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Pow, Right In The High School

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.

{ 9 } Comments

  1. Unix-Jedi | October 15, 2012 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

    The important thing is not to let it rattle you. Get some video next time, learn from what you’re doing wrong, and just work on the fundamentals.

    Figure out what you’re doing right, and what you’re not.

  2. Unix-Jedi | October 15, 2012 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

    To even be a midpack finisher in this game will require a ridiculous amount of effort and focus,

    Besides, the other issue is, is it important to win the game (Caleb, shaddup), or to practice your skills?

    I mean, I love winning as much as the next guy, but at the end of the day I really shoot action shooting for the practice and the “on the clock” practice – becuase when that buzzer goes off the plan goes to hell faster than anything else.
    Not perfect, but the best you can do.

  3. Jason | October 15, 2012 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

    Hey, at least your not downloading your magazines and worrying if the RO can read your mind! Welcome to hoserville!

  4. Chris Rhines | October 15, 2012 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

    Congratulations on surviving your first USPSA match!

    Take it from someone who’s been doing this a little while – don’t beat yourself up over your first match. Everybody sucks their first time out, and brooding over it won’t do any good. Think more about the stuff that you did right.

    Unless you have a major physiological issue of some kind, getting better will just be a matter of practice. If you can spare fifteen minutes a day for dry practice, and a range session once a week, you’ll be ahead of the curve.


  5. Xman | October 16, 2012 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    Did I write this? I don’t remember writing this but it feels so familiar.


    I’d consider turning over my immortal soul to Xenu if He’d help me find my gorram front sight, watch it lift, call the shot, get rid of this flinch.

    Just stick to a structured dryfire program and you’ll see some results. UJ is right about taking video too.

    Hold on while I write myself a note so I’ll follow my own advice.

  6. Brad | October 16, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    At least you HAVE a place to shoot, and the proper caliber weapons for USPSA matches. Us broke-ass, surplus-owning city-dwellers salute you.

  7. Kit | October 16, 2012 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

    Boy have I ever been there! I strongly recommend Michael Seeklander’s book “Your Competition Handgun Program” if you want the most efficient way to practice. I’ve done the entire training cycle and it took me from about 35% up to the mid-to-high 50s in about four months. Work interfered with me doing a lot more this summer, but I’ll be back on the program come winter. You can even just follow the dry-fire parts if you want to save on ammo.

  8. Xman | October 17, 2012 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    +1 on the Seeklander book. The trick is staying on the program when life gets in the way.

    Maybe there’s another book on how to deal with *that*!

  9. DougO | October 17, 2012 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    Against a field of people who probably have been doing this more regularly more recently? The fact that you competed *at all* puts you in..what, the top 5%? 2%?

    Certainly better than any goblin you may have to compete against for more serious stakes.