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My First Nationals questions


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I’ve been shooting uspsa for almost a year now and was able to get a seat at production nationals. This is my first major match and not really sure what to expect. It’s a bit pricey and I want to get the most out of it. I was reading some threads on here about what’s included at major matches (shirts, food, drinks, prizes). Should I go there the day before to walk stages and get ammo chronied.  It being nationals I know it’s a big deal but I have no idea what to expect. Thanks in advance for any help/guidance. 

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Each year its different but usually you get something at registration (mag sleeve, belt loop, sometimes a t-shirt).  They will more than likely have water (food is usually for purchase/RO staff only).   You're going to shoot three 1/2 days so you're not going to be on the range for more than 5ish hours, plan your meals/snacks accordingly.  

 

The typically have a banquet at the end where they'll do awards and prize table.  Last few years prize table was based on heads up finish/they call names and you go and walk the table.  Unless you're finishing top 10 don't expect a gun, top 20 might get you a couple hundred dollars worth of stuff.  After that its certs to random things, range bags, etc.    

 

I would at minimum get there early enough so you can walk your first day of stages (usually 6-7 stages)... after that you can walk the remaining stages the days you're there/after you shoot the first day.   The match book should be able to tell you what stages you start on/walk those.  If you're crunched for vacation, figure out what time the ranges closes the day before the match starts, get there a couple hours earlier so you can walk the stages.   Chono your ammo at home, I've never seen anyone be able to chrono it before the match and in reality you're kinda screwed anyways since your options are limited/factory ammo is non existent. 

 

Practice strong hand and weak hand shooting, 15-25yds, they typically have some kind of standards like this.  Stage diagrams will come out before the match so you can see what skills will be tested and then work on what you feel you're lacking.

 

I know this is going to be hard since you've never experienced a major match but at its core, its no different than a club match with the exception of all the nostalgia of it being "nationals" and they enforce all the rules (some clubs are really laxed on calling penalties, DQs, etc. I'm not sure what level shooter you are but if you get away with safety violations at club matches due to lazy ROing you will not at nationals). 

 

Nationals is probably going to be 18-22 stages over multiple days, to have a good overall match you need to shoot consistently over the 3 days.  Everyone at nationals has bad stage(s) or day(s).  The key is to minimize them, not try and hero everything.  Figure out a pace for shooting where you do 'well' on every single stage, push on your skill sets, but don't approach each stage with the expectation to got 110% because that is not sustainable for 3 days straight.  Don't get upset if you mess up a stage, throw a mike... unless you're doing it ALL the time it doesn't affect you as much as you think.  The mental stress will be worse than the points you actually lost.   

Edited by mikeg1005
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Definitely get there the day ahead to walk stages, in particular the stages you'll shoot day 1.  

You can also register and get all that stuff out of the way, including having to complete your equipment survey if you haven't already taken care of that. 

On day 1 of shooting all you need to concentrate on is shooting.  When you're done shooting day 1 you can walk stages again as there is some dead time between AM & PM squads. 

You don't chrono early, it'll will be worked into the match.  They'll get 8 rounds from you before your first stage on day 1 and put'em in a baggie with your info printed on it.  They likely work chrono in immediately after a stage.  It might be after you shoot stage 8 for instance. You'll shoot the stage, pick up your mags and go directly to chrono.  They'll have pulled & weighed a bullet already.  They'll take your gun & mag & check them, etc.  Then they'll pop off 3 of your rounds through the chrono.  If all is good you'll then go right back to your squad and reset/tape as normal.  (All that being said, they could make chrono it's stand alone stage where your whole squad goes to chrono all at once.  But, I'd bet it's as I describe above.)  

The match book will have info for you, including your squad matrix.

 

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some good stuff above, ill just a a couple things,

 

stages published before the match are nice look at them, what you are looking for are odd skills and round count, that's it no stage planning no reload planning nothing like that. Is there a weird start position is there a prone port do you need to do something out of the ordinary? if yes try it in practice a few times so its not new at the match, don't make it the focus of your training because weird starts won't help your over all score as much as general shooting skills will. 

 

I will add to the above rules enforcement discussion, you will want to be comfortable moving in all directions, there will be stages where you are retreating, going left, right, forwards, and backwards and being low cap probably reloading while doing it, practice this if you don't do much of it at your local matches. 

 

get there early enough to walk the next days stages, on those stages find all the targets and where you need to be to be able to shoot them all, don't worry about having perfect stage plans burned in more a general idea of what you need to do, all your trying to do is make your normal squad walk through easier. Do not pay much attention to the stages you will shoot other than tomorrows, you can not memorize 18 stages so don't try.

