Monday, June 29, 2009

If it's just a game, why keep score?

"Warriorz" v. "Gamerz" has been done to death here already, but it's a perennial favorite piece of fat to chew on the gunternet:

Hardcore gamer Caleb plays defense here.

Texas Five-Oh MattG goes to yet another match here.

I blunted my skillz at bowling pins this weekend.

For the first time, I felt pretty good about my performance. Oh, I was still in no danger of winning anything, but for once I felt I shot better than "mid pack". I had a couple of really good runs, beating shooters I considered to be much better than me. This is always a possibility, since an element of luck is involved in head-to-head pin shooting; a bullet meeting a pin is a chaotic event, and sometimes the pin doesn't do what you expect it to. Kinda like real life, you have to react on the fly.

Also for the first time, I cleared two tables without needing to reload. Since we're shooting at five pins with a seven round limit in the gun, there's not much margin for error if you don't want to work on your reloading drills, especially when shooting a "minor caliber" pistol (ie, .38 Spl or 9x19.) Even with the pins set a foot further back and me using standard-pressure 147gr hollow points, I needed to hit the pin just right to ensure that I wouldn't have to come back to shoot a "wounded" pin off the table.

The run that made me happiest, however, was the one where my Para LTC puked on the third shot. The slide failed to go into battery, so I slapped the baseplate and ran the slide and... still bupkis. Flustered and under pressure from the metronome-like shooting coming from the other guy, I yanked the mag from the gun and stuffed a fresh one in its place and the world shrank to the front sight as the pins started flying from my table like magic; it was like watching my shooting in the third person. I was afraid to think about what I was doing lest I jinx myself, and as the last pin dropped, I looked up from the sights and scanned and realized that my opponent still had pins on his table. "Nice recovery!" said someone behind me. I was walking on air.

Of course I got totally skunked the next round, but that just means I need to come back next month and do better.

One thing I did notice is that some people approached the shooting differently from others; some kept spare mags on their belt in CCW-appropriate pouches and others just set them on the barrel in front of them. When guns malfed or went dry, some folks just dropped completely out of the action and others kept their head in the fight and got the gun running again as fast as they could. I try to emulate the ones that handled the gun the same way all the time; like kata. That easy unconscious competence is what I'm seeking and consistency and repetition is where that comes from.

As a couple of side notes, I found out that my Para LTC does not like Winchester Q4217 147gr JHP's. I don't know what it is about their geometry that makes them want to nosedive into the feed ramp, but they just don't like to feed if they're near the top of a full mag. The gun malfed more yesterday than it had in all the time I've had it up 'til now. And I'd just cleaned it for the first time in umpty-hundred rounds, too. (Who was it who said "Never shoot a match with a clean gun"? Ross Seyfried?)

Also, like most matches and most gun clubs, this one runs off a cold range. Yes, I understand all the arguments about insurance and varying skill levels and yadda yadda blablabla, but I am of a firm conviction that more unexpected loud noises have been caused by excessive administrative fiddle-farting around with guns to show that they're "safe" than have ever been caused by people wandering about with loaded guns safely holstered.

Anyhow, I'll be back next month, of course; I'm good and hooked now.


pdb said...

I think that a shooter that exclusively goes to matches or only shows up at WARRIORZ TRAINING!! once or twice a year isn't doing themselves any favors.

You get just as much out of competition as you put in. What I caution against is making compromises in your equipment or shooting that might help you win trophies but reinforces questionable habits. It doesn't cost you any time to do a scan and reload at the end of your string, so why not?

Turk Turon said...

Bowling pin shooting at MCF&G is terrific! I'm glad you had a good time. It's fun competing against another shooter and trying to resist the temptation to look at the other guy's table.

Caleb said...

Hey, the good shooters only unload and show clear once they're done shooting. Of course we scan, it's the only way to make sure that we engaged everything, or to see if that hot blonde was watching our stunning performance of shooty prowess.

staghounds said...

I've decided that a gun failure is the most likely thing to create a lockup in my brain during real life.

So I have taken to ALWAYS loading plenty of dummies at random for practice. They are unprimed but otherwise loaded just like the real ones, so even I don't know when to expect them. I want click-clear-bang to become an unthought-about habit.

Matt G said...

PDB: I cautiously agree with you--- If you get too much into the pistol match mindset, you won't have the mindset when the balloon goes up. But for me, there is pride, and pride makes my adrenaline pump when the buzzer beeps, which I can't get while training at the range by myself. Being able to react to the buzzer and put down the plates or puncture the targets or pop the pins, with some stresss, makes for good training.

My only concession to the match, this last time, was that I shot loads that aren't as hot as the duty loads that I carry in my 2" Airweight, so as not to have to have it worked on (again) for end-shake. :) Still, with a bobbed-hammer Airweight 2", I don't think I could be accused of "gaming it up," shooting against a lot of cops who carefully removed their $500 pistols from their holsters, and shot with their $1200 pistols. :rolleyes:

I've GOT to work on my reloads.

Matt G said...

Oh, and preach on, Sister Tamara, about the cold range. The safest place for your pistol is IN THE HOLSTER. If the holster and/or the shooter isn't safe enough to walk around with your loaded pistol holstered, then the holster and/or the shooter should be disqualified.


Anonymous said...

Matt, I think most if not all of the buzzers has random delay option.

Tam said...

"Matt, I think most if not all of the buzzers has random delay option."

I think the point wasn't the buzzer; the point was the stress of having some skin in the game, even if it's just not looking like an idiot in front of your peers.

Unknownsailor said...

That unload and show clear rule is my big hang-up with formalized shooting competitions.
I watch Todd Jarrett unload as an unconscious afterthought on his youtube videos, and I cringe.

Tam said...

"That unload and show clear rule is my big hang-up with formalized shooting competitions.
I watch Todd Jarrett unload as an unconscious afterthought on his youtube videos, and I cringe.

So scan and wait for the command; don't do it by reflex.

It's no more cringeworthy than the drones who robotically pirouette 360° in the Full Sabrina after every string. That can get you killed when the cop is yelling "Drop it!"

I think the simple rule should be "Be aware of your surroundings before you go putting your gun away."

Frank W. James said...

As someone who is in his 60's and has been shooting competitively since he was a teenager, I have to say something that's going to piss off BOTH sides on this issue.

Prior to 1973 I was a den-digger of foxes and we were paid by the townships to kill them; specifically $3/pair of ears. If you really want to find out what works and what doesn't with a handgun get into a live fire situation with live targets where money is on the line. (Yes, it was one of college jobs.)

It's one of the reasons why I have always been such a devotee of Elmer Keith because he was the only gunwriter whose experiences rang 'true' to my own, limited experiences.

Jimmy Cirillo is dead nuts on. I feel you have to excel at unpredictable circumstances in order to understand and master defensive handguns. In my case I was young and dumb and I worked with older people who took the job extremely, extremely serious. If I missed or fumbled a reload after we gassed the den and they came out, I was not ridiculed, but rather I was cussed out in rather severe terms. (Note: Paid 'killers' of anything are seldom members of polite society.)

Bounty hunting today is somewhat scarce but it still exists with feral hogs and I recommend it to anyone who wants to find out for sure how 'good' they really are and how they will function under 'pressure'. The only difference between hogs and young foxes is; the hogs CAN hurt you when you screw up.

All The Best,
Frank W. James

Keith said...

I agree with Frank on shooting hogs. They scatter unpredictably, sometimes they come back after they've left once, sometimes there are more than you realize...

You've got to pay attention to what's going on and act fast.

Darting and capturing wild bulls in thick brush works the same, but bigger and harder to stop.