Tuesday, November 8, 2011

November USPSA Match

This past Sunday was the monthly USPSA match held by Fredericksburg Practical Shooters. Although the day started out very cool, it turned into a beautiful, crisp fall day. A perfect day for being outside! As tyhe did last month, the match staff made use of the walls and barriers that had been set up for the Area 8 Championship. However they changed target positions and counts, and even added some falling steel to the mix, so it really was a new match.

This was my last, and 13th, match of the season and I was looking forward to it for a number of reasons. Although I hit the range to practice frequently, it's generally "square range" practice, with very little opportunity for lots of movement or for multiple targets at different distances. At the Fredericksburg match we have nearly 180 degrees of range to shoot in. And of course there's the added challenge of walls and barriers. This would be the last time to shoot this sort of challenge for a few months. I was also going to be competing without a knee brace for the first time since I injured my knee.

So I went into the match really concentrating on just having fun. I kept reminding myself this was all about the fun of the courses and shooting with friends. It seems to have worked because I felt very little of the usual match stress. I did give myself one goal, I wanted to shoot the match with no penalties — no hits on no-shoots and no misses. I almost made that goal too.

The match consisted of seven stages; five field courses, a plate rack course, and a classifier stage. The field courses were all interesting with a good balance of easy fast targets, harder shots at varying distances, partially covered or hidden targets, and some falling steel thrown in.

I ended up hitting a no-shoot on the Classifier stage. Of course, since this was a Virginia Count stage (limited shot count), that one hit counted as a miss AND and a no-shoot. Drats! But it sure was a fun challenge. And that's a definite improvement over recent matches.

I finished the match with just that one penalty pair. I placed 24th out of 41 shooters in my Division, with a match percentage of 51.76%. That's about in the middle of the pack, which is where I expect to be at this point. But most importantly I left feeling really good about the day. I think the dry fire practicing is paying off, and I'm getting better at letting the "fun" override the "pressure." I went in to each stage with a plan and stuck to it.

Later that evening I shared a bottle of wine with Colleen and reminisced about the day. I was very tired after being on the range for 5½ hours but I was still smiling about the match. I don't think I could have found a better way to finish the season. It was a fun match, and I left the range with no disappointments.

I'm already looking forward to the Spring. But there's a lot of dry fire practice and range time to get in before then. And maybe a steel match or two, just for fun.

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