The 2018 Georgia State Steel Challenge Championship shot at the Griffin Gun Club, I had the opportunity to shoot with my friend and co-host of the Steel Target Paint Podcast, Jeff Jones. The Georgia match has been historically the kick off to the Steel Challenge season on the first weekend of February each year until it moved in 2019 to the first weekend in March. On Saturday morning we started shooting at 8AM and I recall it being around 34 degrees with the promise to make it to 50 degrees in the afternoon. We were squadded with some familiar faces in Georgia as well as friends from out of state. This made for a pleasant shooting experience. When I am having fun and relaxed, I tend to shoot some of my best times.
The morning session was well underway and we approached Smoke and Hope. I shot a solid first string with my JP PCC of 1.73 seconds. The next string was a 2.54 with 3 make-up shots. I was able to turn the Dial back for a 1.80, and pushed the 4th string a little with a 1.69 and then finally I knew I needed a good string shot a 1.74 for a stage win in PCCO of 6.96 seconds. Reflecting on this moment from two years ago puts in perspective how fast the Steel Challenge game has become. Stage wins on Smoke and Hope at major matches are sub 6.50seconds or high 5 second runs. Despite all of the change, one thing is still the same. The human mind has a subconscious way of turning the Targeted Edge (TE) Dial up without us really knowing that the Dial is turning.
Let me explain this concept a bit more. When I am training students, I will tell them to shoot the first string in the box at a Targeted Edge of 85% or TE85. On a stage like Smoke and Hope this could be 1.80 seconds. Next, I will ask the shooter to do the same exact thing and shoot a TE85 time. What ends up happening is 5% of the time people will shoot a slower time of 1.80 seconds because they go into super-cautious mode and turn back the dial to a TE75 or so shooting a 1.98. However, there is the other 95% of people who will subconsciously turn the TE Dial to TE90 and try to shoot a 1.62 or faster. The issue is when we don’t lock the Dial in place mentally it has a tendency to move on its own. The subconscious is usually the culprit. We have an insatiable need to go and shoot fast at a subconscious level. I call this the Jones Syndrome.
As I was on my fifth string I told my friend behind me to watch this as I shot a 1.74. My point was I was going to shoot a solid string and my squad mate Jeff thought I was going to try to really burn it down. It was Jeff’s turn to go to the firing line and shoot his five strings. I can’t recall the exact times he had, but I do recall some being good and some he had pickups. As I did on my fifth string, Jeff turned around and looked right at me and yelled “Hold my Beer”. I was not sure exactly what I was going to watch, but it was going to be exciting. Jeff was right on the timer with his first shot on the first plate, a shot was fired before I heard the “P” in B-E-E-P. He was then firing shots faster than I could count. I don’t think it was more than 10 shots fired because I did not see him reload his gun, but I didn’t see a loaded round as he was asked to ‘show clear’. He turned around and started laughing as he walked away from the firing line. Although Jeff shot his last round consciously as fast as he could move the gun, there were a few strings which were progressively faster with some make-up shots.
As we shoot fast, some of us never feel as we don’t shoot fast enough and we either consciously turn the dial past our TE100 or subconsciously it drifts past where we would like it to be because we are Jonesing for more. We have this insatiable craving to shoot faster regardless if we consciously try to control it. This is why you see some less than ideal runs after you see a great string of fire. The little person on your shoulder whispers in your ear “you can do better than that” or they say “hold my beer and show them what you have!” This is the Jones Syndrome. Something to think about during your next range session.
See you out on the range soon!