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Old guy, new to USPSA. Need advice or tips


Warpspasm
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I'm 68 yrs old and I've been shooting local club steel challenge type matches for about 10 years. I think I'm pretty proficient, especially for my age. I really want to get more involved with shooting USPSA matches. I've only shot one so far and had a blast, even though I was pretty darn slow. Here's one of the main problems I'm having and I am hoping to find some tips or advice to work with.  I don't know if it's my age, but I have a tough time remembering the layout once that timer goes off. While I'm waiting to shoot I try to analyze the stage, but when the timer starts....... I would really like to hear how you more experienced USPSA shooter handle remembering the stage.

 

Thanks!

Edited by Warpspasm
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The timer is designed to wipe out your short term memory, so that's normal😀.  I'm also 68, but have been shooting USPSA/IDPA for 17 years.  It takes practice to plan stages. Watch some of the more experienced shooters.  Ask other shooters, most will gladly help you out.  Use the walk thru time to repeat the course over and over.   Some people say shooting a higher capacity gun helps.  

 

Hope this helps...

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Keep your plan simple making sure all targets are accounted for. It's easier to shoot and move without stopping or hesitating if you are confidant with your plan. As you shoot more matches you will be able to improve your stage planning to save a little time here and there. 

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If you can't close your eyes and shoot the stage in your head from memory, you are not ready to shoot the stage yet.  You have to run it in your mind as many times as it takes.  Obviously the harder the stage, the more reps it will take.  You have to memorize the shooting order of the targets, where you will shoot each target and from what position, along with mag changes etc.. 

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37 minutes ago, RangerTrace said:

If you can't close your eyes and shoot the stage in your head from memory, you are not ready to shoot the stage yet.  You have to run it in your mind as many times as it takes.  Obviously the harder the stage, the more reps it will take.  You have to memorize the shooting order of the targets, where you will shoot each target and from what position, along with mag changes etc.. 

Very true!

 

You might want to break the stage down into 3-4 sections. This usually make it easier to memorize the stage. 

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It comes with doing it—a lot. 

 

I will spend more time focusing on the more difficult portions of stages than I do just going over the whole thing over and over, if that makes sense. 

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try to pick out a couple of precise spots down the course of fire that are good to post at for shooting various target arrays, and the target count per spot.  so when you get to spot #1, which is beside the red shotgun shell, you know there will be 4 targets to shoot.  then spot #2 is at the fault line with a crack in it and there are 5 targets.  that's a little easier to memorize than the precise location of each target.  of course you prob won't be as fast as if you did memorize the exact stage layout, but that can come with more time doing this.

 

another thing is to memorize just the 'out of the way' targets or those easy to miss or blow by.  most of the targets you can shoot them when/as you see them so if you only have limited memory space, just memorize the 'exceptions.'  

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I just remember the 3-5 spots on the ground I have to go. I start with where I'm required to start. So normally position 1 is easy. Then you have to decide.... I shoot Prod normally so I look at things in groups of 8 to 10 shots. Usually movement and reloads are concurrent. I try to move in one direction and forward as much as possible. Most stages seem to be either some sort of T, L, Z or rectangle/square shape.

 

If you just remember the 4 spots you have to land on the ground then don't clutter your mind with anything else. I suspect you're forgetting things because you're trying to add too much. (run here, stop here, gun up, grip, tough target, sights, this target first, watch out, run here, reload, this target, this target, and so on. That is obviously too much.) Squad walk through you find your 3-5 spots. You look at target presentations but you nail down your spots. So your self talk starts with reconfirming spots. Then as you continue to walk through stop thinking about your spots and let that happen naturally. Then start looking at target presentations and thinking more about your engagement of each array.

 

In the hole, relax and make sure you're all set. On deck your eyes are closed and you only see yourself doing what you can do perfectly from your own point of view. Then when it's your turn and the buzzer goes off you don't think. You just do. No conscious thought. As Bruce Lee said, thinking is the enemy of perfection.

Edited by rowdyb
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I am 66 and feel your pain. That is why the timer is called the Neuralizer. Cause it wipes out short term memory.

