3 Great Lessons From Getting Disqualified at Indoor Nationals


Ox here, from Dry Fire Training Cards…

A couple of months ago, I sponsored and shot in the Smith & Wesson IDPA Indoor National Championships. Many of you knew I was getting ready for it and heard rumors of what happened, and I want to share exactly what happened. It was simultaneously horrible and awesome, and hopefully you can get as much enjoyment and education from my pain and comedy of errors as my friends have.  🙂

The fun starts off when I’m getting ready to go out the door to go to the airport and realize that I haven’t taken my vitamins.  I see a glass of water by our water filter, figure I’ll save a few seconds and pick it up and proceed to chug my vitamins…only it’s not water.

It’s the hydrogen peroxide that my wife used to clean our toothbrushes the night before! If you’ve ever gargled with hydrogen peroxide or put it on a wound and saw all of the bubbles form…imagine 4 ounces rapidly reacting and expanding in a sealed balloon (my stomach)

I used my google-fu and figured out what I needed to do to neutralize it, but was still burping violently, had a headache, and was nauseous for the next hour and a half while I drove to the airport.

I dropped my truck off at the Ford dealer to get some warranty work done on the way to the airport.  The service guy started driving my truck off before I got my stuff out and I had to chase after him to get my stuff.  This was about half an hour after I took the hydrogen peroxide and running seemed to re-ignite the reaction in my gut. In the rush and my altered state, I left my coat in the truck…which was also my cover garment for the match 🙂

I made my flight and got to Springfield Mass.  There were 6-10 foot piles of snow along every street/road, the temperature was in the teens, and my coat was back home in my truck.  I called stores in 2 states in a 50 mile radius for almost an hour to find one that had a L or XL coat in stock…they were all sold out because of the extreme cold they’d had the previous few weeks.

Now I had what would technically be called a big-ass Carhartt coat to keep warm and use as a cover garment. Not a high-speed, light weight fishing/photography vest like most guys use for their cover garment, but much more like what I wear most of the year in real life.

Before the match, I bought a new Glock 26 and bought my first drop-in trigger from Zev. I happened to talk with the match armorer (Scott Folk from Apex Tactical) there and found out that my Zev trigger knocked me out of the stock service pistol division and put me into the “enhanced” service pistol division.  I am not classified in enhanced service pistol, so it looked like I was going to be DQ’d.

3 people offered me their guns in the first 10 minutes…no questions asked and unbelievable.  The match director, “King” Bob Stonehill, even found a new Glock 26 for me at a dealer in Connecticut and was going to have it driven down for me to use which was off-the-hook unbelievable.  In the 30 minutes between when he found it, found me, and called back, it sold.

Not to be deterred, Bob found a guy (Tom) with a “well loved” Glock 19 who said I could use it.  (Tom was, again, unbelievable.) Scott, the armorer, took the stock trigger out of Tom’s Glock 19 and put it in my 26.  Now I had my gun, but not my trigger, but I was fine with it.  I wanted my trigger, but I knew I could run anything I had in my hands.

That night, I figured I’d better put in a lot of dry fire time with the 26 and the new trigger instead of just using my SIRT.  The holster that I had had an odd quirk. It was MODEL specific.  In my hurry to pack, I saw that my SIRT was holstered, figured I was good for a holster, and left it at that.  Once I started trying to draw and dry fire, I couldn’t get the 26 subcompact to release from the Glock 17 full-size holster.

Comp-Tac was there, so I bought a holster that fits all frame lengths…but it had the drop attachment installed and didn’t have a wrench included to swap it out.

This was the night before the indoor national championships.  On a hunch, I went downstairs to the mixer, found Neil Feathers, who helped me a ton before Back-up-gun Nationals, and he happened to have an allen wrench that worked, and now I had a holster and put in dry fire time until I was comfortable with the new trigger.

Despite all of the challenges, I went to bed feeling confident, excited yet calm, and ready to go.  Then I got a text from my alarm company telling me that the alarm was going off at the house and police were on the way.  I couldn’t get a hold of my wife and couldn’t get a hold of the babysitter who was watching the boys.  Finally, I called off the police and got a neighbor to go over (faster), reached my wife, and reached the babysitter.  It was a false alarm because the boys left a helium balloon out that triggered the motion sensor. There went an hour of sleep.

