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The next 405 days..

The World Speed Shooting Championships (WSSC) concluded on May 19th 2019.  Being exactly 1 second from a World Title, I knew I needed to build a plan to shoot sub-60 seconds to have a chance at a world title in 2020. Immediately following this match gave birth to the plan below, Road to 60 seconds (or 59.95):

StageStage #DivisionPersonal BestPeak TimeRoad to 60Avg String
5 to GoSC-101Rimfire Rifle Open8.2910.5             8.00            2.00
ShowdownSC-102Rimfire Rifle Open6.327.5             6.25            1.56
Smoke and hopeSC-103Rimfire Rifle Open5.257             6.00            1.50
Outer LimitsSC-104Rimfire Rifle Open10.4411.5             9.65            3.22
AcceleratorSC-105Rimfire Rifle Open7.729             7.80            1.95
PendulumSC-106Rimfire Rifle Open8.469.5             8.00            2.00
Speed OptionSC-107Rimfire Rifle Open8.129.5             8.00            2.00
RoundaboutSC-108Rimfire Rifle Open6.437.5             6.25            1.56
Total Time61.03                 72.059.95

Starting on the left, the first column is the Steel Challenge Stage name, followed by the Stage Number, Division, my personal best times from classification, the peak times for 2019 (at the time), the stage times to shoot sub-60 (in this case 59.95), and finally the average string times needed to shoot sub-60.  Please note times are rounded to the nearest hundredth.

The weekend after the match, I sat down with Chris Barrett and his dad and I said, “we need to talk about something.”  “Steel Target Paint needs to be on the top spots of the podium in 2020 at the next WSSC and here is the roadmap to shoot sub 60.”  We all started to smile and reviewed the road map of how we were going to make this happen.  We first had to assess the times to make sure they were reasonable and we agreed they were.  We thought about moving some times around from bucket to bucket, but agreed the goals and plan were solid.  Then, we went to work.  Every practice session was calibrated by the ability to hit these times.  For me, I knew I had to be stronger on Outer Limits because this was my largest gaps in time and so this is what I did.  I studied every movement, broke out the video camera, and examined every nuance of the stage.  Footwork is only part of the success of the stage, albeit an important one.  The rest, well, I have left some tips on the podcast and on some of my other blog posts for consideration.

Below is a summary of the Road Map to breaking 60 and my stage times from Saturday 6/27/2020 at the Little River Sportsman’s Association in Valdosta Georgia.

I knew I shot the match pretty clean only taking 2-3 makeup shots into my score, but I was not ready for what the ‘pad’ revealed.  I thought it was 60 seconds or maybe a hair under, but a rush of emotion hit me when it displayed 58.42 seconds.  Admittedly, I immediately validated all stages were scored and there were not an errant time.  Needless to say, as of the writing of this post, 58.42 seconds is the new watermark for Steel Challenge.

Words cannot express how grateful I am for the loving support of my family and sponsors who have helped me reach this goal.  It was all that more special because I was shooting with friends and my oldest daughter Vanessa.  My message from this experience is if you build a plan and put in the work, great things can happen.  Additionally, now that I have been here, I know the path and it will be easier to find my way back.

A quick gear review:

Steel Target Paint

ELEY Force

Magnum Research Switchbolt

Powder River Precision Trigger

Tandemkross Fireswitch, takedown knob, and Kross pins

Vortex Razor 6 MOA

Hunters HD Gold Velocity eyewear

SteveFosterShooting Compensator – manufactured by Wiland USA

SteveFosterShooting Bolt stop pin/buffer

Pro Ears

CelCal Cerakote Basepads

Hogue rifle bag

Transported on my Range Tactical Gear Cart

Targeted Innovations Magazine caddy

See you out on the range soon!

Steve

Sometimes you need to take a close look at things..

