Over the past few years you have heard me talk a lot about the “Edge”. As a refresher, the “Edge” is 100% of your Shooting Capability. When you shoot faster and push yourself beyond your capability is when you go over ‘the Edge’. When shooting over the “Edge” your level of accuracy declines because you can’t ‘see what you need to see’ and you start to miss. Effectively, what this means is you are no longer getting the proper sight picture when you pull the trigger. A common example for those who shoot Steel Challenge or other repetitive events such as USPSA classifiers, is when you pull the trigger, the gun is not where you expect it to be and you miss. There is no doubt in my mind you should always see your front sight or dot on every single target on every single stage!
As with any speed shooting, there is a very fine line between shooting on the “Edge” and going over the “Edge.” It is easy to push your limits too far and start to miss your intended target. It is no secret, to score well in speed shooting you have to go “one-for-one”. This means one shot and one hit for every target. There is a time when you want to shoot over “the edge”; but it is critical to know when to do this. Championships are won simply by knowing when or when not to push past the “Edge” on any given stage.
Let’s talk strategy and introduce some new terminology. When I step up to the firing line during a match or training session, I shoot the first string at 85% of my Edge for that particular division and stage. Going forward let’s call this Targeted Edge of 85% or TE85 for short. This means I need to understand where my Edge is for every division and every stage. A great place to start is to look up your classification on scsa.org and look at the desired division and stage. For the purpose of this example I will use a division of PCCO and the Steel Challenge stage Accelerator. My classification time on this stage is 7.87 seconds with an average string time of 1.97 seconds (rounded) which was set on August 15, 2019. When training and shooting a match, I use the 1.97 as a TE100 or Targeted Edge of 100% of my capability. What does this mean when I get up to the line to shoot string #1? My strategy is to shoot a TE85 which is 1.97 * (1+(1-.85) = 2.26 seconds. This allows me to feel comfortable on that stage and know I can go “one for one” and not miss at TE85. On my next string I will Dial it up because I know that I can shoot TE85 on this stage all day long
The Dial I mention is the Target Edge Dial where consciously I move between 85% of my Edge to 99% and back to 75% when needed. To continue the above example, when I shoot a TE85 of 2.26 seconds then I have a decision to make. Do I play it safe or turn up the Dial? I turn up the Dial 100% of the time after shooting a TE85 successfully. I then usually go to TE95 which would land me at a time of 2.07. If this ‘felt’ in control I would turn the Dial up to TE100 and see if string #3 would land me a time of 1.97. If this felt in control, my Edge may have shifted based on my training regimen and then I would shoot for a TE110 and see if I could land a 1.77 second string. At this point, if I connect one-for-one on string #4, I keep the dial at TE110 or TE115 and take a 1.77. My four best times are 1.77+1.77+1.97+2.07 = 7.58 total stage time and set a new personal best.
What gets a lot of us shooters in trouble with scoring well is thinking the TE110 of 1.77, in my example above, is the new TE85 time. With this misperception, if we start string #1 or #2 at TE110 and miss, we have to make up a shot. Now, we have the pressure of Dialing things back to a true TE85 and the next strings will be below a TE100. So the total time now will be at least 8.5-9 seconds even if everything is shot clean.
As we train, we have to identify what our Edge is on a stage and know when and how to Dial our string times accordingly to score well. Remember a TE135 string of 1.68 is not repeatable for four strings. Trust me, I have tried it… over and over.. and over again. Being a smarter shooter will lead to consistency and your times will fall lower than you ever thought they would be!
See you out on the range soon!