 

Not sure where you are from, but here in the Houston metro area we have many different USPSA matches to choose from. Some have stages that are very easy to plan and better for beginners, but still fun and others that are large & complete memory type stages (similar to LVL2 or 3) and can be very frustrating to newer shooters. So if you can try to pick the more beginner friendly matches so you don't get frustrated. Then as you advance & get more confident go to the more difficult matches.

 

I have been shooting USPSA for awhile, but when I first started,  being right handed I liked to start as much as I can from left to right so all reloads are comfortable & downrange. Next I think of the stage as being linear or in a line from start to finish. Sometimes slower, but very seldom do you miss a target. As I got more confident with simple stage plans & where to reload then I began to plan the stage more based on speed and scoring. It will come to you with time & matches. Remember KISS (keep it simple stupid).

 

Good luck & have fun.

 

gerritm

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I call the timer the great mind eraser.  But as a couple people pointed out, after you plan your stage, you have to burn it into your memory. Can’t stress that enough! Walk it over and over and visualize everything.  You need to be able to close your eyes and visualize shooting the stage, knowing exactly where the targets are, what type of target, and what array is next.   Do one final mental run through after make ready. 

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OLD guy long time shooter. I feel like most people start out trying to shoot beyond their limits at the time. A new shooter is rarely going to keep up with people that have been shooting for  a while. Take the stage at your speed, time does not matter you are not going to win the Lamborghini, LOL.  Watch other shooters and see how they proceed but do not let the excitement make you step out of your zone. Sometimes I do better by walking the stage out then stepping back and just going over and over and over in my mind as I look at the stage.slow and steady as the old saying goes will help keep you where you have planned your stage. I take supplements for mental help also.

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as others have said close your eyes and shoot the stage i also try not to watch whoever is shooting right before me so if they shoot the stage differently i don't have that on my mind. i do watch everyone and how they shot just not whoever shoots right before me.

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There are varying degrees of difficulty with remembering the COF.

 

One of our local clubs is a real bear - seems like they LOVE "memory

COF's" - had one a decade ago, that I never figured it out, and I spent

an hour on it the day before I shot it.  That was my first year of

shooting OPEN.

 

Others are really easy . especially if there are no or few sight barricades,

or my one time to the Nat'ls, they used orange fencing material, so you

could see all the targets from everywhere.  That was very easy to keep

track of where everyting was.

 

But, as everyone above said, when you're first starting out - everything

is more difficult and becomes easier with practice.

 

Good luck with it - you'll get it in time    :) 

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I was squaded with Mike S and our former president.  Nice guys.  They had a little 'chart' they used to summarize each stage.  It was one way they committed the stage to memory.  I have seen the match books of GMs, they are all marked up with lines, symbols, and notes. They perform Due Diligence.

 

I have seen the Super Squad at Nationals more than a few times.

 

They all PRACTICE MENTAL VISUALIZATION. They know each shooting spot, how many targets and rounds, rounds consumed at each spot.  They know their first target and last target in each position.

 

It is a practice thing!!!  It is innate to them because they have done it each and every time they perform.  It takes patience and discipline.

 

Just few quickies:

  • Do not change your plan when you step up. 
  • Do not chit chat with anyone while on deck.
  • The pace you shoot will be determine how and when you seen the targets.
  • Move your ass between shooting areas--I have seen better shooters out of breath at the end of a corse.
  • Books: Mike Seeklander, BE, and Lanny Bassham.

I do not know if it was BE or TGO that said "it is one shot 32 times." 

 

I am 68 and have great friends in the community.  It is a great place.

 

 

 

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When I decided to shoot USPSA at 67 I took the advice of experienced shooters and started in Limited.  You have fewer mag changes, so stage planning is easier.  You are also scored major, so that is a plus.  Their advice to me was go slow and be accurate.  Speed will come later.  It was good advice.

 

Like others here, I pick spots.  It is much easier than trying to memorize the location of each target.  I'm 72 now, and I can tell you that is much easier for me, even on memory stages.  I started out with shoot these, run to there and shoot what you see, etc.  Now I still pick sports, but remember how many targets at each stop.  So run to spot one, engage two targets on the right and two on the left.  Run to 2, engage 5 targets.  Run to 3.  Engage the activator, then a popper, then the swinger.

