That will probably never happen again

I participated in the USPSA match at Marysville today. It was raining as I left home and was still raining as I arrived nearly an hour later. I had checked the weather forecast the night before and it said it would stop raining by 9:00 AM. I had not brought a rain coat. But I hadn’t checked the forecast before I left either. I checked again. The rain was to stop by 9:15. At 9:15 it was still raining..The forecast now said the rain was to stop by 9:45.

The rain tapered to a slight mist by 10:00 and I avoided spending a miserable match in wet clothes. And to my surprise only 36 people showed up for the match. It has been a long time since there were fewer than 100 people have been at the matches I have attended there. I suspect it was the rain that kept most of the people away or perhaps there was a major match someplace that drew them away.

I had practiced some last week but I was very slow compared to what I had been a couple months ago. I just couldn’t consistently get good hits when I would try to shoot fast. I stayed slow for the match. I would rather do poorly because I shot slowly than do poorly because I had tons of misses. A miss is an unforced error.

I still had three misses for the match. One was just barely a miss outside of an A-Zone covered by hard cover on both sides via a highly angled shot taken from a narrow port. Okay, that error is almost forgivable. The other two of those were overlooked steel targets that were some sort of mental block that affected about 25% of our squad.

I think I was the first one to do it and the range officer smirked at my error. The targets were wide open, directly in front of me, as I finished shooting. Later on, I was his R.O. and he did the same exact same thing!

The picture above and the two below are the same stage. It is a run and gun stage. You run down the path, shooting targets on both sides, make a right turn, continue shooting on both sides and then shoot bunch of targets at the very end of the path. For an old guy I can start, run, and stop pretty good. And if I can get close to the targets I can shoot A’s at about 3/4 of my top speed. This was my type of stage. This gave me the Limited Division stage win.


There were 20 targets, 40 rounds minimum, in this stage.

The stage above was the most difficult. On the extreme left there is a vertical sliding panel you open by pulling a rope down with two targets behind it. On the extreme right is a spring loaded door with two targets behind it. In between are a complex setting of steel and paper targets scattered among many obstacles. You must shoot all the targets without going forward of the yellow fault line. As you move from side to side just a foot or two a multitude of targets appear and disappear. It is extremely easy to overlook a target or think you haven’t shot a target and waste time shooting a target more times than needed. I saw one target that had been shot six times by someone when only two shots were required. I saw many, many shooters think they were done and had left one or more targets untouched. Looking at the stage results I see some shooters had four, six, eight, and even 14 misses on this stage. It took me almost 53 seconds to complete this stage but I did it without misses and with good hits (27 As, one B, and five Cs). This put me ahead of some people (in other divisions) who shot it in less than half my time. This also gave me a Limited Division stage win.

This is the stage where the mental block occurred. In the distance there are three steel targets that when fallen reveal a smaller steel target behind them. The act of falling takes time. So I, and many others, shot the big targets first, and continued on to a bunch of other targets behind the barricade to the distant left. We then came back to shoot the moving target just to the right of the steel targets. This mover was activated by one of the steel targets. We shot the moving target and declared ourselves finished without shooting all the small steel targets. I think the mental block was because of the moving target distracting us plus we had already mentally cleared the area when we dropped the big steel targets. I had a decent time but the misses dropped me to fifth out of nine Limited Division shooters.

This was a hallway we entered through the door and then shot targets through windows on either side of the hallway and through two windows at the end of the hallway. See the picture below for a look down the hall.

I thought I did pretty good on the stage until I heard my time. It took me almost 22 seconds for the 32 shots. The Limited Division stage winner did it in under 19 seconds with better hits than me.

This stage is where I had my other miss. Behind the green obstacles in the center is a target similar to the one just visible to the right of the obstacles. I shot it from the diagonal slot in the barricade on the right. I didn’t quite (probably about 1/16th of an inch short) break the black area of the target to claim an A-zone hit. The Texas star on the distant right can be challenging. I saw one shooter (with an Open Class gun!) take close to ten shots to drop the last plate as it swung back and forth through a 180+ degree arc. I managed to knock down all 15 pieces of steel in this stage with one shot each. This saved me one reload and although it seemed slow to me, 40.93 seconds for 37 shots, I completed the stage 3.6 seconds ahead of the next fastest shooter in my division. Even with the miss this gave me the stage win in Limited Division!

This was the classier stage, The Roscoe Rattle. There are two strings to this stage. The first string is to turn, draw, and put six rounds into the center target. The next string is to turn, draw, put six rounds into the left most target, reload, and put six rounds into the right most target. Speed is very important on this stage. There is no problem solving with opportunities to do reloads while you are moving between shooting positions. There is no running. There are no complex shots where I can take advantage of my height to lean around barricades or shoot over obstacles. You just have to shoot fast and not hit the no shoot targets. I sped up my shooting from the previous stages but not nearly enough to make up for the dropped A-zone hits. I had 8 As, 9 Cs, and one D hit in a total of 12.87 seconds. According to the USPSA this is a low C class result (45.9136%, where C class is 40% to 59.9%). But it was good enough for a distant second place Limited Division finish for the stage.

I didn’t didn’t have any clues about how I was doing at the match except for my squad. I knew I was doing okay in my squad but I also knew there were two other squads which had Limited Division shooters. I knew my shooting was below what I knew I could do if I had been practicing more. I left the match feeling sort of blah. Not bad. I hadn’t screwed up too badly. And I knew did fairly good on a couple of the stages. But I had no idea I had won three of the stages. I have never, ever, won even one stage at a Marysville match. I attribute the wins to the poor match turn out.

It turns out, that in addition to winning three stages, I won my division by a good margin! I have not even fantasized about winning my division at this club and this will probably never happen again.


9 thoughts on “That will probably never happen again

  1. Congratulations! Well done! You have to play to win, and you chose to face the elements and play when many others appear to have been afraid they were going to melt if they got wet. Enjoy your victory…

  2. Well done! It’s been a wet spring here in SOKY and all matches attendance at our club are down. I wouldn’t have shot the steel match except I was the MD.

    • Have you ever bumped into my son-in-law, John Vlieger? My daughter and he live near Lexington.

      • Joe,
        I know who he is but I don’t shoot USPSA very often.
        Club steel matches, IDPA and a tactical rifle match when I can.

        • When he was in Alaska I knew he at least occasionally shot steel matches. I thought maybe he might be shooting them locally still.

          No big deal.

          • Joe,
            Our steel matches are low key. Our club runs things more to get new shooters involved in the sport than a very competitive matches that some clubs shoot. I hate to say some of the bigger draws don’t want novice class shooters there because it slow things down to much for their taste. Our club went the other way. To each there own I guess.

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