For me, USPSA isn’t just about getting behind a gun and pulling the trigger. Even as a spectator, I could have a great time at a match. Breaking down stages, watching how different class shooters address challenges, and socializing is a lot of fun (even if I am very quiet in person).
In addition to standing back and watching, I love sharing photos and match video. It is my way of sharing the match with those that couldn’t attend. I take match photos and video very seriously. It isn’t uncommon for me to snap several hundred photos just to wind up with a couple dozen decent shots. When it comes to video, I’m transitioning to a multi-camera setup so that I can share video from a variety of angles.
Today I shot USPSA at Lower Providence Rod and Gun Club. This was the first match since I started sharing photos and videos, that I honestly didn’t give a damn. This match broke me. Even my competitive drive was dead. Before the match even got underway all I wanted to do was get in my car, crank up the AC, and drive home.
The problem wasn’t the match itself. Lower Providence hosts a challenging match with fun stages, this month was no exception. The problem was the heat. Around this time last year I said that USPSA in July is less about Technique and more about Endurance and I think it still holds true.
Last month there was an incident at Lower Providence that forced the club to cancel the match. The Match Director decided that this month he would re-run a few of the stages again this month. A stage that I designed was being used and I’d need to help with setup (not a problem, I try to help setup every month).
I arrived at the club around 7:00am and wasn’t out of my car for more than 10 minutes before I was sweating. I suppose it took us about 90 minutes to get setup. By the time we were done with the stage, I was drenched in sweat. I ducked into the storage shed and spent some time standing under a fan, trying to cool down.
As people filtered in to get registered for the match, I wondered if I would be better suited not shooting today. I mean, if I was in rough shape at 9:00am, what shape would I be in after 4 to 5 more hours on the range?
I got myself registered for the match and planned on bailing out if the heat got to be too muh for me. I thought that as long as I stayed hydrated I would be alright.
After squadding, I learned that I would be the first shooter of the day. The stage that we were starting on was one that I planned for last month, so I didn’t have much trouble formulating a plan. The buzzer sounded and things got off to a rough start.
Sweaty hands posed a problem with my plastic Glock magazines and I had some trouble getting a tight focus on my front site. As a result, some of my reloads were horrible and my hits on target were sloppy. When the first stage was scored, I came away with a couple of D’s and a M or two. As I walked back to my range bag to top off magazines, the heat defeated me and I stopped caring.
As the day went on I had more problems with magazines slipping through my sweaty hands. One magazine slipped completely out of my hands and I had to retrieve it. Front sight focus remained a problem and I had terrible hits all day long.
The one thing I did care about was staying hydrated. More than once I’ve been told “If you aren’t peeing you aren’t drinking enough”. I took that advice to heart and drank as much fluid as I could keep down. Based on what I brought along, plus what I grabbed out of the club cooler, I probably came close to consuming 1-1/2 to 2 Gallons of water throughout the course of the match.
Calling it a Day
Despite having consumed a lot of water (and a bottle of Gatorade for the electrolytes), when the match was over I was feeling pretty beat up. I was sweating like crazy and peeing routinely but still developed a dull headache and felt drained. I wasn’t feeling up to helping with tear-down but I did it anyway (everyone has to do their part).
Once our stage was broken down, I grabbed my range bag and headed for my car. Ordinarily I seek out a few people and talk a bit before leaving but I didn’t want to be out in the sun any more than I had to. I got to my car and set the AC to full blast. After a few minutes I started the hour-long drive home.
When I got home, I jumped in the shower then laid down. It took a few hours before I felt back to my usual self again. This experience has made one thing clear. While I love USPSA and all the intricacies of the sport, I’d rather shoot IDPA in January than USPSA in July.
Going forward, I’m going to have to think long and hard about attending matches in excessive heat.