Back in 1995 I turned 18 years old and I had aspirations of conquering the world.  First of all, I have always wanted a corvette, so I found one!  You know, it was a status symbol people around the immediate area recognized success with.  There was a 1976 Corvette sitting at a mechanics garage with a for sale sign on it.  I must have driven past the car 100 times on the way to the local place to eat during the summer, Rudy’s.  This car was a unique color being a brown and gold two-tone finish.  One day, I had the courage to drive into the establishment and started to look around as if I was an expert car guy.  The Paint was in great shape, the fiberglass was all solid, but the interior needed some long overdue loving.

After peaking through the windows, a burly guy came out and asked if he could help me.  I said I was considering buying a corvette and I have seen this one sitting by the road so many times and wondered why it had not sold yet.  He said that the interior needed to be replaced, but the engine was where the value was.  It was a 350 bored out, cam, blah blah blah.  I sat in the car and started it for the first time.  It started quicker and more effortless than any other car I have ever placed a key in the ignition of.  You could clearly tell there were a lot of ponies under the hood that wanted to get out to run.  He said he dyno’d the car and it made over 400hp.  I asked him how much he was asking and he said he just dropped the price down from $7500 to $5000 but he needed it gone.  I told him he was a little strong on price and I would offer him $3500.  He politely said no.  I told him to take my number down and call me if he changed his mind. 

A month went by and the phone rang at our house.  My mom answered the phone and said some person wanted to talk to me.  It was the owner of the Corvette.  He said that if I got down there today with $3500 it was mine.  I had to talk my dad into driving me down, but he reluctantly did.  He got out and said it was the ugliest color combination he had ever seen.  I told him, we could change all of that!  I drove the car home and as I type this you can’t get the smile off my face.  When we got home, I told my dad he should drive it, it had a ton of power.  He said those cars do not make much power.  I told him to stand back and watch.  I dumped the clutch and pressed on the gas and after burning the tires in 3rd gear I let out of it.  All I could see in the rearview mirror was my dad holding his head with his hand and shaking his head.  I made a victory lap and said, that was cool huh?!

The next day I brought the car out of the garage to wash and wax the car.  While washing the car I started to notice the minor imperfections of the paint here and there, definitely did not see this when I first looked at the car.  With every motion of the soapy rag I found every single nuance in the paint and fiberglass.  It was not perfect, but it was still amazing!

A few weeks ago I was training a student who is a Grand Master in multiple Steel Challenge divisions.  On the surface they were a bit intimidating to watch from 7 feet away.  As we started to document our string times, evaluate his match and stage management we started to see all of the slight imperfections.  As I shared with him, we all have a Shooting Tendency and we needed to figure out what his was.  It was important to spend the time and effort to look closely at his total shooting performance so we could identify these areas of opportunity and make them better. 

The next time you are out at the range practicing, think about how you are practicing and critically look at your shooting performance to see where you have opportunities to improve.  If you do not look at how you are shooting, it will be challenging for you to get better at the pace you would like. Sometimes you need to take a close look at things.

See you out on the range soon!

Steve

Suggestive Shooting…

It was not too long ago I was offered an opportunity to open a new facility with my current company.  The plan is for a largest facility in our network, with state of the art automation, and industry leading processing.  This new location was 45 miles further than my current drive so my prized pickup truck which gets 13.9 miles per gallon would have to be parked in favor of something with better fuel economy.  After doing some searching I landed on a Toyota Camry XSE which is a little sporty but would realize 33 MPG on the highway.  It was at this point in time when I did not recall seeing many Camrys out on the road.  After I made my purchase, I was driving down I 75 in Atlanta and I saw one.. two.. ten.. twenty Camrys in a 10 mile stretch of interstate.  Were they not there before or did I not notice them?  I think the answer is they were always there but the power of suggestion unconsciously made me aware to look for similar Camrys on the interstate.

 

Last night I concluded a training session with a new student.  This student is a fellow Grand Master in Rimfire Rifle Open (RFRO) and Pistol Caliber Carbine Open (PCCO).  After doing some analysis of his match scores and times we setup Outer Limits to gain the most improvement.  I shared with him at the beginning of the session everyone has a “Shooting Tendency” and we would find out what his was, identify it, embrace it, and make improvements.  Being a top tier shooter his Shooting Tendency was a little bit more difficult to figure out, but through observation and discussion he was able to put into words what I was seeing.  On the first plate all of his shots were within a 1” circle 2/3rds up the plate.  After the first stage worth of shooting I had him put a round on the far plate dead center.  I did this because sometimes people would sight their guns in at 10 yards not realizing the bullet was still climbing.  As he fired the test round it was a bullseye on plate #2.

