So this past Saturday I went down to my club and shot my first USPSA match. It was a beautiful day, the stages were varied and creative with a minimum of BS DQ-bait gotchas, and my squad were all cheerful and friendly and (mostly) pitched in with pasting up targets and resetting steel.
My performance was embarrassing and frustrating. I’ve been away for almost two years from any kind of competitive shooting more complicated than knocking 6 steel plates down at a time, and it showed. I rushed, I hosed, I forgot my front sight, I wandered back and forth on the field stages trying to remember what I’d shot at. I center punched a hostage. At least I didn’t DQ myself, and that was about the only positive thing for the first four stages.
After completely, utterly, decisively boning the 4th stage, which was deceptively simple yet I managed to whiff on the poppers and nail the aforementioned hostage, I was about ready to pack it in and go home. All the uncomfortably familiar pain and misery of my childhood sports career came back after being tamped down for years. (I’m not sure what’s more frustrating, the pain, or that I still haven’t gotten over it after 20 years).
So on the fifth stage, which had a diabolical pair of disappearing targets activated at the same time by opening a door, I was about ready to give up. But I screwed it down and made myself a goal: I would nail both of those fucking disappearing targets.
And amazingly enough, I did! *POWPOWPOWPOW*, 4 A-zone hits! I was so surprised I took four shots to down three steel plates after the cardboard had disappeared. It was my best stage of the match, only 4 points down! I was chuffed. I got a fist-bump from a Master class Open shooter. Maybe there was hope for me after all!
Then, today, I checked the scores.
I was next to dead last on stage 5. I only managed to beat another guy because he got 20 penalty points for something. I was a full 20 seconds behind the division winner on that stage, what I felt was my best performance.
It’s flatteningly demoralizing to look up out of this hole. To even be a midpack finisher in this game will require a ridiculous amount of effort and focus, and I’m frankly not sure I can afford the time or money to do it. And unlike bullshit games like handegg or baseball, shooting pistols fast isn’t something irrelevant I can handwave away as frippery.
Well, we’ll see. I’ve got a month to get ready for the next match. I can squeeze in a couple range trips and there’s a plate match the weekend before that should be good prep. But I’ve only got so much time and money to spend on fun, and I wasn’t having fun. If I can’t get it together in the next few matches, the smart thing to do would be to shelve pistol games next to all the other sports I’ve failed at and not waste my time on improvement that’s not coming.
I’m going to go dry fire now.