 

Have fun, really remember to have fun, you are not going to win the title, and not winning the title is not going to cost you your multi million dollar sponsorship deal. 

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All good stuff above. I will place a caveat on my feedback ... my last nationals was many, many moons ago but I suspect many of these things have remained the same.

 

To the suggestion of practicing the basics, I totally agree. Develop some drills that really drive home core stuff. Draws at 10, 15 and 20 yards. I'd work hardcover and no-shoots quite a bit. If they aren't there you'll be fine but if there's an abundance at the match you want it in your head that you're ready for that. Weakhand and Strong hand are paramount. Get as comfortable as you can with the basics. Target transitions, reloads, draws, SH, WH etc. etc. 

 

For stage planning there was a thread I saw earlier that talked about shooting a stage to what you can execute. This is as important at nationals as ever. As has been mentioned you'll be shooting 20+ stages so consistency will be far more important than burning down a single stage. To that end, to the extent that you can, get feedback from others on stage strategy but also know in your mind what you can do. If your execution level causes you to shoot a stage different then the masses then go that way. 

 

Go in with an emphasis on shooting A's. It's the right mentality for that level match. Start each stage thinking A's. You won't shoot all A's obviously but make that a goal. It'll help once again drive that consistency and remove the crash factor.

 

As has been mentioned realize that this is a local match on a big stage. That's it. These are just stages like you've shot this last year. Truthfully the only thing the stage changes is what's in your mind. So keep that in mind. Shoot each stage as a stage and let the results land where they do.

 

Also, IMO I'd put practicscore away and just shoot. Forget about "where you're at" or "who's beating who" ... it's a jedi mind trick. This is your first nationals - just go shoot a strong consistent match.

 

Finally be prepared to not let non-shooting stuff impact you. I always take handwarmers to big matches. Even in August. Have rain gear. Have a hydration plan and don't bank on water being there. For me I'd also have a couple of gatorades on hand for electrolytes. It can be a physical and mental drain as you try to treat this like any other match but your mind keeps thinking "this is nationals." So have a good hydration plan and have plenty of good carb snacks. I always have cliff bars in the bag. Have an umbrella, rain gear, long sleaves, short sleaves, shorts and pants. Have it all just in case. 

 

I was a teenager when I shot my first nationals and I remember it to this day. So awesome. Enjoy it! I made the foolish mistake of thinking "I have to be in the top 100" and that was just foolish. I would have been better to just shoot the match, learn, enjoy it for what it was, and take those experiences on to every nationals and area match I shot after. 

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Thanks guys for all the great insight. I’m currently a middle C class shooter but have been doing a lot of drills in preparation for the match and hope to step it up in a big way. Any drills in particular that made a big difference for you in major matches? I haven’t heard anything about an equipment survey Or the match book, Is it still too far away for those to be released? 

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Way to far away to be released. Equipment survey will be electronic. Match book won't be until maybe 2 weeks before match.

 

Give yourself extra travel time. Both to the site itself and day to day for the match.

Bring extra ammo.

Do not have anything in your personal set up you question or worry about.

Do not get behind sleep or hydration.

Get good at ignoring people and things.

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It will be easy for you to get overwhelmed.  Focus on the stage you are shooting, don't worry about the hard swinger you will see on day two.

 

Can't chono when "you" want, it's usually scheduled.  But look at your first days stages the day prior, if you can.  Make notes of things you want to focus on or avoid, especially 180 traps.  Depending on your experience it may be best to play it safe on tight stages.  

 

But remember when you get to the most important stage of the day, it's the one you are on at that moment, to focus and let your training take over.  You need to shoot with your sub-conscious.

 

Oh and the single most important thing HAVE FUN & MEET NEW FRIENDS!  Congratulations on going!

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3 hours ago, Danool777 said:

Thanks guys for all the great insight. I’m currently a middle C class shooter but have been doing a lot of drills in preparation for the match and hope to step it up in a big way. Any drills in particular that made a big difference for you in major matches? I haven’t heard anything about an equipment survey Or the match book, Is it still too far away for those to be released? 

 

Match books are usually released 2-3 weeks before nationals.  

Shooting skills, make sure you're proficient at strong hand only, weak hand only (15-25yds) and make sure you know where your gun hits at 30-50yds. Zebra, tough partials, head shots at 15-25yds. 

 

Those are your non typical things that will be tested at nationals.  

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On 2/5/2021 at 11:37 AM, pskys2 said:

It will be easy for you to get overwhelmed.  Focus on the stage you are shooting, don't worry about the hard swinger you will see on day two.

 

Can't chono when "you" want, it's usually scheduled.  But look at your first days stages the day prior, if you can.  Make notes of things you want to focus on or avoid, especially 180 traps.  Depending on your experience it may be best to play it safe on tight stages.  

