Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Still Working On My Masterpiece

Last Sunday was the second match of the year. Between these first two matches I can draw some potentially useful conclusions for others who  might be climbing their way up the classifiers or just getting started.

All that bullseye practice has helped my accuracy, but only when I take the time to look at my sights. Dry fire and pellet gun practice are really great,  but one piece of the puzzle I forgot was pacing. Witness a fast failure from my first match.

I finished that stage in about 12.5 seconds, but I had almost no A zone hits. The problem was that I had the gas pedal mashed to the floor in order to hang with a particularly talented Production class shooter I wanted to beat, and an Open class guy I thought I could catch. Unfortunately, I needed to slow down just a hair--maybe add another two seconds--and get my A zones. Not only are good hits a great idea in real life, but A zones move your name up the list (provided you're not slow). I learned my lesson that day, and resolved to use my brain parts to think about when to go fast and when to go slow.

So here's stage 1 from last Sunday:

There were a lot of mistakes here (shuffling feet, bad reload, shooting on the move when I should have just posted up) but my pacing was good, and was down two Cs in 12.48. I was less than one second and one A behind the stage winner, who was shooting Open class major power factor.

Besides pacing yourself, and switching between target focus and front sight focus, strategies for shooting steel differ from shooting paper. Behold a spectacular meltdown;

So the problem here is that I over-swung the popper on the draw, then over-swung the first plate, then tried to go faster to make up time and missed more. Reloads weren't bad, but that wasn't enough to save the stage. The trick with steel is to SLOW DOWN and get your hits. Make your transitions smooth and don't swing past the next target. Stay cool if you miss. I melted down and blew the stage. At least I know what I did and can fix it next time.

The good news is that most of what I learned last year hasn't gone away. I won stage 5 pretty handily because Travis Haley is my spirit animal. The only real bad part was that I knew I was fast, and I knew my hits were good, and I almost  180'd my way to a disqualification when I turned around to show the R.O. clear.  14.87 seconds down one C, first place in that stage with the fastest time and most points.

There is NO WAY I could have done that this time last year. The amount of skill I've gained in just one year of competition is incredible. There's no reason anyone else can't do the same or much better. It helps to have match video so I can see problems with my form, and the guys at the range will often provide a diagnosis if I'm having a problem. Your local USPSA club is a great way to train up without spending big bucks on "gun schools" of questionable origin. My goal is to earn the rank of Master in Production class, and I have a long way to go. But I get a little closer every match--even on bad days when I get my ass kicked.

And before I go, I should add that I took fourth place last Sunday. Two of the guys ahead of me were Master class. One was shooting a revolver.