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Mojo Hand's training diary

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Saturday, July 13th 2019


I did two things:


1. Spectated and then guest-starred in some USPSA shooting

2. Ran the five Steel Challenge stages completely unsupervised... 


Both types of shooting were immediately humbling.  I wound up spectating the local 'super squad' at my home range (Extreme Tactics and Training Solutions) in Waxahachi TX, and was in awe of the local GMs' shooting ability.  Everyone was more than friendly and were inquisitive about my interest in USPSA and shooting sports in general.  After spectating a stage and a classifier, Scott, one of the local GM's, invited me to shoot a stage with them.  It was at this moment I realized that all of my gear is wrong.  I don't have the right belt, the right holster, and my mag pouches are probably not ideal.  This is what happens when you get pulled in by the marketing hype of YouTube range ninjas and wind up buying a bunch of tactical gear that doesn't translate well to competition.  The next big purchase will be a Double-Alpha belt, a USPSA approved holster and a Ben Stoeger hanger; all black.


I still feel good about the Gen 5 Glock 34, which I have set up to rapidly transition between Production, Limited Minor, and Action Steel events just by switching out a few components.  


So everyone runs the stage and I'm last to go.  I get up to the starting position and make ready, whereupon I fail to properly seat my extended magazine and then watch in horror as it comes flying out of my magwell as I go to holster my gun.  I'm off to a great start.  The RO chuckles and I'm on the receiving end of some much deserved chiding.  Whatever else happens, though, I'm not going let it affect my headgame.  The stage is pretty straightforward, but it's my first time running a course of fire outside of Steel Challenge.  The targets are arrayed symmetrically in front of me.  I must first run to my left and engage three targets, and then shift rapidly just to the right and engage a far target and a close target.  I then should run over to the right side and do it all over again.  After engaging targets on the left and right side, I then run down a corridor and shoot two targets on the left and right side before coming to the end of the corridor and, again in a perfectly  symmetrical arrangement, shoot two steel poppers and partially obscured targets behind barrels.  Perfect. Got it. 


I hear the starting beep and bolt to the left.  Six shots on three targets and I'm off to a good start.  I then run past the two targets I'm supposed to engage next.  


Wow.  Hold back the tears, now. Run over the right side, shoot the five targets over there and then double back.  This I do, and put it out of my head.  I surprise myself by how fast I transition between the left / right side targets in the corridor, and wrap up the stage cleanly.  Time is 35.8 seconds, which is still 15 seconds slower than the GMs' times.  How do they do it? 


I stun everyone by not being ludicrously dangerous, and apparently my shooting isn't complete s#!t.  Someone is already taping the cardboard before I can even return to reality, though, and I don't get a chance to see how I would have done point wise.  No loss, though, because I'm shaking from the adrenaline.  The pump from running the stage is rewarding enough.  Sold for life.  


It surprises me that I can hardly remember anything from running the stage though.  It's like they say in all the training books: a stupendous blur wherein conscious thought fades to nothing and only action exists.  Clearly, I have not reached the state of either focus or awareness that Brian Enos speaks of in his book.  There might have been some focus - SHOOT THE TARGETS - but I cannot for the life of me recall or evaluate all the nuanced stuff.  Someone recorded me, so at least I have some reference material to view.  Was my grip too loose? Too tight? Were my joints locked? Were my sights tracking up and down and not all over the place? It's all a mystery to me.  I hope the lack of mental clarity gives way to greater awareness in time. 


I don't know if the video will embed properly, but here's the unedited account: 


<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/EgCE-FTCIl0" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe>


Steel Challenge brought out a lot of other problems with my shooting.  Five to Go shows me that my marksmanship is not as good as I think it is.  I cannot consistently hit the 3" plate at 18 yards.  Worse yet, I'm having trouble either seeing or hearing my hits.  In one case, another shooter has to tell me that I've hit a plate two or three times.  I'm also transitioning away from plates I haven't hit yet: Ugh.  My times (per string) are all over the place, though.  5.5 seconds. Then 8.8.  Then 11.75.  Maybe one at 4.1 here and there.  My most consistent stages I'm able to maintain times between 5.5 and 7.5 seconds.  All the time I'm aware that two seconds is an eternity in speed shooting.   The coup de grace for the whole affair though is that I show up to the last stage - Smoke and Hope - and some plinkers, unaware that these stages are set up for competition, have moved the targets backward from their customary positions.  I sigh a long sigh.  Better make the best of it.  


Through some practice, though, I'm able to bring my time on Smoke and Hope down to 4.40 to 5.25 seconds per string even with the non-standard steel placement.  People on YouTube are smoking this stage at 2 seconds per string.  I weep internally.  


All said and done, today was intensely humbling.  I'm humbled by the talent and ability that's out there, and the time people spend to attain mastery in the various shooting sports.  Better yet, though, I can see a place for myself in this world, and I can't wait to get better. 






Edited by Mojo_Hand_052

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You're obviously not too proud to show us a video of you shooting a stage as a new competitor.   Good for you!  We were all there once.  Keep it up and enjoy!

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