 

My next observation was he was missing the back right plate (the 18” x 24”).  After watching his shots several were just off the left side at 9 O’Clock.  His Shooting Tendency is he was not pulling the trigger when he needed to.  It was a slight delay from when his eyes saw the dot on the plate to when this message went to his brain, to when the brain sent a message to his trigger finger to pull the trigger.  It was very interesting to watch in person.

 

The interesting part of the training session was when I told him I would shoot the stage and it was an exercise of knowing where your Targeted Edge Dial was and when to turn it.  My first string was at my 85% at 3.55 seconds.  I then told him I would turn my dial to shoot a 3.25-3.3.  Sure enough, I shot a 3.27 but something interesting happened.  I missed the back right plate in the same exact location he had.  Right off the plate at 9 O’Clock. I told him I was going to name this, maybe after him, but I wanted to write this up for some time, so here I am.  I then loaded my next magazine and said I would back my dial back to a 3.50 second run.  This next string was 3.58 seconds and you would not believe it; I missed the back right plate in the same exact spot.  I would wager a paycheck you could cover his misses and my two misses with a quarter.

This phenomenon is Suggestive Shooting.  We consciously tell ourselves not to do something and our subconscious overrides our actions while shooting.  Some other examples of this are:

  • I always don’t shoot well if I start on Smoke and Hope.
  • I won’t shoot well if I don’t practice once a month.
  • I won’t shoot well at a larger match because I have not shot a major match in 3 months.
  • Hey Steve, why do you shoot pendulum that way, aren’t you afraid of missing plate #3? No, because I have not missed plate #3 in a year.  Then I proceed to miss plate #3 in the next Three out of Five strings.
  • I will shoot well if I only shoot one gun per session.
  • You have a squad that is not shooting well at a major match after a long break due to COVID 19 and you tell yourself to shoot your match and then you go to the shooters box and lose your fundamentals of shooting on the first string.
  • Etc

 

Have you ever had a conversation with someone and they told you not to say something or a word and at a later point you say it anyway.  Then you are dumbfounded you said what you were not supposed to say?  You work hard at consciously telling yourself not to do something and your subscious does it anyway.  There is not a magic pill that I have found.  It is something you have to be aware of and find strategies to mitigate Suggestive Shooting.

 

See you out on the range soon!

Steve

Sometimes I don’t think things all the way through…

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!

Steve

Steel Challenge Stage: Showdown

Steel Challenge is the drag race of the shooting sports focusing on the delicate balance between speed and accuracy.  In order to place well, you have to shoot all eight stages well or your competition will.  In order to be proficient on all stages I am starting a stage breakdown series focusing on some tips and helpful hints on how to maximize your performance in your next match.

 

Let’s start by examining The Steel Challenge Stage Showdown, arguably one of the fastest stages in all of Steel Challenge with tight transitions from plate to plate. With this stage you have to shoot (3) of your strings from one box and (2) strings from the other box.  It does not matter which box you start in, unlike Outer Limits, or the string order you shoot in from box to box.  Most competitors shoot (2) or (3) strings from one box and then head to the other box to shoot the remaining (2) or (3) strings of fire.  If a competitor desired to do so, they could alternate boxes on every string although there is not an advantage of doing so.  For the purposes of our discussion we number the plates from left to right, while standing in the left box, and we don’t include the STOP plate in counting the number of plates.

 

So, what is the fastest order for this stage?   The most popular and accepted option while shooting from the left box as we are looking down range and is shot 1-2-3-4-Stop Plate.  When moving to the right box the order is reversed; 4-3-2-1-Stop Plate.  This pattern does not differ for most with the type of division being shot; when shooting any gun from the low ready or from the holster the order is the same.

