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Lessons Learned from Arklatex Multi-Gun Match Part I

The weekend before Thanksgiving 2021, I made an hour and a half sojourn from my home to the Texarkana Gun Club to participate in the monthly Arklatex Multi-Gun Competition. For this match, I competed in the “Armored” category of Trooper Division. 

In retrospect, my health limited my performance, as my two kids blessed me with a cold the week prior to the match. The effects hadn’t fully cleared by the day of competition, which made catching my breath after the first run take an inordinate amount of time.

This match followed the United Multi-gun League rule set, and the stages reflected a 3-gun influence. For those of us without shotguns, we executed on shotgun targets with pistols. There were no par times for any of the stages. All told, the match had nine shooters; one of which left after stage 2, and I finished a solid 7th across the board. 

This match represents my first competition of this style. For this match, I had two goals: 1) Don’t disqualify, and 2) Compete with what I had. Let’s dig into the match itself.

Armored Trooper Division

The goal of trooper is emulating real world conditions by allowing shooters to use field-practical equipment in interesting ways. Trooper class is a popular division at the matches that do feature it, as it attracts a different demographic of competitors.

Competitors may carry any combination of optics, magazines, holsters, and other equipment on any firearm. However, the competitor MUST carry all equipment and ammunition the shooter plans to use for the entire match. No carts allowed. Additionally, the shooter must start with 1 liter of water.

ARMORED is a modifier for any division, and means that the shooter must compete wearing rifle-rated plates/armor during all courses of fire.

Stage Reviews

Let’s break down how each stage worked and what I took away from it.

Stage 1

In this stage, you started behind a VTAC barricade, engaging from the top three port holes two 2/3 sized IPSC Steel with two shots each: one at 125 yards, the other at 100.

Once complete, you showed the RO a cleared rifle, slung it and moved down a wooded trail. You then engaged a total of eight steel and two paper targets on alternating sides of the trail with pistol. The trail turned right about halfway down, ending at another VTAC, where you re-engaged the IPSC steel with rifle from three different positions.

Once done with the barricade, you grounded your rifle (and pistol if you had shotgun), and finished off the remaining eight steel with shotgun or pistol as appropriate.

Stage 1 Performance

On my run, the ACOG/RMR setup handled the barricade just fine. I experimented with using the RMR on a few shots, switching back to the ACOG if I missed once or twice.

By the second barricade, I shot more so with the RMR than the ACOG and achieved hits in good time by my standards. However, I bungled a closed bolt reload on my rifle by failing to seat the magazine fully, which cost me some time.

On the pistol targets, the M&P/ACRO combination felt very fast, and short of running past the second pistol target on the right side of the trail, I had very few hiccups. I could, however, feel myself slipping into taking more aggressive shots on some of the pistol targets.

Total Stage Time: 212.86, 7th of 9 shooters

What I could done better

Since this run marked my first ever in competition, I wanted to go fast. Speed caused me to miss a target, which I had to double back for. Speed probably also played a role in fumbling my rifle reload at the second barricade, but as we’ll see on Stage 3, slow and steady wasn’t the right answer, either.

In addition, as I saw one competitor do, it was possible to engage all shotgun steel targets from a single point, and had I built a better plan, that might have saved me some time.

My equipment loadout for this particular match, which I'll cover in Part 2

Stage 2 Description

This stage had the longest-range target presentation; from three separate positions, in offhand, you engaged a trio of poppers around 100 yards (middle popper slightly behind the front pair). You then proceeded to climb a single-story staircase into a tower and engaged four more poppers at varying distances from 150 to 285 yards.

Once complete, you grounded your rifle and engaged an array of 12 steel targets in front and below you with pistol, or PCC if you had one in your division, at approximately 10-15 yards. This stage had no shotgun component.

Stage 2 Performance

For this stage, I elected to primarily use the RMR on the first trio of poppers, which after the first offhand position worked very well. Getting to the tower, however, I tripped about two-thirds of the way up the stairs, nearly getting a loose weapon DQ. I recovered quickly, and had good engagements with the ACOG at distance, including a dead center hit at 285 yards.

Going to pistol, however, presented a couple of problems. While loading my pistol, I dropped the first magazine, which fell out of the tower. While venting my frustrations, I quickly got another magazine in, and ran into problem #2: the tower had railing that, if kneeling, sat too high to brace off. I spent the better part of my first magazine figuring out how to shoot around it and cleaned up with the second in a left to right sweep of the steel.

Total Stage Time: 137.83, 7th of 9 shooters

What could I have done better

I felt my weakness on this stage lay in the pistol portion, tripping on the stairs aside. Because I decided to shoot kneeling, I should have shot under the railing, but for whatever reason, I never thought to. Bracing against or on the railing proved ineffective from a kneeling position but might have worked standing up. Of course, dropping a pistol magazine from the tower while trying to load my pistol severely affected my mood, since this was now the second botched reload in as many stages.

Stage 3

This stage featured another woods-walk, a cool feature about this match. From a start box, you followed a trail, engaging eight paper rifle targets on alternating sides. Barrels and trees obscured the targets, so you couldn’t hit all targets from any one position.

