One of the reasons I love practical shooting is that it tests so many shooting and gun handling skills. That and it’s pretty rare you shoot the same course of fire more than once. You have to work out a plan to test it under pressure and on the clock.
Some stages can expose a weakness in your game. There are no practice runs in this sport and you’re forced to battle through them in competition. The video in this post is a good example. It’s from last week’s USPSA Optic Nationals. Stage 16 is a 32 round course of fire with 10 paper targets requiring 2 hits each and 12 mini popper steel targets.
This stage may look wide open, but stepping inside the fault lines you begin to see the challenge. To engage the farthest targets you are forced to lean around a barricade. If by chance you go one for one on the targets, there’s the temptation to push the speed on the close steel or even take the shots on paper for granted. Finally, if things don’t go as well as you hope, there’s no hiding any misses on the steel. Without that ring of the steel, your confidence can plummet with ever shot.
The key is to respect each and every shot. Shoot only as fast as you can see and trust your sights on each target. Even if you miss you cannot not let frustration set in. Strive to finish with the same intensity AND focus. Here’s my run…
As you can see, this was not a great stage for me. I struggled letting the dot settle on the far steel targets. I was rough on the trigger and as a result took multiple shots from the first position. I even started to leave before my final steel was down. Knowing those valuable seconds were just ticking by it was tempting to try rush to finish, but as I moved into my second position I took the time to respect every shot. I let my RMR settle in the A zone before I engaged the trigger and as I moved into the final position, I didn’t try to push and make up time on the steel. I managed to salvage a stage that could have gone terribly wrong.
SHOOT Tip: No matter if you’re shooting a tough USPSA course of fire or plinking on the range, learn to respect your targets and take one shot at a time for the best results. It sounds simple but it’s an easy thing to take for granted when the shots matter.
Guns & Gear:
- Smith & Wesson Performance Center M&P CORE
- Trijicon RMR 06
- Federal Premium American Eagle 147gr. 9mm
- Safariland ELS rig with 5198, 771 & 773