 

Here are some tips to be successful on this stage:

Tip #1: I prefer to have my index setup on Plate #4 when shooting from the low ready in the left box.  When I head to the right box, my index is towards Plate #1.  This allows my body to wind up on my first shot and when I transition the gun fast, the height of the gun does not change.

 

Tip#2: For those who are starting at the low ready, take a few ‘sight picture’ repetitions to the first plate to make sure when you move the gun up the dot or front sight is on the middle of the target.  This allows you to get the gun up fast and get a solid first shot.

 

Tip#3: This should be a fast first shot, but as with any stage you want to make sure you don’t take your eye off your sight(s) until you break the shot.  The first plate is the largest style of plates in Steel Challenge being an 18” X 24”, but at 25 yards you can’t take this target for granted.

 

Tip#4: If the stage is setup properly, the targets should be all in alignment on a horizontal axis; you should be able to make all five shots without moving the gun up and down.  If the stage happens to not be setup straight across, I break the targets into arrays.  Plate 1 and Plate 2 are the first array, and then Plate 4 and Plate 3 are an array and finally the stop plate.  This allows me to shoot the back plate and then front plate fast and then I reposition to the next back plate as I would on my first shot and shoot the other front plate fast.

 

Tip#5: Follow through on the stop plate.  The concept of follow through when shooting in steel challenge on a stop plate means as you drive the gun hard to the stop plate, stop the gun on the stop plate as you are pressing the trigger. I advise students to count “One Mississippi” with the gun on the plate.  This helps reinforce the concept of “calling shots”.

 

Tip #6: When you are given the “Make Ready” command, bring one magazine to the table/barrel you plan to shoot your last string to.  This allows you to do all magazine changes besides one from one location.  Less you have to carry/forget from the last shooting position.
Tip #7: As most Steel Challenge shooters engage targets from left to right, practice your transitions from right to left.  This will pay dividends when shooting from the right box.

 

 

Showdown

Keeps these tips in mind the next time you step into the box in practice or in a match and watch your times fall!  Stay tuned for more analysis of the other Steel Challenge Stages.

 

See you out on the range soon!
Steve

Steel Challenge Stage: Accelerator

Accel 2

 

Steel Challenge is the drag race of the shooting sports focusing on the delicate balance between speed and accuracy.  In order to place well, you have to shoot all eight stages well or your competition will.  In order to be proficient on all stages I am starting a stage breakdown series focusing on some tips and helpful hints on how to maximize your performance in your next match.

 

Let’s start by examining The Steel Challenge Stage Accelerator, one of the most interesting stages with all three target sizes and all three types of shots in Steel Challenge as the newest stage added to the 8 stage venue.  There have been many trials conducted by the fastest shooters in the country to determine which is the ‘fastest’ target order and the majority of competitors shoot it in the 1-2-4-3-STOP plate order.  For the purposes of our discussion we number the plates from left to right and we don’t include the STOP plate in counting the number of plates.   This pattern does not differ with the type of division being shot; when I shoot any gun from the low ready or from the holster the order is the same.

accelerator

Accel

Here are some tips to be successful on this stage:

 

Tip #1: I prefer to have my index setup on plate #3 which is the plate missed the most by competitors.  A way to test this is to hold both hands out in front of you as if you were holding a handgun and you should be pointed naturally at plate#3.  The reason why this is important is as you are swinging fast you want your natural point of aim at the most difficult target on the stage and your likelihood of hitting the plate goes up exponential even if your shooting fundamentals breakdown during the string of fire.

 

Tip#2: Make sure you get your hit on the first plate.  This may seem basic, but on this stage Plate#1 is deceptively difficult and if you miss this first plate your string times will go up significantly. The reason many prefer to start on the 10” target on the first shot is you have to draw to the target which takes time and the incremental time getting a sight picture on a small target is negligible compared to re-adjusting your sight focus mid string.

