Great, fun match, but LOL I did soooooooooo badly! I timed-out on 2 stages (that is, I was shooting so badly I failed to make the 180 second time limit)...note to self...dropping shotgun shells on the ground is NOT the same as reloading your shotgun! A couple of times with my pistol, an FNP-45, I thought, hey, maybe if I actually looked at my sights some of that steel would fall down! I was shooting the FNP .45 and my old Remington Vang Comp 870 pump because we're filming at the He-Man 3-Gun, as you guys know..that requires a .45, a .308 or .30-06 and a pump 12 gauge.
And yes, I will once again be basically and profoundly over my head! Boy, it's easy to say that the way to learn a new sport (or anything, for that matter) is to throw on the ole white belt and leap right in...it's a bit more painful to do it. As the great George Leonard so articulately noted, we monkeys want to keep doing the things we do well and not do the things we don't. I'm a good cowboy shooter (to wit, I know the sport, the rules, the quirks, the benchmarks, the training regimen; my gear is debugged; I'm comfortable running out on the edge, blah blah). At various times in my life I've been a good IDPA and IPSC competitor. I'm at the stage in 3-Gun where I'm doing everything badly, even the things (like the pistol) that I can normally do well.
That's pretty consistent with how I learn. Everybody learns differently...turns out learning is a very individual thing. Everyone learns at different paces, on a different curve, etc. Me, I'm an instructor's nightmare...I tend to stumble around for far too long before I hit the uptick in the learning curve. I remember when I was going for a deep air dive certification before mixed gas and full cave. My instructors despaired whether I could complete the course at all, but on the day of the test the instructors said it appeared as if a different person showed up. Everything went off with only minor hitches (note to future divers...throwing up in one's regulator really, really sucks). Do I really wish I was one of the Genetically Superior who pick everything up quick like bunny? Oh, who doesn't? But decades of training in many, many things have taught me how to teach me.
And learning new stuff is fun. I wish I had more time for training, but once agin, don't we all?
The one thing that worked perfectly was the Blade Tech TMMS system I've been trying out. Essentially, it's an easy-on, easy-off system for accessories like magazine holsters, shotshell holders, even holsters. The TMMS system has a plastic plate that mounts on the venerable Blade Tech Tek-Lok for attaching accessories to the belt. The plate is locked onto the belt and various accessories can then be easily clipped on and off, similar to the Safariland ELS system.
The reason for this overkill is that 3-Gun has a lot of crap beside the gun attached to the gun belt — pistol magazine holders, shotgun shell holders, rifle magazine holders, coffee pot, etc. And different stages require a different gear configuration. If it's a pistol/rifle stage, you don't need all those shotgun shells, but you might want an additional pistol magazine. If it's a shotgun-only stage, you need a small red wagon full of shotgun shells...lacking that, you'll need additional shotgun shell holders. It's helpful to be able to pop those accessories on and off.
I used one of my regular Wilderness Tactical Instructor Belts, but Blade-Tech not has their own Velcro-back inner/outer belt competition system. The outer belt with the plates attached can be peeled off, so you can set up the belt once with the plates and leave it.
I do like the modularity of the system. I've got a lot of Blade Tech stuff, most of it Tek-Lok backed. It's easy (and inexpensive) to convert it to the easy-on/easy-off TMMS. Do note that IDPA has rigid holsters rules that would negate using any easy-on/easy-off system.
Here's my disclaimer...I've been using Blade Tech since there was a Blade Tech...company founder Tim Wegner is an old and good friend of mine...they are NOT sponsors. They give me some free stuff, but I've paid MSRP for a lot more of it.
Shotgun-wise, I love my Vang Comp 870 and it is a primary home defense weapon, but it's not a bit "gamey." For a start, it's a 7-round tube, as opposed to a 9-round tube on my semi auto Remington Versa Max that I used in Oregon last year. Seven rounds means mo' loading mo' loading mo' loading! More importantly from a gamey viewpoint, on the 870 the shell carrier pops back up after each round; when you're trying to load 2 rounds at a time under the clock, you find yourself fighting the carrier. When you look at something like the Benelli Nova, which I messed with a bunch in Italy recently, the shell carrier pops down and stays down, making it much easier to load (at least 2 of the shotgun rounds I left on the ground Saturday was because I managed to let the 870 carrier pop them out of my hand like a piece of toast launched from an aggressive toaster. The Nova also has a button on the bottom of the forearm that stops the gun from feeding a round from the tube, so, say if the tube is loaded with birdshot and you need a round or 2 of backshot or slugs, you can hand-feed the round/s.
I've been working with the Carbon Arms TWinS shotgun shell system. After fumbling the first stage shotgun reload, I hit it pretty good on the second stage and it was quick (well, quick by my standards). What I am attempting to master is a weak-hand 2-round reload...I flip the shotgun over and place the buttstock under my right arm...I draw 2 shotgun shells off the holder and push them into the tube...repeat as necessary. I chose the weak-hand load because I use a weak-hand load on my double-barreled shotgun in cowboy, and when I shot a Winchester '97 pump I single-loaded over the top of the receiver with my weak hand.