 

It also pays to squad with GMs and Ms.  Watch how they approach the stage.  You will learn a lot. 

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On 5/9/2020 at 7:43 AM, Hi-Power Jack said:

There are varying degrees of difficulty with remembering the COF.

 

One of our local clubs is a real bear - seems like they LOVE "memory

COF's" - had one a decade ago, that I never figured it out, and I spent

an hour on it the day before I shot it.  That was my first year of

shooting OPEN.

 

Others are really easy . especially if there are no or few sight barricades,

or my one time to the Nat'ls, they used orange fencing material, so you

could see all the targets from everywhere.  That was very easy to keep

track of where everyting was.

 

But, as everyone above said, when you're first starting out - everything

is more difficult and becomes easier with practice.

 

Good luck with it - you'll get it in time    :) 

An hour of stage planning?  Whoever thinks that's cool should never be allowed near stage design.

 

I know what you mean, I hate memory stages too. They have no place in the sport in my opinion. I come to shoot, not test math and memory skills.

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5 hours ago, zzt said:

When I decided to shoot USPSA at 67 I took the advice of experienced shooters and started in Limited.  You have fewer mag changes, so stage planning is easier.  You are also scored major, so that is a plus.  Their advice to me was go slow and be accurate.  Speed will come later.  It was good advice.

 

Why are you scored Major in Limited? I thought only caliber, weight and FPS determined that.

 

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You are scored major in limited only if you are shooting 40sw at 165 PF and above.  While it is possible to shoot minor in Limited, you are at a significant scoring disadvantage unless you are accurate and very fast.

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5 minutes ago, zzt said:

You are scored major in limited only if you are shooting 40sw at 165 PF and above.  While it is possible to shoot minor in Limited, you are at a significant scoring disadvantage unless you are accurate and very fast.

Ahhhhh.... Actually, I do plan to shoot limited, but I have a 9mm, so I guess I'm stuck shooting minor then. That kind of stinks.

 

 

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1 hour ago, Warpspasm said:

 I plan to shoot limited, minor. That kind of stinks.

 

I shot Limited Minor for my first year.

 

I really enjoyed it, and improved - those were my two objectives.

 

So, I was successful with both my objectives.

 

It's not a huge problem - if you feel you want to shoot Limited

Major - all you have to do is buy a .40 caliber pistol, and you're

all set.  

 

Not worth it ?  Then stay with the 9mm and enjoy the heck out

of it.    :) 

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15 hours ago, Warpspasm said:

Ahhhhh.... Actually, I do plan to shoot limited, but I have a 9mm, so I guess I'm stuck shooting minor then. That kind of stinks.

 

So shoot 9mm.  No matter what gun you shoot, you still have to learn the game and the rules.  That is going to take some time.  I'll repeat the advice I was given when I started.  "Go slow and be accurate.  Speed will come later".  It was good advice.  If you go gang busters right away you will likely make mistakes and get DQ'd.

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I'm 3 years into USPSA at 51. No quite where you are at age wise, but I'm a bit of an older guy learning the game. It's true the mind is not a flexible as it gets older. Having said that, old or young, what I see is a severe lack of stage prep in comparison to what the pros/instructors recommend. 

 

I was at a small match this past weekend. Drove a way to get to it as it's been a while due to all the covid stuff and I needed a match. Mostly B and C shooters in carry optics, limited, and open. Most of them walked the stages one, maybe two times and seemed to call it good. The motivated maybe a couple more.  I'm only an A....  but I'm trying. Drove almost 2 hours to the match. Got there at least 45 min early and walked stages until shooter meeting and again at walk through until the first shooter was called. Ran it in my head several times during all that. I had probably run each stage at least 15x (mentally) before I shot. 

 

Some stages are harder than others and it does get easier the more you do it. I still screw 'em up on occasion no matter how much effort I give. I've just accepted that the timer isn't a "brain scrambler" unless I was never ready in the first place. 

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