Growing up, I looked forward to spending time with my dad. You see, I had, still have, a dad that actually wanted to spend time with me and teach me the things that I needed to know to become a productive member of society, not some snowflake that needs an emotional support dog when I get a bad grade in school. More on that in another blog entry.
About twice a month, on a Saturday, we would go to the store, buy a ‘brick’ of 22 caliber ammunition, some gatorade and some targets, head up into the mountains where plinking was allowed and he would teach me gun safety and gun control, you know…how to hold a gun and hit your target. At $11 or less for a brick, which was 10 boxes of 50 rounds for a total of 500 rounds, we could spend several hours target shooting/plinking. Then, he alway took a rake and trash container to ‘police’ our area, or clean up our mess. “Always leave the area as clean or cleaner than when you found it” was what he would always say. It was ‘our’ time to bond. Dad grew up on a ranch, and mom grew up on a farm so both of my parents thought I should know gun safety. Dad had to keep the coyotes away from the herd and mom had to keep the fox away from the hen house. And grampa was a sniper. During the depression, a box of 50 rounds of 22 ammo had to help feed a family so every shot had to count. So, you can guess that I grew up with a healthy respect for gun safety.
Well, fast forward 40 years and I became interested in the NRA conventional pistol competition held at Camp Perry. This form of pistol shooting is known as ‘bullseye’ shooting. Simply put, take a target the size of a one pound coffee can, set the coffee can on its side so the round bottom is at shoulder height at 75 feet away from you and shoot 10 rounds at it. Think its easy, well, you have to shoot one handed only. You shoot 22 caliber, then any center fire cartridge like 32 caliber up to and including 45 caliber, then 45. So, to give you a better idea of how hard it is, take a laser pointer and a 4 pound weight. Hold the weight in your strong hand while holding the laser pointer like a pencil in the same hand and hold the red dot from the laser pointer at a spot 75 feet away without moving the dot. Thousands of people from all over the country converge to Camp Perry to compete. Military, law enforcement and civilians alike compete against one another and themselves for the highest scores. I found out recently, that both my dad and mother wanted to compete at Camp Perry, but never had the time, money or chance. So, I am planning to go this year. My parents can live vicariously through my experiences as I go to a competition that I have wanted to participate in for a couple of years now.
Now, I go to the range 2 or 3 times a month. I practice self defence with my sidearm, I take the same classes police have to every year. I try out many different types and styles of guns. I practice every month, as any competant gun owner should so I thought my past experience would propel me to a good score. Bwahahaha (a Dr. Evil laugh) or so I thought.
Since I had never shot competitively, officially, I figured that I needed the experience of a couple of local and state competitions so that I can get into the ‘swing’ of things. What can I expect? What will I need? After all, I will be competing against thousands from across the country. I have to concider everything from the accuracy and reliability of my gun, to what I eat for breakfast ( avoid coffee and refined sugar) to even how I stand (time to see my chiropractor). So, I became a member of my states shooting association and made sure my NRA membership was active and in good standing (if you are not a member, shame on you, you should be) and I signed up for my very first NRA sanctioned tournement. I would like to inform you that my score was high, I said ‘like to’ didn’t I? I got the lowest score in the state. I was embarassed as I have been shooting for a half century. (My garsh, am I that old?) I had gone to the range the day before to practice. I shot at the same distances with the same gun using the same brand and type of ammo with the same time limits, oh, I forgot to tell you that there are time limits. More on that in a moment. Anyway, at practice, I was shooting scores of 87 out of 100 which should be good enough to qualify as ‘Marksman’. There are 5 classifications. From lowest to highest there is ‘Marksman’, ‘Sharpshooter’, ‘Expert’, ‘Master’ and finaly ‘High Master’. I was expecting to be a high Marksman close to Sharpshooter. Instead, I got the lowest score in the state with a 51 percent.
It started the following morning after my practice. I got up earlier than I am used to, did not eat breakfast and became nervous as this was my first official competition. So, my hand was shaking from low blood sugar, nervousness and lack of sleep. Now add that my gun, which worked flawlessly the day before, started jamming on me adding to my frustration which caused me to shake even more. I was like Don Knotts in ‘The Shakiest Gun in the West’. You can say that, while I failed that day, I learned alot to be better prepared for my goal of Camp Perry.
Oh yea! You want to know about the timed element. Well, the competition goes like this… you first have 10 minutes to shoot 10 rounds at the target at 75 feet. Then, you have 20 seconds to shoot 10 rounds at the target at 50 feet, then finally 10 seconds to shoot 10 rounds at the target at 50 feet. And you do that 3 times, once with a 22 caliber one day, then once with any center fire cartridge between 32 to 45 the next day, then finally with the 45 on day 3.
So, I bought a fitness tracker to help me walk more, for enurance. I bought a 10 pound weight to build my strength and, with my new found knowledge am trying to be better prepared…AS I WILL NOT SUFFER THE EMBARRASEMENT of getting the lowest score again. I will keep you informed to my progress as I prepare for Camp Perry 2018.