Recently, I posted a video on the Steve Foster – Competitive Shooter page on facebook (also found here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-To_zIg8I8 ) talking through my thought process of shooting my CWA Rimfire Pistol Open gun on a plate rack. In the last few months I have been trying to ‘push’ my Targeted Edge Dial a little too hard with my pistols. I believe, this is a direct result of all the time I have been putting in with my Magnum Research Switchbolt and JP PCC. The Edge for each of these guns is different and I need to do a better job remembering this when I get to the firing line. Of all the tools I have in my bag and out on the range, the Plate rack is setup exactly the same and it can be measured equally, every time. When I am struggling to shoot with the fundamentals of marksmanship, I turn my attention to the plate rack and it ‘settles’ the Targeted Edge Dial to the appropriate percentage.
My GT Targets plate rack has six 8” plates and when I shoot it at 12 yards away, I know I need to have a proper sight focus to make my hits. From time to time, I can get away with an occasional target focus, but this is not a consistent way to shoot. As I walk through in the video, I need to be able to know where my Edge is of my capability to shoot a good time. I know my 100% is in the 1.80 second range, needless to say, I don’t go into the first string trying turn my Targeted Edge Dial to 100% or greater. I start at ~ 85% to get my hits and then turn my dial to the appropriate % to start to push the pace, but remain in control as I demonstrate in the video.
There has been a lot of discussion and personal reflection in the past couple of weeks around how to shoot well and my video sparked some discussion around does my Targeted Edge seem different from day to day or match to match. First, let me share some reflections and opinions of what can influence the Targeted Edge as well as subconscious shooting:
- Gun or ammunition failures
- Poorly setup targets or targets themselves
- Impact of shooting a major match – without a lot of major match experience
First, gun or ammunition failures can be more than a distraction and something, which can be frustrating. When shooting speed competitions such as Steel Challenge or Rimfire Challenge you need to be shooting in the subconscious. As we have talked through previously, subconscious shooting is always faster. Anything that interrupts this information flow effectively, slows down the process whether we know it or not. As the range command is given, “Are you ready… Stand by..” if you are wondering if your gun will go bang, you will not be able to let your subconscious take over. Now, you are thinking about the gun running and looking, feeling, or trying to be proactive with anything, which does not seem right. This takes attention away from what you are here to do. Your Edge has not changed at all, but your ability to perform at the Targeted Edge has changed.
Similar to gun or ammunition failures, poorly setup targets or targets with exposed hangers can have the same impact on a shooter. With an exposed hanger, if you call a shot high and you don’t have a second validation of an audible ring or a clear ability to see a hit you question your ability to shoot which results in double tapping a target you have already hit. Some are particular to how stages are setup in Steel Challenge competitions because we rely on doing the same thing over and over again. In a recent match, I missed the stop plate twice on Five to Go (both strings with make-ups) because I was relying on my natural swing of my body and gun and I was shooting just over the top of the target. After the second string I realized the Stop plate was 6-8” low, I made a mental adjustment and followed-through with eye on the sight, on the stop plate without missing the remaining three strings. Needless to say, my second and third strings were slower than where I like to shoot in a match, but I knew I had to “dial” things back to shoot more consciously to score well. My 4th and 5th strings were back in the 85-90% range.
Lastly, shooting at a major match or traveling to a new club can increase the ‘nervous’ feeling we have while shooting. In my experience, this is when the Foster Effect rises to the surface. I have to reassure my 85-90% times are good enough and trying to shoot 110% strings on my first string of my first stage is not a recipe for success. After all, I have a tried this numerous times without success.
In summary, our shooting Edge does not change overnight, but it can change with time and practice. Therefore, the Targeted Edge Dial does not change either. What does change is the mental influence we allow to impact our shooting performance. If you feel the Edge has changed for you in a division or on a stage, a match is not the place to make this determination… it is to be questioned and validated on the practice range.
See you out on the range soon!