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Old January 24, 2010, 08:44 AM   #1
Dodge DeBoulet
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Strong Start, Weak Finish

Every weekend my "Sportsman's Association" (Rod and Gun Club) hosts a "plate shoot." It's a loosely organized event, open to the public, where folks can get together and take turns blazing away at poppers, steel plates and dueling trees. It attracts a fair number of local gun enthusiasts and the occasional newbie or three. No limit on the number of rounds you can fire at each turn, but once all the targets are knocked down it gets kind of boring

I've been attending nearly every week, and my accuracy and speed are noticeably improving. At the beginning of the shoot, anyway . . .

I normally bring 200-250 rounds, shoot a full-size Smith &Wesson M&P .40, and usually load two 15 round mags for each turn. My first few turns at the shooting line seem to go pretty well, with me hitting most of what I aim at. However, I seem to get worse and worse as the morning progresses.

The event usually runs from about 8:30am to 11:30am, and depending on the number of attendees, my turns are spaced anywhere from 10min to a half-hour apart.

Between turns, I usually help with picking up brass, range resets or just standing around and talking with other attendees, so it's not like I'm getting fatigued . . . nothing is particularly strenuous. There have been some mornings where the temperature was in the single digits, but I dress quite warmly and have never been uncomfortably cold while shooting.

So, any idea what's going on? Any suggestions as to how I might counteract whatever it is that's making me lose accuracy? Is it as simple as "just keep working at it?"

I ask because there's another club in my area that stages a more formalized "Falling Plates" event that has timed turns for 24 plates; 4 mags/speed loaders of 6 rounds each and 24 plates to knock down. By the time that starts up again in the Spring I'm hoping to make a much better showing than what I'd done at the few sessions I was able to attend before they shut down for the winter.

Thanks in advance for any ideas . . .
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Old January 24, 2010, 10:03 AM   #2
TXGunNut
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I'm no instructor but I was a longtime PPC competitor. I learned that as physical skills improved shooting became more and more mental. I think you're losing focus. When you're taking your place on the line for the third time you can't afford to think about your first two trips to the line, picking up brass or setting targets.
Focus on the front sight, maintain the proper grip and trigger control just like you did on your first shot. The only shot that matters while you are shooting is the next shot. You can't fix any previous shots and subsequent shots can wait. You can only fire one shot at a time, make it the best you can. I realize things happen pretty fast in a speed event but I only shoot as fast as I can hit.
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Old January 24, 2010, 12:22 PM   #3
Slopemeno
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I think everyone runs into that. You're getting tired, the match is long, and you just want to wrap things up. Here's what worked for me:

Get plenty of rest the day before the match. Go to bed an hour or two early. Have your gear ready so you don't have to scramble to get out the door. Gas your car up the day before. You get the idea- save all that energy for the range.

Quality airgun and dry fire practice. Spend 15-30 minutes every day on a combination of this. I want to stress the "quality" part of this. Don't just go through the motions- focus on the cleanest trigger break you can manage. Keep the sessions short, and when you start fading, call it a day. Your endurance will improve. My suggestion for an airgun would be a Daisy 717. They're really accurate, and you can shoot in your garage or living room.

My dry fire drill was to make sure my gun was clear and the ammo was in another room. Tape a target to the wall- you can cut a business card down to look like a pepper popper or IPSC target. Holster your gun in a hammer/striker down condition. Draw, dry fire a controlled pair, do a reload, and follow that with a controlled pair. The nice thing about this technique is you can run an entire stage this way by expanding the format. Again, when you get tired, you're done.

A little something to eat during a match is never a bad idea. Half a ham sandwich and and some water to drink will help. Make sure to wash your hands before you eat, however. A shooting buddy and I experimented all over the place with nutrition and how it affected our performance, and I found a turkey sandwich 1 hour before the match took the edge off of my match nerves, so it helped me. Try a Togo's #24 with bacon...

Use your time as the shooters go before you to study what they do right and wrong. While you're waiting for everyone to walk back to the box, be running over how you'll do better than they did in your head. If you can focus long enough, shoot the stage in your head. Visualize the smoothest, most accurate run you can. Don't let a shooter who makes a mistake prior to your run throw you off. I'd also suggest being squadded with shooters who are better than you. You want to try to stay focused on your shooting performance, and not taping and scoring.
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Old January 24, 2010, 12:30 PM   #4
Dodge DeBoulet
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I think I need to explain myself a bit better.

What I'm attending is not a match. It's just a bunch of guys getting together and knocking down poppers, plates, and flipping dueling tree plates from side to side. There's NO competition at all, and I'm only firing 30 rounds each time I'm up.

I have at least 10 and as many as 30 minutes between my turns at the firing line, and even though I'm shooting less and less well throughout the event, I'm having a helluva fun time and not in any way looking for it to be over. If I had infinite funds and the RSOs had infinite patience, I'd be starting at daybreak and shooting until after sunset.

I do think loss-of-focus has something to do with it, but I can categorically state that it's not fatigue or anxiousness to finish up

Oh, and as far as food is concerned . . . someone always brings donuts
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Old January 24, 2010, 03:45 PM   #5
Slopemeno
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And what you're describing isn't much different than hundreds of informal pin/plate leagues all over the country.
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Old January 24, 2010, 05:53 PM   #6
Lost Sheep
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Adding to Slopemeno

Slopemeno pratically wrote my post for me.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dodge DeBoulet
(edited for brevity)
What I'm attending is not a match. It's just a bunch of guys getting together and knocking down poppers, plates, and flipping dueling tree plates from side to side. There's NO competition at all, and I'm only firing 30 rounds each time I'm up.

I do think loss-of-focus has something to do with it, but I can categorically state that it's not fatigue or anxiousness to finish up
I think it matters little how formal the competition is (unless you suffer from "test anxiety"). You are still anticipating and mentally focusing and most of the stuff you do when participating in more formal competitions.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dodge DeBoulet
(edited for brevity)
Oh, and as far as food is concerned . . . someone always brings donuts
When it's your turn to bring the donuts (or when you feel moved to it) bring donuts, sure, but also bring something a bit more protein-based. (Cold cuts, cheese, smoked salmon.) A person's blood sugar can affect hand shake, vision, ability to to concentrate, etc.

Good luck and good shooting.

Lost Sheep
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Old January 24, 2010, 09:44 PM   #7
Slopemeno
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Totally true on the donuts...I love them, but I've found that I get a big energy high/crash from them. A piece of fruit is a better call, when I have the willpower.
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