With faster stages and faster scoring, the Safariland Expedition Multi-Gun Match allows a squad to shoot five stages in under four hours. The match takes place March 14 – 17, 2019 at the Pro Gun Club in Boulder City, Nevada .
We checked in with Team Safariland member Keith Garcia to find out his top 7 tips on how to prepare to have your best match.
TIP #1 – HAVE RELIABLE GEAR
“The best thing you can do to prepare, and the first order of business is to make sure all of your gear runs reliably 100% of the time,” says Garcia.
This year, the match introduces a brand new format of two guns per stage, rifle shots under 100 yards, minimal shotgun loading, faster stages and faster scoring. “The way the match is set up, all the stages are very fast,” says Garcia.
“The first thing you’ve got to do is make sure all your gear is reliable. Because it’s no fun when you get there and your gear doesn’t run.” For instance, if you’re on a 30 second stage, you don’t want to wind up with a gear malfunction that could cost you 10 to 15 seconds in penalties.
TIP #2 – PRACTICE YOUR TRANSITIONS
This year there will be two guns per stage, and to win, you have to have fast transitions. “You really need to be efficient in how you’re discarding one gun and then picking up the other one and making that as seamless as possible, and cutting down on that lag time between the two.”
To improve his transition time, Garcia likes to do a lot of dry fire where he’s practicing manipulating the guns, and practicing transitioning between the two guns.
TIP #3 – DON’T STOP
Don’t stop to shoot. “If you can actually shoot targets on the move and progress through the stages smoothly, at the end your time will be better,” Garcia advises.
Instead of stopping and shooting, try to flow through the stages by shooting on the move. Even if you’re not moving really fast, but consistently and smoothly, you’ll have a faster average time at the end.
TIP #4 – PERFECT YOUR PACE
Find your perfect pace. “A lot of people when they shoot on the move, they either go way too fast or way too slow,” adds Garcia. There’s a middle ground where you move at your fastest pace and still shoot accurately.
The secret? Simply walk. And that means no duck walking, lowering your centre of gravity, keeping two feet on the ground or anything else out of the ordinary. That just complicates things.
Practice by simply walking in your normal walking style, looking at the sights and trying to keep your gun steady. “As soon as you find the pace where you can keep it steady, that’s the pace you can shoot at accurately.””
TIP #5 – GET TO THE MATCH EARLY
Get there early and make a good plan for each stage. “The most important stages in a match are the fastest ones. If you don’t have a good plan in those ones you’re going to fall farther behind,” says Garcia.
TIP #6 – HYDRATE
The match takes place in the desert, so you want to drink a bottle of water at every stage, so you can finish the day feeling good. Even though the match won’t be as hot as previous years (which took place in June), it’s still a desert climate which sucks the water out of you.
TIP #7 – TAKE MENTAL BREAKS
One last tip—mentally you shouldn’t try and stay ‘up’ the whole match. You can’t operate at peak performance—where you’re trying to stay focused at 100% capacity—for the entire competition.
It’s better to be laser focused two minutes before you shoot, during the shoot, and then stop and relax. Go pick up targets for other people. Load your magazines. Drink more water. And then a couple of minutes before you shoot again, raise your mental game to that sharp, focused level. “You can continue to do that throughout the day but if you try and stay at that high performance level the whole day you’ll just crash and burn,” says Garcia.
Finally, Garcia reminds us that “Everybody’s there to make sure you’re having a good time. If you haven’t signed up, make sure to sign up because there are still a few open spots.””
At the Safariland Expedition Multi-gun match in 2018, Keith Garcia won the 3-gun match, came 2nd in the pistol match and 2nd in the PCC match. We asked him what gear he plans to bring this year:
“I also have an ALS release on my pistol holster, and the ELS on my entire belt so I can reconfigure quickly. That’s one of the key things; the ELS allows me to take pouches off my belt and then substitute it for other ones without taking my belt off or sliding things around. They’re just basically clips that hold the gear on the belt. That way I can clip them on clip them off and it makes it real easy between stages.
“I’ll have my ear protection, the Liberator® HP which is really good hearing protection and it’s new from Safariland. They’re great because you can hear everything and it has noise cancellation software in it that makes it a pleasure to shoot.