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

Hold my Beer.. I’m Jonesing for more…

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!

Steve

There are a lot of lessons in life which are tough…

There are a lot of lessons in life which are tough; winter was one of them.  While growing up in upstate New York the temperature was well into the 30s or below starting in November and ‘shorts’ weather would start in April when it was a balmy 45 degrees!  Needless to say, for a few months it was a winter wonderland.  The small ponds would freeze over and it was always fascinating seeing small woodland creatures inch out on the freshly made ice to make sure they would not fall in by taking the newly formed express path from one side of the pond to the other.

 

I remember back to 1983 with the November release of what has been a must watch movie during the holiday season, A Christmas Story.  During the movie there was a key scene where the main character ‘Flick’ was egg’d on by his so called friends to lick the flagpole.   Afterall, it is in the “How to be a Guy Handbook” you could never turn down a triple dog dare.  So, what did Flick do, anything we would have all done, he licked the flagpole.  You guessed it, his tongue became “thtuck” or commonly referred to as stuck to the flagpole.

 

Being six years old and my older brother was 7 turning 8 at the time, I had a great idea.  I was curious but not sure if what we had seen in the movie was in fact true.  In true ‘growing up’ fashion I issued the infamous triple dog dare challenge to my admirable older brother.  We did not have a flagpole around, but we did have a front porch with a suitable metal door.  I was not a savage so I went in and got some water to clean off a suitable spot on the door because safety was paramount, even before the likes of the coronavirus.  After a lot of hesitation and coaxing, my brother actually licked the door with the tip of his tongue.  I was in complete amazement, his tongue seemed to be in fact stuck to the door.  I of course was inside, because it was cold outside.  I asked my brother if he was okay and all I could hear was “itttssss thtuck’.  I asked again what he said and he said “IITTTTSSSS THTUCKKK”.  I was determined to hear what he said so I decided to open the door, mind you the door opened outside.  I heard a bump and as I opened the door I saw my brother fall into a snow pile by the sidewalk leading to the front door.  He started screaming.. I asked what was wrong and he said look at the door.  I could not believe what I was seeing.  My brother left a small piece of his tongue on the front door and I thought it was so cool.  I had to take out my pocket knife and scrape some off the door to take it inside to look at it under my new microscope I just received for Christmas.

 

As with this experience, there are a lot of experiences which are tough to learn.  Four years ago I approached ELEY to partner as a Rimfire sponsor and they took a wait and see approach.  As the team captain of the Steel Target Paint Shooting Team I completely understand why.  There are a lot of people who get into the sport for a year or two and they are gone. I took me over a year and a half to land my first contract with the world’s best Rimfire Ammunition manufacturer.  It was tough, but well worth the time and effort I put in.  They have mold Olympic gold medals than all of the Rimfire ammunition manufacturers combined.  Their famous for their accuracy, reliability, and overall performance.  I know when I am competing I don’t have to worry if my guns will cycle, I don’t have to worry about if they will go bang when I pull the trigger, nor do I have to worry about the accuracy.

 

With such a great lineage and documented performance, the ammunition does come at a premium until now.  Through the partnership with ELEY I am able to offer ELEY Force (high velocity) and ELEY Contact (standard velocity) for an amazing value at SteveFosterShootingSports.com.  The mission of this website is to bring a value to the shooting community where all competitors can shoot the Rimfire ammunition the best in the world use.  Let’s face it, while some manufactures are ramping up throughput they are sacrificing quality.  You spend a lot of time, money, and effort to be the best competitor you can be.

 

Don’t be like Flick or like my brother, don’t learn a tough lesson at the range, head to SteveFosterShootingSports.com to get your Rimfire Ammunition!

 

See you out on the range soon!

Steve

SF ELEY

The Targeted Edge..

Over the past few years you have heard me talk a lot about the “Edge”.  As a refresher, the “Edge” is 100% of your Shooting Capability.  When you shoot faster and push yourself beyond your capability is when you go over ‘the Edge’. When shooting over the “Edge” your level of accuracy declines because you can’t ‘see what you need to see’ and you start to miss.  Effectively, what this means is you are no longer getting the proper sight picture when you pull the trigger.   A common example for those who shoot Steel Challenge or other repetitive events such as USPSA classifiers, is when you pull the trigger, the gun is not where you expect it to be and you miss.  There is no doubt in my mind you should always see your front sight or dot on every single target on every single stage!

 

As with any speed shooting, there is a very fine line between shooting on the “Edge” and going over the “Edge.” It is easy to push your limits too far and start to miss your intended target.  It is no secret, to score well in speed shooting you have to go “one-for-one”.  This means one shot and one hit for every target. There is a time when you want to shoot over “the edge”; but it is critical to know when to do this. Championships are won simply by knowing when or when not to push past the “Edge” on any given stage.

