As 2017 gives way to 2018, I thought I’d take a moment to see what gear that worked for me/didn’t work for me, see where I needed to retool or change, and get setup for the 2018 shooting season. During that process I pull together stats from my shooting logs, as I’m pretty diligent about tracking every shot I shoot in matches, practice, and otherwise. Once my 2017 shooting stats were aggregated, it tells a pretty interesting story about the last season.
The Elephant in the Room
First off, you’ll notice some new gear on the list. I was a enthusiastic Sig Sauer P320 shooter. In fact, I had 4 of them and had just received my match gun back from Gray Gun and hadn’t even fired a shot through it when the news broke about the unsafe drop issue. Talk about crestfallen! I validated it and found that one of my Production P320’s would discharge when dropped so I was uncomfortable using it until it was fixed. Seeing the writing on the wall, I knew it wouldn’t be fixed anytime soon, so I thought I’d explore some other options like pulling my Glocks back out of the safe or trying something else. As fate would have it, I was able to try out some new pistols from all of the vendors at Nationals and fell in love with the Walther PPQ Q5. I’ll post more about it soon, but I did pick one up shortly after Nationals, as well as a backup pistol since I typically try to always have a spare if that is my gun for the season. If you look at the stats, you’ll see a big spike from the Q5’s which accounts for about 30% of my total rounds fired for the year.
If you recall from an earlier post, I picked up a Sig P320-RX to try my hand at Carry Optics, but just never got around to using it other than using it for dry fire. In that regard, I learned a great deal about shooting from just dry firing that thing. My draw and presentation became massively better since I needed to be spot on as to not lose the dot. I also had some major breakthroughs with shooting target focused, and most importantly, driving the gun. That was huge! Most trainers suggest shooting a cadence to learn that skill, in practice of course, and it never really clicked with me until I used the RX and was pushing hard to make the 1.6 second par time from a drill in Stoeger’s book where you draw, and put two shots on 3 targets from 10 yards. In retrospect, that was probably the single most important skill I picked up in 2017. So, am I sorry I bought the RX and never shot it? Nope. That skill was worth the price of admission!
Other Highlights in 2017
If I had to choose just one thing I was most proud of in 2017, I’d have to say it was making Master Class in USPSA Production. Not being especially talented at shooting, and being so limited on time, I really had to work hard, mainly in dry fire, to earn the bump in classification. The guys I train and shoot with all bumped up to Master last season and I just couldn’t seem to catch them, so better late than never.
I got a slot and shot the Production Nationals for the first time ever in 2017. What an experience! It was like going to Disneyland for shooters. Although I didn’t place as well as I had hoped, I learned more in that week than I did in the last year or so. It was amazing to watch the great ones shoot the same stages I was shooting and see how they did it. It was fun to shoot and made a lot of new friends, so I certainly hope to do it again in 2018.
Another thing that I figured out in 2017 was how to effectively train, how to analyze my own shooting and identify the weak areas in my skillset as well as figuring out how to build them up to the next level. I wrote post about creating a training plan a while back, so if you’re interested have a look.
Goals for 2018
Ironically, I really have been struggling with defining this season’s goals. It’s be easy to say, make GM, or win a Level II match, but that really isn’t that important for me right now. Not that it wouldn’t be nice to win some of that Walther Match Money, but I have no control over how other shooters compete, so that isn’t a goal I can quantify and meet. Like I said, I’m having some heartburn with this at the moment. I do want to shoot more major matches and certainly want to compete at Nationals again this year, but that really isn’t a skill goal per se. I would like to consistently shoot Master level scores in classifiers and shoot more points in matches, blah, blah, blah… Picking up some sponsorships would be great to help offset the cost of gear and matches, plus who doesn’t want a cool jersey? OK, I’ll have to revisit this. Stand by.
Things to Work On
Like I alluded to in my goals section, I actually do want to shoot more consistently. I have been pushing hard as of late, and with the lack of training/practice in the off season, I’ve shot very inconsistently at my local matches. So first item on my agenda is to get my dry/live fire training schedule back on track and start making progress again. I seem to lose the basics fairly fast when out of practice, so I can never not practice draws, reloads, boring stuff, etc, so that’s going to be part of any program I set up this season. But two areas I want to really bolster is my entry/exit speed, and figuring out my target focus/sight focus thresholds. I will likely slap a dot on my backup Walther and dry and train with it like I did with the 320-RX and see where that takes me.
BJ Norris spoke about turning on your intense mental focus for the stage and then switching it off until the next stage to keep yourself from getting mentally exhausted during a match. I noticed that I start losing focus at the end of matches and make stupid mistakes, like making up a bad shot on a Virginia Count stage. So I want to work on just having more fun in between stages and stay fresh for the actual shooting of the match.
And one last thing, I do want to get more articles and posts up on the blog this year. It’s been very difficult finding them time to train, let alone blog about it, with all of the commitments with young children, wife, work, other stuff, etc. But I really am going to make time for it since I really enjoy sharing information and experiences with other shooters. Plus I do want to give back to the shooting community. I have learned so much from the generosity of others’ posts and videos, so I want to do my part as well.
Well, that’s the year in a nutshell, and here’s to 2018. I hope it’ll be even better!