I haven’t told this to many people…
A good friend of mine and fellow co-worker is into shooting, and he coaxed me into shooting a GSSF match in Dawsonville, Georgia. I was very nervous because I did not shoot Glocks much, and I bought a brand new Glock 17 RTF2 for the match. Reluctantly, I went to the match because my friend assured me it would be fun, and there was no drawing from a holster. There were 100’s of people at the match when we arrived. I remember feeling overwhelmed and was not sure if I was going to compete. My friend urged me that we were going to do this together. Outside of hearing the timer all I can remember is an adrenaline rush and the anxiousness I felt subside. I remember rushing and not even looking at my sights as I pulled the trigger because I was trying to keep ‘pace’ with the shooters ahead of me and beside me. Needless to say, I did not score well. Each of the next two stages were ‘better’. The feeling of being overwhelmed and what others thought of me started to drift in the rearview mirror.
A turning point for me and the future of my shooting career happened at this match. The match director of a local steel match asked how long I have been shooting, and I told him this was my first big match. He asked if I had shot any steel before, and I had only shot some steel trees and other small plates. He said my friend and I had to go to his match and he said we would fall in love. I remember the first time I shot Steel Challenge: it was at the Griffin Gun Club in Griffin, Georgia.
It was a few months before I got up the courage to shoot this match. If it was not for my friend Ron, I’m not sure if I would have. For some reason, I was concerned about what people would think: Would they be better than I am? How I would shoot? Did I have the right gear? While I shot my first match, my friend and I were squadded with someone people were talking about at the match, her name is Randi Rogers. Wow, when I saw her shoot, I was in absolute amazement, and I was intimidated more now than ever! She was the RO for our squad, and she was so nice and helpful. I was not sure what to expect. It was in part how she treated me, as a newbie, why I became somewhat comfortable.
What I have not told many people is how much I enjoyed the adrenaline rush, how I released the stress from the work week, and how great the people I have met along the way. For some reason, I still was anxious to go to my next match, and I waited 6 months. The feelings I had experienced for my first match were still there, but they subsided more and more from each match I shot. Today, I still have a little bit of this new shooter in me when I go to the firing line at a major match. As with experience, this feeling subsides with time and experience.
For me, part of furthering and growing the sport is to create an environment where new and experienced shooters alike feel comfortable out on the range. In the past couple of months, I have brought two new shooters to the range, and I have shot with them their first couple of matches to help them get through the same curve I did, but hopefully at a quicker rate. Once we get past this feeling of intimidation, anxiety, or unsureness is truly when we can have fun, enjoy the company of each other and add to the greatest family there is, the shooting family.
What I leave you with is an open invitation. If you feel overwhelmed to go to your first match and you are in the area, let me know and I will take you. No strings attached. If you want to ‘chat’ about it, email, or call, let me know! I challenge my peers in the shooting community to do the same. If you ask any of us for help, I seriously doubt you will be met with anything less than support and encouragement. A little encouragement can go a long way!
See you out on the range soon!