Monday, July 30, 2007

CWSA FAlling Plates - 07/29/07

A really important thing to remember when shooting in matches is that every match, every stage, every shot, once completed, is now history, and good or bad, it should not be allowed to influence the rest of your shooting. This, of course, is much easier said than done.

How often have you seen a shooter have something go wrong, only to let it foul up his next shot? At the Limited 10 IPSC Nationals a few weeks ago in Missoula Doug Koenig had a magazine slip out of his hand just as he was about to slide it into the pistol. It was in the match, and he was moving between shooting stations and he was reloading quickly as the clock was running. The magazine went over his shoulder, but without a wasted motion, he grabbed another magazine from his belt, got it into the gun, and resumed firing, without losing any time at all.

How easy would it have been to have the whole stage fall apart at that point? When the reload went wrong he just mentally hit the "Reset" button and went back to the "It's time to reload" procedure built into his muscle memory from lots and lots of practice.

Saturday in the CWSA Steel Challenge match I just couldn't quite get things to click. I was missing shots I would normally hit, and slowing down didn't seem to help, all that did for me was produce the same missed shots and slower times too!

After every match, regardless of how I did, I always spend some time mentally going back over the day, looking for what went right, what went wrong, and most importantly, looking for things that need to be worked on to keep them from happening again. Here's what I looked at from Saturdays steel match: The biggest problem seemed to be that I was missing the 10" plates at the farthest distances. When you are missing targets in a match, often it's just that you are trying to shoot too quickly, but slowing down a little didn't seem to be helping. If I could have seem exactly how I was missing, I might have figured it out in the match, but I couldn't tell for sure what was going on.

After the match was over I got a chance to shoot the worst stage over a few times for practice, and I could see that I was shooting over the top of the plate every time. Finally the light came on, and I figured out what was happening. I adjust the red dot sight sight to be about 3/8" low at 25 feet, which is just about dead on at 10 yards. Bowling pins and falling plates are usually shot at 25 feet. That means that at 25 yards or so I'm about 6 inches high. BINGO! I was forgetting to aim at the bottom edge of the plate! Hitting 6 inches high with an aim point of dead center on a 10 inch plate puts you one inch over the top. Some shooters like to sight in at 25 yards, and then everything will be within a couple of inches, but bowling pin tops are the smallest speed targets I shoot, and I want the be really accurate for them. It really doesn't make a whole lot of difference what method you use, as long as you understand it and more importantly, remember what you have to do to get the results you want. Now that I knew what had happened I could "put it to bed". If I don't figure out what went wrong it can nag at me for weeks!

Yesterday, Sunday, was a rimfire falling plate match, and the distance was 25 feet. Big targets, in close, and shoot just as fast as you can go and still hit them. CWSA falling plate matches are head to head matches, so there is no clock running, just the shooter next to you trying the knock over his six plates be fore you knock over your six. Each shooter shoots three times against every other shooter, so you shoot a lot of ammo! These matches are fast and furious, and no one gets through the match without losing a few runs.

Evil Al was looking unbeatable, with Tony C. shooting probably even faster, but a little more inconsistent. Tony's dad Chris was shooting better than I've ever seen him shoot, too. Jim P. was shooting fast enough to win it, and Lou G. Rainy, and KeeWee were all going to beat up on some shooters too. In fact, KeeWee almost beat Al on one run, it was almost a tie! Tony had started the match with an iron sighted gun, and lost a few runs early on, but then switched to a red dot sight gun, and from there on was just about unbeatable. After some of the fastest and closest matches I've ever seen, the dust finally settled, the range was quiet, and the final scores were added up. As the scoring was underway, KeeWee and I loaded up our gear and got set for the drive home. To no one's surprise, Al, with 28.5 points, had once again prevailed. Second place, however, provided a surprise! Tied, with 26.5 points each, was Tony's dad Chris and I! There was going to be a shoot-off for second place! I unloaded the gun case and the ammo, and Chris and I went up to the line.

"Shooter's to the line, load and make ready!"

"Ready on the left?"


Ready on the right?"





"Winner on the left!"

WOOO HOOO - That's me!

Same thing, then:


"Winner on the right!"

One for Chris, now it all comes down to roughly two seconds of fast and furious shooting ,while trying to not let the adrenaline take over your shooting!

And finally, the last run to decide second place:


Not pretty, the adrenaline had taken it's toll, but

"Winner on the left!"

What a rush! It just doesn't get any better than that, when shooters are so closely matched that it's any one's guess as to the outcome. Chris is a fine shooter, and he just keeps improving match by match! Jim P. wound up third, with KeeWee, Lou G., Rainy, and Tony all withing a point or so of each other, as I remember.

I had managed to put Saturday's match out of my mind and focus on the match at hand. More importantly, I managed to not forget that club level shooting is only a game, to not take it too seriously, and most importantly, have fun shooting the match.

It was a fun day!



At Thursday, August 02, 2007 10:49:00 PM, Blogger Jerry The Geek said...

I like the way you take your matches home with you, and share them with us. Maybe it takes a competitive shooter to appreciate the adrenaline rush you describe, but it's true that the the pressure of shooting against another person provides a thrill which is difficult to match while wearing clothes.

In competition, it's important to know where your gun is hitting at all ranges. I sight my STI Open Gun in at 25 yards for IPSC competition, but when I shoot at 50 yard targets I have discovered that I have to shoot low ... very low ... to get a hit. A Master Class shooter of my acquaintance informs me that he sights in at 50 yards and has no problems engaging close targets. This is probably a lesson for us all, although of course my IPSC targets are usually much smaller than your steel targets.

About the drop-a-reload 'problem', I have found that it's best to habitually go to the line with all the magazines you own, even if you're using a hi-cap gun with 25 and 20 round magazines and it's a 6-round stage.

Anything can (and will) happen in competition, and when you combine a dropped magazine with a jam and a failed baseplate, it's easy to lose three 25-round magazines before you can get another shot off to complete the stage. My philosophy is, "it's better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it". I always assume that at least 2 of the 3 errors will happen, and never go to the line with less than 3 magazines ... preferably 5, if I expect to reload at least once during the match due to the minimum round-count.

It may happen that it's just not worth the time to reload to take that last shot, but at least you always have the option when you have enough magazines.


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