunately share a simple solution.
Problem 1: It wouldn’t always cycle target load. I was assured it was on the correct gas setting, but at least once a stage it would fail to pickup the next round and I’d have to rack the action manually after a click with no bang.
Problem 2: It wouldn’t always knock down steel. The puma doesn’t have thread in chokes, and it’s just a cylinder bore. There were several times where I could see shot splashing off the steel targets, but not putting them down.
Solution: To add more oomph and improve reliability, I’d be shooting heavier loads through this gun for any and all 3 gun shoots. #4 or #6 shot at least. I think at least one industrious Canadian has already removed the Chinese flash hider and threaded their barrel for Remington chokes. Not a bad idea either.
The other upgrade that would help make the Puma more competitive is an enhanced magazine release. It should be fairly straight forward to fit some kind of an extended paddle onto the left side release, and it would definitely speed up reloads.
On a personal note I feel like my winter dry-firing has really improved my pistol shooting this season. 10 minutes daily. There wasn’t a lot of handgun in these 5 stages, but I enjoyed what there was. In 2014, I was fairly sure my handgun game was my weakest component in 3-Gun, and am glad to see that turning around.
Now I just have to revive my Mka 1919 and see if I can trust it again, or whether it’s time to get a Puma of my own…