I went to my second competition yesterday. I needed the experience, and the scores to get my official ranking. After searching on the internet, I finally found a shotters box. I did not realize how rare they were. I wanted a 2 gun box but would have been happy with a 3 gun, but could only find a 4 gun box which is increadibly heavy. But, I was happy to get one. I bought a spotters scope and it must have been meant to be. I did not have a lot of money to spend and was looking at one made in Russia for about $75. To my surprise, the local chain sporting goods store had a Bushnel scope, regularly priced at $150 discounted to $99 but discontinued and the last one in the store for $75. Yup, I bought it. Since my 22 caliber gun jammed on me, I went on a search for information as to why. You see, I really liked it. Turns out, it functions better with high velocity ammo to create the pressures needed to successfully eject the spent cartridge and load the next. Since I was able to get a case of 22 standard velocity, I either needed to change the springs on my 22 or use another gun. Enter my father to the rescue once again. Many years ago, he gave me the gun he would have used had he gone to Camp Perry that was made to use the very ammo that I have. A Smith and Wesson model 41 made in the mid 1960’s. Still in NRA 95% condition. After a trip to the range for practice, it worked great. So I chose that gun for the 22 caliber round. Now, I have a 45 caliber that I specifically had modified just for Bullseye competition. A Springfield Armory 1911 model Range Officer that I had Titanium rings and an Ultradot 2 mounted on it. The gun is more accurate than most shooters are capable of so I can’t blame the equipment.
Yesterdays match consisted of 3 sets. 90 rounds each, one with 22 caliber, one with centerfire and finally 45 caliber. I chose, like most competitors do, to shoot the 45 in the centerfire round making it a two gun match. 90 rounds of 22 and 180 rounds of 45. Each round would and did take an hour and a half each. So, with breaks, the minimum time was 5 hours. I was ready for the 22 match since I learned alot my first match… you know, the one where I got the lowest score in my state. After all, I practiced and sighted in my gun for 50 feet since my last competition was shot at 50 feet. Well, life likes to throw a monkey in the wrench sometimes, and this match was all shot at 75 feet. Now, remember, Bullseye is shot three legs. First at 75 feet where you shoot 10 rounds in 10 minutes then at 50 feet where you shoot 5 rounds twice at 20 seconds then 50 feet where you shoot 5 rounds twice in 10 seconds. Well, yesterday, all legs of the match was shot at 75 feet. To compensate shooting a target at 75 feet instead of 50 feet, the target is slightly larger.
My 22 scores were much better where my aggrigate score was 77%. Compared to my last match where my aggrigate score was 51%, that was a nice improvement. I still need to work as I suffer from stage fright. I always have since I was a kid. But when I practice alone, my scores are more like 85 to 87%. So if I can do in competition what I normal do at the range, I will be just fine. My trouble came with my 45. I had sighted my gun at 50 feet using a specific brand of ammo. So on my way to the meet, I bought a different brand of ammo. Now, if you don’t know much about guns and ammo, the weight of an empty 45 is around 40 ounces. Add another 4 ounces for a full magazine, and 15 to 20ounces for rings and a red dot scope. That is roughly 60 ounces or almost 4 pounds that you are holding out, fully, one handed. When shooting at a target the size of a one pound coffee can set on its side at shoulder height 75 feet away, any movement can be a complete miss. My sights were off the mark, I was getting tired and I am still trying to correct a slight shaking of my hand. Now, I don’t want you to think my shaking is a straight line vertically or horizontally, nope. My shaking is circular. So putting the red dot from my sights on the target was like a perfect circle around the black part of the target. My groupings were low and to the left. Kind of like shooting at the 7:30 mark on a clock. So I figured I would compensate and shoot high and to the right, but with my shaking, I missed the target completely. Remember that I was shooting, competitively where every point counts for 5 hours. You try holding 4 pounds straight out for 5 hours and see if you get tired.
But as everything in life, you try to learn from the experience. And I did. I need to work on my ‘core’, I need to life weights, strengthen my back, shoulders, elbow and wrist and walk more for building my endurance. I need to sight in all my sights for 75 feet, always use the same brand and type of ammo and adjust the trigger pull to be around 2.75 pounds of pressure for a clean, reliable release.
There are many different styles of shooting. First is ‘plinking’ where you shoot at bottles, cans and simple targets for fun. There is hunting for food and sport. Target shooting to learn your gun and to hit what you aim at. But Bullseye is a more precise style of shooting. Like any sport, it requires practice, good equipment and dedication and conditioning. I will keep you updated to my progress as I need alot of work yet.