 

But remember when you get to the most important stage of the day, it's the one you are on at that moment, to focus and let your training take over.  You need to shoot with your sub-conscious.

 

Oh and the single most important thing HAVE FUN & MEET NEW FRIENDS!  Congratulations on going!

Best post of the thread.  Short, sweet, and to the point.

 

I remember the first time I went to Camp Perry for CMP week.......

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  • 2 weeks later...

I shot World Steel, Alabama Sectional, and Classic Nationals at CMP last year. I advise not carrying tons of stuff if you can help it because it is a bit of a hike on gravel to to get everywhere, especially the top bays. They have carts that get used to move shooters to and from the top, and from the last bay to the first bay, but you can't always count on that especially first thing in the AM and during the changeover from AM to PM. A cart works okay on the gravel between stages but it's still tedious, so don't carry things you don't need.

 

Good luck and have fun!

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On 2/5/2021 at 5:54 AM, Danool777 said:

 hope to step it up in a big way. 

get this thought out of your head. train like you normally do or more than normal that is up to you, but get the I want to do better than normal thought out of your head, go shoot the match within your skill level. 

 

being mid C I will guess that your normal match contains a few dumpster fire stages, focus your training on not having them, learn your limits and shoot within them.

I got to shoot on the super squad a nationals pre covid and the biggest thing I learned from the top guys in the world was don't try to win stages try not to loose stages, the 5 match points you can gain trying to burn down a stage pale in comparison to the 50 match points you can loose if pushing makes it a disaster. 

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5 hours ago, MikeBurgess said:

get this thought out of your head. train like you normally do or more than normal that is up to you, but get the I want to do better than normal thought out of your head, go shoot the match within your skill level. 

 

being mid C I will guess that your normal match contains a few dumpster fire stages, focus your training on not having them, learn your limits and shoot within them.

I got to shoot on the super squad a nationals pre covid and the biggest thing I learned from the top guys in the world was don't try to win stages try not to loose stages, the 5 match points you can gain trying to burn down a stage pale in comparison to the 50 match points you can loose if pushing makes it a disaster. 

 

 

Absolutely! Could not agree more.

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About “stepping it up” I was more referring to training and honing my skills over the next couple months. I know I will be no where close to the level of a majority of the people at that match but I would like to prepare myself ahead of time so as to do the best My skills allow with the opportunity I have. Thank you all for all the tips. I’ve doing a lot of drills and am seeing lots of gains. Just curious if I were to raise my classification before the match would I be shooting in the class I was at time of registration or time of match? 

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6 hours ago, Danool777 said:

About “stepping it up” I was more referring to training and honing my skills over the next couple months. I know I will be no where close to the level of a majority of the people at that match but I would like to prepare myself ahead of time so as to do the best My skills allow with the opportunity I have. Thank you all for all the tips. I’ve doing a lot of drills and am seeing lots of gains. Just curious if I were to raise my classification before the match would I be shooting in the class I was at time of registration or time of match? 

you will be just fine and really for the most part just as up to level as everyone else, while big matches attract more M and GM shooters than most local matches the rest of the field is the same as most locals (that is lots and lots of B and C shooters)

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  • 2 months later...

I did my first nationals in 2019, Lim10 nats in FL. I had been shooting USPSA for around 2m5 years and had shot probably 15 or 20 majors including Area matches. I thought meh it's just another match until I got there and started seeing all the big name shooters and then got a bit too excited after watching them shoot in the AM. Mental game went out the window on the first stage. Didnt pay attention to the stage brief and got a procedural on the 3rd shot. The activator stomp box was NOT part of the free fire area. I stomped it and shot with out stepping back in. After the first day I came back better mentally prepared and shot my match. It was a blast though. Ended up eating lunch right next to Todd Jarrett on day two. He happens to be one of my very favorite shooters because he was the Para shooter for a very long time and I started out with a Para. 

 

Other tips. Most likely you will have a M/GM on the squad. Dont focus on how fast they shoot. Go at the pace you shoot. I got caught up with trying to do that at A5 a few years ago and was so worried about slowing down their day I did terrible. At lunch he told me to shoot MY pace. He didnt care. 

 

Be a little more early to your first stage so you can load mags, get belt setup ect.. then calm down and get ready to shoot. 

 

GO TO THE BANQUET. It is a lot of fun. I was like pretty low down in L10 and still got a free 1k rounds of federal syntech USPSA ammo that ended up being 2500 rounds when Federal shipped it. 

 

I dont know about CMP but at USA in FL they had a practice bay. I liked that a lot. Got to take a few shots before the match to get that initial first shot jitter out. 

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