I shot the club match at Sir Walter this past weekend, my first match in three months since the 2018 NC Sectional was the end of my season last year.
Going in to this match, I had one live fire session this year to speak of, and three dry fire sessions the week before.
As I mentioned on Episode 45 of the podcast, I don’t have a ton of goals for the season, but my two areas of focus right now are improving how I grip the gun and improving my movement by cutting out big steps to push out of position. I saw some promising early results in the grip improvements and my movement coming in to positions with the gun up and shooting early.
But there were also some very significant problems.
On Stage 8, my first stage of the day and the last one I walked through, I let myself be talk to my squad mates instead of making sure my round count for the stage matched the WSB (spoiler: it didn’t). I also shot too many (more than zero) deltas.
On Stage 1, I tried to go too fast when grabbing my magazines off the barrel and flustered myself from the get-go. That was not helpful. In the future, when dealing with unusual tasks, I have to remember not to try to be snappy with my movement. Just be correct.
Stage 2 actually went alright. I had a good first run on it, but a timer malfunction mean I had to re-shoot, and I actually did slightly better the second time through. Because a good stage run is the result of a good process, I was able to just run through the process again and produce another good result. I’ve never particularly been afraid of reshoots, but this was a good example of why they aren’t as bad as people think, if you have good process.
Stage 3 was frustrating. The light strike on the draw, the miss on the swinger (trying to push too hard to catch it before it swung away), and the no-shoot while transitioning across. The no-shoot in particular hurt because I realized I was trying to stay back off the wall. Most folks on the squad were leaning into the relatively pliable PVC wall, but instead of doing that, I shifted backward away from the wall and my trigger finger outran my front sight. Just one of those examples of how walking the stage through doesn’t always uncover the little gotchas you find when actually executing it. I will have to remember that for the future.
Stage 4 went well, but only barely. I knew cutting a position by taking that tuxedo from so far back was very risky, but I did it anyway. I know I have struggled on tuxedo targets before. I know there is no reasonable reason I can’t take the time to aim enough on them. And yet I still came a quarter of an inch from a miss. From a match scoring perspective, yeah, that was an alpha, but from a training perspective it was a failure. I have got to be able to deliver confident hits on hard shots like that on demand. The stage plan I chose was objectively the best one, I think, but I have to be able to control the risk on that one target that the whole stage pivots on.
Stage 5 was also frustrating. I fumbled the first reload, and then shot the plate rack target focus. 9 rounds to shoot 6 plates should have been plenty, and that’s just embarrassing. And then at the end, to have another light strike. My press has been acting up lately, but still, it’s frustrating to be stuck in the Groundhog Day world of perpetual light strikes. I’ve got the parts on order from Dillon to get the press back in shape and that issue will be going away.
And finally, the classifier, Can You Count? (Stage 6 got tossed from the match due to prop malfunctions.) On the one hand, I’m frankly amazed I was able to shoot and reload that fast. I never practice that kind of close hosing, so I had zero expectations of how the stage would go. I just tried to draw and reload like it was dry fire and the results looked pretty good. Except, of course, the extra shot. Without the extra shot, it still would have only been an 87% run, which is fine with me. Sub-second draw, .20 splits, and a 1.0 second reload is good enough for me at this point. Anything more than that seems like parlor tricks. In the inverse of what happened on stage 3, even though it’s a match score fail, from a training perspective I consider that a win.
All of that aside, everything else went mostly okay. I came out of the gate moving very aggressively. Also, I generally don’t put a lot of import on splits, but as a measurement of whether or not my changes to my grip are working, I’m very encouraged by splits that were much better than usual for me.
It would be easy to be discouraged or disappointed in this match, but I just can’t help seeing each of the mistakes I made as fixable and be encouraged that the changes I’m making are working. This sport stays rewarding and satisfying as long as I can keep making progress and despite barely practicing in the last three months, that’s exactly what is already happening.