This was a very tough match for me.
It’s tempting to blame having a kid in January for lack of dry fire, or the ongoing primer shortages for lack of live fire. But if I’m honest with myself, neither of those things really are at play.
I have the best setup I’ve ever had in terms of dry fire: a two car garage, with concrete floors and plenty of space to move around. No more slippery hardwood floors or carpet. 20 feet of space to put up targets, more if I go diagonal. But I haven’t done it.
I also haven’t done any live fire. I’m pretty scarce on primers, but I still could spare 200 to go do a rounds-efficient live fire practice. But in two months of good weather, I’ve only gone once.
Why is that? Well, that’s the real riddle I suppose.
Anyway, the result was a day full of under-performance followed by over-performance. Sir Walter is the one match I shoot every month I can, and yet this month once again it seemed like it snuck up on me. I loaded my ammo the night before (which mercifully did run without a hitch) and packed up to go shoot.
Stage 8, the first of the day, and I was–as usual–the first shooter. Made the classic mistake of focusing too much on the movers, and failed to thoroughly visualize to reload one target after the poppers and floppers, meaning I had to do the standing reload at the end. To compound the error, thinking about it took me out of the moment, and you can see I relax, particularly my grip, and the gun jumps around quite a bit more, which still matters even on close targets. Also, the GoPro mysteriously failed to record, which is becoming a frustration every time it happens.
Stage 1 started off with two misses on steel, low and right, due to something screwy with the way I was pulling the trigger. That pattern would continue throughout the day. Those two whiffs took me out of it, and I shot the rest of the stage more hesitantly, and again had a makeup on the second array of plates. Something about the way I’m transitioning to steel is not right, but honestly I’m not tuned up enough to really notice the fine details when things go wrong. I’m just shooting on instinct and trying to keep it together.
Stage 2 turned out to be a truly great stage. Everything went well. From the first shots, I could tell I had the right grip and trigger press, and the gun just tracked perfectly for me. My raw time was competitive with the Open guys, and I had a better hit factor than all the Limited and PCC guys. I crushed this one stage. But I can’t really say what went different or well, and so I struggled to reproduce it.
Stage 3, I took a risky stage plan, going to fewer places and shooting more static from further away. This is something that’s always tempting to me, but it never seems to work out. Even moving through an array you can still shoot quite a bit faster than standing and sniping from twice as far. I also didn’t look through the plan well enough, and I didn’t have a full presentation on the zebra all the way on the right size of the stage, because I stood back. Picked up a hard cover mike on that target which I didn’t call, which was particularly frustrating. And you can see I hunt around for the targets at the last position because I hadn’t really visualized what to do once I got there.
Stage 4 was basically point shooting. At this point in the day I was frustrated and just trying to shoot on luck. Obviously it didn’t work out, but I was so out of it that I even come back at the end of the stage to look again at a target I knew didn’t have good hits. And despite looking right at it, I didn’t shoot again, and took Delta Mike on that target.
Stage 5, the trigger control issues came back. I tried to make an effort to aim more and really rack up alphas, but all the charlies and deltas were right or low right. Something about the way I was gripping the gun, maybe steering with my left thumb, something was pushing the shots pretty significantly out of the A zone, which is certainly easy at those distances. Again the steel makeups with the shots going low and right as well.
Stage 6, again I refocused on points, and tried to make an effort to call my shots and keep shooting until I had good hits, so I took a second pass on the first swinger just to make sure I got it. I did, but the time was so slow the score was terrible.
And finally, the classifier. I was calling good shots, but walking downrange, I saw I was pushing them low and low right. The time was bang on the GM pace with half As and Cs, but all Cs with a miss just won’t cut it.
This match is definitely a wakeup call for me, that if I’m not going to practice and then try to show up on match day and lay down GM scores, it’s not going to go well. In retrospect, I probably should not have even gone, with my minimal practice. But on the other hand, failing so badly relative to the standards I hold for myself has fired me up in a way to actually get back to practicing regularly, and given me some specific things to work on in dry fire. That’s a big deal, because trying to work on everything in practice obviously means you end up working on nothing, and despite putting in time, not making any progress.
At least for now, I have things to work on, and the fire is lit to make progress. If for no other reason than so a match this bad never happens again.