 

Tip#3: Plate #2 is one, if not the fastest plates to shoot in all of steel challenge.  You want to make sure you are accelerating through the plate, but have a good index on the plate to ensure a solid hit.  I still recommend a sight picture on the plate, but depending on your skill level/index, it can be point shot.

 

Tip#4: Keep the gun level through all of the targets.  This stage is shot quickly with left to right and then right to left motions, there should little to no up to down movement.  After training shooters from all over the country, a lot of shooters have the same shooting tendency and when they attempt shooting fast, they “dip” or lower the gun.

 

Tip#5: Make sure you see the sights/red dot on every shot including the hard pivot on Plate #4.  Although Plate#2 and Plate #4 are both 18” X 24”, Plate #4 is visually near half the size of Plate #2 because it is twice the distance away from you.  What sight picture works on Plate #2 does not work on Plate #4.

 

Tip#6: Do not take plate #3 for granted, it is a 12” plate but its at 20 yards.  As shared in Tip#1, this is the plate most missed by competitors in Steel Challenge.  Take a brief pause on this plate to make sure you have an adequate sight picture, get your hit and accelerate to the Stop Plate.

 

Tip#7: Follow through on the stop plate.  The concept of follow through when shooting in steel challenge on a stop plate means as you drive the gun hard to the stop plate, stop the gun on the stop plate as you are pressing the trigger. I advise students to count “One Mississippi” with the gun on the plate.  This helps reinforce the concept of “calling shots”.

 

Let me know if you have any questions!

See you out on the range soon!

Steve

What is your super power?

 

MR

When I was 7 years old I remember hanging out with my brother and friends and a frequent topic would come up; if you had a super power what would it be and why?  My friend Zack would say he would be superman and we would have to correct him, it’s a power and not all the powers of the character.  He would then follow up with the ability to fly because who would not want to fly?!  My brother always said x-ray vision and as a young man we questioned his intentions. When it was my turn I always said I wanted super strength.  In looking back at my childhood I think this was a function of my place in the hierarchy being the youngest in the family.  After all, when you are seven years old it would be awesome to beat up on any bullies or bad guys!

 

This past weekend, several of us from the Steel Target Paint Shooting team visited Dead Zero Shooting Shooting Park in Spencer Tennessee.   It was a great trip and worth the time and miles to shoot my first match in two months.  I love squadding with my teammates, but I also love squadding with people I have never shot with before.  Our squad ended up being a great mix of experienced shooters and some new to the sport.  There was a new shooter on our squad shooting an AR style Rimfire gun, which was running pretty well, but had one malfunction.  After watching him shoot there was possibly one or two things going on.  As I watched him shoot our second stage of Pendulum, I could see the end of the muzzle moving around a good bit.  I let him shoot and then when he came off the line I complimented him on his shooting.  I asked what type of gun he had and asked about the trigger pull.  The gun was a little bit heavier with a steel AR style barrel and a factory pull weight in the 5 to 6 pound range.  I shared with him I noticed the gun moving a bit and why I asked.  His dad said that he was thinking about getting into a 10/22 platform.  I told him there was nothing wrong with what they were shooting and offered options of the JP .22 upper to lighten the front end as well as a trigger to lighten the pull weight.  After some discussion about the options I offered the junior shooter to shoot the rest of the match with my Magnum Research Switchbolt .22 and I provided a box of ELEY Force to feed it.  We talked through a couple of safety measures with a lighter gun with a lighter trigger pull and we were off to loading magazines!

 

As we shot the next stage, I walked to the line with him to walk through the functionality of the Vortex Razor red dot, how to function the TANDEMKROSS extended magazine release and another reminder of the trigger pull of the Powder River Precision trigger.  As the timer went off, he went to work going one for one.  I then shared with him it was OK to push the gun because it was light, fast and accurate.  He then threw down a blazing run.  I turned and looked at his dad who was holding the camera and I told him I was sorry.  He said for what.  I said, “You saw that run didn’t you?” and his son turned around with the biggest grin I have seen on any shooter in a very long time.  I then told his dad I just cost him some money!  His dad smiled and he said “yes you did”.  As a newer shooter, he was on cloud 9!  It was arguably one of the best shooting experiences I have had at the range.  We stayed around and we demo’d some guns and shared stories.

