Yesterday morning, a well dressed man in business attire stopped me in the 5th floor lobby of the building I work in. He had a slightly apprehensive look, then just asked, “Didn’t I see you at the Wake County Range last Monday?” I laughed and answered, “Yes you did! I’ll be back there tonight.” It’s a small world. Our companies have suites on the same floor. He was at the match last night and thankfully he reintroduced himself because he looks quite different in a ball cap. We shot on different squads but I’m sure there will be future conversations. He did make me aware his co-workers aren’t really aware of his hobby, so I’ll have to tone down my enthusiasm for gun conversations in the building where we work. But, it really started my day on a high.
I shot the Wake County Action Pistol Match last night. From a performance perspective, it was probably hands down my worse match ever. A “mike” is a miss – as in “no holes in the target”. I had several. But I left with a smile and a feeling of contentment.
I started shooting because it was fun. I noticed along the way that at many matches, the competitors were friendly and chatty before the match. Conversations included:
- what new gear they’d bought, what gun they were shooting,
- how their day had been, how the family was,
- what they had been practicing, what their specific goals were for the match, etc.
But at the end of the match there were many disappointed, disgruntled, and humbled competitors. Not performing as they had hoped just took all the fun out of the experience. Then it was mutters and grumbles about about missed targets, dropped points, fumbled magazines, and malfunctions. Not a state of mind I want to get sucked into.
I always come in at the bottom of the pack, so that’s nothing new. But up till last night I’d always hit the stationary targets. Well, last night I even missed some of those! It was so bad I had to just shake my head and laugh. “Wow. No shit? I totally and completely missed the entire target! And it wasn’t even moving!” To top that off, I had two tightly grouped shots in the dead center … of a non-threat. That non-threat was covering the lower part of a threat target. Things had gone by in such a blur that I didn’t honestly remember if I’d aimed at the top part of the target (and slapped the trigger to drop the shot) or if I’d just aimed at the center of mass.
I could list a string of excuses but as I pondered what the heck had happened it came down to this: I wasn’t totally focused on the fundamentals. So I thought about what had distracted me:
- I’ve shot 3 matches in the last 10 days, including my first low light/no light match
- I have had less than the usual amount of sleep. I managed to fit a trip to Minnesota into those 10 days.
- I bought a Flip camera to record the matches. And I offered to film for a friend I made recently when looking for someone to carpool with to Oxford. The camera went dead after Stage 2. He & I shot back to back and I was more focused on passing the camera than thinking about the stage. Then it was :”Why did the @#$& camera stop working???”
- I shot a different gun combo in each match: 1911 in 9mm once, then the 1911 with a flashlight, followed by the XDS.
- I clearly was doing something different because my strong side forearm was seriously sore today. That hasn’t happened before.
I decided to just take all that into account and give myself a break. Bad guys do show up when you are tired. I carry the XDS so I need to shoot it. I want to learn skills for shooting in the dark. I really do want to capture some of this on video:it’s easier to explain to friends, family and co-workers what a match really is like. And I’m finally making friends so I do want to nurture those friendships.
OK, let me say that again: I’m finally making friends. That is huge. When you know you are going to spend 4+ hours around strangers and know you are not good at the one thing they care about, you arrive with a mix of apprehension and uncertainty. It is a very different experience knowing you will recognize faces, knowing it’s ok to ask “Can you film this for me?” and getting a smile and a hug when you arrive. Maybe that’s a girl thing, but it’s the reason I shot 3 matches in 10 days: I felt welcomed.
I shot poorly but I know I have work to do. That will never change. I was smiling because I had added a few more conversations to the foundation of a few friendships that I look forward to growing in the future. That made it an excellent evening!
Here are the two stages I got on video. My mom watches them… LOL. And blog posts are always better with pictures. This isn’t excellent shooting, but it’s safe shooting and you get to see what these matches are like: