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Skill like a GM; Confidence like a B-Class


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So this is one of the primary reasons I joined the forums was to put down the thoughts, training, and lessons learned here so others can learn from my mistakes. 

 

Quick Background: I have been shooting for over 35 years but I only discovered and got involved in Practical Pistol shooting 8 years ago and only really became a "try-hard" 3 years ago. I have solid fundamentals and a keen grasp on pistol shooting mechanics. I have never been an athlete or participated in organized sports. I was a band geek from 7th grade through undergrad. SO, I can shoot damned well and move a bit like a wounded and beached whale. 

 

I made A-Class in late 2017 and only made M-class in December of 2019. Just about a year ago. I am legitimately on the cusp of making a GM classification though I don't compete at a GM level, yet. Only recently (The last 3 months or so) have I really figured out that much of what is holding me back is ME. Lanny Basham and by extension, Steve Anderson talk about the self-image and how much it matters. I can actually attest to that. It seems much like self-affirmation/warm and fuzzy/gobilty-gook. I know that but I can also tell you it's true. I don't subscribe to the Basham system but he makes a good point regarding how much self-image (not the same as self esteem) effects outcome.

 

Stated Goals for 2021: Make GM in Carry Optics; Learn to Shoot like a GM at matches (this will be defined by major match performance and my ability to finish at 90% or better in the division consistently); finish top 25 at 2021 USPSA Nationals in Carry Optics. Do all of this with a stock G17. 

 

I will be training some skills and you may hear some similar things to what CClassForLife said regarding going fast, and observing where control is lost and what I need to do to get control there. 

 

All of that being said much of the diary to follow you will see me reference much of what is happening in my mind as I fight my modesty, fear, and my very own ego to learn how to go fast and be awesome at shooting.

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Historical lesson learned (tl;dr at the end):

 

In late February 2017 I took two classes with Ben Stoeger (and Kita). I took his larger more general class then immediately followed-up with his smaller more focused class. I shot 3,600+ rounds in 4 days. My body was sore, my hands were raw, and I had discovered somethings about my skills that I didn't know. I also picked up a poor self-image about a particular thing.

 

I was a typical shoot slow but get all As sort of B-class shooter. I had come from a precision/bullseye shooting background. This class showed me I can move/shoot much faster and get good hits. I spent the rest of the class pushing speed. I went from shooting like a B-class turtle to an A-class speedster. 

 

I was rewarded every time i pushed speed except in one instance. Reloading. I had been shooting Production (this is right along the same time I discovered Carry Optics but it was still a provisional 10 round division). My reloads had been, up to this point, okay. Not fast by any measure but at my turtle pace I never really worked hard on them. Stoeger said something to me that I let get in my head and defined my ability to reload for the next 2.5 years (and frankly my doubt around reloads still rears it's ugly head once in a while). "You're reloads are more f--cked than a football-bat." -B. Stoeger c.2017 That statement got into my head and defined my ability to reload. I always doubted my ability to reload. I didn't practice them because I had it in my head that they are all messed up and I couldn't do them and my ego wasn't willing to let me fail, even in practice.

 

Fortunately a circumstance put me in a place to realize that one person's statement wasn't the definition to my ability. I was like a man possessed and I started reloading marathons and just went with it. I learned where my eyes needed to be. I learned the good angle for the magwell. I learned that my hand can get to that next mag pretty dang fast. After almost a month of this I realized, "Damn! I can reload and pretty damned well too!" It was in that moment my self-image around reloading changed for the better. 

 

Now, this isn't bad mouthing Stoeger or his class. I just let a causal statement define me. Silly as it sounds in hind-sight that is what happened. I will say that class redefined my shooting for the better and built self confidence. It solved some simple issues I was having for large gains. I rode those lessons from 63% all the way to 83%. 

 

tl;dr: I let the statement of an expert define me and my ego got in the way of me overcoming that. I got over it eventually and improved. Also, take classes sooner rather than later as they help TONS on getting better, faster. 

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14 hours ago, rowdyb said:

See you soon!

 

I should be at the next APSC match

 

11 hours ago, shred said:

Whatever you've been doing for the past several months is working.  It can take a while for all the pieces to fall into place, but it's great once they do.

 

 

Yeah, I'm starting to see that. I'm getting better at self-diagnosis and it's helping me see the smaller things that are adding up. I just need to get more consistent stringing those things together. 

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To your range diary, a sports psychologist I know told me the that confidence is the sum of our mental and physical preparation. So if you're not confident then something in your preparation is off, somewhere.

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11 minutes ago, rowdyb said:

To your range diary, a sports psychologist I know told me the that confidence is the sum of our mental and physical preparation. So if you're not confident then something in your preparation is off, somewhere.

 

tl;dr at the end

 

I think that I have the appropriate level of preparation. My issue is that I fight the notion that I am not capable of what I have already done. Thoughts like, "yeah I ran that drill in X.XX seconds 3 times but a 'real shooter' can do it faster and 5 times in a row." So, when I have to perform that skill I doubt myself and go conservative. I have this notion that my skill is non-existent and I'm not at the level I purport to be. It's similar to the idea of imposter syndrome. If I do well at at match my brain goes to places like, "Well Persons A and B were having an off day and I got lucky on 5 of the 6 stages. I didn't actually do well. I just got lucky." 

 

Self-doubt is a recurring theme in my development as a shooter. The self-doubt leads to a fear of failure so I shoot well below my ability in both practice and in matches. It was compounded when I started to improve (despite my issues of self-doubt) and other shooters "expected" a certain performance from me. I would get frustrated when I wouldn't perform and I would just stop shooting the match so I had some sort of "out" regarding my performance. It all became compounding stress/anxiety. That is part of the reason I stalled out in A-class for two years. 

 

I still fight that even today. At Nats day 2 was rough from that perspective. I tanked a bunch of high point stages (Zone 3) and I had to control my urge to quit shooting. I'm very glad I didn't. That angry rage-quitter inside me is getting easier to suppress but he's very much still there. 

I have learned that trying to suppress my frustration with a poor stage doesn't help. The whole "just let it go" concept doesn't work. However, if I take a few minutes to be upset about my performance I can then move on to the next stage and adjust my focus there. If I try to suppress it, as is often suggested, I stay upset and I can't focus or worse, I try to "make up for the last stage," which never works. 

Not enough people talk about what happens during the internal monologue of shooting. For me I am turning that around. I practice tons. I feel comfortable when other shooters worry about aspects of stages but that self-doubt creeps in sometimes. I'll hear, "Oh man, no one can shoot that activator sequence in that order. It's too fast." Meanwhile I was planning on shooting it in "that order" and suddenly I doubt my ability to do it. I have been getting better about that and sometimes I verbalize it which comes off as cocky to some I guess. "Hell yes that activator sequence can be shot in that order. Super easy. All the time in the world." When I hear myself say it, I know I can do it. Other shooters sometimes look at me funny when I say stuff like that.

 

tl;dr: Negative self-talk has real consequences to self-image and sometimes success can actually lead to more negative self talk. Focus on the good to help alter the self-image.

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The difference between hoping and knowing. 

 

I have been shooting a long time and there have been times that while shooting mentally I felt totally in control. I had complete confidence in where the next shot was going, or where in my swing I was going to pull the trigger and see that clay bird turn to powder. 

 

There have been other times where I knew what I was doing was mechanically correct but I was unsure. The poor shots that followed reenforced the concept that I didn't know where the next shot was going or if that bird was gonna break. When I felt like that I missed often and felt my mind shift to unease. 

 

A few things I have learned along the way that have taught me how to spot that feeling before it was an issue and how to stop it. Unfamiliarity with the gun is 80% the root of this. That doesn't necessarily mean something you've never shot. Hell, it could be the same gun you've shot for years but you swapped triggers, got new sights, changed your load, or whatever. Now the tool in hour hand has an unknown quantity. You are unsure. It's untested in your mind. If this is the case, test it, run it, dryfire it, etc... Whatever you need to do and prove to yourself the equipment is solid and you can run it however it is that you need to. 80% of the time: that will solve it. You are no longer hoping it works or hoping you know how to run it. You KNOW you can run it, you KNOW it works. 

 

The other 20% of the time I refer to the issue as the "spelling dilemma." Have you ever looked at a work you have spelled for years and suddenly question if you are spelling it correctly? Have you ever punched in someone's phone number that you have dialeda million times and it looks wrong? The same thing can happen in shooting. Nothing in your equipment has changed but now something is off. Your draw isn't right, the comb never feels right when it hits your cheek, it feels wild in recoil but you are shooting the same loads you always do, etc. When that happens you have focused far too hard on something you already know how to do correctly without conscious thought, and your conscious mind is trying to intervene. This can be quite frustrating but there is a simple way to help this: relax and focus on something else. This may mean focus on looking for a clean sight picture for a while and ignore that your draw "feels funny." It may mean you need to go play Call of Duty for a bit and come back to it. You need to do whatever you must to get your brain out of that space that is over-analyzing. 

 

I bring this up because I have experienced both this week. I am waiting on my G17 slide to be returned from the optics cut and in the meantime I have been practicing with my iron-sighted G17. I ran into the equipment issue as I have relatively newly installed adjustable sights that I don't quite trust. I had to spend time on the range not only getting the gun sighted-in but I needed to shoot it a bunch to convince myself that it wasn't going to move out of adjustment. After a few hundred rounds I was no longer hoping the sights would stay true, I knew they would.

 

The other hase been my reloads. The G17 frame is identical to the G34 frame that I have been shooting for years. Somehow, in my mind, reloads didn't feel right. I started missing reloads and having a difficult time even grabbing mags from the belt. I know this was the latter. I was aware nothing was different but I found myself hoping I could seat the mags. I did what I knew I should, I focused on draws/index/transitions with the gun and stopped with the reloads. After a while I just tossed in a reload as part of the dryfire I was doing and slammed the mag home easily. I then continued in much the same way increasing the frequency I was reloading. I stuck them. No problem. I just needed to get out of my own head. I had to know it was good and go back to work. 

 

 

I am shooting a Pro-Am style falling steel match tomorrow. I will get footage of it and share it. I haven't competed in this particular match with iron sights in over 3 years. I am interested to see how I do. 

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Would it be fair to say that your "spelling dilemma" is because you have stepped out of your comfort zone this year? If you made gains this year then you clearly had a roadblock removed, but now you have reached another point of uncertainty that you haven't figured out how to overcome because you recently changed something from the way you always did it, and the differing ideas are clashing in your mind.

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57 minutes ago, TheChewycookie said:

Would it be fair to say that your "spelling dilemma" is because you have stepped out of your comfort zone this year? If you made gains this year then you clearly had a roadblock removed, but now you have reached another point of uncertainty that you haven't figured out how to overcome because you recently changed something from the way you always did it, and the differing ideas are clashing in your mind.

 

Honestly, no. This was a relatively small issue mostly related to, as Robert Wyatt is fond of saying, "getting too wound around the axle." I haven't been practicing reloads much since Nats except with a different gun. So going back to the platform had my brain a tad muddled. Add in newly installed iron sights and voila: My conscious mind doesn't trust in the skill that was already developed and I am "hoping" to hit what I'm aiming at and "hoping" I can seat the reload. It's just a blip on the road but it can be frustrating and confusing if you don't know that is what is happening. (Ask me how I know.... 🙃

 

I had something similar happen during the most intense training about a month out from Nats. I suddenly couldn't draw the gun right during a dryfire session. I realized what was happening. I took off my belt. Pulled the gun out of the holster and ran transition drills and shooting on the move for the rest of the session. I forgot about it and started my dryfire the next day with my normal warm-up drills. I was almost done with my warm-up drill when I realized I had zero issues drawing the gun. 

 

When I get my milled G17 upper on Monday the real training will start because I will be pushing for speed everywhere and watching the gun to see what it tells me. I suspect I will learn a whole new batch of lessons and be able to share some new revalations and/or support some others.

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Match video from action steel today special for the Enos Forums: Falling Steel For Enos Forums

General Notes: Irons are hard. I haven't been practicing them and it showed today. Also, it helps to check your sight in. My one big take away was that my grip isn't as stable as I would like. I kept seeing the front sight drift left or right (depending on the direction of the transition) in the rear sight notch. Locking out my shooting wrist more solved that issue and there was a drastic improvement in transition efficacy. 

Otherwise I left my feelings and notes in the video.

Here is the goofy fun version (shorter, music added, and without commentary): Fun (Short) Version

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Got my Gen5 G17 back from being milled. I'm having a hard time putting it down. I have been working on a ton on speeding up my transitions as well as speeding up my one-step reloads.

 

I started out working transitions without worrying about trigger presses. Seeing the dot move from point to point. I was pushing speed and shifting between freestyle/strong/weak as I did this. Regardless of grip/hand I noticed that I was slowing myself down by "floating" into the point of aim at the end. I focused on just stopping at the point of aim.

 

That ended up being a two step process. I started without the gun. I just shifted my focus from point of aim to point of aim. I would visualize the aiming order of the aim points. Then I would shift my vision to each as fast as I could. Once I felt comfortable with that I grabbed the gun and did the same order. I noticed the lag was partially related to me slowing my arms down. My head/eyes are well ahead of the gun. I noticed that I was "counter muscling" the gun to slow it down at that was the hesitation. So I used less force from my torso and found the transitions sped up and stopped right at my point of aim. That's a win.

 

Reload practice was just fun. It's a small difference but that magwell flare in the Gen5 is SOOO nice. Reloads came naturally and felt solid. Speed was good but I am pushing for more. Mostly related to getting the support hand to the mag and back up faster. 

 

I am so excited to practice with this gun and get it out to matches. I made the call and this reenforces it. I'm gonna make top 25 in CO with this G17 and I can't wait to make it happen. Super encouraged to put in the work. 

Edited by Reds_Dot
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Adventures in IDPA

 

I started out in practical shooting shooting IDPA. At the time it was still cover calls, no reloading in the open, and lots of tribal rules that didn't really adhere to the rule book. 

 

I got into it pretty heavily. I even went to IDPA Nationals in 2016. I was in good contention to get a top 3 spot for SSP EX. Except I caved to the mental pressure I mentioned that had plaugued me and I tanked the whole match. Both days. Like a rock star. After that the rule changes came with fault lines and 1 point = 1 second penaties etc. 

 

Without going into the details I drifted away from IDPA and only occasionally shot local matches to hang out with my friends. I began to get much more heavily involved with USPSA and 2017 was the beginning of me taking it seriously and becoming a try-hard. 

 

This year for fun I went and shot the 2020 Gulf Coast IDPA Championship. I certainly expected to win my division (CO SS). I was sandbagging for sure but what I didn't expect to do was win the whole damned thing. However, that's exactly what I did. I enjoyed the match (regardless of the match outcome) and it was nice. Since then I thought it would be fun to go to IDPA Nats and sandbag in CO as an EX. 

 

So I realized there are some IDPA-specific techniques that I needed to work on. Reloads woth retention, slide lock reloads, hard leans, etc... I worked on some IDPA related techniques and tested some theories this last week for an IDPA match this weekend.

 

While working on reloads with retention I tested a few things. Testing them for time versus slide-lock or emergency reloads. I found I was about 1/2 second faster with the slide lock reloads which isn't surprising but having a time reference point is useful. This was flat footed and under ideal circumstances. So under match conditions it will be a bit different but I have a decent reference point to start looking at circumstances of time trade-offs.

