Being out of control while shooting does not mean you are shooting fast, you are just out of control. I have found my fastest stages while shooting I have experienced a sense of calm and clarity. If I could tap into this pace of shooting at will, I would be a much better shooter.
I share this reminder on the heels of a training experience and match experience where this concept kept popping up. When you are practicing, we have to focus on The EDGE and have command of the Targeted Edge Dial. How do we ever expect to execute the command of the Targeted Edge Dial in a match if we can’t do this in practice? As an insight into training, I always write down my times. I use this as an accountability tool. Just because you shot one string in practice on Five to Go of 1.75 seconds doesn’t mean you are going to go out and shoot four strings of 1.75 ea totaling 7.00 seconds.
This past weekend was an exercise of “dialing” things back. The West Florida Steel Challenge Championship hosted at the Wyoming Antelope Club in Clearwater Florida is the most challenging venue I have ever shot at. All of the range bays have concrete walls and ceiling, which is a requirement because of the neighboring airport. The lighting is challenging to see targets past 15 yards whereas lighting outdoors even on a cloudy day is much easier to see the plates. There are gaps in the ceiling, assuming for ventilation, which casts rays of lights down in front of the shooter. Even the smallest smoke emitted from the end of the muzzle makes a curtain you can barely see through. The other anomaly is the acoustics of the shooting environment. There is a significant echo when you pull the trigger making it impossible to listen for hits in the plates.
Having shot in these conditions before it is an exercise in turning the Dial way back. With this in mind, I could not help but push the pace on certain strings and was quickly reminded these are unique shooting conditions. Mentally, this did take a toll on my mental state fighting my Foster Effect on every single division, every single stage, every single string, and every single shot. This type of shooting is something I need to work on throughout the year. On the heels of a sub-60 performance and a 40.8 second 6 stage local match, my goal was to match this time. These conditions are just not the same and therefore I should not try to shoot as they were. After my first string at a 70% performance it was a swift reminder we did not have the same conditions. It was very challenging to dial my strings back to a level I have not shot at in a couple of years.
The result of ‘dialing’ things back resulted in 4 Championships. I admit it was not as clean as it could have been. I lost the dial on my Rimfire pistol open gun on one stage and despite making a concerted effort I had to ‘eat’ a miss on this stage and it cost me first place in RFPO as well as Title of Steel Master. For me, this is a great reminder every string and stage is equally important. My mission as I hit the practice range this week is to now ‘dial’ things back up to where I was prior to this match and instill confidence in my ability. I share this experience with you as some insight of my thought process and the importance of control. I hope this helps just one of you, it will be worth the time to document my thoughts.
I hope to see you out on the range soon!