For the 2017 Carolina Classic, the NC Section match returned to the Rowan County Wildlife Club in Salisbury, NC. I had an inconsistent match but still managed to hang on for a 95% finish behind the very capable Tyler Turner.*
Despite taking two mikes on the match, my real downfall was being generally hesitant and shooting a lot of makeup shots on paper and steel. (If the two hard cover mikes were hits, it still would have only moved me up to 97.6%.)
The first stage of the day was set up in a way that you could see all the targets from two positions, leading most folks to just shoot the stage from there. It would have been an decent-but-unremarkable finish for me without the hardcover mike. It was in the same left-low-left place that I took two mikes on tuxedos last week at Sir Walter. A frustrating trend, but I mostly managed to get it out of my head for the next few stages.
Nothing really went wrong on this stage, but nothing really went right. Generally sluggish, and after the last stage I was shooting very conservatively, especially on the back targets with the no-shoots. I still managed to pick up 7 charlies, from just being a too loose on the sights and sloppy with the trigger.
There wasn’t too much to this stage, just go one for one up front and get alphas. Took one charlie on the second paper target, but this one pretty much went okay.
This stage required by far the most thinking of any stage in the match, with many different ways to break up the first 18 shots of the stage. I had a decent plan, but didn’t keep the one-for-one discipline from the last stage going. I got sloppy on the trigger and went to slide lock only knocking down two of the four poppers I planned to get with my first magazine. At that point, I knew I had to shoot the next magazine one-for-one, and the one after that too, so I had to become very deliberate to avoid a standing reload. I managed to do it and the final damage to my score wasn’t terrible, but I threw away a genuine chance at a stage win with steel misses and paper makeups.
I knew this standards stage would not be a strength of mine, but my goal was to see my sights and shoot points, without worrying about how slow it felt. Frustratingly, I took a mike, but on the freestyle portion. I overswung the transition into the tuxedo hard cover in the middle and put my fifth shot of the first string in the black.
The rest of the stage went passably well, but having a second hardcover miss in exactly the same spot was frustrating.
Another stage with nothing terribly wrong, just slow because of makeups. The random light strike after two thousand rounds of reliable ignition was frustrating but turned out to be the first of three. In the first position, three makeup shots. In the second position, a makeup shot on the tuxedo hardcover (which amazingly turned out to be an unpasted hole from the previous shooter; I had three alphas on the target). And then again in the last position, a makeup. Knowing I had to go one-for-one for the rest of the stage slowed me down. A mix of impatience to start shooting and sloppy trigger pulling (yes, even with a 3 pound single action) slowed me down too much.
More sloppy trigger pulling. This stage went more or less according to plan, except for the makeup shots. The makeup shots on the steel at the end are particularly egregious because I had stable sight pictures despite the bridge, but I was just not gripping the gun and pulling the trigger right. You can see both misses go off just to the left in to the berm.
Nearly a stage win, despite the second light strike, on the draw. That rattled me and my first instinct was to reload so I didn’t go to slide lock. It didn’t enter my head at the time that my plan wasn’t anywhere near needing a reload and the light strike hadn’t put me behind any rounds. I just reacted.
Perhaps a highlight of this match for me was recognizing the second swinger timing and engaging other targets while it was obscured. If I had taken fewer poppers from the start position, I wouldn’t have been able to come back to the swinger in time for the next swing the way I did.
On the last stage of the day, despite having a light strike, managed to step up and pull out the stage win on this one. I can’t really explain why, especially given my recent lack of performance on classifiers, but this stage just came together for me.
I don’t mean this breakdown to be a list of excuses why I didn’t win. But I hope through specific examples you can see the places I see in my own performance for improvement. Two weeks from when I write this, I’ll be preparing to shoot Nationals in the morning and I need to do as much work as I can on these problems between now and then. (And even after Nationals, because, of course, no truly difficult problem is ever solved, just temporarily abated.)
* Interesting side note: I took 95% behind Tyler last year at this match too, but in that time we’ve both gone from M to GM and trained, although clearly him harder than me. It’s a rare snapshot of the two of us progressing almost in lock-step which I find interesting.