Once complete, you grounded the rifle and picked up your shotgun/drew your pistol and engaged an array of ten knock down steel targets. Once complete, you grounded the shotgun and engaged eight paper pistol targets (10 to maybe 25 yards), obscured by undergrowth.

Stage 3 Performance

For my run, I exclusively used the RMR, which only bit me once, as I had a Failure to Neutralize penalty on the first rifle target (needed 1 A or two on target; had 1 C). This told me that I needed to put the RMR golf ball on the upper half of the target, which is a lesson I took into the next stage.

I took extra care reloading my pistol, which probably cost me time, and moved on to steel and paper targets. I took these at what felt like long range, deciding to shoot through brush rather than close to get quality hits. Luckily, it worked, as the rifle penalty remained my only one for the whole match.

Total Stage Time: 106.00, 108.00 after Penalties, 7th of 8 Shooters

What I could have done better

During this stage, I realized that I didn’t have a plan for the back half of the stage. I would plan for the initial target problem, and then I would improvise based on what I saw.

In this stage, targets had both partial cover in the form of natural undergrowth and stage obstructions (barrels). I needed to spend more time in the walkthrough figuring out where I could stand to hit all ten shotgun targets, and then follow that with a single point for engaging pistol targets.

Consolidation of firing points, in order to maximize the number of targets engaged with the fewest stops, might have given me a better score.

Also, some of the rifle target presentations could have been hit with walking while firing, a skill I don’t have.

Stage 4

This stage carries the name “Red Solo Cup” and presented the most mentally challenging stage of the match. From one of two start boxes, you ran to a table behind you, picking one of three red solos, which told you to shoot rifle, pistol, or shotgun, as each had a different target array.

For rifle, each side of the bay had three paper targets, plus another three at the back. The front two rifle paper were mixed in with two pistol paper targets, covered by paper no-shoots.

For the rest of the pistol targets, you had to engage a plate rack, split by a barricade, two pistol paper stacked under the rifle paper, and a Texas Star.

Shotgun targets consisted of eight knock-down steel, and a popper activator that launched a sporting clay. Once you completed the first array, you would return to the table, pick up the next cup, and shoot what the cup told you.

The stage also five barricades, each with fault lines, so you could only engage from areas marked by the fault lines. You had to pick up or knock over all three cups and clear all targets to complete the stage.


On my run, I picked the shotgun cup first. After clearing those targets with my pistol, the RO thought I needed to engage the rest of the pistol array, but we worked that out.

I shot rifle next, again using the RMR over the ACOG, and even engaged from weak side shoulder on a few occasions to get around barricades. By this time, my lower back started complaining about being in a PC all day, so I meant to do as little leaning as possible.

Finishing on pistol, I had to perform some backpedaling to clean all the pistol paper, then cleared the plate rack one handed on both sides. The barricade in front of the Texas Star had an opening from which you were supposed to engage from, but I shot it from the barricade in front of the plate rack instead. While this didn’t cost me any penalties, it probably didn’t meet the intent of the stage. Nevertheless, I cleared my first Texas Star in eight shots, shot the last two paper, and concluded my first MultiGun match.

Total Stage Time: 169.48, 7th of 8 Shooters.

What could I have done better

Evaluating this stage without video is difficult, because unlike the other stages, I can’t pinpoint any major errors or mistakes. I was just slow, even though Stage 3 was my slowest and weakest score of the match.

One might say I was paranoid I’d miss a target, which made me prosecute all the targets in a deliberate (i.e. slow) manner.

Wrapping Up Part 1

That concludes my summary of the match itself and my experience. In my next post, I’ll go over equipment and lessons learned about my gear.

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Hi, I'm Alex or Gouge, which ever you prefer. I'm active duty Air Force officer, husband, father, aspiring author and firearms enthusiast. I enjoy the outdoors, and experiencing history. I'm seeking new opportunities building myself into a well-versed individual.

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Nice article. Sounds like you had a blast and learned some things along the way. Also love the acog/rmr combo, im a fan of this over the super kewl LPVO thing going on right now.


Matt – is Diceman624 your twin brother? I haven’t read the post yet – looks great though! I’ll comment ‘lightly’ soon…..

When I exited the USMC in ’88 I had one brief contact with a sergeant I considered a friend about two years later. The bulk of us who served in ‘Uncle Ron’s’ era were never under fire – I understand that changes things – relationships.

Replying to  Paul

Hah, no, but fairly similar backgrounds


Good write up Alex – kinda felt like I was there with you! The division/mod you chose to compete in sounds the most SHTF realistic – obstacles to overcome, mental and positional challenges. I’ve never competed ‘all dressed up’ but sounds like a hoot! Maybe the closest thing to the ‘Best Ranger’ contest we mortals can do. I ran across a video of a similar contest about 2017 somewhere in your neck of the woods – competitors ran a continuous course running into each stage as they appeared on the course trail – full combat gear, multiple weapon engagement –… Read more »

Replying to  Paul

Just curious – as you applied your shooting skill, physical condition and weapon(s) set up was there a ‘single’ thing you felt that hindered your performance the most overall? I understand it was first run at this competition and your physical condition (ill) was sub par (realistic though). Your post assessment seems thorough enough with no equipment issues. So other than the earned experience of the kinds of things to expect next time – what ‘single’ thing might you want to change to make greatest improvement?

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