Monday, August 27, 2012

USPSA Scoring... A Fickle Lady

Ever have one of those "OMG SRSLY?!?!?" moments right after seeing the results of a match or a stage you think you just rocked?

...happened to me just last night.

In a moment, I was reminded of two rather crucial things to keep in mind when you step into the high-adrenaline world of action pistol competition:

• 1 • Bring your best game to the range, especially to the first stage of the day. We usually don't get time to warm up our trigger fingers and run a "practice" stage with live fire before a match. Once you hear the RO ask "Is the shooter ready?" you should be in full-on "go mode."

• 2 • Fight for every match point; if you're starting out on a points-heavy stage, work hard to build a strong, simple plan you're not likely going to lose track of due to lack of sleep, caffeine, or focus at 9:15 in the morning. Focus on the fundamentals where possible - don't worry about an extra 0.15 seconds on your draw if you're burning 2 seconds stopping to set up for close targets you could move past an shoot at the same time.

Those are the two big things that caused me to lose literally 10 seconds on the first stage I shot last Sunday and drop me into 10th place for that stage. Unfortunately, that run was worth a large amount of the available match points, too. Despite finishing 3rd, 5th, and 6th (twice) on the other 4 stages I wasn't able to make up enough to keep from only placing 9/14 on the day.

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Sport vs. Personal Defense

Having just shot a USPSA match yesterday, I'm thinking about some of the aspects of this competitive group that provide a refreshing counterpoint to the tacticool universe of "CCW training" and range douchery...

Even with one shooter working a subcompact 10mm Glock from his IWB holster, clearly using his daily carry gear, nobody got into a chest-puffing competition about "defensive" issues, 9 vs. 40 vs. 45, or how hollow point brand "x" is so much more destructive than brand "y."

Living the CCW lifestyle, working as an instructor, and spending a significant amount of my time in Condition Yellow, it's great to be in an environment where the focus is on the pure sport of action pistol shooting... not as "training for real life" but simply for the sport, competition, skill development, and cameraderie.

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Friday, August 3, 2012

Xmas in August

August is shaping up to be a GREAT month for my collection of shootin' stuff!

I just saw the UPS delivery confirmation come in for my new Shooters Connection Tournament Series Ultra shooting bag... now I can't wait to get home!

I should receive a new holster for my LCR tomorrow from Garrett Industries - their Silent Thunder Solo hybrid leather/kydex IWB with standard clip and tuckable loops.

And... sometime next week I will cement my "Operator" cred with a new lid from Arc'teryx (their B.A.C. Cap) designed specifically for folks whose daily lives take them out to the ragged edge of civilized. In my case, I just want a Baller Ass Cap to take to the range and maybe show off at SHOT in January.

Then, of course, I have high hopes of ordering my USPSA Limited pistol (an STI Edge) before the end of the month.

If the gods of gunpowder and fun approve, this should be a great month for shootin' indeed and you can expect reviews of everything right here.

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Training, Practice, and Plain Ol' Shootin'

Giving some thought recently to what it means to train, to practice, and to just go to the range and play.

In the Tacticool world you often hear people talk about going to the range to "train" and I think it's both a little misleading and a little intellectually dishonest to one's self to call a trip to the range "training."

I think what I and most other serious shooters do when we take a defensive or competition rig to the range and run through a series of drills is actually practi e, and not technically training.

Training involves some level of formalized instruction. In martial arts (Aikido, Judo, and Karate per my personal experience) we always were led by a sensei or at least one of the black belts.

At the range, we're typically on our own or with friends. We work on drills from known instructors or those we've developed ourselves, but we're working to reinforce skills we obtained through training we've taken elsewhere.

Practice, therefore, is essential. It's the mechanism by which we integrate training into our lives, our defensive routines, or our competitive skill set. We will apart certainly learn while we train - we discover efficiencies, program complex operations into our "reptile brain" and make room for more learning.

I think it's important for those of us who instruct others to acknowledge and address the importance of both training and practice as one is only marginally effective without the other.

...and it helps us justify the request (begging) for funding to take more training classes!!!

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Slight Change in Plans much as I would love to start my journey into USPSA Limited Division with a full-on custom pistol, I don't really want to earn the reputation of someone who simply jumped in with his checkbook.

You know... Folks like the newbie skiers who come to the hill loaded with the latest info the Internet has to offer and the best equipment a damaged credit rating can afford. There's nothing more fun than blowing past those folks on an old pair of slalom race boards you picked up on discount in understated Gore-Tex and well-worn gloves. I still have the old Gore-Tex jacket... the gloves are long since blown out

I've hung the skis up (three knee operations later) but in the shooting world I absolutely love being the guy who shows up with good (but not flashy) gear and placing well with it.

Most of the folks I compete with are the same way... just like my old ski buddies. We're not dirtbags by any means but we know our gear, use our gear, and tailor it based on what we want, not what looks cool on Brian Enos Forums.

So... I share that long and winding story to tell you this one - instead of custom-building my first race gun I'm going to order a box-stock Edge from STI with no extras and no frills from the start.

I'm going to study the platform, learn how it fits, feels, and functions. I'm going to shoot it as much as possible before next season and keep after my goal of making "B" in Production with my lightly-modified M&P.

I anticipate adding a fiber optic front sight fairly quickly and dropping in an extended magazine release before competition season. I'll save up for a good set of magazines and likely send it to one of the local competition guru gunsmiths for a trigger job. After that, my plans are to run the snot out of it and start to build my chops in another competition division.

The funds are coming together, and I should be able to place the order within the next 3-4 weeks. I can't wait!

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