Ugh!

I skipped coffee in the interest of stability. Maybe that’s what I did wrong.

I ate a high-protein breakfast 90 minutes before first shot so my brain would have the needed molecules for concentration. Maybe that’s what I did wrong.

I disassembled, wiped down and otherwise lightly cleaned the wadder the night before. Maybe that’s what I did wrong.

My finger didn’t feel right on my model 41’s trigger. Maybe that’s what I did wrong.

And I really wanted to shoot scores a level above my current NRA Outdoor Sharpshooter rating. Maybe that’s what I did wrong.



Patching a five [barely]

Or maybe it was just just gonna be an all-around “bad day”.

It sure seemed determined to go that way.

In a word, my shooting was terrible. Nothing seemed to go right. I thought of packing it in early but decided that “quitters never win” and I’d try to see it through. But things just went downhill because after a dismal 22, CF was worse, and then the 45 competition started no better.

Then, adding insult to injury, after the Slow Fire of the National Match Course for the 45, I noticed that the dot on the wadder seemed loose. I grasped it and gave it a wiggle. Yup, sure enough, it was not secure. A vision of the scope coming loose in recoil and bonking me in the forehead as had happened to Leslie flashed through my mind.

Even if it doesn’t come loose, I reasoned, I’ll be thinking about it coming loose instead of concentrating on my shot.

I’ve got to fix this or change guns.

A quick inspection revealed that the bolt holding the front ring to the slide rail had loosened. I started to re-tighten the bolt but, as it began to snug down, something didn’t feel right. When it should have become tight, it felt mushy.

Oh no, I thought. The threads are stripping out.

I stopped turning and hoped it would stay sufficiently snug for the remaining targets but, after the NMC Timed Fire, I could wiggle the front bolt by hand. It wasn’t gonna hold and the whole thing might come away on any shot.

“I’ve got a gun failure here. One of the scope rings is coming loose. Can someone official witness this so I can switch to my backup, to my ball gun?”

From down the line Don yelled, “Wait, what kind of a mount is it?”

He came down, looked and said, “I’ve got a new one of those in the truck. I’ll get it and we can put in a fresh bolt.”

Two minutes later, it was in place.

“That should hold you for the match,” Don said.

But after the first target of the Timed Fire match, it was loose again. Apparently the receiving threads inside the scope mount were also gone.

Turning to the shooter on my right who’d been tallying a good number of Xs and 10s all day, I asked, “Will you verify this?” I wiggled the now loose red dot again. “I’m gonna have to change guns mid-match because this one is disabled.” He agreed. I put the wadder away and took out the ball gun which, luckily, shoots my wad loads just as well as ball ammo.

So, I finished the 2700 on that gun and, incidentally, posted some slightly better scores than I had with the loose-dotted wad gun.

But regardless, with bad 22, center fire and several poor to mediocre 45 scores, my aggregate for the day, 2281-25, was awful, really awful. Indeed, that score was below the SharpShooter baseline (85% of 2700 is 2295) so I didn’t even shoot my qualification this day.

Mmmph.

“Ball match, anyone?”

Well, I thought, what the heck. It can’t get much worse. And my arm actually feels reasonably Okay and, after all, I do like shooting that ammo and the iron sights.

“I’ll shoot,” I volunteered, “but I need a couple of minutes to clean the barrel after running the wad ammo through it.”

While I cleaned the ball gun’s barrel, most everyone else packed up. Oh well, I thought, that just means fewer folks to lose to.

Three of us shot ball, one comparative newbie a couple of positions down to my left, myself and the guy to my right who’d been scoring my bad targets all day but who shot his own very well. I thoroughly expected to get trounced by a bunch of points by him.

But maybe I can beat the newbie, I thought.

I went to Don and bought a box of factory ball Aguila. It’s cheap, kicks like a mule, flies better than I can shoot and, after resizing, the brass would be reloadable.

And I shot a very good Slow Fire target, very good for me at least, an 85-1.

All right! I *do* like shooting these iron sights.

Timed Fire wasn’t quite as good but, at 80-0, still “in there” for my ball scores.

But even with that score, I noticed that my trigger control was better than it had been with the wad gun and its red dot. Not seeing the target clearly is a good thing.

And maybe some luck was with me because, glancing over at my “good shooter” neighbor’s score card, I saw he wasn’t doing very well with the ball gun. Indeed, my Slow Fire was better than his and our Timed Fire had been about the same. I was actually a couple of points ahead. The beginner farther down the line, well, he was doing like beginners do. I know, I’ve been there many times.

But I was doing pretty good and the pretty good shooter to my right wasn’t.