 

As my good friend Mike Baker says, “Take a kid shooting”.  And let them experience the sport which we all love.  That is our Super Power.  What is yours?

 

See you out on the range soon!

Steve

Rimfire Rifle Open Build:

Magnum Research Switchbolt with red Carbon Fiber wrapped barrel

Steve Foster Shooting Compensator

Powder River Precision Trigger

Tandemkross Krosspins

Tandemkross Fireswitch extended magazine release

Tandemkross Titanium Twister takedown knob

Blackhawk Axiom Stock with cheek riser

Cencal Cerakote magazine extensions

Vortex Razor 6 MOA red dot

Fueled by ELEY Force

Hidden tricks of the craft…

I wish I had $1 for every time I learned something new and it left me saying “I wish I knew that a lot sooner.”  Here is a recent story you might enjoy.

 

A friend of mine recently purchased a JP Rifles GMR 15 PCC and he absolutely loves it.  I received a strange text from him asking if I have ever had any feeding problems with my gun.  I shared with him I had a batch of bullets which did not case gauge and they did not go into battery.  He said that he was having issues with his gun feeding and he case gauges all of his ammunition.  I told him with a blowback operated gun like this you need to make sure you clean it from time to time, more so than other guns because despite using the best ammunition, with the best powder, they can get pretty dirty pretty darn quick.  I told him to clean the chamber out really well to make sure carbon and other debris was not artificially narrowing the chamber of the gun.  Below is an actual picture of his gun.

IMG_0511

 

I then shared with him a trick that was passed on from others on how to get the bore of the rifle clean with very little effort.  Most people use some sort of a ‘boresnake’ to clean the chamber and barrel, which is fine for a quick cleaning pass, but not for this type of job.  I asked him if he had a cordless drill and a cleaning rod with the appropriate caliber brush.  I told him to be careful, but if he used a brass brush he would clean out the bore quickly and it would not harm the chamber.  A picture of his setup is below.

60814666286__B28F7522-76B0-4F3B-B9C8-11C6C2992669

 

After a few minutes of cleaning, the end result is this:

 

IMG_0512

 

A few days went by and I asked for a range report.  He said that he went from having several failures in a ranges session to just one malfunction for his entire practice.  Although this is a significant improvement by a good cleaning, this is a JP and it should just run.  After some further inquiry and partnership with JP they suggested changing magazines and shooting factory Glock mags.  After making the switch, the gun has not had a malfunction since.

 

There are a few lessons in troubleshooting in this article, but I wanted to share the chamber cleaning method.  Now, hopefully you are saying “I wish I knew that a lot sooner.”  Remember, do your part and share with others!

See you out on the range soon!

Steve

Complexity is the enemy…

Growing up in the business world I often hear people talk about the ‘KISS’ principle which most people interpret as ‘Keep It Simple Stupid’.   The origins of this principle can be traced back to the US Navy some sixty years ago.  As a new leader in supply chain, I have made my mission to make the most complex things simple because if they are simple, people can understand them, and therefore they can execute what needs to be done.  In listening to Tony Robbins recently on a podcast while interviewing Sara Blakely he said “Complexity is the enemy of execution.”  It was not a new statement or concept, but I had not heard it summarized in this fashion before.  However, it did re-emphasize a point I have made recently with some people I have been working with; you need to focus on the basics.

 

