Striving

I shoot Bullseye for several reasons. Those who know me can report that, yes, my #1 reason is for the camaraderie; I just plain like the people I meet who are shooting Bullseye.

But that’s not the only reason.

A sense of accomplishment is also important.

And with that also needs to be the knowledge that I’m getting better.

Well, the time has come to move up.

The NRA Pistol Rules rank competitors in several categories, among them are Indoor and Outdoor. My current Outdoor classification is Sharpshooter and it is there — outside — where I commonly shoot both 22 and 45 caliber guns, the latter having a heavier, and therefore more difficult, trigger.

My Indoor classification has been as an Expert and it is indoors where the 22 is more commonly fired. Indeed, some indoor ranges permit nothing larger. Consequently, shooters tend to do better.

But I’m now ready to move up. Indeed, I both want to get my Outdoor Expert card, and I think my shooting is just about ready as well.

The individual skill-levels are as follows.

Classification Percent 900 2700
High Master * 97 873 2619
Master 95 855 2565
Expert 90 810 2430
Sharpshooter 85 765 2295
Marksman less < 765 < 2295

My goal, the Expert class, needs a 90% mark. That is, I need to shoot an average of 810 points in Registered and Authorized 900s.

But scores are reported to the NRA for an entire competition. And, the NRA tallies “shots fired” as well as the score. In a 2700 I need to shoot at least 2430 as my total for the three 900s (3 * 810), and I need to “keep it up” at that level for at least 360 shots.

Within a competition, I can do better, or worse, on any given 900, as long as the average for the competition comes out at the 90% level.

For the 360 shots, at 10 points per shot, a 900 has 90 shots, and a 2700 has 270 — not enough. It takes four 900s, or a 2700 plus a 900 or, in my case, it will be two 2700s to accumulate the needed 360 shots.

For some time, my 22 scores have been around 840 to 850. If I shoot at that level outdoor, that will give me a 30-40 point “helper” on CenterFire and 45 scores. (And shooting 840 to 850, you can see that I could, on a good performance at several indoor matches, move up there as well — but I want to keep my Indoor and Outdoor classifications more or less in-line with each other. So I’ve been avoiding indoor Registered and Authorized matches for that reason.)

In the most recent outdoor matches, I’ve done better than expected. That’s especially true with my 45 caliber wad gun now that it has the roll trigger — thank you, Dan Norwood. It feels like I’m pressing on a soft pillow and, rather than needing to “build pressure” to break a shot, I now “keep it flowing”.

For the level of my ability at this time, the roll trigger is a real plus.

And tomorrow we shoot the President’s Day 2700 at the Phoenix Rod and Gun Club. It is an official event so the scores will be reported to the NRA.

And the following weekend has a second, and also to be reported, 2700.

If I can shoot both 2700s and score 2430 or better in each one, then the record of my most recent 360 (or more) shots will make the grade.

I want an Outdoor Expert classification.

That goal, and the determination to get there, will be driving my focus and attention for the next two Sundays.

Align the sights in the aiming area and then move the trigger straight back without disturbing the sights.

10s and Xs!

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* Note:
Above High Master, there are the unofficial 2650 (98.1%) and 2670 (98.8%) clubs. Performance at these levels is truly stunning, especially when you take into account that this is not for one shot, but for a repeated performance over at least 270 individual shots.

Someone Is Watching You!

Inspiration is a great motivator.

I’ve shot Bullseye at a lot of clubs around the US and, in every case, there were better shooters than myself on the line. I’ve been whipped, and I’ve been whipped a lot.

For beginners, Bullseye can be a humbling experience. But if you swallow your pride and pay attention, it’s a great way to improve your game.

And it may be surprising to find out that you learn not only by watching them, but rather by pulling yourself up because they are there and will be looking.

Pressure is a good thing. Accept it, forget it, and then shoot.

For example, when I’m standing between two great Bullseye shooters, I know that one of them is going to be scoring my target. When in that situation, you can bet your bottom dollar I will try my very best. I will focus every bit of knowledge, training and practice on shooting that shot. And when that shot is gone, I’ll do my best to forget it and start working on the next shot.

Oh, it’s also true that, from time to time I let my head get to me. I might think a negative thought such as, “What’s he going to think when he sees how bad I am?” And I doubt if you’ll be surprised to learn that when I start thinking that way, my shooting gets bad, then worse, then absolutely awful. Negative thoughts mess me up faster than bad ammo. With bad ammo I might get the occasional lucky shot where two errors offset each other and the hole ends up in the X ring. It happens. Sometimes you get lucky.

But when your head goes, when you start talking down to yourself, the shots are gonna get wider and wilder.
If you can’t get your mind under control, it’s hopeless.

Bullseye is a head game: To shoot right, you’ve got to think right.

And Bullseye is a control game: If you don’t control your thoughts, they’ll mess you up.

I recently had the awesome privilege of shooting with only two shooters on the line, me and another shooter at an indoor range and he was one of, if not the very best Bullseye shooter in the world, John Zurek.

We fired two NMCs for the NRA Indoor postal, 22 and CF. John stood right next to me and fired a 599, one point short of perfection.

When the shooting was done and targets collected, we swapped. He scored my targets and I scored his and, yes, I really looked hard at that nine, hoping there was some way it would turn out to be a ten. But no, it was a nine. No question about it.

When I handed him the targets I said, “Sorry, John, but I have to score this target with one shot in the nine ring.” He looked and agreed. No hard feelings. It was a nine.

On my way home from the range, though, I realized I was looking at this wrong. It wasn’t important that he’d fired a nine. What he had accomplished instead was fifty-nine tens and Xs. Out of 60 shots fired in a half hour, he’d put 59 of them in the ten or the X ring. 59 tens!

Holy Cow!!

And you know what else? He puts his pants on the same way I do.

He’s got brown hair and so do I.

He stands at the firing line and pours everything he has into each shot. I’ve done that, albeit with less consistency, but I know I can do it too.

And he’s also a really nice guy, married, likes a good joke, sometimes shoots with a couple of day’s growth on his face. I do all of that, too.

Role models are good.

Remember: somebody will be looking.

Focus, do your best, punch a hole in the X.