 

Let’s talk strategy and introduce some new terminology.  When I step up to the firing line during a match or training session, I shoot the first string at 85% of my Edge for that particular division and stage.  Going forward let’s call this Targeted Edge of 85% or TE85 for short.  This means I need to understand where my Edge is for every division and every stage.  A great place to start is to look up your classification on scsa.org and look at the desired division and stage.  For the purpose of this example I will use a division of PCCO and the Steel Challenge stage Accelerator.  My classification time on this stage is 7.87 seconds with an average string time of 1.97 seconds (rounded) which was set on August 15, 2019.  When training and shooting a match, I use the 1.97 as a TE100 or Targeted Edge of 100% of my capability.  What does this mean when I get up to the line to shoot string #1?  My strategy is to shoot a TE85 which is 1.97 * (1+(1-.85) = 2.26 seconds. This allows me to feel comfortable on that stage and know I can go “one for one” and not miss at TE85. On my next string I will Dial it up because I know that I can shoot TE85 on this stage all day long

 

The Dial I mention is the Target Edge Dial where consciously I move between 85% of my Edge to 99% and back to 75% when needed.  To continue the above example, when I shoot a TE85 of 2.26 seconds then I have a decision to make.  Do I play it safe or turn up the Dial?  I turn up the Dial 100% of the time after shooting a TE85 successfully.  I then usually go to TE95 which would land me at a time of 2.07.  If this ‘felt’ in control I would turn the Dial up to TE100 and see if string #3 would land me a time of 1.97.  If this felt in control, my Edge may have shifted based on my training regimen and then I would shoot for a TE110 and see if I could land a 1.77 second string.  At this point, if I connect one-for-one on string #4, I keep the dial at TE110 or TE115 and take a 1.77.  My four best times are 1.77+1.77+1.97+2.07 = 7.58 total stage time and set a new personal best.

 

What gets a lot of us shooters in trouble with scoring well is thinking the TE110 of 1.77, in my example above, is the new TE85 time.  With this misperception, if we start string #1 or #2 at TE110 and miss, we have to make up a shot.  Now, we have the pressure of Dialing things back to a true TE85 and the next strings will be below a TE100. So the total time now will be at least 8.5-9 seconds even if everything is shot clean.

 

As we train, we have to identify what our Edge is on a stage and know when and how to Dial our string times accordingly to score well.  Remember a TE135 string of 1.68 is not repeatable for four strings.  Trust me, I have tried it… over and over.. and over again.  Being a smarter shooter will lead to consistency and your times will fall lower than you ever thought they would be!

 

See you out on the range soon!

Steve

Erosion…

What is seemingly unnoticeable in the moment can leave a lasting impact for years to come.  When I was younger a close friend of mine had a small house on the shore of Lake Ontario in a small town outside of where I grew up.  This camp was approximately 1200 square feet with two bedrooms with enough amenities to enjoy the picturesque sunsets the lake had to offer.  The house was perched on top of a small cliff with an approximately 20 ft drop to the rocky shore.  During the summer nights there is no other place on earth one would want to be, the sounds and visualize stimulation was calming to the most restless days.

 

One day I noticed a small landscape flag in the ground.  I asked what the flag was for and their father told me he was measuring the progression of the erosion of the bank.  At the time, I did not know what erosion was or what it meant.  He then went on to explain the bank was being forced into the water by Mother Nature and soil was being deposited down the shoreline.  In the ten years they had owned the property the edge of the cliff had regressed by 20’.   As I neared the edge of the grass you could see a few different colored flags from the past at various depths below my feet.  It was interesting over the course of a few days the change was not even noticeable.  Even over the course of a month or two the naked eye could not discern any change in the ground. But by having a benchmark with a simple little flag you could see the movement over the course of time.

 

Neighbors up and down the shoreline had frequent discussions about what they could do.  Some banded together to put up expensive stone walls to prevent the earth between their home sites and the lake from fleeting down the cliff.  It was interesting to see that not all neighbors made the investment into their property.  The end result was it slowed the erosion down momentarily, but the soil escaped the side of the walls of their property.  I am not sure how much of a unified front it would have taken, but the actions of a few was not nearly enough.

 

In the next five years the dangerous cliff consumed their house and they were left  standing on the shore feeling helpless and they asked themselves how it could come to this.

 

I share this story because this is what we all have to protect ourselves from, erosion of the Second Amendment.  Just because a minor regulation may seem unnoticeable to you doesn’t mean it is eroding the ground your house is built on.  At first people will say “what is the big deal” and this is exactly what the people on the shoreline said.. until their house too ended up in the lake.

 

Ask yourself what you can do.  At a minimum, help educate those around you who say “what is the big deal”.  If we do not stand united, we will fall.