The Gun Run 2020: Clinton House Edition

The recently held Gun Run at Clinton House brought back running and gunning to South Carolina. I had previously shot the Carolina Run N Gun there in 2018, but was glad to hear Ellis with The Gun Run got things going again. While I was originally going to be out of town for work, plans changed and I got on the wait list and got in just in time.

For a breakdown in gear, read the separate Load Out piece here.

My run time was set at 1:24 PM, and I didn’t have to arrive until the 11:30 AM safety brief. On schedule, Ellis gave his match and safety brief. Aside from the overall round count, nothing else about stages was provided ahead of time. Once the brief was over, I had a little wait to final gear prep, continue hydrating and socialize a bit. With shooters launching every 4 minutes, there was a steady cycle of shooters coming in and heading out.

At about 1pm, I got kitted up and did some final stretches and checks of what I had and where it was. A few minutes before my launch time, my rifle and pistol were checked clear and I was given the go ahead to be ready to run, launching on time. During the last minute or two, it’s always interesting what comes through your head… do I have enough ammo? Do I have too much ammo? Don’t screw up when shooting, run fast, but not too fast, but fast enough. About 10 seconds out, I pushed all of those thoughts aside, took a few controlled breaths and launched as the clock hit 1:24:00. From the start, it was up a hill and then a half mile to stage 1.

Stage 1

Total Round Count for Stage: 2 or more pistol

Targets: 12×20 IPSC, 10in Square, 8in Circle

Stage Description: Load your pistol. This is the active shooter stage, on the beep you will close the distance as much as is needed to make two consecutive hits on the active shooter target (no closer than the barrel). If the first or second shot misses the target, shooter will have to transition to the smaller target, and again close the distance as much as is needed to make two consecutive hits. If any shot misses, the shooter will transfer their pistol to their weak hand, move to the even smaller circular target and again close the distance and make two hits with their weak hand only to incapacitate the active shooter. 60 second time limit.

Stage/Run Notes: Running into stage 1, the RO’s checked my rifle clear and had me place it on the ground out of the way. I was guided to the start box and given the exact stage brief above (all descriptions were sent out afterwards to competitors). I decided to go hero or zero and attempt the first target from the start box, maybe 40-50 yards away. At the buzzer I drew my Staccato P and pressed a good first shot. I almost broke a second quickly, but took a mental reset and followed up with a second good shot. While it felt like eternity slowing down for good hits, my time to complete the stage was 5 seconds.

After Stage 1, it was about a hundred yard run to stage 2.

Stage 2

Total Round Count for Stage: 9 rifle

Targets: 9x IPSC

Stage Description: Load your rifle, on the beep, from left to right you will engage all three 100 yd targets with one hit each, you will then engage all three 200 yd targets with one hit each, and then all three 300yd targets with one hit each. 90 second time limit

Stage/Run Notes: As I got into stage 2, the RO checked for a clear rifle and pistol and then gave the quick stage brief. While getting the brief I quickly found the nine targets by eye and programmed the engagement sequence into my head. With the brief over and no questions, the timer started and I quickly loaded my rifle and assumed a prone position. I shot the stage on 2.5x magnification, but didn’t think to change it until after the stage.

However, the reticle illumination worked well and I placed the segmented circle at center on the 100 yard targets, approximately at the neckline for the 200 yard targets and at the top of the target for 300 yards to account for my 100 yard zero and corresponding drop data with 73gr Hornady ELD-Ms at 2750 fps. I fired quickly, breaking a few shots as the reticle settled, requiring a make-up shot or two at each distance. When all was said and done, my stage time was 24 seconds.

Stage 2 Targets (not all visible) – Image Courtesy of Jimmy Nutt

From stage 2, we had a bridge to cross under, going calf deep into the water. Then it was a little under ¾ of a mile through woods, crossing another stream, crawling under a barbed wire obstacle and then a hill climb to stage 3.

Runner crawling under the barbed wire – Image Courtesy of Jimmy Nutt

Stage 3

Total Round Count for Stage: 10 pistol, 6 rifle

Targets: 3x 10in gong at approximately 55 yards, 5x 4in and 5x 5in knockdowns

Stage Description: Load your rifle, on the beep you will engage all three rifle targets with two hits each. Ground your rifle, load your pistol and move down the trail engaging and knocking down any target you see with one hit each. 90 second time limit. +5 burpees per pistol target left standing. Help the RO reset targets on your way back.

Stage/Run Notes: I had my first bit of wait time on stage 3, arriving just as the runner ahead of me started the stage. While he shot, I caught my breath, and downed some water. Once he rolled out, the RO’s gave me the brief and asked if I had any questions. At the start of the buzzer, I dropped to a knee to shoot off the log at the rifle start position. I assumed the log would be stable, but it wasn’t and I wasted a few seconds trying to adjust to a good spot. In hindsight, I should have just shot the rifle targets offhand as they weren’t terribly far.

Once the rifle targets were engaged, the rifle was put on safe and abandoned to move to the pistol targets. I loaded the pistol on the move and stopped as I saw the first few targets to the left. After engaging those I stepped forward some more to see the further targets on the left, engaging them and transitioning right to finish off the steel plates. The total number of pistol shots was not provided, so I took a few seconds to be sure I didn’t have any targets remaining. Once we cleared the pistol, I quickly reset the 5-plates on the right as directed by the RO and moved to quickly get back to my rifle and clear it to take off and not waste time.

Competitor engaging pistol target at Stage 3 – Image Courtesy of Jimmy Nutt

Once complete with stage 3, it was a quick tenth of a mile to the tower for stage 4.

