I am surprised when I talk with fellow Glock owners who are unaware of the Glock Sport Shooting Foundation, or GSSF. I then realized I hadn’t done a full post explaining what this organization was or how to join. Let’s correct that today.
The GSSF is owned and operated by Glock, Inc., out of their US headquarters in Smyrna, Georgia. They organize and run about 36 matches a year, all over the country, with the much appreciated assistance of a lot of people at local host ranges. The schedule can be found at the GSSF website, www.gssfonline.com. Joining GSSF is just $35 for the first year, and $25 to renew, plus $25 per match for each pistol you compete with. (More on that later.)
But the bounty comes with the prize packages. In addition to awarding Glock pistols for winners, and cash for other high finishers, they also award a lot of cash, complementary membership renewals, and free pistols at random to competitors. In the 15 years I’ve been competing, I have only won a prize once for my finish – I won $100 for taking second in my class. But I’ve also won $100 once, $50 twice, two annual renewals, and – YES – a brand new Glock of my choice. (That’s where Libert, my G19, came from!)
GSSF is open to any Glock shooter, regardless of age or experience. There are different classifications for shooters, ranging from Amateur Civilian (which would include most of us), to Guardian (for police and military) to Master (for those who are ranked Master or Grand Master in other groups). All you need is a Glock pistol and at least 4 magazines, plus 104 rounds of ammo. And, if you have more than one pistol, you can enter more than one classification, which increases your chances of winning a random prize.
Admittedly, GSSF seems like a rather low-intensity competition, when compared with USPSA or IDPA. There are no reloads or movement during the stages, and the stages start at low ready, rather than being drawn from a holster. This is perfect for the new shooter, but don’t think it makes matches a cake walk for experienced shooters. This just shifts the emphasis from transitions to accuracy.
To level the playing field, and to account for the restrictive gun laws in some states, all magazines start with 10 rounds, and you are allowed one in the chamber. There is an exception for the Glock 36, which only holds 6 rounds to start, in a class called Heavy Metal, and if you shoot another .45ACP or 10mm Glock, you can enter that class as well, and self limit your magazines to 6 shots each, plus one in the chamber.
Scoring is based on time, with penalties assessed for errant shots or misses. The match uses three kinds of targets – the NRA D-1 target, also called the Tombstone; steel pepper poppers; and 6 inch steel plates.
For the metal targets, scoring is easy. If you knock the popper or the plate down, there is no penalty. If you leave one standing, you add 10 seconds. Ouch.
For the Tombstone targets, all shots in the A or B area incur no penalty. Shots in the C area add 0.5 econds for each, and shots in the D area count for 3 extra seconds each. Complete misses add 10 seconds. Ouch.
Every match I’ve been to has included the same 3 stages, and they are run just about the same everywhere. I tried to find some good examples of these stages, but the best ones are actually on the GSSF website itself, which I liked above.
5 to Glock:
This stage is five Tombstone targets, spaced from 5 yards out to 25 yards. Sometimes these are in a straight diagonal, and sometimes they are staggered. The point here is to test transitions from target to target, and to test your ability to make the longer shots as well as the close shots.
This stage is shot three times. At the end of the stage, all three times are added up, and each target is assessed. There should be 6 shots on each target, and penalties are added accordingly.
The stage is named for its similarity to the letter M. From left to right, there is a Tombstone target at 7 yards, a Tombstone at 15 yards, 3 pepper poppers at 11 yards, then another 15 yard Tombstone, and a 7 yard Tombstone. This stage is also shot three times, with only one popper being shot on each run through.
Here’s where a little strategy comes in. I generally shoot all the Tombstone targets, left to right, 2 each, then shoot the pepper popper. This means I’ve shot 8 shots, leaving me three shots to knock the popper down. If I leave a popper standing, then it’s my fault, but I’ve never left a popper standing.
Glock the Plates
This is the simplest stage of all – just 6, 6 inch steel plates, at 11 yards. Knock them all down in the shortest time. This stage is shot four times.
But, as is often the case, the simplest stage is not necessarily the easiest. I have probably left more plates standing in my GSSF career than any other. For me, this stage embodies all the fundamentals of good shooting – sight picture, trigger control, and follow-through. When I get all these where they should be, and my shot cadence is right, I clean this stage. My technique is to shoot each plate in order, whether I hit it or not, then come back and take the ones I miss.
GSSF can be an excellent entry into competitive pistol shooting, and it is also a great complement to other shooting games for more experienced shooters. If you own a Glock, give them a look. For that matter, sign up, and come shoot with me next Saturday, July 16, at the Riverbend Gun Club in Canton, Georgia.