“Know thy enemy, know thyself, and you will be invincible.”
– Sun Tzu
When I was a professional photographer, once someone found out what I did for a living, I’d usually at a party, “Say, I want to take better pictures, what kind of camera should I get?”
My answer to this was always “Well, that depends. How many rolls of film do you shoot each week?”, which would usually end that part of the conversation as the would-be photographer grapples with the concept of shooting an entire 36-shot roll of film each week, much less more than one, where it was not uncommon for me to burn through two dozen rolls of HP5+ or TMZ covering just one high school basketball game.
The point I was trying to make is that it’s not the camera that limits the photographer, it’s his or her ability to put in the time necessary to realize their vision and their desire to push their creativity that limits a photographer.
Looking back on this now, I realize my answer to the wannabe photogs was/is snarky and condescending: People want to take better pictures not to become the next Mark Seliger, they want to capture memories that are more evocative and aesthetic, something all of us share.
Which brings me to practical shooting. I’m blessed/cursed to call Rio Salado Sportsmans Club my home range. It’s loaded to the gills with USPSA Grandmasters. It’s a blessing in that each match is challenging and exciting, but each match is meant to be challenging and exciting to shooters like Rob Leatham, Vic Pickett and Matt Burkett.
This can (and does) discourage beginning shooters. Imagine cranking off the best golf drive in your life and then have Tiger Woods shoot behind you and out-drive you by 100 yards.
The upside to this, though, is that in the words of The Chairman Of The Board, if I can make it there, I can make it anywhere. And another great thing about shooting at Rio is the opportunity to participate and shoot in some 1st-class matches like the Desert Classic and Mystery 3 Gun, which bring in shooters from around the country. I get to meet some of the best shooters in the world, and the prize tables for each match can be really good.
All of this explains why I’m shooting a laid-back, easy-to-shoot steel match with friends on a regular basis rather than the more difficult but less friendly USPSA matches at Rio. I like Rio: I do all my practicing there and I’ll still shoot a USPSA match there as often as I can, but right now, it’s important that I believe I can shoot well and do so when needed, even in the toughest of competitions. My practice sessions are there for me to prepare me physically, the steel matches are there to prepare me mentally. My standard for success needs to be me and the progress I have made, not the best shooters in the world can do.
Not a typo, rather, bay three of the Phoenix Rod and Gun Club.
Looks nice, but what you can’t see is the heat. 105 degrees in the shade when we started shooting tonight. And by “we” I mean me, Danno from Sandcastle Scrolls and Capitalist Pig and Mz. Vast Ring Wing Conspiracy from Great Satan Inc.
This was the first match I’ve shot when there’s been somebody I know socially to chum along with, and it won’t be my last. It makes a fun sport even better, and I highly, highly recommend it.
And I shot pretty good, too, which makes it even more better.
A long, long time ago, on a pistol range far, far away…
Like, say, 2 years ago at the Rio Salado Sportsman’s Club.
A few years ago, after a pair of brutal home invasions in the Phoenix area, my wife and I decided that we needed to improve the protection of our home and family. We installed a burglar alarm, and I bought a pistol for home defence.
I decided on a CZ75 after trying all the 9mm pistols at Caswell’s Indoor Range. I tried Glocks, S&W’s, Springfields and my groups were the tightest with the CZ, so I went to a gun show the next week and bought a pre-B CZ75 from a dealer there for $400.
Then I went to get training. I took the NRA FIrst Steps class at Rio and learned about something called “Practical Pistol”, and it looked like a good way to get myself used to using a handgun in a semi-stressfful environment.
This intrigued me, as I knew I was good enough to shoot well at a static target on a firing range, but I also knew that wasn’t any guarantee that I’d be able to shoot well when the lives of my loved ones depended on it, and USPSA looked like a good way to learn how to shoot fast and accurately as fast as possible.
So I gave it a try. And I liked it. A lot. I shot about once every other month, and I got to the point where I became a “D” Class shooter. Better than the lower 2% of shooters out there, but there’s lot of shooters better than me.
Classification Bracket Percentages
Grand Master – 95 to 100%
Master – 85 to 94.9%
A – 75 to 84.9%
B – 60 to 74.9%
C – 40 to 59.9%
D – 2 to 40%
That’s got to change. And that’s what this blog is about.