The title of the post says it all, actually – in competitive shooting, the best and greatest shooters are the best because they are extremely consistent. They’ve practiced every action from drawing, firing, and reloading to the point where their ingrained muscle memory allows them to perform physical actions with little to no variations during repetitions of the action. That allows the top shooters to minimize wasted movement, which then makes them faster.
In the above video, watch Dave Sevigny reload his gun – everything is done on the shortest path possible, so that he doesn’t waste any energy with excessive motion. The same goes for his actual movement. By taking the fastest line through the course, he minimizes lower body movment, allowing him to have a solid base to fire from.
With phsyical consistency, you also need mechanical consistency; meaning that your gun and gear have to be 100% reliable. I had a “mechanical” issue at a steel match this weekend, which added about 15 seconds to my time on a stage, and dropped me from what would have been approximately a 3rd place finish all the way to 6th. While a top 10 finish is nice, a top 5 finish would have been a much better way to start off the Steel season at MCF&G.
The problem with mechanical consistency is that while we as the shooter can control many of the factors that contribute to your guns and gear running flawlessly, not everything is 100% under your control (although mine was, I hadn’t cleaned my magazines since the last time I shot, and dirty magazine = malfunction in the gun). Sometimes, weird things happen to guns, and when you’re running high round counts, your statistical odds of a weird thing happening increase. However, there are things we can do to ensure that our equipment is as reliable as we can make it.
- Keep it clean – this includes your magazines (stupid mistakes), holster, magazine holders, and of course your gun itself. I try to clean my gun every 200 rounds at a minimum, and I usually clean it in between every match. Note: if you’re cleaning your match gun, make sure you test fire it after you clean it before you take it to a match.
- Replace parts regularly – magazine springs, recoil springs, magazine holders, etc. By keeping your parts fresh, you avoid any jams or malfunctions that would be caused by a worn out piece of gear.
- Keep records – starting this year, I’m keeping a record of every round I fire, whether it’s in practice or competition. That way, I can track round counts on various guns, and have a much more accurate idea of when I need to get them “in the shop” for serious maintenance.
Three simple steps, but they may save you a major mechanical headache at your next match.