Words cannot express how beautiful the weather was when I stepped out onto my porch. The sun was shining, the sky was clear and blue, birds were singing. The air was just cool enough that while wearing shorts and a t-shirt, you could engage in moderate activity without breaking into a sweat.
Some forty miles south-east, things were very different. I pulled into the Lower Providence Rod and Gun Club Parking lot to find grey skies and random rain dropps falling. Everything was wet and the air was much cooler, making me regret wearing shorts and a t-shirt.
After registration and squadding, I found myself on a sloppy Stage 6. Before looking over the Written Stage Briefing, I was happy to see three shooting boxes. I automatically assumed that we would be running the stage in three separate strings to avoid the mud. I was wrong.
This stage was my first experience moving targets that were set into motion directly by the shooter. A spring was held under tension, iside of a floor plate, that when stepped on released the spring. The spring would then yank on a cable and activate a moving target. In this case, that moving target was an out and back (visible for one swing, then disappears).
My plan of attack was to use the activator last, and when I did so, tap it with my foot instead of standing on it. To start the stage, I would draw my gun and begin engaging targets from right to left. First a pair of steel pepper poppers, then a pair of USPSA Metric Targets (paper). I would engage the moving target last, a USPSA Metric Target on an out and back setup.
Once the first array was engaged, I would reload while moving to the next shooting box. Once in the box, I would engage targets in the same sequence. Fist I would shoot a USPSA Metric Target, then a steel pepper popper which activated a swinger. Due to the speed at which the swinger was moving, I would only take one shot on it as I continued to sweep from right to left. I would engage another steel pepper popper, another paper target, then transition back to the swinger.
With the second array completed, I would reload on the move and get into position in the last shooting box. In the same right to left fashion, I would first engage a pair of paper targets, transition to a pair of poppers, then step on the activator to release another out and back.
I have a really bad habit of starting off my shooting day in a slow and lethargic manner. I don’t know if it is a matter of needing to ‘warm up’, but whatever the case I never feel like I have a solid start to any match. This stage was no different.
After the buzzer I drew my gun and missed my first shot on steel. My second shot hit the mark and one piece of steel went down. I transitioned to the second piece of steel and did the same thing, first shot missed but the second hit the mark. In a foolish attempt to make up time, I shot the first paper target faster than I could see the sights. When I realized what was happening, I slowed down and shot the remainder of the targets in a more manageable pace.
I moved from one shooting box to the other taking very cautious steps as to not fall in the mud. When I stepped into the second shooting box, I pressed the gun out while standing in a bladed sort of stance, as if I were going to shoot on the move. I didn’t shoot on the move, I just stood there, body twisted, firing away. On the bright side, all of my shots felt good up until I got to the swinger, where I fired four rounds, total, as insurance. I burned up a lot of time doing that and later I found out it was wasted time. I had 3 A’s and 1 C on that target.
I moved to the last array in the same cautious manner, slowing to a crawl as I made the last few steps to the box. Once again, although not as bad, I began firing with my body twisted. All of my shots felt pretty good but I took a third shot on the out and back as insurance.
In hindsight, I should have taken the out and backs first, stepping up on the platform to get me a tiny bit closer to each target. If I were to use one word to describe my performance on this stage, it would be sloppy.
When the dust settled, or perhaps I should say when the mud dried, I managed to pull out an 8th place finish on this stage, which is a surprise considering how poorly I felt I shot it. I had 13 A’s, 1 B, 7 C’s, 2 D’s, and 1 M, earning me 81 out of a possible 120 points. My point percentage was an abysmal 68%, which is well below my target of 90% or better. My time was 25.58 seconds and my Hit Factor was 3.1665.
My saving grace appears to be penalties. Many shooters in production division walked away with two to three misses, taking a -20 to -30 hit on their scores. My time, although it looks bad, seems to be about par for the course.