In 1997 I saved up $5k while I was going to college working 60 hours a week with a full time course load. There was nothing I wanted more than to buy a new car; it was a status symbol. I had a well running car and it was fantastic in the snow, but it was not nearly as cool as a new one! My dad and I walked into a Chevrolet dealer to look at some great deals on corvettes. This is one of the car buying regrets I have in my life, I should have bought that 1996 Green Convertible. However, my dad did drive home in a 1996 White Corvette, it was slightly used with just a couple miles on it.. what a deal. I took the more practical approach and went to the Mercedes dealership. I know what you are thinking, how was this practical? Well, they also sold Subaru, which I heard great things about. They were All Wheel Drive, with decent performance, and had a great aesthetic to them. I remember seeing this shiny white Legacy GT with awesome rims and I knew I had to drive it! As you can imagine, one test drive and my “wanting it” quickly turned into “needing it”! We sat down, did the paperwork, and I was driving home in my new $27K car. How could life be any better?!
Unfortunately, despite being all-wheel drive it was a horrible car to drive in the snow. It only took my first winter in upstate New York before I found the ditch doing 360’s down the middle of Interstate 81. Shortly after this roller coaster ride, I decided to upgrade the shoes and spent $1k on the best snow tires on the market. Despite my investment, the car resembled the handling of a rear-wheel drive car and it was not suitable for the amount of driving I was doing. I did not have the car longer than 18 months before I traded it in on an all-wheel drive SUV. I lost a significant amount of money on the trade.
This experience reminds me a training session I did with a first time student. We had documented strings and total stage times faster than they have ever shot before. They were insistent on taking some first shot practice shots. I told him I advised against it because although we broke down his strings into opportunity of where he could make up time, I stayed away from the first shot. I shared with him I believe the first shot to be sacred and if it took a little extra time to get it, we would make it up on the other plates. Too often, I have seen people push the first shot too much and strings of fire have gone down in flames because of it. He said that he appreciated my perspective and he was going to do it any way. I then shared with him that was fine. I then wrote down on a piece of paper what was going to happen as if I was Miss Cleo.
After approximately 40 draws to the first shot he was able to reduce his first shot time by .15 seconds. I asked him if he was ready to shoot a ‘stage’ worth of strings to see if his practice had paid off. He said absolutely. As the timer went off, the first shot was blistering fast as I saw a puff of smoke just over the top of the first plate, he hit the second plate, and then fired two more shots at the first plate before he hit it and proceeded to go one for one on the last two plates. He shook his head and then I asked him if he had this out of his system. He laughed and said that he did. String #2 was reminiscent of String #1, but with one less make up shot. String #3-#5 were identical, the first shot was .1 slower than what he was running prior to the practice and went one for one. The total stage time was 3 seconds slower than his personal best he just shot prior to the first shot practice session.
He turned around and I told him I wrote down a prediction on a piece of paper. He asked what it was. I told him I predicted how he was going to shoot after the first shot practice. I opened the paper and I said on the first couple of strings your first shot time was going to be slightly faster but he was going to have make-up shots. Then on last couple of strings he was going to slow back down to make sure he went one for one, but the total times were slower than what he was running prior to the first shot practice. Was this sorcery? No. As I explained, for some reason when we shoot, we tell our brain we want to do one thing fast and all it registers is we need to do everything fast. If we tell our brain we want to move our Edge Dial from 85% to close to 100% or more on the first shot, we turn the dial for all of the shots on a string. An experienced shooter can turn the Edge Dial, shot by shot or even the arrays on the stage. As we work on strings of fire, I prefer to turn the dial for the whole stage at a time, but still maintain 85% on the first string.
As with my big first car purchase, you really need to think through what is going to happen after you lay out that kind of money and really think about what is going to happen next or down the road. You have to look past what is going to happen after the first plate. By focusing only on the short-term benefit, it can have long-term detriment. Think about this the next time you are out on the range working on your Edge.
See you out on the range soon!