The best laid plans of mice and men, they say – I had no fewer than 4 different events for last weekend fall through doing the course of the preceeding 3 months of planning, which meant that Saturday morning, I had no shooting to do. So I loaded up my XDM and headed out to Atlanta Conservation Club for their Steel Challenge match. Sure, it wasn’t a top-flight training session, or THE Steel Challenge, but at least I got to pull some triggers and practice for my upcoming major matches in Sep/Oct. I shot the XD “twice”, by which I mean I shot it in Production Division and then again in Limited Division. Double my round count, double the trigger time.
Overall, the match went much better than I expected. You can see the scores here. My runs as a “Production” gun were consistently faster than my Limited runs, and I ended up winning the centerfire pistol side of things. Actually, I took 1st and 3rd overall, with second going to an Open gun. I couldn’t be more pleased with my performance – I shot well, I was consistent out of the holster, and only one time did I miss the first plate, which turned into a throwaway run anyway.
However, it’s also important to maintain perspective. While I won the club match, it’s important to make sure that I’m not letting myself sit back and go “hey, that was pretty smokin’ fast” and then not try to improve. One of the stages we shot at the club’s match was the official Steel Challenge stage called Accelerator. The top pros in the world are able to provide me with the perspective that I need to remind myself to keep practicing. My total time on Accelerator was 19.68, which works out to an average run time of 4.92. That’s not too shabby, getting five clean hits from a Production style holster in under 5 seconds. At The Steel Challenge in California, Julie Golob finished second in Production division overall, and won High Lady for the division. Her total time for Accelerator? 12.95 seconds, for an average run time of 3.24 seconds for five clean hits from a Production style holster. In Steel Challenge, you shoot each stage 5 times, and throw out your slowest run. Her slowest run was 4.33 seconds; my faster run at Accelerator was 4.31 seconds.
For me, there’s a lot of value in comparing myself to the pros, as it helps me set benchmarks and goals for my performance. The moral of the story isn’t so much “compare yourself to the pros”, but rather to use the performance of shooters that you recognize as better than you to bring your own scores up. Setting realistic goals for yourself and then working to achieve those goals is not only satisfying, but a lot of fun.