 

I shot the local IDPA match yesterday. I determined two things: 1) I need to work more on reloads with retention cuz I mucked them up more often than getting them right. 2) If I spend time working on those skills and focus on IDPA it will stunt my progress in USPSA. There are a handful of mental orders of operation and a few physical techniques that I would have to change in order to succeed. I don't want to do that. So, I will be shelving my desire to go sandbag in IDPA for another year. 

 

I had a blast at the match and I will certainly keep shooting the occasional IDPA match with the primary purpose of hanging out and enjoying time with friends.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Momma I'm goin' fast....

Well this last weekend I shot a local "Hosefest" USPSA match. Versus most hosefests which are lame stand and shoot 40-50 rounds per stage NOT legal matches. These were all legal USPSA stages and we had USPSA divisions. It was a real match. The only stage design caveats were that all the targets would be wide open, no no-shoots, no hardcover, no steel smaller than a full sized popper at minimum safe distance. It was fun.

 

I also got to dive into the whole concept of going as fast as I could at a match (See Cclass4lyfe's theory on that). I managed to get 4 mikes and 11 deltas on the day but I can tell you where all of them happened and why. That was the point. Shoot fast and accept the mikes but understand why they happened. I shot the second fastest match time at the match second only to our local GM Open shooter. Shooting as fast as I can I start too more clearly see where I am randomly giving up time on transitions and not shooting on the move. It also pointed out a fundamental reloading error that I hadn't noticed that I do while moving. Oddly I don't do this during dryfire but do during a stage. I am also still fighting the "doubtful draw" and the "hesitant entry" when it comes to engaging targets quickly. Those things are legit costing me time. I will be looking at those three things that for my next livefire session. 

A couple weeks prior to this last match I spent part of a day training with Cclass4lyfe and learning to better understand the concepts behind "going/seeing fast". I understood what the method was intended to do and what I needed to do to get through it. Honestly, 6 months ago I wasn't ready to hear that stuff. It's oddly satisfying for me because I typically battle a "speed demon" on my shoulder during a match or even livefire practice. With this method I listen to the speed demon. I think it will help keep it at bay for majors. Oddly enough I found that my hits were no where near as bad as I expected them to be. Sure I had a TON of charlies as well but at the speed I was going that is good and realistically fixable going forward with no change to my speed.

 

I look forward to my next livefire session. I will be pushing speed with the intent of seeing/understanding what is happening then working to correct it. Deltas and Mikes aren't failures. They are signs of places to grow and improve. They are little gems of learning that I can refine.

 

Here is a very short (Less than 60 seconds) video of the match for what few stages I remembered to have someone video my run: TGC USPSA Holiday Hosefest 2020

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Falling Steel.... with a new approach. 

 

So while I have been pushing speed in my dryfire and really understanding what that is I saw a HUGE opportunity to work on speeding up my transitions while forcing me to see/break/call a good shot and hustle to the next target. Falling steel. Totally unforgiving on a miss but totally rewarding with good shot calling and "seeing faster".

 

This weeks dryfire has been focused on reducing the transition times as much as possible and still hesitating long enough for a stable'ish sight picture to call a clean shot. I started out with a challenge to myself: from a surrender draw shoot 9 targets (standard start position and array size in Falling Steel locally) in less than three seconds. 

 

This took three pieces to make it work:

 

1) I had to have a solid draw to first shot. This may seem trivial. However, for me I have this odd mental block I am slowly breaking where I hesitate to take the first shot off the draw. I'm not really over-confirming as most say and I didn't have a bad draw. There is just some part of my brain that is convinced that I can't actually draw and shoot that fast and I hesitate. It's a dumb problem to have but there you go. So I focused on fast draws to the first target and forced myself to pull the trigger and see where the hit would have been. It wasn't perfect to start but after a bit it cleaned up nicely. I changed targets many times to be assured that I had a better initial draw. 