So, I went to bed and was good to go for morning…with a new trigger, new holster, and new cover garment.

First stage was a little rough getting the timing/cadence in tune with the trigger.  2nd, 3rd, and 4th stages were awesome and it looked like I was sitting in 2nd place in my division/classification.

Then they did the equipment check.

I was shooting Freedom Munitions 115gr ammo that’s supposed to fly at 1150fps.  It chronoed on the 5 1/2″ test gun that they used for every other shooter in the mid 950s to low 1,000s.  It needed to be at 1089.  I was DQ’d.  After all of the preparation, flying from coast to coast, rental car, 5 nights in a hotel, and almost a week away from home, I was disqualified.  It sucked.

They let me shoot the rest of the match for no score.  I was “a little off” for a couple of stages, and then did great on the last 5-6 rounds.

So, a few big takeaways…

First, if you want to try sport shooting and haven’t because you have the idea in your head that everyone will be mean, impatient, and laugh at you, they won’t. The shooting sports are made up of an awesome group of people.  Every group or organization will have roses and turds, but I’ve found way more awesome people in sport shooting than turds.

Some may be recovering drill sergeants and yell more than they need to, but they’re just trying to keep everyone safe and they’ve got a lifetime of mental baggage from dealing with 18-20 year olds.

Be patient with them and they’ll keep you from hurting yourself. You may only yell and use a loud voice when you’re angry but drill sergeants and firearms instructors communicating with 5-20 students shooting guns with ear protection on yell and even scream just to be heard.

Second, I was, frankly, very excited about how cool and calm I was the night before the National Championships considering all of the cascading problems that had happened. It wasn’t a case where I was saying mantras or trying to convince myself to be calm…I would just get a big smile on my face from time to time realizing how calm I was considering the onslaught of problems. (there were other, BIGGER, problems that I didn’t even mention)

This calm wasn’t an accident. It was a combination of confidence through repetition, stress inoculation, and state control.

The confidence through repetition came from doing a few hundred dry fire reps per night and a good bit of live fire practice to validate the dry fire…roughly in a 9:1 ratio.

The stress inoculation came through training with pain stimulus, under time pressure, force on force, and performing in front of others with high expectations at the risk of embarrassment.

The state control came primarily from the work I’ve done with Matt Seibert at Insight Firearms Training which uses techniques and tactics to blunt the release of adrenaline in extreme stress situations and to consciously, predictably, and instantly trigger the proverbial “ice flowing through my veins” state that someone who’s “been there, done that, and got the T-shirt” has when they’re in a life or death situation for the umpteenth time. This extreme brain hack allows mere mortals to perform at elite levels.  It really is one of the few “holy grails” in shooting and you can find out more by going >HERE<

Third, I was initially very pissed at Freedom Munitions, but have become a huge fan.

In short, I bought their standard range ammo that was 115 grain 9mm rated at 1150 feet per second. It was not and is not intended for competition. It’s purpose is to reliably cycle stock handguns with the minimum amount of powder and recoil so that shooters can have an optimal practice experience.

They had recently re-tweaked the load and lowered the muzzle velocity. Since it’s not intended to be a competition load, that’s not a big deal for 90% of their customers.

The industry expectation is that if you’re shooting competitively in major matches, you’ll run the ammo you’re going to use through a chronograph before the match…regardless of whether it’s factory ammo or hand loaded ammo.

Their new VP of marketing, Janson Jones (3 Gun Nation Shooter), helped spearhead 2 new ammo options…”Super Match” and “Hush”. I’ve shot a few hundred rounds of each and am extremely impressed.

Super Match is designed to make power factor for all calibers with a minimum of excess powder and recoil at a fraction of the price of traditional match grade ammo. As a pro tour shooter, Janson understands how important this is.