There are several blog posts focusing on the basics or as we commonly refer to them as fundamentals of shooting.  I won’t belabor this article with these basics, but I do want to reinforce a point.  When you are looking to make enhancements or if you are troubleshooting, only change one thing at a time.  This is a novel concept I learned in my 9th grade chemistry class.  If you change more than one thing at a time  you will not know if it was one change that made the difference, the second thing or the combination of both changes.  Change one thing at a time and take the complexity out of the troubleshooting equation.  This goes for gear you are using to methods of shooting.  If you want to try new ammo, try new ammo.  Do not try new ammo, new magazines, with your new Tandemkross Victory Trigger all at once.  One at a time.  Oh, and if things are working well, maybe spend more time on your shooting method and leave the gear alone.  You know who you are.
As someone who takes the shooting sports serious, you may be looking to get better.  I know I do.  Every time I go to the range I have a purpose, a goal I want to get out of the session and I write it down.  Last night I went to the range to work on my handgun shooting.  The issue I have been facing is I have a tendency to take my eye off the dot/front sight as I start to pull the trigger.  My eyes are cutting to the next target before the cartridge has been struck by the firing pin.  I started my training session with going one for one on the place rack – 8” plates at 11 yards.  I kept my eyes right where they should be and I started off just over 2 seconds and by the 5th string I was just under 2 seconds from the low-ready.  As I transitioned to Roundabout my method focus paid off with a first string of 1.90 and last three strings in the 1.6s.  Focusing on one thing can really pay off while you are training.  Too much complexity muddies the performance waters.

 

See you out on the range soon!

Steve

I can’t even tell you how many times…

I can’t even tell you how many times I have been up to the firing line and the only thought going through my head is “don’t screw this up”.  Afterall, if I shoot this last stage or this last string well, I have put the pressure on the others to come and take it from me.  This is something I have battled with throughout my shooting career.  In the last 12 months I have made it a point to just have fun!  When I am having fun, the work I have put in at the range has showed through.  It seems effortless.

 

At the 2020 Georgia State Steel Challenge Championship, the only major match we have shot this year, I was shooting very well.  I shot a personal best time in PCCO of 62.77 and I was having a great time.  There was one stage I did not shoot as well as I would have liked and it happened to be the very first stage Five to Go.  Not sure what exactly happened on the very first string, but I had a malfunction.  I had over 5k rounds of new ammunition in my new gun and when I looked down after the timer went off the gun was slightly out of battery.  In hindsight I believe I did not slingshot the sidecharging handle so the bolt was slightly out of battery.  At this point, I knew I had to shoot the next four strings of the stage clean.  As I got ready for the ‘ready’ command.. all I could start thinking about is I had to go “one for one”.  Just as the buzzer went off I knew that I was consciously thinking about not missing instead of clearing my mind to let me subconscious take over.  And, you know what happened?? I had to make up a shot on plate #2 because I took my eye off the dot on the plate as I pulled the trigger.  Needless to say, I shot two more strings at 80% of my Edge and I had one last string with a makeup.  Keep in mind the top 3 classified PCC shooters in the country were at this match battling it out.  I was 1.5seconds behind my par time walking off the first stage.

 

The good part about this experience is I recognized what was happening I corrected it for the rest of the match.  The next seven stages were solid and right where I have been shooting them, which lead to a first place win in PCC and secured the Title of Rifle Master.  As I reflect upon this performance the previous paragraph really stands out to me.  When I have had a tough time at matches in the past, it is because I would carry misses or pickups with me and what I have learned through my shooting career is you cannot be consciously thinking about shooting if you want to shoot Steel Challenge well.  You have to let all of the thousands of rounds you have burned into your sub-conscious to take over.  Steel Challenge has a component of equipment, you need to run reliable gear and ammunition to shoot well.  There is a component of technique on how to shoot a stage, trigger control, sight picture, etc.  And the last component which is arguable the most important in reaching your potential as a shooter is the mental game.  You have to clear your mind while in the box and let your training take over in the subconscious.  I was working with a new shooter this past week and when I told her to make sure they see the sight on the target and go one for one, she shot amazing.  She surprised all of us including herself.  It was not long until the Jones Syndrome crept up on her.  Time for lesson #2!

 

There is not a magic pill.  There is not a coach who can make you do it.  It is up to you to work on your mental game.   Your mind has to be strong and you are the gate keeper.  Once you have had enough, you will find the switch in your mind to turn to ‘Game On” mode.  For most of us, the room is dark and it will take some fumbling around to find the switch.  But once you do, don’t forget to flip it on when you need it!

 

See you out on the range soon!

Steve

#TakeItToTheEdge