 

2) Fast transitions with sight visable target aquisition. In plain English: See the targets ans aim fast with a trigger pull and confirm the dot was actually on the target. I found that detailed visualization of target order really allowed me to push transition speed. It wasn't me "looking for" my next target but "looking to" my next target. 

 

3) Putting it all together with a timer. So I popped the par to 3 seconds and ran a target variation. Once, twice, three times. Then picked a different set of targets and variations. Each time visualizing the target order before engaging the sequence. It went rather well. The first few attempts at this I couldn't quite beat the three second par. As I worked on it I focused where I could feel a slow-down. After a few attempts I beat the par. Then again. Then on another variation. I discovered an interesting thing. Until I added in more than two 90°+ transitions I could consistently beat the par. Each time I saw the sight settle I pulled the trigger then moved to the next target. 

 

I will be working of some moving reloads tomorrow to finish things out but I am looking forward to seeing how this weeks push for speed on small targets works out for the weekend.

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Fun weekend testing out my speed theory on steel and a bonus analysis of my 2020 USPSA Factory Nationals performance.

 

I shot the local falling steel match trying for my faster transitions as related to better mental programming where I was aiming and where I was looking to next. It worked well in some instances and I had misses in others. Oddly, I won't the match by a fair amount. The biggest attribute that helped me hold on to the lead was the fact that while I had misses, they were seen misses and generally (not always) quickly picked-up. This was far from my typical relatively error-free (or darn near) match but my net performance was about the same. Perhaps 5-10 total time slower given the make-up shots and extra reloads needed. Think this is lending itself to some validity that focusing more on the the stage visualization and looking to (not for) the next target nets some serious gains. I am much more happy about that than I am about the match win. 

Here is the falling steel match video: 12/12/2020 CCPC Falling Steel Match

 

I also finished my self-review of my performance at the USPSA Factory Nationals this year. I go over my mental state and what my thought processes were around stage planning. It's a long video (1hr 11mins) so it's only for true nerds that want to make fun of how I plan stages. 😄

 

Video here: 2020 USPSA Factory Nationals Match Review

 

 

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23 hours ago, Reds_Dot said:

Fun weekend testing out my speed theory on steel and a bonus analysis of my 2020 USPSA Factory Nationals performance.

 

I shot the local falling steel match trying for my faster transitions as related to better mental programming where I was aiming and where I was looking to next. It worked well in some instances and I had misses in others. Oddly, I won't the match by a fair amount. The biggest attribute that helped me hold on to the lead was the fact that while I had misses, they were seen misses and generally (not always) quickly picked-up. This was far from my typical relatively error-free (or darn near) match but my net performance was about the same. Perhaps 5-10 total time slower given the make-up shots and extra reloads needed. Think this is lending itself to some validity that focusing more on the the stage visualization and looking to (not for) the next target nets some serious gains. I am much more happy about that than I am about the match win. 

Here is the falling steel match video: 12/12/2020 CCPC Falling Steel Match

 

I also finished my self-review of my performance at the USPSA Factory Nationals this year. I go over my mental state and what my thought processes were around stage planning. It's a long video (1hr 11mins) so it's only for true nerds that want to make fun of how I plan stages. 😄

 

Video here: 2020 USPSA Factory Nationals Match Review

Excellent match video and commentary.

Person running the camera did a nice job.

 

 

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5 hours ago, dmshozer1 said:

Nice match video with great commentary,

Very nice camera work.

I have never liked pov videos. Great for the shooter, not so much for the viewer.

Honestly POV videos aren't very good for the shooter either. I know they are popular but aside from the FPS crowd they don't help self evaluation and they are indeed annoying to watch. 

 

I had a few different guys hold my phone to video the stages. Good guys. 

 

Hopefully you got something useful out of the crazy long commentary of the match. 

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