The North Carolina Section match is over, and once again it went as well as it could. All the usual stuff like walking the prize table, staff reset, and five minute walkthroughs made this one of the best matches of the year for competitors. This is the third year that Steph has been the Section Coordinator and the process of planning and executing the match gets smoother every year.
Thursday was the build day, and it was mostly uneventful. When I was helping with setting up Stage 4, which was my design, the setup we’d used at a club match for the hiding double-plate swinger before activation just wouldn’t work here. So we made the call and changed it to a single plate swinger and added another popper to keep the round count consistent. The new sequence of going activator, big popper, swinging plate was still pretty interesting and definitely rewarded shooters who got right.
Also, after having watched 200 or so competitors shoot the stage, I am of the mind that the back left and back right positions were just pointlessly duplicative. Removing the back left position would have made the whole stage better in a few ways. First, dropping the round count from 29 to 25 would give competitors more options of where to reload and more ammo. Second, it would make a wider range of stage plans more viable, since cutting to the middle left position on the start would be weighed against going to the right first and not having to back up. Having two positions where you had to stop hard and post up also just distracted from what was, in my opinion, the interesting challenge of the stage, which was navigating the front two positions and the barrels in the shooting area.
This was my third USPSA match in CO, although I’d shot a handful of other matches and practice sessions with the dot. I was feeling generally comfortable with the overall setup, which I think mostly showed in my performance. My mindset at the match was to focus on gripping the gun well, and shoot the second shot on each target as soon as the dot was back. The end result was decent but not overwhelming speed but aiming pretty hard on every medium-difficulty-or-harder target. Across 8 of the 9 stages, I had a total of 22 charlies which is pretty respectable. (The other stage was 3 charlies but 2 deltas as well. Hosing too fast.) I am also quite happy–especially for shooting on staff day–that I didn’t have a single visualization or execution mistake. I executed every stage according to plan which has been a struggle for me in the past.
There are only a few individual stage performances that are worth saying something about specifically.
Stage 7, my first of the day, didn’t really have any options to speak of, just two positions and a swinger that you pretty much had to get on the first swing. I knew it was an aggressive plan, but shooting it, I didn’t feel out of control at any point. Everything went exactly as visualized which was a bit of surprise. Good start to the day.
Stage 2 is the one where I had the two deltas–ironic because it was certainly the stage with the easiest shot difficulty of any. My GoPro beeped and turned off halfway through, which was a minor distraction. The third target was charlie delta with a good group, so that was just an error with transitioning to the wrong spot. I don’t know that I could have moved through it much quicker, but definitely getting more grip on the gun and returning it faster would have helped me get done shooting the targets sooner as I moved through.
Other than that, I ended up aiming a lot, despite that not really being a conscious focus of my planning and visualization. Given the sparse practice I’ve had this year and being relatively new to the gun, I’m definitely happier with a conservative, consistent result than swinging for the fences. I don’t feel that the gun is holding me back. Even the availability of ammo hasn’t been a huge issue since I’ve adjusted my practice to use low round count drills. There’s just a certain amount of time behind the gun required to really keep moving up to the next level that I’m not able to dedicate in dry fire and live fire right now.
Switching to CO for this match was definitely the right call. There was a ton of heat in the division and it was an interesting test to get really let the high cap gun stretch its legs. I’m still pretty ambivalent about shooting a dot versus irons, but it’s undeniable that you can just get more shooting done when you’re not having to reload every four targets. Not really sure what I shoot after this. Can’t say I’m hooked on CO per se, but going back to 10 rounds doesn’t sound like a barrel of laughs either.