Personally, I’ve used it to shoot 10 shot groups with a Glock 26 sub-compact where there were 4, 3, and even 2 visible overlapping holes in the paper. This means that the group wasn’t 1” or even .5”, but 10 rounds of .38”/9mm made a .45” group with only 2 visible holes where the bullets went through.

Fair warning…if you run this ammo in your gun, anything other than a 1-hole-group is user error.  It WILL make you a better shooter.

The “Hush” ammo is a line of ammo designed specifically for use with suppressors. It has just enough fast burning powder to reliably cycle the gun without causing excessive fouling. I’ve found it to be reliable both suppressed and unsuppressed, although the slide stop won’t always engage on the last round unsuppressed.

One “cool” feature of Hush is that you can shoot a full 17+1 round mag and still touch your suppressor with your hands.  This is awesome and not normal.

I’m not sure what the decibel reading is for Hush, but I know that I can shoot a full mag of 9mm suppressed without hearing protection and have no ill effects. If you haven’t shot suppressed guns before, this is a surprisingly rare thing.

Suppressors are awesome, and are normally “hearing safe” but shooting most rounds through a suppressor will still cause your ears to ring. For more on Freedom Munitions, go to FreedomMunitions.com.  Like I said, I have become a huge fan of theirs, and when you sign up for their mailing list, they’ll send you daily coupons/specials on ammo.  It’s one of the few daily emails that I look forward to receiving every day.

I’ll leave you with a video of another stage from Indoor Nationals. It was a mind-bender, to say the least…leprechauns, clouds, lollipops, and all sorts of crazy stuff between me and the bad guys.

Thoughts, questions? Fire away by commenting below:


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  • Daryl

    Reply Reply May 1, 2015

    Hey, Ox,
    Very impressive. Not having had the pleasure of being involved in competitive shooting, I still can appreciate the challenge of a normal competitive day at the range. Kudos for your control of the emotional factor under such frustrating conditions. This is a classic example of defaulting to your highest level of training, especially mind conditioning. This is what I stress the most when asked by friends to help them learn to shoot, and especially when they intend to carry concealed. Much to learn from your experience. Nicely done.

    • Ox

      Reply Reply May 2, 2015

      Thanks, Daryl. If I can have my way, it’ll be seen as normal and not impressive some day soon. What happened was simply the downstream effect of a series of conscious choices that anyone can make. Keep up the good work in sharing our craft.

  • Kevin

    Reply Reply May 1, 2015

    Dang dude, you killed a leprichan! Great story. A warrior I know always said never take an untested weapon into battle. But your dry-fire exercises allowed you to test first. Good work.

    • Ox

      Reply Reply May 1, 2015

      Thanks, Kev 🙂

      I bought the pistol used and ran 1000 rounds through the pistol between when I bought it and put the trigger in and when I went to nationals, but once I swapped out triggers it essentially became a new, untested gun again. I was confident that, due to the nature of Glocks, everything would work and the dry fire practice validated it, but I didn’t know for sure until after the first stage was done.

      The night before the match, I remember thinking that it was like a “battlefield pickup” drill where you swap guns with every other shooter in a class to familiarize yourself with other platforms. You either improvise, adapt, and overcome or you choke…either way, in a battlefield pickup situation, you’ve got the gun you’ve got, regardless of whether it works.

      You picked up on the center-punch on the leprichan, huh? That was very eye opening. For lack of a better term, time “skipped”. One instant I was aware of where the no-shoot was, had a clear shot on the target, and released the shot. The next instant, the no-shoot had “skipped” and moved between my muzzle and the target before my bullet got there. The reality of the situation is that the no-shoot didn’t skip…my brain’s ability to process 3 rows of obstacles skipped.

      One other twist on this stage…some of the moving objects between me and the targets were no-shoots, but others were shoot-through targets that were just objects and not people.

  • Michael McNeill

    Reply Reply May 1, 2015

    The only things missing – screaming kids running everywhere and creepy clowns…

  • Max

    Reply Reply May 1, 2015

    Personally I would’ve called it a day after drinking the hydrogen peroxide! Life is about overcoming obstacles-and even though you wound up with a Dairy Queen-I have to give you and the folks that helped you get into the match major props.

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