I haven’t done a match recap post in a while, mainly since I haven’t shot a match in a while. My work schedule put me on the road for a few weeks (with a few more weeks coming up), so I was unable to get out to a match. Thankfully, I made it home in time for the first Thursday match and was able to shoot.
Having been traveling, I went in a bit rusty. I hadn’t shot in a week and a half, nor had I done any dry fire. I barely had time to load up 100 rounds of my match ammo before I left the house. So, I figured I would just dial it back, take my time on the stages and have fun. That worked; mostly.
Because I usually squad up in Squad 4, I shoot the stages backwards. Stage four was a strong-hand, weak-hand stage with three targets. We shot it in two strings. String one was strong-hand only with a draw, then put four shots on each target. The trick was, the gun could only be loaded with six rounds to start. So that meant a reload. String two was weak-hand only with no draw. Thankfully, my one-handed shooting is getting a lot better and I only dropped 5 points (one in the 3-down zone, dang it!), and my speed was OK. I ended up 17th overall and 9th in my division (SSP), which I was pretty happy with considering my earlier, terrible performances with one-handed shooting.
This was a typical stage with some atypical shooting. We started off engaging six targets at close range with one shot each. The targets were stacked and part of the 0-down rings were behind cover. I aced that array. We then moved on to a few more arrays at various distances with no-shoots and more cover. I ended up only 2 points down on that stage, which felt really good. While my raw time was 6-10 seconds slower than the fastest shooters, I still landed 9th overall and 4th in SSP. Again, pretty solid.
This is where it all started going horribly wrong. Feeling pretty good from the first two stages, I almost went into this one in “hold my beer” mode. Not really, but almost. We started with two shots each on two targets while retreating. No problem, 0 down. Then engage three targets from behind a barrel, not hitting the no-shoots mixed in. Again, no problem. Here’s where I did really well, and blew it at the same time.
At the end of the second array, if you shot it right, you would have spent 10 rounds. There was one final array that needed 6 more rounds. In SSP, we start the stage with 11 rounds in the gun. I watched a lot of guys shoot 4, move, shoot 6, move, shoot one, reload, then shoot 5 more.
I reasoned I could dump a third round into the last target of the second array and reload on the fly. I had to move anyway, and it is always faster to reload on the move rather than in the middle of an array. So I did. And I saved a solid 3 seconds doing that, mainly because the last array was shot from kneeling, and that threw everyone’s reloads off.
However, the third array was set at about 5 yards. I figured I could land there will a full gun and just burn it down. Big mistake. I didn’t take the extra tenth of a second to get a solid sight picture on each target and immediately started throwing them in the 1-down zone. So I went back for make up shots. A lot of them! I ended up emptying the gun trying get shots in the 0-zone. And let me tell you, I was missing really fast!
At the end, the RO laughed and said, “I don’t know what that was, but it was awesome!” It wasn’t awesome, but it was fun. I ended up 3 points down and 4th in SSP and 9th overall. Not bad, but I should have done better. If I had taken an extra 3/10ths second and acquired solid sight pictures on each target, I’d have 3-4 slots higher in the standings.
Here I learned it’s a mental game as much as anything. I knew my turn to shoot was coming up. Typically, about one shooter before my turn, I’ll get off to a corner and mentally run the stage 4-5 times. Sometimes I’ll even air-draw and squeeze off “shots.” Pre-visualization really does help. However, we had a new shooter there, which is not uncommon. He asked me a question about scoring and I decide that would be a good time to explain the scoring process as well as talk strategy on makeup shots. As I was talking, I heard the words, “Mike is my shooter!” Ugh! I wasn’t ready.
This stage had some tricky target locations, three shooting positions, long-range shots and no-shoots covering much of a few targets. I tanked. I got hit with 2 Procedural Errors for crossing fault lines (and I’ve been doing so well!). I hit a no-shoot. And I dropped 4 points. That actually wasn’t bad considering the range I was shooting at—though I really need to work on my distance shots. But 11 seconds worth of penalties really hurt. I ended up 27th overall and 13th in SSP.
At the end of the night, I was 12th overall and 7th in SSP. That was my best showing to date and I feel pretty good about it. Though, to be fair, at least 3-4 guys who normally shoot SSP were shooting a different division in preparation for another upcoming match. They are all better than me, so my standing surely would have been lowered in SSP. But still, 12th overall was good. Moreover, take out the 6 seconds of PEs for crossing fault lines—which I should really be over by now— and I’m in the top 10. And, had I landed all 0 hits on the third array of stage two and not shot the no-shoot, I’m pushing top 5.
So, lessons learned; slow down and get the hits. Work on distance shooting. And don’t be afraid to tell someone, “Hold that thought, I need to prep for my stage.” Ultimately, I’m still having a blast shooting IDPA and am grateful for the opportunity to do it. See you at the next match!