Home / QnA / Q&A: Pre-Stage Routine, Making New Shooters Comfortable, and USPSA Classifiers

Q&A: Pre-Stage Routine, Making New Shooters Comfortable, and USPSA Classifiers

Another fun Q&A show this week. Thanks to everyone who joined me in the live chat, I love the interaction!

However, I’m almost completely out of questions for next weeks show, so if you want a show next week, I need you to send me your questions! Shoot me an email to [email protected]


Do you have a consistent pre stage routine? I’ve started handing off my pasters when I’m in the hole and I check all my mags to make sure they are loaded all the way up (cardinal rule!) and start visualizing my run through. I’ll usually air gun a little and double check if there is a weird angle or target somewhere. Then as soon as the shooter before me is done I stand at the start location, double check all my mags again ( I’ve burned myself too many times) and I’ll hold my 11 round mag in my hands while I air gun one last time until the make ready. Then I load up, usually do a quick press check, and stare down the first target until the timer goes off. Do you always do the same routine, or am I over thinking this?

When you “Make Ready,” do you have a set routine that you follow every time?  Does it ever differ?  If so, what might cause the change in routine?

  • I don’t do anything super crazy. When I’m the on-deck shooter I stop pasting and re-setting and step away to think about my stage plan, visualize a little more, etc. When the shooter ahead of me is finished, I’ll try and do a fullspeed walk through of the stage, practice the start position, etc.
  • At the Make Ready, I don’t do any crazy long procedures. If there’s a far target, I’ll see if I can get a sight picture, but then it’s just insert the magazine, put one in the chamber, and I’m off to the races.


What are some things you do to help ensure a new shooter enjoys their first match?  Is there anything that helps calm their nerves or mitigate any mistakes they might make (that are not safety related).  What if they DQ at their first match?  Do you just tell them that “it happens to everyone” and hope they come back for the next match?  When explaining all of the safety and logistical procedures prior to the match, how do you convey that the procedures are serious, but they aren’t as daunting as they might sound?


So as you know, I just started competing in USPSA matches and I was hoping you could clarify a few things for me.

Am I reading the rules right?

1. I only need 4 classifier stages completed to get an official classification?
2. If the local match doesn’t turn in my scores within 30 days of the match date I can’t use it as a classifier score? (I have a feeling this is going to happen at a match I attended back in June.)
Thanks for your help as always!


Q1) Anyway, I encountered a completely new stage design at the IDPA match. This particular stage used solid walls. Before making ready, I walked the bay to make absolutely sure no one was left behind pasting, chatting, etc. The SO assured me he’d already checked, but I told him they were my bullets going down range and I had to be certain. How do you handle these types of stages? The other competitors in my squad did not check as such, though may have had other techniques I did not notice. For myself, I know I will always need to physically check. I’ll get myself DQ’d fighting with the SO if I have to, but I’m not shooting without knowing and seeing for myself that it’s clear.
  • As an RO myself, I wouldn’t ever have a problem with a shooter checking down range to make sure the range is clear, especially on a stage with solid walls.
  • At a local match we decided to play around with using see through walls that were parallel to the back-stop, and solid walls perpendicular to the backstop, and that seemed to work well, and make it easy for the RO to make sure there’s nobody down range.
Q2) On this same stage, it seems I ended up with 3 extra people on the stage following me at different points. SO, scorer/additional SO, 3 random people. On a stage with a thousand blind spots. What? Have you ever seen this? What if I had broken the 180? What if I had gone back for a target?
  • I dislike it when there’s a whole bunch of people following the RO down range, for the exact reason you mentioned.



So I have a match update and a Q&A question. I emailed you a while ago talking about being stuck in Sharpshooter and that I had a Tier2 match coming up. Well I pulled up my britches and dry practiced three days a week for the last two months. Won my division and got a match bump to EXPERT. Finally! So obviously practice works. My question is about motivation. Now that I reached my goal the thought of practicing three days a week seems….tedious. Any tips on staying motivated? Should my next goal be MASTER or should I set some smaller goals in the meantime? Is taking a month off such a bad thing?
  • I don’t think it’s a bad thing. You worked hard, and now if the thought of practice is tedious, taking a break is probably okay.
  • I’ve been reading this book, and while I can’t point to the exact page, there was a line in it about how people who are really good at things are really good because they’ve learned to love the process of getting better. It’s not just the glory of the win that’s pushing them to improve.


Hey Luke question for tonight,… how long will you spend working on a specific area like reloads in dry fire?
  • I don’t have any hard/fast rules for this. I generally move on whenever I’m feeling like I’m not being productive anymore, or when I’m really frustrated.

About Lucas

Editor/Head Honcho at Triangle Tactical. Lucas is a life long shooter and outdoorsman, avid concealed carrier and competitive shooter, and a lover of pork fat.

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