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My first GSSF Match


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So I completed my first ever action shooting match at the Glock Shooting Sports Foundation (GSSF) event in Orlando, Florida on Saturday, February 9th and it seems like a great excuse to write something up so that others can learn from my experience.

In the way of providing some background, I’m a former law enforcement officer who has largely been out of shooting much of anything for the past 15 years. I recently took up the sport again and I am now a rookie action shooter. I’m going to be focusing on GSSF and USPSA/SCSA since that’s about all I can remember for rules right now. I shot thousands of rounds during my law enforcement years and used to be a reasonable enough shot. It turns out shooting is a perishable skill and I’ve lost most of my skill while keeping lots of undesirable muscle memory since I was trained to use a Weaver-style stance that I’m finding hard to unlearn.

I’ve only recently returned to shooting so I did not exactly cover myself in glory in Orlando. In fact, I did pretty awful even though I had a tremendous amount of fun at the event. The good news is that it will be hard not to improve when I participate in future GSSF events.

I decided to start with "Glock the Plates" and was doing just fine (which is my way saying I avoided abject humiliation and didn't leave any plates standing) for the first couple times and then the wheels came off. The executive summary is that after switching pistols to meet the requirements of some of the divisions I was shooting in, I suddenly became completely unable to hit absolutely anything. I went from dropping the plates without too much effort (granted you could time me with a sun dial) to going through 11 rounds and having plenty of plates staring me in the face. I could sort of faintly hear the voice of Gunny Ermey questioning my credibility as a human being and the ROs, God love them, were immensely patient with me.

I decided it was time to stop, drop, and roll. Something was profoundly wrong since I went from being passable to a complete failure as a human being and as a shooter. I figured it was about an 80 percent chance that it was my failings as a shooter and a 20 percent change it was a failure on my part where I did something deeply wrong to the poor pistol (how do you screw up a Glock?) getting it ready for the competition.

I finished my current course of fire and then slinked off to the area of the match where the Glock armorers were set up to help people. I told the nice Glock Armorer about my tanking performance and admitted that it was almost certainly a defective shooter rather than any pistol problem, but I just wanted a sanity check. He was a very nice fellow and inspected the pistol. It was just fine. He even fired some rounds from it to make sure it was ready to roll.

I told him I used to be a police officer and that I really hadn't shot for around 15 years. I also said that I was trained to shoot Weaver so not only did I lose most of my shooting ability, the muscle memory that I did keep is set up for a different stance that apparently no one used anymore. He told me he learned the same way back in the day through law enforcement work also since he used to be a police officer.

What was appreciated and unexpected is that he spent about 20 minutes after that teaching me a good action pistol stance, now to properly hold the pistol, and strategies on how to engage multiple competition targets. He said he was a competitive shooter who had just finished a competition on Costa Rica and I noted that his gear said "Hodges" on it.

I went back to "Glock the Plates" to shoot my remaining courses of fire and was doing better, but still not great. It's then when I figured out the first of my two main problems. I was freakin' shooting with the wrong eye. I'm left eye dominant and, for whatever reason, I switched over to shooting right eye after the first couple courses of fire. Shooting with the wrong eye means your sight picture is a mere fantasy and you aren't going to be hitting much of anything.

So coupled with shooting with my proper eye and all of the new instruction I just received (I finally know how to get up a proper shooting stance again), I was back on track knocking the plates down and still having rounds remaining. I did okay with Five to Glock and Glock M after that. Nothing spectacular, but I blended in with the crowd and avoided further public humiliation.

I had a great time at the event and learned quite a bit. The Central Florida Rifle and Pistol Club did a fantastic job running the event and all of the Range Officers were wonderfully patient with me. The guys at Glock the Plates were particularly nice in that they didn't laugh in my face even though I clearly deserved it and I wouldn’t have blamed them if they did.

So when I got back home, I decided to figure out who Mr. Hodges and did a bit of Google work to that end. It turns out I was rescued by Mr. Joel Hodges who is the Glock District Manager/Competitive Shooter/Super Hero posted here in Florida and is an overall great guy. (Joel: If you are reading this and you see someone watching one of your matches who has a giant Joel Hodges foam finger on one or both of his hands, it’s me. You rock.)

The bottom line is that my "Glock The Plates" performance (In Soviet Russia, the plates Glock you!) torpedoed my scores pretty badly. We're talking total clown show humiliation in quite a few of my entries, but I enjoyed the GSSF event immensely and can't wait to do another one.

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Welcome back into the shooting sports. There are any great number of folks in Florida that are capable and will be willing to help you improve. Go to matches, watch others breakdown stages and execute the shooting, to help yourself get back into the mental aspects. Un-learning the Weaver was tuff for some of us old LEO as that was THE way years ago. Now just enjoy the shooting and fellowship.

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  • 4 months later...

Most people like shooting the plates last for whatever reason. I shot them last because I tend to get quicker as I shoot the match and the plates is a great place for quickness.

Glad you made your way back to shooting and hope you stay a while and enjoy yourself.

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  • 3 months later...
  • 3 weeks later...

Cant imagine losing 15years of shooting :-(

Sadly, I can. I was out for about 20 years. Circumstances changed and it just didn't happen.

Three years ago I got back into the game and can echo, virtually without variation, Eric's account of his first match. After shooting the first magazine at the first bay of the first match, a kindly Range Officer from the "Panhandle Boys" asked me if "... this your first match, Captain ... " I said it was. His reply I will never forget. He said "You may want to slow down a little bit, you can't miss fast enough to win!". We both grinned and I told him lesson learned.

Since that first match in Conyers, I have shot about a dozen plus matches a year since. Actually did my first RO duty at one of the plate racks in Orlando and have worked as an RO at virtually every match since. Have been blessed to meet many new friends along the way and consider this the most enjoyable time I spend. Good folks sponsorring a good sport. You will do yourself a favor if you can find one of the matches and participate. I can almost assure you that you will not finish first and you will not finish last! Great times and good friends.

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