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Film Study: Wake Action Pistol match

Last night was the second Wake Action Pistol match for November and so it was the second time we were shooting these stages. It was a chilly night on the range and we had to spend about half an hour after the safety brief figuring out what went wrong with Practiscore, the match scoring software we were using. Once all the issues were solved, I was in gear to get the match rolling, and I hadn’t even put my belt or gun on yet.

This was also the first match where I made a strong conscious effort to make sure both ROs on the squad had a break at least three shooters before it was their turn to shoot, to mentally prepare for the stage. I, of course, made sure to give myself at least that much time, but failed to capitalize on it and bombed a couple stages.

Alright, excuses over, let’s get to the tape.

The first stage we shot was Payne’s Pain, a USPSA Classifier. 4 shots around one side, reload, 4 shots through the port, reload, 4 shots around the left. Although the draw was solid, everything from transitions to reloads just felt sluggish. Both reloads were slower than I’d like, thanks to my frozen digits. I warmed them up enough to shoot a decent run, but not quite what I’m normally capable of.

The makeup shot at the end was an alpha to make up a delta at the 3 o’clock position from pulling off the target too early. Hands and trigger finger just got out of sync. It was good shot calling to see it and the right thing to do to make it up, but it shouldn’t have been necessary.

The second stage just went all to hell. Despite the fact that the rules allow you to load your mags all the way, at this match I was shooting just like it was a USPSA match and I was in Production: first mag of 11, reloads of 10. So with a stage plan that involves 10 precise shots before the reload, I should have thought about how my reload would change if I had to take one or two makeup shots. I didn’t.

What I find especially interesting is something in the back of my brain told me to just get moving across the stage and reload after the eleventh shot even though my slide didn’t lock back. At some subconscious level I knew I was empty. So, failures on this stage were 1) not planning the reload and how makeup shots would effect it, 2) breaking a shot too early during the transition to the middle targets, and 3) riding the slide release so the gun didn’t lock back. #1 was a mental preparation error, #2 is a training error, and #3 is a technique error.

I also fell in to my own speed trap, throwing a miss in to the hardcover on the second to last target, transitioning too fast from the previous target. What’s interesting is that I didn’t call the miss. My conscious mind was too busy thinking about the cock-up I’d just shot in the middle.

This third stage also prominently features a huge mental malfunction related to reloads. I visualized the stage extensively, burning in a stage plan to shoot 8 shots, reload going down the hall, and then shoot 10. For some reason, getting a crappy grip on the draw and having a makeup shot on the move caused me to forget that plan and go to one that involved reloading after three targets, giving me 11 bullets to shoot the 12 remaining shots. Obviously that math didn’t work out.

In USPSA Production, so often you reload every three or four targets, which is usually pretty much every time you run from position to position. This has become an ingrained habit that I need to break.

Other than that, I’m really pleased with my movement. Didn’t commit too hard to the outside target and was already leaving when I broke the second shot. Moving down the hallway, consistent splits on the move and a good transition between the targets that would have been suh-weet without the delay of an unnecessary reload even slower because of cold fingers.

I managed to put together a decent run on the last stage as well. Straightforward stage but it was very easy to get out of order and just shoot whichever target you see first instead of sticking to your plan. If my all of my transitions had been snappy between targets it would have been a better run, but a few times I lingered on the target I’d just shot as I considered a makeup shot. Overall, happy with this stage. I was especially pleased with my seated draw and reload.

Not the match I was hoping to have after my aggressive dry fire schedule recently, but my match performance problems are totally unrelated to the mechanics of gun handling. I’m still struggling to walk the balance beam between shooter and RO, and this time, and this time I just fell off.

About Ben

Blog contributor. Active in IDPA and USPSA, and he won't flinch if you call him a rules lawyer. Ben is a beard wearing, bacon eating, whiskey drinking, motorcycle riding, coder.

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