Stage 4

Total Round Count for Stage: 5 rifle

Targets: 12in gong at approximately 155yds (unknown to shooter)

Stage Description: Shooter will load their rifle and will take 5 shots only on an unknown distance target to take a minute off their run time per hit. Only 5 shots will be made. No time limit.

Stage/Run Notes: As I got to Stage 4, there was a shooter and a half to go ahead of me, so I showed clear to the RO and began my wait time. The target was not visible unless you climbed to the top of the metal shooting tower. When it was my turn I climbed up and got the final details. Since this target only counted for a run time reduction (but shot while on the run time), I laid down and settled the rifle on the target. My guess was the target was further than 100 yards but not more than 200, with a gut feel of around 150ish yards. Since I had a solid 100 yard zero and my bullet drop to 200 yards was .4 Mils, I placed my center aiming point around the top 1/3 of the target and made 5 clean shots, all good hits.

Competitor engaging target from tower on Stage 4 – Image Courtesy of Jimmy Nutt

The run was another half mile to get to stage 5. For me it was in baking hot sun that felt like running through an oven.

Stage 5

Total Round Count for Stage: 3 pistol, 16 rifle

Targets: 12in and 8in circles, 2x cardboard IPSC, 2x 12×20 IPSC Silhouette at approximately 60 and 100yds

Stage Description: Load your pistol. Shooter will drag the Skedco to the pick up zone marked by the orange panel (or 10 burpees). Upon reaching the PZ your time will start you will make two hits to the chest and one to the head with your pistol on the closest target, safely holster your pistol, then lock and load your rifle and engage the enemy with four hits on each target (2 cardboard targets, 2 steel target). 90 second time limit. Cardboard misses will be +5 burpees.

Stage/Run Notes: Stage 5 had the most wait time for me, ending up around 13 minutes. It was good to suck down some extra air and joke with a few other runners while we waited to shoot. For the three shooters in front of me, I found out this was the first race for all of them and they were having a blast.

When it was my turn to shoot, I loaded my pistol and got ready to drag the Skedco. As soon as the front crossed the designated line and the buzzer went off, I ran to the shooting position and quickly made the 3 pistol hits required. Since I didn’t want to do burpees, I charged up the rifle and placed 5 rapid shots on paper a piece, then went 4 for 4 on the closer steel plate and took 5 or 6 shots to get the 4 hits on the further steel plate. Total time was 22 seconds.

Fellow competitor dragging the Skedco at Stage 5.

The RO’s pointed us to head back the way we came, retracing some of our steps and then a turn into the woods to get to stage 6.

Stage 6

Total Round Count for Stage: 12 pistol, 2 rifle

Targets: Dueling tree, 12×20 IPSC at 115 yds

Description: Load your pistol, on the beep, you will draw your pistol and shoot all 6 dueling tree plates, then switch hands with your pistol and shoot all 6 plates with the opposite hand. You will then safely holster your pistol, lock and load your rifle and engage the far rifle plate, twice. 90 second time limit. A plate does not have to rotate all the way around for it to count as a hit.

Stage/Run Notes: After making my way to the stage, the runner ahead of me was finishing his stage. Once the brief was over, I loaded my pistol, waited for the beep and then engaged the steel. I went 6-for-6 freestyle, but got a little over confident and went weak-hand only on the other side. The 4th plate sucked up a few extra pistol rounds requiring a reload and a finish with both hands.

Competitor engaging dueling tree on Stage 6

Once stage 6 was done, it was about a mile’s worth of running up, down and around a few hills to the finish line. During this final running portion, I tried to stay focused on finishing strong and moving at a quick but sustainable pace since I didn’t know how far the run would be. I crossed the finish line at 2:38:17.

I was able to stick around for a little while, seeing and talking to some guys I’ve met at previous RnG events or other shooting matches. However I had to leave before final results were posted to attend a family function. I found out later that night that I had run fast enough and shot well enough to finish in 1st place.

Scoring Breakdown

The Run

My total on-course time was 74 minutes and 17 seconds. Wait time accumulated to be 23 minutes and 57 seconds, plus 5 minutes of reduction time for stage 4…making my run time 45 minutes and 20 seconds. This was good enough for a 4th place run time and 97.27 points.

While I enjoy run and gun events, I’ve never been a big fan of running as a form of exercise. Because I didn’t like it I didn’t practice it and therefore haven’t been really good at it. In prior RnG events, I’ve shot well enough to make up for an ok run time, but with any developing shooting sport the bar gets raised higher every year. Part of my COVID quarantine time has been learning more about running and just sucking it up and doing some of it, so I was happy to have a Top 5 finish in the run time.

Approximate Course Map

The Shooting

While I’m not a fan of running all the time, I love shooting all the time. Given how the scoring works for most RnGs, being consistent and having a good finish on all stages is important. I like the percentage based scoring as it equalizes the stages and allows a short stage to equal a long stage in importance, allowing a Match Director to test different shooting skills.

My Scores:

Stage 1 – 5 seconds – Stage Win – 100 pts

Stage 2 – 24 seconds – Stage Win – 100 pts

Stage 3 – 32 seconds – 4th place – 95.08 pts – great job John Jordan for his 27 second run

Stage 4 – 5/5 – no scoring other than run time

Stage 5 – 22 seconds – Stage Win – 100 pts

Stage 6 – 23 seconds – 3rd place – 95.22 pts – Jon Hutt blistered it in 19 seconds

Overall shoot score was 1st place with a 98.06 point average/total.

Total score was 97.66 when averaging the run and shoot scores.