A very dangerous thought crossed my mind:

I could win this admittedly small and not very tough competition. Yes, by golly, I could win this match.

Instantly the other half of my mind jumped in:

No! Stop! Shut up! Don’t think that! Be quiet!
Just focus on the next shot. Remember: front sight, alignment, aiming area, front sight, trigger straight back, front sight, front sight, front sight.
Now be quiet and just shoot.

We shot the first string of Rapid Fire. Some good, some bad.

I resisted the urge to scope the target.

Second string and again, some good, some not so good.

I put the gun away.

Naked eye from the firing line, I could see some holes in the black near the center but I knew I’d jerked a couple also. I folded up the scope without looking through it.

What’s done is done.

I scored the beginner’s target: Yup, he’s out of the running. A good try but really losing it on the Rapid Fire.

Now for my target.

Hmmm. It had a couple of Xs and a couple of 10s. Those looked very nice. But my target also a 5 — lower left, of course. My score was 78-2.

I had gone downhill over the three targets in the ball match. There were some good shots, yes, but there were also some bad ones.

My final score for the ball match was 243-3.

So, I wondered, what had Bob shot on his last target?

It looked like he’d done better than me, but how much?



Winner!

“Hi Bob, how’d you do? What’s your total?” I asked.

“243.”

Trying not to let my voice waver, I asked, “Uhm, how many Xs?”

“It was a bad match, for me. No Xs.”

He shot 243-0, I shot 243-3 … I won? I won. I won the ball match!

Hooray!

I don’t care there was hardly anyone shooting.

I don’t care if none of us were very good.

I won! I won the ball match! Yahoo!!

What a great day!

Competition Day Diet

For Bullseye 2700s that last all day (typically 8:30AM to about 3:00PM) I have adopted a very specific diet. Several other local shooters seem to do about the same and also Brian Zins, the seven times US pistol shooting champion from whom I’m admittedly borrowing much of this advice, has mentioned a very similar diet for the day of competition. Please note, however, that I’ve adapted all this to the perceived dictates of my own metabolism. (YMMV.)

I normally do not eat any breakfast. I tried a couple of different ones on shooting days but universally found I did worse with the change of habit so, now, I have no food for breakfast on competition days. My normal start-of-day is one cup of regular coffee and one cup of decaf, both with a little 2% milk and NO SUGAR. I now do the same on competition days. Although that one cup of caffeinated coffee probably affects my steadiness, I find it a plus for mental sharpness (in my very subjective opinion, of course).

I eat a banana between 22 and CF, about 10:30AM and am thoroughly convinced it helps over the next two hours.

Lunch (12:30-ish) is a 6″ turkey sandwich at Subway or its equivalent. I have provolone cheese on the sandwich, oil and vinegar dressing, bell pepper, tomato, olives, fresh spinach (if they have it) or a small amount of lettuce if not, and lots of black pepper. Lots! I drink only water with lunch (and throughout the day as desired).

If we shoot a hardball match after the 2700, I’ve tried a second banana but, with my shooting of that gun, I can’t say it helps or hinders.

When the Subway near the range was closed for remodeling at a recent 2700, I ate a 1/2 cup of pasta with garlic and olive oil (from the deli section at a grocery) and a 4 oz. packet of turkey slices for lunch. I did as well on that as with the turkey sandwich from Subway. (Pasta gets a plus vote from me.)

Some of the key features of this are, in my opinion, 1) eat only enough to keep you going — a less than full stomach is a must, 2) the turkey contains something (tryptophan? sp?) that has a calming effect (as do chicken and tuna but to a lesser extent) which is beneficial, and 3) the banana seems to have the right balance of natural sugars (for mental sharpness) and potassium (which is a muscle relaxant if I’m not mistaken).

Sugar is bad, real bad, at any time when shooting for accuracy. Sugar in my coffee or a cookie at lunch will definately mess me up. (I’m slightly hypoglycemic so I’m very sensitive to refined sugars.) For similar reasons, any kind of sports drink (or “soft” drink) is a big no-no. Based on my experience, I would recommend plain water only to drink but make sure to get enough to keep the blood flowing easily: dehydration will lessen the oxygen flow to the brain and aim will suffer (in my inexpert opinion).

Overall, you want to keep your heart rate low. If the competition has you walking back and forth to the targets, walk slow. If there is a 30 second or longer lull in the competition, sit down. Pick up banana and lunch (and water) before the competition, eat at the range rather than going out with “the guys and gals” and sit calmly. Keep everything low key. (If you clean a target then, OK, you can do a little victory dance, but only a really little one, and then forget that target and concentrate on shooting only the very next shot.)

Relaxed and alert seem to be the bottom line.